The Speakeasy Society – The Invitation, Chapter 4 – Recollection

Below is a Recollection–this is not a review, but rather a full spoiler walkthrough of the author’s experience in The Invitation, Chapter Four of The Speakeasy Society’s The Kansas Collection. It is also only one path out of many that could have been experienced, so there is some repeatability in returning! In this chapter, allegiances are solidified as you hear the story of Oz’s history of political strife told by two of the Scarecrow’s prisoners. We do have word that this event will happen again, so if you are concerned with spoilers, please don’t read this. Instead, read the review.

 

Life is a game. And you’re the only one who gets to choose if you’re winning.

 

I was returning at last to the place where it all began. The same weathered farmhouse, the same untended fire pit, the same tattered circus tent I would soon find was now home to a couple more clowns. And yet, so much has changed since that first fateful evening I turned right and swore my allegiance to the true future ruler of Oz. Dorothy had at last been captured and returned to the castle in chains, Mr. Diggs the “Wizard” reduced to a patsy and a disgrace, the Patchwork Resistance and Revolt licking their wounds, and the kingdom has entered a time of “unprecedented prosperity and peace,” or so the Scarecrow King would have us believe. Let the empty-headed fool pretend. His preening power trips will be tolerated for as long he remains useful.

 

For now, I must indulge his latest indignity. Peace in Oz not only means no more battles to fight; somehow nearly all crime of any type as been wiped out, the only logical explanation for our prisons standing almost completely empty. Usually menial labor would fall to the convicts, but the apparent shortage means that members of the Armed Militia are being called in to pick up the slack. This is not what I signed up for. Incensed, I wait for my number to be called when a beautiful, reassuring voice coming over the crackling radio reminds me why I’m really here. “Special Agent Phoebe Daring, here. Remember: a future with us is the only future you can count on. The Scarecrow King has requested this song for your morale. We thank you for your service.”

 

There’s a jewel in the city. And it shines with beauty bright

It has to be protected so we all must join the fight

There’s a jewel in the city and it’s calling out for you

There’s nothing it can ask that I would hesitate to do

There’s a jewel in the city. You must harken to its plea

The call to arms has sounded and the jewel belongs to me

 

The pretty tune and the way I choose to interpret her use of “we” sustains me until at last I and another member of the Militia are allowed through the gate. Lyman is waiting for us on the other side, of course, considerably more his usual chipper self than last time I saw him on that fateful night outside of Margaret Gale’s home. Now he’s resumed his steady stream of stock platitudes and nonsense. “The past is the past! The future is the future! Keep making choices!” As he steps aside and waves us into the tent, Lyman makes one observation that does resonate with me: “It gets real peaceful right before the storm.”

 

 

 

 

I find myself once again sitting across from Jo Files, and can’t help but think how I’m frankly amazed that there was ever a time I found him intimidating. His petulant sarcasm doesn’t have the same bite as he lazily runs my partner and I through the specifics of what’s expected of us today. We are to facilitate and aid in some grunt work with a couple of “nonviolent criminals,” according to Jo literally the only two of that designation left jailed in all of Oz. Apparently, Jo’s regular assignment these days is guarding Ms. Dorothea Gale, the latest addition to the Scarecrow’s collection, but he jumped at the chance for a change of scenery and escorted the prisoners to Kansas for the day’s assignment.

 

“Were you there? When they captured her?”

 

I was indeed. “That doesn’t mean I trust you.” I’m getting pretty tired of listening to this pencil-pusher go on and on about the castle gossip (what does it matter to me if the King and Phoebe’s wedding will be in Kansas, so long as it happens?) so I decide now’s the time at last to take care of some unfinished business. I have a promise to keep. A message to deliver. Who knows when I’ll get another chance? As Jo drones on to the poor sap on my left about what he’d do differently if he were king, I pull a scrap of paper and a pen out of my pocket. A true operative always comes prepared.

 

I slide the note across the desk and Jo, confused, picks it up and reads it. It doesn’t take him long to get the message. One word, four letters:

 

ROAR

 

“Did she follow you? Did the Lion follow you?” he exclaims, ripping the note into pieces and throwing them across the room as though he’s afraid that the paper might cut him. He turns to me, enraged.

 

“You can tell her that Jo doesn’t know where the gun tree is. You can also tell her the next time you see her that the next time he sees her—” He deflates almost immediately, realizing exactly who he’s trying to threaten in addition to me. “You know what, don’t say any of that. Just say, uh, Jo doesn’t remember. And be very polite when you say it. Jo doesn’t remember.”

 

With that he mumbles a quick apology to my partner for his outburst and shoots a final dirty look at me as he hurriedly orders us into the back cell to begin our work.

 

 

Speakeasy Invitation

 

 

Two standard issue cots sit on opposite ends of the room while a large wooden table stands in the center with four chairs circled around it. The table is precisely organized to the point of excess. The various objects are all resting at measured angles and distances from one another, hugged by borders made of tape to ensure that no item is ever misplaced. A clipboard with a piece of paper, a pen, a rubber stamp with the image of a key, an ink pad, two stacks of blank envelopes, and a wooden box filled with envelopes already stamped and addressed.

 

The cell’s furnishings also include two prisoners, looking every bit as nonviolent as their reputation suggests. Two young men, both wearing the customary dark green jumpsuits of the Ozian prison system. The taller of the two, with what seems to be an irrepressibly sunny disposition and a shock of bright red hair to match, identifies himself as Jack and his cellmate with the intensely focused stare as Tick.

 

They bid my partner and I choose a seat and the two of them begin to explain what it is we’ll actually be doing today. These are envelopes that will eventually hold the invitations to the wedding of the Scarecrow King and Special Agent Phoebe Daring. Our task is to stamp each envelope with the seal of the key. Simple enough, but Tick is an extremely tense, exacting sort of fellow, and he insists on instructing me in excruciating detail in his reedy, punctuated voice as I hear my partner and Jack laughing their heads off at the other end of the table. Just as Tick is satisfied that I stamp well enough on his practice paper to be trusted with the actual envelopes, something that Jack says carries across the room.

 

“Do you know why we’re the only two prisoners?” Tick immediately chastises his companion and attempts to silence him, but Jack presses on undaunted.

 

“Were you there when they came for her?”

 

Again, I answer in the affirmative.

 

“Who took her and who stayed with you? Phil or Phoebe?”

 

Neither answer is altogether completely correct; for simplicity’s sake I tell him Phoebe.

 

“The group before you said it was the other way around. It’s getting worse! Time is starting to split!”

 

“No, time is not starting to split,” Tick groans.

 

“You said just yesterday you had an hour loop on itself!” Jack replies.

 

“I said that I had an hour exactly duplicated in my memory,” Tick corrects his cellmate, launching into a fast-paced explanation I can barely follow, “I am holding two thoughts at the same moment in my mind. That is not time looping, that is time dilation. If time were starting to split, then there would be a cataclysmic event and both worlds would be in danger but it’s not so we should stop talking about this, Jack!”

 

The two erupt into a squabbling fit that ends with Tick making me discharge a few more perfunctory stamps before pulling me away from the table and over to his cot. He asks if he can trust me. I say he can. I ask if I can trust him. “I’m in prison, what can I do?” Fair point.

 

As it turns out, Tick has quite an interesting take on the state of Ozian politics. As we all know, the Patchwork Resistance has one defining goal: to locate the Lost Princess and fulfill the Prophecy by returning her to the throne of Oz. Patchwork has long been working off the belief that Dorothea Gale is the Lost Princess, hence the recent furor as all sides scrambled to be the first to reach her. Tick, on the other hand, believes that all this fighting over Dorothea is moot because she is in fact not the Lost Princess. He doesn’t offer any hard evidence to support this theory except to repeatedly insist that Dorothea was his friend and therefore he should know, but I don’t push back as I happen to agree with him.

 

Tick then jumps even further back to where it all began with the story of King Pastoria and the great battle for Oz against Mambi and the other witches, long before the Wizard came. The legend goes that Pastoria hid his daughter Princess Ozma in a fold of time, protecting her from Mambi until the day she can return and bring peace to the land. Tick dismisses this story just as quickly, writing it off as a fairy tail. Ozma, he states, is just as dead as the rest of the people from that time. The Lost Princess, he maintains, must be some third as of yet unknown person (again, not Dorothy) who has yet to be revealed. If he only knew.

 

 

 

 

Finally making his way to the point, Tick produces a small wooden box and places three emerald chess pieces on top: a king, a queen, and a knight.

 

“People have three parts: thought, speech, action. The things that you think, the things that you say, the things that you do. Sometimes they’re the same thing… and sometimes they’re not.”

 

The Queen: Thought. The Patchwork Resistance and their Lost Princess. The thought of good.

 

The King: Speech. The Scarecrow King. His armed Militia. The talk of good.

 

The Knight: Action. Glinda, the good Witch. Revolt. The fight for good.

 

He then presents me with a question. “You have a gun and one bullet… who do you kill?”

 

I kill Thought.

 

Tick is taken aback by this, making sure I understand exactly what it is I’m saying. Then he quickly changes gears, so to speak, and informs me of the good news: his royal highness, the Scarecrow King, would like to invite me to the royal wedding, and requests that all loyal members of the Armed Militia wear green to signify their devotion to the crown. Tick leads me back to the table where I use the pen to write my own name and address on one of the envelopes I stamped. Tick, thinking that I’m a loyal member of militia, stammers a quick defense of the Scarecrow King in order to save face. “I don’t mean to throw stones. It takes several calculated mistakes made over and over and over and over and over again to become the thing that you hate.”

 

According to Tick, Dorothy never planned on staying in Oz forever, but the Scarecrow kept insisting that she stay. It all started out innocently, but the more she wanted to go home, the more paranoid he became. Eventually he locked her in the tower of the castle, but in his benevolence he allowed her to pick her own guards. She chose Tick and Jack. Tick was very fond of Dorothy, considered her his only friend, so he devised a plan to free her. Tick would create a distraction. Jack would take Dorothy at the agreed upon time. The three of them would meet and run away. Tick even gave Jack his pocket watch to ensure that Jack wouldn’t be late. But Jack forgot to wind the watch.

 

“Hey!” Tick yells at my partner, who is in the middle of what seems like a much more lighthearted conversation with Jack, “Did he tell you why we didn’t meet Dorothy on time?”

 

Jack begins to apologize for what I assume must be the thousandth time, but Tick doesn’t let him get that far. “Now Dorothy is lost, I’m never going to see her again, our world is falling apart, and it’s all you’re fault and you’re too fucking stupid to understand it!”

 

The entire room is stunned into silence. Jack has nothing to say in response to this. So instead, he turns to my partner and I.

 

“You know they’re all dead, right? The other prisoners? The Scarecrow had them all executed. And now we are the only two left.”

 

Before anything else can be said, we hear a call from Jo’s office.

 

“Your shift is over,” Tick says, pushing us out the back way, “So you should leave while you still can.”

 

A day’s work finished and a sad story told, but it really isn’t any of my concern. Still, I can’t help but feel sorry for Tick. Just as simple as his friend Jack when it comes to what really matters. He has no idea there is a piece on the chessboard that no one can see.

 

A fourth color to wear to the wedding.

 

I stroll past Lyman and back into the real world, confident in the choices I’ve made. I can still hear her voice.

 

There’s a jewel in the city and it’s calling out for you

There’s nothing it can ask that I would hesitate to do

There’s a jewel in the city. You must harken to its plea

The call to arms has sounded and the jewel belongs to me

The call to arms has sounded and the jewel belongs to me

 

 

This was the conclusion of Chapter Four of The Kansas Collection: a multi-part venture into the land of Oz. If this interested you, please read our recollections of Chapter One: The KeyChapter Two: The Axe, and Chapter 3: The Door; and follow The Speakeasy Society’s website or Facebook for more information.

About The Author

Chris Wollman
Chris first checked into the McKittrick Hotel in 2011 and has loved immersive theatre ever since. He holds a Bachelors in Theatre from SDSU, a Masters in Education from USC, and is currently teaching Shakespeare to kids. As Douglas Adams said, he loves deadlines; he loves the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
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