"I'll talk to you."
Agatha took a second look at the email. It was quite possibly the shortest one she'd ever received. The absence of a subject line made it stand out from the rest of her inbox. She'd been about to delete it, surprised her spam filter hadn't done away with it first, when the "from" field caught her eye.
She remembered the name from high school American Lit, the class that introduced her to the wonderful world of CliffsNotes and late-night cramming. Her teacher had forced them to read novel after novel of angst-ridden, abstract prose that left even the most scholarly student longing for a cheesy Hollywood script and a box of popcorn. Agatha must have lacked the "insight into deep layers of thought and psychological analysis" that Mrs. Horn required, as C+ grades were frequent. What had interested the future journalism major far more was the backstory behind each novel, the profile of the author, the whys and whens and hows. She had thought it the most fascinating thing in the world that Ernest Hemingway had a thing for cats with extra toes.
And here was an email—in Agatha's own inbox—from someone purporting to be the most elusive and eccentric of all classic American authors. A man so cloaked in mystery that the public was unsure as to whether he was a "he" or a "she." They called "him" a "him" more out of convenience than conviction. He was the Banksy of modern American literature.
She noted the email address once more: firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, it could easily be a hoax, but the brevity struck her again.
"I'll talk to you." Not even a mention of Nigerian princes.
So Agatha did what any curious reporter would do. She googled. In seconds she’d found an IP tracking service and entered the header information from the email. After waiting a tense three seconds for the page to load, she saw the map result at the bottom. Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. Vague memories of Lit class stirred in the back of her brain as she typed her way to Danningford’s Wikipedia entry, and confirmed his current whereabouts as Treasure Lake, PA.
It wasn’t actual proof, of course, but it was enough to convince her that something big was about to go down. The mysterious author who had evaded public scrutiny for decades, holed away in a nondescript small town, picking a fight with anyone who dared approach...R.A. Danningford wanted to talk to her.
And what a talk it would be.