Scene One: Hello Beautiful.
“I don’t know everything, but I’m aware of much” – Mephistopheles.
“Not every rooftop needs a protector.” – Me.
Eddie: (To Himself) It was 2a.m. (Pause) I’m drunk again. I can tell. (Pause) Vomit on my feet. Empty bottles on the floor…so is my body. (Chuckles) Why am I chuckling at that?? My face hurts…a cut perhaps. Must have fallen…again. So, I drag myself upright and to a mirror and shit, that’s ugly. That’s no fall right there. That’s…that’s a fight. Great. No insurance either.
Eddie: (Sighs heavily)
Eddie: (To Himself) A little Iodine will clean this mess up. Won’t help much with the room though. Lorde will have my balls in a vise for this.
Knock at door.
Eddie: (To Himself) Fuck. Who could that be this hour??
Eddie: (To Himself) Oh, come on! Just go the fuck away you piece of shit!
Eddie: (To Himself) I storm over to the door, fist clinched and ready to rock. I rip the door open and launch into my pre-rehearsed spiel.
Eddie: Look, you fuck! I’m gonna turn your insides into origami!
Ashley: Austin. Let me in.
Eddie: (To Himself) Oh. It’s Ash. (Pause) I move aside. She storms through the door and takes a rather defensive posture facing me. I don’t normally get the jitters but…she gives ‘em to me…no matter what…
Eddie: Hello there beautiful!
Eddie: (To Himself) Wrong thing to say. Although, I suppose anything would have been the wrong thing to say right about then. She slugs me. Right in the jaw. S’ok. I deserve it…for something I have done…or will do. My head swirls. Full of alcoholic remnants and confusion…typical…what day is it again? I regain my cool…
Eddie: Look, baby, I know you’re pissed, I understand.
Ashley: You don’t understand shit! Look at my, what the, what the fuck did you do to my apartment Austin?!
Eddie: Uh, not quite sure?
Eddie: I’ll clean it up. (Pause) You off work?
Eddie: How’d ya do?
Ashley: Shitty. $124.
Ashley: On a Saturday night, Austin??
Eddie: Could be worse.
Eddie: (To Himself) Ashley Lorde. Pole dancer at Chicky’s strip club. I met her there two, no three summers ago. Wait. Maybe it was last summer. Either way. Lorde was not exactly tame at heart. Troubled youth with the typical “Daddy” issues. I met her drinking my worries away and deep down, that dame has a heart of gold. Why else would she put up with a slag like me?
Ashley: I need some sleep.
Eddie: I’ll get this place ship-shape. Don’t worry.
Ashley: Where are you going today?
Ashley: Not gonna play poker with those losers again are you?
Eddie: (To Himself) Yes.
Ashley: Good. I worry about you Austin.
Eddie: Shouldn’t. I got it under control.
Ashley: Yeah? Tell that to Big Shirley. You caved in his skull something awful!
Eddie: He made me angry.
Ashley: Yeah, well, you’re not the Incredible Hulk. If he wasn’t some scummy asshole that worked for the wrong people, the cops would have pressed it harder and you’d be in Paradise, doing hard time.
Eddie: (To Himself) Ah, Paradise. We call it that because it’s anything but. It’s Garden City’s main prison and I have a condition. I get angry, I get really strong, I lose control and I…I hurt people. Folks used to say it was because of the vaccines the government gave us as kids. Something was screwy with them. My Ma always thought they ran experiments on us but over time, I learned to control it. Until a few months ago when Big Shirley Franks cheated me at darts. I called a welch a welch but he spat in my face and I crushed his skull with my hand. First time in three years my condition came out and let loose. Cops never looked into it that deeply because Big Shirley was a wanted man. Grand Larceny, theft and a host of assault charges. I kind of did them a favor.
Ashley: Well…if you could ever muster up enough courage to use that little gift of yours for good and not evil…the world might be a better place. (Pause) Wherever you go today…be careful.
Eddie: As always.
Eddie: (To Himself) She left the room and the mess the one standing in front of her and the one in the living room and went to the bedroom. Through the doorway I could see her shadow on the wall. I’m a lucky guy…I guess.
Man 1: You in or out Austin, I ain’t got all day?
Man 2: Off in Never-never land again there mighty mutt?
Eddie: (To Himself) Billy and Willie Lo. Two obnoxious and malodorous Korean fellows. Good to hustle but faster than you so hustle them quickly.
Eddie: I’m in and I’ll raise you $500.
Eddie: (To Himself) High stakes. I love the rush.
Bartender: Hey, Austin!?
Eddie: (To Himself) Tab must be due.
Bartender: There’s a guy here to see you. Says you two go way back.
Eddie: (To Himself) I don’t go way back with anyone. Could be a trap. You owe who I owe what I owe and you’re always looking over your shoulder. (Pause) I eyeball the gent at the bar. Older fellow. Seventies. White hair and white goatee. Long brown trench. Five-o maybe but looks too scholarly. I walk over slowly, apprehensively.
Eddie: Help you?
Locke: Name’s Locke. Malcolm Wolfgang Locke.
Eddie: We go way back, huh?
Locke: Yes, we do. I was your Doctor when you were a child.
Eddie: (To Himself) Huh?
Eddie: Oh yeah?
Eddie: How come I don’t remember you?
Locke: You wouldn’t. You have no memory of your childhood at all.
Eddie: Not true.
Locke: But it is.
Eddie: Buddy, you’re out of your God damned mind.
Locke: Do you remember growing up in Stanton?
Eddie: I grew up right here in the city, pal.
Locke: No, you didn’t.
Eddie: (To Himself) So this geezer whips out a briefcase and rifles through a bunch of papers. He shows me a birth certificate, photos and school records.
Eddie: The hell is this?
Locke: Evidence. You want more proof? Here’s my card. (Long Pause) You were part of a government project. A lot of us were. Experimentation with nuclear products and radioactive frequencies. You’re not alone Mr. Austin. I have everything you need to know at my office and then some.
Eddie: Then some?
Locke: The government tried to manufacture a race of soldier. Invincible and indestructible. They wound up with a lot of oddities with gifted abilities…such as yourself…your strength and all.
Eddie: (To Himself) Maybe my Mother was right?
Locke: Come see me if you want to know the truth…if you feel like doing something with your life other than ulcerating your liver and brawling with fugitive thugs. I can’t say anymore here.
Eddie: It’s a comfortable life.
Locke: You have no idea what is about to happen in this world do you? The people that are involved in this—they go deep, Mr. Austin. You have no idea what comes next do you??
Locke: Joke all you want Mr. Austin but there is a movement under way and not all of its members are planning for world peace. I’d say more but they’re…listening. If they find me—they’ll kill me…
Locke: I trust your instincts because you have them…even if you don’t know you have them. I believe you’ll do the right thing Mr. Austin and when you decide to do it…we’ll be waiting.
Bartender: Everything ok?
Eddie: Yeah, Johnny. Just some crazy whack job trying to sell me life insurance.
Bartender: Fuckin loons. Just like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, eh Austin? (Chortles)
Eddie: Yeah, something like that. They oughta know by now—
Eddie: (To Himself) I ain’t got no life…
Eddie: I’m going home Johnny…here’s a hundred bucks.
Bartender: Oh, the king pays on his tab. Hell has begun to freeze over. You still owe a grand, Eddie!
Eddie: (To Himself) (Reading card) Dr. Malcolm Locke…Doctor of Nuclear Science and Neurophysiology…shit.