BERTRAND PRIEST

The Past, about twenty years ago.  Lights up on Katrina’s lower east side apartment.  Katrina is in her late-thirties, attractive, though waif-like.  A history of drugs and alcohol is apparent.  Her friend is more than ten years younger.  They’re in bed.  Katrina is reading a manuscript.  Rock music is playing.  And running the length of the wall is a large tank housing a python.

THE YOUNG MAN

You have a big crack in the ceiling.

KATRINA

Where?

THE YOUNG MAN

Over the bookcase.

(He climbs up the furniture and takes a closer look.)

I’ll take care of it tomorrow.  Little spackle.  Little plaster.  Good as new.

KATRINA

Where’d you learn to be so handy?

THE YOUNG MAN

My dad.  We’ve gotta hardware store on seventeen.

(He notices a large jar on the kitchen counter.)

What’s this?

KATRINA

Oh.  That’s The Jar.

THE YOUNG MAN

What’s all the confetti?

KATRINA

That ain’t confetti.

THE YOUNG MAN

No?  Then what…?

KATRINA

Those are the phone numbers of all the men I know.  I keep’em in one of those big mayonnaise jars.  That way, when I'm in one of my low periods, I know that I can close my eyes, reach into the jar, call some guy and have him come over.

 

THE YOUNG MAN

Am I in that jar?

KATRINA

No.  You don’t wanna be relegated to The Jar, do ya?

THE YOUNG MAN

No.

(A beat.)

It looks like thousands in there!

KATRINA

You want me to read this, dontcha?

THE YOUNG MAN

Yeah.  It’s just—

KATRINA

Shh.

(Katrina reads a bit and puts the script down.)

You can’t have people talkin shit just because you want them to.  You gotta have a good reason.  Who are you anyway, God?

THE YOUNG MAN

Well, I did create their world.

KATRINA

You’re too smart for your own good.

THE YOUNG MAN

Katrina, I—

KATRINA

I’m tellin you the truth.  Listen to me.  I wrote some powerful shit in my day.  A fuckin novel.  Remind me to show it to you sometime.

THE YOUNG MAN

I will.

KATRINA

I wouldn’t put up with the bullshit.  Bein a woman, they pull shit like you wouldn’t believe.

THE YOUNG MAN

Really?

KATRINA

You kiddin me?  Limousines, coke, alla that shit just to get into your pants.  Evil people.  No good, man.  Kills your spirit.  That’s why I’m all messed up now.  Remind me to tell you about it someday.

THE YOUNG MAN

Tell me about the jar.

KATRINA

Forget the jar, they’ll be time enough for that.

THE YOUNG MAN

I wanna know.  Did you…?

KATRINA

Did I “what?”

THE YOUNG MAN

Well, you’re a beautiful woman—

KATRINA

I am not.  I’m skinny, yet flabby.  My legs’re like twigs.  Waddaya talkin about?

THE YOUNG MAN

—I mean, well… you can probably have any guy you want.

KATRINA

And?

(Very short pause.)

I thought you were comin over to work—

 

THE YOUNG MAN

Yeah!

KATRINA

—but turns out I’m just some piece of ass?

THE YOUNG MAN

I mean, no!  I— I value your opinion.  You’re my muse.

KATRINA

Ohhhhh.  I see.  Look, this only happened because I wanted it to.  You had nothin to do with it.  Look at you.  Now you got that silly grin and stupid attitude.  I shoulda been more careful.  You’ve been entrusted to me.  And I broke my Promise and now I gotta pay.

(She lights a joint.  She smokes, offers a hit to the young man, and he turns it down.)

See, I don’t know if you’re mature enough to handle this information.

THE YOUNG MAN

What kinda information?

KATRINA

Information’s not right.  Concept.  Yeah.  It’s more of a concept than it is information.  No.  Concept's wrong.  It's too "right side of the brain."  It's more, what?

(She takes him in.)

This was a mistake.  A big mistake.  A humongous error of gargantuan proportions.  I never shoulda fucked you.  I shoulda left well enough alone.  One weak moment and I mighta ruined everything.

(A beat.  She calls out—)

Sherman!  You were right!  I shoulda listened.

(She reaches into the tank and takes the python out.)

He told me you weren’t ready, but I wouldn’t listen.  I told him I had my eye on you.  I told him I liked your shit from the first day and he told me to lay low, wait a few more weeks, not to bring you up here, and I—  I shoulda known.  Sherman’s never been wrong about anyone.

(He lovingly wraps himself around Katrina.  She teases Bertrand with him.)

THE YOUNG MAN

No!  You know I’m afraid of that thing!

KATRINA

You’re afraid of Sherman?  You’re a coward!   If you wanna be an artist, you can’t be afraid!  Hold him!

THE YOUNG MAN

Get away!

KATRINA

You gotta hold hands with death!  You gotta face the dark and not know whether you’ll ever see the light of day again!

THE YOUNG MAN

No, I don’t!

KATRINA

Yes, you do!

THE YOUNG MAN

Why?

KATRINA

Coz the rest of us are all too afraid!  We’re chicken-shits who are lookin to you!

THE YOUNG MAN

Katrina, I gotta tell ya—

KATRINA

I don’t wanna hear it!

THE YOUNG MAN

I can’t!

KATRINA

You have to!  That’s why you have that star on your palm!

THE YOUNG MAN

What star?

KATRINA

That’s why you’re born on the seventh day of the seventh month!

THE YOUNG MAN

Lotsa people are born July seventh—

KATRINA

Take him—

THE YOUNG MAN

—Ringo Starr, Pierre Cardin!

KATRINA

—or die!

(A beat.)

Sherman wants you.  You have no choice.

(He reluctantly takes the animal.  The python wraps himself around him.  A peace envelopes them.)

See?  Waddaya know?  Sherman loves you.  Lookit his little face.  Awwww.  Animals know.

THE YOUNG MAN

He’s squeezing me a little.

KATRINA

He’s hugging you.  That’s all.  When you walk by, cats and dogs stop whatever they’re doin, eating, chasing, playing, and give you the eye.  You ever notice that?

THE YOUNG MAN

I hate cats and they always come to me.

KATRINA

They know you.

THE YOUNG MAN

They make me sneeze.

KATRINA

Animals can see things we can’t.  They can see your aura.  Sherman sees.

THE YOUNG MAN

Could you get him offa me?

KATRINA

Not yet.  God sent you to me to— what?  Raise?  No.  Not the right word.  Indoctrinate might be better.  No.  Indoctrinate’s not right either.  Too political, brainwashy.  It’s more…uhmmm…

THE YOUNG MAN

Katrina, enough.

KATRINA

It’ll come to me—

THE YOUNG MAN

Look, I gotta tell you the truth.

KATRINA

—probably in the middle of the night or somethin.

THE YOUNG MAN

When I first came over to you—

KATRINA

Educate?  No, educate’s too…what?

THE YOUNG MAN

—after the meeting—

KATRINA

schoolish.

THE YOUNG MAN

—I just wanted to… you know—

KATRINA

Guide you!  That’s it.  Guide!

THE YOUNG MAN

—get you in… you know… bed.

KATRINA

Well, it took you long enough!

(A beat)

I’m here to Guide You On Your Journey.  Understand?

THE YOUNG MAN

No.

KATRINA

You know that woman who found the baby floating down—

THE YOUNG MAN

You didn’t find me!  I came on to you!

KATRINA

(A short beat.)

You are so cute!  Do you know how cute you are?

(Short pause.)

Anyway, that woman who found the baby floating down the river picks him up and raises him as a prince.  That’s what I shoulda done, ceptin I fucked him.  See, when God asks you to do somethin, you do it.  You don’t mess around.  That’s why I might never enter the Promised Land.

THE YOUNG MAN

What are you talking about?

KATRINA

I’m talking about God and You and Me.

THE YOUNG MAN

You believe in God?

KATRINA

Gimme my baby!

(She takes Sherman.  Sherman lovingly wraps himself around her.  Stroking Sherman—)

I know you look at me and you think, “this chick don’t believe in shit,” but I’m very religious and I have real faith.   I don’t go to church.  I don’t do anything like that, but I pray.  I pray to God directly.  I don’t need no intermediary.  I don’t need no special building.  I don’t need no statues.  No saints.  No artifacts.  Nothin.  Everything I need is here.

(She indicates her heart.)

I pray for World Peace.  I pray for My Family, wherever they are.  And I pray for you.  I pray that you’re well and healthy and happy.  And I pray that you’ll never give up your dream.

THE YOUNG MAN

I won’t.

KATRINA

Don’t be so sure.  It doesn’t happen so easy like you know it’s happening.  It’s slow and sneaky.  It’s not somethin like one day you wake up and say, “hey, I think I’m gonna give up my dream now.”  No.  It happens slowly.  Little choices along the way; a job; a girl; a guy; a car; you don’t wanna put up with bullshit, could be anything.  Then one day, you look around and you say, “hey, remember when I used to dream about… whatever?”  And you realize that you just ain’t doin it anymore.  You’re doin somethin else.

THE YOUNG MAN

Dreams can change.

KATRINA

Some can.  Some just get forgotten.  Or ignored, but they're still there tuggin at ya.  And you’re hopin they’ll go away, coz when you think about ‘em, about how much they meant to you, and how you turned your back on ‘em, it hurts.

THE YOUNG MAN

Is that what happened to you?

KATRINA

Don’t worry about what happened to me.  Remind me to tell you about that someday.  This is about you… Bertrand Priest.
 

End of Excerpt

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