Monday, July 13, 2015

Hemingway changes my copy.

Two men came in and sat at the table next to me. The first had a small white face with close-together features as if his nose had a gravitational pull and everything was sliding toward it. The second man looked like the first, as if they were brothers.

They wore bowler hats. Their overcoats were buttoned across their chest and pulled. They were a size or two sizes too small. They each had on black leather gloves that they did not remove.

“Hey bright boy,” the first one said.

“Good morning,” I answered.

“Oh, a real bright boy. ‘Good morning,’” he sneered.

“Come over to the table.”

“Why?” I said.

The second one pivoted in his seat and looked at me. “You’re a real bright boy,” he said. They still hadn’t removed their gloves.

“Come over to the table,” the first one repeated. “We need to talk to you.”

“We’re talking now.”

“Come over to the table.”

I rolled my chair over to the round table where they were sitting. They each had black bowler hats on, matching their dark herringbone overcoats and black leather gloves.

“Your laptop,” said the second one. “Bring it.”

I wheeled back to my table and then back to where they were sitting.

“We need to change some copy. Now.” He stretched his right hand in the tight leather of his glove.

“What’s wrong with the copy?”

“We need to change some copy,” the second one repeated.

I opened my laptop and pressed a key to light the screen.

“What’s wrong with the copy.”

“Oh, you’re a bright boy,” the first one said.

“You should listen. Not argue.”

“I can’t make changes to the copy if I don’t know what’s wrong with it.”

“You’re a real bright boy.”

The second man reached into the pocket of his overcoat. He took out a sheet of paper. There was typing all over it. The typing was crossed out and marked.

“Here are the changes, bright boy.”

I looked at the paper. If there were 20 typed sentences on the page, the hand-written marking had made all 20 worse.

“Be a bright boy and make these changes.”

The two men stood up. Their black gloves were still on and their overcoats still buttoned.

“By noon, bright boy.”

They left as silently as they had come.

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