Watercolours In the Rain
By: M. Keala Milles, Jr.
First Draft: 2001
Continuation: August 2002, March 2003
This is definitely the greatest undertaking I have ever attempted as a playwright. Serving as yet another pennance for many of my past wrongdoings, Watercolours, is not only a passionate play about art and beauty, but a deep examination of the human spirit and resolve. Even moreso, it is a deconstruction of the contemporary ideology of art and the evolution of the artistic process. My intent through this medium, was to explore the inner workings of my sub-conscious and delve into the deepest and darkest corners of the human mind and spirit.
Having encountered many situations where I became a different person—either through heightened emotional or physiological stigma, or through natural and voluntary chemical imbalance—I wanted to investigate the philosophy of psychology—if there is such a thing. Taking from Freud, Kant, Jung and many others, I have attempted to form arguments about the relationship between “perceived reality” and that of “actual reality.”
Watercolours In the Rain
The scene opens with PATRICK entering to C. (Toplight/Spot/Special as to only provide enough light to see him). He moves toward a gravestone, DC and kneels before it, setting down some flowers and moving a chess piece.
PATRICK: Knight to H3. Check.
Beat. He prays.
PATRICK: Happy Father’s Day. Happy birthday. Happy… death… day…Sorry…I still don’t know how to phrase it. It always did seem a little too convenient. Never really could completely understand the irony. Always did appreciate it, though, you know…?
I know we never really knew each other, but it always seemed like you were there, you know. Mom never really talked about it, but…she always made sure when she did, to hold you in the highest regards. I never really missed you, you know, as a boy, always seemed to do alright. Course I never really knew you anyway, (aside) not the way I wanted to anyway, so I guess it doesn’t really matter, or maybe that’s always been the problem…
Lights fall on him and rise on the stage as paintings on easels and in frames on rollers pass through the set from wing to wing. They should resemble well-known realistic works, crisp and colourful, deliberate and simple. (Hereafter, this will be noted in the stage directions as The Process). As the works of art pass through—and eventually slow and stop—enter ALLISON, a university newspaper journalist, and CURATOR from SR. The scene is a university museum/gallery. It is important to note that anyone entering the museum from outside should always enter from SR, while anyone already in the museum should always enter SL. ALLISON stumbles in with micro-cassette recorder and notepad and pen. She also carries a backpack and is hustling and stumbling behind the quick CURATOR who is pointing, scribbling, and speaking all in one perfectly graceful motion.
CURATOR: This is our Salvadore Dali collection. We will be moving it to the East Wing next week to make room for the showcase.
ALLISON: I’m very much looking forward to that. I’ve heard so many great things about this undiscovered talent…is it true that his artwork “cannot be defined?”
CURATOR: Oh, I don’t know if I would say that, but you must certainly be the judge of it yourself. The thing of it is that he has so many influences that no one particular genre really stands out, which is what makes his work so distinctive. Most artists display a myriad of influences, but tend to dedicate themselves to one genre or style; he doesn’t.
ALLISON: That’s good, may I quote you on that?
CURATOR: Heaven’s no. I always find that when one speaks candidly specific to a person it will most definitely be generalized lies to the public. I have had my shares of misquotes and I refuse to be misrepresented.
ALLISON: I’m sorry Madame Curator, I assure you I did not know. I am fairly new to this University and am just looking for my first big story. It would be beneficial toward my scholarship…but, I will not quote you if you prefer it.
CURATOR: Well…I like your honesty. And your actual interest and knowledge of artwork is certainly a welcome change… scholarship, you say?
ALLISON: Yes. Journalism, of course…
CURATOR: (together) ….of course… Well, far be it for me to stifle a budding talent, myself…I suppose I can let you have this one. I look forward to a follow-up…(ALLISON nods), and the article.
ALLISON: I promise you will not be disappointed.
CURATOR: As I, you.
Lights fall as The Process proceeds again, and they exit SL, carrying on in pantomime. Eventually one painting stops about C. It is an oil on canvas which PATRICK is working on in his home—at this time, the canvas is barely covered by paint. There is light music and the sound of a brook or river. He enters SR and prances around—gleeful but determined.
PATRICK: Well, boy…you finally made it. Yeah. Yes. (He pauses here and there to touch the canvas). A little dimension to this dull background. That’s it…solids over vacancy, with liquid. I like it…I do! Something new for the exhibit. Something different. Something to show them….they rightfully made a mistake…all those years ago. How deep…how deep could you see into this horizon…? How deep …is it…? That wound of failure…the spikes of crucifixion… Three dimensions on a two dimensional plane…hmmm…fourth is space and fifth is time…I wonder how deep I could paint a wrinkle in the desert…like Dali’s clocks. Or the skin of Bougereau’s cherubs…or… temporal…with tempura…Aha! That’s it…! (He exits, SR, striking his oil paints. The easel casts off, SL, CF with a bed—to C—a window above the headboard, upon which rests MAE, his mother. PATRICK enters SL).
MAE: Hello…my long lost son! My rich and famous prodigal prodigy!
PATRICK: Stop that! You know how I hate when you make a big deal out of…everything…
MAE: Apparently, I’m not the only one! The local paper has a small story in the Arts and Entertainment section. (He crosses to the bed where she hands him the paper, propping herself up on the headboard to point it out—she reads the headline): “Hidden talent discovered in secret garden. Local artist, Patrick blahblah, to unveil first gallery at the University Art Museum. His first exhibit, entitled “From the Garden,” is a collection of works inspired by his childhood spent in the garden with his father…”
MAE: (Continued) “…a celebration of the journey from innocence to the recognition of beauty and gentility.” What a lovely article!
PATRICK: Really, mother…it’s not that important.
MAE: Yes it is! You’ve been working for this for so long, and you deserve it.
PATRICK: Now, I don’t know if I’d say that…I mean, I think I do, but…
MAE: Of course you do…and so do I…and so does your father…
PATRICK: (interrupting) Did…
MAE: Fine. If he were still with us today, he would be proud.
PATRICK: No…he would be satisfied that my time—and his—was not wasted.
MAE: Well now, he did not endow you with the cabin to take a vacation. He wanted you to be taken care of; give you a peaceful place to think and relax and…well, paint. I know you didn’t get along too well with him, but that’s just because he didn’t understand you and your decision to be a painter.
PATRICK: I didn’t just decide to be a painter. It’s who I am. IT decided I would paint…whatever you want IT to be. Art. Society. Whatever. I paint because I can, not because I want to. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to, or that I couldn’t. It’s almost like this gift is a burden, you know. I mean, I love it, and of course it’s probably the only thing I do well, and I’m finally getting the exposure I’ve been looking for, but sometimes—and it’s rare—but sometimes, I wish I could just be a normal human being…you know, just a regular guy with a regular job…with a regular lack of passion and conviction. Just get up in the morning, put on my tie and jacket and shuttle off in my car pool. 9 to 6. Every day.
MAE: I know…I know.
PATRICK: No you don’t, and neither did dad.
MAE: He tried. I know he didn’t understand, but he wanted to. He loved you because you were his son, and he was proud that were at least happy with something. He wasn’t happy when he died, and he told me that’s why he gave you the house. I agreed with him, and I still do—I think it is a fine idea for you to have a place of your own, where you don’t have to think—worry—about those things that the rest have to dwell on…it’s one less thing to distract you from…
PATRICK: I don’t need peace…I need inspiration.
MAE: What is more inspiring than nature…?
PATRICK: Life ‘aint like it was in the sixties and seventies… Operation Green Peace… whatever.
MAE: Exactly…things are harder now. It’s more complicated. He understood that. He wanted to make sure you didn’t have to struggle the way we did. We were there during that movement—I don’t know if you’re aware of that—he…we…do know what it’s like to believe in something, and, to the ultimate degree, to fight for it. (Coughing, struggling to continue). Son, you are…you really aren’t that different from him…I know you think he was always on your case, but that’s because…he…we lost that fight. He always understood, but never knew how to relate…
MAE: He always wanted to give you everything…but he just never knew how much was enough, how much was appropriate…I’m just glad to see that you are finally here.
PATRICK: I know. I know.
The lights fall a little, followed by The Process, which resemble Renaissance works. They fall into place to set the gallery, again. CURATOR enters, scribbling on her pad again. She is speaking into a headset/two-way radio.
CURATOR: No. No. No, that’s not what I want…well, move it…I don’t care where you put it…fine…FINE…storage…? No! We can’t move it there, it needs to be….yes…I understand, but I don’t care what you want…No. I’m sorry, yes, I’m sorry—I didn’t mean that, and you know it. Yes. Yes. Yes, I understand that. Okay, fine. Well, think about it, what would you do? What about the west wing? No? Oh, yes, that’s right, the remodeling hasn’t completed yet…Yes, I know. I hadn’t planned it to take this long either. Look, Joe—Joe, Josef we can’t just expect…well, these things take time…we can’t expect everything to go perfectly all the time, dear…Yes, time is money…but…well, we just don’t have that kind of money. We must certainly take into consideration those little things that could throw us off schedule…I did…Yes, I did. I did. I would have switched the Renaissance collection with the Baroque—what? What? The only thing keeping this place open is the government funding from the University, and you very well know it…everyone is at risk here…I’m sorry darling—no, trust me—No, dear, you are not going to lose your job over this, and what does it matter, you’re here under work study…so even if you did, they’d find you another one—I’d be s**t out of luck…No, stop worrying about it, I’m not going to let that happen! Well, that’s the way of the world, isn’t it. No…Don’t worry about it…It doesn’t matter, everything will be fine. Trust me, everything will be fine…Yes…That will be fine, move them there for now. I’m in the Renaissance Hall right now. Fine…Who? Oh, yes. Please, send her this way. Thank you.
She makes her way through the exhibit, carefully examining the paintings, adjusting and picking at them as needed. After a moment, ALLISON enters.
ALLISON: Good afternoon.
CURATOR: Hello, sweetheart, so nice to see you again.
ALLISON: Is something wrong? I’m sorry, I can leave.
CURATOR: Oh, no, it’s not you dear. Just…stress.
ALLISON: I can come back later.
CURATOR: No, no. It comes with the job, right—as they say…we’re facing some problems with the upcoming unveiling.
ALLISON: Oh, no…I hope it’s still…
CURATOR: No, no. Of course. We will still feature the exhibit, but we are having trouble relocating the current galleries to facilitate it…
ALLISON: I’m sorry to hear that.
CURATOR: (Continued) …and Josef refuses to be rational.
CURATOR: My…assistant. He’s afraid to lose his job here because, well, regardless of the quality and even amount of art we may showcase in any given fiscal year—season to season—we still have a difficult time.
ALLISON: That’s too bad.
CURATOR: I don’t want to lose him…
ALLISON: Well, I can imagine it must be tough to move on after you’ve worked together so closely…
CURATOR: Yes…working together.
ALLISON: Still, I can’t believe the museum is struggling.
CURATOR: It’s always like this. We are fortunate enough to be owned and funded by the University, though. We truly hope the draw for our new artist will be much higher than for the others. It is imperative that we profit from this exhibit.
ALLISON: If there is anything I can do…
CURATOR: No, not really, but thank you for your concern. It’s nice to know that somebody cares…
ALLISON: (Jokingly) I would be out of a job if I had no art to critique…But, maybe in the paper, I can submit an ad or…through the spread on our new artist….
CURATOR: Media coverage is good publicity.
CURATOR: I suppose that helps a little. Anyway, is there something I can do for you today?
ALLISON: Well, if you are available for comment, I would like to speak with you more on this new exhibit.
CURATOR: “From the Garden…”
ALLISON: Yes, “From the Garden.”
CURATOR: Of course. It would be nice to think about something else for a few minutes. Oh! But first, I must tell you—I was quite impressed by your introductory article in today’s paper.
ALLISON: Thank you.
CURATOR: Have you spoken to our hidden talent…?
ALLISON: Yeah, that’s what I came to ask you…I need to know how to contact him for an interview—
CURATOR: No. He doesn’t really do interviews…
ALLISON: Well, how am I supposed to speak to him…?
CURATOR: Very carefully. You see, he’s just not a conversationalist. Not that he has any problem with communication—he’s actually quite effective—he’s just modest and demure. I think you’ll understand more when you see his work.
ALLISON: When will I be able to view the exhibit?
CURATOR: The same time as everyone else. In two weeks when we open the gallery.
ALLISON: Surely you will grant one preview. Please. Just to get an idea of what I am facing with this secretive genius.
CURATOR: Believe me, I would love to show you, but if we don’t clear out this space soon, no one will get to see it. (Beat). I tell you what. I’ll try to arrange a meeting with him, and perhaps he will give you a personal tour himself.
ALLISON: Would he really go for that? I mean, I wouldn’t want to impose on him, especially if he has certain…idiosyncrasies…
CURATOR: He doesn’t like interviews—that doesn’t mean you cannot meet him. I will think of something.
ALLISON: If you think it best, that would be lovely. Thank you.
The Process. The oil on canvas comes to rest C. again, followed by the bed, etc. to signify the home. MAE is hanging up the phone, which rests on the nightstand, next to the bed.
MAE: Patrick! Patrick….come in here, please! Come here a second, hon.
PATRICK: (Entering from kitchen). Yes, mother.
MAE: Remember the story from the paper the other day.
MAE: Well, I just got off the phone with the young lady who painted you in such a genuine article. She would really like to meet you and discuss the exhibit.
PATRICK: What? How did she get this number…?
MAE: The old-fashioned way, probably, a little detective work.
PATRICK: Damned journalists—always digging around in other people’s personal lives…
MAE: It can’t be that bad.
PATRICK: This is an unlisted number.
PATRICK: The curator. She must have talked to the curator…
MAE: Oh, come now. It’s just a little meeting to discuss the exhibit.
PATRICK: Mother, you know I don’t like the idea of interviews and press conferences and…well…you know. I’m not looking…I don’t want….it’s just not my thing.
MAE: Now, now. It’s not an interview. She would like you to show her the exhibit and tell her the stories behind your work. I think it’s a fabulous idea. You know, you don’t get out much, and you don’t have many—
PATRICK: It’s my choice if I’m reclusive. I keep to myself because I never fit in anywhere. You remember what college was like for me. Even high school…even as a boy. Nobody understood me in elementary school. They always made fun of me. Never gave me a chance, not even a chance…I always tried, but it didn’t matter. It was tough.
MAE: …it was tough, I know, sweetheart. I know.
PATRICK: D****t, mother! I’m not a child anymore! Don’t talk to me that way! I hate it when you treat me like that!
MAE: I know. I’m sorry. But I will always be your mother, and you will always be my little baby. And after your father died, you were all I had…you are still all I have. The estate, the house…what am I going to do with that? No….son, you are my…
PATRICK: Yeah, I know ma…I know.
MAE: Look, I’m just worried about you, that’s all. I just want to see you get out and meet some people. Maybe now you will be able to find some colleagues or something. Talk to people with a common interest at the museum. And this reporter—she seems like a nice girl, and she’s interested in learning all about you and your paintings.
PATRICK: Exactly, they are my paintings. My private thoughts and fears, hopes, dreams. Why does everyone need to know everything? It’s just an art exhibit.
MAE: If it’s just an exhibit, cancel it. But you know it’s not just an exhibit. You did not spend you’re whole life painting to hide them from those people who would love it.
PATRICK: Dad would have said wasted…
MAE: He would have said it…but not anymore. He knows, now, that it was never a waste of talent, but he always knew that it wasn’t a waste of time. He knew it made you happy. That’s why you should do this…you should talk to this young lady—Allison—from the paper. It’s not just good for your image, but it will help you personally. Help you move forward with your life. I’m not going to be around forever….
PATRICK: I know that….I’m not depending on that.
MAE: Well, what are you going to do after I’m gone. Who will you talk to? Who will inspire and motivate and support you. It will give you more perspective. I don’t want to sound so much like a mother, but it will broaden your horizons…
PATRICK: Yeah, I guess it would be nice to add another dimension to this shut-in. I suppose some human interaction couldn’t hurt. It’s just that…well, you get used to closing up with people and it’s hard to open up again. And after I left the school…it’s unbelievable that they agreed to this gallery…well, when I left, I swore I would never return—I would never associate myself with that school again.
MAE: You never told me why you hated this place so much. Always so bitter, never a word…
PATRICK: It’s nothing Ma. I can’t change it now…and it’s in the past. I try not to think about it. But I’ll think about doing this…whatever.
MAE: It doesn’t have to be an interview.
PATRICK: I know.
MAE: Just meet with her and be yourself. If you don’t want to talk, don’t talk. Try to answer her questions…but all she wants is to understand.
PATRICK: That’s all I have ever asked for…
MAE: Well, now you have it.
The Process again, to cycle the scene change. However, at the completion, an easel resembling a window stops, DC, and we are looking into the bedroom of ALLISON as she is readying for this meeting. She sits at a boudoir, both writing and primping, almost readying for a date.
ALLISON: Congratulations big shot—This is a big step. Your first big story—Your first big interview. No, it’s not an interview. It’s a… meeting. What the hell do you care…? He’s probably just one of those eccentric artists who likes things a certain way….No, he’s not a rock star celebrity…What if he wants to be treated that way…? OH! You need this. This is important. Not just for you, but for the paper…and for the art community. Yeah. I’m contributing to a greater good here. People deserve to know these little things…that’s why we have journalism. That’s why you do this—because we need to share important information with those who have interest in it. Madame Curator, I thank you—the local art community thanks you. Ha ha…it’s not an award. But what do I ask him? “Anything that isn’t personal.” But what does that mean…? OH! I can’t do this. This is so confusing….what’s his problem anyway…? “Not a conversationalist …but an effective communicator…” so why not…? Why not do interviews…? I mean if you have the ability, then why not…? I can do this. I can do this. Just be yourself. Charm him if you have to. I know you can do that…use what you got, what you know…Whatever it takes. Whatever—It—Takes. Anything for a story…that’s what they say…. Anything…?
The Process, again, and as the paintings shuffle through the space, ALLISON and CURATOR enter.
ALLISON: I must thank you again for arranging this. How did you get him to agree to meet with me.
CURATOR: An old trick I learned when I was a little girl.
CURATOR: Always speak to his mother.
ALLISON: So he lives with his mother.
CURATOR: Not really…but, oh there, you can ask him yourself. (Enter PATRICK). Allison Whitehead, meet Patrick Flannery. (She extends her hand, which he does not receive. She drops her arm in hasty frustration as he is completely oblivious to the gesture). Well, I will leave you two to discuss the gallery. Patrick, thank you again for meeting with her. I know we agreed to certain conditions, but I feel this could be good for the both of you. It can never hurt to have positive publicity. (He forces a reaction—not quite a smile, but not perceptively pleased). Hmm. I’ll be going now. Thanks again.
ALLISON: Thank you. Okay. (She takes out a micro-cassette recorder as part of an obviously rehearsed process. He shys away.) I see. Fine, no formalities. No traditional…anything. (She extends her hand again). I’m Allison Whitehead, and I’m a writer for the Daily Journal. More importantly I am a devoted art lover and a fan of your…ideas. I would like to know more about you, your paintings, and your motivations. Just stories with which we can paint a vivid picture of you in the paper next week. I promise not to print anything that may subject you to scrutiny or ridicule, and I certainly do not desire to misrepresent you in any way—just a way to build up even more public interest for your increasingly popular exhibit.
ALLISON: Oh, yes…I understand your “Center Rows” is quite the conversation piece.
PATRICK: What, exactly, do you understand…?
ALLISON: People appreciate your vision Mr. Flannery. That’s why I am here, to help more people appreciate you, and to a greater extent understand the undoubtedly fantastic tales behind each and every one of your magnificent works.
PATRICK: You certainly have a way with words.
ALLISON: Thank you, after all I am a writer.
PATRICK: That was not a compliment.
Beat. He extracts a cigarette from his jacket.
ALLISON: You can’t smoke in here.
PATRICK: Why not?
ALLISON: Because…you can’t…it’s a non-smoking building.
PATRICK: I see.
ALLISON: Hmm…well (she puts away her things and coys up to him)…why don’t we go for a drink. Leave this place. There’s a pub around the corner where most of the students go during hell week. I really just wanted to get to know you a little, and try to understand the artist behind the canvas, and the man behind the art.
PATRICK: That was much better.
ALLISON: Thank you. So do we have a date, Mr. Bigtime artist?
PATRICK: (Hesitant) Okay. Okay.
The Process again, to set the scene of THE ROSE, the local college pub. When The Process ends, the lights are dim, and they take a seat at a small table DS of a window—similar to that of the earlier bedroom scene. Loud music filters in as they carry drinks—a pitcher of beer and two schooners—to the table.
ALLISON: What do you think?
PATRICK: This is a dive.
ALLISON: I know. Isn’t it great?
ALLISON: I know this may be a little below your…um… standards, but I just thought it might be better to get out of that routine, you know. After all, this is not an interview, so we should be some place more casual, where we can relax and just have a conversation.
PATRICK: Relax…? How can you relax here? I can hardly hear myself think…
ALLISON: I know, isn’t it great?
ALLISON: I’m sorry.
PATRICK: No, it’s fine. (Beat.) That is a compliment.
ALLISON: Oh, okay.
PATRICK: I just haven’t been out…here, for a long time.
ALLISON: So you’ve been here before?
PATRICK: Of course, I did attend this school seven years ago.
ALLISON: See, that I did not know. (She procures the micro-cassette recorder from her purse) Please, tell me more.
PATRICK: (Taking out a pack of cigarettes) Only if you put that away. This is not an interview, and I would like to believe that someone who truly wants to get to know me would, at least, be able to remember what we discussed. (He lights a cigarette and offers one to her. At first she refuses, then hesitantly accepts. He lights her f*g and she chokes it down). That’s something I won’t forget. Have you ever smoked a cigarette before.
ALLISON: Of course I have.
PATRICK: Let me guess, you were fifteen and you only did it to be a bad girl.
ALLISON: ….No! (Beat). Fourteen.
PATRICK: Amazing. You probably don’t really drink beer either.
ALLISON: Now that I do. (She empties her schooner in one shot).
ALLISON: But enough about me. We’re here to talk about you.
PATRICK: How colloquial.
ALLISON: I’m serious. (She drags the cigarette like a pro and pours two glasses of beer). Where did you grow up?
PATRICK: No recorders?
ALLISON: No. And this is just a question…
PATRICK: Well, if you can believe it, I grew up in the same house I live in presently…
ALLISON: …with your mother…
PATRICK: Who told you that?
ALLISON: No one. The curator mentioned that you…look after your mother.
PATRICK: Yes. I am her caretaker. Her health is failing her and she needs pretty constant attention. She can’t do much for herself anymore, and I can’t afford to lose her so I make sure she’s comfortable…I don’t have much else. I never maintained a job for longer than a few months, and because of my inheritance, I don’t really need to. My father passed when I was twenty-three and he left me the estate. Everything. I guess he figured it wouldn’t be long for her after he was gone…but somehow she managed to hold on this long. I’m proud of her for that—it gives me strength, knowing that a human being can persevere through so much suffrage to overcome the ultimate toil. So, I spend most of my time painting…I wouldn’t want to let dad down…we never get along, but always seemed to make it through. He left me the house; my mother told me—actually quite recently—that he wanted me to have a place with as little stress as possible, and I’ve been painting ever since.
ALLISON: And now we’re here.
PATRICK: How suburban.
ALLISON: Are you afraid of disappointing your father?
ALLISON: You mentioned painting so you wouldn’t let dad down.
PATRICK: I always thought his Last Will and Testament was his way of justifying his contempt for my artistic aspirations.
ALLISON: So he didn’t support your passion? That’s too bad.
PATRICK: Yeah. It’s what kept us apart up until his death.
ALLISON: You never got to reconcile?
PATRICK: No, but once I grew up and learned to accept and understand him, I try. I visit his grave every year on his birthday—which hauntingly is also the day of his death—and spend time with him. We play chess.
ALLISON: Chess? Really, why?
PATRICK: Because we can’t play catch.
ALLISON: (Endeared) Because you weren’t that type of boy…?
PATRICK: Because he’s dead.
ALLISON: Tell me about your mother.
PATRICK: Honestly, a part of me is just aching for her to go.
ALLISON: That doesn’t sound like something a caretaker would say.
PATRICK: I’m a caretaker, that doesn’t mean I have to care.
ALLISON: Don’t you care about your mother?
PATRICK: I love her…because I’ve never known anything else. Care…? I don’t know. She wasn’t perfect either.
ALLISON: Nobody’s perfect.
PATRICK: Nothing is perfect.
PATRICK: Look, I didn’t have much growing up, okay? Some people are born into greatness, and some people have greatness thrust upon them. Some people are born less fortunate. I am less fortunate than them.
ALLISON: That’s quite pessimistic.
PATRICK: It’s existential.
ALLISON: Are you a learned literate?
PATRICK: Well, an artist can’t be limited to what he thinks is reality.
ALLISON: I like that.
PATRICK: It’s something my mother taught me…actually, again quite recently—Today for that matter. What did she say?
ALLISON: (Trying to joke) I don’t know, I wasn’t there…
PATRICK: (Mock laughter) It’s important to gain perspective—broaden your horizons…something like that.
ALLISON: Mothers say things like that.
PATRICK: I know.
ALLISON: It’s just the way we share our knowledge, you know. I mean, if we don’t share it, then what good is it. It will just die with us, unless it lives in others.
PATRICK: Good. That’s another compliment.
ALLISON: This is the kind of story I want to tell to your public. This is the picture we want to paint for them. “Life after Death.” Or “From Death, He Lives.” Something to that extent.
PATRICK: “From the Garden.”
ALLISON: Excuse me?
PATRICK: That’s where you’re headed with this right? That’s the title of the exhibit. A garden is a place where we grow new things—beautiful, natural, often healthy things. Gardeners fertilize the earth with waste and death—which organically brings new life.
ALLISON: Of course.
PATRICK: The garden does not always have to be fruits and vegetables and plants—but the roots of hope, the foundation for faith. Dreams and passions.
ALLISON: And this is the basis for your gallery.
PATRICK: No. It’s the basis of my life. I chose to move on and create a new life for myself. When you see it at the unveiling it will make more sense.
ALLISON: No, it makes perfect sense. But perhaps you could show me some time…?
PATRICK: If you can arrange a private viewing with the curator, I will consider it. Have her contact me.
ALLISON: Can I call on you directly…?
PATRICK: No. I don’t take business calls.
ALLISON: But this isn’t an interview.
PATRICK: Exactly. And now it’s over. Come on, I’ll walk you out.
The Process begins as PATRICK escorts her US and the lights fade to black. Immediately they begin to rise again, with focus on PATRICK, C. He is working on a painting, but the canvas is blank. It is the next morning.
PATRICK: Now what? Where do I go from here? D****t, mother, you had to interfere, you had to get involved with this. Helpless, meddling, widow. I suppose she has nothing better to do than butt into my life….just because she no longer has one of her own. ”That’s not something a caretaker would say.” Worthless. ”Sometimes I just wish…a part of me is waiting for her to go.” I can’t believe I told her that! And now…now she’s going to print. I do not believe this. All I wanted was to share my work with people, now I gotta answer trivial questions from some…twenty-two…co-ed…what’s done is done. (The phone rigns) Mother! Mother, can you get that? Mother (He crosses to the phone). Yes? Hello. (Disappointed) She did, did she? Well, a man is only as good as his honesty. I’ll stick to my promise….fine. Fine. That will be fine, I suppose—I don’t really have a choice, do I?
MAE enters, hobbling in slowly. She is trying to carry a glass of water.
MAE: What’s going on now? What are you yammering about? Can’t a lady die in piece!
MAE: Oh, come now. Let’s not have a heavy heart. You have something on your mind, son?
PATRICK: You…you and your incessant scheming…I told you, I don’t need anyone else…
MAE: What did I do…?
PATRICK: Don’t play like you had nothing to do with this…I have to meet that…that…
PATRICK: …Reporter. Today. And show her the exhibit.
MAE: Well, isn’t that the point of art—to share it with others? (Beat). You know what’s best, and the best you know is that I know what’s best—ha ha. You think you don’t need others, because they never needed you, I know. You think you’re an outsider, so you think you have to act like one. I understand. But, maybe it’s time you stop trying to live on the outside and let someone else in. Someone new. She doesn’t know you, and she doesn’t need to know everything. She just wants to understand…isn’t that what you’ve always told me you wanted? Now you have the chance to tell her, so she can help others understand too…
PATRICK: Didn’t we already have this conversation? Why…do I… listen…? Why do I let you…
PATRICK: This afternoon. Right now. I have to go.
MAE: Now? It’s hardly noon!
PATRICK: I have…other…errands to run.
MAE: And you’re going to leave me to die alone!
PATRICK: (Exiting) Mother, please…!
The Process. It stops on “Center Rows,” one of his works. ALLISON is waiting patiently in the museum—it appears that he is late. When he finally enters, he is stumbling in a rushed fashion, focused and determined. He speaks quickly and with lavish gestures.
PATRICK: Hi. Sorry I’m late.
ALLISON: I was afraid you were going to stand me up.
PATRICK: You aren’t too far off…I considered it.
ALLISON: You have some kind of anti-social disorder…?
PATRICK: No… (Beat). I’m sorry. No, really, I am.
ALLISON: I’m sure.
PATRICK: I’m not all that great with people.
ALLISON: (Approaching him) You’re fine with me.
ALLISON: So…this is “Center Rows.”
PATRICK: That’s what the card says.
ALLISON: And what do you say?
PATRICK: What? What do you mean?
ALLISON: I already know there is far more to you than you allow your public to recognize. There must be more to your art.
PATRICK: Nice segue.
ALLISON: I’m a reporter, not a wordsmith.
PATRICK: I’m an artist, not a conversationalist.
ALLISON: You like to make things difficult, don’t you?
ALLISON: We need to figure out how to break down that great wall of resolve you have built for yourself. Will you not let anybody in to that heart of yours…? I hope you realize you have a public that wants to know about you. I hope you know that there are people out there, who just want to get in here (taps his head, then his chest). I would like to be the first. Talk to me. About your life, about your mother, about this painting.
PATRICK: We’ve already talked about my mother.
ALLISON: How is she doing?
PATRICK: I don’t know. I told her I had errands to run this morning before I came here.
ALLISON: Is that why you were late?
PATRICK: I thought that didn’t matter to you?
ALLISON: It doesn’t…just clarifying. (Beat). But is she alright?
PATRICK: I hope so…We have this ongoing joke where she abruptly mentions that she is dying at inappropriate and inopportune moments.
ALLISON: I’m not sure I follow…
PATRICK: …As I was leaving, she said “are you going to leave me to die alone…” or something like that.
ALLISON: How awful!
PATRICK: Sometimes I wish she would…I said that before…but I’m always afraid when I return…I’ll come home to an empty house.
ALLISON: That’s quite profound. (Beat). Please, tell me about this painting. I know it’s not just about a corn field.
PATRICK: Of course not.
ALLISON: Indulge me.
PATRICK: Can we get out of here, first?
ALLISON: Do we have to?
PATRICK: I really need to be in my element…
ALLISON: You want to go back to your studio…house…?
PATRICK: (Over) NO. Let’s get a drink.
ALLISON: (Aside) Whatever it takes.
ALLISON: (Over) I’ll take you up on that.
The Process, concluding with the window, to signify the bar. She is seated with a pitcher of beer and two schooners. He follows shortly, acting erratically, shaking, hurried.
PATRICK: Thanks for waiting.
ALLISON: Are you okay…?
PATRICK: Fine. Why?
ALLISON: You are…behaving strangely.
PATRICK: I’m…fine. Where were we…? (He quickly and slightly clumsily extracts his cigarettes from his jacket and begins smoking, with darting gestures).
ALLISON: Would you like a drink first….?
PATRICK: No. No, not right now. I thought you wanted to hear about my work?
ALLISON: I do…but…you seem…
PATRICK: Nerves…that’s all. I’m not used to talking about my artwork. Don’t get me wrong…I’m excited to share it….with you… I’m just a little uncomfortable.
ALLISON: It’s okay. I understand. I don’t want to pressure you to express anything you don’t want known. I only want to present you in the best possible light that I can. The article will run next week, and I need some quotes or some fascinating tidbits to tie in with the ad and the photographs. My editor really wants something solidified in the next few days, and…(pressing closer to him)…so do I. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, and I don’t want to pressure you to do something you don’t want to do, but you need this exposure and I need this story. Take it from the beginning, and take it slow.
PATRICK: (Panting heavily, trying to focus his breathing). Thank you. No. Thank you. That put things into perspective…so dilettante.
ALLISON: Today’s ten-dollar word.
PATRICK: It means…
ALLISON: I know what it means…
PATRICK: Well, well…
PATRICK: Well, what?
ALLISON: What about the painting? Your art?
PATRICK: What about it? All you need to know about me and my art…is that there is always an underlying theme of the eternal struggle. I try to depict the human frustration of life…that rift between good and evil, life and death…man and woman. Life is about decisions and destiny and nature is more than just the “natural world” around us. This series of paintings illustrates how nature is…cyclic…always rebirthing…does that makes sense…it makes sense to me, but I don’t know—I never know—if it comes out right. From the garden we are born, and into the soil we return. I think that can be a spiritual or a secular thing. Eastern philosophy. There’s no spectrum on your life…no expiration…not really. You know what I mean…? And your entrance is never the same as your exit…but it’s still all the same…yeah?
ALLISON: I think…I get it. (She smiles coyly). You don’t have to ramble anymore.
PATRICK: I’m sorry…I’m not making any sense.
ALLISON: No…you are. I’ll sort through it all later…but I don’t think I’ll need to rephrase too much of it.
PATRICK: I’d actually prefer that you do. I would rather not be directly quoted.
PATRICK: In case it is misprinted…I would hate to be misrepresented…
ALLISON: I see…I suppose I can accept that.
Beat. She inches closer to him as he starts to shake.
ALLISON: Are you okay?
PATRICK: I’m fine.
ALLISON: Maybe I should take you home.
PATRICK: Yeah, that’s a good idea—it is getting late. I should get home and check on mother anyway. She worries you know…
They rise and exit. The Process, concludng with the window and painting designating the flat. Lights fall and rise slowly but remain dim. It is twilight and the visibility should reflect this. They enter and find the house silent and dark. PATRICK moves swiftly through the kitchen, to another room, OS, and returns in a slowed, methodical pace, expressionless.
PATRICK: Call the police.
PATRICK: The paramedics…somebody, anybody. I think my mother is dead.
PATRICK: Give me the phone… (dials, then continues)…Hello… HELLO?! Yes…I need some help She’s dead, that’s what’s wrong! No, I don’t…I don’t know for sure…Yes…please. Yes, please send someone right away…45 Lake drive. Yes. No, I just got here. I don’t know how long…how long will you be…? Okay. Stay with me?...Yes, please. Thank you. Thank you. (He drops the phone and collapses on the floor. She tries to catch him, and cradles him on the floor. He curls up and starts to shake again. We can still quietly hear the emergency phone operator through the receiver). Not now! Not now, mother! I need you…why now…? Why are you always so difficult…? Not now…not now…not now…not now…
The lights fade, as she tries to calm him.
End ACT I
Open to PATRICK at father’s grave site, discussing his mother’s burial and his new found hope in Allison. Lights up as PATRICK enters the cemetery (as Ii). There are now two head stones, one, of course, for his mother. He continues the game of chess.
PATRICK: Bishop to A5. Check. You don’t know what you’re doing, old man. (Beat). I don’t know what I’m going to do now. She was all I had, dad. I know we drove each other crazy, but it was the closest thing I had to….I don’t know. For me, that was real. Family. Truth. Love. I know I never really talk to you about what’s on my mind and in my heart, I guess I always assumed you probably already know…and if you do, can you tell me what I should do? I don’t know if I can carry on anymore. I don’t seem to be getting anywhere with my life—No, I have not failed; I refuse to be a failure and prove you right—don’t start with me, I didn’t come here to argue, I came to make peace. To find peace.
Ma, I’m sorry I let you die alone. I was angry, and selfish. Honestly, I think that’s what you wanted, and I’m glad it happened the way it did….I guess.
The Process, to set the gallery where ALLISON and CURATOR are finishing up, moments before the opening.
CURATOR: So, are you ready for the big unveiling?
ALLISON: Yes…I guess so.
CURATOR: Something wrong my dear?
ALLISON: No…I don’t know.
CURATOR: What is it?
ALLISON: I want to thank you for investing so much of yourself in me…
CURATOR: We did need some exposure, so I guess it is I who should be thanking you.
ALLISON: …And thank you for introducing me to Patrick.
CURATOR: He seems to have really taken to you.
ALLISON: …and I to him.
CURATOR: I see.
ALLISON: I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being a silly little girl adoring an artist, but…
CURATOR: What’s wrong with that?
ALLISON: At first I was just being coy, you know, because you told me he was “eccentric.” I thought I could open him up to me, if I pretended to be interested in him, but now, I’m not so sure….
CURATOR: You don’t like him?
ALLISON: No, I do…
CURATOR: Is that for my benefit or yours…?
ALLISON: What do you mean?
CURATOR: The emphasis…Who are you trying to convince?
ALLISON: (Abruptly)…No one! I don’t know what you’re talking about.
CURATOR: Come now, there’s nothing wrong with artistic infatuation! Why, that’s how I became interested in these artistic works as well!
ALLISON: OH! Here he is.
PATRICK: Am I interrupting?
CURATOR: We were just talking about you.
PATRICK: I was afraid of this…
ALLISON: No, just about the exhibit.
CURATOR: No, really, we were discussing our expectations and projections for the opening.
PATRICK: And your analysis…?
CURATOR: (Before ALLISON can speak) You’re going to be a star.
PATRICK: Well, I guess I got what I came for…
ALLISON: (Giggling) Since when are you so sincerely egotistical?
PATRICK: What are you talking about?
CURATOR: That’s not why you’re here.
PATRICK: You got me. No, I came here to see what you are doing tonight.
ALLISON: You could have called…
PATRICK: But that’s so impersonal.
ALLISON: (Giggling) Oh. Okay. (Beat). Why don’t you meet me at the office.
PATRICK: (Laughing) It’s a date. (To CURATOR) Thanks again. I’m looking forward to this.
He exits. ALLISON starts in a half-dance, swaying, like a child. She is defensive and playful and slightly distracted.
CURATOR: Well, well, well. Look at you…
CURATOR: You are so giddy…I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coed act like that! You really have taken to him.
ALLISON: That’s what I said…
CURATOR: And do you think you can still be objective with your article?
ALLISON: Of course.
CURATOR: Because I have taken to you and I would hate to see your journalistic integrity threatened by your relationship with Patrick…
ALLISON: Good, because there is no relationship, we have just…grown…together….
CURATOR: (Over) Mmhmm…okay, but I know what I see…
ALLISON: …and I find him so mysterious…there are times when I can’t figure him out…
CURATOR: Is that a good thing?
ALLISON: …What I mean is….I don’t know…how do I say this…?…Do you know if he….does drugs or something…?
CURATOR: Oh. I see. That kinda puts a damper on things.
ALLISON: It’s more than that.
CURATOR: What is…?
Next, The Rose, where he gets drunk and starts to show his aggressive side. She is confused by his advances, and afraid that she let herself get into this situation.
PATRICK monologue ?
Lights up on PATRICK in his house. It is four-thirty in the morning, and the sun is about to rise. There is newspaper spread out all over the floor of his home—resembling an artist studio, or even more precisely, an animal’s cage—and a watercolor painting on an easel. Directly behind him, UC, is a window and SR his prize Monet, above the fireplace. There is a pallet of paint and some oils next to an oil painting, in the corner—the painting does not resemble anything, just a marble of colours which looks as if it once had a purpose, but has been neglected and the colours have run. In the other corner is a television set, tuned to static. A coffee table sits, about C, upon which lies a mirror, drug paraphernalia, many empty vials of cocaine, a razor blade, a rolled up bill, a Zippo, cigarettes, full vials of lithium, a half-drunk bottle of bourbon, an empty glass, and scattered tablets of random-grade prescription pain-killers spilling out of casually strewn, non-labeled, pharmaceutical bottles. There is also a pot of coffee, obviously cold now, on the corner of the table. He never touches it, but it is there, almost empty. There are various books, from Dante’s “Inferno,” to Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita,” to anthologies of Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare, and Emily Dickinson. It is quite apparent he has been on a bender.
He is half-naked and wrapped in a blanket. His eyes dart about the room as a cat watching a dangling ball of string. Occasionally he grabs at the air, as a cat. He randomly, yet deliberately, takes time to paint, dashing colors on the watercolor canvas, examining—far more critically than he usually would. He walks back to the coffee table, lights up a cigarette, pours a glass of bourbon and starts to sip it
There is a knock at his door.
PATRICK. (Screaming) YEAH! (He cuts a line and snorts it).
ALLISON: (Entering) So I was…oh… (She catches him).
PATRICK: (Wide-eyed) WHAT?!…do YOU want?
ALLISON: (Looking at him objectively, as if to pass judgment). Hmmm…
PATRICK: What are YOU LOOKing at?
ALLISON: Don’t you ever quit?
PATRICK: What are YOU talking abOUt?
ALLISON: Every time I’ve seen you, I get it now, you’re doing something—you were always on something!
PATRICK: Well take a gOOd LOOK, cuz I’m doin’ ‘em ALL at once this time. WOO Talk about a GOOD time….Ohh… (He wavers) You want some Vicodin? milligrams. I got Lithium… milligrams…huHA!
ALLISON: What the hell are you doing?
PATRICK: I’m painting.
PATRICK: DAMN you ask a lot of questions! Can’t you hear me…? What…are you NOT listenING…?
ALLISON: No, What are you painting?
PATRICK: I don’t know yet…haven’t really figured that out, but all in due time, my dear! Ha HA! ALL in due Time!
ALLISON: Why are you doing this?
PATRICK: Because I have to.
ALLISON: What is that supposed to mean?
PATRICK: It’s the only way to stay in touch with who I used to be…and who I want to be…and how I want to express myself…It’s the only way…
ALLISON: No, you don’t. There’s always another way.
PATRICK: It’s not like I really want to…
ALLISON: Then why do you do it?
PATRICK: BECAUSE I CAN! That’s why! Because for the first time in my life I have the choice. Because finally, I am in a position to make that decision, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it pass me by.
ALLISON: But you’re making the wrong decision.
PATRICK: (Doing a line of coke) Says who? (He wavers)
ALLISON: Just look at yourself. You’re a mess! I never knew you to do something like this before.
PATRICK: (Over)…………………Do I have to?….. I’m ugly!………… You don’t know me.
ALLISON: But I……………………….How can………………..?
PATRICK. (Over) YOU DON’T KNOW ME!!! Nobody knows me. (He throws back the rest of his glass of bourbon). NOT. ME. And that’s how I like it.
ALLISON: (Over) …….. What about?…………
PATRICK: Because if you really knew me. Who I was… Before…(He is shaking from the coke) You wouldn’t want to know me.
ALLISON: Oh…come on, now, that’s not true, and you know it…
PATRICK: (Over) ……………..YES IT IS! YES IT IS! But you can’t make that distinction because you don’t know about that. You don’t know the difference. (He looks up at the Monet). You ever notice how all the lines and colors blur together like that? You think that’s art, but maybe it’s just watercolors in the rain, ya know. Maybe the whole f*****g movement was an accident…you know….just so happened to come out beautiful, form one of life’s simple little mishaps…(He takes the painting down from the wall and attempting to lay out a line on it, spills the rest of the coke). S**t. (He snorts as much as he can, which by now is fortunately very little and then proceeds to lick the rest off the glass of the frame). That’s kinda the way I feel right now. Like everything has just faded together! It’s all just a strange coincidence… (He is looking at her now, but can’t seem to focus on anything. He is shaking incredibly, appearing cold, shivering. She remains frozen). You look like one of these paintings—all blurry around the edges and no real features. Just a bunch of lines and colors. (He is breaking down slowly falling into the gap in his mind between life and art). So pretty. (She does not respond, although he wants her to. He drops a Percocet with another bourbon shot). Did you hear me? I said you were pretty. Isn’t that what you wanted to hear in the first place? (When she doesn’t answer this time, he starts to get violent, approaching her, his body tense, shoulders hunched—as an animal ready to attack, or trying to look bigger in defense). Isn’t that what you wanted? You are pretty. You are PRETTY! You are so much more prettier than this f*****g painting. Piece of s**t. (His rage building now, paralleled with his confusion of distorted reality, he picks up the painting and turns it in his hands, observing it from every angle). There that looks better. (He places it back on the wall, the painting facing inward. Still, she remains silent). Lines. Lines and angles. Angles and lines. That’s what’s real…that’s dimension….the basis of depth…Right. That’s it. Right angles and lines. Lines. LINES! (He starts searching for more cocaine). F**K! Where’s the coke? Where’d you put it? Where ARE YOU HIDING IT?!! GIVE IT TO ME! (He spins around and makes himself dizzy. Sick, he falls down holding his stomach and coughing. Beat. Silence, then low, evil laughter—The sinister laugh of awakening; of realization. His eyes are darker and his body tense. He is holding back his need and urge to vomit but also to cry. He rises and stares at the painting again—the frame—slowly starting to hyperventilate. Beat. Finally, breaking out of the confines of his respectable self he leaps over the couch—in any way possible, grabs the painting off the wall, and punches a hole through it. He continues to rip it apart and, after tearing the canvas from the frame, places the frame on the windowsill, so the window becomes the canvas… Regaining control, slightly, he stops and steps back, stumbling, to stare at his masterpiece. Finally, after a few moments of panting and waiting, he speaks). There. That’s real. These lines don’t blur. These colors don’t fade. And what I like the best about this piece is that it’s never the same. NEVER THE SAME as the day before. The hour before. The minute. The moment. The MOMENT. That’s pretty. That’s real. That is what I call art. No…that is art.
She watches him quietly, as he transforms into another version of himself. He is weak and timid, child-like. Slowly she moves towards him and speaks as a mother to a child; nonetheless, she proceeds, unaware that she is doing it. Her statements are broad and constructed, his responses quick and sharp—the confession must be desperate and immediate, but insecure and protected.
ALLISON: What have you done?
PATRICK: What are YOU talking about?
ALLISON: The painting.
ALLISON: I can’t believe (she crosses to the empty frame, but does not remove it) you did that?
PATRICK: Believe it.
ALLISON: But I thought…
PATRICK: Always thinking…
ALLISON: …that was your most prized possession.
PATRICK: I never said that…you misquoted me.
ALLISON: No, you said…
PATRICK: I said it was my favorite painting…it’s not even authentic.
PATRICK: It’s a replica…Did you really think I could afford an authentic “Water Lilies”? I live on my parents’ estate…and I paint. Worthless, meaningless, undefinable crap.
ALLISON: But you have an exhibit.
PATRICK: Finally…it doesn’t matter anyway…no one wants to see art that is indefinable. People want to deal with s**t they already understand. They want to see the stuff they can relate to…no one can relate to me… (He pops another pairing of Percocet and bourbon).
ALLISON: Because you’re so innovative…
PATRICK: Because I steal from everybody else. I’m a fraud—I don’t have my own style…I just borrow a little from everything…I’m not an artist, I’m a thief. No one can relate to me…they relate to Monet, and Picasso, and Bougereau through me. Van Gough, f****n’ Dali… that painting was a worthless replica…you could probably get it at a swap meet…or a garage sale…that’s where I got it….
ALLISON: Then why are you so adamant about your art?
PATRICK: Because it’s mine…it’s the only thing that’s mine. Truly mine. This isn’t my house. These aren’t my supplies. These aren’t even my clothes…they are my late father’s clothes. My mother betrayed me, and you left me…she tried to tell me they were taking care of me…but I know…I know the truth…this was an excuse…it was an excuse to make me happy—no, satisfied…no, complacent—yes, complacent. Just a way to make me indecently happy—no, satisfied…no…yes, happy…whatever the f**k that means…I have this because it wasn’t mine—does that make sense…?…..It’s not mine, nothing is mine…My f*****g mind isn’t even mine anymore…my art is all I have…
ALLISON: Is that why you do it? (He is motionless except for his shivering). Is this why you are the way you are? (Still, he is silent). Oh—Talk to me for Chrissake! Help me! Help me understand! (He begins to rock back and forth, humming a strangely familiar melody). Help me understand goddammit! I won’t know what to do unless you…HELP ME! ….I can’t help you…unless I understand…
PATRICK: (Responding as a child or a young teen arguing with his parents) You don’t understand me. Nobody understands…They can’t help me…(Hesitant, but with conviction)…You don’t know how to help me.
ALLISON: That’s what I am saying! I need to understand. So I can help you.
PATRICK: No. No. You don’t want to understand me. You can’t help me because you don’t want to understand me.
ALLISON: Yes. Yes I do. Let me try.
PATRICK: You’ll never understand me. You don’t know how. (Slowly he begins to sink back into himself). You think I don’t know what I’m talking about but I do. (He gets dizzy, being taken by the last of the coke). You can’t help me because you will never know what it’s like to be me. You will never have the unfortunate disadvantage of my ugliness. You were born beautiful. Some aren’t so fortunate. I am less fortunate than them. (He is sweating now and aching, his throat dry. He tries to take a step, but can’t stand on his own, falls onto the coffee table, and stumbles over onto the floor on the other side, grabbing for the bourbon).
PATRICK: I am not beautiful. I AM NOT. BEAUTIFUL. (Finally reaching the alcohol) And that’s ok. It’s ok because I know how to create beauty! That’s another thing you’ll never understand. You can appreciate my art all you want, but you’ll never understand it! (Drinking…) Pretty colors, good lines, use of shadowing, whatever….Nonsensical jargon! (Drinking…) I AM NOT BEAUTIFUL! (He is taking deep breaths to try to regain consciousness and logic). F*****g critics. F*****g journalists. F*****g administration…
PATRICK: I never told you this? I thought I told you this. Everybody f*****g knows this…but I suppose the press shouldn’t know…I mean what a scandal, huh? Oh that’ll be some front-page hard-copy…Extra-Extra… bull-s**t right there…around-the-world…late-breaking…early-edition… SCANDAL? the Headlines would read…
PATRICK: Local celebrity and co-ed journalist…A f*****g Saturday morning special…Are-you-sure-I-never-told-you-this…f*****g OJ Simpson-Benet-Ramsey-Mary Kay-LaFucking Children-special news bulletin-s**t. Bulletin S**t. Bullet-N-S**t. Bullet and s**t. (He starts to scramble for something, chanting). Bullet and s**t…Bullet and s**t…Bullet and s**t…
ALLISON: What the hell are you talking about?
PATRICK: They kicked me out.
ALLISON: What? Who?
PATRICK: The Dean. Kicked me out. Four years ago. I used to go to the university…you know, where you write for the paper…I never told you this? I used to go there, but they kicked me out…said I wasn’t maintaining my average. Bullet and s**t. I wanted to kill her—I never told you this? I was gonna shoot that goddam muthafucker b***h—I just never had the chance. I had a scholarship…guess in what…GUESS, you’ll never guess.
PATRICK: You would think it was art, but it’s not…no I had a scholarship to study literature. How do you think I know all that s**t….All those books—see: Dante, Dickinson, Jonathon Swift…S**t…why am I sweating?…But I couldn’t handle school…Bullet and s**t…Are you hot? I’m hot…Some people can handle school, I’ve never been a school person, never really liked the whole studying thing…barely survived high school, but I guess maybe they just always felt sorry for me—single parent home—you know?…Bullet and s**t…Where the HELL is my f*****g gun?!…
ALLISON: (Over) You don’t own a gun.
PATRICK: (continued)…I don’t know. HERE! (He picks up the television remote and points it at her, trying to silence her or turn her off). Here we go! Bullet and s**t.
ALLISON: That’s not a…
PATRICK: (interrupting)…I wish I could just shut off the world—BANG!—I need peace…so I can paint. BANG! I just need everyone to leave me alone…so I can paint. BANG! I need to paint. (He tries to start painting) Yeah, I used to go to the university. They didn’t like me. That’s why I was so surprised when they allowed my exhibit. They don’t like me, but they like my paintings. It’s all so surreal…THAT’S IT! Surrealism… This painting will be a surreal representation of this moment….This MOMENT.
He goes to the watercolor and starts to pour the bourbon on it as he paints with the brush. Everything runs together and blends.
PATRICK: Surreal. Meeting you. My whole f*****g life. Surreal. I never could tell the difference…sometimes. Always thought it was just a phase. I can’t believe I made it this far. Never thought I would have anything worth living for. I always thought I would die at a young age. Never really could get a grip on life. I always got into a lot of trouble, but somehow never seemed to get any s**t for it. Always knew I’d end up a wreck, just never knew exactly when it would happen…I guess…this is it…Yeah…you think…? (He laughs hysterically).
ALLISON: (Over) You always talk like that….
PATRICK: Like what…? Talk? Who’s talking? Are you hearing things? You should get that checked…? Voices…voices…..voices….
ALLISON: You have this intriguingly frustrating tendency to speak in extremities or opposites or…I don’t know what it’s called…but you do it…I don’t know why, but it’s only at certain times. You did it before, when I interviewed you. “Always, Never.” You even got it set up like that on this coffee table…you’re a veritable medicine cabinet of polarity…God, I wouldn’t need to go the pharmacy for months…
PATRICK: (Over) What…pole—A—Rit—alin…? ha ha ha…
ALLISON: You got cocaine—that’s an upper, paired with pain killers, it’s brutal. But then you got alcohol—that’s a depressant, couple that with Lithium and your come down is gonna be hell. Opposites.
PATRICK: I figure opposites attract…that’s how all my works…work. Ha ha, that was funny.
ALLISON: (Over) Oh, I see…you blend different genres…that’s what you meant by thief…
PATRICK: Opposites attract…that’s how we got together. (He moves towards her, getting physical) We’re opposites. That’s why you were attracted to me…Right?
ALLISON: Oh, no, not now. That’s over. Your choice. Opposites attract but that doesn’t mean they connect. We don’t connect. Forget it. After everything you’ve done to me…HA! I shouldn’t even be here.
PATRICK: Yeah, why are you here…(He is coming down, quickly, and he starts to get dizzy, so he lies on the floor, amidst all the rubbish, pulling newspaper over him as though a blanket). If you don’t care…why are you here.
ALLISON: Because I can’t bear to think that a brilliant human being is wasting his existence away, rotting in his own disgust for life. But if that’s what you want…fine, I’m leaving. But at least I tried. Some people are born with fortune, some are less fortunate—you said it yourself—but when we give up we’ve already lost everything…you have so much….and you don’t even see it…. or maybe you’ve already lost it—because for some absurd reason you think you never had it…or never deserved it. And you’re right. You’re right, I don’t know you. S**t, half the time I don’t know myself, but I always thought that was the point. I don’t know. I don’t know where you come from or what you stand for, or why you continue to pity yourself…I don’t know what makes you tick, or what ticks you off, or what makes you so…I started this story with absolutely no idea how I was going to make you the most interesting thing on the planet… everyone will want to read my story…Stop at nothing. So everyone would come to your exhibit, to see your work, you lifeblood. Then I found out…you are the most interesting human being I have ever met. Initially I was attracted to your ability to relate those dark or innocent emotions of humanity, but now I see that it’s not a gift. It’s a curse. You are cursed by this amazing ability to uncover the truth. And I don’t know what to do anymore. I thought I loved you, but maybe I just needed someone with some…insight? Maybe I was crazy…but at least I tried. Maybe you’re crazy, and maybe you’re happy with that, but I can’t…I can’t accept that. You showed my what it was like to see the beauty in everything, and I wanted to show you the beauty in yourself…
PATRICK: (Over) I AM NOT BEAUTIFUL!
ALLISON: (Cont. ignoring him.) …but I couldn’t, because…I guess, I guess there isn’t any. But at least I tried. At least I tried. (Beat.) Goodbye…Goodbye.
She exits and he starts shaking violently. He tries to speak but cannot, and just lies there, eventually still. The lights fall. When they rise again—perhaps pulsating, he is still on the floor of his flat. It is the next day and he is drowning in vomit and sweat. The lights fall and rise. His arms are flailing around.
The lights fall and rise—again, perhaps in a pulsating fashion. He vomits again and tries to move, but wails in pains of hunger, poison, and futility.
The lights fade—in time with his sighing cries which die into silence and darkness…
The lights come up on PATRICK at the gravesite. He carries a small leather pouch, and a briefcase-like bag.
PATRICK: I’m sorry dad. I failed you. I couldn’t do it. Allison left me but she still wrote an impressive article about my work. I brought you a copy.
A Voice-over begins in ALLISON’s voice.
VO: The work of Patrick Flannery is as beautiful as it is frustrating. His obsession with duality and extremity and extensive knowledge and complementation of various artistic genres unite on the canvas the deepest and darkest passions and fears of a boy anxious and abandoned, trapped in the body of a man bewildered and besmirched. With a principal combination of primary colour and simple brush strokes he has created a store of paintings as complex and futile as the mind itself.
PATRICK begins to speak over her, commenting on her gentle assumptions and accurate depictions of his inner-self. He opens the pouch, revealing his portable paint set and begins painting the gravestone in watercolours.
PATRICK: She’s right…
VO: As a man he was never satisfied with life, but as an artist, always content to experience a world so full of potential sublimation, struggling to define not only his purpose and voice, but that of all who share his vision.
PATRICK: She never understood me…no one understands me…
VO: As a man he was never comfortable with his self-image and the public eye, but as an artist, always easy in his portrayals of beauty through medium.
PATRICK: Not even me. (It begins to rain).
VO: His style has been characterized by contemporaries and critics alike as a movement that “cannot be defined,” but as an admirer of his art and even greater lover of his passion, I offer up a title in homage of his vision.
PATRICK: Tell mom I miss her and I’ll…never forgive her…but I’ll try.
VO: His work reminds me of the way it feels to lose a loved one just as you finally find the love of your life.
PATRICK: Tell mom, I found it.
VO: It reminds me of puberty and adolescence mixed with omnipotence and influence. It’s the way your mind and your heart run away from you when you’re afraid…or rejoicing…or in love.
PATRICK: I let it get away, but I know, now…Finally…
VO: …the way dreams always seem too real just as you’re waking up, and the way days and nights blur together when you let go of time and all the constrictions of your everyday life.
PATRICK: I know.
VO: It’s like Watercolours in the Rain.
“Outside” by Aaron Lewis. Lights slowly fade.