I'm Sorry You're Happy, A body of work created by Mark Charney and Jarred Elrod

MONOLOGUE: “Writerly Concerns”

(presented to begin Volley)

Let’s face it. We are all going to die, each and every one of us. As Kurt Vonnegut says in Slaughterhouse Five, we all search for dignity. Few of us find it, if any, but the search continues.

The trouble with life is that our existence is ultimately about compromise. "Compromise."

Here’s what I want on my tombstone: “He compromised.”

I understand that this may be an unsettling thought, but since I’ve become a father and a husband, I’ve understood all too well the nature of compromise. And I don’t like it.

Writers are by nature selfish, solitary people. They sit alone in front of a computer,dreaming of how best to represent the communities to which they ultimately and ironically do not belong.

It can skew perspective. It can make a man anti social. It can drive you to hate and despair.

Many of you wonder what it’s like to work as a playwright, to actually make a living as a writer. I can only say that those of you who have children can honestly understand. Suddenly, you’re thrust in the position of a teacher or mentor in order to make a living, to share what you know with others about the mysteries of creation. How can you teach creation when you barely comprehend it yourself, when your understanding of life is at best intuitive, personal.

It’s a quandary to be sure, one reflective of the human condition.

Success thrusts us into positions of responsibility, when we’ve just barely learned to take care of ourselves. Success, ironically, assures that we are frauds.

END

Act of Self Reflection
IMAGE RESPONSE 01: The Act of Self-Reflection
Destruction Assured Mutually
IMAGE RESPONSE 02: D.A.M.

DESTRUCTION ASSURED MUTUALLY:

(ROBERT is on a elliptical, attacking it furiously as if only he or the machine can escape this session alive. He is watching the news, talking back to the tv—stuff like, “You can’t be serious!” Or “I don’t fucking believe this!”)

(One elliptical between them, JASON is treating his machine much more kindly. He ambles along, reading a magazine, something like PEOPLE or US. Robert is in the middle of an argument with MAE, a short Asian woman who he seems on the verge of strangling. She stands next to him, and has been watching the news while toweling off. We fear for her, and the treadmill. One of them is certain to be a goner.)

MAE
I don’t know how you can be so cruel!

ROBERT
Easy. Like this. An eye for an eye baby. You cut my dick off; I cut yours.

MAE
I have no dick. But I date one. Most obviously.

ROBERT
Who you calling a dick?

MAE
If the condom fits...

ROBERT
That makes no goddamned sense! (back to the TV) “NO FUCKING WAY!” He pumps harder.

MAE
What makes no sense, you American piece of shit, is that you get off on inflicting hurt. I, at least, have a heart. She snaps off the TV on his elliptical.

ROBERT
She cut him like 30 fucking times, baby, and nearly ripped his head off. Then she claimed she wanted death before imprisonment, and I say fuck yeah! Kill. The. Bitch. If you’re gonna commit murder, then you deserve the same fucking fate.

MAE
By what law?

ROBERT
By the law of Robert Egan.

MAE
It’s not going to happen.

ROBERT
She’s facing a jury, just like me baby, all American--not Asian like you with all your talk of forgiveness, and we’re going to cut her into pieces. Wait and see.

MAE
I will. Because I do not choose to live in a country that rules by barbarianism. If you listen to her testimony, she says she wants to do good things in prison, like donating her hair for wigs and recycling and everything. I mean she even wants to like make t-shirts and work against domestic abuse.

ROBERT
She sold tapes of she and her boyfriend performing sex acts! Who cares if she makes a fucking t-shirt? He pumps harder. MAE She apologized.

ROBERT
Listen. She killed him. She KILLED him. And if she gets prison, she will be out in 25 years, richer than you and me will ever be. You want that?

MAE
They’ll keep her in for life.

ROBERT
25 years baby. Parole. Believe me. (He calls to JASON, who, wearing headphones, does not hear at first.)

ROBERT
Hey. HEY! YOU!

MAE
Don’t bother him.

ROBERT
He’s a common Joe. Just like me. Let’s ask him.

MAE
What?

ROBERT
I tell ya what. He agrees with me, you are my slave for the night; he agrees with you, I buy you dinner.

MAE
We’re on a cruise! Dinner is free. What kind of deal is that?

ROBERT
Shit. Ok, you’re right.

MAE
I refused to date you for like a year, so what makes you think I’d ever be your slave.

ROBERT
You gotta point. But you did start dating me.

MAE
I was desperate.

(Pause.)

Slave to slave. Or no go.

ROBERT
You know what a bad slave I’d make?

MAE
Exactly.

ROBERT
Fuck. OK. Slave to slave. They do some sort of hand gesture to cement the deal, something particular to them as a couple, slightly titillating, slightly inappropriate.

ROBERT
OK. May the best American win. (to Jason) HEY! HEY!

JASON
What? Oh, huh? You addressing me? (he removes headphones).

ROBERT
Yeah man, sorry to bother you, but you following that Jodi Arias case?

JASON
The woman who killed her boyfriend?

ROBERT
Yeah, the slut who lured Travis into some sort of sexcapade and then sliced him into pieces.

MAE
No fair!

JASON
Yeah. I’ve been following it.

MAE
OK, so she’s obviously guilty. We know that. Done deal. And you’re on the jury. Would you sentence her to death or life imprisonment/

ROBERT
/with a chance of parole?! Don’t forget!

MAE
We don’t know that!

ROBERT
Everyone has a chance of parole baby. (to Jason) You gotta admit that in 25 years that bitch will be walking the street, some best seller to her name, richer than we’ll ever be.

MAE
Leading the witness! Listen Mister, we have a bet about how you plan to react. Either you’re like me and want to give her a life sentence, or you’re like my asshole boyfriend who/

ROBERT
/an eye for an eye! That’s what I say!!

JASON
Charles Manson is still in jail. That’s one guy who will NEVER get parole.

MAE
Who’s Charles Manson?

ROBERT
Jesus. That hippie guy that killed a bunch of people in a drug induced coma.

MAE
How can you kill someone if you’re in a coma?

ROBERT
How can you not know Charles Manson?

MAE
You forget. I’m not American.

ROBERT
You were born here. (to Jason) She was born here.

MAE
But I was conceived in Singapore!

JASON
Manson knew what he was doing. He even killed Sharon Tate. And his jury had the audacity to punish him. The bitch had it coming.

MAE
Sharon who?

ROBERT
Wait? What?

JASON
Manson fucking rules dude. He knew all the secrets, and he only shared them with his followers. Like OJ Simpson and James Jones.

ROBERT
Buddy. You got it wrong. We’re talking different decades. We’re asking about Jodi Arias.

JASON
They’re all connected man. All connected. It’s no secret that Manson looked like Jesus. Why do you think? Folks crucified him again. They picked the wrong guy.

MAE
But you said he was still alive?

JASON
Just waiting, waiting for the moment when he will gather the faithful to his side and lead the world to redemption.

(Mae looks at Robert, he at her, and they both signal that they’d best get the hell outta dodge.)

ROBERT
Uhhh, yeah. Well, we’d better/

JASON
Arias is just another one of the flock man. She will be redeemed. And so will that guy from The Following. And Dexter. And Norman Bates. And that woman from SC who drowned her children—what’s her name?

MAE
Susan Smith?

JASON
Yeah. Her. Anyway, yeah, I’m with your girl. Sorry dude. You can’t kill Arias. She needs to join the flocks of followers who will rise up and lead us all. I know I’m going to be first in line.

MAE
Ok. Well...

ROBERT
You sure settled that bet. Thank you so much.

MAE
Yeah. Thanks.

JASON
My pleasure. Anytime.

(Robert and Mae trip over themselves gathering their stuff and disappear as hurriedly as possible.)

(Pause.)

(Jason looks after therm for a moment. Smiles. Then puts on his headphones and begins to amble again, humming to himself.)

The Totally Un-Assuming
IMAGE RESPONSE 03: The Totally Un-assuming

END

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© Elrod & Charney, 2013