COMING ATTRACTION – A 20 year old play

I wrote this play about 20 years ago. I don’t really send it out, although I did just send it to a friend to do with his college class. It’s got way too many characters and isn’t really the kind of thing I write now. But I read it recently and was amused by it and thought this might be a nice place for it to live. Movie buffs might get a kick out of it, as I borrowed some scenarios from popular genre films. The play is in three scenes. Here is scene one. I’ll post scenes two and three over the next week. Enjoy.

shatner

From left Christine White (as Julia Wilson), William Shatner as airline passenger Bob Wilson, reacts to a gremlin on the plane’s wing, played by Nick Cravat. ‘Nightmare At 20,000 Feet,’ episode of The Twilight Zone. Initial television broadcast on October 11, 1963. Screen capture / Frame grab. Copyright © 1963 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Credit: CBS Photo Archive.

COMING ATTRACTION

SCENE I
(The passenger cabin of a small commuter airplane. On one side, Jerry and Bobbi sit next to one another. One the other side, William ,a nervous middle-aged man, sits next to the window. A stewardess enters the cabin.)

WILLIAM
Excuse me, stewardess?

STEWARDESS
Yes and how may I help you? Coffee? Cream or sugar?

WILLIAM
Uh…no thank you.

STEWARDESS
One coffee black as a nightmare, coming right up.

WILLIAM
No. I don’t drink coffee.

STEWARDESS
Then why did you ask for it?

WILLIAM
I didn’t. I just wanted to know exactly how high up we are.

STEWARDESS
Well, now I’m confused. Where I’m from, coffee is a drink made from ground beans brought to this country by Sir Walter Raleigh, the same man who introduced tobacco. Does coffee have a different meaning where you’re from?

WILLIAM
Uh…no. I wasn’t-

STEWARDESS
Then why are you treating me like I’m stupid? Is it because I’m a flight attendant? That’s pretty narrow-minded.

WILLIAM
No. You see, I can’t drink coffee because it makes me tense-

STEWARDESS
Then don’t drink it. I’m not forcing it down your throat am I?

WILLIAM
No, I mean…I didn’t want coffee…

STEWARDESS
That’s it! I’m telling the pilot!

(STEWARDESS exits. WILLIAM stares out the window)

(BOBBI begins holding her nose and making odd noises)

JERRY
Excuse me, miss?

BOBBI
Yes?

JERRY
Could you not do that? It’s very loud and people are looking this way because they think it’s me.

BOBBI
You should just point to me, then, when they look at you. That would clear up everything.

JERRY
No, I’m pretty sure that would make me appear even more guilty; trying to cast the blame on someone else. And besides, what if they’re not looking at me and I just think they’re looking at me? That would be extremely embarrassing.

BOBBI
If that’s the case, then you really have nothing to worry about. Besides, this is the only way to clear my aural canals. They always clog at high altitudes. Flying, mountain climbing, whatever…

JERRY
Well, that’s not the best way to do it. Here. Let me show you.

(JERRY moves to put his hand on BOBBI’S mouth)

BOBBI
I’m warning you. Don’t try to suffocate me. You’ll never escape. This is an airplane.

JERRY
I promise I won’t suffocate you.

BOBBI
(pause)

Okay. Show me.

(JERRY puts his hand over BOBBI’S mouth.)

JERRY
Now, cover your ears.

(SHE does)

JERRY
Now blow gently through your nose, into my hand

(SHE does)

BOBBI
Hey. You know what? It worked! That is so wonderful! I don’t have to make that horrid noise anymore.

JERRY
An old family remedy.

BOBBI
Wow.
(There is an uncomfortable silence while
BOBBI stares at JERRY.)

BOBBI
I’m Bobbi, by the way. With an “I”.

JERRY
Hi. I’m Jerry.

(THEY shake hands.)

JERRY
Nice to meet you, Bobbi with an “I”.

(The STEWARDESS re-enters with the PILOT)

STEWARDESS
It was him.

PILOT
And what seems to be the problem?

WILLIAM
Nothing. No problem. You’ll have to forgive me. I’m very nervous on airplanes. Planeaphobic, or something.

PILOT
With all due respect, Mr….

WILLIAM
Serling.

PILOT
With all due respect, Mr. Serling, I don’t see that that’s a very good reason to insult my favorite flight attendant who I happen to be sleeping with at the moment.

STEWARDESS
(embarrassed)
Bob!

WILLIAM
I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t mean to insult anyone. It’s just…can you tell me how long it will be before we land?

PILOT
We will land in approximately fifty-two minutes. Until then, I don’t want to hear a peep out of you as it might create a panic. And if I have to come out here again, you know what that means?

WILLIAM
Well, I…

PILOT
It means NOBODY IS FLYING THIS PLANE!
(pause. Suddenly realizing)
I better get back to the cockpit. We could be flying directly into a mountain and I wouldn’t even know.

(STEWARDESS and PILOT exit)

JERRY
So, Bobbi, are you from California or just visiting?

BOBBI
Just visiting. I have family there. They don’t like me to come too often because every time I do there’s an earthquake.

JERRY
Really? I’ve been in about seventy earthquakes myself.

BOBBI
Seventy? My God!

JERRY
Not all of them were major earthquakes. Some were just minor tremors. How about you?

BOBBI
Nowhere near seventy. Twenty-five, tops.

JERRY
Can I ask you something?

BOBBI
I guess.

JERRY
Do you ever feel like your very presence is causing the earthquakes?

BOBBI
I used to, but then I started feeling pretty egocentric. I mean I’m only human. It’s not like I have any power over nature. Then I just started taking it for granted.

JERRY
Yeah?

BOBBI
Yeah.

WILLIAM
(screaming)
STEWARDESS!!!! STEWARDESS!!!

STEWARDESS
(entering)
Mr. Serling, please keep your voice down. You are on an airplane.

WILLIAM
Stewardess. Listen to me. You’ve got to land this plane.

STEWARDESS
I may hate myself for asking this, but why?

WILLIAM
Because there’s a giant hairy monster on the wing.

STEWARDESS
(pause)
Don’t make me get the pilot.

WILLIAM
No. I swear. You’ve got to believe me. There’s a giant gremlin on the wing and he’s tearing the guts out of the plane.

STEWARDESS
(loud and self-consciously)
OH MR. SERLING. HA,HA. YOU’RE SO FUNNY. I WISH I COULD SHARE WITH THE OTHER PASSENGERS YOUR JOKE ABOUT THE FURRY BEAST ON THE WING. UNFORTUNATELY I WOULDN’T WANT TO DISTURB THEIR SLUMBER. Now. Are you going to be quiet or do I have to sedate you with some of the illegal narcotics we keep on board?

JERRY
Wow. How about that? You must fly a lot.

BOBBI
How do you mean?

JERRY
That guy didn’t even phase you. Look at the rest of the passengers. They’re all so jumpy. You’re completely unshaken.

BOBBI
I’m so used to it at this point. Things like this always happen to me.

JERRY
Really? Me too!

BOBBI
Yeah?

JERRY
Yeah! And not just earthquakes. All kinds of things.

BOBBI
Me too!

JERRY
That’s so weird. Remember last Spring when that giant meteor collided with the earth?

BOBBI
Remember it? I was right under it!

JERRY
No way! I was right under it!

BOBBI
GET OUT!

JERRY
That was something else…

BOBBI
I don’t remember seeing you there!

JERRY
Well, I’m not surprised. It was a big meteor.

(suddenly there is a load crashing noise and the lights begin flashing on and off.)

WILLIAM
(leaping from his seat)
MONSTER ON THE WING! MONSTER ON THE WING!

(The other passengers begin shouting. WILLIAM takes out a gun and begins firing randomly into the air.)
YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE YOU GODDAMN GREMLIN!

(PILOT and STEWARDESS run in. PILOT grabs WILLIAM and pins his arms behind him.)

JERRY
You know, I hope you don’t think this is forward of me, but I find you very attractive.

BOBBI
(pause)
Thank you. Thank you very much. It’s been a long time since anyone’s said that to me.

PILOT
All right Mr. Serling. I warned you. Sandy, get the dope.

STEWARDESS
Right.

WILLIAM
No. No drugs, please. I’m calm. I’m calm.

PILOT
Are we going to be quiet now?

WILLIAM
Yes. Only listen to me please. One of the engines is out isn’t it? The number two on the left side. I saw the creature destroy it.

(PILOT and STEWARDESS look at each other ominously)

PILOT
The number two engine went out about three minutes ago

WILLIAM
(begins thrashing around)
OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!

PILOT
Sandy! Come here and hold him! I have to go fly the plane!

STEWARDESS
I can’t hold him! I’m just a Flight Attendant!

PILOT
(thinks about it)
All right! I’ll hold him! You go fly the plane!

STEWARDESS
Right.

BOBBI
You have a very kind face.

JERRY
Thank you.

(A huge explosion. The lights flicker on and off.)

WILLIAM
OH JESUS CHRIST IN HEAVEN WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!

(STEWARDESS enters)

STEWARDESS
Ladies and gentlemen please don’t panic. I can’t remember exactly what I’m supposed to tell you as I am experiencing mortal terror, but do that thing with your knees and the oxygen mask that I showed you before we took off. I hope you were paying attention. I have to go fly the plane.

(STEWARDESS exits)

(The sound of a plane crashing and passengers screaming. BOBBI and JERRY put their heads between their knees.)

JERRY
So are you seeing anyone?

BOBBI
Well, actually…

(There is a loud thud as the plane lands. Jerry and Bobbi get up slowly. WILLIAM is giggling.)

WILLIAM
(to himself)
Monster on the wing. Hee Hee. It’s a Gremlin, I tell you, a gremlin.

(STEWARDESS enters with a straight jacket and SHE and the PILOT begin putting it on WILLIAM.)

JERRY
So, what are you doing now? You want to go have coffee? Have dinner or something?

BOBBI
Uh… I can’t. I’m sorry. You seem like a really nice guy, but…I am seeing somebody.

JERRY
Oh. Okay. That makes sense. I mean if you’re seeing somebody, I don’t want to…

BOBBI
But if I wasn’t seeing somebody…

JERRY
Right. Sure. Of course.

(the PILOT drags WILLIAM off stage)

WILLIAM
Monster on the wing. Monster on the wing. Monster on the wing.

JERRY
Can I at least walk you to the rubber escape tube?

BOBBI
Actually, I think I’m gonna run to the restroom and freshen up.

JERRY
Oh. Okay.

BOBBI
It was really nice meeting you though.

JERRY
Yeah. Yeah it was.

BOBBI
Bye.

JERRY
Bye.

(BOBBI walks offstage. JERRY walks the other direction toward the STEWARDESS to exit the plane.)

STEWARDESS
Thank you for flying Trans-Continental. Please fly with us again.

(Lights go down on the plane. BOBBI steps forward and addresses the audience)

BOBBI
I always fall for the wrong men. You know, the dangerous type. I guess the first time it really hit me was that trip to Europe. Our genius tour guide decided that it would be a good idea to visit Transylvania. I don’t know why more of us didn’t speak up and say “Uh…excuse me, but aren’t there vampires in Transylvania?” What did we know, though? We were a bunch of twenty something college students on a semester abroad. At that age, you still think you’re immortal and that the world owes you something. So some of us go out, after nightfall, and we’re drinking and drinking and we wind up at this club filled with all these really gorgeous, pale-faced men with glowing read eyes and I’m thinking “What a bunch of poseurs.” Still, there’s this one guy there. Absolutely beautiful. And I knew he was nothing but trouble, but what could I do? He bought me a drink, nibbled my ear, told me I was the spitting image of mistress that died five hundred years ago. It was seductive. Beautiful. Wonderful.

Well then, of course, everyone in the club freaks out and the vampires start devouring all my friends one by one, and then they turn into vampires until I’m the only one left. I knew that all I had to do was survive until sunrise and they would all burn up or something, because there weren’t enough coffins for all of them. So I ran into this church and sat, curled in a ball, under the shadow of this giant crucifix. And I sat there for what seemed like hours listening to the vampires, there were about twenty of them at this point, scratching at the doors and windows and hissing at me and cursing at me. “You’ll never make it!” one of them shouted. And “Welcome to hell!” and “I’m your worst nightmare” and all of those other things that vampires say. And I sat there waiting for the sun to come up and I thought. “I guess this is the way it’s going to be from now on.” you know? I thought “I guess I better get used to this, because this is the way it’s going to be from now on.”

END OF SCENE I

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