Phoenix Lights Episode 3 – Jimmy’s

Emma Blaise has come to Private Detective Pal Vargas for help finding her missing husband, business as usual in the world of a private eye. But now, Pal and Emma are on the run from the US Air Force. It seems that the disappearance of military scientist like Allan Blaise might not be quite as simple as Pal thought.

Phoenix Lights is written by Kitt Keller and features the voices of Ryan Jenkins as Pal, Jamie Haas as Emma, Conrad Miszuk as the Man in the Suit, William Crook as Jimmy and the Announcer, and Kitt Keller as the Joyce Cigarette Girl.

Music by Cody Hazelle, Conrad Miszuk, and Kitt Keller, and sound by Cody Hazelle.




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: Joyce jingle:

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: Vargas theme

ANNOUNCER: Last week, Detective Vargas tangled with the beautiful and mysterious Emma Blaise.

PAL: You’re not who you say you are, Mrs. Blaise.

EMMA: You think I’m a fraud, Mr. Vargas? Look in the mirror!

ANNOUNCER: Before Mrs. Blaise inadvertently revealed a secret.

PAL: You said there were five members of your husband’s research team, Mrs. Blaise. Who’s the fifth man?


ANNOUNCER: And their conversation was interrupted by an unexplained and unexplainable event.

SFX: Quick clip of alien noises.

PAL: What was that?

EMMA: I don’t know! Nobody knows!

ANNOUNCER: Who…or what lurks in the shadows of the Blaise laboratory? What secrets are hiding behind Mrs. Blaise’s beautiful eyes? Where is Dr. Allan Blaise? Find out tonight on Phoenix Lights.

MFX: Vargas theme

MFX: Monologue Underscore begins.

PAL MV: A lie is a story, and I’ve always prided myself on my storytelling. It’s easy to slip up, to accidentally let go of a little thread of detail, and a good listener can gather all those threads up, pull ‘em, and unravel the whole thing. Take Mrs. Blaise here. She’s is a good actress, but she doesn’t have the practice with lying…she makes mistakes. A storyteller has to keep track of all the different threads or else someone is likely to come along and tear out the seams.

MFX End monologue underscoring.

PAL: Mrs. Blaise, I thought we understood each other. You tell me what you can and I’ll help you. Now you’re trying to hide things from me again? At least do me the favor of telling me when you aren’t going to tell me something.

EMMA I’m sorry. You caught me off guard.

PAL: I don’t think you’ve ever been off guard in your life Mrs. Blaise.

EMMA: You’ve caught me in a lie, then. There is a fifth member of the research team, but I know that they didn’t hurt Allan, that they weren’t involved in any way with his disappearance.

PAL: How do you know?

EMMA: [taking a breath to steel herself] Because they’re me.

PAL: You?



PAL: [louder] Minnie? Come in here.

MINNIE: Right away Mr. Vargas.

PAL: Well well well.



I don’t know—

SFX: Door opens.

MINNIE: What’s the dope, Pal?

PAL: Mrs. Blaise here has been lying to us, Minnie.

MINNIE: [in the tone of “duh”] Well, of course.

EMMA: How did you..?

MINNIE: Your voice is too perfect, and your clothes.

MFX Underscore music.

PAL MV: And her face. And her body. And her eyes. And her face.

MFX End underscore.

MINNIE: Anyway, I always assume everyone who comes to us is lying about something.

PAL: You do?

MINNIE: I’ve never been wrong yet. So what’s your real story?

EMMA: I don’t know if I…

MINNIE: Look, we already have you pegged as someone who’s putting on a show. The hair, the suit, the voice, all of it. And we’re in the business of investigating crime—

PAL: [under Minnie’s line] “We”?

MINNIE: —so we’re naturally going to try to get to the bottom of things. Wouldn’t it be easier on you to tell us now what’s really going on rather than waiting for us to dig it all up ourselves?

EMMA: I have to think.

MINNIE: Think away.

SFX: Drinks pouring.

SFX Clinking ice.

EMMA: I…I’m not sure where to start.

PAL: First thing’s first: you’ve heard that sound before. And seen the lights or whatever they are.

EMMA: Yes.

PAL: Tell me.

EMMA: The first time was in New Mexico. We were on the way to the new lab here in Phoenix and had stopped for a few nights to meet with another laboratory team in the area and help them catalog a site.

PAL: Who’s we?

EMMA: The research team—Allan, Harry, Katrina and I.

PAL: Not Major Holloway.

EMMA: He was already on base, setting up the lab.

PAL: And what happened?

EMMA: We were at the Los Alamos lab, visiting with a friend of Harry’s, and Allan suggested we camp for the night, since we had all the gear and the skies were clear as glass. He has an eye for the stars.

PAL: All right.

EMMA: Katrina didn’t want to stay out in the cold, but she ate with us at least. We were roasting up some marshmallows with it happened. Lights and sounds from all around us. It matched up closely with what the reports had been from the pilots in Tennessee.

MINNIE: Want a cigarette?

EMMA: I only smoke Joyces.

MINNIE: Naturally.

SFX: lighter

EMMA: [takes a long inhale/exhale] I needed that. All right.

MINNIE What can you tell us about the research team? Any of ‘em got a dark past riddled with kidnappings, for example?

EMMA (gentle laugh)

MFX Begin monologue underscoring.

PAL MV: Oh, Minnie. The worst best secretary in the business—or do I mean best-worst? Kid showed up at my door, 19 years old, with a face like a wildcat and an attitude to match and didn’t take “I’m not looking for an assistant,” for an answer. She never stops working, and she never stops hassling me, but she’s got…what do they call it?…Moxie. Spunk. Panache. Pain in the ass. Like a kid sister I have to pay every other Friday.

MFX End monologue underscoring.

EMMA: I met Allan and Harry Ji at Harvard. There were only three women in astronomy; I was one of them. Just like Harry and Allan, I didn’t…belong at Harvard. I fell in with the two of them. We were friends. Eventually, Allan and I got married. When the Air Force came calling, we all joined together.

PAL: Came calling? I thought the good doctor joined up in a fit of patriotism.

EMMA: He agreed to sign up out of patriotism, but the Air Force recruited him…us… Our specialty involves astral phenomena; I primarily research black holes. Harry and Allan had a focus on near-Earth objects or NEOs, and the Air Force was interested in understanding what they call close space.

PAL: That a scientific term?

EMMA: It’s what the airmen called it. We were put on a research track with Edgar to study a series of phenomena in Tennessee. Pilots at the base there kept encountering…things.

PAL: What kind of things?

EMMA: We don’t know.

PAL: The airmen didn’t tell you?

EMMA: The airmen were dead. Four men, all radioed down from test flights that they’d encountered an unknown object moving incredibly fast through lower Earth orbit. They all described a similar object—bright lights, large shapes, moving at an impossible speed. There were bits and pieces of their transmissions recorded. Each of them crashed.

PAL: (long low whistle) And you star scientists investigated?

EMMA: The Air Force thought that there could be one of two explanations: either some kind of astral object was interfering, or a new weapon was being developed and tested. They wanted us to discover whether the shapes were natural or enemy technology.

PAL: And what did you find?

EMMA: Nothing. There was nothing. Not even evidence that anything out of the ordinary had occurred. The planes all crashed in the same area, but there was nothing to indicate what caused them to go down—no damage to the planes, no injuries to the pilots, nothing. The four pilots were all dead of no apparent cause. No one else saw anything—at least no one who came forward. And there was no trace of any kind of accident or attack. No records or instrument readings to indicate that something had happened. It was as though four men in good health and head had just gone mad and fallen out of the sky.

PAL: Not lightning or anything? It couldn’t have been some kind of mass hallucination?

EMMA: The men died on different days, Mr. Vargas; their distress calls came from different places.

PAL: But there was just one crash site?

EMMA: Yes. [a beat] The Air Force wasn’t particularly glad of the findings. Ambiguity isn’t an easy sell in the military.

PAL: Don’t I know it.

EMMA: We were given added security and ordered out to the base here in Phoenix. Allan persuaded the Air Force that the negative results were actually a sign that something bigger and more dangerous was at hand than an errant weather balloon or a freak storm. He wanted to come to the desert for the clear skies and do some observations.

PAL: And that’s what the night experiments were?

EMMA: Yes. I had noticed in going over our research that there were a few unusual spikes in atmospheric pressure the days before each crash. Nothing on the day of—nothing that would have affected the pilots at the moment they—

SFX Fast footsteps

SFX Door opens

MINNIE: Mr. Vargas, there’s two men in uniforms coming up the hall. What should I do?

EMMA: (quiet, unsurprised) Damn it.

PAL: Don’t worry. Minnie, give ‘em the treatment.

MINNIE: Ooh, with pleasure!

PAL Mrs. Blaise, come with me.

MFX: Transition music.


SFX: Door opens

SFX bell jingles

JIM: Welcome to Jimmy’s Diner, how can I —oh, hey, Pal, how’s business?

PAL: Running fine and dandy, Jim.

JIM: And what brings you into my place this time of night?

PAL: My lady friend and I were out for a bit of fresh air when we felt a hankering for some grub.

JIM: Evening.

EMMA: Good evening.

JIM: Say, Pal, would this be the kind of fresh air that would necessitate a table in the back away from the windows?

PAL: You’re a regular mind-reader, Jimmy old friend.

JIM: And I assume as well this is the kind of fresh air to whom you ain’t home if they come calling?

PAL: You’ve got it exactly.

JIM: Well, all right then, Pal and Miss Mystery, come on back.

SFX: Footsteps of 3 people

SFX door opens

JIM: What can I bring ya, hungry travelers?

PAL: Plate of your finest.

EMMA: Double whiskey. And a cigarette.

JIM [impressed] Well, all right.

PAL: She smokes Joyces.

JIM: Classy lady like her? I wouldn’ta guessed otherwise. It won’t be a minute.

SFX: Door closes.

PAL: All right; where were we?

EMMA: Here.

SFX Soft thud


PAL: [low whistle] Well that is something.

MFX Begin monologue underscoring.

PAL MV: If you’ve ever been alone in the back room of a greasy spoon diner with a beautiful woman who’s begging for your help, and she’s reached into her coat to pull out a file of censored Air Force reports, you’d know how I’m feeling. These papers are fire—you can tell because they’re covered in more black bars than a jailhouse jumpsuit. What ain’t censored is tantalizing; what’s under all that ink must be a damn bombshell.

MFX End monologue underscoring.

PAL: You have any idea about what’s hidden under these censor marks?

EMMA: Some of it.

SFX [under EMMA’s next line] Papers shuffling.

EMMA: This is the key here—I mean, I think. I’m sure.

SFX Two taps on wood

PAL: A map?

EMMA: Each of these marks indicates an unidentified contact point. If you add in the dates of each event…

PAL: Whatever it is took Horace Greeley’s advice to heart.

EMMA: Right. They’re going west.

PAL: What are these notations?

EMMA: Civilian sightings. The USAF doesn’t put too much stock in what farmers and accountants report, but after Asheville, they started plotting civilian reports alongside official ones.

PAL: Asheville?

EMMA: Sorry. Before the Tennessee pilots, there was another sighting, in Asheville, NC. One that made the Air Force sit up and take notice. There had always been reports of things—unusual formations, strange lights, that sort of thing—but this time, the pilot in question was well-respected, important. And his report was extremely specific about what he’d seen. Intense, fluid light forms and cacophonous sound. He insisted that the Air Force try to investigate what he’d seen and launched Project Sign.

PAL: Geeze, these names. That was before Blaise came on board?

EMMA: Correct. We joined after the Tennessee deaths.

PAL: There are over forty points on this map. You’ve investigated all of them?

EMMA: The Air Force has. Our team is focused more on trying to understand and predict the events. We aren’t on the investigatory side of things.

PAL: Because you didn’t solve Tennessee?

EMMA: Because we’re scientists, not detectives.

PAL: Too bad the Air Force didn’t come to me, then.

EMMA: I think that was scrupulously intentional.

PAL: It’ll take me time to look through what’s here. I speak censor-bar pretty fluently; I’ll probably be able to get some of the information they think they’ve eradicated with their little black highlighters, but I want more information about the immediate situation. When Allan disappeared, was anyone with him? Dr. Ji or Maj. Holloway?

EMMA: Just the Major. Harry was in the hospital; a couple of street toughs had jumped him outside a soda shop. Thought he was Japanese and had some left over aggression to let out from the war. Beat his head in and kicked him all to hell. [pause, then quietly] Bastards.

PAL: He okay?

EMMA: He’s healing. Allan was furious—we were all furious. He went for a drive in the desert to clear his head while Holloway went to the General to…I don’t know what his plan was, exactly. I think he just needed to yell at someone and he likes the risk of shouting it out with his superiors. He’s enamored of adrenaline.

PAL: Good trait in a pilot.

EMMA: He’s a good man.

PAL: So there was a shake up, then your husband and Major Holloway went out again, business as usual?

EMMA: I wouldn’t say business as usual, but they went out to the monitoring station as scheduled.

PAL: Did anyone go out to the experiment place to see what had happened?

EMMA: An investigation team went, I think, but I don’t know what they found or whether they were really looking for anything. When Edgar and I went back later, there was nothing but tent pegs and the remnants of the campfire.

PAL: So they went to clean up?

EMMA: I think so.

SFX: Muffled voices.

PAL: Well, there they are.

EMMA: Are we safe?

PAL: Jimmy’s a good guy, but airmen can be intimidating. Give me those papers.

SFX: Papers shuffling,

SFX metal clanking.

PAL: That’ll keep it safe. It’ll be here when we get back. Who’s going to look for state secrets under a bundle of greasy cookie sheets?

EMMA: Where are we going?

PAL: Into the desert.

EMMA: There’s nothing to see out there. And the only door goes right out to those men.

PAL: Let me take care of that. Besides, I think I’d like to have a word with the General.

EMMA: Are you sure that’s wise?

PAL: I seem like a wise guy?


[laughs genuinely]

PAL: Yeah, that’s what I thought. Look, I know a little something about how the military works. I don’t expect the general to tell me much, but I think I can still figure out a few things if I get him at my disadvantage, as it were.

MFX Begin monologue underscoring.

PAL MV: She’s got a great laugh… In the Army, there weren’t a lot of spaces for somebody like me—that is, there weren’t a lot of official spaces. But I’ve always been the type to make myself at home, even if I had to make up that space out of nothing first. I always been good at solving puzzles, at listening to people when they’re talking and to hearing what it is they’re trying not to say. That’s currency in a war, knowing how to listen and how to hear, and knowing that the listening and the hearing ain’t the same.

Being a detective is the same story—listen and hear, hear and listen. Everybody lies. Everybody thinks they’re a storyteller, but if you listen and hear and pay attention real close, you can hear the seams and figure out how the piece is sewn up. Different stories use different paths—a man might lie like tatted lace; a woman might lie like knitwork, and an army man? A general? He’s gonna lie like canvas: a tight, even, strategic cloth cut on straight lines and hemmed in official jargon. I speak jargon as well as I speak censor bar and if I look this general in the face, I know what I’m going to see: a granite-carved edifice of doublespeak. Once I get it down, I can get to unravelling.

MFX End monologue underscoring.

PAL: Mrs. Blaise, if you’d be so kind to accompany me…?

EMMA: Wait.

MFX: Saxophone sting as EMMA kisses PAL

PAL: Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting.

EMMA: Never been kissed by a grateful client?

PAL: Not like that.

EMMA: Well, let’s go. I’m ready now.

SFX: Door opening.

PAL: (to herself) I’m not. Whew.

SFX: Door closing.

PAL: Good evening. If you’d be so kind as to step away from my friend Jimmy.

MAN IN SUIT: Are you Detective Pal Vargas?

PAL: That’s right. And you must be the g-men sent to track down Mrs. Blaise here.

MAN IN SUIT: We’re here to escort Mrs. Blaise back to base. Don’t cause any problems.

PAL: Didn’t think I was the one causing them. You okay, Jimmy?

JIM: This guy and his fancy suit ain’t nothing I couldn’ta handled, Pal.

PAL: Didn’t want to lose that favor you owe me over this.

JIM: Consider it still owed.

EMMA: Who are you?

MAN IN SUIT: That’s not important, ma’am.

EMMA: It is if you want me to go with you. I don’t recognize you from base and you’re not in uniforms.

SFX: A low droning hum starts in the background. It continues and grows through the next lines.

MAN IN SUIT: Just come along.

EMMA: Not a chance.

PAL: The lady’s not going anywhere til we know who you are. Maybe not even then, if we don’t like the answer.

MAN IN SUIT: I’ve been given authority to transport Mrs. Blaise back to base. If you cause problems, Mr. Vargas, you will be removed.

PAL: Removed, huh? That’s a nice euphemism.

MAN IN SUIT: The United States government isn’t interested in murdering a third-rate private detective in a second-rate all night diner. You’ll be removed by my associates to another location. Alive. You’re a tiny little fish, Mr. Vargas; big fish aren’t going to bother eating you.

MFX Begin monologue underscoring.

PAL MV: I guess this guy’s never heard of filter feeders, no matter how much he looks like one. But still, I’d rather see an entire battalion of airmen than one fancy hombre in a pristine black suit. I don’t doubt for a minute he’d kill me without a thought if he felt like it.

We’re trained from kids to be in awe of a uniform. We see our GI Joe’s and toy soldiers march around the world under a flag, but the most dangerous men ain’t the boys in green…it’s the men in suits who move quiet as panthers through the night. Men with eyes that open onto darkness. Men who carry secrets and knives. Whatever Emma’s got herself into—whatever that poor bastard Allan got into—it’s big. Somebody important has a serious interest.

MFX End monologue underscoring.

PAL: All right, buddy. How about this: you give us a name, and we go with you—we, together, the both of us, got it?

MAN IN SUIT: We aren’t friends, Mr. Vargas, and I’m not one to make deals with back alley dicks.

PAL: Sure?

MAN IN SUIT: Mrs. Blaise and I are going to the base.

EMMA: If General Hillibrand wants to see me, all he has to do is ask. Personally. I don’t go out into the night with strange men.

MAN IN SUIT: And yet, here you are, a married woman sneaking out of back room with a notorious womanizer.

PAL: Notorious? Ain’t been called notorious before. I think our friend here is making things up.

JIM: Eh, you do have a hint of a reputation, Pal.

EMMA: One I assume you’ve earned. Sir, my reputation is impeccable, and even if it weren’t, I wouldn’t give a damn about it right now. My husband is missing. I’ve been stonewalled at every point by the Air Force, ignored by the General when I asked for his help, and apparently followed by some empty suit with a briefcase full of threats and a haircut so full of grease I can see my reflection. You think I’m intimidated by you? You are a crumb.

PAL MV: Damn.

EMMA: Like I said: if the general wants to speak with me, he can come to me personally. I’ll be right here, smoking a cigarette, waiting for him.

SFX The droning noise cuts out suddenly.

SFX: Lighter

EMMA: [inhale and exhale of the cigarette] Jimmy?

JIM: Yes?

EMMA: Another drink, please. Mr. Vargas, will you see our friends here out?

PAL: With pleasure.

MAN IN SUIT: Mrs. Blaise, you’re making a mistake.

EMMA: I don’t think I am. But I don’t much care either way.

SFX: Door bell jangling, door closes.

PAL: Now what?

EMMA: We wait.

MFX: Outro music

ANNOUNCER: What’s happening to Detective Pal Vargas and what does the mysterious Mrs. Blaise know about it? What are the strange lights dancing through streets of Phoenix? Join us next time on the Joyce Cigarette Radio Hour to hear the further adventures of Pal Vargas and the Phoenix Lights.