The blank page mocked him. Not for the first time Josh found himself glancing at the alarm clock that read 3:00 in luminescent digits. He’d thrown out all the regular clocks, ticking, tocking, buzzing nightmares. Time was usually on his side, but tonight it goaded him as much as the words that refused to form on the page. Josh tapped out a couple of sentences onto his laptop, trying to exercise his creative muscles. He came as far as ‘the cat prowled through the night like greased lightning. Its tail swished like the whip of some errant god.’ Josh furiously deleted all traces of contriteness.
Josh had warred, conquered and humiliated writer’s block many times during his career. He’d go so far as saying he’d made it his proverbial bitch. Tonight he was losing the battle, made worse by the same thing happening for the last three days. Josh turned his back on the laptop and headed into the kitchen. He made another cup of tea, hoping for a caffeine revival. He swigged the drink in long gulps, ambivalent to the heat that scorched his throat. He grabbed a bottle of Dr Pepper from the fridge and chugged like a university student egged on by his peers. The best work always came when he was high on sugar.
The clock read 3:06 when he returned. Josh changed his clothes, grabbed his laptop and left the house. The quiet streets were his hunting ground, the place to capture the elusive beast he called his muse. Josh walked for several minutes until he found a man and a woman huddling against the cold. By their shabby clothes he guessed they were sleeping rough. Josh sat down on a bench and watched them. The man had his arm around the woman’s back, as if his body heat was the most precious gift he could offer her. A clicking sound filled the air as Josh started to type. He sat there until the sky changed from black to pale grey.
Later that day, Josh came back with a few pound coins and blankets. He tossed the coins onto a filthy mat and set the blankets down. The man looked at him.
Josh shook his head. “I should be thanking you. This was a story waiting to be told.”