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Dirk Scabbard–Home Front Hero

by Kurt and Ernst Luchs

Artwork, “Definism” by Darrel Urban Black


SYNOPSIS

“Dirk Scabbard — Home Front Hero” is a radio comedy satirizing three genres: Hard-boiled detective series, U.S. propaganda circa World War II, and apocalyptic science fiction in the vein of Welles’ “War of the Worlds.” The title character hunts Nazi saboteurs on American soil and he always gets his man — even if his man is innocent. As Scabbard closes in on a suspect, a parallel narrative tells of doom approaching from outer space. Paranoid fear of the unknown is the link between the plotlines, which meet at the climax. Along the way we are treated to period-style commercials that underscore the main action. All this should be played for old time radio laughs, but the underlying theme of paranoia and its consequences should linger in the listener’s mind.

CHARACTERS (in order of appearance)

Announcer #1 — 1940s style, deep voice
Dirk Scabbard — tough-guy detective
Foreman — Brooklyn accent
Jerry — worker
Bill — worker
Mr. Swineburg — factory owner, fast clipped voice
Brenda — Dirk’s femme fatale sidekick
Swing Sisters — girl vocal trio like Andrews Sisters
Announcer #2 — 1940s style, smooth voice
Delbert Schniffler — newsreel style reporter
Stubby Maclntire — senile night watchman
Rocky Oyster — Gene Autrey clone
Moonshine Mountaineers — cowboy singers like The Sons of Pioneers
Neal Placebo — oily politico
Dwight Schmeltzer — newsreel style reporter
Professor Woodward Braille — sane man in disturbed state
Mrs. Braille — hysterical middle-aged housewife
Bob Jones — jolly fellow with German accent

MUSIC: THEME UP AND UNDER

ANN1: And now, the Abrasive Engineering Hour presents Dirk Scabbard — Home Front Hero, featuring true stories of industrial sabotage brought to you by the makers of Java Jive-O Real Coffee Substitute, Grim Weeper Insecticide, Roughriders Rope, and Fantasia Furniture Enhancer. This week’s drama: “Greetings from Adolf.”

DIRK: (narrating) I love this country. And I love my job: Nazi Exterminator. And I’ll never sleep until the last fascist cockroach turns belly up and stops twitching. Just call me Dirk Scabbard — Loyal American. What’s your name, stranger?

MUSIC: THEME UP AND OUT

DIRK: (narrating) It was a bright, beautiful day at the Navy shipyards in Nicotine, New Jersey. Hundreds of skilled hands hammered away as the sleek, sturdy hull of a new submarine took shape — the USS Police Action, gleaming like a nickel-plated knuckle-duster.

SFX: HAMMERS ON STEEL/BLOWTORCH

FOREMAN: Ease off on the torch.

SOUND: BLOWTORCH STOPS

FOREMAN: You ready, Jerry?

JERRY: (off) Yo!

FOREMAN: Okay, Bill, I’m gonna need about an eight-foot drift on this one.

BILL: Right.

FOREMAN: And tell those men to secure the winches.

BILL: Tighten ‘er up!

SOUND: WINCHES

FOREMAN: Heads down — load coming through!

BILL: Careful, it’s swinging too far. Jerry!

FOREMAN: What’s he doing?

SOUND: METAL GRINDING, SCREECHING

BILL: The whole load’s out of control!

FOREMAN: Who’s up there?!

BILL: Watch out!

SOUND: LINE SNAPPING/GIRDERS CRASHING/SCREAMS

MUSIC: MOODY QUICK TRANSITION

DIRK: (narrating) Under fifty tons of twisted steel lay twelve angry men — angry, and ever so slightly dead.

SWINEBURG: That’s the third so-called accident this month. We can’t bear another loss.

DIRK: Of course, Mr. Swineburg, all those lives snuffed out, I —

SWINEBURG: Yes, yes, very tragic, but the point is we’re losing money faster than an old maid at a slot machine. And that’s not all we’re losing. Ships! We seem to be building plenty of submarines, but they keep getting away from us, disappearing overnight.

SOUND: PHONE

SWINEBURG: (answering) Hello? Yes he is. (to Scabbard) It’s for you.

DIRK: Hello? Yes, sir. No, Mr. President. We thought it might be a Jap hideout but it was just a nest of baby raccoons. We put them in detention camps anyway. Sorry, our dinner date will have to wait. I’ve got to clean some krauts out of the cupboard.

SOUND: HANGS PHONE UP

SWINEBURG: Well, I don’t see how you’re gonna be able to work with that dizzy broad of yours breathing down your neck, but —

DIRK: (grabbing Swineburg by the lapels) The lady’s name is Brenda —

SWINEBURG: (choking) Let go!

DIRK: — and down my neck is exactly where I want her to breathe. It helps me concentrate.

SWINEBURG: Easy, will ya?

SOUND: SWINEBURG FALLING TO FLOOR AS SCABBARD LETS GO

SWINEBURG: All I meant was, I can’t help you, any more than I could help the two agents who had the case before you.

DIRK: What happened to them?

SWINEBURG: They vanished. We found this note.

SOUND: PAPER RUSTLING

DIRK: (reading) “Gone fishing, or maybe on a picnic — not sure yet. Don’t bother looking for us, especially in the dunes near the shipyard. Having a great time, wish you were here, and pretty soon you will be.” Hmm, lucky stiffs…

SWINEBURG: Well, what do you make of it?

DIRK: Looks real to me, except for one thing.

SWINEBURG: Yeah?

DIRK: Did they seem like the kind of men that would go on a picnic together?

SWINEBURG: Now that you mention it, no. They’d usually buy a couple of hotdogs at the stand down the street — the Meat Wagon.

MUSIC: MOODY STING AND TRANSITION

ANN1: We’ll return to the adventures of Dirk Scabbard after this message…

MUSIC: (background) BIG BAND JAZZ

SWING SISTERS: (Andrews-style girl trio, singing) You’ll know you’re alive, alive, alive-O With Java, Java, Java Jive-O.

ANN2: If you’re like most Americans, you don’t have time to eat and sleep. You need smokes and coffee, or you’ll die. But these days real coffee’s hard to come by for honest folks like you and me and the stranger next door. Maybe he’s sipping a cup of Java Jive-O Real Coffee Substitute. Maybe not. Java Jive-O looks like coffee…(sniffs) Smells like coffee…(Sips and nearly chokes) Tastes like — gaaachhh! Hmm…Well, it certainly LOOKS like coffee. That’s because it’s mortified with the three ingredients doctors recognize most: iron oxide, Benzedrine, and cellulose. Java Jive-O.

SWING SISTERS: (singing) When you can’t stay awake, can’t take another step,
Reach for the cup that’s heap full of pep,
You’ll feel like you’re there before you arrive-O
With Java, Java, Java Jive-O.

ANN1: And from the same folks that brought you Java Jive-O comes Grim Weeper, the humane insecticide that kills bugs by plunging them into a suicidal depression. Grim Weeper doesn’t poison pests. It simply crushes their spirits and destroys their will to live. Your conscience will rest easy knowing they died by their own hand. Grim Weeper — because you care how you kill. Now back to Dirk Scabbard — Home Front Hero.

DIRK: (narrating) Who was the saboteur? When I tried to figure the number of possible suspects, I came up with a repeating decimal. With the help of a roulette wheel, a horse racing form and some good Scotch, I narrowed it down to five.

SOUND: UNCORKS BOTTLE/POURS DRINK/ICE TINKLES

DIRK: (narrating) Then I scratched myself and my mom off the list, along with three people whose names were illegible. The case was solved — at least on paper.

SOUND: CRUMPLES PAPER INTO BALL/THROWS INTO WASTEBASKET

DIRK: (narrating) That left me with a hangover, a huge gambling debt and the sobering knowledge that a bloodthirsty Nazi maniac still haunted the shipyard, dealing death from the bottom of the deck.

BRENDA: Why don’t you stop talking to yourself and uncross those big blue eyes, you gorgeous hunk of hamburger?

DIRK: Brenda!

BRENDA: While you’ve been nursing on that eighty-proof pacifier, I dug up the files on every employee at the shipyard. I came up with some suspects. The first is Stubby Maclntire, the night watchman. His favorite hobby is sleepwalking, but he moonlights as a moron.

DIRK: That’s no crime.

BRENDA: You ought to know. Anyway, most of the sabotage has happened while he’s on duty. But he’s got a wooden leg and a head as soft as Cream of Wheat.

DIRK: Can’t be him.

BRENDA: Then there’s Neal Placebo, the chief engineer. He’s also a smooth-talking union organizer.

DIRK: Neal Placebo? I went to school with him. He has some screwy ideas about politics, but he played pretty good ball in college. He’s okay.

BRENDA: Yeah? Well lately he’s been holding meetings for something called the “People’s All-Night Party for Peace and Freedom.”

DIRK: (chuckling) Still the same old Neal.

BRENDA: That leaves Bob Jones. He designs guidance systems for torpedoes.

DIRK: Sounds like a model citizen.

BRENDA: Could be, only he neglected to tell the authorities his real name: Pyrex Pandersweiss.

DIRK: A kraut by any other na–

ANN1: We interrupt our program for a special news bulletin,

SCHNIFFLER: This is Delbert Schniffler in Washington, D.C. Millions of Americans are stepping out onto their lawns and peering skyward in wonder and amazement at the most astounding celestial phenomenon of the ages. The night sky was normal until twenty minutes ago. Then they appeared — a swarm of blazing, shimmering comets, each trailing a long rainbow tail of ever-changing hue. Where they came from and why they suddenly burst into view, no one knows. But they appear to be headed toward earth at fantastic speed. Not to worry, though. Astronomers say that, in the unlikely event that any of the comets should enter our atmosphere, they will surely vaporize before they reach the ground. We’ll bring you more reports as the situation develops. We now return you to our normal programming.

SOUND: CRICKETS/FOGHORN/CLINKING OF CHAIN FENCE GATE

BRENDA: (whispering) It’s locked.

DIRK: (whispering) We’ll have to climb over. I’ll go first.

SOUND: PERSON CLIMBING CHAIN LINK FENCE/JUMPING/LANDING ON GROUND

DIRK: C’mon.

SOUND: PERSON CLIMBING CHAIN LINK FENCE/FABRIC RIPPING

BRENDA: Darn, my skirt’s caught.

DIRK: Forget it. Just jump.

BRENDA: Catch me!

SOUND: PERSON JUMPING FROM FENCE/LOUD, LONG RIPPING/TRASH CAN OVERTURNED

BRENDA: Help me get my skirt down.

DIRK: Why Brenda, you surprise me.

BRENDA: I mean down from the fence.

DIRK: Now you disappoint me.

BRENDA: If you won’t help me I’ll get it myself.

DIRK: No time for that. Here, take my trousers.

SOUND: ZIPPER/TROUSERS COMING OFF

BRENDA: Dirk!

DIRK: (narrating) For hours we stumbled around in the dark, groping blindly.

BRENDA: Don’t you dare!

SOUND: SLAP

DIRK: (narrating) But we got nowhere. It was darker than a coalminer’s lung. The entire shipyard was blacked out in case of enemy attack. We found ourselves inching along a high catwalk when suddenly —

SOUND: CAT SCREECHING

BRENDA: Why did you do that?

DIRK: Shh! Listen…

SOUND: SOMEONE WALKING WITH A CANE/SNORING

BRENDA: Sounds like someone with a peg leg walking in their sleep.

DIRK: I’d know that sound anywhere. It’s a medieval water wheel being rolled along by a warthog with bronchial asthma. Stand back, I may have to shoot.

SOUND: GUN COCK

BRENDA: Wait! It’s Stubby Maclntire, the night watchman.

DIRK: You there.

STUBBY: (still asleep) Pleased to meetcha, Miss Hayworth. (snorts and wakes up) Wait a minute — you’re not in my dream. What do you — who are you?

DIRK: Does this badge mean anything to you?

STUBBY: (reading) “Dork — er, Dirk Scabbard, Junior G-Man.” That means you don’t have to wear any pants, huh?

BRENDA: (laughs)

DIRK: Well, I–

SOUND: (off) CLATTERING CLANG, LIKE MONKEY WRENCH HITTING BOILER

BRENDA: What’s that?

STUBBY: I don’t know, but I think it came from the power station. (moving off) Follow me!

SOUND: FOOTSTEPS (DIRK & BRENDA PLUS STUBBY’S PEG-LEG)

DIRK: (narrating) The old guy was faster than a rabbit at the dog races. We trailed farther and farther behind him until —

STUBBY: (off) No, not you! It can’t be!

SOUND: (off/muffled) BLACKJACK HITTING HEAD

STUBBY: Unh!

SOUND: LONG ECHOING SCREAM AS SOMEONE FALLS

MUSIC: TRANSITION

ANN2: Here’s Rocky Oyster, the Yodeling Yahoo, and his Moonshine Mountaineers for Roughriders Rope.

ROCKY: (yodels)

ROCKY & BOYS: (singing, accompanied by cowboy guitars) On the frontier of reality, son,
Human life is pretty cheap,
But unless you’re shopping with a gun
The price of rope is steep.
So find yourself the tie that binds,
That will not fray or break,
And hang ’em high in the whisperin’ pines
When justice is at stake.

SOUNDS: HORSE WHINNIES

ROCKY: Easy there, Oxbow. Whenever me an’ the boys are fixin’ to go to a neck-stretchin’ party, we know what to bring for the guest of honor: a good long length of Roughriders Rope. Long as there’s been rustlers an’ trouble-makin’ drifters, Roughriders’ been makin’ neckties that fit ’em real good. Roughriders Rope is right for any occasion. It will never let you down.

ROCKY & BOYS: (singing with cowboy guitars) So find yourself the tie that binds,
That will not fray or break,
And hang ’em high in the whisperin’ pines
When justice is at stake.

SOUND: CRICKETS

DIRK: (narrating) Stubby’s cry went through me like a cup of Java Jive-O. It was a good thing I wasn’t wearing pants.

BRENDA: In here, Dirk.

SOUND: DOOR CREAKING/SLOW, CAUTIOUS FOOTSTEPS

DIRK: Stubby? Are you all right?

NEAL: I’m afraid Stubby has made his last round.

DIRK: Who’s that?

NEAL: Hello, Dirk.

SOUND: MATCH STRIKES/CIGARETTE LIT/PUFF

DIRK: Neal! You old quarterback sneak!

BRENDA: Dirk, aren’t you forgetting something?

DIRK: Oh, sorry. Neal, this is my buddy Brenda, and —

BRENDA: What about Stubby?

DIRK: Say, that’s right.

NEAL: Look over the railing.

BRENDA: (gasps)

DIRK: (whistles) Poor old duffer.

NEAL: Yeah. Tough break.

BRENDA: (dry) Another “accident?”

NEAL: If you ask me, it was suicide. He burst through the door, struck his head against that beam and did a perfect swan dive off the platform. Of course, swans have wings.

DIRK: (with great feeling) Stubby has his now.

BRENDA: Look at this. Someone’s been tampering with the main generator.

DIRK: That’s no generator. It’s filled with hotdogs.

NEAL: She’s right, old man.

BRENDA: If someone had thrown the switch with these in here, the grease would’ve caught fire and we’d have Shipyard Flambeau.

DIRK: And no watchman to sound the alarm.

NEAL: It’s a good thing I chanced along.

BRENDA: Isn’t it though.

NEAL: Uh, yes, I had just come from a meeting of the Domino Club. Everyone else had fallen over, but I decided to work late instead. I heard something funny up here, and then I thought I saw someone who looked a lot like —

ANN2: Ladies and gentlemen, we have another special report on the mysterious rainbow comets that appeared in the sky only half an hour ago.

SOUND: MURMURING, EXCITED CROWD

SCHNIFFLER: This is Delbert Schniffler. As the comets fast approach the earth their strange characteristics become ever more clear, while people around the globe grow more confused, frightened and delirious. Though still millions of miles away, it is now apparent that the comets’ tails are not only multi-colored, but seem to be twitching. Indeed, they almost resemble immense, luminous tadpoles swimming through space — apparently from the general direction of Mars. Scientists believe that no living thing can survive in the black, frigid void. Yet people everywhere are asking: Could the comets be alive? Do they pose a threat? We switch you now to field reporter Dwight Schmeltzer with a live remote broadcast from the home of Professor Woodward Braille.

SOUND: INTERIOR HOME AMBIENCE

SCHMELTZER: As you know, Delbert, Professor Braille is the chief astronomer at the Mount Sasquatch Observatory. We were hoping he could give us some answers, but so far he seems reluctant to leave his basement.

SOUND: KNOCKING ON DOOR

SCHMELTZER: (yelling) Professor, are you down there?

PROFESSOR: (off) Go away! You have my wife — what more do you want?

SCHMELTZER: We are speaking to Mrs. Braille. Tell us, how long has he been, er, secluded in the basement?

MRS. BRAILLE: (very tense) He locked himself in about three days ago. But he’s been up all week watching them.

SCHMELTZER: “Them?”

MRS. BRAILLE: He’s known about them for some time, but no one would listen, not even me. (sniffles) He thinks I’m one of them now.

SCHMELTZER: You mean the comets?

MRS. BRAILLE: (near hysteria) They’re not comets, they’re creatures!

SCHMELTZER: Really, Mrs. Braille, most authorities say —

MRS. BRAILLE: What do they know? How can they possibly tell what things are out there? How they live? What they EAT? (sobbing, then calling out) Woody, let me in!

SOUND: DOOR HANDLE RATTLES

PROFESSOR: (off) Don’t try it! I’ll turn on the death ray!

SCHMELTZER: Well, back to you, Delbert.

SOUND: MURMURING, EXCITED CROWD

SCHNIFFLER: Thank you, Dwight. It has just been confirmed that the comets do originate near Mars. We hope to have more details soon. Meanwhile, back to our program.

SOUND: OFFICE AMBIENCE

DIRK: (narrating) The next day we told Mr. Swineburg about the attempted sabotage and Stubby’s tragedy. Beneath his hard-guy veneer, I could tell he was grief-stricken.

SWINEBURG: Yes, yes, fascinating. At least we won’t have to pay his pension. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to be alone with my lunch.

SOUND: DOOR SLAMS

BRENDA: Did you notice anything strange in there?

DIRK: You mean the way his eyes kept swiveling around in his head like searchlights at a Hollywood premiere?

BRENDA: No, what he was eating: hotdogs. A whole basketful. And they looked exactly like the ones we found last night.

DIRK: You don’t think–?

BRENDA: Oh, not at all. It’s just a coincidence. What really bothers me is that it’s so quiet around here.

DIRK: (narrating) It was quiet, all right — like a tarantula in your long Johns. As we made a quick tour of the shipyard complex, we saw people going through the motions of their jobs, and no more, shuffling in a slow stupor, but headed nowhere, accomplishing nothing. Grown men tried listlessly to pound in rivets with rubber tomahawks, or to cut through sheet metal with pictures of saws clipped out of magazines. Women with glassy eyes were doing their laundry in the cement mixers while the foreman were asleep inside rubber life rafts laid atop the conveyor belts, where they were carried endlessly, round and round, in sinister silence. But then…

JONES: (off, singing with German accent to tune of “Deutschland Uber Alles”) Lunchtime, lunchtime uber alles, la dee da dee da da. dee dum! Mit der pickles, mit der ketchup, dum dee dum dum da dee dum!

DIRK: (narrating) It was Bob Jones, having a one-man Oktoberfest.

JONES: Hello dere, stranger. You vant maybe a hotdog?

DIRK: I want maybe you should grab some clouds and start talking, Jones — or is it Pandersweiss?

SOUND: GUN COCK

DIRK: Empty his pockets, Brenda. He might have a Luger in his lederhosen.

JONES: Hey, mister vise guy, be careful mit dat ting. You could hurt somebody. And dat’s not my name no more. I change it ven I come from Switzerland.

DIRK: Never heard of it. Do they have Nazis there too?

JONES: Oh sure, but you see I —

SOUND: SLAP

DIRK: Shut up. You’re gonna answer some questions.

JONES: Well all right, if you —

DIRK: Who’s the leader of Nazi Germany?

JONES: Oh, you mean dat little fellow mit der moustache, Charlie Chap — er, Adolf Hitler, der Fuhrer.

DIRK: And what do his people say when he passes by in his bullet-proof limousine?

JONES: Oh, dat’s another easy one: “Heil Hitler.”

DIRK: What was that?

JONES: Heil Hitler!

DIRK: (yelling) I can’t hear you!

JONES: HEIL HITLER!

DIRK: Just as I thought. You’re under arrest.

JONES: What?

DIRK: For high treason, sabotage, and a little misdemeanor called murder.

BRENDA: And dope peddling. His pockets are stuffed with hotdogs, and the hotdogs are stuffed with morphine.

DIRK: No wonder everybody’s half-asleep around here. I’ll bet you’re pretty generous with these, eh, Jones?

JONES: Jah, sure. Ve all of us hooked on ’em. They’re delicious. But I’m just — how you say — der middleman. Mr. Neal buys hotdogs for everybody from der Meat Wagon.

BRENDA: Neal Placebo?

JONES: You know him too?

DIRK: Where do you find the guts to drag his good name through your dirt? Brenda, I’ve got the funny feeling a certain Nazi’s about to be shot while trying to escape.

JONES: Oh no you don’t! I go to der police! They protect me from maniacs like you!

SOUND: RUNNING FOOTSTEPS/SHOTS

MUSIC: TRANSITION

ANN1: We interrupt this program for an emergency bulletin. Please stay tuned.

SCHNIFFLER: (shocked and winded) Ladies and gentlemen, this is my last broadcast. The rainbow comets which at first looked like giant tadpoles have turned out to be…giant tadpoles. However, they do not disintegrate upon entering earth’s atmosphere, but are rapidly transformed into adult space frogs of gargantuan size. Estimates of their numbers range from five thousand to five million, but everyone agrees they fill the sky, and it’s the end. For the first time in history there’s true equality on earth: the frogs find people of all races and political persuasions equally delicious. There have been reports that they mean to spare a few of us for (chokes up) breeding purposes and to serve as slave zombies. Good Lord, let’s pray that’s not true. Now, for those of you resigned to your fate, we conclude this week’s broadcast of Dirk Scabbard — Home Front Hero.

SOUND: (background) ARTILLERY, RUMBLING, DISTANT EXPLOSIONS

DIRK: (narrating) I tried to wing Mr. Pandersweiss, but he was faster than they were in thirty-six. He dodged out of the shipyard and made straight for the Meat Wagon as if it were the German Embassy.

SOUND: FRANTIC KNOCKING

JONES: Mr. Neal, open up! These crazy people are trying to kill me!

DIRK: Get away from that door!

SOUND: DOOR OPENS QUICKLY

NEAL: What’s going on here?

JONES: Dis madman tinks I’m a Nazi!

NEAL: Well, you’re wearing a brown shirt, aren’t you?

JONES: No, no, it’s really more of a khaki color, you see, and —

NEAL: I feel like such a darned fool, Dirk. He told me he was a diabetic, gave me these hypos and stuff to inject into the hotdogs.

JONES: Vat is you talking about?

NEAL: He said it was insulin.

JONES: Iss everybody gone cuckoo? (moving off and shouting) Help! Help!

SOUND: FRANTIC FOOTSTEPS

DIRK: No you don’t!

SOUND: MEATY PUNCH

JONES: Unh!

SOUND: BODY FALLS TO PAVEMENT

DIRK: Nice punch, Brenda.

BRENDA: I was saving it for you.

NEAL: Er, shouldn’t we finish him off now?

DIRK: Oh, I know how you feel. But if we were to hold our own little kangaroo court right here, why, we’d be no better than…than…

BRENDA: Kangaroos?

DIRK: Exactly.

NEAL: (humoring him) Gosh, you’re right.

DIRK: This thing is bigger than you or me or the stranger next door.

MUSIC: (under) “MY COUNTRY ‘TIS OF THEE”

DIRK: If this weren’t pretty darned important, we wouldn’t even be hearing that music right now. Because there’s a new spirit sweeping the land. Abrasive engineers are staying alert, keeping their trousers creased and their pencils sharp. Don’t you see, Brenda? We must never doze off. We’ve got to keep drinking lots of hot coffee, staying up all night counting heads, trying to spot the extra face in the mirror, looking for things that aren’t there and finding them — just in time! That’s what it’s all about.

MUSIC: UP AND OUT

ANN2: (unctuous) Wise men throughout the ages have known that it’s not what you have that counts, it’s what you think you have. And I think you have enough sense to know you’ll never have all the things you’ve been thinking of. But you can think you have them — with Fantasia Furniture Enhancer. Fantasia’s volatile vapors capture the imagination and hold it for a king’s ransom, while its mild, aromatic resins lend an air of affluence to your home — or should I say castle? Through a special patented process called “irreversible dissociation,” Fantasia can turn a shack into a chateau, with almost no effect on normal motor functions. Let Fantasia Furniture Enhancer transform your delusions of grandeur into a grand illusion for today, and all your tomorrows.

MUSIC: TRANSITION

DIRK: (narrating) So we caught the Nazi rat that had been gnawing at our innards, but he never stood trial. As Neal was flying him to Washington to come clean, Pandersweiss slipped on a bar of soap and fell out of the plane without a parachute. He sang like a cuckoo clock all the way down, and by the time he landed he was a good German. Mr. Swineburg was as happy as an undertaker at a five-alarm fire.

SOUND: OFFICE AMBIENCE

SWINEBURG: Now that this whole thing’s over with, Dirk, there’s something I’ve been meaning to say to you: goodbye.

DIRK: Goodbye?

SWINEBURG: And empty that wastebasket on your way out.

DIRK: But Mr. Swineburg, the mysterious accidents have been continuing at the same rate, and —

SWINEBURG: I know, I know, it’s heartbreaking, but with Neal as our new plant safety engineer the casualties have leveled off at fifty percent, and the survivors have tripled their output.

DIRK: Those slave zombies?

SWINEBURG: Ever since we started injecting the hotdogs with nutritious amyl nitrates instead of morphine, there’s been a new feeling of excitement about the work here.

DIRK: And the ships are still disappearing!

SWINEBURG: Like clockwork. And they’ll continue to do so. It’s all part of our new inventory control system — what we government contractors call “an acceptable margin of error.” Now get outta here.

DIRK: But — but —

SOUND: DOOR SLAMS

MUSIC: THEME UP AND UNDER

ANN1: You’ve been listening to another excruciating adventure of Dirk Scabbard — Home Front Hero. Be sure to tune in next week’s pogrom [sic] when Dirk makes way for his new best friend, Lumdok — Investigative Frog From Space. Until then, keep looking behind you.

SOUND: (off) FROGS, SLOWED DCWN TO SOUND GROTESQUE, GARGANTUAN

SCHNIFFLER: (zombie run-on monotone) Good evening this is Delbert Schniffler coming to you from a white room. I apologize for my previous announcements they were nothing but a crazy promotional stunt how could I do such a thing I’m sorry. There were no comets there are no frogs from Mars repeat no space frogs if you do not believe me please come out from wherever you are hiding and look around. Come right out into the open and wait. The complete absence of frogs may surprise you. I know it surprised me. What a relief. Please come out now. Please come out now. Please come out now (fading). Please come out now. Please come out now…

THE END



About the Authors:

Kurt Luchs has poems published or forthcoming in Into the Void, Triggerfish Critical Review, Roanoke Review, Antiphon, and the Sun Magazine, among others. He founded the literary humor site TheBigJewel.com, and has written humor for the New Yorker, the Onion and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as television (Politically Incorrect and the Late Late Show) and radio (American Comedy Network). Sagging Meniscus Press just published his humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny). More of his work, both humor and poetry, can be found at kurtluchs.com. Ernst Luchs has written humor for print, stage and broadcast, and has published poetry and fiction in such venues as Futures Trading, indicia, and The Prairie Sun. He is Kurt’s brother, but that should not be held against him.
Published inFictionChapel Hill