oldEpisode Four-hundred-nine: Jack
SCENE ONE:IT IS THE NEXT DAY AND JACK IS WEARING A SMILEY BADGE ON HIS JACKET.
VERN: "Have a nice day" is the headline for the front page?
JACK: Well a bit insipid perhaps but the bankers/owners tended to agree with me when I told them that the people will respond to it's heartfelt simplicity.
VERN: Oh they'll respond. They're going to laugh us out of town. That's how they're going to respond.
JACK IS ARRANGING FLOWERS AND HE SELECTS A NICE YELLOW ONE TO PUT IN A VASE.
JACK: Oh Vern, I wish you'd just calm down.
VERN: Calm down, calm down he says. Look at this. "Spectator to Head Campaign to Bring Back Smiley Face!" (Beat) You put a feature article on page one, like this, and you want me to calm down?
JACK: I find the smiley face very uplifting.
VERN: Oh god, look at the rest of this garbage. Ah here we go. "Chasing the Nobody Blues." "Talk to Yourself Tenderly." "The Only One Who can Reject You is You!"
JACK: That is true you know. One must discard perfection as a standard then one can truly appreciate the beauty of one's own achievements.
VERN: What the hell are you talking about?
JACK: I'm talking about this kindly little fellow right here.
HE LOOKS DOWN AT HIS SMILEY BADGE JUST AS JENNIFER WALKS IN BEHIND HIM.
JACK: Now I realize that a very simple little rendering of a person grinning idiotically might seem puerile at first. But I believe in its innocence, in its absolute unpretentiousness. It sets a tone of.... of optimism and joy for the entire pa....
JENNIFER: It's pathetic Jack.
JACK: Why, there she is. My lovely and ever supportive wife.
JENNIFER: Just tell me something Jack. Are you deliberately trying to sabotage The Spectator or have you just stopped caring? Is that it?
JACK: Well let me put it to you this way.
HE HOLDS UP A SMILEY FACE BADGE OVER EACH OF HIS EYES AND STARTS TO SING AN OLD SONG FROM THE ROARING TWENTIES.
JACK: "I want to be happy, but I won't be happy till I make you happy too. Boo boopy doop."
JENNIFER IS REALLY WORRIED THAT HE HAS LOST HIS MIND.
JENNIFER: Jack this is like Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Considering the stupidity of the way Jack is beting written this might actually be an in-joke]or something. It's like you're not even here.
JACK: Oh no, I'm more here than ever before. I'm just trying to.... (Singing another old song) "accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative."
JENNIFER: No, Jack, don't sing. This is not a good time to be singing. I don't understand....
JACK: Oooooh, this is the only time to be singing. It's a time for laughter, for love, for music.
VERN: Oh, I think I'm going to lose my lunch.
JACK: I'm just trying to make people happy.
HE PUTS HIS ARM AROUND HER.
JACK: Is that so strange, so crazy, so incomprehensible?
JENNIFER: Jack, what's incomprehensible is that a sophisticated and experienced journalist like yourself, really believes that people are going to buy a newspaper espousing the revival of the happy face.
JACK: I never knew you were so cynical.
VERN: But what's cynic? I mean she's being realistic.
LISANNE GARDNER WALKS IN BEHIND THEM.
SCENE TWO: THE SPECTATOR: LISANNE GARDNER, WHO IS TRYING TO BUY THE PAPER FOR HER MYSTERIOUS CLIENT, HAS JUST ENTERED THE ROOM.
VERN: I mean our circulation has nose dived since you came up with this happy Jack good news stuff.
LISANNE: Excuse me. I do hope I'm not interrupting.
JACK: On no, not at all. What can we do for you Ms. Gardner?
LISANNE: Well I spoke with your creditors at the bank and they've taken a vote and they've decided to consider my client's offer.
JENNIFER: So we're one step closer to losing the newspaper, is that what you're saying?
LISANNE: It's so hard, isn't it? It's really rough times these days.
JACK: Well we'll weather them, won't we my love? We'll.... we'll forge ahead, we'll count our blessings, we'll win through in whatever we do.
LISANNE: You certainly have a positive attitude Mr. Deveraux.
JACK: Oh I'm just trying to make the best of things.
LISANNE: Ah, yes, well do call me if you have any questions. Good day.
SHE TURNS TO LEAVE.
JACK: Yes, have a happy day.
JENNIFER: We'll forge ahead and we'll count our blessings Jack?
JACK: Well my dear, what other alternatives do we have?
JENNIFER: What other alternatives do we have? What other alternatives do we have? We can yell, we can scream, we can throw things and since when do you call me my dear?
JACK: Since I realized what a dear thing you are. I mean we can't let these travails get us down. We must look at the bigger picture, get a perspective if you will.
JENNIFER: What perspective? Did you hear what she just said. We could lose the newspaper for good, Jack.
JACK: We have each other, right now. We don't need anything else.
HE BENDS DOWN AND KISSES HER BUT SHE IS STILL CONVINCED THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH HIM.
SCENE THREE: A BIT LATER, JACK GETS ON THE PHONE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT LISANNE AND HER CLIENT. VERN IS ANNOYED AT HOW NICE JACK IS BEING.
VERN: I'm the one that's supposed to be talking to the bankers. Give me the phone.
JACK: Have a lovely evening.
VERN: Will you give me the damn....
JACK HANGS UP.
VERN: What did they say?
JACK: It appears that Ms. Gardner was correct.
JENNIFER: Oh no.
JACK: The bankers "slash" owners are considering selling out to her client.
JENNIFER: What are we going to do?
VERN: We can't let that happen Jack.
JENNIFER: We're not going to let that happen. We're not going to sit around being victims. We are going to take control of this situation, that's all.
VERN: How are we going to do that? We don't even know the name of the client she has. I mean we don't have enough information.
JENNIFER: That's alright. We are going to fix that. We are going to find out this client's name, come hell or high water Vern. I'm telling you right now.
JACK: Ahem, ahem, Jennifer please. Watch your language.
JENNIFER GLARES AT HIM.
JENNIFER: We are going to break into her office. We are going to figure out a way to get her keys. We are going to gain access to her files. We are....
JACK: Jennifer, Jennifer....
JENNIFER: Jack we have been in stickier situations than this before and we've gotten through it, okay.
JACK: It's not that it's impossible.
JENNIFER: Then what's the problem?
JACK: How can we.... justify going so low, to be so sneaky, so devious?
JENNIFER: I love it! I really really love it. The king of sneak is appalled at my suggestion. Are you hearing this Vern?
JACK: I resent that appellation.
JENNIFER: You resent it? You earned it. You are about the sneakiest guy on this planet.
JACK: That is total BULL....
JACK: That was.... perhaps that was true before. But that was before.
JENNIFER: Before what? (Beat) Jack?
JACK: Well that was before.... before.... ah.... I'm sorry. What was the question?
JENNIFER: Jack I just want to know what changed you. I mean why this cynical paranoid person all of a sudden has become this boring Pollyanna who thinks that everything is so wonderful all the time.
JACK: But everything can be wonderful if we can take care of our nasty little inner habits and develop an inner dialogue with the cosmos and be happy and....
VERN: Oh he's starting on that psycho babble again.JENNIFER: You know you're scaring me. You're really scaring me. The man that I married was crazy and frantic and pessimistic all of the time but that's the way he was and I loved him with all my heart. (Beat) I mean I love you with all my heart but I like you the way you were. The way you still are I know if you would stop this whole act and be yourself.
SCENE FOUR: THE SPECTATOR, JO APPEARS AT THE DOOR CARRYING A PLASTIC CONTAINER.
JO: I guess this is a bad time.
JACK: Ah, no. Oh it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But there's always time for you. You know that mother.
JO: Right, well I just wanted to.... (Beat).... what did you call me?
JACK: Well I called you mother.
JENNIFER: Jack, you....
JACK: That's who she is.... isn't it?
JO: Yes. (Beat) Well I can see that you're busy and you're having a discussion so I'll just leave this and I'll see you back at the apartment.
JO: Huh, huh?
JENNIFER: What do you have in there? It smells....
THEY ALL LEAN IN TO SMELL IT.
JENNIFER: No, not just....
JENNIFER: Yes. Really, really garlicky.
JO: It's.... it's just soup.
VERN: Garlic soup?
JO: No, chicken soup. I made it this morning, with garlic.
JACK TAKES IT.
JACK: Ah.... is that all?
JO: Huh, huh.
JACK OPENS THE CONTAINER AND THERE ARE WHOLE GARLIC CLOVES FLOATING IN THE SOUP.
JACK: Oh, well.
HE PULLS OUT THE GARLIC AND EACH CLOVE IS STRUNG TOGETHER IN A KIND OF NECKLACE.
JACK: A bit heavy on the most odoriferous member of the lily family, don't you think?
JO: Well I know how much you like it?
JENNIFER: Since when?
JACK: Yes, since when?
HE LOOKS AT JO AND REALIZES THAT SHE PUT SO MUCH GARLIC IN THE SOUP AS A HEALING POTION FOR HIM.
JACK: Oh since.... since I realized that garlic had such curative and calming powers. Unfortunately I'm really full. I can't have any soup but I tell you what, I will keep this and wear it. Who knows, it can't hurt anything to keep those vampires away, especially if they look like Harper and Duke.
VERN: What did he say?
JACK: I said that it.... was really a fluke. I was just thinking of garlic last week but let's not harp on it. Why don't we just take a moment right now and just be grateful for all the wonderful benefits that are being bestowed upon us?
VERN: Oh yeah, well I say to hell with that. I say we all sit down for a moment and try to figure out a way to save this paper.
JO: How to what?
VERN: Oh you haven't heard, huh?
VERN: Well a client of that Lisanne Gardner woman is threatening to take over The Spectator and your son here acts here like we should all join hands, run down to the seashore and frolic. Now if you'll excuse me.... oh we mustn't forget. Have a nice day!
VERN WALKS OUT IN DISGUST.
JO: Jack.... Jennifer, what's going on?
JENNIFER: Vern's right. We could lose The Spectator for good Jo.
JACK: No, no, no, that will not happen. I just came up with something.
JENNIFER: If you're going to break into another let's find the good in the bad speech, I don't want to hear it Jack.
JACK: No, no. I have just.... I have just figured something out. A way to stop this whole takeover.
JENNIFER: Oh really, well why don't you tell us?
JACK: Aaaah, it's just coming together. In the meantime I want you to take Jo home. Jo, could you please make up a big pot of that.... lovely green tuna noodle casserole and make a lot of it for me please. I'll be home in just a little bit.
JO: Alright, alright.
JO DOES NOT BELIEVE JACK BUT LEAVES ANYWAY.
JENNIFER: What are you up to Jack?
JACK: As always I have a plan. A nice plan where no one gets hurt and everyone gets happy.
JENNIFER: Oh, sort of like these little smiley faces, eh Jack?
JACK: Aaaah, yes. Exactly.
JENNIFER TAKES JO HOME.
SCENE FIVE: A SHORT TIME LATER HE ARRIVES AS PROMISED. JENNIFER IS SETTING THE TABLE. JACK IS CARRYING A LARGE BROWN CASSEROLE POT.
JENNIFER: Jack where are all our dishes.
JACK: I, ah, I gave them all to Jo.
JENNIFER: You did, why?
JACK: Well she was so generous with the casserole, I figured we could just reciprocate.
JENNIFER: Oh, oh, sure, okay.
JACK: Oh by the way, Lisanne Gardner's going to be joining us for dinner.
JENNIFER: Wh.... what? You invited that woman here for dinner?
JACK: Well I figured that she's here by herself. Why not share with her? Show her how the other half lives. Let her know that we don't exactly live in the lap of luxury. Show her our humble abode and meet a few cockroaches.
JENNIFER: We don't have cockroaches. Don't say that Jack.
JACK: I ran into a few this morning over in the cereal area. It's no big deal.
JENNIFER: There's no cockroaches in our cereal Jack.
SHE WALKS OVER TO CHECK.
JACK: The old poison pill anti-takeover routine. If she thinks that the paper is in half the shape we are in, she'll drop this whole takeover bid. She really will.
JENNIFER IS SEARCHING THROUGH CEREAL BOXES.
JENNIFER: Is the cockroach in my Bran Cereal or your Crispy Crunchies, Jack?
THERE IS A KNOCK ON THE DOOR.
JACK: Well she's right here. She's....
HE OPENS THE DOOR.
JACK: Well, COME IN.
LISANNE: Well thank you.
JACK: You're in perfect time. I believe Jennifer's busy....
JENNIFER SCREAMS AND DROPS A CEREAL BOX.
JACK: .... getting cockroaches out of the cereal. Jennifer?
LISANNE: Hello Mrs. Deveraux.
JENNIFER: Hello.... hi. You can.... you can call me Jennifer.
LISANNE: Oh, good, good, well then call me Lisanne. Thank you for inviting me to your lovely.... lovely home.
JACK: Oh, it's our pleasure. We don't entertain much. I'm certain you can see why. But we figured if you're here in town by yourself why not have a nice a home cooked meal. Our green tuna noodle casserole is.... fairly inelegant and very modest. But we seem to have a lot of it and we figured that we'd send you home full of it.
LISANNE: Heheh. It happens that I love green tuna noodle casserole. I do. In fact I love any kind of pasta. JACK: Great, wonderful. Well please sit down.
LISANNE: Thank you.
JACK BRUSHES THE CHAIR, PRETENDING THAT THERE WAS A COCKROACH ON IT.
JACK: Oh, oh, stop.... stop.... there.
LISANNE SITS DOWN.
JENNIFER: I'll go get the corn chips.
JACK: They're.... they're generic but we find that they are very crunchy.
JENNIFER: Would you like something to drink? Perhaps some.... ah, water?
JACK: Water is all we really have. Liquor and soda is a little too pricey.
LISANNE: Oh well as a matter of fact I happen to only drink water.
JACK: Well, welcome to our home.
JACK SITS DOWN.
JACK: We don't own it of course. It's just a rental, a very low rental. Not much of a view, not much light even on the sunniest of days and the insulation is.... well I must tell you we wear socks to bed all winter.
LISANNE: Oh really.
JACK: Yes. And the neighbors, the neighbors, well we spend half the night pounding on the ceiling with a broomstick trying to get our upstairs tenant to stop screaming obscenities at his imaginary friends.
JACK: Heheheh, it's really quite the place isn't it Jennifer?
JENNIFER: Yes, yes it is. It's really the pits Lisanne.
LISANNE: Actually I envy you both.
JACK: Ah.... what...you do?
LISANNE: I do, I really do. You're obviously very much in love and you can have the rest of your lives to buy things and right now you have everything you need. You're young and you have a baby on the way and well, you have the rest of your lives to make everything work out and someday you'll have everything you want.
JACK AND JENNIFER BOTH GIVE HER BIG FAKE SMILES. THEY ALL BEGIN EATING DINNER.
SCENE SIX: JACK, JENNIFER, AND LISANNE ARE FINISHING DINNER.
JACK: Oh, I'm sorry. Would you care for some more green tuna noodles?
LISANNE: Hmm, hmm, no, thank you. I couldn't. You know that.... stuff is really filling.
JENNIFER: Okay, in that case, I'll clear off the table and I'll go get the Jell-O. I hope that you like Jell-O.
JACK: We like Jell-O. We find it's the best thing you can get for two cents a plate.
LISANNE: Oh isn't that great. Well you know what, I really should be going though I promised myself that I would get a lot of work done tonight and turn in early.
JACK: Oh I totally understand. We have a lot of work to do ourselves. In fact I'm going to stay up half the night working on a couple of articles for The Spectator. Just trying to pull it up out of the gutter. I'm really very devoted when it comes to The Spectator.
JENNIFER: Well that's because it's your dream Jack. It's our dream, actually.
LISANNE: Oh well then I really should go. I should. I want you to have time to work on your projects. Thank you for your hospitality. I don't know when I've had so much fun and Jennifer, I would love the recipe of that casserole.
JENNIFER: Oh yeah, right. I mean you know it's not as cheap as Jell-O but we still manage to bring it in at about twenty-nine cents a serving.
JACK: And the cockroaches almost never go for the dried pasta products.
LISANNE: Hmmm, well I will remember that helpful hint. Thanks.
JACK: Well thank you for coming and I want you to know Ms. Gardner that we really believe everything's going to work out for the best. I mean it always does, right my love?
JENNIFER: Oh yes, always does.
LISANNE: You're right. Thanks again. I really had fun. Thank you.
JACK: Oh no, there's no need to thank us.
LISANNE WALKS AWAY AND JACK CALLS TO HER DOWN THE HALL.
JACK: We love to share everything that we have with.... with anyone.
HE COMES BACK INSIDE AND SHUTS THE DOOR.
JENNIFER: We love to share everything we have with anyone?
JACK: Well.... don't we?
JACK PICKS UP THE GENERIC CORN CHIPS BUT JENNIFER SNATCHES THEM FROM HIM.
JENNIFER: NO, WE DON'T JACK! I mean, yes we do sometimes. But do you always have to tell people the truth all the time especially about cockroaches? I mean honestly why do you have to be so damn sincere all the time?
JACK: Because I mean it.
JENNIFER: You really do, don't you?
JACK: From the bottom of my heart.
JENNIFER: Oh this is so scary. I can't take this anymore. I cannot take this generosity. I cannot take this honesty. I cannot take this kindness. I cannot take this love anymore. You are making me sick. Do you want to see me get sick Jack? I will throw up in the sink and I will get sick.
JACK: I am very sorry to hear that. I am.... I
JENNIFER RUNS BACK TO HIM AND GRABS THE COLLAR OF HIS SHIRT AND SHAKES HIM.
JENNIFER: I don't want you to be sorry. I want you to yell at me. I want you to argue with me. I want you to make me mad. I want you to be JACK!
HE MAKES NO RESPONSE.