PRAGUE TO NEW ORLEANS VIA UFO
A RADIO PLAY
BY VINCENT FARNSWORTH
PRAGUE TO NEW ORLEANS VIA UFO
PENELOPE, an American in Prague
JAN, Penelope's Czech husband
FRANCINE, Penelope's mother
(Penelope as a child)
BANCROFT MASGRAVE, Francine's husband & Penelope's father
(an American guy)
Sakra is a common exclamation in Czech
Potraviny means small store in Czech
A beignet is a famous New Orleans pastry
SCENE 1 (AN ARGUMENT IS IN PROGRESS)
PENELOPE: But we came to Prague so you could study Egyptology!
JAN: (SPEAKS IN CZECH-ACCENTED, BROKEN ENGLISH) Shhh. Don't waking the baby. ...I know how you feel, Penny, I don't like either New Orleans. But this discovery is the opportunity we were waiting for.
PENELOPE: N'Orleans is a place you hate to leave. And then it's a place you hate to go back to.
JAN: Is it something about your father?
PENELOPE: Don't mention my father!
JAN: We've delayed this off long enough. You father dying with those strange circumstances, that-
PENELOPE: There's nothing strange about a swamp fire! The roots are wet and the water is wet but the trees are dry. The top of them are.
JAN: Did your father-
(SOUND OF A MOBILE PHONE INCOMING SMS SIGNAL)
PENELOPE: I'm not going back to New Orleans.
(MOBILE PHONE KEYPAD BEEPING SOUNDS, A BABY CRYING)
JAN: I have to go now.
JAN: Professor Tvrdskrtik wants to discuss this major finding.
PENELOPE: On Saturday?
JAN: Where is my Egyptian Book of the Dead?
PENELOPE: It's in the baby crib.
JAN: And where is my map of New Orleans? It was right here.
PENELOPE: Lost, I guess.
JAN: I'm sorry, you dear, I go now.
PENELOPE: We “delay things off” when you want to.
(A DOOR SLAM. PAUSE, THEN DOORBUZZER)
PENELOPE: Who the-- er, (USING CZECH PRONUNCIATION) Moment!
PENELOPE: Mother! Wha-What are you-
FRANCINE: Penelope! Aren't you happy to see me? Where's my grandchild?
PENELOPE: Of course I'm happy, it's just--how did you get in the building?
FRANCINE: Some nerdy creep held the door open.
PENELOPE: That was Jan.
FRANCINE: Yawn? Yawn? Oh that's right, Yawn. What kind of name is that anyway? Is it a nickname because he's boring? Yeee-aawwnn.
PENELOPE: You haven't even met him and already-
FRANCINE: Oh come on, laugh. Ha ha!
FRANCINE: There's the baby! How are you? Yes! (FURNITURE HINGE SOUND) You call this a baby crib?
(LOTS OF BABY TALK IN BACKGROUND)
PENELOPE: It was Jan's when he was a child.
FRANCINE: Yeah but wasn't his father a torturer for the KGB?
PENELOPE: It wasn't called the KGB here and... (sighs)
FRANCINE: (TO BABY) Yes! So big! Aren't you? Aren't you? (TO PENELOPE) I brought some Mardi Gras beads. They put beads on me in the nursery!
PENELOPE: I saw the photos. It's such a surprise, you being here--
FRANCINE: I saw your cousin Louise last week. She says hello.
PENELOPE: How is she. How is Joe.
FRANCINE: Fine. Fine.
PENELOPE: And little Bassy, and Mary and Terry and...damn.
FRANCINE: Dana and Hugo, fine.
FRANCINE: (TO BABY) Only one of you, though! Yes!
PENELOPE: So, what made you come to Prague all of a sudden.
FRANCINE: I have come to bring you back to N'Orleans.
SCENE TWO (STREET SOUNDS, PRAGUE)
AMERICAN GUY: ...Like, you know, the Golem or something?
JAN: No, I don't believe in the Golem. You think we are country of bumpkins?
AMERICAN GUY: Then what do you think it is? Nazi treasure? Sweet!
JAN: Exactly I think it's what they think. It's an Egyptian sarcophagus, under the water of a New Orleans bayou.
AMERICAN GUY: That's weird. If I had a newspaper I would write an article about that.
JAN: I didn't call for you to broadcast it! I need to go to the United States fast, before anyone else could find it.
AMERICAN GUY: That'll be difficult. And expensive.
JAN: And removing that dead whore out of your apartment was cheap and easy, you think so.
AMERICAN GUY: Shhhh... She wasn't a prostitute. Okay. Two weeks. I could-
JAN: Did the dead whore stay for two weeks?
AMERICAN GUY: Ever since nine-one-one it takes longer. I mean really long. What's the rush? Did it get uncovered by a hurricane or something?
JAN: Which one, sorry? Hurricane?
AMERICAN GUY: Some hurricane, I don't know. Crazy weather all over. The floods here.
JAN: There wasn't some hurricane. It was discovered by two of my friends which were holidaying in New Orleans.
AMERICAN GUY: Were they hunting nutria?
JAN: Which ones, sorry?
AMERICAN GUY: There are these giant rat or gerbil-beavers, imported to Lousiana from Europe because they ate the kudzu plants that were choking the swamps out! But then, you see, they overran the place, and now there are so many that hunting is rewarded, and some people think it was a French attack on the US, and that the nutria were genetically modified and trained to destroy-
JAN: No, they were not hunting, but snorkeling. (PAUSE) Yes, they were snorkeling in the swamp. They wouldn't see any thing! And you know it's really dangerous. Crocodiles are known to be frequent there. But one kept watching, while the other was swimming around in some silt. Then in the middle of a lagoon--is that how you say it?
AMERICAN GUY: Yeah, lagoon.
JAN: Is it French?
AMERICAN GUY: I don't know. I know nutria is.
(SOME STIFF PAPER RUSTLE)
JAN: Look, here are photos my friends were making underwater.
AMERICAN GUY: Yeah, that looks like a sarcophagus I guess. Do you think it's empty?
JAN: I doubt that it is full. Of a mummy, if that is what you mean.
AMERICAN GUY: How did it get there? You know they found a human hair inside one of the stone building blocks of the great pyramids...
SCENE THREE (A LOUD ARGUMENT)
PENELOPE: (SCREAMING) I won't have you come here and tell me, tell me-
(FURNITURE AND SUCH BREAKING, A BABY CRYING)
FRANCINE: I don't know what point you're making by breaking your own furniture.
PENELOPE: Most of it's Jan's and...(SCREAMING) I hate it!
(FURNITURE BREAKING, A BABY CRYING)
FRANCINE: You can't live on the ceiling.
PENELOPE: (EXCLAMATION OF FRUSTRATION) Uuuaah!
FRANCINE: When you were a child you used to never quit asking about your father, and I'd always tell you-
PENELOPE: Here's a dollar, go eat a beignet!
FRANCINE: And now I try to tell you one little thing and you fly into a rage.
PENELOPE: Why now, all of a sudden? You never talked about it and now...
FRANCINE: I don't know. It just your leaving to Prague and getting married and having your baby here -- not having you around has made me think. I didn't dream you'd be so resistant.
PENELOPE: I just don't like you pretending to be so high and mighty, and honest, the one who doesn't need therapy, when you're lying. I know you left Daddy. Maybe you had good reason, I don't care.
BABY: (BABY TALK) Bada gapoo ana ana an dada.
FRANCINE: Did you hear that?
PENELOPE: Isn't her babytalk cute?
BABY: Bada jarayuja ananda pawpa gaga
FRANCINE: That's no baby talk.
PENELOPE: The doctor said her ears will grow out normal.
FRANCINE: Your child is speaking Sanskrit!
PENELOPE: Nice non-sequitor slash absurdist subject change, mother!
FRANCINE: No, really...
PENELOPE: Were you going to say something about dad or not?
FRANCINE: Listen, your father... where to start.
PENELOPE: Start at the end.
FRANCINE: There were a lot of things going on. He got religion in a bad way. Then his hobbies started up, and he moved out to the swamp. The music, the crazy talk about, oh, sarcophagae...
PENELOPE: That's odd. Jan said something about a sarcophagus in N'Orleans.
PENELOPE: Some Egyptian coffin was photographed in the bayou.
FRANCINE: You must have heard him wrong. (PAUSE) Well, I had better go now.
PENELOPE: What's wrong. You just got here.
FRANCINE: No, no, like you said…
PENELOPE: Mama, what is it.
FRANCINE: Nothing. (PAUSE) Nothing, really, it's just that an Egyptian sarcophagus was one of the last antiques that your father was dealing with before he died. I don't know if you remember the last day you saw your father. Did you know it was thirteen years ago this month...
(TRANSITION MUSIC TO FLASHBACK)
SCENE FOUR (SWAMP NOISE. HEAVY, GRITTY BLUES BAND PLAYING LIVE WITH AUDIENCE SOUNDS. THE SINGING IS A GRAVELLY VOICE THROUGH A CHEAP AMPLIFIER.)
BANCROFT MASGRAVES: (SINGING) Onlee last Sat-yaki aw catchya, sat-yaki, a-kasha...
(MUSIC AND SINGING CONTINUES IN BACKGROUND)
FRANCINE: Calm down, Penny.
PENELOPE (AS A CHILD): (LAUGHING) It's sunny in the swamp. Mama, I want to go watch Daddy sing.
FRANCINE: No, stay here, Penny.
(THE SONG ENDS AND THE CROWD APPLAUDS AND HOLLERS)
FRANCINE: Stay right on that log. I have to have a talk with your father.
(MILLING CROWD SOUNDS)
FRANCINE: Bancroft Masgraves... (THE WORDS BLARE OUT THE AMPLIFIER, DISTORTED AND ECHOEY WITH FEEDBACK) Bancroft come away from that microphone for a moment. If you don't talk to me this instant... I've had it. I am not bringing up our daughter out in this swamp! She can't just change her life on some whim of yours. She just started classes at St. Expeditus! Her life is in New Orleans. And what about the business? Are you listening to me, Bancroft?
(MICROPHONE MOVING SOUNDS)
BANCROFT MASGRAVES: (GRAVELLY LAUGH) One two three four!
(THE MUSIC STARTS UP AT HIS COUNT)
(FRANCINE CAN BE HEARD IN A SUSTAINED RANT, BUT MOSTLY INAUDIBLE BEHIND THE MUSIC AND SINGING EXCEPT FOR SNIPPETS)
FRANCINE: You never...But oh no, that was impossible... Forty five dollars when eight hundred was...Who ever heard of stained glass...Rosaries are important... Kablooey!... Always something...
(FINALLY HER VOICE IS FRONT AND CENTER. SHE IS OUT OF BREATH)
FRANCINE: Bancroft, I'm warning you-- My god, what's that strange light?
(A WHIRRING/DEEP PULSATING HUM AND BEEPING SOUND QUICKLY COMES CLOSER, STARTS TO DROWN OUT THE BAND. TREES START THRASHING IN WIND. THE CROWD YELLS IN PANIC)
FRANCINE: Penny! Penelope!
PENELOPE AS A CHILD: Mommy what is it? (CRYING) I'm afraid!
SCENE FIVE (CAR DRIVING SOUNDS)
JAN: Calm down, you're going to crash us.
PENELOPE: You wouldn't believe the story my mother told me - she's insane! We have to get her checked out.
JAN: But bright side, at least we have an instant babysitter all of the sudden. Your mother isn't seemly so bad. I thought, from what you said, you know.
JAN: Well, I guess it's true that she didn't teach you better.
PENELOPE: Some things can't be undone. Fragments scatter to the wind. Milk can't be unspilled.
JAN: We say in Czech there are worse things. If your eggs are scrambled then eat breakfast, what are you waiting for? There are worse mothers. There are some bad mothers! Ho yeah, I mean to tell you...
PENELOPE: Jan, you don't understand the situation and you probably don't have the capacity to, so just don't assume you can judge it in any way.
JAN: I'm not saying anything, but I don't see, look, look out! (TIRES SCREECH) Where exactly is this place?
PENELOPE: It's the only potraviny in Prague that carries Crunchy Puffs. Breakfast will be breakfast again.
JAN: We're heading out to the skirts of the city. It makes me nervous.
PENELOPE: Everything makes you nervous. I guess the son of a Czech secret policeman...
JAN: Penelope, don't just blat out such things.
PENELOPE: I'm not. We're safe in the car. (TIRES SKIDDING, HONKING, ANOTHER DRIVING YELLING.) And I have a reason. My mother told me---one of the comparatively sane statements she made---that my father was doing something with a sarcophagus in New Orleans years ago.
JAN: I don't understand. How could…
PENELOPE: Is that the real way you got onto this? Did your father dig up some classified document? Is that why you got to know me?
JAN: My lovergirl, now you're sounding like your mother. I would to remind you that we met in Egyptology 101 class.
PENELOPE: Don't ever say---oh there it is!
(CAR STOPPING, CAR DOORS OPENING AND CLOSING)
(DING-DONG TONE OF AUTOMATIC STORE ENTRY SIGNAL)
PENELOPE: Bread, rollies, detergent, a nice combination. Mineral water and hair dye. Ah, cereals. Where are they? They were right here. With all these freakish granolas.
JAN: I'll ask them for you.
PENELOPE: No, I want to. I have to practice. Pardon. Pardon. Proseem Vaws. Krunchee Paffs? Gudday So Krunchee Paffs?
PENELOPE: What do you mean ”nay-so”. They were right here.
JAN: Let me handle. (TALKS IN CZECH TO SALESCLERK IN BACKGROUND)
(SOUND: PLASTIC PACKAGE CRINKLING)
PENELOPE: (INTERNAL, WITH PANICKED ALARM) There is birdseed in some of these cereals! Is this even people food? Is this the right aisle?
JAN: Penny dear, they stopped the carrying of Crunchy Puffs.
JAN: She said it sold too well.
PENELOPE: What do you mean?
JAN: They got tired of restocking it onto the shelves so
they canceled it.
PENELOPE: (GROWING EXASPERATION) What is wrong with you people? The twentieth century is dead! Communism is dead!
JAN: Penny, don't--
PENELOPE: (LOUDLY TO THE STORE) What are you trying to do, force me back to New Orleans? I'm not going! I tell you I'm not going!
I'm not-- Ahhhhhhh--
(SOUNDS OF DISORDER, VOICES OF CONCERN)
JAN: Penny, get up! What's wrong?
SCENE SIX (SOUNDS IN A HOSPITAL: INTERCOM CALLING DOCTORS, BEEPING MONITORS, ETC.)
PENELOPE: (GROGGY) Where am I?
FRANCINE: You're in a very modern hospital with a beautiful view of the river and a bridge.
FRANCINE: What do you remember?
PENELOPE: I was in a store, asking politely about some cereal, then I woke up in an ambulance with some fat slob massaging my chest.
FRANCINE: They want to keep you overnight for observation. The doctor said, well I didn't really understand him. He said something about you having an allergic reaction to thinking.
PENELOPE: Where's Jan?
FRANCINE: He's with the baby. He's terribly worried, I think. But he doesn't show it. I mean, I don't know him, but he seems nice enough. Anyway, he's there arguing with the ambulance company about paying. The ambulance got a flat tire.
PENELOPE: These tubes, they're stuck into me everywhere. I mean I've had tubular things in some of those places, well most of...
FRANCINE: Penny, I want to use this chance to tell you more about your father.
PENELOPE: When are visiting hours over?
FRANCINE: Nurse? My daughter needs more sedation. Nurse!
PENELOPE: Alright, I'll try to listen. I'm feeling quite calm and wonderful, actually. What exactly is that I.V. bottle dripping into me?
FRANCINE: Sometimes it takes a dangerous array of chemicals to find our true selves. Your father used potent plants and ingenious substances in his experiments with reality. Those were the good old days. We had the store and you were a happy child. Then he got his thing about what he called `Ur-souvenirs'. From Nazi memorabilia to Easter Island relics to...the Sarcophagae. Then the preaching started.
PENELOPE: He looked like a giant behind that lectern.
FRANCINE: That was okay, an active layman in a respectable church. Until he got excommunicated for playing that music, and invented his own religion out in the bayou and started talking about...
FRANCINE: He wasn't just talking, he was obsessed by these things. He mixed up an aromatic batch of voodoo, Sanskrit, ...some things you don't want to hear about, and, mostly, this sarcophagus.
PENELOPE: What about it?
FRANCINE: You were right, honey. I did leave your father. I left him over his mad talk of an Egyptian mummy in some N'Orleans sluice.
PENELOPE: Maybe you heard him wrong. Maybe he was talking about his Egyptian mammy in some N'Orleans sleaze.
FRANCINE: I couldn't take it anymore. Okay, I left him! And yes I took you away from him! You've never forgiven me and it's all coming out now that you've gone away. I mean he was abandoning us, slowly, going out into the wild. And now you're abandoning me! I admit I left him, but I tried to go back. I tried. And then I watched as he died in that strange...
PENELOPE: Forest fire.
FRANCINE: It wasn't a forest fire.
PENELOPE: Spanish moss is very volatile.
FRANCINE: Swamps don't catch fire, honey. I saw what happened.
PENELOPE: I don't want to hear it.
FRANCINE: He took me straight from my father's arms and he never gave me what he owed but I at least owe you the truth about the way he died.
PENELOPE: (SIGHS) You don't owe me anything, mama. None of it was your fault. Daddy was just a voodoo con artist, a petty trafficker in art forgeries and phony antiques who left his ten-year-old daughter with nothing but a bad reputation to live down...to. You don't owe me anything. You did your best. I love you, mama.
FRANCINE: Oh, Penny...
FRANCINE: But it wasn't the voodoo that gave him his reputation. It was something extra. Extra...
FRANCINE: More. Extra...
PENELOPE: Extra what?
PENELOPE: Mama, not again.
FRANCINE: I tried to go back to him, out there in that shack in the swamps. Might as well have been yesterday...
(FLASHBACK TRANSITION MUSIC)
SCENE SEVEN (SWAMP SOUNDS)
FRANCINE: (YELLING) Bancroft. Ban. Baaa-aaaaan.
(MOVEMENT IN THE BUSHES SOUND)
FRANCINE: Ouch! (A SPLASH) That damn nutria bit me. Goddammit... Oh there he is. (YELLING) Ban. What are you doing out there? Did you get those new oars?
(APPROACHING FAST, THE WHIRRING ELECTRIC HUMMING SOUNDS)
FRANCINE: Ban, can you hear me? Little Penny is asking about you! --Oh my God, what the---that light---
(MASSIVE COMMOTION, WIND, ELECTRIC ROARING AND WHIRRING)
FRANCINE: (SCREAMS) Aaaaagh!
(AN EXPLOSION, WAVES LAPPING, AND THEN A FIRE CRACKLING.)
FRANCINE: Ban, where are you? Are you alright? (WEEPING) Bancroft Masgraves where are you?!!!
(TRANSITION MUSIC FROM FLASHBACK)
SCENE EIGHT (BACK TO HOSPITAL SOUNDS)
FRANCINE: They never found his body.
(FAINT MONITOR MACHINE BEEPING IS SLOWLY ACCELERATING)
FRANCINE: I'm here, Penelope.
PENELOPE: Would you open the window. The night air in Prague is so good for you. (WINDOW OPENING TO FAST-FLOWING RIVER SOUNDS)
(PAUSE WITH JUST RIVER SOUNDS. THE FAINT MONITOR BEEPING IS STILL ACCELERATING)
PENELOPE: (STRANGELY CALM) The river is still churning from the floods. It's a very soothing sound.
FRANCINE: That's right, just relax.
PENELOPE: (QUIETLY) Mama?
FRANCINE: Yes, dear.
PENELOPE: (SCREAMING) Let me out of here!!!
(COMMOTION, THINGS KNOCKING OVER, GLASS BREAKING)
FRANCINE: (QUICKLY, BEHIND SOUNDS) Penelope, what--come back! (ELECTRIC WHIRRING SOUND JOINS THE COMMOTION) What is that strange light out there--my God Penelope get away from the window. Penelope!!!
(PENELOPE SCREAMS, THE SCREAM FADING AS SHE FALLS, AND THE ELECTRIC-HUMMING-WHIRRING SOUND ALSO FADES)
FRANCINE: (DISTRAIGHT VOICE) I don't know if I could, Yawn. I still can't believe any of this has happened.
JAN: Mrs. Masgraves, I don't want to push you. This must be a hard day's night for you. I am also in the denial shock.
FRANCINE: Call me Francine. I know you meant a lot to her, too. I didn't mean to imply anything.
JAN: Jan. Rhymes with ”on”. Not like ”Bjorn” or ”eon”.
FRANCINE: I just don't know if I'm up to jetting to N'Orleans and helping explore the swamps with you, Yawn.
JAN: I once heard a certain saying, or slogan, in English that was intelligent. I'm sorry when I can't remember it exactly. If Jack falls off the horse, he has to get directly back on it, or you have to help Jack off the horse, or something. Do you understand.
FRANCINE: I know what you're trying to say, it's just, especially right now, so soon after Penelope--oh, it would be a little more bearable if they had just found her body. (WEEPING) I keep thinking that maybe she survived, and is walking around, some wretched, zombie-eyed amnesiac...
JAN: The Vltava River is very unforgiving. Ever since the flooding--do you know Kafka? Kafka said that Prague has claws, and the Vltava is a circularisation, a system to circulate blood pumping organ, how do you say it--
FRANCINE: Prague is a heart with claws. Well, it certainly ripped out mine. (WEEPING) Alright Yawn, alright. I sure don't want to stay here.
(BABY ALSO CRIES)
SCENE NINE (SWAMP SOUNDS, PEOPLE WORKING WITH EQUIPMENT, SPLASHING, AIR TUBE BREATHING SOUNDS)
FRANCINE: We'll have to quit pretty soon. The sun's almost down. I can't take much more.
JAN: I know, the jet lag is horrible. Just a little longer. Maybe we could all just stay in your ex-husband's shack for the overnight?
FRANCINE: The swamp's not safe at night.
JAN: But we have alligator spotters.
FRANCINE: You don't understand. These swamps -- marsh gas can affect your vision and your judgement and your... That's what happened to my husband, out here, ending up a rock and roll hermit sealing himself off from the world, retreating into esoterica and gilded gloom...
JAN: I know you're still in early mourning. I am too of course. But I throw myself into my work. (PAUSE, SOUND OF ROCK THROWN IN WATER. SOUND CONTINUES OCCASIONALLY IN BACKGROUND) This is why Penelope liked me.
FRANCINE: Your Egyptology?
JAN: No, my missing emotions. See you, Czechs are of the Northern peoples. Of course on the map that is not true, we are in the middle. Middle of the middle, not middle for the Equator, I mean middle of Europe. But we look North. We feel the Norwegians and Scandinavian peoples. We aren't like the Spanish or Italians, hot blood. Passionate dances.
FRANCINE: I've notice you're very reserved. Like Germans.
JAN: We have an aversion to Germans. No, we don't hide our emotions. We try not to have them all, in general.
JAN: And Penelope was of the South type. But she wanted away. She had too much of the crazy life. So she liked me. And I did my work, my plan was, someday, when I have enough money in the bank, then it will be possible to have emotions.
(PEOPLE IN THE BACKGROUND CALLING FOR JAN)
JAN: I'm sorry, the shack is-- (CALLING) Just a minute!
FRANCINE: It's okay, go. (INTERNAL) That is the saddest thing I ever... That damn shack. Never thought the shack was still standing. Always imagined it obliterated. Now it's the only thing not obliterated. My Bancroft, my Penelope, my life... Oblivion.
(SOUND MONTAGE: THE HUMMING/BEEPING/WHIRRING AMID WIND BLOWING AS IN GREAT SPEED, THE HUMMING INCREASING IN DEPTH, BLENDING WITH PARTS OF THE BLUES SONG AND WITH ECHOES “DUB STYLE” OF SNATCHES OF DIALOGUE THAT HAVE OCCURRED UP TO NOW IN A FORM OF SUMMARY OF EVENTS, ALL CONTINUING IN ADDITION TO THE OTHER SOUNDS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING AT THE DISCRETION OF THE DIRECTOR: )
FRANCINE: Prague is a heart with claws.
PENELOPE: I am not going to New Orleans.
YOUNG PENELOPE: I want to go watch Daddy.
PENELOPE: These freakish granolas.
JAN: Don't just blat out such things.
PENELOPE: Where am I?
FRANCINE: Penelope come back...What is that strange light up there...
JAN: Jack off the horse...
FRANCINE: Some nerdy guy...Sarcophagae...
AMERICAN GUY: What do you think it is, Nazi treasure?
FRANCINE: Mardi Gras Beads!
AMERICAN GUY: Sweet!
(THE BLUES SONG IS METAMORPHOSING INTO AN ELECTRONIC VERSION OF THE SONG AS THE DUB ECHOES CONTINUE.)
PENELOPE: Breakfast will be...I hate it!...Don't ever...Practice...Voodoo con artist.
JAN: The golem...swimming around...
AMERICAN GUY: ...in the great pyramids.
THE BLUES SONG IS NOW AN ENTIRELY ELECTRONIC VERSION OF THE SONG, BLENDING WITH ALTERED, DISTORTED DISTINCTLY “ALIEN” VOICES AS IN DIALOGUE WITH THE ECHOES OF DIALOGUE CONTINUE, INCLUDING SNATCHES OF DIALOGUE YET TO COME.)
PENELOPE: Extra what?
ALIEN VOICE: ( )
PENELOPE: You speak English perfectly... It's a very soothing sound.
ALIEN VOICE: ( )
PENELOPE: Where are you going?
FRANCINE: I am going insane!
FRANCINE: Is your body going to fragment...
PENELOPE: ...Something about dad or not?
JAN: Mummy. Full of Mummy.
PENELOPE: Where am I?
(THE SOUNDS CRESCENDO DURING THE FOLLOWING, WHERE THE ALIEN VOICE BLENDS WITH BANCROFT MASGRAVE'S SPEAKING UNINTELLIGIBLY, WHICH IN TURN BLENDS WITH FRANCINE'S INTERPRETATION UNTIL BOTH VOICES ARE SPEAKING TOGETHER IN ENGLISH BY MIDPOINT. AT THE END FRANCINE'S VOICE DROPS OUT, LEAVING ONLY BANCROFT MASGRAVE'S RESONANT VOICE)
ALIEN/BANCROFT MASGRAVES: Sat-yaki, a-kasha.
FRANCINE: I can translate!
ALIEN/MASGRAVES: ( )
FRANCINE: (OVER OTHER VOICE) Only the pyramids cared enough to shed their secrets like snakeskin water running in rivulets down their sides running together like mohawked poodles packing in the nighttime streets returning their fangs to a fresh kill though by the rays of the sunrise they whine to be petted. A whining sound over our heads we see out of our eyes beaming vision in projections...
(BANCROFT MASGRAVES VOICE IS BECOMING ENGLISH)
FRANCINE AND BANCROFT MASGRAVES: ...not of punk rock Anubis in flight but of rays guiding our craft through the short term cosmos until we reach the end of our wits and calm down and land and say we should have been more fatherly all along even when we were children. When the parents act like children the children parent and no unleavened bread is left over to crumble over the salamanders that left when the swamp turned into desert. I dried up and blue days were recorded all along the burial chamber walls depicting the canceling of slavery and the reconstitution of landlocked icebergs denoted glaciers -
(FRANCINE VOICE DROPS OUT)
BANCROFT MASGRAVES: ...the flaming chariots were not worth a single bowl of ice cream on the shady porch of a shack in the swamps where the only guided missiles are crocodiles easing over to a clueless duck, a clueless duck turning over and over and over a spinning galaxy in peril, Penelope.
PENELOPE AS CHILD: I want to watch Daddy sing!
FRANCINE: My god, what is that light up there?
PENELOPE: What is that light down there? Is that earth? Where am I?
SCENE TEN (STREET AMBIENCE, WITH AN INCREASING SOUND OF A GLASS BOTTLE BEING DRAGGED ALONG A SIDEWALK)
POLICE OFFICER: Ma'm?
PENELOPE: Yes, officer?
POLICE OFFICER: You can't---that glass bottle you're dragging along, if it breaks... That looks like some kind of intravenous fluid.
PENELOPE: You speak English perfectly, officer.
POLICE OFFICER: That a Yankee wisecrack? And are you wearing a hospital frock?
PENELOPE: My father was defrocked and I wear his frock of shame as I wander the world, even here, under these beautiful French balconies. Still, this isn't Paris, is it, monsieur gendarme?
POLICE OFFICER: You're in the French Quarter, ma'm. And you definitely belong here.
PENELOPE: The Quarter takes care of its characters.
POLICE OFFICER: So you're a local after all.
PENELOPE: Within the context of the South, Yankee is a term describing Northeastern Americans. Fortunately between them and us are large, unnavigatable swamplands full of impossible murkiness, slithering reptiles and giant man-eating clams. Yes, the swamps, that's what I'm after...
(THE GLASS STARTS DRAGGING OFF INTO THE DISTANCE)
SCENE ELEVEN (SOUND: SWAMP, MEN WORKING AS ABOVE)
FRANCINE: (INTERNAL) I could never have conceived of such hardworking, naïve anthropologists. And from...the heart with claws. New Orleans doesn't rip your heart out at all--it smothers your heart in butter, powdered sugar and loss. So you take a break out in nature, and nature finishes you off. Gives your mind a chance to decay in step with the rest of your body. Slow but certain, slow but certain. Is your body decayed now, Penelope? Is it down in the water stuck under some bridge? Or washed out into the sea? Was it a better way to go, all of a sudden? Is your body going to fragment and flow back home, eventually, back to N'Orleans?
FRANCINE: (TALKING AS ADULTS DO TO BABIES) Don't cry, babykins. Baby doesn't like swamp? Don't worry, crocodiles won't eat you! No they won't!
(BUSHES MOVING AT SOME DISTANCE, A SPLASH, A WOMAN'S MUFFLED CRY, THEN A GLASS BOTTLE HITTING A ROCK, AND A DOOR BANGING OPEN)
FRANCINE: There's someone in the shack. What do they think they're doing? (PAUSE) Oh God, my sanity really is fragmenting. I thought I saw Penelope. (MOVEMENT IN BUSHES CLOSER) My god, I see Penelope. (CALLING) Jan! Come help me, I'm going insane!
JAN: (IN DISTANCE) What?
FRANCINE: (CALLING) I said come over here, I am going insane!
PENELOPE: (IN DISTANCE) Mama?
FRANCINE: Penelope? Is it really---
FRANCINE: Come here!
(EXULTANT AND TEARFUL EXCLAMATIONS AS IN HUGGING, ETC., WITH HAPPY BABY SOUND JOINING THEM)
FRANCINE: They never found your body!
PENELOPE: I never lost it!
FRANCINE: I don't understand. How did you get here.
PENELOPE: I walked. Like I was sleepwalking into the old shack. Then a damn nutria bit me and I heard some people over here and---
JAN: (CALLING FROM DISTANCE) Francine, come here, we've found it!
(SOUND: WALKING THROUGH THE BUSHES )
JAN: We found the---Penelope! What? I don't understand! It's not possible! (BREAKS DOWN CRYING) Penelope, my life!!! (PAUSE)
FRANCINE: I guess we're all crazy now.
JAN: Everybody, look, we've found it! It is authenticated sarcophagus for the Ramses period! Probably fell off some steamboat in the 19th centuries when Egyptian collections were so popular here. And look, the colors aren't faded even, the silt of the swamp must---Penelope, I can't believe it, how is it possible?
PENELOPE: I came back to...open that blasted sarcophagus.
JAN: You can't open it, it... That's strange. The top, it's not a normal lid. It's seeming hermetically sealed. Look, the edges around, some kind of pressurisation material--
PENELOPE: Move out of my way!
JAN: Stop! You're going to---
(SOUND OF STRUGGLE, THEN A PRESSURISED CONTAINER HISSING OPEN)
(EXCLAMATIONS OF SURPRISE FROM EVERYONE)
FRANCINE: (AWESTRUCK) It's perfectly preserved. The water didn't get in.
JAN: This is a major discovery! No mummy---
JAN: Get away from it! Don't...hug it.
(SOUND OF DRY RUSTLING WITH A MURMUR OF HAPPINESS FROM PENELOPE)
FRANCINE: Did it move?
(SOUND: A MOAN THAT STARTS TO SOUND LIKE THE SINGING WHEN THE BAND WAS PLAYING, BECOMES THE GRAVELLY LAUGH AND THEN:)
BANCROFT MASGRAVES: Jarajuja ananda, sundara shava baby...
PENELOPE: (CRYING WITH JOY) Daddy!
FRANCINE: Stand back! I can translate!
(THE WHIRRING/PULSATING/BEEPING SOUND APPROACHES)
JAN: Look, up in the sky. What kind of lighting is that?
(THE WHIRRING/HUM/BEEPING RAPIDLY INCREASE, AND BABY NOISES AND OTHER EXCLAMATIONS JOIN THE RISING SOUNDS)
JAN: It's coming towards!
FRANCINE: (YELLING OVER DIN) Bancroft Masgraves is that you?
(THE WHIRRING-HUMMING-ELECTRIC ROAR-BEEPING SOUND PLUS TREES THRASHING IN A STRONG WIND OVERWHELM ALL OTHER SOUNDS)