Mumford
written by Lawrence Kasdan

Mumford: Did you know that every species of mammal has found some way to drug inebriate or anesthetize itself? Even if itís just banging itís head against a rock. Seems to be some natural urge to get away for a while. I've had it for as long as I can remember. When I got a scholarship to go out of state to college, I was the first one in my extended family to go beyond high school. At graduation my folks looked like a normal happy couple. Which I guess they were about ten percent of the time out in public. My roommate was from a planet Iíd never heard of called Scarsdale, where everything was the opposite of West Virginia. All the other kids seemed to know things I didnít. They were friendly enough but in four years I never got over the feeling that I had sneaked in and was about to be exposed as the hillbilly and imposter I actually was. The thing that always made those feelings go away was fun. Fun was drugs, fun was sex. The only problem I had with degenerate, self-destructive behavior was that I couldnít get enough of it. Over the next few years I had a series of challenging jobs; pump jockey pizza delivery, pipe fitting, pest controlÖlots of jobs that started with the letter ďP." For some reason, I kept losing these jobs. Eventually doing all these different jobs, I discovered something. For some reason, probably because I was too stoned to talk, everywhere I went people would talk to me. Their problems, their innermost thoughts. Sometimes they pretended they needed advice, but mostly people just wanted someone to listen. Anyway, one day I was spraying for termites when I had a vision. It was time to put my college degree to work and get a job at a desk. I took the civil service exam, found myself working at the Internal Revenue Service: District 14, Central Administrative Office. I started out as a general records clerk, but pretty soon I was taking the advancement test. There was more money to be made as your as your classification went up, which had a lot of appeal to me because, even though I was certain I could stop anytime I wanted, I had developed a real "addiction" to cocaine. It was the best hobby I ever had. But I sure didnít want to be a revenue officer. Where youíre face to face with the public, getting abuse all day long. And being one of the collection cowboys had no appeal at all. But there was one job that looked like it might be fun: Investigator.
Skip: Are you telling me your last job before becoming a psychologist was an investigator for the Internal Revenue Service?
Mumford: Everybody has a story, Skip.
Skip: Seems like you got the variety pack.
Mumford: What it felt like was a series of separate, unconnected lives. Every time Iíd leave a life it felt good. Whatever problems I was having were suddenly gone. I had no friends and I didnít talk to my family. The only constant stabilizing force in my life was drugs.
Skip: An IRS investigator with a drug problem.
Mumford: I got teamed with one of the top guys; this fanatic named Gregory. He always got his man, whether they deserved it or not. He was a closer, and everybody admired that. Heíd make the case and the collection guys would come in and clean up. Our specialty was sleazy skulking. We were a great team. I was a dope addict, Gregory was insane. Course him being insane didnít make it all right that I fell in love with his wife, Candy.
Skip: Holy shit.
Mumford: Get to know your therapist.
Skip: You were messed up, man.
Mumford: Things got a lot worse. The best way to get money out of a taxpayer was to intimidate them. Which meant building up a convincing case, whether theyíd actually done anything wrong or not. Thatís where we came in. Our district officer was pushing us hard to make a case against a furniture maker named Edmund Warris and his family. We were getting so much pressure, Gregory started acting more and more irrational. We were breaking into their warehouses, into their files. Doing things that were over the line even for the IRS. When I look back on it now, Iím sure Gregory must have known about Candy and me, and it probably made him even crazier. What was scary was that on our team, I had become the responsible one. When the Warris case looked like it might not add up to anything, Gregory and the district manager put the squeeze on Warrisís accountant, this guy called Gorbeck. There arenít too many accountants who donít have something to worry about with the Service. Gorbeck decided to help. Warris said heíd done nothing wrong and threatened to fight it all the way to Washington. I was secretly pulling for him. He didnít expect his accountant to turn on him. Gregory and the district manager stepped up the pressure. What none of us down at the Service knew was that Edmund Warris had a story too. His was that heíd been fighting chronic depression for thirty years. Under the heat of the investigation, he fell off his medication. One Tuesday morning he went down to the factory, wrote his family a letter, then used a nine millimeter automatic they kept there to kill himself. The district manager decided to blame us. He dropped the case that day, then started proceedings to get rid of Gregory and me. Gregory went home drunk and beat up Candy. Candy told me she didnít want to see me again. She hated us both and she was leaving us both. It made perfect sense to me. A decent man was dead and some of it was my fault. Whatever this was it felt like the bottom. I wanted to leave too, just like Candy. Get as far away fromÖme as possible.
Skip: And so you did. And the drugs?
Mumford: Harder than I thought. On my third try I found this place in the desert. It was run by an order of monks. And it worked.
Skip: What about the name? Mumford. I mean why pick the name of the town you were going to?
Mumford: Youíve got it backwards. I already had the name when I started looking for somewhere to settle. When I saw this town on a map, I thought maybe it was a sign. See, Mickey Mumford was in Miss Riceís kindergarten class with me. He was killed with his parents in a car-wreck on their way back from a Steelerís game. He was only six years old, which was a real plus so thereís a birth certificate if anyone checks but not much else.
Skip: And a birth certificateís all it takes?
Mumford: Everything flows from there. And was doesnít can be easily purchased. Of course my IRS training made it easier. Once youíve done that, thereís not much data you canít access and use anyway you want. In a free society, you are who you say you are. If you screwed up one life, sometimes you get another shot.

Kudos and much thanks go to NAME for this monologue , it is very much appreciated.