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Authors: Sergio De La Pava

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Personae (7 page)

BOOK: Personae
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CHARLES: Desolate loneliness.

 

CLARISSA: . . . in truth we are merely disembodied brains being stimulated in a manner that creates these illusions.

 

LUDWIG: By an evil genius.

 

CLARISSA: Not really a necessary component.

 

LUDWIG: Who else would engage in such a stimulation?

 

CHARLES: Is it me then or is the evil genius making it a bit cold in here?

 

ALL: It’s you.

 

CHARLES: It is me isn’t it? After all this, the ups the downs, the ins and outs, it’s just me I’m left with and what I’m left with is not the greatest notion of who exactly it is I am.

 

ADAM: Well it was nice meeting you all but I’m afraid I’m going to be leaving now.

 

LUDWIG: You should be afraid, that’s the first thing you’ve said since you got here made any sense.

 

ADAM: I’m leaving. Goodbye.

 

(
He
doesn’t
move.
)

 

CLARISSA: So long Adam.

 

CHARLES: Sooo long.

 

NESTOR: Long enough, certainly.

 

ADAM: I’ll stay… a bit longer I think.

 

(The
rest
all
look
at
each
other,
not
the
slightest
bit
surprised.)

 

CHARLES: Don’t worry folks I remember who I am now.

 

LUDWIG: And the news is?

 

CHARLES: Good I think. When I was sixteen, at considerable risk to myself, I pulled a drowning child from a seriously turbulent river. I’m not even claiming it was selfless but I so enjoyed the feeling that following the Marines I did swift water rescue for a dozen years until my body stopped letting me.

 

CLARISSA: Bodies will do that. You zig one way, they zag the other.

 

LUDWIG: Tyrannical is what they are.

 

CHARLES: Wait until you’re dealing with one like this.

 

NESTOR: Never will. I plan to exhaust mine until it quits suddenly. There will be none of this… mechanical extension.

 

CLARISSA: That’s good news Charles. Who you were,
are
.

 

CHARLES: I used to say that Nestor. I never wanted to be hooked up to this stuff. I used to talk tough man. Problem is the moment comes and it’s hook up or check out. You know what? You hook up.

 

NESTOR: I find that when people tell me how I’m going to react to a given situation, they’re invariably wrong.

 

CLARISSA: Never mind him Charles, you did the right thing hooking up.

 

NESTOR: Not when there’s nothing can be done!

 

LUDWIG: What are you talking about? There’s always something can be done. There’s respirators, ventilators…

 

CLARISSA: Refrigerators.

 

LUDWIG: Defibrillators, fibrillators as well obviously. Elevators, alligators…

 

CLARISSA: Incinerators.

 

ADAM: Impetuators.

 

NESTOR: Okay, that’s not a word.

 

CHARLES: My wife, many years, used to say that she would die, I would die, but
we
would never die.

 

NESTOR: Why doesn’t she say things like that anymore?

 

CHARLES: She died.

 

NESTOR: As will you and as did the plural you at the time of your wife’s.

 

LUDWIG: You don’t know that.

 

NESTOR: Oh I don’t?

 

LUDWIG: No, not
know
.

 

NESTOR: No?

 

LUDWIG: A military hospital ICU Adam. To answer your question.

 

NESTOR: Where’d you get military from?

 

CLARISSA: Military’s your objection? Where’d he get
any
of it from? Who says it’s an ICU at all?

 

LUDWIG: You don’t feel the care we’re getting in this unit is intensive?

 

CLARISSA: Correct.

 

LUDWIG: Because I do. Hence the ICU.

 

NESTOR: Wrong, this is an assisted living…

 

CHARLES: Dying.

 

NESTOR:  . . . facility.

 

CLARISSA: In which no one is being assisted in any way? This is an insane asylum Adam. That’s why you see so much disagreement. You can scarcely get sane people to agree on anything nowadays.

 

CHARLES: I agree.

 

LUDWIG: Me too.

 

NESTOR: I disagree.

 

CLARISSA: (
looking
at
Adam
) See?

 

CHARLES: Why do you care? Seriously, let’s get down to it, why?

 

ADAM: Why do I care where I am? Doesn’t seem a minor careless thing.

 

NESTOR: He speaks carefully, if anyone cares.

 

LUDWIG: Well then Adam, today’s you’re lucky day…

 

NESTOR: Night.

 

LUDWIG:  . . . (
motioning
with
chin
towards
doorway
) because here’s your answer.

 

(
All
look
at
doorway
but
there’s
nothing
there.
They
look
back
at
Ludwig
not
understanding,
then
back
at
the
entryway.
Nothing.)

 

CLARISSA: If this
were
an insane asylum wouldn’t we, the insane, be the last to know?

 

NESTOR: Right, so your belief it is proves it isn’t.

 

LUDWIG: Thought we agreed, more or less, on the vat.

 

CHARLES:
We
would never die she would say but I’m afraid it didn’t prove so.

 

NESTOR: You’re
afraid
it didn’t or it didn’t.

 

CHARLES: It didn’t, and as a result I’m afraid.

 

CLARISSA: (
walking
over
to
Charles
and
placing
her
hand
on
his
shoulder
) I don’t think there’s any reason for fear Charles.

 

NESTOR: (
aside
to
audience)
I see ample reason, and little reason for anything else. And where none exists, I’ll create.

 

CHARLES: We fear what we don’t know and I fear we do so rightly.

 

LUDWIG: I fear nothing and if anyone has less to fear than me it’s you.

 

CHARLES: You mean
more
to fear than you.

 

LUDWIG: (
unsure
) Maybe.

 

CLARISSA: There’s no reason for fear of any level, tell them Adam.

 

NESTOR: Don’t answer that Adam, they’re just trying to scare you.

 

ADAM: I’m not scared at all.

 

NESTOR: Why do you think they’re trying so hard?

 

CHARLES: I’m not scared either, thank you Clarissa. And I was wrong before when I said she’d died, that Linda had died. Linda wouldn’t leave me like that, she’ll be back. She said to wait here for her and that’s what I intend to do. Her hand will be in mine again, I just have to wait here. Placidly.

 

LUDWIG: Not sure this is the kind of place where you can just peacefully wait.

 

CLARISSA: Why not? The machines are working. You wait right here Charles. Your hand will envelop hers again.

 

NESTOR: Abandoned by your love, or let’s just say by Love as an entity entire.

 

CHARLES: Love hasn’t abandoned me… yet.

 

NESTOR: Because there is no love.

 

CHARLES: There is. I felt it before and I’ll feel it again. I just have to wait here.

 

LUDWIG: Because out of even the bleakest darkness there must emerge a light.

 

CLARISSA: You wait right here baby, Love will be back.

 

(
She
walks
away
from
Charles’s
bed
and
to
Adam
and
Ludwig
whom
she
addresses
in
a
whisper.
)

 

I’m worried about him, he has a distant look in his eyes I haven’t seen before.

 

LUDWIG: On anyone?

 

CLARISSA: On… him… I guess, what’s the difference?

 

LUDWIG: Want me to talk to him?

 

CLARISSA: Might be best.

 

ADAM: Excuse me, am I missing something? What good is talk going to do? He needs medical attention.

 

LUDWIG: You see all the machines, soulless blips and bleeps, what more do you want?

 

ADAM: I don’t know, a
person
? Preferably one trained in medicine who would examine Charles and determine what if any salutary effect the machines are having and what adjustments should be made. Let’s get someone like that in here.

 

(
Ludwig
and
Clarissa
look
at
each
other
but
say
nothing.
Adam
is
awaiting
a
response
but
gets
none.
Instead
Ludwig
and
Clarissa
sit
resignedly
on
a
nearby
bed.
In
the
meantime
Nestor
has
made
his
way
over
to
Charles
and
sits
near
him
so
that
only
Charles
can
hear
his
words.
)

 

NESTOR: Comfortable Charles? (
Charles
nods
affirmatively
) Because I think I have to level with you. Now I’m not a doctor, of course, but I’ve played one in various productions and I must say that I don’t like what I see when I look at your charts. (
Charles
looks
around
but
as
he
suspected
there
are
no
charts
in
the
vicinity
) You understand that as time draws to a close we either go out like docile lambs or we roar against it like lions. These are machines, heartless and cold, they can’t help you when the moment comes. What comes into play then is your will. It’s not coincidence it’s called your last
will
and testament right? Your last moments are a testament to your will. What’s yours Charles? (
silent
pause
) You need to leave this room.

 

CHARLES: No, I’m to wait here for her return.

 

NESTOR: Whose return?

 

CHARLES: Uh… she’ll be back.

 

NESTOR: You don’t remember her name do you?

 

CHARLES: (
confused
) Uh…

 

NESTOR: Because it’s lunacy to wait here for someone you don’t know.

 

CHARLES: (
insulted
) I don’t know my wife now?

 

NESTOR: She’s certainly moved on by now, married someone else. There’s only so much you can expect from a person.

 

CHARLES: No she wouldn’t do that. Wait here she said. She said wait here.

 

NESTOR: That’s silly Charles. That’s what they always say, don’t you see?

 

CHARLES: No.

 

NESTOR: They say wait here, don’t move, I’ll be back. You know what the intent is?

 

CHARLES: To get me not to move?

 

NESTOR: Exactly. You don’t find that suspicious?

 

CHARLES: She doesn’t want me to move so that when she returns I’ll be here and we’ll be reunited.

 

NESTOR: Nonsense, you were never
united
in the first place. A proper union lasts forever and a truly eternal bond cannot be severed as easily as yours was.

 

CHARLES: There was nothing easy about it.

 

NESTOR: That’s what you’re dealing with here Charles, I’m surprised someone of your experience doesn’t know better. Her lips moved and out came
wait
here
for
me,
don’t
move,
I’ll
be
back
. But what moved were the lips of a woman. Why do you think women’s lips are so beautiful? To distract us from what escapes them, expelled by the serpentine tongue lying behind.

 

CHARLES: No, you don’t know her.

 

NESTOR: I know
of
her. I know she’s a woman, why else would you be so worked up? Ask yourself this. Who’s been her biggest defender? Clarissa right? What a coincidence, the only woman here. They stick together man. Can you deny it?

 

CHARLES: I…

 

NESTOR: Now the sun shines on those who take action Charles. Stand in the dark and wait for harm and it will assuredly come.

 

CHARLES: (
shakes head slowly
)

 

NESTOR: But I’m sure you’re right Charles, don’t mind me. The things I’m saying are generalizations and as such they necessarily exclude
some
truth. You know the specifics well, making you well within your rights to tell me I’m mistaken and all is well.

 

CHARLES: You’re mistaken, all is well.

 

NESTOR: See? I’m not upset to be mistaken. On the contrary, I’ve rarely been more relieved to be wrong. Feelings of insecurity are normal and don’t necessarily portend anything untoward. The more I think of it the more certain I become that you’re in the right Charles. You stay right here and wait, everything can still work out. And I’m going to be sitting right here, next to you,
every
step of the way. (
Nestor
stands
up
and
walks
away.
)

 

(Nestor joins the others on the other side of the room. Adam has sat on the bed opposite Clarissa and Ludwig and he now moves over to make room for Nestor who sits next to him.)

 

CLARISSA: We’re trying to decide what to do.

 

NESTOR: What about?

 

LUDWIG: We haven’t decided. That is to say, we’ve decided to
decide
, we just haven’t decided the actual decision yet.

 

CLARISSA: What’s he saying over there?

 

NESTOR: He wants to leave, I’m trying to talk him out of it.

 

CLARISSA: Thank you Nestor.

 

NESTOR: He says not to bring it up to him anymore.

 

ADAM: Why can’t he leave.

 

LUDWIG: We’re not saying he
can’t
are we?

 

ADAM: Why shouldn’t he then?

 

LUDWIG: Why didn’t you leave when you said you were going to?

 

ADAM: I… changed my mind.

 

NESTOR: Yeah if I had yours I’d try to change it too.

 

LUDWIG: We’re in a safe place and once safety is achieved movement can only imperil that.

 

CLARISSA: This is not a safe place, we’ve had substantial evidence of that. This is a… strange place… where time seems to accelerate exponentially and the feel is of neither destination nor launch but rather of… stasis.

 

ADAM: What
do
we know?

 

LUDWIG: Or is it, what do
we
know?

 

NESTOR: I think it best now that Ludwig and I go on that investigation we were about to commence when we were so rudely interrupted by Adam.

 

CLARISSA: Yes, that might be best. Plus that will give Adam and me some time to catch up.

 

ADAM: Catch up? We just met.

 

CLARISSA: Exactly, think how much catching up that makes for.

 

LUDWIG: Remember that time Adam thought this was an insane asylum?

 

ADAM: I never…

 

NESTOR: That was hilarious.

 

LUDWIG: What a clown, way to project.

 

CLARISSA: Okay so he was reaching. But the fact remains that unless one of us is willing to posit something compellingly plausible we’re in no position to criticize. In other words, he gets points for trying.

 

ADAM: I didn’t try.
You
said…

 

CLARISSA: Not a lot of points mind you but
points
. More than
we’ve
been able to accumulate at any rate.

 

LUDWIG: It
was
a good point when he said that if this were an insane asylum that would make us insane and therefore not really fit to recognize it as such.

 

ADAM: I didn’t… (
giving up
) thank you.

 

LUDWIG: You’re welcome.

 

NESTOR: Welcome to stop throwing out wild conjectures that only serve to impede us in our search for truth.

 

LUDWIG: If your true and honest sole concern is that search then why are you so resistant to what Adam is saying? That our failure to discover that truth is the strongest evidence extant that it simply doesn’t exist.

 

ADAM: When did I say that?

 

LUDWIG: Not that truth exists but is somehow inapplicable to our present predicament but rather the greater inescapable conclusion that the larger concept being referred to simply doesn’t exist. There is no truth.

 

CLARISSA: Now who’s stretching?

 

NESTOR: Seriously, without truth what intelligent could we say about your just-concluded statement that it doesn’t exist?

 

LUDWIG: You could intelligently say about it and everything surrounding it that it is meaningless.

 

ADAM: But would it be
true
?

 

NESTOR: Oh! The new guy contributes.

 

LUDWIG: Against all
odds
.

 

NESTOR: To draw
even
.

 

CLARISSA: A
prime
point, he’s had a
number
of them.

 

NESTOR: Okay that’s enough.

 

CLARISSA: You’re right. You two need to go on that investigation now. Only make it meticulous with an obsessive’s attention to detail and an evident love of craft throughout.

 

NESTOR: Our investigation’s over.

BOOK: Personae
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