I met an FBI agent once. Tess and I opened the door to find a woman in a grey peacoat and a low ponytail. She looked about mid-20’s, medium height, and frazzled. “Hello?” Tess said. The floor creaked as I peered over her shoulder. “Hi, …
Month: June 2019
Interesting to have the tips
of my fingers numb all the time;
I check my toes on cold days
to see if they need a warm soak.
My lips tingle from time to time;
my message worries the Clinic staff
enough to call—they think a stroke,
but she says nothing is drooping.
Buttoning is different on some shirts,
and zipping up feels different.
Don’t stub a toe, I tell me.
The pain’s the same. But the touch
worries me, and kissing isn’t the same
I am sure for her as well. If the numbness
worsens, the Clinic will cut back on
the chemo, but do I want that?
Yes and no. Yes and no.
David Alexander McFarland has completed a novel and has internationally published poetry, fiction and essays in such places as Stories, Southern Humanities Review, Coe Review, and The Paumanok Review. He started treatment for pancreatic cancer in 2018, and primarily writes now about that experience. He lives alongside the Mississippi River where it flows east to west.
Anthony’s work appears or is forthcoming in the Juste Milieu Lit & Art Zine, Genre: Urban Arts, 3Elements Review, The Bear Review, Owen Wister Review, Fearsome Critters, The Tulane Review, and The Manhattanville Review. A graduate of Loyola University Chicago, he lives in Kansas City, Missouri.
Michael Thompson is an artist living in Chicago who creates decorative kites for a living. His kites hang in the Venetian Macau Casino as well as in hotels and residences worldwide. He also pursues his interest in kinetic sculpture, mono-printmaking, assemblage and the making …
“NO BLOOD, JUST FRAUD”
LEN: A gremlin. Height: 1’1”. Irritated, Rhode Island accent. Sits like Gollum.
FELIX: A dragon. Height: 8’4”. If Winnie-the-Pooh was a theater major.
STODDARD: An insurance agent. Height: 5’10”. Human. Grey.
THE WATCHER: A raven. Height: 1’2”. Scene: A loan office. Overtly grey—specifically grey-with-an-e, not an a.
LEN and FELIX are waiting in front of a desk with a handful comically upbeat desk toys on the front (novelty bobbleheads, etc.). Large, plain door behind the desk. THE WATCHER eyes them from its perch. FELIX should spend the scene stealing office supplies, etc. off the desk.
LEN: You’re looking at the watcher, aren’t you.
FELIX: He’s looking at me.
LEN: Well, that’s his job, isn’t it? He’s a watcher. He watches. Stop looking at him.
FELIX: I don’t like this plan. We should have done the father-son scam.
LEN: Nobody is going to believe the father-son—are you seeing this? Are we living the same truth right now? In what fucking world is someone going / FELIX /Listen, if you believe it, it’s all about how you//
LEN: //If you say ‘master the physicality of the role’ one more time I’m going to stab you.
FELIX: You wouldn’t.
Beat. LEN sharpens something.
FELIX: You wouldn’t, c’mon. You wouldn’t go back to jail over that.
FELIX: [less sure] Len?
LEN: No, I’m not going to stab you.
FELIX: Okay. That’s cool. We could do it, though. Look, when I was in West Side Story, I was opposite this gnome who, like—like he couldn’t soft-shoe to save his life, you know? But he killed it as Tony ‘cause he knew how to, like
FELIX does several Broadway-esque dance routine move with a big finish to demonstrate. LEN is not having it.
FELIX: You know?
FELIX is really trying to make this happen.
No. We’re doing the small-business thing.
FELIX: A family business!
LEN: No. And we need a loan. That’s the plan.
FELIX: What kind of business?
LEN: A bakery—shit, Felix, we talked about this an hour ago. Get it together.
FELIX: Can I ad-lib? Ad-libbing adds so much to this stuff. Remember Vienna?
LEN: We got chased out of Vienna.
FELIX: [dreamy] And what a rush it was.
LEN: Shut up. Shut up. He’s coming. Just stick to the plan.
FELIX: I don’t /want to
STODDARD enters. They are as grey as their office. They shake hands with each. FELIX does something weird (think kissing STODDARD’s hand, etc.). This is not commented on.
STODDARD: Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr., /uh FELIX /I’M LEN’S SON
STODDARD stops. Looks between the two obviously unrelated figures. LEN puts his head in his hands.
STOD: Mr., um/ LEN /Lenson, yes, that’s us.
FELIX: Our family name! Generations of Lensons ‘round these parts. Pillars of the community, really.
STOD. A Mr. Greg Smorl?
LEN seriously considers going back on that stabbing promise.
LEN That’s us. Lenson is, a. A nickname.* STOD. For both of you.
LEN [awkward, defeated] It’s a family nickname.
STODDARD wants to question this, but honestly, this is just their day job.
STOD. So, Mr. Smorl, it says that you and your… You’ll have to excuse me, but you two don’t look very alike.
FELIX I He panics. …haaaaave a skin condition. And if you don’t mind, I’m really kind of sensitive about it.
LEN That’s alright. We’re here today to talk to you about/
FELIX /Actually, it’s not alright. He stands up to his full height.
LEN tries to push his shoulder down. It doesn’t work.
LEN Oh, Jesus fuck. [to Felix] Son, let’s think this through—
FELIX Where’s your supervisor? I’d like to make a complaint. We’ll have your ass for this.
STOD. [flustered] I’m so sorry, Mr. Smorl, that was out of line. I hope you’ll forgive me, uh… I’m sorry, what was your name?
FELIX It’s Craig.
FELIX Short for Craigory.
LEN [under his breath] Of course it fucking is.
STODDARD shakes their head quickly and glances back at the paperwork.
STOD. Yes, Mr. Smorl, and, erm, Craigory, you’re here to apply for a loan. For a small business?
FELIX It’s a family business!
LEN Yes, my…son and I are opening a bakery together. We’ve been saving up for several years, but we’re really in need of a loan to get things off the ground.*
STOD. Well, I think we can help you with that.
STODDARD plops out a file almost as tall as LEN on the desk.
LEN What’s that?
STOD. Some preliminary contracts, consent to background checks… Nothing unusual. Is that an issue?
LEN No, of course, not, I’m sure all our documentation is in order.
In the corner, THE WATCHER looks up.
Don’t you want to hear about our collateral first, though? I thought that was the first thing you were supposed to ask about.
STOD. We used to do it that way, but there was some trouble with criminal activity. I’m sure you understand.
FELIX starts taking the office supplies he’s stolen out of his pockets and putting them back. If possible, he should put back more than he stole in the first place.
FELIX Criminal activity? Wild. Who would try to… do… a crime…/
LEN /We’re fine with a background check.
STOD. Well, this shouldn’t take too long. Shall we begin?
STODDARD begins to fire questions rapid-fire at LEN. FELIX reacts accordingly.
LEN Greg Smorl. No middle name.
LEN Baker by trade, currently unemployed.
STOD. Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
LEN Absolutely not. He has.
STOD. Credit score?
LEN 761. It’s not.
FELIX coughs indignantly. One. My, uh. Son.
STOD. And how long have you and your wife been together?
LEN My wife? Beat. Oh, right, my wife.
LEN suddenly remembers that he is not into women.
Wonderful woman. Very… robust.
FELIX Well, she would have to be.
Gestures to himself, i.e. “Can you imagine giving birth to this?”
STOD. Oh, your wife, she’s a dragon?
LEN No. Beat. Actually, she passed away a few years ago. Very upsetting for us.
STOD. I’m very sorry.
FELIX It was difficult. Papa and I really bonded, though. That was right around when we decided to open our/
STOD. What was her name?
LEN Cynthia. Cynthia…
LEN panics and looks around for a last name. Glances at the desk.
STOD. Cynthia Staples. Alright. STODDARD looks a little suspicious but starts to sort through the files. Just a little more. Now, let’s talk about your collateral.
In the corner, THE WATCHER looks up. Robotic alert speech.
T.W. ALERT. NO MARRIAGE RECORD FOUND FOR: GREG. SMORL.
LEN Oh, jeez!
STOD. Hold on.
T.W. ALERT. NO HOSPITAL RECORDS FOUND FOR: CYNTHIA. STAPLES. SMORL. /ALERT. NO BIRTH RECORDS FOUND FOR: CRAIGORY. SMORL.
LEN /I think there might be a problem with your//
STOD. //Mr. Smorl, hold on.
T.W. SAY ‘REPEAT’ TO REPEAT THIS MESSAGE. SAY ‘CLOSE’ TO CLOSE.
STOD. Mr. Smorl, would you care to explain that?
T.W. SAY ‘REPEAT’ TO REPEAT THIS MESSAGE.
LEN I can explain.
T.W. SAY ‘CLOSE’ TO CLOSE.
LEN Can you turn that thing off? It’s really freaking me out.
THE WATCHER stills. STODDARD looks angry.
By all means, do tell.
LEN So, um, anyway, there was a slight issue with my credit in 2015 after my identity was stolen, right after my wife died. Pretty rough for my son and me. So my record is/
STOD. /Yes, but that doesn’t explain//
LEN //A little spotty there. The guy who did it was wild, he/
FELIX /You don’t have a record of me?
STOD. /Mr. Smorl.// .
LEN //spent a pretty exorbitant amount of money on, you know, the usual. Fur coats, plasma TVs, a speedboat…
STOD. Mr. Smorl, hold on/
LEN /but, I mean, what can you do//
STOD. //MR. SMORL!
LEN and FELIX freeze.
STOD. I’m sorry, but this is ridiculous.
LEN Now, just give me a second, I’m sure there’s a simple explanation to all//
STOD. //No, actually, I don’t think there is. You two are clearly not related, and frankly I’m starting to think this is some kind of scam, so if you’re quite finished, /I’d like you to leave before I call
LEN /There’s no need to do that, come on, we’ll be right//
FELIX //Papa? Both stop and turn to
FELIX, who looks extremely distressed.
This is his big moment. Papa, am I adopted?
Beat. Without warning, FELIX bursts into loud, watery sobs and throws himself across the desk. He and LEN begin to talk over each other.
You never told me/
LEN /Please, let’s not do this here.
FELIX Dr. Christine said I was going through an adjustment period/
LEN /And Dr. Christine is absolutely right, we’ll get you in to see her on Monday//
FELIX //You lied to me/ /
LEN /I’ll explain everything later.
He turns to STODDARD.
STOD. I’m so sorry, I had no idea—
LEN You should be sorry! Look what you’ve done! I’m really tempted to call your manager right now.
STOD. Mr. Smorl, I assure you I had no intention of/
LEN But you did, didn’t you? I think you’ve done enough here. Now that you’ve successfully ruined family dinner, we’d like to get our paperwork in order and go. Do you have a supervisor we can speak to?
STOD. I’ll get right to it, Mr. Smorl.
STODDARD hurries out to look for their boss.
FELIX carries on sobbing for a few seconds after the door closes, then snaps back to normal.
FELIX I think that went pretty well.
LEN I’m going to kill you in your sleep.
FELIX I’m really kind of enjoying feeling out this character. You know, we could really develop this going forward. He was orphaned at a young age, raised by wolves until he was taken in by a lonely baker after the death of his wife—no, raised by dolphins—
He continues with an ad-libbed backstory for Craigory. LEN puts his head in his hands. Lights go down.
Georgia White is a playwright from Stonington, CT with work produced at Bryn Mawr College and the O’Neill Theater Center. All her characters are gay unless otherwise specified. Special thanks to the original Yes-And cast and crew: Anna Shuff, Claire Pincket, Betsy Ortner, Valerie Jin, Cat Slanski, and Charis Nandor.
CHARACTERS: KIERAN HARBER-GLASSLEY: A teenage boy, a senior in high school. AVERY HARBER-GLASSLEY: Kieran’s younger sister. An eighth grader. Has a pentagram somewhere on her. DANNY PIERCE: Kieran’s boyfriend, also a senior in high school. JOHN GLASSLEY: Kieran and Avery’s dad. MELANIE HARBER: Kieran and …