Gotta do it. It's time for a change. And not just a simple tune-up, either, but a complete overhaul, a total make-over, a metamorphosis, a transformation. A change in tone, style, the works. First of all, to attract a different kind of reader, I'm going to switch to a third person narrative. In addition, he's (I'm) switching to the past tense, to give it that extra touch of "class." ("Class?"! -- Ed.)
Now he was writing in the past tense, and in the third person. Perhaps he felt that, by distancing himself from the heart of the story, by remaining above, and aloof, he could maintain better control of his prose, and not let his doubts and fears overwhelm him.
"Where are we?" asked Maureen, just back from getting her keys copied, but looking years younger -- not surprising since this was now many years ago.
"I... don't... know," he answered her with difficulty, missing the comfort and security of speaking in the first person. "I think we're somewhere in the past."
"Whose past?" Maureen wondered. "Yours or mine?"
"Probably mine," he said, beginning to realize his dilemma. "I must have decided to write in the past tense, because we're both much younger and, and -- hey! My watch! The one I lost five years ago!"
Excitedly, he took the watch off and held it to his ear. "And it still works!"
"Jim, calm down, it should work, shouldn't it? At least conceptually."
"Yeah, sure, but -- hey!" He pointed animatedly to something in the distance. "Look!"
She looked, but it was too far away to make out. Was it an elephant? A marching band? The Goodyear Blimp? A ten-foot-tall tuning fork? It was impossible to tell.
"What am I looking at, Jim?"
"Can't you tell? Here, I'll draw it for you." Out of the nothingness he plucked an artist's drawing tablet and some charcoal and started sketching. She tried to peek but he wouldn't let her see it. He continued sketching. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching.
"Hey!" shouted Maureen. "Let's go! Get on with it! Show me, or them, or somebody, whatever the hell it is you're drawing and let's get on with it!"
She was livid. Time after time he'd deceived her, sending her in so many directions she was going crazy. And she'd begun to feel unappreciated. Here she was, a friend, a confidante, someone who had been there for him whenever he needed her. And, here she was, a character in his book, and not just any character but probably the most important character (at least thus far -- hey! Pssst! Guess who's writing this? That's right! It's me, Maureen! What do you think? Never mind, gotta go -- 'bye!) in this mostly-incomprehensible mess.
"I hear what you're thinking," he mumbled, still sketching.
She didn't care. She was in charge now. She was the one pushing the plot, directing the action. Characters would do her bidding! No more motorboats off the coast of Maine, no more train rides to nowhere, no more nonsense...
She grabbed the drawing tablet out of his hands and saw what he was drawing.
"Don't tell them," he pleaded, suddenly finding himself naked and vulnerable.
"You don't want me to tell the readers that you've been drawing a picture of -- "
He was begging now, and she couldn't refuse. "Okay, Jim. But, otherwise, you're history."
With some sadness he stepped away, and out of the story.
(This ends Chapter Twelve. Oh no! I've never mentioned this to Jim, but I am extremely superstitious. If it's all right with everyone I'd like to change the title of the next chapter.)