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Rated: 18+ · Script/Play · Romance/Love · #1210847
My fourth full length play, the third produced. Essentially a working rough draft.
Kiss This (Scene 1- 6)
A play by Brandon A Anderson

Characters and Scene:

Maynard J. Smith
Isabel Smith-Garcia
Guy Macchio-Garcia
Victor Keenan

Time:  Early Spring

Place:  A cabin in the woods

A note about the rain:  The rain is a very heavy-handed symbol used luxuriously by Hemingway in his writings.  I encourage the director and designers to use and treat the rain almost as a character.  It can leak through the set, the ceiling, clack against the window, flow through eroded pathways in the rotting wood floor, etc.  This also gives the actors another interesting character against which to play.  Drips on hair, saving books from the rain-rot, etc., have fun with it.  Make it as heavy handed as Hemingway does.

Some lines are followed by * to indicate where I have either copied or mutilated portions of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.  These are from the 1969 Scribner’s and Sons edition.


Kiss this


I

         (Sounds of rain falling and running down the sloped roof of a log cabin.  The stage is dark.  We hear two voices in the dark, VICTOR and ISABEL.)

Victor:  So he’s—

Isabel:  I don’t know… I went to find him after a couple of days, you know, see how he was… he wasn’t there. 

Victor:  Don’t worry, rabbit.  You’re with me now. 

Isabel:  Yeah. 

Victor:  The papers?  If you couldn’t find him, where are they?

Isabel:  The librarian.  She said that she’d stick them in the next book he checked out.

Victor:  How do you know that he’ll get them?

Isabel:  He’ll get them.  People don’t change their vices.  Their passions perhaps, but not their vices.  They’re like, genetically coded in.

Victor:  Was I genetically coded in?

Isabel:  I don’t know, maybe.

(We hear a door open and the sound of someone stumbling in.  The rain is louder when the door is opened and is muted when it is shut again.  The figure lights an oil lamp on a table.  Lights slowly up revealing a hunchbacked character wearing what appears to be a fur coat.  This single room is the bulk of a small log cabin. Stage left is the front door and stage right is a door to a single, small, we assume, bedroom.  This “bedroom” is never seen but the door must be operational.  Center stage is a table, wooden, matching the dripping age of the interior of the cabin.  The cabin would be called desolate, but the seemingly endless racks, stacks, and shelves of books refute this definition.  The cabin looks literally snowbound in the volumes of pages. The books should be the most obvious part of the set save the desolate emptiness marked by the style of cabin.  A window on the upstage center wall is completely covered with a poster-sized picture of a goldfish, head on, eyes staring directly at us—this is a big fish.  On the table are an oil lamp and a single typewriter.  The typewriter is between two stacks of paper.  The stage left stack is much taller and on it rests a brown package bound in string.  The stage right stack is only about five sheets deep. These are the only items on the table.  The figure, MAYNARD, sits in a chair, the only chair, upstage center, behind the typewriter.  He scratches the wood of the table.  He picks up the package and removes the top sheet of paper from the stage left stack and loads it into the typewriter.  He then grabs the top sheet from the stage right stack and examines it.)

Maynard:  (Reading) “Kiss this.  Two words and he was gone.”  (Begins typing) I died.  I died when you left me and I promised that I would never come back to this world.  I would find my own world, maybe even create one, so long as I don’t have to die anymore for anyone. (Stops typing.  Pulls the sheet out of the typewriter.  He crumples it and throws it onto the floor.)  God, that is clunky.  Who would ever talk like that?  (Stares at package.)  Small.  Brown.  No particularly alarming stains or smells.  (Picks package up, fondles it.  Lights down.  With the rain we hear him typing again.  After a few frantic bursts of tik-tak-ding, silence.)

II

         (Scene is same as before except the poster is not a goldfish but a full picture of Hemingway in typical Hemingway pose, glass of vermouth in one hand, typewriter in the background.  MAYNARD  is no longer typing but is holding the package again.  From offstage, a voice.  Definitely inside the cabin, but where?)

Voice:  Maynard!  Put it down.

Maynard:  Sorry.  Sorry.  It’s just that it’s so… mysterious.  It’s completely contained in its own little world.  I don’t have any effect on it, it doesn’t even acknowledge my existence.  (Picking at the package)  You don’t, do you?   

Voice:  We’ve spoken about this.

Maynard:  Yes, yes. 

Voice:  We have an agreement.  You bring me my supplies, paper, ribbons, etc. and I, in turn, teach you to write.  You don’t mess with my stuff and I won’t mess with yours.

Maynard:  Yeah, yeah.  Hey, what’s this, another new novel?

Voice:  Thought I’d try my hand at another play.  My first two weren’t complete trainwrecks.

Maynard:  You didn’t see them.

Voice:  What?

Maynard:  Nothing.

Voice:  So, what do you think?

Maynard:  I don’t know.  A little cliché’ ain’t it?

Voice:  Writing?

Maynard:  No, plays.  Kinda last year aren’t they, you know, with that rush of gay and lesbian ones, those ones with the fear, the feigned rebellion, and lots of political correctness.  I mean if I wrote a play, it would be about the falsity of the American Dream.

Voice:  What is the American Dream?

Maynard:  Love. It’s unattainable and exhaustive and utterly masochistic.  I am going to warn everyone so that they aren’t destroyed.

Voice:  By love?

Maynard:  By chasing after something that they can never possess.  Of course, I won’t use my name.  No, it will be Dr. Maynard Wilhelm James to my followers.  People won’t watch a play by a nobody. 

Voice:  They watched mine.

Maynard:  Not when I was there. 

Voice: What?

Maynard:  Nothing.  A doctor sounds more credible.  You’d see it, wouldn’t you?  A play by a doctor?

Voice:  It sounds promising.  Dr. James.

Maynard:  Yeah, like Richard Bachman or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  You know, a secretnimh. 

Voice:  Secret of Nimh?

Maynard:  Is that how you say it?

Voice:  Say what?

Maynard:  You know, when the writer writes with another name.

Voice:  Pen name?

Maynard:  No, an author.  No one uses pens anymore.  It’s all computers now.

Voice:  What’s all computers now?

Maynard:  Writing.

Voice:  What about us?

Maynard:  Well we… we… aren’t like them, you have a special way. 

Voice:  Coke binges and Smith Corona’s?

Maynard:  Smith Co-whatta’s?

Voice:  Typewriters.

Maynard:  Oh.  (Seated in front of the typewriter now.  Punches keys.)  So what do you call it?

Voice:  The typewriter?

Maynard:  No.  When a writer writes with another name.

Voice:  You sure it’s not pen-name?

Maynard:  I’ve gone over this… computers, the world—

Voice:  Is using computers, right, I heard you, everyone except for us.

Maynard:  Right.  So?

Voice:  The word you are looking for is pseudonym.

Maynard:  Right… wait, wasn’t that the name of a movie, you know with the rats and the scary bush with the doctors that do things to the nice farm mice? Disney?

Voice:  No, I think it was another studio… Warner Brothers, Don Bluth perhaps?

Maynard:  After that time they found him in the adult theatre with three kids?  They let him do cartoons now?

Voice:  As opposed to?

Maynard:  I don’t know, whatever he did before cartoons.  Kids.

Voice:  Maynard…

Maynard:  Get in where you fit in.

Voice:  Maynard.

Maynard:  Do what you love.  I mean, they tell you to do what you are passionate about.  Going from kids to cartoons seems like a logical enough move.

Voice:  MAYNARD!

Maynard:  Of course if that logic worked correctly, all elementary teachers used to be pedophiles.

Voice:  Pederasts?

Maynard:  What’s a pederast, Victor? 

Voice:  Never mind.

Maynard:  Come to think of it, all of my elementary teachers were.

Voice:  Pederasts?

Maynard:  No. Cartoons.

Voice:  Are you finished?

Maynard:  With what?

Voice:  Wasting my air.

Maynard:  Oh… yeah… sorry, I guess I’ll just go then.

Voice:  Don’t forget your lesson.

Maynard:  Victor?  What is in the package?

Victor:  Never mind.

Maynard:  It’s just that my goldfish, well late goldfish, Isabel, she was eaten by a cat.  A stray cat.  A tom that jumped into my open window.  He ate Isabel.  He just left her skeleton with the tail and head.  I guess the cat was afraid of its head.  I wrapped what was left of her in brown paper and string.  I lost it, I think I might have dropped it here a couple of days ago.

Victor:  And?

Maynard:  And that package looks like Isabel, and I just wanted to know if—

Victor:  You know that the fish is dead?  You know that don’t you? 

Maynard:  Yes, but sometimes I like to pretend.

Victor:  We all do.  That’s why there is art. 

Maynard:  I thought art was to show us the truth of the real world.

Victor:  It’s usually better at creating its own.

Maynard:  Own what?

Victor:  Truth.  World.  Tell me, why did you name the fish Isabel?

Maynard:  I needed to remember her.  A substitute.

Victor:  She left you?

Maynard:  No.  I left her.

Victor:  Why?

Maynard:  Because I love her.  Because I don’t deserve her.  Because she’ll find out the truth about me.

Victor:  That you are…

Maynard:  Regular.  Just, you know, regular.  Regular people don’t fall in love.  We die.  Fight or die, that’s what people do.*

Victor: So now you are…

Maynard:  Done.  I’m starting another life now. 

Victor:  As an author.

Maynard:  Yes, well, that all depends on you.  Do you think that there are more Isabel’s out there?

Victor:  Of course.

Maynard:  Do you think that if I was a famous author like you that they would think I was worth it? 

Victor:  They?  It?  Attach your pronouns.  That is, if you want anyone to understand what you are trying to say.

Maynard:  Isabels.  Their love.  Do you think Isabels would love me if I wasn’t ordinary, if I was famous? 

Victor:  Probably.

Maynard:  I’m gonna do it then. 

Victor:  Going to do what?

Maynard:  I’ll find another Isabel.

Victor:  I thought you were writing a play about the American Dream?

Maynard:  I’ll need another Isabel for that.

Victor:  She’s just gonna die on you again.

Maynard:  I know.  (In a swirl of cat-fur, he is gone.)

Victor:  You forgot your lesso--
         
(The door shuts behind MAYNARD.  The room is silent.  A pile of books, upstage right, begin to shift.  A hand reaches out from inside of the pile.  Emerging slowly from the stack, we see VICTOR.  His emergence could be likened to Adam’s animation from the mud.  He is a middle-aged man, early fifties, late forties, bright face, dark glasses shielding his eyes.  He slowly and deliberately goes to the table.  He picks up the package.  Holding it in the air, he examines it, smiles, sets it back down.)

Victor: (Sitting at the table, he turns to the poster.)  Question for you big Ern.  When one can control their world, create their own universe, what good is this one?         

         (Lights fade on VICTOR as he stares at the poster. Rain.)


III

         (MAYNARD asleep at the typewriter, goldfish poster, rain, oil lamp glowing.  Music.  Light change to indicate another time, another place. Rain stops. During light change, MAYNARD and ISABEL take the stage, the audience should not see them take their places, it should seem as if they just appear.  The author recommends “Infected” by BAD RELIGION as a good musical choice, but it can be any sort of music as long as it reflects the tone of the scene.  The scene should last as long as the song, 2-4 minutes.  The scene should portray the meeting, wedding, breakdown, and ISABEL’s eventual leaving of MAYNARD for the writer.  It is up to the director how he/she decides to stage this scene.  Some suggestions are stylistic pantomime, silhouettes behind the sleeping MAYNARD, choreographed dance… the importance is that a sense of history between MAYNARD and ISABEL is established.  After song ends, the rain begins again, light change back to MAYNARD sleeping at the typewriter.  He wakes.)

Maynard:  Izzy… hey… Izzy?  Did I just… a dream.  Of course.  (Notices a piece of paper in the typewriter.  Reads.)  “I’m through with this.  Go on.  You create your own reality… leave mine to me.”  (Pause.  Begins typing as lights out.  We hear typing and rain, then, silence.)

IV

(The oil lamp is glowing, poster back to Hemingway, rain.  VICTOR is asleep, his head resting on the typewriter.  A figure rushes into the cabin, pauses, then runs to the table and turns the oil lamp up.  Lights up.)

Isabel:  Hey.  Hey, wake up.  C’mon, wake up.  I have loins and they are supple and—

Victor:  Huh… what… who are you?

Isabel:  Victor, Victor Keenan?

Victor:  You’re from?

Isabel:  The—

Victor:  James’ Bar!!! Oh… wait… hey listen, I’m impotent, see, I can’t

Isabel:  No—

Victor:  I mean, it can’t be mine because my tubes are tied.

Isabel:  You don’t—

Victor:  Serious, the doctors gave me some pills for my condition and they kill all my sperm.

Isabel:  The doctors?

Victor:  No, the pill, they’re dead, they just sort of lie around, you know, viscously—

Isabel:  It wasn’t at James’ Bar.

Victor:  So it’s older than twelve?  I swear, I don’t have any money, it was a mistake—

Isabel:  I don’t have a child!!!

Victor:  You don’t?

Isabel:  No, I—

Victor:  Oh my god, I didn’t recognize you.  Listen, that night was the reason the doctors gave me the pills.

Isabel:  What night?

Victor:  You know, the night, with the, you know, the, the, the paddle and the frogs?

Isabel:  I’m afraid that I don’t know what you are talking about.

Victor:  Qualudes and bananas?

Isabel:  What?

Victor:  So you’re not Maria.

Isabel:  No.

Victor:  Glenda?

Isabel:  No.

Victor:  Cassie?

Isabel:  No.

Victor:  Forgive me, there were so many that night that I can’t remember all of the—

Isabel:  Victor—

Victor:  What?

Isabel:  I have never met you.  Those are other stories.

Victor:  Government?  Look, I just take care of this place for Victor, I don’t know where he is.  He makes me run errands, you know, get his books, buy him paper and ribbon, he’s teaching me to write.

Isabel:  You answered to Victor earlier.

Victor:  I did?

Isabel:  Yes.

Victor:  When?

Isabel:  Just now. 

Victor:  That is ludicrous!  Why would I do such a thing?  My name is Maynard.

Isabel:  No it’s not.

Victor:  How do you know?

Isabel:  Because I know Maynard and you are not him.

Victor:  Do you think there are other Maynards out there?

Isabel:  Of course.

Victor:  Well, I am one of those.

Isabel:  Those what?

Victor:  The other Maynards.

Isabel:  No, you are—

Victor:  I got it!  You’re from the county library!  Oh shit, these books, uh, they’re, uh, I couldn’t get them returned because—

Isabel:  Stop it! 

Victor:  So you are a librarian… is it true?

Isabel:  What?

Victor:  That librarians are really repressed nymphomaniacs whose unsatiated desires can only be lessened by the security of the stories that are waiting between the covers, the lies and lives of other, more free, more exciting pawns than yourself.  The vast whiteness of the page, populated by the stark, strong, and salicious lines of a Garamond or maybe even as dangerous as, dare I speak its name, Helvetica.  THAT is one hell of a font, I tell you what.  I can almost understand the erotic nature of it, the job and status of LIBRARIAN, I mean, with all of the fingerplay that goes on under the check-out desk.  Fingers searching, flipping, folding, sliding in and out, then SLAM! on the date, the exact date, that you and your book will again be united.  It’s all so very exciting.  And the greatest thing is that the memories, the shared experiences, the dark and evil actions and paths of lives, the entire world that ensnares you and sucks you in, the woman you hate and the man who scares you, they aren’t real!  They don’t exist!  You get scared, you shut the book.  Done.  You control when these demands on your emotions and imagination can again confront you.  Maybe even move to another room or house or city anywhere away from the book and the questions it poses.  It is so safe.  So sure.  You want a strong man with a chest as expansive as your ability to lust for it and arms, legs, stomach and hips all smooth, carved, and full of destruction and escape—you open that book, Jackie, Danielle, and you know that they don’t really have last names like Collins or, laughably, Steele, but you read and are absorbed.  For the time that you are reading, you are not a librarian, you are free!  Secure in the knowledge that if the world doesn’t do what it is supposed to, you can just close the book.  The perfect life, really, don’t you think?

Isabel:  It is hell, Victor.  It’s not real.  It’s a diversion, from the responsibility of living.

Victor:  A librarian.  Fuckin A.

Isabel:  I am not a librarian, Victor.  I don’t know you, you don’t know me.  My name is
Fortune.

Victor:  Hippy parents?

Isabel:  I was hired to find you.

Victor:  Why?

Isabel:  Because you are trusted by Dr. James.  He lives through you, can’t you see that?

Victor:  I’m afraid I do not know a Dr. James.  Who sent you?

Isabel:  You know him.  He was just here.

Victor:  No one ever comes here.

Isabel:  He does.  I saw him leaving. 

Victor:  Dr. James?

Isabel:  Maynard Smith.  His pseudonym is Dr. Maynard Wilhelm James, he has done a lot of damage, caused a lot of pain, and now he is wanted.  The world will not miss him.  He’s a nobody… except to a few of us.  He will be, as they say, “written out.”

Victor:  You’re going to kill Maynard?

Isabel:  No.

Victor:  Who sent you?

Isabel:  You’ve got a story ready for whoever comes through your door.  You tell me.  Who are you ready for?

Victor:  I’m supposed to tell you—

Isabel:  That’s correct.

Victor:  --who hired you to kill Maynard? 

Isabel:  No.

Victor:  What?

Isabel:  I was hired to find you.

Victor:  So you aren’t going to kill him?

Isabel:  Correct.  Now guess.  Who hired me?

Victor:  I can choose?

Isabel:  Don’t be so stupid, Victor, you know better than that.  What is the most exciting choice?  Who do you want to be behind this?

Victor:  Al-qaeda?

Isabel:  Less fun.  More obvious.

Victor:  That fucking snake Carter is behind this.  This is a peanut thing isn’t it?

Isabel:  Less famous.  More irritating.

Victor:  Gilbert Godfried?

Isabel:  Cat coat.  Coat made of cats.

Victor:  Holy shit.  Holy shit.

Isabel:  Yes.  Now, will you do it?

Victor:  What?

Isabel:  Kill Maynard.

Victor:  I’m afraid that I don’t have a good enough reason.

Isabel:  You will.   

Victor:  So he hired you to ask me to kill him?

Isabel:  Yes.

Victor:  I’m supposed to kill Maynard?  Why not hire a professional?

Isabel:  You are a professional.

Victor:  I’m not.

Isabel:  You are.

Victor:  Not a professional killer.  Writer maybe, but not a killer.

Isabel:  We are all killers, what makes us professional is that we have a profession that allows us to cover our actual desires.

Victor:  What if we don’t have a profession?

Isabel:  Then you profess.  Which is what you do. 

Victor:  So I’m—

Isabel:  Cheap labor. Think NAFTA, only for homicide.

Victor:  I don’t think that I can just kill—

Isabel:  You will take care of Maynard.

Victor:  But—

Isabel:  I can see this will take more convincing.  I was prepared for this so I hired another.  Oh, and by the way.  Here is a gun.  It is loaded.  Hide it, you’ll know when you need it.

Victor:  What?

Isabel:  Take it.  My brother will visit you shortly.  He’ll give you reason enough. 

Victor:  To use the gun, or to kill Maynard?

Isabel:  Both, I’m sure.  (She exits.)

         (The lights fade as Victor stares at the typewriter.  He looks at the package again, opens it.  He peers inside, makes a disgusted face, closes the package and smiles.  Lights out.)

V

         (Rain.  Lights up revealing Maynard sitting at the typewriter.  The goldfish has returned and Hemingway is gone.  He picks up the package sitting on the stage left stack of papers.  Opens it.  Pulls out a few tri-folded sheets.  Reads.)

Maynard:  “…will be under law no longer bound financially as your wife.  Ms. Garcia—“ Ms. Garcia?  Christ, Isabel. “--has been advised of her rights afforded under statute 12:27, Section B, code C-199997, Appendix 3a, bullet 4, beginning, “the aforementioned clauses dictate that—“”  Rubbish.  Fucking rubbish.  I guess you’ve chosen.  This is it.  (pause)  I won’t sign them.  You can come and get them if you want.  Better yet, make that writer dick of yours come get them, I’d love to see him.  (Talking to the papers from the package.)  Baby… what the… because he’s famous?  Because he’s rich?  Because… because… I’m regular.  I’m regular and he is some sort of wonder… some kind of… You’re right, regular people don’t fall in love.  Regular people settle, regular people serve lovers spaghetti and red wine and veal and regular people DON’T DESERVE LOVE because regular people are just that.  Regular.  And love is not.  Love is fancy, rich, love drives nice cars and has admirers.  Love has a picture of himself on the jackets of every one of his books.  Please… I can’t… I…  shit.  Don’t… please, come back.  (He is completely broken.  He looks at the papers, starts to rip them but at the last second stops.  He straightens them out and puts them back on top of the stage left stack of papers.  Slowly works his way into typing.  Lights down. Rain and typing.  Then, silence.)

VI

         (Rain.  Lights up revealing Victor.  Hemingway poster in, goldfish out.  The door flies open again.  Another figure appears.  He is Ernest Hemingway and he carries a bottle.)

Victor:  My god. 

Hemingway:  Good day, friend, torched any ants lately?

Victor:  Ants?

Hemingway:  Ants, little fuckers, six legs, crawl on logs.

Victor:  Torched them?

Hemingway:  Burned them, magnifying glass, matches, Lysol and a butane lighter.  Anything really.  I find they do well if you throw them into a campfire.

Victor:  Oh, I get it, you are supposed to be Hemingway.  Right, the ants on fire, but you won’t save them… I get it, the world breaks you and you can only sit there and burn.

Hemingway:  Well put.  How utterly wasted you look.  I trust Fortune has contacted you.

Victor:  Why do I have to kill Maynard? 

Hemingway:  He is a waste. 

Victor:  A waste?  Waste of what?

Hemingway:  Oh god, what isn’t he a waste of?

Victor:  I’m afraid I can’t.  It’s just that--

Hemingway:  Whether you acknowledge it or not, Victor, you are in a war.  It is a war that is being fought on the page, the blood dripping commas and brutal, empty periods. 

Victor:  There’s nothing worse than war.*

Hemingway:  Defeat is worse.*  Maynard doesn’t progress the script, as a matter of fact, he detracts.  The audience is confused.  You’re the one they are interested in.  There are, of course, other reasons.   

Victor:  You’re not Hemingway.

Hemingway:  No?

Victor:  No.  Hemingway is dead.  And he was a horrible playwright.

Hemingway:  Oh?  Damn.

Victor:  You’re, Guy Macchio.  The mega-movie-star.

Guy Macchio:  (removes his beard/mustache, puts on lipstick, powders his face, becomes GUY)  Victor, I am an actor.  You have seen my performances and you have thrilled to my voice, you become weak when I speak.  Women flock to me, my unique magnetism, indeed a diamond in the rough.  They say that I sparkle when I come.

Victor:  My god.

Guy:  Yes, and theirs as well.

Victor:  So, why did you come as Hemingway? 

Guy:  When I go out, I am constantly surrounded by flocks of admirers.  I must always disguise myself.

Victor:  Isn’t dressing as Hemingway just as noticeable?

Guy:  In this weather, not at all.  It fits the vagrant lifestyle.

Victor:  You’re homeless?

Guy:  Yeah.  Haven’t had much luck with film lately.  Starbucks bought United Artists and they only want you if you have one arm or one eye or three legs or something so that they can compete with the foreign snuff/sex film market.  If you are as handsome as I, the highest I can hope for now is to choke in my own vomit so at least I’ll get a last supper.  Besides, they get tax breaks and stuff for hiring actors with different abilities.  It all started with that one short kid, who saw dead people, and Sloth from the goonies.  Before you can say Equity Charlie Sheen and Christian Slater and Polly Shore and other leading men like myself are kicked to the curb while that mini-me motherfucker from Austin Powers gets 5 million a picture.  So as another way to finance my herion habit, I’m here to convince you to kill Dr. James for our client.

Victor:  What about the flocks of admire--

Guy:  Concentrate, Victor, we are talking some really heavy shit here.  What we need you to do is stay calm and listen. 

Victor:  Me?

Guy:  Jesus, try to put your ego away for just a moment and focus on something other than yourself.

Victor:  What are you talking about?

Guy:  See this mole here?  Has it changed shape?  It used to be Indiana and now it’s kinda looking like Arkansas… if it hits the Texas phase, I’ll just die.  Look hard.  There.

Victor:  WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE!!

Guy:  I don’t have health insurance and dermatologists are just failed doctors.

Victor:  Maynard, er, Dr. James.  Why does he want to be dead?

Guy:  It goes like this.  I went to school with Maynard.  We grew up on the same block.  We were in eighth grade and he came to my birthday party.  He fell in love with a girl there, Isabel.

Victor:  The fish.

Guy:  I’m getting there, patience.

Victor:  No, I mean that his fish was named Isabel.

Guy:  What fish?

Victor:  His fish.

Guy:  He had a fish?

Victor:  Yeah, it was eaten by a cat…

Guy:  That fucking slime.  Watch out for him, Guy, he’s good.

Victor:  Good?  At what?  And who speaks to themselves in the third person anymore?

Guy:  Bob Dole.  And my agent says that it adds an air of mystery, of eccentricity to performers when they do that. 

Victor:  Get back to the subject, we were talking about the fish.

Guy:  Just drop the fish for a second… it’ll all make sense if you listen.  So anyway, this girl, Isabel, it was a costume party and she was wearing a cat costume.  He drooled over her for the duration of his eighth grade year and then he moved to Georgia.  A year ago, he found her again. 

Victor:  Isabel.

Guy:  Right. 

Victor:  Not the fish.

Guy:  Forget the FUCKING FISH!!!

Victor:  Okay, okay—

Guy:  Now, would you mind if I finished my story?

Victor:  No, no, go right ahead.

Guy:  We’re done with the fish?

Victor:  Yeah, sure.

Guy:  No more interruptions about the fish.

Victor: Look, man, I’m over the fish.  You’re the one still talking about it.

Guy:  I’M TALKING ABOUT THE FISH BECAUSE YOU CAN”T SEEM TO CONCENTRATE ON ANYTHING ELSE!!!

Victor:  What about the story?

Guy:  Fuck the story.  Are you finished with the fish?

Victor:  I said that I was over—

Guy:  Good.  Now, the story.  As I was saying, a year ago he found the girl.  My sister was working as a Private Detective in the Bay area at the time.  He came in, debonair and suave, we didn’t even recognize him at first, said he was a writer, and hired her to find Isabel, the one from the party.  We found her and Maynard made his move.  Things went fine for about three weeks with them. Then, she told him that she didn’t love him and that things wouldn’t work out.  When he left, he took her goldfish. 

Victor:  Back to the fish.

Guy:  It’s part of the story.  He took bites out of it, ate the son-of-a-bitch, sent the skeleton to her, the head and tail still intact, with a note that said “Kiss This, bitch.”  Kiss this.  Two words and he was gone.  Well, technically, three, but I’m not sure if I would count bitch.

Victor: Why not?

Guy:  Force of habit.

Victor:  Wow.

Guy:  There’s more.  Right when he disappeared, about twenty cats turned up missing from around the neighborhood.  I never connected it until I saw him coming from your cabin a few days ago wearing that coat.

Victor:  Jesus.

Guy:  If you catch me in the right light.

Victor:  So I need to kill Maynard because he killed Isabel’s goldfish and he feels bad about it?

Guy:  He came back two weeks after the incident and hired us out for another job.  This one.  I don’t think he feels bad about the goldfish, I think he just wants to be done with it all.  The lust, the jealousy, the constant measuring out of one’s life into the hands of another just to have the cup emptied. 

Victor:  So why the story about the goldfish?

Guy:  I thought it might give you a little more motivation, you know, seeing what kind of creature he is. 

Victor:  Couldn’t hurt.

Guy:  That and the cats.

Victor:  Yeah, that’s fucked up.

Guy:  Piss poor as they say.

Victor:  As who says?

Guy:  Some guy. 

Victor:  Why don’t you kill him?  I’m still foggy on why it has to be me.

Guy:  Listen, he hired us to find someone to kill him.  He knows he hired us, we couldn’t kill him.  But you, you are perfect.  He will have no idea.  He knows me, he knows Fortune.  He wouldn’t very well let us come around knowing that we might kill him.

Victor:  But I thought he wants to die.

Guy:  Right.  But he doesn’t want to experience it.  He just wants it when he least expects it.  He idolizes you.  You could kill him without any effort.  Gun in a pile of books, he comes in for his lesson, hey check out this new book-BAM!  Just like that.  He’d be honored really.

Victor:  I can’t.  You have to.

Guy:  You will.  Don’t worry, we have it all planned out.  Fortune will contact you again with the details.

Victor:  She just left. Why did you have to come here?  She already asked me to kill him, you didn’t have to repeat the proposition.

Guy:  Think of me as a motivational speaker, I get you all riled up and then, riding the crest of your emotions, the act becomes petty, in and of itself, compared with how much the bastard deserves it.  Plus, Fortune said that I can use this as character study… she said that if I could pull this off, then I would have a part in a feature in no time.  Gary Coleman or no Gary Coleman.

Victor:  Why do I care what he has done to someone’s fish?

Guy:  You will.  Besides, if you don’t do it, you’ll die.

Victor:  You’ll kill me?

Guy:  I won’t have to.  Maynard will do it for me.

Victor:  Maynard won’t kill me.

Guy:  You silly bitch, he’s already moved in, he’ll take over if you don’t stop him.  You are the winner here.  He is the loser.  That is the way it has been written since whenever it was that he slimed his way out of his mother.  He’s destined for it.  He needs it.  You need it.  You can’t succeed when he’s around.

Victor:  What are you talking about?

Guy:  Since you’ve been harboring him--

Victor:  I don’t think “harboring” is a fair term.

Guy:  Whatever, lets not argue semantics here.  As I was saying, since you’ve been “mentoring” him, how much work have you gotten done?

Victor:  None.

Guy: For one of the world’s most prolific and famous authors, that seems odd.  Don’t you think?  He’s polemical to your work.  He has to die. (Picking up the beard, he moves to the door.) 

Victor:  What’s in it for me?

Guy:  Life.  Real, honest to goodness life.  Not just some dramatic interpretation of it… not some mirror image, but actual life.  You’re dead as long as he’s around.  My sister will contact you with…

Victor:  The details, right.  I still don’t think—

Guy:  (Whipping out a gun from somewhere on his person, points it at VICTOR)  I’m through arguing here.  Say yes or I’ll shoot.

Victor:  You just said that you wouldn’t kill me.

Guy:  Correct, I am just going to shoot the shit out of your hands until you can’t type anymore.  Then, I think that I might shoot up your face a little bit… you’re too pretty.

Victor:  (Moving slowly, grabbing the gun that ISABEL gave him from his table.  As he talks he works the gun out of its place.)  Now Guy, isn’t this a little rash… I mean… we should just talk this out like gentlemen.  I’m sure that there is a perfectly legitimate reason that Maynard wants—(Gun is whipped out and pointed at GUY.  Standoff.)  Feelin’ lucky, punk?

Guy:  Make my day.

Victor:  (Shoots GUY in the arm.  GUY, thrown to the ground, is silent.)  Hell yeah… I could do this.  You okay, Guy?  (Goes and picks up Guy’s gun which was dropped when he was shot.)  Guy?  You want your gun?

Guy:  (Giddily.)  It’s a fake gun.  I got it at Kids R Us. 

Victor:  Don Bluth?

Guy:  Used to own the store, yeah.  (Almost orgiastic.)  Oh holy day!

Victor:  You’re arm, you’ll need some medical attention.

Guy:  (Exploding with glee.)  Not necessary!  Mr. Keenan?

Victor:  Victor.

Guy:  I am leaving.  My job is done here.  I can see that you are mulling it over.  The only place to go from here is the act.  Mr. Keenan, good evening.  (Laughing heartily and happily, literally ecstatic, he exits.)

         (VICTOR picks up the package again, smiles, and buries it in one of the piles of books. He places the gun in another pile of books and stomps the toy gun busting it into pieces.  The lights fade on VICTOR mumbling.)

Victor:  Broken. 

(After the lights fade, we again hear the rain and the typewriter.  Lights come up after a moment and MAYNARD has switched with VICTOR.  The short stack has gotten taller and the tall stack of papers has shrunken showing some progress.  The broken gun is gone.  The poster, too, is back to the goldfish.)

Maynard:  (Speaking as he types)  Broken.  In medias res.  The beginning is missing.  I feel so displaced, like someone had modeled me after someone but forgot to tell me my past.  But when I read your first book, “Lobotomy of a Liar”, your words, they filled the hole, they gave me expressions for the ideas, the passions, the missing parts.  You said, in the book, “A force stronger than life will run.  A decision made in desperation.  A divination of the inner spirit, dragged out of the conscience and into the stale air of our love.  Your lover will create you and you will kill yourself to make room for his creation.”  (He moves his mouth as the lights fade.  The rain and the typing continue into the darkness.  Then, silence.)


 


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