Part I of this play appears in the December/January issue of The Walrus
#2: That’s fantastic!
ED: Wow, uh…
LEW: No Speckle Lake.
ED: Uh, okay. Whatever…
#2: Great. Wonderful. I could just kiss you, Ed.
#1: Oh, God, me too!
#3: Thanks, Ed, really, thanks.
ED: You bet.
LEW: Now, if you’ll excuse us…
FLACKS: Oh, sure! Have a good show! Thanks again!
SOUND: Out they go.
LEW: That’d be your state-sponsored censorship, right there.
ED: Uh huh.
LEW: Apparently your father-in-law and the Prime Minister played competitive badminton together at Upper Canada College.
ED: Really? Wow.
LEW: Yeah, in nineteen-aught-six or something.
LEW: The old boys’ network. Jesus.
ED: Yeah. Lew? What’s Speckle Lake?
LEW: It was all over the paper this morning. Jesus, Ed, don’t you—. Well, never mind then. Don’t bring it up. Forget the whole thing.
ED: Okay, only…
LEW: Like I need this. Next time, he can call an election from a friggin’ abandoned Zellers somewhere.
LEW: Talk to Donna, okay? Today. She deserves it. We all do.
ED: Uh, okay. I will. I promise, uh—
LEW: Great. Door.
ED: You bet.
SOUND: Ed leaves, shutting the door.
LEW: (over the studio speaker) Ed Callahan, meet the Prime Minister.
ED: Nice to meet you, your, uh…
PM: Ed Callahan! Great to meet you. I’m a big fan!
ED: That’s right, your, uh, your people said you liked the show, and…
PM: I love it! Nobody’s got their finger on the pulse like you! You should come work for me.
ED: Oh, geez, I, uh… Okay: I’m just gonna put on these headphones so I can talk to the, uh, the, in there where all those people are…
PM: The booth?
ED: Exactly. Yes. But you don’t have to put any on.
PM: Okey dokey.
LEW: (over the headphones) Can you hear me?
ED: Uh, yes.
ED: No, I was just saying yes to my boss in the, uh…
PM: Oh, the booth.
LEW: Remember, forget about the Speckle Lake thing. Don’t bring it up.
ED: Lew, jeez, you know…
LEW: No, Ed. Shut up. You’re up.
ED: Uh huh. Oh.
SOUND: The opening guitar chords from Republica’s “Ready to Go” play. An announcer cuts in over the music.
ANNOUNCER: He is the man. He speaks the truth. He comes in peace. He says what you would say if you had the brains and the guts and were sitting in his chair. He shoots from the lip. It’s time for the Ed Callahan Hour. (canned applause) Ed’s very special guest is the Right Honourable Peter Patterson, the Prime Minister of Canada. You can talk to the Prime Minister by calling 416 555 TALK or 416 555 BULL. On a cellphone, the number is star-CMRB. Long distance it’s 1 800 595 5544. So give Ed a call and make sure he asks the Prime Minister the questions you want answered. And now, here he is, the angry conscience of the nation, Eeeed Caaaaalllaahan!!
SOUND: Republica music fades in again, then out.
ED: Good morning Canada and welcome to a very special edition of the Ed Callahan Hour. Today my guest is none other than the Prime Minister of this fair country, the Right Honourable Peter Patterson. What do you suppose the “Right” means?
ED: The “Right” in “Right Honourable”. I mean, you’re with the Liberal party.
PM: Well, I dunno Ed. I guess it means I’m always right. Ha ha ha.
ED: What you say goes. Your way or the highway.
ED and the PM: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
ED: You’re Mr. Right!
PM: You bet! That’s me!
ED: Speckle Lake.
LEW (over headphones): Ed…
ED: Is it a long drive? When I was a kid, we had a cottage on a lake, Graham Lake it was called and it would take hours to get there.
PM: I… uh. Ha ha.
LEW: Ed. Jesus. Ed.
ED: So? Is it? Long drive?
PM: Okay. Let me just say…
PM: I’ve never been there.
ED: To Speckle Lake.
PM: Yes. If that’s what it’s called.
LEW: Get off it, Ed.
ED: Oh. Okay. There you have it. So, you’re in town today for something special?
PM: Yes, that’s right, Ed. I’m making a speech later at the dedication of a new Variety Club facility for wheelchair athletes. But I wanted to come on your show and make an announcement first.
ED: Okay, Mr. Prime Minister. The country is listening. Go ahead.
PM: You have the ear of the entire country on this show. So I thought what better place to make an election call, to officially call the election but on your show. So that’s it. The date will be October 11th.
ED: Okay ladies and gentlemen. You heard it here first. October 11th we go to the polls. How do you like your chances?
PM: See, that’s why I love Ed Callahan. No beating around the bush.
PM: Anyway, it’s always up to the people, but I think we’ll do all right. The economy’s looking good, and I think this government can take some credit for that. The fresh water deal we’ve secured with the U.S. will insure…
ED: No no, I mean how do you like your chances with this Speckle Lake thing hanging over your head?
LEW: Ed! No!
PM: I don’t think it’s hanging… I… Ed, look. Okay. Here’s what I’m prepared to say about it at this time: I’ve never been to Speckle Lake.
ED: Yeah, well, neither have I. But I’m not up to my eyeballs in crap over it. I mean, have you seen the Globe today? That’s the Globe and Mail, the nation’s newspaper. Not some rag.
PM: We took an early flight this morning down from Ottawa, I haven’t seen it, but let me just say: I’ve never been to Speckle Lake.
ED: Good enough for me.
LEW: Enough. Move on.
ED: Just say it one more time.
ED: That you’ve never been there. Just once more, nice and clear. And that’ll be the end of it, as far as I’m concerned.
PM: I’ll say it as often as you like.
ED: Good, because if somebody goes out during the election and finds out that you have been to Speckle Lake, then what the media will do is play your denial over and over again, while they go ahead and prove you were there. Over and over, like rap music. Because it’s such a clear statement, which is so rare out of a politician. They’ll play it so much it won’t mean anything anymore, it’ll just sit there, dumb and thick and on you like cancer. But you won your own seat by a pile last time, right? Go ahead.
LEW: I will have your ass.
PM: Let me say this about that: I have never met this young woman.
ED: Okay. Do you want to say that again, nice and clear, a couple of times?
LEW: Commercial, you prick.
PM: I thought I was here to discuss substantial issues.
ED: Absolutely. But I want to know who I’m discussing them with.
LEW: Go to a commercial, now. I swear to God…
PM: No, look, Ed, please.
PM: Just, please.
ED: Please what?
PM: We just need a day or so to look into these…
ED: So you have seen them.
ED: I see.
PM: So, please. Can we talk about—
ED: The wife seen them?
PM: I, that’s why I need some time. My family, this will…
ED: Listen it’s out there, okay? I need to do my job here and ask these things.
PM: I know, I know. It’s just—
ED: You’re worried about your job.
PM (suddenly): NO! I don’t give a shit about that. This will hurt—me—my wife, she. It’s very difficult, this office and, (and now he’s weeping) I need some time! It’s your job, I know, and you’re just doing your job. You’ve got pressures, too. You’re Ed Callahan…
ED: Mr. Prime Minister…
PM: I just wanted to be there with her when she picked up the paper and saw… that filth. I had to be here. To announce the election.
ED: Mr. Prime Minister…
PM: Honey, if you’re listening, I love you, I swear, and I’ll be home soon—
PM: —and we’ll talk.
A pause: the PM sniffles.
ED: We’re going to go to commercial now. When we return, we take your calls for our guest today, the Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable Peter Patterson. This is Ed Callahan.
SOUND: Auto insurance commercial starts up with the sound of squealing tires and screams, followed by earnest copy read earnestly. (“Have you been told recently you’re too old to drive anymore?”)
ED: You okay, uh…sir?
PM: Whew. That didn’t go like I thought it would. Angus told me you’d lay off.
ED: Yeah, well, uh…
PM: My people said go ahead, this would be fine, this would be no problem. Idiots.
ED: Yeah, well, uh…
PM: That’s what I said. Ed Callahan, lay off? Jerks. I have jerks working for me, Ed. Just on the other side of the glass there. I hope this thing’s still on and they can hear me.
ED: Uh huh, I think they can. They look like they can, I think…
PM: Wave if you can hear me, you stupid jerks. Oh look. They can. You got me into this, you hear me? “Go on the show, he promised he won’t bring up Speckle Lake.” Peckerheads. He’s Ed Callahan. How about one of you getting the wife on the phone. Get her on board with this.
LEW: (over the headphones) Ed?
ED: Yes, uh, Lew.
PM: No, call me Pete. I’m afraid your father-in-law isn’t going to be too happy with you about this.
ED: No, sorry, your, uh, whatever, I’m talking to my boss again.
PM: Oh. Sorry. Ha ha. That’s funny.
LEW: You trying to get me fired? Is this some kind of sick revenge because I’m shagging your… because of my relationship with Donna?
ED: No, I just, uh…
LEW: I swear to God, if I get fired, you’re coming with me. Understand?
ED: Sure, uh…
LEW: And, if I can figure a way to save my own ass and get you fired for this, I will.
ED: Well, I guess I can’t blame you for—
LEW: Take some calls, okay? We’re gonna softball the first few. And if you mention this Speckle Lake, if you bring up any body of water anywhere in the world, we’re cutting you dead and playing Abba, get me?
ED: Uh, okay, Lew.
PM: Listen, Ed. No hard feelings. You have a job to do. This was going to come out sooner or later. I’d have to do the weeping thing eventually. It’s just that I usually like to get a few weeks into a campaign before humiliating myself.
ED: I see, okay, uh…
PM: Call me Pete, I mean it.
ED: Oh, well, I don’t know if I could do…
PM: Call me Mr. Right! I love that!
Ed and the PM laugh. The PM laughs a lot.
LEW: You’re up.
ED: We’re back to take your calls for the Prime Minister.
The PM sniffles.
ED: First up is Maureen from Mississauga. Go ahead Maureen.
MAUREEN: Yes, hello?
ED: Yes Maureen, You’re on Ed Callahan. Go ahead.
ED: Hello, Maureen.
MAUREEN: You made him cry. Ed? You made the Prime Minister cry.
ED: Your point, Maureen?
MAUREEN: Well, that’s not right, is it? He’s the head of our, of our…
ED: Let’s be clear, I wasn’t hurting the Prime Minister. I didn’t have the Prime Minister’s nipple in a vice or anything. I was merely asking questions based on an item from the Globe this morning.
MAUREEN: I know, but, oh, the Prime Minister, Ed.
ED: It’s called journalism, Maureen. My job, you know? Why they hired me? Thanks, Maureen. Our next caller—
PM: I can vouch for that.
PM: About my nipple. He never touched me, folks.
ED: … Thanks, Mr. Prime Minister. Our next caller is Dave from Kamloops. Dave?
DAVE: Uh huh?
ED: You’re on Ed Callahan.
DAVE: No I’m not, but I wish I was.
ED: Sorry, Dave?
DAVE: I’d smash your face.
ED: I see. Do you have a question for the Prime Minister?
DAVE: I have a question for you.
DAVE: Apologize, you prick.
ED: Um, where do I start. First, that’s not a—
DAVE: No more smart mouth! Apologize!
PM: Dave, if I may, how are ya, Peter Patterson here. He was just doing his job. I don’t blame him.
DAVE: No. Look. If some guy made Bush cry, the stock market would crash.
ED: Uh huh.
DAVE: You’re the head of state. You don’t, you can’t do that or…
ED: Or what, Dave from Kamloops?
DAVE: If Bush cried, they’d send out the navy seals to get the guy. That’s all.
SOUND: Dave hangs up.
PM: He’s upset. I understand that.
ED: Well, goody for you. Donald from Oakville, you’re on Ed Callahan.
SOUND: There is breathing on the line.
ED: Donald? You there? You got a question? You want to take a shot at mean old Ed as well?
SOUND: More breathing.
ED: Donald the mouth breather from Oakville has nothing to contribute to the discussion today, so—
DONALD (who is six years old): Is it a war, Mr. Callahan?
ED: Beg your pardon?
DONALD: I came into the kitchen and he was crying and mum said I could call. Is he crying cause of a war?
ED: No, Donny, it’s not a war. It’s—
DONALD: Don’t be sad, mister Prime Minister.
PM: Thank you son. God bless.
ED: Oh, Jesus. Donald? Donny. It’s okay. It’s not a war. It’s a problem with his dick.
ED: His peepee.
DONALD: Oh, okay.
ED: Ask your mum to explain.
LEW: That is it. You are so cut off.
ED: Fine. We’ll be right back folks, we’re just going to do a couple of commercials here while we look around for something. Somebody dropped some scruples on the way into the studio and we’re all going to get on our hands and knees and look for them. I think they’re under the desk here, yeah, there they are, right next to my producer’s balls. You’re listening to a very special edition of the Ed Callahan Hour.
SOUND: Republica comes up and over his voice.
SOUND: A bar. So, bar sounds. Ed slides into a seat.
BARTENDER: Evening, Mr. Callahan. The usual?
ED: Sure, great.
BARTENDER: Coming up.
SOUND: The bartender embarks on a blender drink.
BARTENDER: Great show today. I heard all about it.
ED: Thanks, thanks a lot.
BARTENDER: Was he actually bawling?
BARTENDER: Were there like, tears?
ED: Oh, well…
BARTENDER: I’d kill to see that.
ED: Really? Uh, why, though?
BARTENDER: I don’t even know. I mean, I like the guy. I voted for him more or less. I don’t know. I guess just to see the Prime Minister bawling. It just seems like a great experience.
BARTENDER: That’s power. That’s real power you wield, Mr. Callahan.
SOUND: He places drink before Ed.
BARTENDER: You bet. Hey, Ms. Mackenzie!
FLORENCE: Hi there. Vodka tonic please.
BARTENDER: Coming up. We’ll have the whole station in here before you know it.
FLORENCE: Wouldn’t be surprised. It’s been a helluva day. Mind if I join you, Ed?
ED: No, Florence, no, not at…
FLORENCE: Thanks. Another interesting day. Lew looks like he had an aneurysm. So, of course, we’re all grateful to you for that.
ED: Oh, well…
FLORENCE: You won’t get fired over this, will you?
ED: Hard to say. I don’t, uh, think, well, maybe I could, I don’t… Uh, good work today, too.
ED: Yup. Absolutely. I got to work today with no problems at all.
FLORENCE: Well. Thank you.
ED: Yes. I avoided the Gardiner. Like you said. So… way to go. Thanks.
FLORENCE: Anytime, Ed.
BARTENDER: Here you go, Ms. Mackenzie.
FLORENCE: Thank you, Todd.
ED: Did you just… is his name…?
FLORENCE: Todd. You know that. All the years you’ve been coming here.
ED: No, sure, but… what’s the name of the guy, then, the parking guy?
FLORENCE: In the parking lot? I have no idea. I don’t drive.
ED: You don’t drive? But you’re the…isn’t that kind of…
ED: No, well, yeah.
FLORENCE: Cause I do traffic?
ED: No, well, yeah.
FLORENCE: But that’s not what makes me qualified to do my job. Right? I’m a radio journalist. Just like you. How much do you have to understand about an issue to do a show about it?
FLORENCE: I mean, you probably couldn’t even do the job you do if you held any beliefs very deeply.
ED: Yes, ha ha…
FLORENCE: I mean, I heard you last week, defending the Prime Minister. You called him the leader we need, or something—
ED: Yes, um, deserve, actually…
FLORENCE: —and then there you are today, sticking it to him like that. And you’re on me for not owning a car.
ED: Ha ha, yes…
A pause. The awkward kind.
FLORENCE: Hey Ed?
ED: Uh, uh huh? Florence?
FLORENCE: How tall would you say I am.
ED: Oh, geez. You’re in the, well, uh, the five foot plus range.
FLORENCE: Five foot plus?
ED: Yes. But plus a lot.
FLORENCE: Plus how much.
ED: Oh, geez…uh, I couldn’t say…
SOUND: She stands up.
ED: Oh, God. I’m lousy at this kind of thing. Uh…
FLORENCE: Get up. Here. Back to back.
ED: Oh, uh, okay.
SOUND: He gets up.
FLORENCE: Okay, now. Got a guess?
ED: Well, I’d say, if I had to, that I’ve got maybe three inches on you. Or so. You know.
FLORENCE: Okay. And how tall are you?
ED: Well. That’s the question of the day, isn’t it. I just, uh, why?
FLORENCE: No reason. Never mind. I can never remember how tall I am, that’s all. I have a different idea every day. I thought you might be someone who understands what that’s like.
ED: I, uh, you know what, Florence? Yes. I do.
FLORENCE: That’s good.
Another pause, of whatever type the actors can fashion.
FLORENCE: Ed, and this question is laden with subtext, will you drive me home?
FLORENCE: It’s an invitation. To drive me home.
FLORENCE: And stuff.
FLORENCE: I’m just saying, would you like to. You seem unhappy. Everyone knows about Lew and your wife. It’s been a day.
ED: Yes, well…
FLORENCE: And I like you.
ED: Ah, yes, well…
FLORENCE: And you seem a compatible height.
ED: Well, Florence, I, gee…
FLORENCE: Do you like me? She asked, nerves strained pretty much to the brink, as this is something she never does.
ED: Oh, ha ha.
ED: I do like you.
FLORENCE: That was remarkably unequivocal. For you. Excellent timing.
ED: I, yes, I know, I… because I do.
ED: I do.
FLORENCE: Wonderful. Shall we?
ED: I want to. Florence? I want to.
FLORENCE: Yes, Ed, that’s good, we’ve gotten that far. And now the next bit: pay for these and rush out of here. I can suggest a good route to my building.
ED: But Florence? I don’t know how.
ED: Do you understand?
FLORENCE: Um, no. Which part of the upcoming event do you not know how to do? I know you can drive.
ED: Geez. How can I… I would have to be someone else, you see? I, you represent a whole… thing that I don’t recognize. You see?
FLORENCE: I represent what? People can’t represent things, Ed. I’m a person. At the most, I represent a sexual liaison between co-workers. The possibility of one.
ED: No, hope, actually.
ED: Right, which I, don’t, actually, recognize.
ED: I’ve constructed things very… it’s how I live, you see…and it doesn’t, it can’t, include…so…
FLORENCE: That’s rather more than I bargained for when I hunted you down in here. That’s a lot for a girl.
ED: I wish… I wish…
FLORENCE: Yes, Ed? What.
ED: I don’t know. Either that you could just be that, meaning you, meaning not something that represents something, or that I could somehow… include the idea of you… in me. Or…
FLORENCE: It’s fairly exhausting being Ed Callahan, isn’t it.
ED: I, oh yeah.
FLORENCE: I’m going to go. As quickly as possible.
FLORENCE: Lights are on the blink at Bayview and Lawrence.
FLORENCE: Take the Parkway.
SOUND: She goes.
SOUND: Sound of a car stopping, followed by the car door opening and closing. Ed walks to the front door of the house, sighs, and unlocks and walks in.
DONNA: Ed? Is that you?
ED: (Closing the door) Uh…
DONNA: You selfish bastard.
ED: Geez, honey, it’s nice to see you too; I, uh…
DONNA: You don’t care. This will be beautiful for your career. Whatever happens. But others.
ED: It just, I didn’t…
DONNA: Didja see the Star? The late edition? “Radio Host Makes PM Weep On Air.”
ED: Really? Can I, do you have a…
DONNA: Lew will get fired. You’re going to get him fired. You don’t care.
ED: Oh, I don’t think…
DONNA: I didn’t think you had it in you.
DONNA: Revenge. You get fired, you’ll get a job somewhere. But Lew. It’s over for him. Daddy won’t just fire him. He’ll be blackballed. Lew will be finished in radio.
ED: It wasn’t revenge.
ED: No, I was just, like, doing my job, and… I mean, I had to, sort of… it’s who I am, more or less…
DONNA: I believe you. Part of me wishes you did it to get back at Lew because of all this, because of us, but it’s something a guy with a spine might do, so it didn’t fit.
ED: Ha ha…uh, I meant to ask you about Lew, uh…
DONNA: Yes? Yes Ed? Yes?
ED: No. Nothing.
DONNA: Are you sure?
ED: Yeah, I just…no. No.
ED: Uh, no.
DONNA: Well, that’s just beautiful.
ED: Yeah. Okay…
DONNA: That’s it then?
ED: Uh huh. I guess. What’s for—
DONNA: Well, that’s as close as you’ve ever come.
ED: Yeah. Ha ha. So…
DONNA: You raced out of here this morning when I brought this up.
ED: You went into the bathroom, I thought we were done, so…
DONNA: Yeah, okay, Ed.
ED: So. Dinner? Is there—
DONNA: I’m sleeping with him.
ED (after a pause): Huh.
DONNA: Go ahead. Feign surprise.
ED: No, well, you know, it’s always a… Lew calls it a situation.
DONNA: Does he.
ED: Yeah. He says we need to work it out before Angus finds out. So…
ED: Uh, uh huh? Donna?
DONNA: Here’s the next thing that’s gonna happen. I’m going to ask you a question, right? And you’re going to answer it? But you’re going to do it in one, complete, sentence.
ED: Oh, yes, it’s, ha ha…
ED: Uh huh?
DONNA: Pay attention. Here it comes.
DONNA: I’m screwing your boss. Ed. Do you care?
ED: Oh, uh…
DONNA: One sentence.
ED: Yeah, uh…
DONNA: That ends in a period.
There’s a pause.
ED: I do, yes, absolutely care, because, uh…
ED: Yes, you, Donna, are my…
ED: Yes. You’re my…
ED: MY WIFE. And, so, but…
DONNA: No. stop.
ED: So, sorry, but…
DONNA: No, stop there.
ED: But, I mean, what you want is the, is the…
ED: … the question, I think, I, but…
DONNA: Just, stop.
ED: I know, too, that I’ve been…
DONNA: You couldn’t just stop at the period.
ED: It’s not that simple, though, I mean, it’s a, it’s a, uhh…
DONNA: A what, Ed? A what..
ED: Like, a marriage. So…
ED: So that’s not so simple, and…
DONNA: Like a marriage. Okay. Listen up. Tonight, I sleep here, and then that’s it. From tomorrow, I pretend to sleep here, but really I sleep in town. With Lew in this, this shitty little whatever he got while he gets out of his marriage.
ED: He’s leaving, uhh, what’s her…?
DONNA: Louise, yes. Jesus, Ed, you’re hopeless. Now listen. It’s about the station. If daddy finds out about this, he’ll be pissed. He’ll fire Lew and I’ll never get the station. And I want the station. It’s all I want. He’ll give it to my cousin Marty. So this is it. The one thing you can do for me. The one simple, basic thing that could be the favour you could never do for me in nine years of being together. A simple, easy, thing.
ED: Uh, well, if I can… I guess I owe that much…
DONNA: Yes, Ed, you do. All you have to do, is dump me. The marriage is over, we’re going our separate ways, and as far as people are concerned, as far as my father is concerned, you wanted out.
ED: Oh, so…
DONNA: Make me the bitch. The uncontrollable harpy that made your life hell for nine years. I don’t care. But it has to be your idea.
ED: I see…
DONNA: Can you do it, Ed? Do you see what I’m asking? A moment will come, when you have to actually say it. When you will have to stand up and take responsibility for it. Can you do that?
ED: I don’t know. I think so, I, for the…
DONNA: For me?
DONNA: For the marriage? For once ?
ED: I don’t… I think… Well… Huh.
DONNA: Oh god.
LEW: That’s the thing, okay? I’m not asking. I’m not telling. I’m not friggin’ ordering, I’m… I’m, okay, ordering you to do it. I am. Ordering. One simple thing Angus asks, don’t say anything about the stupid lake thing and the girl, and I go, Okay, Angus, mum’s the word, and the first friggin thing out of your mouth…
A beat. Something faint from Ed.
LEW: I beg your—what? Did you say something, Ed?
ED: Uh, no, I…
LEW: You don’t get to say things. This is not a discussion. Angus says we embarrassed him in front of his school chum, okay? Which is enough for Angus to shut down the station, because he doesn’t really care, you know? I think he’d be happier out of the Canadian radio business. So when we become a problem for him, he’d just as soon flush the whole thing. Not my job. Not your job. Everyone here. Understand? You wanna be responsible for everyone here getting thrown out on the street?
ED: No, I see…
LEW: No. Don’t you start that crap this time. No “I see”. No “Okay, uh, Lew”, and then you say whatever you like once you’re on the air. No. You don’t go on today until you convince me you’ll give me what I want.
ED: Which is…?
LEW: What am I…? What have I been…? An apology, you—. An apology. To the PM. To the people. You’re sorry you made him cry.
ED: Okay, only…
LEW: No. No only. Only what?
ED: It sort of goes against… the, uh…
LEW: What, your image?
ED: Yes. No. Uh…
LEW: Listen. Screw that. You can go back to being Ed Callahan next week. Ed Callahan, who’s never wrong, who never shows weakness, who takes people apart by the sheer force of his… rightness or whatever. Listen. I know you. I get you. The whole thing. The whole Mr. Mumbley Off the Air/He’s a Big Friggin Animal On the Air thing. Donna tells me. You made her life hell, you know that? She tells me. Hours in the cereal aisle. How she had to make every decision, and how you’d never tell her if it was right or wrong. Your wedding, you take ten minutes to come up with “I do.” The friggin’ priest goes “Sir? Can I help?” Donna in tears. You should be in jail just for doing that to her.
ED: Listen, I…
LEW: Yes? What? What.
LEW: Yeah. And then on the air, the angry voice of the nation. Jesus, it makes me sick. It’s a friggin’ act. They both are. So don’t tell me you can’t drop it for five minutes and fix this mess.
ED: No, it’s not an… It’s how I…
LEW: Shut up. Here. You will read this. And I’ll be right there, my finger on the button, okay? You stray from this copy and it’s over. For all of us.
ED: You don’t know what you’re…
LEW: Again, I’m not asking.
ED: No, I mean… It’s not… It’s…
ED: It’s how I live…
LEW: What does that mean?
ED: It’s how I live. It’s how I’ve worked out… myself.
LEW: And what does that mean?
ED: It… nothing. It means… okay.
ED: So, okay.
SOUND: Ed leaves.
SOUND: Donna enters.
LEW: Donna! What are you doing here? You look fan—
DONNA: It has to happen right now.
DONNA: He has to tell Daddy right now.
LEW: Well, geez, Donna, he’s just going on the air.
DONNA: Daddy’s going to Dubai today, on business. He might not come back.
DONNA: He’s going to have a heart attack.
LEW: How do you…?
DONNA: Dubai. Daddy always has a heart attack when he goes to Dubai.
DONNA: Three times in a row. They give him salty food and fifteen-year-old hookers. Last year he flew home with tubes coming out of him. He was purple, Lew.
LEW: Geez. Okay. Come with me.
SOUND: In the studio. The Republica song plays and Ed’s intro starts, all under the following. Lew comes on over the studio speaker.
LEW: Ed, this is Doreen Farr. She’s today’s guest.
DOREEN: I’m psychic!
ED: Uh, wow. Okay.
LEW: After you read the apology, we’ll take some calls and Doreen there will do some predictions.
LEW: After you read the thing.
DOREEN: Are you Ed Callahan?
ED: Uh… uh huh. Listen, Lew, uh…
DOREEN: Doreen Farr. I’m psychic.
ED: Yes, Hi. I, I just have to do a thing at the start, and then I’ll introduce you, okay?
DOREEN: Okay. I love you, Ed.
DOREEN: You’re great. Are you okay?
ED: Not…no. I, I have to put these on, so that I can hear the, in there. You don’t have to wear them.
DOREEN: Okay. I love you. You’re going to be fine.
ED: Okay, uh…
DOREEN: Doreen. Doreen Farr. I’m psychic.
DONNA: Ed? Can you hear me?
DOREEN: No, Doreen. Doreen Farr.
ED: No, I mean, I can, in here, in the headphones, I can hear my…
DONNA: Ed. Here in the booth.
ED: Oh. Hi, Donna, what are you…?
DONNA: Listen. Daddy’s on the phone. From Grand Cayman. He’s leaving for Dubai this afternoon.
ED: Dubai? Jeez, tell him to be careful. Tell him to lay off the salty—
DONNA: You have to talk to him now.
ED: Now? I’m, I hafta do the—
DONNA: Now. He’s going away. Do it in a commercial or something. This is it. You have to tell him.
ED: Oh, boy…
DONNA: He has to go! You have to tell him now you’re leaving me. This is the last thing you’ll ever have to do for me.
LEW: You’re up.
SOUND: The intro winds up. There is a pause. A deep breath from Ed.
ED: Good morning, Canada. This is Ed Callahan. I… I’m going to start today’s show with a little something I’ve been handed to read. It’s on the station’s letterhead, and… and my name’s on it, so… And once I’ve done that we’ll get started with today’s show. My guest today is psychic Doreen Farr. We’ll take your calls and Doreen’s ready to make some predictions about, about, well, the future, I guess, right?
ED: But they’re not real, right?
ED: They’re just for what, entertainment purposes?
DOREEN: Oh, no.
ED: But nobody really believes that stuff.
DOREEN: That’s the beauty of the future, Ed. You don’t have to believe in it.
LEW: Ed. Read it.
ED: Okay, so as I say, I have this thing here, to read out, and then we’ll get started. Okay. But first I’m going to take a call.
ED: Surprise guest on the phone, first off. Angus, calling very long distance. Hello.
ED: Hello Angus from Grand Cayman. You’re on the air. You’re on Ed Callahan.
ANGUS: Ed? That you?
LEW: What the hell do you think—
ED: How’s it going, Angus? Say hi to Doreen.
ANGUS: Huh? Who? Is that you, Ed?
ED: Doreen? You getting anything off Angus?
DOREEN: Let me see… He’s, is he related to you, Ed?
ED: Why yes he is, Doreen. How did you—way to go. Angus is my father-in-law. Wow.
ANGUS: Ed? What’s going on?
ED: Well, Angus, sir, the truth is: I have something to tell you.
ANGUS: Well? Didja straighten out that bullshit with the Prime Minister yet?
ED: I’m working on it, Angus.
DOREEN: Mister? Did you have a dog? A black dog? Did it die?
ED: Doreen, we’re not doing that now. Angus. Listen. I want to know: do you know what you’ve got in Donna?
ED: That’s my wife, folks. Donna. His daughter. She’s something. I was never… well, she’s something. Right?
ANGUS: Sure. What’s your point, Ed? I got a boat-plane to catch.
ED: Right, Angus? Right, Lew?
LEW: What are you doing? Huh?
DONNA: Ed. Stop it. Not on the air.
ED: Lew says right, too. Angus, I want you to know I would never… that I always… give her the station, okay?
ANGUS: Give her the…?
ED: You see, folks, Angus is not only my father-in-law. He also owns this radio station, as well as a lot of other things.
DOREEN: Mister? She’s safe. Your dog is safe, okay? She’s in a happy place.
ANGUS: What?? What’s going on?
LEW: Okay. I’m cutting him off and you’re going to read the apology and then we play forty minutes of commercials.
ED: No! Don’t! If you do, I won’t, I won’t…
DOREEN: Ed, are you frightened?
ED (to Lew): I’ll do it, okay. All of it. Right now.
ED: Just let me…okay. Jesus.
DOREEN: Don’t be frightened.
ED: I am. I am frightened.
DOREEN: That’s okay. Do you have a story?
DOREEN: Tell the story.
ED: Yes, okay. Two brothers, Siamese twins. Get along great. They’ve worked out how to live, all the things, like how to sleep when the other one wants to watch TV, how to pretend to read when the other one is trying to get a girl to kiss him. They’ve figured it out. It’s how they live. One day, they go to a restaurant, their favourite one, and one orders mussels and the other orders clams. The food comes and they’re both happy. Mussels says: can I have one of your clams? and Clams says sure and gives him one. Turns out, he gives Mussels the one bad clam in the whole bowl. Mussels eats the clam and feels woozy right away. Hold it, he says, we need to get to the bathroom. They go, and it’s down some stairs. Mussels is feeling woozy and he throws Clams’s balance right off, and they fall. Clams hits the bottom first, and Mussels lands on top of him. Now Clams is bleeding to death internally and Mussels is swelling up like a balloon—he’s going to choke. I wonder if you people have any idea what it is you’re asking me to do.
DOREEN: They don’t. It’s okay Ed. I love you.
ED: Right. I have a question. Given the world, given all of it, people and how they are and how everything shifts and everything; given how the meaning changes all the time, the meaning of everything, everything, and given that because of the shifty nature of everything, making any decision at all is a willful act of deception, a lie, and also a failure, how can I be expected to decide anything? To believe anything or, or, know anything? Or do anything. How do you do it? Anyone? Angus?
ANGUS: Is that a question, Ed? What the hell is this?
ED: I just, I don’t know. I figured it out this way. I worked out a way to conduct my life. This is how I live. How do others do it?
DOREEN: Ed? They don’t. It’s okay.
ED: Right. Okay. Angus?
ANGUS: Yes, Ed?
ED: There’s a woman here at the station, her name is Florence. She reads the traffic in the mornings. You don’t pay her enough, Angus. She’s very good at it. I’m banging her one day over at the house and Donna walks in.
ANGUS: You, what?
ED: I had to, Angus, Donna wasn’t interested in doing any of the…things I wanted her to do. Anyway, it’s over. I want out of the marriage. Your little girl won’t put on the nice leather hood I got her for Christmas.
ANGUS: You sick…! What the hell are you…? I swear to God, I’ll…
ED: (Cutting off the phone call) Yeah, whatever, Gus. Okay. Now this. Ladies and gentlemen, I hold in my hand an apology the station drafted that I’m supposed to read, concerning the little incident with the Prime Minister the other day. It says ‘I, Ed Callahan, wish to express my whatever at the unfortunate, you know, whatever.” The point is, I shouldn’t have made him cry. I was way too tough on him. He’s the Prime Minister, for goodness’ sake. So I want to say I’m sorry to all of you for doing that, and from now on, I’m going to think before I speak. I’m going to consider the feelings of others, and I’m going to stop conducting myself with so much, so much…rage. Everybody’s point of view is valid. Everybody’s fallible. I will, in the future, stop treating everyone with suspicion and give people the greatest gift I can: the benefit of the doubt. I’m Ed Callahan. And I’m sorry for it.
DOREEN: Oh, Ed. I love you.
ED: Doreen Farr, I love you too. We’ll be right back.
SOUND: A pause, followed by a few bars of upbeat music, which is followed by sirens and car crash noises followed by a car insurance ad. The sound from the ad goes from being full to tinny as it emerges from the car speaker at the top of the next scene.
SOUND: In Ed’s car. The ad from above plays on. From outside, there are real cars really honking.
ED: Okay. Okay. All right. Gimme a sec. Just…
SOUND: Over the radio:
FLORENCE: I’m Florence McKenzie with another traffic update: There seems to be some sort of tie-up on the Leaside Bridge some or all of the northbound lanes seem to be blocked. No word yet on what’s going on out there, but if you’re stuck in it, give me a call at star-690 on your cellphone.
ED: Oh, Florence. I’m sorry. Tell them the Bayview extension looks good.
SOUND: Sound of Ed’s car door opening. Sound of footsteps, lots of honking horns.
FLORENCE: I’m just getting word that there’s a car sitting sideways on the viaduct, just, well, sitting there. Apparently there’s no sign of a collision or anything, but there is a stalled car is sitting in the middle…
SOUND: The radio sounds fade. The sound of Ed pulling himself up on top of the concrete wall at the side of the bridge. The car horns get abnormally loud, then stop. The sound of wind.