Alan Bored emerges from behind the screen. he looks the same but slightly lighter.
Laertus: well that was rude. you should listen to your fans when we're talking to you. you could learn something.
Alan, pointing to and shaving the top of the screen with his hand as if it were rounded but it's not, it's square: this, my boy, is rude. this is a rood screen. but all you half-baked Generation Betaers wouldn't know a good church if it bit you in the ass. so easy to lose faith in everything you burn out by age 18!
Laertus: i burnt out at 17, actually, i was advanced. taking college courses by then. just squaring the record. i'm a stickler for that sort of thing.
Alan: i've noticed.
Laertus: why did i hear Robert Mueller just now?
Alan: please, no more questions, you get me nervous. i take the temperature of the world, and then i start drawing. did you feel those tremors just now?
Dirg: prolly just your nerves.
Alan: heehee. that was the first time in my entire life i've laughed. nervous laughter but laughter just the same. you know i really did like Donald Glover's performance. that light show, it went against physics yet somehow still existed, i like that, i draw things like that.
Dirg puts his shoulder around Laertus's neck.
Dirg: now see? he's not all bad. i knew you had some cool in your detached manner.
Alan: i don't want to be this way. i just am. i suppose it's the curse of all writers. you have to greet your public to sell books but the reason you hide is the reason you became a writer in the first place. and don't try to coax me into revealing details. there's a wide gap between being a fan and being a friend. now that i see you up close, why are you yellow? you sick? you have yellow skin.
Laertus: that's just my Simpsons cosplay. on insta i purposely give my skin color as the default neutral skin of yellow instead of white. anything else would be a sin color.
Alan: well if that ain't a textbook case of racial nullification and self-loathing.
Dirg high-fives Alan but whiffs and misses.
Dirg: i know, right? he's just mad at heaven he wasn't born a Japanese.
Alan: you have an adult coloring book of nudes stashed in your cobby basement, huh?
Dirg: i at least keep a copy of David Lynch's Nudes.
Laertus: it can't be porn if it's hardcover, right? keep it classy, San Whatever.
Alan: i own a rare vhs of The Nudist Story. which you boys is your favorite porn site?
Laertus blurts out "what?" while Dirg blurts out "Shameless" at the exact same pinpoint moment.
Alan: hah. i believe the less strange-looking kid. who's naked.
Dirg: i really wanted to look up the show Shameless. but that's what you get when you punch in shameless.com.
Alan: that show is a ripoff of the much-better original British version. or Irish version i suppose. which is always the case. i can't believe Joe Piscopo starred in that SVU knowing that show's strong anti-Bump stance. it was an actual surprise they didn't make him the degenerate killer just to show off.
Dirg: Piscopo's with me. it was a shake-up. there wasn't an erosion of norms. instead of people hating each other more, it was that people could be unguarded around each other again. tell a dirty joke about grandma with grandma whilst eating natural peanut butter from the non-allergic farms. Bump is running chaos theory. chaos theory isn't chaotic, it's necessary. it's needed or we all become Maoists.
Alan: that's all i'm trying to do here. create a safe space for lads to be lads again. why can't we just return to being the rude garrulous rowdy bunch of boys who like to comment on the size of women's vaginas women have always loved? we're not hurting anybody, it's just online. and occasionally okay maybe we spit on the ladies with some insults over the fence. cos it's still kinda funny to do that.
Laertus: not even in an ironic way. alright okay, we've had our fun. well you have. time to get down to business.
Alan: you paying me?
Laertus: if you don't listen to the fans you WILL pay. i hereby demand...
at the golf course, Mueller slinks out of the hole on the 18th green. he emerges from his snake shape into the man he is today, dashing and dashed.
Mueller: wow! what a rush! remind me to eat off the top of Ashley Parker's head again! i don't know why Rod decided to cave on this day. Rod needs to get back to his inner Rodness, he needs to turn into a rod and see how that feels.
Bump: what are you doing here, Bob? what about you? even this poor excuse for a sport can't bring my rod up. i'm feeling sad. this thing has dragged on so much my wife Melanie left me and we remarried. it's choking the life out of my presidency. as we all know, choking is only helpful in tennis. i don't know what to do anymore, everything i do has already been done, have you watched the news lately? it's depressing.
Mueller: the reason i did SNL the other night was to give the American people the chance to hear my voice before they never wll get the chance again after you fire me. fight me, don't fire me.
at Genie's inconspicuous red door, Djokovic quietly knocks after tearing apart at the root two bushes with his racquet and moving them to his side. he wears a long brown trenchcoat and his racquet handle sticks out of his body like a sore thumb and gun. he wears a grey fedora and dark sunglasses with one shade punched-out revealing his crying eye.
Genie, in her lithe blanket robe one toe on her stone step: hello? too early. i only have one eyeshadow. you? what are you doing here? how'd you find this place? i told the realtor specifically NOT the suburbs NOT the suburbs, that's where the terrorists actually live. you know there's a particular niche out there called realtor porn?
Djokovic: i know. apparently the real-estate agent breaks the house in by fucking in it. can we not talk about this? at least not here outside? please. it's very hard for a man like me to come to a place like this for help. i finally had no choice, i had to turn the other cheek.
Genie: honey you're gonna need a LOT of help. you convinced yourself you have a mental problem in your head, which is far worse than actually having a mental problem in your head. could just be the racquet. you're gonna need TONS of my counselling. unfortunately i have a Grand Slam to prepare for. the one i hate. the clay makes my cheeks ruddy, i never like to look like i'm embarrassed by anything i'm doing. let's make this transactional. you play my French Open matches for me, i'll make sure you win your French Open matches.
cameramen swarm into the circle of Djokovic's location. they are terrorists holding long mics and cellphones, actual terrorists. Djokovic tries to hide but there's nowhere to run. except inside himself. he folds up into his trenchcoat and further smallifies himself into all the way inside the brim of his hat. until there's just a hat spinning mildly on Genie's cracked front porch.
Genie: you've turned yourself into your own head. this is progress. gives me a space to work with. but not space to work with, i gotta hurry up, i got two weeks to solve all your life problems.
in Hawaii, the lava is spewing red with rage. there is no more grey land left, only trees for the holidaymakers to climb up on palms. all the coconut milk has since turned dry with ash, the place is piled with tiny black mini bowling balls like so much unpicked trash on the beach.
Doryce: is this your doing? this was supposed to be our honeymoon.
Gladyce: honey, we have a lifetime to honeymoon. all our lives are gonna be going forward is one big eternal honeymoon. i'm happy. exploding with joy since i met you and you colored my life. that's not the culprit. look closer: the lava is orange, someone big is sad and orange with rage. the land is reshaping itself, creating a brand new Island cos the old one got old with decay and sin from all the illicit sex perpetrated on the Island Chain through the centuries from vacationers.
Doryce gives Gladyce's boob a peck.
Gladyce: don't feel glum. yeah somebody was asleep at the wheel over at Home Base. probably Jill. in the home country it's easier to control the volcanoes cos all ours are mini-volcanoes. i can't imagine Jill on a honeymoon, tho. don't laze about or you'll get caught up in the laze. lava haze, that's a new word that was made up just for this event. i love new magic spells!
Doryce, cracking a smile: i know why the wind blows and the volcanoes, too. it was that fucking session we had last night, the earth is reacting. our hotel room needed to be sanded over by the restless natives our sinful scissoring was that overpowering.
Gladyce: dear you tell yourself whatever your little head can retain. that's why i love you. just don't touch the arugula. i felt so bad for the locals they prepared the salad with such love but all arugula around the world has been tainted by this fire below, the soil is ruined for generations. the topsoil is okay for surfing but the bottomsoil fossilized WAY before it would have naturally. like us.
Doryce, hiding an embarrassed smile and touching her own butt: uh oh. i ate all the arugula on the island. the Big Island! all these horrendous earth-shattering melty globs of gaseous volcanic thunder down under are my fault. the earth is reacting. isn't this where Montezuma is from originally? i had to fart.
Doryce: hello? front desk? milk was a bad choice. i'd like to lodge a complaint.
native: a Portnoy's Complaint? tis no summer cold, madam. Hilo Hospital cracked cos of you. we know what you did, we're not stupid.
Gladyce: you can recover by just sleeping, you know. no medicine required.
at the Warriors lockerroom it's a much quieter scene. quitting time. Charles Barkley is on the ground, prone, squealing in pain, he touches his side and Draymond Green touches Charles's hand that's holding Charles's stomach in a grabbed coil of skin rope.
Dray: sorry, dude. was it something you ate?
Charles, struggling: it said donut. so i ate it. you know me. i ate the donut, and now i'm gonna die.
Dray: Chuck, Chuck, look up, before you go, i want you to meet my two daughters, fresh from the bakery of my wife's womb.
Dray scoots his two precious souls in tiny hairbuns glistening in the lockerrom sun, in their blue bathroom dresses, perfect princesses of pure colorless power. in front of his large knees. their dresses are too long to curtsey.
Dray: puro power. meet my offspring, my flesh, my daughters. conceived in an Hawaiian spring, green and hot. meet Laurel and this is Yanny. they will perform at the Princess Theater in Philly. some day. soon.
Charles, gasping: i need to exercise. i won't be able to remember your precious daughters' names, they're the same to me, they all blur in my ear and my mustached mouth, THERE WERE THREE LIGHTS! and three donuts. i ate them all, i couldn't choose. tell Genie she was too good and she did this to me.
and Charles Barkley sleeps on the slippery floor the rest of the summer as a hibernating bear.
Laertus: look at this, sir. this is your first-ever cover, before you were famous. it's the most famous comic-book cover of all time. because it's so real. the coloring is done lovingly. the inking is impeccable, not done by an imbecile. the protagonist looks so sad in his all-black. just a man, no woman. he falters in a circle standing like a potted plant, the most expressive forlornness on his Johnny Depp visage pale from lack of lockerroom sun. his black eyeshadow drips off his brow like noxious paint spouting fumes and blends nicely with the curling tip of his black lips. his body frame resembles the actual tree from The Halloween Tree.
Alan: please, let's not start that again. that was back when i was sad. in my sad days.
Laertus: sadder than you are now? this is a textbook example of pure art. it was at-the-surface, brutal, and honest. i felt something from this book, i felt my insides for the first time reading a comic book. the pages were colored in all drab tones of gray and black, which made the whiteness stand out. it shocked my system how good writing can exist in virtual graphics.
Alan: i remember those days. the character of the Wounded Watchmaker was inspired by me opening the red door on many occasions when i was a hostile hostel art student in Paris. soon i gave up, i couldn't stand people interrupting my genius, i hated all people who came from the outside, so i stopped answering the door. i never knew what time it was on our planet. the opening story entails the character of the Watchmaker who has to construct his own watches out of his late grandfather's gold nuggets bequeathed to him after the pirate incident. the grandfather was the pirate suing the government for fraud. the maker cuts his hand on that little bitch of a tiny fluted wheel on the watch that turns the turns. he knows no one so no one treats his wound which stays attached to him forever. i heard they call you Salad.
Laertus: where the hell did you pick that up? that was a closely-guarded secret. it's true but how?
Alan: it's called the internet. same for everyone i'm afraid. you boys want smoke now? i don't smoke, i am smoke.
Dirg: thanks. smoked too much as a kid, aye? speaking of British theft, or theft of British rather, i miss Skins.
Laertus: yeah we can all agree on that. British gays are cooler than American gays. must be the accent. will you help me roll up a skin? the papers are in my frontpocket but the powder is in your frontpocket. since you're already up.
Alan: that's a falsehood and misnomer. i don't believe the creator when he says "skins" are the cigarette papers. it comes from an ancient Irish expression "hitting the skins" which is a euphemism for sex.
Laertus: hey that does make more sense! the series is all about illicit sex so yeah that name fits. i mean virgins smoke, too.
Alan: thank you, Broccoli. i mean Salad! salad lad *British chuckle*
Laertus: hey! ugh. i don't want to be associated with Broccoli from ST:TNG, that guy was a nervous nelly loser. that guy is my future and this scares the holodeck heaven out of me. from the "salad days" quote and my lime-green hair.
Alan goes to highfive Dirg. the talented troubled author's hand goes right through Dirg's shoulder. Dirg was distracted and not paying attention.