Elvis Costello is tired. He yawns, and then looks down at his watch to see if it’s a good time to go to bed. It’s 11:51 pm, which seems like a good time to shut his eyes for the day. And then it dawns on him: he hasn’t written the book yet.
“Oh God no!” he yells, jolting out of the sofa.
“What is it?” his wife, famous Canadian singer Diana Krall, asks. She pauses the television.
“I haven’t written the book yet today!”
“It’s fine, my dreamboat. Your book is long enough.”
She’s had this conversation before. She’s tried to fight him on this, but to no avail. She doesn’t want to fight him again; she wants him to know the difference between a lover and a fighter.
“No! No! It’s never long enough!” Elvis says.
Elvis runs over to his electric typewriter and puts in a fresh sheet of paper. He doesn’t use the computer — he started out the book with an electric typewriter and he’ll finish the book with it.
“Honey, please…” Diana says.
“Give me a minute, Di! I’m writing!”
He looks back at the watch. It’s 11:54. He takes a deep, regretful breath and places his fingers on worn-down keys.
Chapter 14,834 he writes.
“Elvis, you have to stop,” Diana says. “You’re old enough to know better.”
“No. I have to write…I have to write this book…every day…every day…every day I write this book.”
Elvis doesn’t remember how it began, and he doesn’t know how it ends either; all he knows is that he has to write it every day. In 1983, he wrote a song about writing the book, hoping it would provide the necessary catharsis to break the habit. Instead, he used the Billboard Top 40 hit to justify the writing. People want me to write the book, he thought, so he kept on writing every day.
The book is very long. Elvis looks around his house and sees stacks and stacks of paper. While most couples furnish their houses with nice furniture, the Costellos’ home is filled with papers. They sit, in an order only comprehensible to Elvis, and gather dust. The papers just sit there. The book is impossibly long, and not one page has ever been read. When Diana reminds Elvis of this, he always says that the book will only be read when it is finished. Diana knows the truth: the book will only truly be finished when Elvis is dead. He’ll never write the sequel, and the film rights will mean nothing.
Poor Diana. She knew nothing about this obsession when she and Elvis started dating. When Elvis proposed, she accepted under one condition: that he would stop writing the book. He agreed, but couldn’t stop — he returned to his old tricks and would write the book in secret. Even when she found this out, she said she’d stand by him. She loved him too much. It hurts her, though. Each day she sees the wrinkles grow on his face. He sees his fingers twitch when he’s away from the electric typewriter for too long.
“Please stop,” Diana says. She is giving him a longing look. “Elvis, please. You can’t keep this going forever. Elvis, I love you.”
Elvis begins to cry. He hasn’t cried since beginning to write the book; he has saved up his tears. Since they are only coming out now, the tears are heavier than usual, and they are flying everywhere. The tears are landing on the keyboard, and since they are so heavy they are actually typing. Elvis hears the clanking, so he looks up at the page to see what his tears wrote.
It says THE END.