The medieval play Everyman under the thespianship of everyone’s precociously talented oldest child, Jody, had become a one-man show, save for a cameo by Death at the end, played by the famous actor Clint Gabble. Initially, Jody had been hired to play only Kindred in the local production, but as other actors dropped out, Jody took on their roles as well: first, Knowledge; then, Good Deeds and Goods; eventually, Fellowship, Cousin, Confession, Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Five-Wits; until finally Jody took on the lead role of Everyman as well.
Everyone went to see Jody when the play left the local theater and entered into production as a movie. Being that the set was in Jody’s high school gym, everyone did not have to travel far.
The set looked like a fifteenth-century vacuum cleaner bag would have looked--very gray, with dust everywhere. Lint hung from the ceiling and gathered around the room’s edges. Jody stood in the room’s center when he or she wasn’t changing costumes.
Everyone clapped for each of Jody’s entries and exits, until finally Jody returned as Good Deeds, proclaimed that “All earthly things are but vanity,” and promised to remain with Everyman to the grave. At this point, Jody changed costumes again and, after becoming Everyman, committed the character’s soul to the Lord. Here, everyone clapped the loudest he or she had during the production and laughed hard when Jody finished with a deathly long fart, a skill Jody had perfected years ago at home.
After the movie was shot, the play over, everyone went to see Jody in his or her trailer. The door was closed, so everyone knocked, but there was no answer.
Death walked by. Death was Clint Gabble wearing a black cape and black tights. “Can I help you?” Death asked.
Everyone explained that he or she was looking for his or her progeny, the great Jody.
“You mean Everyman?” Death asked.
“Yes,” everyone said, nodding.
“I thought you saw,” Death said. “Everyman is dead.”
“Right,” everyone said. “I mean Jody.”
“There is no Jody anymore,” Death said. “There is only Everyman, and Everyman is dead.”
Everyone grunted and knocked on the trailer door again. “Jody,” everyone called.
Death sighed. “Go ahead,” he said, pointing to the handle on the trailer’s door.
Everyone opened the door and entered. Jody lay in a bed in the entryway. “Jody?” everyone queried.
Jody did not answer.
Everyone stood over Jody, put a hand on Jody’s cheek. It was cold.
Everyone slapped it, gently at first, then harder.
“Everyman’s dead,” someone called out.
The someone was standing in the doorway. It was a man in a black suit with a beret and sunglasses--the director. “Method actors, you know?”
Everyone looked at his or her child and nodded. Everyone understood. Everyman was dead--and Kindred and Cousin and Fellowship and Beauty and Strength and all the rest of them.
Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.
To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.