A Real Writer

An Essay

by Bill Barich

All tales of youth involve a large measure of folly, so I continue to be amazed that my brief career as a literary agent yielded any positive results. Whenever I remember those long-ago days, I see before me the dark, drafty, incredibly messy railroad flat near Golden Gate Park I once shared with Hank Daniels, my old roomie, who cooked up the plan to take the publishing world by storm. This was in the early ’70s, during the last gasp of hippie glory, when Nixon was unraveling and San Francisco still welcomed grand gestures destined for defeat.

Hank came west from rural Oklahoma, so he had no defenses against the city’s magic. It sucked him in and filled him with ambition. In a few short months on the coast, he’d gone from being a humble bus driver’s son to a first-rate seducer adept at picking up women. Handsome and charming, he’d even landed a good job as a salesman for a New York publisher. His salary might be modest, but it didn’t cramp his style. He wore expensive snakeskin cowboy boots, drove an electric-blue Porsche, and slept on a king-sized waterbed, where he often dreamed that he could fly like Superman. Success and power, those were Hank’s totems.

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