Issue Thirty-Nine - Winter 2022

The Slice of Learning Between Them

By Leonie TO COME

A Play in One Act

(Two humans sit on rubble, paddles propped up beside them. A carries a newspaper and a paper sack with a few bits of food. B carries a backpack. Overpass above. Water all around.)

A. Let’s peel the egg, shall we? We’ve a little salt.

B. Crocodiles float by. Rotting carcasses.

(They peel and share the egg.)

B. Humans. Rats. Blue jays. Wolves. Cultural anthro and archeo. Modena vinegar and amphoras. Romantic cozy-ing.

A. From which area did you squeeze that?

B. Ology.

A. If the humanities department hadn’t been defunded we wouldn’t be sloshing.

B. Let’s not load our blunderbusses yet.

A. Ah yes sapiens. Eating. Eliminating. Squaring off. Firing.

B. I’m sick.

A. Bombing. (Pause) We shall float on currents like the newspapers. Dailies. (Opens a cartoon section and reads it.) Bumble bees receive presidential pardon. Keep me up to date. Numbers go down when lead gasoline is outlawed. Go on. Elucidate me.

B. I’m nauseous.

A. Bravo. You may have the final plop of mayonnaise, sans egg. (Offers a spoon.) Bon appétit.

B. Machine grinds to a halt. Mind remains pristine. (Does not take spoon.)

A. Piggy-back-ing on the scalpels of scholars, are you? Don’t tell me you haven’t the stomach? (Takes the spoon back.)

B. Denouement of our fucking hearts, livers…

A. What conceit’re we in now?

B. Crossing the Red Sea in a paper boat.

A. Mother Goose. Yes, of course.

B. In a paper boat. Indian Ocean in a coconut.

A. Yes, of course. You might tell me something I don’t already know.

B. The malfeasance of the poop facility.

(B turns upstage and vomits.)

A. Bravo. Satire, is it? You can take our thimble-full of clean water… (Hands B a water bottle.) That, at least, won’t chafe your shoulders. You’re in a divine state of grace, having dragged encyclopedias through poops formally known as sewage, rudely called shit.

B. Here’s your illegible margins. (Hands A the backpack.)

A. Yes, well. (Looks at backpack. Pause.) They’re opening the interstate. Licking on patches as we speak.

B. Horse-drawn carts. Sleigh-bells.

A. There’ll be taxis, just like we had in the old days. Crocodiles floating by. Rotten carcasses. Rats. Humans. Blue jays. Wolves. Chihuahuas. We’ll be above them all, riding high in a cab. If you’ll please remember: we’ve been deprived of our humanities. If the department hadn’t been defunded and its classrooms boarded up, we very well might be sitting on dry land. Mightn’t we? (Raises an arm.) Taxi?

(They stand up, pick up paddles, wade hurriedly through water into wings.)

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