Thursday, February 28, 2002

Winter Solstice Letter 2000

The Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, 2000

This is just to say that after realizing I’m a millennium behind in my correspondences and my futile efforts to catch up are at best, a delusion—even with email. Mea maxima culprit: I’ve succumbed to the dread Winter Letter. I promise to write it lively—it’s supposed to be long-winded (at least it ain’t broken), so kick back with a Guinness & enjoy the blarney: I’ll keep it to two pages. Promise! As you may know, I’ve been recovering the past three & a half years from a horrific car accident. It’s taken up all my free energy to heal and put my shattered life back in some semblance of order. I haven’t adapted well. I mean I wanted a change, but I didn’t envision this in the game plan. Bases are loaded. Who’s on First? The Rainman. Apologies to all of you who’ve tried to contact me during this time and received nothing in return. Silence was the loud reply. But it was just too much effort to communicate—even on the simplest level.

At first it was too difficult to write to anyone. Then I discovered I had nothing to say—even in poetry—other than I was extremely angry and I hurt all the time and that life just wasn’t fair. I was attached the concept of having all my muscles attached to my body and no pierced body parts… Anyway, that gets old fast—even to the complainer’s ears. So I just shut up. (I can hear some of you snortling—it’s a figure of speech. OK? Never mind that my hospital admit form said “well-nourished loquacious female…Don’t even get me started on Kaiser. Suffice to say, they missed a few minor points: punctured lung, detached biceps, then tried to double-dip into the measly insurance—no matter that I’d been a 20-year-member & spent my life savings while I was recuperating and unable to work.) See what I mean? Way too much information…

As far as opening my gob, I still don’t like the phone. I didn’t have the physical energy I took for granted all those years. (You’ve astutely gathered I don’t answer the Forestville number because I’m not there—aside from the fact that “there is no there there” in Oakland either. Whenever there’s a power outage in FV, my born-again answering machine eagerly awaits telemarketing gospels from the phonetree gods of commerce. So I’ve given up on it. It doesn’t want to be saved. Ignorance is bliss. Please use above address.) And a deep thanks to all of you who persisted in keeping contact anyway—it helped me to crawl out of the deep throat of post-traumatic stress syndrome. A horrific lawsuit ensued after the former friend responsible for the accident told us to pay our own hospital bills—Neil’s reconstructive face surgery was the price of a Lexus. I learned more about personal injury and the law than I care to admit, but we some brilliant advice & briefing from Neil “Bulldog” Cook. (Good jokes too.)

N ot only was I experiencing technical difficulties, but it seems all my machines were/are having a sympathetic parallel karmageddon as well. My old laptop bit the dust, David Om resurrected it—sort of—as long as I kept it perfectly still, level, opened it at a precise 45 degree angle, pulled the battery half way out & practiced batterius interruptus—didn’t use the option keys & caps, and stood on my head, typed gently with my toes and carried a big stick…Now I’m pulling yer leggs. But seriously folks, I’ve seen more lemon X-eyed mac startup icons and the funereal dead mac chimes than I care to admit. And now the loaner laptop is experiencing hard drive dementia—it forgets where it parks its head on a regular basis—like now. I just lost a chunk of drivial verbiage as it experienced an elder moment. “Are you saved?” I ask my floppy like a religious fanatic after each crash. As my friend Seamus said, “The parachute’s already open. You’re on borrowed time.” I am at that! Now where did I park my damned head?

Speaking of head gaskets, did I mention my truck’s approaching the 300,000 mile mark? It too experienced some technical difficulties—suffice to say I’ve re-baptized it “Blue Lazarus.” After it was salvaged—because of a small fender dent—the DMV made me weigh it and do all sorts of silly things. I kept telling them it was the same truck but they wouldn’t listen. Maybe I should’ve sent it to Jenny Craig. I spent that year on my knees praying, “Please pass the smog! Please pass the smog!” Two carb rebuild jobs later (you can’t just buy replacements for this truck—it’s an only child—how was I to know my brother removed the catalytic converter some 15 years ago?) In a desperate last minute stay of execution, I yelled. “Indulge me. Open up the bloody catalytic converter—see if anything’s at home.” Nope and $500 up the bloody tailpipe for naught. I’m thinking of having a tailgate party for it—if it makes it to the finish line, that is… I’ll invite everyone to bring their best car stories—my personal best was when the dark and stormy night the wiring shorted out after they “fixed” the back-up light by sticking a caddy bearing from Amir’s amazing junk pile in the tranny just so it would engage. Not only could I not shift, I couldn’t see where I was going. The time the gearshift broke off in third was exciting. Or when the People’s Republic of Berkeley cop towed my truck—so Ben & Jerry’s could test new flavors of ice cream on Bancroft—the cop insisting my new DMV plates were stolen—but he wrote down the wrong license. I couldn’t prove it until I got my truck out of hock. I couldn’t get my truck out until I proved it wasn’t it. Or that it was it. Try running that one by in a police HQ sometime. Talk about mental. Catch-22 squared & cubed.

We’ll have a smash-up reading looking under each other’s hoods, checking out the bore of our cams in some garage, or at the DMV—I spent enough time there. Some advice: NEVER “salvage” your car—all I had was a dented fender but the “blue book” value was lower than to repair it, so my agent salvaged it! I had kittens. Toss a perfectly good truck? I said, “Over my dead body” I saved it from the junkyard but got on the wrong side of the DMV (which makes the Spanish Inquisition seem like Club Med.) OK, so they were 5 years behind in their paper-, er, computer work. How was I to know they (the DMV, not the Inquisition—though it was hard to tell) were going to make my life hell for the next year for not having a valid sticker? I won’t mention Oakland City Hall’s losing my ticket payments, or their inability to grasp the concept of a temporary DMV sticker. They were like bulls before the proverbial red cape. Suffice to say, OCH is run like a small South American dictatorship. Make that a small, hostile communist one. Mayor Jerry Brown didn’t have much luck in cutting the red tape as far as I can tell. But I got a minor thrill when he jogged past me at Lake Merritt. I wanted to shout: “Oh, Governor Moonbeam, remember me? I was one of your constituents and with seven major grants under my belt, your California Arts Council positively changed my life, gave me my life’s direction. I mean, that’s how I wound up in Russia teaching poetry—speaking of red. Can you please help me with my parking tickets? I’m in Dante’s third ring and Beatrice is either out to lunch or on extended hold. I might die waiting.”

OK, OK, I can hear you now—quit stalling and cut to the chase. Aon scéal? What news? What language was that? Irish. When my mind went south after the accident—even reading was impossible and I was determined to rescue it from the permanent vacation it was determined to take without me—you know, separate lives? I took Joseph Campbell’s words to heart: Follow your bliss. I sat in on Celtic Studies classes at UC Berkeley—as my friend Neil O’Neill (yes, his real name) was back to school for his BA in English, and I was helping him through his Chaucer class… We were both basket cases intent on becoming head cases. And the penny dropped: why didn’t I go back to school to finish my MA abandoned 20 years ago? But I didn’t think I had the spare change nor the mental chops as my mind had truly flown the coup, so I began to audit classes in earnest at UCB and Celtic Studies Chair, Professor Dan Melia, who was so kind to let me audit his classes, encouraged me to go for it. I immersed myself in Celtic Studies for a year while waiting for application deadlines and took an 8-unit Irish class (and passed!). Suffice to say that intensive summer language classes at UCB are intensive.

Smitten & bitten, this fall, I tortured myself with Old Irish (aka Bloodbath 105a) which resembles modern Irish as much as Old English does its modern counterpart. Think Beowulf—no, not the translated version, amadán! So I’m in San Francisco State’s MA Creative Writing program and taking classes at UCB too. Mi vida loca. With baited breath I await Bloodbath 105b this spring, as we’ll translate medieval Irish poetry. Irish is perhaps one of the most highly inflected Indo-European languages with its Brythonic cousin, Welsh. We expect nouns and verbs to change according to tense, but even the prepositions and articles change! Conjugate “the” please. Drop an accent (tone), you’ve a new word; Seán/John-sean/old. 

Last spring, I began teaching lots of CPITS (poets in the schools) residencies in east Oakland and survived. Now I’ve proof that I’m finally healing. Suffice to say, my 20 years’ teaching in Sonoma County with guest shots in LA, Montana & Russia were NOTHING like Oakland. I wound up teaching in ESL & Spanish-speaking classes—it was a crash course in phonetic Spanish. I’m still at Alexander Valley & the Higham Family schools in Sonoma. Without their support I don’t think I could’ve climbed back in the saddle. It was really touch and go the first two years as I had no energy and had to lie down between classes. Ugh! All this to say that I’m really alive and well and living in… Oakland & I love email. This is just to sat that I survived my first semester in college and had a poem in Transfer. I’m bartending/catering for Blue Heron; my cousin & I also put on a real Celtic feast for 100 holiday revelers.

Happy Winter Solstice, Beannachtai Nollaig, y Fleas Navidad from mis pulgas to yours’. Oh, Oh, Oh! (that’s Santa having dyslexical difficulties…You should hear his reindeer! KAWS —Maureen Hurley

Saturday, February 23, 2002

Do We Think in Images or Words?

Dear dfm,

Go raibh maith agat for the extraordinary tutoring lesson on Aristotle. I remember I had the same wooly reaction to Confessio (where it was all Greek...sorry, bad pun) where I was sliding all over the place. I had no context by which to store the info.

Pennies were dropping right and left--a veritable shower. The Joycian Aha! where I understood why some of my writings don't work (episodic, w/o integral structure), why other writings make me so mad--that feeling of beiing "had." 

Learning was pleasurable indeed but my head was reeling. Another wing of rooms were added to my brain. Hopefully it isn't the Winchester Mystery House--though after going afterwards to that school behind bars (haven or prison?) in Hunter's Point had me reeling for entirely different reasons. Pity & fear. Will art save lives or be a catharsis for these kids? Luckily it's 3rd-5th grades. A toxic dump both metaphorically & physically. Even East Oakland isn't this bad.

Another wooly query: Last night we spent the evening arguing over what thought is. Does thought exist without words? I maintained that words are the vehicle by which we transmit ideas as I tend to think in images first (metaphoric?), then translate thoughts into words. This may be a quirk of artists & dyslexics--as I've asked other artists the same question. Or maybe we don't all experience thought processes the same way. My example: mammals can think and even problem-solve—albeit limited in scope. I assume they do this without words.

What, then, is thinking, cognition, or even language? Is thought different than thinking? Can one have thoughts or hypothetically speaking, a language without words? A catch-phrase on measuring "visual literacy" suggests that we need to translate images into words. 

Yet we understand images without words. Example: Singer dreamt of two swords with eyes at their tips, and thus invented the sewing machine. Kepler dreamt of ourobouros, a ring opening & closing and solved the problem of the structure of benzine rings. Einstein was reputed to have expereinced most of his ideas either visually or metaphorically in his famous thought experiments. Following the progress of a ripple of light downriver, or light on a dust mote led to the idea of the speed of light and the Theory of Relativity. Is this not Thought without words? Or am I mixing apples with oranges?

Yours in a conundrum,

if you're free, Sat night, Neil's in a playreading at the Exit Theatre. Gemma Whelan (Co Leish) teaches film at Mills. A bit Absurdist. (info below).

Saturday February 23, 7pm:

A staged reading of "Low in the Dark" by Marina Carr with Gemma Whelan, MaryAnn Casey, Stephanie Lynch, Neil O'Neill, and John Ficcara. Directed by Alison Tassie. Tickets are 'pay what you can'.
8.30pm: "The Bald Soprano" by Eugene Ionesco performed by Ireland's Asylum Theatre Company.
The Exit is at 156 Eddy St, San Francisco (between Mason and Taylor)

Friday, February 22, 2002

Childhood Map: First Kiss

CHILDHOOD MAP: First Real Kiss

(An older woman reminisces aboout a first love to audience. Black stage, the woman is at a card table playing solitaire. Spotlight. Faint traces of mountains painted behind her in the darkness. Dawn is slowly breaking. Dogs barking in the distance.)

What I remember most was the way Billy Joe smelled. Not so much the kiss. Or the way he looked, mind you. But a good whiff of Brut aftershave takes me back to that night. It was so odd the way he called me up on the telephone out of the blue—we just had a phone put in a few months back so the novelty of getting a call hadn’t yet worn off. It wasn’t the courting tool it is now. (She gathers up the cards, reshuffels, and deals.) Damned cards. Seems I can’t get enough of them. Sill use real ones. No virtual solitaire for me.

I used to love listening in on the neighbors. I could recognize Old Man Latinfdorf’s thick accent, and Mrs. Decker’s nauseating voice. They lived at the end of the road, neighbors, but they didn’t ever speak to each other. She was a spinster, you know. Worked for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I guess Lorna was a reject. Those damned German Shepherds barked their heads off the minute a bird flew overhead or if you stepped outside to fart. You could even hear their barking echo down the stovepipe when you built a fire in the mornings—this was pre- fancy wood stove days—someone made it out of boiler parts. We didn’t have any interior heating. I grew up between eras it seems.

Saturday mornings Mrs. Decker’d be cooing—Looorna, good doggie Looooorrrrnaa —in this voice that would cut through sleep like a rusty sword. I used to fantasize about shooting her damned dogs. One summer I worked in Switzerland, I was so homesick, that when I awake to barking dogs, I thought I was home. I was so lonely even Lorna sounded good to me.

Old Man Latindorf, he was German Counsel. During the war, Grandpa was acting Counsel. Latindorf must’ve hid out in the hills. There was a lot of vigilantism in those days. Once I found a buried knife when I fell in the scree below the Big Rock—it had an enamel Nazi insignia on it. I showed it to some guy who said I couldn’t have it but he kept it for himself. Why do guys always think they have inherent rights when it comes to guns and knives anyway? I don’t know why I didn’t fight back. I was young, I didn’t understand but I knew there was some secret shame coming from that knife. Do intimate objects carry karma? I don’t know but my math teacher Archie Williams, he let us hold his gold Olympic medal that Hitler gave him. He shook his hand too. Hell, we were so naive, we hardly even knew who Hitler was. But I swear the weight of that medal outweighed the gold.

Where was I? Billy Joe. His mama—her name was Bobbie Joe—it seems they had a real fondness for Joes in that family. Maybe johns would’ve been more appropriate. Bobbie Joe, she was from Tennessee, or some place like that. Came west to escape the stigmata of the Blue Ridge mountains, but Joe Senior, he couldn’t hold her. Just long enough to breed the kids, Billy Joe & Cottie—I used to call her Cottie Joe, and then their mama was off to god knows where with Cottie, my best friend, in tow. I was heartbroken. We used to play solitaire, hearts, crazy eights till dawn whenever I slept over. Later it was strip-poker. I guess we had our own Appalachia festering right here in West Marin. But she had bigger plans and skedaddled.

I remember the way Bobbie Joe drew on her eyebrows like she was always surprised. With her Betty Boop lips she was the Queen of hearts. Everyone was mesmerized when she wore those cowgirl shirts with the fringe —even the weaner calves were lovesick. My mind keeps wandering. Where was I? Just look at that dawn breaking. I never can get enough of it.

Billy Joe, he said to me on the phone he wanted me to come on down to his house but to come in the back door. As far as I knew there wasn’t any back door. I knew it wasn’t right. But I went on down the road like a sheep to the pen. Fog was rolling in over Mt. Barnabee—Barnabee was Samuel Taylor’s pet white mule. Buried near Devil’s Gulch, he was. Why call a jackass Barnabee anyway? Maybe Barrabas.

They say a first kiss is supposed to be charmed. You know, remember it forever. But I nearly got more than what I bargained for. I was so scared, all I could think of was how to .... Aha! Won the game. Finally. You know the real cause of carpal tunnel syndrome? Electronic Solitaire. All them mouse clicks on Jokers and one-eyed jacks. Not word-processing. Billy Joe was a real jock, Course cheating’s a problem with real cards. My neighbor Agnes loved the cards—used to cheat on Lucien when he was at sea. But then she was the type to play solitaire till dawn with a deck of 51 and a bottle of Bourbon. But he gave her diseases, cancer got her. Uterus turned black.

The door to Billy Joe’s room was on the 2nd floor. Those old farm houses with their narrow halls were firetraps. Billy Joe lowered a ladder down and hoisted me up. Fog made my hair curly. Like an angel he said as he touched it, and drew me in. And closed the door. Cat and mouse or cat and dog—more like it. I was treed and I sure wasn’t going to make it out the front of the house without getting noticed. His granny and mine were friends. I was too ashamed to call out for help.

I remember how my jaw ached from his kisses—the stubble cut my face like knives. He was wearin’ these gray sweats—this was before the days of elastic. One thin drawstring between me was poking out like a tent. I couldn’t stand the tension. Why is it men always think if they get you off alone, they have the right to take advantage? He was like that dog barking, barking, barking. If only he didn’t rush it, things might have been different instead of living in this hole of a room playing solitaire with ghosts. Or I suppose I might have wound up like Bobbie Joe always looking beyond the next ridge. You know, sometimes when I’m playing a good hand I get a faint whiff of Brute, as if some man was stirring in the next room.

MFA Playwriting
Brighde Mullins
Feb. 22, 2002

Friday, February 8, 2002

Letter of Intent to Study Playwriting with Brighde Mullins


I wish to take the MFA Playwriting class with you because—though I’m new to the field, being a crossover poet wandering in new pastures—I wish to learn something of the structure of the playwriting process: beginnings, muddles and ends interest me.

Having taken Roy Conboy’s class last year by accident—all the poetry classes were filled and as I was waiting to be advised—another student, Mary Sullivan-Rourke suggestied I take his class. I felt like Anias in the House of Words. Like my self-censorship telling me I wasn’t supposed to be there. However, I was hooked. I loved the process. It was a great semester for hearing student work and for experimentation on my own. But I realized that I lacked the understanding of structure, the necessary tools.

I understand how a poem works from the inside out; but dialogue and fiction have always been strangers. As a confessional poet in the narrative tradition, (mea maxima culpea) I tend to write about what is true. Having grown up in the oral tradition and being opinionated, I usually have something to say.

I’ve been lucky to have had an interesting life: living in Russia during the Fall, or caught in South American countries during coups and invasions were part of my writer’s palate. But lately I’ve been straying onto the prose poem genre.

But i find myself straddling genres: what I’m most interested in are neither plays nor short stories nor fiction. Certainly not poetry. Though it comes into it. Monologues. So what I’m interested in writing this semester is a series of monologues (Like the Cruz pieces in Telling Tales) of growing up in West Marin during the 50s & 60s...not quite as exotic as Las Vegas, but equally weird.

I am very interested in your idea of writing from the persona—Tennesee Williams’ characters are unforgettable because of that persona. No, make that brutally honest.

And with that changeover, there has been a language shift as well...I’m more wordy. At first I despaired. Then I succumbed to this wordiness. Stories to tell that don’t quite fit into the poetic genre were banging on the roof on my mouth.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I applied to SFSU and was accepted as an MA candidate in poetry. Since I’ve been at SFSU, I’ve been upgraded to MFA status on the basis of that work. If I hadn’t had to take a correlative block outside my genre, I would never have considered writing plays.

As someone once said, my life experiences were like living in some Tennessee play. What I need to learn is to step outside the living play, and render my quirky observations into characters, and to grasp the the underpinnings of story: its form, its arc and structure.

I believe this class will give me a solid foundation by which to creatively explore and experiment with this genre of writing.

for Brighde Mullins MFA class
Feb. 8, 2002

this text was exceedingly corrupted. Typos were saved along-side the corrections...

Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Karma Alarm (a sound play)

KARMA ALARM (A sound play with light) rev.

After several rounds at a bar with the guys, Willy tries to find his parked car. He’s been laid off for purloining office supplies where he was clerking as junior legal secretary. After the bars have closed, he is dropped off in a rough neighborhood by a co-worker. Many of the cars on the block look just like his non-descript economy sedan. He tries his key in the closest car. But no matter how hard he tries to fit the key in, it won’t work. 

He is so tight, in the back of his mind he believes that if only he tries hard enough, the wrong car will become the right one and it will make everything all right again. Maybe he’ll get his job back, his wife won’t find out, and leave him, etc. The audience hears sirens in the distance that seem to be converging toward this region of the neighborhood.


WILLY, a recently unemployed legal secretary
MAN who lives in the ‘hood.

SCENE: A poorly lit street on the wrong side of town. It’s after 2 AM. The suggestion of rows of nondescript parked cars all looking alike. An inebriated man named Willy, obviously out of his element, is holding onto the one working streetlight—one bulb is burned out, the other is flickering. He peers up at the streetlight, squinting, as if it were the sun. The streetlight doubles as a bus stop.

WILLY: (To the red tail lights of a departing car) Yeah, man. I’ll be fine. It’s right there by that streetlight. (He grabs onto the streetlight as if it were the mast of a wildly tossing boat). Don’t you worry about me. I’ll be fine. Yeah. Yeah. Shit happens. Thanks for the lift. See you around, man. Bye! (Waving to the tail lights).

(Looks up at the lone streetlight): What are YOU looking at? Haven’t you ever seen a man in this state before—or all they all gay? Guess not. (Snickers. Tries to read the Bus Stop sign attached to the streetlight.) Last bus is at 3 AM. Hmm. (Looks at his watch.) Oops. Forgot about Daylight Savings. Gotta set my watch. How does it go? Spring forward, fall back? Hey lookit, I just saved a whole hour. I’m not late, I’m early. See? Oops. I lost an hour but I still got 15 minutes bar time left. That’s it! (He admires his watch, checks the time).

Oops! The wife will still kill me. She’s gonna kill me already when she hears about me getting fired again. But it looks like there’s plenty of time to catch the next bus! Yeah. Plenty of time to get to the next state. (He laughs. Peers out, with hand over his eyes). Awww, just lookit the state I’m in... (He pulls some postettes out of his pants pocket, ruffles them.) Aha! There she is! (Meaning the car. )

(He lets go of the pole with one hand long enough to rummage in his suit pockets—to the sound of loose coins—for his keys. He drops them, slithers down the pole to retrieve his keys.) Gotcha! Now where’d my car go? Ah. There you are, sweetheart.

It’s not fair, the lousy sonsabitches laying me off like that...telling me I’m lucky they’re not pressing charges. It was only a few pads of legal paper and some lousy number 2 pencils. Oh yeah, and the postettes. They didn’t find the postettes. I hid ‘em in the ashtray. (He puts his index finger to his nose and winks). As if they’d miss that shit. I just wanted it so I could write a novel or something.... Get out of that hellhole job. Shit. What am I gonna tell the wife?

(He tries to fit the key in the door several times but it won’t go in.) Now, why won’t it go in? Somebody been messing with my car? (Looks around furtively, then examines his key. Tries the key again. Peers in the window. Laughs with a sigh of relief. Realizes it’s not his car.) Oops! Wrong one! No baby seat in my car unless the wife is trying to tell me something. No brats in my car. No way!! I keep my sperm in Fort Knox, where it belongs. Interest rates too high for late night deposits. Early penalties for late withdrawals. Nope. No kiddies for me. (Clutches at himself, hoisting up his pants with resolve.}

)He advances to the next parked car like a soldier. But the key won’t fit in it either. He snickers, looks around and sees another car just like the second one. ) Aha! There it is. Now, that family had good taste. Great little car just like mine... Kicks ass. (Tries the key again in the second car and again on third cars. No luck. But this time, a car alarm goes off.)

CAR ALARM: WooopWooopWoop!

WILLY: Shh! Will ya? You’ll wake the neighbors. Shhhhhh!

CAR ALARM: HonkHonkHonkHonk.

WILLY: Aw shit! For Chrissakes. Shaddup! (He’s beginning to panic.)

CAR ALARM: BreepBreepBreep!

WILLY: Oh cripes. They’re gonna fuckin’ kill me. Think I’m stealing their car.

CAR ALARM: RearRearRear! Bwoop! Bwoop?

WILLY: Maybe if I break in, I can shut off the damned alarm. Yeah. That’s it.

CAR ALARM: NeNearNeNearNeNear!

WILLY: I know. I’ll drive it away so they can’t get me.

CAR ALARM: BwoopBwoopBwoop! (Willy’s almost in the car. He doesn’t hear the sound of police sirens approaching. Offstage, the sound of a squad car pulling up, with a squealing of brakes. Car lights dissecting the stage catches Willy in the spotlight like a poached deer. A cop steps out of the darkness with gun at the ready. )

WILLY: Holy fuck! the cops. Got some mints in the glovebox...where are they? Shit. They’re gone. (Breathes into his hand to smell alcohol.) What’s with the postettes, what’re they doing in here? Fucking bitch. She’s been messing around in my car again. I’ll fuckin’ kill her! Messin’ with my postettes.

CAR ALARM: NearNearNearNear!

COP: Come out with your hands up where I can see them. Nice and slow. Now lay down on the ground and spread ‘ know the drill. Thaaat’s it.

WILLY: But Officer, I can explain. There’s been a mistake. I thought it was my car and when the alarm went off, I panicked and...

CAR ALARM: NannerNannerNanner! (Alarm cycle stops. Silence.)

COP: Save it for Downtown Mister. You have the right to remain silent...

WILLY: But, but... Have a heart, Officer. Hey, I just lost my job and...and....and... Please don’t take my postettes. I got important notes for a novel I’m gonna write. Hey you can’t do that. Get your hand off me, you fucking pervert. I know my rights, I work for a law firm, you know. I’m not sayin’ nuthin’. I’ll take the Fifth. (Willy gets up off the sidewalk, is handcuffed, and is slowly being led offstage by the cop.)

COP: Sounds like you’ve had a fifth, more like it. Sooooo, my little man, how many drinkies did we have tonight? Let’s put you on the breathalyzer, shall we? (Offstage). Just put this into your mouth and breathe into it like you’re kissing a goldfish. That’s it. Yep. Thought so.

Son, you’re so far over the limit, it’s a good thing you didn’t get that car started, or you’d be looking at a DUI as well. Let’s just go downtown and say hello to your good buddies in the fish tank, shall we? Watch your head there. That’s it. Oh, and here’s your postettes back. You can write a great American novel about your experiences. See if one of your buddies will loan you a pencil. Yeah, the boys in the tank will be real interested in you tonight. (Sound of a car door slamming and the car departing. A long silence, then the escalating sound of distant city traffic. The sound of a big city bus approaching and grinding up a hill. As it goes by, it sets off the car alarm again.)

CAR ALARM: HonkHonkHonkHonk. ReeeeeaaarrrrrReeeeaaaarrrrReeeeeaaaarrr.(The sketchy suggestion of an irate man running out. He shoots the car. The sound of a gun report. Lights dim.) BweepBweepBweeuh-uh-uh.

MAN: (Offstage) Sonofabitch car alarms! Always wanted to do that. Shoot the sucker! (Wild cheering and jeers from the neighbors.)


MFA Playwriting  Brighde Mullins
Feb. 6, 2002