The Incredibly Famous Willy Rivers

ACT I

(The faint sound of whistling, of cheering, of stamping feet – applause that suggests anticipation and expectation. The sound is distant, muted; as if coming through yards and yards of concrete; as if creeping through from some distant place. The sound turns into a more intense – what? Static? Applause? Feedback? All three? Silence. And then a voice out of the blackness – Willy’s voice)

Ladies and gentlepeople, boys and those of the female pursuasion, if there are any dogs and cats in the audience, they’re invited to howwwwllll…! I think we can safely say – no, I don’t think, I know – that he is a legend in his own time. There is a lovely black and white portrait of him on page 17 of your complimentary souvenir program. A full color 24 by 36 inch poster of him is on sale at convenient locations throughout the arena and say, while you’re out there, how bout a big beer and a chili dog! Ladies and gentlemen, there ought to be music and don’t worry, there will be; ladies and gentlemen, the incredibly famous Willy Rivers!
(The sound again; static, feedback, distorted applause. Lights have been slowly coming up. A man is sitting center. The sound fades away. The man – Willy – speaks.)

That was horrible. Let’s get down! Let’s get funky! Let’s all get incredibly moist and sticky wet! Let’s have a hometown welcome for your fave rave and mine, the incredibly famous Willy Rivers!

(The sound again. It is coming from a large cassette deck that Willy is holding. He turns the sound to high and applause on the verge of distortion reverberates throughout the house. He turns it off. Silence.)

The incredible Willy Rivers!

(Sound. Off.)

The famous Willy Rivers.

(Again. Off.)

Willy Rivers.

(silence, and then softly)

Oh, boy…

(He rolls onto his back and stares at the cieling.)

Hold on to your seats, I have a feeling it’s going to be a long one.

(a man in a suit enters)

SUIT

Willy.

Oh, oh. Devil with a blue suit on.

SUIT

Hello, Willy.

(singing; off key, without rythm)

Does anybody really know what time it is?

(speaking)

I do. It’s that time.

No.

SUIT

Yes.

Can’t be time.

SUIT

Oh, but it is.

No can be. I’m not ready.

SUIT

People tell me you’re a problem, Willy. Are you a problem?

(Willy leaps to his feet)

All right, let’s get organized! I want rabid fans on my left! I want screaming hordes on my right! Any girls ain’t been under me, line up along the wall, I’ll go as long as I can!

SUIT

You know what I am, Willy? I am a problem solver. Nothing I don’t know, not a problem I can’t solve.

Where the hell is my lucky jacket? That jacket’s my trademark, jack! How am I supposed to convince anybody that a middle class kid from the heartland of America is misfitted, maladjusted and James Dean mean if I don’t have my lucky jacket? That jacket has got wings on it, man! I hope nobody went into their lifesavings for this nickel and dime extravaganza! I have never! Been treated! In first class! Like this! In my life!

SUIT

Willy.

Yeah?

SUIT

Cut the shit.

(Willy seems to sag. He is terrified of something.)

I can’t. Nothing feels right.

SUIT

People don’t pay to hear excuses.

It’s like there’s too much blood pumping through my body.

SUIT

Nerves. Nerves are to be expected.

My back hurts. My throat and hands.

SUIT

That’s all in your mind.

It is not in my mind. My body, man, predicts the weather and it is tellin me that the weather, man, bites the big one.

SUIT

And so?

And so…

(He rushes to his tape deck and puts on the headphones.)

You ever seen one a these? This is a superdeluxe, class A, top of the line, get down and boogie walkman. And that’s what I’m gonna do. Walk, man.

SUIT

Take your time, Willy. Get it all out of your system.

Can’t hear you! You wanna talk to me you’re gonna have to put it on a cassette and plug it in. Panasonic Willy Rivers! I bet God wears headphones.

SUIT

Just remember. You and I have a contract. I love contracts. They’re so… binding.

What? I can see your lips move but I can’t hear a thing. Speak no evil, see no evil and I can’t hear no evil at all, man.

SUIT

Willy-Willy-Willy. I am so disapointed. It is time and everyone is ready except you.

Hey, I was born ready, buddy.

SUIT

Ahh, you can hear me. I thought so. No more excuses. You’re answering to me now. You’ll hear your cue. You’ll go on.

(exiting)

Ladies and gentlemen, the incredibly famous Willy Rivers.

No! Hey! You tell’m if they clap their hands I’ll piss in their pockets! I don’t take charity, man. Not me, not this kid.

(psyching himself now)

Okay. A river flows through here and it’s wild and fast and in places the whitewater leaps to fifty feet high. And the name of that river… is Willy! Where’s my guitar? Hey! How am I supposed to rock and roll without a guitar!?

(Pause. He sags, the false bravado gone.)

Lord, lord… where am I gonna find the strength to do this?

(As if from a distant part of his mind: a guitar riff. It is violent, angry, on the edge of distortion.)

(softly, to himself)

Oh, it is absolutely amazing the things that flash across a man’s mind when he feels like he’s going down and under for the third time.

(Again: guitar riff)

It is amazing the things that flash across your mind.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Still again: a guitar riff. Sustained. Lightchange. Figures move and beckon to Willy in the chaos. The guitar riff fades into the flashing lights and rising roar of a subway train. Lights come up on Willy – now wearing sunglasses – and a young woman in heavy make-up and tight clothing. She is reading a newspaper. She glances up at Willy, looks him over; decides she likes what she sees. The young woman speak with a heavy Queens accents.)

Girl

Hey. (pause) Hey. (pause) Hey. (pause) Hey.

(She throws a hard elbow to get willy’s attention.)

GIRL

Hey, bozo! Don’t ya see I’m talkin at ya, cheese!

Sorry, what?

GIRL

Ya hear?

Hear what?

GIRL

He! Is makin a comeback!

Who?

GIRL

Ya so unread.

I don’t have much time to read the papers.

GIRL

Tsk. Willy.

Willy who?

GIRL 1

Ya so ignorant! Willy Rivers!

Willy Rivers. Yeah. How exciting. Jesus… He’s making a… a what?

GIRL

Tsk. A comeback?

(showing him her paper)

From the tragic assasination attempt of catastrophic importance that nearly ended his career not to mention his friggin’ life! Tsk. Why are the nice lookin’ ones so dim. From the shootin’. Where ya been keepin’ ya’self, Alaska? I myself personally cried when he got shot.

Yeah?

GIRL

Ya wanna know the truth, I died when he got shot. I bled fahr’m.

Willy Rivers. He sure is very famous.

GIRL

And rich.

Oh, yeah.

GIRL

And cute.

(taking off his sunglasses)

Really?

GIRL

He’s got one a them faces.

The rich, famous and cute.

(Willy and the girl sigh as one)

They live the life, don’t they?

GIRL

Celestial.

Where’d we go wrong.

GIRL

Speak fah ya`self I’m sure.

(pause)

Y’know, I saw’r him once. It was at the corner of 57th and Madison and he was gettting out of a limo the size of a small third world country. That’s how they travel, see. He looked nothin’ like his photos but I figured he was incognito and so I knew it was him and I nearly peed. All cause I saw’r him.

I touched him.

GIRL

No. Well… if ya must know, I made it with him. It was under a table at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was 3 a.m. and I’d had about 14 kamikazes but I knew it was him by his tender touch. And I’ve thanked my lucky stars ever since. Because I made it with Willy Rivers.

You too?

GIRL

(a shocked gasp)

Ooh! No…

Incredibly famous people of catastrophic importance, they’re always swinging both ways.

SUBWAY GIRL

Well… if ya must know, I personally had hoped to bear his child.

I can’t top that.

GIRL

I bet he remembers me.

I bet you gave him something to remember.

GIRL

Oh, speak fah ya’self, I’m sure!

Hey. Hey. Hey. Are you going to get tickets?

GIRL

One can only hope.

What is it he does again?

GIRL 1

Well… I ain’t sure. But from what I understand, it tears ya heart out.

He’s good, huh?

GIRL

Tsk. Good-shmood! When there’s the possibility that some pyscho’s gonna be packin a piece and blastin away; know what you are at? A multi-media event!

The things some people charge admission to, huh?

GIRL

Ain’t it the truth. Charge a guy and you’s a whore. Add a gun an a few seats and you’s a spectacular entertainment.

(pause)

Do I know that.

(pause)

GIRL

Hey. Hey. HEY! Let’s say the two of us stop off somewheres. I’ll let you buy me a Lite beer from Miller.

(Guitar riff! Lightchange. Willy with an electric guitar, trying to shape his left hand onto the neck of the guitar, trying to play. He groans in frustration. Suit enters.)

SUIT

Practicing?

I started off playing to records. Man, I’d turn the stereo up to a thousand and I’d dance with that first guitar of mine like it was my baby. Mom had a headache from the mid sixties on. Why do you play the stereo so loud, Willy!? You’re gonna ruin your eardrums! She never understood that loud is the only way rock and roll sounds good. She was also convinced I woulda turned out normal if the Beatles hadn’t been on Ed Sullivan. She didn’t think I did teenage things. Go out with a girl, Willy! Go total the car! Go protest something like all your other friends! My mom prayed for a moments peace. Now my Dad, my Dad sorta knew how much it all meant to me. Course he didn’t have to listen to it all day long. But he’d come home and let Mom blow off steam for awhile and then he’d come down to the basement and he’d look at the posters I’d taped to the walls, black light crazy shit, and he’d turn to me and he’d say, go for it, Willy. For your Mom’s sake, go for it quietly but go for it. My Dad… he was a fan.

(He strikes a chord. It sounds rough and tinny.)

That was an A chord, man. The perfect A chord.

SUIT

I’m sure it would be if it weren’t for the nerve damage.

I learned a chord a day. Perfect chords. I practiced till my fingers bled. All that practice… And man? I can’t play worth a shit any more.

SUIT

Willy, you’re a headliner now. You don’t have to play. Others will play for you. All you have to do is stand there and look good.

Hey… maybe I should mouth the words too?

SUIT

I can arrange that if you like.

You’re never gonna understand. When you play the sound right, it’s like stepping into another plane of existence, man. Your body is pistons, tubes, valves. You’re aware of rods flowing into cylinders, of liquid seeping from chamber into chamber, of billows as they fill and empty, of life, man! You’re aware of the tiny delicate bones in the inner room of your ear, of filaments dancing to the pulse of a beat. You hear with your heart when you play, man. The music speaks words, man. You are, man. Man!

SUIT

Willy-baby-hunkie-dorie-sweetheart-kid.

Yeah?

SUIT

That is a load of garbage and you know it. I’ve been thinking. It’s something I do. This is your show. Your comeback. You should be surrounded by people who care about you, by people who supported you when you were nothing special.

Yeah?

SUIT

I was thinking it would be nice if you invited some. People who care about you, I mean. Unless, of course, you want me to go out and hire some professionals?

No… I mean, hey. I got people who care about me. I got good people.

SUIT

That’s fine. The mark of a man is the people who care about him, am I right?

Right.

SUIT

Right. On us, Willy, this is the big leagues, spare no expense. Invite anyone you want.

Who…

SUIT

Who should you invite? I thought I made that clear. Your friends.

(He exits. Guitar riff. Lightchange.

Lights to Willy and a man in tennis whites. The man is holding a tennis racquet and bag. Willy and the man are laughing uproariously. The laughter fades to nervous silence. The man keeps glancing at his wristwatch.)

FRIEND

So.

(pause)

Huh?

Yeah.

FRIEND

Unbelievable.

Yeah.

FRIEND

Such a long time.

Too long.

FRIEND

Yeah.

(long pause)

Hey, you get that card I sent you?

Card?

FRIEND

Yeah. A Christmas card. Me, the wife, the kid, y’know, the dog, the cat, the tree. Everybody smiling. You didn’t get that card?

No.

FRIEND

It was a nice card.

Sounds like it.

FRIEND

It wasn’t cheap.

They aren’t.

FRIEND

Living color. Years from now, people will look at that card and say, will you look at that?

So lifelike. So real.

FRIEND

Yeah.

Everybody’s old or dead now.

(Pause. They nod at each other, silent. The friend glances at his watch.)

FRIEND

My ride’s due at any time.

We can talk till he gets here.

FRIEND

He’ll beep. I’ll have to go right out.

Fine. You drop by, you take your chances. I just wanted to say hello.

FRIEND

I appreciate it. A guy like you. When he beeps though, I’ll have to run.

Don’t want to keep a person waiting.

FRIEND

Specially a doubles partner. Specially a doubles partner with a good overhead. Hey, my wife’ll be home soon. I bet she’d love to chat. You know something? She never believes it when I tell her that we were best friends in high school.

Boy, will she be suprised!

FRIEND

She’s crazy about sucess. Especially overnight sucess.

(Pause. They nod at each other in silence. The friend smiles, glances at his watch and sighs.)

How’s your game?

FRIEND

Fine.

Good.

(a beat)

Play a lot?

FRIEND

Yeah, I do.

Great.

FRIEND

About eight or ten hours a day.

That’s a lot.

FRIEND

Except Tuesdays.

Sorry?

FRIEND

Unemployment on Tuesdays. Yeah, for awhile I was looking for a job but then I decided, what the hell, 150 a week, tax free, doing nothing.

You’d be hard pressed to do better than that working hard at something you hated.

FRIEND

Exactly. So I don’t. I play tennis.

You must be getting good.

FRIEND

I am. Topspin.

Sorry?

FRIEND

Topspin. Topspin is the key to good groundstrokes. Gives you room to clear the net, keeps the ball safely within the baselines. Topspin. Topspin is the key to control.

Sounds to me like topspin is the key to life.

(Pause.)

FRIEND

So!!

Yeah.

FRIEND

You gettin any?

Uh…

FRIEND

You are, aren’t you. God, times have changed. Double dates, remember? A little nookie at the drive-in movies.

Me in the backseat, you in the front.

FRIEND

Second base, bare tit, huh? Third base, a little sticky finger! Huh? Huh!?

Christ, old friends.

FRIEND

Yeah.

Old friends are the best friends.

FRIEND

Yeah.

Shared experiences. That’s what old friends have. They don’t have to explain things, they know.

FRIEND

Hey, when you got shot? It was like I got shot. I wanted to get in touch.

You didn’t.

FRIEND

(ignoring him; with vast, good humor)

Who the hell would have ever thought anybody’d want to shoot you, huh?!

Not me.

FRIEND

You certainly were on the outskirts in high school!

Off in my own little world, yeah.

FRIEND

You want to know the truth, people thought you were stuck up. They thought your head was in the clouds. If you want to know the truth –

I don’t.

FRIEND

Everybody thought you were a twerp!

Huh.

FRIEND

Guys always asked me why I let you hang with me. I mean, you remember who was voted most likely to suceed, don’t you.

You.

FRIEND

Me. I mean, you?

Willy Rivers is weird, they’d say.

FRIEND

And they were right!

I was.

FRIEND

You were! But hey, we were friends!

Are.

FRIEND

And look at you now, huh? Hey! What are you worth?

I, uh… don’t know.

FRIEND

That much, huh? Well, you deserve it. Getting shot. How do you put a dollar value on entertainment like that? It’s mindless entertainment. Mindless entertainment is priceless. It keeps you from thinking. I play tennis? I have a litany. Only the ball, only the ball, only the ball. It keeps me from thinking of other things. A kid could get hit by a truck in the parking lot, I wouldn’t notice, that’s how good my concentration is. Go ahead, say something to me, say something.

(He scoops up his racquet and takes a stance as if he’s returning serve. It’s as if he goes into a trance.)

FRIEND

(like a mantra)

Only the ball. Only the ball. Only the ball.

I feel so alone.

FRIEND

Only the ball.

(snapping out of it)

Did you say something?

Yes.

FRIEND

I didn’t hear you! Concentration! What’d you say?

I feel so alone.

FRIEND

You should. Life! It’s a game of singles.

(pause)

Hey. Do you want to know something? My wife. She’d like to go to bed with you. Yeah. She said so. When I tell her we were friends once?

We still are.

FRIEND

She says, boy, I’d crawl on my belly for a chance to go fuck him. He was a twerp, I say. He could twerp me anytime, she says.

People say funny things.

FRIEND

I don’t laugh.

People say things they don’t really mean. Your wife, she doesn’t even know me.

FRIEND

That’s what she likes about you. You’re anything she wants you to be.

(A beep.)

FRIEND

There he is!

Your ride!

FRIEND

Been great to see you. Stay as long as you want and come again but call first, okay?

I will.

FRIEND

Bye!

(He exits)

WIFE

(off)

I’m home!

FRIEND

(off)

It’s not my ride, it’s only my wife! Honey, we have a guest! Do I have a suprise for you!

(He and his wife enter. He has his hands over her eyes. She is wearing cover-alls and a hard hat.)

FRIEND

This! Is the incredibly famous Willy Rivers, honey!

(He pulls his hands away)

Hi. It’s very nice to meet you.

WIFE

Oh, my god.

I’ve heard so much about you.

WIFE

I’m going to faint.

So this is your little breadwinner, huh?

FRIEND

Yes, sir! How are things down at the Ford plant, dear?

WIFE

I’m going to die.

FRIEND

Sit down, old friend. Maybe the little woman will whip us some frozen egg rolls and jalepeno bean dip.

Reminiscing sure is hard work!

WIFE

Ohhh…

(The wife falls to her knees)

She’s exhausted.

FRIEND

Hard day on the assembly line, dear? Dear?

She’s a little hard of hearing.

FRIEND

Yeah, that Ford plant’s noisy.

(The wife begins crawling on her belly towards Willy.)

They’re planning this big comeback for me and I wonder if you’d like to attend?

(The wife flips over on her back and begins doing the backstroke.)

You and your wife. Seats and hotel rooms will be taken care of. You could meet some nice people.

FRIEND

I’d love to, buddy of mine. Unfortunatly I have league, old buddy. Tennis. Tennis league.

I see.

(The wife is on her knees in front of Willy, touching him to see if he’s real.)

FRIEND

If she’s bothering you, Willy, just give her a solid smack on the snout with a rolled up newspaper.

(A horn beeps.)

FRIEND

There he is! Great to see you, Willy. Be in touch, o.k.? And leave the little woman your mailing address, won’tcha? We’re gonna be sure you get that Christmas card this year and god knows it’d be nice to get in touch if somebody tries to shoot you again!

(He kisses his wife on the top of the head.)

FRIEND

Don’t wait up, dear, I’ll be late. Bye!

(He exits.)

WIFE

Take me now before I die.

(Guitar! Lightchange. A man enters out of the shadows. Stops. Reaches beneath his jacket as if for a gun. And comes out with a cassette recorder.)

REPORTER

Here he is!

(Willy turns to flee as people come running on from all directions. They’re reporters and they thrust cassette recorders at Willy, wave notebooks and pencils. Willy keeps trying to push him away.)

REPORTERS

(ad-libbing)

Willy! Willy! Question, Willy, question! Here, Willy! Question! Question! Your scars! Show us your scars! We want to see scars!

REPORTER

You’ve come from nowhere, Willy!

Please, I –

REPORTER

What was nowhere like?

No questions, I –

REPORTER

Tell us about vague obscurity!

Let me pass, please, I –

REPORTER

Is it true you’re afraid to go out in public?

REPORTER

Is it true you’ve turned against everyone who supported you for years?

REPORTERS

(ad-libbing)

Scars! Your scars! We want scars! Show us scars.

REPORTER

Come back!

REPORTER

Is there any sexual significance to that term?

REPORTER

What’s your favorite, Willy?

REPORTER

What’s your preference, if any?

If you’ll just –

REPORTER

What do you think of verticle smiles, Willy?

Will you please let me through!

REPORTER

Is music a metaphor for life, Willy?

REPORTER

Is life a metaphor for life, Willy?

REPORTER

What is music, Willy?

REPORTER

What is life, Willy?

REPORTER

Are there alternatives?

REPORTER

What are the alternatives?

REPORTER

Are they fun?

REPORTER

What is fun?

REPORTER

We’ve heard some disturbing rumors, Willy!

They’re true. Please, I –

REPORTER

One word, Willy. Poignant!

Please.

REPORTER

Carry a grudge, Willy?

Please!

REPORTER

Are you bitter?

REPORTER

Or don’t you care?

I’ve really got to go!

REPORTER

Seen any sights?

No.

REPORTER

Heard any sounds?

No.

REPORTER

Felt anything worth feeling!?

No! No! No!

(Sudden silence.)

REPORTER

Have a little pity, man.

REPORTER

Give us a break.

REPORTER

We’re all just doin’ our jobs.

REPORTER

Just this one time and we’ll be your friends for life.

REPORTER

Do you suffer from impotence?

REPORTER

Premature ejaculation?

REPORTER

Have you slept with a woman of every race.

REPORTER

Christ, I bet he has.

ALL THE REPORTERS

Wow!

(And they madly write in their notebooks.)

REPORTER

Fave drugs, man?

I –

ANOTHER REPORTER

(scribbling)

Willy on drugs! Wow!

REPORTER

Ill feelings?

I –

ANOTHER REPORTER

Willy feels bad! Wow!

REPORTER

Regrets?

Yeah, but –

ANOTHER REPORTER

Major regrets! Wow!

REPORTER

Sense of loss, lad?

I –

ANOTHER REPORTER

Heartbreaking loss! Wow!

REPORTER

Loss of appetite!?

ANOTHER REPORTER

Starving!

ALL THE REPORTERS

Wow!

No!

REPORTERS

(ad-libbing)

Out of my way! Me next! Willy! Willy! Stop pushing! Questions! Scars! Willy! Stop pushing! Willy, Willy! Scars! Questions!

(The reporters are screaming and cursing and grabbing at Willy. Willy covers his head and cowers. The reporters surround him like hungry wolves.)

Argghhh! Savages! All a you, savages!

(Sound! The lead in to a news program. The reporters step back, growing silent. A man steps from the wings. He is in a brightly colored blazer and tie. He holds a mike. He straightens his tie and cues someone that he’s ready. The bright lights of a television camera hit him.)

ANCHORMAN

(in a huge, oratund voice)

Hi! Channel five news and we’re here with that man with the bulletproof heart and – I gotta say it – in all modesty, a close personal friend of mine, the incredibly famous Willy Rivers.

(He thrusts his mike at the still cowering Willy)

ANCHORMAN

Willy, you are looking some kind of good!

(rising)

I feel good, I feel fast, I feel relaxed.

ANCHORMAN

You heard it, ladies and gentlemen, and you heard it here. How’s it feel to be making a comeback, Willy?

Like I never left.

ANCHORMAN

That’s the hombre we all know and love. Will, you are just looking so good!

I feel good. I feel fast. I feel relaxed.

ANCHORMAN

Ladies and gentlemen, this guy is a sweetheart and a real man besides. I wouldn’t take you seriously, Will-o, if you weren’t. How about a couple for the photographers?

Why not?

(Flashbulbs pop. Cameras click away.)

ANCHORMAN

Is this a classy crew of paparazzi or what! Wait a sec, lads, wait a sec. Any love interest, Willy? No? Good. We’ll take care of that.

(He whistles. A breathtaking blonde in a tight dress hurries on.)

ANCHORMAN

Isn’t she lovely? Grab a thigh, dear!

(She immediatly grabs the anchorman’s thigh.)

ANCHORMAN

Whoa. No, wrong thigh, dear. Isn’t she beautiful?

(She grabs Willy’s thigh.)

ANCHORMAN

There we go. Isn’t she sweet? Little more cleavage, dear, most of these lads work for family magazines. Great. Love it. When did you realize it was true love, Will-o?

(The blonde puts her hand on Willy’s crotch.)

Just now.

ANCHORMAN

Is it serious, dear?

BLONDE

(looking at Willy’s crotch)

It’s getting serious very quickly.

ANCHORMAN

Isn’t she delightful? Kiss her lad!

(But before Willy can move, one of the reporters sweeps the blonde into his arms, bends her back and kisses her passionatly.)

ANCHORMAN

Beautiful, we love it, let’s go. This is channel five news. Good night.

(Television lights dim. Everyone begins exiting in a different direction)

REPORTERS

Page 1! Where’s a phone? That’s a wrap, I got what I came for! Let’s pack it in, todays news is tomorrow’s headlines.

ANCHORMAN

Good luck, Willy. And stay away from people’s gunsights, you mad muchacho, you. Wait.

(Seeing a remaining photographer, he strikes a pose with Willy.)

ANCHORMAN

There we go. Beautiful!

(He exits.)

BLONDE

(handing him a slip of paper)

Call me sometime.

(The blonde exits.)

Savages, all a you. Savages.

(Lightchange. The sound of cheering, of distant music. Body gaurds enter. They are followed by Goatman Jango. He is a Rastafarian with a huge, long, matted dreadlock. The bodygaurds draw their weapons when they see Willy. Willy cowers.)

GOATMAN

Hold!

(Goatman moves forwards, stands staring, suprised.

GOATMAN

Ah, Jah. Ah, Jah. We need a little sanity, man, am I right?

Ladies and gentlemen, the incredibly incredible Goatman Jango…

GOATMAN

Hey! Willy, man, hey, I hear you be havin this comeback.

You heard right.

GOATMAN

Hey, man, maybe you some kinda crazy or somethin, right? Shoot me once, shame on you. Shoot me twice, goddam stupid shame on me. Huh?

Yeah. How’d your set go?

GOATMAN

Ah, Jah. We be talkin whitebread here tonight. I be in dese states united now six months. Lousy, man. Cold. De sun, it be peerin through de haze all de time and it hardly be warmin de blood, man, right? Food be lousy with blandness, de beer be warm and de ganga don’t take you no place you ain’t been before on a bad day.

Good houses?

GOATMAN

Whitebread college kids. On scholarship. Or else sloppy little punks, man, in torn clothes for effect only. I ain’t complainin, man. But dis one goddam crazy universe where punk kids can pay thirty dollars to see Goatman and still have the balls to be wearin a torn t-shirt. Right?

You know what de hell kinda bloody right.

GOATMAN

De hungrily famous Willy. Ah, you be a good soul, Jah. True, true. You play de songs and you take de pay and you never bitch about de breaks. Right?

My comeback, man, I’d like you to be there.

(pause)

GOATMAN

I be playin, man.

(pause)

I find myself thinking of a time when the Goatman was in one mean ass white bread joint… wantin bad to score some rum at the bar. This was in the land of Mississippi, land of pick up trucks and unbelievers.

GOATMAN

Land where de cowboys wear their hats three sizes too small me think.

And who was sittin next to you?

GOATMAN

De beautifully famous Willy. I remember. De cowboy with de neck de color of cherry tomatos, he be lookin at me, checkin out de locks an de gold an how fine my teeth gleam in de light a de cafe that be dim and seemingly lit by moonlight, man. An he say in this loud voice – I ain’t sure I can sit in a joint that serves goddam, crazy looking niggers. I see a course dat he be talkin about de beautifully famous Goatman, de brainless honky shmuckface.

But de Goatman plays smooth and dumb, by Jah!

GOATMAN

Oh, yah! And he smiles so pretty and his teeth gleam like so much shark teeth on sand under Jamaican stars.

And Goatman say?

GOATMAN

Sumbitch, pardner, hey! You some kinda crazy fuckin right and if dey serve me any crazy looking niggers I will not eat them!

You pissin on me, you smarty pants, dope-wreakin’ nigger?

(There is such menace in Willy’s voice that Goatman tenses in suprise and then anger.)

GOATMAN

No, pardner, but maybe I’d like to.

(softly)

That cowboy stood and there was trouble in the air, man.

GOATMAN

Hey, I know. De goatman smells trouble. Knives, Willy. Guns and razors. Man wantin to see what color de Goatman’s blood be. Man, I don’t buy it.

(As if by magic, a switchblade appears in Goatman’s hand.)

GOATMAN

De Willy. Oh, de famous, hungry Willy. I see you look up from your tequilia-margarita-old fashioned martini or whatever de hell it is de whitebread drinks, and you say – huh?

Sit down, piss ant. Are you so stupid and thick that you don’t recognize the incredibly famous Goatman Jango? You touch one strand of his disgustingly matted and putrid hair and they’ll be riding your ass out of town on a rail. Right?

GOATMAN

You know what kind of bloody right! He knew! He knew! Dere was money on the line! Huh?

When it comes to the color green, the whole world is bleedin heart liberal.

GOATMAN

Ten minutes later, dat cowboy, he be askin’ for the Goatman’s autograph.

Ten minutes later that cowboy was buying the drinks!

(Silence.)

I saved your ass.

(Silence)

GOATMAN

An I thanked you for it. I can’t be makin your comeback, Willy.

(Silence.)

GOATMAN

My friend, when I hear about you bein’ shot to pieces in front of a live audience and cable cameras, know what I figure? I figure you came up against one who needed the reknown more the money. Needed the screams more then the love. I figure it was a cowboy so stupid and thick, he think he be shootin’ at something incarnate and real and not something made up by the press releases.

You figured right.

GOATMAN

A course. I’m smart. I know dat de world is but a dream, man. Swirlin smoke dat ya take deep and exhale, right?

Not right enough.

GOATMAN

No. Oh, so right.

(Goatman takes out his knife. He looks at it a moment. He gives it to willy.)

GOATMAN

Be kind, man. For your soul’s sake. An man…

(Goatman reaches up and removes his hair. The dreadlocks are a wig and his hair is close cropped beneath it)

GOATMAN

Laugh lots!

(Goatman laughs. And Willy joins in, laughing. But then the laughter seems to stick in his throat. Guitar riff! Lightchange. Explosion! A battlefield. The sudden sound of machine gun fire, explosions, the whistle of missiles. A soldier dressed in bloody combat fatigues and carrying a machine gun comes running on. He “fires”, making machine gun sounds the way a child would playing make-believe.)

ACTOR

Rats! Rats! Commie Rats!

(Explosion! He rolls and comes up firing from the hip)

ACTOR

You killed my brother! You killed my brother!

(He pulls a grenade from his belt and panting with exhaustion, he pulls the pin and throws it.)

ACTOR

Eat shrapnel, scum!

(Explosion. He leaps for cover and comes up shooting.)

ACTOR

Butchers! Murderers! You’re against everything freedom loving men hold true.

(Explosions! He rolls and scrambles for cover. Shooting. Whistling missiles. Explosions. He pulls out binoculars and peers into the distance.)

ACTOR

Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Wiped out! What is a solitary yankee doodle dandy to do.

(Explosion!)

ACTOR

Assholes!

(He runs like hell for cover and begins returning fire. Willy has been watching with delighted amusement. He approaches.)

Hey, man.

ACTOR

Hey! The recently internationally made famous Willy. Que pasa, amigo?

(shooting)

What’s up?

Not much. Listen, they’re planning this big comeback for me and I was hoping you could be there?

ACTOR

A comeback, huh? When’s it gonna be?

Any moment now.

(Explosion. The actor furiously returns fire.)

ACTOR

You killed my brother! You killed my brother!

So what do you think? About my comeback, I mean. I know you’re in the middle of this television movie and you’re just a little bit busy.

ACTOR

Busy’s not the word.

(The actor takes a grenade from his belt and hands it to Willy.)

ACTOR

Drop this for me, huh?

(Willy does.)

ACTOR

Grenade! Leap on it, Willy, leap on it!

(Willy does. The actor immediatly leaps on top of Willy.)

ACTOR

Boom! Willy. Oh god, Willy. You shouldn’ta done it, Willy, sacrificin yer’self for a bunch a ner’ do wells like me an the boys. What do I tell your wife, Connie and your snot nosed bambino’s Homer and Roscoe? Speak to me, Willy, speak to me.

How about my comeback?

ACTOR

Good god, man, there’s no time for that now. You seen a tank anywhere, Willy? That’s my cue.

Gee, I passed a tank back that way.

ACTOR

What? Aw, man. I musta missed it. Where’s my bazooka? Aw, man, aw.

Tough luck. How are you supposed to wipe out a helpless village without the proper hardware?

ACTOR

Exactly. You don’t happen to have a flame thrower on you, do you, man?

Hey, I must of left it in my other pants. Can’t you use your machine gun?

ACTOR

I guess. God. It’s gonna take forever.

(He shoots from the hip.)

ACTOR

Not bad, huh? Behind the back. Between the legs – you gotta be careful with this one. Eat lead, you god forsaken religous fanatics!

We’ll hold onto these oil fields or die trying!

ACTOR

Whoo! Some fun, huh?

Yeah.

ACTOR

(peering through binoculars)

We just knocked out a squadron of Shiite Moslems, opium crazed and screaming for blood.

I want you to come to my comeback cause you’re brave, man, I can see how brave you are.

ACTOR

Brave’s my middle name, kid. When they need a good man for an impossible mission that no one can return from, I raise my hand.

(An air raid siren goes off.)

ACTOR

That’s my cue. Excuse me a mo’.

Aw, hey, may I?

ACTOR

Shall we shoot them together?

(Together they fire and fire. Shots! The Actor is hit. Willy follows suit. They sprawl to the ground. They crawl towards one another, gasping in pain. Willy is having to work hard not to giggle.)

ACTOR

I’m hit!

I’m hit.

ACTOR

God, I’m hit! Normally this doesn’t happen, man. Bad guys are notoriously bad shots. I requested it. I’m an actor, man. Pathos is my bread and butter. I’m shot!

Me too.

ACTOR

I’m scared,

So scared.

ACTOR

Am I gonna die? I don’t wanna die.

I don’t wanna die. I –

(Willy freezes. He leaps to his feet, horrified suddenly at what he’s doing. The actor clutches at Willy’s ankles.)

ACTOR

Am I gonna make it, Sarge? Am I gonna make it?

Stop it, man.

ACTOR

Medic!

Stop it!

ACTOR

My large intestine is wrapped around my ankle like a wreath!

(He dies. Pause. He sits up.)

ACTOR

God, this fake blood is such a pain the way it gets in your cuticles. So! What’ja think of my death scene? Pretty good?

(softly)

Very realistic.

ACTOR

That’s a compliment coming from you, amigo, cause, hey, you’ve been there.

Listen, my comeback, can you make it? Maybe you could come armed.

(There is a droning sound. The actor looks skyward.)

ACTOR

Bout time! It’s the bombers. I been expecting’m.

So listen, can I count on you?

ACTOR

For you, amigo, this busterbrown’ll be there. We incredibly famous have got to stick together, am I right?

(Explosion. Lightchange.)

ACTOR

What the fu – ? What’s that?

Looks like a mushroom cloud.

ACTOR

What? Who wrote that into the script? Nobody tells me a damn thing.

That must of cost your guys in special effects a bundle.

ACTOR

Who cares. Time to call it a day.

(A shot. The actor falls and is motionless. Willy forces a laugh.)

You guys, you kill me. You’re always on. Television movies, man. Jesus. Nobody gets hurt, everybody gets up and goes home. Hey, if this was real, I bet they couldn’t get you up your belly with a backhoe, huh? Hey. My comeback. I can count on you, right?

(And then with realization and growing panic.)

They shot you. They shot him. The star. Somebody shot the star! Somebody is shooting the stars! Somebody is shooting all the stars! Help me! Help me!

(The actor suddenly springs to his feet, laughing.)

ACTOR

Fooled ya. What can I say? They tell me I’m a genius and I just have to believe’m. Come on, kid. Willy, what’s the matter? Come on, dinner’s on me.

(He exits, whistling. Willy stands there looking lost and terrified. Lightchange. Music. The sound of keys turning in a lock. The sound of a door opening and closing. Light as a wall switch is hit. Darlene gasps and drops her bags of groceries.)

Hi, darlin. (pause) Didn’t mean to startle you. (pause) Forget I still have a key? (pause) Guess I should have called. Sorry. (pause) You look… so good. Like always. Hey, hey, know something? I’m always thinking I see you at a distance. Uh-huh. Walking a beach. Across a street, waiting for the red. In passing cars. I’ll go, like – hey! That’s Darlene. Can’t be. It is. No. Yes! And I go tearing off in pursuit.

DARLENE

It’s not me, is it.

It hasn’t been yet. And so I make a fool out of myself in front of a strange woman.

DARLENE

I’m sure they don’t mind, Willy, when they see it’s you.

Darlene? You ever think you see me?

DARLENE

No.

Would you run for a better look if you did?

DARLENE

(picking up her bags)

Have you eaten, Willy?

Not for days and days.

DARLENE

Are you hungry?

There are pangs.

DARLENE

I’ll get dinner off the floor and into a pan.

Where’s the kid?

DARLENE

She has a name.

Where’s Patty?

DARLENE

At my mother’s.

Oh. How come?

DARLENE

I’m going away for a week.

Oh. Where.

DARLENE

I’m just going away.

Oh. Heard I was in town, huh? Where you going?

DARLENE

The Bahamas.

Only people I know who go to The Bahamas are dope dealers. You getting into dope?

DARLENE

I’ve had my share of dopes.

Goin’ by yourself?

DARLENE

Would you like a beer or a glass of wine?

Jesus! Darlene, you still have this bad habit of never lying.

DARLENE

We’re not married anymore. I don’t have to tell you.

If the truth’s gonna hurt you either change the subject or you don’t say a thing.

DARLENE

I’m not going by myself.

(pause)

That shouldn’t hurt you.

Did I say it did?

DARLENE

You looked like it did.

It serious?

DARLENE

Yes.

Oh, for chrissake, don’t lie but at least learn to fudge a little bit.

DARLENE

You shouldn’t care.

Did I say I did?

DARLENE

You look like you do.

Maybe the kid could stay with me while you’re gone.

DARLENE

She has a name.

I’m around for awhile.

DARLENE

Willy, she has a name.

They have me making this comeback. Too bad you’re going to miss it.

DARLENE

She has a name.

Patty. O.k.? Patty. Her name is Patty. Can Patty come stay with me while you’re off fucking someone in the Bahamas?

DARLENE

No.

(Pause.)

Sorry. Sorry, Darlene. I don’t know… everytime I see you, no matter how long it’s been, I realize…

DARLENE

What.

I realize how much I… you know…

DARLENE

What.

You know.

DARLENE

I’ve never doubted all the times you’ve loved me, Willy. I’ve just never been able to handle all the times you haven’t.

That why you won’t return my phone calls?

DARLENE

It’s over, Willy.

No.

DARLENE

Yes.

Not till the fat lady sings. And I can drown her out any ol’ time, no contest. Darlene. You want to see my back?

DARLENE

Is it horrible?

No, it’s beautiful.

DARLENE

No.

Listen, can I…? You mind if I sorta…?

(He takes her arms and puts them around him. He holds her close. She doesn’t resist.)

Squeeze a little, will ya?

(With a sigh, she does.)

DARLENE

I thought you were dead.

Hey.

DARLENE

I was watching the news. They showed the film clip. The women screaming. The men struggling with that guy. You. On your back, your arms and legs at these funny angles and your eyes were open and even on television I could tell you weren’t seeing anything. I was so sure you were dead.

What’d you do?

DARLENE

I turned off the set. I took the phone off the hook. I didn’t answer the door when people knocked.

What’d you do with the – Patty.

DARLENE

I brought her into bed with me that night and I held her.

It help?

DARLENE

It helped me.

(They kiss.)

Can we go to the bedroom?

DARLENE

(a moment)

All right. You can’t spend the night.

Please?

DARLENE

No.

Will you still make me dinner?

DARLENE

Come on.

(She leads him away by the hand. Lightchange. Music: an acoustic guitar. Shadows up on Willy. He is sitting, is shirtless. He holds an acoustic guitar. The feeling is that he’s sitting by a window looking down into the street. The lights of passing automobiles play off him. A woman’s voice calls out of the dark.)

BLONDE

Willy? Willy?

(The blonde enters. She wears a long sheer nightgown.)

BLONDE

Hi. I woke up and you weren’t there and then I heard you out here. Whatcha doin? Couldn’t sleep? Sometimes I, like, can’t sleep. It’s no fun. You wanna, like, try again?

I wouldn’t be any better than last time.

BLONDE

Oh, it was o.k. It was very good. Really. I mean, I’ve had worse.

I just wasn’t in the mood I don’t think.

BLONDE

I sometimes am not in the mood. But it doesn’t matter if I’m not cause, like, you can’t tell and I can just pretend that I am. Oh, but I didn’t. Not with you. Oh, no never. Willy. You really turn me on and I like you a lot.

You hardly know me.

BLONDE

Oh, but I feel like I do. I feel like I’ve known you forever. I was very excited when you called.

I didn’t want to be alone. I was with someone and they were leaving town and… well, I called. I wake you?

BLONDE

I didn’t mind. Play me something?

(He shakes his head no.)

BLONDE

Teach me to play something?

Would you like to learn the perfect E chord?

BLONDE

You think I could?

It won’t be easy.

BLONDE

What do I do?

(He hands her the guitar and forms a chord with her left hand.)

And your hand goes like this.

BLONDE

Wow. Heavy. I’m getting a cramp.

Shake it out, Momma.

BLONDE

You’re funny.

Strum.

(She does. It sounds horrible.)

BLONDE

I think I need an amplifier.

Press hard.

(She strums.)

BLONDE

I did it.

An E chord.

BLONDE

Wow! Are there any songs in the chord of E?

Raise that finger.

BLONDE

(strumming)

Oh!

E minor.

BLONDE

It sounds like… like…

Like a man has lost something and can’t find it.

BLONDE

Oh. Well, yeah, I mean, it sorta does…

(strumming)

No. It sounds like flamingo dancers. It sounds like gypseys. Wow, I’m playing the guitar. I’ve never been able to play anything before.

Sure you have.

BLONDE

No, my boobs have a tendancy to get in the way of most normal human activities. You play.

I can’t. My fingers don’t…

BLONDE

Oh. From the…? It’s a beautiful scar. Does it hurt?

There are pangs.

BLONDE

I’m glad it didn’t happen to me. I do my best work on my back. You smiled. I saw. Good.

(Lights from a passing car play off them.)

You ever wonder who drives cars at night? Maybe nobody. Maybe the cars drive themselves. Maybe they wait till their owners are all in bed and then they go off and meet somewhere and have a big party. Get bombed on high test. Snort motor oil. Caress each other’s exhaust pipes. Nine months later the unlucky ones give birth to compacts.

BLONDE

You’re not like I thought you’d be.

How’d you think I’d be?

BLONDE

Well, adventurous.

Like on my albums covers?

(pause)

Have you ever bought one of my albums?

BLONDE

See, I heard they were making a movie of your life story and all, and I thought you must be sorta adventurous for them to do that. And like, if you have any influence and could set up an audition…? Movies are great, you know? Sometimes in movies everybody is sad? Somebody has died or something and everybody is in mourning? Everybody is miserable and they still seem to be having a better time than I ever do. On my best days even. I thought you’d be like that. Having a better time.

What do you think now?

BLONDE

I don’t know. You’re nice but you seem… sad. Sad-sad. Don’t be sad. At least you’ll always be able to say you were famous for a little while. I’d give anything to be like you. Noticed. Most of us never get noticed for anything. I want more than that. I want… I want men to threaten to throw themselves off tall buildings if I won’t marry them. And when I won’t? They do. I’d like to feign humility while all the time accepting important awards. Thank you, everyone, thank you. I’d like to thank… me. I want… I want… I don’t know what I want. It all.

Look, I’m having this… you want to come to a… nevermind.

BLONDE

Sometimes people like me but sometimes they seem embarassed to have me around.

No.

BLONDE

It’s okay. Thank you for teaching me the perfect E.

Keep the guitar. Practice.

BLONDE

Come to the bedroom. It’ll be better this time. I know you now and I won’t expect anything. Come on, sweetheart. I’ll do it all.

(She kisses him and then exits into the dark. Music. Willy rises and turns to watch her go. The lights of a passing car play off him. The scar is like an angry red road down his back. The music suddenly changes to the guitar riff. Lightchange. A girl enters as if pushed through an open doorway. She is small and pale and her hair is spiked and streaked violet. She wears tattered clothing and leather. She is more frightening than comic, is very attractive in a waif-like sort of way. She stares at Willy, all challenge, and then, ignoring him, sits on the floor and “watches television”. A voice sings from off-stage.)

GYPSEY

It was late last night when the boss came home, askin about his lady.

(Willy joins in, harmonizing.)

AND GYPSEY

An the only answer he received, is she’s gone with Gypsey Davey.

(Gypsey enters. He is a long haired, moustached man in fringed buckskin and cowboy boots and hat.)

GYPSEY

Be you the incredibly famous Willy Rivers?

I be. An who be you, handsome stranger?

GYPSEY

I be the notorious poontanger, Gypsey Davie. Is your dance card filled, you homo?

Who leads, ye or me?

GYPSEY

(embracing Willy)

You, since you’re havin a comeback, jack! Whoo-ee, Momma! Tell your daughters to pretend they’re wheelbarrows, Willy Rivers gonna drive… them… home!

How’s life, Gypsey?

GYPSEY

Sweet potato sweet, boss. You really gonna let’m take a second shot?

What am I if I ain’t a star?

GYPSEY

True enough. What are we without our public?

(He grabs a half full bottle of burbon from the jacket pocket of the punk.)

GYPSEY

You hear my latest? Jewel encrusted solid plutonium.

Any good?

GYPSEY

Jesus, faithless women, drunks, pick-ups, shotguns, freight trains and your basic half-wit virgin cousin.

An the flipside?

GYPSEY

Same thing recorded slower. It be selling, famous Willy, how it sells. Hold it. Wait! Check this out, pardner. Come here, darlin.

(He lifts the punk up off the floor and sets her on her feet.)

PUNK

How come we don’t have this room? I like this room better than our room.

GYPSEY

It’s the same room, darlin.

PUNK

The furniture faces in a different direction.

GYPSEY

Haw! Ain’t she somethin? Don’t she make your gonads come to attention? Are we a couple or what? I love her, honest. I can’t get enough of her. She’s fourteen carrot gold, matie. Watch this.

(grabbing her roughly)

Ramones darlin. Rock and roll as decadence. Thousand watt Marshall amps in feedback land with the lead guitarist, an acid freak in a mohegan and a tutu, playin a stratocaster with his teeth.

PUNK

Tsk. Take it into traffic.

GYPSEY

Haw! Join in, Willy. You and me been there. South a Houston!

East a Sheriden Square!

GYPSEY

Mud Club!

C.B.G.B.’s!

GYPSEY

A band named after somebody barfin!

Sid Vicious scarfin hisself and his old lady in some fleabag in Chelsea!

GYPSEY

Violence!

Hate!

GYPSEY

Shaved heads!

Razorbladed retinas!

GYPSEY

Unrest and discontent seethin in the urban cauldron of a youthful wasteland.

The bomb!

GYPSEY

Boom!

Nothing!

GYPSEY

Nuclear winter!

Radioactive babies!

GYPSEY

God is dead!

Or wearing headphones and the music’s turned to ten!

(They collapse to the floor, exhausted and panting. The girl stands there, unmoved.)

PUNK

Tsk.

GYPSEY

Haw! She’s gold, Willy, solid gold. She’s died her bush that color too.

PUNK

Die. Just die.

GYPSEY

I ain’t complainin, darlin! Took a little gettin used to first time I went carpet munchin but I’m gettin so’s I like it.

PUNK

Roll over and die twice.

GYPSEY

No. We understand. Don’t we, Willy? Way back when he and me joined hands.

Grew our hair.

GYPSEY

Chanted mantras.

Sang protest songs.

AND GYPSEY

(singing)

Kum-bai-ya, my lord, kum-bai-ya.

GYPSEY

Passe, darlin.

Useless.

GYPSEY

Wouldn’t make the inside pages a Newsweek let alone the cover.

You do what you do.

GYPSEY

I hear ya. Couple a years from now though, honey, you’re gonna hope that shit washes out.

(Gypsey sweeps the punk up and kisses her passionatly.)

GYPSEY

You wanna take this little honey into the bedroom, Willy? She’ll give you a ride you won’t never forget.

(The punk approaches Willy, sinks to her knees in front of him.)

(gently)

No.

GYPSEY

Here’s the key to our room, darlin. Go on back and stick something up your nose.

PUNK

(to Willy)

I like this room better.

(She exits. And now when Gypsey speaks, he speaks in a normal voice with no trace of country accent.)

GYPSEY

Do you think I’m a degenerate?

Yes.

GYPSEY

Me too.

(Gypsey takes a big belt of booze. He offers the bottle to Willy who refuses it.)

GYPSEY

How are you, Willy?

I’d say terrified sums it up. And yourself, Gene?

GYPSEY

(taking a drink)

Surviving nicely, thanks. Gene. When’s the last time anyone called me Gene.

When’s the last time you spoke like a normal human being?

GYPSEY

Long time, Boss.

Anybody ever wonder how a boy from Marblehead, Massachusetts picked up a Southern accent?

GYPSEY

Nope. Niether has anyone asked how a graduate of the Julliard School of Music seems only able to play three chords.

Nobody wonders, nobody cares.

GYPSEY

Course not. They just figure the territory comes with the cowboy hat.

(Gypsey begins carefully laying out lines of cocaine.)

GYPSEY

Chill out, son. It’d be a real mistake to think people take us at anymore than face value. When it gets down to basics, celebrity comes in second to the price of milk, bread and ground beef.

Why me.

GYPSEY

Breakdown in security, I guess. I tell you, there’s coming a time when the rich are gonna live in fortresses. Locked doors, armed guards, tanks instead of station wagons. Have versus the have nots, Willy. That’s what’s coming. You been living in this gilded fishbowl for too long. New York, L.A. and T.W.A. It’s a jungle out there, son. Most people don’t read the newspaper, they are the newspaper. You got a guy who works fifty hours a week in a steel mill to feed his kids, he’s got no savings, his car is rusting to pieces, his house is falling apart, his son is getting into drugs, his wife is pushing a size eighteen and every time he turns on the tube, he sees people who have what he thinks he oughta have and knows he never will. That can make for some anger, son. That can make for a little despair. That can make you want to shoot somebody. Either that or dance to rock music.

(Gypsey takes an enormous snort of cocaine.)

Gypsey? I’ve been sleeping fourteen hours a day lately. More.

GYPSEY

Ah.

(He takes another enormous hit of cocaine.)

It’s not the sleep I like. It’s the moment before waking. You drift. I could drift forever.

(When Gypsey speaks now, the accent is back full force. It’s as if he’s shifted from first to fifth gear.)

GYPSEY

I’m givin all this up soon and becomin a surfer I think!! At’s a fine obsession, lookin for perfection in a curl a water!

(He takes a belt of burbon.)

Why’d that guy shoot me, Gene? Why shoot a stranger?

GYPSEY

I’m also thinkin strongly on becomin’ a marathon runner! I’d look some kinda cute in a pair a sheer nylon shorts and I hear you get high from oxygen deficiency!

(He takes another belt of burbon.)

Stop with that shit!?

GYPSEY

Aw, man!

Will you listen to me!?

GYPSEY

No! You listen to me! Get with the program, son! You act like you didn’t cry and beg and pray every goddam night to get where the fuck you got! You just forgot to be careful. You forgot that people get jealous. That when you got somethin good, people want to take it.

Unless you screw it up yourself.

GYPSEY

Hey. Listen, man, listen.

(He sings. The melody is from the aria in Gianni Schicchi that the daughter sings to her father. The words are Gypsey’s. He’s countrified it.)

GYPSEY

Oh, my love, I love you

You know how much I love you

You know I’ll always love you

Love you with all my heart.

(Gypsey stops. Pause. Willy has turned away in disgust. Gypsey sings again. But this time the melody is pure and clear and the voice is deep and sad and recognizable as a voice once classically trained.)

GYPSEY

Oh, my love I need you

You know how much I need you

You know I’ll always need you

Need you with all my…

(Pause.)

Why’d you stop, Gene, that’s pretty. You write that?

GYPSEY

My next big hit, son. Music by Puccini, lyrics by yours truly, the incredibly notorious Gypsey Davie… Ah, christ, fuck me.

(He chugs the burbon.)

Aw, Gene, look at you, man.

GYPSEY

I was gonna be a singer, a real one. I loved to fuckin sing!

You don’t have to worry about people shootin at you, you’re killing yourself.

GYPSEY

Not my fault!

It wasn’t mine either, man! Oh, man, what I doing here? What am I doing? It’s run for the hills time, man! Get out of the line of fire! Get away from the battle zone! Flatuence to flatuence, muck to muck, may we rest in peace. Drink! Nothing means nothing! Stick something up your nose! Nothing adds up to nothing. Take a girl into the bedroom and go for a ride! Sex and death! That’s all anyone is concerned with around here! Get fucked and die! Get fucked and die! Just… aw, man… you can’t help me! No one can!

(Willy exits, leaving him.)

GYPSEY

Yeah. I don’t blame ya. Go. Hide. Till they find you.

(He wets his fingers and wipes up the rest of the cocaine. He licks it of his fingers.)

GYPSEY

(exiting)

When they do, you gimme a call, son. I’m aroun’. I got lights.

(He hits a switch. Lights to black. The sudden sound of a restless crowd; cheers, voices, stamping feet. A voice speaks out of the black.)

SUIT

Ladies and gentlemen, the incredibly famous Willy Rivers!

(The screaming and applause of the crowd is deafening. It’s like an arena is being shaken to it’s roots by the sound of cheers. Lights crisscross the stage like lazorbeams. Music as Willy hits the stage.

(screaming to be heard)

Thank you! Thank you very much!

(The music changes gears; hard driving, expectant and Willy reaches for the mike and he sings.)

Man can make the stage dim.

Man can make the noise stop.

Man can make a drum beat.

Man can make a guitar weep.

Man can make the room bright.

Man can make the dark light….

Tonight!

Got anticipation.

Got a good connection.

Gonna make the joint jump.

We got a chain reaction.

Gonna change the landscape.

Gonna make your heart break…

Tonight!

We don’t stop!

Until we generate heat.

We don’t stop!

Come on and crank up the beat.

We don’t stop!

Until you’re dead on your feet.

Man can make a melody.

Man can set your soul free.

Man can make you lose control.

Man can make you rock and roll.

Man can make you feel great.

Hot girl on a blind date…

Tonight!

(repeat chorus)

(Suddenly, from the audience, a man runs to the stage. He dances with the music a moment, his arms above his head in ecstacy. He draws a pistol from under his shirt and he raises it and he fires. Willy is hit and he goes sprawling. The killer fires again and Willy jerks as the bullet hits him in the back. Chaos. Men run from the wings and drag the gunman away. Feedback. Willy is lying in a pool of blood on stage. Screams. Fade to silence. The lights on Willy dim to black. The sound of an ambulance grows and then fades away. Lights up. Willy is center, the horror of the memory still with him. Suit is standing next to him but Willy is oblivous.

SUIT

Willy. Willy, kid. It is time.

(Lights fade to black.)