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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life

Stage & Screen
by Kathleen J. Welch

Scene 1

(Dick and Harry are puppets, who once ran for President but didn't know it. They reminisce about the way things were, before September 11, 2001.)

Dick: Remember the 2000 presidential race, Harry. Seems so long ago. The biggest news was the butterfly ballot and the pregnant chad. We had so much fun trying to figure out if a chad was kind of like a mackerel.

Harry: Yea, give me a butterfly ballot over Bin Laden any day. Those were the days when you watched the news for fun. Remember how we came up with so many new words during our campaign like "lockbox," dimpled chad, swinging chad, death tax... I was almost beginning to feel good, like I could change my meds, maybe even stop taking Thorazine.

Dick: Yea, you can kiss those days goodbye. Now all I hear is "ant tracks." What is it anyway? I thought it was some sort of ant powder or roach kill. I heard some guy got all freaked out when he saw all this sugar near a vending machine. Well, I guess we better put our butts to the burner and kick ass. As presidential candidates, we need to help our country. It is time to find ways to kill all those terrorists, fight terror.

Harry: Yea, that's a big word, terror. I'm not sure what it means. Let's see what the Funk says. (Opens a Funk and Wagnalls dictionary.)

Dick: Hey, Harry. Let me help you out.
Terror: 1. Intense, overpowering fear. 2. One that instills intense fear. 3. The ability to instill intense fear. 4. Violence committed or threatened to intimidate or coerce, as for military or political purposes.

Harry: Dick, you forgot this last definition. 5. Informal, an annoying or intolerable pest.

Dick: That last one sounds like my wife.

Harry: Yea, well listen to this. There's terrorism, terrorist, terrorize, terrible, terrify and even terrific. Terrific can be very bad or very good. God, that's confusing.

Dick: Ain't confusing to me. Now, I can finally tell my wife she looks terrific and really mean it.

Harry: Maybe we should ask the CIA to help us out. Their job is to hunt down terrorists. Let's see what they have to say.
Scene 2

Agent 001: Agent 002, I need your full attention. (Agent 002 is opening a box that contains the game, "Twister.") There are several high priority initiatives that must be completed before 22 hundred. The President wants full briefings from Lower Intelligence at that time. Could you update me on the campaign against terror.

Agent 002: Yes, Agent 001. We are making much progress. This three-dimensional floor chart is the only terrorist tracker in the free world. (With much care, unfolds the party game, "Twister.")

Agent 001: (in awe) Can I assist you in determining our strategy to seek and destroy all terrorist cells? I have the high security clearance and covert training to activate this device. (She spins the Twister arrow.)

Agent 002: (in reverence) Ah! Agent 001! Let me turn to my operations manual in order to decode the message. (looks in a little black book) Yes! You must touch blue thunderbolt with your right hand and desert storm with your left foot.

Agent 001: Desert storm is the brown demarcation?

Agent 002: Yes.

Agent 001: (whispering) Are the colors significant?

Agent 002: Yes. However, I can not tell you more at this time. (twists twister) Left hand on infinite green, oh I mean enduring freedom and right foot on desert storm. (They continue to play until they are completely twisted in two.)

(Bill Gates and the devil enter.)

Bill Gates: Oh, Twister! Can I play?

Agent 001: This is not what you think it is. But a five billion state of the art terrorist tracker.

Bill: Looks like Twister to me. (whining) Can I play?! Just once. I never had a chance as a kid.

Lu: Yea, I remember you as the dork no one invited to their birthday parties. You were the kid who started the chess club when you were eight and always smelled like bologna and mustard.(cackles)

Bill: Look, you lackey from the donkey depths of dengue. I bought you out! So no lip.

Lu: (subservient) Yes, sir. Yes, Mr. Bill Gates! (gets down on his knees) I'm extremely thankful that you bought hell from me before it became so commonplace. Hell is a cheap commodity in this age of rage. Who needs it?

Bill: Oh, Lu. You should know. We've always needed hell. How could we sell religion to the politicians and kill each other if we didn't have hell? But let's get started. We are here to pick our brains and serve them to Central Intelligence. Or is it Lower Intelligence?

Lu: Looks like they're stuck.

(Both agents remain twisted in "Twister.")

Agent 001: Welcome, Bill Gates. (to the devil) You look familiar? Have we met?

Lu: Many times. I have many disguises. Sometimes I'm your friend, sometimes your enemy, depends on the situation.

Bill: And the money.

Agent 001: We have lots of money. The PATRIOT Act, and PATRIOT is in all CAPITAL letters, gives us billions to conduct a SHADOW WAR against terrorism, wherever it might lead. (Begins a little tap dance.) Roving wiretaps and secret searches!! Interrogations and deportations!! (salivating) If a SUSPECT commits even a traffic violation, we'll put him behind bars and keep him in custody as long as possible. We'll get the information!

Agent 002: (whispering to 001) Control yourself, Agent 001. Remember we're ALWAYS being watched. Too much exuberance and they might think you're a double agent. (to Bill and Lu) Boys, we'd like to link your tracking device with ours. We feel we could make much more headway if we combine forces.

Bill: Sure! (excited to play "Twister.") Can I spin the arrow now?

Agent 002: Sure. But why don't you show us your terrorist tracker.

Bill: Lu, get out the eye-trek. The eye-trek is state-of-the-art high tech trickery. It gives you the capability to retrieve information from many sources at the same time: the computer, cameras, radio, television, video, and even shoe phones.

Lu: Also, we can interact and inflict suffering on others with the eye-trek. In 1998, we founded the Bad Poets Society, a former terrorist group that inflicted suffering on others by interacting with other bad poets at open mike poetry nights. Now we only use our eye-trek to inflict suffering on suspected terrorists.

Bill: Bad poets are still suspect.

Agent 002: This is very intriguing. I would like to hear a very bad poem. At the same time, we will link your operations with ours. For we have found that this tracker gravitates toward a certain area, the color of sand and desert storms.

Agent 001: (all four look down on the color brown) Yes, we think this color is evil, terror incarnate. We must immediately conduct secret searches on all suspects of this color, who are on a plane, in a train, on a boat, in a mall, on a raft, in a school, on a bike, in a box. Anyone who is sandy slime-colored and "freaks us out." "Freak out" could mean an icy stare, no eye contact, or strong cologne. Not too long ago, it was the color red, "better dead than red." Now it's the color of sand, dust storms and Bin. First we'll follow protocol and only conduct secret searches on those who look sandy, sneaky, slimy and slithery. Didn't you feel there was something suspicious, slinky, slanderous and sickening when you touched this color on the terrorist tracker? I did. I felt it in my bowels and Bin filled my jowls. I screamed silently, sand and spit. Remember they are all modern Mongols, the horde that raped Russia and ravaged time. Destroying civilizations with blood thirst. I will tell the President that we must suspect the sand colored and strip them of their mongol ways and women. The time is now. We can't...

Agent 002: (interrupting Agent 001, who is foaming at the mouth) I'm not sure we should ignore the women. Though they may look dejected and rejected, they may hate just as much as the men. Let's remember that oppression festers dissension and spews venom. So boys, give us a poem and we'll link the two operations together.

Bill: Ok, Lu trek them! (Lu puts the eye-trek on everyone.)

Bill and Lu:         Planes to track
                         Phones to tap
                         IDs to scan
                         Mugs to pan

Eye-trek pound me with info-blows
to help me tell friend from foe.

Bill and Lu:          Beep, beep, beep
                          tap, tap, tap
                          ratty rat rat

eye-trek knows the rap
in trapping the rats
that slither in bin's fat.

The Agents:            Beep, beep, beep
                              tap, tap, tap
                              ratty rat rat

eye-trek show me where
no kabobs are spared
in their hairless lair.

(Dozens of balloons resembling Casper the friendly ghost fall from the sky.)

Agent 001: (elated, in ecstasy) Ah!!! I'm in contact with a major info blow, cold and white! On all info-channels, computer, radar, video and shoe phone, I'm getting the same coordinates, up 42, down 42, left 35, and right 35. The terror is amongst us!

Agent 002: Roger Wilco!!

Agent 001: (aghast) What did you say!! You know it's no longer politically correct to say "Roger!" The accepted code name is "Ronnie Wilco!" "Ronnie" is not gender specific.

Agent 002: Ronnie Wilco! Yes, I'm also intercepting a very faint labial sound, sounds like "Buh, buh, buh, ooh, ooooooo".

Bill: Yes, I hear it, too. I'll compare it to a voiceprint on my computer. Except now I'm picking up some sort of interference. It's the FBI. They want us to disengage at once and return to our cubicles.

Lu: Yea, but I'm getting a message from the Pentagon to strike at once.

Agent 001: FBI! CIA! Pentagon! Why can't we all get along? I feel it's best we disengage and return to our trusted and true terrorist tracker.

(They return to playing Twister.)

Scene 3

Jesus: Oh, Casper, the holy ghost. Welcome! You can help us with the psychic experiments we are conducting to thwart terror and heal the world.

Plato: Yes, welcome, holy spirit, dove of peace. You came when most needed. Font of wisdom, help me prepare this speech I must deliver to Congress in three days. Jesus and I need to convince the government that the most effective counter-terrorist measure is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Will you listen and guide us?
(Plato walks over to the podium with Casper.)

Jesus: Can I practice my magic trick?

Plato: Jesus, why is it every time I'm trying to practice a very important speech, you have to try out a new magic trick? Besides you promised to watch the baby.

Jesus: Oh, Plato, dear. Don't worry. This is the same old trick, and I've got it down this time. And don't worry about our baby philosopher king. He's meditating. (A baby doll, with pacifier, is perched on a high chair.)

Plato: (not happy) Great! Well, I guess it could be an effective visual. It will show to Congress that what we see in this world is a pale reflection of the true reality. Magic shows how limited our senses are. If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is--infinite.

Jesus: Plato, hold up. It sounds like you're pontificating already. I need to get the saw out.

Plato: (grumbling) The things I have to put up with in this marriage.

Jesus: I'll start then with a happy, gentle trick, "holy card blowing in the wind." (Jesus floats a holy card and then saws off Plato's hand. He later patches up Plato's hand with duct tape. The following text is based on fact and was adapted from the article by Russell Targ and Jane Katra, "The Scientific and Spiritual Implications of Psychic Abilities" published in the May 2001 issue of Alternative Therapies.)

Plato: Distinguished members of the Senate, I will be brief. (Jesus shakes his head in disbelief.) Jesus and I would like you to consider re-funding the Stanford Research Institute. As you know, the Stanford Research Institute was supported by the CIA from 1972-1992 to conduct psychic experiments in order to gather information about the Soviet Union during the Cold War. (Jesus floats a holy card through space.) As you recall, one experiment was so successful, you launched a formal congressional investigation in order to determine whether there had been a breach in national security. With only the geographical coordinates of latitude and longitude for reference, psychics were able to describe the inside and outside of a secret Soviet weapons laboratory in the far reaches of Siberia. Of course, no such breach was found and the Stanford Research Institute experiments continued for another 15 years, until the end of the Cold War. Now, we ask the members of Congress to grant us the funding and support to begin psychic experiments again. Our goal this time, however, is to contain terror through psychic abilities. Contain not eliminate, for terror can never be eliminated. It is an emotion we all share. Ah! My hand!! (Jesus has cut off Plato's hand. It falls to the floor. Jesus lovingly reattaches it with duct tape.) The present policy of a war against terrorism needs to be reexamined for it can foster the very terrorist activity it is designed to prevent.

(The following speech is set to music and includes a dance that heals the devil, who is still center stage, lying twisted up on Twister.)

We propose the use of psychic experiments to find the perpetrators of violence. I do not have time to explain the scientific implications of psychic abilities except to say that quantum physics shows we are all interconnected. Quanta of light that are sent off in opposite directions at light speed maintain their connection to one another, and each photon is affected by what happens to its twin, many kilometers away.

(From stage left, Jesus and Plato bow to the devil. With flashlights, they aim a sequence of flashes at the devil. The devil starts to respond and repeats the sequences of flashing lights.)

As far as the spiritual implications of psychic abilities, the sages of the ages preached that separation is an illusion--and we are all one in spirit, or consciousness. We need to use our psychic abilities that give us expanded awareness, and can be used to love and heal. (Plato and Jesus put on huge papier mache walking heads of themselves.) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you can now be explained by quantum physics. Through our psychic abilities, we can find the perpetators of evil and heal those who are ill. (Plato and Jesus move center stage and look down on the devil.) For modern day science shows that our thoughts affect others and can even heal the most sick. The science of today now shows that there are three different and equally valid avenues of scientific empiricism: the eye of the flesh, which informs us about the world of our senses (Plato and Jesus stand the devil up and remove his tail), the eye of the mind, which allows us access to mathematics, ideas and logic (Plato and Jesus remove the devil's horns) and the eye of contemplation, which is our window to the world of spiritual experience. (Plato and Jesus crown the devil with his own walking head). It is the quiet moments of self-inquiry or the spiritual experience that allows all of us to choose where we put our attention and use our psychic abilities. A powerful freedom. For our choice of attitude and focus affects not only our perceptions and experiences, but also the experiences and behaviors of others. (The devil is now dancing with Plato and Jesus). Let us continue these experiments and use mind-to-mind connections that transcend our ordinary understanding of space and time. We must evolve to the next step or mass extinction will result. Let's embrace our capacity to love, before it's too late.

(A man in black enters the theater and whispers to the stage manager. Plato, Jesus and the devil don't know what to do and stop dancing.)

Stage Manager: (Whispers to the other actors on stage and then says to the audience.) I apologize for the inconvenience but we have been told to interrupt this performance and ask you to quickly leave. It seems that the show is detrimental to the US government's anti-terrorism efforts. Please disregard all that you have heard or seen. They know not what they're doing.

Lights out.

The end.

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