William Hammett, Independent Ghostwriter

Writing Sample ~ Fiction ~ Commercial 2

Note: The following excerpt has been used with the permission of a former client and/or the publisher. Please note that I can adjust my prose style for a particular genre, and the following is not intended to represent my full range of styles or the number of genres I consider. For nonfiction, the level of complexity can be adjusted depending on client preference. .

From the novel The Ghost of Richard Brautigan by William Hammett

©2015, 2022 William Hammett
All Rights Reserved
Published by Word Wrangler Press
Available online from Amazon.

1. The Humming of a Refrigerator

And so I was sitting in the kitchen at 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and it was July and the window was open and the refrigerator was humming. I was drinking a bottle of beer, and the humming was the background radiation of the universe, the universal Om, or so it seemed. It so happened that I was humming and buzzing as well, perhaps from the beer, perhaps from cosmic radiation, or perhaps because the ghost of Richard Brautigan sat in the chair on the other side of the Formica table and said "hi." In the sixties and seventies, Brautigan had been a novelist, a counterculture icon before he entered permanent retirement by offing himself. He was humming a song, and somehow I knew that the song was about trout and watermelon sugar and the Springhill mining disaster and sombreros falling out of the sky and other things he'd written about. I'd read Brautigan for many years and had come to this conclusion: He was weird and wrote offbeat prose, but he knew something the rest of us didn't, something about the strange little cracks in reality which, if examined, can be found to be repositories of that most precious commodity, namely truth. Odd to find truth inside the San Andreas fault of the modern mind, but Brautigan managed to do just that.

I smiled at him, and he smiled back.

"I think it was the humming of your refrigerator," he answered. "I can't be sure. I just know that I'm here."

We sat in silence for a few minutes until Latino music flared into existence from across the alley like a solar prominence and then died out.

"I've been writing stories," I told him.

"That's good," he said. "Your next one should be about a refrigerator humming and a woman sitting here at this table. She's wearing cutoff jeans and drinking a beer." He smiled, and his moustache spread out like the wings of a condor awakening from a long slumber.

"Is that enough for a story?" I asked him.

"Of course it is. I can't think of anything more interesting than a woman sitting in the kitchen late at night drinking a beer."

"But the story doesn't go anywhere," I said.

"It has already arrived," he replied. "Do you want a woman in cutoff jeans to leave your kitchen, a woman who is starting to buzz a bit from the beer?"

He had a point.

Brautigan got up to leave, but he turned and gave me this afterthought: "Write a story about high-tech sushi."

Then he disappeared, and I was left alone with the humming of the refrigerator. The Latinos across the alley were probably asleep.

2. The Story of a Woman in Cutoff Jeans

As Brautigan had suggested, Jaguar was sitting at my kitchen table. It was 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night – the night before Brautigan showed up – and she was wearing cutoff jeans and drinking a beer. The window was open, and Latino music from across the alley mixed with spicy molecules of night air. The refrigerator, of course, was humming.

Jaguar lifted the beer bottle to her lips and then raised it high in the air. She tilted her head back to get the last ounce of Budweiser, and as she did, her long black hair, hanging over the back of a kitchen chair, touched the linoleum floor. If there's a more beautiful sight than hair going down while a beer bottle goes up, I don't know what it is. Her bare legs, which seemed to stretch for half a mile or so, were propped up on another kitchen chair. That was, and is, also a beautiful sight to behold. Jaguar, mostly because of her legs, was a long woman – a long cool woman without a black dress or any kind of dress at all as she sat in her cutoff jeans and listened to the hum of the refrigerator.

We were sitting side by side, facing the open window.

"That music," she said, " – it's like a hot chili pepper. Or maybe a red neon sign in the darkness. I like it."

"I do, too," I said, taking a sip of beer.

We listened to the music for a while, not speaking to each other – just the both of us sitting and drinking beer.

"Do you still love me?" I asked her when silence drifted back through the window.

She closed her eyes and tilted her head back, the way she'd done when emptying her beer bottle. "Probably," she said. She looked positively contemplative. The beer bottle rested between her thighs, and her eyes remained closed.

I was hoping for something more definitive, but that's all I got: "probably." I guess she was mad at me for being jealous of Myron St. Greer.

"What do you intend to do?" I asked.

"Paint the hum of the refrigerator."

This was not nearly as esoteric as it sounded. Jaguar was an artist, and I knew what she meant. She wanted to capture on canvas the purity and the eternity contained in the hum of the refrigerator. It was an unwavering sound, although totally unobtrusive, much like cosmic background radiation or a one-note melody.

"When will you begin?" I queried.

"Tomorrow morning."

A warm utterance of air, almost imperceptible, stirred the curtains bunched on either side of the window. Jaguar and I didn't say anything else to each other for the rest of the night.

The refrigerator was saying everything that needed to be said.

3. The Truth as Told by a Remington Electric

I wrote "The Story of a Woman in Cutoff Jeans" on Thursday on a Remington electric typewriter that I purchased in 1981, the year Ronald Reagan was dreaming of a massive federal budget deficit. I could have written the story on a computer, but the Remington hums whenever I turn it on, and its unwavering hum was just as responsible for the words getting onto paper as I was. The story, in a sense, wrote itself. That's because the story is a true story.

True? True?

Yes, Jaguar is a real person. And everything that transpired in "The Story of a Woman in Cutoff Jeans" actually happened on Tuesday, the day before Brautigan showed up in my kitchen. That's probably why he suggested I write it in the first place. "Write from experience" is what writing teachers always say. Personally, I don't place much stock in writing teachers – not many of them, at any rate – but I have to concede that writing from experience is right up there with humming when it comes to getting words down on a piece of paper. Or then again, the ghost of Richard Brautigan might have seen the poster on the kitchen wall, the poster depicting a young woman drinking a beer while wearing cutoff jeans. Writers get ideas from all kinds of places. Sometimes ideas even come from ghosts. And I guarantee that this last sentence is nothing a writing teacher would ever tell a class. I can say this with complete truth because I used to be a writing instructor. Anyway, the ghost was right. The story about the woman in cutoff jeans you've just read doesn't have to go anywhere since it has already arrived. But it occurs to me that I could also write quite a few more stories about how Jaguar and I ended up in the kitchen that night. Such stories would be about how Henry David Thoreau had a profound impact on several tons of dynamite. They would deal with how I couldn't write like Ernest Hemingway and handled snakes and became interested in refrigerators. More than anything, they would be about how anyone – even a humble soul who manicures fairways at a golf course – can live in a world that suffers from a most pernicious psychiatric disorder.

Jaguar, by the way, is not here in my apartment right now. She has gone off to paint the hum of the refrigerator, and she has not returned. She left when she woke up yesterday, Wednesday morning.

Anyway, I have time on my hands, so another page will go into the roller of the Remington electric, which shall produce an entire ream of truth by the time I have finished. It is a beautiful thing to see a stack of white, eight-and-a-half by eleven truth. Not as beautiful as dark hair touching the floor because a woman is throwing back a Budweiser, but beautiful nonetheless.

Now, to begin.

 William Hammett

Dream big.

Write a book.



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