Brooks Caruthers
A One-Act Play

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.
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:

DR. HARRY TOMKINS: a genial but gruesome mangled Corpse.
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 characters should be clean-cut and well dressed in early-fifties film noir attire.
All lights out. In the darkness, we hear voices.

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?
WEATHERMAN . . . and we've just been informed by Time Control that a full-fledged tempest is brewing in the amber-light district, so be careful. . . .
VOICES Music is ready. Begin sequence . . . now!
On tape we hear melodramatic fight music and fistfight sound effects, along with LEWIS' voice.
LEWIS 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.
DOBSON I'm sorry, Detective Peters. I'm not like this usually.
PETERS I understand, Miz Dobson.
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? . . .
PETERS (nods sympathetically) I know. I used to be an army boy myself.
DOBSON (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.
DOBSON May I have some of that, Detective?
PETERS 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. . . .
DOBSON takes a deep puff. It calms her down.
DOBSON They had name tags. Let's see . . . Lewis . .. Landry . . . and Childress. They told me they were on leave, staying at the Hotel Mel.
PETERS (writing on a notepad) What was the name of the bar you met them in?
DOBSON It was called the Wistful Flamingo.
PETERS . . . 'Kay. . . . (To the PLAINCLOTHESMAN:) Lieutenant. . . LIEUTENANT!
The PLAINCLOTHESMAN jumps and yanks his gaze away from the clock sculpture.
PETERS (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.
PLAINCLOTHESMAN 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 PLAINCLOTHESMAN.
PETERS Here. Buy'em drinks, Lieutenant. They'll go for it.
PETERS 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.
DOBSON 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.
PETERS 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.
DOBSON 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.
DOBSON How's the war going, army boy?
LEWIS (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!
DOBSON (disengaging herself from LEWIS) I just happen to be one of those hairy-legged types myself, army boy.
LEWIS 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.
CHILDRESS Take it easy, Lewis. They're just tryin' to be nice.
LEWIS 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. . . .
CHILDRESS 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.
DOBSON (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.
PETERS Safer that way. War is hell. Good times come in threes.
DOBSON Tell that to Harry, Detective Peters. He was talking to that one, Landry, all night long. . . .
LANDRY 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.
TOMKINS '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?
LANDRY Cyanide and sweet gum.
TOMKINS Sounds good. Hey barkeep! Two Shirley Temples!
The BARKEEP fixes and delivers the drinks.
TOMKINS You seem to be a sensitive sort, soldier. You an artist?
LANDRY 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.
TOMKINS 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. . . .
LANDRY 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.
TOMKINS 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.
LANDRY That sounds good. I'd like that, as long as my buddies could come alongl
TOMKINS No problem! The more, the merrier! Let me tell the wife. . . .
PETERS (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.
TOMKINS If it's okay with him, it's okay with me, Detective.
PETERS Thank you. Soldier Landry?
LANDRY Yes sir?
PETERS About what time did you leave this bar with Dr. Tomkins and Miz Dobson?
LANDRY Let's see . . . it was sort of around 9:30/4 . . . let's just say about seven o'clock twenty-nine transit time. BM.
PETERS Did Soldiers Childress and Lewis come with you?
LANDRY Sure did. Y'know what they say, "Good times come in threes."
PETERS Mmmm-hmmm. Now, what precisely did you do when you reached the apartment? Try to remember the details. This is very important.
LANDRY 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 I left.
PETERS Can you give me any kind of time reference here?
LANDRY 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.
PETERS And you came back here.
LANDRY I came back here. Say, what's this all about, anyway?
PETERS Your friend Tomkins was murdered. Someone ripped his legs off.
LANDRY Someone . . .
LANDRY looks under the bar, and picks up one of TOMKINS' legs. He stares at it, wide-eyed.
PETERS 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.
LANDRY Don't know. Thought he was still here.
PETERS Where's Childress?
LANDRY 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.
CONNIE Buy me a drink, army boy?
CHILDRESS Sure. What'II ya have?
CONNIE (sitting down) Molotov cocktail.
CHILDRESS Barkeep! Two Molotov cocktails.
CONNIE Think you can handle one without blowing up, army boy?
CHILDRESS 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?
CONNIE I'm not paid to think. I'm paid to drink.
CHILDRESS Helluva job. What's your name?
CONNIE Connie.
CHILDRESS 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.
CONNIE Spare me your poetry, army boy. How do you know that I haven't sailed the high seas with "Bob" at my side?
CONNIE 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' with me.
CHILDRESS 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?
CONNIE (tossing back the rest of her cocktail) Why don't you buy me another drink, army boy?
CHILDRESS (drunker now than before, hollering) Another round, barkeep!
There is total silence. The music stops. Everyone looks at the table. CHILDRESS lets his head fall forward. The music starts main. Conversations resume. The BARKEEP brings the drinks.
CHILDRESS Fuck all this. I'm just a fragged soldier who may lose his job tomorrow. You're just one of the countless girls that got named after "Connie" Dobbs twenty years ago. The world's ended and there's nothin' left to do.
CONNIE Listen, army boy, I don't have to sit here and listen to this. I do what I do. I kill "Bob" daily. And I'm just tryin' to make a living.
CHILDRESS Hey, I kill "Bob" too. It's all I have left. "Kill "Bob" or kill me!" That's how I live my life.
CONNIE No you don't - you're just repeating dogma.
CHILDRESS It isn't dogma. It's the truth.
CONNIE Then say it again, army boy.
CHILDRESS (takes a huge gulp of his drink and looks off into space) "Kill "Bob," (he looks directly at CONNIE) or kill me!"
CONNIE takes a knife out of her purse and stabs CHILDRESS in the chest.
CHILDRESS falls over, dead. Two genial-looking PROSTITUTES with pipes enter, pick up his body, and carry it away. PETERS and DOBSON step up to the table and sit down.
DOBSON You shouldn't have stabbed that boy. He was a good fuck.
CONNIE It's my job. What do you want me to do?
PETERS May I ask you a few questions?
PETERS (flashing his badge) Detective Peters.
CONNIE Whaddya want with me? I was just doin' my job. Guy says, "Kill me." I kill him. Nothin'wrong with that.
PETERS Don't worry Miz ... uh ... "Connie." You're just a witness. That boy you stabbed, Childress, may have been involved in a murder. We're just looking for facts.
CONNIE Well, don't look at me. I ain't got any.
DOBSON Chill out, Connie. No one's after you. Not even "Bob."
CONNIE Whaddya know about "Bob"? Don't talk about that sunnuvabitch around me! Not unless you're buyin' me drinks!
PETERS If you could just tell us when you stabbed Childress. That's all we need to know.
CONNIE Well, how can I know that when you cops put a time lock on the whole stinkin'joint?
DOBSON What time did it feel like? C'man, Connie, this guy ripped my husband.
CONNIE I don't know! I could have done it at four! I might have done it again at ten! I may do it one more time at eight RPM and a third to the power of five! How can I fucking know? I never could tell time! Not really!
DOBSON None of us can . . . but we try.
The PLAINCLOTHESMAN enters and stands by the table, swaying on his feet.
CONNIE Well I just don't know. I'm sorry.
There is a pause. DOBSON refills and lights up her pipe, staring intently at CONNIE, who looks away. PETERS rubs the back of his neck. At last the PLAINCLOTHESMAN speaks.
PLAINCLOTHESMAN Detective Peters, we do have the time lock in place now, but it took longer than we thought it would. I really had to get the Xists snockered.
PETERS You all right?
PLAINCLOTHESMAN I will be as soon as I throw up.
PETERS 'Kay. Here's the situation. One of our suspects fragged, so there's no telling how the lock affected him. Another is gone. The third is over there. (He points out LANDRY, who is talking to TOMKINS again.) So . . . go off and vomit and then we'll move back to the apartment.
CONNIE (looking at DOBSON 's pipe) Could you give me some of that? I really need it.
DOBSON (blowing smoke into CONNIE's face) No. You can't have any.
All lights go out.
VOICES Warning. Warning. A 409 time lock has intersected a multizone temporal interface. Implement loop procedures immediately.
Lights up on the apartment. LEWIS and CHILDRESS enter through the door.
CHILDRESS Jeez, Lewis, do you think they're really on to us?
LEWIS We're suspects. So's Landry. I'm gonna plant his wallet here, but they've already got a lock on the Flamingo, so it may be too late for that.
LEWIS takes a wallet wrapped in a hanky out of his pocket. He shoves the wallet between the sofa cushions.
CHILDRESS But Landry's such a swell guy, Lewis! I don't wanna do him any dirt!
LEWIS It's either him or us. You understand, Childress?
CHILDRESS Well why did you have to pull the guy's legs of in the first place? We were having fun till you did that!
LEWIS Dammit, he was one of those hairy-legged types! All fuzzy like a spider. Don't know why I let things go as far as they did. Must have been the 'Frop. To think of how he lured us up here and buggered us without even letting on. . . . It was all his fault and I'm not going to Dobbstown for it!
CHILDRESS What's wrong with Dobbstown? I've always wanted to go there myself.
LEWIS (grabbing CHILDRESS by the lapels) You heard what they do to guys like us? Have you heard? . . . Maybe you do know. Maybe you're one of them! Maybe you've been shaving your legs all this time.
CHILDRESS No, Lewis! C'mon! Don't . . . aahhhh! (He suddenly grabs at the spot where he was stabbed in agony.)
LEWIS What is it?
CHILDRESS My chest! I feel like I've been stabbed!
Lights out.
VOICES Loop sequence A. Reintegration commencing.
Lights up on bar.
DOBSON (blowing smoke) No. You can't have any.
Lights out.
WEATHERMAN ... got a time loop going in the amber-light district. If you're in that area just remain inactive and . . .
Lights up on the apartment.
CHILDRESS Ahh! I've been stabbed!
LEWIS What is it, Childress?
Lights up on bar.
DOBSON No. You can't have any.
VOICES Loop sequence B. Reintegration proceeding.
CHILDRESS I've been stabbed, Lewis! Help me!
CHILDRESS is slumping back onto the floor. LEWIS eases him to the ground.
LEWIS Childress! What's happening, dammit!
WEATHERMAN ... the National Bureau of Weights and Measures have issued a travelers' advisory for the amber-light district . . .
DOBSON No. You can't have any.
Lights out on bar.
CHILDRESS I'm dying, Lewis!
VOICES Loop sequence C. Reintigration concluding.
LEWIS Childress! Childress!
CHILDRESS lies motionless. LEWIS backs up.
LEWIS Damn! (He backs out the door.) Damn!
The door slams. Lights out on apartment.
WEATHERMAN . . . advisory in effect until sunrise, transit time, for the amber-light district. At 8:00/10:00 a time-lock-created dismption was spotted . . .
Lights up on bar. DOBSON and PETERS are back behind the bar. TOMKINS and CONNIE are gone.
PETERS (To DOBSON) So, what did you do after you left the Wistful Flamingo?
DOBSON Well, we stopped at Barney's for some fried leeches and then we headed back to the apartment. . . .
Lights on in apartment. DOBSON and PETERS walk back over to it- PETERS grabbing LANDRY'S arm and pulling him along.
PETERS C'mon, Soldier. We need to Work this Out.
LANDRY walks with them complacently. As they step into the apartment, lights out on bar.
DOBSON Let's see . . . we walked in through the door . . . the three army boys first, then Harry and me . . . and then Harry led Landry over to the clock sculpture. . . . (She takes LANDRY's arm and leads him over to the sculpture. The two of them almost stumble over CHILDRESS, who's lying on the floor where LEWIS left him.) Oh, look! Here's Childress! But he wasn't on the floor back then ... it wasn't like this at all!
PETERS squats behind CHILDRESS and slaps his face. CHILDRESS stirs.
PETERS Hey there, soldier. Wake up.
CHILDRESS (blinking and shaking his head) Mmmmm. Wow. Can I have more of those pills, "Bob"? (He sits up and looks around.) Where am I?
DOBSON You're in my apartment, army boy. Don't you remember?
CHILDRESS No. Last I remember I was in this bar talking to a girl. I don't think it was you. . . .
DOBSON It wasn't.
PETERS Take it easy, soldier. You've been fucked, fragged and stabbed all in one night. You probably lost your memories when the girl you were talking to killed you.
CHILDRESS Huh? Jesus! I'm not still fragmented, am I?
PETERS Nah. I think Time Control.managed to reintegrate you. (He starts to help CHILDRESS up.) C'man. Let's get you into a chair. Give me a hand, Landry. (LANDRY and PETERS help CHILDRESS into the overstuffed chair.) You got anything that'll help this arlny boy reorient, Miz Dobson?
DOBSON Think so. Just a moment. (Exits.)
CHILDRESS Landry. At least someone I know is here. Do you know these guys?
LANDRY I do now. The gentleman's name is Detective Peters. The woman is Barbara Dobson.
CHILDRESS Detective? Something going on?
LANDRY Afraid so. Both you and I are suspects in a murder case.
CHILDRESS Murderl But I thought those didn't work anymorel
PETERS (sitting down on the sofa) This one did. It Was Miz Dobson's husband. Got his legs ripped right off.
CHILDRESS (grossed out) Ooooooo! I don't think I could do something like that!
DOBSON enters with a glass full of clear, fizzing liquid and ice.
DOBSON Here you go, army boy. Arsenic and tonic. Should buck you right up.
CHILDRESS Thanks. (He takes a sip.) Mmmm.
There's a knock on the door.
DOBSON Come in!
The PLAINCLOTHESMAN enters with a computer printout.
PLAINCLOTHESMAN Here's the temporal analysis, sir.
PETERS Thanks. How're you feeling?
PETERS Good. You missed a little over there. (He points to the PLAINCLOTHESMAN's sleeve.)
PLAINCLOTHESMAN Oh. (He takes out a hanky and dabs at the spot while PETERS looks through the printout.)
CHILDRESS (to the PLAINCLOTHESMAN, smiling) And I thought it was a cuff link.
The PLAINCLOTHESMAN smiles wanly. Pause.
PETERS (nodding) Yep. Just as I thought. (To PLAINCLOTHESMAN:) We need to locate Lewis. Find him, but don't let him know you've found him. Use an undercover man to lure him up here. Let me know when he's on his way.
PLAINCLOTHESMAN Yes sir. (He leaves, muttering.) Why don't I just build the Taj Mahal while I'm at it. . . . (Door shuts.)
There is another pause. Finally:
PETERS reloads and relights his pipe, taking his time.
PETERS Childress could have done it rather easily. There's no telling how fragmented he became. Landry also could have done it. No one was watching him for a while. By the way, Landry, is this your wallet?
PETERS pulls the wallet planted by LEWIS out from between the sofa cushions. LANDRY checks his pockets, then looks at the wallet more closely.
LANDRY Uh, yeah, it is. Funny, I know I had it with me.... Well, jeepers, Detective! I know I didn't do it, but I guess that wallet makes it look like I did.
PETERS hands the wallet to LANDRY.
PETERS Not really, soldier. If you traveled through the right time zones, you could have had the wallet on your person for a brief while after you lost it. Reversed causality is becoming a pretty common thing these days. However, someone who still doesn't understand that may have planted your wallet here in an effort to frame you. I believe that's what happened. And these time charts here all point to the one suspect that isn't here with us.
CHILDRESS Lewis? I don't get that, Detective Peters. He was always such a swell guy to me.
PETERS Well, maybe he is, soldier. Maybe he is. But these are rough times for "swell guys." Living each day over and over again, fighting Nazi Hell Creatures and Green Energy Demons and Conspiracy Fragments. The Conspiracy Fragments are the worst. They can pull a man into the Conspiracy's war against itself without his even being aware of it, replacing his Slack with values derived from money, power, sex, religion or just raw fear, depending on which Fragment gets him. Soon our "swell guy" will be shitting dicks every time he tries to pee his own damn ass, and he'll think that's the way it's supposed to be. And where will we fit into his Conspiracy-fragged world-view? Any of us might represent the Slack that he has lost, even if he doesn't know he's lost it. His anger and fear will grow until they are finally unleashed against his subconsciously chosen enemy. It could be the local 'Frop retailer. It might be the man walking down the street with a pretty woman. Or maybe it's that rich salesman with those suspiciously hairy legs.. . .
DOBSON Hairy legs. I remember him saying something about that.
LANDRY He always made me shave mine.
PETERS Yetis, of course, have very hairy legs.
CHILDRESS I wish I could remember. There's something familiar about that...
The door opens. The PLAINCLOTHESMAN enters.
PLAINCLOTHESMAN Sir, he's on his way.
PETERS Good. Get out your pipes, everybody.
CHILDRESS What for? Aren't you gonna arrest him?
PETERS We don't have enough evidence to hold him. We need to prove that his behavior is criminally consistent. To do that we'll have to force him into a crisis situation. We'll use the fact that Lewis is a classic Bobbie to do it.
Now, I want all of you to slick your hair back, dig out your pipes and be J. R. "Bob" Dobbs. Don't pretend it. Be it! Suck that pipe, grin and let every stupidity of yours become divine! Sell yourself as the Dobbs-and Lewis will buy itl
Lieutenant, is the temporal shift ready?
PETERS Implement it as soon as he enters the building.
PLAINCLOTHESMAN Yes sir. (exits.)
PETERS All right now. Childress. You wait on this couch.
VOICES Cross-check for a temporal shift: 10:00 RPM V8-22:00 transit time.
PETERS Miz Dobson, you and Landry need to wait in the bedroom.
VOICES He's in the building. Implementing temporal shift. . . now!
Lights out on the apartment and up on the bar. The BARKEEP is sweeping up. CONNIE sits at the table with the corpse of HARRY TOMKINS. She takes a pistol and a box of bullets out of her purse. She loads the pistol.
CONNIE . . . I love old movies. They don't show 'em much anymore. You ever see that one called Crossfire? Starred Robert Mitchum, Robert Young and Robert Ryan. Guy gets killed right at the begining and everyone spends the rest of the movie ruminatin' about how fucked up they are since World War II ended. Great film. . . .
Lights out.
VOICES Tracking. Phase one.
Lights up on the apartment. CHILDRESS sits on the sofa with a genial smile and a pipe. LEWIS enters quietly.
CHILDRESS Why, hello there, soldier!
LEWIS Childress! You're alivel!
CHILDRESS (standing) I'm alive! Ho ho ho! (He steps up to LEWIS and claps a hand on his shoulder.) Why, does that mean you haven't killed your "Bob" today?
LEWIS Of course I did! I ripped his legs off. Remember? You were all upset about it! . . . (CHILDRESS smiles blankly at LEWIS.) Remember? You fell over! Remember?
Lights out.
VOICES Begin zone interface . .. now. Lights up on bar. CONNIE twirls the pistol on her finger, then places it in TOMKINS' hand so that ifs aiming stage left.
CONNIE . . . Some things I don't mind doing without. Did you ever hear that group the Doktors for "Bob"? I never could deal with them. My husband sure liked 'em, though. . . .
Lights off.
VOICES Tracking. Phase two.
Lights up on apartment.
LEWIS Remember? You fell over!
DOBSON and LANDRY enter from the bedroom area with pipes and genial grins.
LANDRY Did I hear someone say, "Fall over"?
DOBSON Why yes, I believe you did!
LANDRY Okay! (He falls over and rolls around on the floor.) Whoa ho ho ho ho ho!
DOBSON (to LEWIS) Why hello there, army boy! We were just about to try the "Bucking Kangaroo." Why don't you join us and we can try the "Pennsylvanian Camel Toot" instead! Lots of fun! Ha ha ha ha ha!
LEWIS (getting quite nervous) Why are you all acting like "Bob"?
DOBSON Hey there, army boy, there's a little bit of Dobbs in each of us. Why don't we celebrate our Dobbsness together in the bedroom, if you know what I mean! Huh? Huh? (She starts winking obnoxiously at LEWIS.)
LEWIS I don't get it! I thought we were supposed to kill "Bob"!
CHILDRESS "Kill "Bob" or kill me!" That's what they always say!
LANDRY "Kill "Bob" or kill me!" "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke!"
DOBSON "Kill "Bob" or kill me!" Nobody can eat just one!
LEWIS is backing towards the door. PETERS enters through the door and stands quietly behind him.
LEWIS I don't get it! Who do I kill, "Bob" or me? I just don't get it! (He backs into PETERS.)
PETERS Why, hello, "Bob"! It's good to see you!
LEWIS I'm not "Bob"!
PETERS Ha ha ha ha ha! Nice joke, "Bob," but I'd know that stupid face anywhere! See? Look for yourself.
PETERS holds up a poster of Dobbs. LEWIS blanches. He pulls out a gun.
LEWIS Dammit! I don't get it! Am I "Bob" or me? Who do I kill? What are the rules, dammit? Why doesn't somebody explain the rules?
PETERS Gee, "Bob," you don't seem happy. Would you like to go somewhere else?
LEWIS I . . . I wanna go back to the bar before all of this happened! I was happy there!
VOICES Tracking. Phase three.
Lights up on bar. LEWIS whirls around and stares at HARRY and CONNIE. HARRY's pistol is pointed right at LEWIS.
LEWIS You're "Bob," aren't you?
TOMKINS You're "Bob," aren't you?
LEWIS That's Connie, isn't it?
TOMKINS That's Connie, isn't it?
LEWIS Dammit! Answer me!
TOMKINS Dammit! Answer me!
LEWIS Stop saying everything I say!
TOMKINS Stop saying everything I say!
LEWIS I mean it, you hairy-legged Yeti!
TOMKINS I mean lt, you hairy-legged Yetl!
LEWIS Okay, buddy, you asked for this!
TOMKINS Okay, buddy, you asked for this!
LEWIS aims his gun at TOMKINS.
VOICES End phase . . . now!
Lights out. We hear a bizarrely reverberated gunshot, followed by LEWIS grunting and the sound of a falling body.
WEATHERMAN . . . although there were some Complex time snarls earlier this evening, things have all cleared up now and we should have smooth, temporal sailing at least until the end of the transit week. . . .
Lights up on both the apartment and the bar. There is no more bar musk. CONNIE sits alone with whats left of a drink. In the apartment, LEWIS lies dead. TOMKINS corpse lies on top of him.
PETERS (squatting, feeling LEWIS' neck for a pulse) Yep. He's dead all right.
PETERS stands and lights his pipe. Two genial-looking HUNCH-BACKS with pipes enter and carry LEWIS' body away.
CONNIE well, I guess that's it for tonight. (she finishes her drink.)
LANDRY I don't get it. Did he kill Harry? Did Harry kill him?
PETERS Hard to say. Doesn't really make any damn sense. Maybe Harry was "Bob." Maybe Lewis killed him just like he was supposed to.
BARKEEP You cumin' back tomorrow, Connie?
CONNIE I don't know. I kinda think it's getting to be time to move on.
The BARKEEP comes over to the table and starts to turn the chairs upside down on it. CONNIE stands and turns her own chair over. CHILDRESS picks up TOMKINS' torso.
CHILDRESS Well, hell! If he was "Bob," then I guess we gotta take him out to dinner.
LANDRY (picking up TOMKINS' legs) Yep. Guess so. (To PETERS and DOBSON :) Would either of you care to join us?
DOBSON Why don't you three go on. I've got some things to discuss with Detective Peters.
PETERS Uh, yeah. Have a good dinner. Looks like I've got a widow to fuck.
LANDRY Okay. Good night, Detective Peters.
PETERS Good night, soldier.
CHILDRESS Good night, Miz Dobson.
DOBSON Good night, army boy.
CHILDRESS, LANDRY and TOMKINS leave through the door. PETERS and DOBSON walk arm in arm to the bedroom. CONNIE (as she walks out of the bar) Good night, Robert.
BARKEEP Good night, Connie.
CONNIE exits. The BARKEEP continues to sweep.
WEATHERMAN . . . stable transit time of12:30, 10:42 RPM squared. Got some good time coming up tomorrow, and as always, they'll be coming in threes.. . .
The WEATHERMAN's voice is drowned out by tinny movie music. Over the music, we hear the VOICES.
VOICES Another night shift ends. Praise Dobbs!
Another night is over. Praise Dobbs!
Another senseless killing. Praise Dobbs!
Another brutal murder. Praise Dobbs!
The music rises up to a majestic conclusion. Lights out. The end.