Writer sits, downstage left, at a desk in front of a laptop, he is surrounded by scraps of paper, discarded pens and pencils and forgotten mugs. A two person sofa is behind him, upstage right. It is also covered in paper.
Writer: Oh muses above! Hear my pleas, strike me with your divine inspiration! Allow me to feel the currents of creativity flow through my fingers and dance across the keyboard, so that I may give birth to a new world! Let me be your conduit so that I can meet the demands of my baying public! Hear me, and answer me! Please! (pause for a moment) Oh sod it.
Guest appears in the doorway.
Guest: (Cheerfully) Morning!
Writer looks up and groans when he sees Guest.
Writer: (Angrily) Oh no! What are you doing here?
Guest: (Performing the actions as he speaks) What am I doing? I’m coming through the door. Now I’m stepping into your flat, and now, as you can see, I am sitting down on your sofa.
Writer: You know that’s not what I meant. Why are you here?
Writer: (Perplexed) Tea?
Guest: Cup of.
Writer: Did I invite you?
Guest: Of course. Yesterday.
Writer: You were here yesterday? (Beat) Of course, I couldn’t write anything yesterday.
Guest: Are you blaming me?
Writer: Who else would you have me blame?
Guest: Well . . . you?
Writer turns away from Guest.
Guest: Can you write today?
Writer: I don’t want to talk about it.
Guest: Ha! Then you can’t blame me for you being in a rut. Now, I’ll sit here nice and quietly whilst you make me my tea.
Writer: (Sitting down) Would it be better if I died?
Guest: I couldn’t quite say.
Writer: (Turns in his seat to face Guest) I think it would.
Guest: Then do it.
Writer: I think I should.
Guest: Then do.
Writer: How dare you? You want me to die!
Guest: I never said a thing! It was you who wanted to die.
Writer: I don’t want to die!
Guest: Then don’t.
Writer: But I should.
Guest: Then do.
Writer: Oh what a conundrum!
Guest: To die or not to die? (Pause.) I could kill you, if you like?
Writer: You would do that?
Guest: It would be my honour.
Writer: (Joyously) Oh thank you! My friend! My honoured friend!
Guest: But make me my tea first.
Guest: I will kill you after I have had my tea. That is the reason I am here. For my tea, not to kill you.
Writer: So you won’t kill me?
Guest: Certainly I’ll kill you!
Writer: You monster!
Guest: You don’t want me to kill you?
Writer: No. I want to kill myself. I think I’ll look more dignified in suicide. You can’t look dignified whilst being murdered.
Guest: (Bitterly) There’s no helping some people.
Writer: I don’t know why I have you here.
Guest: You have no one else.
Writer: You’re nothing but a bother.
Guest: Nothing but a brother.
Writer: I thought you were a single child?
Guest: Who told you that?
Writer: You! (Frowns) Didn’t you?
Guest: I’m quite sure I didn’t. (Beat) Now, has that answered your question.
Writer: Of course not! All we’ve learned is that you’re a brother to someone! Frankly, that was not my concern at this moment.
Guest: (Crosses one leg over the other) And pray tell, what is your concern at this moment?
Writer: What am I? I cannot write, so I be not a writer. So if not a writer, then what?
Guest: An Er.
Guest: Remove the write from a writer and you have an Er.
Writer: An Er? How apt. It sums me up: Er. (Stands) ‘who goes that man?’ ‘He is but Er, pay him no heed.’ Let it be known that I renounce all past names. I am now: Er.
Guest: (Impatiently) Are you done?
Writer: Who are you? You question me? A man barely even an Er?
Guest: I may not be an Er, (Stands) but I am an Um!
Writer puts an arm around Guest’s shoulders.
Writer: What a pair. Um and Er!
Guest: What do they do all day?
Writer: The sky, the ground, themselves.
Guest: How can people so close argue? Why must they argue?
Writer: Because Um cannot admit that he is wrong!
Guest shrugs the Writer off and steps away.
Guest: I am wrong?
Writer: (Happily) He admitted it! Oh hooray! No more must we argue!
Guest: I was not admitting a lie!
Writer: (Sadly) Oh, then we must argue.
Guest: Let us not argue! Let’s have a third person decide who be right and who be wrong.
Writer: (beat) We know no third person.
Guest: We don’t?
Writer: We don’t.
Guest: (Pause as he thinks, then smiles widely) We do!
Writer: We do?
Guest: Mrs Lu!
Writer: That’s true. (Beat) Who’s Mrs Lu?
Guest: Who’s Mrs Lu? How can you not know her! She lives downstairs!
Guest: Quite so.
Writer: But I live on the ground floor.
Guest: No you don’t.
Writer: Yes, I do.
Guest: If you live on the ground floor, then why did I climb three flights of stairs in order to get here?
Writer: Well you obviously didn’t!
Guest: I tell you that I did!
Writer: And I tell you that you couldn’t have! Look, I will even prove it.
Writer: I want you to put your ear to floor.
Guest: The floor? What for?
Writer: I will knock on the floor and then, when Mrs Lu does not respond, it will demonstrate that there is no floor beneath us.
Guest kneels down and puts his ear to the floor.
Guest: When you are!
Writer slams his foot on the floor three times.
Guest: I heard something!
Writer: (Shocked) You did?
Guest: I did! Quick, quick!
Writer also kneels down and puts his ear to the floor. The pair stays like that for several moments.
Writer: I don’t hear anything.
Guest: She must be waiting for us to knock again.
Writer: Good idea!
Writer stands up. He knocks on the floor again.
Guest: There! There we are!
Writer: Did she knock?
Guest: She did!
Guest: Just now!
Writer: Just now?
Writer: No, no! That was me knocking!
Guest: How can that have been you? You don’t live downstairs!
Writer: There is no one downstairs! We are the downstairs!
Guest stands up.
Guest: Well then how are we going to decide who’s right and who’s wrong? (Pause) I suppose we could leave it a coin.
Writer: You have a coin?
Guest takes a coin out of his pocket.
Guest: I always have a coin! (Holds up a coin)
Writer: Then flip it for me.
Guest: I shall. Heads for me and tails for you.
Writer: Why should I be the tail?
Guest: Because I have all the brains.
Writer: But I am the writer!
Guest: You do not write, that makes you are an Er. So I am the brains and you are the tail.
Writer: Fine. (Folds his arms) Flip and be done with it.
Guest flips the coin and glances at it. He then throws it away.
Guest: (Folds his arms) The coin is wrong.
Writer: So I am right?
Guest: You are both wrong.
Guest turns his back on Writer and then sits down. Writer heads back towards his desk.
Writer: You always sulk like this. I don’t know why you come.
Guest: Because you have no one else.
Writer: And you do?
Guest: I do.
Guest: Mrs Lu!
Writer: Not true!
Guest: True, true, true!
Writer: Why do you see Mrs Lu?
Guest: (Stands angrily) Because she makes me tea!
Writer: I make you tea!
Guest: Ha! I have been coming here for as long as I can remember, and for as long as I can remember, not once have I seen a tea cup adorn this here hand of mine! Today I turn up for tea, but my taste for tea is turned away as we twitter together until it’s time to say ta-ta. Tomorrow I’ll turn up and tomorrow’s tomorrow and the tomorrow after until my taste for tea is tamed.
Writer: And Mrs Lu makes you tea?
Guest: With biscuits!
Writer: (Indignantly) Well then, why don’t you go off and get your tea from Mrs Lu then?
Guest: Maybe I will!
Writer opens his mouth to respond, then suddenly falters. He opens his mouth once or twice.
Writer: Say that again!
Guest: Say what again?
Writer: Not that! The that before that that!
Guest: ‘Maybe I will’?
Writer snaps his fingers together, then hurries back to his desk. He sits down and begins writing, at this point he becomes oblivious to the outside world, focusing solely on his writing.
Guest looks around awkwardly, unsure of what to do.
Guest: I’ll just go then, shall I? (Pause) I’ll be on my way. (Starts to slowly edge towards the exit, glancing back at Writer as he does so) I’m going now. (Pause, opens the door) I’m walking out the door. (Slowly puts one foot through the doorway) I’m out of your flat now (Places another foot out, still staring at Writer) ’til tomorrow? (Pause) Goodbye.
Guest exits, Black out.