The Courier—a comedy

A messenger implicated in weapons sales causes a nuclear explosion.

    An arms dealer and his wife send love messages by a courier who has two sexual personae: she falls in love with the boy, and her husband with the girl.  When the courier is called to deliver sensitive material he blows up those involved.

    “I love you!” says Petros.  “No, you don’t!” says Angeliki, and they continue their breakfast-table argument on the phone as he drives to work at the Defendory, an Athens arms market where the world’s military shop for the latest weapons.

    As he writes a note he beckons courier Alexander, a beautiful sixteen-year-old boy, to carry it to her, but is interrupted by Arab clients to whom he demonstrates the working of tennis-ball-size nuclear bombs.  Alexander watches.  The bombs are triggered by percussion, and the clients, playful clowns, drop one—but it’s unarmed without a capsule of plutonium. 

Ah!  Can Petros arrange for plutonium?

    On a company motorcycle with a document box on the back, Alexander delivers Petros’ note to Angeliki, who falls in love with him, and detains him as long as she can while she writes a reply.  The couple don’t know what to say to each other, so soon Alexander is dictating the notes he carries.

    A British embassy garden party.  Alexander, the nephew of the ambassador, is in the receiving line, where it amuses him to dress as a girl—and a pretty one: Alexandra.  Angeliki doesn’t recognize him; Petros falls in love with him.

    The ambassador’s wife, Lady Emily, old and unbeautiful, has lost the attention of her husband, Lord Henry, who has turned gay.  Lady Emily is also in love with Alexander, but is too proper to do anything but dream.

    Beside her in the receiving line is her daughter Portia, a gorgeous sexual bully eight months pregnant.  She has seduced her teacher at the British College, nervous Canadian Blaine, and now ignores him.  He embarrasses her by blurting this to her parents.  Lady Emily opens her mouth to speak and drops her denture.

    At the party Korean generals plot to steal the architectural plans of bunkers at the American embassy; Peruvian generals plot to suborn Lord Henry’s assistant and ship cocaine to London by diplomatic pouch; the Arab shoppers plot to buy plutonium; Petros chases Alexandra; and Lady Emily makes Portia agree to marry Blaine.

    Portia then goes dancing with two CIA agents, has sex with them and brings them home to breakfast.  The next time she does it she has her baby on a dance floor.

    Petros sends passionate notes, which Alexander dictates, to Alexandra.  Angeliki sends I-now-love-someone-else notes, which Alexander dictates, to Petros.  Alexander throws them away.

    Lady Emily suffers a mental crisis and, except for shoes and stockings, goes naked—an appalling sight.  Alexander takes no notice.  When she appears this way at social functions Lord Henry winks at the others: mustn’t wake a sleepwalker.  However her sexual energy is such that she rises out of her chair at the dinner table, which is murmured about as a faux pas.

She appears this way at Portia’s wedding to Blaine in the garden, but Portia’s too busy with the baby to much notice.  Blaine moves into Portia’s room at the ambassador’s residence, where he sleeps on the floor.  As soon as she’s well enough she leaves him with the baby and goes out dancing with the agents.

Crossing a beach road she is hit by a car that removes her leg, which lands on someone’s balcony.  The crisis brings Lady Emily to herself to nurse her.  At least now she’ll stay home and be a mother to her child.

But no, as soon as she’s well enough she’s out dancing with the two agents on an unpretentious peg leg—no fake flesh tones for her—her style cramped not at all, and brings them home to breakfast.

Lady Emily, to Blaine’s relief, realizes that she must be mother to the baby and, to Blaine’s relief, takes Blaine as her lover.

Petros, obsessed with meeting Alexandra, pesters Alexander, who improvises her excuses to him—taking calls from Angeliki as they speak— then relents and arranges a meeting.

Meanwhile the Korean generals send him to a printer where an extra copy of the American bunker plans has been arranged for.  He opens the package and looks it over.

The Peruvian generals give him a shipment of coke for Lord Henry’s assistant, who is embarrassed that it’s Alexander who has brought it to him, sees that Alexander sees what it is, and chickens out when he must sign for it.  Alexander tells him he’ll just take it back.

But he keeps these things, which stick casually out of his document box.  And at the Defendory Petros gives him a case of six tennis-ball bombs to be delivered to the Arabs.

Alexandra meets Petros at a café in the park.  Petros pleads passionately; Alexandra declines sweetly.   Petros is interrupted by a call that the plutonium is ready, phones the courier service to have it picked up and resumes pleading.  Alexandra gets a call from the company to pick it up.  She excuses herself, eludes Petros, gets out of drag and goes to a hotel room where a Russian agent gives him the plutonium.  With the assistance of the concierge he opens both cases.

Until now Alexander has been care-free, happy in his own company.  Suddenly he has four morally-loaded packages protruding from his document box—and hesitates.  It’s night.  His dispatcher is on the phone because the clients are in an uproar: where are the packages?

He calls Petros, who is also frantic, and tells him to have his clients meet him at the hydrofoil pier in the morning.  Angeliki hears this and declares to Petros her love for Alexander, which shocks him.

Alexander calls the other numbers on his invoices and says the same thing: meet him at the hydrofoil—a Greek island is an easy place from which to ship cocaine or leave by helicopter.  Then he calls Lord Henry’s terrified assistant and tells him not to worry.

Then he puts the plutonium capsules in the bombs.

At the breakfast table are Lady Emily and Blaine feeding the baby, Lord Henry and his lover, and Portia and the two CIA agents.  Lord Henry’s assistant comes in and confesses his attempt to smuggle cocaine—which he thinks has got Alexander in trouble.

The agents prick up their ears.  Is that the long-haired kid who picked up the bunker plans and disappeared?  (They knew what the printer was doing: they know what goes on in EVERYBODY’S computer.)

The hydrofoil pier.  Three hydrofoils ready to go.  A crowd of waiting passengers.  The Koreans, the Peruvians, the Arabs, the Russian, the CIA agents and Petros and Angeliki patrol, watching the crowd.  The agents spot the Russian and they compare notes.  A taxi pulls up and Alexandra gets out with a suitcase.  No one notices but Petros.  Angeliki berates him for meeting his lover.

In the forest of the crowd Alexandra makes contact with each group, completes the delivery and directs them to an empty boat.  One of the agents follows the Koreans.  The Russian and the other agent follow the Arabs.  The crowd get on the other boats.

Alexandra, spotted by Petros and Angeliki, tries to evade them but they hurry over.  He reveals himself.  Both are shocked out of in-love-ness—but then board the boat!  Alexander protests but Petros has to see to his customers, and he and Angeliki need some time on an island.

As they and the captain and mate cast off, Alexander bids good-bye to his innocence.  They reach ski speed and are gone.

But the captain and mate, charmed by the sea and the light, muse about death and how welcome it would be at this moment.  Indeed the Koreans, the Peruvians, the Arabs, the CIA guys, the Russian—all fulfilled, serenely yearn for death.

Only Petros and Angeliki on the afterdeck argue vivaciously: “I love you!”  “Of course you don’t!”  To prove it he jumps overboard and shouts it from the waves.  She looks around for help but everybody’s dreaming about death, so she jumps in too.

The Arabs, predictably, play baseball with the bombs.  On shore Alexandra turns away from the flash.  Petros and Alexandra, still arguing as they swim toward an island, don’t even see the mushroom cloud.

©2003, Library of Congress.  All rights reserved. 

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