I walked into the Petra Museum gift shop to pick up a few postcards, in case I was too tired after my visit to make those kinds of decisions.

“How are you?” the shopkeep said.

“Great,” I said. “How are you?”

“Still breathing.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“What’s your name?”


“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Nope. Totally serious. That’s my name.”



“I had a horse named Jessica! Old horse. An Arabian. Jessica!”

“It’s a pretty good name,” I said.

“She was the best!”

“We’re hard workers,” I said. “Jessicas. The horses and the people.”

The name Jessica was invented by Shakespeare. As an author, I’d also like to invent a name that becomes curiously popular for no obvious reason 500 years in the future too.

I’ll let you know if I ever come up with something.

Names are important. I wish I could remember when or how I came up with the title of my first and upcoming debut novel, Corporate Torsos Need Not Apply. Did it drive the plot or did I already have all those ideas? I’ve been working on it and thinking about it for so long I can’t remember. I do know it wasn’t intentional that the acronym CTNNA is also a gene, but when I found out I incorporated it into the book.

You never know what drawing the parallels is going to get you, if anything, but sometimes if you share the name of a guy’s horse, it brightens both your days.

After a few hours of walking and a couple of coffee stops in Petra, I got to the top, The Monastery. I’d gotten a tip that you should walk past for about ten minutes, where there was an impressive view. So I started. Rains came. A wind kicked up. I was running late in getting back to my ride. Should I carry on?

Then I saw a sign that said, “End of the World Coffee Shop” next to another sign that read, “BEST VIEWS.”

I couldn’t say no to that kind of advertising. I continued on, through the wind and the rain, to find this coffee shop at the end of the world.

“I’m going to die out here,” I thought.

I didn’t die out there. I made it. But there was no coffee to be found.

Deep down inside, I still applauded the concept. The marketing. The name.

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