I come down the stairs into the first floor of my dingy and cluttered house, but I am surprised to see that it is more cluttered than usual. Someone has set out a semicircle of mismatched chairs and filled them with a motley assortment of figures who I recognize but can’t quite place.
“What’s all this?” I say. I only came downstairs for a glass of Coke, to raise my screaming kidneys to a new tenor, after all, and certainly not expecting anyone else to be in the place I shared with me, myself, and I.
“What do you think? It’s an intervention, chief.” Leaning on the wall near the front door is my muse, the personification of my creative impulses, in a greasy A-shirt and boxer shorts. Ironically, he’s not even an original idea, but one shamelessly jacked from Stephen King.
“An intervention?” I say. “What for? I don’t even drink!”
“I suppose you’ll need an intervention for that too, sooner or later,” says my muse, sucking noisily on a half empty beer bottle. “But that’s not what this is about.”
“You write lousy endings for your characters, when they even get the dignity of an ending.” The speaker is Vasily Albanov, the Russian star of a science-fiction novel I wrote and which successfully accumulated 75 rejection slips. “We’re here to intervene and talk about it.”
“What? I don’t do that,” I say, incredulous.
“No? You basically made me watch the love of my life die, after betting beaten up first by her and then by monsters, and all I got was a lousy ‘maybe things will get better from here on out’ ending looking up at the stars!” says Albanov.
“You left me with my hometown destroyed, my friends and family and allies scattered, and no clear way forward, you miserable polecat!” chimes Virginia McNeill, the heroine of a revisionist western I’m in the middle of revising.
“I gave you an epilogue!” I say, waving my arms. “It was very optimistic!”
McNeill makes a derisive farting noise with her mouth. “Suggesting that things are somehow going to get better for my great-grandchildren is about as optimistic as Schindler’s List,” she snorts.
“I got basically the same ending, except I had to be content with a goddamn dream,” adds Peg Gregory, the anti-heroine of a space opera trunk novel I tried to salvage years back. “I was abandoned by my selfish excuses for friends, left to take the rap for what was all the fault of an inconceivable alien lifeform, and all I got was a goddamn dream? Most soap operas get better than that!”
“Look, I-” I begin.
“At least you got an ending!” The other side of the room speaks up, led by a scruffy and sullen-sounding youth I recognize as Eric Cummings, the snarky hero of what I had imagined would be a very serious literary novel. “You gave up on me maybe a quarter of the way through!”
“I wrote you an ending!” I counter. “A very heartwarming one! In advance!”
“It was the same as the one you wrote for Peg!” Eric groused. “You stole an ending from your trunk novel to paste somewhere else and thought that no one would notice!”
The chorus was joined by the hero and heroine of my unfinished action novel, the hardboiled protagonist of my noir novel, and a host of others. The room was such a cacophony I could barely hear.
“I’d break out the hors d’oeuvres, buddy, and fast,” whispered my muse from behind me. “This intervention’s about to turn ugly otherwise.”