by Jeff Goode

copyright © 2007

(DAN is busy. Enter ROB.)

ROB. Hey, guess what!

DAN. What?

ROB. You’re never gonna believe this.

DAN. You and Kris are going to pay the rent on time for once.

ROB. No!

DAN. Because that’s something I would never believe.

ROB. No, this is even better.

DAN. Better for me, or better for you?

ROB. I just invented a time machine!

DAN. So, better for no one.

ROB. Toldya you wouldn’t believe it!

DAN. Well, I suppose I could believe that the invention of a time machine would be theoretically possible, if it weren’t for one thing.

ROB. What’s that?

DAN. You’re an idiot.

ROB. That’s what’s so brilliant about it! The secret of time travel is so simple that once I tell you what it is, anyone could have invented it. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon.

DAN. Good, ‘cause we’ve already got way too many brain surgeons fuckin’ around in medieval England, as it is.

ROB. It was right in front of our noses the whole time.

DAN. So nose hair is the secret to time travel?

ROB. That’s under the nose. And kinda inside.

DAN. What’s the secret??

ROB. You think I’m joking.

DAN. No, I think you’re an idiot. I thought I made that clear.

ROB. Have you ever heard of Albert Einstein?

DAN. You’re no Einstein, if that’s what you’re thinking.

ROB. He invented the theory of revolution.

DAN. Relativity, but close.

ROB. E=mc2

DAN. Yes, that’s the theory of relativity.

ROB. Translated into normal English, that means E — Energy - equals matter — m — times whatever-c-is, squared.

DAN. Speed of light. And m is mass, not matter.

ROB. In layman’s terms — which is what we are, dude — what that means, in theory, is that all matter is secretly energy in disguise. You, me, this watch, everything. So if you can figure out a way to release the energy in ordinary matter, you’ll create a nuclear explosion the size of the speed of light. Squared! Which totally explains the holocaust.

DAN. The extermination of the Jews under Hitler?

ROB. No! The nuclear holocaust. Atomic fissures. Quantum leaps. It’s all explained together in this one equation.

DAN. What’s not explained is how you managed to construct a time machine from a bunch of words that you apparently don’t know the meaning of.

ROB. Elementary, my dear Batman! Because time

DAN. Heals all wounds?

ROB. No, time

DAN. To make the doughnuts?

ROB. No, come on, you know this.

DAN. Just tell me.

ROB. What do you say every time I oversleep and I’m late to work?

DAN. How are you going to pay the rent?

ROB. No!

DAN. What?!

ROB. Time… is… Money.

DAN. (blank stare, then:) Speaking of which, you know, the rent is due today.

ROB. Time is money. That’s the key. They teach you that in first grade.

DAN. Actually, nobody teaches that, it’s a cliché.

ROB. First grade is a cliché?

DAN. No…

ROB. I guess it kinda is, when you think about it.

DAN. No, "Time is money"!

ROB. You’re right, we can talk about this later. (Taking Dan’s pen:) So, look what happens if we replace E for Energy with T for Time. And m is the same, but now it means Money. Then you’ve got "Time…equals…Money! …times the speed of light squared."

DAN. Why the speed of light?

ROB. I don’t know. That’s not important.

DAN. It’s not important? It’s half the equation.

ROB. That doesn’t matter. Now that we’ve invented time travel, we don’t have to understand it, we just have to do it. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to fly an airplane.

DAN. No, but you have to know how to fly an airplane.

ROB. Exactly! But not anymore! Thanks to this formula, we can now convert ordinary money into time, and use it to travel back and forth through history.

DAN. That makes no sense whatsoever.

ROB. I know, but check it out. What time is it now?

DAN. (looking at his watch:) 3:28.

ROB. And how much money have you got?

DAN. On me?

ROB. Yeah.

DAN. $520.

ROB. No, seriously, how much?

DAN. $520.

ROB. On you?

DAN. Yes. (takes out $520)

ROB. Wow, that’s a lot. Do you always carry that much cash on you?

DAN. Only on days when rent is due. Hey, while we’re on the subject…

ROB. Not now, man! We’re wasting valuable time.

DAN. Which is money.

ROB. Exactly! Now, think of a time when you had less money.

DAN. Like right after I pay the rent?

ROB. No, that’s no good. That’s in the future. I’ve already done that.

DAN. When?

ROB. During the trial phase.

DAN. You’ve been to the future?

ROB. It was boring. Let’s think of something in the past. Like when you were in college. How much money did you have on you back then?

DAN. You mean, on average?

ROB. Like, on a typical day.

DAN. I don’t know. Twenty bucks, if I was lucky.

ROB. Alright, here, take 20 bucks, that’s yours. Now give me the rest of it. So all you’ve got is $20, right? And since T=mc2, bam, it is now 1997 and you’re back in college!

DAN. …No, I’m not.

ROB. Sure, you are. I can prove it. Remember when we roomed together in college, and I used to borrow money from you all the time?

DAN. Like you do now?

ROB. Right.

DAN. Like last week, when you borrowed $50 from me?

ROB. Exactly! But last week, when I asked you for $50, you gave it to me, right?

DAN. I’m touched that you remember.

ROB. But now watch this: Hey, dude, what’s up? It’s me, Robbie, your roommate.

DAN. I recognize you.

ROB. Listen, can you loan me $50 bucks?

DAN. No.

ROB. Why not, man? You know I’m good for it.

DAN. No, you’re not good for it. And I’m having a psychic premonition that you will continue to be a worthless deadbeat for many years to come.

ROB. Dude, that’s awesome! But seriously, c’mon, don’t be a dick, just give me fifty bucks.

DAN. Even if I wanted to, which I don’t, I can’t give you $50, because all I have is twenty.

ROB. Bam! Just like when you were in college! If you were in the present, you’d have the money, but you’re not. You’ve been transported to 1997. Because of the time traveling power of money.

DAN. Okay, that’s stupid.

ROB. And look at me! Now, I’ve got $500. Which is exactly how much money I had on Friday, May 1st, 2001, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I remember because that was the day I hit the jackpot on the Lucky Dog scratch off tickets. Three hours from now, I’ll spend almost all of it on miniature golf and pitchers of margaritas, but right now I’m standing in the convenience store on the corner of Franklin and Vine, and everyone around me is cheering and shouting because I just won $500 dollars! Woo woo! High five, dude!

DAN. All right, that’s great. Now give me my money back.

ROB. Are you crazy?! You’re in 1997. I’m in 2001. I can’t just hand you the money, it isn’t safe!

DAN. Funny how it was safe before when I was handing you money.

ROB. That’s because we were in 2007 together. But now we’re both in the past, and we’re almost 5 years apart. If we try to exchange money now it will cause a rip in the space-time continuum.

DAN. For the record, that was not an exchange. It’s still my money. (tries to grab the money)

ROB. Don’t! Stay away from the money! You’ll kill us all!

DAN. Give me that.

(They struggle, the money flies everywhere.)

ROB. Noooooo!!!

(HITLER suddenly enters.)

KRIS. Sieg Heil!

ROB. Look what you’ve done!

DAN. What?

KRIS. Sieg Heil!

ROB. We must have been transported to an alternative universe where Germany won the second World War.

DAN. Or we’re in an alternative universe where Kris went down to the army surplus store and spent his rent money on a Hitler costume.

KRIS. Sieg Heil!

ROB. There’s no time to think about this logically. Quick, give me the money.

DAN. Why?

ROB. I’ll distract him, so you can get away to safety.

DAN. How is giving you all the money going to distract him?

(Rob takes all the money. Hitler spots him.)

KRIS. Juden!!

ROB. It’s working. I’ll meet you back in 2007. Don’t pick up any Deutschmarks on the way or you could be trapped here forever.

DAN. What?

ROB. If I don’t make it back, tell my mom I died saving my roommate from Nazis.

KRIS. Juden!!

ROB. Aagh!

(Rob runs off, chased by Hitler)

DAN. What the–?

(Rob runs back in, out of breath)

ROB. You made it! Wow, that was a close one, huh?

DAN. Yeah, whew. Can I have my money back now?

ROB. Are you kidding? How do you think I got back here?

DAN. You ran in from the next room.

ROB. Just now, but before that I was on a bridge in Berlin. I had to throw the money over the railing to get away.

DAN. And Hitler dived in after it?

ROB. How would I know?

DAN. Weren’t you there when you did it?

ROB. Yes, but the moment I had no money again, I was instantly transported back to 2007, just minutes before I invented the first time machine when I had no money the first time.

DAN. Yeah, but if this is 2007, how come I don’t have any money either?

ROB. My God! You must be in 2007 just after I invented the time machine, and you lost all your money in the time travel accident.

DAN. Accident?!

ROB. Or anomaly. Whatever you want to call it.

DAN. There’s no time machine!

ROB. No? Look at your watch. What year is it?

DAN. It’s– Okay, this is stupid.

ROB. It’s 2007, isn’t it?

DAN. Yes, of course it is.

ROB. And what time is it?

DAN. It’s 3:30.

ROB. Two minutes after I invented the time machine!!

DAN. Give me my money.

ROB. Don’t you understand? Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t do it. We’re still two minutes apart in time. How would I get the money from my time to yours?

DAN. Maybe if you wait 2 minute, you’ll invent a time machine.

ROB. No, I can’t! It’s too dangerous. You saw what happened the first time we experimented with time travel. The technology is unsafe. Humankind isn’t ready.

DAN. So we’re just going to be 2 minutes apart forever? Won’t that cause a rip in space time?

ROB. You’re right, we’re still in grave danger from our earlier time travels.

DAN. I know somebody’s going to be in grave danger if my money doesn’t travel back into my pocket.

ROB. That’s it! Maybe we can’t time travel, but we can still money travel!

DAN. Do what?

ROB. We just have to reverse the formula. If Time equals Money, then Money also equals Time, which means… hmm… uh huh… Okay, I’ve got it! How much money do you have?

DAN. None. You ran off with it when you were being chased by our roommate Hitler!

ROB. No, we can’t complicate the formula with too many variables. Keep it simple. You have no money. And neither do I! So if Money equals zero, and Time equals Money, then that means Time equals zero. And since we both have the same amount of it… Money equals Time equals zero, which means the time gap between us has been reduced to nothing! Quick, look at your watch! (comparing their watches:) We did it! We’re back in the same time zone. We’re safe! (embraces him) Oh, thank God! I thought I’d lost you.

DAN. Was this all an elaborate way of getting out of paying rent?

ROB. Of course not! Is that all you think about? I’m just happy to be alive, after that experience. But if rent is all you care about…

(Goes into the next room. Comes back with $520.)

Okay, one hundred, two hundred, three hundred, four hundred, five hundred dollars! There’s your rent money, paid in full, and on time. Apology accepted.

DAN. I didn’t apologize.

ROB. Not yet, but soon. Remember, I’ve been to the future. Well, I’ll see you later.

DAN. Where are you going?

ROB. Down to the convenience store to buy some lottery tickets. I just found 20 dollars in my pocket I didn’t know I had.

DAN. Hey!

(Rob exits, as Kris enters, no longer Hitler.)

KRIS. (to Dan:) Dude, there you are.

DAN. Stop him.

KRIS. Not now, I have to talk to you.

DAN. What do you want?

KRIS. Listen, I’m gonna be a little late on paying the rent. But only a few minutes.

DAN. A few minutes?

KRIS. Yeah, cuz in a few minutes I’m going to be super rich.

DAN. Really?

KRIS. Yeah, cuz I just invented a time machine.

DAN. A time machine?

KRIS. Yeah, check it out, how much money you got?

(Dan stares at him.)

DAN. I’m sorry, I ever met you guys.

ROB. (offstage:) Apology accepted!