aiting for the Unknown

An empty room. A computer workstation. Evening.

Guillespigon, sitting in front of the computer, is trying to type. He places both hands above the keyboard. He gives up, exhausted, and his hands drop into his lap. After resting for a time, he raises his hands again, only to drop them as before.

Enter Vladirkimir.

Guillespigon: (giving up again) Nothing to be done.

Vladirkimir: I'm beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I've tried to ignore the obvious, saying, Vladirkimir, be reasonable, you haven't yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (Turning to Guillespigon) So there you are again. Here we are again.

Guillespigon: Am I? Are we?

Vladirkimir: Can't you tell?

Guillespigon: No. Not really. I've been so tired lately.

Vladirkimir: No sleep?

Guillespigon: None. I work 40 hours a week staring at a computer screen, then come here to stare some more. I try to sleep . . . but . . . until it ends . . .

Vladirkimir: Until what ends?

Guillespigon: You know.

Vladirkimir: No. I don't know.

Guillespigon: You knew yesterday.

Vladirkimir: Was I here yesterday?

Guillespigon: Of course you were! Don't you remember?

Vladirkimir: Not exactly . . .

Guillespigon: What's wrong with you? No wonder it never ends!

Vladirkimir: What? What never ends?

Guillespigon: I give up. Truly, there is nothing to be done. We're doomed.

Vladirkimir: I'm sorry. Please don't be angry. I . . . I . . . I admit I've been suffering from blackouts lately. . .

Guillespigon: (severely) Booker's?

Vladirkimir: (sheepishly) Yes.

Guillespigon: (shaking his head) Marijuana?

Vladirkimir: (softly) Yes.

Guillespigon: Mushrooms?

Vladirkimir: (even more softly) Yes.

Guillespigon: LSD? Jameson's? Cocaine? Champagne? Ecstacy? Honker's? Heroin? Cough syrup?

Vladirkimir does not speak.

Guillespigon: (angrily) Dirdir!

Vladirkimir: (almost too soft to hear) I . . . I . . .

Guillespigon: Dirdir!

Vladirkimir: (after a long pause) Well, I . . . (resigned) yes . . . that sounds right.

Guillespigon: What sounds right?

Vladirkimir: Your list. I don't think there's anything left to add . . . oh, Extra Strength Tylenol towards the end of the evening . . .

Guillespigon: (nearly shrieking in fury) What? Are you saying you consumed them all at once!?

Vladirkimir: Well, no, I mean I might have washed down some of the shrooms with Honker's but otherwise . . . you know, one thing led to another and . . .

Pointedly, Guillespigon stares at Vladirkimir, and does not speak.

Vladirkimir: I'm sorry.

Guillespigon continues staring, obviously angry and disappointed.

Vladirkimir: (pitifully) Please, Guiwi, don't be like that. I'll do better. I promise. Just tell me what has to be done.

Guillespigon: (coldly) Why? So you can forget everything again?

Vladirkimir: Forget what? Tell me, Guiwi, please. What is this "it" that needs to end?

Guillespigon: (after an extremely long pause, during which half the audience leaves the theatre, and a sigh) The Unknown. "It" is the Unknown.

Vladirkimir: Don't tease me, Guiwi, I've already admitted I don't know . . .

Guillespigon: (completely frustrated and redfaced) THE Unknown, you moron! Our hypertext for the millenium! Has your brain completely evaporated?

Vladirkimir: Ooooooooooh. Right. (Another extremely long pause, during which the rest of the audience exits, then timidly) Are we still working on that?

Guillespigon: (with withering sarcasm) Yes, though that presumes you ever worked on it in the first place. (Under his breath) Slacker.

Vladirkimir: I heard that!

Guillespigon: Deny it if you can. (Hissing) S-s-s-s-s-s-s-slacker!

Vladirkimir: Prolix-boy!

Guillespigon: Poet!

Vladirkimir: Formalist!

Guillespigon: Corpse!

Vladirkimir: Webmaster!

Guillespigon: Oh!

He slumps, vanquished.

Vladirkimir: Guiwi? (No response.) Guiwi? I'm sorry. That was probably a bit harsh.

Guillespigon: Probably?

Vladirkimir: Definitely. Forgive me?

Guillespigon: Maybe.

Vladirkimir: Please?

Guillespigon: Oh, all right. (Pause. Peers into the now empty auditorium.) It appears we are alone. You wouldn't happen to have any pot left from your Bacchinalian excesses?

Vladirkimir: I think so. Let me check.

Vladirkimir begins searching his pockets. From the seemingly limitless depths he removes several empty liquor bottles and beer cans, candy wrappers, bongs, notebooks, pens and pencils, roach clips, lighters, newspapers, books of poetry, floppy disks, pipes, rolling papers, printer cartridges, TV remotes, cats (which run squawling into the night), light bulbs, keys, crumpled dollar bills, loose change, playing cards, a bowler hat, and finally, about three dozen film canisters. Vladirkimir begins opening the canisters one by one.

Vladirkimir: Aha! (Having found what he was looking for, Vladirkimir loads a bowl and hands it Guillespigon.) Here you go.

Guillespigon: Thank you.

He rummages through Vladirkimir's pile, finds a lighter, and is about to smoke when he is startled by a loud shout.

Scottzo: (offstage) ASSIGNMENTS!

Guillespigon: (wearily) Oh no. Not again.

Scottzo: (offstage) ASSIGNMENTS!

Vladirkimir: (frightened) What was that?

Guillespigon: Don't tell me you've forgotten this, too? Though, on the other hand, I can see why you might want to . . . I'd repress such memories if I could . . .

Vladirkimir: What? What's going on?

Guillespigon: Patience, my lapsed-synapsed friend, you'll see.

Enter Scottzo, bellowing.


Scottzo carries a laptop in one hand and with his other hand he holds a taut rope that is tied to something offstage.

Scottzo: (grandiloquently) Greetings fellow travellers through the Unknown! It is I, your benevolent friend and collaborator, hub and circumference, foundation stone and roof tile, webmaster and web-equal, alpha male and omega point, a hunk of burning funk with extra horsepower in my trunk, hypertexted and oversexed, underappreciated, underfunded and under the influence, pioneer fictioneer, here, there, everywhere, expansive, expensive, impressive, aggressive, nimble, humble, known to grumble, sometimes stumble, always upright, never uptight, beer-drinker, cig-smoker, big thinker, weed-toker, coffee-swigger, hair-trigger, riprapping, zipzapping, lipflapping, toetapping, prone to be stoned, zoned on a bone, feverish as a dervish, devilish as a wish, seer of visions, typer of fissions, a tight ball of fusion, wrapped in seclusion, owner of Maestro patron of bistros, guide to writers, snide to blighters, lover of Brown and Coover's town, champion of electronic lit, defender of the chronic hit, born naked, living sacred, ascendent, transplendent, freeing blind minds from painful confinements with timely rhymely gainful assignments (to which I, Scottzo, will add any needed refinements)--(sees Guillespigon with bowl and lighter in hand) For me? But of course. (Grabs bowl and lighter from Guillespigon, sucks down the entire thing in one lung-busting hit, then tosses empty bowl and lighter aside.)

Guillespigon: You're welcome.

Scottzo: Ah, bosom buddy Guildenstern! So good to see you again . . .

Guillespigon: Guillespigon.

Scottzo: . . . to share a soulful bowl with your winsome, skinsome self, to breathe deep the restorative herbal combustibles . . . uh, what did you say?

Guillespigon: Guillespigon. My name is Guillespigon, not Guildenstern.

Scottzo: Uh, right, whatever. So, how goes it noble Guilden-, uh, Quillpen-, uh Killescargot?

Guillespigon: (exasperated) Guill-es-pi-gon. And it's not.

Scottzo: What's not?

Guillespigon: Oh my God, not you, too!

Scottzo: Now, now--no blasphemy! There's only one God, and though I realize there's a definite resemblence, I shouldn't be placed in His category just yet.

Guillespigon: (muttering) Good fucking Lord, can no one rid me of this idiocy?

Scottzo: I heard that and now I am forced to scold you: you should be ashamed! Commenting on a deity's sex life like that, tsk tsk tsk. On the other hand, what a marvelous spontaneous rhyme: rid me / idiocy. I love it! I used to be a poet, you know, gave it up for fiction, but occasionally I return to the genre and allow it to bask in my reflected glory. I must save that rhyme. Hold that pose, while I turn on my laptop.

Scottzo begins fiddling with his computer, though clearly he is having some difficulties. Vladirkimir edges closer to Guillespigon.

Vladirkimir: (softly, so as not to disturb Scottzo) He seems vaguely familiar. Is he part of the Unknown project?

Guillespigon: He used to be. Lately, though, he's been spending most of his time asking wealthy people to give him money for things that don't exist yet.

Vladirkimir: What kind of things?

Guillespigon: I'd rather not get into it.

Vladirkimir: Gwiwi, have you noticed the rope?

Soon after Scottzo's entrance, the rope's angle relative to the stage has been changing, as though whatever it is attached to had begun climbing up to an unseen catwalk above the stage and then begun moving towards the center. By the time Scottzo drops his end to work with his computer the rope hangs perfectly perpendicular behind him.

Guillespigon: That's Scottzo's dog writer, Franky. . .

Vladirkimir: Oh, I love dogs. (reflects a moment) I didn't know they could be taught to write.

Guillespigon: He's not a dog, you nimrod. He writes about dogs.

Vladirkimir: Oh. (Pause.) Why's he on a leash, then?

Guillespigon: I'm not sure exactly, but there have been rumors of a Krass-Mueller Connection.

Vladirkimir: A what?

Guillespigon: Forget it.

Vladirkimir: Have you ever seen him?

Guillespigon: Krass-Mueller?

Vladirkimir: No, Franky.

Guillespigon: It's been a long time. Occasionally, I wonder if I shall ever see him again.

Vladirkimir: So you'd like to?

Guillespigon: Yes. For one thing, he's a real babe magnet.

Vladirkimir: Women like dogs. Particularly the small cute ones. And puppies.

Guillespigon starts to reply, thinks better of it; instead, he retrieves the bowl and lighter, finds the proper canister, loads the bowl, and is about to smoke when . . . Scottzo closes his laptop, sees what Guillespigon is about to do and . . .

Scottzo: (loudly) Ah, the refreshing rigors of writing, the exuberant exhiliration of ex nihilo extraction! For me? But of course. (Grabs the bowl and lighter from Guillespigon, fills his lungs, and, again, tosses the lighter and empty bowl aside.) So, Killjoyboy, what do you think of your new assignments?

Guillespigon: I don't know because . . .

Scottzo: Because they're for the Unknown!!! (laughs loud and long) Get it? Don't know / Unknown? (continues laughing, then very seriously) You know, sometimes I really don't understand why I'm not extremely rich . . . ah well. In any case, as you were saying, Woebegone . . .

Guillespigon: (through gritted teeth) As I was saying, I don't know what to think about the new assignments because I HAVEN'T SEEN THEM YET. YOU HAVEN'T GIVEN THEM TO ME WHICH MAKES IT RATHER DIFFICULT TO HAVE AN OPINION.

Scottzo: Whoa, there, Quohogonwondaland, you're saying you haven't seen the new assignments?

Guillespigon: Exactly.

Scottzo: Well, why didn't you just say so? (Searches for and finds the rope which he yanks violently while yelling) Franky! Franky! Where are those assignments? Cough'em up, you fleabag!

After a brief pause, a several sheets of paper flutter down from above.

Scottzo: There you go, Guildedlilybonbon. Wish I could stay and chew the fat, hit the mat, quaff a brew, and stir the stew, but I'm way behind schedule and have people to meet, e-mail to answer, schmoozing, boozing, bruising, cruising, etc. etc. etc. and other complicated things you simply could not possibly understand. So get to work and I'll see you again . . . sometime.

Exit Scottzo, rope in hand. A long, long silence during which the author of this section falls asleep.

Vladirkimir: Well, that was . . . interesting.

Guillespigon: May you live in interesting times.

Vladirkimir: Should we look at the new assignments?

Guillespigon: (obviously discouraged, disgusted, dismayed, depressed) Be my guest.

Vladirkimir: Now?

Guillespigon: When else?

Vladirkimir: Tomorrow?

Guillespigon: If you wish.

Vladirkimir: Tomorrow then. Tomorrow it will end.

Guillespigon: If you say so.

Vladirkimir: Shall we smoke?

Guillespigon: (with a sigh) Sure. There should be something left.

Vladirkimir: I'll check.

Guillespigon: Thank you.

Neither move.




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