On Friday morning, Betsey goes to see Andrew for a business meeting. Betsey is in a very whiny mood and completely distracted from writing. Needless to say, Andrew is trying to get her back on track.
Betsey: I’m so frustrated with my current life situation! I hate being broke all the time! I just want to find a part-time job to make some extra cash, but nobody in this stupid town will hire me! I’ve asked the place across the street like seven times and they’re STILL looking for servers. I don’t understand why they have to be that way. Unlike other people, I actually work hard instead of standing around gossiping about my co-workers behind their backs. It’s so infuriating!
Andrew: Don’t worry about it, sweetheart. You don’t want to work there anyway. Trust me. We’ll find another solution. Let’s go through the job listings online.
Betsey goes through the listings, but starts having an anxiety attack at the thought of dealing with other people. She doesn’t typically have very good luck dealing with real life social situations in spite of the large stack of self-help books she’s read.
Betsey: I can’t do this. I’m totally freaking out.
Andrew: Don’t talk yourself out of it. Just start small and work your way up.
Betsey: Easy for you to say, you stupid snake!
Andrew: Don’t get mad at me. You said you needed my help. I’m trying to help.
Betsey: In that case, you should just leave an envelope full of money in my mailbox.
Andrew: But what will I get in return?
Me: Whatever you want.
Andrew: Whatever I want?
Me: Whatever you want.
Andrew thinks about it for a minute and smirks to himself. Betsey looks up at him worriedly.
Betsey: You’re messing with me again to get your way, aren’t you?
Andrew: I’m not messing with you.
Betsey: You’re always messing with me! This is some kind of joke to you! You’re giving me false hope of escape again, just like you always do! I don’t like it when you play these kinds of tricks on me, Andrew. I feel like I’m about to have an anxiety attack!
Andrew: I’m sorry.
Betsey: If you were really sorry, you would stop playing games with me and just help me out.
Andrew: I am helping you out. I’m your Muse.
Betsey: Yes darling, but I also need cash. You have to help me get cash!
Andrew: Okay, okay.
Andrew gets out his laptop and googles “writing jobs.” He finds a website where freelance writers can bid on various types of contracts. There are many ads looking for romance fiction of varying lengths.
Andrew: I have an idea for you. Why don’t you write sexy stories for cash? Here’s one asking for stories about sexy shapeshifters. That’s me! And look here, someone wants to pay you $400 to write a sexy lesbian story! You should go for it. That’s the kind of stuff I want to read.
Betsey rolls her eyes.
Andrew: And here’s one asking for you to write about all your silly little Tinder dates. Look, it’s $100 for like two hours of work. That’s way more than I can pay you to tend bar for that amount of time.
Betsey: Actually, it’s not. For you I would charge $350 an hour.
Andrew: Oh, so you’re negotiating your price range now?
Betsey: According to my research, the going rate is $300.
Andrew: So why are you charging me an extra $50?
Betsey: It’s an inconvenience fee.
Andrew: Am I an inconvenience to you?
Betsey: Yes. A great, terrible inconvenience.
Andrew: I’m sorry.
Betsey: That amount does not include the activity fee, by the way.
Andrew: What is the activity fee?
Betsey: You take me out somewhere and pay for everything.
Andrew: Of course.
Betsey: And you’re only paying all of that money for me to lie there lifelessly for 15 minutes after listening to you mansplain life, the universe, and everything for the entirety of our “date.” All while I sit still, say nothing, and just look really pretty.
Andrew: Excuse me? I’ll have you know I am a very romantic kind of guy!
Betsey: Oh really?
Andrew: Yeah, really. Don’t forget, they used to call me The Whoremonger.
Betsey: “Used to” being the keyword. That title belongs to me now. It fits me much better. As a former Madam in my past life, I was quite literally a monger of whores.
Andrew: Either way, you won’t be lying there lifelessly. I’ll show you what it means to have a good time. You won’t even want my money by the time I’m finished with you. I’ll just give it to you out of the kindness of my heart.
Betsey: Challenge Accepted.
Andrew smirks at Betsey again and turns back to the job listings. His expression changes when he starts to read the fine print on the various contracts offered. Since Betsey has visited this website before, she already knows exactly what he is going to say.
Andrew: I’m not sure about some of these freelance contracts. They seem a bit shady.
Betsey: Oh really? You don’t say.
Andrew: They want you to give up the rights to your work.
Betsey: Yes they do.
Andrew: For really low prices.
Betsey: That’s right.
Andrew: You won’t even be able to tell anyone you wrote it!
Andrew: And they can just use your work however they want and make money off royalties while you get a one-time fee.
Andrew: That’s such a rip-off!
Betsey: Yeah. It is.
Andrew: See? This is why you read the fine print instead of focusing on the price tag!
Betsey: Pretty much. Ghostwriting is definitely a sinister tool of Capitalism.
Andrew: Agreed. I can’t see you being successful as a ghostwriter. You’re far too narcissistic and self-important.
Betsey: Which is why I’m with you, of course.
Andrew: [ignoring her] You know you’re way too talented to be taking low pay like that. You can make more money on your own novels.
Betsey: We certainly hope so.
Andrew: Then again, it does pay the bills.
Andrew: And that’s important too.
Andrew: Wow! That’s a tough choice!
Betsey: Yes it is.
Andrew: Maybe you could just write some low-grade shit for a couple grand to keep yourself afloat while you finish your real novels. Just think about me and churn out a few sexy stories. Easy!
Betsey: I dunno, Andrew. I don’t think you realize what you’re suggesting here. Do you really think you’re capable of prostituting yourself like that?
Andrew: Capable or comfortable?
Andrew: I’ll think about it.
Betsey: You really should. Did you even read these ads? They’re literally looking for people to write shapeshifter porn. Do you even know what that is? Ask yourself, Andrew, do you really want to play a dragon-shifter?
Andrew: What the hell is a dragon-shifter?
Betsey: It’s a person who can shapeshift into a dragon.
Andrew: And have sex that way?
Betsey: I guess so. I can honestly say I’ve never read any kind of shapeshifter romance novels, so I don’t know for sure. Maybe. I wouldn’t be surprised.
Andrew: Why would you read those kinds of novels?
Betsey: Well, I wouldn’t, but somebody does. There’s obviously a market for it out there. I bet they sell a lot of it up in Brookings.
Andrew: There’s a market for EVERYTHING. Even shapeshifter porn.
Betsey: If you don’t want to be a dragon-shifter, you could always be a bear-shifter instead.
Andrew: What the fuck?!?!
Betsey: See? I told you. You have no idea what they’re asking me to write. Let me show you some examples. Here’s a classic dragon-shifter romance.
Betsey: Here’s another one.
Betsey: Will she be selected by The Dragon, Andrew?
Andrew: [gasps] No!!!
Betsey: Look. Here’s the first in a series about a set of billionaire dragon-shifter brothers. Best of every world right there.
Betsey: Ooh, this one looks promising! You know I love a good three-way!
Betsey: Oh, I see the money isn’t so important all of a sudden. Interesting.
Andrew: Don’t show me the bear ones.
Betsey: I’m totally showing you the bear ones.
Betsey: Here ya go!
Betsey: This is totally real. Oh, look at this one! This title is catchy!
Betsey: And here we are again with the billionaire shapeshifter combo. Nice.
Betsey: Yeah! See, now you’re getting the hang of how this stuff works!
Andrew: I can’t believe this is real.
Betsey: Oh, it’s real, all right. Just think… they could underpay me to write this.
Andrew gives Betsey a look of deep concern.
Andrew: Honestly, I think you should stick to the classic lesbian sex scene by the pool stuff. This is getting really weird really fast.
Betsey: But if I ghostwrote that, you’d never be able to read it because I couldn’t tell anyone about it. You’d never know it existed.
Andrew: True. Shit! Wow, this is hard.
Betsey: It sure is.
Andrew: Well, back to square one, I guess.
Betsey: I guess.
They sit together in silence for a moment. Andrew stares at the stack of books in front of him with wide eyes.
Andrew: I still can’t believe they’re only offering you $300 to write beastiality porn.
Betsey: I can’t either.
Andrew: I would definitely ask for way more money if I was having sex with a bear.
Betsey: No, you turn into the bear and the reader vicariously has sex with you.
Andrew: Excuse me?!
Andrew practically faints on the floor. Betsey doubles over laughing hysterically at his reaction.
Andrew: [shudders] This is weird. Today took an unexpected turn. I feel dirty now. Like I know something I shouldn’t.
Betsey: Welcome to the internet.
Andrew: I’m going to take a shower now.
Betsey: So now you don’t want your own series of shapeshifter porn?
Betsey: Oh come on, Andrew! Just think of the titles!
Betsey: Tamed By The Turkey.
Betsey: Seduced By The Snake.
Betsey: Railed By The Rooster!
Andrew: Oh, nice. That’s a pretty good one, actually. But no. I’d much rather have sex as a human being with another human being. What about writing a different romance novel? Something like… Barebacked by The Boss?
Andrew: Or maybe like, Humped by The Whoremonger?
Betsey: That sounds lackluster and disappointing. Let me handle the clever titles, darling. You just stand there and be really, really ridiculously good-looking.
Andrew smooths his hair back and stands on one leg again.
Andrew: I feel like we got off on a really long tangent there.
Betsey: Haha, got off.
Andrew: Ha ha, okay, very funny.
Betsey: It is funny.
Andrew: Whatever. Shit, what were we working on again?
Betsey: I have no idea. It’s Friday.
Andrew: True. Oh right! Now I remember!
Andrew: We were working. Yeah. Working.
Betsey: Yeah, working…
Andrew: Okay, so basically it appears these ads are for a company that collects romance stories and publishes them all under one name. If you do well on your first assignment, you can get a contract that pays you regularly to submit your work.
Betsey: Yes, but I’d also be giving up all of the rights to my work.
Andrew: So think of it as getting laid to write for practice.
Andrew: I meant paid!
Betsey laughs at his little Freudian slip.
Andrew: You’d just have to be cranking out this crap semi-regularly. So get a romance contract that pays a couple hundred every few weeks. At least then you’ll have money and a healthy outlet for all of your pent-up sexual frustration.
Betsey: I don’t know, Andrew. They’re asking for a one-month turn around on a 50,000-word novella. I’ve never accomplished that feat before. Furthermore, that’s a whole book. That’s a lot of work to do for a couple hundred dollars and no share of future profits. And to give up my name and creative rights for that? I don’t think so!
Betsey: I have a bad feeling about this. I just feel like it’s a massive capitalist scam designed to rip me off in the long-run.
Andrew: You’re not wrong.
Betsey: I don’t want someone else sailing around the world on a yacht they bought with my hard work! I want the yacht, dammit!
Andrew: And Mad Dog and I will party with you on that yacht.
Betsey: Yes you will.
Andrew beams at her. Betsey ignores him and continues talking.
Betsey: Honestly, I really don’t like this idea, Andrew. The only thing going through my head when I’m reading these ads is SCAM SCAM SCAM. Too many red flags.
Andrew: Okay, fine. I was just trying to help you make some money.
Betsey: Then consider this idea ruled out. I’d rather wait tables than whore us out like that.
Andrew: Too bad no one in town will hire ya!
Betsey: Yeah. I prefer my marry a millionaire plan. Maybe you can hook me up with one of your wealthy single friends?
Andrew: They’re all old men.
Betsey: [frustrated sigh] And we’re right back where we started from.
Andrew: [drums on the table] Okay, good meeting, good meeting. Nice doing business with ya, baby.
Betsey: Great. Can I go drink now?
Andrew: Go for it. As long as you stay home instead of hanging around strange men. You know I don’t like it when you do that. It worries me a lot.
Betsey: That’s sweet of you, darling, honestly. I’m sorry I wasn’t more appreciative of your concern for me before. I don’t know how to receive attention like that. I didn’t think you cared about me. I just liked to watch you from across the bar.
Andrew: It’s all right. Tell you what? Why don’t you let me take you out tonight instead? I’ll pay for everything.
They promptly escape to Omaha where they get a hotel room and watch HGTV.