Now This

By Scott Kaiser

University of Houston Production
Director: Sara Becker
Scenic/Projection Designer: Clint Allen
Costume Designer: Paige A. Willson
Lighting Designer: Travis Horstmann

Click here for excerpt #1 [pdf]

Click here for excerpt #2 [pdf]

 

First Voice:

Now this.

It is September. Starless night in the small town of Purple Mountain.

Hush now. No words. For all the consumers of the muted town are sleeping now.

Unplug, be still, and listen—for you alone are wide awake at this unpowered hour of the Unisom night.

Listen. It is night down Brownfield Road, where the Dasani Creek trickles into the Aquafina River, where the Allosaurus and the Smilodon once drank deep, where the Dasani tribe once civilized a small village, where the first euro-settlers set up camp, where the lumber mill was built, where the garment factory stood, and where the waste-water treatment facility now stands.

Look. It is night along Big-box Boulevard, where the Clear Cut Mall stands like a suburban fortress moated by a vast black asphalt sea, flags waving gallantly in the valley’s Frigidaire, rising high above white windowless walls bursting with the paparazzied glare of store signage and security floodage.

It is night at Richman’s Auto-Mart on Lemonworth Way, where this year’s plus-sized models line up hip-to-hip along the sidewalk, bumpers bared and headlights high, like a kick-line of rotund Rockettes, framed by a midnight-rainbow of buxom balloons, and splashed with Edison-daylight.

It is night on State Highway 29, heading south-south-south into town, where bang-the-drum billboards boast of 24/7 moldy-oldies on KPUR radio 98.6, the Cracker-Jack news team on TV-13 KPMT, the Best-Fricken-Sports-Channel-Ever on Red Rocket Satellite Radio, cheap diesel at the Ramparts Truck Stop and Car Wash, slots and 21 at the Dasani Creek Casino, and eighteen championship holes at the Broad Stripes Golf Club.

It is night at the Land-of-the-Free Gun Shop & Range, where locked glass cabinets of sidearms and loaded racks of rifles proudly wear the names that tamed the savage west—Eastwood Revolvers, Wayne shotguns, Fonda Rifles, Costner pistols, Hackman handguns, Ford Derringers, Cooper carbines, Stewart semi-autos, Mitchum Muzzleloaders, Palance pump shotguns, Autry assault rifles, and all the ammo, blammo and camo needed to regulate an uninfringed militia.

Time passes. Come closer. And listen.

It is night at the Unilever Hospital, where overworked Birth hit the in-vitro-trifecta, bringing three fresh consumers into the world, hand-delivered one-by-one-by-one, naked, hungry, and sleepy, through amnio-slick mortal-portals, placed in shopping carts, and left to rest quietly, lit by the Dura-flame of their mother’s flushed face.

It is night in a rock-a-bye corner of the Walbox parking lot, where RVers freely spend the do-not-pass-go night—resting their weary bones in save-a-bundle trundle beds aboard The GuzzleGreen, The FossilFeast, The LaneWeaver, The ReaperRacer, The GrandeFinale, and The DieBroker.

It is night at the Purple Mountain Eucerin Church, on the corner of Proctor and Gamble Streets, where the title of Pastor Poligrips’s upcoming sermon—“Don’t Discount your Unborn Child”—splashes the root-ruptured sidewalk with black Lucite letters lit from within.

It is night at the Bright Stars Strip Club, where Trix-elated Trauma knocked back shots with Mort Soloflex, who drank, in one happy hour, four-fifths of a fifth of scotch before hurtling himself home at hypersonic speed along Highway 29, sliding out of control at the sharp left turn by Ginsu Drive, executing an Olympic triple-axel down the embankment, and smashing to an unscheduled stop courtesy of an old stone wall buried beneath a BlackBerry patch.

Come still closer now. Quietly. And look.

For only you can see the wired-tired citizens of Purple Mountain drowsing in their lay-away bedrooms ’round the town—on View-lust Lane, where late shows flicker like unwatched plasma campfires; on Consumption Street, where smartphones snooze in kitchen-counter cribs, sucking electro-sustenance from the teat of the grid; on Sprawl Street, where dentures pillows zippers undies nails have been clipped, stripped, zipped, flipped, and dipped; on Encroachment Road, where romance novels lie, well-thumbed, in lonely laps, the lights still blazing; and on Have-more Street, where Beamers and Benzes, tucked nighty-night in triple-A garages, Beautyrest;

Listen. For only your ears can hear the hopes, wishes, prayers, fears of the recharging residents of Purple Mountain, lying quietly in the beds they made for themselves, as the spendthrift night consumes the unused minutes of their lives.

From where you are, you can hear their dreams.