The Waiting Game, Or Out of Line

AN APARTMENT. STEVE, LOOKING AS IF HE’S BEEN BEATEN WITH SOME SORT OF BEATING ROD, STARES AT THE FRONT DOOR.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) When we last left Steve, the reclusive man made of dust and despair had been specifically instructed by his wife to leave their apartment for a little sun and a lot of de-mold-ification. But when he finally relented, Steve quickly discovered that while he could look outside his apartment, any attempt to cross the threshold somehow sent him stepping right back into it. Of course, when his wife returned…

WIFE ENTERS, LOVINGLY HOLDS BEATING ROD.

…she proved herself a woman of her very violent word. For his failing, Steve was beaten mercifully out of sight of an audience and left to think about why he was so comfortable smelling like a petulant chihuahua.

STEVE: (TO AUDIENCE) It could be worse, the dog could smell like me.

WIFE NODS.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) After a good night’s rest for his wife, Steve woke the next morning and hadn’t stopped staring at their front door. His wife, meanwhile, stood there wondering why her husband wouldn’t get out of her way.

WIFE: Are you going to stand there all day, or what?

STEVE: Sorry.

STEVE STEPS ASIDE, OPENS DOOR.

WIFE: (WAGS BEATING STICK) You better leave the apartment today. I don’t care how long you’re out, but at least roll around in some dirt or something to mask that awful smell. People are starting to wonder if there’s a corpse rotting away in here.

STEVE: Did anyone else ask about all the pained screaming or sound of a beating rod cracking against bone?

WIFE: Oddly enough, no.

WIFE STEPS INTO THE HALL.

Oh, and I’ll be a little late tonight. I’ve got to take the beating rod in for repairs. I think I bent it on your clavicle last night. (WAVES) Love you!

SHE TURNS, LEAVES.

STEVE CLOSES DOOR.

STEVE: Finally, this plot can get moving.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Indeed! Because only a moment after he’d closed the door, Steve heard a blood-chilling scream come from beyond it!

STEVE: What? No, I didn’t.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Odd, there was supposed to be–

WIFE SCREAMS A BLOOD-CHILLING SCREAM FROM SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE DOOR.

Ah! There it is!

STEVE: That certainly was a blood-chilling scream.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) After wondering whether or not he really wanted to involve himself in someone else’s business, Steve eventually opened the door.

STEVE: (POUTS) Ugh… Fine.

STEVE RELUCTANTLY OPENS THE DOOR.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) But all he found out there was a rather large, but pleasant man covered in blood and viscera.

MELVIN: (WAVES) Hello.

STEVE: Who are you?

MELVIN: I’m Melvin.

STEVE: Hi, Melvin. Did you happen to hear someone scream a blood-chilling scream out here?

MELVIN: When?

STEVE: Just now.

MELVIN: (LISTENS) I don’t hear anything.

STEVE: No, not “right now.” More like “right now, but really a moment ago.”

MELVIN: Oh! Then, yes. I do recall hearing someone scream a blood-chilling scream. Why do you ask?

STEVE: Mostly to keep this show moving along.

MELVIN: Fair enough.

STEVE: Did you also happen to see my wife leave?

MELVIN: Is your wife the lovely woman who stepped out of that apartment of yours?

STEVE: That’s right.

MELVIN: I was afraid of that.

STEVE: What do you mean?

MELVIN: I have a bit of a confession to make.

STEVE: Go on.

MELVIN: I killed your wife. Tore her to pieces, drank her blood. That sort of thing.

STEVE: I thought that might be the case. Any particular reason why?

MELVIN: (SHRUGS) I’m not sure. But I’ve been killing anyone who stepped out of their apartment for as long as I can remember.

STEVE: And how long is that?

MELVIN: (CONSIDERS THIS) Huh. I don’t remember.

STEVE: Fascinating. Well, if you did kill my wife, where’s her body?

MELVIN: Oh, Perry the Corpse Recycler comes along and cleans up after I’m done.

STEVE: Of course.

MELVIN: Perry’s been an absolute life saver. I don’t know how I’d manage to violently dismember every damned soul that made the mistake of leaving their apartment and properly dispose of all the bodies.

RORY STEPS OUT OF THEIR APARTMENT.

RORY: Hey, what’s going on here? Who’s the guy covered in all that blood and viscera?

MELVIN: (TO STEVE) Sorry, I’ve got to get back to work.

STEVE: (LOOKS TO RORY, BACK TO MELVIN) Right. Have at it.

MELVIN APPROACHES RORY.

MELVIN: Hi, Rory. Off to the store again?

RORY: That’s right. Do I know you?

MELVIN: Oh, you’ll remember soon enough.

STEVE CLOSES THE DOOR.

STEVE: Nice guy.

RORY SCREAMS A BLOOD-CHILLING SCREAM FROM SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE DOOR.

STEVE: But I wonder what Melvin meant by all that “damned soul” business. (SHRUGS) I’m sure it’s nothing.

MELVIN: (OFF) Thank you, Perry!

STEVE: Well, I suppose there’s no sense in stretching this premise any thinner.

STEVE OPENS DOOR, STEPS OUT.

STEVE: Hey, Melvin!

STEVE CLOSES DOOR.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) But if he had waited a moment longer, perhaps Steve wouldn’t have been so bored as to willingly throw himself into the waiting, blood- and viscera-soaked arms of a large man named Melvin. Because just a brief moment after Steve stepped out, but also a brief moment before he was torn in twain by Melvin, Steve’s wife returned home in one piece.

DOOR OPENS, WIFE ENTERS.

WIFE: Steve? Are you home? I forgot my…

STEVE SCREAMS A BLOOD CHILLING SCREAM.

WIFE: Huh. I can’t believe he actually went outside.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Be sure to avoid our next meh-tacular episode: “I’m Allergic to Selfish, Or Bucket of Artificial Crabs!”

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…

Tickson Flea Market

A FLEA MARKET. ROBERT, CLOAKED IN ODD RAGS, SKULKS ABOUT THEIR BOOTH OF ASSORTED, YET UTTERLY UNSORTED, SORDID KNICKKNACKS.

ROBERT: (TO AUDIENCE) Hello, I’m Robert, the humble proprietor of this booth, located far too close to the dank closets they call restrooms here at the Tickson Flea Market. I offer to you an assortment of unsorted, yet sordid stories, a litany of lessons learned much too late, a plethora of pain and suffering, and a menagerie of morbid miscellaneous. But I must warn you, there are no refunds or exchanges.

A CUSTOMER ENTERS, PICKS UP SOMETHING FROM THE VARIOUS PILES.

CUSTOMER: How much is this?

ROBERT: Five dollars.

CUSTOMER: I’ll give you a buck for it.

A PAUSE.

ROBERT: Fine.

CUSTOMER: Cool.

CUSTOMER HANDS ROBERT A DOLLAR, EXITS.

ROBERT: (SHAKES HEAD) He’s really going to regret that when his genitals fall off. (TO AUDIENCE) As I was saying… Every item here is cursed by dark spirits, plagued by poltergeists…

CUSTOMER #2 ENTERS.

…varying moral quandaries, ethical whatevers, uncomfortable twists of fortune and nipple alike, and the occasional act of vengeance from beyond the grave. Nasty stuff, really.

CUSTOMER #2 HOLDS UP A VHS CASSETTE.

CUSTOMER #2: Excuse me.

ROBERT: Yes?

CUSTEROM #2: How much for the signed VHS copy of Masters of the Universe featuring Dolph Lundgren?

ROBERT: Fifty bucks, and your body will wither away with every passing moment until, by the time the credits roll, you’re only dust and bits of bone.

CUSTOMER #2: (CONSIDERS THIS) How do I know this is actually Frank Langella’s autograph?

ROBERT: Forty bucks.

CUSTOMER #2: I think I saw it going for thirty online.

ROBERT SNATCHES THE VHS COPY OF MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE FROM CUSTOMER #2’s HANDS.

ROBERT: Then you are welcome to get the hell out of my booth and make your unholy pact with the devil that is Ebay.

CUSTOMER #2 SHRUGS, LEAVES.

(TO AUDIENCE) Some people have no respect for the sanctity of the flea market. I have to make a living too, ya know. It’s not easy selling cursed items and harsh life lessons for reasonable prices. Not in this economy. In fact, just the other–

CUSTOMER #3 ENTERS.

CUSTOMER #3: I’m sorry, but can you point me to the restroom?

ROBERT: (GESTURES) Back the way you came, make a right at John’s Used Car Seats and Hair Products, and it’ll be there on your left. You’ll know it when you smell it.

CUSTOMER #3: Thank you.

CUSTOMER #3 EXITS.

ROBERT: (TO AUDIENCE) He wouldn’t thank me if he knew what it looked like in there.

The Council for the Disbursement of Pretty Bad News

A SPACE-STAGE WITH A SPACE-PODIUM AND A SPACE-MEDIA CIRCUS.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) The bad news is that the end of the world was announced sometime last Friday.

The good news, however, is that the Libertonian Council for the Disbursement of Pretty Bad News somehow booked intergalactic sexual healer and fashionista, G’lp the Turgid One, to deliver the bad news.

G’LP, A SPACE-PERSON, ENTERS, TAKES THE SPACE-PODIUM.

G’LP: Citizens of Earth. We regret to inform you that we have been informed that you have violated the terms of your lease. As per your agreement, you have thirty days to vacate the premises, at the end of which, any persons or belongings will be skinned alive, then hurled into the sun.

That said. We are aware of humanity’s hilariously limited ability to evacuate the planet in a timely manner.

So. In the spirit of appealing to our public image, we are offering two cages in the Earth Memorial Exhibit of the Schlemiel and Schlimazel Space-Safari Experience.

To enter for a chance to win, simply be one of the last two humans left alive at the end of your thirty-day eviction period. And if a winner cannot be decided by the end of your thirty-day eviction period, we will simply skin all of you alive, then hurl you into the sun anyway.

Thank you. And remember to have fun out there.

CUT TO:

A SMALL SHED CONVERTED INTO A CRAMPED OFFICE. JOHN JABOLONKSI SITS AT A TYPEWRITER AND A MICROPHONE, MAKES USE OF NEITHER.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) The announcement itself was broadcast across every major television network, radio station, and wi-fi enabled toaster and lotion dispenser on Earth.

Unfortunately, John Jablonksi, amateur professional and part-time amatuer…

JOHN: (WAVES TO AUDIENCE) Hello.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) …never heard this, as he was, at the time, pretending to work on his podcast in the half-converted storage shed he called his office.

JOHN: (TO AUDIENCE) Ignorance really is bliss.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Fortunately, his wife, Jillian Jablonski, did.

CUT TO:

A BATHROOM. JILLIAN JABLONSKI SITS ON THE TOILET, PHONE IN HAND, HEADPHONES ON HEAD, AND EYES SEIZED ON AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Jillian, as it turns out, happened to be sitting on the toilet, listening to a podcast about the mating rituals of serial killers or something, when a voice on her electric toothbrush told her it was the end of the world.

And as G’lp the Turgid One’s impressively heartless, yet utterly tactless speech played on an inexplicably commercial-laden loop, a million thoughts shot through Jillian’s head.

JILLIAN STARES AND BLINKS AT NOTHING IN PARTICULAR.

Would she and John survive this?

JILLIAN CONSIDERS THIS.

Where would they go?

JILLIAN PUZZLES THIS.

How many people must she kill?

JILLIAN SMILES.

A BEAT. THEN…

Anyway. At some point, Jillian reached for toilet paper…

JILLIAN REACHES FOR THE TOILET PAPER…

and found none.

JILLIAN, INDEED, FINDS NONE.

Then she reached for the spare rolls in the cabinet beneath the sink in front of her…

JILLIAN REACHES FOR SPARE ROLLS…

and found none there as well.

JILLIAN, AGAIN, FINDS NOTHING.

Finally, she recalled an especially heated argument with John this morning…

JILLIAN STARES AND BLINKS. AGAIN.

something about John’s repeated failure to restock the toilet paper and his needing to do so before he plays in his little shed.

JILLIAN SWELLS WITH SILENT, RAGING BLOODLUST.

CUT TO:

JOHN’S SHED. JOHN, BLISSFULLY IGNORANT AND UNPRODUCTIVE.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) John, meanwhile, never knew of his wife’s admittedly petty grudge and subsequent raging bloodlust until he did.

JILLIAN ENTERS, BLUDGEONS JOHN WITH HIS OWN MICROPHONE.

JILLIAN: (TO AUDIENCE) Ignorance really is bliss.

Premium Service

A COMIC SHOP. THE SHOP IS LITTLE MORE THAN A NEWSSTAND LOCATED IN THE CLAUSTROPHOBIC LOBBY OF A BUILDING OTHERWISE OCCUPIED BY ALL SORTS OF VERY REAL, VIABLE BUSINESSES IN IT.

A SINGLE, WHOLLY APATHETIC CLERK SITS BEHIND THE COUNTER, HARDLY PRETENDING TO WORK.

CUSTOMER ENTERS.

CUSTOMER: Hi. I called about the (INCOMPREHENSIBLE COUGH).

CLERK: Got it right here… (PULLS OUT A SMALL BOX) Feel free to take a look before you pay.

CUSTOMER CONSIDERS THIS FOR A MOMENT, OPENS THE BOX, THEN SCREAMS A LITTLE SCREAM.

CLERK: Something wrong?

CUSTOMER: Is this what I think it is?

CLERK: If not, I suppose we’ve both committed a felony for nothing.

CUSTOMER: What, a felony? I didn’t come here for this!

CLERK: You didn’t?

CUSTOMER: No, of course not.

CLERK: I’m sorry. What did you come here for?

CUSTOMER: I called about an hour ago about the (INCOMPREHENSIBLE COUGH).

CLERK: Oh, yes, the (INCOMPREHENSIBLE COUGH).

CUSTOMER: Yes, that’s right.

CLERK RETRIEVES A SIMILAR, YET WHOLLY DIFFERENT BOX FROM BENEATH THE COUNTER AND SETS IT DOWN BESIDE THE FIRST.

CLERK: Anything else?

CUSTOMER: No. No, I don’t think so.

CLERK: Would you maybe like what’s in the first–

CUSTOMER: No.

CLERK: No judgment.

CUSTOMER: No, thank you.

CLERK: (SHRUGS) Suit yourself. (MINDLESSLY RINGS UP A SALE) Can’t believe anyone would want something this stupid.

CUSTOMER: Wasting money is a guilty pleasure of mine.

CLERK: And mine to take it.

CUSTOMER: Yes. Right. Well. I was admittedly a bit upset when I heard they were going to adapt this into a live-action movie after all these years.

CLERK: Is that right?

CUSTOMER: I mean, how do you even begin to translate something like this to a movie, ya know?

CLERK: I certainly do not.

CUSTOMER: And you know they’re going to mess it all up.

CLERK: I do?

CUSTOMER: Of course. The studio is probably handing over the whole thing to some incompetent, visionless parasite who will suck the fun and color out of everything.

CLERK: The son of a bitch.

CUSTOMER: What can you do, right?

CLERK: (CONSIDERS THIS) Follow me.

CUSTOMER: Excuse me?

CLERK WALKS OVER TO A SMALL DOOR JUST A FEW FEET AWAY, PULLING OUT A SMALL RING OF KEYS.

CLERK: I think you might be interested in our premium membership.

CUSTOMER: I’m afraid I don’t live in the area, and I really only came out all this way for that. Kinda surprised anybody–

CLERK IGNORES THIS AND UNLOCKS THE DOOR ANYWAY.

CLERK: Follow me.

CUSTOMER: What? No, I just want the…

CLERK DISAPPEARS THROUGH THE DOOR WITHOUT ANOTHER WORD.

CUSTOMER EVENTUALLY FOLLOWS, BUT PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVELY COMPLAINS ABOUT IT UNDER THEIR BREATH WHILE DOING SO.

CUT TO:

A BASEMENT BENEATH THE SHOP.

A SWEATY LARGE MAN IN A TATTERED SCREENPRINT TEE AND MATCHING BLAZER IS PREOCCUPIED WITH THE VIOLENT BEATING OF AN EQUALLY SWEATY, YET MUCH SMALLER MAN IN SOME SORT OF COSTUME.

CLERK AND CUSTOMER ENTER.

CUSTOMER: What the hell is this?!

LARGE MAN STOPS WITH THE BEATING.

LARGE MAN: (TO CLERK) Hey, I’ve still got… (CHECKS HIS WATCH) …ten minutes.

CLERK: (SHAKES HEAD, GESTURES TO CUSTOMER) Potential member.

LARGE MAN: Is that right? (TO CUSTOMER) Honest opinion? The premium membership is totally worth the extra money.

SMALLER MAN: (SPITS OUT TOOTH) I’m sorry. Was this beating canceled like some hack comedian with shit opinions masquerading as attempts at humor? (SPITS OUT SEVERAL MORE TEETH…) Or are we simply out of gas, like Lucas Stevensberg after the original Celestial Border Dispute trilogy?

LARGE MAN EAGERLY RESUMES THE BEATING.

A BEAT. THEN…

CUSTOMER: (TO CLERK) Okay. We have to call the police, or something. Right?

CLERK: Nah. (GESTURES TO SMALLER MAN) He does this for a living.

CUSTOMER: You’re pulling my leg.

CLERK: No, really. Poor guy’s some kind of unemployed actor. It’s a shame, too. He’s actually very talented. Really stirs our Premium Members into a frothy rage.

SMALLER MAN: (SERIOUSLY HURT) Children’s programming isn’t for you! Superheroes have always been political! You can joke about anything so long as it’s actually funny!

CUSTOMER: Oh, he is good. But couldn’t he just get a real job – slow-roasting children, building bears, recycling blood? Anything but this

CLERK: (SHRUGS) Seems he prefers getting the shit kicked out of him for money.

CUSTOMER: (NODS) This can’t possibly be legal, though… (PUZZLES THIS) Can it?

CLERK: While we do like to keep our premium services on the down low, I assure you everything is on the up and up. In fact, every comic shop is legally required to be built over a basement for this exact purpose.

CUSTOMER: What? No. No, I’ve been to plenty of shops that weren’t…

CLERK GESTURES TO A FRAMED CERTIFICATE ON THE WALL.

CLERK: See for yourself.

CUSTOMER: (READS) “This certificate of authenticity hereby, thereby, and whereby certificates the authenticity of this comic shop, video rental store, and/or slot-car racing facility…” (TO CLERK) This has to be some sort of joke.


CLERK: A joke, is it? And I suppose the First Great Fanboy War of 1945 is a big bowl of laughter with a side of toasted hilariousness and a refreshing glass of freshly-squeezed silly.

CUSTOMER: No, I didn’t–

CLERK: No, of course you didn’t. (SCOFFS) It never even occurs to people like you that such a bloody rampage – scores dead, hundreds emotionally wounded, countless more in dire need of a shower and antiperspirant – might demand some degree of government intervention and oversight.

LARGE MAN STOPS WITH THE BEATING…

LARGE MAN: Uh-oh… (INSPECTS SMALLER MAN’S POSSIBLY LIFELESS CORPSE. He’s gone all limp…

CLERK: No refunds!

END SCENE.

Soggy Feta Fries

A fartingly pretentious burger joint.  TEDDY waits at a table. HOST stands nearby, but still sort of in the way.

HOST: Welcome back to, “I Can’t Be Assed”. Our next story this evening is a flaccid tale of fickle fast food.

Vincent Raginghardon, better known to his friends as, “Bill,” wasn’t very well-liked at all, thus nobody really cared nor noticed when or even how he died. Meanwhile, Billy’s half-brother, Teddy Nippleblaster, continues to be missed to this day.

Teddy waves to the audience.

TEDDY: Hello.

HOST: Not now.

TEDDY: (pouts) Sorry.

HOST: Oh. Fine. Here.

Host gives Teddy a box of crayons.

Teddy perks up, scribbles all over the menu in crayon.

HOST: As I was saying…

Teddy was coincidentally eating at his half-brothers second-favorite burger joint on what also happened to be the anniversary of Bill’s death.

WAITER brings Teddy a sloppy mess of a burger. Teddy takes an equally sloppy bite, smiles and gestures approvingly to Waiter.

It was the sort of fine ground beef establishment that emphasizes presentation and comically large and wholly inedible brioche buns over trivial things like taste, price, or a respectable amount of aioli that doesn’t leave your burger a soggy mess before you’ve even had a chance to taste the damned thing.

Waiter mutters something to Teddy about leaving a review for free fries.

And the less said about the parking, the better.

Teddy eagerly pulls out his phone, proceeds to write a review.

But as Teddy wrote up a patronizingly positive review in exchange for a free platter of stone cold, yet somehow still soggy feta fries, he suddenly had the urge to vomit and defecate.

Teddy squirms and writhes in his seat.

Perhaps it was the heretical amount of room-temperature garlic and ranch aioli his burger had been swimming in. Or perhaps, it was the bits of bones and globs of thick, runny fat that flowed from the unevenly cooked patty that wasn’t setting well in his tummy.

Teddy is sickened further by Host’s description of it all.

Either way, Teddy was hardly paying much attention to anything else other than the sudden, powerful urge to not vomit and defecate in a public sense.

Teddy asks for directions to the restroom. Waiter gestures, “Thatta way”

Now. There’s something to be said about minding one’s surroundings as one quickly waddles about in search of a toilet or unoccupied sink to relieve one’s self. I’m not quite sure what that might be, of course.

Teddy hurries off, navigates a hallway, pushes through a pair of swinging double-doors, and into a blood-soaked, scream-filled abattoir.

But given how Mr. Nippleblaster failed to notice his being guided down a winding hallway, through a pair of large, swinging double-doors, into a blood-soaked and scream-filled abattoir…

Teddy falls into a giant meat grinder.

…used to butcher and process countless hand-picked cows, chickens, and other assorted animals and rodents for fifteen-dollar burgers…

Teddy is ground up, processed, and cooked up as another sloppy mess of a burger.

…and then served up medium rare to the still-living, non-hamburgerized patrons of a grossly overrated hamburger bar and grill in Huntington Beach…

Waiter serves up the Teddy-Burger to another CUSTOMER.

…it’s probably safe to assume there might be some vague moral or insight to glean from such a careless mistake.

Brown Paper Bag

A MAN sits there, sobbing, drinking from a brown paper bag, pathetically alone. Plucky commercial music plays as a plucky commercial VOICE speaks.

VOICE: (voice-over) Has this ever happened to you?

MAN: I can’t believe I’ve lost my job, the bank is foreclosing on our home, and our sun is only days away from collapsing into a black hole and consuming all life as we know it! How am I supposed to explain this to my wife?

WOMAN enters.

WOMAN: Honey, is this a bad time?

MAN: Yes, actually, it kind of is.

WOMAN: Perfect. Because… well… I don’t know how to say this…

MAN: Oh, no…

WOMAN: But… I’m not really your wife.

MAN: (shattered) Oh, my–! (puzzles this) Wait a minute… What do you mean you’re not really my wife?

WOMAN: (over-dramatic) So, you’ve finally uncovered my secret!

MAN: You’re pulling my leg.

WOMAN: (really selling it) It’s true, all of it! My real name is Debroannah Neener-Neener-Neener, and I’m one of several FBI agents tasked with monitoring you for the last fifteen years.

MAN: But we have three children together.

WOMAN: Agents Brisbee, Torquewrench, and Baby Oliver.

MAN: This is ridiculous.

A phone RINGS, Man answers.

Hello?

CALLER: (on phone) Bradthony, your brother is in the hospital. He was brutally beaten with a five-pound chihuahua named Rufus.

MAN: A five-pound chihuahua named Rufus? Is he okay?

CALLER: (on phone) He’s fine. But your brother’s not going to make it.

MAN: How can this day possibly get any worse for me specifically?

CALLER: (on phone) Oh. Well. I’m also Debroannah’s real husband, Craig.

MAN: I’m sorry?

CALLER: (on phone) Thank you. But we’re working through it. You never realize how important a healthy work-life balance is for a marriage until it’s too late, ya know?

MAN: Yes, Craig… I do know.

VOICE: (voice-over) When the world gets you down, turn to Brown Bag Liquor. Brown Bag Liquor, because sometimes all you’re looking for is an excuse. Now serving the Inland Empire and one guy named David who drives all the way out from Anaheim for some conspicuous reason or another.