Saturday, March 20, 2010
The professor is stymied
GREY GOAT ENGLISH PUB AGAIN.MAIN ATTRACTION IS THE BAR. THE PLACE IS BUSY AND NOISY, BUT NOW DOWN TO A DULL ROAR. THE PROFESSOR IS DRINKING WITH HIS PUBLISHER ONCE MORE.
PUBLISHER (HAVING A DRAUGHT)
Well,why so glum, chum?
It's alway women with you. (HE POINTS TO THE DARTBOARD WHERE TWO SCOTSMEN ARE PLAYING).
Why don't you take up darts. Or pool. You've had no luck with women at all. So tell me. What happened last night?
Ah, Professor Rath and the Blue Angel? Know the story?
Prof in love with a cabaret queen, but in my case, its worse, far worse. Maybe porn queen.
Yep. Thought she was Helen of Troy with that face. More like The whore of Babylon.
You're too crass.
But I have to agree with you.Helen of Troy. Face that launched a thousand ships.
But your Celia is more like, say, Phoebe Zeitgeist, perhaps the personification of the spirit of the age. Our age. What has been up has been pulled down. Superwoman rules. But still only a woman. Role models, Father, mother, teacher still in her psyche. Little girl wants to please. What do women want, what do I want, she is asking herself. "Why, I want what men want! Money, goods, sex, power, talent."
She is trying to find herself.. A little like a nun looking for salvation. But she keeps looking in the wrong places.
You should see the place I saw her in last night!
Let me take a shot at it. Hotel California?
Something like that.
She is moving from the red to the black.
You're almost claivoyant. How do you know these things?
Ah, breakdown or breakthrough. I once had a crackup over a woman. Spent seven weeks in a rubber room...Makes you thoughtful. Who was the crazy one? Me or the woman who should be in the cage?
Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. We were all up there doing the same thing. Spend all day looking for a symbol on the wall. Finding the symbol, falling asleep.
THE PUBLISHER PICKS UP A KNIFE AND FORK AND STARTS JUGGLING THEM IN MID-AIR. HE IS TAPPED ON THE SHOULDER BY A SERVER.
I think you need a sedative...More beer?
Yeah. Calm down. You're scaring the family dog.
Manic-depressive, I guess. We're all manic-depressives in this writing business. Graham Greene. Hemingway. Virginia Woolf.
And Heinrich Boll as the Clown?
You could be his character, will all that spoon tossing... I don't think I ever met a clown publisher before. But you're pretty damn surefooted as for a clown. You know what sells, and you encourage a writer to tell it true, to get to the heart of the matter.
Heinrich Boll. Starved a lot. Maybe like you-- part-time teacher and bookwriter.
HE LIGHTS A CIGARETTE.
Okay, okay, enough of this Lewis Carroll stuff...And Carroll was mad like a genius.
So what happened last night?
PROFESSOR (RUNNING HIS HAND THROUGH HIS HAIR)
I thought I saw the real Celia last night, through the window. Good God! Scenes straight out of Fellini...Only thing missing was the gay guy--or was he missing?... I think Lief has a streak. ..Achean wooden warships -- and farting Gryphons. Orgy. And you'll neve guess who was the Magus of the piece.
Mayor Frank Tweedy?
How did you know that?
Claivoyance of the mad....Besides, I've been in town for a long time. Tweedy likes his porn, some of it live. He likes it live. Hires actors.
PUBLISHER (TAKES ANOTHER SWIG OF HIS BEER)
And I must say you're a bit like him. Voyeur! Like to watch, Well,tell me what happened. Was it like "He play with she, I play with me?" (HE TAKES ANOTHER SWIG OF THIS CHARRINGTON'S TOBY)
Beer's making you garrulous, Willie.
It was darn near an orgy. And the Mayor was in it. And Celia was...
Poor little Justine.
She is moving from the red to the black.
What in hell are you talking about Willie? More stuff you learned at the jigsaw puzzle assembly plant?
She is moving from the red to the black.
You mean like out of Marat-Sade novel? Or maybe Stendhal. I can't read Stendhal. Frigging boring. That plot about the ambitious young priest who has the devil in him.
Devil. That's it. Debbil's got ya.
I think you're a little bit obsessed--possessed?--over this Celia.
Hey, I mean this as a friend. But have you thought about some sort of therapy? Maybe even an exorcism.
Celia's got you. And she's possessed you.
You could say that. Sometimes she seems to me to be the servant of the devil. Witch.
More prosaic. She is a seeker. But she's incomplete.
As I say, I think she is moving from conventional life to some kind of eerie cult, and she's hardly aware of it...Thinks it's learning, thinks it' art. It's probably that Tweedy. Got her into the hole that he's into. Got trapped in the Mafia. Mafia has his way with him. Makes him into a gangster, a pimp. Find all those good looking runaways from Suburgia. Brainwash them. Get them into Hieronymous Bosch, Peter Brueghel the Elder, H.P. Lovecraft, all those fantastic guys. Brainwash them. Administer drugs. Turn them into whores.
This is the mayor of our town?
He's in the Mafia so deep he has no idea how to get out...He's probably brainwashed too.
And I'm like a character in his goddamn film?
You know. Sort of like Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. Have you seen the movie?
You may turn out the blindfolded piano player at Lief and Celia's cult, brought to you by Mafia Tweedy.
Willie, you're nuts.
And I have the paperwork to prove it. But I was a doctor once, as you knew. Mad doctor, mad scientist. Mad publisher.
But I still say your Celia is moving from the red to the black.
(NOW LIFTING HS BEER AND HAVING A DEEP DRAUGHT)
Okay Willie. Explain it to me as if I were a little child.
Celia was like a nun, though in the clutches of some sort cult.
..Those enerby suckers, suburban vampires. She was like a nun looking for grace, looking in all the wrong places, including your place. You didn't have what she was looking for. So she chose the beast. Found him attractive.
But you've got something too. Your naivete. That is attractive. Because you werenaive and in the state of grace--I think you are in the state of grace. Are you?-you've strength. Strong because naive. Guard your naivete! You have the strength of a hundred men...At least until you get really involved with her. Then you'll be like Sampson. You'll pull the pillars down.
...She'll probably be at your window tonight.
Oh, if only it were true.
THERE ARE NOW FIVE BAND MEMBERS APPROACHING THE BANDSDAND. THERE IS SILENCE AS THE GROUP ASSEMBLES AND BIGINS TO PLAY.
THEY START WITH A B.B. KING BLUES.
MUSIC IN BACKROUND: THRILL IS GONE by BB King.
The thrill is gone
The thrill is gone away
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away.
You know you done me wrong baby
And you'll be sorry someday.
MUSIC: SONG ENDS.
THERE IS APPLAUSE.
IT IS QUIET IN THE PUB NOW.
THE PROFESSOR IS PLAYING WITH HIS BEER.
No, not gone for good. She was outside last night just after you had gotten back. She had to leave that party. It was getting to be too rough. Loving that cocaine too much. She needed you. Needed a sounding board, like all people hooked, but you guys were feuding, so she couldn't properly approach you.
Celia will find grace one day. And you'll be there. But thats so far into the future...
In the meantime, you have to impress her. Show her that you're worthy. Run for Mayor yourself!
Now there's a thought!
Why not? You're running for Professor every four semesters. Untenured. Got to be a politician for sure.
Run for Mayor. Chicks like Celia adore power. Look how tight she is with Mayor Tweedy. You must run for Mayor yourself!
Show that little Mafioso. Take his chick.
Oh if it were only that simple.
I'm in a triangle. Celia. The Mayor. Me.
But there's a fourth corner to every triangle.
Who is that invisible masked man? Who is really riffing her?
Don't be surprised if he's Italian.
Why should I be? So is the Mayor.
Ah. Pretty little mill town perched atop Toronto.
New Market for sure.
Cornfield subdivision and corn liquor from Bradford, bootlegging capital since the thirties.
THE PUBLIHER IS NOW DRUNK. HE SINGS.
Her father was a brewer
But she was a friggin' hooer
Her sister had bunions
And tits like friggin' onions...
Stop it, Keith.
But damn. You crazy bastards can be right on at times
AND FROM THE MANAGER ON THE MICROPHONE:
Time, ladies and gentlemen. Time!