To audience

I stood there and felt the room crackle around me. (pause) What does that mean? It sounds good. Maybe I’m reaching. The moment felt so good, I need to come up with something to describe it. And this is because our own version of events – events like this one, like when she pressed her hand into mine – seem cheap and inconsequential by their immediate fading. Because that is what they always seem to do. Its the same reason we feel a compulsion to snap a picture of everything. I know my own memory isn’t good enough to provide an adequate accounting for the things that just transpired so I must take a photo. Or tell a tall tale. With superlatives. I’m mos definitely reaching.

But the mind has to be good enough. Because the slow-gathering snowball of us has been building steam to something monumental. The first sight, gazing from afar, bumbled intros,  blah-blah – I knew it would get here. And I knew it would be this good. And maybe I don’t want to take a fuckin’ picture to remember it by. Something I’ll just put in a frame until the inevitable day I’ll have to rip it out, tear it to pieces and drop those pieces off a bridge into a slow-moving stream – where I’ll watch the torn bits of our faces slip away with the gentle current.

I’m definitely reaching now.

You’re just a scrub he says. I say I don’t know what I’m doing here and then he says that none of us do. But to have someone shooting straight at you? I mean, straight at you. Like he wants to kill you. But then they all do. For the books. The stacks of books that we were told to keep. You know, as soon as they started taking them away. We were told to hold on to as many as we could. Hide them and they would become valuable. My sister says that people have always gotta know. It’s the same as eating, sleeping and messing around. She kept hers in a post office box. But then they beat her until she gave them the key and the number. Bastards. I’ve only got a handful. A handful seems to be enough to get people shooting at you. I have a paperback with a sexy cover, some Popular Science magazines and a couple of original hardcovers. I keep the others in this backpack, but the hardcovers I keep in different places on my body. There is a Steinbeck strapped to my thigh right here, a biography of Jim Morrison taped to my back. And I also have a book of Emily Dickinson poems wedged right here (his crotch). It keeps the rutters away. I have to keep moving. I never get to stop. Catch a club to the brain if you hang around one place too long. Most of the time I just go to the place I just was and back again. And try not get shot on the way. It seems silly when you can’t even read. But we have to do what we can to stay smart. Smart is all you have these days.

Man 1: The Electric Fist?

Man 2: Lame. Something to do with an octopus?

Man 1: Too many legs.

Man 2: A Meerkat.

Man 1: A what?

Man 2: Right, nevermind.

Man 1: Boomin’ Uncle.

Man 2: Sounds promising. But can you spell the uncle part with a “k”?

Man 1: Sure.

Man 2: Boomin’ Unkle. Might work.

In rapid succession.

Man 1: Master Splash.

Man 2: The Lazarus.

Man 1: Nanobot Poppin’.

Man 2: The Ripple Dipple.

Man 1: Sounds like a flavor.

Man 2: Epic Motion.

Man 1: Ooo, good.

Man 2: The Final Struggle.

Man 1: Sounds religious.

Man 2: The Final Struggle Between Man, God, and the Eternal Damned for Ultimate Possession of the Collective Soul.

Man 1: That definitely sounds religious.

Man 2: Most definitely.

A man, Henry, sits at a curb, holding a paper airplane with a crinkled nose.

An old, legless, black man, Alistair, in a wheelchair approaches from the street.

There is no traffic.

Alistair: What happened to your airplane?

Henry: It crashed.

Alistair glances over his shoulder in the direction from which he came.

Alistair: Crashed, huh? Planes are ‘bound to do that.

Silence

Alistair: You should probably get on outta here, you know that?

Henry: Yeah.

Alistair: You know what happened, right? You been sittin’ here the whole time?

A cloud of unnatural tan/grey dust begins to roll over them.

Henry: I know what happened.

Alistair: Then let’s get movin’.

Henry doesn’t move.

Alistair: Is it your airplane?

Henry: I made it myself, but it won’t fly. It just crashes.

There is a terrible groan.

Alistair: Let me see that.

Henry hands the crinkled paper airplane to Alistair.

Alistair: Your plane needs a logo.

He pulls clippings from the Sunday comic pages out of his jacket pocket. There is a clipping of Garfield, Donald Duck, and the Superman logo. He licks the back of each and pastes the images to the wing of the plane. He hands it back to Henry.

Alistair: There. It will fly again.

Henry: Are you sure?

Alistair: Mostly. Now push me.

Henry stands and pushes Alistair through the thick dust cloud, away from the noise and terror.

Actually to Warren Ellis.

Without delving too deeply into my personal life, I’ve had a career reboot recently. I have been uncomfortable for quite some time professionally. But as of late, I’ve been able to distill this discontent into a slightly less murky plan.

No details of the plan spilled here, but I’m excited to say I have a title/concept/starting place/springboard. And I have Warren Ellis to thank thru Wil Wheaton.

Over on Wil’s excellent blog, he briefly links to a (new to me) concept called burst culture.

Zip over to Warren’s blog and zing…there is an explanation of the burst idea. His thoughts…

“Every day, millions of people download single lumps of data that take them three minutes to consume. They’re called mp3s. It’s a burst culture. Embrace the idea for a while.”

Out of this comes a new exercise for me. Quick 100 word play snippets. Daily (or near daily) as a process for learning more about my own writing process. Eventually, other people’s snippets.

Growth, development, new playwriting. Short bursts.