I’ll admit “Hearsay” isn’t one of my stronger stories. The basic idea is sound, but it suffers from being mercilessly slashed from its original length to fit the word count of a short story contest. Somewhere along the way I lost the longer version.
Still, it’s a theme we can relate to, especially those of us a bit longer in the tooth: How do we handle our own perceived obsolescence? Benny Warren is an old newspaper guy who can’t let go of his past life and believes he can’t reinvent himself. So desperate is he for the glories of the past that he makes a deal with the Devil. (Literally? You decide.)
I first drafted this shortly before Google Glass arrived (and quickly failed). I'd read an article about the idea of contact lenses connected to the internet that could offer up information to users instantaneously. I decided Benny needed a more permanent solution—hence the magical pill.
There’s a secondary theme here, too, about believing everything you read on the internet. There's a lot of that going on right now. Obviously Benny is fed a lie for a purpose, but who is to say the other revelations weren’t equally false? Not once does Benny turn a skeptical eye to what he’s reading. That alone speaks volumes to his state of mind--and therein lies a message for each of us.
As I said, not my strongest story. But one we can all learn something from.