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 Act 7 Scene 4: Visibly Taxed.

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PostSubject: Act 7 Scene 4: Visibly Taxed.   Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:47 pm

With their high visibility vests on, everyone around including the back-stage security assumes that they are there for some important reason. They drift casually backstage while John narrates some vague nonsense technical instructions to Steve and Crew to give their high visibility vests an extra layer of authority.

As soon as they are backstage there is a palpable feeling that they have entered another world, a world parallel to the human world but one where celebrities and the elite live, higher in the forest canopy of existence, in a more rarefied and less troubled world than the one down below at floor level where most people find themselves.

The feeling of being suddenly at high altitude and the sense that the people in this world glide weightlessly might be something to do with the quality of the cocaine which, like everything which is enjoyed by the world’s elite, is of a far higher quality than that which is furtively consumed by the rest of the world.

Stookie Bill: I hope I don’t run into that Lady Gaga creature.

Steve: Why not?

Stookie Bill: She was the one who threw me in the recycling bin after I called her a syphilitic street-walker. She wasn’t happy.

Crew: I’m hardly surprised. Why did you call her that?

Stookie Bill: Well have you seen her? Back in my day we had real singers and real ladies, like Edith Piaf, not some half-formed Levantine trollop with a big nose. Or Josephine Baker, she may have been a blackie but you should have seen what she could do with her legs. Spread ‘em right out doing the Charleston while going cross-eyed at the same time. Cor....

John: Sounds like a woman of the highest virtue. Listen Stookie you can’t go around having a go at Lady Gaga but making saints of Edith Piaf and Josephine Baker, It’s the same old rubbish. Piaf was the model of a fallen woman, that was her whole gimmick, singing in Parisian bordellos and consorting with Nazis during the occupation. Not to mention her ties to gangsters and the murder of her manager in which she was even a suspect. The show’s always been the same, it’s the archetype of the Jezebel. For some reason it appeals to people, perhaps that mix of pathos pity and admiration, and it always sells. It’s a kind of safe engagement with a dangerous woman. You can buy her records and even see her live but you would never ever want to share a house with her and most people with sense know it.

Crew: I think you’re right there. My mate Roach went to Glastonbury and ended up seeing Amy Winehouse on the main-stage. He said she was amazing, genuinely one of the best performers he’s ever seen and he was having the time of life, he was just captivated by her. Then, without warning, she drops off the stage and starts milling through the audience, suddenly she’s there in the crowd and she seems to be looking for someone. Now Roach smokes a lot of weed, in fact he’s tried to smoke most things, and he suddenly gets a bit psychotic and gets this terror that it’s him she’s looking for, that he’s the one and she could read his mind while she was up on the stage, so he goes into this delusion that Amy Winehouse wants him to save her from it all and she’s come to get him. He swears he caught a glimpse of her coming towards him and he says it was the single most terrifying thing he’d ever known. Next thing, someone touches Amy inappropriately, she punches the bloke and the show is over and she returns to the realms of celebrity. It was a shame the show had to finish early, but above all he was relieved that he didn't have to deal with Amy Winehouse in his life.

A voice calls over to them: Oh well look who it isn’t.

They turn to see Elton Jones peering disdainfully at them.

John Hampton: We’ve got no beef with you Elton. We don’t want any trouble. Let us go about our business.

Elton Jones: So you’re on the crew now are you? Or have you come to work on the plumbing? The Satanists are having trouble with their bathroom so I heard but the things they try to flush you just wouldn’t believe it. You’d better behave yourselves around here or you’ll feel the power of Elton’s finger and I’ve got a very long reach. He looks over at Crew. Though you’re alright kitten, if you ever fancy some escape from your hopeless friends and going up in the world I can grease the wheels for you.

Steve: Go grease your own wheels Elton, we don't need greasing or fingering by the likes of you.

Elton Jones: Shocked What a dirty mind you have, to the pure all things are pure. Honi soit qui mal y pense. So there. Sticks out his tongue and goes dancing off. 

Steve: What a cunt.

John Hampton: That’s only the half of it. He loves Nan Goldin’s ‘artistic’ photographs of naked children, and was investigated by the child-porn police for just such an artistic photograph he had donated to an exhibition, however the Crown Prosecution Service decided there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with a prosecution. In 1999 he attended the gay-paedo crossover charity Gloryhole-in-the-stonewall do with male strippers dressed as boy-scouts. In 1989 the Sun newspaper ran a story that Elton had a fondness for young boys whom it was said, should be drugged with vast amounts of cocaine before they are brought to his bed.

Steve: And yet he’s a national treasure.

John Hampton: He’s not the only such national treasure to involved in such things. All of them are compromised in this way in order for them to be controllable public commodities. This tawdry spectacle today is just such an example of these public assets being used to further a particularly nefarious agenda which of course, due to the appeal of the ‘national treasure’ no one has any inkling of. 

A lady dressed all in white to resemble some kind of fairy-godmother, carrying an ice-bucket approaches them.

Lady: Hello gentlemen, I can see you haven’t drunk your Hype-Ade yet.

Crew:  Eh? How do you know? What is it anyway?

Lady: Hype Aid cola, it’s called Hype-Ade everyone must drink their Hype-Ade and have the mark otherwise they will not be able to enjoy the festival.

Steve: What do you mean?

Lady: I don’t know exactly, but I know that everyone who wants to enjoy the show must have consumed one can but no more, if they don’t I hear that something will happen to them, but I don’t know what.

Crew: Why are they supposed to drink only one can?

Lady: Because there’s enough for precisely one can for everyone at the whole festival.

Crew: Ok, I’ll have one.

He takes a can and opens the ring pull and drinks it.

Crew: How strange!

Steve: What’s it like?

Crew: Er, well it tastes a bit like a mix between coke and....cheese.

Steve: Cheese?

Crew: Yeah, it’s a little bit sour I suppose with a weird cheesy after-taste.

Lady: Yes, it’s made to taste like that so no one wants to drink any more than just one can.

When he has finished the can Steve notices that something has happened to him.

Steve: Crew, your lips have gone blue like everyone else’s.

Crew: Cool. I no longer feel isolated from the herd. I was worried I was missing out on something for a minute.

Steve: Yeah, the great taste of coke and cheese.

Lady: to John and Steve What about you two gentlemen? Won’t you drink your Hype-Ade now?

Steve: If you don’t mind I’ll pass on the cheesy blue lips fun-time experience.

Lady: But you must drink you Hype-Ade before it’s too late.

Steve: Thanks anyway.

Crew: Finishing his can pulls a face Don’t drink the Hype-Ade.

Lady: But everyone loves cheese.

Crew: Not fizzy liquid cheese.

Steve: Even the French haven’t bothered with that.  

John: Or the Americans for that matter.

Lady: Well everyone loves cheese but not too much of it. That’s the point. People generally don’t want to drink any more than one can of the stuff so we will have enough to go around.

At that moment three crows start wheeling around the backstage area noisily calling and crowing. They reel and fly, high and low for a few moments until they appear to be making several circuits around a particular backstage trailer all the while cawing loudly. In response a trailer door opens and a host of druidic helpers and a personal shaman and two Amazonian tribesmen pour out.  The three crows fly in a tight circle directly above the trailer until responding to the bird’s calling, Sting emerges while the Shaman dances around before him, protecting Sting from any malevolent Earthbound energies.

Sting: looking up at the sky and addressing the crows Come to me my children.

The three crows stop their calling and all fly into Sting’s beard.

Sting then opens his mouth and caws turning his head stiffly each time like a crow so as that his crowing can be heard from all directions.

In response to Sting’s crowing the whole backstage area suddenly erupts into fevered activity. 

Hype-Ade Lady: Heavens, the Lord of the Crows, we all must serve him. 

Steve, John and Crew are instantly forgotten by the Hype-Ade lady who makes her way over to where the Sting's cawing is coming from.
 
A crowd of record executives, servants, and worshippers all appear and converge on the area where Sting has appeared. He is raised up and placed on a ceremonial seat of gold where he is carried from his trailer to the mainstage.

John: Great, now that everyone is busy with Sting we will be able to access the 4d bio-fuel screen and find a way to allow Stookie Bill access.

They follow a tangle of heavy cables and leads which take them to the master control desk of the 4d bio-screen. The screen itself is a large cubic area roughly the size of a multi-story car park and is presently covered with an enormous curtain which is due to be removed once the activity on the main-stage ends. The screen is a 3-dimensional glass cube the inside of which is supercooled vacuum through which a Bose-Einstein condensate is circulated and photons interacting with the condensate will create images which will appear with absolute solidity from all viewing angles. 
 
John: Stookie Bill, what do you think you can make of this? Is there any way you can access this technology to do whatever it is you mean to do?

Stookie Bill: I don’t know what all this digital rubbish is all about, I’m a creature of the analogue age, I can generate a signal but I can’t make any sense of this Chinese jigsaw of lights and twiddly little nobs.

John Hampton: Me neither, I’m no sound engineer. We need Kemble, he’ll know his way around this lot.

Steve: He was in the beer tent until Sting came on, he’ll probably be in the crowd now.

John: He probably will but Sting could come onstage any minute, if we don’t find him and make the extraction before he comes on he’ll be so tightly jammed into that steaming middle-aged mosh-pit that no artifice of man or nature will be able to pluck him from that human melee of denim and grey pony-tails. We’d better make a move now, one of us needs to find a way to hold-up Sting and prevent him from reaching the main-stage. Think fast, any suggestions?

Steve: One of us could assault him. That would fulfil a life’s ambition for me in any case.

John: Far too crude and we’d be captured by his acolytes, besides Sting keeps himself in tip-top shape, he’d probably be pretty tasty in a fist-fight and probably knows all sorts of ethnic martial-arts bullshit no one has ever heard of.

Crew: I read that he’s a strict vegetarian, we may be able to startle him with meat.

John: A couple of those suspicious Saveloys thrown in his path could be just the thing to waylay him for a time, but we don’t have time to track them down. Besides, thinking it over there’s probably so much soy in those filthy bangers that he might feel right at home.

Steve: What about allergies? Does Sting have any known allergies?

John: Unknown. We have to ask ourselves, what is his weakness? What does Sting fear most?

Crew: Tax. I've got it! I’ll be a taxman checking up on his residency status for tax purposes.

John: Yes, like most greedy millionaire do-gooders he's remarkably good at talking a good charity game as long as it doesn’t have to come out of his back pocket. It could just work. If only you can trick him for a couple of minutes it could make all the difference between successfully extracting Dr Kemble before his mind is totally locked-down in a Sting-trance.  

John: It could work. But I’ll have to be the one to do it. Indicating his suit and tie. I’m dressed for the part. You track down Kemble and get him back here. Here, take my high viz to get him through security. He takes off his high-visibility vest and hands it to Steve. You’ll find him right at the front, probably pressed to the railings, no doubt drunken to insensibility at this point, you’ll have to trick him into coming somehow.

Steve and Crew run back to the backstage entrance and back into the crowd at the front of the mainstage.

Crew: People seem to be stirring, moving closer to the front of the stage, all the gaps are closing, they must be able to sense Sting’s presence and that he is coming closer, like a dog who starts sitting at the front windows anticipating his owner coming home.

Steve: There’s some weird science in it that’s for sure. But we’ve no time to philosophize we’ve got to break into the crowd through one of the gaps and find Kemble before the gap closes forever trapping us in that seething middle-aged mass of beer and gravy bellies.

They find a narrow opening which leads them to the front of the crowd but as they move they can see more and more people surging to the front, the gap starts closing in on them.

Steve: We’ve got to be quick, c’mon on.

Suddenly there is palpable sense of something stirring, a new alertness comes over the crowd. The movement increases, people start to drink up their beers and toss away the bio-degradable cups made from hygienically recycled lavatory paper. Other people finish their falafel salads and pick themselves up from the ground.

They look around frantically, all the while feeling the press of the crowd, but can find no sign of Dr Kemble.

Then there is movement on the stage, four people dressed in leather and carrying instruments walk onto the stage. There are cheers and whoops and the crowd tightens up and the gaps snap shut trapping Steve, Crew and Stookie Bill deep inside the a festival crowd feverish for some soothing MOR rock full of moral self-serving platitudes which are easy for simple people to digest.

Steve: Too late, I guess John wasn’t successful. Now we’re stuck here with this lot and Sting.

Crew: Is suicide an option?

Voice from the stage: One two, one two.

Crew: It’s just the roadies. Ha!

The crowd react by returning to their previously relaxed posture and the gap once again opens up.

After ten minutes of searching there is still no trace of Dr Kemble and the sense of anticipation at the imminent arrival of Sting is now tangible and it seems that their time is about to run out.

Crew: Dr Kemble where are you? Dr Kemble? 

Steve: Maybe he never made it out of the beer tent after all. He was on his 4th pint after all and that was only within 30 minutes. At that rate he must have crashed and burned and never even made it this far.

Crew: Maybe you're right. We've been here about half an hour, this is hopeless, Sting's going to be on any second, we've done all we can I guess. Ooof, what’s that? Crew finds he had nearly tripped over something on the ground. He looks down. Good Lord, it’s Dr Kemble, he’s asleep on the ground.

Steve: Wow, how long has he been down there do you suppose? Remember, he’s likely to be insensible, we’ll have to trick him into coming with us.

Crew: Dr Kemble, Dr Kemble. Dr Kemble grunts, Dr Kemble, open your eyes, you’re dreaming, come with me. Dr Kemble slowly opens his eyes.

Steve: Hurry up Crew, the crowd are moving again, they know Sting’ll be on soon so they’re all trying to get the best position.

Crew: You need to get up off the ground. Dr Kemble doesn’t move. Dr Kemble, the ground is on fire, you need to get up or you will be burned alive and consumed in fire. Dr Kemble slowly shambles his body into a standing position, he is insensible but half conscious and standing up. 

Dr Kemble: looking around in confusion Who are all these people? What am I doing here?

Steve: improvising This is hell, these are the thousands of restless lost souls being punished to eternally wait for an interminable amount of time for a tedious righteous pop-ponce to prance and preen onstage to satisfy their strange and profane sense of entertainment. We must move quickly and get out of here now otherwise your soul will be doomed forever...or something. 

Dr Kemble shrugs 

Dr Kemble: Alright then.

He goes off with Steve, Crew and Stookie Bill through the last remaining gap in the crowd.

John Hampton has activated a mode familiar to him from his previous life as an investment banker in the Far-East, that of dealing with money and how to professionally bullshit people. He calls out to the man riding high in a golden chair being carried aloft towards the main-stage on the backs of an adulating crowd.

John: Mr Sumner. The man in the high golden chair momentarily glances at him then studiously ignores him. Mr Gordon Sumner.  Mr Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner CBE. He ignores him completely.

John: Mr Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, I am from her majesty’s inland revenue.

Suddenly Sting’s eyes go wide, a scream is heard from someone, and gasps from others. Sting’s head appears to momentarily shake, he raises a trembling hand to signal his acolytes to stop then lower the chair.

All of Sting’s power, arrogance and magnificence suddenly appears to evaporate as John approaches him in the guise of a tax-inspector.

There are fevered whispers and murmurs ‘the tax inspector’s here’ ‘tell the others’, a few acolytes break off from the crowd and run off to alert the other tax-exile pop-stars who may perhaps have spent rather too long in the country which they are officially no-longer tax residents of than they should have.

John Hampton: I’m sorry to bother you at this time but would you mind answering a few questions?

Sting is visibly pained but makes an effort to be gracious.

Sting: Of course, but will this take long? Wouldn’t it be better if you made an appointment?

John Hampton: This is an unannounced visit Mr Sumner which is a power which her majesty’s government has authorized. You’re a difficult man to get hold of Mr Sumner and you know how persistent a tax inspector can be since you were once briefly a tax-officer yourself if I am not mistaken, in another life-time.

Sting: If we’re going to do this could you at least do me a favour?

John Hampton: If it lies within my ability Mr Sumner.

Sting: whispering into John’s ear for the sake of my dignity, would you please call me Sting.

John: Of course Mr Sting.

Voice in Sting’s entourage: Where’s your identification. You have to show identification. Ask him to show his identification.

Sting: He’s right, could you show me your identification please?

John Hampton: Ah, well. Unfortunately someone seems to have stolen my wallet shortly after I arrived at the festival. I noticed it had disappeared once I left the queue after buying a saveloy and some chips.

Voice in Sting’s entourage: If he hasn’t got his ID he can’t do anything to you Sting. You’ve won.

Sting: Referring to the voice in his entourage He’s quite right. I can’t be expected to answer your questions if you can’t prove who you are, now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some lives to save.

John is instantly passed into irrelevance and powerlessness, there are a few which tut at him as they pass him, some even admonish him for daring to interfere with the work of such a great and selfless man.

Sting walks away with his entourage but after taking a few steps his visibly weakened and seems to stumble.

Sting: I can’t go on just yet. That rather odious tax-man has taken my magical power from me. I suspect he was sent here by my enemy. I’m going to need some time to recover my manna. Take me back to my trailer, I’m going to need at least another twenty minutes in my peace-pod. Toby, get a seaweed and dogseed enema prepared for me, I feel too nauseous to swallow anything.

With that Sting is lifted once again into his golden chair and his whole entourage dutifully retrace their steps and go with the now visibly ailing star back into his trailer.

Dr Kemble, despite his drunken condition responds instinctively to the intricacies of the sound and vision desk and turning the power on and makes the correct modifications to allow them to feed a signal into the 4d bio-screen.

The screen emits a low humming noise as it is appears to be warming up.

Dr Kemble: It will take a while to warm-up the Bose-Einstein condensate, or rather, cool it down. Once the optimal conditions are reached the unit will be fully functional and you will be able to insert the signal source here he indicates an input channel.

Crew: whispering to Steve So that’s where we’ll stick Stookie Bill, we’ll just jam him in there somehow.

Steve: Thanks again John. Now let’s get you back where you belong.

They take Dr Kemble back to the crowd at the mainstage and release him stumbling back into the sea of middle-aged music fans now growing increasingly hungry and impatient for their mediocre pop-Messiah. They watch Dr Kemble become slowly absorbed by the crowd and then lost within its depths, at that moment there is a roar and cheers as Sting walks confidently and cheerfully onstage, clearly recovered from his near-miss tax ordeal.

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Act 7 Scene 4: Visibly Taxed.
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