The Lonely Man

Timothy Carl was a writer of profound stories- short stories in fact.  His themes were always deep and they reached out into the farthest corners of philosophical thought.

Fifteen of his short stories had been published in various and mostly reputable anthologies and each of them received resounding reviews of an absolutely positive nature.  His acclaim had won him respect among the intellectual communities of both literary and philosophical interests.

And so it was, that Timothy Carl began his ultimate work, the finest and most worthy piece ever to be penned by mortal man.  His themes were as deep as any of the great thinkers before him, deeper perhaps than most.  He wrote the essence of mankind; artistically developing the most profound fundamentals that commonly run through all human minds.

His masterpiece grew up fast and strong from the seeds of fear, doubt, love, purpose.  The world outside remained busy and ignorant- ignorant that such a work was being developed so nearby.

Shakespeare envied the creative style with which Carl worked; Tolstoy desired his unadulterated simplicity.  This was the creation of his lifetime indeed.

After nine months locked away in his study, the much paler, much thinner author emerged to smell the air and feel the sun once more.  He walked only to the nearby street corner to stretch his legs, but quickly looped back to his apartment.  He was afraid that if he left his work alone, some danger might befall it.

As the man stood outside, his work sat on the small desk of his simple study.  Two hundred and thirty-four pages, revised, edited and perfected.

On the morning that Carl had planned to send his manuscript to be published, he was scanning the literary section of the local paper.  A particular title caught his attention, printed in a thick headline font it read:  “The Lonely Man”.  An intriguing title, he mused for a moment.  It seemed somewhat familiar, yet vaguely foreign.  The description of the novel had been stained by spilled coffee, but its subject seemed predictable enough from the title.

Carl set out immediately for the bookstore, anxious to break into this mysterious, magnificent book.

He took his new purchase from its paper bag and sat beneath the nearest large tree.  It had a wonderful beginning, and he was instantly drawn into the character of both the protagonist and his setting.  The structure was perfect, the narration- exquisite.

He didn’t stop nor pause until he reached the final chapter.  The conclusion loomed before him when suddenly the glorious emotion that had been building was expelled.  A great and heavy reality suffocated the author’s mind.  This was the perfect story.  His would never be better than what he had just read.

And then, the worst realization hit him.  This was his story.  He was not the author, but this was his story.

He ran home, the tears flushed his eyes and washed down across his open mouth.  His chest tightened at the same time that it tore apart from within.

There, silent and innocent on his desk, sat his final work- his life, his purpose.

Those words could never be exposed to any other eyes, not after the story he had just finished reading.

The police could only find the author’s glasses lying on the floor in front of the fireplace where his book had burned.

The next year, a sequel was published to “The Lonely Man”.

7 comments on “The Lonely Man

  • Rich:


    Nice job of writing. Now to find another topic that doesn’t seem like an autobiography. Give us profoundness without telling us that it is deep.

  • Rich:

    When one clicks on the “Full article” on FB it should open in a seperate window instead of replacing FB.

  • Ah, the blood, sweat, and tears that a writer suffers for the craft.

    Well done!

  • I often wonder if my ideas are floating around in the air and someone might catch them before I write them down. Good writing.

  • Nice concept and nicely told. But wouldn’t he have recognized it as he read it under the tree? That’s the only part that had me wondering.

    I had a friend who firmly believed that all these creative elements, be it prose, poetry, sculpture, or scientific discovery, are just out there floating around, waiting for someone to glom onto them.

    So write quickly! 😉

  • Chad:

    Thanks for all your comments!

    @Rich: I don’t have any control over the Facebook behavior, it’s just one of the apps that I use. As for the autobiography and profoundness, it is hidden in the story and from the comments so far, has yet to be identified. I have hidden my message behind the obviousness of the character’s intent. 🙂

    @Marisa & Susan: Thank you both for stopping by. I have enjoyed both of your writings and am anxious to see what will come next!

    @J.M Strother: The idea around his lack of recognition was this: the story itself was so essential to him that he couldn’t separate what he wrote from the reality that he experienced. (In this case, the book that he was reading.)

    He had put in his book such a profound reflection of himself that he was no longer separated from it. So then, his lack of recognition under the tree was meant to display that we often see ourselves in the things around us, and while we note some vague familiarity, we often don’t see our own faults and essence.

    I will certainly be working on more clearly presenting such ideas.

    Thanks all!

  • Very nice work, C! Definitely had me thinking! I went back and reread, with your elucidation in mind, but I still want to know what happened to the guy – did he have a heart attack (chest tightens as it tears apart?) or did he disappear as his book disappeared (became the book) into ashes, or did he burn the book and go write the sequel? No matter how many times I read it I kept wondering! Are you willing to tell us? I need to know!!!

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