Exquisite Corpse - Issue 3
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Clone Talk
by Kathleen Welch, a.k.a Major Hightower


Cast of Characters

Rita: A waitress clone from Chalmette, who stars in the talkshow, Clone Talk.

Dick: A trailer-park clone from Chalmette, who is Rita's sidekick in Clone Talk.

Dr. Gail: A cloned therapist from an MIT petri dish.

Neil Armstrong: The first man on the moon.

God: A drag queen that loves to do standup.

(Note: Bill Gates appears briefly before he chokes on Chinese take-out.)

Scene 1

Seated around a rectangular table are an odd assortment of humans and puppets.  Standing next to the table is a gothic child-puppet, Stanley Screamer, who holds a bright orange and yellow leaf blower.  Suspended above the stage are two puppets, Neil Armstrong and God, one in a space suit and the other in spandex.

Rita:  Hi everyone! I'm Rita (nudges Dick who adds, 'and I'm Dick') and you're listening to the number one talk show, "Clone Talk"!  Today's topic is CLONED MARRIAGES THAT

(Dick isn't paying attention.  He's reading MAD magazine.)

Rita:  Dick, I didn't want to bring up our own personal problems on this show, but I think it might help our audience to know about the problems cloned couples like us have and of course the big issue everyone's talking about--that Millennium Celebration!  I mean let's survey our audience on that one.  How many of you have felt really stressed out and depressed during all the millennium hoopla and had a big fight with your husband, wife or significant other? Just hold up your cue cards, 'yes' or 'no'.

Dick:  (Enthusiastically reports the results.)  Looks like we got some serious ass losers out here.

Rita:  (Apologizing) Dick means that there might have been some tension at home. Well, Dick and I are going to show you a way to deal with all the stress and all during any family get together or celebration.  We're going to engage in therapeutic role-play using our movement-challenged, hand-friendly assistants here. (Gestures to the puppets.)

Dick:  You mean "puppets"!

(Neil Armstrong holds up a sign to the audience that says, GASP!)

Rita:  Dick, please, that word is no longer "pc" in America.  Now, for the millenium celebration we decided to celebrate it next New Year's Eve.  The pressure will be off to make it the funnest and most expensive night of the year.  Did you know that leading scientists, like Mr. Spock and Neil Armstrong, say that's the real date to celebrate. (Looks to Neil who is perched on top of a moon rock and conducting a NASA experiment, releasing a feather and a rock from his perch.)  So you out there can just do what we plan to do. But let's get started with our therapeutic role-play. (Both Rita and Dick start to use the puppets.)  Dick what do you plan to do in the next coming millennium? (Long pause)  I mean New Year's Eve?

Dick:  Well I figured on New Year's Eve I'd probably buy me a bunch of M-80s and the first thing I'd do is kill that dog next door, blow him to hell and gone.  And then I'd figure I take me some M-80s, maybe some sparklers, maybe a couple of pop bottle rockets and go on down by the river, just raise some hell, you know.  You know it don't make too much difference to me, I ain't gonna be affected by no Y2K bullshit or nothing, you know.  I mean, come on, get real man, it's just another day.  Anyway, what I was planning for myself for the new millennium is I'd figure, uhm...well...Idon't reckon I'm school material but I think I might break on out and start my own business, you know, maybe some kind of shoplifting business or maybe a car-jacking business or something.  You know something I could make a couple of bucks, and I got plenty of genuine, unbonafide drivers licenses to work with and I can shave and change my hair color.  I know how to do that.  They got a lot of good products over by the Walgreens...

Rita:  What about me, Dick!  What about, me!  You're leaving me out!

Dick:  Dick, Dick...

Rita:  I'm Rita!  Dick!  You're Dick...Dick!  What about me! What about me!

Dick:  Rita, you're in my plans too, babe.

Rita:  Well, how?

Dick:  I'd figure we'd buy that tent you know.  You can buy a tent for like $89, a really nice house, too!  And we'd get one of them blow-up mattresses and shit and we wouldn't have to worry about paying the rent or nothing.  I could... Don't worry, Rita.  You tell me what you got in mind.

Rita:  I do worry.  Well, I'll tell you all I want to do on New Year's Eve is, uh, get a six pack and drink and drink and then I'd like to tell you about, I don't know, about these worries I have.  I do have these worries.  I got this nervous leg disorder, periodic limb movement disorder.  And...I don't know what to do.  And I saw what you do when you wake up in the morning, you got periodic limb movement disorder!  Don't try to push that off on me...Dick!  You got a limb that just won't stop!  And other than that I just think I'll chill, chill, chill, chill...

(Dick makes an unsavory sound. It could be gas. Neil holds up another sign to the audience that says, FART)

Rita:  (Laughing, but disgusted.) Oh, Dick, you're so gross!  Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick!  Ha! Ha! Ha!  I think that's about it!  I'll tell you that's what I want to do.  I want to be in a quiet place, no M-80s.  I think you CAN kill the dog.  I'd be real happy if you killed that son of a bitch next door but that's about it.  I just want it to be quiet, quiet, quiet.  In matter of fact, I'd like to be OUT of this city and in some kind of RURAL area.  Oh, one more question and this will be it.  (To the TV audience) And I'm sure all of you out there will want to know.  How do you plan to spend New Year's DAY, in the year 2001 A.D.

(Long pause.  Dick doesn't seem to understand the question right away.)

Dick:  You talking...Oh!  You mean January 1?  I'll probably be kind of sacked out until about 11 and then I'll wake up and cook me a mess of eggs and maybe some grits and if I have enough money I'll do some bacon and stuff.  Maybe watch the tube for awhile, you know.  Suck, suck me down, suck me down some suds and maybe a few pigs, FIGS in the afternoon.  Maybe go down and get me some, if there was something open, I'd go down and find me some pork fried rinds, maybe the hot kind, you know, and crunch on them for a while.  Then I'd figure you and me we would go see a flick or something, even one of those girlie movies.  Hell!  I don't care.  I love you Rita!

Rita:  (No longer are they manipulating the puppets.) I love you, Dick.  That means a lot to me that you ended this all by saying you love me.  I love you a lot, Dick.  (They kiss. Neil holds up the sign, APPLAUSE!!)

Rita:  (To the audience.)  Oh, you don't have to clap for us.  We just want to help all you out there who are married.  We all know marriage can be hard and it's especially hard for clones like us who come from an illegal Paraguay clone farm AND a bad egg!   Dick and I just want you to know that we're there for you.

Rita:  So why don't we go out into the audience and ask our friends out there about marriage and love!  It's time for Amazing But True Love Stories.  And if you answer right, you get to have Stanley Screamer Steam Clean! He'll not only steam clean your carpets but blow away any sort of debris--dustmites, fallen leaves or dead wood (looks at Dick)

(Stanley Screamer is a gothic child-puppet carrying a huge leaf blower.  In front of him is the sign, "HALT!  Humans Against Leaf Blower Technology!)

(Rita and Dick have moved out into the audience.)

Dick:  All right, we'll start off with an easy one.  Who was sleeping and got his johnson cut off, woke up to find out that his wife had driven off with it and pitched it out on the side of the road?  It was later found and reattached to his body.  Their particular relationship was shot.  However, he did go on to marry and star in a porno movie.

(Someone in the audience answers.)

Dick:  All right!  You've got a date with Stanley Screamer! (Hands the audience member the prize certificate.)

Rita:  Oh, Dick!  You're always so disgusting.  Let's have a beautiful love story.  These are famous figures and they were married a long time.  But the man involved was fooling around at his place of business.  Receiving all sorts of kinky sexual favors from an employee.  Now this man was famous.  And the news of his illicit affair hit the media.  His beautiful wife though stood by his side.  And forgave him.  And his johnson remains intact.  He now praises the Lord and plans to live happily ever after with his wife in a huge mansion in the suburbs.

(Someone in the audience answers and gets the Stanley Screamer prize.)

Rita:  Oh, this is great.  I just love beautiful love stories.  I could go on forever, Samson and Delilah, Anthony and Cleopatra, Paul and Linda, and Bill and Hillary!  Anyone have a story to share?  We got a few minutes before our guests come on.

Rodney Dangerfield Clone: I'll tell you a few. (He starts telling Dick some bad jokes about Rita.) Dick, your wife has spent so much time in parked cars that they are now showing her on some road maps.

Rita is so ugly that when she walks into a room, the mice jump on a chair.

Rita has so many double chins that she could wear a string of pearls without the string.

(Dick is upset and fists fly.)

Rita:  (Trying to break up the fight.)  Oh, the time is up!  Our first guest is waiting in the wings.  Dick, let's welcome our first guest, Dr. Gail!

Scene Two

Rita:  Our TV viewers have already met Dr. Gail before.  She is the famous cloned therapist who has helped so many of us clones.  Dr. Gail, as we all know, was cloned from Albert Einstein.  (To the audience) By the way, we're very excited to show you a piece from the Einstein exhibit that's coming to the Contemporary Arts Center next month.  These are Einstein's very own optical pariah lobes!  Some of the largest in the world! (She holds up the lobes.)

Dick: (Interrupting Rita.) Damn, life ain't fair!  Sure beats that nacho clone farm we came from.  But I heard Einstein's brain can't be cloned no more.  It's supposed to be illegal to clone too many smart people.

Rita:  Right, Dick.  I've heard that Hollywood and our advertisers are behind all that.  They say they're afraid about low ratings and no money and all that.  They think talk shows, like ours, would be the first to go if there's only smart clones.  I don't get it.  And you know our Louisiana government has even made it illegal to clone for the next four years.  They're afraid of losing their jobs,too.  How does our audience feel?  Do you think cloning should be an equal opportunity and part of the Equal Rights Amendment?  Do we only want smart, beautiful, perfect people cloned?

Dick:  Or should the ugly and stupid have a chance?  I guess the best way to answer this question is "Would you want your wife cloned?" (Looks at Rita. Rita tries to interrupt but Dick continues.) OK, let's see how many think we should all be given the right to clone ourselves?  Let's see those cue cards? (Reports the results.)

Rita:  Dick, I think it's time that we see what Dr. Gail has to say about cloning and all. Let's go welcome her.

(Dick gets up and wheels in Dr. Gail, who wears large rubber gloves and is apparently confined to a hand truck.)

Dr. Gail:  (Her speech has been pre-recorded and is distorted.  She is very serious.)
Good day Rita and Dick.  I'm very happy you invited me to appear on your show.  For I have brought the most precious gift of all time, the secret to happiness.  And I will break free from my hand truck captivity, the closer you come to discovering the secret.  But first let me explain.  First, I would like to remind everyone that even though we approach the next millennium there is hope for all of us, even the ugly and stupid.  Yes, we still possess aspects of the Stone Age brain, which evolved twenty thousand years ago to meet the conditions of life on the African savanna.  At the same time, our neocortex in our brains has grown enormously in an incredibly short space of geological time.  As a result of this freakish development, all of us possess the TUMOROUS neocortex, the reasoning part, which in its electro-chemical operation can be likened to an infinitely complex computer.  Yet this tumorous overgrowth is imperfectly co-ordinated with the two other and older parts of our brains which we have inherited from primitive mammals and still more PRIMITIVE REPTILES. From this appalling flaw comes our aggressiveness, unique in animal creation.  Since we are all still biological freaks, a biological malfunction needs a biological corrective.  What type of biological corrective will enable our savanna brains to keep pace with the bewildering rush of cultural and technological changes?  And help us deal with the cumulative stresses of modern life which have set off an avalanche of depression, anxiety, insomnia, bulimia and nervous leg disorder.

The secret to happiness is TWO biological mechanisms.  And I don't mean PSYCHOPHARM, PROZAC or other mood-altering drugs.  These TWO evolutionary mechanisms allow humans to cope with their reptilian nature and the hell they have spawned.  Each time we engage them, powerful chemical reactions occur that reduce stress and create euphoria, stimulating the brain's dopamine receptors.

Dick, could you please demonstrate to our TV viewers that our only hope in this insane world are these natural mechanisms that Aristotle, Jesus, Freud, and Einstein revered.

(Dick begins a song and dance routine, called Dancing on the Moon.  Neil Armstrong joins in from his rock.)

Dick:  I'd like to dedicate this song, Dancing on the Moon, to that astronut from the corn belt, Neil Armstrong.

Dick:  Kick on the jets, find a flat spot,
Refrain: Get down tonight, Get down tonight!

Running out of gas, find a flat spot,

Eagle come down, Tranquillity base,

Say a little line, kick a little dust,

One small step, one giant leap,

Dancing on the moon, plant a little flag,

Play a little golf, kick a little dust,

Rita:  Whoa!  We're getting a lot of calls.  Everyone wants to know what these mysterious evolutionary mechanisms are?!  That will bring happiness!!  Dr. Gail what are you talking about?  And what's DICK got to do with it!!  He's got more reptile in him than anybody I know!  And why are we dancing on the moon!

Dick:  Rita, you're about as dense as a fart in a space suit!  It figures you wouldn't know what the evolutionary mechanisms are!

Rita:  (Whispers) Dick, shut up!  We've got an audience!
(Sweetly to the audience)  Let's take a call from this gentleman.  Hello, this is Rita.  What's your question, sir?

Neil Armstrong:  Rita, this is Neil Armstrong.

Rita:  Oh, Neil!  We're delighted that you took time out to call in.  Dick, turn on that clip again of Neil and Buzz dancing on the moon.

Neil:  First, I want to compliment Dick.  (Laughing)  His take on the first moon walk was great!  I had no idea what I was going to say that day!  And everyone made such a big deal about it.  But I called in because I'm confused.  Dr. Gail, where do we go from here?  I agree with you that we got to tap into those two mysterious mechanisms.  But we still haven't addressed the main issue, cloning.  I'm concerned that we'll have a type of human "cleansing" and only the rich and powerful, like Bill Gates, will continue to reproduce themselves.  Bill Gates clones will control the world and have windows everywhere, even into our souls.  And let's face it, Bill Gates is lacking in those biological mechanisms that bring us closer to the cosmos.

(While Neil has been talking, Bill Gates is at the kitchen table watching the talk show and performing a variety of tasks, such as eating Chinese take-out and answering e-mail. He is somewhat agitated by what Neil Armstrong is saying, and starts to choke on his food.  His only words are: 'How do I download what to do if you're choking on Combination Plate #3, MooShu Pork?!"  He suffocates on his Moo Shu Pork. Neil holds up the sign, GAG!!)

Neil:  Sometimes I think Gates could be an alien.  But, I've seen those types in central Ohio, too, white and corn-fed, sour zombies.  That's why we need another frontier, another planet, another way out.  Since we already have too many people on this planet. That's THE CRISIS of the millennium. This cancerous growth is the apocalypse.  In less than 40 years, we have doubled our population to 6 billion and we are destroying one entire species of animal or plant life every 20 minutes!!  And we're talking about cloning more humans!  Dr. Gail you must be doing psychotropics!  What would your father say?!

Dr. Gail:  (Her voice is no longer distorted.  She checks her mouth.) Neil.  I agree with you.  We will not survive if we continue to multiply at this rate.  And I have the same fears that we'll end up with a select group of Bill Gates.  I wish I had an answer.  I'm afraid we will return from where we came, the Garden of Eden, the forbidden fruit, insidious information.  The Virgin will again smash the serpent and strip our pride since we are not the gods we believe we are.  We do not have the key to re-lock Pandora's box, to survive the information age.  We do not have the wisdom and compassion to clone ourselves!

Dick:  (Flustered) God, another call!  Where's that other half of mine??!

God:  (Has been hidden in a trash can. Pops out wearing white chiffon, waving a fly swatter and talking through a shoe phone, a delicate white pump.) Dick, I just had to call in.  I need to talk to Rita, NOW.

Dick:  (Dick recognizes the voice.) "Oh, my God!"

God:  Yes, Dick this IS God.  Now where's that wife of yours?

Rita:  God, glad you could call.  We need a Supreme Being to solve Dr.Gail's riddle and tell us what these evolutionary mechanisms are that will bring us happiness.

God:  Later, Rita.  There are more important things.  Girl, we've got to talk.  First, I love your show.  Except sugar, did you get high first and then get dressed!  Cowboy hats and boob tubes are out.  I mean, all you need is a bottle of Jack Daniels and you'd be an honorary member of Lynyrd Skyndrd!  I know I sound bitchy.  But you have a pretty face and you could do better.  Tomorrow, let's go shopping and buy some clothes that won't look like you're after the Marlboro Man.

Rita:  God, I'm sorry.  I'll try to do better.  You know I just don't have time and I'm from Chalmette.  So you know the cards are stacked against me.

God:  Rita, no excuses.  Lord and Taylors, tomorrow at 10.  And Dr.Gail, you scare the hell out of me.  What's with the gloves and handtruck!  Honey, you need help and not just with accessories.  But, let's get back to your little riddle.  The answer is simple and I think our very intelligent audience out here already knows the answer.

Rita:  (To the audience)  Ok.  Can anyone guess what they've all been talking about?  I'll tell you I'm lost and I sure could use a bottle of JD.

Dick:  I'll give you some help.  The first evolutionary mechanism:
Like a fart in a space suit,
A screen door in a submarine,
Does the Pope shit in the woods,
Is the bear Catholic?

(Dick holds up the sign saying 'LAUGH'.)

Dick:  Ok.  You're all doing it.  You got it.

Rita:  I don't get it!  What do they got.

God:  Ok.  I told you these guys were smart. (Referring to the audience.)  Most humans have that evolutionary feature; it's just combining it with the other one, that's where the trouble comes in.  Not many people use both.  Now, let's see if we can guess the second one.  I don't have all day.  I got to go check out that limbo baby.  He's precious and gluts to boot!  Oh, by the way, Rita, do I have time to do my latest shtick?  I got some great one-liners!

Rita:  Sorry, God.  We're running out of time.  I want to know what the other secret is to living a long and happy life.  I mean let's face it.  That's what we're all afraid of.  Dying!  I mean what's next??  I just don't understand it.  I mean, I was reading and reading about JFK Jr.'s death and felt really sad--like I'd lost a good friend or something, and then in the metro section of the Picayune I read about this poor black guy that jumps off the Huey P. Long bridge two days before his wedding and four days before his birthday and I just kind of laughed because the headline said that "Man Leaps off Bridge Before Wedding."  I just don't get it!  I guess life isn't even fair after we die.

Dick:  Yea!  That poor black dude just washed up down river a few days later.  There wasn't no million dollar military looking for him!  And you know Rita, but I'm worried about me dying and then cloned ghosts and stuff.  Double the trouble is what I say!  Two ghosts roaming around for the same person is too much.  Talk about a lot of spooky shit and haunted houses and stuff!

God:  Dick, you got it wrong.  Most ghosts are happy.  They have more fun down here goofing off, than being in heaven where it's BORING!!  That's why I have to get out of there once in a while and do stand up.

Dr. Gail:  God, I don't mean to scare you, but sometimes you're somewhat esoteric for the common man.  So, I want to ask our TV audience to FREE ME FROM MY HANDTRUCK!

God:  (Now an evangelist)  YES! Free this disturbed child! Free her from her black-handed ways!  Free her from the handtruck of HELL!! (To theaudience) What is the secret to happiness?  What are the TWO biological correctives, the two evolutionary mechanisms unique to humans that will enable us to find heaven here on earth.  Answer me my children!  Alleluia!!  Praise the Lord!!

Dick and Neil: Alleluia!! Praise the Lord!!

(Dick holds up the signs, LOVE, LAUGH, while Neil puts the lid on God (i.e. trash can)).

Dr. Gail:  Yes, I'm free!  (Climbs out of the hand truck and removes her gloves.) It's all about my father's theory of happiness--the paradox of infinity and eternity.

Life is a dream
and death slips into eternity.
Not tracking Newton
into the black of space
or flying without limit
into the end of time.

For your first gaze
into the heavens
will return to you.
For your first cry
from your mother's womb
will be heard again.

If we have
the love and laughter
that dreams do not die
that lives do not end
But that all returns
and circles forever more
as love would laugh.

(Neil holds up the sign, Is this the end??)

The End.



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