A Valued Opinion - By Brian Law

“You write much these days, Rog?” Willis asked me as we
both sat on my front porch on that late summer evening.

I laughed, but not enough so that Willis could notice. See,
Willis had Alzheimer’s and his memory was, well, spotty. But
he still could get annoyed when someone called him on it. I
tried hard not to be that someone.

I reached down and picked up the manuscript that was laying
face down on the floor by the cat. It was the best stuff I’d
ever written and I’d given it to Willis a week ago to read.
He’d returned it last night and we’d discussed it. He loved it
and said I should publish it right away. See, Willis had been
in the plumbing business for years but he had read a lot and
he said he knew good stuff when he read it.

“I just finished a little something, Willis, “ I said, holding my
manuscript. “Want to take a look at it and let me know what
you think?”

He reached out, took it, read the title and leaned back in his
chair and started to read. I watched him closely for any
indications that he might have remembered reading it.


After a few minutes, Willis yawned, closed the manuscript,
and asked, “Mind if I borrow this for a few days, Rog? So far,
it looks good. Real good.”

“No, go ahead, Willis. I got other copies. And I appreciate
you taking your time to give me your opinion. I really do,” I
said as he nodded, got up and waved as he headed down the
stairs to his house next door.

“Take your time, Willis,” I yelled to him as he disappeared. I
laughed harder this time since he couldn’t hear me and
shook my head, too. This would be the fifth time he’d taken
that same manuscript to read it . . . this year. Last year he
took it seventeen times and brought it back each time saying
he really liked it and that I should publish it.

When Willis was younger and his mind was strong, he’d read
mostly detective magazines and sometimes car repair
manuals. So he wouldn’t really didn’t know good writing from
trash. And while I said that my manuscript was the best I’d
ever written, it was the only thing I’d ever written. . . and I
knew it wasn't very good at all.

But every once in a while, my neighbor Willis from next door
will see me sitting in my wheelchair on my porch all alone
and he’ll come up and ask me if I’ve written anything lately.

And I’ll give him my manuscript, tell him it’s the best thing
I’ve ever written and wait a few days for his glowing review.

I lived for that.


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