The author sat embossed and gyrating on the Swiss design swivel chair, feeling for all the world that his very soul had left him. What was a sea without water? What use hath the bee without honey? Unwashed for several days and exhaling caffeinated gases, he was the moulted husk of a once buzzing story teller.

He did not want to write about something as empty as love. To him, love was unreal; a construct as tangible as hope for the future, foreign and twice as cold as notions of glaciers that scraped the sky, and about as rational as a jubilee-ed spinster. The idea of it was grand, he'd admit, but in the end, under thorough scrutiny, it lacked substance.

Love was best précised as an otiose exhaustion of flowers, chocolates, and agony filled years. This was what he knew and he believed that his prejudice was not uninformed. After all, he did do his research—a fair bit of it in fact. He never felt or even observed it . . . this love thing. Not from enjoying the glorious fruits of Elizabethan, Victorian and Oriental poets—masters of the abstract and the vivid and geniuses with the written word, but ultimately deluded idealists chasing spider-webs in winter meadows.

Not even after studying several generations worth of the so-called 'lovers'. In fact, he had never seen a more sordid bunch, smiling through thorns and exalting the vacant. He concluded that some people just lacked any sense of self-appreciation.

Not even after courting and bedding countless starry-eyed, fragrant, fresh-faced lasses. The entire ordeal left him disappointed, sore and hollowed in many ways. Swimming in glass shards, he was—the most excruciating phase of life he ever went through.

He could not for the life of him figure why so many men willingly, and with foolish ecstasy, consigned themselves to such a slow and torturous execution when cyanide pills where so readily available. "Till death do we part? . . . Why wait then?"

Of course, coition was as pleasurable as expected. But he saw it to be nothing more than a marriage of excited genitalia for the stimulation of pleasure receptive nerves . . . and ultimately for procreation. The conclusion of which left the participants, sweaty, slimy, smelly, physically exhausted and feeling a profound and burdensome emptiness. Argue if you might, but he had waded through enough—over-excessive, in all honesty—sampling to reach this conclusion. And he would not change it at gun point!

Yes, writing about balderdash like romance was best left to those listless and wishful spinsters. He was a man! A man who only bothered himself with the magnificent. Who would only put finger to plastic, when something significant just had to be penned. Why soil his fingers and his mind, and in turn his readers' mind with dried donkey dung. He would not consider it even as a sub-plot, or a sub-sub-plot. It just had no place.

The singer who only found his voice when he thought of a certain someone lacked talent, focus and a sound work-ethic in the first place.

The tennis player who appeared to win only after the appearance of the dazzling beauty was convalescing after a gunshot wound, and was just now digesting the energy bars and anodynes previously ingested.

Or worst of all, the murderous lunatic who slashed the throat and gonads of a romantic rival was a monument meant to embody the highest instance of primordial stupidity, placed there for all to look, learn and avoid.

Yes, the author considered the idea of crimes of passion on an equal intellectual plane with the lonesome caterpillar that chewed of its own wings shortly after eclosion, or the infant that strangled itself with its own birth cord out of curiosity. . . . Self-destruction only because one was too stupid to recognise freedom.

So after swallowing the bitter gall that the thought of romantic fiction had left in his throat, he moved on to the next concept.

Mystery?

Yes that was the stuff. The stuff that smelled right. Put your noodle on the heater and devour the rewarding taste of brilliance. Mystery was his craving, his desire, the one true thing that sparked arousal. He had a shrine erected in paper and leather to the greats. And with good reason. It took a superior mind to create such artistry, and a true connoisseur to enjoy it.

But as the cruel paws of irony would have it he couldn't write mystery.

His exhausted gaze swept from the snow-blank screen to askew stack of unworthy novels with his name on the spine, from the glistening fish tank, and with resignation, to the cyanide pill in his palm.

"Please understand, Nigel old thing, it's either this or another romance novel."