66 Years in the Making!
3 Plays for a Quarter!
Yes, it’s true!
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Published on: April 14, 2016 | Last Updated: April 14, 2016 4:00 AM MDT
Reid Dickie was a mentor to a young Steve Burgess. ROSENA FUNG / SWERVE
Many pop-culture giants have died in 2016. David Bowie; Glenn Frey of the Eagles; Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane; Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire; Reid Dickie of Shoal Lake, Man. I realize that last name will lack resonance for most people. But in my world Reid Dickie was a rock star. He was that rare treasure some people find—a mentor, a role model. A personal giant.
Reid died on Feb. 21 in Winnipeg. My shock upon seeing his obituary on Facebook was twofold. There was the fact of his death at only 66, and the fact that other people had taken notice. But why wouldn’t they? Reid Dickie was a legend in Winnipeg circles, a pioneer of alternative FM radio, creator of bizarre music videos for the likes of Pere Ubu, and, later, along with his beloved late wife, Linda Tooley, the proprietor of the Corydon Avenue clothing store If You Have to Get Dressed in the Morning. Together they founded the DickTool Co. to showcase their art. As a young man he self-published a book of poems called Prism Prisons and later created an art piece by nailing copies of it to a wooden frame and leaving it outdoors all Winnipeg winter. He called it “Reverse Miracle—bad poetry treated badly.” One of his projects was titled “Typographical Man Beheads Himself With His Own Acts.”
So the fact that Reid’s death would be publicly noted should not have been surprising. Yet I was still surprised. Because in my illogical universe Reid seemed like a personal spirit, like the “familiar” of ancient mythology who acted as one’s otherworldly helper. My long-ago friendship with him was so much a part of my personal history that I forgot he also existed for other people.
I was 14 years old. Our family home in Brandon, Man. was just down the street from the headquarters of CKX Television and Radio. At the time, CKX was the only game in town in both of those media. Reid Dickie was the late-night DJ. Benefiting from the lack of management scrutiny at that hour, Reid would play an eclectic array of music that would have been remarkable even on a station that didn’t typically feature the likes of Paul Anka and Tony Orlando & Dawn.
One night I called to request a song called “Satori Part II” by the Flower Travellin’ Band. He dutifully spun it, then followed up by saying, “Yeesh, that was terrible.” (He had a case. It’s on YouTube. Judge for yourself.)
Incensed, I called back. We ended up chatting for two hours. He invited me to drop by the station some night. And I did. I would creep quietly to the phone and call first so he could leave the side door open. Then with a careful tread across creaky floorboards I would slip out the back door and down the dark street. Reid would buy me a soft drink from the station’s vending machine. I would sit in the control room while he spun records and we would shoot the breeze about music and whatever.
It all sounds potentially sordid. It wasn’t. Perhaps I was naive but, if so, I was also lucky. Reid was not seeking teenage groupies to satisfy dark lusts. He was a 23-year-old guy stuck playing records in the middle of the night in the middle of cultural nowhere. I was a precocious and enthusiastic lad with a lot to say, perhaps not all of it youthful drivel, willing to keep him company through dreary all-night shifts. We were pals. Unlikely ones, but still.
Reid was wise enough to worry about appearances. Part of my eager embrace of counterculture involved early drug use, and Reid was rightly concerned not to be seen as corrupting a minor. Still, he would allow me to visit his basement suite on Saturday mornings—Saturday was his day off. There I was introduced to his enthusiastic amateur art career. Reid was always doing something creative. Decoupage was a favourite medium—he would cut out magazine photos and create sweeping visual epics that he insisted told specific stories (which he would then explain while guiding you through the imagery). Reid was also the uncredited inventor of Toilet Art, which involved putting colourful kitchen ingredients into the bowl and flushing for a brief but brilliant effect (some elements, like uncooked spaghetti, would survive the catastrophe). Reid’s favoured perspective was the absurd. I recall listening to the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and Frank Zappa among countless other discs on those Saturday mornings. He celebrated the bizarre and the ridiculous wherever they could be found or created. “Hello, freak!” he would greet me, and I knew there was no higher compliment.
He eventually escaped to Winnipeg and, while I visited sometimes, we lost touch. Long after his radio career ended he launched a blog, readreidread.wordpress.com, that revealed a deep love for prairie landscapes and architecture. He published books: Manitoba Heritage Success Stories, Carberry Heritage Walking Tour, and a novel, Play the Jukebox. After decades of silence I was amazed and delighted to get a LinkedIn message from him last year in response to some update I had posted. “Way to go Steve! Nothing but blue skies and green lights ahead. Be happy, Reid.” I answered but got no reply. I did not know he was unwell.
During my teenage years, Reid had been my cool older friend, a source of personal pride, a badge of hip, evidence that I could hold my own with a genuine grown-up hipster. What I was to him I can’t say. Nor did I realize at the time what effect our friendship would have on me. It was more profound than I could have grasped at the time.
It seems most obvious in the fact that I would later spend 15 years on my own trek through Western Canadian radio, spinning my share of vinyl on lonely overnight shifts. But my radio career never seemed to be Reid’s most important influence. He used to tell me, earnestly: “Remember—you can be anything you want to be.” That stuck. More important still was Reid himself—his values, his example, the means by which a role model shapes your life.
Reid was brilliant but not particularly talented. No matter. He lived the creative life with full commitment. He neither had, nor to my knowledge ever sought, financial comfort. Reid possessed the true spirit of the artist—his greatest desire was to live a life of creation. That was the example I found most enduring. That’s why he has always loomed so large on my personal horizon.
And even more crucially, he cared. He took an interest. Reid Dickie saw something in me that he considered worth encouraging. Simply by granting me respect and acknowledgement, he provided me with an entree into a larger world. That’s the generosity of spirit at the heart of mentorship. Young people who find such angels can count themselves among the luckiest.
I can’t live up to Reid’s standard. Good role models do that, too—remaining forever just out of your grasp so that you must always keep chasing. I wish I could have spoken to him again. I hope he understood just how much I appreciated his friendship and support. A young person could have no better example.
With gratitude and love I dedicate this book to my parents, Helen and Bruce Dickie, whose gifts I used every day of my life, and to Linda, who lit my way.
Available now at McNally Robinson
Moments away from puberty, young Jim Crawford begins to discover how his newly effervescent maleness gives fresh meaning and expression to manhood in his family, friendships, community and beyond. Set in a small Canadian prairie town just as the tumultuous social and cultural changes of the 1960s begin, Play the Jukebox is a character-driven story entwining bright wholesome and dark pathological expressions of masculinity. As his own unique gifts reveal themselves, Jim learns the heights and depths to which men will go to defend family and future and how shared experience creates diverse forms of camaraderie between men and women.
Jim’s life revolves around pop music and records. The 45 – the little record with the big hole – is king; radio disc jockeys, record players and jukeboxes spin the seven-inch discs constantly. He discovers intimate links between hit songs and his own development as he travels from town to town changing the records in jukeboxes with Percy Peel, a mystery media mogul who leaves lasting impressions on Jim. As they did for millions of 1960s youth, The Beatles play a defining role as one of Jim’s change agents.
McNally Robinson: If you are coming into one of our stores, we suggest that you confirm that the book you want is in stock by emailing the location nearest you: Grant Park, Saskatoon, or by phoning the location nearest you.
Inspired by my friend Kevin, a few years ago I started experimenting with scripts. I searched through short stories to use as the basis for scripts. Prisoners of Urge and Function evolved out of a story called Dearie’s 55th Birthday Party, an absurd affair that plumbed the depths of my dark side. I expanded the yarn to include an unusual narrator. After several re-writes I came up with this full-length script. So far it is unproduced. I offer it as a dark comedy.
Prisoners of Urge and Function
As the family gathers to celebrate Dearie’s 55th birthday a dark comedic journey into disease culture and cruel surprises begins…but it’s still a party.
Eat to live.
© Reid Dickie 2013
AUDIO ON BLACK: OS BEEPING OF HOSPITAL VITALS MONITOR, CONTINUOUS
BLACK SCREEN, WHITE LETTERING
Prisoners of Urge and Function
BLACK SCREEN, WHITE LETTERING
“Babies are occasionally born with gills or tails but this is not publicized, instead it is hushed up.”
– Ernest Becker
BLACK SCREEN, WHITE LETTERING
“There is still no cure for the common birthday.”
– John Glenn
EVANGELINE PILIPPS, 62, lies propped up in a HOSPITAL BED. She is emaciated, almost bald. Her breathing is shallow with a hint of a rattle. She appears near death. The machinery monitoring her vitals beeps softly, strangely, almost musically.
Seated in a chair on the left side of the bed is PAPPY PILIPPS, 65, Eva’s husband of 45 years. PAPPY holds his wife’s shrivelled HAND, slowly caressing it. His face is creased with sadness.
On the other side of the bed DEARIE PUNYON, 43, sits in a chair holding her mother’s other HAND. Dearie is their youngest daughter. She dabs her eyes occasionally with a bright electric BLUE HANKIE.
Both DEARIE and PAPPY wear dark colours.
EVANGELINE gives a mighty COUGH and wheeze that lifts her slightly in the bed. PAPPY and DEARIE flinch to attention. With her HAND, on the first finger of which is a clip-on pulse monitor, EVANGELINE weakly motions for Dearie to come closer. DEARIE leans close to her mother’s face as does PAPPY.
EVANGELINE (STRUGGLING TO SPEAK)
Dearie, I need to tell you something important. Come closer dear. Can you hear me?
I can hear you, mother.
Listen closely. On the day after you turn fifty-five years old, that day you will be able to see human auras, those bright lights we all keep hidden under a bushel. The day after your 55th birthday, do you understand, Dearie?
I think so. The day after I’m 55, I’ll see people’s auras. Is that right, mother?
Yes, good daughter. You now know what a little bit of your future looks like, Dearie.
EVANGELINE turns toward Pappy
Pappy, did you hear what I just told Dearie?
I heard it, Eva. I understand what you said. If I’m still kicking when that day rolls around, I’ll be sure and remind Dearie what you said.
My genius husband, will you miss me at all, you old loaf?
Of course, Eva, every day for as long as I can live. I’ll be all right, the kids will be all right. We’ll be the left-behind for a little while but we will all eventually catch up with you.
EVANGELINE (FACE IS SERENE)
Good bye clods of clay. Hello sweet birds. Flying with you now. Flying with you now.
EVANGELINE’S head slumps to one side, her eyes close slowly and a WRY SMILE ascends onto her lips. The monitor goes FLAT LINE and a steady tone slightly out of phase with itself fills the room.
DEARIE sobs loudly. PAPPY nods and weeps silently.
OS there is the LOUD CLICKING of someone walking quickly in high heels on a hard floor along with a small irregular metallic JINGLING. As the sounds get louder they begin to MIX oddly RHYTHMICALLY with the flat line monitor and the sobbing family.
The source of the clicking, DELMA ACHENHEAD, 46, Pappy and Eva’s eldest child, a ravishing but slightly fading beauty, DRESSED to the nines in bright colours and MADE UP perfectly, strides to the bed.
Oh damn, did I miss all the fun?
DEARIE (IN TEARS)
She’s dead, Delma. Our mother is dead.
Long live Mother. Email me the funeral details. Adios.
DELMA turns on her heels and walks quickly toward the door as a HANDSOME YOUNG DOCTOR enters the room. DELMA STOPS in front of him, blocking his path. His NAME TAG reads “DOCTOR CELERY.” DELMA takes half a step back and lasciviously EYES him from head to toe and back again, RUNS her right index finger down his shirt front and LICKS the finger. Several metallic bangles jangle from DELMA’S right wrist.
A faint smile traces across the DOCTOR’S lips and his eyes brighten slightly. DELMA’S expression changes from INTEREST to DISGUST.
DELMA storms past HANDSOME YOUNG DOCTOR and out of the room, the LOUD CLICKING of her shoes and the JINGLING bracelets resume and fade.
HANDSOME YOUNG DOCTOR, with slight consternation, looks down and touches the front of his shirt, shakes his head slightly, walks to the bedside and turns off the flat line tone. PAPPY stands.
HANDSOME YOUNG DOCTOR places his stethoscope on Evangeline’s chest.
HANDSOME YOUNG DOCTOR
My condolences Mister Pilipps, Mrs. Punyon. She’s gone. Time of death: 2:34 p.m. Cause of death: general cancer. My sympathies are with you.
HANDSOME YOUNG DOCTOR writes on the patient information chart and leaves the room.
From wide shot at foot of bed of all three people, slowly PAN into EVANGELINE’s dead face set in peaceful collapse, the small smile still trickles on her lips. CU on her face and HOLD.
During the pan CANCER speaks in voiceover.
Although never seen CANCER is a character you get to know very well. Toy with many ideas on what the voice of CANCER sounds like.
Score another one for the good guys. She was an easy one. None of your techno chemical voodoo worked for her. She was mine right from the first cellular collapse which happened in her liver after she consumed something innocuously toxic – the blue dye used to colour cotton candy. I seized that unguarded moment and, with my usual tenacity, wouldn’t relinquish. Her liver was yummy, as I recall. In great debilitating gulps I drank her precious fluids which were laced with a beautiful elixir and my best friend – sugar. After that I went for her guts and bone marrow. I had her spine for dessert. “General cancer” as the punk in the white coat called me. Hey doc, salute when you say that.
FADE TO BLACK
black SCREEN white letterING
Twelve Years Later
DEARIE’S 55th BIRTHDAY PARTY
A large very bright KITCHEN with BLACK AND RED CHECKERBOARD TILES, shiny hanging things, knickknacks on corner shelves. There is a 1950s feel to the room but there are several cupboards or doors or decorative items that are out of place due to their odd angles, their inability to fit where they should, odd clashing colours accentuate the incongruencies.
DEARIE, her hair in a swoopy BOUFFANT style, dressed in a 1950s chiffon over taffeta PARTY DRESS with big well-crinolined skirt, possibly polka dots but bright, that makes a swishing sound every time she moves. She busies herself at the counter.
WILF PUNYON, 57, Dearie’s husband, enters the room carrying a LARGE BAG labelled PFC in each arm and gripping a string above which floats a RED HELIUM BALLOON. On one side of it in white letters it says, “Do you have a map?” and on the other side, above a pair of crossed-eyes, it says, “Because I keep getting lost in your eyes.”
WILF wears a SWEATERVEST which is several sizes TOO SMALL for him and which moulds his body contours into an odd shape over a white shirt with a sensible bowtie that clashes with the sweatervest which is BLACK AND RED CHECKERBOARD just like the kitchen floor. Wilf deposits the bags on the counter.
And a simple balloon for my birthday girl.
WILF gracefully BOWS offering DEARIE the string of the balloon. DEARIE takes the balloon, surprise and delight in her eyes and mouth.
Oh Wilf, for me. You dear thing. You know I love balloons, especially red ones. (READS) “Do you have a map? Because I keep getting lost in your eyes.” Awww…Wilf.
DEARIE gives Wilf a PECK on the cheek.
I know just where to put it.
DEARIE walks out of the kitchen with the balloon.
There’s more. Right back.
WILF leaves by the back door. DEARIE returns balloon-less and starts opening the bags and dealing with their contents.
In the center of the room is PAPPY, now confined to a WHEELCHAIR, a small one he can manoeuvre himself. He is wearing a tattery old MAROON SMOKING JACKET with black lapels and a worn family crest over the heart and black sweatpants. PAPPY has a grey FUZZY unkempt BEARD and wild white hair.
Who’s the peckerhead in the checkerboard sweatervest? One contractive verb, two preps, one adverb, six bad sperm counts in a row, one snowman and three compound spillage nuns.
Oh, how you love those compound words. That’s Wilf, Daddy. My husband. You’ve known Wilf all his life and he’s not a peckerhead.
WILF returns with two more bags of PFC.
Who’s not a peckerhead, as if I even have to ask.
Just you, dear.
Oh good. I still hold the title then.
Yes, you do, dear.
Ah, the satisfaction! Still undefeated, the reigning World Champeen Peckerhead, it’s stil old Wilfy boy, as deemed by His Royal Highness the Compound Word King on wheels.
Birthday. Wilf. I’m using my most chipper explaining voice because it’s my birthday.
One anorexic verb, one perforated vowel, three poofs, one possessive, 17 nouns, three corpuscles and an oolong ingsoo in a ligament stew. Yes, he is a peckerhead. Adverb, noun, verb, incisor and I’m going to kick you in the nuts so hard…
DEARIE/WILF (IN UNISON WEARILY)
I’m going to kick you in the nuts so hard all your children will have cleft palates and six nipples.
DEARIE smirks. WILF hoots twice.
Good one, Paps, my old pap smear pappy-in-law.
On an unflattering three-shot of DEARIE, WILF and PAPPY.
Well, here we are again with the droopy Pilipps bunch. It’s a special day though. It’s Dearie’s 55th birthday. Her mother’s dying prophesy looms.
The partygoers have many secrets and I have many secrets, too. One of them is that Dearie, along with everybody else at this shindig, is auditioning for me tonight. Who among this sad smorg of humanity will wind up as prime rib on my menu and get to become me for the rest of their sordid lives? I’m looking for someone yummy. Personality and talent pale against good old-fashioned scrumptiousness. Yet I do crave new things, new tastes as I forage for something unique among the dross, seeking the truffle in the dreary human understory. When I have reached a decision you’ll be the first to know. As I mentioned and although not readily apparent, every person at tonight’s party has a secret, a deep dark secret which imprisons them, all of which will be revealed soon.
You have so much to look forward to. Meanwhile, let’s review my menu choices. First there is our dear birthday girl, Dearie.
Follow DEARIE as she busies herself getting the CHICKEN BUCKETS open, plates and cutlery in order and so on.
What should you know about chipper little Dearie?
Well, for one thing, Dearie believes that ginger ale cures everything. Just the other day she was telling her neighbour, Bambi Moocow…
DEARIE and BAMBI sit on a porch swing slowly swinging back and forth. BAMBI is in her 50s, highly MADE-UP with 50s style hair and clothing. She has several black MOLES on her face. Both WOMEN swig GINGER ALE out of bottles.
Do you know what I’ve discovered, Bambi?
Ginger ale can cure cancer. And you know how I discovered that?
Well, I had a dark red thingy growing on the lips of my thingy…
DEARIE fluffs her hands near her crotch.
…but it went away after two weeks of drinking ginger ale all day. I swear Bambi, it’s the cancer miracle the world’s all waiting for.
DEARIE busies herself in kitchen.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
First hon, that wasn’t cancer on your thingy. I’m not a doctor so I can’t tell you what is was but I’m 100% certain it wasn’t me. Second, I’m not afraid of stinkin’ ginger ale. In fact, I thrive on its dense sugars. Drink up, girl.
What else about Dearie? Every day Dearie ingests a new wonder drug. “You’ll wonder if it’s working,” as their GP, Doctor Timothy Parthree, had framed it. The drug is called Vistagoyim, an experimental treatment for astigmatism, a condition which has plagued Dearie her entire life. Besides some serious to violent white bread cravings and a small blue rash behind both ears…
Push through her HAIRDO to CU BLUE RASH behind one of DEARIE’S ears.
…the only other side effect of Vistagoyim is occasionally seeing Jesus.
When this happens, which is slightly too often for Dearie’s comfort, Jesus never speaks to her. He just nods and smiles blissfully and silently stares at her even when she tries to start a nice conversation with him. Dearie is always surprised that Jesus can’t even talk about the weather! Recently Dearie became frustrated with the frequency of Jesus’ visits. When she mentioned to Parthree that she was thinking of renting Jesus a room, the doctor’s reply was, “He’s allergic to feathers so no down pillows or comforters, okay?” That’s not Dearie’s secret. Her secret is yet to be revealed.
Also on tonight’s menu is Dearie’s alcoholic husband of thirty years, Wilf Punyon, who has a very juicy secret but later for that.
WILF does a series of completely USELESS ACTIONS that indicate he is hapless in the kitchen but excellent at OPENING wine bottles and DRINKING their contents. He opens the FRIG DOOR and stares in, bent over with his arm across the door as if it is out a car window.
For all of his adult life Wilf has made a living as a mortuary attendant. Not a mortician, the distinction is important. A mortician does hands-on work involving solid human remains. A mortuary attendant “attends.”
An ORGAN drones a dirge as weeping MOURNERS file into church.
A COFFIN rests in front of the pulpit.
WILF stands as described, feigning sincerity.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
Wilf is one of those guys in black suits that you see at funerals who stand in calm authority, hands gently clasped in front of their privates, aligned with the grievers in every empathetic way, a bastion of serenity in a roiling sea of anguish, available for any expected or unexpected work that the circumstances might arouse – from bearing the pall to buttressing the grief-stricken to simply exuding tranquility. His expression is appropriately glum so you’re not sure if he’s working or if he’s one of the begrieved.
WILF closes the frig door without doing anything in the frig, walks to the counter and swigs back most of a glass of red wine.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
Another distinction between the mortician and the mortuary attendant is who drives. Only certified morticians drive the hearse, attendants are relegated to being chauffeurs in the company limos.
Despite Dearie’s occasional exhortations on how Wilf could easily become a mortician with his experience, Wilf’s aspirations extend no further than his role as attendant. Wilf prefers standing around. One man’s rut is another man’s calling.
For most people being a mortuary attendant would be easy work. But since Wilf is immature, completely self-centered and has enormous difficulty taking the role of the other, his job challenges him everyday.
Other than the painted doll-like faces of strangers he sees at open casket funerals, Wilf has never seen a dead person, nor has he ever touched a dead person. Someone else whom Wilf has never touched, not even to shake hands, is Pappy, his father-in-law.
Oh, Pappy! Though not near the top of my menu, Pappy Pilipps would do in a pinch.
Pappy Pilipps, the wily patriarch overseeing the final decline of his gene pool on which drifts the neutered flotsam and jetsam of the Pilipps family tree, wind shot and broken, boonlessly living out their doom.
Due to his age, Pappy has the largest and most diverse array of secrets of anyone here, many of which he will reveal very soon. Ever since his mind started to go, Pappy has lived with Wilf and Dearie in their roomy bungalow.
PAPPY does some absent minded GESTURES in the chair appearing to be completely out of it.
Pappy is short for Papyrus, a name chosen by his father, at one time the world’s foremost authority on ancient papers. Papyrus Cloydion Pilipps became from his teen years on simply, adequately, Pappy, his moniker shortened as was the family name from Pilippshik when his father with family in tow emigrated from Austria to escape the dirty war.
Today though, as a retired English professor, seemingly all old Pappy Pilipps retains about life, now that the Alzheimer’s is erasing him, is how to break down his own and other people’s sentences grammatically, more or less. Whenever he does this, his family members pay close attention to his words as if they were earnest students clinging to his every wise dropping.
One stifled jack-off verb when she knocked on the door, two triple shaft combos that are just a fantasy from your army days and the fourth eclipse of the moon this month spooks the dog, Badly. Who’d name a dog Badly? A correlative creepiness abounding with sugary coating that is actually chemistry gone astray, and an adverbial contruncual sumptive with a culicee on the final syllabalee.
PAPPY slumps in his chair, apparently ASLEEP, beyond grammar. Two FINGERS on his right hand TWITCH on the chrome handles of his chair making dull thuds.
There is a short knock on the backdoor. GENEVA PILIPPS and her fiancée RUFUS SWITZER arrive each carrying two bottles of wine.
GENEVA, 28, Wilf and Dearie’s only child, waddlingly overweight, has a LARGE FAT HEAD with a SMALL DOLL-LIKE FACE. On her tiny Betty Boop mouth bright RED LIPSTICK gleams which she REFURBISHES often during the party, dressed in a large loose black dress with no sleeves and flat shoes.
RUFUS, 42, BALDING, PORCINE, PALE, attempted moustache, dressed in a short sleeve pale blue shirt with large CONTINUOUS PATCHES OF SWEAT under the arms and across the shoulders and a pair of BEIGE trousers.
Hi, kids! Welcome to my birthday. Hugs, baby.
Before GENEVA is able to put the wine bottles down, DEARIE tightly EMBRACES her. DEARIE’S arms don’t even reach HALFWAY around GENEVA.
Happy birthday, mother. We brought wine.
RUFUS extends the bottles and a birthday card in an electric BLUE ENVELOPE toward his future mother-in-law.
Happy burfus, Mersus Punyoung.
RUFUS SHAKES his head and SCOWLS because he got it wrong.
DEARIE cringingly HUGS RUFUS while making a FROWNY FACE, chipper falls away for just a moment. She WIPES her hands on a dish towel as if they got wet from touching Rufus, accepts the wine and the card.
Thank you kids.
On unflattering two-shot of GENEVA and RUFUS, their eyes unlikable slits in unlikable faces.
Aha, the offspring and the unsprung have arrived to add their utter lack of vivaciousness to the proceedings – they are Wilf and Dearie’s daughter and lone issue, Geneva Pilipps, and her fiancée slash curmudgeon, Rufus Switzer. She’s twenty eight, he’s forty-two. Unmarried, Rufus and Geneva share a two-bedroom apartment overlooking The Cloisters.
GENEVA and RUFUS each GRAB a bottle of wine, screw-off caps, POUR full glasses and DRINK enthusiastically.
Geneva is in the daycare business, that’s daycare for children under six where she is a certified babysitter. She’s worked at the Stand Up Straight Or Else Daycare Complex for five years ever since graduating from an advanced course in childminding at the Institute of Bizarre, Practical and Everyday Skills.
Geneva owns a Serbian crotchhound…
A large HOUND, weirdly CLIPPED and COLOURED to resemble no other kind of dog, attentive, SLAVERING, sits obediently.
CANCER (VO) (CON”T)
…a rare and exotic creature of which there are only nine on the entire planet.
DOG BARKS strangely.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
Bred in the dark Ages, Serbian crotchhounds served an arcane but still relevant function as canine early-warning systems. The dogs were used exclusively in brothels to sniff out venereal disease in customers before they had sex.
With their highly evolved sense of smell, many dogs have been known to sniff me out in their owners though that is something your scientists and doctors refuse to believe is possible. More of your denial, more luck for me, huh?
Geneva’s dog is named Whiff.
WHIFF walks toward RUFUS who is seated on a sofa wearing only BRIEFS, his legs spread apart.
WHIFF digs his SNOUT into RUFUS’ CROTCH, vigorously sniffing and burrowing, saturating the briefs with his COPIOUS SALIVA.
RUFUS moans and sighs, CONTORTING with pleasure.
Serendipitously Rufus is just enough of a pervert to frequently satisfy his sexual urges by enjoying Whiff’s intense olfactory investigations.
Otherwise Rufus is infertile, incapable and unfecund because of a childhood accident that left him painfully shy and thoroughly neutered. He often mixes up his words and becomes the object of ridicule among his friends, family and acquaintances who go to great lengths to humiliate and degrade the poor man.
RUFUS and GENEVA drink copiously.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
Rufus’ last name is Switzer so when, if, he and Geneva wed, she becomes Geneva Switzer. That and the no-babies future have got Geneva thinking of late that Rufus may not be the one. He’s kind and kind of interesting but he’s suddenly started to tell pedophile jokes.
Wilf, I got a good one. What’s the best thing about having sex with twenty-eight year olds?
WILF smiles and shrugs, intrigued.
There’s twenty of them.
RUFUS GRINS and snorts. WILF’S EXPRESSION changes from being PERPLEXED until he gets the joke then to REPULSION as he backs away from RUFUS. PULL BACK to whole room.
Plus Rufus’ daily habits sometimes appal Geneva. Rufus enjoys taking long baths in various kinds of food.
In SIDE VIEW, RUFUS is seated in the BATHTUB. Along the EDGE of the tub are at least a DOZEN cans of CREAMED CORN, opened. RUFUS takes CAN after can and pours it over his HEAD, smoothing it around his neck. CU smearing it on his hairy chest and lower. He makes deep SOUNDS of pleasure as he rubs the mixture on his body. MED CU shot we see the tub is three-quarters FULL of creamed corn.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
His current favourite is creamed corn with niblets. It’s the niblets part that creeps Geneva out.
In spite of or perhaps because of Rufus’ nasty lifestyle, on-going ooziness and general raw plumpness, I find him a leading possibility for future nourishment. Geneva would be a tasty gorge but early odds are on round and highly acidic Rufus. Roof! Roof! Roof!
There are several loud intermittent clunks on the backdoor.
Come in Wayner.
WAYNER PUNYON CLUMSILY enters the room and extends an unwrapped jumbo size 24-roll package of STEM CELL TOILET TISSUE and a card in a bright RED ENVELOPE.
WAYNER, 32, nephew of Wilf, tall, toned, tanned and incredibly handsome. His black hair and dark eyes accent his strong nose and chin and his smile brightens a room. Some women call him an Adonis. Just in front of his hairline, each side of his head is a SMALL INDENT which takes nothing away from his commanding beauty. He is immaculately groomed, however he wears a bright Hawaiian shirt that is buttoned up wrong, blue jeans and loafers with no sox.
Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-happy Bir-bir-bir-bir-birty De-de-de-de-de-de-de…
DEARIE (CUTTING HIM OFF)
Thank you Wayner. How nice. Look Wilf, 24 rolls! And a card!
Thanks Wayner. Great gift.
WAYNER BLUSHES, his face deepens to RED.
On one-shot red-faced WAYNER.
Wayner Punyon, Wilf’s 32 year old nephew, lisps, stutters and, despite his disarming good looks, is a little tetched, a tad slow. Later in the evening Wayner will reveal his secret by telling someone at the party very privately, very confidentially that he was a “fortheps baby” – the epithet whispered to lessen the shame. The problem with Wayner’s secret is everyone at the party already knows it because Wayner has told everyone at least three times before at previous parties about his early encounter with the tongs. The only time he doesn’t stutter but still lisps is when he’s sotto voce about his gruesome birth.
WAYNER stands leaning AWKWARDLY against a wall, shuffling his feet, occasionally looking up. Whenever he has direct eye contact with anyone, WAYNER makes large TOOTHY GRINS his mother called monkeyshines. WAYNER quietly watches the others until WILF HANDS him a glass of wine, WAYNER DRINKS and eventually shuffles out of the room.
Wayner’s vocal uncertainties make him easy and frequent prey for Pappy who exploits Wayner’s limitations at every opportunity. Pappy likes to toy with Wayner by getting him to talk with his mouth full.
Secretly Pappy hopes one of these times Wayner will choke to death, which has always been Pappy’s intent when badgering him. Maybe this will be the day Pappy succeeds.
Despite his obvious and debilitating impediments, Wayner is a savant.
The cocktail lounge is a little SEEDY, has several TABLES filled with an assortment of PATRONS in various stages of drunkenness. HILARITY and CHATTER dominate the aural landscape.
At one end of the room a grand piano sits on a small dais. Seated and tinkling away at the piano is WAYNER, giving big MONKEYSHINES, dressed in a tacky powder blue tuxedo with a ruffled shirt. He appears alternately comfortable and uncomfortable on stage. A large fishbowl half full of bills sits on the piano.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
Unemployable otherwise, he is an exceptional piano tinkler at a cocktail lounge called Chairs, Tables and Liquor, where he rakes in over a hundred bucks a night in tips.
For the record, Wayner has terrible acid reflux. I thrive in highly-acidic environments like Wayner, making him an attractive acidic pool. I like Wayner’s beauty, too. As you know I am well-practised at stealing beauty. Wayner is a definite contender in tonight’s sweepstakes.
Suddenly DELMA FLOURISHES in the backdoor, wearing large dark SUNGLASSES with her hair piled in a dilapidated BEEHIVE. Her metal bangles JINGLE in a familiar way. She’s a little wobbly but still DRESSED expensively in a light mauve silk blouse and dark pants, carrying a stylish handbag and a WHITE BOX bound with string and a card in a bright YELLOW ENVELOPE strides quickly through the kitchen, HANDS the box to Dearie and walks out the opposite door.
Happy birthday, Dearie. Chiffy over taffy. How daring. Don’t touch me. Keep this cold. I’ll be in the can.
Thank you, Delma. I wonder what it is.
On DELMA as she turns toward camera.
No longer the ravishing beauty we saw at her mother’s deathbed, DELMA has been RAVAGED. Her figure is now a THIN frame inside expensive clothes that appear too big for her. Her FACE is SHOCKINGLY disfigured.
Delma Achenhead, one of my many works-in-progress. She’s Pappy’s eldest daughter, widow of wealthy Ballsheath Achenhead. She called him “Scrotty.” Essentially, intrinsically, Delma is a world-class cunt.
I wanted Delma from the very first moment I met her in the hospital twelve years ago. In her day, she was pulchritudinous, an irresistible goddess whom hundreds of men pursued.
Want to know Delma’s delicious secret? Three men killed themselves after unsuccessful pursuits. That’s not all. Unbeknownst to everyone at the table, including her chipper sister, Delma has three small tattoos of a cock and balls inside her right thigh…
CU of woman’s white thigh with three black tattoos as described in high contrast to her saggy skin. She is wearing white panties.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
…each representing one of her lovelorn suitors who chose death over life without her. She frequently quivers at her secret tally. Sometimes it’s better than an orgasm.
DELMA walks out of frame jingling.
The bathroom is large, very BRIGHT and features a white double vanity sink set with full wall mirror and shiny chrome everywhere. The floor is tiled in checkerboard fashion, black and red like the kitchen. There is a large old fashioned clawfoot tub and a tiled shower next to it. Off to one side, the toilet stands alone. The walls are decorated with many fish, mermaid and swan plaques from the 1950s. Every available corner has a corner shelf loaded with unlikely knickknacks. The shower curtain has pictures of pink elephants on it.
DELMA closes the bathroom door and stands staring at herself in a wall of mirrors. We study her face.
Cancer has wrecked HIDEOUS HAVOC on DELMA’S face. The tumour encompasses most of her right cheek, up under her eye ending near her ear and streaking in lumpy red veins toward her mouth. It oozes slowly through the powder and paste Delma just applied in the bathroom, reddish purple reclaiming its territory on her face. The rest of her face is lumpy with gobs of goo she has applied to balance the increasing growth opposite. Her nose is starting to sink into her face, a deep crease along her cheek runs up both sides of it. She’s given up trying to rebuild her nose with cosmetic putty. Her face looks like a kindergartener made a funny face using Silly Putty.
She takes several bottles out her purse and sets them on the counter. She applies various powders, pastes and putties to her face. She takes pills when she’s done.
I found my ticket to Delma in a few broken cells that reacted badly to her hair dye. The docs called me melanoma, Delma called me a beauty mark. But that was long ago.
Since then I have stolen her beauty, transformed her pretty face into a grotesquery that in just the right light could be the work of Pablo Picasso, although I don’t claim to be a cubist, or even an artist. I’m just a workaday plague following my urges. I’m an urgist. But I can’t do it alone.
Like most humans, Delma is an excellent enabler, dousing herself with denial, awash in self-importance and vanity. Her daily unrestrained use of cosmetics to try to hide my work has backfired to my advantage. I thrive on the cosmetics she applies, gaining strength exponentially with every oil, cream, ointment, powder, salve, lotion and unguent that she applies. Had she sustained from using any cosmetics or septic camouflage, I might have gone away on my own, discouraged, starved. (THINKS) No, I would have stayed no matter what she did.
But it’s much too late for that now. Long gone are the days when Delma can call me a beauty mark. In the bathroom Delma just took three Percosets and has four Ativans dissolving under tongue. She’s feeling like things are going to be okay…for now.
And that completes the guest list for Dearie’s fifty-fifth birthday party. I have some difficult choices to make here. Don’t envy me.
Already two secrets have been revealed: Wayner and the forceps, and Delma’s three commemorative tattoos. Many more secrets unravel shortly.
PAPPY TWITCHES in his wheelchair with every word. The chair SQUEAKS noticeably.
Oh dear, his Sleeping Tourette’s has started. I’ll be a dearie and wheel him out to the veranda for a while. Then he can cuss out the birdies to his heart’s content.
DEARIE wheels PAPPY through the FRENCH DOORS onto the veranda. The wheels of the chair make a distinct SQUEAKING noise that cannot be missed. She PARKS his chair at the balustrade.
Oh how he loves those compound words.
DEARIE turns and walks toward the French doors which she closes behind her.
PAPPY glances behind him then a WRY SMILE dances on his lips. Pappy just sits, refreshingly alone.
It’s not Sleeping Tourette’s, of course. There is no such thing. It’s just old Pappy battling his boredom by deceiving the family for his own enjoyment and distraction.
Same with the Alzheimer’s. It’s only pretend dementia. Completely fake. He’s sharp as a tack. Delma is the only one in the family who suspects the old bugger is perfectly sane and fucking with everyone’s heads. Pappy has everyone else bamboozled.
What else is old age good for except exasperating your loved ones? This is the first of many secrets Pappy will reveal to us.
WIDE SHOT of room. Kitchen door is on extreme left. Two hallways lead off the dining room, one to the left leads to the bathroom, the right hallway to the bedrooms. SIDEBOARD to right of table. A dazzlingly bright CHANDELIER hovers over the dining table like a UFO.
SLOW PAN into table, STUDY TABLE. The dining room is dominated by a long table ELEGANTLY and meticulously set with shiny white plates, glistening wine glasses and bright cutlery, all aglitter from the intense chandelier. The CENTERPIECE is a tasteful arrangement with cedar and spruce boughs in which are nestled pine cones and other bits of flora. The table looks like it belongs in a glossy lifestyle magazine.
SLOW PAN away from table to sideboard on which more plates are stacked next to more cutlery, a large FRAMED PICTURE of EVANGELINE and a substantial bouquet of unrecognizable flowers.
SLOW PAN up from sideboard to CU of PICTURE. HOLD. On the wall above the sideboard is a three foot by five foot framed blown-up photograph of a MUCH YOUNGER Wilf, Dearie and Geneva gathered around a birthday cake with seven glowing candles on it. They each have a weird inappropriate GRIN on their face. The colours in the picture resemble the garish, unappetizing pictures of food in magazine ads of the 1950s and 1960s.
Like the kitchen the dining room has several INEXPLICABLE objects and colours that feel out of place.
WAYNER sits at the table and drinks wine.
Tethered to a chair back at one end of the table is the RED BALLOON. DEARIE has tied it to her chair. The balloon is about the same size as her head and, when DEARIE sits in the chair, the balloon FLOATS just above and to the right of her head, very close to her.
WILF and DEARIE enter from the kitchen CARRYING large buckets of PFC, boxes of fries, tubs of slaw, handfuls of condiments, bottles of wine setting them on the table, COMPLETELY OBSCURING the elegantly-set dining table with trashy PFC containers.
In addition to the PFC containers, there is a small plate of CRACKERS and an electric BLUE BOWL filled with CELERY STALKS sticking up like flowers.
DELMA enters from the hallway and sits.
EVERYONE but DEARIE sits with WILF at head of the table, to his left is WAYNER, DELMA, DEARIE opposite Wilf, GENEVA to Dearie’s left then RUFUS.
I’ll get Daddy.
Wine is poured.
DEARIE holds open the kitchen door so PAPPY can wheel himself into the dining room. The chair makes the same loud distinctive SQUEAK we heard before. He parks next to Dearie’s chair. Pappy has a tray on his chair from which he eats.
Now Daddy, it’s time to say a nice grace and bless our wonderful food just like you promised you would. Okay, Daddy? Remember, my birthday, remember.
PAPPY TWITCHES with flair to get EVERYONE’S attention, clears his THROAT dramatically, swallowing the phlegm that rises into his mouth.
Rhombic splinter fuck! Rhodesian sphincter tuck! Rodak a fee paw! Rode back a free squaw! Rolling peas around my plate wishing they were cannon balls aimed at all of your eyes! Jesus Christ don’t want ya to be skinny. Dig in, assholes. Nine pointless pynouns, three acromboid pissgardens, a verb, another verb, then the verb to end all verbs, one week on penicillin because of Patti clap and a crimson wedge of syntax as thick as your dick. A fucking mensa.
EVERYONE DIGS into the various food containers except for DEARIE who POUTS a little and admonishes her father.
That wasn’t a very nice grace, Daddy. You wanted to say grace because it’s my birthday, remember? Is that all you could come up with?
Nine clean nounicals, underbuilt lexiconization with a deflated infrequent verb up the yahoo, five abjectivities and swirly girly calendars. Clownpants, cloudbats and clawscars. Triple negatives dripping with hot chocolate sauce and cum. “Come again on the sundae, child,” old Ma Fritts used to say to me on those hot summer days when she’d strip me naked in her back garden and make me feel myself til I got wet while she rode around the yard with a broom handle pressed high and firm up between her legs howling like a banshee. I was about 13 at the time. Then inside her little house she’d make a chocolate sundae…
CU a woman’s hands sets down a CHOCOLATE SUNDAE on a chequered tablecloth. It has TWO mounds of ice cream covered with dark BROWN sauce. Suddenly from off screen white CUM squirts onto the sauce, leaving glistening white PEARLS.
Young PAPPY, 13, pale skinned, tussled hair, sits at the table. Since he is SHIRTLESS we assume he is naked as described.
The woman’s FINGER mixes the chocolate and sperm together then scoops up a fingerful and puts it in young PAPPY’S mouth.
…but she wouldn’t let me eat it til I came cum juice on it. She’d mix the chocolate sauce and my cum together with the tip of her finger, swirling the colours on top of the two bulbous mounds of cold strawberry ice cream. Then she’d scoop up a fingertipful of the mixture…
Old woman’s hand puts her creamy finger in young PAPPY’S mouth and he SUCKLES it enthusiastically.
PAPPY (VO) (CON’T)
…and put it in my mouth. I would suck it off her finger as it pressed against my tongue and explored my mouth.
MED shot of MA FRITTS, 72, wrinkled face, missing teeth, crone-like, dressed in a shirt and ragged sweater. She STARES intently at Pappy.
MA FRITTS (GRUFF VOICE)
… she’d say which meant I did the same thing.
PAPPY takes a FINGERFUL of the mixture and puts it in MA FRITT’S MOUTH. She lasciviously sucks his finger for a while. When a drop of ice cream lands on PAPPY’S CHEST near his nipple, MA FRITTS leaps with surprising agility to lick it off the boy’s skin, lingering at his nipple. PAPPY obviously enjoys this.
The runny mixture went in her mouth and she sucked my finger. I can still easily recall the specific sensation of her tongue as it swathed and massaged my finger. And that’s how we’d eat the sundae, one finger at a time. I wasn’t allowed to put my clothes back on until the dish was empty. Sometimes that took an hour. When ice cream dripped onto my naked body, she’d deftly lick it off. Feistycunts. Feistycunts. Who in the world buys feisty…”
Loudly WILF interrupts, with his FORK and his EYEBROWS raised.
I’m so glad we’re not eating.
Well, dear, he is rather lucid today, don’t you think?
You thought he was lucid yesterday when he was talking about racing his sewage to the basement from the second floor bathroom in the middle of the night and none of us noticing because we all had TVs up our asses. We don’t have a second floor.
Birthday, nice birthday. My nice birthday.
Abjunctive spinster with hung umbrella twat. Cowpuncture! Cowpuncture!
So much for lucid.
EVERYONE nods as they gnaw, nibble, devour or ignore the PFC.
RUFUS refills his long stemmed glass with white wine for the fourth time since he arrived; GENEVA motions to refill hers as well.
Using only their HANDS, RUFUS and GENEVA are voraciously consuming the food, their plates piled high with chicken, fries and slaw. They keep adding more SALT and even BICKER over the salt shaker at one point.
After gnawing a leg down to the bone, RUFUS makes a MOTION as if he about to THROW the bone over his shoulder, STOPS, LOOKS around the table sheepishly and gently SETS the bone next to his plate.
RUFUS and GENEVA both make loud satisfying mumbles and snorts accompanied by much head nodding.
GENEVA accidentally DROPS a chicken bone onto the floor, looks down at it and ignores it.
Chicken bone next to GENEVA’S thick leg. PUCE MOMENT, the household cat, walks cautiously up to the bone, sniffs once, pulls back in disgust and horror, hisses loudly at the bone, while backing away quickly.
DEARIE pecks at a wan piece of chicken like a bird.
WAYNER eats slowly but enthusiastically, nodding happily.
How’s everyone enjoying the feast? It’s my treat, just so’s you know. The meal is from Percy’s Flutter and Cluck, the best fried chicken in these parts.
It’s very nice of you Wilf. The chicken from Percy’s is always welcome at our table. Thank you for the delicious treat.
Th-th-th-th-thanks, Unc-unc-unc-uncle W-w-w-w-w-wilf.
Flutter and cluck, clutter and fuck, been down that dark hallway many times.
Like you, the food is special, Wilf, it’s special.
Your usual vainglorious generosity has supplied us with sagging golden chickeny parts, some apparently pre-gnawed, sterile limp French fries purged of nutrition that languish in clots of chemical catsup next to pallid wilted slaw. It’s a still life watercolour of foodity, beyond damaged, a food placebo complemented by oily patches of unknown gagibles. Reminds me of a certain family photograph.
DELMA indicates the wall picture behind her with her thumb and grimaces away from it.
Full shot of the gruesome family portrait on the wall.
PAPPY pushes uneaten chicken, fries and slaw around his plate with his finger, a look of disgust on his face.
PAPPY (WITH DISGUST)
This isn’t food. It’s already shit. It couldn’t nourish a wooden leg, a wooden nose or a wooden penis. It’s fruitless and neutered excrement, like the world, unbecomingly succumbing to the slumber and the dive demanded by daily comfort and hourly forgetting. Intentional stupidity squared, cubed, drawn and quartered. Things go butter with fucks is what I say. Butter with fucks!
We HEAR three high-pitched beeps then a long solid tone.
It’s the ALARM on DELMA’S WATCH which she wears on her left wrist. She shuts it off.
I’ll be in the can.
DELMA stands, elegantly ARMS her handbag and, A-JINGLE, strides out of the room. HEAR the sound of Pappy’s wheelchair squeaking.
Hey, you in the creased stanky anti-lock brakepad underwear pants.
EVERYONE looks at Wayner whose MOUTH is full. PAPPY wheels up next to Wayner.
WAYNER coughs a little, gags, something snagged in his throat. Pappy’s eyes brighten. EVERYONE is watching Wayner who gags more intensely. PAPPY’S eyes light up.
Wayner, would you like a glass of ginger ale?
Unable to answer and starting to REDDEN significantly, WAYNER stands, arches his back and with a mighty heave forces a spray of semi-chewed “chicken” chunks out of his mouth, SPATTERING WILF’S sweatervest.
WILF’S expression changes from CONCERNED to MURDEROUS in a matter of seconds.
This is my favourite sweatervest!
PAPPY starts to laugh.
Scowling at Wayner, WILF brushes away FOOD PARTICLES that look like mutant chessmen on his sweatervest’s black and red checkerboard pattern. Wilf’s indignity and seared, quivering ego are obvious.
My mother made this sweatervest for me. Now she and it are besmirched forever.
As WILF tells the story in voiceover, filling the frame an old fashioned radiator peeling silver paint steams and clunks away rhythmically. A red and black chequered SWEATERVEST is carefully draped over the radiator. The sweatervest is quickly unravelled as a strand of wool is pulled from it by a WOMAN’S HANDS and wound into a ball by a YOUNG BOY’S HANDS. We do not see their faces, just their hands.
CU of WOMAN’S HANDS using metal knitting needles creating a new sweatervest as a YOUNG BOY’S HANDS feed the wool to the needles. The needles CLICK and scrape in a rhythmic manner which weaves in and out of rhythm with the radiator sounds.
My mother knitted this sweatervest for me when I was just a boy. She used the unravelled wool from the sweatervest my father wore. I remember pulling father’s sweatervest apart, dividing the wool into black and red skeins. My mother told me that my dad’s mother used this same wool, newly shorn and dyed the only two colours available, to make a gift to the man who became my grandfather. I remember watching my mother’s fleet fingers as they recreated the sweatervest, colours mingling, needles clicking. This time it was for me! She had me try it on and it fit like a glove. Now I only wear it on extra special occasions.
PAPPY howls uncontrollably.
EVERYONE is watching Pappy.
PAPPY’S LAUGH is bizarrely raspy from the emphysema, his LAUGH combines several unattractive wailing tones that ascend and descend.
He WAVES his hands in the air, slapping his knee and howling with ripples of laughter. Tears stream away from his eyes into his coarse white beard. He shakes his head in disbelief that he can laugh at all but the proof rocks him in his wheelchair which squeaks. Something akin to HAPPINESS washes through the septuagenarian. He feels alive.
Would you like a glass of ginger ale, Daddy?
Gingerquail! Gingerquail! Brakepad underwear pants, hey baby underpants. Seven subtilising syntactical retractions under the rollaway holiday cotton osterizer, where’s the verb, baby? and a coon skin cowboy bereft of a balcony, a baloney and an able-bodied abominizer, isn’t that right baby sticky palms?
EVERYONE looks at WAYNER who chews slowly and deliberately, REDDENING noticeably but not to the point where Dearie needs to offer him ginger ale. He never got any ginger ale the first time she offered.
What does PFC mean, underpads? Huh? Huh? P as in pagoda, F as in faxtrout, C as in Chuckster. PFC? Huh? P as in philosophy, F as in fluxthought, C as in cranberry salmon pomade? Huh? I’ve forgot. Huh? Huh? P as in psalm, F as in phantom, C as in seizure? What does PFC mean? If you don’t tell me, I’m going to kick you in the nuts so hard…
PAPPY WAITS for the rote response from his family. Only ONE person musters a response.
I’m going to kick you in the nuts so hard all your children will be left-footed and have birthmarks that look like me.
A few snorts around the table.
Always plucking at his sweatervest, WILF makes small grieving animal sounds which continue OS.
PAPPY drops off to SLEEP with a sudden, unusually loud SNORT, his chin falls onto his chest. A tendril of SALIVA forms at the edge of his lips and, driven by his breathing, CASCADES incredibly slowly, haltingly, barely missing the frazzle of grey beard, finally finding footing and dissolution on the black lapel of the tattery old burgundy smoking jacket Pappy wears.
Pappy wears this same smoking jacket to all family occasions, and has for decades. The jacket was originally worn by Count Rogainov, a dark and hairy – I mean ape suit hairy! – figure in Pappy’s Old Country family. The Count carries an unsubstantiated legend involving cannibalism, impaling and inventing golf.
PAPPY snorts and WILTS into softness after two abrupt spasms.
DELMA SHAMBLES back into the dining room, small jingles.
I hope to Christ he’s dead.
HOLD ON TWO SHOT. PAPPY revives from his fake stupor, sees Delma.
Buck, boy, you’ve come back to me. Holy fuck, Buck, you weren’t hit by a truck after all. Oh Buck, it’s good to see you. Come here, boy, come here, let me scratch behind your ears.
Woof you, Daddy. I’m not your fucking dog. That ugly old mongrel exploded under the wheels of a big rig out on the highway decades ago. Remember how happy you were after Buck died because you wouldn’t have to scoop up all his shit from the lawn anymore.
One bedevilled humus human, three nounic skirls adrift in garlicky humidity mixed with seven de-accented garrulous nematodes who have free reign over the left-handed bread and ocean pickles plus one rare debunked uncle.
I don’t think Pappy’s dead, Delma. You were gone a long time.
I just had to touch up my makeup. I’m moving further away from pretty every day.
PAPPY (AS IF REPORTING FROM A DREAM)
Soupladle! Soupladle! Touch up with her tomato soupladle, Crimbles has the cow, Symbols has the coward.
DELMA takes her seat.
DELMA (HISSES AT PAPPY)
Birthday. My birthday.
PAPPY (FAKING SLEEP)
Three juvenile participles, a brief demonized scowl, liquid verbs, melanoma without stint, quicksand adverbs with tiny feet like dear birdies.
DELMA lights up one of her doctor-prescribed JOINTS of government issue marijuana.
GENEVA (WAVING HER LARGE HANDS)
Jesus, Auntie Delma, that stuff reeks!
Girl, I’ve caught the gee dee cancer, okay. I need this. It helps me get through the horror I am becoming.
Well, if that’s the deal, we should all have some. Pass that thing around then Delma.
They only give me enough for me, Wilf. Elsewise I’d be happy to get you all high as kites with tails made of sugar bowties and string made of tautly stretched zebra gut that, when plucked by archangels, twangs so sweetly your tears are unable to contain themselves and gush away from you like…
DELMA takes a LONG TOKE from her joint, holds it inside her skinny body and RELEASES a pale white cloud in the direction of DEARIE who breathes deeply.
…like Niagara Falls.
That’s beautiful, Delma. (SIGHS DEEPLY) Just beautiful. Ooow, I feel all floaty inside. Would anyone like a swelled hand serving of my pumpkin yam potlatch before the wagerers get more than they deserve?
DEARIE smiles and looks around the table for reaction.
GENEVA is re-applying her red lipstick on her tiny mouth using a small round mirror and a tiny tube of lipstick.
Suddenly, at the top of his lungs, PAPPY yells.
PLATO FUCKING CARES!!
PAPPY cries out so sudden and loud, EVERYONE jumps.
GENEVA jumps and makes a long red LINE of lipstick down her chin from the corner of her mouth. With her hand she SMEARS the lipstick leaving a garish red hue on her chin. GENEVA wipes away at her chin with a white napkin.
RUFUS drops his WINE GLASS, which we HEAR shatter on the hardwood, startling PUCE MOMENT, the household cat, who LEAPS onto the table landing in front of DELMA, its rear paws on her dinner plate.
On PUCE MOMENT.
This is Wilf and Dearie’s cat Puce Moment, named after a 1949 experimental film by avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger. On every family occasion, Puce Moment endeavours to have at least one strange encounter with Delma, the only true cat-abhorrer in the group, besides myself, of course. Never cared for cats much, their taste, I mean. Too brackish. And all their dander bungs me up something awful. That’s not to say I’m not occasionally attracted to a morbidly obese 30 pounder. I just pretend it’s turkey.
Unphased DELMA calmly BLOWS a lungful of used marijuana smoke into PUCE MOMENT’S FACE. The cat BLINKS its eyes several times, TILTS its head to one side, CROUCHES, LAYS its ears back, FARTS delicately and dispenses one brand-new shiny brown TURD onto Delma’s plate next to a small pile of broken chicken bones and wilted slaw.
PAPPY yells again.
PLATO FUCKING CARES!!
EVERYONE jumps again.
WILF tips over his glass of red wine.
EVERYONE watches it DEVOUR a large section of the white table cloth.
PUCE MOMENT reacts to Pappy’s shout and the red STAIN COMING TOWARD HER by leaping three feet into the air, diving to the hardwood…
FLOOR LEVEL BY DELMA
…and vanishing within seconds.
PUCE MOMENT darts out of the room.
FLOOR LEVEL BY RUFUS
DEARIE has a small WHISK and an antique DUSTPAN with decals of elephants being ridden by small dark children along the upper edge and she’s carefully sweeping up the broken shards of Rufus’ wine glass. RUFUS leans in from the top of the frame.
Tho thorry Mussus Ponygard. Thorry thorry thorry.
It’s quite all right Rufus. Don’t you fret your impediments about it. Accidents will, do, can and must happen.
What do you think Daddy means?
Expressed by unknowing glances and shrugs, EVERYONE but DELMA is flummoxed.
PFC. Plato Fucking Cares. P as in Plato, F as in Fucking, C as in Cares. PFC. PFC.
DELMA makes a GESTURE with her left hand.
Suddenly standing next to her chair and a little to her left is PLATO, bearded, balding and dressed in bright robes.
Plato, Greek philosopher. This guy!
Thank you for this opportunity to validate Pappy’s assertion. I do, indeed, fucking care!
Enough small talk. Say something profound.
Okay Delma, how about: Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools speak because they have to say something.
Very good. One more…
Writing is the geometry of the soul.
Say that one again.
Writing is the geometry of the soul.
DELMA gives Plato THUMBS UP and a wave of her hand.
Bam and bye-bye, wise guy.
PLATO dissolves away.
Delma succeeds in eliciting more blank stares at one time than she ever has in her life though neither she nor anyone in the room knows this, just you and me.
Merciful Christ munchers, what a sad patch of saggers, lowballs and droopers you people are. I can hardly believe I am genetically related to any of you.
“M-m-m-m-m-m-my b-b-b-b-b-b-ballth d-d-d-d-d-d-don’t-t-t-t-t th-th-th-th-th-th-th…”
DELMA (ROLLING HER EYES)
There is no God.
Even with EVERYONE watching him and his face DEEPENING to the colour of Wilf’s merlot, WAYNER manages to get his point across. EVERYONE chuckles a little and gives Wayner thumbs up and shy smiles that say, “Good on ya, Gomer.”
Would you like a glass of ginger ale, Wayner?
PLATO FUCKING CARES!!
EVERYONE is slightly startled but nothing spills or falls.
See. PFC, like I said.
Three sycamore owls, a dozen treble clefs, a sounding noun and a fixer-upper in a ten-gallon hutch.
We hear DELMA’s WRISTWATCH ALARM sound again, three beeps then a solid tone which she shuts off. She JINGLES out of the room.
I’ll be in the can touching up. (TO PAPPY AS SHE LEAVES) Asshole.
DEARIE busily clears away everyone’s plate. With SPECIAL DISGUST she removes Delma’s plate with the old chicken bones and new turd on it. DEARIE dispenses new plates all around the table while EVERYONE drinks.
I get such a kick out of all the run for the cure, walk for the cure, skydive, garage sale, sword fight and fuck for the cure that goes on. Note how you are after THE cure, as if there is one thing that mysteriously has plumb eluded you thus far, even after the full out efforts of your top scientists and billions and billions and billions of dollars spent on “research” over the decades. And another thing, settle on my ribbon colour for chrissake! Better yet let me select the only colour that truly signifies me, that references at least one element of my nature. I arbitrarily yet, under these circumstances, appropriately select puce as my ribbon colour of preference. If you’re not sure what colour puce is, Delma’s face has lots of purply red splotches, that’s puce.
Now that’s settled, I’ll let you in on another one of my secrets. Fact is, I have no cure. I’m not incurable, I’m beyond a cure, the cure, any cure. Curing cancer is like curing air or curing water or curing sunshine or curing volcanoes. It’s a fantasy. It doesn’t exist and no amount of money or wishing or ribbons or running or science can change that. The cancer industry knows a cure is a pipedream but right now it’s a vastly profitable pipedream, a huge bubble of denial in which everyone must remain suspended. Trust me. I will always be with you. But keep running and walking and donating and all the other shit you do for your own ego dressed up as the cure but leave me out of it. I will not indulge your fantasy, and frankly, don’t need to. Just keep the sugar coming, babies.
RUFUS stands and catches DEARIE’s eye.
Dilemma, er Delumina is in the big bathroom. May I use yours?
He points down the other HALL.
Yes, you may, Rufus. Aim carefully please.
RUFUS nods in thanks and disappears down the hall.
Who’s ready for dessert?
I’ll have a stack of soggy toast that a cow and a cowboy just shat on pretty please. Whole wheat, not buttered.
Oh Daddy, you’re such a joker. Wouldn’t you rather have the dessert Delma brought? It’s delicious!
Did she shit on it?
No Daddy, she didn’t. I hope not, anyways. Can anybody guess what it is?”
DEARIE’S voice rises an octave during the question.
I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. (SHE’S SQUEALING NOW) It’s…it’s…it’s…
Cheddar ice cream with dark chocolate shavings, apple-glazed sparrow droppings and crumbled spice cake. She always brings the same ice cream-cake dreck from Ida’s Ice Creamery down on Lonesome Street.
DEARIE PITCHES the two words so high that PUCE MOMENT, licking herself three rooms away, is so startled by the sound that she NIPS one of her NIPPLES with her front teeth. The cat dumbly watches a bead of BLOOD form on the tip of her bright pink nipple, licks the blood away and stares at the wound which beads with blood.
Right now, Puce Moment is savouring the deep-down sacredness of her own flesh…or cat equivalent.
RUFUS returns to his seat at the table. There is a dark round PEE SPOT on the crotch of his beige trousers.
Second call: who wants dessert?
Her question elicits wary headshakes, mutterings of ‘no thanks.’ There are no takers.
Well, it’s my birthday and I’m going to have some. See how I just set a wonderful example for all of you to follow. You only turn 55 once, you know. All of you did or will, just once, you know, so live a little.
Live a little! Yes!
WILF raises his glass, stands to propose a toast.
I propose a toast.
Are you going to shit on it, cowboy? Two run-down interlopers, three quick change barrelheads, a verb, the verb, every verb, and a subtractive adverbage hod.
First I propose the respite mouth gag for Pappy for ten minutes, just ten minutes, please, oh please, oh please.
Sensing the futility of his request, WILF continues.
I know…in my dreams. Anyway, I propose a toast to my stunningly efficient, immaculately compassionate, unwittingly brilliant, incomprehensibly sensible whore angel of a wife, darlingly dear, dearly darling Dearie. To you my love bug, my love plug, I plunge and pledge it all. Every breath is yours my dear one, my only one, to you, the…ummmm…to Dearie.
Glasses clink, EVERYONE chimes in, “To Dearie” who blushes and sheds four tears, three from her right eye, one from her left. DEARIE CURTSIES in a little girl fashion holding out the skirt of her dress with two fingers.
Thank you my beautiful family. Last call for dessert.
No one responds. DEARIE tippy toes to kitchen holding the skirt of her dress with two fingers.
DEARIE gets DELMA’S white BOX out of the freezer, opens it and stares at the unappetizing FROZEN MOUNDS. She takes a SPOON, dips it slightly into the dessert and puts it in her MOUTH. Immediately she SPITS the sample into the sink, making a sound of disgust and wiping her mouth with a dishcloth. She places the dessert BACK in the freezer, takes a full BOTTLE of wine and empty wine GLASS from the counter and returns to the dining room.
DEARIE enters from kitchen.
I think I’ll have wine instead of dessert.
EVERYONE turns toward Dearie with looks of surprise on their faces.
You don’t drink anymore, Dearie.
I do today, Wilfy, Pilfy.
DEARIE puts her FINGERS over her mouth and her EYEBROWS go up as if she has just let one her sex names for WILF slip out of the bedroom, which she has.
UNDER THE TABLE
Under the tablecloth, Wilf vigorously touches himself on the crotch over his pants.
WILF AND DEARIE AT ENDS OF TABLE
Starting an exchange brimming with SEXUALITY WILF smiles a lop-sided half-moon of teeth at DEARIE, who squints and blinks her eyes twice quickly, one of her bedroom coquette gestures, further exciting Wilf. DEARIE unscrews the white wine, fills her glass to the brim and moves the stemware in a slow ARC around the table, honouring each of her guests.
To me, five five today. To me, to tomorrow.
EVERYONE agrees, glasses chime again, DEARIE weeps four more TEARS, one from her right eye, three from her left. DEARIE sips the dry wine, scrunches up her nose and swallows deeply.
Is it better than ginger ale?
Is it better than pickle juice and piss?
Ish sh it better than a day in traction? I mean a day at the turk, a day at the track?
Is it better than, ummm, gypsy blood…Lord, where did that come from? I have nothing more.
Emboldened by the wine and the fake family feeling, RUFUS suddenly becomes ANIMATED and RELATES a family story. Just as he starts the story, DELMA, no jingling, comes and STANDS quietly in the hall doorway behind RUFUS listening to his tale. RUFUS doesn’t know she is there.
So, my brother Croy, acthually his name ish Croydon Bituminous Switzer.
T-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-that r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-rollth o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ff t-t-t-t-t-t–t-the t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-tongue.
WAYNER CHUCKLES and, wearing a smile that attempts slyness but fails, SEEKS fellow conspirators in his joke around the table. Finding none, Wayner is CRESTFALLEN and SHAKEN, turns inward.
Poor Wayner. He’s crestfallen and shaken because nobody laughed at his joke. Now he’s retreated into the helmet he often pretends he is wearing. I’ve never been in Wayner’s pretend helmet, have you? I hear it’s safe there. Let’s check it out.
Standing at the EDGE of a windy rock promontory is WAYNER, wearing the SAME CLOTHES as at the party but also a bejewelled gold and velvet CROWN and full length purple velvet ROBE with fur collar buttoned-up wrong – the classic royal monarch look. WAYNER holds a long bejewelled SCEPTRE which he waves in front of him as if addressing a crowd.
WAYNER (NO STUTTER, NO LISP)
My loyal and humble subjects I command thee, with all my power as your king, monarch and sovereign being, to laugh at my jokes. Every one of them. I am funny. I have a sense of humour. I am funny.
A pirate walks into a bar…
WAYNER is DROWNED OUT by raucous OS laughter which fades after a few seconds. WAYNER smiles.
WAYNER (NO LISP NO STUTTER)(CON’T)
Did you hear the one about…
Again WAYNER is DROWNED OUT by raucous OS laughter. He smiles and waves the sceptre.
WAYNER (NO LISP NO STUTTER)(CON’T)
My wife is so…
Again he is DROWNED OUT by loud OS laughter. He smiles.
RUFUS gives WAYNER, who wears his helmet smile, a dramatic brow-clenching GLARE. RUFUS has a tic where he does a quick SHAKE of his head every time he gets a word wrong, as if he is spazzing the language out of himself.
Anywayth, Croy went to twain ingineer school for shix months and learnt how to drive big lurchamervins (HEAD SHAKE), motolocives, (HEAD SHAKE) locomotives that pull heavy things long ways. He was tap of his closs(HEAD SHAKE), tip of his clyss(HEAD SHAKE), top of his class, and the day he started on the reels(HEAD SHAKE), the rools(HEAD SHAKE), the rails he was earning eighty thousand a year.
On Croy’s very first run as an ingineer a guy committed suckersnide(HEAD SHAKE), supperglide(HEAD SHAKE), suicide by jumping in front of Croy’s lurchamootown(HEAD SHAKE), loochachovery(HEAD SHAKE), locomotive. My brother saw the guy’th face and looked him right in the eye a moment before his head exploited(HEAD SHAKE), expiddled(HEAD SHAKE), exploded, crushed under tons of moving steam(HEAD SHAKE), style(HEAD SHAKE), steel. Bam! Ouch! Stomach! Bone shards!
Looking down toward the track from the engineer’s window, an ARM wearing a silver WATCH which flashes occasionally is caught in the screeching wheels, FLAPPING again and again, slower and slower until it stops with the palm up and the fingers twitching slower and slower until they stop.
RUFUS (VO) (CON’T)
Croy looked down as he braked the huge ingrain (HEAD SHAKE), angina (HEAD SHAKE), the huge engine and saw one of the guy’th arm stuck in the worksh and flapping against the red road (HEAD SHAKE), royal reef (HEAD SHAKE), railroad ties. The company put him on streaked-out(HEAD SHAKE), trussed-over(HEAD SHAKE), stressed-out leave with full pay immediately and found a phiscolonist(HEAD SHAKE), pikesolidaire(HEAD SHAKE), psychologist to help him. That was months ago. Croy still has serious neuterstreams(HEAD SHAKE), newscovers(HEAD SHAKE), nightmares. He still sees the guy’th face in the faces of people he meets, hears the sickening thud as mooking mealtime(HEAD SHAKE), movering mental(HEAD SHAKE), moving metal encountered flesh and the vision of the severed arm attached to the metal machine…vivid, lawful, awful.
RUFUS is enjoying the attention he is being given.
Croy wants to go back to work but the dupper(HEAD SHAKE), diaper(HEAD SHAKE), doctor won’t let him. He just sits at home all day…”
Loud and with startling suddenness, DELMA needs to quiz the room.
RUFUS is so startled his red wine goes swirling out of his glass in slow motion and lands in lurid SPATTERS on the gleaming hardwood floor.
Standing at the entry to the dining room behind Rufus and Geneva, DELMA repeats. RUFUS turns awkwardly to see Delma.
She gets her wish as the room falls silent.
Wait! Your brother is named after coal? Bituminous, right? Am I receiving that loud and clear…bituminous coal?
Both my parenth love coal. Coal is very important to them.
RUFUS NODS and smiles around the table.
And what’s your middle name, Anthracite?
DELMA CHUCKLES at her own joke since no one else does as she returns to the table.
You guessed it, Auntie Delma! Rufus Anthracite Switzer. Rufus Anthracite Switzer.
DELMA, her grotesque cobbled visage stern and sneering as possible, GLARES at RUFUS who SHRINKS AWAY from her. She points a long fake be-nailed finger at RUFUS, her bangles jangle.
Two things, pig man. One:
DELMA points one finger in the air, jangling.
Naming your children, or anything for that matter, after fucking coal indicates serious low brain function, bordering on retardation, as in kissin’ too many cousins.
DELMA points two fingers in the air, jangling.
If you ever call me Auntie Delma again I will poison your well so deep that your personal baptisms a million years ago and a million years hence will be instantly fatal. Capeesh?
RUFUS’ complexion CROSSFADES from his normal ashen hue to a dustier, more dire shade of grey like storm-bringing skies. He believes Delma thoroughly and NODS his understanding to his future aunt-in-law.
And how do you feel about coal, Rufus?
I am ambient(HEAD SHAKE), amblevented(HEAD SHAKE), ambivalent about coal. My father disowned my other brother, Clench, because he abhors coal, will not have it in his house, on his table, in his cupboards, under his bed, no way, absolutely no coal. Clench even changed his middle name from Lignite to Kevin.
After a pause that is six-months pregnant, RUFUS reaches into his pocket, produces a small piece of walnut-size COAL and sets it in the centre of his dessert plate. AROUND the TABLE everyone STARES at the black object as if it is about to do something significant or at all. When nothing happens, EVERYONE moves their gaze to RUFUS.
I have a little piece of coal in every room of our apartment that Geneva doesn’t know about.
GENEVA NODS to the room with a pensive look.
That’s right. I don’t know about the little pieces of coal, just like I didn’t know your middle name is Anthracite. I’m not sure why I never wondered what your middle name… (PAUSE) Little pieces of coal? All around the apartment? Our apartment? Really? Where?
I’ll show you when we get home.
Yes, you will! And Anthracite? Truly?
I’m curious. Is Clench short for something?
Ah…no, jush Clench.
So Clench Lignite Switzer is your younger brother’s name, your name is Rufus Anthracite Switzer and your older brother is Croydon Bituminous Switzer, just so we get it correct in the family tree and everyone’s obituaries.
Clench’th middle name is now Kevin but elsewise, you are right. Are you the familyth generalogicalist?
RUFUS doesn’t even try to correct himself and does the HEAD SHAKE several times silently.
Yes, me and my handy pruning shears. We tend the delicate limbs and branches of the over ripe Pilipps family tree, trimming where necessary, lopping off testicular acorns when unsavoury gene pools lurk in the relevant present and threaten our future with even more idiot winds. You have an entertaining name, filled with punic possibilities and anagrammistic extenuations. I’ll let you live…for now.
We’re DIP and DAP, aren’t we, Delma?
Oh, no. How I wish you hadn’t brought that up, you silly birthday twat.
It’s true. Delma’s DIP and I’m DAP. She’s Delma Inez Punyon…D-I-P…and I’m Dearie Arnez Punyon…D-A-P…DIP and DAP. Daddy used to call us that all the time. Isn’t that right, Daddy?
PAPPY (REPORTING FROM A DREAM)
Like two dollops in a diaper, dear goose. Clown cunts with indents that tab and tab and tab until there is nothing but tab remaining, three incongruent plucknouns, a dozen scorched shebangs and a glue gun in a boaboa tree.
Wake up Daddy. Wake up. It’s time for birthday cake. Remember? My 55th birthday happening right now all around you and me and everybody here.
PAPPY looks around the room, recognizing everyone badly and enjoying every precious moment of it, especially when he gets to name Wayner.
Oh Bertha (GENEVA) and Morey (RUFUS), and Kenny (WILF) and Thelma (DEARIE), and Buck (DELMA), come here good old dog.
PAPPY claps his hands at DELMA who scowls.
Of course, all of you have come to celebrate the fall of Rome with us tonight at The Forum. All the decorum, all the gore, all the viscera, all the soreness! The Forum awaits its first encounter with the beasts…and even cute little Suckjob Abeebop has attended.
EVERYONE looks at Wayner.
Hopefully a lion will chew off his head tonight.
I was just dreaming about all of you, every blessed one of you was in my dream. It was a beautiful dream! I dreamed I drowned all of you like you were kittens in a sack. I gave you to the water, to death without remorse, without condition, with love and a tackaberry full of Swanson’s hawks smoked and cured with dried Priscilla and prunella parts. Pitiful, perfectly pitiful. Seventeen consommé switcheroos with addendum and dummer ‘an fuck saunterkrauts, dildos awash with cruel brown anal pudding and me without a deepdish spoon…
WILF loudly interrupts, POUNDS his fist on the table getting EVERYONE’S attention. He tries to stand up.
NO! NO! NO MORE!
WILF is taking a stand even though he’s having TROUBLE standing. This realization PUSHES him back down into his chair, deflated. He TILTS his head to one side and makes a small noise like a chicken. WILF and DEARIE exchange a knowing glance.
Is there cake?
Oh yes, cake. There is cake. I’ll get it.
DEARIE exits pertly to kitchen.
We fought those fuckin’ Lujacks in the blue canyons of Wisconsin, on the blistered plains of south Siberia and in the simmering rain forests of Haziota. We were outarmed, outmanned and outhoused under sacks of slippery but elegant edible ovaries, clutching onto each other as if every twat t’was a life raft saving us each from a life of rafting and rerafting, riffing and reriffing, servoiring and reservoiring. We fought them with our teeth and with our nails, clawed at their enormous throats and watched as they sped blood-like into the deep throws and breaks of the Burst Muddy River, to die tended only by the cresting sun.
You never set foot on a battlefield in your entire pathetic life Daddy, and everyone here knows it but you, apparently.
DEARIE returns with her CAKE which is a layer cake iced in bright electric BLUE with several lit sparklers poked in the top. The ASSEMBLY sings Happy Birthday in a ragged off-key fashion. DEARIE sheds four more tears, three from her left eye, one from her right, and starts to ceremoniously cut the cake, delicately placing each piece on a dessert plate as the guests hand them to her.
None for me, DAP face.
A large piece for me please mother.
DEARIE cuts and distributes her cake. EVERYONE eats.
More sugar! Yum, double yum with a canoeful of sugar cane on top. I am blessed to be enabled so fully by people. Insatiable craving for sweetness is our common trait. Sugar brings me up while it brings you down. The real zingers for me are artificial sweeteners. Even in my most evil moments I could not have imagined a more facilitating concoction than artificial sweeteners. Hundreds of times sweeter than actual sugar and used in place of or in addition to real sugar, they are like money from home! Extra bonus is they not only sustain me but, due to their chemical composition which is incongruent with human health, they also incite me. Ha!
In addition to the sweeteners, another example of humans effectively aiding and abetting me – cell phones. Glory be to the inventor of these little brain fryers. Over the millennia I have acquired a taste for sweetly sautéed slightly mushy human brain. Microwave ovens were helpful but cell phones answer my most erstwhile prayers. Billions of little transmitters held next to billions of little heads, dicking with the brain synapses and grey matter of everyone who uses one or is near one. Human brain is delectable when lightly phone-fried with a dash of DNA damage! Sweeeeeeeeeeet!!
EVERYONE eats their cake fully enjoying the richness and the air-filled texture. EVERYONE washes it down with large gulps of wine.
Why don’t you open your birthday cards, mother? Oh, before you do, cut me another slice of that yummy cake about the same size.
DEARIE takes Geneva’s plate. All the remaining CAKE goes to Geneva who SALIVATES eagerly and digs into the frothy cake with a very fast fork.
Yes! My birthday cards! Thank you all my dears. Let’s see now…
DEARIE arranges the three CARDS in front of her. They are the envelopes are the primary colours. DEARIE deftly slits open the BLUE envelope using a table knife.
She pulls card out. On the front is a photograph of an elegantly wrapped box with a bouquet of red flowers next to it. She reads the card.
“Don’t worry about the future, you will have a bright one. Don’t worry about the past, you can’t change it. Don’t worry about the present…”
DEARIE opens the card and reads.
“We didn’t get you one! With love and faith, Gen and Roof.” Awww, how sweet, kids! Thank you.
RUFUS beams. GENEVA ignores the comment as she touches up her lipstick as before.
DEARIE hands the card to Delma to read and pass around.
DEARIE slickly opens the RED envelope using the table knife and extracts the card.
The cover of the card is a happy colourful drawing of a smiling diapered baby with a pink ribbon in her hair with the words “It’s a Girl!” emblazoned across the top in red.
It’s a girl!
Opens the card. Wayner has filled in the birth information randomly. It reads “Deery came into our world on 55 days weighing 93 pounds 112 ounces, measuring 3 inches with a smile on her flack. Habbit Birt, Wayner.”
Deery came into our world on 55 days weighing 93 pounds 112 ounces, measuring 3 inches with a smile on her face. Habbit Birt, Wayner. Awww Wayner that’s so…ummm…nice. You got the girl part right anyway.
DEARIE stands and CURTSIES girlishly to WAYNER who blushes and smiles coyly. DEARIE hands the card to Delma.
This is a fucking birth announcement card, not a birthday card. You’re a douche but you come by it honestly!
DELMA SCOWLS at WAYNER, a-jingle tosses the card at him. WAYNER TRIES to catch the card, FAILS and fetches it from the floor. WAYNER makes a pouty lip at DELMA and hands the card to Wilf.
Never you mind, Delma. It’s the thought that counts. Your card is next.
DEARIE takes the yellow envelop, slits it open and pulls out the card.
The card cover reads “I Wish You A Happy Birthday” arranged like a pyramidal eye exam chart in black and white.
I wish you a happy birthday.
DEARIE opens the card and a small SNAPSHOT slides out. DEARIE catches the picture. Inside the card reads “Enjoy your complimentary eye exam card. Next year’s birthday gift: a colonoscopy. With inner love, Delma.”
Enjoy your complimentary eye exam card. Next year’s birthday gift: a colonoscopy. With inner love, Delma. Awww, thank you Delma. And there is a snapshot.
DEARIE turns the SNAPSHOT in her fingers and it REVEALS three people standing in a row: Evangeline, stern faced and straight-lipped flanked by her two smiling daughters, aged 12 and 14, in little bouffant hairdos and fluffy dresses.
DELMA (TO DEARIE)
Remember that day?
DEARIE hums slightly, brow wrinkled in recall. We HEAR the wheelchair squeaking OS.
Ummm, that’s you, me and mother. We’re all dolled up but I don’t recall the day, no. A birthday? What happened, Delma?
Curious, PAPPY wheels over to Dearie and leans in to see the snapshot.
That’s us all right. And it was a birthday, my fourteenth birthday which was also the day I went to my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I have dear old Pappy and the family binges to thank for that.
DELMA LIFTS her wine glass toward Pappy as a small mocking gesture.
That’s right! You were the first one in the family to join AA. I had forgotten that. I try to remember things that keep me chipper.
PAPPY’S CAKE sits untouched on his chair tray. Suddenly PAPPY RAISES his arms and makes a descending WHISTLE like a falling bomb. With both hands he PUMMELS his cake into flattened pieces and makes explosion sounds.
But the war’s worst day, the omega, the unclustered funk that shattered against a full August moon unbegating unsung songbirds, mute against the descending rupture of the vaginal sun as it penetrated the darkness once more, stretching as far inward as it can before ejaculating another dawn in our faces, that time was the worst. We men, brave and unbrave, peopled the trenches day and night, the sky flared and flashed, the air went stale and lethal, our skin crawled. We waited in the dirt, wondering when the gas would start to roll toward us on the heels of a small breeze, sucked into our lungs before we can grab a mask or leap away. Those moments you could look up and down the trenches…
Deep trenches that curve away are peopled by battle-weary UNIFORMED SOLDIERS, guns at hand, with their COCKS in their hands jerking off. OS explosions are synced up with ejaculations. It’s a quick but provocative scene.
PAPPY (VO) (CON`T)
…and see nothing but soldiers jerking off, maybe for the last time, the little death that fends off the big death, hot white cum on itchy wool, and me too with my hand around my hot firm dick, maybe for the last time. Miles and miles of hard-ons.
There is a long silence in the room. You can hear a pine droop.
PAPPY smiles as he surveys the rapt faces of his unbecoming family.
Out of the sombre silence, jangles jingle.
That’s dog shit!
DELMA points a long fake FINGERNAIL decorated with tiny dancing figures at Pappy, her voice the quaver of a chisel eating rust, bangles a-jangle.
Piles of it all over the yard. Now get out there with your anvil and your chimes and clean it off the lawn. Until you do that, no allowance and no masturbation for you, young man, none. Hands behind your back at all times. Remember how that feels? Remember?
This resonates deeply and painfully for me. I am wincing on the inside like I was taught at Calamity School. I reverberate with the Bellows from Hell, otherwise known as My Father’s Voice as it flows with earnest anger and honest stupidity from the mouth of his spry and feisty first born, Diluth, Downer or whatever her fucking name turned out to be. Also as taught, I proceed with the intentional emotion-wrecking manoeuvre of suddenly changing the subject.
Oh look, Winifred has laid an egg.
PAPPY POINTS under Wilf’s chair.
UNDER WILF’S CHAIR
There is a round white ORB. In fact, it’s a golf ball that psychotically-bored Puce Moment very occasionally bats about for diversion but to Pappy, it is an EGG. As if to support his claim an EGG TOOTH appears from inside the golf ball, the shell CRACKS and quakes and SHATTERS. A small FEATHERY HEAD the colours of fresh green broccoli and stale brown broccoli appears. Its eyes open revealing small BLUE EDDIES that swirl clockwise back into the critter’s head. It awkwardly SHAKES off the shell that is gooey inside, STRETCHES to its full height of an inch and five-eighths and CROWS several phlegmy eerie GREETINGS to the world.
The eerie CROW of the newly hatched critter makes a row of PUCE MOMENT’S spine hairs stand straight up causing the cat to have a small orgasm denoted by a sudden intake of breath and a sound like squeaky hinges.
The newborn CRITTER wobbles out from under WILF’S the chair shaking its wet head.
EVERYONE is looking under Wilf’s chair, even WILF who eventually, inevitably FALLS with a clatter flat on his face, CRUSHING the newborn to death. DEARIE rushes, somewhat wobbly, to WILF’S aid and helps him regain his seat. WILF, wild-eyed, grinning and horny from just killing something, PICKS critter bits (or maybe even the entire crushed critter) off his beleaguered sweatervest with one hand and FONDLES his crotch with the other.
With Wilf vertical, DEARIE returns to her end of the table and fills her glass from a new bottle of wine. She smiles Grand Canyon style at the assembly of sodden souls before her.
I’d like to propose another toast. I am fifty five years old today. Twelve years ago moments before Mother died she told me something that has clung to me like plastic cherries on Granny’s Easter bonnet ever since. It was a prediction of what happens on a very specific day, a promise, maybe. That day is…
DEARIE takes a long pregnant pause for dramatic effect.
That day is…tomorrow.
Suckling Samaritans, Wanker, you can never remember what happens tomorrow, or yesterday or today for that matter.
DEARIE cuts Wayner off to EVERYONE’S relief.
Thanks for asking Wayner. Well, let me tell you what’s supposed to happen tomorrow. On her deathbed Mother said that the day after I turn 55 years old, which would be first today and then tomorrow…
DEARIE makes a small curtsy and smiles demurely.
UNDER THE TABLE
WILF is FONDLING himself under the tablecloth again.
DEARIE smiles and curtsies twice more.
Mother said that the day after that, such as would be tomorrow, I will be able to see auras, our bright glows that we all keep hidden. Now I know no one is surprised by this as it has been an endlessly fascinating topic of family discussion for the last twelve years. My toast has a double purpose. First I salute Mother who, despite her preference for budgie birds, managed to raise a couple of fine children.
Why Delma, you and me, of course! Who else could it be?
The fucking budgie fucking birds, she was always with the fucking birds. Remember the time we cut one’s head off with the big scissors from the junk drawer, plucked it, cooked it and ate it? It tasted like chicken.
DEARIE admonishes her sister as chipper as chipper can chip.
Delma, that never happened. It happened only in your mind. It never happened anywhere else but there. You know that Delma.
God, what a bitter cunt she was! I used to feed the fucking budgies beebees and watch them try to shit them out. God, how they squawked! Like chickens on a hot tin roof. One time Mom found a beebee inside a budgie bird egg.
Delma, none of that ever happened either. You are very creative tonight, aren’t you? Anyway, my first toast is to Mother. She got us through.
DEARIE lifts her GLASS high, and, with eyebrows as raised as possible to encourage everyone, manages to honour her mother. There is a heartless CLINKING of glasses followed by a robust quaff from everyone’s respective receptacles. DELMA spills some down the front of her blouse, most everyone else manages some in their mouth. DEARIE, least drunk, has some catching up to do so DOUBLE QUAFFS twice before the next phase of her toast begins in earnest. PAPPY snorts and jerks in his chair. His eyes pop open.
You know, kids, your mother got me so hard one time I burst a blood vessel in my cock. I surely did. Your momma was a hot babe under the sheets; she could dance like a dainty ballerina one minute and grind you through the seven fucking wonders of the fucking world like a milkmaid the next.
UNDER THE TABLE
WILF, RUFUS and WAYNER are FONDLING themselves over their pants.
PAPPY wheels himself over to the sideboard near Evangeline’s PICTURE, rapt in her image, PULLS at his crotch.
She was the Moaning fucking Lisa in bed, coy and bitchy, fiery and sporting, ever sporting. We did threesomes with my brother Ethan a few times. She liked both of us alone or together…
DEARIE makes a motion to stop Daddy but instead she quaffs her glass dry and refills it to the brim.
With wistful remembrance PAPPY recalls his first meeting with Evangeline.
The first time I laid eyes on your mother was in a dive called Crunchy’s Broken Teeth Grill.
A lurid sign reads Crunchy’s Broken Teeth Grill over an alcove doorway. FOLLOW through the door inside.
BOOTHS line a wall painted to LOOK LIKE a window overlooking a street in a small town. Tables and a bar complete the room. The decor is a bizarre combination of incongruent styles and objects.
The JUKEBOX plays an old country song (try for Sea of Heartbreak by Don Gibson) and there is an ambience of baby talk, intermittent roars and screeches and the usual sounds of a cafe but heightened, highly lucid and near.
In one corner standing around a table are four middle-aged, slightly overweight, pale skinned, hairy-bodied MEN wearing only large baby DIAPERS and baby BONNETS, sucking on baby BOTTLES. One of the babies is filling his baby bottle with WHISKY from a bottle on the table. They ga ga and goo goo like babies.
PAPPY (VO) CON’T)
Crunchy’s attracted small bands of alcoholic babies…
CU of GLASS of dark liquor held by hand with ARM extending back toward a skinny body and a gaunt face. The hand begins to SHAKE, the glasses clicks against the table. The shaking becomes more violent, the glass shakes wildly and the booze FLIES all around. The face in the background becomes increasingly MANIC. The sound of the glass against the table is a certain rhythm against the anguished howls of the drinker.
In a booth alone is a SALESMAN, 30s, wearing a white shirt and a wide tie with SOUP STAINS on it. He eats soup and SPILLS more on his tie. His hair is a mess, a sea of out-of-control cowlicks which he seeks to smooth with frequent self-conscious hand motions. It becomes obvious he can’t eat soup and pat his hair at the same time.
PAPPY (VO) (CON’T)
…and pink slime salesmen with stains on their neckties and unmooed cowlicks. Crunchy’s was at the corner of Sawbuck and Bucksaw. It’s gone now. There’s a nuclear power plantation on that corner today and tomorrow…and forever.
At one end of Crunchy’s, under bright spotlights in the shape of an arc, are five stone PEDESTALS, about six feet high. The only one occupied is the CENTRE one on which young EVANGELINE sits, dressed in a 1950s party dress a la Dearie, her feet crossed and swinging.
Next to the pedestal is MOJOKER, 30s, a handsome, dark-skinned man from INDIA, wearing a garish suit and sunglasses that flash on and off is making outlandish MOTIONS of presentation with his arms and body toward EVANGELINE on the pedestal. PAN to hold shot of MOJOKER’S crotch.
Your mother was seated high atop one of the pedestals. I was introduced to her by a tall brown man who was a friend of hers named Mojoker, so named because he had a large mojo which barely fit inside your mother and didn’t fit inside me at all.
DEARIE stares at her father.
Birthday! Daddy, still my birthday!
PAPPY smiles. He’s having a great time.
Crunchy’s was about a hundred yards from the Suez Canal, not the whorehouse on 17th but the real Suez Canal…in Egypt. Oh, the smell! Pee-hew!! I still get nasal memory whiffs of it when the grime reaper reaches down with his scouring pad and Comet Cleanser to try to expunge me again once and for all. I hate the look on his face. If that look had a smell, it would be the Suez Canal. Take a deep breath. Can you smell it?
EVERYONE around the table takes a DEEP BREATH of air to try to smell the Suez Canal.
DEARIE closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.
A slowly flashing sign says SUEZ MOTEL.
A small seedy MOTEL LOBBY that is shoulder to shoulder with SIMILAR-LOOKING men: all handsome, swarthy, black-haired, their sweat-stained white shirts open, their brown chests thick with black hair. In among the tightly-packed group of men is DEARIE, wearing a bright 1950s party dress, being jostled by the crowd. She looks confused, but not unpleasantly so. Some of the men drink beer, some chew on chicken legs, some pay attention to DEARIE, touching her hair, her dress, expressing amorous intentions, slavering over her, opening their shirts for her to touch their hairy chests. DEARIE touches several chests.
Besides Pappy the only person able to smell the Suez Canal is our dear Dearie who is having a sense-memory of something that may never have happened.
In the lobby of the Suez Motel she rather enjoys the warm crush of male bodies whose sweat smells acrid, zesty, like lemons. Their earthy aroma mixes with the exotic fumes from the food and beer, making Dearie feel a little woozy. Look at her face.
DEARIE, still breathing deeply, is LOST in memory, her face a mask of daring pleasures, desire burns in her eyes. DEARIE shakes her head.
The room SPINS once then stops full and sudden.
DEARIE is a little jolted by the moment’s events.
The second part of my toast is to tomorrow. I’ve studied up on auras for years yet have no idea what life will be like at dawn tomorrow. Tomorrow and tom…
Three incontinent consonants abridged with scrotum hung along wires picked clean by the birds, red-winged blackbirds, the fiddle part in a skiffle shuffle that Lonnie Donegan originated back in the late 1950s in some sleepy sooted-up coal city in the north of fucking England and the dancers are all left-footed, a clumsy julep and…and…Speese. Speese. (WISTFUL) God how I loved that guy.
DEARIE’S toast is suddenly on hold as she stands with her glass still raised.
Suddenly Dearie’s toast is on hold as the subject of Pappy’s new rant grabs all the available attention the cast can muster. Speese, long a curiosity in the family and cause of enormous denial, was an “uncle,” the kind who fucks everybody in the household over and over again.
I thoroughly devoured Speece a few years back. He was very acidic with yummy spinal fluids, not too medicinal with a nice apple-pear aftertaste. Since Speece was such an inspiration to Pappy, I have a feeling Pappy’s about to give an award-winning performance.
Torpor. Torpor. I’m full of Torpor!
Whenever he says torpor or any variation on it PAPPY moves his wheelchair slightly back and forth, just enough to create the SQUEAK to which he times his words. He stops and grasps the air in front of him with gnarled fingers, his face a mask of knuckles.
PAPPY speaks in an EFFEMINATE voice, imitating some ancient, famous movie actress.
Heavenly horse halitosis! Suddenly I’m not quite stoned enough. Wanker, to answer your eloquent quizitation, it means Daddy’s full of shit.
DEARIE (GETTING DRUNK NOW)
Still my birthday. Still my fucking birthday. Five five, only once so drink up you mothers!
DEARIE reacts to her own words with surprise and sly delight.
Torpid, so torpid, so very torpid, so very very torpid now, torpider and torpider, nearing torpidest.
PAPPY pauses to see if anyone will stop him but no one does or, frankly, can. He has the whole stage to himself thus becoming DOUBLY effeminate. Though the level of attention left among the assembled guests is low, Pappy steals 100% of it, thoroughly enjoying his moment. His eyes are wide and he leans out of his wheelchair gesturing to the heavens, his face a gnarl of coy dentures.
Speece! I loved that man! He could fly, fish and fly fish and we both loved it when I went fishing in his fly. His smegma tasted like chicken. Whenever I told him that and he’d laugh, his frolicky blond curls bouncing against the canyon wall in the sunshine. He smelled like old dog and new piss.
Med CU of man’s tanned muscular back with described hairs, visible off and on as he flexes his muscles.
PAPPY (VO) (CON’T)
His broad back had a fine covering of pale blond hairs that only made themselves known to certain people in certain shadow and certain light situations. Like waves of the heart, those little blond hairs rippled back and forth across his muscular cinnamon back.
PAPPY’S voice becomes shrill and his gestures adopt extremely exaggerated FEMININE qualities.
When he entered me, I always knew it, not like some men. They are barely in you, barely there, barely anywhere but when Speece and I joined in fleshy union there was never any doubt for either of us. He felt endless sometimes. I’d clench, grab and hold him inside me. He’d pivot 360 degrees on my clench as if to say ‘Hello, you have an international phone call from an Eskimo.’
PAPPY lapses into peals of screechy girlish LAUGHTER, fluttering his eyelashes, touching his face and neck, imitating a young girl.
It’s a horrid display that horrifies no one at the table, truly ghastly and not entirely lost on the room. The cast reacts befuddled yet fascinated.
When we were out in public, Speece would suddenly say very loud, ‘It drives me crazy that you are naked under those clothes!’ People around us reacted as need be and he’d laugh slyly, rolling his brownest bedroom eyes and getting me thinking about his ten uncut inches. He was an expert at that, getting people to think of his ten uncut inches. Speece liked to use Crisco, it was his favourite.
W-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-hat d-d-d-d-d-d-d-id h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-he n-n-n-n-n-neeeed cr-cr-cr-cr-cr-cr-isco f-f-f-f-f-or?
DELMA (BLACK, 99 YEARS OLD)
Fo’ makin’ dem sho’breads, hon, fo’ makin’ dem old sho’breads.
UNDER THE TABLE
EVERYONE but Delma is now TOUCHING themselves under the table.
DELMA starts searching and jingling in her handbag for another pill, DOWNS two of something. Three shrill BEEPS and the long tone occur again. DELMA turns off her wristwatch alarm, stands and shambles off to the bathroom for repairs. As she passes by Pappy she speaks to him.
All we ever wanted or cared to know is did Speese fuck you up the ass, Daddy?
Her pronunciation of the word Daddy brims with week-old goulash left out in the rain.
On behalf of all of us, thanks for clearing that up on this extra extra extra special day! You’ve given us all the perfect gift.
DELMA doesn’t even pause to hear a response. She walks down the hall to the bathroom. The door SLAMS heavily.
DELMA mutters to herself in the bathroom mirror.
What a coarse and sordid evening. Dearie’s fifty-fifth birthday, who the fuck cares? Not even Plato cares! (SHE CHUCKLES) Dearie and her fucked up family. Ugh. And Wilf. I fucked him once and he was swell for two minutes and a dishrag thereafter but, of course, I’d never say that out loud, let alone think that to myself. (SHE CHUCKLES)
Accompanied by her jingly bangles, DELMA inspects her falling FACE in great detail as do we in CU. MOIST PATCHES soak through previous applications of powder and paste. She gently pushes some of the lumps back into their place as gravity has caused them to sag horrifically. Her eyes peer out from her misshapen face. She DUSTS her face with a white powder that is soaked up by the oozing. Once there is a thin sheen of white covering the wetness, she nods and smiles grotesquely.
Three intersubjective balfs, a half-belf with a fly-cut sweehaw and the burgeoning barf from the furthest reaches of space landing with nounic phlegm, cunt juicery, count floozier and the madicinal effects of stun glasses.
PAPPY pauses in his rant to see if anyone will interlope into his madness and no one does.
I have seen the panthers and they are not friendly today. I have seen the panthers and they are not friendly today.
WILF makes a loud sudden agonized YELP, as if he’s been wounded.
Not the fucking panthers again! No, no! No! Not the fucking panthers. Not today! Not now!
Utterly bemoaned, holding his head in his hands, shaking, WILF can barely keep from crying, PAPPY from laughing.
PAPPY sings in his most mischievous “daddy” voice as if everyone else is five years old.
Lowly, growly, slowly, wholly,
Slick and slim, slink and blim
Dark as shadow inside shadow
Panthers mime a spicy hymn.
WAVING his arms rhythmically as if he’s at a rock concert, PAPPY repeats his quartet of silliness endlessly.
EVERYONE but WILF sings and waves along creating a non-melodic choir. The waves are not in sync and they keep hitting each others’ raised arms. It’s just sad.
Isn’t that a sad choir? They are singing the Pilipps family mantra. Pappy made it up when the kids were still spongy mouths and drainy assholes in the crib. He has sung it religiously and incessantly at every family gathering since. Wilf is distraught because he doesn’t have the protective family gene, the psychic armour and numb familiarity that makes the ditty less than insanity inducing. Dearie has forgotten the second part of her toast and smiles, curtsying inside to herself at her own party. She is having a wonderful time. She curtseys inside to herself again and smiles harder. Suddenly Dearie has an idea.
Let’s strip Daddy naked, cook him and eat him.
As we see the assorted reactions around the table, CANCER speaks.
While the wine thinks that’s all right, there is just enough of Dearie left to sense the performative contradiction of her idea. Maybe she’ll reconsider.
DEARIE crooks her head, pondering as a bird ponders when it’s standing on one leg.
PAPPY (NORMAL VOICE)
Or we could stripalo a piccolo, expunge a repugnantcy and clownclunk the beefalo castrato, all in a day’s work for an Excessive Recessive Obsessive Frontender like me. My fee is freedom from you, my ticket to ride sidesaddle comes enwrapped in plastic fantastic lovers piled dense to hide the sound, high to discourage the bottom feeders and thick to confuse the sniffer dogs. Right now in the world there is a sniffer dog pensively thinking, “What’s that smell?”
At least he stopped with the fucking panthers.
WILF still holds his head but has trouble configuring from his drunken confusion. He scowls and peers at the world.
WAYNER is smiling and DROOLING slowly but profusely. When Wayner gets to the drooling stage, he’s easy pickins for PAPPY who sees his chance.
WAYNER reaches for a little round CRACKER, pops it in his mouth and munches three times before the first gag.
PAPPY’S EYES brighten.
Another two chews, small gag and the cracker seems to be fine now, at least Wayner’s mouth is sending him that message. A few seconds later his larynx starts to retract from the cleave of cracker caught there. PAPPY seizes the moment and wheels up beside Wayner.
Hey, hairy hands from jerking off six times a day.
EVERYONE looks at WAYNER who begins BLUSHING uncontrollably, his guilt a sale bill pasted across his hoarding face. WAYNER takes a DEEP BREATH and his profuse saliva, quickened by the still-stuck cracker, sprays into his larynx, bringing forth fresh gagging and a growing look of fear along with a few pints of extra blood to rouge Wayner’s pale complexion.
Had they not had the Huddnuts hidden heinously hunder the he-bed, the spoon and spore-fed Zealot of Zygote zoitenly…
PAPPY’S rant is cut off by a roar of COUGHING from WAYNER who’s bent over in his chair, horking unproductively at the floor. WAYNER sits up and his face GLOWS neon-red.
EVERYONE feels a tiny blast of heat from WAYNER’S face. DEARIE fans herself with her hand. WAYNER clutches his throat, thin wisps of air sieve through the blockage making a small high-pitched wheezing sound.
WAYNER’S stridor AWAKENS PUCE MOMENT who cocks her head, stares, listens, blinks, LICKS her wounded nipple three times then returns to CAT SLUMBER and her nightmare about casters which we see very briefly.
In a bright shaft of sunlight on the floor, PUCE MOMENT’S tail is run over by something heavy on CASTERS, cutting off HALF the tail which spasmodically flops around like the severed tail of a skink. We HEAR the loud painful YOWL of a cat and see the mad flip-flopping piece of tail CLUNKING.
PUCE MOMENT awakens shaking, looks at her tail, flicks it a couple of times and relaxes back into sleep.
Would you like a glass of ginger ale, Wayner?
WAYNER makes CROAKING sounds as the other guests watch with contracted interest, unable to move, utterly unmotivated to assist, pretending this might not actually be happening. WAYNER is a dire study in BLOOD. His FACE is infused and approaching scarlet, his HANDS are shaking and ripping at his throat as he broadcasts loud and forceful gibberish that seems to beg for assistance. His audience is bewildered.
DELMA totters back into the room.
For chrissake, somebody Heimlich the fucking guy before he chokes to death.
No one moves.
DELMA’S words spur WILF into action. He stands with enormous uncertainty takes four baby steps toward Wayner and attempts to grasp WAYNER to pull him upright. WAYNER stands, his redness is turning to a slight shade of purple as his body cries out for oxygen. WILF, unsteady but determined, grips WAYNER from behind, clasps his hands together under his sternum and gives WAYNER a mighty yank. Nothing.
DEARIE shouts mainly incoherent words of encouragement.
C’mon Wilfy boy, dunk that sucker in shellac. Spook the gook mook. Oh look, there’s Jesus standing in the corner by the knickknack nook.
The KNICKKNACK NOOK is in an oddly shaped corner of the room. A strange assortment of knickknacks fills a floor to ceiling set of shelves that fit into the corner.
EVERYONE looks but only Dearie and the camera see JESUS who fades in superimposed in the corner. He is the classic handsome Jesus: shoulder-length blondish hair, strong aquiline nose, firm chin, clean shaven, wearing a white robe with a faint halo hovering over his head. JESUS nods and smiles wanly at DEARIE. He does a small WAVE with his hand next to his face. DEARIE waves back.
WAYNER’S red face is smeared with TEARS of fear as WILF gives the manoeuvre another try, both men now swaying under their combined alcoholic imbalance. WILF yanks WAYNER again. An apocalyptic spastic GESTURE arches WAYNER’S body which then freezes, somewhere between air and the choke. The two men are suspended together in a brief still life watercolour, a tableau that dissolves when WAYNER frees his passages of the debris, spraying it and most of the contents of his stomach up and out into the open air. Arcing and fluttering above the proceedings like gastro-fireworks, WAYNER’S productive regurg splatters to the floor in large globular dots. The alcohol takes charge and both men topple into a small pile on top of each other and Wayner’s upchuck.
Grunting and groaning in disgust, WILF and WAYNER with great difficulty try to extricate themselves from the sickening pile. WILF inspects his SWEATERVEST.
Now you’ve completely ruined my sweatervest.
WILF wails as he finally disentangles himself from wheezing WAYNER whose face is now the colour of five fire engines. Covered in his nephew’s vomit and drowning in his own drunken disgust, WILF tries without initial success to stand up. Instead he merely rolls back down in alky slo-mo, rejoining WAYNER who is on hands and knees, rasping and wheezing, stuttering and lisping, trying to communicate something his clogged and ruined voicebox can’t accomplish.
Through all this, PAPPY is having the time of his life. Surprised amusement at the beginning turns to uncontrollable howling laughter. His chair SQUEAKS as he rocks back and forth in glee.
Pappy’s having the time of his life. Although his face is red from the hilarity, it’s getting redder because of the little stroke the mirth just caused in Pappy’s old brain. He has peed his Depends to overflowing and a small trickle of pale urine drips from the rear of the seat.
PAN to leaky DEPENDS.
DELMA lights another JOINT and puffs dreamily.
GENEVA flails her fat arms at the smoke.
DEARIE, GENEVA and RUFUS have remained vigilant but detached during the manoeuvre, leaving the heavy work to Wilf.
WILF and WAYNER try to ascend out of their wet chaos.
DEARIE stands and walks over to WAYNER, bending over him.
Oh, Jesus just reminded me. Wayner, would you like a glass of Vistagoyim, I mean, ginger ale?
The word yes has never been pronounced so strangely or adamantly as it is in WAYNER’S reply.
WAYNER (BARELY AUDIBLE)
WILF has regained verticality and his chair and wipes Wayner’s sick off his sweatervest.
WILF (IN TEARS)
I cherish this sweatervest. Good old sweatervest.
WILF mourns to himself, patting his chest, his FINGERS sticky and smelling of Wayner’s inner juices that have mixed with Wilf’s generous gift of PFC-for-all. The material dripping from Wilf’s fingers looks nothing like chicken.
WAYNER remains on ALL FOURS making pathetic whinnying sounds and wiping away the dregs that still sporadically emerge from his more productive heaving coughs.
DEARIE, still standing over WAYNER, hasn’t actually moved to get the ginger ale.
WAYNER looks up at her with red-rimmed and bulging EYES and rasps out the words ginger ale.
DEARIE remembers her mission and totters to the kitchen, returning almost immediately with an unopened CAN of Crimble’s Cream of Bologna and Spinach soup.
Remember that Crimble’s soup commercial on TV where they had the little dogs eating the little babies?
Dearie rocks slowly holding the soup trying to focus her attention on something.
No, not eating the babies, eating beside the babies and then the babies and puppies get colic and puke into the doggie dishes and the puppies, or maybe the babies, one of them eats the puke. No, I’m confused.
DEARIE hiccups as if she is in a cartoon, surprised that she isn’t. She smiles, giggles, curtseys, giggles and curtseys again.
I’m such a reindork.
DELMA (SLOW DRAWL)
Yes, you are. And, while we’re at it, fuck your birthday, raindog. I was thinking that to myself during my brief safari to your reasonably clean toilet room. I was thinking I’d redust my visage and return to the birthday repast with renewed vigour and my usual sweet sanctimonious self at least for a few minutes but fuck your birthday party.
DELMA raises her wine GLASS slightly to Dearie and drinks copiously, jingle a little. Ignoring her sister, DEARIE retreats into her kitchen.
WAYNER regains his seat, still red-faced but the liquids seem to be finished. He DRY HEAVES now and then. With a shaky hand he fills his wine glass and takes a small sip which goes down easy. He takes a larger sip, swallows and smiles. WAYNER dry heaves, waits, nothing, smiles. He lifts his glass and drinks heartily.
DEARIE emerges from the kitchen holding an empty glass and a bottle of MOP AND GLO. She sets them down in front of WAYNER who stares at them bewildered.
DEARIE takes her three-quarter full wine glass, drains it in one gulp and fills it once more.
WAYNER catches DEARIE’S eye who stares at the bottle of Mop and Glo then looks at WAYNER’S rougy visage. She is smiling like a little girl.
Wayner has just realized Dearie can’t accomplish ginger ale right now. Ginger ale is beyond her.
The six drinking people at Dearie’s party have consumed nine bottles of wine in under 90 minutes. Though impressive, it is not a record for Philipps family gatherings. Pappy could drink every other member of his family under the table and he held regular competitions with his kin to maintain his supremacy. Years before his daughters attained drinking age, he and they had drinking competitions which Pappy usually won. Everyone in the family has attended AA at some point, none of them successfully.
Pappy’s drinking days were curtailed when Dearie and Wilf forbade him to drink because booze interacts with the medication Pappy pretends to take. It’s the one turd in Pappy’s otherwise master plan. Not to say Pappy doesn’t knock back a few JBs when he’s home alone. And, by the way, all the sugar in all that booze is exactly the kind of nectar that sparks me into action. When I know there is an endless stream of sugar flowing through a body, I feel nurtured, right at home.
PAPPY tosses something else into the proceedings.
I’m going to kick you in the nuts so hard…
This time no one asks the required question but Pappy doesn’t care. It’s a special occasion.
I’m going to kick you in the nuts so hard all your children will be corporate lawyers.
Good one, Daddykins. By the way, here’s something even your best friends won’t tell you. You have about half a cabbage of snot hanging from your nose.
PAPPY puts his hand to his nose. There is no cabbage hanging from Pappy’s nose except inside Delma’s sensual world.
Go get your leash, Buck. C’mon boy, get your leash.
Ignoring Pappy, DELMA SNIFFS until she goes cross-eyed which makes her face even more horrifying.
It smells like knockoff Ralph Lauren #2 and puke in here. I didn’t know Purina made sweatervests, Wilfy.
It’s ruined, completely ruined.
His chin on his chest, a pout on his lips and his fingers still sticky, WILF tugs gently at the wretched garment.
Runed finery, swooned binary, suckled by the night, instant gravy on your stickinesses, stinkimesses, slinkidresses, humbled, unmumbled, spoken around and round, encumbered, cucumbered unslumbered, two tired boys, two tired old boys.
If youse all, the assembled multitude, would do and be so gracious as to excuse me, I’m going to change my clothings.
WILF’S first attempt at standing is unsuccessful as are the next seven. Eventually he manages verticality and does a chair back to chair back WOBBLE to the wall then into the master bedroom of their bungalow. The bedroom door closes heavily.
In a small child’s voice, his EYES large and questioning under his bushy grey eyebrows, appearing to be all of seven years old, PAPPY asks.
Winnifred gone bye-bye?
PAPPY’S face is still red from the recent merriment but he seems a little glazed, hazy, doughy. PAPPY ROCKS as if he’s holding a baby, smiles down at the child and sings.
PAPPY (SINGS & ROCKS AN IMAGINARY BABY)(CON’T)
I’m going to kick you in the nuts so hard…, yes I’m going to kick you in the nuts so hard, how hard you might ask? I’m gonna kick you in the nuts so hard all your children will be pigeon toed, knock kneed, anorexic, dyslexic, dyspeptic, birdlike, turdlike and absurdlike. Coo coo, coo coo. Peace love dove little egg, little monster. (WISTFUL) I wish I’d had children.
PAPPY rocks the imaginary baby and SIGHS heavily. A long dramatic pause ensues so all may inhabit the life of Pappy’s latest words.
Suddenly DEARIE is revived and indignant.
You have childrens! I’m your childrens! I’m your childereens! I’m your childerettas! Me and her. Us.
DEARIE’S exclamations bring a rude SMILE to PAPPY’S hairy gob as he wheels over to Dearie and stares into his daughter’s face.
Oh, hi Squirt. Your egg was named Kissandra and your sister’s egg was named Sucksandra. Gosh, you were good eggs, easy to penetrate, quickly started your cellular division without being prompted much and hatched at the right moment when there was just enough insects to feed you! Isn’t Nature a marvel of Nature? Naturally, lain out and spread-eagled across a chasm filled with bubbling unknowns, you and your sister started life as lovely larvae, metamorphosed into beautiful armchairs and desired nothing in the world but scones without shit in them, saskatoons, fridges in a pile and a little bit of sour milk from Sheila the old dying Guernsey on Wednesdays. The first born came along naturally. Her name was Rosalita and she turned into a cancerous butterfly who smokes weeds and imagines that death is a bill you pay every month for eternity.
Was she pretty?
Pretty? Pretty? Oh God, no, neither inside or out. Hands up how many here have heard the word harridan? Anyone?
GENEVA has, DEARIE has, DELMA has.
How many have heard the word salt shaker?
Th-th-th-th-th-th-th-th-th-th-th-at’s t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-two w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-wordth.
One corn starched henpecked peckerhead, one bean sprouted curry-breathing intellipoop with italics for brains, a creeping jupiter stew of crushed shedadoh with proferesque provisioning, a link or three of greeking and reeking sausage marginalated in hammock-slung grecoaid, basted with gooseturd blasé and cooked to perfection in a convection by a chef with an infection, two erections and a bi-sectioned bowel. Oh, and a twinkle in daddy’s eye as worms crawl out of The Jerk Off King’s ears.
EVERYONE looks at WAYNER who has recovered from his coughing and heaving and breathes heavily, awaiting the long promised ginger ale. WAYNER shrugs.
RUFUS makes his first ever attempt at conversing with Pappy.
RUFUS (TO PAPPY)
I hope I’m able to upsweep the coins of my schoildhood like you, Pappy Pillhopper, when I gets to become your elderly agent (HEAD SHAKE), ager(HEAD SHAKE), age.
PAPPY’S SNEERS hatefully at Rufus, wheeling toward him.
Who are you? Fuckin’ Popeye? One uncuffed diddler, three bass fiddlers, a doorstep full of eighth notes and a shot of lemon expresso jism, UNBEGUN, UNBECOME AND UNDUN!!
RUFUS visibly WANES under PAPPY’S villainous glare and lurid words.
I-I-I-I-I’d l-l-l-l-l-like t-t-t-t-to pr-pr-pr-pr-propose a-a-a-a t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-toast.
A pause while EVERYONE except DELMA makes sure they have a full glass, shrugging, smiling, bemused by Wayner’s offering.
EVERYONE clinks the handiest glasses and drinks.
DELMA has adopted the SMILE of a little girl whose face is ruined by cancer. The delight in her eyes shines as she watches something invisible happen on her unused dessert plate.
OS we HEAR several loud crashes during Cancer’s speech.
DTs and denied pain are standards in Delma’s present world. The sugar in all Delma’s booze and pills nourishes me. The little pills, codycontin and the pure unadulterated codeine she scarfs all day long, are quickly ruining her liver but I’ll get her first. Right now, although we can’t see them, Delma is highly amused by a traveling troupe of miniature circus people performing on her dessert plate, leaping acrobatically back and forth over her prettily placed dessert fork. Two tiny green iridescent elephants make tiny elephant roars and dance around with the troupe. Delma feels like a little girl again and looks down…
DELMA looks down at her SHOES with hopeful eyes.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
…to see if she is wearing her going-to-church shoes – black patent, shiny with strap and gold buckle across the front? Heavenly feet? Alas. Not today. Isn’t it Sunday yet? When will it be Sunday yet?
Despite several loud crashes from Wilf and Dearie’s bedroom signifying God knows what sort of drunken mayhem Wilf has accidentally wrought upon the room, no one moves to investigate, least of all DEARIE who has warmed to an empty wine bottle and holds it incautiously between her BREASTS which fascinates WAYNER.
UNDER DINING TABLE
PUCE MOMENT dances a cat DANCE between table legs and people legs, pausing to leave a stain of cat’s ass highlighter on both WHEELS of Pappy’s chair and the sole of Rufus’s left SHOE. As we watch the cat, CANCER speaks voiceover.
There is no love lost between Pappy and Puce Moment. When left alone in the house with the cat, Pappy has often entertained himself with a round or three of Run over the gee dee Cat’s Tail with My Wheels. The one sensual kink in the beast’s tail is testimony to Pappy’s only success at the game.
PAPPY’S head ASLEEP on a pillow, a shaft of silver moonlight illumines his face. He snores gently but raggedly. PULL BACK to reveal PUCE MOMENT PERCHED, like a vulture, on the edge of the night stand right next to Pappy’s head. The cat hovers over the sleeping man, weaving slightly, TOUCHING his beard with her paw.
In those occasional unguarded moments when he forgets to close his bedroom door, Puce Moment will creep warily into his room and sit next to Pappy’s head all night staring at the old man wishing she had venom but settling for counting cat coup, meaning she could have killed him but chose not to. That is Puce Moment’s secret – wishing she had venom.
CU from below of PUCE MOMENT unlocking her JAW and exposing her shiny white TEETH as she bears down on sleeping Pappy’s throat. The cat STOPS mid motion and resumes perching quietly.
Good decision, Pucey. The hand that feeds you and all that. Cats are lazy so life’s good for Pucey, despite not having poisonous fangs. And her kitty psychosis: how much she beats herself up because she hasn’t the courage to shit in Pappy’s open mouth while he’s sleeping.
PAPPY gives Puce Moment the evil eye.
PUCE MOMENT scampers off down the hall just as the bedroom door opens and WILF emerges, sporting a whole new wardrobe. WILF and PUCE MOMENT hiss at each other.
HALLWAY ENTRANCE as WILF emerges from the bedroom. He is wearing a large untucked t-shirt that says “I’M WITH STUPID” with a big black ARROW pointing DOWN and baggy pajama bottoms – orange background with a recurring pattern of blue guitars wearing large plaid bowties.
WILF is also wearing an imaginary moustache that is long and pointy. We only ever know about his imaginary moustache because he frequently makes the gesture as if twirling the ends of a long moustache.
Leaning his shoulder against the hallway wall to steady himself, WILF slowly, crudely, slides into the dining room. All three dimensions plus alcohol cahoot cosmically and somehow WILF regains his seat at the head of the table, relieved not to be moving.
WILF sits with his PALMS flat on the table on either side of his plate, fingers spread, weaving, swoony, teetering slightly. With a slight shake of his head, WILF becomes present with the party.
There! I’m back! All of me!
WILF looks around the table for recognition.
DEARIE smiles at him.
Yes, it is me! Tis I! I know you might not recognize me because I’m not covered in vomit but it is definitely good old Wilfy boy, peckerhead in the checkerboard sweatervest.
Would anyone like to puke on me? This is your next big chance…anyone? No takers. Well, maybe I’ll just puke on myself, that way everyone will feel at home.
PAPPY’S wheelchair SQUEAKS OS.
WILF scowls around the table having formed this brilliant tirade in his mind while changing his clothes. Other than the distracted smile from DEARIE, Wilf gets one response. PAPPY wheels up next to him.
Welcome home, Winnifred, welcome home from your abortion. How many’s that now…eleven? twelve? fifty? Who was the daddy this time, missy? Who had the pudding this time? Was it the hefty barrel hawker that come through here and come through you and fled the scene of the grime? Was it the carnival dwarf with fists of steel? The street waif with the curly hair and goat beard? The crusty writer on mended crutches? Nobody will ever know whose smear your twat found delectable and divine enough to pursue into something resembling a steamed prawn.
With a look of hatred in his eyes, WILF GLARES at PAPPY.
Something else nobody will ever know, in addition to the multiple abortions, Winnifred has been circumcised three times! Three times! It keeps growing back!!
PAPPY lapses into contorted, wheezy laughter, twisting himself around in the chair, causing the wheels to squeak a little.
WILF POURS himself more wine and socks back half of it.
Okay, truth time, fuck dare, truth and only truth and nothing but the truth.
In the eon I have known him, Pappy has been correct once or twice before. Today, an ox specious day, I avow that all, under the spell of this hexed and deindexed table of goofs and goofettes, know I have, indeed, been circumcised three times and it has grown back each time. First cutting: I was three weeks old. It grew back by the time I was seven. Second cutting: I was eight – snip snip – but the cap came back. Third harvest: I was thirty four, Geneva was three, and it’s growing back again, slower this time but gradual, unstoppable. I’ve read that it’s a sign of evolution.
WAYNER quips as quippingly quippible as possible.
I-I-I-I-In wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-which d-d-d-d-d-d-direction?
DEARIE SNORTS loudly and wrinkles her nose at Wayner, even GENEVA and RUFUS SMIRK a little.
I’ve kept careful track of the comings and goings of my husband’s penis, including with or without some or any foreskin. He’s right. Wilf’s foreskin does grow back. I’m going to start calling him Shaggy soon if he doesn’t head down to Spuzzum Meat Market and have three-fingered Fritz lop off a pound or two. We could cook it up and have everyone over to feast on Wilf’s recurring foreskin. Red wine or white? I wonder…
At the other end of the table WILF drains his glass, twirling his imaginary moustache.
UNDER THE TABLE
All this foreskin talk has DEARIE holding the warm empty wine BOTTLE between her legs right up tight there you know under the tablecloth so no one can see her doing it.
DEARIE gets flushed, smiles, the calligraphy of orgasm wrinkles her forehead. GENEVA watches her mother.
Mother, are you having a stroke?
DEARIE responds with a satisfied smile on her face.
No, daughter of mine, of ours, daughter of the hours and hours we spent trying to teach you the times tables. Remember, Wilfy? The fucking times tables?
WILF half smiles and feigns awareness of what DEARIE means by nodding balefully.
C’mon Wilf! You remember trying to teach Bo Peep what four times four is, what three times fucking eight is, what six times twelve is and so fucking on and on? So, what’s seven times fucking nine, Miss Peep?
Seven times nine is…ummm…fifty four.
Wrong. Sixty-three. See Wilf. I knew we wasted all those hours!
So no Geneva, I am not stroking, I mean, having a stroke.
There is a sodden lull.
EVERYONE is getting lost in his or her own stony drunken haze.
Seated on the edge of her chair, DEARIE TWITTERS softly, becoming birdlike despite herself.
GENEVA has dozed off, her head lolled to one side, a little DROOL seeps from between her red lipstick.
RUFUS hazily, lazily, dazedly watches the tiny trickle coming out Geneva’s mouth, transfixed by its perfection though Rufus is alcoholically beyond saying that, he can still think it, he thinks.
WILF is swaying to his own private music, CUPPING an empty wine glass in his hands as if it were a small bird, occasionally twirling his imaginary moustache.
Wayner is wondering what Mop and Glo tastes like. Delma has the German shepherd that barks until two in the morning while its owners have noisy sex with their windows open, by the mouth and she is violently throttling the rancid beast by ripping its jaws apart…
CU DELMA’S painted fake-nailed right hand tapping lightly next to a BLUE BIC and an exquisitely rolled dovetail joint.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
… though her fingers barely move away from her next joint and the lighter they both need to acquire fire.
PAPPY, head tilted, DROOLS in slow motion from the corner of his mouth.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
Pappy slobbers copiously at will, a talent he has acquired over recent months. Another new talent is his laboured breathing and occasional fake death rattles. In fact, right now Pappy is achieving death rattle nirvana, one of his ten best performances. Let’s listen in a little.
PAPPY’S death RATTLES dominate. It is a magnificent performance.
A magnificent achievement but, alas, lost on everyone in the room. What a shame! Since there is no cure for me, your treatments are a joke, so after-the-fact. Bring on your cutters, your death rays and your toxic chemicals. I am not afraid. Cutters can be effective if they are thorough and present with me. Death ray radiation kills everything in its path and toxic chemicals – you can’t even call them chemicals, they are chemo – poison the whole organism, most often ineffectively. The last two frequently leave the body so debilitated that I can easily find some place else to reassert myself.
Always sudden, always adroit, Pappy launches into one of his English lesson classroom flashbacks. Watch and learn from a master.
Next to PAPPY is a large portable double-sided blackboard that rotates. On the blackboard, in a childish scrawl, is written Blue Luke puked a cuke into Blintoo’s clitoo
Today, after we ignore the filth some non-erstwhile individuidiot has scrawled like graphite on the scum brown basin of life, after that we’ll continue with the lesson: leveling linguistic volcanoes and switching a few tornadoes into coffee clouds. I warn you here and now: If I hear one more screechy screw-headed balloon recite Bob Dylan biliously and with the aplomb of, well, a plum in this classroom, there will be a harsh flogging followed by a public hanging from these very same light fixtures that have satisfied the teachery aimlessness of previous lame brains who circumvened the zizzasection and Rimbeau’d the syntax until they constipated the throw-hues, the colours that belie the belittler and scruff up the scruffiness of the unscruffables who…
PAPPY pauses and looks around his class.
DEARIE, the girl in the pink chiffy over taffy party dress with vomit down the front at the end of the table, SLIDES slowly down her chair, disappearing behind her dishes and the tablecloth, sinking lower and lower like a ship going down in the North Atlantic, her party dress BILLOWING up around her cheeks making her appear to be inflating like a slow motion airbag. DEARIE is consumed by her dress and vanishes from sight beneath the table. In a few seconds the delicate cadence of DEARIE snoring arises from beneath the table, further arousing Wilf.
Drunk girl, no snoring in my classroom!
PAPPY searches around the table for someone to make contact with, to pierce with his absurd flow of guff.
WILF is aroused and can’t stop touching himself so PAPPY passes on pooch-in-law.
GENEVA awakens from her wine slumber and starts to sway to an unheard melody as RUFUS touches her breast and himself. Pappy grimaces and moves on.
Set and reset. Set and reset. It was the immaculately clean – he bathed twice a year – and inimically numbskulled English hysteric and grammatador Sir Witless Emptyshirt who, in 1751, said, ‘When you can’t think of the word, make one up.’ That sage barnacle has clung to my tender undercarriage without comfort or abrasion for lo, these many millennia. Cast that wisdom in stone and make everyone peer at it instead of going to church and school. It is all any of us ever need to know. ‘Make one up.’ Brilliant and crazy! Hey, you! No masturbating in my class!”
WILF and WAYNER suddenly look up with startled guilty “Me?” faces.
PAPPY SHAKES a finger at them. He rotates the blackboard and on the other side is written the first line of Pappy’s speech: “Mistooken, mistackled, misamused, that is the redactive, performative and kindless silk our lives are swaddled in.” He uses a red laser light to point to each word.
Mistooken, mistackled, misamused, that is the redactive, performative and kindless silk our lives are swaddled in. The poet and gout-inhabitor William Wordhenge said that profound thing. Now my classless class, let us analyze this bit of prose for its consternation and its replenitude.
I am aided and abetted in its interpretation by Marshall McLuhan. Marshall, are you back there?
MARSHALL McLUHAN, grey haired, 60s, distinguished, grey suit, steps from behind the portable blackboard.
There he is. Marshall, what would you like to say about Wordhenge’s hounded bit of doggerel? Preferably, something incomprehensible.
Sure thing, Paps. (CLEARS HIS THROAT, PAUSES DRAMATICALLY, CLEARS HIS THROAT AGAIN) There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.
I don’t get it so…very good. A plus, Marshall!
PAPPY applauds ludicrously. MARSHALL McLUHAN smiles bashfully.
Thanks Paps. I enjoyed sitting in on your class. See ya.
PAPPY waves as MARSHALL McLUHAN walks behind the blackboard. PAPPY carries on as if this didn’t happen. Turning back to the phrase on the blackboard and the laser pointer.
From the Joycean, to swivel, comes the mist, mist and misa of the world,
PAPPY points to the mist, mist and misa parts of the words with the laser.
No less separated from the ooken, ackled and the mused.
PAPPY underlines those parts of the words with the laser.
Thusly performing the same grammatic dance that the impossibles do when they cohort with the possibles, attractors outside the realm of moo, moose, milk, milch, mulch…
On the word mulch, several loud ecstatic stuttering GASPS and SQUEALS explode out of WAYNER, his eyes pressed shut in bliss. EVERYONE looks at Wayner who comes mightily in his blue jeans. Great and satisfying QUAVERS repeatedly lurch up and down his body all the while he produces a weird stuttery groan.
UNDER THE TABLE
WAYNER’S blue jeans are developing a large dark wet SPOT at the crotch.
WAYNER GROANS a few more times. He floats on the warm sweet wetness that changes into a cool blue skydive later.
DEARIE (V.O.) (FROM UNDER THE TABLE)
Would you like a glass of ginger ale, Wayner?
WAYNER’S face is contorted into yawning pleasure. In a too-loud whisper, shielding the WRONG SIDE of his mouth with his hand, WILF leans toward Wayner.
Did you just blow your load in your pants at my dinner table on my wife’s fifty five hundredth birthday?
WAYNER is turning RED again.
PAPPY, hoping Wayner will choke on something else, WRINGS his hands in expectation, the old dry skin SOUNDS like a warm summer breeze sieving through pasture grass.
Suddenly defiant, WAYNER takes a DEEP BREATH and GLARES half-convincingly at Wilf.
A-a-a-a-a-a-at l-l-l-l-l-l-e-e-east I-I-I-I d-d-d-d-d-d-d-didn’t c-c-c-c-c-c-cum o-o-o-on y-y-y-yer f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-fucking th-th-th-th-th-thweat-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-ter v-v-v-v-v-v-v-vest!
From below the table at DEARIE’S end comes a loud shrill LAUGH at Wayner’s comeback. The laugh turns into a TWITTER then back to a gutsy LAUGH full of real joy.
Slowly, like a time lapse flower opening, Dearie EMERGES from under the table, leveraging herself back up onto her chair, her red gleeful face rises like a spring moon.
You are sooo funny, Wayner. You should be a comedian!
WILF (EXASPERATED, POINTS AT WAYNER)
He was born with a tail! He was!
Fiery-eyed and vengeful WILF looks around the table for reaction, finding little.
It’s true. Wayner was born with a tail!
Oh he was not, Wilf. You weren’t born with a tail, were you Wayner? If you were, where did it go?
They cut it off when he was a baby. Wayner keeps it in a jar of formindable, fortidybull, formongoloid…
WILF, DEARIE and WAYNER join in trying to PRONOUNCE formaldehyde – not succeeding. Finally…
Formaldehyde! Formaldehyde! My kingdom for formaldehyde! Hi Ho Formaldehyde!
Anyway he keeps his tail in a jar by the door. I’ve seen it. Try and deny that Wayner.
T-t-t-true. S-s-s-s-o w-w-w-w-what!
A-a-a-a-t l-l-l-l-least i-i-i-it d-d-d-d-didn’t g-g-g-g-grow b-b-b-b-back.
WILF is crestfallen and stung by Wayner’s retort.
DEARIE, leaning her head on her hand, smiles benignly at Wayner as if he’d just graduated from Grade Three.
DELMA LAYS her head down on the dessert plate.
DELMA’S face fills the screen horizontally. Her head, cancer side up, rests gently and squarely on the clean round plate Dearie set before her. DELMA’S swept-up hair DROOPS over the edge of the plate. Her eyes are squeezed shut tight. The hideous contours of her face sink with gravity.
Slowly in a slightly pulsing flow a yellow LIQUID with the viscosity and shine of diluted lemon pudding starts to drain from between DELMA’S LIPS. The yellow liquid POOLS ominously on the shiny white plate. The yellow fluid is FLECKED with bright dabs of blood.
PAPPY, the first to notice the yellow goo, WHEELS up next to Delma for a better view. PAPPY WATCHES the slow pulsing flow. Slowly, almost involuntarily, PAPPY REACHES out his hand as if to touch the yellow fluid. His hand pauses in mid-air, suddenly draws back. A look of horror washes over PAPPY’S FACE, appalled he even entertained the thought.
There I am! Pure and simple, in one of my many guises, fluidly traveling on my journey from Delma’s sparse and shrivelling frame, having gorged myself on her flesh and marrow, her beauty and her pride, leaving behind a crumpled shell, a pill haven, shucked.
Now I range for a new body, a new home, someone at this table, the table Evangeline set and reset thousands of times in their lives.
DELMA’S head, still resting on the plate, is now SURROUNDED by the foul yellow fluid that keeps OOZING out of her mouth. The plate fills and the fluid OVERFLOWS the edge onto the white tablecloth. DELMA makes a loud snort spraying some yellow stuff onto the tablecloth. Slowly she RAISES her head off the plate. The downside of her face is plastered with the yellow stuff which DRIPS off her hair, ears, earrings and chin, leaving lurid STAINS on her light blouse and spatters on Dearie’s tablecloth.
What’s that smell?
DELMA queries the assembly without response although their increasingly horrified LOOKS attest to something dreadful. NOSES are touched to indicate foul odour.
In slow motion DELMA looks at the plate full of cancer, PULLS a slow finger down her cheek then INSPECTS the yellowness that covers it, sniffs it. OS the haunting VOICE of EVANGELINE with the twittering of birds in the background dominates DELMA’S awareness.
EVANGELINE (SCOLDING) (VO)
Oh Delma, your dessert has melted. Would you like me to feed it to the budgie birds? Would you like me to feed it to the budgie birds?
DELMA smiles and nods, still in slow motion.
Yes, mama. Feed it to the budgie birds.
DEARIE staring at Delma’s plate.
Oh Delma, your dessert has melted. Would you like…
DEARIE can’t take her EYES off the dessert plate filled with red-flecked yellow.
It’s not just Pappy who’s tempted to taste me. Dearie is suppressing a powerful urge at this moment. Wayner found release with his orgasm which blunted whatever need he had to be with me. Wilf, obliviously self-absorbed, is still twirling his imaginary moustache attempting thought. Geneva and Rufus seem contented, propped up against each other like two clods of dirt, missing out on my grand appearance, unaware that my decision is imminent.
DELMA stands, dreamily takes her purse with one hand while holding her face in place with the other, small SPURTS of yellow bubble from her mouth now and then. Her blouse is covered with lurid yellow STAINS.
You know where I’ll be.
DELMA shambles off down the hall.
DEARIE, drunk, sits at her end of the table, weaving slightly.
Well, now that you’ve gotten to know and, I’m sure, love everyone on my menu, let’s go through the dishes one by one and then I’ll tell you who gets to be my entree. First, the guest of honour, our dear Dearie.
DEARIE’S EXPRESSIONS change very slowly as she goes through a series of GESTURES, all seemingly meaningless to everyone but Dearie. Her gestures include a sitting curtsy and a puffing of her bouffant hairdo. Out of focus next to her is EVANGELINE’S picture on the sideboard.
Yes, our birthday girl who, like everyone else at her party, won’t remember much of what happened after the third glass of wine. In the morning, though remarkably hungover, Dearie will still recall that, according to her mother’s portend, she’ll be seeing auras, auras everywhere she goes.
Extreme CU of DEARIE’S face, pore tight. Slow PAN around her face.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
After a brief stumble to the bathroom and refreshing vomit, she’ll totter back to bed and observe still-sleeping Wilf, expecting to see his shining aura. No aura will be available to Dearie which, at first, she’ll think is because she is still drunk. A small taste of water sends her back to the john and another productive session draped over the bowl. Still no aura when she returns to bed to sleep it off. There never will be auras for Dearie.
What Dearie failed to notice at her mother’s dying side was the firm and knowing wink her mother gave Pappy, indicating she’s having her youngest daughter on, one final bit of dark humour at which Evangeline was a master.
Same as opening scene.
I think so. The day after I’m 55, I’ll see people’s auras. Is that right, mother?
Yes, good daughter. You now know what a little bit of your future looks like, Dearie.
EVANGELINE turns toward Pappy, winks.
Pappy, did you hear what I just told Dearie?
I heard it, Eva. I understand what you said. If I’m still kicking when that day rolls around, I’ll be sure and remind Dearie what you said.
Focus on picture of Evangeline on sideboard.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
Over the years Pappy has been enjoying Evangeline’s joke every time Dearie brings up her expectations of seeing auras.
So Evangeline’s secret has now become Dearie’s secret in reverse.
Focus back on DEARIE extreme CU.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
And that’s Dearie’s secret – that she has a secret she doesn’t even know she has. The whole situation is so rich with ditzyness, irony and generational darkness that I’m going to let Dearie wallow in it for a few years. On to Pappy.
PAPPY sits slumped softly snoring in his wheelchair.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
Pappy! Pappy! I know you’re not asleep, you old faker. Open your eyes.
Extreme CU of PAPPY’S face. PAPPY opens his eyes. Slow PAN around his face.
Huh? Huh? What’s…
Hey old Pappy. You can fool the family every moment of every day but you can’t fool me…ever. See, there isn’t much that’s real about Pappy anymore.
Three kleptonouns, one clip-on verb henge…
PAPPY silences and sits quietly in the wheelchair.
Pappy is lost in his own fantasy world of simulated dementia and mock degeneration. What once he faked is gradually becoming real. Though he still gets a serious kick out of his life, Pappy is bored with the repetition and predictability of his family life and relishes the infrequent times he can entertain visitors like at Dearie’s party.
Though banned from two local malls for his loud and outlandish behaviour, Pappy still has one mall, Squash Squander Heights Condomall, that allows him to be wheeled about.
Wearing dark glasses, hat and funeral SUIT, WILF is wheeling PAPPY around the mall in the wheelchair.
PAPPY wears a bright green Robin Hood HAT with a long feather in it that occasionally tickles WILF’S face and which he bats away.
This mall activity will continue as will Wilf’s inability to handle the embarrassment Pappy’s public words and deeds cause. Pappy has only begun to invent ways to torment Wilf. For that reason, and the fact he’s a scrawny wizened sour old devil with not a lot of meat on him, I’ll pass on Pappy. The emphysema can have him.
As WILF pushes him around, PAPPY sings ragged, raspy but loudly to the tune of Favourite Things.
Bee stings and coil kings
And spaniels in tartans
Claptraps with dewlaps
Bingos and cartons
Glimpses of turtles,
Myrtles and woe
This is the way
We all need to go.
Clown pants and romance
And bright shiny kittens
Eagles in snowsuits
Mufflers and mittens
Porridge with tycoons,
Shamblers and foes
These are the ways of the world
When the ghee stings
And the bee sings
Chain chain chain
Flapjacks and backpacks
And spurs without shingles
Eggplants in ski pants
And cheese sliced by singles
Moonbeams in jars
Space without stars
There won’t be much left
Except for the scars.
Card sharks and pee parks
Glimmer’s glance glistens
Barn doors and oak floors
Speak but nobody listens
Who do you trust?
Cuz trust is a must.
Barn doors and oak floors
They both gather dust.
When the ghee stings
And the bee sings
Chain chain chain.
Clown towns and sea gowns
The spokes twang benignly
Burgy the dog smiles
As the pizza comes finally
Goose eggs and harps
Life’s flat without sharps
This isn’t something
To keep under tarps.
Back hoes in slo mo
With commas and comas
Bliss without gout
Kiss without doubt
Is this really what
The world is about?
When the ghee stings
And the bee sings
Chain chain chain.
Extreme CU of WILF, drunk, leans on the table with both elbows, his hands under his chin supporting his head. He sleeps and snores raggedly which partially arouses himself but doesn’t bring him back to the room.
What about Wilf the Pilf? Is he delectable enough to be my entree? Though I am attracted to Wilf’s recurring foreskin secret, an extremely rare, extremely funny condition, the guy leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’ll let Pappy maul him for awhile longer. Besides, the world needs Wilf standing by. Leave it at that.
WAYNER, drunk, lolls in his chair, his hands plopped and limp on either side of his dessert plate, the front of his shirt still wet and lumpy from his bouts of vomiting, his mouth wide open broadcasting his laboured breathing and a deep and dark stridor-like wheeze that bespeaks something dreadful.
And then there’s Wayner, poor afflicted Wayner.
Extreme CU of WAYNER’S face. Slow PAN around his face.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
What else can possibly befall the boy? I have a few ideas but in his case I’m leaving him for heart disease and stroke to catch up with. Luckily there are plenty of juicy humans to go around.
GENEVA, drunk, imitates Wayner’s wide mouthed, lolling pose except her fat arms hang by her side, fingers twitching slightly.
All round, puffy and innocent, Geneva doesn’t look like she has the most heinous secret of the bunch, does she? But she has a dark, dark secret.
Emerging a little from her stupor, by rote GENEVA fumbles for her little mirror and lipstick which she applies very badly creating a large red clown mouth. She returns to the lolling pose.
Extreme CU of GENEVA’S face. Slow PAN around her face.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
It happened at her work. Geneva once killed a kid. She didn’t mean to, it was an accident she keeps telling herself. Two years ago Geneva was minding the red alert allergy brood who are kids with severe and life-threatening allergies. Allergies like Turks, not a turkey allergy but an allergy to people from Turkey, Turks. Allergies to pictures of cheese, not actual cheese which they can eat with impunity but show them a picture of mozzarella and their throats start to constrict followed by a quick trip to the ER.
This makes peanut allergy seem prosaic but, in Geneva’s case, still fatal. In the class was a boy so sensitive to peanuts that not only could he not eat or be near peanuts, he couldn’t be in the same room or building where peanuts had ever been. He couldn’t hear the word spoken or even be in a room where the word peanut had ever been spoken aloud without dire consequences.
To pass the time in the class, Geneva was making out her grocery list, absent-mindedly thinking out loud, she said, “Peanuts” quietly to herself. Not quietly enough.
SHOT of floor with legs of metal desk under which we watch the legs and feet of the boy thrash and clang against the legs of the desk. We HEAR the gagging of the young boy. Quick cuts to faces of other students, an assortment of expressions. The horrifying movement and sound gradually slow down as the boy dies.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
The boy overheard the word, keeled over and died under his desk after a brief but horrifying display of thrashing and gasping. None of the other children heard Geneva say peanuts, which supported the deniability factor she used to escape blame. Dark secret, huh?
Extreme CU of GENEVA’S face.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
Look at her, so doughy, so evil. Even though she’d be a juicy, sumptuous romp, Geneva needs to marinate in her guilt for a few more years to attract me. But I may not get the chance. Sometimes I can work successfully with diabetes sharing the same body with the same intent. Other times there are some folks that the ‘betes wants all to itself. In the case of Geneva, I acquiesce to my fellow sweet sucker.
RUFUS, drunk, is folded over the table, his face buried in his crossed arms. He looks up and surveys the room giving a couple of dry heaves, covering his mouth with his hand. He looks over at Delma’s plate and sees the yellow fluid.
He sniffs tentatively then touches his nose indicating the foul odour. Extreme CU of his face as he dry heaves again and again.
And then there was one. Rufus. Let’s see how he does with the skill-testing question. Roof, tell me something about yourself no one should ever know.
I was raped by a fireman three times when I was six years old.
Great answer, Roof. That seals it! The early odds were right on. Rufus is my new entree! Give the boy a kewpie doll!
Rufus, as corpulent and pale as a doughboy, betrayed by his own brain nearly every time he speaks, a classic end-of-the-liner sexually truncated early to ensure no future genetic influence ensues from his pud. There is some mighty fine eatin’ on this kinky acidic boy. So my decision has been made. I’ll have the Repugnant Eunuch marinated overnight in high glucose fructose pancake syrup and a slurry of seven of my favourite artificial sweeteners.
Besides providing me with a tasty treat, Rufus’ demise will solve so many problems, not just for others, but alas, also and mainly for Rufus. What! You don’t think problem solving is part of my job description? It’s right up there with culling the herd.
Wide shot of the gathering.
CANCER (VO) (CON’T)
Speaking of which, back when humans were feral, running wild and naked in the world, you were much harder for me to catch, much more of a challenge. However you abandoned personal health to expediency and ease which plays right into my game. No longer the hard bodies from the wild, humans are soft, vulnerable and acidic, in a word, civilized, making my job so much easier. Since you breed like rats, there are many more of you to feast upon these days. Plus your enabling ways make my job easy. In fact, too easy, which is why I must resort to extreme tactics like haunting birthday parties for special sustenance.
To reiterate, Rufus is my undeniable choice. It’s been a night of revelations so let’s review everyone’s secret.
Person to person around the table. PUCE MOMENT is sitting on Delma’s empty chair.
Let’s see…Puce Moment’s secret is she yearns to be poisonous. Evangeline’s secret is the aura trick on Dearie. Wayner has a choice of secrets: the open secret of his hapless forceps birth or, his new secret, that he arrived sporting a tail. One of Pappy’s secrets is he’s faking the ‘zheimer’s and most everything else these days, just for fun. Wilf has the recurring foreskin blues. Rufus has this unattractive family coal fetish. Geneva killed a peanut boy. Dearie has a backwards secret she doesn’t even know she has. Delma’s secret is the three testicle tattoos and why she has them. Where is she anyway? Oh…right. The last detail.
Gleaming white porcelain around the sink which is suddenly SPLOTCHED with lurid drops of yellow fluid, the same fluid that has poured from Delma’s mouth. Many drops besmirch the clean white sink; some have traces of red blood in them.
DELMA looks at her ravaged, dripping VISAGE in the mirror. Her blouse is dark with the wetness from the yellow fluid. She moves her right hand around in front of her face as if she is trying to see it. Her bangles jangle sharply in the tiled room.
DELMA falls. Making a loud slapping sound, in extreme CU, her face smacks down hard on the red tile, cancer side up. Her right ARM is pitched so the bangles jangle to a halt in front of her hair. Parts of her face POP AWAY spattering the floor toward the camera. DELMA BLINKS twice, smiles wanly.
DELMA closes her eyes. Her face settles into a hideous pile of infection and disease as her nose and other pieces fall off. The oozing flesh on the red tile PULSES ever so slightly. Five seconds later her wristwatch alarm sounds: three beeps and a steady tone which persists.
DELMA is dead.
Hold for a few more convincing seconds.
FADE TO BLACK
HOLD STEADY TONE FOR 10 SECONDS. FADE OUT TONE.
FADE IN FROM BLACK
SLOW PAN around the ruins of the party. Seemingly EVERYONE has deserted the room.
Study the TABLE which hasn’t been cleared so it is littered with grossness: vomit stains, wine stains, yellow cancer stains, miscellaneous cutlery and plates, food remnants, Delma’s roaches, tipped wine glasses, empty wine bottles.
Dearie’s BALLOON now hangs deflated from the back of her chair. PUCE MOMENT cautiously approaches the sagging balloon and bats it once with her paw.
We HEAR the SQUEAK of Pappy’s wheelchair. He wheels quickly toward the CAT who leaps away at the last moment, giving a blood-curdling yelp.
PAPPY laughs, STANDS up easily, pushes the wheelchair away with his foot and walks to the dimmer on the wall, turning down the intensity of the chandelier.
PAPPY stretches his arms and back, walks to the table, hands on his hips, ponders its ruins, settling on a half full bottle of red wine.
PAPPY grabs the bottle, takes a long swig as he walks toward EVANGELINE’S picture on the sideboard. He takes the picture and KISSES her face right on the lips.
Ahhh, you could fuck like a mink but you still kiss like a drugged sheep. Some things never change.
PAPPY replaces the picture, kicks back a chair, sits down and puts his feet up on another chair. He guzzles from the bottle, smiles happily, contentedly chuckling to himself.
PAPPY raises the bottle.
PAPPY chuckles and takes a long swig.
My Churches page features over three dozen lovely churches most in rural Manitoba. One exception stands in downtown Winnipeg. I hope it will inspire you to explore the page and discover our rich religious heritage.
Adding medieval charm to an ever-changing downtown corner, now with the Millennium Library, cityplace and the MTS Centre as its cornermates, stands Holy Trinity Anglican, a striking example of delicate High Victorian Gothic architecture. The third church on this site, construction was completed in 1884.
This limestone church’s design marked a new level of sophistication of design for Winnipeg. Architect Charles Wheeler created the plan right down to the coloured stained glass clerestory windows. Wheeler’s other buildings include Dalnavert and the first Dufferin School.
Holy Trinity’s many Gothic features enhance its medieval feeling with an enormous number of pinnacles, buttresses, gable ends, orbs and finials all intending to move your attention heavenward.
The church was designated a National Heritage Site in 1990.
The Old Way of Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic (And How To Get It Back) by architect Jonathan Hale clarified why some buildings appeal and seem to sing while others are disharmonious and ordinary. The secret is the Golden Section, the system most architects working before 1840 used to create human spaces, spaces that resonated with our bodies and spirits. I started to use Hale’s schematics on heritage buildings of all kinds to determine if the Golden Section was employed or not and discovered subtle and essential qualities that empathetic places all have. Published in 1994, the book is still available. Holy Trinity Anglican is a fine example of many of the capacities of the old way of seeing.
On my Sacred Places page there are 25 written and video reports of personal visits to sacred sites on the prairies. Rather than feature one site I suggest you scan the list and select one or two interest. The picture above is of Castle Butte. Additionally five essays explore aspects of the sacred as manifest in these sites. I am grateful to Ken Wilber for bringing his insight to some of my experiences. When visiting sacred sites it is beneficial to you and to the spirits if you practise safeguards.
My Houses page features 41 classic Manitoba homes in 21 communities. There are a few instances where prairie houses overlap with artistic vision creating an entirely new way of seeing the architecture and the land. Today I feature two such sites, both of which succumbed to fire for very different reasons.
The Criddle/Vane story is unique among prairie settlement. Eccentric Percy Criddle loaded his wife, mistress and nine children up and moved them from the finery of London to the bald Canadian landscape in 1882. Years of hardship ensued. Four more children were born on the homestead. The family had wide and varied interests – music, art, sports, astronomy, entomology – and pursued them all with vigor making the site a hotbed of artistic and scientific activity for decades. About 1900 Percy built a huge two story wooden house with eight bedrooms on the second floor. It stood for 115 years on what is now Criddle/Vane Provincial Park. Alas, arsonists set the old pile on fire in June 2014 and nothing remains of the structure. Luckily I had shot several videos of the houses. This report is a tour of the house’s interior. Four a more complete tour of the park check out this report.
As a succinct statement on the collapse of the family farm Saskatchewan artist Heather Benning created The Doll House in 2007. She modified a long abandoned wooden frame farm house on Highway #2 just east of the Saskatchewan border. This report provides detail on the project along with its destiny.
DickToolCo Art page offers detailed glimpses into the collaborative art Linda Tooley and I created between 1977 and 1983. Our approach was relentlessly genre-busting combining film, video, photography, environmental art, abstract, collage, mail art, performance art and on and on. Dozens of examples abound on the page.
For an example of our video art click the pic above to view Kangaroo Birth Cycle Coat, a commercial parody of furriers from 1981.
Many pages on my blog relate in some fashion to Manitoba’s rich built and cultural heritage. The MB Heritage page features seventeen sites including this classic. Who can resist an old red barn?
About 300 yards from the north boundary of Riding Mountain National Park, in a long-abandoned farm yard next to some tumbledown buildings, stands this beautiful old barn, striking a dominant pose against the backdrop of yellowed birch. Still retaining some of its red colouration – the traditional recipe for barn paint was cow’s blood, rust, lime, milk and linseed oil – and withstanding the northwesterlies with the help of a tall thick windbreak, the old place demonstrates classic massing and materials. The tiny and sparse windows meant a rather dark barn but they helped retain heat in winter. The barn tilts to the rear a little, the first sign of a future tumbledown.
I included this barn in a short video piece called Portals to the Past
As the page header says, I’ve already wasted my time making these, now it’s your turn. My Guff page collects 60 bizarre and unusual posts and videos I have created over the past five years. Words, found images and sounds are the sources. Many demonstrate my oft-dark, sometimes unreachable sense of humour, most are very short – perfect time wasters. I have picked two for inclusion today.
There are 51 day trips on my Day Tripper page, all in Manitoba, several that can be stretched to two or three days. Spruce Woods Provincial Park about 2 hours west of Winnipeg offers diverse experiences communing with nature in all seasons. More of a night trip my post called Gathering Moonlight at Spruce Woods Park reports on one of my many all-night hikes to Spirit Sands, this one on June 2012.
“The moon’s a harsh mistress, it’s hard to love her well,
The moon’s a harsh mistress, the sky is made of stone,
The moon’s a harsh mistress, she’s hard to call your own.”
– Jimmy Webb
These are the buttery days of a new ancient summer. In their fluttering perfection, butterflies dot the world. Their true colours range from solid black through red, orange, yellow to iridescent blues, always stoned on some intoxicating nectar or other. Dragonflies have started to appear; mosquitoes aren’t far behind. Such was the world I entered Monday when I checked into Yurt #4 at Spruce Woods Provincial Park for a two-day stay.
Ensconced on my deck facing WNW, the temperature around 28 degree C, I have found a little Eden. The late afternoon breeze plucks music from the oaks and cottonwoods along the Assiniboine River, which I can see shining below. A dozen kinds of birds twitter in the trees, their songs striving to capture the counterpoint of the afternoon. They are successful every moment.
A huge yellow butterfly with blue trimmed wings dances above my glass of wine. Unable to resist, it lands on the rim, sips delicately and does a backward somersault off the glass into its fluttery world. My plan is to await dusk then hike out on Spirit Sands to watch the full moon rise over the dunes.
The day is cooling perfectly as I head out to Spirit Sands about 9:30. The golden sky deepens to red then crimson then purple and darker as I surmount the log ladder up the dune face. Arriving at the place on the dunes Linda and I always visited, I hear voices among the trees below. The last of the humans are clearing off the trails. I am alone.
As I await moonrise, coyotes howl in the west and are answered by others in the east. The flies and mosquitoes find me extra attractive with my coating of sweat from the hike. As a slight evening breeze cools my skin, a pale glow on the northeastern horizon heralds the full moon. It swells into view bulbous and red, and I am filled with bliss and gratitude for this witnessing.
I spend an hour watching the night deepen and the moon whiten. Hiking back during the very last moments of twilight, the shadows are flecked with occasional fireflies. After decades of gathering moonlight, the long-fallen bodies of blown-down trees shine like silver. Standing armies of wolf willow glow eerily in the moonlight.
Back at my yurt I light a fire and watch the stars come out. Hundreds of fireflies flicker on and off in the trees around my yurtyard. Fireflies are a positive sign of a healthy habitat. Crickets and choruses of frogs, the small cries of night birds, crackle of the fire and rustle of the constellations harmonize around me.
After a long sound sleep I awoke Tuesday to another perfect day! I took a drive to the nearby Criddle/Vane homestead (blog post to follow), toured the area a bit, lunched at the Robin’s Nest in Carberry where I see the temperature to be even hotter tomorrow. The Robin’s Nest is a quaint little restaurant and motel along the TCH. I recommend it for its good country food, friendly staff and it’s now licensed.
Back at Yurt #4, the drone of a bumblebee intoxicates me in the heat. A red-headed woodpecker taps out a secret message on the trunk of a gnarly old oak. The park is still and quiet today with just the warbles and sighs of the denizens. The day wears away and night captures the land. Like stars, the fireflies are continuous tonight. Everywhere I look I see them, flitting through the treetops or winking shyly from the pitch-black understory. As I stand, a firefly zips by my face exploding like a tiny flashbulb.
Crickets and frogs keep time with the pulse of the night and, later, dozens of coyotes in all directions create an exhilarating aural experience making it sound like the whole world is composed of nothing but coyotes and their haunting theories. Another thoroughly restful sleep ensues.
Crews continue working to bring Spruce Woods Park up to its standard before last summer’s flood. Today as I was pulling out I noticed the road to Spirit Sands was cut and a large culvert was being inserted under the road. The ditch along the highway is being worked to remove some of the flood cake that still coats parts of the park. Daily horse-drawn covered wagon rides to the dunes and punch bowl begin in July and summer nature programs are scheduled. So whether you are gathering sunlight or moonlight, the park’s numerous trails await your hiking boots and your curiosity. (Take water. Do a tick check.)
Two other things to mention about Spruce Woods:
The fiction I have written has tended toward short stories, due in part to there being a better likelihood I will know when the story is finished; anything larger attracts doubt, difficulty and potential for dangling dénouements. That said I recently finished, yes actually finished, a novel of several hundred pages and proportions. Writing Play the Jukebox (it’s fourth and final working title) was among my life’s most rewarding experiences. Getting lost in the lives of dozens of fresh beings for eighteen months then coming out the other side covered up in aces I am confident the thing is finished. I look forward to my editor’s comments and my responses to them. Writing Play the Jukebox (it’s fourth and final working title) was among my life’s most rewarding experiences. Getting lost in the lives of dozens of fresh beings for eighteen months then coming out the other side covered up in aces is hard to diminish.
There are two dozen short stories on my Fiction page. In Panic Don’t Panic I take you right down to the concrete on the streets of Winnipeg and introduce some of its denizens.
A steamy prairie wind blows in from the west, the city swelters, the garbage blows up and down Graham Avenue. Come Soon Summer does a finger check because the wind told her to. She curls her fingers toward her and counts. One two three four five. One two three four five. Yup, all there, even the one with the dirty plastic band-aid on it. Someday she will look under the band-aid and see what is there but not today.
She knows the finger stealer is nearby. Perhaps it’s the white man who thinks he’s cool in wrap sunglasses. Maybe it’s the old black lady with the thick glasses and the polka dot shopping bag. Or it’s the tiny drooling googly-eyed baby in the huge plastic carriage, or its mother, the thin distracted woman sipping a take-out coffee through a straw as she navigates the giant tram through sidewalk traffic, picking away at some black thing in her hand, the plugs in her ears telling her how to be in the world and what to do. Whoever it is, there is danger.
Come Soon Summer hears all about the danger from the wind through the elm saplings along the sidewalk, the whish of the bus tires on hot cement and the chattering in her head. There is danger. One two three four five. One two three four five.
When she remembers where she lives, Come Soon Summer can always go home, back to the little boxy house in the bush by the little stream that drowned somebody every summer for twenty five years but never drowned Come Soon Summer, not even once. In the house she sees her half-brothers Ilis and Orlis feet up watching some game on TV, eating zesty chips from crackling bags and bubbling water from plastic bottles. She sees first their feet then their legs being removed by the diabetes and she sees the spinning spokes of their wheelchairs create fluttering birds in the late afternoon sun. She spirals into the flickering light, her fetch overshadows her ghee. She doesn’t understand her thoughts.
Come Soon Summer finds a piece of thick blue chalk on the sidewalk. It is a finger, she thinks, someone has lost a finger. She counts her own fingers. One, two, three, four, five. One two three four five. All there.
She picks up the chalk, which has fallen out of a girl’s bag as she ran from the library to the waiting family car. Is the library on fire? Come Soon Summer asks herself again and again until she can’t remember the question anymore. That’s how she likes it, when she can’t remember the question anymore. She is holding chalk with all her fingers. That’s all. That’s all she knows, needs to know.
She remembers she can write. She can’t think of anything she needs to write or even wants to write. Come Soon Summer has no words. She stands weeping wordlessly as the library door swooshes open and closed.
She remembers the only two words any of us really need to know. They come rushing at her, toward her and she captures each one before it gets lost inside the word zoo building. Together the two words squeeze out small music in her mind.
The blue chalk is becoming moist and crumbly in Come Soon Summer’s hand. She now knows she needs to write and she knows what she needs to write. She kneels and applies the blue chalk to the red brick sidewalk in front of the library. A wad of gum sticks to the chalk. She flicks it away and feels the chalk expressing her command beneath her hand. She feels powerful. Her words appear large and blue.
Slouched against the stone building Come Soon Summer watches as library patrons walking in and out scuff her words away, her important message, her blue lines disperse like clouds in a red brick sky, vaguely tinting the soles of boots and shoes that later at home cats will sniff and sneeze from the blue dust of her chalk.
Come Soon Summer sneezes just as a woman in office clothes bends toward her offering her a loonie. Come Soon Summer takes the metal thing and smiles widely at the woman, revealing her blackened and broken teeth and the dark gums that still keep some of them in place. Come Soon Summer looks at the metal thing in her palm and suddenly lets out a yelp that startles a library patron who is chaining up his bike at the rack. One of her fingers is gone! Another yelp! Gone! One of her very own fingers! Counting one, two, three, four… only four, one gone! She curls her fingers toward her and counts again. “One two three four…” Still one short! Panic, Don’t Panic, Panic, Don’t Panic!
Something else is going on.
Come Soon Summer looks across Graham Avenue into the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church where men are shouting and hooting. Coming on the run around the side of the church is a barefoot young Cree man pursued by four slightly older native men, all of them high as kites on whatever they managed to steal from Canadian Tire that day. The boy runs through the iron gates into the traffic on Donald Street barely dodging cars. Traffic clears and his pursuers easily catch him on the sidewalk beside MTS Centre. They strip off his torn t-shirt and hold him as they take his jeans and run across Donald waving his clothing victoriously in the air. They stand across the street, pointing at his nakedness and shame, their laughter sounds like coyotes.
The naked man’s name is Shaq, actually Shaquille. Short on heroic role models of their own, Shaq’s young Cree parents named him after a black American basketball player due to cross-cultural empathy between downed natives and suppressed American blacks. Shaq is not seven foot one, he’s five foot ten. His smooth young body carries two souvenirs. Along his right side above his waist is a foot-long scar, still red from a knife attack by his drunken sister three months previous. Shaq almost bled to death that time. A sharp indentation on his right shoulder reminds him of the bullet that he caught on Alfred Avenue in the North End when he was eleven. Friendly fire, the cops called it.
On the sidewalk next to MTS Centre, Shaq quakes in anger, his head and long black hair shake as he clenches his fists by his side. Throwing back his head, he lets out an enormous existential wail of angst that echoes back and forth between the old church and the brick and glass boogie room. As he wails, his arms and clenched hands rise skyward, fists shaking over his head. His prolonged, resounding howl sounds like Wolf.
Naked and howling Shaq feels perfectly alone. He reaches inward and draws out his power animal fully, becoming Wolf on the sidewalk next to MTS Centre, powerful, brave. He howls again and again, each more desolate, more authentic than the last. He looks down at his naked body and howls again, this time tinged with a little laughter but ever Wolf. He throws his fists open and claws flex out of his fingertips. He leaves scratches on the afternoon sky.
His tormentors, though still curious what he will do next, lose interest in the game and throw his t-shirt and jeans onto Donald Street. Shaq watches as cars run over his clothing again and again. Clothing seems so irrelevant now, so unnecessary, so imperfect. I am perfect, Shaq thinks. When the traffic clears, he walks into the street, retrieves his wardrobe and dresses in the middle of Donald Street while drivers honk around him. Smiling and baring his teeth, he gives each one a fond finger.
At the same time as Shaq is naked and howling, behind him and proceeding along the sidewalk next to MTS Centre Come Soon Summer sees an orderly double line of poisonous mushrooms, orange bobbing mushrooms, the most dangerous kind!
In fact, they are not poisonous mushrooms, or even mushrooms. They are the Grade Two class from Our Lady of In Spite of Ourselves Catholic School – all twenty two of them, each wearing a neon orange hat for easy spotting during disasters – under the management and advisement of two obese diabetic women who are not their teachers but teacher’s assistants assigned the dirty job of tending the small flock through the maze of downtown, treacherous filthy downtown with its lurid crime, lack of predictability and unbenign deaths as seen on TVs in Squash Squander Heights and other suburbs surrounding Winnipeg. The women and their entourage are headed toward the Millennium Library for Storybook Time with Gerty Glucosemeter.
Both Eleanor Fecunder and Sessious Pindrover, minders of the little herd and both mothers though not of any of the children in their tow, are wearing similar toxic orange hats. The children have been trained to look for “the lighthouse of an orange hat if they are feeling lost.” As a result, child snatchers now, as a rule, have a neon orange hat in their glove box. Neither Eleanor nor Sessious know this or even care. They just want to get the herd to the gee dee library without any of them being flattened by a bus.
Sessious, leading the line, is the first to notice the commotion of the Indian boys. Her heart rate jumps thirty beats a minute, her eyes widen and her pupils dilate in a strange reaction to the anti-depressants she gobbles daily. She sees the naked man, turns toward the children and screams at the top of her lungs, “STOP!”
Bumpily, all the children stop, most are frightened, some start to cry. Eleanor, riding shotgun at the rear, finally sees naked Shaq and yells at the top of her lungs, “RUN!!” Confused, the children start to run past Sessious and Shaq. All of them turn to look at Shaq. Waiting for the light at the end of the block, some children still cry, others, curiosity enflamed, stare big-eyed at the man howling on the sidewalk. Storybook Time with Gerty Glucosemeter turns out to be rather anti-climatic. All the mushrooms make it through the ordeal, none squashed, all home safe and sound.
That evening, around the dinner table in the Bubbler household on Pillsbury Crescent Roll Crescent in Plunging Plover Plateau, Dad (Blair) asks his seven-year-old Son (Seth) what he learned in school today.
“I saw a wolf.”
Dad (Blair) is surprised. “You saw a wolf? Really? Where did you see a wolf, son?”
“Downtown, when we went to the lyberry, there was a wolf howling on the sidewalk. He had no clothes on.”
Dad (Blair) smiles at his son’s active imagination.
Raised in rural Manitoba I developed an early appreciation of birds evidenced by the complete collection of Red Rose Tea Bird Cards on this page. My travels on the prairies including several unexpected birds. Find them all my Birdland page.
CEDAR WAXWINGS IN BRANDON
It was a strange April day in Manitoba: temperatures around 30 degrees C and clear blue skies all weekend long. I was staying with my cousin, Duncan, in the east end of Brandon. On the day I arrived, Duncan pointed out an ornamental cherry tree in his neighbour’s backyard that was loaded with shriveled red cherries. Unfit for human consumption, the cherries are a delicacy of certain birds that, according to Duncan, each spring swarm the tree and feast on the cherries, now sweetened by winter’s freezing and thawing.
The next morning, as if induced by my cousin’s comment, the tree was alive with cedar waxwings. Famished from their long migration, the waxwings cover the tree and the ground below, ravenously eating the cherries. A flock of birds flies up from the ground into the branches and the ones from the tree swarm to the ground, excited birds, appetites whetted, blissful on a hot strange spring day.
The air was vibrating with the shrill keening of the waxwings. Several large still-bare nearby trees were decorated with more cedar waxwings waiting to feed, hundreds of birds in all. Flock after flock dined at the cherry tree.
Several curious species – robins, blue jays and starlings – arrived to see what all the commotion was about. These birds prefer feeders and worms to cherries but waxwing enthusiasm was contagious. The feeding frenzy went on most of the morning then the flock was gone, the air still, quiet, hot.
In a few weeks, the cherry tree will be smothered in tiny white and pink blossoms that perfume the air with a sweet smell. By then subsequent flocks will have stripped all the cherries from the tree.
Cedar waxwings have the ability to digest a variety of berries, some of which are poisonous to humans. Gorging themselves for hours, waxwings have been known to get a little drunk if the berries have fermented.
A sleek, beautiful creature, cedar waxwings are strikingly identifiable: the brown topnotch crest and breast with grey wings and tail, the yellow wash over the belly, the dark eye mask and throat marking, the yellow tail tip and the distinctive waxy red drops on the wings which give the birds their name. The females are somewhat plainer. Cedar waxwings are one of the few birds whose numbers are increasing in North America.
Coniferous trees are favoured places to build their deep nests. Chicks are born late to ensure a supply of berries and bugs for their growth. I remember seeing waxwings as a kid in western Manitoba. Apparently they abound in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg but I haven’t seen one in our neighbourhood for years. The last time I saw one was a few years ago at Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan. I was camping next to the bird sanctuary and saw a nesting pair.
What a hopeful sign it was to see a huge flock of excited birds so eager to fulfill their biological imperative. I had begun to wonder if there were large flocks of any birds remaining. It was good to see an old friend return with such vigor.
The six Frequently Asked Questions on my blog all deal with some aspect of my personal spiritual practise – shamanism.
What is shamanism?
Personally, shamanism provides a method for me to experience life beyond the rational mind and its limitations. Ever since I was a young child I knew there was a place where imagination began, where great powers and incredible beings existed to help us and heal us. I spent forty years trying to find a way to get there. In 1994, I discovered a little book called The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. He laid out the core elements of shamanism as it had been practiced for over 50,000 years, adapted the techniques and technology for modern people and, suddenly, I had access to the spirit world. I had found my way!
Using a sonic driver, in my case drumming on CD, the daily mind is distracted. Then, having access to that mythical 90% of the brain we don’t use, the psychic and subtle worlds are revealed. I enter these worlds with powerful intent behind each of my journeys there. Intent, while a good list filler in ordinary reality, in non-ordinary reality becomes an enormously powerful tool. The shaman’s work is to apply the intent and watch for the intentional and unintentional to occur and discern their meanings. Power animals and spirit helpers act as guides, protectors, companions and teachers. More often than not, my clarity results from their explanations of events.
Mircea Eliade, the historian and philosopher who wrote the seminal work on the topic called Shamanism, subtitled it Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. What the shaman knows that few others know is the secret of the trance, which is: the trance plus intent opens access to the scene of freedom, to the source of creativity and to sheer ecstasy, all achieved simply, safely and without drugs. Ecstasy is a major factor in all the reports in this series. I spend a lot of time there.
You find my FAQ page here.
This year’s 12 Days of Christmas will feature one daily post from 12 of readreidread’s best pages. This will show the diversity of my blog content while revealing the range of my personal interests and some of the blisses I have followed in my life. The pages are all listed above my home page header picture. I begin with an excerpt from one of my favourite and most satisfying projects – The Lonesomes.
The 16 stories that comprise The Lonesomes offer life and death at play on the open prairie. Change is chronicled in personal events, measured by lifetimes. The stories tell of the desperate births of people, towns and ideas, of mystery, trickery, love, revenge and bizarre deaths, glimpses of the human condition that resonate deeply with people everywhere, city and country, town and farm.
To watch the Old Friends segment – about 4 minutes – click here.
Watch The Lonesomes in its entirety – about 45 minutes – by clicking the picture at the top of this post. rewind to zero as video starts a few minutes into it.
Feedback always welcome.
Regular readers of my blog know I am enthralled with the rich heritage of Carberry. Over the last two years I’ve worked on creating a comprehensive walking tour guide of the the town. This was one of the recommendations of the provincial heritage branch when they designated two blocks of the town’s Main Street as Manitoba’s first (and still only) Heritage District on June 12, 2007. It’s been a labour of love that I’ve enjoyed thoroughly especially since the result is a beautiful book.
I lost track of how often I visited Carberry doing research on the book. I was aided by many people in town. Val Andrey at the archives answered my many questions and provided archival photographs, Kelly Garnett at the museum found pictures for me and Cathy Drayson, president of the Carberry Heritage Festival, was the mover and shaker who raised enough funds to have the book printed. Here’s a sample page. Click to enlarge.
The result is a high quality 56 page book that features articles and pictures of 45 Carberry heritage sites including the 28 designated buildings on Main Street as well as houses, churches and a few phantom buildings that no longer exist. Along with vivid descriptions, the book contains 86 pictures, most in colour, some archival, a numbered map of the walking tour through town plus interesting facts about Carberry and its history.
As well as promoting Carberry’s wealth of built heritage which is unique in Manitoba and rare on the prairies, the book is a fundraiser. All proceeds from the sale of the book are shared equally by four local heritage organizations: Carberry Plains Museum, Carberry Plains Archives, The Seton Centre and Carberry Heritage Festival. The book costs $10 Can.
Once the book was researched, written and designed, raising money for printing it was the next step. Cathy Drayson deserves kudos for her efforts in this regard. I raised $250 from Westoba Credit Union, the Chamber of Commerce chipped in a substantial amount but it was Cathy who raised the lion’s share, approaching local businesses and individuals for donations and selling nine ads in the book. Without her there would be no book. Thank you Cathy!
Through Carberry News-Express 500 copies of the book were printed by Derksen Printers in Steinbach and came out two days before the 2015 heritage festival. We sold 65 copies at the festival and sales continue to be brisk. The printing job is exceptional and I’m grateful to Derksen for their professionalism and cordiality. This is another sample page. Click to enlarge.
The format of the book – 8.5 by 11 landscape folded horizontally – allows the tour to be walked or driven and it is very pocket and purse friendly making it easy to mail. It’s a great gift for heritage buffs everywhere (think Christmas), for current and former residents of Carberry and area, for birthdays and anniversaries, graduations and visiting friends and family. The book is an effective local promotion and marketing tool for Carberry councils, organizations and businesses, too. It demonstrates pride in the past, honouring those who built the town and farmed the land.
Visiting Carberry and area is a fascinating Manitoba day trip. Hidden in plain view next to the Trans-Canada Highway, Carberry is about 90 minutes west of Winnipeg and 30 minutes east of Brandon. My tour guide enriches the experience even further and has broad appeal to those with an interest in Manitoba history.
If you live in the Carberry area, the book can be purchased for $10 at the Carberry/North Cypress Library, 115 Main Street, Carberry Plains Archives, 122 Main Street. I will be signing copies of the book at the One-Stop Shop on Friday November 6 at the Carberry Community Hall. It will also be available at the Craft and Home-Based Business Show on Saturday, November 28 at the Carberry Community Hall. My readers can order it directly from me by emailing email@example.com. There is a postage fee of $3 per book in Canada (slightly higher elsewhere) in addition to the $10 price.
Although I still travel widely in Manitoba on the look out for heritage stories I have found enormous personal satisfaction focusing my efforts on Carberry. I feel I’m made a valuable and lasting contribution to the town, that I have made a difference which was my intent. Thank you to the wonderful people of Carberry for their support and understanding.
A couple of years ago when he turned 80, iconic country and western singer/songwriter Willie Nelson waxed poetic about his feelings at this turning point in his life by sharing a short poem he called I’ve Outlived My Dick.
My nookie days are over,
My pilot light is out.
What used to be my pride and joy
Is now my water spout.
Time was when, on its own accord,
From my trousers it would spring.
But now I’ve got a full time job
To find the friggin thing.
It used to be embarrassing,
How it would behave.
For every single morning
It would stand and watch me shave.
Now as old age approaches
It sure gives me the blues
To see it hang its little head
And watch me tie my shoes!