The Famous Author has been missing from the office, what? Three or four months? Since October, when he ran off to Rome for the World Financial Crisis Conference.
Then we got an email and a photo from North Carolina, another from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in which The Famous Author was clearly intoxicated. All this time, he said he ran away because he needed a break. He needed to think (drink?) through his problems with our fourth adventure. Guess what?
It was all a lie! Look what I found on Facebook today. Here's the quote from his Status post:
"I just finished #4 in the mystery series, even though my agent has yet to sell #3. Like a man who marries for the third time, I symbolize the triumph of hope over experience."
When I saw that today, I flipped. What a bastard! And then I started wondering, worrying ... why was TFA afraid to tell me he was still working on the book? On the previous three, I worked with him in the office on all aspects of the novel. In #3, TFA worked with Mama Bones at her house for a few weeks, but he always came back to the office to finish up her sections. He liked to show them to me. I've never been worried about Mama Bones stealing the show.
Until tonight. After I saw that Facebook post, I worked the phones for three hours to get TFA on the line. Mexico. Florida. New York City. I found him at home in New Jersey, the son-of-a-bitch. It was just after midnight. I got lucky. He made a mistake and picked up the phone.
"You bastard!" I said. "You've been home all this time, haven't you? And you finished the book without me? You left me here in this cold office and told me you were screwing off?"
"Take it easy, Austin."
"What the hell happened?"
"There's no easy way to say this -- I decided to give Mama Bones a much bigger role. This one's almost as much her story as yours."
My heartbeat ticked two notches higher. "What? This is MY series, you genre hack! You can't do that."
"Keep calling me names, I'll drop you from the series entirely. Male protags don't sell that well anyway."
I gagged and had to hang up. I couldn't even talk. I went into my condo kitchen and poured three fingers of Wild Turkey. I had half of it down when the phone rang. It was TFA.
"Listen, Austin, try not to be upset. I'll be in tomorrow, we can talk. I'll make sure the thermostat gets turned up, too."
"Thanks," I said. "I feel so much better."