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Misdirections

Premiered December 1, 2003

Perceptions -- Act II, Scene 2

The scene opens with FRED sitting at the table, with KELLY leaning over and talking to him.  SCOTT is at his desk working over reports, correlating them, etc.  SCOTT occasionally looks up to check on the progress of KELLYís experiment with FRED.  As the lights go up, FRED is already humming ďOld Man RiverĒ (can serve as a light cue), even while KELLY is talking.

KELLY

The object of this experiment, Fred, is to see if you can make the object move on the table by sheer mental powers alone. 

FRED says nothing, but smiles and continues to hum.

KELLY

I realize that this is somewhat different from what weíve done before, but the project is modifying some of its experiments in order to be able to draw some definite conclusions.

FRED shakes his head as if he understands, but continues to hum and say nothing.  KELLY looks up and with just a hint of frustration, says:

KELLY

I think we can probably do without the humming.

FRED

Good idea.  (looking around the room)  Whereís it coming from anyway?

KELLY

It seems to be gone now.

FRED

Whew!  Thatís a relief!  That humming was driving me crazy!  Canít have it interfering with the test.

KELLY

Right.  Now do you understand what we want you to try to do?

FRED

(putting his finger on the object, and starting to move it slightly)

 Sure.  Move this here object.

KELLY

Without touching it.

FRED

(quickly removing his hand) 

Right.

KELLY

With mental powers only.

FRED

Right.

FRED's face takes on an expression of heavy concentration.  He states at the object, as KELLY watches.  FRED's breathing becomes heavier and his face constantly more intent as he continues to stare at the object.  SCOTT, noticing FRED's strenuous efforts, gets up and moves to the table to observe as well.  Then, while FRED is maintaining his intensity, he says:

FRED

I'm ready whenever you are.

KELLY

Weíre ready now, Fred.  Go ahead and start.

FRED

Right.

FREDís expression of concentration becomes even more intense. His hands go to each side of the table, and with his arms straight and tense, FRED begins to stare at the object with extreme intensity.  [In the following attempts, FRED makes it a point not to do anything overt or blatantly obvious to KELLY or SCOTT.  At the same time, FRED fails to conceal anything.]  Slowly he begins to blow at the object, starting with only a slight breath and then increasing it to a maximum.  When that doesnít work, FRED begins to inhale, and tries to suck the object toward him.  After one or two episodes of extremely heavy breathing, FRED begins to lift the table with his arms, in order to get the object to slide.  The lift is intended to be very subtle, but is quite obvious to everyone, including the audience.  KELLY gently pushes down on the table, nullifying FREDís efforts.  FRED appears not to notice.  Then with KELLY and SCOTT obviously aware of it, FRED hooks the legs of the table with his legs and then jerks the table toward him.  The inertia of the object is such that it appears to move on the table.  SCOTT and KELLY can only look at each other with resignation.  With the object moved, FRED reverts back to his normal manner.

FRED

Boy!  Thatís a relief!

KELLY

How so?

FRED

Didnít know for sure if inertia still worked.

SCOTT

You were concerned inertia might not work?

FRED

Yup.  Life just wouldnít be the same without inertia.

SCOTT

Probably not.

FRED

(suddenly rising)

Well, time to go!

KELLY

I think weíre finished here.

FRED

So long.

FRED goes to the door and opens it, just as DICK and ESTHER appear in the doorway, ready to knock.  FRED makes a sweeping gesture with his hand, welcoming the newcomers.

FRED

Come in, come in. Weíve been expecting you.

DICK

Hi, Fred.  Didnít know you were still here.  (to KELLY)  I hope weíre not too early.  Esther was rather anxious.

ESTHER

(smiling seductively)

Iím always raring to go.

FRED shuts the door behind DICK and ESTHER, and stays in the room. 

FRED

Be seeing ya!

FRED then crosses over toward the couch, and then turns back to the others.

FRED

Mind if I stay and watch?

Still bewildered by everything FRED does, KELLY shakes her head.

KELLY

No.

FRED

Good. 

FRED lays down on the couch, and very quickly curls up in order to go to sleep.

ESTHER

(watching FRED)

Should he be here?

KELLY

I donít think he is.

SCOTT

Kelly, why donít you show Esther the experiment.

KELLY

Good idea.  Why donít you sit down, Esther?

ESTHER

Sure!  Anything to help.

KELLY

This experiment is particularly straight forward.

ESTHER

You want me to use my mental powers to move the object, right?

KELLY

Yes.  There can be no...

ESTHER

Physical connection.  I think thatís obvious.

(smiling at SCOTT) 

So, if youíre both ready, Iíll start.

KELLY

(somewhat at a loss for words)

Go ahead.

ESTHER

Watch carefully.

ESTHER bends over and begins to stare at the object.  Her hands go to either side of the table, her arms straighten, and her whole body tenses.  ESTHER pulls out all the stops as she grimaces, sweats, jerks her head back and forth (but always keeping her eyes on the object), and generally goes through every form of contortion known to the golf putter, pool player and/or pin ball player.  Then dramatically, the object begins to move.  [The movement is accomplished with magnets.  ESTHERís upstage hand will have access to a knob, which moves a magnet on a track under the table (well hidden).  As the magnet moves, the metal object will also move.]  After a few inches one way, ESTHER rolls it back.  Slowly a big smile crosses her face, while the others gasp and stare in amazement.  Then relaxing from her ďintense effortĒ, ESTHER straightens and looks around for her applause.

ESTHER

I trust everyone saw that.

KELLY

Amazing.

DICK

The son-of-a-bitch really moved!!

SCOTT:

Thatís really incredible!

ESTHER

And with no trick cameras!

ESTHER allows herself a broad, victorious smile.  Then she wipes her brow.

ESTHER

Still, the effort is exhausting.  So, if you have no further, immediate need for me, I think Iíll go home and rest.

KELLY

Well, I suppose thereís nothing more to do right now.

ESTHER rises and moves to the door, feeling very good about herself. 

ESTHER

Should you need further demonstrations, donít hesitate to call me.   Oh, by the way.  Youíll probably want to include Geraldine Murphy when we get together to plan my future participation in the project.

KELLY

Ms. Murphy?

SCOTT

Future participation?

KELLY

You mean the funding agency representative?  But why?

ESTHER

(at the door, with mock surprise)

Ms. Murphy is the only one authorized to commit funds.  I can hardly continue to work without a long term contract.  Duh.

Still smiling, ESTHER turns and leaves the room through the office door.

DICK

ďLong term contractĒ!?

KELLY

What was that all about!?

SCOTT

She wants to be paid for her efforts.  With a long term contract.

KELLY

But thatís ridiculous!

DICK

To be paid for her efforts!?

KELLY

I mean...  Itís not like sheís a professional.

SCOTT

And just what constitutes an ďESP professionalĒ?

KELLY

I suppose, one who has demonstrated competence in the...

KELLYís voice trails off as she realizes that ESTHER has just demonstrated her qualifications.

KELLY

Oh.

DICK

Why is it that Iím beginning to have doubts about sweet young Esther?

SCOTT

Probably because youíve seen her kind before.

KELLY

You think she tricked us?

SCOTT

Always a possibility.

DICK

I wonder how she did that.

DICK glances under the table.  Suddenly, FRED yawns loudly and swings his feet to the floor.  He stretches and then itches his sides.  His face goes through various contortions as he awakens.  DICK looks at FRED for just a moment.  Then he motions to FRED.

DICK

Our ďobserverĒ.

FRED

Boy, I sure do envy Esther.

FRED rises and starts for the closet door.

FRED

If I had known we could use magnets...

Then he turns back to the others for just a moment.

FRED

I would have done a lot better.

With that, he opens the closet door and ďexitsĒ into the closet, closing the door behind him.

SCOTT and DICK

Magnets!?

Quickly, SCOTT and DICK grab the table and turn it on its side, the top directly facing the audience.  Grabbing at the corners, they remove a fake bottom.  Slowly DICKís head rises from the table to look at the audience, while SCOTT falls back to sit on the floor.  DICK is totally disgusted.

DICK

Magnets!

KELLY

I donít believe it!

SCOTT

(rising)

The magnets I would believe.  Estherís another case.

KELLY

But I canít believe that she would... cheat!

SCOTT

Just how much checking on Esther did you do when she joined the project?

KELLY

It was a complete background check.  I guess.  Professor Karnablowsky was in charge of checking the candidateís prior history.

SCOTT

But you made no checks yourself?  Personally?

KELLY

No.  Why do you ask?

SCOTT

Because Esther has a history of questionable activities.  I called some of my buddies at other institutions with which Esther has been involved.  The general consensus was that she was a con artist.  Nothing documented.  Just their informal, unvarnished opinions.  Nobody could every prove anything against her, but suspicions were quite strong.

KELLY

How long have you known this?

SCOTT

I found out yesterday.

 KELLY

And you didnít bother to tell me?

SCOTT

I didnít bring it up before, because I had nothing concrete.   I know how you hate scientifically unsupported opinions.

KELLY

This is supposed to be a team effort!  Teams share information!  But maybe you thought it would be more fun to make me look like a fool!

SCOTT

I wasnít trying to make you look bad!  Donít be so overly sensitive!

KELLY

Sensitive!?  You do nothing to prevent my being taken in by Esther, and you call me overly sensitive!?  Perhaps you need a few lessons in sensitivity!  Not to mention... cooperation!

SCOTT

Kelly, this is ridiculous!  Youíre really blowing this all out of proportion!

KELLY

Iím what!?

SCOTT

Iím trying to keep you out of trouble!  You seem to need all the help you can get!

KELLY

Oh I do, do I!?  Well donít bother!!

With that, KELLY turns and leaves via the office door, slamming it behind her.

SCOTT

I wonít!!

DICK

You certainly handled that situation well.

SCOTT

What!?

DICK

Do professors takes lessons in diplomacy and tact, or is it a natural talent?

SCOTT

Diplomacy!?  You must be kidding!  Sheís absolutely outrageous!

DICK

On the other hand, the fact that the two of you seem to have so much trouble getting along, does tend to make it inevitable that youíll soon get together.

SCOTT

Kelly and I?  Thatís absurd!

DICK

Thatís the way it always works.

SCOTT

Thatís idiotic!!

SCOTT glances at the door, unsure of himself.  After a brief pause, SCOTT acts.

SCOTT

Still, Iíd better go and get her.  Canít have her mad right now.  Too much to do.

DICK

See what I mean?

SCOTT

Itís not what you think!

DICK:

Of course not.

Realizing that DICK is beyond convincing, SCOTT changes the subject.

SCOTT

If Shari shows up while Iím gone, start her on a test.

DICK

Anything in particular?

SCOTT

I donít care.

DICK

Right.

SCOTT exits the center door.

DICK

And you and Kelly have fun, ya hear?

As the office door shuts, FRED re-enters from the closet, carrying a large dog bone.  The sound of a happy dog barking comes from the closet (as opposed to a ferocious  dog in all other cases).  The barking ceases as FRED closes the closet door.  FRED starts across the room toward DICK and the office door.  As he does so, he holds the bone where DICK can see it.

FRED

Found the bone!

FRED opens the office door, just as SHARI starts to knock.

DICK

(to FRED)

I didnít know it was lost.

FRED salutes SHARI with the bone.  With SHARI starting to smile broadly, FRED passes SHARI in the hall and exits.  SHARI enters and shuts the door.

SHARI

What was lost?

DICK

Fredís bone.

SHARI

I think I missed something.

When DICK does not respond, SHARI playfully approaches him.

SHARI

Ready to test me?

DICK

Sure.  Weíll start...

SHARI

(smiling and sitting at the table)

I donít do telekinesis.

When DICK looks at her, she replies with quiet assurance.

SHARI

Cards would be fine.

DICK

Cards.  Oh.  Okay.  Uh...

SHARI

The middle cabinet.

DICK

Right!

DICK opens the middle cabinet and retrieves the deck of numbered cards. SHARI waits patiently as DICK readjusts the tape recorder wheels and then sits back down with the cards.

DICK

Hereís what weíll do.

SHARI

Seventeen.

DICK

What?

SHARI

Seventeen.  The number of the first card is seventeen.

DICK looks at the first card, notes that it is seventeen, and then flicks the card over his shoulder, as if frustrated by his inability to control the conversation.

DICK

Apparently, you understand the directions.

SHARI

Twelve, seven, twenty eight, and yes, Iíve always known.

DICK takes a quick glance at the cards, as he verifies each of the numbers.

DICK

Twelve, seven, twenty-eight...

Suddenly, DICK looks up.

DICK

How long...? 

Then he realizes his question has already been answered.  DICK gestures to the cards.

DICK

Youíve done this before, right?

SHARI

Boring, isnít it?

DICK

Boring!?  I think itís...

SHARI

Exciting?  Not really.  Being able to anticipate everything can be nice, but mostly itís just boring.  There are no surprises, no suspense.  I always know whatís going to happen before it does.

DICK

How far...

SHARI

Usually I can anticipate what is going to happen by several minutes.  If someone tries to surprise me, I have to be very patient and wait for them to get to the punch line, and then act surprised. Sometimes I forget to wait. And sometimes itís just confusing.  The immediate future and immediate past tend to get all mixed up.

For a moment SHARI looks sad and DICK looks blank.  Then DICK abruptly leans over the table and kisses SHARI  -- a long and hearty kiss.  When their lips part, SHARI is clearly shocked.  Then she begins to smile with delight and surprise.

SHARI

Wow!  I didnít see that coming at all!!

DICK glows at his coup.  Then SHARI attacks him in return and really plants one on.  As they part, DICK staggers back, while SHARI continues to beam.

DICK

I donít think I saw that one coming either.

Abruptly, as SHARI watches, confused and surprised, DICK leaps up and begins to run around the room, seemingly at random.

SHARI

What are you doing?

DICK

Iím confusing you again.

Abruptly, he turns and kisses her again.  When they part DICK begins wandering about the room again, in yet another manner.  SHARI displays absolute delight -- DICKís total lack of normalcy makes him irresistibly exciting to her.

SHARI

Youíre so abnormal, so unexpected, so crazy!  Youíre wonderful!!

SHARI grabs his leg, as he approaches, whereupon DICK yawns heavily, and looks extremely bored.  SHARI shows sudden concern.

SHARI

Whatís wrong!?  Did I say something wrong?

DICK

Where?

SHARI

ďWhereĒ?

Then she realizes that he is still attempting to confuse her.

SHARI

Oh.  Now I see.  And I love it!

DICK

Indians!

No longer confused, SHARI smiles instead, and plays along with DICK.  Quietly, but with strong emotion, she replies:

SHARI

Where?

DICK

Right!

DICK drops to one knee to give SHARI a long, lingering kiss.

SHARI

I know whatís going to happen next.  And I promise not to be bored. 

They both stand, excited by the anticipation.  As they head toward the couch, SHARI close behind DICK, DICK tries to maintain his abnormal appearance.

DICK

Energy equals mass times the velocity of light squared.

She turns DICK and pulls him to her by grabbing his lapels.

SHARI

God, but I love crazy!

She kiss his ferociously again.  Then suddenly, with her hands still on his lapels, she abruptly pulls back from the kiss, pushes DICK back and turns to the audience.  Her surprised expression turns to dismay and she bemoans her fate.

SHARI

Darn!!

Throwing up her hands, she turns and walks back to the table, clearly frustrated.  DICK is absolutely mystified.

DICK

Whatís wrong?

There is a KNOCK at the door, which DICK quickly notes and then realizes the reason for SHARIís abrupt change in mood.

DICK

Ohhh.

SPY enters through the office door, dressed as a pizza delivery man and carrying a large pizza.

SPY

Pizza!

DICK

Pizza!?

(to SHARI)

Did you order a pizza?

SHARI

Who cares!?  All I know is Iím hungry!!

DICK

Yeah. I know what you mean.

SHARI sits at the table and accepts the pizza from SPY.  Just before she opens the box, she says:

SHARI

And I really love pepperoni!!

As SHARI undoes the tape holding the pizza box closed, SPY whips out his camera to take her picture.  DICK notices the movement, but does nothing immediately, not fully realizing what is happening.  Then as SPY clicks his artfully concealed camera, SHARI opens the pizza box, just in time to block SPYís picture of SHARI.  SPY almost throws up his hands at being denied SHARIís picture, and also drops his camera at the same time.  But then, SPY catches the camera and undaunted, decides to try again.  Moving closer and around the table, SPY tries to get into a better position.  But by now DICK has caught on and interferes by whipping out his wallet and moving between SHARI and SPY.  Meanwhile SHARI begins to eat.

DICK

Here!  Let me pay for this.

(looking directly at SPY)

How much?

SPY

What?

SPY realizes that he has no idea of how much to charge for the pizza.  Looking forlornly at DICK, SPY makes a quick guess.

SPY

Five dollars?

Recognizing that the price is a bargain, DICK smiles and hands a five dollar bill to SPY.

DICK

Fine.

SPYís eyes light up as he receives the unexpected bonus.

SPY

Thanks.

ANN enters through the office door, with a perfunctory knock. 

ANN

Hi!  Whereís Professor Conner?

SPYís back is turned toward ANN.  At ANNís entrance, SPY automatically stiffens as he recognizes the voice.  Acting quickly, SPY makes his way to the office door and escapes, keeping his back to ANN.  ANN only obliquely notices the abrupt departure of the ďpizza manĒ.  Instead she is more interested in the pizza.

ANN

Pizza!!  Oh wow!  How I love pizza!

ANN grabs a piece, notes that itís pepperoni and frowns slightly.

ANN

Not too crazy about pepperoni though.

Immediately, she stuffs it into her mouth and takes a big bit, apparently undisturbed that itís pepperoni.  Watching SPYís hasty departure, DICK motions to the pizza and invites ANN to partake.

DICK

Feel free to have a piece.

ANN

Thanks.  Man!  Am I hungry!

SHARI

I know what you mean!

Suddenly, between bites, ANN sniffs the air.  She smiles slightly and looks at DICK suspiciously.

ANN

Are you wearing aftershave?

DICK

No.  Why do you ask?

ANN

Because I can smell it.

DICK

Maybe it was the pizza man.

ANN glances at DICK for just a moment, considering the idea.  Then as the idea that the pizza man is SPY hits her with full force, she growls like Cookie Monster:

ANN

Pizza man!!!??

DICK is unaware of ANNís revelation.

DICK

Why did you want to see Professor Conner?

ANN

(halfway out the door)

Later!

ANN rushes off, shutting the door behind her.  From off stage, she yells:

ANN

Pizza man!  Wait!

SHARI

This pizza is great!

DICK's mind is apparently somewhere else.

DICK

Yeah.

Then he turns to look intently at SHARI.

DICK

Shari?

SHARI

Hmmmm?

DICK

Why did you tell me about your talent?

SHARI

Why not?

DICK

Didnít it occur to you that I might, somehow take advantage of the information?

SHARI

Not you.  Maybe others, But not you.

DICK

How can you be so sure?

SHARI looks at him with a knowing grin.  DICK suddenly remembers her talent.

DICK

Oh, yeah.  Still, I donít like the idea of your telling people about it.

SHARI

Oh?

DICK

No.  Someone might want to... use you.

SHARI

Are you concerned for me?

Looking at her lovingly, he answers with something of a grimace.

DICK

Of course, I am.  But you already know that.

SHARI

I know, but I wanted to make sure you knew.

As DICK leans over for a kiss, SHARI puts her finger to his lips.

SHARI

Iíd like to do a lot better than a kiss, but...

DICK

But what?

SHARI

Someoneís coming.

DICK

Oh.

Then DICK gives SHARI a quick kiss on the lips.  The door opens and SCOTT and KELLY enter.  Both are somewhat quiet, as if just having completed a truce.  DICKís attitude immediately becomes very business-like.

DICK

I think that will be all for now, Ms. Cetera.

(turning to the new arrivals.)

We were just finishing up.

KELLY

Good.  Richard should be here in a minute.

SCOTT

(seeing the pizza box)

What were you just finishing?

SHARI

Iíll be going now.

DICK

See you later.

SHARI

(to DICK)

Later.

As SHARI moves to the door, she stops and addresses KELLY, with noticeable understanding in her voice.

SHARI

I hope youíre feeling better.

KELLY

Why thank you.  I think.

SHARI exits with one last, loving glance at DICK.  SCOTT notices the gestures between SHARI and DICK, but says nothing, only giving DICK a questioning look.  KELLY simply looks mystified over SHARIís last statement.  As the door shuts, DICK turns to the others.

DICK

Iím afraid that Ms. Cetera was a bit of a wash out.

SCOTT

Oh, really!?

KELLY

Why do you say that?

DICK

Nothing on the telekinesis, so I ran her through the cards.  There was no statistical correlation at all.  She either has no talents, or she is very clever at disguising it.  Frankly, I donít think she is the one weíre looking for.

KELLY

Iím really rather surprised.  I thought that Shari might hold more promise.

SCOTT

So did I.

KELLY

Of course, weíll want to give her some additional tests.  Just to be sure.

DICK

More tests?

SCOTT

Absolutely.  Wouldnít want to leave any stone unturned.

DICK

(showing no enthusiasm)

Right.

KELLY

Of course, if Shari is not the one; and if we eliminate Esther for cheating and Fred for... whatever it was that Fred did...

SCOTT

Then weíre down to Richard.

KELLY

You think Richard might be who weíre looking for?

SCOTT glances at DICK.

SCOTT

Who knows?

DICKís face lights up as an idea occurs to him.

DICK

Richard!  Yes.  Quite possibly, Richard could be the one.

SCOTT

Possibly.

RICHARD knocks at the door.

SCOTT

Come in.

RICHARD

(entering)

I trust that Iím right on time.

SCOTT

Precisely, Iíd say.

DICK welcomes RICHARD with great gusto.

DICK

Richard!!  Good to see you!  Just the man weíre looking for!

RICHARD

(a little surprised at DICKís warm reception)

Well, thanks.  I certainly do appreciate...

DICK

Sit down, sit down. 

As RICHARD moves to the table, DICK goes around and sits at the downstage end of the table, with his back slightly to the audience.  In this position, DICK can hide the cards from the others on the stage, while the audience can easily see the cards.

DICK

Youíre familiar with the cards, arenít you?

RICHARD

Well yes, I am.  But perhaps I should warn you that Iíve never been particularly good at them.

DICK

Nonsense.  Just takes a little concentration.

DICK picks up the cards and shuffles them.

DICK

Just relax and weíll get started.

KELLY

(aside to SCOTT)

Iíve never seen Dick so enthusiastic about giving a test.

SCOTT

(aside to KELLY)

I think I know why.

KELLY

(aside to SCOTT)

Why?

SCOTT

(aside to KELLY, lifting his finger to hold off her question.)

In a minute.

Both SCOTT and KELLY turn to observe the test.  DICK sets the shuffled deck down, and picks up the first card, such that the audience can see the card.

DICK

Okay, Letís try the first one.

 RICHARD

(totally unsure of himself)

Six?

[Throughout the following sequence, RICHARDís guesses will invariably not be correct.  DICK, on the other hand, will be trying to convince the others that RICHARD is really hitting.  RICHARD, in turn, will be continuously amazed by his good fortune.]

DICK glances at the first card, and sees that RICHARDís answer is not even close.  DICK tries to salvage it.

DICK

Close.  It was a nine.

DICK sets the card down, being careful not to show it to anyone -- other than the audience -- and holds up a second card.

RICHARD

Gee, I really donít know.

DICK

Donít worry about it.  Just give us the first number than comes into your head.

RICHARD

Twelve.

DICK

Wow!  Thatís very good.  Yes, very interesting!

DICK carefully places the card face down, so the others canít see it.  RICHARD is, meanwhile, becoming increasingly confident with each card.

RICHARD

Twenty.

DICK

Thatís really incredible!!

RICHARD

Seventy three.

DICK

Whoops.  Seventy-eight.  Looks almost alike though.

RICHARD

Thirty two?

DICK

Wow!  Another hit!  This is really something!

The next card is arranged so that RICHARD guesses the next one correctly.

RICHARD

Thirteen.

Seeing that the number is thirteen, DICK almost drops his jaw.  He is clearly and genuinely amazed.

DICK

Holy Cow!!

Dick quickly recovers and pulls another card almost expecting a miracle.

RICHARD

Fifty four.

 DICK

Whew!

Then DICK remembers that he is fudging the results.

DICK

Uh... Close.

RICHARD

Forty two.

DICK

Amazing!!

SCOTT

This is really incredible!!

KELLY

It really is.

DICK

Iím really very impressed.

As SCOTT moves to come around to DICKís end of the table, DICK quickly gathers the cards in order to prevent anyone checking his results.

DICK

But we donít want to push it.  Richard is probably very tired by now.

RICHARD

Oh Iím fine.

DICK

Donít be silly.  This sort of thing takes a lot more out of you than you might think.  We certainly donít want to push it.  We donít want to risk anything!

RICHARD

Risk!?

DICK

We wouldnít want to take the slightest chance on maybe causing a problem later on.

RICHARD

Oh no!  I donít want to take any chances!

SCOTT

I think I can understand Dickís concern.

 KELLY

You can?

SCOTT

Yes.  I think that weíve put Richard through enough already.

RICHARD rises and starts for the door.

RICHARD

In that case I guess Iíll leave now.

(at the door)

Gee, Iím really feeling pretty good right now.

SCOTT

You take it easy and get some rest.  Weíll be in touch.

RICHARD

Great.  See you later.

RICHARD exits.  SCOTT continues to look at the closed door, and asks with a slight amount of malice in his voice:

SCOTT

Tell me, Dick:  How many did Richard get right?

DICK

Well, letís see.

SCOTT

How many did he really get right, Dick?

DICK

Uhhh...   I'd say about... one.

SCOTT

One!?

DICK

Probably a lucky guess.

KELLY

Whatís going on here?

SCOTT

Dick has been faking the results.

KELLY

But why?

SCOTT

Maybe heís protecting someone.

KELLY

Shari?

DICK glances at the other two, sheepishly.  Then he tries to dismiss the obvious.

DICK

 Well...  Just because itís not Richard, it doesnít have to be Shari.  It could be... Fred.

SCOTT

Fred?

DICK

Well hell, I donít know!

KELLY

Fred!?

DICK

All I know is that itís not Shari!  Maybe she can... anticipate things...

SCOTT

Oh?

DICK

But she sure as hell didnít spin that windmill!  She doesn't do telekinesis!  She told me so, and I believe her!

SCOTT

I think I believe both of you.

KELLY

But if itís not Shari, and not one of the other three...

SCOTT

Then we donít know who it is.  And weíve run out of possibilities.

KELLY

Could one of them be hiding their talents?

SCOTT

Itís a possibility.  But then why would they cause the windmill to rotate in the first place?  That hardly contributes to concealing their identity.  And someone made that windmill rotate!!

KELLY

Perhaps they donít know they have the talent.

SCOTT

Thatís a possibility.  However... Iíve finished correlating the results.

KELLY

And?

SCOTT

Looks pretty clear.

SCOTT turns to the file cabinet and pulls out five files and extends them to KELLY.

SCOTT

Take a look.

KELLY begins to read through the top file.

DICK

But you still donít know who it is!

SCOTT

Actually, thatís not quite true.  If you look on the files, each one has a file name.

KELLY

What do you mean?  I havenít given you the code which tells you which file is whose.

SCOTT

You didnít have to.

KELLY

What!!?

SCOTT

I broke the code.

KELLY

You did what!!?

SCOTT

I broke your code.  Iím into computers.  Any computer can break a code if you give it enough time.  And with all due respect, Kelly, your code was not that tough.  Besides, I had a lot of other clues from the raw data.

KELLY

You broke my code?

SCOTT

Yes.  Iím sorry.

DICK

And so now you know who the talent is?

SCOTT

Yes.

DICK

Shari?

SCOTT

Of course!

DICK

Damn!

KELLY

You broke my code!  Why you bastard!  You donít even have a clearance!

DICK

Kelly!  Who gives a ratís ass about your code?  Iím worried about Shari!

SCOTT

(to DICK)

I can understand that.  You knew Shari was the one all along.

DICK

Yeah.

KELLY

But the results of her test!

DICK

She got everything right, before I even had the chance to turn the cards over.

KELLY

Then Shari has precognition?

DICK

Boy, does she ever!!

KELLY

Thatís very interesting.  But it doesnít mean she necessarily has telekinesis powers.  And what we saw with the windmill was not precognition.

SCOTT

On the other hand, Shari is apparently the only test subject who has any ESP talents.

KELLY

Which makes her the best possibility for telekinesis.  Weíll just have to do more tests.

SCOTT takes the files from KELLY and carefully puts them back into the file safe.  He also closes the safe and spins the combination, locking the safe securely.

DICK

Why bother?  Wonít you just end up pointing the finger at Shari?

SCOTT

Dick, we didnít say we had to tell anyone about Shari.  Her file makes it pretty clear sheís the one test subject with any talent.  But no one else knows about it.  And we donít have to tell anyone.

KELLY

Not tell anyone?

SCOTT

Not at least until weíre sure thatís what we want to do.

KELLY

What are you talking about!?  We have these incredible results and you donít want to tell anyone?

SCOTT

Maybe not.

KELLY

But why?

SCOTT

Because we could be putting Shari into incredible danger.  Didnít you hear what Geraldine said?

KELLY

I forgot about that.

SCOTT

Do you really want to tell the world about Shari?

KELLY

Thereís just one problem.

SCOTT

What?

KELLY

(taking a deep breath)

Iíve already given the results to Geraldine.

SCOTT

What!!!!???

DICK

Oh, my God!!

KELLY

She was pressuring me.  I had to give her something, if only to buy some time.  Otherwise, sheíd have taken it all!

SCOTT

You gave her everything?

KELLY

Oh, no!  Not everything!

SCOTT

Just what did you give her?

KELLY

I gave her the results.  But not the code.

SCOTT

They can break the code.

KELLY

But I didnít give her the basis that I gave you, which allows them to correlate the results.  It may be obvious to them that at least one subject has ESP talent, but thereís no way they could figure out just which person it is.

SCOTT

But theyíll know itís at least one of them.  And if they canít figure out which one, they may just take all five.

DICK

(aside)

Unless they think theyíve got the right one.

KELLY

Maybe we can get the report back.

SCOTT

What do you mean?

KELLY

I gave it to Geraldine less than an hour ago.  She may not have read it, and better yet, she probably still has it.  If we can get it back, we may be able to eliminate the evidence.

SCOTT

I see what you mean.  We have to get to Geraldine.

DICK

(aside to himself, smiling)

Or switch the files.

SCOTT

What did you say, Dick?

DICK

Oh nothing.  Nothing at all.

SHELA and GERALDINE arrive, knock at the door and enter without waiting for a  ďCome in.Ē  GERALDINE is carrying a package.

GERALDINE

Oh, Ms. Gregg.  Iíve glanced over the results that you gave me, and I think we have some substantial possibilities!

SCOTT

Only glanced?

GERALDINE

Why yes.  I didnít have time to study them.  I shanít do that until Iím back in Washington.

SCOTT smiles, even as SHELA admonishes SCOTT.

SHELA

You can hardly expect someone as important as Ms. Murphy to take time out from her very busy schedule to go through the entire results.

GERALDINE

Things have been rather busy as of late.

SHELA

(to GERALDINE)

I can have an executive summary prepared for you.

GERALDINE

Good idea.

SCOTT

Iíll be happy to write it.  If I could just have the results that Ms. Gregg gave you...

GERALDINE

Iím afraid youíll have to use your own copy.

She holds up the package sheís carrying -- which is ready for mailing.

GERALDINE

I want to get my copy of the results into the hands of the postal service as soon as possible.  We have several analysts back in Washington, who are just itching to delve into this lovely data.

DICK, KELLY, and SCOTT all react noticeably to GERALDINEís package, which they now know contain all of the results.

DICK

Iíll be happy to mail it for you.

GERALDINE

I think Iíll want to give this to the postal system myself.

(to SCOTT)

Ms. Gregg also told me that youíre correlating the results and now have separate files on each subject.

SCOTT

(glancing at KELLY, who winces)

Ms. Gregg seems to have kept you well abreast of everything.

SHELA

We can all be very proud of the job that Ms. Gregg has done.

SCOTT

Oh yes!  Of course, I havenít been able to... 

GERALDINE

Ms. Gregg told me that you have just finished correlating the results.

SCOTT

Well, yes.  I have.

GERALDINE

And youíve prepared a file on each subject?

SCOTT

Yes.

GERALDINE

Iíd like to see them.

SCOTT

Uhhh.... the test subjects?

GERALDINE

The files.

SCOTT

Oh.

SCOTT makes no move to comply with GERALDINEís order.

SHELA

Ms. Murphy would like to see the files, Scott.  Now.

SCOTT

Gee, I wish I could show them to you.

GERALDINE

And why canít you show them to me?

SHELA

Yes.  Why canít you?

SCOTT

Theyíre in the safe.

SHELA

So?  Open the safe!

SCOTT

Uhhh...  I canít.

SHELA

Why not?

DICK

Time lock!

GERALDINE

What?

DICK

The safe has a time lock on it.  We canít open it until tomorrow.

GERALDINE

A time lock?

SHELA

Youíre kidding!!?

KELLY

It was Professor Karnablowskyís idea.  Weíre using his safe.  He didn't want the safe opened unless all of the principles were present.

GERALDINE

Oh.

SHELA looks at the safe, her mind thinking about opening it.

SHELA

Thatís strange.

GERALDINE also looks at the safe, as if casing it.

GERALDINE

Yes.  Very strange.

After a perfunctory KNOCK at the door, SPY enters, dressed as a postman.

SPY

Mail call!

SPY hands SCOTT a newspaper.

SCOTT

I donít take a paper.

SPY

Free sample.

Turning, SPY takes the package from GERALDINEís hand.

SPY

This ready to go?

GERALDINE

Oh, Iím afraid thereís no postage on it.

SPY

Visa?  Mastercard?  American Express?

GERALDINE

Good idea.

GERALDINE pulls out a charge card and hands it to SPY, who pulls a card machine from a strap attached to his waistband.

SPY

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow...

SPY moves to the door, just as DICK moves to intercept him.  KELLY and SCOTT also move to ďstop the mailĒ.  SPY sees them coming and hits the light switch.  The stage is completely darkened.  There is the sound of pandemonium!  SPY exits during the commotion, while GERALDINE screams.  Lights come back up with SCOTT at the light switch and DICK holding GERALDINE as if he had caught SPY.  The office door is open.  GERALDINE looks horrified at DICK.

DICK

Sorry.

GERALDINE

Perfectly okay. 

AT the same time, SCOTT looks out the door, but apparently sees nothing.  DICK and KELLY look around, not knowing what to do.  SCOTT leaves the door open, shrugs his shoulders, as SHELA stares at DICK. 

GERALDINE

(to SHELA)

Do you have a lot of power failures here?

SHELA

Why no.  Not really.

BLACKOUT.  (GERALDINE exits immediately for next Interscene.)

SHELA

I should say, not on a regular basis.

SHELA exits.  After a pause in the still dark stage, DICK says:

DICK

Perhaps I should call someone.  Whereís the telephone?

SCOTT

Who you gonna call?

DICK

Ghostbusters?

END OF ACT II, SCENE 2

 

Act II, Scene 1 -- Real Talent

Or forward to:

Act II, Scenes 3 and 4 -- Extrasensory Resolutions

               

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