Buck & Jane
A Death in the Family
Decker & Hayes
Epic Echoes
The Great Muppet Debate
Guard Duty
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Stage Blood



Like Mother
Episode 9 - Habeas Corpses

By Charles H. Berman

Bobby Kurtzman
Pandora Darling
Hope Darling
Jason Brandt
Tabby Wentworth
Omar Schefftz
Esperanza Deere

Narrator: Robert Everett Gottlieb Kurtzman was a young boy who was not especially active, either in the community our out of it. The magnanimity -- not to say eagerness -- with which he had offered his classmates the honour and pleasure of his company had ever been greeted with nothing but an assemblage of contemptuous stares uniformly unimpressed with such astonishing feats as his successful commitment to memory of the names of all 193 current national leaders (a hobby that, owing to the instability of certain governments, never ceased to provide amusement) and the fact that he was the proud author of the Internet's most commented-upon blog entry about Social Security for all of last May, and so he had retreated outside to school hours mainly to the welcoming confines of his room. He never thought in those days that he would have worked up the courage finally to kiss Pandora Darling, but even for Bobby, a man debilitated by several recent doses of mind-addling memory drugs, a fresh gunshot wound, and especially a paralyzing shyness-- love conquers all. He overcame his timidity in time to kiss Pandora full on the lips, saving her from certain death at the hands of whomever had planted a bomb in the nearby air hangar.

Pandora: I... I... I can't talk about this, Bobby. How...

Bobby: Oh. Well, if later you were more...

Pandora: How did YOU know the hangar was going to explode?

Bobby: Well, I didn't think your mother would react so well to hearing it, but I guess I can tell YOU now that...

Pandora: (sighs under her breath)

Bobby: I know all about this conspiracy you've been talking about. It's all in Jason's tapes. He's really...

Pandora: Hold on. What kind of secret conspiracy is this if the man who argued for ten minutes that in a rational universe angel food cake couldn't exist knows about it?

Bobby: Come on, Pandy. I got confused by the name. Anyway, you have to reach Level 60 Emboldened in his programme before you get to the conspiracy part. Not a lot of people manage that. It's because they're afraid of releasing their true political selves.

Pandora: (under her breath) Afraid of releasing their bank accounts.

Bobby: Exactly! The conspiracy's full of bankers! Of course, I had to research some of the details myself, but Jason discovered almost everything. It's all there once you get past the "405: Cannot Announce Secret Knowledge" screen. Here; I transferred the tape to my lap-top. Let me see if I can find the CASK cassette.

Pandora: The what?

Bobby: The CASK cassette.

Pandora: Je ne sais pas.

Bobby: What? I don't get it. I only take Latin.

Pandora: (laughs) Forget it, Bobby.

Bobby: Oh. OK. Well, I found the mp...

Pandora: And Bobby... thanks for saving my life. And sorry about the gun. I'm glad...

Bobby: Oh! Sure, Pandora! It was a dream come true! I mean... I mean I guess I really, really wanted you to stay alive because...

Pandora: Bobby! Just play your tape!

Jason: (recorded filter) ... because all these failed governments need to realise is that they're not failed because they're worthless-- they're failed because they think of themselves as failures! You can't build an infrastructure if you're thinking, "I'm a country that doesn't deserve a telephone or postal network-- because we're not worth it!" You need to go out there and say, "Yes! I'm emboldened! Yes, I know my boundlessness! I've seen the problem, fixed the problem-- now I'll move ahead!" Just like everything else-- see, fix, move ahead! See, fix, move ahead! And that's how the aliens work too, but in reverse. Move behind, break, blind. That's all they'll say-- move behind, break, blind! But they're powerful. They implant their enemies just like they implant their agents. If you try to escape they won't stop at...

(fx: a tapping at the window. A computer button being pressed, which stops the tape. A car window opening).

Hope: Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore.

(fx: a zipper)

Bobby: Mrs. Darling!

Hope: 734-749-003

(fx: car door opening)

Hope: Sorry to keep you waiting, Potato. I ran into... an old friend. We'd better get going. This is the sort of thing state agents usually like to investigate. (fx: car starting and driving) I hope you two had a good time while I was...

Pandora: Mom!

Hope: Oh, I know you don't appreciate it when mothers...

Pandora: Mom, I was going to say that the building you went into with Jason Brandt just exploded!

Hope: I know that, dear. That's why I told you to stay in the car, remember? I knew CASK would be following us and I couldn't just leave all those agents standing around. My uncle has dozens of airstrips like that. Happily for Jason, he managed to take off before the explosion and...

Pandora: You mean it was you who... Oh, my God!

Bobby: Thank god! Where's he going?

Hope: Antananarivo, Madagascar. I told him CASK was going kidnap the Malagassy president there and replace him with an imposter, when in reality they're going to do it in Albany while he's still on his lecture tour. That naive crank believed me!

Bobby: Wait! They're killing the President of Madagascar?

Hope: Of course they are. They couldn't destroy our beloved way of life and replace it with a vacant and nightmarish New World Order while all our current leaders were still in power, could they? Besides, it was announced. Look up today's Toronto Globe and Mail. The article about a proposed pay increase for the mayor. Every third word with an even number of letters. If they succeed in taking him over, they'll have access to any diplomatic circle in the world and technically be able to make war on any country they want. (fx: car stopping and door opening) Get out here, kids. We'll have to take Amtrak since all flights will be grounded after an explosion like that.

Schefftz: Excuse me, ma'am. I'm going to have to stop you all right there. (fx: cocking a gun) I represent the Semitic Procrimination League. You were seen on C-SPAN recently in the company of Jason Ulysses Brandt, a notorious and incorrigible anti-Semite who uses "aliens" as an obvious code-word for Jews. I hereby requisition any knowledge you may posses of his whereabouts. My card... (fx: thud).

Bobby: (reading) Omar Schefftz? Omar Schefftz! HE was waiting for US at the station? Mrs. Darling, you just knocked out my favourite blogger! Well, one of my favourite bloggers. But the point is you just-

Hope: Come on. We'll miss the train. Help me carry him. (clears throat and speaks loudly as if to attract attention) I told Mr. Bilderberger he shouldn't have had so much to drink this afternoon. (conversational tone again) I hope you remember your lessons on redirecting railroad tracks, Potato.

Narrator: Grudgingly assisted by Pandora's grudgingly-encyclopaedic knowledge of railroad sabotage, and now accompanied by an insensate Semitic Procrimination activist, the four just reached Albany in time to attend the Malagassy potentate's lecture. As Hope dragged Schefftz, now drugged and disarmed, into the large state-university auditorium early in an attempt to disguise him as a sleeping audience-member (audience-member noises will slowly build), Pandora and Bobby encountered the one person they had perhaps least expected to see.

Pandora: Tabby!

Tabby: Pandy! BOBBY!

Pandora: What are you doing here? Did you know I was coming? I mean, first you insist that I watch a G8 protest with you on C-SPAN - which for your information WAS as boring as I thought, even in person--

Bobby: Boring? We almost got k---

Pandora: Quiet, Bobby. And now you come all the way up to Albany just to hear a speech by the president of MADAGASCAR!

Tabby: Well, I guess I've just kind of been feeling lately more like its important to be socially aware, you know? Like it's kind of absurd to focus only on gossip and the petty concerns of our peer group like busybodies when we could, like, have some understanding of and influence on the world around us. You know what I mean?

Pandora: No! What are you talking about? You called ME a hippie when you saw me at the summit. You've never cared about pol...

Tabby: (urgently interrupting her) Why don't you try reading some blogs, Pandy? They're a great way to stay informed, and...

Pandora: Blogs?! You know those are only for introverted eggheads who can't... Oh. Sorry, Bobby.

Bobby: Oh! That's OK, Pandy. I mean, I know you don't read mine, but I could tell you some of what it says, I mean...

Pandora: (slightly exasperated, but more indulgent than she ever would have been before) Maybe later, Bobby.

Bobby: OK, great!

Tabby: There's this one great political blogger who calls himself Everett Gottlieb. His insights are amazing. He's just super-cool, you know?

Bobby: Everett Gottlieb! But that's MY internet han---

Hope: (arriving) Tabitha Wentworth! How nice to see you. Sorry I've been across the room over there, dealing with our friend Mr. Bilderberger. He's not feeling very well, unfortunately. It's such a surprise to see you here. You must tell me how your mother is getting along.

Schefftz: (tiredly mumbling in the distance) Where am I? What is this place? I was in a train station! Where are the anti-semite-collaborators? (&c. ad-lib)

Hope: Oh-- more to deal with. Sorry to leave you alone again, kids!

Bobby: (fading out as he follows Hope) Wait! Mrs. Darling! Hold on a second! Could I talk to Mr. Schefftz a second before you drug him again? I mean, he's definitely in my top twenty...

Pandora: You were reading BOBBY'S website? Don't pretend you didn't know that was him-- unless you've forgotten the two weeks he spent trying to get us to take a poster for it.

Tabby: At least I wasn't seen on national television with him.

Pandora: C-SPAN is not national television. It's only watched by senators -- and people who look like senators... (remembering her friend had seen her on C-SPAN) and you. Sorry, Tabby.

Tabby: Either way it can't be good for your image.

Pandora: You're one to talk. Going all the way to Albany for the speech his Political Agitation Through Careful Consideration Club advertised in class is not really the best way to avoid any connection with him. Admit it, Tabby. You go all the way to Albany to where you KNOW he's going to be. You think you think you can impress him by watching the G8 summit and telling him to read his blog. You're completely stuck on him.

Tabby: (sotto voce and very embarrassed) OK, Pandy, but you can't tell a SOUL...

Pandora: (if possible, even more embarrassed) The thing is, Tabby, I'm not entirely sure at the moment whether he's avail-

Jason: (shouting out as he enters) Hey! Kids! Airplane lady! What's happening?

Hope: (arriving on this side of the auditorium) Mr. Brandt! I explicitly told you were needed to help fight the conspiracy in Madagascar. I hope you know you've let down a-

Tabby: JASON Brandt?! I... know... someone who loves your tapes!

Jason: Wicked, teeny-bop girl! Hey, Mom-- I hope you didn't think I BELIEVED that Madagascar joke! I totally grok this cabal, lady. I KNOW it's aliens behind it. Now I got to BE here to see it, fix it, move beyond it! Aliens have nothing on emboldened humans!

Hope: Mr. Brandt, I can see humoring you is of no avail. This conspiracy has nothing to do with extraterrestrials of any kind. Why don't you leave the business of defeating it to qualified experts, and-

Jason: Of course it's aliens! I've seen the autopsy bodies. They've got a whole collection at the HABEAS Project. Look, I've even got some of the implants...

Hope: Shh! Put those away! There are people all over. (quieter) So that's what the HABEAS project does.

Bobby: Habeas corpus. "I have the body." Latin.

Pandora: I only take French.

Bobby: (laughs)

Pandora: Hold on. Mr. Brandt, if they're supposed to be from another planet how could they disguise themselves as people?

Bobby: But Pandora, Spock's an alien and he looks almost human except-

Jason: Will power! Will power and confidence! You don't think an alien could pass for a human if he was already too mindlocked into thinking he was an alien, do you? They just have to unshackle their minds and release their boundlessness-- the chameleons within themselves!

Bobby: Uh-huh!

Pandora: (incredulously) Okay...

Hope: Excuse me for interrupting, Mr. Brandt, but I think we should be concentrating on how to save the President; we'll explain this all later, Tabitha. I don't seem to have noticed any CASK agents in the crowd, which means they must be backstage. Come on.

Narrator: Hope, her daughter, her daughter's confused best friend, their uncharismatic classmate, and his possibly too-charismatic political self-help guru left Omar Schefftz alseep in the auditorium and made their way unobtrusively backstage, where they quickly satisfied themselves that the formally-dressed man studying his speaker's notes had not yet been possessed by CASK agents. Few people could have surprised Pandora and her mother by appearing more, however, than the one they now noticed talking to the orator's bodyguards.

Esperanza: I assure you, Miss Ranavalona, you can tell your bodyguards to stand back. These people aren't harmful in the least. Quite the contrary.

Hope: Mom!

Pandora: Grandma!

Jason: Peri!

Tabby, Bobby, Pandy, and Hope: What?!

Esperanza: Hope Springs Eternal Deere, I congrat-

Hope: (exasperated) Darling now, Mother.

Esperanza: Yes, of course. Darling. Well, I congratulate you most heartily, Eggplant. You'e passed the test with flying colours. I was beginning to suspect you'd given up on the Globe and Mail. And as for you, m'dear Jay, I just hope you haven't-

Announcer: ... with great pleasure that we now present the President of the Republic of Madagascar, Emil Anantanarayanan!

(fx: applause)

Bobby: But that's wrong!

All: What?

Bobby: Emil Anantanarayanan isn't the president-- it's Mark Ravalomanana! That means Mark Ravalomanana is still in Antananarivo, Madagascar!

Hope: Mark Ravalomanana is still in Antananarivo, Madagascar?

Esperanza: Mark Ravalomanana is still in Antananarivo, Madagascar?

Jason: Mark Ravalomanana is still in Antananarivo, Madagascar?

Bobby: Yes!

Narrator: Why is Mark Ravalomanana still in Antananarivo, Madagascar? Will Pandora get along with her mother long enough to prevent CASK from taking him over? Will Hope? Does CASK even exist or are Hope, her mother, and Jason all delusional? How does Jason Brandt know Esperanza Deere? How does she know him? Will anybody try to arrest Hope for blowing up that hangar? Will it be Pandy or Tabby who wins Bobby Kurtzman's heart? Find out in next week's heart-stopping episode of Like Mother: CASKet Case.

Go to Episode 10