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Ben Ohmart


CHARACTERS

Candy angry. ĎTypeí unimportant; an individual.

Buffy fearful, sorrowful, ashamed. ĎTypeí unimportant; an individual.

Dead bodies any size, shape, age, as long as they look like theyíve been buried for a year or 2.

SETTING

The future. A southern town flooded. The tops of everything Ė and thatís it Ė are visible on stage. The Ďwaterí of course isnít necessary, merely the sound of a river and rain. Floating and drowning are just done on the stage floor, thereby adding to the comic element.

NOTE: The poetry herein doesnít HAVE to be whatís herein. Use whatever you like; especially if you find something that fits better or has more of a comic punch to it. Public domain texts encouraged.


(Albany, GA. Far in the future. The town has been flooded. Only the tops of houses, trees, churches can be seen. Curtain up on CANDY sitting on one house roof, while BUFFY scrapes, pants, climbs, gargles her way to the top of another house. Pause. Sound of rain, water, storm subsiding. The women recuperate. Longer pause.)

CANDY. Are you all right?

BUFFY. I swallowed water.

CANDY. Youíre supposed to.

BUFFY. (Surveys scene) This sucks.

CANDY. I donít know why youíd say that.

BUFFY. I had a perm.

CANDY. Right.

BUFFY. My hairís flat. Iím getting soaked. Did you save anything?

CANDY. Yep. (Shows gun, aims at BUFFY) You?

BUFFY. (Open-mouthed. Nods. Pause) What are you doing?

CANDY. What did you save?

BUFFY. Is there a water snake somewhere?

CANDY. Thatís possible. There might be clouds in the sky.

BUFFY. Are there a lot of them? (Looks for snakes)

CANDY. What did you save?

BUFFY. Oh.

CANDY. (Cocks gun) What did you save?

BUFFY. Really unimportant.

CANDY. Iím going to kill you.

BUFFY. What? Ė Why?

CANDY. I said I would.

BUFFY. - That was in the house.

CANDY. So?

BUFFY. (So surprised, struggles to find the words) This is a natural disaster!

CANDY. So are you.

BUFFY. Weíre supposed to pull together! Like family! Weíve just lost everything!

CANDY. Then you donít mind dying?

BUFFY. Wait. Hold on. (CANDY fires, it pops her over the side of the house. Splash. But BUFFYís unhurt) Iím alive. Iím here!

CANDY. (Crawls up out of the water, laughing) What a kick! Hahahahaha, thatís great!

BUFFY. You almost killed me!

CANDY. What?

BUFFY. (Louder) Dead!

CANDY. (Shows she still has gun) I loaded this before. I have five left. A couple in my pockets. Iím not sure about those.

BUFFY. The water was rising. All our possessions, floating away. You load that?

CANDY. (Laughs) What a kick!

BUFFY. (Relief laughs) I guess if bullets are encrusted in metal Ė you know, if you keep the powder dry, youíre fine.

CANDY. Thanks. (Shoots again, misses BUFFY. CANDY braced herself that time)

BUFFY. Stop shooting at me!!!!

CANDY. Buffy. You suck. Youíre so stupid. Iím going to shoot until I get lucky.

BUFFY. Iím your sister!

CANDY. Youíre a roach. I canít step on you. Actually Iíd be more afraid of a roach the way they can fly.

BUFFY. I didnít say you were afraid of me.

CANDY. Yes, you did.

BUFFY. No.

CANDY. Every time you looked at me. I looked at you. Just shut up.

BUFFY. I didnít mean to hurt you. I thought we had that settled. I thought we hugged.

CANDY. You hugged me. You canít see a personís hugging face over your shoulder. I was thinking about bullets. My arms were limp, strained. Then didnít feel up and down your back like a hug.

BUFFY. Iím sorry!

CANDY. Yeah. I understand. (Shoots again. Very close to BUFFY) Ė How many was that?

BUFFY. Iím not going to tell you.

CANDY. How many?

BUFFY. You donít need to know.

CANDY. How many?!?!?! (She is seething)

BUFFY. (Hears a splash, talk from far away) Maybe itís the national guard. It should be a major, national rescue operation. Iíve seen a TV movie about that. A guy that canít find his kids, and they have to blow a dam to subside the water or something. That doesnít sound right, though.

CANDY. Theyíre not coming.

BUFFY. What do you mean?

CANDY. Thereís no national guard, the Flint River is too long, and half of Albany is under. Forget it.

BUFFY. Ė Thereís a lot of army.

CANDY. Forget it!

BUFFY. (Pause) Iím sorry.

CANDY. (Pause) You never were.

BUFFY. Iím serious!

CANDY. I want you dead. Iím waiting until my arm stops shaking. Itís this cold water.

BUFFY. Okay, so you kill me. And thatís going to take things back? Things donít go back the way they were. Everyone waits for the good old days, they just get newer and newer.

CANDY. Shut up.

BUFFY. Killing me is going to get things back the way they were?

CANDY. Well, obviously not, Buffy! Youíll be dead. Iíve thought about this. Itís different that absence making the heart grow fonder. Itís getting over the grief of a loved one. Knowing that person is never going to return. You have to step away from that.

BUFFY. He doesnít even love you.

CANDY. Donít make me waste bullets!

BUFFY. So Iím dead, and quick as a flasher he jumps in your arms and cuddles close and you lap up the tears or something? I donít think so.

CANDY. Iíve seen it happen.

BUFFY. Where?

CANDY. It doesnít matter.

BUFFY. Where? On tv? That just depends on who writes it that week and what they want the character to get out of it that time and stuff. Hell, some of those extras you donít even see again. A guest star says heís the best friend of the star of the show, and then you never see him again? Wake up, Candy!

CANDY. Listen! I watch tv because I come home from making those eggs, greasing that shake machine, I want to live out a better life somewhere else. Iíve got cable. I pick who I want to be. I picked who I wanted to live my life with, remember?

BUFFY. (Insulted) Marriage is marriage. Blood is blood. You canít get around blood. (CANDY canít stand it. She shoots, misses, again) STOP IT! STOP IT!!! (She just about goes crazy)

CANDY. (Almost feels sorry for her a second. Almost) I just got around blood. Are you wearing one of those lucky crystals or something? Youíre wearing grandmaís cross, arenít you?

BUFFY. (About to cry) You donít believe in God.

CANDY. I believe in the power of belief. Enough people believe, I might be screwed. Be nice to people, thatís it.

BUFFY. Iíve always been nice to you.

CANDY. You screwed my husband, Buffy! Wake up, you! You always did have pillow shoulders.

BUFFY. But I was always nice to you!

CANDY. Oh yeah, well thatís true. You were always picking up pecans out of that trailer park yard and youíd shell some, give them to me, you were very nice, YOU IDIOT!!

BUFFY. I donít understand this. I thought that living your life nice, being kind to people, I mean, day in and day out should count for more than any single action, just the numbers alone. Your whole life against one single action?

CANDY. Uh. It wasnít a single action.

BUFFY. Ė No.

CANDY. It was 85 times.

BUFFY. How did you know the number?

CANDY. What do you think I fell in love with! A sinner! Just flesh attached to nothing, no mind, no morals? Heís a good man, Buffy! Whenever he does the monkey with you, of course heíll write it down in that little book. The time, the place. How long it took. Positions, background music. He showed me the book.

BUFFY. He showed you??

CANDY. He showed me.

BUFFY. He showed you??

CANDY. Iím his wife! Ė NowÖ. shut up. Ė Iím trying to work on my nerves. (BUFFY opens her mouth) The nerves in my arm.

BUFFY. I said you should remember my kindnesses. Iíve treated you nice every day.

CANDY. 85 times.

BUFFY. Every day. I love you, Candy.

CANDY. (Pause) Do you love him?

BUFFY. Oh come on.

CANDY. Asked you this before! Love Ďim?

BUFFY. I donít know what that is!

CANDY. Such a cop out! (Aims gun. Hears something) What?

BUFFY. What? Ė Donít shoot me?

CANDY. Heard that. (Pause; listens) Sounds likeÖÖ.

BUFFY. Speed boat?

CANDY. Told you, on the news, whole town, on down Georgia, theyíre not coming.

BUFFY. You shot the tv.

CANDY. I saw it. Itís hopeless. Besides, they can only save your life. Itís like a fire fighter. We pay all that money for them to shower the fire, and itís all burnt up, so whatís the point?

BUFFY. (Listens) Yeah. I heard something. Like a meeting or something.

CANDY. Courthouse is flooded.

BUFFY. They have helicopters.

CANDY. Courthouse doesnít have helicopters. Youíre going to die. Live with it. (Aims gun)

BUFFY. (Scared to death) So what are you going to tell people? I drowned and this bullet wormed its way in my head?

CANDY. Itís figured. You were afraid of looters, you took out the gun Ė

BUFFY. Donít have one.

CANDY. Ė you turned around, surprised by the water. Shot out the TV. Slipped on the water, shot yourself wherever it ends up.

BUFFY. Thatís stupid.

CANDY. Itíll work.

BUFFY. I need the gun.

CANDY. And then the big olí current, it slips the thing out of your hand. Things happen.

BUFFY. (Resolved) You really want to kill me.

CANDY. Thatís it.

BUFFY. Do it. Go ahead. I donít mind. I soiled you. Well, I soiled the sheets. Youíre just pissed, so get up and do it. Thatís okay.

CANDY. Youíre sure you donít mind?

BUFFY. Oh, donít be stupid!

CANDY. Ė Loved you once.

BUFFY. (Covers ears) You loved Michael.

CANDY. (Aims gun) Loved you first, big sister.

(About to shoot but a DEAD BODY floats through on a small boat or door)

DEAD BODY. ("Magdalen Walks") The little white clouds are racing over the sky,

And the fields are strewn with the gold of the flower of March,

The daffodil breaks under foot, and the tasseled larch

Sways and swings as the thrush goes hurrying by.

A delicate odour is borne on the wings of the morning breeze,

The odour of leaves, and of grass, and of newly up-turned earth,

The birds are singing for joy of the Spring's glad birth,

Hopping from branch to branch on the rocking trees.

CANDY. The hell is that!?

BUFFY. (Has seen the motion, takes hands away from ears, scared to death, jumps up) Whoís that?

DEAD BODY. (Coming for CANDY) And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,

And the rosebud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,

And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire

Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring.

And the plane to the pine-tree is whispering some tale of love

Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its mantle of green,

And the gloom of the wych-elm's hollow is lit with the iris sheen

Of the burnished rainbow throat and the silver breast of a dove.

CANDY. Must be a flood victim from on down Ė

BUFFY. Watch out, itís coming for ya!

DEAD BODY. (Boat hits house, he/she starts trying to walk up to CANDY) See! the lark starts up from his bed in the meadow there,

Breaking the gossamer threads and the nets of dew,

And flashing a-down the river, a flame of blue!

The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds the air.

CANDY. Are you okay?

BUFFY. Watch out! He ainít in control!

CANDY. This is a man?

BUFFY. Watch it! (CANDY shoots DEAD BODY in stomach, it keeps coming. Shoots again in head, it splashes into water. Pause) You had to do that. Iíve heard of attacks in these situations.

CANDY. What was it saying?

BUFFY. Sounded like Ė Ibsen. No. Wait. Iíll think of it.

CANDY. I donít care! Jeez! (Fearful now. Women are cold, scared: reality, or unreality, is setting in) I wonder how many survivors there are.

BUFFY. Ė Except for dying, how can I please you?

CANDY. Please me.

BUFFY. Please you. Do something. Weíve been family a lot longer than marriage.

CANDY. When you commit a crime, blood doesnít count, itís marriage that doesnít let you testify against your wife or your husband. Nobody cares about sister to sister.

BUFFY. I care.

CANDY. Youíre going to die.

BUFFY. I asked you what can I do!!!

CANDY. (Pause) What did you bring?

BUFFY. What?

CANDY. Save. What did you save?

BUFFY. Ė Just some zip disks. About three. (Shows them)

CANDY. Thatís it?

BUFFY. I couldnít let all that go to waste. Thereís some good stuff on here.

CANDY. Any of it new?

BUFFY. Right. Thereís about 10k of good stuff here, and I know some of itís good. Itís not just the rhyming stuff, thereís some gags that came to me.

CANDY. Which sells better Ė the funny cards or the syrup?

BUFFY. Why do you want to know?

CANDY. Iím thinking about tombstone writing. Whatís it calledÖ

BUFFY. Iím not telling you. Iím not writing my own verse for my funeral.

CANDY. Well, you asked what you could do.

BUFFY. Alive, Candy, alive!

DEAD BODY 2. (Floats through on its back) THEN Orleans generous as mountains arose, and unfolded his robe, and put forth His benevolent hand, looking on the Archbishop, who changed

as pale as lead;

Would have risen but could not, his voice issued harsh grating;

instead of words harsh hissings

Shook the chamber; he ceas'd abash'd. Then Orleans spoke,

all was silent,

He breath'd on them, and said, "O princes of fire, whose

flames are for growth not consuming,

Fear not dreams, fear not visions, nor be you dismay'd with

sorrows which flee at the morning;

Can the fires of Nobility ever be quench'd, or the stars by a

stormy night?

Is the body diseas'd when the members are healthful? can the

man be bound in sorrow

Whose ev'ry function is fill'd with its fiery desire? can the

soul whose brain and heart

BUFFY. Shoot it!

CANDY. Itís not doing anything to us!

BUFFY. Whatís going on?!?

DEAD BODY 2. (Floats away) Cast their rivers in equal tides thro' the great Paradise, languish because the feet

Hands, head, bosom, and parts of love, follow their high

breathing joy?

And can Nobles be bound when the people are free, or God

weep when his children are happy? (BUFFY screams!)

Have you never seen Fayette's forehead, or Mirabeau's eyes,

or the shoulders of Target,

Or Bailly the strong foot of France, or Clermont the terrible

voice, and your robes

Still retain their own crimson mine never yet faded, for fire

delights in its form.

But go, merciless man! enter into the infinite labyrinth of

another's brain

Ere thou measure the circle that he shall run. Go, thou cold

recluse, into the firesÖ

CANDY. (Aims gun) Anything else? (No response) Come on, 3 zips are nothing but a handful. I know you had something.

BUFFY. (Brings out photo) Itís Michael. We donít know where he is. I donít know if heís dead or alive.

CANDY. Now heíll always be alive, is that it?

BUFFY. Donít hate me.

CANDY. I canít do that, Buffy. Itís survival. (Shoots BUFFY in shoulder) And itís not even personal. God, I wish Iíd done some shooting range or something.

BUFFY. You shot me!

CANDY. Before my bullets all leave me.

BUFFY. You shot me, Candy!

CANDY. Donít get all upset about it, Iím trying to do it fast. I keep slipping off this roof.

BUFFY. (Canít control arm with photo; shot arm) Oh no. NoÖ. (She has to decide. She puts the photo in her good hand, and puts the zips in the bad hand/arm)

DEAD BODY 3. (In a small boat. "Night Scenes of Other Times: A Poem, in Three Parts") "The wild winds bellow o'er my head,

And spent eve's fading light;

Where shall I find some friendly shed

To screen me from the night?

DEAD BODY 4. (Appears in same boat) "Ah! round me lies a desert vast,

No habitation near;

And dark and pathless is the waste,

And fills the mind with fear.

CANDY. Iím really sorry about this, Buffy.

BUFFY. Shut up! (DEAD BODIES are coming for BUFFY) Itís a gang!

CANDY. (Loads gun quickly) Damnit!

BUFFY. Shoot them! (To DEAD BODIES) What do you want?

DEAD BODY 3. "Thou distant tree, whose lonely top

Has bent to many a storm,

No more canst thou deceive my hope,

And take my lover's form;

DEAD BODY 4. "For o'er thy head the dark cloud rolls,

Black as thy blasted pride.

How deep the angry tempest growls

Along the mountain's side!

DEAD BODY 3. "Securely rests the mountain deer

Within his hollow den,

His slumber undisturb'd by fear,

Far from the haunts of men.

BUFFY. (Terrified) Thatís, uh, pretty!

DEAD BODY 4. "Beneath the fern the moorcock sleeps,

And twisted adders lie;

Back to his rock the night-bird creeps,

Nor gives his wonted cry.

DEAD BODY 3. "For angry spirits of the night

Ride in the troubled air,

And to their dens, in wild affright,

The beasts of prey repair.

BUFFY. You guys have a secret writerís meeting? I heard about that, sometimes you donít want to give Ė WILL YOU SHOOT THESE PEOPLE?!?!? Ė you donít want to give away too many of the open addresses for unsolicited submissions, I understand Ė FOR GODíS SAKE!!!

CANDY. (Shoots DEAD BODY 4. DEAD BODY 3 attacks BUFFY) Push him off! Thatís it!

BUFFY. (Kicks DEAD BODY 3 down the roof) Shoot it!

CANDY. Wait!

DEAD BODY 3. (Flails in "water") "But oh! my love! where do'st thou rest?

What shelter covers thee?

O, May this cold and wint'ry blast

But only beat on me!"

BUFFY. Shoot the man!

CANDY. I think weíve got an answer! (DEAD BODY 3 drowns)

BUFFY. Whatís going on?

CANDY. Maybe itís like you said. A poetís meeting that ran long, and they didnít know what was happening because they didnít have a tv or radio on. Poets are stupid. And a couple guys and women, they got hit on the head, and now they are searching for help or what the hell ever.

BUFFY. You can be really compassionate.

CANDY. No.

BUFFY. I forgive you.

CANDY. YOU forgive ME???

BUFFY. Oh noÖ..! (The zip disks slip out of her immobile hand. Plop in water) My lifeís work. (Sad beyond reason)

CANDY. You could fit your lifeís work onto 3 zip disks?

BUFFY. They hold 95.6 megabytes per disk!

CANDY. (Pause) Iím sorry.

BUFFY. (Angry) I already forgave you, didnít I?

CANDY. (Pause) You donít know what itís like Ė you spend your 9 to 5 at home, it blends into the rest of the day. Iím out there working. And itís more than those 8 hours, itís getting to work, itís coming home, itís getting dressed, getting undressed, feeding yourself, mushing your mind on tv because you donít have the personal strength for God or a book. Youíre constricted, so you start counting on the things around you, because you can count on them. And then you find yourself having one taken away. You canít count on something. Love. Tiny bits of compassion, or just knowing someoneís there.

BUFFY. (Confused) Now, is this you or me? Iím not sure about your use of "you" for some of this.

CANDY. You make a living at these greeting cards. Iím not saying youíre better because you make a couple of ends meet at the artistic stuff.

BUFFY. You only have to make 2 ends meet, Candy.

DEAD BODY 5. (Floats by on a tree branch. "Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, A Poem") Still the loud death drum, thundering from afar,

O'er the vext nations pours the storm of war:

To the stern call still Britain bends her ear,

Feeds the fierce strife, the alternate hope and fear;

Bravely, though vainly, dares to strive with Fate,

And seeks by turns to prop each sinking state.

Colossal Power with overwhelming force

Bears down each fort of Freedom in its course;

Prostrate she lies beneath the Despot's sway,

While the hushed nations curse him ­ and obey.

BUFFY. (So into the talk now) But thatís the point, donít you see? We were together, Michael doesnít work, he was lonely.

CANDY. Iím supporting him!! (Shoots DEAD BODY 5)

BUFFY. I understand that! Thatís why we told you!

DEAD BODY 6. (Climbs onto BUFFYís roof. Recites "Epodon Q. Horatii Flacci Liber" by Horace) Ibis Liburnis inter alta navium,

amice, propugnacula,

paratus omne Caesaris periculum

subire, Maecenas, tuo:

quid nos, quibus te vita sit superstite

iucunda, si contra, gravis?

utrumne iussi persequemur otium

non dulce, ni tecum simul,

an hunc laborem mente laturi, decet

qua ferre non mollis viros?

feremus et te vel per Alpium iuga

inhospitalem et Caucasum

vel occidentis usque ad ultimum sinum

forti sequemur pectore.

roges, tuom labore quid iuvem meo,

inbellis ac firmus parum?

comes minore sum futurus in metu,

qui maior absentis habet:

ut adsidens inplumibus pullis avis

serpentium adlapsus timet

magis relictis, non, ut adsit, auxili

latura plus praesentibus.

libenter hoc et omne militabitur

bellum in tuae spem gratiae,

non ut iuvencis inligata pluribus

aratra nitantur meis

pecusve Calabris ante Sidus fervidum

Lucana mutet pascuis

neque ut superni villa candens Tusculi

Circaea tangat moenia:

satis superque me benignitas tua

ditavit, haud paravero

quod aut avarus ut Chremes terra premam,

discinctus aut perdam nepos.

CANDY. Thanks!

BUFFY. And if we hadnít, if youíd found out some other way, what would you think? Would you love us?

CANDY. I donít love you!

BUFFY. (Kicks DEAD BODY 6 away) You said you did!

CANDY. When? (Shoots DEAD BODY 6 in water)

BUFFY. Before! You said it before, and you must still love him to eliminate me as the competition! You must think enough of me to realize you canít compete!

CANDY. (Pause) That hurts, Buffy. Thereís no reason to say that.

BUFFY. You said it before!

CANDY. (Pause) I donít mind all of this. But when you elect to save Michaelís picture over your lifeís work, well, what am I supposed to think? Do I really want you to live?

BUFFY. I said you could kill me!

CANDY. Thanks! (They pause, catch their breaths. Poetry reading close by. Several people scream) Iím glad weíre talking. Iím sorry I shot you. But didnít kill you.

BUFFY. Ė How am I supposed to take that?

CANDY. Ė Heís all Iíve got, Buffy. Youíve got your work. You live for it. I live for work as a means to a paycheck. Iím supporting a man who drives a truck and has been diagnosed with flat feet. He canít put his feet on the pedals Ė

BUFFY. Ė itís like walking Ė

CANDY. Ė so Iím supposed to put the meat on the table, the beans, and the jello too.

BUFFY. You could fix something different.

CANDY. That isnít the point! Thatís examples! This is life. This is my poor pitiful life, with a poor pitiful husband and a 15 year old dog, Iím too old to change. Women canít start over. Hell, men either unless theyíve got the money. What do I have, Buff?

BUFFY. (Silent a moment) I deserve to die. I see that now. Loneliness is no basis for betrayal. Iíve done enough sympathy cards to realize the real feelings from what you might call your vengeance. Youíre not looking for getting even. Youíre looking for hanging on. Youíve got the right kind of husband. You can look at him and say you can forgive him, and I wonít be around to make the mistake again. Youíre right. Ė I sit at the computer everyday and I read messages from other people, and theyíre always talking about themselves. But itís more personal than a letter, because itís everyday. They live that day of their life, then they write it down. I found I didnít have anything much to say, day to day. The dates changed, I had nothing else to add, maybe saying congrats on whatever it is the other person said. Maybe answering with just a smiley face. I trade messages with this one guy from Bolivia on icq, and heís a music programmer. And thereís bombs falling. How can I top that? Yeah, I understand. I donít mind dying for a cause. (Lowers head)

CANDY. (Thinks long and hard. Puts gun on roof) No. Ė Iím no cause. (Pause) Thanks, though.

BUFFY. (Raises head. Tear-stained face) You donít wanna kill me?

CANDY. I can always kill you. (Smiles)

BUFFY. (Smiles) Thanks, Candy. (Poetry read off) Thanks. (Relieved; loses energy) Oh. I donít know if that was a good idea. (Feels herself slipping off roof)

CANDY. Whatís the matter?

BUFFY. Iím feeling weak. I think Iíve lost some of my blood.

CANDY. Some of your blood?

BUFFY. Iím slipping..

CANDY. (Stands) What are you doing?

BUFFY. Iím slipping!

CANDY. Hang on! Donít go into the water, I think itís dangerous!

BUFFY. Why?

CANDY. Donít go in the water! What if those people arenít dead?

BUFFY. Theyíre not holding their breath! I canít hold it!

CANDY. Hold onto something!

BUFFY. Candy! (Splashes into water)

CANDY. No! Great! Uh. (Dives in, saves BUFFY. But DEAD BODY 7 and 8 come on CANDYís roof, so CANDY takes BUFFY back to BUFFYís roof) Get up there! (Pushes BUFFY up) Go on! Oh, itís all those double-stuff Oreoes and no workout!

BUFFY. Always Ė stretch Ė my neckÖ

CANDY. Move your ass! Save your neck!

DEAD BODY 7. (Reciting "To Lucasta, Going Beyond the Seas", by Richard Lovelace)

If to be absent were to be

Away from thee;

Or that when I am gone,

You or I were alone;

Then my Lucasta might I crave

Pity from blustring winde, or swallowing wave.

(The women stand looking at the dead bodies overlapping their poetry)

DEAD BODY 8. (Saying "The Fair Beggar" by Richard Lovelace)

Commanding asker, if it be

Pity that you fain would have,

Then I turn beggar unto thee,

And ask the thing that thou dost crave;

I will suffice thy hungry need

So thou wilt but my fancy feed.

In all ill years, wast ever known

On so much beauty such a dearth,

Which in that thrice-bequeathéd gown

Looks like the sun eclipsed with earth,

Like gold in canvas, or with dirt

Unsoiléd ermines close begirt?

DEAD BODY 7. (Hungry) But Iíll not sigh one blast or gale

To swell my saile,

Or pay a teare to swage

The foaming blew-Gods rage;

For whether he will let me passe

Or no, I'm still as happy as I was.

BUFFY. Really weird that every one of them should go off the deep end like that.-1>

CANDY. What deep end?

BUFFY. Thatís the wrong image. I mean, itís odd for so many people to react the exact same way to a bump on the head or shock or something. Do you think itís like they say, mass hypnotism?

CANDY. I doubt they do much hypnotism at poetry slams.

DEAD BODY 8. (Continues under womenís talk) Yet happy he that can but taste

This whiter skin, who thirsty is;

Fools dote on satin motions laced,

The gods go naked in their bliss;

At th' barrel's head there shines the vine,

There only relishes the wine.

DEAD BODY 7. (Continues under womenís talk) Though Seas and Land betwixt us both,

Our faith and Troth,

Like separated soules,

All time and space controules:

Above the highest sphere wee meet

Unseene, unknowne, and greet as Angels greet.

BUFFY. What is their problem? I donít get it! They look like they want to munch on our hearts or something. Maybe theyíre all vampires, into blood. Or maybe thereís lots of iron in female flesh.

CANDY. Would you stop?

BUFFY. Iím scared to death, and frankly, I just want to keep on talking, talking, I donít want to hear this stuff anymore! I just want them to go away, I donít even like poetry!

CANDY. Well, you write verse.

BUFFY. Thatís card stuff.

CANDY. Itís still poetry.

BUFFY. But I donít like it!

CANDY. (Surprised. Pause) Buffy. Youíve won awards.

BUFFY. Donít be stupid. Thereís a big gap between doing something because youíre good at it, and doing it because you want to. I canít help it that thereís good money in it.

CANDY. Ė You never told me that before.

BUFFY. Ė They want to eat us. Why do they want to eat us?

CANDY. Now, you donít know that.

BUFFY. Just shoot them, Iím tired of listening to them!!

CANDY. Look. Listen. The gunís below their feet. They donít care. All they can think about is how to get to us. If we just relax. Weíll wait out the helicopters.

BUFFY. You said they werenít coming. The whole stateís flooded.

CANDY. Ė Buffy. Iím going to tell you something. Donít get upset. Donít raise your arms and fall about and go crazy, I need you here with me.

BUFFY. What are you talking about?

CANDY. (Pause) The reason the rescue teams arenít coming. I heard the National Guard on the tv for the last couple days now. Theyíve got their hands full with all these dead bodies.

BUFFY. What dead bodies?

DEAD BODY 9. (Appears on their roof, speaking "To A Child" by Anne C. Lynch)

I love to look on that eye of blue,

For tears have not yet worn a channel through;

And the few bright summers since thy birth,

Have left thee a stranger still on earth.

A stranger -- and all, to thine untaught eyes,

Is bright with the hues of paradise.

The rapture of being thrills thy frame,

And sorrow thou know'st not even by name.

Thy innocent thoughts, unswayed by art,

Gush from the depths of thy guileless heart;

Like a harp when the wandering breezes sigh,

Answering each touch with melody.

I would, sweet one, I might wish for thee,

That a stranger thus thou shouldst ever be;

That time might not lift the enchanted veil,

Nor breathe in thine ear his mournful tale.

But those who are bid to this feast of life,

Must drink the cup, -- must abide the strife: --

Then it were better to wish for thee,

Strength for the conflict, and victory.

CANDY. Kick him! (They kick the dead body off, it slides back, splashes) Come here! Lap some of this water up, make it slick! Come on! (They make the back of the roof wet, then catch their breaths)

BUFFY. These are dead people? Why?

CANDY. I didnít want to tell you. Actually, I thought maybe if I could keep the news from you, youíd run into one. But then I kept thinking. And I just wanted to put a bullet in your brain. Really humane thing. Like the French when they built that big blade. You remember.

BUFFY. (Coldly) I wasnít there for the French Revolution. Ė Why didnít you tell me?

CANDY. I told you!

BUFFY. Yeah, but then why didnít you tell me?

CANDY. Anyway. Thatís how it is. (Pause)

BUFFY. Well what do they want? Where do they come from?

CANDY. They want to eat your brain. Thatís about it. If you shoot them in the head, everythingís fine.

BUFFY. You learned all this off of television?

CANDY. You shoot them in the head, you get on with your life. You shoot another one. Watch out.

DEAD BODY 10. (Floats in on a boat, saying "Your Strange Hair" by Renee Vivien)

Your strange hair, cold light,

Has pale glows and blond dullness;

Your gaze has the blue of ether and waves;

Your gown has the chill of the breeze and the woods.

I burn the whiteness of your fingers with kisses.

The night air spreads the dust from many worlds.

Still I don't know anymore, in the heart of those deep nights,

How to see you with the passion of yesterday.

The moon grazed you with a slanted glow ...

It was terrible, like prophetic lightning

Revealing the hideous below your beauty.

I sawóas one sees a flower fadeó

On your mouth, like summer auroras,

The withered smile of an old whore.

(It has come up the front of the roof, the women backing up. They fight it, but DEAD BODY 10 starts knawing on CANDYís head)

CANDY. (Screams for a while. Then) Get him off, get him off!!

BUFFY. (Struggles) Whatís he doing?

CANDY. Get him off, off!!!

BUFFY. (Pushes DEAD BODY 10 away, but itís still on the roof) Okay.

CANDY. Going for the gun.

BUFFY. Are you crazy??

CANDY. What should I do?

BUFFY. Watch it!

(DEAD BODY 10 comes back; from here on, the BODIES could be reciting any original, intense, angst-hungry poetry the actors can make up on the spot Ė about anything. BUFFY bundles her fists up and pops DEAD BODY 10 back into the water with a splash)

CANDY. Way to go! Cover me!

BUFFY. With what??

CANDY. Oh yeah. Ė Call them.

BUFFY. What?

CANDY. You call them over, maybe they forget about me.

BUFFY. What?

CANDY. You call them over, maybe they forget about me?

BUFFY. That doesnít sound Ė

CANDY. Improv, I donít know. (Sheís about to jump into the water)

BUFFY. (Holds her arm) Donít go.

CANDY. (Touches BUFFYís cheek) I have to. I have to try. Right?

BUFFY. I canít be alone.

CANDY. (Smiles) I know.

BUFFY. There might be someone coming.

CANDY. I need the gun.

BUFFY. Ė We need it.

CANDY. (About to jump) Love you.

BUFFY. (Watches her swim for a moment, then snaps out of it. Loud) I was thinking just the other day about the evil of television. But I was in front of my computer at the time. And I started to wonder. This is a screen, and there are lots of internet movie channels, log in and watch the newest Jaws movie. Like a woman I talked to who has computer wrist movies all the time.

CANDY. (Swallowing water) Keep talking!

BUFFY. (Louder) Sheís afraid to go out anymore, sheíll miss the latest broadcast or something, because you canít drive and watch your wrist at the same time all the time. I love you, Candy! (DEAD BODY 11 floats in, reciting whatever) Look out!

CANDY. I see it.

BUFFY. (To DEAD BODY 11) Hey! You! Your poetry SUCKS, man! Ė Get a job! Ė Uh. Various other insults!

CANDY. Thatís telling him.. Ė (Struggles to reach roof) I canít swim.

BUFFY. I know! I donít know why youíre doing this.

CANDY. Yell! (DEAD BODY 11 starts for CANDY)

BUFFY. (Yells) Why are you doing this? Nasty! Talking to YOU! Whatís up with this? You call that poetry? It doesnít rhyme. Itís not even free verse.

(DEAD BODY 11 starts for BUFFY. CANDY makes it onto the other roof)

CANDY. (Gets gun) Okay!

BUFFY. Okay! Ė Shoot!

CANDY. (Screams. Sheís out of bullets, and reloads) No silence!

BUFFY. (Continued abuse at the dead body closing in) Iíve read zines more interesting than that stuff, youíll never make a living at it, you know.

(DEAD BODY 11 pulls at BUFFYís shoe. It comes off. Dead body splashes into the water. He flails, drowns)

BUFFY. Itís gone. (Screams, when DEAD BODY 12 comes right up behind her on the other side) Candy!!

CANDY. (Shoots. Misses) Watch out!!

(BUFFY gets tangled up with the body. A few more bodies are coming. BUFFY focuses all her anger, and knocks everyone into the water. CANDY is amazed. BUFFY is amazed at herself)

BUFFY. Did you see that?

CANDY. You put your mind to it. (Taps foot on house) Whose house is this?

BUFFY. You mean our neighbors? (CANDY nods) I donít know.

(CANDY slips off the house. The gun falls on the roof. CANDY is in the water, flailing. DEAD BODIES begin to converge, speaking Ė well, you know) Candy!

CANDY. (Through gulping water) Get the gun!!

BUFFY. Ė I canít!

CANDY. Still a Ė

BUFFY. I canít!!

CANDY. Still a bullet or Ė (Gulp, gulp)

BUFFY. Iím so..

CANDY. Get Ė (She is dragged under. No response)

BUFFY. Candy! (Pause) Candy!! (Pause) Candy, if youíre alive, donít come up behind me, are you, Candy?!?!?

(A long pause. Nothing. More DEAD BODIES are on the way. BUFFY breaks down. She wants to cry, face hidden in hands. She remains that way until the talkative DEAD BODIES come in. Then, BUFFY appears as one of them, face rigid, expressionless)

I hope that I should never see

A man so great at 43

You give the moon and stars and suns

Enough light from your smile to run

Happy Birthday, Dad.

(Little by little, the DEAD BODIES regard her less as a meal and more as a club member)

I donít know how you do it

But every day you work up to it

Youíll fix the dinner or maybe the table

Youíll take me to school whenever youíre able

How could a kid ever know more fun

Unless you raise my allowance to 21

You know I love you, comma

(Sheís begun making her way over to the next house. To the gun. She grits her teeth going into the water. She makes believe she is tough)

So youíre retiring! Why should that be?

And how come you never asked me?

I could lay around and help you brood

And we could order Chinese food

But first I have to know one thing

Are you 65 or just retiring?

(Lights begin to dim as she makes it to the roof; to the gun)

I wish I had a mother like you

To cook and clean and bitch and sew

But Iíll just have to be content Ė (But the lights are out. Did she get the gun?)