an uncertain ache
(an extremely loose adaptation of A Slight Ache by harold pinter)
(an extremely loose adaptation of A Slight Ache by harold pinter)
(flora seaching for edward all over the house, calling out his name, increasingly exasperated. he is crouching behind the piano, looking out the window at the matchseller. eventually decides to peek behind the piano and is surprised to find him back there.)
FL<<< edward? jesus, what are you doing back there? didn’t you hear me calling?
ED<<< I’m sorry, honey, I did, yes, I was just…I’m sorry…I was in the middle of something…
FL<<< maybe it’s best that I not know what you were doing…
ED<<< oh, no- no big deal, honey- it wasn’t anything…dirty…I…I was just…uh…looking for some papers…I’m trying to get together some notes...got a new project in mind…well, technically, I guess it’s an old project...abandoned, you know- but I was thinking recently that maybe it deserved a fresh look-
FL<<< well, I dug out the canopy and I was trying to get it set up…some of the poles aren’t fitting together quite right …didn’t you see me out there?...I was trying to be nice, setting this up for you...
ED<<< baby, I didn’t see you…I heard you, yes, but I didn’t see you, I promise…I’ve been rooting around back here...searching...
FL<<< since when have you been keeping loose papers behind the piano?
ED<<< (flustered) flora, there’s no need to...look, just let me have my little methods...do you remember that piece I was working on about the space/time continuum...the one I might try getting up on karl’s new blog?
FL<<<…huh…I’m not really…remembering…
ED<<< well, look, I barely mentioned it…in fact...maybe I didn’t mention it…
FL<<< you don’t mean the chimp story, do you?
ED<<< the what?
FL<<< the chimpanzee dialogue?
ED<<< oh…um, I’m putting that aside for a little…the ending got a little bit...I don’t know...too disgusting…
FL<<< sure, but didn’t we agree that that was what aaron’s readers were looking for? (pause) god, why else would I have sent him that photo sequence of the paper boy throwing rolled up pieces of raw meat and animal parts onto people’s front doorsteps? while they’re inside pressing orange juice and griddle cakes?
ED<<< hey- I thought that was a brilliant commentary on the rupture with media...(“oh please, edward”)...besides, that ridiculous chimp story wasn’t intended for aaron…it was more of a…I don’t know…personal exercise…
FL<<< I thought we had both decided to stop doing those for awhile-
ED<<< well, you’re right…I guess we had...but…I don’t know…I guess I’m still a little worked up.
FL<<< (pause) you know- fuck aaron’s blog- I know it was me who urged you to try it- but I was wrong, ok? it isn’t worth it...it’s even counter-productive, I think...to both of us...really...that’s not the sort of audience I think we’re trying to reach...
ED<<< (pause) what sort of audience are we trying to reach, then?
FL<<< (exasperated) I don’t know...I don’t know...that’s partly what I’m trying to do here...(gesturing to her mess)...to narrow down...to determine...to try and see the thing in its own light for once...
ED<<< it’s own light? what do you mean, flora?
FL<<< (still exasperated) I don’t know! (pause) if I understood I would tell you! so many of these pieces...they have no relationship with each other...no relationship with me, or anyone else for that matter...detritus...driftwood...
ED<<< but flora- wait- driftwood is a beautiful thing...besides...you’re not being fair...there is a very tangible relationship...a very tangible..arc...of development...
FL<<< (sarcastically) an “evolution”, perhaps?
ED<<< yes, a distinct evolution.
FL<<< how do you know it’s not de-volution?
ED<<< because I know you...I trust you...I’ve watched this thing happen...
FL<<< what thing?
ED<<< your collages...your photographs...
FL<<< (pause) my raw meat on the doorstep...
ED<<< look- there’s a place and a time for that...isn’t that what newspapers essentially are?
FL<<< (exhausted, faraway) I don’t know what newspapers are, edward...
ED<<< flora, I’ve come to a decision…ok?...I need to speak with that man…I’ve thought it all thru back here…there’s no more getting around it…I need to exchange a few words with him…is that all right with you?
FL<<< edward, really?…what do you think needs to be said?
ED<<< it’s just too absurd, flora! too absurd! in plain sight, all of this time! I really can’t tolerate something so…absurd…right here on our property! besides, he’s sold nothing all morning- as if that’s any surprise- only one person passed by- a young woman walking her dog- she didn’t look like a smoker, or camper, or arsonist- that seemed pretty obvious, but he could at least have inquired- but he made no move- no effort! he just stood there- stock still, as always. no effort to clinch a possible sale! no effort to even be neighborly! his one chance, all morning, and he does absolutely nothing about it- (pause) look, I haven’t been wasting my time back here- don’t worry- and I certainly wasn’t doing whatever you seemed to imply…for god’s sake……no, I’ve realized something back here- he’s not a matchseller at all- ok? he’s an impostor, pure and simple! I’ve been watching extraordinarily closely. I’ve studied his appearance very closely...every nook and cranny, as it were... I would have studied his movements as well, but guess what? there weren’t any! “matchseller”- how ridiculous to go on calling him by that title- what a farce! In any case, I think it’s time he go and ply his trade somewhere else. the sidewalk, the bikepath- we’ve already been over it. these are some things I think the matchseller needs to hear for himself- look, I’d be doing him a favor- sometimes people who own and operate their own business lose sight of the everyday, minor details- I can tell, it’s all “big picture” with this particular guy-
FL<<< (laughing) so you think you can help him muddle thru those details, huh?
ED<<< you know…this might sound crazy, but I think it might be better if I talked to him here…in the house. I think it would help us all come to a clear understanding…
FL<<< well…I doubt if you’d even be able to get him to come into the house…
ED<<< yeah…I thought about that…I wonder... I wonder if it might be better if you went out and invited him…
FL<<< me? but this is your big idea-
ED<<< well, baby, maybe it would be better if we both tried to talk to him…
FL<<< look…I’ve already told you I don’t think there’s any problem here whatsoever.
ED<<< I don’t know, I just really need to see where this guy stands- I mean, obviously, I can literally see where he stands- but you know what I mean- look, flora, neither of us want to have to bring the authorities into this situation- it may or may not be appropriate. but admit it- the guy could probably be charged with some kind of loitering or public nuisance type thing…
FL<<< no, we definitely don’t want to go down that road-
ED<<< exactly- that’s why we need to make him comfortable, let him see and understand that we’re reasonable people- relatively good-hearted and neighborly people. we mean well.
(they both look out the window together at the matchseller, inquisitive and shaking their heads. finally flora speaks)
FL<<< ok, edward, I guess we could give this a shot...
ED<<< oh, really flora? really? thank you so much. so much. (watches flora go to the window, opening it) wait, what are you doing?
FL<<< I think it might be best if I interact with him through the window- that way I give him plenty of space...
ED<<< yes, good idea, good idea...he does strike me as a man accustomed to quite a bit of personal space...(smiling and shaking his head)
FL<<< (pause) and you wanna do this right now?
ED<<< yeah- who knows when he might slip away-
FL<<< somehow I don’t think that’s our most pressing concern- [flora waves a little from the window. no response. waves a little more vigorously. no response]
FL<<< he’s not responding.
ED<<< ok- why not try calling out to him?
FL<<< (calling out the window in a slightly raised tone of voice) sir? hello- sir? can you hear me? over here, sir, in the window- hello, it’s me flora myers- over here- I’m calling out to you from a window- silly of me, I know, but can you hear me? (pause) (to ED) I’m not sure if he can hear me.
ED<<< I think he hears you. keep going. invite him in for some kind of refreshment…isn’t that what neighbors usually do?
FL<<< (back out the window) sir? would you like to come inside for some coffee or juice, maybe? take a little break? we were just starting to think about lunch- you could join us if you’d like- after seeing you for awhile now outside our window we think it’s finally time that we were introduced properly. how’s about a few minutes break inside? (to ED) hmm.
ED<<< keep trying. keep trying.
FL<<< (back to matchseller) hey, what if I possibly bought a few boxes of matches off you? we seem to have run out completely! fancy that! we usually like to keep a large stock on hand. I’ll even pay double whatever you usually charge…what do you think? or maybe you would like to get off your feet and watch a little tv? use the computer?...(pause)… or do you care for music, sir? yes? please, we have all sorts of wonderful music!! oh yes, yes, please come in, sir, yes, yes… (to ED- I think he’s coming!!!)…that’s right, sir, please keep coming- oh, thanks so much for accepting our invitation…just keep coming towards the house- go around the corner there and I’ll meet you at the side door- wonderful- hello, hello, so pleased to meet you, my name is flora myers and welcome- [goes to the side door and opens it. matchseller slowly walks up the steps] that’s right, sir, come on in- please- do come in for a little- my husband and I felt it was high time that we made your acquaintance- edward? edward? he’s here, edward! hold on, sir, I want you to meet my husband edward as well...hold on.
[edward has taken a seat in the “study.” flora comes into the main room looking for him and has to call several times before noticing him]
FL<<< edward- where are you? edward? jesus, edward where are you? our guest has arrived! edward? oh- you’re in here- why don’t you respond when I’m calling to you? what are you doing here?
ED<<< sorry, it just seems like the right place to have a discussion like this- I’m a little anxious, flora, but look, I’m ready to speak with him one on one for several minutes so go ahead and lead him in here if that’s alright and then I’ll call you in after that…(she gives him a suspicious look)…look, it will be fine…we’ll be fine…sometimes it’s just better if I can meet with people one on one-
FL<<< fine, fine- I’ll let him know that you’re in here-
ED<<< thanks so much, baby- I have a really good feeling about this.
(flora leaves to retrieve the matchseller. returns to kitchen and approaches the matchseller)
FL<<< hello, sir. again, my name is flora myers- may I ask your name? (pause, no response) can I get you anything to drink? (pause, no response) perhaps a little water? yes, maybe a little water? (goes and gets a glass of water. brings it back, hands it to the matchseller-) here you are, sir. (after a few seconds, he looks down at the glass of water, and slowly reaches out and takes it. he looks directly at flora for several seconds, then back at the water glass, then slowly raises it to his mouth and drinks it down in one gulp. he hands the glass back to her. she takes it)
FL<<< could I introduce you to my husband edward? he’s just back there in the study. right this way sir, please- I might get a little lunch started out here and then join you 2 in a couple of minutes- how does that sound? is that ok? this way, sir- (she tentatively puts a hand on his back and slowly walks with him down the hall to the door of the study. edward gets up and approaches him cautiously)
ED<<< well, hello, sir- please come in. [matchseller takes a few hesitant steps into the room] that’s right, sir- thanks for coming- please make yourself at home for awhile- this neighborly meeting has been way too long in coming, I feel. well, you’re here now, sir. welcome. can I get you something to drink? please, sit down…sit down…please, make yourself comfortable…an ale? a tonic water? my wife just made a fresh batch of kombucha- some whiskey perhaps? maybe just good old fashioned tap water? please, speak up, sir- don’t be shy- please sit down, sir, sit down- surely you need a rest after so much standing about…(pause)…I try to invite neighbors over on a fairly regular basis. we used to have official neighborhood associations- maybe you were also around in those days? hard to say why they folded exactly…maybe there was too much activity? who knows. maybe there wasn’t enough! The east mifflin friendship and community institute. now it’s all just private individuals, more or less, leading their own private existences. maybe private families as well. sure, sure, I try to reach out when I can. sir, please, sit yourself down for a moment! but I don't know- maybe it’s just that same craze for activity. people never even close to being satisfied with their amount of activity. and then they complain that they don’t have enough time anymore- yeah, these neighborhood associations- I think that on the whole we’re probably quite a bit worse off without them…so I just reach out spontaneously- kind of like what’s happening now- I don’t really know you, correct? I mean, sure, I’ve seen you around- have you been in the area long? it seems like I would have remembered you- have you been on some kind of voyage, perchance? have you recently returned from some kind of voyage? (pause) I’ve read about people like you…lives full of adventure, uncertainty…please sir, I must insist…it’s not right that you should just stand there, like that, while I’m here at my ease, in this armchair…take a seat...please, any chair in here is fine…you’ll notice a certain variety…well, why not? our sitting behaviors change throughout the course of a day- a person deserves a little choice in this area- so by all means, sir, please sit down…(pause)…like when I’m writing for instance- hard at work here at this table, on a hard chair, straight back, no messing around in the slightest- but I take short breaks from time to time, want to lean back and reflect on what’s happening- hence the couch- sometimes I even stretch out full length and just gaze out thru the window- before I know it, 2 hours have passed- I return to my table- there’s a creative cycle at work here…you probably know what I’m talking about…I tend to write theological and philosophical essays- I’m sorry, but that’s just the sort of person I am- go ahead and laugh, if you like sir- I won’t take it personally- I’ve gradually come to expect and even appreciate that sort of reaction- go ahead, sir- it’s funny! theology and philosophy are the province of clowns! now and again I’ll try my hand at a piece of nature or travel writing. don’t ask me where it comes from. I guess I’ve always had a soft spot for good old mother nature. I’ve known a few people to disappear into uncharted wilderness. gives one a certain perspective, perhaps. animal, vegetable, mineral. and then of course there are the vapors, the ethers, the phosphenes...I’ve heard that in the Gobi desert one comes across some very strange sights indeed. never been there myself. did a little poking around on the internet. nothing was clarified by that, though...more the opposite, really…you strike me as someone who has avoided this infernal smart phone/computer addiction…(long pause)…so…do you live in the neighborhood? I don’t get out as much as I used to…ever since the institute folded…man, was that ever a sad day for Madison…you strike me as possibly being one of those free spirit types- drifters, they were called in the old days, I believe- I prefer the term “free-spirit types”- well, whatever the case, let me tell you- you won’t find a better run, prettier, and more magical city than this one. I may be in the minority these days when it comes to an assessment like this, but I stand by it, sir. a solid and reliable town. all sorts of people taking a very close interest in nature. yes. a deep affection for nature…(pause) sir, just to be clear- can you hear me?...(pause)…sir, could you give me some sign that you hear me?...(pause)…wow…extraordinary composure for a man of your age- well, maybe that’s not quite the right word….christ, you won’t even sit down…but I suppose that’s part of the…calm, I guess…resignation, perhaps…you seem like a fairly resigned human being…is that fair?...resigned to whatever life brings you?...living in the moment, so to speak…like the books are always talking about…maintaining silence and calm in all situations…again, that’s just what I read in these books…I’m working on one of my own, believe it or not…trying to grapple with the concept of the space/time continuum…was actually planning to work on it for most of today…every now and then I work out in the garden, at a card table, under an umbrella if necessary…I was working on a satirical piece about a couple of chimps, but it got a little bit out of hand…needed to clear my head…you now, it got a little bit…filthy…do you understand what I’m saying, sir?...I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you spent most of your life in close company with high caliber books…just a hunch…something about your powers of concentration…I don’t know…I don’t really like to talk about “intuition”, but there’s something about you, sir- you know, I think I know where you’re coming from- yes, I really think I understand what you’re getting at…you know, I was in much the same position that you appear to be in at present…I mean sales, of course…for awhile…yes, quite a thankless profession…I was a door to door salesman…perhaps a little more aggressive than you…but nonetheless, it got me nowhere…in fact, worse than nowhere…the company left me behind in a small town in Kentucky…just near the edge of a massive nature preserve…that’s when I picked up some of my intimate knowledge…but still…I wouldn’t go back and do it again, that’s for sure…(long pause) sir, do you harbor any kind of appreciation for nature? (pause) silly question, I’m sorry…look, will you at least have a little refreshment? we have a fresh gallon of unpasteurized milk. yes, that’s right. the neighbor boy marcus milked his cow and brought it around here this morning. there’s also a new brew from New Glarus- some sort of summer-based pilsner- ginger ale, perhaps? I could brew you some tea or some coffee? sir, please- it would be no trouble at all! on the contrary- it would be a bona-fide pleasure! flora will probably be calling us out to lunch any minute- you look a little bit hot- why don’t you take off that poncho? (pause) well, it’s your decision, of course. (pause) say, do you mind if I ask a somewhat personal question? (pause) I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but…aren’t you rather in the wrong location for matchselling? I mean, I know it’s peaceful back there, and there is the occasional stroller…but still…those aren’t the people who are usually in the market for matches…of course, I understand there’s a lot more noise and commotion up front…traffic, accidents, gas fumes, the occasional robbery…ridicule…but nonetheless, sir, I just can’t see you making a go of it back there…sir, I hope this doesn’t come off as rude- but is that a glass eye you’re wearing? sir, at least take your poncho off- it’s way too warm in here for that…please, put your tray down, have a seat, allow me to get you some kind of refreshment…I’m not going to force anything on you, but still…say, can I have a quick look at your product? [gets up and slowly moves over to the matchseller] I know a thing or two about matches, believe it or not. wow…these boxes are all wet…sir…do you realize that most of these are covered with fungus?...no wonder you’re not making any sales…sir, you have to take better care of your product! there’s a lot of competition out there…I know you don’t need me to tell you that...[sits back down]…sir, I’m going to be very blunt with you now- I simply cannot understand why you refuse to sit down! there are three very comfortable chairs at your disposal, not to mention the couch. I can’t talk to you leisurely- I can’t even really talk to you honestly- that’s a harsh thing to say, I know, but you’re not being particularly helpful. man, the sweat’s pouring off of you! you must remove that ridiculous poncho! sir, what if I bring a chair over to you and guide you gently down into it? doesn’t that seem like the best possible outcome? yes, you agree, then. sensible person. stubborn, but good, sound sense all the same. ok. [gets up and performs operation] very good. what a relief. ok. I feel much more relaxed now…maybe you do as well, sir…[edward returns to his seat- long pause] hey- didn’t flora mention the idea of maybe listening to a little music? I think that might be the perfect thing at this moment- let me see what we have here- [scanning the discs and cassettes] oh- here’s something I think you might enjoy- yes- the neighbor boy marcus is in a little brass band with some of the other kids in the neighborhood- they play at birthday parties, sometimes, street festivals, you know- that kind of thing- he plays trombone, I think- anyway, he just dropped this cd off a few days ago- I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’m sure it’s pretty enjoyable- I think they’re really quite good for second and third graders- lets give it a listen, shall we? [puts on ben frost’s halibjuska for about 4 minutes. they listen in silence.]
ED<<< yeah- really talented youngsters- let’s hope they stick with it- brass bands aren’t necessarily the fashionable thing nowadays- (long pause)..say- I’m gonna go check on flora- see if maybe lunch is close to happening- you’ll be ok here? you sure? I’ll be right back- you sure I can’t get you anything? no? ok- be right back-
[goes off looking all over for flora, calling her name, muttering- eventually finds her crouched behind the piano- she is wearing a fancy dress and makeup. she seems to be very faraway and disoriented]
ED<<< jesus, flora- what are you doing back here? why didn’t you answer me?
FL<<< two can play at that game, hun.
ED<<< ok, but what are you doing?
FL<<< the exact same thing you were-
ED<<< but…I was looking for some papers…
FL<<< and did you find them?
ED<<< well, no…they didn’t turn up…I must have filed them away somewhere else…
FL<<< (pause) what an interesting coincidence…
ED<<< what do you mean?
FL<<< I too must have filed my papers away somewhere else…
ED<<< what papers, honey? look, the matchseller…I’m not sure/////what else to
FL<<< oh, you know…official papers…identification certificates…old diaries...radish seeds...
ED<<< certificates? radish seeds? flora, what in god’s name are you talking about?
FL<<< I made some errors, edward. I’m realizing this only just now. I think I made some pretty serious mistakes out there in the garden-
ED<<< the garden? what are you talking about? why are you acting so weird? flora, I really need some help with the matchseller! I’m having a hard time getting thru to him- he seems a little hesitant to open up about his profession…
FL<<< (she starts stacking bricks up around her body) did you give him any advice?
FL<<< (continues placing the bricks around her) you shared your concerns?
ED<<< well, as many as seemed appropriate, given his reticent nature…where did those bricks come from, honey? (pause) what are you doing, exactly? anyways, flora, I think I may have jumped to a couple conclusions- he’s pretty...unusual…(pause)…did you change your clothes, by the way?
FL<<< (suprised) no- why do you ask?
ED<<< I don’t know- something seems a little bit different…
FL<<< you know, edward…you’re right…something does seem a little bit different…
ED<<< honey, I can tell something is bothering you, and we’ll talk about it as soon as we can, ok?…but right now the matchseller is here, in our house, and I’m not sure what to do next!
FL<<< well edward, I’m not sure, either…
ED<<< you don’t want to join me in there with him? maybe we should offer him lunch?
FL<<< edward, I thought you had the matchseller all figured out...besides, I told you already…I’m missing some very important papers and documents- and I have no idea where they might have been filed away- I need to find them, ok?!? you probably think they’re just nostalgic old photographs- like my canteen, or the needlepoint- just keeping them around for purely sentimental reasons...well, you’re wrong, edward. if I don’t find these things and discover the pattern beneath them- well- I’m worried that you might not ever see me again-
ED<<< (pause) what in god’s name are you talking about?!? this isn’t funny, ok? you need to snap out of whatever is going on here...
FL<<< I agree, edward- it’s not particularly funny...I know that’s how we prefer things...
ED<<< flora…honey...why are you having this problem right now? I mean, I’m not saying that it isn’t a serious problem- on the contrary- you’re really freaking me out here- we’ll look for your papers, we’ll find them, everything will just get back to normal…but honey, right now we have a little situation on our hands, I’m afraid… if you could just help me clear things up with this guy, we could probably get him to leave, and then we could totally focus on your missing papers and photographs- and whatever else seems to be missing- your rhinestone belt, the canteen, whatever...
FL<<< (drops all the papers she’s scrambling through in a confused pile, and sits absently for a while) ok, ok, I’ll go talk to him....
ED<<< oh, honey, thank you, thank you so much! (crouches down and hugs her) should we go in there together?
FL<<< no, no...I think I would prefer to go in alone.
ED<<< ok, I understand…you want me to wait here by the piano?
FL<<< (pause) no…listen here...why don’t you go out back and start some preliminary sketches for the map you were talking about…
ED<<< but flora...I need you there for that…I have no idea what’s back there…I wouldn’t know where to start…
FL<<< just start with the diagrams…ok?... the visual images…the plants themselves…we’ll fill in the names and histories later…
ED<<< are you sure?
FL<<< sure about what?
ED<<< sure you want to go in there without me?
FL<<< edward…he’s harmless, remember?
ED<<< yeah, yeah, that’s right…but…I don’t know…now that I’ve actually met him…
FL<<< what? he isn’t so harmless?
ED<<< no, no- he’s entirely harmless-
FL<<< so what’s the big deal then?
ED<<< nothing, flora- I just want to make sure that…
ED<<< that we…I don’t know…are…supporting each other here…
FL<<< oh...I think maybe we’re doing something like that…
ED<<< (pause) are you ok, flora?
FL<<< I don’t know, edward…there’s quite a bit out of place at the moment-
ED<<< yeah, I agree, baby- I get it-
FL<<< no edward, I’m afraid that you don’t…
ED<<< hey! now what’s that supposed to mean?
FL<<< it means that you simply don’t get it…it’s useless trying to explain anything to you because you still wouldn’t get it…explaining something to a person like you usually just makes everything worse…because then you think that you get it, and as a result are even further from actually getting it…
ED<<< flora, wait a second- c’mon- does anyone ever actually get it?
FL<<< (pause) no, probably not- but at least some people acknowledge it-
ED<<< look, flora- OK- I’m acknowledging it now! I don’t get it! OK? I really and truly don’t get it!
FL<<< (pause) and does the matchseller get it?
ED<<< no, I don’t think that he gets it either-
FL<<< and what makes you say that?
ED<<< (flustered) look, didn’t we just agree that nobody actually gets it?
FL<<< I’m not sure what we agreed on-
ED<<< look- this is what we agreed on- I’ll go out to the garden and start a few sketches in pencil- you go into the study and try talking a little sense into the matchseller- after he’s gone we’ll start working thru these...issues of yours...ok?...this can still be a good day, flora! we just need to focus right now.
[flora gets up, somewhat wearily, does a few deep breaths and stretches]
ED<<< c’mere- give me a hug
[he hugs her warmly, she hugs him wearily. edward bustles around for a minute or so, gathering his sketching materials- flora does a few more deep breaths and stretches-
ED<<< ok, good luck, honey- see you in a little- call back if you need me- [she doesn’t respond and does a few more deep breaths and stretches. then she composes herself and walk into the study. knocks on the door or the wall]
FL<<< hello- matchseller? do you mind if I come in for a second? my husband ran out to check on some things in the garden…I don’t know…wow, I wonder what you thought of my husband…don’t worry, he’s out in back...we can speak entirely openly…a little high strung…don’t you think? it’s not always so obvious…in fact, he’s so high strung that a lot of times he essentially shuts down altogether- people sometimes think he’s really calm and collected…oh well…you can reach your own conclusions, I’m sure...(pause and looking at matchseller)…well I’d like you to know right off the bat, matchseller, that I’ve made some pretty serious errors…I know it probably doesn’t matter, but I still want to be honest with you- ok? can I do that? I’ve made some unbelievable errors…I don’t know…maybe to someone like you they wouldn’t seem so surprising…I’m not saying that they’re anything terribly unique…these errors, I mean…in fact, they’re extremely common…god, unbelievably common…it’s hard to know which is which sometimes, isn’t it?...really unique or really common- or both at the same time, or neither…(pause)...look, you’ll have to forgive me…I’ve been drowning in this crazy organization project all summer...trying to sort some things out…you must have done things like that once yourself...are you comfortable there? (pause) the sun is shining directly on you- wouldn’t you rather sit in the shade? (she sits down) it’s the longest day of the year, did you know that? (pause, looking at matchseller) yeah, I know...whoop-de-fucking-doo, right?...(pause) do you know, I’ve got a feeling that I’ve seen you before, somewhere…you weren’t by chance a policeman once? (pause, looking at him) sir, I say, you’re really perspiring, aren’t you? is it the heat? this small room? (cautiously goes over to him) may I? you don’t mind? (as she’s mopping his brow, she stops suddenly and falls to her knees next to him) tell me- this is crazy, but I’ve always wanted to ask you- do you have a girlfriend, by chance? have you ever? sir? do you even like women in that way? do you ever…I mean...think about women? (pause) I’m sure you must have been quite handsome at one time…(pause) sex, I suppose, means nothing to you anymore...lucky bastard...does it ever even occur to you that sex is a very vital experience for most other people? (she starts laughing) here I am talking to you like you’re some kind of alien life form...(leaning in closer)...tell me what love is…please…because I really don’t know anymore!...tell me some of your secrets, sir...please...could I just call you “barnabas”, maybe? would you mind that?...could I take your photograph, barnabus?...my god, something is falling into place, for a change (smiling hugely, maybe laughing)...something suddenly seems very obvious...simple...if I could just get a quick shot or two of you sitting in here …(goes and gets her camera, comes back and silently takes a few pictures) barnabas, thank you so much...something is finally clearing up for me here...that tattered poncho of yours...it reminds me a little of this old canteen I used to carry around as a girl...and your eyes sparkle like an old hair clip of mine that reminds me of when edward and I were first dating...what in god’s name is your story? who are you? (long pause....then reluctantly) I don’t suppose I could somehow convince you to...ah...take a photograph of me? there is something so present about you.....do you ever feel like you’re faking it?...simply faking your own life from beginning to end? do you understand? barnabus? would you please take my photograph? I would be so honored if you would just take my photograph! (hands the camera to the matchseller; matchseller slowly takes camera as if foreign object- looks at it intently- flora seats herself on the chair squarely in front of him with a deadpan look, and then the matchseller successfully takes a picture of flora. slowly sets camera down on floor as flora sits stock still looking at him.)
(90 second pause)
ED<<< hello- is anyone in there? flora? sir? are you in there? do you mind if I come in? oh, so you are here! so quiet! do you mind if I join you…did you two have some nice conversation?
ED<<< maybe you just enjoyed the general silence?...flora? honey?
ED<<< (cheerfully) ok, now- you two can’t gang up on me like this! haven’t I talked enough as it is?...flora?...sir?....is this some kind of experiment?...well, ok, then, 3 can play at this game as well…(he also falls uncomfortably silent for a minute or so)
ED<<< look, you two- this isn’t the way we planned out the morning- we all had our respective activities…so what? …look, I can’t do this…I know it’s probably a healthy thing…(to matchseller) the neighbor boy marcus taught us all about meditation…but I don’t know…right here, right now…in these particular circumstances…I’m sorry…can’t do it…I’m gonna let you guys just carry on without me…ok?…I understand…it’s a good and healthy activity…sir, it was really nice meeting you…maybe we’ll be seeing more of each other…honey, I’m headed back out to the garden- you two enjoy yourselves…[he gets up, shaking his head, paces around for 20 seconds, then turns to the audience and addresses them: I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, this really isn’t how we planned to wrap up our evening together……it was probably wrong of me to drag the matchseller into all this…and to take so many callous liberties with pinter’s exquisite original script…so…wow…I don’t really know what to say…thank you for coming, I guess…I hope you enjoyed yourselves…I really have no idea what those 2 have in mind next…[goes over and turns on koner’s topographie again, from the beginning, at mid volume. also turns off the light. says “goodbye” and disappears out the back door. flora and matchseller continue sitting silently until the voice, rain and birds come in at the 4 minute mark, at which point the matchseller gets up, turns off koner and turns on eno’s neroli again. he turns on the lights. the audience members get up from their chairs and start milling about]