How the Wes was Won

Wes was the most charming client in my menagerie of accounting clients—a great charm causing me the utmost stress and anxiety.

Accounting records were not handed over until almost the very last day of the taxman’s deadline. When shown the completed statements and returns, he would woe the fact I had calculated his taxes too low. My ulcers mounted each time we met.

Wes once created a business card for me. I instantly fell in love with it. True, by the time I received the cards (for free), that business no longer existed.

I deliberately chose to take him to Aladdin’s Casbah, filled with hookahs and belly dancers to ask his favour.

“It would be my pleasure to create your book cover.”

“But I also need illustrations for each chapter.”

He read my book once. He read my book twice. And came back with his proposal.

My brilliant book traversed exotic cities to enchanted islands. I envisaged an illustration of an ancient aqueduct or the glittering skyline of Dubai.

What did I get? A bathtub stuck on a hill.

In all my book, I had dedicated two sentences to this sighting. Wes chose it to represent the whole book.

On my travels in Cyprus, returning home on a bus after a hot and terribly disappointing day, I fell asleep. Suddenly waking up, I saw a white bathtub stuck halfway up a hill. Thought I was hallucinating until some scrawny goats came and dipped their heads into the tub.

It was being used as a trough.

“Don’t you see. The tub is you—always the outsider sticking out from the crowd. The goats are your readers, sipping from your trough of stories.”

The cover depicted a parched yellow background, a brown grass-shorn hillside with an oversized bathtub plumped in the foreground. A hideous giant ”A” hung over the whole drawing standing for Aphrodite, the book title.

I wanted to cry.

But the novelist was not for turning.

Months passed, accumulating a dozen variations on the theme. Nothing stuck.

Late one night he called. “Eureka. Can we meet?”

It was as though another artist had stepped into his shoes. A whirlwind of curves and images—a strawberry, Comet 4 jet, playing cards—all images drawn from my writing and melded together.

Boy did it work—the only book cover to draw my readers in AFTER they had read all the chapters, to spot the icons Wes had produced and match them, in their minds, to each story.

“Wes Baby, now do me a quick sketch as a frontispiece for each chapter. Something simple.“

He drew a Tintinesque cartoon of my first chapter.

The chapter was set in Cyprus, with vistas of a two-thousand-year-old aqueduct, a “high class” Indian restaurant ensconced in the basement of a dark building which” stood like a Victorian Grande Dame in mourning.”

What did he choose? Me sitting in a large, plush leather sofa, Crocs on my feet, reading a newspaper advert about a cheap excursion to Cyprus.  The very beginning of my journey. So obvious but overlooked by anyone else.

This picture was filled with the minutia of a hundred details and framed like a work of art. Wes had gone out of his way to explore the history of Cyprus and its horde of conquerors. He created twelve different frames, one for each chapter.

Each frame was based on the designs used by a conquering civilization. I had only asked for a quick sketch. Wes added the chapter title across a twisted banner atop each frame to match the book cover.

Beneath, he had placed a quote from the chapter: “What do you mean am I for real?’

My newest book ‘The Vanished Gardens of Cordova’ is available on Amazon and Kindle.
Click here to learn more and purchase.

Written by Emil Rem

An eccentric accountant becomes a writer of eccentric characters, in exotic locales, with each chapter taking us on a trip into the fascinating twisted world of Emil Rem. Born to a close knit middle class Muslim East Indian family in Dar-es-Salam in the 50’s, he is then moved to Maidenhead England at the age of five. The next twenty years are spent shuttling between England and East Africa, wearing a St. Christopher’s cross one minute and attending church, to wearing a green arm band and attending Muslim religious classes in Africa next minute. Moving to Canada, marrying a woman from the Philippines and having two boys only adds further texture to his stories.


How the Wes was Won