If you are going to be a writer

“I believe I will write a novel.”

He was sitting in a pool of sunlight recovering from the weekend when the old priest suddenly made this declaration.

He said nothing in retort. The sun was too warm for it. It was the rare winter day that was like this. Outside his private pool of sunlight the world swam cold and blue like the oceans of the poles. Inside the pool was serene and Mediterranean calm, as still and striking blue with dead calm as the day all around.

“Did you hear what I said?”

“I heard what you said.”

“Don’t you have anything to say about it?”

“I hope not.”

The old priest chuckled. “You don’t approve?”

“Is it mine to approve?”

“Maybe. Maybe I value your advice and input.”

“Do you value iron pyrite?”

“Don’t put yourself down. You of all people. From you I can get honesty. From all these other fegelehs, bupkis.”

“Have you told anyone else your desire to write a novel?”

“I wouldn’t say it’s a desire. But no, I haven’t told anyone else.”

“You shouldn’t. You should keep that kind of thing to yourself. These goddam heathen swine, once they hear of it, they will tear out your innards and string them around the lamp posts like holiday lights.”

“Lights. That’s a synonym for innards, you know.”

“Don’t joke about this.”

He sat upright in his chair and took a cigarette from the pack that was on the table. The old priest was not going to let this go. Now the day was going to be about this novel. This desire to write a novel. The desire to write. Desire. What is desire. What does it mean to desire. What is a novel. What is writing. What is what. What is is.

“If you are going to be a writer you have to stop pointing out the clever things that people say and simply write them down.”

“I didn’t bring a pen or notebook with me.”

“If you are going to be a writer you need to carry a pen and notebook. Especially if you are going to be around me.”

“You do say a lot of clever things.”

“No, I don’t. But I do say things that someone should write down.”

“Maybe you should write a novel.”

“Listen to me carefully. I value our friendship a great deal. But if you ever say anything like that to me again, I’ll kill you.”