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Hey there. Brad (the author) here. If you want to produce this play, you're required to send me pictures of the performance, at the very least. Get in touch with me through my talkpage. I assume you know what you're doing if you can get here. So anyway, enjoy.

[Scene: a marketplace in 1850 New Jersey. People are trotting back and forth. Asper pulls in a carriage. Jim was walking beside it. Both are dressed as paupers (or the 1850 New Jersey equivalent). The cart says “miracle juice. 5 cents” on the side. There are unmarked bottles on it.]

Jim: That’s good. [Pause] I said that’s good, Asper… STOP!

Asper: No need to yell in my ear. This cart is easy enough to move but impossible to stop. I tell you, we need a mule. So this is the spot, eh?

Jim: [excited] This is the very spot where my father practiced his art. You see? Over there, in the corner, my mother would wail at the top of her lungs. And back that way, my grandfather would declare his “doubts” about the elixir’s effectiveness.

Asper: [fiddling with ear] Wow. So we can assume that this is a good spot, eh?

Jim: I don’t know. Over there is where they were all hung. Here, let's not face that hill...

Asper: [still fiddling] Really?

Passerby1: Excuse me, sir. What is it you are selling?

Jim: Yes, well people have become less and less trusting. It’s almost impossible to pull off a decent swindle these days. Times are wretched. It was only my ability to act deaf in public places that has enabled me to scrounge up enough food to survive.

Passerby1: Sir. Sir, may I try a bottle? [picks up a bottle of … of whatever it is]

Asper: Well, if you’ve never made money swindling, why swindle? Beg for a living.

Jim: (shocked) Swindling has been in my family for GENERATIONS. To desert it would be like saying my father was a fool, and his father before him, and his father before his father. You’re missing the whole point of apprenticeship. You do that which your father did, and your son does what you do. It doesn’t matter how well it’s done, just so long as tradition is upheld…

Passerby1: Excuse me…

Jim: Do you mind? I was in the middle of a monologue. We’re trying to provide important clues to the audience regarding the predicament we are in, and if we were to sell a bottle of this substance to you without even TRYING, this early section of the play characterizing two incompetent swindlers would be lost entirely, now wouldn’t it?

Passerby1: Oh…. I’m sorry.

Jim: You'd better be. Just be glad you play another minor character later in the show. Now git.

[Passerby1 gits, taking the bottle of tonic he was holding in his hand with him.]

Asper: What was it you were saying?

Jim: I have no idea. Man, do I ever hate PEOPLE. So remind me how you came to be my apprentice, I’ve forgotten already.

Asper: Well, sir, as I've said many times earlier, before you asked me to pull the cart, I woke up on the side of the road, and you helped me up. Along the way, you gave me a bottle of your tonic and ever since then my memory has been returning in spurts. I think soon I shall remember who I really am and get out of this wretched business.

Jim: Good. Good. Stick to that story, and we’re sure to sell at least ONE bottle of this stuff.

Asper: But it’s not a story, it’s…

Jim: [from top of cart] Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls. Catholics and Protestants! Slave and Free! Hypocrites and liars! Listen to the words that bleed from my lips! My apprentice, Asper, and I, Jim, want to sell you this cool stuff! We have dozens of bottles of the scientific wonder, the Miracle Tonic!

Asper: Isn’t that Miracle Juice?

Jim: It’s ok, Asper, I doubt anyone’s listening. There’s no place for accuracy in this business, anyway. [Back to “crowd”] For just 5 cents, you too can feel like 50 or even 60 cents! [Walks to passerby2] Hello, madam. Would you be interested in a miracle drink?

Passerby2: I don’t want any.

Jim: Oh, I think you just haven’t seen the miraculous powers of the stupendous Miracle Cider.

Passerby2: It doesn’t smell like cider. What’s in it?

Jim: What’s it smell like to YOU?

Passerby2: Smells more like fermented pickles.

Jim: Well, that’s just what’s in it!

Passerby2: Really? Sweet or dill?

Jim: [thinks] What would you like more?

Passerby2: Honestly?

Jim: Honestly.

Passerby2: Neither. The very idea of drinking fermented pickle juice is incredibly disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourself. Goodbye.

Jim: Surely you’d be interested in a little demonstration of its powers?

Passerby2: Maybe. Does it make you drop dead?

Jim: Well, [looks by to Asper, who shrugs and pulls out a bottle and opens it] would you buy it if it did?

Passerby2: No, but I promise to laugh.

Jim: [disappointed] No thanks. Goodbye.

Asper: [takes a swig] No good. People just don’t seem to be interested in that kind of stuff anymore. [Looks at bottle] Hey, I just remembered my Mother's maiden name!

Jim: No time for that, my friend. Here comes another customer. [Talks to “crowd” once more] It solves mathematical problems, it knocks in-laws unconscious uncannily. You sir, we’re ready to sell you some of this tonic now.

Passerby1: No thanks. I’m fine now. Besides, I just remembered I don’t believe in any of that hocus-pocus stuff anymore.

Jim: Aw… are you sure?

Passerby1: Don’t know. [Takes swig of bottle he swiped] Yeah, I’m pretty sure.

Jim: [Dejected] Ok, fine. [Sits back down] What we really need is another product. One that sounds believable, yet ridiculous. Simple yet complicated. Incalcuably bizarre, yet scientific.

[Passerby1, who has finished his bottle, thinks about interrupting, then just swipes another bottle of tonic as Jim is sililoquizing]

Asper: You know, Jim, that last one can often be the same thing.

Jim: Wait, here comes another customer. [Jumps onto stand as Wild Charlie’s cart rolls in.]

[Wild Charlie has a beautiful female Attendant pulling the cart in for him. His bottles are all marked with odd designs (they almost look Arabic). His sign says “Wild Charlie’s Heavenly Ginger Ale. 60 cents.” His outfit is reminiscent of a ringmaster’s. Charlie looks like a cross between Mark Twain and Colonel Sanders.]

Jim: Ladies and…

Charlie: [people start flocking to the cart as soon as he opens his mouth] LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Boys and girls! People of all ages and creeds, races and stati! [Women swoon at the mention of the word “stati”] Harken unto me! [Men impressed with the word “harken.”] Free candy to all that listen. [Children pile onto scene] There are many hardships in this world. [Crowd responds affirmatively]. Most of us are in dire need of a little something to get us through before we make our trek to the afterlife. [Preacher yells amen] And until such time as we can meet out glorious maker, let us taste a little Heaven on Earth. If you would, please, Marlene?

[Attendant pulls out a bottle of Ginger Ale]

Charlie: I will be selling this lovely taste of heaven to you, not for the marked price of 60 cents. [Crowd responds to number with shock] Not for 55 cents. [Crowd responds to markdown with excitement]. Not for 50 cents. [Crowd becoming elated. Woman in crowd faints. The crowd is too interested to catch her.] But for a one-time only low price of [Attendant provides drumroll with empty bottles] 49 cents per bottle! [Crowd cheers loudly]

Jim: [who, along with Asper, are first furious, then in awe of Charlie’s command of the crowd] Wow… 49 cents per bottle… that’s not bad. [Gets off cart and pulls Asper, who has his mouth wide open, alongside him into the crowd at Charlie’s cart.]

Asper: His command of recherche and esoteric phraseology is superlative! (this gets him a double take from Jim)

Charlie: One at a time, please. No pushing. Now, now…. Everyone will have his turn. {Woman taps his shoulder. He smiles] Or her turn. You’ll all get bottles, my friends. I haven’t sold out in this county yet, so I’m thinking you’ll all get a chance at a bottle each, probably…

Jim: (fighting through the crowd) Excuse me, excuse me. Mr. Charlie! Excuse me. Mr. Charlie, sir? May I have a word with you? Sorry, excuse me.

Charlie: [woman presents her hand to him] Much abliged, madam. [Kisses her hand] I’m sorry, sir, but my paying customers come first. They have all my attention. Perhaps we can talk later.

Jim: But I don’t want to talk later, I need to talk to you now. [Charlie is ignoring him] Here. [Pays the attendant attendant for a bottle of Ginger Ale]

Charlie: [after talking with several customers] Now you have my attention, my dear customer. What is it you wanted to talk about?

Jim: Well, I was just interested in how you…

Charlie: Bernie! Excuse me. [Walks past him] Bernard! How are you doing? So good to see you. [Jim is trying to get his attention during his entire conversation with Bernie] My you’re looking fit. Still working the old Root Beer, I see. Excellent to hear you’re doing so well. You know, you were always my best customer. I never did find anyone who bought quite as much as you did…


Charlie: [Face lights up] See ya’, Bernie. [With nothing left to buy, crowd dissipates. Asper follows cart offstage] So… excellent purchase, my friend. You can’t even start to understand the burden you’ve lifted from my shoulders. Until next time, Ladies. [Nods to group of women from crowd] Good show today.

Jim: Show?

Charlie: Yeah. So… what have you got there? A little competition for my cart, I see.

Jim: What? Oh, that. It’s just a little thing I inherited from my father. It’s been in the family for generations.

Charlie: Looks horrible.

Jim: Yes, well… I haven’t had a chance to spend a lot of cash to renovate it, just yet. I’ve been wanting to for a while now, but begging just isn’t as prestigious an occupation in America these days.

Charlie: I hear you. I tried begging myself, in my younger days, but there was no joy in asking someone for their money. [Eyes ablaze] If you want a real thrill, you take it from them.

Jim: You know so much of swindling. Tell me how you sell a product so well.

Charlie: You really want to know? [Moves in close] First, you give the product an outlandish cure. Make it seem like it is the cure for the deadliest thing you can think of. Second, give it a drawback. People aren't stupid. They won't trust a miracle drink with no drawbacks. That's just too good to be true! Third, and most important, give the product a name that sounds like booze. No one can resist alcohol. That’s the most important part of any product: the name. The alcoholic sound will send people flocking to your stand.

Jim: [after looking at the ground] Excuse me for asking, but I must know… how did you become so skilled at commanding a crowd? I’ve never seen anyone with that much control of people he’s never met before.

Charlie: What do you mean? Oh THAT? That’s just an act.

Jim: What?

Charlie: Yes, my begging was linked to my early days as an actor. Those people you saw today were the actors I worked with in my youth...

Jim: So you didn’t really…

Charlie: Nah, it’s an act. People don’t really react to my speeches like that. Heaven's, if they did, I'd be a politician!

Jim: But you sold all your wares.

Charlie: Thanks to you, yes I did. [Pats him on the shoulder] Thanks again for that. I’ll be seeing you.

Asper: [Walks in with huge bag over back. Jim is stunned.] Well, it took the last of our cash, but I bought every last one. We’re going to do some REAL business now.

Jim: We are so dead.

Asper: What?

Jim: I lost all our cash to a swindler! I tell you, Asper, you just can't trust people these days...

Asper: Charlie was a swindler? I would have never guessed. The woman pulling his cart was so beautiful, I was sure they were a legitimate outfit...

Jim: There's only one thing left to do: change into my begging clothes (takes off his hat and throws it offstage). There, how's that?

Asper: You look pathetic.

Jim: Good. Now, while I'm gone, sell this stuff as booze.

Asper: What?

Jim: You heard me. Charlie over there said, "If it sounds like booze, people will buy it."

Asper: Do you really want to trust a swindler?

Jim: Sure, he may have been a swindler, but at least he was a GOOD swindler. He got us, didn't he?

Asper: Did he? (takes a swig) Yes, he did! What're we going to do? (Jim helps him take a swig) Oh, you've already told me...

Jim: Now, there are other tips he gave me, but I'm sure you'll figure them out

Asper: Ok. I'll just... wait, that doesn't make any sense at all. I was offstage while he was talking to you.

Jim: Take a swig.

Asper: (does) Oh, ok. I'll try.

Jim: Good. Now remember, don't buy anything while I'm gone.

Asper: How can I buy anything? We don't have any money!

(Jim just glares at him for a moment before remembering he's both broke and hungry)

Asper: A name. What I need is a name. How about... Ginger Ale! (takes a drink) No, that's been used already. (a customer is trying to get his attention) Root Beer! (takes a drink) No, That other swindler, Bernie, used that. Man, I'm never going to think of a name.

Customer: Excuse me, sir...

Asper: WHAT?

Customer: I was just wondering if you had any ale in that cart of mysterious Arabic-looking (reads the sign) "Me-ar-aaa-culll Jews" ... I'm sorry, I can't read the rest...

Asper: Man, you're stupid. The rest says, "5 cents" and no, it's not for sale. And no, it's not ale. Now get out of here before I throw you off the stage! (Customer starts to wonder off as Asper takes a swig) WAIT!!! (pause)

Customer: Am I waiting for anything in particular or... (Asper takes a swig)

Asper: Yes! What I said is only partly true. I'm not ale, it's gin! Asper's Gin! And you want to buy some! (takes several bottles off the cart and heads toward the customer with it)

Customer: But I don't like gin. I like ales.

Asper: Oh, for heaven's sake! I'm selling you some good 60 cent juice for 5 cents, and you won't take it!

Customer: Well, that is a pretty good price, I have to admit. Here, let me take some. I've got a headache I'm trying to get rid of, so any booze will do.

Asper: Yeah, it cures headaches. It also stops minor aches and pains, reduces, and helps reduce the risk of heart attacks. (customer is impressed)

Customer: Oh, get me some for my mother, too. She's having stomach problems.

Asper: Starts to head toward cart, then takes a swig. (pause) Wait, no, that's a stage direction (starts to head toward cart, then takes a swig) NO! It won't work on stomach pain. ANYTHING BUT STOMACH PAIN!

Customer: Uh... ok?

Asper: But it'll work on everything else. Headaches, backaches, tennis elbow, writer's cramp, you name it! JUST NOT STOMACH PAIN!

Customer: Well, that stuff happens to me all the time. You know what, I'll take the whole cart!

Asper: Excellent! I'll bag it up for you.

Customer: 5 cents each, right?

Asper: It's a discount price, but you deserve it, buying in bulk like this!

Customer: Good. Let me get my cart.

Asper: Thank you so much for you business. You won't regret it, sir! (starts bagging up the wares, whistling a patriotic tune. He takes a swig when he's done whistling. He stops bagging. He takes another swig just to make sure) Oh my gosh, my golly. 5 cents each? This is not good. (Jim comes on stage, whistling) Uh oh.

Jim: So, you sold some? I did pretty well, too. Look at this! I've made 5 whole dollars! That's pretty good, eh?

Asper: Uh, no. (dumps a lot of bottles back into the cart)

Jim: What are you talking about? 5 dollars is a masterpiece! I'll be telling my grandchildren about this day.

Asper: No, I mean I didn't sell them.

Customer: (with cart) I'm ready to pick them up.

Jim: Really? Then who's he?

Asper: I don't know. (takes a drink) Oh, oh, oh. he's not a customer.

Customer: (smiling) Heh, that's a funny joke. I'm ready to buy now.

Jim: Excellent, sir. We'll just...

Asper: Uh uhhhhh.... we're not selling.

Jim: We're what?

Customer: Oh, that's so depressing. I was really looking forward to giving this out as gifts and quack treatments.

Jim: We're selling. Just a moment. (aside to Asper) What is wrong with you? Are you afraid of success?

Asper: You don't understand. I told him I'd sell it at...

Jim: I understand. I understand that I need a new partner! This is the last time I trust you to sell while I'm away.

Asper: But he thinks it's... (Jim's finger stops him from continuing)

Jim: Now. I'm sorry about that. We're ready to sell.

Customer: You had me worried for a moment. I mean, 5 cents a bottle is a great price, I was hoping you weren't going to back out of it.

Jim: I've always thought so. Now, that $5.00 for 100 bottles. Excuse me just a moment. (runs back to Asper). YOU IDIOT! What is WRONG with you?

Asper: AHH! AH!! Stop punching me!

Jim: I'm not punching you! Punches are thrown with a closed fist. My fist was open.

Apser: No it wasn't.

Jim: Yes, it was.

Asper: No it wasn't.

Jim: Yes, it was.

Asper: (pause) Really?

Jim: Yes!

Asper: I don't remember that. (starts to take a drink)

Jim: STOP that! (grabs bottle and throws it off stage) We just bought 50 bottles of that Ginger Ale, and before that, we had 50 bottles of that stuff we bought from the alchemist in Alberquerque for 10 cents a bottle. Why on earth would we sell at 5 cents a bottle!

Asper: Our sign says 5 cents a bottle! (in a really pathetic voice) Please don't hit me!

(Jim stands in front of sign, reads it a couple of times out loud to himself)

Customer: Um, excuse me. I'm kinda in a hurry. I have to give this out to my family before sunset. (mysteriously) It's a full moon tonight.

Jim: JUST! ... Just give me a minute, ok?

Customer: Well, I've got to go, so if you're not selling.

Jim: Ok, fine. Just... just turn around for a minute. (Edits the sign until it says 50 cents. This should be done in multiple steps. Example: 5 cents changed to 25 cents, then to 250 cents, then a vertical line is drawn through the 2 to make it $50 cents, then cents is scratched out, then he adds a dot in front of the 5. Thus, at the end is says $.50, with cents scratched out).

Customer: I know you're changing the price. I'm not stupid, you know.

Jim: (after he's done) No, I don't. Here, see? (turns him back around) Just like before. Now, that'll be $50.00 for the whole 100 bottles.

Customer: OK, good. I was worried you were changing the price to 60 cents or something rediculous like that. Here you are, $50.00.

(Asper starts to load up the bottles)

Jim: Much abliged, sir. Thank you ever so much.

Customer: Oh, it's not a problem. (As he walks to the bag that Asper's loading, he stops and examines the sign) Just a minute. That's not a dollar sign! It's a 2! With a scratch through it! And that's a cents stratched through? What are you trying to pull, you swindler?

Jim: I um.. I don't know what you're talking about.

Customer: I know that this was 25 cents before.

Jim: ... Excuse me. Just a moment. (aside to asper) Ok, Asper. How much did we pay for the for the Ginger Ale?

Customer: Is this going to take long?

Jim: Just a moment, please.

Asper: (figuring on his fingers) ...I don't remember. I need a drink.

Jim: Don't drink that! That's our merchandise! We've got to figure out if we can sell this whole cart at 25 cents! We paid $5.00 to the alchemist.

Asper: Right.

Jim; And less than $50.00 to "Hi, I'm a swindler" guy. So that's $55.00

Asper: Can I go? I really hate math.

Customer: Yes, I'd like to leave as well.

Jim: Fine! Forget it! Forget the whole profit aspect of it! Here's your freaking cargo.

Asper: It's called "Asper Gin"

Jim: I DON'T CARE WHAT IT'S CALLED! And give me $5.00. (customer starts to argue) DON'T ARGUE! It's what we agreed on at first, so that's what you're getting it for. I may be a swindler, but I'm an honest one. Give me that $5! (grabs the money) Here, Asper! Let's go! (starts to pull the cart away) I hate this lousy stinking business. I'm going into professional beggary! (exits)

Asper: Just a minute, Jim. (to customer) Can I buy one of those unmarked bottles off of you? I seem to have forgotten something important, and whatever's in those bottles reminds me what I need to remember next. Or something like that.

Customer: Sure. 25 cents a bottle.

Asper: (Digs through pockets, then calls to Jim, who's offstage) Hey, can I borrow 25 cents?

Jim: (grumbling the entire time he's back onstage) I hate this show! Stupid! All farces are stupid. (give Asper his change) Drama! That's a real play. This one is just so darned stupid... (etc)

Asper: Thanks. (exchanges a quarter for a bottle of the "Mystery stuff" Takes multiple swigs.) Hey, HEY! Jim! I remembered who I am! I'm a chemist! I make medicine! And we had a big bunch of my new invention "Asperin" stolen. That can't be right, I don't invent it until 1899! (suddenly has an accent) And I'm German! (runs offstage) ACH! That reminds me. My name isn't Asper, it's...

Customer: Well, that wasn't contrived at all...

(enter Charlie)

Charlie: So, did you get it back?

Customer: And then some. This whole wagon for just $5!

Charlie: Good work, Bernie. (Bernie IS the Customer!)

Bernie: No problem sir. All in a day's work. So, I get half of today's earnings, right?

Charlie: In your dreams. I have 6 others to pay off. You'll get your share like everyone else. (pops open a bottle of "Ginger Ale") Well, maybe we can share some of the "old bubbly" to celebrate.

(lights go down as they each have a bottle of "Ginger Ale")

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