A five-minute play by Steve Oskie.
Scene: The set of a television talk show
Characters: Pamela Drummond, the host. Stuart Rubin, the guest.
DRUMMOND: Good evening. Welcome to “Book Talk.” I’m your host, Pamela Drummond. We’ve had a number of distinguished guests on this program, but I’ve been looking forward to tonight’s guest for quite some time. His name is Stuart Rubin, and he’s the celebrated author of “Glutton for Punishment: Especially Yours.” Stuart, thank you for joining us.
RUBIN: What choice did I have? My publisher is withholding the royalties.
DRUMMOND (Startled.) Oh, come now. You must be delighted with the reception the book has received.
RUBIN: Why? It’s been misunderstood at every turn.
DRUMMOND: Are you referring to the critics?
RUBIN: I’m referring to the critics, the readers, and the people that have refused to buy the book at all.
DRUMMOND: Are you leaving anyone out?
RUBIN: Only the sub-categories like apologist and sycophant.
DRUMMOND: But the public has embraced you. You’ve become a cultural icon.
RUBIN: Of course – they’ve gotten tired of “The Simpsons.”
DRUMMOND: Now that you’ve published your first novel, what are your plans for the future?
RUBIN: To become filthy rich and offend everyone.
DRUMMOND: Well, you’ve certainly gotten off to a good start.
RUBIN: That’s the beauty of it. It’s only a matter of time.
DRUMMOND: For some reason, I believe you.
RUBIN: As well you should.
DRUMMOND: I had intended to explore the subject of criticism in greater depth, Stuart, but I’m not sure that’s a good idea.
RUBIN: I have no objection to it, as long as you expunge the profanity.
DRUMMOND: But the show is taped before a live audience.
RUBIN: Judging from their silence, I’d say that’s a leap of faith.
DRUMMOND: My God, why are you so bitter?
RUBIN: Because I overcame the most significant obstacle a writer could have – a happy childhood – and I will never forgive my parents.
DRUMMOND: (Taken aback.) I was told not to mention your parents.
RUBIN: That was probably wise, given their disappearance.
DRUMMOND: If I may ask, Stuart, what are you doing to find them?
RUBIN: Find them? It’s just the opposite. I never want to see them again.
DRUMMOND: What are you saying – you’re involved in their disappearance?
RUBIN: When the time comes, my attorney will issue a statement.
DRUMMOND: Surely you’re concerned for their safety?
RUBIN: No, actually I’m not.
DRUMMOND: Would you care to elaborate?
RUBIN: They’ve always taken care of themselves. My caring for them would make me redundant.
DRUMMOND: (Scrambling to recover.) Why don’t we return to our earlier subject – the reception your book has received.
RUBIN: I’m not responsible for the superficiality of certain critics, Pamela. It is Pamela, isn’t it?
DRUMMOND: Good lord, you’re a horse’s ass!
RUBIN: Not only do I appreciate your discernment, but I’d like to commend you for being a credit to your profession.
DRUMMOND: And how is that exactly?
RUBIN: You have precisely the right mixture of boredom and sterility. (The audience begins to boo.) Ah, the Lilliputians have spoken. (The booing increases, and is joined by a round of hissing.) Think small. That’s their motto.
DRUMMOND: (Raising her voice above the din.) I understand you had a difficult time finding an agent.
RUBIN: There was nothing surprising in that, given their gross vulgarity.
DRUMMOND: I think I’ve had about enough.
RUBIN: May I mention my 800 number?
DRUMMOND: Absolutely not!
RUBIN: My website?
DRUMMOND: Not on your life!
RUBIN: The address of my fan club?
DRUMMOND: Over my dead body!
RUBIN: You really should reconsider, Pamela. Suicide is impulse dying.
DRUMMOND: Go to hell!
RUBIN: I already have in appearing on your program. (Three chivalrous males storm the set and tackle Rubin simultaneously, knocking his chair over backwards.) Look what you’ve done, Pamela. You’ve become the Geraldo Rivera of the literary set.
DRUMMOND: (Losing her cool entirely.) Get this motherfucker out of here!
(A producer screams frantically from off stage, directing them to terminate the broadcast. DRUMMOND rests her head on the desk, utterly defeated. But before the cameras are turned off, RUBIN addresses the audience once more.)
RUBIN: (Grinning broadly as the stage lights dim.) For Pamela Drummond, I’m Stuart Rubin. Thank you for watching “Book Talk.”
(The lights fade to end the play.)
Steve Oskie’s first novel, “Mean Thoughts,” was a semi-finalist in the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel. For malcontents serious about supporting independent work, it doesn’t get more indie than this. Buy “Mean Thoughts” here.