“What goes on my brother?”
“Hey Brian. Well …”
I rambled on for a minute before realizing the signal had dropped.
If I didn’t have an astronomical phone bill hanging over my head from last month, I might have called Brian back. Instead, I waited.
“Sorry dude,” he said when we reconnected. “I tried calling you from inside the cottage, but I should have known that wouldn’t work. I just climbed the hill behind my house for a decent signal. It’s beautiful up here, but it’s fucking freezing. The weather has been all over the place.”
Brian has been spending the past few months working on home improvements to his family’s cottage nestled in a hidden corner of Ireland. It’s not remote per se — small town of about a thousand people, with a main road that swerves within inches of Brian’s front door — but, with no television, no radio, no Internet, and neighbors who like to keep to themselves, it has the same effect.
We hadn’t spoken in a month or more so I gave him the latest, beginning with the current events I knew would interest him most: “Sir George Martin died, did you hear about that?”
“No dude. I don’t hear anything over here—other than the mule across the road."
We talked a little politics, but since he has the option of hunkering down in his remote Irish hideout if shit turns sour, he didn't seem too concerned. “People are so fucking stupid," was all he had to say about it.
“It’s like that George Carlin bit," I said, "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that."
I turned the conversation more personal. I told him about the death of my cat. Brian knew Rory well—Rory would often sleep next to Brian whenever Brian crashed on our couch. He was sad to hear about it.
"How's Deborah doing? She must be bummed."
"She wants to get a kitten."
"Oh dude, no. You don't want a kitten. You want to cut back. Streamline."
This coming from a guy who lives out of a suitcase, of course, but it didn't matter anyway; Deborah can be persuasive when she wants to be. She fell in love with an eyeless kitten that she saw on an adoption website. The poor thing has balance issues, too—a real handful. Adopting it is not going to happen for us but, you know, that's how she opens the negotiations. Even if I counter with "no new kittens" it's hard not to foresee a fur covered compromise.
I changed the subject and gave him some updates on my recently completed novel. Brian had read the early drafts and provided me with a lot of helpful feedback. He has been very encouraging and I knew he’d be happy to hear that the full manuscript was currently under review by three separate literary agents.
“We’ll see,” I said. “Just because they requested a full manuscript doesn’t mean they’ll end up offering me representation. But it’s better than a form letter rejection, anyway.”
“Yeah, man, you gotta manifest.”
“You know, before you go to bed every night, focus on your goals and visualize them as being things that are already true. You already have an agent, you already are a published author, and so on. You gotta get on that shit."
“Is that how it's done?”
“I’m telling you, man: Manifest.”
“How’s it been working out for you?”
“Just wait,” he said, brimming with confidence. “When I get back to the States, big things are going to happen. You’ll see.”
“Sounds good. Can't wait.”
“But, listen, I’m going to need your help with a few things …”