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.

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pt 120: GAMBOL

Scampi: Let’s put out coats on.

Peter: Our coats?

Scampi: Yes.  We each get one.

Peter: Ahem.

Scampi: Standard issue.

PAUSE.

Scampi: And our scarves.  Let’s go out into the world.

Peter: Perhaps later on.

Scampi: Later on?  What’s wrong with you?

Peter: That is a personal question.

Scampi: You wish.  You don’t want to go out into the world?

Peter: Perhaps.

Scampi: What are you, scared?

Peter:  No.

Scampi: Oh, I see.

Peter: What?

Scampi: Nothing.  I guess you just – don’t want to go for a walk.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: For whatever reason.

Peter: That is correct.

Scampi: Do you want some more coffee?

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: This is a good season to walk amidst the weather.

Peter: Certainly.

Scampi: To look up at the sky, for example.

Peter: This is always possible.

Scampi: That’s what you think.

Peter: It is.

Scampi: Yes.

PAUSE.

Scampi: One never encounters you listening to motown music.  I’ve noticed.

Peter: Well.

Scampi: I’m just saying.

Peter: What are you saying?

Scampi: I dunno.  The coffee is weak.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: Sorry.

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: We should dance.

Peter: [alarmed] Right now?

Scampi: No.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: But we should.  Sometime this year.

Peter: To what end?

Scampi: It’s the right thing to do.

Peter: I am unsure.

Scampi: I know.  I’ve been thinking about raccoons.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: Not that much, though.

Peter: Well, thank you for keeping me informed.

Scampi: No problem.  I’m here for you, Peter.

PETER RUBS HIS EYES.

Scampi: Rubbler.

Peter: Hm?

Scampi: Yes, this coffee is weak.

Peter: Yes.  You spoke about this earlier.

Scampi: I know.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Do you know what a lute is?

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: Hm.  It has to do with cats’ guts and love.

Peter: Of course!  What doesn’t?

Scampi: None of that: I’m just speaking about like, mid-century romantic-type ballads.  Minstrels and such.

Peter: Mid what century?

Scampi: An old one.  Say, sixteen.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: Finger plucking.  Courtly love.

Peter: I suppose you no longer wish to go for a stroll?

Scampi: I never said that.

Peter: Said what?

Scampi: I didn’t say I didn’t want to go for a stroll.

PAUSE.

Scampi: Do you want to?

Peter: Perhaps.

Scampi: It’s still daylight.

Peter: Yes.

Scampi: We could walk down by the river.

Peter: What river?

Scampi: I don’t know.  The Euphrates?

Peter: The Danube?

Scampi: Absolutely.  Lute-lee.

Peter: Pum-pum-pum-pa-pum-

Scampi: Pum-PA-pum-PA!  A waltz.

Peter: Where have I placed my necktie?

Scampi: Forget it.  This is an informal outing.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: It is a beautiful day.

Peter: Yes.  I feel an irrationally excessive surge of ill-will.

Scampi: Oh?

Peter: This is unavoidable, it would seem.

Scampi: Maybe I can help.

Peter: No.

Scampi: Oh, look!  A sparrow.

Peter: Indeed.

Scampi: Sh.  Stay still.

Peter: Umph?

THE SPARROW ALIGHTS ON PETER’S STANDARD ISSUE COAT.  THE LIGHT ADJUSTS.

Scampi: Ah.

Peter: Well, that was interesting.

Scampi: You made a friend.

Peter: I did?

Scampi: I think so.  Yes.

pt 95: _______

Scampi: Good to see you.

Peter: I realise you like to keep a diary.

Scampi: I don’t.

Peter: Well, whatever you like to call it.

Scampi: What?

Peter: I did not realise this was such a sensitive subject for you.

Scampi: I have no idea what you’re on about.  But, what do you think?

Peter: Of inaccurate records?

Scampi: No: Eugene?

Peter: Who?

Scampi: Do you think Onegin really meant to kill Lensky?

Peter: I do not follow that sort of thing.

Scampi: That’s ridiculous.

PAUSE.

Scampi: He can’t really have wanted to.  But then why did he do it?

Peter: I do not know.

Scampi: Clearly.

Peter: Well, it’s nice to see you, too.

Scampi: We see each other all the time.  So what?

Peter: I feel that this is not the case, in fact.

Scampi: Stop bickering.

Peter: SIGHS.

Scampi: Some people [astronomers] felt that it was divine, being able to foretell the motions of the planets.  The heavens.

Peter: Divine?  You mean in the Middle Ages?

Scampi: L’Âge des ténèbres!

Peter: Hm?

Scampi: Maybe I’m talking about the Reformation.

Peter: Perhaps you are.

Scampi: After the days of darkness.  The days of light!

Peter: The Enlightenment?

Scampi: I’m not saying we have to dwell on history or anything.  Around here.

Peter: What are you saying?

Scampi: I said it already.  I distinctly mentioned astronomy.

Peter: I didn’t hear you.

Scampi: Humph.  Do you know what a contrarian is?

Peter: I do.

Scampi: No you don’t.

Peter: Oh?

Scampi: A contrarian is someone who buys stocks.

Peter: I believe the term for that individual would be “stockbroker”.

Scampi: Hilarious.  Someone who buys stocks when others are selling and sells when others are buying.

Peter: Where did you find this information?

Scampi: Why?  Are you jealous?

Peter: No.

Scampi: Well, there you have it.

Peter: That is not an answer.

Scampi: Not for King Herod, anyway.

Peter: Are you suggesting that I am a fop?

Scampi: No.  Impossible.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: I just think it’s fun when we learn new words.

Peter: Education is important.

Scampi: And no one knows this better than you!  Har har.

PAUSE.

Scampi: I can’t go on.

Peter: What was that?

Scampi: I said,

Peter: You look tired.

Scampi: Hardly.

Peter: Slightly.

Scampi: One brick on top of the other.  This is how you build a house.

Peter: I thought we discussed the finer points of architecture previous to this juncture.

Scampi: I thought there was no architecture previous to this juncture.

Peter: How so?

Scampi: What a delightful fresco!

Peter: Pardon?

Scampi: I’m being a lady in Italy.  Looking at the buildings.

Peter: Ah.

Scampi: That’s right.  We could go to Italy.

Peter: It is certainly within the realm of possibility.

Scampi: What did you say?  I know what you said.

Peter: I see.

Scampi: Well, let’s go!

Peter: Ah, there are a few complications, of course.

Scampi: We can work as deckhands, on a steamer.  We can work in a café, on the Arno.

Peter: The plausibility.

Scampi: Yes?

Peter: It seems a stretch.

PAUSE.

Peter: I’m sorry.  I don’t mean to upset you.

Scampi: Does it matter if you mean to?

Peter: It does, I believe.

Scampi: And then Tatyana was married.  She rebuffed his advances.

Peter: Is this another Russian literature reference?

Scampi: Time is moving, Peter.

Peter: In what sense?

Scampi: It’s like a river.  Even if we just sit there, it moves us along.

Peter: I suppose this depends on the river in question.

Scampi: It’s a deep one.

Peter: Well.

Scampi: That, too.