(This Dave Barry column was originally published June 27, 2004.)
I have written a blockbuster novel. My inspiration was The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, which has sold 253 trillion copies in hardcover because it's such a compelling page-turner. NOBODY can put this book down:
MOTHER ON BEACH: Help! My child is being attacked by a shark!
LIFEGUARD (looking up from The DaVinci Code: Not now! I just got to page 243, where it turns out that one of the men depicted in "The Last Supper" is actually a woman!
MOTHER: I know! Isn't that incredible? And it turns out that she's . . .
SHARK (spitting out the child): Don't give it away! I'm only on page 187!
The key to The DaVinci Code is that it's filled with startling plot twists, and almost every chapter ends with a "cliffhanger, " so you have to keep reading to see what will happen. Using this formula, I wrote the following blockbuster novel, titled The Constitution Conundrum. It's fairly short now, but when I get a huge publishing contract, I'll flesh it out to 100,000 words by adding sentences.
CHAPTER ONE: Handsome yet unmarried historian Hugh Heckman stood in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., squinting through the bulletproof glass at the U.S. Constitution. Suddenly, he made an amazing discovery.
"My God!" he said, out loud. "This is incredible! Soon I will say what it is."
CHAPTER TWO: "What is it?" said a woman Heckman had never seen before who happened to be standing next to him. She was extremely beautiful, but wore glasses as a sign of intelligence.
"My name is Desiree Legume, " she said.
Heckman felt he could trust her.
"Look at this!" he said, pointing to the Constitution.
"My God, that's incredible!" said Desiree. "It's going to be very surprising when we finally reveal what we're talking about!"
CHAPTER THREE: "Yes, " said Hugh, "incredible as it seems, there are extra words written in the margin of the U.S. Constitution, and nobody ever noticed them until now! They appear to be in some kind of code."
"Let me look, " said Desiree. "In addition to being gorgeous, I am a trained codebreaker. Oh my God!"
"What is it?" asked Hugh in an excited yet concerned tone of voice. "The message, " said Desiree, "is . . . "
But just then, the chapter ended.
CHAPTER FOUR: "It's a fiendishly clever code, " explained Desiree. "As you can see, the words say: 'White House White House Bo Bite House, Banana Fana Fo Fite House, Fe Fi Mo Mite House, White House.' "
"Yes, " said Hugh, frowning in bafflement. "But what can it possibly mean?"
"If I am correct, " said Desiree, "it is referring to . . . the White House!"
"My God!" said Hugh. "That's where the president lives! Do you think . . . "
"Do I think what?" said Desiree.
"I don't know, " said Hugh. "But we're about to find out."
CHAPTER FIVE: Hugh and Desiree crouched in some bushes next to the Oval Office.
"We'd better hurry up and solve this mystery, " remarked Desiree anxiously. "It's only a matter of time before somebody notices that the Constitution is missing." She had slipped it into her purse at the National Archives while the guard wasn't looking.
"The answer must be here somewhere, " said Hugh, studying the ancient document, which was brown from age and the fact that he had spilled Diet Peach Snapple on it.
"Wait a minute!" he said. "I've got it!"
"What?" said Desiree, her breasts heaving into view.
"The answer!" said Hugh. "It's . . .
But just then, shots rang out.
CHAPTER SIX: "That was close!" remarked Desiree. "Fortunately, those shots had nothing to do with the plot of this book."
"Yes, " said Hugh. "Anyway, as I was saying, the answer is to hold the Constitution up so that it is aligned with the White House and the Washington Monument. . . . There, do you see what I mean?"
"My God!" said Desiree, seeing what he meant. "It's . . . "
"Hold it right there, " said the president of the United States.
CHAPTER SEVEN: " . . . and so you see, " concluded the president, "you two uncovered a shocking and fascinating secret that, if it should ever get out, could change the course of history."
"Mr. President, " said Desiree, "thank you for that riveting and satisfying explanation, which will be fleshed out into much greater detail once there is a publishing contract."
"Also, " noted Hugh, "we may use some beverage other than Snapple, depending on what kind of product-placement deals can be worked out."
"Good, " said the president. "Now can I have the Constitution back?"
They all enjoyed a hearty laugh, for they knew that the movie rights were also available.
© Dave Barry
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