Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Would Woody Do? (A Scene)

A hotel Room. Night.

A young couple, Daniel and Bianca let’s call them, lie naked in bed with a thin sheet over them. Sweaty and disheveled, they stare into space. Suddenly, he chuckles.

BIANCA: What?
DANIEL: Ah, y’know, like Woody says to Annie “this is the most fun I’ve had without laughing.”
BIANCA: Or, “here goes another novel,” right?
DANIEL (impressed): Hey, you remember! But actually the whole line goes…As Balzac said -
BIANCA (cutting him off): That guy’s beyond washed up.
DANIEL: Oh, c’mon. We’ve been over this. Zelig, Hannah and her Sisters, Manhattan, not to ment-
BIANCA: (cutting him off): Yeah, I know. You dropped off the entire canon at my dorm.
DANIEL: Well, have you gone through them?
BIANCA: Some.
DANIEL: How ‘bout “Death in Venice.” Did you read it?
BIANCA: No.
DANIEL: But you will, right? That’s very important. Essential – for the soul and everything.

She shrugs. Disappointed, he bends down and starts fiddling with her toes. She reaches for a joint at the bedside table, lights it, then takes a long drag, sucking it. He regards the joint, hesitating, before smoking in an inept, trying-to-be comical fashion.

She watches him, unimpressed with the theatrics.

BIANCA: You don’t have to if you don’t want.
DANIEL: No, no. Woody would decline but I’m not strong enough. But still, I do it guiltily.

Suddenly, bits of a song can be heard through the walls.

DANIEL: Wha – is that lark gonna go on like this all night?
BIANCA: I like it.
DANIEL: It figures. Do you wish I could sing? (idea striking him) Hey, but lucky you I’ve got something right here.

He pulls out a clarinet from underneath the bed and starts to play. He plays horribly, so bad it’s almost funny – almost.

DANIEL: I’m taking lessons… You, on the other hand, have a great voice. Why don’t you sing?

She shakes her head, furiously “no.” He looks at her expectantly.

DANIEL: You just need a little encouragement. Come ‘ere.

Instead she gets up, pulling the sheet over her as she picks up items of clothing strewn on the floor. She proceeds to get dressed. On her back is a large tattoo of a maze made up of black, squiggly lines. He stares at it, obviously troubled by what he sees.

DANIEL: C’mon, I bring you here so you can run around naked all you want. With those voyeurs as roommates I get all jumpy…
BIANCA: Your parents never bother us.
DANIEL: Yeah, but they ask questions afterwards.

As she reaches for a blouse, he’s given full view of her tattoo. His expression curdles.

BIANCA: It bothers you.
DANIEL: What bothers me?

Bianca eyes him, extracting.

DANIEL: No, no it’s great. I just don’t know why you’d want a giant doodle branded on your back… (backtracking) An intriguing doodle.
BIANCA: You don’t get it.
DANIEL: What’s to get?
BIANCA: I told you. It’s my conceptual maze.
DANIEL: Conceptual maze of what again?
BIANCA (earnest): The presence of absence and absence of presence.

He nods vehemently at this. Then chuckles.

BIANCA: What?
DANIEL: Nothing…Ok! Let me get this straight. So the presence is that we see it, we really see it. But it’s black, and black is…ah…a black hole, the eternal vacuum, or absence as you put it? And the squiggly lines, well, they must stand for the big fight between the two.
BIANCA: Fight, no. One cannot exist without the other. But if you look at it closely, the presence actu-
DANIEL (cutting her off): Ying and Yang, blah blah. It sort of reminds me of this guy I know. He keeps on trying to convince me that “insane” just means sane on the inside. In-Sane, "inner sanity.” Of course the guy himself is a little…
BIANCA: That’s kind of interesting.
DANIEL: Are you kidding me?
BIANCA: Not at all. I’ve always thought there was logic to insanity. Like with my maze, its presence…

But he’s not listening.

BIANCA: No, I shouldn’t have to explain it to you. You have to establish your own entrance into it.

She reveals her tattoo in all its massive glory for his gazing.

BIANCA: See, look at it.

He cringes. After a few seconds, he averts his eyes.

DANIEL: Hey, why does the dark have to be so dark?

She snorts at this. He mistakes it for laughter.

DANIEL: See, you like my sense of humor.
BIANCA: You mean Woody’s?
DANIEL: So what if he’s my reference point? I happen to find him inspiring.

She leans over the bedside table, picks up a pipe, putting more pot in it. She takes a drag as he tugs at her sleeve in trying to discourage her.

DANIEL: Sheesh, more already?
DANIEL: Well, considering Annie liked to smoke too –
BIANCA: I have to go.

She resumes getting dressed, goes over to the table and picks up her backpack, gathering the rest of her things. Daniel is stunned.

DANIEL: What?! Why!
BIANCA: I just realized I don’t like Annie Hall. Or Woody Allen for that matter.

Daniel takes a moment.

DANIEL: Whoa, whoa. I guess… you just don’t get him.

She heads for the door, and opens it.

BIANCA: Well, for your benefit, Annie dumped him too at the end, remember?

As she’s closing the door behind her:

DANIEL: Fine, I don’t need your eggs.

Befuddled, she has no idea what he means, nor does she care.

Alone now, he reaches for a laptop by the foot of the bed. He selects it to play at a certain point. In it, Woody Allen’s character, Alvy in “Annie Hall” is saying “it’s all misery and pain and it’s over much too quickly.” Daniel speaks along, cracking a bittersweet smile.

DANIEL: Tell me about it.

1 comment:

Banno said...

Woody Allen. A favourite. I like the way you've used him as a part of your narrative, and your style.