Soul (2020) – Transcript

A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.
Soul (2020)

Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher, has long dreamed of performing jazz music onstage, and finally gets a chance after impressing other jazz musicians during an opening act at the Half Note Club. However, an untimely accident causes Gardner’s soul to be separated from his body and begin to proceed to the Great Beyond, and Gardner manages to escape to the Great Before, a world where souls develop personalities, quirks, and traits before being sent off to Earth. There, Gardner must work with souls in training at the Great Before, such as 22, a soul with a dim view on the concept of life, in order to return to Earth before his body dies.

 

 

(DISCORDANT JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

(MUSIC ENDS)

JOE: All right, let’s try somethin’ else.

(INSTRUMENTS PLAYING DISCORDANTLY)

(STICK TAPPING)

(MUSIC STOPS)

Uh, from the top. Ready. One, two, three.

(STUDENTS PLAYING INTRO DISCORDANTLY)

(BEAT PICKING UP)

(RHYTHMICALLY) One, two, three, four. Stay on the beat.

(PLAYING JAZZ MUSIC)

Two, three, four.

That’s C-sharp, horns.

(BLOWING SHARPLY)

Two, three… I see you, Caleb.

Rachel, now you.

Forgot my sax, Mr. G.

Okay, she forgot her sax. And now, all you, Connie. Go for it!

(PLAYING IMPROVISED SOLO)

BOY: Way to go!

(STUDENTS GIGGLING)

(CONNIE SIGHS)

Hang on, hang on. What are y’all laughing at? So Connie got a little lost in it. That’s a good thing. Look, I remember one time my dad took me to this jazz club, and that’s the last place I wanted to be. But then I see this guy, and he’s playing these chords with fourths on it, and then with the minor…

(MINOR KEYS PLAY)

Oh, oh, whoo. Then he adds the inner voices, and it’s like he’s… It’s like he’s singing. And I swear, the next thing I know…

(PLAYS CASCADING NOTES)

…it’s like he floats off the stage.

(PLAYING MELODIOUS TRILLING NOTES)

That guy was lost in the music. He was in it, and he took the rest of us with him.

(CONTINUES PLAYING MELODIOUS TRILLING NOTES)

And I wanted to learn…

(PLAYING CHORDS)

…how to talk like that. That’s when I knew… I was born to play.

(PLAYS ASCENDING SCALE)

Connie knows what I mean. Right, Connie?

I’m 12.

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

I’ll be right back. Practice your scales.

Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Gardner.

(INSTRUMENTS PLAYING DISCORDANTLY)

(CHUCKLES) You’re doing my ears a favor.

Hey!

Not you, though, you’re good.

(WHISPERS) He’s not.

(CHUCKLES)

What can I do for you, Principal Arroyo?

I wanted to deliver the good news personally. No more part-time for you. You’re now our full-time band teacher.

(GROANS SOFTLY)

Job security. Medical insurance. Pension.

Wow. That’s, uh, great.

Welcome to the M.S. 70 family, Joe. Permanently.

(CHUCKLES) Thanks.

(INSTRUMENTS CONTINUE PLAYING DISCORDANTLY)


LIBBA: After all these years, my prayers have been answered. A full-time job.

Working man, coming through.

Yeah, Mom, but I…

You’re going to tell them yes, right?

Don’t worry, Mom, I got a plan.

You always got a plan. Maybe you need to have a backup plan, too, for when your plan falls through.

(WOMAN GROANING)

A backup plan never hurts.

(JOE SIGHS)

Joey, we didn’t struggle giving you an education so you could be a middle-aged man washing your underwear in my shop.

Walking around with a hole in his pants.

Yeah, but…

With this job, you’ll be able to put that dead-end gigging behind you. And Lord knows we need more teachers in this world. And just think, playing music will finally be your real career. So you’re going to tell them yes, right?

Please say yes.

Yeah, definitely.

LIBBA: Good.

(JOE SIGHS)

(JAZZ MUSIC RINGTONE PLAYING)

Hello?

How you been, Mr. G? Uh, it’s Curley. Lamont. Lamont Baker.

Hey, Curley! Hey, good to hear your voice, man.

Uh… Listen. You can call me Joe now, Curley. I’m not your teacher anymore.

CURLEY: Oh, okay, Mr. Gardner. Hey, look, I’m the new drummer in the Dorothea Williams Quartet, and we’re kickin’ off our tour with a show at The Half Note tonight.

Dorothea Williams! Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Congratulations, man. Wow! I would die a happy man if I could perform with Dorothea Williams.

CURLEY: Oh, well, this could be your lucky day.


(UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

(TIRES SCREECH)

(CAR HORN BLARES)

(SAXOPHONE PLAYING)

CURLEY: Whew, there he is.

Hey, Curley.

Leon skipping town really put us in a bind, man.

Yeah. Uh, I’ll bet.

I’m glad you made it. My boy, Bishop, said he sat in with you on a set last year in Brooklyn. Said you were great.

(CHUCKLES) Well, you know, for a coffee shop.

(SAXOPHONE PLAYING IMPROVISED SOLO)

CURLEY: Hey, Dorothea. This is the cat I was telling you about. My old middle school band teacher, Mr. Gardner.

Call me Joe, Dorothea. Uh… Uh, I mean, Miss Williams. It’s a pleasure. Wow. This is amazing.

CURLEY: Uh, Joe is Ray Gardner’s son.

So, we’re down to middle school band teachers now. Get on up here, Teach, we ain’t got all day.

(BAND PLAYS COOL JAZZ MUSIC)

What… What are we playin’?

(HITS NOTE ON PIANO)

(BAND CONTINUES PLAYING)

(PLAYS CORRESPONDING NOTES HALTINGLY)

(PLAYING CORRESPONDING CHORDS)

(PLAYING IMPROVISED NOTES)

(PLAYING MELODIOUS TRILLING NOTES)

(CONTINUES PLAYING IMPROVISED TRILLING NOTES)

(MUSIC ENDS)

Uh, sorry. I zoned out a little back there. (CHUCKLES)

Joe Gardner, where have you been?

I’ve been, uh, teaching, middle school band. Uh, but on the weekends, I…

You got a suit?

Uh…

Get a suit, Teach. A good suit. Back here tonight. First show’s at 9:00. Soundcheck’s at 7:00. We’ll see how you do.


Yes! Whoo-hoo! You see that, Dad? That’s what I’m talking about! Hey, look up, look up. You know what that’s gonna say? Joe Gardner!

(JOE LAUGHS)

You’re never gonna believe what just happened. I did it. I got the gig. Yes! I… I know. Dorothea Williams! Can you believe it?

Hey, pal, you’re gonna get hurt!

Just don’t tell my mom about this. Okay? Forget class. I’m in a different class. I’m in a Dorothea Williams class, buddy. You know what I’m saying? I’m…

(BARKS)

Whoa! Sorry!

(HORN BLARES)

(GASPS)

(SIGHS IN RELIEF)

(SCREAMS)

(GRUNTS)

(SOMBER ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYS)

What the…

(ECHOING) Hello?

Hello?

(SOMBER ETHEREAL MUSIC CONTINUES)

What the…

(WHIMPERS)

Hey! Hey, hey, hey! Hello!

(SIGHS) Hello.

Oh, what’s your name, honey?

Uh, I’m Joe. Joe Gardner. Look, I’m not supposed to be here.

Ah. Must have been sudden for you. You see, Joe, I’m 106 years old. Been waiting a long time for this.

For what?

The Great Beyond.

JOE: The Great Beyond? As in, as in beyond life?

Yeah.

That’s death right there?

(SPEAKING INUKTITUT)

This beats my dream about the walrus.

(IN ENGLISH) Exciting, isn’t it?

No, no, no, listen. I have a gig tonight. I can’t die now.

MALE SOUL: (CHUCKLES) Well, I really don’t think you have a lot to say about this.

Yes. Yes, I do. I’m not dying the very day I got my shot. I’m due. Heck, I’m overdue. Uh-uh, uh-uh. I’m outta here.

I don’t think you’re supposed to go that way.

This can’t happen. I’m not dyin’ today. Not when my life just started.

(CRACKLES)

What was that? Wait. I’m not finished. I gotta get back. I don’t wanna die! I’m not done. I’m not done. Run! Why aren’t you running?

I don’t know.

What’s wrong with you people?

MALE SOUL: I don’t know.

(JOE PANTING)

(FEMALE SOUL SPEAKING KOREAN)

Where are my pants?

JOE: (IN ENGLISH) I’m not done. (GRUNTING)

Ahh!

(CRACKLING CONTINUES)

(GASPS) Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Excuse me.

(PANTING)

Help! I’m not done. I gotta get back. Oh, my… Oh, my goodness.

(SCREAMING)

(CELESTIAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(MUFFLED CHATTERING)

(LAUGHTER)

(JOE GASPS)

(JOE GASPS)

(NEW SOUL GIGGLES)

(NEW SOULS GIGGLING)

What?

(CRUNCHES)

Ow!


Now, now, everyone, let’s give the mentor some room. Sorry, new souls. 37, that’s enough. Hey, everyone, look here. (SING-SONG) Quiet coyote. Shh. Quiet coyote.

Who… Who are you?

I am the coming together of all quantized fields of the universe. Appearing in a form your feeble human brain can comprehend.

What?

You can call me Jerry.

Jerry, okay. Uh, hey, is this heaven?

(LAUGHS) No.

Is it H-E-double hockey sticks?

NEW SOUL: Hell. NEW

SOULS: Hell, hell, hell.

Shh. Quiet coyote.

NEW SOUL: Hell.

It’s easy to get turned around. This isn’t the Great Beyond. It’s the Great Before.

The Great Before?

Oh. We call it the You Seminar now. Rebranding.

(NEW SOULS CHATTERING EXCITEDLY)

NEW SOUL 1: Hell.

NEW SOUL 2: No, no. You’re here!

(ALL GIGGLING)

Does this mean I’m dead?

Not yet. Your body’s in a holding pattern. It’s complicated. I’ll get you back to your group.

(GASPS)

(JOE WHIMPERS)

Come on, little souls, get on up here. Welcome to the You Seminar. You are in for a treat.


(CLICKING)

Mm, that’s weird.

What is it?

The count’s off.

Excuse me?

There’s a soul missing. The count’s off.

Huh.


Okay, first stop is the Excitable Pavilion. You four. In you go.

(WHIRRING)

(ALL LAUGHING EXCITEDLY)

You five, you’ll be aloof. And you two, why not?

Oh, wait a minute. This is where personalities come from?

Of course. Do you think people are just born with them?

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

So, uh, how do they get to Earth, then?

Well, they use the Earth portal. Once they get a complete personality, of course. Hello? Hello?

(UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYING)

NEW SOUL: Goodbye.

NEW SOUL 2: Whee!

Whoo-hoo!

(JOE LAUGHS EXCITEDLY)

(WHOOSHING)

(YELPS) Wait, wait, wait.

(EXCITED CHATTER)

(NEW SOULS WHOOPING)

(JOE SIGHS)

(COUNSELOR JERRY A CHUCKLES)

You sure get lost a lot.

COUNSELOR JERRY D: All righty, mentors.

Just find your name here…

Hello, Jerry…

COUNSELOR JERRY D: …and join us inside.

…got a lost mentor for you.

Thanks, Jerry.

Uh, look, I’m not sure I’m supposed to be here.

I understand. Mentoring isn’t for everyone. You’re more than welcome to opt out.

(GASPS) Actually, on second thought, you know, the mentoring sounds like fun.

I’m glad to hear it. Jerry will take it from here.

Thanks, Jerry. Head right on over there to Jerry.

Thank you, Jerry.

JOE: Is everyone here named Jerry?

Good luck!

Jerry, we’ve got a problem.

Oh, hello, there, Terry.

The count’s off.

(CHUCKLES) I seriously doubt that. The count hasn’t been off in centuries.

151,000 souls go into the Great Beyond every day. That’s 105.2 souls per minute, Jerry. 1.75 souls per second. And I count every single one of ’em.

Yep. I’m aware.

It’s my job to keep track of this stuff, Jerry. I’m the accountant.

And we all think you’re doing a wonderful job, don’t we, everyone?

Absolutely.

Looks good from where this guy’s standing.

COUNSELOR JERRY E: I’d say no.

I’m always counting. I’m counting right now. You blinked five times since I started talking. Six.

Right. Since accounting is your job, why don’t you figure out the problem?

Maybe I will.

Wonderful.

(SNAPS FINGERS)

(NEW SOULS LAUGHING)

Hello again, Terry.

Don’t play dumb with me. Okay, here we go.

(KNUCKLES CRACK)

“A.”


(UPBEAT SOUL MUSIC PLAYING)

Hello, there, mentors. I’m Jerry, a counselor here at the You Seminar. Now you don’t remember it, but you’ve been here before. But don’t worry, forgetting the trauma of childbirth is one of the great gifts of the universe. Here at the You Seminar, all new souls are given unique and individual personalities.

I’m an agreeable skeptic who’s cautious yet flamboyant.

I’m an irritable wallflower who’s dangerously curious.

I’m a manipulative megalomaniac who’s intensely opportunistic.

Oh-ho, this one might be a handful. But that’s Earth’s problem. You’ll notice these souls are all missing something. What goes in this spot? Well, these souls need their “spark.” And that’s where you come in. Maybe you will find their spark in the Hall of Everything, where literally anything on Earth could inspire. Or perhaps you’ll prefer the Hall of You, featuring a selection of moments from your own inspiring life. And just what is this spark?

(PLAYS UPBEAT TUNE)

(JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

(CHUCKLES)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I know you’re all excited to get to work, so good luck finding the spark.

(APPLAUSE)

Find the spark.

Wow, that was informative. Now, it’s time for my favorite part of the program, matching you mentors with your soul mates. Our first mentor is Maria Martinez.

(APPLAUSE)

Maria, come on down. Maria was a rare disease specialist from the University of Mexico.

I’m cured. I’m cured. (LAUGHS)

She’ll be matched with one of my favorites, soul number 108,210,121,415.

(APPLAUSE)

Congratulations! Off you go. Our next mentor is Bjorn T. Börgensson.

(APPLAUSE)

Dr. Börgensson is a world-renowned child psychologist who was recently awarded a Nobel Prize.

I see pain, death, destruction.

How about now?

A pretty butterfly.

(ALL GASP)

Dr. Börgensson will be matched with soul number 22. Oh, we’re gonna get into this now. Excuse me.

22, you come out of this dimension right now.

22: (GRUNTS) How many times do I have to tell you?

(OBJECTS CLATTERING)

I don’t wanna go to Earth.

Stop fighting this, 22.

22: I don’t wanna.

COUNSELOR JERRY B: You will go to Earth and have a life.

22: Make me!

22 has been at the You Seminar for quite some time and has had such notable mentors as Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Mother Teresa.

(LAUGHS) I made her cry.

COUNSELOR JERRY B: Ignore that.

22: Put me down.

We’re truly glad to have you here, Dr. Börgensson.

(GRUNTS)

(22 WHIMPERS)

It is an honor having you prepare 22 for Earth.

I’m gonna make you wish you never died.

Most people wish that, 22.

(22 CHUCKLES)

Off you go. Bye!


(JOE GRUNTS)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

Where are we?

BJORN: That’s great progress.

You should be very proud. Step by step.

In celebration of Dr. Börgensson’s body of work, we are pleased to present him this honorary…

BJORN: These past few weeks, I have seen such growth.

So many people I’d like to thank, of course.

Okay, look, I’m sure your life was amazing and you did amazing things, but here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna stand here in silence for a little bit, then we go back out, you say you tried, I go back to not living my non-life and you go to the Great Beyond.

No, look.

Talk all you want, Bjorn. It’s not gonna work, anyway. I’ve had thousands of mentors who failed and now hate me. Mother Teresa…

I have compassion for every soul. Except you. I don’t like you.

Copernicus…

The world doesn’t revolve around you, 22.

Muhammad Ali…

You are the greatest pain in the butt.

Marie Antoinette…

Nobody can help you! Nobody!

Thanks, but no thanks, Doc. I already know everything about Earth, and it’s not worth the trouble.

Come on, don’t you want to fill out your pass?

(SIGHS) You know, I’m comfortable up here. I have my routine. I float in mist, I do my Sudoku puzzles, and then, like, once a week, they make me come to one of these You Seminars. It’s not great, but I know what to expect.

Look, kid, I’m not… Can I just be honest with you? I’m not Bjorn Borgenstein or whatever his name is. I’m not even a mentor.

Not a mentor? Ah… (LAUGHING) Reverse psychology. You really are a good shrink, Doctor. Carl Jung already tried that.

Stop talking! My unconscious mind hates you!

(GRUNTS FRUSTRATEDLY) Is there any way to show a different life in this place?

(MUSIC PLAYING FAINTLY)

Wait. You’re really not Bjorn Börgensson?

It’s my life.

Um, excuse me, what’s going on here? Binaca breath spray? Cheap cologne?

Man, who curated this exhibit?

(CHUCKLES) You did.

(RAPPING ON TV) ♪ I go to Harlem, it’s no problems

JOE: Oh, my goodness. It’s Cedric’s rap group. No!

♪ Now everybody bow down To the Kings of Queens ♪

No, don’t look at that stuff. Let’s look over here.

YOUNG JOE: Dad, I don’t wanna go. I don’t like jazz.

Black improvisational music. It’s one of our great contributions to American culture. At least give it a chance, Joey.

(JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

This is where it all started. This is the moment where I fell in love with jazz. Listen to that. See, the tune is just an excuse to bring out the you. And that’s why I became a jazz musician.

WOMAN: It’s not what we’re looking for.

Wait a minute, that’s not how I remember it going down.

Come back when you have something.

Sorry, Joe.

Sorry, Joe.

MAN: We’re looking for something different.

Two, three, four.

(INSTRUMENTS PLAYING DISCORDANTLY)

(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

My life was meaningless.

(EKG BEEPING)

No, no, no. No, I will not accept this. Kid, give me that badge. I’m goin’ back to my body.

Oh, yeah, sure. Here. Unless it becomes an Earth Pass, I’m stuck with it.

(JOE SIGHS)

Well, what if I help you turn it into an Earth Pass? Will you give it to me then?

Wait… I’ve never thought of that. I’d get to skip life. So, yes! But we gotta get this thing to change first, and I’ve never been able to get it to change.

Come on. I know all about sparks. Because mine is piano.

(PLAYING TRILLING NOTES)

Really? Nothin’ at all?

22: Eh. Oh, no, not jazz, just music. I don’t like music sounds. It feels like a little too much.

(SIGHS) Well, I’m not going out like this. Where’s that, uh, Hall of Everything?


(NEW SOULS LAUGHING)

JOE: (CHUCKLES) I’ll be right back.

22: Don’t get ahead of yourself, pal.

By the way, why do you sound like a middle-aged white lady?

I don’t.

This is all an illusion.

Huh?

This whole place is a hypothetical.

(IN MALE VOICE) I could sound like this if I wanted to.

(IN KID’S VOICE) Or sound like this instead.

(IN NORMAL VOICE) I could even sound like you.

(IN JOE’S VOICE) Life is so unfair.

I don’t wanna die. Somebody call the wambulance. Wah!

(IN NORMAL VOICE) I just use this voice because it annoys people.

It’s very effective.

(NEW SOULS LAUGHING AND CHEERING)

(JOE GASPS)

Don’t worry, they’re fine.

(ALL GIGGLING)

You can’t crush a soul here.

That’s what life on Earth is for.

JOE: (SCOFFS) Very witty.

Okay. Here we are.

This is the Hall of Everything.

JOE: Whoa!

(CAMERA CLICKS)

Yes!

Whoa.

Congratulations!

So, where do you want to start?

Come on.

Croissants, cakes. Baking could be your spark.

Yeah! But, um, I don’t get it.

Just smell it.

Can’t, and neither can you.

What?

You’re right. I can’t smell.

We can’t… We can’t taste, either?

All that stuff is in your body.

No smell, no taste.

Or touch. See?

Okay, I get it. Moving on.

Isn’t this exciting?

The fire is so pretty.

I kinda wanna let it spread.

Nope.

Hands are hard.

How about a librarian? They’re cool.

Yes, amazing.

Who wouldn’t like working at a thankless job you’re always in danger of losing due to budget cuts?

Though I do like the idea of randomly shushing people.

Look, obviously this…

Shh!

Oh, yeah, that’s good.

Meh.

Meh.

Meh.

Meh.

(JOE SIGHING)

JOE: Well, I think that’s everything.

22: Sorry.

You told me you’d try.

I did. I’m telling the truth.

If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s a liar.

Unlike Abraham Lincoln.

You’re really okay being on a penny?

Well, of course. It’s an honor.

Okay, but they put Andrew Jackson on the 20.

Jackson!

What can I say, Joe? Earth is boring.

Well, what else can we do, then?

Because we’re running out of time.

Yeah, you know, time’s not really a thing here.

(ELECTRONIC CHIMES)

COUNSELOR JERRY B: Time’s up!

Nice try, Bjorn, but no need to feel bad.

22 here can be a bit of a challenge.

Even though I can’t feel it, please don’t touch me.

So, let’s get you to the Great Beyond.

(JOE GASPS)

Um, wait. We forgot to try breakdancer.

Yeah! I think that’s gonna be my thing.

Poppin’ and lockin’. Windmills.

Settling my disputes with dance.

Can we have one more minute to go back and try breakdancer?

Please, Jerry?

You look really good today, Jerry.

Oh, okay. I’ve never seen 22 this enthused.

Good for you, Dr. Börgensson.

22: Run.

In here.

22: Here it is.

Where does it lead?

Hey, you ask too many questions.

How about you zip it for a minute, m’kay?

And we’re going there why?

‘Cause I know a guy there.

A guy who can help. A guy like you.

Like me? As in, alive?

Wait, are you actually helping me?

Joe, I have been here for who knows how long, and I’ve never seen anything that’s made me want to live.

And then, you come along. Your life is sad and pathetic.

And you’re working so hard to get back to it.

Why? I mean, this I gotta see.

Okay, let’s go.

(ORCHESTRAL MUSIC PLAYING)

What is this place?

You know how when you humans are really into something and it feels like you’re in another place?

Feels like you’re in the zone, right?

JOE: Yeah.

Well, this is the zone.

It’s the space between the physical and spiritual.

Wait a minute. I was here. Today, doing my audition.

This must be where musicians come when they get into a flow.

Not just musicians. Watch this.

O, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou…

Line!

(MACHINE WHIRRING)

Oops.

Check this out.

I have been messing with this team for decades.

ANNOUNCER: And the Knicks lose another one.

All right. All right. Where’s this guy you know?

I gotta get back to my gig.

Okay. I mean, he’s usually down here.

What the…

CREATURE: (IN DEEP VOICE) Make a trade.

Make a trade. Make a trade.

What is that?

Shh!

(JOE YELPS)

Make a trade. Make a trade.

22: Run!

CREATURE: Make a trade, make a trade, make a trade!

(JOE WHIMPERING)

(CREATURE GRUNTING)

(BELL CLANGS)

(FOLK ROCK MUSIC PLAYING)

Oh! Ahoy there, fellow astral travelers.

Good to see you again, 22.

Moonwind, how are ya?

On the brink of madness, thanks for asking.

Hey, got a request for you.

Uh, yeah. I’m trying to get back to my body.

Can you help me?

That’s what we do.

We are the mystics without borders.

Devoted to helping the lost souls of Earth find their way.

I’m Moonwind Stardancer at your service.

That’s Windstar Dreamermoon, Dancerstar Windmoon, and that’s Dreamerwind Dreamerdreamer.

These weirdos are going to help me get back?

Just wait.

DANCERSTAR: Let’s get this lost soul back home.

CREATURE: Make a trade.

Make a trade. Make a trade.

Poor fellow.

MOONWIND: Some people just can’t let go of their own anxieties and obsessions, leaving them lost and disconnected from life.

(PLAYING FOLK MUSIC)

And this is the result.

CREATURE: Make a trade. Make a trade.

Make a trade. Make a trade.

(IN NORMAL VOICE) Make a trade?

Looks like another hedge fund manager.

Now, to reconnect to your earthly body.

HEDGE FUND MANAGER: Whoa. That’s me.

Thank you.

What am I doing with my life?

I’m alive! I’m alive! Free yourselves!

(LAUGHS) It’s beautiful!

Whoa. He got back just like that?

So this is all I had to do to get back to my body?

(GASPS)

Egads, man!

Joe, are you dead?

No, no. Well, not yet.

Can you help me get back?

We’ve never connected an untethered soul back to its body before.

But perhaps if we travel to a thin spot…

Yes! All aboard!

Anchors away!

(BELL CLANGS)

(FOLK ROCK MUSIC PLAYING)

So if your souls are here, where are your bodies?

Well, on Earth, of course.

My body is in a trance in Palawan.

I’m playing the Saraswati veena in Tibet.

I’m a shamanic healer meditating in Berkeley, California.

Mm-hmm. And let me guess, you’re drumming, chanting, and meditating?

Yes. Something like that.

(UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYING FAINTLY)

I’m in New York City, on the corner of 14th and 7th.

Oh, yeah, that’s right up from Tony Tony Tonios.

Yes, precisely.

And what about you? I thought you hated Earth.

Yeah, I’m not stuck with a body.

So I can go wherever I want.

I’m a nobody, get it?

We mystics meet in this glorious landscape every Tuesday.

(CREATURES GRUMBLING)

So many of them. Sad.

You know, lost souls are not that different from those in the zone.

What?

The zone is enjoyable, but when that joy becomes an obsession, one becomes disconnected from life.

SOUL: (DISTORTED) Gotta find it.

Gotta find it. Gotta find it.

For a time, I was a lost soul myself.

Really?

Tetris.

(FOLK ROCK MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING)

MOONWIND: There you are.

We’ll have you back in no time.

Now, since you don’t have a connection to your body, you will have to tune back into your physical surroundings.

Close your eyes.

Breathe into your crown chakra.

(FOLK MUSIC PLAYING)

Do we really need all this?

Yes!

(SIGHS)

Do you have a piano on board? I could focus with that.

No pianos, Joe. You must focus.

(WHISPERS) Imagine silence.

Shh.

Now, concentrate on where your body is.

Listen for cues.

(CAR HORNS HONKING)

That’s it. You’re doing it.

No peeking. Maintain your meditative state or you’ll break the connection.

Now, see if you can smell and feel where your body is.

(EKG BEEPING)

I hear a heart monitor.

I can smell hand sanitizer.

MOONWIND: Yes. Yes! Good.

JOE: I think I can feel my feet.

Hmm. I feel fur.

WOMAN: Did you find a next of kin?

JOE: (WEAKLY) I feel fur.

Did you hear that?

Oh, the therapy cat is working.

Am I close? When can I jump in?

Look! There I am.

There I am.

(BEEPING RAPIDLY)

His heart rate is increasing.

I’ll get the doctor.

Mr. Mittens, you stay right there.

What are we waiting for?

No, Joe, don’t rush this.

It’s not the right time.

JOE: No, it’s my time.

22: Wait, not me!

(JOE SCREAMING)

(WHISTLING JAUNTY TUNE)

(JOE AND 22 SCREAMING)

(EKG BEEPING STEADILY)

JOE: (CHUCKLES) I did it. I did it! I’m back.

(JOE LAUGHS)

What the…

No.

No. No. No.

I’m in the cat?

Wait a minute. If I’m in here, then who…

22: (GROANS) What? JOE: You’re in my body!

22: You’re in the cat?

Wait, wait, that’s my body.

22: I’m in a body! No!

Why are you in my body?

I don’t wanna be a cat. I hate cats!

22: Oh, it’s disgusting.

That Moonwind guy, he messed this up.

Doc, you gotta help me. That’s my body, but I’m trapped…

(MEOWING)

Oh, no, they can’t understand me.

They think you’re me. You gotta try.

(CLEARS THROAT) Miss Doctor, we have a problem.

(IN JOE’S VOICE) I’m an unborn soul and I wanna stay at the You Seminar.

Yes, well, that drug doesn’t seem to be working at all.

22: (IN NORMAL VOICE) No, no, no, you don’t understand.

I’m not Mr. Gardner.

JOE: Shh!

They’re gonna think you’re nuts.

I mean, that I’m nuts.

Oh, how did this happen?

I fell into your body because it doesn’t have a soul.

Then why am I in a cat?

I don’t know!

(MR. MITTENS MEOWS)

Is there anyone we can call, Mr. Gardner?

A next of kin or friend?

Tell her no.

Uh, no.

Can you tell me what day it is?

It’s the worst day of my life.

I don’t wanna be here. I hate Earth.

Tell you what. We’re going to keep you here for observation. Just for a bit.

Perhaps our therapy cat can go to his next appointment.

(SNARLS)

(GASPS) Okay. Okay.

You gotta talk to her.

(SIGHS) Okay.

Miss Doctor, this body’s soul is in this cat.

Stop talking.

So naturally, he wants to stay close.

Uh, keep the cat. Just get some rest.

A lot of it. Okay?

I’ll come get Mr. Mittens in ten minutes.

Ten minutes? We gotta get outta here.

No way! I am not moving!

I can’t believe I’m in a body on this hellish planet.

I have bendy meat sticks.

I can feel myself feeling myself. (GAGS)

Hey! Focus! Listen to me.

We gotta get out of here before they take me away.

Take you away? You’re gonna leave me?

No way! That’s my body you’re in.

Okay, do you think you can walk?

I don’t know!

I failed Body Test Drive, like, 436 times.

But will you try?

Okay. Gotta find Moonwind, he can fix this.

I’m a cat. I can make this.

(WHIMSICAL JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

Okay, come on, you’re doing great.

Keep going. Keep going.

(22 YELPS, GRUNTS)

22: I’m just gonna rest here for a minute.

No, no, no, no. They’ll be back any minute. Come on.

Okay! (GRUNTS)

(WHIMPERS)

(SHOES SQUEAKING)

(ELEVATOR BELL DINGS)

(GASPS)

In here!

(22 GRUNTS)

22: Whoa. (GROANS)

JOE: Okay, good.

Now push the down button.

(22 GRUNTS)

Move your… Nope. Careful.

Those fingers are my livelihood.

(22 GROANS)

(BUTTON CLICKS)

Ugh.

(ELEVATOR BELL DINGS)

Now get in.

22: Phew!

22: Hmm.

(JOE GRUNTING AND GASPING)

22: Hmm.

(JOE SIGHS)

Okay, what did Moonwind say?

He said on the corner of 14th and 7th.

Yeah, that’s Chelsea. Near Jackson Square Park.

Exactly. Wait. How do you know all that?

It’s all in this stupid brain of yours.

Hey, hey, hey, stay outta there.

Oh, relax. There’s not much here.

Jazz, jazz, more jazz.

Oh, and someone named Lisa. Who’s that?

Uh, never mind.

(ELEVATOR BELL DINGS)

I, um…

It’s all happening too fast, you know.

Let’s just take a minute and, um…

Come on, let’s go. They could be here any second.

(22 SIGHS)

(CAR HORNS HONKING)

(HELICOPTER WHIRRING)

(NOISY CHATTER)

(22 YELPS)

JOE: Don’t worry, it’s okay. Just keep walking.

(DRILL WHIRRING)

(BLOWING WHISTLE)

(SIREN WAILING)

(TRUCK HORN BLARES)

22: Aah!

No, don’t stop. What are you doing?

This is New York City.

You don’t stop in the middle of the street. Go, go, go.

(SCREAMS)

(JOE GROANS)

(22 GROANING)

(TIRES SCREECH)

(GASPS)

JOE: Oh, no. 22. 22!

(PANTING) 22. Oh, no. Oh, no. 22. 22.

22! 22!

22, I didn’t know I had claws, okay?

Look, I’m sorry. But come on, let’s go.

No way.

I am staying right here until your stupid body dies.

Which will happen any minute now because your stomach is earthquaking.

(JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

Yeah, this place is worse than I thought.

It’s loud, and bright, and…

(SNIFFS) Hmm. What is that in my nose?

That’s smell.

(INHALES DEEPLY)

And if you think that’s good, just imagine what it tastes like.

Hmm. (SUCKS TEETH)

Go on.

It’s so good! (SCREAMS)

It’s, uh…

It’s not horrible.

Good. You can eat on the way. Let’s go.

Or you just take a few minutes. Sure.

(SMACKING)

Hmm. Strange, I don’t feel so angry anymore.

That’s great. Ready to find Moonwind?

Maybe.

I’m telling you, Joe, it’s pronounced yee-row.

JOE: Yeah, but in New York, we call them gyros. It’s Greek.

No, I got in a fight with Archimedes about this.

He said it’s…

Yee-row.

Yo-yo.

Yee-row.

YOLO.

Yee-row.

Sergio?

Yee-row!

I miss that guy.

This is 14th and 7th.

That’s gotta be him.

(CAR HORN BEEPS)

22: Moonwind, you gotta help me.

(YELPS)

Joe! You made it into your body.

No, he didn’t.

That is my body.

You’re in a cat?

That’s marvelous!

Hey, Moonwimp!

That sign won’t spin by itself, hear me?

But, Marge, look! I put this man’s soul in a cat.

Who cares? And you!

We only have room for one weirdo here, so, scram!

Get back to work!

No one understands my art.

Moonwind, listen, I gotta get out of here and back in there.

Well, we’ll have to perform an old-fashioned astral transmigration displacement.

A what?

It’s simply a way to get your souls back where they belong.

And it’s a glorious ritual, indeed, full of chanting, dancing, and best of all, bongos.

I need to be at The Half Note by 7:00, so this needs to happen right now.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Not so fast.

You must wait for another thin spot to open between Earth and the astral plane.

And that won’t occur until Orcus moves into the house of Gemini.

When is that?

Well, the government calls it 6:30.

Look, I’ll meet you at The Half Note.

6:30? You serious?

I’ll gather all the necessary provisions…

I said, get out of here! Go!

(22 SCREAMS)

MOONWIND: See you at The Half Note at 6:30!

I’ll take care of everything!

And stay away!

(MELLOW MUSIC PLAYING)

TERRY: Sure are a lot of Garcias in here.

You’re out there somewhere, little soul, and I’m gonna find ya.

JOE: All right, this is the last snack.

I can barely fit into my pants as it is.

6:30 is cutting it close. Too close.

We gotta get back to my place and get you cleaned up and…

Ahh! (RETCHES, SIGHS)

We gotta hail a cab. Hold your hand out.

Hold it up and out.

Man, this would be hard even if I wasn’t wearing a hospital gown.

(TIRES SCREECH)

Go, go, go! Just run to that one.

(GASPS)

DOROTHEA: Is that Teach?

22: Mm, pepperoni.

(JOE GASPS)

(JOE AS MR. MITTENS YOWLING)

JOE: Aah, Dorothea Williams saw me.

What am I gonna do? She’s gonna think I’m crazy.

Maybe you should call her up and tell her that we’re not crazy.

I’ve only been a person for an hour, and even I know that’s a bad idea.

JOE: I just gotta get back in my body and really bring it tonight.

How come this part is stinky but this part smells fine?

Never mind. Just put those pants on.

Sheesh, I can’t believe I’ve been walking around in this city with no pants on.

22: I don’t even wanna be here, remember?

I don’t want you here either. I just… I just wanna get back to my body, then get back to the (YAWNS) club.

(SNORING)

What’s the matter with you?

(SLEEPILY) Uh… I don’t know. It’s the sun. It’s just so…

(YAWNS)

(CELL PHONE VIBRATES)

JOE: My phone!

22: Um… Okay, your clothes are rumbling again.

(JAZZ MUSIC RINGTONE PLAYING)

Curley! Uh… No, no.

(GRUNTING)

Oops.

(CELL PHONE VIBRATES)

(GASPS)

CURLEY: Hey, Mr. G, it’s Curley. Um… (SIGHS)

I hope you’re doin’ okay.

Dorothea freaked out when she saw you, and she called this other guy, Robert.

He’s got the gig now. I’m sorry.

No, no, no.

(CURLEY SIGHS)

CURLEY: Look, honestly, your class was the only reason I went to school at all.

Like, I owe you a lot.

So, here’s the plan.

Clean yourself up, put on a killer suit, and get to the club early.

I’m gonna try and talk to her.

Just make sure you show up looking like a million bucks, all right?

I hope I see you, man. All right. Peace.

Oh! I can get the gig back, 22.

I need your help. I have a suit.

I’m gonna need you to try it on.

22: No, no, no.

JOE: And then I can line my hair up a little bit, and I can…

22: Nope. No way, no how.

22!

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

(JOE GASPS)

GIRL: Mr. Gardner?

Ah!

It’s Connie. She’s here for her lesson.

What do I do?

CONNIE: I can hear you!

Just tell her that you can’t do it today.

22: Hi, Connie.

Sorry, but Joe can’t do it today.

JOE: You’re Joe! 22: I mean, me.

Me can’t do it today.

JOE: Good. Now let’s go check out that suit.

CONNIE: I came to tell you that I quit.

22: Quit?

(JOE GROANS)

We don’t have time for this. The suit is in the closet.

CONNIE: Band is a stupid waste of time.

This kid is talking sense.

JOE: What are you doing?

Here, I quit. I think jazz is pointless.

Oh, yeah, jazz is definitely pointless.

JOE: Hey!

In fact, all of school is a waste of time.

Of course. Like my mentor, George Orwell, used to say, “State sponsored education is like the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.”

Yeah!

The ruling class’s core curriculum stifles dissent.

It’s the oldest trick in the book.

What are you talkin’ about?

She doesn’t care about any of that.

I’ve been saying that since the third grade.

You know, you seem really smart.

What is your position on pizza?

Uh, I like it?

Me, too!

What are you doing? (GRUNTS)

I’d rather hang with Connie.

What? Come back here! You open this…

(JOE AS MR. MITTENS YOWLING)

Um, I think your cat wants to get out.

Ugh, he thinks he knows everything.

JOE: 22! Don’t you walk away from me.

Come here right now.

I’m gonna go in and I’mma scratch up the sofa.

Oh, wait a minute, that’s my sofa.

You really got things figured out, Connie.

I’d better give this back. It belongs to the school.

Sure.

You know, I really am glad there’s someone else who sees how ridiculous this place is.

You’re right to quit. I learned about quitting…

You know what, Mr. G?

I was practicing this one thing yesterday and maybe you can listen to it and tell me to quit after, okay?

(PLAYING TUNE)

Uh, okay.

(PLAYING IMPROVISED JAZZ TUNE)

(THUD)

(EXHALES DEEPLY)

Wow. You really love this.

Yeah.

So, maybe I’d better stick with it?

Yeah.

CONNIE: Bye, Mr. G.

See you next week!

JOE: 22!

(JOE GRUNTS)

So, Connie came here to quit, but then she didn’t.

22, forget about that. Listen.

I need to know this, Joe. Why didn’t she quit?

Because she loves to play.

She might say she hates everything, but trombone is her thing.

She’s good at it.

Maybe trombone is her spark, I don’t know.

Please. If I’m gonna get this gig back, I need your help.

Okay.

Really?

I’ll help you, but I wanna try a few things.

‘Cause I don’t know, some of it’s not as boring as it is at the You Seminar, and if Connie can find something she loves here, maybe I can, too.

Great!

So, what do we do first?

(22 SCREAMING)

22: This water hurts!

It’s okay.

You just have to turn the other knob.

22: Oh, okay, that’s better.

And I wouldn’t be mad if you put a little lotion on me when you’re done.

(LIQUID SQUIRTING)

(MUFFLED RATTLING)

22: I washed your butt for you.

Ah! (SPITS) Spicy! Spicy!

(GRUNTS, YELPS)

(THUD)

You five will be insecure.

And you 12 will be self-absorbed.

We really should stop sending so many through that pavilion.

TERRY: Found him!

See that, everybody?

Who figured out why the count’s off?

That’s right, Terry did.

It’s Terrytime.

Wow. Nice work.

Well, who is it?

Right. (CLEARS THROAT)

Uh… Joe Gardner is his name.

Looks like he’s back down on Earth.

That’s not good.

That… That’s the mentor we set up with 22.

All right, all right. Easy on the hysterics.

Terry’s got this under control. I’ll handle it.

How?

I’ll go down there and get him.

Set the count right, lickety-split.

Okay, whoa. Are you sure that’s a good idea?

Look, you all are the ones who beefed it.

I’m trying to un-beef it.

But you cannot be seen.

By anyone.

Don’t worry. I’ll make sure no one else sees me.

I’ll move among the shadows, like a ninja.

Please, just do it quickly and quietly.

And also quickly. And quietly as well.

This won’t be a disaster, that’s for sure.

Mm. Trusty old brown suit. Still a perfect fit.

It’s a little tight in the back-here part.

JOE: It’ll loosen. Sit down.

I’m a cat.

I’ll do it.

You couldn’t call an elevator, remember?

No way. I just need to line me up. Now be still.

(WHIRRING)

Uh, it’s like a little tiny chainsaw.

Don’t move.

I’m not moving. You’re moving.

(CONTINUES WHIRRING)

(JOE WHIMPERS)

(22 YELPS)

(GASPS) Oh, no!

Don’t worry, I’m okay.

Oh, no, no, no! My hair! My hair is not okay!

This is a disaster!

(GASPS) We gotta fix this. Right now.

Okay. How?

We gotta go see Dez.

Great. Who’s Dez?

MAN: Yo, Ian, man, how you get that big peanut head? What happened to you?

IAN: Man, shut up, man. You know I’m sensitive about that.

JOE: Dez is the guy in the back.

He can fix this.

Talk about havin’ a spark.

This guy was born to be a barber.

But I can’t pass for you in front of all your friends.

Dez is the only one that I talk to.

We usually talk about jazz, but this time, just sit there, get the cut, and get out.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(HIP-HOP MUSIC PLAYING)

Hey, Joe. What are you doing here on a weekday?

You didn’t call for an appointment, man. It’s gonna be a while.

Ah, I was afraid of this. Go ahead and sit down.

(ALL EXCLAIM)

Oh, my Lord.

You gotta wait, son. This is an emergency.

What? That ain’t cool, Dez.

You could always let Harold cut your hair.

His chair’s wide open.

Nah. I can wait.

Joe, get your butt in this chair now.

Should I even ask you how this happened?

The cat did it.

Stop sounding insane.

I mean, um, I was distracted getting ready to play with Dorothea Williams tonight.

Dorothea Williams? That’s big time, Joe.

Congratulations!

Joe ain’t getting no gig, Dez.

You know he Mr. Close-But-No-Cigar.

(SIGHS) This guy.

Joe, ignore him. Now let’s fix you up.

You keeping that cat on your lap?

Is it okay that I do that?

Suit yourself. You’re the boss.

I am?

When you’re in this chair, yeah, you are.

So can I have one of those?

Uh… Sure, Joe.

(CHUCKLES) Cool.

Mmm. I like being in the chair.

Hey, get your head in the game.

(WHIRRING)

(YELPS) Little chainsaw.

You need to settle down. If you keep this…

(MEOWING)

Look, I can deal with some freaky stuff, but if this cat don’t chill, we’re gonna have to put it outside.

Well, what’s it gonna be, kitty?

Meow.

Sometimes, change is good.

You have been rocking that same style for a while.

Well, Dez, for hundreds of years, I’ve had no style at all.

PAUL: You can say that again.

(ALL LAUGH)

Mmm. But then my life changed.

Oh, yeah? What happened?

I was existing as a theoretical construct in a hypothetical way station between life and death.

I heard that.

22: And by the time I got to mentor number 266, I was seriously asking, like, what is all the fuss about?

Like, is all this living really worth dying for?

(ALL MURMUR AGREEINGLY)

You know what I mean?

I never knew you had such an interesting education, Joe.

I just thought you went to music school.

22: (MUFFLED) And another thing, they say you’re born to do something, but how do you figure out what that thing is?

I mean, what if you pick up the wrong thing?

Or somebody else’s thing, you know?

Then you’re stuck.

Been there before.

I’ll take one of those.

I wouldn’t call myself stuck, but I never planned on cuttin’ heads for a livin’.

Wait, but you were born to be a barber, weren’t you?

I wanted to be a veterinarian.

22: So, why didn’t you do that?

I was plannin’ to when I got out of the Navy.

Then my daughter got sick, (CHUCKLES) and barber school is a lot cheaper than veterinarian school.

22: Well, that’s too bad.

You’re stuck as a barber and now you’re unhappy.

Whoa, whoa, slow your roll there, Joe.

I’m happy as a clam, my man.

Not everyone can be Charles Drew inventing blood transfusions.

22: Or me, playing piano with Dorothea Williams.

I know.

(DOOR OPENS)

(LAUGHS) You are not all that.

Anyone could play in a band if they wanted to.

Don’t pay Paul any mind.

People like him just bring other people down so they can make themselves feel better.

Oh, I get it.

He’s just criticizing me to cover up the pain of his own failed dreams.

(ALL EXCLAIM, LAUGH)

You cut deep, Joe.

I wonder why sitting in this chair makes me want to tell you things, Dez.

That’s the magic of the chair. That’s why I love this job.

I get to meet interesting folks like you, make them happy, and make them handsome.

Wow! Am I crazy or do I look younger?

I may not have invented blood transfusions, but I am most definitely savin’ lives.

I don’t know about this crazy cat guy thing, man, but it is nice to finally talk to you about something other than jazz, Joe.

Huh. How come we, um, never talked about your life before?

You never asked.

But I’m glad you did this time.

MAN: Looking good, brother. WOMAN: Have a great show.

(CHUCKLES) I grabbed a couple of road lollies.

WOMAN ON PA: Dr. Charma, call 3-1-6-2.

(BEEPING)

TERRY: Mm.

(SNIFFS)

Mm-hmm. (GASPS)

Mm.

(PIANO BLARES)

Oh.

Julia Child didn’t succeed till she was 49.

Hey, Paul. Here, have a lollipop.

PAUL: Oh, yeah, thanks. Thanks, man.

TERRY: There you are.

22: No hard feelings, right? All right.

Just friends.

Just friends goofing on each other. All right.

22: Okay. Goodbye, Paul.

Come to Terry.

(MAN GASPS)

Gotcha!

(MAN SCREAMS)

Thought you could cheat the universe?

Well, you thought wrong.

I’m the accountant, and I’m here to bring you in…

Oh, whoa… You’re not Joe Gardner.

(CHUCKLES AWKWARDLY)

My mistake.

We’ll just get you back into your meat suit. (CHUCKLES)

(WHIMPERING)

There you go.

No harm, no foul.

Oh, boy. Look, uh, fella, I’m thinking there’s no reason we can’t keep this little incident between us, eh?

Mistakes happen. And, uh, it’s not your time.

(CHUCKLING) Unless you keep eating those processed foods, am I right? (LAUGHS)

(FOOTSTEPS)

(TERRY GASPS)

(PAUL WHIMPERING)

But seriously, stay away from those processed foods.

(GASPS)

JOE: You know what, you did all right back there.

How did you know how to deal with Paul?

22: I didn’t. I just let out the me.

Hey, like you said about jazz. I was jazzing.

JOE: First of all, “jazzing” is not a word.

And second, music and life operate by very different rules.

It says take one.

JOE: Don’t… Or do. Okay. Fine.

“Man with a van.”

I got a few in case we need a lot of vans.

Uh-huh. Now, let’s get back to the plan.

We go to The Half Note and wait there for Moonwind.

It’s around 4:00 p.m. now…

(LAUGHING)

You know what?

You are really getting good at using those legs.

Why don’t you try runnin’?

(RAILS CHIMING)

22: Hey! I made a song. I’m jazzing.

JOE: Okay, enough of the jazzing and everything like that.

We need to get somewhere. Now, I…

22: (LAUGHING) That tickles.

Uh, what are you doing?

(22 WHOOPING, LAUGHING)

(WIND WHISTLING)

(CHUCKLES) Whoops. I got it.

(GRUNTS)

Would you hurry up?

Okay.

(PANTS RIP)

(PEOPLE GASP)

You were right. These pants are loosening.

(GASPS) Oh, no, no, no.

Don’t let people see your butt!

22: It’s your butt.

It doesn’t matter whose butt…

Take off the jacket. Tie it around your waist.

Quick! Cover the butt!

(GASPS) What are we gonna do?

I can’t find a tailor this late…

Oh, no. We’re gonna have to go to Mom’s.

22: Okay.

No, no, no, you don’t understand.

Mom doesn’t know about this gig.

And she’s not gonna like it.

Okay.

We don’t have any other choice.

Okay.

She’s the only one that can fix this.

Okay.

Stop saying “okay”!

We gotta catch the subway across town. Come on.

Okay… Got it.

My mom doesn’t know anything about the gig, and I wanna keep it that way, okay?

Right, because she thinks you’re a failure.

What?

I didn’t say that.

You did. Up here.

Uh, look, my mom has her own definition of what success is, and being a professional musician isn’t it.

So, let me see, I need the suit fixed for a, uh, school band recital.

(SIGHS) I’m not looking forward to this, but there’s no reason she needs to know…

♪ We shall come around To touch eyes again

♪ If love is the foundation

♪ If the purpose be To recycle life

♪ I promise you I’ll bring us to one

♪ Bleeding heart in the end now

♪ Though we’re apart

I don’t know. All the times I’ve been so close to getting to my dreams, (SIGHS) something always gets in the way.

You know what I mean?

♪ How true lovin’ began

He’s good.

And I’ve heard music before, but I’ve never felt like this inside.

Of course, you love music now, because you’re me. Let’s go.

♪ Now, love

Let’s go.

♪ Love

♪ Love, love

♪ Talkin’ about love

♪ Love

♪ Love ♪

Whoa! (CHUCKLES)

(EXCLAIMING)

Hey, take it easy, eh?

I’m sorry.

Don’t worry about it.

It’s the subway. It does that to some people.

Does what?

It wears you down.

It stinks. It’s hot. It’s crowded.

Every day the same thing, day in and day out.

But once I get on the stage tonight, all my troubles are going to be fixed.

You’re gonna see a brand-new Joe Gardner.

(LOUD SLURPING)

Where’d you get that?

Under the seat. Can you believe it?

It’s still half-full. (GASPS)

JOE: All right, remember,

I need the suit fixed for a band recital. Got it?

(LAUGHTER)

LULU: Joey! Oh, baby boy…

MELBA: Joey!

Oh, I’m so proud of you.

…we heard the news.

(LIBBA CLEARS THROAT)

(R&B MUSIC PLAYING)

Oh, crap. She knows.

Your momma’s in the back.

You gotta go in there.

No, I don’t want to.

You have to. We need the suit fixed.

(BREATHES DEEPLY)

You forgetting something, Joey?

What?

Kiss her.

I always kiss Melba when I see her.

Just do it.

No, no, no. Not on the lips.

(GASPS) Joey! What has gotten into you, boy?

(LAUGHING) Let him finish.

LULU: Cougar. I knew it.

I’ll take another kiss when you get back, Joey.

(R&B MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING ON SPEAKERS)

So much for being done chasing after gigs, huh?

I hope that cat isn’t supposed to be some kind of peace offering.

(WHISPERS) Come. Come on.

Just say you rescued it.

Um, no. It’s mine. I rescued it.

Hmm. Too bad you can’t rescue your career.

Oh.

(SIGHS) Just ask her nicely if she can fix my suit.

So, Mom, is there any way you can fix this?

Whoa! I don’t need to see that.

I know. Embarrassing, right?

So, you’ll fix it?

LIBBA: No.

BOTH: What?

How long are you going to keep doing this, Joey?

You tell me you’re going to accept the full-time position…

Here it comes.

LIBBA: …and instead, I hear you’ve taken another gig.

Tell her that this one is different.

This one’s different!

Does this gig have a pension? Health insurance?

No? Then it’s the same as the other ones.

It’s like you can’t even be truthful with me anymore.

Fine, we’ll get the suit off the rack somewhere.

My mom has never understood what I’m trying to do with my life.

Fine, we’ll get the suit off the rack somewhere.

(BOTH GASP)

My mom has never understood what I’m trying to do with my life.

22!

What did you just say?

Oof. Can I run away now, like you usually do?

No. Not this time. Repeat after me.

Mom, I know we’ve had some rough times,

but you’re right,

(IN JOE’S VOICE) I can’t be truthful with you.

Because it seems like no matter what I do, you disapprove.

Look, I know you love playing.

Then how come except for church, you’re the happiest when I don’t?

I finally land the gig of my life and you’re upset.

You didn’t see how tough being a musician was on your father.

I don’t want to see you struggle like that.

So Dad could pursue his dreams, and I can’t?

Your father had me.

Most times, this shop is what paid the bills.

So when I’m gone, who’s gonna pay yours?

Music is all I think about.

From the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I fall asleep at night.

You can’t eat dreams for breakfast, Joey.

Then I don’t want to eat.

This isn’t about my career, Mom.

(SIGHS) It’s my reason for living.

And I know Dad felt the same way.

(SIGHS) I’m just afraid that if I died today, that my life would’ve amounted to nothing.

Joey.

Oh.

LIBBA: Let’s make this work instead.

That’s my dad’s suit.

LIBBA: Lulu. Melba.

Bring your good scissors in here. We got work to do.

22: (IN NORMAL VOICE) Wow. This feels really nice.

You look marvelous.

It fits perfectly.

MELBA: You see how I did that?

That is one fine wool suit, if I do say so myself.

Can I try on that?

Of course you can.

MELBA: Just handsome.

(LIBBA CHUCKLING)

Thank you, uh, Mom.

Ray would have been so proud of you, baby.

Like I’ve always been.

You heard me, right?

The suit is wool, not polyester.

So, don’t go putting that cat on your shoulders again.

BOTH: Yes, ma’am!

MELBA: Oh, there’s a nice little taper there.

Thanks, Mom.

Oh, that was amazin’.

You know what that felt like? It felt like jazz.

Yeah, you were jazzing.

JOE: Ha-ha. Okay, jazzing.

I’m telling you, Joe.

You really should call Lisa again.

JOE: I don’t really have time for a relationship right now, 22.

Oh, busy right now?

Wanna wait till you die a second time?

Cool, cool, cool.

(JOE LAUGHS)

I can’t believe I’m getting romantic advice from an unborn soul. (CHUCKLES)

22: I can think of worse.

JOE: There it is.

(LAUGHS) We made it! This is going to work.

Whoa! I can’t believe how good I look.

The suit, the cut. Just look at me.

(LAUGHS)

(SCATTING)

(LAUGHS)

Ooh, just turn a little bit right there.

22: Like this?

Angle the shoulders, and…

22: Oh, hey, who’s that?

And from this side.

JOE: That’s it.

22: What? Who’s back here?

Still me. Uh-huh.

JOE: That’s a winner.

Right?

(JOE LAUGHING)

This can’t be happenin’. Now, I’m not gonna believe this.

The Half Note.

(GIRL GIGGLING)

WOMAN: (LAUGHING) He made you pay for dinner?

MAN: Yeah…

(LEAVES RUSTLING)

(INHALES DEEPLY)

(SERENE ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYING)

JOE: So, you ready?

Huh?

To go home.

I bet you’re ready to get off of this stinky rock, huh?

What do you think of Earth, anyway?

(SIGHS)

I always said it was dumb. But…

I mean…

Just look at what I found.

Your mom sewed your suit from this cute spool.

When I was nervous, Dez gave me this.

A guy on the subway yelled at me. It was scary.

But I kind of liked that, too.

(22 SIGHS)

Truth is, I’ve always worried

that maybe there’s something wrong with me. You know?

Maybe I’m not good enough for living.

But then you showed me about purpose and passion, and maybe sky-watching can be my spark.

Or walking. I’m really good at walking.

Those really aren’t purposes, 22.

That’s just regular old living.

But, hey, when you get back to the You Seminar, you can give it an honest try.

No, but I’ve been at the You Seminar for thousands of years and I have never felt this close.

Joe! Who’s ready to go home?

(GASPS) Moonwind.

The stars are almost in alignment.

JOE: All right.

I’ll have you back in your bodies in no time.

No. I’ve gotta find it here, on Earth.

This is my only chance to find my spark.

22, you’re only loving this stuff because you’re in my body.

You can find your own thing to love when you get back to the You Seminar.

Now, come on, I need my body back. Now!

No.

I’m in the chair.

(UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

22!

22: Leave me alone!

I’m trying to find my purpose!

JOE: 22, you come back here!

22!

WOMAN: Mr. Mittens.

(SNARLING)

Oh.

TERRY: There they are.

(INDISTINCT ANNOUNCEMENT ON PA)

You come back here right now!

You stole my body!

(MUSIC DISTORTS)

(CELESTIAL MUSIC PLAYING)

TERRY: It’s your time to go, Joe Gardner.

(GASPS)

Oh, no, you don’t.

Gotcha!

No, no, no.

(PANTS)

(GRUNTS)

No, no!

I was gonna play with Dorothea Williams!

And I was about to find my spark!

JOE: Find your spark? My life was finally going to change!

22: You promised, but you wouldn’t even give me five minutes!

JOE: I lost everything because of you!

Joe!

You cheated.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

TERRY: Found him.

Joe Gardner.

You’re back!

Terry, you found them.

TERRY: No need to thank me.

It’s so nice to have everything back in order, and…

22 got her pass?

Oh, my goodness.

22! You got an Earth Pass!

This is amazing!

(OVERLAPPING CHATTER)

COUNSELOR JERRY A: I knew you could do it.

COUNSELOR JERRY B: This is cray cray.

But what… What filled in the last box?

I’ll tell you what filled it in. I did!

It was my spark that changed that badge.

She only got that because she was living my life in my body.

I was…

TERRY: Come on, Mr. Gardner.

(SNAPS FINGERS)

COUNSELOR JERRY A: Joe, it’s time for you to accompany 22 to the Earth portal.

Give you a chance to say goodbye.

Of course. It’s standard procedure.

Just hold on a minute. I get to set the count right.

Terry, you have done a super job.

We’ll take it from here.

You’re amazing.

Well, thank you.

Terrytime.

COUNSELOR JERRY B: Go ahead, you two.

You don’t know.

You can’t be sure why my pass changed.

(SIGHS) Come on, 22. Think about it.

You hated music until you were in my body.

You hated everything until you were me.

(JOE SCOFFS)

I hope you enjoy it.

JOE: Uh…

I have to ask, how the Dickens did you do it?

Get that Earth Pass to change?

Oh. You know what, I… I just let her walk a mile in my shoes, you could say.

Well, it worked.

(CHUCKLES) Yeah.

Well, you should probably get going to the Great Beyond.

Hey, um, we never found out what 22’s purpose was.

Excuse me?

You know, her, uh, spark.

Her purpose. Was it music? Biology? Walking? (CHUCKLES)

We don’t assign purposes. Where did you get that idea?

Because I have piano.

It’s what I was born to do. That’s my spark.

A spark isn’t a soul’s purpose.

Oh, you mentors and your passions.

Your purposes. Your meanings of life. (SIGHS) So basic.

(CHUCKLES)

No, no, it…

NEW SOUL: Wow.

It is music. My spark is music. I…

I know it is.

22: I’m no good.

I got no purpose.

No purpose.

No purpose.

(SOFT CELESTIAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(PANTING)

Mr. G?

Curley, I made it. I’m ready to go.

You’re too late, man.

Let me talk to Dorothea.

No, no, no, man. She don’t play that.

These rappers act like… Who let this lunatic in here?

Listen, you gotta give me another chance.

This is my band. I decide who plays.

And if you don’t go with me, you’ll be making the biggest mistake of your career.

Oh, yeah? Why’s that?

My only purpose on this planet is to play.

It’s what I was meant to do. And nothing’s gonna stop me.

Well, aren’t you an arrogant one?

I guess you really are a jazz player.

Tell Robert he’s out. For now.

Nice suit.

Get ready, Joe Gardner, your life is about to start.

(PLAYING UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC)

(PLAYING SLOW JAZZ MUSIC)

(PLAYING UPBEAT TRILLING NOTES)

(PLAYING UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC)

(AUDIENCE CHEERING AND APPLAUDING)

Welcome to the quartet, Teach.

(WHOOPING)

LIBBA: That’s my Joey!

(CHEERING CONTINUES)

What a show!

That last solo was brilliant.

That was amazing!

I’m not gonna cover that bridge for you again.

Whoo! Later, Mr. G.

Congratulations.

MELBA: You did great. We love you.

I’m so proud of you, Joey.

Gotta get to bed. We old.

(JOE CHUCKLES)

You play 100 shows, and one of them is killer.

You don’t get many like tonight.

Yeah. (CHUCKLES)

So, uh, (CHUCKLES) what happens next?

We come back tomorrow night and do it all again.

What’s wrong, Teach?

It’s just I’ve been waiting on this day for my entire life.

I thought I’d feel different.

I heard this story about a fish.

He swims up to this older fish and says, “I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.”

“The ocean?” says the older fish.

“That’s what you’re in right now.”

“This?” says the young fish. “This is water.

“What I want is the ocean.”

See you tomorrow.

(CAB DRIVING AWAY)

Hey, man.

Sorry.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

(SIGHS)

(PLAYS NOTE)

(PLAYING SOFT CHORDS)

(MUSIC CONTINUES)

(FIREWORKS BURSTING)

(MUSIC CONTINUES)

(SEAGULLS SQUAWKING)

(MUSIC CONTINUES)

22: Maybe sky-watching can be my spark.

Or walking. I’m really good at walking.

JOE: Those really aren’t purposes, 22.

That’s just regular old living.

(STOPS PLAYING)

(PLAYING MELODIOUS TRILLING NOTES)

MOONWIND: Joe?

JOE: Huh?

MOONWIND: Joe!

Good heavens, man. What are you doing in the zone?

Moonwind. I messed up. I need to find 22.

I’m afraid she’s become a lost soul.

What?

I’ll explain on the way.

When neither of you returned to The Half Note, I suspected something had gone wrong.

I came back here, and that’s when I spotted her.

(IMPERCEPTIBLE)

Lost souls are obsessed by something that disconnects them from life.

And now that 22 has technically lived, she’s become one of them.

There!

Good show.

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

22!

(SNARLS)

Ready the net.

I’m on it.

MOONWIND: She’s got us!

(RUMBLING)

JOE: Moonwind!

MOONWIND: A captain always goes down with the ship.

It has been a…

(SNARLS)

22!

Come back, 22. It’s me, Joe.

Easy, 22, easy.

I just came back to give you this.

(SNARLING)

Easy.

22, listen. Come back!

And for correcting our absent-minded mistakes and setting the count right, we are awarding you, Terry, this trophy. As you requested.

I am happy to accept this very special award I requested, but that I absolutely deserve.

(22 SNARLING)

(ALL EXCLAIM)

COUNSELOR JERRY A: Joe Gardner?

And I’ll just take that back.

Hey.

Oi, noob! You’re not where you belong.

(22 HISSING)

(TERRY YELPING)

(NEW SOULS EXCLAIM)

COUNSELOR JERRY: Uh… (CHUCKLES AWKWARDLY)

22, stop. I have something to tell you.

(GRUNTING) Stop that. No.

(NEW SOULS LAUGHING)

22!

COUNSELOR JERRY A: Whoa, watch out!

COUNSELOR JERRY D: Take it easy.

There, there.

There’s no need to be afraid.

COUNSELOR JERRY A: Don’t worry. Calm down.

You have to stop running. Please.

JOE: 22, stop.

22, I was wrong.

Please, will you listen? You are ready to live, 22.

(22 ROARS)

(WIND WHISTLING)

(22 CRYING)

I’m not good enough. Nope. No.

Nothing. I just need to fill out that last box.

JOE: 22!

(IN 22’S VOICE) You’re dishonest.

All you make are bad decisions.

You are unwise and you won’t make it in the world.

You’re so selfish.

No one would ever want to be around you.

Loser.

Oh, the world needs remarkable people and you are the least remarkable soul I’ve ever met.

You’ll never find your spark.

Imbecile.

I cannot help you.

(VOICES OVERLAPPING)

22!

22: I just need to fill out that last box.

I’m not good enough at all.

You will never find your spark.

There’s no point.

(IN 22’S VOICE) Those aren’t purposes, you idiot.

That’s just regular old living.

This is a waste of time.

You only got that badge because you were in my body.

That’s why you ruin everything.

Because you have no purpose.

(JOE SHOUTS)

(JOE GRUNTING)

(GASPS) No, no, no.

(GASPS)

(IN JOE’S VOICE) There’s no point.

(IN 22’S VOICE) You’ll never find your spark.

(ECHOING) Because you have no purpose!

(MUFFLED OVERLAPPING VOICES)

I’m not good. Nope.

Nothing. I just need to fill out that last box. I give up.

JOE: (AS MR. MITTENS) You ready?

Huh?

To come live.

I’m scared, Joe.

I’m not good enough.

Anyway, I never got my spark.

Yes, you did.

JOE: Your spark isn’t your purpose.

That last box fills in when you’re ready to come live.

And, the thing is you’re pretty great at jazzing.

(SOFT ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYING)

But, Joe, this means you won’t get to…

It’s okay. I already did.

Now it’s your turn.

(GRUNTS)

(WHIMPERS)

I’ll go with you.

You know you can’t do that.

I know. But I’ll go as far as I can.

(SOFT TECHNO MUSIC PLAYING)

Hey! Take a look!

(GASPS)

Wow!

(GIGGLES, WHOOPS)

(LAUGHING)

(WHOOPING)

(EARTH PASS BEEPING SOFTLY)

(MUSIC CONTINUES)

(MUSIC FADES)

COUNSELOR JERRY A: Mr. Gardner?

JOE: Yes?

Do you have a moment?

I think I’m speaking for all the Jerrys when I say thank you.

For what?

We’re in the business of inspiration, Joe, but it’s not often we find ourselves inspired.

Huh. Really?

So, we all decided to give you another chance.

(COUNSELOR JERRY A CHUCKLES)

Hopefully, you will watch where you walk from now on.

But what about Terry?

We worked it out with Terry.

(CLICKING)

Mm. That’s weird.

Hey, Terry, what’s that over there?

Look immediately.

What? What are you talking about?

Oh, nothing. You were saying?

Hmm?

Were you even talking? I can’t remember.

Never mind.

Well?

Thanks.

So what do you think you’ll do?

How are you gonna spend your life?

I’m not sure.

JOE: But I do know…

I’m going to live every minute of it.

(BREATHES DEEPLY)

(MELODIOUS TRILLING PIANO NOTES PLAYING)

(SONG PLAYING)

(HIP-HOP MUSIC PLAYS)

(RAPPING) ♪ Rappin Ced is the name

♪ And you should get it right

♪ Blowin’ up on the scene like Dynomite

♪ Joey G on the keys KP and Tommy with me

♪ How much you wanna bet?

♪ We can take the whole city

♪ You see us stylin’ from the island

♪ All the way to BK

♪ Boogie down made the sound But we took it away

♪ I go to Harlem it’s no problems If you know what I mean

♪ Now everybody bow down to The Kings of Queens ♪

(GRUNTING)

Hey! Movie’s over.

Go home!

 

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