Mudsock Theater Of The Mind Pt. 1
The Travels of Omar and Butch, Episode 1
Note: Ever since I was a child and heard my first broadcasts of "The Shadow" and "Suspense" on Sunday nights on WAVA FM (back in the late 70's, when it was an AOR station) I've dreamed of doing my own radio show. Working towards that end, I've written three scripts. These are rough drafts, to be sure, so if anything doesn't make sense I apologize but some things are being worked out. Unlike a novel, a radio show is a collaborative effort and some things will be changed once there is a cast people actually become the characters. Some things I had planned to do but the characters wouldn't let me! Some of you writers know exactly what I'm talking about. In any case, I hope you enjoy! BTW: Mudsock used to be the name of Fishers, IN. Guess where I live?
The Travels of Omar and Butch
Episode 1: Women of Mars Station
Omar: Hello, everybody. My name is Omar. My friend Butch and I are travelers, adventurers if you will. We travel around, here and there, looking for people to help and adventures to join in. Sometimes we don’t have to look for adventure, sometimes it finds us.
Sound FX: Wind and rain
Butch: Omar, where are we?
Omar: About two miles outside of Mars Station.
Butch: Mars Station? How on Earth did we wind up there?
Butch: Oh yeah, one of my unintentional funnies. All right, so tell me why we’re heading for Mars Station, then?
Omar: If I knew that, we probably wouldn’t be going there.
Butch: Right. I hate you.
Omar: Good thing you don’t mean that.
Butch: Yeah, good thing.
Sound FX: Lightning, rain is heavier.
Omar: We’d been walking for a while, we were both bone tired. Mars Station was literally the last stop on the way to the Middle of Nowhere. Very few people ever visited Mars Station for that reason, so although many people had heard of it, few people knew anything about it. Even though Butch and I were both decked out in full rain gear, it had been raining so long and so hard that we were both soaked to the bone. We were both hungry but didn’t dare open our packs, which had some delicate equipment in them. No one knows why it’s called Mars Station; it’s up in the middle of the mountains, surrounded by trees and rocks. It takes a rugged and possibly not very bright person to make it up there. We’d been walking through mud and water, up the narrow trail that led into town. The place is so small that we literally were in the middle of it before we realized we’d reached it. A row of low, wooden buildings that looked like they’d seen more water than the bottom of the ocean. And when we got to the middle of the street, if you could call it that, we were noticed.
Butch: Omar, notice anything a little, strange, about all the people coming out of the shops?
Omar: You mean that they’re all women? Does that really bother you?
Old Woman: (A little distant) Men! Men!
Butch: And that bothers me even more.
Omar: You were always such a worry wart.
Butch: Yeah, about that. See the group of people coming toward us down the street?
Omar: The ones you can barely make out under their wide-brimmed hats and shrouded in their coats?
Butch: Yeah, them.
Omar: If this were a movie, they would turn out to be beautiful women come to buy us beers.
Butch: If this were a movie they would pull double-barrel shotguns on us and march us to the edge of a cliff.
Omar: (Laughs) You are a stick in the mud!
Butch: I just don’t want to get stuck in this mud. Permanently.
Sound FX: Lightning cracks
Janet4: What’s your business in Mars Station, gentlemen?
Butch: Ask him, he’s my travel agent.
Omar: Just passing through, ma’am.
Janet4: No one ever passes through Mars Station.
Omar: Then I guess there’s a first time for everything. If you’ll let us pass, we’ll be on our way.
Sound FX: Hammer click.
Janet4: I don’t think so. You need to come with us and answer a few questions.
Butch: Well at least it’s a pistol and not a shotgun.
Omar: I’m sorry, ma’am, are you the Sherriff?
Janet4: This here’s my badge.
Omar: Ma’am, with all due respect…
Old Woman: And here’s my badge!
Butch: And there’s the shotgun! Perfect!
Omar: As the rain, which already was poring down hard enough to kill a deer, seemed to get heavier, the group walked us up the street. We knew that two of them were women from their voices, it seemed safe to assume the other two were, since we’d still hadn’t seen any men.
Butch: So what’s the big plan this time, Omar?
Omar: Will you calm down? We still don’t know who needs help here or what they need help with.
Butch: At the moment we’re the ones who need help. There’s two guns at least trained on us and one doesn’t have to be terribly accurate to do a lot of damage.
Omar: Relax, no one’s going to shoot us.
Butch: And you’re so sure of this because…?
Omar: If they were going to do it, they’d have done it by now.
Butch: There’s air-tight logic!
Omar: No one’s shot us yet, have they?
Butch: I really hate you!
Omar: Yeah, whatever. Hey, keep up!
Butch: That’s easy for you to say, the mud is getting deeper here. Hey!
Butch: My boot! Something’s got my boot! It’s trying to pull me down!
Old Woman: Jan! This one’s sinking!
Janet4: Oh no! Quick everyone, grab him!
Omar: I’ve got him!
Janet4: I’ve got an arm!
Old Woman: Come here, young man!
Janet3: Let’s get him to the saloon!
Omar: We managed to half-drag/half-carry Butch over to the Martian Dry Valley Saloon. I was just able to make out the sign during a lightning flash. It was quite a job to get him free from the mud. To his credit he didn’t panic, which until that moment I wasn’t sure about him. It almost did feel like something was grabbing him by the boot.
Janet4: Get him over to a table! Can we get him a drink?
Butch: Got any beer?
Janet4: Get him a beer! (pause) Hey, what’s with you?
Old Woman: Sorry, it’s just been a while since anyone asked me to get a man a beer!
Omar: The woman brought a glass mug of a dark liquid which Butch took a healthy swallow from. Then he made a face.
Butch: It’s flat!
Old Woman: Sorry, dear! Don’t get too many shipments up here!
Janet4: So, you two gents got handles?
Omar: Well, I’m Omar, and my partner over here likes to be called Butch.
Omar: And what can we call you?
Old Woman: Just call me “Old Woman.” Everyone else does. Don’t know if I even remember my name.
Janet4: My name’s Janet, and so’s the name of the girl over there.
Janet4: Since I’m the youngest of four women named Janet in this town, I go by Janet4.
Janet3: I’m Janet3.
Butch: Nice to meet you.
Janet3: Oh, and so polite, too!
Butch: Well, now that I’ve established my reputation, I’m going to get a little rude.
Janet4: What do you mean?
Omar: He means that we were brought here for a reason, and we need to get to what it is, starting with why there are no men in this town.
Janet4: Brought here? Someone brought you here? Where are they?
Omar: I apologize; I didn’t mean that someone literally brought us here.
Janet3: Then what do you mean, dear?
Butch: He means that he receives instructions from someone named Barker, and this time they sent us here.
Janet4: Really? That’s interesting!
Butch: Yeah, interesting. You know, this brew isn’t bad except for the flatness.
Old Woman: Thank you!
Sophie: So just what does Barker send you here for?
Butch: That’s a good question.
Omar: I’m not sure.
Janet4: Come again?
Omar: What I mean is that all Barker usually tells me is that someone at a certain place needs help and I have to go there.
Janet4: You said “I.” What does Butch here do?
Butch: Mostly grumble and mope.
Janet4: I’m sorry to hear that.
Butch: Don’t be, it’s actually Omar’s line.
Omar: Yes, he just beat me to it this time.
Janet4: I see. So tell me, do you think that anyone here at Mars Station needs help?
Old Woman: Honey, everyone at Mars Station needs help! (Everybody laughs.)
Omar: Well, to be honest, I don’t know. Although it was hard not to notice a certain lack of, shall we say, hairy-chestedness around here. (Women all laugh)
Janet4: If you only knew!
Butch: I guess.
Omar: So, where are all the men?
Janet4: Can I get a scotch, Old Woman?
Old Woman: Coming right up!
Omar: Old Woman brought Janet4 two fingers of scotch in a rather large glass. She took it in one gulp, then sat and studied the glass. Butch and I, we just sat and waited for her to start talking.
Janet4: On the other side of that mountain you trudged up to get here is a cliff.
Butch: That goes down to a valley?
Janet4: That goes down to a pit. That pit is actually a mine.
Omar: A mine? What could people be digging out of the earth around here?
Old Woman: Platinum!
Butch: (Skeptically) Platinum? Really?
Janet4: Yes, and that’s where all the men went to.
Omar: To dig out the platinum?
Janet4: Yes, that’s about the size of it.
Omar: Don’t they come back into town for supplies and to see their wives and sweethearts?
Janet4: No, they haven’t set foot in this town for over a year.
Janet3: Honest, we’re not even sure they’re still alive!
Butch: If you don’t mind my asking, how do you women make enough money to order supplies?
Sophie: Do you hear that?
Janet4: Oh no!
Omar: What’s going on, luv?
Old Woman: The rain has stopped!
Pause for silence
Butch: I would think you people would be glad if the rain stopped.
Old Woman: No, dear! Every time the rain stops, he appears!
Janet3: How soon do you think he’ll get here?
Omar: Who, luv? Who’s coming? One of the men?
Morgan: No, not one of the men.
Omar: Butch and I whirled around to see him standing in the door of the saloon. He wasn’t too tall but he wasn’t too short, either. He was dressed head to toe in black, but not in rain gear. His boots were caked with mud but his trousers and coat were immaculate. He had the sort of face that let you know a man had seen a lot of living, no matter how old he was, and his hair was just a little too long. I looked over at Butch, but he was looking at the women. They were all looking away from the man, with looks of fear on their faces. They were scared to death of this man. I looked back at him, sizing him up the way he had been sizing up me and Butch, and although he certainly looked like he could take care of himself he didn’t seem like the kind of homme you avoided unless you couldn’t help it. Walking over toward the two of us, he took a cigar out of his inner coat pocket and a match out of his vest pocket. He struck the match against the side of a table and took a while making sure his cigar was lit. Still looking us over, he took a pair of cherutes out of his coat and offered them to us.
Butch: No thanks, I don’t smoke.
Omar: I’ll take one. Thank you kindly.
Morgan: You’re certainly polite, I respect that.
Omar: Well, my mother certainly taught me well.
Morgan: Quite. I respect that as well. My name is Morgan.
Omar: He offered us both his right hand, which we shook in turn.
Butch: Mr. Morgan, it’s nice to meet you.
Morgan: Please, just call me Morgan. Everybody does. Old Woman, a scotch for me. Do you drink scotch, Mr., ah…?
Omar: Omar, and yes, that will be fine.
Morgan: And would you like your drink refreshed, Mr…?
Butch: Butch, and yeah, that would be great.
Morgan: And Old Woman…
Old Woman: Yes, Morgan?
Morgan: Give him a glass from the private stock.
Old Woman: Yes sir.
Morgan: And would you two gentlemen like a bite of food? Never mind, I can see by your faces that you’re both hungry. Janet3, get the men something from the back, would you?
Janet3: Yes sir.
Omar: While the Old Woman brought the liquor over, Morgan lit my cigar. It was really quite nice, except that the women were all on edge and Morgan was the only man we’d seen the entire time we’d been in Mars Station.
Morgan: So, gentlemen, what brings the two of you to our humble little waystation?
Butch: Would you believe we just stumbled into town?
Morgan: (Chuckles) No. No one ever has stumbled into Mars Station.
Janet4: And no one ever stumbles out, either.
Omar: Morgan’s head snapped around when she said it, but she was looking away from him, and I couldn’t really tell what he was thinking.
Morgan: Really, why are you here?
Omar: To offer help.
Morgan: Really? I wasn’t especially aware that anyone needs it here. Who are you here to help?
Omar: I don’t really know.
Morgan: That’s interesting.
Butch: He gets word from some guy named Barker that someone needs help and where we’re supposed to go to. Then we go.
Morgan: And this, Barker, sent you here? To Mars Station? But presumably he didn’t tell you who this someone is who needs help?
Omar: That would about sum it up, yes.
Morgan: Interesting. Well, gentlemen, I hope you enjoy your food, and since it’s getting on towards evening, I assume you’ll need a place to sleep. The saloon has a few rooms on the upper floor, take your pick, I’m sure you’ll find they’re all quite clean and comfortable.
Omar: And with that he stood up and left. I looked over at Butch, but again he was looking at the women. They were scattered around the large room, none of them looking at us. The Old Woman had apparently lit a cigarette because one was burning in an ashtray on the bar. Then Janet3 appeared with two plates, steak and potatoes. She set them down in front of us, smiled when she realized that Morgan was no longer about, then whisked herself back out of the room.
Butch: Hmm, not bad flavor.
Omar: Yeah, surprising. I wouldn’t think any cows you could find around here would make good steak.
Butch: It’s been frozen. May have been sitting for quite some time.
Omar: Which does bring up the question of where they even are keeping a freezer around here? This place wouldn’t seem to have that level of technology.
Butch: Not really. Dig a hole, ice will probably keep in it. We’re high enough up, any water you get is going to be naturally cold and pretty clean.
Omar: Yes, but where do they get the ice?
Omar: The man with all the answers.
Butch: Not all. For instance, why would Old Woman light a cigarette she isn’t smoking?
Omar: Excuse me?
Butch: I didn’t see her light it, did you?
Omar: No. What, do you have superior peripheral vision?
Omar: That’s good to know.
Butch: Look, I’m tired. Let’s get our rooms and go to bed.
Omar: Really? All right. Listen.
Sound FX: Rain
Butch: Rain started up again.
Omar: Yeah, glad we don’t have to go out in it again.
Butch: You and me both. And my boot.
Omar: Just as we were standing up to go to our rooms, Janet4 came over and sat down, so we sat as well.
Janet4: You two are going out to the mine tomorrow.
Omar: That didn’t sound like a question.
Janet4: It’s not, we all know you’re going to.
Butch: Don’t you want us to? Don’t you want to know how the men are doing?
Janet4: Yes, but be careful!
Omar: Not that we don’t appreciate the concern, but why?
Janet4: None of us have heard from any of the men in over a year. We don’t know what’s going on over there. Be caful! And one more thing.
Omar: What’s that?
Janet4: Please hurry back! Sometimes when Morgan is here…
Butch: What, Janet? What about Morgan?
Old Woman: Things happen! (Thunder crack) Terrible things!
Butch: Like what?
Janet4: Just please, hurry back!
Omar: We thanked Janet4 and headed up to our rooms. I tried to pay for the food and drink but was assured that it was on the house. The next morning, although it was difficult to tell, Butch knocked on my door and woke me up.
Butch: Come on Omar, time to go.
Omar: What, did you bring a clock I don’t know about?
Butch: Only the one inside my head. Get up, sleepyhead!
Omar: I washed up and dressed, went downstairs but we didn’t see anybody. Without breakfast or even coffee, we set out. As we trudged up the hill, through the mud, Butch started talking.
Butch: None of the women ate anything.
Omar: Back to that again, are we?
Butch: Sort of. I just thought it was odd that none of the women would have a drink with us.
Omar: What, you take a fancy to Janet?
Butch: Which one?
Butch: Not really. But Old Woman certainly seemed like the kind to sit and have a drink.
Omar: Age before beauty, eh?
Butch: Only when you go first. The women are rather strong, aren’t they?
Omar: What is that supposed to mean?
Butch: Well, you certainly had trouble helping me out of the mud yesterday, didn’t you?
Omar: What are you getting at, Butch?
Butch: Me? Oh, nothing. Just thinking out loud.
Omar: Happily for me he stopped thinking out loud until we got to a point several miles up where the rain had stopped and the landscape dropped. We carefully made out way down a hillside what was steep, rocky, but still wet and a little muddy in spots. After a bit we found an outcropping that let us see what was going on. It was a mine all right, and there were several men down there, going in or bringing rocks out. We sat and watched them for a little while.
Butch: Don’t say much do they?
Omar: What all do they need to say? They’re here to mine, not a lot of talking involved.
Butch: Do you smell that?
Omar: (Sniffs) Yes, faintly. What is it? Smells like rotten eggs.
Butch: Gas, hydrogen sulfide.
Omar: Must be pretty strong if we can smell it up here.
Butch: Yes, and that’s a problem.
Omar: What do you mean?
Butch: Hold it, (pause) we got company.
Omar: At that moment I hard a sound behind us and turned just in time to see a man holding an impossibly large rock getting ready to bash my head in. While Butch ran around behind the man, I kicked out at him, trying to knock him over. It felt like kicking a wall, and my leg was in great pain as I fell backwards on the ground, my head on the wrong side of the outcropping. The man had no expression on his face as he lifted the large rock over his head. Then Butch came running up and slammed into the man with all his might, which sent the man, still clutching the rock, over the outcropping. Just in time I managed to roll out of the way. We looked down at the man, who wasn’t moving.
Butch: Notice something?
Omar: No blood?
Butch: Hold on a moment, let me get the Examiner out of the pack.
Omar: You don’t mean we’re going down there, do you?
Butch: Blame Barker. Come on.
Omar: Butch had gotten the Examiner out and switched it on.
Butch: Battery’s a little low.
Omar: If it’s good for now, let’s go.
Butch: Wrap a rag around your mouth and don’t breath any more than you have to, it’s dangerous down there.
Omar: But we’re going?
Butch: Yeah, like you’re one to talk.
Omar: We climbed down from the outcropping and, after checking that all the men were in the mine at that moment, slid over to the man on the ground. I tried to turn him over but he was too heavy for me to move. Butch helped me, and then I saw the look on Butch’s face. His suspicions were apparently confirmed, there were wires sticking out of the man’s jaw line and one eye had been beaten away to reveal an optical synthesizer module. The rotten egg smell was getting overpowering so close to the mine entrance. I looked at Butch, who shrugged at me, then showed me the Examiner reading that levels of gas were too high to safely be around. We got out of there as fast as we could, but as soon as we were back to the outcropping we stopped to catch our breath.
Omar: So how long have you suspected all this?
Butch: I don’t know. Things just didn’t add up.
Omar: You know what we need to do now, don’t you?
Butch: Yeah, but give me a break, let me catch my breath. Besides, I’m not looking forward to going back into the rain.
Omar: After we caught our breath, we slowly made our way back up the rocks to the top of the hill. By the time we were back to the top, the rain was flogging down as hard as ever. The mud was so thick in the middle of the path that a few times I thought something was latching onto me!
Omar: Look, mate, it’s thick mud but don’t hang spaghetti from my ears, right?
Omar: We made it back into Mars Station close to night, again. This time we avoided the middle of the street and headed straight back to the saloon. Before we got there, we were surprised to see Old Woman standing on the porch, wringing her hands and looking worried.
Butch: Ma’am? Are you all right?
Old Woman: He’s in there!
Old Woman: Yes, Morgan! He’s sitting in there, just smoking one of his cigars and drinking his scotch!
Omar: I started to ask what was wrong with that, but she started mumbling to herself and ran off. I looked over at Butch.
Omar: I’m not catching it, what’s wrong?
Butch: Don’t you remember?
Old Woman: (flashback) No, dear! Every time the rain stops, he appears!
Omar: So do you think this means trouble?
Butch: Maybe. It probably means another frozen steak.
Omar: We walked in and saw Morgan’s back. He was sitting at a table, smoking a cigar. A scotch was in front of him, and in front of two other seats were another scotch, a beer and two steaks.
Morgan: Gentlemen, won’t you please come have dinner with me?
Omar: We walked over and took the chairs. I looked over at Morgan, who had a plate in front of him that had obviously had a steak on it not too long ago. I looked over at Butch, who was already cutting into his steak.
Butch: Gets cold quick, can’t let it go too long.
Morgan: Very good, Butch. So men, any news from the front?
Omar: What you mean?
Morgan: I assume that you’ve been to see the mine. Come, come, don’t try to deny it, the dust down there has a particular reddish tint that the rain can’t wash away.
Omar: Yeah, we went to the mine.
Morgan: Any, ah, excitement there?
Butch: Well, one of the men tried to kill Omar.
Morgan: Thankfully he didn’t succeed.
Omar: I’m certainly thankful.
Morgan: So it’s safe to assume that you’ve discovered our little secret?
Butch: Not sure who you mean by “us.” There seems to be only you.
Morgan: I prefer not to think in such terms.
Butch: Let me see if I’ve got this right: Mars Station used to be a mining town.
Morgan: It still is.
Omar: Technically, yes.
Butch: But there’s a problem.
Morgan: Yes, the gas.
Butch: I’m guessing that it wasn’t always so bad.
Morgan: No, nor was there always the rotten egg smell.
Butch: Ah! So you didn’t have canaries.
Morgan: Didn’t think to. We were all amateurs, none of us thought of all the things we would need.
Omar: Until it was too late.
Morgan: The men got sick, some of them succumbed before we realized what was happening.
Butch: What about you?
Morgan: I was here in town when the last of the men died. You see, the gas was fogging all our brains, and mine cleared up when I came into town for some food and picks. The last of the men left at that point had become convinced that they needed to keep working the mine for survival, and I found them dead at the mouth of the cave.
Omar: That explains the men, but what about the women?
Morgan: I see you’ve surmised about them as well.
Butch: Actually, I suspected them first. But again, why the women?
Morgan: Well, the actual women had been the wives and sweethearts of the miners. When the men all died, they left. As you can probably deduce, Mars Station is not really suited to become a farming or ranching community.
Omar: But why keep all this up? When it was clear that the mine wasn’t safe for anyone, why not just pack it in your own self?
Omar: Yeah, but come on!
Morgan: No, your young friend has guessed correctly. Not just because platinum is so immensely valuable, but because it’s such an excellent conductor.
Omar: I’m not following.
Butch: The mechanical men need power, but it needs to be conserved.
Morgan: Very good. Platinum is such a good electrical conductor that it made sense to use it for the men (pause) and the women.
Butch: I assume the women were because you got lonely.
Morgan: Yes. Man was created to be with other humans, and men were created to be with women.
Omar: I think I’m getting this. May I?
Butch: Be my guest, steak’s getting cold anyway.
Omar: But since you only needed the men to do mining, you didn’t worry about emotions for them, or even vocal boxes.
Morgan: Yes, but since I did for the women, they were much trickier.
Omar: Which is why they’re scared of you and say that bad things happen when you come around.
Morgan: Yes, because I will take one of them back to my underground laboratory to fine tune them.
Butch: Which is also why you wait for the rare moments when the rain stops.
Morgan: Yes. Well, you gentlemen have figured me out, I see.
Morgan: I assume I’m the one this, Barker, sent you here to help.
Omar: No, I don’t think so.
Omar: Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re a bit cracked. You should take the platinum down the mountain and live like a king. But I assume the reason the mechanical man tried to kill me was some old program to keep people out. Otherwise, you don’t seem like you’re out to kill anyone, you could probably have taken us out easily enough.
Morgan: Then who are you here for?
Omar: Butch was looking at the door of the saloon. I turned to see. While we’d been talking, Old Woman had come in silently. I nodded at her. A couple of hours later, we were walking down the mountain with Old Woman, away from Mars Station and out of the rain.
Old Woman: Is it true? Will I get to live out my last days away from the rain and that, that…
Butch: Yes, Old Woman.
Omar: By the way, luv, are you sure you don’t remember your name?
Old Woman: I think I do, though I can’t tell you whether it’s my first or last, dear.
Butch: What is it?
Old Woman: German, I think. It’s Sonne.
Sound FX: Rain poring steadily.
This has been the Travels of Omar and Butch. Episode 1, Women of Mars Station was written by Chris Neal and performed by Mudsock Theatre of the Mind. Thank you, and good evening.
copyright (C) 2012 christopher w neal all rights reserved