BEWARE SA GORGON or PLEASE SUCK THAT BECKETT

BEWARE SA GORGON

or

PLEASE SUCK THAT BECKETT

English (Mostly) One Act Play

Jay Crisostomo IV

Characters:

Kriselda, the Gorgon

Karding, an old traveller, a nomad, a tramp

Tonyo, an aged game hunter, mestizo

Setting:

An abandoned shack by the foot of a mountain which has definitely seen better days, a way-side for travelers. The roof is about to collapse on the general disarray of chairs and tables.

The Play:  

(KARDING enters, carrying the full weight of all his belongings packed up in a gigantic beaten mountaineer’s bag. His face is covered by a grimy full beard. His clothes are shabby, torn, and smelly. His body, emaciated. He looks more animal than human. There is something in his demeanour that suggests he is afraid of the place he has just intruded, very afraid.)

KARDING

Tao po? Excuse me, is anyone here?

(No one answers.)

Well, I guess it’s okay if Karding stretches his feet here.

(A sound from the back. He is startled out of his wits, looks around suspiciously.)

Anyone?

(Decides nothing is out of the ordinary and begins to relax) Must be my nerves. (Sets his bag down and sits on a chair) My aching feet! (Takes off his shoes) Ah. That’s better. (Massages his feet, takes a whiff) Whew! Smells like shit from a dead dog’s colon. Let me think. When was the last time I took a bath? Hmmm. Eh. As long as there is no one around to complain. (Looks back, tries to catch someone approaching from his back) Sure no one around? I can hear you, you know? Snickering. Laughing at poor old Karding’s expense. Well, who’s laughing now? I can hear you all!

(Silence.)

Bahala kayo! You think you can get one up on me? I’ve been around. I know a thing or two.

(Silence still.)

(To himself) Relax, relax, those are just stories. There’s no real multo here. Just me, the mountain breeze, and (Stomach growls) Oh. (Gets an old wallet from the bag, counts the money) Ninety-nine pesos. Oh. Not even a hundred. Diyos ko! How will I get through the rainy season? Soap and clothes, I can do without. My skin is thick, I can take the cold but, o Diyos ko, how will I go without food. My stomach has been complaining from trash can food. What I would give for a hot bowl of sopas or arozcaldo! But if I tighten my belt some more, perhaps, that arozcaldo would come by Feliz Navidad. (Stomach growls some more) Christmas is still faraway, Karding, think of now. You are hungry now. (Looks around)  No one will mind. The dead don’t get hungry.

(Looks for food behind the bar. He finds a rusty can of dog food.)

Eureka! (Reads the cover) Pedigree. If it’s good enough for dogs, it’s good enough for me.

(He searches the cabinets behind the counter for a can opener. Finds none.)

Ay! How will this do. Finally food for Karding, but no. It is never that easy. Putang ina naman o!

(He begins punching the can, proceeds to pounding the can on the counter. It does not work. In frustration, he finally throws it on the ground then jumps on it. That puts a dent on the can.)

Hay salamat! Thank you God!

(He procures a rock from the ground, loose cement from the flooring, and opens the blasted can with a heavy thud. The meat spills forth, its colour greener than pink, unfit even for dogs.)

(Makes the sign of the cross) Bless us o lord! In these thy gifts! Ha-ha-hapunan na!

(He goes on all fours, licking food from the ground, slurping down the green meat in obvious delight.)

(TONYO enters, in full hunting gear, his hair white, his face proud and stiff. A musket on the ready, cradled by his arms, pointed straight right at KARDING.)

TONYO

I have found you, halimaw!

KARDING

(Raises his arms) Halimaw? No, you’ve gotten it all wrong friend. I am no monster.

TONYO

The villagers were right, there is a prize in this shithole.

KARDING

Pare, pare. Look at me, I am no monster. Not a halimaw.

TONYO

Oho. They told me not to believe the monster’s lies. Now pray to your mountain gods. You are about to meet them.

KARDING

Look, I have a nose. Two eyes, a nose, an almost full set of teeth. Human, pare, human ako.

TONYO

Ano ngayon? Be quick, monster, my finger is itchy.

KARDING

I have two hands and two feet, just like you. Look the left and the right.

TONYO

Feet that smell like monster’s feet. I am very sorry for what you have endured in your sad pitiful life, but worry not, it is about to end. With a bang.

KARDING

Pare, tao ako. I am human. Listen, pare I can talk. I am using your language.

TONYO

How do I know you’re not tricking me? Making me think that you’re talking. For all I know, you might be barking madly, growling, ready to pounce. I must not let my guard down. I will not fail. Do you know how long I have been looking for the legendary monster of the mountain? Do you know how many mountains I have been to? Makiling. Cordelliera, name it, I’ve been there. The suffering. Oh, the suffering. What I have given up? Do you even know who I am?

KARDING

(Plainly) No.

TONYO

(Sets the gun down, haughtily) You do not know who I am?

KARDING

Sorry, I do not know who you are.

TONYO

Me? You do not know me, the great Antonio Escuevo Regulado the second?

KARDING

Hindi nga pare, hindi kita kilala!

TONYO

Then I must introduce myself. You must be given the honour of an introduction to the man who will shoot you, shoot you dead and mount your head on a wall, halimaw. I am the great Antonio Escuevo Regulado the second.

KARDING

Yes, narinig ko na ‘yun.

TONYO

(Straightens his back, with the pomp of a royal introduction) Antonio Escuevo Regulado the second, hailing from the proud game hunters of the Palau islands , the renowned Regulado family hailed as the greatest game hunters of this part of Asia for two generations. Two generations!

KARDING

I am sorry, I do not understand.

TONYO

You do not need to understand. You only need to die. (Levels the gun back to shooting position)

KARDING

You are making a big mistake.

TONYO

If you are not a monster then tell me, halimaw, why are you eating like one?

KARDING

I was hungry! I was desperate!

TONYO

No more. (Puts his eye to the edge of the gun)

(KRISELDA enters, beautiful in an old faded dressing gown. Strong, but her eyes always trailed to the ground.)

KRISELDA

Who are you people?

(Jolted, TONYO misses his mark. KARDING falls over. For a moment, he thinks he is dead, but he hastily, grabs at his body, finding everything intact, he breathes easily.)

What are you doing here?

TONYO

Madam, you had made me miss my mark. Dishonourable, dishonourable! What will happen to the Regulado family name!

(KARDING runs to KRISELDA’s back.)

KARDING

I am telling you, Karding is no monster.

KRISELDA

This is my house. There are no monsters here. (Pushes TONYO’s gun down)

TONYO

Then who are you?

KARDING

I am just poor old Karding.

KRISELDA

Now that all is settled, would you please leave my home?

TONYO

No. The villagers told me that this was the place. They all swore that a monster lives here, a monster that can turn men’s heart into stone.

KRISELDA

I live here. Look at me. Do I look like a monster?

(KARDING and TONYO for the first time examine their host. They blush.)

KARDING

Ay, hindi senorita, definitely not. You look more like an angel than a halimaw.

KRISELDA

I am no angel. (To TONYO) And you, do I look like a monster?

TONYO

No, no. Pardon me, Madame. But please, would you grace us by showing us your face?

KRISELDA

(As if pushed, she moves away from the two men) No. You must never look upon my eyes. Go. Now. Tatawag ako ng pulis.

KARDING

Please huwag, please, Karding does not want trouble. I will go if you want me to.

TONYO

Patawad, Madame. This old man had been too forward. But, I cannot leave. They told me there was a monster here, and I will have it on my wall, if it is the last thing I do.

KRISELDA

Tatang, at your age I am sure that it will be the last thing you do.

KARDING

(Points) Ha-ha! You’re old.

TONYO

Not as old as you, iskwater.

KARDING

(In mock copy) Look, look, I’m Tonyo Eschebe-Eschebe Regu-bobo. I’m so uptight I would have shot a poor man because I thought he was a monster.

TONYO

Sir, I might be old but I am also not a good man. It is not below me to shoot someone who dishonours the Regulado name.

KARDING

Regu-bobo (aims a mimed gun at TONYO) halimaw! Boom! Boom! Regu-bobo! (aims at KRISELDA)

(Surprised by KARDING’s antics, KRISELDA puts her guard down, and shows KARDING her face.)

(As if possessed) Senorita… Please show me your eyes. Please, forgive this old man’s lechery. Please. Show me your eyes.

KRISELDA

(Runs behind the bar) Lumayo ka!

(In her excited state, TONYO also sees her eyes, like KARDING he is instantly entranced.)

TONYO

Donselya, my wreathe of sampaguitas, angel, woman in red, grace me with your eyes and I will die a happy death.

(KARDING and TONYO approach KRISELDA like zombies. She picks up a glass and threatens to throw it at the two.)

KRISELDA

Leave, leave, leave now! Save yourselves! Mamamatay kayo rito, I warn you!

KARDING

Patawad, senorita. I cannot.

TONYO

My flesh has turned to stone. I am transfixed to this moment, to your eyes.

KRISELDA

Please old men, makinig kayo sa akin, leave now!

(KRISELDA throws the glass. It shatters on the ground.)

(The cawing of crows is heard once more. The men snap out of their trance.)

I am sorry, you can no longer leave. Try, if you want—

TONYO

—I do not want—

KARDING

Nor I!

KRISELDA

Try if you want. But you cannot.

(KRISELDA falls on the counter. She begins to sob.)

KARDING

What is your name, angel?

KRISELDA

Kriselda.

KARDING

Why are you crying, angel?

KRISELDA

I am crying for you. Kawawang kayo.

TONYO

You can’t call me poor, not me, I am enriched, ennobled, young again. I feel like I can go on forever.

KARDING

Pobre nga ako ngunit buhay na muli. Don’t cry please, it saddens me.

KRISELDA

It starts like that. You feel strong, powerful as if you can conquer the world but it’s all false. You will never leave this place again. And one day, you will teeter and fall over like the tables and chairs. Kawawang kayo.

TONYO

But we do not want to leave.

KARDING

Tama ‘yun. I will not leave. Ever.

KRISELDA

It’s not that you won’t. It’s you can’t.

TONYO

But I won’t.

KRISELDA

You can’t. Can. Not. Even if you wanted to.

TONYO

But I don’t want to.

KARDING

Nor I.

TONYO

I don’t see the problem.

KRISELDA

(Stops crying) Ay sus Maria! Ang hirap kausap ng matanda. You’re infuriating.

(KRISELDA Gets a bottle of whiskey from the counter, sits on one of the chairs on the bar. Fills a glass. She downs it in one gulp.)

KARDING

Ayan! You are not only beautiful but also gracious. (Sits beside her, he puts an empty glass to the bottle)

TONYO

I will stay here with you. O, kung mas bata lang ako, I would court you, and have you in a day. Make you mine. But I am too old, and I’m afraid that my back might break.

KARDING

Tatang, it’s good to look but not to touch.

TONYO

Bastos! I will never think of it.

KARDING

(Offers a glass to TONYO) Ah. Let’s stop arguing, and start drinking.

(Through the last exchange, KRISELDA had been downing shots non-stop.)

KRISELDA

Yes, drink. It’s the only thing we can do now.

TONYO

I know it is none of my business, but I do not think a dalaga, especially one as beautiful as you, should drink so much. It is unbecoming of a lady.

KRISELDA

I am far older than the both of you put together. I do not look it, but I had been here for a very long time.

(TONYO sits down, puts his own glass forward so KRISELDA could pour for him. She does so. The three proceed to drink like an awkward school of fish.)

TONYO

That cannot be, Madame. You are so young. Barely out from the mother’s womb.

KARDING

Pabayaan mo na siya. She’s old enough to make her own decisions. (Remembers the can of dog food on the floor)Oy, may pulutan pa tayo.

TONYO

You are an animal.

KARDING

It is not a sin to be hungry, pare. I get it where I can find it.

TONYO

You might be happy to eat kaning-baboy. But I am different. I am from the proud storied line of the Regulados.

KARDING

Aba. You have been working on my last nerve, friend. First you try to shoot Karding, call Karding an animal, and then you judge the way of life of Karding. (Stands) Sumusobra ka na!

TONYO

(Stands) And what are you going to do about it?

KRISELDA

Boys, sit.

(The two follow.)

Really, you’re acting like children, kay tanda-tanda niyo na. (A beat) Since we are going to be here for a while, you two might want to introduce yourselves.

TONYO

I will go first.

KARDING

Hay. Here we go again.

TONYO

Antonio Escuevo Regulado the second—

KARDING

The short version please.

TONYO

(Tries not to be bothered, trying very hard) —hailing from the proud game hunters of the Palau islands—

KARDING

He’s Tonyo. He shoots things.

TONYO

(Stands once more) This has gone long enough. You do not insult a Regulado in front of a woman.

KRISELDA

Sit.

(TONYO obediently follows.)

(To KARDING) And you?

KARDING

Ako? I am no one. Just Karding.

TONYO

That’s right.

KARDING

Karding is just a traveller, a nomad—

TONYO

—A tramp. Pobre.

KARDING

(Stands, rolls his sleave)Nakakalalaki ka na ah.

KRISELDA

Sit.

(KARDING also follows obediently.)

TONYO

What about you? Could you tell us something about yourself?

KRISELDA

I…

KARDING

What’s wrong?

KRISELDA

It’s my eyes. I feel uncomfortable with people looking at them.

KARDING

I have a solution for that! (Gets a pair of John Lennon shades from his bag, cracked but still wearable, puts it on KRISLEDA)Hayan.

TONYO

But we can’t see her eyes.

KARDING

I know. But without them, she won’t feel comfortable. Ano ka ba naman? You heard her.

TONYO

But her eyes are the best part about her. I could drown in them.

KARDING

And such a beautiful colour. Parang graba.

TONYO

Do not insult the lady. They’re more like, silver or white gold, sparkling, radiant.

KARDING

Incandescent.

TONYO

Incandescent?

KARDING

I know what incandescent means! Bobo. I am poor but it doesn’t mean I have to be stupid.

TONYO

And now we can’t see them!

KARDING

What would you rather. Her talk or look at her.

TONYO

Argh.

KARDING

Argh.

KRISELDA

Boys!

(The two behave. A beat, then she continues.)

My name is Kriselda, I own this place. This is my home. I have not stepped a stone’s throw away since I was born.

TONYO

This is your home? But how? Where do you sleep?

KRISELDA

I do not sleep.

TONYO

Surely, a beautiful girl like you should have better accommodations. This seems to be more fit for pobres like him. I know, I will bring you to Palau, to the Hacienda Regulado.

KRISELDA

No. This lace was my mother’s, from my grandmother’s, from hers. Besides I do not want to leave. And, you can’t.

TONYO

You’ve been saying that a lot.

KARDING

Oo nga, I am curious too.

TONYO

I mean, I do not want to leave. I don’t think the dog wants to leave.

KARDING

Hey!

TONYO

But we can. If we wanted to.

KRISELDA

(With a straight face) Try it. You will turn to stone.

(TONYO and KARDING look at one another. They laugh.)

TONYO

Surely, you’re kidding.

KARDING

We might be old but we’re not stupid, Angel.

TONYO

We heard that story from the villagers.

KARDING

But surely you’re lying!

KRISELDA

(Serious) Try it.

(A silence. The bottle is finished.)

KARDING

You’re kidding.

KRISELDA

(Grave) I am not.

KARDING

(Tries to break the ice) Hu! You sure can drink, Angel. I told you, Tonyo. This girl’s a tomadora.

TONYO

Even I am drunk. And game hunters can drink but we’re no match for you, Madame.

(KARDING and TONYO relax.)

KARDING

Hay! I can stay here forever. The breeze, and a girl like you.

TONYO

Ako rin. Forget the game! I do not need the trophies or the hunt! Ikaw at ikaw lamang.

KARDING

But I would give up so much! The travelling, the adventure. You know, I think I have walked the entire archipelago.

TONYO

You walked over water?

KARDING

Over water! Over air! Oh, I will miss that life.

TONYO

Then go! Lundagin mo, baby.

KARDING

No. Never. Hindi kailanman! Ikaw ha, you’re trying to swindle Kriselda from Karding.

TONYO

Oh so the animal has brains.

KARDING

I told you I’m not stupid. I was not born poor, I decided to be poor. Long ago, when I still had hair up here (Points to his scalp)

TONYO

But you do have hair up there.

KARDING

Wala. (Whispers to TONYO) It’s Pentel pen.

KRISELDA

I can hear you.

KARDING

Tulad ng sabi ko kanina, I left my family so I can travel and see the world.

TONYO

And eat from all its trash cans.

KARDING

I’ve read when I could and what I could. Old diarios, novellas, text books. People throw a lot of things. And I got by.

TONYO

What about me? I’m leaving the adrenalin, the sport, and that beautiful moment when you land a tigre running straight at you. All that and so much more for you, Kriselda.

KARDING

I’m giving up the opportunity to see the world. The entire world, Angel, just for you.

KRISELDA

It’s not a competition.

TONYO

(Stands) It is. I am leaving so much more behind.

KARDING

(Stands) No. I am! All for the love of a girl.

TONYO

She only needs one. (Raises his fists) En garde!

KARDING

And that will be me.

(KARDING pounces on TONYO. An awkward fight between geriatrics ensues.)

KRISELDA

No one ever listens to the girl.

(The two sit down, worn, and out of breath.)

TONYO

It’s settled then.

KARDING

Oo.

TONYO

Both of us will stay. Forever.

KRISELDA

(Exasperated) You can’t leave.

KARDING

I will give you my world.

TONYO

And, I will give you my life.

KARDING

Everything for you Kriselda.

TONYO

Even our blood.

KRISELDA

(Explodes) I do not want you blood, nor your life, nor your world! I do not want anything from you. Di niyo ba nakukuwa, na-iintindihan? I did not ask for you to come and look at my eyes. I never asked anyone… Not one!

TONYO

There were others?

KARDING

Naunahan na tayo, pare.

KRISELDA

Yes there were others. There were lots! And I did not ask any of you to stay. You had too. You all had too. And I had to watch you fight over me. Squabble like children over a piece of cake! I swear, this face of mine is a curse.

TONYO

Where are these hooligans!

KRISELDA

You don’t understand! I just wanted to be left alone.

TONYO

Madame, I asked you a question, I expect an answer.

KRISELDA

They’re all around you!

KARDING

Ano?

TONYO

What?

KRISELDA

(Collapses) Never mind. I am so tired. And I wish I could leave but I can’t.

KARDING

Why can’t you? (Puts on his bag) Karding will take you wherever you want to go!

TONYO

(Stands) I’ll bring you home, treat you like the jungle princess of Palau, come woman in red.

KARDING

Come, take my hand.

TONYO

Take mine.

KRISELDA

I told you. If you leave, you will turn to stone. We’ll all turn to stone. And besides I don’t really want to go anywhere, I want people not to go here. But they do. They always do. And I can’t do anything about it.

KARDING

Then Karding will stay.

TONYO

And so will Tonyo.

(They all sit down.)

KRISELDA

(Stands) Then I will go.

(The two stand.)

Then I will stay.

(The two sit.)

This is impossible.

(Silence.)

So. Ano na? What do you want to do now?

KARDING

(Frankly) Gusto kita halikan.

TONYO

Halimaw!

KARDING

I thought we settled this. Human, pare, human.

TONYO

No, you monster. You do not speak of kisses so lightly.

KRISELDA

It’s fine.

TONYO

Ano?

KRISELDA

It’s fine with me. Come here Karding. (Kisses him)

KARDING

Aphrodisia!

TONYO

What about me?

KRISELDA

Come here. (Kisses him on the mouth)

TONYO

I am in love.

KRISELDA

That you are. (Wipes her mouth)

KARDING

Isa pa.

KRISELDA

No. If you want kisses, kayo maghalikan.

(KARDING and TONYO look at one another. A tense pose.)

My saliva is on both of your lips.

(They eye one other’s mouths. KARDING and TONYO hug and kiss torridly.)

KRISELDA

I’m going up. If you want to stay, be useful. Ward others. Tell them beware.

(KRISELDA exits.)

(After a while, the two men pull away from their embrace.)

KARDING

What happened?

TONYO

I do not know. Why were you kissing me?

KARDING

Why were you kissing Karding?

TONYO

It feels like a dream.

KARDING

A wonderful dream.

TONYO

All I remember is her eyes.

KARDING

Me too.

TONYO

Such beautiful grey eyes.

(A silence, they contemplate.)

KARDING

Just one look at those eyes. And Karding’s soul feel heavy. I do not think I can travel. Ayaw ko na. I will stay here forever.

TONYO

Akin din. My soul feels like lead. It feels satisfied, satiated. But why?

KARDING

For the love of a girl.

TONYO

What girl?

KARDING

I do not remember. But I think I remember. I do not know.

TONYO

Come friend, let us look for her.

KARDING

Tara.

(They try to exit. They hold a tableau. And, yes. That was a pun.) 

—END—

BJC l December 2012

 

 

 

 

 

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