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Chapter Twenty
The Chat

Coffee, St. Louis Post Dispatch and NPR were the ingredients for a relaxing Saturday morning for Bradley. If these things should be altered, the course of the day may be in jeopardy. By 8:45 Bradley had drunk three cups of coffee and listened to most of Morning Edition, but the Saturday paper had not arrived yet. Unfortunately, this sometime happened on the weekends and Brad coped the best he could. On Sundays he'd watch Meet the Press but on Saturdays no T.V. interested him. Sometimes he'd go out to eat, but he had waited too long and was anxious the paper might be delivered right after he left. Brad was good at waiting. He could make it his major activity for the day.

These incidents often caused brad to pause and wonder if he was being too ritualistic. He was once diagnosed with an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but it was later discovered to be something else. Still, he often found himself trying new compulsions and rituals just to prove to it wasn't a disorder. He discovered it was not so much the rituals that were important but the need to have a plan and stick to it. Without order his life seemed to fall into disarray. "An active mind is a healthy mind'" which wasn't exactly true, but as long as he wasn't depressed, so what.

Brad decided he would try going on line before reading the paper. He could go to the Washington Post site and then check out his chat room. It was a simple and satisfactory choice, and he wondered why it took him a hour of waiting in the kitchen to come up with it. The computer took about a minute and a half to boot up. Brad filled this time by reading over notes he'd made for the next chapter of Bud's Story. He had just published thirteen through seventeen and figured it be a couple of weeks before he would have to finish the next chapter. It was helpful for him to hear what others were saying about Bud to get a feeling how his character was playing. The local Midwest BMW dealer picked up sponsorship of the "Bud's Story" web sight two months earlier. Brad could log onto the "Bud Chat Room" under an alias and read comments and criticisms by his readers.

Before checking out the Washington Post, Brad clicked on "Bud Chat Room" under his favorite places icon. Sometimes at this time in the morning two or three Bud diehards would be discussing some esoteric point such as the relationship between late eighteenth century German philosophers and Bud's fifth grade teacher Mrs. Taylor. Always good for a laugh, Brad thought.

Brad checked out the 'logged in' count. "What the Hell?" He stared at the number wondering why forty five people would be in his chat room at this time in the morning. Had there ever been forty five in the room before? Could his career finally be taking off? He watched the screen scroll upwards catching, a conversation somewhere in the middle.

SIXPACK8: I don't think so.

BIGJACK: no way!

Jasonm: No, I tell you Bud is dead. He's history.

AMYE: If he's dead then why didn't Brad show Bud getting hacked to death by the serial killer.

Jasonm: Well, Bud is only a mythical character. Would you show a mortal
death of a mythical character. Would you? That would show human qualities.

SEXKITTEN has logged in.

SIXPACK8: I'm not sure if we can assume Bud is Mythical?

Jasonm: I thought that had been resolved.

AMYE: If Brad was going to kill Bud he'd exploit it for all he could. Blood
and gore all over the place. Brad can't let a cheap thrill slip by.


That meant Bradley would be soon getting a call from his parents. He found it interesting how people sometimes wildly speculated on Bud's inevitable death. He could never kill Bud off. It would be just too scary. Still, a lot of people must have been pretty concerned about yesterday's installment to be on line now. Brad sipped his coffee and leaned up toward the screen. "Bring it on."

Jasonm: I know Brad wouldn't "kill" Bud. I mean he is writing him out of
the story because his usefulness as an analogy is over. Brad said himself he's tying to tell "his" story.

Eric E has logged in.

Melissa: But what is "his" story? Isn't Bud his story. I mean where
would Brad be without Bud?

Eric E: do you all think Bradley is that Deep? Bud's Story is nothing more
than what it appears as on the surface. A poorly written e-mail-zine. I think
you're giving him to much credit for thinking. Look at what he's done; he's
taking a loosely disguised mirror image, and after realizing there was nothing
really interesting about his own life, has manufactured all these illusionary
and absurd scenes. Sure they seemed interesting, but now he's boxed himself into a corner with no place to take the story. I think all of your interest in Bud will fade quickly once you realize there's nothing there. And it will happen soon.

That hurts, Brad thought. Still, Eric had a point. Bud was boxed into a corner. Had Bud's story become too absurd for its own good? Bud's Story began without any apparent plot. A joke he had sent to a friend after a fall at his brother's place. Only Brad had kept writing, and somewhere around chapter five the nuances of a plot appeared. Each chapter brought the story's focus closer to the story of his own mental breakdown. Something he never intended to write about.

Despite the fun that he seemed to be having at Bud's expense, he knew he was really addressing his own sordid issues. Bud's creation offered some cover in the guise of fiction. But essentially it was Brad who had to had to live with the story. Brad leaned back in the chair and ask himself, "now why am I writing this?"

Bud was fiction, he didn't owe anyone excuses or explanations, but Brad's life was more messy and complicated without all the thrills offered to bud, but how far did he want to go?

Nickv has logged in

SEXKITTEN has logged out

Melissa: Eric, I think Brad itentially boxed himself in to prove how clever
he can be by finding a way out.

Kristylef: Yea, don't count Brad out he specializes in putting himself in odd
corners. Sometime your thinking 'what in the world is he saying' and all of a
sudden he does something incredible and you wonder 'genius?'

AMYE: …or idiot, sometimes I just can't tell.

JOHNB: This is all interesting but we've strayed from the pressing issue of
today's conversation. Is BMW going to drop their Bud sponsorship

Annet has logged in.

Nickv: What? I just got here. Is BMW dropping Brad?

JOHNB: Maybe, it seems some of the management is upset with the direction Bud's Story is headed. Violence might sell Jeeps but BMW prefers romance and elilgence. They feel Bud doesn't represent their corporate image.

Nickv: you can't let them do it. Your the Web Master. Bud's tale is the
epic American story you can't let it die.

JOHNB: I'm trying, But I'm not sure there's much I can do.

Brad was in a panic. He didn't want to lose his beemer. He worked really hard to convince the people at BMW that sponsoring a web page for a young American writer was really chic and hip and a great publicity stunt. He had a friend pose as his agent and call BMW of America daily. He even forged letters of reference by respected writers such as Updike, Bello and Proux. They said things like, "Mr. Bowers offers a lively depth and complexity we haven't seen since Humbolt." After all, Brad rationalized, to get anywhere in the entertainment world today you had to lie.

Bhines: It would serve him right for selling out. I knew Brad before he
discovered punctuation. Now he thinks he's the big man on campus.

Eve has logged in.

Tonym: come to think of it I have not heard from him since his "Big
Breakthrough." But then Brad was always one to disappear for a while, then one day show up on your doorstep

Jasonm: Yea. So what's up with those poems?

SIXPACK8 has logged out.

Eve: I think the poems are there to give us a glimpse into the working of a
mentally ill mind.

Jasonm: and they're funny.

Eve: yes but, I think he's trying to be more than funny.

Kristylef: I think they're also there to reveal his feelings only they're so
abstract no one knows what he's taking about.

Annet: Brad once told me that the proccess of making art was like ripping
into his chest and pulling out his pulsating heart for all to see, but no one
ever knew what they were looking at. "That nice." They would say.

Jasonm: HA HA

Melissa: You ever wonder if Brad looks in on these chat rooms?

Eve: I don't know he's fairly modest.

Annet: I think he like to but then he'd have to admit it.

Hinesb: I don't think he cares what others say about him.

Kristylef: no he wouldn't

Nickv: I asked him and he says he doesn't.

Jasonm: no chance.

Matty has logged in.

Tonym: not Brad.

AMYE: I don't know guys. He's a sly one. For all we know he could be
gathering material on us as we speak. I wouldn't put anything past him.
Once while…

"That Amy is a God Damn trouble maker!" Brad yelled at his computer screen. He was going to have to do something about her, but he'd have to wait till she wasn't expecting it. She could be a very formidable foe.

Matty: Hi guys sorry I'm late but you'll be glad I'm here.

Eve: do you have some gossip?

Matty: yesssssssssssssssss.

Nickv: don't tease us!

Matty: Well… I have it on good sources that Brad plans to take Bud in a new
direction. He plans to jump more than two years in the future after Bud has
recovered and focus more on the art aspect of the story and how it related to
his former depression.

Melissa: You think?

Matty: Yea! We might even be in the stor…

"No I'm not!" Brad screamed defiantly at the computer realizing somebody had leaked the truth out. "Damn. Damn. Damn." Brad got up and walked away from the computer. "Who told you!" He hit the wall. "Shit!" The element of surprise was gone.

Realizing his roommates might still be asleep he calmed himself. He took a long deep breath. There was nothing else he could do. He would have to change the plot. A major rewrite. It was going to take time, but there was no longer an easy way out. He was going to have to go straight ahead and burrow through thedepression. Something he was dreading because no wit nor creativity could dodge that bullet.