Play 20


it becomes clearer and then less clear



Scene 1

Name: FRESHNESS

Rope: Freshness?

Name: Rigorous freshness. I sensed it, from the beginning. I wasn't wrecked like you or your friends, I was clean and I was solid and I moved with decision and precision. I'm stronger than you, okay, stronger and better and smarter and everything, okay. And i've figured out the position I can deal with, and it's all about freshness. I saw your eyes flicker when I mentioned last week, I saw your cheek twitching when I mentioned last month, I saw it. I saw it all. I saw it all. You are done. Done.

Rope: I feel, rather...

Name: Insulted? I'm sure. Because i'm saying harsh things. And I want to see you upset. I'm looking to insult. I want it to be clear, very very clear... done.

Rope: how long have you been practicing that speech you just gave?

Name: what? Fuck. Off.

Rope: My friend, I fear that you-

Name: You fear? YOU FEAR? Fuck you. Fuck you and fuck whatever your fear is


Scene 2

Rope: Have you ever been about to do something completely normal? Like you're heading to work or something, like something you've done for months on end, but you start to notice that your body is telling you you're nervous? Like your hands are clammy and your stomach feels unsettled, not unsettled like you ate bad chicken salad sandwiches or something and not unsettled like you just saw that girl you've been sending unanswered text messages to at the bar and not unsettled like you did something wrong, like you're about to get caught... but unsettled like nervous. Like extremely fucking nervous. Like you're about to go on stage and you can't remember your first line nervous. Or you're about to tell your parents you put their car in the ditch nervous. And you become a little too conscious of your breathing, like why is my chest moving up and down so much, does it always move up and down this much? Is this how to breathe? I don't remember how to breathe, I don't remember what I was going to say. You can't remember not thinking about all your involuntary functions, you're just like how am I even pumping blood still, am I pumping blood? Check your pulse, frantically feeling around your wrist, then your neck and you can't find it, you have no pulse, how does your heart know what to do? And blinking and sneezing and breathing, mostly the breathing. And your palms are sweaty. Really sweaty. And all of a sudden, you very consciously take a deep breath in and the air and the sweat and the worry swirls around in your head and you say, maybe even out loud, probably accidentally out loud if it's out loud, what's wrong with me? What's happening... why am I... nervous? Nothing is wrong, nothing is new or scary or wrong. So you hold up your right hand to see if it's still shaking, it is. And you kinda just feel like this til you don't? Know what I mean?

Scene 3

Name: So you know how I went to a liberal arts college?

Rope: Mmhhmm

Name: well, at a liberal arts college, you have to get a full rounded, branded β€œliberal arts” education while you're there. Which basically means you gotta take classes in all areas, right? So even if you're studying something like art, you gotta take math classes... or if you're like a physics major, you still have to take like intro to acting or something, right? Well we had a set up where the month of January was like a separate term, and you could just take one class all month or like get an internship or work or something, and there were all these trips that would get you different credits, but you also got to go somewhere as like an extended field trip type thing. So my last year of college, I, for one of my science credits for graduation, I took a trip that counted for biology and neuroscience and I went to Costa Rica to hike around the rain forest. So every day there was like, something we had to focus on as we hiked around... like bug day, and fungi day and whatever... so it was bird day, right? And so me and some other kids were out hiking, looking for a place to settle and do some bird watching, and as we settled in to this spot, I spotted something. Now there are three types of monkeys in Costa Rica, howler monkeys, spider monkeys and capuchins. Everyone on our trip had seen lots of howlers and quite a few spiders, but noone had seen any capuchins. In the field house, there was actually a map of where capuchins had been spotted, so like it was kinda rare. So I looked up in the trees and I spot this capuchin, right? And I get the rest of the group's attention, and we kinda start whispering to each other that capuchins are rarely by themselves (something we had learned, you see) and so we kinda started looking for the partner or two. Suddenly we spot them, there are three capuchins. And we're standing in the middle of the path, and they like see us, do some monkey business, and then cross the path and head off. Now two people in my group kinda follow them a bit down the trail and for whatever reason, they decide to come back across the path, over our heads again. So by this time, it becomes pretty clear that they know we're there and are reacting to it, ya know. So I watch this one specific capuchin, who is larger than the others and appears to be more commanding, like some sort of leader and I see him head out to this branch, I have this very clear view of this monkey out on this branch, okay, and... I will never forget the way he looked and this sound he let out. He was perched there and he just let out the most barbaric, guttural screech I've ever heard. So we started wondering if he was pissed or what, like why he made that call. Not even five minutes later, we just start hearing more rustling and a bunch of stuff going on in the trees above us. And then we just start noticing capuchin after capuchin after capuchin. Like double digit capuchins, probably fifteen I would say. They just start coming from everywhere, they're on all sides. And like we were taught you're not supposed to smile at them because that's like baring your teeth and is a sign of aggression, except I could not help it because it was so amazing, like you look up in the sky and there's one here and here and there and there. But I mean, it was kinda scary once we started thinking about it, it's like shit, what's going to happen, like these monkeys seem pretty pissed... and like, as we just stood there doing nothing, making no sudden movements or anything, I guess the situation just kinda diffused, and they just left us alone and went about their business again... but like, it made me realize for the first time how much the world wasn't only ours, that we were in someone else's territory and that this place belongs to a lot of creatures, all doing their version of living and their version of existence, ya know?

Rope: woah, dude. That's a true story?

Name: well... it's my ex-girlfriend's story but..

Rope: huh

Scene 4

Name: hey dude

Rope: what's up

Name: I don't feel good

Rope: um, sorry?

Name: that's it?

Rope: uh, yup. Whattya want? Me to rub your tummy or cut a baby aspirin in half?

Name: Well, I kinda just wanted an apology?

Rope: an apology?

Name: I mean, well, yeah, it's kinda your fault

Rope: Oh really? Do tell, amigo

Name: You don't know?

Rope: no

Name: If you don't know, I don't want to tell you

Rope: Don't be a bitch, okay, whatever

Name: You really are an asshole

Rope: And you're a bitch.

Name: Sure

Scene 5

Rope: What'd she say

Name: um, nothing, really

Rope: I'm sorry, man

Name: why?

Rope: I dunno, cuz I knew it was important to you

Name: well, just stop, okay

Rope: Sure

Scene 6

Rope: It's a lot for a person to take... loss, ya know? It takes a lot of reflection, let's say. And if you can't properly reflect, well, things are difficult. I know that I would have a difficult time dealing, like really dealing, if I wasn't able to sit and mull and realize for hours on end, just coiled in a state of perpetual stasis, not having to make decisions... not able to make decisions, so fortunate enough to not have to make any. But there are dates and times and reminders and yearbooks and scrapbooks and alarm clocks, lots of alarm clocks that, well, don't make things easy. It's hard to watch this happen. It's hard to rest and to collect and to divide compassion. It's a lot easier to say things are hard out loud, ya know? A lot easier to just state it, to type it up or to scribble it down on the grocery list. That's a lot easier than the swirl, the clouds forming, the storm brewing, the swirl. Then again it's a lot easier to establish what's easy and what's hard than it is to sit in your own fucking head and make decisions and find answers. But that's reflection. Reflection vs. expression, sorta. Oh fuck it, it's all hard.

Scene 7

Name: it's weird when all of a sudden you can exactly, in full fucking detail, explain your fear. Your number one, like haunts you even when you can finally convince yourself to fall asleep, fear. Cuz you spend so much of your time seeking the fun, seeking the positive, those hilarious little anecdotes that teach you lessons and entertain your friends. That is what makes a life, don't you know! Those stories that you hold on to that once you've established yourself with a lovely wife and lovely children, you remember. And then as your children go to college, you tell them about the days you used to pass out drunk and smoke bowls before you went to strip clubs. All those silly, silly days. Those are the things that establish understanding and a perspective. Right? Right? The small details become your personal collection, and whatever kind of collection you have, shows what kind of person you are. The descriptions become content. And the fears, well, they're just background noise. That's the goal at least, right? Right?

Scene 8

Rope: have you seen the mail?

Name: nope

Rope: have you turned the tv on?

Name: Nope

Rope: have you showered today?

Name: Nope

Rope: have you eaten today?

Name: Nope

Rope: have you laughed today?

Name: Nope

Rope: have you cried today?

Name: Nope

Rope: have you been breathing today?

Name: Nope

Rope: can you hear me

Name: (just stares at him)

Scene 9

Name: HEY! Hey, it's time to go

Rope: just a second

Name: No come on we gotta go nowwwww

Rope: just go without me

Name: you know that's not an option, dude

Rope: Ugh, well just give me a bit

Name: no, fuck, come onn

Rope: just go then!

Name: you know I can't

Rope: just fucking go

Name: YOU KNOW I FUCKING CAN'T

Scene 10

Name: Okay, I've gotten in this habit of telling other people's stories from my perspective, right? So, I'll be completely open right off... this is my father's story. It's a good story, though, so I'll tell it as his. My dad had one younger brother who was very close in age to him, and because of this, as well as an active disposition in this manner, my father became very, very competitive. So one day when they were in like middle school maybe, they were playing a round of one-on-one basketball...now my uncle was better at basketball than my dad, and after angering my father upon beating him in basketball, had learned it was better to get a running head start and get away before my dad could like, beat him up for winning. Because of this, he practiced and had just about perfected a certain shot that he would take and then just start running as my father watched the ball sink and the game finalize. Then he would try to catch my uncle, who was long up the road. So one day, this very jump shot occurs and off goes my uncle.. my dad in a streak of anger picked up a huge rock, like as big as his palm would hold and just whips it in the general direction of my sprinting uncle. Now to this day, my dad swears that had he just kept running, nothing would have happened (passing the blame, of course) but just as the rock had reached it's highest point, my uncle slowed down, and slowly turned around to check the progress of my dad. Upon turning, well, the rock hit him right in the face. So my uncle falls, his face is bleeding, but upon reaching him, my dad finds out he's okay other than the bleeding facial wound, and so his next sentence is... β€œany way we can not tell mom and dad about this?”

Scene 11

Rope: hahahahahahahhahaha

Name: ohh, what is it?! What are you laughing at?

Rope: hahahahhahahahahahahaaaaaa

Name: oh man! What is it?!?!?

Rope: whooo whoooo, oh man hahahaha

Name: HEY! What are you laughing at? Hahah

Rope: oh you missed it?

Name: missed what!?!

Rope: oh... I guess you missed it

Scene 12

Name: That's it

Rope: What's it?

Name: I just... can't. I can't.

Rope: Can't what?

Name: you know.

Rope: know what?

Name: Come on, just come off it, I can't. That's it.

Rope: Are you sure?

Name: ya know, constantly I am sure. Just, sure. Thanks, by the way, thanks, thanks for fucking convincing me that I should be sure. God damnit, ya know, I pretty much just think about her, and when I stop thinking about her, and stop myself from talking at her, I look at you. And I talk... to you. And what I really want is, I want to talk to my grandma, or my best friend from fifth grade, or... or her, I guess. But I talk at her, and I talk at you... and I, I, I just... I think it's probably time, probably best...

Rope: You've been fighting pretty hard... I think-

Name: You don't get to think, mother fucker. Okay?

Rope:... Okay

Scene 13

Name lays on the floor, the pill bottle can be seen

Rope sits on the floor, at a distance, knees bent, hands on head, breathing