Here is a video of my monologue “There is Life to Do”, performed on June 4th, 2016 by Sam Perry (as the bartender). Tracy McQuillan plays the bar patron. The Strand Project is a collaboration between Lit Youngstown and Selah Dessert Theatre.
“Dad, what does the letter say?”
Jimmy saw his Dad collapse in the chair. The envelope was on the floor. Tony had the letter in his hand, his arm on the chair, eyes closed.
“Dad, what’s wrong?”
Tony expected the letter sooner or later. The protests delayed it, but he knew that the builders always got their way.
“Jimmy, I have some very bad news. The builders are going to tear down our block and put up a shopping center. We have to move.”
“Where are we moving to?”
Tony thought for a few seconds about how to answer this simple question.
“Get the guitar tech over here, you know, whatshisname.”
What Tony says, must be obeyed. Sometimes, anyway.
Mike got up out of his chair and shouted backstage, “Yo, JJ, get your butt over here.”
Jonny James played guitar in a high school band. JJ thought he was a good player, but he knew he would never make it in the world of professional musicians. And that was ok, it was really, really, ok.
JJ loved the guitar. He knew everything about them. JJ could talk for hours about the type of guitars and amps that Hendrix used. People learned quickly to not get him started on the circuits in Clapton’s wah-wah pedal. JJ loved changing capacitors.
Mike was the road crew manager. JJ worked for him for over a year, going here and there with different bands. It was a life.
She thought she heard a knock at the back door.
A dream, perhaps? It was a cold night, but warm under the blankets. She opened one eye.
2:05am. No one ever knocked at the back door. Sleep was so inviting…
Another knock. The wind picked up. Maybe something banged against the door? Two eyes this time.
2:14am. That was it, the wind. I’m going to the park tomorrow, I’ve got to pack a lunch…
Two more knocks. Eyes wide.
2:22am. Ok, what the hell?
There were a dozen tents in an open field. Sergeant Tare Radost decided this is where he would be, so there they were. Around him was a portable fence and twenty-five men doing their national duty. Ditches were being dug, wires strung, rifles cleaned.
Private Leo Baldwin was worried. Boot camp had been rough, and now here he is, digging a ditch, waiting.
“Cory,” he said, “I don’t know about this mission. You said we’re going to the center of the village?”
Corporal Cordura Abocado had been assigned to Radost for six months. He told his wife that it felt like six years.
Abocado intoned the Army line: “We have to deliver a message to the tribal chief, and we have to make a showing of it.”
“So, the Sergeant thinks that we have to put on this act of bravery to keep our credibility here? “
“That’s not how to look at it.”
How should this be looked at, Abocado thought to himself. I report to a crazy damn bastard who doesn’t give a shit if he lives or dies.
Silence had fallen. The trees were bare, and there was no rustling in the wind. Low, dark, empty clouds could be seen moving beyond the treeline in the fading light. High clouds covered the sky. He was soaked from the storm. The cold gripped him, pushed him, admonished him. Mountains all around, the lake behind, every direction looked the same. With luck, the stars would be a guide tonight, the Milky Way pointing.
Johannes started shaking, first from cold, then from fear. Control, control, he thought. Decisions had to be made, one step, then another. Remember your father’s fireplace, he thought, remember the family hearth. Control your fear, choose your destiny, survive one minute, one hour, one day, each one different.
Just as the sun disappeared, the clouds above him started to part.
Choose your destiny, he thought, but the clouds had their own.
“Your destiny, please.”
The synthetic voice, female to most who hear it, had been asking this question for hundreds of years.
The voice had been programmed to wait 10 seconds before asking again. Most who hear the voice respond quickly, as each person has had a lifetime to think about their answer.
Only a few choices are available, on this planet that the off-world colonists call the Pale Brown Dot. Earth had been off-limits to the colonists for 1,500 years, when the seas turned fetid, the land was covered in filth, and the air became misnamed.
Those remaining on the planet found, within the shrinking Survival Zone, that recycling was the only option.
“Dr. Green, your destiny, please.”