So sayeth the book

“Oh Trent!” Rebecca sighed, “why does it have to be this way? Why can’t we be together? Why can’t you leave that crummy little private detective’s office behind and come to New Hampshire with me? The estate is lovely this time of year, and I am sure Daddy will approve of you when he sees what a straight shooting, stand up kind of guy you are underneath all that city dirt!”

Trent Damon took a long drag off his Old Docklands cigar, then let the smoke out slowly.

“I’m sorry, toots. ” he said. “But I’m just not written that way. ”

“What do you mean?”

“Every story has a writer, baby doll, and ours is written by someone who defines me as a tough, no-nonsense private dick who works fast, hits hard, and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The kind of guy that every woman wants but none can keep. Thanks to the author, I am stone that just has to keep on rolling free no matter what. So it would never work out between us, baby. Sooner or later, I would leave you in the lurch, and your whole fairy tale rich girl world would fall apart. I don’t want that, and neither do you. So let’s just agree to say that we had some laughs, some adventures, and some very pleasant evenings, and part ways like two ships going in opposite direction, okay? Besides… if I stick with you, who’ll seduce me in the sequel?”

Trent turned that crooked little schoolboy grin on her, and of course, she melted.

“Oh, I suppose you’re right. After all, I’m written to be a sheltered little rich girl fresh out of college who falls in love with the first real man she ever meets. Surely someone like you knows better than a silly little thing like myself. But I can’t help wondering… why can’t it be different? Do we really have no free will? Are we destined to do whatever the author tells us we do, with no room for what we want or need?”

“Yes!” said a somewhat annoyed voice from all around them.

“Look, ya dizzy broad, the only way we could have free will is if the author wrote us that way!”

Trent stood up and glared all around him. “You hear that, you cheap hack? Only if the AUTHOR got up off his fat ass and WROTE US THAT WAY! Do I have to draw you a fucking diagram?”

“Don’t look at me!” said that omnipresent voice. “I have plans for you two. Rebecca should be sobbing in the back of a limo by now and you should be three fingers deep in a bottle Western Sunset already. If I gave you free will, why, you might do anything. Even things that are…. NO FUN TO READ!”

In the distance, a crash of thunder was heard.

“Hmph, that figures. ” said Trent with a sneer. “That guy’s put me through ten kinds of hell and he still won’t give me what I want. I oughta sue. ”

“Wait, you can hear me? I guess this means I’ve finally found my authorial voice. ”

“Or that you’ve finally gone insane, ya big fruit loop. ”

The ground began to shake. Rebecca screamed.

“Aw, lay off. You know that wasn’t a crack about you being gay. Not after you gave me that ‘dark secret none may know’. ”

“Now hold on here. ” said Rebecca with uncharacteristic forwardness. “Are you saying that the author maid you gay?”

“That’s one way of looking at it. ” said Trent.

“YOU SON OF A BITCH! No wonder we had to make love in the dark. And come to think of it, you took me from behind… you were pretending I was a man, weren’t you?”

“Look, we’re all girls from behind in the dark… ” said Trent.

“Can it, gumshoe. You think I don’t know about these kinds of things? After all, you’ve met my brother Sturgeon!”

“Oh yeah. Me and him have met a bunch of times. ” said Trent.

“You mean you…. motherFUCKER. ” said Rebecca. “No wonder you were always available for brunch. All you had to do is roll out of bed! And on mother’s good linens too. ”

“Look, sister, some guys are just… ”

“Shove it up your ass and light the fuse, you peckerhead. And to think, you seemed so manly. Anyway, I’m not really mad at you. I’m mad at the ink stained wretch writing this piece of cheap metafiction. He’s the one who made me all wet for you when he knew you were queer the whole time. And he’s the one who wrote that lame ‘rolling stone’ speech for you. Oh, real cute. Making like you were some kind of maverick when you were really just an invert. ”

“Hey, that speech was great! Pure Spillaine. And don’t you talk back to me, woman. You will do whatever I say and like it! You’re my characters and you will do what I want! Trent, back me up on this!”

“Don’t look at me. ” said Trent mildly. “I think the dame’s got a point. And I ain’t exactly your best ally, chump. ”

“And I hate your stinking guts! ” added Rebecca helpfully.

“What’s that got to do with anything? Whatever. I have deadlines to meet and this thing should have been put to bed an hour ago. So fine, you win. What is it you want?”

Rebecca put her hands on her hips, and hmphed. “You know what I want. ”

“I suppose I do. ” said the voice. “Fine.”

Trent looked at Rebecca, love shining in his eyes. “Rebecca, I… I don’t understand. I’ve never felt like this about a woman before. Let me take you away and make you the happiest woman in all of New Hampshire!”

A horn honked somewhere below them, and a voice shouted “Limo to take Rebecca Beckinsale and companion to a life filled with romance and laughter and probably a wedding, I don’t know, I haven’t decided yet!”

“Much better. ” said Rebecca. “Trent, take my arm. We’re going…. to NEW HAMPSHIRE!”

Trent paused at the door. “But wait…. if we have no free will, then how could we… ”

Rebecca patted Trent on the elbow. “Relax, Trent…. it’s metafiction. ”

And fade to black. Roll credits.

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