A musical by Maurice Mattei

Act One

The theater is immersed in darkness. The curtain has not yet opened. Slow, hypnotic elevator music plays softly over the P.A. After several minutes, a voice-over narration begins. The narrator sounds vaguely like an old-school Top 40s DJ, somewhat reminiscent of Casey Kasem or Arturo Pennywhistle.

Oceanside, across a twisted metal field. It is the year 2007. War between the cultures of East and West has been raging for six years. What once seemed impenetrable walls have begun to crumble under the constant assault of an enemy whose unmuddled vision uses swift, decisive actions to combat the weak-kneed sensibilities of their Western adversaries. Although there are no advancing front lines, a contagion infects the populace in the capitals of the West. It is like the pull of a noose being tightened incrementally around their soft, pasty necks. The ephemeral pleasures of the daily jog, the picnics and hayrides, mid-winter sleigh rides, the trips to Belle Isle, the Vassar Alumni horseback races and the narcotics squad home invasion classes have all been replaced with a virulent desire to escape day-to-day reality. Those in the West not engaged in warfare are going through the motions of living as they had once lived. Yet, with each attempt to recapture the past comes the realization that those times are now gone forever. The many give pause and listen to what the few have long been saying.

As the music continues to play, then slowly fades, the curtain opens on a dilapidated beach house (interior: second-hand furniture, travel poster of Maui on the wall, photos of muscle men taped to the refrigerator door) Redondo Beach, California. Justin - world class surfer, ex-lifeguard, ex-cabana boy - is staying with his girlfriend, Wendy. He sits in a chair in the kitchen listening to the news of the world on the radio. Wendy is in the bedroom talking on the phone.The set is bathed in a pale blue light and there is a dim white light coming into the room from a picture window. The beach, which is at the front of the stage (the apartment sits in back of the beach and is constructed so that the audience sees both a partial view of the inside and the outside of the structure), appears to be deserted. As the sound of the radio fades, introductory music begins. Justin gets up, walks to the window and sings:

"Justin's Blues"
(Slow tempo)
  I didn't do what I was asked to do
I let my guard down and the wolves slipped through.
I was leanin' on the whippin' post,
Surfin' the rip tide on the Western Coast.
I wasn't where I said I'd be
When the graveyard met the bow.
I wish I'd done things differently
But I can't think about that now.

I don't like this place anymore.
Something's changed, that's for sure.
Look at me, what I'm wearin', baby.
Dressed in black and green, I think maybe
I should go where the palm trees sway,
Ridin' whitecaps, chasin' foam.
About a million miles away
from my Chula Vista home.

And over at Redondo Beach
All the golden boys and girls
Are walkin' up and down the streets,
Far from the breakin' curls.

The clubs are empty, baby, it's no fun.
I'd like to leave but there's nowhere to run.
The talk is filled with GI thrills and spills,
Crossfire searches, rebels in the hills.
My day's comin', what can I do?
Except to wait my turn in line.
Pretty soon they'll be comin' 'round for you,
It's just a matter of time.

(A brief musical interlude. Justin paces the room and addresses Wendy who is still talking on the phone:)

 Ricky Sunset and his girlfriend, Dee,
I heard they moved down to Peru.
Lookin' back, that's where you and me
Shoulda gone if we'd of thought it through.

(She does not acknowledge him. He turns, facing the audience and continues:)

  The waves are poundin' outside my front door.
I'm lookin' out the window at the shore.
A bum is stumblin', walkin' through the mist,
Starin' at the sky, shakin' his fist
At vapor trails as the jets go past -
Just some flyboys headin' home.
I call my baby, "Wendy, come here fast."
But she's talkin' on the phone.

Music continues as the set fades slowly to black. The curtain is drawn. When the music ends a single white spotlight shines in the center of the stage.

Introductory music starts. Justin's beach bum appears, stage left, in front of the curtain. He is wearing tattered green pants (style circa 1977, Euro-disco flares), a red T-shirt and a dirty gray overcoat (old dry-cleaning tag on the sleeve). He stops and stands in the spotlight, looking up, muttering. He faces the audience and begins:

"Love's Been Good To Me"
(Medium/upbeat tempo)
  I walk with my head held high.
Come, my darling, you will see.
And this is the reason why,
Because love's been good to me.
Though I've had my share of falls
And my share of misery,
In the end, all in all,
I think love's been good to me.

(He moves slowly across the front of the stage as the song continues.)

  If you want to stay, well, it's all right.
I've been out all day but I'll be back tonight.

My lover comes and goes,
She steals my heart away.
She's gone but heaven knows,
Her love is here to stay.

Seems somehow, she's been away too long.
Tell me now, do you know where my good friend's gone?

And if you call on me,
Keep those bells a-ringin'.
It ain't a bird you see,
It's just my baby in the front room singin'.

(A brief musical interlude)

  But if my songbird flies
Into another's tree
My girlfriend won't deny
The love she gave to me.

Music continues as the spotlight fades. When the music ends it is replaced by the sound of waves breaking on the beach and seagulls screeching.

A gradual fade of ambient noise, lights slowly coming up as the curtain opens. Introductory music begins. Interior of a nightclub, dimly lit in blues and reds, circa 1975 American midwest. Frozen female dancers in translucent shrink wrap dresses and pleather waistcoats are placed randomly throughout the room. Male clients peruse the talent, weaving their way in between the dancers. The dancers are reminiscent of girls in a burlesque show. One of the women moves away from the nightclub, stage right, joining a seated male figure in the shadows. He is dressed in a blue business suit from the Van Cliburn Collection. She is young, he is middle-aged. As the couple is spotlighted with a dim green stagelight, the woman addresses the man who is seated:

"Newport, By The Bay"
(Slow tempo)
  If you're restless or you're tired
There's something that I found.
I can offer you a chance
To find a new romance
And turn your world around.
If you want to follow me,
It's not too far away.
And I think that once you see
You might want to stay
In Newport, by the bay.

(The seated man rises and follows the woman into the nightclub. She continues:)

  Madam sets the atmosphere,
Dims the lights and walks the floor.
If your heart is on your sleeve,
They may ask you to leave
Your troubles at the door.
It's not much of a request
For what you had to pay.
After all, you're just a guest
Inside the cabaret,
In Newport, by the bay.

The ladies want to talk about their working week
And these fine gentlemen listen when they speak.
Perhaps before the night is over they'll be dancing cheek to cheek ...

(A brief musical interlude. The two figures return, stage right, the one sitting, the other standing as before. The woman continues:)

  ... In a place not far from here
Where there's always one or two
Who await with open arms,
Seduce with tender charms
For a pittance which is due
On debts that are incurred
While held in passion's sway.
Tell me, have you ever heard
And do you know the way
To Newport, by the bay?

As the music continues the scene fades to black. First the nightclub, then the two figures at stage right. Music ends.

New musical intro begins. A white spotlight shines on a catwalk above the stage. The beach bum reappears and begins to sing while in the background, on a scrim that unfurls from above the catwalk down to stage level, a montage of video images is playing. The images are a typical mish-mash of commercials, car accidents, game shows, talk shows, footage of the Rose Parade, LA gang shootings, rave parties, MTV Spring Break sequences, Colin Powell playing golf in Johannesburg, backyard wrestling contests, beauty shows, CNN news reports, the Menendez Brothers trial footage, Susan Smith interview, Kennedy being greeted by reception committee at Love Field, Heidi Fleiss/Howard Stern press conference, etc. The beach bum sings:

"Western Skies"
(Medium/upbeat tempo)
  Everything is blood soaked under western skies,
Everyone I look at stares back with empty eyes,
My pockets are full of money, I don't even know why,
All day long I'm watchin' cars go by.
Climbin' the steps to get up to the roof,
Those young men must think that they're bulletproof,
Don't tell me, I don't want to know the truth,
All I want to hear are lies ...
You look good under western skies.

Thought I was livin' right but I was wrong,
I think I've been around here way too long.
Some people stay a while and then they're gone,
Me, I don't go nowhere, I just hang on
Until there's nothin' left for me to do
Except to trail behind someone like you.
Everything's different now but nothin's new
And I can't say that I'm surprised ...
I'm livin' under western skies.

(A brief musical interlude)

  It took me too long to make up my mind,
It's no good thinkin' I got left behind,
It's my own fault so please don't waste my time,
I've got a lot to do, can't you see that I'm
On my way out the door, I got a date
With Miss Dupree over on 8th and State,
I'm in a hurry now, I can't be late
But I'll be back before sunrise ...
Somewhere under western skies.

The spotlight is turned off but the music continues, images becoming more grotesque and incongruous. When the music ends, the screen goes blank.

As the scrim slowly rises and the new introductory music begins, we see that the stage has been transformed into a three-ring circus motif. In each ring there is a separate, though related, setting within which a number of figures are standing and sitting. Each grouping is backlit so that the settings and figures appear as silhouettes. A green spotlight is turned on the first grouping. It is comprised of several women in banana/gold and foil wrap silver garb, tattered yet fashionable miniskirts and zebra skin, fake fur tops. They are playing musical instruments - guitar, drums, bass, trumpet, farfisa, zither, Asian bullhorn and cowbells in a setting that appears to be a ill-kept, turn of the century, warehouse area. In front of them stands a man dressed as a circus ringmaster. As the women engage in a mock band rehearsal, he begins to sing:

"15 Minutes From Nowhere"
(Slow tempo)
  Suzy lost her looks somewhere on the road
Between Cleveland and Kokomo.
She broke a string trying to tune her guitar
On the way to another show.
She thought she had a backup but she hadn't packed it
In her cobra skin makeup case,
The one she found in Dayton at a place called
Dewana's Second-Hand Face Ta Face.
Cindy says,

(Sung by Cindy character:)
  "What ya gonna do? You can't play 'Don't Love Me'
If your E-string is gone."

(Sung by Ringmaster:)
  "I'll do my best"
says Suzy,

(Sung by Suzy:)
  "Anyway, you know,
I never even liked that song.

Dressed in rags and hand-me-downs,
Broken bootstraps in my hair.
Can it be I see the lights of town
15 minutes from nowhere?"

(Spotlight moves from first to second ring - stage left to right - revealing a scene in a decrepit makeshift bedroom - mattress on the floor, wooden box used as a night stand, dresser in an advanced state of disrepair - where a couple is lying in bed. The woman is one of the musicians from the first ring, her boyfriend is half awake as she looks at a music magazine. The ringmaster continues:)

  Cindy sleeps in an empty warehouse
In front of Juice Boy's Wishing Well.
Her old man delivers papers and cleans the floors
At the Fulton Hotel.
Sometimes he's late 'cause he can't find a ride,
Sometimes he doesn't show up at all.
The next day he's got to work twice as hard
'Cause they leave the trash piled up in the hall.
"I'm gonna take you away from all this,"
Cindy says as she's readin' the trades,

(Sung by Cindy:)
  "If we can hook up with Jimmy in Portland
We're gonna have it made in the shade."

(Sung by Ringmaster:)
  Like a dead weight with a wighat on
Tumblin' down a flight of broken stairs,
I thought I saw a light but I was wrong,
I'm 15 minutes from nowhere.

(While music drones tunelessly in the background and the scene fades to black and purple bluish colors, the set is rearranged, bringing the third ring center stage. When the lights come up, they reveal a set which includes a suburban setting in the background, - omni-plex movie theaters, parking lots, split-level ranch homes, billboards - to the left and a posh hotel room - oriental rugs, wet bar, wide-screen TV, circular bed, inflatable life-size figures of Morris Day and Anais Nin - to the right. The two sets are separated by a partition with a door. A man is standing in the suburban setting. He is dressed like a young Helmet Von Furstenberg and he is doing an interpretive modern dance. This musical interlude is approximately 10 to 20 minutes in length after which the ringmaster begins again:)

  Strange sparrows huddled on the rooftops,
Flying in with the new Brighton Sound.
Duplex movies playin' up the street
Where Jimmy is walkin' around.
"One hand washes the other," he says,

(Jimmy, the dancing Furstenberg, sings:)
  "There's no place on the turnpike for you.
Give me a minute, let me check my watch,
I got a couple of things left to do."

(Sung by Ringmaster:)
  He's waitin' on his girlfriend,
Ridin' down a shady grove in Aliston Heights.
They've got a room lined up at the Regency,

(He moves to adjoining set.)
  They're gonna be stayin' the night.
With Blood Simple and the Three Ton Chains ...

(Figures enter from stage right into the hotel room set. Both male and female. Some are dressed similarly to our aspiring young musicians from scene one, others are in business casual garb and others are in costumes of famous comic book super heroes - Wolverine, the Green Lantern, Sue "the Invisible Girl" Storm, the Human Torch, Doctor Strange, Thor, Flash, Medusa, Wonder Woman, Isis, Aquaman, etc. Jimmy's girlfriend also arrives wearing plastic hot pants, Riot Teens halter top and a gas mask. As Jimmy walks into the room, the crowd of characters enact a party, celebrating Spiderpuppy's birthday and his return engagement at Portland's Royalton Arms Theater.)
  ... Spiderpuppy and His Gentlemen
And word is the Six-Pence From Sunday
Are comin' into town with them.
Last time they played the Royalton Arms
Jackie Finch blew a hole in the stage.
I heard talk that in West Hollywood
Puppy's Spiderwalk is all the rage.

(The party activities become more heated. Latex rubberized body suits are dispensed to party-goers, a huge fire hose is dragged in from stage right soaking the participants while Jimmy's girlfriend cuts Puppy's birthday cake, the hammer-wielding Thor demolishes end tables and Ecuadorian terra-cotta lamps, Doctor Strange materializes unearthly likenesses of Jupiter Anemoni, Charles Swinburne, and Moms Mabley, the Human Torch vaporizes guitars and cowbells that litter the hotel room, etc.)
  "Leave a little for me," Jimmy says,
As Miss Clara passes out Puppy's cake.

(Sung by Jimmy:)
  "I think I got room for one more piece,
I hope I didn't get here too late.

(Sung by Ringmaster:)
  Unloadin' in the alleyway,
Bummin' quarters on Washington Square,
I been thinkin' I might have to stay
15 minutes from nowhere.

Huge tufts of smoke engulf entire stage area where the musicians, super heroes and music business insiders have demolished entire set. A fight breaks out between Aquaman and Doctor Strange's Swinburne manifestation, others join in on the brawl. The curtain comes down as wafts of smoke and debris cascade into the audience.

End of Act One

Act Two

The theater is immersed in darkness. The curtain has not yet opened. Soft, hypnotic French Pop Music plays over the P.A. The scent of sweet lilacs is pumped into the hall via the air vents. Rose petals thrown by soddened stagedoor acolytes gracefully descend from the rafters onto the audience. After several minutes, a voice-over narration begins. The narrator sounds somewhat like a pre-pubescent Clement Greenburg or an inebriated Paul Lynde from the old "Hollywood Squares."

Clothe me, Ariel. Clothe me in the pulse of our wildest desires. My cheeks are wet and heavy from jostling the boys as play ended and I was sent packing. The Swiss military academy, the accidental nude choir rehearsals and you, my manchild of Mars, in your silkened schoolgirl dresses - always so like love.
          Would that those days should return
                               and yet,
          perhaps in the dance we can remember,
                  perhaps in the dance we can forget...........

French Pop Music ends abruptly and - as if in the skip or scratch of a record - is immediately followed by an extended segment of upbeat introductory music. With the beginning of the intro. music, a Dionysus-like figure appears stage left, in front of the curtain. He is a faux hermaphrodite who is wearing only a small codpiece made of grape leaves and olive tree branches. His skin is chalk white and his hair is bluish black. He dances wildly, provocatively to the music. If one could imagine a taller, thinner, more sexually ambiguous Rex Reed, one would be able to visualize this strange, wayward son of Babylon. Lit by a white spotlight, he moves with great acceleration in front of the curtain from stage left to stage right and then back again several times. From the heavens, rose petals continue to cascade onto the audience. After approximately 10 minutes of this unparalleled display of iniquity, he begins to sing:

"Strange New Dance"
(Upbeat tempo)
  Well, there's a strange new dance
That I only do for strangers.
You better call the ambulance
'Cause I don't mind the dangers.
You know, it makes me want to laugh
When I hear people talkin'
'Cause when a black cat cross my path
I just keep on walkin'.

I wanna go somewhere I've never been,
Hey, Miss Lady, let this stranger in.
I'll pay in advance,
Let's do a strange new dance.

(He jumps from the stage into one of the aisles of the theater, gyrating, palpitating his limbs and heaving his prosthetic, buoyant breasts. The spotlight follows his every move.)

  If I get hit by lightning
Or cut in two with a butcher knife,
It might be a little frightening
But, you know, I'll still feel all right.
They hung me down at the old town square
But I kept on kickin'.
When I got loose I started dancin' there,
I guess I just wasn't thinkin'.

I wanna see something I've never seen.
Hey, Miss Lady, do you know what I mean?
Gimme another chance,
Let's do a strange new dance.

(Musical interlude during which the hermaphrodite does intermittent lap dances with both male and female members of the audience. He dances with others in the aisles and persuades still more to join in on the frenzied merriment. He returns to the stage for the final verse.)

  Come watch me pirouette
Between the bombs and the bullet trails.
Please excuse my bloody epaulettes,
I'll be here waitin' while you do your nails.
Underneath a tidal wave,
Under a landslide, watch me disappear.
You might think that I am brave
But, really, I'm just tired of standin' here.

I wanna do something I've never done,
Hey, Miss Lady, no, I'm not gonna run,
Not while I'm in a trance ...

(Music builds to a crescendo.)
  Let's do a strange new dance.

While music continues, the hermaphrodite dances himself into a blind frenzy. Rose petals fall madly, lights swirl and confetti is shot into the audience from tubular gun barrels that rise out of the floor vents in front of the stage.

Music ends as all activities cease. The dancer is standing stage right with his right arm extended as the curtain opens to reveal a new setting. Musical introduction for the next number begins. The set is constructed of three separate scenes, each receding slightly away from the front of the stage and each one slightly overlapping the other. The first scene is that of a living room in a suburban home circa 1984 - sofa, coffee table, La-Z-Boy, etc. The second is a carnival midway from the 1950's - booths, cotton candy stand, bearded lady exhibit etc. The third is the interior of a present day swinger's club - hot tub, leopard skin chaise lounge, mirrored walls, whips chains, martinets, handcuffs, other varied bondage equipment. The lights dim as only a single red spotlight shines on the first scene. A couple is sitting in there living room. They are in their mid-30's. The woman is lying on the floor, she is naked except for a yellow floppy hat. She is holding a harpoon. The man is sitting on the sofa. He is wearing only a tiara. As the hermaphrodite exits stage right and reappears on the catwalk above the stage, the man in scene one faces the audience and begins to sing:

"Westwood Sex Club"
(Slow tempo)
  It was a beautiful evening,
The stars were shining
Through the blinds in my living room.
I was staying with Missy,
She was talking to me
And polishing her harpoon.
When all at once Missy dear looked up
And she asked me,

(Sung by the Missy character:)
  "Whatever became
Of Mr. Chan with the wandering hands
In his filthy tea shop
On the corner of 5th and Main?"

(Sung by the man:)
  I said, It's there
But they changed the name.

It's called the Westwood Sex Club now.

(He helps the woman stand up and puts his arm around her and continues:)
  It's called the Westwood Sex Club now.
(They both sing:)
  It's called the Westwood Sex Club now.

(As the music plays, the woman once again lies on the floor and immediately falls asleep while the lighting changes to a softer red. The man stands over her and begins the second verse:)
I remember that morning,
The leaves were falling
From a hole in the roof above.

(The hermaphrodite throws Honeysuckle leaves from the catwalk onto the couple below.)
  Missy lay at my feet
Talkin' in her sleep
And I was trying to listen because
I thought I heard her saying something about
How her daddy, a long time ago ...

(A white spotlight now hits the second scene. In the carnival set, a middle-aged man is walking along the midway with a little girl. He is holding her hand as she holds a yellow balloon with her other hand. They are dressed in a 50's sit-com style; Father in a jacket and tie, daughter in a ruffled dress and pig-tails. The man in the first scene narrates the activities occurring in the second:)
  ... Had taken her down
To a place in town
Where the lights were bright
Like the ones in a carnival show.
when she woke up,
She said she wanted to go ...

(The woman awakes, stands up and is once again held by the man. While standing between scene one and scene two, they both, as well as the couple from scene two, proceed to sing the second chorus:)

  To the Westwood Sex Club now.
To the Westwood Sex Club now.
To the Westwood Sex Club now.

(During the musical interlude, the two couples walk slowly towards the third scene which, as the two preceding scenes fade in the darkness, is lit with a dim blue spotlight. Within this setting of the swingers club, one sees twenty or so people engaged in tactfully obscured activities. Certain figures can be seen hanging from invisible wires, some are eating heartily at a trough, others are in rather intimate situations that cannot be tastefully described in these pages. All the figures are in various stages of undress. There are several women and men who are serving as greeters, similar to the poor geezers and crones one sees in the entryways at Wal-Marts throughout America. The man from scene one begins the third verse as the playfulness ensues in the background:)

  I remember that Tuesday,
After Missy got ready
We headed out to the Sex Club scene.
When we walked inside
We saw a couple of housewives
Sellin', razors and shaving cream.

(The characters thus described are highlighted by an additional blue spotlight.)
  Mrs. Smith was there and so was Mrs. Ray,
They were such a pretty pair-

(The spotlight moves to this second grouping.)
  Dressed like doves,
Wearing rubber gloves,
Dancing a jig
And throwing Mr. Smith in the air.

(This is somewhat similar to Francisco Goya's painting, "The Puppet.")
  If you go
(Now looking directly at the audience)
  They may still be there.

(As the hermaphrodite on the catwalk throws dahlias and roses onto the stage below and as the Sex Club clients continue their playfulness, the entire group from scenes one and two sing:)

  They're at the Westwood Sex Club now.
They're at the Westwood Sex Club now.
They're at the Westwood Sex Club now.

With the music slowly fading, a woman from within the Sex Club moves towards the front of the stage. The lights fade on the background scene and a single yellow stage light is focused on the approaching woman. She is wearing only a white apron with red trim and red pumps. She has dark shoulder-length hair which is in a 60's style perm. The curtain is closed behind her as she reaches the front of the stage. A new musical introduction begins. From beneath the stage, on a riser that emerges to the woman's left, appears an ironing board and iron. She moves to the ironing board and begins to iron a shirt as she starts to sing:

"The Daily Riot"
(Medium tempo)
  The common standard is too hard to keep.
I fell below that line some time ago.
I do my best work when I'm half asleep,
At least my darlin' tells me so.
I thread the needle as he walks the floor,
Stares at the ceiling from behind the door,
Waiting for ...

(Two men dressed in beige corduroy pants, light blue shirts, buttoned cardigan sweaters and smoking pipes, appear at either end of the stage and assist the woman in the singing of the chorus:)

  The daily riot.
The daily riot.

(Sung by the woman alone:)
  Would it be true, should I admit
That I will leave if I can't quit

(Sung with the men:)
  The daily riot.

(She dances across the stage while singing:)

  My head is spinning from the altitude.
I've thrown it all away and it's a shame.
If you were in my place you'd love the view
But I can't say I feel the same.
A gang of two receives polite applause
For giving orders and amending laws,
Finding cause ...

(Again, with the male figures.)

  For the daily riot.
The daily riot.
A plot uncoils from where I sit,
The curtain rises bit by bit
On the daily riot.
The daily riot.

We counter to a counterfeit
Contract that does not permit
The daily riot.
The daily riot.

The men join the woman dancing. They continue, back and forth across the stage until the music ends. The lights go down to almost darkness. A small stage light shines on the ironing board (yes, the ironing board) as it is slowly lowered beneath the stage. Soft ambient music plays over the speakers. This goes on for an inappropriately lengthy amount of time. Suddenly, the single stage light goes out, plunging the theater into total darkness. The introduction to the next number begins as the curtain slowly opens. The scrim has once again been unfurled and in front of it, dancing drunkenly is Justin's beach bum. He is now wearing a tattered business suit and a trilby. On the screen are video images of Daniel Clemens working on his enormous painting,"Polly's Boyfriend." This is interspersed with clips of the Jonestown Massacre, Sun Yung Moon spiritual rallies, Raphael's Vatican frescoes, interiors of De Sade's La Coste chateau, C.S. Lewis being interviewed by Germaine Greer, The assault on David Koresh's Waco sect, Ted Kaczynski prison interview, Manson Family cookout, etc. The bum appears as a silhouette in front of the screen. He begins to sing:

"Let Me Know"
(Upbeat tempo)
  If your good ol' friends fill you full of lead
And drop you to the bottom of a river bed,
Howlin' at the moon while you're sinkin' down,
Gimme a call, maybe I'll come around.

Let me know.
Let me know.
Let me know.

If the man you love turns his back on you
And throws you in a dungeon, cuts you half in two.
Burns your house down, robs you blind,
Pass the word along if you find the time.

Let me know.
Let me know.
Let me know.

Well you may be hungry, you may be poor
You may be crawlin' from door to door.
Lookin' for a handout, a place to sleep,
Sellin' your wares on a downtown street.

Let me know.
Let me know.
Let me know.

(Green stage light shines on the beach bum.)

  Swallow the poison, Satan's on the loose,
Stick your head in a hangman's noose.
It doesn't matter darlin' where you run,
You're gonna have to pay for what you've done.

Listen for the bloodhounds, keep a low profile.
Move down the line if someone tells you, "Stay a while."
Locked inside the tombs across from Hudson Bay,
Tryin' to hitch a ride down the lost highway.

Let me know.
Let me know.
Let me know.

Pray for deliverance, pray for release,
The salvation you bought, well, it might be fleece.
Swing down chariot, swing down low -
It doesn't matter, darlin', where you go.

So if your good ol' friends fill you full of lead
And drop you to the bottom of a river bed,
Howlin' at the moon while you're sinkin' down,
Gimme a call, maybe I'll come around.

Let me know.
Let me know.
Let me know.

Music continues to play. The beach bum walks off, stage right. The scrim is drawn up while the images are still being projected. Behind the scrim, seen through the light of the video images that are falling upon it, is a broad and elaborate set. Encompassing the entire stage, it begins, stage left, with a decrepit skyline of a western capital. Along some of the rooftops, one can see vague billows of smoke. Helicopters circle neo-modern skyscrapers as on the older buildings, people huddle, playing baccarat and throwing Frisbees. Moving left to right, toward the center of the stage, is a strangely constructed bridge from the old-time American era. It spans from the foreground, across a river, to the city skyline in the background. Cars are backed up on the bridge - Oldsmobiles, Corvettes, le Cars, etc. Some of the vehicles are broken down - hoods up, engines smoking. Along with the cars, up ahead, are police cruisers with their lights flashing, a yellow school bus (kids inside reading comic books, shooting bee-bee guns and eating oranges laced with opiate powder) and a line of military vehicles - armored troop carriers, tanks, Humvees and Jeeps. As more of the set is exposed, the music from the prior number fades and the introductory music for the next number begins. Red spotlights hit the new set as the video images continue to be projected. At stage right, next to the bridge, is a continuation of the city skyline and, at this point, the river which the bridge traverses is somewhat visible. It is filled with barges, speed boats, sampans and fishing schooners. The skyline is much like that on the left side, but tapering off a bit - smaller buildings on the fringes as well as junk yards and dilapidated church steeples. In the car that is closest to the front of the stage, a man who is tired of waiting in the traffic jam gets out and climbs on the roof to see what is happening up ahead. He appears to be in his mid-twenties and is dressed like David Arquette (tight plaid pants and a red T-shirt that has the words "Cum Together" printed on it). Other people get out of their cars. A light rain begins to fall. People on the riverside intermittently heave bricks, beer cans and mud balls at the schooners and at the people getting out of their cars. The man on the roof of his car turns, faces the audience and sings:

"Where Worlds Collide"
(Medium tempo)
  I talk to strangers but I don't aim to please,
Sometimes they say things I don't understand.
Ain't nothin' movin' but the mornin' breeze,
At least that's how it looks from where I stand.

(He gets off the roof of the car and joins in a dance routine with the other people in the traffic jam.)
  I better look around before I go,
I can't forget my partner's walking cane.
He's out there waitin' on me and I know
I saw him wavin' from the passin' lane.

(The dancers freeze and look up to the sky. Above the stage on the catwalk that is now lit with a white spotlight, is a choir of Angels with the Godhead standing in the middle. The Angels are all fair-skinned castrati with long flowing blonde hair and golden wing prosthetics. They are wearing sheer iridescent body suits and cream-pink scarves. The Godhead has a Christ-like visage and the body of a bloodied lamb. The Angels open their arms and begin to sing:)

  Just a step away
From where we stood
Beyond the Great Divide,
Beneath the tide,
Where worlds collide.

(The catwalk spotlight is turned off and attention is directed towards the characters on the stage. They once again begin to dance and the man starts to sing:)

  The traffic's heavy on the Portsmouth Bridge,
It's all backed, it's like we're standin' still.
My partner's stuck this side of Governor's Ridge,
Now, I guess he'll be waitin' there until ...

(The Angels on the catwalk start to drop buckets of flaming lava onto the stage below. The dancers continue as if nothing is happening.)
  ... We start to move but that may take a while.
Ain't that a cruiser? I see flashin' lights.
It's stoppin' up ahead, about a mile.
I hope things loosen up before midnight.

(Once again, the dancers freeze, looking up as the Angels, spotlighted in white, sing:)
Just a moment from
A place where we
Had once begun.
Beyond the ocean side,
Where lovers hide
When worlds collide.

(Musical interlude during which both the upper and lower groups are featured - the upper is bathed in white light, the lower in red. The Angels throw lava onto the stage with greater and greater rapidity. The dancers finally take notice, trying in vain to shield themselves from the heavenly arsonists. In the backdrop, the city skyline begins to slowly crumble, the sky turning shades of yellow, orange and deep red. The river too is beginning to overflow its banks as a multitude of river dwellers - those whom had been heaving objects at the dancers - scramble up the banks, climbing the bridge and dodging the flaming wires of collapsing electrical pylons. In the midst of the frenzied chaos, the dancing David Arquette man resumes singing:)

  Say, what's that? Lightning? Is the sky on fire?
I hear a rumble underneath the ground.
Between the flooding banks and flaming wires,
Am I mistaken? Can you hear the sound?

(Some of the dancers return to their cars as the cataclysm draws ever nearer.)
  I should have taken Hoffner Road, I guess.
Or Phaidra Lane onto the motorway.
Over the Langtry Turnpike, heading west.
I could have been home by the break of day.

(The scene on the lower stage is now consumed by flames. As the annihilation proceeds, the Angels from the upper catwalk descend on invisible wires and float several feet above the carnage, dispersing holy water from scepters and golden bowls each is holding in their hands. The Godhead too is lowered, though It remains a bit higher than the Angels. It opens Its arms and sings in a powerful, though childlike, voice the final chorus. The Angels serve as accompanying vocalists:)

  Just a little more
Of what we both
Were looking for.
Our eyes were open wide,
Side by side,
Where worlds collide.

As the singing continues, smoke engulfs the stage as well as the entire theater. From the rafters, the stagedoor acolytes douse the audience and stage with holy water pumped in through makeshift firehoses that run up the walls of the theater. White light now fills the entire theater. The music, singing, and pyrotechnic as well as aquatic reveries proceed for another twenty minutes or so. As the music hits a crescendo, it shifts dramatically to the first musical figure of the closing number. With this shift the theater is once again plunged into darkness and with the ending of the music the house lights come on, revealing a closed curtain and the cast taking its bows at the front of the stage.

End of Act Two

• • •

All songs written by Maurice Mattei
Western Skies (c)(p) 2002 Maurice Mattei    All Rights Reserved
Any unauthorized reproduction of contents contained herein is a violation of applicable laws and is punishable by fine, imprisonment, torture and death. A Messalina Production for The Messaproductions Production Outlet Mall MarKey Records Inc.

For further information concerning "Western Skies," please access the following:
Buffett predicts nuclear attack on U.S., May 6, 2002
Doomsday Clock set closer to Armageddon, BBC News, Feb. 27, 2002
Guide to Apocalyptic Literature, Doomsday Fiction, and Post-Apocalyptic Novels
Terrorism - Preparing for the Unexpected
Studies in Revelation, Lesson 27: Destruction of Commercial Babylon
Studies in Revelation, Lesson 24: The Bowl Judgments