New Caveton: Part 1

The draft of a screenplay I’m working on. It’s about anarchists and other fringe members of society. Would love to hear what you think so far!

INT. MESSY BEDROOM, MADE BED- NOT EVEN DAWN YET

BIRD’S EYE

Alarm clock shrieking, kids yelling, babies crying, objects crashing outside the room. WATCH’s small eyes jolt open. Though the room around him is swarms with AARP magazines, infomercial exercise gear and computer tablets, the bedding below WATCH remains made. His wife, to his side, large yet barely noticeable, sleeps under her half of the covers, turns over and tucks in. WATCH rubs his flat nose, his smooth chin, his spiraling hair. Everything in his body emits the absolute dread for the day to come, bracing for what he’s about to do.

QUICK MONTAGE OF WATCH’S MORNING ROUTINE

1. He showers, too tall for the shower head.

2. He cleans up the various feminine bathroom products clotting the bathroom sink and cabinet.

3. He makes the bed. Wife has left it.

4. he dresses one of the babies, a boy.

5. he dresses one of the babies, a girl

6. he clears a path through the toy-stricken living room.

7. he makes three beds in one of the rooms

8. his hand cracks an egg on the kitchen counter

INT. Yellow Kitchen- DAWN

All the stovetops on the oven burn as WATCH flips eggs on four pans, each one a different style. To his side, bacon fries on a separate cooker. The news plays on a propped up tablet next to him.

ANCHOR

Protestors in New Caveton have surrounded the area’s police station and courthouse, while the world watches to see whether Officer Aaron Baak will be indicted for the death of Afra Abd Al-Rashid. Baak claims Abd Al-Rashid reached for his gun, but critics of this story ask why he responded with twelve shots into the Muslim woman and her cat. Most of the witnesses, comprised of minorities, have been jailed for unknown crimes. The protests remain peaceful, though no one can say for certain how long.

The news cuts to a protestor interview

PROTESTOR

As long as that police station thumbs its big nose at us, we’re reminded that this is a free country only for the rich and white. My friends, my brothers, will continue to protest with civil disobedience. But as long as these atrocities continue to emerge from there? It’ll only be a matter of time before uncivil disobedience comes to town.

The eggs are done. WATCH divides them into four plates, then carries the plates over to the table where the other five members of the family scream, chat, and shout. He sets down plates one by one.

His eldest son, when his breakfast is set down, pushes it off the table and laughs. While the boy’s mother begins an ineffectual scolding, WATCH bends down the clean the gooey mess off of the floor.

INT. MESSY BEDROOM, MADE BED- After breakfast

WATCH walks into the room with deliberate steps. He carries an envelope, which he places on his pillow. It’s thick with money. Attached is a note written with a chaotic, yet legible scrawl: “For the best.” WATCH walks out.

INT. YELLOW KITCHEN- DAWN (LATER)

WATCH, briefcase in hand and tie grasping him, stands to leave the mess of running kids, greasy plates, and strewn chairs. His wife kisses him on the cheek.

WIFE

Don’t die.

It’s a cute, inconsequential joke, and WATCH treats it as such. He opens the door and exits the house.

quick montage of watch looking at camera.

1. WATCH at a train station. his face is pale.

2. watch on a crowded train. his features are still.

3. Watch at a dirty bus stop. his breathing can’t be seen.

4. watch on a metallic bus. his skin is cold.

5. watch in a talkative and crowded elevator. his eyes are glazed over.

INT. CUBICLE FARM- OBNoXIOUSLY LIT

They haven’t answered WATCH yet. He holds up the phone tight to his ear, refusing to lean back and wrinkle his perfect collared shirt and tie. He turned 60 a month ago.

He looks around and smiles, because he’s the only one in the office who’s not surfing Reddit or snoozing off or contemplating hanging himself on a doorknob. He is a responsible man, and proves it with each deliberate motion.

But the phone rings. And rings. And rings. And rings. And rings. And his desk is neat: he has no work to catch up on.

So he grabs a pen and throws it at the ceiling. The pen sticks for a while, then falls into WATCH’s hand.

INT. CUBICLE FARM- FROM THE FLOOR

We see a woman’s sensible business shoes traverse across a spotless floor. From here, the whiteness of the cubicles is nearly overwhelming.

INT. CUBICLE FARM- WATCH’S SPACE

WATCH has made an ‘A’ with a crescent on its side out of the holes his pen dart imprinted on the ceiling. The pen falls again into WATCH’s hand, the same hand checking a pocket watch. He throws the pen back up.

OFFICE LADY, the same woman with the sensible shoes, arrives and stands right underneath the stuck pen. She’s higher up on the corporate ladder than him, but in a different field of work, not that she cares.

OFFICE LADY

We need to talk.

WATCH

It’s my final call before lunch.

OFFICE LADY steps forward and presses the receiver button on the landline phone’s base. As she steps back into place, the pen in the ceiling wobbles a bit.

OFFICE LADY

I’m concerned for you. And because I’m concerned for you, I reported your behavior to Mr. Fring. I would like an apology.

WATCH

What shall I apologize for?

OFFICE LADY

When you’re a part of the Public Relations team, there are certain sensibilities, which means attitudes, one must convey at all times. You should have them in your notes. They are: constant cheer, unwavering loyalty to the company’s message, and the focus on our product. We are a team, and that means deferring to the decisions of others, no matter what you may think is a better route to take. When that woman sent her suicide bombing threat on our Facebook page, Tom replied with the same proactive spirit (that means can-do spirit) and company-focus that represents who we are as an enterprise. When you interrupted his dialogue with the woman to give the number for a suicide hotline, it sends the wrong message. We are a feel-good company, and we focus on the product so we can then help our customers through the product. This is what Tom established with his exchange with the woman, and you interrupting to send an off-message missive, which means-

WATCH

It wasn’t about the woman.

OFFICE LADY

I beg your pardon?

WATCH

The longer that message train got, the worse it made us look.

OFFICE LADY

The point is that this isn’t an aspect of the situation that you were allowed to take into your own hands. Tom has complained to me several times about how this makes him look to both the woman and the company. And I found out that that number does not lead to a suicide hotline.

WATCH

It’s my number.

OFFICE LADY

And putting your own number-

WATCH

I can’t trust just anyone to help her. She came to us first.

OFFICE LADY

Mr. Guillory, you cannot put out information that separates you from our Facebook page. Doing such a decision shows a manner of irresponsibility that ill fits the company, especially when it’s not even the correct number.

WATCH

I know about feeling helpless.

OFFICE LADY

Mr. Fring has suspended your administrator privileges on the Facebook page. You need to apologize to Tom for superseding his authority, apologize to Mr. Fring for violating company policy, and apologize to me for bringing me in to sort an issue that you must know better about.

WATCH

Yes.

OFFICE LADY

Yes what?

WATCH

I will apologize.

SILENCE. OFFICE LADY looks expectant at WATCH. The pen in the ceiling begins to slide.

WATCH

The sooner I apologize to the others, the sooner I’ll apologize to you. If you’ll excuse me.

OFFICE LADY

Good day, Mr. Guillory.

OFFICE LADY walks further down the hall, then turns a corner. WATCH stands up, and exits the cubicle. The pen falls on his neatly shaped hair, but he ignores it.

Close up of watch:

WATCH walks down the hallway, his face as blank as before. OFFICE LADY steps out of the room. This is when the bomb goes off. With the BANG, we see the flash and the flying debris from the same enclosed room OFFICE LADY just walked out of. She falls, then scurries away. The screams begin. With smoke comes fire alarm and the shower from the sprinklers.

WATCH keeps walking. His expression does not change.

He enters the nearby elevator.

INT. ELEVATOR- STERILE

The elevator doors close on WATCH. The moment he’s alone, he loses composure, holding his ears and pain and crying out.

WATCH

Son of a bitch that hurts!

INT. OFFICE BUILDING LOBBY- NOON

“Comfort Eagle,” by CAKE, plays as the elevator doors open and WATCH walks into the lobby with big sunglasses on. He runs a hand through his hair to mess it up.

EXT. BIG CITY- NOON

A hand pulls out a car key and presses the button. The lights flicker on a white van labeled FRING ELECTRONICS REPAIR in faded bright colors. WATCH clutches the keys tighter and walks towards it.

He sees a piece of gum on the sidewalk. With the smoke of the building behind him leaking into the big white sky, he picks up the gum and walks down the block to put it in a trash can.

EXT. GRAFFITI-COVERED ALLEYWAY- NOON

TIE’s name comes from the impossibly black tie around her teenage neck and in front of her loose t-shirt. She’s talking with a police officer and gesturing to the big red anarchist ‘A’ recently sprayed onto the wall next to them. TIE looks concerned. The cop takes diligent notes, absorbing every word she says.

Suddenly, there’s a HONK. The cop turns to see the FRING ELECTRONICS REPAIR van in the alley.

When he turns back, TIE sprays him with a can of paint. She runs to the van. As the cop screams and clutches his face, we see the paint’s the same shade of red that makes up the big ‘A’.

The cop finally takes his hands off his face, and looks up to see the van. The van begins chasing him down the alley.

EXT. Synagogue- noon

CANE is so named because he walks around with a wooden cane with a  vulture head, and only seems partially aware how to support himself with it. He looks way too young for it. He speaks into a bullhorn, holding up a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Behind him is a table covered in copies.

A Jewish man grabs his table by the side and flips it over, sending books everywhere.

CANE turns to face him, and we see the swastikas tattooed on both of CANE’S backhands.

Just then, we hear a HONK. The van arrives. CANE gives a wave goodbye to the Jewish man, a wave that looks suspiciously like a Nazi salute, then runs toward the van.

A hobo walks by and picks up a book, then gets immediately swatted at by the Jewish man.

EXT. CIty SIDEWALK- Noon

They call her NECKLACE because of the long necklace of animal figurines that goes the length of her teenage torso. She watches two women argue by the crosswalk. One of the women has a dog on a leash that keeps pulling away from her.

NECKLACE pulls out a dog treat from her pocket and gives it to the hungry dog.

She sets another treat a few meters away, then pulls out scissors and cuts the leash.

The dog runs to the treat. By the time the dog owner notices, NECKLACE has picked up the dog and is running to the open door of WATCH’S van.

EXT. MOUTH OF ALLEYWAY- Noon

BEARD, at the age of 16, has already grown an impressive and long black beard. He prostrates on a mat, praying to Mecca.

A heavyset man with a gold cross necklace looks over BEARD, then takes one of the many bags by BEARD’S side and makes a run for it.

BEARD looks up, smiles, then pulls out a remote.

The heavyset man turns the corner.

BEARD presses the remote.

We hear an explosion. The heavyset man runs back, screaming and on fire. He’s no longer carrying the bag.

BEARD waves to him, grabs the other bags around the mat, and tosses them into the open door of the van that just pulled up.

EXT. DIFFERENT CITY SIDEWALK- NOON

MANIFESTO carries a huge stack of papers wherever he goes. He is tall, and big-boned, and glossy-eyed.

A girl on the street offers him a leaflet about opposing capital punishment. MANIFESTO punches her.

He sees another man, who just took a leaflet form the girl. As he approaches, the man runs, leaving the leaflet behind.

MANIFESTO takes the leaflet and puts it on the same stack of leaflets by the crying girl covering her nosebleed. He mouths “You’re welcome.”

The van has pulled up. MANIFESTO lets the wind blow back his hair, then slowly walks inside. The door closes, the van pulls away.

Ext. double lane highway- day (LATER)

The van travels down the sparsely-populated highway. There’s green on all sides of them. We hear the inhabitants of the van laugh.

“Comfort Eagle” fades out.

A Shimmer

A little thing I wrote for an assignment a while back. Lets you know about me. And yes, you can read the novel is you ask nicely.

Click-whirrrrr, Click-whirrrrr, Click-whirrrrr, CLUNK. Page 122 out of 150 for ‘Cicada-Man,’ a novel draft by Nick Edinger, is printed, and I cannot rest. When writing this long project, I saw a peaceful moment at its completion, without the itching heat of this square study, without this black rock of a reclining chair, without any of my eyes open. But there’s no calm like in my dreams here; the study says otherwise.

The paper smells sharp, smells no different with red ink on it than black. It’s red because I was too fast at the store to look at the label. Even my laptop is accelerating into whirs, heating and cooling and pumping a year’s sloppy work into the world. Dreams forget to think about senses: the globs of peanut butter refugees settling behind your teeth, the mountain ripples behind your t-shirt, the cell-tickling heat of light from a rusted white window. And it certainly forgets that the whole ‘basking in your achievement’ reward gets old after the first 30 pages.

Even before this moment, I expected in my vain fantasies to speak the usual cliché to admirers. “Yes, dear fans, those days of scrambling for a silent room, of scratching out entire crumpled papers, the sinking weight and shaking glee of writing down something incredibly stupid… that journey really was more important than the destination!” I’m not even at my destination yet, and this pit-stop to a published piece is akin to an unwashed bathroom with flaking walls and some trucker pounding at the door. I should not sit still, the room tells me. It’s this language of the world, in clicks and whirs, keeping me awake, the same tongue that pushes hand to pen to paper. With the last page finished, I remove novel from printer and bundle it in my sweating hands before walking from the muggy white room. This study has an oppressive speech, and it says that sometimes even the worst clichés are right.

Cover Story

So this happened:

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This comic cover, planned as a variant for Batgirl #41, tossed a firecracker into Twitter’s salad of tweets, prompting accusations of supporting rape culture, robbing a powerful female character of agency, and misapplication of lipstick on the Joker’s part. Enter #changethecover.  Amid the outrage, artist Rafael Albuquerque decided to shelve the image, prompting a backlash dedicated to showing the world a picture that few would’ve seen on a shelf in normal circumstances.

But that’s not the backlash I want to discuss. My opinion on the image doesn’t count for much because I’m not reading Batgirl (or any ongoing comics, since I focus on trades) and the real debate is whether this image is right for the series, not whether it’s a good image. And it is a good image: when’s the last time you were legitimately creeped out by this- gasp– intentionally creepy character? My guess is 2008. Albuquerque wanted to strike a nerve, and he sledgehammered it. But just because I find the most famous scene in Deliverance gut-churning and emotionally devastating, doesn’t mean I want to see it in an Indiana Jones movie. Context matters, and I simply don’t have enough on Batgirl to comment further.

What I do have context on is The Killing Joke, the 1988 Alan Moore comic that the image du jour alludes to. And the backlash that intrigues me regards this influential story. Some say it’s overrated and it uses Batgirl as a plot device and that even Alan Moore says it’s about as hot as refrigerated pork, and so on. I read The Killing Joke long after it turned heads, but also after the world agreed that Moore’s genius was eclipsed only by his sheer bug-eyed lunacy. Is the story any good? And how about that Batgirl, alias Barbara Gordon?

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Let’s start by defining plot device: anything whose primary purpose is to drive the pot forward. I’m going by Wikipedia and TV Tropes definition here. You’ve seen this with magical objects (The One Ring, The Ark of the Covenant) or with people sometimes (the two arrestees in My Cousin Vinny). When people refer to a plot device, it usually means that said element functions primarily for the plot instead of character or theme. MacGuffins remain perfect examples of this. It doesn’t matter that the Philosopher’s Stone turns objects into gold or grants immortal life, what matters is that Voldemort wants it and we can’t have that, now can we. Doesn’t even matter so much if Voldemort wants to rule the Wizarding World or make a killing at Cash4Gold with it, because he’s not the center of the story. Harry is.

In light of this definition, I can’t honestly say Barbara Gordon acts as more than a plot device here. Oh, she has character- she’s concerned for and fussy over her father’s well being- but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum, paralyses Barbara, takes pictures of her naked, and uses all this to try and drive her father Jim Gordon insane. The most traumatic event in her life, and the meat of the story derives from how it affects her father (to be fair, there is a scene in the hospital that addresses her feelings about this insanity). Jim’s character matters because Batman and Joker battle for his sanity. Batman’s character, that big blank slate in black, matters because he needs to decide how to handle the Joker. And the Joker’s the blood-red star in all this. But Barbara? Replace her with the Maltese Falcon, and all that we need to change is how big of an old movie buff Lieutenant Gordon is. The personality of the only woman of note in the story doesn’t affect the plot by one drop of ink. I see where that ties knots in people’s hair.

But it’s not enough to ruin the comic for me. One, because I saw the future: wheelchaired Barbara becomes Oracle, a kickass character that diversifies the DC hero roster and becomes even smarter than Batsy himself. That’s not apparent in this story, because it’s not a story about Barbara. This is a story about the Joker: his possible past, his mindful and twisted present, his uncertain or perhaps-too-certain future. And, on the whole, his story’s a good one. The Clown Prince of Crime muses on the nature of man and normality in ways we’ve come to expect, but only in a Joker-saturated world. A saying I’m fond of; “I don’t see what the big deal is about Hamlet, it’s just one famous quotation after another,”; applies here. Not only did this story raise the emotional and philosophical stakes in the eternal comic conflict of the Batman universe, it delivered stunning imagery and a conclusion that’s not afraid to let the reader think to boot. Batgirls’ not treated well both in and out of the plot, but she’s not the focus. One of my first full-length “novels” tried to rend fully fleshed out characters and arcs from even the most minor background players, and it ended up a bloated and thick mess. I can forgive dropping a side story if the main story stays strong.

And that, in the end, is why it’s a good idea to drop the variant cover. The Joker already had his time in the cover and focus of every other Batman story for the past 75 years. It’s a problem with many narratives, comic book ones especially- they’re villain-driven. Villain acts, hero react. Batgirl’s covers should reflect Batgirl, not a 27-year-old story that’s not even really about Batgirl. I’d love to see that cover on a reprint of The Killing Joke, because that story should be reprinted every now and then. But keep the Joker-mania in his own stories so we can talk about the actual heroes now and again.

The Death of The Author and An Author

I planned to write an obituary on Terry Pratchett here, but if you clicked on this blog post because I mentioned Pratchett on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll find piles of better recollections of the man elsewhere on the Intertubes. I read The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic a couple of years ago and never found a copy of Equal Rites in any library I visited (and yes, one can read the Discworld books in any order, but I’m the kind of reader that doesn’t start in the middle of something, be it books, movies, or wars). I jumped into the funny and intriguing world those novels presented, and encourage you to do the same. But that’s not who Terry Pratchett is to me, like how I envision who Edgar Allen Poe is to me based on his history as opposed to the three or four stories of his I’ve read (note to self: read more. Also, come up with new words for ‘read’ so the word won’t turn mushy in the, err, booklover’s head). I see Terry Pratchett as a fighter of a writer. But that may be because that’s how writers see others like them as opposed to what’s actually true.

Pratchett appeared in the news many years before his death. Not for his writing, as he’s too prolific/reliable/not-groundbreaking-enough to warrant new articles about Discworld. Before his death, the news centered on his dedication to keep writing despite a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2007. And yes, he didn’t want to be a poster boy for dementia, but the world loved him enough to want to put him on a poster and post them on every street corner and on every cat. He doesn’t regret making his illness public, though he says he’d rather talk about his books. To a degree, I agree with him: he chose to be a writer, not a motivational speaker or a politician. I’m a big supporter of Death of the Author, the literary practice of valuing the reader’s interpretation as much as the author’s and disregarding intent. Keep in mind that the idea first appeared in an essay in the 60s, before mass media became massive media. Authors, especially ones like John Green, realize how far personality can carry you, and use social media to promote themselves as well as their books. And when the author is so present and accessible and become someone you know (a word of advice- you only think you know them), distancing the author from the work becomes like distancing a flashlight from a dark room. The flashlight lights up only a portion, but how illuminated that portion seems.

I think this is one of the reasons the Cosby rape allegations took off in 2014 instead of 2005, among other factors. Through social media, Cosby continued to converse with thousands instead of easing out of public life like other has-beens. So the news about Pratchett and Alzheimer’s carries more weight in a twittering world, precisely because his readers love him and imagine a deeper connection with him than they could years ago. Do his recent books change in tone or message due to his condition? I can’t say. But the words “Terry Pratchett” mean more than just a writer of books in 2015. They convey an identity that many of us pigeonhole others in: the suffering artist. Pratchett is more than that- I assume so, since, like most of his readers, I don’t really know him- but even when he could talk directly with us, he couldn’t control our thoughts. And isn’t that the artist’s goal, to induce laughter when he means to, to put her hand on our thoughts and move them like a child with a toy train? That’s the hidden agenda of any creative mind you’ll meet. Bad artists are judged by when you laugh at their painted melodrama or groan for their clown nose, unless that’s what they intended. But, as we established, intent really should matter if it’s not on the page.

I placed one of my favorite anecdotes below:

“June 7th, 1942: Edward Hopper completes his best known painting, the seminal Nighthawks. When asked by a Chicago Tribute reporter about the philosophical meaning behind the diner having no clearly visible exits Hopper responded, “Shit. Fuck. I did it again. Goddamnit. Fuck. Not again. I did it again. Shit.” and slammed his hat on his leg.”

This summarizes in some concise swears why I believe in Death of the Author. There’s a preconception in popular culture that most art, or more to the point “true” art, reflects conscious choices by the author on every detail. At least, that’s what English teachers want you to believe (I feel like a conspiracy nut now- “He murdered His Last Duchess! Wake up, sheeple!”) A hole in a portrait reflects the emptiness and meta-awareness in the subject’s eye and the fact that the painter tripped while carrying a kebab. The dumb blonde is now a man because the studio executive didn’t like the cliché dumb blonde jokes. Sinclair focused on the horrors of the food industry since his publishers didn’t want him to be so anti-corporation. Factors influence the author beyond her or his own mind. In fact, I’d go as far to say that if an author ever took a suggestion for improvement from his peers and edits her work to meet those demands, than it’s no longer solely her work or his voice. Oh, he did all the sweating, and we’ll still put her name on the cover. But it’s not exactly a slice of her brain you buy when you pick it up. And even if it were a slice a brain you scanned when you read the author’s words, which part of the brain is it? I promised my grandparents that I’ll write a pro-life story for them, and believe me, it’ll be quite different from the screenplay I writing now about violent, sexually libertine anarchists that go to a Ferguson-like event to, to put it succinctly, fuck shit up. Is one of these stories a lie? Which one represents the real me? I’ll give you a hint: you won’t be able to tell just by what I write, because I’m a different person then, just like I’m a different person playing Apples to Apples with my family versus playing Cards Against Humanity with my friends. The intent’s still to win the game, but what I do in each instance reflects different parts of me. I plan to reveal nearly every dark secret of mine in the coming years, and even then I’ll guarantee you’ll only know a fraction of my personality based only on this blog. This is the case even if I tell you that these are my darkest secrets laid bare.

Most challengers to Death of the Author circle around one Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead. He, too, wrote some fantastic works (seriously, if you’re a gifted teenager, Ender’s Game will become your new favorite book, and Speaker for the Dead is arguably even better), but he’s much less loved than Pratchett due to his outspoken homophobic beliefs. He also donates to homophobic organizations, which is why some people feel uncomfortable giving him money to do so via book sales. Lindsay Ellis, somewhere on the Webosphere, mentioned exactly why this tears his readers up; his two greatest works displayed such tremendous empathy (a skill every author should have) that his un-empathetic positions make him seem a cannibalistic social worker. But that’s exactly why you should read his books- or, rather, his good ones, and don’t bother with Xenocide on that note- if you think he’s talented. Yes, it is possible for the man to build great tension and performs great twists, and what does that have to do with his fear of Neil Patrick Harris? If he wrote a book about his hatred for sailors and male fashion designers, then it’s ok to throw copies at rats so they chew on something else. But people are complex: it’s possible to celebrate the Card that speaks to youth and compels readers while condemning the Card that speaks to rallies about burning and cauterizing the gayness out of society. And if you’re still bothered about where the money goes, borrow his books from the library or a friend instead.

Point is, Pratchett should be remembered as more than an Alzheimer’s victims in his death. He played many roles: a writer, a family man, a campaigner for assisted suicide. But just because you read all his books or he retweets that one retweet of yours, don’t think you understand why exactly he does the things he does. I’ll redouble my search for Equal Rites not to see what it’s like to be Pratchett, but to see what it’s like to be Rincewind or Granny Weatherwax or Death. The author may be dead, but the immortal legacy’s the only important part anyways.

The Son, The Son, and The Son: Scene 4 (Finale)

SCENE 4

Street Lights down, Apartment Lights up. “Three Pretenders, by Kansas, plays. CONWAY and ORSON stack the chairs, the desk, and the bed against the door as PEARL directs them with elaborate and graceful body motions. Once ORSON and CONWAY finish their job, PEARL silently congratulates each one. He gives CONWAY a cigarette, himself a cigarette, and ORSON twenty cigarettes. PEARL then takes a book from the floor to read and discuss it with the other two Jesuses. SABINA, KIM, and OLD WOMAN approach the door. SABINA unlocks it, pushes it to no avail. KIM helps to push. After a while, only KIM is still pushing. SABINA keeps OLD WOMAN from talking. The music ends when SABINA knocks on the door.

SABINA

Hello? I’d like to enter my apartment, please.

PEARL

You cannot instigate my friends anymore, unholy midget.

ORSON

Yeah! We make the rules!

PEARL

Our transcending intellects will not be chained to this earth by your corrupting feminine influence.

SABINA

Conway, it would help me a lot if you opened the door.

PEARL

This is not her first attempt to deceive you.

CONWAY

I’m sorry, mam. Real sorry. But Pearl’s right, you keep asking too many questions. He got us some food and cigarettes, and found this comic book we all like. You never let us find out what we have in common. Sure we have that one disagreement, but we get along fine if no one brings it up. If it’s any consolation, I don’t think you’re a midget.

OLD WOMAN

Adonijah? Adonijah, it’s momma. It’s momma. I come for you.

CONWAY

I think she means you, Pearl.

PEARL

How can I respond when I hear nothing?

CONWAY

She sounds-

ORSON

If he don’t hear it, then he don’t hear it.

CONWAY

All right. I guess I didn’t hear it either.

SABINA

Kim, I wouldn’t do that.

KIM

Call the police?

SABINA

Yeah, I kind of told them Conway was here as a joke, so I’ve been kinda-sorta-obstructing-of-the-justices.

KIM

So? These people need to go. What happened to no longer hiding?

SABINA

I know. It- Look, Pearl won’t face his mother so soon. Calm her down elsewhere. If I don’t join you in ten minutes, go ahead and call them.

KIM

This isn’t time-

SABINA

This is my choice. I clean my messes.

KIM

I hope you can. (To OLD WOMAN) C’mon, we can’t help here.

PEARL

Isn’t this an astounding masterstroke of symbolism.

SABINA

Pearl, she’s gone. I can see you through the keyhole.

PEARL

Now that the knight’s lance has failed to penetrate the giant’s side, it shatters into the wind, representing our knight’s foolishness in embodying an ideal through only relics of the past. It’s well visualized. You requested well, Orson, in recommending the graphic novel adaptation.

CONWAY

The Cervantes I knew wouldn’t draw him like that.

SABINA

You’ll get hungry, you three.

ORSON

What did you say it’s a symbolism of again?

SABINA

Isn’t it obvious?

PEARL

The lance is the knight’s ultimate weapon and mark. It creates and destroys worlds. It is the tool of the kingdom and the kingdom itself. It-

SABINA

And it’s his penis.

ORSON

You wash your mouth!

CONWAY

That’s not what the author means!

SABINA

It’s what Pearl means. Haven’t you listened to him? He’s always hardened by this or made soft by that or penetrating all of it. He sure “shook the vacuum cleaner” until all its junk “came out.” He’s obsessed with cocks. Why do you think he practically lives in the bathroom?

PEARL

I do not masturbate. Though I am required to trim a candle to cleanse myself of negative energies, willfully masturbating on my part would cause the earth to shake and tumble before I lost my godlike size. The reverberations in the cosmic stream-

SABINA

And so on. You’re not explaining as much as laying bricks between us, Adonijah. I’m not challenging your identity as Christ right now. I’m giving it to you straight. Christ is a symbol, and you are a man. No man can keep it up forever. Prove me wrong about you hiding from the world in 9 minutes, and I’ll leave. Otherwise, you come out.

PEARL

Time is a concept. Let us not concern ourselves with it.

SABINA

Deal. Now. No one else is here with me. It’s ok to discuss your mother.

ORSON

You go get her, Pearl!

PEARL

This is a duel, Orson. I do recall beating out the influence of the witch in my life.

SABINA

I’m going to ask you difficult questions. Can you promise me truthful answers?

PEARL

Knowledge is the truth. Jesus is knowledge.

SABINA

Then you know, Doctor, what “let me play Freud” means.

PEARL

As a child, my belly could stroke my spine, I was so thin. I scrambled for discarded milk cartons at school for nourishment. My mother spent all her time at church. Her time there kept me anchored to this earth. All my hard work, it only supported her lifestyle.

SABINA

You starved. Your mother was right, she prayed for you all the time.

PEARL

Every minute to relics.

SABINA

Aren’t those just symbols? They don’t make you hide.

PEARL

Symbolism connects our malleable selves to the cosmic stream. But the mind can be manipulated to center too shallow on a subject, resulting in the learning of wrong lessons. Such as loving relics over saviors.

SABINA

I don’t follow.

PEARL

I am a doctor. You are not, even with your feminine façade. You hate us, but cannot deny the superiority and manliness inherent in the person of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are the one who hides from our godlike knowledge.

SABINA

This is about you.

PEARL

If you did ‘concern’ us, you would have surrendered us to the electronic duping of mental hospitals. Are you limp in your intent? Isn’t your ‘psychology’ just forcing us to clash like swords?

SABINA

You really think I’m not that good a psychologist?

CONWAY

I wouldn’t-

PEARL

Let her answer. The sharper the response, the better.

SABINA

(Laughs)

PEARL

Explain yourself.

SABINA

I’m worried about being judged by three paranoid schizophrenics! You know, not too long ago, I thought everyone else decides who you are. That they take one look at you and mold the rest of your personality around that glance. I thought that was the only way to define someone. So what do I think now? I think you’re all hypocritical, blind, and fascinating. You might not choose to be Jesus, but you chose to be yourselves. I can be like that too.

PEARL

You do have the capability to rise into knowledge, yes.

SABINA

And I know that talk only hides you for so long. You can only pretend for so long that you’re not hurting anyone. Like with you and your rampage.

PEARL

I do not recall such an event.

SABINA

I don’t care what you know. You ‘know’ you’re humble.

PEARL

I am greatest humble.

SABINA

So why is it bad if I don’t agree? Define yourself all you want, at least one belief needs social support. A humble person wouldn’t fear me entering.

PEARL

I’m defending my friends from your corruption. We have much more in common than your instigating techniques would let us solidify. We have some disagreements, but we don’t let them flatten us.

SABINA

I never stopped you from becoming friends, only forced you to stop hiding from the most important question of your life.

PEARL

That’s your belief.

CONWAY

Actually, she-

PEARL

Shut up! This is not a substantial deviation.

SABINA

Would the real Jesus dodge the question? Even if you want to ‘become knowledge,’ you still live on this Earth. Other people told you about Jesus first.

PEARL

You do not plunge deep enough for your answers to transcend the physical reality around you!

SABINA

Nice try. Why should we call you Jesus?

PEARL

Because I am the way to ultimate knowledge! Because my brain solidified, signifying the message of the Father! Because apparently my birth certificate does not satisfy you!

SABINA

Your body represents you?

PEARL

I will leave this body, and forever dive into the cosmic stream!

SABINA

Your body is just a symbol, then.

PEARL

Yes!

SABINA

A religious relic.

PEARL

Those are corruptions! For simple witches who refuse to ask why tastes can be seen, or why boys must starve. The witch thought she owned me! I broke free with these hands and smashed the shrines of evil! And she cried, oh, how they cry to see their Virgin Maries defiled. “What have you done,” she cried. She did not see the glass shards digging into my hands. I tell her “My identity was revealed eons ago. I am not your son.” “But I loved you! I prayed for you!” “You do not pray for me! I am your Savior! I no longer support you, because you worship me now! You worship me now!

SABINA

And then what?

PEARL

I departed that realm.

SABINA

You ran away.

PEARL

I- yes.

SABINA

From what I’ve seen, and what you’ve told me, she may be mentally imbalanced. But it must have been frightening, what you went through.

PEARL

It could be.

SABINA

Maybe it’s too late. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry for everything. You should control who you want to be. But other people don’t disappear with your memories. Your mother will keep looking for you. You’ll run out of food. Man cannot live on Christ alone.

PEARL

If that is what you choose to believe.

SABINA

To you as well. Kim?

KIM enters.

SABINA

Call them.

KIM

You mean it this time?

SABINA

You can’t trust me, so I’m trusting you. Call the police before I change my mind.

CONWAY

Pearl, I hope you don’t think this isn’t my business. But I forgave my parents before I went to the hospital. I have that power.

ORSON

Thought that was just me.

PEARL

I am aware of the extent of my ability, Conway. Thank you.

KIM

Hello, yes, three people have locked my girlfriend and I out of our apartment…

PEARL

You are sending us to the hospital.

SABINA

I’m to blame.

CONWAY

Did I displease you?

SABINA

No, this needed to happen. I’m sorry. I only study psychology, but I don’t think you could tell by how I treated you. If you want to ignore each other, or be friends, it’s ok.

CONWAY

We-

ORSON

Didn’t you hear her? She said she’s sorry. It’s over.

PEARL

Not yet. We shall stand tall in defense.

CONWAY

We don’t have anything to defend with.

PEARL

We have as much as anybody. We have ourselves.

KIM

This was a really big thing you did.

SABINA

I should’ve done it ages ago.

KIM

So now what?

SABINA

I won’t be jailed for long, if even that. I really should study more than experiment. Maybe I’ll become a psychologist so I can do this again and do it right. Help both other people and our bank accounts. It’ll be a fight, but I’ve got two people worth fighting for.

KIM

Empathy and self-confidence? Who are you, and can I speak to Sabina now?

SABINA

Hey, I’m serious. I know what I was like to you. The Jesuses defined themselves with no outside influence, and I defined myself too much by outside influence. I can’t change that memory. But do you know who I’ll be? Empathetic, authentic, robustomatic. Of all the people to be, I want to be like you. I love you. And I hope everybody heard that.

KIM and SABINA make out.

ORSON

Quit hoggin’ the view!

PEARL

I hope you two are satisfied on your shallow surface.

CONWAY

I don’t mean to upset anyone, but you’re doing a very bad thing.

ORSON

Them? Why?

PEARL

Science explains it. A magnet of a positive charge attracts a magnet of a negative charge. Therefore, homosexual activities are against nature. I have already encountered some justly punished, shortened homosexuals.

CONWAY

Spain legalized gay marriage a while back. Now I have to save them from themselves!

ORSON

So?

PEARL

So!

CONWAY

We must be fruitful and multiply! If the gayness spreads, then everything will collapse and the human race will die! Or worse, the human race will be gay!

ORSON

I’m all the humanity you’ll ever need!

CONWAY

You said you made everyone! If you won’t listen to me, listen to Pearl! You made him!

ORSON

He’s a nerd, I didn’t have anything to do with him.

“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers, begins playing.

PEARL

You are mistaken. I am all people, for I am the Lord. The best you can hope for is to embody the manliness of Jesus Christ inherent within yourself.

CONWAY

You’re Jesus? You never saved the world! You just lock yourself in the bathroom and masturbate!

PEARL

It’s called stroking the candle!

CONWAY

Well it’s not very Christ-like!

ORSON

He’s not Jesus, I am!

PEARL

You are nothing but constructs of volcanoes and stardust.

ORSON

I’m not just any star, I’m the sun!

PEARL

You hallowed-out God! Humans are born in volcanoes and think they create volcanoes. Only I, though the cosmic stream, am both created and creator. You envy my towering presence!

CONWAY

Speak for yourself, midget!

The three Jesuses fight. This continues as the lights fade out.

The Son, The Son, and The Son: Scene 3 (Part 2)

Part 1 of this scene can be found here!

FRANKLIN

I didn’t mean to upset you. Are you trying to jump into the chalk drawing?

MARY POPPINS

What?

FRANKLIN

Like in the book, when Bert and Mary jumped into a drawing of the countryside and went there.

MARY POPPINS

Jumping into chalk! That’s completely ridiculous! I just want the chalk to shut the hell up!

FRANKLIN

Oh, I get it now.

MARY POPPINS

Just who are-

FRANKLIN

It’s like the book, see? You denied everything magical that happened in it. Well, where would you like to go?

MARY POPPINS

Nowhere!

FRANKLIN

Come now, Mary. I can travel the world too, even without your magical compass. We can go anywhere you want. You know what has great food? India! Shall I make a reservation at the reservation?

MARY POPPINS

I just told you. I shall leave when I please, and it will not be with you.

FRANKLIN

Well, what do you want to do?

MARY POPPINS

That is not the question. The question is why you care so much.

FRANKLIN

I’ve been all over, sure. Poland, Romania, Scotland, Albania, Ireland, Russia, Oman. And I loved it! I’m a citizen of the world now! But I’ve never done it with another person, let alone someone like you. Everyone else thinks I just close my eyes and mumble.

MARY POPPINS

That’s probably because you do.

FRANKLIN

But you’re the one! You can prove them wrong, because you can actually go there with me. Please Mary. There’s no point bein’ a citizen of the world if you’re not livin’ in it.

MARY POPPINS

I will accept on the condition that you leave me alone afterwards.

FRANKLIN

Ok. It’s been hot and dusty lately. Let’s go… North!

MARY POPPINS

Well?

FRANKLIN

We wait a bit now. Once my legs start burning-

MARY POPPINS

A liar’s pants will be on fire.

FRANKLIN

Once that sensation hits, you won’t stop me for nothing. You know me, I just won’t quit.

MARY POPPINS

I don’t know-

FRANKLIN

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAHHH! Aha! Man, it’s cold this time of year in Australia! Hey, that dime store might have some good stuff in it, if the Eskimos inside don’t cannibalize us.

MARY POPPINS

I’ve had quite enough of this!

FRANKLIN

Wow! Would you look at that, Mary! A real elephant! With flippers and everything! Ow!

MARY POPPINS

I hope I’ve taught you a lesson, mister.

FRANKLIN

Argall.

MARY POPPINS

I didn’t ask.

FRANKLIN

I’m sorry it wasn’t a jolly holiday for you. It’s not like- actually, I don’t remember you havin’ any fun in the book.

MARY POPPINS

I’m too old for fun.

FRANKLIN

Now what sense does that make?

MARY POPPINS

Did I say something wrong?

FRANKLIN

Well, now I’m just curious. Your time with the kids in the book, and this- is it all a chore for you? Because I’m not sure why you’d stick around otherwise.

MARY POPPINS

We had a deal.

FRANKLIN

Look, you know me, I’m not one for pushin’. But I’d love to live in your world of zoo parties and umbrella flying. Why don’t you?

MARY POPPINS

Well, Mr. Argall, perhaps you should return to Australia or wherever in hell you went to and enjoy yourself. Now, if you excuse me, the East Wind has arrived. It’s time for my morning commute.

FRANKLIN

Aren’t you supposed to be floating away?

MARY POPPINS

You’ll have to speak louder. I’m floating away.

FRANKLIN

That shouldn’t be no commute. I think I understand. All that stuff everybody’s enchanted by, you’re sick of. Well, if you don’t mind me asking- has anything in your world tried to kill you yet? Because my lightbulb did. It asked me to kill you as a job

MARY POPPINS

I heard something about a job. If you have a job to do, you best hurry up and do it, then.

FRANKLIN

But I won’t! I don’t care if the lightbulb makes that noise forever, or if no one will ever like me again. Mary Poppins, you will make my life worse. But you’ll make my world better. That’s why you watch over the kids. They haven’t lost their innocence yet. Not like you.

MARY POPPINS

Why haven’t you?

FRANKLIN

I’ve had every reason to. People spit at me on their walk. I can play my ribs like a piano. No one believes I can travel. Why do I love the world? Because I choose to. But none of it matters if I can’t choose you.

MARY POPPINS

How would we ride it?

FRANKLIN

Yes?

MARY POPPINS

The elephant. However are we supposed to ride it? We’re in Australia, and we still act as if we haven’t left London yet. Why are we wasting our time?

FRANKLIN

Silly thing to do, ain’t it?

FRANKLIN and MARY POPPINS exit.

ORSON

“And then Franklin and Mary flew over to Germany and kicked Adolf Hitler in the moustache. They invited Jane, Michael, Mr. Banks, Mrs. Banks, and the radio to their wedding. If took some effort, but my father convinced the lightbulb to screech out the Wedding March for my mother.

“Mary Poppins gave birth to Orson Argall, the Lord and Savior of the world. We never had any troubles ever again. No one ever took mother and father away and put them in those white coats where you have to hug yourself. I was not six years old when it did not happen. The End.”

And that’s my story. I see some of you have some questions. First of all, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear. I never need anything explained to me.

The curtains pull back.

SABINA

That was a lovely story.

ORSON

Now leave me alone.

SABINA

Perhaps we can make a deal.

ORSON

No.

SABINA

I can get more cigarettes. I need to know first why you steal them.

ORSON

You want me to conjure them? I could do that all my life. But I’m tired nowadays.

SABINA

How can you be too tired to be God?

ORSON

It’s a mystery.

SABINA

And why do you like mysteries?

ORSON

I never met a good answer in my life. They think they can get at you, at the soul in your skin, because they wear white coats? That they can take away your parents and turn them into machines. I can be anything I want to be, me folks said. I can make it. But then the robots got them, last I saw.

SABINA

You told me yesterday that your parents created fireworks and built a large inheritance for you.

ORSON

Why can’t you just settle down? You’re as bad as the two machines there. They go on and on about Christ’s life and who he represents and what he looks like… he’s white, I tell you! A white man! And they don’t believe me!

SABINA

We see things differently. Jesus was born in the Middle-

ORSON

You can be born with towelheads without being one. I tell them, I’m white, the Jesus on the Church walls is white. That’s it.

SABINA

He can’t choose what color to be. I know that can be disheartening, but sometimes character serves context.

ORSON

I don’t get it.

SABINA

Well, Conway and I discussed this a while back. You create yourself out of the reactions of those around you. If you made this world half-asleep, maybe someone else told you about Jesus. We don’t live in a- a vacuum-

ORSON

Are we done? I want to stop these talks. Why won’t you let us stop?

SABINA

We can stop. Conway, make sure nothing happens between you three.

CONWAY

You can trust me. Again, I’m deeply sorry about letting in those prostitutes yesterday.

ORSON

They said they loved me!

Apartment Lights down, Street Lights up. SABINA paces in the town square.

SABINA

Ok, what to say, what to say. “Kim, I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough for you.” No, too passive-aggressive. “Kim, I’ll take you to a nice dinner.” No, she’ll see right through that. “Kim, I’m sorry I hurt you?” Did that even happen? Maybe she’s right, maybe I have been hurting people. Well, you know, maybe it’s ok, maybe we should just go to the theater again and I’ll be a better person from now on. The theater. Why did I never become an actress? It seems like it’d work so well for me…

SABINA steps in front of the closing curtains. Drum roll plays.

ANNOUNCER

And the Oscar goes to… Sabina Capello for her role as Loki in “The Avengers 5: Thanks Again for all the Money.”

“Rondeau from Suite de Symphonies,” by Mouret, plays. SABINA picks up her gold statuette from the podium.

SABINA

Thank you, thank you all! I’d love to thank not just the academy, but my old acting teachers for revealing the complexities of human emotion to me. In fact, I’d like to thank all my grade school teachers. Until I got in trouble, I got my start from mocking you.

REPORTERS 1 and 2 enter.

REPORTER 2

Miss Capello, Miss Capello, will this Oscar be stored alongside you other nine Oscars?

SABINA

Oh well, you know me, I’d rather not discuss the many times I’ve won Best Actress.

REPORTER 1

Miss Capello, People magazine ranked your current lovability as higher than the Beatles at the peak of their fame. Do you, like them, consider yourself ‘bigger than Jesus’?

Music fades out.

SABINA

Well, I don’t mean to brag, but- huh.

The curtains pull back. REPORTERS 1 and 2 exit. SABINA sits down and thinks. Lights fade out. When lights fade back up, SABINA is taking notes.

SABINA

Kim has not visited the coffee shop or her volunteer shelter recently. She’s not answering her phone. I know it ended badly, but now I know how little my past matters to who I am. Environment, race, first impressions, they only begin it. A nice smile and some kind words some months ago can’t support us. She needs to know I can change. I can be the person she loved.

But this is not my journal, this is a log. I believe I understand Orson’s childlike demeanor better. He most likely inherited his condition. And the dependent tendencies of schizophrenics explain why both Orson and Conway regard their parents so highly. That still doesn’t explain, however, why each one of them is a terrible Jesus. So why pick Jesus, of all the people to be? Do they feel they have a choice about their suffering?

KIM and OLD WOMAN arrive.

OLD WOMAN

I raised him all my own, all my prayers to him. Thank you. You are angel.

KIM

Not really. Keep talking.

OLD WOMAN

He was a good boy, supported his momma. One day he come home and he- all of the- he shattered them. I thought he would shatter me.

KIM

That doesn’t sound like- well maybe he- oh great.

SABINA

I’ve been looking for you.

KIM

So much for sneaking back into your place, then.

SABINA

Back into my place?

KIM

She’s been asking everyone on the street about her son, including the drug addict I was working with. Her well-behaving son went on some sort of rampage and couldn’t stop babbling about some cosmic stream.

SABINA

So I assume the experiment’s ending, then.

KIM

Assume?

SABINA

No, it will. I can change for you.

OLD WOMAN

Please, he was such good boy, I pray for him everyday, all the day.

KIM

That’s not- look, I’m taking them to a hospital with or without you. You don’t need to be someone else for me.

OLD WOMAN

My son is very sick…

SABINA

What if I wanted to keep them there? To study them. You wouldn’t want me to choose that.

KIM

Speaking of which. What are you trying to prove again? You’re a lazy student, but even you know you can’t equate choice with a mental condition.

SABINA

It’s a subtle choice.

OLD WOMAN

Please my son-

SABINA

You had a religious upbringing too. And your spare time is for helping the ill, not being one.

KIM

You had to have learned more than that this month.

OLD WOMAN

My son-

KIM

So did they answer your question yet? Or will they confess under more torture?

OLD WOMAN

Please-

SABINA

I’m-

OLD WOMAN

My-

SABINA

Well-

OLD WOMAN smacks SABINA with her purse.

OLD WOMAN

We find my son now! No more talking!

SABINA

Ok, ok! Goddammit, I-

OLD WOMAN hits her again.

SABINA

See, this is why I have to act like a Christian girl!

Read the finale here.