Category: Featured

Blog Bloggin’ (An Introduction)

Hey there! My name is Trystin and this is my blog, a place where every once and a while I’ll have a thought and write it down, thus giving you a glimpse of my funky little world that you all can hopefully gain something from reading, whether that something be “Ah, I never thought of life that way” or “You did WHAT?!” or “Man, that recipe for quiche was spot on!” (that last one will never happen)

For now, I’m just going to launch my first blog by writing a blog post…about blogs:

When I used to think about blogs, the first thing that would come to mind is the old Xanga age. You know, droves of teenagers lamenting over broken hearts and tomorrow’s big test. And then I started to dig a little deeper, seeing them less as these impulsive expulsions of feeling and more as one of our primary defenses in the war for individuality…

So often is there this mentality that we are simply numbers, cogs in the machine, slaves of the system. Well, that’s not so much the case in the blog world, is it? While all over the TV, the radio and the ‘Net we are pelted with the voices of those far more powerful than ourselves…the politicians, celebrities, McDonalds…the blog gives a voice to the individual…to the housewife, the guy in accounting, the deviant, the teenager…that can reach the far corners of the tech-savvy world. It’s empowering, a great equalizer and just plain fun. So many voices from so many corners of the world means that there is something for just about everyone, which creates a greater sense of belonging and community that in turn creates a more fulfilled populous. Blogs.

There you have it, folks.

You can always feel free to take a look at the About/Bio sections to learn more about myself and my various missions and philosophies to better shape what happens here. Also, I invite you to comment away (my posts are just the beginning of the conversation) and suggest topics to your heart’s content!

Thanks for dropping by and stay tuned!

-T

Destiny, Remembered

A Shade of You

CHARACTERS

Narrator – an unseen noir-style storyteller
Joe – a private investigator plagued by love
Dr. Sol – a mad scientist
Violet – Dr. Sol’s stoic assistant
If – a tall, dark and handsome thing
Bobby – a smooth-talking playboy
Bobby-Two – Bobby’s sidekick/lackey
Clara – Bobby’s pretty little girlfriend
Then – ethereally beautiful young woman
Other Recorded Voices

Notes.

Though the entirety of this play occurs in the present-tense, its style rests firmly in those of film that encompassed Depression Era America. The piece, while melodramatic and strange to the point of comic at times, will maintain a generally tense mood; one that is both dark and gritty when the situation permits. Until Act Two, that is, when the status quo meets its opposition. Also, all sets, props, costumes, and even the actors themselves will be rendered completely in gray-scale, giving the overall appearance of a black and white film unless otherwise noted.

~PLAY BEGIN~

ACT I

Scene i.
Joe’s office: a small, dark, and gloomy space, riddled with shadows. JOE, mid 30s, a guy who was once perhaps successful, attractive and sober, sits at his desk, hunched over piles of paperwork and unread files. There is a phone, a bottle of scotch and a half filled glass. He sits, suffering under the weight of what he’s allowed his life to become. Despite all this, there is an intensity to him fueled by his innermost demons. The NARRATOR’S sharp and confident voice pierces the darkness as lights slowly rise…

Narrator: Here sits Detective Joseph Powers. “Joe” to his friends…if he had any, that is. A sadder soul you’ve never seen. You can trust me on that one. Used to be a time, not too long ago, when Mr. Powers was on the up and up. A favorite on the local police force, Joey here was destined for greatness…but he got cocky and lost it all when word about him getting mixed up in the wrong side of the law…I’m talking the mob…got to the wrong ears of the wrong reporters. One thing led to another and here we are. Detective Joseph Powers. Detective. Ha. Just some private investigator, desperate for booze money and picking up any half-baked sideways case to get it. Take his latest: There’s a murderer on the loose who’s raped and killed the type of girl who, judging by her lifestyle, was asking for it. Cops can’t figure out whodunnit. What makes this pathetic excuse for an inebriate think he can succeed where decent guys have not is beyond me. Maybe he’s finally lost it. Maybe the cops just don’t give a damn. After all, there is a high-profile serial killer on the loose. And what’s worse is that the ol’ Detective here can’t keep his mind on a damned detail because of her, which is ironic because she’s the reason he’s in this pickle in the first place. Her. The object of his desire. A femme fatale in five-inch heels. An acid-tipped trick that he just can’t kick. I’d feel sorry for him if it was worth my time…

Scene ii.
The living room of Bobby’s condo. It’s a modern trendy place; simple yet elegant. The ultimate bachelor pad. BOBBY, 30, a striking man of average looks made to seem above average by his dual senses of fashion and self-worth, sits on his couch, playfully sipping a mixed drink. BOBBY-TWO, 30, his dopey friend, stands near him, a small planet orbiting the sun.

Bobby: Another successful night on the town, wouldn’t ya say, Bobby-Two?

Bobby-Two: You did good, Bobby.

Bobby: Good? Man, I was incredible! Remember the babe with those big green loopy earrings…

Bobby-Two: I-

Bobby: You didn’t think I could do it, did you? Thought she was out of my league…

Bobby-Two: Well-

Bobby: I was hurt. Really. My best friend betting against his truest bluest. But I showed you, didn’t I?

Bobby-Two: Yeah-

Bobby: Yup. I did. I did indeed. Because when Bobby wants something, Bobby gets it. The world is full of low-born ladies who will do anything for their moment in the sun. Ha! (takes a sip of his drink) (to Bobby-Two) A little bitter, huh, Bobby-Two? Not your best work. Next time let Rosa make it. That’s what she’s for, after all.

Bobby-Two: (takes a quick sip of his drink) (under his breath) S’not that bad.

Bobby: What’s that?

Bobby-Two: Nothing.

Bobby shrugs. Takes another sip and overreacts to its bitterness.

Bobby: Blech! Did you even try?! I’m kidding…mostly. Rosa’s is better, but I guess I could-

Bobby-Two: Why do I have to be Bobby-Two?

Bobby: Huh?

Bobby-Two: (fights an impulse to say “nothing”) Bobby-Two.

Bobby: Aw jeez…

Bobby-Two: It’s degrading!

Bobby: I think someone’s upset he didn’t get any last night.

Bobby-Two: Bobby…

Bobby: You’re just Bobby-Two. It’s who you are. I mean, I’m certainly not Bobby-Two. (gestures towards himself) No. Some people are destined for greatness and others are destined to make sure they get there…Bobby-Two. (notes Bobby-Two’s less than amused expression). …Other Bobby? Ha, I’m joking. I’m kidding. I’m a kidder. (looks at his glass) Mix us up another round, pal?

Bobby-Two: (cold) How’s Clara?

Bobby: Fine.

Bobby-Two: Okay. (pause) She doesn’t mind all your little side projects?

Bobby: What she doesn’t know isn’t going to hurt her. Plus, a girl like that…as long as I keep her drowning in dresses and jewels she’s not going to go raising a fuss about my extracurriculars.

Bobby-Two: Hm.

Bobby: ‘Nother round?

Scene iii.
Lights rise on the laboratory of Dr. Sol. It is a place of clutter and intrigue, filled with all manner of experiments in the works and, of course, a table on which lay some humanoid thing completely draped in a white sheet. DR. SOL, 40-60s, a kooky-looking intellectual fellow and VIOLET, 22, his assistant, a dark and Gothic thing in headphones, toil away at this and that as a storm rages around them. They both wear lab coats and black rubber gloves. An ode to the age of silent film and the general theme of this piece, the scene, and all others that take place here during Act I, are completely without sound (save for the option of a light piano backdrop). All character dialogue will be portrayed via written text (CAPTION) presented to the audience by way of projector.

CAPTION: The Laboratory of Dr. Sol

Dr. Sol speaks excitedly as he looms over the sheet-covered creature.

CAPTION: “Soon, my dear Violet, all of our work will come to a head!”

Violet looks to Dr. Sol, shrugs, puts on her headphones, and returns to work. Dr. Sol shakes off her apathy and returns to his work. He pours liquid from one beaker to another and an eruption of smoke appears, causing him to choke. He begins to falter, unable to breathe, convulsing as he collapses to his knees trying to get Violet’s attention. It is when Dr. Sol is lying on the ground, nearing his last breaths, when Violet turns with a question and notices his dire situation. With utter calm, she plucks a potion from her coat pocket and pours some down his throat. Once again able to breathe, he climbs to his feet and scolds her.

[NOTE: Depending on the resources of the production, the previous “silent gag” scene can involve any science-related physically comical situation that results in Dr. Sol almost dying and Violet realizing it in the nick of time to nonchalantly save him]

CAPTION: “You infernal girl! Take off those blasted things! I could have died!”

Violet points to her headphones, gesturing that she can’t hear what he’s saying. She removes her headphones. He is preparing to repeat himself, but a (silent) knock at the door startles them both. Dr. Sol points to Violet, hoping for an explanation. She shrugs. They react to another knock. Dr. Sol exclaims.

CAPTION: “Who dare travel so far and be so brave as to rap at my door at this hour?!”

Dr. Sol thinks of his creature, exclaims again.

CAPTION: “We must protect it at all costs!”

Violet nods, reaches into a bin and produces a large weapon, like the 1930’s version of a gun from the distant future. She returns to Dr. Sol’s side, nods and points the weapon in the direction of the door.

Dr. Sol shouts.

CAPTION: “The door! It’s opening!”

A moment of terror quickly gives way as Dr. Sol falls under a spell of childish gleeful disbelief and Violet, suddenly bored, hands the gun to Sol, returns her headphones to her ears and goes back to work. Enter IF, mid-20s, a disarmingly beautiful, chic and modern, strapping man who is a bit too tall and has a pair of bolts sticking out of his neck. He wears a pair of aviator glasses and is utterly drenched. Dr. Sol, hardly able to contain his excitement, exclaims anew.

CAPTION: “If! My dearest If! I knew you’d return to me! I just knew it!”

Dr. Sol captures If in a warm embrace. If stands perfectly still. Sol looks to him, lovingly, and speaks.

CAPTION: “You’re back, my love. Just in time to meet the newest addition to our little family…”

Lightning strikes.

Scene iv.
Joe’s office. There are even more papers piled on his desk. Joe roots through them, wildly, until he becomes overwhelmed.

Joe: DAMMIT!

Joe drops his head onto his desk.

Narrator: Well, will you look at this? Can’t say much has changed since the last time, eh Detective? Well, except maybe that your workload is piling up faster than you can keep it down. You lost five cases in the past week, Joe! Get a hold of yourself! You used to be one of the best, Joe. Every one of these cases you let pass by is less money in your pocket. You have to sustain yourself…even if you’re method of sustaining involves a pit stop at the local liquor store.

Joe: ARGH! I have to get to the bottom of this…

Narrator: You can’t let her get to you like this, Joe.

Joe: She loves me…

Narrator: Joe… (sighs) Alright. Alright. Let’s see what we’ve got so far. Take a deep breath. (Joe does so) That’s right. Now exhale. (he does) Good. Good. Alright. The facts.

Joe: The facts. The facts… (examines a sheet of half-crumpled paper) Whew. The facts. Mary Sandino, Caucasian, twenty-three years old, murdered in her boyfriend’s apartment. She was found naked on the floor, half way between the bedroom and the kitchen. She’d been raped and strangled, but the kill wound was one of fifty or so gashes received by a letter opener from the night stand. Boyfriend couldn’t’ve done it. He was a whole state away. We have confirmation of that from his trucker buddies and managers at most of his drop-off spots. There were no prints. Neighbors didn’t see anything. Hear anything. (pause) I…

Narrator: Yeah, Joe?

Joe: I…I don’t know! The cops couldn’t figure it out! How can I?!

Narrator: Give up, Joe.

Joe: I can’t give up! I…can’t…

Narrator: And to think, if you weren’t so pathetic you’d be working on that high profile serial killer case with your old cop buddies. You’d probably be captain by now. It’s a damn shame and that’s a fact.

Scene v.
Bobby’s condo. Bobby is talking on his cell phone, pacing, serious.

Bobby: Hello? (irritated) Oh. Oh, it’s you. Put my uncle on the phone. (a moment passes and he brightens up) Uncle Bill! How are ya? It’s your favorite nephew. Ha ha. Oh, I can’t complain. City life is city life, ya know? You should come visit some time. Come down from the mountains and get a little taste of culture and life, for once. Ha ha…just kidding. But seriously, I’d love to have you. Work going well? Oh! Oh, I understand. I’ll just be a minute, I promise. See, the thing is, I’m running a little low on cash. It’s…the recession, ya know? No one’s safe. Heh. Yeah, no…I’m…my job’s…coming along. The economy…Wow, ya know? I mean…It’s like…hard out here.

CLARA, mid 20s, enters, a beauty from head to toe, but something about her is a little off.

Clara: Who’re you talking to, baby?

Bobby: (surprised by Clara’s entrance) Ah! Oh! Hey, it was great talking to you as always! Think about what I said! Do you still have my… Okay! Great! Good! Tell what’s-his-face I say ‘Hi’! Bye! Bye! (hangs up the phone and scoops Clara in his arms) Hello, beautiful.

Clara: Who was that on the phone?

Bobby: That was my Uncle Bill.

Clara: Oh. You never mentioned an Uncle Bill…

Bobby: Really? Are you sure? We’re pretty close, Uncle Bill and I. We’re all each other have left in the family since my father died…

Clara: And left you all alone…

Bobby: And six million dollars richer. Right. How ever did I find the strength to go on?

Clara: Bobby…

Bobby: Clara…

Clara: You sure did seem to hang up in a hurry when I came in.

Bobby: My Uncle’s a sweetheart, he really is, but he’s losing it, I think. There was the stroke and…I can’t talk to him for too long, ya know? It reminds me of my dad. I feel guilty sometimes, but I just…can’t. You came in and I used it as an excuse to hang up.

Clara: You promise?

Bobby: Cross my heart, beautiful.

They kiss.

Clara: So, what are we doing tonight?

Bobby: It.

Clara: Bobby, you gotta lower a girl’s defenses with expensive wine and a night on the town before you get the prize at the bottom of this box. I was thinking Le Fleur…

Bobby: Le Fleur. Isn’t that place reserved for the foreseeable future?

Clara: So what? Slip the hostess a couple hundreds and we’re golden.

Bobby: (thinks) What about McCabe’s?

Clara: McCabe’s?!

Bobby: What’s wrong with McCabe’s?

Clara: It’s beneath us.

Bobby: It got four stars!

Clara: Out of five!

Bobby: I- (tries to find the logic in her retort and fails) You were raised on freakin’ Happy Meals and TV Dinners! Ruby Tuesdays should be a god-damned gourmet restaurant to you!

Clara: What did you say?!

Bobby: Kidding, kidding. Honestly, I’m in a meat and potatoes sort of mood. We can do Le Fleur on Friday.

Clara: Nice try. You’ll be in Vegas on Friday.

Bobby: Oh, that? I’m not going anymore.

Clara: (serious) What?

Bobby: Yeah, we had to cancel. (softly) Between you and me, I think Bobby-Two’s having some serious money issues.

Clara: Oh…

Bobby: Yeah, poor kid. (notices the look of concern on Clara’s face) What’s up, baby?

Clara: Nothing. I… I have plans this Friday.

Bobby: Oh?

Clara: I was going to have a friend over.

Bobby: A friend. What kind of friend?

There is a spell of silence in which their eyes lock and the answer makes itself known to Bobby.

Bobby: Ah, I see. And when were you planning on telling me this? (she does not respond) I see.

Clara: It’s none of your business.

Bobby: Oh. Right. My girl invites some man into my house without telling me…it’s none of my business.

Clara: (in tears) You don’t even care about her!

Bobby: I’m paying-! (swallows his frustration) Put your coat on. We’re going to fucking Le Fleur.

Clara: (distant) If only I would’ve gotten there a second sooner…

Bobby: Let’s go.

Scene vi.
Dr. Sol’s laboratory. The storm has subsided. Dr. Sol and If sit on a freshly placed carpet in front of the covered creature, tea cups in hand. Violet sits in her usual spot, bobbing her head to the music playing in her headphones. Dr. Sol gazes lovingly at If as he pours him some more tea. The moment is ruined as Violet’s head-banging becomes more fierce and she uses some nearby objects as drumsticks which she (silently) bangs against anything within reach. Dr. Sol scolds.

CAPTION: “Violet, will you stop that racket?!”

Violet hears nothing and continues her raucous activity. Dr. Sol, patience worn, marches over and tears the headphones from her ears. He points toward the hallway, barking.

CAPTION: “Leave here this instant! I need peace! Unplug everything in the house! Internet. Cable. Telephones. Everything! No more interruptions from you or the outside world today, thank you!”

Violet leaves in an irritated huff. Dr. Sol, smiling widely, returns to If. Sweetly, the doctor speaks.

CAPTION: “It means so much to me that you’ve returned.”

If gestures to the thing under the sheets, saying.

CAPTION: “Says the man who’s almost done building my replacement.”

Dr. Sol is aghast. Shaking his head, he assures.

CAPTION: “Oh no! No! No! No! Nothing could ever replace you! This is something…else entirely.”

If’s eyes narrow and he takes a sip of tea. Dr. Sol places his hand on If, whispering.

CAPTION: “My bed has been quite the lonesome place without you.”

If freezes, grows somber and removes Dr. Sol’s hand from his person. He explains.

CAPTION: “I only wanted to see if you were okay. Nothing more. Feelings do not just…fade away into time and distance, whether they are good or bad.”

Dr. Sol, saddened and embarrassed, turns away, muttering.

CAPTION: “I made you.”

If, for the first time exhibiting his power and monstrous potential, turns Dr. Sol’s face to him, snarling.

CAPTION: “But you do not own me. Just like you will not own this newest creation. Mark my words, old man.”

If rises and Dr. Sol reaches for him, distraught. If speaks.

CAPTION: “It was good seeing you, William.”

Dr. Sol jumps to his feet and pleads.

CAPTION: “Dearest If, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I kept you from the world for so long! I’m sorry I lead you to believe that this was it and that my love was the only love! But please, stay. Help me make things better with this one.”

Dr. Sol gestures toward the thing under the sheets. If looks at it, then at Dr. Sol. If closes his eyes and declares.

CAPTION: “I will visit when I can. If only to make certain this creature knows that it is its own master.”

Scene vii.
Joe’s office. The papers are piled even higher. Joe is eating a sandwich as one might imagine a  starving wolf tearing through a young deer.

Narrator: Isn’t this a sight? Slow down, man! As much of a welcome surprise it is to see you putting something into your mouth that isn’t 40 proof and wrapped in a paper bag, you’re no good to anybody dead on the floor from a clogged trachea. And don’t think I didn’t see the way you looked at the girl who put that sandwich together for you. You should go down and talk to her. Ask her out. She’d make an honest man out of you. Get your act together. Ah, what am I saying? As far as causes go, you’re about as lost as they come. How’s the case coming along?

Joe, sandwich in one hand, forages through his mess of papers.

Joe: Jesus!

Narrator: That good, huh?

Joe continues to scan his notes. He comes across a newspaper clipping. Just as he’s about to cast it to the side, he is struck with a thought.

Narrator: What’s this? A newspaper clipping?

Joe sits his sandwich on the table and lifts a small journal in his free hand, looking curiously between it and the clipping.

Narrator: That article, that’s…that’s about the serial killer half of the city’s looking for. You don’t think-? No. That there’s a connection between the serial killer case and your insignificant little side project, do ya? Come on, Joe! Yours is an isolated incident in the city. We’re talking about sixteen girls all raped, strangled to death and found in the woods…miles away. Sure, your girl was raped. Strangled, too. And yeah, most of the girls found in the woods had homes in the city…and just about all of them were confirmed runaways. No friends. No real family. Just like yours. Hm. It’s a longshot, Joey, God knows…but maybe you’re on to something…

Scene viii.
Bobby’s condo. Bobby is sitting in the dark, talking on the phone. There’s a storm rumbling on outside.

Bobby: Bobby-Two! How are you doing tonight, my best of friends?! What?! No. Nothing like that. Can’t a guy just call his friend and- Look. Okay. I need you to come over on Friday. Yes, I know! Don’t- I’m not asking you to cancel your trip to Vegas. Just to postpone…a little. Come on! After all I’ve done for you! Look! Wait! Listen! It’s Clara! No, she’s fine. She’s fine! It’s just…that guy I was telling you about. Yeah. Him. He’s coming over for some kind of…talk and I need you there in case we have to…in case he starts to put the moves on her I need you to help me maintain my property, ya know? Because I love her, that’s why! (pause) Nevermind that. They’re just whores. Barely people. Just get your ass over here on Friday. (pause) Ah, that’s my Bobby-Two! Ha ha! What? Oh. Fine. That’s my…Bobby (he mouths the word “two”). What’s that? Oh. Oh, that. I’ve got enough to get by. Don’t worry. I’ll bounce back from this. I’m Bobby Sol. Ha. See ya Friday, bud.

Scene ix.
Dr. Sol’s lab. The storm is (silently) raging like never before. Dr. Sol, Violet, and If surround the thing under the sheet. The Doctor is giddy with excitement. If stands expressionless. Violet chews on gum, blows a bubble and holds up a wired plug of some kind. All are wearing their goggles up. Dr. Sol looks to Violet. Violet pulls her goggles down over her eyes and nods. Dr. Sol nods, pulls his goggles down over his eyes and produces a device from his lab coat pocket with a large switch on top. Dr. Sol and Violet turn to If and he, too, pulls his goggles down over his eyes. Violet plugs in her wire and all manner of things start to light up. All eyes are on Dr. Sol as he makes a spectacle out of flipping the switch in his hand. When he at last does so, lights flicker and flash. The Doctor bellows.

CAPTION: “It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!”

Violet rolls her eyes behind her goggles, smacks herself in the face and shakes her head at the Doctor’s cliched statement. If crosses his arms. The arms of the thing under the sheets rise toward the sky and it sits straight up, still completely covered.

Scene x.
Bobby’s condo. Bobby sits on the couch, deep in thought. Clara enters, dressed to perfection, as she fastens her earring.

Bobby: Well, look who’s all dressed up. What’s the occasion?

Clara: I don’t need an occasion to look spectacular.

Bobby: Obviously.

Clara: Zip me.

Bobby rises and zips Clara’s dress.

Bobby: The things I do for love.

Clara: Thank you.

Bobby: No problem. So, when’s the man of the hour coming over?

Clara: He should be here any minute. And be good.

Bobby: You got it. Oh, I invited Bobby-Two.

Clara: What?

Bobby: I figured, you’re bringing a friend. So can I.

Clara: You’re a bully.

Bobby: I thought that’s one of the things you loved about me. Like how I handled those guys at the bar that one time.

Clara: That was a horrible day for me.

Bobby: It was the day we met!

Clara: It was the day she died! It was the day I found her… And this isn’t some frat party, Bobby. Mary was very important to me.

Bobby: You hardly even knew her.

Clara: I knew enough to know she deserved better than what she got.

Bobby: Hmph.

The doorbell rings.

Bobby: (moves toward the door) Allow me.

Bobby opens the door and Joe enters.

Joe: (obviously surprised to see Bobby. He’s immediately unnerved by the other’s presence as he tries to hide it) Bobby.

Bobby: Joe. It’s been too long, bud. Come on in.

Bobby leads Joe to the couch,being certain to place himself in between he and Clara. He places his arm around his girlfriend and smirks at the detective. Joe’s eyes rarely leave Clara. It is obvious that she has a firm hold on him from the start.

Bobby: What do you have for us? Something? Anything? Lord knows I pay you enough. You’d hope something would come of my investment of love.

Clara: Bobby…

Bobby: What? I hired him to find out who killed your friend and it’s been, what, five months and he hasn’t given us anything we couldn’t get from the evening news. So Joe…whaddaya know?

Joe: (clears his throat) Well, I-

The doorbell rings.

Bobby: Hold that thought. (rises and moves toward the door) Jeez, Joe, you smell like cheap liquor. (opens the door. Bobby-Two enters) Bobby-Two! My friend! Just in time for the party! Get in here!

Bobby-Two: Hi, Bobby. Clara. (produces a bottle of wine) I brought wine. (to Bobby) Hey, Bobby, help me bring up my luggage? The cab driver’s charging by the minute. I figured I’d just leave for the airport from here in the morning.

Bobby: I… (looks to Clara, who is concerned with Joe) Yeah. Okay. Hurry up.

Bobby and Bobby-Two exit.

Joe: I thought he wasn’t going to be here!

Clara: I know! Me too.

Joe: Thanks for the head’s up…I can’t face that man, unprepared.

Clara: Sorry, Joey.

Joe: Don’t worry about it. (pause) You look real nice tonight.

Clara: Thanks. You, too.

Joe: Ha.

Clara: Ha. You do…

Joe: How much longer is this going to go on? I can’t stand it anymore.

Clara: As long as it has to, Joe. You know this.

Joe: It’s making me crazy. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. The thought of you and him…It just-

Clara: I know. I know. But this is how it’s gotta be. You’re saving up all the money he’s paying you, right?

Joe: As much as I can. Work’s been a little slow lately.

Clara: Maybe if you didn’t drink so much…

Joe: Clara…

Clara: I’m serious.

Joe: I hate this.

Clara: We need the money.

Joe: So, what? We just keep robbing this guy while you pretend to give two shits about this sleazy little girl-

Clara: (smacks Joe) Don’t you dare speak about Mary that way.

Joe: Jesus…

Clara: I loved that girl like a sister. That’s why this is all so believable.

Joe: Remember the old days? Before all this shit?

Clara: I remember you were a handsome cop and I was a bad girl.

Joe: You still are.

Clara: (playful) Joe…

Joe: The guys told me to stay away from you, but I didn’t listen. You got me wrapped up in all sorts of nonsense, but I didn’t care. I knew from the moment I laid eyes on you that you were the one.

Clara: (half-listening) Yeah…

Joe: (sobers up) Can I say something?

Clara: Ha, of course you can, Joey.

Joe: Sometimes I think there’s no expiration date on this scam…That you like being with this guy. That I’m the one getting used.

Clara: (pause) I don’t know what to say to that other than you’re just going to have to trust me.

Bobby: (enters,dragging a small suitcase) We’re back! Hope I didn’t miss anything good!

Bobby-Two enters with two large suitcases.

Clara: Nope. Nothing.

Joe: We were waiting for you.

Bobby: I bet.

Clara: Bobby, what’s with all the luggage?

Bobby: Baby, don’t be upset but…Bobby-Two’s going to be staying here for a little while. Until he gets himself back on his feet. (to Bobby-Two) I know you didn’t want me spilling all your secrets, but we’re all friends here. We know you’d do the same for us. (guides Bobby-Two and seats him between Joe and Clara) Sit down. Take a  load off. I’m going to see how Rosa’s coming with the drinks. (exits)

Clara: Bobby, this is Joe. Joe, Bobby. He’s the one investigating Mary’s murder for me. Bobby’s my Bobby’s friend from college.

Bobby-Two: Nice to meet you.

Joe: Same.

Clara: Bobby, I’d heard about the trip to Vegas getting cancelled but I had no idea things had gotten like this. You know you’re always welcome here. Anything Bobby or I can do to help, just let us know.

Bobby-Two: (irritated) Clara…

Clara: Yes?

Bobby-Two: Listen. About all this talk about-

The doorbell rings. Everyone pauses, as if sharing the same feeling of unease for no good reason.

Clara: (calls to the kitchen) Bobby!

Bobby: (off-stage) Yeah?

Clara: Are you expecting anyone else?

Bobby: (off stage) No. It’s probably the cleaning lady.

Bobby-Two: (stands up) I’ll get it.

Bobby-Two opens the door and in walks Dr. Sol, dressed in a three-piece suit, with If, stunning as always.

Bobby-Two: Um…

Bobby enters, happily, with a tray of mixed drinks.

Bobby: Round one is served!  Hors d’oeuvres will- (he notices Dr. Sol and musters all available self-control to keep from dropping the drinks all over the floor) Uncle Bill?! W-what are you doing here?

Dr. Sol: You extended an invite, my boy, and I accepted!

Bobby: But…but-

Dr.Sol: If we’re not welcome here, we can surely-

Bobby: No! (calms himself) No. Stay. Of course. Sit. Drink. Everyone, this is my Uncle Bill and his…

If: Associate.

Dr. Sol: If.

Bobby: Right. If, the associate. Great. Okay. Come, Uncle. Both of you. Sit. Drink. Be merry and all that. Ha.

Joe: (to Clara) Maybe I should come back at a better time…

Bobby: I think he’s on to something…

Clara: (to Joe) Not until you tell me what you’ve discovered.

Dr. Sol: Discovered…?

Bobby: He’s our personal psychic. All the rage in the city.

Dr. Sol: Personal psychic? No wonder you’re running out of money…

Clara: What?

Bobby: Oh, Uncle Bill and his crazed accusations. Ha…stop it, Uncle. You’re too much.

Bobby-Two: Maybe I should be going…

Bobby: No! No…you’ve got nowhere else to go…

Bobby-Two: Oh, I can think of a couple…

Bobby: (sharply) None as surrounded by love and loved ones and fun and games as right here so stay put! (to Dr. Sol) Uncle. Uncle’s giant friend. Sit, please. Regale us city folk with tales of the countryside.

Dr. Sol looks to If, who nods in agreement.

Dr. Sol: That is exactly why I am here, my boy. You see, I, Dr. Sol, have been working on a project like none the world has ever seen. Equal parts science and art and magic and (glances at If) love. Yes. In my constant quest for perfection my experiments have born many fruit, each a different flavor from which I sampled and, through them, acquired a higher, more fulfilled plane of existence. I was recently informed by my wise, wonderful…associate…that to keep such things to myself was selfish…it was cruel…and I’m sorry (to If) I am so sorry… (gathers himself and addresses all) and vow, from this moment forward, to share all my discoveries will the world! And so, without further rambling on my part… (calls to the hall outside of the condo) You can come in now!

In enters something covered in a sheet held tightly against itself so that not an inch of it is visible. There is a crackling tension rising from Joe, Clara, Bobby, and Bobby-Two.

Dr.Sol: Introducing my latest creation: The incomparable Then!

THEN, early 20s, a girl with unnatural beauty, removes the sheet from herself at last. She stands before the others, fully in color from head to toe. Her clothing, like a rainbow. Flowers are braided into her hair. The others are in complete shock. Bobby-Two is frozen in disbelief. Joe leans forward, mouth hanging open. Clara shrieks and Bobby passes out.

Lights down.

ACT II

Scene i.
Act II begins with darkness. Then emerges the voice of a radio newscaster, guns blazing.

Newscaster (recorded): Kip Freely here, bringing you breaking news from KP997, The Buzz. What started as a loose sprinkling of crazed conjecture has exploded into near frenzy as more and more citizens of this fair city are reporting sightings of something beyond our vocabulary to properly describe!

Guy (recorded): I was grabbing a hot dog on the corner of Second and Houston when I saw her. It…it was definitely a her but…I’d never seen anything like it. I only saw her for a split second- she was in the back seat of an old Caddy, head poked out of the window, full of wonder- but I can picture that face like I had a lifetime to study it. Incredible. There was something about her that I…I just can’t find what to call it…she was…brighter, somehow. Yeah. Brighter.

Newscaster: These “Bright” sightings have been popping up all over the city. The phones here at the station have been ringing off the hook. No one’s quite sure how many are out there, where they came from or what they want, but I think I’m with the rest of my listeners when I say, I’m chomping at the bit to find out!

Scene ii.
Joe’s office. It’s a bit brighter than it’s ever been before. There are less papers on his desk and the ones that are there are, for the most part, neatly organized. There is a half-filled glass and no bottle of scotch in sight. As always, he is burdened by some weight on his shoulders, but the burden seems lighter somehow. Joe toils at his work, focused like never before.

Narrator: Hey, Joe. Whaddaya know? (pause) Joe. There’s something different about you. I haven’t seen you looking this put-together since you were on the force. That’s been what? Ten, fifteen years now?

Joe’s phone rings. He answers.

Joe: Hello? Oh, Mr. Henderson. How are you? Fine. Fine. I uncovered some information on the whereabouts of your son, including an address and a friend he’d been tagging along with for the past few months. I emailed it to you about an hour ago. Right. As soon as you’re home then. Let me know how it all works out.

Narrator: I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Joseph Powers working on a case that isn’t connected to that two-timing floozy, Clara. What’s going on here?

Joe stops what he’s doing and rests his head on his hand, staring longingly into nothingness.

Narrator: Ah, I see it now. It’s that girl from the other night isn’t it? What was she called? Then, I think. The one they’re calling…bright in all the papers. It’s been days, Joe, and you only saw her for an hour, hour and a half. Two, tops! Jeez, Joe, sure she was the most beautiful girl this side of the ocean, seemed about as sweet as a cherry pie, sharp as a razor and said the most interesting things anyone’d ever heard…but that’s no reason to fall head over heels for her; especially since, not three days ago you were tangled up in hurricane Clara…not that I’m complaining, of course. You seem to be doing okay for yourself. And if I had to choose between one or the other, well…I think you know where I’m going with this.

Joe rises from his chair.

Narrator: Joe?

He straightens his tie.

Narrator: Joe. What’s going on? What are you doing?

He exits in a hurry.

Narrator: Joe!

Scene iii.
Bobby’s condo. Bobby sits, hunched over, upset. Clara is dancing around him, admiring herself. Bobby-Two sits beside him.

Bobby-Two: How are you feeling, Bobby?

Bobby: I’m fine.

Bobby-Two: You don’t look so good.

Bobby: I’m fine, I said!

Clara: It’s no use trying, Bobby. It’s been a week and he still won’t talk about it.

Bobby: What’s to talk about?! I saw that…thing and I fainted!

Clara: My baby’s just embarrassed.

Bobby: (snaps) Would you two just-?! (calms) Leave me alone.

Clara: (to Bobby-Two) How was Vegas?

Bobby-Two: It was great.

Clara: I’m so amazed you could afford it with all those money issues…

Bobby: Clara…

Clara: Bobby.

Bobby: Shit.

Bobby-Two: Tell you what. There wasn’t a thing in that entire city that could hold a candle to your Uncle’s “creation”. All the glitz and glam and flashing lights and all I could think about was that girl, Then. Wow.

Bobby: Feh.

Bobby-Two: Ha. You weren’t conscious long enough to catch a glimpse of her.

Bobby: I caught enough. It’s not right.

Clara: She was beautiful.

Bobby-Two: And the way she’d speak…the things she’d say… Wow.

Bobby: Could we talk about something else, please?

Clara: I highly doubt you’d want to do that right now.

Bobby: Ugh.

Clara: Anyway… (to Bobby-Two) Robert Johanssen, I think you’re in love.

Bobby-Two: Clara!

Bobby: Clara…

Clara: I see that little twinkle in your eyes. You love Then.

Bobby: Quit it, Clara.

Clara: It’s adorable! Oh, I know… (Clara produces a piece of paper from her purse) You should go see her! Yes!

Bobby-Two: I…um…

Bobby: No!

Clara: Yes! Yes! Yes! (hands the paper to Bobby-Two) Here is Uncle Bill’s address. He’d said that if we needed anything to just come by for a visit. Such a sweet and not at all senile old man. (to Bobby) Has he turned his phone back on?

Bobby: Clar- Ugh. No. Not since yesterday.

Clara: Perfect. (to Bobby-Two) Then you go visit. Say that we tried to call and couldn’t reach him. Tell him that Bobby’s condition has gotten worse and we’ll need…five…six…eighteen thousand dollars to cover the procedure. Yes! There’s your excuse! You’ll see the girl and pick up the check and we all win! (forces Bobby-Two toward the door) Now go, Bobby-Two! Go! Go! Go! (pushes him off-stage)

Bobby-Two: (re-enters) I don’t know-

Clara: Do you want to spend your whole life being Bobby-Two or do you want to start taking some risks, following your heart and maybe even becoming Bobby One? (to Bobby) I hear there’s an opening. (to Bobby-Two, sweetly) Please, Bobby. I can’t go all the way out there alone and we really need the money.

Bobby-Two: Fine.

Clara: Yay! This the the beginning of something wonderful for you. I can feel it!

Scene iv.
Dr. Sol’s lab. Violet is working, headphones on. Then enters, unknown to Violet, a splash of color. When Then speaks there is none of the rest of the play’s style in her voice. She is utterly and genuinely real.

Then: Hey. I’m Then. (Violet hears nothing) You’re Violet, right? I remember you were there when I woke up. Dr. Sol and If say that you don’t like to be bothered, but…you’re a girl like me and I was hoping that we could be friends.

Violet starts to (silently) drum on the counter.

Then: Oh, that looks like fun.

Then picks up two random items from the lab and begins to drum as well…except her drumming produces an actual sound. Violet slowly notices Then mimicking her actions as well as the sound that Then is able to produce. Violet removes her headphones and produces a small beat with her makeshift drumsticks. Then imitates it, with the addition of sound. Violet does this twice more, with increasingly complex beats. Then executes them perfectly and Violet stops and stares at the strange girl beside her.

Then: Hi, Violet. I’m Then. Would you like to be my friend?

Then extends her hand and, realizing that Violet has no intention of responding, pulls it back.

Then: Why do you stay hidden in this laboratory when there’s so much world to discover out there? (Violet is quiet, but listening) I don’t know much of it yet, but I would be happy to show you. (pause) You should come with me into the house. Dr. Sol and If are talking and laughing and everything is wonderful now! You won’t even recognize them!

Violet: I can’t. Eep! (covers her mouth, startled by the sound that burst forth from inside her)

Then: Hehe. (takes Violet’s hand in hers) I can see in your eyes that you’ve been hurt. I’ve seen the hurt in so many eyes these days. It’s cold and it’s dark and it makes everyone afraid of love. But I’m telling you, Violet, that there is no need to be afraid or to hide in this place. Dr. Sol couldn’t survive without you here. If would not exist. And certainly not me. You are needed. You are loved.

Then releases Violet and takes a step back. She then extends her arm with a wam smile.

Then: Friends?

Violet shows signs of emotion and slowly removes her glove from her right hand. Much to her surprise, her bare hand is in full color. Then giggles. Violet smiles and grab’s the other’s hand in her own.

Violet: Friends.

Dr. Sol: (from off-stage, drunk with joy) Then! Violet! Get down here! The party’s just getting started! Woohoo!

Then: Ready?

Violet nods excitedly.

Then: Excellent.

Then grabs Violet’s colored hand and pulls her toward her creator and If. Before they exit there is a knock at the laboratory door. Both stop and look at one another. There is another knock.

Bobby-Two: (off-stage) Hello? Is anybody there? There’s so many doors in this place. It’s Bobby’s friend! I’m here for Dr. Sol. It’s about his nephew.

Then: Oh! The nice man from the city!

Then skips to the door and opens it. Bobby-Two enters, clutching a bouquet of flowers, instantly smitten.

Then: Hi, Bobby’s friend! Welcome! Come on in! You’re just in time for the party!

Scene v.
The woods at night. In addition to the trees there are a few stones and fallen branches on the ground. The design makes it seem as though the forest is larger than the actual space of the stage, allowing characters to travel substantial distances without exiting. Wolves and owls and other creatures of the night perform their off-putting symphony as Joe enters then stops, spotting something in the distance. He keeps moving.

Narrator: Well, isn’t this a sight? Joe Powers scampering around in the forest like a lost squirrel. How in the world did we get to this juncture? Everything seemed to be going so well for ya. Wait a minute. This is the forest that all those girls were buried in, isn’t it…give or take a few miles? What’s your angle, Joe? What’s-

Joe pulls a single withered flower out of his pocket. He then pulls out a pair of binoculars from the same pocket and looks intently through them, off into the distance.

Narrator: I should’ve guessed. That serial killer case is the farthest thing from your mind, isn’t it, Joe? You’re peeping into the old doctor’s house, trying to catch a glimpse of that Bright girl, aren’t ya? Jeez, Joe, you’re an embarrassment to us all.

Joe’s demeanor brightens.

Narrator: Spotted her, did ya?

Joe’s expression goes blank…and then annoyance sets in.

Narrator: What now? Oh, I see. She’s in there dancing with another man…and, from the looks of it, he came with a bigger bunch of flowers, too. This is an inescapable product of the life you chose, pal. Go home. Get your head together. And don’t go running back to you-know…oh who am I kidding?

Joe throws the flower on the ground and sulks away. His foot kicks a pile of leaves, revealing a small wallet.

Narrator: What’s this?

Joe picks up the wallet and examines it with a detective’s eye.

Narrator: A wallet. What’s a wallet doing out in the middle of the-?

Joe’s eyes widen as he examines its contents.

Narrator: Is that? It is! It’s Then’s driver’s license, but she’s not so…bright in it.

Joe draws out a set of plastic-sleeved photos and explores them. A few moments pass and he pulls a particular picture from it’s sleeve, pocketing the wallet and the rest. Mouth hanging open he can’t take his eyes off of it.

Narrator: Joe? What’s going on in that- ?! Oh. I see. That picture. It’s a picture of Then and…and…

Joe exits in a hurry.

Scene vi.
Bobby’s condo. Bobby and Clara sit on the couch, spread out and dazed as if all the class had seeped out of them.

Clara: Being poor is awful.

Bobby: No. Having people know you’re poor is awful. This is fine. This is temporary.

Clara: How do you know?

Bobby: Because anything else would be unacceptable.

Clara: Ugh. I’m hungry.

Bobby: Have Rosa make you a sandwich.

Clara: I fired Rosa.

Bobby: You did what?!

Clara: I fired her. She was expensive.

Bobby: She’s been with the family for eighteen years!

Clara: She cost you $8,500 a month.

Bobby: Oh.

Clara: Yeah.

Bobby: Well then. No more sandwiches.

Silence passes between them.

Bobby: Clara?

Clara: Huh?

Bobby: Do you love me?

Clara: What a silly question. Of course I love you, Bobby Sol.

Bobby: Even poor?

Clara: (pause) Even poor.

Bobby: You’re a better man than I.

Clara: What about you, Bobby? Do you love me?

Bobby: Honestly? I don’t know if I’ve ever loved anything. I’m almost positive I’m incapable of such a thing. But if, by some off-chance, I have it in me…you’d be the one I’d spend it on.

Clara: How romantic.

Joe bursts onto the scene, waving the wallet in the air.

Joe: I’ve done it!

Clara: Joe!

Bobby: What in the name of-?!

Joe sits down beside Clara and shows she and Bobby the picture. Bobby looks queasy.

Clara: (gasps) It’s Mary! And is that…?

Joe: Yeah. It’s Then. Before she turned Bright and changed her name, I guess. She was a girl named Alice Swanson, according to her driver’s license. She fits the M.O. of all the other victims. No family. On the wrong side of the law. And, according to my files, has been missing for over a month.

Clara: Where did you find this?!

Joe: I was…investigating the forest where they found most of the bodies and came across this.

Clara: What does it mean?

Joe: (to Bobby) The place I found the wallet…it wasn’t too far from your uncle’s house.

Bobby: Oh yeah?

Joe: And that’s not all. On my way out of the woods I almost fell right into it.

Clara: Into what?

Joe: An open grave.

Clara: No!

Joe: It was fresh, too, and a set of footprints lead right up to your uncle’s doorstep.

Bobby: Oh…

Clara: (tearing up) Bobby. Bobby, do you know what this means?!

Bobby: I…

Clara: Your Uncle Bill killed those girls! He killed my Mary!

Bobby: That’s…I mean, I always knew he was eccentric, but…never this…

Clara hugs Joe tightly, for a moment.

Clara: (to Joe) You did it! You really did!

Joe: (practically gushing at the attention she’s giving him) Well, I…

Clara: What happens now?

Joe: (gathers himself) I march up there and I bring him into my office for some questioning. I just wanted to tell the both of you in person first.

Bobby: Thanks, Joe. Whatever we can do to help…

Joe rises as Bobby-Two, in full color, enters as if king of the world.

Bobby-Two: Hey, guys, notice anything different about me?

Bobby: Jesus Christ, Bobby…wh-what happened to you?

Bobby-Two: It was Then. She and the doctor and If and Violet…it was incredible. Ha. (reaches into his pocket and throws Bobby the envelope) Here’s a check from your uncle for twenty grand. Money. Ha. All paper and nothingness. Enjoy it while you can, my friend. Soon you will understand that this is all meaningless. Pollution. A diversion. The weak man’s refuge. Bobby…the future is bright.

Joe exits as the lights go down.

Scene vii.
Dr. Sol’s living room. Everything, people included, is in full color as the music plays and Dr. Sol, If, Then, and Violet dance and prance and lounge and play in their righteous rainbow world.

Dr. Sol: Eat, drink and be merry, my friends! Wahoo!

Violet: I feel like I’m flying!

Then: You are, Violet! Your feet will never touch the ground again!

If: (to Dr. Sol) I’ve seen the world. I’ve felt its pain and I’ve felt its pleasure, but this is my home. This is where I am from and this is where my story will end.

Dr. Sol: Oh, my love, you have no idea how that makes me feel!

If: If it’s half as good as I’m feeling right now then the rest of the world will envy us both.

Dr. Sol and If embrace.

Dr. Sol: Then! Violet! Get over here!

Then and Violet join the embrace.

Then: I think I’m the happiest that anyone has ever been.

Violet: I feel more complete than I ever thought possible!

Dr. Sol: Oh, my precious Then. My beautiful If. My blossoming Violet. We’ve found perfection, haven’t we?

Suddenly, as if snapped out of a trance, Then steps away from the others and stares to the ceiling.

Dr. Sol: Then? What’s wrong, dear?

Then: It’s just that there’s so much sadness in the world, Doctor. So very much. And we’re so happy. The world is full of the most wonderful people and they suffer while we have everything. It’s not fair…

Dr. Sol: You can’t save everyone.

Then: But we can try.

If: She’s right. We have too much to offer. We can’t keep it locked inside this one house. It’s selfish. It’s…evil.

Dr.Sol: Yes. Yes, of course. I almost lost you once because I did not give you to the world. I’ve learned from my mistake. To the car, everyone! There’s work to be done!

Scene viii.
Darkness. A montage of voices fills the air, starting with that of the radio newscaster from the beginning of the act.

Newscaster: Kip Freely from KP997, The Buzz, here to interrupt coverage of yet another body found in the City Strangler case with breaking news! The Brights are out tonight! The calls are flooding in as Bright sightings reach a fever pitch in midtown! For more, let’s go to Fiona Ferrara on location at 43rd and Broadway…

Fiona: Thanks, Kip! I’m standing here with Teddy Fox who claims to have… (fades out)

Partygoer: It was crazy, man! Me n’ my bros were chillin’ at the bar and there they are! Like, ten of ‘em! Dancing and smiling and…it was- it was nuts!

Young Woman: Oh my god! Oh my god! It’s the Brights! They’re real! They’re really real!

Man: One of them. The one with flowers in her hair. She sat down with this guy. They were talking, just talking, but there was this…I don’t know…this connection between them. You could almost see it. Then he starts crying. I swear to God, this huge guy breaks into tears and, I kid you not, his eyes turn that kind of blue and his cheeks turn that kind of red…just like a Bright’s.

Bag Lady: They’s angels, they is. Angels sent from above to save us all! Alleluia! Alleluia…

Scholar: I looked at one of them, a tall, handsome fellow, straight in the eye. We took each other in. There was nothing but purity in there. Truth and happiness and…purity. And then he moved on. The moment passed. I don’t know how I can look at anything else and find it the least bit beautiful again…

Wildman: I’m transformed! I’m beautiful! Look at me! I am the future! I am eternity! I am love!

Woman: I don’t know what to make of this…

Boy: …it’s weird, but cool…

Old Man: No such thing…

Officer: …keep everybody calm…

Old Woman: It’s an epidemic!

Partygirl: I wonder if the tall one’s single…

Fiona: What a night it’s been so far and the stories keep coming in. Here with me is Dan Sanders from out of state. Tell us what you saw…

Dan: Yeah, okay, so the Brights were doing there thing, right, when this guy comes up and starts talking to the old Bright. He was, like, getting in his face and things got pretty heavy. Guy pulls out a pair of handcuffs and the tall Bright looks like he’s ready to fight, but the old one calms him down. Guy slaps the cuffs on the old guy and they go driving off. The other four Brights stand around for a while, crying or whatever, and then hit the scene some more.

Fiona: Fascinating. If what this boy says is true, what people are calling Bright Night is just the beginning of the headlines these people will be making come tomorrow.

Scene ix.
Joe’s office. The desk is turned perpendicular to the audience and Joe, sitting on one side, faces Dr. Sol, on the other, handcuffed to his chair. The Doctor is completely at ease, taking in his surroundings and the situation with wonder and curiosity. The same cannot be said for Joe, tense as ever with so much riding on this interrogation. He places a recording device on the table and begins,.

Joe: I’m going to record this.

Dr. Sol: Alright.

Joe: (gathers himself) January 18th, 2012. Detective Joseph Powers here with Doctor William Sol discussing probable connection to the City Strangler serial murders. (to Dr. Sol) Do you know why you’re here, Dr. Sol?

Dr. Sol: (chuckles) Well, judging by your conversation with that little machine just now I’d say you’re trying to convict me of murder.

Joe: (clears his throat) Are you a murderer, Doctor?

Dr. Sol: Heavens, no. The decision as to when someone’s soul departs this plane is not a judgement call I, or any other man, has the right to make.

Joe: What do you know about Mary Sandino?

Dr. Sol: Nothing at all, I’m afraid.

Joe: What about the City Strangler?

Dr. Sol: I’m sorry?

Joe: Dammit, man! They practically found the bodies in your back yard!

Dr. Sol: (thinks) Ah, yes. I recall Violet mentioning something about police officers and questions and whatnot a while back. I was in my lab at the time. Not to be disturbed.

Joe: Who’s Violet?

Dr. Sol: My lab assistant. Not very talkative until recently, but a sharper youth you will never find.

Joe: So you knew nothing of the Strangler?

Dr. Sol: You must understand, I don’t get out much. And television and the Internet are not for me. I can’t waste time when there’s progress to be made.

Joe: Hm. Okay then. What’s your relationship to Alice Swanson?

Dr. Sol: I don’t know anyone by that name.

Joe: Hm.

Joe reaches into his pocket and slides the picture across the table to Dr. Sol.

Dr. Sol: (scoops the picture in his hands) Oh, how delightful! It’s Then before the transformation. It seems like just yesterday…

Joe: Her name is Alice Swanson.

Dr. Sol: I’m sure it was.

Joe: I found her wallet in the woods about a quarter mile away from your home.

Dr. Sol: I see.

Joe: Not fifteen feet away from what I can only think was an open grave.

Dr. Sol: Yes. Yes. Of course. That’s where we found her.

Joe: Found her…

Dr. Sol: Oh, yes! What fortune. Violet and I were searching the forest for some inspiration…sometimes scientific breakthroughs can exist right under your nose and, lo and behold, we stumbled upon this freshly covered grave. My assistant and I spent half the day digging her up, carrying her to the lab and cleaning her off.

Joe: You dug her up?

Dr. Sol: Oh yes. The specimen was in wonderful condition. Not a discovery to be left to waste! Did you know that during the civil war, scientists such as myself would use the bodies of fallen soldiers to further their studies? Why, a pair of anatomists-

Joe: She wasn’t dead!

Dr. Sol: Of course she was! She’d been down there for days!

Joe: (pauses to take it all in) But- If she was-

Dr. Sol: Oh, basic re-animation. I’d be happy to walk you through the process…

Joe: So you brought her back from the dead…

Dr. Sol: Oh no! I’m not God. I simply utilized the body as a sort of foundation from which to bring a whole new life into existence. Between you and I, I’d never planned on re-animating anything again.

Joe: You’ve done this before?

Dr. Sol: Only once. A few years ago. You’ve met If. Wonderful as Then is, If will always be my first and hold a special place in my heart.

Joe: Jesus…

Dr. Sol: …had nothing to do with this. Though I cannot help but think he’d approve. Soon peace and love will spread throughout the entirety of this planet. Go out into the streets. Its already begun.

Joe: You’re nuts.

Dr. Sol: (chuckles then grows deadly serious) How quick you all are to defend a status quo that has brought you nothing but grief. You think you understand; that you’re in control of your destiny when the reality is that allowing yourself any sort of freedom; any sort of power, terrifies you. So you accept your shortcomings, your pain, your fear, your grief as an inescapable part of life when they are actually the weapons used by the powers that be to imprison you…and you accept this as the way it must be. Well, let me tell you this, Detective: You might have convinced yourself that you enjoy the life of a lonesome, hardened slave, but myself and those like me are the truth. We are freedom, change and immortality. Either you will accept our truths or fade, half a man, into oblivion.

Scene x.
Bobby’s condo. Clara rests on the couch, flipping through a magazine.

Clara: (speaking to Bobby, off-stage) It’s all over the news, Bobby. The stuff with your uncle. He’s in police custody now. Can you believe it? They say there’s fifty Brights protesting outside of the station. Fifty! Can you believe it? There were barely five of them a couple nights ago. And that poor Alice girl. She’s protesting, too, after what he did to her. She doesn’t even remember her own name, poor thing. I wonder how he did it. I wonder how long he’ll get in prison. Life I bet!

Bobby enters, zombie-like, slowly moving toward Clara, who is wholly unaware of him.

Clara: Or- (gasps) -maybe he’ll get the death penalty. It’d serve him right after what he did to my dear Mary and all those other girls. On the bright side, if they kill him all of that money he’s been hoarding will probably go straight to us. You don’t think he’d leave it to that big guy, do you? No. Of course not. You’re family. So far they haven’t connected you to that homocidal bastard, thank God. What would our friends say? It’s all anyone would talk about the second we entered a room. I don’t know if I could stand it-

Bobby strikes, grabbing Clara by the neck.

Clara: Bobby!

Bobby: Shut your mouth, you fucking slut!

Bobby tightens his grip as Clara struggles to speak; to fight him off with no success.

Bobby: You traipse around like you’re some perfect little princess, but I know you’re the same low-life breed of whore that your friend Mary was. I heard you snooping around her boyfriend’s front door when I was finishing her off, so I stabbed the bitch and ran out the back way. I had to see how much you saw, so I followed you to the police station, the post office, the salon until you finally stopped at that bar where we had our “chance” meeting. I knew you didn’t recognize me by the way you didn’t scream bloody murder when our eyes met. Your so-called devastation over Mary’s death sure didn’t stop you from noticing my fancy watch and fucking me in the back of my limo.

Clara goes limp.

Bobby: I would’ve killed you right there, drove you out into the forest, if you hadn’t mentioned your detective friend somewhere between those stripper-whore squeals and how you’d hired him to find out who killed your friend. I figured, what better way to keep one step ahead of the cops than to keep you close.

There is a knock at the door that goes unnoticed.

Bobby: It wasn’t until later that I realized he was just some washed up investigator, but I thought, what the hell. Even if he never came up with anything, a gold-digging bitch like you would be the perfect alibi while I was out strangling all your old friends to death.

Another knock.

Bobby: But now…now I’m off the hook. My uncle’s taking the hit for me, bless his heart. I’ll get his money and- and I’ll disappear. Ha

Joe enters, not realizing what he’s seeing at first.

Bobby: And if that detective tries to point a finger at me I’ll drag his alcoholic ass into the-

Bobby stops. He slowly turns to Joe, who is moving toward him. Bobby stands and tries to speak, but is knocked to the couch by Joe’s left hook. Joe looks at Clara.

Bobby: (hazy) She ain’t worth-

Joe knocks him out. He kneels down beside her, checking her pulse. He goes pale and numb at the realization, taking his time taking it in.

Narrator: (pause) Dead.

Joe rises to his feet, eyes fixed on her.

Narrator: If you had been a few minutes earlier instead of wasting time with all those reporters, maybe things would’ve been different. But here you are. Too little, too late. When they make a movie about you, I think that’ll be the title. Too little. Too late. She’s gone now, Joe. How are you feeling? What are you thinking? Say something for Christ’s sake. Anything!

Joe: I…I’m free.

Joe lets out a nervous laugh.

Joe: I’m free.

Narrator: Hm. Hey now. Maybe there’s hope for a guy like you yet in this world…

Joe smiles to himself. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a single flower. It’s a beautiful rose, red, fully colored. He gently drops it on Clara’s body.

Joe: The future is bright.

~PLAY END~

Now or Never

It’s no secret that a lot of things are in a bad way. The economy’s out of whack, cutting jobs and raising prices and sending the overall morale of a people into a nosedive. We’ve got this war on our hands and this whole political shift of power, hope-filled as it might be. Oh! Oh! And let’s not forget that ever so tiny addition of our own personal problems going on in our own heads and our own lives. I’m not saying that these are the worst times (Who the heck am I to say that?). All I’m saying is that change is needed, and I’m not talking that political definition which usually results in what would be the equivalent of replacing a few loose nuts and bolts on the Death Star. I’m talking a complete overhaul.

You see folks, tens of thousands of years ago a bunch of early men and women, directly following that “hunter-gatherer/ everything is magic” era, started forming civilizations and coming up with a bunch of really (and I mean REALLY really) retarded ideas as to how things should be run. That’s when mankind and their not-so-hidden desire to be “god-like” gave birth to the whole class system thing, judging success and power by how much higher your position was than some other guys’. They discovered early on that boundaries and limitations were to be made between peoples because as long as they were maintained, the lower classes could not rally up against a tyrant that could be so easily thwarted otherwise. But boundaries and limitations weren’t enough to do the job on their own. Nope, punishment was crucial in making sure folks would “know their place”; a system based on scolding wrongdoers instead of rewarding do-gooders. In other words…man discovered the greatest weapon of them all: fear.

Fear. Fast-forward to the present tense. It rules everything. EVERYTHING! Fear of getting caught, fear of disappointing someone, of failure, of rejection, of trying something new. This is what we’re taught; what we’re raised on: a political, social and religious trap we step into the moment we’re born. Religion. Organized religion, to be a bit closer to what I mean. Boy oh boy, how I could go on about this forever. About the use of fear to force a group’s interpretation of an ancient moral code. What is the Devil, what is Hell, if not the biggest freakin’ religious (and political- don’t pretend it’s not) scare tactic ever concieved. Like I said, I could go on…and I will in a bit. Now or never, right?

Let’s take this global playing field and zoom in a bit to what’s really important: you. The individual. The government, the afterlife, art, the environment: these are all mind-bogglingly massive ideas that are so steeped in their own paradoxes and problems that we as single souls cannot even begin to adjust, alter, or destroy our perception of such things until we know ourselves. And we cannot even begin to know ourselves until we learn how to be free.

FREEDOM. Capital letters. Important freakin’ word. We are the products of our society. Anyone who tells you any different is an idiot. Society shapes us, gives us those boundaries and limitations, fears, initial wants and needs. We are spoon fed a big box of planks and nuts and bolts and a manual on how we are expected to put it all together. It’s as simple as that. But true living (never to be confused with merely being alive), true experience and growth can only come with seeking out that elusive and beautiful “something more”. In life we are given countless opportunities to gather more pieces, be shown more manuals. We have the option of taking them or leaving them. Our decision should be the result of a series of educated guesses and checks and trials and errors that result in us finding out exactly who it is we want to be. Gather your parts. Make new parts. Become your ideal self. And do not (I repeat, DO NOT) use someone else’s manual, because someone else’s manual is just that. Not yours. It can never be fully fulfilling (or, I should say, fully freeing) because you are trying to fit your unique one-in-a-trillion self into someone else’s design. It’s cramped. And here’s the part that gets people’s underpants all up in a twist: There is no manual more dangerous, more deceptive, than that of the organized religion.

Rrrrreligion. I told you we’d get back to it. Prepare to feel strongly. Heh. Religion is an entire set of rules, views, and beliefs that have been wrapped into a nice little package for you by the hands of powerful dead men claiming to be guided by a greater being or power of some sort. Be it a royal family living at the top of a mythical mountain or a carpenter’s son who can return from the dead, they are stories passed on by men to explain and control in the easiest way possible. And the only reason the gods of Olympus seem ridiculous and the magic Jew does not is because of thousands of years of mental conditioning (not to mention the powers-that-be marketing Jesus in contrast to the usual fear-tactics, despite that being the inevitable result of all Western religions). I think Jesus was a great guy with a great manual. But it was his. Not yours. Do I think religions do good? Of course they do (so do politics)! But they also promote isolation (whether they intend to or not) which promotes a sort of closed-mindedness towards people of other faiths or belief systems. And in a world where togetherness is not only a goal, but an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY, that’s just not going to cut it anymore. But at the end of the day, Christians and Atheists and Scientologists can dream of a world where everyone agrees with them all they want. It ain’t happening. Acceptance and finding a common ground is where it’s at, people.

I got a little global on you there again, so let’s zoom in one more time and briefly talk about one of the keys to a perfectly beneficial life: BALANCE. Living any part of your life in the extreme will blow up in your face eventually. It’s a fact of life. Just look at the infatuation phase of any relationship. Either tone it down or it’s over. Balance, that yin and yang, complete internal and external equality, is what we seek. Between thought and action, war and peace, fear and courage, logic and emotion, introvert and extrovert, follower and leader…science and religion. There it is again. I fully believe that there is something far greater than what we know to be real, the organisms and physics that science is oh so eager to explore and dissect. Just look at how biologically perfect life is. The environment, symbiosis, photosynthesis, plate tectonics, the birth of stars and planets, mitosis, carnivores, volcanoes, tides and how each and every one of those and a billion more things are so intricately connected, so perfect, that there must be some unseen force of origin. Some energy that is beyond us. And why can’t it also be the core of whatever it is that causes a mother to just know when something has happened to a child, dreams to give glimpses of the future, and prayers to be answered where science and logic say that the fight is no longer worth fighting? Call this thing God or whatever, but don’t let someone convince you that it has any human feelings or prejudices. It’s beyond our pettiness. Heck, insects are beyond our pettiness! Anyway, balance. Good stuff. Everyone’s is different, but you’ll know it when you find it.

Question everything. Don’t take that rather short sentence lightly because it could damn well be the most important sentence in this whole thing. Questions are the only road to answers. Don’t hold back…now or never.

So let’s say we’ve gathered all of our parts and we’ve drawn up this lovely manual to our specific specifications and we’ve built our ideal self. Congratulations! Your journey has just begun. Why, you ask? Well, I’ll gladly tell ya! I’ll start off with something that for some stupid reason people find so hard to define: The Meaning of Life (Ooo! Ahh!, right?). Well, in case you haven’t heard me spit this out before, the meaning of human life is LOVE and GROWTH. That’s it. That’s all. Like I said, we’re all connected. And as such, we have a responsibility to the land we live on, the animals we share this land with, the plants we share this land with and, of course, our fellow human beings. Each and every one of us has an unimaginable effect on all of these things and through love, we can make it a positive one. (PS, you don’t have to like something to show love toward it…Got it?). On to growth. Existence is a series of beginnings and ends, mostly circular, but each rotation is slightly different than the last. From protoplasm and Pangea to dinosaurs and sea monsters to skyscrapers and capitalism. Life is birth, growth, and death. It is an evolution of species and ideas. What does not change for the better will come to an end. Reconnecting this with the beginning of this paragraph, the point is this:

Your manual is never complete. Your journey never ends. Write that thing down in pencil because you will erase, rewrite, and in the darkest most desperate times in your life, you will have to tear that piece of philosophical paper, that blueprint to your individual religion, into pieces and start over. It can be stressful and terrifying and come out of left field, but change or die and never betray who it is you want to be. Hope is great as long as you don’t put all your faith in it, because then you become a slave to the future, while letting the present (the only place a change can happen) slip through your fingers. Whether a bump in the road to something eternal or the alpha and omega itself, this life is the only one we’ll ever have like it. Our homes, our friends, our enemies, our chances to make a difference. This is it. Things are rough in a lot of ways, yeah, but focus on the good and you’ll be fine. Focus on your individuality and you’ll be free. Focus on a better today for the world we all share, and your life will have meaning.

It’s now or never.

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