Phoenix Lights 5 – The Drive Part 1

Pal and Emma set out across the desert towards the spot where Allan disappeared; meanwhile, Minnie faces an unwanted guest, and we hear for the first time from Dr. Blaise himself.


ANNOUNCER: Good Evening, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for joining us tonight for the Joyce Cigarette Radio Hour. Joyce Cigarettes, the smooth smoke that 9 out of 10 doctors recommend. Rejoice with Joyce!

MFX 2: Joyce jingle:

Yes, it’s the one for everyone:

They’re Smooth! Fresh! Mild!

A real smoke that’s not a joke

And never dulls your smile.

Joyce! Joyce! Joyce!

The doctors’ choice!

ANNOUNCER: Yes, Joyce Cigarettes are America’s favorite cigarette and they bring you America’s favorite entertainment. Let’s journey tonight to the dusty desert streets of Arizona for the mysteries hidden in the heart of a little town they call Phoenix, to the offices of a rakish private detective with secrets of his own, Pal Vargas…

MFX 3: Vargas theme

ANNOUNCER: Last week, Detective Vargas and his client, the beautiful and secretive Emma Blaise tangled with an Air Force general.

EMMA: I will find my husband with your help or without it.

ANNOUNCER: But Mrs. Blaise was able to chase the General off…and during their conversation, Pal and Emma uncovered some important information.

PAL: We know your husband’s alive. We know that there’s something going on that centers on your research—the work itself is supporting a larger project. And what’s more, we have a name. What’s Project Sign? And what’s NACA?

EMMA: Project Sign is the name for the department we report to. NACA is the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. They’re interested in aeronautical science, but they’ve been shifting focus to studying the feasibility of traveling outside of the atmosphere.

PAL: You ever meet anyone else working these outfits?

EMMA: Just once. A Dr. LaPaz, from New Mexico.

PAL: And what’s his story?

EMMA: I thought he was a bit of a… kook. He had a theory that what we were registering as unusual atmospheric phenomena were actually interstellar devices.

PAL: Ahh…all right. Let’s put that to the side for now.

ANNOUNCER: So Pal and Mrs. Blaise headed out to the spot where Dr. Blaise vanished, hoping to learn more about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the good doctor. What will they uncover out in the sands of the Sonoran? Just what was Allan Blaise working on out there amid the cacti and scrub brush? And back at Pal’s office, how will Minnie Brown, Pal’s secretary, deal with the military visitors? Their three stories intertwine like Joyce cigarette smoke swirling through the air in tonight’s episode…


SFX 1: click, old school tape-recorder.

ALLAN: [NOTE: Throughout the episode, Allan’s voice should be slightly distorted in the manner of a tape recorder] This is Dr. Allan Blaise, recording on the 6th of June, 1946, Ft. Sumner, New Mexico for Project Sign research team Alpha, under the command of Maj. Edgar Holloway.

We’re here at the site of some kind of…crash that the Air Force has asked us to look over. Not pilots this time. Whatever this stuff is, it’s not from the base.

Okay, let’s take a look. Hey, uh, Harry; what do you got there? (beat) Yeah, sure, give me a second.

SFX 2: Click.


SFX 3: Click

ALLAN: Uh, okay, let’s try this again. (chuckles) This is Dr. Allan Blaise, recording on the 10th of June, 1946, Ft. Sumner, New Mexico for Project Sign research team Alpha, under the command of Maj. Edgar Holloway; say hello, Ed!

EDGAR: [indistinct, off mic] Allan.

ALLAN: All right, no greeting from the Major. So. What we got here is a debris trail from some kind of event. I know you military types don’t like “indistinct language” but that’s all we’ve got til we get samples back to the lab for Miss Botkin and Mrs. Blaise. There’s what looks like a burn scar approximately 15 meters long and 2 meters wide running north-north west. Ground has been toasted pretty well…the first layer of soil has been melted into a sort of crust…means it was hot. There’s no vegetation anywhere in the burn scar, but this is New Mexico… who the hell knows if there was ever anything growing here? Collecting samples of both the burned and unburned soil.

EDGAR: Hey! Over here!

ALLAN: Looks like the Major’s found something… Whatta ya got, Ed?

SFX 4: Footsteps on crunchy sand

ALLAN: Huh…looks like some kind of metal? Spherical, silver in color…damn! Burned my finger. Harry, come here with a collection bag would you? Let’s get this back to the ladies. And, uh, bring some tongs.

SFX 5: click, tape ends.


SFX 6: Car motor [continues throughout scene]

MFX 4 Radio music, cutting in and out with static

EMMA: (tentatively) So, how did you end up here?

PAL: Here?

EMMA: Phoenix.

PAL: Wanted a change. Spent too long in France; it gets cold there. Wanted to get someplace warm.

EMMA: And get someone special to keep you that way?

PAL: Where is this observation base anyway?

EMMA: All right, I can see that’s not a topic you want to discuss. How about your time in the army? You willing to talk about that?

PAL: Hey, who’s the client here, me or you? I’m the one supposed to be asking personal questions.

EMMA: It’s a long drive, and I’d like to get to know you better.

PAL: Riiight. Minnie didn’t tell you? I’m kind of a closed book.

EMMA: I’m a devoted reader.

PAL: Fine. That’s fine. But this cover stays shut.

EMMA: Look, it is a long drive and the radio’ll cut out here before long. Already there’s not much left but static. (vehemently) I hate driving in silence.

PAL: There some story behind that?

EMMA: Now who’s asking personal questions.

PAL: That is the job.

EMMA: I’m just worried, that’s all. The General is a powerful man and it’s not just Allan who’s at risk. Kat, Harry, and Edgar are important to me; they’re good people. They don’t deserve to suffer consequences because I’m too stubborn to stop when things are against me. I need to find Allan, but if it means someone else gets hurt— (suddenly intense) And I need to know what’s going on! Damn it!

PAL: I’m doing my best.

EMMA: I know. But I should understand this. I should understand and I don’t understand; not any of it. [beat] (ruefully) But I guess that’s the job. Give me a cigarette.

SFX 7: Lighter, exhale.

MFX 5: End radio music

MFX 6: Begin monologue underscoring

PAL MONO: The job, the job, the job. Sometimes I wonder why I got into this mess in the first place—not Emma’s—Mrs. Blaise’s mess—the mess of investigation. The mess of puzzling things out. The mess of breaking codes, of digging into people’s secrets, of trying to understand how this absurd little world keeps rolling through space.

She hates to ride in silence, and I hate to ride in anything else. A car at night—the rumble of a motor, the heat of the road ghosting up through the soles of these ragged old boots…that’s the best way to think, better even than leaning against the frame and looking out the window. Puzzled out a hundred cases just driving through the city, past taquerias and hotels and cactus and palms, and before that, figured my way into a hundred enemy secrets driving through the hills of France, looking out at the stars or up at the bombers as they lit up the sky. There’s nothing like a big empty night to make a body feel at peace, so long as nobody’s around to remind you of all the things out there that ain’t peaceable.

MFX 7: End underscoring

SFX 8: End car motor


SFX 9: Office ambiance (fan whirring, some rustling papers)

SFX 10: Fingernails tapping

YOUNG SOLDIER: Would ya stop that?

SFX 11: Fingernails get louder.

YOUNG SOLDIER: Say, come on.


YOUNG SOLDIER: Look, this’ll all go away if you just tell the General where your boss went.

MINNIE: I wouldn’t have the foggiest.

YOUNG SOLDIER: Sure, sure.

MINNIE: And even if I knew beyond a shadow of a sliver of a doubt, I wouldn’t say a single word to you. Or your general. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

YOUNG SOLDIER: You know who you’re talking to?

MINNIE: Some meatball in a uniform that don’t fit him.

YOUNG SOLDIER: Be like that if you want, but it ain’t going to go well for you if you don’t help out.

MINNIE: Spare me.

SFX 12: Fingernails start up again.

SFX 13: End office ambiance.


SFX 14: click, old school tape-recorder.

ALLAN: This is Dr. Allan Blaise, recording. It’s June 11th, 1946, and we are still here at Ft. Sumner, New Mexico with Project Sign research team Alpha, under the command of Maj. Edgar Holloway. Today we’re looking through the secondary site of what we’ve been calling the contact point. [slight chuckle]

The first layer of soil—well, sand, I guess—is scorched and melted, just like the primary site. This burn scar is smaller, about 9 meters by 1, but other than that, the appearance is identical: same directional orientation, same debris markings, same…I wonder…yep; Harry! Ed!

EDGAR: [off mic] Hang on; I got to grab this sample.

ALLAN: It’s another one of those spheres.

EDGAR: [off mic] I’ll grab one of the fire bags; give me a minute.

ALLAN: So these spheres; we found one at the first contact site. They’re incredibly dense—Katri Miss Botkin hasn’t been able to chip off a sample to analyze, not even with a diamond blade. The first one was about 3 centimeters in diameter, this one about a centimeter and a half. I’ll get the exact figures when I get back to the lab. I got a bandage on my hand from touching the first one; it was still freezing when we got it back to the lab, and it burned its way through our collection bags and the case we put ‘em in. It was working a hole in the bed of the truck when we parked…hopefully that damage doesn’t come out of our salaries [laughs a little at own terrible joke].

SFX 15: click, old school tape-recorder.

SFX 16: click, tape ends.


SFX 17: Office ambiance [under the whole scene]

YOUNG SOLDIER: Say, you got anything to drink?

MINNIE: Not a drop. You could always go down to the drug store on Central; they’re probably still open. It’s not too far. You could walk there in about 15 minutes. And not come back.

YOUNG SOLDIER: Sure, sure. You’d like that.

MINNIE: Darn tootin’.

SFX 18: Ice

SFX 19: Drink being poured.



YOUNG SOLDIER: Thought you said this place was dry.

MINNIE: Oh, it is.

SFX 20: Clunk of cup.

MINNIE: You must be imagining things. I hope your CO knows he’s got a basket case on his hands.

YOUNG SOLDIER: You know what, girlie,…

MINNIE: ‘Girlie’? What are you, 15? Oh, no, the big strong soldier man is going to put me in my place. [you can hear her eyes rolling] Spare me.

YOUNG SOLDIER: I am a representative of the United States Armed Forces, and I’ll thank you to—

MINNIE: You don’t scare me.

YOUNG SOLDIER: That’s something scared people like to say.

MINNIE: You amuse me. Trying to seem all tough and impressive is a bad look. Not at all intimidating. More…I guess the word I’d use is “pathetic”?

YOUNG SOLDIER: Hey, listen here. You’re not going anywhere and neither am I until this all gets straightened out. So you might as well be civil.

MINNIE: …No, that doesn’t appeal to me. What else you got?

YOUNG SOLDIER: Your boss is in real trouble, and so are you if you don’t start, you know, cooperating or answering my questions or—

SFX 21: Fingernails tapping


MINNIE: All you have to do is leave.

YOUNG SOLDIER: Not a chance, doll.

MINNIE: [laughs at “doll”]

YOUNG SOLDIER: What are you even doing here?

MINNIE: My job?

YOUNG SOLDIER: Yeah, sure. Why are you hooked up with this shabby outfit?

MINNIE: You’re one to talk.

YOUNG SOLDIER: I mean it! You seem like a smart kid—


YOUNG SOLDIER: —what are you doing with this two-bit scam artist? He got you doing more than the paperwork?


YOUNG SOLDIER: Look, I don’t know what your problem is,

MINNIE: I can grab you a mirror.

YOUNG SOLDIER: But you oughta know your boss ain’t who he’s cracked up to be.

MINNIE: Right, right.

YOUNG SOLDIER: I mean it. There’s something rotten in this so-called detective office. Kid like you oughta be careful.

SFX 22: end office ambiance


SFX 23: Car motor [cont through scene]

SFX 24: Radio static

SFX 25: Click, as

SFX 26: radio static ends, they’ve lost reception.

EMMA: Radio’s dead. Now your only option is to talk.

PAL: How do you figure that?

EMMA: You can’t seriously expect to be completely silent the whole way.

PAL: Can’t I? Let’s give it a try together.

EMMA: Please.


EMMA: You can’t keep it up, you know. I’ll wear you down eventually.


EMMA: Don’t think you can get out of it. If it stays quiet too much longer, I’ll start singing just to fill the silence. I have a terrible singing voice.

PAL: [quiet, short chuckle]

EMMA: Ah! See, I’ve got you now… Any second now, you’re going to crack like an egg…

PAL: [laughing]

EMMA: Well? Well?

PAL: All right, what would you like to discuss, Mrs. Blaise.

EMMA: Emma. Tell me about yourself.

PAL: No.

EMMA: Fine, then. Tell me about myself.

PAL: Interesting gambit.

EMMA: Just making conversation.

PAL: All right, let’s see what I see. You’re a woman, mid 30s, married, good looking. Missing one husband, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Could be a bit of a red flag there.

EMMA: Perhaps. It definitely seems suspicious. What else?

PAL: About 5 foot 10–5’7” without those heels—, expensive clothes that probably aren’t yours—I can thank Minnie for that observation—a unusual predilection for kissing strange detectives in diner back rooms.

EMMA: Incredibly suspicious.

PAL: Don’t think I haven’t noticed.

EMMA: See, talking’s not so bad.

PAL: Neither is a nice quiet drive. How much farther would you say?

EMMA: Half an hour? The spot where Allan disappeared is the most remote of the monitoring stations.

PAL: Inconvenient of him to choose the middle of nowhere to get vanished in.

EMMA: That’s Allan for you. Never thinking of others.

PAL: Hm?

EMMA: I don’t mean that like it sounds. He’s…focused, that’s all. He doesn’t like to stop when he’s on the track of something interesting.

PAL: Sounds like something a loving wife might not enjoy.

EMMA: [laughs] Not me! Allan has an ability to get himself into the most unusual circumstances. It’s the perfect situation for the curious…if you want to find something strange or scientifically compelling, stick to Allan. He’s like some kind of magnet for the improbable.

PAL: That sounds like a recipe for a complicated and inconsistent life.

EMMA: It suits me fine.

PAL: And yet you’re out in the desert kissing strange detectives.

EMMA: Maybe I like to attract a little trouble of my own once in a while.

PAL: Trouble? Little old me?

EMMA: I go to the pictures. I know what you private dicks get up to.

PAL: And you showed up at my door anyway.

EMMA: Certainly. A girl likes to invite a little intrigue.

PAL: [suddenly serious] Hey, look. What’s your game, here?

EMMA: Game?

PAL: Don’t give me that. I’m no spring chicken…when a woman makes a move on her private eye, there’s usually something behind it, and it’s usually nothing too savory.

EMMA: There’s nothing behind it. I… I just… For the last ten days, nothing in my life has made sense, and the person I’d usually talk to about things not making sense is gone, and you are the only person who’s listened to a word I’ve said. You want to turn that into some kind of conspiracy or trick or machination, fine, but that’s not what’s going on here. I am worried and I don’t know what’s happening. I need someone to be on my side.

PAL: I am on your side.

EMMA: Good.


EMMA: So we’re back to the silence?


EMMA: All right.

SFX 27: End car motor.


SFX 28: Office ambiance

YOUNG SOLDIER: I could tell you plenty about this place, and stuff you wouldn’t believe.

MINNIE: Please. Enlighten me.

YOUNG SOLDIER: You think you know about this Vargas guy? You don’t have a clue.

MINNIE: Really? Please, tell me more, oh font of incomparable knowledge.

YOUNG SOLDIER: This guy Vargas. What do you know about him?

MINNIE: I thought you were the one with all the answers.

YOUNG SOLDIER: No, really. Tell me.

MINNIE: No, really. No.

YOUNG SOLDIER: All right. He sets himself up in Phoenix, nice little private detective agency, Vargas Investigations, sounds nice and above board. You think you’re putting yourself in good hands, right?


YOUNG SOLDIER: This Diego Vargas comes out to Arizona, why? You don’t need a license to be a PI here. All you need is a name on the door. Nobody checks up, makes sure you are who you say you are.


YOUNG SOLDIER: You look into Diego Vargas, you’ll see. I know what he says: he’s a soldier, a good guy, one of our boys back from the front to make good. But that ain’t true.

MINNIE: You don’t say.

YOUNG SOLDIER: Really! Diego Vargas never went overseas…Diego Vargas is a low-level mechanic. So where’s these great detective skills coming from?

MINNIE: Must have done a correspondence course.

YOUNG SOLDIER: No, come on. This is serious. Miss Brown, you’re working for a guy who you don’t know a thing about! Who nobody knows about! And you’re sitting here lying for him like the sun shines out of his ass. Pardon my French.

MINNIE: Oh, I definitely don’t think that. Pal might think that, but I don’t.

YOUNG SOLDIER: You don’t want to get involved with this any more than you already are; that’s all I’m saying.

SFX 29: End office ambiance


SFX 30: Car motor [cont through scene]

PAL: So, that…noise or whatever it was that we heard…and the lights. Whether the Air Force wants to admit it or not, that wasn’t no airplane.

EMMA: No, it wasn’t.

PAL: So what is it, then?

EMMA: Something miraculous.

PAL: Didn’t seem like a miracle to me.

EMMA: Really?

PAL: Didn’t know you scientists went in for miracles anyway.

EMMA: [this is curious, not sarcastic] What do you know about science, Pal?

PAL: I know the basics… the sun’s the center of the solar system, the force of gravity sticks our feet to the ground, plants get their energy from the sun and animals get it from their foods.

EMMA: That’s a decent base of knowledge.

PAL: Hey, I spent my time breaking codes and busting enemy enclaves from the inside. I’m no lightweight.

EMMA: Sorry. But science is… so much more. It’s everything. It’s like codebreaking the universe, you understand? It’s taking a light to the very heart of creation and picking the lock. Look at yourself, in the mirror there.

PAL: Look pretty good, if I say so myself.

EMMA: It should. You’re looking at a person, a human being, but when you look, you’re seeing millennia of complex evolution, of genetics and traits that have been fine tuned by the mechanisms of time and change and luck and coincidence. You’re looking at skin and eyes and hair determined by DNA that started its journey billions of years ago in a single cell. And even smaller than that: you’re looking at molecules of ancient stars, eternal atoms of nebula and asteroid. It took eons and eons to form and mold the elements that converged on a single point in time to make you… and the same to create every man and woman and child and leaf and lizard and orangutan that exists now or has ever existed or ever will.

PAL: Huh.

EMMA: Those lights aren’t something anyone can explain—not yet. They’re something outside of knowledge, but Allan and Harry and Ed and Kat and I—we will find out what they are. They’re just on the other side of the door. They’re waiting be known: that’s the miracle. [beat] Turn here.

SFX 31: End motor


SFX 32: Click, old-school tape recorder.

ALLAN: This is Dr. Allan Blaise, recording. It’s, uh, bout midnight on June 23rd, 1946…still the 23rd, I’m pretty sure; Ed would know if we’d ticked over onto the 24th, but he’s back at camp; this is a ‘solo mission’ as it were.

I, uh…well, I’m not certain what I saw, but there was some kind of event in the low horizon about 45 minutes ago. I was out having a smoke and saw lights and some kind of object out in the desert. I just jumped in the truck to see if I could catch up.

Whatever it was dissipated pretty quick, but I think I’ve found…well, something. If nothing else, I’ve found a new site to check out with everyone tom—

SFX 33: The tape squeals, cutting him off. Allan’s voice stretches and distorts for a moment—it sounds like a computer glitch or a record scratch or a little like both or a little like neither.

ALLAN: [he’s not sure WTF just happened] [[But it was aliens]] This is Dr. Allan Blaise, recording. Uh, it’s…it’s just after two in the morning according to my watch. June…June 24th. 1946. I guess 1946 and June and…shit.

I…I think I’m going to hold on to this tape myself, actually. No sense in letting the brass think I’ve gone off my rocker until I’m certain I haven’t. Sure is something, though. Sure is something.

SFX 34: Click

MFX 8: Outro music.

ANNOUNCER The mysteries continue to deepen as Pal and Emma drive out into the dark desert night, and who knows what’s waiting for them…or what’s watching… Join us next time on the Joyce Cigarette Radio Hour to see what secrets private detective Pal Vargas unveils…and what secrets stay buried.

MFX 9: Ending fanfare