The Nose That Ate Cleveland

by Meeah Williams

black eyeglasses

He introduced himself at the party as a writer. He looked like a writer, too. Short, stoop-shouldered, soft-bellied, he peered up at me from behind a pair of nerdy black-framed glasses. He had to keep shoving over them up over the bump on his nose with a thumb whose nail was bitten to the quick.

“Really, have I heard of you? What do you write?”

He said I hadn’t heard of him yet. But he had high hopes I would one of these days. He wrote books, he said, about people and how hard it is for them to live. Two of his most recent books were called “Look out, I’m a Human Compost Pile” and “The Cockroach Diaries.”

I covered a yawn with the back of my hand. “Sounds interesting.”

“I’ll email you the files.”

“Oh yeah, do that.”

“Better yet…”

He did his best impression of a leer. Just then my phone rang. I rummaged around in my bag, looking for the damn thing but when I finally came up with it I realized it was only my mother no doubt wanting to discuss her carbuncles again.

The party was a bust. I’d come with a guy who’d brought me to make his old girlfriend jealous. It worked because they snuck out of the apartment a half hour before.

“I’m sorry. You were saying?”

“Listen, I’m between muses at the moment. You’re alone. What do you say?”

I shrugged, tipped up the last of whatever I was drinking. “Sure.”

I’ve been a lot of things to a lot of guys, but never a muse. It sounds so romantic but let me tell you, it’s not. The way they portray it in poems and stories, you do a lot of traipsing around from room to room, barefoot, in long flowing white gowns, your hair wreathed in flowers. In real life, it’s nothing of the sort.


In real life, you’re tied to a kitchen chair, gagged, sitting in a puddle of semen with a rubber tube tied around your upper arm. The unshaven maniac sitting across from you at the table is writing in a longhand with a fucking dip pen on a white legal pads, pages and pages of barely coherent nonsense that he’s calling “The Nose That Ate Cleveland.”

A fucking dip pen!

He keeps jabbering about how he went to a seminar with a famous writer. The famous writer stressed how important it was to be inspired. How you had to believe wholeheartedly in your work. How you had write as if your life depended on it. As if you were writing with blood.

He’s taken this advice literally. Except it’s my blood he’s using not his own.

I guess there are worst ways to die than to die in the service of great art. But come on. “The Nose That Ate Cleveland.” Who’s going to read a story like that?

Would you?


Meeah Williams is a writer and graphic artist. She has recent and forthcoming work in Otoliths, Uut, The Ginger Collect, Former Cactus, Anti-Heroin Chic, Barren, Vulture Bones, Unbroken Journal, Burning House and Okay Donkey.  She lives in Seattle and tweets at @pussy_nagasaki




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