"Two Sick Flatterers Meet in the Woods"
Mr. Putz: Well, greetings!
Mr. Schmuck: Hello, there. My name is Mr. Schmuck.
Mr. Putz: Iím Mr. Putz, and itís an honor to meet you.
Mr. Schmuck: I guess Iíll be the first to mention that weíve both chosen the same ground to camp on.
Mr. Putz: Itís good of you to put it to rest. Iím glad, sir, that youíve chosen to find another ground.
Mr. Schmuck: Oh, ho! I didnít mean a thing like that, good Putz. What gave you that idea? Certainly not that you were here first: itís obvious that weíve only both arrived.
Mr. Putz: Ah, it is a little embarrassing, you see, but I have a terrible cough, and it would be entirely too dangerous for me to walk much further. But you, Schmuck, seem very athletic and fit, and would find no trouble in moving to another space.
Mr. Schmuck: Iím sure Iím nowhere near as lithe as you, Mr. Putz, and your cough, it seems, hasnít troubled you to hike all the way into the woods to camp, so perhaps it isnít quite as terrible as you imagine. Maybe itís really your hypochondria acting up.
Mr. Putz: But Mr. Schmuck! You donít know half the story! Itís true that my coughs are few and far between, but when they do occur, my unfortunate frame cannot help but keel over in paralytic agony. And the sound alone could make a tiger soil itself.
Mr. Schmuck: Well, Mr. Putz, then it would be wise for you to move quickly now to a new ground before another of those terrible fits pounces upon you.
Mr. Putz: But wait, Mr. Schmuck, you have nothing to risk by leaving this camp ground; whoís to say that the moment I leave for another I wonít collapse and hurt myself, never to return? You, by your infinite luck, though, have no such affliction, and I imagine youíd have no trouble searching again.
Mr. Schmuck: Whoís to say I have no such affliction? In fact, my meager foot, as you can see, is twisted, colored, and warped, so much so that if I were to walk much further it may needÖ
Mr. Putz: It may needÖ?
Mr. Schmuck: Amputation.
Mr. Putz: That is a serious matter, Iím willing to admit. I suppose then, our genial chat all comes down to whether it is worse to die of a coughing fit or to lose a foot.
Mr. Schmuck: Of course, losing a foot would mean spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair.
Mr. Putz: Excellent, Mr. Schmuck, but let me remind you that if I were to die, I would spend the rest of my life in a coffin.
Mr. Schmuck: You bring up a totally new question: why exactly would you, Mr. Putz, with your near-mortal coughing fits, venture out to camp?
Mr. Putz: I could ask you the same thing, altering the necessary details, of course, Footy.
Mr. Schmuck: But as even you said, my friend, your affliction is mortal, mine is not. You have much less of a reason to be camping in the first place than I do.
Mr. Putz: This is irrelevant, Mr. Schmuck, since it is now the present, and whether I should have or not, I am here, and leaving not after a good rest, one upon which you are impeding, would most likely mean death to me.
Mr. Schmuck: A sharp observation, but the fact that you came here with a grave affliction is your dilemma to deal with accordingly.
Mr. Putz: I am attempting to deal with it, but you, as I said before, are reveling in hindrance.
Mr. Schmuck: I believe that youíre hindering yourself.
Mr. Putz: How is that, if I may be so boorish as to ask?
Mr. Schmuck: In the time since we began our debate, you havenít so much as cleared your throat, and you could have used that time to stake out a campground and even begin unpacking.
Mr. Putz: You may be forgetting, which at this point seems probable, that I cannot see into the future. I could at any time have been struck down by the cough, and at the time when we began our leisurely conversation, I had no idea that I would be so lucky as to continue, even if for only a few minutes longer.
Mr. Schmuck: But you do not take into account the fact that, since you havenít been coughing, it may be time to take advantage of the unusually long interval of health by staking new territory.
Mr. Putz: How true, most wise Schmuck, but unfortunately, Iíve been using the unusually long interval of health to gab with you about it.
Mr. Schmuck: I am in no way impeding upon your ability to leave this camp and search for a new one. I am, in fact, encouraging that very endeavor.
Mr. Putz: Let us remember that the gravity of your affliction is of much less consequence than that of mine. I encourage you, the healthier of us both, to leave this glen for another.
Mr. Schmuck: I am beginning to think that you, Mr. Putz, do not have any such affliction. It is my suspicion that youíve lied to me simply so you may have a reason not to leave.
Mr. Putz: A terrible thing to say! You too have told me of a pain I have yet to see.
Mr. Schmuck: Behold my bruised and battered foot! My story is secure. You are the only one of us both who has not proven what you say.
(Mr. Putz coughs extensively and violently, falls to the ground, and lies motionless. Mr. Schmuck observes him for a few seconds, and then begins to unpack.)