The Beautiful Calamity

In the dead of night a young man received a dreadful message on his cellular device, and then time came to a stop. The little words appeared before him in a shroud of the surreal. They took form one by one, and then solidified inside of the young mans panting heart. The tiny characters on his hand held screen seemed to burn through his retinas. They were cruel and inconceivable. He could not fathom that such a reality could have come to be. He took it for a tasteless joke at first. When it became clear to him that the text was anything but farcical he attempted to convince himself otherwise. He was ill equipped for the fallout of the message. Delving into his vast mental vault of words in an attempt to formulate some sort of response he emerged empty handed, save for a new understanding of tragedy. There were no words adequate enough to properly react to this most unthinkable news.
The woman he loved was dead.
She had metamorphosed into a beautiful calamity. She had broken his heart and then petrified it so the deed could never be undone.
For so long he had held on to hope.
He needed to believe that what had happened between them wasn’t some illusory perception of love.
He knew- he was certain- it was not.
She needed to exterminate the seeds of sorrow that had rooted themselves within the secret places of her soul.
She knew- she was certain- she could not.
As the wretched writing pierced his heart and tainted his peace of mind, he did not feel his body sink to the ground. His limbs betrayed him, as if his bones had turned to pudding.
The feeling in his fingers waned and turned to pins and needles. The tiny technological harbinger of madness and its nefarious little words slipped from his grasp. His body and mind were flooded by sorrow so completely that he did not feel the deluge cascading down his cheeks. He sank into a thickened sea of despair. It enveloped him, and deprived him of any possibility hope. This pain was unlike anything he had felt before. It overpowered even his most basic human functions. Amidst the soupy amalgamation of feeling, during a brief moment of clarity, he began to suspect that he would be incomplete for the remainder of his existence.
In just a matter of seconds he had made a near complete transformation into a pulpy mess. Horrified bystanders stood staring in pity and fear. They did nothing, knowing not what to do. Of course, despite their inaction, there was nothing that could have been done.
He loved her more than he had ever loved any other. In fact, before she serendipitously wandered into his world, he had come to believe that he would never love again. He had worn his heart on his sleeve and had it beaten and tattered and abused for far too long.
Then, suddenly it seemed, she appeared to him as if some mysterious beacon, calling him to shore. A siren whose song was so calm, so gentle, so delicate, that even the most world weary traveler of life’s labyrinthine tide could find solace in the sound of her voice.
In her eyes was compassion defined. When she spoke, he felt humbled. When she moved, the heavens sighed in admiration. When he was in her arms, she vanquished his every fear and thwarted his deepest doubts and insecurities. When there was no book or bottle deep enough for him to escape into, he turned to her- not knowing that all the while there was a much darker storm that swelled, hidden within her.
A silent and ominous tempest.
Nothing like the brief horrors that had occasionally shaken him. Now he wondered, perhaps she had been too generous with her love. Or perhaps he had not loved her enough.
Indeed, she possessed unbridled generosity. No one could question that. She poured her heart out into the hands of beasts, and sought nothing in return. She was a saint, an angel, and a goddess. She was all of these things to him, but his feelings for her, no matter how strong, could not convince her that his perception of her was true. She could not see what he, and many others saw in her. She had metamorphosed into an ashen idol. A tattered visage of hope that had suffocated in the chaos of her own reality.
He knew nothing of the sorrow that had burrowed and gestated deep within the nooks of her consciousness. It broke him to think that she couldn’t confide in him, even after all that they had been through. The idea that something so horrendous had been tearing her apart from the inside, unbeknownst to him, ate away at his sanity.
A cold wind bit him as he entered the open air. The world was roaring but the only sound he heard was the steady tap of his feet on concrete. His head hung low while his eyes fixated on this newfound void in his mind. His legs moved swiftly and without his knowledge or permission. His body operated entirely by instinct, or perhaps, some more basic subconscious engine. Those tiny words that had shattered him remained rattling about in his skull. They tainted his every thought and attacked his peace of mind relentlessly. Every ounce of his being felt assaulted. He was in pain. Real tangible pain, whose source could no longer be located in this world. He began to feel sick. It felt as if his body intended to purge itself of these toxic feelings. Suddenly his insides ejected their contents onto the dimly lit road and he found himself reeling. His head was spinning faster and faster. He closed his eyes hoping to make it stop, but to no avail.
Confusion followed. Then fear. More confusion. Sorrow. Now, anger. Regret. Confusion. Sorrow. Anger. Sorrow, over and over- and in so many shades. Shades of misery, despair, woe, and grief. They were interrupted by self loathing. Unfathomable self loathing. Anger. Confusion. Fear. Hopelessness. Confusion unbound. But, oh, always there was the regret. Regret. Regret. Regret. Regret. He was drowning in it.
Finally, strangely, and unnervingly, he found a moment of peace.
After his weakened mind finally dragged itself up onto the shores of solace, he took a moment to rest, while watching this one final monstrous wave of wild emotion swell just offshore, silhouetted, blocking the horizon.
It wouldn’t be long now. Soon the wave would crash into his minds island and he would feel the weight of truth pressing down on him. The truth that she was gone. That this could never be undone. That she had left him with no choice but to let go. That it was never his choice to begin with.
The childish notion that love conquers all- that love could cure all ailments and absolve us of our sins- it was dead.
He was lost now. He didn’t know how much time had passed.
No matter, he thought, because in those seconds- maybe minutes, perhaps hours- he had aged a lifetime. Now he would have to endure another, slower, more lonesome one.
Even if some sacred soul, capable of infiltrating the inner sanctum of his heart and mind were to appear, there would always be a notion echoing deep within him, nagging him, reminding him, that the only person he could ever truly know, was himself.
He sat down where he was, in the middle of some empty suburban street in the dead of night, and wept until he could weep no longer.
Then he tried, and tried, and tried harder, to collect the shards of his broken heart and piece them back together. Even after many years had passed, he would never assemble the puzzle quite right, but he thought, perhaps no one will notice. Or perhaps someone will accept it for what it is. Perhaps the world was already filled with people such as himself. Barely held together, shambling about in search of proof that they’re not alone. Proof, which, is evident all around us if we have the courage to open our eyes.
Proof that heartache might be just another inevitable part of what it means to be human.
To be alive.
To feel.
Gradually he found what he was looking for. Reluctantly, he let go.
Even after time dulled the pain, there remained that quiet distant nagging deep within his self, hidden, but not forgotten.
It was a whimper that lasted until the end of his days. However, as fate would have it, that tiny remnant of a voice was the proof he sought all along. What was once a source of such uncertainty and fear and insecurity, became the validation he needed. To prove that he was not alone. To prove that he had felt whole heartedly. And to prove that he could do it again.

The Man Who Literally Blew The F**k Up

As Edgar Whrong sat in his bedroom, he could feel it growing inside of him. Like a battering ram tapping furiously at the walls of his mind, the feeling persisted. He had never felt this way before. It was curious. Almost pleasant. But then it began to hurt. It hurt him more than he had ever been hurt before. Until this moment, sitting in his bedroom, thinking this thought, he hadn’t even considered that such a pain were possible.
“Oh, the feels,” were his last words.
Now, he knew. Now he felt this incurable pain, and he was certain that he hadn’t felt the worst of it yet. It began to grow and pulsate and change. It overwhelmed him, body and mind. He stood, and his head grew hot, and then cold simultaneously. He looked both up and down, and then all around. He saw everything without moving an eye, and in fact without even opening a single lid.
He was not looking, but he did see. This thought. Edgar was powerless against it. Only a potent notion was all it was. It had become known and could not become unknown. It was a vast idea that, if it had slowly dawned on him, perhaps could have lead to great ingenuities and progress.
Instead it came all at once. One great wall of feeling that was, without question, so very very true.
For some reason, on this lonely morning in April, Edgar chose to think of something that was so sad, and so awful, that it literally made him blow the fuck up. As he sat there thinking, his emotions welled up in him, and then overflowed. A damn broke inside of his mind, and that damn was the only thing holding back a wave of psychic influence that had laid dormant inside of Edgar for his entire life.
The forensic scientists were baffled by the horrendous results of Edgar’s explosion. There was blood everywhere. Shards of bone stuck out of the dry wall. A single testicle hung from the ceiling fan, which continued to spin around and around again. It was unlike anything that had ever been recorded in human history. When first responders arrived on the scene they expected to find a body. There had been reports of some calamity from the neighbors. A phone call was made at around 9:02 A.M. by one Mrs. Fairsole complaining of a loud noise, which she could only describe as “explosiony”, despite the dispatcher’s repeated attempts to obtain more concrete information. The incident was nearly overlooked, were it not for several other subsequent calls complaining of a very similar, yet vague disturbance.
The paramedics simply could not have been prepared for what they would find, based on this description.
Edgars family was shocked but not entirely surprised. His mother commented to a local news reporter that, “he was always a bit strange”, and that “something was bound to happen”. This peculiar response to Edgar’s death spawned a criminal investigation into the possibility of murder. Investigators poked and prodded and pried at Edgar’s home and family life on and off for the better part of a decade. However, no evidence was ever amounted to prove that either of them had any involvement. And indeed, there wasn’t any evidence to be found. Edgar’s death was not caused by the hand of any one person. The tragedy was a mere consequence of ignorance.
Yes, ignorance.
Ignorance towards the dangers of complete, unadulterated truth. Edgar was only capable of understanding such a truth because of his latent psychic abilities. But, his mind was not ready for the shock of total, unaltered, and utterly truthful truthiness. As a result of Edgars ignorance, and reckless thinking, he literally blew the fuck up. The thought, which he had thought, had filled him to the brim with every single human emotion in its purest form. The chemicals which acted upon his mind to stimulate such effects were not filtered or restrained in any way. The feels and the truthiness crashed together in waves of madness, and then came to one ultimate and inescapable outcome.
By necessity the thought grew as thoughts often do. It took the form of every contradiction and polar opposite, as if they were forcefully put together regardless of sense. These contradictions and opposites combined, and began to form a singularity. Were it not for his lack of cosmic influence, Edgar very well may have caused the total obliteration of the universe that day. Alas, though he was made of star stuff, it had withered and wilted and turned to flesh, which, as a cosmic commodity is completely worthless. Thusly, nothing ever came of the whole ordeal. Never the less, the story is pretty extraordinary, wouldn’t you say? I mean, it’s not every day that people just blow up.
Allow me to amend that. In actuality, people do blow up every day. Just not like this guy. He did it unlike everyone else. And no one ever knew about it. Not until now. He was the man who blew the fuck up.

The Astrophysicist

SETTING

A very untidy courtyard. There is a sundial in the direct center of stage that vines have almost completely encompassed. Only the dial itself remains untouched. There are soft, dusty rays of light pouring through the overgrown foliage.

The courtyard and it’s characters exist within an alternate reality, where a seismic cataclysm has caused the world to cease turning on it’s axis and catapult out of orbit.

 

CHARACTERS

 

DR. STEVEN STILLS, early or mid thirties

 

ELLOISE FRANKLIN, late twenties

 

 

After the audience has settled, and the lights have dimmed, the sound of trickling water from a bamboo fountain is heard, followed after a moment or two by the clack of the spout as it rocks back.

*These sounds continue through out the opening dialogue, and fade inconspicuously as the scene grows in intensity.*

Slowly, soft dusty rays of sunlight pouring down through overgrown foliage above a stone wall illuminate a sundial, SC, that has been almost completely claimed by vines and moss. Now the lights rise, illuminating the remainder of the space. STEVEN stands just behind the sun dial, staring at it in tense and dire contemplation . The courtyard is small with a rustic wooden door SR. Up SR, atop the stone wall encompassing the courtyard is a rain spout that pours dirty water down onto a rocking bamboo fountain placed atop the grate of a small storm drain. The bamboo spout begins to tip again, and as it clacks against its stone base Steven becomes startled, jumping only slightly, almost a twitch. He is distracted only briefly, and then as if his train of though had never been interrupted he goes on staring, wide eyed and motionless. Again the bamboo spout begins to tip, and just as it is about sound off, the courtyard door opens, catching STEVEN’s eye and prompting him to pretend that his peace of mind is still intact. He reaches his arm forward to lean on the sun dial. His head falls loosely between his shoulders as he attempts to appear at ease. ELLOISE enters, carrying a tumbler of scotch containing a few fingers.

                                                ELLOISE

I brought scotch.

STEVEN does not answer. ELLOISE folds her arms, resting the tumbler against her elbow. Pause.

Your gun isn’t in it’s case.

                                                                        Pause.

                                                STEVEN

I took it out for a while.

                                                                        Pause.

Just shooting the shit… can’t figure out where to start.

 

                                                ELLOISE

She sighs quietly, and looks up to the sky. Pause.           

How long do we have left?

 

Pause. STEVEN looks at ELLOISE with fearful eyes and then he rears up, looking to the sky with a deep breath. Letting out a sigh, he crosses his arms and paces SL.

                                                STEVEN

You know you didn’t have to bring me anything… I have legs.

 

                                                ELLOISE

I’m not doing it because I have to.

                                                                        Pause

You’ve been distant… I’m worried.

STEVEN scoffs at her concern. ELLOISE glares at him, clearly unhappy with his response.

I asked you how long.

 

                                                STEVEN

Why does it matter?

 

                                                ELLOISE

Because, I would like to know.

                                                                        Pause

And who better to ask than the brilliant Doctor Steven Stills?

 

                                                STEVEN

Don’t say that.

 

                                                ELLOISE

What? You’re name?

 

                                                STEVEN

Elloise, why are you out here?

 

                                                ELLOISE

I’m worried about you.

 

                                                STEVEN

What’s the point? Nothing matters anymore.

 

                                                ELLOISE

Just because time is running out doesn’t mean we can’t be happy… Here.

                                                                        She goes to hand him the tumbler.

Drink it, you’ll feel better.

 

                                                STEVEN

I’m fine.

 

                                                ELLOISE

Oh?…You’re fine

She shoves the tumbler in his face, nearly spilling the scotch.

You’re fine like a corpses ass. Would you just let yourself forget? Drink it.

 

                                                STEVEN

Elloise, I’m fine. I was just out here enjoying the-

 

                                                ELLOISE

She places the tumbler on the sun dial, annoyed.

Enjoying the what Steven? You’ve been out here for… I don’t even know how long-

 

                                                STEVEN

How could you?

 

                                                ELLOISE

                                                                        Pause. Misinterpreting his meaning.

How could I? What do you mean, how could I? I care about you Steven. I’m trying to help you put your mind at ease. Because I love you. That’s how.

Brief pause, Steven understands that his meaning was unclear, and opens his mouth patiently to explain, but ELLOISE cuts him off with a final note of subdued desperation.

I’m trying, Steven.

 

                                                STEVEN

Pause. He clears his throat quietly and adopts a sensitive, though somewhat superficially empathetic tone.

I’m sorry, Elloise… I didn’t mean to be insensitive… I know you care. It means a lot to me. It really does. I just… I just need to be alone. I need to think. 

                                                ELLOISE

No, you can’t just brush me off and pretend everything’s alright. No one is all right. You of all people are certainly not all right. You haven’t been since you…

Pause. She sighs and looks at the door. She takes a few steps towards it and then stops.

Believe me, I understand. I do. But you’re not the only one struggling with this. Don’t hide yourself. Not from me. Don’t tuck your feelings away, and then pretend I don’t notice when there’s something missing in you. I can tell. I love you, and I know you.

                                                                        Pause. She turns and looks at STEVEN.

You’ve been far away for too long, and I need you back.

 

Steven has difficulty responding, still stuck on her misinterpretation of his earlier remark. He opens his mouth to speak, but becomes flustered and gives up.

 

                                                ELLOISE

What? What is it? Speak. Let it out, please, I’m begging you. Just give me something.

                                               

STEVEN

I…

Sighs, knowing what he has to say is not the cathartic release she was hoping for.

I didn’t mean… When I said… What I meant was, how could you tell how long I’ve been out here for?

                                                                        Pause

 

                                                ELLOISE

What?

 

                                                STEVEN

Its… ah… Forget it, Elloise. It’s nothing. I’m just an idiot. That’s it.

 

                                                ELLOISE

You’ve spent your adult life studying astrophysics, Steven. That doesn’t exactly equate to stupidity. So what is it you’re trying to say?

 

STEVEN

I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, I was just pointing out that there’s no way to tell time. When you came out here you said, I’d been out here for ‘you didn’t even know how long’. So I asked, how could you?

                                                                        Pause

You can’t. I thought it was funny at the time. If I’d known then, what I know now, I would have said it differently.

He turns to face Elloise, finally lifting the drink from the sundial. He gazes into the amber fluid, as if questioning its very existence.

Maybe it’s been days. Maybe hours. Months… Although I suppose I wouldn’t have survived out here for more than one month without eating or drinking…

 

Pause. He takes a sip, savoring its bite. Without thinking, he becomes distracted, and allows his mind to wander past the confines of his anxiety. He begins to meander about the courtyard.

You know… Einstein had a theory that a human subject could maximize productivity if they minimized the time they spent eating and sleeping.

 

                                                ELLOISE

I don’t suppose Einstein ever tested that theory.

 

                                                STEVEN

He did. On himself.

 

                                                ELLOISE

And the result?

 

                                                STEVEN

He died.

Long pause. Steven is once again reminded of what was haunting him.

                                                ELLOISE

Please stop doing this to yourself.

                                                                        Pause

I don’t want to lose you.

 

                                                STEVEN

We’re all going to die.

                                                                        Pause

Time has stopped. The world has literally ceased to turn. We are adrift in space, and every day the sun gets further and further away. We are being tossed into an asteroid belt.

                                                                        Pause

When this planet makes it through to the other side, it’ll be Swiss fucking cheese.

                                                                        Pause

Doom is imminent, and nobody would be the wiser if it hadn’t been for little. Old. Me.

 

                                                ELLOISE

It’s not your fault. You didn’t cause this, and you can’t stop it either.

 

                                                STEVEN

I could have spared you. I could have protected the world from ever knowing… Ignorance… Ignorance is bliss. That’s what they say. It is. And it’s true. They would never have known anything was wrong, until it was too late. It could have been quick and painless…

 

                                                ELLOISE

Someone else would have figured it out eventually. People knew something was wrong long before it happened. Isn’t that why you looked into the possibility in the first place? You weren’t alone. People found you. Funded your research, they published your writing, all of this because they believed the same thing that you did. And you were right. It’s not as if you didn’t try to prevent it… People just didn’t listen.

Pause. She walks over to the sun dial and uses it as a seat, facing STEVEN.

I’m thankful, you know.

 

                                                STEVEN

For what? What is there to be thankful for?

 

                                                ELLOISE

For you. That you were brave enough to give the world the truth, and human enough to trust the world not to fall apart in its wake.

 

                                                STEVEN

I wasn’t brave. And I may be human, but only by nature. Inside I am a deranged beast. I gave the world the truth because I was scared. It doesn’t matter that I tried, or that nobody listened. I held on to hope for so long… I thought that I could stop it…

                                                                        His voice begins to shake.

If I had known how it would all play out… Everything I’ve done… all of my trying… every moment of my life… It’s worthless

 

Pause, he begins to weep. ELLOISE stands and goes to comfort him. He turns away from her embrace.

Who was I to choose? Why did I have to be the one clever enough to figure it out first?

                                                                        Pause.

I’m a fool. An idiot who was tinkering with things beyond anyone’s control…

And I hate myself for it.

 

                                                ELLOISE

Oh, you… How!? How can you hate yourself for this? You say you wish that humanity had been kept in the dark, but I don’t believe you. Do you want to know what I think?

                                                                        Pause

I think that you’re taking responsibility for the entire world’s grief and sorrow, because you can’t face the fact that you never had a choice. You didn’t get to choose whether or not you wanted to know that the world was ending, because you were too busy worrying about everyone else, and now that there’s nothing left to save, you’re taking it out on yourself… The world was going to find out, no matter what, Steven. They would have noticed that the stars were different, or the sun was screwy or something!

                       

                                                STEVEN

                                                                        Upset, he turns to face ELLOISE, and yells.

You don’t understand, Elloise! This kind of thing was too big for one person alone.

 

                                                ELLOISE

You were not alone! You are not alone…

                                                                        Pause

Not that you’ve taken the time to notice.

 

                                                STEVEN

But I am! I am alone. You don’t know what it’s like to be responsible… to be the one who tells the world of its terminal diagnosis. There are more than seven billion people in the world, and none of them asked for any of this!

                                                                        Pause

We get letters. Have you seen them? Have you read any of them?

 

                                                ELLOISE

 

                                                STEVEN

The world blames me! To everyone else, I’m the fuckin’ anti-christ! Every letter-

 

                                                ELLOISE

Not every letter.

 

                                                STEVEN

Damn near most of them, Elloise.

 

                                               

 

ELLOISE

What about the others? Hm? The letters, thanking you for your honesty, your brilliance-

 

                                                STEVEN

What the hell do they know?! It doesn’t matter what they think.

 

                                                ELLOISE

What about me? Doesn’t it matter what I think?

                                                                        Pause

Because I think it was the right thing to do. You could have lied, but you chose to leave humanity with its dignity in tact. The truth is a hard thing to come by in this world. People deserve the truth, whether they asked for it or not.

 

                                                STEVEN

Oh, please… You’re being so fucking melodramatic… There is always truth. There will always be truth. Even if the human race isn’t here to experience it.

 

                                                                        Pause

 

                                                ELLOISE

At the very least you should find solace in the fact that because of you, the world will spend its final days in a time of complete, uncompromised peace. No wars, no chaos, no riots in the streets… Why bother with any of that in a world without a future?

                                                                        Pause

There’s never been anything like it.

 

                                                STEVEN

And there never will be, ever again. Everything is meaningless now. What purpose could life hold when the entire time we’ve spent on this planet, everything we’ve accomplished, all of our knowledge and wisdom, is going to be obliterated without a trace? It is as if we never existed in the first place.

Long pause. He goes to sit in front of the sundial, facing the audience. He huddles underneath it, clasping his hands in front of his lips as he searches for words.

I know… that you’re trying to stop me from taking my life, Elloise… I’m listening. I’m trying, I swear I am. But I just don’t see the point. It’s all over. Everything. Why shouldn’t I?

 

Long pause. ELLOISE, feeling defeated by STEVEN’s immovable sorrow falls silent. She looks away, staring towards the sunlight through the foliage.

                                               

ELLOISE

I love you.

                                                                        Pause. STEVEN does not respond.

STEVEN looks up at ELLOISE. ELLOISE gets down on her knees beside him.

I said, I love you.

                                                                        Pause

                                                STEVEN

I… I know…

                                                                        Beat

Elloise stands and turns away. She begins to cry, covering her mouth to muffle the sound.

Elloise. I’m sorry. I know that you need me right now-

 

                                                ELLOISE

No! No, you know what, I don’t! I may love you, and I may want to keep you in my life, but I don’t need anyone. That’s what hurts the most about this… this… fucking bullshit you’re putting me through. You treat me like I’m some sort of responsibility. Like it’s a burden to have someone in your life who is willing to stay with you until the end of the god damned world.

I’m still here because I thought that maybe you still loved me, but you don’t. You think I’m weak. You think that I need you… I don’t!

ELLOISE steps with resentment around the sundial. She towers over him and his refuge from upstage, leaning over it to be sure that he can hear.

 

You aren’t the only one who is scared shitless, Steven. The difference between you and me, is that while you’ve been out here staring into nothingness, savoring your existential crisis, sulking over how damned you are, I’ve been alone thinking about you and how we used to be alive together. I’ve wasted too much time already trying to build a bridge back to that. That. Do you even remember what that felt like?! That, Steven, is what I want. I cannot spend the end of the world fighting to make you care. I won’t. I want you to want to care! I want you to love me, and want me back.

Pause. She relaxes, picks up the tumbler from the top of the sundial. It is still mostly full. Pausing, she takes a swig and steps away from the sundial towards the exit.

 

But you don’t… You can’t… You can’t even tell me you love me. You’ve forgotten how. You’ve let yourself believe that you had the power to save everyone for so long that you’ve actually begun to believe it. You’ve turned yourself into a neglectful god, and forgotten that you once cared about something other than your self.

                                                                        Pause

I’m tired of feeling like I’m alone in this. I’m tired of letting you own all the tragedy in the world.

                                                                        Pause

You don’t own mine.

                                                                        ELLOISE finishes the rest of the scotch in a single swig and places it carelessly upon the sundial. She walks to the door, reaching for the handle, and then turns away. She clenches her lips together, holding in the urge to continue verbally deconstructing STEVEN. She squeezes her fists and paces around the courtyard. ELLOISE forces deep breaths as she fights back tears and attempts to regain her composure. Meanwhile, STEVEN remains under the sundial, arms clasped around his knees, and his mouth buried in the mix.

                                                                       

                                                STEVEN

A few hours… six, at the most.

 

ELLOISE’s pacing slows to an abrupt stop. Her breathing slows. She turns to STEVEN.

                                                ELLOISE

What?

 

                                                STEVEN

You wanted to know how long. We thought it would take longer, but the catapult effect is causing the Earth to speed up.

                                                                        Pause

I was at the observatory this morning… Didn’t need a telescope to see it…

We only have a few hours left. That’s it.

 

                                                                        Long pause.

ELLOISE moves towards the exit slowly, wiping tears from her face. Her hand is on the doorknob.

                                                ELLOISE

I’m sorry it had to end like this…

 

                                                STEVEN

Me too.

                                                                       

ELLOISE exits. The door creaks and then slams shut. Now it is quiet. The sound of trickling water is present. The lights FADE TO BLACK slowly. Once again we hear the sound of the bamboo spout clacking against its base. The sounds continue until they are interrupted by an abrupt gunshot. Silence ensues.

THE END.

The Nefarious Vacuum

On a street corner in a typical suburban neighborhood, one cold but clear Saturday in the winter, lay an abandoned vacuum cleaner. Where it had come from, no one could say. Perhaps it simply appeared there, or perhaps it’s previous owner had somehow become wise to it’s nefarious plot, and abandoned it there. Never the less, it was there when Robert Cheese turned the corner on his way home from his friend Peter’s abode. Normally Robert wasn’t one to take home stray vacuum cleaners, or anything else for that matter, but something about the object made him stop to think. It was a curious cleaning device, with no labels or unique characteristics. It was simple, and Robert enjoyed simplicity.  Shouldn’t an object intended to make things clean, be itself clean? The pragmatic nature of the vacuum was somehow alluring, or perhaps entrancing to Robert. As he thought more and more about it, he remembered that his wife Nancy had mentioned to him that their house needed a new one.  Could it be, he thought, that his happening upon this vacuum cleaner was a fateful encounter? Is it possible that a man and an electronic suction device should be destined for each other?

Robert did not know, but he had been standing on the street corner for almost ten minutes, when he decided that it was time to decide. His mind was made up, and he carried the homeless vacuum to it’s new home.

He opened the door to his home, and introduced Nancy to the vacuum.

“Where did this come from?” She asked with a masked, but annoyed tone.

“It was out there on the street” Robert informed her, “You said we needed a new one, and I figured-“

“Oh, Robert” she wined, “you know, someone probably put that out there for a reason.

“I considered that, but, it’s just… there’s something about it.”

“There’s something about it!” she mocked, “If it works, you can keep it. But don’t expect me to touch the thing”

Robert felt a faint aura of sadness emitted from the vacuum.

“Fine” he said, “I’ll just go test it out.”

Robert took the mysterious cleaning device to his living room, where he noticed something about it, which had escaped his scrutiny before. The vacuum had no plug for any outlet. Suddenly Robert felt defeated and foolish. In his anger he pressed the power switch, secretly hoping it would turn on- and then something very strange happened- it began to hum and vibrate like a typical vacuum should. Robert was ecstatic. He searched for a battery pack, but found none. He was bewildered by the machine, but did not question it, for he was delighted by this simple convenience. He was so happy about this tiny miracle that he began to vacuum every surface in his house, to the point where his thankful but irritated wife forced him to put it away and go to sleep.

“You’ve been cleaning for hours, dear,” She said, “you didn’t even eat your dinner.”

“I know, honey, I know. It’s just such a neat little thing. I’ve never enjoyed cleaning so much!”

“That’s wonderful. I love that you’re excited about helping out around the house, but if you don’t turn that thing off, I’m going to destroy it.”

Suddenly Robert felt frightened. He was shocked that his wife would make such a heinous threat. The vacuum seemed to be quite offended as well.

“Alright! Alright, I’ll put it away! Just let me empty the thing out. I want to take care of this one.”

Nancy rolled her eyes and proceeded to bed. Robert took his new favorite household appliance to the kitchen where he removed the dust container from the device and discovered yet another astonishing feature. This vacuum cleaner had no dust in it. He had vacuumed for hours, over every filthy surface he could find, and yet, there was no dirt, dust or grime in the vacuum’s interior. It was spotless.

Any normal person would have been confused, or even alarmed after serious consideration of the vacuum’s seemingly magical properties. Robert, however, was suddenly in love. He was aglow with cheer. He knew now that man and vacuum could indeed be destined for each other. There was no mistake about it. This was a magical vacuum cleaner. Or perhaps, he thought, the vacuum might be powered by the dust it consumed. It didn’t matter. This simple cleaning device would make living just that much easier. He never knew that such a simple convenience could be so relieving.  He felt enlightened. He felt special. Most of all, he felt that there was one less thing in his life to worry about. His carpets would never be dirty again.

Robert vacuumed his house twice a week. It became more than a habit. It was a ritual of almost spiritual importance. Nancy appreciated her husband’s efforts, but sensed something strange about his newfound love of cleaning.  She knew nothing of the unusual properties the vacuum possessed, and did not seem to notice that the machine was never plugged in to a power source, or that there was never any pile of filth in the garbage after any of Robert’s cleaning binges. Though she grew more and more concerned about her husband’s behavior, she never mentioned anything.

Occasionally, Robert would offer to clean other people’s houses. He was quite fond of taking the vacuum to his friend Peter’s house. Peter never understood why Robert was so enthusiastic about doing this one household chore for him, but he was not one to pass up a favor. Eventually, Robert started a vacuuming service. He quit his day job as a desk clerk, and found his new calling in the thing he was most passionate about. He could finally make a living doing something that mattered to him. He found that the vacuum cleaner was improving the quality of his life in ways that he could never have imagined on that fateful winter day when he happened upon the mysterious appliance.

As time passed, Robert and Nancy Cheese grew older. Their bones began to creek, their eyesight faded, and their hair began to gray. The mysterious vacuum cleaner, however, never faltered. It did not obtain a scratch, smudge, or any other minor inadequacy, and Robert’s admiration for the device only grew. Fifty years had passed, and Robert suspected that immeasurable amounts of dust had been bested by his wonderful vacuum. His continued amazement over the vacuum, however, was distracting him from the fact that his loving wife had fallen ill. While she lay in a hospital bed, he vacuumed his sorrows up into the endless bowels of the appliance he loved so much. When she finally passed, Robert began to feel lost. A part of him felt betrayed. Why couldn’t such a miraculous device do more than just clean? If it was so great, why couldn’t it obliterate his regret? Why couldn’t it take away the pain of losing the woman he loved?

“Have I made a mistake?” he asked the vacuum.

The vacuum did not answer, but it seemed to reassure him.

“What will happen to her? Where is she now? Will I see her again, so that I can apologize for my neglect? Why am I talking to a vacuum cleaner? Am I mad?”

The vacuum still did not make a sound, but it gave Robert the impression that it was wise to these weighty questions. As if it had something in store for him- another astounding surprise hidden up the vacuum’s immaculate tubes.

Robert’s faith in the cleaning appliance had been shaken, but not depleted.

The old man and the machine lived together in the house for another decade. Robert’s only source of happiness was in vacuuming daily. He was too old to maintain his vacuuming business, but found solace in cleaning his own home.

One night, sixty years after Robert had had that fateful encounter with the mysterious vacuum, he found himself exhausted, stumbling into bed. He would not wake up the next morning. That is, he would not wake up in his bed, or this world for that matter. He had died in his sleep, and gone to whatever sort of place one goes to, after life. He did not know that he had died. He would not ever know. He would not know what his own personal afterlife was meant to be, because it had been flooded with immeasurable amounts of dust, dirt, filth, grime, and whatever else the nefarious vacuum had sucked up and stored in the place he was to spend eternity. When his consciousness awoke in this place, it was smothered. He could not move. It was as if he had been hit by an avalanche of waste. He could not see.  No light could penetrate the amount of dust that bound him. He could not breath. There was no room for air in the filth.

Robert’s obsession with the vacuum and the convenience it offered had blinded him to the true nature of the machine. It only offered the illusion of happiness. In truth, it had taken everything there was to take from Robert Cheese, and replaced it with dust.

And he would drown in it for an eternity and then some.

Copyright, Ian M. Politis, 2012

Speed Trials

(In a small bar, Martin and Stanley drink beer casually. Around them in separate locations are Barbara, Ms. Carter, Mark (who appears to be a woman), Adeline, and Gretta).

STANLEY
I couldn’t think of a single thing to say.

MARTIN
Nothing… are you completely brain dead?

STANLEY
Thank you for your constructive criticism.

MARTIN
Seriously, it doesn’t matter if you totally fuck it up. You can tell her she looks like a cucumber. You’ll look like a moron, but at least you’ll learn something.

STANLEY
I can’t.

(BARBARA stands and goes to exit after leaving a tip at the bar)

MARTIN
Look here comes your friend. Invite her to hang out with you tonight.

STANLEY
Tonight? Dude no.

MARTIN
Come on. Do it.

STANLEY
I can’t.

MARTIN
Do it. Do it or I will.

(Barbara passes Martin and Stanley on her way to the door, Stanley panics)

STANLEY
Hi babe- I mean Barbara… Barbara. How are you?

BARBARA
Good, how are you.

STANLEY
Fantastic.

(Pause)

BARBARA
Okay, see you later.

MARTIN
Jesus Christ… You are… just pathetic.

STANLEY
I know. I need fucking help.

MARTIN
Sounds to me like you need help fucking. How could this have possibly happened to you? Are you really that messed up in the head?

STANLEY
Almost definitely.

MARTIN
Okay.
(pause)
We’re not leaving this place, until you go talk to every female you think might be single- No… You’re just going to go to every chick you see. You don’t even have to ask them all out. Just start a conversation.

STANLEY
I am going to get slapped… so many times.

MARTIN
You deserve it for being such a friggen’ disappointment. There’s going to be a lot of pissed off boyfriends too.

STANLEY
I can’t do this.

MARTIN
“I can’t, I can’t, I can’t”! What if Amelia Aerhart had said that?

STANLEY
She probably wouldn’t have disappeared.

MARTIN
You don’t know what happened to her. Maybe she crash landed on an island of lesbians and lived happily ever after.

STANLEY
Was she a lesbian?

MARTIN
I don’t know, probably. Listen man, sexuality is not a crime. You’ve been practically asexual for most of the time I’ve known you. It’s time to man up and realize that its not wrong for you to find another human being attractive. What’s more, they probably won’t be offended if you share your feelings with them. Just don’t do it in an offensive way.

STANLEY
People get offended by some pretty strange things.

MARTIN
Well, those people you probably don’t want to date anyway. If someone gets pissed off because you tell them they’re beautiful, they’re probably off their gourd.

STANLEY
You’re right.

MARTIN
I know I’m right.

STANLEY
But you can’t make me do this.

MARTIN
I sure as hell can.

STANLEY
How?

MARTIN
Do you really want to find out?

STANLEY
Quite frankly, yes. I am a little bit curious.

MARTIN
All right. I’ll tell you this. It involves a hammer, and this golden Legend of Zelda cartridge I found in your bedroom.

(Martin produces the cartridge from his jacket pocket. Stanley looks at it gravely)

STANLEY
That was a gift.

MARTIN
It’s for your own good. Besides, there’s only four or five beautiful young ladies in here. It shouldn’t be too painful. And you really need the workout.

STANLEY
I need a drink.

MARTIN
No you don’t. C’mon, mate. Man up.

STANLEY
Fine, who should I start with?

MARTIN
What the fuck do I care? I’m going to order a car bomb. This is going to be hilarious to watch, but only if I’ve got something to take the edge off. Otherwise it’ll just be awkward as hell. Like watching a giraffe learn to walk or something.

STANLEY
Fuck you.

MARTIN
I don’t think it would be appropriate if we did that. Things would probably get a bit awkward, you know? I’d like to remain friends. Now go.
(pause)
GO!

STANLEY
Fine! all right, I’m off.

MARTIN
You’re off something, that’s for sure.
(Stanley goes to the bar and sits next to Ms. Carter).
He doesn’t even know he’s alive.

STANLEY
(long pause, without making eye contact)
Can I… buy you a drink?

MS. CARTER
I don’t know, can you?

STANLEY
(pause, he examines her face)
Mrs. Carter?

MS. CARTER
How are you doing Stanley?

STANLEY
Wonderful, I must say you’re looking rather well.

MS. CARTER
I like to think so.

(Stanley goes to Martin expressing a subtle terror)

STANLEY
That’s my third grade teacher.

MARTIN
Not too bad looking. Go on. Keep it up.

STANLEY
What?

MARTIN
Why is this so difficult?

STANLEY
She’s knew me when I was…
(pause, he does the math on his fingers)
Eight… or nine. I don’t remember.

MARTIN
Do you have a crush on me?

STANLEY
What?!

MARTIN
Or do I look like one of your other grade school teachers? Apparently that’s what you’re into.

STANLEY
No- dude, I’m not into…

MARTIN
Well, then I guess you want to destroy this… mint condition… golden, N.E.S Legend of Zelda video game you spent most of your youth trying to obtain.

STANLEY
C’mon, bro. This is just too weird.

MARTIN
Alright fine.
(he raises the hammer to the video game)

STANLEY
(in a panic)
Oh for the love of god…
(To Ms. Carter)
So, how about that drink?

MS. CARTER
That’s very charming of you Stanley, I’m not sure if I feel comfortable with it though.

STANLEY
Sorry. It’s just that my friend over there dared me to go to every young lady- person… female, in the bar and start up a conversation.

MS. CARTER
That’s a challenging dare.

STANLEY
I didn’t agree to it. It’s sort of blackmail. He thinks I need the practice.

MS. CARTER
What do you mean?

STANLEY
Well… He thinks I’m asexual. He won’t let me leave unless I do it.

MS. CARTER
That’s very unusual. Are you asexual?

STANLEY
No. Well, maybe, I don’t know. I haven’t been with anyone for quite some time.

MS. CARTER
So, you’re having a little trouble getting back in the saddle.

STANLEY
Yeah. Maybe, I suppose.

MS. CARTER
Last one scared you, didn’t she.

STANLEY
(Pause)
Oh yes.
(Pause)
It was a good time though…

MS. CARTER
Always is. But don’t forget who you are, Stanley. Sometimes when we’re with someone for a very long time, we adopt personality traits. You are a part of them and they are a part of you. All humans are like this. We learn from our experiences with each other.

STANLEY
Yeah, but I’ve been alone for so long, I don’t even know how to act around strangers.

MS. CARTER
You haven’t been alone. I’m sure you have a lot of friends.

STANLEY
That’s not what I mean.

MS. CARTER
Don’t worry. Somewhere inside of you is the person you’ve always been. I can’t say I ever knew him truly. Perhaps you haven’t either. But he’s there somewhere, and you will find him if you want to. Now, go buy someone your own age a drink.

STANLEY
all right. Thanks Mrs. Carter.

MS. CARTER
It’s Miss Carter.
(Stanley turns to Mark, Ms. Carter pauses)
Little bastard.

STANLEY
Hi.

MARK
Well hello there, darling. What the fuck do you want?

STANLEY
Can I buy you a drink?

MARK
Well, if you insist.
(Pause, puts a finger to her chin in an animated fashion, as if to ponder)
Four Horsemen.

STANLEY
Holy shit.

MARK
Is there a problem?

STANLEY
No, no. It’s just… an interesting choice.

MARK
I don’t kid around.

STANLEY
I can see that. I’ll have the same.

MARK
What’s your name?

STANLEY
Stanley.

MARK
Hello Stanley, I’m Mark.

STANLEY
Wait, what?
MARK
You heard me.
STANLEY
(Pause)
Post op?

MARK
It’s a brave new world.

STANLEY
No kidding.

MARK
I figure I should keep my name the same, because it’s part of who I am. I also don’t want people to come to shocking revelations in the future. I guess it’s not a brave enough world.

STANLEY
I don’t want to give you the wrong idea, I’m definitely not brave enough. I’m sure you’re a really nice dude- person… female… though.

MARK
Hey man, the drink’s on you. I’m actually surprised you didn’t jet the moment I said my name.

STANLEY
Well, my friend over there dared me to start a conversation with every chick in the bar. If I don’t he’s going to destroy my most prized possession. I don’t think he’s kidding around… And I guess everyone has something to teach, so it’s not a terrible experience.
(Pause)
So, uh… why did you decide to get a sex change? That seems like it would be a really difficult decision to make.

MARK
It was. But I decided, I have to live how I want to live and not how others want me to live, because this is the only chance I’ll have to live it that way. It was hard for me to be comfortable with who I am, surrounded by the conformities of society. You know though, everyone has to confront their own diversities. We all have our little quirks. For me, it turns out I was born a man in a woman’s body.
(Pause)
So maybe it’s not a little quirk, but there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m more like a… rare bird of the human species.

STANLEY
Huh. Yeah, I guess that makes sense.

MARK
So what’s your story?

STANLEY
My friend thinks it’s pathetic that I haven’t been in a relationship for almost four years.

MARK
Jesus Christ, boy.
(Pause)
You’ve gotten laid though, right?

STANLEY
Not for four years. All of my friends think I’ll go crazy because of my supposed repressed sexuality.

MARK
Sounds serious.

STANLEY
You know, sometimes I think it is.

MARK
So… what’d she do to you? This girl of long ago.

STANLEY
It wasn’t her. It was both of us. Or maybe that’s just what I say. I don’t know.

MARK
Then it just wasn’t meant to be, what’s the big deal?

STANLEY
There is no big deal. I just haven’t been interested in anyone for all this time. I don’t feel the actual need to have that kind of relationship with anyone.

MARK
There’s nothing wrong with that.

STANLEY
But what if I never see anyone again, and all of my relatives call me a spinster, and then I die alone?

MARK
It doesn’t matter what people say. Most people die alone. What matters is if you’ve made peace with yourself. What matters, is that you’re happy, not that people are happy with you.

STANLEY
Sounds like a long road.

MARK
It is. Just don’t do designer drugs. That will significantly shorten the road.

STANLEY
Hmm. Sound advice.

MARK
So can I get a number?

STANLEY
(long pause)
Um… Yeesh… this is awkward, I-

MARK
Just friends.

STANLEY
Oh! Sorry, I…Yeah sure, okay.

MARK
Now run along grasshopper. The long road awaits.

(Stanley goes to a girl sitting alone at a table away from the bar, Mark stands and goes to sit with Martin.)

STANLEY
Hi.

ADELINE
Hi.

STANLEY
What’s your name?

ADELINE
I’m Adeline.

STANLEY
That’s a nice name. I’m Stanley. Can I buy you a drink?

ADELINE
(pause, she glares at Stanley)
Fine.

STANLEY
What’ll ya’ have?

ADELINE
Anything. Something strong. Four horsemen. Whatever.

STANLEY
You were listening to my last conversation weren’t  you?

ADELINE
Yeah. I have to give you credit. It wouldn’t be easy to hit on every chick in a bar.

STANLEY
You know what, I’m not really hitting on anyone. I just want to get to know some people.

ADELINE
Very honorable. So… You’re saying that this has nothing to do with your sexual desires.

STANLEY
Um. Well, it does have to do with a dare that has to do with my sexual desires… kind of.

ADELINE
Listen.
(Slaps stanley in the face)
I hate you. And I hate me. And I hate everyone.

STANLEY
(Long, frightened pause)
Okay…

ADELINE
Drinks on you bitch.
(she takes a gulp of her drink and pours the rest on stanley’s face. She stands triumphantly and exits)

STANLEY
Um, okay… I guess… Ma’am.

(Stanley goes to GRETTA)

STANLEY
H…hello?

GRETTA
Do I know you?

STANLEY
Ah… no.
(Pause, reflecting on the previous engagement)
You know what, I like the straight forward approach. So, listen, I’ve been dared to start a conversation with every girl in this bar. And, it’s not that I wouldn’t talk to you normally… it’s just that… well, I don’t really talk to anyone normally.
(pause)
So… Can I buy you a drink?

GRETTA
What’s your name?

STANLEY
I’m Stanley. Sorry, if I seem weird. My last encounter was… strange.

GRETTA
It’s okay. There aren’t many people in this bar. We can all kind of hear what’s going on.

MARTIN and MARK
Yeah!!! Go Stanley! STANLEY! STANLEY! STANLEY! WOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

(pause)

STANLEY
Oh… So what’s your name?

GRETTA
Gretta.

STANLEY
Wow.
(pause)
You do not look like a Gretta.

GRETTA
I get that a lot.

STANLEY
I’m sorry. I actually dig the name Gretta. I’m not implying that-

GRETTA
Don’t worry, I get it. So what’s your story. And I don’t want to hear about your stupid bet or your ex-girlfriend. I want the real juice.

STANLEY
Wow. I like you. You’re all about explicit details.

GRETTA
Well, you know. A person is hard to define. Don’t you think? Is it our choices, our actions, our opinions that define us? Is there some spiritual self that separates us from the masses? I’m not asking you what’s plaguing you. I’m not asking you anything really. Just tell me the truth.

STANLEY
The truth is, I want to get to know you.

GRETTA
I know. But why?

STANLEY
Does there even have to be a reason why?
(Long pause, Gretta is about to turn                                 away)
A lot of the time that I’ve spent alone, I’ve done so because no one ever has the courage to come to me. To get to know me. To reach out, or whatever. I’m tired of sitting around and waiting for someone to be as honest as I am to you right now. It isn’t easy for me to do this. All I want is to talk. All I want is the truth.

GRETTA
Sometimes the truth hurts. What if we’re not right for each other?

STANLEY
You couldn’t possibly make an assumption like that. You don’t even know me. It takes a long time to get to know someone. It doesn’t simply happen in an instant.
(pause)
I can’t truly say that I’ll ever know myself. No one can say that they’ll ever truly know me.
(pause)
So if everything is so god damn complicated, how can you possibly say for sure that we’re not right for each other, when clearly some people are?
(pause)
Maybe you can help me understand me… and… and I can help you understand you.

GRETTA
Perhaps I already understand me… And I already understand you.

STANLEY
Bullshit.

GRETTA
Oh yeah?

STANLEY
People only think they understand themselves-

GRETTA
Oh, c’mon. That’s so condescending. Who do you think you are?!

STANLEY
I’m just trying to live.
(Pause)
I’ve been alive for twenty two years. Do you remember explicitly what happened last tuesday?

GRETTA
(Pause)
Well, that’s a strange way to frame a question.

STANLEY
Do you?

GRETTA
Well, if I tried I could-

STANLEY
Okay, well whatever you did back then, somehow lead you to your precise state of mind now. Your very thoughts wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t go through the seemingly menial task known as Tuesday.

GRETTA
Yeah, so?

STANLEY
So think back twenty two years, if you’ve been alive that long. It’s not long compared to some. But when you think of the things that you let define yourself, you realize how complicated and confusing it can be. I’m just trying to prove to you that you can’t judge me the way that you are. I’m not who you think I am. Just give me a chance.
(pause)
Please.

(Pause)

GRETTA
I’ll have a white Russian.
(pause)
You’re very persistent.

STANLEY
I’m sorry…

GRETTA
It’s okay. You passed the test. You might be a genuinely nice guy.
(Pause)
Or maybe you’re one of those guys who just won’t take no for an answer.

STANLEY
(pause)
Was that a joke?

GRETTA
If it wasn’t a joke, I wouldn’t be talking to you still.

STANLEY
I’m glad.

GRETTA
Me too.

STANLEY
So… um… Can I get your digits?

GRETTA
No.

STANLEY
Oh…
(pause)

GRETTA
I’m just kidding.
(she writes her number on a bar napkin and slides it to him)

MARTIN
(Smashing Legend of Zelda Cartridge)
Mazel Tov!!!

BLACKOUT

*Copyright, Ian M. Politis, 2011*

How to Rob a Guy

BEN looks at his watch

BEN
What’s our destination?

STEVE
I don’t know.
Pause
I’m not really in the mood to go home.

BEN
What?

STEVE
I said I don’t want to go home, It’s too fucking early.

BEN
I agree, that would be like giving up. What is it? Its only six thirty. I’m just going to drive.

Pause

STEVE
I’m hungry. And I gotta take a piss.

BEN
What should we do?

STEVE
We should go somewhere with a dollar menu.

BEN
Mm. Yeah.
Sighs
I only got a couple of bucks though.

STEVE
Yeah, I only have a buck and change.

BEN
…Need a job… I hate asking my parents for money. They’re already paying for so much.

STEVE
Yeah, I don’t like that either. It makes me feel like a bum.

BEN
Sighs, long pause
How can we make money? Like right now.

STEVE
Pause
We could rob someone.

Long Pause

BEN
All right. Seems like a quick way to make some cash.

STEVE
Wait… seriously? I was kidding.

BEN
Yeah. I am too.
Pause
But I bet you that we could pull it off if we really put our minds to it.

STEVE
Yeah, we probably could. One of us would be the look out, and the other would pull a knife on someone.
He pretends in an intimidating voice
GIMME ALL YOUR MONEY!

BEN
Nah, nah, we’ll get caught if we do it anything like that.

STEVE
Yeah well you need a look out.

BEN
Right, but if you put a knife to the guys neck and ask him for cash, you run the chance of him somehow identifying you later. Maybe he struggles, puts up a fight. Or maybe he screams and someone calls the cops.

STEVE
How do you know its a he?

BEN
I’m not robbing some random person off the street. I’m also definitely not robbing a chick.

STEVE
Ugly chick?

BEN
Pause
Mmmm… N… Nah…. Well maybe.
Pause
Actually, no. Ugly chick’s definitely a fighter.

STEVE
Good point. I like how you think about this.

BEN
Man, I think about this shit all the time. I bet we could do it. We really could. We could do it right now.

STEVE
Pause
Yeah, but we shouldn’t.

BEN
No, haha, no, yeah we shouldn’t do that.
Pause
But we could. We totally could, it would be so easy.

STEVE
I don’t think it would be as easy as you think. And plus, you don’t have the balls.

Pause

BEN
I don’t what?

STEVE
You wouldn’t do it, you would pussy out.

BEN
Yeah well, I don’t think you have the balls. I would do it. You’re just attacking me to disguise your inadequacies.

STEVE
Fine, lets do it.

BEN
All right, fine! Let’s go do this shit. Of course we have nothing to use. No gun, no-

STEVE
I have a knife.

BEN
Okay, fine. Let’s stab a guy and then cover ourselves in his blood. Good idea.

STEVE
No. Seriously. We don’t have to stab him. We just have to make him think we will.

BEN
I don’t think we should use a knife. Too many things would go wrong.

STEVE
Fine, what would you use?
Looks around, opens dashboard
An ocarina?

BEN
I have a tire iron in my trunk.

STEVE
Okay. I guess that’s a start, what do we do with it?

BEN
We pull up to someone on the street, right? And roll down our windows to ask for directions. When they try to explain, we act like we can’t hear them. Get them closer to the fucking car, right? Then you slam the fucking door in his face and-

STEVE
Then get out and K.O. the guy with the tire iron.

BEN
Yeah, see?

STEVE
I don’t know. I don’t want to risk any chance of them seeing us, or our faces. If we pull up next to them in the car, they might be able to identify our plates. I think this is a stalk and drag. We’ll drive around the park for a while and wait ‘till we find someone we think will work for us. Then we’ll park the car real close, knock him out and drag him to the car.

BEN
Wait… we’re going to put the knocked out guy in the car?

STEVE
N-no. We’re just going to drag him really close, use the car for cover. Then we can get back in and drive off.

BEN
Too much time.

STEVE
No, no. We’ll sacrifice time, for stealth.

BEN
It’s not going to fucking work. I’m telling you, they won’t see our plates if we pull up from behind. You can pull your hat over your head, and use it like a mask. It’s a fast procedure. They won’t even know what hit them.

STEVE
What the fuck do you know about robbing a guy?

BEN
I think about doing crazy shit way more than you do.

STEVE
Yeah, but you’ve never actually robbed a guy.

BEN
Neither have you.

STEVE
Says who?

Long pause

BEN
So you’ve robbed a guy.

STEVE
I watched.

BEN
Wow! Stand up citizen right here. Watched a guy get robbed and didn’t do shit.

STEVE
No man, I was the look out. I was the fucking look out.

BEN
Pause, speculation
Bullshit.

STEVE
No really.

BEN
Bull fucking shit. We’re going to go rob a guy right now.

STEVE
Um, wasn’t that already the plan?

BEN
You’re not going to follow through with it. You wouldn’t rob a guy.

STEVE
Well, we’re both going to rob a guy. It’s not just me.

BEN
I’m not physically robbing a guy. I’m the get away driver, and the look out.

STEVE
Bullshit, you’re going to get out of the god damn car and rob some guy with me. You’re not fucking allowed to chicken out of this. We don’t need the get away vehicle. I’m not getting into some ill conceived car chase because you were too fucking scared to get out of the car.

BEN
Hey man, this has nothing to do with fear, or pride. It has to do with not getting caught. I’m telling you, my plan is flawless.

STEVE
Why can’t I be the look out? I can drive your car.

BEN
Apparently you’re the one with the most experience here, so I think, having participated in and observed a real life robbery, it would be safer if you were the tire iron man.

STEVE
Fine. Get the tire iron right now.

BEN
We’re not doing it here.

STEVE
Get the tire iron. I want it in my hand now.

BEN
Not now, dude.

STEVE
You’re not going to get it now, because you don’t think we’re really going to rob a guy. I want the tire iron now, so I can make sure you don’t back out. I don’t think you understand how serious I am about this.

BEN
Why do you think I’m kidding around? I’m fucking serious. I’m extremely fucking serious.

STEVE
If you want to fucking rob some guy, get me the tire iron right now. I want it in my hands. We’re going to fucking do this. And if you fucking back out on me, I’m going to fucking knock you out and steal your god damn car so I can do it myself.

BEN
Calm the fuck down, we both need the money.

STEVE
Get me the fucking tire iron!

BEN
Fine.

STEVE
Now! Right fucking now!

BEN
Jesus, all right.

Ben pulls over

STEVE
You could have picked a more discreet place to pull over.

BEN
See that house?

STEVE
Yeah.

BEN
We’re not mugging some guy. We’re performing a home invasion. I’m going to get the tire iron, and then we’ll ask the people at this house if they can help us with a flat. The second they step outside- BAM!

STEVE
I think we should stick to the plan.

Ben gets out of the car and opens the trunk. He takes out a tire iron, and gets back in, giving it to Steve

STEVE
Dude, lets just go. I still have to piss.

BEN
Oh, really? Well, maybe you should get out and ask the nice people in that house if you can use their bathroom. And if they’re so rude as to deny you, you should fucking do it any way. This is our fucking house now.
Pause, Ben cautiously expresses alarm
Nah, I’m just kidding. We’re not going to invade someone’s home. Let’s just go mug a guy.

STEVE
Wow, I thought you were serious for a seccond there. Good one.

BEN
Yeah, I’m not that crazy yet.

STEVE
Oh man.
Pause
All right. Lets go make us some money.

BEN
Yeah, man. Let’s do this shit. I’m fuckin’ ready.

STEVE
Let’s do it! I’m fuckin’ pumped!

BEN
Get pumped bro! Get PUMPED!

STEVE
I’m fuckin’ PUMPED BRO!

BEN
ARE YOU FUCKING PUMPED!?

STEVE
I’M FUCKIN’ PUMPED BRO! I’M FUCKIN’ PUMPED!

BEN
That’s fuckin’ RIGHT! YEAH! ROBBIN’ GUYS!

STEVE
Yeah! This is it, man. This is the final countdown.

BEN
Hell yeah! We’re gonna do this shit!

STEVE
Yeah! Let’s do it. I’m fuckin’ ready.

BEN
Pointing ahead
Alright bro, see that dude up there?

STEVE
That’s the guy?

BEN
That’s the guy, dude. I can feel it. His pockets are loaded, I can fuckin’ feel it.

STEVE
Yeah, can you feel it?

BEN
I’m fuckin’ feeling it now, bro.

STEVE
What does it feel like? Does it feel good?

BEN
I’m feeling good things dude. Good things.

STEVE
How good is it?

BEN
Oh, it’s real good, bro.

STEVE
Yeah? Real fuckin’ good, right?

A man enters, walking from one side of the stage to the other.

BEN
Alright, here he comes. Are you psyched?!

STEVE
I’m psyched.

BEN
ARE YOU PSYCHED!?

STEVE
YEAH!
Pause
I am… I am… I will SO totally rob this guy.

BEN
Don’t back out on me bro!

The man passes the car

Alright ready? Let’s stick to the plan. In and out, in and out. Fast dude. Fuckin’ RAINBOW SIX, BITCH!

Pause, The man stands as if at a bus stop

Alright, ask for directions.

STEVE

Rainbow six. Alright, fuckin’ rainbow six, here we go.

Rolls down the window and looks to the man walking by

Excuse me, sir?

MAN
Can I help you?

STEVE
Um… yeah, can you tell me how to get to…

Pause, he looks to Ben

Where should I say we’re trying to go?

BEN
Fuck… I don’t know, just make something up.

STEVE
So… yeah, we’re trying to get to… Seseme… lane…

MAN
I’m… not sure I know how to get there myself.

STEVE
Oh… okay, well thanks anyway.

pause, he stares at the man for a few moments before reluctantly closing the window

BEN
Wow.

STEVE
Fuck, dude.

BEN
That was pathetic.

STEVE
I know…

BEN
Seseme lane?

STEVE
You know what, why don’t you be the fucking tire iron guy.

BEN
I can’t bro, I already told you. You’ve got to man up.

STEVE
Man up? You fucking man up. You’re just using me so you don’t have to get your hands dirty.

BEN
That’s bullshit bro. Just admit it, you don’t have the balls.

STEVE
Fuck you. I have fucking excellent balls.

BEN
You have terrible balls.

STEVE
They’re better than your balls.

BEN
Prove it.

STEVE
No.

BEN
C’mon, prove it. Let me see your balls.

STEVE
Forget it.

BEN
Where are your balls, dude? Come on, I want to see them.

STEVE
Yeah, you wanna see my balls?

BEN
Yeah bro, where are your fuckin’ balls?

STEVE
You really want to see my balls.

BEN
Seeing is believing, dude.

STEVE
Okay… this is getting a little weird.

BEN
Yeah…

Pause

I don’t really want to see your balls.

STEVE
Are we still talking about robbing a guy?

BEN
I’m not entirely sure.

Pause

STEVE
So… wanna come back to my place?

BLACKOUT

*Copyright, Ian M. Politis, 2011

the Calamity

There was a mighty roar

a sound so rich with lore

that with its raucous might

blew every thing from sight.

Though now it’s far away

there’s little left to say

for it has come and gone

but wasn’t right or wrong.

There is no sense to make

or innocence at stake

yet while the ashes fall

I feel so very small.