Nail the Tale

Seven Parts: I. How About a Smaller Weapon; II. That Intermittent Rewards Thing; III. The Badness of the Aftermath of Badness; IV. How About Some Women in a Cave; V. A Spy from the Man Tribe; VI. How About some Men in a Boat; VII. Evil Men-Like Creatures in Caves.
Seven characters in search of a story: Art, Bert, Cris, Dave, Eddie, Frankie, Greta. Plus one guy who texts through Part I and departs in Part II, and one totally absent character: Mikey, who may or may not be bringing lunch.
Around a table. Talking. Cross-talking. Talking over. They’ve been at this awhile. They’re getting hungry.

Part I: How About a Smaller Weapon?

Art: We can’t have a kid killing his mother with a machine gun.

Bert: OK. How about a smaller weapon?

Cris: I don’t think the weapon is what’s bothering him.

Bert: What? The mother part bugs you?

Dave: How about somebody else’s mother?

Eddie: Or an evil step-parent?

Frankie: An evil supernatural step-parent.

Eddie: Or maybe another relative? An evil supernatural cousin.

Frankie: Or an evil supernatural twin.

Greta: Or an accident?

Bert: Accidental killing. Dogs him around, makes him do things. Drinking, smoking, compensating.

Art: Nothing involving a machine gun is accidental.

Cris: Increasingly desperate and fucked-up compensating.

Eddie: Oooh. Same flashbacks over and over.

Greta: And over… What? I didn’t really say anything, I’m just writing down whatever you guys say.

Dave: What if flashbacks changed in slightly different ways until they became the story and the present ceased to exist because it was in the future?

Greta: Are you high?

Bert: So do we want an evil child?

Cris: But wouldn’t the past be the present then, so the present couldn’t be the future?

Greta: I don’t know, I mean, hasn’t the bad kid been done to death?

Bert: Everything’s been done to death. Bad kid, good kid.

Eddie: Death.

Frankie: Yeah, but done is never, like, totally done, know what I mean?

Bert: I thought we were trying to do already done.

Art: You’re right. We don’t do the un-done.

Eddie: Besides, we’re just brainstorming.

Greta: Right, so back to the kid.

Dave: Unless the un-done only appears to be un-done but is really already done.

Cris: Don’t start.

Art: Abused child.

Eddie: Or son of Satan. Either one. Works the same.

Cris: What do you mean “works the same”? Having a bad daddy and a devil daddy are different things.

Dave: I’m not sure I agree with you about that. Isn’t a devil daddy also a bad daddy?

Greta: Yeah, but a bad daddy isn’t necessarily a devil daddy.

Frankie: Maybe he’s a bad daddy who just wants to be a bad devil daddy.

Bert: Wait a minute—the kid is a bad devil daddy?

Eddie: He could be a bad devil baby daddy.

Art: Oh stop it. Mother, father, pastor, teacher, doesn’t matter. We just need someone to kill and a reason.

Greta: OK. Abused child? Abuser possibly of supernatural origin? What’s next?

Bert: Revenge. Unjust punishment for revenge.

Dave: I’m feeling deep dread.

Part II: That Intermittent Rewards Thing

Texter: Whatever happened to the no-room-at-the-inn stuff?

Art: Where have you been? Do you know where you are?

Bert: Yeah. If you’d stop texting all the time.

Texter: I’m not texting. I’m taking very tiny notes.

Bert: Bet you said that in college. If you were taking notes you’d know what we’re talking about.

Texter: Well what’s it about? A kid and a motorcycle? Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

Cris: Aw, are you giving us the cellphone finger again? You want us to stop our conversation so you can have a conversation in front of us?

Dave: She’s right, come on, man, take the phone stuff out to the hall. We agreed.
(Texter leaves.)

Greta: Ok, so the kid’s been wronged and does something ex-treme-ly bad. What happened to the mother? Or are we going with the bad daddy or supernatural baby daddy or whatever?

Bert: Is cellphone-finger-guy somebody’s relative? Why is he even here?

Cris: Purposeful revenge or accidental revenge? Unjust punishment?

Dave: Or transcendence?

Art: He’s like Mac’s third cousin’s kid’s friend. Or something.

Bert: He’s an asshole.

Eddie: Who’s an asshole? The devil baby daddy? Or the sinister neighbor?

Frankie: Oh lay off about Mistah Textah–he’s gone, he’ll be out in the hall fo-ev-ah chattin’ checkin’ watchin’ checkin’ textin’ all his little frenz “Where are you?” “Where are you?”

Art: Don’t start with the hand-voice.

Cris: What sinister neighbor? Mac has a sinister neighbor?

Dave: Punishment for an accident that looks like revenge. Then transcendence

Bert: That relentless interacting with the phone thing? People just can’t help it. No really, their brains are all fucked up, brain reward center or something.

Greta: An accident, punishment for an accident. No transcendence. Stop it with the transcendence stuff.

Art: It’s that intermittent rewards thing.

Bert: So? It’s like he’s diddling himself all the time.

Eddie: Who’s diddling himself? The baby daddy? The devil?

Frankie: Nah. Cellphone-finger-now-out-in-the-hall guy .

Art: The guy who thinks we’re working on a story about Jesus. Or something.

Dave: Yeah. That guy. But that guy, the intermittent rewards guy?

Bert: Yeah?

Dave: He’s our audience, man.

Bert: That means he’s . . . holy shit!

Dave: Yeah, that means he’s like our boss.

Eddie: I don’t get it. Is Mac coming down here?

Part III: The Badness of the Aftermath of Badness

Dave: But the badness of an accident isn’t the badness of murder, I mean the badness of the aftermath of badness isn’t the same.

Cris: OK, so how about a gruesome accident that looks like a murder.

Greta: Or a gruesome murder that looks like an accident.

Dave: How old is this kid who is killing his mother or whoever? I mean, does he have the wherewithal to make a murder look like an accident? Do we even know who these characters are?

Eddie: If he’s supernatural he can make anything look like anything.

Art: What? I thought this was a kind of family story? With angst and redemption?

Frankie: It could be an evil family. An evil family story.

Eddie: An evil supernatural family.

Cris: Evil, but plagued by angst.

Greta: Or evil plagued by redemption.

Dave: But where’s the rub in that, I mean if we do evil we have to keep on doing evil. I mean good never looks good after evil.

Art: But evil looks good after good?

Dave: If it’s too good, evil looks better. Think about Milton’s Satan, man. Way more wow than Jesus.

Bert: Good, evil, doesn’t matter if it’s exponentially graphic and revolting.

Cris: I disagree about the iterations of evil thing.

Eddie: I kind of like the transcendence idea.

Frankie: What idea? We don’t have ideas. We what?

Eddie: We brainstorm!

Dave: Yeah. Intermittent rewards.

Bert: Where’s Lunch?

Art: How about an accident that’s ambiguous because of an intention?

Cris: Please. Don’t start the intention thing.

Dave: No, I get where you’re coming from. You mean there’s an accident but there’s also some Walmart receipt: extra-large garbage bags, shovel, extra-long cable-ties.

Cris: Duct tape.

Greta: Bleach.

Frankie: Ginormous ice chests.

Eddie: Saws.

Art: Security video.

Bert: Where’s lunch? Didn’t we send Mikey out like an hour ago?

Dave: Wait a minute, if the evil is a really pure kind of evil, can it even be intentional, I mean isn’t it just evil?

Eddie: How about a supernatural accident?

Bert: Would you text Mikey?

Greta: Don’t do that.

Bert: Don’t do what?

Greta: Don’t text Mikey.

Bert: Why not?

Greta: Because all language is ambiguous for Mikey. Things like “where the fuck are you” can lead to lengthy philosophical ruminations and then he’s all the way across town.

Art: Or down at the beach. We’ll never get lunch.

Eddie: We’ll starve.

Frankie: We’ll be too weak to call for take-out.

Greta: OK. Before lunch gets here, assuming lunch is getting here.: Kid? Or no kid?

Art: Damn we’re starting over again. Just shoot me.

Part IV: How About Some Women in a Cave?

Frankie: How about some women in a cave?

Eddie: Yeah. Girlfight. Animal skins.

Frankie: Skimpy animal skins.

Eddie: Maybe skins from pissed-off animals who want revenge..

Art: Yeah, yeah. Or supernatural animals.

Eddie: Good supernatural animals. Bad girls.

Art: Maybe this should be a cartoon.

Dave: Everything’s a cartoon now, dude. Have you been living in a cave?

Eddie: How big is the cave?

Frankie: Really bad girls. Supernaturally bad girls. Naked bad girls.

Bert: Except for the animal skins.

Greta: Where did these girls come from. Why would they be in the cave?

Cris: People who wear animal skins hang out in caves. Or should.

Bert: Girlfight in cave. Fire around which they were friendly and munching on vaguely disgusting things two minutes before.

Greta: Yes. Fire. Good for looming shadows.

Cris: Yeah, nothing like big ol’ shadows to make things seem bigger than they are.

Greta: And what is it with you all and girlfights? Why would girls in a cave be fighting?

Art: Men.

Greta: You think girls fight over men?

Bert: Aw, missy! Why do girls girlfight?

Cris: Same as men. No good reason. Uncertain status. Contested territory. Stuff.

Art: Well men could be considered a kind of territory.

Cris: Yeah. Vast territory.

Dave: How about the kid’s mother? Maybe she came from a cave.

Bert: The machine gun thing would be hard to pull off in a cave.

Eddie: Not if it’s supernatural.

Bert: A supernatural machine gun?

Eddie: Why not?

Frankie: Oooooh. A machine gun that makes people do things.

Eddie: Things they wouldn’t normally do.

Frankie: Baaaad things.

Dave: Animal magnetism.

Art: I thought we agreed the machine gun was a bad idea.

Bert: We don’t have ideas.

Eddie: We know, we know–we just brainstorm.

Part V: A Spy from The Man-Tribe

Eddie: Hey, hey. Maybe there’s a man in the cave who’s disguised as a girl.

Cris: Why the fuck would a man be disguised as a girl in a girl cave?

Eddie: Maybe he’s hiding from something.

Art: Something terrible.

Eddie: Something supernatural.

Cris: Disguising a man as a mostly naked girl could be tricky.

Frankie: Maybe he’s a spy from the man-tribe.

Bert: Maybe he’s the kid’s dad.

Art: You mean the kid’s supernaturally bad dad.

Greta: Why does the man-tribe need a spy?

Bert: Yeah, like what do they want? Recipes for zucchini loaf and other vegan delectables? Tips on accessorizing?

Greta: You are such a pig!

Bert: Ok. So no man, no man-tribe?

Frankie: How about a women war?!

Eddie: I can dig that.

Frankie: Way better than girlfight.

Dave: A women war would never end. They don’t do good artificial hierarchies of command. They don’t do good reconciliation. Endless power maintenance.

Greta: Have you been reading again?

Cris: Or his girlfriend has.

Art: I’m not sure. maybe we were onto something with the bad-kid-killing-mother thing. Or was it good-kid-killing-bad-mother. What the fuck was it?

Cris: It was the whimsy of the gods and the transcendence of revenge.

Dave: It was the badness of badness and the flimsiness of the good. The absence of ambiguity and complexity. The glowy transcendence of cartoons.

Bert: Guy, you don’t do so hot with low blood sugar. Where oh where is Mikey with lunch?

Eddie: Are we still talking about the cave?

Part VI: How About Some Men in a Boat?

Dave: How about some men in a boat. Men in boats act like women.

Greta: Did you hear what just came out of your mouth? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

Eddie: He probably meant to say that men in boats act like women in caves,.

Dave: Which has more opportunities for violence? A cave? Or a suburban home?

Art: How about a suburban cave?

Frankie: I thought we agreed they have machine guns in the cave.

Eddie: How about a bad storm and a flood and they get trapped in the cave and the machine guns float away and fall into the hands of a tribe of good girls.

Cris: Have you been smokin’ crack again?

Art: Actually a cave might have things in addition to or instead of the machine gun. Rocks. Bones. Torches. Animal sinews tied end-to-end to make a kind of rope.

Eddie: Hanging.

Frankie: Lassoing.

Greta: Hog-tying.

Cris: Good old-fashioned whippin’.

Bert: How about really young kids with pistols?

Dave: Yeah. Or toddlers in tanks.

Bert: How about the mother kills the kid, not the other way around.

Dave: Our minds have moved on into the cave, man, where have you been?

Cris: Besides, parents killing kids is less appealing than kids killing parents. We’re  a big baby culture–parents get in the way of intermittent rewards and just consuming everything all day all night. Killing parents, it just feels good to feel bad about it.

Bert: Get with the cave. The cave is cool..

Greta: OK. So no kid?

Bert: No kid, no mother. Where the fuck is lunch?

Part VII: Evil Men-Like Creatures in Caves

Eddie: Cave. Girlfight. Animal skins. Lasso-making.

Art: The beginnings of industry. It’s practically educational.

Frankie: I’m sorry, I think there should be men in or near the cave.

Greta: You’re right. Caves just don’t seem right without men in them or at least in the vicinity.

Cris: Young unemployed aimless men milling about outside the cave looking for ways, preferably violent ways, to express their frustration might work into the women war thing.

Dave: Endless self-righteous violence. Too topical.

Cris: Very very angry growed-up babies, still pissed off about weaning.

Bert: What war thing?

Art: Maybe we should reconsider the transcendence thing.

Bert: I keep tellin’ you, man: transcendence is invisible, it doesn’t show up on security videos.

Eddie: Caves don’t have security cameras. I’m just sayin’.

Frankie: Men in the cave?

Dave: Yeah, but not cave-men.

Eddie: How about supernatural men?

Greta: How about men-like creatures?

Cris: How about evil men-like creatures in caves.

Freddie: You mean evil men-like creatures in girl caves.

Eddie: Yeah, supernatural girl caves.


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