There’s a north wind blowing.  If you look up at the trees you see the branches sway.  The flowers falling with the force of it.  You see Benjy following Aaron.  Both carry guns.  Rifles—.22 caliber.  Very popular, using a heeled bullet.  They’re hunting squirrels.  But that’s not all.  Aaron is carrying a mouse trap.  They’re walking the rails that lead to the train bridge.  Aaron’s plan to drown a mouse.

AARON

I’m glad you came home, Benjy…  When are you coming home for good?  How is she?  How’s Dulcy?

BENJY

My father committed himself to a show.  I just came home with him…  Dulcy’s pregnant.

AARON

(turning)

What?

BENJY

Oh come on—don’t act like you don’t know.  I go to the same church as you…  It took me a while.  But I found out my mistake…

AARON

What mistake?  What mistake, Benjy?

BENJY

There’s a woman.  She lives up above.  Above the bar where my father plays…  You know she didn’t have to be the one to tell me.  You could have.  You could have come to me with it.

AARON

Come to you with what, Benjy?

BENJY

I know you have it…  You have my father’s journal.

AARON

Oh…

They’re in the middle now.  Benjy watches Aaron to see if he’s nervous, but Aaron shows no sign.  His hands only tremble slightly as he opens the trap.  They both look over the rail as the mouse falls out.  It’s about a twenty foot drop.  They watch the splash.  The mouse tries to swim.  It moves to one of the concrete abutments supporting the bridge.  Aaron points.

AARON

Look!

They see a turtle come to the surface.  The shell above the water.  And the head.  Its legs moving it towards the mouse.

AARON

You think he’ll drown.  Or will the turtle get him?

BENJY

I want it back.

AARON

What?

BENJY

The journal.  My father’s journal.

AARON

It’s in the tree…

BENJY

The tree?

AARON

The tree house.  It’s in the tree house.  You know I still go there sometimes.  It’s not far from here.  Remember when we were boys?  We didn’t want the girls to come up…

BENJY

Yeah…  I remember.  Why’d you do it, Aaron?  Why’d you make a fool out of me?  Why’d I have to hear it from her?  A woman?

AARON

Benjy… I…

BENJY

Shut up!  Just shut up!

You hear the whistle.  The train whistle.  Benjy takes his rifle off his shoulder and aims it at Aaron.  Aaron drops the mouse trap and raises his hands.

AARON

Benjy!  Remember!  You wanted us!  You wanted us to kiss!

BENJY

I remember…  Train’s coming.  You just stay right there.  You wait for that train.  You wait for it right there.  You follow me and I’ll shoot.

Benjy begins walking backwards.  He backs himself off the bridge.  He keeps his rifle pointed at Aaron.  Aaron still has his hands raised, but he turns his head to see if the train has made the curve that leads to the river.  It has.  You see it approaching in black smoke.

AARON

Come on, Benjy!  Quit playing! Benjy, I’m afraid!

Benjy has to speak loud to be heard over the train.

BENJY

It’s just like the tree, Aaron!  Remember!  We all had a part to play!  You just let the girls back in!

The train is close to the bridge now.  The rails vibrate.  Aaron turns his head again and looks at it.  His face is scared.  He looks down to be sure of his footing and begins running towards Benjy.

BENJY

Stop!

Maybe Aaron can’t hear him.  He’s just trying to make it to safety.  It’s faint, but you hear the report of the rifle.  Twice.  Aaron is close now.  He’s made it to the gravel embankment where Benjy stands off the rails.  He’s close enough to fall into Benjy and breathe his last breath.  Benjy holds him up his rifle in one hand.  He supports him so he stands as the train goes by.  They look small in contrast to the fast-moving compartments going by.  The sound is loud.  Deafening.  You don’t hear Benjy scream.

CHORUS

Why the fear?  The fear of being ordinary?  It’s the other you should be afraid of.  What an artist being an artist knows.  The silence after the creation.  The rest.  The hot wind after the train has passed.  The stifling dust.  And the flowers don’t fall.  They don’t fall to a north wind.  They wilt in the heat…  Make every effort.  Every effort to be ordinary.  There you will find your synchronicity.  Your otherness in being the one to laugh at the joke.  Not with the knowledge of the one making it.  Time is yours being ordinary.  You’ll find yourself in its simple measures.  For what’s important is found in making it unimportant.  Passed over as trivial.  What’s given intense scrutiny in one story a minor fact in another.  This what gives it truth.  How it is fundamental, crucial, almost even painful in the attention of one focus, one perspective, and is simply ignored by another player in the same range of discussion—in what’s North of North.  This is how a tragedy is made comedy.  And the pressure’s off.  There’s no pressure when making light of it.  You know how it ends.  You can handle anything when you know there’ll be an ending to it.  The mystery is lifted…  So make every effort.  Make every effort to be ordinary.  Never make it your story.  Never cast yourself in the starring role.  Be a supporting character.  Be as us…  Do this and you’ll be happy.  Do this and you’ll never be afraid…

Advertisements