May 14, 2010

Act 3.

Scene: Late at night in outer Sunset District. You're crossing 47th and Kirkham. You can hear the surf breaking down the street. The neighborhood is dark, dead. Waiters and teachers, TV technicians, the retired, people on disability, half-way house boys, sexual predators on early release, they're all asleep.

Suddenly a car comes careening down 47th Avenue, radio blaring. It's George Noory on Coast to Coast am, talking to a guest about the probability that one country or another is soon going to release public documents detailing communications with aliens. "We all know what's been going on," says the guest. "It's just a matter of time. Russia is the most likely country to open the floodgates."

You've read these stories of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the leader of the Buddhist Kalmykia region of Southern Russia, and president of the World Chess Federation, who claims he met with aliens in 1997. They appeared on the balcony of his Moscow apartment. His driver, his aid and a minister saw the whole thing. Then in 2001, Ilyumzhinov was invited to look around a UFO. Invited by who? And under what circumstances? But this is the fear. What if Ilyumzhinov sat down with an alien provocateur and talked? He knows state secrets. Did he say anything about the scalar wave weaponry or the new aircraft carrier. Andrei Levedev, an MP for the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, has written Medvedev raising fears about what might have been compromised. There have to be procedures for what high-ranking officials can say to these creatures.

“I think this is the start of a new era, I really do,” says the guest on Coast to Coast. But you wonder, what if Hawking is right? What if this time we're the native peoples who will be raped and pillaged?

All this is happens in an instant, and as you reach the curb to avoid being run down, you look over your shoulder to see the car passing and then suddenly a white blinding light inside. Like phosphorus. Then smoke. The smell of burning. The smoke clears. The driver has disappeared. What kind of magic is this? The empty car keeps rolling down the street until it hits a parked truck. George Noory is still talking. Packs of raccoons trundle on. Dogs bark. The dining room light goes on in a blue house.

Act 2.

Scene: An hour earlier. Japanese sushi joint on the corner of Bush and Grant. Across from the Triton Hotel, where the bar looks like Helnwein's Hopper, not much going on. No Bogart, No Monroe. No James Dean. Nothing, save a tall thin blond with a guy. They look restless. Rich but restless. They're outside, they stand up from the table, they're trying to figure something out, she's shaking her head, they leave glasses half full. Across the street, in sushiville, two sushi chefs are having a good laugh at the expense of two customers in their early 30s. Both drunk. These two toast the chefs. The chefs giggle. The drunks want the chefs to share a toast. The chefs look at the two women who run the place. The older one visits every table. "You have everything you need, right." she says, and this is not a question. The younger woman, very tall, very pretty, very sexy, with the top two buttons of her black blouse undone, she brings food. There's a trick going on here somewhere, you can feel it, but what is it? All you know is that this is not what it appears. The movie is out of synch; the dubbing is off. For one, the two drunks are talking too much. They’re investment bankers telling tales out of school, about how they’re still making money hand over fist. "Thank god for the Crash," they say and raise a toast to the crash. "Thank god for derivatives", they say and raise a toast to derivatives. 'Hats off to Larry,' one of them says. Everybody laughs. Everybody's happy. The chefs are running their little 'we-get-you-real-drunk-so-you-buy-more-expensive-saki scam' and the women are running their little 'look-at-Japanese-cleavage-and-leave-me-big-tip scam’. Outside, a bus boy from the Triton is putting the garbage out. At the Grant Street entrance to Chinatown, a hand full of tourists scurry back to the parking garage. The homeless are curling up in the alcoves. The wind is picking up. Street lights seems less bright. The city's eyes keep closing.

Act 1

Scene: Half an hour earlier. A focus group at 250 Sutter. Second floor. Six people around a conference table. All ages. Three men, three women. Plus the facilitator. Plus somebody behind the two way glass. General Foods? General Mills? General Petreus? Who knows. The facilitator has flown in from Chicago. She has long straight red hair. She's an anthropologist. She likes everybody's collage and the diary that each person kept for a week recording their 'celebrations.' In the instruction manual it said, "We want you to have fun. Tell us the moments when you celebrated something? Tell us the props and brands you used? What made it special? Tell us the food and beverages you consumed. Tell us about the moments when you weren't celebrating. When you were dreaming, or even barely alive. When you were lying in your bed dying, when you got back from Falluja without your head? What was the non celebration like? You know what I’m talking about —that seam moment between celebration and non." So after all that — "and don't forget to add the music you listen to and send photos so we can feel your celebration" — the facilitator turns serious. She combs her hair with her fingers. As though she is going to say, 'I don't know how I'm going to ask you this, but you just have to bear with me.' She shakes her head. "I want everybody to take a deep breath," she says. "Okay, last question, and I want to thank you all for being here tonight. But now tell me this, how do we feel about chips? Do we think chips are passe? I mean seriously, do we not care about chips anymore?" People look up at the ceiling. They cup their chins. They shift in their seats. Brows furrow. Lips pucker. A woman takes off her shoe. "Oh and I forgot to add," the facilitator goes on. "Do we all understand that I'm talking about potato chips?"


Anonymous said...

I like it it's new and beautiful better than Neil labute's plays

D.L. Franklin said...
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macnamband said...
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Anjuli said...

I can definitely get lost in your words. Whether it be fiction or non fiction, you definitely know how to capture the reader.