Mary's Boarding House and the Art of War, Episode Two for Podcast

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The story (podcast) of a woman named Mary Thornberg who runs a boarding house full of interesting people. Adapted for an audio podcast from the original story by the same author. Episode two in the series.

Submitted: May 08, 2016

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Submitted: May 08, 2016

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Mary’s Boarding House and the Art of War (podcast script)

Adapted for radio or a podcast from the original series of the same name by Jim Pack

Original Copyright date March 2, 2015

(Episode two)

As the episode begins we hear Mary Thornberg reading the following quote:

“On ground with intersecting highways, join hands with your allies”.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter 11 “The Nine Situations”

Then the instrumental “Shamanistic” by Kevin Macleod begins in the background soundtrack.  It’s on YouTube. 

Ryan Running Dog (the narrator)

Mary’s Boarding House, and the Art of War, Episode Two by Jim Pack.

My name is Ryan Running Dog.  I am your host and narrator.  You need a host and narrator to explain things to you that you cannot see because this is an audio podcast and not a live action drama.  The long knife producer/writer who is running this show is too cheap to pay for the things that a live action drama would require; horses for instance.  Horses are very expensive.  So that’s where my voice comes in, to paint pretty pictures in your pinky, white, long knife brains, without actually having to display them for you.  The long knife producer/writer calls it “Theatre of the Mind”, I call it “Theatre of the too Cheap to Rent Horses”.  Well, it’s a paying gig anyway. Not much of a paying gig. Too bad I’m a Western Shoshone and not a Morongo, if I was I’d be rich as Croesus right about now, counting money in my own gambling casino and wouldn’t have to work on shitty voice over gigs like this one.  I’m getting angry hand signals from the director right now.  I’d better move on.

 Except to make the following disclaimer; I am an Indian, a Western Shoshone Indian, of the Cedar Valley Goshute Band of Indians.  I know the PC crowd will be wanting me to refer to myself as “Running Dog the Western Shoshone Native American”.  This I will not do.  I have been calling myself “Running Dog the Shoshone Indian”, or “Running Dog the American Indian” since I first learned to speak English as a small child.  My mother would often call me “Ryan Running Dog you little rotten American Indian!!”, but only when I was in trouble.  Nevertheless, this is how I have always referred to myself and I’m not about to change now.  Deal with it. 

Okay!  Quit waving your hands at me long knife!  I’ll start the narration. 

This is the story about a white woman named Mary, who runs a boarding house full of interesting long knives.  None of them are Indians. Which makes me wonder why I was picked to narrate this story?  Must be a stylistic choice.  Maybe it’s because my voice fits in with the theme music, which is Kevin Macleod’s Instrumental “Shamanistic”.  Who can say?  The Long Knife who wrote this nutty story isn’t talking. “Shamanistic” can also be heard on YouTube and probably on ITunes, but I don’t know for sure.  I never listen to ITunes.

If you remember in the last episode, the long knife bully, Harry Landers was driven away in disgrace.  Now Mary needs a new tenant to fill the vacancy left behind in Lander’s wake. 

Mary

So Mister, sorry what is your name again?

Henry

Larond.

Mary

“Larond”, is that French?

Henry

It sounds French.  I suppose it is.  I’m not really sure.  Ma’am why don’t we cut to the chase, obviously you will be doing a background check on me?

Mary

Yes, I have found that to be quite necessary through many painful experiences when I didn’t bother in the past. 

Henry

Well, when you do, you will find out that I am a convicted felon.  Naturally, as a parolee I am required to tell you this anyway, upfront.  If I didn’t, I would be on my way back to the state pen as soon as my parole officer shows up, and I assure he will, to interview you regarding me.  That is, unless you have grave reservations about allowing an ex-con to live under your roof in the first place.

Mary

A felon?

Henry

Yes Ma’am and a convicted one.

Mary

I see.  What was the nature of the felony that you were convicted of?

Henry

Murder Ma’am.

Mary

But you probably weren’t really guilty right?

Henry

No Ma’am, I was as guilty as the day is long in June.

Mary

I see.

Henry

This interview isn’t going very well for me, is it Ma’am? If it will make you feel any better, it was only second degree murder.

Narrator

Two hours have now passed and Mary has a lot of explaining to do.

Joni

Seriously, you’re allowing a convicted murderer move into the house with us?!!  Not even Harry was a murderer.  Well, at least not a convicted one!

Mary

He is only a second degree convicted murderer.

Narrator

Sorry for the interruption, but did if forget to mention that Mary and Joni are both extremely good looking, for white women anyway? Back to Mary and Joni.

Joni (sarcastically)

Oh, well.  That’s a relief.  For a minute there I was worried.  I thought we were dealing with a murder one convicted felon.

Mary

Other than being a convicted murderer, he is a very nice, polite young man.

Joni

Oh, a polite murderer.  Well that’s different, that’s always better than when they’re impolite.  I hate it when murderers are rude.  I understand Ted Bundy was extremely polite, unlike John Wayne Gacy.

Mary

He’s not a serial killer Joni.  The murder he committed was the result of a very difficult family issue when he was only 25 years old.  Otherwise, he is a very honest, polite young man and very well spoken.

Joni

Yeah, I know, you just said that.  Gee, I wonder why am I still worried?  Mary you’re not becoming delusional, are you?

Mary

I told him I will be watching him very closely.  I’m putting him on very strict probation.  One wrong move on his part and he’ll be out of here in a New York minute.

Joni

Just like you got Harry out of here in a New York minute??  It took you three years to get rid of Harry!!

Mary

I really need the money Joni.  Ever since 2008, when the economy went south, good tenants have become really hard to find.  And Henry was the only one who answered my ad. 

Joni

He’s just out of prison.  Does he even have a job?

Mary

He doesn’t need a job.  He has a profession.

Joni

A profession?

Mary

Yes.  A profession.

Joni

What’s his profession?

Mary

He’s a pool player.

Joni (now stunned)

A pool player?  (There is now a long, awkward silence).  God in heaven help us!!!

Mary

But I wouldn’t mention that to his parole officer when he drops by for a visit.  That probably wouldn’t look good, Henry going back to playing pool again.  By the way, Henry isn’t asking us to lie for him.  That’s just my thinking on the matter.  I’m worried what might happen if we tell his parole officer about his plans to become a professional pool player again.  You never know.  That little bit of information might get him sent back to prison (Joni is flabbergasted and continues to blankly stare at Mary for several more seconds of silence).  That’s one of the reasons he wants to stay here.  Because I mentioned, in my ad on Craig’s List, that I have a new Brunswick pool table in my rec room.  You should see the way he handles his cue stick.  I played a game of pool with him after he signed the rental agreement.  (Joni still dumb struck, still continues to stare at Mary blankly).  Oh, and one more thing.  Don’t worry about him not being able to pay the rent.  He gave me a whole year’s rent in advance.  That’s what pretty much clinched our deal.  At least for me it did.

Joni

Oh good.  Now we won’t have to worry about him being in arrears, while he is murdering us in our beds.

Narrator (as Shamanistic is heard again in the background)

And now it’s early afternoon, that same day.  Picture this white eyes; Joni has now entered the recreation room, down in the basement, where she finds Mary’s brand new long knife tenant, Henry Larond going through billiard practice drills on Mary’s pool table.  She is immediately surprised and begrudging impressed with his skill with a pool cue.  She also can’t help but notice how handsome he is for a long knife.  The word “HOT” in capital letters is now coursing through her fevered brain.  Of course, she keeps all that thinking to herself.  She still believes that it is a bad idea to have a long knife, convicted felon in the house.  But what can she do? She then decides to be very direct with the new, albeit good looking, long knife.

(End of sound track)

Joni

I understand you are a convicted felon?

Henry (lining up on his next shot)

Yes miss, that I am.

Joni

For murder?

Henry

You know Miss, when I was put in jail, before they sent me to the state pen, I learned very quickly on that there was a certain jail house etiquette in place.  And one of the most important rules to that etiquette is that you never ask a new fish what he was in for, until you got to know him better.  It’s considered a faux pas to do otherwise.  Nevertheless, obviously we are not under incarceration here and jail house rules do not apply.  So I will be happy to answer any and all of your questions to clear the air and to avoid starting out on the wrong foot with each other.  My name is Henry Larond, by the way. 

Narrator

All the while the good looking long knife, convicted felon is telling her this he never once interrupts his expertly executed billiard drill practice. 

Henry

Yes I did indeed kill a man and was found guilty of murder in the second degree.  And I was sentenced to three years in the state penitentiary near Folsom California.  I got out after only serving 18 months, due to good behavior.  Now you might be thinking to yourself and rightly so, 18 months?!!  How can you murder someone and only do 18 months?  That’s not doing much time for murder, even if it’s only in the second degree.  But nevertheless, they only made me serve 18 months.  (pause)  Plus five days and seven hours.  In prison you become acutely aware of the passage of time.  Oh, and 37 minutes; forgot about those.

Joni

You did kill a man, right?

Henry

Yessem, I surely did.  Deader than a doornail.  I tracked him down over rough country on horseback for five days and when I finally caught up with him I put three bullets right into his brain pan, but not before telling him “why”, so he would know what was coming to him.  It was definitely no accident.  When I got back to Lone Pine I turned myself over to the Sheriff’s Department and pled guilty the moment they put in front of the judge.  They still have both my two horses; the Sheriff’s Department that is.  I understand they ride them in their annual parades and such.

Joni (surprised by his blatant honesty)

Why did they make you serve only18 months, on such a lenient three year sentence in the first place?

Henry

I had a very sympathetic judge and a very friendly parole board.  I believe one of board members was even a fan of my pool game.  He said he had previously followed my career with great interest.

Joni

Why?

Henry

Because he liked professional billiards, I imagine. 

Joni

No.  Why did you kill that man?

Henry

Because he raped, tortured and killed my little sister.  She was only 13 at the time.  Excuse me Miss, but what is you name?  I forgot to ask?

Narrator

Oooh, awkward. 

(Shamanistic soundtrack begins again).

Now picture this.  It is three days later in the dinning room, Mortimer and the new, good looking, long knife are sitting at the table trying to eat their breakfast; which has been prepared and served to them by Joni and Mary with great fanfare.  Both Joni and Mary have now become Henry Larond’s biggest supporters and fans; both being very sympathetic of his reasons for being in prison in the first place.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt his case that he happens to be extremely handsome, charming and single.  I can relate, I have that very same effect on women, myself.  Nevertheless, this being so, Mary and Joni are now fawning over the new, good looking, long knife, convicted felon, while pretty much ignoring Mortimer, who has suddenly somehow achieved the status of chopped liver in their eyes. 

(The Narrator now begins to chant in Shoshone and dance until the music ends.  You can hear the rattles that he is rhythmically shaking).

Joni

Would you like another cup of coffee Henry?

Henry

No thank you Miss, two cups are plenty.

Mortimer

I would like another cup.

Narrator

Joni doesn’t seem to hear Mortimer’s request as her attention is now completely focused on Henry Larond, evidently suffering from the “I can’t keep my eyes off him because he’s so hot syndrome”.

Joni

I hope you don’t mind my being nosey Henry, but I Googled you and was surprised to see what a famous pool player you were, I mean are, I mean.

Henry

Before I went to prison, you mean?

Joni

Yes.  I was very impressed with the all the tournaments you have won.  Wikipedia says that you were a world class player.

Narrator

Beware of curious females Googling you on Google.

Henry

You know what Miss?

Joni

Please call me Joni.

Henry

You know what, Miss Joni?

Joni

I love way you say that.  “Miss Joni”, it’s so southern and polite.  What, Henry?

Henry

I'm from Utah miss. Not the South, although some of us Utah boys do have a bit of a twang.  I think Mr. Mortimer here would like another cup of coffee.

Narrator

Utah?  He’s no Cedar Valley Goshute, Mormon maybe?  Hmm?

Joni

“Mr. Mortimer!” (she then laughs) Oh, sorry Morty.  I completely forgot about you. Oh, my muffins!!

Narrator

And then proceeds to immediately forget about him all over again, as she runs back into the kitchen to prevent her muffins from being burned.

Mortimer 

Yeah, I noticed. 

Narrator

Joni comes back into the dinning room bearing fresh, hot muffins on a platter; corn muffins they be.  I love hot corn muffins, dripping with lots of butter and honey, but will I get any from these stingy long knives, no. 

Joni

You’re not married are you Henry?

Mary

Joni let the poor boys finish their meal.  What’s your next move Henry?  I’m mean professionally?

Narrator

It was an Indian who must have taught the long knives how to bake a proper corn muffin. They taught them everything else about corn.

Henry

I’m going to re-hone my billiard skills and get back onto the circuit again. 

Mary

Excuse my being nosey too, but are you what people call a pool shark, Henry?

Henry

No Ma’am, I am a known professional.  A shark needs to maintain a certain anonymity, so he can sucker people into increasing their wagers against him.  Then he takes them to the cleaners for all they are worth.  I didn’t gamble with, or take advantage of the people I played against.  I tried to beat them fair and square.  I never hid my skill.  I just played for prize money; just like a pro golfer might play for his prize money; except pro golfers play for much bigger purses than what we in the billiard world could ever hope to see.  Being a pro pool player used to be a lot more lucrative than what it is now, unfortunately.  Of course, I also made money on the side by endorsing various pool supplies and billiard related products.  Chalk, pool cues, felt cleaners, tables, what have you. 

Narrator

Mary now pours Henry, the good looking long knife killer of other long knife killers, some more coffee, even though he really doesn’t want anymore.  She looks at him entranced as she does so, trying not to nervously shake his cup in its saucer while she pours.  She is also oblivious to Mortimer, who still has an empty coffee cup in his hand.  Notice too that I still remain coffee and corn muffinless; as I am only an under paid, Indian narrator.  I’ve just been given a note from the director to read the narrative lines as written.  I am reading this as written.  Oh, I’m not supposed to read this note?  Then why did you give it to me?  Back to Henry the good looking long knife killer of other long knife killers, who is now handing Mortimer his cup of coffee.

Henry 

Here Mortimer, please pardon my germs.

(Sound of door bell)

Narrator

Just then the front door bell rings and Joni runs to answer it.  Mortimer, being very hygienic, looks very reluctant to drink from the good looking, long knife killer’s cup.

Henry (to Mortimer)

Don’t worry Mr. Spangle, I don’t have anything catchy. 

Narrator

Joni then re-enters the dinning room looking very puzzled.

Joni

There are two Mormon missionaries outside and they want to talk to Henry.

Narrator

I called it.  He’s a Mormon!

Henry

Well, that’s mighty nice of them.  I knew sooner or later they’d track me down; although I wasn’t expecting it to be sooner.  Those boys sure have an amazing record keeping system; so good the FBI copied it from them.  J. Edgar loved his Mormon record keepers.  Of course, that was way back in the day, before Google and the internet. 

Ma’am (Henry now asks Mary).  Would you mind if those boys could come inside to talk with me.  If I don’t talk to them now, they’ll just keep coming back until I do.  I’ll try to keep it nice and short.

Mary (now somewhat wary)

No.  I suppose not.  Please show the young men in, Joni.

Narrator

Joni escorts two pasty, pinky white, blond, blue eyed Mormon missionaries into the parlor, which is open and adjacent to the dinning room.  The long knife Henry Larond remains seated at the table and the two Mormon missionaries remain standing in the parlor, with only eight feet of separation between the three of them.

Henry

Howdy boys, what can I do you for?  Pardon me if I don’t stand.  You won’t mind if I finish my breakfast?

Smith (first Mormon Missionary)

No Brother Larond, you go right ahead.

Henry

I seem to be at a disadvantage gentlemen.  You know my name but I don’t know yours.

Smith

I am Elder Smith and this is Elder Wesson.

Henry

Smith and Wesson?  Really that’s your names?  Somebody must of had a rye sense of humor pairing you two boys together.

Wesson

Yeah we get a lot of jokes about that.  Other missionaries are always telling us not to go off, half cocked, etc.

Henry

So how did you boys know where to find me so soon?  In fact, how did you know that I was out of prison in the first place? 

Smith

We didn’t know you were in prison. 

Henry

Yeah.  I just finished doing time for murder up in Folsom.

Smith

I didn’t know that. (Smith first to Wesson, then back to Henry) Did you know that?  We just received this assignment today, from the Stake president.  He wants us to relay his personal invitation to you, to attend a meeting at the Stake conference on Sunday.

Wesson

Yeah, we’re pretty much in the dark about all that prison murder stuff.

Henry

So Hopkins sent you both on this little mission going in blind, did he?  I guess my most recent history is on a need to know basis.

Wesson

Brother Hopkins is no longer the Stake President.

Henry

Who’s running the show now?

Wesson

President Navarro.

Henry

I don’t think I know him.

Wesson

He replaced Hopkins.

Henry

Well thank you boys, nevertheless please relay my apologies to Stake President Navarro and tell him I’m going to have to decline his very kind invitation.

Smith

Oh.

Henry

You see boys.  I’m no longer a Mormon.  At least, I don’t consider myself to be one.  I know your records don’t reflect that.  But frankly I don’t want to go through the hassle of a excommunication trial and all.  I suppose I could simply request in writing that my name be taken off the rolls, but I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet.

Narrator

Ex-Mormon, close enough. 

Smith

I see.  May I ask why you no longer want to be a Mormon?

Henry

I got saved when I was in the pen boys.  Some boys go to prison and find Mohammed and some go and find Jesus. I'm of the latter, not the former. And I don't recollect anyone there finding Joseph Smith. At least, not in my cell block. You boys don't visit there that much, do you? Anyhow, now I only follow what the Bible tells me, and not those other books that you boys are so dearly fond of.  There is only room for Jesus in my heart now boys.  Sorry, no offence.

Smith

None taken. 

Narrator

He’s a born again long knife!!  I did not see that coming.  I need to start reading these scripts ahead of time.

Smith

You will of course, let us know if you change your mind?

Narrator

Mormon’s take what must be bad news to them very calmly.  They’re masters of the soft sell.  When the door bell rings again (The door bell rings again) Joni will get up and answer it once more.

Henry

I would if that was likely to happen, but I assure you it wont.

Smith

You wouldn’t happen to know of anyone else living here who might benefit from our help and guidance?

Henry

I don’t think you are fully grasping what I have just been telling you son.  I’m in the opposition now. 

Narrator

Wonderful, now will come a classic clash of two long knife religions.  This out to be interesting to watch.

Henry

Why would I want to send anybody in your direction?  I’ll tell you what Elder Smith.  You don’t fish off my pier and I won’t fish off of yours.

Narrator

Joni now re-enters the parlor followed by two more long knives.

Joni

There are two more callers for Henry.  One is a Baptist pastor and the other is a Catholic priest.

Narrator

Holy cow, two more long knife holy men!!! All we need now is for a Shoshone shaman to show up.

Henry (sounding surprised)

This morning is shaping up to be like an old joke I used to tell.  Only it’s supposed to take place in a saloon.  I wonder where the rabbi is?

(Then the doorbell rings again).

Narrator

End of episode two, all rights reserved by the long knife author, Jim Pack.

(This time the soundtrack is “Dragon and Toast”, also by Kevin Macleod, which runs as the end credits roll, recited by Ryan Running Dog, the Narrator).

 


© Copyright 2017 Jim Pack. All rights reserved.