Charlie’s Room: The Editor

Isaac was home alone again. Marianne and Charlie were shoe shopping, and Isaac had stayed home to fix the doorknob on Charlie’s door. It kept sticking. He took it apart to see if anything had worn down, but nothing seemed wrong.

He put it together outside the door and twisted the knob. It turned just fine. He turned it again. It made a strange ringing sound. He twisted it again. It rang again. He set it down and flipped it over. How was it making that sound?

It rang again and he wasn’t even touching it. Isaac stood up. It was the doorbell making the sound. He’d just replaced the batteries, and he’d forgotten how it sounded. Isaac left the doorknob in the hall and answered the door.

There was a man wearing a dark suit and sunglasses on the front steps. He was carrying a briefcase. “Hello,” Isaac said. “Can I help you?”

“Hello,” the man said. “I am George Graham, super editor.” He handed Isaac a business card.

“What does a super editor do?” Isaac asked. “I’ve never heard of them before.”

“We solve literary problems when they go very, very wrong,” George said.

“Why are you here?” Isaac asked. “Is it the doorknob? I thought there was something weird about it.”

“I’m afraid that I am not here to help you with your doorknob problem,” George said. “I have to save the world today.   Perhaps some other time.”

“All right,” Isaac said. “So, how can I help you save the world?”

“It’s a terrible story. May I come in?” George took off his sunglasses and put them in his pocket.

“Of course, of course,” Isaac said. “Do come in and sit down. The living room is right to the left. Would you like me to take your jacket?”

“There’s no time for that,” George said. “But I’d love a drink of water.”

“I’ll go get you one,” Isaac said. “Just sit down and make yourself comfortable.”

Isaac hurried to the kitchen and filled a glass with water and ice. When he returned, George had pulled the lampshade off the lamp and was examining the bulb. “Is everything all right?” Isaac asked.

“Yes, but you can’t be too careful,” George said. He replaced the lampshade and then took the glass and drank the water in a few short swallows. He handed the glass to Isaac, who set it carefully on a coaster.

“So tell me what’s wrong,” Isaac said.

“Ah yes,” George said. “Unfortunately, a terrible writer left so many plot holes that the characters used them to slip out of the story into the real world and cause chaos.”

“That’s terrible!” Isaac said. “What kind of problems have they caused?”

George leaned back and sighed. “They scattered all over the world. They’ve been causing earthquakes and sinking economies. They’ve caused massive power outages and robbed banks. They’ve even hacked hundreds of thousands of Facebook pages and replaced the profile photos with clown pictures. It’s been a long hunt to find them all.”

“How did you track them down?”

“I had to examine the source text carefully and deduce where each character would be most likely to go,” George said. “It was torturous to spend so much time reading that awful writing, but sacrifices are necessary in my profession. Do you have any cookies?”

“I think so,” Isaac said. “I’ll be right back.” When he returned with the cookies on a plate, George was looking closely at the light switch. “Here are the cookies,” Isaac said.

“Oh, right, thank you,” George said. He picked up a cookie, flipped it over, squinted at it, sniffed it, and then took a small bite. He waited a moment and then ate the entire plate of cookies in under a minute.   “Well then, where was I?”

“Why are you here, and how can I help?” Isaac asked.

“Oh, well, one of the super villains has been operating out of your backyard shed. You appear to be an innocent victim. Have you noticed that he’s been draining power from your house?   Your dishwasher has been running slower and your lights have been dimmer and such?” George asked.

“They have? My shed?   What has he been doing?” Isaac asked.   “Should we call the police?”

“Oh, he’s been powering his weather ray in order to reverse global warming and turn the world’s weather into an eternal ice age,” George said. “No worries though. Now that I’ve tracked him down, I’ll go erase him. Then you can go back to your doorknob problem.   Wait here.” George put back on his sunglasses and walked out the back door with his briefcase.

Isaac watched from the kitchen window. George opened his briefcase and took out a giant pencil. He pointed the pencil lead at the shed and made a horizontal slash in the air. The shed door popped open.

Isaac couldn’t see it very well from where he was standing, but it seemed like the shed was filled with a vast amount of space and light that hadn’t been there before. Wind blasted the area outside the doors and snow began to pile up.

George stood in the middle of the snow and wind, unmoving. Then, he turned the pencil around. He made a scrubbing motion in the air with the eraser.   The wind and snow stopped. Isaac could barely see the lawnmower and potting bench inside the darkened shed. It was back to normal.

George waved at Isaac and picked up his briefcase. He wrote something in the air with his pencil and then he was gone.   The snow began to melt. Within a few minutes, it was gone too.

Isaac went back to the living room. He got the glass and plate and put them in the sink. He went back to Charlie’s room and put the doorknob back in place and tried it. It worked great.

“Perhaps the super villain ray affected the doorknob too,” he said.   “Well, I guess it’s fixed now.”   He nodded to himself and then went to go find a good book to read. One without plot holes of course, just in case.