We begin first thing in the morning in the writer’s office. Three of the four walls are covered with paper–articles, notes, pictures. There doesn’t seem to be any order to them. The last wall has floor to ceiling shelves filled with books and a few mementos. The sunlight floats in from a smudged window above the rather large desk. We find John E. Smith asleep at his desk, his cheek resting on the keyboard in front of him. Loud barking interrupts the otherwise peaceful moment. John opens one, bloodshot eye.
John: Go to bed, Tolstoy!
Narrator: John closes his eye once again, but Tolstoy–his dog–continues to bark. John sits up, shaking the cobwebs from his mind.
John: Alright, I’m up. (muttering) 9:30 already? I’m so behind.
Narrator: Now that our feisty, young writer is out of bed–or up from the desk rather, what do you suppose will happen next? John stumbles out of his office and lets Tolstoy out the back door, and then uses the wall to guide him back to the bathroom for a shower. John told us earlier that he uses the shower as a place to try out some of his dialogue, It wouldn’t be appropriate to join him in the bathroom, but we’ll have a listen through the door.
John A: (high-pitched voice) What in the world are you doing?
John B: (low voice) What’s it look like, dollface?”
John: (growls) What am I writing, a 30’s detective novel? Sheesh. What should he call her instead?
John B: What’s it look like, princess?
John A: It looks like you’re burying a body in our backyard.
John B: If you knew, why’d you ask?
John A: Of all the hair-brained, dumb schemes you’ve ever–
John B: Can we do this later?
John: (lets out a sigh) Do what? What are they going to do later? He has to tell her something now because she’s angry enough to call the cops.
(ringing cell phone) Beware! Your mother is calling! Hide! She can’t see you! Your mother is calling!
Narrator: John mutters to himself as he bangs around in the bathroom. He runs out and grabs the phone off of his bedside table.
John: What do you want, Ma? . . . No, Ma, I can’t. . . . Ma–Ma, I understand that you think this is important, but I have to work today. . . . You’re not going to die. . . . I promise. . . . No, Ma, I can’t do that either. I’ve told you a million times. . . . Of course I love you, and no, I don’t want you to die. . . . . . . . . . . Good-bye, Ma!
Narrator: While he was having that rather enchanting conversation with his mother, Tolstoy wandered into the room.
John: The nice thing about home phones is that you have something to slam down.
Narrator: It seems that not everyone in John’s life understands the demands of his job–a common malady among writers. Now, we follow John as he heads to the small kitchen off of his messy living room. There are dishes everywhere, trash piled high. John opens the fridge but finds nothing to eat. He grabs a piece of pizza from the box on the counter, snacking on it as he fills the tall coffee pot with water. He opens the dishwasher and takes out a coffee cup. It looks like he’s going to attempt to clean it out completely, but after putting up a couple of plates, he changes his mind. Instead, he rushes into his office and searches his desk. One could only guess what he might be looking for. Oh, it seems he’s found a piece of paper and a pen.
John: The drops of water slipped away like the golden years of youth. (pause) That’s perfect for the shower scene.
Narrator: Interesting . . . John sits down, shuffles some papers around, and then opens a window on his computer screen. His finger freezes over the mouse. His mouth drops open.
John: What? Noooo! What happened?
Narrator: (in a hushed voice) John grabs the screen, his expression falling into panic.
John: (voice rising) It’s gone! It’s all gone! Where did all these K’s come from?
Narrator: And with that, John E. Smith dissolves into sobs. Poor writer. Join us next time where we’ll discover just how John E. Smith deals with the shock of losing his life’s work. Will he recover? Only time will tell.