A Search for Facts
Middle-aged man in bed wakes to the sound of nails being pounded on the roof of the house in which the man is sleeping. The man sleeps beneath a single thin white sheet. The cause of the pounding is unseen. The man rustles in bed with eyes closed for a minute, then his unseen cell phone begins to ring. He checks the nightstand beside the bed but the phone is missing. Unable to locate the phone, it stops ringing in a few seconds. He begins to gather his bearings, and weighs the prospect of seeking the phone. He is alone in the house, so he talks to himself a good portion of the time. There is also the sound of far off thunder which he cannot consistently delineate from the sound of the hammer pounding on the roof. Just after dawn.
Man: (cell phone rings offstage. man speaks aloud to himself) Jesus Christ. Goddamn phone. I wonder what time….past morning. Light through the shades? Valences? Brown cloth, brown, fleshy, my ovoid liver, I’m not hungry, but gaining weight, how am I getting heavier? The mattress has a notch my body made, body grooved, body grooved….Can a bird be tone deaf? Stupid question. Asinine? God…Wifey. I wonder if wifey is tone deaf. Can’t sing, such a pretty voice though. So pretty. God I want…I wish…God…where is my wife?
(hammering from above, just atop the bedroom. there is the seemingly perpetual background of random birdsong.)
For the love of God, what do you want? This noise? The pagans in Gilgamesh drowned out humans just for being raucous, for noise. I tell them and I tell them, not because of sin or belief, because of noise. This was before Christ. There’s a difference for you. Do they understand what I mean? It’s not meaning so much as intent. Intent. That’s the most important concept, I mean, word, in language, or understanding it. I mean, yes, yes, Intent. Intent with a capital “I.”
(the man makes quotation marks with both hands in air.)
Why I only minored in philosophy. Intent. I intend this world to be good. I intend this day to be good. What is good? Define your terms…social security number…how they graded us. Not by our names. I wonder if that was a joke by the department. Irony somehow? Define….terms…good…irony? Beauty….Keats…I’m so thirsty. It’s a beautiful day that song.
Goddamn this. Up til after three. Head hurts. Please, please leave me alone. I want, wish, wish to be alone. Is this mission necessary? Necessary? Define necessary. That which must be done. According to who? Says who? Yes, says who? Awake. Must be done. Done or else. Or else? Define else. Else…I’m not sure…Am I the reason my cat died? I won’t bury him. I’m not able. He’s all the way over there and I’m way over here. It’s not possible. Who will bury him? Did I kill my cat? Awake. Is there a ghost in my old room? Dad says he felt something move through him once. Voices…I can’t sleep down there anymore. I think my damn feet are still asleep. No dreams. That’s good. Good thing. Define good. Define thing while I’m defining good. That which is corporeal. That which may be apprehended by one or more of the senses. That’s what I tell them. What’s the point. Is that a question? Question. Not in the voice of a question. Voice of a question. Voice…what voice of a question? Am I getting at anything? Have to piss. Urinate. Eructate my bile. My waste. Waste…define waste. That which is no longer of use. Like this thought, like my sleep, sordid dreams sounds good, what sleep, this past sleep, I’ve already forgotten it, forgotten what, sleep, past sleep, just this past sleep, you have no memory of it, none, what about waking, hammering, hammering since I opened my eyes, are you sure, I believe so, define believe, I can’t, too early, no, too late, so time is a factor in definition, of course time is, time is what, time is a reason, a factor, a vector, a decision we make, I’m rubbing my eyes, see, see, I’m slapping my cheeks, who is watching this? No one of course. God? If you like. Is God watching me wake? You’ve been awake for ten minutes. Define awake. This. My definition is this. Can this be a definition? This can. It’s this. It is this.
(having rubbed his eyes, the man spreads his arms wide, scratches the hair on his chest.)
(long pause with no speech. hammering is constant along with approaching thunder.)
One day I’ll fall asleep and I won’t wake up. Can’t find my phone. Lay here, lie here?, until it rings again. Course that could be minutes, hours, days, from now. I can’t lay here, lie here? for days. Course not. Things to do. My wife will be furious. My wife. But she’s not mine, just with me. With me. With is a lot. It means. Especially when we’re together. And apart. Means. That which must be accomplished. Define must. Again define must? Leave me alone. So must is relative? And subjective. Subjective? Must is a subjective word, idea. Idea. Define idea. Must is an idea and idea is a must. For God’s sake, leave it at that. Well, thinking about it, the difference could be between a capital letter or a lower case letter.
I still don’t understand.
(twenty seconds pass. the man visibly feels his teeth with his tongue.)
Must bathe. Damn it. But, must. Yes, yes, yes…Think of the number eight. The figure it makes. It’s beautiful, right? Oh yes. So gorgeous. The word gorgeous sleeps gingerly yet deeply upon, no, within, my tongue. That’s too much. It’s affected. What isn’t affected? Feeling? Good God. Feeling. God, I love language. For its own sake. If anything for its own sake, language. The word itself. La–ng–u–a-ge. It’s truly beautiful. Define beautiful…Keats tried. I can’t. That’s the irony. Only I or you can define it, but I can’t define it for you or anyone else. But I am you. Am is strange. Else. Else. Else is a pretty word. Else…
(the man sits up as a thunder clap sounds just above his bed coinciding with hammer strikes.)
Whoever is on this roof will surely be killed by lightning. Surely. I can see it now. People will come to see. In this town they’re thirsty for blood. In this town? They aren’t literally thirsty for blood I mean. Define literally. Isn’t literally subjective? What isn’t? Truth? How is being truthful different from being blood thirsty? Not truthful…truth. So it’s separated by a grammatical sense. A grammatical sense…like awake and a-dream. I suppose so. Yes.
(long pause with no speech. hammering on the roof has ceased. thunder moves closer and is more frequent.)
I don’t know where my goddamn phone is. I guess I’m remote at the moment. I guess I’m cut off. From everyone. I guess this could be good. I intend for good things to happen. For goodness. Do people consider goodness? I would guess things like cell phones impede pondering upon goodness in some if not most cases. Not that I have secret knowledge. Secret language. I think maybe my wife’s body is my secret language that she knows and I try to, try to. So it’s not mine, but hers, but she shows me signs and I try to learn, or know, and I don’t tell, share, with anyone. So she is not mine. I guess we are together. She is more than I am or could be. It’s not marriage, it’s not love, it’s what two people are. A secret. We are a secret. That makes sense to me, but I can’t tell anyone. Is that ironic? The thing is, I can’t ask anyone about it. If it is or isn’t, I mean. It’s a secret. I guess I never really knew that word before just now. Of course saying it aloud…I should end it here. I wonder if I actually hate anything? I mean, really hate…hate…it’s too subjective…so is murder an objective expression of hate? Well you can measure murder. Of course hate is subjective. That’s what I try to tell them. It doesn’t come, you can’t buy it. I can’t acquire a box of hate from the shelves of 7-11. It is, but it isn’t before us. It seems so simple. Because it’s an idea, right? Not a thing. Not a thing.
(rain begins to fall gently. birdsong becomes fleeting and sparse.)
It’s raining. I guess just I’ll lay here, lie here? until the phone rings again. I can’t find it. Locate it. My phone is missing. I guess that’s my fault too. I don’t even know what time it is. What time is it? Define it. It is this. This is it. One and the same? Do they both mean the same thing? Define mean. In that case, yes. I wonder if that guy got electrocuted? Electrocuted is a lovely word. Word is similar to wonder. I mean wonder is similar to word. I’m guessing word came before wonder. Less syllables. I wonder if there is a perfect music. I can’t define perfect and I can’t define music. But you know what it is. What is? Perfect and music. Perfect and music. I can hear one and feel both. Define feel. It’s not with my hands, or eyes. Can you feel with your eyes? I can feel with my eyes. Yes. That’s impossible. Impossible…impossible…
(audibly heavy rain begins to fall on the roof. there is no other sound or movement other than a tennis ball being hit.)
Must I bathe? I could stand under the rain. Under the rain. I could stand. I once stood under the rain. I could stand again. But you are, I am, different. The rain is different. The universe? The universe is the universe. I think the universe is more subjective than anything. Like beauty. No, like morning, afternoon. Night is night. Night is night. Like memory? Objective? No, subjective. Is night or memory subjective. I guess both are. Of course. Sure. Beauty is the repetition of form. Form of mind. Mind of form…
(sound of tennis ball being hit. very loud thunder clap. offstage scream.)
My god!… But sound is not thought, nor thought sound. But sound is both…as is thought. Well, it’s really coming down now. Droves of water. Yes, droves. I like that word. I wonder what it actually means. Actually means? Actually…I guess some people play tennis. I guess that could be a joke. Or an end to a joke. I guess I could admit I don’t know what I’m doing or talking about. After all, my intent on this day has nothing to do with the day itself. So the day is beyond me, beyond my will. Should I play tennis? Define tennis. Some goddamn game. Define game. Tennis is a thing. Or is it an idea? I guess it’s both, as most things are. Most? Or all. It is what is it is is so lazy. I didn’t say that. Tennis is tennis. That’s different than the other thing. But we all know I haven’t begun to define thing. Nor do I think it’s actually possible. I sound, what, vacant? Remote?. I know, listen to you. I think you mean me. So you is the same as me? You mean Are? You…me…Are me? What?…me……….
(fifteen seconds pass. sound of tennis ball being hit.)
Well then. …Ideas, like things, can be altered. Changed for the better. Yes. Altered. But unlike things, ideas cannot be measured. You mean owned. That too. Ideas are of the ethos. You mean we cannot take them to the grave. Something like that. Good God your voice is off key! I guess I’m a bit off today, as people say. Like the weather. Define people. People are like weather. Akin, of various voices, times of year. Yes, I can measure a year. There you go. You, I, we, we’re on to something profound here. No, I think I hear sirens…far off…yes, sirens…I hear them…
(fifteen seconds pass. the man sighs audibly.)
(the man lays back down on the bed, listens to the rain’s sound which is heavy, pedantic, pervasive, and ubiquitous. two minutes pass. the man sits up on his elbows in bed.)
The flutterer, the stutterer of heaven! Yes! Rain is beautiful. Yes. Rain is Beautiful. With a capital B? Yes, I think so! I mean I think rain is so beautiful! Who doesn’t think rain is beautiful?! (pause of wonderment) Yes…yes, if nothing else…else…else..,rain is beautiful. If nothing else. Rain is. Rain is. That which cannot be disputed. That which cannot…cannot is of course a tricky one. One seems so simple. Zero even more so. Which makes it profound. Says you. Zero. (pause.) That which is good. (explosions off stage. screams. pause. thunder. heavy rain continuous.) Leave good alone. Good lives with zero. So they are with each other? You have no heart! Heart! What about this? What about what? This. I guess they’re an item?
(the man lays back down on the bed, listens to the rain’s sound which is heavy, pedantic, pervasive, and ubiquitous. two minutes pass.)
(fade to black.)