Imagining Authors

Have you ever played that game where you just look at people and try to guess what their life is like? I did that today and had a lot of fun. My friend Daniel and I were on top of the tallest building in Melbourne, using the powerful binoculars they have up there. We were kind of bored, so I decided to pick someone on the street and guess what they were doing.

The man I saw wore a suit and tie, but it wasn’t quite expensive enough to suggest he worked an upper-class job. Merely that he wanted to impress whoever he was going to see. I decided that he was on his way to see some conveyancing lawyers near Highett so that he could purchase a new house. His name was Thomas, I assumed. Thomas Booker. That wasn’t his real name, because he was an author by profession, using a pseudonym. Tom writes psychological thrillers and makes enough money from it that he can finally buy a home.

But Tom never made it to the conveyancing solicitors. Later that day, he would be grabbed by men in a white van, all wearing ski masks. They would tie him up and demand that he write the next book of his famous Countdown trilogy. Although they seem like terrible criminals, they’re actually just deluded fans who think that reenacting a scene from Tom’s novels would be fun. Somehow, they expect that Tom will just laugh it off and appreciate the joke.

Things get a little out of hand, though, when he refuses to write for them. Scorned by their favourite author, who doesn’t seem to understand that it’s all just a big reference, they start to panic. They take Tom to their garage and leave him there. Thomas Booker is never heard from again.

“Woah, man,” Daniel said. “That’s a bit morbid. You sure you don’t want to come up with a happier story?”

I shrugged. “I guess so. He beats up the kidnappers and makes it to his appointment with the conveyancers just in time. Better?”