“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”
The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.
“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”
As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn reads the introduction, as provided by author Rebekah Cryder:
James Connors. General Surgeon, very jaded and set in his ways. Has been married twice, both ended in divorce. His niece, Clara, died three years ago from brain cancer. Dr. Connors and his second wife, Joyce, raised Clara, and were naturally very affected by her death. This is what ultimately led to their divorce.
“Welcome, Dr. Connors!” Will greets the man now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – what is it even like to be in your sixties?? ‘Cause, yeah, on one level, I may have sort of lived that long, but with Avalon immorality keeping me from aging, the whole senior citizen thing is kind of outside my experience.”
“Well I’ve not really found myself slowing down too much. I’m fortunate. As a doctor, I know what I need to do to keep myself going as long as I can. Some days I find myself slowing down, but for the most part I don’t feel much different than I did at 30. I’ve been toying with the idea of retirement, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready for gardening.”
“There’s always shuffleboard,” Will quips, then sobers. “But listen, I am so sorry about the loss of your niece. And the dissolution of your marriage. And of your other marriage.” His mouth turns down sympathetically. “How are you holding up?”
“You know, Kid? Some people might call you impertinent.”
Will points to himself like, Who, me? A half-smothered chortle, meanwhile, can be faintly heard coming from the direction of Allyn off-camera.
The doctor continues, “There was a time when I’d reach across and smack you for asking me something like that. But then again, people change. I didn’t used to believe that, you know? I spent a long time being the exact same man. Clara did that to me. Or at least softened me to it. I miss her… My first marriage ending was my fault. I never left the office. There was always one more thing I could finish. One more piece of paperwork. One more test I could run for a patient. Then she left, and I didn’t have anybody to go home to. Joyce and I, well, that was different. We were both at the hospital most of the time. I don’t honestly know why she left, but I think the strain of Clara’s death was too much for us. I haven’t spoken to Joyce since, but I think it’s better that way.”
Will’s brow creases at that last statement, but he shakes off whatever’s on his mind, asking instead, “Why don’t you tell me about Clara? How did you and Joyce come to be her guardians? What do you remember most fondly about her? How about the moments where she drove you nuts? C’mon,” he says, smiling playfully, “there have to have been some.”
“Oh, Clara! She was so intelligent, and creative. She was always coming up with new stories that she’d tell to me every night. I taught her to play chess, and within two weeks she could whip me. Joyce and I took her in when her daddy left. Her mom had… a lot of problems. Drugs and alcohol. We couldn’t say no. Joyce and I devoted ourselves to that girl. I can honestly say I don’t think she ever drove me— no wait, I take that back. She loved to play the piano, but she was awful! No matter how much I asked her to stop, she’d just shake her head and keep at it. She practiced for hours every week, and I don’t think she ever actually improved. It drove me crazy listening to it, but I admired her tenacity.”
Will chuckles. “I don’t think any minstrels I know would call tenacity over talent admirable. So much the better that you were the one with Clara in your life. Now, I’m told your motto as a surgeon is ‘care for patients without caring’. Do you find it difficult to maintain that emotional distance?”
“I’ve never struggled with that. From my very first day of med school on, I was determined to be able to keep a clear mind and always be able to do what was right, without allowing my personal feelings about the patient to get in the way. And I did just that. Too often you hear of doctors who let their personal feelings get in the way, and that leads to sloppiness, and unnecessary mistakes. I don’t want to be like them.”
“Of which your patients are most appreciative, I’m sure. I, meanwhile, am most impatient to have my final question addressed. Tell me it to me straight, Doc: What is your author Rebekah’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He arches an eyebrow. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
“Her deepest, darkest secret? She dances to Shake it Off in the car when she’s stuck in traffic!”
“Whoo-hoo, traffic dance party! Way to make the most of rush hour. ;D On that musical note: Allyn, how ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor?”
“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by Rebekah Cryder’s short story, ‘Pills’.
We meet Dr. James Connors when he is in his sixties. He’s been at the same hospital for nearly thirty years. Always the professional, James’ motto is “care for patients without caring”. In other words, don’t get attached. This rule has served him well in his time as a surgeon, but he finds himself very deeply vested in a puzzling case involving a twenty year old girl, Hailey. He finds himself drawn to her because of her similarities to his niece. James and Hailey become closer throughout the course of the story, which culminates in her diagnosis (a rare disease with no cure), and leaves James to pick up the pieces and attempt to move on with his broken life.
“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Doctor Connors. And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided in this post, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”