The set consists of two separately lighted sections. On stage left we
have the apartment of DR. HARRY TOMKINS and
BARBARA DOBSON. It should
consist of a door, a small table with a lamp on it, an overstuffed chair, a
straight-backed chair, and a coffee table which holds a small, bizarre
metal sculpture-the "clock sculpture." On the wall should be a small,
tasteful poster of Dobbs and perhaps a needlepoint saying something like
"Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take a Joke." When the characters exit stage
left, they are presumably going to the kitchen or to the bedroom.
DR. HARRY TOMKINS: a genial but gruesome mangled Corpse.
All characters should be clean-cut and well dressed in early-fifties film
On stage right we have the bar area. The bar itself should be situated so that when the characters sit at it they are behind it, facing the audience. In front of the bar is a table with four chairs. Unless otherwise indicated, whenever the bar set is lit, 'luded-out, atonal cocktail music should be playing in the background.
The characters are:
DETECTIVE PETERS: a police detective who has been around.
BARBARA DOBSON: Harry Tomkins' wife.
LEWIS: an army boy, a Bobbie.
LANDRY: an army boy, an artist.
CHILDRESS: an army boy.
THE PLAINCLOTHESMAN: Peters' top aide-can be any gender.
THE WEATHERMAN: an offstage media voice that periodically fades in and out giving updates on the latest temporal conditions-an be any gender. CONNIE: A beautiful woman people buy drinks for at the bar, or at least that's what she's doing this week.
THE VOICES: Offstage radio voices from Time Control.
THE BARKEEP: the only employee at the Wistful Flamingo. He makes drinks, waits tables and cleans up when everyone has left.
THE AIDES: two policemen, two prostitutes and two hunchbacks who enter from time to time to haul off bodies, etc. Always the same two actors, although dressed appropriately for each appearance. Always a mixed-gender couple with "Bob"-like features.
All lights out. In the darkness, we hear voices.
All systems check. Hey Bill! Looks like we have an entertaining
little tack-up coming up tonight.
Sequence check completed and ready to implement. You got the music ready?
. . . and we've just been informed by Time Control that a
full-fledged tempest is brewing in the amber-light district, so be
careful. . . .
Music is ready. Begin sequence . . . now!
On tape we hear melodramatic fight music and fistfight sound
effects, along with LEWIS' voice.
I don't like 'em! That's all there is to it! I just don't like 'em!
Sorry I gotta rip off your legs, doc, but I just don't like 'em!
We hear a gruesome tearing sound, screaming. . . and silence.
Lights up on apartment. HARRY TOMKINS is a mangled corpse on the floor. (Make him as gruesome as you want to, but remember, his legs must be ripped off) DETECTIVE PETERS squats behind the corpse, contemplating it and lighting up a pipe. He is dressed in an immaculate film noir suit and a snazzy fedora. His pipe is always with him-usually he talks with it in his mouth.
Two genial-looking policemen with pipes in their mouths are dusting the place for fingerprints and cutting a piece of meat off TOMKINS corpse. They wrap the meat in plastic and then stuff the rest of TOMKINS' body into a large garbage bag and haul it away. The PLAINCLOTHESMAN sits quietly in the straight-backed chair, looking at the clock sculpture.
Meanwhile, PETERS walks back to the sofa and perches himself on its arm. Sitting on the sofa is BARBARA DOBSON. She is wiping her eyes and trying to regain her composure.
I'm sorry, Detective Peters. I'm not like this usually.
I understand, Miz Dobson.
Harry had just sent me out for some 'Frop . . . and some film so
that we could take some pictures. We'd picked some army boys
we were going to bugger-they're always so tender, you
know? . . .
(nods sympathetically) I know. I used to be an army boy myself.
(looks up at PETERS )Were you really?
(She places a hand on his
knee and squeezes. As she continues talking, PETERS contemplates
the view he gets looking down her blouse.) Anyway, I ran into an
old girlfriend on the way back from the drugstore. I was gone for
an hour in beat time, and when I got back, there was Harry . . .
all gross-looking- . . .
DOBSON sobs and squeezes PETERS ' thigh.
PETERS begins to reload
his pipe with an intent look on his face.
May I have some of that, Detective?
Certainly. I know this is all very hard for you, Miz Dobson.
(DOBSON takes a pipe out of her purse and loads it from a pouch
offered by PETERS. He also offers her a light.) If you could just think
back, and try to remember the names of those army boys. . . .
takes a deep puff. It calms her down.
They had name tags. Let's see . . . Lewis . .. Landry . . . and
Childress. They told me they were on leave, staying at the Hotel
(writing on a notepad) What was the name of the bar you met
It was called the Wistful Flamingo.
. . . 'Kay. . . . (To the PLAINCLOTHESMAN:)
Lieutenant. . . LIEUTENANT!
The PLAINCLOTHESMAN jumps and yanks his gaze away from the
(handing the PLAINCLOTHESMAN the paper from his notepad)
Lieutenant, I want you to put out an A13 on these three men. Institute
a D4 on the hotel and see if you can manage a 409 time lock
on the bar.
But, sir! Those are both Xist watering holes! They
may not go along with it!
PETERS pulls out a roll of red bills and peels a few off for the
Here. Buy'em drinks, Lieutenant. They'll go for it.
Yes sir. (Exits.)
Now, Miz Dobson, what can you tell me about Harry Tomkins?
Do you know anyone who'd want to rip his legs ofa
DOBSON stands up and walks around the apartment. She is now
fully in control.
Harry was almost fifty percent Yeti, Detective Peters. Most
people either wanted to fuck his brains out or kill him. But rip
his legs off? I don't know. . . .
These are strange times, Detective. We all thought things would be different after the Xists landed. Now, things are different, but it's all still more of the same. We used to live by the clock. Now we live by five different, mutually exclusive clocks. We used to fight the Conspiracy. Now the Conspiracy fights itself and we fight the Nazi Hell Creatures, and all they wanna do is drink beer. Ha.
Hell, it used to be enough to just kill "Bob." Now we have to take him out to dinner. So how am I supposed to figure out anyone's motivation for anything now? Most of my friends do things for reasons that I'll never understand, and some seem to do shit for no reason at all. Me, I just want good sex-and I wanna nail the bastard that ripped my Harry.
Fair enough. That first thing you want shouldn't be any problem,
but we're gonna have to work on the second. Now I want you
to think back to when you first entered the Wistful Flamingo
tonight. Let's take it slowly, bit by bit.
DOBSON closes her eyes and takes another deep puff.
PETERS takes notes.
Okay. It was 8:00/3 RPM. Harry had just managed to sell the
Xists some 1980s baseball cards and we had gone out to celebrate....
As DOBSON speaks, the bar set lights up. Sitting in a row with
drinks in their hands are LANDRY, CHILDRESS,
LEWIS, and the corpse
of HARRY TOMKINS (propped up with a pipe in its mouth). The
BARKEEP is cleaning the bar.
DOBSON and PETERS step over into the bar. Lights out on the apartment. PETERS sits at the far end of the bar, smoking and taking notes. DOBSON saunters up to LEWIS with a predatory smile on her lips. She puts an arm around his shoulder.
How's the war going, army boy?
(putting an arm around her waist) The war's gain' good! It's
always gain' good with "Bob" on our side. Why, just yesterday
"Bob" sold the Nazi Hell Creatures seventy cases of beer, and
today we slaughtered hundreds of them while they nursed their
hangovers! Boy, it was great! That's why we're partying tonight!
Tomorrow "Bob"'ll make yesterday happen again two weeks
from now and we'll party again! Yep! The war's just fuckin' great!
Thanks to "Bob," that is . . , and no thanks to those hairy-legged
types that just sit around with the Xists all day!
(disengaging herself from LEWIS)
I just happen to be one of those hairy-legged types myself, army boy.
Well, I didn't mean you personally! Some of you are great! Take
ol' Doc here, buyin' us the drinks! You're all right!
He slaps the TOMKINS corpse on the back and it slumps forward.
DOBSON walks back over to PETERS.
Take it easy, Lewis. They're just tryin' to be nice.
Nice? Would they take an army boy into their apartments, their
beds, their bodies? Naw, they'd rather be with the fuckin' Xists!
They won't even touch it if it doesn't have tentacles. . . .
Mmmm . . .
They settle into a moody silence. LANDRY gets up and walks over
to sit next to TOMKINS. He props the corpse back up again.
(to PETERS ) He was the first one we met-a
real Bobbie. The
only reason he ended up joining us later was 'cause he was with
those other two. You know those army boys, always in threes.
Safer that way. War is hell. Good times come in threes.
Tell that to Harry, Detective Peters. He was talking to that
one, Landry, all night long. . . .
I'm really sorry about Lewis, sir. He's a good soldier, but
among civilians he stinks on ice.
At this point someone should be controlling TOMKINS' corpse from
behind the bar so that it turns to LANDRY and bobs around a little
as it talks, like a primitive puppet. Its voice, from an offstage
microphone, should be a genial, well-modulated, radio-announcer
kind of voice.
'S okay, soldier. He just doesn't know what to do with himself.
It's become a standard problem. It's why so many people spontaneously
combust these days.
Let me buy you a drink, army boy. What's your poison?
Cyanide and sweet gum.
Sounds good. Hey barkeep! Two Shirley Temples!
The BARKEEP fixes and delivers the drinks.
You seem to be a sensitive sort, soldier. You an artist?
Was. Chain saws 'n' shit. Used to be able to carve any large
dog into a small cat in five seconds flat. I was living my life's
ambition. But after the world ended, it seemed, I don't know,
irrelevant somehow. So I joined up.
Ah. Now there's the crux of it. The world came to an end. We'd
all been waiting for it to happen for so long. It was even part of
our genetic heritage. Our parents, waiting. Our grandparents,
waiting. Waiting for the end. Homo finitis. The End Men. And
suddenly, it happened! Great! What are we supposed to do now?
Oh, sure, there's lots of money to be made . . . but now that we've
had our cake and eaten it, what's next? We've got to find something
new. . . .
Like what? My art is dead. My parents are dead-hell, they
just burst into flames while waterskiing one day. My sister
planted herself; she makes a good fir tree, but she ain't much to
talk to. My wife ran of with a tractor. My brother fragmented
permanently-very time I see him he's either a teenager or an
old drooling man. And now the army's saying that they may have
to start layin' some of us of, that they have better things to do
than fight a bunch of stupid green energy demons.
Mmmm. Sounds pretty bad. Still, you might take a cue from
your brother and his time fragmentation. In these days, time
itself is really the best medium for art.
Listen, my wife Barbara and I are heading back to the apartment
for some gourmet action. You wanna come along? I've got
a clock sculpture that you really oughta see.
That sounds good. I'd like that, as long as my buddies could
No problem! The more, the merrier! Let me tell the wife. . . .
(stepping in, showing his badge) The wife's right here, Dr.
Tomkins. If you don't mind, however, I'd like to ask Soldier
Landry here a few questions before you go.
If it's okay with him, it's okay with me, Detective.
Thank you. Soldier Landry?
About what time did you leave this bar with Dr. Tomkins and
Let's see . . . it was sort of around 9:30/4 . . . let's just say about
seven o'clock twenty-nine transit time. BM.
Did Soldiers Childress and Lewis come with you?
Sure did. Y'know what they say, "Good times come in threes."
Mmmm-hmmm. Now, what precisely did you do when you
reached the apartment? Try to remember the details. This is very
Well, first we stopped at a place for some food, and then we
reached the apartment at about 8:00/2 RPM. We had a few drinks
and Dr. Tomkins showed me the clock sculpture. Miz Dobson left
to get some film. After a while we got tired of waiting for her and
went on into the bedroom. Let's see . . . I think we started out
with the "Motorboat Crossing" and from there we went into the
"Big China Shuffle." I hurt one army thumbs doing that one, so
after that we relaxed into a "Clover Harem" pattern for a while.
Had a few more drinks. Mr. Tomkins said he wanted to go on and
try the "Spastic Donut," but I'd heard that there's some temporal
risks associated with that one, so I decided to sit it out and play
with the clock sculpture instead. Guess it was a bit risky, 'cause
suddenly Childress called on the phone from the Wistful Flamingo.
He'd fragmented-while fucking his brains out on RPM
Static Time, in Eastern Transit Time he was already back at the
Flamingo. Said he'd met this girl. Wanted me to meet her too. So
Can you give me any kind of time reference here?
Well, the clock sculpture was reading 43:00 and the wall clock
said five. Everything was pretty screwed up at that point, what
with Childress fragging and all.
And you came back here.
I came back here. Say, what's this all about, anyway?
Your friend Tomkins was murdered. Someone ripped his legs
Someone . . .
LANDRY looks under the bar, and picks up one of
TOMKINS' legs. He stares at it, wide-eyed.
I'm afraid I'm gonna have to ask you to stay here. We should
have a time lock going up any minute now. I'll have to ask Lewis
and Childress to stay too . . . wait! Where's Lewis?
DOBSON and LANDRY look around.
Don't know. Thought he was still here.
He's right over there. At that table.
CHILDRESS has moved to the table, where he sits with a drink.
PETERS sighs tiredly, rubbing the back of his neck. He lights up his
pipe and watches CHILDRESS intently.
CONNIE enters, and walks up to the table.
Buy me a drink, army boy?
Sure. What'II ya have?
(sitting down) Molotov cocktail.
Barkeep! Two Molotov cocktails.
Think you can handle one without blowing up, army boy?
Hey. If it happens, it happens. Fellow told me once that the
world ended in a burst of fire, and that spontaneous combustion
was just our way of catching up. (The BARKEEP brings the drinks.)
Whaddya think of that?
I'm not paid to think. I'm paid to drink.
Helluva job. What's your name?
Helluva name. Guess while your namesake sails the high
seas with "Bob" at her side, you swim the high tides of
inebriation with drunk soldiers.
Spare me your poetry, army boy. How do you know that I
haven't sailed the high seas with "Bob" at my side?
I've sailed the fucking stratosphere with "Bob" in my womb,
army boy. I partied Andy Warhol into his grave and fucked giant
Yetis at the top of Mount Everest. I can drink any Xist under the
table and I can paralyze armies with a single bump and grind.
I've shown those panty-raid geeks sights that made 'em go blind.
I'm the only person in the world that can sell things to "Bob," and
whenever he gets out of hand I can make him submit with my
little finger. I've fragmented so many times that I can't name a
single woman on this planet that isn't me and when we fuck,
even Wotan gets a hard-on-
And when I combust, army boy, the whole damn planet's gain'
Well then, why don't you buy the next round, then, eh? Why
don't we blow this joint and go somewhere real? Why don't we
rape a few aliens and beat up a few gods? Why don't we catch fire
together and roll ourselves into one huge, ungodly flame?
DR. HARRY TOMKINS: a genial but gruesome mangled Corpse.
All characters should be clean-cut and well dressed in early-fifties film