X-ing A Paragraph
by Edgar Allan Poe
(about 2500 words)
Mr. Touch-and-go Bullet-head has just arrived in Alexander-the-Great-o-nopolis to set up shop as a newspaper editor, which he does across the street from an existing newspaper, The Gazette. The first thing Bullet-head does upon arrival is print a piece talking smack about his rival across the street. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with the established editor, John Smith, who proceeds to write a counter piece about Bullet-head’s style, specifically his perceived fondness of the letter ‘o.’ Mockingly, John suggests that Bullet-head is so enamored with the vowel that he wouldn’t be able to write anything without it. Naturally incensed Bullet-head takes up his pen and spends the entire night writing the most ridiculous, o-filled paragraph imaginable. This he sends to his type setters late at night before heading off to bed. But what a surprise his type-setters get when they discover that their boxes of O’s have completely vanished! Standard practice says that they should replace the missing letters with X’s, and they do, all the while accusing The Gazette‘s editorial staff for swiping their O’s. In the morning, when the paragraph goes live, Mr. Bullet-head is nowhere to be found. Presumably he’s off somewhere dropping the mic, along with a scattering of O’s along the way.
Edgar Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, USA. He was born to a pair of actors, the youngest of three children, and the year after his birth, his father abandoned the family. He was later orphaned when his mother died the next year. He was adopted by John Allan, with whom he would have many disagreements with throughout his life. After receiving a large inheritance from his uncle, Poe lost much of it in gambling and studies at a university that had strict, yet unenforced rules. He had a falling out with his foster father over his gambling debts. Briefly he enlisted in the military as a means to support himself. He dropped out of the military the same way he dropped out of university, and though he regained contact with his foster father, the two continued to fight until eventually Poe was disowned from the family. His writing career started in earnest after the death of his brother, and he is credited with being the first notable American writer to attempt to live solely on his writing. Unfortunately he had a hard time of it, as pirated British works were cheaper for publishers than paying new, American authors. As a result, Poe sort of epitomized the image of the starving artist through much of his writing career. He married his thirteen year-old cousin while bouncing between jobs, and was with her for eleven years before she died of tuberculosis. Poe, already known as being an alcoholic, began to drink even more heavily. During this time, he sold “The Raven” for only $9, and continued his generally career destroying behavior of being cantankerous and argumentative with both writers and editors alike. Poe’s death in Baltimore on October 7, 1849 is still largely disputed by historians. He was found delirious and rambling the night before and was taken immediately to the hospital where he ultimately died. Possible causes ranging from excessive alcoholism to syphilis to voter fraud have been posited, but all his medical records have since been lost and his death remains a mystery.