Surgery of Hobart Warfare
* A Tribute


Photo by Judy Wolf

The W.O.T.S.

(The Writer On Tour Secretly)

Part 2

by Matthew Simmons

The crowds at my readings are very tiny. They don’t know anything about me and never ask questions. Reporters from local papers sometimes ask to schedule short interviews, but they never call me back. I’m eating cereal out of a box every night, alone in my cheap motel room, and I’m frustrated.

I’ve decided to start cultivating the bad kind of literary attention. I’m hoping it will help. I’ve been telling crowds my literary heroes are John Kennedy Toole and Breece D’J Pancake, young suicides. It’s a cry for help, or attention, or something.

I request whiskey from the events folks at stores. Sometimes I try to cry before I come in. 1’ve covered my arms in bruises, thinking maybe people will think they are track marks. But, I’ve never seen track marks, except in movies, so they probably just look like bruises.

This sucks and I’m not sure what to do about it. I’m a writer, and you’d think I’d be able to create a personal fiction, one that would at least interest me, if not others. But, I’m stuck with this bland, archetypical tortured artist story.

I start soliciting new ideas from friends. Nelson tells me I should pretend like it’s 1964, read up on it, you know. Answer questions appropriately. Buy the clothes. Use the slang.

Aaron says I should go as a ghost, wearing a bed sheet with holes cut out for my eyes, saying boo a lot. I could get some chains to rattle.

Amanda thinks I should act like night is day, and day is night. I should pretend 8 PM (when I usually read) is 8 AM. “Boy, it sure is early,” I should say. “Can’t believe you have me reading this early in the morning.”

My brother Jeff doesn’t have any ideas. Neither does his wife, Janet.

Dawn thinks I should tell everyone I have magic shoes that make me a really amazing dancer. And then, when people ask me to show them, I can jump around like a freakin’ idiot, but act like I’m totally convinced I’m an amazing dancer. Not a bit self-conscious.

I’m going with Dawn’s idea. Twinkle toes, I’ll tell them to call me. Matthew and his magic shoes. Here he is.

I think it’s really going to work, and my book tour is going to completely turn around. And, I also think, even though I almost never dance in public, I’m going to be pretty good. I don’t think I’ll look like an idiot at all. I bet I dance so fantastically, people will be convinced I really do have magic shoes. Then public radio stations will call me back, and I’ll get some pre-reading publicity that will start to fill my reading halls with the curious, and the lovers of good fiction and good dancing.

I think maybe it will change more lives than my own. The way my feet glide across the carpeting at the book store will free the hips of the folks in their seats. They will swing and swing their souls. The lights will flash, and the music inside each and every one of them will burst out like a popping soap bubble, gleaming with a rainbow of colors. My magic shoes will start a nationwide dance party, a new sort of freedom.

George Clinton will write a song about me.

(This story originally appeared on Surgery of Modern Warfare)


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