Vic is "Arch" To An Old Friend - by Paul Rhymer

ANNOUNCER: Well sir, it's a few minutes past twelve o'clock noon as we enter the small house half-way up in the next block now and here in the kitchen we find Mrs. Victor Gook and her son Mr. Rush Gook. It's time to eat, but we are persuaded, by certain signs, that the meat's not done. However, let's listen to Rush, who is saying:

RUSH: When will the meat be done?

SADE: Oh, it'll be quite a little bit, I'm afraid.

RUSH: Have I got time to run over an' see Heinie Call?

SADE: Oh, you don't wanta bust in on people at noon. They're at the dinner table.

RUSH: Heinie assures me I'm welcome at his house at any hour of the day or night.

SADE: Better stick around. See Heinie this afternoon.

RUSH: O.K. My business ain't a matter of life or death anyway.

SADE: Hungry?

RUSH: Ravishing.

SADE: We're gonna have nice eats - if they ever get themselves cooked.

RUSH: Wonder why Gov don't come home.

SADE: He is home.

RUSH: Yeah?

SADE: He's in the other room lookin' at his mail.

RUSH: Whatcha know about that. I was under the impression he was still at the office.

SADE: Um.

RUSH: Gives an individual a strange sensation to find out somebody's in the next room when all the time ya thought ya were alone.

SADE: Uh-huh.

RUSH: I get any mail?

SADE: No, just Gov.

RUSH: I never get any mail. [chuckles] Ain't it funny how the Unites States of America with a hundred million people in it leaves me out in the cold? Nobody ever drops me a line.

SADE: I don't get many letters myself. Except for Bess an' a note now and then from...

VIC: [off] Sade.

SADE: [calls] Yes?

VIC: [off] This letter's from Ed Staker.

SADE: [to Rush] Who?

RUSH: Don't know.

SADE: [calls] Who?

VIC: [closer] Ed Staker.

RUSH: [to Sade] Ed Staker.

SADE: [to Rush] Who's that?

RUSH: Don't know.

VIC: Darndest letter ya ever saw.

SADE: Who's Ed Staker?

VIC: [almost up] You've heard me speak of Ed. We used to buddy around together as young fellas years ago. [notices his son] Hello, Sam. Didn't know you were on the premises.

RUSH: I didn't know you were on the premises either. I passed the remark to Mom...

VIC: Uh-huh. Kiddo, I mentioned Ed Staker just the other day. Doncha remember I come across his name in the Lodge Magazine where it said he was recently elected Exalted Little Dipper of the Sleepy Saturn Chapter?

SADE: No.

VIC: Ed's located in Saint Paul Minnesota now.

SADE: What's he writin' to you about.

VIC: [chuckles] Doggondest thing ya ever heard of.

SADE: Money?

VIC: Hah?

SADE: Want money?

VIC: What give ya that idea?

SADE: That's what most of your friends do want when they write.

VIC: [coldly] If you'd thought over that remark a second, Sade, I don't believe you'd of given it utterance.

SADE: [composedly] What's eatin' this fella?

VIC: This ?fella' - as you choose to call him - in this letter pays me about as fine a compliment as one man can give to another.

SADE: Um?

VIC: [impressively] Ed Staker - writes - to ask me - to be his - best man.

SADE: [not excited] Gonna get married?

VIC: [sarcasm] I would presume so.

SADE: [giggles] That was a foolish question, wasn't it? I do that all the time. More absentmindedness than anything else, though. This morning Mis' Donahue says, "They took Ol' Mister Ginwhelp to the hospital." I says, "Is he sick?" [laughs]

VIC: Um.

RUSH: S'pose that meat's done now, Mom?

SADE: No, we got quite a little wait yet.

VIC: Kiddo, if I go to Saint Paul Minnesota over Saturday an' Sunday do you people suppose you could get along all right?

SADE: Saint Paul Minnesota?

VIC: That's where Ed Staker's located.

SADE: Well, what on earth?

VIC: I think I'll run up there an' be Ed's best man.

SADE: [dismissing the whole ridiculous business] Oh, for mercy's sake.

VIC: A request to stand up with a friend while he gets married is not to be handled lightly.

RUSH: I got a standing invitation to be best man. Smelly Clark said I could have the job every time he gets married an' he plans to marry several different ladies during his lifetime as he...

VIC: Let me talk, will ya, Dry-rot?

RUSH: Sure.

VIC: You guys can make out by yourselves O.K. while I'm gone, can't ya, kiddo?

SADE: Oh, you're not gonna do any such silly thing.

VIC: Silly thing? So you think bein' best man to a dear ol' chum is a silly thing, huh?

SADE: "Dear ol' chum." When was the last time ya saw this man?

VIC: Last time I saw Ed was in... nineteen-seventeen.

SADE: Nineteen-seventeen, nineteen-seventeen, nineteen-seventeen. Twenty years ago?

VIC: Yeah.

SADE: Sick snake.

VIC: You lead me to believe you consider the passage of time dulls friendship's holy bonds.

RUSH: There's a little poem I know with that thought in it, Gov. [recites] "The hours are weary, pal o mine. The night is black an'..."

VIC: Will you pipe down?

RUSH: Sure, but I'd love to point out...

VIC: Sade, I could grab the four-forty-five to Chicago an'...

SADE: Saint Paul Minnesota is a million miles away.

VIC: Naw.

SADE: It's ?way up there by Canada, isn't it?

VIC: Naw, it's only about five hundred miles northwest of Chicago.

SADE: You'd travel five hundred miles on such a crazy business, huh?

VIC: You're not very particular about the phrases you use. When we got married an' Harley Eggsocket was my best man ya didn't think of it as a crazy business.

SADE: Harley Eggsocket never had to come clear from China to be best man.

VIC: Listen, I can grab the four-forty-five for Chicago this afternoon. There's a dozen night trains that go to the twin cities. I'll be in Saint Paul tomorrow morning.

SADE: [disgusted] Heavens.

VIC: Lemme read ya Ed's letter.

RUSH: Mom, how about the meat?

SADE: I'll tell ya when it's done.

VIC: Listen, kiddo.

SADE: Ump.

VIC: [reads] "Thursday, January 21, 1937. 2724 29th Avenue South, Saint Paul Minn. Dear Arch."

SADE: Who?

VIC: Arch.

SADE: Who's Arch?

VIC: I am. [chuckles] All through the letter he calls me Arch.

SADE: What's he do that for?

VIC: He's got me mixed up with a cousin of mine that was in our gang of young fellas. Archie Gook his name was. Archie's been dead now for a good many years.

SADE: Maybe he means the letter for your cousin.

VIC: [negative] Uh-uh. He means me all right. See, he sent this to the correct address, an' also he refers to us both bein' in the same lodge. That's another reason why I oughta come through an' go to Saint Paul. My dear ol' buddy I usta chum around with is gettin' married, an' he's a dear ol' buddy that holds an office in the Sacred Stars of the Milky Way.

SADE: He's sure some dear ol' buddy. He don't even know your name.

VIC: Ed's an absentminded cuss. Got me mixed up with ol' Archie.

RUSH: This Archie was your cousin, huh, Gov?

VIC: Second cousin.

RUSH: What relation would that make him to me?

VIC: Uncle or something.

RUSH: Naw. Make him my third cousin. By gosh, that makes an interesting little item to tell my various friends. I got a third cousin named Archie that dies an'...

VIC: I'm tryin' to read your mother this letter, doggone it.

RUSH: O.K.

VIC: [reads] "Thursday, January 21, 1937. 2724 29th Avenue South, Saint Paul Minn. Dear Arch. This is the first time I've ever written to you, but better late than never, I guess. Ha-ha."

SADE: Ha-ha?

VIC: Ha-ha. Laugh. Ha-ha.

SADE: Oh.

VIC: "But better late than never, I guess. Ha-ha. Well, Arch, here's..."

SADE: [intense deprecation] Arch.

VIC: May I read, please?

SADE: [low tones] Arch.

VIC: May I read, please?

SADE: Go ahead.

VIC: [reads] "Well, Arch, here's..."

SADE: [low tones] Arch.

VIC: Please.

SADE: Ump.

VIC: [reads] "Well, Arch, here's the dope. After all these years I'm about to take the leap. Saturday, January 23, at three o'clock in the afternoon I am marrying Miss Dorothy Upjohn of Minneapolis. So the ol' bachelor got hooked at last, Arch, ha-ha."

SADE: [low tones] Arch.

VIC: [reads] "Arch, I haven't forgotten the old days we had together. In fact they stand out as the happiest of my life. Also I'm remembering that we're both Sky-Brothers in the Sacred Stars of the Milky Way. That's why I'm asking you to come to Saint Paul an' be my best man. Yes, Arch, that's what I'm asking you to do - come to Saint Paul an' be my best man. Will you write me at once? I'm counting on you. Regards to Irene an' Little Gus. Your friend, Ed Staker." SADE &

RUSH: Who's Irene an' little Gus?

VIC: Huh?

SADE: Who's Irene an' little Gus?

VIC: I don't know. Ed must have me confused with somebody else.

SADE: What a hot ol' chum he is. Got ya mixed up with two other fellas.

VIC: Ed's a little absentminded. [affectionate chuckle] One of his most lovable characteristics.

SADE: Ed's a little soft in the noodle if ya ask me.

VIC: Ed is...

SADE: You're not gonna do this, Vic.

VIC: If I decide...

SADE: Not a word about paying your expenses.

VIC: My expenses, of course, are...

SADE: A trip ?way up there by Canada'd run you a million dollars.

VIC: Now, I'm...

SADE: You'd hafta buy railroad tickets back an' forth from here to Chicago. An' railroad tickets back an' forth from Chicago to Saint Paul. An' sleeper tickets. An' meals. An' nickels an' dimes for the porters that shine your shoes an' carry your valise. Besides that long long train ride. It might even be a fancy church wedding where you'd need morning coat an' pants.

VIC: That's true, but...

SADE: An' for what? To be best man to a fella ya haven't seen in twenty years that thinks your name is Arch.

VIC: As I have pointed out, Ed is...

SADE: Ed is crazy. That's what Ed is. He's gettin' married on Saturday. How comes he writes an' asks ya to be his best man on Thursday? People don't make up their mind two days before they get married who their best man's gonna be. An' selecting a fella he hasn't laid eyes on in twenty years. "Regards to Irene an' little Gus"... fsst!

VIC: Sade, I...

SADE: He must be awful hard up for friends in Saint Paul if he hasta send clear down here for you.

VIC: That angle is...

SADE: I've heard all I wanta hear about this business.

VIC: [coldly] O.K.

RUSH: Mom, how about the meat?

SADE: I think it's done now.

RUSH: Swell.

SADE: You can pull up chairs.

RUSH: Yeah.

SADE: [to Vic] C'mon, we're going to eat - Arch.

ANNOUNCER: Which concludes another brief interlude at the small house half-way up in the next block.