Ten-Minute plays

Damned Fugue

 

DAMNED FUGUE
by
Paul Mullin

Characters:
    SOMEONE-- A man
    SOMEONE ELSE-- A man
    SOMEONE DIFFERENT-- A woman
    SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT-- A woman

 

SOMEONE:  This is a shotgun.

SOMEONE ELSE:  You are a hero.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  She is heroin.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  That is the story.

     (beat)

SOMEONE:  This is a shotgun.

EVERYONE ELSE:  -- kissed.

SOMEONE ELSE:  You are a hero.

EVERYONE ELSE:  -- missed.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  She is heroin.

EVERYONE ELSE:  --blissed.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  That is the story.

EVERYONE ELSE:  --sold.

    (beat)

SOMEONE ELSE:  This is a twelve-gauge pump-action sawed-off.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  You are the owner/operator.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  She is somewhere else.

SOMEONE:  That is the bottom line.

     (beat)

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  This is--

EVERYONE ELSE:  Life.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  You are--

EVERYONE ELSE:  Life.

SOMEONE:  She is--

EVERYONE ELSE:  Life.

SOMEONE ELSE:  That was--

EVERYONE ELSE:  Life.

     (beat)

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  This is a--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Hero--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Harrowing--

SOMEONE:  Shotgun--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Life she blessed you with.

SOMEONE:  You are a--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Sawed-off--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Heroin--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Pumping--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Missed-gauge--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Operator--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Somewhere else.

SOMEONE ELSE:  She owner-sold--

SOMEONE:  Bottom-line story.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  This is--

SOMEONE:  Do you?

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  You are--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Do you sing?

SOMEONE:  She is--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  do you sing now?

SOMEONE ELSE:  That was--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Do you sing now in the shower?

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Life.

SOMEONE (overlapping):  Life.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT (overlapping):  Life.

SOMEONE ELSE (overlapping):  Life.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Do you sing now in the shower of blood foamed bone and brain--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Heavy metal rain crashing up through your cranium--

SOMEONE:  Shattered--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Cranium through down crashing rain metal heavy--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Brain and bone foamed blood shower now sing!  You do.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Now you do, do you?

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  This--

SOMEONE:  You--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  She--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Was--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Is--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Are--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Is--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Was--

SOMEONE:  Shotgun--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Hero--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Heroin--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Story.

     (Rest.)

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Go....  Baby, go!

     (Beat.)

SOMEONE:  The writer was thinking of play he wanted to write called “The Septarchy” the day the window fell on him.

SOMEONE ELSE:  “Septarchy”.

SOMEONE:  “Rule of Seven.”

SOMEONE ELSE:  All day he was figuring significances of the number seven.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  But there were four horseman riding out of Harlem.  Four project buildings in the skyline to the north which seemed to stand out for him.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Darker somehow.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Riding in a row, same height, same features.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  He kept seeing them in the February wind mist like grim relentless riders.  Not really moving, mind you--

SOMEONE ELSE:  But closing in... as he went from vacant apartment to vacant apartment, popping out seventy-five pounds of framed glass from the sliding window tracks, mop squeegee swiping clockwork, then popping it back in.

SOMEONE:  They jammed.

SOMEONE ELSE:  All the time.

SOMEONE:  All day.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Relentless.

SOMEONE:  Who fitted these fucking windows?

SOMEONE ELSE:  They’re the worst.  Every fucking frame misaligned.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  No lunch but a slice and a can of coke.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Up all nights working a graveyard as hotel porter.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Aunt who’s a nun coming to see his play about abortion and dreams about nuns in lace lingerie--red, of course, bright blood red.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Oxygen.

SOMEONE:  Couldn’t get them back in without help sometimes.  Had to ask Big Al, the Puerto Rican super’s assistant who followed him keying him into the apartments, to help muscle them back in sometimes.

SOMEONE ELSE:  He thought about it.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  “What does that mean?”

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  “Four riders into seven.”

SOMEONE:  Four-thirty.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Last apartment.

SOMEONE:  Breeze through the living room.

SOMEONE ELSE:  On to the bedroom.

SOMEONE:  Clean the inside glass.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Then do the outside lean work.

SOMEONE:  Saving the bitch pop-out for last.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Pop it out.

SOMEONE:  Clean it.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Pop it in....  Pop it in!...  Pop the bitch in, fucker!   Don’t get weak.  Don’t let the arms go.  You fucker, you lose this window you’re fucked, y’hear?  You’re fucked.

SOMEONE:  Get it in.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Shit.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  The writer props it up on the ledge, and walks to the door to call Al in to help him.  He walks back towards the window.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  There’s a gust.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  There’s a crash.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  There’s glass everywhere.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Great, you broke the fucking window.  That’s got to be a hundred bucks easy.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Al’s freaking.

SOMEONE:  Al, why are you freaking?... What?

SOMEONE ELSE:  Oh shit, I’m bleading.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Dark.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Vein blood?
    Al’s freaking.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Al...

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Al...

SOMEONE ELSE:  Al!... 

SOMEONE:  Get me to a hospital.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Al.

SOMEONE:  We got to find out how bad I’m cut.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Take it easy.  It’s all right.  You got to get me to a hospital.  I don’t know where I’m cut

SOMEONE:  Could be bad, Al.  So I don’t want to lose too much, you know?  Got to stay in.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Can’t go out.

SOMEONE ELSE:  So just get me to a hospital.  Okay?

(Rest.
Someone comes center and kneels.  Someone Different stands over him from behind.  Someone Else approaches one side of the audience while Someone Else Different approaches the opposite side.)

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Ever wonder how to get the taste of dying out of your mouth?

SOMEONE ELSE:  Oh, come on.  Everybody dies.  All the time.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Did you get that?  That’s an important point.  Everybody dies all the time.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Don’t deny it.  You just did it.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  And you... just now.  What just went away in your eyes?

SOMEONE ELSE:  It happens.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  All the time.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Want to know how to get the taste of dying out of your mouth?  Okay.  I figured it out.  Take the barrel and point it at your face.

(Someone Different takes Someone’s chin in her hand and lifts his face.  On the next line, she puts her mouth to his.)

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Now put your mouth to it.  And... yeah... explore.  It’s got a shape.  It’s got a flavor.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Now run a hand down the length.

(She finds his zipper.)

SOMEONE ELSE:  Now wait a second.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Take it easy.

SOMEONE ELSE:  No need to rush it.  It’s all there in your hands and in your mouth.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  The shape.

SOMEONE ELSE:  The flavor.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  The trigger.

SOMEONE ELSE:  The last thing anyone truly experiences.

(Rest.
Everyone returns to their original places.)

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Baby, go.  You’re on.

(Rest.)

SOMEONE ELSE:  When the doctor pressed the needle of lidocaine into the writer’s face was the only real pain he felt from the shattered glass.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Like bliss.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Like heroin, he sucked the pain in.

SOMEONE ELSE:  It felt so good... real... like hell.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Feel it.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  You feel it.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  You’re alive.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  You’re alive.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  You feel it.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  You wouldn’t if you weren’t.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  A bargain.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Bliss.

SOMEONE:  His then future wife now soon to be Ex told the writer later--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  That after the she got the phone call from his boss saying he’d been in a window cleaning accident--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  She sat in the dark apartment for an hour and did nothing.

SOMEONE:  The writer wondered what took her so long getting to the hospital only twenty blocks away.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Years later the writer would have a really bad reaction to some really strong pot and had to be rushed to the hospital.

SOMEONE:  Thought he was dying insane.

SOMEONE ELSE:  Praying to himself.

SOMEONE (repeating underneath the following lines):  Be the hero of this....  Be the hero of this....  Be the hero of this....

SOMEONE ELSE:  But the words twisted, deteriorated.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT (sotto voce at first, then gradually crescendoing to dominate Someone’s chant):  Be thee here or this?...  Be thee here or this?...  Be thee here or this?...

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  The writer’s wife stood for a moment on the back porch of their triplex wondering if she should go along in the ambulance.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  After all what could she do to help?

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Everyone dies alone.

(Rest.
Someone Different steps forward.)

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Go....  Baby, go....  You’re on, baby.  Go.

(Someone steps forward.)

SOMEONE:   Why?

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Why?...  Baby.

SOMEONE:  I don’t love it.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  What?

SOMEONE:  The roar.  It just roars... all the time.  And I don’t love it.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Baby.

SOMEONE:  I’m out there singing about gang rape; I’m out there singing about dying--“Polly Wanna Cracker”.  And they got their lighters lit like it’s fucking “Freebird”.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  They don’t get it.

SOMEONE:  Right.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  That’s why you’re singing, right?

SOMEONE:  What?

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:   So why’d you become a rock star, asshole?  Isn’t that what this is about?  Jamming your fingers into narrow cherry minds?  You wanna preach to the converted, go write little self-important plays and put ‘em on in fringe theatres downtown somewhere....  But baby, you got to go now... you’re up.

(Someone steps forward.
Beat.
Someone steps back.  Then both Someone and Someone Different step back to join the other two.
Rest.)

SOMEONE:  This is a shotgun.

SOMEONE ELSE:  You are a hero.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  She is heroin.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  That is the story.

(beat)

SOMEONE:  This is a shotgun.

EVERYONE ELSE:  -- kissed.

SOMEONE ELSE:  You are a hero.

EVERYONE ELSE:  -- missed.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  She is heroin.

EVERYONE ELSE:  --blissed.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  That is the story.

EVERYONE ELSE:  --sold.

(beat)

SOMEONE ELSE:  This is a twelve-gauge pump-action sawed-off.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  You are the owner/operator.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  She is somewhere else.

SOMEONE:  That is the bottom line.

(beat)

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  This is--

EVERYONE ELSE:  Life.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  You are--

EVERYONE ELSE:  Life.

SOMEONE:  She is--

EVERYONE ELSE:  Life.

SOMEONE ELSE:  That was--

EVERYONE ELSE:  Life.

(beat)

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  This is a--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Hero--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Harrowing--

SOMEONE:  Shotgun--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  She blessed you with.

SOMEONE:  You are a--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Sawed-off--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Heroin--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Pumping--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Missed-gauge--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Operator--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Somewhere else.

SOMEONE ELSE:  She owner-sold--

SOMEONE:  Bottom-line story.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  This is--

SOMEONE:  Do you?

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  You are--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Do you sing?

SOMEONE:  She is--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  do you sing now?

SOMEONE ELSE:  That was--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Do you sing now in the shower?

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Life.

SOMEONE (overlapping):  Life.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT (overlapping):  Life.

SOMEONE ELSE (overlapping):  Life.

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Do you sing now in the shower of blood foamed bone and brain--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Heavy metal rain crashing up through your cranium--

SOMEONE:  Shattered--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Cranium through down crashing rain metal heavy--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Brain and bone foamed blood shower now sing!  You do.

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Now you do, do you?

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  This--

SOMEONE:  You--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  She--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Was--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Is--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Are--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Is--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Was--

SOMEONE:  Shotgun--

SOMEONE ELSE:  Hero--

SOMEONE DIFFERENT:  Heroin--

SOMEONE ELSE DIFFERENT:  Story.

(End of play.)


06/02/2014

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