Just gonna drop this and walk away singing Chocolate in our peanut butter, floaties in our milk, cheese on our sammiches, strawberry in our Quik...
He’d done quite a bit of writing before he went to bed. The brain ran around like a poodle after a treat. Barclay dreamed he was on the conservative arts show Words and Images. The interviewer, Diana Billiard, held an upcoming book as though afraid to get too much of it on her.
“Why’d yours,” she was trying to get to, because the crux of the matter was this, “as a black man, have to be a black book? Isn’t that restrictively limiting?” she asked, making sure the blank, earnest face was in place.
You’re kind of stupid, he thought. “Is his book,” said Barclay, nodding at G.P. Patterson, “a white book?”
Diana morphed the Botox into mildly charitable dismissal. “Well, no. It’s just…fiction.”
“Isn’t he white?”
“I’m pretty white,” said Patterson, best-selling author of Primitive and the soon to be a major motion picture, Guitar.
“Main characters white, G.?”
“Very much so, B.,” said Patterson. He, too, thought the interviewer was kind of stupid.
“What makes his book fiction and mine ethnic, Ms. Billiard?”
“I wouldn’t mind being ethnic,” said Patterson.
“Sales aren’t as good, man,” said Barclay.
“Oh. What if I wrote the same book you wrote?”
“You’d get your ass kicked.” When Barclay looked back at Billiard she was naked from the waist up. ‘Obviously I’m not getting enough sex,’ Barclay thought. Being a lucid dreamer meant tagging this thought for future reference.
Billiard hedged. “Well, your book is clearly informed by ethnic sensibilities.”
“As is mine,” said Patterson. Diana Billiard was an uptight harpy both disingenuous and of questionable intellect but graced with a knockout body that guaranteed a sizable thirty-four to forty year old college-educated male audience. Wardrobe courtesy Dionysian. Career courtesy the foresight to have married a prominent cable news anchor.
Her nipples were slightly too tiny to be effective point guards for the reinforced troops behind them.
Dinged a point.
“So the basic question, then, is why am I secondhand smoke and G. here a fine cigar?” said Barclay.
"Cubano," said Patterson.
"G.P. Patterson is a respected author—"
"—of books featuring white folks who need the FBI to keep them from getting cut up in little pieces. Y'all some vicious G's, G."
Patterson flashed the three fingered W. It was the first time Words and Images had seen a gang sign.
"O.I.B.," said Patterson, the tufts of grey hair behind his ears matching his closely cropped grey beard. "Old Incongruous Bastard."
Billiard's neck went spastic.
"Is it because my characters are black? Or related to author? I'm not going to apologize for either."
"I wrote a book with a black character once. He got killed."
"Classic Hollywood syndrome. Incurable. Don't worry about it."
"What about being accessible?" asked Diana.
"Same question." She had a blazer on now. Didn't faze him. "How many books you sold, Patterson?"
"Milk and cream…with floaties."
"You, sir, restrict to a base most foul."
"A right bastard I am," Patterson agreed, crossing his legs and leaning into the deep slouch, white socks against a pasty ankle shining under studio lights.
"Black man writes a book with black characters, it's the second coming of Zulu. I denounce you on the grounds your nipples are too small, your logic shoddy, and your facial reconstruction fucked up."
"They expect you to write a book with white characters, man; show your gratitude," said Patterson.
"Y'all did teach me English didn't you?"
"Hell yeah. Show some love."
"Can I feature white characters?"
"No. Top billing," said Patterson, but at least he was apologetic.
Billiard positively preened. Why did he even bother with Words and Images? Sometimes the show featured interesting authors, but was that worth the anal itch that was Diana Billiard?
Clearly the wench thought there was safety in numbers despite G.P. Patterson thinking she was a shallow sow.
"If my premise is of universal appeal," she said and winked for the camera, "don't you think it's limiting to write in such a…focused point of view?" she said.
"Your basic premise is racist and childish." Barclay turned to Patterson. "Can I wax polemical for a minute?"
"Wax on, wax off."
"If a reader can't see beyond their own daily confines to embrace what is essentially a remedial primer on the comedic truths inherent to the disadvantaged—"
"Turtle Wax, bitchas," piped Patterson.
"—that reader condemns herself—"
"Watch out now."
"—to the limited sphere of second hand knowledge cursing the world today," said Barclay.
"Wax off?" inquired G.P.
Barclay sniffed. "Wax off."
G.P. gave up the fist bump.