I feel like this is my chance to catch up with myself. I feel like I’m really trying. I’m listening for signs and symbols. God, I’m looking forward to lighting up my life with drafts. The thought of creating something bigger than myself is thrilling. You have no idea how much I love living a life worth living: drinking black coffee, eating salads, making my every move poetic.

That’s why I’m doing everything in my power not to vape. I’ve got a reminder set for nine pm tonight. “Smoke my Snack,” it says, because apparently schmig’s not in the database. I don’t know why. I use it way more often than I’d like. I don’t want to think about it. That’s what assistants are for. The payoff is not equal to the suffering wrought through the hours not smoking it. The cravings are more intense than I would like to admit. It doesn’t help that I’m lacking sleep and feeling depressed.

The poet laureate came back into the store, and we did not introduce ourselves to each other. Our only connection has been over the internet. He knows bibles more than he knows Cameron, but he doesn’t actually know either of us, because who he’s been interacting with has been bibles masquerading as Cameron, a sort of weakened voice, forced ‘professional’.

Once he left, I responded to a response from him that was delivered to my inbox this morning at 7:30am. I’d written him last night, a half hour to the event’s start time, reminding him that the event was at the shop, not the diner. He was joking around, pretending that he went to the diner last night and did his reading there. My boss warned me that he’s a jokester. I bet he didn’t warn him that I’m a clown.

I shook off my ‘professionalism.’ It was time to let him see the professional.

I said to him:

Funny thing is that there was a guy in here claiming to be you. He read your poems and everything. He had a lot of energy and nailed the various inflections.

I mean, it was amazing. He did say that he hadn’t read some of the poems out loud before, but the way he pulled it off, I thought for sure that he’d at least written them.

Anyways, I’ve only really talked with you online, and I’d never actually met you in person, so I’m hoping that you can forgive my letting the guy do your thing.

The crowd was loving it, and he even had Ben fooled.

I’d have to say you’d better watch out for this guy. He pulled off a really great performance that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m going to have to think long and hard the next time you’re slated for a reading here. I might send you to another false flag and see if we can bait this wonderful impostor back into our midst.

All the best,

– Cameron

That’s how this chapter ends, not with too big of a bang, but with more than a whimper. I might not have the capability to follow the conventional routes that some, such as this laureate, follow, but I’ve got personality. People have come to know me, and they know when I’m not being authentic. I know when I’m not being authentic. I get worse results that way. Far as I can tell, it’s better to be real than fake.


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