Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Chaser

The Chaser

Professor A. Daemon – John McIntire
Leila – Patricia Barrymore
Roger Shackleforth – George Grizzard
Homburg – J. Pat O’Malley


I will warn you right now, this is a fairly skeevy episode. Just about anything to do with love potions is, really. Anyways, off we go.

There’s a line forming to use something rare and hardly ever seen anymore…a payphone. A semi-young man is tying up the line listening to a busy signal. A man rushes into the diner, asking for the telephone. He sees the line but his is a really important call so he bypasses it with a hand wave.The lady at the head of the line gives him a look that sends him to the back of the line. Even though he’s only been there a moment and has no idea what’s going on he calls it ‘madness’ to wait for the phone. For all he knows the guy on the phone just got there. The man on the phone hangs up and begins dialing again. This sends the newcomer from a snit into a perfect tizzy. It’s simply outrageous that he’s making another call! The lady at the end says it’s the man’s fifth call. He doesn’t even talk. Just dials and hangs up. Then she says, “Maybe he’s got a dialect!” Uhh, ok?

SERLING:
Mr. Roger Shackleforth. Age, youthful 20’s. Occupation? Being in love. Not just in love but madly, passionately, illogically, miserably, all-consumingly in love with a young woman named Leila who has a vague recollection of his face and even less than a passing interest. In a moment you’ll see a switch because Mr. Roger Shackleforth, a young gentleman so much in love, will take a short but very meaningful journey into the Twilight Zone.

The newcomer is in a dreadful hurry and buys the young lady’s place in line for a buck. The same with the man before her. He tries to buy the lady’s top of the line but she’s not so cheap. She wants two dollars for her place in line because why should first place be the same as third? She has a point. She gets her two dollars so now the only thing between him and the precious phone is Shackleforth, still listening to the dial tone.

Finally the young woman, whom I can only assume is Leila, picks up the phone. She’s attractive and really dressed up for lounging about in bed. She was clearly hoping for someone more interesting because when Shackleforth announces himself she loses all interest. He asks if he can come over and she says no. She looks a mess and can’t see anyone. Well, we know she’s lying but Shackleforth blows that off and says he must see her. Furiously, fiercely must see her. Dude. Take a cold shower. She says it’s impossible and when he says he loves her she tells him to stop this. He’s acting like a baby. I agree. He’s one restraining order away from stalking her. Although I’m not sure if they even had those back then. I will once again ask you, dear readers, to enlighten my ignorance.

He begs again to see her and then begs her to say something, anything. She says she’ll say something: “Why doesn’t he go and take a flying jump at the moon?” and hangs up. As soon as it’s clear that Shackleforth has hung up the newcomer shoves his way into the booth and deftly squeezes Shackleforth out. Shackleforth is still clutching the phone. He insists that he’s got to call leila back. She hung up on him so he has to make sure that she isn’t sore. Take. A. Hint. The newcomer tells Shackleforth that he heard it all through the door and his problem can’t be solved on the phone. Then he hands Shackleforth a card and tells him to go and see that man. If Shackleforth goes to see the man on the card, all his problems will be solved before the day is over.

Shackleforth looks at the card. He must have taken the man’s advice because the next time we see Shackleforth he’s in front of a rather large looking house. The name on the door reads: Professor A. Daemon. I’m sure this will end well. He rings the doorbell and the door swings open on it’s own. It reveals a dark room with wooden panel doors. The slide open of their own accord as well, revealing a large, library-looking room. An older gentleman is puttering around inside.

The older gentleman seems a bit crotchety and tells Shackleforth to stop lurking. Shackleforth says he wasn’t lurking, he just didn’t know if…Professor Daemon tells him that’s a common problem. ‘Not knowing if’. Daemon tells Shackleforth to sit down on a nearby pile of books. And I’ve got to say. The books he sits on are freaking huge. Daemon asks if Shackleforth has come for glove cleaner. Shackleforth says he didn’t come for that. Daemon dismisses him and Shackleforth says (for the third time) “As a matter of fact”. Daemon snaps at him to get to the point.

Shackleforth says he’s not sure why he came. That a man gave him a card but he’s not sure why he’s there. Shackleforth starts to set the scene but Daemon breaks in and says that Shackleforth wants what he has. Shackleforth protests that he doesn’t even know what Daemon has. Daemon says he has *ahem* : “Ointments, salves, powders, sovereign remedies, nectars, lotus blossoms, toxins, tonics, anti-toxins, decoctions, concoctions and potions”. And they all come guaranteed. Daemon goes back to flipping through his book and Shackleforth gets up to leave, saying he doesn’t need any of those things. Daemon says that he must, he’s here after all. Shackleforth says he doesn’t need any medicines because he’s not sick. Daemon says Shackleforth certainly seems ill, he looks feverish.

 

Shackleforth claps a hand to his head, just to check, I guess. He says it’s nothing, really. Daemon says he hasn’t got ‘nothing’, ‘something’ is what he supplies and you can get ‘anything’ here. Daemon finally smiles, asking if Shackleforth is ambitious and wants money, fame and the world at his feet. Shackleforth says no, that’s not what he wants at all. Daemon catches Shackleforth by the shoulder and guesses power, what Shackleforth wants is power. Shackleforth says no, all he wants is Leila. If he can have Leila he can do everything else for himself. Which seems a little backward to me. Leila looks entirely like a woman who would be impressed by wealth, fame and power. Or, hey! Here’s an idea! If you have all of those things you might find another woman whom you want and who would actually (willingly) love you back.

This seems to disgust Daemon and he says he should have known. He’s offering Shackleforth everything but all he wants is Leila. Shackleforth lays it out for Daemon. It’s pretty simple. Shackleforth loves Leila but she doesn’t love him. And there’s nothing Daemon can do to make it any different. Daemon says that’s the simplest thing of all. A mere trick of his science. He looks disappointed that Shackleforth doesn’t want something more complicated. Daemon tells Shackleforth that he can make a potion that will make Leila love him and him alone.

This catches Shackleforth’s attention. He asks Daemon if he can really do this. Daemon says he can make a potion that will make Leila want to spend every minute with him. When she’s not by his side, she’ll be gazing lovingly at him. She won’t even eat until he does. She’ll do anything that Shackleforth asks her to. She’ll worship him, weep at his touch and beg for his kisses. Sounds like we’re wandering into Christian Grey territory here. Instead of a contract it’s a potion. Ick. The potion will even make her forgive him if, in time, he should be unfaithful. Daemon wraps it up by saying that Shackleforth would get the same unconditional love from a Cocker Spaniel. Unless you’re into bestiality there is one major difference. But it’s a difference that’s just as icky if a potion is used on her against her will.

 

 

Shackleforth says, yes! That’s exactly what he wants! Shocker. Daemon mocks him, saying if it’s not his Leila’s love then it’s his Dorothy’s love or Gwen’s. He asks Shackleforth again if he wouldn’t be interested in the “glove cleaner” as he calls it. He also calls it the “Eradicator”, among many other names. Shackleforth looks confused and says he doesn’t want any glove cleaner. I’m assuming that the ‘Eradicator’ or ‘glove cleaner’ is actually a love eradicator. When paired with glove, well, the phrase ‘love glove’ comes to mind and now I want to bleach my brain, a bit.

Daemon tries urging the Eradicator again but since Shackleforth is as thick as a brick he doesn’t really get what Daemon is saying so he tells Daemon that he’s not making any sense. Daemon retorts that sense is all he makes and that’s why he’s so lonely. He says the Eradicator is swift, sure and leaves no trace. Daemon says that perhaps Shackleforth can’t afford it, it is $1,000 a bottle but the love potion is only a buck. Ok, so a terrible potion that is basically a drug is only a buck, while the cure for an unwanted infatuation is $1,000. Makes sense. And Daemon wonders why people choose the love potion? Daemon says it’s over-priced at that.

Shackleforth has a bit of scruple to ask if the potion will hurt Leila. Daemon says the only one likely to get hurt is Shackleforth himself but Shackleforth probably won’t believe that. Probably not because I don’t buy it. I’d think the person being drugged out of their free will to love is the most hurt in that situation. The Professor tosses him the bottle and Shackleforth forks over his dollar. Daemon says it will give Shackleforth everything he thinks he wants. Daemon tells him to put it in anything to drink and it’s effects are instantaneous. Shackleforth says he doesn’t really believe it but he’s willing to try anything. Shackleforth says that if it works he’ll be “the happiest man in the world.” Daemon says the words with him, rolling his eyes as though he’s heard it all before. Which he probably has.

Shackleforth apparently hurried over to Leila’s because now we’re at her apartment. The doorbell is ringing. Something tells me she was waiting for a different gentleman. She hurries to the door, primping her hair and wearing some sort of diaphanous, flowy negligee that looks a bit like a curtain. She opens the door but as soon as she sees it’s Shackleforth she tries to shut the door but he sticks his head in it. I think I would have shut the door anyway, it’s rude to force yourself through the door. He gives her an insanely large bouquet of flowers which she takes grudgingly. Then she asks him to leave again. He says he couldn’t have lasted the night without seeing her. He smooshes his face against the door and tells her that she doesn’t know what it’s like to love someone so passionately. Uh, how do you know? Just because she doesn’t love you then she must never have been in love? Besides Mr. Shackleforth, you’re not in love, you’re in lust and obsession which is a far cry from love.

He tells Leila that he’s brought champagne. Just enough for two glasses. So you brought her open champagne? Gross, it’s going to be flat. Either that or it’s a tiny little bottle.He begs her to give him five minutes and have one glass of champagne with him. She tells him that he’s being a stupid, silly clod. He tells her he loves her again and kisses the door. Get a freaking life! Whether it’s the champagne that tempts her or she feels sorry for him, she eventually relents and lets him in for one drink.

He follows her in very closely. She tells him to back off, she’s got to change out of her curtain and into a proper dress. He’s so thrilled that he says it’s like millennium. Okey dokey. Maybe he’s been listening to Prince’s ‘1999’ or something. Well, it is a tiny little bottle. That’s weird. I honestly didn’t know they had those back then. He opens it up and puts the GHB, I mean love potion, into Leila’s glass. She says let’s get this over  with. He watches her drink down her glass. Not sure if the champagne is that good or if she’s just trying to get rid of him. My guess is the latter since right after he drinks it she checks her watch and tells him that his time’s up. He doesn’t drink anything but just stares at her while she does. Oh, no. You’re not a stalkery creeper, not at all.

She thanks him for the champagne and flowers and tells him goodbye. He follows her and just keeps staring at her. Finally she asks what he’s staring at. He says it might be his last look so he wants to make sure it’s a good one. She says fine, you’ve had it, now leave. Then he asks for a kiss. She refuses. One thing you can’t really blame her for is that she doesn’t lead him on for gifts and stuff. She probably could if she wanted to. She tells him pretty bluntly that she does not love him, she doesn’t want him there and she doesn’t even particularly want him there or like him at the moment.

He walks away, all dejected looking. Again she takes pity on him and gives him a slight kiss on the lips. She says that’s the best she can do and it took all of her strength. He goes to leave but she tells him to wait, perhaps she’s being cruel and that she doesn’t mean to be. I’m guessing the potion is starting to work. He says he knows and starts to leave again. She tells him to wait again, and then asks if she can make the kiss a little nicer. Then she plants a lip-lock on him. She looks confused and asks what’s happening. She drops her shoulder wrap and Shackleforth says (ugh), “What a difference, baby! Come here!” and they lip-lock again. Gag.

It’s a while later, probably about a year. Shackleforth is reading a paper. As he lowers it we see that Leila is crouched at his feet, gazing at him adoringly. He tells her that she should sit on a chair. She says of course, she’s very sorry it bothers him. She just loves to kneel at her feet. He tells her to go kneel on a chair. she says ok and hops up. She asks which chair and he says any, it doesn’t matter. She offers to take his shoes off and get his slippers. He says no, they make his feet hot. And shoes don’t?  She tells him that if his feet are hot then she could soak her hands in ice water and caress them. I think I’m going to throw up. She offers him his pipe but he says it’s not broke in yet so she offers to break it in for him by smoking it all day for him.

There’s more but I think I’d honestly be sick detailing it all. Point is, she literally won’t leave him alone and he’s getting tired of it. He tries to read again and she starts tickling his chin with her fuzzy shoe. He hops up and says he’s got to go out. By himself. She wants to know if he wants her to go with but he says no, no, no. He says he might be late and gives her his jacket to cuddle with.

In an unsurprising turn of events, he’s headed back to Professor Daemon’s house. He rings and waits impatiently for the doors to open. Daemon says he rather thought that he’d be seeing Shackleforth again. Shackleforth tries to act casual and says he thought Daemon would like to know how everything turned out. And boy does that potion work! Shackleforth wants to know how Daemon’s been and what he thinks about their situation in China. Daemon looks like he could care less either way. Daemon pulls out the ‘glove cleaner’ again and repeats his sales pitch from before: “No taste, no smell, no way to detect it’s presence and it’s sure to work”. That is what Shackleforth came for, correct?

Shackleforth says gosh no! He just stopped by to tell Daemon how hunky-dory everything is. Daemon rubs it in that he was right about her loving Shackleforth all the way. Shackleforth finally breaks down and admits that it’s too much love. Isn’t there any way to tone it down or transfer it to something else a bit? Daemon says nope, you wanted her, she’s yours. Daemon tells him that the glove cleaner is the only way. Shackleforth says he can’t use that. Shackleforth says that Daemon doesn’t know what it’s like and he says of course he does. Why does he think he created the glove cleaner in the first place? Shackleforth tries to haggle the price down a bit, saying that $1,000 is his entire savings. Shackleforth breaks down and grabs the bottle from Daemon. Then he pulls a check, already made out from his pocket.

Daemon warns him about one thing. That when Shackleforth uses it, he must use it immediately and he must use it all. Shackleforth asks if it will spoil and Daemon says no. But if Shackleforth hesitates then he won’t use it at all. Daemon watches him leave. He comments to himself that it’s always the same way. First the stimulant, then the chaser.

Shackleforth comes home and she is literally cuddling with his coat and petting it. She, of course, is overjoyed when he walks in the door. He’s brought her another ridiculously large bouquet of flowers and tells her they ought to celebrate. Ok, they’ve been married for six months. She’s delighted, (of course) and says it’s just like the first time only this time he doesn’t have to beg to stay. he goes to get glasses. What a dick. He gives her the potion, then acts like she’s smothering him. How do you think she felt the nine billion times you called and wouldn’t leave her alone? She prattles on a bit about how much she loves him and he dumps the love glove cleaner in her glass eagerly. He’s perched on the back of the couch but she pulls him down to sit next to her and calls him her “Lover Marshmallow”.

She says she has news for her bunny rabbit and holds up a baby bootie. he freaks out and drops the glasses, along with the Eradicator. She says that’s all right, they don’t need champagne. He starts muttering to himself that he never could have gone through with it, anyways. She says it’s only the beginning and they’ll be like this for the rest of their lives. He looks terrified. Then he passes out.

SERLING:
Mr. Roger Shackleforth, who has discovered at this late date that love can be as sticky as a vat of molasses, as unpalatable as a hunk of spoiled yeast, and as all-consuming as a six-alarm fire in a bamboo and canvas tent. Case history of a lover boy who should never have imagined the Twilight Zone.


Love potions and wishes always creep me out. And it’s weird to me that in some stuff they’re used so casually. I can think of examples from Harry Potter to Supernatural.


Join us again next week for another episode of the Twilight Zone: Passage for Trumpet. And I’ll warn you right now, it might be a bit snark heavy.

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