CAST OF CHARACTERS
Scott: An accountant. Hair parted neatly to one side, slightly awkward, mid-thirties, three-piece suit.
Anne: A writer. Early fifties, wearing cute jeans and a jacket, an expensive but worn handbag. Her roots need attention.
Scott sits at a desk in his generic office. Anne knocks on the door.
Scott: Hi, Anne? Nice to meet you. Come in, please.
Anne: Thanks for seeing me.
Scott: Of course, have a seat.
Anne: Great. [She puts her bag down and takes a seat in a chair across from his desk.]
Scott: So … what can I do for you?
Anne: Well, [She shrugs.] I’m a writer.
Scott: I see.
Anne: And there’s something wrong. My money? – it’s gone. I think there’s been a mistake of some kind. A banking error. Some kind of hacking perhaps. I need someone to go over the math with me, because the numbers aren’t making any sense.
Scott: And when you say “writer”…?
Anne: Fiction. I write novels.
Scott: Really? Anything I’ve read?
Anne: Well, novel. Singular. I’m going to write another, of course. Down the road. Some day. But the one I wrote is called Obscurity.
Scott: [pause] Never heard of it. Sorry.
Anne: Yeah, well…
Scott: But to be honest, I don’t read much. Or at all really. Now my Aunt Phoebe [chuckling], she was a reader. She was very weird.
Anne: How so?
Scott: She read a lot, but really a lot. Like all the time.
Anne: And that’s weird because…?
Scott: It was crazy. She made everyone whisper in her house because she was always in the middle of some book.
Anne: Like in a library.
Scott: [He snaps] Exactly. Her house was like going to the library.
Anne: Sounds lovely.
Scott: But back to your finances…?
Anne: Yeah, so the problem is, I keep losing money and gaining weight, and I’d love to turn that situation right around, you know what I mean? [She waits for him to laugh; he doesn’t] You can see here [She takes a ragged piece of paper from her bag] I received an advance for my book.
Anne: And it’s gone.
Scott: Oh my. So we should review your deposits and withdrawals, and find out what happened.
Anne: [She hands him the paper.] I’ve jotted down the gist of everything. You know, fairly accurately.
Scott: [Studying the paper, leaning forward so they can both see it.] Yes, I see your advance here, and you say you deposited that?
Anne: Oh yes, immediately! Like the second it came. I posted an Instagram of me at the bank.
Scott: And then I see a few expenses… You withdrew $500 for “partied like it’s 1999”?
Anne: Well, yes, I mean, I published a book. I’ve been trying to publish a book for fifteen years. So when I got the check for the advance, it was certainly just cause for celebration. Wouldn’t you agree?
Scott: Fair enough. And “book tour shoes”?
Anne: I think that speaks for itself.
Scott: And next you have a deposit here labeled “one million joy-dollars” – ?
Anne: I was feeling really happy about getting published, so I made a note of the influx of happiness coming into the checking account of my life.
Scott: So … those don’t count those as actual dollars then, do they?
Anne: Well, if we’re going to be pedantic about it—
Scott: We are.
Anne: Then no, those aren’t actual dollars.
Scott: Okay so [He gets a red pencil and marks up the paper.] … the same goes for happiness-cash, elation-dough, and ecstasy-buckaroos?
Scott: That changes things considerably. And I see after that a rather large withdrawal marked “thinner, younger, more balanced me.”
Anne: I joined a health club, got a facial, and went on a yoga retreat.
Scott: That adds up.
Anne: Worth every penny.
Scott: Wait — What’s this “Facebook expenses”? Who pays for Facebook?
Anne: I do. I started to get really anxious about book sales so I paid $1000 for Facebook ads. Very strategic, highly targeted.
Scott: And did they work?
Anne: I have no idea.
Scott: What’s this other “$10,000 for PR”?
Anne: Books don’t sell themselves, Scott.
Scott: I see. And under the heading “non-negotiable, essential spending” – It says “X = $300”?
Anne: X = Xanax.
Scott: Ah, okay. And what’s “WWOWW!”?
Anne: Wine With Other Women Writers.
Scott: And why is that listed under “essential spending”?
Anne: [pause.] Are you seriously asking me that?
Scott: What about other income? Royalty payments? Are those on here somewhere?
Anne: Not exactly. But as Alexander Pope said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”
Scott: Right. Any free-lance writing?
Anne: Oh yes, lots. Articles, humor pieces, interviews.
Scott: [He turns the paper over] So… where are the payments for those?
Anne: [Laughing] Oh Scott, you’re hilarious.
Scott: Look, Anne — this business model isn’t … It’s no good. How do I put this? It’s obvious— to be perfectly straightforward — that you’re just plain losing money as a writer. You’ve got to stop this catastrophic hemorrhaging of cash.
Anne: But I’ve been investing my money.
Scott: Oh, thank God. You have investments?
Anne: No, I mean I’ve been investing in me. In my brand. In my second book.
Scott: But you don’t have a second book.
Anne: Not yet, I don’t. [She gets up, tucks in the chair.] This meeting has been extremely helpful. Wonderful, in fact. I’m so glad I met you.
Scott: But why? I mean, I’ve just told you that there’s no mistake. [He holds up the paper] You’re broke. You’re squarely in the negative. You’re completely screwed. You do know that your book advance was without tax withholding, right?
Anne: Sure, yeah, whatever. [Grabs her bag.] I gotta run.
Scott: Wait, what are you— ”
Anne: I just decided that my next novel is going to be based on your Aunt Phoebe. What a great character! The whole family tiptoeing around the house, books piled up in every corner? Yes! And I’ll call it… [she pauses] Tranquility. [She opens the door.] Thank you so much!
Scott: You’re welcome?
Anne: [She turns back] I can’t exactly pay you at the moment, but you are totally going in my acknowledgments, so we’re even, right?
***** THE END *****
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