the great american novel

Harrison Lattaway typed the last two sentences on his five-hundred and twenty-six page manuscript, which read:

Their reflection shimmered due to the light brush of the wind on the lake until it was scattered by a medium-sized pebble, tossed casually into the water by Miranda. Their image may have been interrupted, but their constant love remained.

After punching the last key, Harrison hand-rolled the sheet of paper out of his manual typewriter and added it, face-down, to the stack of papers which sat to his left on a makeshift writing desk. He breathed a sigh of relief and leaned back in his wooden writing chair for a moment.

The addition of the final page to the stack marked the completion of his novel, bringing an end to a twenty-seven month odyssey for the newly-minted writer. He had been a full-time writer for that period of time — his current muse was his brown-haired twenty-six year old girlfriend, Charlotte Caster. It was a love story for the ages, written with depth and grace not seen in at least a hundred years.

Prior to ‘becoming’ a writer, Harrison had worked in business — running his own consulting firm. He had given that life up to pursue his dream — a common one, to be sure — of writing the ‘Great American Novel.’ Harrison, unlike everyone else who tried, had actually accomplished the goal.

Harrison rose out of his chair and walked to his shower, turning the knob all the way to the right to allow for maximum water temperature. To lean forward at the finish line, he had undertaken a two-day writing bender (writing for thirty-six out of forty-eight hours), and the shower was much-needed. He stayed under the stream for a full fifteen minutes, water spraying over him. He was soaking, scrubbing and scraping… smearing shampoo, sud-sing soap — he gave himself the works. It worked; after he washed away a couple days of body-funk and twenty-seven months of accumulated fatigue all that remained was a high-spirited feeling of exhilaration.

Harrison Lattaway had done it! He had written a masterpiece.

Prior to beginning work on the book, Harrison had moved into a hovel — a studio apartment in downtown San Mateo, California, situated above a smoky dive-bar. He made the move to cut his costs — at the outset of the project, he didn’t know if writing the novel would take him twenty-seven months or five years. The small apartment had a cramped bathroom — but Harrison didn’t care — especially not at the moment. Enjoying the shower, Harrison didn’t realize the curtain was hanging partially outside the stall. Water pooled just outside on the tile floor.

Clean and bright-red (from the hot water), Harrison stepped out of the shower and reached for his beige towel. His right foot, tragically, landed on the small water-puddle that sat nearly-invisible on the tile floor. There was no traction for his foot when it landed, none. His foot — and then his entire leg — shot out from under him. He pinwheeled backward, slamming his head on the bathroom counter first. Next, he cracked it — ‘thwack!’ — on the tile floor. Blood oozed from his open wound and accumulated on the tile.

Harrison Lattaway never moved again. A minute or two later, he was dead.


Harrison Lattaway’s body was discovered a week later (following a police wellness check initiated by his mother, Lucia).

Depth & Deliverance, the ‘Great American Novel,’ was discarded — two weeks after Harrison Lattaway’s death — by a hurried landlord who had re-rented the run-down apartment to a new tenant, a smarmy little rat-fuck who was trying to get a job working in the censorship department at Facebook. The landlord had filled three big garbage bags with Harrison Lattaway’s belongings (including the typewritten manuscript) and chucked them in a green dumpster that sat outside the building. The bags were taken away the following morning by city services. A week after the manuscript was thrown away, Harrison’s mother, through the police, got in touch with the landlord to inquire about it. Still grieving her son’s death, she specifically asked the man about any notebooks or papers he may have found in the apartment — the landlord replied, “I didn’t see anything like that, ma’am. Sorry.”

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