Less than Thirty (Prologue to next book.)


BEFORE

It was published by St. Martin’s Press in late 2014 although it failed to garner anything more than a handful of negative reviews until mid-2015 when the planned shipment of 100,000 copies of mass market paperback were cancelled due to the poor sales of its initial hardcover release. As per my contract I kept my measly advance and instead of readying for the book tour in the summer, I continued work on my sophomore effort – knowing it was my last chance (the publishing industry is much different than it used to be; decades ago publishers had their writer’s backs and stayed with them, fought for them – they were a team) – to make an impression on the world. I’d been working on the second one since early 2011, while I was still looking for a publisher for my debut, and after overcoming a six-month bout of writer’s block I figured it all out, dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s then shipped out to Sonny Meghan (my editor at St. Martin’s).

The hot July sun shined bright, hot, and I decided to take a break from it all, stop worrying about the incoming criticism from Sonny and all the other bigwigs at the publisher and leave Manhattan for a few weeks, so I spent the weekend of the Fourth in Atlantic City staying in a free suite at Bailey’s playing the poor man’s Blackjack table drinking complimentary White Russians and basking on the beach wearing swim trunks from Banana Republic and a pair of knockoff Versace sunglasses I bought on the boardwalk trying to tan while reading the newest issue of GQ. During Happy Hour at the beachside bar I met a pretty little college thing who bought me two shots of Fireball liquor, and an hour later we were in my suite fucking in the bathroom hot tub while a housekeeper cleaned the bedroom of my previous night’s debauchery.

The sex was good and I definitely needed it – for some reason I’d forgotten how important these mid-afternoon pleasures can be. Afterwards, I laid back on the freshly-made bed, the linen soft and welcoming, watching as what’s-her-name scrambled about looking for her panties and once she found them and dressed, she held out her hand.

“What, you want a tip?” I said with a laugh and a smile before suggesting dinner and a T-Pain concert that night. Fortunately for me, I did OK downstairs and got some comps. I soon realized the joke was on me, though, when her pimp (a 6’foot’5 black man) showed up at the door. I still don’t remember if she gave her name, if she had made any indication that she was, indeed, a whore, but at that point …

Sometimes, I wonder if I really even know my own.

I mean, who am I really?

Christian Kane, the once-hyped “new kid on the block” of the literary scene by The New York Times – as they so elegantly put it after reading an advanced copy of my underwhelming-selling-debut? (Yes, you read that right – even a positive review from The New York Times didn’t help the book.) Or was I Christian Kane, son, who put his mother in a nursing home at the age of 50 and who lives some two-hundred miles away just to use it as an excuse not to visit. Or, better yet, Christian Kane, the “recovering addict” who put down the China-White just to pick up the “other” white – again?

Who the fuck am I? Who the fuck are any of us really? And, shit, does it make any difference anyway?

 

Not much longer my phone rang. It was the publisher, not Sonny – just a generic-sounding voice who in less than a minute told me about all the great work I’d been doing, that I was much appreciated but (there’s always a fucking but) that St. Martin’s was going in a different direction and I just didn’t fit into their new corporate ideals. What the fuck? But it was what it was and what could I, Christian Kane, failed journalist and, now, unsuccessful novelist, do about it? The answer: not a damn thing.

I reached out to an old friend I’d made while working at Men’s Health magazine. I had worked there since 2009, fresh out of college, up until the book was published. Since then I’d been living off a small inheritance from my grandfather and that “whopping advance” from Noro (my aforementioned little novel). He’d set me up with some freelance shit – nothing much, a few articles – which didn’t stretch far enough because just six months later I got an eviction notice from my landlord.

But fuck it, what can you do?

Wallowing in self-pity, I found myself at the closest watering hole twenty minutes later drinking cheap scotch and pretending to watch a ball game playing in the background. There was something wrong with me, something eating at me that I just couldn’t put my finger on. It was like the past six years or so had flown by overnight. Like I woke up one morning and finally figured out there was nothing worth getting out of bed for.

So I didn’t – that is, until the Sheriff’s Office came weeks later, eviction order in hand, and just five hours later I found myself walking around LaGuardia Airport in a drunken-stupor, waiting for my flight to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre International Airport.

New York, the Bright Lights, Big City, had beaten me; and it seemed there were no other options on the table.

It was time to go home.

 

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