The vestibule opened up into a single office with a large, ornate wooden desk placed nearly in the middle. I walked toward the grizzled character behind the desk, and became the focus of his gaze. He said, “How may I be of assistance to ye – er, I haven’t had the pleasure, mister . . . ahr?”
I replied, “Jones, David Jones.” Both nervous and intent I scoured the single soul occupying the office.
“Well Mr. Jones, how then can I help ye?” With that question, the bedraggled man broke into a toothy smile. The bright sparkle of his front gold tooth as it caught the light could have been an electric shock; I took a step back at his wide smile more than his inquiry.
“I brought my manuscript – I’d like to submit it for publication – For the prize you advertised.”
“Ah, yes the prize! Well let me see young, buck-o.” I immediately handed him the manuscript as commanded. After looking at it for a minute, he replied, “Me, names Edward Thatch—er, Thatcher, but you can call me Eddie!” He stuck out his hand while holding my manuscript in the other, pumping my hand hard; celebrating the pleasure he had found in making my acquaintance.
He returned to my work and made faces, changed the angle at which he looked at the work, stopped, banged the desk with both hands and looked up, “Very, interesting Mister Jones. I’ll have you take this manuscript with you to the next step in the process, through that gangway, or, er, door.”
I looked across the room and saw a closed door, walked over, my footsteps adding to the wear pattern of the carpet, and pulled the door open. The bright light blinded me for several seconds but as I took a step forward, I felt a spring in the floorboard. As I looked down, I saw a single plank in the bright light, suspended over open blue water. I felt a shove and the point of a cutlass as the door slammed behind my back and my feet gave way to the end of the board. The last thing I thought was that my manuscript really wasn’t that bad, was it?