by Garrick Sherman
“Adam, this is my friend Steve.” Steve joined them at the coffee shop table.
“Hey, I’ve heard a lot about you,” Adam said. “You’re working on an autobiography, right? Isn’t that what you said, Mike?”
“Well, no, it’s not exactly an autobiography,” said Steve. “I’ve always felt that autobiographies were a bit narcissistic, personally, and so I never had any desire to write my own. Instead, what I’ve done is to create sub-characters in a sort of self-reciprocal work. You see, my novel focuses on a man named Greg, writing about a man named Alexander, who in turn is writing about a man named Cooper. Cooper’s book is therefore inadvertently the subject of my novel, and his work happens to focus on me, the author, and my life. So, you see, the work forms a sort of literary Mobius Strip anchored in our reality.”
“Huh,” Adam replied. “Well, I guess I can see how Mike got confused.”
“Yes. If you’ll excuse me, I would like some coffee,” said Steve, leaving the table.
Adam turned to Mike. “So, how do you know this guy, again?”
“Oh, we met at this art showing downtown. He’s cool. You’ll get used to him,” said Mike. Steve returned to the table with a cup of tea.
“Yes,” he said, replying to nothing, “I suppose you could call me part of a new movement to create more reality-driven art. For instance, a friend of mine is striving to create the world’s longest narrative, with arguably the most complex character at its center, by turning his life into a piece of living – if you’ll excuse the pun – art.”
Adam blinked. “I’m sorry, his life is the art?” he asked.
“Yes, that’s right,” said Steve, peering out a window.
“So, what does he do?”
“Oh, you know, day-to-day sorts of activities. Cooking, cleaning, interacting with other characters, romance, drama. In a sense I am part of his narrative, since his every interaction with me adds further to his work. Very similar to my own work in that sense, I would say.”
“How does he make a living?” Adam said. Steve looked at Mike.
“His patrons fund his work,” he replied dismissively.
“Adam is a writer himself,” offered Mike, after a moment.
“Yeah, I’m working on a story about—“ Adam stopped as Steve stood, staring at a woman sitting across the room. Without changing his gaze, he placed his tea on the table and walked towards her. He began speaking to her, and she looked up from her book. Steve sat down at the table and seemed to talk earnestly to her, though Adam could not hear him over the coffee shop’s chatter.
“So, interesting stuff, right?” Mike said. Adam nodded.
“I’ve never met anyone like him, that’s for sure. What do you think he’s doing over there?”
“Probably offering her a chance to be in his book,” said Mike, laughing.
Steve rose from the table, and the woman smiled at him meekly. He turned toward Adam and Mike, face somber, steps plodding. Without sitting, he snatched his tea, said, “I must be going now. Coffee shops like this are so – drab,” and marched out the door. Adam glanced back at the woman, who read her book with intensity.
“I think maybe I’ll write a story about Steve,” he said.
“I think he’d like that,” said Mike. They laughed.