Henry & Biggs:
Adventure Blog of a Literary Agent and His Beagle
Chapter 6: A Fictional Memoir?
Date: February 9
Time: 10:05 p.m.
“You’ll have to forgive Henry,” says Biggs as he scoops me off the floor and heads down the hall for his office. “He’s been acting kind of strange today. He’s usually not like this.”
I am irked that my efforts to warn this tall, inexplicably odorless, black-hooded woman away from Biggs are now characterized, by Biggs himself, as some kind of spontaneous canine dementia. What good is my vigilance if, upon detecting a threat, I am simply to be tutted and shoed away, let along scolded in front of the threat? Were I not so loyal, I would say that Biggs deserves what he gets.
But I am loyal, and as I am carried to Biggs’ office, two legs dangling on either side of Biggs’ arm, I am listening to the unnatural way the woman moves as she follows behind us. She seems to glide more than walk. The ruffling of her long, black coat is audible. Her footsteps are not.
“You have any pets?” Biggs asks, obviously trying to diffuse the awkwardness that began building almost instantly at the door.
“No,” she says quietly, not elaborating.
When we reach the office, the woman slips out of her coat and slings it over the back of the couch. I am surprised to see that she is wearing fairly ordinary clothing—black slacks and a scarlet red blouse – and not some torn, bloody ensemble more befitting a murderess or lunatic. I am not sure what I was expecting, but this is not it.
Biggs sits behind his desk, but keeps me on the leash just in case I decide to make a sudden leap for her throat. I lie on the floor and wedge my chin between my paws, knowing that this display of contentment is my only chance to get Biggs to drop his guard. The leash is slack, but still wrapped tightly around his hand.
“I don’t think I ever got your name,” says Biggs.
“I never offered it,” she says in that slow, heavy voice. After an uncomfortable pause, she says, “You may call me Lucia. Lucia Samuel.”
That this is the same woman I witnessed on CSPAN whispering into the ear of the bald congressman is beyond question. I am not fooled in the least by the spiky blonde hair. It’s her alright. And it is equally clear to me that she has is harboring machinations that go far beyond securing the services of a literary agent. What those machinations might be, I haven’t a clue. All I can do is stare up at her from my pose of mock docility. She sits down on the couch and stares back at me with steel grey eyes that lock onto mine. I can tell that she is no more fooled by me than I am by her. The only rube in this room is Biggs.
“I have to say, Lucia, I was wondering when, or if, I would see you again.”
She smiles wanly, but says nothing. Biggs fidgets with the leash, wrapping and unwrapping his hand.
“Would you like some water? Coffee? We’ve got…”
Lucia, if that is really her name, brushes the air with the back of her long, pallid hand.
“Okay, well, so you’re in the market for an agent.”
“What kind of novel have you written?”
“I have not written a novel.”
“Oh. I thought… well what is it?”
“I think it is best to call it a memoir.”
Biggs gives his best I’m-about-to disappoint-you grimace and slowly begins to rotate his head. It’s his top-drawer I’m-not-the-agent-for-you expression and I am glad to see it so early. He has obviously been on to her from the beginning and he has decided that he is going to give her the illusion of fair consideration before he processes her right out the door. I have to say, it is a far subtler plan than dangling from her throat by the teeth. I have underestimated him. Nothing gets past my Biggs.
“I don’t really handle memoirs any more,” he says apologetically and so convincingly that I almost believe he means it. He turns and opens a side drawer of the desk and begins rummaging around. “I’m strictly a fiction agent. But I have a few really good references for you. You could call…”
“This is fiction, Mr. Bigelow,” she says. Biggs stops.
“A fictional memoir?”
“Oh. Who’s the…the…”
“You mean, as in… Congressman Thomas Clifford?”
“But… he’s a real person.”
“I know he’s a real person.”
“You’ve written a fictional memoir about a real person? About a California Congressman?”
“No. I haven’t. I haven’t written anything.”
“Oh, I see. So this is something you’re going to write. Normally the agent gets involved after…”
“No, Mr. Bigelow, this is not a memoir I am going to write.”
She crosses one long leg over the other and leans back slowly into the couch, saying nothing, regarding Biggs like a curious bug under a glass. She folds her hands in her lap and waits.
“I’m confused here, Ms. Samuel. If you are not going to write this … memoir, then who is and why am I talking to you instead of…”
“You are going to write the memoir, Mr. Bigelow.”
There is a shock of silence that shoots through the office like lightening. Biggs laughs, crossing his own legs. His foot snags on the leash, pulling it taut and instinctively I sit up.
“Me? You think I’m going to write a fictional memoir of Congressman Clifford?”
“I really don’t think I am, but I guess I should be flattered that…”
“Yes. You will.”
“Because it is a book that must be written.”
“If you say so. But why would I want to write it?”
Lucia considers her long, pale fingers, unlacing them like some exotic flower opening to reveal something magical or deadly.
“You would want to write it, Mr. Bigelow, because whether you like to acknowledge it or not, you are a writer of books. A writer of fiction. And the fictional memoir of Congressman Thomas Clifford might just be the most important book ever written in the history of the world.”