A Matter of Eighty Dollars

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

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

Douglby stops typing, deeply wounded.

DOUGLBY: Ouch.

HOST: Shut up. You know it’s true.

Douglby considers, shrugs in agreement, continues typing.

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

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

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

KNOCKING at the door.

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

Douglby answers the door. DAVE stands there, waiting.

DAVE: Douglby D. Douglby III?

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

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

DOUGLBY: So you *have* heard of it.

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

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

…I wrote it fifteen years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOUGLBY: Simulation?

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

DOUGLBY: I’m sorry?

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

Daves tosses the pages.

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

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

DOUGLBY: Uh-huh.

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

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

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

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

DAVE: That’s right.

DOUGLBY: Makes sense.

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

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

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

DOUGLBY: Of course. But, what’s next?

DAVE: Next?

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

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

DOUGLBY: Turn it off? 

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

DOUGLBY: I thought you said twenty.

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

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

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

Dave calls out to someone beyond the doorway.

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

Dave leaves.

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