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A Friend in Need
by Charles M. Bonanno
Charles M. Bonanno -- all rights reserved

Warning: Pure dialogue to follow.

>, <, #, *, %, &. Symbols used to designate characters as they take turns speaking. This should make the story more readable.

Multiple symbols on two or more lines used to indicate a break in the dialogue and/or the passage of a short period of time.

> Yo, Mate. Telephone.

>Yo, Mate! Telephone!


<Wh... wh...what?

>You've got a phone call!

<Go away! I'm still sleeping! The Sun hasn't even come up yet!

>There's a long distance phone call on hold for ya.

<Are you deaf or something? Go away or else!

>Fine by me, Governor! No skin off my nose. It's not like I'm gonna miss a call from my agent.

<Marty? Shit! What's he want now?

>Well... you going to take the call or what? I've got to finish setting up the cameras for the first shoot.

<Fuck! Just don't stand there! Patch it into my voder wireless.

>Hello? Hello? I can hear breathing. Is that you, Theo?

<Morning, Marty.

>Is that all you've got to say for yourself, 'Morning, Marty'?

<Ah... how's the weather in L.A.?

>You idiot! Are you out of your freaking mind?

<Geeze! What I do now?

>What haven't you done is more like it! Do you have any idea how much trouble you're causing?

<Who... me?

>Yes... you! And cut the dumb act! Just because you look like an animal doesn't mean you get to act like one! I know you've got a brain; I've seen the X-rays! If it weren't for me that Aussie Prime Minister, Whatshisname, would be picking out the best spot on his wall to mount your head by now!

<That was an accident! That cheap cologne of his burnt my nose like acid! What's he do... bathe in the stuff?

>But did you have to drench him in snot on live television? Their general elections are next week, and, because of you, he's the laughing stock of the entire country!

<I'm sorry. And I did apologize in private afterwards. You want me to go see him and do it again? I could climb into one of the prop trucks and get a stagehand to drive me down there. If I leave this evening after the last shoot, I should be able to get back before things start up again Monday morning. I've heard Canberra is beautiful this time of year. I'd really like to go see it.

>Sure. You do that. Not only would the Australian authorities deport your butt, the studio would default on a five hundred thousand dollar security bond! You know you're not supposed to leave the shoot site!

<Wow! Five hundred g's! So how come my contract is so...?

>Oh, yeah. Speaking of contracts. After they kick your tail out of the country, they'd have the legal right to garnish your contract to Hell-and-Back for any damage you caused! Where'd my fifteen percent, and Sue's new support checks, going to come from if you repeat that wild animal act of yours in another city?

<Aren't you ever gonna let me forget that? Didn't I pay to get those cars and that city bus repaired? It's not like I had any choice in the matter, Marty. How'd I know what'd happen when the only female Scab of my kind in a thousand square miles came within scenting range?

And it's not like Sue didn't do her fair share of damage too. She must've taken out every street sign and traffic light between Melrose Avenue and Grauman's Mann's Chinese Theater before we ran into each other. If you check that video you'll see that... Hey! What ya say? New? No! Don't tell me! Not again!

>Yep! Congratulations, Daddy! Times six!

<Damn! You're enjoying this, aren't ya? Another six?

>That's right! Although, like they say, it's probably to soon to start counting our chickens before they hatch. Sue's motherly instincts probably won't let the docs get close enough to check for a month or so, if history repeats itself. I pity anyone unlucky enough to get within her line-of-sight before then.

<Damn! Six more! But we only did it that one time!

>Yeah, that's about right. One time that lasted for three whole days!

<Damn! What the heck am I suppose to do now, Marty? Tell me!

>Don't yell at me! I didn't create SCABS! Didn't that two-legged roach doc warn you that a single mating could last several breeding cycles? But who knew? Even he was surprised that you two actually managed to reproduce. What did he say were the odds.... a gazillion to one? Mother Nature can be a real mother sometimes!

<How's Sue doing?

>She's fine. And the kids are growing like weeds. Little Sue said her first word yesterday.

<She did? That's fantastic! I haven't talked to Sue in over a month, you know.

>Why's that? I thought you two were inseparable.

<She's still ticked off that I didn't tell her about the video the studio shot that night. And she hasn't let me get within a mile of the compound since that jerk Steve Irwin played a clip of us.... doing it... on his friggin' show! She can be so hardheaded sometimes!

>Where'd she think the money for a thousand acres of prime Florida swampland came from? Surely she knows where you'd all be living if you didn't have it. Gilligan's island it ain't!

<Don't ya think I haven't tried to tell her that? You're my agent, why don't you go over there and....?

>That's rich! Let me get this right. You want me to confess to her that it was my idea to mass market a video of you two screwing like bunnies in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard? You're not getting me killed that easy! Our contract still has nine years to go!

<Can't blame a guy for trying, can ya?

>You say something, Theo?

<Nah, just mumbling to myself. By the way, what did Little Sue say?

>Let me check. Hang on. I know I wrote it down here someplace. Okay, here it is. Hungry.

<Hungry? That was her first word?

>According to your nearest neighbor it was. Oh, and thanks for reminding me. We're still trying to figure out how she got past the electrified fence, but you now owe old Mc Travis four grand for the barn door she destroyed and that cow she ate. Healthy appetite for a one year old, don't you think?

<Don't remind me! Why'd you think I took this damned job? I'm going broke trying to keep 'em all feed! And, what's worse, what I'm doing over here isn't even real acting. I'm a damned special effect!

>That's show biz... and speaking business. Can't you behave on the set? Millie Vanillie sent a formal complaint to the actor's guild about you.

<What are those two screwballs up to now?

>They're accusing you of assault with intent to commit grave bodily harm.

<Ya can't pin that one on me! They started it! I've got witnesses!

>That's not what they say.

<Ya gonna take their word over mine? I'm getting sick and tired of those cretaceous ankle bitters! They spend half their time watching those damned Spielberg movies, and the other half following me around like my shadow.

>What's wrong with that? You're all extremely high degree animorph Scabs. Shouldn't you feel comfortable around each other?

<Comfortable? Comfortable! Have you ever taken a good look at those guys, Marty? They ambush me at least twice a week. Those tiny teeth and claws hurt!

>So that why you...

<That's right. That's why I punted the pair of 'em across the set yesterday. And I'll do far worse if they ever bite me again!

>Don't worry. I'll take care of it. But what about...?

<Let me guess. My old bowling team wants me to captain the new season?

>Very funny! That I'd like to see!

<So what else do ya got on your little list of complaints?

>Little? It's longer than my arm!


>Theo? Are you still there?

<Mmmmm! Go ahead... I can hear ya.

>What's that crunching sound? What are you doing?

<Mmmmm! Eating breakfast.

>What breakfast? Aren't you supposed to be on a diet? Until the docs say otherwise, you're suppose to have only one meal in the afternoon.

<Mmmmm! Leftovers.

>You? Leftovers? Like I'm going to believe that! Landis is complaining. You're getting fat!

<Nah! You know how the camera puts weight on ya. And those eggheads from NYC said Sue and I were perfect adult-sized specimens of our gennie ... getrotin... genonight?

>That's genotype.

<What you said! I'm just big boned.

>Sure... and the Martian Flu is the common cold! Where'd you find something to eat in the middle of nowhere?

<Around. You know, here and there. Mmmmm.... I'm done!


<Yes, Marty?

>The Australian Animal Conservation society is recording a massive drop in kangaroo and koala populations in your area. Would you happen to have any idea why?

<Nope. Not a clue. Sorry.

>That's good. I'd hate to see you get hurt by mistake. The government is sending in armed hunters to track down whatever's responsible. And accidents do happen. Word to the wise... got me?

<Got ya! But don't let me hold you back. Weren't you saying something about a list?

>What do you want, the Reader's Digest or Encyclopedia Britannica version? We could be here a while.

<It's your dime. Take your pick.

>That's what you think! This call's coming out of your discretionary spending account.

<You're a real pal, Marty!

>Don't I know it! You're just lucky you signed up with my talent agency. Lots of the other guys in my line of work wouldn't hesitate a second to take advantage of a Scab.

<Yeah... and bears don't shit in the woods!

> I didn't quite catch that. You say something, Theo?

<Nope. Must be this cheap voder acting up again. I haven't been out in the open for a while. The solar powered batteries must be getting low. So? Don't keep me suspense. What's next?

>Give me a second. Eight... nine... ten... eleven...

<What ya counting?

>... twelve... thirteen! There've been thirteen violations of perimeter integrity recently, and the Rent-A-Cops think you're involved with most of them.

<Ah... that'd be my fan club.

>Fan club? What fan club? Damn it, Theo! How many times do you have to be told not to break character in front of the general public? Do you have any idea how much the studio's PR department has spent to convince the entire world that you're nothing but a savage bloodthirsty animal?

<It's only kids, Marty! Who's gonna believe 'em?

>Okay, spill it! What have you been up too?

<But this place is so boring!

>Spill it!

<It's like this... I... we....


<I've been having fun with some local college kids. Are you happy now?

>Oy, Vey! Are you trying to give me another ulcer! Explain yourself!

<Come on, Marty! It's not like the cast and crew will let me hang out with them!

>That's because you've got the worse case of Halitosis and BO on two continents!

<I... what?

>I'll tell you after you explain what you've been up to with those kids.

<It's like this. A couple times a month I act like I'm just going far away... ya can image how pissed off people get when I do it nearby... to answer Nature's call. There's this valley about two miles away with a shallow stream where we meet. The kids and I bullshit around a campfire for a couple of hours and then I hunt 'em.

>YOU... WHAT! Do you have any idea what would happen if something happens to one of those...?

<Gimme a break! You know me. I'm a pussycat. I haven't even come close to hurting any of the norms running around here. I've been real careful.

>Thank Heaven for small favors! So what are you up too? Nothing kinky I hope.

<Kinky? That's disgusting! You've got a sick mind, Marty! Yuck!

>Sorry. Just covering the bases, Theo. So, if it's not that, what are you doing with those kids?

<Like I said, I hunt 'em. When we're done I give 'em a ten-minute head start to get back to their Land Rover. And they're getting pretty good dodging me, too. Sometimes is takes me an hour to track 'em all down. It depends mostly on how sweaty they get running away. The girls are always the easiest to scent. I usually leave them for last.

>And they get what out of all this?

<They get to use me for target practice.

>Holy crap! Are you totally out of your mind! Do you have any idea what'd it cost the studio is you got injured or...?

<Relax, Marty! They shoot me with paint balls! If the kid I'm stalking gets me three times they win. If they miss... and you wouldn't believe how easy that is when I'm moving at full speed and you've only got three shots... I win. It's a blast! Anything's better than going stir-crazy back on the set.

>What do you get if you win?

<Remember that stream I mentioned.

>Yeah... the one in the valley?

<That's the one. If I can corner 'em before they can get away, the girls gotta bathe me in that stream. No damned stagehand blasting me with a cold-water hose! A real bath with sponges and soap! It takes 'em most of the night to do a good job.

>Well, that explains that.

<Explains, what?

>There's a rumor going around Brisbane that there's a nudist colony on the Gold Coast near our shoot site. These girls wouldn't happen to be wearing their birthday suits while they're giving you the once-over, would they?

<So what? It's not like I can do anything but look, and a little skinny-dipping never hurt anyone. There's any crime in that, is there? It's not like anyone's gonna hold me responsible for what they're doing with their boyfriends in the bushes! If only you could see the Cassavas on some of those girls! Oh, Mama!

>Enough! I don't want to know! Just don't get carried away, okay?

<Like I just said... YUCK! Looking is one thing, Marty. But even thinking about touching one of 'em that way is absolutely disgusting! They don't even smell right! Besides... Sue would rip me into bite-size pieces if she found out!

>Just keep it that way. If I hear a single word that you're up to something I'm going to...!

#Mr. King?

<Yeah, what's up?

#You're needed on the set in twenty minutes.

>Who's that, Theo? Raise the volume. I want to hear what's going on.

<Wait a second; I'll crank up the volume.

<Voder Command. Settings change. Mike... five.


>Damn! Too much feedback! Lower it!

<Voder Command. Settings change. Mike... three.


<That better?

>Yeah, leave it there. Who's that you're talking to?

<Just one of the stagehands. Gimme a second, I need to ask him something.

<What's on the schedule for today?

#Let me check the clipboard. Here it is. You've got four cut scenes to shoot, and a redo of yesterday's chase sequence.

<Why the re-shoot? I nailed that scene perfectly! Even Millie Vanillie finally got their parts right after seven tries!

#Director Landis said the lighting was wrong. He wants to shoot the entire thing again from a different angle.

<Oh, my aching throat! Run and roar! Run and roar! Do you have any idea how sore that makes your throat feel?

#I'm sorry, sir. I wouldn't know. I'm just passing the message down.

<I'll be there on time. And you'd better start back yourself. It's a long walk back to the campsite.

<Well... what ya waiting for?

#Mr. Cooper gave me fifty buck to find his Suzuki. He said you might know something about it.

<Sorry, kid. It's not like I could ride that thing. Queensland Park is a large place. It could be anywhere.

#Thank you anyway, Mr. King. I'll keep looking.

<You do that.


<Yeah, Marty?

>That motorcycle is the next thing on my list.

<You don't say. How's that for a coincidence...?

>Cut the bull! You were seen staring at it just minutes before it disappeared. What did you do to that stuntman's trail bike?

<Oh... nothing.


<All right! I confess! I killed it! I couldn't help myself! It was driving me crazy!

>For the love of...! How in Heck do you kill a motorcycle? And, more importantly... why?

<I warned him! It's his fault!


<That Cooper guy. I told him a dozen times to keep that stupid thing away from me. I can't handle that high-pitched whine! So I got rid of it when nobody was around.

>Bring it back!

<Trust me. He wouldn't want it now.

>I just know I'm going to hate myself for asking, but why?

<I kinda chewed it.


<I kinda stomped on it too.


<I kinda buried it when I was done.

>Damn it, Theo! Stop screwing around! Just tell me where it is and I'll get someone to dig it up!

<You're not gonna like it!


<It's simple... tell 'em to grab some shovels and head due south of the tree-house set. All they gotta do is follow their noses for about a mile and watch were they step. They can't miss it.

>You didn't!

<I did. And I've been doing it there for weeks.

>How could you?

<It's easy. All I gotta do is lift my tail and think happy thoughts. It's pretty much automatic from that point on.



<You still there, Marty?

>Damn this ulcer! And to Hell with these childproof caps! You! Get me a glass of water!

<Hello? Marty? You say something?


<Yeah, Marty?

>Has it ever crossed your mind that you cause me more grief than all of my other Scab clients combined?

<Don't I make you a lot more money too?

>That's not the point!

<Come on, Marty! I'm bored! If you'd just let Sue and the kids come down for a short visit, I promise...

>Forget it! You know they'll never let your family into the country. Stop asking.

<But why? It's not like this place is crawling with Scabs like me.

>And that's exactly the way the Australians want to keep it. They'll never agree to let Sue loose on their territory.

<Fine! Be that way! I'll just wait until Frank show up. When is that anyway?


<Yo! Earth to Marty! You still there?

>He's not coming, Theo.

<What ya mean, 'He's not coming?' He signed the same contract with Warner World Wide that I did! There are at least six episodes where we're supposed to fight each other in the show's next season.

>He's not coming, Theo.

<That can't be right. We had it all planned. We were gonna roam around the entire park and shoot the breeze. Ya know, talk about the good old days before we caught the flu. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent listening to his dirty jokes. He promised to teach me how to sing with my voder and....



>He's en route to the Island as we speak. He'll be there in a few days.


>I'm sorry. He asked us not to tell you until it was all over.

<Why? He's my best friend! I... I... owe him my life! He never gave up on me. He stayed by my side and talked to me for a solid week before I came back. If it weren't for him I'd probably still be locked up inside that cage!

>I know, Theo.


>Can't. It's out of our hands.

<If it's money, you know I'm good for it! I'll pay. Just send him to the compound and Sue will keep an eye on him. He'll be safe there. The kids love him. We'll get the best doctors to treat him and...

>You know the law, Theo. They almost got you too. If it's any consolation, the docs said he didn't suffer. It was something like a super fast Scab version of Alzheimer's. He just started to fade away without warning. It was pretty quick.

<Nothing? There's nothing left? But he's the smartest guy I've ever met!

>Not now. As far as we can tell, he seems happy enough. There have been a few flashes of his old personality, but that's about it. He's gone.

<Damn! Damn! Damn! Do something, Marty! I'll sign anything you want. I'll do anything! Just keep him off that island! He'll be outnumbered a dozen to one over there! He won't last a week alone!

>What can I say? It's a Federal matter now. Since those Friends of Humanity assholes pushed that damned law through Congress, there's no real alternative left. If we don't ship him out within a week they will. I doubt if he'd get there alive.



>Talk to me, Theo!

<Gimme a second, I'm thinking!

<Hold the line, I'll be right back!

<Voder command. Pause line one. Speed dial. Sue.


<Come on, Honey! Don't hang up! This is an emergency! You're the smart one in the family. Tell me what to do!

>It me, Theo.

<Marty? What ya doing on this line? Damn this hunk of junk!

<Voder command. Pause line one. Speed dial. Sue.




<I'm back.

>You okay?

<I'm fine. Never better.

>I know that tone! You're up to something. What is it?

<I don't know what you're talking about. You're right. Frank's gone. There's nothing you or I can do about it. I'd better head back to the set. I only got two minutes. I don't want to be late.

>Why don't you take some time off? I'll pull some strings. They'll just have to reschedule things for a few days.

<No need. Thanks anyway. You're a good friend. Frank liked you.

>I know, Theo. Would you mind patching me into the intercom system? I'd like to listen in on what's going on at the shoot site.

<No problem. Five minutes enough?

>That'll be fine.

<Goodbye, Marty.

<Voder command. Speakerphone. Site Alpha. Timer countdown. Five minutes. Transmit only. Start.


*Let's get this show on the road, people! You... sound check!

%Ready to roll, Mr. Landis!

*You... lights check!

&Lights on and backup generators ready to go, sir!

*Millie Vanillie. Where are they?

+Right behind you, boss!

++Right behind you, boss!

*Don't do that!

+But sneaking up on things is what we do best!

++But sneaking up on things is what we do best!

*Not that! Cut that echo crap out! What you think your doing... lip-sync practicing for a music career?



*Ahhhh! Forget it! Just go stand on your mark and get ready. King should be here any second. I can feel the ground shaking already. We'll start shooting as soon as he gets here.

+He's not slowing down!

++He's not slowing down!

+He sounds angry!

++He sounds real angry!

+Time to run away, Manillie?

++Yes! Time to run away, Vanillie!

*Get back here you two! Someone... anyone... bring them back here! They jumped the mark again! And what the heck happened to the lights? Turn them back on!

&Director Landis?

*Who's talking?

&Look up, sir. I'm up in the tree house with the remote lighting controls.

*What do you want? Can't you see that I'm busy?

&It's about the lights, sir. I don't think they'll be coming back anytime soon. I just saw King push the generator van and a couple supply trailers over the cliff.


&And I think everybody better get up here where it's safe. He's coming this way and he looks ticked.

*Security! Security! Where in Hell are all those security guards with their dart rifles?

&They took off in their jeeps, sir. If they're smart, they won't stop until they hit Sydney. All of their stuff was inside of one of those trailers.




&Any last words?

*What's that?

&Smile for the camera! If you don't get up here in say... thirty seconds... we're gonna be filming King scraping you off the bottom of his foot!


%Bet ya ten he doesn't make it.

&You're on!

/Five minutes mark reached. Connection severed/

>Well... what did he say?

=He said no. He's not coming back.

>That's all I get after paying to fly you halfway around the world? A no?

=He did ask what the weather was like in L.A.

>Do you think that's funny? The studio is loosing millions! Industrial Light and Magic is charging a fortune to get Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World back on schedule under such short notice!

=I'm just repeating what he said, Mr. Steinberg. It's not like I could stay in that copter all day and give him the third-degree.

>What helicopter? I told you to talk to him! How can you do that from way up there?

=Suicide isn't in my job description! I wouldn't last ten seconds with all those things running loose on that island! It was hard enough getting permission from the Park authorities to charter that helicopter. We're just lucky his voder is still working.

>Anything else?

=Well, I did find that Frank you were asking about?

>Are you sure? There must be a couple others on the island that look just like him.

=How could I miss him? He's the size of a bus and he has two adult T-Rexes and a dozen juveniles guarding them day and night. The only thing that stegosaurus is gonna die of is old age!

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