Mr. Theatre Comes Home Different
The stage set of a living room. A table with a telephone and a vase of flowers on it.
(He enters with an open umbrella. He shakes the rain off of it and places it in a stand. He checks his watch, takes his coat off, looks around as if expecting someone. He ponders over the set and then, he sees the audience. He sits. He stares. He stands. He starts to leave and then turns around and comes back toward the audience. He flips the table out of his way, kicks the chairs over.)
Strike the set! Strike the world! My former life, gone! Everything stricken, struck, gotten rid of. Now, set the stage again for something nothing less than me: some man, a wound; an animal, with English. Here I am. I am come! Born from the wings, or somewhere in the back of the theatre. Alone. (He sees the telephone.) But whom have we here? Someone? (He picks up the telephone.) Hello? No one? Prop! (He throws the telephone aside. He notices a flower on the floor.) Speaking of nature which I was, and still am, and always will here is some that someone planted here. (He picks it up.) Good evening, flower. Did you grow today? Get some sun? Look at you, you lovely fresh-cut dying thing. Have you come to upstage me? (He eats the flower.) That tasted the way you would think a flower should. (He chews.) This last, I find a terribly suggestive remark. But I meant for it to suggest or augur nothing; beyond that of my darker purpose, which is, in fact, dark. Is, in deed, darker. But, between you, me, and the lighting, I should tell you, in an aside: whisper, whisper, whisper.
Gentle's all, my name is blank. And I have come and kicked things over. I have breathed badly. I will act quickly, entertain myself, and then leave. This is my character, as I would have you have it; and this, my interior life, as I would, for you, outwardly live it. (He kicks a chair offstage. Laughing.) But I I would like you to know I yearn.
Witness me yearn.
(On bended knee.) My love! my love! if you are out there: why don't you love me, and why aren't you out there? I should look up your old address. So as for us to enact the love scene that is coming. That is here. Now! Kiss my moving mouth. I am all afire, burning. (He purses his lips as if to kiss, closes his eyes, and rises to stand on the tips of his toes. He stands, so, and then opens his eyes and unpurses his lips.) By the way, the fire exits are located here and here, and in the event of a fire, or should you hear a fire alarm, or, should you see someone run screaming past you in flames, or, simply, should you panic, anxious, and seek to suffer alone, like an injured thing does, please use the doors, either there or there, and peaceably remove yourself. But not now, stay seated for now, for the climax if I can make it come is coming. Something climactic is nigh.
Here cometh the storm scene! Shaken by a teenage stagehand from a box up in the flies! Rise! Rain your fake rain and drown the fake world! Make the floorboards buckle! Come sideways, hail, sleet, serious weather! Ruin every wedding and parade! Mess up my hair, make my bones ache! Wrack, weather! Wrack!
But first, stop.
Not so fast.
Here comes the calm. The calm during the storm. Do you hear birds singing? I don't. And it's for me that they are not singing. No explanation is needed. But as for exposition: you should see certain parts of my anatomy. You should see the mess of bed I rise from in the afternoon, looking in a mirror to see the damage done in the night, checking myself for some rare infection and or new sore having come. Making sure ensuring that my hair and gums and face are all receding, leaving me left with only eyes leftover to stare from. And I stare. Hands in lap, I think of one Easter, one spring; me in a suit, clean; the world sparkling; hunting scenes on the dishes; the feet beneath the table. But enough talk of mirrors and of reflections of what once was but now isn't.
Where were we? I believe, over here. And in love, wasn't it? It was sweet, wasn't it? But now it's over, is it not? When I'm gone, I'll be gone. I wish the little life I lived tonight were different. Were more lived. But I am glad I ate that flower. Would that the world entire were a flower for me to eat. And would that my faked feelings could make yours truly genuine. But the death scene! I almost forgot. Not surprising. But, here, now: the end, at last.
Pretend I am dying. (He begins to die. He drops to a knee.) Pretend my life was wasted. (He dies more.) That I spent my time in this body on this earth dumbly. (He stops.) Pretend you loved me. (He stands.) I smell bad, and I am in a hospital. I am your mother. (He carries the table off- stage. Throughout the remainder of this paragraph he is striking the set.) Pretend I am your mother. That you loved me when little. That then you then stopped for some time, but have started up again, in time for me to die. Pretend it's hard to look. My eyes and breasts, nothing on my body looks the way it's supposed to look. You mother me. You stand there, pretend, and you mother your mother, who is dying. Or I am your child who cannot get his breath, as you stand above me, breathing. Or, I am imagine it you. Whoever I am dying. Pretend this, that this is not pretend. Pretend you are sitting there. And that this was good. Pretend I am crying. That you are crying. And that this is the end. I start to go. I don't look at you. It seems familiar. It seems resolved. (He retrieves his umbrella and opens it. It is held over his head and behind him, gracefully.) Pretend that this is over. That it will not go on, interminably. The end. People coming and going. Entering and exiting. Forever. (He drops the umbrella and comes downstage.)
Give yourselves a big hand.
You were lovely.
Snow starts to fall. We are in rapture. A bloodhound crouches near, there, by a freezing river, in a darkening wood. And your hands are cold. And our happy world is ended. Pretend.
(He begins walking toward the audience. Lights fade.)