A Comedy of Phantoms

Erique Claudin, Petrie, the dwarf,and Sandor Korvin were sitting in a comfortable living room. On a coffee table, magazine ads and posters for the various films were spread out. A giant chalkboard sat behind a couch where our heroes were seated.

". . . So, then, I sent him into the torture chamber where all my loyal, hungry ravens were waiting and they pecked him! Isn't that great?" Sandor asked enthusiastically.

Petrie and the dwarf looked at each other. The dwarf twirled his pointer finger in an "insane" sign to which Sandor protested that he was not.

"Well, let's examine that more closely," Petrie commented. "You cut off the hands of 'the clapper', you got burned in a fire, then, you started chasing after this girl who has no idea who you are, you start training her—."

"You did the same thing!" Sandor shot back.

"Well, I still had my sanity!"

"You wish! What about the time you went into the printer's and burned down the whole building?"

"That was an accident," Petrie said, ". . . after several on-purpose attempts to destroy all manuscripts and equipment in there."

Lon Chaney's Erik entered. He pointed to the chalkboard and words magically appeared on it.

"Guys, can't we all just agree our lives as Phantoms were just really, really bad?" asked the magic words on the chalkboard.

"No!" chorused Petrie and Sandor.

"And why do you always get the chalkboard?" Petrie asked, then gestured to the dwarf. "My poor little friend over here has to just pantomime!"

New words appeared.

"Because I'm King of Phantoms—I'm cool like that. Now stop this bickering immediately or I'll have to . . ."

Lon Chaney's Erik pulled out a Punjab lasso and held it up threateningly. PetrieandSandorproduced their own lassos.

"We all have one!" Sandor said.

"Damn it!" exclaimed the chalkboard. "Okay, then . . ."

This time, he held up the reed he used for swimming. Petrie inquired dryly,

"And the lake is where . . .?"

Driven to frustration, Cherik finally broke the silence.

"Okay, you know what, this is just stupid. Why is it that you two can't last a day without arguing?"

"Because our versions are different, that's why," Petrie informed him.

"Every version is different!" Cherik said. "Erik never returns in the same form twice!"

The dwarf looked at Cherik, then, pointed at the chalkboard.

"Sure, knock yourself out," Cherik replied.

The dwarf pointed at the chalkboard again and words appeared as they had for Cherik. Now, the chalkboard read,

"Hooray! I get a chalkboard!"

Cherik rolled his eyes as Winslow Leach entered, carrying a stack of pizza boxes.

"Hey, everybody," Winslow announced happily, "The pizza guy finally showed up!"

"Well, it's about time!" Erique said. "He's always late—just because we live in another dimension, the fool acts like he has no idea where to find us."

"I know, it's so annoying!" Sandor said. "I mean, Petrie, Winslow, and I found this place just fine and we're still mortals!"

The dwarf pointed to the chalkboard.

"Well, as long as he remembered the anchovies, he's okay in my book," said the chalkboard.

"You like anchovies?" asked Sandor with a look of disgust in his eyes. "Anchovies are disgusting!"

"I've been trying to tell him that, but he won't listen to me!" Petrie said, completely repulsed. "God, I can't stand those slimy little fish!"

"I know!" Sandor said. "And the smell is just . . . ew."

"Oh, my God," exclaimed Cherik, "We found something you two actually agree on—somebody call the guys who write The Guinness Book of World Records."

"I'm on it!" Winslow exclaimed, dropping the pizza boxes.

"Nice going, Leach," Petrie said, "Now the pizza's squished!"

"Is anybody starting to see a creepy resemblance to E.T. in all of this?" asked Sandor.

"I was starting to think that," Erique said.

The dwarf pointed at the chalkboard.

"Yeah, next thing you know, some weird creature's going to come crawling out of the dark," declared the chalkboard.

A figure came crawling out of the dark, giggling. Everyone screamed, except for the dwarf, who pointed at the chalkboard again and, "Scream!" appeared on it. The figure came into the light, revealing itself to be Leroux's Erik.

"Hey, guys," Lerik announced, giggling, "I locked Maria in the torture chamber!"

At the mention of the name of his Christine character, Sandor leapt to his feet, eyes blazing, his Punjab at the ready.

"You what?" he roared.

"Calm down, it wasn't your Maria—it was the Carlotta character in Petrie's version!" Lerik said.

"Okay, never mind, we're cool," Sandor said, relaxing.

It was then that Lerik noticed the pizza boxes on the floor.

"Ooooooooooh, is that pizza? Does it have scorpions and grasshoppers on it?"

"No," Cherik replied, dryly.

"Turn the scorpion! Turn the scorpion, Christine! Turn the scorpion!" screamed Lerik, crazily running around.

"Winslow!" Cherik shouted.

Winslow appeared.

"Did you make special brownies again?" Cherik asked, "Leroux's Erik is clearly on something."

Winslow quickly shoved the remainder of a brownie he was eating in his mouth.

"Maybe . . ." he said, his eyes darting around.

"Do you know what happens when you take that?" Cherik asked.

"Well, you either go to jail or you die," Winslow informed everyone, "But, the good news is, you feel really good for a while!"

He looked up at the ceiling.

"Ooooh, look at all the pretty lights!"

"God, the '70s were so fucked up," Cherik said.

Phoenix—Winslow's Christine—appeared.

"Tell me about it," she said, "Once, I went in for a singing lesson and found him hanging upside down from the ceiling . . ."

"I was going to fly!" Winslow protested.

". . . And I had to get a ladder and climb up and get him down, which wasn't easy since I'm scared of heights, and then . . ."

"Come fly with me! Fly with me, Phoenix!" entreated her Phantom, gazing at her adoringly, his eyes glazed over slightly from either being love struck or high.

"Um, no, I don't think so," Phoenix said.

"Aw, come on! Fly like a beautiful Phoenix! . . . Or some other town in Arizona!"

Winslow began to run around like a headless chicken.

"Please, someone hit him with something heavy," Erique begged dryly.

Phoenix dropped all the pizza boxes on Winslow's head.

"Thank you," Erique said. "God, that man annoys me so much."

"Those must have been heavy pizzas," Cherik commented.

"Nah, I just put bricks in the boxes when I answered the door for the pizza guy," Phoenix informed him.

"And people think I'm weird?" Sandor wanted to know.

"Watch it, Korvin, or I'll get Maria and Elena in here . . . both at the same time!" Phoenix warned.

"And the problem with that is . . . ?" Sandor asked, giving her a wink.

"Ugh, men," Phoenix muttered as she rolled her eyes, leaving.

Petrie turned and looked at Sandor, his one visible eye widened.

"You're seriously thinking that?"

"What's wrong with that?"

"There's everything wrong with it!" Petrie exclaimed. "I can understand lusting after a girl from afar, but a threesome? And when one of them is your wife? You have issues."

"Well, at least—wait, how old are you?" Sandor asked.

Petrie crossed his arms over his chest.

"None of your business," Petrie said.

"Fine. At least I'm not a however-old-you-are virgin!" Sandor shot back.

Petrie's eye widened again, this time, offended.

"You don't know that—."

Sandor interjected.

"There was no innuendo in your film, no suggestive song, no verbalization that you actually loved your Christine—you even hit her once—."

"Oh, let's not bring up that again!" Petrie groaned. "Every Phantom has his freak out moment! Mine was tame compared to some of your guys'."

"Here we go again," Cherik said, sitting down and munching on popcorn, "I'm betting on Petrie."

"No way," Erique said, "Sandor'll kick his ass."

"Will not!" Cherik said. "Know why? Know why? Because Petrie has a very large and eloquent vocabulary!"

In the background, Petriesuddenly jumped up, grabbed Sandorby the shirt, flattened him against the wall, and started cussing him out

"Of course he does," Erique replied sarcastically, "And I'm Christine Dubois' father."

The dwarf pointed at the chalkboard.

"Incest! Incest! Incest! Ewwwww!" screamed the chalkboard.

"It most certainly was not," Erique defended, "I was this close, this close, but I never got a chance to f—."

Winslow awakened.

"Fly away like a bird on an ocean breeze!"

"Phoenix, can you come knock him senseless again?" Erique yelled into the next room.

"You're on your own, pal!" Phoenix's voice called, "Mary Philbin's Christine and I are doing each other's hair!"

Petrie still had Sandor pinned to the wall.

". . . So don't let me ever hear you say that again, you understand me?" Petrie exclaimed.

He dropped Sandor to the ground and Sandor curled up into a ball on the floor.

"I'm scared now," he announced. "I want Maria. Or Elena. Or both."

Petrie flopped back down on the couch, sprawling out on it.

"You are so weird," he said to Sandor.

Winslow and Lerik began eating brownies.

"And so continues the madness in the realm of the Phantoms . . ." Cherik said.