(Original Air Date: 09/26/1998)
Written by Star Frohman; Directed by Gary Nelson
(as "fanscribed" by

[Show opens with shots of Chicago- the city, lake, river, and especially the Wrigley building.]

---Scene 1: a city pool and diving complex---

[Two women are sitting on lounge chairs poolside. They are acting as ‘suave’ as they can. One is wearing shades and a bikini, the other a one-piece. Both are wearing jewelry. They are _not_ there to swim, just to check out the guys.]

Woman 1 [looking at a man who is about to dive]: What do you think his body fat content is?

Woman 2: Zero.

[Two children, one boy and one girl, about six, come over, partly blocking the women’s view of the diving man]

Jack: Mom?

Woman 1: Move a little, Jack.

Jack [moves]: Can we have another slushy?

Woman 1 [shakes her head]: You’ve had three already.

Jack: But it’s hot.

Girl: We’re melting!

Woman 2 [shooing them away]: Just... go play.

[children walk off]

[Gary is near the complex parking lot, reading the headline, ‘2 children die locked in trunk’ in his paper]

Jack: Hey! Over here!

[The kids are in the parking lot. Jack goes up to a car and bangs on the trunk with his fists, it pops open]

Jack: Hey, look--hide and seek!

[The two children climb into the trunk]

Jack: Told you it would open!

[Gary runs to car as the children are closing the trunk; he yanks the hatch up]

Gary: Hey! Alright, come on, come on, you guys, get out of here.

Jack: Who are you?

Gary [lifts children out of trunk]: Who am I? I’ll tell you who I am--I’m the bogeyman here to tell you don’t get in the trunks of cars, you understand me? Come on, come on. Now, both of you, go on. Go on, go find your mom and dad or whoever.

[Children just stand there, looking at Gary]

Gary [raises arms quickly]: Boo!

Children: Ahhhhhh......! [They run away]

[Gary closes car trunk, checks his paper to make sure that story is gone, and moves on]


---Scene 2: At McGinty’s, early afternoon---

Gary: It’s hot.

Marissa: Well, you need some rest.

Gary: I don’t have time to rest.

Marissa: Look, Gary, I may be blind but even I can see that you’re exhausted. You can’t run around saving the world *and* manage the place, too--I mean, nobody could. I mean, Chuck’s been gone for, what, two months now? You need a new manager.

Patrick: Aqua, heavy rocks. [sets down glass of ice water and coaster in front of Gary] There you go.

Gary: I got him.

Marissa: Patrick? Patrick’s a kid! Look, Gary, you need someone to help you take the load off your shoulders. You need a full time manager. Someone who cares about you. Someone who cares about McGinty’s. I’m not very good at tooting my own horn, but I guess what I’m trying to say is-

[During the above Gary looks at his watch, and then at his paper, ‘Three die in office fire’.]

Gary: Holy cow! Uh, listen, Marissa- I-I gotta, I gotta go. [Starts to leave, but leans back towards Marissa] Were you trying to say something?

Marissa: It can wait. [She adds a forced smile]

Gary: Oh, ok.

[Gary leaves, Marissa’s smile dissolves as soon as he does]


---Scene 3: On the streets of Chicago---

[Gary is walking down a street in the loop, paper in hand]

Gary [monologue]: **They say that people are basically good.** [reads headline, ‘Can’t beat the heat- Temperatures soar to 100 plus] **Weather permitting, that is.**

[Gary comes to an intersection, stops, and looks up puzzled at the scene unfolding in front of him at the stop light]

Woman: Hey, Kojak! It’s called a turn signal, you know?

Man: You’ve been tailgating me for 10 minutes now!

Woman: You cut me off!

Man: You’re a menace, lady!

Woman: Yeah? Step out of the car, we’ll settle this right now!

[light turns green, Woman cuts off Man, horns honk, but they go on their way]

Gary: **Sometimes it seems the only thing saving us from ourselves is a simple green light. Other times it may take a little more than that.**

[Gary reads the headline again, ‘Three die in office fire’. Black and white flash to a fire in an office started by a space heater, putting the building up in flames. Gary gets a walk signal at the intersection, and hurries across]

Gary: **It does help if you get tomorrow’s newspaper today.**

--an office--

Office Lady 1: I can’t help it, I’m cold. I can’t work when I’m cold.

Office Man: Are you nuts? It’s like a sauna in here!

Office Lady 1: This is *my *space, *my* heater.

[she stands up, pushing her chair back which knocks over a wastepaper basket, spilling papers, starting a fire with the space heater]

Office Man: Well, then we’re just gonna invade your space and throw your little heater out the window.

[background starts up, "Something’s burning!", "Hey! Fire!"]

[Gary comes in with fire extinguisher and puts out the fire]

Office Man [to Office Lady 1]: See what’cha did?

Office Lady 1: It wasn’t *my* fault.

Office Lady 2: Ok, I’m gonna unplug it.

Office Lady 1: Do it and die.

Office Man: Is that a threat?

Office Lady 1: Unplug it and see.

[They argue]

Gary: **Not everyone’s going to appreciate your efforts, but that wouldn’t stop you... would it?**

[They continue to argue]

Gary: You’re welcome.


Gary: What if you knew, beyond a doubt, what was going to happen tomorrow? What would you do? For a guy who gets tomorrow’s news today there is no easy answer.


---Scene 4: McGinty’s, Gary’s bedroom---

[Gary is in bed asleep. His alarm goes off, the clock reading 6:30. A woman’s voice comes on, ‘Good morning, Chicago! It’s 6:30 and the temperature at the Civic Center is already climbing into the 80’s-’, Gary wakes up, rolls over, and turns the radio off. The cat meows, the paper ‘thump’s, and Gary gets up to get it. He opens the door and moves the cat off the paper to read the huge front page headline, ‘Blackout’]

--Downstairs in McGinty’s--

Marissa: Blackout?

Gary [reading from the paper]: ‘The most massive power failure in Chicago’s history plunged the city into pandemonium at exactly 11:32 am yesterday.’

Marissa: That’s less then three hours away.

Gary: ‘The power outage left the city defenseless against record temperatures, with thousands trapped in trains and elevators suffering the worst effects of the heat. By nightfall inconvenience turned to tragedy when looting and rioting broke out in he city’s Bridgeside neighborhood, leaving five dead, dozens injured, and millions of dollars in property damage.’

Marissa: Oh my God.

Gary: It says here that two bolts of lightning knocked out transformers all across the city.

Marissa: Lightning? How do you stop lightning?


---Scene 5: power plant---

[Gary and the power man are walking through part of the power plant. It is somewhat noisy and they raise their voices to be heard]

Power man: A bolt of lightning’s going to hit?

Gary: Two bolts.

Power man: Two bolts at one time?

Gary: No, no, no-within 90 seconds of each other... look, I know it sounds crazy-

Power man: You got that right. You know what the odds are against that? It’s like one in a billion!

Gary: No, actually, it’d be one in 2.3 billion, to be exact.

Power man: What are you, a physic or something?

Gary: Look, pal, do you know what I do for a living? I study weather patterns. Did you see that movie ‘Tornado’?

Power man: ‘Twister’, you mean?

Gary: Yeah, but the one where they’re chasing the tornado.

Power man: Yeah.

Gary: Well, that’s what I do- I chase lightning which is a very precise and specific science. And I’m telling ‘ya, today at 11:32 two bolts of lightning-

Power man: Oh, so you got it down to the minute then?

Gary: 1977, New York City, the blackout--two bolts of lightning-

Power man: New York? You’re in Chicago, my friend.

Gary: Yeah, well, Chicago, New York, it doesn’t make a difference. Listen, pal, what I am trying to tell you is-

Power man: [they stop walking and they face each other] I’m telling you, even if I did believe you, which I *do* not and even if it could happen, which it *can* not, we’ve got the greatest backup system in the world right here...

Gary: Well, no, that’s what I’m trying to tell you-

Power man: ...and there’s nothing else I can do about it!

Gary: What I’m trying to tell you is-

Power man: Now you gonna find yourself outta here, or do I have to help you?!?

Gary [with an ‘I-can’t-do-anything-so-just-give-up-and-smile’ smile]: Thank you, sir.

Power man: You’re welcome! [walks away]

Gary [with the same smile]: Thank you.


---Scene 6: McGinty’s: the office---

Gary [to cat while he is on hold on the phone]: Yeah, yeah, yeah. What do you want me to do, I’m on hold here. Come here... Sears Tower? Is this the maintenance? Thank you very much. Now, listen, I know you’ve got the two lightning rods up on the top of the building- is there anyway you could maybe tilt them to the Southeast a little bit? ‘Cause I have a feeling you’re gonna have some lightning bolts you’re gonna-Hello?

[Gary hangs up the phone]

Gary: They hung up.

Marissa: Can you blame them?

Gary: No, it’s just that in, [checks watch] five minutes all hell’s gonna break loose... I’m the only one that knows what’s gonna happen.

Marissa: Lightning is an act of God, Gary.

Gary [looking up at Marissa]: Are you telling me that I should pray?

Marissa: I already did that.

Gary [somewhat annoyed]: And?

[Thunder rumbles overhead]

Marissa: I’m not sure I got through.


---Scene 7: an abandoned building---

[Two kids, about 16, are walking through a dim abandoned building, spraying graffiti as they go. They are speaking mostly Spanish, but some English, too. They are also laughing as they go]

Jose: [spray painting on door over ‘Danger’ sign] Ok, vamanos.

Hermano: [coming to an open service elevator] Why walk when you can ride?

Jose: Ci, Hermano.

[Back to shots of Chicago- lightning! It hits a power center, causing a blackout in part of the city. It also hit the John Hancock Center. The kids going down the service elevator in the abandoned building are stuck inside, with no lights or anything]

Jose: Hey, que paso?

--Lee’s store--

Sal [coming into store]: Hey, Lee, you wanna get your van outta my spot?!?

Lee: Your spot? It’s public street.

Sal: I thought we had an understanding.

Eric: I’ll move it, pop.

Lee: [to Eric] Not now. [to Sal] We working.

Sal: Park it over on Adams!

Lee: You... don’t tell me where to park.

Eric: Pop, it’s no big deal.

Sal: Hey, I don’t care where you put it, alright, just move it.

[shot of lightning going through power cables, now all power is out everywhere]

[Sal, Eric, and Lee look up at the lights that have gone out. They say things like, ‘What happen?’, ‘What the...’, and so forth]

Sal: I gotta get over to my store-move the van, Lee!

--the streets of Chicago--

[all of the street lights go off, one by one, and chaos starts. People are cutting each other off, horns are honking, people yelling, including the two from before]

Woman: Hey, I have the right of way!

Man: In what country?

[Gary and Marissa walk out of McGinty’s and watch]

Woman: That’s it, get out of the car. [They do]

Man: Where’d you learn to drive?

Woman: Where’d *you* learn to drive, mister? I have the right of way!

[Thunder crashes behind Gary and Marissa]

Marissa: What’s happening?

[Man and Woman continue to fight]

Gary: It’s started.


---Scene 8: McGinty’s: the office---

[It’s dark, and Gary is seeing everything with a flashlight. He has different pages of the paper clipped up to a shelf, with different important stories on them]

Gary: Ok, so the big problem is going to be the looting, but that doesn’t happen ‘till tonight. So first there’s a 93 year old woman who has the stroke climbing up the stairs.

Marissa: What about the EL train, doesn’t that happen first?

Gary: No, the EL train doesn’t happen first, I’ve got it all organized here... [he looks at another page] Oh, yeah, the EL train does happen first. Alright, so first I take care of the EL train, then I take care of the lady.

Marissa: But there’s a pregnant woman stuck in traffic.

Gary: The pregnant lady, I forgot about the pregnant lady... [picks up another page of the paper, searching for the article, and finds it]... ok, so we get the-wait a second, the pregnant woman and the heart attack, they’re at the same time but different places.

Marissa: I can help.

Gary [walking into the bar area]: Yeah... yeah, that’s right, yeah... Patrick! Patrick?

Patrick [from behind the bar]: Yo. Radio says the power should be back on in a couple hours.

Gary: Well, the radio’s wrong. [puts his flashlight down on the bar, it makes a ‘thud’] I need you to do me a favor--I need you to go down to Wabash and Chestnut and direct traffic.

Patrick: Sure, Mr. Hobson, no problem... why?

Gary: Why, why-that’s a good question. Patrick--you ever get a sense about something?

Patrick [in a hushed tone]: All the time.

Gary [is taken aback, gives Patrick a look like ‘Oh, you do?’]: Yeah, well I got a sense about this. I got a sense that three cars are going to slam into each other down there and when they do some paramedics are gonna get caught up and these paramedics are... Patrick, it doesn’t matter about that- the important thing is that some brave civilian go down there and they keep the traffic flowing--do you understand, Patrick?

Patrick: I am so there, Mr. Hobson. [starts to walk away, walks back] I-uh, Chestnut and what?

Gary: Wabash--Chestnut and Wabash.

Patrick: Right, right. [heads toward the door, but stops at it, turns around, and looks at Gary]

Gary: What?

Patrick [with admiration]: That sure is some sense you’ve got, Mr. Hobson.

Gary: Go, Patrick!

[Patrick gives thumbs up and heads out the door]

Gary: There’s something wrong with that kid.

[Gary walks back into office]

Gary: Alright.

Marissa: Gary, Spike and I could go with you, I mean we could-

Gary: I need you here. I need you to answer to phone, I need you to close up.

Marissa: But I can help, Gary-

Gary: You help me plenty by being right here, minding the floor Marissa, thanks! [Gary leaves office]

Marissa: [calling after Gary] Good luck! [under her breath] I feel like a maid!

Gary: I heard that!


---Scene 9: an EL train---

[Gary opens the door to EL train, which is up on a bridge. He closes it quickly. People are looking at him weirdly throughout this scene]

Gary: [pulls out his paper, looking for something. Finds name and shouts] Uh, Mr. uh, Mumford? Mr. uh, Mumford? Mr. Mumford? [Gary walks through the train car and on to the next] I’m looking for Mr. Mumford! Mr. Mumford! [Gary finds him] Mr.-Mr. Mumford?

Mr. Mumford: Yes.

Gary: [opening pill bottle and handing him a pill] Mr. Mumford--here. You forgot your nitroglycerin pill, Mr. Mumford.

Mr. Mumford: Oh, thank God. My chest... [swallows the small pill] How did you know?

Gary: Huh?

Mr. Mumford: How did you know?

Gary: Oh, well, I, uh... well, I-I-I, I, uh, I-I work at the pharmacy. [Gary starts backing out of the car as fact as he can] You’re going to be fine, Mr. Mumford, just fine, you understand? [he bumps into someone] Excuse me.


---Scene 10: Wabash and Chestnut---

Patrick: Ok, Patrick, you can do this. You are a college grad... give or take eight units. [He walks out into the intersection where many cars are backed up. Horns are honking, people are yelling, ‘Move it!’, ‘No, you move it!’ ‘Alright, already, move it!’... no one is happy. Patrick is very unsure out in the intersection, too scared to take charge. The cars are closing in on him as he says the lines--he is talking back to the mad motorists] Uh.... excuse me, what? What to my...? No... ok? Whoa, hey... No, my mom’s fine. Thank you, sir. Whoa... Ok...

--A hospital--

[A team of doctors are performing surgery on a man. Opera is playing in the background]

Doc: So, did anybody watch the Cubs last night? [power goes out] What the...?

Nurse [popping in the door]: Generator’s down.

Doc: Well, somebody better fix it in a hurry or I’m gonna lose this guy.

--outside the emergency entrance--

[Gary is in the passenger’s seat of a small oil rig]

Gary [to driver as he gets out]: Get the hose hooked up.

Security guard: Hey, you can’t park here!

Gary: Listen, your backup generator, it needs more fuel.

Security guard: I am giving you exactly 10 seconds to get your truck outta here-

Gary: I’m telling ‘ya, check it would ‘ya? I’ll check it. [runs past guard]

Security guard: Hey!

--emergency room--

Doc [impatient]: Come on... come on...

--hospital basement--

Gary: [looks around trying to find the gauge. When he does he points at it] There! [it is on E]

Security guard: I’ll be damned.

Gary: I’ll go get the hose hooked up.

--emergency room--

[the equipment comes back to life, showing normal life signs and so forth. The team says stuff like, ‘Good’, ‘Perfect’, and ‘Let’s go’]

--Wabash and Chestnut--

[Patrick is starting to get his nerve. He tells a car to stop and is surprised and pleased when it does. He starts guiding cars through, one at a time. He starts to laugh, saying] Go ahead, yeah. Go on through, go on through. Whoa, ok, cool! Stop? [car horn honks] Yeah, I-I know. [to another car] Come on, come on!

Female driver: Thanks, hon. [waves and blows a kiss of sorts]

Patrick: Hahahaha! [he can’t believe his luck]


---Scene 11: Marissa- McGinty’s: the office---

---Gary- on a pay phone at Chestnut and Wabash---

[phone rings, Marissa picks it up]

Marissa: McGinty’s.

Gary: Marissa, it’s me.

Marissa: Where are you?

Gary: I’m over at Chestnut and Wabash. I believe our new friend Patrick has found a new calling in life.

Patrick [directing traffic]: You got it! You--let go! Wooo-hoooo-wa....

Gary: Listen, I want you to dump that milk in the back and also take the bar ice and stick it-

Marissa: -in the walk-in. I already did that.

Gary: Alright, good.

Marissa: Hey, what are you going to do about the looting?

Gary: I don’t know, I haven’t figured that out yet.

Marissa: Well, read me the paper again, maybe there’s something in there.

Gary [looks around to make sure no one sees, and reads]: ‘Chicago’s blackout went from bad to worse as nightfall brought out the dark side of humanity. The riot erupted at a convenience store in a neighborhood where witnesses said store owner Ang Lee had closed his shop to unruly customers.’ [black and white of the riot, guns being shot off, bricks thrown, breaking windows, men wrestled down]

Marissa: Gary, if you stop that owner from closing the store then you can stop things before they start.

Gary: Yeah, well, right now I gotta go over to a construction site, a couple of kids are stuck in an elevator over at Decker and 21st.

Marissa: Well, that’s not life or death, is it?

Gary: No, but it’s on the way so I figured I’d go there first.

Marissa: Well, we know people are going to die tonight if you don’t stop that looting, Gary.

Gary: Alright, so the kids’ll wait. Alright, well, listen, I’ll call you back in a little while, alright?

Marissa: Ok, bye. [hangs up phone. To herself] 21st and Decker, that’s just a few blocks away from here.

[Marissa ‘looks’ toward her seeing-eye dog Spike, who lifts his head]


---Scene 12: Decker and 21st: outside an abandoned building, in an alley---

Marissa [to self/Spike]: Three blocks South, two blocks East, alright, Spike, this should be it. [louder, to anyone that may be passing by, but there is no one] Hello? Anyone? I need some help here! [Spike barks at faint voices that can be heard from inside the building] I hear it, I hear it, too, Spike. [her tone becomes more desperate] Hello? Anybody? There’s some boys stuck in an elevator! [Spike barks again] Find them Spike, find them Spike--let’s go! [Spike leads Marissa into the abandoned building past a sign reading ‘Warning--Danger Keep Out’ in big red letters.] Hello? Anybody here?

Hermano: We’re stuck in the elevator!

Jose: Que, rapido!

Marissa: Alright, I’ll try. Come on Spike. [she works her way up a flight of stairs]

Hermano: Take it easy, Jose. You gotta help us, lady. My friend’s freaking out!

Jose: Please! Por favor!

Marissa: Hang on! I’m coming up!

José: Aqui, Señora! [speaking Spanish] Aqui, Señora!

Hermano: Dude, she’s blind!

Jose: What? Oh, man...

Hermano: Don’t worry. Lady, there’s a pipe on the floor, next to your foot. If you push it through the doors we can get out of here.

Marissa: Ok... which foot?

Jose [freaking out]: Please, man--you gotta get me outta here now!

Hermano: Your left one. Hurry, lady. He’s going to have a fit or something!

Marissa [leaning down, picking up pipe]: Ok, got it.

Hermano: That’s it!

[Marissa passes the pipe through the slit between the service elevator’s doors. He boys use it as a lever to push open the doors]

Jose [getting out]: Got it... come on, man, let’s go!

Hermano: We just can’t leave her here!

Jose: 5-0, man. [more Spanish]

Hermano: Sorry, lady. [the boys run on their way out of the building]

Marissa: Wait... where are you going? Alright, Spike--we got ourselves into this, we’ll just have to get ourselves out. Turn, slowly..., heel.

[Spike starts leading Marissa out of the building. He starts and stops suddenly, trying to make sense of the space. Marissa feels her way around by touching along a temporary railing of nailed wood. The railing stops, however]

Marissa: Woaoooo-ah!!!

[and Marissa stumbles and falls onto some scaffolding erected in an old elevator shaft. There is nothing but open air between the end of the scaffolding and the floor where Spike still is. The gap between the two extends down for stories. When Marissa landed she landed hard on her right foot/ankle, which is now hurt. She holds it in pain while Spike barks from the other side.]


Many thanks to Karla for sharing her fanscription of "Blackout" – Thank you!

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