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Posted:|| August 7, 2019 Views: 135|
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
Perry Mason breaks the fourth wall
"The Case of the Buoyed Boy"
by Mark Valentine
CAST OF CHARACTERS (in order of appearance)
HAMILTON BURGER – The District Attorney
JOEY ANSELMO – A nine year old boy
PERRY MASON – The defense attorney
MARY ANN SUMMERS, LASSIE, SUPERMAN, RICHARD KIMBLE, SGT. JOE FRIDAY. MARSHALL MATT DILLON, THE FLYING NUN, FLIPPER, CAPTAIN KANGAROO – Characters from 1960s television programs.
PAUL DRAKE – A private detective who works for Perry Mason
MARK VALENTINE – A rapidly-aging, socially-awkward, slightly overweight, yet still somehow devastatingly handsome, social worker and amateur writer.
The scene opens in a courtroom. The accused, 9 year old Joey Anselmo is on the witness stand being questioned by District Attorney Hamilton Burger. Joey looks nervous.
HAMILTON BURGER: Joey, isn’t it true that, on this past Saturday, August 14th, 1969, at approximately 9:30 a.m., you entered Fritz’ candy store on the corner of 60th and Hermitage?
JOEY: Yes, sir.
HAMILTON BURGER: How much money did you have in your pockets when you entered the store?
HAMILTON BURGER: None? Well then, what were you doing in a store? You know how candy stores work don’t you? You give them money and they
give you candy.
HAMILTON BURGER: But you had no money. Did you have any marbles?
HAMILTON BURGER: Bottle caps?
HAMILTON BURGER: Bubble gum?
HAMILTON BURGER: Nothing?
JOEY: That’s correct.
HAMILTON BURGER: So your pockets were empty when you entered the store?
JOEY: Yes, sir.
HAMILTON BURGER: But they weren’t empty when you left the store, were they?
JOEY: No, sir.
HAMILTON BURGER: In fact, Sergeant McDonald has testified that he found a Snickers bar in your pocket and Fritz, the store’s proprietor has testified that he saw you put said Snickers bar in your pocket. Isn’t that true?
JOEY: I don’t know what proprietor means.
HAMILTON BURGER: It seem like there are a lot of things you don’t know. Do you even go to school?
JOEY: Yes sir, I go to St. Theodore.
HAMILTON BURGER: That’s a Catholic school right?
JOEY: Yes, sir.
HAMILTON BURGER: Well then you should know what the seventh commandment is, shouldn’t you?
JOEY: Yes, sir. It says ‘Thou shalt not steal.”
HAMILTON BURGER: But you decided just to ignore that commandment, didn’t you?
Joey mumbles something inaudible
HAMILTON BURGER: Speak up son so we can hear you.
JOEY: I guess so.
HAMILTON BURGER: You guess so, or you know so?
JOEY: I know so.
HAMILTON BURGER: What grade are you in Joey?
HAMILTON BURGER: Fourth grade, that’s taught by Sister Mechtildis, is it not?
JOEY: Yes, sir.
HAMILTON BURGER: Is it fair to say that she has had to discipline you quite a bit this year?
JOEY: I don’t know
HAMILTON BURGER: What a surprise. Something else you don’t know. Well, maybe we should just call Sister Mechtildis as a witness and let her tell us about how bad you are?
JOEY: No, please don’t. She hates me.
HAMILTON BURGER: Sister Mechtildis is 132 years old. She has seen a thing or two in her years and she says that in her 114 years as a teacher at St. Theodore, she has never seen a boy as bad as you. She has dedicated her long, seemingly endless life to serving God, and what is her reward? She has to put up with the likes of evil little boys like you. Maybe she hates you because you hate God. Did you ever think of that? Now tell me this, what kinds of things have you gotten in trouble for?
JOEY: I don’t know, talking in class, not doing my homework, sometimes I get into fights.
HAMILTON BURGER: So already at nine years old, you’re a lazy, violent thief with no respect for authority. That’s quite a rap sheet for a nine year-old. But, as they say on the commercials, wait -- there’s more. Do you recognize these pieces of paper, Joey?
Joey hangs his head and slowly nods ‘yes’
HAMILTON BURGER: You wrote these didn’t you?
Joey again nods ‘yes’ without lifting his eyes
HAMILTON BURGER: Your Honor, I’d like to introduce as People’s Exhibit A, these obscene poems that Sr. Mechtildis confiscated from Joey.
Burger approaches the bench and shows the documents to the judge and to Perry Mason
HAMILTON BURGER: Joey, here’s one that appears to be a parody of Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees”. Would you please read this for the court?
JOEY: No, I can’t.
HAMILTON BURGER: Because your parents told you not to use this kind of language, didn’t they Joey?
HAMILTON BURGER: OK, then I’ll read it. Burger looks at the paper and begins reading aloud
I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree. A tree whose hungry mouth is prest on Patty Jakubowski’s breast.
Burger lifts his eyes from paper and addresses Joey
Is Patty Jakubowski a girl in your class, Joey?
Joey shyly shakes his head yes
HAMILTON BURGER: Do you like her?
Joey again shakes his head yes.
HAMILTON BURGER: Does she like you back?
Joey shakes his head no.
HAMILTON BURGER: Gosh, I wonder why not?
Burger turns his attention back to the collection of papers in his hand and continues reading.
HAMILTON BURGER: Let’s see, here are a few more …Frere Jacques stepped in caca… Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack’s got cooties on his dick…
Burger lifts his eyes and looks at the judge
Your Honor, this next one I’m going to read is particularly disturbing and I apologize in advance to the court for having to read this, but I think it’s necessary to convey the depths of depravity that permeate this sick boy’s mind. It is apparently supposed to be a parody of the famous children’s poem ‘At the Zoo’ by William Makepeace Thackery.
Burger reads from the paper he is holding
First I saw the white bear, then I saw the black, then I saw a camel humping Sister Margaret’s back.
The people in the courtroom gasp
A poem about bestiality. With a nun! Have you any sense of shame son?
Again, no response from Joey whose head is hung down in shame
There are more your Honor, but I think decorum dictates that I should stop here.
(Burger turns from looking at the Judge to looking at Joey) Did you think these were funny, Joey?
JOEY: No, sir.
HAMILTON BURGER: The why did you write them?
JOEY: I don’t know
HAMILTON BURGER: I’ll tell you why you wrote them. You thought they would make all your classmates laugh and then they’d like you, didn’t you?
JOEY: I guess.
HAMILTON BURGER: Well, did they? Are you popular now, Joey?
JOEY: Not really.
HAMILTON BURGER: Hmm, I wonder why… could it be because you play the accordion?
Laughter from the courtroom
PERRY MASON: Objection, your Honor, playing the accordion is not a crime.
HAMILTON BURGER: Well, it should be.
JUDGE: (banging is gavel) Order in the court!
HAMILTON BURGER: Or maybe the kids don’t like you because of what you wear, could that be it?
JOEY: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
HAMILTON BURGER: Don’t you? Isn’t it true that Frankie Nykiel saw your underwear when you both were in the bathroom, and isn’t it also true that he told the whole class what kind of underwear you had on.
JOEY: I… I don’t know.
HAMILTON BURGER: Joey, what kind of underwear are you wearing right now?
PERRY MASON: Objection your Honor. Irrelevant and immaterial.
HAMILTON BURGER: Your Honor, the defense will show its relevance in a minute.
JUDGE: Objection overruled.
HAMILTON BURGER: What kind of underwear, Joey? Answer the question! Or do you need us to take you pants off so that we can see? Maybe give you a wedgie while we’re at it?
JOEY: It’s Superman underwear.
People in the courtroom laugh
HAMILTON BURGER: A nine year old boy wearing cartoon underwear. What’s the matter, Joey, did you run out of Scooby Doo diapers?
HAMILTON BURGER: Your Honor, the state is done with this witness. I believe the jury will agree that we have demonstrated an overall pattern of antisocial behavior and lack of belonging that make this young man a complete loser, a loser who is totally unfit for decent society. When he’s not misbehaving in school, or robbing candy stores, or playing the accordion, he spends all of his time watching television. He’s obsessed with it to the point that I don’t think he can distinguish fantasy from reality.
Your Honor, it is obvious that this boy will never amount to anything and so the State recommends that he be sent to the Juvenile Detention Center for the rest of his life. Your witness, Mr. Mason.
Perry Mason gets out of his chair, winks at Joey and approaches the bench.
PERRY MASON: Your Honor, the piece of paper I hold in my hand is the certificate admitting me to the Illinois bar. I would like this introduced as Defense Exhibit A.
JUDGE: Mr. Burger?
HAMILTON BURGER: No objections, your Honor.
PERRY MASON: Now Joey, this certificate has my name on it. Will you read it please?
JOEY: Sure, it says Perry Mason.
PERRY MASON: Please read the middle name also.
Joey hesitates and looks at Perry for guidance.
PERRY MASON: Go ahead, it’s OK. I promise you won’t get in trouble. Now, what’s my middle name?
JOEY: It says Fucking.
PERRY MASON: That’s right Joey, I’m Perry Fucking Mason. Have you heard of me?
JOEY: Of course.
PERRY MASON: Of course. Everyone’s heard of me because I’m a bad ass fucking attorney. Now the other lawyer in this courtroom, the curmudgeony gentleman who was just questioning you, do you know what his name is?
PERRY MASON: It’s Hamburger.
HAMILTON BURGER: Objection your honor. My name is Hamilton Burger and Mr. Mason knows it.
Joey smiles slightly.
PERRY MASON: My fault, your Honor. I always get confused. Easy mistake to make. But there’s no mistaking this. Joey, Mr. Burger and I have done battle in this courtroom for over nine seasons now and I’ve never lost. I’ve been kicking this man’s ass up and down these hallowed halls for nearly a decade and I assure you, I am not about to stop now. I’ve got your back, kid, so you go back to the defense table, take a seat and let Perry Fucking Mason show you how it’s done.
Joey steps down from the witness box and walks back to his seat at the defense table.
Your Honor, the defense would like to call as its next witness, Mary Ann Summers from Gilligan’s Island.
HAMILTON BURGER: Objection your Honor – she’s a fictional character.
PERRY MASON: We’re all fictional characters, dipshit. All except Joey. So sit your fictional ass down in that fictional chair. While you’re at it you might want to take some fictional notes because school is about to begin.
Mary Ann takes the stand and is sworn in
PERRY MASON: Now Miss Summers, do you recognize the defendant?
MARY ANN: Sure, that’s Joey Anselmo. He watches me on television all the time.
Joey’s mouth drops open in disbelief. Perry looks at him.
PERRY MASON: That’s right, Joey. She can see you when you watch her. In fact, we can all see you watching us on television.
How often would you say he watches Gilligan’s Island?
MARY ANN: Every day. When I’m in the shot he tends to get real close to the screen.
Laughter from the courtroom.
PERRY MASON: Now, Miss Summers, you’re an attractive young woman, there’s nothing unusual about a pre-pubescent boy showing some interest in young adult women who expose their midriffs is there?
MARY ANN: No, not at all.
PERRY MASON: But it would be unusual if the adult woman reciprocated the interest, now wouldn’t it?
MARY ANN: I don’t know what you’re talking about?
PERRY MASON: Don’t you? Isn’t it true that you’re in love with the defendant? Don’t you spend your days wishing that it were he whom you were stranded with on that island instead of those other men? Don’t you dream of him at night? Wish you had a man with his looks and courage?
MARY ANN: (Crying) Yes. Yes, it’s true. I know he’s only nine but I’m in love with him. Can you blame me? The way those large ears stick out of the side of his head. The tape on the bridge of his glasses. And my God, the accordion! When he plays ‘Lady of Spain’… I can’t even explain what comes over me…it’s just so romantic…I mean it’s all I can do not to jump right through the television screen, untie the knot in my blouse and …
PERRY MASON: (interrupting) That will be all, Ms. Summers. You may step down.
MARY ANN: (as she steps down from the stand) Joey, I’ll wait for you. No matter how long it takes you to hit puberty, I promise I’ll wait. Let them talk. Let them all talk. All that matters is that we’ll be together one day – we’ll have our own island where no one can touch us.
JUDGE: (interrupting) The witness will please return to her seat in the gallery. (turning to Mason) Does the defense wish to call another witness?
PERRY MASON: Yes your honor, the defense wishes to call Lassie to the stand.
HAMILTON BURGER: Objection your honor. Lassie is a dog.
PERRY MASON: Your Honor, I think we can all agree that Lassie is no ordinary dog.
JUDGE: True dat. The court will allow it
Lassie walks up to the witness stand and places her paw on the Bible.
BAILIFF: Do you swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
PERRY MASON: Lassie, do you recognize anyone in this courtroom who watches you on TV?
PERRY MASON: Could you please point that person out for the court?
Lassie raises his paw and points to Joey
PERRY MASON: Let the record show that the witness is pointing to the defendant, Joey Anselmo. Now Lassie, it has been established that TV characters can also see the people that are watching them. Can you tell the court, based on your observations of Joey, what you think of him?
HAMILTON BURGER: Objection your honor. This is ridiculous. Mr. Mason is trying to turn this courtroom into a circus. The dog is just barking
PERRY MASON: Is he? Will the court stenographer please read back the witness’ last statement?
COURT STENOGRAPHER: (looking at her transcript) Mr Mason asked the witness “Can you tell the court, based on your observations of Joey, what you think of him?” Then Lassie responded, “Any dog would be proud to have him as an owner. I can tell just by looking at him that he is kind, loyal, and smart. I wish I had a boy like him to play with me. Also, you might want to send some police down to 71st and Damen – a little girl has fallen into a well.
HAMILTON BURGER: Objection your Honor, all the dog said was ‘Arf!”
PERRY MASON: No, Mr. Burger, all YOU heard was “Arf!” Apparently you don’t speak collie. Everyone else in the courtroom heard Lassie describe Joey’s true inner character in no uncertain terms. Also, we should probably do something about the girl in the well. (Perry turns to Paul Drake) Paul, can you send some of your best men down to 71st and Damen to investigate?
Paul Drake leaves the courtroom
PERRY MASON: Thank you Lassie. You’ve been a good, good, girl. Here’s a treat. You may step down.
Lassie steps down from the witness box
Your Honor, the defense would like to call as its final witness, Superman.
JUDGE: Is he in the courtroom?
PERRY MASON: He will be in a minute.
Just then Superman comes bursting through the wall opposite from the jury box.
JUDGE: (angrily) What the hell, man? Those walls are expensive! Couldn’t you have just come through the doors like a normal person?
PERRY MASON: I’m afraid that’s my fault your honor – I asked him to come in that way. I’ll pay for the damage.
JUDGE: And will you please explain to the court just why you thought it necessary for Superman to destroy county property?
PERRY MASON: It’s a metaphor, your Honor. A metaphor that I’ll explain in a moment. Now if we could please swear in the witness.
Bailiff administers the oath and Superman takes the stand
PERRY MASON: Now, Mr. Man.
SUPERMAN: Please, call me Supe.
PERRY MASON: Certainly, Supe could you tell the court your occupation?
SUPERMAN: I’m a superhero.
PERRY MASON: And what exactly is your mission?
SUPERMAN: I fight a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.
PERRY MASON: What kind of underwear do you wear?
SUPERMAN: Well, I wear Superman underwear of course, same as Joey.
PERRY MASON: Wait, how do you know Joey is wearing Superman underwear? You weren’t in the courtroom when that evidence was presented.
SUPERMAN: You forget I have x-ray vision.
HAMILTON BURGER: Objection, your Honor. I don’t think the superpower credentials of this witness have been established
PERRY MASON: Of course, Hamburger is…
HAMILTON BURGER: (interrupting) HAMILTON Burger.
PERRY MASON: Excuse me, Hamilton Burger is right. Supe could you please tell us what kind of underwear Mr. Burger is wearing?
Superman looks at burger’s crotch area and then wrinkles up his face in disgust
SUPERMAN: Good God, he’s not wearing any
The courtroom lets out a collective “Eeeew”
PERRY MASON: (looking at Joey) I see London, I see France. Burger’s got no underpants. You might want to add that one to your collection Joey.
Now where were we? Oh yes, you and Joey wear the same kind of underwear. Are there any other similarities between the two of you?
SUPERMAN: Yeah, I guess we’re both kind of loners, you know on account of our superpowers and all.
PERRY MASON: Are you suggesting that Joey here has superpowers?
SUPERMAN: Oh yeah. He probably doesn’t know it himself yet, but I can see all the signs in him. The sincerity of his intentions is obvious. Even if his baser instincts sometimes make him stray from the straight and narrow, it’s clear that he is good at heart.
PERRY MASON: But that’s not a superpower is it?
SUPERMAN: Oh, it’s rarer than you might think, Mr. Mason. But I see other powers in him also. Sometimes they take a while to develop. He’s very fast and starting to get stronger. He’s super smart. I wouldn’t be surprised if his x-ray vision is starting to develop already. Flying is probably a ways off, but that’s to be expected. You can tell just by looking at him, that he’s basically a good kid.
Perry turns to look at Joey who is staring at Mary Ann’s chest
PERRY MASON: Yo, Joey! Eyes over here, man.
JOEY: Oops, sorry.
Joey turns back toward Mr. Mason, but before he does, Mary Ann extends the thumb and little finger of her right hand and holds it up to her ear as if it were a telephone receiver. As she does this she silently mouths the words “Call me” to Joey.
JOEY: I guess I just wanted to see if the x-ray vision was happening yet.
JOEY: Not yet.
SUPERMAN: That’s OK Joey. The powers will come. But when they do, you have to promise to use them for good and not for evil. You can’t be using your x-ray vision to see through women’s clothes.
Superman turns toward Mary Ann and utters a “whoa”. OK, maybe a little bit, but mostly you have to use them for noble purposes.
Superman steps down from the stand as other TV characters file in to stand by his side. Marshall Dillon from Gunsmoke, Judd for the Defense, The Flying Nun, Flipper, Captain Kangaroo, Sgt. Joe Friday from Dragnet, Richard Kimble from The Fugitive, and many more
JUDGE: What’s going on here?
PERRY MASON: Your Honor, this is the metaphor I was speaking about. We’re breaking down the fourth wall that exists between our shows and the audience, particularly the children. You see, to most adults we might be just a means of entertainment, but to children like Joey we can be an island of sanity in a tumultuous sea. We can be reminders of all that is good and noble in this world. Childhood can be a rough space, and God knows especially now, in 1969, with all of the drugs and riots and turmoil, we need a little sanity and integrity in our lives.
RICHARD KIMBLE: Joey, I’ve been alone and on the run for years now, hunted by Lieutenant Gerard, and one thing I’ve learned is this. You’ve got to believe in yourself, even if others think of you as a criminal.
THE FLYING NUN: That’s right Joey. You should know that not all nuns are bad. I’m here to tell you that you are made in the image of God and He loves you.
MATT DILLON: And there will be adversity Joey. Bad guys will come in to town and you’ll need to draw on your inner courage, and you’ve got a lot of inner courage, to meet those bad guys face to face in front or Miss Kitty’s saloon.
SGT. JOE FRIDAY: Oh, life can be tough alright, especially when you’re a cop like me. You become a cop and all at once, you lost your first name. You're a cop, a flatfoot, a bull, a dick, John Law, you're the Fuzz, the heat, you're poison, you're trouble, you're bad news. They call you everything, but never a policeman. And you think the fourth grade has some bad actors, well you should see the characters I have to deal with, Mister: pimps, addicts, thieves, bums, winos, girls who can't keep an address and men who don't care. Liars, cheats, con men, the class of Skid Row. And the heartbreak: underfed kids, beaten kids, molested kids, lost kids, crying kids, homeless kids, hit-and-run kids, broken arm kids, broken leg kids, broken head kids, sick kids, dying kids, dead kids.
PERRY MASON: OK. Lighten up Francis. Let’s get the kid through middle school first. If we do a good job, this kid will thank us for it someday.
Just then a voice is heard that seems to emanate from every corner of the courtroom. It says
VOICE: Thank you
And yet the speaker is nowhere to be found.
JUDGE: Whoa who said that?
MARK VALENTINE (aka, The Voice): I did. I’m Mark Valentine and I’m extending Mr. Mason’s fourth wall metaphor a bit further. You see, not only are all of you characters in Joey’s fantasy world, but this whole story is being written by me on a site called Fanstory. Just as you all have reached across the boundaries of reality to have an impact on Joey, so too am I reaching across another level of reality to thank you.
JUDGE: Dude, you’re blowing my mind. So, are you saying that you created Joey?
MARK VALENTINE: No, your honor, I AM Joey – just fifty years later. I stole that candy bar. I wrote those poems, and yes, I played the accordion. I’m here to tell you that, in spite of some trials along the way, it all turned out alright. I have a wonderful wife and family now, and along the way I made some great friends and had some good times. I won’t say I owe it all to you, but I owe some of it to you. You all got me through some rough patches, so thank you.
PERRY MASON: You’re welcome, son.
MARK VALENTINE: Heck, I even had sex once with Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island.
HAMILTON BURGER: (defiantly) No you didn’t!
MARK VALENTINE: Oh, shut the fuck up, Hamburger. It’s my story and I’m saying that I did!
Story of the Month contest entry
I can't take credit for the Joe Friday speech - that was lifted from a Dragnet script.
"Lighten Up, Francis" is a quote from the movie "Stripes" - it's what you say to someone who is taking things way too seriously.
There's a little bit of autobiography in this one. Unfortunately, the Dawn Wells part is complete fiction - so far, anyway. (Dawn, if you read this, give me a call.)
and 2 member cents.
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