Power Trip – A 5 Minute Play

(A comedic look at workplace hierarchy/pecking order, first performed as a staged reading at Community TV of Santa Cruz.)


LEONARD – middle management

GORDON – recently promoted to middle management

CLAUSEN – upper management

Place: LEONARD’S workplace office

Time: Contemporary

(LEONARD is sitting at his desk and writing on some paperwork. GORDON enters.)

LEONARD:  (Puts down pen and addresses GORDON)  Well Gordon, after seven years you’ve finally risen up to middle management. Congratulations.  (Stands up and extends hand)

GORDON:  Thanks, Len.

LEONARD:  Leonard.

(They shake hands.)

LEONARD:  You’ll find that things are a little different up here.

GORDON:  Yes, and I’m looking forward to putting my experience to good use at a higher level of responsibility.

LEONARD:  (Laughs a bit, goes to front of desk)  Yes, of course. But you know what the best part is?

GORDON:  The higher pay?

LEONARD:  Actually, now that you’re salaried, you won’t get paid overtime if you work after hours, which you probably will because you’re new to middle management. In a way, you’ll actually be losing money, but I’m talking about something more fundamental.

GORDON:  Being rewarded for dedication and loyalty?

LEONARD:  Sure, why not. But I’m talking of something more satisfying to the soul.

GORDON:  I know, being a more integral part of the company.

LEONARD:  Now listen to me, Gordon. The only integral people here are the executive board, the upper management. Everyone else is expendable. Got it?

GORDON:  (Warily)  Understood.

LEONARD:  Good. You see, what I’m talking about is something that will make the rise up the ladder much more worth it.

GORDON:  What’s that?

LEONARD:  Lording it over the underlings.

GORDON:  You mean our staff of workers that keep the company going?

LEONARD:  They are peons!

GORDON:  Excuse me?

LEONARD:  You heard me! Mouth breathing, knuckle dragging morons!

GORDON:  Oh, I didn’t know you felt that way.

LEONARD:  It’s not just me, it’s everyone in middle management on up. And that’s the other thing you must learn.

GORDON:  Yes, the hierarchy.

LEONARD:  Hierarchy?! I’ll tell you what it is here. This company is triple decker sandwich. The board of directors are the top slice of bread, the plebes are the bottom slice of bread, and we are the ingredients in the middle. And our job is to make sure the bottom slice knows its place, and doesn’t get any ideas of trying to be the top slice.

GORDON:  I have to say, I never got the feeling anyone down on the work floor wanted to start a mutiny.

LEONARD:  Do you don’t know that for a fact?

GORDON:  Well…

LEONARD:  Of course not. Those sneaky little devils wouldn’t let you in on their scheme because deep down, they knew you weren’t one of them, and that you’d end up here.

GORDON:  Okay, I think I’m starting to get it now.

LEONARD:  Do you? Because I get the feeling you’re still sympathetic toward those pawns.

GORDON:  Well I have to confess I’m not totally hard hearted. I hope that won’t be a problem in middle management.

LEONARD:  I used to be like you, concerned about the average schmuck, worried if they’re able to get through their miserable lives or not, but then I was set straight.

GORDON:  By who?

LEONARD:  By the rest of middle management, under the direction of our glorious executive board of course, long may they reign!  (Looks to GORDON for response of agreement)

GORDON:  Oh yes, of course.

LEONARD:  A little slow there, Gordon.

GORDON:  Never happen again.

LEONARD:  I hope so, for your sake. But as I was saying, when I was plucked from the horde, they educated me to the true way of how this company, indeed, how the world works.

GORDON:  Hard work and service to the greater good?

LEONARD:  When will you learn? I’m talking about divide and conquer.

GORDON:  I don’t know, the workers seem pretty reasonable about what they want.

LEONARD:  And they must be kept that way.

GORDON:  With respect, it seems like the executive board is acting a little paranoid.

LEONARD:  Do not doubt the executive board! They know all and see all!

GORDON:  Oh, of course. Silly me.

LEONARD:  I am serious! Now that you’re here in middle management, you must change your behavior.

GORDON:  Yes, I’m starting to gather that.

LEONARD:  No more fraternizing with the the proletariat!

GORDON:  But what if one of them starts talking to me? Maybe they have an important question.

LEONARD:  You say to them, ‘I am your superior! Now genuflect before me!’

GORDON:  That sounds a bit…lofty.

LEONARD:  Lofty, he says. I’m starting to wonder if you have what it takes to occupy the awesome responsibility that is middle management. You seem to think doing common, physical labor is acceptable.

GORDON:  Oh, I don’t mind working with my hands.

LEONARD:  Well you better start minding! Because that kind of thinking will make you weak, and could get you demoted back to where you came from!

(CLAUSEN enters.)

CLAUSEN:  What’s going on in here?!

LEONARD:  Oh! Mr. Clausen! So good to see you! I was just explaining how we do middle management to this recent promotion.

CLAUSEN:  See that you do it right!

LEONARD:  Yes, sir!

CLAUSEN:  Good! And when you’re done I want a full report on the Lipschitz account ASAP!

LEONARD:  But I was going to have Gordon here do that, sir, since he is new here to middle management.

CLAUSEN:  What? Are you turning down an order from upper management?

LEONARD:  Oh no, sir!

CLAUSEN:  Good, because if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a knuckle dragging, mouth breathing middle management peon underling who doesn’t know his place!

LEONARD:  Yes, sir! I’ll get right on it.  (Exits quickly)

CLAUSEN:  (Calls out to LEONARD)  And make it snappy!  (Derisively)  Silly toady.  (To GORDON)  Hi, I’m Clausen, and you are?

GORDON:  Leaving!  (Exits)


©2018 Robert Kirkendall


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.

All In The Island – A 10 Minute Play

A Gilligan’s Island spoof in which the roles of the Skipper and Gilligan are reimagined 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.









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.)


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


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


And Gilligan?


His incompetency keeps everyone amused.

(Holds up net)

What do you think of the repair I did?


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


It’s not that hard. Let me show you.


See? Nothing too it.


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.


Wow, that sounds convenient.


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


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


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


This is 1964, remember?


Oh, the dark ages.

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


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


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


What’s wrong, guys?


This dumb Polack sabotaged us!


Oh no, Gilligan! How could you?


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


But what if no one rescues us?


Yeah, genius! Did you think of that?


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.


Oh my god! Are you serious?


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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

(Rest of castaways enter.)


What’s all this fighting about?


Yes, you boys are making such a terrible racket.


This pinko steered us off course!


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


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.


And Lockheed, and Raytheon, and Northrup Grumman.


Yes, lovey, I was just getting to that.


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


Corporations made America!


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


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


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


Bomb throwers they are!


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

(The Castaways give words of agreement and support.)


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


Just as long as I get to entertain our boys.


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!


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


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.


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?


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


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


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.


Yes, the Soviet Union will come crawling to us.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Ha! And you call me naive!


No, we call you meathead.


But why believe everything the government says?


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


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


But I have! That’s what I’m saying.


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


Well, look at what happened to the French.


Oh don’t get me started on those frogs!


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.


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


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!


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


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


Yes, quagmires are so tedious.


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.


But Gilligan, must you be so defeatist?


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


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


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.)


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.)


Now would they do that?


Because war is good for business.


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


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


We handled that!


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


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


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


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


Then an air strike is called. Case closed.


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


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


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


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


Yeah! Weren’t you listening?



Of course, peace through war! Makes perfect sense.


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.


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


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


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

(Everyone tries to convince GILLIGAN until he relents.)


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.)


At last! We can leave this island of primitives.


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


And I can entertain our boys!


And what do you do, Mary Ann?



You know, I’m not sure.


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.)


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.


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.)



©2018 Robert Kirkendall

99 Word Prompt: Property Values

May 17: Flash Fiction Challenge

“And if you look here,” the real estate agent said, “you’ll see that the fire damage didn’t destroy the entire kitchen.”

“Well that’s good,” said the husband.

“A fixer upper!” his wife added optimistically.

“Can we see the master bedroom?” the husband asked.

“Sorry, can’t do that,” the agent replied.  “The ceiling caved in.”

“What’s that stench?” the wife asked as she averted her nose.

“Oh, that’s a pile of burning outhouses in the backyard.

“So how much?” the husband asked.

“1.2 million dollars.”

“Wow!” the husband responded.

I’ll say!” the wife agreed excitedly.  “A real bargain for Silicon Valley!”

99 Word Prompt: Boots

January 18: Flash Fiction Challenge

Cpl. Wildey led his squad through a clearing and into a wooded thicket toward enemy lines on a reconnaissance mission to ascertain troop locations.  The trail they were on approached an enemy headquarters in the distance.  Cpl. Wildey thought he saw movement ahead, so he ordered his troops to sneak up by crawling through a high grass area.  He carefully maneuvered them without notice when he suddenly came face to face with a pair of the enemy’s boots standing squarely and menacingly.  Fear shot through him, until he looked up and saw that no one was wearing the boots.

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!”

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.)






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.


Thank you having us, Charlene.


The Congressman’s governmental advisor, Harvey Cheswick.


A pleasure to be here, Ms. Beaumont!


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




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?


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.


And where was that?


Customer service for United Airlines.


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


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.


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?


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


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




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


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.


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.


A conspiracy.


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


Sore losers, ha ha!


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


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.


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


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


They’ll be dealt with.


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


Uh, Mr. Paulson was merely being sarcastic.


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


Is that true, Mr. Paulson?


Yeah, sure.


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?


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

REX (Beat)

I knew that.


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.


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.


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.


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


Because she said some mean things about Arnie.


She sure did.


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


But she never apologized for her mean comments.


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.


But can you prove that it didn’t happen?


You can’t prove a negative.


Aha! More pseudo intellectual hooey!


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

(The guests stare back at Charlene blankly.)


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.


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.


Is anything substantive said at these briefings?


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.


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


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


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.


I see.


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


I believe that was a metaphor.


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


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.


He is merely reacting to the wishes of the people.


Actually public opinion is going against those policies.


That’s absurd!


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


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


But donations give the appearance of influence.


Might I remind you that money is speech?


Citizen’s United, sweetie.


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.


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


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


You see? You just answered your own question.


That doesn’t make sense.


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


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.


Oh please! Congress are the real criminals.


But Mr. Fowler is now a Congressman.


A new kind of Congressman, without that Washington taint.


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.


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


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


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.


Those charges are baseless!


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


The Earth is still around last time I checked.


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


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


And he knows how to deal with his critics.


How does he?


Oh, he has a plan.


What plan?


A little thing called martial law.

REX (Jumps up)

You’re not supposed to mention that!




No! I didn’t say anything!


That does it!



(Rex grabs Harvey and drags him off stage.)


What’s going on here?!


You didn’t see a thing!


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)


©2017 Robert Kirkendall

Sketch For Community TV Mixer

This is a short video of a sketch I wrote and appeared in for Community Television of Santa Cruz.  The event was a social mixer that was held last Friday March 17.  The sketch is a humorous look at challenges that a CTV producer may face.  I hadn’t planned on appearing in sketch, but I couldn’t find an actor in time.  Looking at this I realize that I could definitely lose a few pounds.

Power Play

(This is the second installment of the Andrew chronicles; a hapless, comical figure trying to get through life. In the first installment, Diridon Station, Andrew runs into an old flame that he has a hard time remembering. In this story, we see Andrew at his workplace.)

Andrew left the break room after lunch feeling sated and slightly caffeinated then a hand grabbed him and pulled him into an empty office. He was face to face with three of his coworkers.

“Can we trust you?” Sterling demanded.

“Uh, what’s going on?” Andrew wondered.

“We ask the questions here!” Damien barked. “First you must swear not to betray us,”

“But what’s going on?” Andrew asked worriedly.

“I don’t think we can trust him,” Gwen said suspiciously.

“Dammit, you must swear!” Damien ordered. “You don’t want to piss off this one,” he warned as he pointed to Gwen.

“Okay, I swear,” Andy promised hoping to reduce the tension.

The three workers eyed Andrew intently. “I think we can trust him,” Sterling finally said.

“What’s happening?” Andrew finally managed to say.

“So how do you like working here?” Damien asked leadingly.

Andrew thought for a moment. “I can’t complain.”

“Hmmm,” Sterling pondered. “Interesting.”

“He doesn’t complain about anything,” Gwen mocked. “When we got a cake for him for his birthday, he took so long getting to the break room that we ended up eating the entire cake before he showed up. Remember?” she said to Andrew.

“Well, total strangers do walk up to me and tell me that I should lose a few pounds,” Andrew placated as he looked around his waist.

“That’s why we call him No Cake Andy,” Gwen continued.

“Oh,” Sterling said with enlightenedness. “I thought it was because of the hazing incident of ‘05.”

“Guys, I think we need to get back on track here,” Damien advised.

“Of course,” Sterling agreed. “Now to the business at hand.” He placed his hands on his hips.

We’ve decided to stage a coup,” he announced as he looked directly at Andrew.

“A coup?” Andrew puzzled. “Where?”

“Here!” Damien added. “Aren’t you sick and tired of slaving for Mr. Weatherby?”

“Well, he’s not that bad,” Andrew replied.

“He is a dangerous, out of control demagogue!” Sterling declared.

“A dictator drunk on his own power!” Damien yelled.

“A multi-headed hydra that must be slain!” Gwen rallied.

“Figuratively of course, right?” Andrew queried.

Gwen appeared amused by Andrew’s question. “Of course.”

“So what brought all this on?” Andrew asked sincerely.

“Increased hours!” Sterling began.

“Stagnant wages!” Damien followed.

“Oppressive and uninspired work environment!” Gwen completed.

“But don’t some of those things have to do with the current world economy and are out of the control of Mr. Weatherby?”

“Don’t those things have to do with world economy?” Gwen mimicked sarcastically. “He’s the one in charge, he’s the one that needs to be taken down!”

“Have you thought this through?” Andrew cautioned.

“Yes,” Sterling answered. “With strength in numbers we’ll confront him and he’ll have no choice but to give in to our demands!”

“Which are what?” Andrew wondered. “That he depart into exile like an overthrown junta?”

“That he let’s us sit in on the board meetings,” Sterling answered.

“Oh, I thought you would’ve had a bigger plan than that.”

“Dammit, you have to start somewhere!” Sterling vociferated.

“So here’s the plan,” Damian began conspiratorially. “We’ll all march in together, shoulder to shoulder!”

“That way Weatherby can’t get around us!” Gwen informed.

“Let me finish,” Damian demanded.

“Who died and made you king?” Gwen shot back.

“Let’s stay on point, guys,” Sterling counseled. “Now here’s the plan. We’ll all walk up together. I’ll start in on him with how we have to work too many hours. When I’m done, Damian,” he said to Damian, “you address how we’re all underpaid. And Gwen, finish him off! By expressing how ugly and uninspired the workplace is.”

“What about me?” Andrew wondered.

Sterling grabbed him by the shoulders. “You’re the point man.”


“Of course,” Gwen answered. “You’re shorter than us.”

“You’ll go in for the first attack,” Sterling continued.

“I can’t do that,” Andrew argued. “I don’t want any involvement in this!” He pulled away from Sterling’s grip.

“You’re already involved,” Damian reminded.

“In deep!” Gwen added.

“But this is all your idea!” Andrew protested. “You dragged me in here against my will then told me all about your plan without me asking to know about it!”

“Ha!” Sterling laughed as he placed his hand on Andrew’s shoulder in a fatherly way. “Well you know all about it now.”

“And if I say no?” Andrew queried.

“Then you’ll be going airborne ,” Damian warned menacingly as he nodded his head toward a window.

“We’re on the ground floor,” Andrew reminded.

“It’ll still hurt!” Damian shot back.

*                     *                     *                      *                     *                     *                     *

They all stood forebodingly in the cramped elevator as it rose up through the building. Everyone looked straight ahead without saying anything. Andrew watched the floor number display count upward as his apprehension grew.

“Everybody remember what they’re going to say?” Sterling pierced the silence.

“I make the demand for increased pay,” Damian said importantly.

“I point out what a junk heap this once proud company has become,” Gwen declared.

“Great! And I’ll address his autocratic ways,” Sterling asserted.

“What am I supposed to say?” Andrew asked.

“You provide the backup,” Sterling answered.

“Why me?”

“We need a regular person,” Damian elucidated.

Andrew was puzzled. “Aren’t we all equal as employees?”

They all chuckled.

“If it’s just us exceptional people,” Sterling said as he pointed to himself, Damian, and Gwen, “Weatherby will never buy it”

“That’s right,” Gwen agreed. “The three of us are known to be above the fray and able to see the big picture, and that scares Weatherby. But if we bring just a plain, regular employee, he’ll know we have a broad base of support.”

“And I’m just a typical worker?” Andrew pondered.

“So typical that you blend in anywhere,” Damian said.

“That is so true,” Gwen added. “Just a typical, nondescript, boring, bland employee, a person who isn’t remarkable in any way.”

“That’s right,” Sterling concurred. “People may say you’re dull as dishwater, but in this instance your dullness is an advantage.”

“Oh,” Andrew said with realization. “Well, glad I can help.”

The elevator dinged when it reached its floor, and the doors slid open.

“Let’s go,” Sterling ordered and they exited the elevator. Sterling, Damian, and Gwen walked purposefully through a corridor toward Weatherby’s outer office as Andrew kept up. Weatherby’s office grew larger and more daunting as they approached. An ominous looking secretary appeared on the right. She sat her desk like a sentry.

“Is Mr. Weatherby expecting you?” the secretary demanded as they came closer. She glared at them unpenetrably.

“No time to explain!” Sterling replied. “It’s too important for you!”

“Nobody gets past me without an appointment!” The secretary picked up a heavy glass ashtray and threw it at them like a Frisbee. Sterling, Damian, and Gwen dodged out of the way of the spinning object and it struck Andrew on the forehead. He staggered back as pain shot through his head.

“We’ve been hit!” Damian shouted.

“Aw, shit!” the secretary shrieked. “Is that No Cake Andy?”

“Damn right!” Sterling said gleefully, “and his uncle is a high powered lawyer!”

“And we are witnesses!” Gwen chimed in.

Andrew held his head in pain but remained upright. “I think I’ll be okay.”

“We can’t take any chances!” Sterling declared. “You better get a first aid kit stat if you want to save this company from a lawsuit, or worse!”

“You’ll be going to the big house for assault and battery!” Gwen warned.

“You’ll be living Orange Is the New Black!” Damian added.

“Fine, I’ll look for the first aid kit.” The secretary ran off.

They waited until the secretary was out of sight. “Let’s go,” Sterling uttered. They walked up to the door leading to Weatherby’s office. Andrew was still shaking off the pain as he stood behind them.

“Wait,” Damian cautioned, “our point man.”

“That’s right,” Sterling agreed. He grabbed Andrew and placed him in front. “How’s your head?”

“Still hurting, but getting better,” Andrew answered.

“Here, have a Vicodin,” Damian offered. “I always carry these.”

“I don’t think I need a…”

“Take it,” Gwen ordered as she took the pill from Damian and stuck it into Andrew’s mouth. Andrew resisted then ended up swallowing the pill.

A second Vicodin appeared in Damian’s hand. “How about another just in case?”

“Better safe than sorry,” Gwen said as she took second pill and stuck into Andrew’s mouth. It slid down his throat and he started to feel numb.

“Now everybody remember what we’re going to say?” Sterling asked.

“Money,” Damian said.

“Work environment,” Gwen said.

“And I address the dictatorial nature of this workplace,” Sterling said.

“What am I doing here?” Andrew asked as he started to feel woozy.

“Backup and moral support,” Damian reminded.

“You’re everyman, remember?” Gwen reminded further.

“But…how do I?” Andrew’s mind started to become foggy.

“No time to answer that,” Sterling said as he pushed the door open. The spacious office was wood paneled and foreboding. The half open vertical Levolor blinds let in just enough light to show Weatherby’s face in half light and half darkness, like a heavy in a film noir. Andrew felt a shove push him forward into the lair.

“What the hell do you want?” Weatherby glowered.

“Uh, well sir.” Andrew looked behind him, and Sterling told him to say something. His impaired mind struggled to remember something to say. “I am here,” he finally began, “because I was enlisted to express grievances that some employees may have.”

“Are you the ringleader?” Weatherby accused.

“No, sir, I’m a…” Andrew struggled, and looked behind him again for an answer.

“I bet you are!” Weatherby reiterated.

“A concerned worker!” Sterling suddenly blurted and stepped in front of Andrew. “You see, Andrew here typifies the average worker who feel, how shall I say, oppressed.”

“Oppressed?” Weatherby said with shock. “This isn’t a banana republic!”

“Of course not, sir,” Sterling relented. “We live in a democratic state.”

“This isn’t a democracy!” Weatherby continued. “The only people who get a vote are the board

of directors! The rest of you are plebes who are damn lucky to have a job!”

“Of course, sir,” Damian agreed as he stepped in front of Andrew and next to Sterling. “It’s just

that lots of people are struggling, and a modest increase in pay would be very helpful. Andrew here

would like to visit his aunt in the old country, but he can’t afford to because he just makes enough to pay for his rent and bare sustenance.” Andrew tried to remember if he had an aunt somewhere in another country. “He still eats Top Ramen, it’s sad.”

“Well there’s nothing I’d like more than to give all you bums a raise,” Weatherby began as he stood up and emerged from behind his large oak desk, “But there are factors that have to do with the world economy, and are totally out of my hands! Did you ever consider that?”

“Yes, sir, that’s a good point,” Gwen agreed.

“Of course it is, I came up with it!” Weatherby proclaimed. “And what’s your beef?”

“Oh, I was just thinking about improving the overall work environment,” Gwen replied. “You know, a new coat of paint, maybe some artwork, things that would inspire the employees.”

“Artwork?” Weatherby blasted. “This isn’t a gallery!”

“No, sir, it isn’t,” Gwen concurred.

“And if you want inspiration think about your next paycheck!” Weatherby took note of Andrew’s intoxicated appearance. “What’s your problem?”

“He had a splitting headache so he took some pain pills,” Sterling jumped in.

“An agitator and a hophead,” Weatherby said accusingly. “I should’ve known!”

“He only does it out of medical necessity, sir,” Damian reassured. “We didn’t know he had taken too many.”

Andrew swayed as he tried to remain upright.

“I’ll make it simple,” Weatherby condescended, “No raises, no interior decorating, and no

democratic reforms. Now you four idiots get back to work before I fire your asses!”

*                     *                     *                    *                     *                     *                    *

Sterling, Damian, and Gwen silently exited the elevator at the ground floor as Andrew staggered along behind them. They stopped at their maze of cubicles and hesitated before entering.

“We tried,” Sterling finally said.

“Maybe we needed a better plan,” Damian suggested.

“We should’ve got more people involved,” Gwen said.

“Well, these things take time,” Andrew struggled to get out from his still narcosis fogged mind. “The fight for workplace equality is a long one, in which people had to overcome a lot of defeats to achieve their victories. And the struggle continues to this day.” Andrew was impressed that he was able to say all that despite his temporary impairment.

“If you don’t mind, Andy, we’d like to discuss this without you,” Sterling requested.

“But don’t you need more people?” Andrew asked feeling suddenly puzzled.

“Yes, but we just can’t trust you anymore,” Sterling answered.

“I have to agree with Sterling,” Damian said.

“Yeah,” Gwen agreed, “it was a mistake to take you in.”

“How come?”

“Because,” Sterling began, “you’re an agitator.”

“And a druggie,” Damian reminded.

©2017 Robert Kirkendall