The Sad Life of the Middle Aged Man

Harold dials 0-2- 0-4- 4-5- 4-3- 1-9- 6.
“I finished it.”
“You see, his wife was having tea with the king and he didn’t even know about it. That’s
– that’s the big ending.” Silence. “George? You still there?”
“You cannot be serious, Harold. Are my ears clogged…have you clogged them with your
“…I finished the book, George… and I feel good about it. I do. I—”
“Enough. I’ve heard enough. You mean to tell me that this poor excuse for a novel is
comprised of nothing but the sad life of a middle-aged man?”
“Not every story has to be exciting, George – that’s called life…it’s realistic.”
“I don’t sell reality, Harry!” George shouts, then sighs, “you haven’t written anything in
five years.”
“It hasn’t exactly been rainbows. I have a—”
“Family. Yes, I know that Harold. That’s the whole reason I’ve been staying with you for
so long. And you’re lucky for it, too. I could be with the top ones, the moneymakers.
People who know how to write.”
“I’ve made you millions—”
“With something written years ago. You’re a – how do they say it in America? – one hit
“I’m done, Harold. Your time is up. Look for a new publisher.”
“Do it for me.” Alice walks, less than a block from her apartment.
“No, Alice. I have no interest.”
“It’s modern. You’ll come to love it. Perfect for a London native.” She reaches for the
keys in her back pocket.
“It’s just not the type of thing I usually go through with.”
“And what happens if someone else nicks it?”
“Nothing. I’ve got a ton of other candidates.”
“And what about us?” Alice unlocks the door, taking her shoes off as she walks in.
“I’m still with you. You’ll end up well off. I’ll make sure of it, love.”
“Hello, love.” Harold kisses Alice hello as she enters their home.
“Who was that on your cell?”
“My buyer. He’s getting nervous about the apartment, even though I’ve been easing him
into it for two months now.”
“I’m telling you, it’s those damn condos up in Norwich.”
“Relax, Harold. How did it go today with – with…”
“George.” Harold and Alice look at each other with hesitation.
“Right. Haven’t seen him in ages.” Harold looks towards the floor.
“Rather not talk about it…Ollie came home today with his report card. He wants to show
you. The boy will have no problem getting into a University, I’ll tell you that.”
“My bright boy.”
“Love you.”
“Only you.”
“Ouch! Hot, hot, hot.” Harold removes the chicken from the oven.
“Dad, Dad, Dad…” Oliver comes racing into the kitchen with a plastic airplane in his
“Watch out, Ollie! The chicken is steaming and your mother’s cell—” Oliver loses his
balance, falling alongside his mother’s cellphone.
“…Sorry, Dad.”
“Go play by the telly.” Harold picks up the phone.
On the cracked screen appears: CALL BACK? 020 – 4454 – 3196
“I thought you were done with him.” Alice and Harold lie in bed side by side. Alice looks
up from her laptop.
“…Harold. It was a long time ago. Ages. You are the only man I love.” Alice closes her
computer and faces Harold. “Look at me. You are the father of my child, the only man I
have tea with every morning and go to sleep next to every night,” she places her hand to
his cheek, “nobody could stop me from loving you.” Harold’s breath catches a moment.
“Except the King,” Harold mutters to himself.
“Nothing.” His eyes sag, defeated, yet he remains staring at his wife, “…love you,”
Harold whispers, expressionless.
“Only you.”