Bettina stood outside of Powell Books staring in amazement and horror at the crowd that had gathered to see Emily Popman the author of the bestselling novel Adonis of The Cactus Manor Motel.
The line extended half way down the block. The crowd consisted of a good mixture of men and woman, they all appeared to be thirty and older. They had a vaguely hipsterish look about them. Bettina’s stomach tightened. They were the kind of people that always made snide remarks about her writing and gave her vague condescending smiles when she tried to join in the conversation. They stood chatting with each other in the cold morning drizzle, sipping fancy coffee brewed from sustainable, organic beans and recommending restaurants to one another. A few of the braver street derelicts begged for coins and most were politely rejected.
She remembered the first time she’d met Emily, they’d been coworkers at a temporary telemarketing jobs. They had called people and attempted to get them to donate clothing and toys for a charity right around the holidays. They had gone to lunch several times and chit chatted on breaks. They had a few things in common they both liked to write and they loved Katherine Anne Porter’s stories. At the end of the temp assignment they had become Facebook friends. They spoke of getting together for a drink, but they never had. They had spoken chatted a few times on Facebook and they’d like and commented on one another’s post occasionally.
Once Bettina had come home to her small dumpy apartment building in the North East District to find that she had a handsome new neighbor. They’d introduced themselves and she’d help him carry his coffee table into his unit. She noticed several young girls checking him out in the parking lot. She’d gone on Facebook and said she had just met the Adonis of The Blue Bird Studios.
From time to time she’d mentioned things about the job she’d taken right after the temp job she and Emily had together. The job was at a payday loan company on W. Burnside just blocks from Powell’s. She had often posted about the job and sadness she felt when someone came in and was happy and relieved to get the three hundred dollars they offered. They all had a month to pay the loan back at a thirty five percent interest rate. They were usually able to pay the first loan without much problem. Almost every one of them would come back for a second loan a week after they paid off the first.But then the trouble would start. They would get behind in their bills again and end up having to get a second loan to pay the first. Soon all they would do is take out loans to pay them. They had no choice but to pay them as the company would just keep trying to put the charge though their empty bank account causing them to get so many fees the bank account would be closed.
She’d gone one Facebook saying that she was a Snap On tool of the oppressor; peripheral and easily replaced. She realized that she was one step away from being one of the loan people herself and they were one step away from the street.
Emily posted movie clips and the occasional poem. Bettina secretly thought she was a bit corny, but she admired her for posting them.
A year after their temporary assignment ended Emily posted a link to her book on Facebook. Bettina felt annoyed when she saw the title, but she figured it was just a self-published e book. Curiosity had gotten the better of her and she’d bought the book and downloaded it. She read it in one sitting, not because it was so good, but because it appeared to be the story of her life.
The book told the story of a failed songwriter who came to Portland after barely being able to survive in New York. She had written about the failed relationship she’d had in New York with a man who was a paralegal and secret coke addict. She wrote about the job at the payday loan company. She’d made it look like she was obsessed with the handsome young man in her building.
“I mentioned him once,” Bettina said aloud as she read.
What infuriated her more than anything was the fact that she’d only told Emily general things. She did tell her she made an attempt at song writing and lived in New York right before Portland, but she’d hardly said a word about her ex-boyfriend. She realized that Emily must have gone back in her Facebook history to find the posts and pictures of him as she had described him to a tee.
A few months after Emily E published the book, it had been picked up by a real publisher. Just before the hardcover came out the talk show appearances had started and then the tour. The movie deal had been finalized two days before her appearance at Powell’s, hence the long like.
Bettina pushed her way past the news crew that was beginning to set up. She walked to the back of the line, ignored by the people who were about to buy her life story. She stuck her hand in her pocket and smiled to herself at the comforting feeling of a cold aluminum handle.