Post Road Magazine #28

The Sluts: A Play

Ben Merriman

CHARACTERS

A, an adult human

B, an adult human

(The packed-up living room of an apartment: cardboard boxes and packed bags, a futon draped in a white sheet, two simple chairs and a table. An ashtray on the floor. Clothing draped over the chairs. A and B sit on the futon naked, wrapped in ancient quilts. No sound from the neighboring apartments: it is the dead of night.)

(A stubs out post-coital cigarette.)

A: Well, mission accomplished.

(B stubs out post-coital cigarette.)

B: Mission accomplished.

A: Do you want to go?

B: No, I don't have to leave for a while yet.

A: No, do you want to go again?

B: I can't do that for a while yet, either. (pause) What will you do when I'm gone?

A: I'll go to bed.

B: No, I mean, what will you do when we're apart?

A: What did I do before? We've barely been together.

B: OK, what will you do tomorrow?

A: Tomorrow? Fuck. . .

B: Fuck?

A: Fuck tomorrow.

B: Fuck tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

A: Fucking creeps from day to day.

B: Fucking creeps? (ingratiating) I'm not a creep, am I?

A: No, I mean—fuck, forget it. (pause) Do you want to go again?

B: Maybe tomorrow.

A: I'm leaving tomorrow.

B: Maybe we could talk? Can I ask you a question?

A: That's a manipulative question. . .

B: Do you think I'm a slut?

A: If you are, then I am.

(B looks glum.)

A: Well, what is a slut?

B: Ah, the old questions.

A: The old answers: a slut is me, after two drinks.

B: Or me after two lines—

A: Or one affectionate remark—

B: Or you after a catty one. (pause)

A: Fine: a slut is someone with a short memory and a good appetite.

B: I could eat, what do you have?

A: No, I mean—

B: I know, I know, but I have a fast metabolism.

A: Not so fast, it seems.

B: (ignoring A, begins to open a box) What do you have to eat?

A: Don't open that!

B: Why not?

A: Not mine.

B: Whose place is this?

A: Not mine.

B: This isn't yours?

A: No, not mine.

B: Well, I'm still peckish. (Gives A a peck on the cheek.) What do you have?

A: A plane ticket for tomorrow.

B: Tomorrow.

(pause)

A: Do you want to go again?

B: I can't yet. If I could sleep I might. . .

A: Well, then, do you want to just go?

B: My pants aren't dry yet.

A: Why are your pants wet?

B: Remember, you—

A: Oh, right. (Lights a cigarette.) (pause) Dante's second circle is a slut tornado.

B: Such contorting! Yes, please. (Lights a cigarette.) So this, have you done this before?

A: What's this?

B: This.

A: This! Oh, yes, yes. Always this.

B: Why?

A: A slut is a person who doesn't need a reason for this. (stares off vacantly)

(pause)

B: What do you see on the wall?

A: Naked bodies. (pause) Let's take a picture.

(A takes out a cameraphone. A and B contort to fit in the frame.)

B: Send it to me?

A: What's your name? You're in my contacts somewhere.

B: You don't remember?

A: I'm not the sort of person who remembers, remember? (Notices ashes spilled on lap.) Shit, I forgot.

(A and B stub out their cigarettes.)

B: What do you remember? Tell me something?

A: I hate this part of this. (pause) Can't you go again?

B: I can't yet, I'm delicate. Maybe if you're nice to me?

A: I thought you were going to leave. (pause) Rub yourself?

B: Delicate, remember?

A: Well, then, tell me something?

B: Tell you what?

A: Tell me about the first time you did this? In detail?

B: It was in Sedan. . .

A: A sedan?

B: The town was called Sedan, it was in a truck. There was such a wind that everything was obscured by dust. After we were done we had to wait until the wind died down. There was a pennant on the antenna and it was being abraded away to nothing.

A: I know the feeling.

B: Yes, that did take awhile, I am slow sometimes. (pause) Afterward I scraped some of the dust into a bottle, it seemed so special that I wanted to bottle everything up for later, the dust, the truck, him. A him or a her? (pause) I don't remember.

A: (disappointed) Don't remember?

B: Yes, a slut after all. (pause) It all goes to dust so fast. What about the first time you did this?

A: It was a man, pale and thin. I made him crawl to me. (pause) I dried him out entirely. A withered husk.

B: A husk.

A: I like husking, but the husks crackle underfoot afterward, they dry out but then they don't blow away.

B: My pants aren't dry yet. (pause) Why do you—did you—like me?

A: There's something altogether pathetic about you.

B: (pathetically) Pathetic?

A: It's admirable. A person does enough of this and they become hard, but there is something soft about you—

B: Hey!

A: A sustained capacity to be wounded is admirable.

B: You're wounding me.

(pause)

A: I just like to scratch a little to see if there is some sap that oozes out.

B: Sap? I think I'll go.

A: Your pants aren't dry yet. (pause) Why do you—did you—like me?

B: You make me hot.

A: That's all?

B: That's a fragment of it. (pause) Clothes dripping.

(A and B light cigarettes. Silence.)

A: Talk?

B: My tongue is broken.

A: Go again?

B: My limbs are melted.

A: Well, can I talk?

B: As long as you want.

A: See the pale flaring on the wall? Tomorrow already. For me each day a new creation; for you each day a new hurt. (pause) That's why I liked you, each day a new hurt, and every old hurt forgotten. See? All mine, for a time, and now not mine. (Examines B's body under the quilt) The wine blotches I slapped into your skin are already fading.

(pause)

B: Sorry, what? Seeing your face in the sunlight makes me deaf.

A: Nothing happened.

B: But the picture?

A: Pics, and it didn't happen.

B: Someone will remember. (pause)

A: I might go.

B: Go again?

A: No time.

(A begins to dress.)

(B rises as though to dress.)

A: Stay.

(B sits.)

B: But it's not my place. (pause) Can I take one more cigarette? (pause) To remember you by?

A: (smiling) You understand!

(A gives B a cigarette.)

(A exits with roll-on bag. )

(After a pause, B lights the cigarette, then rubs self under the quilt.) (B licks hands and fingers with increasing gusto.)

B: Sap from a green husk.

END



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