The race was on – pool versus book. They were starting the wall, he was starting the second draft. He’d been away – they hadn’t got much done. He’d worked well, got up a head of steam, knew where the plot was going. The story was clear as an architect’s plan. The book was the odds-on favourite. No question.
The view from the window. Every so often, he rose from his desk to look. They were doing well too, no doubt about that. It spurred him on: they poured cement, he poured out words. For each of their planks, he nailed a dozen lines, hammering the words into place. Finished the chapter, set it in cement.
They were out in the sun, hauling and drilling and sawing, helmets heavy in the heat. He was inside with the ventilator. He went to the window and watched. They were mixing a paragraph with sand, tipping it into a barrow. They were building a row of chapters to support the wall. They’d need four or five, maybe more.
He went back to the desk, and saw that his words were loose. The screws weren’t right. They belonged to the story, but they wouldn’t fit. He leant back, trying to capture the music of the paragraph. It had to be there somewhere, hidden deep in the screech of the saw, the throbbing rumble of the drill.
With a howl, he gathered his notes and threw them out of the window. The workers watched the sentences roll down the road. One of them took a broom, swept the words into a pile and shovelled them into the barrow, verbs, nouns, adjectives tumbling in pell-mell. He showed them to the foreman, who examined them, nodded, and added them to the cement. The writing was on the wall. In the wall. Forever.
The writer went back to his desk and stared at the screen, smooth and empty as a freshly built facade of cement.