Original Short Fiction: "Graveyard Whistler Features Stoney's One Act Play"
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This story is fiction.
It does not depict any real person or actual event.
Introductory Word from Graveyard Whistler
The late owner, Stoney, of the literary site. Stone Gulch, was quite a prolific writer in many different genres. He has a grand total of ten one act plays. I don't know if I'll feature all of them here, but I just might.
Just to refresh memories: "Stoney,"—my nickname for him because he requested anonymity—the owner of the Stone Gulch lit site, gave me permission to use any of his essays and original fiction and poetry anyway I choose. So as I base the pieces on the selections I make, I tinker a bit with them, for example, I always change names. I have no idea if Stoney used names of real people or not, but for my purposes, I intend to keep these entries pure fiction, so my tinkering is geared to mask as much as possible any telling details that someone who knew Stoney might recognize. The last thing I need is someone from Stoney's circle of folks to suspect he sees himself and feel he's being targeted.
The following play features two characters who are engaging in a conversation through letters. It is sparse, but it tells a story about two very different characters revealing their various qualities, strengths, and weakness. It's funny in some ways but mostly pathetic as it pulls the veil off of a decaying, dying, and possibly dead relationship between the two characters involved.
Its original title was "Two Pathetic Women." I changed it, alluding to Bob Dylan's song, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" because I felt that allusion summed up the tenor of the letters the two women have offered.
I'll Just Say, "Fare Thee Well"
A one act play by Stoney
The stage setting features two writing desks, a woman at each with pen and paper. The curtain opens as one is writing, speaking as she writes. The curtain closes then opens as the other woman, writes speaking as writes. This toggling continues until the final curtain closes.
Two pathetic women are exchanging correspondences.
Pathetic Woman 1: It occurred to me that we could easily lose each other. And if that is what you want, I am willing to accept it and respect it and will not bother you again. But I suspect that deep down you do not want that and deep down I do not want that either. We have a lovely and deeply inspirational childhood that we shared, and that we both cherish. I know that it has seemed to me that when we reminisce about our common past we are most in sync. If any of this rings true with you, please let me know, because I have an idea that may keep us in a relationship that we can both accept. If not, just ignore and continue on, I won't bother you again, and blessings to you.
Pathetic Woman 2: You think you are such a smartass intellectual with you fancy-ass ways of trying to look down on me. I get it. This just another way of saying I am at fault for our lousy relationship. You are the one who left home and left me to take care of our family while they got old and died off. Where were you when meemaw was dying, when pawpaw was dying, and all the others I had take care of all by my lonesume. You are a selfish fuckhead. You never come to visit even when you are in town. You never call me. Most people who love each at least stay in touch. As far as I am concerned you can take a flying leap and kiss my ass.
Pathetic Woman 1: I think I understand. As I said, I won't bother you again. And blessings to you.
Pathetic Woman 2: You think your such a fucking saint with all you "blessing this" and "blessing that." Your just a hypocrit and fraude who think of no one but your own godam self. You always try to make me look like I'm wrong when you know down deep I the one who has the common sense—pawpaw even said that. He said you had the book learning but I had the real smarts. That what alway pisses you off. You know I right about politics and shit like that. But just because you have choosen the wrong side you think you can bully me and make me think you are the smart and right one. You don't know shit. As far as I'm concerned to can rot in hell with all the other crapheads.
Pathetic Woman 1: OK. You've convinced me. I'm not worth having relationship with. I annoy you, and I promise from now on I will simply leave you alone. At the risk of flaunting sainthood, I'll again wish you many blessings and a joyous life. But before I go, one last thing: because you did not yet ask about the idea I had for keeping in touch, I'll just mention it now. Every week or so we could offer a "blast from the past." Here is my first one: I was playing my guitar this morning and realized that I have this particular brand of guitar because of Uncle Adelbart.
I asked him on one occasion what the best brand of guitar was, and he said, "Martin." So that's the brand of guitar I have." I thought it would be interesting and helpful for us if we could share such info from time to time, since we both think lovingly upon our past and our family.
However, I can see now that that thought was silly. You would be much better off not keeping up a relationship with someone who is so repugnant to you. So, as Bob Dylan once quipped, "I'll just say fare thee well."
Pathetic Woman 2: You know I love you more than anything, but I just wish you were different. I wish you understood how unsafe and stupid I feel every time I have to read what you write. I used to like to read you stories and shit, but now all I see is stupid shit that makes me feel like a looser. I AM NOT A LOOSER - NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU TRY TO MAKE ME OUT ONE.
Pathetic Woman 1: All right then. I think I've got your answer. Won't bother you again: "I'll just say fare thee well."
Pathetic Woman 2: No response.
The curtain closes. One woman lets out a blood curdling scream: the audience is left to wonder who screamed.
Afterword from Graveyard Whistler
Just a quick note to thank my readers, especially those who offer useful suggestions. I could do without the insults, smears, and ghastly stupidity that gets slung my way, but what the hey!, that's to be expected by anyone who goes public in anyway. And I do treasure the kind words and helpful comments. Keep them coming, please!
Back to the drawing board, as the old saw goes . . .
(aka Graveyard Whistler)
Whistling Past the Cemetery
Life Sketch of Belmonte Segwic aka Graveyard Whistler
Belmonte Segwic, aka Graveyard Whistler, is a persona created by me, Linda Sue Grimes, to tell a story about a unique individual's interaction with the study of the literary arts
Introduction by Graveyard Whistler
"We cannot choose what we are free to love." —W. H. Auden, "Canzone"
Greetings! My name is Belmonte Segwic, aka "Graveyard Whistler," a handle I used in my many Internet writings and communications in grad school. I fairly recently completed a master of arts degree in creative writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. After achieving that step in my education, I have been batting around the idea of pursuing a PhD in the history of letters.
Thus, I have transferred to a large university in the eastern United States that will remain nameless. My advisor advised me to keep it nameless because of my intentions to engage heavily on the Internet. I guess she felt that my style might cramp that of this "prestigious" institution of higher learning.
Being the opinionated fool that I am, I would love nothing better than to engage in poking holes the inflated balloon of reputation that these Ivy League monstrosities like to float over the heads of their inferiors. But I will have to save that for another day because now I intend to seek, read, and research, looking backward into the history of literature.
I am particularly drawn to irony as a literary device, and likely I will offer lots of stuff pertaining to that device. But I'm also easily swayed by intriguing narratives of all sorts, from flash fiction to gigantic tomes that seem never ending. For my writing purposes though, I will likely stick to mid-sized works that can be handled in 1000 to 4000 words for the Internet, where attention spans diminish daily.
So those honorable mentions represent a brief overview of my literary intentions at the present time, and of course, I reserve the right change directions as speedily as I can close one text and open another. My apparent lack of direction is somewhat upsetting to my advisor, but I have assured her that I will have a dandy dissertation all tied up in bows by end of the three-year limitation that has been imposed on me.
A Little Bit About My Background
I was born on an undisclosed day in an undisclosed small hamlet in eastern Kentucky. I'd like nothing more than to disclose those bits of bio, but my parents are important people in Kentucky politics, and I refuse commit any act that would limit where I will go in my Internet scribblings, which I would most definitely be called upon to do if it got out who my important parents are. Just let me say that they are decent, hard-working folks, highly educated, and even to my own politics-blighted view, important to the societal, cultural, as well as political, fabric of Kentucky and the mid-South in general.
I am an only child and feel that I have not missed out on anything important by not having siblings. I did grow up with about a dozen cousins who seemed like siblings, some staying with us for extended visits. It seems that there were always a cousin or two filling up our extra bedrooms, keeping our refrigerator perpetually empty, but offering the best company a young tyke could ask for. I always enjoyed having those cousins visit, learned a great deal from the older ones, and was constantly entertained by the younger ones.
What I remember most is writing and putting on plays. All of cousins loved movies, theater, and books about imaginary characters. From my age of six to seventeen we must have written and performed a couple hundred plays, all influenced by something some cousin had read and loved. I hated acting but was always recruited to be one of the main characters. I loved doing the art for the backgrounds and working props like swords, capes, pistols, wands, fairy dust, make-up and other costumes—whatever we needed to make the play more colorful and life-like.
My Favorite Play
The summer after high school graduation when I seventeen, four of my cousins (all of us getting ready for college in the fall) came to stay for the entire summer. The first few days we just goofed off—swimming, throwing baseballs around, riding bikes, watching TV, and cooking large meals every night. Then about two weeks into the visit, the oldest cousin blurted out while we were sitting around trying to decide what to do that day, "Let's do a play!" Everyone shouted in unison, "Of course, a play!"
The next question was—what will it be about? And after batting around ideas for about an hour, we decided it would be a play based on a Shakespeare play. One girl-cousin then insisted it be based on The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, but then the other girl-cousin objected saying that one always made her "cryyy." But then a boy-cousin piped up, saying, no, let's make it a comedy. It doesn't have to be exactly like the Shakespeare, let's turn it into a comedy. That will be a barrel of fun to turn a tragedy into a comedy.
To make a really, really long story much shorter than the original, we began right away to write our version of the Shakespeare tragedy into a comedy. We titled it "Raymond and Julie: A Funny Tale with a Happy Ending." We worked and worked. I painted sets, helped make costumes, and we then asked the principal of our high school to let us use the auditorium to put on the play. Then we got the brilliant idea of selling tickets. I typed up a ticket, took it to Kinko's and ran off a thousand copies. And we sold every one of them!
The auditorium only held 850 people. So on performance night, roughly 200 people had to stand around to watch this amateur group of ragamuffins scuffling across a stage performing their original version of one the great bard's masterpieces. Luckily, the play went off without a hitch, the audience loved it, some even asked if we would do it again!
Then all hell broke loose! The county clerk's office contacted the principal of the high school and asked if a certain unapproved event had taken place at the high school. The clerk asked for details such as tickets sold, capacity of the room, and what permits the administrators of the event had applied for and obtained. Well, we had not applied for and obtained any permits, and when the clerk had gathered all that information, he sent the sheriff to our house for a little sit-down with our parents. The sheriff found that we were in violation of a number of county and city ordinances, and the fines for those violations amounted to $15,000!
We had sold tickets for 50 cents each. We sold a 1000, so that means we took in $500 for the sale of the tickets. My parents were stupefied about all those ordinances and that's how they got into politics. They first ran for council positions to try to eliminate the coercive nature of government into the lives of young people who were actually doing good creative work. But for the time being, before they could actually do anything politically, my parents owed $15,000 in fines for allowing us to perform a play for the community.
Luckily, they were friends with neighbor who was a tax attorney. He also knew quite a lot about the ordinances that we had violated. He came over to our house one evening to explain what he had found out about satisfying that ridiculous fine. He told us that we could retro-actively apply for a permit for the play, but that we would have perform the play again after we received it—that is—if we received it. He then said that if we apply and receive the permit and re-perform the play, we must turn over the proceeds to a county or city charity. We didn't have sell tickets again, we could just turn over the money we had collected from the first performance.
So here is how it went down: we had paid $50 to get the tickets copied. We took in $500 for the first performance of the play, which had left us with $450. After the lawyer-friend told us about getting the permit, we shelled out $100 for the permit. It didn't cost us anything to re-perform the play, and actually we loved getting to do it again, and our audience loved it so much that they donated money because we had not charged them for the second performance.
And they donated big time: the 1000 people who attended, donated roughly $60 each. That meant after we gave the original $500 to the charity (our three sets of parents made up the $150 missing from the original intake of $500 that paid for the tickets and application for the permit)—we chose to give to the "Little Brothers and Sisters of Saint Francis"—we ended up with roughly $55,000! We did not have to pay the fines because we donated our $500 to the "Saint Francis" charity, so all that money was ours. So we gave $5000 more to "Saint Francis" and split up the rest of it among ourselves. We each got $10,000, and we all were entering college in the fall.
When we get together now, we all wonder how we would have managed to enter college that fall without that windfall. Sometimes we get silly and say things like, we should do that again, I got car payments that could use it, or who knew we could sell our skills so cheap and then reap a big payout like that?
It all seems surreal now, but the play, "Raymond and Julie: A Funny Tale with a Happy Ending," will always be my favorite. I have a worn-out copy that I take out from time to time when I need a smile or two. I thus have no doubt about what sealed my interest in the literary arts. Our play had included rich dialog, poems, songs, jokes, biography, and even a play within a play.
Thank you to those who have stayed with me to this point. I will now go off to play in the world of literary arts, and wherever you go off to, I wish you as much fun as I will have in mine.
aka Graveyard Whistler
Some good whistlin' goin' on!! Enjoy
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© 2019 Linda Sue Grimes