The Tragic Hours: A Comedy In One Act / 17 May 1997
The Story Game, and you probably know this, goes like so: Someone starts a story (be it a chapter, a paragraph, a word, a letter! part of a letter! a single pinpoint! ahahaha stop me!!!) and they pass it on to someone else, who picks it up and runs with it. The proverbial Jim Park started one of these games where he wrote a chapter and passed it on to our buddy Dawn to continue, and then on to me for Chapter Three.
I bring this up because recently my friend Scout and I did something similar, except it was a little play with two characters where we took turns writing the lines. I wrote Lonnie, Scout wrote Kim. Here goes:
The Tragic Hours
a comedy in one act
[A cafe in Seattle … duh.]
LONNIE: I have this … I don’t know quite how to say this … but I have this real fire in my soul for gaskets.
KIM: Gaskets? What’s that? Like in French restaurants?
LONNIE: That’s what I like about you: absolutely no knowledge of internal combustion systems.
KIM: [snaps her gum loudly] Ha, oh Lonnie … youse are such a card. I think I love you.
LONNIE: Whoa, baby. Let’s slow it down. Let’s “put the brakes on,” heh-heh. We still need to talk about Felicia.
KIM: That slut? I thought I took care of her. Don’t tell me she’s back in town.
LONNIE: Oh she’s back, baby. I thought you knew. But she’s really mellowed. And the plastic surgeons in Sandusky did some creative work on her.
KIM: Yeah, I guess they’d have had to after the way she looked when me and Marian were through with her. She still think she got some kinda claim on youse?
LONNIE: Not, not a claim exactly. More of a … I dunno … a lease with an option to buy.
KIM: Are you … are youse jokin’ around with me? I don’t like that kind of humor. And you can tell Felicia that too, Lonnie. You little bastard.
LONNIE: You can tell her yourself. She’s coming here this afternoon. I thought we might all have a little chat. “Run some Pennzoil through the ole system” as it were. Heh-heh.
KIM: What? You son of a bitch. I’ll tear her hair out if she so much as looks at you. Youse are mine, and mine only, and I’ll kill you if you forget it for even ONE minute. [pauses, wipes a tear from the corner of her eye] I love you, Lonnie. We’re gonna get married one day.
LONNIE: Yeah … one day. But I’m just saying there’ll probably be a lot of days between now and then, and maybe a coupla them I can spend with Felicia. Or Dottie.
KIM: [beginning to stand] Dottie? Who the hell is she? I don’t cotton to no strangers makin time with my man.
LONNIE: Or Dorothy..? What’s that girl’s name? The one you used to hang out with in high school? I’m just saying she could be in the running. No need to cotton nothing.
KIM: You mean … you was just funnin’ me? [obviously relieved] Oh, Lonnie. I’m sorry I got so mad at youse. It’s just that when I see you up on that stage singing your love rockin’ hits, I get all fuzzy inside and feel like I want to have seven or eight little babies with you. You know?
LONNIE: Ouch, baby. Let’s keep those little tigers to three or four, max. Anyways, I’m just saying, even though that song “Fire Down Below” is about Felicia, all the rest are about you. Except that one that’s just really about rockin’ and that’s it.
KIM: But Lonnie, ALL your songs are about just plain ole rockin’. Will you sing one or two for me, right now? I gotta have the rockin’.
[lights dim as music comes up]
LONNIE: [strapping on a Flying V guitar and climbing onto the espresso-covered table] OK, Lil K. [singing] “I’ve got me an old friend / He’ll be there in the end / He drives an 18-wheel truck / His name is Kick-Ass Rock.”
[Enter stage left the Lonnie True Singers. They are three overweight women, crammed into very tight designer jeans. The look is pure 1983. They wear blue eye shadow and have miraculously tall hair.]
LONNIE TRUE SINGERS: Kick-Ass Rock, Kick-Ass Rock, the girls all call him the Kick-Ass Rock.
LONNIE: [not singing] That’s right, sweethearts. [singing] “K.A. Rock ain’t no fool / He cruises the gyms after school / Tell you baby he’ll clean your clock / He’s the one they call Kick-Ass Rock.”
LONNIE TRUE SINGERS: Clean your clock, clean your clock, the one they call the K A Rock.
KIM: Oh! I swoon.
LONNIE: [an extended guitar solo during which the cafe patrons set aflame their packets of Sweet ‘n’ Low and hold them aloft] “Yeah he’s rough / Yeah he’s mean / But pump your fist in the air / And you’ll be his rock ‘n’ roll queen.” [repeat chorus]
[All the people in the cafe leap from their seats and begin a complicated dance routine which at this point remains to be choreographed. During this amazing extravaganza, Lonnie is afforded a moment to complete a costume change.]
LONNIE: [bursting back on the scene in a glittery, silver, butt-hugging jumpsuit] Everyone! Pump your fists! Everybody say Ho! K.A. Rock! K.A. Rock! Now the ladies! Now the left side of the cafe! Awright! And baby, lil Kim, my sugariest of sugarlumps, this one goes out to you.
[He sings another verse of the same song, only a little slower and dreamier — if that’s possible — and Kim goes all limp with ecstasy.]