Peter: This is what they call me.
Scampi: Let me tell you a story.
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.
Scampi: Among other things.
Scampi: Well, let us begin with the beginning.
Peter: A wise decision.
Scampi: In this case, yes. I believe so.
Scampi: Once. No, screw that.
Peter: An auspicious commencement.
Scampi: Uh-huh. Do you know who Porfirio Diaz is?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Scampi: [Ah, the layered approach. Like sedimentary rock.]
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?
Peter: I see.
Scampi: But it could be yours.
Scampi: Sh! The Sheriff’s men approach.
Scampi: We must wait for nightfall. Then we take the high road.
Peter: What? Where are we going?
Scampi: The coast.
Peter: And then?