“You always make it sound like I know what I’m doing,” the rugged man sitting opposite the famous author said, his coffee cup held by both hands in front of him, “when, really, I’ve only ever made it up as I go along.”
“Suave man of action, that’s how I’ve been writing you,” the author protested, holding on to his own coffee mug with a death grip.
“Do I look or sound suave?” The author’s best-selling lead character drank some more of his coffee. “I’m a reasonably educated, literate, multi-lingual thug in my government’s employ. I’d have thought anyone who’d read let alone written about the incident in Berlin would realise that I didn’t have my original nose shape anymore.”
“It was a genre staple when I started writing the books,” protested the author. “Everyone wanted a James Bond movie knockoff. One of the differences between your books and a lot of the others that came out at the same time as the first one is that your books sold and still sell. I honestly have no idea why you took and others, like Riley Jones, didn’t. The Jones first book got a better review than your first book did.”
“Who’s James Bond? The Riley Jones books are great unintentional comedy,” the mouth under the broken nose smiled, “though most people do read them as espionage thrillers. They’re very popular where I come from. I own all, what is the author up to now? Fifteen.”
“Only two got published here,” the author told him, still clutching his coffee cup as if it was the only thing connecting him to sanity. “Why are you here? You’re supposed to be a figment of my imagination.”
“A set of circumstances so improbable that no-one would ever think it was a plausible plot line for a book,” the character told him. “I suggest you never write it. Just refer mysteriously to the Istanbul affair and that should cover it. I should only be here for,” he looked at his watch, “another ten minutes, if we understand the way that device works. Arriving in your book signing may have been a bit of luck but finding out there’s a whole world of people who think I’m a fictional character was a shock.”
“I’m sorry,” was all the author could think of to say.
The character shrugged. “The books feed, clothe and house you and your family. I got a comfort stop, a meal and a good coffee out of my visit, but could you do me one, small favour?”
“What?” The author looked around as if the answer should be obvious and in sight.
“I don’t know if my world follows your books or your books follow my world,” the character sighed, “but next time you feel the urge to kill off one of my friends, don’t.”