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Likely Death of a Salesman

Here there be dragons the play I wrote for this semester's 24 Hour project! (Without italics because LJ hates Word.)

“Likely Death of a Salesman”
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Characters:
-    ALEX: Self-centered and judgmental. Measures people based on their tastes in food.
-    MOM: Alex’s mother, fed up with her childish snobbery. In Mom’s world, survival is more important than high-flying dreams.
-    PEACH: Alex’s brother. Self-named philosopher who dearly likes to eat. His passion is artwork. He is working on his magnum opus, “Flambéed Shank of Salesman Going Down Esophagus.”
-    MEAT: Door-to-door salesman of self-help books. Dinner.

Prompt: “How many times do I have to tell you? Queens eat nectar and ambrosia, not hot dogs!”
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    [SETTING: Evening, kitchen. ALEX sits alone, hunched over the table, staring dismally at the wall. She plays with an empty glass. Enter MOM and PEACH, carting the bewildered MEAT by his arms and legs.]

    MOM: Clear that table, Alex. Alright, Peach! One – Two – [hoists MEAT onto the table] Now isn’t that a nutritious-looking meal!

    PEACH: [excited] We’re having hot dogs tonight!

    ALEX: Oh God, Mom, not another one.

    MEAT: Wait a second, wait a second –

    MOM: Oh, don’t you start, Al.

    PEACH: [inspects MEAT closely, getting into his personal space]

    ALEX: But Mom – another tech geek? That’s the third time this week! They’re so… stringy and… make me feel like stabbing a Pit-fiend.

    MEAT: [watching PEACH uncomfortably] Um, I’m not a techie. I’m a salesman. [PEACH inspects MEAT’s hands, which have writing on them] That’s, um –

    PEACH: “5 copies sold, 11 still in boxes, 3 thrown in my face along with an unnecessary string of expletives.”

    MEAT: See, I sell books. Books for academics, you know? Very, um, very tough and dry writing, no zest at all, and, uh, rubbery.

    MOM: [to ALEX] Why are you complaining, anyhow? [mocking] Didn’t you swear off meat?

    ALEX. Not meat, Mom, just slops. Do you have any idea where these guys come from? [gives MEAT’s cheeks a squeeze] I mean, when’s the last time he saw any kind of light besides the television screen? Who knows what goes into him! Popcorn and fortune cookies and – and Cheez Whiz! He probably thinks butter is its own food group! How can you eat like this?

    MOM: Oh, it’s not so bad. A little Worcestershire sauce, a side of horseradish, and he’ll taste fine – unless he’s all rotten and moldy from waiting for you to come off that pedestal and take a bite!

    ALEX: Mom, get with it! We deserve to be elitist about what we eat. What goes inside your body is too important. Why should rich people and celebrities get all the fine dining while all we have are the scraps? You know, I may not be famous, but in spirit I’m a queen. How many times do I have to tell you? Queens eat nectar and ambrosia, not hot dogs! And you know who’s my ambrosia?

    PEACH: Nathan Fillion?

    ALEX: A king. A monarch. I want to eat my spiritual equal.

    PEACH: [rolls his eyes] Oh my God, she’s Spider-woman.

    ALEX: What’s that supposed to mean?

    PEACH: Nothing, Your Highness. I get it. You’re a queen. A queen who’s going to eat salesman hot dogs for dinner.

    ALEX: But –

    MOM: Young lady, I’m tired of your constant complaints about the way we live. In my day, if you didn’t eat your dinner it turned up again at breakfast, eyeballing you. Your father and I raised you to be grateful for what you receive, be it a chicken finger or a knuckle sandwich. Now, if I could feed you governor’s prime rib or grilled Miss Michigan on a bed of vermicelli, I would. But with your dear father gone – rest his soul in peace – and the economy being how it is, I’m afraid you’ll just have to make do!

    ALEX: [sarcastically] At least we haven’t fallen low enough to stick our knives in someone Fried-By-Mail.

    PEACH: Hey, Mom – I want a leg. Can I have a leg?

    MOM: [with a sigh] Sure, Peach. Sure you can have his leg.

    PEACH: Thanks. I want to use it as a reference for my painting.

    ALEX: And how’s that going, Peach? Your “magnum opus” – what’s it called again? “Goddess of Steak, Diana?”

    PEACH: That was when I was thinking only about the transcendental effects of an expertly prepared and plated meal. But I’ve expanded my vision.

    [PEACH leaves and returns with an unfinished canvas. The others gather around, pointing and inspecting.

PEACH: Food briefly transports us to a world beyond mere taste and texture. The interplay of the eater and the eaten creates a kind of consciousness within consciousness, a cross-roads where, for a fleeting slice of time, the two become one. I want to convey the transience of the gastronomic experience, juxtaposing the wonder and joy of ingestion with the deep sense of loss as food moves through the digestive tract, which leaves us anxious to eat again. I call it, “Flambéed Shank of Salesman Going Down Esophagus.”

    MEAT: [a little baffled] Wow, man. Deep.

    ALEX: Give me a break.

    PEACH: My sister chooses to keep herself ignorant of the latent power in eating to become a sensualistic epiphany.

    ALEX: You may be satisfied with a door-to-door salesman, but the thought of such a nobody “becoming one” with me is enough to kill my appetite for ever.

    MEAT: So you only want to eat people who are in some way your equals? [ALEX nods] Then why not eat yourself?

    ALEX: Eat myself?!

    MEAT: Sure. You’re obviously enough of a narcissist to see where I’m heading. Why wait for a worthy catch when you can nibble on your own charming self? “’Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.”

    ALEX: But wouldn’t that make me, like, a cannibal?

    MEAT: A more accurate term might be “autovore.”

    PEACH: [laughing] Stand up, dinner. [takes a good look at MEAT’s legs] That’s fine musculature. Very defined.

    MEAT: Really, you think?

    PEACH: Oh, absolutely. Your shanks were made to be immortalized in art.

    MEAT: Immortal, huh? That’s – Wait. No! I don’t want to be eaten. I have a wife and two kids! ... Well, an account on Matchmaker.com and two Scotties.

    PEACH: But you could become a crucial part of the food art revolution. Think about it – together we could rebel against modern conventions and inspire a whole new genre! We’ll splash the canvas with your insides – we’ll make a mosaic of Christ with your mandibles!

    MEAT: [pitifully] But I’m an atheist!

    MOM: Al, remember the Boulangers who lived down the street? They had a chance to taste a celebrity once, and they pooled their money to buy the biggest morsel they could. Know what it was? His nostrils. Now, true, the celebrity was Jamie Farr, but do you think they’re thankful they could eat their “spiritual equal?”

    ALEX: [wrinkles her nose, uncertain]

    MEAT: How would you eat nostrils? Aren’t they just empty holes?

    PEACH: Are they or aren’t they? There’s a metaphor in there, I think, a life lesson. A name alone doesn’t give substance. Nostrils, I feel your angst like the sting of a blade! [suddenly grabs MEAT’s head and dives forward to eat his nose]

    MEAT: [strangled cry]

    MOM: Peach! What are you doing – you can’t eat him raw!

    [MOM and ALEX struggle to remove PEACH from MEAT. Finally they pull him back by his arms. MEAT hides his nose, panting and scared.]

    ALEX: EW! Just when I thought I’d seen it all! You’re barbaric – all of you! [Exits]

    MOM: [to PEACH] What’s gotten into you?

    PEACH: I’m… I’m sorry. I lost control. But it’s been so long since I’ve felt so… inspired… [makes another weak attempt to grab MEAT]

    MOM: You go lie down for a while, Peach. I think you need some time to yourself. Hopefully by the time you come out, your sister will be thinking more with her stomach like she should. [PEACH exits] ‘Course you never have that problem with men. [smiles kindly at MEAT, who continues to dab at his nose] Now, did you say you sell books? I love to read, myself. Food for thought, as they say! What kind of books?

    MEAT: It’s called When Life Gets Tough, Just Chew and Swallow.

Comments

Generic Subject

Interesting little 'slice of life' with a different perspective. The ending had a fine clincher too.
It reminds me how I have to use words like Juxtapose more often. Or Magnum Opus. Just to clear the cobwebs every once in a while.

I wish you luck on getting your own fiction out. I hope to stumble on it some day. You definitely have the story-writing down, in my honest opinion.