So All The World's A Stage? A Short Story
The conference room door over at Hubpages looked about the way I expected. It was just down the hallway from the bigwigs, the gray low pile carpet led me there and I stood outside listening to hushed voices through it. I took a big breath, then pushed into the room.
Silence greeted me.
J. J. Justice sat at the end of the conference table with Steve Eaglefeather. He nodded when I stepped in and then he sipped some coffee from the white cup with the black and white photo of the old swinging bridge on it. Eaglefeather was checking out Dr. Janson's legs. She was in the yellow dress which helped explain Steve’s fascination. Bob Harris, the retired Captain from Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD, was pretending to ignore Steve Eaglefeather. He glanced at his iPad, then turned to look at me.
It was the cowboy who spoke first.
"This the guy who brought us here?" Roland said. "Sure doesn't look like much to me."
"I've tried to explain this to him, Ronnie." Dr. Janson got up from her chair and we all watched her walk to the coffee pot that had been set up on the other side of the room. She poured a cup and brought it back and handed it to Roland.
"Why are we here?" Captain Lewis flipped the cover back onto his iPad. "I got places to go, people to see."
"He feels a disturbance in the force," Justice said pointing his cup at me.
"You've always thought you were funny," I said.
"I get it from you," he said. The words hung there like stale smoke in a 70's disco bar.
"Something odd happened last week," I said.
Roland sipped, Justice sipped, and everyone else just stared at me.
"I was working on a story about our new buddy Roland here, and I didn't remember his wife's first name-"
"Rose," Roland said and the hurt in his voice was palpable. "Victoria Rose."
"That's what I thought," I said.
"Of course it is," said Doctor Johnson.
"Anyway," I said taking back control of the conversation. "I noticed that I had spelled the word 'sat’ as s-e-t but that was not the way it should have been spelled because I was talking about someone ..."
Eaglefeather yawned, leaned back in his chair, and kicked his boots up on the table.
"This might be important," I said.
Roland drew a leather pouch from his vest pocket and I watched him as he rolled a cigarette. He put it in the corner of his mouth and pulled a match from the other vest pocket.
"You can't smoke that in here," I said.
He lit the match on the heel of his boot, then the cigarette, and blew smoke in my direction.
Eaglefeather laughed. I coughed then continued.
"So when I found that mistake, I tried to go do the edit and that's when I found out the story was not listed as a Hubpages.com story but a Letterpile.com story."
Again they all just stared at me.
"I thought both your stories had been stolen," I said to Roland.
"Rustlers, huh. First thing you said that I understand."
I looked to the others for help but there was none to be had.
"Okay, then what about this," I said. "I saw in the forums that Google had changed the way they do business and that is why some of this is happening. But what if Hubpages ceases to exist?"
"What's a google?" Roland asked and everyone but me thought that was the funniest thing.
It was Eaglefeather who finally got things back on track.
"So all the world's a stage, and what, we just exist at your whim?"
"Pretty much," I said.
"Me and JJ here go back further than Hubpages."
"Because I dreamed you up a decade ago."
"Dr. Janson and I have to go." Bob Harris stood and waited but Dr. Janson was staring at Roland.
"Now I know who you remind me of," she said. "If Tom Selleck and Clint Eastwood had a child, he would grow up to look like you."
"I don't know those two fellows, but it ain't as if two men could get married!" Roland laughed.
Now everybody stared at him.
"What about this?" Eaglefeather picked up an old faded green army issue field jacket from an empty chair. The name VALENTINE was stenciled across the pocket.
In the deathly quiet that folowed, Dr. Janson took Roland's cup to the counter, poured fresh coffee in a new cup. She was headed back when Steve spoke again.
"You could rewrite his story and bring him back, couldn't you?"
I was shocked that I had not thought of that. I was working on a book of short stories and had included the Valentine tales.
"More coffee?" Dr. Janson asked.
But when I looked up she wasn't there. Instead it was the curious waitress from the Waffle House standing at my table.
Both my coffee and the waffle were cold.