Play #20: After The Ice Man

The play takes place in a forlorn Chinese restaurant.  There are only four people in the restaurant--a young waiter who keeps himself busy by looking longingly out the front window, and three men, two of whom, Manny and Skinner, seem to be in their late 40s, and an older man, HorseBob, who is about 65.  Manny and Skinner sit nursing beers.  HorseBob is standing at their table.

Skinner (looking away abstractly and sighing heavily):  It’s been thirty years now.

HorseBob:  What has?

Skinner: Since I played hockey.

Manny (attempting to sound alert):  Thirty years?

Skinner:  No, MORE.  It’s been thirty-TWO years since I played hockey.

HorseBob:  Can you still skate?

Manny:  You never forget how to skate.

Skinner: That’s right.  Once you know how to skate, you never forget.

HorseBob:  Have you skated lately?

Skinner (getting vaguely angry): I told you, I haven’t skated for thirty-two years!

Horswebob:  Then how do you know?

Skinner (impatiently):  Know what?

HorseBob: That you can still skate.

Manny:  Hey listen, he said he hadn’t PLAYED HOCKEY for thirty-two years, he didn’t say he hadn’t SKATED for thirty-two years!

HorseBob: He DID say he hadn’t skated for thirty-two years.

Skinner (morosely): Yeh, I said that too.

Manny (apparently astounded):  No kidding!

HorseBob:  That’s what he just told us.  He just said that.

Manny (murmuring into his beer):  Long time.

HorseBob (to Skinner, brightly):  So you DON’T know.

Skinner:  Know what? 

HorseBob: That you can still skate.

Skinner (annoyed): I know, all right.

Manny:  Well, CAN you?

Slinner (disconsolately):  Yeh, probably.  Thirty-two years is a long time.

HorseBob:  It sure as hell is.


Play # 19: Stalled

The play is set on a length of railroad track somewhere in the wilderness—perhaps under a Christmas tree.  There are only two characters in the play: Paul, a boy of seven, and a grizzled trainman named Bernard.  They are sitting atop a double-ended, electric locomotive—which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. 

Bernard (gazing sadly down the railroad tracks):  So little choice.

Paul: Just forward or back.

Bernard: Left or right.

Paul:  And yet we’re not going anywhere at all.  Bernard, we’ve got to move.  It’s almost dark, and I’m getting tired and hungry.

Bernard (rummaging in his pocket): Here. Have a chaw of tobacco.

Paul (sulking):  No.

Bernard:  There’s only one way I can think of to get this old bucket moving again.

Paul (listlessly):  What’s that?

Bernard:  Well, which way do you want to go?

Paul (pointing down the tracks): East.

Bernard: Alright then.  You go and stand on the eastern end of the engine.

Paul (moving off): Okay.

Benard:  And I’ll go stand on the western end.

Paul (shouting back to him):  I’m here!  Now what do I do?

Benard:  You think all the good, positive thoughts you can.  Think about what you really like, and all the things you hope for.   

Paul (dubious): I’ll try.  And what are you going to do?

Bernard:  The opposite!  I’m going to think all the dark, bleak, despairing thoughts I can.  Now get thinking!!

(Paul closes his eyes tightly and tries hard to ponder all the lovely things he can muster.  Bernard doesn’t have to work quite as hard as Paul does)

Paul (suddenly feeling movement beneath his feet): Bernard!!  The engine’s starting to move!!

Bernard (grinning at him): Yes, I think we’re definitely eastward bound!

Paul (exuberant):  Oh don’t smile, Bernard!

Bernard (gleefully): Why not?

Paul (laughing):  You might stall us again!!


Play # 18: I Want! I Want!

The play is set on the curvature of the earth, where we see a very long spindly ladder, set on the ground and stretching up into deep space bright with stars where, finally, it rests against the cradling curve of the new moon.  The setting is, of course, taken from the 10th etching of William, Blake’s For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise (1793-1818).
We see a young man—naked in the frosty night—who seems on the point of climbing the ladder.  His parents—we assume they are his parents—stand to one side, looking on.  They are also naked (this is Blake, after all).

PARENTS:  Is there nothing we can say to dissuade you?

BOY:  No, nothing.  I’m off in pursuit of my heart’s desire.

PARENTS: You’re heart’s desire lies somewhere at the end of that spiderweb ladder?  Up on the rockinghorse moon?

BOY: We’ll see.

PARENTS:  When will you see?  The climb is fearfully long.

BOY: But at least the way is unobstructed.

PARENTS:  That’s because nobody else would be so foolish.   And besides, you’ll freeze.

BOY: No more than down here.

PARENTS:  What is it you want so desperately?

BOY:  Wanting-in-itself, I think.  Pure desire.

PARENTS: You have to climb all the way to the moon in order to want?

BOY:  Up in the thinning air, yes.  Up where there’s no air at all.  Up there, my desire will grow hard as a star.  Clean as light.

PARENTS: Will we ever see you again?

BOY:  No.