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Authors: Sergio De La Pava

Tags: #Fiction, #General

Personae (6 page)

BOOK: Personae
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CLARISSA: Why?

 

LUDWIG: When?

 

NESTOR: Said that already.

 

LUDWIG: When?

 

NESTOR: Before.

 

LUDWIG: Who?

 

CLARISSA: Me.

 

LUDWIG: Right.

 

NESTOR: Left.

 

CLARISSA: No, wrong. That right.

 

NOT-ADAM: Could we not talk for a while? I’ll take this one.

 

(
He
takes
the
middle
bed.
)

 

CLARISSA: To answer your earlier question the moaning referred to went something like this.

 

(
She
demonstrates
but
the
moans
of
ostensible
pain
soon
take
on
a
decidedly
sexual
aspect
and
as
such
the
moans
soon
entrance
the
room’s
other
inhabitants
including
Charles
who
sits
up
to
get
a
better
look
.)

 

NESTOR: So, Adam, welcome is what we’re saying.

 

NOT-ADAM: (
not
responding
because
staring
at
Clarissa
)

 

NESTOR: Adam?

 

NOT-ADAM: It’s not… (
frustrated
then
resigned
) fine. Thank you.

 

LUDWIG: Just him or all of us?

 

ADAM: (
puzzled
)

 

LUDWIG: Far as thanks go.

 

ADAM: Sorry, thank you
all
for the warm though luke welcome that has served only to add dis to someone who for all his significant difficulties was on entrance at least oriented and combobulated.

 

CLARISSA: Seriously we have far more crucial matters to attend to than the torturing of someone who’s obviously easily disoriented.

 

ADAM: Easily?

 

CHARLES: And discombobulated.

 

LUDWIG: Oh it speaks!

 

NESTOR: Goodness Chuck.

 

CHARLES: Charles for short, I insist.

 

NESTOR: We didn’t take you for possessor of a functioning tongue.

 

LUDWIG: There’s that
we
again, I’ll thank you not to speak for us.

 

CLARISSA: And I’ll thank you (
to
Ludwig
) not to speak for us; perhaps we want him to speak for us.

 

NESTOR: Thank you.

 

CLARISSA: But we don’t, I don’t, don’t speak for me.

 

LUDWIG: For me either.

 

NESTOR: So you guys thought Chuck, uh Charles, could speak…

 

LUDWIG: No.

 

CLARISSA: Not in a million years.

 

NESTOR: yet somehow chose to not utter a solitary syllable in the many months…

 

CLARISSA: Years.

 

LUDWIG: Decades.

 

NESTOR:  . . . he’s been here?

 

LUDWIG: He’s an enigma.

 

CLARISSA: Enigmatic. A mystery.

 

LUDWIG: Mysterious. A riddle.

 

CLARISSA: Ridiculous, subject to ridicule.

 

CHARLES: I’m right here, I can hear you, and it hasn’t been that long.

 

NESTOR: Wait, what do you mean by that?

 

CHARLES: I haven’t been here that long, that meaning.

 

NESTOR: So how long?

 

CHARLES: Feels like I just got here really.

 

(
Nestor
looks
at
the
others
as
if
vindicated.
They
won’t
meet
his
eyes
except
Adam
who
fails
to
see
the
relevance.)

 

CLARISSA: You say
feels
like
but you also recognize that you’ve been here a while, longer than any of us, right?

 

NESTOR: No, I’ve been here the longest.

 

CLARISSA: What are you talking about? I was here when you arrived. I remember it like it was yesterday.

 

LUDWIG: It
was
yesterday!

 

CLARISSA: That’s right, it was. You just got here and already with the bossing everyone around.

 

NESTOR: I remember when Charlie arrived and it was a long time ago.

 

LUDWIG: Years.

 

CLARISSA: Eons.

 

NESTOR: Chuck has always been here and always will.

 

CHARLES: I’m leaving soon.

 

LUDWIG: No he’s never been here and never will.

 

CHARLES: I’m right here.

 

CLARISSA: Charles has never been where he’s going and only gone where he’s been.

 

(
Everyone
ponders
that
a
while.
)

 

ADAM: But where?

 

LUDWIG: Who said that?

 

CLARISSA: The new guy.

 

NESTOR: New guy my ass, he’s been here longer than any of us, even longer than Charles and Charles has never not been here.

 

CHARLES: He sure as Shinola was here when I arrived.

 

ADAM: Where when you arrived?

 

CHARLES: What?

 

LUDWIG: Who invited this guy?

 

ADAM: (
to
Charles
) When you arrived where?

 

CHARLES: Here! What’ve we been talking about? (
looking
to
the
others
for
support
) Believe this?

 

ADAM: But where is here?

 

LUDWIG: Right here. (
gesturing
) See? (
all
laugh
)

 

ADAM: But what is this? Where are we?

 

(
Laughter
stops
abruptly
and
the
ensuing
silence
is
extended
and
palpably
meaningful
.)

 

NESTOR: (
to
Ludwig
) You were saying?

 

LUDWIG: I wasn’t.

 

NESTOR: What?

 

LUDWIG: Saying.

 

NESTOR: What’d you say?

 

LUDWIG: I didn’t say anything. You were saying
you
were
saying
and I was saying I wasn’t saying. (
Pointing
to
Clarissa
) She was saying (
pause
) just saying.

 

NESTOR: Fine (
to
Clarissa
) you were?

 

CLARISSA: Saying? I was saying that when we say, say, what
was
I saying?

 

NESTOR: Exactly.

 

LUDWIG: Well that’s settled then, off we go.

 

(
No
one
moves.
)

 

CHARLES: Besides it’s not where we are it’s
what
we are and the answer is brains in a vat.

 

NESTOR: We debunked that already, weren’t you listening?

 

CHARLES: Listening as we debunked brains in a vat? No, missed that.

 

CLARISSA: Debunked is too strong, as I recall much spoke in its favor.

 

LUDWIG: Much indeed, great intuitive appeal.

 

CHARLES: Which one was brains in a vat again?

 

CLARISSA: Which one? How about the one you just declared the truth.

 

CHARLES: I know, and I remember being persuaded, just not very strong on the particulars right now, refresh please.

 

NESTOR: Brains in a vat, the thesis that we, the inhabitants of this room, are merely…

 

CLARISSA: Certainly there was no definitive debunking.

 

LUDWIG: None.

 

ADAM: Of what? Where are we? Or, fine,
who
are we? Why? Are we.

 

CHARLES: We’re brains in a vat.

 

NESTOR: That has not been established!

 

ADAM: The hell’s a vat?

 

CHARLES: A vat is like a, you know, vat-like structure where, like, brains, mostly of a certain philosophical bent, are held and then… what do I know I’m just a brain in a vat!

 

LUDWIG: He’s got you there.

 

CLARISSA: You know those things called books Adam? It helps if you crack one open occasionally. Brains in a vat refers to the notion that while we believe ourselves to be corporeal beings moving through a physical world and experiencing heat, cold, pain…

BOOK: Personae
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