Night falls on the roof (CRASH!).
In a shadowy corner, by the light of a dim petroleum fire, Tar-man
enacts a solemn ritual.
"O key, thou hast today proven
thyself worthy to be named Useful, a key not forgotten but imbued
with that self-same importance with which the very best keys of the
ages have been possesséd. I hereby grant thee thy validity, and
empower thee to take thy place on the ring with these others,
helping to fight against those who would deny or limit access. Like
thy Master, thou art now granted the freedom to penetrate thy
particular portal with thy fellows and thy keeper--Tar-man!"
Several days earlier. Tar-man has
been called upon to do roof-related work inside a theater. From one
tar-soaked pocket issues an old rusty ring of keys, barely
recognizable. He tries every key on the door to the projection booth…
One after another, all fail.
Discouraged, Tar-man sits on a
toilet and ponders. Too late, he remembers who he is, but the damage
is done. Tar clogs the toilet like a rubber stopper. He shuffles to
the closet for the plunger…
Again he tries each key on the
ring, but no use.
Enraged, he stalks frantically back
and forth, in and out of the theater, finally finding a certain
peace in the cool, blank darkness before the screen, which glows
softly like a brief current through the gloom.
As if in a dream, Tar-man makes his
way to the locksmith for he knows not what reason.
He doesn't look up at the passersby
who stare in amazement. Hasn't he been judged by them a thousand
times before? PAH! Who needs the weak? Let them stoop half a
lifetime on a roof and see which ones can take it. None!
"Only I, Tar-man, am able to
withstand all! ALL!"
He slushes into the locksmith's
shop, the pathetic remnants of a dozen keys held sadly in his
blackened hands. He doesn't know what to do, why he came…
He holds them out, praying inwardly
"What is it you want, roofer?
WHAT!? Speak up! Woudja knock off that infernal mumbling, I can't
hear a damn word!"
Tar-man flees, humiliated.
Back on the roof, Tar-man is
despondent, but some hidden stubbornness persists, as he searches
his mind for some forgotten clue that will locate the missing key.
Night falls on the roof (CRASH!)
as, softly, Tar-man begins to emerge from his reverie.
"Maybe…something in the
All alone and ugly, reeking of
petroleum in all of its forms and almost unrecognizable through its
black-streaked finish, the tar truck waits.
Breaking open the terminally locked
glove compartment with a rusty crowbar, Tar-man produces from the
recesses a nondescript ring with three keys, long-forgotten and all
Neither Tar-man nor the keys really
have any hope that this will be the solution.
When the theater closes for the
night, Tar-man steals through the darkened lobby to the bathroom and
One by one he tries the keys. His
futility grows, an invisible stage manager drawing a shadow curtain
in his head, until finally…
The key glows, grail-like, and the
shadows retreat. For now.
A solemn procession to the roof,
where a dim torch is lit.
Tar-man ennobles the triumphant
key, and places it in a spot of honor with its new fellows.
"Thou hast proven this day
before Tar-man that thou deservest not to be melted down for scrap
nor added to a Synthetic Cubist's canvas for trompe l'oeil, but
shall be elevated so that all those desiring access shall look upon
thee with favor and gladness. Kneel, key. I dub thee 'Useful'."