After a long meeting with the editor of Alan’s series, John made his way out of the small coffee shop and around the corner just in time to bump into an elderly man with a funny mustache and a plaid hat hiding his eyes.
“Oh, pardon me sir.” Said John with a hand on the old man’s shoulder and the other holding the coffee he had almost spilt. “That was my fault for not watching where I was going.”
“That’s funny, I was watching where you were going since you left this morning and you still bumped into me.” Said the old man in a strange voice.
John squinted at him as the man lifted the hat and winked a familiar eye at him.
“Alan! What the devil are you doing out here! You can’t come out here! You’re dead!”
“Just taking a stroll, John! Relax! I’m in disguise! I’m not dead; I’m just old.”
“And what if someone were to notice you? Or if your disguise falls off? What would you do?” Asked John, frantically trying to get Alan to lower his hat.
Alan laughed, “I’d pretend to be someone else of course! Besides, you’re the one who told me to get out and live.”
John sighed loudly and looked around. Nobody was staring…yet.
“So how did the meeting go?”
“Um…well actually you’re not going to believe this, but your series is a smash hit! The first book is a #1 bestseller and topping all the major charts. In fact, they want the entire thing as soon as possible.” Said John.
“The entire series? But it’s not finished. I never completed it.”
John turned around and started to walk with Alan trailing behind him. “Well, I guess you’d better get on it. This is your big break after all. And even Stephen King himself wrote a positive review of your work.”
“But John I—Stephen King? Stephen King liked my book?”
John smirked at him and sipped his coffee. “I believe he used the words ‘compelling’ and ‘fun’.”
“Ha! Here I am dead and I’m just now living out my dreams!” Said Alan with a modest shrug.
“Your life is nothing if not full of sad ironies. At least this one will pay you…I mean me.”
Alan frowned at him under his ridiculous gray mustache. “You only get to cover the bills, John. The rest is mine to squander. Only the bills.”
From behind them a quirky voice rang out that sent a bolt of lightning down both of their spines, “John! John! Wait up!”
Both men were frozen still.
“I know! Think fast!” Alan mumbled.
They turned around to see a bouncy and particularly voluptuous brunette with a bright smile on her face and her eyes locked onto her fiancé. She threw herself at him; wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. Alan tried not to look distraught.
“Catherine! What are you doing out and about?” Asked John.
“I was just out shopping for Mum, but I saw you across the street so I thought I’d say hello. Who’s your friend?”
John struggled a moment before Alan spoke up in his strange character voice. “So you’re the Catherine I’ve heard so much about! Come here darling you’re much more beautiful than your description!”
While they hugged for an awkwardly long amount of time, John tried desperately to keep his eye from twitching at the sight of Alan’s hands planted firmly on her bottom.
“My name is Dr. Alexander Latisde. I’ve known John for many years since he was a wee little thing. No higher than your knees.”
Catherine was charmed and glanced over at her fiancé. “Well Dr. Latisde, I’m sure you are full of interesting stories about John!”
A look of horror spread over John’s face. Alan glanced up at him and grinned widely.
“Oh you have no idea!” He offered his arm to Catherine, who accepted, and left John sauntering just behind them with barely enough fortitude to handle the situation calmly. “There was once a time when he was just a boy and his mother and I found him rolling in a pile of manure.”
John crinkled his brow, “Oh come now, that’s not true!”
“Certainly is! His mother told me that everything he touched from that day on reeked of it. Even started calling him her little Sh—“
“That’s enough catching up!” Interrupted John. He took Catherine’s arm and pulled her away. “Now that you’re here Catherine, let’s go to that restaurant you were talking about last week. We’ll see you later Dr. Latisde!”
Alan chuckled to himself. “Alright you two love birds! Take care! Don’t step in anything smelly on the way there, Johnny boy!”
John hurried across the street with his fiancé in tow and a very angry expression turned back at Alan.
It felt good to laugh again if only at the expense of his life-long friend. Something about the fresh air was rejuvenating his spirit and the thought of his books being popular made his heart race. For once he was getting recognition he deserved, and being dead didn’t seem like much of a hindrance. He could live his life freely enjoying the fruits of his rewards without the pesky fandom. Without the millions of readers flocking to bookstores to have him sign a copy of his great work. Without the TV gigs and book promotions.
Alan turned around and stared at his disguised reflection in the glass window of a nearby shop. Suddenly it came to him. The sad irony that he would never truly be able to enjoy the credit for his work no matter how popular it became as long as he was dead.