"OK," said the writer. "Let's start. Remember, if you lie, the buzzer will sound. Are you Evil Editor?"
"Yes," said the man strapped to the couch.
"Good. You rejected my manuscript out of spite and jealousy, didn't you?"
There was a short silence. The writer looked at the buzzer.
"OK. Did you even read it? Any of it?"
"All of it?"
"I thought so. 275,000 words is the right length for a middle grade novel, though, isn't it?"
The writer picked up the buzzer and looked at it closely.
"All right. So it's not spite, it can't be length ... You only publish stuff by celebrities or people who offer you sexual favours, right?"
The writer frowned at the silent buzzer. He checked the connections carefully. He made sure the lie detector was plugged in.
"A rude person on my critique group said, and I quote, 'your protagonist is flat and static, your dialogue is stiff, and your plot, such as it is, moves at a pace that makes continental drift look reckless'. Would you agree with that biased and unfair assessment?"
The writer checked the plug socket again. "You didn't take my novel because you don't want it showing up the weaker books on your list, right?"
The writer shook the buzzer. "Is this damn thing even on?"
"How can I help you?" the sales clerk asked.
"It's this lie detector. I bought it here two days ago. I want to return it."
"Is there a problem?"
"I'll say there's a problem. It's broken, that's the problem. Completely useless. Doesn't work at all."