The large wooden door swung open slowly, its hinges creaking, to reveal a dimly lit family room that obviously hadn't seen much use recently. At the door's opening stood a thin wiry man with barely enough gray hair to cover his scalp. The man looked down to identify the caller who had summoned him from his slumber on the dying couch in the room's center.

"Hi Mr. Mann! I'm selling cookies for girl scouts and I thought you might like some." The cheerful voice belonged to eight year old Sally Campbell, dressed in the traditional scout uniform clutching a photocopied order form in her left hand.

Charles Mann blushed with self-consciousness as he realized he was standing in front of the poor girl wearing a pair of grease stained jeans and a wife beater. He stroked the stubble on his chin while fumbling for words.

"Sally… just wait a minute while I find some money."

Without any coaxing, Sally stepped through the doorway, nudging her way past Mr. Mann and plopped down on the couch. Charles was stunned at the girl's audacity, not to mention courage, and he smiled.

"Just a minute, Sally."

When Charles returned to the room, he found Sally sitting as if she owned the house, feet propped up on the coffee table sinking back into the couch's broken cushions. Curious, Charles sat in the chair across from her, trying to sort out in his mind what was going on.

"So how much are cookies going for this year?" It was a somewhat desperate attempt to garner some control of the situation.

"Don't be so pedantic, Charlie. We have plenty of time for that. Right now though we have a real chance to have a good heart-to-heart about some of the more important issues in our respective lives."

Charles nearly fell out of his chair.

"What?" he stammered.

Sally removed her feet from the coffee table and leaned forward in a somewhat condescending manner.

"Charlie, Charlie, Charlie," Sally mocked shaking her head, her pig tails bouncing with the motion, "you really need to get your head in the conversation, or there's not going to be much of one. It's getting a bit one sided."

Charles was beginning to feel faint, "What do you want?"

"You're not paying attention. We need to talk about our lives, here in this town, on this planet, in this universe, if there is such a thing. Doesn't anything about your life strike you as odd?"

That was an understatement. "Sally, right now everything about my life seems odd."

Sally nodded in affirmation, "That's my point exactly. I mean in the normal course of human events, a girl my age doesn't speak or act like I'm acting. Doesn't it all seem a bit fake to you?"

Charles was feeling lost again. "I'm not sure I follow you."

"You know my brother, how he's always writing those creepy stories of his?"

Charles shook his head, "I don't believe I've ever met your brother."

"Well, he says that the key to a good story is in what he calls the 'kicker,' you know the twist. Now this twist could be anything that's out of place or doesn't fit with the rest of the story. I mean you have to lead up to it, leave subtle clues and what not. You with me Charlie?"

Charles interrupted his blank stare with a nod.

"Anyway, like I said the kicker can be anything. Like let's say for example we were characters in a story. The kicker then could be that at some point during the conversation I reveal to you that I'm actually possessed by a five thousand-year-old demon. In that case this entire speech would act as evidence to back that up.

"Or maybe we would reveal that you were actually some child molesting pervert and as I walked in I caught sight of a dead body in the hallway and now I'm acting like this to throw you off balance until I can slip out alive. Granted that's not quite as good as the first example, but you have to take into account the fact that I'm making these up on the spot."

Charles mind felt like it was going to ooze out of his ears. "So what are you getting at?"

Sally sighed as a look of disappointment came over her face. "If you can't figure out what my point is after everything I've said so far, I might as well sell you the cookies and leave."

"What kind of cookies are you selling?"

"We have these really good chocolate covered peanut butter things for five dollars a box. How'd that be?"

Charles handed Sally the five dollars as she wrote down his name and number on her photocopied order form. He watched in a daze as she walked out of the door and skipped down the street.