Stay the distance and don’t you dare ever look down! What Winterburn had to keep telling himself, for these people will destroy his dreams if he lets them. In this particular instance, of course, looking down meant absolutely everything: drop your gaze and they will swarm; show any signs of negligence on your part and, again, they shall attempt to wreak all kinds of havoc on your fair ass. He was terribly alone and did indeed long for someone; and not just anyone, his girlfriend needed to be here. Her presence enough to fill any such void about to be otherwise filled all too poisonously by the wrong kinds of people altogether. However, she wasn’t here, wouldn’t, couldn’t get herself to be for quite some time. Her occupation brought with it an alarming amount of disdain of its own. Money and disdain, one up on him then. Homeward bound should remain on her fastidiously eager mind either way. Winterburn was everything and seemingly, to him at least, all of nothing right now. What he really needed was some kind of racing stripe – something dreadfully disarming to set him entirely apart. ‘Til Casey came back, at least. See, he felt a little less whole minus her heady input, she just seemed to know exactly how to take it upon herself when it came a time to set the bar that little bit far higher. Deliciously higher, in fact. He was sitting by what he liked to silently call his forever chair, where the real magic might one day get to happen, mapping it right the whole way out inside of his rip-roaring mind. Writers were an absolute dime a dozen here in Manhattan, yet he just wanted to finally stand out. Somehow, anyhow. Truth told, a pen had never really been enough though, it just seemed to him he was relatively visually impaired, unable to see anything he ever wrote. Problematic without question but, nonetheless, it never ceased his coloured imagination. Go figure. Besides, ’twas well documented in the past to have been the eerie ones quite like him who ended up tending to garner serious respect one way or another. Hold that hope and run wth it, our boy. Sure people soared to a point, but that long sought after publishing deal never came. He was 33 years-old inside the month and nothing would make him happier than said publishing deal managing to occupy his everything for a few weeks or so anyhow. He was your typically penniless poet was Winterburn, so strung out on making the bills, the rent, that it really was insane to blame his dreams. At least a dream brought with it a massive amount of respect, from the outside looking in maybe? He lit a half-Marlboro and started to dress himself. He would try and look the part for this his next important-to-him-at-least approach to a publisher. Sapphire & Eagle – real steel wall ball-busters, shapely and entirely driven but all too agonisingly in search of the next great somebody. Fair’s fair, he reckoned. Next he opted upon his favoured gray slacks and, as ever, liked to neatly press them against a belt which preferred to hide it out; the brand Quiksilver wasn’t every high ‘n’ mighty’s cup of Earl. Entice himself, why the heck not!? A t-shirt – no brand and just plain blue – was rather perfect for him whilst his hair took care of itself more often than not. Friends had always adored his cut, simply because it managed to somehow look the same whether he’d been on a serious previous night-out or down ‘n’ dry by ten in the pm. He looked at himself in the seriously askew living room mirror and thought, Yeah, I’m looking okay today. Nothing too soft either. Winterburn’s place was fairly desirable and right at the heart of Manhattan only by his single-status standards. However, seeing as he was no longer a single man that might just need to be rectified. He was sure Casey could go about taking care of that. Away she went, no flies or a bother on her whatsoever. They were beginning to be in it together and he really did like that prospect in and of itself. She being a fashion designer extraordinaire helped incredibly so, of course. Brushing his pearly whites, the time was surely upon him: ten am and the powers-that-be would be waiting with wings on, his every dream pressed deliciously between one fat envelope. That exactly how they liked to do it. He did quite enjoy these times, when he managed to pull himself away from the page – the ‘page’ being only his mobile phone of late because his Samsung notepad had strung itself right out. Like owner like laptop. Poems could and would however go anywhere they needed to go. It was probably unprofessional in a manner but he didn’t take the time to care enough. These shoes were new, real show-stealers embroidered nicely at the turn, a pair Casey had mentioned to him over a fast coffee while they passed a high street shoe shop only the other week. He was indeed starting to take her word on a thing or ten. So, onwards and downwards then. He was a humble man was Winterburn, dangerously so; he’d done well all of his life, writing inside of certain up-market magazines, the kinds that seemed to like to sell his face at the top of his article rather than anything else. Your true freelance-pretender if ever there was one. Right outside the front door the breeze was as ever there, prepared to tempt him on in to the first cafe in near sight. ‘Warren Fabrics’ would do just fine – a fast coffee ordered for take-out, how he possibly even loved it. As ever, the pretty new waitress – way younger than him – flirted relatively unbeknownst. Even if he didn’t see it he’d done fair well on that score too, with the pretty ladies. It’s just that they seemed to take it entirely upon themselves to fall into his wavering lap at all of the wrong times. This girl was beautiful, no two ways, and he knew full well he needed to save his ego-search for the meeting about to happen. “Thanks.” Back upon the high street, he smiled to himself, a fond smile on suddenly getting to compare Casey to the girl back inside. Probably prettier was Casey, most certainly tighter in all of the right places. Ladies and mental men, we give you Alex Winterburn – a man’s man. As it turned out Sapphire & Eagle had been watching his status updates on his Facebook page of late, this the real and probable sole reason why he was a little more confident than usual on his first approach. The editor-in-chief had actually even gone so far as to refer to one of his more recent poems as ‘otherworldly’. This wasn’t poetry-based though. Surely that was an in of a kind? He necked most of his cappuccino and held his handsome albeit weary head high enough to take the morning on. Take it in, Goddamnit! It was a five block stroll from here to there and time was his friend; he did need to show them why it was this particular publishing house might want to strike a deal with him, good-looking and talented should do the trick. No smokes was fine, at least ’til he returned to the comforts of his place. The city was, as ever, standing precariously still for him. A thousand miles per hour just juxtaposed right on the money. The Sapphire & Eagle building was a construction all of its own – enticing without ever settling the soul. He stared on up at the fourth floor where he knew his meeting to be taking place. A deep breath, then on in he went for it. Again, a pretty and eye-narrowing girl at reception, they really did seem to hold this city together on a simply sexual exterior. “Hi, Alex Winterburn. I have a meeting on the… .” The make-up faced girl ignorantly pointed her pen to the lift in a corner and smirked, as though a part of her knew she’d be seeing him again very soon, totally less a book deal. “Thanks.” He took the lift of fate, left his coffee at the centre and awaited the floor of distaste. Tapping his foot to the crap humdrum sing-along music exhausting the elevator, he smiled because he had done the work and, now, it was left up to them. A man met him at the floor. “Mr. Winterburn, a real pleasure. Come with me… How have you been? Writing going okay?” The man was a huge thing with a strangely uncorrupt dress style when taking into account the job he pursued. “The writing is going okay, I guess. A real ball buster, but then I guess you know that.” The man was open enough to a smile, a smirk, whichever. “Yes, it can take you to the pit for sure, but trust me,” This part he seemed to need to turn to Winterburn to say, “the crawl back on out the other side can be oh so magical.” Winterburn liked that, an honest assessment of the whole sorry endeavour. The mammoth room came to his attention. Seven people – three men and four women – inside sitting, waiting, probably wondering what this next caper would be like as opposed to the rest. He could see they were already well underway regards letting off steam as the coffee was flowing, the relative sweat starting to catch wind. A serious breeze hung in the air and he wanted to hear the truth more than ever now. He clenched his fist, ready. A woman most definitely a decade below him told him to sit. “Okay, thanks.” They all seemed to look at one another. Here it comes, the dismal let-down, the agonising perils of a wanabee writers life. Another man spoke. “You’re a good, good writer, Mr. Winterburn. Someone we at Sapphire & Eagle really feel we can work with.” Don’t You Dare, Dare, DARE put a ‘but’ at the end of that!! Winterburn was already tired, needed another coffee. Next in line, a glass-wearing plain-Jane stepped on in. “Your words have the ability to take a person on a whirl about this fine city of ours.” Shit, no such ‘but’, just… Just. She held his manuscript right in her hands. Shovels by all accounts. Shovel me on up, baby, he thought. Incredibly prone to inward brain-farts like this for entertainments sake, he moved comfortably in his swish seat. She sat down and let the owner, the real big dog, talk his talk. “I’m Perry Eagle and I want you, Goddamnit!” Not as much as he wanted the cigar in his teeth seemingly. He thumped the table. Winterburn turned wide-eyed. Don’t ask him is he fucking with you now!! Instead he listened intently. His ear had never been so pressed. He wanted to hear what he’d always dreamed about hearing; no better stage for it. Mr. Eagle soared on in. “Alex, can I call you that?” Alex said of course. “You’ve got that magic touch we’ve been searching for here. It’s so goddamn magic it’s… It’s all entrancing.” Bloody hell!! Where was his every literary failed friend when they had to be here? “Okay, this is, this is… Good!?” Eagle swooped. “Good? We are prepared to make your book a thing of beauty. We are prepared to make the perfect cover you said you always wanted, the right acknowledgements, the… the right EVERYTHING!!” Eagle stood back, guffawed, and told Plain Jane to pour him what was definitely his umpteenth strong coffee. He was enjoying this now and Winterburn could see that his eyes were turning into dollar signs not so slowly and absolutely surely. So long as they played fair ball he was fine with that. He asked for a cappuccino, a real heavy one, please? The people in the room looked like they weren’t too used to their boss-man hitting heights of happy like this. Shit, Sapphire & Eagle had had none other than Sarah Blackman on their books – the real deal, the stunning thirty-something who wrote like dreams were made of. Winterburn was all too willing to play ball so long as they were. The eight of them drank coffee and chatted about other stuff, where Winterburn was set up and if he might like a better apartment to influence his writing for the completion of the book. He said he felt that the book was already complete before wondering if they meant they were offering to make rent. Eagle said they were and that they simply meant editing it ’til people, his every new reader, were unable to put it down. He did indeed like the sound of that. He lived this moment to the bone. How proud Casey would be! He thought about what she might be doing. So good to fall back on her when things got fair heady; always good for that was Casey. He asked these people, who referred to themselves strangely enough as his new family, if everything was in stone for him to create a book which could not be out down. A quiet man yet to utter a word did his seemingly organised part, getting up to address Winterburn. He dressed like a favourite character of Winterburn’s from an old movie starring Paul Newman. Right now he didn’t feel completely not like Newman. “Alex, you have a great and sizeable talent here and we want to make your book one that remains with people, on their person in a physical manner for a long time. Our graphics team will sit with you and talk about where you might like the cover to go.” Winterburn explained why it was the cover was so important to him by comparing it to a great movie which always seemed to have had a great and enticing trailer. “My cover is my visual trailer.”
Casey did indeed wonder what Alex was up to but she reckoned upon him being quite okay; he had to be, he was, after all, the show-stealer. She knew full well that he’d his all-important meeting with publishers this morning and wanted it to go so well for him. For the ten months they’d been living in and out of one another’s pockets, albeit he had yet to actually ask her to move in with him, she’d gotten to read a fair bit of his writing – poetry more so – and, if she took herself from
the sticky equation of being a biased girlfriend, he was really all kinds of brilliant. She sipped a coffee whilst trying to remember a poem he wrote for her to give to her mother and family following the recent passing of her beloved father Gerald. What was that title again!? Ah, ‘A Masterpiece Of A Man’. That’s it!! Yes, her own man didn’t like to do it by half himself, and she liked that her younger brother had taken it entirely upon himself to make a pretty frame and place it in their hallway back home in Chicago. She did love that poem in particular; course she did, who wouldn’t want a poem with yours truly swimming through its core. She was in China – Beijing – for the foreseeable trying to finalise her latest interior design about to seemingly get itself inside of a hundred and one fashion shops over here. Her phone had never been so hopping yet not a murmur from Alex. As ever, she was dressed like the steel-warrior princess she was – letting everyone clasp eyes upon her next design firsthand. Casey was twenty-nine and damn proud of the fact that her career had taken a serious upward sky-rocket even before she hit the dreaded thirty. It wasn’t going to be dreadful at all for her, it was going to be her imperial years. It was plain to see to others she was in full creative charge of this thing, inside of the driving seat and ready to shift any such gear which needs shifting. The coffee was good and the cigarettes managing to stay in her rented apartment outside of the city. She’d just returned from the hairdressers over the road having laced her hair in streaks of crazy pink, to set a memory in these China-men’s minds. No surprise there on her part. Sex sold more so here than in any other big city she’d visited work-wise, and she did realise she needed to relatively follow suit. She was prepared to make the necessary changes without ever selling out. This particular city was nice, a real scene stealer. Wherever she went she was, of course, different and that worked wonders all of its own. She would try his mobile. Voicemail as ever. Either he was still in with them at the meeting which had to be good news, or he was just too disappointed to answer anything. Poor guy, she knew he asked for it every single time but it still deserves sonething other than your par for the course rejection letter time and time. Those damn things pierced his soul every one after the next even if he brushed it off like a pro. He would be missing her, she knew that much. The almost perfect day in China then, when everything and anything could happen. Her face had never felt to ready to just take it all in one image at a time; this place had seemingly been summoning her one way or another. To shut her creative mind off for awhile was, however, something she longed to try and do, to manage to somehow take herself away from all of these constant possibilities if only for the day. Let it all hang in a string, people come and go about their own delightful duties while she simple did nothing. Tempting but also difficult.