Mike Manley: JACKIE!!!
The Zard: why you cry? you never felt.
The Zard peers out from behind the tree-lined edge, peerless in height, length, weight, and gaunt. he shuffles the bushes with his hands. he is gripping a sword which blends seamlessly back into the pea-soup atmosphere. the Zard is a huge monster like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man but skinny. when he turns to the side he disappears cos he has no width dimension. he is a giant living breathing stick figure wearing a starred blue wizard cap on his head. his breaths are deeply shallow, and when he hiccups gales disturb the cloud swirls. it is raining hard unseen but the droplets turn more perceptible and rectangular as they swoosh over the plane of his body. like Tetris blocks. but there is still no light.
Mike: oh Jack you poor doomed sultry soul! i loved you. i showed my emotion to you. only you. you cracked the tough-guy exterior with your long nails. let the world see me now! i am crying. these are not the sky's tears!
The Zard: no one here. chickenshit. you love when she suck your little stick.
Mike: shut up! everything's little to you. i'm not scared of you. i'm gonna climb you like i did K2. and K1. and little-known K Zero. where's my pick? shit it was in the newsvan.
The Zard: your little matchcars are my playthings. i hiccup and blow them down the hill. you keep coming to same spot and i blow you again down the hill. you dumb. but funny. but now i'm bored. i need to be entertained. i need bigger.
Mike: what were your last words, babe? i must look into my mind's eye and crystallize them with spirit glue. your face was so frightened as you fell. let me get out my phone and record my memory of your message. dictate from beyond the grave, baby.
The Zard: stupid. phone waterlogged. recording gets people in trouble.
Mike: and out of it. what's your deal, demon?
The Zard: demon? that's harsh. i am, well, i am, that's it.
Mike: you waver between an English and Australian accent. when you insult you sound decidedly Moroccan. where you from?
The Zard: all over. baka. you see now that woman was a person, not just pillows.
Mike: curse me! i agree with you, mate, humans are sad. why must we confront nothingness after so much somethingness? death comes quickly but regret is permanent. and you never say the right thing. and you can never justify your actions. and the end is always longer than the beginning. from the moment we're born, we're babies with sorrys salivating our tongues.
The Zard: like snake. your snake is longer than most. supposably.
Mike: the screen is black. what do you want? why are you here?
The Zard: that's a stupid question. i was summoned.
Mike: there are no stupid questions. by whom?
The Zard: i was summoned. i do my job. you should do yours. i have been around for many years. i remember when this dump was green. now it's blue.
Ari and her husband are preparing dinner for their kids in total darkness. punctured only by brief glints of red.
husband: these chili-pepper lights are cool. so you took them from the mexican place huh.
Ari: relax. i got the enchilada. which was highway robbery. on the highway. it wasn't a total snowjob. it evens out. i hope i'm stirring correctly.
husband: watch it, that pot is hot.
Ari: and i can't see. you know all my life i always cooked the spaghetti for 10 minutes. but you know you should really cook it for 12 minutes. all those years eating al dente when it could have been fluffy noodles.
husband: i like them flowing. there's a lesson there huh. hey what's with the Germs burn? is that new? remember when we saw them in '77?
Ari: my first trip to scary L.A. you somehow pointed out Pat Smear in the crowd and said he was going places. you said he had a glint. you held my hand from all the moshers and held my nose when Daddy came to pick us up. in the chevy so you knew he meant business. you are amazing sometimes, husband.
husband: he had a unique way of moving to the music, swinging his arms side to side like jelly. he does the same thing now on stage except that's how he holds his guitar when he plays. memory is powerful, Arianna. sometimes it's all we've got. thin scenes which help us patch up the present. just remember that, dear. let it inform everything you do going forward. as we navigate this crisis. i'll be outside filling the sandbags. sand costs now. they're charging for it. looks like i'm gonna have to put aside my dream garden and use the soil for sand. they were flowering buds just this morning.
Ari remains silent in the darkness, looking straight ahead at the tile. around the painting. she would have said two things but thought it prudent to think them instead. she hated going forward. that term. and it's a little ironic she just came from the free beach.
Ari stirs the water and fumbles in the dark to find her plastic baggie. of Skittles. just a line at the bottom left. she struggles to loose the slide clasp and invert the bag. she tries for her mouth but can't see. she holds out her hand and hopes for the best. the line of six Skittles drops and scatters all over the kitchen tile floor. the cats come out of nowhere and sniff the hell out of that floor for the candy.
children: thank you, mommy! we were wondering where they were! the cats were lost for hours, we were crying.
Ari is shaking and picks up her phone.
at the station the floorboards are shaking and the autographed pictures of talent are swinging all over the grounds. Goody Paul is hanging on to a toplight flickering the studio in and out of viable cameratime.
Goody: i think it's good enough. as long as we don't plunge for more than a minute. got this, toots? okay let's bring out Harry.
Harry Styles runs for cover and jumps onto the couch and crouches, planting himself as best he can. his manager is nowhere to be found.
Harry: don't call me mate...
Goody: i have to admit i was surprised. you're the second coming of Bowie. with that Pink Floyd vibe.
Harry: i thought you only knew rap. how long do you have to wait before it's not too soon? okay, i AM Bowie! i'm Bowie reincarnated. i believe in that spirit shit. and more like White Eskimo Floyd. and Zayn is a traitor!!!
Goody: i was expecting bubblegum.
Harry: i hate gum. gets stuck in the ladies' hairs. so are you excited for that Korea II thing? you gonna enlist?
Goody: fuck no i'm not gonna enlist. i didn't vote for any war.
Harry: saws. just making small talk. i don't know how to talk to you yanks. it always has to be patriotic, right?
Goody: Taylor Swift would agree. she voted. don't you owe Taylor your career? she taught you to play guitar.
Harry: not true, i taught myself. badly. then i started emulating Pat Smear but then Taylor came into my life and ruined everything.
Goody: you could have really been Bowie, not copied him. but you had to go for the ladies. bring out Fed.
Federer strolls in under cover of night. only his apple watch shines. and his personality.
Harry: not cool, mate. that Dunkirk part was mine!
Federer: no. i am cute for the part. i'm a better actor than you. i am more loved. my fans are better. i have more followers.
Harry: no you don't! i'm a better actor. i can do Mick Jagger.
Federer: i did Mick Jagger. literally.
Harry: what does Dunkirk have to do with you? that's MY history.
Federer: Dunkirk was once part of Switzerland. the whole world was once Switzerland. we were all neutral. i love Batman more than you, that's why Nolan gave it to me.
Harry: no, me! have you seen my Batman sheets?
Federer: do they smell like you? my hair is more flowier than yours. i am the only man in the world who can pull off a manbun.
Federer: i ain't done. you ain't stylin'. i am styles. i have a Wimbledon cardigan, fleece, vest, turtleneck, hooded windbreaker, rule-breaking browncoat, sweater, and jacket that makes me look like a butcher.
Harry: i have a sexier smile. your smile is goofy. how hard is it to hit a ball?
Federer: what if i hit you!? *lunges*
Goody: gentlemen, gentlemen. you brought Federer to blows, what does that say about this storm? it's coming around the eastern seaboard and should hit when you're sleeping landfall just southwest of the Grand Prismatic Spring. time unknown. that's it for me, folks, signing off.
Goody: oh yeah. Roger Federer, you ARE the father.
Federer: no i'm not! i saw it on reddit. i want to congratulate Serena Williams...
Goody: got my cards mixed up again. have you ever met Serena Williams?
Mike's phone buzzes blue.
Mike: a-ha. yes! i knew it! i don't believe in miracles but my love does.
The Zard: you have a lot of love. how can that be?
Mike: honey, it's me. Ari?
Ari: *low* Mike it's me. i need your ear i'm going through some stuff.
Mike: not my penis? sorry, nervous. i can't just this minute, babe, i'm dealing with something major here. i'll get back to the house as soon as i can, with bells on...
*she hangs up*
Ari takes the pot of water she had been stirring and lifts it up over her head. her husband stops her mid-pour with his soiled hand.
husband: Ari! that's scalding hot water! you can't feel the tiny bubbles!? there's no pasta in here? what were you going to do?
Ari: sorry. i'm tired.
husband: it's okay, kids. acting out a scene. that wasn't a clanging metal pot hitting the floor and vibrating, it was a sonic boom. hug me, dear. tight. we never hug anymore. we kiss but that's for show. what's wrong with you?
Ari: how long is a piece of red string?
husband: sit down. don't stand up again you make me nervous. i'll set out the churchkhela.
The Zard: no woman no cry. she know you work. you know you should try live without any expectations. easier. no assume, ass.
Mike: expectation is the killer of hope. we should all live like Jackie did. she really understood what made the world tick. she wasn't booksmart, she was people-smart.
The Zard: she had 3 degrees. never noticed, huh?
Mike: if they had been rolled-up and sticking out of her cleavage. she knew Bump would win. she felt it. and if you hung your star to him you'd get burned. she felt up Bump. but i can see clearly now, the rain is clearing things up. this horrid rain. this rain's not right. there's something rotten about it. it smells.
The Zard: you smell, human. you smell good. now is time to work.
The Zard timidly lifts up his blade from behind his back, which is fully visible. the sword rests circumspect at a 90 degree angle in the lower left quadrant.
The Zard: The Zard loves new toy. makes centuries a snap. makes centuries snap. time of the flood.
stormwaters rise precipitously, lower winds howl, and the bridge gives out. the only connecting bridge collapses.
The Zard: you know last woman word? she say, HOLD ON, BABY TOY!