19 Nocturne Boulevard - Jack. In the Box. - Reissue

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[transcript below]

Reissue episode of the week!

Jack. In the Box.

Shortly after WWII, a crate full of parts appears on a young divorcee's doorstep. Can she and her young son figure out what it is and what it's for? ...And how will this affect the fate of the world?.

Cast List

Jack/Unit X-14 - Greg Porter Trudy Garfunkel - Julie Hoverson Timmy Garfunkel - Reynaud LeBoeuf Mrs. MacGruder - Marge Lutton Susan - Melinda Mains Col. Chutney - Richard Haviland Mockam - Cole Hornaday Pockam - Kim Turner Additional voices on the radio - Diana Haviland, Joy Jackson, Pat McNally

Music: Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com) and Jonathon Roberts (jmtr.com) Recorded in conjunction with ART (American Radio Theater) Editing and Sound: Julie Hoverson Cover Photo: Kalyana Sundaram (courtesy of Stock Xchange.com)

"What kind of a place is it? Why it's an aging bungalow court apartment, can't you tell?"

*************************************************************

This was an early comedy romance episode I wrote specifically with A-R-T - American Radio Theater - in mind. This was recorded with A-R-T in Marge's dining room. I would like to point out that the title is not "jack-in-the-box" but Jack[period] in the box [period]. It's a subtle distinction, but it does make it mean something a bit different.

I also want to point out right away that the whole Chinese suspicion subplot was meant to be silly and a clue to how disconnected from reality Mrs. McGruder is, not serious. Keep in mind this was written ten years ago and set in the 1940s. I have nothing but disgust for any frickinh racists who are currently, in real life, harassing people of Asian descent, particularly the elderly.

The transcript is on the page here, and you will note that the first couple of "radio shows" heard in the background in this episode are in the main script, but after that, they got too complicated to write in between lines and I moved them to the end so they could be recorded "of a piece". The shows are clear parodies of The Shadow, I love a Mystery, and Flash Gordon. This also marks the first appearance of Tunis the Unstoppable, whom I later used in Bingo the Birthday Clown.

I realized recently that I haven't yet included the full text of the opening sequence of 19 Nocturne Boulevard in any of my transcripts. My apologies, and it will follow. It originally started out much longer, but I whittled it down until it was just the right length.

Platinum Death Ray Forever!

********************************************************

19 Nocturne Boulevard Opening

VOICE: 19 Nocturne Boulevard

CABBIE: Nocturne Boulevard? Not far. When you hit Howard, hang a right. Howard meets Philip at a weird kind of angle, then you cross James and Poe. You can't miss Nocturne, it's just past the Automat.

VOICE: 19 Nocturne Boulevard, your address for suspenseful stories of the speculative, strange, and supernatural.

[VOICE, or OLIVIA] Tonight's story is [title]

[also might include warning about violence or language here]

OLIVIA: Yes. This is 19 Nocturne Boulevard, won't you step inside? What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why it's a [episode specific location]

*****************************************************

JACK. IN THE BOX.

Cast:

  • Trudy Garfunkel (F/30ish), divorcee, single mom
  • Timmy Garfunkel (M/10), her son
  • MacGruder (F/50ish), landlady
  • Colonel Chutney (M/70), retired WWI colonel
  • Susan (F/20ish), Trudy's co-worker
  • Jack (M), a robot
  • Mockam (any), an alien
  • Pockam (any), another alien

  • ON THE RADIO:
  • Announcer
  • Horse voice
  • Ralph
  • The Spook
  • Thug 1
  • Thug 2
  • Jake
  • Mack
  • Frenchy
  • Snap Harper
  • Amanda Cool
  • Tunis the unstoppable

OLIVIA Did you have any trouble finding it? What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why, it's a run-down bungalow apartment court, can't you tell?

SCENE 1.

MUSIC CREEPY SCI FI

AMBIANCE VERY ALIEN

POCKAM The interview will be conducted in the unit's assimilated language.

MOCKAM Report, unit X-14.

JACK [very robotic in all scenes with aliens] Report. Earth viability as target for invasion--

MUSIC BREAK

OLIVIA Oops. My mistake. Here's that bungalow court...

SCENE 2.

MUSIC A BIT OF MELODRAMA - VERY 40s

AMBIANCE OUTSIDE. TRAFFIC NEARBY

SOUND FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL. DOOR OPENS SLIGHTLY OFF.

MACGRUDER [slightly off] Trudy? Trudy!

SOUND FOOTSTEPS STOP

TRUDY [sigh] Mrs. MacGruder.

SOUND FOOTSTEPS SWIVEL IN GRAVEL

TRUDY I'll have the rent on--

MACGRUDER [slightly off] Oh, no this is ... When?

TRUDY Friday. Um, what, then?

MACGRUDER [coming on] You got a package!

TRUDY What? I didn't--

MACGRUDER I was thinking just that. What's Trudy Garfunkel doing ordering stuff--?

TRUDY I didn't!

MACGRUDER On her little government salary, and I knew she-- I mean, you-- wouldn't, so then I wondered if maybe it wasn't that deadbeat man of yours--

TRUDY He's not mine- he hasn't been for a long time--

MACGRUDER --Might have sent something for the boy, so I figured no harm in letting the movers into your place - I hope you don't mind - but I wanted to let you know before you walk in and trip over it or anything.

TRUDY Thank you for the warning.

SOUND FOOTSTEPS - BOTH OF THEM

TRUDY You don't have to--

MACGRUDER I better go come along and make sure, since if I let it into your place and it turned out to be something dangerous, well I'd never forgive myself. On the other hand, I was just thinking it might just be a vacuum cleaner, so I was just thinking if it was a vacuum cleaner, then I would knock a whole dollar off your rent - each week - if you just let me use it. [gasps]

TRUDY The box is that big? I mean big enough for a vacuum?

SOUND FOOTSTEPS STOP

MACGRUDER Lands sakes! You just have to get a gander at it! [beat] Well? Open it.

SOUND A COUPLE OF ALMOST HESITANT STEPS ON STONE, THEN KEY IN LOCK

TRUDY Did the movers say anything when they--?

MACGRUDER Say anything? Well, I expect they did, but they didn't really seem to speak much English. Didn't worry me much though - they were big Italian looking fellers, not Chinese at all.

SOUND KNOB TURNS

TRUDY Chinese? Why Chinese?

MACGRUDER Oh, I heard it on the radio just the other day, about the Chinese. Not sure what they said, but I'll tell you, you better check your laundry reaaal good.

TRUDY [dubious] All right.

SOUND DOOR OPENS. A COUPLE FOOTSTEPS, THEN PULLED UP SHORT

TRUDY [gasps]

MACGRUDER Didn't I tell you?

TRUDY You said a box - I didn't expect a crate! How'd they get it through the door?

MACGRUDER Crate. Box. I said it was big enough for a vacuum.

TRUDY [joking] Or some Chinese.

MACGRUDER You think so, too? Well, you better open it now - maybe this is how they plan to invade or do whatever it was the radio was saying about them. I'll stay with you while you do it, so that I can run back and call the army if they come popping out of there.

TRUDY I really doubt it's a box of Chinese people.

MACGRUDER You better check!

SOUND SCRABBLING AT WOOD. TAPPING - SOUNDS PRETTY SOLID.

TRUDY I don't know how to open it.

MACGRUDER Here, I'll go and get a hammer. We'd better get this done quickly!

TRUDY Yes, I'd rather have this sorted out before Timmy gets home.

MACGRUDER [going off] Oh, well, that too - I was thinking that "Love of a Generation" will be coming on the radio real soon.

TRUDY The radio. Tsch. [almost chuckling] Chinese.

SCENE 3.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

MOCKAM Status of Earth readiness to hold off an invasion fleet?

JACK The earth is fully prepared to repel all invaders.

POCKAM What? We have seen no evidence--!

MOCKAM Explain.

SCENE 4.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

SOUND SQUEAK OF NAILS AS CRATE LID IS PRIED OFF

MACGRUDER What is it?

TRUDY Let me get the lid off before you go jumping in - you don't want the nails to get you.

MACGRUDER [sniffs] Well, it doesn't smell Chinese.

TRUDY [takes breath as if to say something, then sighs] No.

SOUND HEAVY LID FALLS TO FLOOR

MACGRUDER Well, someone sent you a box of excelsior - sure it wasn't your ex husband? He seems the type to be making a big deal out of nothing.

SOUND ROOTING AROUND IN PAPER SHREDS

TRUDY Every belonging he ever had wouldn't fill this darn thing. No, the only time he remembers to send us anything is the occasional model airplane for Timmy's birthday - and they're always late.

MACGRUDER You're better off without him. Just like Ermintrude on Romances of the Great White Way. She dumped a crumb who would--

TRUDY I found something!

SOUND METAL CLANG AS SOMETHING IS PULLED OUT OF PAPER SHREDS

MACGRUDER Well... It could still be a vacuum cleaner.

TRUDY Here - set this down somewhere.

MACGRUDER Hmph. Well, I can't be standing around here all day, and if there's nothing more in there but scrap metal--

TRUDY Aha! Papers!

MACGRUDER Instructions?

SOUND RIFFLE OF MANY PAGES

TRUDY Um... Maybe. I don't think it's in English.

MACGRUDER Lessee. I knew it! Chinese!

SOUND TAPS PAPER

SCENE 5.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

MOCKAM Which country or continent has the largest potential resistance force?

POCKAM Who do we capture first, in other words?

JACK [strange stuttering noise] Uh, uh, The main army is not that of any surface nation, but a hidden underground force--

POCKAM Explain! Underground?

JACK The minions of Tunis the Unstoppable are counted in the millions.

SCENE 6.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

SOUND [off] DOOR SLAMS OPEN, FEET RUNNING IN

TIMMY Hey mom! I'm starvin--

TRUDY [absently] Close the door.

SOUND PAGES TURN

TIMMY Whoa! What in Hi-ho Silver is that?

TRUDY Huh? [coming out of it] Oh! Young man, I should make you march right back outside and come back in like a civilized human being, and not like a-- a--

TIMMY Bucking bronco?

TRUDY No, that was last week. Um, a--

TIMMY Crazy apeman?

TRUDY Fine. Like a crazy apeman. But I happen to be busy.

TIMMY If--

TRUDY Ask like a--

TOGETHER --civilized human being.

TRUDY [swallows a chuckle]

TIMMY What is it, then, mom? It looks -- well--?

TRUDY Honestly, I'm not sure. Grab yourself an apple in the kitchen, and come and help me find a part that looks like this--

SCENE 7.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

POCKAM [worried] Of what nation is this Tunis the unstoppable? Has he no enemies on Earth?

JACK [sounding slightly human] He is the secret master of the world. His armies are legion.

SCENE 8.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

SOUND SQUEAKY. METAL PIECES BEING PUT TOGETHER. FINALLY SNAPS IN

TRUDY There! [pause, sigh, gasp] Goodness! Look at the time! It's nearly dinner!

TIMMY Ah, bananas! I missed the start of Ralph Richardson, Thug Breaker!

SOUND SCRAMBLE ACROSS THE FLOOR. RADIO TUNING IN

TRUDY Don't wanna keep me company in here while I get set to feed you?

SOUND RADIO CRACKLE, WARMING UP

TIMMY Oh, c'mon mom! Ralph just found the smuggler's lakeside warehouse, and then they caught him and tied him to a piling and the tide's coming in!

SOUND RADIO MUSIC

ANNOUNCER [very tinny] ...that's why Alfalfa-bet is your best bet for breakfast. Ask any horse what he likes and he'll say--

HORSE VOICE Alfalfa-Bet!

ANNOUNCER And now, hear the creaking of the piling?

SOUND PILINGS CREAK

ANNOUNCER Hear the lapping of the incoming tide?

SOUND TIDE LAPS

ANNOUNCER But can we still hear Ralph?

RALPH [A couple of manly grunts]

TIMMY C'mon Ralph! You can get loose!

SCENE 9.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

MOCKAM [suspicious] We have seen no evidence of this Tunis the unstoppable.

JACK He is said to be an ancient sorcerer, who is capable of hiding his every movement.

POCKAM That's ludicrous! Explain this title of Sorcerer!

JACK One who manipulates the ether and the world around him through mental abilities, rather than the use of devices or scientific artifices.

MOCKAM AND POCKAM [gasp]

SCENE 10.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

SOUND RADIO BACKGROUND

The SPOOK Of course you could not see me, for I have the cloak of ancient darkness to protect myself!

THUG 1 Oh no!

THUG 2 You said it. He's got us. There ain't no way out.

SOUND MUSIC SWELLS

SOUND CLICK. RADIO OFF

TIMMY Well, that's a fine how d'you do!

TRUDY It's time for bed, and we've nearly finished putting this... thing... together.

TIMMY I still say it's a robot! Look, arms, legs - everything.

TRUDY A robot would look as silly as anyone else without a head. Up, up!

TIMMY [moving slowly off] You'll look through the shavings again, won't you? See if there's anything else in the box?

TRUDY Aye, Aye, captain. Now scoot!

SCENE 11.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

MOCKAM Is this planet Earth very populated with these... sorcerers?

JACK From my research, they are few but very powerful.

POCKAM Bah! Even such as these cannot withstand our platinum death ray!

SCENE 12.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

SOUND [off] DOOR SLAMS OPEN, FEET RUNNING DOWN STAIRS

TIMMY [off] Mom?

SOUND FEET STOP FOR A SECOND, THEN COME ON RAPIDLY

TIMMY [panicky, coming on quickly] Mom! Where'd it go?

SOUND FEET SLIDE ONTO KITCHEN TILES, THEN SKID TO A STOP

TIMMY I- I'm -- Whoops!

TRUDY [very amused] Timmy, you should join us for breakfast. I would like you to meet... [considers] Jack. Jack [searching for a name] Box- Bocscome - Boscome. Jack Boscome.

TIMMY Sorry to break in like this, sir. Mom. Um, pleased... to meet you?

TRUDY [almost laughing] Well, shake his hand!

TIMMY [whispered] He's not moving - is he OK?

TRUDY [finally breaks down and laughs] Jack here? Why he's just peachy.

SOUND SLAP ON THE BACK.

SFX WEIRD MECHANICAL NOISES BEGIN. VERY LOW

TIMMY What'd you do?

TRUDY I just - I must have pushed his switch or something.

TIMMY Oh! He's-- Oh! He sure looks ... real with a head and all.

SFX WHIRRING, ETC., GETS LOUDER, THEN OUT

JACK [very mechanical sounding] I am unit X-14. I am at your service.

TRUDY Well, he looks real, but he don't sound it.

SOUND [off] KNOCKING AT FRONT DOOR

TRUDY [sigh] That will be Mrs. MacGruder, about the vacuum cleaner. Or the Chinese.

TIMMY What vacuum cleaner? Huh?

JACK Explain. What is Chinese.

SOUND RAPID FOOTSTEPS

TIMMY [fading out under] Oh, Chinese are folks who come from across the ocean and don't talk like us, and they cook good food...

TRUDY [calling back] Timmy, make sure and keep Jack in the kitchen. I don't know WHAT Mrs. MacGruder would make of him.

SOUND DOOR. UNLOCKING CHAIN AND BOLT. DOOR OPENS

MACGRUDER So? Did you -uh - manage to ... uh?

TRUDY It's just... Well, apparently it's Ken's idea of a joke.

MACGRUDER I thought you said he wouldn't--

TRUDY It was all filled with random pieces of metal, and when I got to the bottom, there was a note from him. Tsch. He said it was supposed to be some sort of .... um, furnace... but it didn't even have all the pieces.

MACGRUDER [suspicious] Why would he send such a darn fool thing? Your furnace here is fine, isn't it? I can always get Bob in to--

TRUDY No, no! Um, it was just that... the last time he bothered to stop by, we--we were living in a place with a dicey furnace.

MACGRUDER [after a long moment] Man like that, you're better rid of him.

TRUDY I'll see about selling the bits for scrap or something.

MACGRUDER Take your time - you can always burn the crate and the shavings. [joking, going off] Save on your furnace worries...

TRUDY [agreeing noise]

SOUND DOOR SHUTS QUICKLY BUT NOT QUITE SLAMMED

TRUDY Whew.

SOUND HEAVY FOOTSTEPS APPROACH

JACK Explain. What is a "Ken".

SCENE 13.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

MOCKAM [sotto] We may need to reconsider the invasion plans.

POCKAM [sotto] I do not agree-

MOCKAM If these sorcerers can withstand our invasion--

POCKAM I think the information unit is faulty.

MOCKAM That is impossible - the unit must tell the truth. That is its function.

POCKAM It may not know the truth. I say we wait until the other units have been retrieved.

SCENE 14.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

SOUND CLICK - MUSIC CUTS OUT

SFX TUNING IN RADIO

JACK Explain. What is--?

TIMMY Shh. Now this is a really good show. Jake, Mack, and Frenchy are the B-9 detective agency. And they're about to go head to head with the crime syndicate.

SFX MUSIC IN BACKGROUND - PARODY OF I LOVE A MYSTERY OPENER - SEE SCRIPT AT END

SOUND KNOCK ON DOOR

TIMMY Mom! The door!

JACK Mom!

SOUND FOOTSTEPS ON LINO, THEN WOOD. TRUDY BRUSHES HER HANDS TOGETHER

TRUDY You two. You should be doing your homework. I let you put it off all weekend--

TIMMY But the show! Besides, Jack here'll help me with it, won't you Jack old boy?

JACK Explain. What is homework.

SOUND KNOCK ON DOOR AGAIN

TRUDY Yeah. A big help.

SOUND KNOB, DOOR OPENS A BIT

TRUDY Yes? Oh! Susan!

SUSAN Aha! [chiding] You remember my name!

TRUDY [realizing] Oh, no... Last night...!

SUSAN Are you going to just keep me out here on the doorstep while I read you the riot act for standing me up? You left me high and dry on a Saturday night, with two sailors and only one pair of feet!

TRUDY I-- [thinks] Let me take you to the corner coffee shop - to make it up.

SUSAN What? Why?

TRUDY Um, Timmy isn't feeling well, so I really don't want to wake him.

TIMMY [off, sickly sounding] Mommy?

SUSAN [mollified] So that's it. [sigh] You better stay.

TIMMY [off, coughing]

SUSAN Kids. I love em, but I'm not sure I could keep em. You gonna be in to work tomorrow?

TRUDY He's much better than he was. Just needs rest.

SUSAN OK. But next time - you could at least call! See ya manyana!

TRUDY Bye! [pause, whew]

SOUND DOOR SHUTS, QUICK FOOTSTEPS

SFX RADIO COMES ON - SCENE PLAYS IN THE B/G

TRUDY Thank you honey! [hug noise]

TIMMY [boy hug reaction] Moooom! The shooow.

JACK Explain. What is sick.

TIMMY Ssh!

TRUDY C'mon Jack, and I'll explain.

SOUND FOOTSTEPS

SFX RADIO RECEDES AGAIN

SOUND FEET ON LINO

TRUDY Have a seat?

JACK As you instruct.

SOUND SQUEAK OF CHAIR

TRUDY [chuckles] You look so darned human, I keep forgetting you're a machine.

JACK I am X-14, designated Jack Boscome.

TRUDY Glad you like the name.

JACK Explain. What is Like.

TRUDY First sick. Hmm. Well, that's a toughee. Humans, like machines, have lots of parts that all work together - and when one of the parts doesn't work right - like instead of breathing, you start coughing - that's what it means to be sick.

JACK Repair seems the obvious answer. Explain.

TRUDY Well, see you might be repairable - like if you broke a spring or something, you could just go in, take out the spring and put in a new one, but it doesn't work that way for living things - If one of our parts starts to break, it has to fix itself.

JACK Processing. Corollary - Timmy is sick. Which part is broken?

TRUDY [ashamed] Well, he's not really sick. That was a lie. My friend Susan keeps trying to fix me up with guys, and I -- well, I really just forgot, we were so caught up with having you working and all.

JACK Explain. What is lie.

TRUDY [rueful] Oh, boy...

SCENE 15.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

MOCKAM Three more units!

POCKAM Three? Nonfunctional?

MOCKAM Worse - three more we could not retrieve effectively, so destruct function was activated.

POCKAM Only five still functional! When is retrieval?

MOCKAM It is being done.

SCENE 16.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

SOUND POUNDING ON DOOR, FOOTSTEPS, DOOR OPENED QUICKLY

TRUDY [breathless] Yes? Mrs. Mac--

MACGRUDER [furious] Don't you Mrs. MacGruder me with that innocent look on your face, young lady!

TRUDY But--! I--!

MACGRUDER I know you have a man in here. I've seen him through the window. What kind of a place do you think I'm running here? And you with a child in the house!

TRUDY Oh, but he's--

JACK [slightly off, sounding less robotic] Trudy? Is there a problem?

TRUDY [thinking fast] Mrs. MacGruder, this is Jack Boscome. He's a-- a [moving closer, whispering] He's a vet. Battle fatigued. Our office sent a memo around, asking for people willing to open their homes to these boys. How could I say no?

MACGRUDER [much softened] But it's--

TRUDY He stays in the living room. On the couch. He's really good with Timmy.

TIMMY [off] Jack? Hey, ask me that question again. On my homework.

TRUDY See?

JACK [off] What is the capitol of Idaho?

MACGRUDER [resigned] You should have told me.

TRUDY I wanted to wait and see if it was going to work out first. I didn't want anyone to make a fuss right away - he's still pretty nervous, you know?

MACGRUDER That's why he never leaves the house, eh?

TRUDY Yup.

MACGRUDER All right. All right. No monkey shines, now!

TRUDY Cross my heart.

SOUND DOOR SHUTS

TRUDY Whew.

JACK [coming on, sounding just like a robot] Explain? What is battle fatigue? [then softening] I should probably know.

SCENE 17.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

MOCKAM They are all disabled. All but the X-14 unit.

POCKAM All? But we landed thirty--

MOCKAM Apparently we both overestimated and underestimated the humans. Twelve were rendered nonfunctional in assembly, six were completed and placed in government hands and had to be destructed, and eight were never even opened.

POCKAM Records show these beings are much more curious and greedy than that. Wait. What of the other three?

MOCKAM [almost reluctant] They tried to resist retrieval and were destroyed.

SCENE 18.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

SFX SCENE 2 PLAYS ON RADIO IN B/G

[following line about Death-O-tron]

TIMMY Man, I wish we had a Death-o-tron landship. I wouldn't have to walk to school any more.

JACK But you are not afraid? What if Tunis comes here. His landship will crush this house.

TIMMY [exasperated sigh] Jack. Tunis is just a story. Did you really think all this stuff on the radio was true?

JACK Why would it not be true? Explain.

TIMMY It's ... fun. Like make believe. Everyone makes stuff up - you mean you don't have stories where you come from?

JACK I don't know where I come from. My memories begin when you assembled me.

TIMMY Oh, hold on [listen to the final part of the scene, then as the announcer comes on]. That's kind of sad. You're sort of just a kid, too. [pause] But you learn real fast.

SCENE 19.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

MOCKAM We must assume this data is correct.

POCKAM I would prefer a second opinion.

MOCKAM Of course, but we cannot take chances. There is another planet in the Gargon Nebula whose dominant life form hasn't yet left the ground. They should be easy to conquer and enslave.

POCKAM The Gargon Nebula is light years from here! We should--

MOCKAM We are under orders. No unnecessary chances.

SCENE 20.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

AMBIANCE PARTY - SMALL CROWD. RADIO MUSIC PLAYS IN THE B/G

TRUDY [whispered] Just stick to the plan. They all want to meet you. You remember?

JACK I am unable to forget. The plan is if the answer to a question is awkward, I ask them what they like on the radio and let them talk.

TRUDY Right. Everybody here practically lives for one show or another. You thought Timmy was stuck on his shows- wait until Mrs. MacGruder starts regaling you with the plot from "my fifth husband." Just don't go thinking anything they say is real.

JACK Timmy explained--

SOUND DOOR OPENS

MACGRUDER [coming on] Trudy! You look lovely. And this must be--

JACK Jack Boscome.

MACGRUDER I hear you were in the army?

JACK I-- [uncomfortable beat, error noise] uh, uh, would rather talk about you. Do you listen to the radio?

MACGRUDER [fading out] Oh, just occasionally...

BRIEF MUSIC - TIME PASSES - SAME SCENE

SUSAN Oh-ho!

TRUDY What?

SUSAN Nothing. Just Oh-ho. Can't a girl Oh-ho a friend without someone thinking maybe she just put all the pieces together and realized why said friend is no longer interested in coming out on Saturday nights?

TRUDY Jack? Oh, he's just--

SUSAN Living in your house. Where do I sign up?

TRUDY Oh, that reminds me - I told Mrs. MacGruder he was a vet, and the office set it up. Don't let on, OK?

SUSAN Oh-ho!

BRIEF MUSIC - TIME PASSES - SAME SCENE

CHUTNEY [coming on] You, boy!

JACK Me? I am Jack--

CHUTNEY We met earlier, remember?

JACK [almost mechanical sounding] You are Colonel Chutney. 12th mobile. Great War. Medal of--

CHUTNEY It isn't a test, my boy. Don't try so hard. [pause] I wanted you to know that there is someone here who understands your condition and what you've been through.

JACK Explain?

CHUTNEY I've seen a number of cases - of course, we called it shell shock - but it's all the same thing. If you ever need to talk to anyone, and don't want to disturb the ladies. I'm just across the court.

JACK [more and more lost and confused] Talk?

CHUTNEY About your experiences in the war. Battle fatigue is nothing to sneeze at--

JACK Oh! Yes. Yes, sir.

CHUTNEY [chuckles, then insinuating] What sort of action did you see?

JACK Sir? Do you listen to the radio, sir?

CHUTNEY Oh, you can't trust the radio for intelligence. Everything on it is either so covert no one would recognize it or outright fiction. Were you with infantry?

JACK [almost panicking, getting more robotic] Sir? I cannot answer that.

CHUTNEY You can't shock me, son.

JACK [error noise, very bad] uh, uh, uh, I was slugged, and tortured. Tied up while the water came in. Flooded with gas. [drawing from a radio episode from earlier]

CHUTNEY [shocked] P-O-W? I am so sorry, my boy. No wonder. I won't ask you any more. Just know that I'm always ready to listen.

SCENE 21.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

MOCKAM What shall we do with this unit?

POCKAM X-14? The only logical choice is to vaporize it. Its memory cells are congested with data from this planet. It is easier to assemble a new unit than to refresh this one.

SCENE 22.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

AMBIANCE OUTSIDE, NIGHT

SFX SOMEWHERE A RADIO PLAYS ROMANTIC MUSIC

SOUND FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL

TRUDY You were marvelous. I was so worried when Colonel Chutney buttonholed you like that.

JACK [almost teasing] Explain. What is buttonholed?

TRUDY [chuckles fondly] Only three weeks, and you sound like any other guy. And you look so real. I-- It's nice having a man around the house, you know. Timmy loves you, and the way you fixed the furnace!

JACK Machines make sense. Humans are confusing.

TRUDY Don't I know it! I- I confuse myself sometimes.

JACK Explain?

TRUDY I can't. Some things are just inexplicable. Like ... love.

JACK Explain?

TRUDY I- well... Love is a lot like "like". Just stronger.

JACK A feeling of attachment and a desire to be near the object of the feeling?

TRUDY More or less.

JACK As an example, you love Timmy?

TRUDY Yes!

JACK And Timmy loves-- Jake, Mack and Frenchy.

TRUDY [chuckling] Yes.

JACK Do you think love can be learned?

TRUDY I-- Well, I really don't know.

JACK If this is a topic you do not wish to discuss, we can talk about radio shows.

TRUDY [laughing] No. It's just a topic that no one finds easy to discuss.

JACK I would like to learn more.

MOCKAM [on filter] Unit X-14! Unit X-14! Prepare for imminent retrieval.

JACK Did you hear that?

TRUDY What?

JACK [sigh, starting to sound more and more robotic] I am a robot.

TRUDY I know, but somehow it doesn't matter.

JACK I may come to understand feelings such as love, but I cannot feel them.

TRUDY You once said you could never lie, and look how that turned out.

JACK I have completed my time with you. [error noise] uh, uh, uh, uh, I have no feelings for this world or its inhabitants. Uh, uh, I will fulfill my mission.

TRUDY Jack, what's wrong?

SOUND FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL, AWAY

TRUDY Jack!

SCENE 23.

MUSIC SPACE

AMBIANCE SPACE SHIP

JACK [very robotic] I am capable of further use.

POCKAM What? Did you speak out of turn, X-14?

JACK Destroying me-- this unit would be a waste of resources. Logic dictates utilizing all capabilities.

POCKAM What did they teach this thing down there? no wonder three units had the self-motivation to destruct themselves.

MOCKAM The unit cites logic. Let it continue.

JACK This unit has assimilated enough to remain out of the hands of government entities, and to blend into society on the planet below.

MOCKAM True.

JACK Continued data gathering is always of use.

MOCKAM One unit is not enough to gather all the data we would need for a full scale attack - not in our projected time frame.

JACK If you go to the Gargon Nebula, this unit can continue to gather information for your return.

MOCKAM It might work, at that.

POCKAM But it will be forty of this planet's years before we would return from the Gargon Nebula!

SCENE 24.

MUSIC 40s MELODRAMA

TRUDY [sigh] No, Colonel. He had a -- a bad relapse and had to -- go back to the hospital.

CHUTNEY [on phone] Too bad. Good boy, that. When he comes back... well, a divorcee like yourself could do a lot worse.

TRUDY [trying not to cry] I-- I know. I have to go, Colonel, there's someone at the door.

SOUND AS IF ON CUE, KNOCK ON DOOR

SOUND PHONE HANGS UP

SOUND RUNNING FEET, DOOR FLUNG OPEN

TIMMY [off, yelling, happy and excited] Hey mom! It's a big wooden box!

TRUDY [excited gasp] Huh?

END

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RADIO SCENE 1

ANNOUNCER --in the underground caves beneath the tiny mining town.

MUSIC STING

JAKE Look, Mack! It's Frenchy!

FRENCHY Ooooh.

MAC Well, dip me in honey and roll me in a haystack! He's been slugged!

FRENCHY [bad french accent] Jake? They took the scrimshaw! I couldn't stop them!

JAKE I know, Frenchy. Mack, Check that door - see if it's clear. We'll have to leave Frenchy someplace safe while we go after the Syndicate boys. If they find him, he'll be tortured, or worse.

SOUND SHAKING LOCKED DOOR

MACK Well boil me fer a rutabaga sandwich, the door won't open!

JAKE What's that noise?

MACK Sounds like someone went and left a faucet running.

FRENCHY Jake! The floor! It is water!

JAKE So that's the plan, is it - they'll drown us here like rats!

MUSIC STING

****************************************************

RADIO SCENE 2

SNAP HARPER As long as we have breath, he won't rule the world. Are you with me Amanda?

AMANDA COOL Anything you say, Snap!

SNAP HARPER If we can just get to the central coolant chamber of his death-o-tron landship, Amanda, I think we might be able to--

TUNIS [on filter] To -- what? Go on Snap Harper, I am -- powerfully interested.

AMANDA COOL Tunis the Unstoppable! Snap! He's found us, but how?

SNAP HARPER He must have listening devices planted in these service crawlspaces. Blast Tunis's cleverness!

TUNIS I would return the compliment, Snap Harper, but it would be pointless.

AMANDA COOL Oh, Snap!

TUNIS For you are about to die! Flood the room with gas!

MUSIC STING

ANNOUNCER After just a short word from our sponsor, Tunis the Unstopppable will outline his cunning plan for doing in Snap Harper. But first--

--END--

944 episodes