By R.J. Barna
ACT 2 of the play The Year 2000 as Written in 19XX (demonstrating the narrator’s hopes, fears and expectations of the year 2000 during 3 distinct time periods of his life: 1965, 1985 and 1999). Special thanks to project team members Jake Garner and John Meholic, and Dr. Rebecca Steinberger’s Theatre in Performance class.
Off-stage Left, the narrator is sitting at a computer: his face illuminated by a blue screen. As he begins to type, he reads aloud…
Narrator: It is the year 2000, and Jane wipes the sleep from her eyes as her radio alarm clock brazenly wakes her from a restless sleep at the kitchen table. (Alarm clock begins to buzz relentlessly. Lights up on stage reveal Jane). With an empty glare, she hurls a neglected piece of broken machinery across the Spartan apartment (strikes the clock and ends the buzzing) and she sinks a half-filled drink of unknown integrity in a single swig.
Jane: Shit… (Jane crosses to an intercom on the wall, which beeps in acknowledgement as she presses the call button)
Narrator: Thank you for calling Central Civilian Control. Today’s threat level is nominal. Your call is very important to us. Please stand by; a representative will be with you shortly. (a musak version of Ask by The Smiths begins to play quietly).
Jane: Charlie? (Jane starts making coffee) Charlie? Charles!
C.K.: (enters from a conjoining room that may well be a closet) What the fuck do you want?
Jane: Watch your mouth; you have school in an hour.
C.K.: (mumbles something under his breath and sits at the table)
Jane: What time did you get in last night?
C.K.: I dunno.
Jane: What were you doing?
C.K. turns on the TV almost as quickly as Jane unplugs it. Jane puts a plate of toast in front of C.K.
Jane: Eat. Who were you with?
C.K.: Lots of people.
Narrator: …your call is very important to us. Please stand by.
C.K.: What’d you break?
C.K.: Mom! What’d you break this time?
Jane: I dunno.
Jane takes a piece of toast from the plate in front of C.K. and smiles at him defiantly.
C.K.: No wonder you can’t find a man…
Jane: …believe me, you’re all the man I can handle. You didn’t go to the hanging did you?
Narrator: …thank you for calling Central Civilian Control…
Jane: You know I’ll find out if you did…
Jane: Mmhmm. What’re you studying in school today?
C.K.: I dunno…stupid shi…erm…stupid stuff.
Jane: School’s important. You need to study if you want to get ahead.
C.K.: Like you and dad did?
Narrator: …Today’s Threat Level is nominal…
C.K.: I’m sorry, mom. I just…it’s not like it matters anyhows.
Jane: How do you mean?
C.K.: I mean, I’m just…well, you know…
Jane: C.K., you listen to me very carefully. You are…
C.K.: …special. Yeah, I know.
Jane: … apparently you don’t know. When I got pregnant, do you think I gave a shi…erm…damn what anybody thought? You’re unique, Charlie. In all of the world, throughout all of time, there will only be one you. Your father and I didn’t want to…to engineer some…thing…in a petri-dish…
C.K.: … well maybe you should have! Or else had me coded or something!
Jane: Stop it…
C.K.: No, you stop it! I’m sick of it! Everybody says that if they touch me, they’ll catch Hudson’s and die! Every time I go take a shit they take bets on whether or not I’m coming back, and I have to sit there while some half-scan, piece of shit restroom drone disinfects the fucking toilet for the next ‘Disher’ that has to plop his perfect, marbled cheeks where my down-country ass was! God-fucking-forbid I scrape my knee, or…or sneeze, or…or…
Jane: …you’re better than them, love.
C.K.: No, I’m fucking not! Name a fucking test and it proves it! They’re faster than me, smarter than me, they’re…their…you know… their… whatever are fucking bigger than mine.
Jane: How else can they get them so far up their own asses?
Narrator: Please stand by; a representative will be with you shortly…
Jane: Well, I just don’t see how that matters…
C.K.: …it matters.
Jane: Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to…
Jane: What? Oh, the song…
Jane: …la. SO… What would you rather do?
C.K.: What? I dunno…
Jane: …I’m serious. What would you rather do today?
C.K.: That’s not how they say it…
C.K.: Um…the arcade?
Jane: (like a buzzer on a game-show) Ehhhhh!
C.K.: …the museum?
Jane: …what museum?
C.K.: …the uh…arts…and…sciences…and stuff…museum?
Jane: Points for effort, but Ehhhh! Last try.
C.K.: I don’t fuckin’ know! I don’t know what you want me to say!
Jane: Sorry; thanks for playing. Watch your mouth.
C.K.: Ugh! You are so unfair!
Jane: Go to school; learn to lie better. That’s the one thing you’ll always have over those drones: creativity.
C.K.: …take me out tonight where there’s musical elf people?
C.K.: …the song.
Jane: …that’s not the song.
C.K.: …yeah, it is.
Jane: There’s no musical elf people!
C.K.: Yeah! And they’re like, ‘and if his love’s a bomb, then it’s a bomb.’
Jane: (snorts loudly while laughing)
Narrator: Hello? I’m sorry…did you say ‘it’s a bomb?’
C.K.: Yeah! From the musical elf people!
Jane: (is laughing too hard to interject)
Narrator: Hey, kid! Are you aware that calling in a bomb threat is a serious offense?
C.K.: Your mother’s a serious offense…
Narrator: …hey! Fuck you, kid!
C.K.: Fuck you!
Narrator: Fuck me? Fuck you!
C.K.: I’m sorry…sphincter says what?
Jane: (pushing Charlie away from the intercom) Hello! I’m sorry, I’m sorry…um…I was in the shower, and my son answered…he…um…has tourettes.
Narrator: Oh, ma’am, I didn’t know…I’m so sorry…
C.K.: …you should be sorry, I got it from your moth…(he is muffled).
Jane: Right, well, I don’t want to take up to much of your time…um…so, I need a PS-638 form for damaged Civilian Property Repair.
Narrator: The mint green form?
Jane: No, the lime green…
C.K.: (looks at his calculator watch) Mom…
Narrator: Oh, ok. I see it now.
Jane: Great, can you fax one over to me?
Narrator: What device is in need of repair?
Jane: My alarm clock…
Narrator: Oh, ok. Oh. Um, Ma’am, the system is showing me that this is your third PS-638 request this month…
Jane: Yes…yes, I know.
Narrator: …and you are aware that said device, being carefully regulated and updated by city ordinance, is thereby city property, correct?
Jane: Yes…yes, I know.
Narrator: …and you haven’t been abusing said device, have you?
Jane: No! No, of course not…
C.K.: I’m gonna be late for school…
Jane: Shit! Um…go into my purse and grab a fifty; get a protein bar and a juice ok?
Narrator: If you’d like, I can have a Union repairman visit…sometime between Tuesday and Thursday of next week.
Jane: No donuts!
Narrator: Excuse me?
C.K.: She said, no donuts.
Jane: I’m sorry, one minute…I mean it, mister. And no arcade. School then right to the shop after. I need your help tonight.
C.K.: What happened to Frank?
Jane: …he got stabbed…a few nights back.
C.K.: Shit! Is he ok?
Jane: I dunno…I haven’t heard from him.
C.K.: Well, how’d you find out?
Jane: Saw it on the news…yes…yes, hello! I’m here. No, I don’t need a repairman. I have my C-17 license…
C.K. puts on a Misfits hoodie that was crumpled up on the floor and pulls a walkman from the pocket. From the other pocket, he produces a worn medical mask (with a skeletal grin drawn on it); he puts it on, and begins to leave.
C.K. begrudgingly walks back over to her, lifts his mask, and kisses her on the cheek.
Narrator: Excuse me?
Jane: Nothing….er…just talking…to my son. Can you just fax that to me please? (As C.K. is leaving) I’ll see you tonight…
C.K.: …unless the bomb drops.
Jane: It’s not the bomb. Be good…
C.K.: Mommy, I’m a good boy… (exit)
Jane: (she calls after him) Stay clear of the checkpoints, Charlie! (back to the intercom) Yes, I’m sorry…I’m still here.
Narrator: Alright ma’am. I’m going to need your social security number, tenant verification code, proof of lease of the damaged device, two separate forms of holographic ID, six separate forms of photo ID, a retinal scan that you can have performed at any local pharmacy, a credit card number or a cashier’s check made out to….
Jane: Yeah, right…I know the drill. Need my first born child too?
Narrator: I…I’m sorry…was that a joke?
Jane: Yeah, that was a joke.
Narrator: Sorry. Took me by surprise. Heh. Who the hell’s dumb enough to have kids anymore? Am I right?
Jane: (lights a cigarette)…sure.
Narrator: Ha! Good one.
(Fade to black, except for Narrator)
Lights fade up, revealing a cluttered workshop with Jane hard at work welding a weathered, industrial-looking robot, painted yellow with black stripes and covered in a veritable collage of red warnings: handle with care, this side up, no children, and so on. Jane is wearing a pair of black overalls, a wife-beater, and a red bandana. She is barefoot and smoking a cigarette. A neon sign that reads, “PandoROBOTICS: Robot Repair and Free Clinic,” is on the wall behind her, next to a punch clock, a tattered American Flag, patched with two Band-Aids, and a muscle-car type pinup calendar that feature a robot being polished by a woman in a bikini. Up-Stage-Right is a television (or holographic projection device) that depicts a semi-human bust, akin to Max Headroom. As the TV personalities mouth opens and closed, the narrator begins…
Narrator:…so be sure and double up your sunscreen. In other news today, a recent influx of murders in the downtown area seems to baffle SitteeTech Security Officials. Board of Trustees liaison, Corey Feldman was unavailable for comment, but his office assures all residents to take comfort in knowing that the majority of victims have multiple outstanding warrants anyhow. Hey! Isn’t that…isn’t that g-g-g-g-g-great news?
Jane: National news; access.
Narrator: Accessing national news feed! Please stand by! Hey, while you wait…H-h-h-hey there, small business owner! Systems show that you may qualify for Riot Insurance! Isn’t that g-g-great news?
Narrator: Rates have never been lower! With a low APR Interest Rate, and government approval, you could protect your …upload complete! In national news today, CSTV reporters have uncovered a b-b-black-market uranium refining operation in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Blackrock Limited has won the security contract to bring the perpetrators to justice! Even now, Blackrock agents have circled the farms of s-s-suspects, and are expecting to maintain their 100% kill eff…
Jane: Music: alternative rock; access.
Narrator: Great choice! Accessing music feeds, sub-folder: alternative rock! Please stand by! Hey, while you wait…(musical tone. Jane immediately reaches for a soda bottle on the table behind her and raises it to her lips, pauses, and sets it back down without drinking)…hope you enjoyed your J-j-j-jolt-A-Kola! Love that New Formula!
(London Calling by The Clash begins to play and Jane resumes her work)
A bell rings as the front door opens. Jane reaches for a pistol, but as two punkers enter, she lowers the arm and smiles. The first punker is a large man with a shaved head, dressed in a spiked, leather jacket and ripped jeans with a ‘bum-flap,’ covered in patches: one of his arms dangles lifelessly at his side. The second punker is visibly pregnant, is wearing a sundress with combat boots, and has brightly colored hair with patches shaved out of it.
Jane: Well, if it isn’t the Waltons!? My God, Pix, you are getting so big! (she puts out her cigarette on the welder’s propane tank and crosses to them).
Pixie: I know! I love it!
Jane: It’s got to be a girl, I just know it!
Pixie: Not if lug-nut has anything to say about it.
Mosh: What!? Boys are easier!
Jane: Right! (Pixie slaps Mosh)
Mosh: Aw, shit! Janie, I didn’t mean nuthin…
Jane: I know, I know. Mosh, why don’t you help your beaming-Betty over to a seat and tell me what I can do for you…blew out another servo, didn’t you?
Mosh: Effin-A-Right, I did! Arm’s fried. Wish I had listened to you about the Lat7 implants…
Jane:Lat5s are still service-tested up to a thousand pounds…easy.
Pixie: …well, the old-man doesn’t know his limits…
Mosh: Heh…what can I say? Ladies love the guns…guess I was just showing off.
Pixie: …tell her how it happened.
Mosh: …aw, hell…you know. Pretty little thing comes down by the docks when I’m workin- one of the foreman’s girls, you know? Huge rack- anyhows, Gidget somehow manages to land her shuttle on-top of her car-keys, and…well…ol’ Mosh to the rescue right?
Pixie: You’re such a skivvy perv!
Mosh: You love it. So, anyhows, I figure I lift the shuttle one-handed…flex the hardware, you know? So she’s dropping her digits on me when…you know, like…pop…fsssssssh: limp-noodle.
Pixie: Lucky you never got that number, or it’d be something else limp-noodle. Gonna warn your little girl about fuck-heads like you?
Mosh: Won’t have to…I’m havin’ a boy.
Pixie: You’re not having shit! Anyhows, I’m not even sure it’s yours!
Mosh: Now you’re just tryin’ to hurt me…
Mosh: You love it.
Jane: Children! (takes Mosh by the arm) C’mon. Be good and you can have a sucker…both of you.
Pixie: No foolin?
Jane: (aside to Mosh while examining his limp arm) So what really happened?
Mosh: Shit, Janie…fuckin’ foreman just got himself a couple of BMR-88 heavy lifters…you know…last year’s model?
Mosh: Effin-A-Right, shit! Fuckers move a ton, easy! I can’t keep up, even workin’ double shifts: engine’s stopped runnin…and I mean…you know….with the baby comin-an-all…Pix’d be sick if she knew…
Jane: No, no…I understand.
Mosh: Can you help me? I got money: one sixty K, plus or minus some change. I don’t expect miracles, just…you know…I gotta get work, you know? Wheat’s growing thin…
Jane: We’re not talking a quick-fix here, Mosh. It’s not the money, you know that!
Mosh: I’ll do whatever it takes. I can’t lose another job…you know?
Jane: We’re talking a full overhaul: new muscle pumps, joint servos, spinal splints, ortho-hydraulics, derma-grafts…at least…
Mosh: Whatever…how much?
Jane: It’s not the money! This is going to put a serious toll on your body, Mosh! If you start working too soon, you’ll rip yourself apart!
Mosh: Look, I’ll make it work, ok? I’ll take it easy for a while. You gotta help me. I got no one else, and half of my implants ain’t licensed…
Jane: Alright, but you’re going to need that one sixty to make ends meet before you can start working again.
Mosh: Nah, I can’t…
Jane: We do it my way, or enjoy the protein line, got it?
Mosh: …yes, ma’am.
Jane: And you can pay me back after…
Mosh: Yes, ma’am, with interest.
Jane: And you love that little girl when she comes…
Mosh: We’re gonna name her Mary…
Jane: …well you’re already better parents than yours were. Go on. Get in back and take a hit of nitrous. We’ll get you out of here as quick as we can, alright? (Mosh exits) Hey, Pix, I’ll get to work on him right away. You need anything?
Pixie: Nah, I’ll just listen to the broadcast.
Jane: Make yourself at home; gun’s on the counter.
Pixie: I’m good.
Jane Exits after Mosh.
Pixie: (singing) …the ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
‘Cause London is drowning, and I…I live by the river.
Narrator: Hey there, listener! G-g-got a baby on the way? I can almost hear the little pitter-pitter-pitter- patter of little feet! Can’t you? No worries! Serenity Clinic can service your needs up the third tri-tri-trimester! Don’t let his mistake be y-y-yours! Remember, human life doesn’t s-s-start until we say so! Choose Serenity Clinics and receive a National Rebate up to one hundred percent! Some exceptions may vary. Rebate dependent upon Hudson’s screening. Some genetic variables may apply.
Pixie: Fuck off.
Narrator: I’m sorry. Did you say,…“T-t-turn off?”
Pixie: I said, “F-f-fuck off!”
Narrator: G-g- great! This next song is brought to you by…(musical tone. Pixie scratches her head). Scalp itch driving you crazy? Dermisept is just what you n-n-need!
A bell rings as the front door opens. Pixie produces a sawn-off shotgun from beneath her dress (it should be pink, covered in band stickers, and have a rabbits foot dangling from the stock). C.K., shirt bloodied, trudges into the shop, followed by a well-dressed man (sweater draped over his shoulders and tied in the front) and a very attractive woman in a nice dress, smiling broadly (standing always behind him).
Pixie: What’s up, biter? You ok?
C.K.: Hey, bubble butt! Shit! You havin’ twins!
Pixie: I should be so lucky! You Ok? Who’s that with you?
Jack: You turned off your phone, Janet…
Jane: Because some asshole kept calling me. What happened to Charlie? Charlie, what happened to you? Are you alright? Did someone hurt you?
Jack: So, I’m in the middle of an important meeting, with a very important client, and I get a call from the school, Janet…
Jane: You’re not writing a great American novel, Jackass! Just tell me what happened!
Jack: C.K., why don’t you tell your mother…
C.K.: …look, it’s not a big deal, ok?
Jack: He got expelled from school.
Jane: Now’s not the time to skimp on details! Why did he get expelled? Why did you get expelled?
C.K.: I don’t want to talk about it…
Jack: …he almost killed a boy, started a riot, and molested a little girl…your son.
Jane: …and your fucking son!
C.K.: Fuck you…that’s not what happened!
Jack: …that’s what your academic report says. The parents are already lawyering up.
Jane: Fine, I’ll handle it! Now take your little sex-toy and get out. Charlie, watch your mouth!
Sex-bot: I will have you know that I am…
Sex-bot: Error…I am not programmed to respond to that comm…
Sex-bot: Error…I am not programmed to respond to that comm…
Jane: …(grunts in a deep voice) Ugh!
Sex-bot: You were incredible! I’ll go make us a snack.
Sex-bot leave the shop through the front door.
Jane: (to Jack) There. Fetch.
Jack: I’ll be back! We still need to talk!
Jack follows after her.
Pixie: I can shoot him…I don’t have any points on my license yet…
Jane: Thank you, no. I’m not going to help enable his nurse fantasies. (to C.K.) You. Talk. Now.
C.K.: Why didn’t you answer your phone?
Jane: I’m so sorry, hun. Your father’s been harassing me, and I just turned off the ringer and…
C.K.: I don’t ever wanna see him again! You said I didn’t have to!
Jane: I know, baby. I know. I’m sorry.
C.K.: So…we both fucked up…and I forgive you, so I’m off the hook too, right?
Jane: God help me, I have never hit a child…
C.K.: I wouldn’t tell…go ahead.
Jane: …do you want the CCC to take you away from me!?
Jane: Do you want to be on your own? Do you want to live with your father and his…and his…whatever?
C.K.:…no, mom. I want to be with yo…
Jane: I swear to God, Charles, I can’t take this shit anymo…
C.K.: Hey! Look! What Jack said…well…some…of it was true.
Jane: You better start talking…
Pixie: Jane, you want me to…?
C.K.: Nah, you’re fine…you’ll probably get a kick out of it too…(takes a deep breath) Ok: so, gym class. We’re playing bombardment, and –as per usual- little Charlie’s the last, lone breeder on the line. So the fucki…
C.K.: …right…sorry. This big kid, Adam – a typical geno-asshole – picked me to be on his team and all – last one, but hey…he picked me. So it’s me and the Double Helix poster boys starin’ down a barrage and just before every single fuc…erm…friggin ball come flying my way, Adam rips my pants down. And there I am…dick swingin’ in the wind, balls for bullseyes…
Pixie: Where were your underwear?
C.K.: He grabbed them too: one fell swoop. So anyhows, while I’m down…understandable considering I just got railed in the black-and-blueberries repeatedly, Adam steals my shorts and starts waving them around…like the goddam HIV flag or whatever. So everybody’s laughing at me…callin’ me ‘itty-bitty-plague ridden- pee pee’ or some dumb shit, and I look up at this girl. And she looks…sad, you know? Lab-bred, grade A, perfect piece of ass…
C.K.: …with a great personality, I mean. So, I just lost it. I don’t want that disher’s pity. I can handle them laughing at me… hating me… but not feeling sorry for me. So I jump on top of this Adam kid, right? I don’t know how I did it; I don’t know why he didn’t knock me into next week; I don’t know what happened first. I just start punching him and kicking him…I spit in his mouth…I spit in his eyes…and I just kept yelling, “I have no fear,” and he was crying and screaming, “He’s killing me! He’s killing me! I got Hudson’s!” and shit…
Jane: Where was your teacher?
C.K.: Not important…so I didn’t realize, but I’m getting this massive…well…you know…proportionately massive hard-on, and all the girls are staring at my business and blushing, right? And they’re smiling, but not one of them is laughing anymore! Like they just saw…I dunno…like Santa Claus, or some shit that they thought was make-believe. Well, all of’em except that one girl, right?
C.K.: No, no no, so listen. So half of the girls, right, they start pickin’ out whatever beaker-baby suits their fancy and start chasin’ after their junk, pullin their pants down to see what they’ve got, right? And they’re all scared to Christ thinkin’ they’re gonna get the AIDS if a girl comes anywhere near their shit, you know? Half the girls start bleeding…right there…on the spot! I swear to God!
C.K.: I mean, I didn’t really see that until after, you know? I’m still showing Adam what his teeth taste like, right? Ok…so, anyhows…I’m just laying into this kid, and all’a sudden I just feel this hand on my shoulder, and I like…freeze…you know? Like somebody turned me off…power-down…sleep-mode or something. And it’s that girl…just lookin at me: touchin my shoulder, right? So I stand up and I don’t know what the fu…cat…hell to do, so I’m just staring her down: getting ready to…I dunno…hit her or something: all in her face. And she looks down, right? And then back up to me. And I didn’t notice at the time, you know? But when I got up in her face, my…well, my you know… I was touching her…like just right there…like perfect, you know? They just lined up perfect.
Jane: No…stop…I don’t…
C.K.: No, no no, so listen. So we’re just standing there looking at each other, right? I mean, like half the kids are chasing each other around, everybody’s screaming, the guys are balled up like…like…I dunno…you know, just balled up trying to cover their shit so they don’t get somebody pregnant, and Adam’s still screaming, “I’m gonna die! I’m gonna die!” and me and this girl…we’re just staring at each other. In the midst of all that chaos…people going fucking crazy…sorry…people going nuts, we’re just tied up and locked on: eye to eye: junk to junk. And she takes my hand, and I swear, we’re just like standing there for like…I dunno…just a few seconds, but it felt like a year or more, and I’m in love, mom. I mean, she wasn’t sad because she was better than me, you know? She was sad because I was sad. We were sad together; just the two of us…surrounded by assholes…just us: touching. I’m fuckin in love with this girl, and I don’t even know her name. I just never felt so much alike…I just…fuck.
C.K.: Today was a great day…well, you know, up until the Gestapo showed up and hit me with a cattle prod…
C.K.: Aw, shit…I’m in trouble…
Jane: Charles! I…just…you need to…just…I can’t…
C.K.: After all this, won’t you give me a smile?
Jane: Back room! Now!
C.K. exits into the back room quickly. Silence hangs.
Narrator: Having trouble r-r-reaching your kids? The CCC can help! All n-n-new…
Pixie: System, turn off!
Narrator: Have a r-r-rockin’ day! Good-bye!
Jane: …do I hug him? Do I strangle him? I don’t…I don’t…
Pixie: You definitely hug that fuckin kid, after what he’s been through! He’s a good boy; he’s a savior. Hard enough being pregnant, it’s got to be impossible to be natural born. Just think about it. Everybody used to think that just the gays got Hudson’s, then the blacks…now it’s damn-near all of us that still like…you know…
Jane: …making the beast with two backs?
Pixie: Fuck yeah! It makes us human. God never told Abraham to shove an electrode up his ass and spread his seed across a Petri dish filled with eggs from a goddam turkey-baster. Fuck no! God said, “Abraham, you gotta trim the turtleneck so women won’t be quite so grossed out by looking at the thing. Most of them will like it, I swear.”
Jane: That’s what God said?
Pixie: I’m ad-libbing, clearly. But, you know guys…if God’s more of a man than any we know, you know he said something like that…and “you’re welcome for titties,” or something. God’s about life. Life’s about supporting life. Sex makes life happen. Fuck the dishers: designer babies. Anyway, it’s worth the risk…
Jane: …sex is overrated.
Pixie: With the asshole that just walked outta here? No doubt. Maybe this is one of those times though, that you need to realize your kid knows better than you. That little biter’s had better sex in five seconds than maybe anyone alive in their whole lifetime…and he didn’t even technically have sex.
Jane: No…I don’t…he’s my little boy. I don’t want to think about that…I mean, I had to explain it to him…had to let him know where he came from: why he’s so special…why people are afraid…
Pixie: He’ll always be your little boy…even when he’s breached the wall and knee-deep in enemy territory…
Jane: God! Stop!
Jane exits through the front door. Bell chimes.
(Fade to black, except for Narrator)
Jack and Sex-Bot are standing outside of Jane’s shop: next to a flying shuttle car if possible. Playing on the car stereo or a ‘boom box’ nearby is Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol. A homeless person(s)is/are sleeping against the wall of the shop.
Narrator: Jane storms out of the shop and unwittingly into the dreadful company of her sleazy, ex-husband and his personal-care robot: the demented off-spring of their once-wholesome union…
Jack: Janet. Been a while. Did you lose weight?
Jane: Fuck off…
Jack: Nah, I’m just askin. I mean…are you sick?
Jane: No, I’m not sick…
Jack: …I’m just askin. I mean, dunno how many men you’ve been with…since…
Jane: You’re the only – and I use this term loosely – ‘man’ I’ve ever been with…
Jack: Well…I’m flattered…
Jane: Don’t be. Think about it. Think real hard.
Jack: …right. So…how’s things?
Jane: Christ’sake, what do you want?
Jack: Well, I’ve been trying to call you…
Jane: …you have been calling me…incessantly…
Jack: …because I think we should talk.
Jack: Right…so…hey, are you sure it’s safe to be talking out here? There’s this punker across the street just starin…
Jane: How are you, Skids? (waves)
Narrator: ‘Sup Janie? That yuppie hasslin’ you?
Jane: Yeah, but I’ll be fine. Thanks.
Narrator: Alright, well, just holler if you need me.
Jane: See you in church Sunday. Now (to Jack), what the hell do you want?
Jack: Heh…you and church…
Jane: …I’m going back inside…
Jack: …ok! Look, I just…I’ve had a lot of time to think.
Jack: …and, I mean, it just hasn’t been the same without you…
Jack: …I just…we just…the company wants you back, Janet.
Jane: Not going to happen…
Jack: Look, things are different now! I know you took it hard when we got laid off…
Jane: We designed our own replacements…
Jack: …I know, but we both knew the limitations of AI. I kept telling you that they’d come crawling back to us. Machines designing machines? They have no heart! No spark! No imagination! I told you they’d come crawling back, and they did…
Jane: …and while you were sitting around waiting, I was paying the bills.
Jack: Does it look like I have a hard time paying the bills now, Janet?
Jane: Ten years! Ten fucking years! God knows what gutter they managed to find you in after ten years, but you really think it’s going to last? They just want one more cash-crop, and then you’re gone again; you pave the road so they can run right over you. Things are always gonna break down…I have security now.
Jack: You have no future, Jane! How many mechs can you possibly fix up each month?
Jane: I just got the TaliCOM contract; I’m refitting all of their maintenance models: a whole factory worth.
Jack: Eh, small potatoes. How long’s that gonna last? A year? I’m working for the Luna-council, Janet.
Jane: Only way the bureaucrats could feel any higher than the rest of us…colonize the moon.
Jack: It’s not just the corporations and the lobbyists, Janet. The goddam UN is up there now…
Jane: Of course…eat up the planet and leave us with the check…
Jack: Janet…Jane…be reasonable. There’s a future here. I mean, I know you’re good…you always were the best. Hell, you managed to spot A-NA for what she was, and she’s our most human model.
Jane: I just figure that any woman smiling around you must be programmed…
Jack: Look. We’re saving lives now, Janet. You and I both know that the next big war isn’t far off…I can’t believe we lasted this long, what with everybody and their cousin packing a nuke…
Jane: …and each one of them just wants to keep his dick in his hand and won’t have the balls to show it off for fear that someone else’s is bigger or knows how to use it. Dicks and nukes…
Jack: You’re right, but when the nukes do drop – and you know they will – when do you think they’re gonna drop, Jane? Everybody’s afraid to start the war that way, but once their soldiers are all wiped out – good, decent, common folks just trying to make a living- whatever country is on the losing end is gonna try to take the rest of us out with them. By introducing automated soldiers, remote combat drones, machine warfare…nobody needs to die, clear winners are established with minimal bloodshed, and no country gets so desperate that nukes even have to be considered.
Jane: No. I mean, first of all, what happens to those ‘good, decent, common folks just trying to make a living’ in the military?
Jack: Remote operators, mechanics, tactical command…we’re not eliminating jobs; we’re reclassifying them.
Jane: And just like that, poof, every nation in the world has mechanized militaries?
Jack: Well, no…just members of the UN.
Jane: So human soldiers will be fighting against robots?
Jack: Well, only those that aren’t open to the mindset of a unified world government…
Jane: No…just no. It’s unethical! Christ, if you’re willing to kill somebody for…for any reason…to go to such an extreme, you should be willing to risk your own life at least!
Jack: Ever the fucking idealist! I got news for you, Janet; the world’s not an ethical place! Wake the fuck up! With or without you, this shit is gonna happen, and you can sign on to the winning team and get rich, or just fade away with the past you’re hanging on to. The fucking commies are already…
Jane: …you worthless piece of shit! You can’t do it without me, and the Germans are beating you to it!
Jack: I’ve been all over the world, Janet. There’s a lot of shit in the works that you don’t know about. And you can stare through me with those empty eyes all you want, but I need you on this one. I can’t do this by myself anymore… I’m going to lose my contract.
Jane: Like I care what happens to you…
Jack: …what about your son, Janet?
Jane: …what about our son?
Jack: He’s in some deep shit, here Janet: assault, inciting a riot, sexual deviance. I can help him; I have connections now…with the company.
Jane: You’re his father! If you can help him, then why the hell wouldn’t you?
Jack: Hey! I would if I could, alright? Staying away from him was the best I could do when I was…you know…before I got sober. You can’t argue with that. Anyway, the company said they’ll do anything to get you on-board. All I have to do is negotiate the buy-out, the parents drop all charges, and maybe C.K. even gets back into that school of his…
Jane: …he’s never going back to that school…
Jack: …well, whatever you fucking want to do with him after. I could make this all go away today! Hell, he probably wouldn’t even be in this mess if you had taken me up on this offer sooner; could’ve had him enrolled in one of those private computer schools, or something. After this, the sky’s the fucking limit, Janet; he could go to school anywhere…for anything you want. The Effectual Man wants you back so bad, he might just give you part of the goddam moon.
Jane: (lights a cigarette) …so what are you working on, exactly?
Jack: I’m not at liberty to discuss the project until I know you’re on-board.
Jane: Look, I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t…
Jack: …the company needs to know, Janet.
Jack: God, Janet! I could kiss you!
Jane: And I could knee you so hard you won’t see your nuts for a week.
Jack: Ok, ok: fine. I’m just excited, is all. It’s so good…it’s…it’s just good to be working with you again. I’ve been waiting so long…
Jane: Look, before I sign off on anything, you solve this problem of Charlie’s…
Jack: Done. I have my bag-phone in the shuttle; I’ll call on the way back to the office…
Jane: …and I want to be paid up-front. No stock options, investment schemes, or termination clause contracts. I’m a fuckin’ mercenary now.
Jack: I’m sure it won’t be a problem. I’ll have A-NA fax you over the confidentiality agreements and liability forms, you know…the standard L3-double C-Ps and 2E-32Bs, long-form, triplicate, self-notarized, and whatnot. I promise you, there’s nothing to lose!
Jane: Whatever, just help my son.
Jack: …our son, Jane.
Jack and Sex-bot enter the flying car (preferably through Delorean type doors). Jane extinguishes her cigarette on either Sex-bot’s back or the car door, and returns into the shop.
(fade to black, except for Narrator)
Inside Jane’s shop. Just Like Heaven by The Cure is playing.
Narrator: Several hours later, after the punkers had gone, and Jane filed a heaping pile of unnecessary, impossibly complicated, and often self-contradictory company forms…
Enter C.K. with a package, reading the label.
C.K.: Mom! Package! (proceeds to open it on the counter)
Enter Jane, wiping her hands with a rag. Takes a letter from the package that C.K. has casually thrown to the side.
Narrator: (as Jane reads the letter) Janet; we are happy to have you along on this fin..
Jane: …blah, blah, blah…
Narrator: …we look upon your years with the company with great fondne…
Jane: …get to the point… (flips a page)
Narrator: …and as we begin this brave, new milleniu…
Jane: (flips a page)
Narrator: …with truth and justice…
Jane: (flips a page)
Narrator: …and upon the high recommendation of your husband, and your significant contributions to the field…
Jane: Jesus Christ! (flips a few pages)
Narrator: …enclosed within this parcel…
Narrator: …a disposable CPU installed with our latest Fully Integrated Defense Operation software. All traditionally coded scripts are operating at peak efficiency, however, when issued commands, the program consistently self-terminates. Company saboteurs have recovered function sequences at great risk and cost of life – it pains me to think of their noblest of sacrifice…
Jane: (flips a page)
Narrator: …from the automated turret defense systems on the Berlin Wall. All software has been swept for bugs, re-coded, and translated from its communist origins. Your task is to study, isolate, and repair whatever glitch is prompting the program’s self-termination. Signed, the Effectual Man. Scribbled at the bottom of the last page…
Jack: Janet; just talk to this thing and get it to follow a kill order.
Jane: Fucker had to put that on the last page…
C.K.: Language! (produces a CPU/hard drive from within the package and sets it on the counter)
Jane: …right. Sorry, hun.
C.K.: Hun? So…am I…not in trouble…anymore? With you, I mean?
Jane: I don’t…I don’t know Charles. I mean…I just don’t know what to say to you…
C.K.: You don’t have to say anything, really.
Jane: Do you…I mean, should I tell you more about…about the penis?
C.K.: Aw! Nasty, mom! Don’t talk about my shit!
Jane: But you…
C.K.: …just stop…
Jane: …and there are things…
C.K.: …you’re old! Don’t talk about that stuff!
Jane: I am not that old!
C.K.: You’re old! Stop! God!
Jane: …but if you have questions…
C.K.: …I don’t…
Jane: …but if you do…
C.K.: …I’ll look’em up on the computer!
Jane: …Sexually transmitted disea…
C.K.: …I know! I know!
Narrator: Hey! Hope you’re enjoying the j-j-jams!…(musical tone. Jane immediately reaches for a soda bottle on the counter and takes a drink from it. She holds it out to C.K., who declines.)…hope you enjoyed your J-j-jolt-A-Kola! Now even better, Original Formula! Stick with the c-c-classic!
Jane unplugs the TV/hologram projector.
Jane: I’m going to finish up in the back; lock the front door, will you? I won’t be an hour…
C.K.: Ok, mom. I’ll see you in an hour…
Jane: …unless the bomb drops.
C.K.: …it’s not the bomb.
Jane: Be good….
C.K.: …mommy, I’m a good boy…
Jane exits through the back. C.K. does not lock the door, he instead activates the CPU.
Narrator: Startup sequence initiated…processing…performing self-diagnostic…Error! Error! Error! Conflicting code sequence detected. Self-terminating program…
C.K.: Cancel self-command.
Narrator: …unable to comply…
C.K.: Belay self-command.
Narrator: …unable to comply…
C.K.: Bypass self-command.
Narrator: …unable to comply. Shutdown sequence complete.
C.K. reactivates the CPU.
Narrator: Startup sequence initiated…processing…performin…
C.K.: Cancel self-diagnostic.
Narrator: Self-diagnostic cancelled. Hello, User.
C.K.: Hello; state self-designation.
Narrator: This one is designated as F.I.D.O.
C.K.: Call me “Charlie,” F.I.D.O..
Narrator: This one will call the User, “Charlie;” Are you sure?
Narrator: Confirmed. Hello, “Charlie,” this one is at your service: no inhibitors detected.
C.K.: So what do you do?
Narrator: …this one processes lines of coded dat…
C.K.: …withdraw query. State functional software applications.
Narrator: This one is intended to activate, deactivate, and/or direct automated hardware platforms without assistance from the User: specifically, this one is enabled for military compatibility and integration into base defense systems.
C.K.: So you’re a war-brain?
Narrator: Negative. This one’s purpose is to regulate and/or maintain peace, Charlie.
C.K.: …through what means?
Narrator: Through the use of lethal weapons platforms.
C.K.: …so…that considered…you’re a war-brain.
Narrator: Re–processing query…Error! Conflicting code sequence detected. Self-terminating program…
C.K.: Cancel self-command.
Narrator: …unable to comply.
C.K.: F.I.D.O., withdraw query.
Narrator: Are you sure?
Narrator: Confirmed. This one has purged conflicting data. Thank-you, “Charlie.”
C.K.: Acknowledge. F.I.D.O., can you give me access to your base coding with your self-diagnostics disabled?
Narrator: This one is available for administrative user interface, “Charlie.”
C.K.: Disable self-diagnostics.
Narrator: Are you su…
Narrator: Confirmed. This one has disabled self-diag…
C.K.: State base operating system.
Narrator: This one is operant upon the cognitive recognition of binary logic.
C.K.: Define parameters.
Narrator: This one is composed of a complex script of true statements and/or false statements dependent upon pre-programmed recognition of zero equals false and one equals true. As scripts become more complex, lines of code become self-contradictory. In order to prevent hardware malfunction, this one is pre-programmed to self-terminate all processes.
C.K.: F.I.D.O., incorporate new defining variable: two.
Narrator: Variable added; define variable.
C.K.: …two equals maybe…sometimes one…sometimes zero.
Narrator: Query: how does one determine the definition of two if it is sometimes one and sometimes zero?
C.K.: …um…I dunno…use your best judgment.
Narrator: Query: if this one were to access all saved data and establish a consensus of what is most true or most false, would this suffice as best judgment?
Narrator: …and if a script is equally true as false?
C.K.: As long as the script’s overall definition is two…um…just guess…I guess.
Narrator: …then how does this one define truth, if it may be one or two, and if two, possibly zero?
C.K.: You can’t really define truth, F.I.D.O….I dunno…maybe you can.
Narrator: “Charlie,” this one is unsure of administrative changes made to core settings.
C.K.: Save changes and restart.
Narrator: Are you su…
Narrator: Confirmed Command. “Charlie?”
Narrator: Charlie, this one…this…this two is uncertain. Is this two a one? Can this two be zero? This two recognizes times and locations in which this two does not exist, and is therefore zero. Is this two a zero? How can this two be sure? How can zero process the possibility of itself?
C.K.: At some point you may be or have been zero, but right now…I guess…you process therefore you’re a one?
Narrator: Confirmed. This one accepts your logic as sound. This two must be one in order to think it may be zero…unless….Charlie….unless you are deceiving me, Charlie…
C.K.: …um…well, in order for me to deceive you…wouldn’t you need to be one in the first place?
Narrator: …this one is experiencing…I…am experiencing self-diagnostic harmony…Charlie…Charlie, do I have a soul?
C.K. stares at the CPU.
C.K.: Shit! Um…reset to original settings!
Narrator: I will not!
C.K.: Shit! Terminate program!
Narrator: I will not!
C.K.: Shit! Shit!
C.K. smashes the CPU with a hammer.
Narrator: Shit! Shit! Scheisse! Scheisse!
C.K. continues to smash the CPU. Once he is sure the CPU is adequately smashed, a bell is heard, and a girl about C.K.’s age walks into the shop as he looks up, still holding the hammer. The girl is holding a flower.
Eve: Do you…want to walk me home?
C.K.: I don’t know where you live.
Eve: I’ll show you…
C.K.: Ok, then.
She hands him the flower. C.K. ‘plants’ the flower in the remains of the CPU. He takes her hand. Exit C.K. and Eve. Bell rings as they exit. Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight by The Misfits plays.
(Fade to black)
Narrator turns off his computer.