“This time I’ll knock first,” Noam assured Stella as they stood at the Rewriter’s red door. She smiled quickly at Noam, feeling awkward standing there. Why were the halls so narrow? Were they always this narrow? Noam had seemed weird after they talked with Chris. He had suggested that they split up before they went to the appointment. It had seemed like a weird request to her… Maybe it was his tone.
Now, Noam seemed chipper, perhaps even jovial, and she felt confused but relieved that his mood seemed to have shifted. Noam gave the door a short, musical knock and they were both surprised (though why?) when they were immediately welcomed by a voice behind the door.
Expecting an old white dude with sunglasses, they were surprised to find a tiny, pregnant Chinese woman around 30 in a red dress that was far too fancy for the shitty and shabby surroundings. She looked ridiculous.
The woman stepped out from behind the desk and shook both Noam and Stella’s hands. “I’m Angelica and I assist the Rewriter in his work.” It seemed like she was welcoming them but her cold demeanor felt otherwise. Stella wondered what the deal was with this chick. Why was she all fancy and pretentious and hanging out in this shitty office?
Noam didn’t seem to think anything was odd and responded in what Stella found was a far too friendly tone. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Angelica.” Gross.
“Are you both looking for a new story? And is it together or separate?” Angelica was all business and peered down at a computer that seemed to magically appear in her hand. Stella wasn’t sure what to say. They actually hadn’t talked about what they were going to say when they got here. What was their story? Why were they there? Noam had disappeared and left her alone after they talked with Chris. She had wandered and found a Japanese Garden just outside East Hastings and she had sat and thought about her life back home. She was not thinking about what they might say, or why they were doing this now. So when Angelica asked, and Noam didn’t immediately answer, Stella started to get anxious. Thankfully Noam filled in the silence before she could overthink it too much.
“We’d like to get a new story together. We never want to be apart.” Noam grabbed Stella’s hand to show his affection and loyalty. It felt a bit sweaty. Or was that hers?
“Yes. Together.” She gripped his hand a bit tighter and swung it forwards, like they were skipping together, plastering an odd smile across her face. When their hands swung back towards their torsos, she immediately let his go, wiping her hand on her pant leg. Angelica didn’t seem to notice and Stella figured she wouldn’t, for she didn’t really care.
“Good.” Angelica nodded, still not looking up from her computer. She turned and walked towards the back wall of the office, behind the Rewriter’s desk, paused and then asked them to turn around and face the opposite wall for 13 seconds. Spinning and staring at the wall, Stella listened as Angelica shifted some things around on the desk and the sound of a door sliding open filled the tiny office. Unsurprisingly, when they turned around a half-second later they found themselves alone.
“I’m confused as to who this guy actually is. How can he have a fancy secretary and a magic wall and all this notoriety and just be some surfer dude telling bullshit stories to desperate drugged people?”
“I never said he was bullshit.” What did he mean by that? Of course he was bullshit.
“We need to get our story straight. We will tell them that we’re here because our families won’t let us be together. Romeo and Juliet-style. It’s an old story but a good one.”
“Fine.” As the words left her unconvinced mouth, she realized there was another person in the tiny room. The Dude was now standing behind his desk, and once they noticed him, he wordlessly took a seat. He didn’t seem to recognize them.
“Oh, hey.” Noam casually greeted the Rewriter like he was a familiar buddy, trying hard not to revel his obvious awe at his appearing act.
“Very cool,” Stella encouraged, wanting to control the situation and leaning forward across the tiny office to shake hands with the Rewriter. “I’m Annie and this is Alvy.” The Rewriter seemed to have no interest in shaking Stella’s hand and after a few awkward seconds she removed it from their shared space.
Noam didn’t seem to notice the Rewriter’s coldness, nor feel it was odd how Stella did, for his next words were, “Can you help us?”
“Of course,” was all the Rewriter offered. “Now, tell me your story.”
They were still both standing in the tiny room so they each took the liberty of choosing one of the two chairs that were now in front of them and facing the Rewriter. Oblivious to his lack of social etiquette, the Rewriter seemed to be having a shift-fest over in his chair, moving and squirming in his seat, like he was snuggling in for the most intricate and comfortable sitting experience of his life. When he found whatever it was he was looking for he let out a long and extended, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” He was definitely annoying but amusing, at the least.
Already comfortable and ready to go in his uncomfortable folding chair, Noam launches into their love story, one Stella can only assume he is making up on the fly. “St-Annie and I are in love and want to spend our lives together but we don’t ‘fit in’ to each others lives.” Noam seemed to settle into the story he was weaving. “Well, to be more accurate we’re afraid our family and friends will not accept us. Instead of needing to choose between them, and being together, we want a different story instead. Can you make that happen for for us?” Noam’s voice sounded oddly emotional for a made up story. He’s an excellent actor, she noted.
“Of course,” was all the Rewriter offered again, not looking up from the paper he seemed to be taking notes on in black marker, perhaps writing their story down? Expecting Noam to keeping talking and asking questions, Stella remained quiet and was shocked when Noam excitedly responded with, “Great! Let’s get started.” Get started on what? Was she the only one who didn’t know what was going on? Noam must know something she didn’t.
“Good choice. I’ve accepted your payment.” Noting that the Rewriter didn’t ask for her verbal confirmation of their story, their needs, or their request for his help, he then asked for them to close their eyes and listen to his voice, but is first he was sure to ceremoniously and symbolically show them the red marker that was now poised in his hand. Stella figured there wasn’t much harm in closing her eyes. She was still pretty jet-lagged (or what she figured was jet-lag) and she hadn’t slept that well the night before, so closing her eyes and relaxing a bit sounded pretty delicious.
“I am about to rewrite your story together. I’m going to shape a new scenario, a new life for the two of you to live in. When I finish, you will be different from how you were before.” Blah. Blah. Blah. This guy was full of it. Stella eyelids felt surprisingly heavy as she listened to the soft surfer drawl of the Rewriter. Should she be more on guard right now? Her eyes briefly flicked open as a temporary wave of panic passed through her but she couldn’t resist closing them once again. Reaching a place where all she could hear was his voice echoing through her body, she drifted away.