The Un-sequel

Did I hear something?

Is anyone there?

I know it has been a year since I’ve spoken to anyone. 

It’s not as if Pope Sixtus IV has a will of his own. I’m dead, again, unless I’m renewed by the force behind the novel, Pope Sixtus the Fourth.

Yes, I’m awake. I swear I heard something. It could only mean one thing. Disruption in the region of my consciousness. A literary earthquake! Let me check if I have Dexter’s or the Sardine’s numbers.

[dials on an antiquated land-line phone]

Come on, answer.

Dexter: Who the hell’s this?

Sixtus: Is that any way to address the Pontiff?

Dexter: Your Excellency, sir. Why are you calling me in the middle of the night?

Sixtus: I know neither day or night.

Dexter: Right.

Sixtus: It doesn’t sound as if I woke you up.

Dexter: I just returned from a book party.

Sixtus: And I wasn’t invited.

Dexter: You weren’t in it.

Sixtus: YOU were in another novel!

Dexter: Yes. A sequel to Berthcut & Sons.

Sixtus [snickering]: A sequel. To a book that no one read.

Dexter: A few people read it.

Sixtus: I bet not a double digit number. What’s the Amazon ranking?

Dexter: Let me look it up. [pause] It’s at 11,571,396.

Sixtus: That might be the number of books available at Amazon.. What about the Kindle edition?

[pause]

Dexter: There’s no rank.

Sixtus: That means he didn’t sell any Berthcut Kindle books.

Dexter: I remember being read once. Then he revised the book.

Sixtus: It’s truly pathetic. Worse, to have a sequel. What’s the title?

Dexter: con-Glom-er-a-tion.

Sixtus: What?

Dexter: Sic!

Sixtus: Why?

Dexter: It’s about a conglomerate.

Sixtus: I mean: separating the title into syllables.

Dexter: He didn’t tell us.

Sixtus: And why is “Glom” capitalized?

Dexter: That’s the name of the play.

Sixtus: What play?

Dexter: The play the book is based on.

Sixtus: I know the author has written plays based on his stories and even from Berthcut & Sons. In fact, he has two plays based on that novel.

Dexter: And a script for a television show.

Sixtus: None of them are in this new book.

Dexter: No. It’s new material.

[pause]

Sixtus: Wait, wait, wait. I remember. He was writing a play, Conglomeration. It had three separate sets on stage.

Dexter: That’s it. There’s us, Berthcut, on the stage right side. On center stage is Dalmy Brothers Altar Goods, who runs Berthcut. Then on stage left is the offices of Cerulean Enterprises, the conglomerate that bought out Dalmy Brothers.

Sixtus: So, he turned the play into a novel.

Dexter: No. He kept the play. There’s a subtitle. “A novel in the form of a play.”

Sixtus: You have to be shi. . . .

Dexter: I wouldn’t lie to a pope.

Sixtus hangs up the phone and weeps.