Two Scenes

Justin Bieber interns at Akashic

K8 Hardy, Rrrookie, 2014. Wood, lacquer, cloth, leather, 14 × 24 × 15". Photo by Gunnar Meiner. Courtesy of Karma International and the artist.

All the Sad Young Literary Women

The following takes place in what looks like a doctor’s waiting room, with doors to the left and right. MADELYN, LAURA, and EDIE are seated on chairs. Five additional chairs are empty. While MADELYN and LAURA type on their phones, EDIE reads a book. The left-hand door opens and VIOLET enters. She nods hello to everyone and takes a seat. EDIE looks up.

VIOLET
How long is the wait?

EDIE
I think I’m next, and I’ve been here maybe five hours.

VIOLET
What’s your number? I’m 115.

EDIE
Number? I don’t have a number! Nobody told me you have to take a number!

The right-hand door opens and the RECEPTIONIST emerges.

RECEPTIONIST
Number 21,095, please. Number 95? 96? 97? 98? 99? 21,100? 101?

MADELYN rises. RECEPTIONIST leads her out.

EDIE
It’s not fair! I was here first! Where’s the machine thing where you take the numbers?

VIOLET
You have to register online. I mean, you had to register online. Like a year ago.

EDIE
Shit! Why didn’t any of you guys tell me?

LAURA
We both probably assumed you had a number, if you’re sitting in here.

EDIE
Well, damn.

LAURA
If you’re smart you take a number before you even start writing. They say not to take one until you have a finished manuscript. But believe me, there’s always time to finish a book between the time you take a number and when it’s your turn.

EDIE
Hold on. How long have you guys been waiting? I mean, before today.

LAURA
About a year. Actually longer. I heard my number might come up today, so I took leave. But not if they’re only on 21,101! Another wasted day. It’s going to be months before they get to 172.

EDIE
They could get to 115 today. Did you hear how many people weren’t here? You could be next.

VIOLET
They’re not “not here.” They’re in the other waiting room.

EDIE
What other waiting room?

VIOLET
The one for guys.

LAURA
There is no waiting room for guys. They go straight in.

The left-hand door opens and SCOTT enters and sits down.

LAURA
Excuse me, but this is the waiting room for women.

SCOTT
Did they call 21,095 already?

EDIE
They just called it. They ended up taking 101.

SCOTT takes a laptop out of his bag and arranges it on his knees.

SCOTT
Then I guess I’m next. It’s good I have a little time. I have to finish what I’m doing.

EDIE
You’re a man. You don’t have to wait in line. You can just go straight in.

SCOTT
I tried, but they said take a number and go to the waiting room.

EDIE
When?

SCOTT
This morning.

EDIE
And you got 21,195? Where’d you get it?

SCOTT
At the reception desk.

EDIE
But we’re waiting to see the receptionist.

LAURA
You mean we are. We meaning the three of us. You don’t have a number! You’ll be sitting here forever if you don’t go home, get online, register, and get a number.

EDIE
I’m trying to find out how to get a number in a way that doesn’t take a year.

LAURA
Oh, that’s real fair!

EDIE
No, I want to figure out how it works. Like, if a guy can go to the reception and get a number that will come up the same day, then why are there no guys in the waiting room?

SCOTT
Because they can’t find it! I was wandering the halls for five hours.

LAURA
I don’t think you should be next. You missed your turn today. You can come any day and get a number right away. It’s not fair. I’ve waited almost two years.

SCOTT
I took today off work. I’m staying, and I’m going in next.

VIOLET
I agree with her. They’re not going to call 95 again. I’m the one going in next. I have 115. She has 172, and she doesn’t have any number at all!

SCOTT
Maybe you’re right. I could come back next week. I mean, I don’t know what this book’s even about yet. Do you want my number?

LAURA
Do not give her your number! This is not for you to decide, who goes in when! Typical.

EDIE
But he offered me his number, and I want it! I have a finished manuscript!

LAURA
How many words?

EDIE
Three hundred pages. It’s a memoir.

LAURA
A memoir? You’re a college kid!

EDIE
It’s a memoir of my mother. She had me after she got raped by this Serb and escaped on foot to Italy and stuff, and then she was discriminated against in America as a Muslim.

LAURA
That’s not memoir. It’s biography.

EDIE
No, I went to Bosnia to try and find my father, so there’s lots about me in there.

SCOTT
But why? He must have been a creep. Talk to him, just to write a book? I don’t think I could do that.

EDIE
I didn’t have to meet him.

LAURA
Yeah, I bet finding him was real easy because so many guys answered the classified. “Did you rape so-and-so on or around August whatever, 1993?”

EDIE
No, there were witnesses! It was easy finding out who it was. But he was dead.

SCOTT
How’d he die?

EDIE
My uncles killed him. They buried him alive in this old cave-like thing, like a hole in the ground they used to chill beer, mostly, but during the war the roof started leaking so it got too wet to store anything. They tied him to this dead guy, face-to-face, so the bacteria and like gangrene rot from the dead guy ate into his lungs and everything while he was still alive. The dead guy was like, his, brother I think? Maybe his dad? It was totally brutal. I ended up having this huge fight with my mom about it. She actually felt sorry for the guy! Not the rapist, the other guy. But my uncles are great.

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