Bill McNeal sat back and relaxed. He was tired but content, it was a good day on the set. He enjoyed his job as a radio personality and couldn't ask for a
better bunch of people to work with. “Good times indeed.” he muttered to himself as he began to drift off to sleep.|
“What the hell?!” he sat up straight. It felt like an earthquake had run through the house. He looked around and all 'seemed' normal at first. But something just didn't feel right. “Hey Phil, wake up! I think you'd better check on the kids. See, this is what you get for living in California. Damn earthquakes!” Phil didn't move. Bill looked down and saw why. There was blood, blood everywhere and it was on him! And there was Brynn, gun in hand staggering around the room. For a moment Bill didn't move. He didn't even know if he could. “Bitch” was the only word that repeated in his head, over and over. “I knew she would do this, I just knew it.” he sat there terrified, “Now what?”
The cast of NewsRadio assembled at the reading table, unable to speak. Joe glanced at Phil's empty chair and balled his hand into a fist. He wanted to hit someone or something. Dave stared blankly into space as if waiting for the nightmare to end and for someone to shake him back into reality. No one could speak. No one knew what to say. What do you say when you have just found out that a good friend has been murdered. They looked at each other... searched each others faces for a little bit of sanity in this insane atmosphere.
“How could this happen?” Vicki said, her voice trailing off. “I just saw him a few days ago!”
Stephen cried forcefully, tears streaming down his face “He told me he'd see me in a few months!”
Joe suddenly stood up and headed toward the side. 'FUCK!' he yelled out right before his fist connected with the wall. He fell to his knees and sobbed.
Bill watched all this in horror from his chair “Hey gang!” he whistled, “Hey guys, I'm right here!” How he got there he wasn't quite sure. All he knew was that when Phil died he seemed to be able to go wherever he pleased. And being Bill McNeal the first place he was pleased to go to was Maura's bedroom. He had always wanted to see Lisa naked, and now his chance had come. He enjoyed that little jaunt immensely. It was (as his character would say) very 'delicious.' In fact this whole 'out of body experience' was getting to be a lot of fun up until this point. It suddenly wasn't fun anymore.
“Matthew?” Bill glanced over to where Andy sat, but Andy wasn't really all there either. He had gotten totally wasted when he heard the news and had to be more or less carried from his home to the studio. “Hey spaz, come on now, wake up.” Bill begged, but Andy couldn't have heard him even if he had been clean and sober. No one could hear or see Bill. The puppeteer was gone, and without him the puppet's strings were as good as cut.
“....take care of each other and I'll see you all when you get to wherever it is I am now.” Dave recited the words while choking back tears. It was only rehearsal but this was the 3rd time they had tried to get through this part. Every time they tried they broke down, again and again. “Hey, I remember writing those letters. At least....I think I do...” Bill said to himself. Lately his memory was getting a bit fuzzy. He found it harder and harder to concentrate on the things going on around him. He felt like he had more important things to do but he didn't know what they were. Most of all he wanted to get back on the air! Seeing his old friend Max and knowing that he took his job both hurt and heartened him. Max always had a hard time with jobs so he was glad, on the one hand that Dave gave him a steady position. On the other hand he wanted to wring his neck! 'No one could ever take my place' he thought to himself with a smirk on his face, 'and at least they had the decency to keep a picture of me from that magazine cover framed in Dave's office!' Bill went over to the picture and out of habit reached his hand down to pick it up off the table.
“What the hell?!” was the collective remark when the photo of Phil hit the floor. No one had been near it at the time. “Did you see that?” Khandi gasped. It hadn't even been near the edge of the table. It was if it was pushed. The cast and crew all looked from the frame on the floor to each other.
“Whoa,” Bill said out loud, “how the hell did I do that?!”
“You had a little help.” a familiar voice said in his ear.
Bill spun around. It was the first time ANYONE had spoken directly to him in quite a while. What he saw put a smile on his face. Phil stood there next to him, smiling right back.
“Oh man, it sure is nice to see you again!” Bill said, “I never thought I would have missed someone so much!”
“Good to see you too, Bill, especially since you never should have left me in the first place.” Phil's smile grew even broader, “All the others stayed put... Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure. Hell, even the unfrozen caveman lawyer stuck around but noooooo, not Bill McNeal.” He took a step closer to Bill. “So I had to come back for you. Yep, I had to interrupt my resting in peace to fetch the one remaining part of me that flew the coop.” Phil put a hand on Bill's shoulder tenderly.
“But... but Phil, I don't want to leave these guys. They're my friends.” Bill looked around the room, “and besides, what would they do without me, without the great Bill McNeal?!”
“Survive.” Phil said gently, “They will get by. But they will never forget us, I promise.”
“Are you sure, Phil?” Bill mumbled, knowing full well that Phil always knew better than him.
“Of course I'm sure. Hell, even now there are people out there writing stories about you and me. We won't go gently into that goodnight if our fans have anything to say about it.”
(with this the writer begins to feel very eerie ;-)
Their discourse is interrupted by Dave, who reaches through Phil to pick up the picture. He fumbles with it for a moment and then sets it back up on the table.
“What's wrong man?” Joe says, “you look a little weird.”
“Like I just saw a ghost, maybe?” Dave's voice is shaky. He sits on the floor next to the table and looks up at the spot where Phil is standing. For one fleeting moment their eyes meet.
“Did you see that, gang? Oh, please someone tell me you saw that.” Dave begins to cry. He doesn't know if he is happy, sad or insane. All he knows is that for one brief second, he saw Phil. He reaches up and grips the picture off the table and hugs it to him.
“I think we just said goodbye, Bill.” Phil told him, “We've got places to go and people to see, so let's get moving.”
Phil puts his arm around Bill's shoulders and begins to lead him towards the wall. Suddenly another figure pops into view.
“I can take it from here, Phil.” the man said, holding a pad and pencil in his hand.
“Hey! I know you, you're Latka... from that TV series Taxi.” Bill was overjoyed, “I have always been a big fan of yours!”
Phil smiles at the old Andy Kaufman character, knowing that Bill will be well taken care of where he is going.
“Hey Bill, we can do lunch sometime, I'll give you a call.” Phil smiled as Bill begins to fade away with Latka.
“Yeah, sure...” Bill is too excited to notice “Hey,” he says to Latka, “let me tell you about the time I worked for the CIA. Oh, now THAT is a good one...”
Phil smiles as he watches him go.
“You always were a pompous ass.”