May 10, 2006

A Play A Day #27

It's Time To Eat Kids

Ma Lemkins
Pa Lemkins
Grampa Lemkins
Gramma Lemkins

The Children, for reference:
Lisbet Lemkins (15)
Tommy Lemkins (13)
Bobby Lemkins (12)
Mary Lemkins (9)
Jed Lemkins (7)
Jeb Lemkins (7)
Jef Lemkins (7)
Laura Lemkins (6)
Paul Lemkins (4)
Pete Lemkins (2)
Poppy Lemkins (1)
Timmy Lemkins (1)

Narrator: Covered wagon. Heading west. Wagon is snowbound in the mountains. Things are looking bad for the Lemkins family. Very bad. Very, very bad. I mean, it could be worse, but, let's just say, it's pretty bad. How bad? Ummm... I just answered that.... yes, I did... I think "very" counts as a suitable descriptor. Listen, I can't waste time arguing with you. Our heroes are trapped. In the mountains. By snow. In their wagon. Heading west. Alright... fine! On a scale of 1 to 10. They are in a 6-sort-of-situation. What? (pause) What do you know about the dire situation in which the Lemkins find themselves? (pause) Yeah? (pause) You are a survivalist trainer for the National Park Service? (pause) Whatever! Listen, pal... it's, at least, a five-and-a-half! I rounded up. It's a lot of snow! The mountains are really high! It could be worse, but not much... o.k., o.k., fine... I'll give you a five! Happy now!? Can we start? Is that o.k. with you, oh great survivalist guy?! Fine. Let's go. It's nightime. Pa and Grandpa Lemkins are sitting around the fire. (Narrator does "magic fingers" and fades into background, not very well)

Pa: (so stoic it hurts) It's looking bad.

Grampa: (perhaps even more stoic than that) Very bad. (Ma and Gramma Lemkins join them.)

Pa: Kids all asleep, Ma?

Ma: Yes, Pa. All out.

Gramma: The look so comfortable. All twelve of them stuffed into the wagon like that.

Ma: Like pigs in the pen.

Pa: Yes. Stuffed pigs.

Gramma: What?

Pa: Nothing.

Grampa: Pa and I have been discussing the dire situation in which we find ourselves.

Narrator: (Jumping forward, very loud whisper) See, Mr. Know-It-All, I'm not the only one who finds it a, and I quote, "dire situation", end quote. (Gives the audience member a chin flip off, Italian-style)

Pa: What we all have to realize is that our situation is bad.

Grampa: Very bad.

Pa: Perhaps even very, very bad.

Grampa: Or even extremely, very bad.

Pa: Yes. That bad.

Grampa: And it might only get worse.

Pa: It could very well get worse.

Grampa: It will most definitely get worse.

Pa: Or even worse than that.

Grampa: Yes. Even worse.

Pa: Perhaps all the way to worst.

Grampa: Almost certainly.

Pa: Yes, worst before it gets better.

Grampa: Which is to say that it will get to a point that even an impartial outside observer (Narrator jumps forward, proudly pointing to himself, one more dramatic "Bite me!" motion to the combative audience member) might be able to objectively label as "worst", and, only then, having reached the "worst" possible scenario, will we be able to find ourselves in circumstances which this self-same observer could label as "better".

Pa: Exactly, and we must remember that "better" here is a relative term. Better than worst is only slightly less than worst.

Grampa: Nearly worst, so to speak.

Pa: But, over time, we should be able to progress past nearly worst and make it to an area that we could, theoretically, call... semi-worst.

Grampa: Of course, we could get even less worse than that... with time.

Pa: Yes, with time, all things will get sort-of, not-really-that-far-off from almost-in-a-way good.

Grampa: With time.

Pa: Yes.

(long pause, Ma and Gramma have been listening with their interest seming to hang on every word, but also with growing confusion, they exchange a long look, Pa and Grampa look into fire)

Ma: What, exactly are you trying to say, Grampa? (pause) Pa?

Gramma: Yes. What is going on her? Why all this negativity?

Grampa: We wouldn't expect you simple women to understand.

Pa: No, you do not possess the keen, analytical minds of us men.

Grampa: Nor do you have the primal instinct to survive like we do.

Pa: No, your instincts tell you only to knit and cook and suckle infants, while we men... we are burdened with the fateful choices! We must... Do!

Ma: You make many good points, Pa. So please, inform the simple-minded among us what exactly you are trying to say.

Pa: Brace yourself, woman. This is not an easy thing to say. (very stoic, very heroic) Things... they... are bad!

Grampa: Yes. Very bad.

Gramma: Yes. (In a very leading manner) O.K.? And....?

Grampa: Consarnit, woman! They are bad! They could get worse!

Pa: Much, much worse!

Ma: (angry) Listen! On what do you base this very grave assessment!?

Pa: Which one?

Ma: The assessment that things are very bad!

Pa: Yes. Well... umm....yes....

Grampa: Yes. Exactly.

Gramma: Exactly what?

Pa: Well... we are... snow-bound!

Grampa: Snow-bound!

Pa: In the mountains!

Grampa: In the mountains!

Pa: With only our wagon.

Grampa: One wagon.

Pa: Surrounded by ravenous, crazed beasts!

Grampa: Cougars! Wolves! Grizzlies! Lemurs!

Pa: And having to feed ouselves and twelve hungry children!

Grampa: So many children!

(long pause, women are waiting for more)

Ma: And?

Pa: That's it.

Grampa: Isn't that enough, mad woman!?

Gramma: So, again, what are you trying to say?

Pa: Isn't it obvious?

Grampa: It's a textbook case, really!

Ma: Is what obvious?

Pa: The situation.

Grampa: The harsh decisions we must face!

Pa: I have agonized on this decision, lo! these many minutes...

Grampa: I too, have agonized, in complete agony.

Pa: But I have made up my mind!

Grampa: Yes, and I support his decision fully!

Pa: In order to speed the natural progression of our situation, from bad to worst, so that, naturally, we may get back on the road to things getting better. I have decided to lower the situation to the worst possible level right now!

Grampa: Yes, only then can we immediately start getting better.

Pa: Yes, things must hit bottom before they can starting going back up.

Ma: What are you saying?! Just spit it out!

Pa: (stoic, heroic) We must eat the children.

Grampa: Yes.

(long pause)

Ma: Are you fucking high?!!

Pa: Now, I know your temper is a little high right now, from being trapped in this horrible, dire situation. Please, I implore you, we must remain rational. It is for the best of all possible reasons.

Gramma: That's the worst possible thing you could do!

Grampa: Exactly!

Pa: It's terrible, I know, but it is the most direct route to the bottom. It is the best thing because it is the worst thing.

Ma: Why would you even think about something like that?

Pa: Come now, come now. Who doesn't have thoughts about eating their children?

Ma: Me!

Gramma: Never occured to me either!

Grampa: That's why we must make the hard decisions! We can see all options available to us.

Gramma: No you can't!

Pa: Gramma, settle down, settle down. We don't want to wake the children. They need their sleep.

Grampa: Yes. Lots of sleep.

Ma: You're sick!

Pa: It sounds like sickness in my own ears too, but then I remember that we must survive this terrible ordeal!

Ma: Then why not eat from the large amounts of food that we have brought along?!

Pa: We may need that later on!

Ma: But, there's plenty for everyone.

Grampa: We are snowbound! The food may run out.

Gramma: We got trapped by a freak blizzard.

Pa: Yes, and who's to say how long we will be trapped?

Ma: It's mid-May! Look, the snow is melting even as we sit here.

Pa: Only because of the intense heat of the fire.

Ma: And the forty-five degree temperature today!

Pa: Mere coincidence. We can't be this lucky forever! We must eat the children!

Gramma: No! There's no luck in this situation whatsoever!

Grampa: Indeed, we have been perilously unlucky in our journeys so far.

Ma: Bullshit, Grampa! This is the first setback we have had.

Pa: Yes, but, don't you see, we grow weaker by the day...

Ma: We've been stuck for two days!

Pa: Soon the great mountain winds will hit!

Gramma: What are you, a fortune-teller all of a sudden?

Grampa: And here we sit; exposed to the elements on this great mountain side!

Ma: We are below the tree line; surrounded by evergreens!

Pa: Yes, trapped in the forest where forest beasts will surely attack and devour us!

Gramma: Then we will use our four hunting rifles and two large shotguns to kill those animals!

Pa: This would waste our ammunition!

Ma: You kill the animals with the ammunition! That's what it's for!

Pa: We may need those bullets for later!

Gramma: Then we gut the animals and cook the meat.

Grampa: Such a senseless waste of beautiful animals.

Pa: Indeed.

Ma: What!?

Pa: Sorry, Ma. I don't expect you to understand the complex reasoning behind this horrible decision I had to make. My mind is made up.

Ma: We eat the children?

Pa: Yes. Starting tomorrow. I believe we could serve the triplets for breakfast.

Grampa: That was my suggestion.

Pa: Yes. Being triplets, nothing will do but to consume them as a group. Their bonds are too tight, and they would die from misery if we only gutted and ate one of them.

Grampa: We can't have any of them dying before we kill them. The meat will spoil quickly.

Pa: So true. I'm sure they will be happier if they are eviscerated as a group.

Grampa: While still awake.

Pa: (with a sense of brave revery) Of course, so they can know what a noble thing it is that they have done.

Grampa: (also in a dreaming tone) With their mind-numbing pain, comes their great honor!

Pa: Yes. Killing them will show them how much we care about their honor.

Grampa: Their self-esteem should skyrocket.

Pa: Truly.

Grampa: Though they will have spellbound fear in their eyes, behind that they will experience a great sense of self-worth!

Pa: Yes! I predict great positive development in their little brains in the ten or fifteen seconds between when the first cut is made and they lose consciousnesss!

Ma: Are both about fucking done!?

Pa: (snapped from his revery) What?

Grampa: Perhaps, they will be lucky, and experience that sense of their own greatness for up to a half minute before blood loss and shock blackens their adorable eyes.

Gramma: (slaps Grampa really hard) Wake up, dumbshit!

Grampa: What is it now?!

Ma: Listen. Even if it were necessary to eat something other than our sizable food stores, why would we not, more sensibly, eat one of the six large oxen pulling our wagon?

Pa: (chuckling and patronizing) Oh Ma... Ha ha, so simple! How I wish I could be so free from this grim reality as you seem to be.

Ma: Don't patronize me, moron. Why should we not eat one of the oxen?

Pa: Why they pull the wagon, my dear! If we killed one, we would have to clean and dress over six hundred pounds of meat.

Grampa: That would take a long time!

Gramma: We've got nothing but time, we are here for another few days. At least, until this snow melts.

Pa: Ironically, the ox would provide too much food. We would have a surplus that we would have to add to the wagon, meaning more weight for the remaining five oxen to pull.

Gramma: But we have only need two or three oxen for the whole journey. We usually have three or four oxen hitched behind the wagon, as spares.

Ma: Yes. You have repeatedly said we only would need four on the very worst parts of the journey.

Gramma: Yes, and the fattest ox has a game leg and is only delaying our journey.

Ma: True! It's his slowness that left us stuck in the mountains; otherwise we would be two or days ahead of this spot by now!

Gramma: Let's kill the game, fatted ox and stop this stupid discussion immediately!

Pa: Oh, I knew you two had something against that ox from the day we set out!

Grampa: Yes. Always scapeoxing the poor guy.

Pa: Playing favorites! Putting your own children above a very valuable beast of burden!

Ma: Yes! Of course! How mad are you?!!

Pa: If we kill that ox, I know you'll simply start in on killing another after that!

Ma: Yes! If the food runs out!

Pa: Ah ha! The food doesn't have to run out! We have have twelve children to eat!

Gramma: No! We! Don't!

Pa: Gramma, I'm pretty sure it's twelve. I counted.

Gramma: Shut up!

Grampa: Please! Stop shouting! You will wake the children!

Pa: Yes, and they will be horrified to hear this crazy talk about killing Limpy The Plump Ox!

Ma: Pure madness!

Pa: So we are all in agreement then?

Ma: About eating the children!!?

Pa: No, about eating the triplets tomorrow morning.

Grampa: We must get an early start.

Pa: Gramma, you will have to shave the triplets completely. We don't want any hair in our meals.

Gramma: (just crying now) Shut up, shut up, shut up...

Pa: I know it's hard, Gramma; but we must remain strong.

Grampa: Pre-emptive cannibalism never seems wise to the uninitiated.

Ma: Uninitiated? You are not among the uninitiated?

Grampa: Please, let me continue... we must engage in a policy of pre-emptive cannibalism to fend off the lurking spectre of potential hunger.

Pa: Yes, if we don't start eating the children soon, hunger may continue to threaten our very days.

Grampa: Hunger is a violent and unknowable enemy! We must ward it off with as much pre-emptive cannibalism as possible!

Pa: The more the threat of hunger is felt around us the more children we must eat!

Grampa: It does not even matter if we actually feel hungry!

Pa: Indeed! In fact, it's better to engage in this policy to simply ward off the possibility of feeling any sense of hunger.

Grampa: The further away we are from actual hunger; the more necessary it is that we engage in as much pre-emptive cannibalism as possible!

Pa: The more easily to defeat the scourge of the potential to feel something like hunger!

Grampa: You are either with us or against us!

Ma: Fuck you both! We are against you!

Pa: I guarantee you that this policy is the wisest, worst possible thing we can do.

Grampa: Then things are almost certainly sure to get better!

Pa: Eventually, all the children will be consumed, and we will be in Oregon!

Ma: If you even touch the children; I will chop off both of your heads.

Gramma: On both of you!

Pa: So. It's settled then.

Ma: It is not settled!

Pa: Right! I almost forgot... who wants which cuts tomorrow morning?

Gramps: Well, you know I'm partial to thighs!

Pa: A couple of drumsticks for Grampa. Anyone else? I got dibs on ribs! (laughs at his little poem)

Gramma and Ma: (just start going completely apoplectic on both of them, they beat on both men as the lights fade, saying things like) You will not eat any of the children! Bastards! Keep your damn hands off the kids! Sons of bitches!

(spotlight on Narrator, who has stepped forward again)

Narrator: (Wiping face and fingers with a large wet-wipe that is stained with sauce) Negotiations continued long into the night. Eventually a compromise was reached: The men agreed not to eat the children, and the women agreed not to force-feed each of the men their remaining testicle. Once the swellings went down, the Lemkins continued on their perilous journey to Oregon. Ironically, however, all sixteen died when their top-heavy, overloaded wagon tipped coming down a narrow mountain path, plunging them one thousand feet down a sheer cliff. They were survived only by Limpy, but not for very long. Poor Limpy was just too sad and too barbeque-able to make it far. (Realizes his confession, tries to hide wet wipe, grows uncomfortable as spotlight stays trained on him, discretely as possible takes large step out of spotlight. Spotlight finds him. He simply turns his back on the audience. Spotlight eventually fades.)


1 comment:

Brendon Etter said...

Proper respect to Michael for planting the phrase "pre-emptive cannibalism" in my head.