(Friend 1 lies stretched out on his couch, holding his injured head, when his phone rings. He stares at the caller ID for a few moments before answering with a stuffed-sounding nose)
Friend 1: What’s up?
Friend 2: “What’s up?” That’s what I’m calling you for, man – Receiving said your face got all messed up, what happened?
Friend 1: Nah, it wasn’t anything, I’ll be in tomorrow `cause they won’t give me any extra time off for this. It’s too embarrassing to ask for anyway.
Friend 2: Word is that one of the truck’s brakes failed and ran you over.
Friend 1: What?! Ow, no, that wasn’t it and I really don’t want to talk about it, OK?
Friend 2: C’mon, I won’t tell. You gonna be scarred for life, you think?
Friend 1: No! I don’t think I will be. What if I will be?!
Friend 2: Spill it.
Friend 1: All right, I was moving some boxes on top of a fixture in the back when a really heavy one on top fell off and landed on my face and almost knocked me off the ladder. And yes, it was my own fault for not checking how they were stacked first. Happy?
Friend 2: Not really; that’s kind of banal. So what’s the damage?
Friend 1: About 15 journals and 30 sets of stationery.
Friend 2: Not in the box, on your face!
Friend 1: Oh, a bunch of cuts, black eyes, and probably a broken nose. Maybe I’ll get an X-ray if it still hurts; I dunno, I really don’t feel like it.
Friend 2: Broken, huh? So you look pretty awful right now, you’d say?
Friend 1: Yeah, I’d say that: thanks for your concern.
Friend 2: Mind doing me a favor and coming to the bar on Main with me for a few minutes? I’ll drive you to the E.R. or wherever after to get your X-ray.
Friend 1: I don’t know, you’re one of my shadier friends; what’s this about?
Friend 2: No need for details, you don’t have to do a thing except sit there, plausible deniability, etc., whaddya say?
Friend 1: I guess I could use a ride; I’m starting to feel dizzy –
Friend 2: Be there in five.
(At the bar on Main, Friend 2 sets up Friend 1 on a barstool)
Friend 2: Right, just hang out here for a bit. What drink don’t you like?
Friend 1: Uh, um, well I hate whiskey –
Friend 2: (Gives money to Bartender) One shot of whiskey for my friend here.
Friend 1: I just said –
Friend 2: (Takes the glass from Bartender and gives it to Friend 1) You don’t have to drink the whole thing, just sip it every so often. Now, I’m going to be sitting with my… associate, right over there (Points to a fellow shady man at a nearby table), so when you hear me say “My friend over there,” take a quick sip, turn around to face us, and let nature take its course on your face.
Friend 1: That’s gonna hurt and probably start bleeding again, and you said all I had to do was sit here.
Friend 2: Right. You don’t even have to get up. (Slaps him on the shoulder and saunters over to sit at the shady table)
Friend 1: (Sips the whiskey and painfully grimaces) Oh, I think some of my brains got knocked out of my ears.
(Bartender comes over, wiping the counter)
Bartender: So what’s your story?
Friend 1: I’d like to say I was at a place like this on a Saturday night, some guy got in my face, I got in his, you know the rest, but it really was I got in a fight with a falling box and we both lost.
Bartender: Yeah, the bar story’s better; the real one makes you sound clumsy.
Friend 1: Aren’t you supposed to kiss up to me as long as I’m drinking here?
Bartender: Why? You didn’t pay for it. (Continues on down the counter)
Friend 1: (Mutters into the glass) At least fake it.
Friend 2: (In the distance) My friend over there…
(Friend 1 closes his eyes and leans on one hand)
Friend 2: (Louder) My friend over there….
(Friend 1’s eyes shoot open; he takes a quick sip, turns, and has a horrible look on his beaten face as he sees terror enter the eyes of the shady man sitting with Friend 2. The latter unobtrusively gives Friend 1 a thumbs-up and turns back to the shady man; Friend 1 turns back to the counter as Bartender places a small glass filled with clear liquid and ice in front of him)
Bartender: Here – on the house.
Friend 1: Oh, thanks, what is it, vodka?
Bartender: Tap water. Hold it against your nose for 20 minutes; next time, ice that thing right away. (Leaves)
Friend 1: (Holds the glass gingerly against his nose) Helpful.
(Friend 2 appears suddenly behind Friend 1, startling him into spilling some of the water)
Friend 2: You did great! Let’s go.
Friend 1: But the nice lady gave me ice.
Friend 2: (Drags him away from the counter) Why have ice when you can have prescription painkillers?
Friend 1: You know, that’s a serious problem; epidemic, really –
Friend 2: I completely understand. (He pushes him out the door)
(Two days later, Friend 1 is sitting on his couch again, now with bandages wrapped all around his head. His phone rings; he sees the caller ID, sighs, and answers with an even stuffier-sounding nose)
Friend 1: What?
Friend 2: Hey, just checking in – you still look hideous?
Friend 1: Of course I do, I don’t want to leave the house for a month, what do you want?
Friend 2: Good, since you’re free right now, could you meet up with me in Vegas for a few hours?
Friend 1: What?!!
Friend 2: Don’t worry, I’ve got it all worked out, I just need your driver’s license number for the plane ticket.
Friend 1: Good-bye!
Friend 2: No, not the license plate, the license –
(Friend 1 disconnects the call; Friend 2 calls him back)
Friend 1: What.
Friend 2: We got disconnected back there; as I was saying, you wouldn’t have to do a thing –
Friend 1: Not doing anything!
Friend 2: Fine, forget Vegas. Could I pick you up in a few minutes so we can visit my brother? He still owes me some money.
Friend 1: No, no, no! Ow, ow, ow. Don’t call me ever again or I’ll visit you!
Friend 2: There’s no need to get testy. You wouldn’t have to do a thing!
Friend 1: I definitely won’t now.
Friend 2: Don’t hang up; where am I going to find another face like yours so conveniently at my disposal?!
Friend 1: I’m sure you could arrange something for yourself. (Disconnects and turns off his phone, lying back down on the couch)
Friend 2: Of course! Why haven’t I thought of that earlier? I should just have someone beat me up so everyone then would be afraid of me! I wouldn’t even have to do a thing!