Journal Entry from December 31, 2014

Dearest Journal,

Well, we did it. We’ve gone and made me more infamous than George Zimmerman and richer than Scrooge McDuck.

Ah, what a legendary year we’ve had. 2014 was what they call a banner year, whatever that means. As we tick down to midnight and the dawn of 2015, let us ruminate on the events that have shocked the world since we accomplished The Resolution we set one year ago today.

What Resolution, you ask?

The Resolution to become the most spectacularly successful writer this world has ever known. To impart such brilliance to the people that they would forever forget the names and works of such vaunted scribes as Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Dan Brown.

Remember, journal, earlier this year when my first thriller novel, published under the pseudonym Fred Colton, blitzkrieged into Barnes and Noble and outsold the Harry Potter series on Day 1, the Bible on Day 2, and finally, the Fifty Shades Trilogy on the Third Day?

Everything had changed. I put on a hoodie and sunglasses and withdrew my billions in royalties from my BOA checking account, closed it, and converted the currency into gold ingots at an awning-covered marketplace in a grubby alley in Los Angeles. By the time the goons from Internal Revenue caught up to me, I had renounced my American citizenship to avoid paying taxes on the loot and jetted off with my ingots to the Far Eastern metropolis of Seoul (pronounced “soul”).

Seoul, of course, is no more, ever since the Tubby Boy-King up north of the DMZ stopped crying wolf and started shelling the district of Gangnam and its style as well, something the rest of the planet has secretly prayed and hoped for since 2012, so was it really a tragedy? War was upon us; the Kim dynasty was done talking the talk, now was woking the wok.

I barely escaped with my ingots and my life as mushroom clouds bloomed over the Orient. I now prowl the high seas on my thousand-foot yacht, the SS Blinking Cursor. That’s a thousand feet in both length and height, by the way. The Cursor is a floating citadel of luxury. Adel, my Persian captain, takes twelve-hour shifts at the helm. His twin brother Rob takes the other twelve of each day. We sail, through squalls and doldrums, as I put black marks on white paper and polish my Pulitzers.

My family and friends, of course, know nothing of my good fortune. They still believe the official alibi: that I died in a “snowblowing” accident. That’s the euphemism for “drug overdose” that they told to the mourners at the wake. A diabolical ruse, achieved by dusting baking soda onto the nose of a tall mannequin I stole from J.C. Penny’s and giving the medical examiner a few gold ingots to verify my death.

Now, thanks to facial reconstruction and an excruciating height reduction procedure, I stand a full five foot two, Literature’s reigning Napoleon, only with one key difference; there will be no Waterloo for this Emperor.

This day, New Year’s Eve, has so far been like any other. Up bright and late at 3:30 p.m. My blind British butler staff serves me toast and eggs and coffee. The toast: handmade out of grains from the same private Belgian wheat field where my beer hops come from. The eggs: each its mother hen’s firstborn. The coffee beans: flown in each afternoon direct from Colombia via my platinum-plated Sikorsky S-76C helicopter.

I shower in desalinated seawater, then write from 5 p.m. to 10. “Writing” involves a team of masseuses kneading my shoulders and calves as I verbally dictate each word to my personal assistant and transcriptionist and on-again-off-again paramour Monica, who I call Pepper Potts, who never corrects me. She inks my words into moleskin canvas using calligraphy techniques I paid for her to acquire in a Grecian monastery. Disembodied hands feed me peeled grapes as I put together each sentence. Everyone in the room but Pepper and myself is blind; plagiarism would sink this ship.

The world awaits my second novel, out next month. Even illiterate people are excited for the release. (Pepper Potts narrates the audiobook versions…no, narrates is the wrong word for her sultry voice, she breathes them.)

It’s time for the soiree and we have just dropped anchor off the coast of the Balkans. As guests chopper in and giddily flock to their staterooms. I robe myself for the first time today and stride the varnished teak decks of the Cursor with an intrepid cub reporter from the leftist rag known as The New York Times hanging off my elbow.

“Maximus,” he gasps, “do you think your days are numbered? I’ll be out of a job within the decade. Nobody reads anymore.”

I stick up a finger as I pause for a selfie with Obama, and another with the Pope.

“But books will never die,” I flatly respond.

The cub reporter’s response is in the form of a smarmy smile and a hand with which he sweeps the ballroom. My chest tightens as I realize he’s right. There is no conversation among guests, just the thump-slap-thump of Kanye West spinning his own hits in the DJ booth in the corner. Every celebrity here is tweeting from a smartphone or tablet or some other form of glowing rectangle. Or they’re using these infernal rectangles to watch videos of themselves on YouTube or Instagram photos of their monogrammed napkins.

“This is the future! All colors and pictures…” says the cub. “No more words.”

I drain my beer stein and toss it over my shoulder into the Aegean. Curtis, my glassblower, hands a new one to Veronique, my full-time bar wench, who fills up the frosty mug and hands it to Timothy, my pet panda bear, who carries my refill to me. I kiss him on the forehead and take a long pull on my beverage.

Could this be my Waterloo? Will these human peons ever…stop reading? Are we re-engineering our minds to no longer seek out stories of the written form? The thought too uncomfortable to bear, I order the cub reporter to be weighed down with gold ingots and thrown over the side.

Then I order security to confiscate everyone’s phones and tablets and throw them overboard, and to place books in everyone’s hands instead. You would think I had just strangled a box of puppies. The shock is total. My gathered zombies don’t know what to do with the books. The withdrawals begin. Akon holds his book upside down and squints at it. Anne Hathaway shakes hers like it’s a piggy bank. Justin Bieber would apparently rather stab himself in the eyes with the shards of a smashed champagne flute than look at words on the page. To that, I say, good, because I didn’t invite him here and yet somehow, he’s here. The rest of the guests shriek and sprint for the rails and pitch themselves into the frothy sea to retrieve their precious rectangles.

Well, Dear Journal, I think we’re screwed.

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