dead man's honey
(the scene opens in a small town bar. tough types are drinking and/or talking while quiet, lilting country music plays)
JOEBOB: Teeters...and ass. The whole package. I was impressed. Cause sometimes a girl only got teeters...
JOEBOB: And that's cool...
BOBJOE: Cause ain't nothing wrong with a pair of teeters...
(they both sit in silence for a moment, happily distracted)
BOBJOE: Ah, teeters.
JOEBOB: Great, ain't they?
BOBJOE: Sure enough.
JOEBOB: (clicks back into focus) Oh. Right. So like I was sayin', it's great when she got teeters, but if she don't got ass...
BOBJOE: (bewildered) You sayin' teeters ain't good?
JOEBOB: No, I'm sayin'...
BOBJOE: (hurt) I like teeters!
JOEBOB: I know, I like teeters too!
BOBJOE: No you don't! You was just sayin' teeters is bad!
JOEBOB: T'ain't what I said at all!
BOBJOE: Was too! I heard you!
JOEBOB: What I'm sayin' is teeters is great but they's even better with an ass.
(there is a click as the song changes to the Supremes' "Love Child")
BOBJOE: Hey, what happened to the Garth?
JOEBOB: What the hell is this crazy music?
BOBJOE: Dammit, let's go smash that dumb jukebox in.
B: (from offstage) Touch it and I'll break you like a twig.
BOBJOE: Who said that?
(B enters. he is a human-sized bee and wears a trench coat)
B: I did.
JOEBOB: Bobby Joe?
BOBJOE: Yeah, Joey Bob?
JOEBOB: Looks like we got us a pansy on our hands who don't know no manners.
BOBJOE: Sure does look that way.
B: I don't want any trouble. I just want the song left alone.
JOEBOB: You like this song...faggot?
BOBJOE: (unplugs the jukebox and the song stops) How you like the song now? Huh?
B: (takes a step forward ready to fight, pauses, and then stops) Forget it.
JOEBOB: Haw! Haw!
B: (sits down, to WAITRESS) Give me a coffee. Black.
WAITRESS: We ain't got coffee.
B: Give me a soda then.
WAITRESS: Ain't got that neither.
B: What do you have?
WAITRESS: More beer.
B: How about some water? Do you have water?
JOEBOB: (standing behind B) Why don'tcha drink some beer?
B: I just don't want any.
BOBJOE: (also behind B) I think I heard a faggot say that once. You think that's what we got here? A faggot?
B: (grinding his teeth) I don't want any trouble. All I want is something to drink.
JOEBOB: Too bad, pansy!
(JOEBOB takes a wild swing at B who stands up, kicks the chair back and grabs JOEBOB's arm, throwing him in the direction of the punch. JOEBOB falls. BOBJOE approaches B)
BOBJOE: I'm gonna kick your ass!
B: Consider yourself cordially invited to bring it the fuck on.
(a gunshot sounds as the SHERIFF walks into the bar)
SHERIFF: Alright, alright. Back off, Bobby Joe. You too, Joey Bob.
BOBJOE: But he's a faggot, Sheriff!
SHERIFF: I don't care if he's a dirty hippie, Bobby Joe. This ain't the place for it.
SHERIFF: Say you understand me, boys.
BOTH: (reluctantly) Yes, Sheriff.
SHERIFF: Now git. (they leave, sullen) And as for you, stranger, let me tell you a few things by way of hospitality. I've been sheriff here in Cranston for...gee, well, goin' on twenty years now. I've learned a few things about the human charac'ter and all. I don't like a man who don't like beer because I can't have a good time with that man. I can't sit down with him and enjoy a cold brewski. We can't build that element of friendship. I also don't like a man who don't fight when he's called upon to do so. I seen you. Them boys was askin' for it and you just sat there until you had to make a move. That's rude. Man's fixin' for a fight, he should get a fight. It's only common decency. You got some secrets, mister. I can smell 'em on you. Here in Cranston, we don't like secrets. And we don't like strangers, neither. (pauses, looks B up and down) We don't have a policy on man-sized bees so far as I know. But we probably don't like them neither. So why don't you finish your drink and move along, alright? I think it'll make everyone a little happier.
B: I can't finish my drink.
SHERIFF: Oh? And why's that?
B: Because I don't have one.
SHERIFF: Ain't that a damn shame. (turns to exit, tips his hat) Mabel. (exits)
(B picks up his chair and sits down again)
B: How about that water?
(MABEL gives him a look but turns to get it as WENDELL BURGESS enters)
WENDELL: Belay that order, Mabel. I've a few words to exchange with this here giant insect. (sitting down) Name's Wendell Burgess. I own this establishment. And you?
B: They call me B.
B: That's right. The letter B.
WENDELL: B, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. Unlike ol' Sheriff Slim back there, I was impressed with the way you handled yourself back there. You could've drop-kicked those boys halfway to Nebraska in a heartbeat. Why didn't you?
B: In life, you've got to have goals. My goal happens to be a cup of coffee. Fighting those two wasn't going to get me any closer to a pair of wet lips, so I didn't bother expending the energy.
WENDELL: You're an interesting man, B.
MABEL: An interesting man-sized bee.
WENDELL: Mabel, you get on home. I'll keep an eye on the place until Ethel gets here for the evening shift.
MABEL: Sure thing, Mr. Burgess. (exits)
WENDELL: You lookin' for a little gainful employment, B?
B: What are you offering?
WENDELL: (lowered tone) I've got this wife. Pretty girl. Real pretty. My pride and joy, if the truth be told. Love her dearly. She's a young one. Burstin' with...energy, if you catch my meaning. Now, I'm a busy man. I have been blessed with the ownership of a thing or two or twenty, and I ain't always around to, you know, keep her occupied. Give the darling something to do. Man needs something to do with his time or he becomes a little crazy. Ain't that right?
B: I guess it is.
WENDELL: And my darling...well, she goes a little crazy sometimes. That's why I need you to keep an eye on her. Just hang around with her, that's all.
B: What's the catch?
WENDELL: No catch. (B just stares) Okay, well, there is one thing.
B: (sighs) Spit it out.
WENDELL: Don't get her talking about the US space program. Gets her all riled up. Starts throwing underwear around.
WENDELL: Yeah. Something of a ruckus, you know. Now I think a pie in the face is as funny as the next man...in fact, I seen a feller who was tryin' to rope a steer and his pants fell down, funniest dang thing I ever seen...me and some buddies used to make up fake song lyrics when a song would come on the jukebox. Damned if we didn't have some good ones. You ever hear that song, it's all...like he's singing "da da da, free fallin'..." Well, so it starts playin' one day when we're all in the bar, and Harry Dickerson starts singin' "Free...free ballin'"...hah! Ballin'! And there was this other one...
B: You said something about underwear?
WENDELL: Yeah. This underwear thing, it's bad for business. Ain't no one knows if it's been washed...that sort of thing. You up for the task? I'll supply you with room and board for as long as you care to stay in town. Might even manage to get yourself that cup of coffee. (laughs)
B: Fine. Where is she?
WENDELL: Right around the corner. (calls out) Tiffany!
(TIFFANY enters. she is an attractive, bored-looking young woman and carries a backpack slung over her shoulder. unlike the others, she does not speak with an accent)
WENDELL: Tiffany, I would like you to meet my new friend B.
B: Hello. (TIFFANY says nothing)
WENDELL: I'm off to Sheboygan on business, sweetie-pie. B here is going to keep you company.
WENDELL: That's the spirit! (shakes his head) God, I do love this woman. B, you take care, you hear me?
WENDELL: I feel good about this arrangement already.
(WENDELL exits. B and TIFFANY stare at each other)
B: Might as well sit down. (TIFFANY pointedly sits at a different table) Suit yourself. (TIFFANY stares straight forward) Look, let's get one thing out of the way. I know men probably fall all over themselves to stand next to you. But you know what? I'm a bee. I'm interested in one thing and one thing alone, and that's a cup of coffee. Understand?
TIFFANY: (without looking at him) Whatever.
B: You're a real charmer.
(ETHEL enters - the same actress as MABEL)
B: Thought you went home, Mabel.
ETHEL: I'm Ethel.
B: You're...(sighs) Fine. Can I have a cup of coffee?
ETHEL: Not if you're gonna go mistaking me for that slut Mabel, no.
(the regulars begin to arrive, including JOEBOB and BOBJOE. they begin to prowl around near B and TIFFANY)
BOBJOE: Gee whillikers, Joey Bob. This beer sure is good. But you know, it's missing something.
JOEBOB: Aw, really? And what is that something?
BOBJOE: Some honey.
JOEBOB: (snickering) Now where do you reckon we could get some honey this time of night?
BOBJOE: (snickering) I wonder if anyone would be so kind as to tell us.
JOEBOB: What's up, Tiffany? How you doin', baby?
TIFFANY: What's the matter, Joey Bob? Livestock playing hard-to-get again?
JOEBOB: (bewildered) What does that mean?
BOBJOE: I think she's callin' you a farmer.
JOEBOB: I ain't a farmer, I work at the bottle-cap factory.
BOBJOE: She's crazy. Don't let her get to you none.
(they sit down. SHERIFF enters)
SHERIFF: (reading a paper) Well, if that don't beat all.
JOEBOB: Whatcha reading, Sheriff?
SHERIFF: Evening, boys. It's the newspaper.
JOEBOB: What's it say?
SHERIFF: Says here they're gonna blast Christoper Reeve into space as a message to all the aliens about how brave and courageous Americans can be.
BOBJOE: But he can't walk none!
SHERIFF: That's the point, Bobby Joe. In space, you don't need to walk. You can float.
TIFFANY: (angrily) It's meaningless tokenism.
SHERIFF: It's meaningless what?
TIFFANY: It's just like that goddamn John Glenn thing. They've subverted the notion of genuine exploration and advancement in the name of publicity and movie deals.
SHERIFF: Now wait just a minute, Tiffany. John Glenn is an American hero.
BOBJOE: Yeah. He was our first president.
TIFFANY: We've had the technology for a successful trip to Mars since the early 1970s. Hollywood has robbed this country of its drive for genuine advancement. Instead, you people are content seeing manufactured imitations of real adventure on movie screens.
JOEBOB: You're just a girl, Tiffany. Outer space is for men.
(furious, TIFFANY pegs him in the head with a pair of underwear. quickly, all hell breaks loose. people dive underneath tables. TIFFANY keeps throwing. the SHERIFF draws his gun and tries to get a shot but is distracted by the barrage of underwear)
BOBJOE: Shoot her, Sheriff! She's a public nuisance!
SHERIFF: I will! I just have to get a shot...
B: Ah, hell.
(B knocks the gun out of SHERIFF's hand with a left hook and drops him with a right.
the SHERIFF stumbles off and, after a couple moments, so does everyone else)
B: That was interest- (TIFFANY whirls to throw at him) Hey! It's just me! (she stops but keeps her arm cocked) Relax. I'm on your side. (she lowers the underwear) Come on. Let's get this place cleaned up.
(slowly they begin to pick up the underwear, piece by piece)
TIFFANY: Thanks for taking care of the sheriff.
B: Just doing my job. Guess you feel pretty strongly about the space program, huh?
TIFFANY: Yeah. I do.
B: I can respect that.
TIFFANY: And what do you feel strongly about?
B: Getting through the day. A cup of coffee. That sort of thing.
TIFFANY: Awful mundane, don't you think?
B: Lady, I've done a lot of things in my time. I killed three people and I went to jail for it. I did work release as an anti-drug spokesbee. I became an alcoholic and then I destroyed Cleveland.
TIFFANY: That was you?
TIFFANY: Nice work.
B: Thanks. These days, I drift. I've learned one thing in my time. Every bee has his own queen. The queen might be alcohol, it might be fights, it might be any number of things. Bee gets too tied up in his queen, he doesn't get to taste the honey. It all goes straight to the queen. My queen is thrills. Living on the edge. Can't live in service to a queen. The only way to taste the honey is to go it alone.
TIFFANY: (they are fairly close to each other at this point) What kind of honey do you like?
(the jukebox, which has been silent to this point, clicks on and starts playing Elvis Presley's "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You". TIFFANY and B sway together. she removes his trench coat and he tosses it over a chair. they continue to sway together. she runs a finger across one of his stripes. he stares intently in her eyes as they dance. ad lib. at the third chorus [circa 1:20], he sweeps her off her feet and kisses her. they separate and B takes a step backwards)
TIFFANY: Let's get out of here, B.
B: Where's there for us to go?
TIFFANY: Out of here! Away from this town!
B: Do you have any idea what it's like for a man-sized insect out there? It's not a friendly world. No one's looking to give me a hand. A lot of people want to see me go down.
TIFFANY: We don't need them! We'll take some money from Wendell and run. We'll...this! (she grabs a blue glass head from offstage) Do you have any idea what this is worth?
B: (whistles) Is that what I think it is?
TIFFANY: The one and only. None of these yokels have any idea what it is, so Wendell just leaves it right there in his office. We could take it. Sell it. Run.
B: (pauses) Almost sounds plausible.
TIFFANY: I've got to get out of this tiny little town, B. It's killing me.
B: (quietly) I know.
TIFFANY: With the money, we could build a spaceship and meet the aliens.
B: Okay, now you're losing me.
TIFFANY: We've got to get off this planet!
SHERIFF: (enters, carrying an assault rifle) You ain't going anywhere. Boys? (BOBJOE and JOEBOB enter) Let's turn this yellow-and-black bastard black-and-blue.
B: (yells) What? What?!? What the fuck do you want with me? I just want a cup of coffee! I was tired and thirsty so I stopped in this fucking town for the sole fucking purpose of getting something to drink! I don't want to fight with you! I don't want to take you (pointing at TIFFANY) into space! I just want a fucking cup of coffee!
(BOBJOE and JOEBOB charge B. he beats the crap out of both of them and, as he turns around, the SHERIFF takes a step forward and points the barrel of the rifle at his head)
B: Fine. Shoot me. Obviously, it means that much to you. I don't care. Let me guess. Burgess set me up. He knew I'd get intimate with his wife. So the story that the newspapers are going to tell is that I shot her, beat up these two would-be heroes, and was finally taken down by you and your assault rifle. Burgess gets the insurance money for his wife who he doesn't love anymore and you get a share and some good press.
SHERIFF: You're smart, bee. You've got some clever big-city ideas floating around in your head. Congratulations. But you're wrong. Burgess actually is dumb enough to think that hiring you to watch his wife was a good idea. The man's a hornball and a half. He'd never let her go. No, my client is someone else entirely.
B: What's it cost to buy out a badge these days, Sheriff?
SHERIFF: Money's incidental. I'm still in it for the justice. In this case, justice happens to be putting a mouthy woman in her place.
B: What do you mean?
VOICE: (from offstage) Why don't you let me explain it, Sheriff?
(aided by a NURSE, CHRISTOPHER REEVE wheels out in a rolling chair)
TIFFANY: Oh my god, it's Christopher Reeve!
REEVE: I'm tired of you badmouthing me, Tiffany. I'm going into space and that's that.
B: I need a drink.
REEVE: Hey, you're the bee from Potted Meat, aren't you?
REEVE: I love your stuff! That one sketch where you were in the sorority house had my entire left cheek shaking!
B: Thanks. I liked the Superman movies.
REEVE: Sheriff, let this bee go. America needs insects like him.
(the SHERIFF lowers his rifle and B starts to walk away as "Love Child" starts playing. TIFFANY grabs B)
TIFFANY: B! Don't leave me here with them! They're going to attack my convictions!
B: Sorry, baby. That's my exit music.
TIFFANY: We could have been so good together, B. We could have flown to the moon.
B: Been there. Nothing much to see.
B: Good luck with your dreams, kid. Me? I'm not looking for a new queen. I just want a cup of coffee.
(music comes up as B exits)
dead man's honey by marc heiden march 1999