It’s a tough life being a writer.

Waiting for a Train on the way to God knows where.
Waiting for a Train on the way to God knows where.

It’s a tough life. That’s what he said as he waited for the train to come rolling into the Wichita station.

He was a surly little man with a head of full brown curly hair.

Clean shirt.

It was blue with green checks and had been both starched and pressed.

His trousers were black and had a lot of rayon mixed with the wool blend.

His blazer was brown.

From a distance it looked like leather.

He looked out of place.

Train riders were wrinkled folks.

“What’s tough about it?” I asked.

“My job.”

“What do you do?”

“I generally need to keep it a secret.”

I arched an eyebrow.

He shrugged.

“It’s my mama,” he said. “She doesn’t want anybody to know.”

“Why not?”

He leaned forward in his chair, pulled a chunk of chewing gum from the sole of his shoe, and said, “I’m a writer.”

“That’s an honorable job,” I said.

“Not for mama.”

“What do you write?”

“Fiction.”

“What’s wrong with fiction?”

“Mama’s a real religious woman,” he said.

“Most mothers are.”

“She’s a ten commandment woman,” he said.

“The ten commandments don’t say anything bad about writing,” I told him.

“Have you read them lately?”

I shook my head. “It’s been a while.”

“I break the wrong commandment,” he said

“Which one?”

“I told you I write fiction,” he said.

I nodded.

He sighed.

“I tell lies,” he said. “I tell lies, and people believe them.”

I thought he might cry.

He did, too.

“Where you headed?” I asked.

“To prison,” he said.

I must have looked surprised.

“I’m on my way to visit mama.”

“I thought we was religious, God-fearing woman,” I said.

“She is,” he said. “And when I wrote my first book, she went a little crazy,” he said.

“What happened?”

“She read it, went out, and robbed liquor store.”

“Why would she do that?”

“I’m her baby boy,” he said.

“So?”

“She didn’t want me to go to hell alone.”

I write fiction, too, but my mama always told people I was still writing gardening and travel for Southern Living Magazine. It seemed like a better place to be.

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