(Inside me, it was...)

29.6.2016

Art Hog: The First 45 Pages


Work in Regress.  Updated: August 2016


CHARACTERS

APOTHECARY                          A man in his late twenties. From the Middle East.

ROBERT FORLORN                   A man in his early forties. A photographer in previous life.

CHATTY WESSON                    A woman of an indeterminate age; a poet.

NIM CHIMPSKY                       A toddler in his early 80s. Once upon a time a professor.


SETTING

ACT I

A psychiatric institution in Massachusetts. As far as you can see, nearly everything is white. The following are, however, black: APOTHECARY’s yarmulke; his and FORLORN’s clothes beneath their lab coats; the balcony rail, the walls. WESSON’s clothes are of some diluted hippie/hospital hue.


ACT II

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a.k.a. The Mob Court of Cambridge. What was white before, is now black, and vice versa. On the right is a desk on top of what seems like a mountain of bureaucratic debris. Check out the Crane’s Court scene in The Dark Knight Rises for details and inspiration.


TIME

The present.



ACT I

In darkness, ominous music: a pastiche of “The Beast” by Jóhann Jóhannsson. Two explosions, far away. FORLORN tries to sing the Marseillaise, in Russian. He has a coughing fit. Lights on two men in lab coats, and their patient/guinea pig: APOTH. is pushing a wheelchair, WESSON sitting in it. She has a black pillowcase over her head. Downstage, FORLORN is about to throw up. Music fades.

APOTH.
Here we are, home of the dissidents. I’ll show you around. There’s Robert! Hey, Bob! What’s up, man?

(WESSON turns her head frantically from left to right. FORLORN is retching.)

Bob is the boss. He must of found something beautiful down there. Find a flower, now, did you, Bob?

FORLORN
Stop calling me that. You sick fuck!

APOTH.
Who, me?

Fer Chrissake, leave me be.

APOTH.
I beg your pardon! Terribly sorry, I am. His holiness is in a cranky mood. See what I have to put up with? Mr. F-word, if you’d be so kind to tell us what happened. Would you like to share? You didn’t swallow it by any chance? The, um, seed?

FORLORN
Something in my throat, stuck in there. My lungs, they are a…

APOTH.
I see. It’s a lesson in anatomy.

FORLORN
… collapsing. It’s a lesson, all right. To Live Is to Die.

APOTH.
Hey, what’s with the morbidity? You trying to drag us back to school, yo? It won’t happen. Can’t push us around the way you done an innocent child! Feeding us your oppressor lies…. I’m a man now! You hear? I’m Muddy Waters! Sugar Ray… yeah, that’s right! Sugar Ray Leonard, he’s back, and he’ll make your bones go crack!

(APOTH. shadow boxes, fighting invisible adversaries. Meanwhile, FORLORN has regained his composure.)

FORLORN
Boy! Come back… I know you. Hey, maybe not. He looks familiar, though. Son of Sam, that’s him, mystery solved: David Berkowitz, following the advice of his neighbor’s dog. Was it the Devil that spoke to him? God? “Kill those people. Shoot the fuckers.” And here’s Chatty!

(He peeks under WESSON’s hood to confirm this.)

Hey, sweetie, how you doin’? Right, nobody home, as expected. Gone conversing with the future generations again, Chatty has. The future, dear audience, that’d be you. Chatty here, she can’t think straight, let alone speak. Is why I’m here: I’ve got you covered. Chatty needs a medium, someone to figure out what she’s saying, trying to say at least, put forward. Well, here I am: Robert Forlorn, Ron J. Lovelorn, at your service.
(Sighs)
I’d love to sit on top of a column and be incoherent. You know, like Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee. “Tell us, O monkey, what’s going on? What is right and wrong!” Do the Ad lib schtick, but, you know, someone’s got to put food on the table. In the manner of speaking, see what I’m saying? No? Well, I’ve found my dream job, teaching table manners to dogs. The Demon Dog, he just wouldn’t listen.
(Nods at WESSON)
Look at her.

(He grabs the wheelchair and turns it so that WESSON is facing the audience.)

The boy who’s wrestling with his demons as we speak, all he’s asking from you, my fellow Americans, is a moment of silence, of peace… in memory of a remarkable talent who happens to be also a poet.

APOTH.
No shit.

FORLORN
None.

APOTH.
Fun. We gonna have some, right? Tonight!

FORLORN
I doubt it.

APOTH.
No? Why?

FORLORN
Because we’re all dead. For starters. Well, she isn’t, yet. She’s a prospect, a hangaraound, a bootlicker. A professor of bootlicking.

APOTH.
We’re dead?

FORLORN
Yep.

APOTH.
Lord have mercy!

FORLORN
That won’t help. Not now, Abu. Not this time, every goddamn time I say something isn’t a cause for…

APOTH.
Amen! Hallelujah!

FORLORN
That, my boy, there is blasphemy.

APOTH.
You can’t blasphemize something don’t exist.

FORLORN
Even so. People believe in it. You’re hurting their feelings.

APOTH.
They are hurting my feelings! They are preventing me from practicing my faith! If I did, they’d persecute me!

FORLORN
I don’t believe you. In the United States, you know, we have this thing freedom of religion.... Go ahead and laugh. We even have freedom from religion! If you act decent. There’s a time and a place for every…

APOTH.
No.

FORLORN
No? There isn’t?

APOTH.
“There’s a time and place…” Negative. Not for him, the Prophet, have mercy and all that, there isn’t. He’s timeless, all right? He’s everywhere at once, man. He’s standing behind you right now, feel me?

FORLORN
Now?

APOTH.
Right now.

FORLORN
You’d better come closer, then.

APOTH.
Why?

FORLORN
In order to, so I can feel you.

APOTH.
What are you talking about?!

FORLORN
You said… forget it. Forget everything I said! I’m sorry, all right?
(Pause.)
He don’t know much about peace then, the Prophet don’t, am I right?

APOTH.
He’s very busy.

FORLORN
What I thought.

APOTH.
Yeah, you got that right. Learning fast, aren’t you? You’re a fast learner. An A student, very clever! Very good! Gimme five.

(They give each other five.)

FORLORN
Still, he has to get in line. The Prophet does, like everyone else. Wait a minute, wait a second, hold on. Let me speak! Every word I say can’t be, isn’t about him! What I’m saying is, Jesus…

APOTH.
Don’t.

(Pause.)

FORLORN
Hey, man, I’m sorry, truly am, for bringing him up again. Okay, all right? Can I finish my fucking thought? Pa?


APOTH.
Be my guest.

FORLORN
Thank you. My heartfelt thanks!
(Aside)
Motherfucker.

APOTH.
What about the chip on your shoulder? How did that happen? Your freedom from religion, maybe?

FORLORN
(Ignores him)
My thoughts and prayers… my thought. My, it’s gone.

APOTH.
Something about a pro…

FORLORN
No!

APOTH.
No! I mean, yes, I mean, listen.

FORLORN
Poetess.

APOTH.
Poe… what?

FORLORN
Poetess!

APOTH.
What’s that?

(FORLORN nods or points at WESSON. She senses that something is going on and speaks.)

WESSON
The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Tulip.


APOTH.
(Leering)
Hear that?

(FORLORN tenderly removes the pillowcase covering WESSON’s head.)

WESSON
The work of art—a miracle—was performed by the Rembrandts. The band, the band!

APOTH.
No Poe-Tess, her. She’s a, how should I put it? Basket case.

FORLORN
Shut your filthy mouth!

APOTH.
My mouth is filthy? Mine is? Spare us, please! Cocksucker. Besides, hello, Mr. Unborn? She’s not dead. You are, I am. You just said so. We are, she isn’t. There’s a chance for her still, chance to get out of here someday.

FORLORN
And for us…?

APOTH.
There’s only duty.

FORLORN
Jesus.

APOTH.
Again.

FORLORN
Again, I’m sorry.

APOTH.
What I’m saying is, have your moment, go ahead, knock yourself out with your memories and semen stains and crap, but don’t pretend it’s about her. It’s all about you, again!

FORLORN
I never said.

APOTH.
You never said what?

FORLORN
Never said I was a poet.

APOTH.
Your last days, you weren’t able to take pictures any more, remember?

FORLORN
Yes.

APOTH.
You wrote your name over and over again on a piece of paper.

FORLORN
At the hospital. Yeah. In Boston. How…?

APOTH.
This is Boston! You moron.

FORLORN
It is? It is! How… How’d you know that?

APOTH.
I’m a spy in the house of love. I know everything. Don’t try to change the subject. Your name, it was poetry enough for you.

(FORLORN pulls the pillowcase over his head.)

FORLORN
Oh, man. I’m confused!

APOTH.
Take it easy, bro. We started off on the wrong foot. Let’s try again. All right? My man, are we cool?

(FORLORN nods. Taking his time, he removes the pillowcase.)

APOTH.
Ladies and gentlemen! What we’re about to witness, none of it is true. It’s all in her head, and yours, too. We’re going to make it come true, since, you know, that is the method. That is the process. Shutter Island Cure we call it. Some say it’s brainwashing. Well… no tickee, no washee! Put your billfolds away. We won’t be needing your credit card numbers just yet. Pay later, pal, or let it be. We’ll fulfill all your fantasies for free. At the end, you’ll see, truly, honestly see. You’ll come to grips with reality. Anything but the pipe dream, is what they always say. Allahu Akbar, God is great! What they say as well, always. So don’t worry. It won’t be graphic, won’t be depressing. On the contrary! It’s going to be a, a…

FORLORN
Party?

APOTH.
Exactly.

(Pause.)

WESSON
I could have.

APOTH.
Yes. Go on.

WESSON
I… could… have.

APOTH.
Yes. We got that, thank you. It’s time to move on. Don’t you think?

FORLORN
She can’t! It’s impossible for her to...

APOTH.
She can’t?

FORLORN
No, “move on.”

APOTH.
Uh huh. Why’s that?

WESSON
I, I, I could…

FORLORN
She has suffered a trauma of some kind.

APOTH.
She’s been to al-Sham?

FORLORN
No. The trauma of being rejected, I’d say.

APOTH.
They didn’t want her?

FORLORN
No. They didn’t, she didn’t…. This has got dick to do with Syria!

APOTH.
Dick?

FORLORN
Jesus, Mary and Joseph…

APOTH.
Stop. Right there.

FORLORN
Alright, very well, fuck this. Where was I?

APOTH.
Massachusetts General.

FORLORN
What? No. I mean…

WESSON
I could have…

FORLORN
Shut up! It is my turn to give a speech now! Everybody, just quit that never-ending babble drilling into my temple like you’re trying to build something! What are you doing? It is my head, not a construction site! Only I am entitled to batter my brain. You see, the issues, the cause that drove us and changed every hour, they, it seemed so pressing at the time. Take action now! Any kind will do. We were getting old, what we thought, God have mercy on our soul. Quiet! They seem so funny now, those urgent matters of life and death. Sex, drugs, money…. Yes, money. We were children of the 60’s, and we learned nothing. Standing next to these salt mines of death, all that, it all strikes me so dull now. Change the world. Why? Come here. Enter the desert of boredom, bliss of oblivion. You may forget your name.

WESSON
I could have been someone!

FORLORN
Well, so could anyone.

APOTH.
(Sings)
“You took my dreams from me when I first found you.”

FORLORN
So what?

APOTH.
(Sings)
“I kept them with me, babe…”

FORLORN
What do you mean? Could have been someone, somebody else, or…?

APOTH.
Or anybody?

FORLORN
Try to be precise.

APOTH.
Try being anybody.

FORLORN
Try it.

APOTH.
Dang!

FORLORN
Tough. And yet, people do it all the time.

APOTH.
They do.

FORLORN
That’s raw ambition for you, dreaming of, being no one! The common man, as I always say: he…
(He snaps his fingers.)
Like the guy, what’s his face? That blinded the one-eyed fella? That is what the unsung heroes of our time do day in, day out, come hell or high water. Every goddamn day they give everything they’ve got in order to achieve that. Not being one-eyed—being no one. You see.

APOTH.
Hats off to them! Those about to croak, we salute. Those about to joke, we just shoot.
(Touching WESSON’s head)
Back of the head. There.

FORLORN
Bam! The urge to be someone, however…

APOTH.
(Smiling, shaking his head)
Man!

FORLORN
That is a pipe dream!

APOTH.
Is what children dream of, I think, if they dream at all.

FORLORN
Plain silly.

APOTH.
Okay? Moving on…

FORLORN
To the present issue, the matter at hand.

APOTH.
That is your future.
(Pause.)
Hey, the future is yours! Whatever you desire… that. A dream come true.

FORLORN
Going through your file, have to say I was impressed.

APOTH.
Me, too.

FORLORN
Your determination, devotion…

APOTH.
Gee.

FORLORN
You can say that again.

APOTH.
Gee. Gee…
(Confused)
A dream come true!

FORLORN
You said that already.

APOTH.
Sorry, boss. I’m sorry. Maybe, if…

FORLORN
Yeah?

APOTH.
If we slowed down a bit, I could keep up.

FORLORN
(To WESSON)
Sorry for the interruption. Won’t happen again, I promise. Abu here sniffed too much glue in his lifetime. And his brain turned into a sponge, real crispy-like. You might think that it was semen covering his grey matter, but no, you’d be disappointed. What Abu does, he pours more glue into his battered brain, to smooth out the wrinkles I suppose, only this time he’s calling his glue God, Allah, or, whatever. You see we’re running in circles here. So, fuck him. Fuck Abu! Miss Wesson, compared to you, the girls from my neighborhood…

(FORLORN kicks APOTH. in the ass.)

APOTH.
Fuck them!

FORLORN
I strongly advice against it. The girls from my neighborhood were a bunch of dry flowers. Like Abu’s brain, as a matter of fact, drenched in come.

You, Miss Wesson,, on the other hand, you are the flame that devours those hags, rags, devours us! Think about it. True.

(FORLORN takes a piece of paper from his coat pocket. He reads.)

“What hours I lay awake in the night, with his precious sleeping body beside me, wondering why he wanted so much to escape from reality.
(Pause.)
Wow. That’s poetry.

(WESSON is crying. She tries to control herself. She cannot.)

APOTH.
Miss!

FORLORN
Miss, is alright!

APOTH.
Don’t cry, Miss!

FORLORN
Miss! What is it? Something I said, Abu said or…?

WESSON
(Furiously)
Don’t you have a speck of humanity left in your charred-black petty hearts?

(FORLORN and APOTH. look at each other. They shrug, raise their eyebrows, spread their hands.)

Those weren’t my words, you sick bastards!
(Pause.)
This is worse than the Clockwork Orange, even! Torturing me with my beloved Rimbe…. You’re not humane! Filth! You’re the cesspool of the human condition, you hear me?

(WESSON calms down at last.)

FORLORN
“Torturing you…”

APOTH.
Miss!

FORLORN
You think this is torture? We haven’t even started yet.

APOTH.
That’s what you’re implying, you’re wrong.

FORLORN
So wrong, Frank Lloyd Wright.

APOTH.
We have your best interests at heart.

FORLORN
We do. The thing is, listen to me now. The lesson here is, given proper guidance, you could get better.

APOTH.
Easy. If you put your mind to it.

FORLORN
That’s right. Try a little, I’m not saying tenderness, all I’m asking is try building up a teeny weeny speck of trust. A spark… all right?

WESSON
Spark?

APOTH.
That ignites the charge hidden inside of every dream.

FORLORN
Either that, or transorbital lobotomy.

APOTH.
What?

FORLORN
An icepick through the eye. The treatment Kit Marlowe received at the hands of that ice queen, Elizabeth, her minions.

APOTH.
(Desperately)
What for?

FORLORN
For being a closet Catholic. Don’t worry. Take it easy, Abu! The icepick incident happened a long time ago, in the 16th century, to be precise, I think. In our time, there’s nothing but peace and prosperity as far as eye can see! Into all infinity…. But there’s a lesson to be learned here for our time as well. Don’t expect anyone to pay your bills because you’re such a genius or whatever. You are not, and they are not what they seem. They have their own agenda, every fucking time.

(WESSON stands up, takes a step or two. FORLORN doesn’t notice, APOTH. does.)

That’s what my Dad told me, at least, when I said I wanted to study art.

WESSON
And then he said, “Where’s your spark now?”

FORLORN
I beg your pardon?
(To APOTH.)
What did she say? I didn’t hear.... What?!

APOTH.
“Where’s your…”

FORLORN
Yeah?

APOTH.
I don’t know, didn’t catch it, either. You know, the full, the scope of it.

FORLORN
(Turning to WESSON)
Well? You open your mouth, and something falls out, and then, like a cat covering its turd, you’re all decency all of a sudden. Well, guess what? Fuck you, Miss Decency, and fuck your brother.

WESSON
You said something about a spark. I said, “Where’s your spark now?” It is a line from the movie The Thin Red Line, based on the novel of the same name. I haven’t read it. It’s second-hand info, I admit. A review or interview, something I read, the piece proposed that the line in question, the thin red one, is what separates a real person, human being, such as the boy in the black kippah, whom you so cleverly called my brother… very funny indeed… from a beast, a sicko like yourself.

Robert, you sellout! Where is your spark now?

FORLORN
(To APOTH.)
Take her away.

APOTH.
Where?

FORLORN
Out back, I don’t care.

WESSON
My name is Chatty Wesson!

FORLORN
And put her hood on, fore she flies away.

WESSON
Chatty Wesson! The world won’t forget!

(APOTH. picks up the pillowcase and puts it over WESSON’s head. He makes her sit down in the wheelchair. FORLORN removes his lab coat.)

APOTH.
Then what?

WESSON
My name is Chatty Wesson!

FORLORN
Take her out and put her down.

WESSON
The world is my witness!

APOTH.
Put her down?

FORLORN
Calm her down, I mean.

WESSON
My name is Chatty Wesson!

APOTH.
Calm her down? Yeah, like, how?

WESSON
Robert?

FORLORN
Hit her with something?

WESSON
Robert, listen.

(APOTH. produces a knife.)

FORLORN
Not that! Put that away!

WESSON
There are people all around!

FORLORN
Can’t you just give her something, make her shut up?

APOTH.
I can try.

WESSON
My name is Chatty…

FORLORN
(Interrupting)
Yeah yeah yeah, and everyone present bear witness to your meltdown. Fantastic, super. I think we got that. Now would you please, please shut the fuck up?
(To APOTH.)
You do that. Now get out of here. Both of you, go!

So, this must the Limbo. Seems to be a clean, well-lighted place.
(Pause.)

It ain’t easy, you know. Like, running a madhouse? You’re never off. You’re always on, duty. There are no nurses, no doctors, nothing but you. Have to do everything yourself. The workload, huge. You’re starting to, you’re losing your mind. Didn’t have much to begin with.

I never read anything but gay porn. Chatty said so, wrote so, in her memoir, Bust Kids. The time has come to prove her wrong, time to read something else! It’s time to read some hate mail.

(He takes a piece of paper from his pants pocket.)

Batty from New York writes, “I’m not aware how the word reached me: moving in mysterious ways, through the back channels, as it oftentimes does, de rrr…” Wait a second. Hold your horses. This is gay porn after all! Batty goes on, tying her reader up, sentence upon sentence, until everyone is begging for mercy, crying for help, in agony. Then and only then does she come to the point. “In short, I’ve learned about your project. I was forcing my fingers to type ‘project,’ though ‘scam’ would have been more to my liking. There are rules of decorum, however, or perhaps I’m just old. (Not that old, I hope!) Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? A word regarding your subject matter, the French poet Rimbe: Bearing in mind what Michel Well-Beck wrote on the subject…” Here’s a, what? Footnote: At the bottom of the page, in tiny print, stands a Michelin one star quote that goes, “Rimbaud was the world’s most beaten-to-death subject, with the possible exception of…”

(Gasping)

Fff.... Fffff…

(Holding his throat, he barks.)

Flow! Flaw! Flea…

(Enter WESSON. She is moving with difficulty, swaying. She holds a plastic bag in her hand. She has been sniffing glue. FORLORN does not notice her. He saves himself from choking by singing the chorus of “Psycho Killer”.)

    “Fafa fafa fa fa, fafa fafa fa fa. Better
    Run run, run run, run away!”

(WESSON opens the plastic bag, covers her mouth and nose with it, and inhales. FORLORN crumbles the piece of paper in his hands.)

Fuck you. Cut my head off, do what you will. I’m not reading that crap.
(Solemnly)
There are things worth dying for. The right to act like an ass, for instance.

(He throws the paper ball into the audience.)

Like Scratch, the late great monkey of mine, I’ll never be housebroken.

WESSON
You’ve been reading my chorus… my correct…

FORLORN
Your what?

WESSON
My corrosion!

FORLORN
You lost me.

WESSON
My e-mails! Who gave you the authors? I mean, audacity… or, or, or aura? Authority! Huh? Who gave you that? Asshole.

FORLORN
You sent it, your e-mail. You pressed the button and sent it.

WESSON
So what?

FORLORN
You sent it to us.

WESSON
So?

FORLORN
That’s why I, we, read it. That’s how we deal with our correspondence, how everyone does. They read it, even trash from Batty, New York.

WESSON
It’s outrageous, is what it is. It’s… invading my piracy!

(WESSON tries to take another hit from the bag. She starts retching.)

FORLORN
Chatty, what happened? What did he do to you?

WESSON
Not much. He gave me some…
(lifting the bag)
… medicine.

FORLORN
Did he fuck you?

WESSON
Hardly.

FORLORN
What?

WESSON
As in, “not much.” I need to lie down.

FORLORN
Where’s the knife? Where did he put it? I’m going to kill that motherfucker.

To be... or not?

WESSON
Don’t. Is alright! As a matter of fact, I nearly liked it.

(WESSON is lying on the floor, the plastic bag as her pillow. FORLORN sits down slowly, and carefully takes her head on his lap. He strokes her hair gently.)

FORLORN
My poor thing.

WESSON
He said I could go.

FORLORN
He did?

WESSON
All I had to do was take my medicine, and…

FORLORN
 Good for you!

WESSON
… pick up a person I look up to, do a show about him.

FORLORN
Or her.

(Pause.)

WESSON
Right. And that’s it. I’m good, I’m well again.

Will you help me?

FORLORN
With the show? Of course.

WESSON
We must make him new again, make him fresh.

FORLORN
Him? Who’s him? Who’re you talking about?

WESSON
Who do you think? Rimbe! Rimbaud, who else?

FORLORN
Oh.

WESSON
Silly. You didn’t think….  You didn’t…. There’s a problem with that?

FORLORN
No, of course not! It’s your show. Your show, your subject matter…

WESSON
Have to do some research on the current affairs. Watch the news, see if we can put old Rimbe in the middle of them somehow. Make him, how do they say, relevant once again, you know?

FORLORN
Sure.

WESSON
The way they do with Shakespeare. It’s not ‘68 anymore. We have to find out, see what’s going on out there. By God, go out, and…

FORLORN
I can do that.

WESSON
You can?

FORLORN
Sure.

WESSON
(Hugs him.)
I knew it! I knew could count on you! Robert, the love of my life—if only you were straight.

(She gets up.)

Let’s get to work right away! He promised me a space, an office or something.

FORLORN
A studio? He did?

WESSON
Yeah, a space to work in. And I need to change! Can’t work in these rags.

FORLORN
You look fine to me.

(WESSON tries on the lab coat.)

WESSON
How do I look?

FORLORN
Ravishing.

WESSON
You know I don’t. Thanks anyway. You’re ever the gentleman. Minding his manners, even in hell.

FORLORN
This isn’t hell.

WESSON
(Patting his cheek)
Of course. Of course it isn’t. See you in a bit.

(Exit WESSON, running. Tim Buckley: “Driftin’”—from Live at the Troubadour.)

FORLORN
There’s no hope in hell. And we’re swimming in it, drowning in it, hope that someday, somehow this is going to stop. This won’t go on forever. You can call these rivers corridors, call these great lakes rooms. I don’t care. I don’t care: they are there. Hope is real. You can feel it, it is real.

(Footage of ruined cities in Syria is shown. This lasts throughout the song. FORLORN is facing the audience, “watching” the show. His reactions are critical at first. He tries to evaluate the photos as works of art. Soon the subject matter overwhelms him, and he runs out of clever things to say. He does a little dance. He sits on the floor. He is nearly silent.)

(Commenting on the footage)
What is this, funny home videos? Not too funny, sad to say. Wow. Nice shadows there. Very. Impressive. Boring. New York is, said Gary Oldman in Sid and Nancy, Nancy and Sid. Only a heterosexual could say something as silly as that.

Wow. Gee. A dream came true. I’m falling asleep. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I have trouble breathing again.

(FORLORN stands up abruptly. He is panicking. He runs to the balcony. He considers jumping. He has one leg over the balcony rail, as a bright light engulfs him. WESSON and APOTH. call to him from the darkness.)

WESSON
(Offstage)
Robert!

APOTH.
(Offstage)
Robert!

WESSON
Don’t do it!

APOTH.
Please.

WESSON
We need you.

APOTH.
We do.

WESSON
I need you!

APOTH.
She needs you.

WESSON
There’s so much more to do. You’ve got so much more to give. Please, Robert!

APOTH.
We can’t make it without you.

WESSON
We need you to carry this thing.

APOTH.
It’s heavy!

WESSON
We need you to get it off the ground.

APOTH.
Need you to launch it into space!

(In the dark, there are muffled sounds, hissed words. WESSON giggles.)

WESSON
Get off of me, you animal!

APOTH.
I’m no animal.

WESSON
Yes, you are.

APOTH.
I’m a human being. Like John Merrick, you know?

WESSON
All I know is the New York Dolls song.

APOTH.
A what?

(FORLORN jumps. He has ropes around his ankle: they prevent him from hitting the floor. He is suspended upside down in the air.)

WESSON
Never mind. It’s time to cut the crap. We have business to attend to. ROBERT? GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE. NOW!

FORLORN
I can’t.

WESSON
Don’t gimme that! Just do it!

FORLORN
I’m a bit, um, preoccupied.

(Enter APOTH., carrying WESSON on his shoulders. She is in a new outfit.)

WESSON
This would of been so much better, if we’d had the table.

APOTH.
You can’t have everything, now, can you?

WESSON
Yes, you can. Aw, shucks! Where is that motherfucker when you need him? Robert, you useless piece of meat, where are you?

APOTH.
There he is.

WESSON
Robert! What do you think you’re doing?

APOTH.
He’s praying, I think.

FORLORN
No. As a matter of fact, I’m trying to concentrate.

WESSON
Don’t do that. It’s not one of your strengths, you know?

FORLORN
Shut up.

WESSON
Well, whatever. Jesus died for somebody’s sins, right?

FORLORN
Abu! Tell her to stop.

WESSON
I think they were yours, Robert. Jesus died for your sins, Robert!

FORLORN
And Peter and Paul did, too.
(Beat)
And Mary.

APOTH.
That’s blashemy!
(Pause.)
Sorry, Miss. Sorry for the interruption. I just… he was first.

FORLORN
My, my…

APOTH.
(Snapping at FORLORN)
What? What is that? More of your dirty sacrilege again? Irish Faggot!

FORLORN
Hey, hey.

WESSON
Boys, boys.

FORLORN
Rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay.

WESSON
Lower me.

APOTH.
Beg your pardon?

WESSON
Put me down.
(APOTH. does. WESSON strikes a pose, recites.)
You who were the poet of yesterday! Today I see you as a foot soldier, a grunt, as they say. Searching for truth in the entrails of the enemy: probing, groping with your bayonet, endlessly... Lord, your mighty pen! You threw it away! An act as defiant as it was gay…

FORLORN
Hair.

WESSON
Before, I was duped to believe that yesterday’s poet would be a detective today.

FORLORN
Phantom of the Opera.

WESSON
Nay, nay! A soldier—in the special forces, if I am going to  have my say. Should of never read Bolaño! Secundary sources, scum!

FORLORN
Jesus Christ Superstar.

WESSON
Plays no part in this.

APOTH.
Damn right he don’t!

FORLORN
West Side Story.

WESSON
Don’t pay him no mind. Robert is desperate, he’s doing his free association thing, aiming at the window of opportunity that someone, somewhere, will analyze him. And we know things don’t quite work that way. That belief, that’s what Robert calls a pipe dream. That is one, if there ever was any! No one cares, Robert. This is the 21st century. You can’t find purpose by shooting in the dark. Blind. You need to work like hell, need to take care of yourself. And then, maybe, possibly, you’ll be granted a mission.
(To APOTH.)
Take him down. We need to stage an intervention, ASAP.

(APOTH. moves towards FORLORN.)

FORLORN
Wait, wait, wait! Not so fast.

WESSON
No use trying to postpone it any more, Robert. You must face the music.

FORLORN
Music, that’s it! Band, come on! The band…

(Music. FORLORN starts singing to the melody of “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime” by the Korgis. Let’s hope his version reminds the listeners more of Beck’s cover of the song than the original. While he’s singing, FORLORN is gently lowered to the floor.)

(Sings)
    Change your part
    And gimme some meth
    Throw your dart
    Put me to death
    I need your shoving
    Like HIV
   
    And everybody’s got to learn sometime
    Everybody's got to earn sometime
    Everyone has an opinion
    Everyone is an opinion
    Each, an asshole

WESSON
Robert, let’s face it. You’re an addict.

(FORLORN untangles himself.)

FORLORN
Yeah, and?

WESSON
You’ve got to admit you’re powerless over sex and drugs.

FORLORN
Not rock ’n’ roll, though.

WESSON
Still, you’re a male nymphomaniac, you said so yourself. You’ve got to come to grips with reality.

FORLORN
I’ve always found that idea a terrible bore. Immensely boring, something that New York—no matter what Gary says, or Sid—is not. By a long shot.

APOTH.
Who’s Gary? And Sid?

WESSON
You have to admit that your life, as it is, has become unmanageable.

FORLORN
I kind of solved that back in ’89. When I died, remember?

WESSON
And yet, and yet… here you are. Why?

FORLORN
You asked me! That’s why.

WESSON
You think so?

FORLORN
You did. “Why am I here?”
(Pointing at APOTH.)
Why is he here? He has no BUSINESS being here…

WESSON
I asked him. That’s why.

APOTH.
Yeah! And nobody asked you, so why don’t you just fuck off?

FORLORN
She gave me a job, an assignment. I’ve got work to do, and not as a toy boy either.

I can go? Fine. I go, I will.


WESSON
Robert, you’re not Mapledork.

FORLORN
Who?

WESSON
Maplequick, Maplekirk, whatever, “who spent the last years of his life promoting homosexuality.” Stop playing...

APOTH.
You heard her!

WESSON
… games with me. “Now any senator who thinks I’m attacking aesthetic art, if they have any doubt, then…”

APOTH & WESSON
Look at the pictures!

WESSON
(To APOTH )
And you’re not, whoever it is you think you are.

APOTH.
I’m not?

WESSON
No.

APOTH.
Fuck you. Bitch.

WESSON
It’s the media that put the thought into your head.

APOTH.
Fucking you? No, God did. And it wasn’t my head he put it into, you know what I’m saying?

(APOTH. is grinning. He extends his hand, waiting for a five from FORLORN, who does not comply.)

I’m Tamerlan the Great! You hear?

(The sound of a helicopter approaching.)

WESSON
You’re not.

FORLORN
Who?

WESSON
Tsarnaev, the Boston marathon bomber who was killed by his own brother. Little Tsarnaev backed over him in a car, probably because big Tsarnaev was such a pain in the ass. But no, negative: you’re not that insufferable bitch. You’re somebody else.

(The helicopter is overhead. Suddenly, the building seems, to be coming apart. Actors step away from the sound. An empty oil drum falls through the roof, and crashes on the floor. The helicopter flies away.)

FORLORN
Smother…. What is this?

WESSON
You’re alive. Rejoice! That’s what it is. The great work begins. Inshallah, it begins.

(Lights fade.)

APOTH.
With our life, with our blood, we will fight for Assad!
(Pause.)
Or was it, we will fight Assad?

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