Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Taking of the Orange Line 1- 2-3

There's been some talk of late about the possibility of terrorists launching attacks on us here in Washington, DC on our beloved Metro system. DCeiver isn't worried--and not just because we'll never have to use the system during rush hour ever again. It's just that we don't think that a terrorist is going have an easy time exploiting WMATA for its nefarious gains. There are built in defenses that we don't even appreciate. It's the truth. And to demonstrate that truth, we offer our readers another one of our famous playlets. Behold the power of verisimilitude!

Early morning. A Wednesday. An al Qaeda safehouse in Band Camp. An older terrorist is visiting a younger member of a local sleeper cell. By weird coincidence, they are named Balthazar Getty and Leelee Sobieski, respectively.

Balthazar Getty: Leelee! Wake up! You're taking the author's use of the term "sleeper cell" far too literally.

Leelee Sobieski: Whaa--oh! As-Salaam-Alaikum, Balthazar.

BG: Enough of that. If this is to be my last day on this Earth, you can spare me all the mullah-tastic iambic pentameter bullshit.

LS: Sorry. I'm a little overexcited. This is the day, my friend. Years of planning and training, culminating in deserved martyrdom. Give me a second. I'm basically all ready to go.

BG: You are? I don't see any explosive strapped to you.

LS: Oh, I'm not strapping. Are you strapping?

BG: Yes. And I'm getting prickly rash in this heat.

LS: See? That's why I'm bagging. I have the bomb all set up. It's in my rucksack.

BG: Rucksack?

LS: bag...

BG: It's a fucking backpack Leelee. A backpack. What, are we British now?

LS: No...

BG: So it's a fucking backpack.

LS: Okay, okay. Geez, you're in a mood.

[They leave]

Balthazar and Leelee are in their car, on their way to the Vienna Metro Station.

LS: So, I've been doing a lot of thinking.

BG: What about?

LS: The afterlife, paradise. You know, sort of planning my day tomorrow.

BG: Yeah?

LS: Yeah.

BG: Well...okay.

LS: Yeah.

BG: (sighing) What's on your mind, Leelee?

LS: Well, I was just wondering if it's true--about, you know...what they say...about the virgins?

BG: Yeah, they always talk about the virgins.

LS: I feel like, you know, it sounds too good to be true, you know? Like, maybe you get gypped and get only sixty-five instead of seventy-two, and you're there--you know, first day in heaven--and you're supposed to be happy. You don't want to complain. You don't want to seem--

BG: Ungrateful.

LS: Right. Ungrateful. Because sixty-five virgins. I mean, that's sixty-five more than I have right now, right? They just hammer home that seventy-two. It's a selling point.

BG: I don't know how they arrived at that number.

LS: F'real. Anyway. You worry about getting shorted. And you worry how many of these virgins are like, you know, really good looking from behind, but then you get 'em turned around, and it's like, Qaddafi-city, you know?

BG: Gaaaa. Don't even put that image in my head, dude.

LS: That's what I'm saying! I don't wanna have to cross the line of death just to get some tail, right?

BG: Now I got that craggy fuck's face in my head.

LS: It's like fucking Edward bin Olmos!

BG: Nice. Yeah. I see what you're saying. Me? Personally? I hope that they aren't virgins.

LS: Seriously?

BG: Yeah! Think about it. I have a half a ton of explosives strapped to me. My life is about the culminate in the biggest way possible. I'm about to put my foot down in this bitch, you know? So why would I want to fuck a bunch of virgins?

LS: They're more fun to fuck?

BG: That's what everyone thinks, but follow me here. I'm going to blow my ass into a million pieces. Shit. I don't have to apologize for shit. I'm the cock of the walk. Why do I want to bed down with some giggly ass virgin. Fuck that. You ever fucked a virgin? Fucking awkward. They don't know where anything goes. They don't know how to move? How to get it flowing. You get little twitty questions, fumbling, apologies. That sound like paradise to you? I'm not going to heaven to walk some dead virgin through the paces. I'm thinking: don't I deserve some bitches with experience? Someone who can read me by looking at me, who's feeling me, who knows better to stand there and gawk? When I get to heaven, I"m telling you: I'm on the lookout for some superfly TNT poontang.

LS: That's an interesting point. But aren't virgins supposed to be, you know, funner?

BG: It's "more fun." And: who says that? Why should that be?

LS: Because, they' know...they're...

BG: Tighter? Who cares? I want some wildlife. I want the pussy safari. Not the pussy PetSmart.

LS: There's the lot. Pull in.

BG: ...I'm not saying I wanna have to strap a toboggan to my back...

LS: The lot! Pull in!

BG: What? Shit. I'm not paying to park today. Fuck that. Let's find a neighborhood and dump the car.

LS: It'll get towed.

BG: Yeah. Call it a value-added inconvenience.

Balthazar is procuring farecards as Leelee looks on.

LS: So, what station are we gonna hit?

BG: Heh. What station do you think we should hit?

LS: Aw, dude. Just tell me.

BG: No, I want to hear your opinion.

LS: Okay. Capitol South.

BG: No.

LS: Judy Square.

BG: Nope. No one there anyone'll miss.

LS: Smithsonian?

BG: Blow up art museums? Sounds kind of Talibany, don't it?

LS: They do some good work!

BG: They try too hard. They want to be liked too badly. Stink of desperation, if you ask me.

LS: Dupont Circle.

BG: No. I don't want to transfer. Plus, the Christians'll bomb that at some point, and I'd rather not piss them off.

LS: Good point. Those Christians will FUCK you up.

BG: Psychos. No. We're hitting Metro Center.

LS: (disappointed) Oh. Metro Center.

BG: You don't like Metro Center?

LS: No. It's a good target. It's's so obvious.

BG: Yeah. It's obvious because it's a good target. It's the crux of the system, center of everything. It'll cause a mass panic, take weeks to sort out, and make everything nice and FUBAR.

LS: I get it.

BG: But you don't want to do it.

LS: It's just...there are some cooler places. There are some edgier neighborhoods.

BG: Where do you go for strategic planning, dude? Fuckin' Zagats?

LS: No. Look. Metro Center is fine. Could you hurry up?

BG: Fuck. I hate working these things.

LS: The farecard machines are easy.

BG: Fuck that. This is confusing.

LS: It's easy. Look. It's got numbers and shit. Step by step. Just do what the thing tells you to do.

BG: Leelee, I'm a terrorist. I am on the wires of my fucking nerves. Constantly. If I go a little ADD sometimes, it's not because I'm some goofball. I'm under a lot of pressure.

LS: I'll do it.

BG: Oh, you'll do it?

LS: Move. I'll do it.

BG: Fine. (relents)

LS: Watch. Tell it you want multiple cards. Stick the minimum on. Bing bing. Now slide the card in. Wait.

BG: Yeah. Thanks for teaching me that. That'll come in handy the never times I do it again.

LS: Now you're just being pissy. (thoughtfully) I wonder if we should have gotten SmartTrip.

Leelee and Balthazar descend the escalator, standing on the right side.

LS: Georgetown.

BG: Huh?

LS: Georgetown. It's too bad the Metro doesn't go to Georgetown. It'd be fun to blow that shit up.

BG: Yeah, well. It doesn't go there.

LS: That's too bad.

BG: I don't think it'd be such a hot idea.

LS: I disagree. Rich fucking neighborhood. Historical fucking neighborhood.

BG: Nah. Georgetown is so over.

LS: Not true. There's always people there.

BG: Stuck up shop girls and pampered students. Low value targets.

LS: That's not true.

BG: Georgetown is so fucking yesterday. No one goes there anymore. It's played.

LS: Bush's daughters hang out there.

BG: Ha. Definition of played. I rest my case.

(There is a commotion behind them.)

Man: Ma'am! Would you please stap over and let us by?

(Leelee and Balthazar turn to see a tourist couple behind them, standing abreast on the escalator. A long line of irate passengers are stacked up behind them.)

Tourist Woman: Sir, don't you yell at me!

Man: We're trying to make the train!

Tourist Man: We're all trying to make the train!

LS: Ma'am. It's customary for people who want to ride down the escalator to stand on the right so that people who want to walk down can come down the left side.

Tourist Man: Customary? That's BS. It's an escalator.

Man: There are people who want to get by!

Tourist Woman: Fine! (steps aside, waggling her fat finger at the man as he tromps by) But there are no signs anywhere saying we have to! So you're wrong.

Tourist Man: God! People are so rude here!

BG: Look! Is it such a big fucking deal that you stand on the side for people who don't want to wait?

Tourist Woman: You all just think you're so important! Like you've just got to be on the next train!

BG: Is it such! A big fucking deal! To just stand on the side!

Tourist Man: Look, buddy. There's no sign posted saying that. How are we supposed to know?

Tourist Woman: We are NOT from around here.

BG: Obvs. But you are from the same fucking planet as the rest of us, right? I mean, you've got fucking eyes, right? You can look over at that escalator and SEE how people are doing that, right? You see how the people are standing to the right and walking on the left, can't you? I mean, you are capable of making an observation, right? You go to Minnesota and see snow on the god damned ground, you're smart enough to fucking INFER that you should put a coat on, right? You don't walk outside in a banana boat and bitch to the whole of St. Paul about how they're a bunch of dicks because they're town is freezing, do you?

Tourist Man: That's not the same thing and you--


(silence, BG turns back.)

LS: You need to calm down.

BS: Sorry.

LS: This escalator ride sure seems long.

BS: For Vienna? Yeah. Maybe the playwright was thinking Rosslyn when he dreamed this scene up.

Leelee and Balthazar board an inbound Orange line train.

(Leelee gets on the train)

LS: Finally!

(As Balthazar follows on, Leelee takes his bag and puts it on an inside seat, then flops down in the adjacent outside seat)

LS: All right. (stretches out) So, what next.

BG: I'll tell you what you're gonna do next. You're gonna pick that fucking backpack up and scoot the hell over.

LS: Oh, come on! I want to relax before the big event.

BG: Fuck you, and fuck you. Move that backpack or I'll move it for you, backwards up your alimentary canal.

LS: Jeez! Fine! I'll move it! (he moves it) I'll scoot over! (he scoots over, Balthazar sits beside him)

BG: That's right.

LS: What the hell is your problem?

BG: What's my problem? What's your problem? What are you thinking, taking up two seats like that?

LS: What was I thinking? I was thinking I was going to blow this train up.

BG: It's impolite. That's what I'm saying. It's impolite.

LS: Impolite. I'm al Qaeda, man. Okay? I'm hardcore. I don't work from the Little Miss Polly Priss Book of Social Niceties exactly.

BG: Oh, yeah. You're so fucking hardcore. You don't get it.

LS: Get what?

BG: People who take up two seats on a crowded train are just dicks, okay? That's not what we're about. How can you behave like that? Shit. If you're just going to lounge across two seats with your fucking "rucksack", then you haven't learned shit. You get me? You do shit like that, then for all intents and purposes, the infidels have already won.

LS: Oh, listen to you.

BG: Yeah. Listen to me. Have some self-respect. You know...carry yourself with some dignity.

LS: All right. I won't ever do it again.

BG: You better fucking not.


LS: Damn. I wonder why it is we can talk so openly about this shit on a train full of infidels and no one notices.

BG: I was wondering that myself.

(The Deus Ex Machina swoops in)

Deus Ex Machina: It's because we're observing Sit-Com Conversation Conventions in this play.

LS: Oh. Like everything we say to each other is an "aside" that no one but us and the audience hears, irregardless of proximity.

Deus Ex Machina: That's right.

LS: Neat. (The Deus Ex Machina swoops away)


BG: It's just "regardless."

LS: What?

BG: No such word as "irregardless." Just "regardless."

LS: Oh.


LS: Sorry.

The train is stopped at the platform at Clarendon.

VOICE: Stand clear of the closing doors. (ding dong)

LS: Sweet Allah! Who is standing in the doors?

BG: I have no idea.

VOICE: Stand clear of the closing doors. (ding dong)

BG: Why do all the doors have to do that?

LS: I have no idea.

VOICE: Stand clear of the closing doors. (ding dong)

BG: You'd think that if just the one door was bouncing open, it'd be easier to tell who was standing in the door.

LS: Yeah.

VOICE: Stand clear of the closing doors. (ding dong)

LS: I'm going to go crazy.

BG: We're suicide bombers. Some say we're already crazy.

LS: Shut up.

VOICE: Stand clear of the closing doors. (ding dong)

BG: You're right. I may just go crazy.

LS: Crazier, you mean.

BG: Shut up.

VOICE: Stand clear of the closing doors. (ding dong)

BG: This is ridiculous.

LS: Retarded.

BG: Insane.

LS: Warped.

BG: Ludicrous.

LS: Stupid.

VOICE: Stand clear of the closing doors. (ding dong)

Passenger 1: Oh, COME ON!

LS: I hear you!

Passenger 2: God. This, like, happens, every time!

BG: You'd think they'd fix this shit.

VOICE: Stand clear of the closing doors. (ding dong)

Passenger 1: Oh, please...

BG: I know! Who's doing this?

Passenger 1: And why don't they just get out of the door's way?

VOICE: Stand clear of the closing doors. (ding dong)

BG: Seriously. You'd think it would be obvious.

Passenger 2: It could be broken. That wouldn't be good.

LS: Why?

Train Operator: Ladies and gentlemen. We are experiencing a doorway malfunction. At this time, please detrain. Please detrain. This train is out of service.

Passenger 2: Oh for fuck's sake.

BG: What's going on?

Passenger 1: They're making us detrain.

LS: Yeah. This has happened to me before. They won't operate the train if they can't get all the doors closed.

BG: Why don't they just detrain the car with the malfunction?

Passenger 1: That's what I always say. I always want to know that.

Passenger 2: It's because, in their eyes, it's more fair. Instead of making one car get off as well move on, they make everyone get off.

BG: That's just retarded.

Passenger 1: I know. Everyone just ends of paying the price.

(Balthazar and Leelee find their way off the train.)

BG: Would you look how crowded it is out here?

LS: This is miserable.

BG: We're never going to all fit on the next train.

LS: And they're going to stuff it to the gills. We'll be so packed in that if we detonated the bombs, the impact would probably get aborbed by the surrounding tourist flab.

BG: Ha ha. Yeah. You're probably right.

LS: Some of these people scare even me.

BG: You're not kidding. And yet we're the scary ones.

LS: Yeah. The tourorists always win!

Balthazar and Leelee are back onboard, but they now find themselves on a train that is stopped dead on the tracks between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.

BG: How long has it been?


LS: You mean since we've moved?

BG: Yeah.


LS: I've lost track.

BG: I keep getting the sensation that we're inching along...

LS: I know.

BG: I can't keep staring out this window.

LS: You know, they never tell you about shit like this when you're training to do this crap.

BG: I know. No one would sign up for this.


LS: Dude. I sort of have a confession to make.

BG: You're feeling what I'm feeling.

LS: Am I?

BG: You're starting to feel like you just don't care about going through with this anymore.

LS: Holy shit. Exactly. Exactly. You know what that is, don't you? It's called Stockholm Syndrome. We've totally got the Stockholm Syndrome.

BG: That's not technically true. Stockholm Syndrome is when a hostage, over time, begins to sympathize with their captors. We're not sympathizing with our captors. Our captor is this fucking train.

LS: So it's not Stockholm Syndrome?

BG: No.

LS: It feels like something like that, though. know--all Scandinavian-like. Ikeapathy.

BG: That Helsinking feeling.

LS: Oslo Accords.

BG: Hey. Don't even joke about that shit. What you're feeling is empathy for the rest of these poor fucks on this train with us.

LS: That's it! I look around me and I just see people in pain. And they don't deserve it!

BG: Precisely. I'm looking around this train, thinking about everything I've seen today, and I'm asking myself, how on earth can I presume to be able to make life worse for these people?

LS: I know! I'm like all: Man, most of these people would cherish the sweet release of a bomb right now. We'd be helping them.

BG: These people are already terrorized in a million tiny ways. Long confusing lines and impersonal service around every corner. Out-of towners who show up spoiling for a fight with the locals because they've been led to believe by their idiot elected officials that DC is a cloistered network of smarmy elites when it's really just filled with people who want to serve the public.

LS: Yeah, and those same politicians are stroking it on the Beltway cocktail circuit, tut-tutting their war dead as abstractions while eating canapes and belittling the help.

BG: Broken down trains, passengers stuffed into cars like sardines, interminable delays in dark tunnels.

LS: I can't bring myself to hurt these people.

BG: I'm more inclined to want to beat the crap out of someone on their behalf.

LS: Me too.


LS: So.

BG: Yeah.

LS: We're not doing this. We're not going to set off these bombs and commit suicide.

BG: Well, we're not going to set off the bombs anyway. I'm still totally committing suicide.


LS: Yeah. Me too.

Cafe Saint-Ex. The DCist Staff is seated around a table.

(DCist Jason suddenly shudders and turns white.)

DCist Catherine: Jason, what's wrong?

DCist Jason: I just got the weirdest feeling...

DCist Rob: What was it?

DCist Kanishka: You look like someone walked over your grave, man.

DCist Jason: I just got the strangest sensation. It was as if we were all at the brink of some unseen disaster...all at once I was completely suffused with dread. Then, just as suddenly--and just as powerfully--I was seized with the feeling that just as disaster loomed, it was then narrowly averted by a force just as strange and powerful as the disaster.

DCist Becca: That's so weird.

DCist Jason: God. I wonder what it was.

DCist Kyle: (entering) Hey guys, I just read that Dead Meadow will be going out on tour, but won't be playing a date here in the city.

DCist Jason: Oh. That must have been it.


catherine said...

"our captor is this fucking train" - so best. you also somehow made me look forward to riding the el.

LuckySpinster said...

one question: when are the auditions?

you funny funny man.

Blue Fish, Red Pond said...

The interaction on the escalator was awesome.
Very nice.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic piece of writing.

tom said...

tourorists: inspired.

some of your finest work

K said...

Are we upstairs or downstairs at Saint-Ex. Yes, it is important. Visualization and whatnot.

Washington Cube said...

Excellent posting. Thanks.

rockstarjoe said...

That was one of the funniest things I've ever read on the internets. Extremely well written.

Himillsy Dodd said...

Props to you. That made my day.

Winter Sorbeck said...

The dread is incredibly contagious, isn't it? My own misery has actually lessened since switching from the Red Line to the Orange Line, but the train's collective misery is still enough to swallow you . . .

The Deceiver said...

Deep down, I love the Metro. I love public transportation in all its forms. Probably my three faves are here in DC, the Muni in SF, and NYC's (at least before they detokened.)

But there are days, even on the Orange Line. As a general rule, avoid the Metro anytime my wife is on board--WMATA related SNAFUs just seem to have followed her for the past year.

Aubrey said...

This is quite possibly the funniest thing I've ever read. Congrats. I love it.

(linked from wonkette)

Anonymous said...

Classic. Hysterical. Thanks for the laughs. I'd almost call it a "must read" for any Metro rider, but I imagine not everyone would appreciate the gallows humor. =)

Rhinestone Cowgirl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ed said...

Bra - fucking - vo!


tube rage said...

This pretty much made my day. Tight writing. Good dialogue.

Lance said...

I rode the metro for the first time ever when I was visiting DC a few weeks ago. Although the system was a lot better than what I've ever used (other than perhaps Portland's) - I can definitely relate to some of those events you mentioned. (I actually was politely informed to move over on the escalator by a DC resident - she didn't want someone to yell at me.)