I don’t know nothing about writing no kids.


THE MUSE HAD BECOME convinced early on of one undeniable fact.

I had lost my mind.

I hadn’t misplaced it.

I had lost it.

He had wandered into the backyard at daybreak while the songbirds were singing and the blue jays were stealing every scattered speck of sunflower seed they could find in the feeder. The cardinals watched. The blue jays would rule the kingdom until the woodpecker arrived.

The Muse could not believe what he had just heard me say.

“I’ve got a kid in the novel I’m writing,” I said.

He laughed.

He thought I was kidding.

He hoped I was kidding.

I was dead solid serious.

“I don’t know nothing about writing no kids.

“As much as I know about writing love scenes,” I said.

“What do you know about writing love scenes?”


It may have been a rhetorical question.

The Muse had read my love scenes and given me great comfort and support.

“Throw the damn things out,” he said.

“I like them,” I said.

“Have you read the love scenes?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “I just write them.”

“Read them,” he said.

“Why should I?”

“You’ll throw them out,” he said.

And now I was writing about a kid.

The Muse grimaced.

I hoped it was because the coffee was bitter.

It wasn’t.”

“Mark Twain did all right with Huck Finn,” I said.

“It was Huck’s story.”

“Harper Lee did all right with Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird,” I said.

“It was Scout’s story,” he said.

I shrugged.

“What’s the novel?” the Muse asked.

“Deadline News.”

“Is it the kid’s story?”


“Throw the kid out,” he said.

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“The kid’s the only one who knows who the killer is,” I said.

“Let somebody out solve the murder,” the Muse said.


“Why not?”

“The kid hasn’t told anybody else.”

“You thought the whole thing up,” he said.

“I did.”

“Then you tell somebody else.”

“Can’t,” I said.

“Why the hell not?”

“The kid hasn’t told me either.”

“So you don’t know,” he said.

“I don’t know.”

“Then you better keep the kid around,” the Muse said.

“That’s what I think.”

“You know what I think?” he asked.


“I think you’re crazy.”

“It helps,” I said.

“It works for me, too,” he said.

The Muse stopped by the bird feeder and picked up a handful of sunflower seeds the blue jay had missed. He was chewing and spitting on his way past the roses and out of the garden.

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