Monday, September 26, 2005

So here's a play I wrote as a freshman in college - must have been fall of 1995 (!). When I started at DePaul, I was still going out with my girlfried from high school. Having put on a short dramatized debacle I wrote at the school's "festival of one act plays," she encouraged me to present something for the year after my graduation. Her encouragement led to the birth of this mildly amusing morcel of boiled tripe, which she graciously and bravely produced. The only thing I can be remotely proud of is that this is the least derivative of anything I've ever written (and not destroyed), even though there are large slices of Ionesco.

Asphalt Depressions (Staccato Carp)

People involved (in no particular order):
Anita the Bun
Our Hero
Lincoln Logs Johnson-Thompson
Senator Dean Fud Bagettipuffs
Semolina Pilchard
John Lannon
Sir Captain Herbert Quafalvar Knucklebutt
Procession (about 3 to 5 people, in chorus)

Scenery and lighting are optional – the words are important. The only necessary prop is an imaginary puddle. Maybe some rocks or boulders. A white wall, bathed in a severe white light forms a diagonal separation of the otherwise open stage and should appear as though suspended a foot or so off the ground. There is no symbolic reason governing the placement or existence on stage of the wall. It is included only so that the actors may bounce their words off of it. The rest of the stage is bathed in, say, a soft pinkish light. Yes. Soft-pinkish. That should contrast very well with harsh white light…

Anita the Bun and Our Hero are on stage when the curtain disappears or the lights go up or the play starts, whichever should find itself first in line to occur.

Actors should pay attention to punctuation, and let such marks impart all their natural, succulent flavor to the speech.


OUR HERO. Regard the beautiful shimmering body of water to the right of my feet. It is shapely, somewhat moist, a little soiled, yet altogether pleasant and refreshing. It…

ANITA. …is a puddle. No more, no less.

OUR HERO. Yet as a puddle, this formation of aqueous solution excels. Regard how perfectly it plays the part, shimmering…

ANITA. You already said shimmering.

OUR HERO. …or glimmering, rippling in response to the caresses of the breeze. It lays there, content in its eternity as it shrinks back from previous shores, day by day.

ANITA. It is a puddle. I can see that it possesses no qualities other than that of a common pest, the puddle. What good does a puddle serve? None. It impedes the walker of paths, it covers the sidewalk pedestrian in splash. At that indigo moment when the liquid is gone but some moisture remains – this phenomenon being limited, of course, to the genus Mud Puddle – a mini-minefield of mud, very sticky, is laid. The water cradled in an asphalt depression will carry a slick of oil and other floating debris in the common sewer, a.k.a. street.

OUR HERO. Are you done?

ANITA. Indeed.

OUR HERO. I am sorry, my friend, but you suffer from a very unromantic disposition of vision.

ANITA. And you, my friend, suffer from a cripplingly romanticized view of even the most common, mundane, and vulgar terrestrial occurrences.

OUR HERO. Perhaps.

ANITA. Of course.

OUR HERO. At any rate, I’m glad to have you back. You’d been away so excruciatingly long. How was Moscow?

ANITA. Painfully exquisite. The paroxysmal pangs of pure pleasure which wracked my living carrion as our cross-country odyssey meandered to its close put me in a comatose state which was only broken by the heroic action taken by Sir Knucklebutt.

OUR HERO. I know how dearly you love the Idahoan scenery…

ANITA. Moreover, it was certainly an appropriate time to decamp. We were nearing the end of our supply of Appleberry Bananacherry Swirl yogurt.

OUR HERO. Always a good indication that the fun is over.

Herb rushes onstage. He is very shabbily dressed and seems to have no idea that he is about to be most ignobly slaughtered.

HERB. Guess what I just heard!

ANITA. Herbie, darling! We were just talking about you, rhapsodizing about Idaho.

HERB. (stiffening) Miss Anita the Bun. You shall not call me Herbie. I am Sir Captain Herbert Quafalvar Knucklebutt to all but my mother, whom I permit to address me with the appellation Herbert.

ANITA. May I call you HQK?

HERB. Absolutely not.

Our Hero goes off left, with or without gesture signaling intent.

ANITA. But it is such a long name, Sir Captain Herbert Quafalvar Knucklebutt. Perhaps you’ll allow Sir Captain Etcetera?

HERB. Absolutely not. Now, as I was…

ANITA. But it’s SO long, your name. Not even a single period in that vast wasteland of alphabetical carnage. Perhaps a semicolon, perchance a comma to provide a pause, a caesura so to speak, so that those who pronounce your name are able to do it without exhausting themselves.

HERB. Rubbish. No. Once more I repeat again, I am Sir Captain Herbert Quafalvar Knucklebutt. Now to return…

ANITA. Yes, go on with your news.

HERB. I was at the Pseudo Quickie Quick Mart buying a loaf of pearls when a fight erupted before my visionary orbs.

OUR HERO. (reappearing right) What’s that? A fight? What did I miss?

ANITA. Retell it so Our Hero can hear it.

OUR HERO. Yes, please!

HERB. Ok. I was at the Pseudo Quickie Quick Mart buying a gas cutlet, when a fight, a brawl, an entanglement, an altercation, a fracas, a brouhaha began to start to occur.

LINCOLN LOGS. (appearing right) What did I miss, a fight? Please fill me in! Who was there, who won?

ANITA. Retell it so Lincoln Logs Johnson-Thompson can hear it.

LINCOLN LOGS. Yes, please.

HERB. All right. I uh, I was, I think it was yesterday, or perhaps not five minutes ago – what’s the difference – yes, an hour ago. At that time, I say sixty minutes ago, I was at the Super Pseudo Quickie Quick Mart, or perhaps I was at the Pseudo Quickie Quick Mart, I cannot recall which, it matters not…

OUR HERO. …except for a sense of atmosphere…

HERB. What? A sense of… Oh, well, for atmosphere’s sake, I was at the Pseudo Quickie Quick Mart in the process of buying my favorite freeze-dried eggs – which can only be found at this particular franchise – when two people began – quite methodically, mind you – to beat the living carp out of one another!

Semolina Pilchard appears from right. She is elegantly dressed, and exudes an aura of refined, though faded, grace.

SEMOLINA. I just overheard someone talking about a fight. What is up? Who was involved?

ANITA. Retell it so Semolina Pilchard can hear it!

SEMOLINA. Oh please! Do!

HERB. Ok. I was in the Pseudo Super Quickie Super Quick Mart buying a starch-free beverage when a brawl, a verbal back-and-forth volley took place right in front of my nose, right there, I say, in front of my eyes and ears!

SEMOLINA. Get out of here.

OUR HERO. Between who and whom was this most spoken of contests waged?

HERB. Roberta Trumpet was there…

SEMOLINA. Oh, she’s always involved. (She leaves, in a huff.)

ANITA. She’s such a bitch.

HERB. The Senator…

LINCOLN LOGS. Senator Bagettipuffs?

HERB. Indeed. The same. As I was saying, he was there as well.

OUR HERO. Who was there?

HERB. The Senator…

ANITA. Aforementioned.

All look at all. Pause.

HERB. I continue. It seems that Roberta cut in front of the Senator in the checkout line. She said (assumes voices, demarcated by dashes) I ony haf tuna – I don’t care sis he – take that! sis she (drops voice) and she hauled out and hauled off and punched him in the bunch with a bag and a sack an’ barrel o’ potatoes.


LINCOLN LOGS. Potatoes? I thought she only had tuna.

OUR HERO. You don’t say!

HERB. I do.

ANITA. That happened to me once, too. But it was before Roberta Trumpet’s character had been created. And I was the antagonist.

LINCOLN LOGS. Senator Bagettipuffs should be impeached, in my opinion.

HERB. (shocked) It would be greatly appreciated if you were to not solicit your opinions until such time as they had been sought.

ANITA. Your speech is very constipated.

LINCOLN LOGS. And not so correct.

HERB. It is an ailment native to my nature.

All look at all. Pause.

OUR HERO. What has the senator been doing lately?

LINCOLN LOGS. He has proposed that we the people vote for an increase in taxes on chicken.

ANITA. Bravo! Lord knows the chicken farmers make the biggest profits of all entrepreneurs. I’m all for tax reform. Those farmers get away with murder. They even reuse chicken feed.

HERB. (impassioned) But it seems to me that there must needs be a limit somewhere. We cannot have taxation rampant. Soon some drooling half-wit will be lobbying to tax domestic animals.

OUR HERO. Hey! My grandmother was a drooling half-wit!

LINCOLN LOGS. (to Herb) I strongly dissent to your argument. (LINCOLN LOGS pulls out a pistol and shoots Herb)

HERB. (dying) Thanks, buddy. (He dies. His carcass will remain for the rest of the drama)


LINCOLN LOGS. What is for dinner this evening?

ANITA. I don’t know. You should ask your wife.

LINCOLN LOGS. But she’s not here.

OUR HERO. No, she’s not, and she won’t be.

LINCOLN LOGS. You don’t know that for sure.

OUR HERO. But I am pretty sure and fairly certain.

ANITA. (looks around her some five seconds, points down) I am here. I am nowhere else.

Senator Bagettipuffs strolls onstage accompanied by procession.

OUR HERO. Isn’t that the Senator?

ANITA. Yes, I believe it is.

PR. (always in unison) Are you finished talking?

ANITA. Speaking for my friends here assembled, I would have to say Yes, we are.

PR. Are what?

ANITA. Finished talking, of course.

PR. Good, of course. (pause, composure) Allow me to present to you the honorable, exonorable, fruitfully faithful – constituentially speaking – Senator D. F. Bagettipuffs.

SENATOR. (deep bow) Thank you very much. I wish to congratulate each and every one of you on your excellent choice of me as your representative. And I would like to propose, here and now – Oh, Lincoln Logs. Your wife told me to tell you, or that you’d like to know, that you should be informed or briefed or apprised of the situation which shapes up thusly: For your evening repast you shall savor roast fillet of turnip smothered in a rich, luxurious, and voluptuous potato-tomato-spinach purée, the whole ensemble copiously sprinkled with freshest tarragon – uh, I would like to propose a tax hike on our nation’s younger citizens. The facts are plain, we must find new ways of getting revenue, and let’s face it, the average decorative rutabaga sale just doesn’t cut it anymore.

ANITA. First of all, let me once more speak for my assembled acquaintances here assembled by saying that I didn’t vote for you, now way in hell. And secondly, I would relish knowing what the D.F. in your name signifies.

SENATOR. The D. F. which precedes the Bagettipuffs when one addresses me is an abbreviation for Dean Fud.

JOHN. (hopping onstage) What’s this I hear about a fight?

ANITA. You missed your cue, Mr. Lannon.

JOHN. Why’s Herb dead?

OUR HERO. He died of a disagreement.

JOHN. Too bad. He was a good guy.

SENATOR. He was your brother, was he not, John?

JOHN. Uh, yeah. I think he was. And a damn good brother, at that!

ANITA. The Senator was telling us about his name just before you hopped by.

JOHN. Hey Dean, can you give us your speech?

SENATOR. (touched) Why, certainly. (clears throat) Dear citizens. Fellow citizens. It is high time to do something. We must get something done now while we still have time. If we don’t get something done, something will happen. And I don’t want to be there when it does. It won’t be pretty. And I wish to say, as your –

JOHN. Oh I don’t like that. You changed it!

SENATOR. Well, I thought maybe it was getting a little stale.

JOHN. Nonsense. It won you several elections, didn’t it?

SENATOR. I would like to think I was elected by virtue of my excellent policies.

JOHN. You’re fooling yourself. (leaves in a huff)

ANITA. No one here likes you, Senator.

SENATOR. Oh I think that’s a little severe.

ANITA. I don’t.

OUR HERO. I don’t.


SENATOR. (defensive) But John Lannon likes me. And Reindeirdre Hoskins, and Ionizia Preface, and Semolina Pilchard, and Sorbitol Watkins, and Elephanta Strunk, and Roberta Trumpet, and Hilda Harks, as well as Suzi Woek-Woek. So there.

ANITA. But they’re not here.

SENATOR. But John was just here a minute ago –

LINCOLN LOGS. I think Anita is trying to elucidate in subtler terms that you ought to roll your carcass to greener fields.

ANITA. (correcting) Pastures.

LINCOLN LOGS. (correcting himself) Grazing grounds.

OUR HERO. Unless you want to tell us your Jesus conspiracy theory.

SENATOR. No, I guess you’re right. I’ll leave. (he stays)

OUR HERO. Oh, look at your reflection in the puddle, Lincoln Logs!


OUR HERO. My, look how it shows off your forehead.

John hops on from the opposite direction he hopped off.

JOHN. Can you tell me what crawls on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs after noon?


JOHN. I don’t need to know why it crawls, I just need to know what it is. My mother’s mother needs it for a recipe.

OUR HERO. I think I may know. A bug.

JOHN. A bug? What sort of bug?

OUR HERO. When I was little I used to have a little ritual. I used to pull two legs off a bug in the morning, and two at noon, and by five o’clock, it would be walking with the aid of its tongue.

JOHN. Oh, thanks.

John goes off left, followed by Senator and Procession. Long pause. All look at all, awkwardly.

ANITA. This is the seven minute break.

OUR HERO. Come again?

ANITA. Every seven minutes there is a break in the conversation.


Semolina Pilchard enters.

OUR HERO. Oh, it’s a good thing you came, finally. We’ve been waiting for you. Anita tells me you’re the Antichrist.

SEMOLINA. Me? (to Anita) What’s this all about?

ANITA. That’s the word.

SEMOLINA. Where did you hear this?

ANITA. In the parking lot of the Pseudo Quickie Quick Mart. It was announced over the loudspeaker.

LOUDSPEAKER. Attention PQQM shoppers. Semolina Pilchard is the Antichrist.

ANITA. Like that.

SEMOLINA. What’s an antichrist?

John Lannon hops on stage.

SEMOLINA. (to John) Hey, Jude. Tell them what you told me about Anita last week.

JOHN. I’d rather not, really.

SEMOLINA. If you won’t, I will.

JOHN. No, please! She’s right here. It would be imprudent of you to place me in a position to –

ANITA. Go ahead, John. I won’t listen, I promise.

SEMOLINA. I heard last week, from a source who shall remain nameless, that you, Anita the Bun, and you, Lincoln Logs Johnson-Thompson, had planted a garden together. Moreover, I heard that you planned to disown, in a monetarily profitable ceremony, the produce produced in said fertile bed. How do you plead.

ANITA. I’m shocked. I am shocked. Who would spread such vicious rumors? Who told you that? WHO!!!

OUR HERO. Anita, my friend, I am afraid your hysteria reveals your guilt. You may not deny it now, you have uncovered yourself.

ANITA. (very suddenly perfectly calm) No, indeed I do deny the hideous accusation levied here against my virtue. Such an act of commercialism, so blatantly vulgar and garish – I could not conceive. I have not the capacities to commit such a heinous act.

LINCOLN LOGS starts to leave, but is stopped by the following from SEMOLINA:

SEMOLINA. Stop, Johnson-Thompson! You will not get away… I wish you to answer my inquiry as it is rephrased with your name, Lincoln Logs Johnson-Thompson, in place of that of Miss Anita the Bun: what is the extent of your guilt?

LINCOLN LOGS. I cannot tell a lie.

A giant cardboard cutout of a tree painted with bright red cherries comes crashing down in the instant of LINCOLN LOGS’s pronouncement. It is ignored.

OUR HERO. Do you admit your own guilt and simultaneously incriminate Ms. The Bun?

LINCOLN LOGS. I do. I have no choice.

JOHN. I am so sorry, Anita.

ANITA. For what? Lincoln Logs should say he’s sorry. He must learn to speak for himself.

SEMOLINA. Do you wish to recant, revise, change, or alter your earlier, or previous, or whatever, statement?

ANITA. (vehement) NO.


ANITA. Shutup!

SEMOLINA. You possess, Miss Anita the Bun, a garrulous, offensive, rotten, nasty, disagreeable, temperamental, and thoroughly unpleasant personality. Mr. Johnson-Thompson, please recount for the assembled the occurrences as they occurred, if you will.

LINCOLN LOGS. Very well. We were accustomed, Anita and myself, to gardening every once in a while. But we would never harvest with malicious intent. Always we consumed what we produced ourselves. But one night, maybe it was evening, in a drunken frenzy, we decided to begin our profitable albeit scandalous venture. Ms. Anita was entirely responsible: She led me into the situation, and her genius was responsible for its execution. I was merely responsible for the choice of roadside spot.

SEMOLINA. Ms. Anita. Will you answer Mr. Johnson-Thompson?

ANITA. I have! I am not guilty, I maintain! I am not guilty!!!

OUR HERO. I think your guilt is evinced by your vehemence in denying it.

ANITA. If you find me guilty, you must punish me.

OUR HERO. What shall her punishment be?

SEMOLINA. We could burn her, or perhaps drown her.

JOHN. Let’s crucify her!

OUR HERO. I like that idea.

SEMOLINA. Good. Then let’s find an implement of crucifixion.

John and Semolina exit with Lincoln Logs dragging the carcass of Herb, all the while debating between rope and nails. Our Hero and Anita remain, as they were in the beginning.

OUR HERO. (after a long pause) Regard the beautiful shimmering body of water to the right of my feet. It is shapely, somewhat moist…