The Rusty Toque | Special Feature| Drama | October 12, 2012
BOY IN HOODIE
Outside. Night. A neighborhood.
A teenaged boy in a hoodie holds a flashlight to his face.
BOY IN HOODIE:
Death. Death. Death. Death. Comes. Not. Death comes not because death is already here. Death lives. Life is Death.
He drops the flashlight to his side.
“Life Is Death”. As a band. Excellent band name. It’s everything. It’s true. It’s tiny. Protons and neutrons and subatomic particles. A Universe the size of a particle of a particle of a particle of a particle of a grain of sand on a beach of particles of particles of particles of grains of sand Universes. Times infinity. And constantly in motion. Without movement there is nothing. But that’s not death. Death is different than nothing. Those protons and neutrons and subatomic particles don’t die. They just are or are not. Only ideas die. And thoughts die. And bodies die. But ideas are made of thoughts and bodies are made of thought. Bodies are just something to think about. Bodies are the transformers of thought. Bodies are just something to walk around in and pick things up with. Bodies die. Thoughts die. But the protons and neutrons and subatomic particles are into infinity. Unless they’re not. Then they’re just not. Into infinity. “Into Infinity”. Good band name.
I’m standing in Beverly Fitzgerald’s driveway. It’s Saturday night and I’m standing in Beverly Fitzgerald’s driveway. I don’t know that it’s Beverly Fitzgerald’s driveway. Or I don’t think I know it’s Beverly Fitzgerald’s driveway. And I’m standing there looking at the moon.
He looks up.
People can make spaceships out of energy fields around their bodies and travel to other planets. Other dimensions. That’s fucked up. I wouldn’t do it._What if you got stuck there? What if it was worse than here? The moon is a good thing though. Without the moon there would be no tides, no moonlight, no midnight. The moon keeps things interesting.
He looks to us.
And now I’m supposed to be good at math because I got a telescope for my birthday. Because that’s what I asked for. It’s a good one. I could have got a laptop. But I asked for a telescope instead. And now everyone thinks I’m good at math. And because now people who are bad at math are really supposed to be good at math, but just getting taught math wrong, I have to go to a special class. After freaking school. What about for people who don’t like math? Maybe I’m bad at math because I don’t like math. Maybe I just wanted a telescope and it has nothing to do with math. Maybe I just wanted a telescope so I could imagine being on a planet in some universe where math doesn’t exist. Just because a person asks for a telescope doesn’t mean they’re good at math, maybe they’re just depressed.
My Mom said that when she was in school sometimes the teacher would play records. In class. She played me one. Cat Stevens. That’s fucked up. You couldn’t do that now. There’d be a riot. It would be on the news.
He looks up.
You know at 9/11 within one hour of the planes they had a theme song for it. I was really little. I was watching TV. I remember the music. I think that’s the first thing I remember. The next thing I remember after that is when my father died.
He looks to us.
“I have some bad news.” My mother said that. “I have some bad news.” That’s the first time anybody every said that to me. Or maybe when I was a baby and I don’t remember somebody might have said that. But why would somebody say “I have some bad news” to a baby. “I have some bad news.” Nobody ever says “I have some bad news” unless they really do. But it’s all bad news. Unless “we are made of thought and thought dies” is good news to you. And if it is good news to you, then think of me next time you’re dancing with a fairy in a field under a rainbow with a leprechaun in your pocket on the back of a unicorn. Dancing With a Fairy in a Field Under a Rainbow. That would suck as a band name. That band would suck. Or it would be brilliant._Ed has a rainbow on a t-shirt. A rainbow in his brain. You know, dream catchers and pot and a ponytail, a rainbow in his brain. My Mom’s been trying to get him to cut his ponytail for years. It’s not even a ponytail now. It’s more like a skinny grey tail now. It’s okay to me but kind of depressing. Getting old. Shrinking. Turning to dust. He never asked me to call him Dad. I appreciated that. My mom was always “you can call him Dad if you want to.” And this is way after the best-before date for that conversation. Ed doesn’t care. We don’t need to have that conversation. Ed and me have lots of conversations. Conversation. That’s what we call it. Some people say “let’s get some fresh air” or “time to blow a doob” or “how about we hit a spliff”, Ed says “Perhaps we need to have a Conversation”. Ed’s hilarious. (laughs)
He looks up.
And I’m standing in Beverly Fitzgerald’s driveway and I’m laughing because I’m thinking about something Ed said while we where having a Conversation and I hear: “What’s so funny?” And that’s one of those really hard questions to answer. Like “what are you thinking”. Actually its even harder to answer than “what are you thinking” because whatever you’re thinking had better be funny or you’ll look like a knob. And it’s especially hard because you didn’t know anyone could hear you, and that is more especially hard because as soon as you realize someone could hear you you immediately forget what you laughed at, and most especially it’s a hard question because Beverly Fitzgerald is asking it. And this is when I realize that the driveway I’m standing it is Beverly Fitzgerald’s driveway. And this is when I realize that Beverly Fitzgerald is sitting in the dark on her front step. How long has she been there?
And I say: Oh hey. And she says again: What’s so funny? And I say: Just life, you know, the joke of life you know. We are puppets, we are sheep, as The Down say. And she says: I love The Down.
She loves The Down? Beverly Fitzgerald loves The Down? Beverly Fitzgerald is a cheerleader. Beverly Fitzgerald is a cheerleader who goes to church. The Down is the music you put on when you want your used-to-be best friend from grade seven who is now really boring to go home. The Down is the only music my Mom yells “turn that down” at. Even Ed. At first he was all “whatever” but one time he came into my room and he says “How can that music be in any way helpful?” Helpful? I’m not looking for help. If I was looking for help I’d call the Youth Distress Line. I’m not looking for help I’m looking for confirmation. I mean Ed might have a rainbow in his brain but he knows that we are made of thought and thought dies. He agreed. I remind him. But then he starts talking about trees and eagles and bears and that’s when I turn up The Down. Confirmation.
Beverly Fitzgerald loves The Down. If Beverly Fitzgerald were a time of day she would be morning in the summer before anyone is up. If she were a drink she’d be that lemon water my mom makes by putting just lemon slices in water in a glass pitcher and stirring it with a glass wand that makes that sound when you stir it, the sound of he taste of the lemon. If she were a colour she would be yellow. If she were a band she would not be The Down. Beverly Fitzgerald is a cheerleader. Beverly Fitzgerald goes to church. I went to church once and my mom had a fit. I only went because there was a party after. But it turned out it was just a bunch of priests trying to start a cult or something. And all the other kids smoked. It was worse than just a normal crappy Sunday afternoon. Beverly Fitzgerald goes out with college guys. Beverly Fitzgerald is popular. Nobody popular likes The Down.
When I was popular I didn’t know what popular was. First there was just me and and a bunch of kids from the neighborhood, and then me and Gerry and some kids from school and then next thing it was me and Gerry and the popular kids. I always though you had to be looking for the popular people to get popular but I wasn’t. I was just following Gerry. But it turned out that Gerry was looking for the popular people. That sucked. I didn’t know we was popular until every weekend was all pool parties at houses with gardeners and liquor cabinets and popularness and I told Gerry I thought these people kind of sucked and he said but hey were his people. That sucked. Gerry hated The Down. Gerry would love Beverly. She could be on TV. She’s got a website. But it doesn’t say she loves The Down. It’s just shit about what she does and opinions and stuff. Apparently. I had a website. It was pictures of cats. Not cute cats or stupid dressed up cats or anything. One time there was this site of cats with stuff on them? Just random stuff. It was hilarious. So I started taking pictures of my cat with like a book on him or a slipper or a mug. The mug was hilarious. The cat was asleep. And then I just started taking pictures of my cat. And then other cats. Not doing anything special. Just not knowing I was there. Just being cats. Sleeping or eating or watching TV. My cat watches TV. And one time just that second after he saw a mouse. Not my cat. Some random cat. They’re pretty good. And one time a picture of a dead cat.
It was just some random dead cat. He was hit by a car. It was just a picture. It was a huge deal. It was on the news. I had to change schools. And which, why is that better? At least at my old school people knew me. First day at the new school I’m the Dead Cat Kid that nobody knows. Good luck with that. Gerry wouldn’t even look at me. After it kind of blew over I walked by his place. He was out shooting hoops with his brother. It was “Hey” “Hey” and I shot a few. Then Gerry goes inside and I think for his phone or a whiz or whatever. So I keep shooting hoops with his brother. And Gerry doesn’t come back. He wouldn’t even look at me. That was embarrassing. That sucked. I was cut off. And it turns out it wasn’t even him who started the cut off. It some other one of these new friends of his whose mother was the fucking city planner or some shit. Cut off. That was cold.
He looks up for a moment.
So I go to this new school. At first it’s like I’m wearing a stay-back-500-feet shirts. Ed said I should have worn one. At first people are just scared. Then people get curious. The assholes get curious first. They get drunk and yell questions that are supposed to be funny in rooms full of people I don’t know. Then the really creepy people start coming around. But they have true-creepiness radar and they can tell when somebody is a cat killer or somebody just took a picture of an already dead cat. So they just crawl back under the bleachers. Then the more-normal people. They can be good at it. They start out with talking about music or having a laugh. But they really just want answers to questions. To report back to the group. They want the story. The Story of the Dead Cat Kid. (laughs) That’s the album. Drops this Christmas. Walmarts worldwide. (laughs) And I’m the Dead Cat Kid and I don’t know anyone and I’m at some stupid assembly on hand washing or gun violence or some useless thing. If you’re interested in not spreading a virus or not having a riot, don’t have an assembly. And this girl gets up to thank the doctor or the cop for speaking and they say her name. Beverly Fitzgerald. And I think of Gerry because he would have loved that “Beverly Fits Me!” Nobody but his Gramma called him Gerald but it still would’ve worked. Beverly Fits Gerald. He would have loved that. And I actually cracked a smile and I remember that I did because it was the first time since I got to that school. Like I’m supposed to be in mourning all my life now. It was just a picture. And there’s Beverly Fitzgerald and she’s thanking the cop or the doctor and she’s like a movie star. She’s like a woman. I could see her in Maxim. On the cover. And she’s good at science. And she’s got a car. She’s perfect. And I’m the Dead Cat Kid and I’m standing in Beverly Fitzgerald’s driveway and I just found out she loves The Down and her parents are away she invites me inside.
He looks up for a moment.
My parents never go away. Ed and my Mom never go away. Nobody I know’s parents ever go away. Beverly Fitzgerald’s life is like a TV show. My mother won’t have a TV in the house. She calls it emotional pornography. She doesn’t say that to me. That’s what she tells Ed.
He plays with the flashlight a moment.
When Beverly Fitzgerald said “Wanna come in?” I knew that’s what she said but I couldn’t believe that’s what she said. Maybe she said “Water the grass” which some people do at night, or maybe she said “Gonna kick it” which maybe could mean take off or disappear. So I didn’t say anything and she had to say it again. And I didn’t say “yes” or anything. I just went in. All the lights were on. Ed would freak. Before he leaves any room Ed not only turns off every light but he unplugs everything. There was a funny little chair in the living room. It looked like it was like made by a farmer or something. You couldn’t sit on it. It had birds and shit painted on it like a kid did it. It was something like Ed might like. But nothing else. White sofa, beige-like carpets, white chairs in the dining room. My Mom would freak at white chairs in a dining room. Metal chairs in the kitchen. Beverly Fitzgerald gets me a beer from her fridge. I just put it on the counter because I don’t drink. My Mom would freak at this whole scene. Beverly Fitzgerald’s drinking vodka. Her phone is always ringing but she doesn’t answer it. Texts keep come in so she turns it off. She might be drunker than she looks. She’s pretty funny. Talking smack about everybody, and herself. She was pretty funny. And I ask her if she wants to have a conversation and she doesn’t know what that means. So I explain it to her and she really gets excited and she turns off all the lights and makes us go to the basement, which is like a lounge in an airport, with a bar. I don’t drink. I just don’t really like it. Beverly Fitzgerald likes her vodka though. So we have a conversation but I can tell why she doesn’t call it having a conversation because it makes her get really really quiet. First she mostly just looked at her hands and then stared at me. Finally she started talking but it wasn’t a conversation it was just her telling a long story about some party she didn’t go to tonight and then she got quiet again. Then she wanted some music. I said how about The Down and she got excited and had to go upstairs to get it. And I’m in Beverly Fitzgerald’s downstairs airport lounge bar and her parents are away and she’s maybe more that a little bit drunk and we just had a conversation and she just went upstairs to get The Down. And I feel like this: Phew. Phew. That’s the perfect word for the sound because the sound is the word and the feeling all together: Phew. Everything’s going to be okay. Things are going to get normal finally. Things are going to get better than normal. And Beverly Fitzgerald comes back from upstairs and puts on The Down and dances to it. I’ve never seen anyone dance to The Down before. Like this angry ballet. Like they dance on TV. She could be on TV. And then some other music comes on and I don’t remember what because while Beverly Fitzgerald was dancing to The Down I had a conversation with myself. R and B maybe. That guy who pees on people maybe. And Beverly Fitzgerald starts taking off her clothes. Her shirt and her bra. She fell down taking off her pants. She was laughing.
He holds the flashlight to his face.
It’s just protons and neutrons and strings of DNA. It’s the nothing of everything. It’s the ending of thought. But in the middle of all the ending and the nothing is an eye. And in the centre of the eye is a tiny iris. And inside the iris is a garden.
He turns the flashlight off.
The flashlight is for cats. You go out at night and sneak up on them and you take the picture at the same time you turn on the flashlight. They always look like they’ve been up to something. Like they’ve been caught.
After we did it Beverly Fitzgerald threw up and turned her phone back on. She stayed in the bathroom for a long time. When she came out she had another vodka. She talked about the party again and answered the phone a bunch of times. It seemed like time to leave a couple of times, and after about three times of maybe it’s time to leave I got up to go and she walked me to the door. And we were at the door and I turned to her cause I’m not sure to kiss her or hug her to shake hands and she says “Did you kill the cat?”
He turns on the flashlight.
I was just coming round the corner. And I had the flashlight on. On my feet on the sidewalk. Sometimes taking pictures of my feet on the sidewalk. And I stop and I see this thing on the road. And it’s a cat and it’s dead. It must have been hit by a car but there’s no blood and nothing flattened. It’s just like a normal looking cat lying down on the road, but he’s dead. And you can tell he’s dead. And the only way to tell that he’s dead is not by something that’s there–guts or crushed bones–but by what’s not there. Do cats think?
I moved him to the sidewalk after. That’s when I touched him. That’s all. I didn’t kill him. It was just a picture.
He turns off the flashlight.
And Beverly Fitzgerald says “Did you kill the cat?”
And I say yes.
He looks up.
Ed says “People see what they see you can only be responsible for what you do.” But I say, you can be responsible for what they see. It’ll probably be easier in the end.
He looks at us.
Ed liked the picture. Not like he liked it but he got it. It wasn’t his favourite. He likes a lot of them. He showed them to some friend of his who knows about shit like pictures and shit and he said they were pretty good. They’re pretty good. Pretty good. But it’s the end of the world and the Dead Cat Kid just had sex with Beverly Fitzgerald and if Nature really is alive and a She like Ed says, then she’s dying, and we are puppets we are sheep and government is religion, and God is physics and what difference is pretty good if there’s no future to get great in?
He looks up.
Yeah yeah, get me the Youth Distress Line please it’s an emergency. It’s all good. I can talk to Ed. We’ll have a Conversation about it. My Mom would freak. She hated that picture. She hated it more than anybody. It’s just a picture. Pixilations of pixilations. There’s nothing there.
He looks at us.
And right now Beverly Fitzgerald is on the phone or at a party and she’s telling everyone she talks to and everyone who wants to talk to her what the Dead Cat Kid said.
Monday will be interesting.
Could work. For a band.
He holds the flashlight in his face and speaks in a scary voice.
Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together for “Monday Will Be Interesting”!
DANIEL MACIVOR has written and directed numerous award-winning productions including See Bob Run, Wild Abandon, 2-2-Tango, This Is A Play, The Soldier Dreams, You Are Here, How It Works, A Beautiful View, Communion, Bingo! and his work has been translated into French, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech, German and Japanese. Daniel won a GLAAD Award and a Village Voice Obie Award in 2002 for his play In On It, which was presented at PS 122 in New York. His play Marion Bridge received its off- Broadway premiere in New York in October of 2005. In 2006, Daniel received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for his collection of plays I Still Love You. In 2007, his play His Greatness won the Jessie Richardson Award for Best New Play in Vancouver. In 2008, he was awarded the prestigious Siminovitch prize in Theatre. Also a filmmaker, Daniel has written and directed the feature films Past Perfect, Wilby Wonderful and the short films Permission and Until I Hear From You, and he is the writer of the feature films Trigger, Marion Bridge and co-writer (with Amnon Buchbinder) of Whole New Thing. Currently, he is playwright in residence at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.