Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The Dogs in Cherry Park
The Dogs in
((A Short Play in Two Acts, with Three Characters—out of
) (Inspired in part, by actual
events)) Lima, Peru
Lee, standing on top of his patio roof, is looking down into the park across the street, at the dogs, there are eight of them, big dogs, and there behind the park, Cherry Park, in Lima, Peru, is the Catholic Church. He rests his elbows on the edge of the roof’s extended handrail. He’s a little exhausted.
You hear a noise as if one of the stools or garden chairs has been moved. You don’t see anybody though. It’s presumably Oscar. In the center of the patio is the terrace roof table with umbrella in the middle of it.
Lee: Is that you Oscar?
Oscar: Yes. (Lee is pointing down at the dogs in
) Cherry Park
Lee: You see?
Oscar: Oh yes, I see what you’re pointing at.
Lee: Those dogs always make a bloody mess.
Oscar: It’s nothing to fret about.
Lee: Why do you say that?
Oscar: Where else can they go, they’re all mutts and strays.
Lee: Far away—into the
Ocean, for all I care.
Oscar: I’m tired of hearing it! (Pause.) Let’s go.
Lee: We can’t.
Oscar: Why not?
Lee: I’m waiting for my wife.
Oscar: Ah! (Pause—thinking.) Wait, watch, wait watch!
Lee: Yes, that’s what we do!
Oscar: Let’s find something else to do.
Lee: Is that all you can say?
Oscar: There are eight big dogs down there, lazy as the day is long.
Lee: Not one little cat. (pause.) They come at night.
Oscar: So they do; I guess I never have seen one myself.
Lee: You mean, never ever?
Oscar: That’s what I said.
Lee fumbles in his sweater pocket, pulls out his cell phone, checks the time—11:28 a.m. Shows it to Oscar—in that he extends his left hand outwards (there really is no one there), and stands still as if Oscar is examining it. But Oscar is a voice, not physical (correct?).
Lee: It doesn’t have a smell, so stop sniffing at it!
Oscar: It has a silver and black smell.
Lee: That’s silly, it’s just a plain cell phone.
Oscar: I like the color blue!
Lee: Then don’t look at it.
Lee quickly puts the cell phone back into his sweater pocket.
Oscar: Go get the latté your wife made for you, it’s in the thermos in the kitchen.
Lee doesn’t move, he stands stone-still looking down over the edge of the railing into the park area, sees one of the dogs crossing the street, two are simply roaming about in the park, two laying down, one chewing on bone-food.
Lee: No energy to go back down and back up that snail like stairway, I wish you
could go but that’s ridiculous. I mean, I’m sixty-five years old not thirty-five any more. (silence.)
Oscar: Exercise, I heard your wife say, you needed exercise.
Lee: You heard nothing!
Oscar: Oh yes, I did!
Lee: I’ve tried everything, the more exercise I do, the more I eat. The more I eat,
the more I sleep, and the more I sleep, the less I
hear you talk—that perhaps is the plus.
Oscar: You don’t say; hay, there are two dogs sleeping by your front steps…
Lee: Of course I see them, why, is that a good or bad thing?
Oscar: It just passes the time (he hesitates.) It’s our new occupation.
Lee: It relaxes me, looking at dogs, like it relaxes other folks looking at birds,
my wife looks at birds, it relaxes her, and
some folks look at fish in aquariums, and that
relaxes them. Looking at dogs relaxes me in Cherry
Park, is that okay with you?
Oscar: It’s A-Okay, with me brother, but it’s really called, recreation.
Lee: No, relaxation.
Oscar: So you say.
Lee: We do seem to disagree, matter of fact, more so than me and my wife.
Oscar: Okay, okay, let’s get back to looking at dogs in
. Cherry Park
Lee: We always find something to do?
Oscar: Are you trying to make me feel good or give me the impression I really
Lee: (anxiously.) You could say that.
Lee takes off his hat, it is warm, the breeze that was there, appears to have vanished. Lee walks from one part of the roof/or stage, back to where he was standing, and leans back over the railing.
Lee: Too warm for a hat.
Oscar: Funny, the stray dogs don’t hurt anyone…
Lee: Is that a question or a statement?
Oscar: Rhetorical fact.
Lee: Not yet, but a few weeks ago one dog growled at a little girl, and then
afterwards, someone poisoned two of the dogs
in the park.
Oscar: Then you should get rid of the dogs.
Lee: They’re too big. Although a neighbor took two of them and drove
, down by the Ocean I think, and Lima
dropped them off, I think they came back.
Oscar: Poison them!
Lee: I thought of that, but I can’t.
Oscar: Then you’ll just have to keep them around and complain.
Lee: That’s enough about poison.
Oscar: Okay, but—
Lee: (harshly.) Enough! (silence.) I should sit down with a back to a chair; my
back is starting to hurt.
Lee looks about for a stool, and pulls one over to the edge of the roof that was placed around the terrace table with the umbrella, no back to it.
Oscar: Same stool you sat on yesterday.
Lee: No, yesterday I sat in the lounge chair and read.
Oscar: Yesterday you fell to sleep in the lounge chair after you left the stool—
Lee: Whatever I did, I forgot what I did, I guess...
Lee’s forearms are resting on the rail, his head and back in an arch, looking down and out, beyond the park, at the church grounds, which the park seemingly blending into it.
Lee: Wait, isn’t that Farther Marcelo, by his white car?
Oscar: so, so, so who and what?
Lee: (looking to the side of him annoyingly) No, it’s not a sowhowhat, if my wife
heard you say that she’d cut your throat, he’s a
Oscar: (irritable.) You mean, she’d cut your throat!
Lee: (admirable and softly.) I’m the one that would feel it, yes; maybe it’s Father
Oscar: So, so ww-what…!
Lee: Well is it or isn’t it, which one is it?
Oscar: You’re asking the wrong guy.
Lee shakes his head, gets up off the stool, walks the length of the stage/or roof top.
Oscar: Ah!... I mean, Eh!
Lee: Ah-Eh, what? Which one is it?
Oscar: Ah, he’s gone; Eh! It’s all over, the guessing game.
Lee: I really saw him, right?
Oscar: If you did, I did and I can’t say for the life of me if I did, I’d not put my
life on it, although I’d put eight-dogs’ life on it, that
it was him, or the other him.
Lee: I think it was Manuel?
Oscar: Now who is he? I mean how’d he get into this? Let’s take a walk, cool you
Lee refuses to move, and starts to act as if he is being tugged the opposite way—in which reality, he actually seems to be, and he’s fighting it, as if an invisible force is trying to drag him away from the railing…
Lee: Stop pulling at me, I’m getting tired!
Oscar: You’d rather be stuck here doing nothing all day, just waiting for your wife
Oscar: That’s fine with me.
Lee: Me also!
Oscar: Then I’ll go.
Lee: You can’t.
Oscar: Why not?
Lee: We’re waiting for
Oscar: Is that so, you mean you are waiting for
Lee: You are a cold…
Oscar: Say it?
Lee: No, I better not, the last time I swore at someone I almost got into a fight.
Oscar: With whom?
Lee: A fellow that lives down the block, called Tall Fernando.
Oscar: Now this sounds more interesting than looking at those dogs.
Lee: We come to the roof too early I think,
not be back until one or
Oscar: So what if she comes back at two or whatever time.
Lee: No, no, she’s got to feed me.
Oscar: You sound like the birds: feed me, feed me, feed me, I heard Peruvian
birds eat like elephants.
Lee: Yes, I made that up, and put it in a poem, you’re like my wife, always quoting
me, I wish I could remember what she remembers,
after I write it, I forget it, until she says it, then I
Oscar: Oh, I suppose lunch for you is pretty soon?
Lee: She’ll come soon, it is past two p.m.
Oscar: Then just wait until dinner time.
Lee: Then you can go (a pause.) What should we do?
Oscar: Stop complaining, I’ve had enough we do what we always do, look at the
park, the dogs in the park, the church in front of the
park, the priests in front of the church, well, today
the priests, the ones you thought you saw, but the
point being, you never do anything new with me, I’ve had a bellyful of dogs, dogs and more dogs.
Lee: Then go, go, go…
Lee is putting his white hat back onto his head.
Oscar: I mean, really Adios this time!
Lee: Fine, we’ve been here for hours, I mean since a little after eleven, and now it
is a quarter past two, fine go!
Oscar: It’s for good this time. I’m never coming back—adios…!
Lee: That’s what you always say—adios…, but then you come back begging to be
Lee’s looking at the park as if contemplating, his hat is on his head now, a breeze picks up.
Lee: I think I see
Oscar: Like you think you saw father so and so?
Lee: He has a name, Marcelo and Washington
Lee tries to adjust his eyes, he sees someone walking across the park, it is a little lady, his wife is small. Lee takes off his hat, waves it at the woman.
Oscar: Is it her or not?
Lee: How would I know, she’s too far off, but I think so.
Oscar: Well, does she look like
Lee moves his head back and forth as if trying to adjust his neck, like a mannequin.
Lee: How silly, I can’t tell if she is
Rosa or not.
Oscar: That’s so like you, or should I say, not so unusual for you!
Lee: I don’t need any humor from you.
Lee’s a tinge irked.
Lee: It is her (a pause.)
Oscar: I’m going. (silence.)
Lee: Will you stop it.
Oscar: Stop what?
Lee: Your little game, I’m going to meet her, she’s got my lunch.
Oscar: Never heard of it.
Lee: It’s really called ‘Attitude’… your game is a bad attitude!
Oscar: I’m going too.
Lee: Go on then. (silence.)
Oscar: I can’t
Lee: I know, so it’s enough of that.
Oscar: I’m going, gone!
Lee hastens along the descending winding stairway to go down and meet his wife.
Oscar: I’m still here.
Lee: I thought you were gone.
Later on, afternoon, same place
Lee is back on the roof, walks back to the railing, same place he was before, looks down into the park. He halts, a dead stop. It is 3:30 p.m. He is alone—although Oscar’s voice will soon appear.
Oscar: You startled me somewhat didn’t think you’d be back so soon.
Lee: I usually take a siesta after lunch, but it’s so sunny I don’t want to miss it.
Oscar: What did you have for lunch?
Lee: I thought you were not coming back?
Oscar: You thought wrong, now what did the little lady bring you for lunch?
Rosa, Mrs. Rosa.
Lee: Why do you care?
Oscar: I’m just curious, something different to do, to talk about, ask, is that okay?
Lee: Noisy is more like it.
Oscar: so, so, sooo—what!
Lee: A hamburger, she brought me a big fat double juicy burger!
Oscar: Drumhead, I mean dumb-head, what else?
Lee: French-fries and an orange soda.
Oscar: Fast-food, haw?
Lee: That’s what they call it.
Lee is looking out towards the park, not a dog in sight. He is contemplating where they all went.
Lee: Where did all the dogs go?
Oscar: Some are sleeping under the trees by the bicycle man’s house, a few over
by the dog lady’s house, one by Jenny’s house, two by some bushes. I wish you’d get better glasses.
Lee: (calmly.) I can’t see too well nowadays, I’ll grant you that. (Lee bows his
head he’s a little embarrassed.)
Oscar: Yaw, I know, there’s not a thing you can do about it either, for it’s called
getting old and wearing out all those bolts and screws in the head, our head you could say.
Lee scans the park with his eyes, his hat on his head tightly fitted, as he leans over the railing, the sun is hot, there is a long silence.
Lee: Do you see anything moving?
Oscar: Like what? (a long silence.)
Lee: (loud.) Dogs! What do you think?
Oscar: No! You should get better glasses or binoculars.
Lee: (turning his head.) What?
Oscar: Bad vision, you have bad vision (loud.)
Lee: I can hear you, I got bad vision, yes, I know, not bad hearing!
Lee resumes his watching of the dogs…
Oscar: un-punctilious dog!
Lee: Who, what?
Oscar: You—that is what.
Lee: (anguish.) Go, go, go, and get out of here!
Oscar: Yes! Yes! Yes! I get the Picture.
Lee: Go, go, go, and get out of here!
Oscar: I’m marooned…
Lee: That’s an original! Never thought of it that way
Oscar: You already said that: rat-tat-too, or tattoo will do
Oscar: No more, let’s stop, and make up?
Oscar: Where is
Lee: Went to the Post Office.
Oscar: Boy, she’s always busy. (silence.)
Lee: What should we do now, I mean, when you get old, all you can do is look, sit
and listen, droop, drop or flop…
Oscar: Is that one of your dizzy poems?
Lee: No, not really, but other than watching birds, fish or dogs, what else is there?
Oscar: Waiting for
and talking to me, or dogs, dogs, and more dogs!
Lee: I’m not waiting for Rosa, per se! (silence.)
Oscar: I know per se, you’re waiting for the dogs you can’t see—where did you
pick up this ‘per se’ thing?
Lee: I could do some exercises, like you suggested.
Oscar: Better not, your wife will have a fit if you break a hip; blame me,
especially after eating that so called: big, big daddy juicy double burger!
Lee: She doesn’t know you exist, you know.
Oscar: Oh, that’s right, off we go to nowhere: incidentally, I expected as much…
Lee: That’s enough I can’t have another race with words.
Oscar: Sit in one of those plastic chairs, with a back to it. Rest your eyes, take
in some deep breathing, and forget the dogs for a while.
Lee: Let’s just look at the dogs for balance.
Oscar: What are you doing?
Lee is limping about on one leg, as if it is sore…
Lee: I’m getting a touch of the gout in my right leg, I think the burger got to me.
Oscar: Red meat, that’ll do it; ask God to take it away.
Lee: Don’t be funny, that’s why I have colchicina.
Oscar: What’s that?
Lee: A pill, it stops, no, rather it halts the progression of gout…oh, and you
Oscar: God, who is he?
Lee: God is God.
Oscar: Well that doesn’t help; a dog is a dog also.
Lee: Maybe so, but God made the dog.
Oscar: Who made me?
Oscar: God forbid, how was that so?
Lee: I’m kind of kidding.
Oscar: I’m kind of kidding also, can you talk to God like you talk to me?
Lee: Kind of, in a way—
Oscar: Do you hear Him?
Lee: Kind of, sometimes, I sense his presence if that’s what you mean.
Oscar: I’m not sure what I mean, does he talk back to you?
The sun is starting to set (stage lights dim.)
Oscar: Why not feed the dogs a few bones?
Lee: I have, I’ve feed them some turkey bones, and steak bones, and now they
sleep on our front doorsteps.
Oscar: Oh, bad idea.
Lee: They fight half the night away!
Oscar: You say you saw eight large dogs this morning?
Oscar: And last week there was only five?
Lee: Yes, and before that some one poisoned three dogs.
Oscar: Long, gone, Ah?
Lee: I guess so.
Lee’s looking over the edge of the roof top into the park area, he sees a few dogs roaming about looking for food.
Oscar: Give the dogs a good beating, they’ll keep their distance.
Lee: You mean throw stones?
Oscar: Good idea!
Lee: Some neighbors have tried, it doesn’t work.
Oscar: Good idea, bad results.
Lee: You said it before, the best way would be to poison them, with something
that will not cause long suffering, but I can’t.
Oscar: And you suppose what?
Lee: Let’s not waste any more time on the issue, I’m not going to be involved with
Oscar: you mean, cruelty; you got to do something…
Lee: Let the neighbors come up with an idea, they don’t take mine seriously
Oscar: I know it’s a cruel fate, but…
Lee: Yes, it’s a cruel outcome.
Oscar: What do you say?
Lee: I already said it: it’s a cruel way to die.
Oscar: What are we doing here, isn’t that a worthy question?
Lee: One thing is clear, not sure if that is a question or statement, but we are
Oscar: You mean, waiting for dogs to appear, and then watching them!
Lee: Ah? Perhaps that is more correct.
Oscar: On the other hand, you’re waiting for
appear so you can get rid of
Lee: I’ve never thought of it that way, but perchance there is more truth than
fiction to that, if you think so, it must be; right or wrong, it sounds correct.
Oscar: I’m not sure.
Lee: No, you’re more right than wrong.
Oscar: One thing is for certain, the minutes would be long without me.
Lee: You’re just a habit.
Oscar: No doubt. Maybe you were born mad; you know I’ve been around longer
Lee: I wouldn’t say that.
Oscar: But it’s true.
Lee: I’m just bored with old age so I let you talk, or rattle on.
Oscar: You mean, old age has taken a bigger bite out of your energy, and now
you’re bored so you talk to me more, so I’ve taken on a bigger role in your life.
Lee: There is no denying that.
Oscar: I understand one has to do what one has to do.
Lee: That sounds like some old dry philosophy you overheard, or read by
Durant, or alike, or I did and you picked up on it.
Oscar: I hear a dog barking (in the background a dog is barking)
Lee: They’re probable fighting over a bone.
Lee: Go to hell…
He turns about, sees
Rosa, he hadn’t seen her come, he
was talking to Oscar…
Lee: I didn’t mean you
Rosa: I hope not, but who then?
Lee is standing stone-still, silent for a moment
trying to get his state of mind;
Rosa is holding onto
a wool like sweater walking towards him…
Lee: Myself, I’m talking to myself.
you’ll catch your death.
Lee: Don’t worry about me, I’m fine.
Lee stretches out his hands and hugs his wife, as Rosa puckers up her little lips for a kiss; it is starting to get gray out, the lights of the stage is dimmed as if the park lights have gone out (if there are park lights, no need for them)…
Rosa: Oh my gosh, look at all those dogs down there.
Lee: I know they’re there, but I can’t see them unless they move, it’s getting a bit
dark, too dark for my eyes to spot them. (silence.)
Rosa: You didn’t take your nap today, did you?
Lee: No, I guess not, I got mooing about up here, but I am sleepy.
help you to sleep better.
Lee: That’s true.
Lee: What do we do now? (as if looking around for Oscar; forgetting his wife is
there for a moment.)
Rosa: I got to go clean the front steps, those dogs made a mess, you take a nap.
Lee turns back to Rosa, he didn’t mean to say what he said, it was an automatic impulse, but she took it alright, or as meaningless; nonetheless, he leaves well enough alone…a slip of the tongue, and no one the worse off for it.
Lee: It’s been an amusing day.
Lee: I talked to Oscar.
Lee: Nobody really. (he smiles as if he has a secret.)
Lee: Yaw could be: Oscar’s kind of a cloudy fellow! I mean mysterious.
They start walking towards the back of the stage, where supposedly the steps might be, their backs are to the audience (or can be)…,
Lee: Let’s talk about something else, I mean, something more meaningless.
Rosa: I was just going to suggest dogs, what a mess they made in my garden.
Lee: No harm in trying, but I’m not up to talking about dogs, so please don’t, talk
about anything else but dogs…
Oscar: Thank God for little FAVORS! (Loud.)
and it wasn’t your voice, was it? Unless you’re a ventriloquist and I think I’d know about that after nearly thirteen years of marriage, wouldn’t I? (she looks at Lee a little panicky, strangely and for confirmation)
Lee: (turns about surprised, an eyebrow up) Eh? Well, I’ll be…I suppose that
was Oscar, isn’t that something…but to tell you the truth, I never heard him this time (Lee stands with an odd kind of smile on his face, as if she had somehow taken on his mysterious double role, gotten into his stream of thoughts. And in this case unknowingly unprovoked by him, as if it was an automatic reflex response from his subconscious…to her from Oscar, himself, who else…)
Lee: Don’t say it, I know what I said; let’s just keep going…I’ll have to talk to him
about that tomorrow.
There is an apparition in the middle of the stage, although it doesn’t increase in clarity, it is there and after a noticeable moment by the audience, it grows fainter and fainter—Rosa, you can tell sees it, liken to a shadow fading away. One might even say a ghost.
Rosa seems to get a stomach-ache over it, crouching down
a slight as if hoping the image might disappear altogether, while she holds her
stomach firm with both hands.
It is as if Lee wants to share Oscar with Rosa and doesn’t know quite how to do that, henceforward a magically moment takes over, it is as if his mind has manufactured or better yet, manifested the image of Oscar for Rosa—so it might look. Lee himself is stone-still with no expression (as if normal, yet staring intensively).
Rosa starts to step forward, towards the vision, and Lee reaches out his hand to stop her, pulls her back a slight…(one does not know if Lee sees it or does not see it, or is part of this happening, or what, although it can be deduced that he’s aware of what is going on, surprisingly aware. Let the reader or audience decide for themselves.)
Lee: Wrong way, dear!
daring to, not even knowing if he did manufacture the vision for her; as if to say, I’d rather not know.) Of course (not saying anymore, not even saying what she had seen, lest he think she’s crazy.)
Once again they turn their backs to the audience and you can only hear…Lee saying: ‘Well I’ll be,
I’ll be, well…’ as they walk off towards the back of the stage, as the lights dim on stage and they fade into the dark of the stage…then they are gone.
Note on the Preparation of he Play: first draft hand written in four hours in the afternoons on the Roof, 7th December, 2012; second draft, another four hours on the computer, until 1:00 a.m., on the 7th of December and one hour of that into the 8th, 2012; and on the 8th edited, taking another four hours, twelve hours total in its original preparation (by the author). To be reedited again for spelling, content and readability by the wife, Rosa. The subject matter, the dogs, park, church, etcetera, are actual issues taking place, as is the geological location. On the 9th the ending was somewhat revamped, to allow the genre to point out the Magical Realism vs. Stream of Conscious, about 450 words added.
Note of Explanation on the multi Genre form Used (by RPS): Perhaps the play is more in line with Magic Realism/and stream of conscious. Magic realism, implying ontological elements, where one can sense the strangeness and uncanny exemplified; the nature of being; and stream of conscious, which in this case implies the thoughts and feelings of a character are presented as they develop, that is, the conscious experience of an individual, and in this case almost sycophantic—where one might place it into a ventriloquist dilemma where it doesn’t belong, in that the individual has created a character to talk to that is more than a mind set, although these are his ideas running through his mind at the same time, knowing all the time he has or is creating the other person at large, who in essence has taken on his own life to a certain margin. Perhaps one might define what it is not: it is not supernatural, nor is it one dimensional in that it is Marvelous, perhaps closer to fantasy, but then we’d have to add supernatural, and see it as problematic and we can’t, because the presence of the supernatural is not there. Surrealism is often close to magical realism, but is more on the illogical side of the fence, so it is not that, there are here realistic aspects of humanity and existence. And Lee is not mentally ill in any way, thus, he can turn Oscar, on or off as he pleases, until the very end, where Oscar surprises even Lee with his last statement: unlike, yet likened to a television show. Although Surrealism seeks to express the sub-conscious, this is not repressed, this is ordinariness for Lee. Thus, back to magical realism, realism in that it depicts actual life for him, and he lives within this framework, which is normal for him, and the author tries to allow this flow to be normal, not trying to explain it, which would take away its credibility as real. Thus, if you can’t explain it, then it is magical. Can we call it Science Fiction? Although the play may seem to blend into this category at times, and toy with human imagination, Science Fiction is too fantastical, it is set usually in a different world, Lee does not leave Earth, this is a real setting he is in, recognizable. Here we see in Magical Realism as obvious magical features brought into everyday reality, and even at its very end, Lee not hearing Oscar, but his wife who does, he accepts this as normal, or almost normal, or that his wife has connected to his stream of thinking. Perhaps the author wanted, or wants to present a deeper meaning in his play with a real mystery of the mind, that even can threaten man’s psychology categorically, which had this been a story in the 5th Century, the author would have been branded a warlock, demented, or demonic I would think. Eccentrics, of course is another category, they are eccentric, that is to say, unconventional, they are creative, perhaps more on the ingenuous imagination side of life; in this case, an intuitive way of presenting the interior world of Lee. And I guess if one can say anything about Lee, he is eccentric, or is it the author? By, Rosa Peñaloza de Siluk