I was at the Elks Lodge the other night, which is another way of saying that I was drinking. That’s basically what you do there.
Well, okay–that, and hurry to the bathroom before your incontinence makes a right mess, cough the dust out of your lungs, lecture young folk about how much better the world was before lighting fire and motorcars, and contemplate your own impending mortality as it unspools before you.
They’re old, you see–that’s the joke. But seriously, super crusty.
Anyhoo, I’m shambling toward the bathroom, as one does after they’ve consumed copious amounts of cheap bourbon, and out of nowhere–wham! Even now, couldn’t tell you how it happened or why, but a major plot point I’d been struggling against as I’m revising Sophistication just smacks me over the head. A pure epiphany. I actually stop in my tracks, pull up my iPhone, and start into a note.
Just then, my phone rings and it’s from a friend who left the club minutes ago. He wouldn’t be calling me unless it was important. I know that. Of course I do. Even so, I stare at my mobile for several seconds as I consider whether or not to risk it. Despite my drunken, stupid state, I still know that any diversion, however brief, might allow this major plot revision to slip away unharnessed.
Begrudgingly, I answer the call, anyway. It’s a good thing I did, too, because it turns out the poor fool can’t find his car keys. I scurry back to help him and several minutes pass as we scour the nearby library room, overturning couch cushions and upending stacks of papers and magazines, for anything that might allow him to hit the road.
Eventually, he finds them–in his backpack all along, naturally.
Meanwhile, that perfect tweak, that unfathomable fix–the very thing that was sure to draw every narrative arc of my novel together…
That shit’s gone.
Disappeared. Vanished from my head.
For thirty terrifying minutes, I stumble around the Elks Lodge in a panic as I try to retrieve the epiphany. This is a fairly involved process that sees me retracing steps, mental and physical, in order to jar the memory back into existence. Most of this time–not gonna lie–I’m cursing my friend.
Eventually, thank all the gods, it came back. I think I was in the bathroom when it happened, and that still didn’t stop me from taking a note with shaky hands.
Point of this short story? I dunno. Maybe it’s never put your friends before your novel. Or perhaps it’s don’t drink shitty bourbon. Could also be don’t be an alcoholic.