A WHITE PICKET FENCE (1 of 2)

A WHITE PICKET FENCE (1 of 2)
An homage to Jacques Lecoq
English One Act Play

by Jay Crisostomo IV

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The Characters

VAGABOND
WOODSMAN
WIFE
SON

The Setting

It is after the war, any war. It does not matter which. The play is set in a village, any village. It is a home, any home.

The Play

(A streetlamp hits the VAGABOND resting his head on a brick wall. At first we notice him scowling, making strange almost monstrous sounds. But as the light reaches its full cadence, we notice that he is actually crying.)

VAGABOND
(Wipes away his tears, to the audience) A madman? You say I am a madman? Bestial, detested, terrible! Say the word. Come on, say it. That’s what the lot of you do when you spot someone you can kick around, someone undeniably lesser than your high and mighty magisterial selves. Say the word. Come on. I won’t bite. I promise. (Silence) Mongrel! (With unexpected flare, seething rich with sarcasm) Come on girls and boys, children of all ages, come you little troglodytes! What’s a few coins to experience, to completely immerse yourselves in the mongrel’s ungodly stench? Hear his awkward hunger pangs, and poke the grime off his busted eye, make a fool of the Village Mangler. Come one, come all!

No takers? Ha! You’re afraid, I take it. No problem, no problem, just piss on your pants, you cowards!

You know, where I came from we’d literally either have you for breakfast or gang rape you, depends on the amount of meat you got on. You people know where that is? It’s called war. The real bonafide man-maker. Where men are made and boys are killed. Bet you won’t even survive the first five seconds in No Man’s Land. I bet you’d become a madman like me if you got out of it alive.

(Tired, he falls to the ground.)

I wasn’t always like this. Five. Ten. Twenty, god knows how long ago, I had a family. A wife all to myself, she wasn’t pin-up-girl beautiful but she was beautiful enough for my liking. She had this hair that reached to the small of her back… it still sends shivers down my spine. Every time, she’d go out of bed after sex for a glass of water or a quick cigarette, I’d stare at her. Of course she hates it, all women are obliged to hate it when men stare at them. All men, even their husbands. She’d always spanked me on the wrist, but I’d keep my eyes on her. Bless her soul, she’d pretend not to notice.

One day, we were eventually blessed with a child. A young handsome boy. Don’t worry, he looks nothing like me. But we couldn’t support him so I did what I had to. Oh, I was so stupid back then. I believed it all. War makes men strong. War makes men rich. And I tried to tell her, don’t worry. I’ll come back soon enough, and we’d have enough to family an army of soldiers. (A pause) She’d laugh every time I said it, but every time there was a plasticity to her smile.

(Stands) That was so long ago, and from that point on I entered the jungle. It’s a jungle that is rooted on indistinguishable man guts, that has trees forged from human limbs, and a brimstone grey canopy of gun powder smoke in the air. There are many of us in the jungle but we cannot see each other. En mass, we are alone.

Ever since setting foot in the jungle, I have been remade. (Turns to present himself) And look at the finished product! What has man gained from war but claws and fangs and stories. Stories similar to this one.

This is not a story of a madman. Of a monster. But something infinitely baser. This is a ghost story, and it started just two days ago. (Falls)

(The WOODSMAN enters, he catches the VAGABOND.)

WOODSMAN
Sir? Sir, are you alright?

VAGABOND
(Drunk) Let go of me, you fucking twink. I need water, pretty boy. If you want to help, give me water.

WOODSMAN
(Procures a leather jug from his satchel) Here, you can have it all.

(The VAGABOND drinks greedily.)

VAGABOND
Don’t you expect any thanks from me, sissy. Wine, I said, wine. If you want to be a helpful fag give me wine. And then you give me this piss water swill. What is this, water from the lake?

WOODSMAN
Oh, so you are no stranger to these parts. Why yes, that is water from the freshest fresh water lake in these parts.

VAGABOND
You a woodsman? Get your kicks from shooting bunny rabbits?

WOODSMAN
I do what I must, sir. For family and country, and all that.

VAGABOND
Do what you must? Family? Country? Please! You have no understanding of the word MUST. Have you ever shot a comrade for desertion? What about throw a grenade at a civilian’s hut? Those are things you do for the great MUST. We MUST go to war to show ’em all whose dick is biggest. Being the country whose fought, and won mind you, in the most wars, we have the biggest dick. I have the biggest dick. (Chants) Biggest dick! Biggest dick!

WOODSMAN
Sir, you’re drunk.

VAGABOND
Drunk? Don’t you insult a decorated war hero, butt bitch. (Aside) Yes, butt bitch, that’s your name!

WOODSMAN
What? Butt bitch? Wha—

VAGABOND
(Ignoring the WOODSMAN’s comment) Five, no ten, no twenty. No. I don’t how many fucking years I’ve given to this country but I know it’s enough to warrant me a punch to your face.

WOODSMAN
(Raises his hands) No harm meant, sir.

VAGABOND
A yellow belly country butt bitch like you calling me drunk? Puh-lease. I was just knocking back a few in the old tavern. Some well deserved appreciation from the locals. You know just a good five plus fifty bottles before I got home.

WOODSMAN
You’re on your way home? I knew it, you come from this place!

VAGABOND
Yup. First time back since the gun play started.

WOODSMAN
Where do you live? I would gladly take a veteran to his family and home.

VAGABOND
(Confused) I live there… No… There. No… I’m not sure. I live in the wood nymph’s nose. The Virgin Mary’s ass.

WOODSMAN
If you have nowhere to stay for the night…

VAGABOND
What are you implying? That I am poor? I’ll have you know that I am a decorated war hero. I poured blood so you could shoot your rabbits in pastel pink harmony.

WOODSMAN
No. No, you mistake me, sir. I meant nothing of the sort. I just meant that maybe you’d like a warm bed, a nice home cooked meal tonight. Tomorrow we can look for your house. Is that alright?

VAGABOND
Is that okay with you?

WOODSMAN
It’s fine with me. I invited you. I lead a humble household. It’s just me, a simple wife, a bright young lad. But we promise that we will do everything to make your stay with us satisfactory. Is it alright with you?

VAGABOND
Is it okay with me? Is it okay with you? Is it okay…. Argh! This could go on forever. What I meant was…. Do you trust me? I’ve been in the army for so long now that I have forgotten the taste and smell of my native flesh.

WOODSMAN
What was that?

VAGABOND
When were you born, butt bitch? Where do you live? Disney Fucking Land in a spinning tea cup. Is that why you’re so daft. I was talking about the marital act.

WOODSMAN
Huh?

VAGABOND
Fucking.

WOODSMAN
You must forgive me. I am a very simple man. Not a travelled soul such as yourself.

VAGABOND
I meant sex. (Grabs hold of his crotch) Penis. (Thrusts) Vagina. Sacred Hole. Ass Hole. My dick, your family’s holes.

WOODSMAN
Oh, you wouldn’t do such a thing.

VAGABOND
How can you be so sure?

WOODSMAN
I don’t know. Maybe it’s your eyes. And you’re from around these parts, you can always trust village-folk to do you good.

VAGABOND
Are you not… afraid of me? I can kill you, rob you dry, burn your house.

WOODSMAN
But you won’t, will you?

VAGABOND
I don’t think so.

WOODSMAN
Then come on. Dinner’s getting cold.

(The WOODSMAN pushes the VAGABOND to an exit. He follows for awhile. But he stops and talks to the audience.)

WOODSMAN
I trusted him. Yes, he smelled bad, looked bad… His speech was rude and different. His clothes have obviously been worn on both the inside and outside and then some and some more. (Sighs) He was in all figures of the word, bad. (A pause) But… There was something about his eyes. He looked like a good man.

VAGABOND
(Off-stage) Hey, come on I could eat a baby horse, butt bitch. Or maybe just a baby. Baby back ribs. Butt bitch’s baby’s back ribs.

WOODSMAN
As if, if we got to know one another just a little bit better, we could have been the best of friends, brothers even. But that’s all impossible now. It is impossible to befriend someone you have hurt severely…

That night when we first met. I felt like I was inviting kin to the table.

Oh well. Reflection for the philosopher. Dinner for the peasant. (Exits)

Scene 2

(The WOMAN enters from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.)

WOMAN
(To her SON inside the kitchen) Come on, your papa will be home soon.

(The SON enters with a big cauldron. He is barely big enough to hold it upright.)

Don’t spill anything. Ay! If you want to be as big and strong as your papa one day, you have to practice hard at being a man. Being a man means you never spill, whatever happens, even if it’s a life or death thing, not a drop, you clench down, muster your strength and bring food onto the table.

SON
(After successfully delivering the cauldron onto the table) See that, momma? Look at that, not a drop.

WOMAN
Oh that’s my darling. Come here. (Embraces her child) One day you will become big and strong. You will be able to lift the heavens. Pick out the stars. Hold the sun in your hands. You will be able to cross mountains with your one giant step. You will rule this world with your strength. (Kisses the boy’s hands) One day, you will be bigger and stronger and better than even your papa.

SON
(Whines) Momma. You always exaggerate. I’ll never be that tall. And momma, just to make things clear, I never want to better than papa. Not bigger. Not stronger. Not better. I’m happy being just like papa. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

WOMAN
Yes. Maybe that’s good enough for us. A comfortable simple life. With home, and a wife. (Kisses his son’s cheek)

SON
Momma, stop embarrassing me. Please.

WOMAN
Hmm… You’re a big boy now are you? Can’t be kissed by momma, not even at home?

SON
It’s not that.

WOMAN
Whatever you say. Just make sure, one day, wherever you are, you’ll bring her home to meet your poor old mother and father in the countryside.

SON
Momma!

WOMAN
I’m kidding. Where is your father? It is getting late. I hope he hasn’t picked up another stray again.

SON
Oh! Oh! I hope he did. The last one papa brought home was cool. He’d roll, stand, sit, bark, if you told him too. A smart dog. Why did you have to send him away?

WOMAN
And he also pooped, peed, and bit even if you didn’t tell him to.

(The WOODSMAN and the VAGABOND enter. The WOODSMAN goes ahead, and kisses his wife and carries his son. The VAGABOND is glued stuck watching the scene.)

VAGABOND
(To himself? to the audience?) I know this place. I know this scene. My hands know them all. This wooden flooring, these rudimentary carvings. (Checks a lose tile) She told me to fix that. She… (Looks up at the WOMAN talking to the WOODSMAN who is currently scratching his head apologetically) She is older, much older now but I remember. Oh… she cut her hair. And that beside her… yes. He is taller now, and as promised, looks nothing like his ugly father. Everything was as I left it. My house. My home. A happy family. All that’s missing is perhaps me.

What a fool I must have looked like. But there is of course more misery in store for me.

(The WOODSMAN finishes discussing their visitor with his wife. He approaches the VAGABOND while the WOMAND and the SON finish setting up the table.)

WOODSMAN
Hello again, sir. Friend, I will call you, friend. Enter please. My home is your home.

(The VAGABOND trips.)

Are you alright?

VAGABOND
Y-yes.

WOODSMAN
You don’t have to be a stranger. We’re all family here.

VAGABOND
What?

WOODSMAN
To tell you the truth, my wife’s not too pleased to have you here but I talked her into it. As promised, here’s a meal and a bed for you tonight my friend.

VAGABOND
She’s your wife?

WOODSMAN
Yes. She’s not that pretty is she? But…

VAGABOND
She is beautiful enough for me.

WOODSMAN
Why yes. She is, isn’t she? I’m very lucky to have her.

VAGABOND
How long have you two been married?

WOODSMAN
It has been… I don’t know. All I know is that before her I was no one. After her, I have become, well… this (Points to himself).

VAGABOND
And the child?

WOODSMAN
He’s not of my blood but I love him as if he were. He was the woman’s at first but now we call him both son.

VAGABOND
I see. (Steps back)

WOODSMAN
What are you doing?

VAGABOND
(To the audience) I could have stepped out. Ran away like I did so many years ago. I was the stranger in my own home. A burden to my own wife.

(The SON hides behind the WOMAN’s back.)

And what, what did my son, that boy, think of me?

SON
(To his mother) Who is that strange man?

WOMAN
(To her SON) Shhh. Don’t be rude. That’s just one of papa’s friends. (Smiles at the VAGABOND) We’re very happy to have you at our home.

VAGABOND
T-thank you.

WOODSMAN
Oh haha, when you have decided to stop being foolish. The table is set for our meagre feast! (Sits on the head of the table)

VAGABOND
(To the audience) That was not how I expected my homecoming. But now, two days after those, these doors, that, this, (Pounds at his chest with a closed fist), this, this, this annoying prick in the heart! It is difficult to imagine it otherwise. How stupid of me! It was so long ago. Of course, she would have… Of course, I should have… (Calms himself) What’s done is done, and all we have to talk about is what happened next.

I wanted to run away but I could not. Not yet anyway. I was, after all, after a very long absence, home. (Looks at the table)

(The WOMAN places a chair, obviously not part of the dining table set, beside the SON, facing her own chair. She then proceeds to sit in her place.)

And how kind of them, a chair set especially for me (Sits on the chair set for him)
TO BE CONTINUED (probably tomorrow)

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