Written for the Academy of Bards Hallowe’en Challenge

My thanks to Claudia, Angelrad and Stephanie for the invitation.

I have taken licence with characters from Xena: Warrior Princess as well as actual human beings and classical myths. Enough to get me in trouble in so many ways, but I swear I will make no money for this, nor am I claiming any rights over these characters or persons.

Submitted For Your Approval

by Kamouraskan

INTERIOR: Aphrodite’s, a standard fifties Greek Diner. Walls are blue and white with posters of Greece and seascapes. A row of leather covered wooden booths run alongside the windows, parallel to a stool lined counter. The far end is taken up with round tables covered with blue checked tablecloths, behind which is a full sized copy of Botticelli’s Venus Arising From The Sea on the half shell. Beneath is a sort of altar lit by a small flickering candle. Scattered below it on the floor, are various trinkets; offerings to the Goddess. The sound of a jack hammer in the street outside dominates, but underneath Come On A My House by Rosemary Clooney plays on the juke box. A middle-aged woman (LETTY) is working behind the counter, singing along with it, occasionally rushing into the kitchen to check on the food. Two surly, beefy THUGS, sitting in a booth are the only customers.

DOOR OPENS, and the bell attached to it announces a customer (BUDDY). Young, well dressed in suit and tie. He walks in, strides familiarly to one of the corner tables and leans against the altar while digging for his cigarette package. Camera cuts to show his leg knocking a large jewel out of pile where it rests against his foot.)

LETTY: Hey Buddy! Give me a minute and I’ll see if I can find you a place to sit. (She gestures ironically at the empty booths and tables)

BUDDY: Don’t worry, I think my usual place is still free. (He waves to the empty table beside him.) Don’t let me tear you away from the crowds.

LETTY: (trying to whisper over the noise) Them? I think they’re killing time waiting for a chance to stiff me. I doubt if they’ve worked honest since the war.

BUDDY: Lot of people came out a bit strange, Letty.

LETTY: It’s been over five years. You were over there, you got a good job now.

BUDDY: Yeah, I gotta great job. (Lights a cigarette.)

LETTY: Whatsammata now?

BUDDY: It was bad enough when the station had me writing the copy for this quack remedy, but now they want me to write the testimonials too.

LETTY: Testimonials?

BUDDY: ‘I’m a housewife in Oklahoma and thanks to Dr. Nostrum’s Cure-All, I no longer suffer from arthritis and my fractured pelvis is as good as new.’

LETTY: Can you do that? Isn’t that against the law?

BUDDY: No, that’s my job. I lie for a living. (Pause) Look I’m sorry, could we start again? (Rock at his feet glows slightly but no one notices.)

LETTY: Hey Buddy! Give me a minute and I’ll see if I can find you a place to sit.

(Buddy laughs thinking she’s joking, but looks for his cigarette and finds that it has disappeared. He hesitates, looks about confused for a moment, but then absent-mindedly, lights another.)

OFF SCREEN NARRATOR: Meet a man who seems to have been caught in a skip of time. A man who once thought of himself as a writer, but now only writes commercials. Instead of the twinkling of stars, he has settled for describing the sparkle of bathroom floors. A man whose belief in his or any other magic has diminished as surely as his confidence in his own talent. For the purposes of our story, we’ll call him Buddy. And he’s about to rediscover that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in his philosophy, especially in… the Xenaverse.

BUDDY: (Pointing at the chair tucked into the shrine) I’ll take my usual place right here, if Aphrodite doesn’t mind.

LETTY: (coming over, wiping her brow) I’m sorry, I can move those things out of the way. You know George. When things go good, he gives an offering. When things go bad, he gives more offerings.

BUDDY: (Looking at pile of glass and statuaries) I take it things aren’t going so good?

LETTY: It would be better if the people doing the street work would finish sooner instead of later. That greasy spoon across the street, I heard they gave a hundred dollars to make them go faster. But George, he says, ‘I came to this country so I not have to pay money for special treatment.’ So we have no sidewalk for a month, and across the street, they have customers all day.
BUDDY: Well, right now you have me, and my wife’ll be joining us in an hour. I just wanted some time to work first.

LETTY: So you’ll have some…

BUDDY: …Spanikopita, and a coffee

LETTY: No Cream

BUDDY: Took a lot of time, but I’m glad you’re finally trained properly.

LETTY: Who trained who, heh?

(Jukebox switches to the number one of the moment, Too Young. Door rings again and street noise comes in with large burly man in a police uniform (AL). Two men in corner booth tense at sight of police)

AL: ‘Lo Letty

LETTY: You’re here early, Al. The usual?

AL: Actually, I’m sort of here on business.

LETTY: Personal or official?

AL: Not sure yet. Is George around?

LETTY: Nope he’s delivering food. He says, ‘if they won’t come here, we go to them.’

AL: He going to be back soon? I was hoping he could help me out.

LETTY: You need help? Better clear it with me first, you know that.

AL: We found this young woman wandering around, bit of a mystery, really. Got no ID, handing out a drawing to people on the street, but doesn’t seem to speak English. One of the boys thought she might be Greek

LETTY: That a criminal offence now, Bobby?

AL: Don’t start on me, Letty. She seems like she may be a bit slow in the head, and she dresses cheap, probably homeless, but she had a big wad of cash on her. More than I make. Maybe she came to it honestly, maybe not. So I thought maybe George could talk to her and find out what’s what.

(THUGS in corner booth had relaxed, but the words ‘wad of cash’ make them perk up again)

LETTY: Where is she now?

AL: She’s waiting in the patrol car

LETTY: Well, don’t that beat all? Have no money, and they pull you in for vagrancy. Have money and they lock you in a police car.

AL: Letty, it ain’t like that!

LETTY: You go out there this minute and bring that poor woman in. She can wait in here and be treated civilised until George gets back. He won’t be but another ten minutes.

(AL retreats)

LETTY: (serves Buddy) I swear, George is right. If you don’t watch them every minute, we’d have Stalin running things and not notice the difference.

BUDDY: Al’s alright, Letty. Give him a break.

(The stone at his foot glows again, and engrossed in his writing, doesn’t notice that everything and everyone has frozen, and that the street sounds have stopped. Door rings, as all motion begins again. Too Young finishes, Patty Page clicks on. AL appears, behind him is a young woman. Slight, with short blond hair, holding her hands over her ears to block out sound of street work. Her clothes are ragged and too big for her)

LETTY: Now, aren’t you a cute thing? What can I get you?

AL: Told you, Letty. She don’t speak English, and she seems pretty addled minded. We only found out she could talk at all was because when we put her in the car, she started yelling when we began to move. Like she’d never been in a car before. Fact, I don’t think she’s ever been in the city. She keeps looking up at the buildings, very on edge too. Should have seen her jump when the phone at the station house went.

LETTY: Well, she can just sit here and relax for a moment before you start beating her with a hose.

AL: Letty!

LETTY: (to girl) Onoma?

(Girl only looks bewildered,)

LETTY: Maybe I said it wrong

AL: Or maybe she’s not Greek?

(The GIRL looks past LETTY to see BUDDY at the table writing. She walks up to him. A little nervous, BUDDY smiles)

BUDDY: Is she dangerous, Al?

AL: Not’s so far as I can tell

BUDDY: That’s not quite the reassurance I was looking for, Al. (to Girl) Hi!

(GIRL smiles, and points to notepad.)

BUDDY: You want this?

(GIRL shakes her head. Imitates writing.)

BUDDY: (looks to Letty and Bobby) Yes, I’m writing.

(GIRL points to herself)

BUDDY: You want to write? (GIRL points to him, mimics writing, and then points to herself.) Oh, you write. You’re a writer. Really. Well, I’m not a writer. (She looks blank, so he mimics her writing, and shakes head.) No writer.

(GIRL leans down to look into his eyes, and he sees intelligence and compassion. GIRL smiles sadly and nods, points to herself.) You’re not a writer, too?

AL: I told you she was addled.

BUDDY: No, I think she means she doesn’t write, but she used to. (He mimics writing, then makes a stop motion, then points to her. She looks sad and nods.) Don’t look so gloomy. There are worse tragedies. Better to know what you are, than to keep dreaming about stuff that isn’t going to happen.

AL: You’re seeing stuff that isn’t there. She’s retarded or something.

BUDDY: Says you. (GIRL points to chair as if for an invitation to sit with him.) Ummmm…(nervously.) I’m married. Married? (Makes sign of hand clasping. GIRL smiles and again points to her own chest.) You too? Well, then I guess it’s okay. Sit on down, then. We non-writers have got to stick together.

(GIRL sits, smiling.)

AL: Well, maybe you’re as nuts as she is, but you seem to have gotten more out her in a few minutes than we have in the last couple of hours. Guess I’ll have that coffee, Letty. And maybe you might rustle her up something? I heard her stomach growling over the sound of that jack hammer.

LETTY: Well, maybe there’s hope for you yet, Al. One number five coming up with all the trimmings. (Pats GIRL on shoulder and leaves)

AL: (waiting until LETTY is out of earshot) Well, if she’s not Greek, then George won’t be able to help us, and I need to know where she got all this cash.

BUDDY: How much are we talking about?

(AL pulls out an envelope filled with a wad of bills. Men in the corner booth see it)

AL: I counted one thousand US dollars.

(GIRL reaches for cash, but AL shakes head and lays it on the table.)

BUDDY: If it’s hers, then she can buy all of us 10,000 coffees.

AL: I wanna know if she came by it legally. (To GIRL) Now where’d that come from? (Indicates the money. BUDDY taps the bills, and points to her with a questioning look. GIRL points to her mouth, imitates spitting, and then rubs her fingers together. Both men look shocked.)

BUDDY: Well, you asked.

AL: An innocent thing like her? Who would take advantage like that?

BUDDY: (looking at the large stack of bills) And so many times?

(GEORGE, middle-aged, burly, short man in a short-sleeved shirt enters. Letty waves and continues to work on meal in kitchen. Sees Al, BUDDY and GIRL and strolls over.)

GEORGE: Now who is this nice child?

AL: This ‘nice child’, seems to be in the service industry.

BUDDY: No. I don’t believe it.

AL: Why not?

BUDDY: Because I don’t think she’s feeble minded or immoral. You can see the intelligence in her eyes.

AL: Probably how she made so much. George, can you talk to her? We found her wandering around and thought she might be one of your people

(GEORGE speaks to her in Greek, and at first there are a only a few hesitant words exchanged, then more. GEORGE: seems confused.)

GEORGE: The language, it is Greek, but I only recognise some of the words. The way she speaks it, it remind me of… old texts. Homer, very old texts. Maybe… (He speaks to the girl for a moment. She begins nodding) I ask her if she teach herself to read. From Homer, Sophocles (GIRL says something) Yes of course, Herodotus too. She must be raised in small village away from cities. There are still such places. But how did she come here?

AL: Don’t ask me, ask her!

(LETTY brings in food. There is the sound of a stomach growling.

LETTY: My goodness! Eat, child!

GIRL asks George a question.)

GEORGE: ‘Thank you’

GIRL: (gesturing to food, then to LETTY) Thank you

(She looks towards the envelope of money, but Buddy shakes his head. She moves her tongue a bit and spits out a small object. Wipes it carefully on the napkin, and gives it to Letty. We see that it is a very small coin.)

GEORGE(in wonder): Mouth money. Dinars. That’s how the ancients kept their money.

AL: Oh. Are they worth anything?

GEORGE: It looks like a real dinar, but it’s newly minted.

AL:But if she she had a lot of them…(To GIRL) Is that how you got the money? GEORGE translates


AL: Who bought them?

(She puts out her hand for the pad, and then when BUDDY gives it to her, draws a picture of three balls.)

GEORGE: The pawnbroker two streets over, has coins in his window. I’ll bet she saw them and managed to make a deal.

AL: I guess…

LETTY(holding coin in her hand): Now this is not a criminal, Al.

AL: Alright, I’ll admit that this hundred dollar a minute hooker is beginning to look like a someone who put stuff in hock.

BUDDY: Uh huh

AL: But I still have to run over there and check this out. Do you think you could keep her here, just to keep her company, until I get back?

BUDDY: What about the money, if it’s hers, honestly…?

AL: I suppose I can trust the four of you.

LETTY: Now, Al. You can’t be leaving this temptation here with us. You know we could really use some extra cash.

AL: Letty, I think I know each of you well enough to know it’s safe. That money either belongs to the police or that girl, and I don’t think you would cheat either.

BUDDY (examining coin) You say this isn’t the real thing? Maybe it’s just cleaned up?

GEORGE: Cleaning would lose its value, and if a person was foolish enough to do that, they’d never get the die marks so fresh.

BUDDY: You know a lot of about this stuff?

GEORGE: Of course! We Greeks sometimes feel as though we are drowning in our own history. (He repeats this to the girl who nods. He then speaks slowly to the girl, repeating the name George. LETTY understands and points to herself saying ‘Letty’. BUDDY follows suit)

GIRL: Gabrielle

(GIRL speaks quickly to George, who seems to ask her to slow down. With some frustration she does so, and then brings out a drawing to show to George.)

BUDDY: So this is what she was showing to people? What is it supposed to be?

GEORGE: She says it is some sort of… treasure? No Jewel. Larger than a man’s fist. I am asking her where would we have seen this.

(GABRIELLE responds.)

GEORGE: She says it would have… appeared, just appeared. But it is a powerful… I do not know, I think, magic.

BUDDY(To GABRIELLE): I thought you said no more writing. No stories.

(George translates. GABRIELLE replies.)

GEORGE: She says, she has lost her own stories. But she can tell you this one.

LETTY: A story! Coffee all around?

(GEORGE asks GABRIELLE, and she seems to demur.)

GEORGE: She’d like some tea.

LETTY: See! She’s as normal as you or me. (LETTY grabs some cups and once they are all served, Gabrielle begins to speak, as George haltingly translates. As the story progresses, he becomes more sure of himself.)

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: Now this story is about magic and the Gods of long ago…

BUDDY: Oh…Geez…

LETTY: What?

BUDDY: Why does there have to be magic? Why can’t we have a story about ordinary people, trying to work and survive? (GEORGE translates, GABRIELLE shakes her head.)

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: All stories are magic. They come from a place outside of our day and night, our life, even when they are about our… daily life.

BUDDY: What does that mean?

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: Our bodies… they eat, sleep, they work. But stories, they are part of the… dreams? The beliefs, the wishes that are more than blood and flesh and bone.

BUDDY: Yes, but you said this story is about magic and long ago Gods. I don’t want hear about fairies at the bottom of the garden, or that Love is eternal, that a chance moment in time can forever change your life. (GEORGE translates. GABRIELLE shakes her head)

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: But all those things are true.

BUDDY (Rolls his eyes) Yeah, right...fine.

GABRIELLE/GEORGE:I know that they are true, and some part of you does too.

BUDDY: Not those of us who have grown up.

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: Would that be about the time that you stopped writing?

BUDDY: (silent)

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: See, writing is magic, and all magic lives in belief. May I continue?"

(LETTY returns and fills each cup before sitting down eagerly.)

GEORGE/GABRIELLE: In a…time, long ago, a time of Gods and warlords, there existed a… jewel of great power. It was of time, and beyond it, and the person who controlled it could control the movement of time.

LETTY: What does that mean?

BUDDY: It was a time machine, right?

GEORGE/GABRIELLE: (Nods) It had been used and abused by both Gods and man and despite being destroyed by Heracles when it was used to save him from the vortex

BUDDY: Hercules and the Vortex. Must have missed that one.

LETTY: Let her tell the story!

GEORGE/GABRIELLE: It reappeared in a temple to Aphrodite where it was given as an offering. The Goddess recognised it, but was loath to destroy it because she was unsure when it had come from.

LETTY: When… it had come from?

BUDDY: So it’s okay for you to interrupt?

LETTY: Shush!

GEORGE/GABRIELLE: Aphrodite knew that it had been destroyed, but the stone could travel between time and place. So that this might be the stone before it had been used to save Hercules, and if she were to destroy it, that might set the world back on the path where Hercules never escaped, and all that he had done never … happened?

LETTY: I don’t understand.

BUDDY. Can I try? I used to love time paradoxes, but I don’t remember them in Greek Mythology. Aphrodite found the stone from before it made the changes. (LETTY looks blank.) What I think she’s saying is that we travel on time like the water, but this stone…(He starts again) Imagine a pond. You throw this stone into the water and the ripples from it slowly spread. But the stone may pop up in any place, even beyond where the ripples have spread.

GEORGE/GABRIELLE: That was very good.

BUDDY: It’s a poor story that needs the audience to explain it

LETTY: Would you stop being mean and let the girl tell her story?

GEORGE/GABRIELLE: No, he described it… very well. So, afraid to destroy it, but despairing that Gods and Man might come to take it, fearing that her temples might be endangered and not wanting the stress…

BUDDY: Did she say Aphrodite didn’t want the stress? (LETTY glares at him. BUDDY subsides.) Nevermind

GEORGE/GABRIELLE: So she hid it by transporting it to a mortal that she felt could be trusted with such power. A man who had proven himself immune to the greatest of earthly authority. But once it was gone, she found that she had made another mistake.

BUDDY: This Aphrodite is a bit more of a flake than we are used to.

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: (With a slight grin) She can be, but she often means well

LETTY: So what was this mistake?

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: She’d forgotten that the stone could travel to any point in time, and her instructions were not very clear. Instead of going to the place she had planned, it went far into the future, where this man no longer existed and so it found another land and time. Now as the Gods are forbidden by Zeus to travel in time, she was forced to ask a mortal. She choose a friend, a Queen of the Amazons. For many reasons, but because the stone would most affect her best friend, her soul… I’m sorry, (Gabrielle closes her eyes, and then recovers) her friend that would be most affected by the loss of Heracles

BUDDY: Okay, so where did the stone end up?

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: As I said, Aphrodite had sent it to a mortal who had turned down all worldly power. He had become Dictator of Rome in a crisis, and when the crisis was resolved by him in a less than a moon, he had spurned the power and returned to his farm, and his temples.

GEORGE slaps his forehead: Cincinattus.


BUDDY: Okay. I get it finally. You were right, Al. I was wrong.

(The three stare at the girl until BUDDY clears his throat.)

BUDDY: We’re supposed to believe this story is not a story, correct? Because here you are. With freshly minted dinars in your mouth like the ancient Greeks, speaking some form of ancient language…

LETTY: Oh, dear. (LETTY looks slightly disappointed )

(Silence except for Frank Sinatra singing while the workmen outside pound away.)

BUDDY: Is this where she got her money, from people who believed this… nonsense? George, did you put her up to this?

LETTY: George is an honest man! (GEORGE is translating furiously, while GABRIELLE motions with her hands and shakes her head.)

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: I know it sounds unbelievable,

BUDDY: Oh, come on. That’s what you want us to think? You’re here, from ancient Greece? Queen of the Amazons, looking for a magic stone, somewhere in Cincinnati, USA. On a mission to find this stone to return it to your good friend, the ancient Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite.

LETTY: Dear? Amazons were big women, you know, six feet dark savages.

BUDDY: Gosh Letty. Remember? She drinks tea, A sign of sanity if ever I knew one.

(GABRIELLE stares at them, accepting their disbelief. Her lips tighten.)

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: Do not help me. I will find it. It must be here. If only I could sort out where…

LETTY: (Trying to change the subject) So this Aphrodite, did she look like her picture?

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: What do you mean?

LETTY: Aphrodite, here. (points to the Botticelli print)

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: That’s supposed to be Aphrodite?(Giggles) Oh she would hate that. She doesn’t like talking about how she was …born. And she’s not easily embarrassed…

BUDDY: You know Aphrodite that well.

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: She’s called me friend. So has Heracles


(GEORGE shrugs.)

GABRIELLE becomes excited and begins to make gestures. George tries to slow her down as he translates)

GEORGE: She says a moment ago we knew who this Heracles was. She says that means ripples in time have arrived here and she is running out of time.

GEORGE/GABRIELLE: Wait. Is this a shrine to Aphrodite? Because, that’s where it was sent. To Cincinnatus’ shrine. And then the stone…(As George translates, she moves the table and ALL see it. BUDDY reaches to his foot and picks it up. GABRIELLE trembles slightly, and she puts her hands out carefully.)

BUDDY: Gabrielle? Or whatever your name may be. I don’t know what your con is. But this is not a magic jewel. It can’t stop time and space and allow you to go back to ancient Greece. You are not the Amazon Queen. We’re all grown up here and we know that there are no fairies at the bottom of this garden. Love is not eternal, and a chance moment in time cannot forever change your life. Go find someone else to buy your fantasy.

(GABRIELLE listens as what BUDDY says is translated. Then looks at him sadly.) GABRIELLE/GEORGE: Then just please, give me my stone. I will leave you with the money… But you should think for just one moment…. How much happier you would be, what it would be like to live in a world where all that might be possible.

(Suddenly, the two THUGS from the booth are behind them)

THUG ONE: I think WE’LL take the rock, lady. AND that cash on the table.

(Gabrielle and the others turn to look at them, and one has a gun.)

BUDDY: (sarcastically) Just in case you didn’t know, oh Great Queen, that’s a gun. It shoots bullets that can kill people.

(GEORGE nervously translates.)

THUG (Laughs): It does do that.

GABRIELLE/GEORGE: But it has to be pointing at the person, right?

(BUDDY Nods.)

THUG ONE: YEAH. Like this (Presses gun against GABRIELLE’S head) Ain’t that darn educational? (Gabrielle looks and sees the fear in everyone’s eyes)

THUG TWO: No one be a hero. Because maybe it would be better for us if there weren’t any witnesses.(THUG ONE cocks the pistol)

BUDDY: Hold everything for just a minute!

(The stone in his hand glows and everything stops. All sound and, movement. BUDDY stares at the stone in his hand, then at the frozen figures around him in the sudden dead silence. He stands, runs his free hand through his dark hair, and then waves it in front of George’s eyes, who is frozen looking directly where he had been sitting. He breathes heavily for a moment.)

BUDDY: Just a minute…? (He looks at watch, but we see it too has stopped.) He reaches over and carefully tries to pry the gun out of the hands of the THUG, but the grip is too strong, or he’s afraid the gun might fire.

BUDDY clenches the stone and closes his eyes and says as if wishing:) Hold everything for two more minutes!

(But the stone does not glow. He stares at it aghast.)

BUDDY: What? It has to recharge? (Pause) Okay. Let’s say 30 seconds has passed… twenty-nine seconds… twenty-eight … twenty-seven …

(all while counting down, he gets behind the thug, and begins swivelling him away from Gabrielle. The gun moves until it’s pointing at THUG Two.

BUDDY: ten… nine… eight… (He starts trying to tip over THUG ONE when suddenly he come to life. All motion begins again. The drill outside is heard again. Music plays. The people frozen at the table who were staring at the seat BUDDY was in, now look up to the spot he is standing. The thug shakes loose from Buddy's hold and punches the back of his head and BUDDY falls to the ground. Everyone seems stunned by the jump of positions, except GABRIELLE. She pulls two small pitchforks from the inside of her boots, hidden by her dress. The small urchin has suddenly become a confident warrior, and she sweeps her weapon around and pulls the gun out of the hand of THUG ONE as he is still turning. Her legs knock his from out from under him and he crashes to the floor. THUG TWO tries to grab her from behind, but she grabs his hands, flips him over her shoulders and flings him across the room. GEORGE begins to move to stop THUG ONE from getting up, but BUDDY, still on the ground shouts at him.

BUDDY: Stay back! I think the Queen has this under control.

LETTY is enthralled as Gabrielle jumps over the THUG ONE while striking him down again, then spins and waits for THUG TWO to rush her. She bends down as he races towards her and picks the huge man onto her back. LETTY anticipates that he’s going to be tossed onto the main dish cupboard, and closes her eyes. GABRIELLE sees this and drops him on his head. Even this causes a dish to shake loose from the pile, and Gabrielle cartwheels over to catch it before it strikes the ground. Beside her THUG TWO rises groggily, and GABRIELLE uses her free hand and the butt of her pitchfork on the top of his head. It has only taken a minute, and both men are unconscious on the floor.

LETTY: The Queen of the Amazons. Holy Moly!

GABRIELLE carefully places the dish on the stack, and sheaths her pitchforks. She helps BUDDY to stand and points at the stone in his hand, grinning. BUDDY blushes.

BUDDY: Yes, I used the damn thing, it’s for real. But we need to talk. (He looks to GEORGE, who is still stunned from the fight. BUDDY looks at GABRIELLE, frustrated.

BUDDY: This thing can go to any time or place? (He looks at the stone still in his hands, then Gabrielle) Then in all the billions of possibilities, there must be a safe place where we can talk. (The stone begins to glow, and he grabs at GABRIELLE. Both vanish.)

(BUDDY and GABRIELLE are now alone. Standing in a single blue spotlight, with mist about them. There is no indication how large the space they are in is.)

GABRIELLE: Where are we?

BUDDY: I asked it to take us to a safe place where we could talk.

GABRIELLE: For a man without any imagination, that was pretty good.

BUDDY: My imagination just got a jump start.

GABRIELLE: No, I think you have to have a certain kind of mind to work these things out. Why did you stop writing?

BUDDY: It was like a door had closed on me

GABRIELLE: You can unlock that door with the key of imagination

BUDDY: I told you, even I was able to write again, I’d want to write about the everyday, the Joe on the street.

GABRIELLE: And they can’t have magic in their lives?

BUDDY: (chuckles) I admit, I’m reconsidering that idea (There is a long pause as they both look at the stone in BUDDY’s hand)

GABRIELLE: You have to give me that stone.

BUDDY: Why would I want to do that? (begins pacing)You don’t think I have at least enough imagination to figure out what I could do with this? I could travel through time and find ancient treasures. Or just stop time and walk into any bank in the world. What happens, if I do keep it?

GABRIELLE: It doesn’t belong here. If this is the stone that saved Hercules, then the changes in time will sweep through your time. The darkness I told you about will spread. Right to this era.

BUDDY: Darkness spread to this era? You haven’t been around here quite long enough, have you? We just finished a war against a madman who tried to rule the world. He and his men took millions of innocent people, millions, and killed them by the trainload because of their intolerance. Millions more died fighting for and against him. Beauty and art were crushed under years of horrendous battles. And did we learn anything? Oh yeah! Now we have weapons that can kill a million people in a second, and our worst enemies will have it soon. Together we can destroy all life in a few hours. How can anything be darker than that?

GABRIELLE: That darkness was created by men, and women. You have to believe that there is a natural balance… that there is always good, always hope in all things. That mankinds evil can always be stopped by the acts of mankind. People working for the greater good. The darkness I’m talking about has no such hope in it. There is no balancing good. You have to give me that stone.

BUDDY: What happens to you, you personally, if I don’t give it back?

GABRIELLE: I lose… everything. My balance. And if you must know, Aphrodite saw me being crucified.

BUDDY: On a cross?

GABRIELLE: Yes, but… That’s not important.

BUDDY: How can you say that’s not important? My God!

GABRIELLE: What’s important is the Greater Good, my friend and all the things she and I accomplish. The people we helped. Whatever our end, we’ll meet again in another life.

BUDDY: You sound very sure of that.

GABRIELLE: I am. I’ve seen it.

BUDDY: Ten minutes ago I might have been more sceptical.

GABRIELLE: That’s because you found something more important than the stone.

BUDDY: (smiles ruefully) Maybe… So I just give you this, and you pop off home?

GABRIELLE: I’ll send you back first. And that money, it was to pay for the stone when I found it. Maybe you could give it to George and Letty?

BUDDY: Of course. But there are so many questions I want to ask you…

GABRIELLE: There’s no time. (They both laugh at the unintentional pun) There’s a certain shop owner, he’d like this, (Hands BUDDY a silver bracelet) Maybe you could give it to him for me, and keep the change for yourself?

BUDDY: (shakes head) No, it’s alright.

GABRIELLE: Writing isn’t always a good way to raise a family. And you saved my life, and gave up real power… Please, take the money. I think what you write might be important, and it’s my gift to give.

BUDDY: (Accepting the bracelet and handing over the stone)).Thank you

GABRIELLE holds the stone tightly, preparing to send him back) .Remember, stories are magic.

BUDDY: Some people are as well (Smiles, and GABRIELLE does as well)

GABRIELLE: Yes, they are. (Kisses his cheek)

BUDDY is back in the Diner. Both George and LETTY rush him, asking questions when AL enters. He stands looking about him is confusion.

AL: What the heck?

LETTY: Well finally! If you’d been here none of this stuff would have happened. Now can you at least take these… these,… things out of here? I mean Really! Try to run a decent place…

AL: George? What’s going on? Where’s the girl?

GEORGE: These men, they attacked us and try to steal the envelope.

AL: You willing to press charges?

GEORGE: You bet! (AL pulls out his gun and cuffs)

AL: Can you call down to the station for me? Tell’em to send another car and be ready for some guests

LETTY: Who is going to pay for this?

BUDDY: Actually, Gabrielle said to be sure you kept the money. She did give it to you, remember?

AL: Someone going to tell me what happened to the girl?

BUDDY: Do you need to talk to her, AL?

GEORGE: No wanted circulars for her and the money was hers. I talked to the pawnbroker. He says that the coins were genuine, and in amazing condition. His very words. Also, she sold him one half of a pair of bracelets, and he begged me to ask her for the other half. He’s willing to pay as much for the match as he did for all the other stuff combined.

(BUDDY fingers the silver piece in his hands.)

AL: So what happened to the girl? BOTH GEORGE and LETTY look to Buddy.

BUDDY: She went… home

AL: And did she get back safely?

BUDDY: Well, I don’t know. George. What can you tell me of Heracles?

GEORGE: (confused)You call him Hercules. Son of Zeus, the 12 Labours, (BUDDY waves at him to stop.)

BUDDY: (Big smile) She got home fine, Al. (One of the THUGS groans and AL is distracted and begins to cuff them. To change the subject, BUDDY asks): So what are you going to do with the money?

LETTY: Pay our bills!

GEORGE: We close and make a proper nice restaurant. No more booths. With candles on tables and maybe a place for musicians. Right?

LETTY: Or we could buy a better car and keep doing the deliveries.

GEORGE: We’ll talk.

LETTY: You bet we will. (The THUGS are led out by Al and another cop. LETTY smiles at them and holds open the door.) Don’t come again!

BUDDY: Now that it’s all cleaned up, I think this place will be just perfect for my wife and I tonight. Do I need to make a reservation yet?

GEORGE: You have special plans?

BUDDY: Something we’ve been talking about, but now I think it’s time to do more than just talk. I think we’re moving to New York.

GEORGE: Why? What is there?

BUDDY: Television, George! That huge maw is going need to lots and lots of plays and that means lots and lots of writers. And guess what? I am one. Maybe we won’t leave today, but now that we have some money…

GEORGE: So you found your dreams again?

BUDDY: Yes, and don’t think I’m going to forget what happened here. You make sure, if you come to New York, you better look up the Rod Serlings, okay?

(BUDDY and GEORGE shake hands and laugh.)

OFF STAGE NARRATOR: Perhaps Mr. Serling based his decision in that Cincinnati diner on other forces, on other dreams. Perhaps he was not directly inspired by an ancient Greek Muse that day in 1951. But for those of us who believe in the possibility of Fairies, Love and even ancient Greeks as muses, it can all be quite possible… in the Xenaverse


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