An Old Fiend

A short play in one act.
Setting: A small, cottage-like house in South Central Pennsylvania
Kristy: A twenty-something brunette (since last weekend) writer, doggedly working on her fifth novel, a feat which she is using NaNoWriMo to complete
Writer’s Block: A grizzled old man with straggly gray hair and a smug grin

The doorbell rings. Kristy answers the door to find Writer’s Block standing on her front stoop, the eternal white and dead brown of early winter behind him.

Kristy: Oh…hello.
WB: Hello.
Kristy: Been a long time.
WB: Yes. Yes, it has.
Kristy (with the sigh of one who knew this was inevitable, but still hoped for the best): I suppose you want to come inside.
WB: Of course. May I?

Kristy steps aside, her lips tight in grim resignation. WB enters the home.

Kristy: Well. Would you like some coffee? The coffee pot hasn’t been cold since November 1.
WB: Certainly. That would be lovely.

Kristy sighs again as she fixes WB a cup of coffee.

Kristy: So, what have you been up to, since last we saw each other?
WB: Well, I’ll admit–I’ve been quite busy. Hopping all over the country, you know. I tried visiting Joyce Carol Oates, but she slammed the door in my face. She’s as feisty as she is small.
Kristy (wryly): Yes. I would’ve guessed that.
WB: Since I was in New England anyway, I decided to stop by Anita Shreve’s house. She threw a cup of coffee in my face.
Kristy (glancing remorsefully at her steaming cup of coffee): Well, that sounds about right.
WB: So, then I tried Stephen King. He answered the door, but he let off this maniacal roar of laughter, and his eyes seemed to glow with demoniacal intent…well, I couldn’t help but run away.
Kristy: I would’ve done the same.
WB: And then I zipped over to California and paid a visit to Dean Koontz (warning: sound autoplays). As you may have guessed, that was a waste of time.
Kristy: Yes. Yes, I might’ve guessed as much.
WB (casually leaning against counter): And then I decided, perhaps I should set the bar a bit lower. Literary and horror/suspense writers, they’re such difficult targets…but if I wanted easy pickings…YA writers seemed like the place to be. I mean, they’re so entrenched in adolescence anyway. Lack of confidence, and all that.
Kristy: Well, I wouldn’t say–
WB, interrupting: But John Green was busy with his Tour de Nerdfighting, and I couldn’t even find him. I mean, that man was jaunting all over the country, and I…well, I’m not so young as I used to be. I just don’t have the energy for that.
Kristy: Who does?
WB: Exactly. Since he’s such good friends with Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier, I thought I’d pay them a visit.
Kristy: No dice?
WB: No dice. It must be nice, married to someone who not only writes, but writes in your genre. The motivation must be inspiring.
Kristy glances upstairs, to where her husband sits immersed in his computer-science-related-not-that-I-could-really-explain-it-to-you-even-though-I-work-in-the-technology-sector-myself Grad School Work): I imagine so.
WB: After that, I tried Maureen Johnson. She had some secret formula for repelling me, though. That, and the zombies at her door rather frightened me, with their monotonous chanting for Braaaaaaaaaaaaaains.
Kristy: That would frighten anyone off.
WB: And then Diana Peterfruend, but….
Kristy: Unicorns?
WB: You said it, sister. (pauses to shake off lingering terror of sharp unicorn horns)
Kristy: And after that…?
WB: Well, I thought perhaps I should try another participant of 70 Days of Sweat. So I stopped by Jen Hayley‘s place, but she’s got this crazy reward vs. punishment system going on, and between the loud replays of Buffy and the screeching of Write or Die from her computer every time she fell behind…well, I just couldn’t take it.
Kristy: Understandably.
WB: I’m very old. I have a hearing aid, you know.
Kristy: Of course.
WB: So I thought perhaps a NaNo participant. You know, a first timer (technically, sort of). Someone who’s been keeping up with the daily requirement, but just barely. Someone who’s already written one novel this year, and might be flagging on the second. Someone who’s…
Kristy: Tired?
WB: Yes, thank you. That’s the word.
Kristy (sips her coffee, perhaps hoping for a sudden infusion of motivation. None is forthcoming): And now you’re here.
WB (saunters into the dining room and casually seats himself at Kristy’s deskchair. The glow of her word processor lights his face): Yes. Now I’m here. (puts feet up on desk) You don’t mind if I make myself comfortable, do you?
Kristy (sighs again, takes another dainty sip of her coffee, then slams the mug down on the counter): Well, as a matter of fact…
WB: It’s been so long, dear. So very long. And I’ve given you peace for all that time. You’ve written what, three–
Kristy: Four.
WB: Oh, four novels during that time. Sorry, darling–I don’t count the first one. Such dreck, you know. Anyhow, I figure you owe me just a bit of time, a short vacation, if you will…
Kristy (begins loading the two-week’s worth of dishes into the dishwasher, and dismantling the decorations from the Halloween party she had three weeks ago, but will not meet WB’s eyes) : All right. Fine. But just one day. That is all I give you.
WB (eyes the blinking cursor in the word processor). Well. We’ll see.

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