High Lonesome Sound by Jaye Wells



The bookstore used to be a temple where he’d communed with the gods of story, but now it felt like a crypt where his dreams had gone to die. The musty scent of old paper and binding glue, once so dear, now repulsed him, made him ashamed.
He pasted a smile on his face for the old woman behind the counter. Last time he’d been in for a book signing, she’d predicted big things for his career. Now she barely met his eyes as she waved. “Mr. West,” she said in a patronizing tone.
He scanned the store to see if any fans might poke their heads over shelves to catch a glimpse of famous horror author, Peter West. But there were only two other people in the store—a five-year-old boy and his mother, who was too busy forestalling a tantrum to be impressed by the arrival of an almost-big-time novelist.
The woman behind the checkout desk busied herself placing stickers on copies of the latest blockbuster horror novel from that hack author Hollywood loved. All the reviewers called him, “a natural storyteller,” which every real writer knew meant he couldn’t write his way out of a grocery list, but he still sold a metric ton of copies, regardless of his lack of talent. Peter took a deep breath and dismissed that old rant because the only way to shut up that voice was to drown it with whiskey.