Monday, September 22, 2008

Bookends

A Story In Dramatic Form

I.
[Two men sit at a foldout card table. Bottles of beer, packs of cigarettes and an ashtray lay about].

Ralph: In life, few pleasures compare to reading. A movie, a television show, even music, these entertainments unfold at an established pace. Everyone who saw Titanic, they each lost three hours. Listen to that Titanic song, four minutes. But with a book, each takes the time they need. Pour over every line in search of meaning. Or skim to the climax and have one more title under your belt.

Georgie: For shit’s sake my man, I wish you were a book. I’d skim my way right to the fucking point.

Ralph: Georgie, I don’t know if you’re much of a reader…

Georgie: Box scores on the crapper. Once in a while my bank statement.

Ralph: Are you familiar with a piece of literature entitled, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie?

Georgie: [Laughs] You mean the kiddie book? “You give a mouse a cookie and he’ll want some milk.” And so on until he fucks your daughter. Teaches toddlers to be greedy little bastards.

Ralph: That cute picture book, you may have read the words and glanced at the illustrations. That cute picture book, look close and it’s an allegory. It’s the appeasement of Nazi Germany that led to World War Two.

Georgie: If you give a Hitler Poland.

Ralph: Exactly. If you indulge your problem, you only get a larger problem. A larger problem with a sense of entitlement. But not a solution. Maybe a rodent that chewed through three boxes of cereal. Maybe a despot plowing through a whole continent. Maybe an ungrateful nephew who expects a paycheck based on genetics instead of hard work.

Georgie: So what you’re saying here, I’m Hitler?

Ralph: If you want. Or if you’d rather, you can be the mouse. What you can’t be is a drain on my business. A drain on this family. Not anymore. I love you Georgie but I can’t allow this problem to grow.

Georgie: Problem meaning me? Like I’m some fucking tumor?

Ralph: Tumor. That’s one I hadn’t thought of.


II.

[Ralph and Georgie stand outside. Behind them is a worn down American-made automobile.]

Georgie: So what now Uncle Ralph? Mice get their necks snapped. Hitler, he died too. What’s my fate?

Ralph: Oh kid, you’re too dramatic. Let a problem multiply, grow out of control and true, it has to be destroyed. But catch it early, there’s a humane solution. A mouse, you can release to the wild, so long as it hasn’t nested and bred. A tyrant can be exiled, so long as he hasn’t scorched the earth and bunkered down. And you Georgie Boy, you can keep on keeping on.

Georgie: Up and leave? Walk away from Ma. From everything here, what I’ve worked for?

Ralph: When it comes to your mother, she’d be more than proud of her little boy out in the world, finding himself. As far as everything you’ve worked for, I can’t imagine what that is. I put you to work straight off expulsion. And despite an insistence on producing fuck-all, I continued to employ you. To support you. But that ends tonight. Move on or stick around, I won’t bleed for a damn parasite.

Georgie: I can’t just drive into the night. Where man, where? My whole fucking world is here. I wouldn’t even know what direction...

Ralph: Kid, it doesn’t even matter a slight bit. Go to a small town and make a name for yourself. Go to a big city and become anonymous. What I’m saying to you is quit skimming through life. You’re getting nothing from it. Find a way to live at your own pace. And even then, if you don’t find meaning, kid, at least look for some.

Georgie: You set a mouse loose from one home, likely it’ll be a nuisance in the next.

Ralph: Then keep running Georgie Boy. Cause if you don’t, they’ll snap your neck.




3 comments:

Ocular Eclipse said...

I stumbled upon your blog via the Facebook ad, and I'm glad to see another Palahniuk-esque writer out there. Keep up the good work. I definitely look forward to reading more of your short stories!

Leroy J. Powers said...

part of me wants to say this to my nephew, lol

cemeteryswing said...

You got "loose" right this time! Loved the story again by the way.