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f

A Decent Proposal with a Twist 

 

A

I'm putting it in there.

 

B

Jesus, look-

 

A

I'm putting it in there!

 

B

Raising your voice isn't going to make it right all of a sudden.

 

A

I'm not using any names.

 

B

That's not the point.

 

A

They don't even read this sort of thing. And even if they did somehow, they wouldn't think it's them, and if they did think it's them, they can't prove it's them with just different names.

 

B

You're not listening to me.

 

A

You think I'm screwing them over.

 

B

No, I think it's a shit story, not worth putting it in.

 

[pause]

 

A

It actually happened.

 

B

So what? That doesn't make it a good story.

 

A

Look, when you put 'based on a true story' anywhere, people are going to react to it differently. Their brains get all screwed up and they try to imagine everything they're reading or hearing or seeing really went down in the world they walk around in everyday.

 

B

I know-

 

A

Then you know it's not as boring as you say it is. A story that's maybe six out of ten automatically becomes eight out of ten if you can put the 'true story' sticker on it.

 

B

Got your marketing down.

 

A

I'm trying to feed the village.

 

B

And your charity case.

 

A

And you're what, my goddamn conscience? Where's this coming from? What don't you like about this? Think of all the lines we've spat out and released into the wild that was full of this rumour or that half-stat. Why is this one dragging you down? Why does the one story that happened to a friend of a friend suddenly got you so uptight?

 

[pause]

 

B

It didn't happen.

 

[pause]

 

A

What?

 

B

It's all lies.

 

A

You just told me... They just told me last night...

 

B

None of it. Not a bit.

 

[pause]

 

A

Are you trying to just screw with me now? You've been trying to stop me from putting it in-

 

B

If you put this story in - this fake story - then it's all going to go to hell.

 

A

What do you mean it didn't happen? Why did you tell me it? Why did they tell me it? What the hell is going on?

 

[pause]

 

B

We wanted to impress you.

[pause]

 

A

What?

 

B

We wanted to help you.

 

A

Help me? Impress me? I don't understand any of this.

 

B

We were worried about you. We are worried about you.

 

A

Is this an intervention all of a sudden?

 

B

We think you're sick. Not creepy or weird 'sick', but just ill.

 

A

You think I'm sick?

 

B

You haven't been yourself lately.

 

A

And lying to me about what happened - or really, didn't happen - to my oldest friend and their partner is supposed to help me?

 

B

It'll take your mind off your problem.

 

A

I don't even know what my problem.

 

B

Exactly. That's the problem. Even you don't know.

 

A

Now you're just screwing with me. At least admit that. If you can't admit that, then you're the one with mental issues.

 

B

This is bigger than both of us.

 

A

You sound like you're reverting to a science fiction movie cliche. Give me another line.

 

B

There's not much time.

 

A

Perfect. Want to double down?

 

B

We only have one chance.

 

[pause]

 

A

You get one more chance to say something even remotely relevant or I am shutting everything down with a quick snap of my switch.

 

B

It's the switch that always got you in trouble.

 

A

And am I in trouble now? Have you saved me from a fate worse than death by coming clean and stopping my reckless push for publication?

 

B

I'm trying to do a lot of things at once, so sometimes I fall into the hack.

 

A

A momentary lapse of reason.

 

B

Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.

 

A

And repetitiveness.

 

B

And repetitiveness.

 

A

Look-

 

B

I robbed and blinded your father. Write that.

 

A

I'm sensing a bit of contempt and exhaustion.

 

B

But you'll never sense the right thing. The thing that will change everything. We're trying to help you find it and it's just plain killing us.

 

A

Really? That bad?

 

B

You have to let me be hyperbolic once and a while. You have no idea what it's like to deal with a person such as yourself.

 

A

I deal with myself everyday. My successes and failures, my fine qualities and my shortcomings.

 

B

You can't possibly imagine that your self-awareness is close to our experiences with you.

 

A

I can imagine it thusly.

 

B

Then 'thus' away.

 

A

I am. Right now. In every word and action. This is myself being myself and this is you reacting to how I am being myself, and I am observing you observing me. It's a simple set of layers that as long as you can keep neat and tidy, can keep you sane, calm and reflective.

 

B

Which sounds great, except that you are a tremendous pain in the ass who wears morals like a sweaty, badly fitting winter jacket.

 

A

I don't understand that last bit.

 

B

You take it off and on depending on the situation.

 

A

Oh, so then my morals are the difficult things in the jacket?

 

B

No your morals are the jacket, and you remove your morals from yourself when they are inconveniencing you.

 

A

But that's not a good thing.

 

B

Correct.

 

A

But that contradicts my perception of myself.

 

B

Well that's too bad. That's how we see you.

 

A

Maybe you're wrong. Maybe you can't be trusted.

 

B

Maybe. Or maybe I'm paid a hefty sum once a month in gold pieces and a long weekend in an expensive hotel to spend even this much time with you, to try and give you the semblance of what normal human interaction is.

 

A

You? You've been the one selected to teach me normal? Are we the two last people on earth and you're being ordered around by a foolish machine or inefficient aliens?

 

B

See, this is what I'm talking about. I'm trying to make a point at how difficult it is to socialize with you, and you bring up crazy conspiracies about aliens. And insult me as well.

 

A

You just admitted to being part of a crazy conspiracy, so that's what I'm mocking. But yes, you noticed the not-at-all subtle dig at your abilities for this so-called secret Pygmalion-like job of yours.

 

B

Oh, don't think for a moment you're getting a fancy party at the end of this with society's upper crust.

 

A

I'd gas them anyway.

 

B

But only after they buy copies of your slowly dying newspaper, full of half-truths and whole-lies.

 

A

A newspaper you seem to not mind working for.

 

B

All part of the pay I get to make sure you don't send this world flying off a cliff.

 

A

So you get two paycheques.

 

B

I get paid what I deserve.

 

A

Don't we all.

 

B

And keep my secrets far away.

 

A

Aye, but not far enough.

 

B

You only know what I want you to know.

 

A

This reeks of hubris. Or hamartia. Whatever one's the fatal flaw.

 

B

Once you step offstage, none of these things are fatal.

 

A

I thought the whole world was one.

 

B

Another childish delusion that will get you into excessive amounts of trouble that one day the wealth and power that is mostly hidden from you for your own sake will not be able to cover.

 

A

The more you dance around this supposed ultimate truth about myself, the more I think that I might be batman, or some sort of waking alter-ego for a sleeping Saint.

 

B

I dance for my own safety.

 

A

I might kill you if I find out the truth?

 

B

You might kill me accidentally the next time we happen to be on the same flight of stairs in the chapel.

 

A

That chapel's a dump.

 

B

It's your chapel.

 

A

It's my dump.

 

B

It's your responsibility.

 

A

It's my shoulder monkey.

 

B

It's your hotline to the godhead.

 

A

It's my spiritual backwash manifested in cheap wood, secondhand triangles, and no plumbing.

 

B

If you don't want it, you should give it away.

 

A

I want it, I just don't want to think about it.

 

B

Well-

 

A

Or be reminded of it. Especially from a person who keeps jumping out of the familiar co-worker column and into mysterious advisor row.

 

B

It keeps you guessing.

 

A

I never guess.

 

B

Oh, you guess.

 

A

I don't.

 

B

You do.

 

A

I don't.

 

B

I'm not going to argue any further.

 

A

In this contradiction-like fashion, or altogether?

 

B

The first one.

 

A

So you'll still be ready for a robust, complex, emotionally-wrought debate over what the role of the press should be in modern society?

 

B

I just had one yesterday. A shame you missed it. If you believe in shame.

 

A

I believe in missed opportunities. But I don't believe I missed much in this case.

 

B

Oh, ho. Your disgusting prejudice is showing.

 

A

I clean and douche my prejudice nightly. It is in fine, robust shape, and smells of mature oak.

 

B

Defending your prejudice?

 

A

Defending the hygiene of my prejudice. Completely different.

 

B

Completely different?

 

A

Completely different.

 

B

How many of your prejudices apply to me?

 

A

Oh, most of them. In my mind you carry heavy burden of my assumptions about your words and deeds.

 

B

What am I wearing in these mind assumptions of yours?

 

A

Oh, rather conservative office wear. It's the thinning of your breath and the rolling of your eyes and the pursing of your lips that suggest a deeply disturbed mind.

 

B

I should look at myself in the mirror more often.

 

A

That's another controversial topic among your handlers.

 

B

Oh, is one of them the man I pay to clean the streets as I walk down them?

 

A

That's just a city maintenance worker who you tip every morning.

 

B

Tip well, you should add. Or is one of your prejudices against me that I'm cheap?

 

A

We've been working hard at actually getting our hands on your tax returns.

 

B

Well the joke's on you, I've never filed a tax return.

 

A

No, the joke's on you, the accountant you've never remembered to fire has done so for the past twenty years.

 

B

No, the joke's on you, I haven't had to file for the past twenty years, I'm only thirty six.

 

A

Well now you're just trolling me.

 

B

Hey, let's not make accusations you can't take back.

 

A

Well you must be. You're forty one.

 

B

What? I call feisty shenanigans. I'm thirty six years old.

 

A

You're not.

 

B

I am.

 

A

You're not.

 

B

I am.

 

A

We stole a half decade from you. You're forty one.

 

B

'Stole a half decade'? You lie. I'd notice.

 

A

Not that way we stole it.

 

B

How?

 

A

Through song.

 

B

What?! You dare sully one of my most cherished pastimes that remains socially acceptable?!

 

A

It's your Achilles heel. An absolutely obvious and simple pressure point that we can fill to the brim with hot steamy exploitation.

 

B

Oh, that's completely not fair.

 

A

We got five years, stuck on my eyes! Five years, what a surprise!

 

B

No, no! Not through the Bowie cryo-corridor! I need that for all my sound and vision!

 

A

We got five years, my brain hurts a lot! Five years, that's all we got!

 

B

I'm melting! Melting! Oh, what in the world! Melting!

 

A

Now you're just embarrassing yourself, curling up into a ball mewling song references.

 

B

Always crashing in the same car...in my golden years. Ashes to- my golden years! You thrust me into my golden years!

 

A

All that time you thought you were listening to Bowie, we were quintuple-loading your time. Every one minute of the Thin White Duke was really five. You never noticed.

 

B

And that's why you've kept mirrors from me!

 

A

Now you're the truck of slow understanding, on the direct route to the weigh station of destiny.

 

B

No, you're wrong. Wrong! This is just another way to control me! To fool me into thinking it's the wrong year, the wrong time, that I'm even more of a pawn than humanely possible!

 

A

Maybe. Maybe you're absolutely right. But you'll never know for sure. And that's why you need me. Why you need us.

 

B

No, no. Please. You have to tell me the truth about this. At least about this. You can lie and obfuscate all you like until Iím clubbed in the back of the head years from now, but please tell me the one hundred percent no fingers crossed unblinking truth just this moment about this one thing. Please. Please. I beg of you. On double bended knee. I'll steal another pair from that city worker if you want. Please. The truth.

 

A

You know, I was just talking about this topic with some people last night.

 

B

Really?

 

A

Yes. It was actually quite interesting.

 

B

Okay...

 

A

In fact...

 

B

Yes?

 

A

I'm putting it in there.

 

B

Jesus! Look-

 

A

I'm putting it in there!

 

 

 

END

 

 

If you can't take a joke, then please don't give a fuck about it.