The Book I Will Write #65: The Book is an Instrument of Death

flemingTHE BOOK I WILL WRITE by John Henry Fleming is a serial novel-in-emails about a would-be writer named John Henry Fleming who is desperate to publish a book. THE BOOK I WILL WRITE is a work in progress; readers are invited to make comments and influence the outcome. Fleming has been exchanging emails with an editorial assistant and a senior editor at Knopf, as well as with an agent. He’s been kicked out of his apartment, and is living at the library following a kidnapping episode with The Zeppelin Society. He’s recently joined a memoir group that meets in the library. Someone seems to be trying to lure Fleming out of the library to kill him, and the memoir group has agreed to confront the threat with him.


Mary Ann “Annie” Lankowski

Interim Senior Editor

Knopf Publishing


Dear Annie,

I spent what might be my last night in the library supply closet, alone with my thoughts and my novel ideas. I know I must go through with this plan. I must confront my fate. But am I wrong to include the Grandmoirs, who have their own books to write and years of retired living to enjoy?

Yes, I decided. It is wrong, and I must do this myself. I’ll tell them so when they arrive at our appointed meeting place outside the library at 9:00 this morning. Just an hour away.

Alone in total darkness last night, I tried jotting down a few notes about my novel in case I don’t make it through the day and never get the chance to write it. Somebody should write it, I decided. Authorship isn’t even important anymore. Only art. And it feels necessary for this creation to see the light and find its readership. It would be enough for it to exist.

I may not be the one to bring it about, but I’ll be at peace knowing I helped.

I found I couldn’t write a thing. Not one note. Instead, I thought of you. I thought of those times we might have had together if we were the ex-lovers you like to think we were. Those memories seem real to me, too. Those carefree days taste-testing coffee shops all over the Village. Those long walks in Central Park. That time you got mad at me and it was all just a misunderstanding. When we imagine them together, they become real. They’re as palpable to me as our email exchanges.

I’ll be thinking of those memories as I take a walk down Main Street one hour from now. I’ll be thinking of them as I peer through the window of the Special Friendly Cuddle-Time Bookshoppe, and as I climb the steps and open the rusted blue door of the Free MonE Place, and again as I step behind the dumpster to the temporary home of the Boo-Boo Kittenbunny Pet Shoppe, and also when I cross the parking lot and step through the green door of the Auxiliary Authority Station, where someone will be waiting for me with either a book or an instrument of death. In some cases, the two are one and the same.

Goodbye, Annie. If you don’t hear from me in person, you’ll hear of me on the news, and at least you’ll know you were with me at the end. Thank you for making me an important part of your invented memories. Thank you for sticking by me through my struggles to write and publish. I have one more struggle to go, and it’s time.


John Henry Fleming