A Night at Nighthawks Radio Play Script

By ManWithHat

Regular Joe recently asked me when I was going to record myself speaking "Walt & The City of Lonesome Lovers." This is my response: "Why don't the rest of y'all do it?" We've got some great vocal talent on HitRecord, and it's high time we use it for more than music. We need a Walter Hosker, an Edith Rudd, a Germaine Quay, a Narrator, and a Jacketed Man. Who's up?

~~~~~~
A Night at Nighthawks
A Radio Play by Aaron J. Shay, in collaboration with HitRecord.org

Narrator:
Germaine sat at the counter. Walt was coming to meet him. It was hotter than hell and twice as dark outside, and both men felt the need to spend sleeping hours awake in strange rooms. This wasn't the strangest room around, but it worked. The strangest room was actually the women's room in the Mastiff & Pinocle next door. And that was no place for two men to loiter at half-past witching hour. Not even with their drink specials. So it's the Nighthawks 24-hour eatery. Edith sauntered up and bent over the bar next to him and just stared, her pad and pen poised for action. She didn't have to say anything. She never did. Her eyes did the talking, and his tongue did the walking.

Germaine:
Sticky (chicken) fingers, with a side of Keith, and a cuppa Peggy Lee.

Narrator:
No words, just walking, she walked bang, bang, boom, out to the kitchen, looking over her shoulder at him, wink then swoop, out the door. Germaine sighed sanctimoniously, praising the devil that allowed that kind of woman to work when he was in need. Reminded him that women existed. Reminded him that he hadn't entirely depreciated beyond sale-value. He was a 1951 Packard to Nighthawks Diner's Cuba: Took a lot of repair to keep it running, and that's about all it was good for. Edith plopped the plate in front of his personage and poured his cuppa.

Edith:
Oughta go decaf, Germ. You're getting old.

Germaine:
I'll go decaf when you do, darling.

Edith:
What have I told you about calling me 'darling?'

Germaine:
I can't call you darling unless I'm pushing a gold ring in your face.

Edith:
And where's my gold ring?

Germaine:
It's in the mail, darling.

Narrator:
Smirk, turn, swoop, door. Sigh sanctimonious. Fast-forward forty minutes, and watch Walt come in as per his usual: deranged and bedazzled by the lights, the scenery, the aesthetic romp that was Nighthawks, shifting spasmodically about like an antic dog, and dressed like a loony film noir detective who had lost his sense of direction, fashion, direction, and direction. It was only three in the morning, so they had an early start. Germaine was done with his plate of Sticky (chicken) Fingers and his Peggy Lee, and had already moved on to a cup of Korova Moloko with a plate of Mango Reinhardt. He was in one of those moods.

Walt:
Jesus, Germ, get a grip on yourself.

Narrator:
Walt splashed his strange personage onto a stool next to his friend, and got a grip on the counter to steady himself. His accent was distinctly American, but completely indistinct. He could be from any place, any time.

Germaine:
Walt, I will get a grip on myself when you get a grip on gravity. You don’t have the hang of it yet.

Narrator:
Walt played with the sweet rice on his place, now very unhappy at his choice of food, as diner cooks could not, for some inexplicable reason, handle this Thai-American delicacy, but also with increased unhappiness concerning the shattering bits of his life which were tumbling down like a lava flow of shattered bits of his life.

Germaine:
Also, when I get a grip on women.

Narrator:
Walt popped a tent of a smirk on his face.

Walt:
Is that dear sweet server of ours giving you a good case of sexual indigestion again?

Germaine:
Same old.

Walt:
Different day.

Germaine:
Yep. If I could get it up right now, I’d invite her out to some place special. The Mango Reinhardt has left me incapacitated in that capacity, though.

Narrator:
The two tired not-quite-old-but-not-stupid-enough-to-be-young men sat in beleaguered but unadulterated silence until the mistress of menus came and brought Walt his usual glass of Punch Brothers Punch.

Walt:
We could go to the Mastiff.

Narrator:
Germaine dropped his fork like a particularly dramatic Macbeth dropping his head.

Germaine:
No. Hell no. Fuck no. And also, no.

Narrator:
Nobody actually went to the Mastiff & Pinochle. It was just a store front. It was just a myth, a legend. It didn’t exist. It couldn’t exist. Such a public house, such a drinking establishment, such a dimension of life, it couldn’t exist. It wasn’t there. There was no going in. There was only Nighthawks’ 24-Hour Diner & Lounge. Nothing else.

Walt:
So.

Germaine:
So.

Walt:
So there’s this city. Way off.

Germaine:
How far, ‘way off?’

Walt:
In the mountains. Two miles above sea level. Cold as hell.

Germaine:
Did you measure it yourself, Walt?

Walt:
Did I measure it myself, ‘Walt?’ Of course I fucking measured it myself, ‘Walt.’ Christ. You know what kind of city it is, you want to tell this story?

Narrator:
Germaine sipped his moloko like an exhausted moose.

Germaine:
No, please, go ahead, Walt. Please. Tell me about this city in the mountains exactly two miles above sea level that you have measured.

Walt:
All right, Christ, Germ. You want me to start calling you ‘Aine?’

Germaine:
No, Germ is just fine. Tell me about the city exactly two fucking miles above sea level that you have fucking measured.

Walt:
Right.

Narrator:
Walt drank his punch like a shot to the back of the head.

Walt:
You’d love it. It’s a city where there is no difference between love and lust. Not shitting you. If you want to fuck somebody, it’s ‘cause of their beautiful, butterfly personality. If you want to live with somebody forever, it’s ‘cause of their fucking amazing blowjobs. Dig?

Germaine:
Sounds like bullshit, but I’ll dig.

Narrator:
Germaine signaled for another moloko and another plate of Sticky (Chicken) Fingers.

Germaine:
With actual hot sauce this time.

Edith:
No Tabasco, Germ. You know the rules. We don’t serve shit here.

Germaine:
I’m a regular, Edie.

Narrator:
She stepped out of the kitchen like an angry guardian spirit, full of hell and spite and worse, womanly things.

Edith:
You want your picture on the wall of shame, Mr. Regular?

Narrator:
Germ sighed in disgust and settled back in his seat. He always lost with her. That meant they were meant for each other, more than likely.

Walt:
You always lose with her. You’re meant for each other.

Germaine:
Tell me about this fucking city already.

Walt:
Fucking city is right. All night, it’d keep you up, the groans, the screams, the grunts. It’s like a big old bordello at night.

Germaine:
Like Tuscany, back in the day?

Narrator:
Walt spat a giggle.

Walt:
Yeah, like fucking Tuscany.

Narrator:
Germ blew out a big bubble of air through is face-hole.

Germaine:
Damn, gets me horny just remembering. Tell me some more about this city two miles above sea level that you have measured, Walt. Before I burst and have to excuse myself.

Walt:
All right, so. Love is a thing that happens easily, Germ. Think about it. Love is big, broad. Lust is short, focused. So, since simplicity is the way of the world, love gets simplified to lust. Love is lust, and vice versa, but not exactly.

Germaine:
Get to the goods already, you’re confusing me.

Walt:
Okay, okay, okay. So. Since love can develop so easily, the city government gets itself involved in the pairing business. If it didn’t, everybody would be falling in love with everybody, and everybody would have sex with everybody, and then everybody would be jealous of each other since only two people on earth can handle polyamory, and homicide rates would rise and the city would kill itself. So, the government keeps close control on the acts of lovers.

Narrator:
Germaine couldn’t resist Walt when he really got into the groove. It was like music. The guy was an oddball screwball, but he was a hell of a talker.

Walt:
So. To keep people from starting up lust/love, everybody dresses the same, covering the fuck out of their bodies.

Germaine:
Like fucking Iraqians?

Walt:
Not like fucking Iraqians, like fucking Yids. Real Yids, not the American Yids. You know, beards and long skirts and hats and shit. All that. Everybody wants to look old so that nobody wants to fuck anybody they aren’t sanctioned to.

Germaine:
Weird shit.

Narrator:
A brief silence dripped itself on the two men while Edith brought out some new refreshments. Walt couldn’t tell his dirty stories in front of ladies. He was, after all, a gentleman, deep underneath. They’d spend a good $29 before the night was through. It was worth it. Walt shot back his punch again.

Walt:
Okay. So everybody looks the same. Everybody walks around with their heads to the ground, keep out of eye contact. You know what dating is like?

Narrator:
There was something in Germaine that didn’t like where this was going. He wanted to be firmly rooted in his dirty desire for a united world of lust and love. He wanted some kind of simplicity that he imagined had existed when he was a kid. Walt was going to chip away at it, this cheap, drywall barrier, and show him some light. Germaine didn’t want that. He wanted the comfort of a lie. But that damned musicality of this bizarre man’s bearded voice. That damned antic dog.

Germaine:
What’s the dating like?

Narrator:
The two peered around, making sure women weren’t around. Walt finally said…

Walt:
They put you in a dimly lit room with some wine, some soft music, and a table. You talk with your faces close to each other. They tell you to tell each other secrets. After about an hour or two, you’re in love. Nine times out of ten. Unless you’re gay. Don’t know what happens, then.

Jacket Man:
Just like Walt to not consider the homosexual community.

Narrator:
That’s the thought running through the head of the man two booths down who wears a leather jacket but was not, in fact, gay. He had a wonderful girlfriend who lived in Canada that was always busy so none of his friends could see her. Just like Walt to not consider, the man continued to think while nibbling at his rainbow sorbet and waiting for his male friend who was totally just a friend and nothing else to arrive so they could go have some very platonic and non-sexual fun together. There was a good period of sipping silence, yet again. Had Walt run out of things to say about this city exactly two mile above sea level (that he had measured)? No, he had not. He started up again.

Walt:
Right. So. When people have kids, they don’t see the baby ever. Kids get raised by cold, distant fucking nun-types.

Germaine:
That’s fucked up.

Narrator:
Germaine was playing with his rice again. Why can’t Mexican night cooks make simple Thai desserts? It was beyond him. They were all brown-ish people, right? Maybe there was some difference he didn’t quite catch. Either way, either either or. Walt ignored Germ’s rice problem.

Walt:
I know. ‘Cause love, man. Can’t let it happen. So kids don’t get parents. They get raised up, they get jobs, they get assigned partners to fall in love with. If they don’t, they get a divorce. Easy breezy. Nobody’s got family, nobody’s got friends, ‘cause love and all, love is the same as lust, so if you’re friends, you’re gonna fuck sooner or later. So it’s all strict and shit. Like the fucking Mastiff & Pinochle.

Germaine:
Don’t even talk about that fucking place.

Walt:
Right. So there are only lovers in this place, and nothing else. You think anybody’s happy? Do you think you could tell?

Narrator:
Walt waited for an answer. Edith, quietly, behind the doors to the kitchen, waited for an answer, biting her lip, absent-mindedly fiddling with her Woolworth’s rhinestone diamond earrings, shooting the occasional sideways glance at the cooks to make sure they weren’t talking bad about her in their lyrical music language. Her secret? She had a picture of Germaine tucked in her wallet. He accidentally left it on the counter five years ago when he was working the real estate racket. She opportunely forgot to give it back every time he was here. Time passed clicking. Germaine didn’t answer. Guffaw from the storyteller, then:

Walt:
Can’t tell, brother, can’t tell. They don’t even talk to each other. They only talk to their lovers in the seclusion of their eternal bridal suites.

Narrator:
Walt ate a bit of chicken triumphantly, as if he’d solved a riddle that he himself had not made up. This was not true, to say the least.

Walt:
Sometimes you hear them say, ‘I love you.’ Sometimes it doesn’t sound quite right. Each person can assume from there on out, if you catch my drift.

Germaine:
I catch.

Narrator:
Germaine stretched his arms and unbuttoned his vest at the same time (no small feat, rest assured). Walt wiggled his hat on his head. Germ thought it uncouth not to have taken it off. But calling Walter Hosker “uncouth” was like calling a hurricane “movement.”

Walt:
So.

Germaine:
So.

Walt:
So?

Germaine:
Maybe next week. I’ll ask her. Maybe.

Narrator:
A defeated sigh came roaring out of Walt’s mouth like a hobo train running mad over a whiskey river.

Walt:
Maybe next week. Maybe you’ll get back into the real estate racket next week, too.

Narrator:
The insult was not painless to Germaine’s secretly sensitive heart. He recoiled in his brain, but decoiled in his body.

Germaine:
Maybe Mastiff & Pinochle next week, too.

Narrator:
There was a short smile gracing the lips of both men who were, in some strange, indefinable fashion, friends. Edith also sighed, defeated, though with the pain that Germaine’s secretly sensitive, social heart disguised.

Walt:
Maybe next week.

Narrator:
Walt wiggled his hat again, bowed like a strange film noir detective who had lost his sense of direction, fashion, and time period, so much so that he had somehow found himself in Shakespeare’s time, and bounced back into the night, which was very sure of its sense of direction, fashion, and time period. Edith appeared with a Polaroid, said-

Edith
Cheese.

Narrator:
And took a picture, taping it to the Wall of Shame, where other unfortunate souls had gone who had dared ask for so horrible a hot sauce. Germaine grimaced lovingly.

Edith:
Well, hon, that’s what you get for asking for Tobasco.

Germaine:
Thank you, darling.

Edith:
What did I say about calling me ‘darling?’

Narrator:
He didn’t even need to answer. They both knew what would be said.

The end.

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A Night at Nighthawks Radio Play Script

Created: Feb 15, 2010

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