Desireless (2)

[Read this out loud, if you can.  All the way through.  Don’t read the brackets out loud; just do what it says]

He crosses the floor, looks into the old shoe box and pulls out an old 45 record from his modest, but meaningful collection.  He slips it from its paper sheath, and smiles to himself as someone who has such a thing in a time when few people still have such things.

He calls over his shoulder to the sleeping figure on the couch, and he stands.  “You awake?”  He is only answered with a soft snore and the shifting of a body on the couch.

He pauses for a moment, flipping the black single over in his hands–ever vigilant and careful to not put his fingers anywhere but on the very edge.  He smiles to himself, takes two breaths and then steps to the record player.

Holding the record carefully in one hand, he lifts the lid of the player with the other, switches it on, and sighs.  He puts the album on the turntable, drops the needle on the record and then strides into the kitchen. [Open this in a separate window and press play now and continue reading]

It plays the first scratchy sounds of nothingness before the rhythmic tapping begins, and a few moments later, the song starts in earnest.  Robert Smith.  The Cure.

He opens the cabinet, pulls out a glass, puts it on the counter with a soft click; reaches for the freezer door, gets a couple of ice cubes, deposits them in his glass and absent minded, puts the half full tray on the counter.  He reaches up into the cabinet, pulls down a bottle of whiskey, pours three fingers of the stuff and puts the cap back on.

He sips it, feels the hot dragon blood of the liquid set fire to his mouth, his tongue, that one sensitive tooth in back and then his throat.  He swallows hard, holds his breath for a few moments (tick tick tick tick) and then lets it out slowly, evenly.

There is little other noise in the house, other than a few soft snores from the couch, the constant hum of a fan, and the click of ice cubes as he drinks (drip drip drip drip drip).  The music is the center of it all, driving, heavy, repetitive.

He finishes the drink, sip by sip by gulp.  Repeats the process of filling it: Ice cubes, whiskey, sip, burn, sigh swallow.

He walks back to the living room, moves her feet to one side, sits down, and then places them, gently on his his lap, closes his eyes and listens.  He listens, sips, listens, and attempts to clear his mind of thought, or for that matter, of care.

It’s all about something, he thinks to himself.  It’s all about something.

It was shaping up to be a much different Saturday evening than he’d imagined.  But that was par for the course, wasn’t it?

He sits and listens until the song plays out, the player arm mechanically, automatically raising and returning to ready position, the turntable slowly spinning to stop.  He rises, puts the song back on, and heads back to the kitchen, pours another.

He sits at the table, sipping fire water, listening to 10:15 Saturday Night and thinks of just what he was expecting of the night.  It’s all about something, right?  It should be about something.

He finishes his drink, sets it down on the dining room table with a soft clunk, stands and walks to the bedroom.  He kicks off his shoes, tears off his socks and flops onto the bed, which is wide, empty and cold.

“You coming to bed?”  He calls out to the dark room beyond.  There is no answer, but the soft stir of a body shifting on the couch, heavy breathing and echoes of a Saturday night.

As his eyes slide close, he drifts into numbness that can only come from the nothing of sleep.

He is stirred from sleep only once, by a distant, mechanical click; if he dreams, he won’t remember them in the morning.

We Do What We Can

[Read this out loud, if you can.  All the way through.  If you can find someone to read it with to take the two parts, even better.  If you have a 3rd person to read the directions, congratulations, you’ve got a full table read.

Don’t read the brackets out loud; just do what it says]

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FADE IN:

INT–A WHISKEY JOINT–NIGHT

The bar is quiet, and dimly lit.  There are a few patrons sprinkled throughout the room, at the bar, at a high-top table, at a booth.  The bartender is busy cutting lemons while the waitress slowly makes her way through the room.

JACK, a tired looking man in his late 30s or early 40s sits in a booth near the jukebox.  He digs through the dregs of a finished drink, fishing through ice cubes.  Finding one he likes, he pops it in his mouth and chews.  He surveys the room.

The bartender looks up from his lemons, and stares off into space for a moment.  His eyes are drawn to the sound of the door opening and banging shut.

EVAN, a scruffy faced, rumpled-suit-wearing man in his early 30s looks around the room, his eyes searching.

Jack’s head pops up.  He raises his hand to half mast.

JACK
Hey…hey, Evan! Over here.

He beckons him over.

EVAN
Hey, man, sorry I’m late.

JACK
No worries.  I got started already.  Hope you don’t mind.

EVAN
No, no, of course not.  What are we drinking?

JACK
Whiskey.  Coke.

Evan takes off his jacket, drops it on the seat and begins rolling up his sleeves.

EVAN
Cool.  Get me one?  Tall, double?  I gotta play catch up.

JACK
Where you going?

EVAN
Music.  This place is killing me, it’s so quiet.  I got this round.

Evan wanders to the jukebox, drops a dollar in and starts pressing buttons as Jack flags down the waitress.

EVAN
What is this?…no, no…nice…

[ Open this link in a separate tab or window and press play now; then continue reading .  Here’s the link:  http://youtu.be/R7f189Z0v0Y ]

Evan presses a couple of buttons on the screen, nods to himself and then plops back into the booth and looks at Jack.

JACK
Where ya been, man?  I escaped family, dishes and dogs to get here…the kids?

EVAN
Sorry about that.  I got distracted.  Blogs.

JACK
So, is that your thing now?  You blogging?

EVAN
I have no idea, man.  I’m just kind of doing it.  Something to stretch my creative muscles…passing the time while I figure out my life.  Figure out a direction.

A BEAT.

JACK
What’s your voice?

The waitress comes by, casually drops coasters on the table and plops two ugly looking whiskey-cokes on top of them before wandering off to send a text.

Evan takes a big pull.

EVAN
What?

JACK
What’s your voice?  What are you writing about?  What do you have to say?

EVAN
I’m not entirely sure…but I’ve been reading some cool stuff, meeting people…

JACK
(sipping)
MMMmm-HMMmm

EVAN
No, really…I was reading through this post about this guy’s relationship with guns–

JACK
What, you’re a gun guy now?

EVAN
Not one of them open carry guys, but I’ve always kinda dug–

JACK
Wait, is this that Pet Shop Boys song?

EVAN
Well, they did a cover…

JACK
(sipping)
This Willie Nelson?

EVAN
Yeah.  Not as lavish as Elvis, but it’s still solid…

JACK
I wouldn’t have pegged you as a country and western man…

Evan shrugs.

JACK
Your well runs deep, huh?

Evan smirks and stares down into his drink.

JACK
Why the sad song, man?

EVAN
It’s not sad…just…mellow.

JACK
You not feeling the love these days?

Evan takes a long pull from his drink and then stares out the window as a woman walks by, texting.

JACK
Seriously, man, you cool?

EVAN
I’m good, man…I’m just… I’ve had a bunch on my plate lately.

JACK
I feel you.  Well, take your time, man.

EVAN
Thanks…

The two men sit there, sipping their drinks, staring out the window at nothing in particular.

FADE OUT

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Testing 1, 2, 3

*tap tap tap tap*

“Is this thing on? Is this on?”

“Man, what are you doing?”

“Testing to see if this thing is on.”

“Yes, it is, and you’re causing feedback.  Stop talking so damn loud, speak in a normal voice and stop tapping on it.”

“Right, my bad.  Sorry…ahem…right.  Hi.  Howdy.  Greetings.  I’m just testing this thing out, stepping up on this platform–for a moment–only for a moment–to see if I should be up here.  So…yeah…here I am.  Hello.”

“OK, kid.  Get down for now.  How does it feel?”

“Weird.  Familiar.  Different.  Indifferent.”

“That’s normal.  You’ve been on this kind of stage before.  You’ll figure out if you need to stand up there again.  Or at all.”

“Yeah.”

“Take a minute.  A day.  Two, even.  Figure it out.  You’ll know.”

“Yeah.  Thanks.  See you later.”