by Bruce Kinky
A brief absurdist play. Relativity, Obedience, and Complacency.
|The Price of Pepsi
Pepsi and the Price of Perception
( Lights up slowly center stage revealing a bald-headed child of about 10. He sits without movement—more a sculpture than a living creature. Dixieland music plays. (Louis Armstrong’s recording of “Muskrat Ramble” is suggested). Light fades until black-out. Pause. The bald-child exits. Lights up revealing a makeshift bed composed of soda-pop cans (preferably Pepsi) and stacks of old newspapers. The bald-child enters. Music fade out.)
Bald-child: (sings) Night is come. Night is come. Lay down my sun. Night is come.
Look up now. Look up now. We will stay down. Night is come.
(He pulls a Pepsi out from behind his back. Drinks. Sighs. Sits down onto “bed” and sings)
Bald-child: On two hundred pounds he quit.
On two hundred pounds he quit.
Night is come. Night is come.
Bring me two hundred pounds!
Police-man: Hey now, old pal, whatcha singin’?
Bald-chld: (smiling) A song. A song. A song of trouble. A song of might. A song of….
Bald-child: I suppose you know why.
Police-Man: Because it’s night?
Police-man: Or because it rhymes with “might.”
Bald-child: Look past.
Police-man: Look past what?
Bald-child: The night.
Police-man: Look, pal, I’m gonna hafta take ya in. You’re just a little too drugged up on
that Pepsi shit..
Bald-child: The night. It isn’t because it is night. It isn’t because it rhymed.
Police-man: Why was it then?
Bald-child: Because it felt good. Because it made me happy to put it there.
Police-man: (pulls gun, cocks hammer, shoots Bald-child in head. Slowly removes police uniform to reveal the uniform of a Pepsi delivery salesman.) Damn! I’m so sick of this. These fucking junkies destroying our reputation as the beverage heard round the world! They’re single-handedly destroying our profit margins. (Pepsi-man sits, rolls up sleeve, produces a Coke from his pocket and proceeds to pour it all over his ex posed vein).
(Lights fade out. No music except a lone bagpipe playing a requiem.)
Pepsi and the Price of Identity
(Silence. Sound of soda can being opened. Lights up. Bright, sterile, fluorescent lights. A man sits at a table. He is wearing his Pepsi uniform. He sits at a table stage center and methodically sips from his can of Coke. He faces the audience and stares blankly into space. He sings.)
Pepsi-man: I met me a cowboy
Down in Tucson
We stayed up and drank
Coca Cola until dawn.
He smiled his dirt smile
And told me his story
I nodded in respect
Absorbing his glory
He gave me his hand
And I took his soul
He made me smile
But I took my toll
Now I’m the cowboy
Down in Tucson
He’s buried somewhere
In the Arizona sun.
(Cowboy enters stage right. He stops a moment and stares at Pepsi-man. He smiles. Silence)
Cowboy: How’s the business?
Pepsi-man: The business?
Cowboy: The Pepsi. Reckon the sales are way up in Arizona. Sure is hot out there. Hotter
than a steer’s toocus on a July afternoon.
Pepsi-man: Well, it’s about as good as can be expected.
Cowboy: Why ain’t it as good as you want it?
Pepsi-man: Because I don’t care.
Cowboy: Don’t you want to be a Pepsi-man?
Pepsi-man: No. I want to be a Cowboy. I’m only a Pepsi-man because I can’t ride horses.
Cowboy: Why don’t you learn?
Pepsi-man: No… I can’t ride horses, don’t know anything about cows, afraid of the night
outside, I can’t wear them jeans, I don’t have any boots. Besides, I was told I that
I couldn’t be a cowboy.
Cowboy: Why who told ya that bunch a mu-lar-key?
Pepsi-man: My boss.
Cowboy: Your boss told you that you couldn’t be a cowboy?
Pepsi-man: Yep. Not only my boss though. My wife.
Cowboy: You have a wife?
Pepsi-man: Not anymore.
Cowboy: Where is she?
Pepsi-man: She left me for a cowboy.
Pepsi-man: And my mom. And my dad. My friends, the guy at the bar, the bank lady I
tried to have sex with, Al down at the junkyard, and Effecius down at the park.
Cowboy: You listen to a man named Effecius?
Pepsi-man: Yeah…why, what’s wrong with that.
Cowboy: Well, seems ta me that Effecius’s got it all wrong.
Pepsi-man: You think I could be a cowboy?
Cowboy: No. I think you could be a police-man though.
Pepsi-man: A police-man, eh?
Cowboy: That’s just what I think.
Pepsi-man: Okay. I’m gonna be a police-man. Do you think that peoples’ wives leave them
if they’re police-men.
Cowboy: If who’s a police-man?
Pepsi-man: The people. The people. Damn, a wife can’t be a police-man.
Cowboy: Oh. Why not?
Pepsi-man: Because she’s a wife.
Cowboy: You’re a Pepsi-man.
Pepsi-man: Yeah, but I ain’t a wife.
Cowboy: What’s the difference?
Pepsi-man: A wife would have to be a police-woman.
Cowboy: Oh. Well. Well, I’ma gonna go now.
Pepsi-man: Where to?
Cowboy: Oh, I don’t know. Seems I just float around til I’m needed.
Cowboy: Cowboys don’t do drugs. Just Sasparilla.
Pepsi-man: Okay. Well, I’m gonna go be a police-man.
Cowboy: Where ya gonna be a police-man?
Pepsi-man: Oh, I don’t know. Where do you think?
Cowboy: Well, I’m no police-man, but I’d look in the dark places. That’s where I figger the
bad-guys would be. That’s where I’d search. Bad guys wear black to fit in with the
dark. Remember that.
Pepsi-man: The alleys you mean?
Cowboy: The what?
Pepsi-man: The alleys. It’s the places between the buildings. Between businesses. It’s
where they throw trash and sometimes bums sleep back there.
Cowboy: Why would you look there?
Pepsi-man: Because you said to.
Cowboy: I did?
Pepsi-man: Yeah. So… I’m gonna go there. I’m gonna be a police-man.
Cowboy: Do you have a gun?
Pepsi-man: No. Do you think I need one?
Cowboy: Yeah. Every police-man I know has one.
Pepsi-man: What do they do with them?
Cowboy: Ain’t you seen any a them motion pictures?
Pepsi-man: They really shoot people?
Cowboy: Reckon they just shoot bad guys.
Pepsi-man: How do you know who the bad guys are?
Cowboy: You’ll just know. But they usually where black.
Pepsi-man: Oh. Well, could I borrow your gun?
Cowboy: Well, reckon you’ll need it. Here.
Pepsi-man: Thanks. Do I just put it in my pocket?
Cowboy: No. Here is the holster and the belt and some bullets. What you do is put the holster round your waist like this, see? Then you put the gun into the holster. That way you don’t have to tie up yer hands with carrying it. You load the bullets here in the back of the chamber. This is a revolver with six chambers, see? What you do is flip this little switch here to break the gun in half and the revolver chambers face you like this. Then you put the bullets, now this is important here, you put the bullets in small side first. Make sure the big side with the lip and the small circle in the middle, the flat side that is, is facing you. Fill all the chambers, close the gun, point and shoot.
Cowboy: (Exiting) See ya round, pardner.
Pepsi-man: I’m gonna go to the alley and be a police-man!
(Pepsi-man watches Cowboy leave. Silence. He finishes his Coke and stands up. He strips off his Pepsi uniform to reveal the uniform of a police-man. He stands proudly facing the audience. He puts on the gun and holster. Stage lights out.)
Pepsi and the Price of Age
(Sound of spring birds comes up slowly with a warm yellow/orange light slanting violently in from upstage left. An old couple walks from downstage right, hand in hand, each carrying a plastic bag full of empty Pepsi cans all in various states of disrepair—run over, crushed by hand, faded by sunlight, etc.. )
Old-man: Nice mornin’.
Old-woman: Good lawn this year.
Old-man: Probably buy some new shoes.
Old-woman: Probably buy the grandkids some new cars.
Old-woman: We have money?
Old-woman: The neighborhood is clean.
Old-woman: We’ll die before the earth does.
(The couple stops. They look into each other’s bags. A look of confusion is shared between the two. Pause.. Bald-child enters.)
Bald-child: Nice morning.
Old-man and Old-woman: Yes.
Old-man: You thirsty?
Old-woman: We have these cans, see.
Old-man: We collect them. Every mornin’. Early.
Old-woman: For many years.
Bald-child: Can I have them?
Old-man: Get money for them.
Bald-child: Thanks. (follows Old-couple offstage)
Police-man: Where’d they go? Damn fogies recycling cans…increasing our expenses single
-handedly. (He notices a crushed can on the ground. Bends down, picks it up, stands up, holds it up to the light. It is a Coke can.)
(Sound of birds up slowly as orange ray of light fades slowly. Blackout, birds sing.)
Bald-Child: (offstage) Thanks. (Sound of dragging bag of aluminum cans.)
(Sound of birds slowly out until it is just black and silence. Pause. Sound of soda can being opened.)
Pepsi and the Price of Love
(Sound of birds up slowly with a red light. The light is focused on Old-man. He sits in a rocker. A lamp with a red bulb stands next to him. He reaches up to turn the lamp off. Beat. He pulls the lamp chain and the light turns immediately to a hazy light blue.)
Old-man: Hmmmmmmmmm. I see you. How is it? Up there? Do they have golden
toilets? That would be great. Can you use a toilet now? That would be great. Bill
down at the garage said that he saw that bald-kid yesterday. He said he built a little house in the alley with those cans we gave him. He just un-crushed em. Must have spent hours working there, un-crushing them cans. Twisting, pulling, twisting, pullingtwistingpullingbending. For hours…just…un-crushing. Then he built himself a little house. With a bed. With our cans. I miss you. The doctor told me that you just sorta swelled up all inside of you and he couldn’t do anything. Said your stomach just ran into the other organs and kinda pushed em around a little. The other organs couldn’t go anywhere you know, I mean where would they go, outside your body? Well anyway so them organs just kept getting crushed tighter and tighter from the swelling from that bee-sting. Then the lining, the mucous-membrane he said, a kind of sack that holds the organs together so they don’t run around your body, well, it broke just above your pancreas he said and the fluid inside leaked out into your muscles and that’s why you couldn’t move and you swelled up so bad that we couldn’t get out of the door to our house and we had to borrow Sonny Merdoni’s axe so that we could cut the wall down to get you out because you swelled so bad. I don’t know how we got to the hospital but you had died anyway and I remember seeing your eyes the whole time between our house and the hospital and that’s why I don’t know how we got to the hospital. I just looked at your eyes and you looked at mine and we were together. We smiled with our eyes and I remembered all of our lives in that short moment of riding in the car. You are happy now and I am happy for you but I have to go and find that bald-kid. He might want to live with me. I miss you. (He breaks down crying. Burying his head in his hands, he shakes for a few seconds and suddenly reaches up to the lamp. He pulls the chain and lights go to black immediately. We can hear him sniffle and he lets out a low whine that blends slowly into the sound of the birds from before.)
Pepsi and the Price of Life
(Lights up on the set from Scene 1. The lights are bright white and the bald-child lies, still dressed in his black shawl and pants like before, on the white sheets covering his Pepsi-can and newspaper bed. He is dead and the blood from the hole in his head has pooled up, painting the white sheets. Old-man enters.)
Old-man: Oh no. I knew it. I knew I’d be too late. I saw that he already
picked up the Coke can we left that morning we met you. I saw his eyes. I knew he was coming for you. I thought I could beat him. But my wife…she…she died. Her organs swelled up and…well, I won’t go into it. Oh no. This is terrible. Just terrible.
(Pepsi-man enters. He is holding a gun in one hand and a Coke can in the the other.)
Old-man: What did you do?
Pepsi-man: I shot him.
Pepsi-man: I used to be a police-man.
Old-man: And now?
Pepsi-man: I’m not anymore.
Old-man: Why not?
Pepsi-man: Because I shot a bad guy.
Old-man: This child?
Pepsi-man: He was wearing black. He was living in the alley. He was junked up on Pepsi
singing crazy songs.
Old-man: You don’t ever sing crazy songs?
Pepsi-man: Yeah, but I don’t live in the alley.
Old-man: So, what are you now?
Pepsi-man: Oh, I don’t know. I’m a Pepsi-man again for now.
Old-man: You killed a child. You shot him.
Pepsi-man: I did?
Pepsi-man: No, I didn’t.
Old-man: You didn’t?
Pepsi-man: No. The police-man did.
Old-man: Oh. Well, he shouldn’t have done that.
Pepsi-man: I know. (Takes gun out of holster. He stares at the Old-man. Silence. Long pause. He takes the gun and puts it in his mouth.).
(The lights fade out slowly to black. We hear a shot. The lights come back up with the warm orange-glow from scene III. Pepsi-man is lying face down in a new pool of blood. Old-man turns to the boy and picks him up. He walks off stage and the lights fade out. He sings as the lights fade.)
Old-man: Night is come. Night is come. Lay down my sun. Night is come.
Look up now. Look up now. Lay down my son. Night is come.