Manuscript Murder

“We are gathered here to put you poor rejected bastards out of your misery,” Jerald intoned, as he pulled the last manuscript from his file box and dropped it on a pile on his battered old roll-top desk. “Dozens of stories, poems, anecdotes, and three novels. Blood, sweat and tears. Writing and rewriting and editing over and over again. And for what? Ten years of rejections, two of them today, and not one stinking sale.”

He pulled a .38 caliber revolver and a box of hollow-point ammunition from his desk drawer, loaded five rounds into the pistol, stood up and walked over to his faded green couch. Lying on the center cushion was a dog-eared manuscript. “‘Cantlebird Picnic,'” Jerald muttered. “One of my earliest writing efforts. I always loved you–written, edited, revised again and again. Sent to market 29 times and rejected 29 times. Goodbye old friend.” He fired one round into the center of the manuscript.

“‘The Dragon Disposal System’–another labor of love.” He glanced at the notes on the top of the manuscript also lying on the couch. “Off to market on paper, on CD and lately by electrons. Twenty-five times out, 25 times rejected. And nobody even had the decency to tell me why. All they ever say is, ‘We’ve reviewed your story but it doesn’t fit our needs. Good luck placing it elsewhere. Keep sending us your useless shit.'” Another bullet fired.

Three more times Jerald fired a bullet into a manuscript on the couch. “‘Helmista’s Orc Stew,’ ‘The Jackrabbit Extravaganza,’ ‘Down and Out in Piezik, North Dakota.’ Goodbye old friends. Requiescat in pace you miserable rejected bastards.”

“And I probably didn’t even say that right,” he added bitterly.

He paused to reload the revolver–five chambers, five bullets, five more useless artifacts to destroy. He fired one round into the large pile of manuscripts on his desk, then one more for good measure. The next round shattered his computer monitor, sending shards of glass flying across the room. A fourth round blew away the life of his computer, sizzling and smoking appropriately as it gave up the ghost.

Jerald’s cell phone buzzed, indicating a text message had arrived, but he ignored it. “One last useless, rejected bastard to take out,” he said, sticking the revolver into his mouth and pulling the trigger.

The phone buzzed again, with a text for Jerald Moore from The Monthly Flash Fiction Journal. “We’ve reviewed your story ‘Manuscript Murder,’ and we love it. It’s scheduled for our January issue…”

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