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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

The Subheroes Chapter 4: The Plan Falls Apart

Submitted by on July 19, 2004 – 9:12 AMNo Comment

Diz hands the hen back to me and holds his hand out to —

Okay, can I — I’m sorry, I need to just stop you here for a second.

Shelley freezes, hen under her arm lineman-style, and groans, “Ohhhhhh no. NO no NO no NO.”

I know, I’m sorry, but I think this isn’t —

Ally looks at the ceiling, squinching up her mouth. “Who the — where is that voice coming from?”

Diz slumps onto the henless couch. “It’s the Author.”



“The Author,” Shelley snaps. “Who promised she wouldn’t interfere.”

Well, that’s not exactly what I —

“Just leave it, Shell,” Diz grunts, rooting around in his breast pocket. “It won’t help.”

“No, that’s what you said, you said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan,’ and I said, ‘Are you sure, because then the scene at the diner doesn’t –‘”

See, but that’s what I was thinking, that this isn’t working for some reason. I mean, it’s working right now, so far, but once the action really gets going, we should have an omniscient narrator. You know?

Shelley hands the hen back to Diz. “Okay, first of all? You should have thought of that before, because now I’ve got an office full of hens.”

Yeah, about that?

“About wh– oh, don’t tell me that. Do not tell me that!”

Diz lights a cigarette and counts down: “Three…two…one…”

Gio comes in the office door with a nest, plunks it down on top of a file cabinet, checks the eggs inside, looks around, grabs a hen seemingly at random, places the hen on the nest, waves, and leaves.

Yeah, there’s…chicks. Later.

Ally, still staring quizzically at the ceiling, makes a scissor motion in Diz’s direction. Diz puts his cigarette between her fingers, and she takes a deep drag and hands it back but he tells her to keep it.

“Dude,” Ally says, “this is…fucked up.”

“Pfft,” Diz says. “Wait ’til we get to Perth Amboy.”

“Perth AM-boy? What’s — what do we have to go to Perth Amboy for?”

“Well, Big Sadie?” Shelley sarks at the ceiling, picking a feather off the toe of her shoe. “DO we have to go to Perth Amboy?”

Perth Amb– oh, shit, The Russian.

“I knew it. Dude, you’re killing me here, but will The Queen of the Internet write a fucking outline? No.”

“Shell.” Diz stubs out his cigarette.

“What, she’s gonna write me out?”

Look, this is what —

“You’re gonna WRITE me OUT? I KNEW it!”

Okay, everybody just calm down. Diz, go out front and get a bottle of — wine, prosecco, something.

“On it, chief.” Diz goes out front.

“I had a bet with Marie!” Shelley snarls. “Who gets written out first! God! God, I should have seen this coming.”

Where is Marie, anyway?

Ally raises her hand.

You…don’t have to raise your hand.

“Oh. Okay. So, shouldn’t…YOU know where Marie is?”

Probably. I’m under kind of a lot of stress right n– oh, wait, she’s photocopying, that’s right.

Shelley puts her head in her hands as Diz comes back in with a bottle of merlot and four glasses. She’s muttering about notecards. Diz thwaps her lightly on the arm and she extends one hand for a glass.

Okay. Thanks, Diz.

“No problem.”

So, here’s the deal. I think we have to flip the — oh, first of all, nobody’s getting written out, so don’t worry about that.

“Oh.” Shelley looks surprised. “Okay.” Then she makes her wheedle face: “Although actually, if you could write out the he– ”

The hens stay in.

“Oh, come on.”

The hens stay in, Shelley. Find a way to cope. Okay, nobody’s getting written out, but we have to change the narration to omniscient third-person, and I think it has to follow the kid.

“But the kid — he isn’t even here yet,” Diz points out, lighting another cigarette. “And the Driver is a problem.”

No, I agree that the Driver is a problem, but it’s a third-act problem. Oh, also, the kid’s a she.

“He, she, whatever,” Diz says, “you’ve still got to get through all the exposition about Christine –”

Ally interrupts, “Wait, that’s not done yet?”

“You were supposed to do that,” Shelley tells her, sighing. “See, this is what I mean with the outline.”

“How was I supposed to do that? You were supposed to have the file already.”

“Hey, tell it to her.” Shelley jabs a finger at the ceiling. “I don’t write this shit.”

Well, it’s not like you read the file, either.

“Oh, are you starting with me? Do you want to start with me now, Jersey? I will KICK your –” Shelley’s climbing up on a chair and rolling her sleeves up.

“For God’s sake, Shelley, get down before this turns into that Bugs Bunny cartoon where Daffy gets erased.”

“Oh, and YOU. She made you a soup Rain Man and you’re just going to sit there and tell ME shit?”

Notice how she doesn’t say she read the file, just wants to start throwing punches. Cute. Get down, Finch, or I’ll saddle you with an ugly husband.

“I was GOING to read the file, but I had a bunch of HENS in my office!”

In half an hour, you’re going to read the whole file?




Oh, no, that guy.

“Who is on his way in here with his team, which you might want to look into, genius.”

Ally gets up. “Okay, it’s obvious I came at a bad time…and the thing is, I really do need to figure out how to get Christine –”

“It’s okay, we’ll get it sorted,” Diz says, taking her arm. “Just hang out for ten or fifteen minutes. Sadie, tell her Carin and Abe stay in.”

Yeah, yeah, Carin and Abe stay in, that’s already written. Ally, you have to stay, without you we don’t have a story. Have a glass of wine, we’ll be done here in no time. I’m sorry about this, really, but it’s going to work out better.

Shelley snorts, clambers down off the chair, and flops petulantly into it.

All right with the sulky flouncing — you know, this helps you. Now you can just do the job and not have to worry about telling the story too, it’s a lot less on your shoulders.

“Only if the kid doesn’t fuck it up.”

The kid has to fuck it up, kind of, that’s the story too.

Ally starts to raise her hand but then remembers she doesn’t have to and lowers it again. “Can I — I have a question. Well, I have a squillion questions, but let’s start with who the kid is. Because, who is the kid?”

You’ll see.

“Can’t we just tell her?” Diz asks.

Little Andy sticks his head in. “Need anything back here? Bottle of red?”

“No, we’re good. Thanks, And.”

“Kid’s still not here yet.”

Yeah, we know.

Little Andy looks up. “Hey. Everything all right?”

Working on it. You got any pretzels out there?

“We got nuts.”

Bring ’em.

“You got it.”

Okay, where was I?

“You weren’t going to tell her who the kid is,” Shelley sighs, reaching for Diz’s pack of smokes. Diz smacks her hand. “Diz, one cigarette?”

“You owe me a carton already.”

“So what’s one more.”

Just give it to her, Diz, I don’t have all day. Okay. Ally, the kid, it’ll explain itself. Sort of.

Ally frowns. “So…okay. My next question is, what…what do we do now? Until the kid?”

And it’s a good question. You stay here.

“And just wait.”

Won’t be long. Yes, just wait.

Shelley pumps her thumb at Diz. He rolls his eyes and hands her a lighter.

“And us,” she says around a lit Camel, “we just wait here too?”

Yep. You all just wait here, I have to go back to the beginning and do some background crap and then when the kid gets here — you come in with the kid. Eeeeeeverybody comes in with the kid.

“Everyone comes in with the kid,” Diz repeats, brow furrowed. “So The Russian…”

No, forget — okay, don’t forget The Russian, but I have to start the story over, so just forget everything that already happened. Everybody we already saw just comes in again later like we never saw them before. We start over, somewhere else, third-person narrator, following the kid, and when we follow the kid in here, you’re on.

“Gotcha,” Diz says. “Now, about the soup thing.”

Yeah, I don’t know if that’s staying in.

“‘Cause I can live with it.”

“Diz, tell her to dump it, it’s twee,” Shelley tells him.

I just don’t know yet if we’ll need it. I don’t know if Diz is going to stay the same, I might need to redraw that character. He’s a little too…I don’t know.

“Don’t make him a dick, I don’t need that crap,” Shelley sighs.

He’s not a dick. He’s just different.

Andy comes in with a few bowls of nuts. Ally pulls a bowl over next to her on the table and begins eating nut after nut automatically, apparently not tasting them.

Ally, you look confused.

“‘Confused’ doesn’t even begin. I just…I don’t see how this is going to work. Don’t you need The Russian in here? And whoever this kid is, I don’t see…I just don’t see. I don’t get it. And…I only have twenty-four hours to do this in.”

I know. You’ll just have to trust me. It’s going to work.

“But how can you know for sure it’s going to get Christine –”

That I can’t tell you. The story is going to work. The plan, I can’t say.

“Can’t say, or don’t know?”

…Can’t say.

Ally dusts nut coating off her hands and rubs her eyes deeply. “Okay. I’ll take my chances.”

Okay. All right, so. All y’all just wait here. The kid’s going to come in. You won’t remember any of this once she’s here so don’t worry about that. Everybody ready?

Diz polishes off a half-inch of wine and straightens his tie. “Ready.”


“Yeah, all right. But get me a cute love interest. Who likes cacciatore.”



Okay. Places, everyone.

July 19, 2004



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