Twilight Zone Tuesday – A Penny for Your Thoughts

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Hector B. Poole – Dick York
Helen Turner – Jane Dayton
E.M. Bagby – Dan Tobin
L.J. Smithers – Cyril Delevanti
Sykes – Hayden Rorke
Jim – James Nolan

Our ‘Everyday Joe (or Hector) of this episode enters a busy city scene amidst the cries of “Papers! Get Your Papers Here!” cries. He buys a paper a flips his coin into the boy’s cigar-box. The newspaper kid thinks it’s awesome but Hector just looks a tad, “Whatever”. As he walks away from the stand someone bumps into Hector. The guy smiles politely but Hector hears, “You miserable, dirty, lowdown”…Hector shakes it off as he walks away. A lady walks near him fixing the relationships in Hollywood hoping for Liz to marry Rock. Presumably Rock Hudson. Another guy rams into Hector. He shakes his head at Hector but his interior monologue says, “Oh, gosh, terribly sorry…if he hits me I’ll die!” Wow. Are you used to getting jacked when you accidentally run into someone? Although I think it’s more to show the difference between thoughts and looks. The first guy looked sorry but was a dick internally. The second guy looked displeased and angry but his interior thoughts were scared.

Not looking, Hector steps out into the street. This seems to be a real problem or Twilight Zone characters. I’m not sure if he actually got hit or i he just fell over. The driver rushes out to help him and says they should get Hector to a hospital but Hector says no, no. He’s good. No broken bones or even any scrapes and scratches. The driver apologizes profusely, even though Hector stepped out in front of him. Inside though, the guy is calling Hector a clumsy fool. Hector wants to know what he said. The guy looks confused and asks Hector if he’s sure he’s alright. As Hector walks away the guy thinks to himself that Hector’s a “Lamebrain and that his asinine jaywalking took ten years off his life”.

Mr. Hector B. Poole, resident of the Twilight Zone. Flip a coin and keep flipping it, what are the odds? Half the time it will come up heads and half the time tails. But in one freakish chance in a million, it’ll land on its edge. Mr. Hector B. Poole, a bright human coin on his way to the bank.

Hector is ten minutes late for work. As he slides into his cubicle we get to see his boos on the phone with his mistress. It sounds like she’s pushing for him to get a divorce but he doesn’t want to because the headlines will say “Prominent banker divorces wife to marry chorus girl”. Headlines? Would the papers care? As the bank prez is about to cajole her into a weekend together instead of marriage Hector comes rushing in, eager to explain why he was late. Apparently he prides himself on his promptness and spotless record. He must because whenever I was late I tried to slide in and hope no one noticed. Mr. Bagby really doesn’t care, though. He’s more anxious to get back to his honey on the phone. Thinking to himself, Bagby says, “If you ruin my weekend I’ll string you up by your thumbs”. Hector asks about the weekend and Bagby starts wondering if Hector knows about Felicia. Hector starts catching on and leaves the office.

He walks around the bank a bit, listening in on people’s thoughts. The bank guard is thinking about baseball. He asks a patron if everything’s ok and the guy smiles and says “Yes, thank you” but inside is wondering if Hector is the “grinning ape that sent him the overdrawn notice”. Hector says no, he works in a different area. I think he’s testing out whether the thought reading is real or not. He goes to listen in on a well-dressed woman fondling a bunch of hundreds. But it’s strangely silent…

He goes to his desk and the lady behind him has some nice thoughts about him. He hears his name but doesn’t immediately look, thinking it’s in his head. Finally he looks up at the speaker. The speaker is introducing a Mr. Sykes of Ajax Cement. I’m curious why Ajax was such a generic name then? Mr. Sykes’ loan has been approved and Hector is to make sure the i’s are dotted, the t’s are crossed and the check is made out. The loan is for $200,000. Quite the sum. Hector asks Mr. Sykes if he’s expanding and Mr. Sykes agrees. Apparently the loan is to be repaid within 90 days. Holy crap. That’s a lot of money to repay in three months. He doesn’t plan on that, though. In his head he’s planning on doubling it at the track enough to keep Ajax out of bankruptcy and repay the loan. Yeeah, good luck with that plan. I’m guessing I know how Ajax got into bankruptcy in the first place. Hector asks what he means by Nimble Runner at 5:1. Mr. Sykes takes offense and Mr. Bagby rushes over to see what the yelling’s about. Hector says that Sykes just told him he’s going to bet the loan. Mr. Sykes warmly refutes this. Bagby ushers Sykes into his office to calm him down and tells Hector that he’ll speak to him later.

He starts hearing a female voice sympathize with him in how he does all of the work but never gets any credit. At first he doesn’t see anyone and starts to eye a bust (statue) suspiciously. Then the lady from earlier, Helen, pops up from where she was watering something. He follows her to the water jug and thanks her for the kind thoughts. As they’re talking, Jim from earlier wanders over and teases Hector about romancing the staff. Then he says, who can blame him? Helen is the prettiest girl in Accounts. In his head though, he says that doesn’t count for much since he hasn’t seen such a collection of beasts since the circus. After more chit-chat with Hector Slimeball Jim thinks to himself that “Helen is probably a ‘tiger’ under the right circumstances”. Ick. Hector is properly grossed out as well and pours his cup of water over Jim’s head. Jim gets riled but gets called away. Helen smiles to herself and says good for you, he certainly had that coming.

After all this Hector goes back to his desk but is tuning into the guy next to him. He appears to be planning on robbing the bank when he leaves this afternoon and jetting to Bermuda. Almost everyone is leaving and as they go out the guard thinks to himself “One more day nearly done and no notches on the gun”. He sounds happy about it, not damn, I didn’t get to use it. Hector asks if he would really use it and the guard says yes, what does hector think he keeps it on his belt for? To hold up his pants? Ok, yes, a belt is used to hold up pants but a holster on a belt with a gun tends to drag them down. I’m only explaining because I was actually asked what that meant. Hector is obviously thinking about the geriatric bank robber.

Hector hurries over to Helen and says he must speak with her. She’s sitting at her desk but urgent speaking requires…standing…I guess. She thinks to herself that she wishes there was somewhere they could talk in private an that Mr. Jones’ office is empty since his transfer. Hector says that’s a great idea! So they haul off to said office. She looks a little be-fluttered. I think she’s hoping for him to ask her out. He lays it out for her, the mind reading and all. He tells her to think something. so she thinks, “This is a strange approach. Why did he wait so long?” He responds that it just happened that morning. He clutches her shoulders to make her believe him (and in the process seems to realize they are very nice shoulders). What is it with desperation and shoulder-clutching? He tells her that someone’s planning on robbing the bank. She says if he knows that then he should do something about it. He’s afraid he might be wrong. He also has that “I just noticed you’re hot” voice. She says he has a responsibility to the bank’s customers. It looks like he might be leaning in for a smooch but jets off to tell Bagby about the incipient robbery. Incidentally, I’m not sure why they bothered to go in the office. As they enter and when he leaves you can see the door doesn’t touch the ground and only comes partway up.

Bagby isn’t happy with Hector and says they lost the Ajax account because of him. He wants to know why Hector has been weird today and wants to know if something’s bothering him. Hector is a bit hesitant to tell Bagby about the robbery. Finally he does tell Bagby that Smithers is planning on robbing the bank. Bagby is a bit hesitant on believing him because Smithers has worked there for eons. Probably literally. Bagby is at first resistant but then, watching Smithers, it comes to mind that the person that usually runs off with the company funds is an old, trusted employee. Bagby tells Hector that he’s a good man and since Bagby seems like an ok boss (a rarity in the Twilight Zone) then something’s going to go wrong with this praise. He does seem to be a douche of a husband though. And, I will point out that thinking a random thought is much different than acting on it. Hector said he wouldn’t have believed it to be possible if he hadn’t ‘heard’ it himself. As they watch Smithers, Hector tells Bagby what Smithers is planning. As they watch we get a riveting account of what Smithers is doing, step-by-step.

After Smithers goes into the vault, Bagby rushes over to inform the guard. As Smithers comes out of the vault the guard grabs his briefcase away from him. Careful! Smithers is old! Hell, he’s practically a mummy, he might break! Smithers wants to know what’s going on. As Bagby is gloating they empty the bag. Even though he hasn’t stolen anything, Smithers does keep some weird stuff in his briefcase. Travel folders, a sandwich and socks. Let’s just hope the socks are clean. Bagby asks where the money is. Smithers, understandably, wonders what in the heck is going on. Bagby looks like a fool and goes after Hector.

Bagby lays into Hector for making him look like a fool. Bagby apologizes handsomely to Smithers and walks over to Hector to say “Poole…” and Hector finishes for him. He’s fired. Ok, so it’s a bit embarrassing but I don’t think it’s firing worthy unless Smithers makes a big deal out of it. Which he doesn’t seem to be. Feeling badly for maligning him, Hector also apologizes profusely to Smithers. After a quick look around Smithers does confess that he does think it and plan it, not always Bermuda. Sometimes he chooses another spot to flee to. But it’s just a dream of his. He wants to know how Hector knew, though. He says he dreams of it but he’ll never go through with it.

As Hector goes over to clean out his desk, Helen tries to comfort him by saying that it doesn’t matter, a man with his abilities…she trails off into thinking “Believing he can read minds, what a strange delusion. But with proper medical care it will go away.” This frustrates Hector and he tells her that it’s not a delusion! She looks startled and he says, “See! I can read your thoughts!” He doesn’t like it. It’s screwed up that day for him and seems…a little dirty, like seeing people with their clothes off. He says that people do things without thinking and also think things they have no intention of doing. He says he’s learned one thing: People are not like you think they are at all.

In the middle of this speech Bagby comes bursting in, glad to have caught Hector before he left. Helen wwalks a few steps away to give them a bit of privacy. Bagby says that Mr. Sykes was just arrested for “gambling with the company funds, I know” finishes Hector finishes for Bagby. Bagby is grateful that the loan hadn’t gone through and offers Hector his old job back. Helen thinks at Hector: “If he really can hear her then he’s wasted in that job. Everyone knows that he should be in charge of the Accounts section”. And he should be moved into Mr. Jones’ old office. Bagby starts to put up some resistance but looks at his watch and thinks of his honey waiting for him. He tries to contain a rather creepy smile as he thinks what a wonderful weekend it’s going to be. Ugh. Helen is giving some mental moral support during this conversation. Hector says they should go into Bagby’s office to talk ‘business’.

Bagby wants to know what kind of business. Hector says the business Hector says the business of Felicia and his wife. Hector says he knows all about it. This catches Bagby’s attention. He immediately gives in and gives Hector a promotion and begs Hector not to say anything. Seeing Smithers’ desk however, Hector makes one more demand. At the bank’s expense he wants to buy Smithers a round trip to Bermuda. Bagby reluctantly agrees. I think after everything was carried through I would still drop an anonymous tip to the wife. It’d only be fair.

Hector hurries to meet Helen and like a gentleman helps her into her sweater. She ‘forgets’ he can read minds and she says she’d go anywhere with him but wishes he’d call her Helen. H does and she calls him Hector. I smell romance in the air! He asks if he can walk her home and she thinks to him “What do you think she’s been waiting for?”

As they’re walking home Hector gets a paper and when he tosses his quarter in it knocks the first quarter down. The paper-teen starts to complain, saying that the quarter was on its side all day. Then he realizes that it’s the same guy and says what a coincidence! The mind-reading seems to be gone. Hector is thrilled and he and Helen walk off happily.

One time in a million a coin will land on its edge. But all it takes to knock it over is a vagrant breeze, a vibration or a slight blow. Hector B. Poole, a human coin on edge for a brief time in the Twilight Zone.

I like this one. One of the few played more for comedy with the slight moral message that people can think differently than what they say. Something I daresay everyone has figured out from time to time.

Thank you for joining us and come back next week for: Twenty Two (another great episode)

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