pt 114: BELLAS ARTES, BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Scampi: Peter.

Peter: This is what they call me.

Scampi: Let me tell you a story.

Peter: Uh.

Scampi: What, you don’t want to hear a story?

Peter: Is it long?

Scampi: It’s a story.  Stories are to you as corn was to the Maya.

Peter: Plentiful?

Scampi: Among other things.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Well, let us begin with the beginning.

Peter: A wise decision.

Scampi: In this case, yes.  I believe so.

Peter: Erm.

Scampi: Once.  No, screw that.

Peter: An auspicious commencement.

Scampi: Uh-huh.  Do you know who Porfirio Diaz is?

Peter: No.

Scampi: He was like, the President of Mexico.  A million years ago.

Peter: A million years ago?  Was this on the Mayan calendar?

Scampi: A long time ago.  He had many detractors, you see.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: Right, it happens.  But he had a beautiful wife.  And pious.  She was renowned for her delicate sensibilities and refined European tastes.  Even his detractors thought she was pretty good stuff.

Peter: No doubt this added balance to the relationship.

Scampi: It’s all about the love, Peter.

Peter: You say that as though I had suggested it was all about the acrimony.

Scampi: Think of this: You look at a beautiful structure, classical, a classic, a colonial triumph.  Wings on all the angels, leaves and snakes and marble muses.

Peter: Which building?

Scampi: Whichever one.  You think: there’s blood beneath the marble.  Slave labour, human misery, conquistadors.

Peter: I think this?

Scampi: Damn right you do.

Peter: Ahem.

Scampi: But it’s so beautiful, anyway.  Knocks you out.  There’s a man with a ferret on a leash in front of the Musée de Beaux Arts and sixty schoolkids are staring up at the cupola like it’s the Milky Way.  Do you know what this is?

Peter: Hyperbole?

Scampi: (PAUSE.) Close.  It’s a love story.

Peter: I fail to apprehend the narrative arc here.

Scampi: We are surrounded by beauty, Peter.

Peter: This is something you’ve observed.

Scampi: This is the tale I am trying to tell you.

Peter: Sorry, but how is it a tale?

Scampi: You don’t seem sorry.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Why is a love story a story?

Peter: I don’t know, why?

Scampi: It’s not a knock-knock joke.  What do you think?

Peter: I don’t know.

Scampi: The love is the story.

Peter: This has the trappings of a cheap evasion.

Scampi: You are familiar, of course, with the musical compositions of J.S. Bach?

Peter: I am.

Scampi: To be sure.  And of course you know what an organ is.  A pipe organ.  In a church.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Well?

Peter: This is quite tedious.

Scampi: So you don’t know what an organ is?

Peter: I know what an organ is.

Scampi: Please, calm yourself.

PETER SETTLES.

Scampi: [Ah, the layered approach.  Like sedimentary rock.]

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: To continue.

Peter: Is this entirely necessary?

Scampi: Of course.  Were you aware, then, of how Mr. Bach – our excellent friend – felt about organs?

Peter: I suspect he would feel profoundly ambivalent about this conversation.  To put it mildly.

Scampi: He loved them.  Organs and the glory of God.  Our good buddy J.S. was all over that shit.  You know?

Peter: RUBS HIS MIDSECTION WITH GUSTO.

Scampi: That’s a love story, see.  Church tunes and Bach.

Peter: I enjoy curried onions.

Scampi: As is well-known by any of us blessed with olfactory capacities.

Peter: Humph.  I am fond of large sandwiches as well.  No doubt this is a love story?

Scampi: It is not.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: We have beauty in the world.

Peter: You do like to harp on this.

Scampi: Harp!  You octopod!

PETER WAVES ALL EIGHT LEGS AKIMBO IN PROTEST.

Scampi: Beauty and lovers of beauty.  These are some things we have.

Peter: We sure do.

Scampi: We sure do.

Peter: If I may.

Scampi: You may.

Peter: Perhaps you would not take exception to the suggestion that you are embracing a false dichotomy?

Scampi: Whatever that means.

Peter: It means –

Scampi: Take Robin Hood and Little John.

Peter: Two beloved folk heroes of my ancestral patrimony.

Scampi: Indeed.  There they go, smiting state mercenaries and guzzling ale.  Remember the grand adventure?

Peter: Weren’t they all?

Scampi: You and me and the open road.  x plus y times possibility.

Peter: This is your idea of a love story?

Scampi: No.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: But it could be yours.

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: Sh!  The Sheriff’s men approach.

Peter: Uh.

Scampi: We must wait for nightfall.  Then we take the high road.

Peter: What?  Where are we going?

Scampi: The coast.

Peter: And then?

Scampi: Precisely.

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pt 87: THE MOUTH OF THE RIVER

Scampi: Teeter eeter.

Peter: What are you doing?

Scampi: Teader toader.

Peter: Gibberish.

Scampi: Basically.

THE RAIN OF THE AGES.

Scampi: This keeps happening.

Peter: What does?

Scampi: It keeps happening to me.

Peter: The weather?

Scampi: No, no.

Peter: Are you all right?

Scampi: Does it matter?

Peter: Don’t be a child.

Scampi: I wasn’t aware there was an option.

Peter: I have rolled up my trouser cuffs.

Scampi: Good for you.

Peter: This will prevent them from absorbing moisture.

Scampi: The inclement elements.

Peter: The very ones.

Scampi: I am here.

Peter: Okay.

Scampi: I am here I am here I am here.  You are, too.

Peter: If you say so.

Scampi: What did you say?

Peter: Just now?

Scampi: Did you just say that?

Peter: Say what?

Scampi: Jesus H.

Peter: What does the ‘h’ stand for?

Scampi: Helvetica.

Peter: Oh.

Scampi: [sighs]

Peter: What?

Scampi: I was just sighing.  To myself.

Peter: Oh.

Scampi: Not that it matters.

PETER SAMPLES A FINGERTIP.

Scampi: Why are you grimacing?

Peter: I am not.

Scampi: Wow.  Look.

Peter: A lake.

Scampi: Looks like a lake.

Peter: Let’s take a look.

Scampi: Stop talking like that.

Peter: Pish posh.

Scampi: It is a lake.

Peter: Well.

Scampi: A body of water, anyway.

Peter: Could be a loch.

Scampi: Could be a tarn.

Peter: Tarnation!

Scampi: That wasn’t funny.

Peter: What are you laughing about then?

Scampi: Well yes.

PAUSE.

Scampi: A body of water, anyway.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: We could dip our toes.

Peter: Perhaps.

Scampi: It would be refreshing.  We could use a little refreshment.

Peter: Rather.

Scampi: What do you think?

Peter: I am troubled.

Scampi: No, you aren’t.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: You know what he said?

Peter: Who?

Scampi: That’s what I’m saying.  Anyway, he said we must imagine Sisyphus happy.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: Can you imagine?  What a thing to say.

Peter: We must imagine Sisyphus happy.

Scampi: Yes.  Can you do that?

Peter: Imagine things?

Scampi: Sure.

Peter: Perhaps.

Scampi: Oh, well.  That’s conclusive.

Peter: Why must we do this?

Scampi: I don’t need to tell you.

Peter: Illuminating.

Scampi: I don’t.  Can you do it?

Peter: I have not yet tried.

Scampi: Oh, for crying out loud.

Peter: Calm yourself.

Scampi: You calm yourself.

Peter [philosophically]: I do.

Scampi: Lies.

Peter: Don’t start.

Scampi: We are always starting.  Always coming up new.

Peter: I don’t know what you mean by this.

Scampi: Maybe you do, maybe you don’t.

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: I am here.  I mean, look at my skin.

Peter: A beautiful sheath.

Scampi: What?

Peter: I thought we were talking about skin.

Scampi: We were, we weren’t.  No difference.

PAUSE.

Scampi: I am here, right?  So what?  So are you.  You are here!

Peter: If you say so.

Scampi: Oh no.

pt 83: PINFEATHERS

Scampi: Calm down, Peter.

 

Peter: Insufferable.

 

Scampi: There you go again.

 

Peter: Go?  Me?

 

Scampi: Ha!  Caught in the act!

 

Peter: [registers disdain]

 

Scampi: Grouchiness incarnate.  Stop the presses, baby!  We’ve got a new front page!

 

Peter: Nonsense.

 

Scampi: Correct.  Non-sense.  I am taking the nonsensical approach to mood resurrection therapy.

 

Peter: Stop talking.

 

Scampi: Never!

 

Peter: [grimaces]

 

Scampi: The look on your face.  Stupendous.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: So anyway.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: I am watching conifers gesticulate in the sunshine.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: What do you think about that?

 

Peter: Pompadours?  What?

 

Scampi: They are not deciduous.

 

Peter: What are you talking about?

 

Scampi: It was a hint.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: The fauna.  Is it breaking your heart?

 

Peter: What?

 

Scampi: The wildlife.  The creatures.

 

Peter: Comprehension level currently ranking at zero.

 

Scampi: Lost in the woods.  Your fellow creatures breaking your heart.

 

Peter: Uh.

 

Scampi: In two.

 

Peter: Is this educational?

 

Scampi: Yes.  Science is the way of the future.  We study the natural world.  We learn to survive.  Et cetera.

 

Peter: I see.

 

Scampi: The study of owls, the study of brokenness.

 

Peter: Pardon?

 

Scampi: You see what I’m driving at here, naturally.

 

Peter: [acidly]  Oh, naturally.

 

Scampi: Right.  Can we stop for lunch?

 

Peter: Stop what?

 

Scampi: Whatever it is we’re doing.

 

PETER SPUTTERS.

 

Scampi: I’ll take that as a yes.  Tunafish?

 

Peter: Thank you.

 

Scampi: You’re welcome.

 

Peter: Where did you say we were?

 

Scampi: That’s really not the question.

 

Peter: Oh.

 

Scampi: [grandly]  Yes.

 

Peter: What is the question?  If I may ask.

 

Scampi: Hahahahahha.  Ho.

 

Peter: I wasn’t joking.

 

Scampi: I know.

pt 64: ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

Scampi: There will be no discussion of the sky today.

Peter: What mood is this?

Scampi: Mood? What mood?

Peter: That’s what I said.

Scampi: I was simply trying to steer the conversation away.

Peter: From what?

Scampi: Why are you harping on this? Let’s talk about something else.

PAUSE.

Scampi: I would accept a cup of coffee at any interval here.

Peter: I see. Would you like some coffee?

Scampi: In fact, I would.

PAUSE.

Scampi: You are very kind.

Peter: I do my best, as you know.

Scampi: I know.

Peter: It is certainly a beautiful day.

Scampi: It is, it is. God.

Peter: What?

Scampi: My head, my head.

Peter: What about your head?

Scampi: I don’t know.

Peter: What are you looking for?

Scampi: Lumps and bumps.

Peter: Goodness. Were you in a scrap?

Scampi: Ha! In a scrap! You quaint little teakettle.

Peter: Pardon me?

Scampi: Oh, Peter.

Peter: I was only asking—

Scampi: Yes, yes. All I’m saying is, maybe my head hurts.

Peter: Oh?

Scampi: And maybe it doesn’t. There’s no way of knowing, really.

Peter: [MURMURS.]

Scampi: Now, don’t make those doubtful noises. You may as well leap into the void.

Peter: The void?

Scampi: I may as well. Ha, ha. Leap in. Ha. Har.

Peter: Are you quite sane at the moment?

Scampi: Oohh, getting all into the skill-testing questions, are we? Suave, suave.

Peter: This is very frustrating.

Scampi: What is?

Peter: Speaking with you.

Scampi: Oh, is that what you’re doing?

Peter: I am.

Scampi: Who knew?

Peter: You see?

Scampi: I do. You dislike my speaking voice.

Peter: That’s not what I—

Scampi: Very well. PERHAPS I SHOULD BELLOW, EN LETTRES MAJUSCULES?

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: HOW DOES THAT SUIT YOU?

Peter: Stop it.

Scampi: Oh fine.

Peter: That was very unpleasant.

Scampi: Spoilsport.

Peter: Pardon? Pardon me?

Scampi: You are pardoned. By the way, I like how these ribbons of light come in the window. It’s very nice. Genteel.

Peter: Where?

Scampi: Right here. There’s one on the end of your nose, presently.

Peter: Oh.

Scampi: Do you remember that one time? When we were walking down the road?

Peter: Oh?

Scampi: And you said something funny and I laughed? Or, I said something funny and you laughed?

Peter: That sounds accurate.

Scampi: A good time was had by all.

Peter: I can imagine.

Scampi: No one’s asking you to imagine. Do you remember it?

Peter: It sounds familiar.

Scampi: It was.

pt 100: ALBION CLIMES

Scampi: What’s between the water and the air?

Peter: Club soda?

Scampi: Was that a joke?

Peter: Perhaps.

Scampi: I don’t know what you have to be so cheerful about these days.  Jesus H.

PAUSE.

Scampi: You might think we’re between the water and the air, but we aren’t.

Peter: Duly noted.

Scampi: You’re not even listening to me.

Peter: My apologies.  Please, continue this nonsensical babble.

Scampi: Feh.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Now, take chalk.  Are you with me?

Peter: Chalk.

Scampi: Yes!  Calcium.

Peter: [stage whispering] Is that a secret?

Scampi: What?

Peter: Why are you speaking of calcium in this manner?

Scampi: We’re talking about chalk.

Peter: Ahem.  Calcium carbonate.

Scampi: I was getting to that.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: Right.  You know when you can see the air do that shimmering thing, because of the heat?

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: Well, what do you think of that?

Peter: I believe it would qualify as cliché, if it appeared in print.

Scampi: Print?  What are you talking about?

Peter: Literary mores.

Scampi: What do you know about it?  Anyway, I was talking about the weather.

Peter: Please, do not let me impede your progress.

Scampi: What?

Peter: Continue.

Scampi: When it’s so hot that the air doesn’t move, right?  What do you think about that?

Peter: That sounds very warm.

Scampi: Of course it’s warm.  Peter.

Peter: Yes?

Scampi: Is that all?

Peter: I am unsure as to what is being demanded at the present moment.

Scampi: What do you think of doves?

Peter: I approve of them.

Scampi: Without reservation?

Peter: [serious thought]  Yes.

Scampi: Okay.

PAUSE.

Scampi: You know the way if you mix pigment you get like, black or brown, but if you mix light you don’t?

Peter: That is one way of putting it.

Scampi: The cliffs of Dover are made of chalk.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: Not like us.

Peter: It is true that we are not composed of chalk.

Scampi: Are you sure?

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: [craftily] Well, then, what are we composed of?

Peter: Matter.

Scampi: A coward’s explanation.

Peter: Pardon me?

Scampi: What do you think about planets?

Peter: They are spherical in nature.

Scampi: [knowingly] They aren’t the only ones.

Peter: What are you suggesting?

Scampi: It’s very clear.  Like the view from the cliffs.

Peter: Have you visited in Dover?

Scampi: What does that have to do with anything?

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: I’ve been all around this world, mister.  Like the moons of Jupiter.

Peter: I am not sure I grasp the analogy.

Scampi: Ha.  Quel surprise.

PAUSE.

Scampi: [conciliatory]  You have an affinity for the natural sciences, of course.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: Don’t deny it, Peter.

Peter: Well, we must begin by,

Scampi: Begin – nothing.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: I’m sure your trundled carapace hides the heart of an astronomer.  A seasick lordling, teetering amidships.

Peter: I am confused.

Scampi: In what sense?

Peter: Temporally.

Scampi: Right: Reformation, Renaissance.  Wars, Second World; Napoleonic.  See?

Peter: Are you obliquely referring to England in an attempt to make me feel more comfortable?

Scampi: Yes.

SCAMPI WHISTLES LIKE A BLUEBIRD.

Scampi: How are you today?

Peter: I am well.

Scampi: Great.

Peter: Thank you.  And you?

Scampi: Oh yes.  Yeah, bigtime.

Peter: Wonderful.

Scampi: The thing is, if you don’t know what medium you’re working with, you can’t know if it will turn out brown or not.

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: I have been mixing all the colours at my disposal for quite some time now.

Peter: Well, good for you.

Scampi: But I don’t know if I’m building a blanched sheet of prismic perfection, or a mud puddle.

Peter: A quandary, to be sure.

Scampi: Are you paying attention to me?

Peter: It certainly appears that way.

Scampi: Humph.

Peter: With all due respect.

Scampi: (Oh, this’ll be good.)

Peter: You do seem to have a fondness for mud puddles.

Scampi: So what?

Peter: A simple observation.

Scampi: You and your observations.

Peter: Yes?

Scampi: Such a scientist.

Peter: There is nothing wrong with science.

Scampi: There is nothing wrong with anything.

Peter: Oh?

Scampi: Until the perfect view is destroyed by one’s presence in it.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Do you know what I’m saying to you?

Peter: I believe I do.

pt 46: SOLAR FLARES

Scampi: Did you know this, Peter?  Apparently there’s no such thing as a grain.

Peter: Oh?

Scampi:  Yeah.  According to Doctor something.

Peter: If there’s no such thing as a grain, how can you have multigrain bread?

Scampi: Well, how can you have multitheistic approaches if there’s no God?

Peter: Or, uh, a multi-unicorn stable, for that matter.

Scampi: Yes!

Peter: You know what’s even better?

Scampi: No, what?

Peter: Solar flares.

Scampi: Sure I knew that.  I’ve always liked those.

Peter: In the 1800s

[Scampi: On September 2nd, 1859, to be exact.

Peter: How did you know that?

Scampi: Research.

Peter: Oh.]

Peter: there was a crazy instance of solar flares.  Such a thing hasn’t happened since.

Scampi: No way.

Peter: Telegraph offices caught on fire.

Scampi: And compasses all over the world went crazy.

Peter: Really?

Scampi: Yup.  ‘Cause of magnets and stuff.

Peter: Imagine if this were to happen today.  With all our computers and technologies.

Scampi: The sky went fire engine red, in a pre-fire-engine time.  What do you think people compared it to?

Peter: Blood.

SCAMPI SHUDDERS.

Peter: Blood is nothing to shudder at.  It is composed of –

Scampi: Oh, I know this one!  Alphabets!

Peter: What?

Scampi: Don’t get so scrumptiously befuddled.  Everyone knows that blood is made of alphabets.  Standoffish ‘O’s and triumphant ‘A’s.  And so forth.

Peter: Well, I suppose that’s one perspective.

Scampi: I like to think that it’s several.  Contrary to your supposition but no offense intended.

Peter: Science is nothing to scoff at.

Scampi: I never scoff at science.  I dance with it ‘til morning.

Peter: The solar flares mark the skies up with incandescent aurora.  Did you know that?

Scampi: Or alphabet-pumping firehoses, as the case may be.  Either way, magnetic north goes on vacation.

Peter: Yes.  We all need one of those.

Scampi: We’re getting there, Peter.  Just you wait.