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Tiny Play #5/100 (No Breakfast)

February 6, 2010

SETTING: A kitchen table and two chairs in a crappy apartment belonging to the recently deceased.  It is the wee hours of the morning.  There are a lot of half-packed boxes around, and the table is strewn with photographs: some in old albums, most in those envelopes that photos come in from the developer or just in haphazard piles.  There is also a cruddy old tape deck and an assortment of audio cassettes that appear to have been recently dredged out of a dusty crawl space somewhere cluttering the floor.

AT RISE: IAN and JAKE are looking through the photographs.  IAN has a new album in front of him, wrapped in impenetrable plastic, which he is making his sixtieth futile attempt to penetrate.  JAKE is flipping absentmindedly through an envelope of pictures, and concluding a tirade which IAN is almost certainly not fully absorbing.

JAKE: Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to come out as a fucking…Libertarian or anything; it’s just like: Holy shit, I’m going for my Masters in Political Science and I don’t have any fucking clue what’s like the best possible way to organise human beings en masse — so anyone who thinks they do pretty much just scares the shit out of me.  Fuck.

Okay, Ian, what am I looking at?  This is like an entire envelope of blurry tree pictures.  I’ve been staring at them for like a million hours.

I feel like I’m high.  Is that possible?

IAN: No.  What kind of trees are they?

JAKE: I don’t know.  Green ones.

Maybe it’s just like, the old dusty photo chemicals penetrating my ocular membranes or something.  You don’t feel high?

IAN: No, Jake, I don’t.

Pine, spruce, deciduous?

JAKE: I don’t know.  Blurry.  Here.

He passes the photos to his brother.

Is it possible that we’ve just smoked up so much this week that now I feel conspicuously not high?  Is that a thing?

IAN: Probably, if it’s happening to you.  Anything you ever feel has almost certainly been felt by like 95% of the human population throughout the course of history.

JAKE: Oh.  Yay.

IAN: Yeah.  Comforting, isn’t it?

These are tamaracks.

JAKE: What?

IAN: Tamaracks.  The trees.  This is up north.

JAKE: How can you tell?

IAN: Because this blur is me.  My stupid yellow jacket.  God.  I totally forgot about my yellow phase.  So fucking obnoxious.

JAKE: What are you talking about?

IAN: We went on this like camping trip, adventure, whatever when we were 16.  And you know how I went through those colour phases?

JAKE: Yeah, I guess.

IAN: Yeah.  16 was like, the Summer of Yellow.  Oh my God.  I found this jacket, this like rain slicker at the army surplus store?  It rained like twice that whole summer.  And yet I can’t recall taking the fucking thing off even once.

JAKE: I don’t remember you in a yellow jacket.

IAN: Oh, well it was a cheap piece of shit.  I ripped it almost clean in half when we climbed this tree on the way back.  And then I tied the remains to the top of the tree.  Which seemed totally profound at the time.  God, I was such an asshole already.

JAKE: Pretty sure I told you that at the time.

IAN: You were 11.

JAKE: So?  I was gifted, clearly.

Beat.  IAN speaks to the photograph in his hand.

IAN: This is so embarrassing.  I really thought I had become an asshole much more recently.  Second year of uni, at the earliest.

JAKE: Nope.  This is why you must listen to the voices of the children.

IAN: Actually, I think it’s probably why I didn’t.

Beat.  Back to the photograph.

We weren’t even going up north originally.  We went to the Okanagan, to harvest fruit and snog Quebecois girls with dreadlocks, you know?

JAKE: And what?  You couldn’t get work or get laid so you decided to experience frostbite in August instead?

IAN: No.  I mean we didn’t get laid but we got work.  In a peach orchard.  Just like, acres and acres of peach trees, plus a whole gaggle of grungy bilingual hotties who would possibly have agreed to deflower us once they finished laughing at our high school french…but we quit halfway through the first day.

JAKE: That is so you.

IAN: It wasn’t, actually.  Tak just really hated peaches.  And I mean first he was like, ‘work is work,’ but then it set in, it’s not like you can just go up in the trees and pick them without smelling them.  Plus you don’t get paid a whole lot for that kind of work, so you kind of factor in being able to supplement your nutrition by stuffing your face on the job.  And I mean, he tried, I’ll give him that.  But he was like midway through his second stolen peach and he just threw it down on the ground, I think probably at one of the farm cats, like totally out-of-character dramatic about it, yelling, “I FUCKING HATE FUCKING PEACHES!  FUCK!!”

The brothers laugh a big rumbly laugh that gets big and fat like an enormous ball of dough rising so it starts to fill in all the corners of the room.

And I got totally pissed back at him.  I mean, I was mostly just baffled, but in kind of an asshole way.  I was like, “Dude, how can you hate peaches?  That’s not even possible.  Peaches are like our God-given thing to love the crap out of, man.  Come on, man, didn’t you read Prufrock, man?”  And he’s just like, “What the fuck is Prufrock, man?”

JAKE: Still laughing. Uh, yeah, what is Prufrock?

IAN: Are you serious?  Is that a question?

Beat, although the laughter continues at a low titter.

T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred / Prufrock…?

JAKE: I know that, but what does that have to do with fucking peaches, man?

Beat, laughter might pick up a bit here, leaving jagged sticky stains on the surfaces of the room.

Or picking peaches, or…whatever.

Beat.

Come on, bro, we aren’t all English scholars.  Get over it.

IAN: I’m not an English scholar; I went to fucking art school, remember?  Besides, we’re talking about shit I said when I was 16.  I just found a poem and dug it.

JAKE: And read some weird thing about peaches into it, evidently.

IAN: I didn’t read anything into it; how can you not remember….“Do I dare to eat…?”  Never mind.  Anyways, I was pissy, but I let him win that one because, you know, it’s not like it’s all that often Tak has, or, I mean, had a really strong feeling about getting out of a situation, and anyways, I wasn’t really mad at him for not getting the Eliot reference; I was mad at him for not needing it.  I mean, it was kind of jealous-making, in a way.  So we walked off the job and I said “Well what the fuck do we do now?” and he said “Let’s go North,” so we did.  And it was pretty incredible.  I mean it was just…uncharted territory.  Not literally, but like…I had never read anything from that world.  I’d never seen anything, like no pictures even, of these trees, they’re like…you can’t see, in the pictures, it’s just a green blur background, but they really are — they’re alien trees.  Like nothing I ever saw in our sheltered little city life of nature band-aids and Christmas shrubs, or even like the cedars that lean out over the lake at the cottage in the summer could have told me there were trees like this out there.  It was a whole other planet, this pale, spiky forest that swallowed us up, and suddenly it was all gone, all the background noise of things I knew about or needed to remember or should have studied harder.  And there was the strangeness of being alive and on Earth, not having anything to hold up between me and it — nothing to look through, to filter, to warp.

Beat.

And that was Tak.  That was how it was between him and everything.  No art, no interference.  The world could just be itself around him.  It could be enough.  I mean, these pictures — he took them just to keep time out there, just a metronome for his waltz with the woods.  He didn’t even care how they turned out.  Just the random residue of human activity.

JAKE: No kidding.  Somehow I’m not surprised that nobody’s dug into this collection for the past decade.  I mean, you’re the art guy, but I don’t see how we make a meaningful series of images out of this.

Beat.

You should just tell that story.

IAN laughs, implying ridiculousness.

You just told it to me.

IAN: Tak would kill me.  Or his Mom would.  Seriously.  She still thinks we spent that summer at Camp Oakley teaching at-risk kids how to make lanyards.  He swore me to secrecy.

JAKE: I think it’s probably water under the bridge now.  If you bring the pictures, everybody’s going to be taking tuns looking at them and walking around going “Am I high?  Am I fucking high?”  But the story makes sense.

IAN: Jake, I got handed this job because I said I couldn’t handle doing a eulogy.  I really can’t.  Just…shit.  No.

JAKE: So don’t do a eulogy.

JAKE grabs the tape deck and a random cassette.  He shoves the latter into the former, presses record.

Testing testing beep boop bop.

JAKE presses stop, rewinds.

IAN: Hey, that’s one of my mixes.  It was for his birthday.

JAKE: Residue of human activity.

JAKE presses play.  We hear his recorded message, then a short burst of some song, about ten seconds in.  JAKE presses stop again, then record.  The tape deck hisses.  JAKE holds it towards IAN to catch the story, which is not forthcoming.  JAKE pulls it back towards his own mouth.

Hi.  Uh my name is Jake Henry.  I’m uh I’m uh This is a story that my brother Ian told me uh in his best friend’s apartment uh surrounded by confusing photographs the night before uh This is a story about something that happened ten years ago, when recording something on a tape didn’t seem so fucking retro-diculous.

JAKE holds the machine towards IAN again.  Another longish, hissing silence goes by.  IAN takes the photograph of the blurry woods and tucks it into a crevice in the tape deck so it stands up.  He clears his throat.

BLACKOUT

In the dark we hear the hissing, warbly playback of IAN’s voice on the tape.

IAN’S VOICE ON THE TAPE IN THE DARK: Okay, so I guess how this story starts is the summer me and my best friend Tak were 16 years old, he asked me to help him tell the most wonderful lie in the world.

The tape is eaten.

If you are interested in using this script, in whole or in part, for any reason, please a) credit me (Emmet Forsythe) as the author, and b) let me know about it, including links to any video or audio recordings you may make.

Contact emilythesecond (at) gmail (dot) com if you wanna tell me somethin’ too special for comments.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. ben permalink
    February 7, 2010 11:41 pm

    I heart this one for some obvious reasons. mmmm peaches.

  2. Mom permalink
    May 8, 2010 10:57 pm

    Wow. I just read this play for the first time.. as the last of the first 7… which I just re-read.
    Interesting to read these plays as a set… they inform each other in depth in subject and in story – I feel as moved as reading Alice Walker – Possession of the secrets of joy.

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