Jeepers It’s a Cold Friday Afternoon at the Haikulodeon

Here’s this week’s heap of haikus:

===
In spite of the cold,
a bird sits in a tree and
sings its song of Spring.


Icy sidewalks dare
my hip replacement; take a
walk on the wild side.


Desire often hides
behind the structure of our life
seeking permission.

(Photo courtesy Kristina Rebelo)

Under marbled skies,
a sunrise so bright, even
the dock seems to cringe.

(Photo courtesy Kristina Rebelo)

Two chairs waiting for
someone to come through the door.
Godot doesn’t show.

(Photo courtesy Kristina Rebelo)


The end of the world
will always draw a crowd to
watch the damned fireworks.

(Photo courtesy Kristina Rebelo)


They were so poor that
his mittens were made out of
used coffee filters.


In Winter, the trees
are merely shelves for snowflakes,
biding time till Spring.


I walked through a field
to get to the main road, and
lost all track of time.


1950’s-ku:

Being grown-up meant
a clean, folded handkerchief
in your breast pocket.


Here is your chance to
flummox my expectations;
have dinner with me.


Most vulnerable
words whispered on the playground?
‘Be my valentine.’

in her pink slippers,
she dances for grand-pa, then
yawns and off to bed.

She was confusing
to most people because her
way WAS the highway.  


My heart imagines
your passionate love for me,
How long must I dream?

Oh my dear sweet love,
when you’re near me, my heart leaps
and I’m filled with joy!


His heart had grown old,
his spirit, weak and flagging,
Love had shut its door.


T’was love at first sight,
First, he tickled her fancy,
And then, so much more.


Outside my window,
furious snowflakes mingle,
fearful pigeons roost.

Life became harder
after Batman changed costumes …
The Lavender Knight?

(Photo courtesy Kristina Rebelo)

haiku trio:
He stared at her face,
searching for the smallest sign
that she forgave him.

She stared at the floor
wishing he would go away
for she felt ashamed.

When their eyes met, they
felt nothing but the sorrow
of a love that’s lost.


When Love passes through,
it does not leave a lot, just
a kiss and farewell.


Saturday Night Live!
Chevy fell off a ladder.
“Live from New York, it’s …”

(I was in the studio for that first SNL broadcast 40 years ago.  I was an NBC page for the entire first season and a half.  It is an experience I will always treasure.)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

****

Bonus material:   As promised, here is Act Two of The Carrot of Happiness.

Act Two  –  Scene One –  The Carrot of Happiness 

                  by Michael Tracy Smith  c) 1985

Scene: The Hippolyta’s Girdle Performng Arts Garage and Physique Center. With the house lights still up, SARAH enters from the back of the house. She quickly checks out the theatre before giving the high sign. RICHARD enters warily after her. After they reach the stage, the lights gradually fade completely out.

SARAH
There, are you satisfied? They’re not here. They must be on another break, now, come on. Will you hurry up? What’s the matter with you, you haven’t said a word the whole way back.

RICHARD
I can’t help it. I’m stunned. First of all, you’ve written a play which can only be described as an incredible simulation of my life as seen through the eyes of Bertold Brecht’s evil sister. Then after somehow escaping the Audition from Hell, I still manage to land the part. To say I’m confused would be an understatement.

SARAH
Well, thank you for that complimentary critical assessment of my work. Perhaps at the audition everyone simply recognized that you’re one extremely talented son of a bitch. (They both crack up)...Alright,  seriously, now I will admit that certain scenes do vaguely echo an occasional incident in your life, but whatchaya gonna do? It’s Art. And Art always reflects life. Doesn’t it?

RICHARD
You’re scary sometimes.

SARAH
What about you? I never thought you’d get out of the theatre.

RICHARD
Well, I guess I had to face facts…

SARAH
I thought they had you cornered, but then you leap-frogged over Nina and put that great head fake on Bernice…You were great!

    RICHARD
Oh, that … I thought you meant … God, It was like running the Steeplechase…I coughed up Phlegm for three blocks.

SARAH
I thought you were a goner, Richard.

RICHARD
I still might be.

SARAH
Don’t be silly. All of them have been here since early this morning. They’re just a little cranky, that’s all.

                      RICHARD
Sarah, what am I going to do?

SARAH
Stop worrying, I’ll talk to them. They’ll forgive you…eventually. Come on, you should be ecstatic. You got the part, you’re going to do the play and your mom’s going to lend you the money, to get you out of debt. I heard her say so myself.

RICHARD
Well, not quite, there’s a catch. Y’see, in order to get the money, I have to go live with her.

SARAH
Live with her? But…then…Richard…hey, Toledo’s one hell of a commute.

              RICHARD
Don’t you understand?  If I live with her, I don’t do the play, I get a job in an office. I become another middle-aged loser. The spitting image of dear old Dad.

SARAH
Oh, so that’s it … And you think being an actor is more worthy of you than working in an office.

   RICHARD
I guess I do.

SARAH
Then you’re an elitist pig.

RICHARD
Oh, thank you very much. But y’know what’s weird? Right now, the security of a corporate position is looking better and better. God, I never thought I’d admit that. The trouble is, my only other option is to lie to my brother-in-law, trick him into revealing the fact that he’s having an affair, and then go squealling to my sister, who’ll give me a cut of her extortion money.

SARAH
Come on, stop it, willya? You’re starting to depress me and I’m more optimistic than an Oscar Hammerstein lyric.

RICHARD
So, what should I do?

SARAH
You know what you should do. But, we’ll worry about that later. Right now, we’ve got other things to think about. For now, pretend you’re going to be able to do the play. Because there’s something I didn’t tell you.

RICHARD
What?

  SARAH
It’s a long story, but the upshot is, that you only got the part on the condition, that you work with Kateesha. Y’see, we really want to use her, but we felt her reading was a little weak, so I convinced them that it was a package deal and that you’d work with her and get her….

RICHARD
Communicative? …

SARAH
Right.

  RICHARD
Well, if I was going to be able to do the part, I think that given enough rehearsal time I could work on drawing a performance out of her.

SARAH
And that’s all fine and everything, but while you were gone, I got a call from our backer. She’s coming down to the theatre this afternoon, and she said she wants to have some input into the selection process and see how things are going.

RICHARD
Meaning?

            SARAH
It’s the old dog and pony show. We really need to impress her with the fact that we’ve got our shit together. So, please do this for me. I don’t want her pulling her money out at the last minute. God, we’re so close … we can’t afford to blow it now. I mean, call me paranoid, but I’m afraid someone told her what a disaster this whole day has been and she’s coming down here to give me the big kiss-off.

RICHARD
What happened to Oscar Hammerstein?

SARAH
Come on, seriously … I spoke with the others, and they know what’s at stake. They’ve agreed to be a little less disruptive and try to work more towards our common goal.

RICHARD
Where are they now?

                   SARAH
On a break…but a short one…Most of them just wanted to watch Kateesha finish her workout.

RICHARD
Y’know, I kinda thought she worked out. There’s something very healthy about her. I like that.

SARAH
There’s a lot more to her than what you’ve seen so far.

RICHARD
Oh, I’m sure.  Wait … She’s not gay is she?

  SARAH
Well … Rumor has it.

RICHARD
Damn. Why am I attracted to so many lesbians? No offense.

SARAH
None taken. Maybe you like strong women.

RICHARD
I do?

SARAH
Oh, Richard, wake up. You’ve surrounded yourself with them.

RICHARD
Okay, point taken … Why do you think that is?

SARAH
Obviously, you let them run your life.

            RICHARD
Well, I don’t know what to say about that..

SARAH
Be brave, my friend. Throw it all away. Risk everything. And stand up for yourself.

RICHARD
Okay … If that’s what you really want.

SARAH
In the meantime, what do you say? Will you help me out and work with Kateesha? Please?

RICHARD
According to you, I can’t say no. So, go get her, I’ll work with her.

SARAH
Great. But now remember, don’t try to hit on her. She’s taken. (She exits)

EDDIE (From the back of the house)
Hey, Richard … Hello? Richard, are you out there? Is that you?

    RICHARD
Eddie!!   What the hell are you doing here?

                         EDDIE
I followed you down here. You and your girl-friend.
(Indicating Sarah) I figured, what-the-hell, it couldn’t be any more boring than Wrench Out My Guts … Besides, I, uhhh, wanted to avoid running into your sister at intermission, know what I mean?…So, here I am. Hey, y’know what? when I got here, they weren’t gonna let me in…I had to show’em my god-damn badge. Then they let me in quick enough. (KATEESHA enters, carrying a cable chest expander)

RICHARD
Eddie, I’m a little busy right now.

EDDIE
I can see that…What do they do here, anyway? Sex therapy? Group sex? Real kinky stuff, huh? I thought you were in a real hurry to get down here…

RICHARD
Eddie, come on, this is a theatre…A spiritual haven for the arts, a place where traditionally man has gone when he is in need of an emotional and metaphysical catharsis, a transformation achieved through that holy ritual and religious experience we have come to call Theatre.
..(KATEESHA begins using the cable expander)  It’s also a gymnasium.

   EDDIE
What’re you bullshittin’ me? Listen, I know very well what this place is.  Y’know how I know? I met the whole damn technical crew outside. I tell ya, I never saw so many gals with key chains on their belts and a pack of Marlboros stuck up their sleeves.   As they say down at the stationhouse, I wonder what’s holding the Zuider Zee back … cuz all the dykes are here. 
(He laughs and snorts.)

RICHARD
Eddie, please…

EDDIE
I’m sorry, Richie, I just wanted to talk, that’s all…

RICHARD
Tell you what. You run out and get me a cup of coffee, and we’ll talk as soon as you get back.

EDDIE
All right. It’s not gonna help my achin’ back any, but how do you like it?

RICHARD
Lite and strong.

EDDIE
Hey, me too. Be right back.
(He exits)

  KATEESHA
Do we have time to rehearse?

RICHARD
The nearest deli is about twenty blocks from here. We should have plenty of time.

KATEESHA
Good.

RICHARD
Yeah.

  KATEESHA
Could you do me a favor first?

RICHARD
Sure, what?

KATEESHA
I had to quit right in the middle of my workout., so I didn’t have a chance to cool down properly, and I’m getting a little stiff. Can you massage my shoulders for a while?

  RICHARD
Absolutely. Come here.
(He tries to massage her shoulders, but is having a great deal of difficulty.)

  KATEESHA
Oh, here, just a second.
(She removes her sweatshirt.) There. How’s that?

    RICHARD
Oh My GOD!!

KATEESHA
What’s the matter?

RICHARD
Wow, you are … Built! 

    KATEESHA
Thanks.

RICHARD
I mean I’ve seen women at my gym lift weights, but none of them ever looked like you!

KATEESHA
I’m a professional bodybuilder. It’s taken a lot of hard work.

                         RICHARD
You must intimidate the hell out of guys.

KATEESHA
Yeah, but believe it or not, there are lots of people who like the way I look. I get hit on all the time by both sexes.

     RICHARD
Really? That must be tough when you’re only interested in women.

KATEESHA
Huh?

RICHARD
I said it must be tough when you’re only interested in women.

KATEESHA
Who told you that?

RICHARD
Uhh… You’re gay, aren’t you?

KATEESHA
No I’m not. In fact, I think you’re kind of cute…Now what about my massage?

RICHARD
Oh. Right. Umm, sure…Where should I start?

KATEESHA
How about on my trapezius?

RICHARD
Well, if you think there’s room..
.(He laughs nervously) How about the neck?

KATEESHA
Close enough.

(He begins to massage her neck and shoulders)

RICHARD
You are…

KATEESHA
MMM…What?

RICHARD
VERY solid. I didn’t know humans could be this hard. You’re like a rock.

KATEESHA
Thanks. I’ve got a contest coming up next week, so I’m in pretty good shape.

RICHARD
What made you decide to get into bodybuilding?

   KATEESHA
I was a scrawny, mousey little kid. With a father who would beat the tar out of me regularly. God, I hated him. He was big and fat and smoked smelly cigars. I’ll never forgive him for the way he treated my mom and all of us kids. When I was nine, he beat me with a strap for not cleaning up my room, and I vowed then and there to never give anyone the opportunity to treat me that way again. Of course, my mother, was the perpetual victim. So, I was determined to be exactly the opposite. That got me started going to the gym. Eventually, someone noticed that I had pretty good symmetry, and things just evolved from there.

(RICHARD stops the massage)

KATEESHA
Hey, why did you stop?

RICHARD
My fingers are very tired. They’re not used to softening granite.

KATEESHA
Come here.
(She puts her arms around him, and kisses him passionately. After a long while she releases him.) Thanks for your efforts. I think it helped.

    RICHARD
(Trying to catch his breath) You, you, you, you …

  EDDIE (Entering)
What are you doing? Yodeling?

RICHARD
EDDIE!!  Back so soon? Where’s the coffee?

EDDIE
I couldn’t find a deli. Richie, I am in excruciating pain. That muscle relaxant isn’t working, and my back is killing me.

KATEESHA
Maybe you need an adjustment.

EDDIE
Who are you, Vanna Schwarzenegger?

       RICHARD
Eddie, this is Kateesha Malloux. Kateesha, this is my brother-in-law, Eddie Clinton.

KATEESHA
Hi.

EDDIE
Well now,  you are something else … How long have you been on the juice?

          RICHARD
The juice?

KATEESHA
Hey pal, I don’t need steroids, I’m completely natural.

EDDIE
Whatdaya think, I’m stupid? Come on, a woman can’t get that way without a little help from the drug store. Y’know what I mean? A few male hormone injections and ba-boom…

KATEESHA
All right, big boy, I’ll show you what I take.
(She reaches into her gym bag, and pulls out a thermos) This is it, a special all-natural supplement. No salt, no cholesterol, lots of protein…I made it myself and I take it six times a day.

RICHARD (to himself)
Special food…special times…just like Dextor.

KATEESHA
What did you say?

RICHARD
Dextrose…and amino acids and Bee Pollen…That’s probably what’s in it, right?

KATEESHA
Yeah, that’s part of it and it’s good. Here taste it.
(She offers it to EDDIE)

EDDIE
Eh, no thanks.
(She offers it to Richard)

RICHARD
Well, if you insist.
(He takes a drink) Hey, that’s good. Tastes like Blueberry muffins.

KATEESHA
It all comes from this mix. I thrive on it.

RICHARD
And you invented it yourself? Have you ever thought of marketing it?

KATEESHA
I wouldn’t know where to begin. Now, would you like me to help you or not?

EDDIE
With my back? What are you going to do?

KATEESHA
A couple of years ago, I dated a chiropractor. He taught me a lot. I’ll give you an adjustment.

                  RICHARD
Don’t you need a table or something to work on?

KATEESHA
That’d help, but since we don’t have one, I’ll have to improvise.
(To EDDIE) Just turn around will you? (He does. She grabs him in a bear hug and lifts him completely off the ground. She leans back, stretching EDDIE’s back. EDDIE lets out a small sound, which is a combination of fear and pain. She gently lets him down)...How’s that?

EDDIE (tentetively)
All right…I guess.

(A beeping sound goes off. It is Kateesha’s watch.)

RICHARD
Oh, Not again. DEXTOR!

KATEESHA
It’s my watch. Feeding time.
(She hesitates before drinking.) I think I’d better go wash this out. Germs. (She exits)

(Eddie’s underwear is showing. It is pink and frilly.  He starts to tuck it back in.)

   RICHARD
Eddie, what’s that?

EDDIE
What?

   RICHARD
What are you wearing?

EDDIE
What do you mean?

RICHARD
Your underwear. It looked pink.

EDDIE
Oh, you know, Karen must have washed it with my red sweatshirt or somethin’.

  RICHARD
Really? Well it also looked kind of frilly, if you ask me…

    EDDIE
Well, it’s old and …

RICHARD
And of course, if I didn’t know better, I’d say it was silk…

EDDIE
All right all right  …There…(He drops trou)…See? Satisfied?

         RICHARD
Eddie, I’m very disappointed in you. You’re suppossed to be having an affair.

EDDIE
What?

RICHARD
Never mind…Come on now, put your pants back on.

EDDIE
Not yet.

RICHARD
What do you mean, not yet?   I don’t understand.

EDDIE
You don’t understand? What’s to understand? I’m wearing women’s lingerie under my clothes, all right? I enjoy it. Ya happy now?   I’m sorry if you’re disappointed, but I’ve got to be me.

RICHARD
Eddie, I can’t believe this. I mean, you’re a cop!   How long have you been doing this?

EDDIE
A couple of months.

RICHARD
How did…what’s the… I mean, uh …why are you doing this?

EDDIE
I’m not sure. It feels good, that’s all. My shrink says that if it makes me feel good, there’s nothing wrong with it.

RICHARD
When did you start going to a shrink?

EDDIE
About a month ago.

RICHARD
Why?

EDDIE
(He sighs) I was afraid I might be some kind of pervert or something. And I had a lot of anxiety about the guys at work finding out. But what really got me to the headshrinker was this weird, hallucination I had one day.

RICHARD
What happened?

EDDIE
I was working eight to fours and I’d just gotten home from work, so I went out to the backyard to work on the truck.

RICHARD
Yeah… and ?…

EDDIE
And I noticed the strangest thing. Somebody had tightened the screws.

RICHARD
The screws?

EDDIE
On the engine. I had loosened them up so I could take the engine out, but the hoist broke, so I just left it that way. At least I thought I did. I mean,I could swear I’d left them so loose, they’d practically fall right out. It was as if they’d tightened themselves. And I know I’m the only one who ever uses the truck. Karen thinks its a piece of junk, and the kids wouldn’t be caught dead in it. Then I went to replace the blown gasket, and it looked good as new. I was getting very confused. Engines don’t just fix themselves. I got the key and turned over the engine, and it fuckin’ purred like a kitten. I couldn’t believe it. Anyway, I figured that there had to be some screws loose, and if it wasn’t the engine, it must be me. So I went to one of the PBA shrinks and he said that sometimes cops who’re under alot of stress and pressure, need to find a way to feel a little more, what-did-he-call-it? Vulnerable, in order to take some of the pressure off. He also said some crap about the truck and what it represented, y’know, in terms of sex, but let me tell you something, he don’t know shit about trucks.

RICHARD
Why are you telling me all this now?

    EDDIE
The doctor said that if I want to get rid of my anxieties, I have to face up to them.

RICHARD
What about Karen? Are you going to tell her?

  EDDIE
Well, I’ve tried, but it’s been sort of difficult…One of the things the Doc has me working on is telling people in an appropriate manner…I haven’t been doing so well. But, he also says I shouldn’t be embarassed by people finding out… I’m doing better at that…But I’m still too terrified to tell Karen.

RICHARD
I know, but right now, she thinks you’re involved with another woman.

  EDDIE
Oh, damnit, I knew she’d find that other pair. I should have kept them in the squad car.

RICHARD
Don’t you think she would have found out eventually?

                        EDDIE
Maybe…

RICHARD
Come on Eddie, she told me you’ve hadn’t had sex in months, how long can you go on telling her that you’re just too tired, or stressed out. What are you afraid of?

EDDIE
I’m afraid I’m gay.

RICHARD
What, cuz you wear lingerie?

EDDIE
And I’m not attracted to Karen, anymore, sexually. I’m beginning to wonder if I haven’t always been gay, and just living a lie.

RICHARD
Eddie, I don’t think that …

KATEESHA
I’m back…

RICHARD
(To KATEESHA) Be right with you..(Whispering to EDDIE) I don’t think you’re gay, Eddie.

     EDDIE (Whispering back)
You’re not gay, how do you know?

RICHARD
It’s just a hunch. But even if you were, so what? It’s not something people are cursed with. It’s simply choosing to find love where it exists for you. And who knows, maybe it’s karmic. It could be that there are so many souls which desire expression in this physical world, that spiritual evolution has overridden the innate heterosexual desire to repopulate the species. Do you understand what I mean?

EDDIE
No…You lost me somewhere around the word hunch …

RICHARD
Oh. Well, never mind.

EDDIE
Karen’ll never forgive me if I’m gay.

RICHARD
Just tell her it’s her fault..
.(A pause) I’m kidding.

     EDDIE
I’m going to have to do something. I just don’t know what.

  RICHARD
Well, if you can’t talk to her, try doing something.  Like some kind of a small symbolic gesture to represent the fact that you realize the marriage isn’t working and you want to consider splitting up. Karen’ll understand, it will start a dialogue between you and things can proceed from there.

EDDIE
Except I wouldn’t know what to do.

                         SARAH (Entering)
Oh my god, who are you? What are you doing here?

EDDIE
I’m his brother-in-law.

RICHARD
Officer Clinton followed us here from the theatre.

  SARAH
Oh. Well, if you’d like to put your pants back on, officer, and have a seat over there, we’re trying to hold an audition.
(To RICHARD) What the hell is going on?

RICHARD
Well, we were about to start…

                         SARAH
No, don’t tell me you haven’t started yet … Excuse me, I’m going to go have a very optimistic anxiety attack!
(She exits)

    EDDIE
Umm, look, Richie, I better go. I can’t leave the kids stranded at the theatre. I’ll see you later, o.k.?

RICHARD
Sure, Eddie, we’ll talk some more, I promise.

          EDDIE
Right. So long.
..(He starts out, then comes back) Hey, y’know, I’ve tried a number of times, to get myself to talk to Karen about maybe, possibly getting a divorce or something, but I didn’t ever want to upset her. Y’know, with her epilepsy and everything. She’s such a fragile little woman, really. It’s funny, but in a way I think she needs me.

RICHARD
Well, you may have to let her discover how much she needs you in her own way.

EDDIE
Yeah, I guess maybe you’re right. See ya.
(Eddie exits)

RICHARD
So long.  (To Kateesha) I’m sorry about the delay, you know how families are.

KATEESHA
Uh-huh. I liked what you said about everyone finding love where it exists for them. It’s true, y’know.

RICHARD
Right…Well, let’s get to work, shall we? Time for your first lesson in acting. Now, you know what acting is, don’t you?

KATEESHA (Warily)
What?

RICHARD
It’s pretending, that’s all.

KATEESHA
Oh.  Sure.  I know that, but how do you ‘do’ it?

RICHARD
You make believe.

KATEESHA
Right, I understand that…But how?

RICHARD
Well, it’s really…sort of hard to explain. It’s like, a sophisticated system of lying…You lie to yourself…You say, “I’m not me, I’m somebody else”  And things like, “I used to love swiss cheese, but now I prefer cheddar.” And then you lie to yourself again, and say  “Oh yes, that’s true, I really believe that … ”  And then you just keep lying. About things like, for example: I’m not me, so I don’t walk like me, I’m mean, so I…walk … meanly.  (He demonstrates) and … I wear my watch on the other hand, and I don’t chew gum, I smoke cigarettes…unfiltered…down to the nub … You see what I mean?

KATEESHA
Yeah…But what if the character you’re playing does everything you do?

RICHARD
Then your lying becomes more intricate…You don’t even know you. And even if you did, you wouldn’t have acted that way. You say: “Boy this me’s nothing like me. But since I’m not me, I don’t even care.  I’m going to do what I do, just the way I’d do it.  Not like me, of course, more like…that guy in the mirror.”   But you see, even though you’re lying, you have to play your character with a lot of truth, or else no-one will believe you. And of course, you want them to believe you. That’s the whole point. So, you really have to tell yourself that what you’re doing is real, that you really feel that snowstorm in
July, or that soft breeze in the autumn moonlight, or that murderous rage towards your closest friend. The more real you can become, the better you’re lying. The best actors are the best liars, cuz they can convince you that they’re not lying at all.

KATEESHA
This is confusing.

RICHARD
Well, look at it this way. When you workout, you must lift some pretty heavy weights, right?

  KATEESHA
Sure. I can bench about 240-245 for reps.

RICHARD
Jeez…Well, anyway, before you lift, don’t you ever get an image in your mind, where you picture yourself doing the lift perfectly?  You visualize the proper form and technique, and even see how you’ll feel after you complete it successfully.

KATEESHA
Yeah, of course.

RICHARD
That’s what acting is. Only you take that image in your mind, and you show it to everybody. You demonstrate what you’re imagining.

KATEESHA
Give me an example.

RICHARD
O.k., tell you what. This time, I’ll play Althea, you play Grewdiact.

KATEESHA
Fine.

RICHARD
Now the script says in one scene she’s an aerobics instructor. So, she’d walk like an aerobics instructor.
(He demonstrates by walking with a too perfect bouncy posture and his arms curved out and down.) Notice my perky physical perfection…not at all like a phys. ed. teacher. (He makes a small adjustment. His manner becomes more butch, etc.). I would guess that she would wear her hair short, be very attentive to her make-up, because she wants to maintain her femininity, have a warm face with incredible cheekbones, big brown eyes, and a shy sort of smile that could charm the pants off of any dumbell especially the human ones. (He has, of course, perfectly described Kateesha.). Okay.  Get the picture? Think you could act like that person?

KATEESHA
I don’t know, maybe. Let me try being you now. I mean try being your character.

RICHARD
Okay …

    KATEESHA
You’re a poet, right?

RICHARD
Right. So How would I stand?
(She exaggerates Richard’s posture). Why like that?

  KATEESHA
I don’t know, repressed childhood? Physically needy?

RICHARD
Very good. How would I walk?
(She walks very oddly bent to one side) What is that supposed to be? Why are you bent over like that?

KATEESHA
You’re carrying a bunch of books and literary magazines. And you need your other arm free to smoke your pipe.

RICHARD
Oh…Nice imagination. I don’t think I’d smoke, though…What else?

KATEESHA
You’d be very serious about your poetry. And kind of funny about everthing else. And you’d be very neat and fastidious about your appearance. A kind face, though not quite handsome, with intelligent eyes and an expressive mouth.
(She has, of course, described Richard perfectly) But I don’t understand one thing.

                         RICHARD
What’s that?

KATEESHA
If you can walk around like this:
(She exaggerates her own posture)
Why do you walk around like this? (She copies Richard’s posture)

   RICHARD
Because this,
(Her posture) isn’t who I really am, it’s just pretend.

  KATEESHA
But what if this
(Her posture) was who you really were, and this (His posture) was just the pretense?

RICHARD
But this (Her posture) is only acting…

KATEESHA
And all the world’s a stage.

  RICHARD
And all of us are merely players. Okay, you got me.
(They embrace) You are the most incredible woman I’ve ever met. (They kiss.)

SARAH (Entering)
AAAAHHHH …

     RICHARD
Sarah!

SARAH
Richard!  What are you doing? Did I give you the love scene to rehearse? I didn’t mean to.

RICHARD
No, we were…ummm…improvising.

SARAH
Improvising? Can I speak to you for a moment in private?

RICHARD
Sure.

(They cross downstage)

  SARAH
What the hell do you think you’re doing?

RICHARD
What’s the matter?

SARAH
Do you know who this is?

RICHARD
Certainly. You introduced me, remember?

SARAH
I also told you she was taken, remember that?

RICHARD
Yeah, but…

SARAH
She happens to be Hilary Asterbrook’s girlfriend.

RICHARD
Who’s Hilary Asterbrook?

SARAH
Our Financial Backer!  The woman who is optioning our show for Broadway. The woman who will be arriving here any minute to oversee the final selection process …

  RICHARD
Oh … her.   But …

  SARAH
Yes, Her … And what is Hilary Asterbrook going to find when she enters our humble little theatre? Her lover kissing someone else … And not even someone of the same sex for crying out loud …Noooooo, she’s going to see her lover kissing a man … and it’s not even in the script!   Thank you very much … I thought I could trust you. I thought you were my friend. You’re just another horny hetero trying to get his rocks off.   I think its all in very bad taste.

RICHARD
Sarah. Wait a minute. Slow down. I didn’t make a move on her. She made a move on me.

SARAH
Right. Typical male reaction. Blame it on the woman.

  RICHARD
Sarah, come on, snap out of it. It’s me, Richard … She came on to me.  I swear.

SARAH
She did? Really?

RICHARD
Yeah. I mean, I took advantage of the opportunity, and I’m really attracted to her, sure, but I wouldn’t have done anything to jeopardize the show. You’ve got to believe me.

SARAH
Alright.  I believe you.  Damn.

RICHARD
What’s wrong?
SARAH
Hilary Asterbrook is probably the most jealous woman north of Antarctica. She can sense even the most microscopic deterioration of affections.

RICHARD
You’re exaggerating.

SARAH
No, I’m not. The woman who introduced us, was her lover once, they broke up on a Tuesday, because Hilary FELT that this woman was going to buy the Village Voice the next day.

RICHARD
So?

SARAH
Hilary somehow KNEW she was going to peruse the Personals Column in search of a little fling…She simply sensed it. Spooky, huh?

  NINA (Offstage)
Sarah!  Ms Asterbrook is here!

SARAH
Oh, God … I’ve got to go meet her. We’ll start the call-back as soon as we’re all settled. And please try to resist any further advances.

RICHARD
I’ll do my best.  (sighs)  Word of honor.

  SARAH
Oh god, please don’t let her find out about you guys.
(She exits stage right)

KAREN (Backing on from stage left)
Listen sister, keep your hands off my butt … I don’t care who you think I am.

RICHARD
Karen!!  (To Kateesha) What do you know, it’s my sister. (To Karen)  Hi, how are you? Is the show over so soon? Where are Mom and Aunt Louise?

   KAREN
They’re still in the show. I snuck out in the middle. Now I’ll never know how Haberdasher’s Holiday turns out. Tell me, does he ever get to go on the holiday?

RICHARD
Well, it’s a twist ending, but, yes he does…and, hold onto yourself, he also marries the servant girl.

KAREN
No!

RICHARD
Yeah. And now that I’ve told you the ending, why did you leave in the first place?

   KAREN
I had another great idea how we could help each other.

RICHARD
(To Kateesha) This won’t take very long. Why don’t you read over the final scene.

KATEESHA
Sure. I’ll be in the green room. It’s a great chance for me to start lying about everything.
(Kateesha exits)

     KAREN
I like the way that woman thinks…Whoever she is.

RICHARD
Sorry, I’ll introduce you later. Now, what’s your idea?

KAREN
It concerns Eddie.

  RICHARD
Really? He was here earlier y’know.

KAREN
That little sneak!!  How dare he leave the kids all alone in a big theatre by themselves.

RICHARD
Karen, they’re not exactly alone.

  KAREN
Forget it, what did he say? Did you pump him for information? Did he tell you who the little tramp was that he’s having an affair with?

     RICHARD
No, Karen, as a matter of fact he didn’t. But he did say that he had been thinking about asking you for a divorce, but he was afraid it would upset you.

KAREN
Upset me? That idiot!

RICHARD
He thought if he upset you, you’d have another seizure.

KAREN
Christ almighty, I haven’t had a real seizure in ten years.

RICHARD
I knew it.

KAREN
That shithead … He should have known I was lying…

RICHARD
Thank god, now I don’t have to listen to you hatch another one of your schemes.

KAREN
Hey, you’re right. I’ll save it till I really need it. Maybe I can get back in time for the finale.

RICHARD
Only if you hurry.

KAREN
I’ll take a cab, I can probably afford it now. See you later, Richard.
(She exits)
(SEGUE)

KATEESHA (Re-entering)
There’s a lot of commotion out there…

SARAH (Re-entering)
(To RICHARD) She’s here. Now, don’t panic, everything’s going to be fine. She’s sitting up in the lighting booth. And I made Bernice swear not to say a single word to her. Were you able to work any more on Kateesha’s acting?

  RICHARD
A little bit. Nothing specific.

SARAH
Maybe it’ll be enough. Just don’t do anything to make Hilary jealous.

BERNICE (Sweetly from the lighting booth)
Excuse me, Sarah. We are ready up here whenever you are.

SARAH
Thank you, Bernice.
(Introducing Richard and Kateesha to Ms Asterbrook who is seated out front. )  This is Richard Walsh and Kateesha Malloux, who don’t know each other and are just now meeting for the first time. They will be reading a scene from The Carrot of Happiness. (She backs off-stage)

  KATEESHA
What the matter now, have I hurt your feelings?

RICHARD
No.

KATEESHA
Of course you deny it, because you don’t know what feelings are…I’m talking about real feelings, James, deep, knife in the gut sensations, the pain and fear and joy and excitement that make you want to tremble all over till you want to burst. Not some high-brow poetic exercise that you’ve ordained to call feelings. I’ll bet you right now, that you’ve never felt anything in your life.

RICHARD
Yes I have.

KATEESHA
Oh sure, you cry at old movies, but that doesn’t count. I’m talking about the fact that you’re 35 and you’ve never felt the flow of blood in your veins that rushes through you with such force that it almost knocks you over. Can’t you understand? I’m talking about slammed up against hard concrete, your insides bouncing on a trampoline, real, vivid, deeply felt multi-layered experiences, not some cheap theatrics, or literary sleight-of-hand…

RICHARD
That’s a very interesting use of imagery.

KATEESHA
Will you please stop being a poet for one minute?   Boy, you get me riled up. I just don’t see how you can live your life like this. The finite actions and the fuzzy ambiguities of life are all the same to you. They’re all chances to distill experience down to imagery.  For you, all the whys and wherefores of life can be summed up by a butterfly landing on a temple bell. But damnit, a poem can’t represent life.  The yearnings and longings of even one person’s heart are more subtle and varied than that. Don’t you see, James, our feelings, our dreams, fly up, held aloft by the fragile feathers of angels, and these unintellectual hopes and wishes defy all your simplistic attempts to reason them out. They carry the power to move us, and they must be felt ere they come crashing back to earth. It is these dreams that have eluded you your entire life, because you have never claimed them as your own.

RICHARD
You are the only woman I’ve ever really cared for.

KATEESHA
I know, and what troubles my heart is the fact that you may never know how skillfully you have avoided taking the action that you truly feel.

                         RICHARD
Oh hell…wait a minute, This is ridiculous!  I’m sorry, I apologize … But Sarah, are you going to have this character of mine speak up and take some kind of action or not? Or does this powerful woman just harangue at him for two full hours? What kind of play is that? Isn’t there any moment when he finally wakes up and says enough is enough? When does he take back posession of his own soul? I been waiting to see how you ended things for him, in the hope that maybe it would give me a clue as to how to handle my own life. But so far it’s been a big disappointment. Where’s the catharsis? He is dominated by this woman for the entire play, and as near as I can figure, he never changes. Is that the statement you’re trying to make? Because it’s awfully cynical and depressing. What kind of message is that? People must have hope that they can change their lives. They must be reminded that at any time they can assert themselves and live the life of their own choosing. Obligated to no-one for their own happiness. And I choose to do that for myself right now. 

(RICHARD grabs KATEESHA and kisses her.)

SARAH (From offstage)
Okaay …That’ll be all … (Trying to break off the kiss) Thank you very much!!

RICHARD (Coming up for air)
No, that’s not all. Sarah, I’ve decided to fight for this part, and one way or another I’m going to do it.  Ms Asterbrook, forgive my lapse in protocol.  Sarah is a wonderful playwright.  I’m just having a very weird day.  (To Kateesha) And you were pretty wonderful too.  What did you do?

KATEESHA
I guess I’m a quick study.

RICHARD
Weren’t you nervous?

           KATEESHA
Not a bit…That’s me lying.

RICHARD
I couldn’t tell. Welcome to the theatre.

SARAH (re-entering)
(Shaking KATEESHA’S hand) Very nice work. (To RICHARD) I’m going to kill you. (To HILARY ) What did I tell you? ChemistryTHEATRICAL Chemistry!  Yup …

BERNICE (from the booth)
Excuse me, Sarah. Ms. Asterbrook would like to meet with the production staff in the green room.

SARAH
I’ll be right there.
(To RICHARD) You had to pick now to stand up for yourself.

RICHARD
Sorry. Oh, by the way, where’s Dextor?

SARAH
What?

RICHARD
Dextor?

SARAH
Gosh,  I haven’t seen him since we got back.

RICHARD
Me neither.

SARAH
Of course, I’ve been a little preoccupied.  I’ll have Nina go look for him. (She exits)

      RICHARD
Cripes, if it’s not one thing…

MYRNA (Offstage)
Yoo, hoo, Richard.

  RICHARD
It’s another… Oh hi mom!

MYRNA (enters followed by LOUISE and KAREN)
Now do you see what I mean Louise about this being in a perfectly awful neighborhood…Hello Richard.

LOUISE
I was more shocked by the rudeness of that cab driver. I don’t find that sort of thing funny at all. He certainly could use a shave and haircut. And I would have told him that, if he had spoken any English.

MYRNA
Yes, that was a shame, I wanted to find out what they call those round wooden beads he was sitting on…

RICHARD
Mom, Aunt Louise, Karen …  I thought I was meeting all of you at the restaurant. (Whispers to Karen) Did you get back in time for the finale?

KAREN (Whispering back to Richard)
In more ways than one.

LOUISE
Your sister and I have been stranded. We didn’t know what to do, so Myrna suggested we come down here. I must admit, I was kind of hoping I could see where you do your plays.

RICHARD
Actually…

KAREN
How can you all be so pleasant? I’m so pissed off I could spit.

MYRNA
Well, you’re right dear, Eddie never should have done it.

LOUISE
He’s just been impossible today.

KAREN
I can’t believe it. What a shithead. I’m telling you, Richard, it was an amazing coincidence. A real act of God. That’s right, God meant for our show to end precisely when it did, so we could get out in time to see Eddie go driving by. The bastard wouldn’t stop to pick us up. But what really makes me crazy is that the kids were with him. I swear, they’re automatons or something. I mean, what did he tell them? Louise and I were staying in the city? I know, Let’s play a game, called Forget Mommy … Boy, I tell you, that idiot. Where is he when I need him? For Chrissakes, what are we gonna do?

LOUISE
I guess we’ll have to take the train. I hate the train. The cars are always so filthy, and you don’t always get a very nice class of people on them.

MYRNA
I think I have a train schedule in my purse…Yes, here you go.

                         KAREN
Let’s see, there’s one leaving Penn Station at 7:48 getting in at 9:18.

LOUISE
That’s the one that stops at every station. Isn’t there any other train we could take?  Aren’t there any expresses?

        KAREN
Not on Saturday. And the next one after that is the 8:33. Damn that stupid bastard.

LOUISE
There probably won’t be a bar car either.

RICHARD
Mom, Karen, Aunt Louise. I’d like you to meet someone. This is Kateesha Malloux. Kateesha, this is my mother, my sister and my aunt.

(Everyone exchanges pleasantries.)

   RICHARD  (Continuing)
Kateesha’s going to be playing opposite me. I hope.

MYRNA (Disappointed)
Oh, you’re not thinking of doing that play are you? How can you afford to?

RICHARD
I can’t just yet. But I AM going to do the play. I have to.

MYRNA
It would be so nice to have you around the house again…

LOUISE
I don’t think it’s such a good idea, Myrna.

MYRNA
You don’t?

LOUISE
Of course not. He’s a young man, with his own life to live, why should he want to hang around with an old fogie like you? Now don’t get me wrong dear, you’re a lovely person, and all, but Richard is all grown up now, he’s not a child, that’s all I mean to say, he’s an adult.

RICHARD
Thank you Aunt Louise.

MYRNA
Is that how you feel, Richard?

RICHARD
Yes, Mom, it is. I appreciate your offer and I still love you and everything, but it’s time I took what you and dad have given me, and build my own life. I can’t come live with you. My life isn’t in Toledo, it’s here, where my dream is. Though I’ll admit I don’t know how I’m going to get the money to survive. But I will. And I’m sorry that you’re so lonely, but you don’t have to be you know, you just have to make the effort to meet new friends and look at new possibilities.

        MYRNA
But I had it all planned out. It would have been so nice.

RICHARD
Mom, wait a minute…Aunt Louise, would you consider moving in with Myrna?

LOUISE
Well, I don’t know, I might…

MYRNA
Louise, I thought you hated Toledo…

LOUISE
I do…But we’ve known each other too long to let a little something like that stand in the way.

MYRNA
Oh, that’s wonderful.

  KAREN
Aunt Louise, would you be willing to let me use your apartment after you move in with Mom? Because it looks like this divorce is going to happen a tad sooner than I originally planned.

LOUISE
Well, goodness, I guess so, dear.

RICHARD
This is all coming together rather smoothly. Except for my finances, of course.

KATEESHA
How about if we go in as partners in marketing my protein powder?

RICHARD
That’s a great idea, I’d love to, but we’d still need seed money to get it off the ground. Plus I need to pay off my debts first.

MYRNA
Why is everybody looking at me?

LOUISE
Myrna, stop being so cheap for god’s sake. This is your son’s life we’re talking about. What are you hesitating for?

MYRNA
I’m afraid I simply couldn’t afford it. It would be an awful lot of money to just give you. I mean, you don’t know when you could pay me back do you?

RICHARD
No, I don’t.
  You’re going to have to take a gamble on me.

   MYRNA
I’m so afraid I’ll wind up all alone and I won’t have anything left.

LOUISE
Oh dear, it’s all right. First of all, let me say this. When I move in, I’ll carry my own way as far as expenses are concerned. And secondly, I am more than willing to invest in Richard’s future. I’ll have my lawyer give you a certified check for whatever you need, first thing Monday morning.

RICHARD
Aunt Louise, you don’t have to do this. I mean, I appreciate your offering, but I really don’t think…

KATEESHA
Richard, your aunt is making a beautiful gesture.

RICHARD
I know she is.

KATEESHA
Well, smile and say thank you.

RICHARD
(Smiling) Thank you.

LOUISE
You’re welcome, dear. Of course, there is one condition.

RICHARD
Uh-oh… 
(He cringes in anticipation.)

                         LOUISE
If doing this play’s what you want, do it with all your heart.

RICHARD
Thank you Aunt Louise, I will.

  LOUISE
And…

RICHARD
Yes?…

LOUISE
Will you get tickets for your mother and me? She really needs to get out of the house more.

RICHARD
Not a problem.

LOUISE
And don’t worry. I’ll cover her eyes during the filthy parts.

  SARAH (re-entering)
Allright, nobody move!  Ladies and Gentleman,it gives me great pleasure to present to you, our distinguished benefactor, Hilary Asterbrook!

(HILARY Enters. She is short, with glasses, mousey brown hair and is a physical wreck, weighing all of 95 pounds.)

HILARY
First off, let me congratulate you, Mr. Walsh.

RICHARD
Thank you.

HILARY
And secondly, Kateesha…girl, I knew you could do it.

(KATEESHA runs to her, and they hug)

HILARY (Continuing)
You’re the best twin sister, a women could hope for.

SARAH, RICHARD (and everyone else)
TWIN SISTER?!!

  HILARY
Fraternal.

                         NINA (Offstage)
Sarah?

SARAH
What, Nina?

NINA (Offstage)
I found Dextor. He’s been asleep. We must have over-medicated him. .

RICHARD
You guys…Where did you find him?

  NINA (Offstage)
In the makeup cabinet. Bernice is going to rinse him off in the whirlpool.

SARAH
I’d rather not be here for that.

RICHARD (Picking up bag of dog food)
Me neither. So why don’t you all join us for dinner…Karen’s picking up the tab.

   SARAH
Karen?…

KAREN
It’s okay with me. We’ll let Eddie worry about it when his American Express bill comes in. For right now, Fuck ’em. Sorry mom…

MYRNA
Richard, there’s just one other thing: What if the play flops?

RICHARD, KAREN (and everyone else)
MOM!!

     LOUISE
Myrna, it’s not the play, it’s the dream that counts. For god’s sake, let your children have their dreams.

RICHARD
Wow, look at the time. Come on, we’ve got to hurry, We don’t want them to give our reservations to somebody else.

(As they exit, we hear Dextor barking happily and splashing about, as the lights fade out.)

     CURTAIN

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