(IN THE DARK we hear the sound of ocean waves against a rocky shore. After several moments, the lights rise on a hospital operating room and the sound of the ocean fades. A DOCTOR, NURSE, and NARRATOR, wearing surgical gowns, masks, and rubber gloves, are gathered around the operating room table where they are performing surgery on a bloody PATIENT, who lies with an open stomach wound.)
In the cool cool cool of the operating room circled three disappointed doctors and a pair of muffled nurses. all in white and all in blue. someone said something the others considered impromptu.
why, nurse, perhaps you’d like to go for a cup of coffee afterwards?
coffee. java. the java hut. java the hut. star wars. drinking coffee when I was five. I wasn’t old. enough. ought not to have been drinking. all that coffee. all that vodka. all that dewars. I’m in recovery. jesus cover over me. I know not what I do.
perhaps you’d like to go out for a drink? afterward? soon I think. the patient is dying.
I nursed my baby back to health. she was sick. no one to help. all alone. the apartment floor. condemned. no more. no mas. rumble in the jungle. new york city. a woman and her child. I became a nurse.
nurse. perhaps you’d do me the favor. the linen closet. half an hour. if you are able. the patient. is nearly dead. the anesthesiologist. yawning. I am tired of fucking my wife. underneath the awning. of our very first time. mexico city. spinning on a dime. a long long time. ago. now we yawn. she cleans up the mess. this patient is a mess. nurse. clamp him. clean him up.
In the cool cool cool of the afterlife operating room, the cars went zoom zoom crash on highway ninety-five west, and they all breathed deep the fearful lies they weren’t afraid to keep.
(ALL breathe in together. ALL exhale together.)
Excerpt from The House
THE WAR AT HOME
1.They’ve learned the language of this world. They get by under our feet. You can see them but they’re not there. Their faces never appear in their eyes. God bless you thank you god bless you spare any change The windows! spare change spare god bless you sir spare a dollar anything at all anything at all What a view! anything god bless you ma’am god bless you thank you thank you god What a set up you’ve got here! bless have a nice day. I like it! I like it! Hey, I’ve got one just like that! O I am so glad we made it home! Home sweet home! Honey? Got any sugar? Honey, I’m home!
2.I was a little ill. It felt like an electric short – a bluish sparkling light. There was a noise, and I felt great heat – even inside the house. I didn’t know where I was or what I was under. I couldn’t hear voices of my family. It was quiet all around us, in fact there was a fearful silence. For acres and acres the city was like a desert. But the shadow of death crosses in front of me, comes back and passes through me. Besides the living me, there is another me which has been dead. The road was cluttered with pieces of destroyed houses and I couldn’t move her at all. The fire was all around us so I thought I had to hurry. I thought if I could reach the wider road, I could get some help, so I left her there and went off. I found a neighbor. He went back for her while I held his child, but after he returned he said that he could not get into that place any more. I was later told that my mother had been found dead, face down in a water tank, very close to the spot where I left her. If I had been a little older or stronger I could have rescued her. Even now I still hear my mother’s voice calling me to help her.
3.To say that I saw it at that instant is not quite accurate. The phenomenon that occurred at that instant registered on my eyeballs, but I had no way of knowing what it was. And whatever it was, it came and went with extraordinary speed. At first I thought it was something I had dreamed./The open space in front of the factory that was visible beyond the glass windows was filled with flames. But it was not that the ground was on fire and sending up flames. So I suppose I’d have to say that the flames were spewed down from the sky and were licking at the earth./But then with astonishing speed the instant came to an end and reality returned. Only it was a kind of stunned reality, full of terrible contradictions.
Excerpt from Peculiar
There is some allure in gathering groups of people, assembling them in some dark, intimate space, allowing them time to arrange themselves, assume a position, take a seat, or to stand there, awkward or otherwise, see the looks in their eyes, watch the muscles flinch in their faces. Taking note of particular signs: an aversion to direct eye contact is a giveaway, folded arms, aha, the licking of lips, pervert, the crossing of legs, you know. Some nervous whispering. We've heard things about this guy and we're not convinced. Look. There's an aggressive posture. Lean forward, like you've seen this all before. Like you've been there. Done that. But here you are, doing it again. You've got some kind of personal agenda and you're ticking the boxes off as you go. Is this different or just indifferent? This is just an observation. This is the point at which you're told to leave your bags at the door. This is the point at which you're given the shadow of a doubt, but take a chance anyway. This is the point at which you say to yourself - hey, he's kinda cute, but I wouldn't want to cross him. I wouldn't want to be stuck next to him on a crowded bus. Get trapped in a bar. This is the point at which you realise you might have to take a stand, where you might be asked to get up off your seat and follow the instructions. You know the procedure. There is irony and sincerity. There is parody and melancholy. This is not all fun and games. Laughter echoes off. This is the point at which you're told to stop crying. To put that version of your life to the side, file away, negotiate some new kind of fear.
Do not ask me back to your house. You do not know what you are getting yourself in for. Do not cross that line with me. Do not pass over that threshold. Meet me somewhere else. Some non-space, liminal. Do not count on speech or seduction. Be careful to go easy on the booze. Smoke one less cigarette. Dance close to me. Just move slow. Dance close. Don't say another word.