Angelo's Death (PG-13)
Heaven's Mafia (not rated)
The Finite Story
Mike: Hokay, it works like this. We each tell a part of a long story, which we make up as we go along, until we get bored and cap it off. [clearing his throat] Once upon a time, there lived a man called Phineas Parsnip. –Once knew a guy called that, actually. Funniest thing in the world. –Anyway, he lived in a town called Abbot—which really exists, and is about a frog's leap short of—
Mike: [nonplussed] Wha?
Box: [importantly] The defense is using humorous asides!
Angelo: [deadpan] Sustained.
Mike: [glaring at Box] Anyway. This man, Phineas, let on that he was a parsnip farmer, but in truth he was a... [looking at Dolly] Your turn, Dolly.
Lily: [languidly] Was he? That's interesting.
Mike: [good-naturedly] Oh, hush.
Dolly: [shyly, growing bolder and louder] ...was a pirate who went by the name Longshanks the Comet. On Friday nights, he would creep out of his house in black clothes, row down the Yellow River, and climb aboard his waiting ship, the Death Dancer. Then he would assume the blood-red cape and silver cutlass that were his trademarks—and he and his murderous crew would be the terrors of the Seven Seas, outrunning every ship that touched water, stripping them of rare and costly cargo, putting all to the sword—
Mike: [astonished] Dolly!
Dolly: [blushing furiously] Your turn, Ruby.
Ruby: ...until Sunday evening, when he would put away his cape and cutlass and return home to his beautiful wife, Imelda, who was the most loving, devoted woman a man could ask—
Ruby: [exasperated] Now what?!
Box: The plaintiff is describing herself in third person.
Angelo: [with a slight smile] Sustained.
Ruby: [shoving Box over] —could ask for. She never suspected that her husband was really a famous weekend pirate because he told her that he was going to weekly meetings at the— [looking at Angelo] Your go.
Mike: [punching his shoulder] Oh, no, you don't.
Angelo: I'll go at the end.
Danny: Fine, I'll go. [pausing] Where were we?
Ruby: Weekly meetings.
Danny: Ah, yes. –weekly meetings at the National Parsnip Association, known as the NPA, to be educated in the sciences of agriculture, nomenclature, botany, lobotomy, physiology, trigonometry, and backgammon.
Danny: [sighing] Yes, Mr. Finch?
Box: You made at least one of those words up.
Angelo: [absently] Bloody ****, Box.
Danny: [riled] As-I-was-saying! [calmer] Imelda found all this mumbo-jumbo fascinating, and would fall asleep to the sound of Phineas talking about nomenclature, which he really made up as he went along. This may have influenced the naming of their first child, a strapping young lad whom they called— Your turn, Frances.
Francie: [sitting up primly] ...who was called Walnut, on account of his delicate nut-brown curls... [wistfully] ...and he had big hazel eyes that sparkled like the sea at dawn, and pearly white baby teeth...
Angelo: [offhandedly] Killed one of those last week.
Mike: [decks him]
Francie: [ignoring the ensuing scuffle] ...and the little boy never knew about his father's secret identity, either, but the Sea was still in his blood, for he grew up to become— Go ahead, Jody dear.
Jody: ...to become a sailor in the Navy, ruthlessly hunting down pirates. His old man thought it was a total gas —
Jody: [spiritedly] **** you!
Box: The defendant is using colloquial and/or vulgar language.
Jody: [heatedly] You didn't object to Fran!
Box: [cheerfully] She makes me breakfast.
Mike: Or Dolly, come to think of it.
Box: [sincerely] I like her.
Jody: [ignoring them all] —little knowing that his son was becoming a formidable opponent... You're up, Joe.
Joe: [with relish] See, one day Walnut was hanging out with some buddies at a bar, and one of them said that Walnut was nutty, and the row was so loud that they heard it in Timbuktu, and the guy who insulted Walnut was sent home in a crate—
Box: [cheerily] There are ladies present, you little rat.
Joe: [flaring] Oh, yeah? Well, then, it's your turn, wise guy!
Box: [promptly] —sent home in a crate because he was too scared to come out of it, and he couldn't be used as a witness when Walnut was brought before court because it was such a hassle to change the newspapers at the bottom. Anyway, Walnut was tried for assault and battery, as well as disturbing the peace, and the jurymen were pickled herring, and the judge was a cabbage-head, and the lawyers objected to everything.
Mike: You're not going to give up this courtroom shtick, are you.
Box: [brightly] Nope!
Danny: Proceed with caution.
Box: [settling down] So the judge called for order, and Walnut's lawyer stood up and launched into a tirade about wooden shoes because he was court-appointed and he hated Walnut's guts, and—
Box: [turning] Beg pardon?
Jody: The defendant is green.
Box: [with dignity] I'm the plaintiff.
Box: So anyway, the judge got so bored that he fined the prosecutor five dollars and kicked them all out of the courtroom, where Walnut ran right into— You're next, Lily.
Lily: [without interest] —into his ship's captain, who caught him by the collar, saying, "Off yer bum, Parsnip! There's pirates afoot!" So they went to the ship, the Rusty Corkscrew, and launched out into the—
Lily: [insolently] Yes, ma'am?
Box: The defendant just called me a girl.
Lily: ...Is that really all you've got?
Box: Yup. –oh, and there's pirates afoot.
Lily: You need a life.
Box: [grinning] Got one on you?
Mike: [eager to break this up] Who would call their ship the Rusty Corkscrew, anyway?
Lily: Their old ship was called the Great Cork.
Mike: [rolling his eyes] Ask a stupid question...
Box: ...and everyone will think you're stupid.
Mike: [sharply] None of that, now!
Box: [rolling HIS eyes] Sorry, officer.
Lily: Anyway, they launched out into sea or whatever, and... oh, this is boring. Your turn, Rags.
Rags: [sleepily] Oh'kay. So they went out in the ship, and then they saw the pirates coming, and they all fell in the water.
Mike: [after a slight pause] Fell in the water.
Mike: ...Okay, then.
Rags:An' they couldn't swim, so they died. [falls asleep]
Angelo: Star, take over.
Star: [nudges Rags] Well, they died, except Walnut didn't because he landed on a mermaid. She smacked him for it, but they were both okay, and he got her to take him to the pirate ship. When they found it, it was dark and very quiet, so Walnut had to be very, very sneaky. He climbed—
Star: I object to your objection.
Box: Oh, okay.
Star: [grins] Should've thought of that sooner. Anyhow, Walnut climbed the side of the ship, jumped onto the deck, and said... You're up, Tony.
Star: [admiringly] Nicely put.
Star: Who wants to go now? Ernie?
Louie: I will.
Star: [astonished] You will?
Louie: Sure. Now, Walnut drew his cutlass—
Box: In pen or pencil?
Louie: Go jump in a lake. –He fought the entire crew single-handed, and soon was face to face with the masked captain, Longshanks the Comet.
Rags: [waking up] "You'll never defeat me, lad. Surrender while there's still time."
Louie: [theatrically] "Never, Longshanks! I have sworn to bring all your kind to their doom."
Rags: [earnestly] "I have no quarrel with you. Go now, and leave well enough alone."
Louie: [furiously] "For all the lives you have struck down, vengeance will be wrought this day! Stand and fight!"
Rags: [almost sadly] "It will be your own doom, lad."
Louie: [grimly] "We shall see."
Angelo: [sitting up sharply] And so they fought, their swords clashing even as their words darted back and forth. In the heat of battle, they reached the bow, and Longshanks leapt nimbly to the top of the siren figurehead.
Louie: "Never, so long as I draw breath!"
Rags: "Don't throw your life away."
Louie: "It will be well-spent."
Angelo: And Walnut joined the pirate on the figurehead. Longshanks leaned away and put up his sword as the youth raised his own weapon... and drove it through the Comet's heart.
Louie: [fiercely] "Die like the dog you are!"
Angelo: The old man silently removed his mask, and the light of dawn shone upon his face. The son looked upon the father, and the father upon the son; then the figurehead cracked and plunged into the water, sending the pair to rest forever in the embrace of the sea.
[A long pause.]
Joe: [blinks hard] Wow.
Mike: [sincerely] Now that was a novel.
Ruby: We should get it published!
Angelo: [ironic] Was anyone writing it down?
Box: Just the narrator.
Mike: ****. Oh, well. Who's up for Blackjack?