Act II, Section Seven of An American Book of the Dead - The Game Show. . .


Act II, Sect. 6

. . . ANNOUNCER: With Whitman’s help, Hennessy musters out and make his way home, where he briefly stands a job manning a Gatling gun during the New York Draft Riots. Soon he heads West again, helping to lay the transcontinental railroad. When that’s done he tries his luck in the Nevada’s silver mines, then the Klondike gold rush, then finally the coalmines of Wyoming. After the Rock Springs Massacre, he enters the seminary, takes Holy Orders and serves as assistant pastor in two parishes, one in Five Points, the other in Woodside, Queens. At 88 he dies of a heart attack.
(Lights up on Blink and the babes.)

HOST: Well, let's get him out here.

(Spokesmodels help Father Tom out of the booth.)

Hi there, Father Tom Tonya Barry Kim.

FATHER TOM: Well, hello yourself.

HOST: What did you think of that life?

FATHER TOM: Well... all in all, I can't find cause to complain.

HOST: Did you find true love?

FATHER TOM: Oh, several times.

HOST: Really?

FATHER TOM: Sure, as a young man it felt like every other day I fell in true love.

HOST: Hmmm. That's odd.

FATHER TOM: Why?

HOST: That's one of your soul goals. We better check on this.

Hey Don?

ANNOUNCER: Yeah, Blink.

HOST: Father Tom here says he's known true love.

FATHER TOM: Lotsa times.

HOST: Lotsa times. Can we get a ruling on this?

ANNOUNCER: Sure. One second.

(Short pause. Then an abrupt buzzer.)

No dice, Blink. The judges have ruled that true love, by definition, has to be requited.

FATHER TOM: Really?

HOST: Bummer. Sorry, Father Tom. Let's see. Did you expose the hypocrisy at the heart of the American system?

FATHER TOM: Hmmm... well... I gotta say, lad. I'm not convinced there is a hypocrisy ... not at the heart of it, at least.

HOST: Okay. Did you fight in the Battle of Gettysburg?.... Father Tom?

FATHER TOM: No, I did not.

HOST: What is it, Father?

FATHER TOM: My whole life I thought maybe I was supposed to be there with the Irish Brigade, instead of perched on a rooftop behind that asinine machine gun in the summer of '63, but...

HOST: But what?

FATHER TOM: But apparently that isn't so.

HOST: I see.... Father Tom.

FATHER TOM: Yes, lad.

HOST: You can go.

FATHER TOM: Oh... oh, all right then.

(Father Tom walks off stage.

Tonya bursts from her booth, followed by Kim, then Barry.)

TONYA: What the hell?!

HOST: What a nice guy.

ANNOUNCER: It's true.

HOST: Just a pleasure to talk to, ya know?

ANNOUNCER: I know what you mean, Blink.

TONYA: Uh, excuse me! What the hell's going on?

HOST: What's a matter, Ton-Ton?

TONYA: You're just letting him go?

HOST: Sure. Why wouldn't we?

BARRY: But, he's our incarnation.

HOST: Well, that is a puzzler.

TONYA: This game makes no sense whatsoever. Just how are we supposed to win anyway?

HOST: You're asking me?

TONYA: Yeah, I'm asking you.

HOST: You're asking me?

TONYA: Yes. I am asking you.

HOST: You really wanna know?

TONYA: Are you a fucking moron?

HOST: 'Kay, do you guys remember a little something I said about soul goals at the top of the show?

(Barry shakes his head, Kim looks blank, and Tonya scowls menacingly.)

I said that it had to be something you truly wanted, or I could flat-out guarantee you wouldn't get it. Remember that?

BARRY: Uh... yeah, I guess I do remember that.

HOST: Kim?

KIM: I think so.

HOST: Tonya.

TONYA: What's your point?

HOST: My point is-- each one of you-- blew it. I mean, I don't know how much more of this you wanna put those poor corpses out there through, but we could do this over and over, night after night, and you'd still never achieve even one of your soul goals. And you know why?

KIM: Why?

HOST: 'Cuz they're bullshit.

TONYA, KIM AND BARRY (simultaneously): What?

HOST: Kim, you were Barry once.

KIM: I was?

HOST: You came back as Father Tom, and Father Tom was Barry once. Don't you remember? Concentrate.

KIM: Oh, wait... Yes... yes, I do. I was Barry once. Weird.

HOST: All right. Now, think: what did you really want as Barry.

KIM: What did I want?

HOST: Exactly.

KIM: What did I want when I was Barry?

HOST: That's the question, don't wear it out?

KIM: I wanted... to be a math teacher.

HOST: No foolin'?

KIM: No. I think... buried somewhere deep... deep down there was always this desire... to be a math teacher.

BARRY: You know... you're right.

KIM: Knowing that most of the kids would make fun of me, the geeky math teacher civil war nut--

BARRY: Well, "buff", but--

KIM: But knowing that it also wouldn't matter. That a lot of kids, especially the not-so-cool kids, would hold a special warmth for Mr. Schroeder, 10th grade algebra, 11th grade trig.

BARRY: Right.

KIM: I didn't imagine I would be setting kids on fire for the love of numbers or anything like that, but... by god--

BARRY & KIM: I'd teach them math!

HOST: Hmmm. How 'bout you, Tonya? What did you want when you were, say, Kim?

TONYA: That's simple. Escape.

BARRY: Escape, yeah.

TONYA: To tell that bastard, my boss--

BARRY: Bill Richardson.

TONYA: To finally fuck off. To take the born-again Christian crap he spouted the whole time we were cheating on his wife--

BARRY: And shove it up his ass.

KIM: To quit.

TONYA: To get on a plane to Seattle.

BARRY: And live with my funky cousin for a while.

KIM: No plans.

BARRY: To bang some cute barista boy at Starbucks--

TONYA: Just for the sheer unholy hell of it.

KIM: Right.

HOST: Wow. I like it! I like it a lot!

And Barry? What about you... when you were Tonya? What did you want?

BARRY: A sense of humor.

KIM: Big time.

TONYA: Okay. Whatever.

BARRY: But mostly, even more than that--

KIM: Just for one moment--

BARRY: To listen.

KIM: Just listen.

HOST: Geez... those are all so straightforward. So easy. You guys... really, really blew it. I feel sorry for you.

TONYA: You're pitying us?

HOST: Uh... Yeah... Yeah, I guess I am. Sorry.

TONYA: Fuck you. You put us through all this and then you pity us? Where the hell do you get off? Why aren't you accountable?

HOST: Um... Tonya. I got news for you. I don't exist. Or has that not dawned for you yet? I mean, do you have any idea what I wouldn't give to exist? Just once, let alone over and over.

Suck it up, Ton-ton. It's a tight spinning karmic whirligig for you-- all three of you, but at least you get to ride it.

TONYA: And what are we s'posed to do now. Now that you've said we're not gonna win with our so-called sucky soul goals.

HOST: Well, if I'm not mistaken, Barry does get one more shot at the Wheel.

Right, Don?

ANNOUNCER: That's right, Blink.

HOST: And there's always the chance he could hit the bull's-eye of enlightenment and get the hell on out of here, right?

ANNOUNCER: Well... it hasn't happened yet, Blink.

HOST: What do you say, Bar? Wanna take a shot?

(Barry shrugs. The Bardo wheel lights up. The Spokesmodels, roll a missile onstage, attached by wires to a computer launching system. Then they help Barry into a HAZMAT suit and place his fingers on the computer keyboard.)

ANNOUNCER: Barry, at your keystroke command is a Tomahawk cruise missile

SPOKESMODEL 1 (holding up a „µ paddle): Circle R.

SPOKESMODEL 2: Tomahawk is a registered trademark of the U.S. Navy.

ANNOUNCER: It's capable of submarine-to-land, ship-to-ship, and land-to-land targeting. Or in this case, Barry-to-Bardo Wheel.

HOST: Ready to try for the bull's-eye, Barry?

(Barry looks around for a moment, blindfolded.)

BARRY: I need them with me. I need their help.

HOST: Well, don't tell me.

BARRY (turning to their general direction): I need you with me.

(Tonya and Kim walk over to Barry and stand behind him, becoming two more pairs of arms, their hands going to the keyboard, mouse, joystick, etc.)

HOST: BTK! You ready to play?

BARRY, TONYA & KIM: Ready, Blink.

HOST: All right, let's spin that wheel!

(The Spokesmodels spin the wheel. Barry punches a key and the missile zooms toward the target, but just misses the bull's-eye. Instead it hits a panel which reads, "The Bardo of Barely Missed Bliss".)

HOST: NO!

ANNOUNCER: Barry, you've just selected the Bardo of Barely Missed Bliss.

(With a loud bang, this panel explodes. Then another lights up instead: "The Luck Amplifier".)

Nope, sorry. I spoke too soon. You got the Luck Amplifier.

(Now that blows up, and another panel lights up.)

Whoops! Wrong, again. It's the Bardo of Good Grief.

HOST: This is crazyloo-wacko! What gives, Don?

ANNOUNCER: I... I'm not sure, Blink. Wait. Here we go: the Bardo of Purest Joy.

(But again, the panel explodes. Then suddenly the whole wheel blows up, including the Enlightenment Bull's-Eye. When the smoke finally clears, one panel remains unscathed at the edge of the wheel: "The Bardo of Louie Prima and Keely Smith with Sam Butera and the Witnesses playing the Sahara Lounge in Las Vegas, 1955". Lights fade except for these glowing letters. . . .

ABOD-TGS Act II, Sect. 8

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