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Time Traveler

Exploring Tomorrow

Time Traveler

May 21 1958



CAST:

ANNOUNCER

HOST


PETER, young scientist 

TRAVELER, initially smooth-talking, obnoxious; later dignified, pleasant

AMELIA, uncertain

HARRY, dumb tough guy

LAURA, jealous




SOUND: A FANFARE OF WEIRD ELECTRONIC NOISE


ANNOUNCER: Now -- step into the incredible amazing future as we go-- (ECHO) Exploring Tomorrow!


MUSIC: PORTENTOUS THEME ... THEN BEHIND ANNOUNCER--


ANNOUNCER: And now here is your guide to these adventures of the mind, John Campbell, Jr.


MUSIC: MORE LIGHTHEARTED, THEN OUT BEHIND HOST--


HOST: "Last night as I was going up the stair,

I met a little man who wasn't there.

He wasn't there again today.

My gosh, I wish he'd go away."


I think it was Gelett Burgess who penned those immortal lines. How do you get rid of the little man who isn't there in the first place? Well, Peter Manson was a physicist -- a scientist -- and his trouble started with a little man who wasn't there.


PETER: (TO HIMSELF) Sub-matrix X, integrated to pi over two plus--


SOUND: DOOR BUZZER


PETER: Confound it!


SOUND: PETER'S STEPS TO DOOR, WHICH OPENS


TRAVELER: (GLADHANDING AND FAST, LIKE A SALESMAN) May I come in, Mr. Manson?


PETER: Well, I suppose so, but--


TRAVELER: Thank you! Are you alone?


SOUND: DOOR CLOSES


PETER: Er, yes.


TRAVELER: Well, then, she hasn't arrived yet.


PETER: I wasn't expecting anybody.


TRAVELER: Oh, I am. But if she isn't here yet, I'll have some time to explain.


PETER: Who isn't here?


TRAVELER: Oh, one thing at a time, sir. Now, first, have you ever considered the problem of time travel?


PETER: Time travel? Why, that's impossible.


TRAVELER: Ohhh, now, don't say impossible, because you invented it.


PETER: I've done nothing of the sort!


TRAVELER: History says you did.


PETER: (BEAT) What history?


TRAVELER: History says that you invented time-travel machinery and applied for a United States patent on June sixteen, Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Four.


PETER: What history? That's six years from now!


TRAVELER: Ah, but not from my point of view. You see, I've used one of your own time machines to come back from your future, fifty years through my past to this date, your present. Do you understand?


PETER: You claim you have traveled fifty years through time?


TRAVELER: I am here! That's proof!


PETER: I don't believe a word of it!


SOUND: BRIEFCASE UNZIPPED ... AVALANCHE OF DUMPED PAPERS BEHIND--


TRAVELER: Well, look 'em over! This is your own personal notebook, fifty years later than it is now. Actually, that's the same one that's on your desk right now. Now, this is a copy of your patent. Now, these documents say I'm right. I say so! You see, in my day, you are the wealthy and famous Peter Manson.


PETER: Well, do you want my autograph? You may be right, but I'm not wealthy yet.


TRAVELER: Oh, I'm not after anything. I'm here to help you.


PETER: I don't need any help.


TRAVELER: Do you know the first thing about your future?


PETER: Of course not.


TRAVELER: Well, I do! I know just about everything that you're gonna do in the next fifty years.


PETER: Prove it. What am I going to do next?


TRAVELER: You are about to be introduced to the woman who will become your wife.


PETER: I already know her. We're engaged.


TRAVELER: Oh, you mean Laura Phillips. Well, no doubt she's a nice enough girl, but she's not for you. You'll break that engagement shortly.


PETER: I'll do no such thing!


TRAVELER: History says you did. Not "will do" -- did.


PETER: But you--


SOUND: PHONE RINGS ... RECEIVER UP


PETER: (INTO PHONE) Yes? ---- Yes, Laura? ---- No, I'm not-- But, Laura--


TRAVELER: Go on. Tell her now and get it over with!


PETER: You shut up! (INTO PHONE) No, Laura, I didn't mean you. ---- No. No, Laura, she's not here. Eh-- (BEAT, TO TRAVELER) She hung up.


SOUND: RECEIVER DOWN BEHIND--


TRAVELER: Ah! Wouldn't listen to you, huh? And that's your fiancée!


PETER: Well, she wouldn't do that if I--


SOUND: DOOR BUZZER 


TRAVELER: Oh.


SOUND: TRAVELER'S STEPS TO DOOR, WHICH OPENS


AMELIA: (HESITANT) Is, uh, this, uh--?


TRAVELER: Ah, Miss Carter! Now, we've been expecting you. Please come in!


AMELIA: All right, but just for a minute. (BEAT, TO HARRY) No, Harry. You wait by the door, but - stay close.


HARRY: (OFF) All right.


SOUND: AMELIA'S STEPS IN ... DOOR CLOSES


TRAVELER: Now, uh, Miss Amelia Carter, may I present--?


PETER: (QUIETLY ANNOYED) Get that dame out of here.


AMELIA: Dame?!


TRAVELER: Please. Now, this is hardly a way to start a lifetime.


AMELIA

& PETER: Lifetime?!


TRAVELER: Yes! History says so! Fifty years, and still going when I left! (ADMONISHES) Now, stop this hostility. We might as well save time, too. Now - now, start off with the first names. Amelia, this is Peter. Peter, be nice to Amelia. You really should be gracious, generous, anxious to create a good first impression.


PETER: Don't you tell me how to behave!


TRAVELER: Now, don't blow a fuse, Grandpa.


PETER: Grandpa?!


TRAVELER: I am Peter Amile Manson, the Third -- your grandson. Note that the middle name is the masculine form of Amelia, your wife, my grandmother.


AMELIA: Grandmother?!


TRAVELER: Yes, indeed. Your son is my father.


AMELIA: But I'm not married yet.


TRAVELER: Ah, but you will be. Now, Grandpa, you sit here--


PETER: You cut this "Grandpa" stuff right now.


TRAVELER: Well, I'm sorry, but I've been taught that it's impolite to call my grandparents by their given names. Of course, you don't look much like the old duffer that I know as Grandpa.


PETER: Old duffer?! I--


TRAVELER: Now, calm down and you start making like romance. You know, you're not even engaged to Grandma yet.


AMELIA: Don't call me Grandma!


TRAVELER: Oh, well, pardon me. It - it is impertinent, but you are quite a dish. Now that I've seen you in your youth, I - I can understand why Grandpa threw over this Laura Phillips girl. I can hardly believe that you'll become that sweet little old lady.


AMELIA: Mr. Manson, what's he talking about?


PETER: He's a time traveler from the future who says he can prove that we met, got married, and--


AMELIA: No, don't go any further!


PETER: I'm afraid he's right. He says it's history, and we can't change history, can we?


AMELIA: But I hardly know you.


TRAVELER: Oh, but if you'd known each other, I wouldn't have to introduce you, would I?


AMELIA: (BEAT, CONFUSED) Maybe somebody'd better explain this to me.


TRAVELER: Ah, fine! Now we're off to a start! Highball, Grandma?


AMELIA: Oh, yes. I think I need one.


SOUND: GLASSES CLINK, CORK PULLED, DRINKS POURED


TRAVELER: Mmmm! Now, a little more romantic setting. 


SOUND: BUZZ! OF LIGHT DIMMER


TRAVELER: Soft lights now. And now I'll leave you two to canoodle a bit. I've other things to--


AMELIA: But Harry--?


TRAVELER: I'll take care of Harry.


SOUND: DOOR BUZZER


PETER: Yipe! That'll be Laura. Run! Hide! Do something!


TRAVELER: Oh, relax, Grandpa. I'll take care of everything.


SOUND: DOOR BUZZER ... POUNDING ON DOOR 


MUSIC: LIGHTHEARTED TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND HOST--


HOST: Of course, Peter Manson wasn't the only one having trouble with the little man who wasn't there. You know, the future cannot be handled logically. It's logically impossible because it doesn't exist yet. And if it doesn't exist, then, obviously, it isn't logical. But it's going to exist, so-- Well, you see what I mean. Logic is just hopeless.


SOUND: CROWDED BAR BACKGROUND


HARRY: I should ought to clobber you.


TRAVELER: Oh now, be reasonable, Harry. It wouldn't prove anything.


HARRY: But Amelia's my girl!


TRAVELER: Get over it, Harry. They're probably arranging their engagement right now.


LAURA: You meddler!


TRAVELER: I am not a meddler, Laura. I'm just an instrument of fate.


LAURA: Fate? Poor Peter, thrown to that blonde lioness!


HARRY: Aw, you stop calling my girl bad names, ya hear?


TRAVELER: You're acting like a pair of spoiled children. Now, stop it! I regret that you've lost your loves, but, really, no one ever actually died of unrequited love.


HARRY: Mine wasn't unrequited!


TRAVELER: Well, it might as well be, once they're happily married.


LAURA: Happily married?!


TRAVELER: Well, you wouldn't want them unhappy, would you?


LAURA: No, I'd like a little happiness myself.


TRAVELER: Yes, so would we all. But stop and think. Now, if a number of human lives depended upon your giving up a love affair, would you go on selfishly and marry the man anyway?


LAURA: Why, that's hardly fair.


TRAVELER: Well, then I'll put it up to Harry. Harry, if your own life depended upon preventing a wrong marriage, would you stand by and let them go ahead?


HARRY: Make your own point. You're the meddler.


TRAVELER: All right, all right. My life depends upon it. My father's life depends upon it. Unless Peter Manson and Amelia Carter marry, neither my father nor I can be born! Now, knowing this, I used my grandfather's time machine; came back to give a formal introduction. Now, you can't blame me for wanting to live, so I came back and I fixed it up.


LAURA: (BITTER) Yes, you're a great little fixer-upper!


HARRY: (THREATENING) Maybe we should ought to fix you up and then go on as we please about it.


TRAVELER: You don't know much about time and history, do you?


HARRY: No, but I could make up a--


TRAVELER: (INSISTS) You could not! You could not change a thing!


LAURA: Why not?


TRAVELER: If your father and mother had never met, could you have been born?


LAURA: Oh, don't be utterly ridiculous!


TRAVELER: Now, don't ever be scornful of stating a simple fact. I exist! Therefore I am! Now, say it as you please. To you, Peter and Amelia will marry. To me, Peter and Amelia married fifty years ago. Now, the sensible thing to do is to accept the fact, wipe it off the slate, pick up the pieces, and go on from there.


LAURA: Such as?


TRAVELER: Well, now, you're both very attractive people. You have a common bond of memories--


HARRY: (BLUNT) She ain't my type!


LAURA: (ICY) Well, I've looked at better myself.


TRAVELER: (EXASPERATED) Oh, egad, this is a primitive era! Tell folks what's best for them, and they want to-- What is the term, Harry?


HARRY: Clobber you!


TRAVELER: Yes, that's right. Clobber me.


HARRY: That's the best idea I've heard all night.


LAURA: No, not here -- outside where I can stop being a lady -- then I'll help you.


TRAVELER: Well, you can beat me up, but you can't change something that's already happened, now can you?


LAURA: Look, I've taken all I can. I'm going home.


HARRY: Uh, can - can I, er, take you--?


TRAVELER: Now, that's a fine practical arrangement. Find sympathy in one another. It's the better thing to do. And maybe you'll find happiness with one another, too.


MUSIC: TRANSITION


AMELIA: Can't we get out of this mess?


PETER: Well, if I cut my throat, I can't invent the time machine, and then he couldn't come back and mess up our lives by forcing me to marry you.


AMELIA: Ah, you'd rather commit suicide than marry me!


PETER: Oh, now, Amelia, stop it. That's not so.


AMELIA: Ooh, so you'd rather marry me than commit suicide?


PETER: Oh, stop the bawling and let me think.


AMELIA: (GETS AN IDEA) Peter? Do you think he'd go away if we made it look like - like everything was running smooth?


PETER: What do you mean?


AMELIA: Well, suppose we stopped squabbling and - and complaining, and made up to one another so he'd think we were happy and - and convinced that he's right. Maybe he'd be satisfied and go back where he came from. Then we could do as we please.


PETER: Won't work. 


AMELIA: Why not?


PETER: That character is our grandson, Amelia. Already he knows what we're going to do.


AMELIA: Well, aren't you even willing to try?


PETER: I'll try. But it's futile! (CURIOUS) What did you have in mind?


AMELIA: Well, I just know he's coming back tonight. We could make it look as if we'd - been getting acquainted.


PETER: Well, what have we been doing for the past couple of hours, playing tiddlywinks--? Hey! Hey! Hey, let go of my necktie!


AMELIA: Oh, I'm just mussing you up a little. If we were really getting acquainted, we'd not look as if we'd been sitting with folded hands. 


PETER: (EXHALES AS HE RUFFLES HER HAIR) 


AMELIA: Hey! Stop that!


PETER: Well, if you really loved me, you wouldn't mind my mussing up your hairdo then.


AMELIA: All right. There! Now we look like we've been wrestling. 


PETER: Yeah.


AMELIA: Where's my bag?


PETER: What for?


AMELIA: Lipstick. You should have a few smears.


PETER: With you looking like a magazine cover? Lipstick is a two-way smear, right?


AMELIA: (HESITANT) Oh, yeah. I suppose so.


PETER: You sound as though Harry was the only man you ever kissed.


AMELIA: If we ever get around to it, Peter Manson, you'll be the only man that's ever been kissed just because - history said he had to be. So there. If I gotta, I gotta.


PETER: All right. Once -- for history.


AMELIA: (THEY KISS) Mmm. Let's see you now.


PETER: (BEAT, AS THEY EXAMINE EACH OTHER) You need, uh, more of a spread.


AMELIA: (CHUCKLES WARMLY, BEAT) You need a touch right there. Hold still a minute.


PETER: (THEY KISS AND GROW AMOROUS; EXHALES DEEPLY) There's one thing - history didn't mention.


AMELIA: What, Peter?


PETER: History didn't say this could be fun.


AMELIA: Peter? Be funny, wouldn't it?


PETER: What could be funny?


AMELIA: (GIGGLES) If this trick worked--


PETER: And then?


AMELIA: And then we found out -- after he'd gone -- that we really did like it?


PETER: Yeah. Yeah, wouldn't it?


SOUND: DOOR BUZZER


AMELIA: Peter?


PETER: Yes?


AMELIA: Isn't that the door?


PETER: Yeah. So let him wait.


SOUND: DOOR BUZZER


PETER: Now, remember to look flustered.


AMELIA: And - and try to wipe your face, too.


SOUND: PETER'S STEPS TO DOOR, WHICH OPENS


TRAVELER: Well! I see everything's progressing fine!


PETER: All right. Now-now-now, go away.


TRAVELER: Oh, I'm not going to stay. I just wanted to see how things were getting along. I know when I'm not wanted.


PETER: Then why did you come here in the first place?


TRAVELER: Well, you think you hate me for my interference. But you wait and remember, in fifty years, the pair of you will be sending me off in my time machine to do this job of fixing up. And you, Grandma--


AMELIA: Stop calling me Grandma!


TRAVELER: You're still my Grandma, and you'll tell me that you and Grandpa actually wasted your first kisses trying to fool me into leaving. But now I'll trot along. But I'll be back tomorrow. Now, don't you keep her out too late, Grandpa.


AMELIA: What'd you do with Harry?


TRAVELER: Oh, I fixed that up fine. Harry volunteered to escort Grandpa's former girlfriend to her home.


AMELIA: Harry and Laura?!


PETER: Laura with Harry?!


SOUND: DOOR CLOSES AS TRAVELER EXITS


AMELIA: (BEAT) Peter?


PETER: Yes, Amelia?


AMELIA: (CHUCKLES QUIETLY) To heck with history. Kiss me once -- for me?


MUSIC: TRANSITION


[SOUND: DOOR OPENS]


PETER: Laura! Oh, for goodness sake, it's three o'clock in the--


LAURA: (COOL) I know what time it is.


PETER: But - but--


LAURA: What I want to know is what you're doing here.


PETER: I'm - I'm trying to think.


LAURA: Yes, you look as if you've got it all settled.


PETER: Well, what can I do?


LAURA: You might wash that blonde hussy's magenta lipstick off your silly face.


PETER: Now, Laura-- Laura, I can-- I can explain.


LAURA: I'm listening. Convince me that you got all smeared up without enjoying it. Come on, come on. Convince me.


PETER: You went home with Harry the Beef Trust, didn't you?


LAURA: I didn't see anyone around making me another offer.


PETER: But I was--


LAURA: I know. Working like a little beaver, making history come out right.


PETER: Well, what am I supposed to do? Bang my head against brick walls? Tilt at windmills? Confound it, am I the only one around here with sense enough to know when I'm licked?


LAURA: Well, you might not be so completely licked if Amelia Carter was ugly as a mud fence.


PETER: Well, it does make my defeat less difficult to bear!


LAURA: Well, make it complete, then. Have this expanded to fit her pudgy little hand.


PETER: My ring? But, Laura--


LAURA: Goodbye, Peter.


SOUND: LAURA TAKES A FEW STEPS AWAY


PETER: Wait! Wait, don't go.


LAURA: What's to stay for? To be a maid of honor?


PETER: If you came to quarrel with me, you yourself are doing everything to prove Junior's point. If he were here, he'd be cheering you into hating me and using my telephone for calling Harry to take you home.


LAURA: Look, I didn't come here to fight with you, Peter. I came here to fight for you. But you're not fighting.


PETER: Junior knows all the moves! No matter what I try everything turns out his way!


LAURA: Yes. Like your experimental smooching session.


PETER: Yeah! That, too! He was amused.


LAURA: I'm not. May have started as a deliberate frame-up, but it certainly ended up ginger-peachy for his little old program.


PETER: I tell you, he knows every move. He came back here just to tell Amelia and me that you had gone home with Harry.


LAURA: And fifty years from now, you and Amelia will dodder over to his time machine and kiss your brat of a grandson goodbye as he goes off to make the introductions. That's the program, isn't it?


PETER: Well, what can we do?


LAURA: Peter, you say everything's fixed and solid; it can't be changed.


PETER: Well, that's the way it is.


LAURA: But let's just suppose that you could quietly un-fix Junior's little apple cart?


PETER: Well, then we'd go on as if he never arrived.


LAURA: Well, couldn't you?


PETER: I can't prevent what's already happened. He exists. He is. He's here, in the flesh.


LAURA: No, I suppose you can't change that, can you?


PETER: No.


LAURA: (WITH SORROW) Well, then -- goodbye, Peter. 


PETER: (AN INSPIRATION) Hey. Wait a minute, Laura. What if Junior were a different kind of guy?


LAURA: What do you mean?


PETER: Look, Laura. He's the grandson of Amelia and me, right?


LAURA: (YES) Mm hm.


PETER: If I don't marry Amelia, he doesn't get born. He can't exist unless we follow every move, right down to the last letter of the historic record he talks about, right?


LAURA: Yes, but--


PETER: Let's assume that the future is not a firm and solid hunk of recorded history.


LAURA: Everyone but you and Junior has been saying that all along, but you keep pointing at Junior's history book and saying, "No"!


PETER: But suppose that Junior's history book is only one of many possible histories.


LAURA: Then how do you explain his "solid" existence?


PETER: Floating a brick on water is not impossible. It's just extremely unlikely.


LAURA: Oh, stop sounding like a mathematics professor, Peter. Get to the important point.


PETER: Until Junior arrived with his books and his papers to show me -- us -- how we were going to act, he was rather unlikely as a future probability.


LAURA: Mmmm.


PETER: But once he convinces us and introduces me to Amelia, Junior's existence becomes a very strong probability. In other words, he exists because he did the fixing that put history on the road that leads directly to him.


LAURA: Well, you could rob a bank and get tossed in jail, and that would stop you from marrying anybody.


PETER: No, we can't change things that drastically. But we might slip a little change in Junior's character.


LAURA: How can we do that?


PETER: Suppose we could create another very strong future probability. Mightn't he come back and fight, just as strong, for his own existence?


LAURA: But how can you do anything like that?


PETER: Laura, would you marry me right here and now?


LAURA: Peter! At three o'clock in the morning?!


SOUND: DOOR BUZZER


LAURA: (DISHEARTENED) Peter! It's Junior again. Don't go! Don't go!


SOUND: DURING ABOVE, PETER'S BARE FEET PAD TO DOOR, WHICH OPENS


LAURA: (SEES TRAVELER, DISAPPOINTED) Oh, no, no, no.


TRAVELER: (DIGNIFIED, PLEASANT) Well, good morning. I'm in time, I see!


SOUND: TRAVELER'S STEPS IN ... DOOR CLOSES BEHIND--


PETER: Do come in. I was hoping you would arrive.


TRAVELER: I am the Reverend Peter Laurel Manson, the Third. You'll notice that my middle name is the masculine form of the given name of my grandmother Laura.


LAURA: Peter, he--! It's the other probability!


TRAVELER: Precisely.


PETER: Let's get along with it quickly before something else comes up.


TRAVELER: Oh, now, please. We must not be impatient. There must be witnesses. But I have prepared for everything. Everything!


SOUND: DOOR BUZZER


TRAVELER: If you will permit me.


SOUND: TRAVELER'S STEPS TO DOOR, WHICH OPENS


TRAVELER: Do come in. Oh, this is a most auspicious occasion!


SOUND: DURING ABOVE, HARRY AND AMELIA'S STEPS IN


LAURA: Amelia!


PETER: And Harry! What are they doing here?


TRAVELER: Well, people here appear to have forgotten that a man has four grandparents. 


LAURA: Well, I'm still a bit confused.


TRAVELER: Oh, my dear, if I had not been prepared for this rare and happy occasion, I should be quite disturbed. It isn't often that a man has the opportunity of officiating at a double wedding ceremony uniting his grandparents.


PETER: (PLEASED) Can you make this stick?


TRAVELER: Yes, yes! Now, unless I double-cross this double ceremony-- Now, Peter, take Laura's hand and stand away over here on my left. 


SOUND: PETER AND LAURA STEP ASIDE


TRAVELER: Now we're all sorted out properly. Fine! History says that Peter and Laura will have a stalwart son. Harry and Amelia will have a fine daughter. Son and daughter are my own parents.


LAURA: Are you sure?


TRAVELER: I arrived a bit late, my dear, because I've been quite a busy man. I made a stopover on my trip through time, pausing long enough to unite in marriage your son with their daughter. (DEEPLY FELT) It was a lovely wedding!


MUSIC: CURTAIN ... THEN "AS TIME GOES BY" ... THEN IN BG, UNTIL END--


HOST: Ah, yes! "As Time Goes By" -- "Woman needs man, man must have his mate." But that doesn't mean you gotta be stuck with any particular mate. There's freedom of choice there. You see, the only way you can get rid of the little man who isn't there - is to have a different little man not there. That takes care of it.


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