A Complete Waste of Time

01. ON OUR PROGRAM TODAY (HECTOR’S)

STEVE: I’m Steve Arviso, and this is “A Complete Waste of Time.”

MUSIC: A SNATCH OF SOME UP-BEAT DIDDY.

STEVE: On today’s program, we’ll be speaking with Connie McGivens., a local barista and failed piano tuner; fish enthusiast Cyril Shenanigans; and Kyle DeWitt, local con-man and bookie.

But first, a message from our sponsor – Hector’s.

MUSIC: SENTIMENTAL PIANO MUSIC. UP, UNDER.

STEVE: Do you want produce at the lowest price possible? Did you forget your wife’s birthday again? Then stop by Hector’s Oranges and Flowers Boutique. Currently located by the First Street off-ramp in Santa Ana. Hector’s: we have oranges and flowers… and sometimes other things.

02. THE LAST WORD (w/ FINNEGAN HABERDASHER)

MUSIC: PEPPY, YET TERRIBLE SYNTH-ORGAN MUSIC.

FINNEGAN: Welcome back to “The Last Word.” I’m your host, Finnegan Haberdasher. Tonight’s last words come from–

SFX: KNOCKING AT THE DOOR.

Oh. Excuse me for one moment, folks.

SFX: MORE KNOCKING.

SFX: FINNEGAN STEPS AWAY, OPENS DOOR.

FINNEGAN: (off) Yes, I’m Finnegan Haberdasher. Yes, I know Anita Dickings. What’s this about–

SFX: BANG! A GUNMAN SHOOTS FINNEGAN, FINNEGAN DROPS DEAD.

SFX: THE GUNMAN FLEES, SPEEDS AWAY IN CAR.

MUSIC: PEPPY, YET TERRIBLE SYNTH-ORGAN MUSIC CONTINUES. BUT THEN…

SFX: THE GETAWAY CAR CRASHES.

SFX: POLITE APPLAUSE.

MUSIC: PEPPY, YET TERRIBLE SYNTH-ORGAN MUSIC PLAYS OUT FOR A BIT TOO LONG.

03. ON THE HOUR (7PM)

SFX: ANNOYING TICKING. UP, UNDER.

ULYSSES: Welcome back to “On the Hour,” the only program where it’s New Year’s Eve every hour, on the hour. I’m your host, Ulysses S. Scrimshaw.

At the tone, the time will be, precisely, 7 P.M. (a beat, then…) Aaaaand…

SFX: a silly toot of a horn.

ULYSSES: There you have it.

Please remember to keep your celebratory antics respectable. And please, drink in moderation. And if you feel this program may have felt inaccurate, please adjust your clock accordingly and replay this show until satisfied.

I was and still am Ulysses S. Scrimshaw, and this has been “On the Hour.” And we’ll see you again, in, oh, say, fifty-nine minutes.

Goodbye.

04. MAKE IT QUICK (ALAN WRENCH)

PORTER: Howdy there folks. I’m Porter House, and welcome to “Make it Quick.” We’re out here in the heart of Keepitdownnow, Wyoming to help today’s special guest, Mr. Alan Wrench. Seems our new friend got himself into quite a bit of trouble recently at the dog races. So, he called us up to… Oh, I think I see Mr. Wrench coming out of his house right now.

SFX: PORTER SHOOTS, KILLS MR. WRENCH.

PORTER: Wasn’t that a beaut?

Welp… that’s all she wrote for this episode of “Make it Quick.” I’m Porter House. And remember, you never hear the one with your name

SFX: PORTER FLEES, SPEEDS OFF IN CAR.

05. THE SOCIETY FOR THE PROLIFERATION OF MORSE CODE

MUSIC: A LAID BACK LOUNGE MEDLEY. UP, UNDER.

SFX: APPLAUSE.

HOST: Wasn’t that brilliant, folks? Absolutely brilliant. And we’ll be right back with even of that which I have previously stated to be – and most certainly continues to remain – brilliant.

But first, a word from today’s sponsor – The Society for the Proliferation of Morse Code.

MUSIC: MEDLEY CUTS OFF.

SFX: THE BEEPING AND BOOPING OF SOME NONSENSE IN MORSE CODE.

MUSIC: LAID BACK LOUNGE MEDLEY RETURNS. UP, UNDER.

HOST: Wise words. Very wise words, indeed, from our friends down at SPMC.

Welcome back, everyone. I’m your host, Thumb Upmybutt. And we now return you to another sixty-minutes of uninterrupted screaming and wailing.

MUSIC: MEDLEY CUTS OFF.

SFX: PAINED SCREAMING AND WAILING OF COUNTLESS DAMNED SOULS.

06. A MESSAGE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE

MUSIC: BLARING AND PRETENTIOUS “BREAKING NEWS” DIDDY.

SWEETLY: Good evening, I’m Fuhkme Sweetly. As chaos continues to engul our once great nation, the White House has released the following message in the hopes of bridging gaps, mending bridges, and generally stirring the pot.

MESSAGE: (recording) (assorted baboon sounds followed by silly snoring, a cuckoo clock, sawing wood, and a small, whistling steam locomotive

SWEETLY: Truly a bold and daring message for these challenging times.

I’m Fuhkme Sweetly, and this has been another crushing message from today’s White House. Goodnight, and try not cry too much.

MUSIC: BLARING AND PRETENTIOUS “BREAKING NEWS” DIDDY. UP, OUT.

07. THE UNTIMELY DEATH OF NATURE DOCUMENTARIAN BIFF WELLINGTON
BY WAY OF CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH

SOUNDSCAPE: BIFF silently eating a chicken salad sandwich as he stands in a small lake or pond, surrounded by only a lovely stretch of wilderness untainted by man’s hubris.

SFX: Biff chokes, drops dead with a little splash.

A long, uncomfortable silence…

08. ON OUR PROGRAM TODAY (THE SECOND PART)

STEVE: Unfortunately, that’s all we have time for today. Please join us next time, when we’ll be sure to disappoint you even more.

I’m Steve Arviso, and this has been a complete waste of time.

MUSIC: A SNATCH OF SOME UP-BEAT DIDDY. UP, OUT.

The Untimely Demise of David Alexander

STEVE speaks outside a suspect motel in some suspect corner of somewhere.

STEVE: I’m a mistake, and welcome back to “Who is This Guy, and Why Does He Think We Care?”.

Our next story this evening is, in a sense, utter fiction. In another sense, it never happened. But had it happened, we’re pretty sure this is how things played out if we wrote it.

The place, The Castoff, a small motel in a forgotten corner of Southern California. The subject, David Alexander, age thirty-five, a man of little consequence.

Photo of DAVID appears.

STEVE: (voice-over) The Castoff’s humble night-manager, David’s most notable accomplishment in his largely ineffectual life was actually the way in which it ended.

Cut to graphic photographic evidence of David’s graphic demise.

Unfortunately for David, due to the horrific, highly improbable manner in which he… I wouldn’t say “passed away,” because that greatly undersells the nightmarish torment that preoccupied David in his final moments. But needless to say, David had neither the time nor inclination to comprehend the absurdity of his own situation.

In fact, the frightening, chaotic, yet effortlessly graceful dance of the cosmos which was David’s death proved so improbable…

Cut to a photo of DR. PATEL doing whatever it is these sorts do in a university setting so as to appear busy.

…that a successful attempt by Dr. Urvi Patel, of the University of California Irvine, to approximate the odds of it even occurring – odds so mind-boggling, mind you, that I can’t even be bothered to offer a comedic approximation of how impressively absurd they really are…

Cut to a censored photo of Dr. Patel doing whatever it is these sorts do in a university setting so as to appear busy, only this time they’re nude.

…well, it drove the poor woman insane.

Cut to a censored photo of a much happier, still very nude Dr. Patel reciting poetry to a small, yet attentive class.

She now exists in a slight, yet perpetual state of depression, and teaches creative writing courses at a community college in Colorado.

Cut to Steve, still outside the motel.

STEVE: For the safety of others, the location of Dr. Patel’s research remains classified. Though, there are rumors it’s stored away in an evidence locker somewhere in Anaheim.

That said. Fortunately for us, though admittedly not so much for her, Mrs. Leticia Trevino was there to witness David’s… let’s say, “incident.”

A series of unflattering, wholly incriminating photos of TISH appears.

STEVE: (voice-over) A long-term resident of the motel where David had worked for some fourteen years, Tish’s statements to the police and reporters in the days, months, and even years after the incident faced heavy scrutiny. And in all fairness, it’s not hard to see why. Tish was, and still is, an admitted drunk. To this day, some three years after the incident, Tish can still be found scuttling about the motel at her leisure, walking up and down and all around the place, hair a mess, and always sipping from a seemingly bottomless thermos of whiskey. When asked by one reporter why she felt compelled to drink so much, Tish plainly and simply replied…

Cut to Tish uncomfortably speaking to camera.

TISH: I like whiskey.

Cut to Steve now in the motel parking lot.

STEVE: David, meanwhile, never had an opportunity to speak with reporters on account that he was dead. But had he somehow the ability to speak from beyond the grave, David likely would have wanted to clarify a couple of things.

First, David would have corrected Tish’s claims that she found him a “weeping mess” in the motel parking lot. For one, he wasn’t crying. He was merely worked up over the rather emotional phone call he had just finished with his wife. If anything, they were the scattered few raindrops of the restrained, though highly emotional storm raging within David. And for another, had he been crying, which he most definitely was not. But had he been crying, it was because, as he had already explained to Tish, who subsequently downplayed this crucial bit of information in most of her interviews…

A series of photos of an understandably miserable woman (DENISE) appears.

STEVE: (voice-over) …David’s wife, Denise, had just then threatened to leave David and take their two children upon her discovery that David had squandered their meager savings on a failed microbrewery.

Cut to security footage of David drinking with Tish while on the clock.

And as David bared his soul in that motel parking lot, Tish drank. And as she drank, she thought about her own failed marriage. How she chose drinking and a surprisingly lucrative online poker career over her own husband and children. It had worked out pretty well for her, all things considered. Sure, she was living alone in a motel and unknowingly had a large mass growing on her liver. But even after child support, she was still clearing a cool three-grand every month, which had to count for something, right?

And so, halfway through a heartfelt and utterly tearless recounting of how he had screwed up his whole life by following his dreams, Tish cut-off David with a seemingly harmless question:

Cut to Tish trying to mind her own damned business.

TISH: All I said was, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Cut to Steve, now loitering about the motel.

STEVE: This brings us to the second thing that David would have clarified regarding his death: just how excruciatingly painful and frightening the whole ordeal truly was.

If you take Tish at her word, you come away believing David’s death was instantaneous, or close enough. One moment he was alive, the next he was not.

And it’s a story that has proved a comforting thought for David’s family, especially Denise, who, after all this, eventually forgave David’s flagrant disregard for his family’s financial future.

Sadly, Tish’s story simply isn’t true.

Cut to Steve in a motel room occupied by several disinterested and distracted occupants.

STEVE: Now. In all fairness, from Tish’s perspective, one can clearly understand why she saw David’s death as instantaneous.

Steve melts a little wax figure of a man in a spoon with a lighter.

Again, one moment David is standing in front of her, carrying on about his failed marriage and poor life choices. And then a moment later, David is little more than a pile of bones and clothes soaking and floating in the liquefied mess that was once his own flesh.

Steve gestures at the melted man in the spoon.

You see, Tish’s question had the unintended consequence of triggering, deep within David’s brain, the exact sequence of synapses–the precise chemical cacophony, if you will–required for the human body to self-destruct.

Cut to various medical science-y photos.

STEVE: (voice-over) In a moment so rare it drove Dr. Patel to write listless and pedantic poetry about it for the rest of her life, David seized, in a manner of speaking, on the most horrific thought imaginable by the human mind. And while nobody has dared to replicate David’s findings to ensure the scientific accuracy of it all, everyone has mostly come to agree it must have been something particularly spooky. The argument here being that nothing capable of liquefying the human body, if not instantly, then at least as instant as the human mind can perceive it, could possibly be as banal as your childhood sweetheart, and mother of your children, leaving you forever.

Cut to disturbing historical photos and illustrations of executions via blood-thirsty kangaroo rats.

Nor could it be as silly as having one’s genitals slowly removed by way of a small, rabid mammal surgically attached to them. This is, of course, done in such a way that the devouring of the genitals in a slower, more roundabout fashion is the preferred and surely more obvious manner of escape to even a creature as intellectually deficient as a moderately starved, intoxicated kangaroo rat.

Cut to Steve shambling awkwardly out of the motel room.

STEVE: To accurately describe David’s death requires details so outlandish that nobody would ever take them seriously. In fact, most reporters who initially interviewed Tish found the whole thing to be rather silly despite the obvious puddle of human goo carted away by local officials.

Thus the best description we can offer that concisely yet safely encapsulates the grisly nature of the equally untimely demise of Mr. David Alexander is this:

Cut to security footage of David literally melting into goo in front of a mildly confused, mostly annoyed Trish.

STEVE: (voice-over) Imagine a life-sized figure of a man crafted from lasagna melting beneath the heat of the midsummer sun, with its pulpy mess of tomato and chunky, gooey globs of meat and ricotta cheese slushing off in chunks, steadily revealing a skeleton that is, more or less, screaming in such a way that sounds like a frankly poor rendition of New Edition’s classic hit, “Mr. Telephone Man,” and all while gargling with Alfredo sauce.

It was a frightful mess, to say the least.

Cut to Steve inconspicuously walking away from the motel as several police cruisers arrive, lights flashing.

STEVE: As for how Tish’s view of this conflicts with David’s, simply imagine all this happening in slow motion. And just as the nightmare-inducing image of a man turning into what the bottom of a dumpster behind an Italian restaurant looks like is forever burned into your mind’s eye, slow it down several steps further.

Cut to Tish still trying to mind her own damned business.

STEVE: (voice-over) Three days after the incident, yet another reporter from yet another newspaper, disturbed by the rather enthusiastic and flippant manner in which Tish spoke, asked Tish how someone could carry on with their life as if they hadn’t witnessed something so horrific.

TISH: (shrugs) I like whiskey.

Ugh! Ugh! I’m Dying, You Idiot!

Steve addresses the audience.

STEVE: Good evening. And to those of you just joining us: good evening.

Welcome some of you to the next part in our eleventy-part series entitled, “A Complete Waste of Time: Or, A Modern Post-Modern Exploration of the Pointlessness of Wasting Time.”

Tonight’s piece: “Ugh! Ugh! I’m Dying, You Idiot!”

Death: what is it? Nobody’s quite sure, really. Scientists, for example, believe Death to be the point at which all things – babies, puppies, and, yes, even dear, sweet gram-gram – cease to be, which I think we can all agree is a bit of a bummer.

Nonetheless. Like a trial to a local newspaper or magazine that we most certainly never would have signed up for if given a say in the matter, Death comes for us all.

Sometimes, Death comes like a thief in the night…loud, chaotic, and wholly inconsiderate. Such was the case for Cecil Cecilson of Plainfield, Indiana…who had the misfortune of coming-to as an unknown, yet shockingly skilled prostitute proceeded to remove one of his kidneys right there on the tile floor of a motel bathroom.

Other times, Death is more playful trickster than some unseen, terrifying constant and inevitable conclusion of biological existence. Such was the case for Chlamydia Lapierre, of Fontana, California, the unwed widow of a small ficus plant who suddenly found herself reduced to two dimensions following her regular Tuesday afternoon shift at Classy Lou’s Erotic Dancing Emporium.

Tonight, we humbly invite you to laugh into the abyss, to embrace the all-consuming madness that comes from knowing that, one day, you, and all that you hold dear, will, for all intents and purposes, be scrubbed clean from the pavement of existence. And in some highly unfortunate cases, this may prove to be quite literal.

And for precisely those very reasons, on tonight’s program, we shall stoop so low as to speak with Connie McGivens, a local barista and failed piano tutor; fish enthusiast, Cyril Shenanigans; and Kyle Dewit, local con man and bookie.

But first, a complete waste of time.

I Was Unaware

STEVE sits uncomfortably and uncomfortably close to the HOST.

HOST: Welcome back to The Nightly Chill. Tonight, we’re speaking with an idiot about poetry. (to STEVE) Steven?

(Note: Steve speaks in a measured, hammy, yet melodramatic fashion.)

STEVE: Poetry, that whore. All breathy pauses, caked in mixed metaphors. A drunken, discarded book sobbing onto the page. Easily mistaken for something more. (sighs a heavy sigh) I wouldn’t be caught near the stuff.

HOST: (to STEVE) Go away now.

STEVE: Really?

HOST: Yes.

Silence. Then…

Steve goes away.

(to LISTENER) That concludes tonight’s program. I’m a mistake born unto this world, and this has been a complete waste of time.

No Checks Accepted

CUSTOMER buys a pack of gum.

CLERK: Would you like a bag for this?

CUSTOMER: I’m sorry?

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

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

CLERK: You look the type.

CUSTOMER: (considers this) Fair enough.

CLERK: Do you have a rewards card with us?

CUSTOMER: I don’t know.

CLERK: You don’t know?

CUSTOMER: Well, I certainly don’t remember.

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

CUSTOMER: Can’t say that I do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MANAGER joins Clerk at the register.

MANAGER: Is there a problem?

CUSTOMER: Yes, I think–

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

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

CUSTOMER: What sort of data are you even collecting?

Manager waves a hand at this.

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

CUSTOMER: Six-and-seven-eighths cents?

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

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

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

CUSTOMER: I’m sorry?

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

Manager takes Clerk hostage with a spray bottle.

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

CUSTOMER: (considers this) Goodbye.

Customer leaves.

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

THE END

Amber’s Story

SOMEONE speaks as they eat.

SOMEONE: My grandfather died when I was four. It wasn’t until a year or so later that I learned he was supposed to stay that way.

When I read the recent news story about the first natural death in over fifty years, I was skeptical too. Of course I was. This wasn’t the first story of it’s kind. It wasn’t even the first this year. Ever since the tragic 1968 pandemic, the world has latched on to any and every hope that maybe, just maybe the end is in sight – medications, genetic treatments, and, yes, stories like Amber Sawyer’s. And every year, we’ve been left disappointed.

The first such story that I could find in print is from 1973. Gloria Whitaker of Philadelphia claimed her thirty-year old sister, Dolores, passed away in her sleep. But unlike countless incidents of families – even entire apartment complexes and neighborhoods – devoured in their sleep during those first five years, Gloria awoke to a quiet house and her sister’s inanimate corpse still in bed. And according to the article, instead of running in terror, Gloria wept. But she wasn’t heartbroken about Dolores’ death, as they both had been with the passing and subsequent reanimation of their parents in ’71. No, she was overcome with joy at the thought that her sister might be the first of many to once more find rest after death.

Turns out, Dolores died from a ruptured aneurysm that mercifully damaged the part of the brain affected by Romero’s.

When Amber’s case started trending, I assumed the inevitable autopsy would show something similar – perhaps a head or brain injury she decided to sleep off instead of seeking medical attention. Perhaps drugs or alcohol were involved. This was a nineteen-year old college student, after all. In a world where the dead simply don’t stay that way, it’s not hard to feel a little bit immortal at that age.

But then… nothing.

Far as I know or can tell, Amber Sawyer is the first person to be medically declared dead of natural causes for the first time since 1968. There was nothing in her system. No aneurysm or head trauma. No defect. Nothing but a dead girl with a bad heart who stayed that way.

My mother is getting on in years now. She’s called me up every night since Amber’s story made its way to her local newspaper, sharing stories of a world where Amber’s death wasn’t news, only a fact of life. And like many others, she’s afraid of what will become of her when what should be the end comes, but doesn’t. She doesn’t want my father to keep her around in chains, like how her mother had kept her father, my grandfather, all those years ago. Every night she asks me to tell her that Amber’s story isn’t yet another news story that will come and go like all the rest, and every night I’m left unsure what to say.

When she asked me again last night, I replied with a question of my own: “Why did grandma keep grandpa around?”

And to her credit, she finally shared with me what grandma had said all those years ago: “God took him, but left the rest behind for me.”

I want to tell my mother that the world is a different place. That when she’s gone, she’ll stay that way. But I can’t. Because I’m unsure. Because I still have my doubts. Because I worry Amber’s story will be no different than Dolores’ or my grandfather’s. Because a not-so small part of me is scared of a world without her in it. Because in a world where the dead don’t stay that way, it can be that much harder to let go.

An uncomfortable silence. And then…

They continue with their meal without another word.

THE END

Thoughts and Prayers

MR. COCKENBELLS (MISTER), a sweaty, nervous wreck of a man, paces about a hospital waiting room. DR. NIBBLEPLEASER (DOCTOR) watches from the door.

DOCTOR: Mr. Cockenbells?

MISTER: Yes? Is it about my wife?

DOCTOR: No. I’m afraid it’s about your wife.

Mister strikes the doctor in such a way that, more or less, resembles a slap.

MISTER: Out with it, man!

DOCTOR: We’ve lost her, Mr. Cockenbells.

MISTER: You mean…

DOCTOR: Yes.

MISTER: My Brennifer?

DOCTOR: That’s right.

MISTER: She’s really…

DOCTOR: Mr. Cockenbells, are you slow or just stupid?

Mister considers this, and then continues on as if he hadn’t.

MISTER: How is this possible? I did everything exactly like they told me!

DOCTOR: Mr. Cockenbells… – may I call you “Mister”?

MISTER: I’d rather you not.

DOCTOR: Mister… I know that I’m only a well-educated and even more well-endowed doctor of medicine. But in my least humble opinion, sometimes these things just happen.

MISTER: “Just happen”?

Mister slaps Doctor yet again.

These things don’t just happen!

DOCTOR: Please stop hitting me.

Mister storms about the room, pulling out his phone and waving it about like an absolute ass.

MISTER: I posted her photo all over social media! I got eleven-and-a-half thoughts and prayers!

DOCTOR: Half?

MISTER: (shrugs) Brennifer’s ex-wife was still on the fence, last I checked. I thought it better to round up.

DOCTOR: Oh, that’s too bad.

MISTER: No, no. Brennifer could be a bit of a–

Doctor’s pager buzzes a little buzz. Mister looks about, utterly confused by the continued existence of a pager.

What the Hell was that?

Doctor reads the teeny, tiny screen on his teeny, tiny relic of the past.

DOCTOR: Good news, Mister.

MISTER: Good news? What could possibly be good news at a time like this?

DOCTOR: It seems we just found your wife.

MISTER: Found? What do you mean?

DOCTOR: Turns out she was in the cafeteria this entire time.

MISTER: I thought you said she was dead?

Doctor looks at Mister as if Mister were the stupidest, stupidest, good Lord, how stupid can you possibly be man he’d ever met, and, in fact, even considers letting Mister know just as much, but then doesn’t.

DOCTOR: I never said that.

MISTER: You said she was gone!

Doctor strikes himself in such a way that most certainly resembles a slap.

MISTER: I’m sorry. You’re right. I suppose I am being a little over-emotional.

DOCTOR: We all make mistakes, Mr. Cockenballs.

MISTER: I’m just happy to know Brennifer is alive and well.

Dr. Nibbepleaser looks at Mister once more.

DOCTOR: You “stupid, stupid, good Lord, how stupid can you possible be” man I’ve ever met. I never said she was alive.

MISTER: What?

DOCTOR: (chuckles) No. It appears she choked to death on a chicken salad sandwich.

MISTER: You can’t be serious.

DOCTOR: Deadly, I’m afraid. It’s a little known fact that the chicken salad sandwich is the third-deadliest sandwich on the planet – just ahead of peanut butter, and right behind knuckle.

MISTER: Is that true?

DOCTOR: In a sense.

MISTER: In what sense is that possibly true?

DOCTOR: It’s true in the sense that I made it up.

MISTER: What kind of hospital is this?

DOCTOR: Not a very good one, obviously. But it’s hardly our fault you and your wife were born too poor to afford proper insurance, now is it?

MISTER: (hangs head, nods) No, I suppose not.

DOCTOR: Good. And if you could please pick up your wife’s corpse before we have her towed, that would be wonderful.

THE END

Marriage License

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

WIFE: (off-stage) Sweetie?

HUSBAND: Yes?

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

HUSBAND: Not to my knowledge, Dear.

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

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

WIFE: Well…

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

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

He looks at this, then to her. 

HUSBAND: Must be Bill’s.

She also looks at this, but then to him.

WIFE: These are Bill’s?

HUSBAND: (considers this) Fairly certain.

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

HUSBAND: The night vision goggles might be mine.

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

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

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

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

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

WIFE: What?

HUSBAND: You went and spoiled your birthday present!

WIFE: My birthday present?

HUSBAND: Yes?

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

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

WIFE: No.

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

WIFE: (nods) I suppose that makes sense.

HUSBAND: Thank you.

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

HUSBAND: Pretty sure.

WIFE: Well, okay.

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

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

He returns to clipping his nails, then…

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

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

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

A completely different woman steps into the bathroom…

HUSBAND: Honey?

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

WIFE #2: Why?!

HUSBAND: What?

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

WIFE #2: “Why” that!

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

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

He looks at her, then to the door.

HUSBAND: Son of a bitch.

That Wasn’t Even Sexy

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

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

And now, the bit…

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

SOMEONE: Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

SOMEONE: Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

SOMEONE: Hi.

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

SOMEONE: Surprises await us both, I suppose.

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

SOMEONE: No.

CALLER: No?

SOMEONE: Did I say, “No”?

CALLER: Yes.

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

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

SOMEONE: Perhaps.

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

SOMEONE: Would you like to call back another time?

CALLER: May I speak with Throbbing Fistwood then?

SOMEONE: No.

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

SOMEONE: I was wondering that myself.

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

SOMEONE: Fairly certain.

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

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

CALLER: How so?

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

CALLER: You can help locate Throbbing Fistwood?

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

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

SOMEONE: Wonderful.

CALLER: Who should I ask for?

SOMEONE: Dick Squat-thrust.

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

SOMEONE: I certainly hope so.”

CALLER: Thank you.

SOMEONE: Goodbye.

CALLER: Goodbye.

They hang up.

Zeroes

A check-cashing place. SLITHER-O, some sort of “man-snake” or another, waits impatiently at the counter.

THE VOICE: (voice-over) In a check-cashing place in a bad part of town, Slither-O, former king of the Viperian, an ancient reptilian-like species from caverns beneath the surface of the Earth, has been left waiting for almost twenty minutes.

EMPLOYEE returns with paperwork and such.

EMPLOYEE: I’m sorry for the wait, Mister… (double-checks) Slither-O?

SLITHER-O: Yeah-huh?

EMPLOYEE: So, I just spoke with my manager…

SLITHER-O: Here it comes.

EMPLOYEE: I’m sorry, but I’m afraid we won’t be able to help you cash your check today.

SLITHER-O: And why the Hell not?

EMPLOYEE: Well. You are a, uh…

SLITHER-O: A what?

EMPLOYEE: You know…

SLITHER-O: No. I don’t know. So, why don’t you tell me?”

EMPLOYEE: Because you’re–

SLITHER-O: A man-snake?

EMPLOYEE: –a supervillain.

A beat.

SLITHER-O: Oh.

EMPLOYEE: Anyway. Mr. Slither-O. Because of your, let’s say, history with our, and other – many, many other – financial institutions…

SLITHER-O: Financial institution? This is a check-cashing place in a stripmall.

EMPLOYEE: True. But you were the one who went around robbing us. And I do mean us – this location – specifically. On several occasions.

Slither-O throws the equivalent of his hands into the air.

SLITHER-O: That was years ago!

EMPLOYEE: Also true. But because of that very true history, you’re officially banned from this location.

SLITHER-O: You’ve gotta be shitting me.

EMPLOYEE: And all our sister locations.

SLITHER-O: This is ridiculous! I served my time!

EMPLOYEE: Also, the whole “man-snake” thing.

SLITHER-O: Wow.

EMPLOYEE: Do man-snakes even have a valid form of identification?

SLITHER-O: I gave you my driver license.

EMPLOYEE: Yes, but aren’t man-snakes from like, Mars, or something?

Slither-O writhes in pain and groans a loud, frustrated groan.

SLITHER-O: My family and I are from Arizona! (beat) Well, the caverns beneath Arizona.

CUSTOMER #1 interjects themselves into all this for no good reason at all.

CUSTOMER #1: Hey! You can’t call it that.

SLITHER-O: It?

CUSTOMER #1: Snakemen. Not “man-snakes.”

SLITHER-O: Can we go back to how you called me a fucking “It”?

Yet another voice (CUSTOMER #2) thinks it a good idea to open their damned mouth at the worst time possible.

CUSTOMER #2: Snake-people, Dear.

CUSTOMER #1: What’s that?

CUSTOMER #2: They prefer to be called “snake-people.”

SLITHER-O: No. We don’t.

CUSTOMER #1: (to CUSTOMER #2) Oh, right. (to SLITHER-O) Sorry. Snake-people.

Slither-O blinks at the smiling pair of oddly shaped people in front of him.

SLITHER-O: I should have incinerated you people years ago.

Employee gasps, clutches at non-existent pearls.

EMPLOYEE: Excuse me?!

CUSTOMER #1: Did he just threaten us?

CUSTOMER #2: I think so.

EMPLOYEE: Fascist.

SLITHER-O: What the Hell is happening? Are you hairless-apes serious right now?

The hairless apes gasp a collective hairless, ape-like gasp.

CUSTOMER #1: Racist.

EMPLOYEE: Robberies are one thing to overlook, Mr. Slither-O. But I will not tolerate racists in my financial institution!

Employee slaps a big, red button labeled SECURITY ALARM. A high-pitched, rather annoying alarm shrieks.

The hairless apes eye the equally hairless Person of Scale. Slither-O looks about for a wall to bash his skull against a wall until he no longer can.

SLITHER-O: What’s next? Is some “caped-crusader” asshole gonna show up and–

CRASH! GNAT-MAN enters, shatters a big fucking pot atop Slither-O’s skull.

GNAT-MAN: Pot today, Slither-O!

Slither-O howls in excruciating, confused pain.

GNAT-MAN: Everyone okay?

HAIRLESS APES: (together) Thank you, Gnatman!

GNAT-MAN: I heard the alarm from the parking lot. (beat) I mean… my gnat-sense was, uh… buzzing?

SLITHER-O: Did you seriously just hit me with a potted plant?

GNAT-MAN: Stay down, Slither-O.

SLITHER-O: I think I have a concussion.

Gnatman cackles like a damned maniac. 

GNAT-MAN: Good thing they have a wonderful doctor down at City Jail!

SLITHER-O: This is such bullshit.

GNAT-MAN: It’s true, Mr. Potty Mouth. They keep Dr. Magician on retainer.

SLITHER-O: (rolls eyes) Huzzah.

GNAT-MAN: Though, I think he’s technically a registered nurse…

SLITHER-O: I don’t care.

GNAT-MAN: Anyway. The police will be here any minute to deal with you.

Police sirens bleat, pull into the stripmall.

DETECTIVE-MAN, an unseemly anachronism wearing a trench coat in the middle of a pleasant summer afternoon, enters with several OFFICERS.

DETECTIVE-MAN: We’re here to deal with Slither-O, Gnatman.

GNAT-MAN: Detective-Man! Just in time!

SLITHER-O: Me? I was trying to cash my goddamn paycheck before The Craptacular Jack-ass here–

GNAT-MAN: Hey!

SLITHER-O: –conveniently shows up “out of nowhere” and assaults me!

DETECTIVE-MAN: Assault? You’re a supervillain.

Slithero stomps what he calls feet and screams.

SLITHER-O: Retired! I’ve been retired for like, five years!

DETECTIVE-MAN: Yeah, yeah.

Detective-Man cuffs whatever passes for Slither-O’s wrists.

You can blog all about it while we process you down at the station.

Detective-Man and Officers escort Slither-o out the door.

SLITHER-O: “You’ll be hearing from my lawyer, Gnatman!”

GNAT-MAN: (to EMPLOYEE) So, uh…

EMPLOYEE: Yeah?

GNAT-MAN: Slither-O did try to rob you, right?

A beat.

EMPLOYEE: Yes?

GNAT-MAN: (shrugs) Good enough for me.