BORED TO DEATH
The Tragedy of Bob Dorff in Two Acts
ACT ONE- SCENE ONE
(BOB DORFF has on a tie and a collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and sits with his head lain down against a table. The background is all white and a single light hangs in the middle of the stage over the table. There is a door at one end of the stage. The scene begins with Bob snoring loudly for sixty seconds.)
(Knock at the door. A man in a suit black suit walks in.)
MAN: Bob, wake up.
(Pats Bob on the shoulder. Bob stirs and eventually raises his head.)
MAN: Are you ready for the next suspect?
BOB: Yes, yes, yes.
MAN: Ok, here is his file.
(Hands Bob a brown folder)
BOB: Thank you. Send him in.
(The man leaves and a panda bear enters the room. The panda bear struggles to fit into the chair for about ten seconds.)
BOB: Well, c’mon, sit down, we don’t have all day.
(The panda bear struggles for a few more seconds)
BOB: What is your problem? You terrorists really are animals. You have no idea how to live life in a rational society.
(The panda struggles a bit more but finally gets settled, although he is obviously very uncomfortable.)
BOB: Well, good thing you finally got seated. Now, why don’t you first tell me your name and where you reside while you are not in the CIA’s custody. Don’t worry we don’t tape these interrogations, we don’t use them in court, we hardly take any of you scumbags to court.
PANDA BEAR: I don’t speak English.
BOB: Well, obviously you can speak some English because you just told me in perfect English that you don’t speak English. So, what’s the deal, you terrorist bastard?
PANDA BEAR: I don’t speak English.
BOB: What are you trying to hide? You know you’re going extinct, you and all your terrorist friends. This war is almost over. Can you understand what I’m saying; can you speak English?
PANDA BEAR: (turning to audience) God, this asshole really doesn’t get the idea of what I’m trying to say. (turning back to Bob) I don’t speak English.
BOB: Still going with that same old defense are you? Trying to play the ignorant, innocent bystander who just happens to be caught in the CIA’s web?
BOB: Well, I’m not buying it. I know you can understand every word I’m saying, and I know that you were involved in that car bombing last week?
PANDA BEAR: (turning to the audience) Maybe, I should just shake my head, even though I have no idea what this shit bag is saying. You know, make him think I have some clue about what the hell he is saying.
(Panda Bear shakes head)
BOB: Aha! You can understand what I’m saying! You just nodded your head! Oh, you’re going down now you filthy son of a bitch. You’re going away for a long time, motherfucker. Can I get your confession in a statement? I have it right here, we have these things printed up for everyone, because you all could be the terrorists.
(Bob places a piece of paper on the table next to the panda bear. He shoves a pen at the panda bear, which the panda bear is unable to grasp, and it ultimately falls to the floor.)
BOB: Oh, so you’re not going to sign it, are you? Well, I guess it doesn’t matter anyway; we don’t usually prosecute you filthy scumbags in court anyway. We just lock you in a cell and make you sleep in your own feces forever.
BOB: Wow, you really don’t have a fucking clue what I’m saying do you? Fuck, I might as well just start talking about whatever. I could talk about whatever bullshit I wanted and you would have no idea what I’m saying.
BOB: Well, I might as well just keep on talking for a few more minutes, or else they’ll wonder why the interrogation was so short. You probably wouldn’t be able to guess this, but I’ve never found any hard evidence against any suspect ever in my entire time in the CIA. Oh, we’ve held people, fuck we’ve killed people, but I’ve never really found any concrete evidence against any of these people they bring in here. They say I’m one of the best at what I do.
PANDA BEAR: (turning to audience) Wow, this fuck wad really has no life. He just keeps on talking for no reason at all. He must know by now that I have no clue what he’s saying, and yet he keeps on talking in his annoying voice. What a dumb ass.
(He gets up and walks over to the side of the table that the panda is on.)
BOB: Yeah, I could tell you all kinds of crazy shit about this organization I work for. We really have no fucking idea what we’re doing. Fuck, I really have no idea what I’m doing, either here or in my life. It might surprise you to know that I’m currently having an affair with my cousin. Yeah, I know it might sound crazy but we met for coffee one day and one thing led to another and there I was touching her ass, fucking her doggystyle.
BOB: Of course, it will probably only be a one-time thing, you know? Because if my wife finds out she’d kill me. Oh, she’d rip my fucking balls off. Plus, she is my cousin, I’m not sure if she’s my first, second, or third cousin. I never understood that bullshit. I never did well in school. Well, I got a degree, but I didn’t learn anything. You could ask me what I’ve learned during my life, and I would be hard pressed to find even one thing. God, what does it all mean?
PANDA BEAR: (turning to audience) Should I just end his misery? More accurately, should I end OUR misery? Hell, I can’t take much more of this shit. (turning to Bob) SHUT THE FUCK UP!
(The panda bear gets up, jumps on Bob, and begins slapping Bob. Bob yells and men in suits rush in and beat the panda down with police sticks. The panda bear roars.)
MAN: Man, listen to this terrorist yell. They really are animals.
BOB: Maybe, we’re all animals.
(The lights dim to black.)
ACT ONE-SCENE TWO
(The scene takes place in a bar. At the rear of the stage there is a bar, behind which there is a bartender and in front of which there are tall stools, each filled with a different person. There is a table on the left side of the bar, a table in the center, and a couch on the right side. DONALD MCCLURE walks into the bar.)
CINDY: Hi Donald!
DONALD: Oh, hi Cindy. (he begins looking around the bar)
CINDY: How are you? I haven’t seen you in years! I didn’t know you were going to be here!
DONALD: Well, yeah, I still talk to Maria all the time, and she had said some old friends were going to get together here, so I figured I’d stop by. (Noticing MARIA, DONALD waves to her) Well, I think I’m going to go say hi to Maria….
CINDY: No wait, we should catch up for a few minutes. C’mon Donald!
DONALD: Well, alright, I guess. What have you been up to these past few years?
CINDY: Oh, you wouldn’t believe it, my life has totally changed. I separated from my husband, the relationship had just become toxic for me, and then I moved back home with my parents for awhile and found myself and found God for the first time in a long time.
DONALD: Really, well that’s great. It’s nice to have someone strong like that on your side.
CINDY: Oh, do you believe in God?
DONALD: Eh, I don’t know, I’m pretty apathetic.
CINDY: What does that mean?
DONALD: I mean I think that religious truths transcend the understanding—
CINDY: No, I mean what does the word apathetic mean? What is the definition?
DONALD: Um, yeah. (he begins looking around frantically) Oh, Maria’s motioning for me, I better go see what she wants.
(He walks over to Maria, who sits at a stool by the bar.)
DONALD: Why, hello!
MARIA: Hey, Don!
(DONALD gets the attention of the bartender.)
DONALD: Vodka tonic, please.
ACT ONE-SCENE THREE
(The stage is split into two adjoining rooms, and in the middle of the stage there can be seen an open door that leads from one room to the other. In the room to the right there are a dozen or so people standing and talking, in the room to the left there is a lady preparing food. In the room to the right BOB, a dark-haired male, and MARIA, a blonde-haired female, stand talking to each other, although each of them seems distracted.)
MARIA: It’s a good turnout so far…. Don’t you think?
BOB: (mumbling) Everyday.
BOB: I think, everyday. That’s what I meant.
(MARIA turns away. After a pause, Bob leans towards her and rests his hand on her shoulder. She slowly turns back towards him.)
BOB: I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be a smart ass. It’s just, you know, it’s kind of stressful having all these people at our house.
MARIA: Oh, don’t worry, honey. After all, you know most of them.
BOB: Yeah, I guess. But who’s that over there—that blonde woman.
MARIA: Oh, that’s Anne. She works with me at the firm.
BOB: Ah, I see. You can never trust blondes.
(MARIA gently punches BOB on the shoulder.)
MARIA: Shut up.
BOB: Oh, damn. I forgot who I was talking to. (Sighs) And who is that creepy motherfucker over there in the corner, eating the samples off that platter?
MARIA: Oh, I thought you had met him a long time ago. His name’s Don, we went to college together, and I ran into him one day at the supermarket, and we got to catching up. He’s back living in D.C., still working for the FBI, he got transferred back here after almost twenty years in different cities, doing different investigations.
BOB: Hmm…a federal government man, like myself, I would have never guessed. I figured he was just the creepy husband of one of your lawyer friends. Get him over here, I’d like to meet him.
(MARIA motions to DONALD, who walks over to MARIA and BOB)
MARIA: Donald, I’d like you to meet my husband, Bob.
DONALD: Nice to meet you. Maria tells me that you work for the feds?
BOB: Twenty years, next March.
DONALD: What branch?
BOB: I mean, I’m not supposed to talk about it.
DONALD: C’mon, I won’t tell anyone. I work for the FBI, myself.
BOB: Yeah, that’s what Maria said….Well, alright. I work for the CIA.
MARIA: Twenty years, next March.
DONALD: That’s impressive. Well, I have to commend you. You guys do good work. You go catch the bad guys doing shit in other countries, and we catch the ones right here in this country.
BOB: Was that some kind of joke?
DONALD: No, I’m serious. You guys do good work.
MARIA: Also, Donald does a lot of work with—
BOB: So why don’t you wipe that shit-eating grin off your face? If you’re serious?
DONALD: This is no shit-eating grin. It’s just how my face naturally sets itself. People say I always look content.
MARIA: Yeah, Bob, he’s not being a smart ass or sarcastic or anything, I think he really just wanted to commend you on your work.
BOB: Well, alright.
MARIA: Like I was saying, Donald does a lot of work with trying to catch pandas.
BOB: Oh, really? Well then I commend you as well. Absolute animals.
DONALD: You’re telling me. Did you know that they start reproducing at the age of 5? Think about if we, humans, did that?
BOB: Then we’d be just as uncivilized as them.
MARIA: Who says we’re not.
BOB: Ahhh! You always do that.
BOB: Your stupid liberal butt-ins. You always do that whenever I start talking politics.
MARIA: Well, maybe we aren’t as civilized as we think we are. How is that liberal?
BOB: Ah, I don’t really want to get into—
DONALD: No, it’s okay. I voted for Clinton. I went to an east coast liberal arts school. But really, Maria, you can’t compare humans to pandas.
MARIA: Isn’t that what this whole war is about? The fact that we compare ourselves to them, and in comparing we find them to be much too different from our own political and moral standards?
BOB: Well there you have—
DONALD: Hold on, hold on. Allow me, Bob. Because I’m sensing a lot of emotion here, so maybe I can be the voice of reason. Maria, we don’t compare ourselves with them as much as we contrast ourselves with them. And they’re not different, they’re evil.
MARIA: Well, it’s nice to see you put that east coast liberal arts education to such fine insight.
DONALD: See, now that’s just what they call an “ad hominen” attack.
MARIA: Was it?
DONALD: I don’t know.
(Pause. After ten or seconds or so they both start laughing.)
BOB: What’s so funny? I don’t get it.
MARIA: It’s nothing. It’s nothing, honey.
DONALD: It’s just we used to always do this in college.
BOB: What? Laugh? Most college kids do.
DONALD: Hey, I don’t know what you’re—
MARIA: No, that’s not what he meant.
BOB and DONALD: Who were you talking to?
MARIA: Both of you.
DONALD: Well, anyway, we just always used to get into really heavy arguments in college, and then just suddenly stop.
BOB: And then you would start laughing?
MARIA: He’s just joking.
BOB and DONALD: Who were you talking to?
MARIA: (pointing to DONALD) You.
DONALD: Ah, I see.
BOB: Yeah, I was just joking, Don. Can I call you Don? Or do you prefer Donald?
DONALD: Don is fine.
BOB: Well, nice meeting you. I’ll let you two catch up. I’m going to go say hi to my cousin.
(BOB kisses MARIA on the cheek, and then he walks to the other side of the room and begins chatting with a group of several people.)
MARIA: Follow me, I need your help with the entrée.
(MARIA leads DONALD into the room on the left. The lights dim somewhat on the right side of the stage. MARIA turns to the lady preparing food.)
MARIA: That’s all I’ll need you for now, Emilia. I can handle it from here. Thank you.
(The lady turns and exits stage left. DONALD watches her leave, and when he is sure she is gone he then begins talking in a hushed tone.)
DONALD: What was his whole wise-ass attitude about?
DONALD: Does he know about us? He must know about us.
MARIA: No, he just—
DONALD: He’s just an asshole, right? Well, it’s no wonder you’re thinking of leaving him.
MARIA: I never said—
DONALD: Yeah, I know, you didn’t say you would leave him, you just said you felt like you want to.
MARIA: Yes, in so many words.
DONALD: Well, I guess—
(A woman walks from the right room into the left room. MARIA turns to acknowledge her.)
MARIA: Oh, hi, Elaina. Would you like some of the devilled eggs?
ELAINA: No, thank you. I was just looking for the bathroom.
MARIA: Ah, well, just go right down that hall and it’s the last door on the right.
ELAINA: Thank you.
(ELAINA exits off stage left.)
DONALD: How have you put up with this asshole for almost two decades?
MARIA: Now, Don, show some respect. I love you, you know this, but dealing with Bob is a very delicate situation.
DONALD: You need to get a grip on reality. The man is the plague.
MARIA: I mean, he does have his faults, but in the end he’s often been very charming to me.
(On the stage right, the lights gradually begin to revive, and Bob can be seen talking to a woman, his cousin ISABELLE.)
ISABELLE: Do you think she knows we’ve slept together?
DONALD: Do you think he knows we’ve slept together?
(There is a slight pause.)
BOB and MARIA: No.
ISABELLE: How do you know?
BOB: Because I’m not the typical adulterer, and we’re not the typical couple of adulterers. I work in covert stuff, baby, don’t worry.
(The lights dim somewhat again on the right side of the stage.)
MARIA: Well? Why are you suddenly so quiet? Does that not satisfy you?
DONALD: If you say he doesn’t, then he probably doesn’t. But this is a guy who makes his living invading people’s privacy and covertly fucking up their lives. I just don’t want him against me.
MARIA: And you don’t do all that?
DONALD: Not to the same extent. I don’t know. Also, what if he is cheating on you? I mean I saw the tension between you guys.
MARIA: He’s too bored and lazy to go cheat on me. Maybe if something happened to fall into his lap, but even still, he’s not the type.
DONALD: Yeah, he’s an idiot.
MARIA: I wish you wouldn’t say things like that. Well, let’s go rejoin the party.
(They walk back to the right side of the stage, and the lights dim on both sides.)
ACT ONE-SCENE FOUR
(The stage is split into two parts, with a wall in between. On the right side, two panda bears sit at a table drinking some type of liquid. There is a door on the wall that leads into this part of the stage. On the left side of the stage there is a white van, and it is such that the interior is revealed to the audience. In the van sits DONALD and RANDY. DONALD lights a cigarette.)
RANDY: Do you have to smoke in here?
DONALD: Would you prefer I put down the windows?
RANDY: Of course not! This is a surveillance van.
DONALD: I know. It was a joke.
RANDY: I don’t get it. I mean, I get it, but I don’t think it is funny.
DONALD: Yeah, I usually don’t either.
RANDY: What do you mean usually?
DONALD: I don’t know.
(RANDY blows smoke out of his face.)
RANDY: Do you mind?
DONALD: Excuse me? Are you forgetting about seniority?
RANDY: Yeah, whatever.
DONALD: Sorry kid. I always hated when guys would pull rank on me, too.
DONALD: It’s just the way it goes.
(There is silence for a few moments.)
RANDY: Fuck rank or seniority or whatever. What happened to good old human decency?
DONALD: We threw it out the window. Remember, back on the highway?
RANDY: And do you have to blow it right in my face?
DONALD: If through blowing it OUT of my face I happen to blow it TOWARDS your face, then I apologize.
RANDY: Thank you.
DONALD: Now shut up. We’ve got to keep our eyes and ears open and watch the feedback on the monitor, because they could start talking at any time.
(There is a silence for a few moments.)
RANDY: They sure are quiet pandas aren’t they?
(There is a silence for a few more moments.)
RANDY: Well, don’t you—
DONALD: Shut up!
(There is silence for a few more moments.)
DONALD: Damn, them. Damn pandas. How can they just sit there without talking? Doesn’t it make them uncomfortable?
RANDY: They’re really rather—
DONALD: Yeah, I know. Introspective, and all that bullshit.
(There is silence for a few moments.)
DONALD: Fuck this shit. I’ve been up all fucking night for the past two nights. The first night I was up all night with my girlfriend, talking about shit, and tonight I’ve been up all night sitting here, watching these pandas do nothing.
RANDY: You still dating the wife of that CIA guy?
DONALD: Yeah, I guess.
RANDY: Do you think he has a girl on the side?
DONALD: How the fuck should I know?
RANDY: Just curious.
DONALD: He’s an idiot, I doubt he’s even capable of going about such an ordeal.
(There is silence for a few more moments.)
DONALD: And I’m still hung over from last night! Fuck these pandas!
RANDY: Are you using drugs or coffee to stay awake?
DONALD: Coffee is a drug. And no.
RANDY: Yeah, really. I just stay awake, keep my eyes open. It’s not that hard.
(There is a silence for a few moments.)
DONALD: This is so boring
(There is more silence. Then the pandas begin making motions and gestures with their hands, appearing to talk, although the audience cannot hear them. RANDY puts on a pair of headphones and motions to DONALD.)
(RANDY takes a pen and pad and begins scribbling down a few words. Then he stops, although the pandas continue talking. Then he writes down a few more words. This goes on for several more minutes.)
DONALD: What are they saying?
RANDY: Well, I’m having trouble with a few words but I think I have most of it down.
RANDY: They’re waiting either drugs or carpet. I’m not sure which— the words are too similar.
DONALD: So maybe they’re not terrorists after all?? Instead they could be drug smugglers?
RANDY: Yeah, maybe.
DONALD: Interesting. And what else?
RANDY: Um, one of them commented about how he liked the vodka.
DONALD: I can[‘t blame him, it’s a good drink. Now c’mon, what else?
RANDY: That’s pretty much it.
DONALD: Are you kidding? I thought you knew pandese? They’ve been talking for almost five minutes now, and that’s all you got.
RANDY: Well, I’m still learning—
DONALD: Give me a break.
(They turn their attention back to the monitor. The pandas are still talking, and RANDY continues writing down several words every minute or so.)
DONALD: Ok, what have you got now?
RANDY: Give me another minute or so. They’re in the middle of something big.
(DONALD looks interested, the pandas continue talking, and RANDY continues to translate onto a paper for several more minutes.)
DONALD: Well? What have you got?
RANDY: Someone important is coming very soon. It may actually be terror related, or it might be terror and drugs both.
DONALD: Really? I’ll keep an eye on the house. You keep your eyes on the monitor.
(They continue like this for several moments. Then two pandas enter from the right carrying a long, unidentifiable object. They walk around the back of the van and enter the house that the other pandas are in.)
DONALD: I just saw two pandas enter the house. I’m calling for backup. (he picks up a phone) Yeah, I’m here with Randy. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, we need backup.
(They wait for several minutes, and then other armed, uniformed men appear from stage right outside the van. DONALD and RANDY exit the van from the back.)
DONALD: Okay, these are some dangerous animals, so don’t be afraid to use force. Alright? Let’s go.
(DONALD leads a dozen men towards the house, and one of them kicks down the door. The men all begin yelling in confusion, while the pandas remain as they were before, looking equally confused. Each of the four pandas is detained. The men begin leading the pandas out of the house. One of the newer pandas turns to the audience.)
PANDA: I was just trying to sell some carpet.
ACT ONE-SCENE FIVE
(Bob sits in a chair in an office. Across from him sits a psychotherapist, Doctor Grant. At the end of the office is a desk, and the opposite end there is a door.)
BOB: I think I suffer from narcolepsy.
DOCTOR: Bob, we’ve been over this before. You don’t have any such disorder. You’re just somewhat depressed and extremely bored.
BOB: Then how do you explain what happens during the day? I just fall asleep while I’m at work or eating dinner with my wife, and there’s no explanation for it.
DOCTOR: You fall asleep during the day because you are bored with your life. Presumably you have lost interest in your wife and your job.
BOB: I’m having an affair.
DOCTOR: Really? Hmmm. May I ask with whom?
BOB: My cousin.
DOCTOR: I see. And how long has this been going on?
BOB: About a week. We’ve only slept together once.
DOCTOR: And you find this to be more interesting than your normal routine? You don’t get bored?
BOB: Well, actually we were having sex and I fell asleep in the middle of the act.
DOCTOR: Why do you think that happened?
BOB: Because I have narcolepsy.
DOCTOR: No, you don’t have narcolepsy. You’re just bored.
BOB: Well, I need some medicine. C’mon you’ve given me medicine before.
DOCTOR: That’s because you were paranoid, and you were paranoid because you had been abusing substances. I still don’t even fully believe your story about that.
BOB: What do you mean? I’m a car salesman, I was in Mexico on a business trip and I tried peyote and I really liked it, so I did it a few more times, and…whatever. So I don’t have narcolepsy?
DOCTOR: Once again, I’m afraid you don’t. It’s an AMA-recognized dyssomnia. Narcolepsy is caused by certain variations in the HLA complex that are thought to increase the risk of auto-immune response to protein-producing neurons in the brain. The protein….
(Bob closes his eyes and begins to snore.)
DOCTOR: produced, called hypocretin or orexin, is responsible for controlling appetite and sleep patterns. Individuals with narcolepsy often have reduced numbers of these protein-producing neurons in the brains and….Bob you fell asleep. BOB!
(Bob stirs and regains consciousness.)
BOB: What’d you say?
DOCTOR: You don’t have narcolepsy.
BOB: Well, okay is there some kind of drug you can give me to make this stop?
DOCTOR: I’m afraid no drug is made that can cure boredom, and you’re already on medication for depression.
BOB: Motherfucker. That really blows. You know, what am I supposed to do? Just keep on falling asleep all throughout the day?
DOCTOR: Well, we can try cognitive-behavioral therapy.
BOB: You mean more of this shit?
DOCTOR: Well, yes, it is therapy, but it is also very different.
BOB: How so?
DOCTOR: Well, it consists of a psychotherapeutic approach that aims to influence dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and cognitions through goal-oriented and rather intense mentalistic activities….
(Bob begins snoring.)
DOCTOR: It aims to systematically desensitize the body in the aim of reducing stress or anxiety. We can do group sessions or one-on-one sessions. Bob?
(Bob continues snoring. Lights dim.)
ACT ONE-SCENE SIX
(A bedroom. The only light on the stage comes from the rising sun in the window behind the bed. In the bed lays BOB and ISABELLE. They are naked, but they are under the covers. Isabelle is sitting up smoking a cigarette.)
ISABELLE: This is fucked up.
ISABELLE: You know what I’m talking about.
(Isabelle continues to smoke while Bob takes the pillow and puts it over his head.)
ISABELLE: This is the first time in a long time that I’ve watched the sunrise. (Pause) Are you listening to me, Bob?
BOB: Yeah. Yeah.
ISABELLE: This is fucked up.
BOB: Yeah, I know.
ISABELLE: What are we doing? What do I even mean to you?
(Bob takes the pillow of his head and sits up in the bed as he scratches his eyes and messes with his hair.)
BOB: It’s early, honey.
ISABELLE: That’s how it always is whenever I want to talk about something important. It’s either too early or too late.
BOB: Ok, ok, well what’s the problem…I mean, I know what the problem is, but what is so important about it?
ISABELLE: You’re my cousin. And you’re married.
BOB: I mean, yeah. It’s a pretty fucked up situation we’re in. But think about, we’re victims of the times. If we had lived in the Middle Ages, fuck, we might have been an arranged marriage or something.
BOB: I mean, I’m not saying it makes this right, but I’m just saying.
ISABELLE: Just saying what? (Pause) Ok, fine. Say our blood ties don’t make this wrong. What about the fact that you’re married to a woman who would never do this to you.
BOB: Oh, c’mon what are we? We don’t go to church. Nowadays over 50% of marriages end in divorce. People are starting to realize that these things just don’t always work.
ISABELLE: So now the times we are living in are good because they’re more lenient and open-minded? I thought we were victims of the times?
BOB: Ahhh, I don’t know. Shut up. You always do that. You use my words against me and make me feel stupid.
(Bob reconvenes himself to the opposite side of the bed, and he takes the pillow and puts it back over his head.)
ISABELLE: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do…whatever.
(There is a pause for thirty seconds as Bob does not respond.)
ISABELLE: But we need to talk.
BOB: All I want to do is sleep.
ISABALLE: That’s the thing.
ISBALLE: When you’re with me all you want to do is sleep or fuck.
BOB: That’s not true……….We talk, and stuff. We watched an episode of Law and Order earlier.
ISABELLE: What do I mean to you?
BOB: I don’t know. I like you. I like being with you.
ISABELLE: I know you do.
BOB: What does that mean? What is wrong with someone enjoying your company?
ISABELLE: You enjoy it because I make you feel something that you don’t feel when you’re at home.
BOB: And what is that?
ISABELLE: I don’t know. Like a man. You feel as if Maria treats you like her long-time friend and not her man.
BOB: What do you mean? Like a man? Of course I feel like a man. I am a man. What the fuck is your problem?
ISABELLE: You know what my problem is. My problem is that I exist to you merely so that you can make yourself feel like a man.
BOB: You’re losing me, honey.
ISABELLE: Ok, why are you attracted to me?
BOB: I don’t know. What does that mean? I don’t know, it’s in my biology I guess.
ISABELLE: Your biology? So there is a gene in you that makes you specifically attracted to dark haired women who happen to be your cousin?
BOB: But you being my cousin has nothing to do with me liking you.
ISABELLE: But it does.
BOB: How so?
ISABELLE: Because if I wasn’t your cousin we never would have met.
(Bob scratches his eyes and sits up. He lets out a long sigh. Isabelle lights another cigarette.)
BOB: So if it doesn’t have to do with biology then what does it have to with?
ISABELLE: I don’t know. That’s what I’ve been thinking about for the past few hours while you’ve been sleeping. But the idea of biology having anything to do with us is absurd.
BOB: Well, you’ve been sitting here for so long thinking about it? What have you got to say about it?
ISABELLE: See that’s it. What is it?
BOB: My attraction to you. And your attraction to me.
ISABELLE: Ah, but they are two different things.
ISABELLE: Yes, there often seems to be that fleeting moment. And that is all it is—fleeting. Nothing permanent, perhaps nothing at all. Perhaps only our own desire to attach meaning to this sensation.
ISABELLE: I sucked your dick earlier tonight. And you huffed and puffed, and then eventually I blew your house down. So perhaps for a moment there was a feeling of control, on either of our parts, at some point tonight. But in the end, I just had a mouth full of cum.
BOB: So what are you saying? You’re losing me. You don’t want to give me blow jobs anymore? Because that’s fine, and—
ISABELLE: No, you’re completely missing my point.
BOB: Which is what?
ISABELLE: We’re not going to sleep together anymore.
BOB: What? I mean I knew you had to be leading to something. But that?
ISABELLE: Don’t you see, you’ll eventually become bored with me. You’re already becoming bored with me. You’re in what they call a mid-life crisis. You became bored with Maria long ago. And she probably became bored with you, too.
BOB: And what, you’re bored with me now?
ISABELLE: Now I’m perfectly infatuated with you. But I can see your desire slipping away, and so I want to end it first. Because eventually mine will slip away too, and then I will regret not having ended it sooner. I will see you become bored, and that will make me bored.
BOB: So that’s it?
ISABELLE: That’s it.
BOB: Fine. That’s it. We’re through. I’m ending this.
ISABELLE: You can’t do that. I just ended it. I said we’re not sleeping together again.
BOB: But you didn’t say it was over.
ISABELLE: Oh, it will never be over.
BOB: What does that mean?
ISABELLE: You won’t forget me.
BOB: Of course I won’t. You’re my cousin.
ISABELLE: And that’s why we’re not sleeping together anymore.
BOB: So it all has to do with you feeling like this is incest?
ISABELLE: I don’t feel it. I know it. And because I know it that is why I am ending it.
BOB: I thought you were ending it because I was getting bored with you and you were getting bored with me?
ISABELLE: Yes, that’s essentially it.
BOB: What if the entire human race acted like that? Ducking out on everything because they thought they would get bored with it eventually. We’d have no progress whatsoever.
BOB: And you’re willing to live with that?
ISABELLE: No. That’s why I’m breaking up with you.
(Isabelle gets up and begins dressing. Bob lights a cigar, and watches as Isabelle exits the stage. Curtains.)
ACT TWO-SCENE ONE
(A cold, snowy place. BOB and another man stand with rifles pointed at one female panda and two smaller pandas. A male panda sits handcuffed on his knees, facing the audience. Bob and the other man exchange some words in a hushed tone.)
BOB: No. No, I’m in charge here, and I make the rules…Okay, you listening you panda son of a bitch?
BOB: You better here me, because we have accurate information that you can understand English, and you’re not going to like what I’m about to tell you.
(More silence. More snow.)
BOB: We’re not in the jurisdiction of the law right now—
PANDA: (to the audience) Were we ever?
BOB: And so now you’ve got shit. No habeas corpus, nothing. You’re going to get a little taste of your own terrorist medicine?
PANDA: (to the audience) Hopefully it’s bamboo, we pandas like bamboo.
BOB: You kill civilians, we kill civilians.
PANDA: (to the audience) Aren’t we all civilians?
BOB: Still nothing to say, eh? Well, this is how it’s going to go: I am going to shoot one member of your family for each of the next three minutes unless you start giving me some answers.
PANDA: (to the audience) Why doesn’t this asshole just shoot me already, I mean that’s what he brought me here for, right?
(A shot is fired. The female panda falls to the ground.)
PANDA (to the audience) I heard the shot but I’m not dead? Is this perhaps what death feels like at first?
BOB: So your wife doesn’t matter as much as those secrets, does she? Well, we’ll give you another minute to decide a bit more.
PANDA: (to the audience) I hope my family doesn’t have to witness me dying. I hope they take them away.
(A minute passes.)
BOB: Okay, time for round two—
PANDA: Why can I still hear him talking? This doesn’t make any sense…wait, no wait, he didn’t kill one of my family did he? Oh that bastard, if he did, oh, if he did I’m gonna kill him.
BOB: Last chance….
(A second shot is fired. There is silence for about thirty seconds. Then the panda begins struggling around and turns towards the scene of the massacre, and begins roaring.)
BOB: Well, there you have it. We finally got a reaction out of him. Too bad he had too lose two of his family members.
(A few seconds pass. The panda roars again.)
BOB: Roar away, roar away, but we still need answers from you.
BOB: Okay, that’s it. This is the end of your bloodline here. No more ugly pandas from your breed. And, oh yeah, I’m not going to kill you, but I will make you sit here and watch the last of your family die.
BOB: Ok, that’s it, I’m done with this.
(He fires a third shot at the final panda. The roaring stops.)
BOB: Ok, shoot him in the leg, so he can’t make it back to civilization but we don’t need to kill him. We have enough blood on your hands.
OTHER MAN: You mean, on your hands.
BOB: I did what had to be done, and I’d do it again one hundred times. They’re animals, they don’t play by our rules.
OTHER MAN: And what rules are those?
BOB: I—I don’t really know anymore. And I’m sorry to you for that.
(The lights dim.)
ACT TWO-SCENE TWO
(Bob sits in the same doctor’s office as before, but the lights seem a bit brighter. DOCTOR GRANT sits behind his desk scribbling away for several minutes, and then eventually he looks up and addresses BOB.)
DOCTOR: Hello, Bob.
DOCTOR: How have you been?
BOB: Pretty shitty.
DOCTOR: How so?
BOB: I’ve been feeling pretty miserable as of late.
(DOCTOR GRANT begins scribbling again, and then he looks back up at BOB.)
DOCTOR: So you’re feeling depressed?
BOB: Aren’t you the one who’s supposed to diagnose me and tell me that?
BOB: It just feels like nothing matters.
DOCTOR: Is that something you think about a lot?
BOB: No, because it doesn’t matter.
DOCTOR: How has your sleeping been since we talked last month?
BOB: Well, I’m not sleeping during the day too much anymore. I can pretty much get through a day at work without constantly dozing off.
DOCTOR: Well, that’s an improvement.
BOB: Yeah, but now I’m having trouble falling asleep at night, which is when I’m supposed to sleep.
DOCTOR: How many hours have you been sleeping on average?
BOB: It’s hard to say.
DOCTOR: What do you mean?
BOB: Well, there’s those oh-so-precious two or three hours of sleep every night, but before and after that there’s these long stretches of time where I’m not really awake but not really asleep either.
DOCTOR: I don’t fully understand. So you’re somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness?
BOB: Yeah, I guess. My brain shuts down, I cannot having any meaningful thoughts, but I just lie there, eyes open, staring at the ceiling.
DOCTOR: So, perhaps you’re restless?
BOB: I don’t know if I would describe it like that, but maybe, yeah.
DOCTOR: Has there been any big changes in your life recently? How are things with you and Maria?
BOB: I think that after seventeen years things are starting to finally wind down.
DOCTOR: What do you mean?
BOB: For the past couple years I had been afraid that I would have to wait out our relationship until one of us died, but the past few months I’ve been sensing that we’re both ready to move on to new lives.
DOCTOR: So you want to start a new life, with fresh, clean slate?
BOB: More or less.
DOCTOR: But don’t you realize that even if you move thousands of miles away and change you name and dye your hair, your life will still be the same as it was yesterday? You can change your life, but you can’t start a new one. Running away from your problems is not the answer.
BOB: You sound like a preacher.
DOCTOR: Perhaps, but I don’t believe in God.
BOB: What do you believe in?
DOCTOR: That’s really inconsequential. What is more important is what you believe in.
BOB: But you injected your own opinions into our conversation, so—
DOCTOR: I apologize. Let’s talk about you. So things with Maria haven’t improved at all, really, but how are things with your cousin? What’s her name?
DOCTOR: Yes, her. How are things with Isabelle?
BOB: She says she doesn’t want to sleep with me anymore.
DOCTOR: And do you still want to sleep with her?
BOB: I did before she said told me that.
DOCTOR: And now?
BOB: Now she completely repulses me.
DOCTOR: Why is that?
BOB: Because if she no longer feels a connection to me, then she can go fuck herself.
DOCTOR: That’s reasonable.
BOB: How is that reasonable? No one should ever have to go fuck themselves. Except for the pandas. They can go fuck themselves.
DOCTOR: I wasn’t saying that she should literally have to fuck herself. I was trying to express that the emotion behind what you said is merited.
BOB: Oh. Well….thanks.
DOCTOR: You’re welcome.
BOB: So where do I go from here?
DOCTOR: You should consider what there is in your life that could help you find happiness and contentment. Just because your marriage is falling apart and your mistress is done sleeping with you doesn’t mean that you can’t still find meaning in your life?
BOB: What does that mean? That I need to go find another woman to sleep with? Maybe I’m gay.
DOCTOR: No, that’s not what I mean at all. Sexual pleasure is just another form of animal happiness and contentment. You need to find a way that you can have human happiness and contentment.
BOB: I’m still not following you.
DOCTOR: Your desire to find sexual pleasure will inevitably always lead you to a fleeting form of happiness. Sexual pleasure cannot last forever. It’s like a potent drug or apple pie a la mode. Or even the adrenaline you feel when you’re chasing down bad guys at your job. They only give you temporary pleasure. You need to find a way to achieve lasting pleasure.
BOB: But is there even such a thing as lasting pleasure? Isn’t everyone just searching for the same things that I am searching for?
DOCTOR: Yes, to some extent or another, but the circumstances are different.
BOB: How so?
DOCTOR: You’re depressed.
BOB: And, so?
DOCTOR: While others can go somewhat blindly through their life living off temporary pleasures, you are at somewhat of a crossroads because you are beginning to realize that such temporary, animal pleasures are not giving you the fulfillment you wish for in life.
BOB: You mean I’m depressed.
DOCTOR: Not just depressed. Also, restless. Anxious. Anxious about where your life is going.
BOB: So that may be why I’m now having trouble sleeping at night?
DOCTOR: Yes, perhaps.
BOB: So where do I go from here?
DOCTOR: I’m afraid I don’t have all the answers.
BOB: Well, what do you suggest I do?
DOCTOR: Go talk to those close to you. I am someone to talk about these things with, but we’re not close in the same way that you are close to your wife. Talk to Maria. Talk to your cousin. Talk to yourself. Try to figure out what you’ve done to get where are now, and that will help you go forwards in a direction that will satisfy you.
BOB: Thanks, doc. This was actually a rather helpful sessions, not bullshit at all.
DOCTOR: Ha. Well I’m glad I could help. Just go up to the front desk now, and my secretary will set up your next appointment.
(The lights dim on BOB and DOCTOR GRANT.)
ACT TWO-SCENE THREE
(When the lights revive we are in a coffee shop. DONALD and MARIA sit at a table, while people at the couple other tables seem to be involved in conversations. DONALD takes a sip of his coffee.)
MARIA: This needs to stop.
DONALD: Drinking coffee? Yes, God knows we all drink too much caffeine.
DONALD: I’m sorry, my joke was in vain.
MARIA: I just need this to stop.
DONALD: But you don’t want it to stop.
MARIA: Well, perhaps…no. But our needs come before our wants.
DONALD: Why do you need this to stop? Because of that fool husband of yours?
MARIA: Well, yes. Partially.
DONALD: But you say he doesn’t even seem that interested in you anymore. And you obviously are losing interest in me.
MARIA: That doesn’t give me the right to ruin a marriage.
DONALD: Even if the marriage is falling apart?
MARIA: I don’t know. I just could never tell him.
MARIA: You don’t know him like I do. He might put on an appearance as being a tough government agent, but he’s actually very fragile.
DONALD: Such is life.
MARIA: Was that another joke?
MARIA: Well, what the hell was it then?
DONALD: A comment.
MARIA: On what?
DONALD: Life. Life is very fragile.
DONALD: Well, what do you suggest we do?
MARIA: I don’t know, but I need this to stop.
DONALD: I could tell him.
MARIA: Was that another joke?
DONALD: I’m not sure.
DONALD: Why do you use the word “need”? Why not just say you “want” this to stop?
MARIA: Because I want to continue sleeping with you, but I need to have moral clarity in my life?
DONALD: Moral clarity. That’s an interesting phrase.
MARIA: I guess.
DONALD: So you feel that what are doing is bad?
MARIA: It’s not so much that it’s good or bad, it’s more that it is both.
DONALD: Well, I’m not going to leave you. I need you.
MARIA: No, you want me.
DONALD: But isn’t there a grey area between what we need and what we want?
MARIA: Maybe, but living forever in a grey area won’t give me moral clarity.
DONALD: So what do you suggest we do?
MARIA: I don’t know. I think I’m going to have to have a blunt conversation with Bob about our marriage.
DONALD: Will you mention me?
MARIA: I don’t know.
DONALD: So when will I see you again?
MARIA: I’ll call you, probably sometime next week.
DONALD: You can’t leave me Maria. We’re building something meaningful.
MARIA: Maybe, but right now I just want to have some time to think about things.
(MARIA gets up and DONALD follows suit. He leans over and kisses her, as MARIA looks nervously towards the audience, afraid that someone will see her. The lights dim.)
ACT TWO-SCENE FOUR
(The lights revive to a suburban park. BOB and ISABELLE sit on a bench. ISABELLE is smoking a cigarette.)
ISABELLE: Well, Bob, now that we’ve both said “Hello, how are you, how have you been?” what is it that you wanted to talk to me about?
BOB: I just wanted to see you.
ISABELLE: I thought I made it clear last time that we wouldn’t be seeing each other anymore.
BOB: We can’t just be friends?
ISABELLE: We could, but that’s not what would end up happening.
BOB: What would end up happening.
ISABELLE: You would your arm around, and I would sit stiffly wondering what you were doing. Then you would lay your head on my breast, and I would have to push you off.
BOB: Do you really have such a cynical view of human nature?
ISABELLE: I only have my own view, which is drawn from my own human nature.
BOB: And what is that view?
ISABELLE: That we must resist our animal urges when our reason screams loudly that we are devolving.
BOB: I think I just had a déjà vu.
ISABELLE: What do you mean?
ISABELLE: Ok, whatever.
BOB: I’m bored.
ISABELLE: And I’m supposed to help you out of your boredom?
BOB: No, that’s not what you said.
ISABELLE: No, but it’s what you were implying.
BOB: So we can’t sleep together again? Not even just once?
ISABELLE: We both know that’s not going to happen.
BOB: Yeah, I guess.
ISABELLE: See, you know deep down that it can’t go on. You need an ethical grounding in your life, a sense of responsibility. You can’t go on lying to a woman who’s been married to you for seventeen years.
BOB: Yeah, I know. But what if I was up front with her and told her all about us?
ISABELLE: Then I would never speak to you again. I don’t want to end your marriage.
BOB: And if I don’t tell her about us?
ISABELLE: I still am not going to talk you ever again. It’s just not healthy for either of us.
(ISABELLE stands up, stomps out her cigarette, nods her head, and walks away, leaving BOB sitting by himself on the bench.)
ACT TWO-SCENE FIVE
(BOB and MARIA sit in their living room. Onto the backdrop of the stage plays CNN, which they are both watching. They sit on opposite ends of the couch.)
BOB: I think we’re going to win the war.
MARIA: Do you?
BOB: I mean, we’ve captured several of their most important leaders.
MARIA: So when will the war actually be over?
BOB: Oh, I don’t know. It could go on forever.
MARIA: So you guys are at the same place today that you were yesterday.
BOB: Yes, but we’re making progress.
MARIA: But what is progress if nothing ever comes to an end?
BOB: Well, are you expecting progress or are you expecting the end?
MARIA: I’m not expecting anything. Nothing will ever lead to anything.
BOB: Yeah. Maybe.
MARIA: What do you want to do with our marriage?
BOB: What do you mean?
MARIA: I mean do you think it can progress any further, or do you think we’ve reached a standstill?
BOB: I don’t know. I’m definitely not standing. I’m sitting.
MARIA: So you’re content with things as they are?
BOB: Far from it. I want something new.
MARIA: Me too.
BOB: But I don’t have any prospects for anything new.
MARIA: I do.
BOB: What? What do you mean?
MARIA: I think I have prospects for a new life if I leave this marriage.
BOB: You’ve met someone.
MARIA: Not someone, as much as it is something
BOB: Who have you met?
BOB: You’ve met someone who can give you the pleasure that I obviously can no longer give you?
BOB: May I ask whom?
MARIA: Does it matter?
BOB: Not particularly, but I’d still like to know.
MARIA: It’s Bob, my friend from college.
BOB: That guy? Now that is kind of a surprise.
MARIA: But is this conversation in general a surprise?
MARIA: So you understand what I’m talking about?
BOB: Yeah, I get it.
MARIA: So you’re not offended?
BOB: No, I’m completely offended.
MARIA: But you can understand where I’m coming from?
BOB: Well, yes. I just didn’t expect it. I expected things to come out a different way.
MARIA: What do you mean?
BOB: I don’t want to talk about it.
MARIA: Hmm…okay. But are you ready to put an end to our relationship?
BOB: I mean, it’s been seventeen years.
BOB: Yeah, I’m over it. We need to move on in our lives. There’s nothing left that we can do.
MARIA: I’m glad we’re on the same page.
BOB: I am on a page, but it is my own page, and I’m writing it.
MARIA: So you’re ready to break free of this marriage we’re both stuck in?
BOB: Yes, but why would you want to be with the stuck up asshole Don?
MARIA: I might not want to be with him. He might just be a temporary pleasure.
BOB: And was I?
MARIA: No, no, not at all. I was completely happy with you for over a decade. I think that’s a long time. But do we really want to sit here, discontent, waiting for one of us to die.
BOB: I sure don’t.
MARIA: And neither do I.
BOB: So this is where we amicably agree that our marriage is over?
MARIA: I think that would be best for both of us.
BOB: There’s still a part of me that loves.
MARIA: I feel the same way.
BOB: But it just can’t go on. We can’t keep clinging to something that is slipping through our fingers.
MARIA: I’m really glad that you’re able to be so up front about all of this.
BOB: I’m glad that you had the balls to say it’s over, because I sure never would have had the balls to just come out and say it.
MARIA: So this is good?
BOB: Yes, I mean I had no idea that you were sleeping with that douchebag, but I understand where your interests lie.
MARIA: Do you mean “lie” as in I’m not telling the truth, or “lie” as in I’m sitting in this spot feeling completely content?
BOB: Both, at the same time.
BOB: So should I sleep on the couch for now on, until the divorce proceedings go through?
MARIA: I mean, I want to sleep in the bed, but you can sleep there too, as long as you don’t make any attempts to revive something that we both know is not going to work.
BOB: You mean, temporary pleasure?
BOB: Then I completely agree.
MARIA: Well then, I’m going to go upstairs and try to sleep, and you should come up when you feel you are about to fall asleep.
BOB: Okay. That might be soon.
MARIA: You haven’t be sleeping to well lately, have you?
BOB: No….I’ve been restless.
MARIA: Well, even though we’re no longer really married, I still hope that you and I can still talk about this stuff.
BOB: We can, I just don’t really know what to say.
MARIA: The pandas are getting their asses kicked.
BOB: Yeah, I know. I’ve been working hard to help the cause.
MARIA: And do you find that fulfilling?
BOB: I don’t know anymore.
MARIA: Well, I hope you can eventually find something fulfilling. Good night, Bob.
(She leans over and kisses BOB, and leaves the room. BOB sits watching the CNN coverage of the war against pandas as the lights dim.)
ACT TWO-SCENE SIX
(Back at DOCTOR GRANT’s office. He is scribbling away for several minutes as usual then he stops and looks up at BOB.)
BOB: Things just aren’t going how I had planned.
DOCTOR: Planned or hoped?
DOCTOR: How so?
BOB: Well, I did what you said, and I tried talking to both Maria and Isabelle.
BOB: I probably won’t say much to either of them again.
DOCTOR: Oh, really? I’m sorry.
BOB: Yeah, it’s okay. They both were dead ends anyways. Good advice though.
DOCTOR: I sense unrest.
BOB: How is one not supposed to feel unrest when they are stuck in an empty glass? Perhaps not even empty—perhaps it’s void. I don’t even know what I’m talking about. I don’t know anything anymore. Here I am, chasing one thing after another, be it a person or a panda, and it all leads to nothing it seems.
DOCTOR: You need to find ways to produce meaning and fulfillment in your life.
BOB: Yeah, that’s what you said last time. It hasn’t been working. The game is rigged. I’m not trying to make excuses, I’m just saying the game is rigged. I’m willing to live with it….but that doesn’t mean it isn’t rigged.
DOCTOR: In what way is the “game” rigged?
BOB: It’s forcing be to become withdrawn. Isolated. And I hate it, and it makes me everything. I feel like I share nothing with no one and have no connection to any real person. Except you but you’re not real.
DOCTOR: I mean. I can only reflect back what I hear. And what is hear is you.
BOB: So reflect something I can use back to me.
DOCTOR: You need to go find a way to find meaning and fulfillment in your life?
BOB: You keep telling me this shit about meaning and fulfillment, why don’t you tell me something meaningful and fulfilling?
DOCTOR: What do you mean?
BOB: I mean give me something that comes from your heart. Something that is not abstract and general. Stop acting like a robot.
DOCTOR: I cannot reference myself here, Bob.
BOB: Oh right, it’s all about me.
BOB: I see…
(BOB slowly gets up out of his chair.)
DOCTOR: Bob, where are you going, we still have fifteen minutes.
BOB: Yeah, but I already paid you.
DOCTOR: Yes, but I cannot reference myself here, Bob.
BOB: Oh, right it’s all about….
(BOB lifts up his chair and prepares to swing it at DOCTOR GRANT.)
(BOB slams the chair into the doctor’s head twice repeatedly. Sparks begin to fly out of doctor’s head and wires begin popping out of it, too. BOB retreats backwards away from the automaton’s wobbling body.
BOB: Holy shit!
(He then rushes back forward, striking the automaton’s entire head off and then striking it again as it falls to the floor. He bends down and looks more closely at it. Then he retreats again.)
BOB: My therapist! Dead. But can he really die? Can a machine, is that what he was, really die? Did I just commit murder?
(BOB looks around the room aimlessly but frantically.)
BOB: I can say it was a crime of passion, that this man-machine, whatever it is, is now it’s done. There can be no turning back from this now...but what did I actually just do? Did I kill another living breathing thinking being, or did I merely break a machine? For people break watches everyday, and they hardly get twenty-five to life…no, what I did hear was rational, I put my faith in this machine and it proved to be a farce. Who wouldn’t want to kill a farce? So nothing has been done wrong here, everything’s rational and okay? (Pause.) Come to think of it, even if this robot had been a human it would have been rational to kill him, because he was interfering with my life. Like a panda spy, sent to pretend to be a prisoner only to give false information. Everyone like this man—thing—should be killed that’s all there is to it…or perhaps not, perhaps I still have no idea what is going on, for I surely don’t know what I am talking about.
(BOB exits stage right.)
ACT TWO-SCENE SEVEN
(The reception area of terminated Doctor Grant. Bob walks in from stage left. A secretary, female of course, sits at a desk behind a counter, and a slightly plump but pretty woman sits in a chair in the waiting room.)
SECRETARY: Mr. Dorff? Don’t you still have ten or so minutes left in your session?
BOB: Yes, well, I’m afraid our patient-doctor relationship has finally come to an end.
SECRETARY: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Medical Group tries to provide the best care to all its patients. Was it a fault of ours that is causing you to leave?
BOB: Yes, perhaps. It might also have a lot to do with me.
SECRETARY: Ah, I’m sorry to hear that.
BOB: But it might also have something to do with your machines.
SECRETARY: Oh, have you not been getting your bills on time?
BOB: No, I mean how you’re all machines.
SECRETARY: Me? What do you mean?
BOB: You’re a machine.
SECRETARY: I don’t know what you mean, and I’m not permitted to discuss myself and my personal matters with patients.
BOB: Fuck you!
(BOB grabs a pen that is supposed to be used to sign in and shoves it into the secretary’s eye, which explodes, and her body begins to shake.)
PLUMP WOMAN: What did you just do to her!?!?
(She stands up and looks at the secretary and then an even greater look of terror comes over her face.)
BOB: The better question is: what did I just do to it?
PLUMP WOMAN: Yes, obviously. And the doctor, too?
BOB: Yes. And you?
PLUMP WOMAN: What? You mean, am I a robot?
BOB: Yes, quite so.
(BOB edges towards the woman with the pen held as a dagger.)
PLUMP WOMAN: Wait! Stop!
(She pulls out a keychain and slashes one of the keys across her wrist. Blood begins to drip onto the floor.)
PLUMP WOMAN: See? Blood. That mean’s I’m human. Like you.
BOB: I guess it does. Only humans can bleed.
PLUMP WOMAN: So the only two people we both know to be humans are you and me?
BOB: If you are going to believe that I’m a human.
PLUMP WOMAN: WHAT!?!?!?
BOB: It was a joke. Very crude joke. Considering the circumstances, my apologies.
PLUMP WOMAN: So we have a bit of a crisis I guess?
PLUMP WOMAN: I mean we’re the only ones we know are humans—
BOB: Except for all the people we’ve had sex with, which for me is one. Robots can’t have sex. So, I know my cousin isn’t a robot.
PLUMP WOMAN: Your—
BOB: Long story. But it still might not be a crisis. The only robots we have encountered thus far have meant us no harm.
PLUMP WOMAN: But what are we to do? Go around pretending that we don’t know that human-like robots exist?
BOB: Exactly. You and I should stick together, and find solace in each other. No one has to know any of this happened.
PLUMP WOMAN: You and me, stick together? We don’t even know each other.
BOB: But we do now. And we know something no one else knows.
PLUMP WOMAN: I guess. But—
BOB: And I always had something for girls who have a little—
(He points to her chest and leans over and kisses her.)
PLUMP WOMAN: Do you?
BOB: I mean, I would never admit it to my friends, but…
(He wraps his arm around her and begins kissing her, and she follows suit. They fall on the ground and begin taking off their clothes while edging their way across the ground and off the stage. The lights dim.)
ACT TWO-SCENE EIGHT
(BOB and the pretty but slightly PLUMP WOMAN sit in an apartment watching images on a projection screen of toy commercials.)
PLUMP WOMAN: I really miss being young. Playing with toys.
BOB: Much less complicated, that’s for sure.
PLUMP WOMAN: I don’t think I knew what evil was when I was young.
BOB: Do you now?
PLUMP WOMAN: No, it probably doesn’t actually exist as we’re brought up to believe.
BOB: Yeah, it’s within us all, but it’s outside us as well.
PLUMP WOMAN: Like whoever created those robots, they must be evil right?
BOB: I don’t know, I’m sure they meant us no harm.
PLUMP WOMAN: Yes, but unintentional harm can still ruin lives.
BOB: I once killed a man.
PLUMP WOMAN: Did you feel evil in doing that?
BOB: No, I felt nothing.
PLUMP WOMAN: Nothing?
BOB: Nothing significant. Perhaps a little regret that it was so insignifcant.
PLUMP WOMAN: To you, you mean?
(They sit in silence for several more minutes watching toy commercials. Through a window by the T.V. screen a panda bear appears. They do not notice him. After another minute or so the panda bear busts through the window. He has a cast on his leg and a gun in his hand.)
BOB: Hey, what is this?
PANDA: I’m here for revenge.
BOB: What are you talking about?
PANDA: My family.
BOB: I thought you couldn’t speak English?
PANDA: I can’t but you can still understand me.
BOB: (turns to the plump woman) Can you?
(The plump woman looks at each of them with bewilderment. The panda shoots BOB twice in the chest and then once in the head. Then he turns to plump woman.)
PANDA BEAR: (turning to audience) She must be his wife? Well, he killed mine, so I might as well kill his.
(The panda shoots her once in each leg and then stands there for a minute as she screams and then he shoots her in the head. He stands over the corpses with his smoking gun, and then sits down on a chair and watches the toy commercials. Curtains.)
NOTES ON THE PLAY WRITTEN AFTER THE PLAY, AND THIS MIGHT RUIN EVERYTHING SO BE ADVISED READER:
-This play was meant to be a tragicomedy. I don’t really know what that word means, but I know that I like it. I guess I wanted it to be funny while still holding the basic tenets of a tragedy. The irony of the first scene in Act I seems to be purely comedic, but it foreshadows the tragic irony of the first scene of Act II. Tragic flaws that cross over among the male characters are the thirst for violence, the need for superiority, and the greatest tragic flaw: hubris (which I define as excessive pride). Tragic flaws that are apparent in both males and females are the lack of responsibility, the general carelessness, and probably the superiority complex and the hubris apply to some characters of each gender as well.
-In assessing it as a tragedy, as I was writing it I was thinking about concepts from various thinkers such as Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Jaspers, Brecht etc., but I’m really just saying all their names so I sound smart. Also, Aristotle, I don’t know if this would be a non-Aristolean tragedy or not. Perhaps it’s not a tragedy at all, but rather just a play I wrote (most likely the latter). But the main one that I reflected about as I wrote was the four key characters of tragedies according to Northrop Frye (whom I find rather boring), but they are: eiron, alazon, suppliant, and plain dealer. The alazon is the main character and the tragic hero, and in this play that is obviously Bob. His most tragic act is probably when he kills the family of pandas, but it obviously doesn’t help his cause that he having an affair with his cousin and generally leading a dissolute life, but I also wanted him to be someone that could be empathized with to an extent. The eiron is the second main character and is defined as “the source of nemesis”, which is not always “bad” but is this one is more difficult it could either be Donald or it could be the panda bears, as I was writing I was thinking more of it as Donald but now that I am done I can see how the pandas, but this is all working well outside the realm of Frye’s definition, which refers to “high mimetic tragedy”, which is a superfluous term I don’t wish to expound on. The suppliant is defined as “the character, often female, who presents a picture of unmitigated helplessness and destitution. Prime examples of this would be Desdemona or Ophelia, but for my play it would probably be either Maria or the plump woman. The final character is the plain dealer who is “refusing, or resisting, the tragic movement toward catastrophe.” This is obviously Isabelle, she resists everything, although Maria could possibly fit this role as well. But , in the end, Northrop Frye didn’t really interest me too much in writing my play, I just wanted to see if it fit his standards, which it may not.
-The panda bears and what do they represent? As I was writing I would occasionally think of them as metaphorical or symbolic of America’s terrible records towards either blacks or Arabs. But really they were just an experiment, a what if, if you may. What if pandas were more intelligent and were at odds with humans? Also, I thought a lot more about factory farming and endangered species than I did about segregation or the war on terrorism. Sometimes. Take them as what you will. Take the whole play as what you will.