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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.


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.


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.

Burst is playwriting in easy to swallow portions.


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