pt 119: TOUGH

Scampi: Look at the sky!  What a grisly fog.

Peter: The sky is grey.

Scampi: Grizzled.  In sable silvered.

Peter: It is to be expected.

Scampi: Oh yeah.

PETER COORDINATES A SERIES OF PRIVATE MOMENTS WITH HIMSELF.

Scampi: What are you doing?

Peter: Reading.

Scampi: Oh.

PAUSE.

Scampi: I had the strangest dreams.

Peter: And you are ascribing this occurrence to the barometric pressure?

Scampi: Of course I ain’t!  My comments on the grazing fog are separate from my comments on the strange dreams.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: Grazing fog.

Peter: Yes, grazing fog.

Scampi (expectantly): Yes!

Peter: Why are you looking at me like that?

Scampi: Nothing.  Grazing.

Peter: You keep repeating this word.

Scampi: I know!  It doesn’t make any sense.

Peter: Agreed.

Scampi: Like smouldering chunks of the petrified forest.

Peter: Yes.  That is also nonsense.

Scampi: I dreamed I met a Galilean.

Peter: Pilate?

Scampi: Peter?

PAUSE.

Scampi: No, but really.  How can there be a cherry that’s got no stone?

PAUSE.

Scampi: Well, seed, if you prefer.

Peter: I have no preference.

Scampi: Quel surprise.  In my opinion, a cherry when it’s blooming is not a cherry.

Peter: A cherry tree?

Scampi: A cherry flower.  The blossom on the tree.  Is that a cherry to you?

Peter: In what sense?

Scampi: In the sense of a cherry.  That you put in your mouth.

Peter: I would not put a cherry blossom in my mouth.

Scampi: Well, no.  Although perhaps you should.

Peter: Excuse me?

Scampi: I can see it now!  Peter with a mouthful of cherry blossoms.

Peter: Distasteful.

Scampi: Likely bitter.  Let’s go try it out.

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: Let’s fill up your mouth with cherry blossoms and see what happens.

Peter: No, thank you.

Scampi: You’re welcome!  Let’s do it.

Peter: I regretfully decline.

Scampi: You liar.  Regretfully nothing.

Peter: I dislike it when you accuse me of lying.

Scampi: I dislike it when you lie about your declinations.

Peter: What?

Scampi: Declensions!  Anyway, a flower is not a fruit.  I think we can agree on that.

Peter: What makes a fruit a fruit?

Scampi: It’s about the seeds and the juiciness and things.  In biology.

Peter: Pardon me?

Scampi: The seeds.  I mean, versus a berry.

Peter (suspiciously): Ah.

Scampi: If love was really a book, or a tale or whatever, then presumably it would end.

Peter: Unless it was the neverending story.

Scampi: The Neverending Story.  Which ended, of course.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: Milk and eggs, jam and bread.

Peter: A fine shopping list.

Scampi: Shopping list!

Peter: List of ingredients?

Scampi: Could be, could be.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Do you like amber?

Peter: Who?

Scampi: The, uh, the thing.

Peter: The substance?

Scampi: Oh, the substance.  Hoity toity.  Yes.

Peter: What do you mean, do I like it?

Scampi: That’s what I mean.  Do you?

Peter: I hold nothing against it.

Scampi: Not even your own skin?  A palm full of amber beads?

Peter: Uh.

Scampi: What is it made of?  Do you know?

Peter: Amber is made from.

Scampi: Yes?

Peter: It is a, ahem.

Scampi: Do you know what it is, or don’t you?

Peter: I do.

Scampi: Well?

Peter: Resin.

Scampi: I knew that.

Peter: [intake of atmosphere]

Scampi: I was just wondering.

Peter: Amber can contain plant and animal detritus.

Scampi: Detritus?  You mean corpses.

SCAMPI SHUDDERS.

Peter: Amber is a yellowish translucent fossilised resin deriving from extinct trees.

Scampi: Especially coniferous.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: Showoff.

Peter: If you do not wish to hear an answer, please refrain from asking questions.

Scampi: Hey, chill out, bro.

Peter: I am not your brother.

Scampi: Of course you are, Peter.  We are all brothers.

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: We all harden up like resin, I suppose.

PAUSE.

Peter: Are you suggesting that we contain fossilised insect life?

Scampi: Perhaps.  It’s all very mysterious, really.

Peter: Unnecessarily so.  We are not discussing an opaque material.

Scampi: Aren’t we?

Peter: Perhaps I have lost the train of thought.

Scampi: Probably ‘cause it left the platform an hour ago.  Oklahoma-bound!

PAUSE.

Scampi: I take that back.  Oklahoma makes me sad.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: Indian Territory.  That’s what they called it, you know.

Peter: This is no longer what they call it.

Scampi: No.  But the germ of tragedy remains.

Peter: As in seed?

Scampi: Or stone.

Peter: Or resin-bound arthropod?

Scampi: Something hard, anyway.

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pt 118: HILLS MADE OUT OF DUST

Scampi: I can’t quite put it into words.

Peter: I can’t hear you.

Scampi: I’m not mumbling!

Peter: Sorry?

Scampi: Urgh!

A PAUSE REPLETE WITH MAGENTA AND BANANA LEAVES.

Sacmpi: I wish I could explain this to you.

Peter: I am simply going about my daily life.  I am a busy man.

Scampi: You’re always a busy man.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: These days.

Peter: I have many responsibilities.

Scampi: Yeah, like what?

Peter: I have important work to do.  I have bills to pay.

Scampi: False.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Forget it.

SILENCE.

Scampi: Could I offer you a tiny cup of scalding coffee laced with cardamom?

Peter: Oh?  What’s this all about?

Scampi: This is one way to have coffee, between friends.

Peter: Were you intending to be friendly?

Scampi: Really!  Don’t be preposterous!

Peter: Ah.  This is one way to have coffee.

Scampi: Yes.  We might discuss the days gone by and the days to come.

Peter: And what of the days at hand?

Scampi: They are swarming me.  Like fishes and bees.

Peter: Is something amiss?

Scampi: I don’t think so.  I believe it is all right as rain.

Peter: Is it raining?

Scampi: Somewhere it is.  Presumably.

Peter: Is this a meteorological fact?  That it is raining in some location at all times?

Scampi: Well, isn’t it?

Peter: No.  Perhaps.

Scampi: Just not in Antarctica, the driest place on earth.

Peter: No.

Scampi: My mind is simply stuffed.

Peter: With Antarctic aridity?

Scampi: Absolutely not.  With emotions.

Peter: Er.

Scampi: I don’t even know what kind of a noise that is.

Peter: Eh?

Scampi: You’re like the Consul General of the British Isles.  With these noises.

Peter: That is not my present occupation, in fact.

Scampi: Well, it is in fiction.

A PLAINTIVE RATTLE OF MOURNING DOVES.

Scampi: Whereas I am so thrilled and lowly.

Peter: Holey?

Scampi: Amen!

Peter: Pardon me?

Scampi: Low-some.  Down, down, in the depths of good cheer.

Peter: Is this the Homemaker’s Guide to Manic Depression?

Scampi: Oh, Peter.  Stop being so tense.  I’m simply explaining the state of affairs.

Peter: Well-stated.

Scampi: And speaking of the state of the nation, maybe you should go drape yourself in a colonial flag, like a cape, you know.

Peter: I have no reason to engage in such an activity.

Scampi: On the contrary, you love that sort of thing.

Peter: I feel I am being typecast.

Scampi: Typical.

Peter: There you go again.

Scampi: Don’t blame me for the faults of your feet.

Peter: That is a quote from something.

Scampi: Oho, “something”.  Well-cited.

Peter: It is not my task to cite your quotations for you.

Scampi: No, it certainly isn’t.

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: I am seeing a lot of beautiful things.  Of course.

Peter (yawning): Of course.

Scampi: Don’t let me disturb you with this familiar train of thought or anything.  But the beauty is manifesting itself differently.

Peter: I wonder if I should moisturise my beard.

Scampi: I don’t even know what’s being left behind.

Peter: Perhaps a residue of white flakes.

Scampi: Not in your beard, Peter.

Peter: Oh?  Where?

Scampi: With me.

Peter: You feel you are being left behind?

Scampi: No!

Peter: Oh.

Scampi: I’m trying to figure out these important things and all you do is talk about your beard.

Peter: Ah!  Thusly we see that in your estimation, my beard is unimportant.

Scampi: No, of course not.  Your beard is like a goddam christly miracle.  To me.  In its multitudinous bounty.

Peter: It is perhaps a touch full, of late.

Scampi: It is a thing in this world, anyway.

Peter: Or a portion of my face.

Scampi: Face shmace: we’re all things in this world.  Stack of dirhams in a treasury.

Peter: To whom does this treasury belong?

Scampi: One wonders.

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.

pt 110: THE NUMBERS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

Scampi: Ai.

Peter: This is a strange noise.

Scampi: Please, don’t mind me.

Peter: Okay.

Scampi: I would like to discuss some of the socio-politico-geodesical implications.

Peter: As you know, I am apolitical.

Scampi: This is nothing to be proud of.

Peter: I didn’t say that!

Scampi: What?

Peter: Wait, did you say “geodesical”?

Scampi: And?  What if I did?

Peter: I don’t understand.

Scampi: What else is new?

PAUSE.

Scampi: Remember when we were talking about pirates?

Peter: On numerous occasions.

Scampi: Incorrect.  Anyway, I’m not interested in having a conversation about murder, and that sort of thing.  I am interested in having a conversation about ADVENTURE ON THE HIGH SEAS.

Peter: You had planned to reprovision in Madagascar.

Scampi: Peter!

Peter: Yes?

Scampi: You do remember our conversations!

Peter: This should not be a surprise.

Scampi: Well, you know what a geodesic dome is, of course.

Peter: I do.

Scampi: Those things are great.

Peter: Innately?

Scampi: Have you ever seen one that wasn’t great?

Peter: Great how?

Scampi: Like, Oh, excellent, a geodesic dome!

Peter: Uh.

Scampi: Ha!  You see?

Peter: You are certainly in a mood.

Scampi: I am not.  Jerk.

Peter: Pardon me?

Scampi: You know what else?

Peter: No.

Scampi: Familiarity breeds contempt.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: So, obviously I’m not in a mood.  As you put it.

Peter: I fail to see the sense in this line of reasoning.

Scampi: Maybe you should get your eyes checked.

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: Don’t sigh at me.

PAUSE.

SCAMPI SIGHS LOUDLY.

Scampi: Haw haw.  Now I see why you sigh all the time.

Peter: Excuse me?

Scampi: It’s fun!

SCAMPI SIGHS FIVE TIMES IN A ROW.

Scampi: I could be a professional!

Peter: [inadvertently] SIGHS.

Scampi: Ahahahahahaha!  Amazing.

PAUSE.

Scampi: I’m sure you would enjoy the life of a buccaneer.

Peter: I am very distracted by all the important work I have to do.

Scampi: This would be true, if you were a buccaneer.  Imagine what we would call our boat.

Peter: Our boat?

Scampi: Yes, our boat.  Oh, was that a name suggestion?

Peter: No.

Scampi: I like it.  In lettering on the prow – what kind of lettering, do you think?

Peter: Roman.

Scampi: No, no.  I am asking about the font.

Peter: I have no idea.

Scampi: Well, how about Comic Sans, then?

Peter: No!

Scampi: I knew you had an opinion on this.

Peter: We do not have a boat.

Scampi: We don’t have one yet.  Per se.

Peter: We don’t have one at all.

Scampi: Untrue!

Peter: I am feeling restless.

Scampi: Perfect.

Peter: I want to go for a walk.

Scampi: You can go for a walk once we land on the Malabar Coast.

Peter: Of India?

Scampi: Where did you think we were going?  Sudetenland?

Peter: No.

Scampi: Look at the sunset.  It is a sad sight.

Peter: It is a gaseous orb.

Scampi: That’s what I said.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: When the light is gone, it will get cold very quickly.

pt 111: FUITE EN AVANT

Scampi: Forfooth!

Peter: Mm.

Scampi: Forfooth!  Haw haw.

Peter: I am not following.

Scampi: Get it?

Peter: Fourth hoof?

Scampi: On a tri-legged horse.  Ha.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: No, no.  “My fweete lady!”

Peter: Tweet?

Scampi: FWEET.

PETER STARES BLANKLY.

Scampi: See, the effs are esses.  Get it?

Peter: No.

Scampi: In an old-fashioned song. I am being a classical text.

Peter: Oh, of course.  A classical text.

Scampi: Look.

SCAMPI SPELLS IT OUT FOR POOR, SLOW PETER.

Peter: What are you saying about me?

Scampi: Nothing.  I haven’t said a thing.

Peter: I suspect this is untrue.

Scampi: Suspect?  Did you hear me say anything?

Peter: Not quite.

Scampi: Well then.

PAUSE.

Scampi: In the classical days, all the effs were esses.

Peter: Mm.

Scampi: I mean, the other way around.  Are you even listening to me?

Peter: Yes.  My attention is currently centred on your fascinating discourse.

Scampi: Thank you.

Peter: YAWNS.

Scampi: How rude.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Did you know, it’s polite to cover your gigantic maw when you yawrp like that?

Peter: Oh, do excuse me.  You are, as usual, a beacon of social grace in the wild darkness of my neverending font of sloth.

Scampi: I certainly am.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Yes.  Today I feel like a hundred pieces of myself.  Like each of the leaves on the trees.  Which are falling.  The leaves are, I mean.  The trees are not.

Peter: What trees?

Scampi: The trees in the park, of course.

Peter: Ah yes.  They are not falling.

Scampi: No, they are not.  Unless you’re planning to chop them down.  I wouldn’t put it past you.

Peter: That was not a part of my plans.

Scampi: Really?

Peter: Really.

Scampi: So, you have plans?

Peter: What do you mean?

Scampi: You just said you did.

Peter: Did I?

Scampi: You said, “This was not part of my plans, to cut them parky trees down”.

Peter: Ahem.  I do not believe those were my exact words.

Scampi: That was the meat of it.

Peter: Perhaps.

Scampi: So, you have plans.  As you said yourself.

Peter: In an unspecific fashion, I suppose.

Scampi: What are you planning?

Peter: Uh.

Scampi: A coup d’état?

Peter: No.

Scampi: Oh, can I be in it?

Peter: I am not planning a coup.

Scampi: I would be great in it.

Peter: Doubtless.

Scampi: I could make all the posters.  I am very competent in bubble and three-dimensional lettering techniques.

Peter: Competent in bubble?

Scampi: Bubble letters.  They look like balloons.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: As you well know.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Sometimes I have a great urge to stare up at the night sky.

Peter: Well, don’t let me stop you.

Scampi: From what?

Peter: Observing the dome of heaven.

Scampi: At night.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: But it’s not night.

Peter: You are correct: it is not night.

Scampi: This makes it hard to see the stars.

Peter: You are chock-full of keen observations today.

Scampi: Who made you the big expert?

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: Oh, nothing.  What are you doing tonight?

Peter: I’m busy.

Scampi: Want to observe the stars through the fractal trees?

Peter: I believe this is a misuse of the word “fractal”.

Scampi: You would.

PAUSE.

Scampi: It’s kaleidoscopic, how I feel.

Peter: Perhaps you should sit down.

Scampi: Perhaps I can feel your heartbeat.

Peter: This is highly unlikely, from across the room.

Scampi: We aren’t in a room.

Peter: I thought we were.

Scampi: I don’t think we are.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: We are in a field.

Peter: This is implausible.

Scampi: A field of stones.

Peter: A quarry?

Scampi: How dark.

Peter: You have something against quarries?

Scampi: Don’t you?  With a name like Peter.

Peter: No.

Scampi: What do you think the difference is, do you think?

Peter: I do.

Scampi: I mean the difference between the rocks being made and the rocks being broken.

Peter: [boomingly] Perhaps they are one and the same.

Scampi: There’s no need to narrate like that.  Perhaps they are one and the same.

Peter: I was not disagreeing.

Scampi: Sure, sure.  Like a broken plate.

Peter: I am like a broken plate?

Scampi: No, the mess is the same.  The mess of the pieces on the kitchen floor, and the mess of the plate when it was whole.

Peter: Pottery is a messy business.

Scampi: Ceramics.

Peter: A skilled trade.

Scampi: This whole thing.  It’s a messy business.

PAUSE.

Scampi: It’s a mess, Peter.

Peter: You seem agitated.

PAUSE.

Peter: Is it really necessary to stare like that?

Scampi: In fact, it is.

pt 117: O YE DAUGHTERS

Scampi: I have come to these several conclusions.

Peter: It is rather early.

Scampi: No, it isn’t.  Or do you mean premature?

Peter: It is eight o’clock in the morning.

Scampi: No, it isn’t.

Peter: Currently.  Yes it is.

Scampi: Peter, that isn’t true.

PETER CONSULTS A TIMEPIECE.

Peter: Ah.  Well perhaps it is noon.

Scampi: Or nightfall.  In any event, the conclusions are the same.

Peter: Oh?

Scampi: Inconclusive.  That’s what they are.

Peter: That certainly clears things up.

Scampi: Yes.  My heart is full.

Peter: Of what?

Scampi: Shiny treasures.

Peter (eagerly): Treasures?

Scampi: Well, no.  An assortment of items, really.

Peter: Ah.  Items.

Scampi: Have you ever inadvertently put a solid object in the laundry with your clothes?

Peter: My clothes are solid objects.

Scampi: No, no.  You know what I mean: something that makes a thunking noise.

Peter: I know what a thunking noise is.

Scampi: How ridiculous.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Well, that’s the noise I’m thinking of.

Peter: Good for you.

Scampi: This remains to be seen.  Can you tell me why you’re such an assiduous ignorer of history?

Peter: I did not come here to be insulted.

Scampi: Come here?  Nobody came here.  I was just wondering.

Peter: I do not ignore history.

Scampi: Of course not!  You just don’t pay any attention to it.

Peter: Ahem.

Scampi: Nothing wrong with that.

Peter: Could we please change the topic of discussion?

Scampi: Naturally.

PAUSE.

Scampi: You first.

Peter: I have been observing my fingernails.

Scampi: You might do better to clean them.

Peter: I am currently in the observational phase.  These data may  be used for practical purposes at a later date.

Scampi: How scientific.

Peter: Indeed.

SCAMPI DRIFTS.

Peter: Were you sleeping just now?

Scampi: Perhaps.

pt 116: AUTUMN LEAVES

Scampi: I have a few things to tell you.

Peter: I’m busy.

Scampi: Well, I have a few things to tell you anyway.

Peter: Is that the case?

Scampi: Yes.  Feeling defensive?

Peter: Is this one of the things you had to tell me?

Scampi: No.  It was a question.

Peter: I can sense a headache approaching.

Scampi: Well, change seats.

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: If you can’t see the show, you know.  Switch seats.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Anyway, there are some Spanish expressions involving mules.  Did you know that?

Peter: I confess that it does not surprise me.

Scampi: Well ceded.

Peter: I ceded nothing.

Scampi: For a change.  Do you know what the expressions are?

Peter: No.

Scampi: Really?

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: One is ‘burro de Caleta’.  You know what that means?

Peter: I do not.

Scampi: It means you’re drunk all the time.

Peter: Pardon me?

Scampi: The expression.  It’s about a beer-fed mule.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Obviously, if you were a mule who hung around drinking beer all day, you’d be drunk.

Peter: Obviously.

Scampi: I like to think we’re making progress here.

Peter: In what sense?

Scampi: I don’t know.  I don’t think it’s true, in any event.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: I’m just sampling, you know.  From an array of available platitudes.

Peter: I heartily approve of this program.

Scampi: Oh, good.

Peter: I did not say that.

Scampi: Yes, you did.

Peter: In no way, shape, or form did I make that statement.

Scampi: Oh, right.  Who said it then?

Peter: No one said it.

Scampi: If no one said it, then what are we talking about?

Peter: That is illogical.

Scampi: I’m sure you’d like to think so.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Let’s put down blankets and bivouac here.

Peter: Right here?

Scampi: Why not?

Peter: I suppose.

Scampi: That’s right.  We can watch the stars rattle.

Peter: Stars do not rattle.  Rattling is not a property of gaseous entities.

Scampi: Ha!  You should look in the mirror.

Peter: What?

Scampi: Oh, nothing.  I want to lie down.

Peter: Very well.

Scampi: We’re in Georgia.  Did you know?

Peter: We are?

Scampi: Yes.

Peter: Which Georgia?

Scampi: The one that’s on our way.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: We’re here for the peaches.  We’re here to sleep.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: Your hair grows faster while you’re sleeping.

Peter: Incorrect.

Scampi: Pah.  You’d like to think so.

Peter: You are taking a very cavalier attitude toward scientific facts today.

Scampi: That’s right.  Scientific facts are welcome to hop on for a canter.  We cavaliers like to see the world!

Peter: Go to bed.

Scampi: What are you talking about?

Peter: I hope you’re not waiting for me to fall asleep.

Scampi: I don’t care if you do or if you don’t.

Peter: Fine.  I intend to remain lucid a while longer.

Scampi: Lucid!  You wish.

Peter: You are tired.  Sleep.

Scampi: You’re tired, yourself.

Peter: I am.

Scampi: And cold.  Have a sweater?

Peter: Hm?

Scampi: It’s wool.  It will keep you warm.

Peter: Thank you.

Scampi: No problem.

Peter: Good night, Scampi.

Scampi: Good night, Peter.

pt 113: LARKS

Scampi: Have you ever woken up to birdsong?

Peter: In the sense that  the noise of the birds woke me up?

Scampi: I dunno.  It doesn’t matter.

Peter: Likely.

Scampi: I love it.  The noise of traffic in the road, the putput of pollution.

Peter: Are you implying that pollution makes a noise?

Scampi: Well, it does.  Scientifically.  Anyway, who doesn’t like waking up to sunlight in the windows?

Peter: Perhaps a man who has just undergone eye surgery.

Scampi: That’s what you think.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: In some places in the world, it is always spring.  Did you know this?

Peter: No.  I do not find that statement to be credible.

Scampi: You’re lucky you found it at all.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Well, I mean, not the season spring, perhaps.  But the weather.

Peter (sagaciously): Ah yes, the weather.

Scampi: In our conversations, for example, it is not always spring.

Peter: Noho!

Scampi (defensively): Well, sometimes it is.

PETER OCCUPIES HIMSELF WITH PERSONAL GROOMING.

Scampi: Yech.

Peter: What?

Scampi: Nothing.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Have you ever been to a little town in Ontario?

Peter: Ah yes.  The province in central Canada, I presume?

Scampi: There is no need to be coy.

Peter: I have, as you well know, been to a small town in Ontario.

Scampi: As have I.  It can be very sad.

Peter: Rural travel?

Scampi: The graveyards.  The monuments to conflicts past.

Peter: Have you been rooting around in graveyards?

Scampi: Rooting around!  The idea.

Peter: Oh, do excuse me.

Scampi: Humph.

PAUSE.

Scampi: My, the sun is bright today.  Perhaps we should sit beneath the jacaranda tree.

Peter: The what?

Scampi: The jacaranda is in bloom.  The goddam larks are singing their hearts out.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: You free the top button of your collar.  I fan myself with my hands like leaves.

Peter: How many buttons is my collar supposed to have?

Scampi: Two.

PAUSE.

Scampi: It’s only right.

PAUSE.

Scampi: The magnolias are also in bloom.

Peter: Of course.

Scampi: You could reach up and pick one, if you wanted.

Peter: But why destroy something beautiful in nature?

Scampi: Why indeed.

[Peter: That’s not exactly how I put it.

Scampi: Well, that what you meant.]

pt 112: LIKE VEINS THE ROADS

Scampi: Imagine walking across Australia.

Peter: I would rather not.

Scampi: Why not?

Peter: Hm?

Scampi: Are you saying you couldn’t imagine walking across Australia?

Peter: One imagines it would be a lengthy walk.

Scampi: Well yes.  Naturally.

Peter: Ahem.

Scampi: The epic journey!

PAUSE.

Scampi: Are you tired?

Peter: No.

Scampi: Oh.

Peter: Do I seem tired?

Scampi: No.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: Imagine the plant and animal life.

Peter: The flora and fauna of Australia.

Scampi: Yes?  This holds no fascination for you?

Peter: I am not a biologist.

Scampi: [sadly] No.

PAUSE.

Scampi: [quoting] Like veins, the roads travel everywhere.

Peter: Who said that?

Scampi: Who didn’t say it?

Peter: I did not.

Scampi: I mean veins in the sense of things that are commonly running around all over the place.

Peter: When I said that I was not a biologist, I did not mean to imply that I am completely ignorant of all aspects of human physiology.

Scampi: Big words, buster.  Wanna take this outside?

Peter: I do not.

Scampi Ho ho!

PAUSE.

Scampi: Here we are, on the road together.

Peter: ‘We’ who?

Scampi: Oh, you know, the two us.  By which I mean THE HUMAN RACE.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: One thing we haven’t really addressed –

Peter: Only one?

Scampi: Look here.  What about the period between the testaments?

Peter: Oh, yes.  How about that period.

Scampi: Alex the Great, Jerusalem, Babylonians, King Cyrus.  Eh?

Peter: Did you just say Alex the Great?

Scampi: Oh, pardon me for being so familiar.

Peter: Rather.

Scampi: I mean, you don’t want to study the marsupial population of New South Wales.

Peter: No, I do not.

Scampi: Grinch.

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: Nothing.

PAUSE.

Scampi: But like, would you walk across Mesopotamia?

Peter: I highly doubt it.

Scampi: What, never?

Peter: Perhaps I have been biased by the daily news.

Scampi: Daily news!  What do you know about it?

Peter: [offended]

Scampi: Anyway, there’s a lot going on in Mesopotamia.

Peter: This is perhaps relevant to my inclination against participating in the great Mesopotamian walking tour.

Scampi: As led by Herodotus!

Peter: Presumably the tour kicks off with his exhumation?

Scampi: Scandalous.

Peter: Potamos.

Scampi: Mezzo-potamus.  On stage, one night only!

PAUSE.

Scampi: Do you hear music?

Peter: Regularly.

Scampi: No, right now.

Peter: Perhaps.

Scampi: What do you mean, perhaps?

Peter: It is a possibility.

Scampi: I’ll tell you what’s a possibility.

Peter: Yes?

Scampi: Humph.  Have you ever groomed a horse?

Peter: Certainly not.

Scampi: There’s no need to be so defensive.

Peter: I have not groomed a horse.

Scampi: You probably would have, though, if you were a horse farmer.

Peter: Isn’t there a word for that?

Scampi: Yes.  It’s called good stewardship.

Peter: A horse-farmer.

Scampi: Thanks for putting that hyphen in there.  So, uh, I didn’t confuse this for a conversation about farmer who is a horse.

Peter: I seek to introduce clarity.

Scampi: We’ve met.

Peter: Ahem.  It was not apparent.

Scampi: If you stood up, you’d be a comedian.  A barrel of laughs.

Peter: I am filled with humours.

Scampi: How phlegmatic.

Peter: Perhaps.

Scampi: That’s you.  Phlegm all over.  You should go live in Belgium.

Peter: I do enjoy frites.

Scampi: Freets!  Amazing.  You’re like, the king of Belgium already.

Peter: I am not.

Scampi: Are too.

Peter: No.

Scampi: Yup.  Peter Freetsnflem, King of Belgium & Grand Vizier to the Organ Grinders’ Association of Moravia.

Peter: Organ grinders?  How did this come up?

Scampi: I’m not the Grand Vizier around here.  You tell me.

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: Or as the Russians have it, шарманка.

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: Sharmanka.  The hurdy-gurdy man, that’s you.

Peter: I take a great interest in personal fitness, you know.

Scampi: Oh, lord.  What’s next, democratic fitness?

Peter: In what sense?

Scampi: I highly doubt it.  In that sense.

Peter: You doubt democratic fitness?

Scampi: Yes.  In this case, specifically rather than generally.

Peter: Are you casting aspersions on my good character?

Scampi: I am rejecting the premise.  The question is thus mooted and diffused with accuracy and grace.

PETER, NOT KNOWING WHERE TO BEGIN, DOES NOT BEGIN.  OVERCOME WITH EMOTION, SCAMPI EMBRACES HIM LIKE A LOCKET.

Peter: Argh!

Scampi: What?

Peter: Is it entirely necessary to attack me in this manner?

Scampi: Yes.  It’s definitive.

Peter: Dare I ask?

Scampi: For a definition?

Peter: Likely not.

Scampi: There you go again, answering your own questions.

Peter: As you know, I am loyal to the Socratic method.

Scampi: You know what?

Peter: I have resigned myself.

Scampi: Don’t do that, Peter.

Peter: What?

Scampi: I’m not sure.  I wanted to say something about the brisk sunlight.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: Shall we go for a walk?

Peter: It could happen.

Scampi: The germ of possibility.

Peter: Rearing its beak once again.

Scampi: Its beak!  Ha!

Peter: We could go for a walk.

Scampi: Prove it.

pt 115: RUNNING WITH THE HORSES

Scampi: This discussion is about arms.  Arms are required.

Peter: Arms are very helpful.

Scampi: Yes, they are.  They are sometimes necessary.

Peter: Mm.

Scampi: The long arm of the law.  Ug.

Peter: The law is necessary?

Scampi: Not that kind of arms.  I was thinking of something else.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: You don’t see many occurrences of kilometres in song.  Have you noticed this?

Peter: Implicitly or explicitly?

Scampi: In the words.

Peter: The lyrics.

Scampi: That’s what I said.  You don’t hear anyone singing about his lover/home/bloodhound o so many kilometres away.

Peter: I do not.

Scampi: Well, that’s what I’m saying.

Peter: You believe that the music industry is prejudiced against the metric system?

Scampi: You make me sound like a conspiracy theorist.  I’m just pointing things out.

PAUSE.

Scampi: You look utterly exhausted.

Peter: I do?

Scampi: You do.

Peter: I am slightly tired.

Scampi: Well, that’s no way to be.

Peter: It is unnecessary to inform me of such gratuitous facts.

Scampi: Oh, you would say that.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: Well, I think it’s very necessary.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: I bee.

Peter: Excuse me?

Scampi: Done!  You cee, I bee.  I-bis.  Sea biscuit.  Be-bop-a-lula.

Peter: Rawr.

Scampi: Are you growling?

Peter: Sh.

Scampi: Don’t sh me.  Sh yourself.  Sh-bang-whiz.  Popsicle face.

Peter: Could you please cease this infernal racket.

Scampi: Ha.  Racquet.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Would you like some toast?

Peter: No.

Scampi: Are you sure?

Peter: I do not want any toast.

Scampi: “I do not want any toast.”  Jeez.  Want a coffee?

PAUSE.

Scampi: I think you want a coffee.  I’m going to make you one.

Peter: You may do what you will.

Scampi: It certainly follows.

THE HOURS AND DAYS NIMBLY PERCOLATE.

Scampi: My arms are full of wildflowers.  I found them by the side of the road.

Peter: Achoo.

Scampi: Oh.

PAUSE.

Scampi: What’s your opinion on the ocean?

Peter: Ahem, the ocean.

Scampi: That’s what I said.

Peter: Yes.  The great bathtub covering this planet we call home.

Scampi: You don’t have to put on that voice, you know.

Peter: Oh?  And how would you prefer me to respond to your inane queries?

Scampi: Inane!

Peter: I know, it is a stretch.

Scampi: Oh, you.  What are you, afraid of the ocean or something?

Peter: I?

Scampi: Is that it?

Peter: No.

Scampi: It’s understandable.  Home of the GIANT SQUID and all that.

Peter: The ocean is home to numerous creatures, including cephalopods of elephantine proportions.

Scampi: I know.  Gargantuan, even.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Peter: We are blessed with the fecundity of the depths.

Scampi: Yeah.

LONELY SILENCE.

Scampi: I’m going to do a handstand.

Peter: (fearfully) Oh?

Scampi: Don’t look at me like that.  It’s not like I’m going to kick you in the face.

Peter: I should think not.

Scampi: Phew!

Peter: That was a handstand.

Scampi: Yes.  It was edifying.

Peter: How so?

Scampi: Wouldn’t you love to know?  Eh?

PAUSE.

Scampi: Love is a song that never ends.  Did you know that?

Peter: A delicate metaphor, to be sure.

Scampi: A cervine cartoon lullaby.

Peter: Supine?

Scampi: That, too.  Tell me, does it bother you when they call you Homunculus Rex?

Peter: No one calls me that.

Scampi: I just did.

Peter: Yes, you did.  Please stop.

Scampi: Oh, I see.  So you don’t like to be called Homunculus Rex, is that it?

Peter: It is.

Scampi: Okay.  I was just checking, you know.

Peter: I see.  Well, thank you for taking the time to check.

Scampi: You are most welcome O mighty sovereign of manlings!

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: GUFFAWS.

Peter: What a damned clatter.

Scampi: (philosophically) If you do, if you don’t.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Are you trying to circumscribe the world, or are you trying to give it a hug?

Peter: Pardon me?

Scampi: Which?

Peter: I am distinctly unaware of engaging in either of the above activities.

Scampi: Above?  Above what?  You’re above them?

Peter: No.

Scampi: How circumspect.

PAUSE.

Scampi: You know what this is called?

Peter: Nonsense?

Scampi: It’s called embracing the something or other.  Are you doing that?

Peter: (Whatever it might be.)

Scampi: Or are you, like, trying to poke the world in the stomach?

Peter: I have never poked anything in the stomach.

Scampi: Oh, right.  Except for our earth.

Peter: Ahem.

Scampi: You can hum and haw all you like.

Peter: Thank you.

Scampi: I’m just looking for some answers here.  Just snooping around the water cooler.

Peter: This is what you love best.

Scampi: What do you know about it?

Peter: Oh, nothing at all, I’m sure.

Scampi: Yeah, well.  Is that a new jacket?

Peter: No.

Scampi: You didn’t even look.

Peter: I did not have to look.  I know which jacket I am wearing at present.

Scampi: Snob.

Peter: And how does this make me a snob?

Scampi: It doesn’t.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: If you please, m’lord.

Peter: Now I’m an aristocrat?  Because I am not wearing a new jacket?

Scampi: Oho, convivialising with the peasantry!  That can’t be good for morale.

Peter: It is possibly an inopportune moment for this brand of horsing around.

Scampi: What?  You object to equine amusements?  I say!  Call in Lord Mulberry Face!  We must organise a symposium.

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: Hee hee.

PETER PERUSES LAST MONTH’S NEWS WITH STUDIED PRECISION.

Scampi: You certainly know how to turn a page with gusto.

Peter: Mm.

Scampi: If you get my drift.

Peter: What’s that?

Scampi: Don’t mind me.

Peter: I am attempting not to.

Scampi: Excellent, excellent.

PAUSE.

Peter: Perhaps it is time for me to go.

Scampi: Go?  Go where?  Why would you go somewhere?  Where are you going?

Peter: Ahem.

Scampi: It’s dark out.  You should wait for a break in traffic.

Peter: What traffic?

Scampi: I dunno.  It’s an expression.

Peter: I really should be going.

Scampi: Can I come?

Peter: No.

Scampi: Why?

Peter: Because.

Scampi: Why?

Peter: I am going to sleep.  I regret to inform you that you cannot join me in this venture.

Scampi: Says who?

Peter: That is the fact of the matter.

Scampi: That’s what you think.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: Well, don’t go yet.  Wait five minutes.

Peter: All right.