Saturday, February 28, 2009

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 121: interview with Dick and Daphne Ridpath, July 14, 1987

Larry Winchester now leaves us in suspense as to the fates of the earthbound portion of our cast, and turns the camera and microphone onto “America’s most lovable literary literary couple”,* Dick and Daphne Ridpath, last seen in a flying saucer somewhere between the Earth and the Moon...

(Go here to see our previous chapter, or here to see the first chapter of this third-place prize-winner of the Bayer Aspirin Award for Old-Fashioned Epic.)

(N.B.: This episode rated X for Excruciating Marital Dialogue.)

*John Updike, on his deathbed.

“So I take the pilot’s seat while Brad hunkers down and goes to work on Mr. MacNamara,** and I figure, Okay, let’s give this a shot.

“You were marvelous, dear.”

“Well, so were you.”

“Oh, hush.”

“No, you were. I mean, the poor kid, her dad’s lying there all shot up and whatnot. You were quite a trouper. You really helped."

“Right, I got coffee.”

“Well, sweety, right then I needed coffee.”

“I know. I said to him, ‘Dick, what can I do?’ And Dick says, well, he could use a cup of that joe. And I say, ‘Right, joe.’ I mean, I can do that. I can at least get coffee. And Brad looks up from where he’s holding his finger in my father’s bullet wound, and he says he could go for a cup too. So I’m there, two cups. Right. But I go over to the refreshment nook and guess what? All the coffee’s spilled. It had all just floated out during free-fall. It was then I realized that it had this special screw-on lid to keep the coffee in -- plus the bottom of the pot was magnetized somehow to keep it on the warmer-thing -- but of course we hadn’t put the lid on. And now I’m just cursing a blue streak. I mean, I just got upset and started to cry. And right then poor Harvey wakes up. Poor thing, he was just like a little boy waking up from a nightmare. Although I guess it was more like waking up into a nightmare. But he’s very disoriented, going what the f-word, what the f-word, and so on. So I go to him and start babbling about how I’m trying to get it together to make some coffee, and I’m sobbing buckets, and Harvey just says, ‘Calm down, Mrs. Ridpath, we’ll make the coffee together.’”

“Harvey was good."

“Harvey was a brick. and you know, he just sort of shook the cobwebs out of his head, got right up, marched over to that refreshment nook and started to make coffee like no one’s business.

“So, while Harvey got to work on that aspect of the mission -- and because I was standing there uselessly wringing my hands -- he suggested I get the cups and saucers and things ready. So I found some clean cups and saucers and a tray and some Oreos and put them on a plate and then just sort of hovered around while we waited for the coffee to finish dripping.”

“So -- I -- uh --”

“I kept glancing anxiously over at Brad doing that mumbo-jumbo revivification finger ceremony on poor Papa, and -- even though I was nearly petrified just to look -- a couple of times I did tiptoe gently over just to say, ‘Brad, is there anything I can do? Anything at all.’ And he’d say, ‘Just waitin’ for that java, Mrs. R.’ So I’d go back and watch the coffee drip some more. Oh, the tension. I was all a wreck.”

“You did fine, Daphne.”

“Thank you, Dick. So, finally, the coffee’s ready, I get the cups and saucers and the cookies all nicely arranged on the tray, and to save time I’d already fixed it the way Dick and Brad liked it, black for Dick, four packets of Sweet ‘n’ low and lots of Cremora for Brad, and I bring it over to Brad who pops an Oreo in his mouth and takes a cup, all the while holding a finger in poor Buddy’s bullet hole -- he’d already finished with Papa, who was still lying there comatose, and I bring the tray over to Dick, Mr. Mad Driver here, when -- whoosh!”

“I know, I know --”

“Coffee, all over the place, over me, over Dick, over his little dashboard --”

“Yeah, well, we’d just entered the Earth’s atmosphere, sweety. Things got a little rocky --”

“Oh, I’ll say. I had coffee all over my -- my front.”

“She burned her boobs.”

“Well, I did, and it hurt.”

“Well! So, anyway, there we were, crashing into the earth’s atmosphere --”

“They did hurt!”

“I know, sweety.”

“Well, okay, as long as you know. Because I really was trying to help. And now I was just devastated and miserable and my boobs were burnt. I was wearing this purple satin dress and it was low-cut, and --”

There was a pause in the conversation here.

“Right, so I never got my cup of coffee, and --” Mrs. Ridpath gave him a gentle slap on the forearm, “so, there I am at the wheel, trying to bring this baby in, trying to aim it at North America at least --”

“And I’m crying again --”

“Well, you’d spilled coffee all over yourself.”

“I know, but I don’t think you needed me bawling about a damn spilt cup of coffee.”

“Well, to be honest, I wasn’t really paying that much attention to you, sweety.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Darling, I was trying to land a spaceship.”

“Oh, I know. Tell your story.”

“Well, okay, so --”


“So, I --”

“I did bring you another cup of coffee, didn’t I?”

“Yes you did. And I really appreciated it, too.”

“Thank you. See, I wasn’t totally useless.”

“No, not at all. So --”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. So, there I am, zooming in. And after a minute I find North America. Great. Zoom in some more. Now -- where the hell is New Mexico?”

“Not easy to tell.”

“No --”

“No state lines, no color codes, just this undifferentiated mass.”


“Not like a map or a globe at all.”

“Yeah, so --

“Plus it’s nighttime.”

“True --”

“I don’t know how you ever found the right place.”

“Well -- um, how I found it was --”

“Oh, you are explaining.”

“Trying to.”

Sorry, darling. I’ll just sip my vin ordinaire. Don’t mind me.”

“Thanks. So, what I did was, I thought I’d try to find the Rio Grande --”

“See, I’d never have thought of that.”

“Yeah, so --”

“I’m horrible at geology.”


“Whatever. All these ‘phies’. I remember one time at Bennington I tried to drive with my friend Sophie Furness to New York and we wound up in Philadelphia. I remember seeing Billy Penn’s statue up on top of City Hall and thinking, ‘Wait, this can’t be New York!’ But go on, Dick.”

“Where was I?”

“Rio something. The Road to Rio.”

“Right. So, using my vast store of recollected, uh, geology, I finally zero in on New Mexico and the general area of this town called Disdain -- and this whole time we’re watching on one screen this whole business with Enid and Hope and the motorcycle gang -- don’t even ask me about the technology of this, how they were able to keep some sort of cameras on all this --”

“The outer space people are clever.”

“Damned clever.”

“I’m half outer space person.”

“At least. So, I could tell they were near that butte or mesa we’d been on earlier that day, the one with the atomic sinkhole under it, and so I just tried to find it. There’s lots of butte-things around there, but I remembered its position roughly vis-à-vis that atomic bomb-test town, so I found the atomic town finally, and there off a ways from it I saw the butte or mesa and I saw the headlights of the motorcycle guys streaming across the desert and I could see on the other screen that they were heading for Enid and Hope who were running across the desert, and so, well, I just held my breath and started to bring that baby down.

“Of course the problem here being that Brad was still busy trying to save Buddy, and I actually hadn’t the faintest idea how to land this flying saucer.”

“You did the best you could, dear.”

**{See Episode 115. -- Editor}

(Continued here. Please go to the right hand side of this page to find a possibly complete listing of links to all other published chapters of Larry Winchester’s A Town Called Disdain™, soon to be a major motion picture from First National, directed by Vincente Minelli and starring Ava Gardner and James Mason.)

Zoot Money: Zoot’s Suit --


Manny said...

Dan, I believe Harold Bloom once compared this episode to Molly Bloom's soliloquy....Wait a minute: Any relation between Leopold, Molly, and Harold?

kathleenmaher said...

Hot coffee burned Daphne's boobs? I hope she sued the universe for that!

Dan Leo said...

Manny, the mind reels at the possible synergy of it all...

Kathleen, I don't think Daphne has the patience to be litigious. Although she might well seek recompense through extra-judicial means...

Goodtime Samaritan said...

I think I've had this conversation, about ten thousand times. Well, except for the flying saucer part, that is.