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These Are True Stories

(Actual Text Message The Rider Sent Me)

   It's 1 a.m., and while I pulled into my rider's drop off location, my next rider called me. I told him I would call him back in a few minutes after my current rider was dropped off. He was quiet for a moment and then said, "Okay."

   When I called Paul, not his real name, back, he was silent and then said, "Oh yeah uh..."

   I waited for him to give me pickup instructions or ask me a question, which is what riders do that call me. Many ask if I'm on my way yet. Others tell me the app wouldn't take their actual house number and give the correct one, but Paul was hesitating. "Did you want to tell me something?" I asked.

   "You're a writer. I want to talk to you about what you're writing for film," he said. 

   "Okay. We'll talk when I pick you up because when I'm on the phone it blocks my map." This blinds me from seeing where to go when I don't know the location.

   "All right, I'll see you soon," he said, and the phone disconnected.

   No riders had ever called about my writing before. The ones that ask about it, wait until they get in my car. This information is on my driver profile.

   I come around the corner onto a stonewall-lined road to find a tall man, about my age, leaning on it. He's got on a long wool coat and dress shoes and is well-groomed. 

   "Hi!" he exclaimed.

   I verify his name, and he climbs in. I pull away from the stonewall.

   "You're Reilly? Irish?"

   "Yes, half," I said.

   "You're a writer! What are you writing for film?"

 "It's a short piece I'm writing into a book." I admit I was referred to Director/Producer, Sean Cunningham by his friend Jack that knows about TURN THE KNOB, the piece I'm writing for film, and I never sent it to him due to taking editing classes and learning more about the craft of writing. I think back about what Director/Producer Peter Pastorelli, Sr. said to me. When I was introduced to Peter he asked me about the wealthy dysfunctional series I'm writing. I never mentioned TURN THE KNOB. Peter commented that he knew Sean.

   "Oh you do?" This made sense since they're both in the film industry.

   "Yeah, he's out in California."

   "Jack asked me what else I'm writing besides the series, so I told him about my short piece."

   "Okay, what's it about?" Peter nodded.

   I explained it and said, "Jack told me Sean grew up here in town." 

   "Yeah, send him the story," Peter said.

   "Turn the Knob isn't written into a book yet though. It's only a short story."

  "Don't write it into a book. They won't spend the time to read it. Just send it to Sean the way it is," Peter said.

   After I joined Bruce Pollock's novel critique group, I started writing Turn the Knob into a book to further develop it. Bruce is one of Guitar Magazine's founders and is also involved in the film industry. I can now write a short from my manuscript and send it to Sean. Sometimes I regret not just sending it as is, like Peter told me to, but I wanted a better chance at Sean falling in love with it. It now has an even better rounded main character. Sean wrote the original Friday the 13th movie. 

   "You're working on something for film?" my rider said. "I love that. How did you come up with the idea? I want to know what it's about!" 

   "Do you work in the film industry?" I said, because he asked so many questions all at once.

   He bounced a few inches off his seat. "No, I just love that you write. It's awesome."

   "Turn The Knob is about a serial killer named Rich Nettle who finds his victims on an online dating site I named Catch. He has a number of memorized lines he uses to charm women, and he's attractive. To fill out his dating profile accurately, he calculates what height the women need to be when he takes a tape measure off his garage wall and measures inside the trunk of his Beemer. As a seasoned mechanical engineer, he invents things, some of which he uses for his strange rituals and to kill his victims without them bleeding. "

   "That's so cool! How did you think this up?" the rider asked me.

   We pull into his destination location. "Thank you," I said. "Someone told me to write something short that would get people's attention, so I figured I'd create a character by taking someone healthy-minded and someone sick-minded and blend them into one character."

   "Wow! I love writing and want to learn more about it. Will you meet me for coffee so we can talk about it?"

   "You're writing?"

   "Yeah. What's your number?" he asked.

   He gives me his name. I've never given my number to a rider. I think about it. If he wants to talk about writing, I'll meet with him. I'm out in public writing most of the time anyway. I can tell him to meet me when I'm all ready out. I know a bunch of authors/writers in the area, and I might run into him at one of our functions. "Two, oh, three..." 

   He types my number into his phone. "I'll message you for coffee! Nice meeting you!"

   "Nice meeting you too, Paul." (Not his real name.)

   "Good night!"

   Fifteen minutes later, I hear my Bob Marley text tone go off. It's almost 2 a.m. I'm finished working for the night and getting ready for bed. Is there an emergency? I think of my adult children. I tap my phone screen and a message pops up from an unrecognizable number. "Hey, it's Paul!" I squint at the text. Why is he texting me at this hour? He'd somewhat staggered inside, what I think was, his home. I would have thought he'd be passed out by now.  

   After he texted his name, so I knew who it was, he texted me what's below. These are screenshot photos of our communications except for the first text which had his name in it. As you can see, I didn't save his number under his name. It's because down the road somehow I might mistake it for another Paul who's a writer.

   At this time, I knew in a couple of weeks I would see a literary agent who's connected to Hollywood, and I wondered if Paul would be a JUST ADD LIQUOR story, so instead of completely ignoring his texts which I would have done otherwise, I decided to investigate and see if it was book material. Note the time stamps down the right side.

When I expand this long message to read it in full, below is what it looks like.

   4:25 p.m. was the last text I received from Paul. Hopefully, I won't run into him. He'd been drinking, but it didn't matter because he was texting 9 hours later and then four and a half hours after that and the context never changed.

   Author and journalist friends have commented that he actually writes good, while some have cracked jokes about the fact that I'll never give my number to a rider again, no matter what they tell me, and some worry about my safety. None of them know I told the rider the story about Rich Nettle before he sent the text about being turned on. Glad he was more normal acting when he was in my presence. I've had riders that weren't and those scary rides will be in the book when it comes out.

   I see and hear things I've never seen or heard before and probably never will again. This rider experience got me thinking about my online dating. I want to write a book called WHAT IS THIS MAN REALLY LIKE THAT I'M TALKING TO THROUGH THE DATING APP? The title may vary, but I've added it to my writing list. It will contain how I talk with men to find out what they're really like, without being on their best behavior.


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