Always Wanted to Float a River

Discourse between agent and writer veers on and off topic during a brief office interlude.

“I’ve always wanted to write a book,” ponders the agent.

“Really? I’ve always wanted to float a river,” seizes Gaboo, “a real long one. A great meandering trough that bends through geological eras. Sometimes I imagine that I am on a special raft just for me. Not too fancy. Not one of those grand paddle wheelers fired and slapping mother water, full of pianos and whiskey—that would be awful upkeep. But simpler, logs and planks, and a humble shack, and a pot belly stove. And a stool. And a flag…

Sheets of sky hang above a rolling terrain that slopes in soft vees toward my one horizon, curving ever beyond. Hours rocking and bobbing, shifting with a breeze from this ebb to that eddy. And all the stories along the shoreline! Fields and pastures. Cottages in the narrows. Laundry on lines and river punts dragged ashore with worn nets and crates of an others labors. I can hear the eagles and osprey. The herons mime predatory poses for toads, bullheads, and my gawk…

And the friendships—the tows and stows. Fares that turn into shared lunches and month long excursions of living together on a journey, and having the time and acceptance to appreciate another for their words and their contemplation. Watching change in slow change together. I’m sentimental for the byways that course a river. I miss the pause, and the drift of memories unveiled on a living current…

I could start today, with a hammer and saw. I could build that raft. Would you be there? To climb aboard, help navigate the piers and the deadheads, shine the waitresses and the barkeeps, help steer into tomorrow? Where was I? Oh yes, you want to write a book! Where were we? Grab that line… And we’re underway—let it take—that’s it. So stories? Gosh, stories of the ones dead or the ones still living? The simple moments rush to mind, but most people want the tales where someone loses an arm, or a wife, or their self respect. Vicarious creatures we are. Stuck in a world with media screaming that fob danglin on a flappin lip sassin she’s bored with yOu—is all that matters. I say irrelevant.”

“I wasn’t listening.”

“Where were you then?”

“I dunno. I gave up thinking about where I should be. Not since the last bend—wherever that was.”

“Aah, gotcha, I digress.”

“Maybe I’ll jump out of the plot for awhile. You know, get grounded—back to business.”

“Business ain’t it. Look at this! Look at what we’ve got—freedom. Total freedom.”

“It’s not freedom. Maybe it is for you, Gaboo. You dreamed up this whole raft adventure. I just wanted to write a book, you know, get down some thoughts.”

“So you’d give up all this? No fences, no time, no regrets—”

“Your river will flow, G, you’re on your own. I’m swimming ashore.”

“Don’t forget the times we had!”

“Go ahead, Gaboo…”

“In all seriousness, I’ve decided to write satire.”

“I knew you couldn’t just let me be!” Your feathered eyebrows sweep in a position of surmise.

Gaboo practices cheery stances, “That’s because I’m observing everything. Observe, absorb. Observe, absorb. Sooner or later I have this call to affect—so I spew it back out. Now there’s all these scenes and happenings, occurrences, and chances that pour out laterally. I pull from a big search engine in the brain. Lately, I’m noticing light, because our tilt is changing the seasons, bringing in the sun on a different angle. Makes me notice the underside of things more.”

“Please don’t tell me you think I’m the underside.”

“Let’s get intimate, throw you in second person POV—you reach for a cup. The porcelain’s warm. Maroon coals radiate a wine glow from your eyes. When you speak, your voice is intoxicating, but your words are logical—”

“It’s just that you flaunt the asinine, Gaboo. Give us a plot, or at minimum, a character we can grab. Not all this spontaneous stuff. Look at yourself, you drove up in an antique fire truck—you’re wearing a dalmatian suit. People don’t do that. Give us a story that we can relate to. Tell us about an individual who goes through conflict and resolve. Issue something for the reader.”

Gaboo sneezes past his finger, sliding off the hood of Search Engine 23 into a jetboy suit, “But I don’t wanna talk about some character. I wanna talk about the Reader.”

You (second person writers’ agent with grand feathered eyebrows) eat the cup, flick on an anteater vacuum and begin to suck the dimensional backdrop into Gaussian streaks, a life’s dreamed acrylic smudges. You’re astounded by your own ingenuity, “Hey! I should have done this earlier.”

Gaboo spurs his fur seahorse out of range. The fire engine liquefies, swirling tub-style up a zen nozzle. The last treasure, a nineteenth century brigade bell from the Chicago Fire, oozes out of existence.

“Hey! That was tinkly. It took a whole four seconds to visualize.”

“This is good for you. I want you start with a simple premise.” Your rainbow-cleaving vacuum appliance sucks itself smaller until only a faint moth sized glow floats in midair, which you pluck and push into your third eye. It makes a drip sound like whole milk or tomato juice. “Let’s follow a character over a span of time,” you announce.

“No scrambling point-of-views? C’mon. What’s the point of writing?” Gaboo whines, which means winding, bending, not really reticent.

“No, stick with one character for more than a page,” you insist.


Geraldine had given up trying to discern the voices. Now they were mumbling again. Whoever they were, these people were not being considerate. Management should have been quite specific. The renter has to be quiet. Mr. Jergins assured Geraldine that the new tenants would only be living upstairs until the post thread was over. Their behavior is ridiculous. Boat horns, arguing, vacuums, and a fire bell?


We catch you catching the glance of the maitre d’, “Soup? Would you like soup, Gaboo? I’m having soup—and please leave the innocents out of the plot, OK?”

“Sure, whatever. I’ll have the raw conch. They soak it in lime juice—three days!”

“I you must, but what about my idea, you writing a real story?”

“I’ll think about it. Seems kinda limiting.”

“But this will be good for you, G. Discipline. You can jump in at any moment of the story,”

“Can it be entirely fiction—surreal? A fairy tale?”

“As long as there’s a beginning…” you cough up a brittle pleisosaur bone, “and a middle…” then gag out a Tenant Grievance Notice, “and an end.”

“OK, I’ll give it a try.”

Gaboo folds his words in half, and once again, fashioning two deltas at the edges. Then he thinks it larger, climbs into the cockpit, and lights the pot belly stove.

“I’m gonna need a harmonica.”


Always Wanted To Float A River © 2011 Gaboo. Read more of Gaboo’s odd interactions, click his tag.


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