GK: Hello?

SS (ON PHONE THRU: Duane? (PAUSE) It's your mother. (PAUSE) Remember?

GK: Hi mom.

SS: I just called to wish you a Merry Christmas, honey.

GK: Thanks, Mom. Merry Christmas to you.

SS: I hope you have a wonderful holiday and that you spend it among people you feel close to and who make you sing and dance and throw your head back and laugh and laugh and laugh.

GK: Well, I'm in New York, Mom.

SS: I know. Did you get your swine flu shot, Duane? I'm sorry, I know I'm not supposed to ask questions like that, but somebody has to care about you, so go ahead and shoot me, but I'm your mother.

GK: They're only giving it to special risk groups, Mom. Like elderly people, and people with immune deficiencies.

SS: You're in the highest risk group, Duane. You got that book you can't finish and you sit staring at the screen and eating your heart out. And as soon as you find a woman, she drops you as fast as she can.

GK: Can I call you back, mom? I have another call ----- on call waiting----

SS: Okay. Go ahead.

GK: I'll be right back.

SS: Okay. (CLICK)

GK: Hello?

SS: (EDITOR) Duane, it's Laura.

GK: Hi.

SS (EDITOR): I read your second draft this morning and I just don't think this works at all.

GK: Okay.

SS (EDITOR): It seems to me we're getting away from the main point of the story which is that the guy is terrified of women because he let his mother walk all over him so I don't see why we're making this into a coming of age story because, frankly, he never did come of age.

GK: Okay----

SS (EDITOR): I don't think we're going to be able to publish this, Duane. I'm sorry, but things are getting tight around here and this book ---- it just isn't happening.

GK: Well----

SS (EDITOR): Listen, I've got to run. I'll talk to you soon. Okay? Bye. Take care. (CLICK)

GK: Mom? You there?

SS (MOM): Of course I'm here. Where was I going to go? Standing right here, folding laundry. You still there?

GK: Right here. ---- Mom, listen---- I've got another call. You want me to call you back?

SS (MOM): No, it's fine. Put me on hold. I like Hold.

GK: You sure?

SS (MOM): Sure I'm sure. Take your call. (CLICK)

GK: Hello?


GK: Monica. Where are you?


SS: Right. Listen---- something came up and I have to go out of town for awhile.

GK: Oh. Everything okay?

SS: Okay in what sense?

GK: You'll be back for Christmas though. Right? We're still having Christmas together.

SS: I don't think so.

GK: Okay. Are you angry at me about something?

SS: I really don't have time to talk about that right now. But---- I'm giving up the apartment so----- you'll have to move your stuff out. It'd be nice if you could be out by the 24th. Okay?

GK: Christmas Eve?

SS: I know it's inconvenient but sometimes that's how it is.

GK: Is this in reference to something I said or did? (CLICK) Hello? Hello?

SS (MOM): Duane?

GK: Hi, mom.

SS (MOM): So what's your plan for Christmas, honey? You going up to the Berkshires ---- maybe one of your publishing friends with a big country home up there ----- famous writers for house guests ---- your chance to hobnob with Joyce Carol Oates and David Sedaris and Roy Blount? I sure can't blame you for hanging out with the glamorous and sophisticated. Heck, no. Your dad and me ----- or should I say, "Your dad and I"---- anyway, we're gonna get the same old artificial tree up from the storage space, the blue one with the foam snow, and put on the old folk-music records your dad loves and have our hot chocolate.

GK: Sounds good, mom. Well, I better let you go. You probably have places to go and people to see.

SS: I saw Lonnie in the mall yesterday. (PAUSE) She asked about you. (PAUSE) She looks nice since she had her hair redone.

GK: Uh huh.

SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): That was my only problem with Lonnie. Her hair. Her hair and the fact that she thought she owned you. That woman was a sexual predator.

GK: Mom, just get a grip, okay?

SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): If you'd gone off with her, you might as well have just killed me Duane. You might as well have taken an axe and (CRACKS) chopped me up into little meat cubes and thrown em out on the lawn for the crows to get.

GK: Mom, I haven't seen Lonnie in years.

SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): I just want what's best for you. That's all I ever wanted. And I'm glad you're happy there in New York. Say hello to Joyce Carol Oates for me.

GK: Okay mom. Fine. I've got to go.

SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Okay honey. So good talking to you now, Duane, bye honey, love you.

GK: Love you mom.

SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Merry Christmas, Duane.

GK: Merry Christmas mom.