interbirthbooks
handbound volumes of poetry, prose, and prints


CHARACTERS

LANCE: 50s, virile and lazy but contemplative. Wears "city guy gone desert" attire.

CARL: late 20s/early 30s, dressed in designer clothes but doesn't have the confidence or sophistication to back it up. He has a nervous energy he's learned to disguise, and is uncomfortable in a desert environment.
RENEE: getting older and is angry about it. Pretty with a girlish bitchiness. Wears shorts, a top and wedgies.

Time/Place: Present; a small house with a feeble yard in the ongoing suburban sprawl just outside of the Mojave Desert.

                    (LANCE and CARL sit in yard chairs, with beers. RENEE enters at some point and stands
                     nearby, hoping to attract their attention.
)

LANCE
          You know when you try to hook up with a woman, there's always something wrong.
          She has the softest skin you've ever fucking felt, but can't cook. I mean, can't even
          boil water. Or, she doesn't care how much money you make but has bad breath, like
          she's been buried alive for a week or something, and had to walk the few miles to
          get to you. It's never perfect. But we can't seem to give up the idea of that, finding the
          perfect woman. Why do you think that is? In the city, you can take them downtown to
          those creepy little Korean karaoke bars. Then to look at the skyscrapers. That's
          something I miss. The metallic violence of the architecture.

                   
(pause)
          You may meet a woman that's toothless. Or she may believe in Chupacabras. But
          she can suck you nasty and dry. I'm really torn. I love my house. I threw away my TV.
          Shit, you should have seen my those first few weeks. I became so bored, I went
          insane. At some point I was screwing everything in the house. Go to the Circle K on
          Sage and Walnut and you won't find any large loaves of Wonder Bread sitting
          around there anymore. No Siree. But then. Well, I never thought sitting in my yard
          would be enough, you know? I mean, look at this. It's mine.


CARL

          Yeah, but it's in Mojave.

LANCE
          The sky is so clear and black. There's so many stars I'm starting to dream about
          other life forms. Crawling out of the floorboards. Touching me.

                    (pause)
          Gliding over planets. The elegant silence of space . . .

CARL
          Look, I thought you were talking about alleys?!


LANCE
          Oh yeah, I had to get to Santa Monica from Los Feliz.

RENEE
          I hate Los Feliz. I got priced out of there faster than an earthworm dries up out here.

CARL
         
That's weird. There's no earthworms here?

RENEE
          
That's not exactly what I said Carl, now is it?

LANCE
         
I got in my car, and for a few miles was able to drive only through alleys. I saw
          people, barely surviving. A piece of lipstick with a nail through it and ants crawling all
          over. I saw a cat biting a child's throat. In LA, you're always driving, but in alleys you
          can't go fast, so you see more.

RENEE
          Did you even stop to save the child?

LANCE
         
Well, it's weird. I think I did. I can remember strangling a cat in an alley because it
          was a bad cat with bad inclinations. But actually, I might have wished it happened,
          so I made it up and convinced myself that it was a memory. What's really weird is I
          didn't do this consciously. Some part of my brain made this decision and acted
          accordingly.


RENEE
         
When you talk, I tune out. Nobody knows what you're talking about. And I'm the best
          judge of that. I live with you.


LANCE
         
No you don't.

RENEE
          Well maybe not, but nobody knows what you're talking about. And I bet you don't
          care. Because you're a narcissist.

LANCE
          It's true. I like to fantasize about myself in various situations. Saving people, getting
          awards. And when I was younger, everything turned me on. Things you wouldn't
          understand.
                    (pause)
          I can still always have sex if I want it. You know that gym around the corner? In the
          steam room, just about anything can happen.

CARL
          Yeah?

RENEE
          Look Carl, don't do us any favors by your visit here. We hung out with you in LA and
          now you're here and it's all the same. You're not thinking of moving out here, are
          you?!
                    (takes a step, looks out)
          Sometimes there's a whole day when I don't see a car. And then, you can see them
          in the distance. Headlights, way down the road. Can't anyone afford a house in LA
          anymore? Since I started doing graphic design, I can be anywhere. I used to hear
          people brag about that—I can work from home, or a beach in Hawaii! But work is
          work. I'm home in a sari with my bush hanging out, trying to make a stupid deadline
          for some cockbrain and his ad. Nothing of me is in my work . . . and you!
                    (to CARL)
          You've got a trust fund! Secret money that you won't admit to! And what do you do?
          You don't have to work. Do you know how much I'd get done if I didn't have to work?
          I'd have time for my blog. I'd drum up an interest in Feminism out here. Maybe I'd
          even start a coven. But I hate all that female "running with the wolves" shit. The truth
          is, every girlfriend I've ever had was cuter and thinner than me. I hated them all and
          secretly wished car accidents on every one of them. But you'd never know it. I can't
          tell you how many times I was a smiling fucking bridesmaid.
                   
(exits)

LANCE
          Listen, I haven't been to the market since I moved out here.

CARL

          Yeah?

                    (fiddles with his cellphone in an attempt to establish reception)

                    (RENEE creeps back out)

LANCE

          I've been killing things. And I'm good at it.

RENEE
          Yeah, I go visit my mom and she says, Why are you so skinny? You try eating a
          prairie dog, I told her. And I don't care what it's been marinated in.
                    (scared)

          Hey, how long does it take to starve to death?

CARL

          About a month. Because . . . Wait, you know about me right? Sometimes I stop
          eating. Just to see what will happen. I've been hospitalized twice. But it's not
          because I don't like myself. You should see all the expensive skin care products I
          have at home. A person who hated themselves wouldn't buy those. And I take
          vitamins. See this bag?

                    (pulls out an empty bag)

           It used to be full of vitamins, but I ate them. People call me and invite me to things.
           Hey Carl, come hang out they say. It's not a party until you arrive. And then gradually
           they start asking for favors. Do you want to invest in this? Can I borrow some
           money? I'll pay you back . . . I know none of them are my friends, but LA is great! I
           can't complain. I can walk to Patina from my house. The one in Hollywood, not the
           Valley. And it's like I died and went to Heaven. There's always women there, horny
           and beautiful. Clustered over one appetizer. They can't afford anymore. A plate of
           Jalapeño poppers is about forty bucks there, but that's because it's made from
           three cheeses, and one is aged twenty years in France. I go there, sit at the bar.
           The staff all know me. They let me order things that aren't on the menu, like Elk
           burgers. The women I meet, hot vegans, thin little wisps. They sit across from me,
           picking at their roasted beet salad. They carefully put all the candied pecans and
           blue cheese in a pile. They pretend they don't want a bite, but they do. When they
           think I'm looking at their tits or whatever, I see their eyes dart to my plate of food and
           stay there. I'll get you an order of truffle fries I say, but they say no. After dessert, a
           caramel mousse with some berries and crème fraîche or whatever, I take
           them back to my house. I've got a deck that overlooks the whole city, and I wouldn't
           mind sitting out there. Talking . . . but they just want to fuck. They act like they want it
           all night, like I'm the best lay ever. One wanted me to keep sticking things up her
           ass. I said I didn't really want to do that, but she insisted, and at one point I had my
           Braun Sterling juicer—you know the one that looks like a landed alien ship?—right
           on up there. She kept moaning like she liked it, but I saw her face in the mirror, and
           she was crying. We don't have to do this . . .

                    (pause)

           They just want to be with someone who has money. I could be anybody. A few days
           later I ran into that same woman at Urth Café, the one on Melrose, not Beverly Hills.
           That's the better one. I said Hi, but she didn't remember me at all. I mean, she had

           no clue, and then she got bitchy. We're all screwing each other, but no one

           remembers a face . . . When she saw my Hermes tennis shoes and that I was

           buying a couple pounds of their new gorillas in the mist blend—it's made from a

           rain forest that's almost gone or something, and it's really expensive—she got all

           sweet and rubbed her tits on me. But . . .
                     (to RENEE)
           I mean, you followed him to the Mojave, so you must love him. Right? I mean, I'm just
           curious. What's it like to have someone love you?

RENEE
          Jesus, Carl.

CARL
          I just want to know what it's like.

RENEE
          I don't know.
                     (pause)
          It's like . . . a spell. It's wonderful. And then it ends, and the person that was
          everything to you becomes nothing. And then you have photographs.

LANCE
          I'll tell you. I once saw bodies with the blood drained out of them. All on a sofa bed, in
          Sherman Oaks. I don't miss Los Angeles.

 

CARL

          I don't want to be single anymore.

RENEE
                    (takes a step, looks out)
          More cars are coming now. They're all flooding the desert from LA.

CARL
          Hey, thanks for inviting me out here. I've never seen a comet before. What does it
          look like?

RENEE

                    (looks up and keeps her eyes there)

          I don't know what the big deal is.

                    (LANCE and CARL also look up)

CARL
          Is that it? What is a comet?

RENEE
          Jesus, Carl.

LANCE
          It's from another part of the universe, probably a parallel one.

CARL
          Wow. What's it made of?

LANCE
          Ice.

CARL
          Ice?

LANCE
          And rocks.

CARL
          Ice and rocks?

LANCE
          Yeah. Ice and rocks.

                    (the end)