pt 73: LUSTRE, BALUSTRADE

Scampi: Whew! Hahh!

 

Peter: You seem to be out of breath.

 

Scampi: Not completely.

 

Peter: Ah.

 

Scampi: Pretty damn close, though.

 

Peter: Excuse me? Do you want a coffee of your own?

 

Scampi: No, no. That sip’ll do me.

 

Peter: (DISAPPROVES.)

 

Scampi: Remember Mr. Bannister?

 

Peter: Who?

 

Scampi: Bannister comma Mr.

 

Peter: Was he your childhood etiquette teacher?

 

Scampi: No.

 

Peter: If so, I wouldn’t mind having a word or two with him.

 

Scampi: Come on.

 

Peter: Nope.

 

Scampi: How about, Sir. Roger. (Gilbert.) Bannister. No?

 

Peter: Dramatic pauses notwithstanding, I have no idea what you’re on about.

 

Scampi: Way to stay abreast of current events, Peter. He ran the four minute mile, of course.

 

Peter: Current events? In what year did this happen?

 

Scampi: Nineteen fifty four.

 

Peter: I see.

 

Scampi: You probably don’t even know what year it is right now. Who could blame you?

 

Peter: Certainly not you.

 

Scampi: Absolutely.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: The four-minute-mile, eh? Pretty impressive stuff.

 

Peter: I suppose there is a body of documentation on this.

 

Scampi: You suppose!

 

Peter: I do.

 

Scampi: Sure there is. Famous.

 

Peter: Fame is fleeting, we are told.

 

Scampi: And the fleet are famous.

 

Peter: Ahem.

 

Scampi: When they are fleet enough.

 

Peter: Fleetingly famous, anyhow.

 

Scampi: Flight-footed. What a guy.

 

Peter: Can I help you today?

 

Scampi: What do you mean?

 

Peter: Perhaps you’d rather be chatting with Sir Bannister.

 

Scampi: Indeed!

 

PETER SULKS.

 

Scampi: This is not be, however.

 

Peter: I do not sulk.

 

Scampi: (Peter doth protest too much!)

 

Peter: I heard that.

 

Scampi: Sure you did.

 

Peter: I did.

 

Scampi: I am sure of it. Moving along, you look a little shaky.

 

Peter: I do?

 

Scampi: You do. Are you quite well?

 

Peter: I am in perfect health. Of course.

 

Scampi: Of course.

 

Peter: Perhaps I am slightly.

 

Scampi: Yes?

 

Peter: SIGHS.

 

Scampi: Slightly what?

 

Peter: In fact, I am in perfect health. I cannot complain.

 

Scampi: A laughable falsehood.

 

Peter: What’s this?

 

Scampi: You cannot complain. You were saying.

 

Peter: Yes.

 

Scampi: You seem lonely.

 

Peter: (scoffs.)

 

Scampi: Your hair seems lonely.

 

Peter: What are you suggesting? That I’m falling victim to male pattern baldness?

 

Scampi: No. Would you like a sucker?

 

Peter: Pardon?

 

Scampi: Hard candy, you know. On a stick.

 

Peter: No, no.

 

Scampi: Hold on. I’ve got, uh, raspberry and butterscotch. Hey?

 

Peter: I couldn’t possibly.

 

Scampi: Go on.

 

PETER SELECTS THE BUTTERSCOTCH.

 

Scampi: How’s that?

 

Peter: Mrgh. Hh.

 

Scampi: They kind of stick to the back of your teeth though.

 

Peter: Mm.

 

Scampi: Have you ever read the Bible?

 

Peter: (choking sounds.)

 

Scampi: You know, you’re supposed to hold on to the stick part. Not swallow it.

 

Peter: Yes. I realise.

 

Scampi: So, have you?

 

Peter: A few relevant passages.

 

Scampi: There’s a great deal of adventure in there, isn’t there?

 

Peter: This depends on what you consider to be adventure.

 

Scampi: Oh, you know me, Peter.

 

Peter: Oh?

 

Scampi: Well, you know. General excitement. Quests, and the like.

 

Peter: You are fond of a quest.

 

Scampi: Aren’t you?

 

Peter: I suppose having a specific goal is pleasant. It certainly can’t hurt.

 

Scampi: Remember when you said you never go fishing?

 

Peter: Not exactly, but it’s true enough.

 

Scampi: True enough? You never go fishing.

 

Peter: I do not. Correct.

 

Scampi: That was sort of poignant.

 

Peter: How so?

 

Scampi: Maybe you’ve always wanted to. It’s very touching.

 

Peter: I wouldn’t say that.

 

Scampi: That’s what makes it so touching. You look a little wobbly on your feet today. Did you know that?

 

Peter: I believe you are seeing things.

 

Scampi: I am. I’m observing.

 

Peter: Things that are not there.

 

Scampi: Aren’t they?

 

Peter: SIGHS.

 

Scampi: Are the shackles of the quotidian weighing you down?

 

Peter: Not unduly, no.

 

Scampi: What is then?

 

Peter: What is what?

 

Scampi: (That is a separate question.) What’s weighing you down?

 

Peter: Nothing.

 

Scampi: So, you’re floating.

 

Peter: Floating?

 

Scampi: To put it another way, what are you using for ballast?

 

Peter: Are you suggesting I’m some kind of hot air balloon?

 

Scampi: Ha! Possibly. Or a ship.

 

Peter (pensively): Yes, or a ship.

 

Scampi: I hope I’m not upsetting you.

 

Peter: No.

 

Scampi: Presumably that’s what the ballast is for.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Whatever it is.

 

Peter: I just remembered.

 

Scampi: Hm?

 

Peter: I have several things to do.

 

Scampi: You and what army?

 

Peter: Some items on the old to do list.

 

Scampi: What a to-do!

 

Peter: I just remembered.

 

Scampi: That’s a good sign. Normal brain function.

 

PETER CASTS HIS FOREHEAD INTO HIS HANDS LIKE DOUGH.

 

Scampi: Did you hear that?

 

Peter: What?

 

Scampi: Just now. Like, a fighter jet.

 

Peter: No.

 

Scampi: It flew overhead.

 

Peter: That was me, moaning.

 

Scampi: No it wasn’t.

 

Peter: I didn’t hear it.

 

Scampi: It was louder than you. It was doing a polka on the sound barrier.

 

Peter: While my background in physics is not at, say, the doctoral level –

 

Scampi: So you didn’t hear it?

 

Peter: I heard nothing.

 

Scampi: Your head was in your hands.

 

Peter: Yes.

 

Scampi: This fighter jet flew overhead. Right over our heads.

 

Peter: I didn’t see it.

 

Scampi: I could feel it. You couldn’t feel it?

 

Peter: No.

 

Scampi: It shook my bones.

 

PETER RUBS HIS EYES, DELICATELY.

 

Scampi: Like a jeep ride across the archipelago.

 

Peter: I have never been on this journey.

 

Scampi: It’s a bumpy one.

 

Peter: I am getting that impression.

 

Scampi: You know why they call them suckers, Peter? Because you’re supposed to suck on them.

 

PETER PICKS MUTELY AT HIS TEETH.

 

Scampi: As opposed to, say, crunching them up all at once. I don’t mind though. You do what you must.

 

Peter: I do.

 

Scampi: A ship at sea.

 

Peter (sharply): What about it?

 

Scampi: About, on a ship, means turning around.

 

Peter: I was aware of this.

 

Scampi: You were. Interesting.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Have you ever owned a tuxedo?

 

Peter: No. Why?

 

Scampi: No reason.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Only I can picture you in one, at the top of a spiral stair, right?

 

Peter: Uh.

 

Scampi: With your hair sort of on end. Clutching the balustrade.

 

Peter: This is all very appealing, of course.

 

Scampi: For dear life.

 

Peter: Pardon?

 

Scampi: There’s a party going on downstairs.

 

Peter: There is? Presently?

 

Scampi: No. In this picture.

 

Peter: Right. Of Tuxedoland.

 

Scampi: Everyone’s like, Peter, join the party won’t you? But there you are up top.

 

Peter: First we’re an aircraft carrier. Now this.

 

Scampi: Like I said, clutching the balustrade. As if your very life depended on it.

 

Peter: And what is the purpose of this illustration? If I may be so bold?

 

Scampi: You may.

 

Peter: Well?

 

Scampi: Can’t you picture it?

 

Peter: This is some sort of stock photo, is it? From your catalogue.

 

Scampi: Something like that.

 

Peter: Well, fine.

 

Scampi: It comes in black and white, and colour. Either or.

 

Peter: Very nice.

 

Scampi: Which of us can run fastest, do you think?

 

Peter: I confess, I hadn’t thought about it.

 

Scampi: I suppose if I was running over to see you, it wouldn’t matter, would it?

 

Peter: This depends. Am I sitting still?

 

Scampi: You are now.

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