Fyodor Comes to Breakfast
The first thing Elmer Fiddle saw when he woke on his couch one morning at first light was a shabbily dressed man with greasy black hair and an unkempt beard streaked with gray sitting at his dining table. The thin light, his drowsiness, and his not recollecting what happened the night before did not make this seem incongruous. The man was reading the manuscript for Elmer’s novel, which always lay on the dining table.
“Hello, who are you?” Elmer asked.
“I’m Fyodor Dostoevsky,” the man replied.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m reading your manuscript. I’ve been waiting for you to wake so I can talk to you about it.”
Elmer’s eyes began to focus in the dim light. Fyodor seemed to be a figure in a black and white photograph. When Elmer looked past him and out the window at the city, the city too seemed to be an object filmed in black and white.
“This is the worst novel I have ever read,” Fyodor said.
“It’s only a first draft and I wrote it in kind of a rush.”
“I know all about that.”
“Would you like some coffee and breakfast?”
“I’m starved. Make breakfast and then we can discuss your book. You need lots of help.”
Elmer busied himself in the kitchen making coffee, bacon, eggs, and toast, and pouring orange juice. He delivered the breakfast to the dining table. Fyodor ate ravenously. They ate in silence. Heavy dark clouds prevented the sun from brightening the sky and city. However, as the sun rose, Fyodor faded to lighter shades of black and gray.
They smoked cigarettes and drank coffee after they finished eating.
“You know, it helps to be a mad genius when you write one of these things,” Fyodor said.
“I’m not a genius and I don’t want to be mad even though it sometimes feels I am mad when I work on it.”
Fyodor laid his hand upon the manuscript sitting by his plate. The ash of his cigarette missed the ashtray when he flicked it.
“In that case, it will take you a long time to make this mush a novel. It could take years.”
“How many years? That is, if I work hard on it each day.”
“You can never tell. Sometimes, it takes decades.”
The black and white photograph that was the city began to fill with dull colors. Fyodor continued to fade into the morning light.
“What shall I do? I don’t have decades. I don’t even have several more years.”
“You could accept the fact that you are neither mad, nor a genius, nor most likely a writer.”
“I’ve tried that several times, but some voice keeps urging me on.”
“Then you are mad,” Fyodor said before completely fading into the early morning light.