Monk still looking down on page, sees a cluttered office, behind desk sits Joe the Monkey (JTM) in a crumpled seersucker suit, bow tie askew, hands in hair, elbows and eyes on desk. On chair in front of desk sits Bilge the Rat (BTR).
BTR – I’ve got it boss. I’ve got it. We just burn the place down and collect the insurance money. It’s been done before. Quick, painless, then bam, we’re off on some other adventure. Let’s face it, things look bleak; have you looked at the books lately?
JTM looks up and stares at BTR. Picks up book, waves it.
JTM – Bilge, you are a pig.
BTR (smiles) – Oh, you flatter me.
JTM – It’s no compliment.
BTR – No? Every pig I ever met was exceedingly smart, charming even, why I met this pig once, he was some pig, simply…radiant.
JTM looks at BTR
JTM – You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means. My point, Bilge, is that your idea is not only evil and mean, it’s entirely impractical. Where would we all go? Think about Bruce! You rats can survive anywhere, but what about Nellie, the hyenas, Clarice, huh, it’s not like there’s some village that would welcome us like conquering heroes.
BTR – Right, right, boss, of course, yes, you’re right. Wally, especially, I mean that Wombat’s one spaced out piece of work. The Cap’n, well the Cap’n…
JTM – Let’s not talk about The Captain.
BTR – Sure, sure…
They sit in silence thinking.
BTR – I’ve got it! (thrusts claw in air)
JTM – What?
BTR – Are you listening?
JTM – Yes, yes, I’m listening
BTR – One word.
JTM – Yes…
BTR – Roller derby.
JTM – Roller Derby?
BTR – Yes, Roller Derby.
JTM – (shaking head) This is going to kill me (he lights cigarette).
BTR – Don’t worry, boss, don’t worry. I know what to do. OK? Don’t you worry.
JTM – Bilge, when someone tells me not to worry three times; I worry.
The silence between them is pierced by the shrieking of an eagle or some other bird of prey.
BTR stands up, backs out of the office, hands outstretched in a reassuring fashion.
BTR – OK. I’m not going to say “Don’t worry.” I won’t ever again. I’m just gonna go talk to the girls. You just concentrate on finances.
JTM is bent over the books, tries to wave him away with his cigarette. When BTR says “finances” though he looks up in frustration.
JTM – Well, it’s kind of hard with you talking like that.
BTR – OK, I’m not talking, no more talking…
JTM looks up again and thrusts his arms out in supplication.
BTR – Right, right. OK, Don’t…(Bilge stops himself, makes to lock his mouth with key, throws away imaginary key, and exits office)
Outside JTM’s office, it’s a circus. Animals everywhere. Bilge makes his way quickly through the crowd. Bilge sees Nellie the elephant, Bud the Dog (BTD) at his feet.
BTR – Nellie! Bud. Hey, I got one for you. There’s this mother and she wants a son so she goes to this lake.
BTD – Is this a Polish mother?
BTR - (stares then continues) No, just a regular mother.
BTD – What, Polish mothers aren’t regular?
BTR – And she asks the lake for a son…
Nellie – And it gives her the moon…
BTR – No. The lake sends a dog…
BTD – Not a Polish dog?!
Nellie – I won’t stand here and listen to you tell jokes about Polish dogs. You know I’m a vegetarian!
BTR – Oh, forget it. Why do I try? (walks briskly away)
BTD to Nellie – I keep telling people, I’M PRUSSIAN!
BTR scurries past a cage full of hyenas and one lion. A hyena is rolling an odd looking pair of dice. BTR stops abruptly and walks back. The hyena that rolled the dice picks up a playing card of some sort. BTR shouts suspiciously.
BTR – Harry! What’re ya’ doin’?
Harry – Playing a game. Do you want to play a game, Bilge?
BTR ignores him, turns to lion.
BTR – You OK, Lance? These guys aren’t cheating you?
Lance – Oh, no, Bilge, you needn’t fear. This is a splendid little game Joe invented. Just for entertainment, no wagering.
BTR – OK, good. (eyes Harry, takes a step, then stops, turns and asks) How do you play?
Lance – Oh, it’s jolly fun. Roll the dice, move around the board, pick up cards. So very fun.
BTR looks blankly at Lance. Then another hyena who’d had his back to Bilge turns and explains further.
The Other Hyena – The cards start a saying, we have to make up an ending; however many players laugh that’s how many points you get.
Harry – Watch. (he reads from the card) One for the money, two for the show…(thinks for a second) Roll the feline and grab his DOUGH!
The hyenas burst into uproarious laughter.
Lance – (not laughing) I don’t get it.
BTR shakes his head and scurries away, behind him you hear Lance faintly.
Lance – Why’s that funny, tell me. Honestly, you’re behaving like perfect beasts.
BTR scampers past a big trailer with the side flipped up revealing interior where a grungy koala plays with his guitar.
BTR – Mornin’ Cap’n.
Koala looks up, barely; raises eyebrow.
Koala - Mornin’ Bilge.
BTR keeps moving. Passes gigantic tank with a shark swimming in it. He ducks under the big tent and finds a dark corner where a group of female rats are sitting around a TV. Some are drying their eyes, sniffling. BTR grabs a rat in the rear by the shoulder.
BTR – Hey, Sheila, what’s all this about?
Sheila – Oh (sniff), RodenTV, MouseNation. It’s just getting good.
Gloria the Rat – (points at screen) that’s Hector, he’s the drug kingpin of the Western House of MouseNation, that’s his long lost sister, Rosie, they were separated in childhood when their father abandoned them.
A Different Rat – Rosie was forced into prostitution and has only now found help in Johnny, a vole leading the rebel alliance against the evil Eastern House of MouseNation.
Rat From Front – Will you shut your TRAP!
Sheila – Stick a sock in it, Susie!
Sheila turns back to Bilge who checks watch, nervously stamps his foot. Sheila continues more quietly.
Sheila – See, the East are house-mice, sophisticated elites, oppressing their distant cousins in the West, field mice and whatnot, riff-raff. But the Western Rebels have a mole…I’m speaking figuratively, of course…
BTR – (sighs) Of course.
Gloria – (continuing for Sheila) So the mole, who is really the son of Hector and Rosie’s long lost father who married the daughter of a powerful Eastern House politician. His son, half-brother to Hector and Rosie…
BTR – Yeah, I get it (interested now, pulls up a chair)
Sheila – (scoots chair close to Bilge, offers popcorn) That son, Martin, infiltrates the political establishment, makes allies with Generals in the military and these other crazy cats…(she pauses, Bilge waves her on to show he knows she’s speaking figuratively) to foment revolution and fight for their freedom.
BTR has been reaching into Sheila’s bag of popcorn, all of a sudden he catches himself, realizing he’s been distracted, grabs the popcorn and jumps up shouting.
BTR – NO! NO! Turn that TV OFF! This is real life, people! We have our own VERY SERIOUS DRAMAS TO WORRY ABOUT. (Walks through crowd) Where are your SKATES, HUH?! You, GLORIA, go find your helmet, and the rest of the gear. I want everyone on the TRACK in FIVE MINUTES!
There is murmuring and harrumphing. A cat hears the fracas and walks over.
BTR – Clarice! Good, you’re here. I need you to get these rats in line. If they aren’t in shape by Saturday, we are TOAST.