Thursday, November 02, 2017

Trick or Treat


Seems like Halloween rolls around and my life spirals out of control. It must be the rolling round orange pumpkin takes all my inhibitions for the year and pops them and pumpkin juice gets everywhere. Seeds, pulp, goo.

My specialty seems to be terrible relationships, or maybe not terrible, just passionate, undirected, explosive, loving, well intentioned, alive.

One year I had to take a tv in to get fixed right after Halloween because it broke. The TV guy said what happened when I dropped it off. He had to put something on the fixit paper. I said you’ll never believe it. He said try me. He’d heard it all. I said a pumpkin melted on it.

His pen hovered over the page. He hadn’t heard that one.

My boyfriend at the time and I had a tumultuous thing because he was organized and had a walkie talkie and was used to ordering things up and around, and I was kind of relieved to be ordered up and around, and liked it for awhile until I had my own ideas that couldn’t be ordered or around anymore, and then I went off with someone else. It had been close to Halloween, and we had a fight, and a week or so after Halloween I was back in his apartment in West Hollywood, a little nook of somewhat straight on super gay Harper street, and we’re back together for the moment and he comes out of the tiny strip of kitchen with this frozen pumpkin, steaming in the regular-degreed air.

When our fight had happened, we had carved a pumpkin, but I had missed Halloween, so he had put the pumpkin in the freezer to save it, just in case we worked things out, sweetly, so we wouldn’t actually miss Halloween. And now here was the pumpkin like the undead (not unlike our relationship, derailing into over) – the idea of the pumpkin was so sweet – he saved it for us, it was still possible, but the reality of the pumpkin was it was freezing, and had icicles, and it smelled weird and it was like preserving something dead. When he carried it out to me, I thought Ohhhh, in that sweet way, and the closer it got, the more scared I felt because it was a cold pumpkin, it was like an old body part, and Halloween was over.

You can’t freeze and then retry the relationship.

We did anyway, of course, because people do, because he had hope, and since he had a walkie talkie and seemed to know what he was doing all the time, and his apartment was cute, and I was 22, and I loved him, in the best version of love I had at the time, I had hope, so we put a candle in the pumpkin, put it on the tv, ate some candy (trick or treat), laughed and rolled around in the bed, watched a movie probably or went out with our little group of friends, and then went to bed.

The next day I woke up and the pumpkin had deflated, mashed down like a melted orange clown mask, disgusting, old, lumpy, and runny, right into and through the tv. He had to go to work on some show called China Beach where he sat in a lonely road all day and stopped cars from going when they were shooting, for 14 hours. Copy that. Hold traffic. Copy that. Release traffic. So he said can you take in the tv.  As he removed what was left of the pumpkin, in chunks, into the trash. Can you drop it off to get fixed.

I told all this to the fixit guy.

That is a new one, he said.

I never watched another movie on that tv. I don’t know if he ever got it back. The pumpkin was stronger than the tv could handle, even when it was off.

Probably some other girlfriend picked it up. I think her name was Heather. I think they were sitting on the road together, with the walkie talkies.  Sitting in their beginning, while I was in the middle of cleaning up the ending.

Then there was the famous Halloween 26 years ago when I fell in love with my friends. That’s been documented, explored, ruined, resurrected, and never quite lost.  We didn’t mean for that to happen either, it was a love match gone awry, and then I married one of them. Then I spent the next 26 years wondering how I could make that happen again . Trying to fill in the holes that relationship left, trying valiantly, like I’m a farm peasant trying to be Joan of Arc but no queen is knighting me. Then I’m not actually an heroic saint, turns out, just actually a farm boy with only voices in only my head.

And then this Halloween, and I’m demanding more from my life, I’m exploded open again. I’m searching around for how to gather the rest of me, all of me, and unite my one person, using the people that know me, my best audience from over the years. I have my tall leggy ex boyfriend who will play any  physical game with me – Frisbee, darts, surfing, bagel eating, writing, moviemaking but there is not the level I am looking for, it is one level and it’s satisfying, and maybe we’ll have a career. And then there’s the other old boyfriend, the poet nudging me – don't worry, it's just soul, listen to it talking to you. I listen to the poetry, that voice, and that is a strong force – have you listened to ee cummings? There’s not much else you can do, when you listen to ee cummings, except unfold yourself and offer yourself to God, to nature, to beauty. ee’s poems are recipes, but all of it is made by me, all of it is scripted, produced and acted in by me. And these are just the people I could remember best. And of course, none of it matters because aren’t I pretty much gay anyway?

I know where this is heading because I’m the producer. I’m trying like hell to run away from my life in increments, because the kids are running away, like they’re supposed to do. I’m trying what I always did, which was GET OUT FIRST, before the pain comes. There isn’t any sure way to outrun pain, there’s only different ways to be hit by it. If I disrupt my family because I need more, then my family suffers. I wrote to my friend, from one of the Halloweens,  I said I feel like I’ve been stuffing my life into all these holes and it keeps pouring out like sorry wrong number.

In reality, I have this thick and serious life, and everything is so important that it scares me.  Also I know I have more to me, and I know my time is ticking away, and I want to do it all, and I want to be able to afford it. I want ALL the love, and I want ALL the power, and I want ALL the beauty. I’m trying to slam on the brakes of my life, and accelerate at the same time. Good for writing, not good for all the good people surrounding me.

Halloween opened me up 26 years ago, and I have never recovered. Or maybe that’s what I’m here to do, which is write about why. Feel it all, and tell people what happened.

The point is, it doesn’t matter who you love, or how many ways you try, or if the great pumpkin flattens you, or melts, or tricks you into staying up all night with your two friends and feeling tangled with them forever.  It’s just Halloween, and we are all just kids dressing up and wandering in the dark, with some kind parents doing their best guiding us a little bit up the road. Sometimes the parents have whiskey in their coffee. Sometimes they can’t make the trip cause they’re too fat or they have diabetic feet. Sometimes there’s a massive leak at the house and someone has to stay and fix it instead of getting candy. Sometimes you get to walk in the dark in the clump of kids and community you created, walking those same three streets, getting to hold the neighbor’s dog, scooping out the candy in handfuls, the one weird night a year where everyone on the street cares about the same world series game because we’re in it, and everyone’s dressed the way they aren’t normally, or the way they want to be, and sometimes it’s scary, but it’s all just for fun, and if it isn’t exactly the way you planned it, you might as well love it.

No matter what you do, or who you are, it will always roll around again next year.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Play Dough

I have a friend reading poetry to me when I feel city trapped, and desperate for beauty. This is a kind thing. The poetry, and the laughter. The poetry makes me love words, and the words weave together in my brain like a hot towel, sunlit. I feel steadied, a cat on a couch, curled up strong and content.

I have another friend who is playing Frisbee with me. We meet in a park and we are like Labradors. We are serious Frisbee-ers. Perfecting our throws. Far apart. Concise. Lofty. Straight and level. I like to play until I'm so thirsty I have to stop. We cuss and say stupid stuff, and the grass is always wet on my bare feet. I like especially running for the Frisbee, it's the only time I think of running. It's spinning and flying and I have to get it and I turn into a deer.

I've been needing to play. I spend so much time tending, and trying to keep up, I got a little lost. I'm rebalancing.

The playing has helped me write, which is also playing.  I hope the writing will turn into money. This is my goal. Play=dough.

In the meantime, I gather all the poetry and playing that I can stuff into myself.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Home on the Range



Home on the Range
a short play by Juliet Myfanwy Johnson

(Dark. The Old West, 1880. A rooster
crows. A bare wooden room with a
fireplace and a loft. HATTIE and
KENNETH, 28, modern thinkers in an old
time, sleep under a quilt below the
loft.)
KENNETH
Oh my God.
HATTIE
It's not that bad.
KENNETH
Fuck it isn't.
HATTIE
Kenneth. The children.
KENNETH
Ughhh.
(Rooster crows again)
KENNETH
(continuing)
Can't we just eat that thing? Then we could sleep
longer. No one would know.
HATTIE
It's God's alarm clock.
KENNETH
Oh my God, why'd we have to come here?
HATTIE
Was it better in Boston?
KENNETH
Hell yeah it was better in Boston. You know what
they were building right before we left? Walkways.
By the side of main street. Sidewalks, they were
calling them. To keep your feet out of the dirt.
(A cow MOOS)
HATTIE
Oh fucking hell.
KENNETH
I told you.
HATTIE
There's gotta be an easier way.
(Kenneth grabs a broomstick and bangs
on the ceiling)
KENNETH
Helen! Helen wake up and milk that cow!
2.
HATTIE
Kenny, she's four.
KENNETH
You had her fixing the roof yesterday!
HATTIE
That was Clark.
(bangs on ceiling)
Helen! Clark! All you kids! You heard your father!
(He sits up as some light is cracking
in the window. He acts like the light
is burning him)
KENNETH
Ahhhk! I'm the undead!
HATTIE
The pastor wouldn't approve of that talk, Kenny!
KENNETH
The pastor has been in the outhouse with the postal
lady. I saw them.
HATTIE
I think she's been in the outhouse with everyone.
(Kenneth contemplates his feet)
KENNETH
There just has to be an easier way.
HATTIE
This is the easy way. Out here without family
interference. The open road.
KENNETH
The open road?? See, now that I'm late, I'm gonna be
the 3rd wagon on the road. I'll be coated in dirt by
the time we get to town. Billingsly first, Evans
second, me last. Billingsly plans it that way.
Billingsly is always first in and could be dressed
in white and never a mark on him.
HATTIE
He lives with that brother of his.
KENNETH
I don't think that's his brother.
HATTIE
I don't either!
KENNETH
I think that's a woman. Except I saw him naked. In
the creek.
3.
HATTIE
Everyone's seen him naked. He prefers to be naked.
It does get really hot here.
KENNETH
I'm just sayin. There's something un-biblical about
that relationship.
HATTIE
What?
(thinking about it)
Oh my God.
KENNETH
Right?
HATTIE
He's so pretty.
KENNETH
Right.
HATTIE
That would never happen in Boston.
KENNETH
Fuck if it wouldn't. And I think it's required in
Pennsylvania. Sheep can be pretty too. I'm not
speaking from experience.
HATTIE
Where are they from?
KENNETH
Who cares, we're all in hell now. We're going to
boil here and die at 35 if I can make it that long.
HATTIE
Maybe we shoulda kept going. Maybe Oregon's nicer.
KENNETH
Oregon's FARTHER.
HATTIE
I just couldn't cross one more river. The wagon
floating off, the kids drowning.
KENNETH
It's a good thing we had a few more right away.
HATTIE
God smiled on us.
KENNETH
Yeah, I guess.
HATTIE
It's beautiful here, too.
4.
KENNETH
I have to take a pee and I don't wanna go outside.
HATTIE
Well you can't pee in the house!
KENNETH
I don't wanna get my shoes on. Cause going outside
means work. I would like a job where I get up, and
the work is all right here. The food is already
made, a few of my friends are here that I like, and
we make stuff that doesn't hurt my back, like --
HATTIE
Like what?
KENNETH
I don't know, like future things. Light things. Like
things made out of paper, paper products. Paper --
towels, or something.
HATTIE
Paper towels??
KENNETH
Yeah.
HATTIE
They would just crumble!
KENNETH
Yeah, but maybe you throw it away and have a fresh
one.
HATTIE
That would take FOREVER!! We have rags.
KENNETH
I don't think it's good to use the same rag for
everything. I think there's a way to make things
simpler.
HATTIE
This is pretty simple.
KENNETH
In the future I bet you can just sit around and
there isn't even a cow to milk. There's just milk.
HATTIE
That's impossible. There has to be a cow.
KENNETH
I bet someday people would think it would be weird
to keep a cow.
5.
HATTIE
And they pee in the house, and their food is already
made. And they don't have to wear shoes. And they
use paper towels.
KENNETH
You married me cause I was a forward thinker.
HATTIE
I married you cause you had a wagon and a nice dog.
And you were leaving, and I wanted to get the hell
out of Boston.
KENNETH
I did have a nice dog.
HATTIE
Yeah. I'm sorry about that bear.
KENNETH
I don't know why it had to eat Maryann.
HATTIE
You did hunt it down. We ate well that month.
KENNETH
I guess technically, then, we were eating Maryann.
HATTIE
She was a good dog.
KENNETH
Better than some of these kids.
HATTIE
We can get another dog.
(Crash at the front door)
Ahhk!
KENNETH
Shit! Get the shotgun.
(He leaps forward to get the shotgun)
HATTIE
Maybe it's the family of that bear!
(He's wrestling the shotgun down)
KENNETH
Shit, I hate this thing, it's all rusty.
HATTIE
Fell in the water during that flood. I didn't want
the kids to clean it anymore after Feldus got his
foot shot off.
6.
KENNETH
Shut up, it's okay, God, I don't wanna think about
that -
(crash again)
RUPERT (O.S.)
Ahhhk! HELP!
KENNETH
Was that a human?
HATTIE
It's the undead.
KENNETH
Jesus, Hattie!
HATTIE
I knew you shouldn't a made that joke!
RUPERT (O.S.)
Help! Help! Kenneth!
HATTIE
It knows your name!
KENNETH
It's a guy!
HATTIE
Maybe it's a guy getting eaten by an angry bear.
KENNETH
Jesus, is this what you do all day when I'm not
around?? I think it's just a guy!
(He throws open the door. RUPERT falls
in, 18, gorgeous, and naked)
HATTIE
Ahhk!
KENNETH
He's naked.
HATTIE
It's him!
KENNETH
Huh?
HATTIE
The cute one.
KENNETH
Oh my god, get some clothes on, man.
7.
RUPERT
Help! You gotta help!
(Hattie throws a blanket around him.)
KENNETH
Are you allright??
RUPERT
It's Boo Boo.
KENNETH
Huh?
HATTIE
He has a boo boo.
RUPERT
It's Billingsly. Billingsly!
(starts crying)
KENNETH
Did you run here?
RUPERT
I don't know how to ride. I'm scared of the horses!
He does all the horse stuff.
KENNETH
You ran 10 miles naked?
(impressed)
RUPERT
He was up in the barn rafters I guess getting the
hay and the pitchfork fell down and he tried to
catch it and he fell between the cows and they
trampled him! The cow was just sitting on his face!
(Kids gather at the top of the loft)
CLARK
Daddy?
KENNETH
Clark, go milk the cow. Deke, get on your chores.
(Kids start climbing down and
scattering)
HATTIE
Clark can't even hold a bucket.
KENNETH
He was on the roof with a hammer.
8.
HATTIE
I'm just saying.
RUPERT
What am I gonna do. What am I gonna do??
KENNETH
You might start with getting some clothes.
(yelling)
Adeline, get him some clothes off the line.
RUPERT
He died! He died between cows!
KENNETH
I'll have to go over and check it out.
RUPERT
Oh it's awful. I left him there! Those cows are
really heavy! I couldn't move it! There was shit
everywhere!
(clutching him)
What am I gonna do? I'm out on the frontier alone!
Boo Boo was the only person I knew!
(They look at him. He starts crying.)
KENNETH
I'll hitch up the wagon. Guess I'm not going in to
work.
HATTIE
Guess you're not 3rd in line on the road anymore.
You just got bumped up.
KENNETH
That's sick!
HATTIE
That's success.
(Kenneth leaves.)
RUPERT
I don't know what to do. I didn't know what to do.
HATTIE
Well. Clearly you need clothes.
RUPERT
He was teaching me everything. I was sort of going
to do all the - house stuff. I just don't like the
animals! Unless they're the cute ones, like the
kittens.
HATTIE
Where's your family?
9.
RUPERT
No one's here. Boo Boo was all I had.
HATTIE
...Is Boo Boo a kitten?
RUPERT
Boo Boo. My...my...
(Hattie looks at him like
"your..your...?")
RUPERT
(continuing)
My...my...
(chokes)
My...my...
(She's still waiting)
RUPERT
(continuing)
My brother!
HATTIE
Billingsly.
RUPERT
(crying)
My dead brother.
HATTIE
This is kind of a problem.
(clothes get thrown in from the front door;
yells at kid)
Hey! Bring it in next time!
(under her breath)
Next time. There's a naked guy. In the kitchen. Why
are you always naked?
RUPERT
I was running. I was running so fast, and I kicked
off my boots, I tore off my shirt, I couldn't run
with everything on. I wanted to be the wind, I
thought if I got here faster, it would turn back
time, I would save his life, it wouldn't be true.
HATTIE
But you're always naked. You're like, famous.
RUPERT
I know, I'm so hot! Working outdoors is really hot!
HATTIE
Yeah.
10.
RUPERT
I mean, how do you wear this? This is like WOOL.
(feeling her dress)
And then you have a petticoat under that, and some
bloomers and some stockings and a corset, I mean,
Jesus, why don't you just shoot yourself.
HATTIE
In winter it keeps you from freezing to death. In
summer it is sort of like walking around wrapped in
a sweaty armoire.
RUPERT
I was making a new outfit for Boo. So he didn't have
to wear the same thing everyday, those hard work
clothes. I was making something silky, that he could
lounge at home, on the porch with. I think he was
wearing it in the hay loft. I think the satin - the
fabric - I think he slipped on it!
(sobs)
I think fashion killed him!
HATTIE
Sounds like YOU killed him. Accidentally. We ate a
dog, accidentally. It seems to sort of happen. We're
not bad people.
RUPERT
Right?
HATTIE
I mean, so you're naked. You were born that way. Why
do we have to wear clothes anyway? Except to keep
the bugs off.
RUPERT
My name's Rupert.
HATTIE
I'm Hattie.
RUPERT
You've got a million kids.
HATTIE
Some drowned in the river. On the way here.
RUPERT
I wish I had never left New York.
HATTIE
I wish you hadn't either.
RUPERT
It just seemed like an adventure. The wild west. You
know. Where anything is possible.
11.
(They sit and listen to the outdoor
sounds)
HATTIE
Well anything is still possible. Except for
Billingsly. He's done. Like that whole thing that
was your whole life? That's all finished. I guess
you want some food.
RUPERT
I should probably go back with him.
HATTIE
Kenneth?
RUPERT
I should help him with Boo Boo. I should be there
for Boo Boo.
HATTIE
Okay. You could go help with the horses.
RUPERT
I can't do the horses. I can help pack a snack.
HATTIE
It's just old cornbread. Maybe I'll wrap it in a
paper towel. That's what my husband wants to do.
RUPERT
A paper TOWEL? That would take forever, to make. And
just to be a towel?
HATTIE
My husband says he's thinking of the future. He's a
forward thinker. My father thought he was just an
ass.
(She's helping Rupert on with some
clothes)
HATTIE
(continuing)
Chased us down the road with a shotgun. He was
screaming. It was the most I heard him say since I
was born.
RUPERT
What was he saying?
HATTIE
Not "goodbye Hattie," "safe journey," no. It was
mostly "no daughter of mine," I think. And "if you
think you're coming back here," and "good riddance."
Stuff like that.
12.
RUPERT
(eyes tearing)
I miss the east.
(Hattie's standing him up, as they hear
the wagon scraping up out front)
RUPERT
(continuing)
Seriously, things were right out there. They were so
right I thought they were boring. I thought it was
the same everywhere. That's why when I saw
Billingsly, when he came into the tavern, and he had
that white cowboy hat on, and all that leather, his
gloves were the softest, softest leather, and he
made them, himself, he said. Out of LOVE. And out of
a little three legged calf with the gentlest brown
eyes. Beautiful, he said. But a dead one. He said.
I thought for the first time, the west. The west
will be like here, but so much more. It will be
space and time and new. East, but new. We'd bring
the east with us. I brought all my fabric.
HATTIE
That's how you met him?
(Rupert nods, eyes shining)
HATTIE
(continuing)
Your brother? That's how you met your brother? In a
tavern?
(Rupert's eyes dull slightly with a
tremor. His voice cracks)
RUPERT
Our family was... separated at birth. We had
different fathers.
HATTIE
Different mothers maybe too huh.
(He pales)
HATTIE
(continuing)
You didn't look much alike.
(remembering)
You probably don't look alike much at all, now.
(Rupert's hand flies to his mouth)
RUPERT
(whispering)
What am I going to do?
13.
(The door bangs back open, and Kenneth
is outlined by sunlight. A man of the
soil. Covered in soil, covered in
manliness. Rupert looks at him like a
god. Hattie looks at him like she's
tired.)
HATTIE
Kenneth! You're crapping up my floor.
KENNETH
Oh jeez. Sorry mother.
HATTIE
Scoot now. Go clean up the murder. I got him all
ready.
(She shoves Rupert a little on the butt)
HATTIE
(continuing)
Bring something back shot. If any of those cow
pieces are good once you heft em off what's left of
Boo Boo! Shovel em into the wagon!
KENNETH
I hear you Hattie, of course I'm not going to waste
good dead cow.
CUT TO:
(Out front, Kenneth is setting to pull
himself into the wagon. A tiny little
kid is standing holding the horses. )
(Rupert fritters around like he
dooesn't know how he's going to get up.
Kenneth pauses)
KENNETH
What's the matter, son.
RUPERT
Where do you want me.
(He giggles freakily, distraught and
girlish)
KENNETH
You never got in the wagon with -- with Boo Boo?
RUPERT
He gave me his hand.
(Kenneth stares at him. Adjusts his
hat. Pulls his thick leg down off the
wheel, goes around, over to the other
side of the wagon.
14.
Holds a hand out to help Rupert up.
Shoves Rupert's whole body up while
Rupert giggles)
KENNETH
You aint weigh nothing.
RUPERT
I'm a vegetarian.
(Kenneth gets up on the wagon right
behind Rupert, climbing over him
roughly to get to his seat. Rupert
likes the manhandling.)
KENNETH
What the heck, is that a new fangled religion? Keeps
you off the food?
RUPERT
I don't eat animals.
KENNETH
Well that's crazy.
(gathering reins)
Out the WAY, Curtis!!
(The little boy scoots out the way of
the big horses.)
(They drive out)
KENNETH
(continuing)
What do you eat then?
RUPERT
Everything else. Oh God. What am I going to eat.
Billingsly did everything. The shucking, the
boiling, the hoeing.
KENNETH
Talk in town is that you was just mostly naked.
RUPERT
In the east that's fairly normal.
KENNETH
Gets a might cold there in winter too.
RUPERT
The Chinese use silk to keep warm, and protected.
KENNETH
Well then the Chinese have never run into a hornet's
nest on a plow.
(more)
15.
KENNETH (cont'd)
(clucks to horses)
No, I aint been much on being naked myself. Like to
keep a sheet between me and missus, like God
intended.
RUPERT
You never take evertying off.
KENNETH
Just move it aside, mostly. Temporarily. Then when
it needs a washing, straight in the creek. Splash
around, climb out and dry on the bank. Good as new.
RUPERT
That's why the whole town smells like cheese.
KENNETH
Well shoot, actually, that's the Swansons from
Wisconsin. They're all into the cheese. They got all
the kinds, the yellow ones, and even the one that's
mostly holes which I don't care fer. I like cheese
in my cheese. But on a sweaty day, I don't like a
sweaty cheese.
RUPERT
I feel better with you up here now.
(Kenneth clucks the horses)
RUPERT
(continuing)
I'm high up. I can see everything. You're strong and
capable. The horses are cute.
KENNETH
Well that one there's called Badger, cause he killed
a goat that got into his pen that looked like a
badger. We called him Badger Killer, but shorten it
to just Badger. He's territorial. The other one is
Little Bit, because she aint in no hurry, wherever
she's goin she's gonna get there in a little bit.
Call her Bitsy. My one daughter, the fourth one we
lost in the creek, she loved her to bitsy.
(he straightens up)
Can't get too attached. Specially in a overfull
wagon in a strong current. That little bitsy lover,
though, she was cute. Can't remember her name. Only
had her a short spell.
RUPERT
Do you think it will be awful.
KENNETH
What's that now.
RUPERT
The... the... Inside the barn.
16.
KENNETH
Your brother you mean?
(Rupert covers his mouth, stifling
cries)
KENNETH
(continuing)
I reckon it will be mostly flat. Some loose innards
you might want to step clear of. I figure the cows
have done their work, they're not an intelligent
creature, they'll lay, sit and spread around
anything.
RUPERT
Do you think I did it. Do you think it was my fault.
KENNETH
Now I think that's between you, Boo and the Chinese.
CUT TO:
(Inside the barn. Kenneth stands over
the mooing cows. A hand on one's butt.)
(Rupert hovers by the door, with a fine
shawl draped over his shoulders, the
fringe gathered in his hand which
hovers near his mouth)
(Kenneth is looking down between cows)
RUPERT
Kenny?
KENNETH
What?
RUPERT
Kenny, is it bad?
KENNETH
Well now, you're talking to someone who saw a
buzzard eating the eyes out of one his children.
(looking around, seeing the pitchfork, wading
over to get it through cows)
Nobody calls me Kenny.
RUPERT
Oh but you look like a Kenny.
(sees him with pitchfork)
That's what he was going to get. When he fell.
KENNETH
(taking some gunny sacks off the stall door)
Well I'll just shovel him up. If that's okay Hubert.
17.
RUPERT
Rupert.
KENNETH
(shoveling)
RUPERT
Oh my god.
KENNETH
Kinda a name is Rupert.
RUPERT
It's a family name. It's English.
KENNETH
You and Billingsly English?
RUPERT
Rupert Billingsly.
(chokes)
He was American.
KENNETH
Well ashes to ashes. That's kinda what you guys did.
And now he's mostly dust to dust. With some
hoofprints in him.
RUPERT
We had some plans.
KENNETH
Well the frontier is no place for a couple of
..brothers. Hell, it's no place for anybody. Turns
you savage, or kills you from exhaustion. We built
that home we have too damn far from town, because
the wife wanted the view. Now the view is all gone
cause we stuffed the house with kids. Can't see over
em.
(shovel hits something hard)
Oh there's his head.
(takes his hat off)
RUPERT
(reverently, also taking his scarf off his head)
Oh do you think we should say a few words?
KENNETH
Oh.
(leaning down)
Sure. I was just gonna try on his hat. It's a damn
fine one.
(Kenneth gets the blood stained hat and
fits it on his head. It fits smooth
like butter)
18.
KENNETH
(continuing)
Whew. Now that is a nice hat.
(a cow bumps him)
Now get along now Bessie.
(holding a hand to the hat, to Rupert)
Unless you wanted it -
RUPERT
Please.
(shakes his head)
No.
(Kenneth seems happy about this. Leans
on the shovel, looking up at the
rafters.)
KENNETH
You see the problem is right there. No guard rail on
the loft there. I'm thinking in the future, there
will be a machine that takes the hay down like a
pitchfork, a giant pitchfork, with big prongs on it.
Brings it straight down. So a man doesn't have to
get up there and get himself all killed and whatnot.
RUPERT
A machine.
KENNETH
Yes, that might run on oil and some kind of
explosive element to give it energy.
RUPERT
Wouldn't that be dangerous, and explode?
KENNETH
Oh sure there'll be that kind of thing too. Why stop
at the hay when you could explode other things. Well
back to work. I got a million ideas.
(He's shoveling scraps of Billingsly
into the gunny sacks. Grunting
occasionally from the weight of it)
KENNETH
(continuing)
He was a big man.
RUPERT
Yes.
KENNETH
He covers quite an area down here.
RUPERT
Oh god.
19.
KENNETH
Well at least in his last few moments, he was flying.
(Rupert breathes; Kenneth takes a minute,
pushes the bloody hat back to scratch)
I mean it starts over here... but then he's really
just smeared all over the place. Cows can really
track a person up.
(he picks up a piece of bloody white material)
RUPERT
Oh god, that's it.
KENNETH
This is the Chinese, huh.
RUPERT
He did slip on it.
KENNETH
These look like damn fine jammies.
RUPERT
I made them! They fit him so well.
KENNETH
Well not too well, cause they killed him.
(investigating the pants leg)
Maybe shorten the cuff here.
RUPERT
(averting his eyes)
Point taken.
KENNETH
You know, next time.
RUPERT
No one will have me. There's no next time.
KENNETH
It's just a design flaw.
RUPERT
I killed my lover
(corrects, loud)
my BROTHER. My home on the range.
KENNETH
My other idea is in the outhouse, it just isn't
economical to use corn cobs every time after a
bowel. There should be a little bar to hang a
material you can use, to wipe.
RUPERT
That would be terrible.
20.
KENNETH
No you throw it away down the hole.
RUPERT
That's just dumb. What will you do with all your old
corn cobs then. Just throw them away, I guess?
KENNETH
I think so.
RUPERT
That's crazy. No one's gonna waste corncobs. Now
you're just being crazy.
(Kenneth looks at him like he's a
narrow thinker. Finishes the shoveling)
KENNETH
Someday when people die, they won't be shoveled into
feed bags all jumbled up with their guts exposed.
Someday they might be wrapped in something fancy -
RUPERT
Like sillk -
KENNETH
And taken away proper like, in a formal vehicle.
(Rupert nods.)
KENNETH
(continuing)
You want me to throw him in the gulley behind the
creek?
RUPERT
That would be fine.
CUT TO:
(Back home at night, Hattie and Kenneth
in bed. The moon in the window.)
KENNETH
I can't get it out of my mind.
HATTIE
What.
KENNETH
Well I SAW most of his mind, all over the floor. And
the rest was in his hat.
HATTIE
I soaked the stains out, it's a fine hat.
KENNETH
Aint it though.
21.
HATTIE
Yes sir.
KENNETH
Worth the effort. Can't unsee the pieces though. Of
my day.
HATTIE
Did you give him a proper burial.
KENNETH
No. My arms were aching from shoveling. We threw him
in the ditch. Those sacks were heavy. Had to hitch
the horses to drag the sacks over there. Filled up
three sacks with Boo Boo.
HATTIE
Boo Boo sacks.
(He starts giggling)
HATTIE
(continuing)
That sounds funny.
KENNETH
Boo Boo sacks. Sounds like a friend of Santy Claus.
(They're laughing and Hattie's shushing
him. She cuddles up)
HATTIE
I don't want any of them to wake up. I only have hot
broth cause you didn't bring any cow home.
KENNETH
I brought that crow I ran over with the wagon.
HATTIE
I like when it's just us under the blankets.
KENNETH
(torn)
I like it too, but then it always ends up later with
someone new under the blankets, like exactly 10
months from now.
HATTIE
I know.
KENNETH
Someday there will be a easy way to keep the woman
from giving birth to more young uns.
HATTIE
You mean like cutting her parts out.
22.
KENNETH
No I picture a magic pill. You can eat it, or put it
just right here, in her arm. And then no more babies.
HATTIE
In her arm. Maybe they'll just use paper towels to
fix everything.
KENNETH
(listening to the quiet)
Do you like it out here Hattie?
HATTIE
(snuggling in)
Sure. Sure I do. That Boston was a pile of Boo Boo.
(they giggle uncontrollably)
KENNETH
Do you think he'll be allright.
HATTIE
I'll go and check on him tomorrow. Get the preacher
out, and put some flowers on the shallow grave.
KENNETH
First I better dig a shallow grave. I was just too
tired.
HATTIE
Well there's only so much shoveling a man can do.
KENNETH
He wouldn't help me. He made some kind of tea, he
said.
HATTIE
Tea?
KENNETH
Tasted like balls.
(She giggles)
HATTIE
I think someday, after my lady parts are all cut
out, or I use a magic arm pill, you and I might have
us a good time. Just because.
KENNETH
(looking at her thoughtfully)
Heck, let's have us a good time anyway.
(arms around her)
FADE OUT

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Doggedly

Today I was running the book fair, which is me standing in front of kids emptying out bags of change and in back of them is screaming and throng.

I squeeze farther and farther inside myself during emergencies like these. Especially after teaching all day.

I do it for the books, man. Kids get to get books. This is my purpose.

After an hour the volcano of children erode away, and I leave the library shaky, from the loud.

Bess, who is 9, and her friend Luke, who is 10, are tripping along behind me. Chattering.

"Wanna pretend to be dogs when we get home?" She says.

"Yeah!" He says.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thar She Blows

Momish the novel sent to agent. Hope some publisher will like it. When my subbing is less, I will get back to Echo Arizona and my Carrie Fisher story.

Writing and children and horses and raising my own kids. And there's a leaky pipe outside. And wind, like letting us know that we don't know anything. Thar she blows.

And I didn't have to make my own dinner. Huge. And I hope my sore throat will go away.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sub Em and Leave Em

So when you're subbing, there's a point when all the tension of wrangling and directing 19 kids for unrelenting pressure packed minutes in a row that string into hours - there's a point when all the tension swells into a bubble in your throat.

The, well let's just call it the Tension Cancer, which is what no doubt it is practicing to become, the swallowed rage, the outrage turned inrage, so as not to harm anyone except of course me -- this TC becomes leaden when the teacher you're subbing for decides to go on a pot vacation or whatever she did that is keeping her out for three weeks on end, and then suddenly there is rumor that maybe this will become my class until the end of the year.

Then the fun Me that is where I function best, becomes the OH SHIT me because now these kids have to actually learn something. You know, to get to the next grade. So then I start staying late, and waking up in the middle of the night and thinking about possessive pronouns, and planning perimeter art. I once just took airplanes around the country following various boyfriends, I was whim girl, and now I am throat cancer responsibility mother.

Both good things to be. I'm not sure they would be friends, and yet, here I am, both. Layer cake.

The SUPER good news is the teacher is coming back next week, and all the tension popped for the most part so I'm not TOTALLY responsible for 19 people's 3rd grade experience. I fling that burden aside, gratefully. And I like my fake class. I am pretty proud of all my people. They're funny, and being a mom prepares you for assholes. So I can take that part in stride. And even the assholes are still only eight years old. They come around. Stickers can transform pretty much anyone.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Growing, Training and Feeding

It feels like life crams around you and there's so many decisions to make every day, boring things like house fixing, yard, work, and all these people who need a little bit of tending, and words that need to be made into other longer things, like books that only I can write apparently, and if I'm into writing then the kids look far away to me, and the tv is on more but sometimes I have to write while I'm here, even if being with the kids is really the only part I will miss, ten years from now.

So the only way to make sense of the day is to eat Nutella off the knife and go gather the eggs and be swarmed by the chickens, very popular until I throw out seeds for them and then suddenly not popular, and holding the warm egg and feeling rich because here is a free egg that our chickens made for us in exchange for swarming me every time I go out the door. The chickens are a tiny-eyed gang, unarmed, who know how to enjoy a good basking dirt bath in the sun. And no leftover is too leftover for them. Easily satisfied.

The dog is always padding along right after me. When I feed the horses in the morning, she comes out and sits down directly in their hay that I throw out. She eats a few pieces, but mostly she just sits there surveying while I clean up the poop, and greet the horses, and check on the general barn situation. Travis the sheep always jumps into the barn to see what fresh hay he can sneak, and I always have to grab thick wool and shove his bargeness out the door. He is a huge wool suitcase. His first shearing soon, that should be interesting.

I learned how to trim horse feet, so I'm slowly practicing that on my two renegades, and aside from making Dewey limp for two weeks the first time, I think someday I'll be okay at it.

I think writing is good, it is satisfying and confusing, but having a farm in the city is keeping me connected to the earth, warming my feet by the growing, training and feeding of things. Maybe it's an offshoot of the children, and being so glad I can still guide them as they grow, so I'm all greased up in the growing, training and feeding - I had to expand into the backyard and the barn. Might as well use that talent and see where it leads. Maybe it only really leads to just a balanced heart, but isn't that the most important thing.