The Saga of the Wandering Samurai
By Chris Pranger
Episode the First
Setting: A man dressed as a samurai is standing in front of his mother and father as he is waiting to board an airplane.
Father: Son, you do not have to do this.
Mother: Yes, please, stay.
Samurai: No, I have a place I must be, and it is not here.
Mother: You shall always have a place here though.
Samurai: Yes, but my soul would be restless. As the bird learns to fly, he must search for the wind’s current and be set free from his bonds. You taught me that, father.
Father: Yes, I did, didn’t I…?
Samurai: I will not disgrace you. (Bows). I must go. The wind currents are strong. (He runs to airplane, looks back at his parents who are both looking quite sad, then enters before it flies away).
* * * * *
Setting: University of Oregon campus. The Samurai walks into the campus carrying his belongings, which are not much. He looks up at the building he will be staying at, a dorm, and keeps walking.
* * * * *
Setting: A dorm room with one side of the room already decorated and one side bare. The Samurai opens the door and walks in, looks around, and sets his belongings down on the desk next to the window.
Ethan: (A goofy-looking fellow steps into the room wearing a trench coat and a baseball cap. He speaks with a somewhat British accent, though not heavy). ‘Ello then. You must be my new roommate!
Samurai: (Very solemn about everything, he is still making up his mind about this Ethan fellow). Yes.
Ethan: Hey, cool sword!
Samurai: (Still very solemn). Yes.
Ethan: Well the name’s Ethan. (Holds his hand out for a handshake. The Samurai looks at it and does nothing). Right…um…do you have any hobbies?
Ethan: Are you gonna tell me what they are?
Ethan: Should I have tried bowing instead of shaking your hand?
Ethan: Can I still try?
Ethan: (Bows deeply). Did it work?
Ethan: Oh, well then, why don’t I show you around campus a bit?
Samurai: Hm. (Nods).
* * * * *
Setting: Food area of the campus.
Ethan: So this’ll be where you get most of your meals. We’ve got just about every type of food you’d ever need here. We’re talking sandwiches, burritos, smoothies…and sandwiches.
Samurai: You already said sandwiches.
Ethan: Very important the sandwich.
Samurai: Where would I go to find decent sushi?
Ethan: Japan maybe? (The Samurai gives him a very dirty look). Hah, a joke, only a joke! (Looks around). Perhaps…maybe you could assemble sushi from other things?
Samurai: Disgraceful. Sushi must be hand-prepared only by the finest and most capable hands.
Ethan: And your hands aren’t worthy?
Samurai: (Shoots Ethan a deadly glare). I excel at many activities, though sushi preparation is not one of them, regrettably.
Ethan: Can’t win ‘em all I guess. Huh? Am I right? (Starts laughing and nudges the Samurai). Haha…ha…(Stops after getting another death-glare). Okay, let’s move on.
* * * * *
Setting: Basement. The two walk into the laundry area.
Ethan: And here we have the laundry space where you’ll wash all those delicates of yours. Those are machine washable, right? (Points at the Samurai’s garb).
Samurai: I do not trust machines.
Ethan: (Really not sure if he’s gonna get stabbed in the middle of the night or not). Neither do I…?
Samurai: Good, then we have some common ground.
Ethan: (Excited at a positive statement). Yeah! Hate machines! Fighting robots are tricky. Ever fought a robot?
Samurai: (Stern). Are you mocking me?
Ethan: No! No no, never! Why would I mock you?!
Samurai: Robots are no laughing matter. There is always the constant threat that they’ll appear from nowhere and strike.
Ethan: I know, I know! I didn’t mean to disrespect! I’ll be more careful when talking about robots!
Samurai: (Still stone faced). I was kidding.
Ethan: Oh… Let’s keep going…
* * * * *
Setting: Outside the fitness center.
Ethan: And here we have the gym, where you’ll be able to work out to your heart’s content. (The Samurai finally smiles). Aha! So he does have a human heart in there! (The Samurai gives him a sharp look). And it’s gone again…
Sebastian: (A man with a rapier at his side slams the Samurai in the shoulder as he walks by. Speaks with a slight French accent). What? A samurai? On this campus?
Samurai: (Intensely hateful look). I believe you bumped into me, sir.
Sebastian: Hrmph, you’d best watch where you’re walking, samurai. (Gives him a massively insulting, dirty look as he walks away, laughing).
Ethan: Hey, don’t worry about that guy. He thinks he’s the big man on campus. Fencer-type. His name’s Sebastian.
Ethan: Hey, I still don’t know your name.
Samurai: I am…the Samurai.
End of Episode 1
Episode the Second
Setting: Sidewalk on campus. It is raining and the Samurai is walking alone. He reaches to his side, looking as if he’s about to draw his sword, but he pulls out a parasol instead as he calmly walks along.
* * * * *
Setting: Typical discussion section classroom. As the GTF is talking we see Ethan sitting at a desk doodling wildly, Sebastian sitting rigid with a scheming look in his eyes, (rapier still as his side), and the Samurai calmly listening to the GTF, among other students, one of which is a Viking.
GTF: (Holding a book about Confucius). So, after reading these chapters about Confucius, what are our thoughts? (Looks around the room). Um…Sebastian?
Sebastian: (Arrogant and rude). Clearly, it was obvious that his teachings would fall apart upon being applied to the real world since his teachings were considered utter madness and only a fool would follow such dribblings. (Fires a glance at the Samurai to see how he reacts, which is of course with contained outrage).
GTF: Well, I wouldn’t exactly reject his teachings so quickly myself, but let’s see what some other people think. (Looks around the room again). Ethan, care to join us?
Ethan: (Looks up from his doodling as it becomes apparent that he didn’t actually read all of the reading). Huh? Oh, right, Confucius. (Stands up). So, I thought…that…Confucius, or “CooFu” as I lovingly refer to him, was a brilliant philosopher that had many, many ideas that are so complex and numerous that only the most enlightened of people could even hope to fathom the basic principles of said teachings.
Sebastian: So I suppose that means you’re disqualified…
Ethan: (Gives Sebastian a dirty look). And furthermore, I myself do not believe that I could do justice to such a great man, a man who took a dream and made it a reality in his world and the next. A man greater than words can describe. I rest my case.
GTF: Ethan, you didn’t read the book, didn’t you?
Ethan: No I did not. (Sits down).
GTF: Right…I figured about as much. (Sighs). Does anyone have anything good to say about the reading? (Points to the Samurai). You. Um…(Looks at her syllabus). Samurai. Do you have anything to add to this thrilling discussion?
Samurai: If I may, I believe my wisdom would best be related through haiku.
GTF: Sure, knock yourself out.
Samurai: Domo. (Stands up and bows to the GTF. He pulls out a piece of paper and clears his throat). Silence drapes the land, deeply honoring the sky, purity gives thanks. (Sits down again).
GTF: (Confused as she nods her head, trying to understand). Okay…yeah, sure, I can see that.
Ethan: (Mouth wide open, he seems about to cry). That was so deep and heartfelt! Why don’t you ever show this side when I philosophize?!
Sebastian: (Disgusted). What in the hell did all of that mean? That was utter nonsense!
Samurai: (About to snap). It is from deep within my soul.
Sebastian: Leave it to a samurai to take such ridiculous trash and make it filthier.
Samurai: (Leaps up with his katana drawn, tip at Sebastian’s throat). You lie! (Spoken in Japanese).
Sebastian: (Sneers and laughs). Hah, so quick to anger, yet so sloppy in execution. (Quickly draws his rapier, knocks the Samurai’s katana out of the way, and stands up with the tip of his rapier at the Samurai’s throat, all in one swift motion). Tisk tisk, such a disappointment.
GTF: (Not really acting as if this is out of place). Alright everyone, calm down. We’re all a bit confused as to what Confucius meant, so let’s all put our various weapons away, sit down, and talk this out so that we learn something today instead of stab each other in the throats.
Samurai: (Puts his katana away and bows to the GTF). Sumimasen. (Sits down).
Sebastian: (Puts his rapier away). Hmh. I don’t have to listen to this rubbish all day. I have better things to do. (Waves his hand and walks away. As he turns, we can all see that the Haiku the Samurai wrote is taped to his back somehow. The Samurai smiles. Ethan starts laughing along with everyone else).
End of Episode 2
Episode the Third
Setting: The Samurai’s dorm room. He is sitting very calmly on the floor with his katana leaning against the wall and his legs crossed. He seems to be meditating. There is an entire sequence involving the Samurai going through the tea ritual, about to drink his tea. Just as he is about to do so, Ethan walks into the room.
Ethan: (Flings the door open, bumping into the Samurai and causing him to spill his tea). Hey Samurai! Finished with classes for the day? (Looks down and sees what a terrible mistake he’s made). Oh no.
Samurai: (Slowly looks up at Ethan). You have brought disgrace upon us both.
Ethan: No. No no. No I did not mean!
Samurai: (Slowly gets up and grabs his katana). We must settle this for the sake of honor.
Ethan: (Becoming frantic). Or, ooooor, we could just forget this ever happened and go on with our lives living. How about that? (The Samurai says nothing but maintains his cold stare). Okay, we’ll try that. (Ethan exits the room for a second and then reenters with a big grin on his face). Hi! How are you? (The Samurai does not move in the least). You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?
Samurai: Come. (Grabs Ethan by the shoulder).
Ethan: But, but… (Whimpers).
* * * * *
Setting: Courtyard of the dorms. The Samurai is standing on one side with his Katana drawn and ready. Ethan is on the other side whimpering and in tears while holding an umbrella.
Ethan: So no undos?
Ethan: No backsies?
Ethan: But I don’t want to die!
Samurai: Death is nothing more than a new stage of life.
Ethan: Don’t fortune cookie me right now! I need forgiveness, not fortune cookie advice!
Samurai: Then let us commence.
Ethan: Wait! (Thinks for a second). Tranquility comes from…the sharing of forgiveness! (Eyes shift around). Or something like that!
Samurai: Forgiveness cannot be given lightly, for only when saved for the truly needy does it gain meaning.
Ethan: (Still frantic for something good to say). But…the branch that does not bend is nothing more than a stick!
Samurai: And yet the branch that breaks can never be mended.
Ethan: Don’t you know about the Prodigal Son?! The Good Samaritan?! Anything that Jesus ever said?! He was aaaalllll about forgiveness! Turn the other cheek and so forth!
Samurai: (Thinks to himself, searching for a good response). Yes but I’m Buddhist.
Ethan: Ah come on!
Samurai: Prepare yourself. (Bows. Ethan does the same, although very worriedly. The two just stare at each other silently. Ethan whimpers again. The Samurai shushes him. After enough time, the Samurai runs at Ethan yelling. In a flash, the Samurai rushes up and quickly slaps Ethan gently on the cheek. Ethan is dumbfounded).
Samurai: (Smiles and sheaths his sword). Your debt has been paid. (Walks away. Ethan is left baffled and speechless).
Sebastian: (Leaning against a tree nearby). Hmh, pansy.
Ethan: Yeah, well…! You’re…! Meh. (Waves him off).
End of Episode 3
Episode the Fourth
Setting: On the lawn in the middle of campus. The Samurai and Ethan are walking together around the lawn. There are a few booths set up for various fraternities and sororities that are rushing.
Ethan: (We pick up this conversation mid-sentence as it is apparent that Ethan has been the only one talking). So that’s why it would make complete sense for you and I to go to a costume party dressed as Abbot and Costello.
Samurai: (Nods). Hmh.
Ethan: No no, seriously, put some thought into that. It’s either that or we go as the Hardy Boys. You do know who the Hardy Boys are, correct?
Ethan: Haven’t a clue, eh? Hahaha, “clue”? (Begins laughing at his own joke). You get it? (Stops laughing. The Samurai is dead serious). You’re right, why would you get that joke if you didn’t know who the Hardy Boys were? My bad. (They keep walking).
Frat Sponsor: Hey you two fine gentlemen there.
Ethan: (Confusedly points to himself). Us two?
Frat Sponsor: Yes you two. Are you looking for direction in your lives?
Samurai: We are always looking for the correct path to take.
Frat Sponsor: Fantastic! And do you find yourself constantly trying to better your community?
Ethan: Well, I do make sure to never take notes in class, thus saving precious paper from being wasted.
Frat Sponsor: Gentlemen, allow me to “cut to the chase” as they say in Hollywood. Our fraternity is looking for individuals just like yourselves to add to our already growing community.
Ethan: What frat are you a part of.
Frat Sponsor: Ahem, that’s “fraternity”, and I am part of Zeta Theta Phi.
Ethan: I’ve never heard of it.
Frat Sponsor: We’re new. In fact, we’re so new, we just started last week. So can I persuade you two to sign up? (Holds up a clipboard with very few names signed).
Samurai: How is your family growing if you have only three signatures on this board?
Ethan: (Thinks to himself). M’yes…he’s right. This sounds like a scam to me.
Frat Sponsor: (Shifty eyes). What? What’re you talkin’ about? Ain’t no scam here, nope, none.
Samurai: (Quickly pulls his katana out). Hiya! (Slices the clipboard in half).
Frat Sponsor: RAHR! (Spins around and reveals himself to be a ninja in disguise. He instantly throws down a smoke bomb and disappears).
Ethan: So he was a ninja!
Samurai: Hmh, I hate ninjas. (Puts his katana away and the two keep walking). So these “Hardy Boys”, who are they?
Ethan: Oh, well they’re two teenagers, not unlike you and I, and they-(Suddenly Sebastian yells at them from another booth).
Sebastian: (He and two others dressed basically like him, with rapiers at their sides as well, are standing at a booth). No surprise that I find you two out here looking for a place that’ll accept you as members.
Samurai: We are merely enjoying a walk on a calm afternoon; we mean no harm.
Ethan: Yeah, and we’re not interested in frats anyways. We were just gonna live together off campus next year. (The Samurai looks over at Ethan, very confused). We’ll talk more later…
Sebastian: Hah, as if any respectable fraternity would want you two as members in the first place.
Ethan: Hey, any fraternity would want us! Even some sororities have been asking for us to pledge! You’re just bitter because you’re stuck in a loser frat!
Sebastian: How dare you! (The other two draw their rapiers, but Sebastian stops them). No, these two aren’t worth our time.
Ethan: That’s right we aren’t! Wait…(He’s confused himself again).
Sorority Sponsor: (Walks up to the Samurai and Ethan holding fliers). Hi there! My name’s Sheryl!
Samurai: (Swoons). Sheryl…
Sheryl: Some of the Greek houses are getting together to hold a get-together and I think it’d be great if you two could come.
Ethan: (Takes a flier). A party, eh? (Turns to Sebastian to taunt him). Yeah we’ll come! And we’ll become the lives of the party, just you wait and see!
Sebastian: (Not impressed). Hah.
Sheryl: Great! I’ll see you both there! (Runs off).
Ethan: (The samurai is smiling and still swooning). Yeah, we’ll show them, eh? (Looks at the Samurai, then off at Sheryl, then at the Samurai). Huh? What’s all this then?
(“To Be Continued…” shows up as the episode ends).
End of Episode 4
Episode the Fifth
Setting: A typical fraternity-style kegger party. Ethan and the Samurai walk up to the front door and prepare themselves to enter.
Ethan: (He’s still dressed as usual in his cap and trench coat. He looks down at the flier to check his directions). Well, this looks like it’s the place. You ready to show them how great we are?
Samurai: (Still solemn, as usual). I am.
Ethan: Good, that’s the kind of can-do attitude that we’ve got to have going into this thing! Away we go! (They walk up to the door. Music and noise can already be heard coming from the party. They ring the doorbell).
Sheryl: (Answers the door). Hey, you two ended up coming after all! I’m so glad! (Looks the samurai up and down and smiles). Hey, cool sword! Did you get it at Excalibur’s?
Samurai: (Also smiles). This sword was forged by the Masimune family many generations ago.
Sheryl: Cool? (Turns to Ethan for an explanation).
Ethan: Just go along with it; he’s kinda into the whole culture and everything.
Sheryl: Hey, no complaints here, samurai are hot.
Samurai: (He swoons and turns to Ethan). Haha, samurai are hot.
Sebastian: (Sebastian walks into the doorframe from inside the party and hugs Sheryl). Hello dear. Come back to the party. (Sees Ethan and the Samurai). Oh, I didn’t see you two there. (The Samurai has instantly changed his attitude to pissed off). I wasn’t aware that they’d let just anyone into this party. (Snubs his nose at the two and walks away).
Sheryl: Don’t mind him; he thinks I’m into him or something. (Whispers to the two). I’m totally not by the way. (Back to normal voice). Come on inside already! (They all walk inside). Help yourselves to any food or drinks you want. If you need me I’ll be off talking with my sorority sisters in the main room. (Walks off).
Ethan: So, go follow her.
Ethan: She’s totally into you and you obviously dig her.
Samurai: (Becomes flustered and annoyed). Hmh, such outrageousness.
Frat Boy: (Walks up to the two holding a few brews). Hey boys, you looking for something good to drink?
Samurai: Have you any sake?
Frat Boy: Is that brewed in Wisconsin? (Samurai glares at him). Whatever. (Turns to Ethan). What about you bro?
Ethan: Nah, I don’t drink.
Frat Boy: Psh, yeah right. What are you, lame?
Ethan: No, I’m sober.
Frat Boy: Whatever. (Walks off).
Ethan: I’m starting to get a bad vibe about this place…
Samurai: (Looking around, cautious). Hmm…you too can sense the shift in nature?
Ethan: For the sake of agreement, yes, I can sense all sorts of random hoo-ha coming from nature. To keep it simple, I’ll define said hoo-ha as “juju.” I sense bad juju.
Samurai: Ah, I may know where the source is… (Points off towards Sebastian and a grouping of his frat brothers doing keg-stands in the middle of the room).
Ethan: Frat boys…
Samurai: They’re like unsuccessful ninjas.
Ethan: (Surprised). Was that a joke?
Sebastian: (Getting trashed). Wooo! That’s how we do it boys! (Looks over and sees Ethan and the Samurai). Oh my, why don’t you two come try this? Oh yes, that’s right, you don’t drink! Hahaha! (The other frat boys also start laughing).
Ethan: At least we’re not a bunch of drunken Chads!
Sebastian: What?! (Pissed). Big words coming from the poorest excuse of a man on campus! Tell me, how many women have you actually spoken to this year, or ever for that matter? (More laughter).
Ethan: Why you-! (Readies to attack).
Samurai: (Holds his hand up to stop Ethan from advancing further). No. Save your ki. You shall need it for the proper moment.
Ethan: You’re right. Come on. We’re about to become the lives of the party in the bestest way possible. (Grabs the Samurai’s arm and drags him to the main room where everyone’s dancing. A song has just ended. He announces to the room). And now, for your entertainment, we are about to break it down! (He waits a few seconds for the music to cue up).
Sheryl: You guys dance? That’s so cool!
Ethan: Do we dance? Hah, just you wait and see. (What we are about to witness is one awesome dance-off).
Sebastian: (Storms into the middle of the crowd where Ethan and the Samurai have gathered). What’s this? You expect a samurai to know how to dance? Hah!
Samurai: Shall we dansu? (Looks to Ethan, they both nod in unison. The music begins and the Samurai starts with very traditional Noh- and Kabuki-style dances).
Sebastian: Hah, don’t make me laugh. (Shoots back with his own dance style, a graceful almost-tango).
Ethan: Oh please. Show him how it’s done! (The Samurai busts out some serious moves at this point, and after another round of Sebastian dancing back, Ethan jumps into the mix and he and the Samurai totally shut Sebastian down with some killer moves).
(The whole room is chanting “Sa-mu-rai! Sa-mu-rai!”).
Sebastian: Unbelievable! (Runs from the room upon realizing that he’s been served).
(The room keeps chanting “Sa-mu-rai! Sa-mu-rai!” as the Samurai and Ethan continue dancing while the episode fades out).
End of Episode Five
Episode the Sixth
Setting: We find our hero the Samurai at a beach of all places, carefully walking on the sand with his katana at his side and a note in his hand.
Samurai: (The Samurai looks down and reads the note. It says “Meet me at the beach, if you so dare.”). Hmh? (His posture changes as he straightens up, his eyes shifting to a noise he’s heard behind him. He puts his hands at the ready to draw his sword and quickly turns his head to see behind him).
Sebastian: (Standing casually, one hand resting on his rapier ready to draw it if need be, the other hand holding a similar note). The Samurai? What are you doing here?
Samurai: (Unsure of what to make of this). This is not a challenge set up by you?
Sebastian: No, if I were to humiliate you it would be in a much more public location.
Samurai: (Sees the note that Sebastian has). We have been issued the same challenge. (Loosens his stance and turns completely around to face Sebastian, showing him his note).
Sebastian: Something isn’t right about all of this…
Samurai: It seems we have a mutual foe.
Sebastian: Yes. Someone lured us here for one reason or another. My apologies, but I’d rather you just leave and let me take care of the situation unhindered.
Samurai: My honor is at stake as much as your pride.
Sebastian: So what do you intend we do?
Samurai: That I do not know.
Ninja: (His voice is heard out of frame). So, you have both come.
Samurai: (Both Sebastian and The Samurai turn to see the ninja, although they seem unworried and more annoyed). Ninja…
Sebastian: I should have figured about as much.
Ninja: Sonic-boom-no-jutsu! (The ninja screeches at the two of them, knocking them both back a fair distance). Have you had enough? (Samurai and Sebastian look at each other and then back at the ninja). Fine then. Sonic-boom-no-jutsu!
–Sebastian and The Samurai both roll-dodge to the side, coming together to give a roundhouse-elbow to the ninja at the same time, clocking the ninja in his face and knocking him back.
Ninja: Gah! Very tricky, but I have more tricks. Lunar-eclipse-no-jutsu! (The area flashes as the moon rises and the sun sets). Aha! Now darkness has risen! A ninja’s strength is at its peak during the evening hours!
Sebastian: I hate ninja trickery. (Draws his rapier). Leave Samurai, you won’t be needed.
Ninja: Hahahaha, Shadow-Clone-no-jutsu! (Seems to split into many ninjas. They surround The Samurai and Sebastian).
Samurai: (Draws his katana). I have a feeling I may be needed after all.
Sebastian: Just stay out of my way. (He goes into his fencer stance as a ninja rushes him, only to be parried and knocked away).
Samurai: And to you the same. (A ninja begins sneaking up behind him, The Samurai casually stabs behind it without looking, dispatching the ninja easily).
-More ninjas make to attack as the two prepare in new stances.
-Sebastian ducks under a ninja’s punch, coming up and catching it in the chin, then stabs through the ninja, swinging the ninja around to act as a shield while another ninja jumps to attack, only managing to get impaled on Sebastian’s blade as well.
-Sebastian tries to pull his rapier free but finds it stuck as a ninja comes from behind him.
-Sebastian reacts by leaning back while grabbing the ninja’s arm, breaking it by bringing his elbow down onto it, then leaps up and kicks the ninja in the face.
-As another ninja runs up, Sebastian pulls his rapier free, slashing the ninja’s throat in the same motion.
-The Samurai takes a wide stance as he cuts a ninja’s foot from underneath him, getting low to the ground. He kicks at another ninja’s ankle, breaking it and forcing the ninja to buckle and fall down to a knee.
-The Samurai knees the ninja in the face, swinging his katana wide upon landing back on both feet. He runs directly at one ninja, slashing upward and throwing it back while another two ninjas move in from behind and from the front.
-He goes back and forth parrying dagger strikes before kicking backwards into a ninja’s stomach.
-As the ninja bends forward The Samurai rolls over it back-to-back, swinging his katana with him, slashing with another upward arc that sends the ninja spinning into the air and onto a number of other ninjas.
Sebastian: How long do you think you’ll be able to keep up, Samurai? (Turns back around to swagger at The Samurai as a ninja begins coming up behind him).
Samurai: (Turns to face Sebastian’s comment, seeing the ninja sneaking up). Behind! (Instantly moves in front of Sebastian while pulling out a smaller dagger and stabbing the ninja behind Sebastian’s head).
Sebastian: (He’s stunned and then instantly angry, pushing The Samurai away from him). I don’t believe I asked for your assistance. (Sees an advancing enemy coming up behind The Samurai. Sebastian panics, quickly rushing The Samurai and stabbing around him at the ninja).
Samurai: (Stunned to be getting help from Sebastian). You helped me?
Sebastian: Don’t get the wrong idea. The only way for you to meet your rightful destruction is at the end of my rapier or my biting wit. I won’t have a filthy ninja do this for me.
-The Samurai nods in agreement and the fight resumes, with The Samurai smashing a ninja on the top of the head with both hands while Sebastian grabs a ninja by the collar and punches it dead in the face.
-Sebastian and the Samurai turn toward each other and rush, with The Samurai leaping over Sebastian, slashing as Sebastian ducks under, stabbing on his way up. They turn around then swing their swords around and stab behind, once more offing two more ninjas.
-The Samurai crouches, allowing Sebastian to hop onto his shoulders. The Samurai stands up again, turning to hack at more ninjas.
-Sebastian keeps his balance while taking swipes downward with his rapier and making small kicks, stunning the ninjas long enough for The Samurai to dispatch them properly.
-Sebastian hops onto a ninja’s head, stomping it in the head and sending it to the ground. Sebastian twirls and stomps on the ninja’s chest.
-The Samurai sweeps a ninja’s feet with a kick, knocking it down. He then stabs downward into its chest, pinning it to the ground, before then kicking the ninja in the head, breaking its neck.
-The Samurai and Sebastian look to each other again before The Samurai tosses his katana to Sebastian who catches it and kicks his foot up to The Samurai. The Samurai grabs it and starts swinging Sebastian around in wide circles, moving around as ninjas are destroyed left and right.
-Finally, The Samurai lets go, hurling Sebastian into the air. At the height of his decent, he spins downward into a power-bomb onto one last ninja. He stands up as The Samurai pulls his katana from the fallen ninja.
Sebastian: (The last of the ninja defeated, Sebastian and The Samurai nod to each other. Sebastian turns to face the head ninja). Is that the last of your tricks ninja?
Ninja: I have but one more. (Snaps his fingers. Two more ninja come out from behind him, one with Ethan tied up and the other with Sheryl tied up).
Both Sebastian and Samurai: Sheryl!
Ethan: Hey, and Ethan too!
Samurai: What do you want of us?!
Ninja: I want you two to duel to the death. If the Samurai wins, the girl will die. If the fencer wins, the boy shall die.
Sebastian: You bastard!
Ninja: Hahahahahaha! (Throws down a smoke bomb). Spectator-no-jutsu! (Instantly a stage appears, erupting from the sand, complete with a crowd of ninjas standing around from the sides, watching and cheering. Spotlights are one the two in the center). Hahaha! Begin!
To Be Continued…
End of Episode 6
Episode the Final
Setting: Samurai and Sebastian are in center stage with spotlights around them, a crowd of ninjas is standing around watching. A head ninja stands above all, with two other ninjas standing next to him, one holding Sheryl captive and the other holding Ethan.
Ninja: You two must fight to the death! If the Samurai wins, the girl dies. If the fencer wins, the boy dies. Begin now!
Samurai: (Still has his sword out, unsure of what to do). What do we do?
Sebastian: You just die! (Leaps at The Samurai, his choice being a much easier one. He stabs at The Samurai, to which The Samurai sidesteps out of the way).
Samurai: No! We must not play his game!
Sebastian: I have no qualms with both the reject and you dying if it means Sheryl lives. I have a rather easy choice in the matter, wouldn’t you agree? (Swipes at The Samurai, who ducks under the attack. He swipes low, The Samurai jumps over. He swipes again and this time The Samurai blocks the attack with his katana. The two struggle against the other).
Samurai: There must be another way…
Sebastian: But I’m getting what I want; why would I need another way? (Cheaply kicks The Samurai in the stomach and leaps at him. The Samurai rolls away, getting a kick to the side of the head as he rises).
Ethan: Don’t worry about me buddy! I’m okay with whatever you choose to do! (Turns to Sheryl). No hard feelings when he wins and saves me, right?
Sheryl: This is barbaric!
Ninja: (Laughing manically). Yes! Hahaha, yes! Fight! Fight!
Ethan: Are you totally one-dimensional or something, ‘cause you don’t seem to have much depth dude.
Ninja: (Turns to Ethan). Silence-no-jutsu! (A handkerchief appears and wraps itself around Ethan’s mouth). Hahaha!
Sheryl: You keep yelling “no-jutsu” after stuff, but I don’t think you know what that means.
Ninja: It means something in ninja!
Sheryl: No, it’s just a corny line from a silly anime.
Ninja: Erm…shut-up-no-jutsu! (Crosses his arms in a huff and continues watching the match).
-Sebastian runs at The Samurai, who’s obviously not fighting to his potential, and the two go at it. The Samurai keeps frantically dodging around Sebastian’s swishes, parrying the attacks but never countering.
Sebastian: I’m not going to be merciful forever! This is your end!
-Sebastian swats The Samurai on the left shoulder, stunning his arm.
-The Samurai responds by slamming Sebastian in the head with the hilt of his katana. While Sebastian is stumbling, The Samurai kicks the rapier from his hands.
-Recovering quickly, Sebastian grabs The Samurai by the collar of his armor and pulls his face into Sebastian’s elbow. Sebastian then grabs The Samurai’s katana from him, swinging it and slicing The Samurai’s leg. He goes down.
-Sebastian swings the katana directly down at The Samurai’s head, who closes his eyes and looks straight down, reacting by catching the blade over his head.
Sebastian: What?! (Struggling to push the katana down). It’s not humanly possible to do that! It was proven to be a myth! It’s all about physics!
Samurai: I was never one to enjoy physics.
-The Samurai shifts the weight of the blade sideways, forcing Sebastian to slash the katana down into the dirt and fall off balance towards The Samurai, who rises to his feet while headbutting Sebastian.
-Sebastian lets go of the katana and stumbles backwards, stepping on his rapier. Once he realizes what he’s stepped on, he kicks the rapier into the air, catching it and taking a roundhouse swing at The Samurai, missing just barely.
-He does another roundhouse, tossing his rapier into the air right in front of his face. The Samurai is caught in the chest with a solid kick as Sebastian spins again, catching his rapier and swishing across The Samurai’s chest, leaving a mark.
-As he moves in to make the kill, The Samurai leaps to the side, allowing Sebastian to miss. The Samurai finishes by coming down on Sebastian’s noggin with his elbow. Sebastian is knocked senseless. As he’s falling he quickly rolls to his feet a few yards away, still ready to fight.
Samurai: Stop! We need a plan!
Sebastian: You need to die! (Tosses his rapier away and rushes The Samurai. He trips The Samurai and leaps on top of him, grabbing the smaller dagger from The Samurai’s side and thrusting it down at The Samurai, only to have The Samurai grab his arm and attempt to stop this from happening).
Sheryl: Enough! (Slams her head backwards into her captor’s face. She then hops into the air, pulling her restrained hands under her so that they’re in front, then reaches over her head, grabs the ninja, and hurls it over her).
Ethan: (Grabs the handkerchief with his teeth and removes it). That was tight! (Sheryl decks the ninja holding Ethan captive, knocking it out cold). Well done. So how about you and I…
Sheryl: (Turns to the action taking place on the ground floor). Samurai!
Ethan: Whatever; that’s cool.
Samurai: Enough indeed. (Sees that both Sheryl and Ethan are safe, instantly revitalizing him and putting passion into his eyes. The Samurai continues to hold Sebastian’s wrist with one hand, bringing the other hand up into Sebastian’s stomach. He then kicks up and throws Sebastian over his head and onto his back. The Samurai leaps up and is on top of Sebastian, picking up his katana again and pointing the tip at Sebastian’s throat).
Sebastian: (Calm despite his situation). Right then. Do with me as you will.
Samurai: (Stares at Sebastian, ready to finish him off, yet pulls back and sheaths his sword, walking away). No good would come from it.
Sebastian: (Stands up and brushes himself off). Always honorable, even till the end. How predictable. (Picks up his rapier and rushes The Samurai once more head-on with his rapier straightforward, about to catch him unsuspecting).
Samurai: (Turns around and thrusts his hand out). HAIKU!
–Time seems to stop as cherry blossoms appear from nowhere along with another giant image of The Samurai’s upper torso behind the real Samurai, calmly reciting a poem: “My enemy strikes; His blade and soul are feeble; I grow stronger still.”
-Sebastian is stopped instantly, his rapier crumpling like foil against a wall, before throwing him back, disarmed and shamed at last.
Ethan: (Runs into the fray). How did you do that?!
Samurai: Family secret.
Sheryl: (Also running down to the ground level. She instantly hugs The Samurai). You’re alright!
Samurai: (Blushes and smiles). As are you.
Ninja: (Clapping). Wonderful! Wonderful! (Walks down to the ground level). Congratulations my boy! You have won the Dean’s Scholarship!
Samurai: I have…I have what? (The Ninja pulls off his mask, revealing himself to be the Dean of the college).
Sheryl and Ethan: The Dean of the school?!
Ninja: Congratulations! (The crowd is cheering).
Sebastian: (Still on the ground, dizzy, and now even more angry). But…I was supposed to win that scholarship! My entire future was depending on it! It was fate!
Samurai: (Smiles and points at Sebastian). Looks like you’ve been eating misfortune cookies. (The Samurai throws his head back and belts out a hearty laugh, along with Ethan, Sheryl, and the Dean/Ninja. The scene pulls back and begins to fade away).
Sheryl: Haha, oh Samurai. (Smiles and kisses his cheek).
Samurai: Hahaha, I made a funny!
End of Saga the First
*Author’s note: For our final, we were supposed to write an extended scene into a full story. At first, I started writing Donovan’s Intro, but half way through I realized I’d been writing yet another character study without a plot. So I freaked. It took me some time to get my act back in order, but I finally wrote this, based partly off my excitment to be attending a Jim Gaffigan concert that weekend. Jim didn’t die in a plane crash, but I did succeed in writing an actual story, and I was rewarded with…80 out of 100 points. So in total, my progress since the beginning of the source was a whopping 5 points. Still, as with most of my writing, I’m proud of my work here, and I hope you enjoy reading it.
Charlie had been looking forward to this weekend for close to a year now. He’d done his best to organize everything so that nothing would stop him from this one perfect moment. Come hell or high water, blizzard, snowstorm or Rapture, he was going to meet Jake Bosco, and not even God would dare challenge him in these plans. All he needed was to make it home in time.
Portland was where Charlie called home most frequently, although in recent years he had to diversify his answer by changing “Portland” to “Eugene” and “home” to “I attend school in.” The two locations are by no means an extreme distance apart, hardly two hours away if the average freeway speed stays at 80, but two hours is still two hours or more any way you slice it. Add to this a car that’s less than reliable and two hours might as well be two days.
“Angela, I don’t care what you’ve got going for Friday, if you want a ride into town, your schedule better damn well be freed or else you’re walking.”
“Charlie, I have class at noon until 2. That should be plenty of time.”
“Unacceptable. Skip your class.”
“What time do you have to be into town anyway?”
“The concert is at 7, so I need to be there at 6:30. Angie, if you keep me from seeing Jake Bosco, our friendship is over, a’ight?”
“Pff, Jake Bosco isn’t even that great anyway…”
Actually, Jake Bosco was one of the greatest comics performing around the world, and by the way Charlie reacts to Angela’s assessment, you can tell he agrees with the general consensus on the matter. Recently, Jake Bosco has been making a very successful name for himself as a stand-up comic after making frequent appearances on the popular late night show, practically being a guest host due to how regularly he’s seen alongside the actual host. Critics have been saying that Jake’s on the verge of breaking out into other media and hitting the success of the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin, or Bill Cosby. But not yet, so it’s still possible to see a show of Jake’s without having to already be connected with the Mafia in some way or living in a city larger than Portland.
“Angie, I’ve had these tickets for ten months now. As soon as I got the e-mail alert that he’d be performing nearby I rushed to get tickets, and I managed to get awesome seats.”
“How far back are you?”
“I’m in the aisle seat of row K. I’m right there.”
“That’s eleven rows back. It’s hardly front row, Charlie.”
Charlie stares for a few seconds in disbelief. “When we’re talking about Jake Bosco, row K is front and center.”
Months and months ago, Charlie began doing the leg-work for getting Jake Bosco to perform in his state of Oregon. Granted, all he could do was continuously send Jake messages over Myspace suggesting he come perform for him, but it felt like every little bit made a difference.
“Dear Jake Bosco,
I think you should perform in Oregon sometime soon. It’s perfect for you! I’m almost hurt you haven’t come sooner! We love Bosco!
Signed, Charlie Montague.”
“Dear Charlie Montague,
I actually just performed in Oregon no more than a month ago. And you’re right, Oregon is great! You guys probably love me more than my own parents, and they’re Catholic, so you know that’s tough love. I hope to come again as soon as possible.
Oh man! I’m a terrible fan for not realizing when you were here! I’ll make it up to you, I swear! Next time you come, you can stay at my place. I’ll even make waffles for breakfast!
As far as Charlie was concerned, after the initial exchange he and Jake Bosco were destined to be best friends forever, and one thing best friends do is support each other, so for a solid week after their “conversation,” Charlie went about voting for Oregon as the next stop on Jake Bosco’s nationwide tour on his official website, clicking “Come to Oregon!” more times than he can remember. And sure enough, one day an e-mail is sent to his computer letting him know that Jake Bosco, the Jake Bosco, would be performing in Portland, Oregon in ten months.
“Angie, I’m the reason he’s coming in the first place. If I hadn’t done all that work, he’d still be traveling around Canada for all we know. I owe it to him to meet him face-to-face tomorrow night.”
“Whatever, Charlie. See you tomorrow at 2.”
“No later than that!”
As Angela walks away, Charlie can’t help but notice the way the fading light of dusk seems to hit Angela’s long golden hair in just such a way that he’s blinded momentarily, and not just from the glare. He slowly runs his hands through his common brown hair, feeling in some way that his life would have been far better had he been born with sexy blonde hair as well. He takes one last look at Angela before he walks away.
The day had arrived at long last. Charlie had done everything in his power to keep this day clear of any and all deterrents that could keep him from seeing Jake Bosco at the appropriate time. He made sure he had no classes for the afternoon, no extra functions he’d promised to attend. He checked his car close to a half dozen times just in case it was trying to trick him for one reason or another by breaking down whenever he wasn’t looking. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. There was only one thing keeping him.
“Angela…where the hell are you…?”
The time was now 2:56. Almost an hour later than she was supposed to meet him. Various thoughts began rushing through his head. He considered leaving her more than once, just hopping in the car and driving away. He also considered storming into her class and demanding she be excused. Even the thought of sitting in her room until she came home seemed like a perfectly logical idea, save for the inevitable restraining order that would follow.
“Tick, tock Angie…”
At 3 o’clock exactly, the school’s main bell began to ring. Once. Twice. A third time.
“Charlie! I’m here!” The bell has hardly finished ringing a third time as Angie makes a mad dash towards Charlie, backpack slung over one shoulder, pillow in the other arm. “Let’s go!”
Without even greeting her, Charlie’s in the car, key turned and engine snarling. Smoke sputters out of the exhaust pipe, creating a dense fog around the immediate area. Charlie about throws the car into drive as a furious tap on the window reminds him to unlock the side door and let Angela come, too.
“Stop your dilly-dallying Angie and get in!”
“Me stop my dilly-dallying? I should punch you right now.”
“Shut up! Jake Bosco! Get in!”
And they were off; the two hardly registering that the car was in motion before having to swerve to avoid killing a man on a bicycle.
“Damn idiot! Can’t he see that I’m in a hurry?”
“Charlie, the whole world can tell you’re in a damned hurry. God knows for dang sure you’re in a damned hurry, and I doubt He’s happy.”
“God had better not stand in my way either, or else I’ll run Him down, too.”
Not too terribly long into their drive, the first signal that something’s attempting to stand in their way forms in the sound of a painful rattling from the underside of the car.
“Charlie, do you hear that?”
“That rattling noise? Sounds like something may be wrong with your car.”
“No. Nothing can be wrong with my car. I checked it before we left. Everything’s fine.”
“We should pull over and take a look.”
“No, I can fix this problem.” Charlie reaches over and clicks the radio dial over.
“…and it was like someone just slammed me over the head with a cinderblock or something!”
“There, can you still hear any rattling from my car?”
“No, but I can hear a few terrible radio DJ’s wasting my time with mindless chatter. Pull over.”
“If we pull over I’m kicking you out, because right now the only thing annoying me is you talking.”
Silence. The two just stare at each other for a moment, only breaking eye contact for Charlie to keep from driving into a ditch. Angela opens her mouth about to speak, but quickly shuts it again and turns away, burying her head in her pillow as she smashes it against the window. For the next hour, there is only silence, save for the sounds of a pair of pathetic radio voices, the honking of car horns, and a faint rattling noise.
“Charlie, I have to pee. Pull over at the next rest stop.”
Charlie looks over with a face of utter astonishment and disbelief. “You’re kidding me. You can hold it.”
“No I can’t. Please, pull over. I really need to use the bathroom.”
“You should have thought of that before you brought a bottle of water.”
“No. We’ll be in town in under an hour anyway. Show some character and keep your legs shut for once.”
Punch. Swerve. Honk. Finger.
“What the hell?!”
“Charlie, you’re unbelievable!”
Silence once more. Charlie takes this time of peace to reflect on a few things, mostly how it’ll be seeing Jake Bosco in person for the first time. And he begins to worry, noticeably showing a pained look as he drives. Will it be everything he’d hoped for? What if the act isn’t funny? What if he meets Jake Bosco and he turns out to be a jerk? All of this thinking puts a sad look on Charlie’s face, almost making him cry.
“Charlie, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have punched you. I just got mad, that’s all.”
“It’s just…you know…”
Charlie has a blank stare for a while before thinking of anything to say. “Hey, you ever hear Jake Bosco’s bit about road signs?”
“You know, where he’s all like, ‘So what’s up with the signs you see along the road anyway that try and tell you information you already know? Like I’m driving and I see a sign that says “Caution, road slippery when wet.” Well duh! Next thing we’ll see a sign that says “Notice, traction good when dry,” or “It gets dark at night.” What’s the logic anymore?’”
Angela weakly smiles at Charlie’s pathetic rendition of one of Jake Bosco’s staple jokes. “No, I haven’t heard that one before. You know any others?”
“Do I know any others? Hah! I know every bit Angie. Like the one with…” He stops as the traffic comes to a complete halt. “Hey? What’s up?” Charlie leans his head out the window to see a sign a few yards down that says “Road work ahead. May cause delays.”
“Don’t worry Charlie, we’ll get there in time.” She gently starts rubbing his shoulder as his head drops, hitting the steering wheel with a soft thump.
“You’ve been listening to Mac and Scooter on the Mac Attack, Portland’s favorite afternoon station…”
“Turn this off already, these guys are worthless.” Angela moves to switch the radio off, having her hand gently batted away as Charlie continues looking straight ahead. “Charlie, what gives? You like these guys or something?”
“Not really. They do traffic reports every so often, so I’d like to find out if they have any tips.”
Things have become dull for the two, finding little to do other than sit and stare out the front of the car as the rest of the road putters along, hardly moving every minute or two. Angela turns her head to glance out the side window, seeing the guy in the car next to them rocking out to some high-bass music, flipping his long hair around and around, about to give himself whiplash from proving his band loyalty.
“Angie, it’s 5:15. I’m not gonna make it.”
“You’ve got plenty of time. Any second now we’ll be moving at full speed.”
As if someone ahead of them hears Angela’s optimistic suggestion, the rest of the cars shift back into gear and take off. The hand-banger in the nearby car stops his fanfare and shakes his head, attempting to orient himself in the proper location once more before speeding up and joining the rest of the freeway traffic. Charlie takes a quick scan of the area before stamping on the gas pedal, forcing the car to lurch ahead before rocketing into the carpoolers lane.
“Slow down! We’re not in that big of a hurry!” Charlie’s eyes dart over to Angela for a split second, looking back ahead before they register that they even acknowledged her. “Charlie! I said slow down! You’re gonna get pulled over, and then you’ll just be later than you already are.”
“I’m only going 90. I’m keeping up with traffic, so if a cop sees someone speeding he’d have to pull everyone over and not just me.”
“That logic is terrible. Slow down.”
“…And the Mac Attack is back Jack! We’ve got the hourly news updates for you all…”
“I’m not slowing down.”
“Then pull over and let me drive. You’re probably just tired anyway from worrying so much. You need a nap.”
“You’re not driving.”
“Pull over.” No response. “Pull over damnit!” Charlie lets out a huff, turns his head to Angela, and begins to slow down to a reasonable speed. He shrugs to her to gain approval. “Thank you.”
“…In the world of business, Elephant Inc. has reported a new product is soon to come out in their Toughskin line of snow boots…”
The traffic begins to slow once more, coming to a stop again. A vein in Charlie’s forehead nearly pops before his eyes do the same.
“What?!” Angela recoils from his sharp outburst. She thinks for a second before deciding whether to speak or not. “I’m sorry, what?”
“I still need to pee. Could we maybe pull over soon?” Charlie purses his lips as he glares dead ahead, slowly shaking his head. “I’m not surprised…” Angela once more turns away to stare out her window, resting her chin on her arm. Charlie turns the radio up without looking.
“…We’ve got some traffic updates for you all.” Charlie perks up at this. “Those of you driving northbound on I-5, expect some delays.”
Both Charlie and Angela chime in with a “No kidding.” After saying this they look to each other and begin laughing.
“Hey Angie, you hear Jake Bosco’s bit about the flying car?”
“Charlie, I’ve heard every single Jake Bosco bit both now and forever. Yes, I’ve heard his bit about the flying car.” They don’t say anything for a few seconds until Angela breaks in with ‘Hey what’s the deal with the flying car?’ Charlie smiles again. ‘I mean, the thing’s supposed to be here by now, we’re living in the 21st Century. I know our government lies to us and everything, but if a cartoon character can have one, why can’t we? I can exist in the 3rd dimension but the little animated guy thinks he’s better than me by zooming around in the coolest car ever.’
General laugher from both. Traffic picks up and a sense of calm hits everyone as a heavy sigh is heard.
“Angie, I’m really glad you came along.”
“Me too, Charlie. Me too.”
“…And finally, we have some sad news to report. Jake Bosco, beloved comedian and all around funny man, passed away today when his charter flight went down somewhere over I-5. Eye witnesses say…”
No one says anything. Charlie pulls the car over as soon as he can, turning the engine off and letting his head fall onto the horn, creating the agonizing noise that he himself cannot produce at the moment. Angela can do nothing but pull him close and hold him as his face remains devoid of any emotion whatsoever. When Angela looks up she can faintly make out the cause of the traffic slowdown in the form of a number of emergency vehicles and a wrecked object billowing smoke. She shakes her head and buries her face in Charlie’s hair.
*Author’s note: I was extremely proud of my work with this story. My Intermediate Fiction Writing professor was not. Once more, she tells me that I haven’t written a story, failing to give description of what the characters look like or any set pieces. What I’ve given is a character study. Good for me I suppose. 70 out of 100 points. I’ve taken a step back, scoring less than my previous assignment, of which I hardly put any effort into at all. Naturally, the very next week we were assigned a short story written without character or set descriptions. I was furious and shaken, but I’m still proud of my work here. So enjoy.
Three live there. One is in denial. One is at the bottom. And one is the darkness that looms above the other two. It is not a happy place. It never had a chance to be. The two roommates, Jack and Carlos, never allowed such a chance to flourish. Such a thought was never even an option. The only concepts that crossed their minds were ideas that had sifted through the darkness, and nothing that drained out the bottom was ever something a third party would consider happy.
Jack did not have a rough childhood. Nor was he ever given everything on a jewel-encrusted plate. Jack’s childhood was just there, and he resented that fact. His family was stable and supportive; his upbringing was strict yet fair. If he were to decide to go on a rampage with a shotgun through his philosophy class the courts would have a hard time pinpointing a source of blame. And this bothers him, because the thought has crossed his mind more than once. Anyone who knows Jack would label him as a “nice guy,” and no one understands the depths of hate like a nice guy.
“The rent’s due on the 3rd, Carlos.” Jack says this more as a harmful warning then a friendly reminder, knowing full well that Carlos’ only response will be something close to “Don’t worry, I’ve got it.” Instead Carlos just nods, quiet, slowly, and passes Jack on the way out the door.
Carlos did have a rough childhood. His family life was the sort that’d make the likes of Jerry Springer blush. Abandonment from father figures, mothers having mental breakdowns, and siblings facing more than their share of abuses. And to make matters worse, his childhood has worked its way into Carlos’ present, refusing to let him escape the constant stream of crazy pouring out from his family. Frequent phone calls demand him to act as the peacemaker to a family that lives hours away. At any given moment Carlos will be forced to deal with what anyone else and especially Jack refers to as “The stupidest situations imaginable.”
“Yes, this is Carlos. What has mom done now?” There is hardly a hello anymore during his conversations. It only really wastes time. “Please, I can’t call her right now; I have too much to do. Just tell her I love her and to go to bed.” It doesn’t matter much; no one listens to what he has to say. “Fine, I’ll call her.” As a new call is started, Spanish begins pouring out of Carlos’ mouth like a broken spigot, trying to help his mother see reason.
“We don’t speak crazy around here Carlos, we speak English.” Carlos only slightly looks up, shrugging as Jack passes him on the way out. The comment isn’t so much meant as a racist jab, but a frustrated sting, intended to convince Carlos to give up already. Repetition doesn’t seem to be getting the point across, but the difficulty of passive-aggressive behavior is that once it’s blatant, it isn’t passive-aggressive anymore.
In Jack’s mind, people give far too little power to the term “hate.” It’s used to describe too much. Everything is a hate crime, hate speech, hateful this and hateful that. To Jack, “hate” is meant only for select occasions. The word “hate” just feels so good rolling off the tongue. “Hate…” he’ll say to no one in particular, just savoring the taste as the word oozes across his lips. A connoisseur of sorts, dealing mostly in the business of hate, lapping up the richness in which it affects people; the pureness of such a concept when done right.
Jack didn’t always hate everyone though. No one is ever born with that knowledge, much like no one is ever born with the concept of “good” etched into their mind. Hate is learned just as love, and sometimes hate is learned because of love. This is how Jack was instructed in the finer arts of malicious, unadulterated hate and loathing for those who received what he always desired most: love.
“How’s the girl doing?” Jack asks Carlos as they pass once more on their respective way across the threshold of the apartment. Carlos smiles weekly, bobbing his head as if this will shake any answers loose.
“She’s doing fine. We’re doing fine.” Jack looks back and nods, hardly disguising his grimace anymore.
To Carlos, the only stable thing in his life is his girlfriend. On many occasions he’s even told her that she’s the only good thing in his life. Doesn’t matter that it’s the sort of thing a daytime soap would quote, it’s the truth and nothing is purer than the feeling of warmth he feels when he strokes her hair, holds her tight, presses his lips against hers. But it’s not meant to last, and knowing this may just be worse.
For more than one reason, Carlos’ happiness is only temporary. His one stable pillar is marked for demolition come summer. He knows that’s when she’ll leave. The main instigator comes from her decision to enlist in the Peace Corps once college ends. Although Carlos desperately wishes she’d stay, he can’t in good conscience tell her to abandon this choice. It means too much to her and it only makes sense for how the rest of her life needs to play out. And beyond just the standard two years of separation, there is something more that will keep them away, and Carlos knows this. Anyone who would share his life must be willing to share his financial state, and that’s something that his girlfriend, his first and only real love, has regretted that she can never do.
Jack is financially comfortable and spends money like it’s meaningless, and to him it really is. “What’s the point of putting a value on something that’s bountiful?” is his philosophy on the matter. He’s managed to achieve this goal of financial independence not from hard work or supportive parents, but rather from mounds of student loans. As of now, over twenty-five grand. Not a cent needs to be paid until school is finished, and he doesn’t anticipate it being a problem.
Jack once asked his mother, “Mom, what sort of life insurance plan do you have covering me?”
“What? Um, right now you have a plan that covers any serious injury or illness that you could encounter.”
“If I died tomorrow, how much would you stand to earn?” She can say nothing to this, only stare blankly as if she misheard Jack the first time. “Mom, how much?” After she blinks a few more times and goes into her own minds for a moment, she chokes out the response, “Thirty thousand.”
“Good, that’s all I needed to know…”
If Carlos didn’t have Jack around, he would drown in the ocean of debt he’s formed, not so much from his own foolish mistakes but rather from his family’s. It was only recently that Carlos learned that in addition to the standard credit card debt he owed, nothing too outrageous for a first credit card, that another, second credit card had been maxed out somewhere in the twenties of thousands range, courtesy of his mother. For a while the nightly phone calls increased due to the new problem that had been added; a problem that was never Carlos’ to begin with. But he accepted it as if it was, admitting that somewhere along the line he could have done more and regretting that the job of “peacemaker” didn’t pay better in the long run. As Carlos steps into the apartment, his frustration gets the better of him and he shuts the door harder than he intended to, instantly pausing in his phone conversation to worry that he’s bothered Jack. There is only quiet.
Jack can find little time to enjoy the endless expanse of his mind, but the only time he’s guaranteed to have this time is when he sleeps, making sleep the only activity that brings him any semblance of joy or regularity that he can find. “In my dreams anything is possible,” Jack once told Carlos. “When I’m asleep no one can tell me something I don’t want to hear. I’m in complete control. I can do anything; be anything.” Typically Jack experiences the same nightmare, and this afternoon sees the same situation over again.
As it always goes without fail, the dream plays itself out with Jack just watching as people rush by him, too busy to say anything to him or even take notice. Except for that one person. As Jack catches sight of her, she moves towards him with a definite intent to her walk. She gently grabs Jack’s hand and pulls him to his feet. Before he knows it’s coming out, Jack has blurted “I can’t promise I can make you happy, but I know I’d try harder than anyone ever would.” Instead of letting go and leaving him standing there, she pulls him closer, her hand on his face, and kisses him ever so sweetly on the lips, brushing over them as carefully as one would dust for fingerprints, only stopping for a moment to say “I know, and I love you, too.” And then the sun starts coming up as they sit together, their hands locked in a grasp that no one would dare attempt to break, a single tear having begun sliding down his cheek.
This is the point where Jack wakes up, always. The promise of the bright sunlight is all a lie as the only thing that greets him is utter darkness. The warmth of her lips has faded to bitter cold. His bed is empty, and his hand is clenching nothing, nearly bleeding from clenching so hard. He is alone, except for the one tear that does little more than mock him. He’d scream except no one would hear him or care, so he turns back over and attempts to find his true love once more, only to discover that she’s gone for another night, surely to return again in 24 hours to taunt him as cruelly as every night.
“Hey man,” Carlos says to Jack as Jack enters the living room. Jack closes his eyes and nods in recognition as he takes a seat across from Carlos. “Did I wake you just now?” Jack slowly shakes his head, unwilling to make any sudden movements as if it will tempt some unseen force to react. “You alright?”
“I’m just fine. You?”
The two just looks at each other, weak smiles on their faces, and nod in unison. Three live there: Jack, Carlos, and the darkness that hangs above them both.
*Author’s note: The first assignment for my Intermediate Fiction Writing course my junior year of college. We were asked to write a scene as long as it didn’t involve cheerleaders or vampires. Naturally, I wanted to include the reference because I was told not to. When given too much space for an assignment, this is literally what I devolve to. I felt proud of this assignment. Really proud actually. My professor hated it. Really, really hated it. I got a 55 out of 100 points, quickly changed to 75 because of a mistake. Still, 75 was harsh, and I wasn’t happy. My professor told me that this wasn’t a story, wasn’t relatable, and wasn’t good. I disagree with all three points, but then again, I told her my strong points are dialogue and humor, so it’s her fault. You, however, can just enjoy.
Curse This Mind
I’m out of time. I’ve had a month and still, I am out of time. You’d think that given an entire month I’d have been able to force myself to at least think about the assignment that’s been given to me; an assignment which requires me to do nothing more than decide on a story I’m supposed to write. A month and nothing. I blame society.
“Okay everyone, I’m going to go around the room. I want you to tell us what you’re planning on writing for class.”
Damn. I’ve got nothing. No, that’s not true, I have too much. Yes, that’s what I’m going with. We have simple enough rules, and with simple rules I’m given too much space to think, and thinking’s where it gets dangerous.
Clearly I’m unimaginative. I’m drawing a complete blank. “Just don’t write about vampires or cheerleaders.” That should be easy. It should be. It isn’t when you’re lazy. And yes, I am lazy. Highly lazy. So lazy that people fear for my safety at times. I’m like a duck in a rainstorm. If my head’s tilted up and the rain starts, I’ll drown before I get around to shifting my beak little more than inches to prevent death.
How can I use that? That’s tough, because a story about a lazy jerk isn’t interesting. Stories cannot have a main character who goes about doing nothing. What is that…passive, yeah, I can’t have that as a main character. No one likes passivity in people, so why would they want to read a story about someone who does nothing? Maybe everyone around him does something…yeah…could work. No wait, what’s the opposite of working? Oh yes, FAILIING. This story concept could fail, and I cannot risk that. Therefore, the only option is not to give an answer.
“And don’t forget everyone, this story assignment is worth 75% of you total grade.”
Damn. It seems I must do this afterall. Who makes something worth that much of a grade anyway? What’s the point of the other 25%? I could literally not show up and still pass the class as long as I turn in this paper and it’s decent enough to be read. No wait, they still fail you if you miss too many classes. That’s where they get you.
“Alright, James, what have you come up with?”
Shoot, no time for dilly-dallying, I have to think. Let’s see, if James is on the other side of the room, and the professor’s going clockwise, then that gives me…3 hours? No, wait, carry the one. That gives me six minutes. See, this is why I write, because I can make up numbers. In math you have to actually know what the hell you’re talking about. In here I’m allowed to do whatever I feel and it’s always right. Unless it’s about vampires or cheerleaders. Why can I think of nothing but vampires or cheerleaders? I blame the professor. And society.
Allow me to run through everything I can think of off the top of my head: breasts. There, done. Can I write an entire story about nothing but breasts? I can definitely try, can’t I? If Hefner can do it, why can’t I? Oh yeah…I’m not rich and surrounded by women. Maybe a story involving women? Women seem to be able to relate to other women. I should write a story about a woman. And this woman is a…cheerleader. Damn.
“That’s an excellent idea Daniel. I would never have thought to write a story from the perceptive of the bullet waiting in a loaded pistol chamber.”
Damn, that was a good idea. I should have thought of that. Maybe I did, and I didn’t realize it. I have been preoccupied with breasts a bit too much I suppose. For all I know I did in fact come up with that concept and Dan can just read minds. And he stole my idea. What a jerk.
Hey! An idea! I’ll write about how Dan’s a jerk. Yeah, brilliant. But how can I convince the reader to believe me? Well I’m the writer, so they have to believe me. They wouldn’t be reading my thoughts unless they believed me. Oh no…but what if they mistake my musings and come to the conclusion that I’m the jerk? That’s a decent plot twist, but not one I’m willing to deal with. You can keep your stolen ideas Dan, I’ll look elsewhere…you jerk.
“Oh, wonderful, Alexis. Did everyone hear that?” No. “Alexis says she’s going to try and write a story involving Jesus but never actually refer to him by his name. Wonderful idea.”
What? That’s a stupid idea. Stop trying to break conventions and just fall into them already. Stupid Alexis, always stealing my fire right when I get it started. Just like Prometheus. I hope you’re smote by the gods for your behavior. You and Dan.
“YAH!” Oh hell, my cell phone.
“Chris, is anything the matter?”
Yes you twit, I’m freaking stupid and I jump when my cell phone vibrates. “Nope, everything’s fine. Good ideas everyone, crazy stuff so far.”
Unbelievable. It’s like a damned rabid badger in my pants.
Who’s calling me anyway? Does no one understand the concept that maybe I’m in class attempting to have my thirst for knowledge quenched?
I must know who’s calling me. I must! For no reason more than to begin preparing adequate outbursts to yell once I can call them back. I’ll just sneak a peak at the phone, no one will know.
How many rings is that? Five? I’ve only got two left, I must go fast. Just slide it on out the pocket…smoothly, gently, and above all quietly…
Jeez, this is ridiculous. Why are my pants so tight? This is like trying to feel up a sorority girl and what’s worse is I’m doing this to myself. Fine, forget it, I give up. They can die for all I care. Shouldn’t have tried calling me in the first place. Now back to my thoughts…
“Chris, was that your cell phone?”
Damn. Why does my phone have to inform me when I’ve received a message? Doesn’t it know this is a bad time to make noise?
“Um…that would be my alarm for praise. Good job on that concept! Awesome!”
“Actually, Robert here isn’t going to be turning in a proposal and has decided to forgo the assignment.”
“Um…then it must be my alarm for failure. Boo Robert! You’re a disgrace!”
“Robert is forgoing the assignment so that he can help peer edit.”
Damn you Robert. You’re on my hate list. I know why Nixon made a list in the first place, and Robert, you are that reason.
“Sorry, I was confused by the question. That noise was actually my insulin regulator. Seems I’m getting my afternoon jolt. Diabetes is harsh sometimes.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry Chris. Who’s next?”
Clever save brain. I would never have thought of that in a million years even if I’d have wanted to. Hah, I don’t even have Diabetes. Dumb cooze. Ug, that sounded bad even for me. Besides, I don’t have time to be uncouth, I need to think and think clearly. I must be as the snow globe and clear the snow from my gaze. No wait…snow globes become more chaotic when shook. Okay then, I must be like a leaf blower and clear the streets of my mind. Does that one work? Perhaps, but it still doesn’t give me a story concept. Damnit. Damnit damnit damnit.
“Damnit.” Oh hell, I said that out loud.
“Damnit…that was a great story concept! I was thinking of using that one myself!”
“Chris, why would you write a story about Virginia’s grandfather battling cancer?”
“Because I’m just as distraught as her…of course. You can’t keep his memory all to yourself Virginia!”
“Chris, sit down and stop banging the table, please.”
Close call. Is it damnit, or dammit? I never could come to a decision for that. The extra “n” always pissed me off anyway. I should just spell it dammit and be done with it. But what if the professor’s already told us the proper spelling and I’ve missed it? Nope, can’t risk it, I won’t be swearing in my story no matter how angry the characters get. They’ll yell “golly” and “darn tooting” but none shall utter an obscenity. Mmm, and maybe “trouser stain.” That’s just good fun. And good for character development.
“Okay, Chris, what do you have for us?”
Oh no. Moment of truth. What have I thought of? Think think think!
No that won’t do. You have to make actual words mouth.
“Darn tooting ma’am.”
Try harder. Take a deep breath. Ah, nice. Now close your eyes, like you’re in deep thought. Also good. Yeah, they’re really anticipating something good. Clear your throat, too.
Good, that’s good. People usually do that before they speak. This is it Chris, you can do it, you’re the man, you’re in charge. Time to wow them with your story proposal. Make them cry out praises on high to you. Make them believe you’re Jesus H. Christ descending from Heaven in a glowing light with angels on trumpets and fairies creating a laser-light show right in front of their eyes, so much so that they have seizures from being unable to make in everything you have to offer them in one sitting. Now do it Chris, read them the Gospel like they’ve never heard it before.
“So I’ve got this story involving a vampire who kills cheerleaders…”
…Damn. I blame society.
*Author’s note: The final original assignment I did for Intro Fiction Writing. It was an exercise I put on myself to see if I was capable of doing a short story using only dialogue. I said I succeeeded, as did my teacher. I brought this up the very next year during my next fiction writiging class, and my professor basically told it my story probably sucked without reading it. It was going to be a long term with her.
Why Don’t You?
“’Just kiss her.’ That’s what you’ve got to keep telling yourself. ‘Just kiss her.’ I mean, what’s the worse that could happen?”
“She could freak out and never speak to me again.”
“True, she could freak out and never speak to you again; that’s pretty bad, but then again she hardly speaks to you now. All she does is disappoint you over and over again. Maybe you’ll be graced and she’ll ask to just be friends. If she does then at least that’d be implying that she’ll treat you better. I mean, friends would be a far step up from what you are now, which is basically just the guy that exists to remind her that at least someone, someone on Earth, thinks the world of her.”
“Why can’t I just tell her how I feel?”
“Why not just tell her that you love her? Really? No, if you do, even though you mean it and it’d be a massive risk all in its own, she could easily walk away. She could say nothing or patronize you by trying to explain your feelings away or simply walk away and then you’re standing there like the sad bastard that you are. At least if you just grab her and kiss her she can’t escape; she can’t run away. And even if she doesn’t say anything afterwards and just leaves, you took the risk and you’re a champion.”
“A warrior. You are a gladiator in the arena of love. You came, you saw, you conquered. Perhaps you also screwed up, but you did it with style. No one can look down upon you for that. You are a hero to all of us who cry out for action, who fight for love. All nice guys everywhere who have been trapped where you are will rejoice and you shall add their power to yours.”
“I haven’t even done it yet.”
“But you will. You must. If you don’t, well then there’s no hope for any of the world. We are all lost.”
“You’re all lost if I don’t get rejected?”
“No, we’re all lost if you don’t even try. We need a role model.”
“Who is this ‘we’?”
“Who is this-who is this ‘we’? What do you mean ‘who is this ‘we’?’ This ‘we’ is everyone who’s counting on you.”
“How do they know about me?”
“They don’t now, but once you go out there and do what you will do, then they’ll sing songs about you for ages to come.”
“Is it now? Or is it so reasonable that you’re afraid to accept your destiny? I’m not even sure what you’re more afraid of anymore: rejection from the woman you love, or leading your people into battle.”
“You know, the people who are depending on you.”
“And who are these people?”
“Me. If you go out there and you do this, then I have hope for myself. I’ll be able to see that it can be done and that no matter what happens afterwards, the world will still keep spinning no matter how hard you or I would think otherwise.”
“Then why don’t you just do it?”
“Because I am a coward.”
“You’re a coward?”
“Yes, I’m a coward. I don’t believe in myself or anything that I do. I have to live vicariously through you in order to feel anything.”
“But I haven’t done anything.”
“But you will.”
“No, I won’t.”
“Then all is lost.”
“Nothing is lost. Things will just go back to the way they’ve always been. I’ll be in the middle ground between ‘friend’ and ‘something more’ and nothing will change.”
“Is that what you want?”
“What I want I can’t have. At least with this I know what to expect.”
“And that’s better than the possibility of something greater?”
“Yes. At least this way I don’t have to deal with the pain.”
“You’re already dealing with the pain. You’ve been dealing with the pain for years. I’m trying to convince you to take yourself off life support. You have to trust me; something better awaits you in the next life.”
“The next life?”
“The life without her.”
“But…it’s not really a life without her…”
“Then show her that. Make her know that she means everything to you, and that without her you’d die. You’d give up your life for one chance to be with her.”
“I’m not doing it.”
“Then all is lost.”
Destined to Lose
“Oh my God.” My mind is about to roll in upon itself just trying to fathom the situation I’m in. I haven’t done anything wrong, yet I know that I’m about to be punished for something that I did at some point, although I don’t remember what it is or why it matters. So all I can muster as an answer to my wife is “Oh my God.”
For some reason, she doesn’t quite grasp that I want to be left entirely alone at the moment. She thundered into the room no more than three seconds ago and already I feel as if I’ve been interrogated by a number of judges, including God himself, about a crime that is currently slipping my memory of ever taking place. The only information I was given was a single announcement upon her entrance: “What are you doing?!”
To you this may not seem like so much of an announcement as a general question, but you’d be wrong, just like I’ve been wrong so many, many times before. The reasoning behind this is that her wording was not a kind inquisitive remark about what I was presently doing, but a forceful demand that implied not too kindly that although I can answer her question, it will inevitably be wrong. So we get back to the “question” at hand.
“What are you doing?!” my wife asks me.
“Oh my God,” I respond, knowing quite well a whole lot of nothing.
“What do you mean by that?!” she answers back. At this point I’ve already lost. I’ve given her the edge that she needs in which she knows that victory is securely within her grasp, and all she has to do is reach out and take it. She’s about to win a battle that I haven’t been told about. I’m about to lose a war that my government neglected to tell me we had entered. The very least I can do is take each bullet like a man.
“What d’you mean ‘what do I mean’?” Yes, surely I have taken the high road that is exclusive to only the truly noble of men.
“Oh that is so like you. I try and have a real discussion with you and you act like a child.” And now I’m in a new situation, a situation that I greatly prefer. Because previously the problem related to something that was a mystery to me. Now, however, the problem is something that I can understand, relate to, and respond to. She believes me to be a child, haha, I can argue that I am not a child. Afterall, I have chosen to take the exclusive high road for only the truly noble men.
“Nuh-uh.” Terrible dismount, just try and stick the landing. “I simply choose not to engage in discussions with oppressors and militants.” Good recovery. She looks baffled. I must be winning.
“What does that even mean?” Crap. I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Now I’m backed against a wall again. I’m cornered. I’m screwed. And on the high road no less. Where are my war advisors and why didn’t that warn me about this oncoming strike?
“Hey mom, hey dad, what’s going on?” My war advisor! There he is! He finally entered the fray!
“Hey son, come ‘ere for a second.” I pull my son aside as quickly as I can manage. In this battle, every second could mean another thousand dead. Brain cells that is. So I must work fast, because I have so few left to attack with as it is. “Son, why didn’t you tell me she was mad at me?”
“I didn’t know.” A likely excuse.
“Do you know why she’s mad at me?”
“Nuh-uh.” Darn, he’s gonna grow up to be just like his old man. Shame, too. He had such potential.
“Don’t you try and get him to side with you. This is between you and me.” Oh no, the ceasefire had fallen through and my wife is back on the attack. How dare she assume that my son would even think about siding with her. He’s my trusted war advisor. He’s gotten me through worse than this, and he’s always stuck by my side. She can’t split up a bond as close as a father and son’s. It’s more powerful than she can even imagine. We shall win this war yet!
“I’m gonna go play Game Boy upstairs in my room.” Traitor. I am now completely on my own in this endeavor. I didn’t want to think it’d come to this, but it has. My trusted advisor is dead to me and I’m all alone. I have no choice but to run the white flag of defeat.
“I give up! What did I do?!” I bet you’re probably curious what I did as well. In a second we could all find out, and everything will make sense at last. The war will be over, many will have been lost as a result, but at least the long and terrible war will be over and we can get on with our lives.
“If you don’t know what you did then I’m not gonna just tell you!” Of course not, that would be too simple. This war will likely go on for ages. Our children’s children will speak of this war and will fight it in themselves. They will see it with their own eyes and be forced to give their own children to the cause. There shall be no peace. And since there shall be no peace, I have no use for the noble high road exclusive to us great men.
“I am tired of this Mickey Mouse bullshit! All I was doing was sitting here in my nice comfy chair watching my nice comfy TV on a nice comfy Saturday and I wasn’t doing ANYTHING!” Perhaps I was a bit too shrill with the last word. At the very least I withheld nothing and thus can regret nothing. Except saying anything at all, I suppose I can regret that.
“That’s just it!” Now she’s really got me. Somehow she’s managed to coerce me into saying what I did, and yet I myself do not even know what it is. That is what power is born from.
“What’s just it?!”
“You were doing nothing!” And thus my mind popped clean out of my skull and just fobbled around on the ground a bit before my wife picked it up and not-so-gently handed it back to me. If I was to understand correctly, I was in trouble for the simple act of doing nothing at all. She had caught me in mid inaction. I was done for. She had won. After another few minutes of me trying to grasp this realization, I left the room with my head hung low and a list of chores to be done on the only free day I had in my own kingdom. It’s rough taking that noble high road so often.
*Author’s note: Another Intro Fiction Writing assignment, this one asking us to write a letter to someone, either real or imaginary. I picked the latter, and had my teacher say she was impressed when she found out who was writing the letter, not expecting it and being forced to reread the letter to get everything fully. Perhaps you’ll have to do the same, but I don’t think I wrote it THAT well. Hopefully enough to be enjoyed though, so, enjoy!
To My Love, Whom I Can Never Have
As I’ve always said, nothing is ever as poignant as the truth. Although, as I sit here, scrolling this letter to you I find it harder and harder to follow my own advice. Most of what I say is for everyone else anyway. It’s great for comforting others, but it hardly comforts myself. I already know the inner meanings of everything I tell people, I already know why it’s important to know. Where is my inner awakening?
I apologize, I’m getting off track. This letter isn’t about me. I mean, everything is essentially about me in some way, especially this, but I mean that I’m not writing this letter with myself in mind. I’m writing it to you, about you, and why I’ve been destroying myself at night. So I’m going to get right to the point, and the point is, I deeply love you.
Yes, I love everyone, and yes, it should be equal, but I can’t help the fact that I’m still human and still wish more than anything that I could give it all up and just be with you until the end of days. I can’t even describe to you how important you are to me. Every time I think about what’s going to happen in the future, I always remember that you’re here and it eases me ever so slightly. If only I wasn’t so important. If only they could find someone else to be so great. I don’t want all of this power. I want you.
You’ve meant more to me than anyone I’ve met. Of my dozen friends, none of them compare to you in any way. You’re so perfect and I’m so perfect and it would only make sense that we could be perfectly happy together but we can’t be and it’s what’s destroying me inside. I’m a kingdom divided amongst myself now. Half of me feels obligated to do my duty, to uphold my purpose. The other half of me is screaming, pleading with me to run away with you and never look back, never care about the consequences.
If you asked me, I’d give it all up for you. If I knew you weren’t so committed to everything that I am, you’d ask me to just spend my life with you and leave it all behind. But I know that you’re too committed, you’d never ask that of me. This makes me love you all the more, because without you to keep me on course then all would be lost. I would have given up long ago. You remind me on a daily basis that there is a reason for all of this. That there is at least one soul worth everything on this sad Earth.
I wish I could tell you what is in store for me. I wish I could but then you wouldn’t let me go through with it. It’d challenge you too much to know of the inevitable and what I’m going to have to go through because of my love for you, my love for everything. Please, no matter what happens, no matter whether I see you again or not, I want you to know that I loved you. You need to know this. I love you and I’m sorry.
My deepest love,
*Author’s note: Another class writing assignment from Intro to fiction Writing, this one being ane xercise in listening to real conversations and using that as dialogue. Dialogue was always my strength anyway, so the assignment was more to just have fun for me, which I did. Everything is basically true to life by the way, so enjoy!
The following dialogue was taken from my roommate as he was talking on the phone with his long-distance girlfriend. This is a nightly conversation that I hear rather frequently, so not much changes from time to time, except for perhaps my roommate’s level of annoyance. Naturally, names have been changed out of respect for my roommate. And now the actual conversation:
Roommate: (On the phone, pacing back and forth, at times flopping down on his bed). No Sheryl, I’m feeling fine. (Pause, sadly I can’t hear what the girlfriend is saying). No, I’m fine. (Shorter pause). I said that I’m fine; there’s nothing wrong. (Pause). Gah, I understand that you care about me but you’ve got to understand that I just get tired of it from time to time. (Very bad pause). What? No, I care about you, too. (Frustrating pause). I said that I care about you, too. (Begins emphasizing his words). I care about you, too. (It takes a turn for the worst). What? (Another pause). Sheryl, I can’t tell you that I’m in love with you. (And worse). No, I do care about you, but I can’t tell you that I love you. (I don’t even want to know what the girlfriend is actually saying). No, Sheryl, Sheryl, She- (he keeps getting cut off). Sigh, Sheryl, I’m just not gonna tell you that. (Why?). Because I don’t even know what love is! I’m only 20 years old for God sake. (She makes it worse). No, I’m 20 years old, and you’re not even as old as me, you don’t know what love is either! (They keep going on like this for a “good” five minutes). Okay, Sheryl, we’ll talk about this tomorrow. No, we’ll talk about this tomorrow. No, we both need to get some rest and we’ll talk about it tomorrow. Alright? Alright? No, tomorrow. Alright? Okay, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Good night. (Hangs up).
“No Sheryl, I’m feeling fine.” A shaggy-haired individual flops down onto his bed as he’s talking on the phone. “No, I’m fine.” He seems to be on the phone with his girlfriend. “I said that I’m fine; there’s nothing wrong.” This is a normal trend for this particular couple. “Gah, I understand that you care about me but you’ve got to understand that I just get tired of it from time to time.” The girlfriend lives too far away to have this conversation with face-to-face, which on some level is a good thing. “What? No, I care about you, too.”
At about this time the roommate walks by his room. The roommate has heard this conversation about as many times as the shaggy-haired individual. “Uh-oh, I know that noise,” the roommate states to the room.
The shaggy-haired individual waves him off, going back into his conversation with his girlfriend. “I said I care about you, too.” A short pause goes by, as the girlfriend is either not hearing correctly or she just isn’t understanding his meaning, so he tries emphasizing his words and speaking clearer. “I care about you, too.”
“He cares about you, too!” the roommate shouts, offering his help. The shaggy-haired individual turns his back to the roommate and waves him off again.
“What?” he questions the phone.
“Yeah, what?” the roommate chimes in, getting waved off once more.
“Sheryl, I can’t tell you that I’m in love with you.” Clearly things have gone from bad to worse in a very short amount of time.
“Oh crap,” the roommate blurts out. “Just hang up the phone right now! Don’t fall into this trap; you’ll never make it out again!”
Another wave and the shaggy-haired individual responds back to this loaded question. “No, I do care about you, but I can’t tell you that I love you.”
“No you darn well can’t,” the roommate points out. “That would be a fatal error.”
“No, Sheryl, Sheryl, She-,” the shaggy-haired individual keeps getting cut off before even getting a chance to get his argument out of his mouth until a sigh finally slips out. “Sheryl, I’m just not gonna tell you that.”
“And why not?” asks the roommate, keeping him on track for what’s about to be said again for the ninth night in a row.
“Because I don’t even know what love is! I’m only 20 years old for God sake.”
“That’s right; you’re only 20 years old.”
“No, I’m 20 years old, and you’re not even as old as me, you don’t know what love is either!” The shaggy-haired individual finally decides that this conversation has gone to a place that is not meant for others to witness, and so he stands up, gives his roommate the “one minute please” sign, and closes his door. Seeing this as a good chance to stock up on vitals, the roommate takes his all-important break from this conversation to create a sandwich and think up the very best advice to offer.
After a few minutes go by, the roommate has decided that he’s ready to re-enter the conversation, so he sits down at the door and presses his ear to it to get a better sense of what’s happening on the other side. He is able to catch the tail-end of this brutal conversation. “Okay, Sheryl, we’ll talk about this tomorrow. No, we’ll talk about this tomorrow. No, we both need to get some rest and we’ll talk about it tomorrow. Alright? Alright? No, tomorrow. Alright? Okay, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Good night.” Footsteps. The roommate’s cue to jump to his feet and prepare himself for the shaggy-haired individual to seek his wisdom on the matter. As the shaggy-haired individual opens the door, the roommate’s face is pressed against the doorframe. “Gah!”
“Haha, I bet you just had a fun conversation there, eh?”
“Yeah right. Why are women so damn stupid?” The shaggy-haired individual paces back into his room and over to a lawn chair set up. He crumples into this chair, his whole body frustratingly tired from having to deal with his girlfriend yet again.
“My friend, we have all asked this question, but none of us have been able to answer this properly. Except me of course.” The roommate walks himself over to an armchair in the corner and takes his place as the exalted advice-giver. “Naturally, the reason is because women see the need to destroy our minds to the point that we become stupider than them, thus creating some sort of equality between the sexes.”
“How does that create equality of the sexes?”
“Oh no, she’s already destroyed your mind too far. I may not be able to properly salvage it anymore.”
“I would not doubt it.” The shaggy-haired individual places his hands on the top of his head and slumps further into his seat. “I’m getting tired of the same conversation every night.”
“I think we all are.”
The shaggy-haired individual sits up in his frustration. “It’s just so damn…how to describe it?”
“Yes.” He shaggy-haired individual points his affirmation to the roommate and stands up to get some water. “It’s frustrating to have to deal with her every night when she keeps acting like a child. I’m getting sick of it.”
“You know what you have to do, don’t chu?” Here it comes…
“So what’s the advice for tonight?” The shaggy-haired individual has entirely predicted that it would come to this, so he’s almost eager to hear the next scheme to come from the roommate.
“What you’ve got to do is out crazy this woman.” The shaggy-haired roommate laughs. “No I’m serious, you’ve got to start stepping it up another level. Next time she calls, ask her to marry you. In fact, don’t even give her a chance to call her. You need to start calling her.”
“As often as possible. Call her ever hour of every day, and then don’t have anything important to say. Just keep calling and calling and calling until she picks up, and then ask her what she’s thinking about.”
“Hah, just call her all the time?”
“Even when she’s in class?”
“Especially when she’s in class. Just keep calling her and if she doesn’t pick up, call her friend in that class and when the friend answers tell the friend to give the phone to your girlfriend. Tell her that you were worried that she was in an accident or something since she wasn’t picking up her phone. She’ll love it.”
“Hahaha, I may have to try that.” The shaggy-haired individual walks over to the TV in the room and casually points at it. “So since this night has sucked so badly, I think we should play some Smash Brothers. How ‘bout it?”
“Same as every night.” The shaggy-haired individual tosses the roommate a video game controller. “She sure sounds like a winner.”
“Oh boy is she ever,” admits the shaggy-haired roommate as he knows that the same conversation will occur again and again, each and every night. But for now, the fight is over and the night is finally his.
*Athor’s note: This is a short story I wrote back during my Sophomore year of college during an intro fiction writing class. I didn’t mind the class so much, but I also didn’t get a chance to just write what I wanted either. however, a few fun things popped up nonetheless, this included. I argue that it was the best thing I wrote that term, but I’ll let you decide. Enjoy.
I hadn’t nearly prepared myself for this. I mean, we all know that death is inevitable, no matter who you think you are, but when it hits so suddenly, well I don’t know, I suppose I still didn’t expect it. No more than two days ago we were sitting in our usual seats, playing our usual game of chess. Truly a gentlemen’s game. I’d be sitting across the table, shifting my pieces expertly across the board. And he’d be shifting his pieces just a little better. Now look at where we are. I’m standing in the middle of a quiet, darkened room, and he’s sittin’ in a casket. My best friend Kyle is sitting in a damned casket.
“Grampa? You okay?” I can feel a little kid tugging at my jacket. They say he’s my seven-year-old grandson, and I suppose I don’t have reason to doubt that, although he never did act anything like his mother, my daughter. “Are you gonna be alright?”
“Me?” I can hardly think of anything worth saying here. “Oh my, I’m fine. You just run along there.” Anyone else would have gathered that I was merely humoring him. God bless my grandson, he was never bright enough to catch on.
“You sure?” For all his kindness, I was in no mood to receive it. “I can go get you some lemonade from the table if you’d like?” A small nod and that’s all it takes to send this child away. He scurries off towards the refreshment table, my chance to get some privacy.
“Oh, thank you for coming.” The widow; the wife of my late best friend. I never had any reason to dislike her, but then again I never did have a reason to enjoy her company either. She was the one who was always trying to take my best friend from me. She was the one forcing him to divide his time. I could have had more time with him if it wasn’t for her. But then again I’m just being unfair. It’s not her fault that he passed away. It’s not even her fault that he passed away quicker than he would have otherwise. Hell, she probably added a few years onto his life.
“He’s my best friend,” I snap at her, unintentional but rude nonetheless. “Why wouldn’t I show up?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it.” Great. Now I’m a jackass.
“No, I’m sorry. It hasn’t exactly hit me yet, so I’m not dealing with this well.”
I can feel my jacket being tugged again. “Grampa, your lemonade.” Great, now in the midst of coping with my best friend’s death I’ve got to think up some random task to keep my grandson out of my hair.
“Thanks,” I somehow choke out and grab the glass from him.
“Are you hungry?” he asks.
I smile big for him. “Absolutely.” I’m not. He smiles back and runs off again. Good, I didn’t feel like smiling so much at the moment. And now I get a chance to deal with the widow again. Wonderful. “So,” I just throw out, unable to think of anything relevant to say. “How you holding up?” Good, that’s good. That sounds about like what I’m expected to say to the widow.
“It’s hard,” she responds. “I’m used to waking up with him in the bed every morning. Now that he’s not there, well it’s just hard.” She has no idea. She didn’t know him like I did. No wife can ever understand her husband like his best friend can. I knew every detail about him. I knew what he wanted to be when he grew up even before he had a chance to grow up. I was there after his first date. I was there after his first failed relationship. I was his best man. Not just anyone, I was the best man. She didn’t know how hard this was. I knew how hard this was.
“I’ll bet,” I droll out. Someone comes up beside the widow and begins talking to her, taking her aside to talk between just the two of them. Good. I wasn’t in the mood for idle chat. Why would I be though? It’s insulting to think I’d want to talk about anything today.
My jacket’s being tugged again. That must mean he’s back. I look down and there’s my grandson once more, this time carrying a small plate with a sandwich on it. “What cha got there?” I ask him.
“I made you a sandwich,” he tells me. Turkey, mayo, swiss, a little pepper, on a hoagie roll. My best friend’s favorite sandwich. Simple, yet elegant. Kid’s got good taste at least, even if it was a lucky guess on his part.
“Thank you.” This time, I find myself genuinely thankful. “Thank you very much.” I take the sandwich, smile at him again, and ruffle his hair a little. He smiles back. “Give me a second, okay? Grandpa’s gonna go talk with his friend for a minute.” I wouldn’t expect this child to understand what I’m talking about, but somehow he does and gives me some space, so I take this opportunity to address my friend, just the two of us.
“How you holdin’ up?” He would have laughed at that if he wasn’t dead. I fidget with the sandwich in my hand. “Sandwich?” I ask him, to no response of course. I set the sandwich down on a table nearby along with the lemonade I’ve neglected to drink. “I don’t know what to say here old friend.” I fiddle with my tie. I hated wearing suits. He would have laughed at me having to wear a suit if he wasn’t dead. “You remember a few years back?” I’m talking to the corpse of my dead friend. I’ve become senile. “You remember when we agreed to live another ten years? I said it was impossible, and you said that if I died before then, you’d owe me a Coke. Well it seems that you won’t be owing me a Coke.” Yeah, he definitely would have laughed at that. I’ll miss that laugh. I’ll miss him. “Thanks a lot for everything you’ve done for me over the years. You were always my best mate. I wouldn’t have made it this long if you hadn’t made it easier to age gracefully.” I’m beginning to tear up now. I feel somewhat ridiculous, an old man starting to cry. I haven’t cried since third grade, and I’m beginning to cry now. At least I saved it until a time when it really counted. “Goodbye…Kyle.”
A hand comes up besides mine and grabs my pinky. “Grampa? You ready to go?” He really isn’t such a bad kid I suppose. I look down at him and smile weakly.
“Yeah. Yeah I think I’m ready.” I give one last look around the room, checking to see if there is anything left worth hanging back for. Seeing nothing, we walk out of the room.
“Grampa, what was your friend Kyle like?”
“He was the greatest friend I ever had, and nothing will ever change that.” I look down at the kid again and smile. “C’mon, enough sad talk for now. How ‘bout I take you out for some ice cream and tell you about the time me and Kyle got thrown out of our senior prom.” My friend would have laughed at that story again. I’m gonna miss him.
The Folks is a one act I wrote around the same time as The Weekenders, though with a much different theme. I figured, what if I wrote a sticom about the elderly instead of teenagers? Well, the result was The Folks, best thought of as a pilot for a sitcom that will never be. Enjoy!
By Chris Pranger
Jack: Jack is very laid back and content with his life all around. Nothing bothers him and constantly finds himself calming the other guys down or solving their problems. He’s also most likely to be leading the pranks.
Jerry: Jerry is paranoid that everything is out to kill him and that he is going to die sooner than later. Absolutely everything: his health, the government, and everyone else in the world. Still, he loves his wife, Dolores, and his best friend, Jack.
Chuck: Chuck is a war hero and he makes sure that everyone knows it. Exactly what war is unsure of, along with what he did while in that war, but he still goes on and on about it. He’s constantly complaining about the younger generation and thinks they should all enlist to get some backbone. Only Jack can calm him down. Oh, and he has a mustache.
Barbara: Young at heart and attractive by elderly standards. Loves antiques and works at a shop selling them. Chuck has a crush on her but can’t seem to calm down enough to tell her this. Regardless, she puts up with the three when they come in to chat.
Dolores: Jerry’s wife. She doesn’t much like going out with the three on their outings so she’s content just staying home and recording soap operas and premium channel movies. She has a library of hundreds of recorded on VHS tapes.
Act 1: Scene 1:
Setting: Drug store pharmacy counter. Two elderly gentlemen, (Jerry and Chuck), are sitting in the corner on chairs provided while a third, (Jack), walks up to the counter. The place is packed with teenagers skipping school.
Teen 1: Hey guys, check out the geezers over there. (Motions towards Jerry and Chuck). Probably here for heartburn medication or something.
Teen 2: Yeah, or for some laxatives.
Chuck: (Quietly to Jerry). He won’t do it, he’s gonna chicken out.
Jerry: (Quietly back). Nah, he’ll do it alright.
Jack: (Walks up to the counter to speak with the pharmacist. He begins talking rather loudly). Excuse me, miss?!
Pharmacist: Hello sir, how can I help you?
Jack: Yes, I need to buy a package of condoms right away!
Pharmacist: (Slightly taken aback). Oh. Alright then. Any particular brand sir?
Jack: What? Brand?! No dang it, these aren’t for me; they’re for all these younguns hanging around here! All of them having their underage, unprotected sex and such!
Pharmacist: (Blushing slightly). Okay then, will Trojan brand be alright with you then?
Jack: Trojan brand?! Gosh darn it, we didn’t care about brands when I was a teenager! We didn’t even have sex back when I was a kid! All we had was the stork and that’s the way we liked it dang nabbit!
Pharmacist: (Now very flustered. Hands Jack a box of condoms). Here you are sir, have a pleasant day I guess…
Jack: (Takes the box and viciously tears it open and turns around). You kids and all your sex! You’re ruining this world, you know that?!
Teen 1: Um, I’m not doing-
Jack: Shut yer yap you hoodlum! (Takes a condom out of the box and forcefully gives it to the kid). Here! Maybe this will keep you from damaging the future! We don’t need more kids like you! (Turns to the teen’s friend). Or you either for that matter! (Forcefully gives him a condom, too). Every last one of ya! (Walks down the line and forcefully gives condoms to teenagers). One for you and you and you especially! And that goes for you at the counter too, missy! (Turns towards Jerry and Chuck. Both are holding their sides laughing. Jack finally breaks character and busts up laughing as well as he walks over to them). So guys, how’d I do?
Jerry: Bonus points for using the term “dang nabbit”. (The three howl with laugher. No one else in the store has any idea what’s going on at this point. Roll opening credits).
Act 1: Scene 2:
Setting: Station wagon. Jack is driving; Jerry is in the passenger’s seat. Chuck is in the back. The three are still laughing themselves silly.
Jerry: Hey Jack, did you get a good look at the pharmacist’s face when you started yelling at the kids?! It was priceless!
Chuck: That was nothing compared to how red she got when you threw a rubber over the counter at her! I can’t believe you did that!
Jack: Hey, you guys double dared me, how could I say no to such a wager?
Jerry: (Rubbing tears from his eyes). Hehehe, alright then Jack, what’s up next?
Jack: First, we get some grub. Then, I say we head on over to the usual hang out spot.
Jerry: You don’t mean…?
Jack: Where else? The antique shop is the finest place to pass the time. Well, other than the park of course.
Chuck: The…antique shop, you say?
Chuck: You think that…um…
Jack: (Smiles). Yeah, Barb will probably be there.
Jerry: (Also smiles). Heh.
Chuck: (Nervously begins cleaning his shirt off). What? I can’t go see her like this! My mustache is all unkempt and my hair’s all over the place and this is an awful shirt. Nope, today is not the right day to say hello.
Jack: Every day is a good day to say hello.
Chuck: Well then we’ll just have to make a stop in at the house; it’ll give me time to get myself clean and think of something to say.
Jerry: Aw, but it’s already past 10! The day’s half over!
Jack: Jerry’s right; there’s no time to preen yourself, you’ll just have to be yourself.
Chuck: But I hate myself!
Jack: You’ll have some time to think of things to say while we go and grab some food. Which brings us to the next order of business; where are we eating?
Jerry: Oh I hate this part. I can never decide.
Jack: They’re all so good.
Jerry: No! Everywhere has something wrong with it!
Jack: Okay, McDonalds?
Jerry: Too greasy! I’ll clog an artery and die right here in your wagon!
Jack: Alright, how about the Mongolian Grill?
Jerry: What?! Too spicy! I’ll give myself an ulcer for sure!
Jack: China Moon?
Jerry: That one waiter always spits in my food, I just know it!
Jack: You think everyone spits in your food though.
Jerry: Well that’s because they do!
Jack: So it looks like we’ll have to go somewhere that you can’t taste the difference: McDonalds it is then.
Jerry: (Sighs and slumps back down in his chair). Fine, but I’m getting a salad.
Act 1: Scene 3:
Setting: McDonalds, (or restaurant along those lines). The three are standing in line in the dinning room, waiting to order.
Chuck: (Tapping his feet impatiently). Come on already Jack, make up your mind.
Jack: But everything sounds so good.
Jerry: Please hurry up, my heart is thinking about causing a stroke at any time from just being in here.
Jack: Oh calm down. Strokes aren’t caused by arteries anyway.
Jerry: Oh yes they are! I’ve read up on the matter. Strokes are caused when blockage in the arteries or hemorrhaging takes place, preventing oxygen from finding its way to the brain and causing severe damage to the brain and other parts of your nervous system.
Jack: Maybe a shock to your nervous system would relax you a bit?
Jerry: (Gets angrily flustered while Jack smiles to himself). Bah, what?! Oh you think that you’re, so funny, don’t you?
Jack: Well it’s because I am. Or at least funnier than Chuck over here.
Chuck: You don’t think I’m funny, huh? Oh I’ll show you just how funny I can be.
Scrawny Dork: (Talking to Chuck). Welcome to McDonald’s sir, what can I get for you today?
Chuck: (Looks over the menu). I don’t see anything about a senior citizen’s discount anywhere.
Jack: Oh I love this routine…
Scrawny Dork: I’m sorry sir, but we don’t have a senior citizen’s discount offered at this location.
Chuck: (Goes ballistic). What?! No senior discount?! But I worked hard to get this old!
Scrawny Dork: I’m sorry sir; we do have a terrific value menu though.
Chuck: Well do you have some sort of discount for veterans?
Scrawny Dork: Huh?
Chuck: You know, for veterans. For war heroes and so forth?
Scrawny Dork: I’m sorry sir; we don’t offer any special discounts for veterans either.
Chuck: WHAT?! I risked my life in the war so that dorks like you could be free to have disfiguring acne and the luxuries of this nation and this is the respect I’m given?!
Scrawny Dork: Believe me sir, I mean you no disrespect.
Chuck: No disrespect?! I hardly think so!
Jack: Hey Chuck, which war did you fight in?
Chuck: The big one!
Jack: World War II?
Chuck: Around there.
Chuck: Around there, too! (Turns back towards the scrawny dork). I’m old and I demand free stuff!
Scrawny Dork: Um…I’ll go ask my manager what we can do for you… (Hurriedly turns around and runs off in search of his manager).
Chuck: (Turns back around towards Jack and Jerry, who are both laughing). Can you believe that kid?
Jack: Hahaha, well Chuck, you certainly have shown that you are a funny guy.
Chuck: What? I was gonna do a ventriloquist act with my burger to prove it.
Jerry: So that there…?
Chuck: That was me pissed! I’m a vet, I demand a little respect! (Jack and Jerry begin laughing again).
Scrawny Dork: (Comes back holding some coupons). This is the best I could do sir. (Hands Chuck the coupons). Here are some coupons that should save you some money for this and future visits to our restaurants.
Chuck: Well, it’ll have to do. (Looks at the menu quickly). I’ll have a number six. And remember to enlist once you’re done filling this order.
Scrawny Dork: Right away sir. (Looks over to Jerry). And what can I get you for today?
Jerry: (Begins looking noticeably irritated and uncomfortable). What can I get? Hmm…what can I get? Do you have lactose-free yogurt?
Scrawny Dork: I’m not entirely sure.
Jerry: Could you find out for me?
Scrawny Dork: I’ll go grab the nutrition information guides. (Walks towards the back again).
Jack: Why do you need lactose-free yogurt?
Jerry: I’m lactose intolerant!
Chuck: You are not.
Jerry: Yes I am! I get gassy every time I have dairy products!
Jack: Jerry, you’re old, you’re always gassy. That’s one of the best perks to being old. We can break wind any time that we want to.
Jerry: Alright, then break wind right now!
Jack: Well I don’t want to.
Scrawny Dork: (Returns with the health guide). Um, it doesn’t look like we have any lactose-free yogurt.
Jerry: I’m not entirely in the mood for yogurt anymore anyway. What sort of sugar-free options are open to me, as a diabetic?
Jack: You’re not a diabetic!
Jerry: Well I could get it at any time! I have to be careful.
Jack: You’re one of the lucky few who doesn’t have diabetes.
Chuck: (Grunts and crosses his arms).
Jack: Enjoy that freedom and live a little.
Jerry: Diabetes is nothing to play around with. It could strike at any time!
Jack: You’ll probably die sooner than you contract diabetes at this point.
Jerry: (Becomes incredibly flustered and aggravated). BWAH?! I could die at any time! This is exactly why I have to be careful about what I eat! (Turns towards the scrawny dork). I will have a salad, not too much salad dressing, oh, can you check if that dressing is fat free?
Scrawny Dork: (Looks at the info). The salad dressing is 97% fat free.
Jerry: Hmm, that’s just not good enough. Better not risk it, no dressing on that salad. And along with it I will have one ice water.
Scrawny Dork: Okay, and for you sir? (Turns towards Jack).
Jack: Heh, I’ll have a Big Mac.
Scrawny Dork: Would you like me to check the nutritional facts for that sir?
Jack: What? Heck no I don’t. It’s two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, on a sesame seed bun! That’s nutrition for ya! Keep all the grease and add some extra if you find it lying around. And here, (Hands the kid a twenty), this is for putting up with some folks like us.
Scrawny Dork: Sir, I can’t accept this, it’s company policy.
Jack: Dang it, do you really want to get me started? Go buy yourself a new haircut or something with it, meet a nice girl, settle down and make some grandchildren already. (Grabs the kid and pulls him in close). Hurry, there’s no time, you could wind up like us of all people; bitter, paranoid, senile…and hungry!
Scrawny Dork: (Unsure as to how to respond). So that was a number 6, a dry salad, an ice water and a Big Mac?
Jack: Oh, hold the pickles.
Scrawny Dork: Right.
Act 2: Scene 1:
Setting: Antique store. Naturally there are dozens of antiques everywhere. The place is dead other than one woman browsing around in the back. A woman, (Barb), is behind a center counter. Jack, Jerry and Chuck walk in the front door.
Jack: Hiya Barb!
Barb: Well hey guys! Come to hang out again or do you plan on actually buying something today?
Jack: Well, being a collector of fine and rare antiquities as I am, I’m on a quest to find the very best you have to offer. Anything new arrive today?
Barb: As a matter of fact three ancient specimens just came in.
Jack: I’ll have you know that we’re very young for our age.
Barb: I’ll bet. Hey Chuck, come in from the door already and be social for a change, eh?
Chuck: (Nervously looks up and awkwardly walks over to the counter). Oh, uh, hey Barb. How…how are you doing, um, today?
Barb: Ug, tired. I don’t get nearly enough sleep.
Jack: Well with the wave after wave of customers you see in here I’m sure you’ve hardly any time to even think.
Barb: Tell me about it. There actually are times when people rush the counter demanding all sorts of oddities and such. We had a guy come in about an hour ago looking for a table with a glass top. He kept asking for specific information about it, I blame that darn antique road show that’s on TV now. Kept wanting to know the history about it. It’s a table, it looks nice, you place things on it, end of history.
Chuck: (Laughs suddenly and awkwardly). Muhaha, good one Barb.
Jack: Well I guess we’ll just have a look around then. Come on Jerry.
Jerry: (Covering his face). Come where?
Jack: To look around and, (noticing that his hand is covering his face), oh for heaven’s sake what is it this time?
Jerry: There is dust and allergens all over this store! My allergies could flare and my throat could close up and then where would we be?!
Jack: We’d be at the hospital, another of my favorite hang-out spots.
Barb: Oh that’s right, sorry Jerry I completely forgot. (Reaches under the counter and pulls out a dust/pollen mask and hands it to Jerry). Here ya go.
Jerry: (Quickly puts it on and breathes deeply). Oh my, thanks Barb. (Walks off with Jack into the store).
Jack: And now we see if Chuck can actually talk without our assistance. This should be fun to listen to. (He and Jerry walk behind a cabinet and wait to listen).
Chuck: (Smoothing his hair over). So Barb, how’s life going?
Barb: Well, as I said, just tiring. I just can’t find the time to sleep anymore.
Jack: (From behind the cabinet). You could sleep with Chuck! (Jerry grabs Jack’s mouth and silences him as they both begin laughing quietly).
Chuck: (Nervous and flustered). Um, I think he means that, um…
Barb: Is there something bothering you Chuck?
Chuck: Me? (Finds his false courage). Oh no, nothing troubles me anymore. They teach you that in basic training.
Jack: (Smacks himself). Oh no, he’s leading with war talk…
Chuck: I’ve learned how to actually grab a man by the throat and tear out his voice box. (Acts this out on the woman passing by). KIYA!
Woman: Well I never!
Barb: Chuck, don’t kill the few customers I have, please. Is there something I can help you with ma’am?
Woman: Yes actually, could you help me with something in the back.
Barb: Sure. (Walks out from behind the counter). Chuck, this will only take a second. (Walks off while talking with the woman. Jack runs out from behind the counter quickly over to Chuck).
Jack: No no no, you have to be smooth. Women don’t want you to show them how to kill a man; they want to see that you can cry, that you have a sensitive side. Anybody can walk in and tear out her customer’s throats, prove that you’re more than that.
Chuck: I hardly think that just anyone can tear out a man’s throat; it takes years of training and-
Jack: Shush. Be more sensitive. (Sees that Barb is coming back, so he runs and hides again).
Barb: Sorry ‘bout that; looks like the woman needs some more time to decide. What were we talking about?
Chuck: Um, I was telling you about, um…the harsher sides of war. Sometimes out there in the battlefield, even though there are soldiers all around, you just feel alone and need a hug… (Attempts his hardest to cry or at least look like he’s crying).
Jack: (Hangs his head is shame at this). Oh Chuck, Chuck, Chuck…
Barb: Is that so?
Chuck: It’s rough sometimes. (Motions for Barb to hug him while pretending to cry).
Barb: Well then it’s a good thing you have friends as close as Jack and Jerry.
Chuck: It’s true. Where would I be without them? (Continues pretending and still pleading for a hug).
Woman: I think I’m ready now. (Chuck grabs her and hugs her). You, unhand me at once! (Chuck looks up and realizes that he grabbed the woman).
Barb: Chuck, I can see that you are indeed emotionally withdrawn but please leave my customers alone.
Chuck: (Lets go of the woman quickly, backs away and clears his throat). Herm herm, I’m terribly sorry miss.
Woman: I’m sure you are! First you attack me then you molest me! Unheard of for a man your age!
Barb: (Smiles at this). Well, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to help her. (Walks off with the woman. Jack comically rushes Chuck and hugs him around the waist).
Jack: I didn’t know you cared!
Chuck: (Pushes Jack off). Get, get off me!
Jack: Okay, just be yourself, but if you find yourself talking about something boring, like the war…
Chuck: The war is far from boring! There is a rich history to the war!
Jack: Right, war, woopie! (Sarcastically waggles his thumbs in the air). But for someone more sensitive, like Barb, just don’t talk about it for now. Okay?
Chuck: I’ll try. (Sees that Barb is coming back). Gah, go, hide! (Jack turns back and runs off to hide again). So, did she find what she wanted this time?
Barb: Nope, still can’t make up her mind I guess. So, where were we?
Chuck: Well, uh, you tell me…?
Barb: I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that you were talking about the war.
Chuck: (Unthinkingly begins talking about the war again with pride). Oh right. Well, the war was raging on for years and years and I grew from a soft little boy and into a ruggedly handsome man and…
Chuck: And uh…(Realizes that he’s stuck in war-zone). I was wondering…if you’d, um, if you’d like to get dinner sometime.
Barb: Dinner? (Surprised by the offer but genuine). Yeah that sounds like it could be fun.
Chuck: Oh well that’s too bad really, sorry to have asked you and bothered you and…wait, yes?
Barb: Yeah. Gal’s gotta eat.
Chuck: But, I’m so boring and have nothing worth saying that you’ll want to hear!
Barb: You don’t have to talk, you can just listen. I’ve got plenty to say. Times have changed, women have opinions, too.
Chuck: But, but…
Barb: I know, it’s radical but it makes it easier on the men, not always having to think when it’s obviously not their strong point.
Chuck: (Smiles finally). So, when should we get together?
Barb: Well, I usually eat dinner during the evening, so how about 6 pm?
Barb: Sure, I’ve got time tonight.
Chuck: Um, um…
Jack: (Yells from behind the cabinet). He’ll pick you up around 6!
Barb: (Yells back). Thanks Jack! (Turns to Chuck). You thank that friend of yours.
Woman: Okay, this time I’m sure I want to blue one.
Barb: I’ll go grab it. (Starts to walk towards the back again). Remember, tonight at 6, okay?
Barb: Okay. (Walks off).
Chuck: Hah! Haha! (Grabs the woman and dances her around). She said yes! She said yes! Oh this is…(drops the woman with a thud). This is terrible!
Jack: (He and Jerry come out from hiding). How so?
Chuck: (The woman gets up seeming very confused and walks off towards the back of the store). How so? How am I going to be able to get through this thing without her hating me by the end?!
Jerry: Calm down Chuck.
Chuck: I am calm!
Jerry: Think of your blood pressure!
Jack: No, forget that, don’t worry about anything.
Chuck: How can I not worry now?!
Jack: We need to get you out of here. (Patronizingly). You wanna go feed some ducks? (Chuck sheepishly nods). Okay, let’s go feed some ducks.
Act 3: Scene 1:
Setting: A duck pond that has no ducks, just geese. There is a bench where the three are sitting and throwing bread to the geese. There is a sign that says “Do Not Feed the Ducks”.
Jack: (Casually tosses bread to the geese). Do you feel any better Chuck?
Chuck: A little, but not much.
Jack: Jerry, how’re you doing over there?
Jerry: (Jerry is off by himself being surrounded by a flock of geese. He is madly waving his arms around). Get back you disease-infested pillows! Jack, help me!
Jack: Ah, isn’t that cute? They like him.
Jerry: Jack? (The birds close in). Jack!
Jack: Chuck, don’t look at it as a problem, just look at it as life. Just relax about it.
Chuck: How can I relax about it? This may be my last chance to ever find someone. I’m not exactly young you know.
Jack: No you’re not. None of us are. And that’s exactly why you shouldn’t worry. You’re going for broke, the only way to live a life to its fullest.
Chuck: But there’s a good chance that she’ll resent me by the time the check comes.
Jack: Well, you can’t think that way. I forbid it. If she didn’t like you at all she wouldn’t have agreed to this in the first place.
Chuck: This is ridiculous. In the war I was fierce, strong, unafraid. Now look at me.
Jack: Oh stop it with the war. You were a mechanic and you know it.
Chuck: A mechanic in the war!
Jack: Heh, see, you are a funny guy. You’ll be fine.
Park Authority: (Walks up to the three. He’s pretty young). Afternoon gentlemen.
Park Authority: (Tips his hat). How are you folks feeling today?
Jack: (Smiles big). We’re doing fantastic!
Park Authority: Sorry gents, park regulations are posted on the sign over there.
Jack: (Takes a look over at the sign). That’s fine. As you can clearly see, these are geese, not ducks. Easy mistake though. Carry on. (Tosses bread at the geese).
Park Authority: Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to either cease feeding the birds or you’ll be forced to leave the park.
Jack: How long have you been working here?
Park Authority: About a week now, why?
Jack: Son, I’ve been coming to this park before your testicles dropped.
Park Authority: I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask you to leave.
Jack: Oh come on, we’re three old men who just want to find companionship within these lowly geese. Can you not see it in your heart to allow us to stay?
Park Authority: I’m sorry, but no.
Chuck: (Jack nods over to him solemnly). Son, did I ever tell you about how I was trained to reach under a man’s ribcage and pluck out his still-beating heart?
Park Authority: Um, no sir I don’t believe you have.
Chuck: (Stands up and acts out the scene as it unfolds). You see, the trick is to get up under the ribcage, then tear down, and take a bite while it’s still beating.
Park Authority: (Gulps). Is that so…?
Chuck: (Gets a crazy look in his eye). Yep. Nothing tastes quite like freshly pumped blood. (Begins to step towards the park ranger).
Park Authority: (Nervously turns). Carry on; you folks have a nice day. (Tips his hat and hurriedly walks away).
Jack: (Looks over at him and swaggers as he tosses more bread defiantly at the geese. The three start laughing). See Chuck, I think you’ll do fine tonight.
Act 3: Scene 2:
Setting: Jerry’s living room. He and Jack are sitting at a table playing checkers. His wife, Dolores, is sitting on the couch watching television.
Jerry: How you think his date’s going?
Jack: Hmm…(Moves his checkers). I’d wager it’s going rather well.
Jerry: Where did he decide to take her? (Moves his checkers, takes one of Jack’s pieces).
Jack: They went to the Sizzler. (Moves his pieces).
Jerry: You think it’s going well? (Moves his pieces and takes another of Jack’s).
Jack: Sure, why wouldn’t it be?
Jerry: Chuck’s crazy and not the best at conversation. (Moves his pieces). King me.
Jack: Oh he’s fine. Just leave him be. He’ll do fine.
Jerry: How do you figure?
Jack: It’s all a matter of waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. (Moves his last piece all around the board, taking all of Jerry’s pieces). That’s game.
Jerry: (Looks down confusedly at the board). How do you keep doing that?
Jack: You got any grub?
Jerry: Honey? Do we have any lasagna left?
Dolores: Go look for yourself.
Jerry: Well do you know if we have any or not?
Dolores: If we have any then it’d be in the fridge next to the pumpkin pie.
Jerry: Ooh, I forgot about the pie.
Jack: Pie it is.
Jerry: (The two stand up and begin walking to the kitchen). I just don’t know about it all.
Jack: About what?
Jerry: Dating at our age. It just isn’t natural.
Jack: What? You’re kidding me. Why not?
Jerry: We could die at any time; why does it matter if we’re single or not when we die?
Jack: Never underestimate the importance of having someone there when you die. I think you’re too spoiled with your wife to understand how lonely the world can really be.
Jerry: Then you must never have been married. (Opens the fridge to find that the pie is uncovered). Ah, great, just great, someone neglected to recover the pie when they were done with it. (Points at Dolores). And I’d bet that someone was you.
Dolores: Well of course it was me. I’m the only other one who lives here; otherwise we have no-good pie-thieves breaking in randomly.
Jack: I couldn’t have said that better myself.
Jerry: But why’d you forget to cover the pie? It keeps it fresh and safe to eat.
Jack: It’s pumpkin pie, how dangerous could it be to begin with?
Dolores: I’m sorry, I was hungry and while I was getting a slice Days of Our Lives came back from commercial.
Jerry: But you record every episode!
Dolores: Yes but it doesn’t have the same effect when you re-watch it. It’s all about being caught off-guard in the moment.
Jerry: Then why do you tape them in the first place?!
Dolores: Because, you never know when you’ll doze off and miss critical pieces of information vital to the plot. Also, I’m getting ready for when my memory fails me and I can re-enjoy all the episodes.
Jerry: How will you remember to re-watch them when your memory fails you?
Dolores: Oh that’s right; I forgot to tell you to remind me when the time comes. (Turns back to the TV). Oh, it’s back on! Jerry, be a dear and bring me some of that pie, would you?
Jerry: (Sighs and cuts a slice of pie for Dolores). Alright hon. (Doorbell rings). Wonder who’s at the door?
Jack: Could be the pie-thieves I’ve been hearing so much about.
Jerry: (Walks towards the front door, giving Dolores her slice of pie along the way. He opens the door. Chuck is standing outside with a black eye, fuming). Oh, it’s you.
Chuck: Of course it’s me. Who else would it be?
Jerry: (Chuck storms in angrily). Is your date with Barbara over already?
Chuck: Yes it’s over already. And hello Dolores.
Dolores: (Waves him off). Meh.
Jack: How’d you get the black eye, Chuck?
Chuck: Oh, this, Barb punched me. How’d you like that, eh? “It’ll be fine” he says…
Jack: Calm down and just tell me what happened.
Chuck: Okay. So, we were at China Moon…(Scene of Chuck and Barb sitting at a table in a nice restaurant fades in, Chuck and the others are narrating the events as they happen silently).
Jack: What happened to Sizzler?
Chuck: Didn’t think it would wow her enough. Anyway-
Jerry: And Chinese food would? (The characters at the table are getting impatient waiting for the story to begin).
Chuck: She hadn’t been there before and she likes trying new things, now be quiet. (Chuck and Barb begin talking casually, everything is exaggerated for the narration though). Anyway, we’re sitting down to eat after an inexcusable wait time, and the bus boy walks up-
Jack: (Waiter walks up). They prefer to be called waiters.
Chuck: Whatever, and we try and order. (Chuck and Barb order food). She gets some dainty female crap like a salad-
Chuck: And I ask to order some orange chicken. Well the guy tells me that they’re all out of orange chicken and that he’s sorry. (Waiter shakes his head and says he’s sorry, Chuck gets mad). I ask him, “How can you be out of orange chicken?!” (Chuck exaggeratingly asks this question to the waiter, using large hand gestures). And this disrespectful whelp looks at me and says “I’m sorry sir, but we’ve ran out of the orange chicken sauce.” (Waiter says this and bows). I look the kid in the face and explain that I’m an army vet and everything- (Chuck starts explaining this fact in all matter of ways, from getting up and saluting and marching around to pretending to tear a passer-by’s throat out, Barb is starting to laugh).
Jack: Oh no, not the army thing again.
Chuck: Absolutely! I served my country valiantly during the war!
Jack: Did it happen to be the Cold War?
Chuck: At times the temperature reached far below freezing but I assure you the war was quite heated! Anyway, (Chuck finishes “tearing” the woman’s throat out and sits back down in his chair), so the waiter then explains that ”There is nothing he can do and that he is terribly sorry and that he recommends the lemon chicken.” (Waiter says this with large gestures as well. At the end Chuck flips out and throws his napkin down). I tell him that I risked my life so that I had the opportunity to choose between orange and lemon flavorings and that he was a Fascist and I demanded to see the manager at once. (This scene plays out, the waiter bows apologetically and calls the manager over, who appears instantly). I told the manager the situation and he claimed that he was in the war and that I didn’t know the half of it. (Manager pretends to tear out the waiter’s throat to show how serious he is). So then we begin arguing about the war like gentlemen would, (The two start trying to tear each other’s throats out and strangling each other), and Barb stands up and punches me in the eye! (Barb stands up and clobbers Chuck in the eye, the frame freezes).
Jerry: (Scene switches back to Jerry’s house). She punched you?!
Chuck: Yes! Square in the eye! (Points at his eye).
Jerry: Well what did you do? (Scene switches back to the Chinese restaurant, still frozen in time). I’ve been through the war mind you, so what do you think I did?
Jack: So you started crying?
Chuck: (Chuck grabs his eye and sits down at the table, sobbing). Of course I did! I had been so nervous about the date and everything and then she ended up punching me, what could I do?
Jack: Well then what happened?
Chuck: Barb started laughing and patted my back and tried to make me feel better. (Barb does this in the scene).
Jack: So at this point you’re an emotional wreck?
Chuck: Yes, at this point I still feel terrible and can’t stop blubbering. (Chuck keeps looking up periodically from the table while crying and throws his hands up in the air as if to ask “why?!”). Well Barb just laughs and looks at me and tells me that it was the most fun she’d had in years and told me to pick her up tomorrow night, except this time she’s picking the restaurant and then she kissed me on the cheek! (Barb kneels down and pats Chuck’s hand, he looks up and stops crying and smiles as she kisses his cheek, stands up and waggles her finger at the “I’m picking the restaurant part,” then walks off).
Jack: Well that’s great! Why are you acting like it’s so terrible?
Chuck: Well, I may have gotten myself banned from China Moon. (Manager frantically shakes his head and points off camera, screaming at Chuck and sending him away. The scene shifts back to Jerry’s house).
Jerry: What?! Great, now where are we going to eat on Tuesdays?
Jack: I thought you hated that place?
Jerry: I do Jack, but I’m a creature of habit. If you mess up my eating schedule then my stomach won’t know what’s going on and I won’t sleep for weeks!
Jack: You don’t sleep as it is.
Jerry: I do, too! It just takes a little while for me to get comfortable enough to sleep.
Jack: Well, overall I’d say today was a good day.
Chuck: How do you figure?
Jack: Chuck got a second date, I managed to become a bit more senile, and you’re not dead yet. (Points at Jerry).
Jerry: (Becomes flustered and nervous). Bwah, hah! Well don’t jinx it! The day isn’t over yet! (Looks around nervously).
Chuck: (Calms down a bit). I guess you’re right Jack.
Jack: Course I’m right. I’m too old and wise not to be right at this point. Now who’s hungry?
Chuck: I’m starving!
Jerry: I’m sure my blood sugar is getting low.
Jack: Good, let’s go out and get something to eat. (Thinks to himself). I’m thinking Chinese? (Chuck and Jerry both look at him angrily). What? (They begin pummeling him and laughing). Bah! I’m feeble, be gentle! (Fade to credits roll).