Digital Streaming Services

MISS HANDCRANK IS FAST ASLEEP IN HER BED. SUDDENLY THERE IS A RUDE KNOCKING AT THE DOOR.

MISS HANDCRANK: (STIRS) What in the… (ROLLS OUT OF BED) I swear, if this is another person from the cable company here to ask about my provider…

RUDE KNOCKING CONTINUES.

I’m coming, I’m coming!

MISS HANDCRANK OPENS THE DOOR. MR. COPPAFEEL AND MR. IMMATOOL STAND THERE HOLDING CLIPBOARDS.

Do you have any idea what time it is?S

MR. COPPAFEEL AND MR. IMMATOOL EXCHANGE A LOOK. MR. IMMATOOL SHRUGS.

MR. COPPAFEEL: No, I’m afraid we don’t.

MISS HANDCRANK: Oh. Well, neither do I. But I assume it’s too late for someone to come knocking at my door and waking me up when I have a long day of crippling unemployment and existential dread ahead of me.

MR. IMMATOOL: My apologies, Miss… (CHECKS CLIPBOARD) Alyssica Handcrank?

MISS HANDCRANK: That’s right. What’s this about? Why do you have my name written down there? Does this involve you giving me money somehow?

MR. IMMATOOL: I’m afraid not, Miss Handcrank. I’m Mr. Immatool, and this is my associate, Mr. Coppafeel. We’re here to inform you that you have been specially selected for a very special, very important matter.

MISS HANDCRANK: Oh? What sort of very special, very important matter?

MR. COPPAFEEL AND MR. IMMATOOL EXCHANGE ANOTHER LOOK. MR. IMMATOOL GESTURES TO MR. COPPAFEEL.

MR. COPPAFEEL: Well, as you know, it’s very special…

MR. IMMATOOL: And very important.

MR. COPPAFEEL: And very important, yes.

MISS HANDCRANK: Have you been drinking?

MR. IMMATOOL: Have we been drinking?

MISS HANDCRANK: That’s what I asked, yes.

MR. IMMATOOL: I was afraid of that.

MR. COPPAFEEL: (SCOFFS) Well, of course we’ve been drinking, Miss Handcrank. It’s not exactly everyday you’re tasked with knocking on strangers doors at strange hours to inform them they’ve been selected for death.

MISS HANDCRANK: What do you mean, “selected for death”?

MR. IMMATOOL: As you know, Miss Handcrank, we are living in unprecedented times – plagues, war, an overabundance of mostly well-priced digital streaming services.

MISS HANDCRANK: Yes, of course.

MR. COPPAFEEL: Then you must also be aware of the poor quality and limited choice of telecommunication infrastructure in this country.

MR. IMMATOOL: Our internet speeds are terrible. Simply terrible.

MR. COPPAFEEL: I mean, how can anyone be expected to watch an endless buffet of programming these days without a consistent, full 4k resolution and the sexual delicacy of High Dynamic Range color palettes?

MR. IMMATOOL: Impossible. Simply impossible.

MR. COPPAFEEL: Sacrifices must be made, Mr. Handcrank.

MISS HANDCRANK: I see.

MR. IMMATOOL: So, my associate and I got to talking…

MR. COPPAFEEL: And drinking.

MR. IMMATOOL: And drinking, of course. But we eventually came to the conclusion that the only way to ensure our way of life continues would be if a not-insignificant portion of the local populace were selectively killed off…

MR. COPPAFEEL: A “culling,” if you like.

MR. IMMATOOL: But a humane culling, of course.

MR. COPPAFEEL: Oh, most certainly a humane culling.

MISS HANDCRANK: Well, I’m sorry. I know we all have to do our part, but I don’t feel like being culled today.

MR. COPPAFEEL AND MR. IMMATOOL EXCHANGE A FINAL LOOK.

MR. IMMATOOL: We were afraid that might be the case.

MISS HANDCRANK: (CONSIDERS THIS) Well, you might want to try Mr. Scrotum down the hall.

MR. COPPAFEEL: Do you think he might be interested in a humane culling?

MISS HANDCRANK: No, but that sonnovabitch keeps parking in my assigned spot. You’d be doing me a favor.

All My Mistakes

ENIS AND OVARIA ARE SEATED AT A TABLE IN A MEDIOCRE RESTAURANT.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) We now return to, “All My Mistakes,” the ongoing drama of pathetic losers failing at love and life in all the right places.

When we last left Enis and Ovaria, they were fornicating in the backseat of someone else’s car while on the way to a lovely restaurant. But when the car’s owner finally noticed the two lovebirds, he violently ejected them from the moving vehicle, just a short walk away from a mediocre restaurant.

ENIS: Ovaria, my love, my darling, my etcetera and so forth… I have a confession to make.

OVARIA: Yes, Enis, my dearest, my consummate disappointment, my lovingest regret?

ENIS: You’re not real.

OVARIA: What? Not real?

ENIS: Afraid not.

OVARIA: What do you mean I’m not real? I’m sitting here about to have dinner with you, aren’t I?

ENIS: If only it were so simple.

OVARIA: I don’t see how it can be more simple than my existing right here, right now in front of you.

ENIS: Oh, dear, sweet, utterly fabricated Olivia, I had hoped you’d take this revelation a bit better, but that’s just how I built you, I suppose.

OVARIA: Built me? You’re crazy!

ENIS: Am I?

OVARIA: (CONSIDERS THIS) Yes.

ENIS: Is it crazy for a lost, lonely soul to construct their ideal love from an assortment of old electronics, hair pulled from the bathroom sink, and skin-shavings collected over the course of many, many years, and fusing these things together with the aid of everyday house cleaning products, dark magic, and the blood of several unwilling hitchhikers?

OVARIA: Yes. That’s absolutely insane.

ENIS: Well, I’m sorry you feel that way.

OVARIA: Enis, I also have a confession to make…

ENIS: Oh?

OVARIA: You’re not real either.

ENIS: What?

OVARIA: You’re a figment of my imagination. A pastiche puppet of my own design and backstory, poorly crafted one night after a long, lusty night of cocktails, pills, and a failed attempt at playing pen-and-paper tabletop roleplaying games with strangers on the internet. (PULLS A HANDFUL OF MULTI-SIDED DICE FROM HER PURSE) In fact, I control all that you are and do with a roll of these dice. 

ENIS: I don’t believe it.

OVARIA ROLLS THE DICE.

OVARIA: Hmm… Well, according to this, you do. In fact, it seems you’re taking it rather well.

ENIS: (CONSIDERS THIS) Huh. I suppose I am. So, what do we do now?

OVARIA ROLLS THE DICE AGAIN.

OVARIA: (WINCES) Oh…

ENIS: What? What does it say?

OVARIA: It’s not important. No sense spending your last few moments not-existing with me in panicked existential horror.

The Job: Sack Lunch

A PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING RING.

ENTER ANNOUNCER.

ANNOUNCER: (INTO MICROPHONE) In a high school gym in a town lost among the weed- and bramble-choked hills, where the streets are cracked and broken, and the people there… more or less the same as its streets, we present to you a tale of hurt, betrayal, and more hurt.

GENERIC ROCK MUSIC FILLS THE HIGH SCHOOL GYM.

ENTER TERRY OF THE GRAVEYARD, DRESSED AS A HUMBLE EMPLOYEE OF THE LOCAL CORNER DRUGSTORE.

Terry of the Graveyard, son of Gordie the Accountant and Breastua the Mighty, worker of the graveyard shift down at Nippleson’s Drug Emporium and Liquor Library, lover of pills, and sniffer of glue!

MUSIC CEASES.

ANNOUNCER HOLDS MICROPHONE AS TERRY SPEAKS INTO IT.

TERRY: (INTO MICROPHONE) Woe unto the poor soul who ate from my packed lunch which held mine reuben on marble rye, a baggie of cookies, and boxed juice of the fruit cocktail variety! Shame unto the damned, blasted, and damned soul who would take of my lunch without so much as reading my name that was clearly written in plain English on the brown sack in which it was held! And short be their days, as I, Terry of the Graveyard, seek not only reimbursement of lunch lost, but battle to satiate my hunger and blood to quench my thirst!

ANNOUNCER: (INTO MICROPHONE) What manner of beast or man or man or beast would take of another’s lunch so? Who among us dare to touch another man’s sack without permission?

TERRY: (INTO MICROPHONE) It was… It was… Oh, but it breaks mine heart in twain to say, but it was…

DIFFERENT GENERIC ROCK MUSIC PLAYS.

ENTER MANAGER MIKE.

ANNOUNCER: (INTO MICROPHONE) Mike, Manager of the Late Nights and occasionally of the evening when The One They Call Katie unexpectedly, yet expectedly calls out!

MUSIC CEASES.

MIKE: (INTO MICROPHONE) It is I, Manager Mike, and none other!

ANNOUNCER: (INTO MICROPHONE) Twas you who stole of the lunch engraved with the name of Terry of the Graveyard?

MIKE: (INTO MICROPHONE) Lies upon lies upon falsehoods upon unsubstantiated untruths!

TERRY: (INTO MICROPHONE) Nay! Twas Manager Mike who stole of my lunch and drank of my drink!

ANNOUNCER: (INTO MICROPHONE) If your personage is not of the thieving flavor, why does thou stand here before us when your shift is in but a few hours?

TERRY: (INTO MICROPHONE) Guilt pangs at his heart like so many cholesterols! Shame hardens his soul as his arteries do!

MIKE: (INTO MICROPHONE) My heart is free of guilt and blockages, and the only thing hardened is my resolve! If thou will not keep still thy lying tongue, then I shall remove it for thee!

TERRY: Have at thee!

ANNOUNCER EXITS THE RING.

A BELL RINGS.

MIKE AND TERRY AWKWARDLY HOLD, GRUNT, TICKLE, AND SLAP EACH OTHER ABOUT IN COMBAT!

A PHONE RINGS AND RINGS.

MIKE AND TERRY STOP MID-WRESTLE.

MIKE: Would someone please answer that?

TERRY: Yeah, it’s a bit distracting.

ANNOUNCER: Sorry. I’ve got it.

MIKE & TERRY: Thank you.

MIKE AND TERRY COMMENCE WITH THE WRESTLING.

ANNOUNCER EVENTUALLY ANSWERS THE PHONE.

ANNOUNCER: Hello? Hello. Hi. Right, sorry. Uh-huh? Uh-huh. Uh-huh… Okay. I’ll tell them. Bye.

ANNOUNCER HANGS UP, JUST AS MIKE AND TERRY STOP MID-WRESTLE.

TERRY: What was all that about?

MIKE: It better be important. We’re in the middle of a very serious blood feud at the moment.

ANNOUNCER: That was The One They Call Katie. She said her go-bloots is acting up again, and she needs you two to come in early so she can meet up with her old high school besties for a night of binge drinking.

MIKE AND TERRY CEASE WITH THE WRESTLING ALTOGETHER.

MIKE & TERRY: Boh!

Adia: Reuben, or Out

ADIA, A MASSIVE BUDGET BIN, CYBERPUNK-LIKE PORT CITY ALONG THE PACIFIC. NEON-LIGHTS. DENSE SMOG, DENSER PEOPLE. CHEAPLY MADE SCI-FI WONDER MACHINES, VEHICLES, AND OTHER NEEDLESS EVERYDAY EVERYTHINGS. ALSO, EVERYONE’S POOR.

JANUARY EMBERS, CONSPICUOUSLY ARMED TO THE TEETH AND LOOKING DOWN THE SCOPE OF A RIFLE, CAMPED ATOP A ROOF OVERLOOKING A LOCAL DELI. SIBIL, A LITERAL DISEMBODIED DIGITIZED VOICE, IS RIGHT BY HER SIDE… IN A SENSE.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) The place, a rooftop on the south side of Adia, a neon-soaked, smog-choked port city along the Pacific. Too hot to hold, too wet to… to, uh…

JANUARY: Sibil?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Too wet… because it’s always raining all the time when it isn’t too hot. But sometimes, also both.

JANUARY: Sibil.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) The shock of pink hair with suspect fashion sense and her eye trained down the scope of a rifle is January Embers, bounty hunter by day, but also by night.

JANUARY: Sibil!

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) What?

JANUARY: Do you mind?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I’m bored.

JANUARY: I’m working.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) You’re always working.

JANUARY: And you are always talking.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I’m literally a voice in your head.

JANUARY: Aren’t we all just voices in each other’s heads?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) (CONSIDERS THIS) Fair point.

JANUARY: Look. I get it. But do you have to narrate everything?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Once you find my, uh… me… bio-me?

JANUARY: If I ever find you…

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) When you do, you can upload all of this to her. To me. To us? Whatever. It’ll be like I was here the whole time. Which I am. Sorta.

JANUARY: I don’t think you’re processing dying very well.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) And I don’t think you’re being very considerate of your best friend’s feelings right now.

JANUARY: You really need to move on.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Move on? I’m not a ghost, January!

JANUARY: Sibil, you died. What’s the big deal?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) (SCOFFS) “What’s the big deal?”

JANUARY: Wasn’t that the whole point of this A.I. back-up gimmick, so death is every bit as meaningless as life?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) We still don’t know for sure that I’m dead.

JANUARY: You died. Learn to cope. I did.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Oh, I’m sorry. Is that what this is? Coping?

JANUARY: Yes?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) You’re on a rooftop waiting to kill a guy as he comes out of a deli.

JANUARY: I am waging a one-woman war on the evil that plagues this godforsaken city so that nobody else suffers the same fate as my best friend turned literal ghost in the machine and eternal pain in my ass!

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) You kill people for money!

JANUARY: Also money, yes.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) That’s hardly a moral crusade.

JANUARY: That’s why I called it a war. Wars are for money.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I mean, so were the Crusades. I think.

JANUARY: At least I have a hobby. Making a difference in my community. Maybe.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Yeah. No, you’ve totally convinced me.

JANUARY: I don’t need to rationalize my grieving process to you.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Why? Because I’m not the real Sibil?

JANUARY: Wow.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) What?

JANUARY: No.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) It is, isn’t it?

JANUARY: You need help.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) What?

JANUARY: I am perfectly comfortable with who and what you are, and I am fortunate for our friendship to live on…

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Aww.

JANUARY: …in some twisted mockery of sentient life.

A SILENCE.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I hate you.

JANUARY: You love me.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I wish I was never backed up.

JANUARY: Well, you were. And, for whatever reason, had yourself mailed to me.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Who else was I going to pick?

JANUARY: I don’t know. Why did you take off for a year and not say anything to me until I set your password?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I told already, I don’t know.

JANUARY: And I told you I was working. So, can we please not do this right now?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Can I go back to what I was doing?

JANUARY: Yes. Fine. Whatever.

ANOTHER SILENCE.

Sibil?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) The moment’s passed.

JANUARY: (GROANS) Oh, my god. Will you please shut up until I put a bullet in this guy? I’ve been up here all night.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) So have I?

JANUARY: Yes, well, only one of us has to sleep. And I’d like to be in bed before Chuck starts with his morning aerobics. You know I can’t fall asleep once he starts playing Cyndi Lauper.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I hate classical music.

JANUARY: Agreed. But at least he’s finally doing something about his health, ya know?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) Oh, for sure.

JANUARY: I mean, it’s a real big, positive change for him and I want to be supportive.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) You’re still killing people for money, though.

JANUARY: Yes, and I’d like to get paid sooner. So, will you please shut… Oh, there he is now.

ACROSS THE WAY, A MAN STEPS OUT OF THE DELI EATING A REUBEN SANDWICH.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) That reuben he’s eating sure looks tasty. Think we can get one once we’re done here?

JANUARY: You don’t eat.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) No, but I like to–

BANG! JANUARY BLASTS A HOLE THROUGH THE MAN’S HEAD, KILLING HIM.

JANUARY: (SIGH OF RELIEF) Finally!

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I can’t tell where his head ends and the sandwich begins…

JANUARY: (CHUCKLES) I know, right?

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) If I had a mouth and a stomach, I’d be sick.

JANUARY: Is that a pass on the reuben, then?

YET ANOTHER SILENCE.

SIBIL: (DIGITAL) I didn’t say that.

Alley Oops

BILL BILLIAMSON TYPES AWAY AT A TYPEWRITER IN AN ALLEYWAY.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Meanwhile, somewhere in an alley behind a stripmall…

TRENT SCROTAL-WAXING, A FLUSTERED WEIRDO HOLDING A STACK OF LOOSELY-BOUND PRINTER PAPER, ENTERS.

TRENT: Excuse me, are you erotic scifi novelist Bill Billiamson?

BILL: That’s right. How may I help you?

TRENT: Wow. Uh… Hi, I’m Trent Scrotal-Waxing. I recently finished reading your new book, “Wet, Sloppy Bits in Space,” and I just wanted to say you’re a real bastard, aren’t you?

BILL: I’m sorry?

TRENT: Look. I’ve been a fan of yours ever since I pirated a copy of “Dinosaur Orgy on Mars with Robots and Lasers,” but I do not appreciate this tactless commentary on me and my genitals.

BILL: I’ve done no such thing.

TRENT: Oh, come now. Did you really think I wouldn’t notice all these thinly veiled references to me and my genitals scattered throughout this… this… literary hit piece?

BILL: “Literary hit piece”?

TRENT: Playing stupid, are we, Mr. Billiamson?

BILL: I assure you, I’m not playing at all.

TRENT: And I assure you, I’ll have your ears choking on your own words… (FLIPS THROUGH THE STACK AND READS) “As the flaccid winds of Analor stung their eyes and punched their nose in that way an offensive smell might do had it a fist, they looked upon the distant light of Brixby-Eleventy and sighed a sexual sigh.”

BILL: Yes?

TRENT: (SCOFFS) Need I go on?

BILL: (CONSIDERS THIS) Yes.

TRENT: Oh, well… Uh… What about this… (READS) “Cunnilinda held his arm in the light of the moon, content in the knowledge she could never love another.” Hmm? Did you really find it so necessary to mock my lifelong inability to find companionship without paying for it?

BILL: Did you pirate and print out a copy of my book instead of buying it?

TRENT: I did. And after suffering through your attacks on me and my genitals, I have to say it was worth every penny.

BILL: Look. Mister…

TRENT: Scrotal-Waxing.

BILL: Mr. Scrotal-Waxing, rest assured that I do not know you, I do not want to know you, and I have absolutely no intention of writing anything about you or your genitals.

TRENT: A bit late for that now, isn’t it? Now the whole world thinks my genitals are of an inferior nature, utterly incapable of pleasurbation!

BILL: Are you sure you’ve actually read my book?

TRENT: I’ve… read enough, thank you very much.

BILL: (GESTURES TO THE STACK OF PAPER) May I?

TRENT: (HANDS STACK OF PAPER TO BILL) Far be it from me to stop another man from digging his own grave.

BILL: (READS) “The Turgidian drove his staff deep into the soft, yielding flesh of yet another Moistman, and howled like some sort of howling beast.” I suppose that one’s also about you?

TRENT: An obvious allusion to my deep-seated resentment toward my mother.

BILL: Right. Well, what about… (READS) “They dove headfirst into the slippy mouth of the Clitorian Caverns, never to be seen again.” What’s that one about, then?

TRENT: I was only a child, Mr. Billiamson!

Human Capital Stock

AN ADVERTISEMENT: THE SORT YOU HEAR ON THE MORNING COMMUTE OR DAY-TIME TELEVISION.

INDEBTA, A MIDDLE-MANAGER TYPE, SULKS IN AN UNCOMFORTABLE CHAIR.

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) Are you a middle-manager type sulking and hiding in your office as you avoid dealing with the numerous complaints about low wages, long hours, sexual harrassment, and the various recording devices in the employee washroom violating privacy laws and basic human decency?

INDEBTA: (NODS) Uh-huh.

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) Have your shallow attempts to cultivate a cult-like roster of exhausted wage-slaves by way of after-hour binge-drinking events masquerading as “team-building exercises,” sparkling bottled water in the breakroom, and assorted absurd mantras, slogans, and unearthly chanting failed to obtain the results and data your corporate overlords demand of you?

INDEBTA: (SHRUGS) Maybe…

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) Then maybe you need the Monopticon Electric Corporate Employee Trainer System.

INDEBTA: The Monopticon Electric Corporate Employee Trainer System?

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) Yes, you insipid potato, the Monopticon Electric Corporate Employee Trainer System is the only handheld training device designed by bastards and approved by the Federal Government for the sole purpose of keeping your worthless, yet valuable human capital stock in line!

INDEBTA HOLDS UP A MONOPTICON ELECTRIC CORPORATE EMPLOYEE TRAINER SYSTEM.

INDEBTA: Wait. Isn’t this just a cattle prod?

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) Are you stupid, or just an idiot?

INDEBTA: Yes.

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) (SIGHS) Light-weight, battery-powered, sexually healing, and phallic in all the right and wrong ways, the Monopticon Electric Corporate Employee Trainer System is a handheld device capable of delivering enough electricity to put down an African elephant, yet dangerous enough to silence any employee demands that continue to place your owner’s money in jeopardy.

EMPLOYEE ENTERS.

EMPLOYEE: Excuse me, Indebta? I’m here to talk to you about a living wage and reasonable, humane expectations of employees.

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) Why don’t you give it a try?

INDEBTA: Sure, why not?

EMPLOYEE: (LOOKS ABOUT CONFUSED) Who are you talking to, Indebta? What’s that in your–

INDEBTA ELECTROCUTES EMPLOYEE WITH THE MONOPTICON ELECTRIC CORPORATE EMPLOYEE TRAINER SYSTEM, EMPLOYEE DROPS LIFELESS TO THE FLOOR.

INDEBTA: Wow! Thank you, Monopticon Electric Corporate Employee Trainer System!

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) No “thank you” necessary. Simply order the Monopticon Electric Corporate Employee Trainer System and give us your money today!

Trim

The girl sat in a chair in the kitchen of a small house in an unincorporated corner of Anaheim, a bed sheet tied around her neck. Polyps stretched and reached from the pores on her face, the skin there twitching and pulling taut. Their slender tendrils writhing, flicking, and teasing at thin slits of light slipping in from where the curtains were drawn and pinned shut. And a boy, not much younger than the girl, stood across from her, a pair of his mother’s scissors trembling in his chubby fist.

“I think this is going to hurt,” the boy said.

The girl nodded. “Yeah. Do it.”

You’ve Wasted Your Life

A STAGE. DIGGLE BERRIES STANDS IN FRONT OF ONE MICROPHONE. ALAN SMITHEE, HOOKED UP TO ALL SORTS OF WIRES AND CABLES, STANDS IN FRONT OF ANOTHER.

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE-OVER) We now return to our regularly scheduled program, “You’ve Wasted Your Life”!

FANFARE AND CANNED APPLAUSE.

DIGGLE: Welcome back to the show, everyone. I’m your host, Diggle Berries. Our next contest this evening is an employed man from some town you’ve likely never heard of, Mr. Alan Smithee.

MORE CANNED APPLAUSE.

ALAN: Bless you.

DIGGLE: What?

ALAN: Nothing.

DIGGLE: Well, Alan. Are you ready to begin?

ALAN: (SHRUGS) Sure, I guess.

DIGGLE: That’s what we love to hear! Now, Alan. Your first question: how many marbles are in this mason jar?

DIGGLE REVEALS A LARGE JAR FULL OF MARBLES ON A TABLE BESIDE HIM.

Take your time. You’ve got three–

ALAN: (SMILES, SHAKES HEAD) No, no, no.

DIGGLE: Excuse me?

ALAN: There’s obviously more than three marbles in there.

DIGGLE LOOKS AT ALAN, TO THE JAR, BACK TO ALAN.

DIGGLE: Are you sure about that?

ALAN: (NODS) Very.

DIGGLE: Judges?

A NASTY BUZZER BUZZES.

DIGGLE: Oh! I’m so sorry, Mr. Smithee. Now, you are technically correct – there are indeed more than three marbles in this mason jar. However, our judges have determined that you are either cheating or some sort of witch. So, I’m afraid you know what that means.

ALAN: Yeah. Go ahead.

DIGGLE: Goodbye, Mr. Smithee.

ALAN: Can I tell my wife I love her?

DIGGLE: I’m sorry, but no.

ALAN: Oh, alright then. Goodbye.

DIGGLE: Don’t interrupt, Mr. Smithee.

ALAN: I’m sorry.

DIGGLE: That’s a good sport. Goodbye, Mr. Smithee.

DIGGLE THROWS A BIG SWITCH, ELECTROCUTES ALAN.

ALAN DROPS DEAD.

SILENCE. THEN…

DIGGLE POKES ALAN WITH A STICK, ALAN SMOLDERS UNRESPONSIVELY.

Yes, I think that did it…

DIGGLE NODS, GESTURES FOR…

FANFARE AND CANNED APPLAUSE.

(TO AUDIENCE) Well, that’s all we have for you tonight. Don’t bother tuning in next week, as we’ve likely committed several felonies during the production of tonight’s program. I’m Prisoner #8675309, and this has been “You’ve Wasted Your Life”! Goodbye!

Rocket Biologist

BLIFFEN SCRAGGMEISTERMAN minds his own farting business.

JEFFERNY BOWELSCRAPINGS enters.

JEFFERNY: Bliffen?

BLIFFEN: Yeah?

JEFFERNY: Got a minute?

Bliffen considers this, then checks his watch for an uncomfortable length of time.

BLIFFEN: No. Why?

JEFFERNY: I wanted to run some of my new bits by you before I hit up the open mic tonight.

BLIFFEN: The one at that dive bar in the bad part of town with all the skinheads, or the one at the perpetually empty pizza joint that smells like unwashed feet?

JEFFERNY: No, this one’s inside the unisex restroom at the cougar bar.

BLIFFEN: You’re not going to do more of that self-deprecating topical nonsense, are you?

JEFFERNY: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

BLIFFEN: You know damn well what I mean – “Have you read a newspaper?”; “What’s the deal with hair?”; “Did I mention my lackluster genitals and failed personality?”

An uncomfortable silence.

JEFFERNY: Do you want to hear it or not?

Another silence.

BLIFFEN: Come with me.

Bliffen leaves, Jefferny follows.

CUT TO:

Somewhere else. But this place has a full, possibly horse-sized SACK in it.

Bliffen and Jefferny enter.

JEFFERNY: What is this?

Bliffen hands Jefferny a stick.

BLIFFEN: Here.

JEFFERNY: What’s this for? Why is there a full, possibly horse-sized sack in here? Do you have a dead horse in there?

BLIFFEN: Don’t be ridiculous. Where would I even get a dead horse?

JEFFERNY: Then what is it?

BLIFFEN: Look. I’m not a rocket biologist. All I know is that we live in a perpetual Hell of endless news updates, instant gratification, and people’s need to masturbate in public about things they don’t even understand. (gestures) Also, I found him that way.

JEFFERNY: You could just say you don’t want to hear my bits.

BLIFFEN: Jefferny… If I didn’t want to hear your bits, I’d go down to the mic and ignore you to your face like everyone else.

JEFFERNY: Fair enough.

BLIFFEN: By the time any of us drives out to some show in an abandoned industrial park or a shiatsu laundromat that serves tree bark smoothies, millions have already pleasured themselves into a frothy rage over headlines to news stories they never read. They don’t have the energy to laugh at your reheated takes on cold, stale topics.

JEFFERNY: Uh-huh.

BLIFFEN: So, I came up with this. Whenever I feel the bubbling urge to excrete some pithy, yet witless thought on something topical, I come here and have at it for a bit. If I haven’t forgotten what I was going to say by the time I’m done, then I’ll go down to some dark, depressing place and tell a joke.

JEFFERNY: Does it work?

BLIFFEN: More so than my topical humor.

JEFFERNY: (shrugs) Worth a shot.

Jefferny hits the sack with the stick.

SACK: (pained grunt)

JEFFERNY: (yelp)

BLIFFEN: What?

JEFFERNY: It made a noise.

BLIFFEN: And?

JEFFERNY: I thought you said you didn’t have a dead horse in there.

BLIFFEN: He’s clearly not dead.

SACK: (grunts)

BLIFFEN: See?

JEFFERNY: How is this any better than topical humor?

BLIFFEN: It’s not. But at least this way I don’t have to go outside.

Cat Lingerie

MR. VICTIM sits on a park bench.

MR. VICTIM: You’re a little late, aren’t you?

MR. KILLER rises from behind the park bench, gun in hand.

MR. KILLER: Sorry. I got caught up in traffic.

MR. VICTIM: Uh-huh. Well. I suppose you’re here to kill me, then.

MR. KILLER: If that’s alright with you.

MR. VICTIM: I’d rather you didn’t, but I’m sure Mother has already paid you.

MR. KILLER: Actually, she talked me down to store credit.

MR. VICTIM: (scoffs) Typical. But that’s Mother for you. Can’t even be bothered to properly compensate her own son’s killer.

MR. KILLER: To be honest, I’m not even sure what I can do with two-hundred dollars in cat lingerie. I don’t even have a cat.

MR. VICTIM: Focus, please.

MR. KILLER: Right. Sorry.

Mr. Killer aims, pulls the trigger. The gun goes CLICK.

MR. KILLER: What the Hell?

MR. VICTIM: Something wrong?

Mr. Killer pulls the trigger again and again. No BANG-BANG, only CLICK-CLICK.

MR. VICTIM: You’re not very good at this, are you?

Mr. Killer inspects the gun.

MR. KILLER: This gun has no bullets.

MR. VICTIM: Pity.

MR. KILLER: Damn budget cuts.

An uncomfortable silence.

MR. VICTIM: Should I get going, then?

MR. KILLER: No, no. Give me a minute. I’ll figure something out.

MR. VICTIM: I’m sure you will.

Mr. Killer hands the gun to Mr. Victim.

MR. KILLER: Here. You do it.

MR. VICTIM: Do what?

MR. KILLER: Do it yourself.

MR. VICTIM: You want me to execute myself with an unloaded gun?

MR. KILLER: You could bludgeon yourself with it.

MR. VICTIM: Aside from that being a very stupid idea, why don’t you do it yourself?

MR. KILLER: Look. I don’t go around telling you how to do your job, so don’t go telling me how to do mine. Besides, I don’t get paid enough to work up a sweat.

MR. VICTIM: At this point, I’m wondering why they bother paying you at all.

MR. KILLER: I’m sorry?

MR. VICTIM: I mean, you’re hardly earning that two-hundred dollars of cat lingerie.

MR. KILLER: You know what? Forget it. I don’t have to take this.

MR. VICTIM: Mother won’t be happy about this.

MR. KILLER: What do you mean?

MR. THIRD-PARTY wanders in, gun in hand, misguided by his phone’s GPS.

VOICE: (phone) You have arrived at your destination.

MR. THIRD-PARTY: Mr. Killer?

MR. KILLER: You can’t be serious.

MR. THIRD-PARTY: Deadly, I’m afraid. Nothing personal, though. Strictly Business.

Mr. Third-Party aims at Mr. Killer, pulls the trigger. The gun goes CLICK.

MR. THIRD-PARTY: Son of a bitch…

Before the Fall

A war torn countryside. Homes and buildings reduced to smoldering rubble. People sick, dying, and generally unamused. Wholly unqualified doctors and priests stand about, pretending to look busy.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) The year is… I’m not sure. The place… Moronika, a once miserable place to live, now marginally worse on account of a bloody, costly, yet rather profitable war started for reasons no one can quite remember.

Slightly less sick and dying people, line-up by a cliffside. A COUNCILMAN sits behind a little table at the cliff edge. HUGO, an armed guard stands nearby.

And as the doctors tend to the dying and the priests pray for the dead, the living wait in line…

COUNCILMAN: Now serving number eleventy-seven.

MORONIKAN approaches.

MORONIKAN: Thank god! I thought I’d be stuck in this line forever.

COUNCILMAN: On behalf of the newly consolidated and collated Moronikan Monarchy Incorporated family, I do sincerely apologize for any wait. How may I assist you today?

MORONIKAN: (puzzles this) I’m not sure.

COUNCILMAN: Do you often stand in lines without rhyme, reason, or rhyme?

MORONIKAN: No. But a large, angry man covered in blood told a bunch of us to stand in this line.

 COUNCILMAN: Oh! So, Herman recommended you to us, then?

MORONIKAN: That’s right. I was standing in the bloody, smoldering rubble of what used to be my house and family–

COUNCILMAN: And now you’re in need of a new house and family?

MORONIKAN: That’s right. Some food would be nice, too.

COUNCILMAN: Of course. You might be a bit surprised to hear, but we’ve had a bit of a run on new houses, family, and food today.

MORONIKAN: Is that right?

COUNCILMAN: Oh, yes. It was a bit of a shock, but you know how it goes with these sorts of regime changes. All this death and destruction always motivates people to finally trade-in, move-up, sell-out, back-stab, and whatever other hyphenations they’ve put-off forever.

MORONIKAN: (nods) Of course.

Councilman hands Moronikan a pen and clipboard with several forms attached to it.

COUNCILMAN: Just fill this out for me real quick, and we’ll have you on your way.

Moronikan fills out, returns the forms.

MORONIKAN: There you go. I think I got it all right.

Councilman takes, looks over the forms.

COUNCILMAN: It does indeed. Now, if you’ll be so kind as to follow Hugo here to the edge of the cliff just over there, he’ll be happy to expedite the rest of your execution.

MORONIKAN: I’m sorry?

COUNCILMAN: Would you prefer self-checkout?

MORONIKAN: I’d rather not be executed.

Councilman double-checks the forms.

COUNCILMAN: But it says right here you voted in the last election.

MORONIKAN: Yes, but I don’t see why I should be executed for such a thing.

COUNCILMAN: Look. I’m sorry the system isn’t perfect, but it’s the only one we have.

MORONIKAN: Oh, sure. That might be all fine and good for you, Hugo, and the Moronikan board of executives–

COUNCILMAN: It really is.

MORONIKAN: Right. Well. Isn’t there any recourse for your average Moron?

COUNCILMAN: (considers this) Would you like a big, heavy rock to speed things up?

MORONIKAN: Will it cushion my fall?

COUNCILMAN: Would it help if I lied?

MORONIKAN: No.

COUNCILMAN: Exactly. Hugo?

Hugo escorts, casually throws Moronikan off the cliff.

(to Hugo) Thank you so much, Hugo. (to line) Now serving number eleventy-eight!

No Checks Accepted

CUSTOMER buys a pack of gum.

CLERK: Would you like a bag for this?

CUSTOMER: I’m sorry?

CLERK: I certainly hope you are. Though I’m afraid I must inform you that your apologies do little to undo the catastrophic damage your selfish, pleasurebatory mash-up of laziness and mindless consumption has inflicted upon both the Earth and my own fragile ego.

CUSTOMER: (puzzles this) No, no. I mean, why would I want a bag for a pack of gum?

CLERK: You look the type.

CUSTOMER: (considers this) Fair enough.

CLERK: Do you have a rewards card with us?

CUSTOMER: I don’t know.

CLERK: You don’t know?

CUSTOMER: Well, I certainly don’t remember.

CLERK: You don’t remember taking the time to slowly write down or loudly shout your deeply personal, highly valuable information at this very public counter while I or one of my many interchangeable, easily replaceable coworkers repeated it back to you for all to hear?

CUSTOMER: Can’t say that I do.

CLERK: Do you often sign over personal information and data to businesses without taking into consideration the immediate or long-running ramifications of your actions?

CUSTOMER: I suppose when you put it that way, it does sound rather troubling.

CLERK: No trouble at all. If you’d like to regurgitate such information for me right now, I’d be happy to sign you up and save you five-percent on your purchase today.

CUSTOMER: What’s five-percent of a pack of gum these days?

CLERK: Sir and/or Madam, if I knew the truth of such elusive mysteries, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

CUSTOMER: Look. I’m only buying this so I can get some change for my laundry. So can we just get on with it?

MANAGER joins Clerk at the register.

MANAGER: Is there a problem?

CUSTOMER: Yes, I think–

MANAGER: You’re not sure? (to CLERK) Is it always this unsure of things concerning you?

CLERK: (shrugs) They don’t have a rewards account with us.

CUSTOMER: What sort of data are you even collecting?

Manager waves a hand at this.

MANAGER: Nothing you’ll ever miss. Now. Would you like to give us your personal information and data for the sake of saving… (eyes the gum) six-and-seven-eighths cents or so today?

CUSTOMER: Six-and-seven-eighths cents?

MANAGER: (to CLERK) Oh, look. I love it when they get excited like this.

CUSTOMER: You know what? Forget it. Keep the gum.

MANAGER: Sir, you’ve given me little recourse.

CUSTOMER: I’m sorry?

MANAGER: I’m afraid it’s far too late for apologies.

Manager takes Clerk hostage with a spray bottle.

Give me your information and save six-and-seven-eighths cents on your purchase today, or the human capital stock gets it.

CUSTOMER: (considers this) Goodbye.

Customer leaves.

CLERK: (to AUDIENCE) (shakes head) Heartless bastard.

THE END

Marriage License

HUSBAND clips his nails from atop his toilet, pants around one ankle. WIFE calls from somewhere beyond the door.

WIFE: (off-stage) Sweetie?

HUSBAND: Yes?

WIFE: You’re not a secret agent, are you?

HUSBAND: Not to my knowledge, Dear.

WIFE: But if you were, you’d tell me, right?

HUSBAND: Of course, Dear. Why do you ask?

WIFE: Well…

Wife enters walking with a large case filled with an assortment of tactical gear, weapons, ammunition, blueprints for a “RAY” of one sort or another, and multiple forms of identification for multiple identities.

I was looking for a marriage license in the garage, but all I found was this old junk.

He looks at this, then to her. 

HUSBAND: Must be Bill’s.

She also looks at this, but then to him.

WIFE: These are Bill’s?

HUSBAND: (considers this) Fairly certain.

WIFE: These are Bill’s guns, turtlenecks, night vision goggles, and fake passports?

HUSBAND: The night vision goggles might be mine.

WIFE: (pouts) Are you sure you’re not a secret agent?

HUSBAND: (laughs) I think I’d remember signing up for something like that.

She picks up a passport from a small box of passports clearly marked, POTENTIAL FUTURE IDENTITIES. 

WIFE: Is this my identity? Were you planning on stealing my identity?

HUSBAND: (sighs) Honey, I’m disappointed in you.

WIFE: What?

HUSBAND: You went and spoiled your birthday present!

WIFE: My birthday present?

HUSBAND: Yes?

WIFE: Why would I want you to steal my identity for my birthday?

HUSBAND: Remember how you’ve been going on and on about how you wish you could just disappear, just run away and never look back and nobody would ever even know you were going?

WIFE: No.

HUSBAND: Well… It was supposed to be a surprise.

WIFE: (nods) I suppose that makes sense.

HUSBAND: Thank you.

WIFE: Are you sure you’re not a secret agent?

HUSBAND: Pretty sure.

WIFE: Well, okay.

She gathered up all the secret agent-like gear back into its box, and left.

I suppose I’ll call Bill and ask him to pick up his things.

He returns to clipping his nails, then…

HUSBAND: Don’t let him take my night vision goggles!

Another woman’s (WIFE #2) voice calls from beyond the door.

WIFE #2: (off-stage) What night vision goggles?

A completely different woman steps into the bathroom…

HUSBAND: Honey?

…and she sees him on the toilet, averts her eyes with an audible hiss.

WIFE #2: Why?!

HUSBAND: What?

She growls, points to the man atop the toilet with his pants wrapped around the ankle attached to the foot attached to the toe from which grew the nail he was currently stretching to clip.

WIFE #2: “Why” that!

HUSBAND: I’m clipping my nails. Why are you acting so weird? You were just in here.

WIFE #2: What? No, I just got home. I’ve been at my sister’s all week.

He looks at her, then to the door.

HUSBAND: Son of a bitch.

That Wasn’t Even Sexy

HOST: (voice-over) Good evening. Tonight’s piece, “Calvin Carson’s Cavalcade of Cars, Cards, and Cardigans,” has fortunately been misplaced on account of gratuitous sex, violence, and pedantry. In its place, we dispassionately offer a mostly flaccid, partly turgid bit of tale titled, “That Wasn’t Even Sexy,” already unpackaged, reheated, and ready for you to do with as you please.

Oh. And please note: the safeword is, “mukluks.”

And now, the bit…

A phone RINGS, and SOMEONE accidentally answers when they actually meant to ignore it.

SOMEONE: Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

SOMEONE: Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

SOMEONE: Hi.

CALLER: Oh, good. You’re not a complete idiot.

SOMEONE: Surprises await us both, I suppose.

CALLER: Truer words have been spoken. May I speak with Throbbing Fistwood, please?

SOMEONE: No.

CALLER: No?

SOMEONE: Did I say, “No”?

CALLER: Yes.

SOMEONE: Oh. Because I meant to say, “Yes.”

CALLER: So, I may speak with Throbbing Fistwood, then?

SOMEONE: Perhaps.

CALLER: I’m sorry. I must have bludgeoned myself to death on my faux hardwood floor, because I appear to be in Hell.

SOMEONE: Would you like to call back another time?

CALLER: May I speak with Throbbing Fistwood then?

SOMEONE: No.

CALLER: Then, for God’s sake, why would I call back later?

SOMEONE: I was wondering that myself.

CALLER: I swear, this is the number the young lady gave me when I inquired with her about Throbbing Fistwood. Are you sure this isn’t Throbbing Fistwood?

SOMEONE: Fairly certain.

CALLER: I’m sorry if I’ve wasted your time.

SOMEONE: It doesn’t have to be a total waste, does it?

CALLER: How so?

SOMEONE: I mean, you’ll have to give me a moment, but I may be able to help.

CALLER: You can help locate Throbbing Fistwood?

SOMEONE: Well. At my age, you never can be too sure without a bit of assistance, if you will.

CALLER: No. No, thank you. I’m afraid I’m a bit tight on time at the moment. Perhaps I’ll try calling back later.

SOMEONE: Wonderful.

CALLER: Who should I ask for?

SOMEONE: Dick Squat-thrust.

CALLER: Got it, Dick. May I call you “Dick”?

SOMEONE: I certainly hope so.”

CALLER: Thank you.

SOMEONE: Goodbye.

CALLER: Goodbye.

They hang up.

Terry, Please Shut Up

A living room. TERRY screams and bleeds out all over the carpeted floor as PAULENCE and JENNDA bicker.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Aside from the bloodthirsty, flesh-craving ghouls now eager to force their way into their home, it had been an otherwise boring Sunday night until just a few moments ago.

Jennda preoccupied herself for most of the day by arguing with strangers on the internet about the racist connotations of ordering a burrito platter from a burger joint owned by a sweet Korean couple.

Paulence, meanwhile, once more pleasured himself with a flaccid attempt at something resembling a novel, which mostly amounted to several social media posts about writing his novel rather than actually writing any of it.

But it wasn’t until they got around to arguing about what to order out for dinner that they finally noticed their neighbor, Terry, had broken into their home, barricaded their door, and taken to dying and bleeding profusely all over their carpet.

JENNDA: Terry! You know we just had the carpet cleaned last summer!”

TERRY: (coughs blood and viscera) Sorry. I forgot.

PAULENCE: I hope you plan on paying for another cleaning.

TERRY: Actually. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.

Jennda claps her feet and laughs.

JENNDA: You hear that? He wants to talk about it!

PAULENCE: I’m sorry, Terry. But you’re bleeding all over our carpet. I really hope you don’t think you can convince us to pay for your mess.

Terry waves what used to be his hand at this, blood splattering all over the place.

TERRY: I wouldn’t dream of it. No, I wanted to warn you about all the zombies.

Paulence looks out at the ZOMBIE HORDE looking in from the living room window.

PAULENCE: Is that what those are?

JENNDA: I thought it was the Mormons again.

TERRY: It’s zombies, I’m afraid.

JENNDA: How can this night get any worse?

TERRY: I think I’m dying.

PAULENCE: Don’t be stupid, you stupid, stupid man. You’re not dying.

TERRY: I’m not?

PAULENCE: Of course not!

TERRY: That’s a relief.

PAULENCE: No, you’re slowly turning into one of the undead.

TERRY: I think maybe I’d rather die, if it’s all the same to you.

JENNDA: All the same? (spits, then spits a second time on Terry) We respect the sanctity of life in this house, Terry.

PAULENCE: That’s right. We won’t kill you until you’re already good and dead.

TERRY: Undead.

JENNDA: For God’s sake, shuttup, Terry. (spits again)

TERRY: Sorry.

PAULENCE: You ought to be after suggesting such an awful thing. There’s no need for such needless suffering and violence.

TERRY: I’m suffering rather bad, to be honest.

PAULENCE: Perhaps. But have you even stopped to think about how much worse Jennda and I would feel if we were forced to help you suicide yourself?

TERRY: I’m sorry, guys. It won’t happen again, I swear.

PAULENCE: I should hope not.

Jennda notices she’s being bitten by a zombified MRS. CERVIX from across the hall.

JENNDA: Uh-oh.

PAULENCE: (annoyed grunt) I’ll go get the gun.

TERRY: Wait. Why does she get to be mercifully put down?

JENNDA: My body, my choice.

PAULENCE: First you bleed all over our carpets, and now you act like a misogynistic ass to my wife as she needlessly suffers a fate worse than death? You really are a selfish bastard, Terry.

JENNDA: No wonder your wife left you.

TERRY: She didn’t leave me – she was the one who bit me.

JENNDA: And where is she now?

TERRY: How should I know? She’s a zombie.

JENNDA: (scoffs) A woman liberates herself from an abusive, ignorant piece of shit like you, and the only thing you can be assed to do is start with the name-calling!

PAULENCE: (firm, but polite) I really think it’s time you left, Terry. (beat) Terry? Terry, are you listening to me?

Terry lies unresponsively dead on the floor.

JENNDA: I think he’s dead for the moment.

PAULENCE: Better go get the gun, then.

There Goes My Nipples Again

A parking lot.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) In a parking lot a short drive away…

An oddly dressed, but rather FASHIONABLE WOMAN struts out of a shop and across the parking lot.

…a woman wearing very little strutted across the parking lot…

A very stupid man, CUSTOMER, sulks in the opposite direction, notices the woman.

…and a very stupid man walked into a closed door.

The very stupid, now childishly distracted Customer blindly, but very painfully walks into a closed door.

The door belonged to a charmingly inconvenient boutique located in a rather busy corner of a fictional town I’ve made up just now. It was the sort of place with people to eat, things to regret, and, I suppose, whatever else one might think to bother with in an otherwise unimportant backdrop.

The man, meanwhile, belonged to – and was wanted by – nobody in particular, which, coincidentally, was the reason he was here in the first place.

A charming young business woman, SHOP OWNER, sticks her head out the door, looks at Customer in that way that seductively whispers, “I wonder if he’ll spend any money here.”

OWNER: Sir?

CUSTOMER: (mildly concussed) Women… (confused, concussed grumbling)

OWNER: Sir, far be it from me to question any man’s right to drink himself stupid in the middle of the day. But if you’re going to do that sort of thing, I suggest you do so somewhere more appropriate, like a public library or a city council meeting.

CUSTOMER: (slightly less concussed) I was told that I could find a woman here.

OWNER: I suppose you’re technically correct. But I’m not sure why you felt the need to bring my door into this.

CUSTOMER: Is this “Bottom of the Barrel, We Get Paid, So You Get Laid?”

OWNER: You’ve seen our ad.

CUSTOMER: A friend of mine referred me. He suggested I come here to help with my…

OWNER: With your…?

CUSTOMER: Romance problem.

OWNER: Well, I’m not sure what you were told, but I’m afraid my door simply isn’t interested.

CUSTOMER: This is ridiculous.

OWNER: I agree. (holding the door open) Would you like to come inside and perhaps spend some money, then?

CUSTOMER cautiously enters the shop.

OWNER: Tell me a bit about yourself, Mr…

CUSTOMER: Customer.

OWNER: I’m sorry?

CUSTOMER: Customer. My name is Customer.

OWNER: Bit odd, isn’t it?

CUSTOMER: It’s the best I could come up with.

OWNER: (nodding) I’m sure it was, Mr. Customer. Now. Let me know how I can do so, and I’ll be absolutely frothy to rid you of some, most, or all of your money.

CUSTOMER: I want a woman.

OWNER: I think you simpleton’d something about that, yes. But what sort of woman are interested in?

CUSTOMER:  Oh, you know the sort. Kind, loving…

OWNER: Smart and beautiful?

CUSTOMER: If it’s not too much trouble.

OWNER: Not at all. Quite a common request. Any particular aesthetic, make, or model?

CUSTOMER: No, no. I’ll take whatever I can get. Just someone who loves me, is all.

OWNER: But also smart, kind…

CUSTOMER: And beautiful, yes.

OWNER: Of course. Anything else?

CUSTOMER: It’d be nice if she enjoyed the things I do, maybe understood me better.

OWNER: I think I understand.

CUSTOMER: Well, do you have one?

OWNER: One what?

CUSTOMER: A woman. I came here for a woman.

OWNER: Mr. Customer, what we offer at “Bottom of the Barrel, We Get Paid, So You Get Laid” is completely customizable companion design and printing of made-to-order, honey-glazed, hand-crafted artisanal friends, lovers, and assorted sexual playthings.

CUSTOMER: You mean, you don’t have any just laying around.

OWNER: Sir, again, if that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for, then I suggest you get into politics.

CUSTOMER: No, no. I mean, you don’t have any off-the-shelf, over-the-counter women in stock?

OWNER: Custom orders only, I’m afraid

CUSTOMER: Shame.

OWNER: Yes, but I assure you our services are second to none.

CUSTOMER: Well if you have no women in stock, what could you possibly offer?

OWNER: Options, Sir. Options.

She rises with a click of her heels and a wave of her hand.

The walls flicker to life with images of women of all shapes, sizes, looks, and attires.

You see, we’ve long discovered that while men such as yourself claim they’re looking for a smart, beautiful, funny, beautifully smart, and funnily beautiful romantic partner, what you’re actually looking for is a fictional surrogate to fill some contrived role in an utterly warped narrative of a poorly written love story that only exists in your head. Whether it’s the strong, independent femme fatale, the diminutive and submissive doll, or perhaps even a flirtatious lesbian whom only you can somehow magically convert into a heterosexual lifemate and plaything. Whatever outlandish concept of a woman you can fathom, we can fabricate.

CUSTOMER: This is insane.

OWNER: I’m sorry, Mr. Customer. I didn’t mean to offend.

CUSTOMER: No, no. I’m not offended. No, that was an impressively accurate guess.

OWNER: We aim to please.

CUSTOMER: This all sounds a little too good to be true. How can you possibly have such a roster of willing women simply waiting to tend to the imaginative whims of a lonely man?

OWNER: I’m afraid I’m failing you, Mr. Customer. Perhaps a demonstration.

CUSTOMER: Is there a charge?

OWNER: Not at all. This is a free sample guaranteed to wash out with little more than soap and water.

CUSTOMER: I don’t follow.

OWNER: Well then, please do!

Owner directs Customer to a large glass and metal pod. In the pod is nothing but a chair with a towel on it.

In just a few moments, you’ll perfectly understand what I mean.

Customer enters the pod, sits in the chair.

CUSTOMER: What’s the towel for?

OWNER: It helps us minimize the cleanup.

CUSTOMER: Cleanup?

Owner waves her other hand in a different way and the pod door closes.

Two-and-a-half minutes on high and one adorable little DING of a bell later, and the door opens again.

OWNER: Well, what do you think? We call this one the “Manic-Pixie Dream Girl.” It’s very popular.

Customer steps out of the pod in a cloud of gas known to the state of California to possibly cause some kind of cancer, seizes on what he sees in the mirror – only now TRANSFORMED into a young woman ripped right out of some terrible romantic comedy.

A pleasant little tune plays over the PA system. A disembodied, wholly male VOICE provides commentary seemingly ripped right out of some terrible novel.

VOICE: (PA system) She was a breastuous bit of leggy sex dipped in the sticky, erotic honey of a needy man’s dream.

CUSTOMER: What the hell?

VOICE: (PA system) She played with her luxuriously unkempt hair, hastily tied up in a ponytail, and squeezed at the massive udders bolted to her chest, which were seemingly hoisted up by a series of cables and pulleys until they burst forth from her modest, low-cut, crease and crevice-hugging dress. All skewed slightly because of a pair of glasses now in her face.

Customer uncomfortably jiggles and bounces in frustration.

CUSTOMER: What the Hell have you done to me?

OWNER: Do you know how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly?

CUSTOMER: What? No. Not at all.

OWNER: Well. It’s a lot like that, but not.

CUSTOMER: I mean, why have you made me a woman? I came here for a woman, not to be turned into one!

OWNER: Did you, Sir?

CUSTOMER: I’m sorry?

OWNER: Are you sure that’s what you came here for?

CUSTOMER: Concussion aside, I’m fairly certain that’s what I eventually said, yes.

OWNER: If you were referred to us, then I’m sorry to say that your ideal woman likely doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make one who does.

Customer silently screams.

OWNER: (sighing) Women are more than a collection of traits to be picked and plucked and thrown together like some macabre masturbatory stew, Mr. Customer. Some might even consider them people, with internal lives of their own and everything.

CUSTOMER: Isn’t that last bit true?

OWNER: How should I know? I started this business so I didn’t have to bother with all that nonsense.

CUSTOMER: What, you don’t mean…

OWNER: That I devised a way to take myself and any other man, put them into a metal pod, convert their physical body into an amorphous blob of malleable genetic material, and then reconstitute such a blob back into an ideal female physical specimen to suit their explicit, implicit, and exhibitionist desires, and all while keeping their male brains and identity full intact? Yes, that’s more or less the gist of it.

CUSTOMER: Huh.

OWNER: I’ll admit, it does seem like a long walk just to avoid having to compromise my unrealistic expectations for the sake of emotionally bonding with another living soul.

CUSTOMER: Any complaints?

OWNER: Not really, no. The men seem perfectly content with their new toys. And the women are happy to be rid of all the creepy little gremlins lurking about their ankles, waiting to catch a glimpse of something she never intended to show them in the first place.

CUSTOMER: Well as much as I do love these fantastic breasts, I can’t help but feel this might be a little wrong.

OWNER: Of course it’s wrong, Mr. Customer. There are those who spend their entire lives struggling to better themselves for the sake of finding love, or to become the woman they always knew they were on the inside. But here you and I are, men who have crafted a facade – a sexual fiction and image that exists solely to placate our uncouth, uninhibited animal urges at the expense of any tattered shred of respect for women.

CUSTOMER: Sounds like this might upset a lot of women.

OWNER: Quite a few actually. But if any of my clients had the first clue about women, or what they thought about or felt, they wouldn’t come to me, now would they?

CUSTOMER: Well, when you put it that way…

OWNER: I did.

CUSTOMER: Right. Well. I guess a test drive couldn’t hurt.

OWNER: Wonderful! Would you like to wear this one out, then?

CUSTOMER: Actually. Do you have anything in a “bisexual open to a threesome?”

A Matter of Eighty Dollars

DOUGLBY D. DOUGLBY III sits at his desk, typing away at a typing machine of some sort. HOST narrates nearby, seen and heard but begrudgingly ignored.

HOST: In an apartment in a town in a corner of some place you’ve never been to, there is a man – Douglby D. Douglby III. Not a smart man, nor a good man, but the sort of man who finds his niche as a shift lead at a used erotic bookstore and rots there in his own mess.

Douglby stops typing, deeply wounded.

DOUGLBY: Ouch.

HOST: Shut up. You know it’s true.

Douglby considers, shrugs in agreement, continues typing.

Anyway. In a moment, this woefully depressing and stupidly named man will fulfill his life’s dream. Shortly after, the world as he knows it will cease to be, rendering all his effort as pointless as the rest of his brief existence.

Douglby stops typing, exhausted, excited, and fartingly impressed with himself.

DOUGLBY: I’ve done it! After all these years, I’ve actually, truly, and no-kiddingly finished it – my first novel!

KNOCKING at the door.

Oh. That must be an agent ready to buy my book.

Douglby answers the door. DAVE stands there, waiting.

DAVE: Douglby D. Douglby III?

DOUGLBY: That’s a good guess. Are you here to give me money for the novel I’ve just finished?

DAVE: You mean… (overdramatic) Randall Fartdragon and the Stones of Manliness?

DOUGLBY: So you *have* heard of it.

DAVE: Oh, I’ve more than heard of Randall Fartdragon and the Stones of Manliness, Mr. Douglby…

Dave enters, uninvited. He makes his way to the desk, and takes, reads Douglby’s finished pages.

…I wrote it fifteen years ago.

DOUGLBY: Fifteen years ago? I’m sorry, Mister…?

DAVE: Dave Daveson, original creator, author and owner of not only Randall Fartdragon, but the entire Liquid Dreams franchise.

DOUGLBY: My apologies Mr. Liar, but are you accusing me of plagiarizing the work of someone I haven’t even slept with?

DAVE: No, my supple Mr. Douglby. Nothing quite so extravagant.

DOUGLBY: Good. But you are here to give me money?

DAVE: No, I’m afraid not, Mr. Douglby. I’m here to verify the results of the simulation.

DOUGLBY: Simulation?

DAVE: That’s right. And I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I didn’t think you’d actually succeed. I mean, it certainly took you long enough. But here it is, word for word. I’d be absolutely impressed if I weren’t so utterly pissed off.

DOUGLBY: I’m sorry?

DAVE: No need for apologies, Mr. Douglby. It was all part of the plan, afterall.

Daves tosses the pages.

DOUGLBY: There you go again. What does this nonsense about plans and simulations have to do with my book?

DAVE: Well. If you must know, Mr. Douglby, a critic of mine, a Mr. Fakename, had the nerve to say my work was so inspidly simple and simply insipid that even a depressingly talentless, witless, and wholly useless moron could manage to replicate it if given enough time.

DOUGLBY: Uh-huh.

DAVE: So, just to prove him wrong, I paid my neighbor – a nice boy by the name of Kennethon – twenty dollars to construct this simulation in which a man – you, Mr. Douglby – would toil one painful day after the next, drowning in self-doubt and shame until, at last, you’ve served your purpose.

DOUGLBY: Sounds like a lot of work for twenty dollars.

DAVE: Yes. But he assured me it was easier than mowing lawns.

DOUGLBY: You mean my entire existence is a fabricated fiction – crafted by you – programmed by a child – and all for the sake of validating your existence in the face of criticism that likely had little-to-no adverse impact on the course of your career whatsoever?

DAVE: That’s right.

DOUGLBY: Makes sense.

DAVE: I must admit, you’re taking all of this rather well.

DOUGLBY: One thing’s as good as another. Good to have a purpose in life, you know. Bit of comfort in the face of unblinking eternity.

DAVE: Yes, and speaking of “unblinking eternity” – it’s time I get going.

DOUGLBY: Of course. But, what’s next?

DAVE: Next?

DOUGLBY: Yeah, for the simulation. Now that I’ve fulfilled our purpose.

DAVE: I hadn’t thought about that. Turn it off, I would think.

DOUGLBY: Turn it off? 

DAVE: You can’t possibly expect me to continue paying for all this, can you? You’ve just cost me eighty dollars.

DOUGLBY: I thought you said twenty.

DAVE: For Kenny’s work, yes. But now I’ve also lost a bet with Mr. Fakename, and that’s another sixty.

DOUGLBY: I don’t think I like being a simulation.

DAVE: Perhaps you should have thought about that before you stole my work, hm?

Dave calls out to someone beyond the doorway.

Kenny, you can turn it off! We’re done here!

Dave leaves.

HOST: Douglby D. Douglby III – author, seller of used erotica, and fictitious being doomed to an existence in another man’s story. A life not well lived, and one that’s also proven to be… (dramatic pause) a complete waste of time.