The shopkeeper was a sheep.
The novelist approached the counter with understandable trepidation.
The sheep looked up from her knitting. ‘What do you want to buy?’
‘Look here,’ said the novelist, ‘isn’t this rather the wrong story? I thought I was writing my own story.’
‘You would,’ said the sheep scornfully. ‘Is there anything you want to baa-uy?’
It was an odd sort of shop–close, dusty, cluttered with bewildering curiosities. Everything on the shelves seemed to lean scornfully toward the novelist, daring him to request an order, to demand an exchange, to ask directions. One discontented word, and they would fall on him.
The novelist remembered his quest. Find the Scriptwriter. Confront his absurd stereotyping. But first, buy tea.
‘I want to buy tea,’ said the novelist. ‘Er–what have you got on offer?’
‘A silly sort of thing to buy,’ the sheep sneered. She pulled another seven knitting needles from her hair, clacking along at a terrific rate. ‘You’re a goose.’
The novelist wilted, but rallied quickly. ‘I’m not,’ he said indignantly. ‘I’m an author–er, writer.’
‘You are,’ said the sheep. ‘You’re a goose.’
The novelist looked anxiously at the crowded shelves, towering above his head into distant darkness. He’d heard an ominous creaking. Why was he arguing with a sheep about whether he was or was not a goose? He tried a different approach.
‘All right,’ he said, ‘I’m a goose. Can I have some tea, please? What have you got on offer?’
‘Tea!’ the sheep bleated. ‘You must buy an egg.’
The sheep shook a shelf with a sudden viciousness. ‘Bah!’ she snorted. ‘Humbug!’
A thin scream plummeted down from the heights, swelling into a terrified roar. An enormous egg hurtled down behind the sheep, arms and legs flailing. It smashed to the ground beside the novelist, with a horrible splatter.
The sheep grinned viciously. ‘All the king’s horses and men,’ she said, ‘and the yolk’s on you!’
The novelist stared at her in horror, wiped furtively at his jacket, and fled.
He stumbled out the doorway into the clear light of the hillside. His eyes smarted, and he sneezed. He had a powerful allergy to bad puns. He staggered down the road, coughing and wheezing, eyes streaming. At last he paused, leaning against a wooden house. He wiped his nose on his sleeve, and looked at the house.
Large gilt letters above the doorway read: PG’S TEAERY.
The novelist stumbled in and rang the bell.
A sock monkey popped up behind the counter. ‘Hallo! You want to buy some tea, eh?’
‘Yed,’ said the novelist. ‘Whad do you hab on ovver?’
‘Well,’ the monkey scratched a note a ledger. ‘We have tea on offer, and the another kind of tea. Black tea, white tea, red tea, strong tea, weak tea, cuppa tea, orange tea, and purple tea. Fresh out of white tea, I’m afraid.’
‘I’ll take two,’ said the novelist, and hoped he’d done something shrewd.
‘Two of what?’ said the sock monkey.
The novelist realized he hadn’t done something shrewd. He sneezed.
The sock monkey handed him a handkerchief. ‘On the house, old man.’
The novelist sneezed again. ‘Thank you.’ A vague memory muddled through his mind. He looked at the monkey. ‘Are you PG?’
The sock monkey started visibly. ‘Oh no, old boy, I don’t handle the ratings. I’m just the Scriptwriter.’
The novelist paused mid-blow, stared around wildly, and fainted.