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Stop the Truck

written by Joe Jordan
directed by Jaime Robledo
(ep. 9 directed by Joe Jordan & Jaime Robledo)

Come for the coffee. Stay for the pie.

A sequel to Truckstop

Next Time: Episode 12
Original Run: 9 eps, 1/20/18 - 3/17/18
Playoffs Run began 4/7/18

Episode One (1/20/18)

Summary: The Red Tie Man asks us to question the nature of reality. At the truckstop, Marvin awakens - and has no idea how long he's been asleep. His dreams were full of falling fire, and his memory seems scrambled and piecemeal. Dougal has also had a bad dream, which he doesn't want to talk about, so instead he talks about his stamp collection - which is also a source of very bad memories. Marvin asks Red about Carly and LoAnne - and Red is taken aback. She upbraids him for even asking a question like that, given what happened. To calm Marvin, Red serves him some huckleberry pie, which she says he ordered - surprising her, as he's never ordered it before. The information is apparently a surprise to Marvin as well. But the pie vanishes before he can eat it, so he orders another. The pie, they learn, is being stolen by Junko, a sketchy woman who's been shacking up with Starla lately. Meanwhile, something's up with Ramiro, who has become angry and sullen. And there's a frowzy and possibly deranged and homeless woman sitting in the corner who begins asking audience members for a dollar - a request she bellows with scary fervor.

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Photos by Jax Ball

Episode Two (1/27/18)

Summary: The Red Tie Man's musings on reality are interrupted by the frowzy woman, who takes over the narration and questions the reality of everyone around - including the audience. She then sits in the audience to watch the story unfold. Marvin's ready to be on his way. Starla shows up looking for Junko - who is subsequently led into the truckstop by Deputy Pongo. Junko, who only speaks Japanese, is dressed in silver and thinks she's a truck. As she dashes off, Starla inquires as to Pongo's health, and he says the bullet in his head is still causing him pain... and giving him visions of things that haven't happened yet. Starla listens in horror as he describes a vision in which Starla is sitting, terrified, on the hood of a truck that's going faster and faster. But when he tries to identify the driver, he doubles over in pain. Starla desperately wants to know if the driver is Gunner, but Pongo can't answer. Suddnely, Marvin bursts back in, shouting that his truck is missing. "Well, that makes no damn sense at all!" exclaims the frowzy woman.

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Photos by Scott Golden

Episode Three (2/3/18)

Summary: New waitress Kris reports seeing Marvin's truck on the side of the road a few miles away... and it was on fire... but wasn't actually burning. Starla demands again for Pongo to tell her who the driver was - was it Gunner? Is he back? - but Deputy Pongo can't answer. Red warns Kris not to get mixed up with the people who come into the truckstop... especially not the truckers. And the frowzy woman appears and tells Kris that she is "the key" - then smirks to the audience that that sounds important, huh? Meanwhile, Dougal meets Junko, who currently believes herself to be a cat - a magical cat who can make things appear and disappear. And then Marvin storms in and punches Dougal in the face, asking him to explain himself...

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Photos by Scott Golden

Episode Four (2/10/18)

Summary: Red is staring at her hand intently, flexing it; something's odd, but she can't tell what. Kris tells Red that Marvin almost got into a fight with Dougal, but they and Junko suddenly just walked off into the distance. Red has to reassure Starla once more than Gunner isn't ever coming back, but Starla thinks otherwise - and she admits that although she's mostly frightened, she's also kind of excited. When Red is alone and closing up, the frowzy woman arrives and gives Red a message - "This is my world" - which she makes Red repeat several times. And then a vision of the long-gone, possibly dead Carly floats by and warns Red not to let them find her. The Diva appears and sings of a river of sorrows, and does a wistful dance with Carly, who then ascends into the sky. And Red suddenly seems to be seized by some sort of demonic power - starting with her hand - and declares, "This is MY world."

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Photos by Nathan Wellman

Episode Five (2/17/18)

Summary: FBI Detective Neely show up to investigate... something... though her lines of questioning don't seem to lead much of anywhere. She takes an interest in Deputy Pongo, as well as in the damn fine cup of coffee she's served. Pongo explains about the bullet in his head and his visions, and says that the doctors originally told him it would be dangerous to remove the bullet... but are now telling him that if he doesn't get it taken out soon, he could be in excruciating, constant pain for the rest of his life. When Detective Neely has a chance to ask questions that could get her some answers, she simply leaves, saying she'll be back to ask those questions later. Starla and Junko arrive; Starla is frustrated with Junko, who is now pretending to be (or actually thinks she is?) Dougal. She's wearing Dougal's clothes... and, mysteriously, has the keys to his truck. Red enters, apparently possessed, her hand twitching. She barks orders at everyone that they are powerless to obey and demands that Pongo stop holding out. When he protests he doesn't know the answer to her questions, she smashes his head into the table... and we see a vision, in flashback, of Carly coming to Pongo for help. This is before the bullet wound. Carly is terrified because Gunner is coming and he means to do people harm, and though she begs for Pongo's help, she ultimately realizes he can't help her. But Pongo doesn't realize that. Gunner enters with Starla - his hand twitching like Red's - and when Pongo draws his gun on him, Gunner takes control of Pongo and forces him to point the gun at the back of his own head. There is a blackout, then a gunshot...

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Photos by Aaron Francis

Episode Six (2/24/18)

Summary: The frowzy woman derides the audience for wanting explanations for things, deeming the impulse "sick." As she settles in to show us a flashback from before the horror began, she warns us that this will explain nothing. Carly is falling in love with Marvin, who tells her straight up that he has to keep rambling on. It's Red's first day, and Carly warns her not to get attached to a trucker. Gunner stops by, and Starla is instantly attracted to him. As he settles in for some coffee and pie, the Red Tie Man arrives and sits down with him. He doesn't want pie - "I do not have... hunger" - but he does want coffee. He then grabs Gunner's hand, and Gunner begins screaming in pain while the Red Tie Man tells him that the dark is hungry for the light. Cut to today; Marvin is in bad shape, scratched up from his recent fight. A ghostly apparition of Carly appears with a warning. And the Red Tie Man and the frowzy woman suddenly and angrily face off.

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Photos by Ari Radousky

Episode Seven (3/3/18)

Summary: Ramiro is embarrassed when Kris finds him dancing with a mop. She tries to get him to talk, and tell him she's got some stories to tell of her own from when she was working in a slaughterhouse, and a mortuary. Deputy Pongo arrives; he's had brain surgery, and although the pain is gone, he can no longer speak without the assistance of a computerized device. And what they dug out of his brain... was a key. Marvin is also there, looking traumatized. The frowzy woman interrupts, freezing the scene; she says that this may seem important, but none of this matters. She tells Marvin that he's the least real person here... and tells Ramiro that he's the only one who's real. As she unfreezes everyone, Red, drawn by her still-twitching hand, takes the key from Pongo. Gunner, his hand also twitching also enters - and Kris gets a maniacal gleam in her eye. Gunner and Kris surround Marvin; they tell him he's stumbling in the dark, and they're going to give him some light. They both touch him, and he writhes in apparent agony as things suddenly become very, very bright...

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Photos by Cole Wagner

Episode Eight (3/10/18)

Summary: Starla spends the night with Gunner; it's the first time ever that sex hasn't felt like the job it usually is for her. It's been a genuinely intimate experience, and she opens up to him. Gunner seems warm and loving... until he says that bodies are just parts - vessels for the light within. And his hand begins to twitch... and he begins to strangle Starla. Meanwhile, Red's twitching hand and arm are bloody, and she begs a horrified Marvin to cut her hand off with an axe before she completely loses control. When Marvin can't bring himself to do it, Red says she'll do it herself... but she's interrupted by the arrival of the Red Tie Man, who asks for coffee - and addresses the audience, telling us see? it does all make sense after all... all the signs and symbols have pointed to these events. Detective Neely enters; with a snap of her fingers, the Red Tie Man, who apparently serves her, is at her side. And it quickly becomes clear that Neely is not here to help, but will be bringing more horror. As thunderous drums are heard, Junko enters, now dressed as a geisha, as if summoned to take part in some dread ceremony...

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Photos by Luis Chandia

Episode Nine (3/17/18)

Summary: Some time ago: Marvin and Carly share a romantic moment, but she's sad and frustrated that he'll be moving on soon; she points out that he chose the life of a trucker for himself. Before they can talk about this further, a strange man, the Careful Man, arrives... offering Carly a box. She says it contains what she most desires. When Marvin asks him how he'd know that information, the Careful Man says that what Carly wants is clear... but what Marvin wants is not. The box is locked; the Careful Man says the time is not right yet to open it. Now: Detective Neely and the Red Tie Man are unhappy that Junko has arrived, but Junko is now a commanding presence, and is able to freeze the Red Tie Man's attack with a wave of her hand. Red begs Junko for help removing her evil, twitching hand, but Junko tells her that she cannot make herself whole by splitting herself in two... and that what's in her hand is the part of her that most needs love. Detective Neely demands that this dialogue stop; a flurry of confusion and violence occurs, and both the Red Tie Man and Ramiro are lying dead on the ground.

Episode Ten (4/7/18) - Playoffs Round 1!

Summary: A surreal, overlapping recap of the events so far. "Any questions?" asks the frowzy woman.

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Photos by Andrew Joseph Perez

Episode Eleven (4/21/18) - Playoffs Round 2!

Summary: Some time ago, on the day Carly disappeared: a well-dressed woman who looks like the frowzy woman stops by the truckstop, and becomes strangely drawn to the locked box Carly is carrying. When she touches the box, something indefinably odd happens. Carly grabs her box from the woman, who is grasping it tightly, and leaves, looking worried. Today (?): Dougal returns after last having been seen going off to fight Marvin. Only Marvin's still right here. Dougal tells a tale of having a showdown with Marvin as the Red Tie Man, his eyes looking like a goat, looked on. Dougal and Marvin's trucks appeared from nowhere and they drove at each other. And Dougal and Junko temporarily switched consciousnesses. Dougal asks Marvin if any of that actually happened, and Marvin can only reply that reality seems to be questionable at the moment. They all just know that they have to find a river. Red enters with Carly's old box and the key that had been extracted by Pongo's brain, and says it's time to strap in...

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Photos by Travis Snyder-Eaton

Cast

David LM McIntyre Red Tie Man (Eps. 1-2, 4, 6 & 8-11)
Jaime Robledo Ramiro (Eps. 1-5, 7 & 9-10)
Cj Merriman Red (Eps. 1-11)
Eric Curtis Johnson Marvin (Eps. 1-4 & 6-11)
Scott Leggett Dougal (Eps. 1, 3 & 11)
Kazumi Zatkin Junko (Eps. 1-3, 5-6 & 8-11)
Stasha Surdyke The Frowzy Woman (Eps. 1-4, 6-7 & 9-10)
Well-Dressed Woman (Ep. 11)
Paul Plunkett Pongo (Eps. 2-3, 5, 7 & 10)
Jaime Andrews Starla (Eps. 2-6, 8 & 10)
Alejandra Cejudo Kris (Eps. 3-5, 7 & 10)
Libby Baker Carly (Eps. 5-6 & 9-11)
Pat Towne The Diva (Ep. 4)
Michael Shaw Fisher Gunner (Eps. 5-8 & 10)
Tifanie McQueen Det. Neely (Eps. 5-6 & 8-10)
Joe Jordan Careful Man (Ep. 9)
Choreography by Cj Merriman (Ep. 4)