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Judas Street: an Emotional History

by Gordon Purkis

Scene 1: A Dimly-Lit Subterranean Laboratory

Two Scientists: representing the world of fact
Self-Aware Computer: voice of mere knowledge
God: the first and last word

“There’s blood in my algorithm,” one scientist said to the other. “And prayer in my blood,” continued he.

“But there are also the universal losses, the rain-hidden tears,” interjected his colleague.

“There’s a solution somewhere a few breaths away, maybe more,” the Voice of Reason chimed in.

“There’s also time — something that has no other name, defines itself as it unfolds,” said the Omniscient Narrator.

“There are the default parameters from which we’ve hopelessly strayed,” the Self-aware Computer added.

God spoke: “There’s the distance between your eyes and mind, and mine.”

Scene 2: A Coffee Shop on Open Mic Night

The Poet: communicatus imperatus
Muse: source of the poet’s inspiration
Sinister Element: intelligent and crafty agent of mischief

“I’m fed up with Language’s pursuit,” the poet said to the attentive crowd, “advancing on me, luring me out and funneling me into this valley, where it seeks to corner me into a wagon-circle.”

Pausing for breath, he continued: “Where my last and only defense is to admit that I have nothing to say, or at the very least, not the means to say it.”

”Because words are weak, vague, small things, scarcely adequate — never fully apt,” said the Muse, unheard.

“I need something else, another way to communicate,” the poet said.

“Something to spread open the sky like a bomb,” offered the Sinister Element sitting in the audience.

Scene 3: Outside an Ancient Temple

Saint: one who knows God
Sinner: one who knows God

“What I want,” the Sinner said to the Saint, “is to never have to apologize again.”

“To be seen in the same dawn that God sees me in,” the Sinner implored, “awakening each morning a new me — forgiven, clean; entrenched but empowered somehow.”

“What you want,” the Saint replied, “is to be more than you are.”

“A man who insists he is something other than he is walks a long way without God,” the Sinner replied.

The Saint assured him he was never alone, no matter where he walked, even in all the unseen places, because it was heaven’s profession to offer a constant watchful eye.

Scene 4: Inside a Brothel

Reformer: advocate for change
Prostitute: one who sells what is free

”I’m still invested in vice,” the Reformer said to the Prostitute.

“And I still sell it,” was her reply.

“Your make-up is a sore and sullen wake-up call, showing me how near I’ve grown, how far away I’ve gone to stay home,” he said. “Home is where I pile up wants and splash my many faces with wishes and all it ever turns out to be is an older face. And then there’s you walking through my mind’s eye in all your incarnations.”

“I think it makes me look pretty,” she said.

Scene 5: Upstairs Bedroom, Dresser Mirror

Slow Man Down on His Luck: lives not in the present
Cynic: Facet of Slow Man: believes he is right about everything
Mind: Facet of Slow Man:voice of his intellect
Heart: Facet of Slow Man: voice of his better nature
Vanity: Facet of Slow Man: voice of his imagination
Ego: Facet of Slow Man: voice of self
Long Lost Love: memory to which Slow Man clings

“I see myself as almost entirely solid, immobile-wooden,” said the Slow Man Down on His Luck to himself in the mirror, “I can’t greet my liquid elements with any amount of grace.”

Sighing with self-absorption, he said, “I think this is what they mean by ‘in one year and out the other.’”

The Cynic in him allowed a wry smile. Staring at an old photograph, he spoke to a Long Lost Love: “If by chance you see me in that picture instead of someone else, I hope I win, I hope I seem as truly happy as the other people appear to be — as truly happy as I really am.”

His own Vanity said: “I wish you could see me for being either worse or better than I really am, but I’d settle for the truth if that’s all you have — as long as no one would hold it against me.”

Ego replied, “As long as I can be who I want to be without threat of censure.”

Scene 6: A Psychiatrist’s Office

Sexually Thwarted Man: thinks that he hasn’t been properly understood by the female gender
Therapist: is paid to listen

“I’m tired of the morality dreams, Doctor,” the Sexually Thwarted Man said to his Therapist.

“When she spreads her cute young legs, displaying all there is to see — like the Great West — it’s the last true doorway,” he said.

“Alright, but to where?” the Therapist asked.

“To the great within, I guess,” the Sexually Thwarted Man replied. “But I want to know why, why do I dream with conscience and question, asking her ‘what’s your relationship status?’ to which she replies ‘it’s complicated, but not particularly complex... but I love you.’”

“Right and wrong seem rather inconvenient at times, don’t they?” the Therapist said.

“I would hate to admit that but yes,” the Sexually Thwarted Man replied. “I’m about to go ahead and then suddenly I feel my whole body tingle then rush toward consciousness, as if I couldn’t allow myself to sin, even in dream. I was about to fess up but thought worse of it. Truth be told, I’m not entirely free either. Not at all free, really.”

“Do you remember what she looked like?” the therapist asked.

“She started out looking like a Raggedy Anne, made of felt, one eye larger and with a dark circle to simulate its blackening, all but falling off her face. ‘How’d that happen?’ I ask her.”

“She says, ‘Sometimes I require a certain type of handling.’

“‘We’re always the last to know when we need a beating,’ I say.”

“We’re all one bad decision away from an orange jumpsuit,” the Therapist said.

Scene 7: Inside Slow Man Down on His Luck’s Body

Mind said to Heart: “What if I was to tell you that everything you feel is true; or worse, that I don’t care?”

Offended, Heart said, “I’d rather you say that I drift through life casually and that my only moments of despair occur when I try too hard and of course fail. You probably think I’m a quitter or worse: a non-entity.”

Mind said, “You can’t afford to squander any precious seconds, cruising in the slow lane bound for whenever and wherever its river takes us. We simply do not have the time.”

“Someday can wait,” Heart said, “I don’t know anything about that territory. It is gone and forgotten before it is ever found or gotten. I’d be surprised if I knew what to expect — when and if we ever got there.”

“Sometimes I think it’d be easier to get along without you,” Mind said.

Scene 8: In an Airplane, Flying West

Little Girl: isn’t limited by the world
Father of Little Girl: doesn’t believe in endings

“Daddy,” said the Little Girl to her Father, “Can we ever catch up to the sun?”

“You mean fly so fast that we somehow manage to never let darkness overtake us?” he asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Imagine,’ said her Father, “traveling always in the sun, being always, always, as we would have ourselves be.”

Scene 9: the Poet’s House, Bags Packed by the Front Door

The Muse said: “Leave home; take your words with you. Perhaps you will find your struggling voice.”

“I got God’s postcard in the mail,” he said, “I’m supposed to be at such and such a place at such and such a time.”

“And so you shall,” the Muse said.

“Until then, I need to hope that as the year grows darker you’ll help me fight to raise morale, to find something to say, which gives me that something to look forward to.”

“I can’t always be with you,” Muse said.

He left inscribed in a card on the table by the door:

“To imagine a day sometime far away, that you were carried to by something you thought or said. This is why and where and for what purpose I go. I know I can never return here.”

“You want a language boat,” Muse said. “Not really anything to write home about, but perhaps the best you can hope for given the present circumstances — matters big and small that have you locked into this day, our day, a day to celebrate, at its end, with a prolonged silence.”

“I’d settle for the words on the paper,” the poet said, “Nothing less and nothing more will ever do.”

Scene 10: The Steps of City Hall, Doomsday

Voice of Reason: inarguable truth
The Omniscient Narrator: him or herself

“No more,” God said to the multitude gathered there.

“It’s an impossible world, I know, but it exists nonetheless,” said the Voice of Reason.

“It breathes a tired heartbeat,” said the poet, speaking on behalf of the Muse.

It sighs in revolution,” said the Sinister Element, “as the thunderherd of days gallops the world a few steps closer to quitting time.”

“What fun we could’ve had,” said the Sexually Thwarted Man to his Therapist.

“What’ll we do now?” the Reformer asked the Prostitute.

“There’s always the next place to go, isn’t there?” said the Father of the Little Girl from the airplane.

“And there, Tom Thumb is unharmed,” said the Little Girl.

God said “I can’t take you all... Heaven isn’t what you thought it might be.”

“At least everyone is suddenly, finally home with no plans to go back out,” said the Slow Man Down on His Luck.

“Tidy,” said the Mind.

“Kind of disappointing,” said the Heart.

“I told you so,” said the Cynic.

Vanity and Ego just stared at one another.

“So little time left,” the Self-Aware Computer added.

“Another heartbeat and the walls will all fall down,” one Scientist said to the other.

“It is done,” God said.

The Voice of Reason couldn’t say a word as all the chairs in the world sat up and walked away, having at last done all there was to do.

“And finally, at length, and conclusively goodbye,” the Omniscient Narrator said.

Copyright © 2011 by Gordon Purkis

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