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dead rats

paul knag
(The stage is black. Humming can be heard.)
The mind is a wondrous place to wander when one is unaware.
(Humming stops.)
ho is that! ho has broken through in here! "ou there#
$e! hat do %ou want! I&'e doneit all( i) %ou must know( Here&s m% resume to
show %ou so.
I don&t care what %ou ha'e done( now stand still and do not hum.
I don&t know where I am( I don&t know where to go. *oint me a spot upon this
blot( gi'e me some orientation. +nd one more thing( tell me now ,, what is our
e-act relation!
The mind is sublime( %es( but I ha'e no time( )or )oolish games( tom)ooler%( I
am not going( but what %ou&ll be knowing is a great uncertaint%. It&s %ou I
banish( and all %our parado-es )rom this ''er% blot( )rom here to .eno(
including *ittsburgh and /eno( turn the lights on( come down with the spot.
(0Ights up. Stark bright stage.)
I ha'e seen the light# It is 2od I ha'e seen( naked and pure. I am sa'ed# 3o
%ou see him too! 3o %ou see the light! I bask in it m% brothers and sistes( I
bathe in the light# Cleands me o) m% sins O 0ord# 4egone Vanit%(
0o5uaciousness( I do not know %ou# 4egone *ersona( begone 6acade# 4egone %e
)oppishwol'es. "our arti)ice shackles %ou to Satan# 4egone# 4egone#
$E1 7 O$E1
4egone# 4egone# "e rabid dog. 2o on# 2o back to %our cage. 4egone# 4egone# "ou
ra'ing prick( get the )uck o)) our stage.
hat horrors approach# hat terrors await# The minions o) hell( I see( I see.
2rant me sanctuar% O 0ord( I pra%( get them awa% )rom me#
$E1 7 O$E1
"ou poor little rat( %ou stupid ass. 2od is )or all purposes dead. he looks
and laughs when he sees tit and ass( but the rest goes right o'er his head.
$inions awa%( awa% )rom me# $% 0ord( I pra% thee( part the sea# 2rant me sa)e
passage to %our domain( and )ore'er )rom logic shall I abstain.
$+1 8
H+ H+#
O$+1 8
$+1 9
O$+1 9
The sea#
$E1 7 O$E1
That one I&d like to see# "ou&re 'er% cle'er( but %ou&re late )or %our train(
and don&t )orget %our umbrella( it looks like rain.
The mind is a wicked place( I wonder( Oh Sir! hat is the )are!
(Cross)ade to 2rand Central Station)
The )are to where! It 'aries %ou see. It&s ;.<= to estport o)),peak and se'en
to Stam)ord at three.
>uite a bit to pa%( I sa%( )or someone who&s going to hell. hat do %ou
suggest! I want golden shores# 6or ;.<= pa% tell#
:pun a peak in 3arien( there li'es a girl named $ar%ann( in a chateau( with no
$omm% or 3ad. She sta%s home alone( with her ?@@,line )riends( and trul% her
li)e is 5uite sad.
That sound delicious( and I hope she&s not capricious( but e'en then it wont
be so bad. Indecisi'e as I( she and I shall )l% to greater heights than with
an% other cad.
That sounds reall% rad( and I am 5uite glad to see %our direction is set. 4ut
now %ou must go( %onder whistle will blow( and I hope %ou )ind her well met.
Thank %ou dear sir( it is not o)ten I con)er( with men so lucid and right.
That&s ;.<= )or the train to 3arien( now run( there&s not a second tonight.
(The $+1 scampers o)) to catch his train.)
(Cross)ade toA + peak in 3arien)
$% lad% $ar%ann( most )arest o) 'irgin maids( it appears %ou sleep the great
sleep( Oh 2ods# I ha'e come a bit too late( and now )or us I must weep. "our
promise was great( in m% mind&s e%e I saw( great direction to which I keep.
+lthough I&'e been here and there( and most ecer%where( %ou Bust can&t utter a
peep. 1ow I look to m% conscious adn I&m e'er aware( o) all things plied high
in a heap. In the back o) m% brain( to keep me insame( it shows me Bust where
I must leap. 6rom one point to the other( with cra.ed indiscretion( I abandon
the circumstance I meet. 1ow I must stop( this circular game( and Boin %ou in
dreams o) black sheep.
(Cross)ade to a tunnel. There is light at the end o) it. ater drips. + man
dressed in a green suit appears. He walks( he whistles. He walks( he whistles(
)or a while now( not gaining an% ground as i) he is on a treadmill or the
tunnel keeps coming at him the same. It stops and out o) the darkness comes a
litgtle wai). She addresses the audience.)
0ITT0E +I6
2&da% to %a people# +in&t it balm% toda% sir $e mumm% said she would take us
kids all to the circus toda% sir beauti)ul da% )or a picnic don&t %a think sir
That&s what me mumm% told me toda% sir 2onna go see the )at lak%( and the
strong man( the )reaks and the clowns. Its been three da% the%&'e been in town
and $umm% said we are goin& to the circus toda% did I tell %ou sir I&m goin&
to the circus 3o %ou hear me# "ou ain&t listenin&# "ou ain&t heard a word I
said# ell ne'ermind. I ain&t pa%in& %ou no mind either. I ain&t gonna make a
big stink about it. 1o spectacle )or %ou. "&all shut up#
$/. 2/EE1
E-cuse me miss( how wretched %ou look( what was that %ou were sa%in&! +re %ou
lost( m% little girl!
0ITT0E +I6
$omm%... Help me... 2et on %our knees and pra%. 3on&t look at me that wa%.
$/. 2/EE1
Oh( b% Co'e( %ou are a thie)( a 'illian. 3o %ou want m% mone%! $% watch! 3on&t
kill me! 3o %ou want to talk! "ou poor little wretch. I gi'e it all to %ou.
hat e'er %ou want. hat did %ou sa%! +ll the same( it&s %our game.
0ITT0E +I6
"ou. "ou there. Speak man. +re %ou dumb! Tell me( am I here! "ou cannot keep
this silence. 3on&t look at me that wa%# 1o. "ou heard me %ou per'erts. I said
no. 1o means no. 1o#1o#1o# ... hat are %ou looking at. Turn around. This
ain&t no show. This is 'isual rape# 2oddamn peeping toms# "a got them
e'er%where. Can&t gi'e the girl one second o) pri'ac%. 2et this gu% outta
here( who is he! hat does he want! h% is he taking o)) his clothes# 2oddamn
per'erts. This societ%&s lost all its morals.
$/. 2/EE1
0ITT0E +I6
hat did he sa%! Tell him to shut up would %a! I don&t talk to them cra.ies.
+s )or %ou( %ou mute little per'ert( S*E+D#
$/. 2/EE1
I&m speaking( I&m speaking. hat do %ou want me to talk about. Oh I like to
talk. Ohm%god# 3on&t kill me %ou piti)ul star'ing %oung thing. I ha'e so much
to li'e )or. I don&t want to die. I ha'e three children( a wi)e and a dog. I
ha'e un)ul)illed ambitions. I ha'e E weeks 'acation coming to me. Oh shit. I&m
gonna kick %our ass %ou little bitch# Oh please don&t kill me. Here( take it
all. +ll o) it. $% whole goddamned li)e. here( here take it.
E'er%thing...please(please don&t hurt me.
0ITT0E +I6
(The 0ittle wai) whips out a machete)
"ou look so goddamned piti)ul( )at ass. I )eel sorr% )or %ou. Tr%ing to look
all tough. I know %ou&re peein& in %our pants right now( winpering at the )eet
o) a 8F,%ear old girl with a big kni)e.
(awkward beat)
hat&s so )unn%! Shut up# I hear %our pompous,ass snickers. 0udicrous( eh! "ou
think so! "ou think! "ou think i need a reason!
(insane laughter. She hacks an unsuspecting audience member to pieces( G8H $r.
2reen dies onstage as well)
I thought I thought %ou think too much. hat a shame. +n%woo)%( back on track.
"ou are such a sight.
"ou think I )eel sorr% )or %ou. 1o( I don&t. 2imme that. I want it all. 6uck
%ou. 2et out o) m% )ace. "eah( that&s right( keep %our goddamn mouth closed.
(she steps back( notices the mess she has made)
Oh( look what I&'e done# 2od that&s reall% gross. +nd all o'er m% dress. I
can&t belie'e it.
(Cross)ade to Schoolroom)
I&m such a slob. I&m so ugl%( I&m stupid( e'er%one hates me. I&m a cheat( a
liar( and I hate m% dirt% hair. I swear I&m gonna cut it all o)).
(Schoolmaster 2reen rises )rom the corpse o) $r. 2reen)
$arie# This is atrocious# She&s doing it again#
Sir. Oh shit sir. Oh I )orgot sir. I don&t know. I didn&t hear %ou. hat did
%ou sa%!
Such a disturbed %oung girl. I&ll do it again. $a%be she&ll learn this time.
(he takes out the whip)
"es( sir. I will not )ragment meaning.
(screams o) pain)
I will not )ragment meaning.
(wailing agon%)
I will not )ragment meaning.
(gutwrenching horror)
I will not...
Ohh# I will eradicate this disseminating disse'erer )ore'er )rom this earth#
In %our honor O noble *lato#
Oh( Sir( I know not what I could ha'e done.
(6ade to Sanitarium)
3/. 2/EE1
It&s an ugl% stor%. 4een through the papers and twice through the tabloids.
*la%ing little cat and mouse games with the commuters. 0ittle miss innocent
gets them all comcerned and then she lets them ha'e it. 2risl% sight. I&'e
seen man% children with all sorts o) ps%choses( unrealities( )antastic
hallucinations. The% all seem generic compared to $ar%. I don&t know wh% I
isolate her to such a degree. I honestl% don&t know wh%. I reall% shouldn&t. I
should treat her like I do the rest o) the lot. 2o on through the procedures
and the whole bit( and go home at the end o) the da%. 4ut she is not the usual
ps%chotic. She is not e'en a ps%chotic in the con'entional use o) the term.
%ou see I ha'en&t )ound one connectging thread that could show that she is
mentall% secure in an% corner o) realit%. hen a patient breaks out o) e'er%
diagnostic grid that %ou could possibl% place them in( how can %ou subBect
them to an arbitrar% treatment! How can %ou match cause with cure when %ou
ha'e no point o) re)erence to start )rom. "ou see what $ar% sees is di))erent
than what %ou or I see. 6or e-ampleA this light here( is 'er% plainl% a light(
but to $ar% it could be an old shoe( a )eeling o) pit%( the smell o) hot
asphalt( a harsh word( a cold touch( the taste o) rotten meat( practicall%
an%thing. This phantasmagoric misperception was not something she was born
with. She had to )irst build up a repertoire o) ps%chosensations )rom which
she now draws )rom to )acilitate he misperception. Her realit% is distinctl%
separate and )undamentall% damaged. The onl% tangible link to ger bega'ior is
the ob'ious. The 'iolent end. She kills( and not onl% does she kill( she cuts
her 'ictims into neat little pieces( like a mother chopping up a steak )or her
child. She does not ha'e the )undamental abilit% to separate the real )rom the
unreal. "et she alwa%s kills. hat she sees as )antas%( most o)ten is warm(
li'ing realit%. hat she sees as realit%( is usuall% a wall or a cold )loor.
I) I could onl% remo'e the 'iolence( she would be docile. + lunatic( but a
harmless one.
"ou there# Stand up. I want to talk to %ou.
3/. 2/EE1
3o %ou see. She talks to intangible or inanimat entities as i) the% were
people. Once in a while %ou can get her to speak directl% to %ou( and respond.
4ut it seems to be a matter o) chance whether or not she picks %ou to be real
that da%.
hould %ou please sa% something to me. *lease. I would answer %ou i) %ou spoke
to me.
3/. 2/EE1
$ar%. Hello( $ar%.
I hear %ou. "es( %ou speak. I am $ar%.
3/. 2/EE1
O'er here $ar%. She dows not see. She acts as i) she were blind. +lthough in
)act she is impared to a much higher degree( her senses do )unction normall%
on a local le'el. It is the poin to translation o) these senses tinto the
brain that I belie'e has been damaged.
(turning with anger and precision to 3r. 2reen)
1o %ou are the one who is damaged( dear sir( )orcing the world to belie'e in
%our shadows. I can see )ar better than %ou( I am not blind. I would not talk
to %ou( it is not in the te-t. 4ut I am a philosopher( and I wish to con'erse
,, with the people( so shut up actor and sa% %our lines( %our melodramatics
ha'e gi'en me indigestion( and %our interpretations disse'er the true word ,,
dead on the page( unreal in %our 'oice. 3octors are alwa%s dull characters
an%wa%s. I hate Chekho'#
(she whips out the machete and hacks 3r. 2reen to death.)
(Con)usion. The stage collapses and crumbles. 3arkness. The place is a bombed
out bunkerA E-tending to the hori.on are heaps o) rubbleA crumbled( blackened
cement( bent steel girders( automoti'e parts( adn other debris. + )ew smok%
)ires still burn throughout the rubble( as the sun rises )rom the east. +11
lies at the bottom o) the trench in a )etal position( her clothes soaked in
her own blood. Seems to be unconscious or dead. hanging to her right is a
single lightbulb( )lickering. + dead cat and se'eral dead rats litter the
)loor. There is no sound. 4rie) tableau. The sun strikes her )ace and she
stirs. She %awns and stretches( leans down and pets the cat. She li)ts hersel)
upright to a sitting position. She stands and stretches( walking o'er to the
edge o) the bunker( and peers out( )acing the audience.)
eatherman said it was supposed to thunder adn rain toda%( but Bust %ou look(
not a cloud in the sk%. "ou know those weathermen( calling themsel'es
meteorologists adn all sors o) )anc% names like the% were some kind o)
scientist or something. I ne'er trusted a word the% said. I4out as reliable as
a politician... "ou ne'er should put too much energ% into )orecasting and
e-pectations( %ou ne'er should. +n%wa%( I like surprises. +nd so do %ou( don&t
(She looks around( searching)
here are %ou( I can&t see %ou. "ou hiding )rom me again! I got %our )ood. I
got some tuna... Come on kitt%( come here...
(She turns and picks up the dead cat)
Oh la.%( la.% kitt%. +lwa%s sleeping the da% awa%. 4ad kitt%# "ou go outside(
%ou spoiled )at( la.% cat.
(She sets the cat down)
2o on#
(picks up the cat and throws it o'er the edge o) the bunker)
0a.% cat. 1o )ood )or %ou toda%. 2o and get %oursel) some rats. I don&t )eel
sorr% )or %ou kitt%. 1o I don&t. "ou go out and pla%( it&s a beauti)ul da%.
(She returns into the bunker( cleaning up( dusting( making house.)
Cohn# Culia# ake up# I&m not coming upstairs. I want %ou down here now.
%ou&ll be late )or work. C&mon %ou gu%s. 2uess I&m the onl% one who&s not la.%
toda%. This house is )ull o) corpses. C&mon 3an( Culie# ake up#
(a )aint sound o) beating interrupts the action. She )ree.es )acing upstage
and the beating gets louder( )inall% identi)iable as a helicopter. The sound
gets louder and louder( increasing until it is almost unbearable. ind hits
the stage and 'arious debris is scattered. 3E+1 enters( stage le)t. He is
dressed in a shredded militar% uni)orm( is wearing a large backpack( and is
carring a radio and one do.en red roses.)
(Speaking into his radio)
$% 2od. It&s all horrors hown here man. She&s dead. 0et&s go.
(She sees 3E+1)
3ean# "ou&re earl%. 3idn&t I sa% eight. Oh that&s alright( come( sit down and
ha'e some co))ee. I&ll be read% in Bust a minute.
(She turns to 3E+1 and smiles. 3E+1 looks through her adn turns to e-it stage
3ean( are %ou alright! "ou Bust ga'e me the strangest look. 3ean( where are
%ou going!
(He pokes around in the rubble)
(To radio)
I think we got the cat( too.
(She turns her back to 3E+1( and starts to undress)
hat did %ou sa% about the cat. 3ean! I didn&t hear %ou. 2od( it&s good to see
%ou 3ean( I&'e missed %ou alot. This house is 5uieter that a cematar%. I&ll be
glad to get out o) here.
(3ean la%s the roses at the edge o) the bunker( and e-its stage le)t.)
h% don&t we go see a mo'ie tonight! ould %ou like that! There&s a new mo'ie
out( and its about this doctor who brings these silent mental patients back to
(Sound o) helicopter increases( then )ades.)
It sounds )ascinating. It&s called +wakenings I think. /obin illiams is in
it. He&s alwa%s good. The critics reall%...3ean! 3ean( are %ou listening to
(she turns)
3ean! here did %ou go!
(She peers o'er the bunker)
(Stage lights darken( house lights go up a bit. +11 stands at the top o) the
bunker( naked but )or bloodied rags. Humming is heard.)
here did he go! So strange.
Culia# Cohn# I want %ou down here now# here are %ou! I can&t see#
It&s so dark in here I can&t see# Cohn# It smells. 0ike something rotten is
down here. Can someone help me!# here did all o) %ou go! "ou know %ou
shouldn&t belie'e the )orecasters. Things aren&t as bad as people sa% the%
are. 0ook on the bright side. It&s a beauti)ul da%( the% lied to %ou. The%
alwa%s do. 4ut I don&t belie'e them. I belie'e that li)e goes on. I belie'e
that nothing comes to an end. E'er%thing continues( and I will continue. I can
see right through %our silence( right through into %our ming( deepinside
behind %our )ace( wa% back( where %ou reall% think( and I know Bust how hard
it is( how hard the pain hits %ou( but look at me( hear me. I continue. +)ter
the lights go down. I continue. 0ook on the bright side. "ou can go home now.
(She e-its into the audience. House lights up.)
G8H This can be( )or practical purposes( a dumm% or an actor.

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