pt 66: SKILSAW, BIRDSONG

Scampi: The days are growing longer now, Peter.

Peter: Indeed they are.

Scampi: I’ve noticed this isn’t doing much for you.

Peter: What’s that supposed to mean?

Scampi: Well, the light, you know, the longer-lit days. It isn’t doing much for your outlook.

Peter: Why should it?

Scampi: Why shouldn’t it?

Peter: I refuse to engage in this childish match of table tennis.

Scampi: You would.

Peter: There’s a hole in my trousers.

Scampi: It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Peter: It has.

Scampi: That looks mendable. No fear, Peter: help is on the way.

Peter: Oh?

Scampi: Sure. What’s that high, buzzing noise?

Peter: What?

Scampi: Can’t you hear it?

Peter: No. I cannot.

Scampi: You can’t hear that?

Peter: I told you so.

Scampi: Well, I can. It’s very frustrating.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: Ugh.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Ah, there. It’s stopped.

Peter: Congratulations.

Scampi: How come I could hear it and you couldn’t?

Peter: Perhaps this has to do with our temporal locations.

Scampi: Huh?

Peter: I’m suggesting.

Scampi: Because I’m ten hours and fifteen minutes away from you, you mean?

Peter: Perhaps.

Scampi: I don’t see why that has to get in the way.

Peter: [SIGHS.] Okay.

Scampi: Do you see what I see?

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: A star, a star!

Peter: I don’t see it.

Scampi: Shining in the night, with a tail as big as a kite!

Peter: Oh god.

Scampi: Precisely. Bam BA bam BA, da da da da DA, da da DA bam BA bam bam BA!

Peter: Aahh.

Scampi: [humming happily] Do you know what I know?

Peter: I can’t even imagine.

Scampi: Oh, Peter. What a burden.

Peter: [tightly] I assure you, I am in perfect spirits.

Scampi: Perfection without imagination? Where’s the spirit there?

Peter: You misconstrue.

Scampi: I do. You misrepresent.

Peter: I do not.

Scampi: I like the song, but I don’t like the volume.

Peter: Excuse me?

Scampi: That’s right. The noise of the music is cluttering the music itself.

Peter: What music?

Scampi: The music in my ear.

Peter: Oh.

Scampi: You see?

Peter: I really don’t know what I’m supposed to say to that.

Scampi: I’m sure you’ll think of something. Eventually.

Peter: I am so tired.

Scampi: I know you are, Peter. I’m tired, too.

Peter: Hm.

Scampi: We could have some coffee.

Peter: Maybe later.

Scampi: Okay.

Peter: I have always loved the view from this window.

Scampi: The light is clear.

Peter: Clearly what?

Scampi: See-through. You can see all the way down to the water.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: Feel free to sit a while.

Peter: Thank you. I shall.

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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 69: THERE IS A HISTORY IN ALL MEN’S LIVES

Scampi: Imagine if you were from someplace that started with The.

 

Peter: Yes?

 

Scampi: Well?

 

Peter: Well what?

 

Scampi: Imagine if you were.

 

Peter: If I was what?

 

Scampi: From someplace that started with The.

 

Peter: With the – ?

 

Scampi: Yes.

 

Peter: With the what?

 

Scampi: No, just The. The word, “the”.

 

Peter: It is a word, yes.

 

Scampi: Like, The Hague. Imagine.

 

Peter: You want me to imagine that I am from The Hague?

 

Scampi: Not necessarily. I mean, you can if you want.

 

Peter: I am not particularly compelled.

 

Scampi: There’s news.

 

Peter: Where is this leading?

 

Scampi: Down the garden path, of course.

 

Peter: I see no garden.

 

Scampi: (sadly) No.

 

A FEW GLUM MOMENTS.

 

Scampi: On the bright side, gardening is a healthful practice. We could all stand to do some gardening.

 

Peter: And this is the bright side?

 

Scampi: It is. An order of new buds, sunny side up.

 

Peter: Oh.

 

Scampi: “Wow, the sun’s so far north, now.”

 

Peter: It is?

 

Scampi: I was quoting.

 

Peter: Quoth you.

 

Scampi: God wot. Or doth ‘e?

 

Peter: Duffy?

 

Scampi: Yes, Bob?

 

Peter: Pardon me?

 

Scampi: Oh, sorry. Do you prefer to be called Robert?

 

Peter: Absolutely not.

 

Scampi: Have it your way. The sun is setting.

 

Peter: That has nothing to do with me.

 

Scampi: It does if you’re where the action is.

 

Peter: Oh? And where is that?

 

Scampi: Sure ain’t in the east.

 

Peter: You are one of logic’s finest.

 

Scampi: Do you really think so?

 

Peter: Ah.

 

Scampi: [PREENS.]

 

Peter: Really.

 

Scampi: What?

 

Peter: Is this demonstration quite necessary?

 

Scampi: Necessary! What kind of a demonstration would that be?

 

Peter: A useful one.

 

Scampi: In your dreams, buster. This is a gratuitous display, thank you very much.

 

Peter: Oh, don’t thank me.

 

Scampi: I insist.

 

Peter: For a change.

 

Scampi: Snip snap. You’re quite the clippership today.

 

PETER SCRATCHES HIS NECK.

 

Scampi: What are you trying to do there? Molt?

 

Peter: I am not paying attention.

 

Scampi: Well, you should probably start. Unless you’re in the market for an emergency tracheotomy.

 

Peter: Certainly not.

 

Scampi: Good. Your body is your tempest.

 

Peter: Temple.

 

Scampi: Um—forehead!

 

Peter: Pardon?

 

Scampi: You lose!

 

Peter: At what?

 

Scampi: Word association, of course. Ho, ho.

 

Peter: There is nothing admirable in grandstanding.

 

Scampi: Yeah, sure. There’s nothing fun in having no fun.

 

Peter: [GROANS.]

 

Scampi: Jeez, Peter. There’s a difference between a tautology (garden variety) and like, a poisoned spear.

 

Peter: (weakly) I suppose.

 

Scampi: You do. Anyhow, speaking of gardens (once again), I am reminded of great joy.

 

Peter: How so?

 

Scampi: It’s the logical next step.

 

PETER ABORTIVELY RAISES HIS ARMS IN PROTEST.

 

Scampi: I am reminded of the profound feeling of great joy that neither of us is currently experiencing.

 

Peter: What sort of a statement is that?

 

Scampi: An accurate one.

 

Peter: I really have to protest.

 

Scampi: As well you should. We should be howling from the rooftops.

 

Peter: How utterly undignified.

 

Scampi: Don’t talk about yourself that way.

 

Peter: [SPLUTTERS.]

 

Scampi: Look over there!

 

Peter: [SQUINTS.]

 

Scampi: Gorgeous!

 

Peter: I am probably not the first to inform you of the detrimental effects of staring into the sun.

 

Scampi: Probably. Anyway, I wasn’t pointing at the sun.

 

Peter: I see.

 

Scampi: I was looking underneath it.

 

Peter: Underneath it?

 

Scampi: Yes. At the flowers.

 

Peter: I see no flowers.

 

Scampi: Yet.

pt 62: LET US BE TRUE

Scampi: Peter.

Peter: ‘Tis I.

Scampi: You know what Dan said?

Peter: I do not.

Scampi: [READS ALOUD.]

PAUSE.

Scampi: Can you imagine!  He said for me to mention this to you.

Peter: I believe Matthew Arnold said that.

Scampi: Ridiculous.

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: Matthew Arnold has never asked me to mention anything.  To you or anyone else.

Peter: That quote.

Scampi: Oh.  Matthew Arnold wrote it, maybe.

Peter: There isn’t much maybe about it.

Scampi: Humph.

Peter: So, this is some sort of classical bullshit fest?

Scampi: Peter, how could you?

Peter: How could I what?

Scampi: But it’s so pretty.

Peter: We are all pretty.

Scampi: Well, well.  Mr Cocksure.

PAUSE.

Scampi: I can feel the sandy beach.  I can see the cliffs!

Peter: You can do a lot of things, it seems.

Scampi: Yeah, sure.  I can lick an icecreamcone if I’d of bought one last summer on the side of the highway.

Peter: Tense disagreement.

Scampi: That’s no lie.

Peter: Pardon me?

Scampi: Perhaps.  In time.  Hum.  Do you think Matthew Arnold accepts fan letters?

Peter: Are you having some massive hemorrhage that’s affecting your grasp of chronology?

Scampi: Says you.  Maybe I’m a mystic.

Peter: [hisses like an alkaline battery.]

Scampi: If I may say, your own existence is highly implausible.  Before you start twittering baroque minuets in my ear.

Peter: Before I what?

Scampi: It’s true, I’m not a mystic.  But the point is, I could be.  And you’d just be sitting there buzzing like a giant calculator.  Taking up a New York block with your messianic algorithms.

Peter: I would do no such thing.

Scampi: Don’t bet on it, mister.

Peter: I am not a betting man.

Scampi: That’s none of my business.  Save it for Blaise Pascal.

THUNDER.

Scampi: Woah.

PAUSE.

Scampi [whispering]: I’m just going to make some tea.

Peter: Whilst I shall glower to myself for full five minutes.

Scampi: And may I compliment you on your choice of ties?

Peter: [sighs] You may.

Scampi: Thank you.

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: We can see each other.  Can’t we?

Peter: Can we not?  Why wouldn’t we?

Scampi: If we had fully descended into darkness, would we think we could see each other?  When we couldn’t?

Peter: If it was dark enough, I don’t see how we could see anything.  We are not, ahem, bats.

Scampi: Maybe you aren’t.

Peter: Are you a bat?

Scampi: Why don’t you bounce some sound waves off me and find out?

Peter: I decline.

Scampi: Like a verb.  Sans action.  Oh, hum.  The tea is ready!

PAUSE.

Scampi: Here you are.

Peter: What were you laughing at?

Scampi: When?

Peter: What were you laughing at just now?

Scampi: I was just getting us some tea.  This is not a crime.

Peter: It is not.

Scampi:  Agreed.  A just conclusion, to be sure.

Peter: Ahem.

Scampi: I wonder if my memory of you would outlast you yourself.  Or the greyscale in the air between us.

Peter: I don’t know what that means.

Scampi: I do.

Peter: I have my doubts.

Scampi: Yes.  You parade them daily.

Peter: Excuse me.

Scampi: Explain yourself first.

Peter: There’s nothing to explain.

Scampi: Then there is nothing to excuse.

PAUSE.

Scampi: If you were an idea of mine, glowing in my head, you know, glittering like freezing rain or that type of thing.

Peter: If.

Scampi: Would you be bright enough to light your own way?

Peter: You’ve lost me.

Scampi: But in the leftover shine you could find your way back.

Peter: That’s not the sort of thing I understand.

Scampi: Yeah yeah.

Peter: In fact, I don’t think that’s the sort of thing anyone understands.

Scampi: Sour grapes.

Peter: I can’t hear you.  You’re mumbling.

Scampi: Oops.

Peter: You know why no one understands that sort of thing?

Scampi: I’m not listening.

Peter: Because it doesn’t make any sense.  That’s why.

Scampi: You pause to make dents?  Is that what you said?

Peter: No.

Scampi: I guess I’m not the only one who mumbles!  Around here.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Hee hee.  You should see yourself right now.

Peter: No thanks.

Scampi: Your incisors look like they’re ready to pop out of your face.  Canus petursus.

Peter: Spurious Latin.

Scampi: Don’t talk about Latin that way.

Peter: You know very well what I meant.

Scampi: Maybe I do.  Maybe I don’t.

Peter: No need to look so pleased with yourself.

Scampi: Why’s that?  Do you find it maddening?

A GULL ALIGHTS ON A POCKET OF AIR JUST OUTSIDE THE WINDOW.

Scampi: Say what you want about it.

Peter: About what?

Scampi: Clocks.

Peter: I do maintain, they move clockwise.

Scampi: We are the noisy armies and the detritus they leave behind and the quiet before they arrived.  All at once.

Peter: We who?

Scampi: And we are a couple of swallows.  A couple of sideswiping crustacea on the beach, blinking crabbily back and forth.

Peter: No doubt we are all these things.

Scampi: And because you are glowing in the dark—

Peter: I am doing no such thing.

Scampi: Then what am I using to read?  A pocket flashlight?

Peter: A POCKET FLASHLIGHT?  What?

Scampi: Certainly not.  Calm yourself.

PETER SIMMERS.

Scampi: There’s no way I can see this far for nothing.

pt 68: THE TRUMPETS FROM AFAR

Scampi: I like to be near the water.

 

Peter: Mm.

 

Scampi: Did you know that? Peter?

 

Peter: Hm?

 

Scampi: The water. I like it.

 

Peter: Have some water. Help yourself.

 

Scampi: No, no. Like, the shoreline, like, a body of water.

 

Peter: Oh, heave ho.

 

Scampi: Sail away!

 

FOGHORN-LENGTH PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Right.

pt 71: HE LIVES BY THE RIVER

Scampi: I would like to begin this essay by first establishing.

HOURS PASS, LIKE HONEYBEES.

Scampi: Peter?

Peter: Yes?

Scampi: Well, what do you think?

Peter: I think it’s time for some spring cleaning.

Scampi: It isn’t spring yet.

Peter: In Mesopotamia it is.

Scampi: The rivers.  They are warming in the sun.

Peter: I am currently planning to wash my drapes?

Scampi: Was that a question?

Peter: I don’t know.

Scampi: It certainly sounded like one.

Peter: If I could just.  Argh!

Scampi: Maybe you should leave the curtains for another day.

Peter: Perhaps.

Scampi: You can approach your intended goal in small, manageable chunks.

Peter: This is a strategy.

Scampi: It is.  You might do well to employ it.

Peter: Allow me to prevaricate further on this matter.

Scampi: Of course.  I suggest you leave the curtains, though.  For the moment.

Peter: But.  Ah.

Scampi: The dust, you see.

Peter: Oh.  Yes.

Scampi: Do you know what I’m doing?

Peter: I do not.

Scampi: I know you don’t.

PAUSE.

Scampi: I’m sorting through these ribbons.

Peter: Mm.

Scampi: I’m laying them out, you see, such that they don’t get creased.

Peter: [glancing over] What are those?

Scampi: Ribbons.

Peter: Oh.

Scampi: This one here for example.  It’s the colour of your eyes.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: Lies!

Peter: What was that?

Scampi: Unless your eyes are black and white polkadots.  Which I suppose they are.

Peter: There’s this splinter in my thumb.

Scampi: What are you planning to do about that?

Peter: Nothing.  I suppose.

Scampi: I could help remove it.

Peter: No, no.

Scampi: It would be easy peasy.  A simple operation.

Peter: No thank you.

Scampi: Are you sure?

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: Really?  Sure sure?

Peter: I’m positive.

Scampi: Fine then.

Peter: It is.

Scampi: Be that way.

Peter: I shall.

Scampi: No one doubts it.

PETER SNUFFLES AT HIS HAND, COLTISHLY.

Scampi: Oh, that’s very productive.

Peter: [muffled] Sorry?

Scampi: No man is an island!

Peter: (ARGH!)  An oft-expressed sentiment.

Scampi: I suppose you imagine yourself to be some sort of peninsula?

Peter: Mnph.

Scampi: Did you get it?

Peter: Half.

Scampi: What happened?

Peter: It broke off.

Scampi: Ha.

Peter: Were you saying something about the Balkans?  Just now?

Scampi: You wish.

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: [cackles]  If you wish.

Peter: I sometimes think you have an unhealthy fixation on the Balkans.  I believe.

Scampi: Oh ho.  That’s rich.

Peter: Balkan this.  Balkan that.

Scampi: How your own mind betrays you!

Peter: What now?

Scampi: That certainly sharpened you up.  Your ears just stood on end, my boy.

Peter: Poppycock.

Scampi: So, watcha wanna talk about?  The Iberian peninsula, maybe?  Perchance?

Peter: (primly) I have nothing against it.

Scampi: Such an assiduous opinionist you are.  La-dee-da.

Peter: At least I’m not a reactionary.

Scampi: Certainly not.  You wouldn’t react if I paid you.

Peter: Like a common thug!  Foul idea.

Scampi: Not you!  You wouldn’t react if I poked your patella with a toothshaped hammer!

Peter: Leave my reflexes out of this.

Scampi: I couldn’t drag them in if I tried.  Last I heard, they were on extended leave.

Peter: My reflexes?

Scampi: Never heard of them.  You rock of the ages.  Watertight, eh?

Peter: I am not made of stone.

PETER FILLS A COFFEE CAN WITH WATER.

Scampi: What are you doing with that thing?

Peter: Nothing.

Scampi: Observing your reflection?

Peter: No.

Scampi: Oh, Peter.

Peter: What?

Scampi: You’re a human bean, of course.

Peter: Ahem.

Scampi: Not a rock at all.  Of course not.

Peter: Did you say bean?

Scampi: A furry little beanstalk.

Peter: Few have called me little.  If I could insert a parenthesis.

Scampi: Brackets away!

Peter: I am not familiar with this expression.

Scampi: For which the subcommittee forgives you preemptively.

Peter: Preemptively?  But I said it just now.

Scampi: They’d forgiven you already.

Peter: The subcommittee.

Scampi: Yes.  They can’t resist you.

Peter: I’ll leave that to your discretion.

Scampi: What?

Peter: The train of thought.

Scampi: Oh.  That’s very generous of you.

PAUSE.

Scampi: You could use the water to water some plants.

Peter: That is what I had planned.

Scampi: Is it?

Peter: I had planned that already.

Scampi: I don’t doubt it.

Peter: Then the matter is settled.

Scampi: Sure.

Peter: Don’t call me sir.

Scampi: Why not?

Peter: Just don’t.

Scampi: Why?

Peter: I don’t like it.

Scampi: Does it make you feel old?

Peter: No.

Scampi: The auld sod.

Peter: Nothing of the sort.

Scampi: Shall I call you Ol’ Man Pete?

Peter: No.

Scampi: Would you like that?

Peter: I would not.

Scampi: That’s Ol’ Man Pete for ya.  Short and to the point!  Oh yes.  Yes sir.

Peter: There you go again.

Scampi: You’re glowing like a sunbeam.

Peter: I am?

Scampi: You almost laughed just now.  I saw it.

Peter: Hearsay.

Scampi: That’s right.  I’m here, and I say so.

Peter: I—

Scampi: You concede the point with your silence.  I understand.

PETER CONCEDES THE POINT.

Peter: Whatever it might be.

Scampi: Agreed.  How’s the spring cleaning coming?

Peter: Fine.

Scampi: I’m not sure how up to date you are with geography and such.

Peter: I am a modern man.

Scampi: Or a variation thereof.  A peninsula, as you may know, might sometimes drift out to sea.

Peter: Impossible.

Scampi: I mean break off, you know.  Like splinters.

Peter: Yes, well.  It might.

Scampi: The land, however.  It’s the same.

Peter: I am not following you.

Scampi: It doesn’t matter.  On either side of the water.  Same dirt.  Following be damned.

Peter: Are you discussing soil samples?

Scampi: History takes a long view of things, Peter.

Peter: And how does this pertain to soil samples?

Scampi: We all do, Peter.  In the end.

pt 70: HATCHLINGS

Scampi: I, for one, have no problem discussing things that aren’t there.

 

Peter: Isn’t that called gossiping?

 

Scampi: Not at all. Gossiping is discussing people that aren’t there.

 

Peter: I agree.

 

Scampi: But I said things. Things.

 

Peter: So, you like to gossip about things.

 

Scampi: You are deliberately obfuscating my purposes.

 

Peter: How dare you.

 

Scampi: Ditto.

 

Peter: I didn’t realise you were in such a foul mood today.

 

Scampi: And this is how you achieve détente? Honestly.

 

Peter: Détente?

 

Scampi: Oh, I’m sorry. That entry in your lexicon has probably been hacked out. With a pair of plastic children’s arts and crafts scissors. Probably.

 

Peter: With what?

 

Scampi: Forget it.

 

Peter: How can I forget it if I don’t know what it is?

 

Scampi: [Nice use of italics. Copycat.]

 

Peter: Excuse me?

 

Scampi: Nice weather we’re having.

 

Peter: Uh.

 

Scampi: Fancy a trip to the ballet?

 

Peter: What, now?

 

Scampi: Why the hell not, Peter?

 

Peter: There’s no need to say my name so…..

 

Scampi: Acidly?

 

Peter: Well, yes.

 

Scampi: I wasn’t.

 

Peter: Oh.

 

Scampi: I would never use your own name as a weapon against you.

 

Peter: Well, that’s a comfort.

 

Scampi: I was merely suggesting that perhaps a trip to the ballet’s in order.

 

Peter: Okay.

 

Scampi: Perfect. I shall book our tickets presently.

 

Peter: That is to say, I must first consult my schedule—

 

Scampi: There is a hard k sound in that word, I’ll have you know.

 

Peter: Perhaps I have a previous engagement. And of course, today may not be—

 

Scampi: Right.

 

Peter: You see.

 

Scampi: A simple ‘no’ would suffice.

 

Peter: When has a simple ‘no’ sufficed with you? May I be so presumptuous as to inquire?

 

Scampi: You wouldn’t know if it had.

 

Peter: Well, when has it?

 

Scampi: When last you tried it. And when was that?

 

Peter: Well, I—

 

Scampi: Bingo!

 

Peter: Are you calling me a hound?

 

Scampi: In a manner of speaking.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Anyway, I’ve seen a lot of sunsets lately.

 

Peter: [murmurs.]

 

Scampi: Not that you care. But I have been present for a number of them. Setting suns. Well, I don’t always see them. But I know what’s going on.

 

Peter: When?

 

Scampi: When the sun sets. Like, I might not be watching the colour.

 

Peter: Fascinating.

 

Scampi: Yes. Nonetheless, I know night’s coming on.

 

Peter: It is?

 

Scampi: It has been. It was.

 

Peter: Is this a grammar review?

 

Scampi: Probably. With bonus background squalor.

 

Peter: Such as?

 

Scampi: The racket of crows. Racketeering.

 

Peter: But that means –

 

Scampi: I know what racketeering means, Maestro. Jay-sus.

 

Peter: I believe you just called me Maestro.

 

Scampi: I’d like to see you prove that in a court of law.

 

Peter: I could.

 

Scampi: No doubt. I am waiting, on tenterhooks, as they say.

 

Peter: I feel you are making a mockery.

 

Scampi: Of what, your legal aspirations?

 

Peter: No,

 

Scampi: Litigation’s not your strong suit, I don’t think.

 

Peter: I never said it was.

 

Scampi: Yes. And I’m saying it isn’t.

 

Peter: The accuracy of your judgment has been called into question before.

 

Scampi: By who? The invisible magistrate you’re busy romancing with your silver tongue?

 

Peter: Pardon me?

 

Scampi: Ha! Pardoned, my lord!

 

Peter: Really.

 

Scampi: Perambulation, now. This could be your strong suit.

 

Peter: I am an excellent walker.

 

Scampi: And a shameless braggart, to boot.

 

Peter: Are you speaking of me?

 

Scampi: Har. Not at all, not at all. I am speaking around you. Do you know what they call this?

 

Peter: Yes.

 

Scampi: That’s right. Circumlocution. Like a choo-choo train in the 1800s.

 

Peter: I object.

 

Scampi: Sustained!

 

Peter: That’s enough of that, that,

 

Scampi: Sustained, I say! Case closed!

 

Peter: Uh huh.

 

Scampi: Congratulations, counsel.

 

Peter: (flattered) Well, thank you.

 

Scampi: You are an excellent specimen of human elasticity!

 

Peter: Oh. I.

 

Scampi: A barrister of note! A solicitudinous solicitor!

 

Peter: Yes well.

 

Scampi: In light of your great achievements, I would hereby like to call you to the bar!

 

Peter: Wait, doesn’t that happen before—

 

Scampi: The COFFEE BAR!

 

Peter: What?

 

Scampi: Pardon? Or would you like some tea?

 

Peter: In fact, I would.

 

Scampi: Is that all? Why didn’t you say so in the first place?

 

Peter: I don’t know.

 

Scampi: One pot o’ tea, coming right up.

 

Peter: Ah.

 

Scampi: Let me just put the kettle on.

 

Peter: Rather.

 

Scampi: Oh look!

 

Peter: Yes?

 

Scampi: The sun is setting.

 

Peter: Correct.

 

Scampi: The colours. At the risk of repeating myself.

 

Peter: You brave that precipice regularly.

 

Scampi: I do.

 

Peter: Yes.

 

Scampi: It is a risk I am willing to take.

 

Peter: It is.

 

Scampi: I do love the colours, Peter.

 

Peter: I know you do.

 

Scampi: I love them every time.

pt 61: THE SLOWER ROAD

Scampi: Peter, I don’t know what to think.

 

Peter: Oh? Why is that?

 

Scampi: Well, I don’t know.

 

Peter: Hardly surprising, I suppose.

 

Scampi: Everything’s going so slowly.

 

Peter: I thought you said just the other day that time was whipping past at an appalling rate.

 

Scampi: Perhaps I did. But things are going very slowly as well.

 

Peter: I see.

 

Scampi: Something or other haunts my dreams.

 

Peter: Something or other?

 

Scampi: Yes. It haunts me.

 

Peter: What does?

 

Scampi: I just told you.

 

PETER FUMBLES HIS GLASSES IN FRUSTRATION.

 

Scampi: Oh, don’t give me that.

 

Peter: Give you what? I’ve given you nothing.

 

Scampi: No one’s going to argue with you on that score.

 

Peter: Pardon me?

 

A NORTH SEA FOG DESCENDS UPON PETER’S HEAD, MUFFLING HIS VOICE.

 

Scampi: I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean that. You are a gift. A treasure, to be sure.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Look, I didn’t mean that.

 

Peter: That I’m a treasure?

 

Scampi: No, the other part. Let’s forget it.

 

Peter: Okay.

 

Scampi: Sweet equanimity.

 

Peter: Yes.

 

Scampi: I’m not sure what to make of anything, at present.

 

Peter: Oh?

 

Scampi: I know you’re not a big fan of jazz, for example.

 

Peter: What is that an example of, pray tell?

 

Scampi: Your musical tastes.

 

Peter: Ah.

 

Scampi: No jazz: check. But me on the other hand.

 

Peter: But you on the other hand.

 

Scampi: That seems pretty much all there is to say about it, really. I am on another hand. If I’m anywhere at all.

 

PETER SCRATCHES HIS HEAD.

 

Scampi: Are you very restless today?

 

Peter: No, I don’t think so. Why?

 

Scampi: All this moving about with your head and your accessories.

 

Peter: I do not feel that there has been undue movement.

 

Scampi: Well, not undue, no.

 

Peter: Then we are agreed.

 

Scampi: I love it when that happens!

 

PETER CLEARS HIS THROAT.

 

Scampi: What would you compare me to, if you had to compare me to something?

 

Peter: I would not.

 

Scampi: A mountain? A bird’s nest?

 

Peter: No.

 

Scampi: It was worth a try.

 

Peter: What was?

 

Scampi: The poking, the prodding. It’s nice to figure out what’s going on.

 

Peter: In my warehouse of analogy?

 

Scampi: Precisely.

 

Peter: I believe that building belongs to you.

 

Scampi: I suppose it does.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi (magnanimously): But you may visit whenever you like.

 

Peter: You are too kind.

 

Scampi: Ain’t it the truth. When was the last time you used a hammer?

 

Peter: Me?

 

Scampi: No, the postman.

 

Peter: What postman?

 

Scampi: Yes, you. A hammer. When did you use one last?

 

Peter: That’s not really the sort of thing I keep track of. That is to say,

 

Scampi: Maybe to put up a picture in your house?

 

Peter: Maybe.

 

Scampi: If I pressed a hammer into your hands at this very moment, what would you do with it?

 

Peter: I don’t know.

 

Scampi: Well. There you go, then.

 

Peter: What are you talking about?

 

Scampi: Tools.

 

Peter: I see.

 

Scampi (dreamily): I don’t know, either.

pt 65: I HAVE LONG BEEN A SLEEPER BUT I TRUST

Scampi: Antarctica is full of snow.

 

Peter: What’s this?

 

Scampi: Valleys and plains, all made of snow. Lakes of snow.

 

Peter: Oh, really? Have you been?

 

Scampi: You know I have not.

 

SCAMPI REFLECTS UPON THESE AND OTHER FACTS FOR ONE OR TWO, PERHAPS SEVERAL DAYS.

 

Scampi: I am in the air on the subject, like a weather balloon.

 

Peter: What subject?

 

Scampi: I have been thinking.

 

Peter: Laudable.

 

Scampi: Is it?

 

Peter: Well, I suppose.

 

Scampi: You suppose so. Do you?

 

Peter: I suppose I do.

 

Scampi: Suffused with supposition. That’s you.

 

Peter: Where’s this going, now?

 

Scampi: Where do you want it to go? To the mountains?

 

Peter: Onward and upward.

 

Scampi: As they say.

 

Peter: They do. Wait, who does?

 

Scampi: They say it all the goddam time, Peter. You know this.

 

Peter: Are you in a violent frame of mind this morning?

 

Scampi: Who, me? I am a dove, a dove.

 

Peter: [PERTURBED]

 

Scampi: [ATTEMPTS THE QUIET OF MOUNTAIN RANGES.]

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Would you like to play a game?

 

Peter: Unlikely. What sort of game?

 

Scampi: A parlour game. An old-fashioned rigamarole of a time.

 

Peter: What?

 

Scampi: This diversion is called “Fill in the blanks”. Ready?

 

Peter: I suppose.

 

Scampi: Ahem. The death of a loved one is ______?

 

Peter: What?

 

Scampi: You’re supposed to fill in the blanks.

 

Peter: I don’t understand this game.

 

Scampi: Why not?

 

Peter: It doesn’t make any sense.

 

Scampi: No. It doesn’t.

 

Peter: I would like to clear my throat.

 

Scampi: I support that.

 

Peter: Thank you.

 

Scampi: Have a clearance sale. Folks will come for miles. PETER’S BIGTIME THROAT-CLEARANCE SALE! EVERYTHING MUST GO!

 

Peter: I don’t know what manner of amphibian is setting up shop in there.

 

Scampi: In your throat?

 

Peter: Indeed. But I feel he should select a different habitat.

 

Scampi: Sometimes one has to move.

 

Peter: Yes.

 

Scampi: Sometimes one is in the wrong spot.

 

Peter: Quite.

 

Scampi: The significance of this is not lost on me. For example.

 

Peter: Oh, very little is.

 

Scampi: Very funny.

 

Peter: I thought so.

 

Scampi: I could tell.

 

PETER CLEARS HIS THROAT.

 

Scampi: Did we ever make it to Mexico?

 

Peter: I don’t know.

 

Scampi: Are we leaving them behind? Or are they leaving us?

 

Peter: Who?

 

Scampi: Our loved ones.

 

Peter: I don’t know.

pt 63: DUNKIRK

Scampi: I had heard – Peter, are you listening to me?

 

Peter: Hm?

 

Scampi: Peter. I’d heard that Jane Austen.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: You know who that is, right?

 

Peter: Of course I do.

 

Scampi: (Yeah, right.) Anyway, she signed her letters, “your affectionate sister, JA”.

 

Peter: Did she sign all of her correspondence in this manner? How unusual.

 

Scampi: Ugh. I mean her letters to her sister. Not her letters to like, the Archduke of Mumbleford or whatever.

 

Peter: Oh? And how did she sign those letters?

 

Scampi: Humph. Well, think about this: Seventeen thousand Senegalese people died defending France in 1940. Did you know that?

 

Peter: I did not.

 

Scampi: I find it very upsetting.

 

Peter: You do seem agitated.

 

Scampi: Thank you.

 

SOFT PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Oh god.

 

Peter: What?

 

Scampi: The air is full of snowflakes.

 

Peter: So it is. Is there a problem?

 

Scampi: I don’t know, Peter. Sometimes the massive beauty of the world is just too much for me. I don’t know what to say.

 

Peter: I don’t understand your use of italics there.

 

Scampi: Peter!

 

Peter: Am I missing something here?

 

Scampi: Pay attention! Seventeen thousand troops from Senegal were killed defending France. The air is full of snowflakes.

 

Peter: There you go with those italics again.

 

PETER RUBS HIS FOREHEAD.

 

Scampi: I was quoting myself. I was summing up.

 

Peter: What’s the difference between quoting yourself and repeating yourself?

 

Scampi (valiantly): Please look out the window.

 

Peter: The snow is falling.

 

Scampi: Or are we falling? Peter.

 

Peter: We seem fairly stable, as compared to the snow.

 

Scampi: (snorts)

 

Peter: What?

 

Scampi: Oh, you can have your opinions. Oh, certainly.

 

Peter: (offended)

 

Scampi: My tea is cold.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Peter, I wonder –

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: I’m not sure.

 

Peter: With whom are you speaking?

 

Scampi: You.

 

Peter: I see.

 

Scampi: Peter, I’m adressing you.

 

Peter: Ah.

 

Scampi: Like a letter. Haw haw.

 

PETER POLISHES HIS GLASSES. SCAMPI PIROUETTES.

 

Scampi: You know what we should do?

 

Peter: I do not.

 

Scampi: We should go to church!

 

Peter: Pardon me?

 

Scampi: I know that you heard me.

 

Peter: I confess, I did.

 

Scampi: Confessing already! Let’s go find a church.

 

Peter: Why would we do that?

 

Scampi: I think it could be a fun adventure.

 

Peter: Don’t we have enough adventure in our lives?

 

Scampi: HA! That’s rich. The last tweed-covered person who had as many adventures as you was Sherlock Holmes. Ha ha.

 

Peter: I have no idea what you’re speaking of.

 

Scampi: Imagine: a church in the midst of all these snow flurries. So quaint. We will pretend to be foreign emissaries. We will receive a hero’s welcome.

 

Peter: From the rector?

 

Scampi: The rector! Hilarious.

 

Peter: What do you want to visit a church for?

 

Scampi: I want to light candles.

 

Peter: Ah.

 

Scampi: I want to see in the dark.

 

Peter: But it isn’t dark out.

 

Scampi: In a church it is.