Monday, December 14, 2009
Anyway, he was in a play called Equivocation. It was very good, if you like Shakespeare, I suggest you read it. There's only one female part, but it's a good part, but there's only one female part. That happens a lot in theater... ah well.
Still don't feel 100%, obviously. Maybe breakfast will help.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Craig Steele (M)
Dr. Albright (F)
Mr. Steele (M)
Setting: Psychiatrist’s office (desk, two chairs, one in front, and one behind it, couch)
Dr. Albright is sitting behind the desk, Craig is sitting in front of it facing her.
Craig: Come on, Doctor, you can’t be serious.
Albright: I am completely serious. There’s nothing wrong with you.
Craig: Look, there’s gotta be something.
Albright: You must accept that this is who you are. (Pause) How long have you been coming to see me, Craig?
Craig: Four months, but—
Albright: Twice a week for four months. And your initial complaint?
Craig: Well, nothing really definite.
Albright: When you walked into this office for your first appointment, for what reason were you seeking help?
Craig: Bad dreams.
Craig: I would get nauseous in public for no reason.
Craig: (Lamely) That’s it.
Albright: And do you still have bad dreams?
Craig: I don’t remember. That’s the problem!
Albright: Do you still experience nausea?
Craig: No, but—
Albright: Then my work here is done. As long as you stay on the medication, life can continue as normal. You should be relieved.
Craig: Well I’m not! I’m worse, I know it!
Albright: Is this an unrelated problem?
Craig: Not exactly.
Albright: If it is an unrelated problem to the previous issues we have been addressing, you need to talk to my secretary and she can fix you up with a new set of appointments—
Craig: No, no, it’s related! It fits right in.
Albright: We can discuss this at our next meeting. If you could just go to front desk—
Craig: Dr. Albright! Listen to what I am telling you!
Albright: All right, Craig. I’m listening. Perhaps I’ll be able to recommend a new psychiatrist.
Craig: No, it has to be you.
Albright: We’ll see about that.
Craig: Please, doctor. I’m asking you on a professional level, as a patient. Something is not right with my head and, well, I think it might have something to do with the—the work we’ve done here.
Albright: I hope you’re not blaming the practice, or, Heaven forbid, me personally for this new development.
Craig: No! Well, maybe. I think it has had something to do with it.
Albright: Let’s think of this as progress being made.
Craig: I don’t know about that… things have certainly changed, but I’m not convinced that they’re for the better.
Albright: Perhaps this is a minor side effect to the drugs we have you on. I believe the pharmaceutical company lists dizziness, loss of appetite, and minor insomnia among typical side effects. Are you experiencing anything of that nature?
Craig: Nothing like that at all.
Albright: Odd. Please continue.
Craig: Here’s the deal. I think I might legitimately be going crazy.
Albright: I pride myself to think that I would have known that even before you did. I’m a trained professional.
Craig: Yeah, but this is serious. Like, weird shit.
Albright: Would you care to elaborate? Here, why don’t you take a nice lie-down? (She indicates the couch. There is already someone lounging there.)
Albright: Something wrong?
Craig: Yes! This is exactly what I’m talking about!
Albright: I don’t believe you ever fully explained.
Craig: (Slightly hysterical) You’re right, I haven’t been dreaming so much, I’ve been sleeping better, no problems there. I wake up and I don’t remember a thing, I might as well have been in a coma. But then I open my eyes and I wake up to shit like this!
Albright: There is nothing there, Craig. What do you see?
Craig: I know there isn’t! But… I see my dad, but he doesn’t exactly look like my dad, he’s—not quite right.
Steele: Catch, boy! (He pelts a hacky sack at Craig.)
Craig: Ow! Shit!
Albright: What happened?
Craig: Bastard threw a beanbag at me! Look! (He picks up hacky sack and shows it to her.)
Albright: Very nice. Your father is in the room now?
Steele: (Wildly) Meow, oh baby! What a sweet rack o’ lamb! Come to papa!
Craig: Hey, that’s my shrink you’re talking about! He just insulted you.
Albright: Oh? What did he say?
Craig: (Embarrassed) Oh, he was just being lewd.
Albright: How long as he been in the room?
Craig: I only noticed him when I turned around. He could have followed me in for all I know. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you: I used to dream about him the most, especially when the treatment started. And it’s like he’s jumped out of the movie screen and into my lap.
Albright: You know, our dreams are manifestations of our deep-seated fears and desires, come to life by simply taking on that which is familiar to us in our waking hours.
Craig: Yeah, but they’re not supposed to walk around and talk smack and throw shit.
Albright: What do you think your father represents for you? Your fears or your desires?
Craig: I don’t know. When I was a kid I really admired him, he was always such a big guy, always joking and causing trouble, but it was basically harmless.
Albright: Clearly some negative impression has been left in your psyche.
Craig: Well, yeah, it’s dumb… I think I let him down. I couldn't be that crazy dude, it just didn’t feel right.
Steele: Boy! I said catch! (Throws another hacky sack, Craig reacts as if intent on ignoring him.)
Albright: Perhaps your fear and desire is, in this case, one in the same: that you might some day turn into your father.
Craig: Well, I don’t want to be him, that’s for sure.
Albright: Why not?
Steele: Yeah, why not? You ungrateful brat! Never knew how to take a chance.
Albright: Go on, Craig.
Craig: Right, sorry. He’s distracting.
Albright: Has he always been this distracting?
Craig: Well, yeah, he—
Albright: Or this alluring?
Craig: Alluring? What are you talking about?
Steele: Oh, yeah, that’s right, you know you want a piece o’ big papa.
Albright: Please continue.
Craig: Wait, what did… Nevermind. What was the question?
Albright: Why don’t you want to be your father?
Craig: He just wasn’t… wasn’t that great a guy. When I got older I realized that he’d always sort of treated me like crap. It was like he was waiting for me to grow up, but then when I did, he didn’t like what he saw. I always felt like this massive disappointment.
Steele: And for good reason, ya twerp! Be a man for once in your life!
Albright: And so you suppressed your feelings of self-loathing and shame.
Craig: Hey, I never said that, that’s taking it a little far—
Albright: Because you couldn’t live up to your exciting, sexy, voracious hunk of a father. Not even close.
Steele: Gimme a little challenge, sweet thing, you’re making this too easy. (She lets her hair down/unbuttons top button and perches herself on the desk invitingly.) But I’m no fool. (He goes to embrace her.)
Craig: No! No! This is wrong! All wrong!
Steele: Outta my way, kid. (He knocks Craig aside and goes to Albright, who beckons him into her arms. Craig falls to the floor and curls up in a ball.)
Albright: Come to mama! Go on to bed, Junior. (She and Steele start giggling and doing things that would lead to naughtier things if the scene were to keep going. [This can involve kissing lips, neck, arm, whatever the actors are comfortable with].)
Craig: Yes, mommy. (He crawls onto the couch and curls up on his side, as…)
Friday, November 13, 2009
Dinosaurs don’t write books. Imagine, if you will, a tyrannosaurus Rex straining his tiny insufficient arms to manipulate the functions of a typewriter (because if dinosaurs did write books, which they don’t, they would use typewriters, not computers or laptops, because they’re old school). What would a dinosaur write about? A: boring things like food supply and the bright orb in the big open (for that is what the sky is, at its most basic being). They might discuss the new babies that hatched in the spring, and how big they’ve got to be. I’m glad that I’m not a dinosaur. Opposable thumbs, for one thing. But if I was a dinosaur, I wouldn’t know what opposable thumbs are in the first place, so I wouldn’t have known to miss them. Nor would I want to be part of one of the generations around when the major life forms on this planet went extinct. The terrifying prospect that in a few years, everyone I know might be dead. Well, that could happen to anyone, and if I was dead, too, that wouldn’t be so bad. But I doubt that’s what dinosaurs thought about. Odds are it was more about survival, just keep walking until the group finds water. Stick together to not get picked off by the predators. Just… keep… going. A lot of people are like dinosaurs, then, if you think about it that way. Living to the next paycheck, the next oasis. Another reason I don’t want to be a dinosaur. (Got stuck) This started out kind of lighthearted, even funny, and got very morbid very quickly. That usually happens when I write things. Well, to be fair, the subject of this entry went extinct suddenly and no one knows for dead-sure why. Ha, dead-sure. No more puns, I promise. Part of me can’t get over that these get read aloud. My actor brain gets all toney and stuff. It doesn’t feel as pure.
I wish there was a machine that could record a person’s dreams, to be rewound and studied. The closest I can do is set up a camera while I sleep and hit “record” all night. I talk in my sleep, you see. I’ve always been very curious to know what I say. Part of me is scared, and I’m not sure if I want to know that much about myself.
Affection. I love affection, which is I guess the point. Since there are babies everywhere, let’s go with that. I can’t remember where I heard this, probably in a play, but one of the characters was staying pregnant so she could have someone to love her unconditionally. Sadly, when I’ve thought about having kids, that’s one of the “reasons” that have crossed my mind. More than once. But it doesn’t work like that. Sure, the baby loves the mother, has to, or it will die. But after a little while all sorts of things could stir the rebellion of mistrust and fear that lead to loathing. But for a little while, that baby loves you in the most selfish and adorable way it can, by demanding you attention in every way it can think of.
My cousin’s girlfriend is pregnant. I can’t make the baby shower (the first one I’ve ever been invited to) and I’m almost glad. She’s my age. My mom got pregnant with my sister when she was 19, and she got pregnant with my first nephew when she was 20. That scares the crap out of me. Since I was in the 8th grade I’ve always told myself I didn’t want to get married until I was thirty. Eighth grade. That’s a little early to start my life plan. When I was in eighth grade I started writing. My journals from then have what I called “fantasies”, little short stories about meeting cute boys at movie theaters or dances where I know just what to say, and he kisses my cheek before slipping me his phone number. Of course, they were always very unlikely situations. I’ve never met anyone at a movie theater. I’ve just moved on to meeting people at coffee shops, and that’s the height of clichés. Of course, the last person I met at a coffee shop turned out to be an arrogant douche bag, but that’s what you’d expect at a coffee shop. Coffee snobs are some of the most arrogant people on the planet, especially ones with ponytails.
To bring this back to babies, how am I supposed to find someone I’d be okay with making a baby with? One thing I hope I never have to say with derision: “You’re just like your father,” or, “she gets it from you, you know.” That doesn’t inspire affection much, does it?
Casper sat in bumper to bumper traffic, releasing and compressing the break pedal. He looked forward to the magical time where he might—oh, just might-get to accelerate. The benefits of the graveyard shift presented themselves to him for the first time. No rush hour. Casper fiddled with his power windows and time to the song of the week on the radio. He used to love driving. The first few years with his license had been full of road trips up and down the coast and aimless wandering. He only worked enough to keep his gas tank full. Driving at night was best, speeding down the freeway at 90 miles an hour. That was freedom. God, he hadn’t done that in years. Here he was, sitting in his hot car, work shirt stuck to his back with sweat. His tie and briefcase lay discarded in the back seat. When he was a teenager only assassins and lawyers carried briefcases. Turns out they’re just glorified backpacks. Casper scoffed and tried to look at the driver in the car next to his without him noticing he was being watched. He needn’t have worried. The other man was yammering away into a Bluetooth. “Douche bag,” Casper muttered. He hated those little blinking earpieces. They reminded him of those anklets that prisoners wear. In prison. He shook his head at the poor sap. “He’s too far sucked into the system,” he thought. The nearly irresistible urge to burst out of his car and run naked between the lanes overtook him. “Would certainly change my evening plans. Ha, what plans?” he thought sadly. Nothing was waiting for him but his laptop and a microwave dinner. Not even a potted plant.
This was not what Casper imagined when he had answered that stupid interview question: Where do you see yourself in five years? He always preferred to “see” himself doing something cool, like wrestling bears, or… something.
He sighed. This was his life. He looked out the other window. A young woman with purple hair winked at him. He straightened in his seat, and then jumped as the car behind him honked. Traffic was moving forward. Finally. Acceleration.
I went to the beach recently. The ocean is so big to my mind, there’s really no way I can think of it in any way that comes close to describing it’s girth and richness. Mostly the first thing I think about is how cold it is, and the fact that sharks don’t like to eat people, but we look deceptively like seals when we “ride the waves”. Needless to say, I prefer to stay on the sand. At most I’ll roll up my jeans and get my legs wet up to my knees. When the bottoms of the rolled up material gets wet, unrolling it is like discovering temporary tie-dye full of sand and saltwater.
I don’t like how winder the shore is, most of the time. When my hair was shorter, there was no way to keep it out of my face. Now that it’s longer I love the feel of it flowing behind me (like in British romance novels centered around the Cliffs of Dover).
But the thing I love most about the beach is the illusion of the curve of the earth. Only recently did I really figure out that the curve is created only by my perspective of looking out to as far as I can see, not as I believed for years by the grand curve of the planet we live on. It’s really a beautiful thing, and it catches me breathless every time.
Countless poems have done their best to capture the beauty of the waves. Just today I read a quote from Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray: “Beauty is beyond explanation and cannot be denied.” Well, it was basically that. That made me think of the waves. I could spend hours at the beach wrapped in a blanket and squinting at the blurred line of the horizon. That reminds me of the edge of the world, as the ancients knew it. What must that be like? Falling into… nothing? Until the fabled End of Days. That’s not necessarily death.
In any case, the waves are beautiful. Overcast days are the best. On sunny days everything is too clear. When it’s cloudy, lines blur and fuzz together, almost like a dream. And then the sand on the wind slaps you in the face and you remember—the metaphorical you—I remembered that this is life. This is living, and I love it. The rest of it is living too, but I remembered it then. Ha, that’s a funny thought. People get so wrapped up in “living in the now” that they begin to take it for granted, no, that’s not write. It’s like becoming so intent on thinking outside the box that you build up walls to keep the box out, all while making your own around you.
Again, the metaphorical you. Just so everyone feels included. How inflammatory. Everyone everywhere connected by the metaphorical you.
The written word. Yesterday I was amazed (the phrase I used at the time was “You just broke my brain”) to discover electronic books. An iPod of literature rather than music. That is the future. The future is now. No, now is now. Or, if the future is now, so is the past. Time turners from Harry Potter come to mind effortlessly. Back to the books. Used bookstores have a great smell; that is, unless you’re allergic to cats. Do you ever open a book in the middle just to breathe in the papery must? Oh, I like that. E-books may be the future—push a button to turn the page—but you can’t put a post-it in an e-book page. Apple is probably already developing the application for some such thing Ever a solution from the mind of science. Ugh. Let it go. Open a book. Write in the margin. Highlight. Underline. That’s one of the great things about used books. Turning in a used book that you’ve written in is like reaching out to an invisible friend you don’t have yet. “Hey, I thought this was a cool quote, what do you think?” I can remember once while in high school, I blacked out a phrase that just angered me so much. I could refer back to it and remember it word for word. Try doing that to a screen.
Perhaps further in the future books will die out to be replaced entirely by knowledge machines. But not in my lifetime. Thank God for that. I can picture an old man in a big red leather armchair, surrounded by bookcases with volumes upon volumes in stacks everywhere. In the background is a window with the shades drawn. To protect the delicate pages from the harmful light. Habit, by now. He really need not bother. The smog and dust outside are filter enough for his antiques, his precious books. I hope there will be enough people like the old man in his library of historical gold. The word “library” would become synonymous with “museum”. He lives, nay, clings to the past, with the skin of his teeth, whatever that means.
There is a charm that is lost in pixels. Ink and paper is my preferred method of passing on pieces of myself.
Is writing like what nice people say about giving? The more you write, the more you know? Sure. That makes me feel a lot better about things in general.
But who says you have to know anything to write? Well, you don’t have to, but we can’t help it.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
As a queen, I know no way to conquer him.
As a women, I may woo him with garlands.
As a widow, I hold back for fear of him.
As a sister, praise for him falls from my lips.
As a wife, my gift to him is my devotion.
He makes me his whore.
He abandons me.
He does not look back.
What can I but rage?
And then, condemn?
At last, dispair.
Sweet motherly Juno,
Who oversaw our union,
I implore you from my pyre,
Grace my with your mercy:
Cut my spirit from my body
So that I may fulfull my dire promise.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
SOUND CUE: SILENT NIGHT sung by Johnny Cash
SOUND CUE: BELL
(SEAN BAKER sits in a solitary 24-hour diner with his back to the door, sipping from a plain white mug. It is Christmas Eve; everyone is with family and friends, asleep or partying. He was not invited. He contemplates his utter lack of companionship as a WAITRESS enters with a fresh pot of coffee.)
WAITRESS: Can I top ya off, hun?
SEAN: (As he offers his mug to her) You’re not gonna kick me out? Don’t you have someplace to go to?
WAITRESS: Why do you think I work this shift every year? There’s always at least one lonely mug to talk to.
SEAN: That would be me, would it?
WAITRESS: That’s the plan.
SEAN: Buzz off, will ya?
WAITRESS: I’ll come back when you’re in a more peace-and-brotherhood mood. (She exits.)
(SEAN sips at his coffee, pulls a face, then takes a deeper draw as HELEN BAKER walks in from behind him. She stands over him for a second, then lays a hand on his shoulder. He doesn’t notice, but after a moment, he shows signs of being uncomfortable. She moves to sit across from him, placing her coat on her chair before she sits down.)
HELEN: Hello, Sean. How have you been?
SEAN: Helen! Jesus, hi! It’s been, what? Five, six years?
HELEN: Six and a half, actually.
SEAN: Wow, that long? Shit… Anyway, I’ve been (hesitates) great, I guess. And you?
HELEN: Oh, ups and downs.
SEAN: Well, an up is an up, right? That’s gotta mean you’re getting somewhere.
HELEN: Slowly. The downs are incredibly draining, and the ups are so… brief.
SEAN: (Suddenly bitter, but trying to mask it with false cheer) It could be worse. Look at me. I mean, it’s Christmas, and what have I got to show for it?
HELEN: (kindly) I’m here.
SEAN: Right, I’m sorry. Look, did you have something you wanted to say?
HELEN: I’m on one of my downs at the moment.
SEAN: Do I look like I can be lending out cash to whoever comes up dry? We’re family and all but I’ve gotta have a place to stay at the end of the day, and that means being careful about who I do business with. I’ve been working my ass off to get in with a legit group of people, and you better believe it wasn’t easy. I could really be going places. Who knows, in a few months I could have a few people reporting to me, before anyone else. Things are looking up in a big way, and I--
HELEN: Damn it Sean I didn’t come here to talk about your business politics or to ask for your money.
SEAN: Oh. Well, spit it out.
HELEN: There’s something else I need your help with. It’s a little complicated, but your part is simple.
SEAN: Alright, give me the short version.
HELEN: You have someplace else to be? (Pause.) Just drink your crappy cup of coffee and hear me out.
(SEAN indicates that she continue, but leaves the mug untouched.)
HELEN: All you need to do… You need to call Mom.
HELEN: Come on-
SEAN: She sent you, didn’t she?
HELEN: It’s not like that—
SEAN: You can’t play me that easy--
HELEN: She’s dying, Sean!
HELEN: You don’t mean that.
SEAN: Everyone dies, Helen.
HELEN: You’re telling me that? We haven’t talked in years, and you never bothered to check up to see how I was or any of it. Not once. What kind of brother are you? For all you know I could have died.
SEAN: Well that obviously didn’t happen. (Pause.) Anyway, what did she ever do for me, huh? I left for a reason.
HELEN: They miss you!
SEAN: And that’s supposed to make a difference, how?
HELEN: You won’t even pay your last respects?
SEAN: I lost my respect for them a long time ago.
HELEN: What have they done to you?
SEAN: It’s what they didn’t do that—
HELEN: Not Mom and Dad, Sean. Them. That new crowd you run with.
SEAN: They made me wise.
HELEN: You’re a fool. You’ve forgotten who your family is.
SEAN: I don’t need them.
HELEN: Look at yourself! Do you consider this healthy living? Are you happy? Answer me that, Sean: are you happy?
SEAN: (Sputtering) Wha—how am I—who are you to ask me if I’m happy?! Miss “I’m in one of my downs, Sean, help me Sean, I need you, Sean.”
HELEN: I don’t need your help, you do! If you’d only help yourself, you wouldn’t need me to remind you of how miserable you are.
SEAN: Well don’t get all self-righteous for my sake.
HELEN: Someone has to. (Pause) Look, I didn’t come here to fight, even though I knew that’s what I would be in for. Mom and Dad didn’t send me, but someone else did.
SEAN: Who? Father Curtis? That old—
HELEN: You honestly believe I would take anything that hypocrite says seriously? He almost destroyed the faith that ended up saving me. Well, that’s the reason I’m here.
SEAN: To restore my faith?
HELEN: To restore my faith in you. Don’t you dare roll your eyes! I had a tough enough time convincing them you were worth their time to throw it all away just because you have an attitude problem.
SEAN: They? What exactly do you do?
HELEN: I’m what you could call a liaison between certain dimensions.
HELEN: I told you it was complicated. Um, oh jeez, how can I put this? No, it would take too long.
SEAN: Bullshit. I want to know what I’m getting myself into.
HELEN: That’s just it: you don’t have to know. You’re not supposed to know.
SEAN: What, I’m not good enough to be in on it?
HELEN: Yes, actually, that’s it exactly.
SEAN: So you’re using me?
HELEN: Would you shut up and listen?
SEAN: I’ve been listening.
HELEN: You’re so wrapped up in your own little world you can’t see past a few foggy months into the future. You say you have plans, but where will they get you? You’ll just end up where you started, just pennies away from living on the street. I take it you’re still a total cokehead?
SEAN: Not so loud!
HELEN: Who’s going to hear? The waitress? I’m still vaguely surprised at our having this conversation. I figured you wouldn’t be able to understand.
SEAN: Why wouldn’t I be able to—oh to Hell with it. (HELEN flinches; SEAN does not appear to notice.) You haven’t given me a straight answer all night, why start now?
HELEN: So are you going to call her?
SEAN: Who? (HELEN starts to speak.) I know I know. And no, I’m not.
HELEN: Why, for heaven’s sake?
SEAN: Give me one good reason why I should. (She hesitates.) Well?
HELEN: (resigning) Give me your hand.
SEAN: (Suspicious) Why?
HELEN: You want a reason, don’t you?
(SEAN gives her his hand across the table. HELEN takes it and studies it, as would a palm-reader. She traces a few lines out, then presses her finger down on a chosen point. His face makes a quick transition from exasperated to horrified. His arm is trapped in its sprawled position on the table, but the rest of him tenses and convulses, his eyes alternatively screwed shut or popping, his teeth bared and clenched tight. When she feels he has had enough, she lets go. He jumps back as soon as he is free, clutching his arm and panting.)
SEAN: What the fuck did you just do?!
HELEN: I just gave you a touch of Hell. That is what lies at the end of the path you have been traveling down for so long, and you don’t even know it. Life is so short, Sean, but there has been plenty of time for second chances. This is your last. If you won’t think of others, think of yourself. For a minute consider the alternative to a pain that never fades, never relents, and never shows mercy.
SEAN: (Obviously very unnerved, but still not willing to give up without a fight) Okay, say I call. What’s in it for you?
HELEN: I get to go home. (Standing to leave) Without you, I can’t. Simple as that.
SEAN: What’s stopping you?
HELEN: There are always souls that need saving. Goodbye Sean. (Exits)
(SEAN sits at table, dumbfounded. He then notices that she left her jacket. He calls after her as WAITRESS enters with coffee pot.)
SEAN: Helen! Your j—damn it.
WAITRESS: What are you hollering about?
SEAN: My sister forgot her jacket. She’s going to be cold out there.
WAITRESS: (refilling his mug) Who?
SEAN: My sister was just here.
WAITRESS: You and I have been the only one’s here for hours.
SEAN: You just didn’t see her.
WAITRESS: I’ve been behind that counter since you walked in. That door has a bell on it; I would have heard it ring. Or can this sister of yours walk through walls?
SEAN: But… (He looks at the jacket in his hands) I swear she was sitting right there.
WAITRESS: You okay, sugar?
SEAN: Yeah… No… I think I’m going to go. (Gets out his wallet and leaves a few bills on the table.)
WAITRESS: You gonna finish that?
SEAN: It’s a little late for caffeine.
WAITRESS: Well my shift doesn’t end until 4. (She downs the rest of the coffee and refills it as SEAN heads for the door.) You take care of yourself, okay hun?
SEAN: Yeah, you too. (Looks at the jacket, continues to walk toward the door, pulling out his cell phone, then looks back.) And Merry Christmas. (Exits)
SOUND CUE: BELL
WAITRESS: (looking after him, slightly surprised) Merry Christmas to you too.
SETTING: PSUEDO-THRONE ROOM
(Scene begins on the signal of one of the servants’ blowing a kazoo in royal trumpet fashion. After she is done, she exits. The DUKE and his WIFE sit in very impressive chairs, but one wouldn’t go so far as to call them thrones. The ADVISOR stands at the DUKE’s other side. With a heavy sigh, the DUKE begins.)
DUKE: I’m so depressed.
WIFE: We know, darling.
DUKE: It’s not even depression at this point. Rather, ennui bordering on insanity.
ADVISOR: Insanity would be more interesting, admittedly.
DUKE: Will someone do something amusing?
ADVISOR: We have tried amusing you, my lord, with frankly unreasonable consequences.
WIFE: (Very proud of herself) I’ve an idea! (She pauses dramatically, looking about at all of them, waiting for someone to say something.)
DUKE: Yes, my dear? (Then a bit testy) What is it?
WIFE: If you must know, I think it would be beneficial to have a contest in your honor, for some one or another, no matter their birth, to bring you some interesting nibble of enjoyment. What do you say to that?
DUKE: A contest? How dreadfully cliché. (Wife pouts.)
ADVISOR: Dreadfully so.
WIFE: But, pumpkin—
DUKE: No! No contests! There will be no such frivolity on my watch!
WIFE: Well, I’ll just send them away, then, shall I?
DUKE: What? They’re already here?
ADVISOR: You did not consult me with this matter?
WIFE: (Again pouty) Well I don’t see why I should have to. (Puppy eyes at Duke)
DUKE: Oh, stop that, do! Stop it now, I say! I cannot bear the puppy eyes! (Inner struggle) Oh, alright, alright!! Send them in, one at a time.
WIFE: (Bubbly) Yes, darling! (She exits)
ADVISOR: My lord, are you are you quite sure this is the best plan of action?
DUKE: No I’m not. But it’s her plan, and it’s more comfortable wrapped around her little finger than sleeping on the couch.
(WIFE reenters with BARD. WIFE flutters back to her place beside her husband, BARD stands confidently in front of the group. DUKE motions to ADVISOR that he shall begin.)
ADVISOR: Well, young man, state your name.
BARD: What good would a name do me, such horrors have I seen!
DUKE: (Aside to WIFE) Doesn’t waste time, does he?
BARD: For I bring you a tale of bloodshed and betrayal, of lechery and lust, of malice and mischief!
ADVISOR: (aside to DUKE) And of dust and dung beetles, I suppose.
BARD: (Visibly shaken, but carries on) I, great sir, will weave circumstances that do not even haunt your darkest nightmares, nor flit through your flightiest fancies.
DUKE: Get on with it!
WIFE: (Reproachfully) Richard!
BARD: Oh, right, sorry. Um, yes, right. There once was a King (Enter KING), who, after years of being alone, wanted to marry, but he was ever so picky—
DUKE: Heard it!
WIFE: Oh, but I haven’t! Do go on. (BARD looks at DUKE, then at WIFE, who waves him on)
BARD: Right. He was ever so picky, until a princess of unearthly beauty came to the castle. (Enter WITCH. Getting back into the story) She was so beautiful, it was enough to curl the hairs below his—(Sharp look from ADVISOR)—Erm, cap. He permitted her to stay the night in the chambers alongside his own, a rare honor. That night, when they were both asleep—
DUKE: This is boring. Where’s the gore?
WIFE: I’m sure he’s getting to it, isn’t that right, pet?
BARD: (Falters for a moment) Oh, yes ma’am. Coming right up. That night—
DUKE: Good. (Harrumphs)
WIFE: (Gently) Go on, dear.
BARD: Right you are. (Back in the swing of things) That night, when the house was asleep, the King, in his dreams, felt a frightful chill creep through his veins, and try as he might, he could not move or speak, or even open his eyes. But in his mind he saw a great serpent wend its way around his body. (During this narrative, the WITCH has gone to the sleeping KING, drawn him up out of bed as in a trance, and wrapped her arms about him. They go on to act out the scene of the following morning.) The next morning, when he told his beloved of this night terror, she put a hand to her mouth, he thought in shock, but truly to hide a devilish smile. She was no princess at all, but a witch, and the King was under her spell.
KING: You will be my queen.
WIFE: Oh how dreadful!
BARD: It was!
DUKE: You saw it, did you?
BARD: (Drawing himself up) I was the king’s personal jester.
DUKE: And this king, he divulged the private visions of his deepest sleep to the court fool?
BARD: He thought it might make good material for the road.
ADVISOR: Oh, I’m sure he did. (DUKE glares at ADVISOR for stealing his thunder, ADVISOR cowers.)
WIFE: What happened next? I want to know how he escaped the witch’s clutches.
BARD: He didn’t.
(The KING and WITCH hang from the waist like puppets.)
BARD: Oh yes, they’ve been married these last 16 years. Got a whole litter of little ones. Happy as clams, the both of them.
WIFE: And that’s how the story ends, is it?
BARD: Well, yes.
DUKE: What a crap story.
BARD: Well there are some redeeming qualities—
ADVISOR: No, I quite agree. Complete crap.
DUKE: You can’t build it up like that and leave at such a dead end.
BARD: But it’s a happy ending! Everyone likes a happy ending.
DUKE: Not at the expense of reason and virtue, dear boy.
WIFE: You don’t have to patronize the child.
DUKE: But he doesn’t know what he’s doing! It should have ended like this: (With all the gusto of a true storyteller; the KING and WITCH right themselves and carry on with the pantomime) One hundred years of this curséd enchantment passed over the kingdom. The king was but a shell of his former self, kept alive, but never truly living, and his queen reigned through him with an iron fist. If there was murmured word of her treachery among the servants, she had the culprit publicly executed as an example.
WIFE: Oh my.
BARD: He’s good.
DUKE: I’m not finished! (Back into story mode) One night, when the queen was out collecting herbs for wicked potions by the light of the full moon, (Enter MOTH) a moth fluttered down and landed on the slumbering king’s shoulder. In the tiniest of voices she whispered:
MOTH: You have been fooled into believing your queen is a good woman, but the beauty on the surface counteracts the evil within. Only you can put an end to this black magic. You know what you must do. (Exit MOTH)
DUKE: The king woke, for the first time, of his own accord. He felt a glimmer of his soul flicker in the bottom of his heart, forgotten after a century of neglect. He formulated a plan, which he began to carry out the next morning at breakfast.
KING: I am out of sorts, my dearest.
WITCH: (Suspicious) Oh?
KING: I’m sure it is for want of the warmth your body gives. If you would spend but this night in my chambers, I would be very well pleased. It has been too long.
DUKE: The queen was put off by this request, for there is no spell that could replace the companionship of another human, so she could not refuse. (KING and WITCH exit) That night, while she slept, the king slit the witch’s throat, and, as he looked on in horror, out of that fatal wound bled forth snakes as black as night, until she withered away, her skin dry and brittle. He let out a sigh of relief, for her felt her grasp on him release. As this breath of air washed over the corpse, the dusty remains flew through the air and out the open window into the night. The witch was never seen again in the kingdom, nor anywhere near. And the king, having regained his youth, lived out the rest of his days in benevolent peace and wisdom. (The DUKE seats himself, exhausted. Stunned silence.)
WIFE: Oh, Richard. That was incredible.
DUKE: (Surprised at himself, even proud) It was, wasn’t it?
ADVISOR: My lord, that was… I can’t find the words.
BARD: This means I lost the contest doesn’t it?
WIFE: Oh, the contest! I had completely forgotten!
DUKE: Send the other hopefuls away. (A better idea) No, wait! Advisor!
ADVISOR: Yes, sir?
DUKE: Organize a banquet in honor of this young man.
DUKE: What is your name?
BARD: It’s William, sir.
DUKE: William has shown me the honor there is to be had in the spinning of tales, the excitement of holding a room at bay by the suspense of a well-placed pause. Yes, m’boy, you have given me a treasure worthy of a celebration.
BARD: Just trying to earn my keep, m’lord, so to speak.
DUKE: You have earned my thanks.
WIFE: Oh, Richard, I haven’t seen you this worked up in years.
DUKE: I have been quite melancholy of late, but no more! (He takes WIFE in his arms) I love you, my dear.
WIFE: (Tittering) Richard, please, not in front of everyone!
ADVISOR: Really, sir, that is a matter best reserved for private affairs.
DUKE: I believe I remember telling you to organize a banquet.
ADVISOR: Yes, m’lord. (He begrudgingly exits.)
DUKE: (Beckoning the BARD) Come, lad. (He uncertainly kneels before the DUKE) No, no, rise. You are learned in the ways of letters, are you not?
BARD: Indeed I am sir.
DUKE: Good, you shall have a place at my table.
WIFE: Things really are going to change. I shall oversee the kitchen.
DUKE: And William and I shall see to the day’s entertainment. Together we shall pen a few pretty tales of fancy for the populace. What do you say, Sir Bard?
BARD: I’d be honored, m’lord!
DUKE: Very well. Let us begin! (Tableau.)
This is just a fun little script developed from a character I created called Little Girl Dragon.
A young dragon with an oversized bow on her head stands upstage center, self consciously holding on to her tail (she also has a pair of fairy wings on that are much too weak to lift her). Two young men (perhaps with backwards ball caps) dribble a basketball on stage. They seem to not notice her. She watches them with a blank expression. [NOTE: Her default expression should be one of pathetic longing.]
MARK: Yo, Tony, did you catch the Kings game last night?!
TONY: Oh man it was awesome dude! That last 3-pointer! (He pretends to shoot ball.)
MARK: Swish! (High five, continue talking silently about “guy stuff”. Little Girl Dragon smiles, joining in on the fun, as)
(A preppy girl and guy enter, carrying schoolbooks. Little Girl Dragon shifts attention.)
CLAIRE: I was thinking that if we pass out flyers in teams during lunch, we could reach a majority of the school population.
DREW: Oh Claire-Bear, I’m so glad I picked you for a running mate. You’re so clever.
CLAIRE: Oh Drew-Boo! (They Eskimo kiss.)
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Sighs with a mix of happiness and longing)
TONY: Did it just get warmer in here?
DREW: Yes, I do believe it did.
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Squeaks, tries to hide behind her tail.)
MARK: (Smells air.) Aww dude! (Fans air around him) That reeks! Nice one!
TONY: Dude, if that was me, I’d’ve told you.
MARK: Hell yeah! (High five)
CLAIRE: Well it still smells awful, like burnt hair and plastic. (Little Girl Dragon shows signs of beginning to cry.)
DREW: Yes, or hot garbage.
MARK: Or, like, extra spicy turd curry!
TONY: Festering wounds!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Wails.) [If this were a cartoon, streams of tears would pour like fountains.]
MARK: Holy shit!
CLAIRE: Oh my god! A monster!
DREW: Do not fear my darling! I shall protect you! Back, beast!
TONY: Dude, give it TicTacs!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Wails again)
MARK: Yo, check the bow. Are you… a girl monster?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Nods)
CLAIRE: And the wings! Are you a dragon?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Nods vigorously, smiling now)
DREW: I’ve never read anything about dragons in this region.
TONY: Some dragon. Aren’t you supposed to be, like, as big as a house?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Wilts visibly, lip trembles, whimpers)
CLAIRE: (Comforting) Whatever the size, you’re still a dragon. Can you fly?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Nods vigorously again, strains to take off, can’t do it, sadly hangs her head.)
MARK: Don’t trip, it’s cool.
TONY: Yo, you got a name?
DREW: Yes, what are we supposed to call you?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Makes a show of thinking very hard. Becomes more pressured when she realizes she doesn’t actually have a name.)
CLAIRE: Oh, don’t worry. We’ll just call you… Little Girl Dragon. How does that sound?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Nods vigorously, smiling big now that she has friends.)
MARK: Little Girl Dragon. Cool.
TONY: Hey, Dragon! Do you watch basketball?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Looks confused)
TONY: You know, basketball. (He tosses her the ball a little to hard. She catches it, smells it, about to take a bite.)
MARK: No! Bad dragon!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Quickly puts ball down, anxiously rolls it away. During next she nervously fidgets with her tail.)
CLAIRE: Don’t yell at her!
CLAIRE: Isn’t it obvious she’s scared?
DREW: I think she’s more than capable of defending herself!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Puts hands over ears and whimpers)
TONY: Whoa, dudes, chill. She looks like she’s gonna blow again.
CLAIRE: Apologize to her, Mark, quick!
MARK: Uh, there, there, Dragon, I’m sorry I shouted.
TONY: For serious, he totally is.
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Sniffles)
DREW: Alright, I have had enough of this. Come along, darling. (Exits)
MARK: Yeah, I’m out. Come on, dude. (Exits)
TONY: I’ll catch you in a minute.
CLAIRE: It’s okay, Little Girl Dragon, you don’t have to be scared with me.
TONY: Or me. (Gently hands her the basketball.)
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Shocked, looking at ball. Puts it down, gives Tony a big hug.)
TONY: Okay, okay! Let me breathe!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Quickly lets go)
TONY: Well, it was nice meetin’ ya! We’ll shoot some hoops some time. (Exits same way as Mark.)
CLAIRE: I have to get going, too. Here. (Takes out a campaign flyer, writes something on it.) That’s my Twitter page. Follow me!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Takes paper, overjoyed.)
CLAIRE: Well, I’ll be seeing you. (Starts to leave.) Oh, I like your bow. Bye! (Exits same way as Drew.)
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Looks at basketball in one hand, and flyer in the other. Takes a nibble off the corner of the paper, then hugs them both tight, smiling from ear to ear.)