* * *
[Because of the horrors experienced in the translation of WinoTime into French (La quille est bordel?), this last CM/P play, written in 1999, was conceived in both French and English as a way to make it translation-proof--however, this type of bilingual dramaturgy seems also to have guaranteed that it will be audience-proof.
Should you have access to a polyglot public and be interested in producing Nitro,
Bon courage!--mc ]
a new play
66, rue Marcelle
All Rights Reserved
A play in two acts & coda
* * *
~ A handsome woman in her late sixties.
~ Very pale, very thin. Yvonne’s son in his late thirties.
~A clochard in his late fifties.
~A small, dark, very pretty woman in her late twenties.
* * *
Beginning the evening of 15 April 1999 - Ending New Year’s Day 2000.
An apartment on the outskirts of Paris, and a nearby métro station.
The playwright would like to acknowledge his great debt to the
following writers, without the pillaging of whose brilliant artistic
and scientific works, this play would not have been possible:
Marcel Proust for À la recherche du temps perdu;
Celine for Mea Culpa; Jean Cocteau for Opium; and
Neville Hodgkinson for AIDS, The Failure of Contemporary Science.
Je veux remercier Marianne L’Henaff pour tous les magazines sur VIH.
Cette pièce est enfin pour Bettina, qui me dirige toujours vers la vie.
* * *
The departmentalization of mind is a means of abolishing
mind where it is not exercised ex officio, under contract.
It performs this task all the more reliably since anyone
who repudiates the division of labour -- if only by taking pleasure in his work -- makes himself vulnerable by its standards in ways inseparable from elements of his
superiority. Thus is order ensured: some have to play
the game because they cannot otherwise live, and those who
could live otherwise are kept out because they do not want
to play the game. It is as if the class from which
independent intellectuals have defected takes its
revenge, by pressing its demands home in the very
domain where the deserter seeks refuge.
Theodor Adorno on Proust-- Minima Moralia
* * *
La liberté d’expression est née sur les murs
Autrefois, il y avait dans le monde un nouveau cas de lèpre toutes les minutes.
C’était en 1998.
(The poster shows an African woman holding a baby. Both are poorly dressed and severely marked by the disease. )
31 Janvier 1999
Journée Mondiale des Lépreux
Fondation Raoul Follereau, BP 79 -- 75015 Paris
LIGHTS UP: The Stage is divided into Two Areas:
Larger Area SR is a bright, handsome old Paris apartment, on the rez-de-chaussée. A tall double window is UR; in front of it is a dining table set for three. DS of the table is a divan and an easy chair with a low coffee table between them. There are a lot of small objets d’art on the bar complex and bookcases UR & UC. The entrance to the rest of the apartment is DR, and the entrée is SL through the smaller area. The iron gate to the street is not seen but can be heard OSR, its loud clang announcing people’s entrances before they pass in front of the tall windows and go to the front door. The double window, with both panels open, looks out on a courtyard with several great trees. It is a Spring evening, and the light is that soft, chalky Parisien light. In the background can be heard street noises: evening traffic, kids horsing around. Inside the apartment a radio plays pop music, French and American, but mostly American, with an occasional interruption for news of ‘l’OTAN et Serbie’ and traffic reports mentioning the Périphérique and places like Porte des Lilas, Le Pré St Gervais, Porte d’Ivry, and Place d’Italie.
The Smaller Area SL is a métro platform with an uncomfortably configured metal bench. Above the bench is a long, dark-blue sign with white letters reading PIERRE CURIE. The light is much dimmer SL. R of the bench is one of those tall vending machines selling candy or soft drinks. L of the bench on the wall is a giant poster showing a Black mother and child, both badly scarred by leprosy, and proclaiming, ‘31 Janvier--Journée Mondiale des Lépreux’. The bench has some junky-looking shit on it: couple plastic shopping bags from LeaderPrice or ED’s, a nasty plastic sheet, and a piece of white paper with scraps of tobacco and cheese and baguette on it. On the ground in front of the bench are a broken-down pair of hard brown shoes and a nearly empty 2 liter plastic bottle of vin ordinaire.
Occasionally the lights on the SL area begin to flicker and then go to black indicating arrival of a train. After several moments they flicker back up as the train leaves. But there should not be the sound of the trains.
[YVONNE, a woman in her 60s, URC, standing motionless: She is tall, well turned out, even elegant. She is dressed to receive company in a very full, floor-length dress. But there is an imperceptible quavering, a trembling about her or within her that undermines her apparent poise--as if she were on the verge of spontaneous combustion.]
[A NON-SPECIFIC SOUND is heard: high-pitched, about one second in duration. It might be the phone ringing, it might be a car alarm, it might be a kid squealing, or it might be an electronic medical monitor.]
Train arrives SL. Lights flicker out.
[Yvonne does not react, does not move for SEVERAL BEATS after the high-pitched sound. Then she looks off R and holds the look for a TEN-COUNT, then returns to her original pose.]
[Voices are heard shouting outside in the street, but no words can be made out. Yvonne holds her original pose for a DOUBLE-TEN-COUNT, while--
Lights flicker back up SL.
--then she moves DS a couple steps and speaks:]
For a long time I used to go to bed early. . . . For a long time,
I used to go to bed early. For a long time I used to go to bed
early. . . Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure.
Go to bed. . . .--Sometimes, when I had put out my candle,
my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to
say “I’m going to sleep.” . . . Parfois, à peine ma bougie
éteinte, mes yeux se fermaient si vite que je n’avais pas
le temps de me dire: ‘Je m’endors.’ . . . For a long time I
used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out
my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not
even time to say “I’m going to sleep.” For a long time,--
Sometimes, when . . . I used to go to bed. (Pause) Go to bed
for a long time, sometimes,--early,--de bonne heure,--il n’y
aura plus de bonheur. (Pause) My eyes would close so
quickly . . . so quickly . . . so quickly that . . .--that I had not
even time . . . to say . . . “I’m going to sleep.” . . . “I’m going . . .”
Oh, my god. . . . “I’m going to sleep.” For a long time, a long,
long time . . . now. . . . My eyes would close so quickly--that!--
there was no time to say anything. . . . But you had no children.
No wife. You were as much alone at the end as at the beginning.
--More? . . . And you were a man,--are a man. God, why?
My memories come, unsought, in the night, on two legs, with
hard shoes, to kick in my door. No tea taken. No madeleines.
Thick arms to throw me against the wall, pin me to the wall,
breathe that soupy stink-breath in vile, crapulous word-lettes
that pucker your mouth. . . .--Awaiting your mother’s kiss--
Lights flicker out SL.
[OSR a PHONE RINGS once, and again, then is answered mechanically. We can make out neither the announcement nor the message being left. Yvonne does not react in any way. She waits until the call is finished, takes a TEN-COUNT, then continues.]
Lights flicker back on SL.
Most annoying of all: their tardiness. Never arrive when they
say they will. . . . So often unexpected . . . unwanted. Peut être
s’il me tuerais, je vais dormir bien enfin. Mon fils. Mon petit gosse.
Mon bébé. Mon chameau. Mon salaud. Ma vie d’enfer. . . .
Pourquoi le supplice? Il me tourmente? Je ne lui donnais
que la vie. Et maintenant, il veut éteindre la mienne.
Je ne peux pas imaginer comment c’est arrivé. Je
me rend folle--vachment dingue! Tous comme un rêve de
feu. --Et après une demie heure la pensée qu’il est à l’heure
de s’endormir m’aurait réveillé. . . La pensée qu’il me faut
dormir . . . la rêve du sommeil . . . le sommeil des rêves . . .
Il n’y aura plus du bonheur. . . La rêve, ce qu’était le grand
mensonge. . . . His French so much smarter than mine. Can
no longer hide there. . . . --From him, --with him from them.
The way we did. . . . ‘It’s just a corruption of an earlier language,
corruption of an older tongue.’ . . . I had to un-learn so much.
You were far ahead of me from the beginning. You knew the
Pont Neuf wasn’t the ninth bridge,--even when I insisted.
--Knew not to pronounce the E-N-T’s. You must have learned
from my mistakes. You must have depended on me once--
for something--things--you must have . . . must have, ah,--
must . . .--
[OSR the same non-specific, high-pitched ELECTRONIC SOUND is heard. Instantaneously, Yvonne runs OSR. As soon as she is OS, it stops. There are SEVERAL BEATS; then the SOUND begins again and continues for a TEN-COUNT. After it stops, Yvonne begins to scream with great anger and pain.]
Nom de fucking nom. Tuez-moi! Just fucking kill me!
Come on! Come on! . . . On y vas! Je m’en fous de tes
[Yvonne rushes back on stage, and goes directly R of the dining table and stares out the tall double window toward the street-gate (OR). After several beats, she takes a fork from a place setting at R of the table and begins to play with it: She runs it across a window pane; she runs it through her hair, and scratches herself with it. She bends it in half and replaces it on the table. She continues to stare out the window, not seeming to watch anything in particular.]
POP MUSIC ON THE RADIO CONTINUES UNDER THIS.
[Yvonne returns RC and resumes her original position.]
[After a TEN-COUNT, she speaks. As she speaks she moves DCR.]
Bringing the mind to stillness. (LONG PAUSE) Stillness.
(LONG PAUSE) Be still. . . . Still . . . still. . . . You can’t
touch me here. This is my place. (LONG PAUSE)
My private place. . . . Here I rest. . . . Je me respose là.
Ici . . . ici . . . ici . . . ici, ici,--Il faut que j’aille me reposer . . .
Ici. . . . Ici. . . . Ici . . . ici . . . ici, ici, ici, . . . ici . . . ici . . .
ici . . . ici. . . .--Ici! Ici! --ici . . . ici, ici, ici, . . . ici . . . ici . . .
ici . . . ici . . . ici . . . ici . . .--
Lights flicker off SL.
The PHONE RINGS. [Yvonne stops DRC and SCREAMS immediately. She does not move, but joins her scream to the ringing phone. Her scream continues into the SECOND RING and the announcement of the répondeur and stops to hear the message, which is immediately covered by the ELECTRONIC SOUND. Yvonne stands very still for a TEN-COUNT, then falls to her knees, her head bowed.]
[Yvonne does not move.]
Oh, . . . no.
[PHILLY, a very pale and very thin man in his late thirties, enters SR and stands just inside the door. He is smartly dressed in loose-fitting café au lait slacks, a sheer silk shirt with diamonds in two vertical rows on the front and cream-colored Italian loafers. He has beautiful shoulder-length brown hair pulled back into a pony tail, with a stud in his left ear. He looks at Yvonne, and his eyes never leave her.]
[At the same moment, Lights flicker on SL to reveal KARL, a filthy, broken-down clodo of about 55, pulling at his crotch as if he is trying to dry the piss inside his trousers. He is in stocking-feet, wearing a soiled, tattered grey suit, a filthy white shirt with a badly broken collar, and a tie with ducks on it. He is standing DL facing front, framed by the Leprosy poster. He addresses the folks on the opposite platform. His speech is so impaired by drink and chronic dementia that he is barely understood.]
aaaarrrrrrrrggggggggg! Mutilé moi. . . . Moi. . . . Quelles cons
là. . . . Ch’uis mutilé. . . . AAAAAARRRRRrrgh! AAAAAAARR-
RRRRR! . . . De guerre. Ch’uis mutilé moi. . . . MUTILÉ!
[He crosses to the bench to check on his shit. He continues to ‘act out’ his anger and hostility with a schizoid minimalism, sometimes to the opposite platform, sometimes to whomever is on his side of the tracks, and sometimes to the back wall, all punctuated with brief slashes from the plastic wine bottle. All this is contrapuntal to the action SR.]
(Quietly, but in great pain)
Aaaaahoooooowww. Not yet.
[Yvonne has curled up tight on her knees, in an ‘egg’ position, and she does not respond to anything. Philly slowly circles Yvonne.]
(This is under Philly’s next speech)
(Chanting like a gypsie beggar) S’iiiiiiiiiiiil voooooooouuuus
plaaaaaaîîîîîîîîîîîîîît. S’iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil voooooooouuuuuuus
plaaaaaaaaîîîîîîîîîîîîîît. ‘Scuuuuuuuuuuuusez-moi pooour
RRRRRRRGGGGGGGER!--S’iiiiiiiiiiiiil voooooouuuuuus plaît--
uuuuuuuuuuuuuneeeee petiiiiiiiiiiiiiteeee pièce, meeees
camarades-- (Falls silent)
[Philly has returned UR of Yvonne.] (Note: Philly never touches Yvonne, nor goes close enough to her that physical contact might accidently occur.)
I oughta kick your fuckin’ face in. . . . Huh? You want that?
Kick your ugly fuckin’ old face in. . . . Useless fuckin’ bitch.
. . . You’re a stinking old cum-bag. I oughta tear your
slobberin’, dick-suckin’ lips off. Pull your lyin’ tongue so
far out I can stick it up your blown-out, festering shit-hole.
All the filthy cocks you’ve had spewing in you, no wonder
you’re this pus-yellow bag of rotten meat--your heart pumps shit.
[He moves in closer to her carefully.]
I’m just going to open you up. . . . Gut you like the
bottom-feeding wang fish--the sewer carp you are.
I’ll carve your stinking heart out and show it to you--
feed it to you, make you eat that sump pump.
You are a shit-stinking sorry excuse for a woman.
[He opens his trousers and takes out his dick.]
(Ejaculation) Ch’uis mutilé moi.
I’m gonna hose the fleas off your mangy ass, bitch.
Clean you up before I cut you up. Piss on you.
Piss on your ugly fucking mug. Your saggy tits.
Useless fucking whore. Stinking cunt. . . .
(Ejaculation) Ch’uis mutilé de guerre moi.
[Yvonne begins to raise her head slightly.]
(Putting his dick away)
Fuck it! Waste of good piss.
[He begins walking away from her, but never takes his eyes off her.]
Fuck you. I wouldn’t walk across the street to piss up
your cheesy ass if your guts were on fire. . . . Just . . .
fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.
(Quieter) Quelles cons là.
[As Yvonne raises her head more and more, Philly exits DR.]
Lights flicker out SL.
After SEVERAL BEATS, the PHONE RINGS. [Yvonne gets up, as the répondeur answers the phone. Yvonne exits DR and picks up the phone, interrupting the announcement. We can barely make out what she is saying.]
Oui, allô--qui est-ce?. . . . Oui, oui, . . . Ça va, ça va, oui. . . .
Non, pas du tout. . . . Oui, oui, allez-y. . . . Je vous en prie.
Lights flicker up SL. [Karl has exited, but all his shit remains on bench.]
[Yvonne enters DR, she’s trying to compose herself. She goes to the radio and turns it off. As a second thought she turns it back on and changes the station to one playing classical music (Mozart). She checks out the dining table, going to L of table and taking the fork she bent and straightening it. She then stares OSR out the window. She turns back into the room, moves a few steps DS and holds for SEVERAL BEATS. She puts POP MUSIC back on the radio. She then turns and stares at the door SR. After SEVERAL BEATS, Philly enters just barely into the room and stares at Yvonne. The moment is held for a DOUBLE-TEN-COUNT, during which--]
Lights flicker out SL.
Quand la présence de quelqu’un te fait mal comme t’as
perdu un litre de plasma, evites-la cette présence.
Yeah? Fucking Burroughs, huh? Over-privileged
cocksucker--don’t care if he was a friend of yours.
How ‘bout Genet? Try, ‘J’encule La Mère de Dieu’.
[Philly and Yvonne hold on each for a long moment.]
You know what you need? . . . I know what you need.
[Yvonne breaks the hold and TURNS UP the radio. Then she locks back on Philly.]
Lights flicker back up SL. [Karl has re-entered and is standing by his shit. He stares down the platform directly at Philly and Yvonne. And CROSSLEY stands facing L working on a Palm Pilot. She is maybe 27 or 28, very small, thin, and pretty in a dark, Semitic way. She wears tight black slacks with a smartly cut velvet jacket with a red Aids ribbon pinned on the lapel, and carries a book bag on her shoulder. She also has a rather full backpack slung awkwardly across her chest.]
[Philly and Yvonne continue locked on each other--Yvonne’s face blank with terror.]
Only you know and I know. . . . I know . . . you know . . .
(while turning and exiting) I know . . . you know . . . I
know . . . you know . . . I know . . . you know . . .
SOUND of ‘THE MÉTRO MUSIC’ (Little glissando that precedes announcements) :
RATP VOICE (OS)
Votre attention, s’il vous plaît. Suite à un mouvement
social, le service sur la ligne une est interrompu entre
Charles de Gaulle-Etoile et La Défense. Merci de votre
[Crossley starts working the electronic agenda more vigorously.]
[Crossley suddenly makes an error that, perhaps, dumps all her information.]
AAAAAAH,--Oh, merde alors! Putain de truc. . . . Espèce de--
putain-- . . . de toxicomane-- . . . de motherfucking truc là!
(Continuing to stare off R) Doucement, doucement là!
On n’ peut pas concentrer là.
(Continuing to fuck with the agenda)
Oh, quelle putain de bordel de merde là.
[Yvonne slowly exits DR. Her expression does not change.]
(Even more enraged) MAMAN!!!
[Crossley fumbles her portable phone out of her backpack and starts punching it up. Karl continues to stare off R--He doesn’t look at Crossley.]
Ce genre d’appareil là ne marche pas dans métro, quoi?
Les portables ne sont pas bien sensible dans métro, quoi?
[Crossley ignores him and continues to work the cell phone.]
Pas possible d’attrapper un reseau dans métro. Les ondes
ne peuvent pas penetrer là dedans, quoi? Dans sous sol là.
(Giving up on phone and gathering her things)
Fuck this bullshit.
[Karl now turns toward Crossley.]
Vous êtes ricaine, pas vrai? On peut parler ricaine?
‘motherfucker? . . . bullshit, hein, motherfucker . . . ?’
Ça va? Ça va, Ma’m’selle bullshit motherfucker?
[Crossley exits hurriedly L. Karl follows for one or two steps, then turns to his audience on the other platform.]
Cette jolie fille là, c’est la princesse de AAAAAAAARRRR-
RGGH. Une véritable princesse là. La petite fille de mon très,
très cher ami le Baron ChaaaaAAARRRRRLLLLAA-
AARRRRGGGHHHH. . . . C’est pas des conneries. Vous
crétins. C’est pas de ‘motherfucker bullshit’ là. Du côté de
. . . Mon camarade le Baron, il est aussi mutilé de guerre,
comme moi. Il a perdu les deux jambes et les deux bras
et les deux oreilles et les deux yeux. Mais seulement
une couille. Il a eu de la chance là? Non? Il a eu une sacré
chance pendant la grand guerre de AAAAAAAAAAAAA-
RRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH. . . .
Karl returns to his shit and takes up his bottle of wine and the nasty plastic sheet. He wraps the sheet around him like it’s the Pope’s cape, and waves the bottle around like he’s Lenny Bruce blessing the audience. He begins to work the room--taking the whole stage. We now notice he too is wearing a red Aids ribbon.
Et voilà, voilà . . . (he sticks out his hand with the thumb
raised and the fore finger extended, like a pistol) Qu’est-ce
que c’est ça? On voit, on voit. Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça?
Oui bon. Celui-ci, c’est un nain qui a pris du Viagra. On sait?
Un nain qui a pris du Viagra? Voilà, qui a pris du ViaAAAAAAAA
GGGGGGGGRRRRRRRAAAAAAAHHHHHHH. Pas mal,
hein? On sait, on sait. Bon ben, ben ouais, ben entendu.
Ouais, ouais. Voilà, voilà. Vous savez la différence--en France,
en France--On sait la différence entre un intellectuel et
un homosexuel? Entre l’intellectuel et le pédé en France?
Bon ben, l’intellectuel a un Robert directement dans cul et le pédé
a--non, non, le pédé a--non, non, l’intellectuel a un Robert
EN TÊTE, ben ouais, en tête, et l’homosexuel, l’espèce
de pédé, il a un Larousse dans cul--non, non, ça ne va pas ça.
C’est l’intellectuel qui avait le Larousse et le salaud de gourmande
de merde de pédé qui avait le . . . quoi? Le Robert dans cul--
DIRECTEMENT DANS CUL--Vous êtes tous pédés, pas vrai?. . .
Vous comprennez? Vous entendez? . . . Nous deux, le Baron et
moi, nous avons donné nos corps dans une guerre hideuse pour
vous tous, vous, vous minable connards, vous lâches, vous
lèches-culs, vous qui--qui n’pouvez pas vous trouver le kiki sans,
Vous tous, vous . . . vous . . . (the Gypsy beggar’s chant) S’iiiiii-
iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil voooooooooouuuuus plaaaaaaaaît,
s’iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil vooooooooooooouuuuuus plaaaaaa-
aaaaît, chuis muuuuuuuutiiiiiiiiiiilééé, pardoneeeeeez-moi
pour vous déééé--(ranger)
Lights flicker out SL as train arrives.
SEVERAL BEATS, then the GATE clangs open and crashes shut.
[Crossley passes the window UR.]
After SEVERAL MORE BEATS, a BUZZER is heard.
Lights come up on SL. [The métro station has become the entrée to Yvonne’s apartment. The bench has been stood on end to become a sculpture, the ‘PIERRE CURIE’ sign has become a modern painting, and the vending machine and Lutte contre Lèpre poster remain, (re-lighted) as pieces of pOp art.]
[Yvonne enters from DR, crosses to the vending machine and takes an answer phone from inside it.]
Âllo, oui. . . . Yes, dear. Come in. It’s the rez-de-chaussée,
door on the right.
[Yvonne pushes a button on the phone and returns it to the vending machine. She then composes herself in the mirror on the side of the vending machine. Finally she turns and stares off R for SEVERAL BEATS.]
[There is a KNOCK at the door DL, and Yvonne goes off L to answer it.]
YVONNE (Exiting L)
(Under her breath)
Seek stillness. . . . Find the quiet place. . . .
[We hear the door being opened.]
Madame Weston? Je m’appele Crossley Hollis.
De l’association pour--
Oui, je sais bien. Entrez.
[Crossley enters DL followed by Yvonne.]
Ch’uis en retard. Désolée. J’ai essaié vous téléphoner
parce que je me suis trompée de métro et mon portable
il n’peut pas attraper le reseau dans métro, et, bon,--
Pas de problème. Vous êtes . . . très-- . . . Quel age--. . .
(A little beaked about things in general,
but the age thing in particular)
J’ai vingt-sept ans--j’suis une--mais . . . on peut parler en anglais?
Vous préferiez ça?
[Crossley checks out the apartment; Yvonne really checks out Crossley.]
Bon. D’accord. . . . Excuse me. It’s just I’m a little surprised
you’re so young.
Yes, of course. (Pause) You have a beautiful place.
Thank you. . . . Yes.
[Very long, very awkward pause.]
On boit quelque chose? Vous prennez un petit verre?
Non, merci. --Ah, oui, peut être, un verre d’eau.
Vous n’prennez pas du vin? Vous êtes jeune mais vous
êtes en France.
Non, c’est pas ça. C’est . . . j’n’bois jamais d’alcool
That’s very American of you, I must say. You are American?
[Yvonne goes US to the bar to make the drinks.]
Sort of. D’une certaine façon.
Your French is lovely. It’s not--it’s just you seem-- . . .
With or without bubbles?
Yes, I know. Oh, I’ll take the bubbles. I’m not that dull.
[Yvonne smiles but does not laugh at Crossley’s effort.]
[Crossley is cruising the art work, esp. the bench, in the former métro stop.]
Vous avez de belles choses.
‘Nice things’--Yes, dear, thank you. ‘Our nice things.’
That’s what Phillip used to call them. . . . ‘Our nice things.’
. . . My husband, Phillip. They’re all his, you see? . . .
Uh-huh--. . . J’en ai gardé depuis . . . sa mort.
C’est ça, vous voyez?
Yes, he was quite a collector, my Phillip. Wherever he
went he would find something pretty he absolutely couldn’t
live without. Fall in love with pieces at first sight--without
knowing a thing about them.
Moi, j’ai toujours l’habitude de surveiller les petits trucs à côté
des objets, ceux du Louvre ou du Musée d’Orsay. Avec le nom
du peintre et les dates, tous ça. (Ind. the bench) Qui l’a fait
celui-ci? Vous savez?
[Yvonne Xs to Crossley with their drinks.]
J’n’en sais rien. Peu importe. Voilà, chérie, votre verre d’eau. . . .
[A MOMENT of difficult connection as Yvonne hands glass to Crossley.]
It’s just that it was so long ago, dear, and . . . well, . . . They
were Phillip’s things. . . . They are all his things.
Ah, pardonnez-moi, mais cette pièce là . . . it’s just that this
piece here is very interesting--very familiar--strangely familiar.
Yes, of course. I don’t really recall. I think Phillip picked
it up at this vide grenier in St Brihac. In Bretagne, you
Saint-Brieuc? I know Saint-Brieuc--you don’t mean Saint-
Brieuc, do you?
Pas du tout. St Brihac est juste à côté de St Malo, Dinan,
juste à l’ouest de St Malo. On traverse un grand barrage.
C’est un village très joli et très petit et très, très riche. Il y a
de la population seulement pendant l’été, les mois d’été.
Le reste du temps les gens vivent chez St Germain-en-Laye
ou Neuilly. Mais chez St Brihac il y avait cette petite baie, et
chaque matin on peut la regarder toute tranquillement,
la marré montant et puis, après peut être six heures, la baie
s’est rendu totalement vide, avec tous les petits bateaux
coincés dans le sable, la boue. Mais environ six heures
plus tard tous les bateaux sont reflottant et se font volte
face avec le retour de la marré. Et pendant la marré
haute on peut traverser la baie à la nage. Nous avons
eu l’habitude, chaque journée à l’heure de marré haute,
de traverser la baie à la nage. Mais c’était décidément
le rythme, la cadence de la marré, ce qui m’a rendue bien
tranquille. . . . C’était un bon moment.
Yes. . . . Je regrette que j’ne connais bien St Brihac. Mais
j’ne veux pas vous déranger. (Ind. dining table) Vous
attendez des invités. . . . Peut être--
Non, non, pas du tout. Je n’attend personne. Pas du tout.
Bon. Alors . . . Perhaps we could talk about your--
Yes, of course.-- It’s exhausting, isn’t it? It exhausts me
You speak very well.
Thank you, dear. I know I don’t do nearly so well as I should
do--after all these years. But-- . . . I get by. And I do love the
language, the sound of the language. As only, I suppose,
someone who is not particularly fluent could love it. Under-
standing has not spoiled the music.
How long have you lived here?
Oh,-- No, it’s not that.-- In Paris? It’s not that-- It’s not
been that long. Not really. . . . It’s-- I get along all right with
the French. You know, the natives. I think it’s speaking
to another American, you see. It’s speaking to another
American I find so exhausting.
Of course. Yes. . . . We can, ah, you know, give it--eh--
More water, dear?
It’s fine, thank you. . . . You see, all my case work, all my files
are in English. So it would be easier for me if we continued in
English. Discussing your case in English.
‘My case.’ I see. . . . Yes, by all means. In English.
Is that all right? I mean--
[Yvonne starts to space out a bit here.]
D’accord, d’accord. Pas de problème.
Yes. . . . Can we sit?
I have some papers. I need--ah--to--
SILENCE. [Yvonne’s attention is drifting OR.]
D’accord, chérie, comme tu veux. . . . Installes-toi
[Yvonne returns to the bar for more wine.]
T’es sûr que tu n’veux rien? Du vin? Du whisky?
[Crossley is setting up on the divan.]
Non, non. Ça ira. I’m fine.
Yes, of course, dear. Of course you are.
About your husband. . . . It was . . . when . . . what year
did he pass away?
T’aimes Proust, chérie? Tu l’as lu?
How’s that? Mrs Weston?
Proust, dear. Have you read Proust?
Eh, yes, some, uh-huh.
Scotty Moncrieff. His translation. On Modern Library, Vintage,
Chatto and Windus?
Oh. I don’t know. I don’t remember. It was two or three
huge books. I only got about half-way through the first
one. It was huge.
Do you remember what it was called? A la recherche
du temps perdu. What was it?
Yes, uh-huh. A la recherche du temps perdu. Of course.
No, but in English. The translation. Quel est le titre en anglais?
Tu te rappelles?
No, I really can’t remember, Mrs Weston. I’m sorry. . . . The
Association needs to have some information, some more
information, if we are to continue with your son’s case. His . . .
He’s still with you, isn’t he?
Yes, of course.--But, dear, there’s something very interesting
happened to Proust just recently. In English, I mean. You
know, someone once said to me they preferred Proust in
English; they said he loses something in the original.
Yes, I see.
That’s an incredibly ignorant joke, don’t you think? Les
français ils trouvent ça aberrant. Mais on peut comprendre
si on a lu the Moncrieff translation. I was completely devoted
to my Moncrieff books--It was Scotty who gave me Proust.
And I would walk across Paris--across London--I walked miles
and miles à la recherche des Prousts perdus.
Really? Why was that?
Why . . . ?
Yes. Why the walking? Why the search? Why was Proust
Lost. Yes. . . . Lost.
Mrs Weston? . . . Eh, I really need you . . . need to talk to
you about . . . The Organization is anxious to--
Ah, oui--complètement perdu. Bien sûr. Ils étaient complètement
perdus. Tous les hommes. Tous les bons hommes perdus.
I think we’re getting a little lost here. Or I am quand même.
(pause) You . . . Mrs Weston, you lost your husband, when?
Ben non, chérie. Pas du tout. Pas du tout. C’était pas mon
mari--pas mon cher Phillip. Ce n’était même pas Proust qu’était
perdu.--Ah, oui, Phillip était quand même perdu--bien sûr--
bien perdu--mais non, chérie. C’était mon très, très cher Scotty
qu’est allé au dela de sa lumière. God. I wish--. . . No, dear.
You see, Moncrieff was out of print.
The Moncrieff Proust was out of print for years. You could
find them only in bargain bins and used book stands in flea
markets in Hampstead or at Shakespeare and Company.
The later books were very hard to find. I remember searching
forever for La Prisonière. La Fugitive. I was devastated when
Albertine didn’t return to him. Some petit con in some low-
rent book shop assured me she would return in the next
book. This was the same cretin, as I recall, who said Proust
was better in English.
Well, you know, Mrs Weston, now that you mention all this,
I seem to remember that the book I read was translated by
someone named Moncrieff--with some others, I think--and
I recall the title was Searching for--or In Search of Lost
Time. Something like that. Yes, that’s right. As I recall,
I was directed to the book by some pitch about how it
was a new and improved translation. Now, this was a few
years ago. But I remember being struck by how similar the
two titles were--I mean, how close to--what is it?--la recherche--
à la recherche du temps perdu and Searching for Lost Time.
I thought that was pretty good. So I got it. And read about
half of it--until I said, whoa, this is just a little too deep--too
slow--maybe just too personal for my tastes. . . . And I stopped.
Yes, so I hear. I hear it is a very important book. But, then,
I had trouble getting through the Bible, too.
Well, I think one can be forgiven for quitting on the Bible.
But Proust is another matter. . . . You know, Scotty didn’t
translate the last book. He never got to translate Le Temps
Retrouvé. So when I got to the last book, it was either read
someone else’s translation or read Le Temps Retrouvé in
French. It was as if I’d known French my whole life. I noticed
no difference at all--no difference between Scotty’s English
and Proust’s French. Scotty had so brought me into that
world--I knew the characters so well--the situations and
places--you know?--But how?--Do you like Shakespeare?
I don’t know whether you’re messing with me here or not, Mrs
Weston. But we really need to get to this information about
your son’s case. I think we both want to help him. Right?
No, dear. I’m not patronizing you.--It’s just the age difference,
dear. That’s all. Not to worry, dear. And of course I want to
help Philly--to help you help Philly. But I want to show you
something. Something terribly sad that has happened to us.
Yeah, ok, Mrs Weston. . . . Yeah, I happen to be a big fan of
Shakespeare. I don’t think I ever quit on Shakespeare. I think
in high school and college I probably read every word he ever
wrote--or had printed--even memorized and performed a lot of
it. . . . So, yeah, Shakespeare, yeah.
Well, you see, dear, what makes Scotty’s translation so
wonderful is just that it’s not as literal as it might have been.
You see, you were sold an inferior product with boasts about
its very shortcomings. So typical that. The new translators
just took the spirit out of Proust by running him through a
Robert and Collins.
I’m sorry, but I have always assumed the job of a translator
was to take a work in one language and put it into another
That’s not all, is it, dear? Translating the words? How do
you translate the spaces between the word?
Of course. Uh-huh. I know exactly what you mean. There
are French spaces, and then there are English spaces. Sure.
You’re quite right, you know, my dear. French spaces
and English spaces: Like French and English gardens.
I’m sorry, Mrs Weston. I didn’t mean to be cute. It’s just
that this case, your case, and your son are very important
to the Organization--and to me--really. And I need to find
But don’t you see, darling, that this is all about finding out.
Finding out who we are. Proust searches through thousands
of pages for something that in the end disappears--for him, at
least. But the feeling between the two times--between the
present and the past--between the French and the English
gardens, the spaces--the tension between the original and
the translation; the tension between the words and the tension
that binds each word to the whole work: This tension is held
in the spaces, really. That’s where you find the feeling that
sets you free. That releases you from yourself. It’s that
tension that is the art--and if there is an art to translation,--
if it isn’t just fancy plagiarism--then Scotty found it.
Ok, Mrs Weston. I think I see what you’re getting at. Let’s
play first. Ok. But how does poor old Wild Bill Shakespeare
wind up in this Hegelian stew?
Very nice, dear. Yes. Do you like Hegel? I’m afraid I quit on him
Just a few secondary sources. Cliff Notes. Never the genuine
Ne t’inquiète pas. Je ne connais personne qui ait lu
tout Hegel. Mais à propos de Shakespeare et Proust--
et bien sûr Scotty Moncrieff: Il faut qu’on surveille le titre.
En français et puis en anglais. Ok?
Ok. Sure, the title. Of . . .? What Shakespeare?
Non, non, ma chérie. Proust. En français il est À la recherche
du temps perdu, pas vrai? En l’anglais de Moncrieff, de Scotty,
il est Remembrance of Things Past. . . . Rememberance of
Things Past? Ok?
Not even close, huh?
Literally, perhaps, no. But if one goes to the source, it is
And the source is Shakespeare.
That’s right. And the best of all is that by borrowing from
Shakespeare, Scotty condenses thousands of pages of
Proust’s French into fourteen lines of Shakespearean English.
Now--now that you mention it, it does sound familiar. Like
from a sonnet or something?
Sonnet thirty. You know it?
Ah, . . . I’m afraid not.
Please, Mrs Weston.
I’m sorry, dear. But, you know--Ok, here:
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought . . .?
Oh, yeah, sure. When to the sessions of sweet silent thought,
I summon rememberance of things past--sure, that’s right.
‘Summon up’. I summon up rememberance of things past.--
Can you take the next line, dear?
Uh, no, I don’t think so. . . . Nope. . . . (pause) What is it?
I sigh the lack of many--(pauses waiting for Crossley) . . .
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought . . . ? (Waits again)
And with old woes new wail my dear times’ waste. . . .
(pause) Go ahead, dear. . . .
Um, . . . I don’t think so.
[Karl’s shouts of ‘AAAAAArrrrrrrrgggggghhh’ and ‘les enfoirés’ and ‘ta mère elle
pue de cul-cul’ are heard in the distance, approaching. Yvonne ignores them; Crossley becomes apprehensive as Karl gets closer.]
Then can I drown an eye unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night.
And weep afresh love’s long-since cancell’d woe, . . .
And moan the expense of many a vansh’d sight.
(Another polite pause)
Go on, go on. Please.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
[A final polite pause of invitation, then]
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, . . .
[Invitation is finally accepted--though Crossley stumbles a beat behind Yvonne.]
YVONNE & CROSSLEY
All losses are restor’d , and sorrows end.
Well . . .
[The iron gate is heard to open then slam shut.]
Charlus! Mon Charlus! Baron Char--Aaaaarrrggghh--
Yes, . . . well . . . A little more wine, dear?
Of course not, dear. Sorry.
[Karl appears US in the window.]
Voilà mon Charlus! Comment vas-tu, Charlus? Bon. Ben.
Écoute, écoute . . .
[During the following speech by Karl, Yvonne pours a glass of wine and drinks it quickly, then pours two more glasses. Crossley turns US to watch Yvonne and Karl.]
Quand on mélange au hasard deux sangs, l’un pauvre,
l’autre riche, on n’enrichit jamais le pauvre, on appauvrit
toujours le riche. . . . Tout ce qui aide à fourvoyer la masse
abrutie par les louanges est bienvenu. Quand les ruses
ne suffisent plus, quand le système fait explosion, alors
recours à la trique! à la mitrailleuse! aux bonbonnes! . . .
On fait donner tout l’arsenal l’heure venue!
avec le grand coup d’optimisme des ultimes Résolutions!
Massacres par myriades, toutes les guerres depuis le Déluge
ont eu pour musique l’Optimisme. . . Tous les assassins voient
l’avenir en rose, ça fait partie du métier. Ainsi soit-il.
[Yvonne takes one glass of wine, gives it to Karl, and keeps one herself.]
Très bien, très bien. C’était très bien dit. C’est qui ça?
(gulps down the wine)
C’est qui? Putain! C’est moi, hein! Mais qui est la petite
Arrêt! Espèce de raclure. Viens. Ces mots là sont à qui?
(privately to Yvonne)
Tu connais ce mec?
Tu m’insultes, Charlus. (extending the empty glass) Tu m’as
gravement blessé--gravement et au coeur. Puis-je en avoir
un autre? . . . S’il vous plaît, Madame Le Baron?
[Yvonne returns to the bar to refill the wine glasses.]
(to Crossley) Ce mec là? Ben oui. Il est . . . (she has to think
hard) Il est mon très, très . . . Quoi? . . . (to Karl) Karl, écoute,
de qui t’as volé ce truc là? (to Crossley) Ouais, il est mon
très, très grand salaud.
[Yvonne delivers the glass to Karl and they tink glasses.]
Ma chère dame, mon très cher troquet, ces mots là . . .
sont dans la langue française, ma langue maternelle,
donc ces mots là sont véritablement les miens.
La seule verité est que tu mends comme toujours. Ben alors,
fous-moi le camp!
Doucement, doucement, madame. Tu ne veux pas blesser
l’oreille delicate de la jolie princesse ricaine. M’am’selle
Ben ouais, Karl. Tu la connais bien, hein? Vas-y! Vas-y.
Tire-toi. Mais, avant, qui est l’auteur de ton ordurerie?
(privately to Yvonne)
He seems a little angry.
Of course, dear. I know. It’s just our game. (to Karl) Facho!
Coco, anarcho,--Aaaaaaaarggggggghhh--Vieille salope!
Ta gueule! N’essaies pas de me charmer. Tu en veux un autre?
(to Crossley, re: Yvonne)
Ma princesse! Mon Charlus là, elle ressemble à James
Styoowart, pas vrai? Regarde-moi ça! Jeemmy Styoowart,
c’est pas vrai?
Tu ne veux plus? Hein? Casses-toi avec tes camarades
fachos. Les Jeemmy Styoowarts. Les Ronny Rayguns.
Retournez, vous tous, aux chiottes.
D’accord, d’accord. Mais avant, le verre. Ma très très chère
[Yvonnes goes to the bar for more wine.]
Mrs Weston, really, . . . You know, I can’t come back for
this. I’m on a real short leash. It’s gotta be now.
Of course, dear. This won’t take a second. Karl is just leaving--
(delivering the wine)--aren’t you, my old collaborationist
Ch-Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghh! SIDA gafe-toi bien! T’es
affranchi comme personne! T’es bien plus libre, compare
toi-même, que les serfs d’en face! Dans l’autre prison!
Regarde-toi dans la glace encore! Un petit godet pour
les idées! Vote pour mézigues! SIDA t’es victime du système!
Je vais te réformer l’Univers! T’occupe pas de ta nature!
T’es tout en or! qu’on te répète! Te reproche rien! Va pas
réfléchir! Écoute-moi! Je veux ton bonheur véritable!--
Aaaarrrggggghh-- Je vais te nommer Empereur? Veux-tu?
Je vais te nommer Pape et Bon Dieu! Tout ça ensemble!
Boum! Ça y est! Photographie!--
Mrs Weston!--Monsieur, je vous en supplie! Arrêtez!--
laissez-nous tranquille! . . . Qu’est-ce qu’il se passe?
Vous êtes evidemment fou, monsieur. J’suis très navrée!
Mais on a des affaires très importantes, très pressantes.
Peut être plus tard--
[Karl falls silent, sullen.]
(Stops Crossley, taking 100ff billet from her bodice)
--No, dear. Ne t’inquiète plus. He’s just leaving. (to Karl)
Ça va ça, mon pote? Écoute. Prends-la. Passes du
côté de chez Villon. Demandes-lui s’il reste des petits
camemberts. D’accord? Tu vois? Vas-y. Achètes-en une
dizaine et reviens directement--fais pas une escale au zinc,
Ok. Tu piges? . . . Vas-y.
[Yvonne has taken Karl’s glass and she returns to the bar and pours herself another glass of wine. Karl hesitates at the window. Yvonne turns into the room to Crossley, ignoring Karl completely. Karl leaves the window for the gate; which is later heard to open and close.]
Now, dear. . . . You were saying?
My god! What in the world--
Yes, dear. I know. Karl is one of our strange acquisitions--
not unlike Phillip’s art works--not so beautiful, perhaps, but--
Karl is someone Phillip and I have known forever. And, sad
to say, he’s always been just like that. Just like . . . that.
You know, I saw him in the métro when I got here.
Did you really. Well . . . Yes, the métro. We’ve never
really . . . we never really kept track of Karl. Where he
stays. Where we might find him . . . if we need him.
Seldom needed to find him, really.
Yes, I can imagine. . . . But did you, just now, send him
off to buy you a dozen camemberts? Is that what I heard?
Don’t worry, dear.
Wait! Now, I don’t know what you meant by ‘camemberts’--
I mean--seems a strange way to buy cheese. But--forgive
me, Mrs Weston--but, you know, this interview--this study--
this all has a lot to do with your son’s medication.
He’ll probably spend that hundred francs on the first thing
takes his fancy. (Very flip) All gone.
But , Mrs Weston--god!--You just sent him for--I don’t know
what! Or is Villon’s really just a little cheese shop?
There really is no call for concern. We will never see that
money or any kind of anything--or, with any luck, Karl, again.
Uh-huh. . . . C’est louche, tout ça. Bien louche. . . . D’accord.
(She now really submerges herself in her files, her Psion, or
some kind of mini computer--she becomes quite oblivious to
what’s going on in the room around her.)
. . . Now, what exactly did your husband die of?
We never found out really. He just disappeared. And after
a certain period of time, we just decided--that is, we . . . were
told that he was dead. Legally . . . dead. Voilà.
So your son is Phillip Junior?
[Yvonne returns to the bar. She trades her wine glass for one with a little more volume, and fills it up with wine, killing the bottle and then immediately going through the bar searching for another.]
Well, in actual fact, no. My son is Phillip Alexander. My husband
was Phillip Michael.
[Her search becomes a little frantic before she finds a new bottle of wine and begins to uncork it and let it breath.]
[Philly enters SL and seems to be regarding the art work in the entrée. He will, during his stay, change SL back into the métro station.]
I don’t think that distinction is ever made in the file.
Oh? . . . Well, they must not have thought it important.
No, I think it is important. An oversight. (She’s pouring through
her files) And here it shows your son’s sero-positivity was
determined quite some time ago. It says he’s been H-I-V-positive
since 1986, February ‘86.
Hell, they only started testing for the shit in ‘85. The Department
of Health and Human Services launched HIV on a wacked-out
world in 1984.
But your husband--
Mon mari a disparu, exactement comme Albertine, before
they started any of this testing. And he wasn’t the sort who
took to such things:--
Ben ouais! That canker! Oh la la. That cough--
--incipient tests for incipient disorders.--
--c’est la vie! Rien que le prochain pas sur la piste imprudente
de l’esprit déshonoré;--
--But your husband was never tested?--
--Il a trouvé tout ça insoutenable. Il a évité les médecins
comme si vivre dependait de ça.
--nothing but the automatic blush of matter roused to sensation
and become receptive for that which awaked it.
Moi, je m’en fous.
Ah, oui, bien sûr. Malgré tout, votre fils était gravement
malade, ou non? Ton mari savait de la maladie avant
Oh, I think so. Yes. . . . Let’s see. . . . Philly was, what?
eighteen, nineteen, when he got his first real adult illness.
. . . He’d been ill quite often as a child--a young child.
(Reading from files)
Says here . . . --
[Yvonne drinks harder during this.]
(Covering Crossley’s reading)
General inability to thrive. Persistent generalised swollen lymph
glands, persistent oral candida and developmental delay. Then,
twelve months after birth, the capacity of cells to proliferate was
fifty to seventy percent below normal. Recurrent, perhaps chronic,
anemia with subcritical tendency to hemophilia. Elevated leukocytic
levels indicating strong disposition toward leukocytosis and
leukodystrophy. Subject to frequent, severe fevers, diarrhoea.
Frequent inflammations of eyes, ears, nose and throat. Chronically
elevated hepatic enzymes. Gall bladder removed at twenty-four
months. Recurring and severe gastroenteritis from eighteen months.
Positive reactions on TB, CMV, Epstien Barr, Lupus, Mono, Hepatitis
B & C. Chronic gonoccocal conjuctivitis and presence of a highly
resistant residual strain of syphilis. Quite a birthright.
Whoa . . . Quite a survivor, your son. And you--as his mother!--
were never tested? For anything?
I can remember how horrible I felt. I used to shake. All over. . . .
All the time. . . . And he suffered so much--it was absolutely
unbearable. For him, I mean. For Philly. Oh, for all of us. Sure.
I can imagine.
Yes. Can you, really?
And then the cancers?
Uh, yes, that’s right. . . . Are you sure you won’t have a little
something? To drink, I mean.
[Yvonne returns to the bar.]
Are you sure you wouldn’t like to fix her one of your famous
loaded apples, Maman?
I quit about two years ago. . . . No, exactly two years, one
month and six days ago--but, then, who’s counting, right?
[Yvonne refills her glass.]
I see. Yes. Well, good for you, dear. . . . AA?
Scientologie? Hari Krishna? Le Temple du Soleil? Falun
Gong? Ferme-le ton claque-merde quoi!
Some more water then, dear?
Merci. . . . On peut parler un peu des cancers?
Anything you want, dear. Anything but drug talk.
Cancer in children is especially painful. Their suffering is
Qu’est cette salope? Lady Di? Merde de Dieu.
Yes. Of course it is, dear.
Before he came into our program it seems it had moved into
his head. When was that?
That first one in 1980 was especially vague. It was before
he tested H-I-V-positive. When he was nineteen, I think. And
(she sighs) . . . they removed a tumor from the left-side of his
brain. But it biopsied benign. He was having terrible vision
problems. Terrible headaches.
Nothing those dilaudids couldn’t have knocked out.
But we weren’t able to get him the proper medication.
The doctors we had . . . they wouldn’t give him what
What he needed? What I needed?
Who was deciding what he needed?
They were under a great deal of pressure. . . . From the
government . . . . The Health and Safety Code. These
doctors--’croakers’, Phillip called them--would write you
all the Xanax and Thorazine you could eat, but . . . that
wasn’t what we needed--what Philly needed. So his father
. . . this was just before he left for good-- He thought the
surgery--he was convinced this surgery was . . . well, just the
same old quackery he’d saved Philly from when he was a baby.
[Now Yvonne and Philly make eye contact across the stage. Crossley, when not in her files, is only on Yvonne.]
He thought the doctors were using the surgeries to keep Philly
in their programs. To keep us from finding him better care.
Better treatments with better medicines. . . . He’d wanted to
just go in and take Philly right out of this program--as if that
were possible. He’d saved him before, you see. And for what?. . .
It was just like after his stomach cancer, the partial gastrectomy
when Philly was six. They took more than half his stomach--
his father just said, ‘ça suffit!’ and took him out of the hospital.
Brought him home. He was only six. And still a baby. And still
all wound up in tubes and drips and bottles of this and that.
He had no hair at all, I remember. And his lips were always
deep blue--purple. Yes. Purple shadows moved all over his
body, under his skin. He never slept--I don’t remember ever
seeing him sleep. And his eyes always bugged out and just
stared. They never followed anything. He just stared straight
ahead. Like he was staring at something right in front of his face.
And with no expression. Just blank. He was six years old. And
he’d had so much of him cut out and thrown away. Before his
body had even had a chance to grow, to regenerate itself, they
just threw a good part of him away. His blood drained and
replaced with the blood of strangers. So many times. And he
never registered pain. He never cried. I don’t recall Philly ever
crying--Ever. In his whole life I can’t remember Philly crying.
The doctors told us he must be in a great deal of pain. But they
would see to that--they would see to treating the pain. But he
never complained. He seldom spoke, . . . except to say he loved
us. Every night when we would tuck him in, he would say he
T’es sûr de ça? T’es bien sûr? Tu ne me confonds pas avec
le jeune Marcel?
But you’re saying they removed this tumor as part of a research
So, the brain tumor--I mean, they weren’t saying it was Kaposi
or anything like that. That was what everyone else was coming
down with. ‘83, ‘84. This was before that. This was just a
simple brain tumor--but Phillip couldn’t stand it. Couldn’t
stand the thought of them cutting on Philly’s brain. They’d
been through so much together. And Philly’s boyfriends
always blamed his father--for everything. It was all just too
much for him.
I’m confused. Why were they operating? This program?--Was
your son getting proper medical care or not? . . . You were still
in the States?
Ces évocations tournoyantes et confuses ne duraient jamais
que quelques secondes;--
In Chico, yes. Northern California.
--souvent ma brève incertitude du lieu où je me trouvais
ne distinguait pas mieux les unes des autres--
Yes, I know. With the prison there.
--les diverses suppositions dont elle était faite,--
No, dear, that’s Chino. By Los Angeles.
--que nous n’isolons, en voyant un cheval noir courir,--
Chico is in the Sacramento Valley. With the college.
--les positions successives que nous montre le kinétoscope.
Sure. Ok. But you said you had trouble getting him proper
I don’t remember Philly complaining. About anything. Ever.
J’étais bien instruit par les tortionnaires, les bourreaux à
l’hôpital. Ce ‘Goodnight. I love you, mommy’, c’était un truc
que j’ai appris pour obtenir les percodans.
These were research programs your son was in, right? Testing
programs. Just like ours. But what was the problem with his
He’d been in programs like these--you see, dear, this was when
the transplant business was really booming. The late 70s.
A good deal was being done searching for anti-rejection drugs.
And since Philly had had so many transfusions--essentiellement
le prémier genre des greffes, on peut dire--ils ont pensé que mon
fils serait le cobaye parfait pour ses médicaments contre-rejet.
But his immune system couldn’t have been in any kinda shape to
demonstrate if these drugs worked or not. How much more could
they really depress his immune system without flat-out killing him?
Voilà! Faites vos jeux! La concurrence du Business entre les
banques d’organes, les banque du sangs, et les enterprises
de médicaments est vachement fascinante. La comptabilité aussi.
Je ne sais pas, chérie. Il nous suffit de savoir qu’il s’est toujours
guéri juste à temps pour la prochaine analyse. Le fait qu’il
a continué de vivre, c’était la seule preuve qu’ils ont cherché.
(Exasperated, changing tack, diving back into her notes)
So . . . you two came to France in ‘89. Your first contact with
the Association was in December ‘89. Through the Pasteur
Institute. (to Yvonne, very personally) I’d like to meet your
son. He’s here . . . now, right?
Oh, yes, please, mummy.
He’s been unusually quiet since you arrived. He’s usually
beeping me every minute.
I’m very interested in your case--that is, the Association is
very interested in . . . your son’s treatment. How it might
serve to develop new techniques for treating some of these
terrible new diseases--and actually some old ones, too--but
every day we are discovering new treatments, we’re breaking
genetic codes that give us incredible insights into the future
of human health. All this depends on the kinds of tests that
your son takes for us. And . . . Philly’s survival is truly incredible.
Oh, your people have kept Philly going, really, for all these
years. If it weren’t for all those doctors and people at your
organization--for all the help, all the medicines you have
given us, I just don’t know what we’d have done.
If I weren’t so near death already, this would really make me
sick. Je vais gerber.
[During this exchange, Philly has converted the SL area back into the Pierre Curie métro station. Philly exits as the lights flicker out SL.]
I had many friends in the Eighties who died of Aids.
You just seem so young for that, dear. They--your friends--
must have been very young too.
Oh, well, yes. But . . . I was in my first year at Columbia, and
I hung out with lots of older people. Artists. Theatre people.
Downtown. You know?
This was what? What year?
Oh, I got to Columbia in ‘88. ‘88 through ‘91. I can’t remember--
I lost count of how many friends I lost.
Of course. . . . And you studied medicine? Science?
No, no. I got an M-B-A in ‘95. I wanted to dedicate myself
to the memory of those friends I lost by working to find a
cure for this horrible disease.
[Lights flicker back up SL. It is empty but for Karl’s shit which is back on the bench.]
That’s right. Do you know that in Africa every one in four
people is H-I-V positive?
Uh-huh. Well, the figure I heard was four out of ten sexually
active people tested positive. An old friend at the World
Health Organization, Guy Zimmerman, was working in Lusaka,
in Zambia. This was 1992. He got the government to launch a
gigantic testing program.
Zambia, yes. We’re working that one. And Zimbabwe and
Tanzania. And Uganda. The W-H-O is very helpful. I was
just in Geneva last month.
Indeed. . . . But an M-B-A?
Well, dear--I have no idea what’s going on in the Biz Ad
department at Columbia these days--
I got my M-B-A from Boston College. I did my undergrad
stuff at Columbia. Journalism.
I see. Uh-huh. It’s just--I suppose because I’m so old--and
I’m not questioning your dedication. Please, darling, don’t
ever think that. It’s just that Business--I don’t know--(laughs)
Mrs Weston. When all my friends, these young men like
your son, were dying and no one knew why, it was Business,
the large pharmaceutical companies, who financed the research
and discovered what was killing them--it was business that
discovered Aids. I believe that Business will also discover
a cure, a vaccine to stop this killer.
I suppose that’s right, dear. Yes. Business did discover Aids.
And Business took Doctor Montagnier away from the Pasteur
Institute, where we would take an occaisonal coffee, and put
him in a lovely corner office at Princeton. And it was Business
that got Gallo and Montagnier fighting over who had the
proprietary rights to rename H-T-L-V and claim the, as you
say, discovery of H-I-V.
[Karl rushes into Pierre Curie. He is completely out of breath. He sits on the bench and takes a small plastic sack out of his pocket. It contains a number of little white pills. He takes three or four out of the sack, pops them into his mouth, then reaches beneath the bench for his bottle of wine. At first he can’t find it. He becomes frantic--starts choking on the pills--then finds the bottle lying on its side, picks it up and takes a long slash from it to wash down the pills. He then tries to catch his breath. When he begins to speak it is with the slow precision of someone who is already really wired. He stands up and moves around--he is still a total sketch-ball, but the pills seem to have eliminated his manic ejaculations.]
(ALL THIS HAPPENS UNDER--AND KARL’S LINES ARE CONFLATED WITH--THE FOLLOWING EXCHANGE BETWEEN YVONNE & CROSSLEY:)
You see, when Phillip was at Duke, he had a good friend at
Burroughs. Dave Thompson. It was Burroughs-Wellcome
then, before Glaxo bought it. Dave worked in research--was
vice-president in charge of research, as I recall. Well, Dave
told Phillip how the whole bordel with H-T-L-V--the Human
T-Cell Leukemia Virus--but, of course, you know that already,
don’t you, dear--sorry--But, you see, Bob Gallo had H-T-L-V one--
or was it three?--no matter--and Montagnier had what he called
L-A-V, and then H-I-V, but it was all just muck drekked up from
blood cultures batched from dozens--or maybe hundreds--of
haemophiliacs and people already diagnosed with Aids.
Different doctors, different researchers, had their own test
groups. Their own patients on whom they ran their tests.
And, well, Philly had been diagnosed and treated as a . . .
. . . haemophiliac most of his life--so, everybody at Triangle Park
was very interested in Philly. He was like one of those high
draft choices the pros are always after. You know what I mean,
Well . . . We do a lot of work with Glaxo, sure, all the big bio-tech
outfits. But are you saying that they were bidding for your son?
Seems a little far-fetched. He did get around though. Man,--
Bien qu’on dût s’y attendre, cet incident provoqua une grande
émotion dans les milieux médicaux, et même à la Cour, d’où
vinrent des ordres afin qu’on procédât à une enquête sur les
circonstances de cette révocation.
(Again very deep into her files)
--I show here, before you came to us, your son was in programs
at Massachusetts Gerneral Hospital, San Francisco General,
Sloan-Kettering, New England Deaconess Hospital, the
National Institute of Health Complex in Bethesda and Walter
Reed, and then at Duke and Cornell. . . . Why were--
Well, Dave was telling Phillip that everything was going
into retroviruses--you know, all the research, all the journals,
all the funding--and that this opened up a whole new opportunity
for Burroughs. Because Burroughs had been on our case from
the very beginning.
What does this man at Burroughs--your friend--your husband’s
friend; what did he have to do with your son’s treatment?
[Philly appears outside at the window UR.]
Du fait de ses fonctions à l’hôpital général dont il était
le médecin-chef, il dut, bien qu’il s’en disculpât, sanctionner
dans une certaine mesure la révocation de son fils.
Oh, rien de tout, chérie. Rien de tout. Ce mec--Dave was just a
friend. Just a friend, you know? A friend of the family. But he
pointed us in the right direction. He showed us where the new
therapies were coming from--where the new medicines
. . . take us. He told us about the new tests and AZT and how we
might get Philly some five-star help. Really, how we found you.
Il nous a dirigé vers la thune. La thune et les produits pharma-
ceutiques de bonne qualité. Et de la mine d’or de l’ingénierie
On éloigna donc l’impétueux Philippe dans un voyage d’une
certaine durée. . . . Un voyage vers la douleur--ah, ben oui--
L’homme est un apprenti, la Douleur est son maître. . . .
I know Wellcome patented the first HIV tests. One of the doctors,
a virologist, at the Association, worked for Chester Beatty Labs
at the Institute of Cancer Research in London where the test was
developed. But Dupont makes a test too. So why do you think
Glaxo--or Burroughs was so interested in Philly?
L’homme est un apprenti, le Libéralisme est son sorcier. . . .
Puis l’Autoritarisme est l’apprenti du Libéralisme, et l’homme
est--quoi?--l’homme est l’esclave de ses besoins. . . .
Et puis, il n’avait pas le choix. Qu’aurait-il pu faire?
Attendre que les bourrins se prennent de lui leur grands
Yes, mother. Why was that? Just this bag of infected bone
marrow. What would they want with me?
[The ‘MÉTRO MUSIQUE’ is heard SL. At the same instant the POP MUSIC on the radio is interrupted for the following message spoken by Philly:]
(Affecting the voice of a sexy female SNCF fonctionnaire)
Votre attention, s’il vous plaît. Suite à un mouvement social,
tout le trafic sur toutes les lignes du métro et RER est interrompu.
Pour toutes information composez le numero vert de la RATP:
08 36 68 69 70. J’en repete: 08 36 68 69 70.
[Various reactions are simultaneously registered:]
Oh la la. Chérie. T’as entendu? Quelles conneries!
Ben merde alors! J’suis prisonnier ici. Quelle Saloperie!
Oh, well, . . . This is certainly just what I needed. Fuck!
(Himself again--sort of!)
C’est juste le mouvement syndical français. ‘Allons enfants de la
patrie . . .’ C’est tout. Nous sommes tous des soixante-huitards,
non? (chants a couple times) ‘Dans les rues/Avec nous!’
PAUSE. [Quickly POP MUSIC returns to the radio.] PAUSE.
[Karl appears like a trapped animal--a trapped animal completely buzzed on crank. He gathers up all his shit and makes like he’s going to split. Several after-thoughts later, with several false starts in several different directions; he decides to crawl under the bench and try to hide himself there under his plastic sheet.]
Qu’est-ce que tu vas faire? T’es venue en métro?
Moi, ch’ais pas. Enfin, bref . . . . On peut continuer? . . . Merde!
Ma journée est complètement foutue. On pourrait peut être
prendre un taxi?
(Shreiking in pain and fear)
Mais non. Bientôt la circulation sera completement congelé--
comme un parking lot.
Yeah. Right. Well . . .
Il est beau le mouvement syndical français. Ses coups arrivent
toujours juste à temps pour sauver la ferme. Hein, maman?
DES CAFARDS! . . . DES CAFARDS!
Look. I know you are much too polite to mention it-- We’ve
been holding-up your stipend until we can get some tests in.
Yes, dear. Of course.
I think the whole deal with genetic licenses and patent rights
should be left to the legal department. Those guys live in a
world of their own. Right? (laughs)
Non, non! Aïïïïïïïe, non!
Well, you know, dear, I have this same discussion with every
case worker who visits me. Nothing changes.
(In full psychotic meltdown)
Des cafards! Des cafards! Aïe, non! Arrêtez!
Well, as his mother and closest living relative, you hold
the--I don’t know what to really call it--the proprietary rights
to Philly’s genetic code and whatever it might produce. You
know that, right?
Oh, I know that, dear.
And it is certainly not my intention to talk you into anything--
or out of anything--on this thing. Your regular check has
been issued--it’s just waiting on these test results. That’s all.
(Now thrashing under the bench)
Ils me devorent! Aïe! Aïïïïïe! Aïïïe! Au secours!
Yes, well, that’s all very fine, dear. But, you know, it has been
an unusually long time since I’ve received a check from you
people. And, well, Philly’s needs really can’t wait. You know?
Un syndicat pour les mourant peut être? Pour les assassinés.
Of course, Mrs Weston. I know. There’s just some concern
over the blood work we’ve been getting. We’re having trouble
with replication--replicating the, uh,--replicating the--well, we’re
not getting any consistency in our results. Even running the
H-I-Vs, we’re not getting consistent positives.
C’est insupportable! Au secours! Au secours! Ça me tue! Arrêtez!
[Karl breaks out from under the bench and begins pacing SL.]
I’m affraid I can’t be of any help there. J’suis . . . juste . . .
enfin, sa mère.
Charlus! Charlus! Aides-moi!
I think, to get you back on track, we’ll really have to bring
Phillip in to the clinic to have better controls on these tests.
Oh la la.
Well, dear, I think this is a singularly bad time for that sort of
Charlus! Tu dois m’aider! Charlus!
Yes, dear. Uh-huh?
Mrs Weston--I don’t really know how to put this. . . . Unless
we can take your son in to continue the tests--well--There
is just no other way for these tests to continue.
Indeed. Well, I’m very sorry to hear that.
I’m not sure you understand me, Mrs Weston.
[Karl has started counting something on the back wall.]
(Improvising in this vein under what follows.)
Un à Charlus. Un à moi. Un à vendre. Un à garder.
Un à l’armée. Un à ma mère. Un à l’OTAN. Deux au Kosovo.
Rien à la Serbie. . . .
[Philly is now sitting on the window sill UR. Very interested.]
Oh, I think I understand. Yes. You’re telling me I’m not
getting my check until I give you Philly. Well . . .
No, no, Mrs Weston. It’s more than that. It’s much more . . .
The Association needs to assume tighter control of these tests--
of your son’s care. The Association--if we are to continue our
relationship--our fiduciary relationship--which is much more than
this monthly allocation--as you know. The Association needs to
take full custody--You see, it’s in all our contracts. Genetic patents.
Ancilliary research. Second and third degree derivative medicines.
The Association has the right, at any time, to hospitalize the subject
if failure to do so would in any way jeopardize the research process.
Well, you and your M-B-A certainly have it all over me as far as
contracts go. But I don’t think you have any idea what you’re
asking--what you’re letting yourself in for.
Please, Mrs Weston, this is in no way a suggestion that you have
failed in any way to care for your son. Pas de tout. It’s all about
the integrity of our research. A great deal is at stake here--and
not just the huge sums that have been invested in it--millions of
lives depend on the integrity of our tests.
Oh, please, dear, spare me the Succor for Suffering Humanity
spiel. You think I’ve spent the last twenty years on an intravenous
drip from CNN and the Scientific American? I learned more about
your ‘killer disease’ and Philly’s hopeless condition from the Wall
Street Journal and The Financial Times than from all your medical
statisticians and scientific social workers--with all your mawkish
plaints about lost loved ones--It’s amazing. You really think being
against Aids, seeking after a cure for Aids, fighting against disease,
is a considered moral position? The high ground? An end that
justifies all the human suffering and exploitation used to reach it?
Allons-y! À la charge! Juste comme Napoléon.
Mrs Weston, I had no intention--that is, I had no idea you
would feel--you would react this way. If you’d like--
No, of course not, dear. Of course not. Listen, I’m just going
to freshen this up a wee bit and we can--
Oh, quelle lâcheté.
Don’t you think you’ve had enough . . . of that . . . for right now?
[Yvonne goes to the bar and pours herself more wine.]
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, dear. This is definetly not a subject
for discussion. Not today. Let’s deal with Phillip, shall we?
My drinking is a whole other area of research we can take up
some other time. D’accord?
I didn’t mean--
I’m sure you didn’t, dear. Ne t’inquiète pas. C’est peut être
le bon moment pour que tu fasses la connaissance de mon fils.
Tu veux? (LONG PAUSE) Hein?
[Yvonne moves DS from the bar and stands US of the door DR.]
Donc. On y va.
Madame. Je veux me faire pardonner. J’suis désolée si
je vous ai insultée.
Non, non, chérie, ça va aller. Maintenant on va voir mon
pauvre. T’es fin prête?
Houais. (That inhaled ‘oui’ that French women do)
[Crossley has been putting her files away, and she rises and Xs to the door DR.]
[Karl breaks for SR and continues to improvise as he now seems to count the items in the apartment.]
Ma mère mange à droite . . . Jospin mange à gauche . . . L’armée
mange à droite . . . l’Abbé Pierre mange à gauche . . . (etc.)
Pardonnes-moi le désordre.
C’est moi. Je m’excuse pour mon attitude.
[Yvonne follows her out the door DR.]
Phillip, darling. This is . . . I’m awfully sorry, dear. I’ve forgotten
your name. ( LONG SILENCE) Dear? Are you all right? (LONG
Ça ira, ça ira, chérie. Voilà. Première à droite. Vas-y.
SOUNDS of UNRESTRAINED VOMITTING.
Here, let me clean that up. . . . Here . . . She just dribbled a
little here. . . . There . . . There, dear. All done. Poor child.
Too much to drink, I suppose. There you are. Good as new.
[Crossley rushes on through the door DR, wiping her mouth and fighting for breath.]
[Karl is now on his hands and knees DR continuing the psychotic improv and counting the fibers in the carpet or the tiles on the floor or something.]
St Loupe mange à droite . . . Gilberte mange à gauche . . .
Françoise mange à droite--non, non, à gauche--non, à droite . . .
Just as good as new. Clean and beautiful is my darling boy.
Yes he is. . . . Yes he is.
[Crossley goes to the window UR and tries to breathe. She is close enough to Philly to kiss him, but doesn’t notice him at all. When she turns back into the room, she seems half-mad with terror. Her mouth feels like its full of toxic worm shit.]
(Barely able to form the words)
Mrs Wes-- . . . Mrs West--on? (LONG PAUSE) Mrs Weston?
J’arrive, chérie. J’arrive.
[Crossley glances at the bar. Then she stares at it. Then she Xs to it and pours herself a glass of wine and drinks it quickly. She then pours another and drinks it quickly.]
(Almost in a whisper)
I have to go.
(A little louder with the pain)
[Yvonne enters and stands just US of the door DR. Karl continues the improv counting a smaller and smaller area DRC. Philly looks on bemused.]
Ça va, chérie?
Non. Faut que j’y aille.
[Crossley pours then drinks another glass of wine.]
(re: the wine)
Et le rapport? Les questions? Et si vous alliez prendre
(Struggling with everything)
Mrs Weston . . .
Et l’argent que vous me devez--que vous nous devez?
(Very big now)
Nom de Dieu! Il n’est pas vivant. C’est pas possible. Non, il est
mort. . . . Mrs Weston, your son is dead! Oh god!
LONG, LONG PAUSE.
(A male voice [the OS Philly], full of pain
and anger and illness, and heard by both women)
[Crossley freezes. Yvonne & Philly smile. Karl continues counting nothing.]
END OF ACT I
* * *
IN BLACK we hear POP MUSIC (some hard, dirty Delta Blues, perhaps) from the radio SR. This accompanies the following, which comes out of the darkness SL:
(In great pain)
En Monsieur de Charlus un autre être avait beau s’accoupler,
qui le différenciait des autres hommes, comme dans le centaure
le cheval, cet être avait beau faire corps avec le baron, je ne
l’avais jamais aperçu. Maintenant l’abstrait s’était matérialisé,
l’être enfin compris avait aussitôt perdu son pouvoir de rester
invisible, et la transmutation de Monsieur de Charlus en une
personne nouvelle était si complète que non seulement les
contrastes de son visage, de sa voix, mais rétrospectivement
les hauts et les bas eux-mêmes de ses relations avec moi, tout
ce qui avait paru jusque-là incohérent à mon esprit, devenait
intelligible, se montrait évident, comme une phrase, n’offrant
aucun sens tant qu’elle reste décomposée en lettre disposées
au hasard, exprime, si les caractères se trouvent replacés dans
l’ordre qu’il faut, une pensée que l’on ne pourra plus oublier.
‘MÉTRO MUSIQUE’ interrupts the radio and we hear
VOICE OF RATP
Votre attention, s’il vous plaît. Suite à un mouvement social,
toute la circulation des lignes du métro et du RER vont être
interrompues ce matin. Tout le système reste fermé. Merci de
YVONNE (In Black)
AT RISE: The stage is the same as at the end of Act I but for the addition of seven or eight empty bottles of good wine on the dining table and the bar. Crossley is sitting on the floor DRC, her back against the easy chair, with a large glass of wine. Yvonne is lying on the divan, also with a large glass of wine, her eyes closed. The two women are hammered. Philly is still sitting on the window sill (UR), with his legs hanging outside. Karl has crawled SL into the métro station and is curled up in front of the bench in a fetal position counting his fingers or the hairs on his face--still way gone!
But . . . he calls you ‘Charlus’. Why does he call you that?
À son age il est remplacé par constipation.
Concentration? . . . I have concentration. I have fucking tons
On vit dans un camp de constipation.
You mean because I couldn’t finish Proust? . . . Mer-dah.
[Karl is, ever so slowly, more slowly than is perceptible by the human eye, crawling SL: As if he’s counting the millimeters on his way to the exit. He occasionally grunts something like ‘Charlus’, or ‘Bête’, or ‘Enculé’.]
Tu crois que j’n’ai pas pigé votre tricherie. Comment votre dossier
était complètement foutu? Que j’n’ai jamais senti l’odeur malsaine?
Du bordel malséant?--C’était ça enfin qui m’a bien attiré sur votre
cas. You know what else? (BEATS) You know what else? . . .
Fuck! I forgot what I was going to say. (BEATS) Wow! I remember
when wine improved my French. A couple of glasses and I was
completely fluide, et sans accent. (BEATS) Oh, yeah. You know
what else? --God, j’ne peux pas parler aucun mot français. I never
really believed your son--your Philly--ever even really existed.
(BEATS) I mean, this was my case? (BEATS) Oh, god, what is
happening? (BEATS) I mean, duh, could we have a little more pot--
eh, a little potter--that, uh, is, a potted--a little more potty medical
history? (BEATS) This case, umm, this had ‘chief analyst’ written all
over it. I mean, god, uh, most kids get a train set or a bike for their
birthdays. Yours got cerebral hemorrhages or chlamydia? (BEATS)
Oh, come on-- And I know why. Sure. I know why. This was my
case, after all.
I know what you were up to. All along. Une combine vachement
Memory. . . . Memory and imagination.
It’s so bizarre. Since I quit drinking, the more I drink, the farther
from drunk I get. Shit just doesn’t work anymore. Not ‘nymoah.
Noope. (BEATS) But really, Mrs Weston. How long did you
think you could run this lame game on us? . . . Huh?
You’ve none of these capacities. Au--cune. Qu’est-ce
qui est arrivé?
[Now Philly comes into the apartment and moves around through both sides of the stage, seeming to torment Yvonne and Karl, but never getting too close to Crossley. Neither woman reacts to him--and it’s hard to tell what Karl is reacting to.]
Quand j’ai eu dix-neuf ans, j’ai été enculé par trois milles
mecs. C’est un calcul conservatif. Three thousand different
dicks in my ass by the time I was nineteen.
You couldn’t have been born without these capabilities.
Please, Mrs Weston! Just--. . . fucking please!
You must’ve lost them--or had them stolen. Or been house-
broken of them.
J’ai calculé que j’ai pris quatre bites par soirée, six soirées par
semaine depuis mes quinze ans. And that’s four cocks that
had probably been in four other assholes already that night.
Look. Like that he’s not really a fit subject for our research. C’est
tout. For any research quand même.
Et chaque soirée chaque tringle monstrueuse avait penétré dans
presque quatre autres trous de balle. The geometry of insolence--
my flesh on their boners.
Can you, after all, remember all your dear lost friends, dear?
You think you can swap that kind of spunk--in steamy, shit-stinking
bath-houses, et les chiottes publiques--Vous croyez qu’on peut
se comporter comme ça et ne pas tomber malade?
La recherche pharmaceutique n’a aucun avenir pour son fils.
Son avenir lui réservera seulement des obsèques--Oh, Ouch!
[The MÉTRO MUSIQUE interrupts the radio again. It goes unnoticed by everyone.]
VOICE OF RATP
Votre attention s’il vous plaît. Toutes les stations du métro
resteront fermées jusqu’à la fin du mouvement social. Merci
de votre compréhension.
(Coming out of it a little--forcefully)
Je te crèverai, Charlus! un vilain soir!
And I was just a fish--a baby--un arriviste. Tous mes copains
avaient eu un club, le dix milles club. Dix mille. Dix milles
You just can’t imagine, can you?
Je te ferai, charogne! dans les mires deux grands trous noirs!
Ten thousand shots at the big raffle. And they nearly all of them
won their Christmas goose. This brotherhood of lust--ces esclaves
mutilés par leur propres libérations sexuelles--
Did I imagine that--what is it? A dialysis machine? Uh, those jars
with--berk! My imagination has just . . . uh-- It’s just taken a severe
Ton âme de vache dans la danse! Prendra du champ!
--et chaque maladie--chaque cas de blennorragie ou même
mononucléose était comme--
You just can’t imagine.
Tu verras cette belle assistance! . . .
--comme une médaille d’honneur pour les braves soldats dans la
guerre contre une société sexuellement negative. (As if displaying
the book with withered hands) The Joy of Gay Sex.
Au Four-Cimetière des Bons Enfants!
Can’t imagine what? Can’t imagine what?
La joie et la toxicité.
Imagine what, Mrs Weston?
La toxicité du sperme. De tout le tissu vivant. De l’homme
In all your work--all your research--you never wondered . . . ?
Men were not meant to host, in such quantity and variety at least,
one another’s semence. Even while popping all the Tetracycline- flavored M&Ms in the world.
Wondered? Yeah. I’m wondering right now? Wondering what
I’m doing here . . . with your son.
Ni les femmes quand même! De mettre en réserve une variété
de sperme peut être absolument toxique. Tu vois?
With you. . . . This guy Karl. The fuck is up with him and his
(To Karl, but unheard by him)
(With great difficulty)
Ever wonder . . . why almost all the gene work now--and money--
goes into Aids--cancer and Aids? Pourquoi Rock Hudson est mort
du Sida, mais Alan Ginsberg est mort d’un cancer du foie? Enfin,
d’une crise cardiaque causé par le traitement pour le cancer du foie.
[Karl has by now reached the SL exit. He picks himself up a little, looks back into the métro station, and speaks to no one in particular:]
Il ne suffit pas d’être heureux, il faut que les autres ne le
Uh-huh. As opposed to . . . wait. Is this a trick question?
How long have deadly epidemics been around? How long have
we died from illnesses? Treatable yet irresistible illnesses?
(Under her breath)
Ah! C’est un vilain moment, celui où on se trouve forcé de
prendre pour soi toute la peine,--
Cryptosporidiosis? You know it?
Une maladie des vaches. De la ferme, maman. La ferme!
Can’t say’s I do.
--celle des autres, des inconnus, des anonymes, qu’on bosse
tout entièrement pour eux.
In 1981 Philly was diagnosed with it. With cryptosporidiosis.
A disease previously found only in livestock.
This is going to be like the Proust game, huh? Ok. 1981? Uh-huh.
Ok. Sure. I remember. Sort of. GRID-time. Right? All kinda shit
jumping off. Right?
On y avait juré à Charlus que c’était justement les ‘autres’ qui
représentaient toute la caille, le fiel profond de tous ses malheurs!--
You’ve heard of Naples disease?
(Struggling to keep it light but stay in the game)
Wait-- Uh-- Wait-- --Uh. No, huh-uh.
--Ah! l’entôlage! La putrissure! Il trouve plus les ‘autres’.
[Karl rushes off SL.]
In the Winter of 1978-’79, in Naples, Italy--
--Yeah, right, Italy.
--There was an outbreak of fatal respiratory infections among
children. They blamed a new virus.
Right after the war, this small Czech--
Sorry, dear. 1946. In 1946 a small Czech village--right after
liberation--was almost entirely wiped out by pneumocystis
carinii infection--what we commonly call now pneumocystic
Of course, a virus again? Right? (Like a foghorn) Wro-ong!
Les vaches folles.
[There is a great commotion OSL as Karl screams and rattles the metal gate closing the métro entrance.]
(Improvises on the theme:) Quelle saloperie! Lâchez-moi!
Connards! Putain de merde! Fils de toxicomane de merde!
All caused by vaccinations. Inoculations. These were cases of
iatrogenic pathologies. . . . You know this concept? This term?
Which? Umm, Mrs . . . umm, ah, this . . . which?
Iatrogenic pathology. . . . Iatrogenocide. . . .
What’s that? Some new Ethics Foaming Cleanser? Like Milosevic
Yes, of course, dear. . . . Your family . . . is . . . well off?
Elle est peut être une orpheline. Comme moi.
C’est difficile cette question.
On peut toujours mentir.
LONG PAUSE. [Philly and Yvonne are both fixed on Crossley.]
My father . . . he did all right. . . . He was a partner at Goldman
Sucks--at . . . one . . . time.
[Karl enters SL and begins a kind of lecture to fight against the darkness of the empty station and his own madness. Between outbursts, he mutters unintelligibly.]
Encore nous ici on s’amuse!--
(To Karl, but unheard)
Vive Pierre Prémier. Vive Louis Quatorze! Vive Fouquet!
--On est pas forcé de prétendre! On est encore des ‘opprimés’!--
--On peut reporter tout le maléfice du Destin sur le compte des
buveurs de sang! --
Vive Gengis Khan! Vive Bonnot!
(With evident rancor)
I don’t really know. She was old Savannah. Left when I was
five or six. . . . Older than father. . . . Beat him like a meringue,
as I recall. Until he’d done everything she wanted--then she
--Sur le cancer ‘l’Exploiteur’. Et puis se conduire comme des
[It is apparent that Karl is looking for an escape, any escape, from the métro station.]
Uh-huh. I see. . . . So your father raised you?
Uh . . . well . . . not exactly.
I see. . . .
--Ni vu ni connu!—
(To Karl) Oh la la. Attrape-toi une idée, connard.
It means ‘caused by doctors’. Iatrogenic.
Like the headache you get when you see your bill?
Elle est très charmante.
--Mais quand on a plus le droit de détruire? et qu’on peut même
Philly has been under doctors’s care his whole life. He has
been attacked by every imaginable virus and disease.
--La vie devient intolérable!--
He has had three or four different diagnoses for the same
ailment. He has been referred through cycles of specialists,--
J’suis le veritable enculé. Le premier enculé.
--from one to another to another, and finally back to the original
physician, without ever having any explanation for his condition.
--La vie devient intolérable! . . . La souveraineté résidait dans la
personnne du roi ‘par la grâce de Dieu’.
J’suis l’enculé de Dieu. Et j’en suis très fier.
Your son was gay. Is that right?
Gay? Je m’suis fait chier comme un débile dans cette galère.
[Karl jumps down onto the tracks--i.e., off the stage and into the house--and escapes down the line.]
J’ai enculé ta mère! J’ai enculé la mère de Dieu! J’ai enculé
le Seigneur des mouches! J’ai giclé sur la moustache de
ta mère! Ta mère a mangé mon trou qui pue! (etc.)
I think we could say he still is.
Yeah. Sure. I mean--It’s just that--as his mother--You don’t
seem--Don’t you feel--you know--even slightly--as his mother-- responsible--in some way--
Don’t strain yourself, dear.
But as his mother--
That’s not it, dear.
But these conditions--Mrs Weston--
I told you, dear: All iatrogenic. Remember?
His gay-ness, too?
Well, my goodness! How parochial. What happened to Columbia
class of n’importe quand--and ‘all my artist friends in The Village’?
Elle est juste la fille de son père.
How very late-forties, early fifties. Really. . . Philly and his father
used to be quite a tandem. More fun than a barrel of Quaaludes,
they used to say.
Oh, maman, t’es en folie du vin maintenant.
If you could have seen them. . . . Disco dolls. Always with those
poppers that Phillip loved so--that amyl nitrate, butyl nitrate, you
know? . . . Phillip had been getting them from his friend Dave at
Burroughs, you know, at Burroughs-Wellcome, for a very long
time, but by the time Philly was born,--in the, you know, the early
60s--they’d lifted the prescription requirements and you could just
get them over the counter. They were for heart problems, you
know? But Phillip just loved them because--
Your husband was . . . ?
--well, he just did. He loved them.
N’oublie pas les Rouges, les Blanches, et les Anges Bleues. Allez
les Bleues! Allez les Bleues! . . . Et bien les Loads.
Well, then--. . . Dans ce dossier là, il manque plus que juste
les propres noms.
. . And at these discos--and bars, and baths, and leather clubs,
you could see the two of them shuffling around in a daze, holding
popper bottles under their noses.--
Ah, Loads. Doradin et Codeïne numero quatre. Comme un
speedbalI dont on peut manger. Babiller comme un putain de
I mean all the time. At some of these gay places the miasma of
volatile nitrites had replaced cigarette smoke as atmosphere.
YVONNE & PHILLY
Some gay men became so addicted to poppers that they were
never without their little bottles, they snorted nitrite fumes around
Oh, c’est pas vrai. Pas de tout. De temps en temps on doit faire
une pause pour un peu de cocaïne ou de crystal meth pour
neutraliser tout l’alcool ou n’importe quel autre genre de stup’.
For gay men like Philly, who came out in the late 70s, poppers were
as much a part of the gay clone lifestyle--The Look--as moustaches
or flannel shirts. Those full-page ads Wellcome ran in the Advocate,
--and The Native.
(Singing like Dietrich)
I vant a boy, juste like za boy zat buggered dear old Dad. ‘E vas
a squirrel, mit nuts like oaken burls, zat drove pewr Dadzy mad.
The colors of this one brand,--the bright red and yellow of the
Rush label--you remember Rush? No, of course not.--But it was
so distinctive. A gay candidate in San Francisco used this color
scheme on his campaign poster and won. Oh, I’m sure this is all
just before your time, but--god, Rush, Ram, Rock Hard, . . . Climax,
uh, Thunderbolt, Locker Room, . . . uh, Crypt Tonight--catchy, huh?
--Well, in the 70s you could get these nitrite inhalers at any head
shop. Phillip was kind of a guru at that time--and not just to Philly.
Not just to his son.
Putain! Il était le plus important cuir du monde--de l’univers,
avec son intelligence spirituelle. Le chef des pédanqueurs.
So Burroughs was your first sponsor. And--well, . . .--Now with
the AZT and 3TC, or now it’s Combivir, right? I know. Two, two, two
retrovirs in one! Yum, yum!--I guess they’re still your horse, huh?
YVONNE & PHILLY
More than you know.
(Singing like Dietrich)
More zan you know. More zan you know. Gearl of mine dreams,
I luf you zo.
(Not referring to her files--
she knows this shit by heart.)
And this would be true also of, . . . ummnn . . . this would go for . . .
ummnn, Roche, right? C’est pour Fortovase ou saquinavir, et
l’autre truc . . . qui . . . s’appelle . . . quoi? . . .
PHILLY & CROSSLEY
Yeah. Roche should be good for--well, . . . Those drugs aren’t
cheap. Neither is Glaxo’s shit, but hell, Roche is probably
worth, uhmmn, well, . . . Then there’s, ah, . . . He’s on . . . ah,
Viramune, right? So that’s Boehringer Ingelheim kicking down.
Il est nécessaire de surveiller l’état du foie avec cette merde là.
Des hépatites graves sont possible avec cette merde.
Then there’s Norvir from Abbott. Les gélules dosées à cent
Elles pourront être conservées au frigo.
And, uh, . . . then there’s . . . uh, Merck with Crixivan. Les gélules
à quartre cents. And these aren’t even available in France yet.
En effet, si l’on associe Crixivan à Viramune ou à Sustiva, ou
encore à certains antibiotiques anti-mycobactéries, Il faut
augmenter les doses de Crixivan à mille milligrammes toutes
les huit heures au lieu de huit cents milligrammes.
Then another one he’s test-piloting, Videx, from B-M-S. He’s doing
the four hundreds. . . . And . . . then . . . there’s Prévéon. And there’s,
uh, Viracept. Et ces sont juste les antiprotéases--sans compter tous
les autres genres de came pour douleur, pour sommeil, pour réveiller
et pour faire pipi/caca. He’s got so many different chemicals--
banging around inside him, no wonder we can’t get any kind of
consistent read. But this must all pretty much keep your bulldog
fed, huh? As they used to say at ole B-C. Oh yeah, and let’s not
forget La Pension d’Invalidité, l’Alloc aux Adultes Handicapés,
and all the C-P-A-M’s et C-R-A-M’s et la Commission Technique
d’Orientation et de Reclassement Professionnel et toutes les petits
combines au côté de l’A-N-P-E et la Caisse d’Alloc Familiale.
I’m surprised you haven’t proposed your son to animate a theatre
stage AFDAS. Tu doit être une véritable administratrice de biens.
Yes, indeed. Très drôle ça. Imaginative quand même.
C’est pas la moitié de truc--pas la moite-moite de truc.
And you don’t seem like the sort of folks came to France on
vacation and just decided to stay. You strike me as people
who’re trying to get into something--maybe to get out of some-
[Karl enters the audience from the back of the house. He is lost in the tunnels of the métro. He wanders through the audience searching for a way out. He may get very close or even sit next to an audience member, but he never really interacts with them--after all, he is alone in the dark with only his madness for company.]
(To himself softly, out-of-breath)
Glacière, ben. . . . C’est où? . . . Quel sens?
You know, in the States, Medicare contractors beat the government
for a hundred billion dollars--that’s with a ‘B’--last year. Blue Cross/
Blue Shield had to pay two hundred twenty-one billion dollars--that’s
another ‘B’--in fines for cheating the government, and that’s just in
Maman? C’est foutu!
(To the darkness, but much louder)
Alors, j’ai un message pour vous. Un message pénible, mais
en faveur de la cause que vous avez soutenue.
Well. Can you ever forgive me for what I said earlier. About your
absent faculties. You’re a veritable P-D-R.
Voici les faits : --
Et elle boit trop. Elle est complètement bourrée quand même.
--le professeur Charlus, de Kiel, s’est suicidé récemment dans
des circonstances très particulières ; --
(Taking a Herald Trib from under the coffee
table in front of her and ruffling through it.)
Here. Listen to this. ‘HIV Levels Influence Transmission.’ This
is in . . . (She checks the date.) Monday’s Tribune.
--j’étais son élève et je connaissais sa pensée, surtout celle qui
l’obsédait et le conduisit au suicide. --
‘The higher the level of HIV in a pregnant woman's blood, the
more likely she was to transmit the virus to her baby, researchers
reported today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
(To himself again, but not so softly)
Ben non. C’est pas ça. C’est à contresens là. Glacière, merde.
[Karl is on the move.]
‘The researchers also found that pregnant women with the highest
levels of HIV were one-third less likely to transmit the virus if they
were treated with the anti-retroviral drug A-Z-T than those who were
(Again assaulting the void)
Ayant récemment assisté une de ses cousines lors de son
accouchement, celle-ci succombait peu de jours plus tard par
The researchers concluded that aggressive anti-retroviral therapy
is probably the best way to lower the risk that babies will be born
with AIDS.’ -- Would you like some more wine, dear?
Glacière?! Putain de toxicomane de Glacière!
[Karl leaves the audience, if possible, by a different way from the one by which he entered.]
Yes. Thanks. Please. . . . Yes, I read that. So what’s your point?
Ça me fait mal. Tout ça. Avec les enfants.
[Yvonne pulls herself off the divan with great difficulty. She takes Crossley’s large glass and goes to the bar for more wine.]
They don’t mention where these tests were done, but . . .
It’s from Africa. South Africa, I think.
Yes. I know. And Tanzania and Uganda.
We’re with the W-H-O on the South African end.
By the by, did you know, ah, . . . a couple of years ago Uganda--
one dollar a head for health care in its national budget--got six
million--six million, that’s like 13% of its G-D-P--for Aids research
and prevention from foreign agencies. Seven hundred fifty--
grand from your very own W-H-O. Against a mere fifty-seven
thousand for prevention and treatment of malaria--which kills
around two million people each year in Sub-Saharan Africa--and,
just by the by again, is believed to trigger H-I-V positive Aids tests--
But I digress. . . . You know about Concorde, don’t you, dear?
Uh, . . . whoa. Say what?
The drug test. Concorde? The French government ran it. Between
1988 and ‘92. On A-Z-T. You know it?
Oh, I may have heard of it. I don’t really recall.
Dommage. And you were so impressive with those drug
companies back there, and dosages and all.
You know, Mrs Weston, I can just sign-off on this. Go back--
I can walk back to my office.
‘You know, Mrs Weston, I can just sign-off on this.’ Elle est trop
Now, now. Wait. You see, Philly was put on A-Z-T straight away.
And straight away he got very sick. At first he was, for Philly,
fairly healthy. Some thrush in his mouth and the usual bouts
with sinusitis and cold sores--but because his T-4 count was
very low, they put him on A-Z-T, and in a few weeks he was having
severe chest pains, constant indigestion, loss of appetite, weight
loss, joint pains, muscle pains and wastage, headaches and
vomiting. He nearly died. Then he stopped taking the A-Z-T.
Ouais. J’ai arrêté. Exactement comme la star d’une pendaison.
Arrêté par la corde au cou.
I kept saying, ‘Look how sick he is.’ And they kept saying, ‘Well,
of course he’s sick. He has Aids.’ But when Philly stopped the
A-Z-T, he got better. Really. But the doctors said it was the
A-Z-T working. And we managed to fake them out for a long
time. Their controls were very--j’n’sais quoi--très tordu--tu voit?
Yes, of course. When Concorde came out and said that A-Z-T
was worse than useless--it actually did grave harm--irreparably
damaged the bone marrow and what not. Well, this sent Wellcome
into a tizzy. They’d been making zillions on this stuff,--Wellcome
made more than three-hundred million dollars on A-Z-T alone in
1992, and more than two-hundred million in the first six months
of ‘93. And they were spending zillions more on research to show
that this stuff was the cat’s ass.
All the research info I’ve seen seems to support the effectiveness of
A-Z-T. All other treatments are measured against it. It’s just a given,
A-Z-T. And your file says your son’s been on over eleven hundred
mikes a day for a hella long time.
We’d seen scores of kids like Philly die from treatment with A-Z-T.
(In genuine pain and anger)
Pourquoi tu m’as laissé dans ce bordel de merde.
The doctors started giving it to symptom-free H-I-V-positives,
then mistaking the toxic reactions to the drug for the symptoms
Pourquoi tu ne m’as pas sauvé des tortionnaires. Les médecins
The study that got A-Z-T its license from the F-D-A was frought with
problems of protocol and bad data.
I don’t know where you’re going with this, but--I really have to pee.
(To Crossley, with authority, though unheard)
Ta gueule, salope! On parle de ma vie là!
It involved two hundred eighty-one Aids patients who were
supposed to be tested for twenty-four weeks, but was canceled
after only fifteen patients had run the full course. It seems that only
one of those receiving the real A-Z-T had died, while nineteen died
in the placebo group. Now that’s a phenomenally high death rate.
Hard to get folks to stick around in that placebo group, huh?
Nothing like that has ever been seen again in any comparable study.
None the less, that seems to say--to me, at least--
No, dear. No. The Wellcome Foundation was funding all these
studies. Now, I’m sure you know the Wellcome Foundation.
After Concorde--et une autre étude de l’Hôpital Claude Bernard
à Paris qui avait aussi déclaré que A-Z-T est naze--Wellcome was
under real pressure. No matter how they rigged their studies, how
they cooked their blood and their numbers, all these studies were
stopped early because their drug was actually killing people.
But A-Z-T has been shown to . . .--You said yourself . . . fewer
deaths in the A-Z-T group. --Sorry, but I gotta go t’the john.
Those who survived these truncated studies,--Later, they died
like flies. It seems they were being kept alive during the course
of the studies with repeated transfusions. So when Wellcome
came to us,--and they didn’t know that Philly had been dodging
their drug--they thought Philly was one of the most studied of
their patient-subjects, the perfect poster boy for the A-Z-T industry.
They proposed to keep us both alive as long as Philly was strong
enough to hold up the banner for Glaxo-Wellcome. And remember,
we’re not talking about l’Alloc Familiale here.
You’re saying you’re on a private retainer from Glaxo-Wellcome.
While receiving subventions from us?
Forgive me, dear, but your subventions . . . --This is not some
mud hut in . . . Ghana here. We are not naked savages being
bled white to resemble our masters.
I don’t know about the naked part, but what I’ve seen--and heard--
’round here--makes me think may-be . . .,uh, ci-vil-i-zi-ation hasn’t
completely taken with you--or you to it.
Listen. By the time Wellcome made their offer, A-Z-T or not, Philly’s
hepatitis had developed into hepatic lymphoma. You know? He
had nothing left to lose. So why not go along?
(Distracted by her growing need to piss.)
Sure, why not. I didn’t see much left of him to lose. Oh, Jesus.
(Mocking both women)
Bien fuckin’ sûr, pourquoi pas.
But this meant a ghoulish regimen of tranfusions and transplants,--
spinal fluid, bone marrow--(ind: OR) those things in the jars in
there?--until Philly became this kind of acid bath through which
blood products and donated organs--or stolen, who knows--were
being cleared of impurities and, well, genetically adjusted for
transfusion or transplant into patients suffering from very particular,
always grave, illnesses. But always very old and very rich patients.
(Reconcentrated somewhat by the shock)
And Glaxo-Wellcome was running--was funding all this?
[Philly is seated on the bench in métro station now and listens as though from a great distance.]
Not entirely. No. . . . In 1994, at a conference at Pasteur, we were
introduced to Milica Matric, a Yugoslav hematologist from Sarajevo.
She’d been working very closely with Silva Patek of the Byla Plasma
Products Labs in Bucharest. Huh? They had, I guess you could say,
developed a system to process blood--this is beyond Factor 8--and
other body tissues awaiting transplant so as to make them more, uh,
compatible--or more resistant to rejection. But this whole procedure
depended on having a genetically ambivalent conduit-host. Some-
one whose immune system was already so depressed, so . . .
destroyed that it would not reject or in any other way infect the
transfused blood or soon-to-be transplanted organs. Their system
was derived from a practice developed in the Balkans, clandestinely,
under the noses of the Ottoman Turks, toward the end of the last
century, by a cabalist cult within the Orthodox Church, where
blood was banked--always the blood of high noblemen and clergy--
and then passed by transfusion--or injection and extraction, most
likely, in those days--through certain of these very select mediums--
usually madmen or women--what today, I imagine, we would call
schizophrenics--and not only mad, but in desperately poor physical
health as well. You know, dying. These were beggars and village
idiots and scabrous drunks and lepers and syphilitics and, well,
just plain old balls-out goners. They gave to this blood that was
transfused through them a quality of resistance--I don’t know, uh,
antibodies or something--that was initially felt by the recipient as
a surge of well-being, a rush, and that was believed to convey to the
recipients of this ‘washed’ blood a borderline divinity, an immunity to
all forms of physical and mental decline and corruption, disease--
even aging. After World War Two, these conduit/hosts, Gorics
they were called, started dying out--like the Chinese Eunuchs.
Maybe because of Communist repression of the Church--or
maybe just better health care under Tito--I don’t know. But when
we learned about all this, there were only a few, a handful of
them known to still be alive. A few of them were killed off in ‘95
when the Croats cleared out Krajina. The ones that Milica had
been treating--working with in Sarajevo--were assassinated as
infidels by some Muslim death squads. What may be among the
last of the Gorics are supposed to--have been reported to be in
hiding in an Orthodox monastery just outside Klokot in Serbia--or
in Kosovo, I guess you’d say, now, to be more exact. The French
plasma industry has been monitoring this esoteric system very
closely for some time. Gurdjieff was supposed to be developing
Gorics out at Basses-Loges in the twenties. But since the scandal
with Laurent Fabius and the H-I-V-tainted blood transfused to the
French hemophiliacs, they’ve gotten really interested. I think that’s
why Bernie Kouchner was sent to be U.N. special representative
to Kosovo. He was the Minister of Health before, you know? I used
to play bridge with Monsieur Kouchner when I first got to Paris. Over
at the Egyptian Embassy. Used to say my declarer play was poetry--
said I reminded him of his favorite English poet, Angie Dickinson.
. . . Bernie and Omar Sharif against Sophie Barjac and me. Lovely.
Just rubber Bridge, mind you. Party Bridge, you know? You play?
[Karl enters the audience as before. Lost in the underground.]
Do I play? Not before I pee!
(In medias rant)
Le désintoxiqué connaît de brefs sommeils, et des réveils qui
ôtent le goût de s’endormir.
It’s a wonderful game. I don’t know if Proust played, but he’d
have loved it. All concentration and memory and artificial
(To himself, even more lost)
C’est Place d’Italie par là? En bas. Ouais. Non, merde. C’est
complètement de l’autre côté. Ooooooohh. --Et Glacière?
(Drinking and doing all she can
to hang on to consciousness)
So, you’re washing that shit up in there? In those jars?
D’une certaine façon. Oui.
(Shouting into darkness)
Il semble que l’organisme sorte d’un hivernage, de cette étrange
économie des tortues, des marmottes, des crocodiles.
(Angrier and more confused)
Is this . . . piece work you do? Do you get paid by the organ?
(Seems to be withdrawing)
J’en ai marre. C’est trop ça.
(Wandering & shouting)
Notre aveuglement, notre obstination à juger tout d’après notre
rythme, nous faisaient prendre la lenteur du végétal pour une
And this is your-- . . . how you . . . explain it? This vampire story?
Explaining? Is that what I’ve been doing?
Elle s’excuse pour ma morte qui va arriver très tôt.
(Again stopping to change directions)
Mais non. Mais non. C’est évidemment par là. Pas par là. Mais
oui, elle est par là Glacière.
Et je m’excuse pareillement pour ma mort.
Et il a dit quoi de tout ça, Philly?
J’imagine que tu l’en trouverais content.
YVONNE & PHILLY
Ah oui. Bien sûr.
(Again feeling around in the dark)
Rien n’illustre mieux le drame d’une désintoxication que ces films
accélérés, qui dénoncent les grimaces, les gestes, les contorsions
du règne végétal.
Il n’a pas l’air de quelqu’un de bien content.
(Rushing out of the audience)
Le même progrès dans le domaine auditif nous permettra sans
doute d’entendre les cris d’une plante. Gla--ci--ière!
Il était toujours evident qu’il va mourir bien tôt. Personne ne sera
surpris quand il sera mort. And I’ve been completely prepared for
years. In every way.
Assurance? Viatical contracts? . . . Quel courage!
Faut que j’y aille.
Je puis voir maintenant pourquoi tu n’a pas d’imagination. Du
coeur quand même. Ton esprit est trop tendu. You have children?
[Philly moves back into the SR area. Crossley tries unsuccessfully to get to her feet.]
Toutes les mères sont les fauves fébriles.
Look, Mrs Weston. I think I have to tell you. This will not hold
up. I’ve got to get your son out of here. --But first I’ve got to piss.
So he can die in some nice hospice, with plastic flowers all
around? I don’t think so.
[Crossley is now on all-fours, trying to move around a bit. Her ass is toward Philly.]
Elle est jolie. Vu sous cet angle. Très jolie.
So you can ‘sign off’ on him? Another casualty in the war on
Aids. Put his name on the quilt? Drape his coffin with a big red
J’ai envie d’elle. Check out that ass.
Quand il meurt--When Philly dies, it will be a much bigger--a much
more significant event than all your doctors and researchers put
together could imagine.
You know, you are one very scary bitch, ma’am.
Zoot alors! More wine, then? I’ll tell you about the last blood of
the Goric. The death blood. The last draw.
She makes my dick harder ‘n times back in ‘29.
[Philly is moving toward the SR exit. Yvonne rises to get herself more wine.]
Après sa mort il deviendra même plus important. Plus précieux
quand même. Ses dernièrs litres d’essence--il n’est pas possible
de les surestimer.
I really have to pee. Absolutely last call. You don’t have another
toilet, do you?
Can’t face him again? But of course. You’d probably send some
rubber-gloved weight lifters over to pick him up, wouldn’t you, dear?
[After taking a long drink, Yvonne puts her large glass on the table and starts helping Crossley to her feet, without complete success, then to the divan, through all this.]
There are organizations trying to stop farmers stuffing their geese’s
livers full of corn and such shit. You think M-B-As’re all just money-
grubbing capitalist . . . trying to force dope on a world we made sick
our own bad selves. I know our tests aren’t harmless--the drugs, you
know, can fuck badly with certain people. We’re not all of us created
equal and side effects are another way of saying collateral damage
which is another way of saying, ‘Oops! Sorry! Fucked up!’ When I
started out, doing flow charts and shit like that for A-M-I--American
Medical International, huh?, biggest fuckin’ medical marketing outfit
going, huh?--at that time, anyway--I, uh, what?, uh, yeah, I, uh, I, uh,
well, I misread ‘C-C’, you know, the letters ‘C-C’, as ‘cardiac
catheterization’ instead of--fuckin’ what?--instead of, uh, well, uh,
‘complicating conditions’, which is what it is, or was supposed to be.
I could just see, you know, guys going into an A-M-I place, you know,
with, like, a hang nail, and coming out with, like, a tube sticking out of
their chests. Fuck. Yeah, well, they caught it, you know. No harm,
no foul, no blood, no good looking E-M-T giving you mouth-to-. . . ,
you know, -mouth. But I always figured there was plenty a shit got
by all wrong. You know, plenty of snafus chez A-M-I. Major fuck-ups
all around. --Oh, god, I’m in such pain here.-- And you know, the
number of people die each year from, uh, misprescribed or, uh,
misapplied medicine makes the shit in the Balkans look like a paper
cut. --Ugh, damn!--You know what I’m sayin’? If NATO really, uh,
wanted to do something for suffering humanity, they really should
a bombed an A-M-A convention or all the H-M-Os. But, hey, uhmm,
whatever you might think of me--M-B-A or A-Z-T or F-U-C-K--I’m not
in this to get rich, or to get the Association rich, or even to get Glaxo
rich--like, duh, might be a little tardy on that one. . . . You know?
Huh? Mrs Weston? --Jesus, I’m going to explode!-- I’m really--uhm,
I’m just really just trying to help. You know? Trying to do . . .
the next dumb thing that might help. Help stop Aids. Help your
son even maybe not to suffer quite so much. Help you get through
the day without having to suffer quite so much. . . . I know I’m not
making any fucking sense at all. I think I’m starting to taste this piss
up in here. Guess I’m drunk, huh? Yeah.--Drunker’n I thought I’d
be, or suntheen--but--and I don’t understand you one fucking bit--
what you’re up to or up against or anything. I just can’t let him die
like that, in there, like that. I’ve got to do something. Something.
I’ve really, really . . . got to pee.
Here, let me help you.
C’est dégueulasse ça. Ce comportement là. J’n’peux plus
[Yvonne helps Crossley on to the divan. This is very difficult, very awkward. They are both by now very drunk.]
Oh, god, I just can’t.
There, there, dear. Just let me help you.
Je sais et tu sais, maman. Seulement je sais et tu sais.
I can’t. Anymore. I can’t hold it anymore.
That’s all right, dear. Just let it go. Pas de probleme.
Seulement je sais et tu sais. . . Je sais et tu sais. . . . Je sais et
tu sais. . . .
[Crossley pees in her pants.]
Oh. Oh. . . . Oh. I’m so sorry. I’m so . . . sorry.
It’s quite all right, dear. Don’t you worry.
It’s just . . . I just haven’t been this drunk in . . . well I haven’t even
had anything . . . at all . . .--Oh, god, what have I done?!
[Crossley is on the divan, on her knees with her head down, buried in her hands. Crossley is beginning to cry.]
Now, don’t get upset, here. Here, let me help you. Let’s get those
wet trousers off you first.
[Yvonne begins to unbutton Crossley’s slacks.]
Oh. I just want to die. I’m so embarrassed.
It’s been some time since I’ve had to do something like this. You
know, look after a dear thing like you. Here, just let me get these
down. Get them off you.
[Yvonne is now covering her actions from the audience.]
My, look at you. How beautiful you are.
Oh, please. Mrs Weston. Help me. Please. The Association.
Of course, dear. Of course. Just lift up here. . . . There. That’s a
[Yvonne has removed Crossley’s slacks and throws them US.]
I wish I could just die!
Pas de tout, chérie. Don’t be ridiculous. Here, let’s get these off
too. Uh-huh. That’s right. Just let me lift you again. That’s right.
[Yvonne has removed Crossley’s underpants and throws them US. Crossley is crying very hard now.]
There’s no need to carry on like that. You’re going to be just fine.
[Yvonne begins to massage Crossley’s ass with one hand. She moves the other hand up under her skirt and now removes her own underpants, a blown-out pair of men’s white Jockey shorts, then throws them US. She then returns her hand up under her large skirt and appears to be massaging herself.]
There. . . . There. . . . Now, . . . doesn’t that feel better? . . . Yes.
[Yvonne leans down to try and stifle Crossley’s crying with some kisses while she caresses her breasts.]
There now. There now. There’s no more pain, dear. No more
pain. It’s all gone. All gone.
[Crossley seems to cry less, though she speaks with great pain in her voice.]
Your son. . . . What can we do . . . with your . . . about your son?
Yes, of course, dear. . . . Of course. . . . There. Ah. There. . . .
Let me just make you feel better, dear.
[Yvonne returns her hand to work Crossley’s raised ass. Her other hand works harder and faster under her own skirt.]
(A growing arousal in her voice.)
Oh, no. . . . Oh, no. . . . Oh no. . . . Oh no. . . . Ooooooh noooo.
That’s right, dear. Just let it flow. Just let it come.
[Yvonne now mounts the divan behind Crossley, covering her with her large skirt. This appears to be a beast not with two backs, but with two heads.]
Proust knew so much about love, dear. About the feelings that
make us want one another. Want to possess the loved one.
Oh, no. I can’t. No.
[Yvonne leans down and, like a cat, appears to bite Crossley between the shoulder blades.]
Not homosexual or hetrosexual. Just love. But all-comsuming love.
[Yvonne appears to thrust herself, her hips, into Crossley.]
His love for Albertine is the most beautiful, the most passionately
rendered and the saddest love I have ever known--or known about.
What’s . . . ugh. But it’s your son. I want . . .--No. . . . I want to
help your son
[Yvonne begins to thrust more vigoursly and more rapidly into Crossley.]
But they say she was really a he--his chauffeur. Albert, or Alfred,
or something, Agostinelli. They say all his women, toutes les jeunes
filles en fleurs, Odette and Gilberte, all of them were really men.
Qu’est-ce qu’il se passe? Oh, god. Mother. You’re his mother.
Ah oui. Ah oui. C’est bon comme ça. Oui.
Oh, no. No. God. You’re . . . his . . . mother.
Ah oui, oui, oui. Je vais jouir. Ah oui. Je jouis! Je jouis!
Oh, no. . . . Your son. . . . Mrs Weston, what are you-- (doing)?
[OSR the metal gate is heard to open and slam shut.]
(At the height of exhiliration)
J’n’suis pas sa mère. Ma pauvre. J’suis-- J’suis--
[Karl suddenly appears in the window]
CHARLUS! Qu’est-ce que tu fait là? Merde!
[Yvonne has collapsed all over Crossley and is holding her in a wrestling control hold.]
Oui. C’est ça. Charlus! C’est moi.
[Yvonne continues to laugh monstrously. Crossley continues to whimper impotently. Both immobilized by drunken exhaustion. And Karl climbs into the room through the window. He rushes out the SR exit. Soon a great commotion is heard OR: glass breaking, metal stands falling over, paper and linen rustling.]
(In a mad shriek)
C’est moi Charlus! Voleur d’innocence! Donateur de vie!
[Yvonne seems to lose consciousness. Crossley continues to whimper in pain.]
[Karl enters DSR and quickly Xs to the window URC. Over his shoulder, rolled up in a filthy sheet stained with all manner of excretion, Karl has slung Philly. Only Philly’s head is visible sticking out of the sheet on Karl’s back and we can recognize his face though he no longer has his hair, his pony tail. His totally shaved head is spotted with reddish-blue hematomas. Also hanging out of the rolled-up sheet are several neoprene tubes, some with broken jars still attached and some just dripping colored fluids. Karl doesn’t even refer to the divan. He only stops to adjust his load, then climbs out the window and goes OUR.]
[The metal gate is heard to open then clang shut.]
END OF ACT II
(Eight months have passes.)
IN BLACK we hear some SOFT CLASSICAL MUSIC (Mozart or Chopin, perhaps).
AFTER SEVERAL MOMENTS OF MUSIC:
We hear in VO a MALE VOICE we’ve not heard before. Perhaps it is the voice of Marcel Proust speaking from somewhere far, far away:
J’éprouvais un sentiment de fatigue et d’effroi à sentir que tout
ce temps si long non seulement avait, sans une interruption, été
vécu, pensé, sécrété par moi, qu’il était ma vie, qu’il était moi-même,
mais encore que j’avais à toute minute à le maintenir attaché à moi,
qu’il me supportait, moi, juché à son sommet vertigineux, que je ne
pouvais me mouvoir sans le déplacer.
AT RISE (The lights flicker up as in Act I when trains left the métro station.) : There is no one on stage. SL, the métro station, is exactly as it was at the top of the show. SR, everything in the apartment has been covered with dusty, soiled white sheets, to give the impression that the démanagement took place some time ago. The window UR is closed, as is the metal storm window-covering outside it. The lighting suggests two equally closed, airless places.
The music and VO continue:
La date à laquelle j’entendais le bruit de la sonnette du jardin de
Combray, si distant et pourtant intérieur, était un point de repère
dans cette dimension énorme que je ne me savais pas avoir.
The music and VO continue in Black:
J’avais le vertige de voir au-dessous de moi, en moi pourtant,
comme si j’avais des lieues de hauteur, tant d’années.
LIGHTS FLICKER UP: (Same dim lighting as before.)
[All is the same but for the addition of Karl, who is sitting hunched under the leprosy poster. He is only slightly better dressed than in Act II: Cleaner shirt and better shoes, perhaps. He has no Aids ribbon, but a black mourning band is around his sleeve. And he seems more calm, though still far, far from serene. He sits very still, rigid.]
The music and VO continue:
Je venais de comprendre pourquoi le duc de Guermantes, dont
j’avais admiré, en le regardant asis sur une chaise, combien il
avait peu vieilli bien qu’il eût tellement plus d’années que moi
au-dessous de lui, . . . (cont)
Music and VO continue in Black:
(cont) . . .dès qu’il s’était levé et avait voulu se tenir debout, avait
vacillé sur des jambes flageolantes comme celles de ces vieux
archevêques sur lesquels il n’y a de solide que leur croix métallique
et vers lesquels s’empressent des jeunes séminaristes gaillards, . . .
LIGHTS FLICKER UP:
[Everything is the same as before but for the addition of Crossley, who stands with her back to the audience and opens wide all the windows URC. After she has opened the windows, and bright sunlight fills the apartment SR, she turns into the room and we she is well along in her pregnancy. She looks to be about eight month along. She is wearing black with a veil on her head but pulled away from her face. She stands with her back to the window, very still, and just looks at the room.]
The Music and VO continue:
(cont) . . . et ne s’était avancé qu’en tremblant comme une feuille,
sur le sommet peu praticable de quatre-vingt-trois années, comme
si les hommes étaient juchés sur de vivantes échasses, grandissant
sans cesse, parfois plus hautes que des clochers, finissant par leur
rendre la marche difficile et périlleuse, et d’où tout d’un coup ils
The Music and VO continue in Black:
Je m’effrayais que les miennes que j’aurais encore la force de
maintenir longtemps attaché à moi ce passé qui descendait déjà
LIGHTS FLICKER UP:
[The same as before, but Karl is gone, leaving only his shoes behind, neatly set together under the leprosy poster. And Philly has been rolled on in the Black. Philly is just US of the door SR looking into the room. He is wearing slacks and a sweater--rather smart, preppie. He has no hair and his head still shows the hematomas. He is very thin and very pale. His mouth is puckered and encrusted with yellow stuff. He sits in a wheel chair, his head resting in a special brace, a metal collar supported by four steel rods anchored to the arms of the chair. Crossley has moved down to the covered divan and has rested one hand on the back, as if she might want to uncover it but does not dare. Both Crossley and Philly are motionless. Staring at different places in the room, but not at one another. The room is very bright with afternoon sun.]
The Music and VO continue:
Du moins, si elle m’était laissée assez longtemps pour accomplir
mon oeuvre, ne manquerais-je pas d’abord d’y décrire les hommes
(cela dût-il les faire ressembler à des êtres monstrueux) comme
occupant une place si réservée dans l’espace, . . . (cont)
[Suddenly Yvonne is standing outside the window URC. She is well US. She is wearing a flowing yellow robe. Gradually we notice that she is speaking the VO.]
(cont) . . . une place au contraire prolongée sans mesure --
puisqu’ils touchent simultanément, comme des géants plongés
dans les années, à des époques si distantes, entre lesquelles
tant de jours sont venus se placer -- dans le Temps.