XAVIER: A naïve but intrepid junior high student.
VIVIANNE: A bland but worthy junior high student.
MENANOV: A boring yet insane junior high math teacher.
VICTOR: A disgusting, isolated social throwback with a severe speech impediment.
Felicity with tongue twisters a plus.
SCENE 1: An ordinary American junior high.
XAVIER, VIVIANNE and MENANOV are present.
MENANOV: …all of which were used until the present day. And that concludes today’s lesson on Roman numerals. Homework for Monday: continue hacking into the treasurer’s computer and converting the school’s financial records into Roman numerals. And remember, don’t tell anyone about this assignment. Class dismissed.
XAVIER: You know, ‘i’ianne, I can’t wait to ha’e math with somebody else. Menano' makes me feel creepy.
VIVIANNE: No kidding, Xa’ier. I can’t quite place it… maybe it’s related somehow to the way he keeps using us to fulfill his diabolical plots to destroy the modern international economy.
XAVIER: That could be it, I guess. Or his toupee, maybe. Well, I guess we might as well get the homework done with as soon as we can. I’m free for next period.
VIVIANNE: I need to go to my locker and load my gun for Recklessness class. I’ll meet you in the lab.
XAVIER: Okay, see you there.
SCENE 2: XAVIER and VIVIANNE in the lab, seated before a
XAVIER (pointing at the screen): That’s funny, ‘i’ianne. This column doesn’t add up. It ought to be the same as this one, shouldn’t it?
VIVIANNE: Huh. You’re right. Except that the numbers are right in both columns. X plus III is eighteen…
XAVIER: Right, but ten plus three is thirteen. It doesn’t make sense.
VIVIANNE: Let’s just drop it. Oh—hey Xa’ier, did you read that book for English yet?
XAVIER: What, that “Cheesy Dramatic Letdowns” one?
XAVIER: Yep. I’ll tell you, ‘i’ianne, it’s a good read. Explained a lot of things.
VIVIANNE: What did you just call me, Xa’ier?
XAVIER: I called you ‘i’ianne. That’s your name, you know.
VIVIANNE: No… no… it’s not my name! My name is I—I—eek, I can’t say it! It’s ‘i’ianne! No! What’s wrong with me, Xa’ier?
XAVIER (rising from his chair): My name isn’t Xa’ier, either! It’s Xa’ier. Aack!
VIVIANNE: No! What’s going on? Suddenly I’e lost my ability to use the letter… tongue… can’t … speak…
XAVIER: Lo’ey-do’ey! Oh! It’s the letter after U and before W! It’s gone! Utterly gone! Why didn’t we notice it before now?
VIVIANNE: I don’t know! It must be fiendish magic. It’s like there’s a ‘eil stretched o’er it!
XAVIER: Of course! That’s why our columns don’t add up. The number stands for fi’e! We’e forgotten it and that’s why we keep ha’ing errors of fi’e!
VIVIANNE: But why are we the only ones who noticed it?
XAVIER: Probably because our names seem so strange without the letter! Probably we ne’er would ha’e noticed it otherwise!
(Xavier and Vivianne cling together.)
BOTH: Our alphabet is being destroyed, and only we realize it!
MENANOV peeks in.
MENANOV: Could you keep it down in here? Other students are using the lab.
VIVIANNE: Won’t happen again.
MENANOV nods and exits.
XAVIER: We ha’e to do something.
VIVIANNE: You’re right. And calmly. We need to stay calm.
XAVIER: But how can we possibly find the missing letter?
VIVIANNE: Uh… hey, I know. Let’s find an old episode of Sesame Street that’s brought to us by that letter! Maybe if we watch it enough times, we’ll fall into a suggesti’e trance and be able to find the source of the problem!
XAVIER: Sounds good to me. Let’s go. Just don’t tell anyone we were watching a kid’s show.
SCENE 3: Vivianne’s living room.
XAVIER AND VIVIANNE stare at the television screen. Both are humming a simple, up and down rhythm. After a fe seconds of trance-like staring, VICTOR enters and starts humming as well, but using a ‘v’ sound.
ALL THREE: Vvvv—vvvvv—vvvvv—vvvvv—vvvvv—vvvv—vvvv!
VICTOR creeps across the room and sits on the floor. XAVIER and VIVIANNE stare at the air above them as a dark, beckoning vortex opens out of nothingness.
VIVIANNE (in awe): Xa’ier, look! It’s a ‘ortex!
XAVIER: A ‘ortex!
VIVIANNE: It’s con’olsecing toward us!
XAVIER: It’s co’nening toward us!
VIVIANNE: It’s drawing le’el!
XAVIER: It’s lo’ely! Let’s jump into it!
The two hold hands and leap from the living room into the vortex. They whirl around for a few seconds and then collapse on the floor. Slowly, they get up.
XAVIER: Whoa. Where are we? It looks like a secret underground ca’e!
VIVIANNE (pointing at Victor): And look! There’s a guy o’er there! I wonder what he’s doing here.
XAVIER: I think he li’es here.
VICTOR stands up, points at Vivianne and Xavier, and shouts,
VICTOR: Invaders! Invaders!
XAVIER: What? Calm down! We’re not going to hurt you!
VICTOR: Vacate Victor’s hovel! Leave! Leave!
VIVIANNE: Oh, come on. We’re not even armed! See? (Throws arms wide.) What could we possibly do to you? We just want to talk to you.
VICTOR (doubtful): Give verification. Prove motive.
VIVIANNE: Let me see your book, Xavier.
XAVIER: Okay, here you go.
VIVIANNE (looking at book): Wow. I’m supposed to gain the disgusting man’s trust by letting him kiss my hand?
XAVIER: It’s time tested, ‘i’ianne.
VIVIANNE sticks out her tongue in disgust, but goes over and allows Victor to kiss her hand. She sits back.
VIVIANNE: Now do you belie’e that we’re not trying to hurt you?
VICTOR: (nods.) Unequivocally.
XAVIER: Hey, ‘i’ianne, did you hear that? He keeps saying the letter! In each word he says!
VIVIANNE: You’re right! How do you do that?
VICTOR: Haven’t overwhelming alternatives. V’s inevitable.
XAVIER: You can’t help but say them?
VICTOR: (nods glumly.) Victor’s vocabulary gravely unraveled. Very ennervating.
XAVIER: Your name is Ictor?
VICTOR: Victor. Bereaved, deprived, impoverished Victor Calvatta.
XAVIER: Nice to meet you. I’m Xa’ier.
XAVIER: Uh, yep.
VIVIANNE: And I’m ‘i’ianne.
VIVIANNE: No, ‘i’ianne.
VIVIANNE: No, ‘i’ianne!
VICTOR: (Kneels and grovels.) Victor grovels, divine Valkyrie! Vivianne, forgive vile Victor!
VIVIANNE: Uh—I forgie you. But who are you? And how do you do that? How do you say the letter?
VICTOR: V? I’ve given every V-less vocalization over.
XAVIER: To whom?
VICTOR: Perverted villain! Maverick Manenov!
VIVIANNE: No! Our math teacher! He’s inoled—connected?
XAVIER: I don’t understand.
VIVIANNE: Xa’ier, I don’t think this man was always the miserable wretch he is now. I think he used to be a normal person. Until that Maneno' did this to him!
VICTOR: Verily, verily! Unavoidable; devilish Vs ever universally pervasive!
XAVIER: I begin to understand. So Maneno’ stole all the world’s… ‘letter after U’s, and ran for the hills. But when it looked like the police were closing in, he dropped the loot—on poor Ictor Calatta here! Now he can’t say a single word without that letter in it!
VICTOR: Verily! Clever Xavier! Victor provides interwoven narrative involving Manenov?
VIVIANNE: Um… Sure.
VICTOR smiles and sits down.
VICTOR: Maverick Manenov visited Victor previous November eleventh. Carving veal. Victor very valuable carnivorous carver. Manenov viewed Victor, invited Victor over. Victor arrived above Manenov’s veritably overblown driveway event. Evening inconceivable! Manenov served seven lavish avocados, vine leaves, chives, vintage vino. Invigorating. Victor overate. However, clever Manenov provoked various devilish invocations! Victor’s vitality vanquished forever. V’s driven vying undercover. (Points to his head.) Leaves Victor living unavowed. V’s, V’s, V’s everywhere over Victor’s conversation. (Sob.) Manenov vacated event driving moving van. Victor believes Manenov should’ve arrived eventually.
XAVIER: Arried where?
VICTOR (Now crying uncontrollably): Manenov’s vast, evil volcanic cavern. Lava waves everywhere! Over—Rover’s Cave. Rover’s Cave.
VIVIANNE: Roer’s Ca'e? That’s not far from here!
XAVIER (nods heroically): Come on, let’s go.
VICTOR: Xavier? Vivianne? Leaving??
XAVIER: I’m afraid so. We’ll do our best to help you. (They start to go.)
VICTOR: Save grievous Victor? Heavenly Xavier! Marvelous Vivianne! Drive covertly over valleys! Stave evil! Forever have love! Forever have love!
SCENE 4: A vast, evil, volcanic cavern.
MANENOV is standing ominously onstage, looking grim and waiting for XAVIER and VIVIANNE, who enter.
MANENOV: So! You havvve come!
XAVIER: Yes, we ha’e come!
MANENOV: And you have seen through my devious—Devvvvvious—plot!
XAVIER: Huh? No, actually, we just came. We had no idea you had a plot at all until now.
MANENOV: What? You didn’t?
XAVIER: Naw, of course we did. I’m just fooling with you.
MANENOV: I see. So, you have come to confront me in a final battle!
VIVIANNE: A final battle? We ha'en’t e’en had a first battle yet. Unless you count that stupid test from last trimester.
MANENOV: You have come to challenge me on the brink of the vvvvolcano to a duel of mortal combat!
XAVIER: Nope. Actually that’s not right at all.
MANENOV: Then what havvvve you come to do?
XAVIER: Well, first off, I thought you could re’eal the purpose behind the whole thing. Why’d you steal all the world’s ‘letter-after-U’s, Maneno’?
MANENOV: So you really havvvvven’t worked it out? It was to embezzle funds from the school, you pitiful things! By havvvvvving my students convvvvvvert the records into Roman numerals, I could create gaps of fivvvvve dollars per line without anyone evvvvery noticing the missing V! Fivvvvve dollars per line and lots of lines per student adds up fast! Soon I’ll have amassed over thirteen hundred dollars! MuAhahahahaha!
VIVIANNE: Uh—thirteen hundred dollars? Excuse me? Like a grand and a few bills is worth doing all this stupid underground ca’ern stuff.
XAVIER: Yeah. Thirteen measly hundred? What gi’es?
MANENOV: Uh… well… I think that’s a lot of money.
XAVIER (to Vivianne): I can’t believe this guy. It’s almost not worth actually defeating him.
VIVIANNE: Well, we need to help poor ‘ictor, and get the English language back to the way it was.
XAVIER: I guess so. But I don’t think he deser’es a respectable fight scene.
VIVIANNE: Then what are we going to do?
XAVIER: I know! We’ll use a method from my book, Cheesy Dramatic Letdowns.
VIVIANNE: Ooh, good idea.
XAVIER pages through book.
MANENOV: Is this going to take much longer?
XAVIER: Not much, no. Look, here’s a method called Drawing on an Obvious Set-up from Earlier in the Story to Effect a Quick Ending without Really Resol'ing any of the Underlying Issues!
VIVIANNE: Sounds good to me! Use it!
MANENOV: I don’t know. It sounds dangerous. I think you’d better givvvvve me that book.
XAVIER (standing back and holding it up): Ne’er!
MANENOV: We’ll see about that!
MANENOV trudges toward Xavier and unexpectedly trips and falls into the pit of molten magma deep in the core of the volcano, dying instantly.
XAVIER: Well, that’s that. V, Very, Voluptuous. Looks like it’s working again. Let’s go back to your place and watch some T.V.
VIVIANNE: Okay. And maybe afterward, we can view a video.
They exit. THE END.