I forget sometimes that once upon a time you were a little girl. Now look at you. You’re all grown-up. You just don’t know how much I love you.
I remember once. [beat] You probably don’t even remember. You were about 6. A beautiful creature. And you were wearing this blue dress. I bought you that dress after we took you home from the hospital. You see Hon, you had come down with Pleurisy. Some kind of contagion, a toxin, an abomination, had entered my little girl’s body.
You’re Mama prayed and prayed and never left your side. I’ll never forget that. I had work to do. I was just starting out and hired a crew to watch over my Derricks. But we carried on, all of us, the best we could. Then one night I hear a knocking sound: knock knock knock. I get out of bed and try to find where this noise is coming from. And now a tapping sound: tap tap tap. And then this man’s voice, he says to me: Horowitz does murder sleep. A cold chill ran down my spine. Next, in a panic, I search for a mirror. I gaze upon my face and see me for what I really am: a mad man. And that’s the story of when I began taking Lithium, and it’s helped out quite a bit.
O Daddy, it’s my wedding day. Do you have to be so melodramatic? Talk of Pleurisy and intimations of my deceased sister, Jane.
Kitty, I’m sorry, you’re right, this is your special day... This Porter you married. I don’t trust him. Something about him that I can’t put a finger on. I can see why you married him: he’s handsome, athletic, and seemingly learn’ed, but there’s a rancor inside of him too. But just the same I wish you and Porter a wonderful life together.
Thank you Daddy. Now why don’t you go mingle with the guests? I have to find Porter.
What is he doing with his life?
He says he wants to be a writer.
Is he any good?
And what religion is he?
He says he’s a Plilistine. And he won’t convert.
Okay, I’ve said enough, now you go find your new groom.
Kitty, I am. So glad I have. Found what you are.
Looking for, no. Your glockenspiel?
My dear German cousin, Heinrich. How thoughtful of you. Porter, till this day, can’t find it.
My dear Texan. Ich liebe dich. My cousin, yes, Horowitz. You look as if….
I’m having a summer’s eve kind of day? Where did you find my ornamental bells Heinrich?
Right next to your. Lawrence Welk records.
People who live in glass houses…. I seem to remember you having a rather large Wagner collection.
Collections can be taken many different ways. For example, I spied upon your bed a pair of leder hosen.
You can take the girl out of the country… and speaking of boys.
That is strictly verboten. I’m on a regime.
Don’t you live near a regiment? Is that what you mean?
I think you’re being overly regimental.
I’m surprised they took you back in.
Where were we to go? Long suffering, the pursuit of knowledge, minutia, and martyrdom, is what I seek, not refuge. Only subterfuge passes between my lips.
Is that all? The suffering artist?
Frau, I can’t paste together stick people. Verstephen?
So, how was your flight over from Berlin?
It was like as if someone had wrapped me into a very large metal container and then hurled me over the ocean.
Who was this airline?
I see you’ve brought a date?
My dear cousin, let me introduce to you my lovely new wife: Princess Asa Baruska Schadenfreude.
[Kitty curtsies] Guntentag. And welcome to Dallas, Texas. Home of the Long Horn.
I’m afraid she doesn’t speak English. Are you still teaching English to foreign born students?
I’m afraid I am. I find great satisfaction imparting my love of the English language. Moe, Curly, and Edgar Allen Poe. I’m an Anglophobe, you see?
She’s a Czech princess.
As in check coats or check the oil?
I believe it’s a Porter’s role to check the oil. Are you low?
Was she the one who earlier fell down the staircase?
And I didn’t appreciate your guests laughing. Where is this Herr Porter von Frankenstein everyone’s talking about? Your new husband. Will he make an appearance?
Excuse me while I attend to the help. Waiter, please come here.
Has anyone ever told you look like a young Peter Lorre?
What is your name?
I can be.
Are you an actor?
I play parts.
Can you suspend disbelief?
I can if I have to.
Then, I hope you won’t pass me up.
Ma’am, it would be a shame to pass on you.
Waiter, tell me then, what do you see when you look upon
I see a very lovely young woman on her wedding day. Inviting brown eyes, lovely hands, ruby red lips, an hour glass figure, and a derriere like an antelope. [Low wolf growl]
I’m on the African Serengeti and it’s the end of the dry season. I’m alone, half-starved and my mouth is parched. I’m half out of my mind when off in the distant I spy an oasis. Is it real I ask myself? Is that Peter? I’m sorry, what is your name again?
Peter, inside me, is the insatiable desire to be loved. To be filled up. I’m like a Boston Crème doughnut. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? Mind you, they have to be my type, and of course, you are. Are you familiar with a screeching owl? She readies herself by parting her wings and lifting her ass up high thereby signaling to her object of desire that the livery store is open and ready to do business. I’m that bird.
I thought you were an antelope on the Serengeti. The webs we weave.
I feel a bout of carelessness coming over me. An irresistible impulse. An utter disturbing thought.
Throw caution to the wind?
I feel like throwing something… I know this is going to sound strange, but follow me into this room, lock the door, wrap my train around my throat and mount me from behind like you would a barb’ed steed. Can you do that? And afterward bring me the head of Morgen David?
Ma’am, I’m happy to carry out your wishes. But who is Morgen David?
Sit down Porter. There’s no need to curtsey… I lost all of my family during the war. I am the lone survivor. I came to America as a young man. Became an American. Studied hard. Worked hard. And now I’m living the American dream: thrift, hard work, imagination, passion. I started from scratch. Married Ruth and shortly thereafter we have two daughters. I now have a family to provide for. I’m in the oil business, as you very well know. A profitable business mind you. But nevertheless it’s a business that has to be tended to. Do you understand what I’m saying to you Porter? I made something, for us, out of nothing. Are you prepared to do the same?
Not really. I have no calling, not yet anyway, so I move toward things that give me pleasure, as a child to a toy, even if this means omitting basic needs that make survival for me possible. I’m at the mercy of others. I seek out things I thirst for and avoid the things I don’t. I live in this kind of void, knowing that God does not provide for salvation, heaven or hell, so I operate in a fog, with the understanding that when I die the outcome will be no different than a bug smashed upon a windshield. But tell me again how you lost your entire family? Was it a train wreck? A family reunion and a bomb went off? And btw, is it appropriate, seeing how I’m now married to your daughter, to call you Dad?
Okay, Mr. Horowitz, what happens now?
I don’t like you Porter and I never will but I’m a realist and I deal in facts. Fact one, you are now married to my daughter. And my daughter is accustomed to the finer things that life has to offer. How do you intend to provide for my daughter?
Our backgrounds are similar Mr. Horowitz, mine and yours. I come from a family of circus performers – the big top. We traveled all over the Midwest, from town to town, entertaining the masses. I can still smell the pop-corn and elephant dung. Father performs a high-wire act and Mother’s in a snake pit. This makes for some interesting conversation around our dinner table, no doubt. It’s a monkey-see monkey-do kind of hard scrabble world. You see. You know what I mean?
No I don’t. Were you educated?
In a way I was, but not by my parents. Mother is too nervous most of the time, having to spend all day in a snake pit, that she rarely does or says anything. Only in her sleep, she cries out: “Let me out of this goddamn snake pit.” And Father is never around, off performing his other high-wire act: drinking, gambling, and chasing women.
I’m sorry to hear that.
I lost my virginity to a sword swallower, at the tender age of thirteen, while lying on a bed of nails. No easy feat, mind you. Bat boy is a homosexual. And Father is sleeping with the 800lb woman. Sister is cannon fodder until one fateful night. She is just four years old, an overweight little girl, and over time it becomes more and more difficult to stuff her into the canon. And because the circus owner can’t afford a new canon a sling-shot device is assembled. And so each night she is catapulted over the length of the tent into a small pool of water. Then one night someone forgets to fill up the pool and the rest is Circus lore. I thought about going to Clown College but the funds simply weren’t there.
Look around you boy. Do you like what you see? One day they’ll make a television program out of all of this and they’ll call it Dallas. Do you want to be rich Porter? Funny aint it, how out of your name comes two contrary states of being: rich and poor. And some day they’ll make a show about that too. Two wee antagonists battling it out for supremacy. Spartacus meets Lenny Bruce on the field of notoriety. Tell me about your economic philosophy. Were you able to develop one in the circus?
The industrial revolution, Eli Whitney, L & M railroad, Kitty Hawk, Kaiser Wilhelm, Ford, relativity, Oedipus Rex, aerospace, the cold war, corn flakes, and Tang. When it comes down to economics I’m a John Maynard Keynes supply and demand keep a low inventory kind of guy. Debit and credit. Cash on demand. Stocks and bondage. I guess you could say I know a little bit about the cads of industry. Maybe a story will help. Once upon time, a young man, an Italian, in the 12th century, has an epiphany. A Catholic, no less, richly dressed in the fashion of the day: Florentine hat, Sicilian scarf, Armani shoes, and a Roman coxcomb, just in case he gets lucky. He sits in a café, sipping wine, minding his own business, his mind suffused with all things loveliness. Now it’s dusk and he’s on his second glass of Chianti. He lifts from his pocket a small looking-glass and looks into himself deeply. He can’t get the beggars eyes out of his head. And why do his friends who he holds in such high regard show such contempt towards himself when he offers Alms to the poor? He’s sipping his third glass, peering out into the plaza, drunk with nausea, trying to make sense of it all, when God sends a telegram: thunder-clap and bolt of lightning burst into flame, murdering 100 stunned pigeons. And this is where the epiphany part comes in. He now understands the path he must take to reconcile his life style with the teachings and philosophy of Jesus Christ. He throws off his cloths and runs naked round the plaza yelling, “God does murder pigeons.” And today this very same fellow is the most revered Saint in the Saint pantheon. A Monk, in the plaza that very same day, later remarks in his manuscript: “say what you will of Francis but he has a very lovely bum.” I’m thinking, thinking about donning a black robe, moving into a cave, living off nothing but grubs and Chianti, a veritable fish tank, chanting scripture to the moon. Saint Porter. Everyone can’t be a go-getter can they Mr. Horowitz?
Are you saying what I think you are saying?
Yes, I am, I rely on Alms for my sustenance.
And how do you explain why you are sitting there with no pants on?
I’m trying to get comfortable.
What about your fear of four legged animals? Saint Francis is the patron Saint of animals is he not?
I think with therapy, and over time, I will come to be around animals. It’s the smell that bothers me.
And how are you planning to pay for this therapy?
[At this moment a noise is heard, far off, swiftly approaching. The sounds of a stampede. Dialogue resumes after noise ends.]
Mary, Jesus, and Joseph what in tarnation is that?
I always imagine them just moseying along with no particular place to go. I feel like I’m having an out of body experience. I’m up in the rafters looking down upon myself. Can you see me? Like an episode out of the Twilight Zone. Do you have any seltzer water? My stomach is upset. Till this day I jump at the least unexpected noise. I fear everything. This I believe the result of not having been breast fed or the teasing remarks I receive from the fish-mongers in the market. My father warns me as a boy that if I didn’t fall asleep he is going to let loose a tiger into my room. He stands outside my door making growling noises. How often do these stampedes occur?
[Pause. No answer.]
I hope Kitty’s alright. Maybe I should go check on her.
[Pause. No answer.]
Did you have anything to do with Jane’s death? What ever happened to baby Jane?
[Pause. No answer.]
Per chance you don’t have anything lying around for nerves do you? I feel a panic attack coming on and I’m bereft of all hope.
I’m sorry Ruth; I didn’t expect to find you here. I was looking for the restroom.
Come in Porter, I’m just looking for my shroud. And shut the door.
Can I help you find it?
Depends on what you’re looking for.
I’m having a very trying day. Okay?
Okay. I’m listening.
I get up like I usually do.
Put on some coffee, go to the toilet, sit down at my dinette table, and have myself coffee and paper and a bran muffin, when guess who shows up?
Without so much as a warning, the Blues walks right into my kitchen
Wearing nothing but pink slippers and a dirty robe, with a dreadful look upon her face, hair a mess, cigarette between her lips. Makes her own damn self a cup of coffee. She sits down right next to me, and scoffs at me when I ask her what the hell is she doing here in my kitchen. Then she says to me she wants to use my telephone. Of all the nerve. So I ask her who she needs to be calling at six o’clock in the morning and she says to me real quiet like: she says, she’s calling Low Self Esteem, to remind her to stop off at the liquor store before dropping by. I couldn’t disagree with her more because Inebriation was tapping me on the shoulder and asking me where the f$*k Jack Beam is?
You mean Jim beam?
Has he a brother?
And so then I get a letter from Joseph saying that if I don’t sober up he’s kicking me to the curb. And my dear, dearest friend, dear Prudence, passes away. And before you can say Giminy Cricket it’s turned into one great big Pity Party. And no one likes a pity party having woman. End of story.
If you just have another drink Ruth, you’ll feel better, this I’m sure of.
And on Kitty’s and your’s wedding day. What kind of Mother am I? My libido is about to explode. And now infidelity is standing before me disguised as a groom who is unzipping my dress compelling me to take him into my arms and kiss him on the lips. In a soft willing way, of course.
In other words, am I willing?
Have you had your initiation tested recently?
Only my patience sweetheart.
I hope you’re faring well.
Should I initiate something?
I thought I intimated as much.
Well, such as I am.
Well, do as you please.
I do as please pleases me.
Please then do.
Perhaps then I shall.
That depends on your performance.
Do you grade on a curve?
I’m being thrown to the curb.
Can one earn bonus points?
If one is resolute in a successful outcome.
But I haven’t done my homework.
Some parts of this test are visceral. Are you feeling anything….Porter?
I’m feeling conflict.
Are you conflicted?
I feel like I’m on a tight rope.
Sounds like you need consoling.
But I feel like convalescing.
Shall I repose for you then Porter, we’ll coalesce together?
It is customary for you to lean back.
Is it customary to hike up one’s dress?
If one is going hiking.
Are you familiar with the Old Chisholm trail?
Only where it ends.
This needs to end momentarily.
I’ll be like Mount Vesuvius, but without all the death and destruction.
So, Porter, how does it feel, this being your wedding day and all?
Not so good.
Someone stole my shoes. Now mark me how I will undo myself. The ruination of me. The unraveling. The coming undone. At the seams. This very act has shattered my tenuous delusional optimistic distorted view of mankind. I’m reduced to the lowest depths of misery. I’m in a rabbit hole and I can’t climb out. I’m on the precipice and I have very narrow feet. The embrace of unreason. Conformity, the face of yesteryear. The antithesis of right and wrong. The social contract null and void. A commandment broken. Anarchy the word of the day, the rescuer. Our moral duties to the curb, like trash. This very act has overtaken all other inclinations feelings and thoughts so as to render me a shadow of my former self. Occupying my mind, rent free. And reminding me of the frail human being that I really am. Susceptible to even the most minor perturbance. This very act has reminded me of everything that I am and am not. I am beside myself. A mote of thin ice now surrounds me. This act has pressed me to the breaking point. I’m on the precipice and I’m light headed. I’m at a four-way and don’t know which way to turn. A dense fog has over taken me. I’m on a tight rope. A short rope. A rope a dope. In short, I’m past the point of caring. I need to be punished. I’m a sinner. Redemption is just a phone call away. Or is it? I’m reminded of a little, bare-footed girl, who wakes the morning each day in squalor and filth; dresses herself in tattered clothes, and with resolute determination and singularity in mission and with an insatiable hunger in her belly, rises up slowly from her makeshift bed, and like a wounded warrior, descends into the depths of hell, unraveling too, falls out unto the mean streets, in search of food and water and something else she can’t’ seem to put a finger on, through the forest of detritus that is Bangla Desh. Sanctuary. Something beautiful. Something special. Artifice. Everything closing in, the sun, relentless, unmerciful, sucking the very life form out of her undersized desiccated body. Love, a distant planet. Human decency, just around the corner, but unattainable. Leave all hope behind. Don’t tread on me. A tempest is up ahead. Passing and not doing a very good job. There is no God. The poor will inherit the earth. A course correction. A paradigm shift. The wrong side of the rails. Unrepentant grifters. Drowning in a sea of nothingness. I’m king of the fucking universe, or at least I think I am.
Bravo. King Richard?
Something like that. Now pardon me while I go get a drink.