Cry Baby

A HOSPITAL NURSERY WINDOW. A NEW PARENT STANDS THERE, LOOKING IN AND COOING AT THEIR CHILD. STEVE JOINS THEM.

STEVE: Hi.

PARENT: Hello.

STEVE: Which one’s yours?

PARENT: (POINTS) That one’s my sweet, little Tifferly.

STEVE: (WINCES) Oh…

PARENT: What do you mean, “Oh”? And what’s with that look?

STEVE: I’m sorry. It’s just… How long does she have?

PARENT: I beg your pardon?

STEVE: (POINTS) Tifferly. Poor thing looks like she’s got something awful. I hope it’s not too contagious.

PARENT: My Tifferly is perfectly healthy!

STEVE: (LOOKS AT TIFFERLY, BACK TO PARENT) She is?

PARENT: Okay, Mr. Comedian. Why don’t you point out yours, and we can see how you like it.

STEVE: My what?

PARENT: Your baby, obviously.

STEVE: Oh. I don’t have a baby.

PARENT: You don’t?

STEVE: Heavens, no. We wouldn’t be so cruel as to do a thing like that.

PARENT: I’m sorry?

STEVE: No, the wife and I agreed a long time ago that it’d be utterly selfish and cruel of us to knowingly force such a thing on a child.

PARENT: Force what on a child?

STEVE: Life, of course. Doesn’t get much worse than that, you know. INumber one cause of death, last I checked.

PARENT: What are you talking about? You’re alive, aren’t you?

STEVE: Don’t remind me. It takes about all I have these days to preoccupy myself with anything but perpetual intrusive thoughts of a life sentence of endless scrutiny, social engineering, and shifting demographics that will forever leave all of us broken and forgotten in favor of yet another, younger generation of replaceable cogs and widgets in some rich person’s idea of a utopian serfdom.

PARENT: I see… Well, if you don’t have any children, then why the farting hell are you here?

STEVE: I make high-stakes bets on the future of these kids.

A PAUSE.

PARENT: What sort of bets?

STEVE: Oh, you know… “Who will survive their gun-infested high school and attend college?”; “Who will suffer a tragic illness before the age of five?”; “Who will be left with no retirement or hope for a humane end as they slowly and painfully slip ever closer into the cold embrace of death in that dumpster behind a stripmall laundry mat?” Those sorts of things.

PARENT: Those stakes certainly are high.

STEVE: Hell of a world we live in.

PARENT: Right. Well… (HANDS OVER A WAD OF CASH) Let me put a thousand on Tifferly not making it to college. The poor thing has complete idiots for parents.