It is a black and hard-covered book, a non-technical and creative title, and the white etchings tickle as his fingertips run through them. The book has been a financial failure yet acclaimed by a niche audience loyal and zealous over the man’s work, which is of a multi-varied and erudite kind, a treatise on the human condition and its eventual ascension into a higher stage. He has recently found a publisher although the publisher is of a certain ideology he does not wholly align with. He considers this a necessary evil.
The man sucks on a cigar shaped like a torpedo and exhales. He tilts off a half-inch nub of ash and watches it crumble and then settle. The orange glow, the heat. He is reminded of a certain collection of imagined scenes. Prometheus bringing fire down from the heavens, parting massive clouds with a flamed spectre so bright. The pulse in him rises sharp yet short. He reposes on his plush chair.
In front of the man is a laptop. On one tab is his YouTube analytics. Views are down. In January they were at the highest due to a political event and the man felt good about this and considered it a turning point. At other times he considered it his one and only zenith. He used the word zenith specifically.
On his laptop he sees some national news which makes him misanthropic. He makes a tweet to his two-thousand or so followers. He uses analogies and terms such as civilization, protean, and singularity. In one hour he gets four retweets. He makes another tweet more personal and bold. Then a persistent and challenging thought occurs to him: a new morality must be pre-established. The new morality will be revealed in his next book and so he deletes this tweet.
Now he struggles to find methods for increasing his reach, not for him lacking the creativity, but for the methods going against exactly what he values. And do I want to be someone with a high follow-ship? he thinks. Then he says the word esoteric. The syllables hiss through his teeth, clack the tongue. The hooves of a mighty and masculine horse stomping in an empty field, a border of thick dark creeping to it- that which he imagines vividly.
He gets up the chair, crushes the cigar-tip into an ashtray, and goes to his bedroom where his wife is in bed. “How is it?” she asks.
During the early day she had recommended to include his face in the video thumbnails. She had learned it increases viewer engagement. He had become angry and argumentative. She now feels cautious, nervous. She knows to keep her responses short.
“It’s okay,” he says.
“What can I say?”
He gets in the sheets. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow. Maybe I’ll get you to videotape me in the office. Maybe I’ll make a speech. I’ll wake up early to prepare. Whatever. I don’t want to think about it now. In January, they’d watch anything. I can’t get another January again.”
Then he says, “Make love to me.”