Whenever I sit down to plot out a story, two men burst into my room. One of them is short and wears a hat, one of them is tall and has his hair incompetently slicked down, as if his head were so high up that he couldn't reach all of his hair.
"You the writer?" says the short one.
"I'm- I'm A writer." I say, confused.
"Yeah, but are you the writer?" he says again, pointing a cigar at me. "You the one who can see people from other dimensions?"
"I- I'm sure I wouldn't know-" I stammer, before the big one interrupts.
"Vinnie." he says, trying to get the short one's attention.
"Don't you give me none of that, wise guy!" says Vinnie. "Either you's the guy who sees extradimensionals, or you's ain't. Now which one's it?"
"Vinnie." says the big guy again, more insistently.
"C'mon! Out with it!"
"Vinnie." says the big guy with a large sigh. "It occurs to me that we are having a conversation with him. Thus, he can see us, can't he?"
Vinnie stops. "Oh. Yeah, you're right, Eddie." he says after a visible time spent thinking. This bothers me- I'm one of those people obsessed with seeing characters be balanced with one another, and Eddie seems blessed with both great size and prodigious intelligence, while Vinnie is left bereft of any creator's gifts. The lack of equilibrium bothers me.
Vinnie pulls out a sheaf of papers and tosses them in front of me. "Here's your basic plotline for The Magical Brothers. Follow it, or else."
"What?" I say, quickly losing track of what's going on. "What for? Or else what?"
"The first is not for you to know." says Eddie, calmly. "The second involves egregious pain and a creative use of cloning and telepathy to make it twice as bad as usual."
I look over the papers, trying to remain calm. "Man- this isn't how I wanted it to go at all! I wanted to use a dragon. You've always got to use a dragon!"
"No dragons." says Eddie.
"You know how they usually are worth, like, a big pile of gold?" says Vinnie. "Well in your case, every dragon is worth a kneecap."
"Right, right. No dragons." I say, very quickly, mentally adjusting to the plot I've been handed. "Okay, okay, so then, I'll just follow this- what kind of leeway do I have?"
Eddie shrugs. "You can characterize and work with dialogue as you like, Mr. Laws. Simply stick to the-"
"Don't make anybody gay." says Vinnie.
Eddie looks down at his partner with a furrowed brow. "Pardon?"
"Don't make anybody gay!" says Vinnie, with a shrug and a 'What's your problem?' expression on his face. "I ain't got nothin' against fags, really, but man, I hate that shit when someone just turns out to be gay because the author thought it'd be some big shit or somethin'."
"But one of the brothers has a-" I start to protest.
Vinnie curls his lip at me and I see his fist clench.
"Nobody gay." I say.
Vinnie nods, a big smarmy smile on his face, while Eddie rolls his eyes.
They leave me with the papers and a few vague threats of their return, vanishing as swiftly as they'd appeared. The only signs they'd even been here are the plotline in my hands and the smell of Vinnie's cigar, slowly fading.
That is how I am left with my general plot plan, and with wondering how much subtext I can get away with.
It happens every time.