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Roger had retired just in time, the calculator company he had been working for since the early 1970s on its last leg of hope before dying out like so many others thanks to cell phones. With his retirement package out of reach from the last few business breaths of the sinking ship he was on his way, his accumulated benefit of nearly forty years of service now nicely planned out for the next thirty years of living.
The most enjoyable would be Roger’s last five years in his 60s, travelling to a few places around the world in search of gravesites. The final resting places of his favorite authors. He had a few that were still living, including Rice, King, Follett, but these were fallen heroes, as they had politely declined to reciprocate support in the form of blurbing some of his own work. Work he had created in the breakroom of the calculator factory throughout the years, spinning his imagination and releasing it from pen to paper, only to receive rejection letters months later from the bigwig publishers.
Approaching his modern heroes was something Roger had been hesitant on doing, with the old saying,’ keep your heroes at a distance’ gnawing in the background of his mind.
But then he would think how great it would be to have a few positive words from a few of these A-list storytellers that he admired so. Would probably even open the eyes of those pompous publishers. And so he had taken the gamble, sending out handwritten letters in addition to emails pouring out his soul of how their work had moved him so while ending with the humble request of that funny little word known as blurb.
Striking out with each and every appeal Roger had lost all desire to spend both money and time on these authors who refused to give back, no longer giving his devotion over to dramatic vampires, twisted characters and the medieval times of Kingsbridge. Those who had come before these aging tale tellers would now be the ones to be honored, decades having passed since being lowered six feet under, from where they had no possibility of letting him down.
The first of these adventures would take Roger halfway around the world to Switzerland, planes, trains and a few automobiles as he made his way over the miles with a few coats of deodorant. Exhausted and disheveled by the time he reached his final destination Roger checked into the Montreux Palace Hotel, into a particular suite once inhabited by a particular Russian writer, author of Roger’s all-time favorite book and lover of butterflies.
Legend had it the desk which still remained in the suite was the final writing place of this literary giant, Roger pulling up a chair, running his hand over the smooth surface and then placing atop it a perfectly square piece of colored paper.
He began to fold this way and that, each crease precise, sharp, expertly crimped as he had been practicing for over a year now. Within the span of one minute the once flat piece of paper metamorphosized between Roger’s fingers into a beautiful butterfly.
With the utmost of care Roger palmed the little paper creature, rose from his seat and headed out on foot to a nearby cemetery. After a while of searching he came upon the slab of stone he had travelled so far to behold, knelt down to bended knee, withdrew from an inside coat pocket a paperback copy of Lolita and began to read an excerpt from it.
Roger then lent forward and placed the little butterfly atop Vladimir Nabokov’s grave, the palm which once held it now flattened out above the earth’s surface, with closed eyes extending his energy down below to connect to this master storyteller.
A smile grew across Roger’s face that indeed sprouted from within, not only lasting the whole trip back home but as a constant companion on his road of retirement, next stop being right there in his own backyard. To a special lady by the name of Betty Smith whom so many years ago had planted a seed within Roger from her telling of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
And like a gentle breeze passing through this tree of life onwards Roger flew, his bibliophilic journey becoming a story in and of itself and thus turning this lover of story into an author in his own right.