Dinner is served in the Madson household. Mozart’s ‘Serenade in G’ plays soothingly in the background. The decor features several exotic mounted animal heads; a rare painting or two; and in the next room we can see the music is not coming from a stereo system, but an actual man dressed up as Mozart, exhausted, but still playing. He has not slept in days.
Ryan and Sarah sit at either end of an extremely long banquet table covered in a fine feast. Ryan cuts into a thick cut of pot roast and smiles at his wife before bringing his fork to his mouth; before he can enjoy the succulent animal, the phone rings. The Madsons exchange exasperated glances before Ryan excuses himself and answers an antique phone, at first having some trouble determining which part to speak into.
Jayson: (30 seconds of unsteady breathing) Ryan.
Ryan: Yes, this is Ryan?
Jayson: Ryan, its Jayson.
(Closes his eyes and massages his forehead with his none-phone hand) I know. How’s it going Jayson.
Jayson: Just wondering what time you’re due in.
Ryan: Jayson, I—
Jayson: Because the bike tour starts at 7:30 in the morning. I figure we should be there at least an hour beforehand because it’ll so crowded. The guy said they definitely won’t be crowded on a Tuesday morning and the weather guy said there’s a 85% chance of thunderstorms but still.
Jayson: And then the bus tour I figure we can get at noon but that one is way less rigid because you can hop off or hop on the bus at any time. Isn’t that neat Ryan? You can join up whenever you want and leave behind all the pressure and hullabaloo of the past.
(Silence. Ryan waits for Jayson to speak. He does not; there is only breathing.)
Ryan: Jayson, Sarah and I are sitting down to din—
Jayson: And then at night there’s a cruise on the Potomac with an all-you-can-eat buffet and a “carving station.” What do you think a carving station is Ryan. Do you think it’s wood carving. That would be cool, I would make you a birdhouse.
Ryan: That’s very nice of you.
Jayson: Yeah. The whole city is very nice. Did you know that the Nationals are America’s team.
Ryan: I don’t—
Jayson: What are you having for dinner.
Ryan: We’re having a pot roast.
Jayson: Did you say “all-you-can-eat buffet?”
Ryan: I think you know that I didn’t.
Jayson: Huh, just saying all-you-can-eat-buffets are the best kinds of dinner and we would do that here. Sounds like you don’t get enough best kinds of dinner where you’re at right now, just saying.
Ryan: Jayson, I appreciate the… conviction with which you’re trying to get me to D.C., but at the moment, I am just trying to live my life.
Jayson: Ever think about living your life in D.C.? I mean it’s not like a direct relative of yours has ever had a problem with any aspect of Philadelphia or anything.
Ryan: (Ryan sighs, rubs forehead) She apologized for that.
Jayson: You know where apologies are so engrained in the culture that no one even notices when you give one? The Washington Nationals clubhouse. Just—
Ryan: –saying, yeah. You’re just saying. I hear you. I’m not ruling anything out. I just…
(Voice drops to a whisper)
Ryan: …just wish you’d stop calling and hanging up if Sarah answers, or sending me pieces of your beard in crumpled envelopes, or standing at our living room window during thunderstorms holding a Nats jersey with ‘Madson’ on the back, your creepy stare illuminated with every flash of lightning.
Ryan: It’s unsettling, Jayson.
(A weird scratching sound is heard. Ryan shakes his head.)
Ryan: Please stop rubbing your beard on the receiver.
Jayson: It wanted to say “hello.”
(Ryan gives the phone a disgusted look)
Jayson: It also wanted to say “Playing for the Nationals is great.”
Ryan: Goodbye Jayson.
Jayson: DON’T YOU HANG UP ON ME.
Jayson: Oh, you actually didn’t hang—sorry. Beard said that. I think he misses you.
(Ryan hangs up the phone)
Jayson: 7:30 am. Don’t forget Ryan.
(Silence; followed by weird scratching sound)
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
The Madsons are asleep in their enormous bed. The top cover is a bear’s coat, with the beast’s head still attached and transfixed in it’s final terrified facial expression.
The phone rings.
Ryan sits up, furious, and answers.
Greg: Ryan, it’s Greg Dobbs!
(Ryan yanks the phone cord out of the wall.)
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