Guests (at least two, for finale)
The President has authorized a strike
Against a target we believe to be
Collaborating with the terrorists--
We took Bin Laden down, but like the Hydra
It seems for every one decapitation
A thousand heads spring up.
No, not a thousand!
Well, I’m exaggerating—it may be
Each terrorist we kill, not right away,
But in due time, in having left a void,
Becomes replaced by one or two or three.
This is your job: to seek and then destroy.
Now, let’s continue with the simulation.
The President has authorized a strike.
What do you do?
I click this button here?
Alright, that’s good. Except the protocol
Demands you also click this button here,
Because the situation. You remember?
This button here?
Yes, this one. What’s it for?
Because the target has stepped in a mosque
It waives the liability against
The President, in case there is an error,
And places it on me. It’s a “war crime”
If some collateral—I mean other people--
Is wrongly targeted.
That’s right, that’s right.
It’s merely a formality, some legal
Mumbo jumbo, a disclaimer just
In case a lawsuit’s brought.
The chance you could get tried, sentenced and hung
Effectively and also actually
Is rendered nil. It’s also a protection
For the department. You’ve been contracted
From a third party agency: we don’t
Want any onus to get thrown on us
When it can be borne by your bosses and
That’s silly, you are just employed,
What, for some wage? I hardly even know.
No, it’s your bosses that would take the fall.
No jury in the world would recognize
A young man as yourself as culpable,
Merely a hireling, paid to do a job.
But in this case, a mosque, he’s in a mosque.
According to our simulation, he--
Our target, has gone into such a place
Where it is likely he’s surrounded by
Exactly. Co-conspirators are not
By any stretch of the imagination
Collaterals, but “enemy combatants.”
The enemy combatants or ECs
Are automatically exempted from
Carrying liability—you see?
When you’ve been here a week or two
You’ll learn the lingo. We abbreviate
Frequently—it’s a way of talking—to
Speed up the flow of conversation in
What sometimes is a fast-paced situation,
A hyper-speeded up environment.
But enemy combatants, or ECs,
Are designated by a law of Congress
And ergo do not carry any taint
Of liability. You’ll make mistakes.
It’s understood when you’re new at a job,
There is a learning curve. It takes a while
To capture all the nuance of your role.
No one expects perfection on day one.
That’s a relief.
Your agency professes
Great confidence in you—the lad before you,
After two weeks, he couldn’t get it right,
But you catch on quite quickly so it seems.
He couldn’t get the hang of it.
Yes, we have protocols you have to follow.
In this case, there’s two clicks, instead of one.
Because the mosque.
Because the mosque is right.
He couldn’t get the hang of it, but you
Catch on—if you have questions, please speak up.
Don’t want you to pretend you understand it,
Leading me on, and then, after you’re “live”--
I mean after you exit practice mode
And start to work with real live targets—then
Later on we discover that you’ve failed
The protocols. You wouldn’t do that, Oswald.
But the last lad we had, your predecessor,
Turns out he didn’t “get” the protocols,
And, unbeknownst to us, left us uncovered
In various situations. Protocols,
The extra click, it takes a little time,
A miniscule amount, but means a lot.
Or else we’re left uncovered and I mean
The liability—it’s not so great,
The onus would fall down upon your bosses
If a lawsuit were brought, and not on me,
But even so, my bosses pitched a fit.
It’s not your salary, which to them is peanuts,
Or cowrie shells, but all the time in training.
You see I’ve got to be here for the first
Several weeks in observance of your work,
Making sure you don’t fail the protocols,
Or else I could get blamed. They pay me for
My pains but I have other work to do,
And it looks bad if I have to retrain.
Retraining someone takes a lot of time,
I mean another person in your slot.
I have a question.
Oswald, ask away.
I know that there’s not really any chance
Both in effect and actuality
That I could get blamed—it would be my bosses
Taking the fall, if I made a mistake.
If there were innocent, I mean
Collateral, I meant.
Good. What is “innocence”? It’s Biblical.
It has no place in government. The press
May talk of it but it’s no legal standing.
That’s what I meant to say. The other people,
Collateral, collateral to my target,
If I made a mistake in targeting
The unmanned vehicle, I mean the drone,
And killed someone that shouldn’t have been killed,
I mean, if there was blame, could I be hung?
Oswald, you’re taking what I said before
Literally—there’s hardly chance of that--
I mean no chance of execution by
Lethal injection or whatever means:
You’re just a cog in the machinery,
And minor one at that. If there’s a risk
First it would fall on me but not on you,
In that I supervised; but before that
If there was any lawsuit brought or question
Your company, the agency you work for,
Would take the fall, but you’re a minor cog
And any jury would be clear to see that.
Hell, we don’t choose the targets. We don’t know
Even what countries house these terrorists,
Or be they friend or foe: you see the screen,
The monitor displays the scenery but
How can you tell if it’s Afghanistan
Or Alabama—Oswald that’s a joke!
Look we don’t even know, nor are supposed to,
Beyond the little bit they let us see.
It’s purposeful. How could you sleep at night,
Knowing that it’s Iran, Turkmenistan,
Azerbaijan or even, for all I care,
Freedonia: you’re not meant to know the place.
The targets, if you’ve been here many years
Like I, have telltale clues that you can guess,
But even I can’t know for sure, and you,
You’ll be here at the most a year or two--
Often it’s less than that—before deciding
It’s time to move along. So tell me, Oswald,
Is this your first assignment or have you
Been with your agency a while?
Only a couple placements before this.
Where was your last?
They had me at a place
Cleaning aquariums. I was there six months.
This’ll be better.
That was messy stuff,
Cleaning out filthy water and fish poop.
Really, that’s funny! You’ve a sense of humor--
You’ll fit in here, Oswald, I can tell you that.
If it works out, and you decide to stay
Long term with us, I’ll put in for a raise
After six months, but what we pay on my end
Is not the same as what you get, alas.
If I ask for a quarter you may get
A nickel or a dime, but still it’s something.
My bosses are uptight about the budget,
But if you work out, I’ll take up the cause
And go to bat for you: an extra penny,
An extra dollar—what I can, I’ll do.
Fish tanks you mean? You really mean fish poop?
Well, it was larger than a little tank.
But it was messy, huh? Look, in a way
We’re cleaning out terrariums of the scum,
The terrorist terrariums in which
Terrorist scum resides: except you have
A clean, hygienic, peaceful office setting.
The only filth is on the monitor--
The shadowy figure: resolution’s grainy.
And then you click and click, the problem’s solved.
I’ll switch the image over to a live one.
You see the beauty of the system? We
Haven’t a clue where this may be or who
The operator is—at least you haven’t.
The targets have been designated. Watch.
The visual comes from elsewhere.
There’s a man,
I can’t tell if he’s in a forest setting--
The picture’s grainy, you’ll get used to it--
It looks like he’s unlocking—Oh!
Successful T.E. Time to take a break.
You see, we have to trust the government
To know the details and to steer us clearly,
Correctly in the steering of our drones,
Unmanned attack force, terror in the sky,
Or terror from the sky. It’s tit for tat.
That old man may appear a simple slob,
But secretly, or so we must suppose,
He represents a terrorist threat against us,
According to our government. We trust,
You push the button, and you take a break.
What is T.E.?
It’s very simple, Oswald:
Target elimination. That’s your job,
Or will be once we get you up to speed,
And you can sleep at night a little better
Knowing that scoundrels do get taken care of.
We all can sleep. You have to know the target
Only so far as you’ve been told on trust.
It’s government intelligence that we
Depend on, so, although you’re not directly
Employed you serve the national interest too
Working for those whose services we contract
And ought to feel proud—deservedly.
I’ll switch the screen back. After you come back
From break we can resume the exercise.
I think you’ve got the knack. You’ll make it here.
Is there a restroom?
By the lunchroom, Oswald.
I see you’re paper bagging it, your lunch.
Vending machines have candy, soda pop,
Anything you might need. Brown bagging it.
You’re funny, Oswald.
Thank you, Mr. Bennett.
I’m glad that Oswald finally found a job.
Clarice, his moving out, was good for him.
I hope it hasn’t been a problem for
Your mother and yourself. He’s growing up,
Maybe—romance will do that to a boy.
But you say that your mother hasn’t got
A problem? He’s not welcome back. You know,
It’s an improvement for a lazy boy.
All that he ever did was sit and play
Video games, computer games, whatever.
Go get a job, I said; at least go get
Your GED. And then he started smoking.
Who can afford a cigarette—but pot?
Not in my house I told him—mary jane
Or mary wanna, isn’t welcome in.
We kicked him out. I hope he’s straightened out.
He said he’s going to get his GED.
His job is only temp. He’s just gone on
A new assignment.
It’s a start at least.
They had him cleaning fish bowls but it ended.
He’s at a new place now. I’m sure he’ll tell me.
Temp jobs can turn to permanent. I know.
He’s lucky they considered him. I think
He lied about his high school education.
Sometimes you have to use your wits, but better
To get the GED.
He says he will.
My mom insists, that if we’re going to marry
He’d better have his education done,
Maybe have gone to college.
You have hopes.
Don’t marry him until he proves he can,
That’s all I have to say. It’s smoking pot
Saps the ambition. Young men have to hustle.
Temp jobs are good. The GED is good.
You’re sure he’s not a problem to your mom?
She understands, he’s got no place to stay.
We sleep in separate bedrooms. She insists.
I have to laugh, remembering the days
When I was young and held a lot of promise,
But working grinds you down. A husband helps.
What do you do again?
I work in retail.
A small boutique, we sell designer clothes.
We sell them by consignment but I get
A small amount. The hours are on and off,
But Oswald’s working steady. When we get
Married we’ll both have better jobs by then.
I hope so. Then we’ll get ourselves a place.
You’re young, hopeful, ambitious. Very good.
But keep your options open.
“Wait till he proves himself” is what she said.
Nearly the words I said. I’d like to meet her.
Mom doesn’t socialize much but I’ll tell her.
He’s better off with you. He stayed with friends
After we kicked him out, but none of them
Could tolerate him past a week or two.
Messy and unhygienic, smoking pot.
He wears a tie to work.
You have to. That’s
Quite an improvement.
He brushes his teeth.
My mom insists on it, and holds him to it.
You have to, if you want to hold a job.
I didn’t raise my son to be a slob,
But all he ever wanted was to sit
In front of the TV or the computer--
Some kind of screen. “Mom, fix a sandwich, please”
That’s what he said, whenever he was hungry,
Like I should drop whatever I was doing.
An office job will civilize him. Pot!
The bane to good ambition in a person.
Clarice, you’re not a smoker are you?
Thankfully so. Don’t pick up his bad habits.
Well, let’s keep this our rendezvous a secret.
I don’t want him to think I’m spying on him,
But mothers have concern. He doesn’t call.
You live with yours, but even if you didn’t,
You wouldn’t treat her like that, would you, Claire?
Is Claire OK?
He likes to use Clarissa,
It drives me nuts. I tell him, “It’s Clarice.”
The more I tell him the more he refuses.
They call me Claire at work. I’m used to it.
It’s just around the corner.
I’ll stop by.
I haven’t much use for designer fashion,
But still I like to keep up with the trends.
Do they give you a discount?
Yes, a small one.
Maybe I’ll stop in for a glance or two--
Some other time. I’ve got to get to work.
I picked the spot because of the convenience.
It’s the lunch hour.
I work the afternoons.
My boss will be there, she’s a little fussy.
I try to be on time. If I show up
Even five minutes late, she gets upset.
She owns the shop.
I work for her.
That’s how it is. That’s one thing I have learned,
There’s things that you can get away with, but
Some things you can’t, and tardiness is one.
Perpetual tardiness provides good grounds
For termination—even if they seem
Or avidly declare, they do not mind it.
They’re jotting it somewhere; but in a pinch
They’ll pull the dossier out and then that’s it,
The road’s end. At least that’s how things occur.
Corporate America has no compassion--
It may be different in a small boutique.
No, I don’t think so. It’s just down the street.
She’s in the corner of the Mennard building.
I’m right across from that. Let’s walk together.
Now that we are so close, we ought to meet
I still have an hour before
My shift starts. I’ll walk with you.
This was pleasant.
I usually bring a bag—one must conserve
Resources. I’m not salaried.
He brings a bag, I mean. My mother fixes
Him sandwiches or something. We go out
For pizza sometimes in the evening but
I’m glad he’s got a job.
It’s an improvement. Walk the straight and narrow,
I tell him. If it starts to penetrate--
Enter that skull of his—I will be proud.
He gets up every morning and makes sure
His clothes are looking right. My mom insists.
I didn’t raise that boy to be a slob,
But sometimes he requires a nudge or two.
I’ll walk with you just to the intersection.
There’s lots of shops to pass. Good window shopping.
But one has to be frugal. Oswald isn’t.
I hope you can instill some virtue in him.
I’d like to meet your mother. Smoking pot
Will be the death of a good boy’s ambition,
Then you’ll be saddled with the bag, Clarice.
I wash my penis, pits and feet,
It’s good enough for me,
No time today for showers sweet,
This place ain’t Canterbree--
A house, a home, a hole, a hell,
A wholesome place indeed,
A future husband treated well--
I need to grab some weed.
My penis is a little man,
I rise at six o’clock,
I have to go to work, I can,
And have him in the dock.
There’s other girls can do for me
What my Clarissa does,
Though her embrace is filigree--
I love her still because.
I have to put a T-shirt on
To cover up my pits,
Lest they get smelly. Mama-san
Will make me eat my grits.
I wear a fine pressed shirt, and tie,
Who never saw a collar
On dear old dad—such infamy--
To help him earn a dollar.
Clothes make the man, but mostly shoes
If they be spiffy clean,
But you have got to clean the toes
Of what lies in between--
A little polish always gets
Attention down the line
Of pretty girls—before long it’s
Their eyes are meeting mine.
The clothes might make the man but I
Believe a little fellow
Is man innate, and so I try
To keep him feeling mellow,
But at the job, keep down your head,
Be wary of great powers,
For after work, love’s case is pled,
Whilst I am plucking flowers.
With any luck, Clarissa’s out--
She can be such a pisser,
To watch her roll her eyes and pout,
But she can be a kisser.
The best of all is open house,
A gentleman can enter,
Claiming his right, though not a spouse,
So I try not to dent her.
Darling, thanks for the lift. I’m glad you have
The day downtown for shopping and could let
Me hitch a ride to work. It isn’t easy.
With the Mercedes in the shop. We have
Dear, that’s what marriage is about.
There’s lots of galleries. Go buy yourself
A new dress, or some ornaments hand-crafted.
Darling, I will. But you’re just trying to bribe me.
Evangeline, you’re going to wear me down.
I’m trying to.
I know how much you want it.
A steed, a stud, a stallion. Dear, a horse.
We had them growing up. I’ve always loved them.
We’ll get you one.
Dear, I know how to shop.
I think I’ve found the perfect beauty.
Make an appointment then. You’ll be in charge.
You’ll have to renovate the farm.
What good is money if you can’t enjoy it.
Bill, I saw Oswald just the other day,
I mean his girl. He’s living with her mom.
You didn’t see the boy?
No, I misspoke.
Good riddance to bad rubbish. He’s no good.
A pity that these loins engendered him,
For all the good he’s shown. A layabout,
Taking advantage of the unsuspecting,
Just like your brother. How’d he learn to be
So devious, and much worse than that, so lazy.
He’s working steady every day, she said.
He ought to pay us back for all the money
Spent on attorneys’ fees to get the charges
Against him lowered to a lesser count,
Not even dropped. It cost a pretty penny.
Dear, that was years ago. Two years or three.
Two if it was a day. The money’s spent.
A juvenile’s still a criminal.
The lawyer said the record would be scrubbed,
As if it never happened. He’s been good,
Or trying to be, she said, and gave up smoking.
That I’ll believe when I have seen it.
Good riddance to bad rubbish. It’s your brother.
You say he’s working?
It’s a temp job, Bill.
At least it’s something.
He can’t pay us back
Out of that meager wage.
But still it irks me.
I want the boy to have a chance, but it’s
Recipe for disaster giving him
Benefit of the doubt.
He hasn’t asked
Anything of us, Bill; he’s on his own.
Mooching off some poor woman and her daughter?
She’ll get her fingers burned. Then it’s tough love.
He may not disappoint us, Bill.
But I won’t have him coming in this house
If he takes back up smoking.
Pot or not,
He isn’t welcome. He’s a man now, Betsy.
A temp job hasn’t got a lot of future.
I started temp, Bill.
Look at what you make.
Insurance comes from me and all the staples.
You make a pittance. You depend on me
For coverage that I get from my employer.
He doesn’t know, but I still cover him.
But that won’t last forever. If he gets
That young girl pregnant, who’ll pay for the baby?
He never calls me, Bill.
You’ve got to tell him.
Once he has knocked her up she’ll have her hooks
In him until he dies. You know it, Betsy.
What point is there to being alive if you
Have to be miserable and suffer always?
He needs a real job. Any job is hard.
What I do isn’t easy, but he saw
His father sweat and opted for the TV.
Blasted infernal games he likes to play.
We had our games—but his took precedence
Over the learning of a trade. You should’ve
Hounded him more, or I, but I was working,
And he wasn’t inclined to tag along.
He could have learned the basics. I have tools.
I fix things, make things happen. He relaxes.
If he had learned some skill, even without
Certifications that are necessary
I might have got him in the union, but
You have to show some skill, not stand a dullard.
Know what the business end is of a wrench.
I know I repeat this all the time.
But that was then and this is now.
The opportunity was in his grasp--
If he had started right away. Back then
The union didn’t check that every T
Was crossed and every I was dotted either.
I got your brother in—much to my rue,
Him being such a fuck-off, but his family
Has been supported all these years by it.
Oswald was busy with his little toys,
And we indulged him, I indulged him, Betsy.
Because I was so poor when growing up
I thought to give him what I never had.
Hardscrabble times aren’t manna for the soul,
But if you make it through them, and can stand
Proudly upon your own two feet, who can
Knock you? It’s not the same world that it was.
Times are harder.
Who could tell.
We both should have applied more pressure on him,
Been heavier with the consequences.
Too late to learn the discipline, except
For conning people. If he put the effort
Into securing a good job that he
Devotes to smoking weed and playing games,
We’d all be happy. The sins of the father
Come back to bite us.
She seemed very nice.
I told her that I’d like to meet her mother.
No mention of a father.
In these days,
It’s not to be expected. It’s my job
To seek him out, and give him the advantage
Of my seasoned experience and perspective.
They’ll want to get her pregnant, and then he’ll
Be shackled to her till the end of days.
What if he loves her, Bill?
Love, what is love?
He’s got to have a stable job. Romance
Can’t flourish in a paucity of cash.
I should have taught him better. Betsy, we
Have built a stable home and both contribute.
Oswald required a thousand pounds of pressure
To get the trash bin emptied. You gave in.
We both gave in.
Gave in but not gave up.
Bill, say you haven’t written your son off
If Oswald needed help.
I’d be there, Betsy,
But only if he mans up and accepts
Responsibility and doesn’t shirk.
He’s trying, but will he have the diligence?
Betsy, I fear he won’t.
I fear it too.
Look at her trot. She is a beauty, darling.
A graceful creature, not a beast for burden.
You wanted one, but I have purchased two
So we can ride together. Pets in pairs
Are happier than alone, just like we people.
Just mount her up, a strenuous force from nature
Not meant for hauling loads or drawing carts.
God blest us with the money to indulge
Our fancy and we take delight in nature.
O steed magnificent, steed of delight,
We’ll have you on the trail, husband and wife
Carried along, beside ravines and hills,
Beneath the leafy canopy. O, life!
Glorious afternoons and days we’ll spend,
Riding together, not apart from nature,
At least when I’m not needed at the office.
When you have finished dusting off the lint,
Claire, there’s a pile of clothing in that box.
Driving here in the weekend, I passed by,
Out in the outskirts of suburban posh,
A sign that said estate sale, so I stopped.
They were just closing up; these remnants were
Left over, as you see them, in that box.
“We’re packing up now,” said the lady, “if
You see something you want, don’t dilly dally,
Make your decision.” As I started to
Probe through the pile she added, “I’m afraid
All the best have been taken. They’re like vultures
Over a fresh-killed carcass, or a plague
Of locusts, those who feed off an estate
After the owner is deceased. Her children
Hired me to put her last affairs in order,
But we’re all done.” She urged me hurry up.
“I’ll give you five bucks for the entire box,”
I told her; it’s a gamble, but here look,
We’ll make it back on this item alone.
But this is beautiful.
If no one wants it,
I’ll let you take it. Here, you need to price these.
Five hundred, fifty, twenty and two hundred.
You make the sales tag up. I’m sure that someone
Will bargain down at least a quarter of it,
But this is unadulterated profit,
Pure profit all the way.
How about this?
That’s hard to say. We’ll end up tossing it
Out with the trash, I’m certain. Say five hundred
Make it two fifty. Movement is the key,
Having the items fly away like sparrows.
Give it a prominent place, full front and center,
Someone may want it. Five dollars for that?
It would be an obscenity to pass
That kind of opportunity for profit.
I was just lucky she was closing down.
“The best bits have been taken” so she said,
But those best bits would not have got this profit.
How does it look?
Position it like this.
That’s how you catch the eye and make a sale.
You’ve got to have the instinct.
Uh oh, that woman’s bringing a return,
She was in here last week as I remember.
I’ll disappear into the back. Remember
You can’t accept returns without approval,
And you don’t know when I’ll be back.
My instinct never fails me.
Like to return this, I bought it last week.
Was there a problem with it, Ma’am?
The color that I wanted; it’s too dark.
I wanted something lighter but it’s dark.
The darkness hides my figure. Here you have
How much I paid for it on the receipt.
You see it isn’t damaged.
That I’m not authorized without approval
To make a refund, and my manager
Is out and I don’t know when she’ll be back.
That’s terrible. But surely you can help me.
My manager’s the owner, and I’m sure
There won’t be any problem with returning,
Or making an exchange, if something else
Catches your fancy. But to give a refund
I need her here approving; to exchange
For merchandise in kind it’s not an issue.
You see here’s my receipt. I bought it here.
There’s nothing here I want,
And I am pressed for time.
Ma’am, if you’d like
I can hold onto it while you go do
Whatever you have to do and then come back.
I’m sure that she’ll approve it.
Yes, I see,
But this is such a hassle. I’ll just take
It home with me and hope that I remember
To bring it with me next time I’m downtown.
There’d better be no problem even if
It’s two weeks hence. I’d like to have your name.
Claire, then if next time you’re not here
I’ll tell whoever’s here I spoke to you.
That would be fine.
It’s really such a hassle.
You let it slip your mind and then you’re out
The money that you paid and stuck with something
That isn’t the right color. It’s too dark.
I want to show my figure off a little.
Obscurantism’s not this lady’s style.
I’d like to see that. That’s just perfect.
How odd to find it here, when I go riding.
It’s just what I’ve been looking for. The price
Strikes me extravagant. Is that the price?
It’s just what I’m looking for. I’ll take it.
Here, take this. Here’s my card, and you can figure
How much the difference is. I have to have it.
Is everything alright? Has Claire been helping
To find the thing you want?
Yes, yes, she has.
I’m making an exchange. I have to have this.
My husband and I recently bought horses,
I grew up riding, and this outfit’s perfect.
Your prices seem a bit
Over the steep side, in comparison
With other shops, but I like your selection.
I’m glad to have that feedback from our clients.
Clients? But that’s too silly. There’s no need
For such meticulousness in wrapping it.
I’ll take it as it is. I’ve been so busy,
Revitalizing our quaint little farm.
It’s not a working farm you know—a stable.
Have you gone riding, dear?
You should try it.
You’ll never know what true affection is
Until you ride with horses. Here downtown
You have the glitter and you have the dazzle,
But ostentation is not real. What fun,
What fun I’m going to have in wearing this.
I’m glad you’re satisfied. Imagine that,
Suggesting you should try it, but she didn’t
Proffer an invitation that I heard!
Try it, my dear: I’ll give you the day off!
I’d fall and break my back, I’m sure I would.
That was a quick return on my investment.
Even on the exchange I covered my
Original expenditure—five dollars--
And moved an oddball article of clothing
That no one else would want. Too dark, too dark?
It isn’t like we dwell in shadows here--
The shop is lighted or you won’t make sales.
You can’t disguise the color. It’s too dark?
Why, have we any lighter shades of black?
That’s it, I have to take a break for real.
We’ll call it a late lunch break but it’s really
An early after work drink. Premature--
Premature after work drinks are the best.
You have to keep on laughing or you’d die.
Straighten up, Claire, and if I don’t come back,
I’ll let you close up shop. Here, take those things,
That rubbish in the box and throw it out.
You have to keep on laughing, Claire.
See you tomorrow, probably.
It’s good to make a profit in
Whatever way you can,
The means are necessary: win
Or lose since time began
Created the exigency
For heavy competition,
So well made schemes, as you can see,
May blossom in fruition.
It’s good to buy for five and sell
For double that amount,
For cash flow, when it’s flowing well,
The best of fools can count--
But if you haven’t got the means
Of subtlety conniving,
Then you may have to find the scenes
Of working for a living.
The wage may be a minimum
Or maximum, for sooth,
But when you calculate the sum
Don’t factor in the truth,
For there’s a variable to bring
Flux into the equasion,
The subtle art of marketing
From which there’s no evasion.
How to succeed in business is
Best-seller of the month,
Best-seller of the year, iwis,
And my heart overrunn’th
To contemplate the profits I’ve
Not yet had chance to tap,
But I am learning to connive,
My words in silk to wrap.
Sometimes you have to cheat and steal
According to the law
Of profit; but I rather feel
To do the deed were raw:
A piece of cloth I might take home
By slipping in my pocket,
Except she counts with fine-toothed comb,
And I’ve no place to hock it.
’Tis best to steal honestly
According to the law:
I’d like to be as rich as she
For whom I feel such awe.
Off to the sunset galloping
In happiness she rides,
Nor any girl, in love with bling,
Such happiness derides.
Oswald, the training process has been slow,
But henceforth your activity is live,
And not a simulation, so before
We switch you over to the real-time fun,
I want to make sure that your comfort zone
Has not been broken past.
I’m fine with it.
Good. Please remember, on your monitor
Everything that you see, and what you do
Will be observed by me: I’ll have the same
Images on my screen, see what you see,
And be aware your movements.
Yes, I know.
Your indecisions and your hesitations
Will be noted by me, but please don’t feel
Intimidated by the task at hand
Or like Big Brother’s watching. I am not.
It’s just to make sure that you’re diligent
In following the protocols, that’s all.
Tell me if you have any questions now,
Before we’re live. Don’t hesitate to stop
If something troubles you—heavens forbid
You blow the Eiffel Tower up or something--
But all in all, too many fits and starts
Is met with disapproval from my bosses.
The targets you’ll be killing
Are real people—but you need to know
Approval has been given from above.
What’s funny? This is serious business, Oswald.
For a split second when you said above
I thought that you meant God. I know it’s serious.
Oswald, no turning Biblical, you hear.
We’ve had rogue operators flying drones,
Taking out people left and right because
Of their religion. Strictly protocol
Determines what your actions are, and chain,
Chain of command.
I understand it.
Then I’ll be seated over there. You’re live.
Approval from above. You have approval.
Remember, every T.E. that you score
Represents victory for democracy.
We separate the church from state, we do,
By strictly protocol. Sometimes I feel
I’d like to kill them all, damn terrorists,
But we must be proscribed in what we kill
Ultimately by presidential and
By secular authority—albeit
The sum is under God, “I pledge to God.”
These people that you’re killing love God too,
Only their God has told them to kill us,
Whereas our God has taught us to love them
Which we express by killing. It’s a subtle
Distinction that divides us and which makes
Our side superior. Here, you’ve got a target.
Just do the double click and then Shazam.
Oswald you’ve had your first unvarnished kill.
It’s like a video game.
With flesh and blood
That’s real upon the other end. The site
Looks decimated—there’s somebody struggling,
Here, take another shot, shazam, shazam.
I didn’t mean to override you, Oswald,
But you can see, sometimes a situation
Arises when you have no time to think
And must act quickly.
Did you double click?
Oswald, I did. But these kills count for you,
It’s on your tally.
This feels so intense.
Better than scrubbing swimming pools, eh Oswald?
You’ll get accustomed to the tenor of it,
The tenor of the terror. Keep it up,
And after six months I’ll fight for a dollar
Increase (although you’ll only see the half).
But let me finish talking and let you
Concentrate. I can’t stand here looking over
Your shoulder—you should know the protocols
Well enough after your intensive training.
I can hang with it.
Remember I’ll be watching every move
Seated at my computer. Even if
I have another task, a clone of your
Visual will be on my monitor
And I can intervene at any second.
Don’t want you going rogue, haha haha.
Bennett, can you spare me a minute.
We’ve had a meeting with the higher-ups.
The program’s running smoothly, as you know.
Drones reach their target. Unmanned aircraft are
Spreading their terror in so many lands
That have been designated as E.C.
Under Congressional authority.
Countries that harbor terrorists are feeling
The brunt of our attacks; the foreign press
Declares us devils but the U.S. Public
Complacently lulls knowing what is right.
I know, John.
Let me offer you a rehash.
I want to know about the budget issues.
We’ll get to that. Some bad press is stirred up,
Because the constant targeting of funerals--
Children are often killed. But higher-ups
Have come down on the side of policy:
What better place to locate terrorists
Than at the funeral of their dirty kin
Whom we have previously dispatched.
With taint of terrorism by suspicion:
Anyone at a terrorist funeral
Is like to be a terrorist himself;
And ditto wedding parties. It’s okay
To target wedding parties, as we know
Some terrorists get married; when they do
Their brethren terrorists are like to be there.
I’m glad the higher-ups support us, John.
Bennett, the area where they have concern
Is budgeting for training and turnover;
It seems by using staff contingently,
That’s through third party agencies without
Benefit of good chances for advancement
Or sometimes e’en a living wage, we have
Plenty of transience: change that is built-in,
Or lubricant of flexibility--
All this is understood.
I would hope so.
Yet it has been suggested that your figures,
Your rates of change, are higher than expected.
John, I have no control over the wages
Of those within my unit: their employer,
Whichever of so many agencies
That we have contracts with, have their own costs
And reasons to keep their expenses low,
So when our workers get dissatisfied,
I’ve little to incentivize their staying.
Look, it’s not reached a crisis point as yet,
But I’m just filling in so you’re aware
The thoughts of higher-ups—to let you know
They will be keeping tabs on the departments.
The unmanned drones require, regardless, men,
And men require a modicum of money
If we’re to keep them. Programs don’t just run
On autopilot; we can’t bring in serfs.
A missile isn’t guided isn’t guided but by heat
In our department: it’s intelligence
Determines where the bombs will scorch and burn
And that costs money. Bennett, understand
I’ve got your back and I’m defending you
Before committee and the jointed chiefs.
Somehow it feels like I’ve become the fall guy.
Not at all, Bennett. Listen, do you ride?
My wife’s refurbishing our little farm--
We’ve bought a pair of horses, just for fun.
We’ll have to have you and the Mrs. over.
I’ve had the higher-ups, it’s good to schmooze.
I’ll put you on the list to celebrate
Our wedding anniversary. If you want
To keep a woman happy then supply
The objects of desire. Evangeline
Has loosened up and seems to’ve lost ten years
Connecting with the habits of her girlhood.
I’ve always been a natural man myself,
But, sad to say, it’s hard to get away
From duty and no duty is more pressing
Than national security—or sacred,
A sacred trust.
We both are proud to serve.
Too bad the operators of today
Haven’t the same incentive that we had.
Bennett, we both got started working for
The government at an early age; both young,
We had the chance to climb from lowest rung
Upwards along the ladder of career,
If not reaching the highest echelon
At least with forward thrust perpetually pointed
Approaching of the stratosphere. These kids
Haven’t the opportunities we had,
There’s no consistency, security,
No certainty, stability for them.
It’s one day here, next day another place;
No loyalty, no pride of place to bind them,
And it’s their parents who as taxpayers stripped
The olden hierarchy of its perks,
Demanding that the government outsource,
Hire from third parties; that the military
Use foreign nationals at sub-human wage.
Lucky for us, the drone program is not
Likely to move to India or to China,
But to depend on homegrown sources of
Labor albeit they are not yet serfs
But—in the theory—agents of their own
Volition and free will. The marketplace
Is not always the kindest to the lowly,
But only certain skills are in demand,
And we are lucky, here’s an expertise
Not everyone can do. Besides we have
Seniority, which counted in the system
Which these kids can’t hope to become a part of.
I see the new kid’s live.
His name is Oswald.
He just went live today, had his first kill,
Three of them, maybe more. I think he likes it.
Bennett, he knows the protocols, I hope.
Of course he does.
You say so but last time.
Look, that was an anomaly. I trained him,
Supervised every facet, every step--
Here, you can see on my screen what he’s doing.
He knows just which box to click.
Bennett we count on you, and I defend
Your reputation staunchly when your name
Is brought up in committee—have no fear.
I’m implementing various strategies
To maintain or to raise the satisfaction
Of our guest workers, to incentivize them.
Oswald, I’d like you to meet Mr. Gacy.
Here, let me switch you off.
I’m pleased to meet you.
Getting the hang of it? Your comfort zone
Enlarging and expanding?
Yes, it is.
Practice makes perfect, as I like to say.
We understand that there will be mistakes,
Mistakes are an expected part of learning,
Selecting of wrong targets here and there.
As long as measures have been taken to
Protect our liability, you’re clear,
As long as you don’t take out something big,
Obliterate the Eiffel Tower eh Bennett
As I am fond of saying. You’ll do well.
It’s almost time for lunch.
You like T.E.?
I’m getting used to it.
You will, you will.
If you have any questions what’s nearby
For eating places, just ask anyone.
You might not want the fancy places yet--
The higher that you climb it gets more posh.
I brought my lunch.
Why, Bennett, look at that.
Remember the old days? He brought a bag!
Oswald, I bring a bag myself, because
I need to supervise the operators.
John, don’t make him ashamed.
It’s nothing, Oswald.
Oswald you said your name was, is that right.
I’m taking off the afternoon,
Bennett, to help in culling of the buckthorn.
I’ve hired some laborers, but I assist,
Direct and all-in-all roll up my shirtsleeves.
Once all the buckthorn’s cleared I think we’ll have
A canvass primed for our bucolic Eden.
Oswald, don’t feel ashamed, my door is open
If you have any questions or concerns.
That’s what he tells you, Oswald, but the truth
Is Mr. Gacy’s seldom here with us--
Busy at meetings with the higher-ups.
Have a good lunch. I’ll see you in an hour.
Clearing his buckthorn. Well, at his pay grade
You can afford a place to put up horses--
“Bennett, if you want to keep your wife happy,
Supply the objects of her deep desire.”
Easy for you to say. But I’m not bitter,
I haven’t done so poorly for myself,
Not like, as he is right to say, these kids
That have scant hope to leap the great divide
To service that is more remunerative
Than contractors so cutthroat will provide.
The taxpayer demanded it, consumers
As everybody now is deemed to be,
Consumers with the final say, controlling
Everything with their purse strings. Life is life.
Down on the farm—I grew up on a farm,
But Gacy sure grew up with silver spoons,
And that’s determined his trajectory
Career-wise and in marital relations.
His wife was born of money, and their farm,
It’s obsolete for farming purposes,
Production having ceased there years ago.
“Palacial compound” would describe it better,
If nothing on the scale of Martha’s Vineyard,
And now they’re tuning up the grounds for stables.
I take my duties seriously—not hobnobbing
With the elite and fashionably dressed,
But rather, blowing up a terrorist,
Reducing all his world to dust and rubble,
Even destroying all his wives and children,
So they may never threaten anymore
Gives me my greatest joy in all the world.
Each kill is like a miniature orgasm,
And as the numbers rise, my joy increases.
Yes, I’ll admit, you have to be a zealot
In some degree, to do the work I do,
But all my values are at risk most grave
Should I be toppled from the pinnacle
Of self-esteem that capitalism gives me,
Freedom to be a citizen among
The freest self-seekers of the Western world.
The Oriental threat plays on my mind,
But yet I fear we Occidentals have
Opened the floodgates when we let the first
Immigrants in who touted the Koran.
These are my personal feelings, not the job’s--
But every baby born who’s named Mahomet
Makes me so angry I would like to vomit.
Bill doesn’t want to get involved, he said.
What, Oswald is his son.
And you’re my brother,
Patrick but this is tearing me apart,
To have to choose between one or the other.
I want my money.
Look, I understand it.
After you kicked him out, he stayed with me,
Oswald did, stayed with Uncle Pat, well he
Refused to lift a finger, ate my food,
Barely said thanks, not to God or Corinne.
But that was fine, “he’s youthful, not grown up”
I told myself: “he’ll straighten out like I did.”
Why, you remember, Betsy, when I was
Oswald’s age—I was in the union then,
Had some protection. Sure I saw temptation
In “lifting” some small item here or there,
But after I got hauled up on theft charges,
Betsy, you know I straightened my way out.
I’m sure that it’s the same with Oswald.
Look, stealing from your uncle is no good,
Making it look as if we had been burgled
Smart thinking but more heinous in a way.
Look, nothing big was taken, with exception
Of the TV. I want my TV money.
That happened years ago, Pat. Oswald is
Trying to straighten out, I’ll grant you that.
He’s given up the drugs, which was his habit.
Look, I’ve some money set aside. You take it,
But don’t tell Bill. My husband would be livid.
“Tough love” is what we’ve got to show the boy,
And I agree; but still a mother loves
Her son. Take this, but don’t tell Bill I gave it.
But I wish you’d go talk to him.
Oswald respects and loves his Uncle Patrick.
He’s left me messages requesting money.
Thank goodness I delete them. Bill would turn
Furious if he heard them. I believe
Oswald’s been working, and he pays no rent,
So what’s he need the money for, I wonder?
His girlfriend says he’s gotten off the dope,
The marijuana. Maybe she was lying.
He doesn’t tell me what the money’s for,
And if I chase him down Bill would get angry.
He’s working. Maybe it’s debt from before.
Not everyone’s forgiving like I am.
Look, far as I’m concerned, this has us squared.
Sure, I’ll go talk to him, if I can find him.
But don’t tell Bill.
I never see him, Betsy.
We move in different circles.
That’s the truth.
You seldom go to meetings, Bill has said.
He said that years ago, if Oswald wanted--
Showed some initiative and tried to work--
He could’ve got him in the union, but
That kind of opportunity has vanished.
They fine-comb your credentials now, it’s true.
Read through the transcripts, call and seriously question
Persons that have been listed for a reference.
It’s not so easy now. Hell, had they checked
They’d have seen that I lacked my GED,
And I put down—invented from thin air--
That I had previously been employed in air
Conditioning and heating. No one checked!
They’d never let that kind of thing slip by,
Not with the competition nowadays,
And, as for skills, I learned that on the job:
Everyone knew your husband and they looked
The other way, but gradually I caught on.
Bill’s right about initiative. Today,
They’d try to have you fired because they had
Some cousin waiting in the wings. Today,
You have to have your skills before they hire you.
That’s what Bill says.
I owe you both a lot.
Counting the years now till retirement.
Bill started at fourteen but told them eighteen.
You couldn’t lie like that today.
But what’s the harm in starting young, I wonder?
It’s adolescence taught my son to be
A layabout lackluster in his ways,
Sitting and watching TV or with his
Video game I fought with Bill to buy him.
Now looks like Bill was right I dearly hope
He hasn’t started using once again--
Using those drugs for recreation as
Seems has become a commonplace these days.
I’ll go and talk to him.
I saw his girlfriend,
And got the address from her. She is working
Around the corner from me in the Mennard
Building, a small boutique. Designer clothing
Isn’t my bag but she makes decent money.
Oswald’s been working, if not quite a year
Nearly so, only temp which is the sad thing,
But temps can lead to permanent employment.
He had been cleaning out aquariums, but
Now he’s been placed at some obscurant firm
That contracts with the government—for defense.
There’s lots of money there.
Not for a temp.
Let’s hope it leads to something.
Yes, let’s hope.
Tell Bill I said hello. We may not be
The kind of bosom buddy that you’d like,
But I owe him my lot and livelihood
And I respect my debts.
He knows that, Patrick--
Knows that you never let him down, except
The one time early on.
He got me out
Of all the trouble that I’d gotten into,
With his union connections, and I had
To weigh the pros and cons of keeping up
My wayward ways and straightening up to fly right--
The world grows less forgiving.
So does Bill;
I’m just afraid that Oswald needs a chance
To prove himself. He’s got a tougher road
Maybe than what we had, but I just want
Him to believe that we support and love him.
I’ll talk to him.
I’m very grateful, Patrick.
You need to give me something for the rent.
We buy the food.
A little rice and beans?
If I give you the money for the rent,
You spend it on yourself.
Clarice, that’s wrong.
Both you and Oswald live and eat here under
My roof and I deserve it from you both.
We split the rent three ways, and fair is fair.
Oswald and I have ponied up our share;
Except we give it to you and you spend it.
One of us is a laggard but that’s you.
How can you speak that way to your own mother?
Because it’s true.
Your father wouldn’t stand
For disrespect like that from his child’s mouth.
You drove him out, because of your bad habits.
You smoked and drank until you didn’t care.
How dare you say that.
Dare you say I lie?
No, but you shouldn’t be upfront about it.
Oswald and I are trying. Do you think
That when his mother mentions how she’d like
To come and meet you, and I make excuses,
That I feel proud because I have to lie?
Because I am too proud to let her see this,
The hovel that we live in and the wreck,
The airplane crash that you’ve made of yourself
Who once was sleek and beautiful? Do you?
Drink and smoke and smoke and drink.
No thank you. Mother, I’m ashamed, I am.
Oswald says that I am too hard on you,
But he’s the one mistaken: it’s the truth
You drove dad out, and then you let yourself
Unravel—you could have the finest clothes,
I see bargains come in, but you don’t care.
You don’t mind if you’re slovenly in appearance,
But I do, and I’m so ashamed of it.
Did Oswald’s mother really ask to see me?
How could I let her come here and you can’t
Manage yourself in public anymore.
Get me a drink. I’m tired of hearing this.
Get it yourself.
Like you think I don’t know
That when I’m not around you and he don’t
Refrain from raiding my bottles or stash?
I know you do, and what effrontery,
I’ve seen you both drink of my liquor and
Toking before my eyes—to come and tell me
That you accuse me for the way I live?
Clarice, are you so virginal and pure
That you ought to be casting stones at me?
Like you and Oswald have been patent saints?
Mother, I never said so. But he works,
I work, nor do we let it interfere
With getting to the job on time if we
Now and again indulge or do imbibe:
No one says you can’t have fun: it’s especially
When you’ve been working that you need the buzz,
Need something to relax you, weed or drink,
A little bit, but you go in for excess.
It gets you fired from every job you have.
I get a new one.
Mom, that’s not the point.
No matter how much I get beaten down
I always stand up on my feet again,
And now, because I’m having trouble finding--
A world fast-changing has outstripped my skills--
You try to knock me down, I mean to kick me
When I’m already down. Thank you, Clarice.
You know I love you, honey.
That’s the last one.
Next one I’ll let you pour yourself, I mean it.
Have yourself just a little.
I don’t need it.
It cuts the harshness of the brilliant light.
Mother, the lights aren’t on, the shades are drawn.
No matter how I try to shut it out
The crazy world just forces it back in.
If Oswald doesn’t get here in the next
Five minutes then I’m going to hit the streets
And hunt for him, or maybe get some pizza.
He’s always got some lame excuse, but we
Both know that he gets off the clock at five.
Maybe he stops off somewhere? Who could blame him?
I’m such a wreck, and this dingy apartment
Isn’t inviting. You said I’m a slob,
I don’t make conversation. That is true.
Even you won’t let me talk to his mother.
So who can blame him if he comes back late.
He says they keep him later at the office,
Because he deals with people overseas,
Where the time zone is different. What, is he
An international mogul or exec
Dealing commodities around the globe?
I highly doubt it—but he’s secretive
About the nature of his job, although
I try to probe him for the detail.
Just pour a drink: you’ll see before it’s finished
That he’ll traipse in the door. I’m sure of it.
That’s the last straw. I’m going to get pizza.
Here, buy a bigger one and bring some back.
You can keep that.
No, take it. I insist.
I meant it. I want you returning.
Don’t worry, I don’t mean to go out binging.
The positive side of my job is that,
Although it’s part time, I don’t clock in
Till after lunch time.
I’m best in the mornings.
Mom, you know what I mean.
I start the day
All fresh and vibrant, but as it progresses
I feel it wearing on me. I succumb.
Here, let me get myself another drink.
I’m afraid that you’ll stumble and you’ll fall.
Here, keep the bottle with you. I’ll be back.
Make sure you get one big enough for three,
And Oswald finds the anchovies distasteful
So order it without.
It’s hard to please
Everyone and yourself at the same time.
God, I should watch TV, check out the news.
What day is it? It says the twenty-fourth.
That means the rent’s not due for two more weeks.
What was I thinking? O, this world’s so bad.
Look at this headline: Thousands riot after
Drone blows up hospital. I hate this world.
It may be for my safety but I find it
Cowardly in extreme to wage a war
From unmanned airplanes shooting their smart bomb.
Trust if the army calls it smart it’s dumb.
Still, terrorists are cowardly as they come,
But I don’t know which side is worse than which.
Like, “who would Jesus bomb?” I don’t know that,
I only know that Jesus loved the poor.
Mom, are you sleeping? Has Clarice gone out?
It’s just like her, to leave and not to tell me.
Mom? Jesus, she’s out cold. Drunk like a fish.
Well, I’ll leave out a note: not that I care
So much as to prove with a written record
That I came home and left. She’s always dreaming
That I stopped off to socialize a bit,
But not get plastered, at the bar before
Coming home after work. I do sometimes.
Tonight I will. If this is you, Clarice,
Twenty-five years from now, I’d best think twice,
A blubbering bag of alcohol retainment.
Clarice, you wouldn’t do that to me, would you?
Clarice is young and pretty as
A maiden ought to be,
With perky tits, a solid ass
(But no virginity),
But if in time she needs must change
With strange grotesques emergin’
Upon her person, I’d arrange
To see the plastic surgeon.
Clarice, if you must change to that,
Which cannot even crawl,
A messed up mound of foul and fat
That lays there in a sprawl,
I think I’d best think twice again
About impending marriage--
Cohabiting is fine, but men
Avoid the baby carriage.
I’d like to love Clarice, it’s true,
And give to her my heart,
But if the girl takes after you--
I think I heard a fart--
How shall I live with such a mess
And stick my dickie in it?
No man abhors a fond caress,
But not this very minute.
The headlines tell of massacres,
Of riots, here, abroad,
But if true-love’s a living curse
Is human nature flawed.
A broader broad I could not see,
Clarice so very svelte,
Comes this from that? Congruity
Severe a blow is dealt.
What perky breasts? What jugs that sag?
What pretty face? What flaw
That culminates into a hag?
Sweet cunt, or Panama
Of several decades traffic borne
Chugging the grim canal--
From hence was a sweet baby born,
Clarice whom I love well?
How such a transformation came
Mine eyes don’t comprehend,
How does a doll become a dame?
Time gets you in the end.
If I myself am not exempt
The joys of growing old,
Let me the thought of it pre-empt
With some new girl to hold.
There’s pizza here. Clarice? Clarice? What’s this?
Torn bits of paper? How long have I been
Dead to the world? Oh my, my aching head.
Clarice it says, a tiny scrap of paper,
And other pieces scattered on the floor.
Lord, tell me, how am I to find a way
To reassemble all the little pieces,
The tiny tatters of a life so torn?
Wasted on booze and pot, and other things.
The love of man is in there, but I do.
I give myself too freely. All the world
Feasts on me like it did Prometheus,
But he invented fire: what have I done?
God no, I’m hardly hungry. Came and went.
There’s nothing here but transience, nothing left,
Nothing that’s permanent, and then you die.
It’s good to have a laugh. At my expense,
The world laughs; not just mine, at our expense.
You have to have the habit or you’d die.
Then you die. Josephine, you have Clarice,
A daughter who—the world may smile upon her--
May turn out better than you ever did.
Here, talking to myself. I can do better.
Not throw on the appearance of a slob.
It isn’t me. I have a sense of fashion.
I do believe, that Oswald or Clarice
Has gotten stone cold drunk, and lost their key.
There’s a good chance for that. Or else perhaps
A salesman, a petitioner for a cause--
Saving the whales, or maybe saving souls?--
They are persistent. Opportunity?
No, that has never sought me here before.
A lot of options. Is it either/or?
Maybe it’s just, I have a visitor.
Fat chance for that. Hello.
Is Oswald in?
I feel an awful droning in my head.
I know that feeling well.
I’m sorry, I’m
Oswald is my nephew.
And I’m Clarice’s mother.
Pleased to meet you.
Josephine, a pretty name.
Neither of them is here. I just got up.
Neither of them?
I need to clear my head.
Look, if it’s inconvenient, I can go;
But if you think he might be coming back
Before the cows come home, before the sunrise,
I wouldn’t mind the wait. Don’t be alarmed.
I’ve seen worse; and many times I’ve lived it.
I don’t mean to intrude; or I can go.
Something tells me he won’t be back so soon.
No, you don’t need to help me pick those up.
It isn’t tidy here.
Don’t be embarrassed.
Believe me when I tell you, I’ve lived worse.
Okay. But I’m not one for small talk.
I came to speak to Oswald. He’s been asking
His mother now and then for money. Maybe
I shouldn’t talk to you of his affairs.
He calls me mother too, because my daughter.
It must be serious.
Must, but then again,
This might mean that there’s been a serious row.
Young and in love is usually much too young.
Now that’s the life that I’ve lived all too well.
At least it made you smile.
Am I that bad?
Has my face frozen into such a frown.
No, not a frown. More of a scowl it was.
Trying to be helpful. Hell, I’ll go.
He might be coming back.
But you don’t think so.
No. Would you like some coffee?
I don’t know if that’s what you need right now.
I need to clear my mind.
Not to befuddle it.
I didn’t get your name.
I said it’s Patrick.
Maybe I didn’t say it. No, you’re right.
I’m the one trying to befuddle you--
It isn’t by intention though, I promise.
See, there you made me laugh.
I have that skill.
Maybe a blunt would be the thing. I crave
To have release from this old wicked world.
The world is not so wicked as we are.
Amen to that. I think he took my stash.
That little rat. When I get hold of him--
It sounds as though the breakup could be big.
I’ve made a mess of things. Fucked up fucked up.
Look, have you any money?
What’s that for?
He took my stash, that little thieving rat.
God, what a monster I must seem to you,
Wailing about my stash, my marijuana,
The house looks like there’d been a drone attack,
I’m looking ugly, with my makeup smeared--
Hell, makeup wouldn’t fix my ugly face,
Ready to get down on my knees and beg
A stranger for a little bit of cash.
Here, I have this.
I don’t have any money.
No problem, take it.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Pathetic woman, mouthing you my thanks,
Look, I can offer you more than lip service,
Or take it how you want. Remuneration.
Now I’m too ugly for a one night stand?
O, how I must offend you. You must have
A wife and children, strait-laced in their beds,
But don’t you understand it, I’m so lonely.
Lonely, lonely, lonely, oh so lonely.
I’m so ashamed, another two-bit whore,
The only reason anybody hired me--
It weren’t my typing skills—but then anon
That was the end of it, so I’m a nun,
And that’s the way I spend my evenings, here
Wishing a man would come in like yourself
And sweep me off my feet—but I don’t dare
Subject myself to the humiliation
Of going to the bars and have nobody
Buy me a drink, and if nobody buys
I can’t afford bar prices by myself.
Or if some joker buys one, it’ll be
“Now let’s get down to business right away”
Without even a falsified romance
To let me feed my ego, keep intact
What little shred of dignity I own,
So you come here and see my failed attempt
At the seduction of a total stranger.
No, who said it’s a failure. Pretty thing,
Pretty pathetic for a woman of
Your grace and caliber, to act the scrounge.
The world is at your feet, and you should have it.
No, not from me: a one-night stand is fine,
But after me your heart will find romance,
The dreams that you deserve will all come true.
Here, you’ve been driven to distraction. Do
You have a lighter? Want to smoke some weed?
I get it from my nephew. He has sources.
Then why would he?
Smoke first, ask questions later.
The lighter’s in my bedroom.
Let’s go in.
You deserve better than life’s given you
A pretty woman, to be laid so low.
Let Patrick lay you, you’ll be feeling high.
You make a lot of promise.
No, you hold
A lot of promise—Patrick can deliver.
None of this “two-bit whore” stuff if you please.
You are a creature of the Lord, and precious.
Tonight my duty is, to make you feel it.
Tomorrow, though, might be another matter.