By any reasonable standard, I ought to have exhausted my characters' patience by now. All of them, from the bewildered Protagonist who carries his Great Destiny on his back like a forgotten knapsack to the black giant with the greying dreadlocks who flips burgers at the cafe where the threads of conspiracy tangle together, should have walked off the set in disgust months ago, or fired up the torches and formed a mob to shout up at my window, Bring the goddamn monster to life, already!

That they do not, that each remains quiescent where I left them, is maddening sometimes.

The Protagonist, thank God, is asleep. The man who tried to kill him remains a fugitive from both the police and his own people -- no worries there, he can dangle forever for all anyone cares. The weary and possibly alcoholic priest is home with his wife, or maybe he's eyeing that dusty bottle of wine on the shelf, so either he's fine or he's not.

The only ones I'm concerned about are the ones I see every time I look down on my creation from my godlike perch. The Mysterious Girl is still crouched motionless beneath the old railroad bridge at the edge of the creek. She has a name now, though it changes on her occasionally, and each new name changes her appearance and personality just a little. Twenty feet above her strides the Villain of the piece. He is pacing beneath the moonlight on the ancient bridge, his footsteps creaking on the wood, unguessable thoughts running through his head as he waits in darkness to plot evil deeds with his henchmen.

His footsteps grow louder and softer as his weight fluctuates. He was smaller at first, a short man with a shiny bald head and big, round dark glasses that he never took off. Since then he's shot up and down in height, gotten fatter and thinner, grown hair, lost it, and grown it again. Now he is a hip, sinister Santa Claus in mirrored aviators and a disconcerting aloha shirt.

He's been pacing like this, and she's been spying on him, for what seems like an eternity. (And phrases like that are part of what keeps them there -- I write a sentence and think "'Seems like an eternity'? Can't I come up with just one original phrase in this damn book?" And an hour passes as I struggle to say something fresh and new, and which I will probably erase the following day as it is revealed to be hopelessly precious.)

I suspect that these two will never revolt. They will stay there as long as I let them, watching and pacing, waiting and listening. Eventually they will grow dimmer and dimmer, the foosteps becoming ever more distant as the darkness swallows them up.

Only one of them, I think, has caught on to me: it's the suicidal Russian (or is he Polish, or Sicilian?) who waits in the wings with a mad little girl riding on his shoulders, waiting to step out onto the bridge and join his master. He looks skyward, his mournful gaze meeting mine, and I read his unspoken thought: What sort of impotent sorcerer are you?

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