Pacific Television Theater – Staged Readings

Episode 5 of Pacific TV, a pair of staged readings of two works in progress.  The first is an added first scene to Rising Tide (episode 3 of Pacific TV), the second is a short play called Power Trip.  They were performed at Community TV of Santa Cruz on Saturday July 7th, 2018

Originally I was going to present a one act family drama called A Better Place for episode 5, but it had to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.  Instead I presented an added first scene to an expansion I’m currently doing to Rising Tide (I’m also going to change the title to Dermalogic, the name of the small company that’s the subject of the play).

Power Trip, the second piece, is a short work in progress I’m working on for a Bay Area theatre company that’s presenting a series of five minute plays based around the theme of power.

Originally I was going to postpone episode 5, but instead I decided to salvage to time slot I already reserved with a couple of pieces from my works-in-progress pile.  The show must go on.

I’ll present A Better Place at a later time, either as episode 6 or 7.

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99 Word Prompt – Buttons

July 5: Flash Fiction Challenge

BIG AND SHINY

Now listen here, swine!” Claude bellowed with inflated self importance. “Now that I’ve put in charge of this department things are going to be different! There will be order!”

The employees looked at him blankly.

First rule, my cubicle is off limits! Nobody enters my territory! Nobody messes with my stuff! You will respect my authority!”

The employees rushed Claude, tackled him, knocked down all his cubicle walls, overturned his desk, scattered his paperwork, and threw his laptop out the window.

If you don’t anyone to push your buttons,” an employee reminded, “don’t make them so big and shiny.”

Tonight: Episode 5 Of Pacific TV

Episode 5 of Pacific Television Theater will be performed and live broadcast tonight from Community Television of Santa Cruz at 7:30PM PDT.  The half hour play that was originally going to be performed tonight had to be postponed.  Instead, two staged readings of works in progress will be performed and broadcast live tonight. The first script is a rewrite addition to Rising Tide, a half hour drama that was performed on episode 3 of Pacific TV.  The second is a short play called Power Trip.

Pacific TV can be viewed locally in Santa Cruz on Comcast 27, and can also be viewed online at the following link:

http://www.communitytv.org/watch/ctv-public-access-2773/

99 Word Prompt – Not All Is Lost

June 21: Flash Fiction Challenge

 

YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE

 

A city person pulled into a rural service station.  “Excuse me, sir, do you know the way to Davenport?”

“Davenport?” the rustic attendant answered.  “Don’t reckon I do.”

“How about Greenfield?”

The attendant pondered.  “Nope, don’t know the way there either.”

“Well can you tell me the way to the nearest Interstate?”

“I suppose if you keep driving down this highway you’ll run into one, but I don’t rightly know exactly where.”

The driver became frustrated.  “I must say, you don’t seem to know your way around here.”

The attendant chuckled.  “Yeah, but I’m not the one who’s lost.”

All In The Island – A 10 Minute Play

A Gilligan’s Island spoof in which the roles of the Skipper and Gilligan are reimaged as played by Carol O’Connor (he read for the part of the Skipper) and Rob Reiner. The rest of the castaways should appear as portrayed by their original actors. Gilligan’s Island debuted on CBS on September 26, 1964, about a month and a half after the Gulf of Tonkin incident that escalated the Vietnam War, and the premise here is that the SS Minnow was supposed to be a part of the operation but was surreptitiously steered off course by Gilligan because he is opposed to escalation.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

SKIPPER (ARCHIE BUNKER)

GILLIGAN (MIKE STIVIC)

MARY ANN

GINGER

MR. HOWELL

MRS. HOWELL

PROFESSOR

Scene: An uncharted island in the South Pacific

Time: Day, August 1964

(MARY ANN and GINGER are sitting on a log talking while sewing a net.)

GINGER

I sure hope Gilligan and the Skipper can get the Minnow fixed. I’d sure hate to be stranded on this primitive island.

MARY ANN

I’m sure they will, Ginger. The Skipper is very capable and experienced.

GINGER

And Gilligan?

MARY ANN

His incompetency keeps everyone amused.

(Holds up net)

What do you think of the repair I did?

GINGER

Oh, that’s very good, Mary Ann! I wish I knew how to sew like that.

MARY ANN

It’s not that hard. Let me show you.

(Demonstrates)

See? Nothing too it.

GINGER

Oh, I see. I never had a chance to learn how to sew. If one of my costumes had a rip during one of my shows, our costumer would sew it up.

MARY ANN

Wow, that sounds convenient.

GINGER

Yes, it was. I wanted to bring him along on this trip, but his husband doesn’t want him traveling overseas.

MARY ANN

Wait a minute, his husband? That’s not legal.

GINGER

But why not? If two people love each other, they should be able to marry no what their gender is.

MARY ANN

This is 1964, remember?

GINGER

Oh, the dark ages.

(SKIPPER and GILLIGAN enter. They are both upset.)

SKIPPER

Gilligan, you meathead! We’re supposed to be in Tonkin right now, not this island of cannibals!

GILLIGAN

We have no right to be in Southeast Asia! Our foreign policy is firing at everything that moves!

MARY ANN

What’s wrong, guys?

SKIPPER

This dumb Polack sabotaged us!

MARY ANN

Oh no, Gilligan! How could you?

GILLIGAN

I didn’t sabotage anything! I merely diverted our course to this island to avoid any danger.

GINGER

But what if no one rescues us?

SKIPPER

Yeah, genius! Did you think of that?

GILLIGAN

We’ll be fine! We just hit a reef a little too hard, that’s all. We’ll fix it. And I’m sure the natives here

are very friendly people who’ll be more than willing to help us.

SKIPPER

Oh my god! Are you serious?

GILLIGAN

I am. And I’ll bet they’re not at all like those stereotypes you believe in.

SKIPPER

I’ve had enough of your commie peacenick talk! We work for Uncle Sam, not Ho Chi Minh!

GILLIGAN

And why do you assume this island is populated with cannibals? Because they’re different from us, and therefore must be uncivilized?

SKIPPER

Oh yeah? I bet you wouldn’t want one living next to you!

GILLIGAN

It wouldn’t bother me one bit to have a Pacific Islander as a neighbor.

SKIPPER

What, you’d live next to an Oriental? Would you live next door to a colored as well?

GILLIGAN

(Proudly)

I’d live next door to anyone. We are all equals.

SKIPPER

Meathead, of all the stupid things you’ve said, that’s the stupidest one yet!

(Rest of castaways enter.)

MR. HOWELL

What’s all this fighting about?

MRS. HOWELL

Yes, you boys are making such a terrible racket.

SKIPPER

This pinko steered us off course!

GILLIGAN

We’ll fix it! Now enough with the anger.

MR. HOWELL

Well please hurry because we need to get back out onto sea and get to Tonkin as fast as we can. My friends at Bell Helicopter are counting on us.

MRS. HOWELL

And Lockheed, and Raytheon, and Northrup Grumman.

MR. HOWELL

Yes, lovey, I was just getting to that.

GILLIGAN

Don’t you see? We’re fighting for corporations!

SKIPPER

Corporations made America!

GILLIGAN

That is so narrow and misinformed! Isn’t there more to America than just taking wealth from other nations?

MARY ANN

Gilligan, I think you’ve been reading too much I.F. Stone.

MRS. HOWELL

Yes, Gilligan, you really should avoid those dreadful radicals.

MR. HOWELL

Bomb throwers they are!

GINGER

And I’m not taking anything, Gilligan. If anything, I’m giving of myself.

(The Castaways give words of agreement and support.)

PROFESSOR

So you see, Gilligan, there’s more to this mission than just corporate profitability. For instance, I’m doing experiments with a new chemical compound I’ve developed for Dow Chemicals.

MRS. HOWELL

That’s right. And how is the new defoliant coming along, Professor?

PROFESSOR

So far amazingly well. I predict a bright future for Agent Orange.

MRS. POWELL

That’s just wonderful. Isn’t it, dear?

MR. POWELL

Yes, we’ll destroy the jungles of Vietnam in no time. I’ll bet they surrender within the year!

GILLIGAN

So that’s our strategy? Defoliating their entire country?

MARY ANN

Oh it’s harmless, we use the same stuff on the farms back in Iowa. And except for the occasional birth defect or serial killer we haven’t had any problems.

GINGER

But will this operation only last a year? I’ve been working hard on my USO act and was so looking forward to performing for our boys.

PROFESSOR

Well perhaps our involvement will be more than a year, maybe it’ll be two years.

GINGER

Just as long as I get to entertain our boys.

SKIPPER

Don’t you worry, Ginger. We’ll get you to your show, just as soon as we fix the Minnow. We just had a little problem thanks to Gilligan’s meatheadedness!

GILLIGAN

Skipper, we have no business taking part in another country’s civil war!

SKIPPER

Haven’t you ever heard of the domino principle? If one country falls to Kremlin Joe and Chairman Mao they’re all going to fall.

GILLIGAN

But it is so much more complex than that! How can you reduce the complications of world politics and conflicting ideologies into a kid’s game?

PROFESSOR

So people can understand it. Otherwise the average American won’t be able to appreciate our Southeast Asia mission.

GILLIGAN

It’s that kind of dumbed down thinking that leads to war.

MARY ANN

But that’s how progress is made. When this skirmish is over we’ll have a new ally in the Cold War.

You have to look at the big picture, Gilligan.

GINGER

Yes, the Soviet Union will come crawling to us.

MARY ANN

That’s right. And once we win the Cold War that’ll be the end of world tensions once and for all.

PROFESSOR

So as you can see, Gilligan, we’re on a mission of peace.

GINGER

That’s right. In the future people will be appreciative how Vietnam brought peace to America.

GILLIGAN

But how do we know that the Pentagon isn’t lying to us?

MR. POWELL

That is absurd, my dear boy. Our government would never lie to the public.

MRS. POWELL

But they do keep some secrets, like classified military operations.

MR. POWELL

Well of course, lovey, but that’s not the same thing as giving out false information, something our government would never do.

GILLIGAN

Ha! And you call me naive!

SKIPPER

No, we call you meathead.

GILLIGAN

But why believe everything the government says?

MR. POWELL

Because we conservatives believe in maintaining our institutions, not overthrowing them.

MRS. POWELL

Oh, Gilligan, you really should come to your senses.

GILLIGAN

But I have! That’s what I’m saying.

PROFESSOR

So what makes you so skeptical about our mission, Gilligan?

GILLIGAN

Well, look at what happened to the French.

SKIPPER

Oh don’t get me started on those frogs!

GILLIGAN

But don’t you remember how they got bogged down over there? And they had colonized Indochina for almost a hundred years! We can’t let the same thing happen to us.

PROFESSOR

France was weakened by German occupation during World War II, so maintaining their colonies was becoming extraneous.

SKIPPER

And they did it all wrong because they were too busy swilling wine and being rude! Uncle Sam has to go in there and finish the job!

GILLIGAN

And how’s it going to be different for us? What if we get stuck in the same quagmire?

MR. HOWELL

Because we’re America, dear boy! And America doesn’t do quagmires.

MRS. HOWELL

Yes, quagmires are so tedious.

GILLIGAN

But nobody intends to get into a quagmire! They happen when you underestimate your situation and you end up getting bogged down by unforeseen obstacles.

GINGER

But Gilligan, must you be so defeatist?

MARY ANN

Yeah, Gilligan, you need to jump on the bandwagon and cheer America on for the big win!

GILLIGAN

I don’t trust sports analogies, they usually happen around a cover up.

PROFESSOR

But you need to have more faith in the government, Gilligan. They may get it wrong sometimes, but only by accident. They would never purposefully get us into an intractable situation.

(Everyone except GILLIGAN agrees.)

GILLIGAN

Okay, hear me out. Suppose, hypothetically, that our government is in collusion with certain business interests to make sure this military operation lasts longer than they’re saying.

(Everyone except GILLIGAN is disbelieving.)

MARY ANN

Now would they do that?

GILLIGAN

Because war is good for business.

SKIPPER

Now wait a minute, nobody said anything about a war! We’re providing support for a police action!

GILLIGAN

Yes, that’s how it starts, but then it’ll escalate, just like Korea!

SKIPPER

We handled that!

GILLIGAN

That ended with a cease fire, technically we’re still at war there.

PROFESSOR

Technically, yes, but do you really think little North Korea will ever pose a risk to us?

MARY ANN

Yeah, it’s not like they’re a nuclear power.

GILLIGAN

But still, that kind of heavy handedness creates pockets of oppression, frustration, and discontent, and then people lash out.

SKIPPER

Then an air strike is called. Case closed.

GILLIGAN

But I thought we weren’t at war! Clearly an air strike is an act of military aggression.

SKIPPER

An air strike doesn’t mean a war, it’s about protecting our men serving overseas!

GILLIGAN

Ah, and why are our men overseas if it’s not for military purposes?

PROFESSOR

It’s all part of the overall plan of world peace we’ve discussed.

SKIPPER

Yeah! Weren’t you listening?

GILLIGAN

(Facetiously)

Of course, peace through war! Makes perfect sense.

MARY ANN

Gilligan, you may not like our foreign policy, but as long as we’re all stuck on this island, you won’t have a chance to express your views.

MR. POWELL

And I won’t get a chance to build up my stock portfolio.

GINGER

And I won’t get a chance to perform for our boys.

MARY ANN

Yeah, Gilligan, you really need to repair the Minnow.

(Everyone tries to convince GILLIGAN until he relents.)

GILLIGAN

Okay, okay! You’ll all be happy to know that I’ve already got the bow fixed. So we can all get off this island and resume our dubious Southeast Asia mission.

(Everyone lets out cheers of satisfaction.)

MR. POWELL

At last! We can leave this island of primitives.

PROFESSOR

And I can get back to work on my death ray.

GINGER

And I can entertain our boys!

PROFESSOR

And what do you do, Mary Ann?

MARY ANN

(Puzzled)

You know, I’m not sure.

SKIPPER

Well I make sure you all get to your destinations, now let’s get going!

(Everyone exits toward the Minnow, except MRS. POWELL, who stops the SKIPPER to ask him a question.)

MRS. POWELL

Now Skipper, before we get going, I was wondering if you could help us load our trunk back onto the Minnow. I tried to talk Thurston into leaving it on the boat, but he insisted on bringing it on shore. He almost threw his back out! Poor thing. I keep telling him, lovey, you’re not on the college polo team anymore, but he doesn’t listen. Hardly ever does really, mother tried to warn me. But the trunk shouldn’t give you any trouble, certainly not a strapping sea captain such as yourself.

(During monologue, SKIPPER will pantomime suicide, one of Archie Bunker’s classic shticks when Edith talked too much.

MRS. POWELL

And I was also wondering if wouldn’t be too much trouble to make a stop over in Thailand? They make these lovely looking figurines, and I was hoping to pick some up as Christmas presents. Now I know Christmas is still months away, but they are such lovely figurines, and I really don’t know when Thurston and I will be in the South Pacific again. Did I ever tell you about the time we dined with King Rama? A gracious host, but oh so serious. A guest who had had too much to drink had made an off color remark that really upset the King. He was going to have the man publicly flogged, but fortunately for him the CIA station chief intervened and we are all spared the indignity of seeing poor Senator Kennedy whipped in front of all those peasants.

(The SKIPPER pantomimes tying a rope into a noose, then hanging himself dead while MRS. POWELL talks obliviously.)

HangingArchie

CURTAIN

©2018 Robert Kirkendall

99 Word Prompt: White Flowers

Dec. 21: Flash Fiction Contest

The man stopped when he came across a pleasant sight of white flowers arrayed in front of him.  He wistfully contemplated the field of new growth.  The beautiful daisy, he sighed to himself, Bellis perennis if memory serves me.  He looked across the many bright yellow dots surrounded by snow white petals atop thin green stems and silently thanked Mother Nature for providing him with such a lovely site.  It’s like a…carpet of prettiness, he beheld, a gift from the natural world for all the world to enjoy.

He then restarted his mower and chopped them all down.

 

99 Word Prompt: Busy

September 7: Flash Fiction Challenge

Silvio the waiter moved from table to table taking customer’s orders and answering their many questions about the menu. He then ran back to the kitchen, quickly arranged various plates of food onto a serving tray, and ran back out with the tray on his upturned palm. He adroitly sidestepped other servers and bussers on his way to table.

“Waiter!” an obnoxious customer screeched.

Silvio halted and looked down at the customer contemptuously.

“What’s this fly doing in my soup?” the customer demanded as he pointed down at his soup bowl.

Silvio glanced down at the bowl. “The backstroke!”

Ailurophobia – A 10 Minute Play

(This play was inspired by Mooch, the tuxedo cat in the above picture. He belongs to my girlfriend, and when I was rehearsing another play at her townhouse, Mooch would join us, bother the actors, and generally make himself the center of attention. Good kitty.)

CHARACTERS

DARCY – A tenant

ROSEANNE – A tenant

TABITHA – A tenant

GEORGE – A tenant

WHISKERS – A tuxedo cat

Scene: Darcy’s apartment

Time: Early evening, Present

(The living room of DARCY’S apartment. DARCY is seated on the stage right side of a couch that’s at upstage center and facing the audience. ROSEANNE is seated to her left on other side of couch. At stage left is TABITHA sitting on a chair or a love seat. At stage right is GEORGE sitting in a chair. At center stage is a coffee table with some glasses of water and a pile of papers. There is a back wall upstage with two large windows on either side. Everyone has a sheet of paper or two that were printed by DARCY.)

DARCY

Thank you all for volunteering for the steering committee. We’ll be considering and discussing the new proposed rules for the Glenwood Complex. Let me begin by saying that I take our responsibility to our fellow tenants very serious. These are problems that we all want to be addressed, and I will give this all my attention without distraction.

(Everyone else nods in approval.)

DARCY

Now some of these new rules attempt to deal with complaints about parking availability, the lack of night time lighting for certain parts of the complex, as well as the recent worries about transients intruding onto our property.

(WHISKERS, DARCY’S tuxedo cat, enters.)

DARCY

Now I share everyone’s concern when it come to unwanted intruders, and I believe something needs to be done about it, but I also believe we need to be cautious in how we approach this problem.

(Whiskers starts rubbing up against DARCY and meowing.)

DARCY (To WHISKERS)

Not now, Whiskers. Can’t you see I’m busy?

(To tenants)

You’ll have to excuse my cat. He does love being the center of attention.

ROSEANNE

Oh that’s all right. I just love cats!

(Pets WHISKERS)

And you’re just an adorable little kitty!

(WHISKERS starts rubbing up against ROSEANNE and purring.)

ROSEANNE

Aw, how cute!

TABITHA

He is one handsome looking cat. Where did you get him?

DARCY

He was a stray. He just showed up one day when I was down in the laundry room. Poor thing was starving, probably an orphan. I couldn’t resist, I had to have him.

TABITHA

Well cats are my favorite.

(WHISKERS goes over to TABITHA.)

TABITHA

(Pets WHISKERS)

Aw, you’re such a pretty little kitty!

GEORGE

I have to admit I’m not much of a cat person myself.

DARCY (Concerned)

If it’s a problem I can put him in my room.

GEORGE

Well, as long as he doesn’t disturb our meeting I don’t see a problem.

DARCY

You don’t have to worry about Whiskers. He’s actually very well behaved.

GEORGE

Oh, okay.

DARCY

So, back to the meeting. I’ve proposed that more security cameras be installed.

ROSEANNE

Good idea.

GEORGE

But before we do that we should fix the cameras we already have. A couple of them don’t work anymore, which I know is more of a maintenance issue, but…

(WHISKERS walks up to GEORGE and starts rubbing up against him. GEORGE is a bit uncomfortable.)

DARCY

Whiskers! Leaver George alone!

(To GEORGE)

I’m really sorry about this. He’s friendly to everybody.

TABITHA (Humorously)

Cats always find the non-cat person.

DARCY

(To GEORGE)

Want me to get him away from you?

GEORGE

Well, as long as he’s not biting or clawing or endangering me in any way it should be all right.

ROSEANNE (Affectionately)

He’s marking you!

DARCY

You can go ahead and pet him. He won’t bite.

GEORGE

(Pets WHISKERS carefully)

I’ve never lived with cats, half my family is allergic.

ROSEANNE

He’s helping you with your ailurophobia.

GEORGE

Ailuro what?

ROSEANNE

Ailurophobia, it’s an irrational fear of cats.

GEORGE

Well I don’t know if it’s an irrational fear, more like unfamiliarity.

TABITHA

You’ve made a new friend.

(To GEORGE, jokingly)

And so have you.

GEORGE

Um, yeah. Can continue with the meeting?

(Stops petting WHISKERS)

DARCY

Of course, let’s back to it.

TABITHA

George does make a good point about the cameras we have now that aren’t working. If we get those fixed, maybe we won’t need new ones.

DARCY

I agree, we should save expenses where we can.

(WHISKERS walks over to coffee table, peers at a pile of papers, starts batting at them.)

ROSEANNE

And while we’re at it, we should really do something about the lighting.

DARCY

Oh, definitely. Better lighting would keep away the trouble makers.

TABITHA

Yeah, like one of those spotlights that turns on automatically when you trigger a sensor.

(WHISKERS knocks pile of papers onto the floor.)

DARCY

Whiskers!

ROSEANNE (Laughs)

Cats sure do like knocking stuff over.

DARCY

(Picks up papers)

Especially this one. Bad kitty!

(WHISKERS meows back.)

DARCY

We’ll play with your cat toy later. Right now momma has company.

(WHISKERS mews some more, then sulks away. He slowly makes his way to window next to GEORGE.)

DARCY

For a male cat he can be a real diva.

ROSEANNE

My mom’s cat is the same way, a real attention magnet.

TABITHA

So was my old cat. Maybe I should get a new one.

DARCY

There’s plenty up for adoption.

TABITHA

Yeah, I just need to find the right cat. One who’s as adorable as this one!

GEORGE

I hate to interrupt but shouldn’t we be discussing the agenda of this meeting?

DARCY

(Sits back down and lays papers on table)

Yes, yes we should. I believe we were discussing security cameras?

ROSEANNE

Yeah, as well as lighting.

(To WHISKERS, unctuously)

We just got a little distracted by little kitty!

GEORGE

Okay. Like I was saying, if we fix the cameras we already have, or even replace them with advanced cameras, that could solve our problem.

TABITHA

You know, looking into new cameras would be a good idea. The new ones have such a better resolution.

GEORGE

Exactly. I’ve been looking around online and the prices of 2K cameras is starting to come down. They might actually now be in the range of our budget.

(WHISKERS look downward out window at stage right, then raises his hackles and hisses.)

GEORGE (Nervously)

Uh, what’s going on here?

DARCY

Oh it’s just another cat that lives in the complex. They’re having one of their territorial wars again.

GEORGE

He won’t attack me on accident, will he?

DARCY

Of course not, you have nothing to worry about. You’re not a rival cat.

(WHISKERS continues to howl and hiss, then runs over everyone and knocks some of the papers off of table again on his way to other window. He continues to howl and hiss out other window.)

DARCY

Whiskers! That’s enough!

TABITHA (Affectionately)

He’s just a little bundle of energy!

DARCY

Well he is a stray so he still has a lot of wild still in him.

GEORGE

I’ll say.

ROSEANNE

I think it’s cute.

DARCY

He can be a handful, but I wouldn’t have him any other way.

(To WHISKERS)

Whiskers! Get away from that window and behave yourself!

(WHISKERS finally stops howling and hissing, then walks to front of coffee table down stage.)

TABITHA

That does it, I’m adopting a new cat! There must be cats waiting for homes who are just as special as this little guy.

ROSEANNE

And you’ll be saving a cat’s life.

DARCY

That’s right.

TABITHA

The thought of all those poor kittens waiting for loving homes just gets to me.

(TABITHA fights back tears, DARCY and ROSEANNE console her.)

GEORGE

Um, the meeting?

DARCY

Oh, of course. Once again distracted by the feline.

(WHISKERS meows back at DARCY.)

DARCY

(To WHISKERS)

Not now, the people are talking.

(To GEORGE)

You were saying?

GEORGE

Good. Now in addition to new cameras we should also consider other security measures.

DARCY

Oh, agreed.

ROSEANNE

Maybe we can hire a security guard.

TABITHA

Yeah, the police don’t patrol this area nearly enough.

ROSEANNE

I know, it’s like we’re on our own out here.

DARCY

But can we afford a security guard?

(A fly starts buzzing around and WHISKERS follows it intently with his eyes.)

GEORGE

We can shop around, but I think we really need to look at that option. It’ll help keep out the criminal element.

ROSEANNE

Okay, but I’d hate for this place to become a fortress. One of the things I like about living here is all the friendly neighbors. I wouldn’t want it to feel too authoritarian.

GEORGE

Of course not. We need just enough security to protect us from dangerous types and the trouble makers.

(WHISKERS starts to go after fly, knocks over a glass of water off of coffee table, water spills on GEORGE.)

GEORGE (Stands up angrily)

Hey!

DARCY

Whiskers! Get a hold of yourself!

(To GEORGE)

I’m really sorry, I’ll get a towel.

GEORGE

Your cat is a menace!

DARCY

I’m so sorry, George! He didn’t mean it, really he didn’t!

(WHISKERS continues to chase after fly, then bumps against GEORGE causing him to stumble toward window and teeter over the window sill.)

GEORGE

Oh no!

(Falls out of window)

Aaaaaaaahhh!

(WHISKERS looks out window, then stars preening himself. Sound of GEORGE crashing outside.)

DARCY (Hands on hips)

Whiskers! Bad kitty!

(WHISKERS meows back innocently, then goes back to preening himself.)

©2017 Robert Kirkendall

Current Affairs: A Fake Interview Show – Episode 2

(Originally written as a short play during the summer of this year, posting it here after failing to get it staged.)

CHARACTERS

CHARLENE BEAUMONT

AMELIA KIRBY

HARVEY CHESWICK

REX PAULSON

Scene: A local television station

(A local television studio where an afternoon talk show is about to air. The host and the three guests are seated around a coffee table. The host, Charlene Beaumont, is seated at stage right. She is intelligent and informed. To her left is Amelia Kirby, an officious but dense person. Next to Amelia is Harvey Cheswick, obsequious and two faced. Seated at stage left is Rex Paulson, a menacing heavy.)

CHARLENE (Addresses audience)

Good afternoon, and welcome to Current Affairs. I am your host, Charlene Beaumont. Since the election of Arnie Fowler to Congress, things have been very different for District 7. In addition to an increased emphasis on security measures and a decrease on social spending, there has been a very concerted effort to go after immigrants, both documented and undocumented, environmentalists, human rights observers, women’s groups, minority groups, LGBTQ groups, civil libertarians, unionized workers, teachers, intellectuals, journalists from all forms of media, the entire county board of supervisors, people who speak with accents, appear too swarthy, and have last names that are, quote, funny sounding. With me to discuss his new administration is Congressman Fowler’s chief of staff Amelia Kirby.

AMELIA

Thank you having us, Charlene.

CHARLENE

The Congressman’s governmental advisor, Harvey Cheswick.

HARVEY

A pleasure to be here, Ms. Beaumont!

CHARLENE

And also with us is…(Looks at her notes), Director of Special Operations Rex Paulson

REX

Hi.

CHARLENE

Well, it’s been a hectic time in District 7 since the election. How have you all adjusted to your new positions as well as your sudden presence in the public spotlight?

AMELIA

Well I’ve adjusted just fine, and I really don’t know what all the controversy is about. Congressman

Fowler was very expressive about his vision during his campaign so for me there were no surprises. Plus I’ve had plenty of experience when it comes to dealing with an upset public.

CHARLENE

And where was that?

AMELIA

Customer service for United Airlines.

CHARLENE

I see. And have the rest of you readjusted to your new positions?

HARVEY

Like a hand in glove! When Mr. Fowler tells me to jump, I don’t even bother to ask him how high, I just jump.

CHARLENE

But as his governmental advisor aren’t you supposed to inform him of the duties of his job? Especially if he’s about to do something illegal or make some other kind of mistake?

HARVEY

Ha! Oh my, you are so naive. Congressman Fowler never makes mistakes. He told me so himself.

CHARLENE

Okay. And you, Mr. Paulson? Have you acclimated yourself to your new position?

REX

Yeah.

CHARLENE

All right. Now Ms. Kirby, how has the Congressman reacted to the slew of protests that have plagued him since he took office?

AMELIA

Well I just remind Congressman Fowler, and the rest of us, that the protesters represent only a small minority of voters and doesn’t reflect the majority of opinions.

HARVEY

And I have it on good authority that all these so called protesters are bussed in from out of state and are funded by George Soros.

REX

A conspiracy.

CHARLENE

Now protesters claim assiduously that they are local, and they contend that Congressman Fowler only won through voter intimidation.

HARVEY

Sore losers, ha ha!

AMELIA

They’re making that all up. I have yet to hear any examples of this so called intimidation.

CHARLENE

Well, some of the voter disenfranchisement techniques cited by protesters include closed polling stations, voter intimidation by brown shirted protesters at other polling stations, and one instance of a man in a security guard uniform who claimed to be a ballot inspector, and went around looking at filled out ballots looking for irregularities. He ended up throwing away hundreds of ballots.

REX

Mr. Fowler denies knowledge or involvement in any of these alleged activities.

CHARLENE

They’re not alleged, there’s plenty of video footage. All the local TV stations and many online sources have already shown footage.

REX

They’ll be dealt with.

CHARLENE

I beg your pardon. What do you mean by that?

HARVEY

Uh, Mr. Paulson was merely being sarcastic.

AMELIA

Of course! Rex is very well known for his sarcasm.

CHARLENE

Is that true, Mr. Paulson?

REX

Yeah, sure.

CHARLENE

Moving on. Another complaint from citizens is that the Congressman is rarely at his office. They accuse him of spending too much time golfing, bowling, playing poker, and when he does meet with constituents, it’s usually at a strip bar.

REX (Agitated)

Are you accusing Mr. Fowler of meeting with Reds?

CHARLENE

No, (Enunciates) a constituent. It means someone who lives in the Congressman’s district.

REX (Beat)

I knew that.

CHARLENE

Back to voter concerns. Many are worried that the Congressman is not only shirking his duties, he doesn’t take seriously the very responsibilities of his job.

HARVEY

Now I think I can put those worries into perspective and ultimately to rest by pointing out that candidate Fowler ran a very unique campaign. So of course after winning he going to be a unique, outside the mainstream congressman.

AMELIA

And let me add that no one takes his job more seriously that Congressman Fowler. You should see the passion with which he yells at the TV when he sees a news item he disagrees with, especially when Sylvia Brown is on.

CHARLENE

Yes, the Congressman’s opponent during the election. Why would he still be angry with her?

AMELIA

Because she said some mean things about Arnie.

HARVEY

She sure did.

CHARLENE

But since Fowler won and became Congressman, it seems rather unnecessary to harbor bitter feelings toward Mrs. Brown.

AMELIA

But she never apologized for her mean comments.

CHARLENE

Actually Sylvia Brown said very little about Fowler, especially toward the end of the campaign. Most of her ads were just clips Fowler’s more outrageous accusations, especially the obviously false claim that Mrs. Brown killed Vince Foster for the Clinton’s, and that they paid her in heroin.

HARVEY

But can you prove that it didn’t happen?

CHARLENE

You can’t prove a negative.

HARVEY

Aha! More pseudo intellectual hooey!

CHARLENE

No, it’s just common logic. You do understand the basic tenets of logic, right?

(The guests stare back at Charlene blankly.)

CHARLENE

Okay, let’s move on. Another area of concern is the shroud of secrecy that surrounds the office of Congressman Fowler. Access to him has become more restricted, and most people have no idea what happens during a typical day at the Congressman’s office.

AMELIA

Well then let me explain it to all those anxious, worried people. In the morning we put together his briefing. We keep it simple. He likes it when they have pictures and lots of color graphs.

CHARLENE

Is anything substantive said at these briefings?

HARVEY

Of course! Mr. Fowler is a very complex man who takes his job very seriously. Just the other day I attempted to bring up an important issue that I referred to as an elephant in the room. But when I said it that way, Congressman Fowler jumped to his feet and said, where’s the elephant? where’s the elephant? Then he excitedly ran around the office looking for an elephant. When we finally explained to him that it was a figure of speech and not a real elephant, he was extremely upset. He even broke down in tears.

CHARLENE

It does seem alarming that the Congressman has a hard time controlling himself.

AMELIA

But would you rather have some cold blooded, unemotional leader who doesn’t have feelings and only does things calmly, and rationally?

CHARLENE

But how do you deal with Congressman Fowler when he acts in such an emotionally unhinged way?

HARVEY (Reassuringly)

Oh, we know how to handle him when he gets in one of his special moods. A box of crayons, some paper, and he relaxes like a tranquilized animal.

CHARLENE

I see.

REX

I’d like to state for the record that Mr. Fowler does not inject tranquilizers or any other drugs. He just says no.

CHARLENE

I believe that was a metaphor.

HARVEY

That’s my fault. I should have been more plain speaking, like our beloved Congressman, instead of relying on the crutch of metaphor.

CHARLENE

Okay. Well one thing Congressman Fowler has been open about is his desire to return to policies that are fading, like mandatory minimums, suspension of civil liberties, and general prison expansion.

AMELIA

He is merely reacting to the wishes of the people.

CHARLENE

Actually public opinion is going against those policies.

HARVEY

That’s absurd!

CHARLENE

Not really. And many speculate that these policy opinions are because the private prison industry was a major donor to Fowler’s campaign.

AMELIA

But they are merely supporters who are showing their appreciation by donating to Congressman Fowler’s campaign. It’s really all quite innocent.

CHARLENE

But donations give the appearance of influence.

HARVEY

Might I remind you that money is speech?

REX

Citizen’s United, sweetie.

CHARLENE

Okay, currently money is considered speech, but that decision has been steeped in controversy, so just saying money is speech doesn’t seem to satisfy the public.

AMELIA

Well maybe the public needs to pull itself up by its own bootstraps instead of asking for a handout.

CHARLENE

I’m not sure how taking issue with moneyed interests having a disproportionate influence on elected office holders makes one a seeker handouts.

AMELIA

You see? You just answered your own question.

CHARLENE

That doesn’t make sense.

HARVEY

You need to stop thinking and just go with how you feel.

CHARLENE

Okay, I think we’re going off course here. Now I want to bring up the nagging and persistent questions that continue to surround the last election. More specifically, Fowler’s connections to figures in the criminal world.

AMELIA

Oh please! Congress are the real criminals.

CHARLENE

But Mr. Fowler is now a Congressman.

HARVEY

A new kind of Congressman, without that Washington taint.

CHARLENE

But these connections between Fowler and the criminal underworld go back years, long before he got into politics. He plays golf with members of various South American drug cartels, is suspected of having ties with members of the Yakuza, and has been accused of brokering money laundering for Russian oligarchs.

AMELIA

But as you can see Congressman Fowler has very diverse friends.

HARVEY

You think the pointy headed elites would at least give him credit for that.

CHARLENE

Uh, I think you’re missing the big picture. Now that Mr. Fowler is a congressman he is under greater scrutiny, so all those connections to criminals that he was able to hide when he was a private citizen are now in the public arena.

AMELIA

Those charges are baseless!

CHARLENE

And there’s Congressman Fowler’s insistence that climate change is a hoax despite all scientific evidence to the contrary.

HARVEY

The Earth is still around last time I checked.

CHARLENE

But the Congressman is at odds with most of his constituency. Isn’t he afraid of a backlash?

AMELIA

If Arnie took his critics seriously he would have given up long ago.

HARVEY

And he knows how to deal with his critics.

CHARLENE

How does he?

HARVEY

Oh, he has a plan.

CHARLENE

What plan?

HARVEY

A little thing called martial law.

REX (Jumps up)

You’re not supposed to mention that!

CHARLENE

What??

HARVEY

No! I didn’t say anything!

REX

That does it!

HARVEY

Noooooo!

(Rex grabs Harvey and drags him off stage.)

CHARLENE

What’s going on here?!

AMELIA

You didn’t see a thing!

CHARLENE

We’re on live TV!

AMELIA (To audience)

You! At home! You didn’t see or hear a thing! Got it?

(Runs off stage after Rex and Harvey)

CHARLENE (Pause, to audience)

Well this is flabbergasting. When we come back from break we’ll try to straighten out this mess and then discuss the Congressman’s voting record.

(Harvey runs back on stage screaming for help and then runs down the center aisle while being chased by Rex, who holds a pair and manacles or a large net, and Amelia.)

CHARLENE (To offstage)

Security!

©2017 Robert Kirkendall

99 Word Prompt: Lighthouse

July 6: Flash Fiction Challenge

Wendy and Jack approached the old lighthouse with other tourists.

“I just love these old buildings!” Wendy gushed.  “Don’t you, dear?”

“They’re okay, I guess,” Jack replied.

“But it’s so grand looking!  They knew how to build things then.”

“It’s just an archaic brick building with no more use.  Modern ships rely on more advanced technology.”

“But it’s historical!” Wendy reminded.

“It’s useless,” Jack insisted.  “There is no more need for it.”

Just then the long, ugly sound of a ship crashing upon rocks and resulting screams filled the air.

“Okay,” Jack admitted, “maybe this lighthouse is still useful.”