He jumped out of bed to grab the telephone right next to the window. He had to pull up his arm and hold it in front of his eyelids; the morning sun shone right in his eyes. He made a strange face, bending all his face muscular together. It was seven in the morning. “Hello,” he said, while he was trying to find a cigarette under the sheets of paper on his desk.
He really needed a cigarette; it was not his time of the day, he was already picturing himself climbing out of the window on the balcony, where he’d been smoking a morning cigarette for the last three years. The earpiece, now stuck between his shoulder and his chin, began to take over his sweat from a short sleep.
“Listen, I’m calling to tell you they kind of wanna change the deal.”
He sat down, the cigarettes were out of his head completely. He looked at his desk, mostly it was bills lying around, but more important was the signed contract, placed cautiously on top of the papers. His signature had looked so peacefully under it, all of these months, but now it seemed to fade away.
“Listen, man, I got it all here. They can’t change it, man. I signed it.”
“Well, if it will not sell like this, they don’t have to bring it out. Maybe twenty copies, that’s it. Not sure if you’d want that.”
He’d hired his agent to get his stuff through, but all he ever did was giving in. When he first started, when he decided to get into this, he had had this romantic idea that it was still all about the writing. But literature was the least this people were thinking about.
“Short stories don’t sell anymore. You gotta accept that.”
“Don’t dare to call me again at fucking seven in the morning with this shit. I still am half-asleep.”
He bit into his finger flesh nervously, he might be a bit impolite, he’d give him that. But all he was telling him was that they wanted him to take the script and make it all bigger. It all had to be bigger these days, nobody saw the beauty in the detail anymore. It had to be loud and flashy and glamorous and there was no real subtetly behind anything.
“Just take that black chick’s story and change her into a white girl. Make it two-hundred pages.” his manager said.
He wanted to kick him, kick him real hard in the face.
“Frankly,” he said, “I wouldn’t do it. Not even for you, man. Fuck you, man. Fuck you all.”
He hung up and found some half-smoked butt behind his laptop. While smoking, he decided to dress himself. Over his sleeping suit, he pulled his grey bath rob. Enough for the day. He wouldn’t go out anyway. His work was waiting here, at his desk. Three-thousand words, that would be it. It was seven in the morning and it was him and him alone. No deadline, no contract. Him and the words and some expired seafood in the refrigerator.
That was all it really took.