I have included small photos of actors in this screenplay solely for the purpose of suggesting the kind of person who might have been appropriate for the part if we had made the film. Their inclusion here in no way is meant to imply any actual association to or approval of our screenplay on the part of any of these extremely talanted people. I doubt that any of them have even read it before. If anyone would like their photo removed from this site, please use this link to send me an e-mail: Email To Paul Golding


Original Screenplay by
Paul Golding & Zalman King

ONE: IN WHICH we meet our hero -- Diamond Jim Sykes -- finding him in a most unusual condition and situation ...

(a production number in the grand manner)

CREDITS PLAY for a moment over BLACK ...

And a SOUND begins -- quiet at first, swelling in intensity: a roaring of engines ... the sound of ten ... a hundred ... five hundred motorcycles winding out in second gear ...

The CREDITS END as the throbbing noise reaches its peak and we CUT TO:


The CAMERA -- as if from the point of view of a man standing up in an open car -- GLIDES FORWARD, surrounded by, escorted by a huge formation, a vast flying-wedge of cycles and choppers. The bikes closest to the camera are ridden by POLICE and state troopers, but surrounding them, making up the bulk of the giant army, are hundreds of BIKERS, all dressed identically -- in clothes that are a stylized version of prisoners' uniforms.

Cruising slowly, throttles wide open in low gear, growling, the huge V-shaped escort passes through the towering marble gates and down the curving main drive of a large, elegant cemetary.

It is early morning. Crowds of PEOPLE line the road now. They scurry backward out of the way of the bikers' steady, military advance. All are cheering and waving and shouting up toward the camera -- as if the camera were the eyes of a conquering general, some Patton or Caesar.

Some of the bikers grin up at the camera. As they do, we see a flash, then another -- a star-bright reflection of light glinting off the diamond that each of the men wears in the center of a gold-inlaid front tooth. And among the crowd now, too, we see diamonds -- hundreds of them -- flashing as the men smile or shout up toward. the camera.

The crowd breaks, begins running alongside the formation of bikers and police, as the CAMERA CONTINUES TO MOVE FORWARD toward the end of the curving drive where television cameras look down from a half-dozen high metal towers and -- visible now inside a roped-off area below the cameras -- a hearse, six PALL-BEARERS, and a PRIEST stand waiting near an open grave.

Quietly, confidingly, as if narrating the scene to us, a voice begins to speak: the voice of Diamond Jim Sykes:

Everybody's been tellin' me how this is my mamma's funeral. .. But it ain't my mamma's funeral. .. Shit. .. I don't ever remember havin ' no mamma... I mighta spent a long time lookin' for my mamma -- but I never had no mamma ...

The CAMERA PANS SLIGHTLY and we see now, at the center of the mass of motorcycles, a long, black cut-away hearse -- the kind usually used to carry flowers to the burial site. It carries now instead a man-sized cage built of two-inch thick steel bars. Standing alone inside the cage is DIAMOND JIM SYKES. He is 30 or 35, tough and lean and damn good-looking. He is dressed in a prisoner's uniform. A large, blue-white diamond set into his front tooth flashes as he speaks, directly to camera:

Hell ... I ain't never had nothin' at the same time -- 'Cept the diamond in my front tooth and maybe a Mars bar or somethin' like that rattlin' around in my pocket. .. And a high opinion of myself ...

A cordon of heavily-armed state TROOPERS turns aside the phalanx of bikers, allows only Sykes' cage and its escort of police to enter the roped-off area near the grave.

A black Rolls-Royce limousine is also pulled up nearby. Alongside it, surrounded by REPORTERS, looking up at Sykes in his cage like a huntress eyeing her greatest trophy, is a woman, Sykes' age, imperially, self-containedly beautiful: ELIZABETH.

The police motorcyclists have dismounted now, come to attention m a ring around Sykes' cage, guns drawn and ready.

Sykes glances at Elizabeth, just once, then continues talking to camera:

That's right: I said a high opinion of myself ... Now I know I might not look like much of anything or anybody in my present situation. . . But I can tell ya that by the end of this day I'm gonna be about the most talked about -- the most famous -- the most respected human being in this whole wide world ... And along with that and added to it -- Before this day is over, I'm gonna be talkin' ta all the people of this planet earth -- All at the same time ...

The roar of the bikers' engines has faded now, and in the relative quiet a new sound is audible: a rushing of air ... a wind-sound, rising ... swooping down ... approaching ...

A shadow sweeps by. The guards look up in confusion. Sykes' cage begins to levitate -- to rise, slowly at first, then more quickly.

The CAMERA RISES WITH Sykes. The crowd, below us, begins to run, to overturn the barriers around the grave. The cordon of state troopers raise their rifles, ready to fire.

But a fog or cloud of smoke, dense and white, descends suddenly, obliterates the crowd, the guards, the pandemonium below. Shouts and gunshots are muffled, become faint and distant. The CAMERA SEES only Sykes now, in his cage, suspended in the mist from the end of a thick, black rope.

Sykes, unperturbed, continues to speak to camera:

Now, ya got ta keep in mind that at this particular moment I have no idea as ta what in the Hell is goin' on ... or what in the Hell is about ta happen ... But it don't scare me none either ... 'Cause I just ain't the kinda guy that gets hisself all scared up over any little this-or-that. ..
(he smiles)
I just think too much of myself ta get scared ... And I reckon -- once everything is said and done, and all the details are revealed, and I sit down and think about it -- that'll probably end up bein' the reason I'm bein' kidnapped at the present time ...

From the top of the screen now, an OLD MAN appears -- small and wiry, wearing goggles and a leather aviator's cap. He climbs skillfully down the rope, carrying a large, thick blanket, then lowers the blanket in through the bars of the cage. Sykes accepts it without question and smiles at the old man, who climbs back up and out of sight.

The dense white fog still obscures the background. Swirling and eddying, it rushes by us, suggesting rapid movement.

Yep -- ya got ta keep your self-respect intact, Jake ... That's the most important thing ... More important than high-balls or dogs on leashes ... Or even bein' free ... Or even livin' sometimes ... Ya just can't bird-turd around ... Ya gotta speak up -- and do up -- what ya gotta do ... No matter what the consequences or the outcome might turn out ta be ... You're damned straight, ya do ...
(a beat)
Anyway, that sure as Hell is the reason I landed myself up in prison in the first place ... Yep ...

He smiles, snuggles in to the heavy blanket as the swirling fog becomes whiter and thicker.

That's right ...
(smiling, he closes his eyes in ecstacy)
Lord ... Lord ... How she could dance ...

Sykes and the cage disappear in the whiteness. We hear MUSIC now, slow and seductive. The fog seems to part, to disperse as we:


TWO: IN WHICH we are taken back to a time eight years earlier and introduced to P. P. Peoria -- the richest man in the world -- who proves to be one of the people responsible for placing our hero in his present predicament ... AND IN WHICH we learn that Diamond Jim Sykes is by profession a teller of tales with a far-flung reputation ...

(a comedy turn with a fast-action finale)


A young WOMAN, exquisitely beautiful, with long black hair and olive skin dances slowly, languourously, with an incredible grace. A filmy veil falls away, then another. And as she dances, her eyes never move, seem fastened longingly on a single spot outside the camera's range -- as if she were performing her dance for just one man.

Sykes voice continues as before, narrating the scene for us:

(in a reverie, remembering)
I ain't never seen nobody could dance like she could dance before or since... It was like they musta brought her here from somewhere far across the sea ...

The CAMERA MOVES now, follows the dancer's eyes, sees now what she is seeing. We are inside a motel room. Lying in the large bed is a very old man. The blanket is pulled up to the middle of his bare and scrawny chest. His name is P.P. PEORIA. He watches the young girl's dance with an expression of profound and total boredom.

And that old man, he just sat there facin' her shimmerin', hardly able ta keep his eyes awake. .. Heard tell afterwards that he was about the richest man in the whole wide world, and that he hired that lady and lots of other ladies just like her as his "Just-in-Case" girls ... Just-in-case he got it up -- they'd be there ready for the event... If ya know what I mean...

The CAMERA CONTINUES PANNING, sees several other young ladies, equally beautiful -- the "JUST-IN-CASE" GIRLS - sitting on a long wooden bench near the bed, as if waiting their turns.

But it seems that these just-in-case events was movin' more an' more apart ... In fact, not hardly at all no more in the frequency of their occurrences ...


A caravan of limousines escorted by two state police cars speeds along a strech of highway somewhere in Montana. A range of mountains, snow-capped, gleams in the moonlight. The limousines and police cars pull into a small, weather-beaten town at the base of the mountains, stop outside the town's one hotel. Two dozen older cars and pick-up trucks are already crowded around nearby. Several large, heavy-set MEN climb out of the limousines and go into the ramshackle hotel.

Anyway, about that time, I was workin' a town up there somewhere near a mountaintop in Montana -- about fifty miles from where the old man was situated... And it came ta pass that one night he sent a whole platoon of cars ta fetch me ... Sayin' he'd give me the sum of five thousand dollars if I could talk it up for him ...


The squad of heavy-set men walk down the hotel's downstairs corridor, open the first door they come to.

We catch a glimpse inside of four people -- two COWBOYS and their LADIES -- all of them naked, all squatting on the bed, listening in total fascination to a small loud-speaker -- the kind used in drive- in theaters -- which is suspended just over the bed.

See, I was known then ta as far away as Chicago, Illinois for bein' able ta stand up the peeker on a door-knob with my stories - if the door-knob had a mind ta listen ... I don't know why exactly I'm able ta do that -- I just always kinda had the knack ...

The large men trace the wire running from the speaker back out into the hallway. They close the door and follow the wire along the corridor, where it is joined by dozens of other identical wires -- each one coming from behind one of the closed doors along the hallway.

At the end of the corridor all the wires come together, pass under the door to one of the rooms. The men open this door and look inside.

Sitting astride a wooden chair and speaking softly into a microphone, is Diamond Jim Sykes. He is about eight or ten years younger than when we last saw him, but the diamond still gleams in his smile.

He looks up at the men, frowning at first at their interruption. One of the men holds out a huge roll of money. Sykes considers it for a moment, then smiles.


Sykes is riding in the back of one of the fleet of limousines. Ahead and behind, the escorting police sirens wail as the cars speed into the parking lot of a large, isolated motel at the very base of one of the high mountains.

Well, anyhow, somehow the word got out that I was on my way from where I was ta where the old man was ... And in no time flat, that motel of his was filled with lines awaitin' -- waitin' for me ta talk 'em through it -- ta hear what I had ta say ...

Sykes looks out the limousine's window, sees several MEN -- naked except for their boots and cowboy hats -- and their GIRLS in black panties and bee-hive hairdos, clutching their wadded-up clothes and shouting in outrage as a dozen more large men -- P.P. Peoria's bodyguards -- hustle them out the doors of the motel and force them, shivering, to clamber up into their pick-up trucks and drive away.

But upon arrivin' on the scene, I could see right away that the rich man -- he didn't wanta hear nothin' about sharin' ... He wanted me all to hisself... And right away I thought to myself--
(getting angry)
There ain't nobody that tells Diamond Jim Sykes who he's gonna tell his stories to -- except Diamond Jim Sykes, hisself! And I started gettin' mad as Hell ... Like I wanted ta bust everybody around me in the mouth ... But instead ...

Sykes, watching the naked cowboys and their ladies being hustled away, glowers in anger. One of the body-guards opens the door of his limousine for him. Sykes looks at him for a moment, then suddenly smiles sweetly and gets out of the car.

...1 just smiled and kept on smilin' and sacheyed myself inta that room of his ...


We see the beautiful dark-haired girl dancing and the old man -- P.P. Peoria -- watching, half-asleep, bored -- exactly as we saw them at the beginning of the scene.

Sykes enters the room, smiles appreciatively at the girl, whose eyes smile back at him with a tate more than just the professional seductiveness she's been using on the old man. Sykes says "Howdy" to the bench-full of "Just-in-Case" Girls, then walks over to the bed, pulls a chair up right alongside, and begins to whisper into P.P. Peoria's ear.

And I set right about ta tellin' him a story -- the one about the lady in Detroit who screamed so loud when her little brother was doin' it to her that she ended up fuckin' all the firecheifs at a convention in Indianapolis ... And right away it started workin' ...

P.P. Peoria's eyes glisten. A smile spreads over his face; and beneath the covers, in the center of the bed, something even more wonderful is happening. Peoria looks down, grins in joy. The "Just-in-Case" Girls crowd around the bed, watch in amazement as the blanket begins to thrust slowly upward.

And I kept on goin' a little while longer till that old man was about feelin' that feelin' that's just about right ...
(a beat)
Then all of a sudden I stopped my story I was tellin' ...

Sykes stops talking to Peoria, leans back in his chair, and with great deliberation takes a large white handkerchief from his pocket. P.P. Peoria, stunned, incredulous, stares at Sykes.

I mean I stopped it just like that and took out my handkerchief ta blow my nose and told him ta take his money and shove it up his you-know-where and turned ta leave the room ...

Sykes tosses the roll of money onto the bed, onto the now no-Ionger-elevated blanket. Peoria is purple with frustration and rage, screaming at Sykes.

Then he screamed somethin' like ...
(imitating an old man's voice)
"WHERE YOU GOIN', BOY?! YOU AIN'T GONNA LEAVE ME NOW ...!! YOU AIN'T GOIN' NOPLACE!! ... And the next thing I knowed I was tusselin' around with two of the biggest fellows I ever did see in my life ...

The door to the motel room bursts open to reveal two enormous BODYGUARDS. They advance on Sykes, shove him hard, back into the chair beside the bed.

... pushin' and shovin' and pickin' up a cane that was near by and hittin' them upside their heads ...

Sykes grabs Peoria's gold-handled walking stick and with two lightening-fast moves clubs the bodyguards over their heads and dashes out of the room.


Sykes leaps into one of the limousines and races off, scattering a crowd of bodyguards and state police who scramble now into their own cars and begin to chase after him.

Sykes, his anger still boiling from the fight at the motel, races the limousine around the tight curves of a dirt road that winds up toward the top of the mountain. The state police cars and other limousines careen along behind him, drawing steadily closer.

...And high-tailin' it outta there with them chasin' after me just as fast as they could -- I mean pig-tailin' it right up behind me ... And me thinkin', "Boy, you might gonna be dead in a minute or two -- but at least if you're gonna be dead an' dyin' it'll be with your high opinion of yourself intact!"

Sirens wailing, the state police cars are almost on top of Sykes now. They careen along just inches from his bumper.

THREE: IN WHICH Diamond Jim Sykes falls, as it were, through a crack in the universe and meets Lastie MoJoe, learning about his connection to P. P. Peoria and the remarkable discovery that Lastie made in his youth ...

(a scene of great pathos and skillful tap-dancing)


Suddenly, skillfully, Sykes spins the wheel, sends the limousine crashing through an old and rickety gate and onto a tiny and overgrown road -- little more than a pair of ruts leading up into the wilderness, toward the very top of the mountain.

Sykes battles heroically to keep the car on the road -- but it's no use. After a moment, there is no road anymore -- only the crash of underbrush, tangling and getting thicker till it drags the car to a stop.

Furious, Sykes slams out of the useless car, looks back down the hill. The state police cars and the other limousines have all stopped just outside the weathered old fence. Several of the police and bodyguards are standing -- also just outside the fence -- shouting and waving angrily for Sykes to come back. But, surprisingly, even though the men are not very far away and one of the police is shouting into an electric megaphone, their voices are completely inaudible to Sykes -- as completely as if there were a wall of glass between them a dozen feet thick.

Sykes would certainly find this surprising, too, if he were not also confronted now by something even more amazing: his body seems to be glowing -- pulsing with colors that radiate out from a thousand tiny points just like the auras we see in Kirlian photographs. The dominant color is a bright and firey red.

As Sykes stares in amazement at the light that engulfs his body, a wind begins to rise, to buffet Sykes and everything around him. He looks up. Twenty feet above his head, a sleek, custom-designed helicopter is hovering, its downdraft raising clouds of dust all around Sykes.

But -- just like the policeman shouting through his megaphone -- the helicopter's roaring engines are completely inaudible. Like an apparition, the helicopter hangs there silently suspended over Sykes' head. And inside the chopper, visible now in the passenger seat, P.P. Peoria is shaking his fist down at Sykes, livid with rage.

Surrounded by the choking clouds of dust, Sykes shouts up at Peoria, shouts into the eerie silence. His hands claw uselessly at the glowing light that engulfs his body.

(a snarl of fury)
Listen, Rich Man... I don't care what kinda torture you put .me to ... Or how much God-damn money you wanta give me ... You ain't gonna make me do what I don't want ta do!! 'CAUSE I AIN'T FOR SALE!! Did ya hear what I said, Rich Man?? I SAID I AIN'T FOR SALE!!!

In the background, distantly, behind Sykes, there is a crackling sound -- like the discharge of huge bolts of static electricity. From over the crest of the hill behind Sykes a pale blue light begins to emanate , to spread through the air. As it touches Sykes, illuminating him faintly, his aura -- an angry, fiery red -- begins to change. Within just a moment it has become a bright powder-blue.

And softly, very softly, from inside Sykes' own mouth, a tiny voice begins to speak: the quiet voice of a very old man:

I wish I could say that, son... But unfortunately, the very same P.P. Peoria who is pursuing you at the present time bought me and all I had to offer to mankind a long, long time ago ...

Sykes looks around him. The voice he is hearing seems to be coming somehow from inside his own mouth. But as Sykes himself speaks now, we see that he has - at the moment that his aura changed from red to blue - undergone a startling and complete change of mood. He is now happy and relaxed and totally care-free. His voice expresses only a natural and calm curiosity:

Hey ... How the heck are you talkin' to me, anyway?

Through the fillings in your teeth... The metal in your mouth ...

(looking around)
Well, where are ya?

Just follow the arrows North, son ... Go North.

A little yellow light in the shape of an arrow appears nearby, pointing up toward the top of the mountain. Above it, Sykes can see a whole line of little arrows pointing the way.

Sykes grins and starts to hike up the hill, leaving the police and P.P. Peoria's silently hovering helicopter behind him without even a second thought.

The tiny voice continues to speak, gently and whimsically, as Sykes follows the trail:

I always go North ... I went North over the North Pole and slid clear down to the South Pole and kept on hiking North 'till I ended up right back here again... Just like if you go West as far as you can go, you end up East again... The world's not flat, my boy -- it's round .

(in the same spirit)
You didn't happen ta see my mamma on your journey North ... You didn't happen ta pass her in Saskatchewan, did ya? She would have been wearin' a pink flannel nightie ... carrying a sign with the name "Jim" printed on it in big old, bold old letters ...

No, I can't recall that I did ... But I did see a mamma in a powder-blue nightie around Sydney, Australia carrying a sign with the name "John" printed on it in wee, little letters ...

Well, it's been so long that maybe she forgot my name ...

Sykes has been walking, following the arrows "North." As he approaches the summit .of the hill, we can see that the trees and plants now are also glowing -- engulfed in their own bright, powder-blue auras.

As Sykes reaches the top of the hill, the trees give way to a clearing; and in its center stands a modest wooden building in the shape of a hexagon. Its timbers -- like the rickety fence at the base of the hill -- are old and weathered-grey. Its construction seems flimsy - as though its plain, windowless walls might easily be blown over in a strong enough wind.

Rising up from the center of the building is a slender mast or pole almost a hundred feet high. It is guyed off in several directions by long, black ropes, and at its very top is a tarnished copper ball, only a foot or so in diameter. The tiny ball is crackling with blue, lightning-like discharges of energy. It seems to be the source of the pale blue light that has been filling the sky for the past few moments.

And standing in the building's single doorway is a very old man. He is dressed in a thread-bare tuxedo. His white hair and beard frame a sweetly smiling face. His aura -- like Sykes' -- is a bright, powder-blue.

Sykes strides right up to the old man, greets him warmly, happily:

Jim Sykes ... But my friends call me Diamond Jim.

He extends his hand in friendship, but it passes straight through the old man's outstretched hand. Sykes smiles in childkike surprise, reaches out again, and this time passes his hand directly through the old man's body -- as if it were only an image: a three-dimensional projection of some kind.


Grinning now, Sykes walks directly through the image of the old man, and into the building. The walls are wound with thick, copper cable into a hexagon-shaped coil around which pulses of intense blue energy are flowing. Inside the coil, filling the center of the large, single room, we can see a raised circular platform. It is loaded with enormous electrical generating equipment. A giant dynamo hums with power. A coil of heavy-guage wire glows cherry-red. (All this equipment -- despite its impressive size -- appears to be antique: massive cast-iron fittings are decorated with scroll-like designs; coils and transformers are lumpy, imperfect - as if they had been wound by hand at the dawn of the electrical age.)

Into the middle of this huge assemblage, the slim metal pole descends through a cut-out in the roof, connects to a massive wooden column wrapped with thick copper cables.

And standing at the foot of the huge column is a very old man - an exact duplicate of the image in the doorway.

This old man's hand, too, is extended in friendship; but when Sykes reaches out to shake it -- a little more warily than before - it proves to be solid and substantial.

(shaking Sykes' hand)
My name is Lastie (for Last) of the Mo (for Mohicans) Joe: Lastie MoJoe.

Sykes puts his hands on his hips, looks around him, grinning broadly.

Say, ya know something, Mr. Lastie MoJoe?
(grinning at Lastie)
I feel happy! I feel God-damned happy!
(getting excited)
For the first time in my life -- I feel God-damned HAPPY!!

(softly; smiling)
Good, son, so do I...
(raising an eyebrow)
Would you like to know why we feel happy?

You bet your ass.

Okay. Then I have to ask you a question.


Have you ever seen a tap-dancer who wasn't smiling when he was tapping?

Hell, no!

Of course not... And that was exactly the observation I made when I was your age ...

In front of them now, an image appears to solidify from the air itself: we see first one ... then two ... then three black TAP DANCERS. They are smiling and tapping their hearts out. Sykes watches them tap and Lastie continues to speak:

Of course at first it was just something I observed but didn't think too much of ... But the more tappers I saw ...

More and more tap dancers appear: lines of tap dancers filling up the space around Lastie and Sykes -- some of them tap dancing their way right through Lastie and Sykes, as if they were -- like the vision of Lastie in the doorway -- merely three dimensional projections -- full-sized holograms floating in space.

... the more I became aware of their smiling ...

Indeed, all the tap dancers are smiling as they dance.

Then I began to think to myself, "This is no coincidence. . . This is no accident ... "

The tap dancers disappear and we see instead a young man -- Lastie MoJoe at the age of twenty-five. He is wheeling a piece of electrical apparatus down the aisle of a turn-of-the-century vaudeville theater.

So the next time I went to the theater, I brought along a portable version of my aura-testing machine And sure enough ... Just as I had expected...

A line of tap dancers comes out onto the stage of the theater. Each one is enveloped, now, in his own glowing aura, and all the auras are individually different -- reds and yellows and purples and greens. But as soon as they begin to tap, all of their auras turn a bright powder-blue.

... as soon as they started their tapping, they immediately began to smile and -- to a man -- their auras turned from whatever their auras had been to a happy and peaceful and non-hostile blue ...

The tap dancing routine speeds up. Their auras become more intensely blue.

And the faster they seemed to tap, the mellower their auras and the broader their smiles became ...

The dancers finish their act, begin to bow for applause.

But as soon as they stopped tapping, the blue of their auras disappeared and they returned to their normal state ...

Backstage at the theater: we see the tap dancers lounging around between numbers: sad, dejected tap dancers with dark purple auras ... hostile, mean tap dancers with fiery red auras ... lonely tap dancers with yellow-green auras ...

It was at this point that I purchased a pair of tap shoes for myself, and returned to my laboratory to observe my own aura as I shuffled (not being able to tap) around in them ...

We see Lastie (as a young man) shuffling around tentatively inside his laboratory. A larger version of the "aura-testing machine" glows in the background. He is dancing with an endearing awkwardness in front of a full-length mirror, his aura becoming a brighter and brighter blue as he moves faster and faster.

And sure enough: the same that had happened to them, happened to me... But why?

The young Lastie stops shuffling, stands in one spot, lost in thought.

And I thought... And I thought... And I thought ... Until I thought ... Of course!

We see a bright pattern of parallel blue lines, slightly curved: like lines drawn upon the surface of the earth.

A small closed loop -- the exact shape of a metal tap -- passes through the pattern of lines, distorting them slightly the way a piece of metal distorts the field of a large magnet.

The Earth's natural electric and magnetic fields ... Plus the movement of the metal taps on the bottoms of my shoes ... Equals ... Total. .. unabashed ... HAPPINESS!!

The image of Lastie leaps into the air, dances through the bright lines of blue force, faster and faster, with more and more excitement and happiness... Then, suddenly, he becomes very serious.

At which point -- after my initial excitement -- I pulled myself together, poured myself a cup of tea, sat down in my favorite chair ... and began to cry ...

We see Lastie sitting in an overstuffed armchair. A cup of tea rests on a small table nearby. Tears are rolling down Lastie's cheeks.

I began to cry ... because suddenly I realized that I -- Lastie MoJoe -- in some divine way, I was sure -- had uncovered in a most unlikely fashion a key to a kind of eternal happiness for all of mankind ... If I could only find a practical way of creating and sustaining what I decided to call the "Buck-and-Wing Effect" ...

Young black tap dancers begin to dance across the young Lastie's laboratory, to circle him in his chair as he sits there, crying in happiness and in awe.

Tap dancing itself, naturally, being impractical in terms of accessibility for all of mankind ... What a responsibility I had inadvertantly placed upon myself ... But at that time I was young and full of energy ... and had nothing but absolute belief in my ability to rise to any occasion ...

The young Lastie gets up out of his chair and sets quickly to work. A large apparatus takes shape -- becomes identical in fact to the stout column with its slender mast and copper ball that dominates Lastie's present laboratory.

And sure enough: even after just a little bit, my diligence and my tenacity paid off ... The "Buck-and-Wing Effect" -- at least within the confines of my own laboratory -- and for brief periods of time -- had been made practical. ..

The mast begins to glow, the copper ball emits flashes of bright blue lightning. The young Lastie is standing very still-- not shuffling or dancing at all -- but within a moment his aura begins to change to a bright powder-blue, and he begins to smile.

Now, to go further -- to make happiness available to all who wanted it -- to all who needed it ... I needed power -- and lots of it ...

Suddenly filling Lastie's laboratory -- towering impossibly far up beyond it -- we see the vast concrete wall of an enormous dam. High-pressure jets of water roar harmlessly through Lastie and Sykes, spinning giant turbines: making power.

The Boulder Dam, for instance -- or the equivalent of it -- I calculated at the time would work just fine ...

The image of Boulder Dam dissolves into the air, is replaced by a projection of a man of thirty or thirty-five. He is dressed elegantly in 1920s-style clothing and appears to be descending a broad, marble staircase, preceded by four baying hounds on silver-studded leashes. The man is none other than P.P. Peoria, as he was forty years ago.

It was at this point that I decided to contact P.P. Peoria. My reasoning being that if I had all the money in the world, I would gladly use at least a good portion of it to see that others were made happy ...

P.P. Peoria, his dogs, his tall, young Negro retainer -- CHARLES -- and a half -dozen gorgeous TOOTSIES enter the young Lastie' s laboratory. Lastie throws a switch. The copper ball begins to glow and spark. Peoria and Lastie and Charles and the tootsies all grin happily. Even the dogs cease their snarling and begin to roll around playfully on the floor.

And sure enough: one single demonstration was all that he required ...

P.P. Peoria himself opens the switch. The blue glow fades. The dogs begin to snarl once more. Peoria looks at Lastie for a long moment, shrewdly, appraisingly.

He pondered for a long moment -- as rich men do -- then he said, "I'll tell you what ... I shall finance for you -- in full -- no matter what the cost -- your happiness machine ... If -- in return -- you take the exceptional mind that God has bestowed upon you, and use it to develop for me a little pill or potion or the equivalent that will guarantee for me eternal life ...

Peoria leans closer, whispers into the young Lastie' sear, gesturing over his shoulder toward the beautiful girls who are gawking in wonder at the machines in Lastie's laboratory. As he whispers, the background changes, becomes the interior of a palatial bedroom. P.P. Peoria is lying in bed with one of the girls. .

Then in a whisper he confided that on this very same morning, when he rolled over to hug Rosemary -- his newest and most lovely tootsie -- his "pissing pistol, " as he referred to it, for the very first time refused to stand up and greet the morning sun ...

We see the faces of Peoria and Rosemary, looking off and down toward the center of the bed. Rosemary seems surprised and a trifle wistful; Peoria is shocked and dismayed.

Then he winked at me and said, "So you see, son," He called me son. "The sooner the better ... "

Inside the laboratory, Peoria produces a sheaf of papers, a bundle of currency, and a broad, ingratiating smile.

And without waiting a moment, he produced a contract for me to sign, took out a huge roll of bills and gave me what I thought was a sizable down-payment, kissed me lovingly on the forehead, patted me on the behind, and bade me farewell ...

Peoria and his entourage depart, leaving Lastie alone in his laboratory. He pockets the money and sets immediately to work amid beakers and test-tubes and retorts filled with bright, steaming fluids.

And off I went to work -- cocksure and as cocky as could be -- filled with the confidence that within a month or two I would have invented the eternal life pill for P.P. Peoria -- and be well on my way to making all of mankind happy ...

The young Lastie stops his work for a moment. As if perplexed, lost in thought, he begins to pace around in his laboratory. After a moment, he is joined by a second -- and slightly older -- Lastie -- also pacing, perplexed ...

First a month went by ... Then a year ... Then ten years ...

More and more pacing, perplexed Lasties -- each one older than the next -- join the line that is beginning to fill up the laboratory.

Then another ten years floated by ... Then ten more: with still no sign of eternal life in sight. .. And then for some unknown reason, about midnight one night, I stopped my work and took a look at myself in a mirror ...

The last and oldest Lastie in the line stops pacing, drifts away from the others, comes to rest staring at himself in a mirror.

... and lo and behold I saw that I had turned into an old man ... What had happened to me ... ? What had become of my life ... ? Of my dreams ... ?

The aged face that stares back from the mirror is, in fact, the present-day Lastie who has been relating the story to Sykes. He looks out from the mirror at the slightly younger image of himself with genuine sadness and compassion. As the younger Lastie watches him, wide-eyed and frightened, he speaks, softly and gently.

And then for the first time, right then and there -- at that exact moment -- I realized that I had been side-tracked ... That I had failed... That the divine potential I had felt in my youth -- that the gift I so pompously thought I would leave as a legacy to mankind would now -- more than likely -- never be unwrapped ...

Suddenly, roaring into the space over Lastie's and Sykes' heads, the sleek, custom-designed helicopter appears. Inside it, waving his fist and shouting into a large, electric megaphone is P.P. Peoria himself -- as old now as Lastie.

(raising his voice to be heard over the din)
And I guess it was about the same time that he ...
(gesturing up toward Peoria's helicopter)
... became certain -- beyond any question of a doubt -- that he, too, was on a collision course with the great beyond... And that telegrams and messengers and ten-times-a-day phone calls to tell me to hurry just wouldn't suffice ... So instead, the sky above me began to clatter and echo with his commands.
(looking up at the helicopter; mimicking P.P. Peoria's voice)
"Where's my pill, Lastie? Where's my pill??

The image of Lastie, looking into the mirror, covers his ears, then walks over to a small black console containing only a meter -- which is pulsing wildly as the helicopter clatters overhead -- and a tiny silver switch.

But little did he know that with just a simple little flick of a switch I was able to obliterate his threats ...

The image of Lastie throws the switch. The deafening roar of the helicopter's engines disappears completely. Peoria continues to rant and shout overhead -- but mutely now.

And then -- having dealt successfully with this minor infringement on my nervous system -- for the second time in my life, I poured myself a cup of tea, sat down in my favorite chair, and began to cry -- and cry -- and cry ...
(a long beat)
And it seems that the only time that I haven't cried since then... is just now ...

All the projected images have disappeared. Lastie is looking at Sykes now, his eyes bright with hope.

... when l heard your shouting, and saw your fury, and I decided -- for the first time since I can't even remember when -- in order to ease and soothe your anger -- to put my "Buck-and-Wing Effect" to work ...
(a gesture toward the column that dominates the room)
... and activate my happiness machine ... and smile ...

But even as he says this, we can see that the blue glow surrounding the massive column is beginning to fade. Lastie's powder-blue aura is gradually changing - becoming darker and more tinged with purple. Lastie sees what is happening.

But my smile isn't going to last for very long, son ...
(his smile fading; sadness creeping into his voice)
... because I just don't have the power to sustain it. ..

The blue glow around the column is flickering -- almost gone now. Tears begin to swell in Lastie's eyes.

I'm a failure, Diamond Jim ... Your new-found friend, Lastie MoJoe is nothing but a damned failure ...

Lastie is openly crying now. Sykes takes Lastie in his arms and begins soothing him, gently patting his back.

But Sykes' aura is changing now, too. It is slowly becoming again a bright and fiery and angry red. Suddenly he lets go of Lastie, takes a step back, and stares at the old man, anger building in him as Lastie continues to sob.

What kinda sad-sack kinda story is that ta tell me?! Hell-- if I had what you have, I'd get my ass up ta some high-on-some-mountain-top mountain -- and shout it out just as loud as I could for all the world ta hear...

He strides over to the door. A helicopter's down-draft buffets him, raises silent clouds of dust swirling all around him. Sykes looks up, sees P.P. Peoria in his helicopter hovering - eerily silent -- just overhead. Sykes gestures up at Peoria, furious now, shouting:

And then I'd stand my ground against him ... Or anybody else who tried ta push me off of it. .. I'd be King of the Mountain, Jake!

He turns on Lastie, the force of his words almost physically attacking him, stopping for a moment Lastie's tears as the old man listens, wide-eyed -- frightened by Sykes' outburst of energy.

Shit, old man... You gotta fight ta be who ya want ta be in this world!! You can't be runnin' and hidin' and cryin' in your soup because things don't go the way ya want them ta go!! A man's got ta do what he's got ta do -- and face what he's got ta face!

Sykes, still in the doorway, is looking now down the hill. Through an opening in the trees, the cluster of state police cars and long black limousines are visible in the distance at the base of the hill. Their spotlights sweep the area, play across Sykes' face as he speaks:

'Cause if he don't face it, he's liable ta end up not likin' hisself. .. And for myself -- I just couldn't stand not likin'myself ... Hell, no! I just couldn't stand that one bit!!

Sykes begins to stride down the hill now, directly toward the lights of the state police and Peoria's bodyguards.

The helicopter's powerful but totally silent wake raises a storm of dust all around him, makes his gesture seem even more heroic -- like that of a man who has willed himself to do battle with nature itself if need be. Sykes shouts down at the police as he advances on them:

You hear what I said?? You can take me ta jail. .. You can hit me upside my head... But you can't stop me!! 'Cause I'm a survivor, Jake! Through thick and through thin, I survive!

And Lastie, standing in the doorway to his old and weather-beaten building, watches Sykes go. The tears have welled up in his eyes once more, stream down his face, as Sykes' voice -- more and more distant -- echoes up to him.

Here I come, chumps! You better brace yourselves ... ! You better get yourselves all set. .. !!


Part 2