Hell, Or Something Like It

AN APARTMENT. STEVE STANDS AROUND LIKE THE CLUELESS RECLUSE THAT HE IS.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Our story opens today in a depressing apartment where Steve, amateur professional and local recluse, made the mistake of reading a message from his wife.

STEVE OPENS, READS MESSAGE FROM HIS WIFE.

WIFE: (VOICE-OVER) My love, my sweet, my mold- and dust-infested rock chained around my ankle, for the love of hyperbole, please go outside and get a bit of sun today. Please.

STEVE: (POUTS) Ugh…

WIFE: (VOICE-OVER) I heard that.

STEVE: (LOOKS AROUND) What? How?

WIFE: (VOICE-OVER) Never mind that. Just go outside, or I’ll beat you clean like a rug when I get home. Honestly. You smell like the dog.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) With his wife’s insulting threat of violence fresh in his mind and an insecure whiff of himself…

STEVE SNIFFS SELF, SHRUGS.

…Steve eventually left his apartment and ventured forth into the sun-infested world beyond.

STEVE RELUCTANTLY STEPS OUT OF HIS APARTMENT.

Or, at least, that’s what he would have done…

STEVE INEXPLICABLY STEPS BACK INTO HIS APARTMENT.

STEVE: What the hell?

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) …had he not inexplicably stepped back into his apartment.

STEVE: (TO NARRATOR) That’s crazy, and you know it.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Perhaps. Yet, here we are.

NEIGHBOR: (OFF) Who ya talkin’ to?

STEVE: (STARTLED) Fucking hell!

STEVE TURNS TO FIND NEIGHBOR STANDING IN THE HALLWAY.

NEIGHBOR: Hey, neighbor!

STEVE: Hey… (PUZZLES THIS) You.

NEIGHBOR: You forgot my name again, didn’t you?

A PAUSE.

STEVE: Nevermind that. Can I ask you a question?

NEIGHBOR: Can you tell me my name?

STEVE: No, but I’m going to ask my question anyway. (GESTURES) How did you get there?

NEIGHBOR: Well. The way my mom tells it, it all started when my dad was startled by the sound of my grandparents’ station wagon pulling into the driveway…

STEVE: The hallway. How did you get there, out in the hallway?

NEIGHBOR: Oh… (HOLDS UP BAG OF GOODIES) I stepped out to get myself a drink and some snacks from the corner store.

STEVE: You just… stepped out?

NEIGHBOR: Yeah.

STEVE: And that worked?

NEIGHBOR: Uh-huh.

STEVE: So, you didn’t step out only to then immediately step right back into your apartment?

NEIGHBOR: Nope.

STEVE: I see.

A PAUSE.

NEIGHBOR: I’m going to go back to my apartment now.

STEVE: (SHOOS) Yes, fine. Go.

NEIGHBOR WALKS AWAY, ENTERS THEIR APARTMENT.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) With his neighbor, whose name he totally remembered, back in their apartment and nobody else around…

STEVE STICKS HIS HEAD OUT THE DOOR, LOOKS AROUND.

…Steve leaped out his door…

STEVE LEAPS OUT HIS DOOR.

…and inexplicably lands right back in his apartment.

STEVE INEXPLICABLY LANDS RIGHT BACK IN HIS APARTMENT.

STEVE: Fucking hell!

A DOOR OPENS DOWN THE HALLWAY.

NEIGHBOR: (OFF) You okay there, Steve?

STEVE: Yes… (CONSIDERS THIS) Rory?

A PAUSE.

NEIGHBOR: (OFF) You got lucky.

DOOR CLOSES DOWN THE HALLWAY.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) For the next several hours, Steve jumped out of and back into his apartment…

STEVE STEP JUMPS OUT, BACK INTO HIS APARTMENT. AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.

…threw canned goods out of his apartment…

STEVE THROWS A CAN OUT INTO THE HALL. IT STAYS THERE.

…that, for whatever reason, didn’t immediately come right back into his apartment…

STEVE STARES AT A NOT-INSUBSTANTIAL PILE OF CANNED GOODS, THE PILE OF CANS STARES BACK.

STEVE: Hmm.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) …and he even tossed his dog out into the hallway, just to be sure.

STEVE TOSSES HIS DOG OUT INTO THE HALL.

DOG WALKS BACK INTO THE APARTMENT, CONFUSED, BUT FINE.

STEVE LOOKS AT DOG, TO THE PILE OF CANS IN THE HALLWAY, BACK TO THE DOG. THEN…

STEVE: Shit-fart-damn-hell!

WIFE: (OFF) What are you doing?

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) It was right about the time someone asked, “What are you doing?”, when Steve’s Wife returned home.

STEVE LOOKS, FINDS WIFE STANDING IN THE HALLWAY.

STEVE: Hello, my love.

WIFE: Don’t tell me you’ve been in here all day again.

STEVE: Okay, I won’t.

A PAUSE.

WIFE STEPS AROUND STEVE, INTO THE APARTMENT.

WIFE: Close the door, please.

STEVE: Yes, my love.

WIFE: (OFF) Oh, and get the beating rod.

STEVE: (SIGHS) Fine…

STEVE CLOSES THE APARTMENT DOOR.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) But just as he closed the door to their apartment, it occurred to Steve that he never bothered to try the window.

STEVE: (BEHIND DOOR) Farting balls!

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Don’t miss our next oddly mundane episode: “The Waiting Game,” or “Out of Line.”

TO BE CONTINUED…