Ourselves, In Cells

A play by Sawyer Estes

play pic 3

illustration by Liz Morgan

CHARACTERS

Lyle: Resides in the middle can. He’s naked and lithe. Boyish. Gaudy. Forties or fifties.

Mona: Resides in the SL can. She has on a white turtleneck. Hair in knots. What was once exquisite has aged severely. Forties or fifties.

Heath: Striking and masculine. Dressed in black dress pants, black dress shirt, and white tie. Younger.

SETTING

The stage is surrounded on three sides by pitch-black curtains. Within this square there is another square composed of a man-made fence; it is a grey wood, picket, and unpainted. The gaps between its boards are terribly slight, and it is absent of any doorway. Two metal garbage cans, placed adjacent to one another, sit center stage. Note the closeness in their proximity. Now, multiply their small length apart by two, and place another metal garbage can just this distance away from them stage right. The separation from the third can to the paired two should neither be obvious nor indiscernible.

The lights begin to rise slowly as if to signify a sunrise. Once raised, Lyle upsurges from his can and begins singing.

LYLE

(rapturous)

Ahh-hhh-hhh-hhh! Bahduh Dum DumDAH!! 

Rest. Dramatic breath.

Ahh-hhh-hhh-hhh! Bahduh Dum Dum… Bah Dum Dum—

Lyle gives himself a round of applause.

TA-DA!

MONA

(From within can; a low grumble)

PLEASE, GOD! PLEASE, GOD!

LYLE

Oh me, oh my! Did I sing? Did I smirk? Did I give myself away?!

On beat, Lyle drops and Mona rises immediately.

She looks forward, left, back, right.

Sees third can, and stares. 

MONA

Another day… and my poor sprout… hasn’t sprout.

She rips more of her hair out and descends again.

Lyle rises immediately.

He cranes his neck to see into her can, but fails.

He looks down into the center of his can.

He looks straight ahead. Pause.

Bracing his can he strains to see into her can, and does.

He repositions himself in the dead center of his can.

LYLE

Ahh-hhh-hhh-hhh! Bahduh Dum DumDAH!!

Rest. Begin dramatic breath…stop.

Think! (quick) It’s Bahduh Dum DumDAH; Bahduh Dum Dum; Bah Dum Dum; Ta-Da. Then… then… Yes!

Singing.

YOU AND… (forgets; stops) YOU AND… (forgets; stops) YOOOOUUUU AAAAANNNNDDDD??!!

MONA

For God’s sake! If that’s you Lyle!

LYLE

Me? Oh. It is me. You and… me. That’s the song I haven’t been able to help singing. That’s the lyric I’ve been forgetting. You and me. …Oh, I’ve been a bad boy.

He drops, and she rises.

She looks directly at his can.

She cranes her neck to see into his can, but fails. Frowns.

She looks down into the center of her can. Smiles.

Bracing her can she strains to see into his can, and does.

MONA

I am no fool, Lyle, I am no fool! I know where all the singing comes from! You surface up and stop pretending!

Fake snoring from Lyle

Are you lying to me with your snores?

More fake snoring from Lyle.

I think by now I’d know your lying snores from your truthful snores.

Even more fake snoring from Lyle.

Lyle, I heard our wicked old song; I do have ears to hear even if I wish they were full of stone. Please surface up now before… you know… the happy day… when we can no longer… surface up.

Pause. 

I swear if I could curse you I WOULD!

Pause.

Lyle… please? The day is too good without you.

She drops, and he rises.

Sound of crying from Mona’s can. 

LYLE

How am I supposed to take that, hearing the day is too good without me?

Crying intensifies.

Hear banging from inside can.

LYLE

When did good become bad with her?

MONA

(within can)

No, stop! You like it! You like it!

LYLE

And for me… when did bad become so very good?

MONA

I’ll use the glass to cut the tears right off your face!

LYLE

Mona, don’t!

MONA

But you’d like the glass the most!

LYLE

I’m up and awake now. (coddling) Please come and have me torture you without the pain. I’m the best little torturer without the pain.

MONA

I CAN’T COME UP; YOU WERE SINGING!

LYLE

Absolutely not! I would never!

MONA

It was in my can — those notes.

LYLE

The birds have a way of carrying their sound in the morning. I’ve told you that before.

MONA

It was our old song, Lyle. The song of two: me and you. The birds could never recreate that tune.

LYLE

They’ve sang it before and I remember because I danced. I admit it, Mona. I danced. [Oh, how I danced!]

MONA

We had Heath shoot them from the sky for the lousy rendition so they can’t much sing it again now.

LYLE

The song has a way of migrating back.

MONA

(distasteful)

They don’t sound like us anyway.

She rises from her can and looks around.

MONA

I’m not seeing any re-migrated birds, Lyle.

LYLE

(to self; in response)

You never see me!

Lyle drops.

Her eyes fall on third can.

MONA

Don’t you leave. It’s the time of day to see if the sprout has begun to sprout and you’re the nearest to the gardening… (to self) Why I chose to set the cans in this order I’ll never know. Me all the way over here, and the man closest to the cultivation. As if he cared more than me! As if he could!

She stretches to see into his can.

What are you… (a giggle) Are you crying?

LYLE

I don’t cry! … Oh, how I weep!

MONA

When you get a moment will you check the gardening?

LYLE

No.

MONA

No?!

LYLE

I want to be left alone.

MONA

Haha, poor Lyle. You can’t do that.

LYLE

I just want to weep in peace.

MONA

You know you can’t have any.

LYLE

I WANT IT, I WANT IT!

MONA

If you stay down there weeping I’ll never see about the sprout. It could finally be in bloom and I wouldn’t have any idea. Is that what you want to do to me?

LYLE

Heath will arrive and then I’ll come up again. Until Heath arrives I want to weep. Let me weep; I can’t weep when you’re here. When Heath arrives I’ll stop weeping and come up.

MONA

(to self)

You’ll get up for him. 

Lyle rises. 

LYLE

Sorry?

MONA

(sniffing the air above his can)

What is this smell coming from your can? It’s just awful, I tell you, just awful.

LYLE

Mona, please! It’s coming from the sprout’s can! We’ve been through this!

MONA

How come I smell it over your can then, Lyle, how come?

LYLE

I don’t know? It spreads out; it carries!

MONA

Like the bird’s screech carries?

LYLE

Like a bad smell carries!

MONA

That’s no bad smell; that’s a salty smell; that’s a man’s smell.

LYLE

Mona, don’t… I’ll be embarrassed.

MONA

A sprout doesn’t smell like a man.

LYLE

No… Not exactly… No… You’re right.

MONA

It smells like a sprout. A sprout smells like a sprout.

LYLE

Please, I said you’re right.

MONA

Okay, forget the smell. I can even taste you in the air. It makes me want to vomit, but I won’t and I don’t. You’re too salty, Lyle. Ha-ha, You’re Lots Wife reincarnate.

LYLE

(overdramatic)

Oh, I’m a sweaty sweaty old ham is what I am!

MONA

I won’t lie. And I don’t see how you sweat so much when all you do is sit all day. You won’t even check the sprout. You’re a sweaty old sloth is what you are! A sweaty old Lot’s Wife!

LYLE

I HAVE HYPERHIDROSIS!

MONA

I’m not so sure I can believe you. You sing and still swear it’s the dead birds: like my ears are full of stone and my memory is rot.

LYLE

Heath said so! He touched me and said I have it!

MONA

I’m afraid I’ll have to ask him myself.

LYLE

You wouldn’t!

MONA

It is strange. You’d think I’d have noticed something like you sweating all the time. You’d think it would have broken the deal before it all started.

LYLE

It’s new, Mona… Please don’t mention it to him?

MONA

Good thing the eyes love first and not the nose.

LYLE

It’s too embarrassing… I’m saturated in salt… He’ll never look at me again.

MONA

For me it was neither eyes nor nose but the convention. And for you, Lyle? When you loved me what was it that did it?

LYLE

I don’t know. Please don’t tell Heath, Mona. Please don’t.

MONA

Tell me what it was and we’ll see.

LYLE

Okay… It was our agreement… Wasn’t it?

MONA

No, before then. Long before we made any agreement on being here together. What was it that very first did it?

LYLE

…The shelter…

MONA

I see. That’s not very romantic of you. But it’s sharp and it’s true and it hurts and it’s love. Romanticism is a poison created by devils.

Pause. 

MONA

Convention and shelter.

LYLE

Brings us here.

MONA

Together with the sprout like three peas in a pod.

LYLE

Smelly rotten peas.

MONA

We should be commended and we’ll definitely be rewarded.

LYLE

Oh, I’m just about to weep again!

Lyle drops.

Weeping from his can.

Long Pause.

Mona begins to settle. A smile begins to form.

MONA

NO!!!

Mona drops.

She reappears with a shard of glass.

She rolls up her left sleeve.

 

MONA

Will you come up from weeping and be with me?

LYLE

NO!… …HEATH!…

Pause.

MONA

Please?! Please surface up with me, Lyle!

LYLE

NO!… …HEATH!…

Pause. 

MONA

Life is too good without you.

Mona makes a few cuts in her arm… Waits.

Mona drops.

Weeping from both cans.

Long pause.

A hand emerges over the fence and drops a bucket.

The hand drops a second bucket.

Heath summersaults over the fence.

Lyle rising.

LYLE

Heath?!

HEATH

Lyle.

Pause.

They stare at each other.

LYLE

I’ve been weeping again.

HEATH

Have you? Because I have too.

LYLE

Oh.

Pause.

They stare at each other.

LYLE

(breaking the silence)

I’ve really truly…

HEATH

I have something for you and the Missus.

LYLE

Heath… It’s Mona.

HEATH

Who?

LYLE

You know Mona’s her name.

HEATH

I have something that will raise all our spirits—the Missus included.

LYLE

Heath, please!

Pause.

They stare at each other.

HEATH

Won’t you show a touch of curiosity when I have a gift for you?

LYLE

Not when I’m excited and then hurt.

HEATH

Well I want you curious.

LYLE

Do you mind if I’m excited for you?

HEATH

Oh, Lyle. Of course not. That’s what I mean to get at.

LYLE

How come you want me hurt then?

HEATH

Because I haven’t got at it.

LYLE

(disgust; contention)

Uh, I was too excited! I rise to wait for you!

HEATH

Then because I myself hurt and excitement isn’t remedy enough. Now won’t you be curious?

LYLE

(curious, but skeptical)

Okay… I hope it’s nothing more than the usual?

HEATH

(showcasing the bucket)

It’s sooo much more. Gallons more. Or is heaps more appropriate? Heap upon heap?

LYLE

You spring this on me today of all days?!

HEATH

Better today than any other when the others aren’t so sure to come.

LYLE

Can’t we wait a little longer?

HEATH

I’m sorry, I can’t.

LYLE

I won’t believe for a second it’s gotten worse out there!

HEATH

Each new day is a day away from the end. I’ve said it before and it’s now more true than it was then.

LYLE

But you can’t possibly mean that? You’re not so far gone as to mean that?

HEATH

Its been over twenty years and you mean to say you still can’t see that each passing day that cannot have occurred — should not have occurred — makes it all the more certain that the next will not and should not occur?

LYLE

Heath! I’m here! You know I’m here!

HEATH

Lyle, dear Lyle, the end is in here. How can you not see it?

LYLE

But how can the end be in here when you say the end is out there, Heath?! How can it be?!

HEATH

You yet don’t know me. Twenty years and you yet don’t know me.

LYLE

Yet don’t… Uh, I do so!

HEATH

Then how can you not fathom what I mean? Listen, boy. The spirit (waves all around body) — in here — has undergone an apocalypse (points to ground) — out here.

LYLE

(motioning beyond fence)

But out there… I can still know you out there… The hope hasn’t gone away for out there.

HEATH

Lyle, I’m apocalypsed in here (waves all around body) so there can be no more out there.

LYLE

BUT THERE WILL BE?! YOU MUST STILL BELIEVE THERE WILL BE?!

HEATH

THERE CANNOT!

LYLE

YOU MUST BELIEVE THERE CAN!

HEATH

Ha. Can.

LYLE

PLEASE TRUST IN ME!

HEATH

I’VE NO FAITH LEFT! I’VE NO IN HERE OR OUT THERE! I’VE GOT SPACE SWALLOWING AND ENDLESS! I CLING TO NOTHING WHEN NOTHING AND NOBODY WILL CLING TO ME! (look to Mona’s can; factual) …Did I shout?

LYLE

She has stone ears, except to spoil a perfectly good song.

HEATH

Shh… Not yet she doesn’t. Today we’ll see if it’s not too late.

LYLE

…And if not today?

HEATH

My world will end.

LYLE

…Is that an ultimatum?

HEATH

I’ve made a demand and if you don’t meet it I will end my life and write your name with my leftover blood. Likely not in that order, but yes, I think it sounds like one. An ultimatum.

LYLE

What if I… I… I… cannot succeed?

HEATH

(response, but ironic)

I won’t discuss this with you any further. (total shift) Mona, you angel. It’s Heath, do you need me?

MONA

I… Not today. Pour the bucket and go away.

HEATH

Angel. You haven’t used the glass again, I know.

LYLE

(mockingly)

Saint, angel, Mona.

MONA

I wish to be spotless, I do, but there’s too much blood.

HEATH

You haven’t let it stain your turtleneck, I know.

MONA

I haven’t! The sleeve’s rolled up, but I’m nearly drowning in it in this can.

HEATH

(quick look to Lyle)

Are you?!

MONA

No… unfortunately… figuratively.

HEATH

Sure, that’s too bad.

LYLE

How can you do that to yourself, Mona?

Mona pops only her head up.

 

MONA

(with Heath)

I HAVE NO SELF CONTROL!

HEATH

(mocking Mona)

SHE HAS NO SELF CONTROL!

 

LYLE

It’s just not saintly is all. That’s all.

 

MONA

(with Heath)

I’M LEARNING MY SELF CONTROL!

HEATH

(mocking Mona)

SHE’s LEARNING HER SELF CONTROL!

 

MONA

…And you were too busy weeping to balance me out!

HEATH

How dare he. (to Lyle) How dare you.

LYLE

I can’t really help weeping, can I? (quieter; to Heath) Please, it was all for you.

MONA

You wouldn’t even check the sprout!

HEATH

(quieter; to Lyle)

Don’t even. You know full well if you truly wept for me you would be up here making her miserable balancing her out!

LYLE

I’m sorry! I try to be a good person, upright and more or less honest, and here you go and make me cry!

MONA

You wouldn’t even balance me out!

HEATH

Then cry you big baby!

MONA

You wouldn’t even check the sprout!

LYLE

Oh, fine Heath! I will! I really will!

HEATH

Stupendous.

LYLE

Maybe I’ll drown in my tears and never see you again!

HEATH

All the better. Then maybe I’d see again.

LYLE

Maybe I’m already drowning! Maybe I’ve been drowning since I met you! Maybe this is a boat to keep me afloat from the water I’ve shed for you!

Lyle drops to cry.

HEATH

Now you’re just being dramatic. And I know for a fact that’s not true because I’d be doing the drowning!

 

Pause.

MONA

Heath?

HEATH

Mona, angel! You didn’t hear anything!

MONA

Will you be a dear and check the sprout for me? I hope… No, I believe… I do believe… I hold fast to my belief… that today the sprout will sprout.

Heath plugs his nose and looks into the third can.

HEATH

There’s nothing doing.

MONA

Don’t tell me it’s all soil. I won’t hear it.

HEATH

It’s not all soil. Not at all.

MONA

Then the sprout has sprout!

HEATH

I said there’s nothing doing.

MONA

You said it wasn’t all soil, Heath, you lied?

HEATH

Did I? Well, there’s also the fertilizer to account for.

MONA

One in the same!

HEATH

Not exactly, Mona angel. One fertilizes and one soils. I should know. After all, I am the herbologist.

MONA

Forgive me. Do forgive me. You are the herbologist… I just assumed by the inflection you said “it’s not all soil” with that there was something else there?

HEATH

There is. The foundation of fertilizer.

MONA

Something more.

HEATH

You mean for me to tell you the sprout?

MONA

(a heady, dreamy response)

…What else? …Is there anything else?

HEATH

Would you have me whisper sweet deceit? Would you have me slither to the tree and coax you to eat?

MONA

I ask for the herbologist and I get the preacher.

HEATH

Even still.

MONA

I’d have you make the sprout sprout!

HEATH

Mona, think about it, it just has to be the seed. All these years and not even a bud in sight?

MONA

There’s nothing wrong with my seed. I tossed on fertile ground.

HEATH

(hands up in defense)

Any proper herbologist — or pastor for that matter — would suggest it’s an issue of the seed.

MONA

I planted it, and I’m telling you the seed is right.

HEATH

I’m nurturing it, and I say the seed is not.

MONA

THEN WE HAVE THE WRONG NURTURER AND I’LL HIRE ANOTHER!

HEATH

And with what money do you suppose you’ll do that?

MONA

What do you think, our house money!

HEATH

(pointing out front)

This house? The house I’m in charge of selling for you?

MONA

MY house.

HEATH

(an old thought)

You ever imagine it’s possible that one can allow another to wear far too many hats so that he begins to neglect entirely what you held as the most important hat all along?

MONA

You couldn’t possibly mean that the sprout is the…?!

HEATH

The herbology, in this case since I’ve already checked it once today and won’t stick my head down there again, is a sort of neglected hat.

MONA

Why? Why won’t anyone check the sprout? Not Lyle, not you, no one! I have to get over there, I must, but I can’t! Don’t you understand that? Is there any mercy left to be found in you men? I mean, I confess, I open before you my ugly self, and still you have more important hats! And Lyle weeps, but for something or someone else, not for me and not for the sprout! And for years it’s been this way! Well, I’m hiring another, Heath, as soon as you sell my house I’m hiring another! HAT!

She drops.

Weeping from her can.

Lyle rises.

LYLE

How can you stand there and allow another come replace you? I’m absolutely worthless this morning!

He drops.

Weeping from his can.

HEATH

(to self)

HOW ON EARTH DID I EVER GET INVOLVED WITH THESE PEOPLE!! What became of me that would make me willing, no, begging, to become involved with these people? They both want nothing more than to escape — in their own way — and yet you run to become a part — in your own way?

                          He kicks the back of Lyle’s can.

Haha! Oh wow, these ways! Your ways! Our ways! Haha!

                                             Slight pause.

                   He moves away as if suddenly terrified.

Maybe she’s right. It is beauty that did this to me. The eyes, the bone linings, the pale skin, the…

                                He moves back toward them.

Ohhhh maybe I’ll… No, there won’t be any of that. The ultimatum is in place — rewarding will come later. (for the first time he is truly anxious and vulnerable) Or maybe it won’t, maybe it’ll be the same again, day after day the same disappointments and piecemeal fillings, mere tastes and not consumptions, maybe… No. There must be an end. A fairytale end. A prince charming end. Have patience. (gains composure; loud to Mona) The first shall be last. Isn’t that right, Mona angel?!

MONA

(from can)

The preacher hat! The good words! The reconciliation for the faulty herbology and negligent real estate agent!

                                 She raises only her head.

MONA

Preacher. Will you tell me a truth?

HEATH

Why is it you’re raising only your head again? Have some decency when you speak to me! … Snap, snap! Come on now!

MONA

I can’t, preacher, I can’t. Tell me a truth. I need to be apprehended.

HEATH

You wish to be apprehended?

MONA

A truthful story. A parable if you will.

HEATH

Parables are apprehending now?

MONA

They are to the right audience with the right understanding.

HEATH

I would, but I’ve forgotten truth today — even as telling through fiction. (louder) Isn’t that right, Lyle?! (back) I’ve run completely out. My truth has been bottled away and won’t come up with me.

MONA

Don’t give me that — you know truth.

HEATH

I can entertain today, but I have no more truth. No more parable. Never again will I have truth for you.

MONA

Tomorrow you will. You always have it tomorrow.

HEATH

Tomorrow. Always truth tomorrow but not today with you two, isn’t it? I don’t know it anymore — today.

MONA

You do so — you know truth. The fig, remember the fig?

                                             Slight pause.

HEATH

I do remember the fig!

MONA

There you are! Tell me that one: apprehend me.

HEATH

There’s a problem! I can’t speak to you when you’re bloody.

MONA

What? … When I’m what?

HEATH

BLOODY.

MONA

How do you know I’m bloody?

HEATH

You’re keeping your arms down again. You know there’s no use hiding from me.

MONA

You’re the only way to make it stop. I know that, and yet I hide. Not usually, not characteristically, but with the blood and… Why do you think it is I hide if I know you’ll mend it? Will you please… mend it?

HEATH

Now you ask after you’ve already stained your turtleneck!

MONA

Not yet I haven’t, no. You taught me well. Telling me I can drip but to be very careful about where I let it drip. And when I can no longer control where the drips are dripping and it will permanently stain my own turtleneck, you arrive with another hat. The preacher hat; the truthful hat! It’s such a well organized agreement!

HEATH

The vampire hat, you mean?

MONA

(appalled at the suggestion)

NO. The preacher hat. Tell me the fig.

HEATH

THE VAMPIRE HAT!

MONA

No! The savior hat! Tell me the cross!

HEATH

THE VAMPIRE HAT!

MONA

NO! THE HEATH HAT! NOW HAVE IT FOR ME!

HEATH

Now?

MONA

NOOOOOOOOW!

HEATH

(showing teeth; vampire voice — whatever that is)

Will be good for the fangs!

                                      Heath moves to Mona.

                             Mona offers her bleeding arm.

                                 Heath drinks her arm dry.

                                       Lyle rises mid sip.

LYLE

I’m down there weeping and you’re…?! Oh. Her blood. I forgot you were still doing that.

                                               Lyle drops.

Heath moves over Lyle’s can.

HEATH

(to Lyle; down into can)

I wonder how it is that everyday you come up just in time to see that?

LYLE

I smell the iron so I come up. Through all the smells, all our rotten smells, I smell the iron. I can’t stop smelling it even with all the other rotten smells… I think it’s best for me to see you like that.

HEATH

Like what exactly?

LYLE

Just like an animal. Just like her.

HEATH

You know you’re killing me; you’re ending the world. Whatever world there ever was.

                                               Long pause.

MONA

Tell me the fig now I’m no longer bloody.

HEATH

Offered your offering and now you want a message do you? A little sermon?

MONA

I do.

                  Heath fondles himself outside his pants.

HEATH

Hmm. We can make that work. Go on down then.

MONA

…And after?

HEATH

Make sure you stay down.

MONA

…But after?

HEATH

If you’re sure to stay down I’ll play anesthesiologist, I’ll play construction worker, I’ll fill you up.

MONA

Thank you, Heath, thank you.

                                                She drops.

                                         She pops back up.

MONA

Promise me you’ll continue to check if my sprout has sprout. That is… if today’s the day?

HEATH

Today’s not the day.

MONA

…And to think I had a feeling it was.

                                                She drops.

HEATH

Me too… I did too.

Heath walks directly behind Lyle’s can.

He softly taps the side three times.

He waits.

Lyle slowly rises up and leans forward, waiting.

Heath undoes his belt and drops his pants.

He inserts his instrument into the back of Lyle’s can.

He begins thrusting slowly, passionately.

It continues, moving in accordance to the following speech.

MONA

The truth, Heath! It’s time I get a devastating truth or I’ll use the glass and make one all myself!

HEATH

(while making love)

The story, the parable, of the… FIG! It goes back… a long, long time ago… way back… the time it takes for a little fig to become a big fig… back, back, back… before the fig… became… before the fig… was LAID!

In the beginning there was a woman. No man — not yet. No fig — not yet. Just woman. Man was absent at the time off doing something, somewhere, with someone. Naturally. (a hard thrust with next) Although not consumptively! Never consumptively!

LYLE

Owie!

MONA

SHHH! He’s telling me a truth! What’d she look like, tell me what she looked like?

                                    Heath stops thrusting.

HEATH

It’s a story. A parable. Imagine her as yourself.

MONA

Hideous and balding? Balding and hideous? That’s just how I want her.

                                   Heath begins thrusting.

HEATH

She wasn’t there yet, Mona angel. Not quite, but the baldness was… rooting. The repulsiveness… tilling.

MONA

Don’t tell me she was beautiful. I won’t hear it.

                                    Heath stops thrusting.

HEATH

Imagine her as yourself. As you were.

MONA

THAT DAME! I WON’T!

                                   Heath begins thrusting.

HEATH

(backtracking)

Baldness rooting, repulsiveness tilling, man off away doing, (another violent thrust) but not doing wholly!

LYLE

(a screech)

IT HURTS!

MONA

That screech! I swear if I miss my truth because of your singing…!

HEATH

Don’t come up Mona, angel. Nothing but truth is going on here.

LYLE

(a screech)

IT HURTS! WHY DOES IT…?!

MONA

How come I hear it then? In my own can, I hear it.

                                    Heath stops thrusting.

He covers Lyle’s mouth with his hands.

Though muffled, Lyle screeches painfully throughout.

HEATH

There, I shot it down! That’s the last of the birds! Don’t come up!

MONA

I hope you got it all this time. Unlike last time when you didn’t.

HEATH

(holding Lyle)

No worries; I got it all.

MONA

Good. You can go on now that the singing’s dead.

                                   Heath begins thrusting.

HEATH

AND WHILE MAN WAS AWAY… woman couldn’t keep herself at bay. She tried and tried to keep herself at bay as were her doctors orders. Or were they her preacher’s? Or were they her real estate agent’s — keep the value of their house high? Higher. Maybe it was all of theirs? Their singular request? Regardless, she tried and tried to keep herself at bay as were somebody’s orders surely.

MONA

They must’ve been.

                                    Heath stops thrusting.

HEATH

No doubt they were. Who would come up with those on their own?

MONA

Not me. I wouldn’t.

HEATH

Not you. You wouldn’t.

MONA

At least I don’t think I would. Why would I?

HEATH

Why would you? Back to the parable.

                                   Heath begins thrusting.

HEATH

So the woman — wanting to be kept at bay but refusing to be kept at bay — disregards the orders of the priest-doctor-real estate-man and begins to what… live? No. Experience? Maybe. Be? Yes. That’s the closest to it.

And she abandons the house, leaving it a vacant shell because remember man was off away doing something with somebody naturally but not consumptively.

The house is in solitude now. And the termites eat it away at the bone. Eat at the foundation of it to be exact. Eat at the value of it to be vulgar. And the man and woman see not of what has become of their house because they’re both separately but equally away off doing… Well, woman is only beginning to do at this point. I get ahead of myself! She only recently left the house!

                                    Heath stops thrusting.

HEATH

Are you following all this? I admit, this may be my most convoluted sermon yet as it’s my most convoluted story. I’m going to have to speed it up; I’m in need of a finish!

                         Heath’s thrusts quicken suddenly.

Lyle’s muffled cries occur much more frequently.

HEATH

(a quickened pace)

Leaving the house, the world is finally opened up to the woman or the woman is finally opened up to it. The world spread open and beckoning at the woman to come hither, or the woman spread open and beckoning at it based on whichever is spread and whichever is — how to put it — doing the implanting. Whomever. And all, ALL the whole wide world is at it: the singing birds, the stinging bees; the ceaseless weeds, the aging trees; the nitrogen, the oxygen; the peace keeper, the throat seeker; the water bath, the blood bath; the plumber, the politician. Ah, the plumber. Ah, the politician. Equally as handsome, wouldn’t you know. Who would have thought it? One in the same essentially. And the woman, fresh off the old termite-stricken plot — and keep in mind her husband is off away doing — spreads her legs wide for the world, for the plumber-politician, for the ALL of it! Or is it that the world, the

plumber-politician, the ALL of it, spreads its legs wide for her! Either way, I’ve got to finish soon. (faster speech and faster thrusts) And the waters of the world — the water bath and the blood bath — amalgamate with the clear and bloody waters of the woman. And months later, when the woman realizes what has happened — the mutual transaction that has taken place — what does she whisper in objection? The guilty…

MONA

The guilty pleasures are too guilty.

LYLE

(muffled)

THE GUILTY PLEASURES ARE TOO GUILTY!

MONA

The guilty pleasures are too guilty.

LYLE

(muffled)

THE GUILTY PLEASURES ARE TOO GUILTY!

HEATH

The guilty pleasures are too guilty. BUT…

MONA

It’s too late for her. Isn’t it? She’s realized it all too late.

HEATH

(even faster)

It’s too late for them: for the woman, the man, the termite-torn house, the all of the world, because from this torrid affair a seed has been laid.

MONA

A seed… has been… laid?

                       Heath thrusts as violently as ever.

                                      Lyle becomes louder.

HEATH

A fig has been made!

MONA

A fig… has been… made?

                             Heath thrusts more violently.

                                             Lyle screams.

HEATH

A FIG…!

MONA

No… No more truth.

                        Heath thrusts even more violently.

                                 Lyle screams even louder.

HEATH

HAS BEEN…!!

MONA

I WARN YOU; I’LL HIRE ANOTHER; I’LL HIRE ANOTHER TRUTH!

Heath thrusts even more violently.

                                     Lyle screams full on.

HEATH

MMMMMMMMMMMMMAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

LYLE

IT HURTS, IT HURTS, IT HURTS!!!

MONA

NO MORE, I SAID, NO MORE!!!!

                                               Mona rises.

Lyle is doubled over his can. He isn’t moving.

Heath, instrument in can, rests his head on Lyle’s back.

                                                Mona sees.

Long pause. She continues seeing.

MONA

(to self)

That smell… Salt… Lot’s wife… We’re stuck.

                                               Mona drops.

HEATH

(aside; to Lyle)

Lyle? … I’m sorry it hurt, but I hurt. You know how it gets into me so I have to get into you. To make it all bearable again. For a few more hours. Until I can cross the road, climb the fence, and come back. Leave my apartment in the apocalypse out there and come back home to you in here. And take it from the pit of myself and put it all into you. Everything. Every miserable thing. Every painful truth that has ever been felt, been touched. Put it all into you so I can part from you and the missus, alone again, to be filled with more. And cross the road, climb the fence, and come back home to you tomorrow. And tomorrow, and tomorrow. Cross the road. Climb the fence. Come back home and put it all back inside you. Take it from me and put it inside you. Somehow hoping that maybe… god willing… it’ll be the day you take a home in me. So we’ll be inside each other. Shelter from one for the other. So that no more can get in me. So that I won’t have to put anymore in you. … Does that make sense; why it must hurt you; why I must hurt you?

                                                    Pause.

HEATH

So that’s how you’ll have it? … Finally! Do you hear that? FINALLY I CAN END WHAT’S LONG BEEN ENDED.

Heath removes himself and pulls on his pants.

He moves to leave.

MONA

Don’t forget my cementation. Pour the bucket.

In tears, Heath grabs the bucket.

He pours the cement into her can.

MONA

Thank you. I think we’re done here.

                                     Heath moves to leave.

MONA

Wait! The sprout’s.

Heath stops.

HEATH

Who?

MONA

The… the… fig’s.

                             Heath grabs the second bucket.

He moves to the third can.

His head close to the can, he forces a deep smell.

He takes a moment.

MONA

Make sure to cover… make sure to cover… him up. Evenly, very evenly. We want him to grow strong and tall. We want him, we want the fig, to sprout.

Heath pours the cement.

He moves to leave.

MONA

You’re forgetting Lyle.

Mona rises.

MONA

Aren’t you?

Heath stops.

HEATH

(blank)

Forgetting him?

MONA

Does he not want his shelter anymore? Does he not want my convention?

HEATH

(the same)

Ask him.

Heath moves to leave.

MONA

Why’s that? You’re the man of many hats.

                                              Heath stops.

MONA

You don’t think you’ve outgrown them, do you? Think you actually deserve a crown? A plastic princess crown for a plastic fairytale ending? HA! Believe me, you haven’t surpassed your hats. Go on, I’ll hire another. How difficult can it be to hire another? HAT!

In a fitful rage, Heath runs suddenly to Lyle.

He wraps his arms around Lyle’s waist.

He attempts to free him from the can.

Lyle doesn’t budge.

Heath gathers himself, and tries to free him again.

Lyle doesn’t budge.

MONA

You semen-ted him in, did you not? Preserved him here with me, did you not? Isn’t that the salt I smell?

HEATH

What do you mean… salt?

MONA

I know, Heath. I know.

Heath gathers himself once more.

He strains with all of his being to free Lyle.

He collapses, exhausted and helpless.

MONA

Thank you for semen-ting him. For preserving us. Husband and wife. In the salt of your land.

HEATH

(to Lyle)

SHUT! UP! You love me. Come on. Budge for me! You love me!

MONA

It’s too late to budge. You semen-ted him in; you set him with me in your salt.

HEATH

I’D NEVER BURY LYLE LIKE I’D BURY YOU!

MONA

(ironic)

Ha-ha! I know THAT!

HEATH

(to Lyle)

Budge for me, Lyle. I love you. You love me. Budge for me.

MONA

All along you’ve both been pretending. Husband and Hat. Waiting for wifey to finally sink in over her head.

HEATH

WAITING FOR YOU TO DROP DEAD!

MONA

Ha-ha! There’s the truth; there’s your parable! And then what would you do? Skip away together? Penis in hand, hand in penis? Skip over the fence and prance off?! Leave me alone here like a pillar waiting for the sprout—fig—boy?! IS THAT IT?!

HEATH

HE’S DEAD; HE’S BURIED! GIVE HIM A PROPER NAME!

MONA

HE NEVER SPROUT; HE HAS NO PROPER NAME! HE WAS SINFUL SEED TOSSED ON SINFUL GROUND AND THAT’S ALL! THAT IS… ALL! Sinful seed… Sinful, sinful ground… Guilty sprout.

HEATH

(shaking Lyle)

I’m not sinful seed; you’re not sinful ground; I’m not sinful seed; you’re not sinful ground. Please budge for me. You love me.

MONA

You know, I thought we could tend to the sprout… Keep it close… Keep it secure… Instill in it some sturdiness… Watch it emerge from the womb of the world of sin and guilty pleasure to become something truly upright, reaching for the sun amidst all the other jovial filth… But Lyle wanted none of that; he wouldn’t even check it and he’s nearest to the gardening… Even worse, you cared less than him. And you were HIRED TO CARE! …You should look in his can now: Lyle’s, I mean. The one you cut into the back of so you could fit inside without his wife’s knowing. That one. You’ll see the only hat you ever deserved wearing is the one hat you could never wear. Construction worker. Filling Lyle up. But keeping Lyle still.

HEATH

No.

MONA

Semen-ting him with your love, while cementing me with your hate.

HEATH

Please… no.

MONA

You’d think a preacher would have known there’s no difference in the two? Now look inside and see what you’ve done!

HEATH

Mona… angel.

MONA

I am no angel. I’M NOT!!! Don’t you see?! I have to cut her in with the glass. (rips more hair out) I have to tear the demons out one by one. Just look in the can, Heath. Look at the fruit of your labor.

 

Heath rises.

He slowly looks into the can, knowing what he’ll find.

He sees.

MONA

Now leave.

Mona drops.

MONA

(swallowing wet cement)

Today’s… the… happy… day… But… how… will… I… suffer?

Pause.

Heath punches down into Lyle’s can.

He punches and punches, failing to break through.

HEATH

(a dying, bestial cry)

AAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Long pause.

Heath turns to escape.

His knuckles are dripping with blood.

He shuffles toward the fence.

HEATH

I’ll drip… drip all over the world… drip.

Heath struggles to crawl over the fence.

He falls.

He struggles again to crawl over the fence.

He falls.

He prepares himself for one more climb.

He doesn’t.

He moves away from the blood stained fence, back toward the cans.

He takes his place in the third can.

Pause.

 

HEATH

The fig hat; the seed hat; the Heath hat… The seed hat; the Heath hat; the fig hat… The Heath hat; the fig hat; the seed hat… …Guilty sprout… Guilty world… Guilty, guilty, guilty Heath… Oh, Lyle… My dear Lyle.

Heath reaches out for Lyle’s hand.

He cannot reach.

Lights fade slowly, as if a sunset.

END OF PLAY

 

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