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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Statement of Intent


I have a job. Like a nine-to-five, badge-in, PTO-accruing, health/dental/holidays-type job. I pore over availability in Outlook before sending meeting invites. I follow up the meetings with detailed action items and due dates. I wear a button-down (up?) shirt and slacks every day, the pair of jeans in my top drawer reserved for the weekends when I am at the park with the boys or (less frequently) at some after-hours social event. The job that supports my family is Not Writer, yet when people ask me what I do I say, I am a playwright.

The most disheartening aspect of spending the majority of my life in the workforce is that I realize just how little I have in common with the rest of the world. What did you do this weekend, a colleague asks. I went to a play, I say. What play, she asks. A reading of a new work by a friend of mine, I say. Oh, she responds. Interesting….

It’s not that there is anything wrong with the people with whom I work. I like my job, actually. I like it a lot. I like the people even more. But they are not my people. They are not my tribe, to use a line that I do not particularly like but that feels like it should come next.

So you ask about “engag[ing] with a community of writers,” and I have to tamp down the part of me that says Are you kidding? I’m on a train at eight, back home at six, where I squeeze in whatever quality time I can with the family, before settling into my second job at ten, the one that doesn’t appear on my W-2 but that I nonetheless claim during those weekend conversations, and I write and rewrite and print and three-hole punch, and troll for other opportunities while resisting the urge to follow-up with the ones I haven’t heard back from (You haven’t read it, yet?).

This is my life, and you’re going to make me make a case?

But…. But you don’t know me, which I guess is the point, so you have to ask the question, and I have to answer. I understand. Which, I suppose, is the short version of my response: I understand. I understand that, considered against the rest of the world, there are very few of us out theretheater artists, that is, and playwrights, fewer still. I understand the value of having a room of one’s own when I need it. I understand the driving force of a guaranteed reading at the end of a draft (!). And I understand that a whole bunch of people who are not playwrights but who are still passionate about new plays make opportunities happen. Most of all, I understand that when writers are not writers they are audience members, and that part of being a member of a community is recognizing what you can give rather than sizing up what you can take. I understand community. I want to be part of yours.

But I also hate these things. These statements. I really do. What do you think is the artist’s role in society? Who are your influences and how do they shape your work? How is this play representative of your aesthetic? Make sure your response is no more than one, double-spaced typed page. It’s in the work, I want to shout. Just look at the work.

But, like I said, I understand. I get it. I’m a playwright. It’s part of my job.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pass the Mic: RIP MCA


NOTE:  This originally appeared on PopMatters, so click here if you want to see it all gussied up.  Otherwise, read below. 


My mom was admitted to the hospital on the day that MCA announced he had cancer.  I’m tempted to say that it was nothing serious, but did I mention that she was admitted to the hospital?  She had been sick for a week, but she felt like she was on the mend.  Her appointment with her doctor that morning was supposed to be a check-in.  I live in New York, she in Missouri.  When I spoke to her on the phone, she was going through the admissions process.  She said, “I’m OK, Kirb.  Don’t worry about me.  Gotta go”.  And she hung up.

An hour later I received an email from BeastieBoys.com.  The subject read, “HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM”.  The body said, “hey all, there’s been a change in plans.  please click this link to see a statement from me.  thanks, yauch”.  I clicked the link.  There was MCA, sitting to the left of a bearded Ad Rock.  It took me a minute to identify Ad Rock.  In the video, they are in a studio, but in front of the soundboard rather than behind it.  Something seems amiss from the beginning.  They aren’t clowning.  “OK.  Um.  So”, they start.  Then they laugh.  “It’s not funny”.  “It’s not”.  MCA starts by preparing us for “some pretty heavy news”.  They have to cancel their upcoming shows, delay the release of their new album.  But that’s not the heavy part.  The heavy part is that two months ago he felt a lump in his neck, MCA did.  Thought nothing of it.  A swollen gland like when you have a cold.  But it persisted, so he had it checked out.  Turns out it’s a form of cancer in a gland over here….  He points with his index finger just below his left ear.  He’ll have surgery the following week, radiation treatment to follow.  But it’s localized, not in the rest of his body.  They checked.  His voice should be fine.  Ad Rock keeps his head bowed during most of the announcement, pipes in with a “that’s good” at the part about his voice.  Ad Rock says that Yauch didn’t tell him why he was coming down and that he’s usually dressed real tight.  “It’s a little bit of a setback and a pain in the ass”, MCA says.  And to all of you who were looking forward to seeing us this summer, “I apologize”.

I was at work.  I sent the link to my friend Mike.  I said, “Everything about this is weird”.

Then I IM’d my wife:  “This day is not going very well”.

*****

There’s a version of this discussion that says I was more moved by MCA’s announcement than I was about my mom being admitted to the hospital.  The Beastie Boys are more like family to me than my own family and that kind of thing.  But don’t worry.  This is not that conversation.  Line up my mother and Adam Yauch and tell me to choose and that’s no choice at all.  If the situation were reversed, he’d do the same.  You would too.  You should.

This is more about the surprise I felt when an hour after my heart ached for my own mother it ached again in a similar way for someone whom I have never actually met.  So I’ve spent days probably months listening to his music.  So what?  This gives me the right?  The short answer is “Yes.  Yes, it does”.

I admit the distinction is fine, but it’s the difference between knowing how important someone is in your life and realizing it.

The real surprise is that I was surprised at all.  When I was 12 years old, I stepped into Blue Meanie Records in El Cajon, California.  I’ve known the importance of pop culture in my life since that day.  It’s why I’ve spent a lifetime underlining passages in books, insisting that an album’s first listen is uninterrupted, and crying during the movie when I know how it’s going to end.

But my reaction to MCA felt different.  In those other instances, the emotion is inspired by a phrase, a tune, an image, and in many cases all three.  It’s a goddamned conspiracy of influences, and it’s no wonder I respond the way I do.  I can’t help it.

With MCA, though, it was so stripped down, so emotionally open.  There were no production values; there was no manipulation; he didn’t hide behind a press release. 

It was one take.  Lights up, lights down.

With MCA it felt personal.  Just me and his millions of fans.

*****

The Beastie Boys have long been a fan-friendly act.  The Criterion release of a DVD of their greatest video hits (through <i>Hello, Nasty</i>) includes enough goodies to more than justify the $29.95 sticker price.  Their Web site maintains a truly communal space, one that not only connects fans but also encourages them to create and share remixes of their favorite songs.  They recently released two free audio recordings of them listening and commenting on <i>Paul’s Boutique</i> and <i>Check Your Head</i> (think of them as kind of DVD commentary tracks for CD’s or I guess now MP3’s). 

Of course, their most famous and ambitious foray into fan involvement occurred when they distributed cameras to 50 lucky fans and asked them to film their triumphant concert at Madison Square Garden in 2006.  The result was a feature-length concert film, <i>Awesome, I Fucking Shot That</i>, which was ostensibly “directed” by “Nathan Hornblower”, AKA MCA, AKA Adam Yauch.

In recent years, their relationship with their fans has been conducted primarily over electronic mail.  They’ll send out information about upcoming (re)releases or presales for shows.  Granted, email is tricky.  A name like “Nine Inch Nails” or “The Strokes” under the “sender” column doesn’t necessarily mean that you are corresponding with Nine Inch Nails or The Strokes.  In all likelihood, you are corresponding with their representatives.  Not so with “BeastieBoys.com”, or at least I think not so.  The emails from BeastieBoys.com feel authentic.  I would come home from work and say to my wife, “Guess who I got an email from today?”  She’d say, “Who?”  I’d say, “The Beastie Boys”.  She’d say, “Yeah, right.  And I got an evite from Eminem”.  I’d say, “I’m serious”. 

Yauch seems to be more involved than the others with these messages, probably because he has more to plug.  He’ll see a movie like <i>The 11th Hour</i> and then send out a message urging everyone else to go.  Or he’ll remind us all to see <i>Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot</i>, a movie he directed about high-school basketball players and their spot in the NBA draft.  In fact, the message about <i>Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot</i> was one of his more memorable missives.  Tell me this isn’t Yauch himself:  this friday i'll be at a couple of the screenings at the AMC Loews Village 7 to do Q and A's, so if yr into that kind of [sic], thing, come and hang out with me. and if you are one of those turrets people that screams out things at a Q and A like ‘i love you dude, remember when we smoked a bowl up on the roof of the defjam building?’ that's ok too. see you there!”

At the beginning of the summer they sent out a message that outlined their five-point plan for world domination.  It included a reissue of <i>Ill Communication</i>; festival shows at Bonnaroo, All Points West, Lollapalooza, and Outside Lands; the release of their new album, <i>Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1</i>; and a culminating concert in September at the Hollywood Bowl.  A subsequent email suggested that the plan was well under way.  It was the Summer of the Beastie Boys.

Then, on July 20th, 12:12 PM:  “HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM”.

*****

I’ve had the opportunity (and fortunately the money) to see the Beastie Boys four times in the past two maybe three years.  For a band whose individual members are pretty much indistinguishable from one another in the public consciousness, I’m amazed at how their distinct personalities emerge onstage.

Ad Rock is clearly the leader of the band; he plays guitar when they switch to their instruments.  Mike D and his ‘fro bouncing behind the drum kit are by far the coolest of the three.  And MCA watches his fingers when he plays bass.  He’s the least ostentatious.  With his salt and pepper hair (mainly salt) he looks like the oldest of the three (which is just as well because he is).  Just like Dylan’s voice shot itself out sometime before <i>Time Out of Mind</i> (and many would say long before), MCA’s voice went before they recorded <i>To the 5 Boroughs</i>.  But like Dylan, he uses it to great effect.  He features rather than hides that raspiness.  It’s a perfect complement to Ad Rock’s nasal and Mike D’s bravado flows.

When MCA takes the mic, he’s low the ground, his arms loose at the elbows and the wrists.  He looks like he’s perpetually on the verge of falling down.  A standing-eight count.  Yet he keeps on going.

*****

At All Points West, Jay-Z filled in for the Beastie Boys as the headliner.  I had a hunch that he might throw an homage their way.  He did not disappoint. 

He and his full band opened with “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn”.  He didn’t even change the lyrics.  “Born and bred Brooklyn in the USA”, he rapped.   “They call me Adam Yauch but I’m MCA”. 

I wasn’t there.  I sought it out the following morning.  The YouTube clip is grainy as shit.  It gave me chills.

*****

Here’s what I know I know about MCA:  He likes Bad Brains and the Knicks, he supports a Free Tibet, and he’s got no love for George W. Bush.

Here’s what I think I know about MCA:  I think he had a traditional Buddhist wedding, complete with a parade down the streets of Brooklyn.  I think he stopped doing drugs.  I think am pretty sure that I used to see him in Soho when I was walking from my apartment in Chelsea to my job in the Financial District.  He had a beard, a longboard, and a kid.  I saw him at the same place every morning.  I figured his kid went to school somewhere around there and that he walked him/her to school and then skated home.  We made eye contact once.  The eye contact said, Yeah, I’m who you think I am.  Or so I thought.  I didn’t push it.  My friend said he—MCA—lives in Brooklyn, but I think he—my friend—was just jealous.

It doesn’t really matter which of this is true and which isn’t.  It all informed my reaction when I saw him on the clip announcing his heavy news.  “What must his wife and school-age child think?  When will he skate again?”

*****

The hard part about this whole thing—the part that nearly prevented me from going down this road in the first place—is that the story doesn’t really have an ending.  Not yet, anyway, and hopefully not for a long, long time.  I’m already mindful of a last-remembrances tone.  I certainly don’t want to be accused of burying someone before he is gone.

Things are going better for my mother.  She was released a week after she was admitted.  Longer than she thought; longer than any of us wanted.  But she’s better.  The intravenous antibiotics did what the oral ones could not.  She’s back at work next week.  We all think it’s too soon.

Things seem to be going reasonably well for MCA.  There was an email last week.  This one titled “what i did over my summer vacation”.  It’s worth quoting in full.  It reads:

aug 5 2009 

hey all,  

hope you are doing well.  

so i'm about a week and a half out of surgery now and rapidly recovering from it. i haven't taken any of the pain meds, which supposedly speeds along the healing process, or should i say, taking them slows it down. anyway, i spent 1 night at the hospital after the surgery. the hospital was too crazy to get any rest so i headed home to relax, have home cooked food and hang out with the family.  

i'm pretty well detoxed from the anesthesia that they pumped me up with to keep me under for all that time. that took several days to get out of my system. my neck and jaw are still pretty stiff from the surgery, but it gets better everyday. had the stitches out this past monday... so things are moving along. 

but no sooner am i on the mend from this first torture than are they lining up the next one. the next line of treatment will be radiation. that involves blasting you with some kind of beam for a few minutes a day, 5 days a week, for about 7 weeks. that will start in a few weeks... 

saw the jay-z cover of no sleep, and the coldplay one of fight for your right from APW on youtube. good shit. and i heard karen o wore a "get well MCA" armband, and that q-tip gave a shout out too..... very kind of them. 

just wanted to thank them and everyone else who sent positive thoughts my way. i do think that all of the well wishes have contributed to the fact that my treatment and recovery are going well. 

much love back at all of you! 

adam

*****

In lieu of a new album a new single has emerged.  A song called “Too Many Rappers” that they made with Nas.  They debuted it at Bonnaroo.  There’s a quality audio version of the song on YouTube.

Ad Rock gets the best line when he says “Oh my god just look at me / Grandpa been rapping since ‘83”.  That made me laugh. 

But the most poignant lines belong to Yauch.  He’s the first of the Boys to solo on the song.  He rasps, “Yo, I been in the game since before you was born / I might still be emceein' even after you're gone / Strange thought, I know, but my skills still grow /
The 80's, the 90's, 2000's and so / On and on until the crack of dawn / Until the year 3000 and beyond / Stay up all night and I M.C / and never die, cuz death is the cousin of sleep”.

I admit that I don’t really know what that last part means, but the part before—the part about rapping until “the year 3000 and beyond”—that part got to me.

It’s a great lead single.  The beat is a little <i>Check Your Head</i>-ish, but the song is definitely its own thing.  Something both familiar and new.

I can’t wait to see them play it live.

*****

A final word:  Since the original version of this essay was written, MCA has sent out another message to his fans.  This one is called “post india update”.  Apparently he went to India to see some Tibetan doctors (and, as it worked out, to drop in on some class that the Dalai Lama was teaching).  He says, “i'm feeling healthy, strong and hopeful that i've beaten this thing, but of course time will tell”.

The Tibetan doctors told him to eat vegan/organic.  He says that this is easier to do here than there.  This surprises him.

He then talks about a nunnery that he visited and he provides a link.  “[I]t's about $350 a year to sponsor a nun if you are interested”, he writes.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.

He wraps up with a final update about the new record and his health:  “we have not set a new release date for the record yet, but i'm hoping it'll be in the first half of next year. looking forward to that, but in the meantime, i'm just enjoying a little downtime in massachusetts, taking walks in the woods and hanging out with the family”.

Just yesterday—the day on which I received the latest MCA update—my mom was back in and out of the hospital.  It sounds like I’m making this up, but I’m not.  This visit was completely unrelated to the other.

She’s fine.  A minor thing.  But did I mention that she was in and out of the hospital?  I talked to her earlier today, in fact.  She sounds tired.

There’s something to be said here in the end about family:  MCA hanging out with his; me being far away from mine; all of us getting older and experiencing some variation of the same thing.

Family, immediate and otherwise.

I’ve read and re-read this piece some dozen times over the past two months, and, despite my initial insistence to the contrary, I’m just now realizing that this is what it was about all along.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monologue #1: "Brothers Get Paid Nowadays for Making Beats"


Brothers get paid nowadays for making beats. Repeat: For making beats, brothers get paid. And when I say “paid,” I don’t mean no punching-the-clock-forty-hours-a-week-paycheck-directly-deposited kind of paid paid. When I say “paid,” I mean paid. Like “check,” as in chickity-check it. 

(He busts a beat, human-beatbox style.) 

That right there is 75,000 large. 

(He busts another.) 

That? That one’s going for 250K. And this, this one: 

(He busts yet again.). 

Well, like the guy at the Swap Meet says, “If you’ve gots to ask, you can’t afford.” When I heard how much beats was going for, my life suddenly got a whole lot easier. Because, I’m telling you, man, I’ve tried it all. I’ve flipped the burgers. I’ve marketed the telephone. I even had my own Web site: www, dot, backwash, dot, b-i-z. The idea was to grab the domain before anyone else did and then sell to the highest bidder. 

(He taps his temple three times as if to say, “real smart like,” then shakes his head disappointingly.) 

Fucking tech bubble. But now. Now…. I don't have to worry about that no more, because all that shit is in the rear-view on account of this beat thing. You see 

(he looks around, leans in, and continues all confidential like)

my pops got me a keyboard when I was just a young buck. One of those Casios with the different percussions already pre-programmed: the waltz, the cha-cha-cha, the rhombus. And those little yellow pads you could hit for the snare or the cymbal. Pa-da-pow! Pa-da-pow! Tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch.  Man, I used to drum on that thing without fail. Like all day and all night and most afternoons too, when I wasn't playing Super Mario. And I know that I hit on damn near every beat there ever was. Damn near every single one. So the way I see it: it’s collection time. 

The next time you see some fool snapping his fingers or tapping his toes, you tell that sucker to pay up. That’s my intellectual property he’s bouncin’ to.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Short Play #3: "At Loon Lake"


“At Loon Lake”

a new one-act play

by

Kirby Fields

Produced as part of the New York 15-Minute Play Festival on April 29, and May 6-7, 2011, featuring Sue Berch, Dave Brown, Jeffrey Nauman, and Scott Sowers, directed by Kel Haney.

The Characters

MITCH – male, 40’s

MAUREEN – female, 40’s, Mitch’s wife

ROBIN – male, 40’s

CODY – male, teenager, Robin’s severely disabled son
 
The Place

The beach at Loon Lake.
 
The Time

The present.

“At Loon Lake”

At rise: Sounds of birds chirping, water lapping, children playing. MITCH and MAUREEN on a blanket on the beach. Assorted beach-appropriate items are scattered. MAUREEN holds a tube of sunscreen.

MITCH
Fucking Loon Lake. I’ve got to be as crazy as one to be out here. How’d you ever talk me into this anyway?

MAUREEN
I didn’t talk you into anything. You’re here because you love me.

MITCH
Is that so?

MAUREEN
And because you forgot our date night on Friday and instead played poker with the boys.

MITCH
Ah, right.

                        (Beat.  MITCH sighs, discontentedly.)

MAUREEN
Why don’t you go get in the water or something?

MITCH
Are you kidding me? It’s one of the most polluted lakes in the state.

MAUREEN
Don’t be ridiculous. Look at all the people out there.

MITCH
I’m telling you, it’s a fucking cesspool. When their doctors diagnose them all with Hepatitis C, they’ll be sorry.

MAUREEN
Since when do you know about polluted lakes anyway?

MITCH
I read an article.

MAUREEN
Since when do you read?

MITCH
Since your meatloaf gave me plenty of time to do nothing but.

MAUREEN
My meatloaf. As if you need an excuse.
           
MITCH
I’ll tell you one thing right now though, next weekend, this keister isn’t moving so much as an inch from the couch, certain biological obligations notwithstanding.

MAUREEN
Mitch!  Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten. Cody gets in next weekend.

MITCH
Cody?

MAUREEN
He’s only got two weeks after the semester before summer school.

MITCH
You didn’t tell me.

MAUREEN
I was hoping you two could—.

MITCH
Nobody told me, Maureen. Not you and damn sure not—.

MAUREEN
Well, I’m telling you now. His last final is on Thursday. He’ll be home on Friday.

MITCH
That fucking kid.

MAUREEN
Mitchell!

MITCH
No. He’s been at that school for, what, two years now? And he’s called me a grand total of one time, and that only because the battery on your phone had died and he needed someone to send him some money.

MAUREEN
I’m sure that’s not—.

MITCH
One time, Maureen.

MAUREEN
Well, maybe if you would actually have a conversation with him when he did call.

MITCH
I have a conversation.

MAUREEN
“Hello, son. How are your grades? Don’t fuck up. Here’s your mother.”

MITCH
That’s a conversation.

MAUREEN
No “How are you doing? What did you do today? Are you seeing anyone?”

MITCH
It’s implied.

MAUREEN
In which part? The “don’t fuck up” or the “here’s your mother”?

MITCH
It’s implied. He understands. Men understand.

MAUREEN
Well maybe boys don’t.

He’s changing his major. I don’t know why he never called you before, but this time it’s because he’s changing his major and he’s afraid of what you’re going to say.

MITCH
He’s changing his major? To what?

MAUREEN
To Sociology.

MITCH
The fuck he is.
 
MAUREEN
See.

MITCH
I’m sorry, Maureen, but—.

MAUREEN
This is exactly why—.

MITCH
What’s wrong with Business?

MAUREEN
There’s nothing wrong with Business, except, apparently, that it’s not Sociology.

MITCH
It’s a perfectly respectable career path.

MAUREEN
It is.

MITCH
You know what they say, don’t you?

MAUREEN
No.

MITCH
You want to help people, study Sociology. You want to get a job, study Business.

MAUREEN
I’m not sure they say that.

MITCH
Well, they should. Or something like it, anyway. Fucking Sociology. It just doesn’t make any sense. Do you know what I would have given to have the opportunity that boy has?  A diploma, Maureen. A college degree. He’s going straight to the top, not stall halfway up the corporate ladder.

MAUREEN
Oh, baby, you haven’t stalled.

MITCH
I wasn’t talking about—.

MAUREEN
Of course you weren’t.
(MITCH sees something offstage.)
He’s 20 years old. I’m sure he’s just—.

MITCH
Hey. Check it out.

(MAUREEN looks off. Sound of an inarticulate moan from offstage.)

MAUREEN
Oh my god. There but for the grace of god go—.

MITCH
I know, right? Can you believe this shit? I mean, like you said, we’re trying to have a day here. We’re trying to have a good fucking day.

                        (another piercing moan)

MAUREEN
I just don’t know what I would have done. I just—.

MITCH
I know what you would have done. You wouldn’t have let it get to that point in the first place.

MAUREEN
But—.

MITCH
No buts about it. It’s unconscionable. Bringing something like that into the world. After all, there are tests for these kinds of things nowadays. After a certain point, the only ass you should be required to wipe is your own.

MAUREEN
Hush up. They’re coming this way.

(ROBIN enters. He’s a pleasant-looking, middle-aged man. Behind him is CODY. CODY is a severely disabled teenage boy. His face, hands, and body are contorted. He communicates via yelps and moans.)

                        (CODY bellows.)
 
ROBIN
That’s right. We’re going to go for a swim in the lake.
                        (CODY)
Oh, I don’t know. I suppose it will be a little on the cold side, but it’s so hot out, I bet it’s going to feel good.
                        (CODY)
Colder than your bath, yes, but with less soap in your eyes.
                        (CODY)
No. You’ll still have to get a bath.
                        (CODY)
Because bathing and swimming are two different things, that’s why. One is hardly a substitute for the other.
                        (CODY)
True. But they’re different kinds of water. Think about it. After you’ve taken a bath, you hardly feel like you’ve gone swimming, right? Well, the same idea works in reverse.
(ROBIN makes eye contact with MITCH and shakes his head as if to say, “The questions just never stop, do they?” Then, to MITCH:)
Beautiful day, isn’t it?

MITCH
It is.

ROBIN
I’m telling you, the sky on days like this.

MITCH
Supposed to be turn by the end of the week.

ROBIN
Is that so?

MITCH
What the news says, anyway.

ROBIN
Well, enjoy it while it lasts.

MITCH
You too.

ROBIN
Thanks. Come on, Cody.

MAUREEN
Mitch.

MITCH
I heard, Maureen.

ROBIN
I’m sorry, did I—?

MITCH
No.

MAUREEN
It’s just—.

MITCH
It’s just nothing.

MAUREEN
It’s just that we have a son named “Cody,” too.

ROBIN
Is that right?

MAUREEN
We do.

ROBIN
My Cody is named after his grandfather, my father.

MAUREEN
That’s so sweet. Ours is named Cody because it’s the only name Mitch and I could agree on.

ROBIN
That’s important too.

MAUREEN
He’s thinking about changing his major, our Cody is. He’s starting his junior year at college and he’s—.

MITCH
He’s not changing his—.

MAUREEN
He’s thinking of changing from Business to Sociology.

ROBIN
That’s quite a change.

MAUREEN
It is. I tell him whatever makes him happy.

MITCH
Provided it keeps him out of the line at the soup kitchen.

(CODY whimpers. He stares at MITCH. MITCH stares back, uncomfortably.)

ROBIN
Well, I can’t speak too much to the business angle—I teach math to sixth graders, myself—but Cody here has taken a real shine to his caretaker. He’s almost become like a member of the family like. It’s a little different than briefcases and spreadsheets and, well, whatever it is business people do, but it’s rewarding in its own right, I suppose. You said it best, yourself: Whatever makes him happy.
                        (CODY continues staring at MITCH.)
Speaking of taking a shine. I think he likes you.
                        (CODY bellows.)
Yeah. He likes you.

MITCH
You can really understand him?

ROBIN
As much as anybody understands anyone, I guess. You can respond to him, you know. He is capable of carrying on a conversation.

MITCH
I wouldn’t know what to say.

ROBIN
Just say whatever pops into your head.

MAUREEN
That’s not a good idea.

ROBIN
I’m sure it’s—.

MITCH
No, she’s right. That’s probably not a—.
 
ROBIN
Come on… Whatever pops into your head. Really. It makes his day.

(Beat as MITCH looks at MAUREEN. She shrugs.)

MITCH
Cody. Now, you listen to your dad now, you hear. I read an article, you see, and that lake there is one of the dirtiest in the state. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out there and enjoy yourself. A little dirt comes with life. And on a day like today, it should cool you off something real good. But you make sure when you get home that you get yourself a bath tonight, you understand? I know it may not make much sense to you now, but your dad is just watching out for you, just making sure you do what’s best.
(MITCH stares at CODY, searching for some kind of recognition.)
Are you sure he’s able to—?

(CODY reaches toward MITCH’s face. MITCH recoils.)

ROBIN
It’s OK.

(CODY reaches up and strokes MITCH’s cheek. He moans loudly.)

MITCH
Yeah. You too.

                        (After a pause, ROBIN takes CODY by the hand.)

ROBIN
Come on. We don’t need to impose on these fine people anymore than we already have.

                        (ROBIN and CODY begin to exit.)

MITCH
Hey.

ROBIN
Yes?

MITCH
You decided to name him after your old man before he was born?

ROBIN
When we learned it was a boy, yes.

MITCH
And you knew that…. You knew he was going to be that way?

ROBIN
Yes. We knew.

MITCH
How’d that make him feel? Your pops?

ROBIN
Are you kidding me? He was honored. Have a nice day.

                        (ROBIN and CODY exit.)

(Pause as MITCH and MAUREEN listen to CODY’s cries recede into the distance.)

MITCH
See. What I fucking tell you, huh? I mean, talk about a buzzkill. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be let out of the house. I won’t go so far as to say that, but I will say—.

MAUREEN
Shut up, Mitch.

MITCH
Excuse me.

MAUREEN
I said shut the fuck up.

                        (She reaches into her purse and pulls out a cell phone.)

MITCH
Hey. Just because they ruined your day at the beach doesn’t mean—.

                        (MAUREEN holds the phone to MITCH.)

MAUREEN
Call.

MITCH
What?

MAUREEN
You heard me. Call.

MITCH
What are you talking about? Who am I supposed to—?

MAUREEN
You know damn well who.

MITCH
And what am I supposed to say? We just saw a retard on the beach and thought of you.

MAUREEN
If that feels right.

MITCH
Maureen.

MAUREEN
You’ll think of something.

MITCH
He’s not going to answer.

MAUREEN
It’s my phone. He’ll answer.

MITCH
But what am I supposed to—?

MAUREEN
It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you call. Now.

                        (MITCH takes the phone.)

MITCH
Why don’t you get into the water or something?

MAUREEN
In that water? No way. I hear it’s a cesspool.

MITCH
Oh, for Christ’s—.

MAUREEN
But I’ll tell you what, I will take a stroll along the shore, if you promise.

MITCH
I promise.

MAUREEN
There are records, you know, on the phone. There are ways of knowing.

MITCH
I know.

MAUREEN
Logs that list numbers called, even lengths of conversations.

MITCH
I know, Maureen. I know. Go take your walk.

                        (She kisses him on the cheek.)

MAUREEN
You’re a good man, Mitchell. Or at least there’s a good man in there somewhere.

                        (She exits.)

                        (MITCH looks at the phone. After a few seconds, he calls.)

MITCH
Hello. Cody? No. It’s your dad. I said, It’s your dad. Yes, I know. No. She’s fine. We’re at the beach, actually. I know, right. How she ever talked me into this one. Hey, listen. I know you’re busy and all, and I’ll let you talk to your mom in just a minute, but first I wanted to…first I just wanted to say….
                       
(MITCH pauses, searching for the right words, searching for any words. He is unable to find them. After faltering for a few seconds, he rocks his head back—the phone still to his mouth—and unleashes a primal scream.)

                        (end of play)