the wax paper

Around and Around

CHARACTERS

KERRY – A transvestite in her 30s, has a haunting quality and sadness to her. She wears a purple dress.

BEN – A clean-cut man in his 40s. He wears a suit that is a little dirty. He is confused and seems to be holding onto a particular reality. Has memories that haunt him. 

TIME / PLACE

Now, an abandoned bus station in downtown Los Angeles. It’s near Olvera Street, a Latino hub. 

(Kerry stands, looking out. Ben enters, a little disheveled. He looks around and is glad to see Kerry.) 

BEN
Where am I?

KERRY
The bus station.

BEN
Are they spackling here?

(wipes dust off his jacket)

KERRY
There’s a fountain outside where you can wash off. 

BEN
Oh, I don’t need to do that, I have a shower at home.

I guess I spent the night outside! I haven’t done that since I was a kid. Boy Scouts. . .

(thinks)

strange, a memory like that, buried somewhere, and just popping up! 

(looks up)

Sleeping under the stars. . .have you ever done that? 

KERRY
I went to camp. The counselors were hippies. They were all off fucking.

(DISTANT FIESTA MUSIC is heard.)

BEN
(looks off)

Beautiful, the music of non-indigenous peoples. 

KERRY
Olvera Street isn’t far.

BEN
I’ve lived here all my life and I don’t think I’ve ever been there! 

(looks around)

I’ve never taken a bus trip either, it’s always seemed so outdated.

KERRY
I was supposed to get on a bus, but I didn’t.

BEN
That’s great, to just be able to change your plans like that. To be expected somewhere is nice, isn’t it? To have people waiting for you.

(drifts off, then suddenly concerned)

Do you think the person is still waiting for you? 

KERRY
Maybe they were never waiting. 

BEN

True; it’s hard to know about other people, what they’re doing. You can live with someone for years and not know what they’re thinking. And one day they can just leave. . .the Internet doesn’t tell you anything. Facebook, all those updates. I mean, what are people really up to? (pause) I don’t know; ex-girlfriends, old friends. People I knew. I’d like to think they’re all not dead, but some could be. 

KERRY

People can be alive and be dead to you.

BEN
Oh, I know. Well (looks around) what’s the best way out of here?

KERRY
Where are you going?

BEN
Sunset Plaza - ? 

(has some confusion about his destination)

It’s a great view from up there. You can see the whole city. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Civilization. That we’ve built all this. Someday all the people will be gone. And something else will be living here, in our place. Sitting in its habitat, turning over little fossils of us in its...

(stares at his own hands, then sees something)

What’s that?

KERRY
An old tunnel. 

BEN
Wow! Where does it go?

(walks towards it)

KERRY
It goes nowhere. 

BEN
(wanders a little)

I had no idea of the detail of this building; the gargoyles outside, and this faded terrazzo on the floor. It’s like “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” in here. Ever seen that?

KERRY
Mankind’s ultimate adventure. An astronaut discovers new horrors on the Planet of the Apes, in an underground city where mutant humans with psychic powers reside.

BEN
(happy)

A fan too, huh! Of the whole series? 

(Kerry doesn’t answer. She looks off, and Ben starts to check her out.)

BEN
I’d like to think that people in the future will create a kind of utopia, you know? Not live underground. 

(Kerry is aware of Ben’s eyes on her.)

BEN
Are you a man or a woman? 

KERRY
My genitalia dangle with possibilities. 

BEN
You know, I see people like you, around sometimes. I think

(trying to choose his words carefully)

if you’re not just out having fun dressing up. If you really are confused about your sex. That’s sad. 

(sees his watch)

My watch has stopped. You know if this was the 1800s, I might think you came here for the gold. California must have been something back then. All that open land to claim. A simple conversation could result in your death, you know, like the Old West. 

KERRY
(takes a step out)

A wonderful breeze is coming through the bus station now.

BEN
The stench of urine is powerful here. 

KERRY
These places of transience. Places where we wait. I think there will be more of them in the future. 

BEN
(monologue builds into a kind of desperation at the end)

Why didn’t you get on the bus? (pause) Do you find there are so many choices at the market? I just want to get food. I was at a dinner party, and they served lobsters. In the other room, with the brie and the wine and the music, you could still hear it. The clawing of the lobsters on the pot as they were dying. God, who were those people? I don’t remember. (pause) Every day when I drove home from work I would see my wife there, at the window, looking out. My headlights would shine on her face, illuminating it as I pulled up to our house. Instead of feeling happy that she was waiting for me, I lost respect for her; didn’t she have anything else to do? And then. When she was leaving me. What is 30 years of marriage together? I asked her. But she didn’t say anything. It was unanswerable.

(He looks away. As Kerry speaks, Ben listens and her words have an effect on him.) 

KERRY
It is only the two of us now. It’s like we’re the last two people on earth. Or the first. We will have to begin the progeny. Then, with our hundreds of children we will traverse the earth in the Age of Migration. Continents will break apart. Land will fall away at our feet. Ice Ages will temporarily freeze everything, and a blue glow will blind any eye that looks upon it. We will keep moving and forget why. But we will have each other.

(Ben slowly turns to her.)

BEN
That’s the most romantic thing anybody has ever said to me.

(THE END.)

Around and Around was performed at Sharon’s Farm in a garden/junkyard, near a bus line.

Sharon Yablon has been writing, directing, and sound designing her plays for 20 years. In 2015, her first short story and a book on underground theater that she co-edited will be published. Los Angeles, CA.