Death of a Writer


David Berlane died next door, and that’s supposed to mean something. He was this writer with a big cult following, and everything he wrote was considered awesome because he used words like terpsichorean and frisson, and because he dispensed with any punctuation to indicate dialogue. People lapped up every word he wrote, and he was so dedicated to his craft that he pumped out at least six novels a year. He was so popular that nobody noticed that he was dead for over nine weeks, and by the time they found him his body was a kind of a mess. I might have smelled him, but I was living with my best friend because he was dying of cancer, and there was no mystery to his death.

So now there’s this thing about people breaking into David Berlane’s house and snorting his dust. The police have repeatedly issued notices saying that there’s nothing left of David Berlane to ingest, but that doesn’t stop people from coming. I hear them clambering around in there and looking for the big dark spot on his living room rug, and they always go ooooh when they find it, and then three minutes later they’re out of there. The theory is that if you get even a few atoms of David Berlane – and surely there’s at least a few atoms floating about, right – then you’ll somehow be endowed with some of his genius. I dunno, maybe you’ll stop using quote marks or something, and everyone will love what you write.

Of course I don’t buy into it. How can you appropriate another person’s alleged brilliance by snorting up a bit of their dust or breathing in a few of their atoms? I mean, you’d need to at least eat their liver or their brains, right? But that doesn’t stop the break ins. People are persistent, and who knows, maybe there’s an element of truth on their side. Perhaps a little further investigation is warranted.

So even though I am way sceptical about it, in the interests of scientific experiment I left my notepad and pen right on the spot where David Berlane died for a whole 24 hours before I used them to write this.

Did it work? You tell me.