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 43: I HOPE THIS KNOWLEDGE OF CARTELS

Scampi: Do you know where Dubrovnik is?

 

Peter: Of course.

 

Scampi: (I doubt that Peter knows.)

 

Peter: Pardon?

 

PAUSE.

 

Peter: What was that?

 

Scampi: Remember how I was telling you about Mexico?

 

Peter: Uh huh.

 

Scampi: Well, get a load of this. In Mexico, when you have three or more people who commit a crime, they count as a cartel. Amazing!

 

Peter: Uh.

 

Scampi: Eh? Don’t you think?

 

Peter: And how does this affect us?

 

Scampi: Oh, Peter, don’t be so coy. You must know that I am thinking of our future as Mexican criminals!

 

Peter: How so?

 

Scampi: Do you think we should give our cartel a name? Or do we angle for the subtle air of mystery?

 

Peter: I just don’t think we have a cartel.

 

Scampi: Please do not allow your cynicism to infest our glorious future.

 

Peter: I am not a cynic.

 

Scampi: Don’t be so negative. Grumble grumble.

 

Peter: You’re really asking for it today, aren’t you?

 

Scampi: Asking for what? A whirlwind tour of crime and romance?

 

Peter: Well, for starters, what’s so romantic about a life of crime anyhow?

 

Scampi: Oh, I don’t know, Peter. The way it’s spelled.

 

Peter: The etymological gesture to Crimea? Is that what you’re talking about?

 

Scampi: If you like.

 

Peter: Because I don’t think the Crimean War has anything to do with Mexican cartels.

 

Scampi: It could be fun. We could be cowboys.

 

Peter: I don’t think Mexico has cowboys.

 

Scampi: Ridiculous! Of course it does. They just call them gauchos.

 

Peter: Are you sure about that?

 

Scampi: Are we ever sure, Peter?

 

Peter: SIGHS.

 

Scampi: Maybe we can carry flintlock Napoleonic pistols. Like wild west pirates.

 

Peter: This historico-linguistical pastiche is causing me to experience some degree of nausea.

 

Scampi: No worries. That’s just wedding jitters. It happens to everyone.

 

Peter: Ah.

 

Scampi: Don’t sound so pained. People will start to think you’re backing out.

 

Peter: Of what?

 

Scampi: The grand adventure.

 

PAUSE.

 

Scampi: Not that I’m calling you a coward.

 

Peter: I resent these implications!

 

Scampi: What implications? I told you, I’m not calling you a coward.

 

Peter: Very well.

 

Scampi: I’m just a little excited, is all.

 

Peter: Might I pose what I feel is a rather relevant question?

 

Scampi: Of course! This is a participatory plutocracy.

 

Peter: What?

 

Scampi: Go ahead, go ahead.

 

Peter: What exactly is this, ah, cartel of ours going to do?

 

Scampi: What do you mean?

 

Peter: Well, in my experience (which, I would like to point out, is entirely theoretical, in this context)

 

Scampi: (and in every other context, too)

 

Peter (valiantly): it is the case that criminals commit crimes. Ergo, I was wondering what types of crimes you had planned to commit. In Mexico.

 

Scampi: Oh, the usual.

 

Peter: Please elaborate.

 

Scampi: Well, we’ll be on horseback. As we have already discussed. I think this implies a little horse-thievery. And cattle-rustling.

 

Peter: Okay.

 

Scampi: And you know what? Speaking of plutocracies, there is great economic disparity in Mexico. I think you know what that means.

 

Peter: An impossibly unbridgeable chasm between rich and poor?

 

Scampi: Robin Hood!

 

Peter: Oh. So we’re to commit felonies based on principles of social justice.

 

Scampi: Jeez, Peter. You make us sound like assholes.

 

Peter: I suspect, somehow, that this is rather your line of work.

 

Scampi: Now, now. If you don’t want to rob the rich to feed the poor, that’s fine. I’ll think of something else for us to do. After all, your happiness is paramount. It’s at the top of my social calendar, right next to Sunday.

 

Peter: Your generosity touches us all.

 

Scampi: Perhaps we can sell pears illegally. They will be outlawed because of their deliciousness. Furthermore, they will make an indelible dent in the Mexican national consciousness. What do you think?

 

Peter: Pears.

 

Scampi: Yes: delicious, juicy pears. What do you say?

 

Peter: You want us to form a fruit-selling Mexican cartel.

 

Scampi: Do I!

 

Peter: Whom do you intend to include in this cartel?

 

Scampi: What do you mean?

 

Peter: Well, according to the intelligence you were imparting to me earlier, we need a third member to qualify as a cartel.

 

Scampi: That’s true. But maybe we could be handicapped.

 

Peter: What?

 

Scampi: We would think of ourselves as having three members. Or even five, really. But in fact, it would just be us. Conceptually, we’d be a cartel, and the law would view us as such.

 

Peter: Right. To sum up: Peter and Scampi go to Mexico on horseback armed with Napoleonic dueling pistols to start up a fruit-based, understaffed, conceptual cartel. Did I get that straight?

 

Scampi: You did! That was really great.

 

Peter: And when does this charming adventure commence?

 

Scampi: We ride at sunset.