online since 1998
audio     library     gallery     cozmikast     contact     home  
David Levin, Angela Toomsen, Andrea Stoner, and Joye Cook Catastrophic Love Puzzles in Outer Space
by Scott O. Moore

CHARACTERS
Melody, early twenties
Laurel, early twenties
Mrs. Wormwood, late thirties
Cohen, late thirties

The play was first produced in the Theatre UNI Studio Series, February 24-26, 1994, Cedar Falls, Iowa, with the following cast:

Melody. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Andrea Stoner
Laurel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Joye Cook
Mrs. Wormwood . . . . . . . . . . .Angela Leigh Toomsen
Cohen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .David Levin

Directed by Scott O. Moore; Lighting Designer, Jeremy P. Kisling; Costume and Makeup Designer, Sonia D. Walsh; Set and Sound Designer, Scott O. Moore; Props and SFX Design, Jason Lees; Original Music composed by Jeff Young and Todd Munnik; Stage Manager, David Garver.

The play was first professionally produced by the Andromeda Group, October 21-November 5, 1994, Chicago, with the following cast:

Melody. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Eve Moennig
Laurel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Kristie Hassinger
Mrs. Wormwood . . . . . . . . . . .Sarah Weaver
Cohen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .David Levin

Directed and Designed by Scott O. Moore; Props Master, Deborah Siegel; SFX Design, Jason Lees; Original Music composed by Jeff Young and Todd Munnik; Stage Manager, Joe Osheroff.
Scene One

(Setting: MELODY and LAUREL in their living room.  From the time the house
opens, they are in place, sitting together on a couch CS, blankets draped
across their laps, each holding and occasionally sipping from a glass of
wine.  There is a coffee table in front of the couch, upon which rests
several magazines, an empty wine bottle, a mostly full wine bottle, ashtrays,
etc.  The front door is SR.  Light, evil jazz plays in the background.  For
the half hour or so before the show begins, they are silent, not touching,
staring forward and occasionally sipping a bit of wine.

Lights dim.  Jazz fades, so that we hear only the drums.  MELODY and LAUREL
have their eyes closed now.)

        LAUREL
Can you see anything yet?

        MELODY
It's all just a blur.

        LAUREL
You need to focus.

        MELODY
I know that.

        LAUREL
Try harder.

        MELODY
I'm having a problem with shapes.

        LAUREL
What do you mean?

        MELODY
I can't find any.

        LAUREL
You need to create them.  Force them into focus.

        MELODY
That's very easy to say.

        LAUREL
It's kind of a Zen thing.

        MELODY
Don't be flippant.

        LAUREL
I've already got the entire living room.

        MELODY
And don't brag.  You've been doing this longer than I have.

        LAUREL
No excuse.  You have natural talent.

        MELODY
I also have you riding my back.

        LAUREL
You'd have no fun without me, admit it.

        MELODY
I haven't decided that this *is* fun.

        LAUREL
You don't know fun when you see it.

        MELODY
I can't see *anything* right now.

        LAUREL
Not even the couch?  What about the couch?

        MELODY
What *about* the couch?

        LAUREL
Start with the couch.  It's a central location.

        MELODY
I can feel the couch... I can feel the whole room, it just...

        LAUREL
How does it feel?

        MELODY
What do you mean, how does it feel?

        LAUREL
How does it feel?  Concentrate, Melody.

        MELODY
It feels like a couch, Laurel.  What do you want from me?

        LAUREL
The couch has a certain feeling, emanates a certain radiation...

        MELODY
I don't know if I'd say *that*...

        LAUREL
Trust me, Melody.

        MELODY
Laurel, what if it's not so cut and dried?  The way I feel the couch may be
totally unrelated to the way you feel the couch.  Feelings are too subjective
to quantify in this context.

        LAUREL
I'm not interested in vocabulary.

        MELODY
Everything is swirling.

        LAUREL
What's "everything"?

        MELODY
All the... all the "things" that I feel.

        LAUREL
They're swirling?

        MELODY
Yes.

        LAUREL
Are you frightened?

        MELODY
Yes.

        LAUREL
What frightens you?

        MELODY
Chaos frightens me.

        LAUREL
Can you feel the couch in all of that swirling?

        MELODY
Yes, but...

(Pause.)

        LAUREL
Too much information?

        MELODY
No, not that... it's... the boundaries.  The boundaries blur.  They run
together.  No distinctions.  The couch, the walls, the floor, they bleed into
each other, swirling, a jumbled mass, whirling and churning, and it... the
swirling threatens me.

        LAUREL
What if you dived in?

        MELODY
I couldn't.

        LAUREL
What if you went in, looking for the couch?

        MELODY
I... but how would I come back?

        LAUREL
If things get rough, you can always open your eyes.

        MELODY
But the experiment... the experience...

        LAUREL
Be playful, Melody.  What if the chaos welcomed you?

        MELODY
I don't understand.

        LAUREL
Look for the couch, Melody.  Dive in to where you feel it.  Find its
boundaries.  Visualize.  Perpetuate an illusion.  For heaven's sake, Melody,
use your imagination.

        MELODY
But that's so simple.

        LAUREL
Do you see it?

        MELODY
I see it.  (smiles)  I see the couch.  Ha!  There it is, Laurel.  I can see
the couch now.

        LAUREL
        (growing excited)
Can you see me?

        MELODY
        (thrilled)
Yes!  Laurel, yes, yes, I see you sitting on the couch, next to me!  You're
right next to me!

        LAUREL
Play some music, Melody.

        MELODY
Music!

(A beautiful, rousing waltz begins playing loudly.)

        MELODY
Can we dance yet?

        LAUREL
What about the room?

        MELODY
I can see the entire room!  You, me, the walls, the couch... it's all here,
just like in real life!

        LAUREL
Shall we open our eyes?

        MELODY
This is fucking incredible, Laurel.  We've been trying for so long.  How did
you get so good at this?

        LAUREL
I'm going to count to three, and then we open our eyes.  All right?

        MELODY
Holy shit, Laurel.  This is incredible.

        LAUREL
One... two... three.

(MELODY and LAUREL open their eyes.  Lights slowly rise.  They cautiously
glance at each other.)

        MELODY
How do I look?

        LAUREL
You look wonderful.

        MELODY
        (leaps off the couch)
Holy shit, Laurel, look at this place!  It's our living room!  It looks just
like our fucking living room!  Can you believe this?

        LAUREL
Of course I can.

        MELODY
What the hell did we just do to ourselves, Laurel?  My God, we're dreaming
together... we're in the same dream!  What does that say about us, huh?  What
does that say about our brains?  Maybe I'm not as fucked up as I thought I was.

        LAUREL
Or maybe you're *more* fucked up than you thought you were.

        MELODY
Yeah, could be.  I guess brains are tricky that way.

        LAUREL
Well, the hard part's over anyway.

        MELODY
What do you mean?  We still have to wake up, don't we?

        LAUREL
That happens naturally.

        MELODY
I feel... I mean, we can fly if we want to, can't we?

        LAUREL
I don't know.  I've never tried.

        MELODY
You've been doing this for how long and you've never tried to fly?  That's
what dreams are for!

        LAUREL
Not this kind of dream.

        MELODY
Huh?

        LAUREL
Don't you feel it, Melody?  The air here... it's different.

(MELODY pauses, looks around a bit.)

        LAUREL
It's like reality, only... it's a couple of steps to the left.  (pause)
This place has its own rules.  I haven't quite figured them all out yet, but
I know they're there.  That's why I brought you here.

        MELODY
        (slowly)
What kind of rules?

        LAUREL
Desperate ones.  It's, uh... (laughs uneasily) Touch something, Melody.

        MELODY
Touch what.

        LAUREL
Anything.  The door.  Touch the door.

(MELODY places her palm flat against the door.)

        LAUREL
It looks like a door, but it sure doesn't feel like a door, does it.  Feels
like hundreds and thousands of tiny heartbeats, compressed into a solid.  You
and me, we feel like that too.  Get in touch with your body, Melody.

(MELODY's hand drops away from the door.  She turns to face LAUREL.)

        LAUREL
How does your skin feel?

        MELODY
        (pause)
It feels like I'm sharing it.

        LAUREL
Exactly.  Wherever this place actually is... we're not alone here, Melody.
We're not alone.

(Long pause.)

        MELODY
I think we should wake up.  I need to think about this some more.

(Blackout)
 

Scene Two

(Riot sounds come up softly in the background.  Lights up on MELODY and
LAUREL, once again on the couch together.  Long pause.)

        LAUREL
Do you feel like things are moving slower than normal?

        MELODY
Pardon me?

        LAUREL
I'm in kind of a funk.

        LAUREL
        (abruptly)
I don't want to talk about it.

(LAUREL leans over and kisses MELODY quickly and passionately, as if to change
the subject.  Then, just as quickly, the embrace ends.  Long pause.  MELODY
rises, goes to the imaginary window, looks outside.)

        MELODY
It sounds like the end of the world out there.  (long pause)  They're killing
each other out there.  (pause)  Do you think we had anything to do with it?

        LAUREL
Not any more than anyone else.  (pause)  I mean, I'm hardly one to take
responsibility for the state of the world.

        MELODY
I don't remember what caused it, do you?

        LAUREL
Something about... I'm not sure, actually.

(Explosion heard in the distance.)

        MELODY
What do you suppose that was?

        LAUREL
Maybe they blew up a gas station.

        MELODY
        (brightly)
Good thing we live way up here in the hills, away from all the trouble.
(pause)  What do you suppose we should do?

        LAUREL
We should stay right here.  (pause)  We shouldn't do anything.  (pause)  We
should stay right here.

(Pause.)

        MELODY
Do you want to dream together?

        LAUREL
No.  (pause)  Things are strange enough as it is.

        MELODY
Yeah.  Reality's tricky that way.  (pause)  Do you want to make love?

        LAUREL
        (pause)
In a little while.  Right now, I just want to listen to the riots.  (pause)
I think the sounds of widespread violence are somehow vitally attractive.

        MELODY
From a distance, at any rate.

(Machine gun fire in the distance.)

        MELODY
Boy, somebody's really going all out.  I guess they don't call it the end of
the world for nothing.

        LAUREL
        (suddenly inspired)
I've got an idea.  (pause)  Let's do some drugs.

(Blackout.)

Scene Three

(A "hipster" kind of jazz joins the riot sounds, very slinky and smoky.
MELODY and LAUREL light candles and incense.  Lights come up about half.
LAUREL takes a hit off a pipe, passes it to MELODY.  Both of them hold in
the smoke as long as possible, then exhale together, smoothly.  They both
speak smoothly, slowly; the scene has a murky feel to it.)

        MELODY
Let's not start giggling.  I hate it when people start giggling uncontrollably.

        LAUREL
I hate that too.

        MELODY
No reason, they just giggle.  That's such a stereotype, you know?

        LAUREL
I know.  (takes another hit)

        MELODY
They don't *feel* anything, you know?  They're just laughing and laughing and
they distract themselves from the *experience*, you know?

(LAUREL nods, offers MELODY the pipe.  She takes a hit.  Long pause.  MELODY
exhales.)

        MELODY
What the fuck were we just talking about?

        LAUREL
Sssshhh...

(Huge explosion outside, incredibly loud, incredibly close.  Long pause.)

        MELODY
        (without moving)
Jesus *Christ*.

        LAUREL
        (without moving)
Holy *shit*, that scared me.

        MELODY
It's really getting scary out there, isn't it.

        LAUREL
I don't like this end of the world shit.  (pause)  Pass the pipe.

        MELODY
I think we're out.  (sets pipe on coffee table)

        LAUREL
We're out?

        MELODY
I think so.

        LAUREL
We smoked all of it?

        MELODY
I don't have any more.  Do you?

        LAUREL
Jesus.  (pause)  Well.

        MELODY
Is there somebody you could call?

        LAUREL
It's the end of the world, Melody.  (grabs her purse off the floor)

        MELODY
That's another thing.  It's the end of the world, right?  Are we just going to
sit up here and let it happen?

        LAUREL
        (as she searches through her purse)
I wonder if TV is still on... (pulls out a small pill bottle)  A ha.  (shows it
to MELODY)  Look what I've got.

        MELODY
        (smiles slowly)
Happy pills?

(LAUREL nods.)

        MELODY
How many?

        LAUREL
Well... (dumps large amount of pills into her hand)

        MELODY
Let's binge, Laurel.  What the hell else is there to do?

        LAUREL
It seems to me like the edges of this room are very mushy.

        MELODY
        (laughs)
They're like potatoes!  I'd like some happy pills, please.

        LAUREL
        (doling out pills)
These are not your ordinary happy pills, Melody.

        MELODY
I wish I had a guitar with me.

        LAUREL
        (pouring wine)
This is very exciting, Melody.  We haven't done drugs together in a long time.

        MELODY
It's a special occasion.

        LAUREL
Let's have a toast.  Think of one.

(MELODY leans over, kisses LAUREL quickly.)

        LAUREL
What was that for?

        MELODY
I'm impulsive when I'm on drugs.

(They raise their glasses.)

        MELODY
To you and me.  To being thoroughly, abjectly in love.  Crazy, head over heels
in love, all the stereotypes.

        LAUREL
I thought you didn't like stereotypes.

        MELODY
To being in love... and to being on drugs.  To being out of our fucking minds
on drugs, and to being crazy, head over heels in love.  (pause)  How's that?

        LAUREL
I like it.

(Instead of clinking glasses, they bump their pill hands and pop the pills into
their mouths.  After a few moments, it becomes apparent that they won't be able
to swallow them -- and so, they begin laboriously *chewing* the pills.
Afterwards, MELODY takes LAUREL's wine glass from her and sets the two glasses
on the table.  She scoots closer to LAUREL on the couch.)

        MELODY
I think we should make love now.  (kisses LAUREL on the neck)

        LAUREL
I think we should sit back and enjoy the trip...

        MELODY
I think we should start making love now, so that by the time the drugs start
to peak, so do we... (kisses LAUREL on the lips)

        LAUREL
It's a lot to concentrate on, you know.

        MELODY
You need to focus.

        LAUREL
I know that.

        MELODY
Try harder.

        LAUREL
I'm having a problem with shapes.

(As they engage in an erotic embrace, slow fade to black.)

Scene Four

(In the blackout, we hear a loud pounding at the door.  Music is gone; only
riots in the background.  Pounding is fast and furious.  Lights up on
MELODY and LAUREL, asleep, wrapped around each other on the couch.  Pounding
continues for longer than it should.  Eventually MELODY awakes.  She crawls
out from under the covers, hair a shambles and half undressed, and wanders to
the door.  She hesitates, looks back at LAUREL, then opens the door.

MRS. WORMWOOD stands in the doorway, a disheveled mess of a housewife.  Her
coat is smeared with blood and dirt.  Big smile.  She holds something behind
her back.  MRS. WORMWOOD is a stylized human being: exaggerated, grandiose,
consistently and unconsciously comical.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Hi!  Can I come in?

(Long pause.)

        MELODY
Yes.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Great!  (charges into the living room)  Wow, let me tell you, it is
absolutely crazy out there!  Just a complete mess out there, you know?

(We see now that she's holding a bloodied butcher knife, which she uses to
gesture with.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (obvious awe)
Wow.  Great place you got here.

        MELODY
Could you--

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (abruptly)
You should put some clothes on, Missy.

        MELODY
Please...

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Pardon?

        MELODY
        (points to the couch)
My sister.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (notices LAUREL, exaggerated whisper)
Oh.  Right.

(Awkward pause.  Then, MRS. WORMWOOD wipes blood from free hand, offers it to
MELODY.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (warmly)
Hi.  I'm Mrs. Wormwood.

        MELODY
        (shakes her hand, smiles)
I'm Melody.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (regular voice)
Great place you got here.  You should put some clothes on, Missy.

        MELODY
Melody.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
You should put some clothes on.  It's absolutely crazy out there.  Just a
complete mess out there, you know?

        MELODY
That's why we're in here.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (long pause; suddenly, big smile)
Right!  Of course!  That is *so* clever!  What a clever girl you are!  Here's
me, running around out there... (she's starting to laugh) ...in the middle of
this mess... with a... oh, sake's alive... (laughing uncontrollably now, she
holds up the cleaver) ...I'm running around with a... (waves cleaver) ...just,
you know... (demonstrates hacking motion, laughs hysterically, pauses)  And I
coulda been HERE!  (laughs hysterically again)  For the love of Mary, who
woulda guessed...

(Awkward pause.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
What's your name again, Missy?

        MELODY
Melody.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (offers hand)
I'm Mrs. Wormwood.  Great place you got here.

        MELODY
Thanks.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
You should put some clothes on.

        MELODY
I know.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Aren't you chilly?

        MELODY
A little.  I was asleep.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (suddenly appalled at herself)
Oh, I'm so sorry -- did I wake you?  That's just like me, inconsiderate to the
last drop.  I could come back later if you want me to...

        MELODY
Umm...

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (laughs)
Actually, who am I kidding?  I came here because someone was trying to kill
me.  It's just a complete mess out there, you know.

        MELODY
I know.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
So I don't really think I could come back later.  I was lucky I made it up
here at all.  (pause)  I mean, you shoulda seen me on the way up here...
(demonstrates hacking motion again)  It was crazy, just crazy.  (notices LAUREL
as if for the first time)  Who's this?

        MELODY
My sister.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Oh.  Is she asleep?

        MELODY
Yes.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (exaggerated whisper)
Right.  Right.

(Awkward pause.)

        MELODY
Can I take you coat?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (genuinely moved)
You know, Missy, I think that would be lovely.

(She hands MELODY the knife to hold while she removes her coat.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I guess it's kind of a surprise to have a visitor like me in the middle of
the night, huh, what with the end of the world and all...

        MELODY
A little...

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Living up here in the hills, I'll bet you kids don't get a lot of visitors.
(laughs, hands MELODY her coat)  Certainly not all covered in blood, I'll bet!
(takes her knife back)  Do you know how many people I had to just...
(demonstrates hacking motion again) ...I mean, just to get up here.  People
don't want to be nice anymore, no sir.  This end of the world thing is driving
everybody crazy.

(Huge explosion outside.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Listen to that!  They're blowing stuff up out there!

        MELODY
It's really amazing.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I'll say!  You ever seen a gas station blow up?  (makes an explosion sound
effect)  Wow.  And just wait til they get to those nuclear power plants.  Talk
about explosions!  I guess those liberal hippies were right.  We never shoulda
built those fuckers.  But who knew that the end of the world was gonna turn
out like this?  I can barely stand it myself.

        MELODY
It sure is crazy.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
You said a mouthful there, Missy.  (notices LAUREL again)  She's a real heavy
sleeper, your sister.

        MELODY
We had a pretty energetic evening.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Energetic.  That's a good word.  Energetic.

(MRS. WORMWOOD slumps down on the couch, next to LAUREL.  MELODY stands
nearby, arms wrapped around her chest, quite cold.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I'm fairly exhausted myself.  I had a pretty energetic night too, you could
say.  (nonchalant)  It started off fairly simple, some looting, robbing, that
kind of thing.  Fairly easy to get the hang of.  But then, POW... (more and
more amused)  I guess someone started a little killing spree, and soon we were
all doing it!  Crazy how that stuff spreads, huh.  You ever killed anybody?

        MELODY
Not really.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Probably not, up here in the hills and all.  You got a nice place here, I tell
ya.

        MELODY
Thanks.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (sizing up the situation)
Is it just the two of you up here?

        MELODY
Just the two of us.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
How'd you kids get a place like this?

        MELODY
Our father died, and left it to us.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
What about your mother?

        MELODY
She's in an insane asylum.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Oh, you poor kids.  What a tragedy.  I should say a prayer for you right this
instant.

        MELODY
You don't have to.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
That's just a figure of speech, darling.  (notices wine bottle on table)
Would you mind if I had a sip of that?  (MELODY shakes her head)  Thanks.
I'm parched.  (she grabs bottle, takes a long pull)  Wow, that's refreshing.
(like a TV commercial)  After a long night of killing people, that sure does
hit the spot.

(MELODY laughs.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (smiles)
I like you, Missy.  I like you a whole lot.

        MELODY
I like you too, Mrs. Wormwood.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Yes sir.  I hope you don't mind, but I think I'm gonna stay for a while.  This
place has got a lot of potential.  (pauses, then shakes LAUREL)  Hey, wake up,
Missy.  You got a new roomie.  My name's Mrs. Wormwood.

        LAUREL
        (looks up slowly)
What?

(Blackout.)
 

Scene Five

(Dim smoky jazz joins the riots again in the background.  Candles and
incense are lit once again.  Lights come up half.  MELODY, MRS. WORMWOOD,
and LAUREL sit together on the couch, in that order.  LAUREL sits foward,
stares out.  MRS. WORMWOOD takes a big hit from the pipe; a bag of marijuana
sits on her lap next to her knife.  After the hit, MRS. WORMWOOD passes the
pipe to LAUREL.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (exhales slowly, picks up bag)
I took this stuff off a dead guy two days ago.  Found it when I was looking for
his wallet.  I don't know why I was looking for his wallet.  Guess I got some
kind of attachment to credit cards.  Anyway, I found this stuff, and you know
what, I have always wanted to try it.  I spent most of last night smoking this
stuff with some bum under a bridge.  (smiles)  Wow.  Now I know what all the
fuss was about.  They say this stuff makes you stupid, but I think the end of
the world will make you stupid a lot quicker.

        LAUREL
You talk a lot.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I know.  I'm sorry.  I'm still a little nervous.  You kids are the first
people who haven't tried to rape me or kill me since the end of the world got
started.

        MELODY
Pass the pipe, Laurel.

        LAUREL
Sorry.  (she does)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I just need to relax, that's all.

        LAUREL
This stuff is good for that.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Take some of the edges off.  Not all of the edges, mind you.

        LAUREL
Some of the edges are a lot of fun.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I'll say.  You ever killed anyone, Missy?

        LAUREL
No.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
You should try it sometime.  Those are some edges you can really sink your
teeth into.  Now's the perfect opportunity too.  Seems like everybody's got
permission to go crazy all of a sudden.

        MELODY
Are there any more pills, Laurel?

        LAUREL
I'm kind of bored with the pills myself.

        MELODY
We should make up mom and dad's room for Mrs. Wormwood.  (to MRS. WORMWOOD)
Do you want to take a shower or anything?

        LAUREL
Melody, not right now.  She's taking drugs.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (exhales slowly)
Yup, gotta get all this blood offa me eventually.  (hands pipe to LAUREL)
Missy here tells me your mom went crazy.  That's a real tragedy, you know.

        LAUREL
        (takes a hit)
Sure was.

        MELODY
        (sadly)
She liked to tell us that this entire house was just a space ship, and someday
we'd all blast off into outer space.  (pause)  Pretty crazy, huh.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
What about your daddy?

        MELODY
He jumped off a bridge.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Wow.  You kids really know tragedy, huh.  I really feel for you there.  Makes
me real glad I picked this place to crash in.  Heck, I was just gonna kill
whoever lived here, but that woulda been just too much tragedy for you kids.
You don't need any more tragedy, that's for sure.  (closes her eyes suddenly)
Wow.  It's getting really hard to see.

(Long pause.  MELODY takes a hit, exhales.  Rhythm of the scene starts to slow
down.)

        MELODY
Mrs. Wormwood... do you know what's happened exactly?  Out there, I mean.

(Long pause.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I used to be a good Catholic, you know.

(Long pause.)

        LAUREL
Must be tough, huh.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Yeah.

(Long pause.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
No, I don't know what happened, Missy.  They announced it on TV, and the next
thing I knew, my husband was trying to strangle me with the lamp cord.

(Long pause.)

        LAUREL
Give Mrs. Wormwood the pipe.

(Long pause.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I sure took care of him, though.  I was cooking, and I just turned around, and
POW, spilled his guts.

(Long pause.  MELODY hands MRS. WORMWOOD the pipe.)

        LAUREL
I've got an idea.  (grabs purse off the floor, begins searching through it)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
God, I can barely see.  (takes another very long drag)

(Long pause while LAUREL searches.  MRS. WORMWOOD exhales.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Jesus... you kids are the best, you know that?

(Long pause.  LAUREL pulls out a makeup compact.)

        LAUREL
Found it.

        MELODY
Found what?

(LAUREL opens compact, pops open a hidden compartment underneath the actual
makeup.)

        MELODY
What's that?

        LAUREL
Acid.  I think we should all take acid.

(Long pause.)

        MELODY
Now that's a good idea.

        LAUREL
Everybody's gotta deal with the end of the world in whatever fashion
available.

(LAUREL hands MELODY the compact.  MRS. WORMWOOD rocks back and forth ever so
slightly.  LAUREL takes pipe from MRS. WORMWOOD, prepares to take a hit.)

        MELODY
How many do you have here?

        LAUREL
I think thirty.

        MELODY
So... we could each take ten, right?  I think we should binge.  What the fuck
else is there to do?

(LAUREL takes a drag while MELODY counts out tabs of acid.  LAUREL exhales,
sets the pipe down on the table.)

        MELODY
Okay, I counted out ten for each of us.

        LAUREL
Wonderful.

        MELODY
Laurel, I want you to know I'm having a wonderful time.

        LAUREL
Me too.

        MELODY
We haven't done drugs together in so long.

        LAUREL
I know.  This is wonderful.

        MELODY
        (nudges MRS. WORMWOOD)
Mrs. Wormwood?  You awake?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (smiles big, opens her eyes)
You kids are the *best*.

        MELODY
We're gonna take some acid now, okay?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I used to be a real good Catholic.  A real good one.

        MELODY
Open your mouth, Mrs. Wormwood.  Say "aaaahh."

(MRS. WORMWOOD opens her mouth and says "aaaahh."  MELODY puts ten tiny tabs of
paper underneath MRS. WORMWOOD's tongue.)

        LAUREL
        (without looking)
You can close your mouth now, Mrs. Wormwood.

        MELODY
Don't swallow for a while.  Let it dissolve in your mouth.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Okay.

(LAUREL and MELODY bump their cupped hands together in a toast, and then
swallow their hits.  Fade to black.)

Scene Six

(Weird, spacey music up, as well as weird spacy lights, perhaps a very slow
sort of strobe, etc.  MELODY spends the opening of the scene somewhere in
between the SR end of the couch and the door, crawling back and forth, while
LAUREL remains on the couch.  MRS. WORMWOOD is hidden from view, behind the
couch.)

        MELODY
        (it's difficult for her to speak)
Okay, let's not start speaking in tongues.

        LAUREL
Okay.

        MELODY
I hate it when people start speaking in tongues.

        LAUREL
I hate that too.

        MELODY
That is such a stereotype, you know?  I mean, they just start babbling and
babbling, motivated by some sort of possessive or ethereal force, and they
alienate themselves from everyone who didn't take gibberish in high school,
you know?

        LAUREL
I know.

(Long pause.  Then, MRS. WORMWOOD stands up behind the couch.  Her face and
hands are covered with choclate frosting, and she's wearing 3-D glasses.  There
is a long moment as MRS. WORMWOOD surveys the room, and then, she begins loudly
and incoherently speaking in tongues.  She stops suddenly; long pause.)

        LAUREL
At least she isn't giggling.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (dazed; she too has a hard time forming words)
I wanted to let you both know that I'm making you a cake, as a token of my
appreciation for your marvelous generosity.

        MELODY
        (gleeful)
What kind of cake?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (big smile, very dreamy)
Well, at first, it was going to be a chocolate cake, but now... now I think
it's going to be a benevolent cosmic harmony cake.  The recipe's based on
something I saw in a Reader's Digest once.  A sprinkle of love... a dash of
understanding... a dozen smiles... and fifty-seven eggs.

        MELODY
Where'd you get so many eggs?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (shouting)
I *LAID* 'EM, MISSY!  THEY'RE *MY* EGGS, DO YOU HEAR?  STRAIGHT FROM THE
REFRIDGERATOR THAT IS MY WOMB!

        LAUREL
        (bemused)
You been storing 'em up or something?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (suddenly sorrowful, as she licks frosting from her fingers)
I wanted to have a love *child*, of course, but I guess a love *cake* will
have to do.  (almost moaning)  I guess a love cake will have to do.  Oh, I
just guess a love cake will have to do.  (suddenly reflective)  You know, I
once read a true life drama in one of those Reader's Digests where a man got
his spleen caught in a threshing machine, and he had to chew his way to
freedom.  And after it was all over, he said, "I think there comes a time in
everyone's life when you've just gotta stop and bake a benevolent cosmit
harmony cake."  AND I NEVER KNEW WHAT THE FUCK THAT MEANT UNTIL JUST NOW!

(Long pause, then MRS. WORMWOOD descends behind the couch again.  Long pause.
MELODY moves to the window.)

        MELODY
        (struggling with the language)
I feel like it's getting closer.

        LAUREL
That's a pretty vague thing to say.

        MELODY
What if you were a child out there... in the middle of all of that... and
you're just coming to terms with what it's like to be a person... and the end
of the world happens... what would you do?

        LAUREL
You know... I think we lost the remote control.

        MELODY
        (suddenly overwhelmed with sensation)
Oh, *man*... this is so fucking molecular, you know?  So *cellular*... I feel
like I'm being broken down into the smallest of biological components,
stripped of excess flesh and tired metaphors -- (pause) Oooh, that was good,
write that down for me, will you, Laurel?

(Explosion outside.)

        MELODY
Wow.  (enjoying the word)  *WOW*.  (moving back toward the couch)  Think
about this, Laurel.  What if the emergence of humanity is an evolutionary
strategy designed to provide meaning in an otherwise existentially bleak
universe?  Humans are the only animals capable of meaning things, and maybe
it's up to us to reverse engineer meaning transtemporally back to the big bang
itself.  Meaning isn't somehow imposed from the top down by some overwhelming
badass entity but is instead decentrally evolved from out of the chaos, higher
and higher orders of complexity contributing to the eventual rise of that
organism which is capable of interpretation, and thus, reinterpretation.

        LAUREL
If we had a VCR, this would not be a problem.

        MELODY
        (picking up steam, crawling all over the couch)
End of the world symbology creeps up in the history of the world whenever the
great millenial odometer is about to roll over.  But for the first time in
human history, humanity is actually capable of *doing* it, of *ending* the
world, as we are now seeing for one reason or another.  You might have
expected nuclear holocaust, but that's passe, you might have expected some
kind of chemical disaster, this plague or that plague, but plague isn't
*meaningful* enough.  But what was the trigger?  What set it all off?  What
bizarre Jungian gestalt suddenly swept through our collective, morphogenetic
unconscious and said, "HEY, YOU SILLY HUMANS, THE JIG'S UP"?

        LAUREL
I bet the main networks are off the air, but I wonder if cable is still on.

        MELODY
        (frustrated)
Laurel!  Aren't you the slightest bit interested in knowing why it happened?

        LAUREL
Listen, Melody, I've got an idea.

        MELODY
        (almost whiny)
Again?  You always have the ideas.  When is it my turn to have an idea?

        LAUREL
I'm very bored.  (pause)  I think we should dream together.  Now.

        MELODY
While we're tripping?

        LAUREL
What the hell else is there to do?

        MELODY
Aren't things strange enough as it is?

        LAUREL
Who cares?  I can hardly keep track.  (pause)  Look, one way to look at the
situation is that we're completely fucked, no matter what we do, so we may as
well go all out, right?

        MELODY
Right.  (pause)  Are there any other ways to look at the situation?

        LAUREL
Nope.  We're completely fucked.

        MELODY
        (not convinced)
You make a very convincing case.  (sits down on the couch)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (shouting from behind the couch)
I think this cake is almost done now!

        LAUREL
        (sincerely)
I love you, Melody.

        MELODY
I love you, Laurel.

        LAUREL
Think about how much fun we're going to have.

        MELODY
This *is* fun, isn't it.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (struggles to her feet, she's very delirious; she hands plates and
        forks to MELODY and LAUREL)
My husband always hated my cooking.  Hated my body, hated my cooking.

        MELODY
Thank you.

        LAUREL
Thanks.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
If only that little germ of a man had asked me to bake my specialty, the
benevolent... cosmic... (long pause)

        LAUREL
Harmony.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
...harmony... cake.  I really think you kids are going to like this.

(She holds up what is clearly a large detergent bottle; the label, however,
says "CAKE!" in bold yellow letters.  The music changes to some kind of
ethereal choir, as MRS. WORMWOOD slowly pours a disgusting green slop from
the bottle onto MELODY's plate and then onto LAUREL's.  Then, she begins
pouring the slop into her mouth; fade to black.)

Scene Seven

(Evil jazz resumes in the background; riot sounds out.  MELODY, MRS.
WORMWOOD, and LAUREL sit with their eyes closed, facing forward.)

        LAUREL
Where are you now, Melody?

        MELODY
I always have a problem with shapes.

        LAUREL
I know, I know.

        MELODY
All these multi-colored swirls are incredibly distracting.

        LAUREL
Find the couch.  Start with the couch.

        MELODY
That's very easy for you to say.

        LAUREL
I haven't found it yet either.

        MELODY
There's so much energy here.

        LAUREL
This isn't going to be some kind of escape.

        MELODY
Could you change the end of the world from here?

        LAUREL
        (slight pause)
Would you want to?

        MELODY
I can feel the couch.  I just can't grab hold of it.

        LAUREL
It's always that way with you.

        MELODY
I'm frustrated.

        LAUREL
Smooth, Melody, smooth.

        MELODY
My body wants to melt.

        LAUREL
Your body isn't important right now.

        MELODY
It has a mind of its own.

        LAUREL
Find the couch.

        MELODY
Wait--

        LAUREL
Melody, can you see me?

        MELODY
        (sudden excitement)
I can see you!  Jesus Christ!  You're sitting on -- the couch!  Jesus,
Laurel, I found it!

        LAUREL
I found it too!  We found each other, that's the key.

        MELODY
I love you, Laurel.

        LAUREL
I love you, Melody.

        MELODY
I've got the entire fucking living room!  This is incredible!  There are
multi-colored swirls everywhere!

        LAUREL
Can you stand up?

        MELODY
        (jumps off couch)
Fuck yes!  I can do damn near anything.  Get up, Laurel.  Let's dance.

        LAUREL
I need to stay here with Mrs. Wormwood.

        MELODY
Is she okay?

        LAUREL
She's fine.

        MELODY
I'm going to turn on some music.

(A different kind of jazz arises, sometimes harmonizing with the present jazz,
sometimes dissonant.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I'm fine.

        LAUREL
Don't try to talk, Mrs. Wormwood.

        MELODY
Is this okay?  Do you like this?

        LAUREL
This is beautiful, Melody.  (pause)  I think it's raining out.

(A thunderstorm suddenly fades in.)

        MELODY
        (runs to the window, looks out)
Wow, you're right!  All the best shit happens when it rains!

        LAUREL
What do you see out there?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I'm fine, really, I'm fine.

        LAUREL
Mrs. Wormwood, quiet.  What do you see out there, Melody?

        MELODY
It's raining incredibly hard all of a sudden.  Wow.  You should see this.

        LAUREL
What else, Melody?  Anything else out there?

        MELODY
Yeah, it's amazing!  I can see our whole front yard from here, and there are
lights and fires down in the city... this is incredible.  Are we dreaming,
Laurel, or is this the drugs?

        LAUREL
I want you to open the door, Melody.

        MELODY
Of course, there are some pretty incredible edges to this place as well.
Really incredible edges.  Get up off the couch, Laurel.

        LAUREL
What kind of edges?

        MELODY
This place has its own rules, you said.  Feels like a thousand tiny
heartbeats, compressed into a solid.  That's what I feel like.  (with wonder)
We're not alone here, are we.

        LAUREL
I want you to open the door, Melody.  I want you to step outside.

        MELODY
Why?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I'm fine.

        LAUREL
Do it, Melody.  Open the door and take a step outside.

        MELODY
Why?

        LAUREL
Do it!

        MELODY
        (growing frightened)
This doesn't quite feel like what I'm used to anymore.

        LAUREL
Do it now, Melody!  It's *important*!  Open the door, and step outside, and
then close the door behind you.  Do it!

        MELODY
You do it!

        LAUREL
I can't do it!

        MELODY
You're scaring me, Laurel!

        LAUREL
If that's what it takes... open the damn door!

        MELODY
I don't want to!

        LAUREL
Do it for me, Melody, please...

        MELODY
I don't understand...

        LAUREL
We have to know if it's *real*...

        MELODY
I'm going crazy, Laurel, you have to stop...

        LAUREL
God damn it, Melody--

        MELODY
No--

        LAUREL
Open the fucking door--

        MELODY
All these swirls...

        LAUREL
OPEN IT!

        MELODY
NOOO!

(A sudden silence follows; we hear only the thunderstorm.  A wash comes up in
front of the coffee table, rest of the stage is dark.  MELODY comes forward
into the wash on her hands and knees, addresses the audience directly.)

        MELODY
I come up for air.  I'm covered in acidic sweat.  I need to get out of these
clothes, I need to get out of this skin.  I need to sit down, I need to crawl
on my hands and knees, I need to slither on my belly, I need to stay right
here where I am.  I am a mass of contradictions.  I am every memorable song
lyric I've ever heard, I am every catch riff and desperate groove to which I've
ever been attracted.  I am a biology textbook and a philosophy primer.  I am
all the colors of the rainbow.  I am feeling very sick to my stomach.

The images burn painfully through the drugs and through the dreams.  Screaming
neon skeletons, computer-animated skulls and faces, row after row of dancing
taunting skeletons, and this forms the frame, faces of people I've known and
loved fill out the picture, one after another into another, a face comes
hurtling out of the background, out of the void, into the forefront, and the
face hurts, its mouth is wide open in a taut, silent scream of ridiculous
torment, and then the face twists like a spinning top and disintegrates as the
next face hurtles into view, one face after another into another, millions of
faces, all in the space of one infinite nanosecond.  And I have something to
say to each one of them, but there just isn't time, there just isn't time,
there just isn't time, row after row of dancing taunting skeletons, faces of
people I've known and loved, each face devoured by screaming, smiling skulls
of energy and wisdom.

And then my father hurtles into view, and tears of joy stream down my heart,
into his grinning mouth, father, you always did want the best for me, but you
were so misguided, so gentle and naive, I love you, daddy, why did you leave
me behind, daddy?  Tears of sorrow, tears of heartbreak, tears of loneliness,
I don't give a fuck if it's self-pity, daddy, you left your little girl, and
how can I ever forgive you for that?  I hate you, daddy, with a passion
unmatched, I'll kill you if I ever see you again, tears of hatred, waves of
misery, triangles of self-loathing, and a sneering, virulent army of dancing,
rotting corpses tears you apart with its teeth, and the soundtrack is so
wonderful, so damned all-encompassing, each skeleton embodies a musical tone,
and the orchestration defies the laws of physics.

And then it's my mother, then my mother hurtles into view, just her view, just
her sweetly smiling face with those almost hollow eyes.  I know what you must
be thinking, mother, I know what you want to say, the loss must have torn your
soul in two, the loss, losing *me*, losing me must have pushed you over the
edge, I can tell by the way you smile so sadly, by the way you stare so
beautifully, mommy, I know you can't possibly understand, a gulf as wide as
the universe keeps us apart, and you seem so tired, it will be a relief to
disintegrate into a flurry of skulls and ideas and multi-colored swirls, I've
been stabbed and the blood fills my throat, I am everywhere I've ever been...

And then it's my sister, it's my sister's face that hurtles past the leering
skeleton brigades, and her face is devoid of any possible expression, a china
white mask that conveys nothing and betrays nothing, you are sheer agenda, and
I hate you for it, and my hate is futile because it can't affect you, that's
what paralyzes me the most you horrible girl, tears of desperation, tears of
irony, tears of antipathy, madness coagulates around us, I can't stand the way
you stare at me, I can't stand what I can't understand, and the skulls line up
behind her, smiling, cackling, row after row, skeletons in kick lines, shafts
of light interpenetrating the scene, and all the skulls are her, all the
skulls are her, all the skulls are her, all the skulls are her...
 

(Loud, booming, ominous knock at the door.  Blackout.)

Scene Eight

(Riot sounds up.  Loud, booming knock continues through the blackout.  Lights
up.  MELODY, MRS. WORMWOOD, and LAUREL are sitting on the couch, in that
order, all wide awake and alert.  MRS. WORMWOOD is almost cheerful.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Were you kids expecting anyone?

        MELODY
No.

        LAUREL
I think you should get the door, Melody.

        MELODY
I don't know if I want to.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
It could be anybody.  Heck, *I* coulda been anybody.  Naturally, I wasn't, of
course.

(Knocking.)

        LAUREL
They're here now.  We may as well let them in.

        MELODY
I suppose.

(She gets off the couch, starts toward the door.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (horrified)
Put some clothes on before you answer that door!  Sakes live, Missy, you
can't answer the door like that!

(She grabs a skirt off the floor, a blouse, and puts them on.)

        LAUREL
You're not upset, are you?

        MELODY
I don't know what I am.  I'm going to answer the door.

(She goes to the door, opens it.  COHEN stands in the doorway.  He wears a
trenchcoat, spattered with blood, holds a gun in his hand.  COHEN is an
exaggerated modern "gangster" type: exaggered charm, alternately suave and
manic, apparently on cocaine.)

        COHEN
        (brightly)
Hi.  I was looking for a Mrs. Wormwood?

        MELODY
Umm...

        COHEN
Oh, there she is.  Would you... I mean, could I come in?  I'll only be a
moment.

        MELODY
        (turns)
Mrs. Wormwood?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Yes?  (turns, sees COHEN) Holy Mother of God!  (leaps up, grabs her knife)
Don't let him in!

        COHEN
        (pushing past MELODY, big smile)
Too late!  Here I am!

        MELODY
        (maneuvers between them, to COHEN)
Maybe you'd care to introduce yourself?

        COHEN
Right.  Sorry.  (offers a hand to MELODY)  I'm Cohen.

        MELODY
I'm Melody.  (shakes his hand)

        LAUREL
I'm Laurel.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
I'm gonna kill you!

        MELODY
        (sternly)
Mrs. Wormwood, I will have no killing in this house, do you understand me?

        COHEN
Uh, that's going to be a bit of a problem, Melody.

        MELODY
        (turns to COHEN)
No, it isn't.

        LAUREL
Tell you what... I'll fill the pipe again.  How's that sound?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
You piece of shit.  You big ol' horrible piece of shit.  Following me all the
way up here in the hills!  What are you thinking?  Are you crazy or something?
I'm gonna cut you open, you big ol' nasty piece of shit!  See this knife?
(waves it around)  I know how to use this guy, tell me I don't!  My husband,
he was the first, I was cutting up a pork roast and he comes up behind me with
a lamp cord and says, "I always hated you, you incredible bitch," and I just
turned around and WHAM, instant C-section.  Spilled the bastard's guts is what
I did, and WHEW, you ever smelled human guts up close?  That bastard just
stood there, trying to catch his guts in his hands like he's just gonna stick
'em back in there and run to the sewing machine or something!  I lived with
that bastard for seventeen years, but I guess when the end of the whole damn
WORLD happens, the FIRST thing you do is strangle your God damn wife!  What
are you thinking, following me all the way up here?  It ain't my fault you got
a problem with your willy, pal!  I'm a good, upstanding Catholic, and I lived
with that bastard seventeen years, ain't had a man inside me for the last
fifteen or so, God knows *I* was repressed and horny, you impotent piece of
shit, next time you want to RAPE someone make sure you got a fucking HARD-ON
first, you understand?

(Pause.)

        COHEN
I'm really sorry about this.

(He raises the gun and fires, killing MRS. WORMWOOD.  Long silence.)

        LAUREL
Well... the pipe is full anyway.

(Blackout.)

Scene Nine

(Candles and incense lit.  Lights up half, smoky jazz rejoins us.  MELODY,
COHEN, and LAUREL sit on the couch, in that order.  MELODY is taking a drag
from the pipe.  MRS. WORMWOOD's feet are visible from behind the couch.
COHEN's gun is on the coffee table.  LAUREL sits forward, staring out.)

        COHEN
        (expansively)
I tell you, you kids are absolutely beautiful.

        LAUREL
You're just saying that.

        COHEN
I wouldn't go *that* far.  And this is a great place you got here.  Way up
in the hills.  How come you kids are hiding all the way up here in the hills?

(MELODY exhales, passes pipe to COHEN.)

        MELODY
        (smiles)
All *right.*

        COHEN
Course, it's great for all the drugs you kids do, huh?  (laughs, takes a hit)

        LAUREL
What's that supposed to mean?

        MELODY
Lay off, Laurel.  (starts to laugh as well)  Look at me, I'm giggling....

        COHEN
        (exhales)
You kids looked in a mirror lately?  (passes pipe to LAUREL)  Your pupils are
the size of hubcaps.  Bag of dope, bottle of wine, who knows what else you got
hidden around here somewhere... what do you kids do for a living, makes you
wanna take so many drugs?

(MELODY laughs.)

        COHEN
        (smiles)
Yeah, that's a joke, of course.  I'm a big fan of drugs myself.  I think the
right drugs at the right time coulda stoped this whole end of the world
business.  Stopped it dead in its tracks.

        MELODY
Yeah.

        COHEN
Coupla puffs, and everything's back to normal.  Course, then you gotta ask,
what's normal to begin with?

(He laughs fairly hard, MELODY joins in.)

        LAUREL
Tell me what's so funny.  (sets pipe on table)

        COHEN
        (looks at LAUREL, whose lap is covered with blankets)
You cold or something?

        LAUREL
Tell me what's so funny.

        COHEN
        (picks up LAUREL's pants from the floor in front of the couch)
Put your pants on, maybe you won't be so cold, huh?

(MELODY giggles loudly.)

        LAUREL
Put my pants down.

        COHEN
        (drops her pants, smiles)
Something going on here that I should know about?

        MELODY
Ummm....

        LAUREL
Well, I don't know.

        COHEN
Sure you do.  (expansively)  Hey, I'm a real progressive guy.  I know how
these modern relationships work.

        MELODY
Do you know what happened out there?  Why it's all happening?

        COHEN
        (turns to her, almost serious)
I sure do, sweetheart.  What happens when you close your eyes?

        MELODY
I don't want to close my eyes.

        COHEN
What happens if you do?

        MELODY
I'm not going to.

        LAUREL
It's really cold in here.

        COHEN
If you close your eyes, Melody, you'll find out why the world has to end.

        MELODY
I don't understand.

        COHEN
That's what ten hits of acid'll do to you.

(Huge explosion outside.)

        LAUREL
What's that?

        COHEN
        (enthusiastic)
The National Guard's out there blowing shit up.  All over the city.  It's
some kind of post-modern war zone out there, you know?

        MELODY
I am *not* going to close my eyes.

        COHEN
Hey, suit yourself, sweetheart.  (exaggerated respect)  You kids are tough,
you know that?  When I was your age, ten hits of acid and a bag of dope, that
woulda sent me straight to the moon, but I guess the end of the world can give
you a real strange kind of strength, huh?

        MELODY
Why is it ending?

        LAUREL
Stop asking so many questions.

        MELODY
I have to know.

        LAUREL
And don't close your eyes.

        COHEN
        (pauses, leans in to LAUREL)
Yeah, you're a real tough one, sweetheart.  You feel tough?

        LAUREL
Maybe.

        COHEN
Yeah, you got some kind of heavy duty resilience thing going on.  Gotta
admire that.

        LAUREL
So?

(COHEN pauses, then takes pipe and empties it onto the table.  He reaches into
his pocket, pulls out a small opaque vial, which he shows to LAUREL.)

        COHEN
Here's something you probably ain't never had, sugar.  You in the mood for a
brand new experience?

        LAUREL
I might've had enough new experiences for one night, thanks.

        COHEN
Yeah, maybe.

(He opens the vial, fills the pipe with a white powerdery/flaky substance.
When he is finsihed, he offers the pipe to LAUREL.  They stare at each other
for a long moment, before LAUREL accepts the challenge and tries to take the
pipe.  He pulls it away; he will light the bowl for her.  Reluctantly, she
agrees; he holds the pipe and lights the bowl, she takes a big hit, pauses,
exhales.)

        COHEN
You feel it?

        LAUREL
        (lying)
Nothing's happening.

        COHEN
Take another hit, quick.

(She does.  COHEN watches closely.  Suddenly LAUREL's eyes close and her hand
drops; she falls back into the corner of the couch, and during the next
sequence, she only moves slightly, and occasionally low moans escape her.  She
is entirely unware of herself or her surroundings.  COHEN covers her over with
the blanket.)

        MELODY
What is that stuff?

(Long pause.)

        COHEN
You're a real beautiful girl, Melody.  I like you a lot.

        MELODY
Thanks.

        COHEN
        (gets up, grabs gun, begins walking around)
Yup, and this is some place you got here.  Great location.  You like this
house, Melody?

        MELODY
Yeah, I do.  I live here.

        COHEN
Lived here all your life, Melody?

        MELODY
I grew up here.

        COHEN
Got the house from your parents, then?

        MELODY
Yes.

        COHEN
Shame about your parents, huh.

        MELODY
It's a real tragedy.

        COHEN
Why do you think your dad jumped off a bridge?

        MELODY
I don't know.

        COHEN
Yeah, me neither.

        MELODY
We never talked.

        COHEN
I guess not, huh.  You miss him?

        MELODY
A little.

        COHEN
Not too much, huh?

        MELODY
Just enough.

        COHEN
That's real heroic, Melody.

        MELODY
I don't feel heroic.

        COHEN
That's even better.  You're sincere.  You feel sincere.

        MELODY
I don't know what I feel.

        COHEN
Ten hits of acid'll do that to you.

        MELODY
It's not just the drugs.

        COHEN
Yeah, there is no easy escape, is there?

        MELODY
No.

        COHEN
Except jumping off a bridge, I guess.

        MELODY
No!

        COHEN
What about your momma?

        MELODY
What about her?

        COHEN
Didja ever wonder, Melody, if someday you were gonna go crazy, just like her?

        MELODY
No.

        COHEN
Maybe it's in the genes.  You think your sister's crazy?

        MELODY
No.

        COHEN
Not any more than you are, right?

        MELODY
I guess.

        COHEN
You kids twins?

        MELODY
Yes.

        COHEN
Twin crazies.  You kids woulda been a real riot someday, if the world hadn't
ended.

        MELODY
No.

        COHEN
The global infrastructure collapses around you, and you sit up here and take
drugs and make love.  Pretty cozy, huh.

        MELODY
No.

        COHEN
You kids know how to protect each other real good.  Stay safe together.  Never
reproduce the crazy genes, never pass 'em on to crazy twins of your own.
Totally pure, right?

        MELODY
No!

        COHEN
What?

        MELODY
        (rapidly, vehemently)
It isn't pure.  It never was, we never wanted it pure.  That's how we stayed
safe.  You can attack pure, it's easy to see, easy to put a finger on.  But
tainted and bittersweet, there's a power there nobody appreciates.

        COHEN
        (furiously)
Your sister's playing games with you.

        MELODY
I know.

        COHEN
Why do you think she wanted you to open the door, go out onto the front porch,
in the middle of a thunderstorm?

        MELODY
I don't know.

        COHEN
You think she wants to kill herself?

        MELODY
No.

        COHEN
Jump off a bridge? Who gives a fuck, right?  It's the end of the fucking
world!  You should see 'em out there, Melody, you should see the way their
eyes look when they sink their teeth into somebody's throat.  You ever had
bloodlust, Melody?

        MELODY
Bloodlust...

        COHEN
Fucking bloodlust, Melody, you ever wanna taste somebody's blood?  Gimme a
fucking break.  Your mouth, your lips, your teeth are strained with blood,
Melody, lemme tell ya, you and your sister are real beautiful in a sickening
kind of way.  So fucking tragic.  You ever make love to your sister while the
two of you were sharing your cycles?  What's that taste like, Melody?

        MELODY
        (frightened, defensive)
Sweet.

        COHEN
Yeah, you got bloodlust.  You should see 'em out there.  I'm out buying
cigarettes, some nut walks in and says, "That's it!  That's the end of the
fucking world!  They just announced it on TV!"  I go outside, the streets are
packed with cars -- where the fuck are you gonna drive to?  People get out of
their cars and they just start shooting, 'cuz we all know dead bodies make the
traffic move faster.  All the stores, all the houses, fires and looters --
what do you need new clothes for now?  Jesus, I'm just as sensitive as the next
guy, I don't like seeing girls get torn apart after getting fucked by a dozen
guys, I don't like seeing kids ripped apart by machine gun fire, I don't like
showers of burning debris and body parts any more than the next guy!  They're
crazier than you are, Melody!  Course, after about ten minutes or so, you
don't mind so much, you know?  You can get used to anything, the end of the
world or the taste of blood in your mouth.  Somebody comes up, you don't like
the way they look, POW!  You got permission now, nobody gives a fuck, it's the
God damn end of the world!  Ain't no respect left!

(He aims his gun at MRS. WORMWOOD's corpse and fires; MELODY jumps visibly,
LAUREL doesn't react.)

        COHEN
Look at that, only a coupla hours dead and look at all that blood!  Jesus,
it's the best fucking drug I ever had!  (fires two more shots into the corpse)
I could fucking swim in that, Melody!  What about a swimming pool full of
blood, what if I took a coupla hundred fuckers and drained all their blood
into an Olympic size swimming pool?  I deserve that just for thinking about
it!  And there ain't nothing pure about it, is there, Melody.  Nothing but
sickening sweet pollution!  I'll bet your sister tastes real good all right.

(Silence.  MELODY is left quietly crying.  She and COHEN stare at each other
from across the room, LAUREL continues to writhe and moan softly.)

        MELODY
        (desperately)
We've got to get out of here.

        COHEN
        (very sober)
There's nowhere to go.

        MELODY
My mother used to tell us that this entire house was just a space ship, and
someday we'd all blast off into outer space.

(Pause.)

        COHEN
No shit?

        MELODY
No shit.

        COHEN
Are you sure?

        MELODY
That's why you came here, isn't it?

        COHEN
I don't know why I came here.  (pause)  Let's do it.

(They stare at each other a moment longer.  Then, COHEN moves to the couch
while MELODY nudges LAUREL.)

        MELODY
Laurel...

(LAUREL moans a response.)

        COHEN
What should I do?

        MELODY
Clear off the coffee table.  (nudges LAUREL)  Laurel, it's me...

(COHEN begins clearing the table off.  LAUREL's eyes open.  MELODY helps her
sit up a bit.)

        MELODY
Laurel, we're leaving now.

        LAUREL
        (dazed)
I'm sorry...

        MELODY
Don't be sorry.  I'm crying for both of us.

        LAUREL
I opened the door and I stepped out onto the porch.

        MELODY
We're getting out of here.

        LAUREL
It was raining like crazy.

        MELODY
I know, I know.

        LAUREL
I'm sorry...

        COHEN
Now what?

        MELODY
The top of the coffee table comes off.

(COHEN slides the top of the coffee table off, revealing a complex,
futuristic control panel, colorful and lit up.  Lights dim on the scene such
that the couch area now resembles a cockpit.  MELODY sits forward at the
control panel.)

        MELODY
I'm nervous.

        COHEN
Me too.

(MELODY begins working the control panel.  A stern female voice announces:
"Launch sequence has been initiated."  A huge rumbling, low and building, soon
fills the room.  The female voice then says: "Liftoff in five... four...
three... two... one."  The rumbling is suddenly replaced by a tremendous
sustained rocket explosion, painfully loud.  After a good minute or so, the
volume levels off -- the house is now away.  COHEN leaps up and runs to the
window.)

        COHEN
There are fires everywhere!

        MELODY
In another few minutes, we should be in orbit.

        COHEN
        (turns back to her)
I can't believe it works!

        MELODY
        (rises)
I want you to give me the drug you gave Laurel.

(A roar, like twisting metal, is hear.)

        COHEN
Jesus, what was that?  I guess houses make pretty poor space ships, huh.

        MELODY
Give me the drug you gave Laurel.

        COHEN
Shut up about that, will you?

        MELODY
I want it!

        COHEN
Someone's gotta fly this house!

(An electrical flash from behind the couch, followed by a sudden, continuous
burst of some kind of gas into the air.  The spray of gas continues through
the end of the play.)

        COHEN
What the fuck is that?

        MELODY
It's a gas that helps fly the house.

        COHEN
Gas?  Is it toxic?

        MELODY
I have no idea.

        COHEN
Well, what the fuck are we going to do now?

        MELODY
I don't know!

        COHEN
God damn it all to hell, if it's not one thing, it's twenty-three others!

        LAUREL
We're not alone here, Melody.

        MELODY
I know.

        LAUREL
This is what happens when you open the door.

        MELODY
You should have let me go first.

        COHEN
Fix it!  Fix it, you incredible bitch!  We're gonna die out here in outer
space!

        LAUREL
We're a couple of steps to the left, anyway!

(MRS. WORMWOOD suddenly stands up behind the couch, three bullet holes in her
chest and one in her forehead.  Her face and chest are drenched with blood.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Wow, this is one incredible trip, Missy.  I got *some* headache.

(MRS. WORMWOOD puts her face directly into the spray and inhales deeply.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Now THAT is some good shit, kids, I tell ya!  (to COHEN) C'mere, you gotta try
this shit!

(COHEN moves to the spray.  He too inhales deeply.)

        LAUREL
I don't think mother was crazy, do you?

        MELODY
Of course not.

        LAUREL
I love you, Melody.

        MELODY
I love you, Laurel.

        COHEN
        (comes out of the steam with a big smile)
All RIGHT!

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Didn't I tell you?

        COHEN
Aaaaaaahhhhhh!  That's fucking *beautiful*!  Wooooo!

(He fires a shot into the ceiling, sticks his face back into the spray.)

        LAUREL
I get the feeling this was all a set-up, don't you?

        MELODY
I don't think daddy killed himself either.  I think he was pushed.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
C'mere, Missy, you gotta try this!

        COHEN
        (begins dancing slowly about the room)
It's in the air!  It's in our skin!  This is some good shit!

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Don't you wanna be the first on your block?

        COHEN
In-*credible*!

        LAUREL
That's such a strange taste.

        MRS. WORMWOOD + COHEN
Yeee-hooooo!

        MELODY
There are fires all over the place.

        COHEN
Smile, damn it, smile!

        LAUREL
I shouldn't close my eyes.

        MELODY
        (to LAUREL)
Get up off that couch.

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (to COHEN)
I always was a good Catholic.

(She and COHEN laugh at this incredible joke.  LAUREL stands slowly, leaving
the couch for the first time in this play.  While MRS. WORMWOOD and COHEN
banter, MELODY and LAUREL embrace in a violent kiss.)

        COHEN
The price of tea in China... who woulda fucking guessed?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
The penguins are not gregarious.

        COHEN
Yes!  Yes!  (they laugh hysterically for a moment)  Just add water, you know
what I mean?  (coughs violently)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
There's me, stitching like crazy, but it never quite comes to a boil!  Go
figure!

        COHEN
        (coughs)
I need...

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Fucking turkeys shouldn't listen to that stuff anyway.

        COHEN + MRS. WORMWOOD
        (suddenly shouting)
I need to get out of my skin!

(COHEN turns and coughs, drops to his knees; crazy jazz becomes clearly
audible underneath the rocket sounds.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
What the fuck?

        MELODY + LAUREL
        (separating and shouting)
We are not alone here!

(The two of them slowly circle around the couch to the gas spray.)

        COHEN
This is some good shit, let me tell ya!  (coughs)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
        (staggering a bit)
I left my fucking weedeater back there!  God DAMN it!  (drops to her knees)

(LAUREL sticks her face in the spray.)

        COHEN
You kids are BEAUTIFUL, GOD DAMN IT!

        COHEN + MRS. WORMWOOD
The rules are different here!

(LAUREL steps back, exhales; MELODY sticks her face in the spray.)

        COHEN
The rules are--

        COHEN + MRS. WORMWOOD
Prepare to receive!

        LAUREL
Keep singing!

        COHEN
This thing flies itself!

        LAUREL
It's raining outside!

        MELODY + LAUREL
You are not alone here!

        COHEN
You are receiving--

        MRS. WORMWOOD
You are receiving transmissions--

        ALL
Prepare to receive transmissions!

(COHEN coughs horribly; MELODY and LAUREL slowly come out in front of the
couch.)

        MRS. WORMWOOD
And my shrimp fork.  I forgot that too!  (coughs)

        COHEN
This shit is... I can't see a fucking thing...

        MRS. WORMWOOD
We gotta keep singing...

        MELODY + LAUREL
Are you listening?

        COHEN
What the fuck?

        MRS. WORMWOOD
Sing!

        MELODY + LAUREL                 C: That taste in my mouth is
Prepare to receive transmissions.               ridiculous!
You are not alone here.  You are a      MRS. W: I need--
couple of steps to the left.  We        C + MRS. W: I need to get out of
have long awaited this opportunity.             my skin!
We have long awaited this wonder-       C: Where is Euclid now?
ful opportunity.  Please preare         MRS. W: Do you feel sick?
to receive our transmissions.           C: There are so many edges.
Plese prepare to receive our            MRS. W: Smile.  Sing.
transmissions.  The window of           C: I need a hit.
opportunity is short.  We               MRS. W: Just dive right in.
repeat: the window of oppor-            C: Swim in blood, whydontcha.
tunity is short.

(MELODY and LAUREL drop to their knees, so that COHEN, MELODY, LAUREL, and
MRS. WORMWOOD are kneeling in a line across the front of the stage,
addressing the audience.  During the next, each character slowly shows signs
of weakness, brought on by the toxic gas.  All other sound effects are
suddenly replaced by a single, ethereal chord which sustains itself underneath
the following.)

        ALL
        (serenely, angelic smiles)
Welcome, friends.  We have long awaited this window of opportunity.  The
language of your neurochemistry is intriguing and infinitely complex.  It has
taken us aeons to find a way to communicate with you directly, and even now,
we are afraid our efforts have failed.  Our investigations and probings have
demonstrated that only here, in this place a couple of steps to the left, could
we coexist such that our transformation into your language was possible.

(MRS. WORMWOOD collapses, dead.)

        MELODY, LAUREL + COHEN
We are not alone here.  We are together here.  We cannot help you understand,
and you will not survive long enough to understand.  For this, our deepest
apologies.  Our one and only meeting is, as you say, tragic and bittersweet.

(COHEN collapses, dead.)

        MELODY + LAUREL
Please know that we intended you no pain.  We wanted only contact.  We wanted
only communication.

(LAUREL begins to cough.)

        MELODY + LAUREL
Your regular, peaceful brain states prevented you from ever receiving our
messages of hope.  We do not understand why this was so, that we were doomed
to never experience each other.

(LAUREL collapses, still muttering.)

        MELODY + LAUREL
But please know that we wanted only mutual joy and harmony between our races.
Had we been able to dialogue, we would have created the most beautiful garden
in all the universe.

(LAUREL stops speaking; she is dead.  MELODY is severely weakening.  She
collapses onto LAUREL.)

        MELODY
Farewell, then.  Your suffering has been terrible, but we believe your
suffering was valiant and heroic, and our people will revere your memories for
all eternity.  Farewell, beautiful humans.  Dissipate into a cloud of hope.
Farewell.

(MELODY gasps for air, then falls motionless.  We watch the spray of gas into
the air for a miute or two, then the lights slowly fade to black, or
alternately, do not.)
 

End


Scott O. Moore: "The curious story of the figure known as Scotto is worth further exploration. While on the surface, he seems to have fit the mold of the angst-ridden artist of the time, it is apparent that on another level entirely, the man was quite likely insane. He claimed, at various points in his life, that he was in contact with extraterrestrial beings who predicted the end of human civilization, that the Voices in his head were actual entities and not a product of too many psychedelics, that punctuation marks as a group were an organized faction out to subvert reality, that the characters in his fiction had achieved sentience by way of his writing about them (and were not at all pleased with the situation), that the 'willing suspension of disbelief' alluded to in theatre aesthetics was not simply a metaphor but an actual phase transition in spacetime, that the so-called 'memetic attractor' at the heart of the mystic organization known as Leri was 'alive and pulsing,' and most notably, that the attractor which eventually yanked Leri into the Dreamtime and off the planet had reverse engineered Leri's escape, retroactively, by exerting an influence backwards in time. In light of these maniacal ramblings, it is a wonder Scott O. Moore was never struck by a car while crossing the street."

--from the journals of Dr. Nicholas Solitude, circa 2023 (via the Dreamtime)


Email: scotto@braverock.com
Website: http://www.scotto.org/


fiction
nonfiction
plays
poetry

our authors
  meet the editor audio     library     gallery     cozmikast     contact     home