I placed it down on the table with a sigh. A pen was a fine instrument when it’s used. Kvothe plinked away on his lute. He sang a moving tune of a boy’s hardships as a beggar in the uncaring city of Tarbean. Gimli and other dwarves gathered in my living room and chimed their approval at all the best parts.
Sam Gamgee nudged Frodo. “A fine tale, isn’t it Mr. Baggins? I’m moved to tears.”
I had to agree. It was just a shame that not a single copy of my book had gained the same attention from my party guests.
There was still hope.
My cat purred, hissed—then purred again. Arya Stark had somehow cornered him in the family room. He hissed again and Arya’s hands quickly retreated. My cat cracked a smile.
I tried to break the ice. “Perhaps you should attempt that blindfolded.”
She scowled. “Winter is coming, craven,” and stormed off.
Okay, so my joke was awkward. But I didn’t think it warranted that kind of response. And what exactly did she mean, anyway?
Gully Foyle sat alone in the dining room, planted in a high-backed and eyes up at the popcorn ceiling. Brooding, sure, but there was potential to move a book here.
“…Deep space is my dwelling place…,” he murmured.
“The Sound of Blue your destination.” I smiled and pointed out at the kitchen table where unsigned copies stood stacked twenty high. He laughed and jaunted over to where the dwarves begged Kvothe for another story.
“They won’t read it, you know.” Doctor Avrana Kern’s hollow voice rang out from inside her sentry pod. The pod’s metal bulk filled the hallway leading back to the kitchen. Normally, I’d consider the space container a fascinating spectacle. She was sealed inside, no better off than a sardine stuck in a tin. That didn’t stop her from taking a poke at me. “Perhaps they’ve seen better?”
“Go can yourself, Avrana.”
“You’re humor certainly hasn’t evolved.” She could be right. I tried not to let her remarks bother me and nearly tripped as I squeezed past her.
I had one last trick up my sleeve. A knock came at the kitchen door. I signed for the delivery and convinced myself that this would be a winner. Then I excitedly stuck my head into the living room and cleared my throat. The lute went silent. Everyone turned and stared, blank faces all of them. Even the kind Mr. Gamgee impatiently tapped his foot.
“Umm…the beer has arrived.”
Smiles spread across their faces and a stampede knocked me over. I could hear opened cans hissing and lots of back slapping from the dwarves. The kitchen was packed. I struggled for a potato chip and someone protested, moving the bowl out of reach. At least they were standing next to my book.
The book-signing party finished with a whirlwind. Gully had been carried out too many beers later. Crumbs littered the foyer. Empty cans had been wedged into sofa cushions. And on the kitchen table, all twenty of my books stood stacked and forgotten.
I shrugged my shoulders and picked up a broom. Two sweeps and the air suddenly grew cold. Really cold. A hooded figure loomed in the doorway. Dark energy swirled and its glowing eyes seemed to pierce my soul. A Black Rider. This uninvited abomination was late to the party.
A bony hand reached out. All I could think was who would feed the cat after my soul was sucked into some orcish void. The monstrous appendage grabbed a book from the stack and the pen.
I quickly scribbled Better luck next time, Sauron! inside the front cover. Not the wittiest thing to say, but I was under pressure. “It’s eight dollars and—never mind. Enjoy.” The Black Rider shook like it was laughing. Then the undead being gave me a thumbs up, vanishing with its copy.
The house still remained a mess. It would take hours to wipe up all the cheese dip. And I think someone flooded the bathroom. But there were only nineteen copies of my book on the table. Sure, I had given one away. Its marketing strategy—devious, unplanned, but strategy. If the Black Rider liked it, all its enthralled minions would have to buy one.
Book-signing party a success!
A special shout-out to my friends: Frodo Baggins, Sam Gamgee and Gimli (The Lord of the Rings), Kvothe (The Name of the Wind), Arya Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire), Doctor Avrana Kern (Children of Time) and Gully Foyle (The Stars My Destination.)