Episode 19: The Devil May Care

[SCENE I. The campus of Portland University. MELISSA is walking along after class and runs into NICHOLAS, seated on a bench. She greets him with guarded cheer.]

MELISSA: Nicholas! I hear your ladyfriend turned out to be a crazy.

NICHOLAS: What? No, she was a revolutionary!

MELISSA: That’s not what I heard. I heard she was frothing mad and trying to get revenge on her ex-lover. (A thought occurs.) Do you think she’ll go frothing mad and try to destroy all of your works?

NICHOLAS: No.

MELISSA: I guess you don’t really have any works to destroy, so maybe you’re safe.

NICHOLAS: (A touch impatient.) Is there a point to this conversation? I was trying to study.

MELISSA: Just saying hi. Christ, Nick. No need to get all defensive.

NICHOLAS: There is when you are attacking me.

(MELISSA laughs and begins to walk off.)

NICHOLAS: I really wish that woman would leave me alone.

(A distortion of the surrounding environment suggests that time has stopped–indeed, MELISSA, not yet out of sight, seems to have frozen in mid-stride. THE DEVIL emerges from behind a pole.)

THE DEVIL: Hello, Nicholas.

NICHOLAS: Um. Satan?

THE DEVIL: The same. Though, did you know we share a name? They also call me Old Nick. You may call me that if you like. (He smiles devilishly.) I heard you want a certain someone out of your hair?

NICHOLAS: Melissa? I–okay, what are you offering?

THE DEVIL: I don’t suppose you’d like to sell your soul? We offer a pretty excellent return on souls.

NICHOLAS: What? No. I like my soul.

THE DEVIL: Why? It’s not like you’re using it. (He shrugs.) No matter. You’ll sell eventually.

NICHOLAS: So what do you want?

THE DEVIL: Just give me her microwave.

NICHOLAS: What, really?

THE DEVIL: Really. Bring it to the cemetery at midnight. In exchange I can guarantee she’ll never bother you again.

NICHOLAS: I don’t want you to hurt her.

THE DEVIL: (Shocked.) I would never! I like Melissa. I’ll just make it so that she stops bothering you.

NICHOLAS: Can you do that? I mean, it wouldn’t go amiss if she–

THE DEVIL: Sure, easy. Just stop by in her dreams some evening. Say ‘Hey, leave Nick Hayes alone.’ Make some spooky displays and some cheap threats. She’ll probably steer clear.

NICHOLAS: I expected–

THE DEVIL: That’s all you’re getting for a microwave, Nick. Now, for a soul–

NICHOLAS: Fine. (The DEVIL hands him a contract, which he signs. The contract vanishes.) What do you want the microwave for, anyway?

THE DEVIL: I find myself in the possession of a great deal of leftovers. (He points.) Better go work on her. I need it soon.

(Time resumes and THE DEVIL vanishes. NICHOLAS sighs and stands up.)

NICHOLAS: Actually, hey, Melissa?

(She stops, and he takes several jogging steps to catch up to her.)

MELISSA: (Making a show of checking the time.) What do you want, Nick?

NICHOLAS: We haven’t had drinks in a while. Now that you don’t hate me–

MELISSA: Ah?

NICHOLAS: –now that you hate me slightly less, I figured, you know.

MELISSA: (Amused.) Are you trying to seduce me? I thought you were into bottle blondes now. (Beat. Seriously.) I’m not dying my hair for you.

NICHOLAS: What? No, it’s–

MELISSA: (Wistful.) I might let you call me Charlotte though. It’s a pretty name. (Beat. Seriously.) I can’t promise I make kissyface the same way she does, though. Would that be okay?

(NICHOLAS looks horrified. MELISSA keeps a straight face for two beats before she starts laughing.)

MELISSA: The look on your face!

NICHOLAS: (Struggling to remain calm.) Is that a no?

MELISSA: It’s a “sure, but if I detect you putting on any moves there will be consequences.”

NICHOLAS: You don’t need to worry about that.

MELISSA: Of course I don’t.

[SCENE II. SARAH and MELISSA’s house. The living room is empty when MELISSA enters, followed by NICHOLAS. She is probably a little tipsy; he is suspiciously sober.]

NICHOLAS: So, uh, you wanted to watch a movie?

MELISSA: Yes! Let me see if Sarah is home. (She gives him a look.) You wanted to scare-quotes ‘watch a movie,’ didn’t you? (She runs upstairs and knocks on SARAH’s door. NICHOLAS, meanwhile, sits on the couch.) Small friend! We are watching pretentious movies! Come be social!

(SARAH’s door opens a crack. SARAH peers out, looking like she has just woken up.)

MELISSA: Pretentious movies, Sarah!

SARAH: Do I get to pick?

MELISSA: Yes!

SARAH: Sold. You can make popcorn. (She closes her door. MELISSA goes downstairs to begin making popcorn. Eventually SARAH re-emerges, wearing a royal blue bathrobe and carrying a blanket.)

MELISSA: Small friend! Have you picked out a movie?

SARAH: Yes. (She sits down on the easy chair and wraps herself in the blanket, and gives NICHOLAS a suspicious look. Meaningfully:) So, what are you kids up to?

NICHOLAS: Just catching up over drinks.

SARAH: (Clearly feels there is more to this story.) I see. (Glances at MELISSA.) That’s why you are sober and Melissa is not?

NICHOLAS: You know how she is.

SARAH: (Offended on her friend’s behalf.) I see.

(MELISSA returns, bearing two bowls of popcorn. She stands over NICHOLAS disapprovingly.)

MELISSA: Out! I am sharing the couch with Sarah.

NICHOLAS: What? I was–(He is cut off by a withering glare.) Fine. Whatever. (He gets up. SARAH claims his spot, and accepts a bowl of popcorn. MELISSA hands him the other bowl, and he sits on the easy chair. MELISSA sits down, and SARAH offers up half of the blanket.)

SARAH: I have decided that we are going to watch Blue Velvet. I will hiss and seethe if you argue. (She gets up just enough to put the DVD in, then sits back down.)

NICHOLAS: (A thought occurs.) Hey, that reminds me. Could I buy your microwave? Uh, Kelly needs an old microwave for an art project. She asked me to look out for one. I just remembered. (Beat.) I’d pay you for it.

SARAH: What do you want our microwave for?

NICHOLAS: Kelly needs it, for an art project. I said.

MELISSA: We like our microwave. You’d have better luck trolling thrift stores for one.

NICHOLAS: Uh, she specifically wants ones like yours.

MELISSA: She’s never been over here.

NICHOLAS: But she basically drew a picture of yours! (He pulls out his wallet and starts counting out cash.) Look, here’s a hundred dollars for it. (SARAH and MELISSA exchange looks.) Two hundred. Just give me your damn microwave.

SARAH: First it’s murdering krakens, now it’s joining chaos cults. Why are you going insane, Nicholas Hayes?

MELISSA: Nick, if you commit genocide or join a cult every time a woman rejects you, you’re going to run out of people who like you.

NICHOLAS: I didn’t join any cults! I just want your fucking microwave!

MELISSA: You know what? I just remembered that I had plans tonight to not hang out with any creepy cultists.

SARAH: Me, too!

MELISSA: So you’d better see yourself out. Leave the popcorn.

(NICHOLAS rises, gathers his dignity, and departs. He pauses at the door.)

NICHOLAS: I’m tired of you fucking with me, Melissa. I’m going to put a stop to it.

MELISSA: Ooh. Sarah, fetch my boots, that I may quake in them.

(NICHOLAS steps through the door and slams it.)

SARAH: You still want to watch Blue Velvet?

MELISSA: Oh, yes please! And I’m sorry I brought a creepy cultist to our house. I thought maybe it was time to give him another chance. I should have known he was only after me for my microwave.

SARAH: It’s okay. We’ll just have to cultist-proof the house, is all.

MELISSA: You’re the best, small friend.

[SCENE III. NICHOLAS’s car. He is driving home, clearly annoyed with himself, when THE DEVIL appears in the passenger seat.]

THE DEVIL: Hello, Nick.

NICHOLAS: Hello, Satan. Are you here to tell me I failed?

THE DEVIL: I was actually here to congratulate you! You’ve done everything I hoped you would. Better than expected, really.

NICHOLAS: Really? So you’ll help me?

THE DEVIL: (Laughs.) Don’t be silly. You signed a contract that, I note, you have yet to fulfill.

NICHOLAS: But you said I did everything you wanted!

THE DEVIL: Jesus Christ, do I have to spell it out for you?

NICHOLAS: God damn you, the Devil.

THE DEVIL: Already did. Anyway, thanks again for your help.

(THE DEVIL vanishes. NICHOLAS sighs and continues driving.)

(Fin.)

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