Reginald Swinebottom Presents: “The Tale of the Cowardly Author” (In One Act)

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of “Reginald Swinebottom Presents.” I’m your narrator, Mr. Swinebottom himself. Please no drinks, candies, popcorn, gum or anything else that fills you with empty calories and cavities. Flash photography and cell phones are not permitted during the stage performance. If used, your device will be confiscated and destroyed, along with your arms and legs. Now, please enjoy the show.”


(The red curtain parts. The scene opens to a house, filled with many rooms. The stage lights focus on a simply furnished bedroom on the second floor. A lump underneath the blankets is snoring deeply in rhythm. A black dog wakes and stretches in the corner beside a quaint doggy bed.)

“Once upon a time an author woke up early on a Saturday morning. A certain Labrador Retriever needed to use the great grassy beyond and began vocalizing her needs. The Labrador also desired num nums. Good num nums. Delicious num nums. It was time to put on the slippers and start the day.

“The author found the leash and collar and tiptoed out the front door in her purple slippers, the canine companion trotting closely behind. Anyone passing by would see the author’s darling new owl pajama bottoms and her worn-but-cozy hoodie. A pee and a poo later, the Labrador sprung sprightly back inside the house, ready for her meal. Breakfast was served for both.

“The author, now fed and warm, curled up in her chair. Quiet ebbed and flowed; blood cells danced and swirled inside her veins in bliss. It was peaceful and silent, save for a squeak or two from a dog toy. Maybe she would write. The day was open and hers to explore. All was well.

“And then the doorbell rang.”

(The narrator pauses to turn the page of his script. He grasps the podium and levels his gaze out across the audience.)

“Now authors–at least this author–are very strange creatures. The author we see, for instance, doesn’t eat meat, is very picky about her produce and is quite fastidious about how her kitchen towels hang. Jaywalking makes her anxious, she actually thinks bats are cute, she’s nervous around butterflies and is tickled pink whenever she spots a groundhog in the wild. I could go on, but I will spare the audience from further torture. Added to her quirks, however, is this one undeniable fact: sales people terrified her.

“Quicker than Santa’s eight tiny reindeer, the author flew into her kitchen, grasping her laptop and cuddly blanket. She dialed the Saint on her cell phone (whom our guests will remember is her husband), as she was too afraid to shout ‘less the intruder heard her.”

“There’s someone at the door!” the author whispered into her phone. “It could be a murderer!”

“And so this is what happens when an author writes horror. Apparently murderers signal their intentions through a pleasant ding-dong before commencing with a kill.”

(Audience laughs.)

“The Labrador Retriever commenced barking vigorously at the door, displeased (as she is wont) at any suspicious activity occurring on her domain. The author curled her head around the corner, peering at the front door, waiting to see if the intruder passed. After a pause, she tiptoed up to the glass door…”

(Author shakes her head at the narrator, pleading silently. The narrator urges her on, gesturing with his hands. This goes on for awhile until a cane off stage finally pushes the author back to the set door.)

“Visions of masked murders, normally dressed serial killers, and lawyers with thick, white jury duty envelopes danced like sugar plums in the author’s head. Or worse yet—the unknown visitor might want to sell something! Oh calamity–oh virtue! Oh woe was the author herself!”

(A booming noise echoes off stage. A puddle forms under the author.)

“As our author peeked through the door with trepidation, the author saw a black vehicle with two elderly persons going back inside their car. Scared, and slightly curious, the author pondered what it could mean. The Saint arrived and gazed out, too. But with a shrug of his shoulders, he moved into the kitchen to begin his morning routine.

“The car drove away, leaving the author and her dog standing in the puddle.”

(Curtain closes.)

“Now audience, the story ends here–but the mystery continues. Who were these two strangers? Why was their car so black and shiny? Why did they ignore the ‘No Solicitors’ sign and ring the doorbell? Were they organ harvesters with no respect given to law and order? Political campaigners wanting to stir and harass? Charity fundraisers wanting to raise money for butterflies? Or were they vampires–monsters of the night– who stayed out too late, got lost, and needed to ask for directions back to Transylvania?

(Author walks onstage with her slippers, in her owl pajama bottoms and worn hoodie, a blanket wrapped around her like a poncho. She’s sipping on hot tea from an owl mug. The Labrador appears and sniffs at the audience from the edge of the stage and sneezes. They wander around for a moment, the audience and narrator watching, until passing off stage.)

“We’ll never know what the two strangers wanted. But we do know the author will use the episode for her writing, adding the event to her imagination compost heap. Come join us next time for Reginald Swinebottom presents! Thank you!”

-Fin-

 

Author: Peregrine Arc

INTJ female writer setting out to become a published author of contemporary literature. Writing includes horror/mystery, young adult fantasy and science fiction. All opinions, mistakes and dog hair are my own. Thank you for joining me.

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