Monday, May 03, 2010
The professor's self-portrait
ACT IV SCENE V THE FIRE IN BRADFORD, A play.
THE RESTAURANT DIRECTLY UNDER THE PROFESSOR'S OFFICE-APARTMENT. THE HONKY TONK GIRL, ROSIE AND THE PROFESSOR ARE HAVING AN ELABORATE THREE COURSE MEAL OF SURF AND TURF. THE PROFESSOR NOTICES SHE LOVES TO EAT.... AND WITH HER SOOTHING PRESENCE HE IS HUNGRY HIMSELF. THEY TUCK INTO THE LOBSTER.IT IS QUITE A BIT LIKE THE EATING SCENE IN THE MOVIE TOM JONES. THEY ARE ATTRACTED TO EACH OTHER, ESPECIALLY AFTER THE WEIRD SEX UPSTAIRS IN THE APARTMENT. . ROSIE AND THE PROFESSOR ARE DRINKING WHITE WINE BEFORE THE NEXT COURSE. THEIR EYES ARE ON EACH OTHER OVER THE LINEN TABLECLOTH AND THE CANDLE LIGHT. THE WINE IS BEGINNING TO AFFECT THEM. THEY GET A LITTLE MUSHY. THE FRIENDSHIP IS BECOMING COMFORTABLE
THE PROFESSOR INDULGES A LONG, GAZE AT ROSIE ROSE WHILE HAVING HIS OWN RUM AND COKE.
PROFESSOR(MAKING A SOUND OF CONTENTMENT)
This is such a cool place...Must be the seafood. Reminds, me, somehow, of my student days near a fishing village in Mexico.
You been to Mexico?
Sure, hasn't everybody?
I've been lots of places. Professional student, I guess. Protracted adolescence. Alway in the creative writing courses. Getting scholarships, fellowships. It seemed so easy, right up into my thirties.
Wow. I knew you were a writer, but I thought you were just a dabbler, your French course being your bread and butter.
Oh, I write lots. Probably too much.
A lot lately, especlially after my go-around with that Loreli,
Alway the Celia....Don't you know well enough that you should never mention the previous dutchess on a date?
Yeah, I've been talking about her too much. Sorry.
I see you're fiddlng with what looks like a manuscript . It's sticking out of your left breast pocket...Kinda destroys the lines of your outfit. What have you got there? It looks as if it's in stanzas. Poetry?
Yeah, it's poetry. I am really getting too old, too full of negative capability to write poetry. It seems open-ended. Dr. Doolittle's Push me-Pull you. That, or it's just too fine a form for me...I think I'm basically a journalist.
Hell, in any event an editor of something called Fiddlehead has said it right on in something I'd submitted. "These are not good poems."...How about that for a prof?
Maybe you had to suffer some. You know, the country song thing. Hurtin' poetry. Ya got hurtin' poetry?
Heh. I thought you'd never ask. Yes, I have hurtin' poetry!
THE PROFESSOR REACHES INTO HIS VEST POCKET AND PRODUCES A TYPESCRIPT, FOLDED OVER ONCE.
HE LAYS THE WORK FLAT AND PASSES IT OVER TO ROSIE ACROSS THE RED-AND-WHITE BISTRO TABLECLOTH.
ROSIE IS ABOUT TO READ, BUT SHE IS SUDDENLY DISTRACTED BY SOMETHING GOING ON BEHIND THE PROFESSOR.
SHE PUTS THE SCRIPT DOWN AND HAS A LONG GAZE PAST THE PROFESSOR.
Behind you. Don't look now.
That woman behind you, by the telephones, wearing a a hood. Really medieval.
PROFESSOR (HIS MOOD NOW SLIGHTLY BROKEN)
What's a strange woman got to do with anything?
Look at her. She is right out of the sixteenth century. Lorna Doone, you'd think.
Woman in a hood?...Oh yeah. There she is by the door....Where are we Sleepy Hollow? That's downright gothic.
I think I know her from somewhere.
Whoops. She's gone now.
ROSIE NOW TURN HER ATTENTION BACK TO THE PROFESSOR'S MANUSCRIPT.
Mind if I read it aloud?
Of course not. Spoken word. It's better that way.
ROSIE BEGINS TO READ
He saw the teardrop on the rose
And again he saw the teardrop on a rose
And he knew he could never melt the teardrop
And he knew this was already the end.
So he kissed the face of the evening wife
As he had kissed it before, in all its varying forms
And again said hello to the precipice of silence
A precipice of silence
For his eighteen months of loving.
The Queen of Swords is crossed over
And all the king's horses and all the king's men
Are trying to get her together again
To no avail.
Gigolo and Gigolet
This side of the Lake of Mutilation
Strike a match
And the hotel burns.
There is only this path of silence
As we dump our gods
And become like them.
ROSIE PAUSES. LOOKS UP.
Jesus, professor. You are not only a poet, you're prescient, I think. Somehow seems to me a death wish for both of you.
Listen prof, I think we should go upstairs and fuck.
Hoods. Bell book and candle. That woman is death.
We might have to fuck all night just to stay ahead of that Red Queen.. ..Or is she black?
THEY GET UP, THE PROFESSOR A LITTLE AWKWARDLY. THE PROFESSOR GOES TO THE CASH WITH ROSIE.
BUT NOT BEFORE GETTING ANOTHER GLIMPSE OF THE MYSTERIOUS WOMAN IN THE HOOD THROUGH THE FRONT WINDOW.