I'm watching cable television and the new Amazon Book Show on channel 832.3, showcasing new books every five minutes. Simple format: a 30-second snippet from the author, another thirty seconds with the host reading the back-of-book blurb followed by a one-minute excerpt from the book read by either a gravelly-voiced man or a sickly-sweet sounding woman. Finally, there is a two minute Midwest Book Review or Kirkus talking head, and then it's back to the host for a few seconds before the "word from our sponsor." There is a running ticker across the bottom the screen showing the last five books reviewed, and below it, the top five books for the past 24 hour and their sales. Below it, the Amazon Book Show Facebook page displays for everyone to go to and see all the reviewed books.
"Secrets" comes on as the featured book, but the author is some guy by the name of Sy Sakes.
"Damn, the other writers were right. The title is too common." I pound the arm of the couch. Startled, Sydney, my 20-y-o cockatiel, nips at me.
Sy says, "I wrote this during NANOWRIMO last year as my first novel." He looks at the camera with derision. "It was so easy, I didn't bother to edit it." He sighs as if he is bored. "It is the greatest book ever written." He yawns.
I scoff at his claim then laugh at his arrogance. Sydney cackles along with me. The host reads the back-of-book-blurb.
"Damn, that blurb is almost identical to mine. Don, Edith, and Peter were right. Mine was too generic. Just like this guy's blurb. Can I stomach to do it again?"
The book cover comes up onto the screen. I gasp. The gravelly-voiced man speaks:
Terrified, I counted to six, and then begged Heather, "Just Breathe." I pinched her nose and covered her mouth with mine. Each time I did this, her cold lips almost made me retch from the reality of why I was doing this. I blew again. No response. My breath was returned without the hope with which I had sent it. Again.
“Please. I’ll be lost without you.” I counted while stroking her hair. Outside, the siren of an approaching ambulance pierced the pre-dawn quiet. The 9-1-1 operator kept calling my name over the phone I’d dropped onto the floor.
I blew again. “God, help me.” I rechecked her pulse. Nothing. I shook her and small items on the shelf tipped over from the force of my shaking. “Breathe, Heather, breathe.”
Desperate, I tried chest compressions on the sloshing waterbed, trying to recall first aid from Army basic training thirty years ago. “Stay calm. Think. Move her to the floor.”
Someone knocked on the front door I had left ajar. It squeaked open. “EMS,” a male voice said.
“In here, quick!” I yelled.
Two paramedics rushed from the foyer into the bedroom.
"Please. Help her."
“Come, sir.” The short paramedic pulled me away. I didn’t want to leave her, but they were the experts. He sat me at the bay window seat facing the foot of the bed. I was shaking.
A large, heavy-set man in a rumpled brown suit entered the room and stood barely inside the door frame. His walrus face was droopy and whiskered. Was he here to help?
The short paramedic waved his hand in front of my face to get my attention. “Sir, what’s your full name?”
“Bruce Wayne Neumanski.”
The heavy-set man by the door looked at me.
“Heather Rachel Neumanski, my wife. Please, save her."
My eyes shifted focus to the tall paramedic bent over Heather, shining a penlight in her eyes.
"Well?" the man in the brown suit asked. His eyes were sloe-eyed, sleepy dull.
The short paramedic spun around and stepped towards him. “Detective Meeker. Where’d you come from?”
Meeker waved him off. “I was in the area and heard the emergency call.”
The tall paramedic leaned over to Meeker and spoke in a hushed manner. "No pulse. No respiration. Gray pallor, and cold. No blood or obvious wounds, but some petechial hemorrhaging in the eyes. I can’t declare her, but…."
Despite his whisper, I heard his words to Meeker.
“Oh God, it can’t be.” I folded my arms across my chest and rocked in place. “She was so full of life. She was my life.”
The paramedics looked at me. Meeker pushed through them and stared at Heather. His eyes widened. "Holy shit." He backed away, grabbing the tall paramedic by the shirt. "Bring her back!”
"But she's dead.""Do it."
Gravelly Voice applauds this reading then salutes the author. I fall out of my chair in shock. Sydney attacks the television. "That's my book!" I scream
The reviewer comes on. "What can I say? This IS the greatest book ever written."
The host reappears. "Wow. It must be good. That is the shortest review we've ever had. And now a word from our sponsor."
I watch in horror. Some guy names Sy Sakes has stolen my novel and put it up on the Amazon Book Show claiming he wrote it. I'm freaking! The sales counter is going nuts. I never knew this show existed until now and was so popular. I'd only installed cable a week ago. In three minutes, over 100,000 orders have come in for the book. The counter is flipping over faster than the date clock on Rod Taylor's time machine in the classic movie "The Time Machine".
I dash to the computer in the office and go to the Facebook page. I can't get on. Too many people accessing it. I hear from the other room the host come back on the television.
"Due to the excitement over this book, we are rerunning the last segment again."
Obscenities fly out of my mouth like prayers from the Pope on Easter Sunday. Sydney squawks and runs for cover. I get on the site. The online tote board shows over 400,000 orders at $5.99 for the e-book and $21.99 for the paperback. "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God." I've heard about these book thieves before, but never thought it would happen to me. Somehow, somewhere, he got my book. One of my first readers, I'm thinking, must have been hacked. It can't be me. I'm too cautious.
Finally, I find the number for the Amazon Book Show (ABS). I call. "Do to the high volume of traffic for orders for "Secrets," there is a four hour delay to reach an operator." I don't hang up. I wait while I think what else I can do.
After an hour of online searching and digging and hacking, while still on hold for the ABS, I find Sy Sakes. There's a picture. It's him. The bastard only lives an hour away. Keeping the call to ABS alive on my cell phone, I hop into my car and drive to Lizard Lick, North Carolina. I find his house and rush up to the door.
"Sy answer the door," I shout.
I shoot that dirty egg-sucking dog down dead.
"Welcome to Amazon Book Services, how can I service you," is the last thing I remember from Friday night.
I'm out on bail now. It's eleven at night on Sunday. Over 24,001,046 books sold in 48 hours before they halted sales. Amazon efficiency has exported the money to an off-shore account already...$84 million. Sy's wife claimed no knowledge on Saturday at my hearing, but today, Sunday, she fled on a late afternoon flight to Belize according to the cops. Her attorney vows to continue the fight for the rights to the book. My lawyer says, despite all my drafts, reviews, critiques, and copies, it will be hard for me to prove the book is mine with Sy dead. "Hard to cross-examine a dead man."
Amazon bans me from their site forever. Barnes and Noble follows suit.
Lawyer says, "Should have changed the title when you were told to do so."
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