I'm thinking about that
assignment today, and you lucky ducks will receive the benefits of my brainstorming fragments. Feel free to comment with . . . er . . . comments. Yeah. Just bear in mind this is essentially free-writing (unlike the rest of the 'blog, the which is meticulously planned out months in advance).
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Five men stand on stage with their backs to us. All of them wear strange, black hoods that cover their faces but leave their jawlines exposed. At the sound of a sudden gun battle, the four to the sides scatter in different directions and disappear offstage. The battle sounds fade very slowly, the central figure remaining silent and still. There is a long moment of silence, long enough to invite a certain relaxation. Suddenly, a single gunshot, loud enough to startle. The man onstage doesn't flinch, doesn't seem to move. Gradually we begin to realize, however, he is moving. Extremely slowly, smoothly [
slow], the man is collapsing to his knees, then his face, as if shot in the back of the head. It takes a good minute before he is still, face-down on the floor, head turned to the left. After a short moment, Captain Evans enters in formal dress. Unphased by what she sees, she advances to the body and begins examining it. After some time it becomes clear she is trying to view the obscured face. She can not see it, so she rolls the body over, which responds as if lifeless. She stands over the face, still obscured by a partial hood, and still, she can determine nothing. She sighs, takes the body's right hands and helps it to its feet. Once on its feet, the body does a smart salute to her, then about-faces and marches off stage. She turns to the audience and speaks:
She closes her eyes. Her whole body shifts downward subtly in relaxation. Suddenly she gasps, her eyes fly open and her hands reach out, as if waking suddenly.
* * *
EVANS: Lieutenant Colonel Ainsley.
AINSLEY: Major Evans.
E: It's good to see you again, sir.
A: And you. Major. How was your tour?
E: About as brutal as they come, sir.
A: I'm sorry to hear that.
E: Don't be. It means I'm glad to come home, sir.
. . .
E: Sir, have you maintained contact with them?
A: At ease already-
E: Have you, sir?
. . .
A: I thought you didn't want any more news from Bethel.
E: I haven't asked for any, sir.
A: I get regular updates on their status and all major military decision-making regarding the family of Specialist Larkin still has to pass over my desk. But that kind of thing comes around less and less. And no, I haven't maintained contact with them, Major. It was agreed that would be confusing given your transfer.
agreed on that, as I recall.
E: Yes. We did.
A: They're all right.
E: I don't want to know. Really, Bill. I just wanted to know that they're still . . . that they're still there.
A: They are. They are.
A: Is that all, Major?
E: If that's all, sir.
) Then you're dismissed.
E: Thank you, sir.
. . .
E: We're lucky they didn't destroy themselves over it, sir. We didn't belong there, but we had to be there. I remember sifting through hate mail directed at us, at this government, arriving in their PO box, weeding out anything that might crack Carolyn further or send Ed off on a rampage. After a while, it was easy to start to listen to those letters, those emails, those strangers at the end of a phone line and understand that they weren't telling us to get out of Iraq. They were telling us to get out of that house, that town. That family. I didn't leave because I loved them. I left because I had to, because they loved me. And I shouldn't have been there. . . . Sir.
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WELL. I sure do seem to be loving the Evans action with this work, don't I? Didn't really explore any connections between her and Jake, and didn't necessarily create anything usable in the play as it stands. Still, that's part of the fun of all this work. Everything goes into the group mind (which I like to think is at least somewhat different from a hive mind) and one never knows when one will meet it again down the creative road.