(Act III)

Writer: In just a little bit we’ll be hosting the moon. The sun has gone hours ago. All that remains on the streets is a bunch of electric lights. Now tell me, did you like it?

Employee: A lot. She’s glancing at me with her eyes. Should we ask her to join us? Her husband is asleep.

(Spotlight comes down on the married couple. She is looking towards the table where Writer and Employee are seated, with a big smile on her face. Husband is asleep.)
Writer: (admonishingly) I’m asking whether you liked what I’ve just read out? You’re not listening to me.

Employee: (standing up, with a bit of an angry face) Yeah. No. What you’ve just read out isn’t working. Weak. You haven’t really said anything yet. The few sentences you’ve just read, those were from me. We need to set the record straight. I know that if we as much as begin to set the record straight, there will be war, like in the past. We’ll stop seeing each other, and even coincidence won’t be able to do anything about it. 

Writer: No. What war? Scratch that word off your thesaurus. There will be no more war on this earth. And you don’t deserve war from me. Just a nice little battle. You’re not up to war. Or a battle, for that matter.

Employee: I’m thinking about how we met today, and why? What was the reason? I don’t know.

(Employee rises from his chair, stretches on the floor and starts working out. Woman stretches on her chair and starts to move her arms and legs.)

Writer: What are you doing? Have you lost your mind?

Employee: A beautiful body. I’m getting in shape for the lovely days that peace will bring. You have convinced me that the war is over. Peacetime needs beautiful bodies so it can achieve beautiful things.

(Woman stands up, starts to spin around.)

Writer: You sound like you’re extending condolences to yourself. You don’t seem to realise that 20 years of war have eaten into your body. Your youth is gone. All that’s left of your body now is the clothes you’re wearing. The war started and ended. Your body drifted along as the years cascaded by. There aren’t too many left now, get it? You’re no longer young.

(Woman stops spinning and heads back to her table, making dirty moves along the way. Husband escorts her back to her seat, gently.)

Employee: What did you say? The years have gone past you too, and maybe past me a little bit. Your head, look at your head. Your hair has no colour.

(Woman opens her purse, grabs a lipstick and other makeup items which she then applies to her face, holding a mirror in her left hand. When she’s done, she uses her hand mirror to send a reflection of light across to the table where the two men are seated. Their table is dimly lit.)

Writer: Listen to me, you keep talking and you don’t give a damn about what I’m saying.

Employee: Alright, say something now, come on. You write, and there is no sense in what you write.

Writer: Calm down, easy now.

(Employee does a few more workouts then sits.)

Employee: I’m still young. If you want proof of that, I’m ready.

Writer: You stay young if you can still get your head moving. Your brains. That’s why I’m younger than you. We agree, and that’s all that matters.

Employee: Not at all. I don’t agree with you. What a hellish day.

Writer: (to himself) Why do I write? I don’t really know. Ah, right, I write so as not to forget. I’ll write. I’ll keep writing. I almost forget what I write.

Employee: Why are we here? What for? Remember what I said this morning? I forgot. No, I remember that firefighters in red suits were busy out there trying to put out the sea. A man jumped off a rock. And a girl wept.

Writer: I actually remember you telling me that your boss was away, and that’s why you were able to stay.

Employee: We must never stop talking because we might forget all about it.

Writer: I … will keep talking and writing to say the important stuff.

Employee: I now remember something. You went out early looking for a quiet place to write an article about the reason why the man you saw rolling down the crag had committed suicide.

Writer: Right.

Employee: Careful! He didn’t roll down. Besides, you didn’t really write about it. You said the incident inspired you to write, and that’s it.

Writer: I think I wrote what had to be written. There has got to be someone who will come along and just get what I’m trying to say.

Employee: What are you trying to say?

Writer: Words speak for themselves. They don’t need anybody to explain them. A word exists because it has some sense. Why do you want me to explain them to you when they’re as clear as the sun high up in the sky.

Employee: Dusk. Sundown. Sunset is past. This is the first sunset I don’t get to see.

Writer: And you wonder why I didn’t write about the suicidal guy? What I wrote today is enough.

Employee: (pointing at the sunset, the clouds and the sea; the surf is heard) Sunset. The clouds go after it, spreading out in the sky. The blue isn’t there any more.

Writer: I write what I have to write.

Employee: There is a lone bird there, jumping from one cloud to another.

(Woman stretches her hand towards the sky as if looking for the bird. Waiter appears. He breaks into a sort of ritualistic dance, as if conjuring up the birds and the sunset. Woman joins him.)

Writer: But why do I write? And for whom?

Employee: Sunset is magic. Every sunset is different from every other sunset. To each sunset its own outline and its own colours.

Writer: Listen!

Employee: Look!

Writer: Lend me your ear.

Employee: Look at this magic. The sun will disappear.

Writer: Everything comes around.

Employee: When people are gone, they stay gone. The sun gives you hope it’ll come back, and it does.

Writer: We … or rather, you, if you ever go, it’ll be forever.

(Woman loudly: “Non, non”; Waiter: “Si, si”.)

Employee: And you too. We’re melting away like clouds.

Writer: I watch dawn come alive. I think, I write … You never part with your sunset. You always go after it. I stay because I write and say ideas that no one but me can say.

Employee: Why are we here anyway? Who brought us together and by what laws have we run into each other? Where did each of us come from and where are we both going?

Writer: Coincidence. Didn’t you say that we come across one another by sheer coincidence?

Employee: What brought us together here is the suicidal guy. The Suicidal guy is the subject of the article you couldn’t write.

Writer: I wrote what I had to write. I think I emptied everything that was brewing in my head. When it became too much that it started to overflow, I put it down on paper.

Employee: When it overflows, I drink from it so it doesn’t spill on the ground.

Writer: Fancy a stiff one? I’ll be your buddy now. The day is gone, so go ahead, barkeep, hit me with a stiff one. It misses me just as much as I miss it.

(Enter Waiter. He places a large glass near Writer, and a smaller one near Employee. As soon as he turns away, Employee seems to call him back using gestures, no sounds. A silent dialogue follows, carried only through gestures and motions, and appears to be on the verge of turning into a fight. Employee sits back down on his seat when Waiter starts shadowboxing, showing some skill. Meanwhile, Writer is laid back, smiling at what he sees, as if Waiter had vindicated him.)

(Waiter walks over to Woman’s table and tenderly puts down a glass. He gets very close to her, and secretly slips a note into her hand. She tucks it inside her bosom. Waiter flirts with Woman. He puts his hand on her head, then on her back. Husband is reading the newspaper. Waiter walks backwards as he exits the stage, looking at Woman. She asks Husband: “Rate today?” – “1,500 liras to the dollar”.)

Employee: (lowering his voice) I hope no other coincidence happens ever again. From now on, I reject coincidence.

Writer: I hope another coincidence actually happens (laughs). I shall decree coincidences.

Employee: I was hoping something was going to happen today. This is one of the worst days for me.

Writer: Because you didn’t catch the sunset.

Employee: Not that, there are plenty of reasons why. Longing for my amazing, super-comfortable study is one of them. Look, I still don’t understand. You told me about the suicidal guy, but you didn’t really say anything. You didn’t say why he did it.

(He stands up, walks for a few steps, then turns to Writer and points at him with his index finger, as if about to yell things at him in a sudden fit of anger. But he returns to his seat and leans over, drawing his head close to Writer’s.)

Employee: Did you ask me what I thought about suicide? Did you go down the streets asking people about their daily suicide? Do you have any idea how many times a day I think about death? …

(He stammers the rest of it unintelligibly, in a low voice.)

Writer: You think about death so much because you’re living like all the others.

Employee: Shut the hell up, would you? I’ve had my fill of big ideas today.

Writer: Everything is a big idea. Being together is a big idea. Write down any word you want and look at it a certain way and it’ll turn into a big idea.

Employee: I’ve had my fill of big ideas today. You repeat the same words over and over until you suck them dry of all meaning. Philosophy. Liberty. Patriotism, even that has been as good as hollowed out.

(There is a silence. Writer’s voice changes.)

Writer: (calmly) Well, my friend, I think it’s boredom that’s doing you in. Occupational boredom. Does it make sense for a rational human being to sit on the same chair for as long as he lives? Don’t you have any brains? Haven’t you ever thought about all those politicians who stay in office for as long as they live? Those who put on a fight to keep their little chair nice and safe? (tone changes) Listen, my friend, the question is not about me writing and thinking. The question is about whom I’m writing for and who will read what I’m writing.

Employee: You … you keep writing. If you write stuff that is of concern to people, people will become interested in what you write. But if you keep this shape, a lot of people will commit suicide and won’t live to see any more of your articles. Plus, my job isn’t boring.

Writer: I hope so. But if I write stuff that is of concern to people … Alright, what’s the stuff that is of concern to people? You know what people are concerned about, don’t you? (Raising his arms towards the sky) Oh, people!

Employee: The truth. The truth is what I’m telling you.

Writer: You mean I should write to whom it may concern?

Employee: Although it’s a sentence we use at least a couple dozen times each day, it still catches people’s attention and makes them read the heading and the article and feel that what they’re reading is addressed specifically to them.

Writer: Or having absolutely nothing to do with them.

(Employee stands up and resumes his workout. He raises his arms straight above his shoulders, then bends over all the way down to touch his shoes. Writer looks at him with amazement. He manages to reach down to his shoes on the third try. When he does, he leaps for joy and screams triumphantly. Woman does the same, but in a sensual manner, and repeats it multiple times. Waiter appears, stands looking at Woman. He makes a series of acrobatic leaps, dance moves and exercises, drawing closer to her. She also comes closer to him. Husband shouts “Non, Non” before grabbing her hand, pulling her towards him and forcing her to sit back down at their table.)

Employee: I’ve touched them, I did.

Writer: What happened? What have you touched?

(Writer moves very close to Employee and looks him in the eye.)

Employee: You, what happened to you? You still don’t recognise me? It’s me.

Writer: It’s over. The story’s over. You’re insane.

Employee: For years I haven’t been able to reach down and touch my feet from an upright position like this (he stands at attention like a soldier). Since before the war.

Writer: We’ve become insane.

Employee: I’ve touched my feet.

Writer: Makes you happy. Boggling. Do you scream like that when you touch any part of your body?

Employee: Not any part of my body. Now I realise why we bumped into each other today. We bumped into each other today so I could touch my feet.

Writer: Society. The suicidal guy. Misery. War. Peace. None of this brought us together?

Employee: Was my feet.

(He resumes his workout. Woman looks at him and pulls her chair a little closer. Husband stays put. Then, enter Young Man, an elegant fellow in a grey suit, white shirt and green tie, carrying a briefcase. He sits on a chair, with his back turned to the audience. He opens his briefcase, grabs a mirror, sets it on the table and stares at it. Everyone watches him. Writer then puts some coins on the table, as he and Employee get ready to leave. Woman reaches for the coins but Employee is faster. He puts them in his pocket as Waiter looks on. Waiter then attacks Employee and a brawl ensues – a dancing brawl at that. Waiter finally manages to get the coins back.)

(As Writer and Employee head out, Woman comes closer to Employee and kisses him secretly. Exit Writer and Husband; Employee stays with Woman. Every time she comes near him, he takes a small step back. Finally, he stops; she takes him in her arms and kisses him. He steps some more back and starts to move his arms as if limbering up to resume his workout. Woman laughs.)

Woman: Ha ha ha ha …

Employee: Ha ha …

Woman: He he … cha cha (drawing closer to him and the two embrace).

Employee: (cheerfully) He he … aya yay … (music is heard).

Woman: (cheerfully) Ha ha ha ha … khi … khi ….

(Enter Writer and Husband, music stops, lights dim on Woman and Employee.)

Husband: (in unintelligible syllables) Yo. Talky. Non. Sensi.

Writer: Manushu. Country downy tubes.

Husband: True. Yo. Talky. No. Penny.

Writer: This is what I mean. Vi ti mano ann tavik.

(Lights dim, spotlight is trained on Young Man’s table and Woman. It stays that way for over a minute. Then, lights off on Young Man. Woman, Husband, Writer and Employee are seen standing on stage, chatting.)

All four: La mi fika. Ugh. Hush-hush. Screwed. Fush. Ha ha ha ha.

(Employee grabs Woman by the arm and hugs her, then makes a workout jump for joy. He comes back to her and starts to communicate with her in a sign language. She looks at him lovingly. Husband and Writer chat as well in too many stutters and signs. Music is heard.)

Writer: The question is not just about a man committing suicide. The question is about this crag that invites people to commit suicide. If it weren’t there, people would never have known the meaning of suicide. The French are to blame.

Husband: (unintelligible).

Writer: That’s right. After all, the suicidal guy figured out a solution to his life.

Husband: Ti ti ti (nodding in approval).

Writer: I’m glad. Glad to meet you. It’s so easy and trouble-free to talk to you.

Husband: Ti ti ti.

Writer: All my life, I’ve never even once turned to look at that goddamn crag called Rawshe. It means “rock” in French. The French have brought it all the way from the shores of Marseilles and stuck it up here in Beirut.

Husband: Oui, oui, oui.

Writer: Many Lebanese folks who had a French education came here to commit suicide. They felt that they had to let themselves fall off Rawshe when they had failed their school or university exams.

(Husband suddenly turns to Woman and calls on her.)

Husband: Ho ho, oui oui. Quoi quoi.

(Woman comes by, followed by Employee. Husband looks quizzically into Woman’s face, then inspects every part of her body. He moves towards Employee and knocks him to the floor. Employee struggles to move his arms and head, then rests motionless. Writer walks towards Husband but Woman grabs him by the arm and knocks him to the floor, next to Employee. Exit Husband and Woman.)

(Enter Waiter. He lifts up Young Man – who was still sitting alone with his mirror – and puts him down on the floor. He then proceeds to tidying up the place, collecting scattered papers from the floor and cleaning tables. He does this in acrobatic moves. All lights are turned off, except one spotlight on the mirror.)


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