In his later years, Mark Twain invested all he had and more into the creation of a printing press. It was to help bring us into the modern era, and erase the days of moveable type. It was a perfectly sound idea that any reasonable investor would have taken on, as the return would be unimaginable. His handyman failed. The machine worked, temporarily, but then would require hours of restoration. It was simply too fragile to be practical. Twain went bankrupt, and took to giving lectures as a way of earning a living. At this, with his superlative wit, he prospered.
Larry Hines on the other hand, did not. Larry was a regular at all of the open-poetry nights, and tried to book himself at any literary event that would have him. His life was consumed with the idea that one day he would be a great writer. Better than Twain, Faulkner, Hemingway, or even goddamned Thurber. "Screw the beats," he thought. He would outlive them in every way, and create a cannon which made their passion seem as though it was an afternoon spent staring at the walls in a one-room apartment.
The problem was that Larry could not write, because Larry could not live. Larry was too obsessed with his future to be present in his now. He knew the scent of two blossoming trees, the way the Mississippi looked at dawn, and only the embrace of one Keri Canter, a high school sweetheart. Larry had never loved and lost enough to cry until his nose bled. He had never driven for two days straight because he didnít know where he was supposed to be. He had never sunk so low that he had to give himself a vodka enema, because the ulcers simply hurt too much.
Larry was now 42 and still lived above his parents' garage, because, "I canít beat the rent." Larryís heart had been tugged at on several occasions. But when it was rejected, he simply sighed and went on. "No use crying over spilt milk," he thought. "Iíll just write a poem about that dress Keri wore 23 years ago." This would satiate Larry. The idea of fighting for love, a home or a life never occurred to him, as he might be too distracted to write about the enrapturing scent of the Dogwood in late spring.
Sadly, Larry will die next Wednesday at exactly 9:37AM. A pile of oily rags will ignite in his parents' garage. Larry will be engulfed in flames while in bed. He will experience the most powerful and debilitating emotional response he has ever had. And it is a shame that he will never be able to write about it.