“I’m giving up writing,” the man declared as he slid his empty mug towards the bartender.
“Sure, giving up writing. Maybe do something that will let you pay your bar tab instead,” the stout man behind the counter quipped.
“Very funny, Sancho, but I’m serious. I mean, I’m in my 50’s, a fucking debt-ridden civil servant, and my only child is illegitimate. What kind of legacy is that?”
“Shit man, you were in the war, you’ve traveled the world, even did some time. You have the resume of an adventurer, while I’ve been stuck here pocketing tips from drunks.”
The bartender clapped the patron’s refilled mug down on the counter, slushing foam over the sides.
“I think this is the last one, friend. I don’t want your wife coming in here threatening me with a kitchen knife again.”
“Oh, sweet Cate, I don’t deserve her. I wish I were like those writers of the shows that everyone is talking about these days. Writers of derivative stories that deaden the soul but keep their wives fat and dressed in the latest fashions. I just can’t do it. All possible stories have been written. They proclaim this a golden age. Everything of value has been discovered, written, or created. These are the end times, Sancho.”
“What about that book you wrote?”
“What was the title? Please do tell.”
“Well, it was some allusion to a Greek goddess, I think, started with a G, maybe, but I remember it was about a love triangle.”
“You’re killing me, man. Anyway, try to find a copy of that floating around. Point is, there is nothing novel to write about, storytelling has reached its end. I’m going to die and be forgotten, buried under a cheap stone that will quickly weather away.”
“Like the rest of us, my friend. So, what do you have to lose? Might as well do what makes you happy.”
“Truth is, I do love to write. Thinking about it gets me going in the mornings, makes the beer taste better, even makes Cate seem younger.”
“There you have it, Miguel, write because it gives you a hard on. Who cares if your words will be forgotten the same day you drop dead?”
“I knew there was a reason I come here, Sancho. You are a loyal friend. Yes, I will write, and I will laugh knowing that my words are only kindling in a bonfire.”
Miguel pulled a few coins from his purse and slapped them down on the counter. With a renewed vigor in his step, he walked out into the dry Madrid heat. The smell of cooking meat and horse dung made him ecstatic.
“I will write about a man, a man who symbolizes all men’s struggles. Now, let me think of an epic name – Don Alonzo, no, I want a hard sound at the beginning of his name, like Quirino. I got it!
With his pen-hand raised upwards towards the nearest church spire, Miguel shouted, “Don Quixote!”
— Hypothetical conversation translated into modern English by Thomas R. Long.
Thomas R. Long is a writer and educator living in Baltimore, Maryland.