Written by Joe Janes
99 of 365
(Lights up on Casey sitting at a table by himself with a stack of books. He takes one of the books and opens it up to a bookmarked page. He clears his throat and begins to read to the audience. The other characters are among the audience members in the house.)
CASEYRose was a magical waif of a teenaged girl who liked to dress up in a squirrel costume nearly twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Year round. Nigh on a decade. She only removed the tail to take care of business in the bathroom. She sometimes removed the head to help facilitate eating and drinking, of which she did very little, save for apples and apple juice. She loved apples. Red, shiny apples. She only removed the costume entirely when she bathed, which was not on any regular schedule, but only at the insistence of her close-quartered family about once a month. She would remove the body of the suit when she wrestled in her BVD underwear, but kept the head on for its protective qualities in the ring. One wrestler, Craig Pincers of Danbury High, once got Rose in the nearly impenetrable Wasserman Hook Hold which had the ill-effect, for Rose, of popping off her squirrel facial façade like a champagne cork. Locked in a tight embrace, their eyes met, Rose’s frozen in fear, Craig’s heated and laser-like. They held each other frozen in time until Craig quickly and suddenly and shamefully broke free once he became aware that his athletic cup was becoming filled with firm Craigness.
(Satisfied. He takes in a pause and sets the book down.)
CRAIG (Continuing)And that, my friends, is from Chapter Three of my latest novel, Scurrying to Live by Casey P. Adams. Does anyone have any questions or comments?
MIRIAMYou say this is your latest novel?
CASEYIndeed, it is.
MIRIAMHow many other novels have you written?
CASEYThis is my fifth novel.
MIRIAMI tried to find-
CASEYThis is my first published novel, Miriam Tobin from the Orlando Times. Available only here. At Borders.
CASEYAny other questions?
JAKEDo I need a token for the bathroom?
CASEYHa! I wouldn’t know that. You’ll have to ask one of the employees here.
NANCYCasey, I have a question. Rose likes to dress like a squirrel yet her favorite thing to eat is an apple. Seems odd, for a squirrel.
CASEYI haven’t heard a question, yet.
NANCYWell, why apples? Why not nuts?
CASEYOoh, two questions for the price of one. I’ll tell you. Apples are more romantic. They are red, round, smooth, firm, shiny and… forbidden. Delicious stuff. I spend twenty pages of chapter eight just describing the apples sitting in a bowl in Rose’s room. It’s a metaphor for fruit. Whereas nuts, I concede, may be more apropos for a squirrel, but describing them is absolutely no fun once you have it stuck in your head that they all look like scrota.
CASEYThe plural of scrotum.
JAKEIs today the day I can get 10% off all the books on the first floor.
CASEYI wouldn’t know. Maybe. Not this one, though. This is only available full price. $25. Cash.
MIRIAMI see in your press release that you are often compared to John Irving.
CASEYThat is true. Just like Irving, I often will go on and on and on about the littlest things. I am not afraid to boldly delve into the minutia and mine it for what it has to say about us, about life.
MIRIAMAnd Casey, who, exactly, compares you to John Irving?
CASEYMany people. People who have read my books.
MIRIAMAnd since four of those books have yet to be published and this one just came out thanks to (She reads the inside of her copy) CaseyCo Books, who are these people?
MIRIAMOther than friends and family.
CASEYIt’s not family, believe me. I have loyal readers. Prior to publishing this hard copy of my book, excerpts did appear on-line on my professional website “Casey P. Adams, author.”
MIRIAMWhat’s the URL for that?
JAKEAnybody can compare themselves to someone else. People compare me to Dick Cavett all the time. Penis size and everything.
CASEYLet me know when your review comes out, Miriam. I’d love to have a quote from you on my website.
MIRIAMYou may not after I write it.
CASEYAny other questions? If not, I’d like to read thirty pages from chapter sixty-three where Rose ponders her reflection in a puddle at the base of a tree sans squirrel head.
(People start mumbling excuses and getting up.)
ALEX (from the far back)I have a question. What do you do for a living?
CASEYI am an author, clearly.
ALEXYou make a living doing this?
CASEYI, well, I also work in the industry.
CASEYYes. It is an industry-related position.
ALEXThen why aren’t you behind the counter doing it, right now, Mr. Adams?
CASEYMr. Thomerson! I-I didn’t recognize you, at first. I thought you were off today.
JAKEI knew it! That guy owes me a coupon for free coffee. He failed to smile and give me my receipt last week.
CASEYThat’s not store policy!
CASEYWhat do you know? You’re a homeless person.
JAKEHey! I am a not-quite-homeless person.
MIRIAMI knew you weren’t legit.
NANCYOf course not. He doesn’t know nuts about squirrels.
CASEYI am a Borders sales associate and very happy with my job here, Mr. Thomerson.
ALEXThen why in hell are you trying to pass yourself off as a published author?
CASEYI clocked out.
ALEXThat didn’t answer my question
CASEYIt’s my birthday, Mr. Thomerson. My 40th birthday. My dream is to be a published author who does book signings for all his fans. I just wanted to live my dream.
ALEXWorking at a bookstore doesn’t make you an author. If you want us to sell your book, you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way.
CASEYI’ve tried that. No one will publish it.
ALEXWell, until someone does, we don’t sell your book here. How many copies do you have?
CASEYJust these five here. And about a hundred in the trunk of my Aztec.
ALEXThe book signing’s over. Time to get back to work, Mr. Adams. Oh, and happy birthday. Get yourself a free “day old” dessert from the café.
(Casey gets up, picking up his books.)
CASEYSure thing, Mr. Thomerson. I just need to go to the bathroom for a few minutes to, uh, collect myself.
JAKEHere. You’ll need a token.