Where Threads Come Loose
"Jules And K: A Jules & K Christmas

The Recording Script

• Written and directed by Christopher Bahn. Copyright 1996.
• From episode 12 of the radiodrama series Where Threads Come Loose (originally episode 18 of 1997 Edition)
• Originally broadcast on KUOM-AM, December 25, 1994.
• Engineered by Dan Grothe and Christopher Bahn

• Jules, Kid 1: Tony Pagel
• K, Surly Coffeeshop Employee, Big Man: Christopher Bahn
• Jules' parents, Kid 2 and 4, Clive: Dan Sigelman
• Boss, Kid 3: Chuck Keller
• Parent: John Sommer
• Existential Kid: Larisa Wolters

Author's Notes
• One half of the Threads Christmas episode, in which Tony and I each wrote a 15-minute story with a holiday theme. Tony's was the much darker "Til It Hurts."
The spirit of Christmas is everywhere during this holiday season—it's in the stores, in the hearts of young children, on your local TV news, just after a segment on how your breakfast cereal might be deadly. It's even on Where Threads Come Loose, as today we bring you two stories from the stranger side of the season of joy. First up, we join everyone's favorite poets and aesthetes in the smoking section of Cafe Pathetique for... "A Jules And K Christmas."

Art by Dan Grothe & Christopher Bahn
SCENE I: Cafe Pathetique
K: Hello, Jules.

Jules: (distracted) What—oh, it's you. Hello, K.

K: What's wrong, Jules? You seem preoccupied.

Jules: Oh, my parents are coming to visit me here in the coffeeshop. I'm not looking forward to it.

K: Why? Don't you like your parents?

Jules: (hotly) Of course not! It's not cool to like your parents. But it's not that.

K: What, then?

Jules: Oh, they said they wanted to talk to me about money or some such boring thing.

K: Oh, dear, not the trust fund?

Jules: I'm afraid so. They tell me I haven't been managing my money properly. I told them, everybody has to have a hobby, right?

K: And yours is poetry.

Jules: Oh, they don't mind that so much.

K: The poetry?

Jules: No, the hobby. They hate the poetry. 

K: Do tell. Who doesn't.

Jules: Hush. No, what they objected to was my new passion for collecting Faberge eggs.

K: Really?

Jules: Yes. And Rolex watches. I bought ten of them the other day from this nice man in the alleyway behind Cafe Pathetique. Here, take a look.

K: You're wearing them all?

Jules: Well, I wouldn't, but wouldn't you know none of these watches seem to keep the proper time. So much for craftsmanship, eh?

K: Rather. When were your parents coming?

Jules: Oh, any time now... In fact, look over there—that's them coming in the door right now! Mother! Father! Over here! 

K: Do you want me to leave?

Jules: No! No! Stay here, K. With a stranger around they might decide not to yell at me very much.

K: Alright.

Jules: Ah, hello, mummy, daddy. This is my friend K. K, I'd like you to meet my parents.

K: Ah... Hello. Pleased to meet you.

Parents: (As Peanuts grownups) Mwaa mwaa mwaa mwaa.

K: What?

Parents: Mwaa mwaa mwaa mwaa.

K: I don't understand.

Parents: Mwaa mwaa mwaa mwaa.

K: Jules, what are they saying?

Jules: (stage whisper) Just humor them, K. They think it's an effective parenting technique.

K: What a stupid idea!

Jules: Don't knock it too hard, K. After all, look how I turned out!

K: That seems to be a pretty big strike against it.

Parents: Mwaa mwaa mwaa mwaa.

Jules: Yes, mother?

Parent: Mwaa mwaa.

Jules: Sorry, I meant father, it's just hard to tell your voices apart sometimes. 

Parents: Mwaa mwaa mwaa mwaa.

Jules: (shocked) You've done what?

Parents: Mwaa mwaa mwaa mwaa.

Jules: You can't take away my trust fund! No, please!

Parents: Mwaa mwaa mwaa mwaa.

Jules: But... but... how will I live?

Parents: Mwaa mwaa mwaa mwaa.

Jules: You can't be serious, mother. Look at these hands! They aren't the hands of a working man! 

Parents: Mwaa mwaa mwaa mwaa.

Jules: No, wait... come back! Don't leave me like this...

K: Bad news? I couldn't understand a word of it.

Jules: The worst. Come on, I've got to get out of here.

K: Where are we going?

Jules: The mall.

K: Oh, God, they don't expect you to buy them Christmas presents again, do they?

Jules: I should hope not. I gave them one each last year. But it's not for shopping that I must brave the demon hut of capitalism. No, K, I fear that a fate more dire than spending one's hard-earned trust fund money on other people has befallen me.

K: (aghast) You don't mean—

Jules: Yes... I've got to get a job.

(Suspense trumpets.)

SCENE II: The Mall
Jules: Excuse me, sir? Is this the mall employment office?

Boss: Yeah, kid, whaddaya want?

Jules: Oh, well, I, you know, thought I'd come by and see the place, and, um, well, you see...

Boss: What is it?

Jules: Well, that is...

Boss: What, what? Spit it out!

Jules: A job, damn you! I came to see you about a job!

Boss: Why didn't you just say so?

Jules: I'm embarrassed. It's beneath me.

Boss: What the hell you talkin' about? No shame in workin', lad!

Jules: Oh, shut up and give me something to pay the rent. This is hard enough for me as it is.

Boss: I oughtta throw you out of here, kid. But I won't, since it's Christmas.

Jules: And your heart is full of cheer?

Boss: No, I got twenty-eight temporary positions to fill and right now I'd take anybody with a pulse if he's willing to work weekends and evenings.

Jules: (can't quite bring himself to sound like he means it) Wonderful. What do you have?

Boss: Well, lemme see... you're just a little bit... chubby... ain'tcha, kid?

Jules: What does that have to do with anything?

Boss: You like kids, boy?

Jules: (again, half-heartedly trying to look happy) Um... love them.

Boss: Good. You're gonna be Santa.

Jules: Oh, good heavens, I can't do that!

Boss: Shaddup and put on the red suit, fat boy. No, not that one—that's a devil outfit left over from Halloween. Put on this one with the white beard. You're on in fifteen minutes.

Jules: Ho ho ho.

SCENE III: Santa's chair in the mall.
Kid 1: And I want a Power Ranger and a machine gun and a GI Joe and another Power Ranger and two Kung Fu Ken dolls with disposable arms and optional ninja kill-swords—

Surly Coffeeshop Employee: Whatever, whatever, kid. Listen, Santa's a little backed up in the North Pole right now, and if ya slip him five bucks it might make your stocking a little fuller after Christmas Eve, know what I mean?

Kid 1: Huh?

Surly Coffeeshop Employee: I'm sayin' Santa's sleigh needs a little grease to make the runners slide smooth, know what I mean?

Kid 1: What do you mean, Santa?

Surly Coffeeshop Employee: A bribe, kid, I'm askin' for a bribe.

Kid 1: Well, why didn't you just say so... Here. But for this I'd better get that Power Ranger or I'll have my dad hit you so hard your belly will shake like a bowl full of jelly.

Surly Coffeeshop Employee: You play hardball, kid, but you got a deal. Now scram.

Kid 1: OK, but remember—don't screw me over.

Jules: Excuse me... I'm the 12:30 to 5:30 Santa? I'm here to relieve you.

Surly Coffeeshop Employee: 'Bout time you got here, pal. But next time send out one of the elves to get me, don't come out here yourself. If the kids see two Santa Clauses in the same place, they'll lose faith in one of America's bedrock institutions.

Jules: (genuinely contrite) Oh—I'm sorry, I didn't realize.

Surly Coffeeshop Employee: S'alright. Here's the chair. Listen, me an' some of the other Santas were gonna meet up later for whiskey, cigars and poker... you want in?

Jules: Oh, I don't think so... I was going to relax at home with a good Bret Easton Ellis novel.

Surly Coffeeshop Employee: That'll be a good trick if you can pull it off... See ya, pal.

Jules: Cheerio, my good man.... (loudly) OK, kids, who's the next young urchin to make a bequest of Old Saint Nicholas? Ah, yes, you, my boy, come on up.

Kid 2: Hi, Santa. 

Jules: Hello, my little Christmas fledgling. What's your name?

Kid 2: Jeffy.

Jules: Well, hello, Jeffy. What do you want for Christmas?

Jules: OK... let me write this down... Did you have a brand name in mind?

Kid 2: Train set.

Jules: Listen, Santa's got a lot to choose from... 

Kid 2: Train set.

Jules: Yes, I heard you the first time.

Kid 2: Train set.

Jules: Listen, kid, I can't get you a train set unless you tell me what kind!

Kid 2: (cries, and runs off) Train set! Train set! Mommy! Mommy! 

Jules: Hmm... I don't think I handled that one very well. Next!

Kid 3: My name is Gilbert and I'm 5.

Jules: Ho ho ho, Gilbert. 

Kid 3: Are you the real Santa?

Jules: Don't be daft—I mean, no, no, I'm simply one of Santa's helpers. But I've been to college and so I know lots of neat stuff about Santa Claus they don't tell you when you're young. Would you like me to tell you the story of the first St. Nicholas?

Kid 3: Sure.

Jules: Well, he lived long, long ago, in a land called Greece—do you know where Greece is?

Kid 3: Is that your real beard?

Jules: Yes. Do you want to hear the story?

Kid 3: How come it's attached with string?

Jules: Because Santa has mange. Now are you going to listen to the story?

Kid 3: Yes, Santa.

Jules: Good. Anyway, St. Nicholas was a holy man who lived in Greece about fifteen hundred years ago. He loved children. He loved to watch them play and be happy, and he loved to bring them presents. But there was a bad man who lived in St. Nick's village. He was funny in the head. This is all based on historical fact, you know.

Kid 3: Yes, Santa.

Jules: This bad man, Gilbert, was the town butcher. He sold meat to the local villagers, and everyone thought that he was a normal guy like the rest of us, even if he was a little... quiet.

Kid 3: What happened, Santa?

Jules: Well, one day the townsfolk realized that he'd been kidnapping children and chopping them up with his meat cleaver—

Kid 3: What?

Jules: Oh yes. Then he took their bodies and pickled them in brine—

Kid 3: (cries) Mommy! Mommy!

Jules: Hey, come back! I'm not done! St. Nick made everything better! 

Kid 3: Mommy, Santa's scaring me!

Jules: (panicking) He performed a miracle, and all the children came back to life! 

Parent: What have you been telling my kid?

Jules: Just a story! A true story, but a moral fable nonetheless! It's a cautionary tale for kids to be wary of strangers! The butcher was sent to jail for the rest of his life! No parole or anything!

Parent: Listen, if I hear you tell something like that to my kid again, I'll sue you for everything but your sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. 

Jules: Wait, you don't understand—

Parent: You're just lucky I don't thrash your hide right here. Come on, Jeffy, we'll go visit the nice Santas at the mall down the road.

Jules: Oh, please come back! I'll give you a candy cane! I'll give both of you a candy cane! Ho ho ho! (pause) Damn. Storytellers are so misunderstood. Ah well. Alright, who's next?

Big Man: Hi, Santy Claus.

Jules: Good heavens.

Big Man: Can I sit on your lap?

Jules: You're not a child!

Big Man: I know. Can I sit down? I want to tell you what I want in my stocking.

Jules: How much do you weigh?

Big Man: I'm three hundred and forty-three pounds of pure man. I'm built for comfort.

Jules: No, you can't sit down! Visiting Santa is restricted to children!

Big Man: I am a child, Santa. In my heart.

Jules: And I'm Sinead O'Connor. The only way you could have a child inside you is to have eaten one.

Big Man: (begins crying) But my psychiatrist said my inner child needed to visit you!

Jules: Now, now... please, stop crying.

Big Man: Santy Claus doesn't love me! (bawls) Nobody loves me!

Kid: Look! Santa's making that man cry!

Jules: Oh, for heavens sake, stop that! You're causing a scene... 

Kid: Santa, do you make all the kids cry like this man?

Jules: (panicking) No! No! Just the bad ones! He was bad this year! Here, have a whole bag of candy canes, and for God's sake don't tell your parents.

Kid: Thanks, Santa! Hey, Mikey—Santa's a pushover this year!

Jules: Oh, god, you're going to ruin me. Stop crying!

Big Man: My Christmas joy is withering like the leaves of fall in a dark November. There's nothing but bare branches on the tree of good spirits.

Jules: OK, OK, you can sit down. If you'll stop with the sappy metaphors.

Big Man: Thank you, Santy Claus. You're my favorite.

(SFX: Santa's chair groans and splinters. Bones break.)

Jules: (little voice) Ouch.

Big Man: This is my Christmas wish list, Santy Claus. 

Jules: Please tell me it's short.

Big Man: My psychiatrist told me to make it as long as I wanted because I deserve the love. You gonna argue? He gots a medical degree.

Jules: No, no.

Big Man: First, I want a train set.

Jules: It's yours.

Big Man: Then I want you to bring back my dog Ralphy. He died last Thursday. I miss him so.

Jules: I don't think Santa can do that.

Big Man: You're making me unhappy, Santy Claus.

Jules: OK, I'll bring back Ralphy.

Big Man: Thank you, Santa! 

Jules: What's next?

Big Man: (his whole tone of voice shifts) I want you to get my nagging mother off my back once and for all! 

Jules: (taken aback) What?

Big Man: You heard me. She's been on my case too long. I want you to off her. I want you to take her up to the North Pole and put her on ice permanently.

Jules: Listen, buddy, Santa Claus is not a hit man.

Big Man: But—but— (bursts out crying again)

Jules: Oh, alright. (sighs) I'll kill your mother.

Big Man: OK, Santy Claus... Thanks for being so good to me.

Jules: Next!

Existential Kid: OK, fat boy, I'm gonna talk, you're gonna listen.

Jules: Go easy on me, kid... I think the last guy broke one of my legs... and all my Rolex watches.

Existential Kid: I don't care about your broken body. Just gimme a damned Mighty Morphin Power Ranger or there'll be hell to pay come New Year's. 

Jules: My child, I think you're taking entirely the wrong tone with me here. You shouldn't be so ruthless about this.

Existential Kid: Santa, in a meaningless universe, the only thing we have to cling to are material possessions. I want my share.

Jules: Young lady, you don't have the proper perspective on the holiday season. Take a little advice from me—I've taken a number of philosophy courses, so I know whereof I speak. Last night I lay awake wondering to myself about the terrible existential angst that plagues our society these days, and— 

Existential Kid: Angst? How dare you speak of existential angst? You don't know my pain! Nor can you know the depths of Jean-Paul Sartre's pain! When Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir penned their doctrine of angst they were reacting to one of the most despicable times in western history! They watched their beloved France be torn asunder by the horrors of Nazi Germany. While they knew what needed to be done, they felt helpless to change their situation! That, my portly friend, is angst in the true Sartreian sense of the word! A flight from freedom, if you will. Not taking some minimum wage in a mall to pay for your silk-cut clove cigarettes and faux leather bound poetry journals! 

Jules: What's wrong with silk-cut cigarettes?

Existential Kid: They smell. However, if you are referring to Heidegger's idea of dread...

Jules: (pause) Yeeesssss.... here's a candy cane, girl. Now go away.

Existential Kid: Thanks, Santa! And remember, hell is other people. (pause) By the way, Santa, how do you get out of this mall?

Jules: Sorry, kid. There is no exit.

Existential Kid: Calvinist.

Jules: That was a close one.

Boss: Hey, kid!

Jules: Oh, no, it's my boss. What is it, sir?

Boss: Listen, I overheard you with that last kid... I'm disgusted, son.

Jules: Oh, please, let me explain—

Boss: You can't explain that away. Look, I don't care if you hate kids, I don't care if you make them cry and ruin their entire holiday season and possibly their enjoyment of life itself. I don't even care if their parents get angry and refuse to shop at my mall ever again—to tell you the truth, I get a pretty big charge outta that. But a Santa that doesn't know the work and thoughts of Jean-Paul Sartre—that's inexcusable. No decent person could ever stand for that. You're fired. 

Jules: I should have known things would turn out this way.

Boss: Turn in your beard and red suit at the security booth. I'm gonna go back to my office and watch kickboxing on cable. I better not see you when I get back.

(SFX: Heavy footsteps, then door slam.)

Jules: Thank heavens he's gone. I hated that job. Although this suit is rather dashing—I think I'll keep it. Now I'll just high-tail it home through the department store.

K: Pardon me, would you like to try our new fragrance?

Jules: K, what are you doing?

K: I'm selling perfume! 

Jules: I can see that, but why? You don't need a job.

K: Well, I... I was jealous, Jules. I couldn't just let myself stand by and watch as you went off into the working world and discovered what it's like to be a common laborer.

Jules: I do feel more in touch with today.

K: So—the perfume. Would you like to try a sample?

Jules: Um... well, OK.

(Hiss of spray bottle)

Jules: (in no small amount of pain) Aaaaigh!

K: Ah, you like it! It's $47.50 an ounce.

Jules: My eyes! My eyes! What's in that stuff?

K: Chanel No. 5 and Mace. Perfume and protection, all in one little bottle!

Jules: Aarrgh... Why in the hell would anyone want that?

K: It's specially designed for women who like to lure men close and then drive them away again. It works wonders, especially on the less intelligent class of people.

Jules: Are you calling me stupid?

K: Not at all, not at all. The stupid ones are the people who keep getting fooled by it. Watch this, I'll call over one of my fellow employees. Clive! Oh, Clive!

Clive: Yes? (sniffs) Why, K, what is that delightful scent you're wearing?

(Hiss of spray bottle)

C: Aaargh! Damn you, K, you've done it again!

K: See? It's a miracle product.

Jules: I'll take two.

K: Fantastic. They give me a .01 percent commission on every sale, you know. I just made an extra penny in addition to my hourly wage.

Jules: Wonderful. Can I have the bottles?

K: Here you are. 

(Hiss of spray bottle)

K: Aaaaigh!

Jules: Merry Christmas, K. Don't say I never gave you anything.

K: Merry Christmas, Jules.