Twilight Zone Tuesday – A Thing About Machines

A Thing About Machines

Bartlett Finchley – Richard Haydn
Edith – Barbara Stuart
TV Repairman – Barney Phillips
Policeman – Henry Beckman
Girl on TV – Margarita Corrdova
Intern – Jay Overholts
Narrator- Rod Serling


Pulling into a large, spacious lawn is a very nice looking Roadster (I guess, I’m not sure what kind it is exactly). Whatever it is it must be an English car as the driver exits from the right side of it. Weirdly the driveway seems to go right by the pool. Strange place for it. There’s a TV REPAIR van sitting in the driveway as well. Mr. Bartlett Finchley stops to peek in his mailbox and proceeds to the house.

I guess house isn’t the right word for it. Mansion seems more appropriate. Whatever Finchley does he must make some good money doing it. He’s greeted by the repairman who has the audacity to ask Finchley how he’s doing. Finchley says he’ll answer when he knows how much the current bit of ‘larceny’ is going to cost him to fix the tv. The repairman tells him that it’s going to include parts and labor. Finchley says that he’s sure that, once again, he’s going to be dunned into paying more than what the thing cost. Well, if it’s that much then why bother repairing it? Why not just get a new one? The repairman tells Finchley that the last time he was there to repair it was because Finchley had put his foot through the screen. Finchley says that it was not working correctly so he tried to fix it in a perfectly normal way. Normally I’d agree but everyone knows when you use the “Thwack! Fixed it!” method you never kick the screen. You kick the side. I also have one little question. If you put your foot through a tv while it’s plugged in would that electrocute you? Or at least give you a shock?

Finchley dispenses with the chit-chat to ask how much the current ‘extortion’ will be. He also wonders why there’s a Better Business Bureau at all when roving, repairmen blackmailers can hold his set for ransom. Here’s a thought…either learn to fix it yourself, find a different repairman or buy a new tv. Normally I’d go with the first two only because tv’s were quite expensive then (and he seems to have a deluxe job with a very pretty cabinet) but he seems quite wealthy so he could most like;y afford a new one. Mr. Repairman takes rightful offense to that and says that they’re no con outfit, they run a legitimate business. The reason it cost so much to fix this time was because Finchley got in the back of it and ripped out a bunch of wires and did who knows what else to it. He goes on to exposition that he was at Finchley’s last month to repair a radio that Finchley had thrown down the stairs. Finchley claims that the radio wasn’t working properly either. Mr. Repairman says that they probably don’t work properly because Mr. Finchley doesn’t treat them properly. Finchley snarks that he’ll probably be billed more for this psychoanalysis. The repairman asks what it is with Finchley and machines? After a rather withering stare the repairman backs off and says that he’ll send Finchley the bill. Finchley says, “No doubt” in an uppity, snooty way and they start to go their separate ways – Finchley upstairs and the repairman out the door. Before the repairman leaves,however, Finchley mnages to work in a final insult. He tells the repairman that he’ll file the question under “Things I Give Zero Effs About” in his memoirs and devote a single page to the repairman, titled “One of the Most Forgettable People of All Ever”. The repairman leaves, a trifle miffed.

After the repairman leaves Finchley bursts out with, “It just so happens that every machine in this house is…” but stops, wipes his face witch a handkerchief and calms himself down. As he’s pouring himself a drink (sherry, no doubt) a clock starts chiming, ticking Finchley off good and proper. He yells at it to stop and when it refuses he snatches it up and smashes it on the floor. When it still obstinately chimes he whacks it with a poker.

SERLING:
This is Mr. Bartlett Finchley, age 48, a practicing sophisticate who writes very special and very precious things for gourmet magazines and the like. He’s a bachelor and a recluse with few friends, only devotees and adherents to the cause of tart sophistry. He has no interests save whatever current annoyances he can put his mind to. He has no purpose to his life except the formulation of day-to-day opportunities to vent his wrath on mechanical contrivances of an age he abhors. In short, Mr. Bartlett Finchley is a malcontent, born either too late or too early in the century, and who, in just a moment will enter a realm where muscles and the will to fight back are not limited to human beings. Next stop for Mr. Bartlett Finchley, the Twilight Zone.

Edith is typing away on one of those new-fangled electric typewriters. Not in an office, however, she gets a raised stage-thing on which to type. He holds out his hand for the papers she’s typing up (guess it’s too much trouble for him to walk up the three steps and get them himself) and she brings them down to him. He asks if that’s all she has written up and she says yes, 30 pages in three hours is the best she can do.That’s ten pages an hour. That seems awfully slow for an electric typewriter but I honestly can’t remember. He responds that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence with a feather quill in half a day. That sounds like bull to me so after exhaustive research I learned it took seventeen days. She tells him to hire Mr. Jefferson then and he accuses her of being insubordinate. She tells him that he should find himself a girl with three arms and a thick skin and they can work together in bliss for eternity. In other words, she quits.

Finchley snaps his book shut, annoyed, but as she looks like she’s really going to leave he drops the snootiness. The papers he was holding have magically disappeared. He starts talking really fast trying to get her to stay. He invites her to dinner and maybe the theatre. She gives a very nice thank you but no thank you. As she walks away he calls her back with a “before you go”  and, even though he seems like an utterly pompous ass, I feel kind of bad for him. He looks kind of scared. She asks what he wants and he says that he’d very much like to not be alone.

She looks very worried and asks him if he’s ill. She then asks if there’s any family trouble. He throws a hissy fit and yells why does there have to be a problem?! He calms down quickly, though, and tells her that he’s very, very tired. He hasn’t slept in four nights and the thought of being alone right now is intolerable. He tells her that things have been happening, very strange things. She sits beside him and listens compassionately.

 

He tells her that the television goes on every night and wakes him up. All by itself. The radio would go on and off, too, just as he would be falling asleep. He tells her that there’s a conspiracy. The tv, the radio, the clock, even his damn car. The evening before he drove the car into the driveway, very carefully and slowly and the wheel turned in his hand, it twisted itself and drove deliberately into the garage. It smashed a headlight and cost him $140.00 to replace it. This seems insanely high to me but the car does look like a British import and fancy. Maybe one of you guys can tell from the picture what kind of car it is and if that would seem a reasonable amount. Maybe it’s Christine’s English cousin. He motions to the clock over the mantle piece, well, the one that was there until he turned it into ceramic dust. Which is oddly cleaned up.

What he’s trying to get at is that he’s never been able to operate machines. Edith suggests softly that maybe he ought to see a doctor. I disagree. For being inanimate (supposedly) non-sentient creations they do seem to sometimes have a perverse will of their own. They wait for the most inopportune moments to break down, lose your files, spontaneously go off, waking you from a sound sleep.

Bartlett does not take kindly to this suggestion, “If you’re depressed, see a doctor. If you’re happy, see a doctor. If the salary is too low and the mortgage is too high, see a doctor (although that would seem to fall under depression or perhaps seeing a financial adviser). He tells her to see a doctor and that he’s a rational, intelligent , logical man. To prove it he says he knows what he sees and hears and throws a plate on the floor. For the past three months he’s been under siege by mechanical monsters. What does she think of that?! Huh?!

She thinks he’s terribly ill and needs to see a doctor. She also thinks that he’s suffering terribly from nerves due to lack of sleep and that he himself has to realize that they are nothing more than delusions. He screams that he won’t be intimidated by mechanical devices and it follows that an empty headed female with a mechanical face cannot intimidate him either. I think you just blew your shot at company for the night, dude. Before she leaves she flings these words at him, “In the mechanical conspiracy he speaks of, she hopes he loses.” and departs in a well-deserved huff.

As soon as she’s gone the typewriter begins typing by itself. He rips the paper from the typewriter and reads “GET OUT OF HERE FINCHLEY” Hmm, I’m surprised it doesn’t say “All work and no play makes Finchley a dull boy.” He says he’s not going to be frightened off by a senseless, inanimate machine. As he touches it, however, it starts to type the same words again. He hears a voice from the tv say “Get out of here, Finchley”. He follows it and realizes that a woman is dancing. I believe it’s a Spanish dance but I’m not sure of what kind. Maybe one of you can tell me. As he watches she pauses in her dance and tells him to “Get out of here, Finchley”. Then goes back to dancing.

as everything is playing and clacking he yells that they’re not going to intimidate him! If he were yelling ‘We made you!” we could be in Maximum Overdrive. Later that evening he’s calling up an old ‘friend’named Miss Moore. I’m kind of surprised the phone is even letting him call out on it. They chat about how long it’s been…yadda yadda. He asks her out to dinner but it seems she turned him down. He says he’ll call her another time. He makes another call. This time to his favorite young widow, Pauline. It seems she doesn’t remember him right away. It sounds as though she’s remarried in the meantime. He promises to send a wedding present. Oddly he seems to blame the telephone for the women being unavailable. He accuses it of embarrassing him. He goes to turn on his electric razor but it whips out of his hand and starts to attack him like a snake. Although I’m not really sure how much damage an electric razor could even do. The phone he pulled out of the wall starts telling him to “Get out Finchley”.

He hears a knock at the door, straightens up his ensemble and goes to answer it.

A policeman escorts him to a crowd. Apparently something happened. The policeman gestures to Finchley’s car and tells him that it rolled down the driveway and almost hit a kid on a bike. He suggests that Finchley gets his emergency brake checked. Finchley tells him that it was on. The policeman disagrees and says that it either wasn’t on or not working properly. The policeman restates that it rolled right down into the road and Finchley’s lucky it didn’t hit anyone. Finchley calls the car a monster. Finchley tells the officer that the keys are in the house and the officer suggests he pulls it back into the garage. Finchley turns to the crowd and tells them they may remain ogling at his car for another 3 and a half minutes. If they are still there when he returns he will enlist the aid of the underpaid policeman to help them off the property. The kid who presumably had the near miss doesn’t look too perturbed, licking on a popsicle.

Finchley goes back into his house and has himself a drink…or ten. He is drowsing drunkly on the couch when a clock begins to chime. The clock is chiming, the typewriter is clacking, and the tv chimes in with it’s “Get out of here, Finchley” extravaganza. So he puts his chair through the tv. Which brings up an interesting point. The only two ‘necessities’ he has are the telephone and typewriter. The telephone is probably needed for business purposes (obviously not personal) and the typewriter could be replaced with a non-electric one. So why bother having the tv, electric razor and whatnot? even the car he could probably do without. He looks like he could afford a car service or cabs.

He goes to run upstairs but the evil electric razor starts slithering down the stairs toward him. He runs out the door only to be confronted by Christine’s semi-evil step-cousin. It kindly lets him pass so it can chase him down the driveway. And, like all sensible people running from cars, he runs right down the driveway even though there’s a stand of trees to his right and left that would make it difficult going for a car. He runs until he hits a fence but lo and behold! There are boxes stacked neatly into steps for him to climb over. The car crashes through the fence and into some other weird, randomly stacked boxes on this well-manicured lawn in the ritzy neighborhood.

Again, he runs back the way he came and does one of the fakest stumbles I’ve ever seen. I will do him the justice that he is an older gentleman and does seem to be doing all the running, climbing and falling himself. At least, if there was a stunt double switch it was fast enough that I didn’t catch it. Finally he hides behind some bushes and the car burns rubber going past him (even though it appears to be on sand or grass, not asphalt). He foolishly pops out before the car is out of sight. It notices him and comes careening after him. And back we go down the driveway (or road? not really sure at this point. All I know for sure is it’s not asphalt or cement so there should be no screeching) on a merry chase back the way we just came.

It chases him slowly down the path to the pool and Bartlett obliges because the hedges on either side are much too high to jump over (even though they only come to his waist). And, it looks like the car has been rehearsing its big moment as there are already tire tracks on the grass. Instead of jumping in the pool on his own he kindly stops and waits for the car to hit him. He falls into the pool, the evil headlights of the car being the last thing he sees.

The cop is chatting with the ambulance guy. He thinks it’s unusual that the body was not weighted but was on the bottom even though they usually float. The cop says he looked scared, like something was chasing him. Um, perhaps the car sitting two feet away? Even if they don’t think the car did it there could have been a driver doing it. Especially since Bartlett seemed a tad unpleasant. The neighbors told the policeman that Bartlett was running around and yelling last night. And nobody thought to call the cops? Also, they didn’t hear the car? They throw around a couple theories to which the answers are, “Could be”.

SERLING:
Yes, it could just be. It could just be that Mr. Bartlett Finchley succumbed from a heart attack and a set of delusions. It could just be that he was tormented by an imagination as sharp as his wit and as pointed as his dislikes. But as perceived by those attending this is one explanation that has left the premises with the deceased. Look for it filed under “M” for Machines…in the Twilight Zone.


As I pointed out the only really deadly thing he owned was the car. Unless an electric razor could shave his shoes off or something. It seems a bit more logical to get rid of most of the stuff rather than pay to get it fixed just so it can torment you some more. As far as the machines go, unless they feel no pain, it seems as though most of the actual damage they were causing was to themselves. That doesn’t seem very intelligent. This isn’t the last time that technology rears its ugly, human-hating head. Also, if you recognize the repairman he was also on the episode The Purple Testament. You’ll also be seeing him a few more times on the Twilight Zone.


Be sure to join us for next week’s Twilight Zone Tuesday episode. A really great one called The Howling Man

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room

Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room

Jackie Rhoades – Joe Mantell
George – William D. Gordon
Narrator – Rod Serling


Yesterday in 1959 was the first episode ever aired of The Twilight Zone. What better way to celebrate than one of my favorite episodes ever? But, of course, even though I love it I’m sure the snark will still be there. On with the show!

We open on the eponymous Nervous Man nervously chewing the crap out of his fingernails. The phone rings and he jumps up to answer it. It’s someone named George and Jackie’s been waiting all of this very hot night for George to call. He wants to know what George had in mind for the night. George is obviously saying something Jackie gets upset about. Jackie starts to talk fast, telling George that he’s been sitting there and roasting all night. George obviously thinks that Jackie’s trying to cop out on…whatever it is. He tells George that George knows he has a tendency toward being nervous and he’s been waiting all this time in this very hot (presumably  $4.oo) room. He just wants to know what George has in mind. Jackie says he’s not complaining, George knows he;s his number one dude. Ready to do anything. He just wants to know what the job is. Suspenseful music plays and it seems that George has hung up.

SERLING:
This is Mr. Jackie Rhoades, age 34 (yeah, right). And where some men leave a mark of their lives, as a record of their fragmentary existence on Earth, this man leaves a blot. a dirty, discolored blemish to document a cheap and undistinguished. sojourn amongst his betters.

SERLING:
What you’re about to watch in this room is a strange mortal combat between a man and himself. For in just a moment Mr. Jackie Rhoades whose life has been given over to fighting adversaries will find his most formidable opponent in a cheap hotel room. That is, in reality, the outskirts of the Twilight Zone.

Jackie is now lying face-down on the bed, rubbing the back of his sweaty head. There’s a knock at the door. Jackie answers it and the mysterious George comes in. George looks the very definition of ‘greasy hood’. His hair is sort of slicked back, he has a sort-of pencil mustache (that Vincent Price pulls off much better) and a tie that’s way too short to be tucked into his jacket. They say their “How do you dos”. Jackie says he’s good and gets all up into George’s personal space to tell him, yet again, that he’s nervous about the action tonight.

George says it’s quite a place that Jackie has there. Jackie seems weirdly proud of his room and says “for $4 a night you can’t go wrong”. George’s weird response is that you can’t go wrong but you might be “roasted alive or poisoned by small creatures.” Um, ok. Unless there’s scorpions or brown recluse spiders lurking about is a little unlikely. Jackie asks again what the job is and George asks if it makes a difference. Uh, yah! If Jackie’s supposed to do something it might be somewhat helpful to know what that ‘something’ is.

Jackie sputters a bit and says, no, it doesn’t matter, really. George asks Jackie what he wants to do? What’s Jackie’s heart’s desire? Jackie scolds George for pulling his leg. Jackie says he doesn’t mind a little shakedown or a little Bunco but he keeps getting all of the hard stuff. He almost got caught by the police the last two times. George seems very amused by this. Jackie says that if he gets picked up one more time it’s three strikes and out. George pokes a bit of fun at Jackie and asks what he does to sleep at night, hide in a locked closet?

Jackie asks (again) what the job is. Finally George relents and tells Jackie that tonight he’s going to let him be a man and show some muscle. He tells Jackie that there’s going to be no shakedowns, no deliveries to a fence, Jackie’s moving up in the world. Which, apparently in their world, requires a revolver. George tosses it on the bed and Jackie stares at it.

George goes on to explain that there’s an old man who doesn’t want to pay for their jukeboxes and doesn’t want their protection. They’ve tried to be ‘reasonable’ but it’s been no use. So, tomorrow, they want the old man ‘sprawled across his bar’ and everyone else will fall in line. Jackie looks very unhappy about this, as well he should. Jackie tells George that he can go to prison just for carrying the piece and that killing an old man is not for him. George grabs Jackie’s shirt and tells him that since Jackie is in deep up to his eyeballs he doesn’t have a say in what’s right for him.

Jackie says he’s strictly small-time. That if he mugged someone he’s got to do it from behind because he’s got no guts and George knows it. Jackie says he’s just nickle and dime. Why doesn’t George get some of his torpedoes? George says the minute they find the old man dead all his “torpedoes” will get picked up. Nobody will suspect Jackie precisely because he is nickle and dime and everybody knows it. George goes to leave and Jackie tries to grab him to change his mind. George bitch slaps him and says he doesn’t care where Jackie gets his guts from but he’d better find them, buy them or grow them in a pot but he’d better get them and do the job. George drops the parting pleasantry that the old man closes up shop at 2:00 and Jackie had better be there. George will be back at 2:30 and he’d better not find out that Jackie chickened out or else…

Jackie looks at the gun then calls after George, pleading. Then he leans against the door and starts some determined knuckle and nail chewing. He paces the room a bit then stops at the mirror. He starts asking his reflection what the deal is? It shouldn’t be hard to get rid of a dopey old man. He thinks it’s hilarious that George called the older gentleman a gleep. And I have no idea what that is. The only time I’ve ever heard it was in M*A*S*H in an entirely different context. Colonel Potter warns Radar that someone will bite him and give him the ‘gleep’. But doesn’t elaborate when Radar is confused. So if any of you know what it is please let me know!

He tells his reflection that he wishes he could trade himself in. He kindly tells his reflection that it’s not his fault, it’s the breaks. Why couldn’t he be different. He asks himself why he’s so scared all the time. He feels like he’s had a long life. Too many nights in the tank, in the stir, in cheap-ass hotel rooms like the one he’s in now. He’s paying $4 a night to roast to death. Other than the heat it looks like a halfway decent room. I’ve certainly seen worse. He gripes some more about being a nervous little nail biter. Then he tweaks out and yells at the long-gone George that George isn’t any judge of character and should peel melons or handle apples and oranges because he ain’t no judge of people. Jackie laughs maniacally and calls himself Jackie the Killer. Or, Jack the Ripper, perhaps?

He tells his reflection that he ain’t no killer. But he’s got to kill tonight or else he’ll be killed. If he does it, he’s dead. If he doesn’t, he’s dead. He whines a bit more and tries to light a cigarette but doesn’t have any matches so he whines about that a bit more. Then some eerie music plays and a puff of smoke blows at him from behind him.

Jackie’s reflection greets him. His reflection looks suave with decently brushed hair, an unwrinkly shirt and not dripping with sweat. He’s also standing straight while Nervous Jackie hunches. Nervous Jackie freaks out and starts to run for the door. Mirror Jackie orders him back. Mirror Jackie watches Nervous Jackie a bit while Nervous Jackie worries that he’s going crazy. Nervous Jackie asks Mirror Jackie who he is. Mirror Jackie says that he’s a part of Nervous Jackie that he used to have so long ago that Nervous Jackie doesn’t even remember.

Mirror Jackie says that a long time ago Jackie was up for grabs. He could have gone either his way or Nervous Jackie’s way. He went Nervous Jackie’s way. Mirror Jackie asks Nervous Jackie if he knows what he means. Nervous Jackie says no. Mirror Jackie says Nervous Jackie’s way was “a cheap, weak, scared half vulture, all mouse.” Jackie pretty much sticks out his tongue and says he’s got flesh and bones and is going to put the finger on someone. What does Mirror Jackie do for a living? I’ve gotta say I’m on Mirror Jackie’s side. Nervous Jackie is leaving and Mirror Jackie can’t stop him. He goes to grab his coat from the closet but there’s a mirror there, along with Mirror Jackie. Nervous Jackie washes his face in the bathroom and of course Mirror Jackie is there, too. Eww. Nervous Jackie goes to leave the room but, surprise! there’s a mirror there too where a scolding Mirror Jackie awaits. For a cheap hotel there’s mirrors for days! Nervous Jackie heart attack gasps his way back into the room and flops on the bed. Mirror Jackie yells at Nervous Jackie to not pass out on him now, they’ve got a big night ahead of them.

Nervous Jackie opens his eyes and the first thing he sees is the gun on the table. He grabs it and starts to head out of the door but Mirror Jackie stops him and asks “Where do you think you’re going?” Nervous Jackie wants to know what business it is of his! Mirror Jackie says “Everything”.

Nervous Jackie says he’s talking to himself. Mirror Jackie says exactly. Nervous Jackie is talking to the part of him that NJ never lets come out. Nervous Jackie says that Mirror Jackie has no invitation to come out now. Nervous Jackie asks “Who needs you?!” and Mirror Jackie says, “He does!”

Nervous Jackie says of course Mirror Jackie would think that. He’s just as scared that Nervous Jackie will get picked up by the police because Mirror Jackie will get pinched, too. Which has always called up a very odd mental picture. It makes me think of two big fingers ‘pinching’ someone up and out of a crowd and popping them into jail.

Anyways, Mirror Jackie says he’s kept quiet until now because he can’t let Nervous Jackie go out and get themselves both killed. This takes Nervous Jackie aback and he says, “Get killed?” like he didn’t just say it himself. Mirror Jackie insists that he has the right to live and won’t let Nervous Jackie go out and get themselves killed because Nervous Jackie hasn’t ever gotten away with anything.

Nervous Jackie says, quite reasonably and calmly, that if Mirror Jackie is the same as him then they’ve had the same breaks so how come every move Nervous Jackie made turned out wrong? He finally asks as if he really wants to know, rather than argue for the sake of argument. Mirror Jackie says that every time he tried to talk Nervous Jackie would listen to somebody else. that was his mistake.

Nervous Jackie proclaims that he was a runt. A skinny little runt so what chance did he have? “If you want to be in a gang when you’re a runt you’ve got to go along or they’ll give you the business and yell at you.” The Mirror Jackie says oh yes, NJ went along and made Mirror Jackie go along, too. Mirror Jackie says NJ ‘s first chance to do right was when he was ten years old. A teacher’s necklace broke at a picnic and she laid it down. The bigger boys dared Nervous Jackie to steal it. Nervous Jackie protests that he didn’t really want to steal the necklace. But he was a runt and they dared him. Whew! Good thing they didn’t double-dog dare him!

Mirror Jackie comes back with yeah, and they dared him to break into the grocery store a year later. Mirror Jackie got dragged along, too. And they got caught and spent eleven months in reform school. Mirror Jackie wants to know what that proved. Nervous Jackie pouts a bit and says no wonder he never listened to Mirror Jackie. All he does is talk his ear off and pout so much he’s walking on his lower lip. Dude, you really shouldn’t call someone else a whiner. because that’s all you’ve done for the last twenty five minutes. At least Mirror Jackie has a cause for his anger.

Nervous Jackie says that he only knows one thing: He’s got to go out, do a job and if he doesn’t you can scrape him off the mirror with a spoon (although I think a squeegee would work better). Mirror Jackie tells NJ that he’s got less time than he thinks. Mirror Jackie points out that Nervous Jackie never has time. He didn’t have time for the parole officer who actually wanted to help him. Nervous Jackie could have listened to him but instead joined another gang. And was back in jail six months later. Wait a minute. Wouldn’t he have been about thirteen or thereabouts. It seems like he would be back into reform school, not jail. Mirror Jackie says that the parole officer couldn’t help him anymore than Janey Reardon could have. Nervous Jackie looks startled as he loads the revolver. Or checks it. George didn’t give Jackie any bullets.

He gets a wistful smile as he repeats her name and then calls her “a good kid”. Mirror Jackie corrects him and says that Janey Reardon was a beautiful woman. He says that Janey tried to set NJ straight and that Mirror Jackie loved her. Nervous Jackie says Mirror Jackie has a lot of nerve, he can’t love, he’s just a piece of glass. Mirror Jackie says they needed her and he could love, But then Nervous Jackie joined a bigger gang and started shakedown rackets. A real ‘big shot’. They spent two years in the pen on that one. By the time they got out Ms. Reardon had gotten married and moved away.

Nervous Jackie scoffs and says he can take or leave. Mirror Jackie mocks him and basically calls bullshit on it. Nervous Jackie gets irritated and asks what Mirror Jackie wants. Mirror Jackie wants his turn. He wants to take over, permanently. He wants his turn and, frankly, Mirror Jackie sounds like a much more stand up guy. He wants to live with the goodness, guts and dreams that Nervous Jackie left behind.

Nervous Jackie tells him fat chance. He’s going out to do his job and no one else will tell him what to do again. Well, probably not because you’re either going to be dead or in jail. The phone cuts off his rant and Jackie picks it up. It’s George. Jackie starts stuttering and whinging saying that  he’s on his way out the door right now.

Nervous Jackie puts on his coat and then realizes that his reflection has taken off. Mirror Jackie comes back though, and tells Nervous Jackie that if he walks out that door they’re both dead. He wants his chance. He wants a decent job, some friends, a caring woman. Nervous Jackie say he has friends but Mirror Jackie disagrees. He says that none of those guys are his friends.

Jackie gets pissed and tells Mirror Jackie to come on out. He rips the dresser away from the wall and actually seems surprised that Mirror Jackie isn’t back there. He whips the mirror around and freaks out when he sees Mirror Jackie back again, smiling.

Later. George walks in. Jackie is sitting in a chair with his face in his hands. George tells Jackie that he’s going to take his skin off foot by foot. Nobody went to the bar tonight. The old man is still in perfect health. George wants to know what he’s got to say for himself. Jackie looks up but you can tell right away that it’s Mirror Jackie. He tells George that he resigns. Which I read as a polite 1960 way of him telling George to go eff himself. George is surprised at Jackie’s new-found balls. He says George can have his gun back plus the following: a foot stomp, elbow to the stomach and sock to the jaw.

Jackie tells George to get the hell out. He unloads the gun and throws it at George, telling him not to come back for anything. He throws the bullets away and calls the front desk to say tha his name is Jackie – make that John Rhoades, and he’s checking out. Jackie, pardon me, John Rhoades looks in the mirror and Nervous Jackie is in there, chewing his nails and wondering what they’re going to do now. John says that now they’re going to look for a job, maybe get married and maybe stop biting their nails. With one last look at the mirror John Rhoades leaves the room.

SERLING:
Exit Mr. John Rhoades, formerly a reflection in the mirror, a fragment of someone else’s conscience, a wishful thinker made out of glass. But now made out of flesh and on his way to join the company of men. Mr. John Rhoades, with one foot through the door and one foot out of The Twilight Zone.


I’ve always liked that episode. Usually mirror people are evil and I thought at first it was going to go that way but it changes directions quite abruptly. I was very happy to see Mirror Jackie win out at the end. I also liked that Mirror Jackie’s dreams weren’t to be some big time gangster or big time anything. It was just to live a normal, peaceful life. I’ve always wondered why Jack is a nickname for John. They’re the same amount of letters so it’s not any shorter.


Thank you for joining us and please come back for next week’s episode of The Twilight Zone: A Thing About Machines

10 Horror Graphic Novels to Read in October

A banner with the words The Top Ten Tuesday List on it.The prompt for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was supposed to be Top Ten Book Boyfriend/Girlfriends, but it’s October and we’re not doing mushy. So, today we’re going to focus on horror-themed comic books / graphic novels.

The first five are books that we’ve recently come across. Didn’t have a clue they existed, but something about them drew our eye. The Veil and Born in Hell are both horror-mysteries. The Pound looks like it would be a wild ride. Arkham Woods was selected because, well, Arkham. And tentacles. The tentacles definitely had something to do with it. Really don’t have any good reason for choosing the Grim Leaper other than sometimes twisted romances can be fun to read about.

The second set of five are book series that we’ve read some of already and definitely enjoyed.

 

 

The Veil

Written by El Torres | Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Meet Chris Luna, a cheap private eye with a client list of the dearly departed. Chris has the unique ability to sometimes pierce through The Veil between our realm and the unknown beyond. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really pay the rent. Now Chris is broke and has to return home to Maine… and face the darkness that now lurks beneath the surface of her quiet hometown.

Book cover for The Veil

Purchase on Amazon

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The Pound Vol 1

Written by Stephan Nilson | Art by Ibrahim Moustafa

What do two, unemployed, municipal animal control specialists do when their city is infested with monsters? They open a facility, “The Pound,” dedicated to the capture and rehabilitation of unregistered monsters. What they don’t realize is their community service is putting a serious kink in the original four monsters’ plans for all-out Armageddon!

Book cover for The Pound

Purchase on Amazon

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Arkham Woods

Written by Christopher Rowley | Art by Jhomar Soriano

Kirsti Rivers is an L.A. teenager suddenly transplanted to the small New England town of Arkham Woods. Kirsti and her mom, Victoria, are tasked with clearing out and selling the old house left to them by Silas Scadmore, Victoria’s eccentric uncle. But from the hidden recesses of the house, Kirsti and her friends unwittingly unleash and ancient evil that could spell the end of the world — unless they can find a way to stop it first!

Book cover for Arkham Woods

Purchase on Amazon

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Born in Hell

Written by Valentin Ramon | Art by Ferran Xalabarder

By the end of the Thirties, with the world one step close to the most terrible war, three characters, seemingly with nothing in common, find themselves implicated in a complex intrigue which will push them to the very limits of sanity. Joe Colter, a tough private eye looking for an urn, Max Conrad, an FBI agent looking for a missing comrade, and Juiette Smith, a luxury prostitute looking for her missing friend, are the three legs of a story which will lead them to a true meeting in the real kitchen of hell.

Book cover for Born in Hell

Purchase from Comixology

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Grim Leaper

Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe | Art by Alusio C. Santos

In death, he finally found something to live for. Lou Collins is caught in a cyclical curse of violent, gruesome deaths and new beginnings in the bodies of strangers. With no clue why, Lou desperately searches for a way to break the curse and cross over peacefully to the other side. Then equally doomed Ella comes along. It’s a love story to die for.

Book cover for Grim Leaper

Purchase on Amazon

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

’68 Vol 1: Better Run Through the Jungle

Written by Mark Kidwell | Art by Nat Jones, Tim Vigil

There are zombies in the razorwire. Welcome to 1968– and the end of the world. From the steaming jungles of Viet Nam to the brightly lit campus of demonstration-torn Berkeley, California, ravenous hordes of unstoppable ghouls are changing the face of the Age of Aquarius. Collected for the first time, this 178-page collection re-presents the first four-issue story arc from the ’68 ongoing series, along with the re-colored and re-lettered original one-shot from 2006! Plus, creators MARK KIDWELL, NAT JONES and JAY FOTOS have included tons of behind-the-scenes extras to make this a must-have for zombie and horror fans everywhere!

Book cover for 68 Vol 1

I have no interest in wars, but when you add zombies into the mix, I’m definitely willing to have a look. ’68 was an interesting read.

Purchase on Amazon

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28 Days Later

Written by Michael Alan Nelson | Art by Alejandro Aragon, Pablo Peppino, Ron Salas, Declan Shalvey

The film that changed horror forever continues here! Selena and her new comrades struggle against the infected, the American presence in the UK and themselves. Selena is a survivor but even she must give pause when the mission has her breaking into the land she fought so hard to get out of.

Book cover for 28 Days Later: Omnibus

I loved the 28 Days Later movie, so when I saw this on Comixology, I was half-tempted, half-scared to check it out. Luckily what I read (not all of it was available on Comixology Unlimited) was well-drawn and worth checking out.

Purchase on Amazon

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The Dunwich Horror

Written by Joe R. Lansdale | Art by menton3, Peter Bergting

H.P. Lovecraft is known as one of the key founders of modern horror, cited as a major influence by many prominent authors, such as Stephen King. In collaboration with renowned Lovecraft historian and literary caretaker Robert Weinberg, IDW is bringing you the definitive Lovecraft comics updated for a 21st century audience. This unique series begins by adapting classic Lovecraft tale “The Dunwich Horror” by fright-master Joe R. Lansdale (30 Days of Night: Night, Again) and Peter Bergting (D&D: Dark Sun).

Book cover for The Dunwich Horror

I think I actually started this before I’d tried to seriously read anything else from H.P. Lovecraft. The first volume was definitely creepy and caught my attention.

Purchase on Amazon

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The Twilight Zone Vol 1

Written by J. Michael Straczynski | Art by Guiu Vilanova

From the mind of J. Michael Straczynski, Hugo Award-winning creator of Babylon 5 and writer for the blockbuster films Thor, Changeling, and World War Z! Trevor Richmond is a Wall Street investor who embezzled millions and is about to tank the economy. Desperate to avoid the consequences for his actions, he goes to Expedited Services, which offers to help him disappear and enjoy a life of leisure in a new identity. But what exactly is this new life, how much is freedom worth, and what happens to the old life when someone else shows up to claim it? This captivating first volume will push the boundaries of The Twilight Zone into new and uncharted territory – a journey that will travel into the past and the future, into murder and revenge, and finally into the sunrise of nuclear Armageddon!

Book cover for The Twilight Zone Vol 1

The art isn’t exceptional, but it fits the story perfectly. And the way the story is told does instantly put you right into the Twilight Zone. Think it’s something you must check out if you’re a fan of the TV series.

Purchase on Amazon

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Whispers in the Walls Vol 1: Sarah

Written by David Munoz | Art by Tirso

Somewhere in post WWII Central Europe exists an orphanage where children having survived a mysterious, transformative virus are admitted. Czechoslovakia, 1949. What Evil lurks within the walls of an ancient children’s infirmary? After the brutal murder of her parents, Sarah, a young orphan, is about to discover that and much more. From long-buried secrets to imminent battles, the fate of man, and monster, lie with young Sarah. A gothic tale of horror from David Muñoz (co-writer of Guillermo Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone film) and artist Tirso.

Book cover for Whispers in the Walls Vol 1: Sarah

This is another case where I wasn’t a huge fan of the art itself, but I liked the way the story was told. The color choice is nice as well. The story opens with a nearly wordless sequence of several pages that sets the mood properly and then leaps right into Sarah’s story itself.

Purchase on Amazon


 

Well, there you have it. If you’re a fan of graphic novels, you might want to consider giving these a try. (And please remember, Sci-Fi & Scary is an Amazon Affiliate, so we do earn a small percentage if you choose to purchase using the buy links. Helps pay server costs and the like.)

What do you think of horror movies getting adapted into graphic novels? I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed 28 Days Later. They kept the main character feeling very true to form from the movie.

Would you be interested in seeing a book like IT get made into a graphic novel?

 

Talk to us! (And feel free to link us to your Top Ten Tuesday posts as well!)

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Man in the Bottle

The Man in the Bottle

Arthur Castle – Luther Adler
Edna Castle – Vivi Janiss
Genie – Joseph Ruskin
Mrs. Gumley – Lisa Golm
IRS Man – Olan Soule
Narrator – Rod Serling


Really, genie stories should just automatically come with a subheading of “Doesn’t matter what you wish for, you’re screwed”.

We’re in what’s usually called a junk shop but this one has some pretty cool stuff. The owner (Arthur) is going through a rather large stack of bills. He grabs the top one and asks his wife, Edna, how far behind the gas and electric is. She says it’s four months behind so they had better pay that one. So they go through bills about how I do.

Arthur murmurs to himself that it’s one they can’t pay and sets it aside. Hey man, you’re lucky they gave you four months. If that were now you’d already be in the dark with no heat.

The bell rings and he looks up hopefully. A little, older lady is sneaking in. Arthur is very studiously working at his bills and tries not to look up. He asks her how she’s doing. She makes some awkward small talk as she’s trying to get up the courage to ask something. She places a wine bottle on the counter and says she’s brought an heirloom today, hand-blown glass and been in the family for years. Arthur tells her it’s a plain old wine bottle and worth nothing. She is upset but says she could let it go for a dollar. Arthur tells her if he had a dollar he’d just give it to her but they’re broke, too.

Arthur hates to see an older lady upset so he goes to the cash register and gives her a dollar. He says he wishes he could make it more and gives it to her. He sounds sincere, not the smarmy “I wish I could give you more and I’m going to sell it for a thousand” voice. She thanks him and blesses him. At the door she stops and says that it’s not really an heirloom, she found it in an ashcan. Will he please forgive her for lying?

He says it’s ok and who knows? Maybe it will turn out to be worth something. He’s very nice. Mrs. Gumley scurries out the door. Edna comes downstairs and Arthur tries to play it casual, leaning on the register to hide the fact that the $1 sign is down. Edna picks up the wine bottle and sarcastically says it’s gorgeous. Edna looks at the ‘No Sale’ sign and then at Arthur. Arthur says that Mrs. Gumley needed to eat, too. And that maybe a man could only scrape the bottom of the barrel for so long without it breaking him. His grandfather owned the shop and it broke his heart, his father owned it and it killed him, too. Personally I think it’s a pretty cool shop and I’d love to go there.

In the middle of saying that the place is making them old by always having to be hand-to-mouth, he picks up a stack of bills and shakes them, knocking over the bottle. The cork pops out but the bottle doesn’t break. Edna and Arthur back away as the bottle starts to steam and smoke.

SERLING:
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Castle, gentle and infinitely patient people whose lives have been a hope chest with a rusty lock and a lost set of keys. But in just a moment that hope chest will be opened and an improbable phantom will try to bedeck the drabness of these two people’s failure-laden lives with the gold and priceless stones of fulfillment. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Castle, standing on the outskirts and about to enter The Twilight Zone.

The bottle is still pouring out smoke. When the smoke clears a dapper looking gentleman is standing in their store, asking “How do you do?” Arthur and Edna stand there staring at him, stunned. He says he doesn’t want to go into any lengthy explanations but he’s a genie, there to offer them four wishes with a guaranteed performance. Arthur and Edna just look at each other. Edna thinks they’re going crazy. Arthur says that maybe the guy is a hypnotist or something. The Genie says he’s nothing of the sort. He’s there to grant the owner four wishes. Then he goes back inside his bottle for a century and a day until the new owner releases him.

He tells them the Arthur and Edna need to start deciding on their four wishes, keeping in mind that each wish is irrevocable. Once it’s made it is fulfilled and once it’s fulfilled it’s a matter of record and can only be altered by another wish. As he’s speaking he flips their open sign to “Closed” and pulls down the blind. Which is a little creepy. It looks like he’s preparing to murder them. He asks Arthur if that’s clear. Arthur thinks that maybe they’d better call the police. The Genie tells Arthur to wish for them. He can bring Scotland Yard, the FBI or every bobby in the city of London. Is that what they wish for?

For being stuck in a bottle for a century and a day the Genie is awfully anxious for them to get on with the wishing. Although, who knows? Maybe he’s got an awesome life inside the bottle and wants to get back to it. Arthur replies no, they wouldn’t wish for the police. Edna asks if Arthur is crazy, does he actually believe the guy? To which I would reply, “What have you got to lose?”

Arthur says, for the sake of argument, that it is true he would like the broken glass in the display case to be fixed. The Genie looks at it and asks if Arthur would like to make it official. Arthur hesitantly says yes, he wishes the case were fixed. The Genie waves his hand at it and *poof* it’s fixed. Arthur and Edna are amazed. The Genie tells Arthur that he has three wishes left.

Arthur is all excited now but Edna’s freaked out. Arthur asks what she wants and she says she wants nothing. Arthur finally decides on money. He wants a million dollars in cash right here on the floor in $5’s and $10’s. I get the money wish but why fives and tens? The Genie lights a smoke and says, done. A million dollars. Money immediately begins to pour down from the ceiling. Someone is laughing hysterically but it sounds creepy so I’m honestly not sure if it’s the Genie laughing or Arthur.

The next shot shows the neighborhood in to help celebrate their good fortune. Arthur gives one guy a stack of  money and tells him to pay off his mortgage so he can start living again. He gives another lady a stack and tells her to take that vacation and bring back a boyfriend. They give a bunch to Mrs. Gumley and the neighborhood Reverend as well. And, to give all of them credit, they don’t act greedy and Arthur and Edna seem genuinely pleased to be able to help. Not doing it in a snobby, lordly way. See, they are truly nice people. Which is almost enough on its own to qualify them for the Twilight Zone. Instead of giving it to charities to qualify them for a tax break, they’re just giving it to people they know it could help and they can see how much it helps.

After everyone leaves there’s only one guy left. And to give Arthur credit he’s ready to hand over a bunch of money to this guy even though he doesn’t even know him. The guy says thank you, but no. He gives Arthur his card. He tells them their taxes, including state, comes to $942,640.00. Which, holy crap, seems like a lot to me. I could be wrong but that seems like almost 90%. Can that be right? And once, just once, can’t people just keep the damn money? Every freaking time in almost every show they never get to keep the money no matter how honestly they got it or worked for it. It’s annoying.

After they count up what the IRS says they owe them they’re left with $5.00. They gave away nearly $60,000.00 to the neighborhood. I’d also like to point out, though, that it never seems to cross their minds to ask for any of it back even though they’re only left with $5.00 and a stack of bills they haven’t paid yet.

The Genie pops up on the stairs to tell Arthur that he warned him to reflect carefully on his wish. Genies are always so damn smug aren’t they? t least it’s not the Djinn from Wishmaster. That’s a plus.

The Genie says if Arthur had made a wish that took into account the taxes involved then it would be quite another thing. Arthur looks like he’s going to do just that but Edna stops him. Why? That seems like a logical wish. Arthur considers the usual wishing for more wishes but the Genie says that’s out. Of course it is. The Genie says that he doesn’t want Arthur to even try for fear of the consequences. Arthur asks what consequences? He starts yelling at Edna, saying she’s no help. She asks, reasonably enough, why he’s yelling. He starts freaking out until she yells his name, sharply. This stops him short and he wonders what’s happening to him. The Genie replies that their emotions seem to follow a typical pattern. Great excitement, great emotionalism (is that even a word?) but only a modicum of happiness. Now, speaking for myself in their situation, I would ask for the bills to be paid and for the shop to be well-known among the city as a good place to shop. Although I’m sure the Genie could screw that up, too.

Arthur asks the Genie what they can wish for “without tricks”. The Genie takes great offense to that and says that there are no “tricks”. Just normal consequences that go with any windfall. The Genie says that whatever they wish for they have to be prepared for the consequences, This gets Arthur thinking of something dead sure and without consequences. Good luck with that one. Arthur decides to wish for power. Wow. That’s original.

The Genie asks what kind of power he’d like? To be the president of a corporation? Edna says he could go bankrupt. Mayor of a city? He could get voted out of office. Arthur says he’s got it. Ruler of a country. Why do I see this not ending well? Arthur says he wants to be head of a whole country and can’t be voted out of office. The Genie, grinning, asks if he’d like to be more specific than that. Arthur wants to be the head of a foreign country that can’t be voted out of office but it must be a contemporary country. Contemporary as in, in this century. The genie agrees. Arthur asks about the consequences. The Genie sidesteps answering directly and says there are consequences to any wish. Edna is suddenly on board. Ok, I can see way more going wrong with this wish than the money one. Arthur tells the Genie to do his thing. The Genie says “as you wish” and starts laughing very creepily. Oh, yeah, I’m sure this will turn out well.

We are taken to a bunker where someone is crying with his head down on a desk and an officer is yelling at him to stop being a baby…it’s just a mass suicide. The guy raises his head and…Arthur is Hitler. A soldier brings in a little bottle of presumably poison. And, since I know my history, it’s probably cyanide. However, I don’t see a gun. And shouldn’t Edna be Eva? Arthur looks like he’s seriously considering taking the poison. Instead he wishes he were back where it all began and throws the bottle down.

It transitions into the wine bottle shattering on the floor of their store. The store is darker and Edna is sitting behind the counter, asking Arthur what’s wrong? He looks funny. Arthur says he had his wish fulfilled, number four. Edna doesn’t seem to remember any of it. Which I guess makes sense if she wasn’t the person who ‘owned’ the wishes. So does this mean their neighbors got their money taken away? That’s a bummer. He says that all of the wishes ended the same way. In a word…sucky. So, I’m curious. With the bottle being broke did the Genie get killed? Or just go on to inhabit another random bottle?

Arthur looks around and says to Edna  that the place doesn’t look half bad. Actually, she must remember. She says they came out of it ahead at least. Arthur wants to know what she means. She points to the display case where the crack is still mended. So it’s not a total loss. They giggle together a bit and kiss each other. Then Arthur hits the display case with the end of the broom and it’s cracked again in exactly the same way. They look at each other for a second and Edna cracks up. I’ve been there. It’s either laugh, cry or tear your hair out so I prefer to laugh (after letting out a hearty swear word).

SERLING:
A word to the wise, now, to the garbage collectors of the world, the curio seekers, to the antique buffs – to everyone who would try to coax out a miracle from unlikely places. Check that bottle you’re taking back for a 2-cent deposit. A genie, say might be your own. Case in point, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Castle, fresh from the briefest of trips into The Twilight Zone.


Genie ones always kind of tick me off. Nobody ever gets to keep what they get and nobody ever wishes correctly. I know they’re usually illustrating the whole you can’t get something for nothing and be happy with what you have but still. Having money obviously didn’t turn them into assholes so why not let them keep it. Not to mention the taxes estimate seemed insanely high.

If anyone feels like they recognize Edna she also played in the Twilight Zone episode: The Fever.


Thank you for joining us this week and be sure to come back next week for one of my favorite episodes: Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – King Nine Will Not Return

King Nine Will Not Return

Capt. James Embry – Robert Cummings
Blake – Richard Lupino
Narrator – Rod Serling
Psychiatrist – Gene Lyons
Doctor – Paul Lambert
Nurse – Jenna McMahon


Welcome to season two of the Twilight Zone! I’m geekily excited about it because seasons two and three have a lot of great episodes and I can’t wait to share them and talk about them with you guys.


SERLING:
This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine. B-25 medium bomber, 12th Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed. Not to return on this day, or any other day.

Scattered out from the plane is debris and ammo, leading up to a man lying in the desert sand. He shakes himself awake and looks at the wreckage.

As Capt. Embry sweats and rubs his face we get an internal monologue. He remembers the plane getting hit, falling behind and bellying in. He remembers his crew and goes to look in the plane. They don’t seem to be there and he wonders where they have gone. Did they bail out? Did he order them to bail out? No. He didn’t. They all went down in the plane together. He begins to name them. He, himself is Captain James Embry. Blake the co-pilot, Kransky the radio operator and waist gunner, Jimenez, navigator. Connors was the tail gunner and Kline the upper turret gunner. He tries to think if there’s anyone he missed. I feel bad for those guys. With the size of that plane (if it’s accurate) it had to have been cramped as hell in there.

He climbs up on to the top of the plane and hops into the cockpit. On the side the name Pilot Capt. James Embry is stenciled. There’s also a large picture of a ‘King’ playing card, the King of Hearts. There are also three swastikas (representing three enemy planes shot down) and around 28 bombs, representing either 28 bombs dropped or (more likely) 28 successful runs. Embry fiddles with his pilot glasses and his pilot hat for a minute. Amazingly they’re still in the cockpit.

He calls for Blake and Jimenez. Which is a little weird. He;s still in the lane so unless they’re hiding in the instrument panel or under the tiny little seat I don’t think they’re in there, He crawls up into the tiny upper area, calling for the rest of them. Again, it should be pretty clear that they’re not in there. He’d be better off looking outside. He calls a few more times then begins discussing the situation with himself, trying to piece it together.

He repeats that they bellied in and assumes he must have been thrown from the plane and may have been out cold for hours. It strikes him again that the rest of the crew is nowhere to be found. I will say the actor does a fair job with his facial expressions during the voice-overs. He doesn’t overdo them.

He realizes that they didn’t jump out because their chutes are all there. He says that they aren’t dead but if they walked away why didn’t they take him? At the very least I would think that they would have pulled him into the shade. He calls for them all, still inside the plane. Dude! They’re not in there!

As he calls their names a radio statics into life. He listens for a moment but hears nothing but static. He calls a Mayday from the King Nine to Firefly. Presumably base or another bomber in the area. There is no response, though. Just more static. He starts to get up quickly but calms himself. At least he’s being smart and staying in the plane, out of the sun. He tells himself not to go off half-cocked (that sounds painful). There must be reasons. They’re gone, he’s alone but there must be a logical reason behind it, behind everything. He just has to keep cool and think about it rationally. His main thought is for his crew. He’s the leader, it’s his responsibility to keep them safe and alive as far as it is in his power. He’s got to get them out of it. Well, seems like that’s accomplished at least. They are not there, thus, they are out of it. I may be poking fun a bit but I do believe that is the sign of a good leader. The desire to treat those under you well. And if you’re successful, they will do the same for you. Unless they’re out and out asses. Then nothing can help that, unfortunately.

As Embry is thinking his leader thoughts he hears a ‘thump’ that sounds like it came from outside. Embry calls for Blake again and rushes outside only to find the source of the noise is a piece of the plane banging against the outer shell. He wanders about a bit until he finds his pilot cap. Thus equipped he starts to wander again but spots a canteen lying in the sand. Embry picks it up and reads the name on it – Kline.

Embry starts yelling/laughing at/for Kline. I honestly don’t know if he’s pleased or crazy. He tells Kline that he’s a stupid jerk for dropping his canteen. Then he calls Kline a “Bronx Cowboy” and tells him that he’s in the desert, he’s going to need water. I think I’ve decided on that he’s going a wee bit crazy. He goes on to say he still has to babysit them and it’s “strictly not funny” what they’re doing. He collapses on the sand and gives a manly little sniffle.

He goes to take a drink from the canteen but sees something that distracts him enough to where he lets the water pour all down his face. Grrrrr. We get to see what he’s looking at. It’s a guy sitting in the cockpit giving a weird-ass laugh and fully decked out in coat and hat and everything. Embry yells, “Blaaake!” so I’m guessing the guy is Blake. Embry staggers toward the plane. Blake still looks like a laughing bobble-head then disappears. Embry yells at him to come back, he feels responsible.

A little while later Embry is calling MayDay again, trying to contact Firefly. He starts to wonder to himself if this isn’t just some hallucination. He might be lying in the desert with a cracked skull and dying. He goes into a happier train of thought by thinking that this also might be a dream and he’ll wake up back at base. Then he starts wondering if he got insanely drunk and is maybe in actuality sitting in a bar with a pretty girl. Unless he drank absinthe I think I’ll dismiss this last theory.

He gets a bit giddy but sobers up quickly. He tells himself that he saw Blake sitting there and that was no hallucination. Hmm. In theory, if he is hallucinating, why wouldn’t the disappearing guy also be a hallucination. He says he saw Blake siting there and no one can tell him different. Well, that is true. Since no one is there then nobody can absolutely say  that he didn’t see Blake. He grabs his pilot glasses because now he’s in charge, dammit!

Which he proves by ambling over to a grassy knoll and yelling at his crew that isn’t there. He keeps saying that he’s responsible and they’re being jerks by being missing. As he plays King of the Mountain by himself he hears a soft clanking noise coming from another grassy knoll. There’s nothing there but a cross with Kline’s name on it. It looks cobbled together and says he died of injuries sustained in the crash. Above, Embry hears a noise and looks up to see modern jets fly overhead. He tells himself that they’re jets but then he’s confused. It’s 1943, how does he know what jets are?

He thinks that there’s no way of knowing but he does. He knows all about jet aircraft. Embry yells at the planes. Asking where are they going? What are they even doing there? He runs back to the plane asking Blake and Connors if they know aboutjet airplanes. I actually think he’s lost it now. He’s talking to them like they’re there. Embry tells the that they’ve got to get out of there but they can’t walk out. Nossir, no way they’re doing that. They’ll have to fly. Okey dokey, Embry. Good luck with that. He tries doing something with the front of the plane. I’m not sure if he’s trying to spin the prop or lift it. Either way, it’s not working. Then Embry starts to laugh hysterically at it and calls the plane an illusion.

He goes back and forth between hysterics and seriousness for a while. He thinks he’s either dead or knocked out somewhere. Or he’s back ina ward somewhere on base. Or he doesn’t exist either. Well, I will say this for him. he certainly covers every possible theory. He tells his crew to break silence, that they can even yell at him. Or (and this would be freaking creepy) they can “all spring out of the sand like jumping jacks and stand there laughing at him.” Oh. Kay. I think Capt. Embry has left the building.

He calls Kline’s name and sees his crew, standing there and laughing at him. Then they disappear. Jerks. Embry falls on his knees, begging to know what’s going on. Now I almost feel bad for making fun of him. Almost.

Anyways, we get a close up of his hand digging at the sand, which fades to a hand, clutching sheets. A medical doctor is telling a psychiatrist that the guy in the bed is James Embry, aged 41. He was walking by a newsstand and went into shock. They have a look-see at the headline that sent him almost catatonic. The headline reads “World War II Bomber Found Intact in Desert: B-25 Mitchell Lies 17 Years in Desert, No Clue as to the Fate of the Crew”. They give a rundown of Embry’s military record. Which is what it said earlier but also adds that there was some indication of psychological problems but that he was discharged before they could figure it out. Well, nice of them to follow up on the vet with psychological issues.

the psychiatrist says that the plane found was Embry’s plane. wait, didn’t the headline say that there was no clue as to the fate of the crew? The medical doc agrees that it was Embry’s plae and Embry’s crew. It took off for what was suposed to be a routine flight. Oh, ok. Embry had called in sick that day and someone else flew the mission for him. so, following this I’m guessing that not knowing the fate of his crew was slowly driving Embry nuts. Which, to tell the truth, it would drive me crazy, too.

Embry wakes up and the doctor tells him where he is and that he’ll be ok. Embry is perfectly calm now and says he had a crazy dream. Embry says he went back to the desert. The doctor tries to stop him but the psychiatrist wants to hear about the dream. Embry tells them all about it. He says that it’s his fault, he should have been on the plane. He says he chickened out. The psychiatrist tells him that there’s no way that Embry could have known what would happen. The psychiatrist reassures Embry that now that it’s out in the open and not bottled up inside anymore. Embry says a crazy part of his dream was that he saw jets. This seems to bother the psychiatrist but if it was a dream I’m not sure why. Embry says it was crazy. 1943 in the African desert and there wee jets. Just as if he had gone back there today. Embry wants to know if that could be. Did he really go back? The psychiatrist assures him that if Embry went back it was only in his mind. The psychiatrist tells the doctor that Embry will be all right now. As they talk the nurse brings over Embry’s clothing. Tthe doctor tells her to just set them on the desk. As she does, Embry’s shoes tip over, spilling sand out of them. She calls their attention to it wondering what it could be. I know it’s supposed to call our attention to the sand but…really?! You don’t know what freaking sand looks like woman?! The psychiatrist comes over to grab a handful and let it run through his hand, which fades into an image of the sand falling on the nose of a plane. I will grant you that it’s a pretty cool shot and quite pretty but…but…but it came out of a guy’s shoe! And, if it did really happen, a sweaty shoe!

SERLING:
Enigma buried in the sand. A question mark with broken wings that lies in silent grace as a marker in a desert shrine. Odd how the real consorts with the shadows, how the present fuses with the past. How does it happen? The question is on file in the silent desert. And the answer? The answer is waiting for us in the Twilight Zone.


Even though I poked a bit of fun at the episode I do really like it. I like the sand kicked in the face of the overly smug psychiatrist. And it’s a good exploration of the survivor’s guilt people can suffer. Sometimes without even consciously realizing it. There’s also the throwaway line about Embry being discharged from the service with no follow-up, even though they suspected psychiatric issues.


Thanks for joining us this week and come back next week for another episode of Twilight Zone: The Man in the Bottle

Twilight Zone Tuesday – A World of His Own

A World of His Own

Gregory West – Keenan Wynn
Victoria West – Phyllis Kirk
Mary – Mary LaRoche
Narrator/Himself/Host – Rod Serling
Elephant – Modoc


As Rod is talking we pan from the outside of a house, to the inside and then to a man. Mr. Gregory West. Mr. West is sitting and an attractive young lady is mixing him a drink.

SERLING:
The home of Mr. Gregory West, one of America’s most noted playwrights. The office of Mr. Gregory West. Mr. Gregory West. Shy, quiet and, at the moment, very happy. Mary. Warm, affectionate.

Gregory is watching Mary. she tells him he should be working. He playfully complains that she’s nagging him. She tells him that she’s only thinking of posterity but he wants her to think of him instead. She answers back, “Don’t I always?” and he responds that yes, she does. She takes a drink of the martini and he asks if it’s dry enough. She says “We’ll let the master decide” and hands it to him. He says it’s perfect, like always. She asks him if he’s describing himself. He toasts the glass to her and says, “We’ll let the mistress decide”. They cuddle up on the couch.

Outside the window, however, a very elegant woman watches them in astonishment. I’m guessing “mistress” was a little more literal than I thought.

SERLING:
And the final ingredient, Mrs. Gregory West.

Mrs. Gregory West does not look happy. Can’t say I blame her. While they’re snuggling on the couch, Gregory and Mary hear doors open and close. They look a little surprised. Then a woman’s voice calls, “Gregory?” and Gregory drops his glass. Methinks he didn’t expect the Mrs. home so soon. Mary says, “No, not again.” but Gregory replies that he has no choice. Mary asks him if he’s so afraid. Meanwhile, Mrs. West is knocking and asking if he’s working, in a very sweet voice. Gregory goes to his desk and Mary, obviously upset, stares at the fire.

Mrs. West is still knocking. She says she’ll only be a moment. She just wants to come in and…kiss him. I’m guessing with her knuckles. Or palm, since she looks like a lady. Gregory opens the door with a pair of scissors but he puts them in his pocket. So they’re not for Mrs. West. He opens the door for her and starts to say something along the lines of “I wasn’t expecting you back so soon.”

Mrs. West charges into the room and is surprised to find it empty. Gregory looks a bit smug and he asks her if anything’s wrong. He asks why she’s home so early, didn’t she like the movie? She says no, not much. I know some people enjoy it but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever gone to a movie alone. She tries to be nonchalant as she peeks behind the changing screen (why there’s one in a writing studio I have no idea) and patting the curtains down. Gregory tinkers with his Dictaphone. Heh heh.

She notes that he’s dropped a glass. He agrees but doesn’t move to clean it up. She checks under an end table that I highly doubt would hide a kid, let alone a full-grown woman. Then she starts rapping on the wall a bit, checking for a secret room or something. I’ve always wanted to build one of those and put some really freaky stuff inside to scare the hell out of the next owners. Anyways, Gregory wants to know if she’s looking for something. She says no, she’s just checking for dust and seeing if the walls are ok. Gregory tries to sneakily put away his scissors but she catches him. Why he’s even trying to be sneaky about it is beyond me. They’re just scissors. She flat out asks about a secret door and he asks why on earth would he need a secret door. She peeks around the desk where he’s sitting. She looks pretty cute and funny with how casual she’s trying to look.

He asks again if anything is wrong. She says she might be hallucinating things. She says that she was standing outside of the window a bit ago and he’ll never believe what she saw. Or what she thought she saw. This gets his attention and breaks his smugness a bit. He asks what it was. She says that she thought she saw a woman in his arms. They both have a chuckle at this. She goes on to describe the woman who handed him a drink and canoodled with him on the couch. She was a blond with a frumpy shirt and tacky little peasant skirt. As she’s speaking she takes off her gloves and sits by him on the couch. She says that for a hallucination it had a remarkable amount of detail. Then Mrs. West goes on to say that the funniest thing was that a man of his taste could be attracted to a drab and ugly little creature.

While I kind of agree with her on the clothes there’s no way that woman could be described as drab and ugly so she’s clearly trying to get a rise out of him. Which works. He says that she’s not so drab. A-ha! the Mrs. exclaims. She starts (justifiably) leaning over him with righteous indignation. She says she’s been watching him for some time now. And now she wants to know where she is. He says that he can explain and it’s not what she thinks (it never is, is it?).

He asks if she remembers an early play of his called ‘Fury in the Night’ and a character called Phillip Wainwright. She rolls her eyes and says yes. Then she pops up and asks the woman’s name. When he plays dumb she thwacks him with the end of her stole and insists on the name. Gregory says that her name is Mary. She says what a surprise! How common of a name! Gregory has her sit down to listen to him. He says that while doing that play the characters come so alive, so vivid that they take on minds of their own. The playwright might work out things for them to do but the characters are so alive that they refuse to do it. She tells him, more patiently than I probably would be, what the heck this has to do with Mary. He begs her to bear with him to which she shoots back, “I’ve born with you for years.”

He tells her that the character of Phillip Wainwright was the first character he wrote that behaved that way. She tells him to stop trying to change the subject. He says this is the subject. He tells her that one evening, while working on the play, Phillip Wainwright literally walked through his office door. She scoffs a bit at this but he says she’s got to believe him. He tells her that Phillip Wainwright walked in, sat down and was a real flesh and blood man. Victoria starts to walk toward the phone to call for a psychiatric ambulance. He insists that he has seen his creations, spoken to them. Even shaken their hand. That would be quite handy for a playwright or author. Well, maybe not a horror author. I don’t think I’d want Cthulhu bopping in through my front door or The Dunwich Horror smashing it flat. She says yes, and even made love to them, too. He says yes and she slams the phone down on the fingers that are holding the cradle down. He quickly says no, that she knows how he works. He describes the characters, dialogue and stage ideas. If he describes the character well enough they literally came to life. He says he doesn’t even have to describe characters in his plays anymore. Now he can create any character that he likes. Victoria says that he should be put away and starts to head for the door.

He stops her and says that Victoria saw Mary there, correct? She says yes. He asks where she could have gone. Victoria says that’s what she’s trying to find out. Gregory points out that she could not have gone out of the window, she could not have gone out of the door and there are no secret compartments. He says that what he does is describe Mary into the Dictaphone (snicker) and when he wants her gone (which seems slightly icky) he snips off the piece of tape on which she is described, rolls it into a little ball and throws it into the fire. Now we know why Mary was looking so despondent at the fire earlier. Victoria stares at him for a moment then declares she’s going to have him committed. She goes for the door but he beats her there and grabs the key from the door. She wants to know what exactly he’s doing and he says, very nobly, that he’s trying to save their marriage.

Gregory grabs the Dictaphone and says he can describe any animal or character he wants but he’ll describe Mary as he’s described her so often that she’ll be readily available. “I’ll bet”, chimes in his wife. Then demands the key. While he’s describing Mary and waxing rhapsodic about her his wife snatches the key from his pocket and heads for the door. As Victoria opens the study door Gregory is describing Mary’s actions of coming through the front door. Victoria is startled by hearing the doors open and close exactly as he describes. Although, if he’s trying to convince Victoria that it is ‘magic’ I would think it would be better to have her appear right in the room. Mary comes through the door, pleased at seeing Gregory again. Then she looks at Victoria behind the door and Victoria looks back they both give Gregory a goggle eye look that’s pretty funny. Mary graciously says hello to Mrs. West and the looks they each give Gregory are kind of amusing. Mary looks at him like, “Wtf is going on?” and Victoria seems stunned. Whether from Mary’s visit or from Gregory’s boldness at summoning her there I’m not sure.

Gregory smugly twirls his Dictaphone (snicker, I’m sorry, I can’t help it!) and then plucks the key from Victoria’s hand and asks, “Well?” Mary asks why he’s brought here there, now. She’s still standing in the doorway so he invites her in. So, what? She’a a vampire and a Tulpa? Mary enters and tells Mrs. West that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Victoria isn’t buying it, though. She thinks Gregory is trying to drive her crazy. See? It would have been better for Mary to materialize in front of Victoria. She says he wants to have her committed. He protests that he only did it because she was going to have him committed. She says he wants to have her committed so he can hare their property with this…this…and makes a couple of wild gestures at Mary. Mary asks if this is why he called her there, just to show Victoria? She looks pretty bummed and I don’t blame her. I also feel bad for Victoria. Technically (I suppose) cheating with your imagination isn’t technically cheating but if that ‘fantasy’ is turned into a full-blown woman then there’s some ethical gray areas there that are somewhat uncomfortable. To me at least. Plus, Gregory is so damned smug about it that I kind of hope the Mrs. and the Mistress run off together, leaving Gregory to play with his Dictaphone alone.

Gregory asks Mary to try to understand, after all, Victoria is his wife. She says “Not anymore I’m not!” not after the diabolical plot against her to gaslight her. He asks Victoria that she couldn’t possibly believe that he wants Mary (right in front of Mary, ouch). Victoria says yes and heads for the door. Gregory says here we go again and rushes to lock the door. Although I’m not sure when he got the key back. Victoria took it and opened the door and I don’t recall him getting it back. Must have been Plot Magic. He locks the door and Victoria demands to be let out. Gregory goes to his Dictaphone to snip his tape. Mary says, “Again? Why does he do this to her?” I kind of want to hug her. She looks so sad. I’d hug Victoria also but she seems much more self-confident. Greg just keeps saying, “What else can I do?” and she replies that that’s all he ever says.

Gregory is a bit angry at Victoria for making him summon Mary just to make her leave again. Just to prove that he’s telling the truth. Mary begs Greg to not bring her back again, please. It hurts her every time he makes her leave. Poor Mary. Gregory says, blah blah, Victoria is my wife. Then tosses the Mary tape in the fire, where it It poofs into a shower of sparks. Would celluloid do that? I would think it would just melt.

Mary slowly fades from sight. Right in front of Victoria. Victoria is confounded and keeps asking where Mary went and Gregory just keeps saying “I told you”. Gregory says he ‘uncreated’ Mary. Victoria says “Oh, dear” and rubs her eyes. Gregory comes to her and puts his arms around her and says he will never do it again. The first time he did it he did it because he was lonely. He tells Victoria that she’s flawless, impeccable and he felt inferior. Well, goodness knows you can’t talk about that with your wife! As he’s pouring out his excuses, er, feelings, Victoria sneaks the key from his pocket again. He says he didn’t create Mary to hurt Victoria’s feelings. He just wanted someone he felt more comfortable with. and since all we have seen of Mary is that she serves him drinks, calls him Master, and only wants to be by his side then I guess the only kind of woman he feels comfortable with is one whom isn’t above or an equal to him but adores him.

Victoria gives a very insincere “Awww” as Gregory goes on with his woes. He asks if she understands and she says oh yes, in the tone of someone humouring a lunatic. He says he guesses that it’s his own fault…but trails off when he sees Victoria has moved toward the door. He asks what she’s doing and she responds that she’s going for the nearest lawyer and don’t try to stop her. She’s going to have him put away for the rest of his unnatural life. Shetells him that she’s going to live in perfect harmony in this house, away from him and his Dictaphone. “No, Victoria!” “Yes, Victoria” she replies. I rather like Victoria. She’s witty and (for the time, I’m guessing) quite stylish. I do like Mary also, but she brings out sympathy rather than applause.

She stops outside the door and hears him Dick-tating into his recorder that a large, red-eyed elephant is standing in the hall and will not let her pass. why the red eyes? I think an elephant in the hallway would be startling enough. She yells through the door at Gregory to not be ridiculous. But when she turns around there, indeed, is an elephant in her way. It’s black and white film so I can’t tell if it’s eyes are red or not. Victoria is duly shocked and screams.

She whips back into the study and to give the actress credit, it does not appear to be an integrated scene so I give her props for being that close to an elephant in a closed in area. Gregory looks quite pleased with himself. She calms herself quickly and asks Gregory, politely, if he will please remove the elephant from her hallway? He teasingly asks if she will stay and she nods. You hear one last trumpet that is quickly cut off when Gregory snips the tape and chucks it into the fire. Poor Mumbo. Victoria peeks back out to check to see if the elephant is really gone. She sees nothing but an empty hall. Then, oddly, she calls him stark, staring, raving mad. Um, you just saw an elephant in the hall and he’s the crazy one?

I think part of why Gregory rubs me the wrong way (besides the obvious) is he seems so damn smug about it. He tells her with a very creepy smile that she should not say those kinds of things. Then he asks if she’ll stay. She tells him that she’s leaving and turns to go. He threatens her with the elephant again and she stops and says that she’ll stay…for now. She says, though, that the first chance she gets she’ll see that he gets put away. He throws up his hands and says, “I know, There’s nothing else to do then.” He goes to the bookshelf and moves some fake books to reveal a safe. Which is freaking cool. And I must admit that I’m jealous. I’ve always wanted an honest to goodness library, complete with the cool rolling ladder. His isn’t quite that grand, however. She asks how long that’s been there and he says since they were married.

He takes out an envelope with the name ‘Victoria West’ on the front. She asks him what it means. He opens it and pulls out some tape, hinting that Victoria herself is a creation of his. He wants to know whether he should put it back in the safe or throw it on the fire? Which I think he means in a divorce sense but it sounds rather like a death threat. She, of course, does not believe him. I will say that she seems a little thick-headed by now. Even if she could pass off Mary disappearing as a trick how in the heck does she explain the elephant? He tells her to look at herself. Beautiful and regal and could have any man in the world she wanted. Hasn’t she ever wondered what she’s doing with him? She gives a nod. He tells her that she is everything he used to think he wanted in a wife.

Victoria asks if this is another of his tawdry little tricks. He asks why does she think he was upset that she came back early? It wasn’t because of Mary but  because it was the first time Victoria had done so against his will. The very first time. She wants to know if he thinks he’s frightening her. He says no, she’s beyond that, he made her too strong. He says he forgot to add a little human frailty. He says he’ll put the envelope back into the safe. She snatches it from his hand and asks him if he’d like to know what she thinks of his foolishness? Then she flings the envelope into the fire. He freaks out and tries to grab it out. She looks rather pleased with herself. But as she walks away she feels strange and says “Oh, Greg”.  She feels so strange and is now asking him if he means to tell her that he was telling her the truth? Um, yeah? The elephant didn’t convince you? Then she disappears.

Gregory mutters to himself that he warned her, he told her, and rushes to the Dictaphone. He starts to recreate Victoria but changes his mind. Then he decides to leave “well enough alone” and begins creating Mary again. Except that now she is Mrs. Mary West. So, how long before you get tired of Mary and create another woman? As he walks around with the Dictaphone I kind of wish he would trip over the cord.

SERLING:
We hope you enjoyed tonight’s romantic story on the Twilight Zone.

SERLING:
At the same time we want you to realize that it was, of course, purely fictional. In real life such nonsense could never…

Gregory: Rod!

Gregory clucks his tongue and says “You shouldn’t say that. I mean, you shouldn’t say such things as ‘nonsense’ and ‘ridiculous’.”

As he speaks he pulls an envelope from the safe marked ‘Rod Serling’, pulls some tape from it and tosses it on the fire.

SERLING:
Well, that’s the way it goes…

Gregory sits back on the couch to take his martini glass from the new Mrs. Mary West. I can’t help but wonder if anyone has cleaned up the broken glass yet.

SERLING:
Leaving Mr. Gregory West, still shy, quiet, very happy and, apparently in complete control of the Twilight Zone.


This is a somewhat different Twilight Zone. Very meta for it’s time and Serling actually looks happy and relaxed. I can’t help but think if this was Rod thumbing his nose a bit at the studios since I’m sure they wished they could get rid of him just as easily. It also has a weird vibe to it. Slightly comedic and slightly off-putting. One more thing that makes it stand out. Mostly the hapless people that get caught up in the Twilight Zone have no choice in the matter. They are stuck there until either failure or rescue. Not Gregory, apparently.


So ends Season One of The Twilight Zone. Stay tuned next week for Season Two’s first episode: King Nine Will Not Return

I’m quite excited to be moving on to season two as seasons two, three and four have some of the best episodes ever aired on television.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Mighty Casey

The Mighty Casey

Mouth McGarry – Jack Warden
Dr. Stillman – Abraham Sofaer
Casey – Robert Sorrels
Beasely – Alan Dexter
Monk – Don Kelly
Team Doctor – Jonathan Hole
Commissioner – Rusty Lane


Ah, Casey at Bat. A lovely little ro-bit story. There are no Trigger Warnings except sarcasm and disinterest. It’s not a favorite.

SERLING:
What you’re looking at is a ghost once alive but now deceased. Once upon a time it was a baseball stadium that housed a major-league baseball club known as the Hoboken Zephyrs. Now it houses nothing but memories and a wind that stirs in the high grass. of what was once an outfield. A wind that bears a faint, ghostly resemblance to the roar of a crowd that once sat here. We’re back in time now, when the Hoboken Zephyrs were still a part of the National League and this mausoleum of memories was an honest-to-Pete stadium. But since this is strictly a story of make-believe, it has to start this way.
Once upon a time, in Hoboken New Jersey, it was tryout day. And though he’s not yet on the field you’re about to meet a most unusual fellow. A left-handed pitcher named Casey.

This has been one of the longest Serling intro so far, I believe. If he thought baseball was dying then, he should see it nowadays. Anywho, as he’s talking we see a series of scenes of the deserted stadium that switches to it’s active past, betokened by a sign reading “Hoboken Zephyrs Try-outs Today”. I think the Zephyrs is an odd name for a baseball team. There are various men practicing. It doesn’t really look like a full team’s worth to me. they’re doing their jumping jacks out of sync and the pitcher id limping. Although I don’t see why that should matter. As far as I know, pitchers don’t run. But what do I know? I don’t do baseball. If anyone out there knows, feel free to correct me.

The manager doesn’t look too thrilled with this season’s batch of recruits. The coach walks over to the dugout to talk with a gentleman in a suit (the manager, perhaps?). He sarcastically comments that it’s a good looking bunch of boys. The suit wants to know what the coach expects when he puts up a sign for tryouts for a team that’s 31 games down. The coach snarks back that these are the boys the suit lines up. The coach asks the suit that as general manager can’t he get some better recruits? The GM snarks back that the coach wouldn’t know what to do with them because he’s 20 games out of fourth place. I don’t like to choose sides but it does seem like a good coach should be able to make at least passable players out of bad ones.

The GM goes on to say that the only thing that distinguishes their team is that their coach has the biggest mouth in two leagues. The GM also points out none too gently that if the Zephyrs win one game they have to call it a streak and Coach Mouth McGarry had better remember that come contract time. They watch the pitcher with the stiff leg. Mr. Mouth says he pitched one inning and only allowed six runs. Mouth snarkily says that makes him their most valuable player. Wow. Aren’t you nice. Making fun of a pitcher who’s still out there trying to pitch. Jerk.

The phone rings in the dugout and the GM answers it, “Dugout, yeah.” Um, there’s only one phone there. If it got called, chances are that the other party probably knows they’re calling the dugout. The GM asks Coach Mouth if he wants to look at a pitcher. Coach Mouth says he’s so desperate that he’d even consider the GM for pitcher. The GM says sure to whoever’s on the phone. After the GM hangs up he tells Coach Mouth that the new pitcher is a lefty. Coach Mouth doesn’t really care. As long as he has more than one arm and less than four he’ll look at him. Um, a person can pitch with one arm, you ass. And wouldn’t four arms possibly make him a better pitcher?

Coach Mouth yells at Monk in the catcher’s position that they’re going to look at a new pitcher so give Fletcher a rest for a bit and catch to the new guy for a bit. Couldn’t he just let Fletcher know himself? The GM wants to know if Coach Mouth has the line-up for the night. Mouth says he’ll let him know, he’s working on it. He tells the guy leading the jumping jacks to quit before the guy on the end passes out. Maybe if they did them more often his players might be in better shape. Yeah, I’m thinking Coach Mouth isn’t a very good coach. Mouth goes to get a drink of water when he hears a voice call his name. He turns around and looks startled.

Coach Mouth turns around to see a little man in glasses. Coach Mouth wants to know what the gag is. Because, Cthulhu knows, that a small guy in glasses can’t possibly play baseball. The GM walks off and Coach Mouth yells after him that it’s a crappy joke (paraphrasing a bit). The man introduces himself as Dr. Stillman and says that he’s not the pitcher. Although he has thrown a few balls in his time, before the war. Coach Mouth still decides to be a raging bag of penises and asks what war? Insinuating that Dr. Stillman is ancient, when he only looks maybe five or ten years older than the coach. A tall blond guy walks up and Dr. Stillman introduces him as Casey, the tryout pitcher. Someone hits a foul ball and Casey watches it until it bounces off his head. Coach Mouth  makes an “Ouch!” face but it doesn’t seem to bother Casey all that much.

Dr. Stillman introduces Casey and The Mouth. Although apparently I’ve  been wrong, Mouth is apparently the Manager, not the Coach. So who in the heck is the Coach? Or are they the same thing? Either way, I’m still calling him Coach Mouth. Casey shakes Mouth’s hand. Dr. Stillwell has to correct him on which hand to use. Apparently Casey has a strong grip as Coach Mouth grimaces. Dr. Stillwell seems to be taking a bit of pleasure in Coach Mouth’s discomfort. Finally he tells Casey to let go of Coach Mouth’s hand.

Coach Mouth says the guy out on the field with the big mitt and he’s the catcher. He tells Casey to go out and throw a few balls to him. Which strikes (heh heh, get it? Strikes? I’m sorry.) me as odd. If Casey is there to try out as a pitcher it seems reasonable that he would already know the rules of the game. Unless Coach Mouth is making assumptions again and figures that because the guy is big and strong he must have a toddler brain. Casey politely tells “Mr. McGarry” thank you and starts to head off. Dr. Stillwell reminds Casey to put on his hat.

Coach Mouth seems entranced by Casey and walks by a guy still doing jumping jacks. Coach Mouth tells him to “knock it off, he sees him.” They watch Casey wind up for a pitch. Coach Mouth asks Dr. Stillwell if he’s Casey’s father. The doctor says oh, no. Casey doesn’t have a father.He’s Casey’s creator. That catches Coach Mouth’s attention for a second but then goes back to watching Casey. And how freaking long is Casey taking to wind up? Coach Mouth asks how old Casey is. Dr. Stillwell says that’s hard to answer. Casey has only been in existence for three weeks but he has the mind and body of a twenty-two year old. Dr. Stillwell says he created and built Casey and shows Coach Mouth the blueprints. Coach Mouth clearly doesn’t believe him and talks to the sky, asking why He’s always picking on him.

Casey throws his fast ball and it leaves the glove and ball smoking. Then he throws his curve. We don’t get to see it but it’s apparently very curvy judging by the way the Coach and Dr.’s heads are moving. The coach starts wiping his face down with a towel that he pulled from nowhere. He tells the doctor to wait there and goes to stand behind the catcher. He has Casey throw him a fast one and a slow one. Monk is super-excited, telling Coach Mouth that Casey’s the best pitcher that he’s caught in a long time and oh my god did you see him! Coach Mouth says yeah, he saw him and stuffs his face-sweaty towel in Monk’s mask. Ew. He tells Monk to go take a shower. Well, yeah. You just shoved a sweaty towel in his face. I’d go shower, too.

Coach Mouth tries to play it cool by saying that Casey’s rough but they’ll give him a try. Dr. Stillwell  tells Coach Mouth that Casey’s a robot. Coach Mouth tells Dr. Stillwell to never say that. They’ll just keep it in the family. Never mention the word “r-o-b-b-o-t-t”. Coach calls Casey over and tells him that he’s rough but they’ll work it out. Coach is such a nice guy that he tells Casey he wants to help young ballplayers then gives Casey a friendly tap on the shoulder that hurts his hand. He tells Casey to go ahead and change is clothes. Casey just stares at Coach so Coach asks the doctor if Casey wears clothes. The doctor says of course. He tells Casey to hit the showers (is that a good idea, if he’s a robot?). Casey just stares and blinks at him. The coach suggests the doctor check him out. The doctor agrees and Casey and Dr. Stillwell leave the field. Coach Mouth watches them and looks very excited.

Coach runs to the dugout phone and calls the GM, telling him to draw up a contract right away. Coach is still rubbing his hand from his handshake with Casey. He tells the GM to hurry down there with a contract, he wants the GM to shake hands with their new ace pitcher. Then he hangs up and has a little daydream about their pennant flying high.

At the game everyone’s excited. Monk asks Casey if he’s got the signals down and Coach Mouth tells Casey not to be nervous. Casey doesn’t know what nervous means so the Coach explains. Uh, wouldn’t it be better to just leave him alone? Why try to make him nervous? Dr. Stillwell asks what team they’re playing. Coach tells him it’s the Giants and he’d love to beat them. He’d love to beat any team for that matter.

Coach wants to know what’s in it for the doctor. Dr. Stillwell says that it’s purely scientific. He sees Casey as superhuman and wants to prove it. Um, ok? He’s not human at all but whatever. He goes on to say that he once built a home economist who was a wonderful cook. The poor doctor gained 48 pounds before he dismantled her. And I’m officially disgusted. He figured with Casey’s speed and stamina that he’d be a great pitcher so he wants to have it proven in a field of competition. The coach doesn’t seem to be paying much attention even though he’s the one who asked. As an acid test the doctor wants Casey to pitch in the worst team around. The Zephyrs. This offends Coach Mouth a bit and he tells the doctor he’s got a lot of class. I wouldn’t be talking if I were you. You’re the same guy who was making fun of an injured player (who presumably got the axe when you signed Casey) and shoved a sweaty towel in a guy’s face. You don’t get to be the arbiter of class.

We get a nice montage of how awesome Casey is making the team and how much they’re winning. In one of the games though, Casey gets conked on the head by a ball. For some reason the team doctor is checking Casey out, not his creator. The team doctor tells them that there’s no concussion and no fracture. Of course not, he’s a freaking robot! Coach is happy that Casey is fine because if not there goes the winning and the pennant. The GM throws in that it would also be the end of Coach’s career, which bums him out.

The team doctor says he always wondered how Casey could throw the ball so fast. He’s checking Casey’s pulse and trails off when he doesn’t find one. He checks out Casey’s heart with the stethoscope but still doesn’t find one. Then he stethoscopes Casey’s stomach and tells him to cough. Casey does and it sounds a little mechanical. The Coach comes over and wants to know what’s wrong. The team doctor says nothing, really, , just Casey doesn’t have a heartbeat and doesn’t seem to be alive. Beaseley wants to know what Mouth is trying to pull. Mouth protests and Dr. Stillwell tells the team doctor that they need to talk.

Dr. Stillwell tells the team doctor that there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for Casey not having a heart. He doesn’t have a heart, he’s a robot. The team doctor says he’ll have to notify the  Baseball Commissioner. The GM looks worried and the coach looks bummed. Aw, there goes his pennant. I think the doctor’s right. Having a robot is cheating. The coach tells Casey to move over. Then he grabs a random pill from the table and washes it down with what looks like brandy or something.

The Commissioner is reading from the rule book. Article Whatever, Blah Blah Blah Paragraph: “A baseball team shall consist of nine men.” Men. End of story. Casey’s banned. The GM tries to argue with him, saying that for all intents and purposes Casey is a man. He tells Casey to talk to the man and tell him about himself. Casey wants to know what he should say. The Coach also throws in that Casey is smarter than most of the “mutton-heads” on his team. The Commissioner insists that Casey isn’t human. The GM says he’s got arms and legs and a face and he talks. What more does the Commissioner want. The Commissioner says that Casey doesn’t have a heart. How can he be human if he doesn’t have a heart. Coach points out that Beasely doesn’t have a heart but he owns 40% of the club.

Dr. Stillwell has been largely quiet until now but he pops up and says, since the lack of heart seems to be the problem, what if they gave him a heart? Dr. Stillwell says that he can operate and give Casey a heart. The Commissioner asks Casey if he wants to play. Coach Mouth answers for him and says of course he does! And shakes Casey’s arm around a bit. Casey just looks at him like, “Don’t touch me.”

The Commissioner asks the doctor if he would classify Casey as human if he had a heart. What is he? The freaking Tin Man? The doctor says yes and the Commissioner says that with a heart he will let Casey play. Isn’t that still a little unfair? He is still a robot with super-human skills. The Commissioner says that the other clubs are going to scream blue murder. I don’t blame them. They’re cheating. In fact, if I were the Commissioner, I would discount all of their previous games. But that’s just me. Beaseley and the coach are thrilled because the Tin Man will get a heart and the coach is still holding Casey’s arm. Casey looks like he could really care less.

Everyone’s waiting in the locker room, suited up for the game. Beaseley is trying to ring Dr. Stillman’s house but he’s not getting an answer. The coach gives the team the line-up because they’ve got to start with or without Casey. Then, oh my god, he gives them the “Do it for Casey!” speech. Cheese overload. Monk starts to sniffle and hold a handkerchief to his eyes. I’m honestly confused. Now I have to wonder if the writers were having a little poke at ‘sports’ movies with this speech. It just seems so snarky.

In the middle of his very moving “ghost in the dugout” speech, Casey and the doctor walk in. Coach Mouth doesn’t even notice. He says hi to Casey and goes on with his “win one for Casey” speech. Casey smiles at him. When Coach Mouth finally realizes that Casey’s there he asks how about it? Casey smiles and opens his suit jacket so Coach Mouth can hear.

Casey’s very happy and he’s very cute when he smiles. He says he feels “like togetherness”. Coach Mouth tells the guys to go and get out there. He hands Casey his suit and tells him to go suit up, number 7. Coach Mouth looks weird and repeats “togetherness”.

Out on the field, Casey winds up for a pitch and the batter hits a home run. It doesn’t seem to bother Casey any but Coach Mouth and Beaseley look upset. Apparently having a heart has ruined his pitching arm. For some reason. The Giants keep getting hit after hit off of Casey and Casey looks very pleased by it. I’m just going to take a guess that with his new heart he doesn’t want to make the other team feel bad. The Giants are 14 up at the end of the first.

After the game Coach Mouth wants an explanation. Aaand I was right. Casey just couldn’t hurt the other team’s feelings. Casey has compassion. That’s what happens when you give someone a heart that hasn’t been around long enough to understand competitiveness, ego or drive. Casey apologizes to Coach Mouth and says he couldn’t hurt the careers of the other guys. What about your own team? It just seems a bit uneven. You’d think if Casey were really concerned about everyone he’d have made it a tie between the teams.

Dr. Stillman has suggested that Casey go into social work because he wants to help people. Then he says goodbye and leaves. Coach Mouth feels very sorry for himself. Dr. Stillman slides Casey’s blueprint to him and says a memento might cheer him up. Coach Mouth picks them up and starts to look them over. Then he starts to laugh. He catches up with the doctor as he’s walking across the field. It’s actually a pretty cool overhead shot. But, unfairly, we don’t get to see what he was laughing about.

SERLING:
Once upon a time there was a major league baseball team called the Hoboken Zephyrs, who, during the last year of their existence, wound up in last place and shortly thereafter wound up in oblivion. There’s a rumour, unsubstantiated of course, that a manager named McGarry took them to the west coast and wound up with several pennants and a couple of world championships. This team had a pitching staff that made history. Of course, none of them smiled very much, but it happens to be a fact that they pitched like nothing human. And if you’re interested as to where these gentlemen came from, you might check under “B” for baseball in the Twilight Zone.


Well, it makes me wonder how easy they were to make if an ass like Coach Mouth was able to make a team of them. I also realized that Coach Mouth also played Corry on the Twilight Zone episode ‘The Lonely’. He was a jerk on that one, also. The next episode is a good one with a very meta twist to it.


Thanks for joining us and come back for next week’s episode: A World of His Own

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The After Hours

The After – Hours

Marsha White – Anne Francis
Mr. Armbruster – James Millhollin
Mr. Sloan – Patrick Whyte
Saleswoman – Elizabeth Allen
Elevator Man – John Conwell
Ms. Keevers – Nancy Rennick
Narrator – Rod Serling


An attractive young lady is wandering through a department store, looking around. She walks up to a counter and the attendant asks if she can help the young woman. She replies, “No, that’s not what I’m looking for.” Ok, that’s a weird answer to that question. She wanders around a bit and gets in line for the elevator. There’s quite a line and she hears a man asking if she’s going up and she walks over and gets in. Oddly, none of the other shoppers get in with her or even seem to hear the man.

For some reason she’s standing really close to him. They’re the only ones in the elevator and she’s like right over his shoulder. He asks her what she’s looking for and she replies that she’s looking for gold thimbles, the ones the store advertised. He tells her that she’ll want Specialties. Before he closes the door she finally steps back from him. We get a shot of the elevator which says the building has floors B-G-M-3-4-5-6-7-8-R.

As the elevator ascends she’s back to lurking over his shoulder. Then she leans against the wall and says she’s not accustomed to such service. He doesn’t know what she means. She tells him there were a lot of people waiting for the elevator and she gets her own, private one. He tells her it’s an express elevator to the 9th Floor. The others are all locals at that time of day. She looks a bit confused.

SERLING:
Express elevator to the 9th floor of a department store, carrying Miss Marsha White on a most prosaic, ordinary run-of-the-mill errand.

The elevator marker shows it going past the ‘R’, to the presumed 9th Floor. The elevator man announces the floor and Marsha gets out but stops short. The entire floor looks bare. She turns back and says there must be some mistake, there’s nothing there. He doesn’t say anything, just slides the doors shut in her face.

SERLING:
Miss Marsha White on the 9th Floor, Specialties Department, looking for a gold thimble. The odds are that she’ll find it. But there are even better odds that she’ll find something else because this isn’t just a department store. This happens to be the Twilight Zone.

Marsha walks around the empty showroom, looking a bit ticked off. From out of nowhere a voice asks her if she’s being helped. A very elegant looking brunette asks Marsha if she can show her something. Marsha looks a bit startled and says of course. She explains to the saleswoman that she’s looking for a golden thimble for her mother. It kind of sounds like something out of a fairy tale, doesn’t it? Especially since the saleswoman is very fairy tale looking herself. Kind of like a witch or an evil, handsome queen. Ok, done rambling, I promise!

The saleswoman tells Marsha that she might have something she’d like, follow her. The saleswoman keeps eye contact with Marsha the whole time she’s walking around the counter which is really creepy looking. She also has a slight smile on her face. She takes Marsha over to another set of display cases, empty except for a jewelry box holding a fancy looking thimble. The saleswoman tells Marsha that it’s 14-karat gold and quite distinctive looking. After a second the saleswoman says “Don’t you?” After she stares uncomfortably at Marsha for a minute Marsha agrees. Marsha says that it will do. The saleswoman asks if it will be a charge. For some reason this seems to confuse Marsha and the saleswoman asks again. This time Marsha says no, no she’ll pay for it. The saleswoman asks if Marsha would like it gift-wrapped. At first Marsha agrees but then changes her mind and snatches it up. She starts to walk away with it until the saleswoman reminds her of the payment.

She tells Marsha that it’s $25.00 even. Marsha kind of slams the money down but it doesn’t seem to bother the saleswoman. Marsha snatches up the thimble and starts to clip away. I would say stomp but you can’t stomp in heels and they make a sharp clipping sound when people walk quickly in them. So, she starts to clip off but stops and says “That’s odd”. The saleswoman looks a little peeved as Marsha walks away but when Marsha says “That’s odd” the saleswoman looks up with a slight smile and says, “What is it, Marsha?”

Marsha doesn’t notice it at first but says that it’s odd that the floor looks so empty but they happen to have the very thing she wants, a gold thimble. Finally she notices that, even though she didn’t introduce herself, the saleswoman knew her name. The lady apologizes for being so forward but Marsha blows that off and wants to know how the lady knew her name. The lady says that she must have seen her in the store before. Marsha says that’s impossible, she’s never seen the sales lady. Neither of their assertions make much sense. The sales lady may have seen Marsha around the store but unless Marsha were wearing a name tag then she probably wouldn’t know Marsha’s name. And just because Marsha has never seen the saleswoman before does not mean the saleswoman has never seen her.

Marsha says that she doesn’t want to make a big thing of it but what kind of place is this? All she wanted was one gold thimble and on this floor it’s entirely empty except for the one thing she wanted. So she’s unhappy that she got what she wanted? The saleswoman has either gotten annoyed or bored because she’s turned her back on Marsha.  Marsha says that maybe the lady is a bit more sophisticated than she but Marsha finds it downright weird. The lady finally turns around and tells Marsha to come again, anytime. She gives Marsha an Ice Queen stare until Marsha turns away and starts clipping off again. The Ice Queen calls her back, using Marsha’s last name. Which stops Marsha in mid-clip.

The saleswoman asks Marsha if she’s happy. This throws Marsha for a minute, then tells the saleswoman that it’s none of her business. The saleswoman laughs and says “Oh, really? It’s none of my business?” She says (quite sarcastically) that, fine, it’s none of my business, Miss White. This is the second time that Marsha has failed to notice that the saleswoman has used her last name as well. They stare at each other for a bit, Marsha looks confused and the saleswoman just smiles at her.  The saleswoman has a very cryptic smile and it’s a little creepy. Before Marsha can react, the doors slide open and the elevator man asks if she’s going down. Ok, Mr. Tyler, trying to get a little love in an elevator? Marsha tears her eyes away from the saleswoman and gets in the lift.

Mr. Tyler, the elevator operator (he’s credited as Elevator Operator so he’s now Mr. Tyler) has a look like he knows more than he’s letting on. He asks politely if she found what she was looking for. She says she did. That in fact, it was literally the only thing for sale on that floor. She says somebody in efficiency ought to look into how efficient devoting a whole floor to the sale of one gold thimble. I agree, it does seem like a waste of space but really, what’s it to her? She also says that someone should report the ‘oddball’sales lady there. Ok, she was kind of scary but she wasn’t that bad. I’ve run into a lot worse..

Looking at the thimble again, Marsha notices that not only is it scratched but it’s also dented. She shows it to Mr. Tyler who looks like he could care less.  He tells her that the Complaints Department is on the 3rd Floor.  She insists that he look at it again. “Complaints Department, 3rd Floor” is his only response. The doors open on the Complaints Floor. Marsha gives Mr. Tyler one last look and gets off. He stares after her for a moment and then closes the door.

When the door closes it fades to another door with a name plaque reading: Mr. Sloan, Manager. A skinny little guy is explaining to Mr. Sloan, he of the door, I presume. Skinny guy is telling Mr. Sloan that he explained that the only thimbles they have are in Gifts and if it’s damaged then they will replace it. Mr. Sloan wants to know why, if that’s the case, Mr. Armbruster is making such a big, hairy deal about it. Mr. Armbruster says the young woman didn’t get it in Gifts, she has a crazy story about buying it on the 9th Floor.

This catches Mr. Sloan’s attention and Mr. Armbruster gives a creepy little chuckle. Mr. Sloan points out the obvious. They don’t have a 9th Floor. Armbruster says he tried to tell her this but she insists she was taken to the 9th Floor and waited on by a strange woman. Armbruser tells Sloan that this young woman should know another ‘odd’ woman very well. Sloan says that he’ll talk to the young lady. He puts on his prettiest customer face and goes out to do so.

Sloan asks Marsha what seems to be the problem. She tells him that the thimble she just purchased is dented and scratched and hold it out for him to see. He agrees, then tells her to take it back to the Gifts Department. She tells him that she did not purchase it there but was taken to the 9th Floor. Sloan tells her that he doesn’t understand because they don’t have a 9th Floor. She insists that she was taken there and waited on by a very odd woman. She paid cash. Armbruster asks to see her receipt. This takes her aback a bit. She tells him that she didn’t get a receipt and that she paid cash. She might have gotten a receipt if she had waited one hot second. The lady was writing something out that looked like a receipt. Through the crowd she sees the back of the woman who waited on her and starts to call her.

As she’s speaking a man comes over and lifts the ‘odd’ woman up, revealing her to be a mannequin. Marsha is startled. It’s the exact image of the woman she talked to.

I’m guessing Marsha got a bit woozy and perhaps even fainted because the next scene a woman is telling Mr. Armbruster that the young lady is resting, perhaps even asleep. Armbruster tells her to wake Marsha up because they’re closing. He says if she comes back the next day they’ll give her an exchange or refund or whatever, anything to get the crazy lady out of their hair. As Ms. Keever goes to get the young lady she is called away to help wait on another customer and the clock shows us it’s 6, closing time.

At 6:30 Marsha awakens on a couch. Everything’s dark and she looks confused. So they actually forgot her? Ms. Keever got so caught up with her customer that she forgot a whole person? She walks out to the main floor and promptly gets startled by her reflection in the mirror. I’d like to say something snarky but truth is I’d probably shriek and hit the ceiling myself if I were startled by my reflection. She walks through the creepy and empty department store. Because they are creepy after closing time. Especially the ones with mannequins.She’s walking a lot more slowly now, trying to keep her heels from making a lot of noise. She finds the elevators and hits the button to call them. The first one is stuck on the Ground Floor, which makes sense. The second is stuck on the Fifth Floor, which is a little weird.

She sees the stairway and tries that but the doors to it are locked as well. She tries to keep her composure as she calls that she’s locked in there. I’ve got to say the actress does a great job at giving her voice the perfect mix of authority, pleading and embarrassment at finding herself locked in and forgotten. As she calls she starts to sound more frightened. Giving up on the door she runs back to the main area. She gets a little panicky as she runs around looking for someone.

She  forces herself to walk and as she walks by a mannequin she notices that its clothes are rustling and its purse is moving but she didn’t touch it. Backing away from it she accidentally bumps into another mannequin. This time a gentleman dressed in sporty clothes. When it falls she sees its face and realizes that it’s the Elevator Man. She slowly backs away from him and then begins running. She ends up at the other end of the room where there are two mannequin women, dressed in ball gowns.

She hears her name being called by the mannequins. I think at this point I would find the bed department, hop in a bed and pull the covers over my head until morning. They start saying things like “Who do you think you’re fooling” and “You know who you are”. What follows are a bunch of freaky close-ups of mannequins and them whispering to her. It is really creepy. Especially the guy mannequin and the close-ups of their painted eyes.

She starts crying and backs up to an elevator, which obligingly opens for her. The floor indicator shows it going past the R, heading for the dreaded 9th Floor. The door opens and Marsha is greeted by the mannequin of the odd woman who waited on her. Marsha crumples in a corner of the elevator and starts crying. The elegant lady comes up to her, alive now, and tells her “Forgive an observation, dear but you’re acting like a silly child”. The lady helps her up and Marsha kind of falls against her for a second, still crying. The other woman disentangles herself rather quickly and leads Marsha by the hands out into the room. Which I’m guessing is some kind of mannequin storage room.

As they walk in Marsha now has her head on the other woman’s shoulder. The other mannequins get off their pedestals to follow them. The music is pretty awesome here. It starts out creepy and a little like a funeral march but then lightens up to a bit more subtly lighter. She looks around at the former mannequins who are now people. The only really terrifying ones are the guys in the ski mask.

The elegant lady asks Marsha if she remembers now. They’ll help her. Marsha looks confused at first but slowly the truth seems to dawn on her and she says she seems to remember. She’s a mannequin. The lady tells her that it was Marsha’s turn to go away for a month and live with the outsiders. She was due back yesterday but she didn’t show up. The elegant lady is slightly cross because yesterday was her turn and now she’s delayed a day. Marsha apologizes and says she forgot. That when they’re out with the ‘real’ people everything seems different. As though they’re just like the outsiders. The elegant lady says there’s no serious harm done and she’s off for her month with the real people. All the manne-people see her to the door, except for Marsha and the elevator guy.

He asks her if she enjoyed herself and she smiles and says it was ever so much fun.she repeats it with a bit of wistfulness in her voice.

The next morning Armbruster is making his way through the sales floor, pompously trying to be friendly. He walks by the mannequin of Marsha and does a double-take, his eyes buggier than normal.

SERLING:
Marsha White in her normal and natural state. A wooden lady with a painted face. Who, one month out of the year, takes on the characteristics of someone as normal and as flesh and blood as you and I. But it makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Just how normal are we? Just who are the people we nod our hellos to as we pass on the street? A rather good question to ask, particularly in the Twilight Zone.


Even though it’s full of gaping plot holes this is still one of my favorite episodes. Because I’m curious. Where do they live? Do they eat? If they’re stuck in the clothes they’re dressed up in then it seems like the ski apparel guys would stand out a bit. As would the women dressed in bridal gowns and bathing suits. And a month seems kind of short. Maybe that’s as long as they can go for without the store people missing them? And where do they get their money?


Join us again on Twilight Zone Tuesday for next week’s episode: The Mighty Casey (warning: heavy snark storm next Tuesday)

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Mr. Bevis

Mr. Bevis


James B.W. Bevis – Orson Bean
J. Hardy Hempstead – Henry Jones
Mr. Peckinpaugh – Charles Lane
Margaret – Florence McMichael

Narrator: Rod Serling


I will warn you now, the snark will probably be strong in this one so if it’s one of your favorite episodes you may want to avert your eyes now.

Trigger Warnings: A quite racist clock on Mr. Bevis’ desk that he seems quite fond of.


Twilight Zone has a new intro. It opens with a close-up of an eye, with a lot of mascara. The pupil fades into a sun and a black bar slowly creeps into the scene. The title screen comes up, fades into stars and pans down into the episode. So it’s a bit shorter, that’s good. As it plays Rod Serling narrates:

“You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, The Twilight Zone.”


As it pans down we hear organ grinder music. Kids are playing in the street together. They all gather around the organ grinder and the monkey. In the apartment above there’s a guy sipping a cup of coffee or tea. His house is cluttered with various toys and whatnot. I really like the Viking-looking ship and the shark jaws. It’s so cluttered that he has to step over things to get ready for work. He takes his coat down from a gazelle skull, which is pretty freaking awesome looking.

SERLING:
In the parlance of the 20th century this is an oddball. His name is James B.W. Bevis and his tastes lean toward stuffed animals, zither music, professional football, Charles Dickens, moose heads, carnivals, dogs, children, and young ladies. Mr. Bevis is accident-prone, a little vague, a little discomboomerated with a life that possesses all the security of a floating crap game. But this can be said of our Mr. Bevis – without him, without his warmth, without his kindness, the world would be a considerably poorer place. Albeit a little saner.

Kind of makes you wonder if he collects children and young ladies. Mr. Bevis heads out the door but then darts back in to leave his teacup on the sofa cushion. With the cup still half full. Which is disgusting. As he goes downstairs he literally runs into a third of the things he’s fond of. first he runs into a puppy, then a young lady who tells him good morning, and a boy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he walked outside and into a carnival.

Mr. Bevis is eyeballing the banister and the young boy tells him to go for it. Bevis slides down it backwards, shooting off the end (and incurring a pretty wicked looking hit to the goods). He tumbles out of the door and down the front steps of the building. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you slide down a banister facing forward. And if there’s any kind of finial or decoration at the end I recommend the gentlemen not try it at all unless you’re wearing a cup. The boy covers his eyes but Mr. Bevis is grinning and perfectly fine.

He lands at the feet of a thin, little woman who does not look happy with him. She stares him down until he runs away to throw the football for the kids. Dang, it was football, not a carnival. A fruit vendor passing by tosses him an apple and says hi to Mr. Bevis. We get it. Mr. Bevis is beloved by the whole neighborhood.

SERLING:
James B.W. Bevis is a fixture in his own private, optimistic, hopeful little world. A world which has ceased being surprised by him.

Bevis stops to wipe a bit of dirt off of his fender. As he goes to get into his car he sees a ticket under his windshield wiper. He gives a very exaggerated “Aw, darn it” face then whistles with his fingers. I could never do that. All of the neighborhood kids come running to help Bevis get his car off to a running start. He waves goodbye cheerfully as he leaves them in a cloud of exhaust. Bye, kids! Thanks for starting my car, have some black lung! I will give it credit for being a very diverse neighborhood at least. That’s a bit surprising for the time period.

SERLING:
James B.W Bevis, on whom Dame Fortune will shortly turn her back but not before she gives him a paste in the mouth. Mr. James B.W. Bevis, just one block away from the Twilight Zone.

We get an overview of a typing pool. Most of the desks are neat and tidy except for, you guessed it, Mr. Bevis’. Theres a bottle, a vase with flowers, a picture, a bull and a stuffed squirrel. There’s some other junk, too. There’s a banner of a smiling guy and the camera pans down to show the same guy but very unsmiling now. The boss tells one of the other workers to tell the gentleman that when he finally reports to work the boss wants to see him. He shakes his head again at the desk and goes back to his office. The acting in Twilight Zone is usually pretty decent but this episode smells strongly of ham.

Bevis comes in and, whaddya know? Everyone loves him here, too. The lady in the desk behind his tells him that Mr. Peckinpaugh wants to see him. Bevis goes to the boss’ office and all of the typing stops as they stare for a minute. They all lean forward to eavesdrop better. The boss tells Bevis that his book-keeping sucks, his desk is messy and Bevis keeps bringing phonograph records to work. Ironically he’s telling Bevis that his ‘eccentricities’ are distracting the office as they’re showing this lovely bit of kitsch.

Bevis also hires carolers to come in and serenade the office during it’s busiest hours. I think we’re supposed to find these traits charming but frankly, they would annoy me too. And having a dead squirrel on your desk is just gross. Apparently everyone knows he’s fired because as soon as Bevis comes out, some guy brings Bevis a box to clear his desk. He shakes his head at Bevis. Enough with the head shaking!

Margaret comes to commiserate and Bevis says it’s the sixth job he’s had this year. She offers to help him pack. Bevis picks up a wooden ship and says he was carving it for one of the kids. So, what? You have to stop because you got fired? It seems like he’d have more time to finish it. Bevis says the only job he’s held for more than six months was during the war, when he was in the Navy.

Bevis lugs out his box of stuff. It’s so big that it’s hard to see over. He tries to grab for the door handle of his car but it’s not there. A shiny new car accidentally caught bumpers with Bevis’ car and when it takes off it drags Bevis’ car to the middle of the intersection. Where it causes chaos. Fortunately the only car that’s flipped over or harmed is Bevis’. A cop strolls over and asks if the car belongs to Bevis. Bevis says it’s his and the cop asks if the car does that often. Bevis says it’s the first time as far as he knows. The cop gives him a head shake. One more shake of the head and I’m out of here. Bevis says he’ll call for a tow truck and then asks the cop if he wants to buy the car, it’s a ’24 Rickenbacker. What follows is kind of bizarre. The cop says he’s got his eye on a ’27 but wants to wait for the newer models. I feel like it’s just a joke that I’m not getting.

Bevis finally gets home with his big box of crap. On the way in he sees a box of other crap from his apartment. On his way up he passes his landlady carrying more of his stuff. She tells him that he’s been evicted. He’s six weeks behind in his rent. To be honest, I’ve never rented so I don’t know if this is reasonable or unreasonable. I think it’s supposed to make us feel bad for Real Life crushing this poor dreamer but I don’t.

After the eviction Bevis heads to the local bar. Maybe you should throw some of that whiskey money towards rent, there, Bevis. He sees a guy waving at him in the mirror behind the bar. The man gestures to Bevis to join him at his table. Bevis shrugs a “Why the hell not” and turns around to join him. But when he turns he sees that the table is empty. Startled, Bevis whips to the mirror The man is still there and gestures again for Bevis to join him. Bevis calls over the bartender and asks him what was in the drink. The bartender tells Bevis that he put everything in there but atomic energy. Bevis wants to know if that’s why he can see the other man in the mirror but not at the booth (I’m looking at the man in the mirror-yow!) The bartender asks Bevis who he sees. Bevis would be an excellent reviewer because he corrects the bartender’s grammar and tells him “Whom, objective case”. The man in the mirror agrees.

Bevis goes over to the table and start looking around it and under it. Bevis sits down with his drink on the table and the man pops into view saying, “We meet at last, Mr. Bevis.” Bevis says great, who the hell are you. The stranger corrects him and tells him that it’s “whom”. He introduces himself as J. Hardy Hempstead, Guardian Angel. We get a close-up of Bevis’ overly exaggerated confused face and it fades to black.

As the bartender walks up Bevis waves at the empty side of the table and introduces Hempstead. The bartender picks up the empty shot glass, sniffs it and says, “And a Happy Thanksgiving to you”. Man, they say some weird stuff in this one. Hempstead pops back into the booth after the bartender leaves. He lays it out for Bevis. Way back when an ancestor of Bevis’ performed a great act of courage and so was rewarded with a guardian angel for each of the descendants – currently it’s Mr. Bevis’ turn. He says that many Bevis’, under their care were famous explorers, members of the British Parliament, and Gunner Louis. Who was the first Marine to land at Nicaragua. Apparently that’s “Uncle Louie!”. Bevis says he’s going to close his eyes and when he opens them he wants Hempstead to be gone.

Hempstead says he’s not a delusion. He’s there to help Bevis with assistance by small, minor miracles. So where the hell were you when he was getting fired? A chandelier starts to very slowly descend over Bevis’ head. Hempstead snaps his fingers and it goes back to where it belongs. Then he says “Watched over. Get the picture?” Hempstead points out that Bevis had an uncomfortable time of it lately, getting fired from his job, yadda yadda. Bevis says that Mr. Peckinpaugh doesn’t like zither music. I don’t think I’ve ever heard zither music so I can’t say if it’s any good or not. Hempstead says they’ll go back to that morning and make it a little better. Bevis gets excited and says they can do that? Hempstead says of course, they’ll make some changes of course.

The first thing Hempstead changes are Bevis’ clothes from a loud checker pattern into a nice black suit. Bevis doesn’t like it, he says he looks like an undertaker. Hempstead walks through the door and for some reason Bevis thinks he can. Of course he runs into the door. Sooo funny.

Re-starting the day. Bevis goes downstairs and tries to pet the puppy but it growls at him. He says hello to the same young lady as earlier but she’s very cold to him. Bevis goes to slide down the banister but Hempstead says nu-uh. The land-lady is really nice to him, however. He tries to play football with the kids but they ignore him. He says hi to the fruit vendor and asks what about his apple. Tony tells him to bug off. He looks for his Rickenbacker but now he’s got a fancy new car. But Bevis liked his Rickenbacker. Dang it, he likes giving the neighborhood kids a face full of exhaust. Hempstead says that to have his new life Bevis has to give up his eccentricities. Although inviting the carolers to work did get Bevis some approval from “The Organizatiion’. Apparently God is the mafia.

They go to his work and Bevis says someone has cleared off his desk. Hempstead tells him no such thing and says “you’ll see” and teleports away. Bevis says hello to everyone but they ignore him. He asks Margaret where all of his stuff is but she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Mr. Peckinpaugh comes out beaming at Bevis and says that Bevis has just gotten a raise to ten dollars a week and that his work has been superb. Uhh, is that a good idea? To announce raises like that?

Bevis freaks out and runs away. Bevis doesn’t want a raise. He wants to go home and play football with the neighborhood kids. Hempstead says that’s not going to happen. Bevis leaves in the elevator. Hempstead asks Bevis to level with him and tell him what it is that Bevis really wants. Hempstead doesn’t ‘get’ Bevis. He’s used to Bevis’s with big dreams. He’s used to Big Bevis’ (heh heh). Bevis say he doesn’t want to seem ungrateful but he wants his old like. He goes into a long monologue about how his dreams are worth more than $10.00 a week.

So, Bevis goes back to his own life, fired, eviction and all. Little things start changing like a police officer going to give him a ticket for parking in front of the hydrant and the hydrant moves in front of another car. And that’s it. He makes plans to get another job and apartment and finish the model ship and I am so done with this episode. I’ll let Serling take it from here.

SERLING:
Mr. James B.W. Bevis, who believes in a magic all his own. The magic of a child’s smile, the magic of liking and being liked. The strange and wondrous mysticism that is the simple act of living. Mr. James B.W. Bevis, specie of 20th century male who has his own private and special Twilight Zone.


Ugh, this episode is so annoying. So, apparently, you can’t be a good person with a little bit of money and being responsible. Thank Cthulhu that the next episode is The After-Hours, which is an excellent episode.

Join us for next week’s episode: The After-Hours

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Passage for Trumpet

Passage for Trumpet

Joey Crown – Jack Klugman
Gabriel – John Anderson
Baron – Frank Wolff
Nan – Mary Webster
Truck Driver – James Flavin
Pawnshop Man – Ned Glass


Trigger Warnings: Thoughts of suicide, attempted (and partly successful) suicide.

A passage for self-pity might be a better title for this episode. Prepare for heavy snark incoming. I’m not in a humour to tolerate stupidity this Tuesday.

We hear the ubiquitous jazz music (what else did you expect with an episode entitled ‘Passage for Trumpet’?) It looks like we’re in a back alley with old signs and I really hope some old statues. Either that or there’s a ballerina frozen in place in the alley.

SERLING:
Joey Crown. Musician with an odd, intense face. Whose life is a quest for impossible things. Like flowers in concrete, or like trying to pluck a note of music out of the air and put it under a glass to treasure.

The music stops and Joey Crown grabs his trumpet out of it’s case and looks very nervously anxious. Some well-dressed people come out and look with uncomfortable disdain at Joey. The man who had been playing comes out soon after them to have a smoke in the alley. Joey squares his shoulders and seems to gather his courage to talk to the dapper man. The man, whose name is Baron, seems very glad to see Joey and shakes his hand vigorously. Joey says he brought along his baby (his horn and I long to make a rubbing your brass joke here but I’ll restrain myself) and wants to know if Baron needs a horn for the night. Baron looks a bit uncomfortable and tells Joey that he doesn’t need a horn that night. The last time Joey played for him the alcohol got in the way. Joey replies, “Psssh! Booze! Don’t remember what it tastes like! He’s way up on the wagon now!”

Baron doesn’t look like he believes him. Joey gets affronted and says he’s not an old coot. He acknowledges what booze does to him. But he’s not an old man and he and his trumpet have a lot of years left in them. Baron softens a bit. Joey flings an arm about Baron’s shoulders. He assures Baron that he wouldn’t throw his talent away on a bum habit. Joey rattles on, trying to convince Baron, telling him that when he plays he can make people cry. Which might sound weird but listening to certain music can affect me the same way. Except jazz. It’s one of the few musical genres I have no interest in. I don’t mean to slight those that do like it, everyone has their own taste.

Anyways, back to the story. Alas, as Baron sits down on a nearby crate Joey snatches up his case and a bottle of whiskey, Golden Delight, falls out and shatters on the ground. Baron looks disappointed and Joey looks ashamed. Baron says, “Don’t do it.” I’m not sure what he means, exactly. Don’t lie? Don’t go onstage? don’t be ashamed? Baron slips some money into Joey’s pocket, telling him it’s for when he had a magic horn. Harry James, Max Kaminski and Butterfield. Taking a quick tip-toe through the internet I find that these are actual, well-known jazz musicians. Baron tells Joey that he had a little of all their talent rolled into one. Joey traded it for some booze and got the crummy end of the stick. Baron wants to know why? What happened to him?

Joey says it’s because “he’s sad, because he’s nothing, because he lives and dies in a crummy one-roomer with dirty walls and cracked pipes.” So? Some people have it a lot worse. Clean your walls, fix your pipes. Sheesh.  He doesn’t have a girl, he’ll never be anybody. Since he’s decently good looking I’m thinking his attitude is probably what keeps the ladies away. He goes on to say that the horn is half of him. He can’t even talk to people because the horn is half his language. But when he’s drunk, oh boy, he doesn’t see the crummy apartment and doesn’t see the hours going by because then he’s Gabriel with the horn. Baron is exceedingly patient throughout this speech. Joey puts his trumpet to his lips. I think the actor screws up but I don’t play the trumpet so I’m not really sure. At first he puts the whole mouthpiece in his mouth, then takes it out. I only played the flute (for one year and very, very badly, sadly my dreams of being the next Ian Anderson were crushed). So i thought maybe it’s something players do to wet the mouthpiece.

Anyways, Joey goes on to say that when he’s drinking he’s Gabriel with his golden horn. When he puts the trumpet to his lips, it comes out jewels, a symphony, the smell of fresh flowers in the summer. Beauty. I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for his neighbors. But only when he’s drunk. Joey wanders off and Baron looks like he feels very sorry for him. He doesn’t wander very far, in fact, I can’t see that he’d really be even out of sight of Baron. Joey throws a bit of a fit and chucks his case down, settling himself down in the scaffolding. Then he calls himself a plain, nothing, nobody. He decides to let out his misery in a melancholy trumpet riff. As little as jazz thrills me (although I do like the trumpet in some songs, Johnny Cash’s ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ has some excellent horns in it) I do get the reason behind his doing so. As the great philosopher Jem says, music is magic. And weirdly, when I’m bummed or annoyed, depressing music actually cheers me up. Either that or metal. Whichever.

As Rod talks, Joey continues to play. It does look like he’s actually playing. So maybe I was wrong earlier.

SERLING:
Joey Crown. Musician with an odd, intense face. Who, in a moment, will try to leave the Earth and discover the middle ground. The place we call…the Twilight Zone.

Joey wanders into a pawn shop and sets his trumpet down on the counter. The pawn shop guy greets him by name and Joey calls him Nate so I’m guessing that this isn’t the first time Joey’s pawned something. Joey says that this time he’s selling the trumpet. Nate offers him eight and a half for it. Joey starts to argue but says fine. Eight and a half. Nate says he’d give more but he has enough instruments there to provide two sousa bands and he needs another trumpet like he needs his taxes raised. Which, if Joey weren’t so caught up in his own misery, should make him think that he’s not the only one with unfulfilled dreams of music. Joey takes out the trumpet to touch it a bit more before he sells it. Why bother selling it? He obviously loves it, he’s not getting much money for it so he might as well keep it. He does the mouth thing on it again so now I’m guessing it is actually something trumpet players do. Any of you guys know?

Joey took his newfound wealth to a bar. He bows to a lady walking by but when she doesn’t pay him any attention he changes it to a hand gesture that’s not quite a flip-off but close. Joey walks over to the pawn shop, which looks like it’s right next door to the bar, so Joey didn’t go far. He watches as Nate puts his trumpet in the window with a price tag of $25.00. A far cry from the eight bucks he paid for it. Joey taps on the window to let Nate know that he sees him. Nate has the good grace to look embarrassed and shrugs and tells Joey that he won’t get that price for it that quickly. Nate says he’s got an overhead that he has to meet and that guys like Joey wouldn’t understand that. They don’t have anyone to be responsible for. Which is generally how pawn shops work so you’d think that Joey would know that. Joey agrees with himself that he has no responsibilities, no nothing.

As he stumbles from the window he leans against a post for a minute, chewing on his nail. Weirdly the light looks as though it’s turned from night to day. He watches a truck hauling down the road and at the last minute throws himself in front of it. Great. Traumatize the driver because you want out. Don’t worry, I’m not going off too much here but that’s a pretty crappy thing to do, since now the driver will feel guilty about hitting him.

Joey bounces off the hood and back onto the sidewalk. There’s a very nice shot of Joey’s face reflected in the pawn shop window. It’s night again and Joey wakes up and gets up. There’s only one person around and that’s a police officer, talking on an emergency telephone. When he gets off the phone Joey talks to the officer and tell him that he’s not a real drunk, just ask the officer who’s normally there, Officer Flaherty. The officer is making notes in a notebook and doesn’t appear to hear him.

Joey walks off, asking a passer-by for a light but the passer-by ignores him. Hmm, wonder what’s going on? A guy is combing his hair in the reflection of a window and Joey asks him for a light. The Comber ignores him, too. He asks the ticket cashier at a theater if the movies are any good. He sounds like he’s getting a bit frustrated now. He says he’s “not a masher” but he knows the girl that usually works there. a girl named Gracie. Can someone tell me what “masher” or “mashing” means? I also came across it in Robert W. Chambers’ ‘The Yellow Sign’, in which a young lady says that she “made a mash”. The only thing I could think of was a flirter or flirtation?

He keeps talking to the lady. It sounds like he’s trying to convince other people (and himself) that it was an ‘accident’ not attempted suicide. She continues to ignore him. He tells her that she could at least be courteous. He yells at her to look at him. It’s finally dawning on him that it might have actually been successful rather than an attempt. Although I always had an issue with the phrase “successful suicide”.

He looks at the window the Comber was looking into but does not see a reflection. So he’s either dead or he’s a vampire. He starts getting a little worried and falls back on the favored Twilight Zone fallback of “someone’s pulling a gag”. I truly believe you could make a drinking game out of how many times that phrase is used. He tries talking to the girl again and then back to the window/mirror. He sees a man reflected behind him and runs over to him. Joey again asks for a light and is relieved when the guy pulls out a matchbook. Joey thinks that he’s finally heard but the joke’s on him. The guy lights his own cigarette and walks on. I always said that would be hell. Cigarettes a-plenty but nothing to light them with.

Joey’s cigarette falls from his mouth as the truth finally sinks in that he’s dead. He yells to some people coming out of the theater that the truck worked after all. As a woman comes up to purchase a ticket he tells her that he’s haunting her – Boogee booggee (really, that’s exactly what he does). I’m not sure if he’s freaking out about being dead or enjoying it. He says that at last in his short life he was successful at something.

He walks back into the bar and asks the bartender if Charlie’s off. Then he yells if anyone hears or sees him. He’s looking a bit bored with his newfound ghosthood. He says he used to come in there a lot but he doesn’t know any of them and they surely wouldn’t have noticed him. It does strike me odd that everyone’s different. Shouldn’t they be the same people? And if they’re afterlife people shouldn’t they see him? Even though he’s a ghost and nobody sees or hears him, he’s able to pick up the bottle of Golden Delight whiskey and pour himself a drink. Without the bartender noticing a floating bottle right in front of his face. I don’t know why but I feel like there’s something to the name of the whiskey, Golden Delight, that makes me think it’s not a random name but for the life of me I can’t pin down what it could be referencing.

The bartender is so studiously looking away from Joey that it looks a bit unnatural. I’d think that he’d glance in his direction once by accident, even if he doesn’t see him. And I don’t know what the bartender is doing behind the bar but the hand motions look…odd.

Joey says Charlie was a really nice guy and would sometimes give him a drink on the house. He also went out and got an old Tommy Dorsey record from way back, when Joey was playing with him. On that same record was a long passage of Joey playing the trumpet, solo. Charlie ordered it just for him and put it on the jukebox. Charlie does seem like a very nice guy. After cuddling the jukebox a bit more, Joey wanders back to the club from earlier.

As he’s checking out a blonde who apparently went outside to take two puffs of a cigarette and go back in, he hears some soulful horn music from somewhere nearby. It draws Joey like a magnet and he soon finds the player. He watches, enraptured as the player (who’s half in shadow) plays. When he stops, Joey begs him to continue, it’s so beautiful. The player says thank you. Joey gets all excited because the Mysterious Trumpet Player heard him. Joey asks him if he’s a ghost, too, and the player laughs and says “not really”.

I know it’s not, nor is it supposed to be, but damn. The Mysterious Trumpet Player looks like Abraham Lincoln. Joey says he is, he stepped in front of a rather large truck that morning so he’s not fit for “The House”. It doesn’t seem to trouble him much. Abe Lincoln asks Joey, by name, if he’d like to blow on his trumpet for a bit. I…will say nothing here. Either way, is that normal because I know how wet mouthpieces get (this is killing me) and it seems a little icky to me to share a mouthpiece. Joey catches that the man called him by name. The Player replies that yes, he knows Joey, has known him for quite some time. Joey says they’ve never been introduced. The Player says that’s true but he does know him, Joey plays a pretty good trumpet. He says he should know, he’s a pretty good expert on trumpets. Joey says The Player is no slouch. He tells him to go ahead. Joey plays a bit (I notice he doesn’t stick it in his mouth, though). The Mysterious Player watches with pleasure.

Joey wants to know how The Mysterious Player knows him. He’s not a ghost, and not dead. The man replies no, he’s not dead. And neither is Joey. This strikes Joey and he doesn’t look particularly pleased about it. The player says nope, by no means. Joey wants to know why the other people didn’t see him. The Mysterious Player says that they are ghosts. They just don’t know it. Sometimes they have to work it that way to make it easier. They let them go on in a life that they’re familiar with.

Joey says he stepped off the curb and the player says yes, he did. Joey’s in a kind of limbo. Neither here nor there. The Mysterious Player asks which Joey prefers? Joey mulls over the question. He says he always felt that he was getting dealt from the bottom but then says that maybe he just forgot how much there was for him. And maybe he forgot about how much he loved playing the trumpet and going to Charlie’s and talking to people and movies. He says he never won a beauty contest but he had friends. Good friends. as evidenced by Baron, earlier. And, really, I do think he’s rather good looking. Maybe not dazzling eye candy but handsome. Twilight Zone must think so, too. This guy shows up on a lot of them.

Joey says somewhere along the line he forgot about all of the good things. Just forgot. I think a lot of people do, myself included. The Mysterious Player says that Joey has a choice. Joey looks excited at this. He says if he really has a choice then he wants to go back. The Mysterious Player says, ok, you go back, then. He tells him no more stepping off of curbs. Impressing upon him that this is his choice and will be the only chance. Sometimes life is sweet and sometimes it’s sour and goes down hard. Since I like sour stuff I think I’d compare it more to a rock being shoved down your throat and being kicked in the gut while you’re down. But hey, that’s just me.

Mysterious Player tells Joey that he’s got a good talent. To make music, to move people. To make them want to laugh, to cry, to tap their feet, dance. It’s an exceptional talent. I’ve got to agree with him. Any art form is a true talent and shouldn’t be slighted. Drawing, painting, music, computer graphics, all of them. He takes back his trumpet and tells Joey not to waste his talent. He says he’ll see Joey around and walks off.

Joey yells after him to “Wait! I didn’t get your name!” The man with the trumpet yells back that his name is Gabe, short for Gabriel.

Joey runs after him and ends up in front of the pawn shop. He hears tires screeching and a scream and turns to look. Suddenly he’s on the sidewalk, with the man from the truck leaning over him. The guy says he’s sorry, he didn’t see him, Joey just stepped right out in front of him. Joey’s lucky he only got grazed a bit. Joey says it’s ok, no harm done. The truck driver says he hasn’t had an accident in fourteen years and he’d be much obliged if Joey didn’t call any ambulance or insurance companies or anything. He thanks Joey for being a pal and shoves some money in his hand. Well, since Joey deliberately stepped in front of the truck it is the least he could do.

Joey looks at the money in his hand and runs into the pawn shop to reclaim his property. Later he’s playing on the rooftop of an apartment building, presumably the one with his crummy room with the dirty walls. A lady appears out of nowhere and compliments Joey’s playing. Joey tells her that he gave it up this morning but now he’s taking it back. She tells him that she just moved in. Joey tells him her name and she surprises him by asking him to play some more. He says he’ll play whatever she wants for as long as she wants him to. He tells her it’s a pretty nice city. The lady asks if maybe he can show her around. Methinks Joey’s gonna get a girlfriend. Maybe he’ll clean his walls if he’s got a lady friend. He starts telling her all about the cool things he can show her. We leave with him excitedly talking to the lady and pretty assured that things will be looking up for Joey.

SERLING:
Joey Crown, who makes music and who discovered something about life. That it can be rich and rewarding and full of beauty, just like the music he played. If a person would only pause to look and to listen…Joey Crown, who got his clue in the Twilight Zone.


Another Serling lesson about slowing down and smelling the roses. At least it’s not an escaping to the past episode. Not to sound annoying but this episode does have a pint. Life’s just a tad too short to be too ‘cool’ to not enjoy stuff.


Join us next week for yet another life lesson in being happy with what you are and/or have: Mr. Bevis