*** ‘Vignette City’ is an ongoing project of daily writing and urban photography ***
I was out hiking with my friend Viv, who had been going through some stuff. I thought that maybe she could use a break and some clean air, so we went up the side of a mountain and we were quite a long time, just puffing and grunting on the way up. Then she started to tell me about a one-act play she wrote. It was about people who could only feel their feelings for ten seconds.
“They could still remember that they had felt them,” Viv said, “but they couldn’t really feel them anymore, you know?”
She started to tell me about it:
The FATHER comes home and he’s holding a dead cat and he says, Everyone I just ran over our cat and I feel terrible about it.
And the DAUGHTER says, Oh no my cat Schrodinger is dead and my father killed him! I hate my father! I hate him!
The FATHER says, I am so ashamed and I feel so guilty.
The DAUGHTER takes the body of the cat and starts to cry on the floor.
Then the MOTHER comes in and she says, What is going on in here?! Why is my daughter sobbing on the floor with her cat, which is dead?
But the FATHER, his ten seconds are up and he doesn’t feel bad anymore.
The FATHER says, I ran over the cat with my car just now.
The MOTHER is angry and pounds on his chest: Why? Why? did you run over that cat? You know it is the only thing she loves!
But now the DAUGHTER’s ten seconds are up. The DAUGHTER says: I did love my cat but he is dead now and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. I will go back to watching TV.
Then the SON comes downstairs: Why is everyone being so loud down here? Can’t a teenage boy quietly masturbate in his room in peace?
The MOTHER screams: Your father killed the cat!
FATHER: That is a true statement; I did.
The SON is upset now: But I loved that cat! Why are you trying to hurt me?!
The MOTHER, her ten seconds are up now: Do not yell at your father. It was clearly an accident.
FATHER: Yes, you are not allowed to yell at me and must be punished. Go get a switch from the willow tree.
SON: I hate you!
The FATHER and MOTHER and DAUGHTER all sit on the couch watching TV and with the dead cat still on the floor.
The SON returns with a switch but his ten seconds are up now too: Here father, I have brought a switch so that you can punish me appropriately.
The SON pulls his pants down and bends down to stick his ass in the air and the FATHER begins to beat him with it.
The FATHER actually hates doing this and starts to cry and so does the SON because his ass is flaming red now.
Then the doorbell rings and the MAIL MAN is standing there: I brought your mail because that is my job.
The MOTHER rushes to the door, she is blushing and it is obvious that she has been having an affair with the MAIL MAN. The MOTHER is overwhelmed with lust and kisses the MAIL MAN and he starts groping her in the doorway.
By now the SON has stopped crying and pulled his pants up.
The FATHER drops the switch and rushes to the doorway: Hold on there now, that is my wife and you can’t touch her like that!
MAIL MAN: Yes but I love her and I hate you!
The MOTHER: It is true, we are in love with each other and you never understood me!
The HUSBAND is so angry that he punches the MAIL MAN in the face, but the MAIL MAN’s ten seconds are up and so he just cups his bleeding nose.
The MAIL MAN says: You had every right to do that and I apologize for being inappropriate. Here, please take your mail. There are some bills in there.
The MOTHER’s time is up too and she buttons her blouse and says: Yes, I was wrong to fall in love with him.
The FATHER is still fuming and says: I hate that in a few seconds I won’t be angry anymore!
Then the FATHER’s ten seconds are up and he glances down at the mail and says: The electric bill has come.
“And that’s when the lights fade to black.”
Viv and I just kept on hiking up. We had almost reached the summit.
After a while until she said, “I guess it’s all in the delivery.”
We reached the top and turned to look out across everything we had risen out of. It was a wide and stunning blue and gray view out over the civilized world, where all her problems were.
She said, “I think that it is supposed to be about how the stuff that makes life unbearable might actually be the stuff that makes it worth living. I don’t know.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I just said, “I would go to see that play.”