“How much do you charge?” Granger said.
“For what?” she said.
“To follow a guy.”
“What kind of guy?”
“A guy like Cowboy Bob.”
“What’s the angle?”
“I just want to know everything he does, everything he says.”
“Is that all?”
“See, I stopped doing things at some point. I don’t do things. In writing, the preference is for characters who do things. I want to turn Cowboy Bob into a character. As a character, Cowboy Bob will appeal to a certain demographic. In particular, I trust, the distaff side, who form a much more active readership than their male counterparts, according to respected surveys.”
“Sure. You provide the raw material of a life, I fashion it into art. In addition to your fee, I’ll thank you in the acknowledgements section.”
“What about Cowboy Bob? You plan on thanking him? In your little acknowledgements section?”
“That doesn’t seem wise. This would be strictly between us. You and me. A professional arrangement. I assume you have some sort of confidentiality clause in your contract?”
“I’m no rat, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“By the way, my last acknowledgements section wasn’t ‘little.’ It was over thirty pages long. I’m thorough, and I think you’ll find I’m grateful in a perceptive and extremely flattering way.”
“So you’re going to basically take this guy’s life without his permission and crap all over it.”
“You spin straw into gold.”
“Some poor schmuck should feel lucky to be immortalized by you.”
“Well, he wouldn’t know, but sure. The great part is it works equally well if his glamorous bad boy persona is all a sham and he spends his free time reading The Bridges of Madison County out loud to his comatose grandmother. I want to get that straight right up front. You don’t have to worry if the material doesn’t seem exciting enough to you. That’s where the power of fiction comes in.”
“I spent some of my childhood near Portland, Oregon. My grandmother made pickles in the washing machine.”
“It’s already filed away up here.”
“I want to be my granny. That’s my goal.”
“You want to make pickles in the washing machine?”
“I don’t have a washing machine.”
“You could do it at the laundromat.”
“You know, I’ve always wanted to dye clothes at the laundromat. But I don’t have the balls.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
“How do I know you’re not a weirdo?” she asked.
Granger didn’t answer. He was a weirdo!