Fickle Matter

Fickle Matter.doc

Fickle  Matter
A short play with super heroes

 

 

Fickle Matter

 

by

Ron Campbell

Setting

 

Frank and Chuck’s Rumour Lounge, a bar.

Oakland, California

Cast of Characters

 

Mike the bartender, alias The Narrator……….30’s, Male.

Dr. Simon Abacus, alias The Calculator………50’s, Male. Wears thick glasses.

Octaguy…………………………………………..20’s, Male, Muscular build.

Mockuman………………………………………..30’s, Male.

Dirk Thunder……………………………………..40’s, Male. Booming voice.

Plus 2 non speaking roles, age open:

Captain Jack Diablo and Catapulto.

Note on costumes: Octaguy wears a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip flops.

                         Dirk Thunder wears a tight t-shirt.

Catapulto wears a motorcycle helmet.

Captain Jack Diablo wears red clothes and a plastic poncho.
Fickle Matter

 

by

Ron Campbell

(Lights up on a seedy bar. Mike, the bartender, is polishing a glass as the lone customer, Dr. Simon Abacus, a bespectacled gentleman in his fifties sits slumped at the end of the bar scribbling frantically in an advanced soduku book.)

MIKE

It’s an astonishingly bright summer’s day in Oakland, California.

Trucks rumble past the darkened doorway of a hole in the wall watering hole known as Frank and Chuck’s Rumour Lounge.

The rumor is Frank killed Chuck in a lover’s quarrel twenty years ago, but the name stuck.

Inside, past the tattered grandeur of a few empty naugahyde booths, is a long cigarette scared bar behind which I stand, pretending to polish a glass with my bar rag.

I work as a bartender here most nights.  Customers know me as Mike.

Mike the bartender.

But that’s just my alter ego.

You see, because of a rare and untreatable form of turret’s syndrome, which makes me vocalize my every thought, I have also become known by another name.

My super hero name:

The Narrator

SIMON

I knew it! They’re late.

MIKE

Said the only customer, One Dr. Simon Abacus, an idiot savant and speed reader from Pinole. He’s looking rather bleary from his job on the graveyard shift at Kinko’s.

SIMON

My computations were correct. Based on average mean tardiness and factoring surf conditions, traffic forecasts and existential malaise I predicted I could arrive thirty-seven minutes late for our meeting and still be the first to arrive at this bar.

MIKE

He says triumphantly, draining his glass and gesturing to me for another.

So who’s coming to the meeting?

SIMON

The whole Gang should be here.

Octaguy, The surfer from Oxnard who got mutated in a nuclear spill while surfing at that point just South of the reactor at San Onofre and, of course, Mockuman.

MIKE

Oh not Mockuman. He’s so sarcastic.

SIMON

That’s his power. He has a wonderful gift, Mike. He performs a valuable service. You’ve seen him do it. He mocks people to the point that they see how ridiculous they are. He’s our truth serum. We need him.

MIKE

Need him? What for?

SIMON

A Mission.

MIKE

Oh Doctor Abacus. Not another mission. Every time we go on a mission something terrible happens and the real superheroes have to bail us out.

SIMON

This time will be different.

MIKE

I don’t know. Last time we tried a mission things didn’t turn out so well. Remember?

SIMON

A slight miscalculation.

MIKE

A slight miscalculation? We were stranded for four days on an oil derrick in the middle of the Pacific!

Meanwhile Count Dastardius and the Evil Team were busy with their plan to dump toxic waste into the Oakland Estuary.

They would have gotten away with it too if Dirk Thunder and The Sensationals hadn’t stopped them.

They almost didn’t.

SIMON

Because of the elaborate diversion The Count had set up.

MIKE

Diversion? We were the diversion! You told us The Count was planning to cause an oil spill from that off shore derrick. Dirk Thunder and the Sensationals were busy trying to rescue us when The Evil Team struck that sewage plant.

SIMON

That was unfortunate. But this mission will be different. And it will take all our powers to complete.

MIKE

I don’t know. Let’s face it. We’re D list superheroes and most of the Villains these days are either A list or they’re in jail. And besides, Dirk Thunder and The Sensationals are famous. Every kid from here to Poughkeepsie knows his catch phrase:

(Mockingly:)

“Stay out of trouble boys and girls- or be prepared to deal with The Thunder!”

(Octaguy enters.)

 

But before I could say another word in walked the hulking form of Octaguy.

He stands six foot five in flip flops and wears a Hawaiian shirt with pinkish tentacles emerging from his sleeves. He has a single fin protruding from his prehensile forehead, a deep tan and smells of kelp and surf wax.

SIMON

Octaguy! So glad you could make it.

OCTAGUY

Dudes. Wassup?

MIKE

Dr. Abacus wants us to try another one of his missions.

OCTAGUY

Forget it.

SIMON

But you haven’t even heard what it is.

OCTAGUY

Don’t matter. I work solo now.

SIMON

Solo? Since when?

MIKE

Octaguy signals me for a beer with a slimy tentacle. I pour one out.

(He does)

OCTAGUY

Since the last time we tried a mission. It took me months to get that oil crud out of my scales. Plus Mockuman is so annoying I can’t stand to be around him and The Narrator here can’t keep his cake hole shut long enough to be of any use. And I love you, Doc, but your “calculations” only get us into trouble. Let’s face it. We are D list superheroes in an A list world. Maybe it’s time we went our separate ways.

MIKE

Octaguy dumps his beer over his head where his scales are drying out and orders another.

(He does.)

SIMON

That, my mutated friend, is where you’re wrong. In fact it is the combined talents of this group that may be the only thing that can save our country from coming to a complete stand still.

OCTAGUY

A stand still? Whaddaya mean?

MIKE

Doctor Simon Abacus, alias The Calculator takes a furtive look around to make sure no one else is in the bar. He takes off his coke bottle thick glasses and wipes them on a handkerchief. And then he speaks:

OCTAGUY

Will you shut up Mike? I can see what he’s doing!

Go ahead, Doc.

SIMON

Do you remember Captain Jack Diablo?

MIKE

Of Course. The only survivor of the first manned expedition to Hell. I remember the headlines. Ninety-nine percent of his body was burned to a crisp. The pain had driven him mad. Wasn’t he committed to an asylum?

SIMON

Precisely. And there he has been for the last five years, raging day and night in an enriched oxygen chamber, planning his revenge on the government that he blames for turning him into a monster. For five years he has been kept under surveillance, his every move monitored and recorded.

Until last week.

OCTAGUY and MIKE

Last week?

SIMON

Someone, possibly Lady Asphyxia or The Plasticator made him a suit. An oxygen suit. One of the guards at the asylum was found strangled in a cleaners bag and Captain Jack Diablo has escaped.

OCTAGUY and MIKE

Escaped?

OCTAGUY

Will you quit it?!

MIKE

Sorry.

SIMON

But there’s more. Rumor has it he’s joined forces with Catapulto.

MIKE

There was a silence as we took this in.

Catapulto was a circus performer who had accidentally miscalculated the angle of the cannon in his human cannonball routine when the circus was in New Jersey adjacent to a nuclear waste disposal plant. He was jettisoned directly into a vat of radioactive waste. He survived the fall, but had ingested enough radioactive isotopes to pervert his DNA and turn him into a raging sociopath bent on destroying all family entertainment in the tri state area.

OCTAGUY

But Doc- how do you know these two have joined forces. And why?

SIMON

For a most nefarious purpose, my scaly chum.

You remember Captain Diablo was a scientist before his fateful journey to the bowels of Hell.

Apparently since his return he has secretly been developing a weapon.

A weapon so insidious it could only be the product of a mind half melted by the visions and experiences he had while captain of the titanium submergible  U.S.S. Cerebus, which of course he helmed crossing the River Styx.

Diablo has developed a compound that directly affects the corpus collosum of every person that is exposed to it rendering them incapable of making a decision.

Once exposed to this compound the victim’s opinion about anything is put into a permanently waffling state.

He calls it Fickle Matter.

Anyone who comes in contact with it keeps changing their mind so nothing ever gets done.

And He’s going to use Catapulto’s ballistic expertise to disseminate it over Washington D.C.!

Imagine. Once Fickle Matter is deployed over Capitol Hill, our entire governmental process will be thrust into a permanent and confused filibuster.

(Mockuman enters with a flourish.)

MOCKUMAN

And that’s different how, exactly?

MIKE, OCTAGUY and SIMON

Mockuman!

MOCKUMAN

At your fucking service.

( He bows exaggeratedly, then farts.)

 

SIMON

It’s about time. I’ve just filled them in on the Captain and Catapulto’s villainous plan. We’ve not a moment to loose.

MOCKUMAN

                                                  (Mockingly.)

“We’ve not a moment to loose.”

Jeez.

You sound like a damn comic book.  Wake up and smell the toner, Kinko boy.

Those guys are out of our league. Leave them to real superheroes like Dirk Thunder Butt and the Sensationals or  Professor Fabulous and the Dynamic Six. Let’s face it. We’d only screw it up. This big slab ‘o sushi-

(He refers to Octaguy.)

-leaves a snail trail of sea water everywhere he goes and ol’ Diarrhea mouth here-

(He refers to Mike.)

-will spill the beans of our plan before we even got to Washington.

SIMON

You don’t understand. We don’t have to go to Washington.

MOCKUMAN

And why not, brainiac? You plan on stopping them psychically with the power of your mind from the comfort of the fax machine cubicle? Right. That’ll work.

SIMON

Mockuman. Save your expert ridicule for when it is needed. And needed it will be.

And soon. For your information we don’t need to travel to Washington. In fact, Captain Jack Diablo and Catapulto are coming here.

OCTAGUY and MIKE

What?!

SIMON

I hacked into their Twitter accounts on one of the powerful computers at Kinko’s.

I intercepted a direct message that they wanted to meet somewhere in Oakland before heading to the airport. I was able to send them each a direct message that looked as if it was sent from the other. I set the tweet-up for this bar and they both agreed. I calculate they should be arriving momentarily.

MOCKUMAN

Oh great. That’s just terrific. What’re we gonna do when they get here?

SIMON

I’ve calculated a plan. Octaguy: You will take up a position by the door. When Catapulto enters you will subdue him by wrapping your powerful tentacles around him. Add as much slime as you’ve got.

Meanwhile you, Mockuman, will distract Captain Diablo with some particularly vicious barb or other. You know how vain he is. This will give me time to shoot this paperclip with this rubber band into his oxygen suit. The sudden rush of un-enriched oxygen will render him powerless.

MIKE

What about me?

SIMON

You, my loquacious friend, shall describe all the action into this recorder for later publication in Super Hero Quarterly.

(Simon produces a small recording device, hands it to Mike.)

 

OCTAGUY

I don’t know. That Catapulto is a pretty tough customer.

SIMON

Have no fear. I have it on good authority that ever since his fateful launch into the radioactive vat, Catapulto has suffered from an advanced form of hydrophobia. You get enough of your slime on him and it will freak him out completely.

OCTAGUY

Hydrophobia?

SIMON

A very extreme case. He never even showers. In fact, I think I can smell him coming now. Take your places!

MIKE

Dr. Simon Abacus, alias The Calculator takes out a paper clip and rubber band and takes up a position behind the bar. Octaguy takes his place next to the door, tentacles raised. And Mockuman stands in the center of the room, ready to verbally eviscerate who or whatever comes through the door. Except for my talking, the room is hushed in anticipation. These men are no longer four random D list also-rans grasping at the left-overs of other, more accomplished superheroes. For in that moment they are a team. A force to be reckoned with. They are THE QUIXOTIC QUARTET!

(There is a fanfare. They pose briefly.)

 

MOCKUMAN

The Quixotic Quartet! That is so lame- Why can’t we be-

OCTAGUY

I work solo! Besides, you guys don’t respect my-

 

SIMON

Quiet!

I think I smell Catapulto coming.

Get ready.

  (Enter Dirk Thunder, holding the knocked out forms of Captain Jack Diablo        and Catapulto by the scruff of their necks. He smiles his million dollar smile. Perhaps Catapulto wears a motorcycle helmet, Diablo a red track suit with a plastic poncho.) 

 

SIMON, MIKE, OCTAGUY and MOCKUMAN

Dirk Thunder?!!

DIRK

                                      (With a booming voice.)

Just thought I’d stop by to thank you guys for helping me and The Sensationals nab these two ne’er do wells. Dr. Abacus, If we hadn’t seen your twitter profile we would never have known of Diablo’s scheme. Thanks!

SIMON

                                      (Blushing, flattered.)

You checked my profile?

DIRK

Of course. We keep tabs on all you guys. You never know when one of your crazy hunches might turn out to have a little truth to it. And then me and the Sensationals swoop in to save the day like always. Don’t worry. We’ll cite you as “an anonymous tip” in the big article about this in Super Hero Quarterly.

MOCKUMAN

Hey Thunder-butt. We don’t need your charity. As you see, we were ready to handle this.

DIRK

Yeah, right. Whatever. Well, Thanks again. See you in the funny papers.

(He starts to leave, taking the slumped villains with him. Then stops in the                        doorway.)

 

A word of advice. You guys need to work on your marketing. It’s all about branding these days. You’ll always be D-listers if you don’t have a name for your team. Say, what do you guys call yourselves anyway? I might be able to throw a little work your way.

SIMON

Funny you should ask, Dirk Thunder. We were just discussing that before you came in. You might as well be the first to know. We are:

SIMON, MIKE, OCTAGUY and MOCKUMAN

The Quixotic Quartet.

(There is a fanfare, they look at each other and smile.)

 

 

 

DIRK

Hmm. Not bad. It’s got a ring to it. Nice alliteration. I’ll see what I can do to get you a little side bar article in the Quarterly. Well, so long.

(He strikes a pose, voice booming:)

 

This is Dirk Thunder saying “Stay out of trouble boys and girls- or be prepared to deal with The Thunder!”

                                                  (And he’s gone.)

 

MIKE

For a moment we stood in stunned silence. Yes, we had been scooped once again by Dirk Thunder and the Sensationals. But something had changed that day. Instead of four D-list super heroes each going in their own direction, we were a team. A fighting unit. We were:

SIMON, MIKE OCTAGUY and MOCKUMAN

The Quixotic Quartet!

(There is a fanfare. They each strike a pose.

                                                  Blackout.)

 

 

                                                  END OF PLAY

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