The room was quite dark, save for the eerie glow cast by the computer screen. Derek, with bloodshot eyes, continued to pound his keyboard ruthlessly into the darkest hours of the night. He had a big day ahead of him. Thousands of crumpled up pieces of paper littered the room; ah, the room. A single room he rented; all he could afford with his low salary. He wanted to sleep, but couldn't. He absentmindedly refilled his coffee mug for the twenty-third time that evening, barely glancing up from the eye killing screen. He finally settled on a piece, printed out three copies, set them down carefully in his friend's fancy briefcase, and finally stretched out in his bed for thirty minutes until he woke to the scary yet dream day.
"Big day today?" A stranger on the subway asked him, noticing Derek's fancy suit, fancy briefcase, and nervous habits.
"Yeah, yeah, but I'm fine," Responded Derek. "Yourself?"
"Just another day. And what makes this day so magical for you?"
"I'm heading off to Art & Co. Publishing Offices. They're going to take a look at my work."
"Well, I hope that goes well for you. Here's my stop. Good luck."
Derek waved the stranger off. He then opened his briefcase for the third time to make sure his story was still safe and sound; undisturbed. The misfortune and bad luck his life was prone to could not take part of this day. He waited out forty-five more minutes on the subway, biting his nails the entire way.
The intimidating buildings loomed in the air as he walked through downtown New York. He hadn't been to the city much; wasn't much of a city guy. His legs were trembling. My one chance at getting out of this life, he thought. My one chance. Don't blow it. He walked in silence until the building came into view, first appearing small but gradually expanding, expanding, expanding, enlarging, enlarging, enlarging. Suddenly, the rags and cloths Derek had been walking through were gone, replaced by thousand dollar suits and ties lined with diamonds. His suit looked inferior. He was wearing a plain white tee while everyone else was wearing a suit of gold. They were friendly enough, though.
"Good morning, sir"s and "How are you today, sir"s went in one of Derek's ears and out the other. He reached the gigantic doors of the publishing company. They made a loud moaning sound as he pushed them open clumsily. Derek approached the front desk.
"Good morning. I have a meeting with Mr. Parrot at ten," He told the secretary.
"Ah, yes, Mr. Bentley, is it? Mr. Parrot is expecting you. He'll be right with you, why don't you go take a seat in his office? He'll be right in, dear."
Derek waited in Parrot's office for twenty minutes until Parrot actually showed up. He burst through the door, not the least bit apologetic of his tardiness. He was a frightening man, not less than six feet tall, with dark tan skin and huge, bulging muscles. Yet the man was a writer; the head of a publishing company, where he should be a bodybuilder or personal fitness trainer.
"Mr. Bentley, nice to meet you," He greeted. "We enjoyed the short story you submitted to us very much. Now, it's my understanding that you were given an assignment of writing a 1,000 word story for us to evaluate and see if we find you contract-worthy."
"Yes, Mr. Farrot, nice to meet you. I have my story with me." He realized his faux-pas and double-took, much to the chagrin of Mr. Parrot.
"Relax, Derek. We're just talking," He consoled. "Now, let's see that story."
Derek pulled the story out of his briefcase and handed it over to Mr. Parrot. Somebody reading your work in front of you is very nerve racking. You feel almost embarrassed, feel like you could have done something better, or want to change something at the last moment. The pressure under the heat makes you squirm and writhe until the end comes and you receive your criticism and hate.
Mr. Parrot made some grunting noises and approval noises during the reading, causing Derek to feel even more embarrassed and helpless. Mr. Parrot lifted his eyes from the table and set it down on his desk.
"Son, who's your favorite author?" He asked.
"Kafka, sir," Derek responded.
Mr. Parrot smiled. "Ah, that's what I thought. Great writer, Kafka. Let's see...The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle. This is very Kafka-esque."
"Thank you sir. I'm glad you enjoyed the story."
"Well, if you can wait in the lobby for another thirty minutes, I can call our advisors in to review the work and see if we can't work out a contract."
Derek stood from his desk and shook Mr. Parrot's hand firmly. He turned his back and went out of the office, a heavy sigh emerging from his lips. Mr. Parrot shut the door behind him. In the lobby, Derek whistled to himself quietly until the secretary motioned him back into Parrot's office.
Three men stood in the office, not one of them smiling.
"Why don't you sit down, son," One of them said. "I'm Gary Sears, and this is Tyrell Hancock, and you already know Buddy Parrot. I'm going to get straight to the point. Son, we just can't publish this. You're a great writer, but you're not really out material. Maybe in a couple years."
The men talked for a while longer about the faults of the writing and their reasoning behind their decision, but Derek didn't hear it; he was too disappointed and red in the face. He stood up and left without shaking any of the mens' hands. He could feel their stare as he exited the office and left the building.
"How'd you like that trick they pulled on you?" A writer asked outside of the building.
"Yeah. You know, how they pulled you back after you left?"
"They didn't pull me back."
"You mean to say they didn't send you out then bring you back in? It's just a attitude test they take to make see how the authors respond to failure," The writer said.
"They didn't pull me back!" Derek exclaimed.
The writer fled.