The Diffident Hero - NaNoWriMo 2012 - Day 2 pt. 1

“I’m not in marketing.” He felt the beginnings of a mild headache coming on. The kind you get when the kids are unexpectedly home from school and just won’t shut up and the phone keeps ringing and there’s a knock at the door and you’ve got something on the stove that’s going to boil over at any moment and suddenly there’s hippopotamus in the middle of your living room. It was shaping up to be just that kind of day.

“Unless you’re paying someone else to do it for you, yes, you are. Your work is amazing, and you never let anyone know about it. This is your chance! The whole world is going to hear about this story. I’m shocked that your phone isn’t ringing your ear off already!”

As though it had been waiting for those words to be spoken, Brandon’s phone rang. He checked the caller ID. Mom. He took the call.

“Hi Mom. No, I haven’t seen the news yet. No, it just happened, I’m still on my way home. Yes, I really caught her. No, I don’t know how it happened … no, I don’t know anything about the fire. Yes, I’m fine, they checked me over, no glass hit me, no burns, nothing … look, Mom, I’ll call you later, I have to go. Love you too.”

As he disconnected, he saw his notifications pop down. Two messages. No, three. Then the phone rang again, this time an unlisted number.

“Oh frak,” he cursed, the headache gaining new shades of depth and color. He let it go to messages. He’d read whatever they had to say later.

“Frak? What is wrong with you? Look, it’s really easy. When these people talk to you, and they will, just mention your work. It doesn’t get much easier than that.” He was equal parts exasperation and incredulity, and Brandon had to smile despite the growing pain between his eyes.

“Okay, okay, fine. I’ll do my best to cash in on this … whatever this is, I swear.” His art was just a hobby to him, not something he really had any intention of making a living at. He liked to spend his time holed up in his studio messing around with different artistic styles and subjects. Sometimes he put his work online to sell prints, but Derrick was right; he didn’t really put any effort into marketing it.

Despite that, he actually did have a few fans, and he usually sold enough in a month to supply him with coffee the next month. Most of his friends were firmly convinced he could do a lot better with a bit of a push. Derrick was determined to do the pushing. He was an internet marketing genius, and it drove him crazy to see Brandon wasting what, to his mind, was such a simple and easy opportunity to make what could be a lot more money.

Brandon had struggled long and hard with how to explain himself to Derrick, even though he really had no need to. Brandon was very happy with keeping things simple, staying on the low end of the attention scale, letting his “online business” grow at its own pace, if that’s what it was going to do.

“You won’t regret it. Man, if only I had an opportunity like this. I can’t believe you didn’t jump on it when you were on with those TV guys! But yeah, yeah, I know. Anyway, I gotta go take care of some stuff. Catch you later, Ben!”

“See you, Derrick,” he said, grimacing as the headache increased another notch. He swiftly walked the rest of the way home, ignoring his phone, which was now ringing regularly and silently; he’d had to put it into silent mode after the first five calls. By the time he passed through the lobby of his apartment block and hit the button for the 7th floor, his notifications informed him that he had 23 messages waiting for his attention.

He squeezed his eyes closed and rubbed his temples with a groan. It was going to be a long night. He let himself into his place and wasted no time pouring himself a double scotch, neat. The clean, sparsely-decorated apartment soothed his agitated mind; the headache grew a little less as he just soaked in the familiarity.

The colors were a bit muted and dark for most people’s taste, but he liked the effect. While the apartment wasn’t huge, it wasn’t tiny either, not for a two-bedroom anyway. The colors made the place seem a bit smaller, which was okay by him, and the shelves that lined the walls of the living room enhanced that impression. They were filled with books and nick-knacks from various times of his life.

He sipped the scotch and sighed with relief. He glanced at the phone and frowned at the steadily-climbing number of messages; it was now up to 33. He set it down on the counter, plugged it in to charge, and and vanished into the comfortable, quiet familiarity of his studio.