The Preoccupied Richard Miller

“Thank you for coming on the show Mr. Miller,” Barbara Lopes said in a soft voice, from across a desk, and behind a large microphone, nearly obscuring Richard Miller’s view of her entirely.

“Thank you for having me Barbara.”  He smiled nervously and gave a slight nod of the head that was barely more than a tic.

“In your newest book, Premium Thursday, you write about kids who are transitioning from college into semi-professional jobs, but maintain—or perhaps are trying to maintain—their college party routine.”  Richard nodded along as Barbara talked.  “What inspired you to write about this?”

“Um… Well, I myself only worked a regular job for about six months before my first book came out, and then my life became devoid of most schedules, with the exception of self-imposed ones.  So I suppose, that I am similar to these kids in this book, and I’m a bit fascinated with the process of transitioning from college life to real—full blown adulthood.”  His voice was a little more nasal than he thought listeners were probably used to, and he cringed at the sound of his own voice through the headphones he had been provided.

“That makes sense.”  Barbara shuffled through some index cards for a second before resuming.  “You have said in the past, that everyone of your books has a character in it that is you, almost a carbon copy placed into the story.  There has been a lot of speculation that in this book, the character of the Brandon Hull, the CEO of Bombard is the ‘you’ within the story.”

Richard smiles, knowing that he has been caught.  “Yes, Brandon is me.  He’s a guy who lucked into starting his own website, found more success than he’s probably worthy of, and never had to hold a real job.”

“Yes, that makes sense.”  Barbara nods.  Her face becomes more grave.  “Brandon dies by the end of the novel, in a rather horrific way.”

“Ah! —Spoilers, Barbara,” he says feigning offense.

Barbara smiles.  “Sorry to all of the listeners out there who haven’t read the book yet, but I can assure you that isn’t much of a spoiler.  In fact the reason that I bring it up,” she shifts so that she can see him better from behind her microphone, “is that you have killed the character based on you, in every single book so far.  …And they’ve all been brutal, graphic, and otherwise unnecessary to the story within the book.  In this one, the outcome is not at all altered by the death of Brandon, and yet you have him killed by a falling air conditioning unit.”

Richard laughs.  “Well, you need to be careful when installing those units.  They can be very dangerous, especially in the city.”

“What I’m most curious about, is why you kill a character based on yourself in every book?”  Barbara is still soft spoken, but her glare—that only Richard can witness—is anything but.

“I find it fun.  I don’t know.”  Richard rolls his eyes, hoping that there won’t be more interrogation.  “I know there has been a lot of speculation about it online, but it’s not really something I think about, I just find it interesting to me, personally.”

“You don’t think that it is something to be concerned about?”

“Not really, lots of people die in literature, and in movies.  Steve Buscemi dies in like every one of his movies, and no one thinks twice about it.”  He leans back in his chair, his face far away from the mic.

“Steve Buscemi doesn’t write the scripts for his movies.”

“Exactly, people like the Coen Brothers do, and they tend to like killing Steve Buscemi.”  Richard laughs a humorless cackle.

“So, there is nothing wrong with you… with you writing about this?”

“I don’t think so.  I think a lot about death, about the best ways to die, about the worst ways to die, and ultimately when I think of something that I think is interesting I decide to use it in a book, and if I do it to the character of me, I don’t have to do it to any of the good characters.”

Barbara gave a polite laugh, and moved on.  “This book deals in part with the idea of not only these characters transitioning from young adulthood to working adulthood, but also the transition the generation is making upon what that itself entails…”

Richard answered the rest of the questions—much dryer and academic questions—without much humor or passion.  He hated being asked about the deeper meanings in interviews, because the person asking the question already knew the metaphor, or whatever else he tried to be subtle about and was really just showing off to the audience that he or she had been clever enough to figure it out.  It was a game that Richard hated, but he knew it was part of his job.

A few minutes later, the segment ended, and he removed the headphones, and made sure he wasn’t at all wired, and got up and walked over to Barbara, shaking her hand before walking out of the studio.

Josh, the producer who had helped set up the whole interview with Richard’s agent, met him at the door to thank him again for coming in.  Richard was much more comfortable with Josh, with all of the Joshes behind the scenes than the “On-Air” talent.

Richard stepped out into the early afternoon air, and it felt crisp and fresh.  Just cold enough to perk up his body, as he walked across the front walkway wondering if he had made of an ass out of himself—something that he worried about every time that he was interviewed.  He stepped onto the street, while reaching into his pocket to get out his car keys, making his way across to the parking garage.

He felt an immediate rush of overwhelming pain in his left shoulder and hip, followed by a moment of blurriness, a moment of darkness, and then nothing.  The courier service—who had been carrying three copies of Richard’s book, unbeknownst to the driver— had managed to immediately stop his heart.  The autopsy showed that he was likely dead before he hit the ground.  Had he lived even five more seconds he would have been pissed off that he hadn’t written about this type of death yet.

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