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Psychics Anonymous

Premiered December 1, 2003

Perceptions -- Act I, Scene 2

As the lights come up, SCOTT is working on his personal history form (probably on about the third or fourth page of the monster document).  Several large wastebaskets are now located near the storeroom door and all are filled to overflowing with various forms of technical-looking apparatus in obvious states of disrepair and/or destruction.  There is yet one more CRASH sound from the storeroom.  Then the storeroom door opens and DICK comes out with one more piece of equipment, obviously recently broken.  DICK has a dismally sad look on his face and apologizes to SCOTT.

DICK

Was this valuable?

SCOTT looks up from his work, a look of utter pain on his face.

SCOTT

Yes.

DICK

Sorry. 

DICK looks around for a place to toss it.  As the wastebaskets are full, he carefully balances it on top of an already full basket.

SCOTT

Tell me, Dick, have you ever been in the Army?

DICK

No, why?

SCOTT

No reason.  I just thought I recognized an example of Army training.

DICK

Nope.  Never been in the military.

Brightening, he turns back to the storeroom.

DICK

Almost finished!

DICK exits to the storeroom.

SCOTT

Thank goodness!

KELLY enters through the office door, dressed in a light coat.  She is very business like and doesnít dawdle.

KELLY

Good morning!

SCOTT

Whatís good about it?

KELLY is walking to the closet, when she stops and turns to SCOTT, questioning his statement.  As she answers, she takes off her coat. 

KELLY

The sun is shining.  The weather is brisk, but pleasant.  The project is progressing.

SCOTT

And this, a national day of mourning.

KELLY starts again to the closet, but is turned again by SCOTTís statement.

KELLY

National day of mourning?

SCOTT

Yeah.

SCOTT gestures toward the ďjunk pileĒ of wastebaskets by the storeroom door.  KELLY looks to where SCOTT has gestured, and smiles.

KELLY

Oh, good.  Mr. Watson must have the storeroom almost cleaned out.

KELLY turns and goes to the closet door.  While SCOTT merely makes several disgruntled sounds, KELLY opens the closet door to hang up her coat.  Standing ramrod straight in the closet, complete with trench coat and hat, is SPY.  SPY is slightly emaciated looking, with dark complexion and beady little eyes.  He would like to look like Humphrey Bogart, but fails utterly.  SPY is in severe need of career counseling.

When KELLY opens the door, SPY shows no sign of life at all, holding a hand out to take the coat even before the door is opened.  KELLY hardly recognizes that he is there, and hands her coat to SPY, who takes it with his outstretched hand.  KELLY then closes the closet door, still smiling.  She starts back toward SCOTT, but after one or two steps, stops suddenly -- obviously puzzled.  Then as  stunned expression sweeps over her face, KELLY turns back to the closet door.  Abruptly, she steps to the door and swings it open.  Inside, SPY has disappeared and KELLYís coat is lying on the floor.  KELLY looks inside the closet, which is now empty except for SCOTTís sweater hanging on a hanger, and several other hangers swinging slightly -- as if very recently disturbed.  Briefly, KELLY turns to the audience, her expression of amazement and wonder.  Quietly she turns, picks up her coat and hangs it on one of the swinging hangers.  Closing the closet door, KELLY turns and starts back toward SCOTT, her expression still one of astonishment.  Then, with the idea flashing across her face, she stops and moving very rapidly, suddenly jerks open the closet door.  Nothing is amiss.  Disappointed, she closes the closet door again and turns back into the room.  Mentally, she dismisses what she thought she must have seen.

During KELLYís preoccupation with the closet, SCOTT has sat quietly, waiting for a more appropriate response from KELLY for his last statement.  But when KELLY opens the closet door for the second time, SCOTT becomes mildly interested.  When she opens it for a third time, he is openly surprised and intrigued.  As she shuts the door for the last time, SCOTT is positively fascinated.

SCOTT

Is there something about my closet that intrigues you?

KELLY looks at SCOTT to see if heís laughing at her. 

KELLY

No.  (regaining some composure)  Not at all.

DICK enters from the storeroom with one or two small items, which he places precariously on top of the other ďjunkĒ.

DICK

Finished!

KELLY

Oh, good.  And just in time.  Iíve arranged for our five subjects to drop by for interviews.  (glancing at her watch)  The first one should be here shortly.

SCOTT

Oh?

KELLY notices SCOTTís raised eyebrows.

KELLY

I was sure that you would want to meet them and be briefed on their qualifications.

SCOTTís expression does not change, but continues to challenge KELLYís assumption.  KELLY ignores the lack of encouragement.

KELLY

The first subject is Esther Banks.

DICK laughs at the mention of ESTHERís name.  KELLY ignores DICKís vote.

KELLY

Ms. Banks has a very impressive list of credentials prior to joining our project.  She has demonstrated to other investigators a clear potential for telekinesis.

SCOTT

I thought you were trying to avoid making any preconceived conclusions.

KELLY

Oh we are!  But we can hardly let just anyone into the project.  Otherwise we would waste an incredible amount of time. 

Noting SCOTTís look of disbelief, she adds: 

KELLY

But once in the project, each subjectís prior record does not count for a thing.  Thatís why we use the techniques that we use... so that their prior records can not influence the results. 

KELLY is interrupted by a KNOCK at the office door.  She immediately responds, as if relieved at the change of topics.

KELLY

Come in!

ESTHER enters through the office door.  ESTHER is an attractive woman of thirty.  She is very self confident and easily uses her sex as a means of getting anything she wants.  She dresses very nicely, uses makeup well, and is apparently used to living well.  Her smile is particularly sexy.

KELLY

Ms. Banks!  Youíre right on time.

ESTHER

I knew that youíd want me to be.

For just a moment, she glances at DICK.  But DICK having already worked with her, raises his eyebrows and looks away.

KELLY

Let me introduce you to our new project leader, Professor Conner.

SCOTT gets up and shakes hands with ESTHER.  ESTHER takes her time in releasing his hand.  Her voice carries sexual overtones.

ESTHER

Professor Scott Conner, I believe.

DICK

Oh brother!

SCOTT is impressed, but a bit skeptical of her intentions.

SCOTT

Right!

KELLY

You, of course, already know Mr. Watson.

ESTHER is still watching SCOTT intently, she answers huskily, never bothering to look at or acknowledge DICK, but eager to turn on the charm for SCOTT.

ESTHER

I canít tell you how excited I am about your research project.

DICK

Really?

SCOTT

How nice.

ESTHER

Itís just that the possibilities are endless!  A chance to demonstrate the existence of totally unique... (with an extra huskiness in her voice) sensory powers.  Powers that can enhance life is so many, lovely ways.

She moves even closer to SCOTT.

SCOTT

Yes.

SCOTT steps back at ESTHERís intensity, unsure of himself.  At his hesitation, ESTHER eases off slightly, and turns away.

ESTHER

Iím sure that you have many questions and considerable skepticism.

DICK

I have a question.

ESTHER frowns slightly, intent upon ignoring DICK.

ESTHER

But I can assure you that the only unknown in my book is whether or not others can be taught these marvelous abilities.  And thatís why Iím here: To find out precisely those answers.

DICK

And how are you doing so far?

Clearly ill at ease by ESTHERís intensity and DICKís not-so-subtle taunting, SCOTT tries to put some space between ESTHER and himself. 

SCOTT

Why donít you have a seat, Ms. Banks?

ESTHER

Thanks, but I think Iíll stand, if you donít mind.  And please...call me Esther.

Still trying to grasp what is going on between ESTHER and DICK, SCOTT turns to KELLY.

SCOTT

Are all of the test subjects as enthusiastic and confident as Esther?

KELLY

Well, perhaps not quite as...

ESTHER

Talented?

KELLY

Iím sure thereís some potential for...

ESTHER laughs slightly, interrupting KELLY.

ESTHER

Iím afraid that the others have very little potential for anything.

KELLY is clearly upset by the charge and glances at SCOTT for his reaction.

KELLY

Oh, I disagree.  Shari Cetera, for example...

ESTHER

Shari!?  You must be joking!

KELLY

Shari has shown some real potential to...

ESTHER

To deceive?  Iím afraid, Ms. Gregg, that Shari Cetera is a devious and unscrupulous woman.

KELLY

Shari!?  Devious!?

ESTHER

Cleverly concealed, of course.

Turning, ESTHER begins to move around the room. 

ESTHER

A very impressive laboratory you have here, Professor Conner.

SCOTT

Thanks.

SCOTT looks up at KELLY, who is now sitting on the desk with a questionable look on her face.

ESTHER

Very impressive.

ESTHER approaches the Van de Graff Generator.

ESTHER

And whatís this?

Quickly, SCOTTís face takes on the look of someone up to mischief.  With little import, he replies. 

SCOTT

Itís a Van de Graff Generator.

DICK

Here, let me turn it on for you.

DICK turns on the Van De Graff Generator.

ESTHER

How charming.

Suddenly, before KELLY can  interfere, ESTHER puts her hand on the steel ball.  She has no hint of what is to come.  When she is shocked, she jerks back her hand, an utterly horrified expression on her face.  Her voice suddenly reverts from the sexy broad to that of a foul-mouthed trucker.

ESTHER

What the hell!!?

KELLY can only look embarrassed, while DICK almost bursts out laughing. SCOTT is surprised at ESTHERís outburst, but sees the hint of amusement.  For the moment, SCOTT decides to join DICK in the fun.

ESTHER

Jesus!!  The sonofabitch shocked me!!

Then seeing DICKís amusement, ESTHER begins to suspect that sheís been made the butt of a joke.

ESTHER

What the hell, Watson!?  This some kind of sick joke!?

SCOTT and DICK both try to avoid laughing out loud.

DICK

Why no, of course not!  Itís a test of precognition.  If you had such talents, your extra-sensory powers would undoubtedly have warned your to avoid it. 

KELLY looks with horror at both DICK and SCOTT, suddenly very upset at DICK's frivolity and SCOTT's lack of dismay.  ESTHER, meanwhile, is absolutely horrified at being challenged and made a fool of.

ESTHER

Of all the incredible bullshit Iíve ever heard!!  This is no test!!  This has nothing to do with extrasensory powers!!

As she speaks, ESTHER glances around the room and notes that neither DICK nor SCOTT are buying her denials for a minute.  At the same time KELLY is too stunned to speak.  With her back to the wall and KELLY apparently incapable of helping her, ESTHER reacts.

ESTHER

Well, I have no intention of standing here and being insulted!!

When no one makes any effort to stop her, ESTHER stalks to the door.

ESTHER

I should have known better than to expect anything from this group!!

Finally, KELLY recovers her wits, and moves to stop ESTHER, but ESTHER will have nothing of it.  ESTHER opens the office door, and gives her parting shot.

ESTHER

Amateurs!!

ESTHER exits through the office door, slamming it behind her.  KELLY goes to the door after her.

KELLY

Ms. Banks!!  Wait!

SCOTT

Oh, let her go!

KELLY opens the door, gives SCOTT a look of extreme exasperation, then exits through the office door, shouting after ESTHER.

KELLY

Ms. Banks!!

DICK laughs as SCOTT grimaces at KELLYís withering stare. Then as the door slams shut, DICK adds:

DICK

Ooooops.

SCOTT

You think maybe we upset someone?

DICK

I wouldnít worry about Esther; sheís easily upset.  But Kellyís another story.  She just may have your head for lunch.

SCOTT

I doubt that.

DICK

I canít tell you how much I going to enjoy the two of you slashing each other to ribbons.

SCOTT is apparently not interested in DICKís analysis of SCOTT and KELLYís relationship.

SCOTT

How could Kelly be taken in by that phony?

DICK

Iíve seen Estherís prior record.  It's impressive.

SCOTT

Do you buy Estherís ability?

DICK

Not at ESP.

SCOTT realizes that he and DICK are in basic agreement.

SCOTT

And arenít most ESP experiments capable of being falsified?

DICK

Absolutely.  Thatís why Kellyís tests are designed the way they are... to reduce the possibility of someone fabricating or falsifying the results.

SCOTT

So Estherís prior records could be garbage?

DICK

Thereís always that possibility.

SCOTT

But wait a minute.  You said: ďKellyís testsĒ.  I thought Karnablowsky did the test design.

DICK

Are you kidding?  Karny knew virtually nothing.  Heís a physicist, for heavens sake!

(suddenly realizing that SCOTT is also a physicist)

I mean, like heís not a psychologist, or even a para-psychologist.  He was just willing to lend his name, while Kelly ran the project.

SCOTT

So why didnít Kelly run her own project?

DICK

No Ph.D.  No university credentials.  No union card.  She had to use Karnyís credentials and her brains.

SCOTT

Of course.  The professorís name on the funding... the student to do all the work.  That time-honored tradition of university research.

KELLY enters through the office door without knocking, slams the door behind her, and glares at the two men.  After a pause, while everything gets very quiet, she begins.

KELLY

I hope that the two of you are quite happy with yourselves. 

DICK and SCOTT exchange sheepish grins.

KELLY

And I trust that we can eliminate these childish displays and restrict ourselves to business in the future!

DICK and SCOTT appear to agree to the ultimatum.

KELLY

We very nearly lost Ms. Banks!

SCOTT

Nearly?

KELLY

Yes.  Fortunately, I was able to convince her not to drop out of the project?

SCOTT

But why did you bother?

KELLY suddenly realizes that sheís being challenged.

KELLY

Because, we cannot afford to lose potentially valuable subjects.

SCOTT

Get serious!  Esther has no talents!

DICK chokes, causing SCOTT to glance his way.

SCOTT

Well, other than the obvious.

Then SCOTT reverts back to his strong stand.

SCOTT

Sheís obviously nothing more than a con artist, specializing in ESP con jobs.

KELLY

Thatís certainly a scientific observation!  Based on zero facts!!

SCOTT

On the contrary, itís based on experience. Something you evidently lack!

KELLY

Iím plenty experienced!

SCOTT

At what!!?

Both SCOTT and KELLY are standing up, staring angrily at each other, when DICK realizes that itís time to stop the argument, before the whole project blows up.  DICK moves quickly between the two.

DICK

I have an idea.  Letís take a vote.

KELLY turns to DICK, angry at the interruption.

KELLY

What!?

DICK

Letís vote on whether to keep Esther on the project.

SCOTT

Sheís a con artist!!

DICK

Thatís one against.

KELLY

What would you know about it!?  You havenít even seen her record!  Itís exceptional!

DICK

Thatís one for.  And I vote for.

As KELLY and SCOTT both turn to DICK with amazement, DICK tallies the ďvoteĒ.

DICK

Two for and one against.  I guess that means Esther stays.

Smiling he glances at each of the others.

DICK

Okay?

SCOTT looks back at KELLY, his anger evidently eased.

SCOTT

Okay.

KELLY, realizing that she has won, eases off herself, but continues to watch SCOTT very carefully.  SCOTT turns away and returns to his desk chair, where he sits.

SCOTT

Esther stays.

KELLY

Thank you.

Still piqued, she turns and goes to a chair near the storeroom and sits down.  For a moment, no one says anything.  DICK, noting the awkward silence, and with as much enthusiasm as possible, makes yet another peace overture. 

DICK

Isnít democracy wonderful?

Disappointed at the continuing awkward silence, he adds:

DICK

Iíve always thought it was.

Another silence ensues, while DICK looks even less enthusiastic.  Then the silence is broken by a knock at the door.  DICK shows obvious relief at the interruption and looks heavenward to address his next line.

DICK

Thank you. 

DICK opens the office door, where FRED is standing in front of the door, patiently waiting for something to happen.  He is wide eyed and clearly not sure of what he is waiting for.  FRED is a talented genius, who, unfortunately, while in college, was given a massive dose of an experimental drug.  The result is that his mind, while still brilliant, no longer operates within the human realm.  His dress and appearance reflect the fact that he is only slightly aware of the need for either.  Physically, he is thin and stark, due to the fact that he often forgets to eat.  He usually is smiling, but nevertheless goes through most of the other emotions -- only with considerably more drama than most people.  FRED is basically freaked out, with occasional flashes of brilliance.  DICK recognizes him immediately.

DICK

Fred!  Come on in!

FRED looks at DICK questioningly, turns to look behind himself -- as if DICK were talking to someone else, and then looks back to DICK.  FRED remains wide eyed and waiting for something else to happen.  DICK, familiar with FREDís ways, ignores the confusion, and taking FRED by the arm, ushers him into the room.

DICK

Youíve arrived just in time!

FRED

I did?

DICK

Take my word for it.  Professor Conner.  This is Fred Preston.

SCOTT rises to shake FREDís hand.

SCOTT

Glad to know you, Fred.

FRED

Iím Fred.

SCOTT slowly extricates his hand from FREDís, who has continued to shake hands.

SCOTT

Yes, Of course.

KELLY

Fred is a... very special case.

FRED turns and greets KELLY.

FRED

Hi.  Iím Fred.

KELLY

Weíve met.

FRED lets his eyes wander away from KELLY.

FRED

Good.

KELLY

Fred has an... interesting history.  It was based on his... unique record that he was brought into the project.  However...

FRED has wandered off, looking at the room and shaking his head in approval.

FRED

Nifty!

Then his eyes light on the Van de Graff Generator

FRED

Hey!  A Van de Graff generator!

EVERYONE is surprised that FRED knows what the machine is.  Then FRED turns it on and after just a second, touches the metal ball.  Jerking his hand back, he acknowledges the shock with a yelp.  Then he touches the ball again, is shocked again and yelps again.  Then he repeats the procedure again, each time in obvious pain, and with each scream of pain becoming progressively louder.  Finally KELLY reacts and moves toward FRED.

KELLY

Quit touching it!

FRED turns to KELLY, in obvious agreement, and holding his wounded hand.

FRED

Good idea.

FRED turns the generator off.  SCOTT is immediately intrigued by FREDís recognition of the Van de Graff.  Pointing toward an exotic piece of technical equipment, SCOTT asks:

SCOTT

Do you know what that is?

FRED, very matter of fact in his manner, gives a precise, complete answer, including the manufacturerís name. [Fill in the line, dependent upon the particular prop available:]

FRED

_____________________________________________________________.

KELLY

Amazing!

FRED

You mean, Iím right!?

While EVERYONE tries to understand FREDís last statement, he looks to the audience with obvious surprise and mystification.  Shaking his head in amused disbelief, he says:

FRED

I must have studied physics. 

[FRED had six years of college physics, but typically does not remember it.]

KELLY

Fred, perhaps I had better brief Professor Conner first.  Dick will contact you later about our next test.

FRED

Weíve having a physics test?

KELLY

No.  The next ESP test.  Dick will call you.

FRED

Okay.

Fred sits down, folds his arms, and smiles expectantly. 

FRED

Ready when you are.

DICK puts his hand on FRED, and takes a different tack.

DICK

Fred.  I think that Professor Conner and Ms. Gregg want to be alone.

FRED thinks about it, before asking:

FRED

Where they gonna go?

DICK

Theyíre not going anywhere.  Itís time for us to go.

FRED thinks about this.

FRED

Fine by me.

FRED continues to sit.

DICK

Now?

FRED

Great!

FRED continues to sit, as DICK looks helplessly at KELLY and SCOTT, neither of whom have any idea of how to help.  Suddenly FRED stands and staring off into space, announces:

FRED

Hey!  I just remembered: I have to go now.  (turning to the others)  You donít mind, do you?

DICK

No, no.  Thatís fine, Fred.

When FRED just looks at him, DICK continues.

DICK

Weíll see you later.

FRED

Why donít you call me when youíre ready to take the physics test.

DICK

Good idea.  Iíll do that.

FRED

I have to go now.  (back into space:)  I wonder where. 

After a brief pause, FRED shakes his head as if it doesnít matter.  Then with an idea coming into his head, he turns to KELLY.

FRED

Somewhere else Iíll bet.

Without another word, FRED walks to the storeroom door.  At the door, he opens it and waves to the others.

FRED

See ya.

FRED then enters the storeroom, closing the door behind him.

Throughout the remaining sequence, before FRED comes out of the storeroom, KELLY and DICK virtually ignore the fact that FRED is temporarily lost, while SCOTT watches the storeroom door, waiting for FRED to realize his mistake.  KELLY and DICK know better.  While SCOTT repeatedly looks toward the storeroom door for FREDís reappearance, KELLY and DICK carry on as if nothing is amiss.

KELLY

As I was saying, Fred is a rather unique subject.

DICK

It may sound a bit incredible, but the guy once had an IQ of a high level genius.

SCOTT

Had?

DICK

Yes, well, he sort of lost it.

KELLY

Actually, he probably still has it.  Itís just hidden under his...

SCOTT

Spaciness?

KELLY

Something like that.

DICK

You have to understand: the guy was brilliant.  But when he was in graduate school, some clown gave him an overdose of some experimental, mind-altering drug.  It almost killed the poor guy.  He survived, but ever since then, his mind hasnít been in touch with reality.

KELLY

It could be more of a communication problem than anything else.  The mind may still be there.  It just doesnít communicate with our world.

DICK

I doubt if he even operates in the same four dimensions of time and space.

SCOTT

So why do you have him in the project?

KELLY

He does sometimes have occasional flashes of talent.

DICK

Besides, would you want to be the one who turned him loose on the world?

SCOTT

Not really.

The others acknowledge their silent agreement. 

SCOTT

But maybe for the sake of the world, as much as for his sake.

KELLY

Whichever.

SCOTT

Iím not that cruel.  Besides, heís rather entertaining.  In a weird sort of way.

FRED reenters from the storeroom.  As he wanders out, he looks around, suddenly recognizes the room, and shows a very startled reaction as realizing where he is.

FRED

Whoa!  Deja Vu!

Without a word, as the others watch him, FRED goes to the office door and opens it.  This time, instead of going out immediately, he sticks his head into the hall and looks around.  After a few moments of checking out the hall, he straightens and turns back to the others.  He gestures toward the doorway.

FRED

This could be the one.

Whereupon FRED smiles and exits.  SCOTT watches the closed door, and with careful phrasing, asks:

SCOTT

How often do these... ďoccasional flashes of brillianceĒ occur?

DICK

God only knows!

KELLY

Often enough to warrant an effort on our part.

As the others seem to accept her statement, KELLY glances at her watch.

KELLY

Our next subject is Shari Cetera.  Sheís usually quite punctual, but appears to be late today.

Without knocking, SHARI opens the door and comes in.  SHARI is an attractive girl, with just a hint of independence and self assurance.  She is relatively young, mid twenties, dresses nicely but without fanfare, and has particularly enticing eyes.  SHARI also has the disconcerting habit of anticipating most everything anyone else says.

SHARI

Sorry Iím late.

KELLY

Shari!  Right on time.

SHARI turns to DICK, with a strong hint of affection.

SHARI

Hi, Dick.

DICK

Hello.

KELLY

Shari, let me...

SHARI

Professor Conner, Iím Shari Cetera.

SCOTT

Glad to know you. Would you...

SHARI

No thanks.  Iíll just stand.

SCOTT 

...like to sit... down?

SHARI strolls casually toward the storeroom, her voice betraying the hint of her next statement being more than just casual conversation.

SHARI

You have a very interesting laboratory, Professor Conner.

For a moment, SHARI stares at the closet door.

SHARI

Very interesting.

SCOTT

Thanks.  I spend most of my waking hours here, and...

SHARI 

Might as well be comfortable.

SCOTT

...I like to be... comfortable.

SHARI stops at the cabinet, which in the next scene will be shown to contain an operating reel tape recorder.  SHARI stops and looks at the cabinet for a moment, reaches to open it, and then thinks better of it.  SHARI turns to the others, questioning them with her eyes.  No one else understands why SHARI is looking at them.  Then SHARI realizes they know nothing, and decides not to question them directly.

SHARI

Is our meeting today one of the experiments?

KELLY

No.  We just wanted everyone to meet and get to know each other.

SHARI responds with a trace of sarcasm, her eyes going back to the tape recorder in the cabinet.

SHARI

No oneís taking notes?

KELLY is mystified and glances at DICK, who is similarly in the dark. 

KELLY

Notes?

KELLY then looks at SCOTT, who is totally lost.

SHARI

It doesn't matter.

SHARI starts to walk back toward center, when she stops.  Quietly, she turns to look at the closet door again.  EVERYONE else simply watches her.  Then SHARI, with clear purpose, walks to the closet door and puts her hand on the knob.  With just a secondís hesitation, she opens the closet door.  Inside is nothing but KELLY and SCOTTís coats, and a single hanger.  The hanger, which is an easily visible, plastic or wood type hanger [ĒNO WIRE HANGERS!!Ē] is silently swinging on the bar.  It is obvious that someone was in the closet, but is no longer.  SHARI dismisses the feeling that she had, closes the door and shrugs, as if to suggest that SCOTTís laboratory is one, very crazy place.  As SHARI turns to the others, she asks:

SHARI

Professor, do you have a dog?

SCOTT

A dog?

SHARI

No?  Just wondering.  (then with a secretive smile)  You really do have a very interesting laboratory.

SCOTT

Thanks.  Feel free to look around.

SHARI

Thanks.

SHARI is walking toward the Storeroom, when she passes the file cabinet and casually remarks:

SHARI

Youíre going to need a lock on this filing cabinet, you know.

SCOTT

I will?

KELLY

Yes.  As a matter of fact, we need to take care of that right away.  Mr. Watson?

DICK

Iíll replace it with Karnablowskyís.  It already...

SHARI

Youíll need to change his combination.

DICK 

...has... a combination....  Which Iíll change.

As SHARI stops to look at the Van de Graff generator, SCOTT leans forward, and with much less relish than usual, suggests:

SCOTT

You can turn that on, if you...

SHARI

Why would you want to shock me?

SCOTT

 I didnít...  (defensively)  Itís a...

SHARI

Itís not a test!  Itís a Van de Graff generator.  My high school physics teacher had one, and he was always shocking people with it.  He thought it was clever.  But of course, he was a mental defective.  One could almost forgive him for his little game.  But youíre not stupid!

SHARIís abruptly smiles, realizing something about SCOTT.  Her voice becomes slightly more sexy.

SHARI

Or defective.

Then, with more intensity, challenging SCOTT.

SHARI

Or cruel.

As KELLY and DICK join SHARI in visually scolding SCOTT with their looks, SCOTT tries to hide in his chair by shrinking out of sight.

SCOTT

Well... maybe not any more.

SHARI smiles at his ďapologyĒ.  Then she abruptly announces:

SHARI

Iíll go now.  Youíll want to discuss my case when I'm not in the room.

As she turns to go, she stops to look invitingly at DICK.

SHARI

Maybe we could have coffee together... this afternoon?

DICK

Coffee?

SHARI

Thatís okay.  Iím sure youíre too busy right now.  (resignedly)  Iíll see you tomorrow morning at nine. 

SHARI starts for the door, as if there is nothing else to say.

KELLY

Oh, weíre finished for the morning.  Mr. Watson, you can take the rest of the day off if you like.

DICK

You sure?

KELLY

Certainly.  Go ahead and have some coffee with Shari.

Chagrined at help from KELLYís corner, SHARI glances at the other woman, and then turns to DICK.

SHARI

If you have something else to do...

DICK

No.  I guess Iím free.  Of course...

SHARI

Donít worry.  Iíll pay.

DICK

Okay.

As SHARI patiently waits, DICK crosses and opens the door for her.  Together, SHARI and DICK exit through the office door.

SCOTT

Now that girl has possibilities!

KELLY

Careful!  We wouldnít want to jump to any conclusions!

SCOTT

Are you kidding?  Do you actually have doubts that this one might have some real potential?

KELLY

Letís just try to keep things in perspective.  Itís hardly scientific to leap to conclusions.

SCOTT

Itís not particularly scientific to ignore your observations, either.

KELLY

There are many possible reasons for Shariís apparent ability to... anticipate.  She may have done her homework on the people that she is dealing with.  She could be an excellent student of human psychology.  For example, the fact that she anticipates your invitation to sit down, is hardly revolutionary.  Itís quite common for a gentleman to ask a lady to sit down.  (suddenly realizing that she's not been asked to sit down.)  In most cases, that is.

SCOTT

Perhaps youíre right.

KELLY looks at SCOTT, a bit surprised at his apparent generosity in finally accepting her argument.  For just a moment, they look at each other, as if theyíve discovered something new about the other.  They may even smile -- depending on how well the next cue is picked up.  Their brief moment is interrupted by a perfunctory knock at the office door, followed by ANN entering, with RICHARD close behind.  RICHARD is in his thirties, extremely neat and clean shaven, and dressed in a three piece suit.  He looks very professional and upper-level bureaucratic.  His physical appearance is lean and hard, which he covers with an outward, pseudo-sophisticated, fraternity-style manner.  His extroversion appears designed to cover an important secret.

ANN

Oh, good!  Youíre still here.

KELLY

Ah, Mr. Surety.

RICHARD

(very formally, while shaking hands with her)

Ms. Gregg.

KELLY

Professor Conner, this is our fourth subject, Mr. Richard Surety.  And of course, you already know Ms. Jennings, our control.

ANN

Richard and I are both in the project.

RICHARD

A very worthwhile project I might add.  Iím proud to be associated with such an exceptional opportunity to improve life here in the United States.

SCOTT

Really?

RICHARD

More than most, I dare say, I am fully cognizant of the tremendous potential for good that may well result from the courageous efforts of Ms. Gregg and yourself.  You are to be congratulated on your decision to carry on the critically important work to Dr. Karnablowsky.  Your charging in where others falter; rushing in to plug the leak in the dike, so to speak, is nothing short of exemplary.  Yes, sir, such courage in the face of adversity is more than commendable; it is profoundly patriotic. It is just the sort of thing that makes one proud to be an American!

KELLY

Richard is one of our more, enthusiastic subjects.

RICHARD

Why, thank you very much, Ms. Gregg.  I consider your remark to be very generous, and I appreciate it very much.  I have certainly endeavored to pull my share of the load.  It is particularly gratifying to know that my efforts have not gone unnoticed.

RICHARD glances around the room, with SCOTT and KELLY speechless and ANN beaming through it all.  RICHARD starts to walk in the general direction of the storeroom.

RICHARD

An excellent lab you have here, Professor Conner.  I'm sure you use it to good purpose.

ANN points to the computer print out on SCOTT's desk.

ANN

Oh, he does.  Scott... I mean Professor Conner... does a lot of computer work.

RICHARD flips through the pages with a quick appraisal.

RICHARD

Evidently.  Important work, no doubt.

ANN suddenly realizes she does not want RICHARD to look too closely.  She grabs the computer printout and partially shielding it from RICHARD, turns to SCOTT.

ANN

Perhaps I had better put this back in the file.

SCOTT

Donít bother, Ann.  I have to review it right away.  I certainly donít want to procrastinate on it.

RICHARD

(approaching the Van de Graff)

And whatís this?

SCOTT

Itís a Van de Graff electric charge generator.

RICHARD

(turning on the switch)

You mind if I turn it on?

SCOTT looks a little piqued at the fact that RICHARD didnít wait for permission.

SCOTT

Go ahead.  But donít touch the silver ball.

RICHARD

Why not? 

RICHARD touches the silver ball, receives his just deserts, and whips his hand back.  

RICHARD

Arrrrgggggg!!!! 

With an accusatory air, and completely forgetting his previous diplomatic and pompous attitude, he turns on SCOTT.

RICHARD

Holy Cow!!  That thingís dangerous!  I could have been killed!!  Do you always keep lethal weapons lying around the lab!!?

ANN rushes to RICHARDís side, grabs his hand and tries to comfort him.  During the next several exchanges, ANN massages, soothes and kisses RICHARDís hand (to make the hurt go away).  RICHARD is unaware of her affections, still caught up in his rage at being surprised.

SCOTT

Lethal?

KELLY

He did tell you not to touch it!

RICHARD

Tell me!!?  There should be warning signs on it!  Youíre dealing with electricity!  You canít just leave it up to verbal warnings, which may or may not be heard in time.  Youíve got to be absolutely certain that everyone is warned.

SCOTT

It only generates a mild shock.

RICHARD

And what if it malfunctions?

SCOTT

Then it generates nothing.

RICHARD

Oh?  Youíre quite sure?  It couldnít possibly deliver a much more severe shock?  Of course, it could!  Things like this happen all the time!  You canít be too careful.  Dangerous equipment like that ought to be locked up!  The public has to be protected from this sort of thing!

Finally, RICHARD notices ANNís continuing affection, only to find it incredible.  He asks ANN, with considerable bewilderment:

RICHARD

What are you doing?

ANN

Iím making it feel better.

RICHARD

(shaking his hand free of ANN)

It just feels wet.

ANN is immediately shattered.  With a look of immense hurt, she backs away.

KELLY

But thatís good for it.

RICHARD

What is?

KELLY

Annís... application of moisture.

RICHARD

It is!?

KELLY

Absolutely. Ann may have helped you a great deal.  An immediate application of moisture of a... shocked area, is always good for it.

RICHARD

Really?

KELLY

Yes.  Recent scientific experiments have demonstrated conclusively that... kissing a hurt is beneficial.

RICHARD

And these experiments have been declassified?

KELLY

They were never classified in the first place.

RICHARD

Pity.

RICHARD notices ANN who is still hurt from his rejection.

RICHARD

I didnít know.  Please accept my apologies.

ANN

Thatís all right.  I just wanted to make it feel better.

RICHARD

Youíre very kind.

ANN

Maybe we should go down to my... office.  I could find some other things to make it feel even better.

KELLY

Good idea, Ann.  Take Richard down to your office.  Weíll start again, tomorrow at nine.

RICHARD

No, no, Iíll be fine.  I must leave now anyway, and re(port)... tire.  But you can be sure that tomorrow morning I will be here promptly at nine.

ANN

(following him to the door)

Youíre sure I canít be of some service?

RICHARD

No, no.  I really must run now.

ANN

Do you need someone to run with?

RICHARD

No, no.  Iím the... I'm a Lone Runner.

RICHARD exits, with ANN close on his heels.

ANN

(off stage)

Iím really a good person to run with!  I also scout!

KELLY

See you tomorrow morning at nine.

KELLY shuts the door, turns, and looks up.

KELLY

Oh, brother!

SCOTT

ďImmediate application of moisture?Ē

KELLY

It was the first thing that popped into my head.

SCOTT

I just hope Ann appreciates your thoughtfulness.

KELLY

Just trying to keep peace among the test subjects.

SCOTT

I donít quite buy that.  I think youíre a little nicer than youíd like to have people know.

KELLY

Why... thank you.

SCOTT

Youíre welcome.

(beat)

You must have searched the world over for those five!

KELLY

Iíll admit: they are a diverse group.

SCOTT

Soís the average population of an insane asylum.

There is a perfunctory KNOCK at the office door, it opens without hesitation, and SPY enters, dressed as a janitor and pushing his canvas trash bag, with cleaning attachments.  SPY is also carrying a very large dust mop, and trailing an upright vacuum cleaner (one with a flexible dust bag).

SCOTT

(to SPY)

Could you come back a little later?

SPY ignores SCOTT and KELLY, and with heavy resignation -- as if life is scarcely worth living -- begins to wipe the counters with a dust rag. 

SCOTT

Excuse me... 

When SPY still does not answer -- or give any indication that heís on the same planet -- SCOTT looks at KELLY, who only shrugs.  Then to KELLY, SCOTT says: 

SCOTT

Why donít we discuss the five... candidates over coffee?

KELLY

Fine.  Iíll get my coat.

As SCOTT and KELLY start for the closet, SPY picks up the large dust mop and begins ďmoppingĒ the window.  SPY continues to do this, apparently oblivious to both KELLY and SCOTT.

KELLY

Iím rather hungry, as well.

SCOTT

Weíll do brunch.

With their coats, SCOTT and KELLY go to the door and start to leave.  His hand on the outside door knob, SCOTT says to SPY: 

SCOTT

Be sure and lock up.

When SPY ignores him, SCOTT shrugs and closes the door, SCOTT and KELLY exiting.

Immediately, SPY comes alive and looks around.  All pretense at bored resignation is gone, as SPY leaps to take advantage of the opportunity.  Quickly, he puts the upright vacuum cleaner on the table, and pulls out a camera from the vacuum cleaner dust bag.  The camera is, naturally, incredibly dusty, and SPY chokes on the dust, particularly when he blows it off.  With great urgency, SPY begins to take pictures.  He takes one of the Van de Graff, and one or two other objects.  In each and every case, SPY makes extreme changes in the cameraís focus.  Then he notices the lens cap, and with a definite slowing of pace, carefully takes the lens cap off the camera.  He frowns and then curses.

SPY

Arrrggggg!

After a slow burn, he whips the camera up to take a shot of SCOTTís desk from his position behind the table.  However, ANN walks into the room abruptly, and SPY ends up taking a picture of ANN.  ANN is immediately delighted at the thought that someone would want her photograph.  She reverts instantly to a very coy and shy southern belle, fairly fluttering.

ANN

Oh my!  You really should have warned me.  Iím just not my best this early in the morning.

SPY is amazed and frustrated, not to mention bewildered.  He has no idea of what to do with ANN.  He stammers while she blusters on.

ANN

You really should have given me a chance to spruce up a bit.  I must look simply frightful! 

When SPY can only manage a pathetic smile, ANN moves in closer.

ANN

Why donít you give me a chance to freshen up a bit.

(turning on all the sex after-burners)

Iím sure I can give you an even better picture. 

As ANN moves in for the kill, SPY starts to panic.  Abruptly, he grabs ANN and kisses her intently on the mouth.  ANN is momentarily stunned by the sudden response to her overtures.  Just as quickly, SPY breaks away from the kiss and rushes for the door.  ANN steps back with a shaky step, and gasps for a breath of air.  SPY exits via the office door, just as ANNís expression becomes ones of joy and ecstasy.  With immense romantic drama, ANN mutters to herself:

ANN

Ohhhh!  A hero.  Fresh from the fight!  Finally!!!

Then realizing that SPY has gone, ANN rushes to the door.  Standing in the hall, with the door open, ANN looks forlorn, as she looks down the hall.  With immense emotion:

ANN

Wait!  What is your name!!?

BLACKOUTóEND OF SCENE 2

 

Back to:

Act I, Scene 1 -- A Bequeathed Project

Forward to:

Act I, Scene 3 -- Results!

 

               

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