Where Threads Come Loose
"Jules & K: The Perpetual Bile Machine

The Recording Script

• Written and directed by Christopher Bahn.
• Episode 28 (1997 Edition) of the radiodrama series Where Threads Come Loose
• Originally broadcast on KUOM-AM August 1995
• Engineered by Dan Grothe and Christopher Bahn

• Surly Coffeeshop Employee, K, Announcer: Christopher Bahn
• Crampton: Joel Stitzel
• Jenkins: Adam Pagel
• Dave: Dan Grothe
• Jules: Tony Pagel
• Leonard: Dan Sigelman

Author's Notes
• Probably my favorite single-episode story, except perhaps for the first Sherlock Holmes parody.

SCENE I: Cafe Pathetique
Announcer: 1913. The great powers of Europe stand poised on the brink of world war. Soon a wave of fire will pass across this land, wiping out a generation in its prime and changing forever the destiny of seven continents and the lives of billions. (pause) Too bad that's not what today's story is about, huh? Sure sounded exciting to me, but I'm just the announcer, and do the scriptwriters ever listen to me? Instead, we bring you Cafe Pathetique, and the enthralling spectacle of a man about to order an espresso. Kind of a letdown, if you ask me.

(Cafe ambience)

Art by Dan Grothe & Christopher Bahn
Jules: Hello, my good man! Could I get an espresso?

Surly: Eh?

Jules: An espresso, please. I always love to start a day of writing poetry with a good, strong espresso.

Surly: Oh, yeah, yeah, an espresso, sure. (SFX: Espresso maker hiss)

Jules: Thank you. Are you feeling alright?

Surly: Eh? Oh, yeah, yeah, I'm fine, whatever. Why?

Jules: You haven't made any sarcastic comments at me.

Surly: What, you want me to?

Jules: No, no, but I expect you to. You're always mean and sharp with the customers. That's why we call you the surly coffeeshop employee. (pause, but no response) You passed up three good openings to puncture my self-esteem. You could have pointed out that anyone who starts his day at 2:30 in the afternoon is a lazy slob. But you didn't.

Surly: Jules, I'm watching those—

Jules: You could have once again disparaged my poetry, which even I admit is an easy target. But you didn't.

Surly: Jules, be quiet. I'm tryin' to see what—

Jules: And this espresso! You made it promptly and without complaint! And—(sips)—it's actually good!

Surly: Look, buddy, I'm not gonna give you my usual bad service just because you ask for it! Get a life!

Jules: That's more like it! What took you so long?

Surly: I'm watchin' those two guys in the lab coats over by Table 6.

Jules: Oh, my... What are they doing?

Surly: I dunno. They've been in here for the last twenty minutes, just wandering slowly from table to table, pointing that piece of equipment that fat one's holding at people, and then shakin' their heads and moving on.

Jules: How odd!

Surly: Yeah. I don't like it. I don't like many things, actually, but I especially don't like weird things goin' on in my cafe that I don't understand.

Jules: They're coming over here to the counter.

Surly: Alright. Listen, you got yer espresso, so scram. I wanna talk to these two goons and get to the bottom of this.

Crampton: Jenkins, sweep this area for any energy traces or negativity spikes.

Surly: Welcome to Cafe Pathetique! Can I take yer order?

Jenkins: The readings are very strong here by the counter, sir.

Surly: Listen, you two, are you gonna order something to drink, or am I gonna have to boot you outta my establishment?

(SFX: Geiger counter)

Crampton: Let me see... Hmm! That's the highest bile count I've seen in months!

Surly: Did you chumps hear me? I asked if you wanted a coffee. The only kind of rootless vagrant I like is one who's already paid for his drink.

(SFX: Another surge)

Crampton: Good heavens! That one's off the scale!

Jenkins: I think we've found the source, sir.

Surly: The source? The source of what? What's going on?

Crampton: Sir, My name is Emil Crampton. I'm with the United States Geological Survey.

Surly: I don't care if you're the King of England, I want you to explain yourself. (SFX: surge)

Crampton: But I'm not the King of England, sir. I'm but a humble geologist.

Surly: That's not what I meant. What's with the geiger counter you keep wavin' in my face?

Jenkins: Um... Sir, aren't you going to introduce me too?

Crampton: We're on the track of an inexhaustible new source of power.

Surly: What's that got to do with me?

Jenkins: Sir, I'm really feeling left out here.

Crampton: It's got everything to do with you! You see, it's our job to find replacements for the day billions of years from now when the sun runs out of fuel, expands into a red giant, melts the Earth into slag, and eliminates solar power as a viable option for our nation's energy needs.

Surly: Uh-huh.

Jenkins: Sir—

Crampton: It's hard work, since the cost-cutters in Congress will only give us $500 million in annual funding.

Jenkins: Sir, I'd really like to be included.

Surly: Alright, alright, introduce your assistant here already, before he breaks down crying.

Crampton: What—you mean Jenkins here? Jenkins, why didn't you say anything?

Jenkins: I did. You didn't notice. (his voice breaks) You never notice me. I'm just an object to you. You never say nice things about me!

Crampton: Jenkins, that's a hurtful comment. I'm a nice person, I can say nice things. How can you say I can't say nice things?

Jenkins: I'm sorry, sir... It just gets so lonely sometimes.

Crampton: Jenkins, you know it's not good to act out like you just did. How do you think that makes me feel, when you say I can't say nice things?

Jenkins: I don't know, sir.

Crampton: It makes me feel not very nice. I feel emotional pain. You made the pain inside me, Jenkins. Was that nice?

Jenkins: I'm sorry, sir, I just... I just don't feel validated.

Surly: Validated? What are you, a parking ticket? (SFX: surge)

Crampton: Jenkins, I'm so contrite. I want to offer you my apologies. I want you to know that I appreciate you as a person.

Surly: Oh, for God's sake... (SFX: Another surge)

Jenkins: Thank you, sir. (sniffs) That means a lot to me.

Crampton: Sir, I'd like to introduce my assistant—

Jenkins: Capable assistant.

Crampton: My capable assistant—

Jenkins: And loyal, too.

Crampton: My loyal, capable assistant Maurice Jenkins.

Jenkins: Hi.

Surly: Charmed. I'm sure. (SFX: surge)

Jenkins: He doesn't like me, sir.

Surly: Oh, dear... I seem to have made a bad first impression. (SFX: surge)

Jenkins: (sobs) Don't be so mean!

Crampton: Now, Jenkins... If he's what we think he is, it's nothing personal that he finds you to be a whining marshmallow.

Surly: Hey, don't go putting words in my mouth. Even if they are the words I would have used. (SFX: surge)

Crampton: Sorry.

Surly: What did you mean, if he's what we think he is?

Crampton: Well, recently we discovered that certain kinds of extremely concentrated negative energy could be connected to turbines and made to generate thousands, even millions, of kilowatt-hours which could be used by our public utilities.

Surly: What kind of negative energy?

Crampton: Well, in a manner of speaking, it's psychic energy. The power of the human brain, at last properly harnessed for a decent scientific use. Finally, those wasted hours spent watching Baywatch could do something good for the citizenship at large.

Surly: You don't say. (SFX: surge)

Crampton: I see you're skeptical, and as a man of science I must say I appreciate the sentiment. It's dreadfully important to maintain a healthily unbiased attitude in any scientific endeavor.

Surly: Uh-huh. You got a point to all this, or are you just letting out some excess wind? (SFX: surge)

Crampton: Excess wind, mostly. It's a bad habit, I know, but I just can't resist an audience. Oh, I like to tell people it's the love of explaining science to the common man that gets me going, but I've got to admit I just like to hear myself talk, it wouldn't matter what I was saying.

Surly: Yeah, well—

Crampton: I could even go off spouting total nonsense if I felt like it. I simply enjoy flapping my jaw. See, listen to this—Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah—

Surly: Listen... Crampton—

Crampton: (oblivious) Blah blah blah blah blah—Hey, let go of my coat lapels!

Surly: Let me put it another way, tubby—explain yourself right now, in plain, simple language, or I'll introduce you to my nice, loyal, competent friend Mr. Knuckles.

Crampton: Ahem. Yes. We are tracking the particular kind of negative brainwave given off by a very specific personality. One given to sarcasm, invective, malice and bile.

Surly: Huh. Well, it's too bad there's nobody around here like that.

Crampton: On the contrary, sir! You're a prime source, if my readings are correct.

Surly: I was being ironic, Crampton.

Crampton: (Pause) Oh. How very droll. Well, you see, we'd like you to come with us, so we can run some tests on you—

Surly: Wait a minute! If you think I'm gonna take part in some crackpot scheme—

Crampton: Sir, that hurts my feelings. It is not a crackpot scheme.

Surly: Oh, I'm sorry. It's obviously right up there with Edison and the Wright Brothers.

Crampton: Oh, my... That's very high praise, sir.

Surly: I was being ironic again.

Crampton: Oh—damn! That mode of speech always catches me off guard.

Surly: I am not leaving Cafe Pathetique.

Crampton: Please, sir! Think of science!

Surly: You want to stick a bunch of wires in me because you've got this nutty idea that sarcasm can run a few lightbulbs? You're a couple of weirdos.

Jenkins: That's not fair! It's real science! I did all the math without a calculator! Except for the long division.

Crampton: Jenkins...

Jenkins: And most of the stuff with really big numbers.

Crampton: Not now, Jenkins.

Surly: Oh, just ignore him. He only wants attention.

Jenkins: That's not fair.

Surly: Here's a biscuit, boy, go fetch!

Jenkins: A biscuit! I love biscuits! Where'd it go?

Surly: You were saying, Crampton?

Crampton: I'm saying you've got to come with us! Sir, we picked up readings from you six blocks away! My sarcasmometer went up to a 10.6! A 10.6, sir, think of it!

Surly: That's swell. What's it mean?

Crampton: It means that you, sir, are the orneriest S.O.B. either east or west of the Pecos. You're a mean, mean, nasty man, the most disagreeable and hateful person within American borders. I've made a special Sarcasm Census, trying to find the most bilious person in the nation, and you, sir, are the tops. You're the Mona Lisa of malcontent.

Surly: Really?

Crampton: Yes. Even Bob Dole only got a 10.3.

Surly: Huh. And me not even a Republican. (pause) That's kind of flattering, actually.

Crampton: Wonderful. So if you'll just come along with us...

Surly: I'm not going anywhere.

Crampton: But sir, I really need to run those tests.

Surly: I don't wanna go, I said.

Crampton: I'm afraid I can't take no for an answer.

Surly: I told you—

Crampton: Jenkins! Confiscate him!

Jenkins: But I'm still trying to find that biscuit, sir!

Crampton: Oh, hang the biscuit! I'll give you two biscuits back at the lab.

Jenkins: Two biscuits! Oh, thank you, sir! I'll get him!

Surly: Hey! Get this net offa me! What do you people think you're doing? (He goes on castigating them in the background until he's dragged off) Put me down, you great bastards, or I'll have my uncle the corrupt police lieutenant come and burn your house down, and then have you arrested for kidnapping and arson.

Crampton: I'm really terribly sorry, but I've got a job to do, you know. I've got to take you in, unwilling or not.

Jenkins: You know, sir, he might actually be more productive this way.

Crampton: Jenkins, it's my opinion that he might actually be more productive this way. If he's detained against his will, he'll be twice as ornery! Why, the discontent of being locked up could double his output of bilious energy!

Jenkins: Sir, this malcontent could make us rich.

Crampton: Yes—not to mention the public good!

Jenkins: And the money, sir.

Crampton: And the money, Jenkins! Think of that!

Jenkins: Yes, sir.

Crampton: At last, Jenkins! After years of searching, we've finally found it!

Jenkins: A source of unlimited negative energy.

Crampton: A man who can light up entire cities with a single sarcastic comment.

Geologists: (together) The Perpetual Bile Machine!

Crampton: Let's drag him into the van.

(SCE's angry ranting fades)

Jules: Excuse me! Come back! Can I get some service here! (pause) Drat. For heavens sake, that surly coffeeshop employee is never around when you want him.

Leonard: Hey, dude. Why the long face?

Jules: Oh, hello, Leonard. I'm just waiting to get some coffee.

Leonard: Where's the surly coffeeshop employee?

Jules: I don't know. I saw him leave the building just now, but he didn't say when he'd be back.

Leonard: I'm sure he just stepped out for a second. Why don't we wait?

Jules: Alright.

(Some jaunty, sprightly waiting music plays)

SCENE II: Cafe Pathetique
Announcer: Fifteen minutes later...

Jules: Where is he?

Leonard: He won't be long.

K: Hello, Jules. Hello, Leonard.

Leonard: Hi, K.

K: Are you in line for coffee?

Jules: Yes.

K: Good. I'm just dying for a latte. Say... Jules, why are you in line? You've already got an espresso.

Jules: I want another one in case of an emergency.

K: Ah. Very wise. You can't be too careful these days.

Jules: We've been waiting the the counterman to come back.

K: Well, I'm sure he won't be long. Let's keep waiting.

(Some jaunty, sprightly waiting music plays)

SCENE III: The lab
(A door bursts open, and SCE's muffled protests grow louder, as do two sets of footsteps. Crampton and Jenkins throw Surly down)

Crampton: Now, Jenkins, if he's secure in the cage, put the shackles on him.

Jenkins: Yes, sir.

(SFX: Shackles close, lock)

Crampton: Excellent! You may remove his gag. Be careful he doesn't bite you—remember worker's comp isn't covered, thanks to our measly budget.

Surly: It's about time you took that offa me! Where the hell is this you've taken me?

Crampton: This is our laboratory, sir!

Surly: It's quite a dump. You just let me outta here right now, and maybe I won't press no charges.

Crampton: Now, now, silly man—don't let a few well-meant but inconvenient laws get in the way of progress!

Surly: Alright, forget the cops. You ain't gonna get away with this!

Crampton: I suppose you think your customers from the coffeeshop are going to come rescue you?

Surly: Tch—I wish. They're probably still waiting in line for coffee right now, even though I know Jules saw me being dragged off. It might be days before they realize I'm not coming back.

Crampton: Now come on—I'm no fool. This has to be an example of your celebrated sarcasm. They can't really be that bad!

Surly: Lemme tell you, guy—in the great coffeemaker of life, my clientele is a bunch of automatic drips.

Crampton: If you don't like it there, why are you in such a hurry to go back?

Surly: Well, these shackles certainly are comfortable, (SFX: surge) but Cafe Pathetique's my home. It's the only place I feel comfortable.

Crampton: Tut-tut! We'll be your family now! We'll even buy you Christmas presents if you like. Won't we, Jenkins?

Jenkins: You never bought me a Christmas present.

Crampton: Jenkins, I'm trying to make the man feel at home.

Surly: For the last time, Crampton, I don't wanna be your guinea pig!

Crampton: (shocked) Sir! I wish you wouldn't refer to yourself as a... "guinea pig." It's very insensitive, you know. The word has terrible associations. Testing on live, helpless animals is completely unethical!

Surly: I see—the stigma drops when the victim can freely complain, huh?

Crampton: Certainly. It's your First Amendment right, and I wouldn't dream of violating it.

Surly: Right. (SFX: surge)

Crampton: Sir, you're going to help us make a major scientific breakthrough, and I'm afraid you're just going to have to get used to the idea. I'll come back later to get your vital statistics, and then we'll be all set for the tests. Jenkins!

Jenkins: Yes, sir?

Crampton: I'm going to lunch. While I'm gone, finish setting up the measuring devices and stick our friend here with the electrodes.

Jenkins: Yes, sir.

Crampton: And make sure to really jab them in hard. We want to maximize his negativity quotient.

Jenkins: Yes, sir.

(SFX: Door close)

Jenkins: He didn't even say goodbye.

Surly: Boy, that's tough, Jenkins.

Jenkins: He treats me like a piece of meat. (pause) Hold your head still.

Surly: Ow!

Jenkins: Did that hurt?

Surly: Of course it hurts, you maundering jackanapes!

Jenkins: Good, then I'm doing it right. Here's two more.

Surly: Ow! Now, c'mon! Ow! Jenkins, how would you feel if—ow!—somebody stuck you—ow!—full of electrodes?

Jenkins: Oh, they did that to me during freshman hazing at the technical college. I'm used to it. As a scientist, I'm trained never to worry about the suffering of others. It's a weakness, you know.

Surly: You don't—ow!—You don't say...

Jenkins: Well, they're all in place. Don't take them out, because I'll only have to go and jab them back in harder.

Surly: Thanks for the advice, you humanitarian, you.

Jenkins: Gosh—me, a humanitarian? You mean it?

Surly: Um... sure, yeah.

Jenkins: Wow, thanks! You're a swell guy for a total jerk!

Surly: Don't mention it. And I mean that. Not to anyone. It'd destroy my street cred.

Jenkins: Sure. I'm going to go set up the equipment in the other room.

Surly: Be careful. It'd sure be a pity if a big piece of machinery fell on top of you.

Jenkins: Wow—you're concerned for my welfare! What a neat person. (SFX: Door slam)

Surly: Heh. He didn't say goodbye either.... I got a bad feeling about this. It goes against every lack of principle I've got, but I think the only way for me to get outta here is... ugh... to make those two chowderheads—ugh! I can barely say it!—sympathize with me. I'm in Hell.

SCENE IV: Cafe Pathetique
Announcer: Back at Cafe Pathetique, Four hours later...

Jules: Where is that surly coffeeshop employee?

Leonard: He won't be long.

K: I still want that latte.

Dave: Hey, guys.

Leonard: Hi, Dave. What's up?

Dave: You guys in line for coffee?

Jules: Yes. I can't imagine where the counterman is.

Dave: Have you been waiting long?

Leonard: Yeah.

Dave: How long?

Leonard: I don't know. I never learned how to tell time.

Jules: About four hours.

K: But it's not like we have anything better to do.

Dave: Well, I'm sure he won't be long. Let's just wait here for him.

K: I don't know...

Jules: Do you have a better idea, K?

K: Well... no.

Jules: Then let's just keep waiting.

(Some jaunty, sprightly waiting music plays)

SCENE V: The lab.
Crampton: Good day to you, sir! I'm back from lunch. Are you not comfortable?

Surly: Yes.

Crampton: Good, good. Stay cranky!

Surly: Listen, Crampton, I've been wondering...

Crampton: Ah, yes! I love a chance to educate the public on scientific issues.

Surly: What happens to me after you drain me of all my negative energy?

Crampton: To explain that fully, I'd have to use many technical terms and words of less than one syllable.

Surly: Well, just gimme the gist, OK?

Crampton: In a nutshell, your body shrivels up like a dead waterbug and crumbles into dust. We sweep up what's left and ship it to a toxic biohazard dumping facility in Pittsburgh.

SCE:What? You can't do that to me!

Crampton: Chin up, sir! Before we turn on the turbines I need to get some information from you for my records. It's just a standard X-12 Victim of Science document. We need it for the IRS.

Surly: Fire away.

Crampton: Name?

Surly: My name?

Crampton: Of course your name.

Surly: Who wants to know?

Crampton: I do, of course. There's no point in being cagey about it. What's your name?

Surly: I don't know.

Crampton: What?

Surly: You heard me, wise guy. I said I don't know.

Crampton: What do people call you?

Surly: At the cafe, they call me the surly coffeeshop employee, or "that jerk." Nobody's ever asked me what my name is.

Crampton: What, never?

Surly: Well, hardly ever. Sometimes people want my name so they can complain to the management. But when they try that, I usually change faces real quick and act like I'm real sorry for the problem, but I slip some salt into their coffee.

Crampton: Why?

Surly: I don't want them to know I don't know my real name. People would mock me, and I couldn't stand that. I'm really a very sensitive guy, you know.

Crampton: Well, don't get too sensitive on us. Your bile could power half of Southern California.

Surly: Gosh. I guess it's just my duty as a citizen to sit here strapped to a chair with electrodes coming out of my head.

Crampton: Indeed.. But, your name. Why don't you have one?

Surly: Never said I didn't. I just don't know it. My parents never told me. Why do you think I'm full of negative energy?

Crampton: Heavens!

Surly: Yes. (significant pause) I was unloved, you know.

Crampton: Oh, that's terrible!

Jenkins: I was unloved too!

Surly: Really?

Jenkins: Oh, yes.

Surly: You're not just saying that as a cheap way of drawing more attention to yourself?

Jenkins: Um.... No!

Surly: My heavens, I certainly believe you. We're both unloved, eh? Why, that gives us something in common!

Jenkins: Wow—you're right!

Crampton: Mr. Surly Coffeeshop Employee, please do us the honor of telling us your tale of personal woe.

Surly: Oh, no, I couldn't. It's too personal. And too woeful.

Jenkins: Oh, please!

Surly: Well, if you insist. It all started when I was just a little baby, born to a poor but surly family of Czechoslovakian immigrants. We didn't have much, but we had a bad attitude. And we had each other, which made it worse. (He keeps going, but we fade out and scene-change music rises)

SCENE VI: Cafe Pathetique
Announcer: The next morning, at Cafe Pathetique...

K: Well, this is terribly unreasonable to make us wait this long.

Dave: Where could he be?

Leonard: I dunno. But Jules said he saw him leave.

Dave: Hmmm. Jules? Jules. Jules, wake up.

Jules: (dreaming) Mmmm... no... Mother, put down the sandwich meat...

Dave: Jules, wake up!

Jules: Mother, no, I don't want to be rubbed with summer sausage. Well, alright, but not under the armpits. Mmmmm... yes...

Dave: Jules!

Jules: (wakes up) Eh? Dave! Thank god you've come—I need a loaf of French bread, the biggest you can find!

Dave: It was a dream, Jules.

Jules: It was?

Dave: Yes.

Jules: Damn.

Dave: Forget about that. Do you know where the surly coffeeshop employee went? He's been gone an awful long time.

Jules: I don't know. I saw him leave with two men from the U.S. Geological Survey. But they didn't say where they were going.

Dave: What? That's very strange. He didn't say anything?

Jules: Oh, no. He said quite a lot of things.

Dave: Anything stick out in your mind?

Jules: Hmmm... Yes! Yes, I distinctly remember that at one point, he said "Put me down, you great bastards, or I'll have my uncle the corrupt police lieutenant come and burn your house down, and then have you arrested for kidnapping and arson."

K: Drat. You can't remember anything useful, then?

Jules: No, I'm afraid not.

Dave: You two are the stupidest people I know.

Leonard: Hey, man, that's not true.

Dave: Oh, OK—besides you, Leonard.

Leonard: Thanks, man.

Dave: Jules, why didn't you tell me before that the surly coffeeshop employee had been kidnapped?

Jules: I didn't think anybody would care. I mean, who likes the guy anyway?

K: Yes. He's a jerk.

Dave: K, he's the only person who can serve us our coffees.

K: What? Oh, my God! We're doomed! Call the FBI!

Leonard: Hey, man—I can't stay in this line forever. I've got important television shows to watch.

Jules: Oh, don't be such a whiner, Leonard.

K: Yes. You can always tape them and watch later.

Leonard: But, dude, if I leave, I'll lose my place in line.

Dave: Hang on, let's stick to the issue here! Jules, why did the geochemists kidnap the surly coffeeshop employee?

Jules: They wanted to run some tests on him.

Dave: Why?

Jules: They had this theory that sarcasm could be harnessed as a source of near-perpetual negative energy.

Dave: What a dumb idea.

K: Yes—right, Jules. I really believe that!

(SFX: Electric crackle)

Leonard: Aaaagh!

K: Oh... sorry, Leonard.

Leonard: That smarted.

K: OK, maybe there is something to the idea.

Jules: You should really go put some ointment on that, Leonard.

Dave: Well, shouldn't we go rescue him, or something?

K: Let him stew.

Jules: Why should we rescue a person who's never shown any of us the slightest shred of decency or friendship?

Dave: I told you—he's the only person who can serve us our coffees.

Leonard: And I told you, man, I don't want to lose my place in line.

Dave: Leonard, we'll be here until the day we die if we don't take some action.

Jules: But Dave, we don't want to go rescue him.

K: Why don't we consider our options?

Jules: Alright... let's sit here and think about it for awhile.

Dave: But—Oh, alright.

(Some jaunty, sprightly waiting music plays)

SCENE VII: The lab.
Announcer: Later, at the lab.

Surly: And so I asked for a puppy—a small cuddly animal friend I could shower affection on.

Crampton: And the people at the reform school wouldn't let you have one? How cruel!

Surly: Yeah. Gee willikers, but it hurt my self-esteem.

Jenkins: What kind of puppy did you want?

Surly: Um... give me a minute...

Jenkins: I always wanted a big friendly Irish setter.

Surly: What a coincidence. That's what I wanted too—a big friendly Irish setter.

Jenkins: I would've named mine Mr. Squoogums.

Surly: Gosh—me too.

Jenkins: Wow!

Crampton: Mr. Surly Coffeeshop Employee, it's terrible about your childhood. It reminds me of my own days as a lonely young geochemist, wandering the halls of my grade school in my lab coat hoping to find a friend who shared my interest in finding large patches of crude oil available for commercial development.

Jenkins: I miss my Mr. Squoogums.

Surly: You know, I've been thinkin'... seein' as we've got all this stuff in common, you could maybe unlock these shackles and—

Crampton: What? Never!

Jenkins: But sir, he's just like us!

Crampton: Jenkins, without him we have no way to energize our negativity turbines!

Jenkins: Couldn't we let him escape just a little bit?

Crampton: He's too important to us! I wouldn't let myself escape if I could win the Nobel Prize for me.

Jenkins: I guess you're right, sir.

Surly: Who would you?

Crampton: What?

Surly: If you wouldn't let yourself escape, who would you let out—speaking hypothetically.

Crampton: Hmmm... let me think. Not my mother, of course.

Surly: How 'bout an elected official?

Crampton: Ah, the wise and benign leaders of our great democracy! (pause) No.

Surly: C'mon, there's gotta be somebody you respect enough to let go.

Crampton: Well... I do have a warm place in my heart for the renowned Hollywood character actor Ernest Borgnine.

Surly: Enough so you'd let him escape?

Crampton: Why, yes! I do believe I'd let Mr. Borgnine go.

Surly: What a coincidence! I lie awake nights dreaming about Ernest Borgnine. In fact, I wish he'd been my father.

Crampton: Why, that's amazing! I must hear all about it!

Surly: I'll tell ya the whole thing. It all started when I first saw "McHale's Navy"... (fade over his speech)

SCENE VIII: Cafe Pathetique
Announcer: Six hours later...

Dave: Well, any ideas, guys?

Leonard: I know! Why don't we just wait here for him to come back!

Dave: We've been trying that, Leonard. It doesn't work.

Leonard: I know, but it's the last thing they'll be expecting!

Jules: My god—you're right!

K: It's so crazy, it just might work!

Dave: Shut up, guys.

Leonard: Jeez.. it was just a suggestion.

Dave: I know! Why doesn't one of us serve the coffee! We won't even have to pay for it then!

K: My god, Dave!

Jules: What a terrible idea.

K: Yes... Dave, you're asking us to be common laborers! We can't do that!

Jules: We're poets!

K: Manual labor is beneath us.

Jules: Yes... Terribly gow-cha.

Dave: Oh, alright. And the word is "gauche." What about you, Leonard?

Leonard: I dunno, man. That equipment looks pretty complicated.

Dave: No, it's not.

Leonard: I'm bad with machines, man.

Dave: Leonard, all you have to do is pour the coffee into a cup.

Leonard: But—

Dave: Just try it, Leonard.

Leonard: But my place in line—

Dave: I'll save it, I'll save it. Just go.

Leonard: Um... OK. (pause) Welcome to Cafe Pathetique. May I help you?

Jules: It's about time we got some service here! Where the hell have you been!

Dave: (through gritted teeth) It's Leonard, Jules.

Jules: Well, that's no excuse for shoddy service.

Dave: Just order something, Jules.

Leonard: I told you, man, I don't feel good about this.

Jules: Let me have a large cafe latte.

Leonard: Um... let's see... How do I do that... I grab the cup in one hand, and the coffeepot in the other, and the latte machine with my foot, and (he panics) Aaaaagh! It's all too complicated! I'm losing control! (SFX: Giant crash) Ouch.

Dave: Oh, alright... I'll serve the coffee.

Jules: You should really put some ointment on that, Leonard.

Leonard: Somebody help get the latte machine off my head.

K: Don't be silly, Leonard. You're on the brink of fashion.

Jules: Yes. First there was ear-piercing, then tattoos, then body-piercing, and now there's having a fifty-pound latte machine on your head.

Leonard: But it hurts...

K: It's the price you pay for being a trendsetter.

Leonard: Oh... OK. Cool.

Jules: Yes. Besides, it's much too heavy for us to lift.

K: We'd probably break a sweat.

Jules: And we can't have that.

K: Certainly not!

Dave: Alright, that's it! Leonard, hold my place in line. I'm going to go rescue the surly coffeeshop employee! (SFX: Door close)

Jules: My my—Dave's become quite the fighter for justice all of a sudden.

K: What a dreamer.

Jules: Yes. Let's keep waiting. He'll be back.

(Some jaunty, sprightly waiting music plays)

SCENE IX: The lab
Crampton: And you say that during all your lowest ebbs, it was thinking of Ernest Borgnine that kept your spirits up?

Surly: Mr. Borgine, I... I owe him so much!

Crampton: That does it! No fellow fan of Ernest Borgnine's going to be locked up in a cage by me! (SFX: shackle unlocking)

Surly: What are you doing?

Crampton: I'm setting you free like a bird!

Surly: Well, what a surprise! Thank you! Crampton, Jenkins, I'd like to shake your hands.

Jenkins: Wow!

Crampton: That's very nice of you, sir—Hey! (SFX: Shackle snaps closed)

Jenkins: What are you doing? (SFX: Shackle snaps closed)

Surly: I'm lockin' you two up in your own cage, and then I'm gettin' the hell out of here. By the way—all that jazz I told you about my tortured childhood, and my dog, and my name, and my undying love for Ernest Borgnine? Lies! I made it all up! Heh heh heh heh heh!

Crampton: You lied? How could you?

Jenkins: Yes—we trusted you!

Crampton: We empathized with you.

Jenkins: We took pity on you!

Crampton: We unlocked your shackles, and... wait a minute...

Jenkins: How could you betray us like that?

Surly: Gosh... You're right! How could my conscience possibly have let me resort to trickery and deceit to turn the tables on your wacky scheme? Tch. I guess the world will never know.

Crampton: You're being ironic, aren't you?

Surly: Heh heh heh heh heh. Very good, Crampton. You're learning.

(SFX: Door bursts open)

Dave: Stop right there, evil geochemists! Release the surly coffeeshop employee!

Surly: Hi, Dave. Thanks for dropping by.

Dave: What's going on?

Surly: You're just... a little late, that's all. I got it covered.

Dave: Oh. Well, there's a long line of customers back at Cafe Pathetique.

Surly: Figured as much. C'mon, let's get back there. I'll offer a special price on espresso to celebrate my puttin' one over on the two rockheads over there.

Crampton: Now, sir, that's just rubbing it in.

Jenkins: He doesn't like me after all! (begins crying)

Surly: Whoop! Excuse my impolite remark. Heh heh heh heh heh!

Dave: You really enjoy this, don't you?

Surly: Heh heh heh heh heh!

Dave: What kind of espresso special?

Surly: I'm gonna raise the price by fifty cents.

Dave: That's not a special!

Surly: Whaddaya gonna do—go to another cafe?

Dave: Well, um... no.

Surly: Heh heh heh heh heh! C'mon, let's head back. Cafe Pathetique has returned to normal—bad coffee, poor service, stupid clientele and lousy atmosphere.

Dave: Great.

Surly: You bet it's great! It's just the way I like it! Heh heh heh heh heh! (cackle fades to credits)