Theatre, arts, culture, politics, and snark from a practicing playwright and recovering journalist.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Bombardment, Episode 18: Five Feet Off the Ground, Heels Clickin'
Splattworks continues its presentation of Bombardment, a two-act drama by Steve Patterson. The author will attempt to post an installment each day, but, if events intercede, installments could arrive a day or so apart. So please be patient.
PLACID: You call it yours, they want it. They want these chairs and that pipe, that knife and this paper. Your bracelet, your necklace. They'll rip it from you, never mind the cuts. That dress. Gone. They'll steal the underwear right off your ass. And they want this space. That’s what they want most of all. The dry air. The heat. Feel it. Nice and warm. Not like outdoors. Warm in winter, cool in summer. What they dream of. Out there. Freezing. Faces breathing on the glass. Lips open. Teeth yellow. All you can see are eyes. Glowing. They see in the dark. Fly through the air. Breathe under water. They'll do anything to get what you have.
CARMELITA: It's not true.
PLACID: The hell you say.
CARMELITA: Not the poor. I know the poor. They're too busy staying alive.
PLACID: That's what they want you to think. They're so vibrant! So alive! They make couture out of dishrags! Turn plate scraping's into high cuisine! Give 'em two spoons and a empty oatmeal box, and you got an orchestra! And they love! How they love! Love, love, love all the time. In a way we'll never know. In a way we can't imagine! I've heard it all!
PLACID backs CARMELITA onto an armchair.
PLACID: I've heard it, and it's a lie. Like all shows of respect are a lie. Yes, sir. No, sir. You know best, sir. I know because I've done it. Said it. Felt the cut. You say it because you have to. Because you don't want your raise jerked. Your job jerked. Your life jerked. There's a cord ‘round your neck, and all it takes is a tug, whoop, you're five feet off the ground, heels clickin'. You want to know why? You really want to know why? Because at the heart of it, it's gimme'. Gimme' your house, gimme' your job, gimme' your position. Your leverage. Gimme' one little thing, and I'll take the rest. Because, babe, I'll never be satisfied. The second I'm satisfied, the rest of them catch up. You're lucky. You just wander past the outstretched hands, and wonder why everyone acts the way they do. I'll tell you. We're animals. All of us. Whether we're rich or poor, whether we hide it or not. That's all there is. And I like it. I'm good at it. It's why I breathe, why I eat, why I get up in the morning. Gimme', gimme', gimme'!
PLACID kisses her savagely.
CARMELITA: Placid, that's not it at all. We should open the doors.
PLACID: You're crazy!
CARMELITA: Let those people in. It's cold out there.
PLACID: They'd strip us out in five seconds!
CARMELITA: We can break it. Can't you see? It's a cycle. It goes on and on until someone puts a stop to it.
PLACID: Let someone else put a stop to it! I'm gonna' live!
CARMELITA: How long can you live like that?
PLACID: I'm livin' to be old and rich.
CARMELITA: Are you? You said it yourself: they're all struggling to get in. You think you can keep them out forever?
PLACID: I’ll fight ‘em.
CARMELITA: Every single one, Placid? You'll fight them all at once?
PLACID: If I have to.
CARMELITA: All the time? When you're sick? When you're sleeping? You want to be rich. You want to grow old. How will you fight them then? When your bones snap if you fall, and the fat hangs over your belt, and you can't catch your breath? You're fight every man Jack of them? Young guys? Guys as strong as you are now?
Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian.