Once a Month

ONCE A MONTH
Written by
J.F. Acosta

Pages: 3

Characters:
Alice, 20’s
Karen, 20’s

Synopsis:
Karen’s got a date, but she forgot that this isn’t a good time.

Copyright © 2019 by J.F. Acosta
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be presented, performed, reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the writer.

 

INT. APARTMENT LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

ALICE is lounging on the couch, scrolling through her phone.  KAREN bursts into the living room, in a panic, an earring in her hand, the other in her ear.

KAREN
Oh, god!

ALICE
(not looking up her from her phone)  I know I’m good but “god”? That’s a little —

KAREN
Is it a full moon?  It’s a full moon, isn’t it?

ALICE
(still engrossed with her phone)  So what if it —
(beat)
Oh.

ALICE gets up from the couch and approaches an increasingly agitated KAREN.

ALICE
Hey, hey, hey, it’s ok. We do this every month. We got this!

KAREN
It’s not ok!  I totally forgot and now Eddy’s on his way!

ALICE
Why is —

KAREN
‘Cause I forgot!

ALICE
Just call him and cancel, then. Tell him you have a —

KAREN
A what?!

ALICE
A thing! Like a lady thing. 

KAREN
A lady thing??

ALICE
Yeah, guys are scared of that stuff.

KAREN
Will you be serious?!  He’s gonna be here any minute.
(beat)
Oh, god. It’s happening. 

KAREN starts writhing and contorting.

ALICE
Ok, ok. Deep breaths.

KAREN
Those don’t help!

ALICE
For me!!!

KAREN
Do something!!!

ALICE
How about some Xanax?

KAREN
How’s that gonna —

ALICE
Valium?

KAREN
What, for you?

ALICE
For you! And me, sure.  Yeah.  But it might slow things down for you! Or stop it or something. It’s not like there’s a manual for this sort of thing.  Worth a try, right?

KAREN
Yeah, ok.

ALICE leaves to get the pills. KAREN falls down on all fours and starts growling.

KAREN
Hurry!

ALICE rushes back in with some pills and a glass of water. KAREN takes one and pants.  The transformation does not abate.  Fur has covered her body and a tail is starting to sprout.

ALICE
Better take the other.

KAREN
Which one did I just —

ALICE
Does it matter?

KAREN’s hands have turned into paws so ALICE has to gingerly place the pill in KAREN’s mouth. KAREN falls over on her side, trying to tuck her nose to her tail. She starts moaning.  There is a knock on the door.

ALICE
Stay here.

KAREN
(mumbling) Where else am I gonna go?

ALICE leaves to answer the door.  KAREN continues whining on the floor, half asleep.  Her transformation completes itself until she is a werewolf in a cocktail dress.  ALICE comes back holding a bouquet of flowers that she sets on the coffee table. 

ALICE
He’s sorry you’ve been puking your guts out but will call you later.

ALICE notices that KAREN has fallen asleep.  She gathers up the blanket from the couch and drapes it over her friend.  ALICE sits on the floor and strokes KAREN’s head.

(CON’T)
It’s ok. I never liked that dress anyway. 

KAREN yips and twitches in her sleep.

Once a Month

ONCE A MONTH
Written by
J.F. Acosta

Pages: 3

Characters:
Alice, 20’s
Karen, 20’s

Synopsis:
Karen’s got a date, but she forgot that this isn’t a good time.

Copyright © 2019 by J.F. Acosta
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be presented, performed, reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the writer.

 

INT. APARTMENT LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

ALICE is lounging on the couch, scrolling through her phone.  KAREN bursts into the living room, in a panic, an earring in her hand, the other in her ear.

KAREN
Oh, god!

ALICE
(not looking up her from her phone)  I know I’m good but “god”? That’s a little —

KAREN
Is it a full moon?  It’s a full moon, isn’t it?

ALICE
(still engrossed with her phone)  So what if it —
(beat)
Oh.

ALICE gets up from the couch and approaches an increasingly agitated KAREN.

ALICE
Hey, hey, hey, it’s ok. We do this every month. We got this!

KAREN
It’s not ok!  I totally forgot and now Eddy’s on his way!

ALICE
Why is —

KAREN
‘Cause I forgot!

ALICE
Just call him and cancel, then. Tell him you have a —

KAREN
A what?!

ALICE
A thing! Like a lady thing. 

KAREN
A lady thing??

ALICE
Yeah, guys are scared of that stuff.

KAREN
Will you be serious?!  He’s gonna be here any minute.
(beat)
Oh, god. It’s happening. 

KAREN starts writhing and contorting.

ALICE
Ok, ok. Deep breaths.

KAREN
Those don’t help!

ALICE
For me!!!

KAREN
Do something!!!

ALICE
How about some Xanax?

KAREN
How’s that gonna —

ALICE
Valium?

KAREN
What, for you?

ALICE
For you! And me, sure.  Yeah.  But it might slow things down for you! Or stop it or something. It’s not like there’s a manual for this sort of thing.  Worth a try, right?

KAREN
Yeah, ok.

ALICE leaves to get the pills. KAREN falls down on all fours and starts growling.

KAREN
Hurry!

ALICE rushes back in with some pills and a glass of water. KAREN takes one and pants.  The transformation does not abate.  Fur has covered her body and a tail is starting to sprout.

ALICE
Better take the other.

KAREN
Which one did I just —

ALICE
Does it matter?

KAREN’s hands have turned into paws so ALICE has to gingerly place the pill in KAREN’s mouth. KAREN falls over on her side, trying to tuck her nose to her tail. She starts moaning.  There is a knock on the door.

ALICE
Stay here.

KAREN
(mumbling) Where else am I gonna go?

ALICE leaves to answer the door.  KAREN continues whining on the floor, half asleep.  Her transformation completes itself until she is a werewolf in a cocktail dress.  ALICE comes back holding a bouquet of flowers that she sets on the coffee table. 

ALICE
He’s sorry you’ve been puking your guts out but will call you later.

ALICE notices that KAREN has fallen asleep.  She gathers up the blanket from the couch and drapes it over her friend.  ALICE sits on the floor and strokes KAREN’s head.

(CON’T)
It’s ok. I never liked that dress anyway. 

KAREN yips and twitches in her sleep.

Why John Wick Should Be Your Desert Island Movie

There is something about this movie that fills me with glee. Is it all the shooting, punching and kicking?  Is it all the well-tailored suits? Is it The Keanu?  Yes and yes and yes again.

Action movie Keanu is my favorite Keanu. Second only to action science fiction Keanu. He only has two speeds in this movie: sad and mad. 

What’s the set up?

John Wick’s wife dies of a protracted illness. It’s all very sad.  And then Theon Greyjoy pops up and Theon Greyjoys all over the place. Which is to say, spreads his particular brand of pathetic douchebaggery all over Keanu’s very nice home. Theon, or Ioseph, as they call him in this movie, and his lackeys break into John Wick’s house in the middle of the night, beat the ever living boom boom out of John and then steal his ride because Ioseph is nothing more than a skin bag of ambulatory meat and bones awfulness. And an idiot.  So, you know, Theon Greyjoy.  In fairness, it’s quite an impressive ride. Ioseph also commits a much more heinous crime than grand theft auto. Something so terrible that anyone anywhere can suddenly understand why John Wick goes on a mighty rampage following the defiling of his home and theft of his ’69 Mustang. Come on, man, the dog. I thought there was some kind of unwritten Hollywood rule about harming animals on screen.

Ugh.

Not that I ever need an excuse to watch Keanu rampaging with gun-fu and kung-fu all through a blighted city. As per the trailers, John Wick, is a retired assassin. To hear them tell it, the greatest assassin that ever assassined for all time and space.  Ioseph tries to unload his stolen goods at Aurelio’s (John Leguizamo) chop shop but, being possessed of two grey cells to rub together, Aurelio demands to know where Ioseph got the ride and then proceeds to smack him around.  It’s… kind of awesome.  Ioseph cries and threatens to tattle on him to his daddy and Aurelio is like, beat it, pinhead.  So Ioseph takes off with the car and Aurelio sweats it because he knows.

Here is the thing about this movie.  It’s funny.  Very funny.  The laughs it elicits from single syllable dialogue is masterful. 

As promised, Ioseph goes home to Russian gangster daddy, Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), and tattles on Aurelio smacking him like the whiny diaper baby that he is.  And so Viggo gets on the horn with Aurelio and is like, so I hear you hit my kid?  And Aurelio is like, Yup. Viggo is like, ….?  And Aurelio busts it, He stole John Wick’s car. And jacked up his dog. And then, I kid you not, Viggo goes, “Oh.”  And then hangs up as sweaty bullets of nerves and fear leak out of every pore.  Then he goes over to his kid and punches him in the gut a few times because Ioseph is an idiot. Who then tries to swagger his way out of it like, who’s this John Wick guy anyway? Some kind of Boogeyman, he sneers.  I mean, sneers because have I mentioned?  He’s an idiot.  Just assume that for every time I type Ioseph, I am just leaving off The Idiot right after it.  And so Viggo is like, No, fool.  He’s the one you send to kill the Boogeyman. And then we launch into some John Wick back story which goes something like this: he used to work for Viggo and then one day wanted out “over a woman, of course” and whereas Viggo may be smarter than his son, he certainly rivals him in overall dickitude, he tells John Wick he can have his freedom but he has to do one last job first.  Which is the most impossible job that an entire horde of assassins couldn’t have pulled off, but John is one part ninja, one part murder unicorn and all parts awesome.  So, not only does he survive the job, but he piled so many bodies around the city, they could start their own methane plant.  Viggo says the work Wick did that night laid the entire foundation for his business today.  And his idiot son went and stole his car and then the thing with the dog.  Viggo basically tells his kid he’s screwed. Death is coming for him and despite all their best efforts, they’re not going to be able to stop the inevitable carnage. Ioseph had the good grace to look properly chastised.  Or constipated. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

Dean Winters has a marvelous supporting role here as Viggo’s lawyer, Avi. I’m so used to seeing him be the wise-cracking muscle that seeing him as this jumpy numbers guy who doesn’t even carry a gun just brought another dimension of laughs.

So now we’ve set the stage. It’s a revenge rampage film. But one of the better ones because a) Keanu and b) it’s funny.  Sure, it’s not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I completely buy into Keanu as John Wick being a complete bad ass who ran out of cares to give the second he realized that the dog his wife gave him as her dying gift to him was no more. What can you do after that? If you answered put the remains of your puppy in a nice box, respectfully bury her in the back yard and then sledgehammer your way through your floor to get at your assassin murder tools, you win the door prize.  There are no real surprises in this movie; no hackneyed M. Knight twists at the end; no last minute betrayals; no overwrought emotional outbursts or pointless monologues. What you see is what you get. Here is a guy in a black suit and he’s coming to kill you.   

There are some brief fun interludes from the relentless bloodletting with … more killing. But it’s at least killing outside of Wick’s revenge-porn.  The Continental is the preferred hotel for discerning assassins because they are discreet and accommodating of the unusual vicissitudes of their type of work, but they are very strict about enforcing the rules. And the number one rule is: No business on Continental grounds. Winston (Ian McShane) prides himself on the hallowed neutral ground he’s carved out of this murder soaked town.  And the penalty is steep for anyone who breaks the rules, as Ms. Perkins (Adriane Palicki) discovered when she broke the rules twice over. It’s a terrible thing that both female actresses in this movie end up dead with the third one spouting such horrific dialogue that she should have also been killed.

The one criticism I have for this movie, and it’s a big one, is that it is lousy for female characters and representation. Sadly, we must all look elsewhere for that. The three aforementioned women are it for the entire run time. Passing the Bechtel test, they are not. Making one of them a codeless (and it turns out incapable) assassin acquits them of nothing here. John Wick’s wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan), we only see in flashbacks and on a saved video on John’s phone that he rewatches every time someone pauses in their bid to kill him.  So maybe every ten minutes or so.  They introduce one fairly useless female bartender, Addy (Bridget Regan… ok, it’s weird that two of the three women in this movie are named Bridget, right?) whose only purpose is to spout dialogue so cringeworthy that I very nearly gagged in my seat. They did give her a name so there’s that at least. The writers had to find a way for someone somewhere to tell John where Ioseph was hanging out, and apparently, they couldn’t find a better way than having her leave a note on a napkin. It’s bad, not gonna lie. Oh, wait. The dog, Daisy, is also female. But talking about her makes me sad so I won’t. 

There’s a point in the movie when John really lets all his anger unfurl.  He’s trussed up in a chair with no clear means of escape, surrounded by lots of men with guns.  And Wick snarls, “A lot of people have been asking if I’m back.  Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.”  Yeah, you are, Keanu.  Yeah, you are.

Why John Wick Should Be Your Desert Island Movie

There is something about this movie that fills me with glee. Is it all the shooting, punching and kicking?  Is it all the well-tailored suits? Is it The Keanu?  Yes and yes and yes again.

Action movie Keanu is my favorite Keanu. Second only to action science fiction Keanu. He only has two speeds in this movie: sad and mad. 

What’s the set up?

John Wick’s wife dies of a protracted illness. It’s all very sad.  And then Theon Greyjoy pops up and Theon Greyjoys all over the place. Which is to say, spreads his particular brand of pathetic douchebaggery all over Keanu’s very nice home. Theon, or Ioseph, as they call him in this movie, and his lackeys break into John Wick’s house in the middle of the night, beat the ever living boom boom out of John and then steal his ride because Ioseph is nothing more than a skin bag of ambulatory meat and bones awfulness. And an idiot.  So, you know, Theon Greyjoy.  In fairness, it’s quite an impressive ride. Ioseph also commits a much more heinous crime than grand theft auto. Something so terrible that anyone anywhere can suddenly understand why John Wick goes on a mighty rampage following the defiling of his home and theft of his ’69 Mustang. Come on, man, the dog. I thought there was some kind of unwritten Hollywood rule about harming animals on screen.

Ugh.

Not that I ever need an excuse to watch Keanu rampaging with gun-fu and kung-fu all through a blighted city. As per the trailers, John Wick, is a retired assassin. To hear them tell it, the greatest assassin that ever assassined for all time and space.  Ioseph tries to unload his stolen goods at Aurelio’s (John Leguizamo) chop shop but, being possessed of two grey cells to rub together, Aurelio demands to know where Ioseph got the ride and then proceeds to smack him around.  It’s… kind of awesome.  Ioseph cries and threatens to tattle on him to his daddy and Aurelio is like, beat it, pinhead.  So Ioseph takes off with the car and Aurelio sweats it because he knows.

Here is the thing about this movie.  It’s funny.  Very funny.  The laughs it elicits from single syllable dialogue is masterful. 

As promised, Ioseph goes home to Russian gangster daddy, Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), and tattles on Aurelio smacking him like the whiny diaper baby that he is.  And so Viggo gets on the horn with Aurelio and is like, so I hear you hit my kid?  And Aurelio is like, Yup. Viggo is like, ….?  And Aurelio busts it, He stole John Wick’s car. And jacked up his dog. And then, I kid you not, Viggo goes, “Oh.”  And then hangs up as sweaty bullets of nerves and fear leak out of every pore.  Then he goes over to his kid and punches him in the gut a few times because Ioseph is an idiot. Who then tries to swagger his way out of it like, who’s this John Wick guy anyway? Some kind of Boogeyman, he sneers.  I mean, sneers because have I mentioned?  He’s an idiot.  Just assume that for every time I type Ioseph, I am just leaving off The Idiot right after it.  And so Viggo is like, No, fool.  He’s the one you send to kill the Boogeyman. And then we launch into some John Wick back story which goes something like this: he used to work for Viggo and then one day wanted out “over a woman, of course” and whereas Viggo may be smarter than his son, he certainly rivals him in overall dickitude, he tells John Wick he can have his freedom but he has to do one last job first.  Which is the most impossible job that an entire horde of assassins couldn’t have pulled off, but John is one part ninja, one part murder unicorn and all parts awesome.  So, not only does he survive the job, but he piled so many bodies around the city, they could start their own methane plant.  Viggo says the work Wick did that night laid the entire foundation for his business today.  And his idiot son went and stole his car and then the thing with the dog.  Viggo basically tells his kid he’s screwed. Death is coming for him and despite all their best efforts, they’re not going to be able to stop the inevitable carnage. Ioseph had the good grace to look properly chastised.  Or constipated. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

Dean Winters has a marvelous supporting role here as Viggo’s lawyer, Avi. I’m so used to seeing him be the wise-cracking muscle that seeing him as this jumpy numbers guy who doesn’t even carry a gun just brought another dimension of laughs.

So now we’ve set the stage. It’s a revenge rampage film. But one of the better ones because a) Keanu and b) it’s funny.  Sure, it’s not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I completely buy into Keanu as John Wick being a complete bad ass who ran out of cares to give the second he realized that the dog his wife gave him as her dying gift to him was no more. What can you do after that? If you answered put the remains of your puppy in a nice box, respectfully bury her in the back yard and then sledgehammer your way through your floor to get at your assassin murder tools, you win the door prize.  There are no real surprises in this movie; no hackneyed M. Knight twists at the end; no last minute betrayals; no overwrought emotional outbursts or pointless monologues. What you see is what you get. Here is a guy in a black suit and he’s coming to kill you.   

There are some brief fun interludes from the relentless bloodletting with … more killing. But it’s at least killing outside of Wick’s revenge-porn.  The Continental is the preferred hotel for discerning assassins because they are discreet and accommodating of the unusual vicissitudes of their type of work, but they are very strict about enforcing the rules. And the number one rule is: No business on Continental grounds. Winston (Ian McShane) prides himself on the hallowed neutral ground he’s carved out of this murder soaked town.  And the penalty is steep for anyone who breaks the rules, as Ms. Perkins (Adriane Palicki) discovered when she broke the rules twice over. It’s a terrible thing that both female actresses in this movie end up dead with the third one spouting such horrific dialogue that she should have also been killed.

The one criticism I have for this movie, and it’s a big one, is that it is lousy for female characters and representation. Sadly, we must all look elsewhere for that. The three aforementioned women are it for the entire run time. Passing the Bechtel test, they are not. Making one of them a codeless (and it turns out incapable) assassin acquits them of nothing here. John Wick’s wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan), we only see in flashbacks and on a saved video on John’s phone that he rewatches every time someone pauses in their bid to kill him.  So maybe every ten minutes or so.  They introduce one fairly useless female bartender, Addy (Bridget Regan… ok, it’s weird that two of the three women in this movie are named Bridget, right?) whose only purpose is to spout dialogue so cringeworthy that I very nearly gagged in my seat. They did give her a name so there’s that at least. The writers had to find a way for someone somewhere to tell John where Ioseph was hanging out, and apparently, they couldn’t find a better way than having her leave a note on a napkin. It’s bad, not gonna lie. Oh, wait. The dog, Daisy, is also female. But talking about her makes me sad so I won’t. 

There’s a point in the movie when John really lets all his anger unfurl.  He’s trussed up in a chair with no clear means of escape, surrounded by lots of men with guns.  And Wick snarls, “A lot of people have been asking if I’m back.  Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.”  Yeah, you are, Keanu.  Yeah, you are.

Hard at Work

HARD AT WORK
Written by
J.F. Acosta

Pages: 4

Characters:
Callie, 30’s
Jordan, 20’s

Synopsis:
Callie tries to get some work done, but Jordan would rather tell her about his day.

Copyright © 2018 by J.F. Acosta
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be presented, performed, reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the writer.

 

INT. OFFICE BULLPEN – DAY

CALLIE is working at her cubicle. JORDAN walks up and drapes himself over one of the cube walls.

JORDAN
Hey.

CALLIE
(not looking up from her computer)
Hey.

JORDAN looks up and behind CALLIE.

JORDAN
Hi, Krista!  How’s it … ok.

CALLIE
(still not looking up)
She flip you off?

JORDAN
Yeah. (beat) She’ll get over it.

CALLIE
Will she?

JORDAN
Probably not.

CALLIE
(still typing)
What do you —

JORDAN
I can’t go to Tony’s thing tonight.

CALLIE
(distractedly consulting work on her screen and papers on her desk)
You tell Tony that?

JORDAN
Thought I’d run it by you first.

CALLIE
Why?

JORDAN
‘Cause I was supposed to drive us and I know how you are with the … you know.

CALLIE
(stops working to look at him)
With the what?

JORDAN
You know…
(makes drinking motions with his hand)

They stare at each other.

CALLIE
You calling me an alcoholic?

JORDAN
What? No! Where did you get that?

CALLIE
(goes back to work)
The other 500 times you called me an alcoholic.

JORDAN
I’m just saying, I know you’re not a big fan of driving by yourself especially when —

CALLIE
I can take care of myself.

JORDAN
No, I know that.  I’m just saying…

CALLIE
I’ll be fine. I just won’t drink.

JORDAN
Really?

CALLIE
That much. Let me finish.

JORDAN
Anyway, don’t you wanna know why I’m not going?

CALLIE
You met a girl?

JORDAN
(slightly surprised)
I met a girl. Yes.

CALLIE
Today.

JORDAN
Today. Yes.

CALLIE
Of course you did.

JORDAN
You slut shaming me?

CALLIE
Nobody’s… I’m not slut shaming you.

JORDAN
You are.

CALLIE
I’m not.

JORDAN
You are.

CALLIE
(stops working again)
What’s her name?

JORDAN
(pause)
Elise something? Elaine? Something with an E.

CALLIE
You don’t know her name.

JORDAN
She told me. I just … I got distracted.

CALLIE
By her … “attributes”?

JORDAN
What do you … (CALLIE’S meaning dawns on him) No! Yes. Wait. No! It was the noise. I was distracted by the noise. It was very noisy where we were.

CALLIE
And where was that?

JORDAN
Nowhere. It doesn’t matter. None of your business.

CALLIE
Uh-huh. Go call Tony.

JORDAN
I will.

JORDAN doesn’t leave.

CALLIE
You’re still here.

JORDAN
Are you sure you’re cool with …

CALLIE
Go away.

JORDAN hovers.

JORDAN
‘Cause I could probably reschedule…

CALLIE
Now.

JORDAN leaves.  Then suddenly turns around, both fists in the air.

JORDAN
It’s Lauren! Her name is Lauren!

CALLIE
(already back at work)
That doesn’t even start with an E! (whispering) Idiot.

Hard at Work

HARD AT WORK
Written by
J.F. Acosta

Pages: 4

Characters:
Callie, 30’s
Jordan, 20’s

Synopsis:
Callie tries to get some work done, but Jordan would rather tell her about his day.

Copyright © 2018 by J.F. Acosta
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be presented, performed, reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the writer.

 

INT. OFFICE BULLPEN – DAY

CALLIE is working at her cubicle. JORDAN walks up and drapes himself over one of the cube walls.

JORDAN
Hey.

CALLIE
(not looking up from her computer)
Hey.

JORDAN looks up and behind CALLIE.

JORDAN
Hi, Krista!  How’s it … ok.

CALLIE
(still not looking up)
She flip you off?

JORDAN
Yeah. (beat) She’ll get over it.

CALLIE
Will she?

JORDAN
Probably not.

CALLIE
(still typing)
What do you —

JORDAN
I can’t go to Tony’s thing tonight.

CALLIE
(distractedly consulting work on her screen and papers on her desk)
You tell Tony that?

JORDAN
Thought I’d run it by you first.

CALLIE
Why?

JORDAN
‘Cause I was supposed to drive us and I know how you are with the … you know.

CALLIE
(stops working to look at him)
With the what?

JORDAN
You know…
(makes drinking motions with his hand)

They stare at each other.

CALLIE
You calling me an alcoholic?

JORDAN
What? No! Where did you get that?

CALLIE
(goes back to work)
The other 500 times you called me an alcoholic.

JORDAN
I’m just saying, I know you’re not a big fan of driving by yourself especially when —

CALLIE
I can take care of myself.

JORDAN
No, I know that.  I’m just saying…

CALLIE
I’ll be fine. I just won’t drink.

JORDAN
Really?

CALLIE
That much. Let me finish.

JORDAN
Anyway, don’t you wanna know why I’m not going?

CALLIE
You met a girl?

JORDAN
(slightly surprised)
I met a girl. Yes.

CALLIE
Today.

JORDAN
Today. Yes.

CALLIE
Of course you did.

JORDAN
You slut shaming me?

CALLIE
Nobody’s… I’m not slut shaming you.

JORDAN
You are.

CALLIE
I’m not.

JORDAN
You are.

CALLIE
(stops working again)
What’s her name?

JORDAN
(pause)
Elise something? Elaine? Something with an E.

CALLIE
You don’t know her name.

JORDAN
She told me. I just … I got distracted.

CALLIE
By her … “attributes”?

JORDAN
What do you … (CALLIE’S meaning dawns on him) No! Yes. Wait. No! It was the noise. I was distracted by the noise. It was very noisy where we were.

CALLIE
And where was that?

JORDAN
Nowhere. It doesn’t matter. None of your business.

CALLIE
Uh-huh. Go call Tony.

JORDAN
I will.

JORDAN doesn’t leave.

CALLIE
You’re still here.

JORDAN
Are you sure you’re cool with …

CALLIE
Go away.

JORDAN hovers.

JORDAN
‘Cause I could probably reschedule…

CALLIE
Now.

JORDAN leaves.  Then suddenly turns around, both fists in the air.

JORDAN
It’s Lauren! Her name is Lauren!

CALLIE
(already back at work)
That doesn’t even start with an E! (whispering) Idiot.

Renzar and Talyah

Renzar’s eyelids grew heavy, his nose dipping low as his custom made spectacles began to slip off his face. The book of meditation practices he had been reading lay at his feet, neatly bookmarked. Focusing on the ebb and flow of his breathing and the clearing of clamoring thoughts cluttering his mind, he began to descend into a peaceful repose.

“Renz!” Talyah yelled, startling him out of his revery. Renzar snorted himself to wakefulness, his spectacles falling to the gold coin covered floor with a soft tinkling. He blinked at the general direction of the disturbance.

“Tal?” He asked, swiveling his head around, “is that you?”

“Who else would it be?” She demanded.  She sounded angry. Or merely awake. Hard to tell with her sometimes.

“Well, it’s not Tuesday, is it?” Renzar asked, still trying to get his bearings. He shrugged his shoulders, unfurling his massive wings slightly.

“No, it’s not.” The echo of her hesitant footfalls were muffled as she gingerly picked her way around the various treasures littered about the cavernous yet brightly lit hall.

Renzar turned toward her voice, rearranging his considerable bulk atop a shifting pile of coins and various other gold things. “So what are you doing here?” She tapped him on the fore hoof, hoisting up his spectacles with both hands. He lowered his head so she could secure them around his ears.

“I really must make a strap of some sort,” She muttered to herself. Renzar carefully adjusted the specs with a talon and grunted in satisfaction. His face contorted itself into what one could only assume was a smile.

Talyah, on the other hand, was not smiling. Renzar was a novice in the study of human behavior, but even he could tell that she was definitely not in the mood for an in-depth and insightful discussion about the many benefits of a regularly maintained meditation practice.

“Errrm… something wrong?” He asked solicitously.

“Besides everything?” She flung both her arms up and let them fall limply by her side.

“There can’t really be anything besides everything, can there? I mean, by definition, ‘everything’ means —-.”

“There’s a stupid prince after me,” she broke in, tucking her chin as low as she could and crossing her arms tightly across her chest. “Of the Charming line. You know them?”

He nodded in assent. “A persistent bunch.”

“A persistent annoying bunch,” she amended. “I have a couple of cousins who fell prey to their lot. Happily ever after my big fat —-“

Renzar made a rumbling sound in the back of his throat that sounded like the earth unfurling its limbs after a long nap.

“Eye,” she said. “I was going to say ‘eye’.” The dragon turned his head and stared at her with his unblinking amber colored eye. Talyah stared back for a beat before turning her head away, rubbing at her now watery eyes.  There was no out staring a dragon. “Anyway,” she continued. “I need you to kill him.”

“What?!” Renzar squeaked. Dragons don’t squeak but Renzar made an exception.

“Well, that’s what you do, innit? Princes come to slay dragons, dragons incinerate them. Wet, lather, rinse, repeat.” She brushed some dirt from her leather trousers in a manner Renzar would have thought to describe as “studious nonchalance.” Had he ever thought to describe her actions at all.

Renzar primly sat up to his full height, which was impressive even for a dragon, and pursed his lips. Inasmuch as a dragon can purse his lips or even has lips to purse.  “How long have we known each other?” He asked.

Talyah waved an arm. “Most of my life?”

“And how many princes have you seen me, how did you put it?  ‘Incinerate’?”

“None, but —-“

He silenced her with a raised talon.

“But,” she persisted, “It’s not as though I see you everyday. I don’t know what you get up to when I’m not around.”

“Oh, so I’m just roving the countryside, wantonly setting fire to princes, then?” Talyah shrugged. “Just a mad dragon scorching the earth and everyone on it for no discernible reason. I mean, how is this even a remotely appropriate thing to ask? Ludicrous,” he muttered and tossed his head. His pearlescent obsidian scales flashed a brilliant purple then turquoise and back to black again.

“So you’re not going to help me?” she asked incredulously.

“Why does ‘help’ in this case have to mean murder?” He demanded.

Talyah threw her head back in what Renzar surmised was frustration and made a gurgling sound in her throat while clawing the air. “Why do you always have to be so melodramatic?” She wailed. And before Renzar could object or even point out that between the two of them, she was the one more likely to be described as such, she barreled on. “Besides, you know how they are! They never take ‘no’ for an answer! Even if I ran away, assumed a new identity, cut off all my hair, he’d still find me!” She clenched and unclenched her fists and kicked at the coins by her feet as she paced to and fro.

Renzar made ready to launch into a tirade against her disrespectful treatment of his treasure, but just then they heard the echo of Talyah’s name being called by a rather robust baritone in a distinctly sing songy way. It set the dragon’s scales on edge.

“You led him here???” Renzar could barely contain his outrage. Had he a pearl necklace, he would have clutched at it.

“Of course I didn’t lead him here!” Talyah countered. “Not purposefully anyway. Must have tracked me here. I told you!”

Prince Charming found his way onto the balcony overlooking the great hall, spotted Talyah by the dragon and immediately drew his sword. “Foul fiend,” he bellowed. Talyah and Renzar rolled their eyes in unison. “Fret not, dear heart. I shall slay this beast and free you from its evil clutches!”

Talyah raised her eyebrows at Renzar and inclined her head ever so slightly. Renzar responded with an almost imperceptible shrug. “Dear heart?” He whispered.

“I told you he was an idiot,” she proclaimed in response; loud enough to ensure that the interloping prince could hear.

In an obviously well-rehearsed maneuver, Charming vaulted over the balustrade and leapt onto the pile of treasure below. However, in an unpracticed maneuver, the pile, not being as compacted as he expected and less inclined to be so agreeable, shifted dramatically beneath his weight exposing the hard stone slab underneath. And sadly for Prince Charming, he lost his footing all together, allowing his head to connect soundly with the unyielding stone. A loud and squealchy thud reverberated about the hall. Renzar and Talyah winced.

The duo slowly made their way toward Prince Charming’s now immobile body.

“Huh.” Talyah said.

“What?”

“Never seen a dead body before,” she said. “He just looks like he’s sleeping, no?”

“With his eyes open?” Renzar asked.

“Well.”

“And half his head caved in?” Talyah opened her mouth for a response, realized she had none and clamped it shut again. “With all this blood —-“

“All right already,” she snapped.

“I suppose it’s too late to inform him that I’m neither foul nor a fiend.” Renzar offered.

“I suppose so,” she agreed. “Although, he probably wouldn’t have believed you anyway.”

“No. He didn’t seem the type to listen to reason.  Especially from a dragon. Points for alliteration, though.” They stared at the corpse a while longer until Talyah broke the silence.

“Now what do we do?”

“‘We’??? When did this become a ‘we’ thing? You’re the one who brought him here!”

“I did no such thing! Besides, what do you want me to do? Carry him out of here, bury him in the backyard, then?”

“That sounds like a most excellent plan!” The dragon exclaimed.

“It’s a terrible plan!” The princess countered.

“Why? I mean, I’m sure your parents have taught you to clean up your own messes.”

“My parents are the King and Queen. You really think they would teach me that?”

“You see? That’s your problem. You expect everyone else to do your bidding. You never take responsibility for your own actions.” Renzar carefully pushed his spectacles up his nose. In all the excitement they had slipped off his ears and slid dangerously low.

 

“Oh, that’s my problem, is it?” She huffed, arms akimbo.

“One of them.”

Talyah paused. “You know what, I’m going to do us both a favor and ignore that. For now. Because right now my problem isn’t my shoddy upbringing or whatever it is you were implying. My problem is that Prince Charming is dead, and his people are going to come looking for him and if we, yes we, don’t do something about this,” she waved her hand at the corpse, “they’re going to track him here and to you. Which,” she snorted. “Is perhaps what you’ve been angling for all along. Forgive me, oh mighty one. I didn’t realize fending off hordes of sword wielding princes and other detritus hell bent on invading your pocket of paradise here was on this year’s to-do list.”

Renzar waited until the last echoes of her diatribe faded away. “Are you quite through?” He asked with maximum haughtiness.

“Could be,” she answered stiffly. He sat motionless. “So then?” She prodded.

“I could do with a little less sarcasm,” he muttered.

“Well, I could do with a little less dead and bloody prince staining the floors,” she shot back.

Renzar scowled at her. She was annoying when she was right. But to be fair, she was also annoying when she wasn’t right.

“Now,” she continued in a more measured tone. “I can get rid of him but not in his present state.” She stared at the dragon and wiggled her eyebrows. He gave her his best blank stare. “You know, if you were to …” She simulated filling up her lungs full of air. He remained still. She pursed her lips and made as if to exhale loudly. He continued to stare at her stoically. “With the fire and the … you know…” She trailed off.

Unlike the rest of his kin, Renzar greatly disliked breathing fire. Hated it even. He could count on two talons the number of times he had done so. Mostly because it gave him terrible dyspepsia and dried up his throat and sinuses something awful. It would take days of a steaming regimen and flavorless broth to remedy. But it was, apparently, a day of exceptions. He sighed in resignation and motioned for Talyah to step aside.

“Oh, wait!” She called out. Renzar clamped his mouth shut and nearly choked on the heat rising from his belly. He coughed out a puff of smoke. “Sorry,” she said as she came out from behind him. “I should probably hang on to your specs.”

“Why?” He strangled out as more smoke escaped from his mouth.

“Just in case.”

“Right,” he replied. He had no idea what she was on about but was loathe to spark another round of pointless arguments. He hoped the sooner he dispensed with this unpleasant business, the sooner he could return to his meditation practice. He lowered his head toward her, and she deftly removed the spectacles from his head. Talyah scampered behind Renzar as the dragon took a deep breath.

 

Renzar and Talyah

Renzar’s eyelids grew heavy, his nose dipping low as his custom made spectacles began to slip off his face. The book of meditation practices he had been reading lay at his feet, neatly bookmarked. Focusing on the ebb and flow of his breathing and the clearing of clamoring thoughts cluttering his mind, he began to descend into a peaceful repose.

“Renz!” Talyah yelled, startling him out of his revery. Renzar snorted himself to wakefulness, his spectacles falling to the gold coin covered floor with a soft tinkling. He blinked at the general direction of the disturbance.

“Tal?” He asked, swiveling his head around, “is that you?”

“Who else would it be?” She demanded.  She sounded angry. Or merely awake. Hard to tell with her sometimes.

“Well, it’s not Tuesday, is it?” Renzar asked, still trying to get his bearings. He shrugged his shoulders, unfurling his massive wings slightly.

“No, it’s not.” The echo of her hesitant footfalls were muffled as she gingerly picked her way around the various treasures littered about the cavernous yet brightly lit hall.

Renzar turned toward her voice, rearranging his considerable bulk atop a shifting pile of coins and various other gold things. “So what are you doing here?” She tapped him on the fore hoof, hoisting up his spectacles with both hands. He lowered his head so she could secure them around his ears.

“I really must make a strap of some sort,” She muttered to herself. Renzar carefully adjusted the specs with a talon and grunted in satisfaction. His face contorted itself into what one could only assume was a smile.

Talyah, on the other hand, was not smiling. Renzar was a novice in the study of human behavior, but even he could tell that she was definitely not in the mood for an in-depth and insightful discussion about the many benefits of a regularly maintained meditation practice.

“Errrm… something wrong?” He asked solicitously.

“Besides everything?” She flung both her arms up and let them fall limply by her side.

“There can’t really be anything besides everything, can there? I mean, by definition, ‘everything’ means —-.”

“There’s a stupid prince after me,” she broke in, tucking her chin as low as she could and crossing her arms tightly across her chest. “Of the Charming line. You know them?”

He nodded in assent. “A persistent bunch.”

“A persistent annoying bunch,” she amended. “I have a couple of cousins who fell prey to their lot. Happily ever after my big fat —-“

Renzar made a rumbling sound in the back of his throat that sounded like the earth unfurling its limbs after a long nap.

“Eye,” she said. “I was going to say ‘eye’.” The dragon turned his head and stared at her with his unblinking amber colored eye. Talyah stared back for a beat before turning her head away, rubbing at her now watery eyes.  There was no out staring a dragon. “Anyway,” she continued. “I need you to kill him.”

“What?!” Renzar squeaked. Dragons don’t squeak but Renzar made an exception.

“Well, that’s what you do, innit? Princes come to slay dragons, dragons incinerate them. Wet, lather, rinse, repeat.” She brushed some dirt from her leather trousers in a manner Renzar would have thought to describe as “studious nonchalance.” Had he ever thought to describe her actions at all.

Renzar primly sat up to his full height, which was impressive even for a dragon, and pursed his lips. Inasmuch as a dragon can purse his lips or even has lips to purse.  “How long have we known each other?” He asked.

Talyah waved an arm. “Most of my life?”

“And how many princes have you seen me, how did you put it?  ‘Incinerate’?”

“None, but —-“

He silenced her with a raised talon.

“But,” she persisted, “It’s not as though I see you everyday. I don’t know what you get up to when I’m not around.”

“Oh, so I’m just roving the countryside, wantonly setting fire to princes, then?” Talyah shrugged. “Just a mad dragon scorching the earth and everyone on it for no discernible reason. I mean, how is this even a remotely appropriate thing to ask? Ludicrous,” he muttered and tossed his head. His pearlescent obsidian scales flashed a brilliant purple then turquoise and back to black again.

“So you’re not going to help me?” she asked incredulously.

“Why does ‘help’ in this case have to mean murder?” He demanded.

Talyah threw her head back in what Renzar surmised was frustration and made a gurgling sound in her throat while clawing the air. “Why do you always have to be so melodramatic?” She wailed. And before Renzar could object or even point out that between the two of them, she was the one more likely to be described as such, she barreled on. “Besides, you know how they are! They never take ‘no’ for an answer! Even if I ran away, assumed a new identity, cut off all my hair, he’d still find me!” She clenched and unclenched her fists and kicked at the coins by her feet as she paced to and fro.

Renzar made ready to launch into a tirade against her disrespectful treatment of his treasure, but just then they heard the echo of Talyah’s name being called by a rather robust baritone in a distinctly sing songy way. It set the dragon’s scales on edge.

“You led him here???” Renzar could barely contain his outrage. Had he a pearl necklace, he would have clutched at it.

“Of course I didn’t lead him here!” Talyah countered. “Not purposefully anyway. Must have tracked me here. I told you!”

Prince Charming found his way onto the balcony overlooking the great hall, spotted Talyah by the dragon and immediately drew his sword. “Foul fiend,” he bellowed. Talyah and Renzar rolled their eyes in unison. “Fret not, dear heart. I shall slay this beast and free you from its evil clutches!”

Talyah raised her eyebrows at Renzar and inclined her head ever so slightly. Renzar responded with an almost imperceptible shrug. “Dear heart?” He whispered.

“I told you he was an idiot,” she proclaimed in response; loud enough to ensure that the interloping prince could hear.

In an obviously well-rehearsed maneuver, Charming vaulted over the balustrade and leapt onto the pile of treasure below. However, in an unpracticed maneuver, the pile, not being as compacted as he expected and less inclined to be so agreeable, shifted dramatically beneath his weight exposing the hard stone slab underneath. And sadly for Prince Charming, he lost his footing all together, allowing his head to connect soundly with the unyielding stone. A loud and squealchy thud reverberated about the hall. Renzar and Talyah winced.

The duo slowly made their way toward Prince Charming’s now immobile body.

“Huh.” Talyah said.

“What?”

“Never seen a dead body before,” she said. “He just looks like he’s sleeping, no?”

“With his eyes open?” Renzar asked.

“Well.”

“And half his head caved in?” Talyah opened her mouth for a response, realized she had none and clamped it shut again. “With all this blood —-“

“All right already,” she snapped.

“I suppose it’s too late to inform him that I’m neither foul nor a fiend.” Renzar offered.

“I suppose so,” she agreed. “Although, he probably wouldn’t have believed you anyway.”

“No. He didn’t seem the type to listen to reason.  Especially from a dragon. Points for alliteration, though.” They stared at the corpse a while longer until Talyah broke the silence.

“Now what do we do?”

“‘We’??? When did this become a ‘we’ thing? You’re the one who brought him here!”

“I did no such thing! Besides, what do you want me to do? Carry him out of here, bury him in the backyard, then?”

“That sounds like a most excellent plan!” The dragon exclaimed.

“It’s a terrible plan!” The princess countered.

“Why? I mean, I’m sure your parents have taught you to clean up your own messes.”

“My parents are the King and Queen. You really think they would teach me that?”

“You see? That’s your problem. You expect everyone else to do your bidding. You never take responsibility for your own actions.” Renzar carefully pushed his spectacles up his nose. In all the excitement they had slipped off his ears and slid dangerously low.

 

“Oh, that’s my problem, is it?” She huffed, arms akimbo.

“One of them.”

Talyah paused. “You know what, I’m going to do us both a favor and ignore that. For now. Because right now my problem isn’t my shoddy upbringing or whatever it is you were implying. My problem is that Prince Charming is dead, and his people are going to come looking for him and if we, yes we, don’t do something about this,” she waved her hand at the corpse, “they’re going to track him here and to you. Which,” she snorted. “Is perhaps what you’ve been angling for all along. Forgive me, oh mighty one. I didn’t realize fending off hordes of sword wielding princes and other detritus hell bent on invading your pocket of paradise here was on this year’s to-do list.”

Renzar waited until the last echoes of her diatribe faded away. “Are you quite through?” He asked with maximum haughtiness.

“Could be,” she answered stiffly. He sat motionless. “So then?” She prodded.

“I could do with a little less sarcasm,” he muttered.

“Well, I could do with a little less dead and bloody prince staining the floors,” she shot back.

Renzar scowled at her. She was annoying when she was right. But to be fair, she was also annoying when she wasn’t right.

“Now,” she continued in a more measured tone. “I can get rid of him but not in his present state.” She stared at the dragon and wiggled her eyebrows. He gave her his best blank stare. “You know, if you were to …” She simulated filling up her lungs full of air. He remained still. She pursed her lips and made as if to exhale loudly. He continued to stare at her stoically. “With the fire and the … you know…” She trailed off.

Unlike the rest of his kin, Renzar greatly disliked breathing fire. Hated it even. He could count on two talons the number of times he had done so. Mostly because it gave him terrible dyspepsia and dried up his throat and sinuses something awful. It would take days of a steaming regimen and flavorless broth to remedy. But it was, apparently, a day of exceptions. He sighed in resignation and motioned for Talyah to step aside.

“Oh, wait!” She called out. Renzar clamped his mouth shut and nearly choked on the heat rising from his belly. He coughed out a puff of smoke. “Sorry,” she said as she came out from behind him. “I should probably hang on to your specs.”

“Why?” He strangled out as more smoke escaped from his mouth.

“Just in case.”

“Right,” he replied. He had no idea what she was on about but was loathe to spark another round of pointless arguments. He hoped the sooner he dispensed with this unpleasant business, the sooner he could return to his meditation practice. He lowered his head toward her, and she deftly removed the spectacles from his head. Talyah scampered behind Renzar as the dragon took a deep breath.

 

The Witch in the Woods

The woman was studiously minding her own business when she heard a ruckus outside her house.  She cautiously cracked the front door open and peered out.  Two small children were voraciously stuffing fistfulls of the exterior wall into their maws.  The woman opened the door wider.  “Can I help you?” She inquired. The two children ceased their feasting, icing and cookie crumbs and dirt smeared across their faces and their hands.  The boy stepped in front of the little girl. The woman made note of their disheveled appearance.  “Have you two been in these woods all night? Would you like to come in?”  The little girl stared hungrily at the brightly lit interior of the house with big round eyes while the boy pushed her behind him as he backed away. “It’s nice and warm in here and I can make you some proper food,” the woman said.  The boy’s hand went to his stomach and he stopped in his tracks to look at the girl.  They had a short whispered consultation before slowly shuffling into the open doorway.  

“So,” the woman began, “you have any names?” She asked as she secured the door closed with several locks and latches. The children watched her warily in silence.  “Right,” she said.  “No first names. That’s smart.”  She made her way to the kitchen and told the children to make themselves at home.  They timidly sat at the kitchen counter, their heads swiveling and eyes darting all around the room.  “Looks much bigger on the inside, doesn’t it?” The woman set two plates of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and two glasses of milk in front of the children who eyed them with suspicion.

“Are you a witch?” The little girl blurted out which earned her a sharp pinch from the boy. “Oww!” She yelped.

“I’m sorry for my sister, ma’am,” the boy said.  “She doesn’t know any better.”  The little girl jutted out her lower lip and rubbed at the sore spot on her arm.

“No. I’m not a witch,” the woman said with a chuckle. “If you thought I was, why did you come inside?”

The boy chewed on his lip. “Only, you live in the middle of the woods in a gingerbread house.”

The woman nodded. “That I do.”

“They say there’s a witch who lives in a gingerbread house in the middle of the woods. Who eats children.”

“Who says that?”

The boy gulped.  “People.”

“Well, I don’t eat children. That’s disgusting. Besides, if you thought I would eat you, again, why would you come into my home?”

The boy blinked at her while the little girl suddenly produced a large hand cannon from somewhere in the folds of her dress. She rested it on the counter pointed directly at the woman’s chest and eyed the woman coldly.

“Nice place you got here,” the little girl said.

“It’s all right,” the woman responded coolly. 

“My brother and I have been looking for a new place to live ever since our cow of a stepmother forced our father to kick us out of the house.”

“Hmm, imagine that,” the woman murmured.

“So I think we’ll stay here a while.”

“Is that so?” The boy got up from his seat and approached her with some rope in his hands.

“What do you think, sis? The witch in the woods will fetch a good bounty,” he said.  

“She could. But I’m hungry for some real food and that oven looks pretty big,” the little girl said without taking her eyes off the woman.

When the boy got close enough, the woman quickly pulled him to the floor and snapped his neck before he could do anything but die with a look of surprise on his face. By the time the little girl had realized what was happening, the woman had already launched a knife at her, burying it cleanly into her forehead.

“Where do these damn kids keep coming from?” The woman asked the silent room.

The Witch in the Woods

The woman was studiously minding her own business when she heard a ruckus outside her house.  She cautiously cracked the front door open and peered out.  Two small children were voraciously stuffing fistfulls of the exterior wall into their maws.  The woman opened the door wider.  “Can I help you?” She inquired. The two children ceased their feasting, icing and cookie crumbs and dirt smeared across their faces and their hands.  The boy stepped in front of the little girl. The woman made note of their disheveled appearance.  “Have you two been in these woods all night? Would you like to come in?”  The little girl stared hungrily at the brightly lit interior of the house with big round eyes while the boy pushed her behind him as he backed away. “It’s nice and warm in here and I can make you some proper food,” the woman said.  The boy’s hand went to his stomach and he stopped in his tracks to look at the girl.  They had a short whispered consultation before slowly shuffling into the open doorway.  

“So,” the woman began, “you have any names?” She asked as she secured the door closed with several locks and latches. The children watched her warily in silence.  “Right,” she said.  “No first names. That’s smart.”  She made her way to the kitchen and told the children to make themselves at home.  They timidly sat at the kitchen counter, their heads swiveling and eyes darting all around the room.  “Looks much bigger on the inside, doesn’t it?” The woman set two plates of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and two glasses of milk in front of the children who eyed them with suspicion.

“Are you a witch?” The little girl blurted out which earned her a sharp pinch from the boy. “Oww!” She yelped.

“I’m sorry for my sister, ma’am,” the boy said.  “She doesn’t know any better.”  The little girl jutted out her lower lip and rubbed at the sore spot on her arm.

“No. I’m not a witch,” the woman said with a chuckle. “If you thought I was, why did you come inside?”

The boy chewed on his lip. “Only, you live in the middle of the woods in a gingerbread house.”

The woman nodded. “That I do.”

“They say there’s a witch who lives in a gingerbread house in the middle of the woods. Who eats children.”

“Who says that?”

The boy gulped.  “People.”

“Well, I don’t eat children. That’s disgusting. Besides, if you thought I would eat you, again, why would you come into my home?”

The boy blinked at her while the little girl suddenly produced a large hand cannon from somewhere in the folds of her dress. She rested it on the counter pointed directly at the woman’s chest and eyed the woman coldly.

“Nice place you got here,” the little girl said.

“It’s all right,” the woman responded coolly. 

“My brother and I have been looking for a new place to live ever since our cow of a stepmother forced our father to kick us out of the house.”

“Hmm, imagine that,” the woman murmured.

“So I think we’ll stay here a while.”

“Is that so?” The boy got up from his seat and approached her with some rope in his hands.

“What do you think, sis? The witch in the woods will fetch a good bounty,” he said.  

“She could. But I’m hungry for some real food and that oven looks pretty big,” the little girl said without taking her eyes off the woman.

When the boy got close enough, the woman quickly pulled him to the floor and snapped his neck before he could do anything but die with a look of surprise on his face. By the time the little girl had realized what was happening, the woman had already launched a knife at her, burying it cleanly into her forehead.

“Where do these damn kids keep coming from?” The woman asked the silent room.