The first time I saw Sandy Insane I must admit I wasn't too impressed. She looked like a small earthquake could open up a fissure and she'd get her foot caught up in it. She acted like she was too damn big to be affected by natural disasters. I liked her the minute I saw her.
For me, a man doin' life for felony hyperbole, she was just my type. She made a Rueben's woman look like a starving anorexic. I imagined she could pass gas in a swimmin' pool and leave it empty and dry. A vision of her wearin' a circus tent as a mini skirt sent my blood pressure literally skyrocketing past the moon into another space-time continuum. The thought of an elephant family sneaking out from under that skirt, their trunks all entwined … OH MERCY!
They say she was a free verser. She'd just put words all over the damn place. Vertically, horizontally … letters not even connected sometimes. They say she sent a get-well card to her grandma in hospice care that caused granny's death. "Get well soon, Grandma." That's all it said. The irony caused grandma's brain to liquefy. Like I say, I liked her immediately.
Me? I'm Theo Sorryass. I can get you things. You need a verb? It'll cost ya', but I'm the man, individual, person, homo sapiens who can get it for you. You want an adverb? That'll cost extra and you don't know me. You rat, fink, squeal, roll, fold or in any way reveal who I am, we don't do business again.
Most of us are lifers here at FanStory.
I walked up to Sandy. "What you in for?"
"They say you can't make money with a poetry book. They're wrong."
We all busted up at that one.
Sandy said, "What the hell's so funny?"
I laughed. "Don't you know, Sandy? None of us belong here. How bout you Wackydo?"
"Publisher screwed me. Lied about my royalties."
"How 'bout it Writingmywayoutofapaperbag?"
"Agent stole my script. Playin' on Broadway and I'm stuck here at FanStory listening to hacks tell me I'm wonderful. Duh, I already know that."
Sandy looks at me. "What you in for, Sorryass?"
"Well, you're lookin' at the one author on FanStory who belongs here. I can't write a lick."
About that time, Warden Tom came up with the Writin' For Money program some of you may have heard of. It turns out Sandy was a proofreader and a plagiarist on the outside. Warden Tom had him mailing copy all over the country. The royalty checks were rollin' in like … like, well, I told you I can't write a lick. All that money coming in to Tom Warden. It was perfect. There was no Tom Warden; he was a phantom, a figment of Sandy's imagination.
Sandy and I talked about it a lot.
"Look, Sandy, you don't really have a choice here. He's in charge. He's takin' a liking to you and you get special privileges to boot. So you write some dull stuff. Someone has to write it. Why not you? Big deal."
"Yeah. I hear you. But, he's makin' all that money and not writing a word himself. Half of the drivel I send in is crap I remember off box tops or Reader's Digest articles. It isn't creative writing, Theo."
"You'll do it, Sandy. You'll do it and you'll like it. He can mute you in a heartbeat. There's more to this than you know. Don't you find it strange that within a week of joining this place you are addicted to it? I can find you here any hour of the day or night. Does that sound normal to you? There's something he's doing to us none of us understands. This isn't just a bunch of poets writing a few ditties and having a little talk about them. We're all obsessed with this. I post every day. You hear me, every damn day! Sunday, Fourth of July, my birthday, whatever, every damn day!"
"Yeah, yeah, well I like to write. But you have a point. I wrote almost half a million words in my first year. That's twice as much as I've written in my whole life. I guess I'm stuck. But, dammit, I had that poetry book and it was making money. I don't know what happened there. I had hope."
"Hope can be a dangerous thing. It can... well, it ... damn, I wish I could write! Anyway, you keep talking about a damn poetry book like it's real. Ah, yeah, Sandy, a poetry book making money. Well, you don't have it now. It's best to forget about that and concentrate on the matters at hand. Look here, 5-7-5 about sidewalks. Good topic. Get going on that, that's real."
"Get off the sidewalk!
Say, what are you a yeahoo?"
"Yep, Sandy was here."
That should be a winner. It's like I always say, get busy writing or get busy reviewing."
ElvisPresleyTypeCharacter came to FanStory in the spring of 87. He was an idiot. We all liked him. He started telling a story that caught Sandy's ear. It seems he had a girlfriend who was in to poetry. Well, he aimed to please, so he used his employee discount to get a copy of Treacle of Tears, a top selling poetry book at the time.
Sandy stopped him there. "Treacle of Tears"?
"Yeah. It was all sissy, Nancy boy, pantywaist stuff, a bunch of girly, boo-hoo, crybaby flowers and love. She liked it though, and I liked her you see, so…"
"That's my book. I told you poetry books could make money. I've got to tell Warden Tom. I don't belong at FanStory. This is my ticket out of here."
Sandy took her story to Warden Tom. It didn't go like she thought it would. She came back a couple days later and told us that ElvisPresleyTypeCharacter couldn't be found anywhere on the site. I can still hear her telling me what Warden Tom told her:
"Let's put this behind us, Sandy. You're doing some real writing now. Look at the money in your account, all those member cent pumps. Some crazy kid comes in here and turns your head. He's gone now. There's just FanStory. Now get back to work."
Then one day Sandy escaped. I knew she had it in her. I missed her of course. I'd sit around trying to imagine her at a book signing. She told me to meet her at Walden Book's in Fresno if I ever got out. I dream of that.
It's been two months and I see Sandy's name in my message box. I expected it for the first couple of weeks, but now, I guess it's a surprise. I click on it:
"Hey Sorryass, I'm back. It wasn't what I expected out there. Here I'm excellent all the time. Hell, I'm exceptional a good part of the time. People know my name here. They think I'm special. I sent a book to Simon and Schuster, a children's book. They told me they didn't publish children's books with the "F" word in them. Just like that, no discussion, nothing! Wow, what a sweet world that must be where a child never hears the "F" word. So, this is where I'm staying. I'm a FanStory gal. I've no use for the world out there. I crawled through a river of rejection and misery to find freedom. FanStory for life!"