Mating Cries
a dramatic revue created & performed by
Bishop & Fuller
The Sketches
The Personals
At the Prom with Kali
Baucis & Philemon
The Setting
Backdrop, tables & chairs.
In the original production, stands with candles were set at each side of the stage. Between scenes, after resetting the stage, the performers lighted new candles, then read from slips collected from the audience: first names of “people you’ve made love with, whatever that means to you.”
The Music
Incidental music by Elizabeth Fuller is available on CD.
© 1997 Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller. All rights reserved.
For production information, contact WordWorkers, 800-357-6016 or E-mail.
Man and Woman appear in the audience.
WOMAN: I was at a party with name tags, and talking to this guy, but I couldn’t read his name tag and he sounded like I was supposed to know him. And finally he said, “You really don’t remember, do you?”
MAN: I was eighteen, first year college, I met Bobbi, maybe I guess mid-20’s, and she wanted love but not sex, and I wanted sex but not love. And finally we were together, all night, very sweet.
They shift.
WOMAN: I liked Wolf. He made me feel like it was lots of fun. That it was something two people did who actually liked each other.
MAN: We decided we’d split up, and wanted it to be friendly, and so we made love again, and said thanks, and then we had an hour’s ride together on the subway, to think about it, before we never saw each other again.
They shift.
WOMAN: We were borrowing a friend’s apartment for the afternoon. And right in the middle of things, he knocked on the door, and I said “Who is it?” and he said, “I need to do something with the pot roast.” Now we laugh at the word “pot roast.”
MAN: In Denver, I made love with a woman who was extremely fat. I mean extremely fat. I was very surprised.
They shift.
WOMAN: I asked my lover what he was becoming. He said, “An artichoke.” More fleshy the deeper you peel. Now every face that comes near I think, Is this an artichoke?
MAN: She was crying, and she threw the cup on the floor and it broke. So I yelled, and I picked up a cup and threw it on the floor, and it broke. And this went back and forth, and finally she picked up the honey jar and threw it, and it broke. And that was the last time we threw stuff.
They shift.
WOMAN: There was a time we stared at each other, frozen with awe, and we thought that was love. There was a time when we flinched, like a bee sting, at the softest touch, and we thought that was love. There was a time, finally, when we saw each other.
They look at each other.
MAN: Stuff they said in 1974.
WOMAN: The chronicle of desire.
They sit.
Want. Wish. Wish for. Crave. Need. Desire. Require.
MAN: Prefer. Have an eye to. Have a mind to. Set the heart on. Covet.
WOMAN: Sigh for. Lust after. Yearn for. Hunger for. Want.
MAN: I want a dog.
WOMAN: I want just one kind word.
MAN: I want all the marbles.
WOMAN: I want something to stop the pain.
MAN: I want to try what I read about.
WOMAN: I want to build a castle.
MAN: I want to build a big castle with a four-car garage, a swimming pool, Playboy bunnies all over the place, and a big pile of money right on the kitchen table.
WOMAN: I want a how-to book that really tells me how to.
MAN: I want a how-to book that says why should I even bother.
WOMAN: I want a body that works.
MAN: I want to dream the impossible dream. Climb every mountain. I want to go tell it on the mountain. I want to walk on through the storm, walk on through the night though my dreams be tossed and blown. And then I want to look for the silver lining. I want to grab my coat and get my hat. I want that good good Pepsi feeling. I want a girl just like the girl that married dear old dad. I want to be loved by you by you and nobody else but you. Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam. One meat ball, tea for two, and then I want to say: I did it my way.
Freeze. Shift.
WOMAN: But that’s not it.
MAN: Not really.
WOMAN: That’s not what I wanted. What I really want. . . It’s like. . . I know what it is. . . And I can taste it. . . But it’s—
MAN: Kind of fuzzy but it’s really. . . This very intense—
WOMAN: From 1986—
MAN: Voices—
WOMAN: I have this dream where. . . it’s all beautiful, everybody. . . and everything you . . . you just. . .
MAN: I have this dream where we all. . . in a great big wad. . . and it’s ok, and. . . but it’s ok. . .
WOMAN: Because it’s there if. . . all different people, they all. . . and wake up next morning. . . you can just. . .
MAN: And you look and. . . wow, and. . . the most amazing. . .
WOMAN: So amazing, is it even a dream and wow. . .
MAN: Cause we’ve all got balloons.
WOMAN: And it’s a dream. I have this dream where I’m having this wonderful dream—
MAN: That I’m in this beautiful dream—
WOMAN: That I’m dreaming this—
MAN: Dream. Vision. Reverie.
BOTH: Dreamers.
WOMAN: Daydream. Chimera. Nightmare.
BOTH: Dreamers.
MAN: Trance. Illusion. Phantasm.
BOTH: Moonshine. Mirages. Whimsy. Dreamers. Dreamers. Dreams.
Freeze. Both make noise as alarm ringing.
MAN: That’s not it.
WOMAN: No way.
MAN: In 1989—
WOMAN: Voices—
MAN: I want reality.
WOMAN: In the morning.
MAN: I want the large economy size.
WOMAN: Something salty.
MAN: I want to try anything once.
WOMAN: I want to try it twice.
MAN: But no surprises.
WOMAN: I want to wake up some morning and all my lies would be true.
MAN: I want to figure how to meet total strangers so I could tell somebody the truth.
WOMAN: I want to learn to lie so well I can’t even tell if maybe I’m telling the truth.
MAN: I want to lie with you. I want us to lie together.
WOMAN: And a little red hat.
MAN: That’s still not it.
WOMAN: Does not scratch the itch.
MAN: What I really want.
WOMAN: In 1992.
MAN: I want— Well, actually, in point of fact— I want to be licked.
WOMAN: I want to feel the fire lick.
MAN: I want to make love.
WOMAN: I want to make my friends some love for the holidays.
MAN: I want to make love with every one of my friends, and they say “That’s nice.”
WOMAN: They say “Now I know you.”
MAN: “Now you have to tell me what you never told me before.”
WOMAN: And we should do that some time again, ok?
MAN: Ok.
WOMAN: I want sometime, a total stranger to come up to me on the street and say “You’re special.” And then we sit and have coffee, and he tells me jokes.
MAN: I want a couple of owls to sit at the foot of the bed, and they open their eyes very wide when something’s about to happen.
WOMAN: I want to look close up at every person’s ears, and see the shapes in the ears, and start out by loving their ears.
MAN: I want to go up and pet people, and they purr.
WOMAN: I want to find where the music’s playing.
MAN: I want to hear what she says to the cat.
WOMAN: Being naked—
MAN: It’s down—
WOMAN: Down where the seed is.
MAN: Down—
WOMAN: Down in the wet.
MAN: Down—
WOMAN: Where it echoes.
New tempo.
WOMAN: I want soft hands on me, whenever. And I want people inside me. I want a little discotheque inside me and the dancing never stops. I want a dress where the colors keep changing, like dawn. I want to swallow the moon and then blow bubbles. I want to see the comet. I want the flutter.
MAN: That’s close to it. That’s very close. If we could just focus on—
WOMAN: Next week—
MAN: Or the next hour, trying to—
WOMAN: Touch it.
MAN: So we’re in 1999. September, October, what’s new?
WOMAN: What we want.
WOMAN: You see it?
MAN: We want a—
MAN: What do you call it?— A bunch of people,— Not friends, family, like— But a bunch of people, and you want them to be happy, cause that makes you happy. If they say, well hey, I can’t hang with you tonight cause I have these friends I need to see, and that makes you happy, that they’ve got friends, and hell, you’re gonna be lonely tonight, but that’s cool. There’s tomorrow.
WOMAN: There’s tomorrow. And you’re with your tribe. That’s what I’d call it. Tribe, the people you find that are going to stay.
MAN: And I say I love you, I love you, that’s all I say, and they say what do you mean, and I say it again, and they say, bullshit, and I say it again, and they say don’t exaggerate—
WOMAN: I love you—
MAN: And at last they get it.
WOMAN: Oh God, they get it.
MAN: I want that.
WOMAN: I want it. I want a bouquet of lovers, and they wilt but I press them into my book and years later the colors are there, and the new green shoots.
MAN: Someplace, maybe in California—
WOMAN: Or Tahiti—
MAN: Indianapolis—
WOMAN: Tuscaloosa—
MAN: Dresden—
WOMAN: Hiroshima—
MAN: Jerusalem—
WOMAN: Pocatello—
MAN: Philadelphia. Where you’d least expect it—
WOMAN: You can find it—
MAN: It’s possible—
WOMAN: It’s a possibility—
MAN: It’s a thirst—
WOMAN: Something I’ve thirsted for—
MAN: A very deep thirst—
WOMAN: For love, for hugs, for people to yell at and then you laugh—
MAN: Tribes—
WOMAN: Tribes moving—
MAN: Moving across the plains—
WOMAN: Red sunsets, I love red sunsets—
MAN: And they stop to rest, they’re hot, tired, and there’s so far to go, and they pass a cup of water—
WOMAN: Never thirst.
MAN: And they say—
WOMAN: Never thirst.
MAN: Never thirst.
WOMAN: Could you carry your own suitcase a while, I’m tired—
MAN: And we thirst and cry out and scream that there’s not enough, there’s never enough—
WOMAN: There’s enough. What you want. It’s Autumn. Dream it.
MAN: Drink deep.
BOTH: Drink deep of the waters of life.
WOMAN: It feels like hummingbirds.
The Personals
They stand, reading torn scraps of newspaper.
MAN: Are you an exceptional woman? Single white male seeks warm, empathic, intelligent woman, with a sensitivity which is able to appreciate both the profound and the absurd. I relate best to people who are articulate, introspective and somewhat unconventional. I’m all of the above: thirty-eight, five foot eight, own an interesting and successful business. Please send photo.
WOMAN: Single female, gregarious, tall, very independent and yes, of course, attractive, seeks a non-neutered male to share long walks, good talks, varied moods and the less expensive pleasures of life. Outside wrapping of this precious package is immaterial: I’m looking for the good man within. If allergic to closeness, please do not respond. Tell me about the real you.
They prepare to meet. shave, makeup, hair, deodorant, other preparations as appropriate.
At last, they’re ready, anxiously try to think what they need. Both realize, reach for masks, put them on.
Both rise, turn to each other. They go through a series of poses, trying to project a desirable character.
At last they wave to each other, separate. Rush behind chairs.
BOTH: (stronger) Damn!!!
They emerge slowly, looking front, pulling up their masks as if looking at their own faces in mirror. Disappear.
Again, they look out slowly over the backs, speak in intersected rhythm.
MAN: Gordon, 45, brown hair, blue eyes, religion open. I am marriage minded, looking for a lady, looks not important, who ios sincere, with brown hair and younger than myself.
WOMAN: Vera, 42, Catholic. I am honest and support my mother. I have had to work hard all my life and will be a good wife who is loving, loyal and faithful to a cheerful gentleman.
They put on hats.
Then they rise, come around to sit beside each other in the chairs: both middle-aged, inexperienced.
They sit a long time, doing nothing. Several times they shift, intensely aware of each other, but unable to touch.
At last they go. Retreat behind chairs.
BOTH: Damn!
They come around to sit in the chairs, pick up phone receivers, wait. At last he punches numbers. She picks up receiver.
MAN: Oh, sorry—
Hangs up. She puts receiver down. He tries again. She answers.
MAN: I keep getting—
Hangs up. She puts receiver down. Pause. Then he tries again.
WOMAN: Hello?
MAN: Oh, I kept getting the wrong number. Hi.
WOMAN: Oh hi.
MAN: Right.
WOMAN: Who’s this?
MAN: Remember?
MAN: Me.
MAN: Well.
MAN: What?
WOMAN: “Huh.”
MAN: Oh.
MAN: Wow.
Look, is this an obscene phone call or something?
MAN: No.
Uh, I don’t mean to sound personal, but do you ever, like, talk?
MAN: Well yes.
Yes, well I just thought it’s so difficult sometimes to really be straightforward and call up and just say what we feel, to be honest, really be honest about what we want, and we don’t have to choose our words, they just flow from the heart and you can hear and what I mean is—
So anyway, bye.
He hangs up. They look at each other. Put on hats.
MAN: Gordon, 45, brown hair, blue eyes, looking for a lady—
WOMAN: Vera, 42, Catholic. I am honest and loving, loyal and faithful—
Freeze. They pick up phone receivers.
MAN: Hi honey. I was reading your ad and I thought I’d call because specifically what I’m looking for is a Capricorn somewhere between five two and five five-and-a- half who enjoys dancing, music, and TV with a simple and natural character of many modalities—
WOMAN: Who is this?
MAN: Well you might say it’s a brilliant, charismatic, Renaissance man, 45, boyishly handsome, well-built, prosperous, globally conscious, dashing, earthy, zany, seeking good times with a woman—
WOMAN: What number are you calling?
MAN: An affectionate, attractive woman who is tired of the phony scene and fed up with playing games—
WOMAN: I played bridge once.
MAN: Hey come on honey let’s get it on if you’re looking for a real stud who’s hot to trot and really well hu—
She hangs up. He freezes. Silence.
I’m still here.
WOMAN: Yeh. Ok.
MAN: I’m still here.
WOMAN: I said ok. So you wanta see me?
MAN: Still here.
WOMAN: Look, all right, yeh I’m lonely, why the hell you think I advertise in the newspaper, in between the Merchandise Wanted, the Pet Services, and the Gutters and Drainspouts—
MAN: Still here.
WOMAN: So how about a date?
Look, is this a real person here?
Shut up!
Look. Hang up. If you don’t hang up I’ll call the cops as soon as you hang up. What kind of a type are you anyway to answer an ad in the paper and think you’re going to get somewhere that way? You think I’m the kind of woman that’s going to go out with some creep that answers my ad? Hang up!
MAN: I’m sorry.
Slowly, with great sadness, they disconnect.
She calls. He picks up a phone receiver.
WOMAN: Hi, this is Judy. Is this Leonard?
MAN: No it’s not.
WOMAN: Well that’s ok. I saw your ad, and you sound like a nice guy. Listen, I was calling up because the junior class is having a picnic and it’s Ladies’ Choice, and we don’t really know each other so I thought this might be a good way to get better acquainted—
MAN: What is this?
WOMAN: This is the junior class picnic, and I thought you might like to go with me, unless you’re already going with somebody else, like Shirley or somebody—
MAN: No, look, I’m not in the junior class. I’m a grown man. Who are you calling?
WOMAN: Calling you, cause I’ve got green eyes and I like to have fun and I really love to party with the right guy—
MAN: Look, if you’d called me about twenty-five years ago, I coulda really used it then. In fact I still could, but you sound just a little too young—
WOMAN: Well I like to tease but I like a guy who’s old enough to be tasty cause I’m a yummy girl and I smell great.and I want to make you feel special in a really nasty way—
MAN: Goddamn, will you stop it! Will you stop with the junior class picnic?! Will you stop with all the faking it and the lies and the pathetic attempts to say what you think somebody wants to hear no matter how stupid you sound?! Will you just stop making me ashamed to be any sex at all?!!!
WOMAN: Creep.
She hangs up. They put on hats.
MAN: Gordon, 45, brown hair—
WOMAN: Vera, 42, Catholic. I am honest—
Silence. They remove their hats, rise, as if meeting each other realistically at a party.
MAN: Hi there.
WOMAN: Oh hi.
MAN: You’re very attractive. You probably know that.
WOMAN: I don’t know that. I wish I did.
MAN: I hope you don’t mind me talking to you, but I wanted to say something.
WOMAN: It’s nice to hear it.
MAN: You don’t mind if I say it?
WOMAN: Go right ahead.
MAN: You’re very attractive.
WOMAN: Why thanks. It takes two.
MAN: It’s better that way.
They laugh.
WOMAN: You know it’s not usually the thing to come right out and say stuff.
MAN: Well, people waste so much time.
WOMAN: They really do. I mean, we really do.
MAN: And if two people are really attracted to each other, they don’t have to lie or try to hide behind masks. If they’re adults, they should just—
WOMAN: What?
MAN: Do—
WOMAN: Whatever they’re inclined to do.
MAN: Right.
WOMAN: It never hurts to ask.
MAN: Would you like to come over for a—
WOMAN: Drink?
MAN: And friendship
WOMAN: Real—
MAN: Closeness.
MAN: Right—
Their faces are very close. They look into each other’s eyes, draw closer.
Gradual terror. They begin speaking slowly, intersecting rhythms, drawing apart.
MAN: I enjoy good books and own a four-bedroom house looking for the right person/a lady, looks not important, sincere winsome wanton fem for passionate/slim nonsmoker/and am looking for a nice plump lady with red hair/to give you an experience beyond your wildest dreams/who enjoys reading, gardening, and other erotic fantasies—
WOMAN: Successful woman of many modalities, witty and wicked/wise and kind/beautiful and healthy, looking for a man with a twinkle in his eye/slim, tactile, ironical, cuddly, divorced/bisexual/a wealthy widower sixty or over/a virgin and shall be a loyal and faithful wife/who is smart, sensual/outgoing, discreet, bright, lighthearted/French culture/yin for your yang—
Sudden stop, trying to stop the tide. Then they continue, louder, agonized, and put on their masks.
Minister, honest and sincere, enjoy the church and all clean sports/spanking, massage, in a caring one-on-one relationship/very hot and ready to try anything once/I am a salesman and would describe myself as a good/housebroken survivor of dog-eat-dog world, seeks foxy lassie to wag my tail.
Call me Prince.
Incurably romantic, wildly beautiful, brainy, gentle, sensitive, lonely, inexperienced, mature, stable, busty, lusty vegetarian/no herpes/who knows what she wants but hasn’t found it yet/no shorter than five ten/and only serious need reply/to have good times and whatever follows/to meet and make our dreams come true.
Slowly, masked, they turn to face each other.
A table. Man and Woman sit on its front edge. The charzcters, Stu and Jes, are two flexible puppets, who sit on the laps of the Man and Woman, who speak as the characters, also as themselves.
MAN: This is the story of Stu and Jes and their car.
WOMAN: And a freeway. Is there some other way to go? We’re all tired of this route.
Pause. Stu appears.
MAN: Stu had a car. He liked his car. He drove around. He found Jes. She liked his car.
Jes appears.
They drove around. They tried the back seat.
They disappear over seat.
Stu liked Jes.
WOMAN: Jes liked Stu.
Sound of passion.
They went on their honeymoon.
Clatter of tin cans, tossing of confetti.
And they lived happily. . .
MAN: For two years. Could we take a different road? Do we have a map?
It’s two years later. Night. Wet city streets. Pelting rain. Flashes of billboards. Traffic.
Stu and Jes appear. Stu drives anxiously, straining to see. Jes, pregnant, huddles against him.
STU: Ok? You ok? Can you see your watch?
JES: Bout five minutes apart. They’re not so bad. (Sharp stab of pain) Oh! Surprise.
STU: Hold on, Jes. We’re ten minutes from the hospital.
JES: Watch out you don’t get on the freeway.
STU: Second light?
JES: At the sign. Big sign for a bank, dollar signs.
STU: “Have you watered your money?”
JES: (feeling a sharp stab) Stu, they’re closer.
STU: I told you that dream? I had to get up cause I hadn’t watered the money?
JES: Watch for the turn.
STU: Ok.
JES: Up ahead.
STU: I’m turning.
JES: No!
STU: Whatta you mean?
He veers to the right, hits the brakes.
JES: Didn’t you see it?
STU: You said to turn.
JES: I said no. I said look for the bank sign. Turn around.
STU: We’re on a ramp.
JES: I thought you saw it.
STU: It’s a freeway ramp. All right I’m sorry! (Pained grunt.) Jes?
JES: It’s like a fist.
STU: We’re onto the freeway.
WOMAN: They got on the freeway.
MAN: Time and time again.
WOMAN: They should have seen it.
MAN: This time they should have seen it.
Puppets again:
STU: Don’t get mad.
JES: No, I have other things to think about. I’m having a baby.
STU: There’ll be a ramp, we get off and turn around.
JES: I feel like a trash compactor.
STU: Check the map.
JES: Hon, the next time I go into labor let’s try to communicate—
STU: Could you check the map?
She suppresses a response, fishes for the map, angles it to catch light.
JES: The roads are faded. It’s all white.
STU: Put on your glasses.
JES: I don’t wear glasses.
STU: You wear glasses. Oh God—
JES: What? Gas?
STU: I don’t know if I made the car payment.
JES: Are we in the same dream together? You know we do have time constraints. The contractions are two minutes apart.
STU: Contractions?
JES: Where do you think you’re driving me?
STU: The freeway.
JES: The hospital, jerk. I’m in labor.
STU: It says thirty miles.
JES: I don’t think we’re ready for this baby.
STU: Jes, look, I made a mistake. People make mistakes.
JES: If you see a cross-across, would you take it? It’s a special case.
STU: Oh hell.
JES: What?
STU: We got a motorcycle gang. They’re all over. Like roaches. They’re trying to drive us off the road. I might have to kill’em.
Onrushing roar. Catcalls. Stu, panicked, veers back and forth.
JES: Hon, I’m in labor.
STU: That’s not my fault! (Distant police siren.) The cops are coming.
Gun shots. Skids. Crashes.
How bout that slaughter! Fantastic!
JES: Flag down the cops.
STU: I don’t have a flag.
JES: This isn’t a joke.
STU: I’m not laughing. I’m breathing. I always breathe when I’m nervous.
JES: You like the name Catherine?
WOMAN: That wasn’t all necessary.
MAN: It’s life. People face crises.
WOMAN: It’s you making the sounds.
MAN: They’re historically accurate.
JES: My God.
STU: What?
JES: I’m gonna have the baby. Pull over.
STU: You got a couple hours. Wait, there’s an exit up here.
JES: I’m gonna get in the back seat.
She climbs clumsily over the seat, disappears. Stu turns to the right.
STU: Jes, I’m on the exit ramp. Now we’ll find a gas station, we’ll call for help, we’ll name her Catherine— Oh God. It’s another freeway. 62 South to Chattanooga.
JES: Honey, stop. I mean it. Stop the car!
STU: If we stop, we’re stuck. We’re out in the country, we’re in the dark—
JES: I’m having a baby!
Truck horn.
STU: I can’t slow down, there’s a big semi back there—
He blows his horn frantically.
Why can’t you blow a horn backwards? (Jes cries out.) Hold on, I’ll pull over. (Truck horn, extended.) I can’t slow down, I— All right, pass!
Rush of the passing truck. Thunder. Then the cry of a newborn baby.
Omigod. I’ll stop.
JES: (weakly) Don’t stop. Get me to the hospital.
STU: Oh Jes—
Jes cries out.
JES: I’m having the baby.
STU: You just had the baby. I heard it crying. It’s Kathy.
JES: I already had Kathy. Kathy’s two already. I’m having Mark.
STU: I like that name.
Jes screams. Then a baby’s cry.
Is that Mark?
JES: (weakly) Uh-huh.
STU: How do you feel?
JES: Hungry.
STU: I’m sorry.
He continues driving, slapping himself to stay awake.
WOMAN: This isn’t the way it is, or the way it has to be. Nobody’s born behind the wheel.
When did she even get pregnant? Where’s the love?
No response. Stu continues driving.
I want images of love. People dancing in the woods. Where they find each other again. Run fingers in each other’s hair, and every time they look the eyes are deeper. I want them not alone. I want them to call up their friends, say “Whatta you doing tonight? We need you!” And there’s joy in the faces, there’s—
MAN: Rain’s stopped.
Stu drives, Jes stays hidden.
STU: You come up front?
JES: I’m tired. Don’t we have to stop sometime, for gas or—
STU: We stop. We stop all the time, but all the stops are the same, and the driving on. You know cars are all the same color a certain time of the day. How are the kids?
JES: Mark has measles. Kathy needs braces.
STU: I’m lonely up here.
JES: After dark.
STU: It’s dark.
JES: Not enough.
WOMAN: Turn on the radio, she says. He does, and this sappy love song “I need you, baby,” but that moment it speaks to them, it touches them and they realize—
MAN: It’s the news, and a burst of static, then a voice yelling, “Fire!” And great explosions. He turns it off.
JES: What’s that?
STU: The world.
JES: I’m scared.
STU: That’s sensible. We should be.
Pause. Jes sits up in the back seat, leaning forward, focused on the rear-view mirror.
JES: Remember that thing in the papers? Florida? These two old elderly spinsters? “They drove in a circle to tragedy.” That was the headline. It always stuck with me. They were lost, and never far from home, they could have stopped and called on the phone. Why don’t we stop and call?
STU: (trying to joke) I always wondered, do spinsters spin around?
JES: They stopped. They asked directions. They never said they were lost. What they were trying was drive twenty miles to the tax office. Imagine your mission in life, to visit the IRS.
STU: “We’re lost. Please take us home.”
JES: They could have said that.
STU: “Please. We’re lost. Take us home.”
JES: That’s the crazy thing.
STU: Please!
He pitches forward, hugging the steering wheel in terror.
JES: One they found dying in the sand. They went off the road, and the wheels sank in the sand, and she walked out on the sand and then she took off her coat and shoes and lay down in the sand, stretched out in the sand, dug down in the sand, they found her, she said “Who are you?”
STU: “This is where I sleep.”
JES: “Did I walk in my sleep?”
STU: “I never done a stunt like this before.”
JES: Why didn’t they ask?
STU: Come up front.
JES: Ok.
She climbs over the seat. They embrace.
STU: Oh yeh—
JES: Oh hon—
STU: I’m so—
MAN: And they finally come together. They see each other, they look in each other’s eyes and they see what can be between human beings, and the deep, swelling river they swim in—
JES: Look out!
Stu hits brakes, swerves. Then they recover, sitting upright, tense.
We need to watch the road.
Silence. He drives.
STU: I need to talk. I gotta stay awake.
JES: I’ll try.
STU: Anything.
JES: I’m scared.
WOMAN: Talk about what you love.
STU: The thing that scares me is we’re low on oil.
JES: The thing that scares me is cancer.
STU: Or the children dying.
JES: Or a colostomy.
STU: Or dreams.
JES: Or the skin turning to chicken skin under the neck, and the light shuts out in the eyes, you drip like a candle and see the pink scalp through the hair—
WOMAN: But you’re beautiful. You look in each other’s eyes and there’s the dark fire burning there, so unbearably sweet at sunset. The air is alive with ten thousand bees, and you dress in a dress with yellow flowers—
STU: Or big dogs.
MAN: Sound of a latch. Rush of wind. Child’s cry. Door slam.
JES: Oh my God!
STU: What!
JES: He fell out.
STU: Who?
JES: Mark. He opened the door and fell out. Stop the car!
STU: Hon, he’s nineteen. He’s old enough.
JES: He’s a baby—
STU: Not any more. Jes, we oughta be happy they’re old enough to work the latch. It’s time for Kathy to go. She’s two years older.
JES: Slow down a little.
STU: It happens so fast. Like the Roadrunner.
She collapses into quiet sobbing.
MAN: Latch. Wind. Cry. Slam.
Jes focuses front.
JES: I need to go into the back seat.
STU: What for?
JES: I need something.
STU: That’s neat, because at this stage of life, you’ve made lots of sacrifices, and focused on other people’s needs, and now there’s time to pursue other interests and address our deeper needs, like maybe a hobby, or a lot of interpersonal things like—
Jes has climbed over the seat. She giggles.
What’s going on?
Low murmur, then giggles.
Is somebody in the back seat?
She speaks breathless, preoccupied.
JES: Well I mean I think I need this right now. I have needs which I think I have to explore.
STU: Who’s in the back seat?
JES: I’ll tell you in a minute.
Rushed breathing.
MAN: He restrains himself from looking. He calculates the mileage.
Rustling, then a low sob. Jes sits up.
STU: That was quick.
JES: It’s over.
STU: Who was there?
JES: You don’t know him.
STU: What happened?
JES: I was badly hurt.
STU: That’s all right then.
Jes climbs into the front, sits rigidly. Stu takes her hand.
MAN: This is the story of Stu and Jes and the freeway.
WOMAN: Couldn’t we take a different route? Do we have another map?
MAN: Maybe hands.
They raise their palms, present them to Stu and Jes to see the lines of their palms.
WOMAN: Can’t they see it?
MAN: They try.
Driving continues.
JES: Should we stop and switch?
STU: “No stopping except for repairs.”
JES: We’re past repair.
STU: Check the map.
JES: Did we lose a lane?
STU: It’s a four-lane. No, it’s two. It’s tarmac.
JES: It’s not the freeway now.
STU: I see dunes. It’s crunchy. Like sand.
JES: They drove into sand. There’s sand.
STU: The old ladies?
JES: Sand on the center stripe.
STU: We’re in sand.
JES: We need snow tires.
STU: We need chains.
JES: Cleats.
STU: Claws.
Bump. They look out the side windows.
WOMAN: Where are they?
MAN: Near the tree.
JES: Hon?
STU: Huh.
JES: We’re stopped.
STU: How long?
JES: It’s an oasis. We can eat.
STU: Bathroom.
JES: Fast food. Telephones. Call Kathy or Mark. Call my mother.
STU: That’s long distance.
JES: Open the door.
MAN: We open the doors. The doors swing open.
JES: It’s cool. Are we off the asphalt? Let’s walk up to the service plaza.
STU: Too far. I could crawl.
JES: They won’t let you in if you crawl.
STU: Jes, we stopped. It’s an oasis. It’s a Burger King or a Burger Chef, Big Burger, Super Burger, Super Chef, King Burger or one of those you remember from so long ago you can taste the grease.
JES: We stopped—
STU: We get out, we go in. Bathroom, I haven’t been to the bathroom for thirty years.
JES: We have to get out.
STU: Try falling.
They prepare.
Ready? Together? Fall.
Together, they fall out, flat to the tabletop.
You there?
JES: My leg’s asleep.
STU: Let’s go.
JES: I can’t walk.
STU: Worm your way.
They crawl forward.
I’m glad it’s night. Asphalt holds the heat.
JES: Just crawl.
STU: Watch out for trucks.
JES: Which old lady died?
STU: The one with cataracts.
JES: I’m on sand.
STU: We oughta have talons. Like eagles.
JES: (calling in a whisper) We’re lost. Take us home.
STU: Trip wouldn’t be so bad, next time, if we prepared. Some books, cassettes, pack a lunch. Off the main roads. Make a lot of stops. Time to really get close.
JES: I want my babies.
STU: Maybe a thermos.
WOMAN: Thunder of trucks.
STU: Hon? Come on. You can see the lights. You want large fries or regular?
JES: I need my babies.
STU: Jes, you had your babies. Long time ago. That was on 95 South.
JES: Crawl into sheets.
STU: You’re in sand.
JES: White sheets.
STU: Hon, get outa the sand.
JES: Babies.
STU: Remember that dream? I had to get up cause I hadn’t watered the money?
You laughed at that. Remember?
JES: They want to nurse.
STU: (deeply grieved) Jes! Oh Jessie please! It’s a mistake, I missed the turn, people make mistakes, I love you Jes, Jes, Jes—
WOMAN: They’re at the tree.
JES: It’s a tree.
MAN: It’s not the Burger King. It’s the tree.
WOMAN: Climb.
STU: Where’s the Burger King?
WOMAN: It’s not here. This is the tree. This is where you climb.
STU: We can’t climb trees.
WOMAN: Now you can.
MAN: Climb.
JES: It’s big.
STU: It’s my mother. What’s she doing in the parking lot?
JES: Mommy.
MAN: Climb.
They try to stand, like infants on new legs. Woman stands on the table, above the Man. Then Stu and Jes begin to climb, reaching for hand-holds on the Man and Woman.
JES: Mommy.
STU: Mom, can you hold me?
JES: Up.
STU: Can I come up? Mama?
JES: Hold onto me.
STU: Mama—
JES: Mommy—
STU: I’m up, Mama.
JES: I’m a bud.
STU: Opening up—
JES: In blossom.
They branch and blossom.
At the Prom with Kali
Woman stands, distant. Man speaks to us.
MAN: It’s the Senior Prom, I don’t have a date. I’m still a virgin. There’s a girl over there I could dance with, maybe, so I think I ought to dance. I cross the dance-floor.
But I get closer, I see who it is. That’s why nobody’s dancing with her.
It’s Kali.
She turns: in half-mask, wearing long scarf and a necklace of skulls.
Kali stands under a cloud of blue balloons, prom dress, crinolines and skulls, and waits to be asked. I cross the floor, come to her. She reaches out three of her hands.
It’s a slow dance, a two-step. She smiles, and shows me her soft, flat, hungry tongue.
Her mouth opens, tongue thrusts out flat to her chin.
She says, “What is your truest desire?” I think that’s what she said.
I don’t know. I want to leave Omaha. I want to taste everything. I want to dance, obviously. I want to tell the truth. Find some way to tell the truth.
WOMAN: You can.
MAN: I want to say what I really want.
WOMAN: You can.
MAN: And I don’t even have to do it. I just want to say it, and have it heard, and nobody pissed off or think it’s the end of the world, and not be hurt, or anything, just think, hey, I’m hearing the truth, and that’s great, that’s trust and love and it’s like having a brother—
MAN: I could just do it. So simple, just open my mouth right now and say it in the simplest words. And trust. Trust somebody with my bank account and my children, trust somebody not to stab me if I snore. I could trust.
MAN: And taste. To taste the honey. And bitter stuff, and sour, like cranberries.
WOMAN: Taste.
MAN: Bite into the fruit and it tastes like it tastes in dreams and the colors are changing and you feel it’s coming alive in your teeth—
WOMAN: Taste.
MAN: I wish I could.
They hold hands.
They’re dancing.
WOMAN: Dancing.
MAN: They look older.
WOMAN: Older.
MAN: No. Wait. This is high school.
WOMAN: Older.
MAN: Is that Nick and Christine?
WOMAN: Old guy with the fat lady. Funny.
MAN: Get up off the floor!
WOMAN: He’s dying.
MAN: Nick?
WOMAN: All the tears they cry.
MAN: It’s raining.
WOMAN: Rain, and the wind in the grass, and the wolves. I love those wolves.
MAN: The dance floor’s clear. They’re huddled around the edges.
WOMAN: Desert. Walk in the desert. It sprouts where you step.
MAN: Flowers.
WOMAN: In footsteps. Magic.
MAN: And now there were babies crawling around on the floor, they’re toddling, dancing together, stumbling, falling, rising, crying, crowing, babies kissing and making love—
WOMAN: Isn’t that sweet?
MAN: Babies in intercourse, doing it, there on the floor, babies birthing babies, in swarms—
WOMAN: Like sparrows!
MAN: Teenage babies, young married babies, career track babies, middle-aged babies, grandpa and grandma babies—
WOMAN: Look at you, you’re naked.
MAN: I rented a tux.
WOMAN: It peeled off.
MAN: Look, I have to go, people see me, my friends, right now they’re all dying, but tomorrow they’ll laugh at me and—
WOMAN: I saw you right away. I could taste you. I get this flicker in my tongue.
MAN: We’re talking about reality—
WOMAN: I need to do something now.
MAN: What?
WOMAN: Cut off your head.
She does.
It’s nice. It fits my necklace. Look at you now. Oops, you can’t see: no eyes.
MAN: Who am I now?
WOMAN: We need to dance.
MAN: She led me onto the dance floor.
WOMAN: All the colors.
MAN: And we danced.
WOMAN: “Who am I now?”
MAN: Who am I now?
WOMAN: Would you. . .?
They dance a slow dance.
Would you make love with a woman who’s deaf and blind?
MAN: I guess.
WOMAN: Would you screw a man who’s chewing snuff?
MAN: Ok.
WOMAN: Or schtupp a girl without a nose?
MAN: I’ll try.
WOMAN: Or bang the fat guy who sells used cars?
MAN: If I can.
WOMAN: Will you shag a woman who bleeds?
MAN: All right.
WOMAN: Will you fuck a man who’s dying?
MAN: Yes.
WOMAN: Or me?
MAN: Or me?
MAN: Yes. Are we dancing now?
They dance.
It was another slow dance, and several times we’d pause to couple, she lifts her skirt, arch back to open herself, our bodies sing, and children tumble in multitudes from our mating cries.
I felt the rivers flow, the current of rivers that fill me— the Amazon, Ganges, the Nile, the Tigris, Euphrates, Yellow River, the Volga, the Congo, the Mississippi, rivers like colossal serpents slithering up the tree.
Change. Her foot stomps.
WOMAN: He lies down. I stomp on his head. I’m killing him. That’s ok. It’s a two-step.
MAN: You’re a good dancer.
WOMAN: Thank you.
MAN: They’re taking our picture.
WOMAN: Smile.
MAN: And we stood holding hands. Still dancing. Sometimes our fingers dance together, a spiral dance, and voices rise from us like condors, winging to vast domains. But we’re dancing, and she’s lover to me, and wife, and mother, and daughter, and the rivers run up to the stars.
She giggles. Abrupt startle.
It’s a joke. She’s teasing. She laps it up. She steps on my toes, and I scream, and it’s play. It’s all play. She laps it up. My graduation—
WOMAN: Play.
MAN: Trips to the dentist—
WOMAN: Play.
MAN: My first time with a girl. My second, my third, it’s in a comic book, and my fight with my mother, and what am I talking about?
WOMAN: Play.
MAN: My marriage, my son, my daughter, my diagnosis—
WOMAN: Play.
MAN: I shouldn’t be reading comic books at the Prom, but it’s on a shelf in a comic book store, and I pick it up. Sorry.
And it’s me, and Elizabeth, John and Flora, there’s Ellen, Steve, Ralph, Liza, Camilla, there’s Adam, damn you I loved you, but it’s all a story, and I’m flipping the pages backward, backward into the future, all different worlds—
But it’s—
WOMAN: Play.
MAN: She laps it up, and the nurse is a fox-trotting waitress who brings me death in a cup, and rivers and oceans of blood, “I didn’t order that, that’s not my order!” “Oh yes it is.” It’s all—
WOMAN: Pools, translucent, spreading.
Our bodies lie in these pools, and their ripples, the heat in the honey, the rich oil sweat of the floods in the lowlands, and waterfowl rise from its surface.
Millennial rapture, the mallards rising into the open mouth of God.
We lap the fluid of eros, the dark water eyes of lakes.
The dragonflies.
MAN: She invites me home. We kiss at the door. The air is so sweet. I come into her dancing, murdering, fertile heart.
Man and Woman sit at keyboards, side by side. They have headphones and are transcribing, typing rapidly.
She looks at him. Looks away. Looks back.
WOMAN: You look like you’re having fun. Working, sure, but really into it. Really focus on what’s in front of you. I like that.
I like that. I wonder what you’re thinking, there’s something going on there and sometimes you’re about to say it, but you don’t. “Could we have coffee sometime?” and if I didn’t want to I’d say so and I wouldn’t feel like you were drooling on my keyboard or anything.
But I wouldn’t say no. I’d say yes so fast. But you think if you said hello I’d feel harassed and complain and you’d get fired and how can you stand not expressing how strongly you feel about me?— If you do.
Maybe you’re married. That’s ok, I’d just like to know you better, and if it’s friendship, fine, and maybe your wife wouldn’t mind, you look as if you might attract a woman who was really open-minded and never jealous cause she’s probably really beautiful—
Maybe you’re gay. You don’t act gay, but that’s prejudice on my part, gay people act all kinds of ways, and I always get attracted by guys who are gay, damn it—
It’s me. You’re looking for someone younger. Somebody who looks like they go out on Saturday night and have lots of fun instead of sitting around balancing my checkbook. And my butt’s too big.
Sure, why notice? I’m replaceable. I could vanish from the earth tomorrow and about six people would notice. I could die and they could fill this job with somebody who felt like a woman and not the sexless slab of pot roast that this job turns me into.
She continues typing. Unison:
BOTH: To every thing there is a season.
Nothing new under the sun.
Business before pleasure.
Can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Cover your ass.
After a while, she looks at him.
WOMAN: Nice profile. Cute buns. I love it when he takes his shoes off under the desk. Love those black socks. How come guys don’t like themselves more? Somebody ought to tell men about themselves. Smell that smell. Scratch your face.
He does.
Open your mouth.
He continues doing as she asks, unconsciously.
Yeh, stretch. Enjoy it. Slick back your hair. Feel the hair. Touch your thighs. Sing me a lullaby.
He hums. She becomes conscious.
This is nuts. What am I sposed to be typing? I could just say something at break, and he might say oh that’s fabulous or he might say get lost. There’s a job to do, and that’s why we’re here, to do a job and not start breeding on company time, but I am a very good cook.
I’m a good cook. I do excellent things with a leg of lamb, or vegetarian, eggplant, turnips, you may not really imagine what’s possible with a turnip but I could show you. I could dangle it, and you could nibble.
He does.
Ohhh. . . !
MAN: What time do you have?
WOMAN: What?
MAN: My watch is wrong.
WOMAN: For what? Oh. Eleven.
MAN: Thanks.
They continue typing.
WOMAN: I could speak first. I could go ahead and say something. I could lean over and bite him on the elbow. Is he one of those guys who freeze up if the woman makes the move? You don’t look like you’d do that. You look like you’d appreciate me just saying, “Excuse me, do you have a second? I was wondering if sometime after work you might have a little time and since we sit here all day staring straight ahead it might be a good thing if we knew at least who we were sitting next to, and maybe—” I could do that. I could. I could imagine it.
Feel the fingers. What they’re spelling. I can hear it.
MAN: Succulent.
WOMAN: Keep on.
She feels his hands typing.
MAN: Breath. Gasping. Silken. Tumescent. Tart.
WOMAN: It’s better with two.
MAN: Fever. Heart. Presence. Flesh. Opulent. Twinge.
She slips between his arms, adds her fingers to his. Both typing, chanting:
BOTH: Fire. Flowing. Turgid. Slippery. Sweet. Pungent. Bristly. Insistent. Probe. Rummage. Meddle. Thrust.
WOMAN: Spell it out!
She climbs onto table, places her keyboard on herself. He types on her.
BOTH: Fluttering. Quivering. Spasms. Coming. Coming—
MAN: Lunch time.
He stops, unconscious of her. Takes out his lunch bag. She goes back to her place. They type with one hand as they open their lunches and eat.
BOTH: Everything in moderation.
All things come to her who waits.
I will come if I just wait.
Haste makes waste.
God grant me the serenity to accept very little.
They finish lunch, resume full-tempo typing.
Keep your mind in neutral. “The gross national product shows an uncharacteristic third-quarter decline in the rate of growth, but interest rates are expected. . .”
Interest. He looks so intense. Maybe he’s a musician, the way he hits the keys. I could tell him my brother plays the saxophone.
“On short-term mortgages. . .” Maybe he’s composing in his head. Maybe a whole symphony, and the orchestra, they don’t even have music, they just respond. He draws music out of them just by raising his finger, and there’s a surge—
“Of growth acceleration in the bond market. . .” And looks over at me, and I’m ready with my sheet music. . . and my strings. . .
He conducts, she responds physically. Now more vehement, now soft, legato, then staccato. Building. Diminishing. A trill—
Oh God, what that finger’s doing now!
Easy. I’m getting ahead. It’s still early afternoon. I’m making typos. Slow down. Spell it out. It’s my turn. You like to laugh? Tickle. Rub. Nibble.
She types single words. He responds.
Feel it? Is that good? Do I make you feel good? How good?
Tickle. Nip. Nibble. Nibble. Squeeze. Wiggle. Lick. Thrust. Twist. Shift key. Option. Enter. Return. Tab. Tab. Tab. Margin . . . release!
Not yet. Let’s play duets.
Both type, responding to each other’s rhythm and touch, very gently.
Yes. . . Oh yes. . . Oh sweet. . .
They continue, she sometimes solo, other times blending.
Magic. Heart. Feeling. Rain. Rainbows. Pain. Lips. Honey. Salt. Sex. Hair. Giggles. Sniffles. Whispers. Mumbles. Rustles. Squeaks. Smells. Tickles. Spring.
They stop. After a moment of silence, he continues typing, realistically. She removes her headphones.
What’s the point? What’s the point of fantasy if fantasy isn’t real? If I can’t take it home, and have it for dinner, and keep some leftovers to warm up? The fireworks shoot up to the sky but they never explode. On the Fourth of July, at least, it’s fantasy and it’s real.
Time’s passing. I’m making enough to live on. I’ve got a decent apartment. All I really need is to be totally obsessed by somebody I don’t even know, and who probably makes spelling errors.
There’s no possibility. I could come right out with the most straightforward invitation and there’s as much chance as for rocks to talk. If I just said, “You know I was really curious and interested to know you better—” And he’d say, “Me too,” and I’d say, “And curious to know what you do”—
MAN: Me too.
WOMAN: And maybe we could actually take a lunch break one of these days—
MAN: Instead of just a sandwich—
WOMAN: And spend a little time.
MAN: Great. Sure. Tomorrow?
She becomes aware that he spoke.
WOMAN: What?
MAN: Want to do that tomorrow?
WOMAN: Do what?
MAN: What you suggested. Have lunch.
WOMAN: I did? Yes. I did. Did I? I did.
MAN: I get like that too. It’s the rhythm.
WOMAN: Do you believe in extrasensory perception?
MAN: I feel vibes.
WOMAN: I wonder what we could bring about just by imagining? I wonder if we could be a whole flight of birds. I wonder how high they fly.
They come together slowly, open their mouths to kiss. Lips very close but not touching, they inhale each other.
Baucis & Philemon
A table, several chairs, cardboard cartons stacked. A mop and broom lean against the back of the table. Woman unpacks a box. Man carries another box in, sets it down.
WOMAN: Is there more downstairs?
MAN: That’s it. When we gonna eat?
WOMAN: When you go out and get something.
MAN: We had leftovers.
WOMAN: I didn’t move the leftovers.
MAN: Three flights. We’ll stay in shape.
WOMAN: I started unpacking—
MAN: I like the tree—
WOMAN: And stopped.
MAN: Outside the window.
WOMAN: It’s a tree.
MAN: I’m not too happy either.
WOMAN: Then act like it. It’s too small.
MAN: Shoves us closer together.
WOMAN: We never needed walls for that. There was always a persuasive urge.
They touch.
The water pressure’s low, ten minutes to fill the toilet. Faucet drips. Window’s jammed. Paint over paint over paint. And it smells. It smells like old people. Smells like where you know you’re gonna die.
MAN: It’s two hundred dollars cheaper.
WOMAN: I wonder who’s going to feed the squirrel.
She starts to cry. Stops.
I’ll unpack one box.
MAN: I was trying to remember— Thinking about the tree—
WOMAN: What story?
MAN: I didn’t say “story.” I was going to say “Trying to remember a story.” but I didn’t say “story.” You said it before I said it.
WOMAN: You never get to the point. What story?
MAN: I forgot to call for the phone.
WOMAN: This was Friday.
MAN: I’ll go down and call Elena. She wanted to know we got moved.
WOMAN: Don’t tell her we did it ourself.
MAN: It had something to do with trees. It was the Greeks or the Romans or something.
WOMAN: You told me that story.
MAN: Wh— I don’t remember it!
WOMAN: You dredged it up when I had to quit my job, and it was supposed to make me feel better, and we got in a big fight because I had no intention of feeling better. Are you going out?
She digs in the box. He rises.
MAN: What cash you got?
WOMAN: Some change.
MAN: Check shoulda come.
Picks up box to move it. Throws it on the floor with a crash.
WOMAN: That was the crock pot.
MAN: I just— Every step I go up, I taste the bitter. I’m up to here with it. Think about the pension, how they screwed me outa that. Goddamn commercials that say we got the best health care in the world, and don’t we got the bills to prove it! And the rent goes up, and I’m looking at the want ads and maybe I could go down where they’re building the new hotel, and there’s three thousand people waiting in line for work, and they’ll hire me to stand by the door and smile at rich people. You betcha. It’s like the fall of Rome.
WOMAN: You couldn’t always tell it was falling. It fell mostly at night.
MAN: I think how is our life turning out, and then, dammit, why do I think that Turning Out is what life is about? That’s like the main part of the gourmet dinner is next morning, when you go to the bathroom.
WOMAN: (digging in box) What is all this? It’s like old broken toys. Things we played house with once.
MAN: Elena’s dolls. She picked all the hair off.
WOMAN: Time when all you need in the world is an old bald doll.
She continues unpacking the box. Gradually, as they continue, objects, images, creatures emerge from the box and begin to play out a story.
Your granddad told you. The gods came to visit.
MAN: That was it. The gods. Why that ever stuck.
WOMAN: I don’t want to hear it.
MAN: Walking down the road.
WOMAN: Gods?
MAN: Gods walk, sometimes. There were two old people, and the gods came to visit, and the old people fed’em, so the gods gave’em a wish. So they asked, “Just let us die the same time, both together.”
WOMAN: They could do that in a car crash.
MAN: This was before freeways.
WOMAN: I’d want you to live.
MAN: They turn into trees.
He goes to her, embraces her.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, last night.
WOMAN: It happens. I enjoyed the closeness.
MAN: Just a door in me that wouldn’t open.
She embraces him.
Why I’m thinking of— Maybe it’s being so damned mad that even I forget what I had for breakfast this morning.
WOMAN: You had a muffin.
MAN: You don’t have to tell me! . . . Maybe the gods come visit we’ll get free samples.
WOMAN: Some alternate universe.
MAN: Don’t I wish.
No, my granddad told me it’s true. True story. Said it was in such and such a country, and he’d been there. He’d seen the trees. What’s the box?
WOMAN: Wonderment.
MAN: Old stories.
WOMAN: And lies.
MAN: Lies. But wonderful lies. Not the pathetic lies they blare at us now. These are lies with fifty heads.
WOMAN: And a face that turns you to Jello.
He finds gods’ masks in the box.
Elena’s masks!
He places them on the tops of the broom & mop handles.
MAN: The gods go to every house. They say, “We’re thirsty.” They knock on a thousand doors.
WOMAN: “We gave at the office.”
MAN: “There’s nobody home.” And the gods cried out like great bulls.
They roar.
The doors stayed shut. They came to the cottage.
WOMAN: It was a shack.
MAN: Third-floor walkup.
WOMAN: They knocked. They cried like great bulls.
They roar.
MAN: Door opens. Old people. Man—
WOMAN: Woman.
OLD MAN: Who’s that?
GODS: We hunger. We thirst.
OLD MAN: Come on in. . . . You can sit down.
GODS: We stand.
MAN: I thought of’em standing there. Scared me.
OLD WOMAN: We’ve got wine. Get the wine.
MAN: They don’t look happy.
WOMAN: They never had money. Even when they found the mushrooms.
MAN: They made some money on that.
WOMAN: Money from magic. It seeps like water.
MAN: They scramble for supper.
OLD WOMAN: Well there’s bread.
OLD MAN: Maybe cheese.
OLD WOMAN: Leftovers. Grapefruit.
OLD MAN: Give’em the grapefruit.
OLD WOMAN: They can’t eat a grapefruit for supper. They need meat.
OLD MAN: There’s no meat.
OLD WOMAN: There’s the goose.
MAN: They can’t kill the goose. The goose lays eggs.
WOMAN: He chases the goose, while she sets the table.
He chases. She prepares.
OLD WOMAN: Prop the table-leg. The cloth doesn’t fit, but it’s clean. Mint-leaves there, and olives, apples, love the smell of apples. Cabbage and bacon. Grapes.
GODS: Forget the goose.
OLD WOMAN: There’s wine.
All focus. Gods drink.
GODS: Drink.
OLD MAN: That’s all we got.
GODS: Drink.
OLD MAN: It fills up.
OLD WOMAN: It’s full.
GODS: Drink.
OLD MAN: It’s full again.
They are terrified.
OLD WOMAN: What’s going on here?
GODS: We are gods.
OLD WOMAN: Oh dear.
Man and Woman pull away from the vision, close together.
WOMAN: What do you say when gods come?
MAN: You say, “Who, me?”
WOMAN: You say, “Where were you when I needed you?”
MAN: You forget what you’d planned to say.
WOMAN: You look for their name tags.
MAN: You wish you could catch the goose.
WOMAN: And they say—
GODS: We are gods.
WOMAN: Why do they come at the dark time?
MAN: In the bitterness?
WOMAN: When he’s broken?
MAN: When she pulls away.
WOMAN: And they say—
GODS: We are gods.
WOMAN: Which gods?
MAN: Zeus, maybe. Whoever they opened the door to. Gods. Thunder, lightning, turn your hubbie’s sweetie into a cow, that stuff.
WOMAN: It might’ve been Jesus Christ.
MAN: There’da been more publicity.
WOMAN: Who was standing outside when they opened the door?
MAN: There’s nobody outside when you open the door. It’s opening the door that does it.
WOMAN: Then the gods are there.
MAN: Gods that’ll drown all the neighbors, for one thing.
GODS: We are gods.
OLD MAN: We caught onto that.
OLD WOMAN: I hope you won’t kill us.
OLD MAN: Nor the neighbors.
GODS: We kill them, yes.
OLD WOMAN: The Andersons owe us money.
The Gods roar.
Well whatever.
GODS: Fear not.
MAN: Easy for them to say.
WOMAN: We climb to the top of the hill. And we see it. Flooded.
MAN: Swept clear by the powers that be.
WOMAN: Neighborhood gone. Where Elena buried the hamster.
MAN: All gone.
WOMAN: Except for the cottage.
MAN: It’s a shack.
WOMAN: Third-floor walk-up.
MAN: The sun on the bricks. It’s like gold.
WOMAN: Like a temple.
MAN: Pack it up! My grandpa told the story, the gods were good, and the stingy neighbors got wasted, and the old folks hit the jackpot. It wasn’t the story of some tired old bastard, who can’t get the bitterness out, and he tries to make love and he’s impotent half the time cause there’s something broken inside and that’s where the bitter is, where he’s already dead.
WOMAN: (with great love) You fool.
GODS: Old Ones.
MAN: Here it comes.
GODS: What is your will?
MAN: Bullshit. Oh bullshit! Bullshit!
OLD WOMAN: They said we can have what we want.
OLD MAN: Well what do you want?
OLD WOMAN: I don’t know. Maybe a pot roast?
OLD MAN: Something big.
OLD WOMAN: I don’t want something big.
OLD MAN: Maybe a million bucks?
OLD WOMAN: I’d be scared shitless.
MAN: It’s pathetic. Grandpa, you lose me right there. You don’t starve people all their lives and then feed’em a turkey. They don’t know it’s food.
WOMAN: But they decided.
MAN: What?
WOMAN: To take the same journey.
MAN: Same journey.
WOMAN: That’s what they said.
OLD MAN: She and I, take the journey.
OLD WOMAN: That’s what we want.
GODS: Granted.
MAN: When do they turn to trees?
WOMAN: Not yet. They came back to their place. They came in.
MAN: New smells.
WOMAN: It was a temple. They’d lived in a temple all those years. Never knew it.
OLD MAN: Never knew it.
WOMAN: They came in. And the room was full, with memories.
OLD MAN: Sit on the steps.
OLD WOMAN: Chilly.
MAN: “Take the journey.” What do they mean?
GODS: Granted.
MAN: Die together?
WOMAN: I don’t want to die together. Who’d take care of Elena?
MAN: She’s forty years old.
WOMAN: That’s true. Sun feels good.
MAN: Is that an owl?
WOMAN: Pink over there.
MAN: I hear things nobody seems to hear. Did you sleep?
WOMAN: I must have. I was dreaming.
MAN: I could play the accordion, but I don’t have an accordion.
WOMAN: I miss the goose.
MAN: We could get a duck.
WOMAN: We got married a day like this. They predicted storms.
MAN: They were right.
WOMAN: It was windy.
MAN: Walk straight into the wind.
WOMAN: Blows through you.
MAN: Goes past, it passes, it’s past.
WOMAN: Migrating birds—
MAN: The mating cries—
WOMAN: You reach out a hand, and they catch it, and reach out the two of us, catch lovers, friends, and our hands weave like the skydivers’ web, hang on by a hand or a foot or a pantsleg, drifting off to the west—
MAN: And we’re here, and we’re gone, and we’re dead, and we’re giving birth—
WOMAN: Drifting off to the west.
They kiss.
You taste like wheatberries.
MAN: I had a muffin.
WOMAN: What about me?
MAN: Apples.
They look around, puzzled.
Is this the time now?
WOMAN: Take the same journey.
MAN: Are we dying now?
WOMAN: No. The journey is rooting and reaching. The sweet flow at the core. The branching. The blossom.
MAN: How does it happen?
WOMAN: Your lips look chapped.
MAN: Kinda scaly.
WOMAN: Stubble.
MAN: Hands go numb—
WOMAN: Thick—
MAN: Fingers bud—
WOMAN: Leaves—
MAN: Green leaves—
WOMAN: Burst out—
Reach to one another.
They saw each other change, and as the foliage spread, they had time to say—
BOTH: Drink deep!
WOMAN: And the bark sealed over their mouths.
Hands over mouths. Silence.
MAN: We show that we’re trees by raising our hands.
Each slowly raises an arm, with outspread fingers. Silence, then bells.
WOMAN: Feel the wind?
MAN: We breathe the same wind.
WOMAN: We drink the same water.
MAN: Feel the wind?
BOTH: We drink the same water
We breathe the same wind
We burn, making light and love—
We have roots in the belly of the Mother.
We drink the same water
We breathe the same wind
We burn, making light and love—
We have roots in the belly of the Mother.
We drink the same water
We breathe the same wind
We burn, making light and love—
We have roots in the belly of the Mother.