Author Archives: ryanfhughes

December 16 2012 – A Very Nigel and Zoë Xmas

NOTE: This was written a few years ago by myself and Human Loser Theatre co-founder Morgan Smith for Edmonton a capella group Apocalypse Kow‘s annual Xmas fundraising cabaret. It was performed by Morgan and Kow’s Devin Bruce. It was a big hit and has been done a couple of times since then. This is about as cutesy as I get, folks.

A Very Nigel and Zoë Xmas

by Ryan F. Hughes and Morgan Smith

Scene 1

ZOE THE CAT and NIGEL THE DOG. ZOE is cool, focused. NIGEL is panting, eager and not too bright. ZOE very calmly and deliberately cleans herself as NIGEL stares and pants, much to ZOE’s annoyance.

NIGEL
Zoe?

ZOE
Wait.

NIGEL
Zoe!

ZOE
Wait!

NIGEL
Zoe!

ZOE
Nigel, will you WAIT?!

She hisses at him. He whines uncertainly. Beat.

NIGEL
Do you want me to wait and be quiet?

She just decides not to answer.

Cause I can be quiet.
I’m good at it.
Everyone says so.
I’m all about silence.
I’m a quiet boy.
They come up to me, the big ones, they come up to me and say “who’s a quiet boy”, and I’m like, “Who?!” And they ask me “Is it you? Is it you?” And I’m all “IS IT??? WELL? IS IT ME??? TELL ME, IS IT ME!”
Turns out: It is!

ZOE is just glaring.

NIGEL
Oh.

Barely-maintained silence as ZOE finishes her cleaning.

ZOE
Alright, there. Now to the business at hand. I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve summoned you here.

NIGEL
Nope.

ZOE stares.

Wanna play?

ZOE
No I do NOT want to play.

NIGEL
Okay!

Starts to leave.

ZOE
No wait you stupid oaf!

NIGEL
Okay!

ZOE
I’m sure you know what tonight is.

NIGEL
Is it when I sleep and you knock things over?

ZOE (Stares at him.)
Tonight is the night when the RED INTRUDER comes.

NIGEL (At first looking shocked, but then excitedly starts spinning around in a circle.)
OBOYOBOYOBOY—

ZOE
What are you doing?

NIGEL
Someone’s coming over!!! I have to be ready!!!

Continues spinning around in a circle

OBOYOBOYOBOY—

ZOE
Silence you insipid fool! This is no ordinary houseguest you can sniff and jump upon! This is the RED INTRUDER. The one who comes every year. Who invades our territory and has the gall to leave brandishments of his insult!

NIGEL
Ohhhhhh… HIM. I’ve never smelled him!

ZOE
That is because the fiend has no scent. His paws leave no trace and make no sound.

NIGEL
“Brandishments” isn’t a word.

Beat.

ZOE (Pressing on.)
He enters while the big ones sleep laden with his baubles and gewgaws. He lays them about the house as if to say “Look! I was here! While you were sleeping and vulnerable!” He is like a ghost. Were he not my enemy I should think that the Red Intruder and I would be fast friends…

ZOE looks at NIGEL.

He is coming tonight. And we must be ready.

NIGEL
Ready for what?

ZOE
Why, to stop him of course! Does the wild thing in you not cry out at this insult?

NIGEL
Nope!

ZOE
What if… The small fluffy thing?

NIGEL pricks up.

From across the street?

NIGEL starts growling.

What if he came in here—right up to your sleeping place—

NIGEL
Not my bed!

ZOE
…lifted his leg and—

NIGEL
COCOOOOOOOOOA!!!!!

ZOE
Exactly! THAT is what the Red Intruder does every time he comes here!

NIGEL
What can we do to stop him?

ZOE
Good. You’re ready to hear my plan. First: This is what the culprit looks like: Like all big ones, he walks on twos. Red and white fur. A strange, otherworldly call, this one has:

Demonstrates Santa’s iconic “Ho ho ho”, but with her own sinister spin.

NIGEL
He sounds scary!

ZOE
He’s a corpulent one, according to my research. With a wretched, distended abdomen, possibly containing a gelatinous substance.

NIGEL
Does it spill out of him and burn through the floor!?

ZOE
…Possibly.

NIGEL starts to whine.

ZOE
Nigel! Now is the time for courage! My plan is masterful, but it is so much fruitless hurlyburly without your steadfast heart…and your powerful jaws! Do you understand?

NIGEL (Calmed)
Yeah…

ZOE
Excellent. Who is a brave boy, Nigel?

NIGEL (Immediate improvement!)
IS IT ME?

ZOE
Oh, yes, Nigel. It is most definitely you.

NIGEL
I thought it was!

ZOE
Now. The Red Intruder will enter from there. So I-

NIGEL
Nuh-uh.

ZOE
Pardon?

NIGEL
That’s the fireplace.

ZOE
Yes?

NIGEL
Nothing enters from a fireplace.

ZOE
This is his modus operandi, I’ve studied the casefile. The Intruder enters from-

NIGEL
It’s too small! It’s too small for a big one! It was too small for you!

ZOE
Nevertheless-

NIGEL
Remember when you got stuck up there?

ZOE
That’s quite enough-

NIGEL
And you were crying and your butt was sticking out-?

ZOE hisses to get the room back. NIGEL falls obediently silent.

ZOE
Yes, well…perhaps the vile creature has no endoskeleton. Perhaps he is composed entirely of this supple, but remarkably strong abdominal gelatin. Like an octopus. Or a delicious cuttlefish. Perhaps he squeezes quite easily down the chimney, stretching along the whole length of that small pipe, oozing into the room like…malevolent butterscotch…And reconstituting…The dark deed already underway…

NIGEL
…butterscotch…

ZOE
And this is where we must act. I will be stationed on the high bookshelf. You in the dark corner of the room. Both crouching. At the ready.

NIGEL (Getting into it.)
Yeeeaahhhh….

ZOE
Now his girth may be a significant advantage, so we must incapacitate him quickly. As he resumes his form, before he can survey the room, I shall POUNCE! Giving a disorienting cry, I will catch the top of the shiny tree! My momentum will topple it and he will be knocked to the floor, pinned underneath! I will land gracefully, on my feet, as you close in from the dark corner, and should the creature’s eyes prove to be within my reach, well—

NIGEL
So I close in?

ZOE
Yes. And Nigel, the danger is very real, so we must make short work of him. Once you have reached him you must take firm hold of his meats.

NIGEL
But which meats?

ZOE
It depends how he lands. Whatever meats present themselves. Preferably neck.

NIGEL
I can do that.

ZOE
And Nigel. This is not the same kind of biting you use when frolicking with the big ones’ pups. This time…the meats must be breeched.

NIGEL
I’m not supposed to do that!

ZOE
This is a matter of security Nigel.

NIGEL
I did that once, and that red stuff came out, and I got in so much trouble!

ZOE
But you’ve always wanted to taste it again, haven’t you Nigel?

NIGEL stares at the floor, ashamed.

It’s okay, Nigel, you can tell me. It’s who you really are…

NIGEL (Quietly, desperately, to himself.)
Who’s a good boy, who’s a good boy, who’s a good boy.

ZOE
Sssssshhhh… now we wait. When we hear the monster on the roof, we get into position.

They wait a moment.

NIGEL
How long?

ZOE
Sssshhh…the big ones have been asleep a while now. Any minute.

NIGEL
That’s a long time.

ZOE
It doesn’t matter Nigel. It will not seem long. Because we are blessed with a mission. An important mission. So we wait, and we exercise extreme vigilance. That is how we will defeat this…jolly, gelatinous, transgressing THING from the roof. Vigilance.

NIGEL
Yeah.

ZOE
Vigilance.

NIGEL
Yeah, vigilance!

ZOE
Vigilance…

Suddenly they both fall fast asleep.

Scene 2

NIGEL is awake. He is playing with a dog toy of some sort—a rope? He is making excited grring noises. ZOE wakes; gracefully at first, but then she starts and realizes what has happened.

ZOE
What! How! When!

NIGEL
Good morning Zoe!

Continues playing.

ZOE
What happened!

NIGEL
OH! I know!

Pause. He continues playing.

ZOE
Nigelllll…

NIGEL
We fell asleep and the Red One came while we were sleeping and then he left again. Look!

Holds out his toy.

Brandishments!

Continues playing.

ZOE
I can’t believe it.

NIGEL
I can! I’m playing with mine! You wanna watch?

ZOE
BE QUIET you ignoramus! I’m trying to think! Were you sleeping too?

NIGEL
Yes! I dreamt that I was in the car—no wait—I was in the yard—no I was in the park and I was CHASING a… squirrel! No a bunny! No YOU!

ZOE
ENOUGH!

She tries to grab his toy away from him. They stare at each other and NIGEL growls lowly. They play tug of war for a brief moment and then ZOE gives up and NIGEL once again is pleased and panting.

NIGEL
That was fun! Much better than my dream!

ZOE
You traitor! Look at us! Failures! Disgraces to our species!

She watches him pant for a moment.

Well…MY species… I can’t believe we…

NIGEL
Hey Zoe! Don’t feel bad! He left a brandishment for you too!

ZOE
What?

NIGEL
On your bed!

ZOE
On my… the IMPUDENCE! The ARROGANCE! The—

She picks up the toy. Stares at it. Holds it to her. Carresses it.

NIGEL
It’s got that stuff you like in it! The stinky stuff!

ZOE
SHHH!

Whispers.

I can’t hear the catnip. Can I, sweetling?

NIGEL watches her whisper unintelligibly to the toy for a long moment and then looks away.

NIGEL
Well… I think we learned an important lesson tonight.

ZOE is rubbing the toy all over her face. She sinks to the floor.

Well… we probably did.

Loooong pause while ZOE writhes.

I’m a DOG!

Blackout.

Creative Commons License
This work by Ryan F. Hughes and Morgan Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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Sweet Jesus

Sweet Jesus did I ever let this fall by the wayside. Sorry guys! illness and life and then inertia and laziness conspired to keep me out of here the last couple of months. I may have to repurpose what this space is for now, but I was enjoying cranking something out regularly, so I don’t imagine that aspect of it will change.

October 10 2012 – Bad Neighbour

Bad Neighbour

KYLE (30s) and RON (50s) outside an apartment building. KYLE is dressed for cycling. RON is sitting on the building stoop in some weird smoking jacket thing. KYLE stares incredulously at his locked bike which has obviously been fucked with, chain off the gears, wrapped around the pedals, something like that.

KYLE
The fuck!

RON
Ooh, language!

KYLE
What? Oh. Hey.

RON
Ron. Name’s Ron.

KYLE
Right.

RON
Kyle. Three-oh-six.

KYLE
Yeah.

KYLE kneels and starts unwinding the chain, setting things to rights. Over the course of the scene, his hands get filthy.

Look at this shit.

RON (Wincing)
Oooh, you know-

KYLE
Sorry I’m just upset, I’m late for work now.

RON
Yeeeah, that’s unfortunate that had to happen. I’m in one-o-three.

KYLE (Not much interest)
Yeah?

RON
Just inside the door here.

KYLE
Yeah, you’re always out on the stoop here.

RON
That’s right.

KYLE (Off a problem with the bike)
Aw man.

RON
I live with my wife. Who you’ve seen a number of times.

KYLE
Hey you didn’t see them do this, did you?

RON
“Them”.

KYLE
Whoever did this. Did you see who it was?

RON
Well, now, Kyle, I’m not entirely sure I remember.

Beat.

KYLE
Uh…huh…

RON
Hard to say.

KYLE
It isn’t really. You did or you didn’t.

RON
It was probably just one of those random senseless acts of vandalism. You know, like you get in a city. Utterly devoid of karmic intent.

KYLE
Right. Probably.

RON
Although…

Pause.

KYLE
“Although”?

RON
If the person who did this was someone who knows you – no way of knowing that obviously – do you think you might be able to guess at why this may have happened?

Beat

To you, specifically?

Pause.

KYLE
I have work, so…get to it.

RON
Several young women in and out of here over the last year or so, Kyle. Four or five.

KYLE
You mean like…my exes?

RON
“Exes”! Yes I suppose things have slowed down a little in that department lately. Still. Pretty rapid succession there.

KYLE
Been a busy year.

RON
That might be your problem.

KYLE
Naw, that’s not their…I mean they were sweet, I didn’t…act the best but they’d never-

RON
But someone who was looking out for their interests.

Beat.

Was in the position to observe a disturbing pattern, and become concerned.

KYLE
Concerned.

RON
About a bad neighbor.

Pause.

How long have you lived here, Kyle?

KYLE
I…two years?

RON
How many times have you said hello to my wife? Or to me? I’m always right here when you come out for work. How many times, to you figure, in two years?

KYLE
Oh, listen, I’m sorry if-

RON
None. Is how many. None times. In two years.

KYLE
I’m just not a…talk-about-the-weather kinda-

RON
I’m not concerned with what you are. I’m not asking you on a date here. You too good to exchange a little unnecessary information? The function of that sort of conversation isn’t to exchange information. It’s a re-affirmation of an unspoken social contract. And to those of us who are perceptive enough to be aware of it, the non-acknowledgement of that contract is profoundly disturbing.

KYLE
Look, I’m just an introvert, okay? I’m just not a talker. I’m just quiet, I’m just not a social person.

RON
All people are social.

Pause.

How do you think it makes me feel, or my wife, to just have some twenty year old piece of shit blow by us like we were potted plants?

KYLE
I’m thirty-three.

RON
You’re how old I say you are. You’re generic. You’re a tenant. In a building full of neighbours.

KYLE
I’m late for work.

RON (Instantly pleasant again)
Oh, got it fixed there? That didn’t take so long, did it?

Pause.

I’m glad we happened to be able to have this little talk. I hope you’ll think about some of the things we discussed.

Pause.

KYLE
It’ll be a nice day for a ride? Because…the sun.

Pause.

I feel…a slight breeze.

RON (Wide smile)
You’ll get the hang of it.

Stands, puts arms out, ready for a hug

Now. You have a good day.

Long pause. RON holds the pose.

Slowly, excruciatingly reluctantly, Kyle very slowly and awkwardly comes to RON and hugs him. RON holds on for long after KYLE is don and ready to back off. Finally, RON releases him.

Now. Neighbour. You have a good day at your job.

KYLE stunned, perhaps a bit traumatized, climbs on his bike, and rides away. RON waves at him as he cycles off.

G’bye! G’bye!

As he follows KYLE’s progress, all the while waving, he turns upstage, and we see two giant greasy handprints on the back of his smoking jacket, where KYLE hugged him.

Creative Commons License
This work by Ryan F. Hughes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

October 09 2012 – The Ease With Which

The Ease With Which

A
Don’t do that.

B
Oh what. What now.

A
That phrase.

B
What phrase? Which phrase? I used a lot of phrases back there.

A
The “play” one.

B
Say it.

A
No. Fuck you.

B
HARD? Play HARD?

A
Ugh.

B
What’s wrong with that one.

A
It sounds like meeting speak.

B
That WAS a meeting, buddy.

A
You sound like a date rapist. At a date rapist meeting.

B
I didn’t even TOUCH her! We talked! She was cute! Not my thing.

A
Actioning date rape synergy.

B
Look don’t take your discomfort with women out on my ease. The Ease With Which.

A
I’m not uncomfortable.

B
Then stop pulling on your shirt.

A
I’m not uncomfortable with women.

B
And fuck you anyway.

A
It’s just social situations that make me uncomfortable.

B
Fuck you for accusing me of…rape-y-ness because I know how to talk to a woman without making everyone in earshot feel sad. You know?

A
“Rape-y-ness”?

B
I’m very respectful. I LIKE women. I like them MORE than men. Hanging out with a woman is usually delightful, I love making them laugh, making them feel beautiful. Every time I hang out with a guy it’s like a slap in the face with a cold wet dick, man. That’s on you. You poop the party, pal, not me, I am consummately GAME. Yeah I try and sleep with them. Have you SEEN them? Who wouldn’t. But she’s not interested, I back the fuck off, because I’m a gentleman. I do not press the issue. I take special care to make her feel like I respect her choice and don’t think any less of her. And you know what man I don’t. I don’t sit there seething and making up stories about what’s wrong with her, for not feeling like she owed me the courtesy of whatever kind of respect I’ve decided I deserve, sound familiar? Hey?

A
What?

B
That sound familiar? That thought pattern?

A
No…

B
Yeah it does.

Beat.

She wasn’t interested. Shitty for me. Moving on. You can go home or whatever. I came here to be delighted. Watch and learn or fuck off. You don’t get to be my judgy little rain cloud.

Starts to exit, leaving A. Comes back.

And women ARE a social situation buddy. Understanding them doesn’t exist outside of having to stand in front of them in your own skin and investigate the phenomenon with only the tools you have. If the phenomenon terrifies you, if you don’t feel equal to it, you probably need to upgrade your tools.

A doesn’t know what to say.

Yeah. Bet you didn’t think this was all philosophical and shit.

Leaves.

Creative Commons License
This work by Ryan F. Hughes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Thwarted By the Human Body!

Well I seem to have fallen behind!

The 4th, I had a long evening, and I was going to write two on the 5th and backfill.

THEN I got sick. Which normally wouldn’t be a problem, just a little cold, except, sometimes when I get headcolds, my inner ear gets inflamed and I get VERTIGO.

If you’ve never had vertigo, don’t start now. Once you get over the absolute panic of the world suddenly lurching THIS WAY for 30 seconds or so, it’s mostly manageable. If you have a few betahistine pills lying around to quell the nausea, and reduce the spin, so be it. But it’s actually exhausting keeping your head still and moving as slowly as possible, and being conscious of it the whole time, and bracing for the sickening LURCH every time you think you may have moved too quickly. And it makes things that involve a lot of repetitive head movements or changes in direction exceedingly difficult. I’m looking at you, laundry, and dishes aaand WRITING! The laundry and dishes I had to do, but I decided to be kind to myself and give myself a day or two on the writing, which stretched into three days because, though the spins had stopped by yesterday, I still had a general lightheadedness and hadn’t been sleeping well the past couple of days, etc.

So NOW I am in arrears for 4 whole days worth of scenes, and I had this big plan that I’d write two a day for the next four days and back date those entries and GET BACK ON TRACK, but the next week is looking a bit busy with my birthday, and various things, so that might be hard and THAT DOESN’T MATTER YOU FIND THE TIME, YOU SLACKED, YOU GET BACK ON TRACK, and then I started stressing about it, and then the world lurched THIS WAY for half a second.

Nothing huge, just a little tiny aftershock, and I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t psychsomatic, but it stopped the guilt diatribe for a second, and I realized: YES I plan to stick with this and have actually MISSED writing these scenes over the past few days. And YES I need to get back on track pretty quick here, but you know what? It’s a REALLY LONG TRACK. I have 11 months to sort this shit out. I am not going to take that long, but I don’t have to fill the holes immediately. I’ll just continue on from today, and as I have time to toss off an extra scene, maybe this week, maybe next, I’ll put it back here and slap one of the missing dates on it. That’s not cheating. It’s dealing with unforeseen circumstances. Which is something writers have to do.

I can look at it as having to write something every single day OR ELSE I’M A FAILURE if I want. But that seems like a pretty good way to paralyze myself. I think normally I’m up for that task, but when I’m not, I can look at it as having to write 365 pieces within the space of a year. Same amount of work, same timeline, just a little shuffling of the internal mechanism from time to time as needed. I think that’s fair, and I can do that.

OR ELSE I’M A FAILURE!

October 03 2012 – Complaints and Repairs

Complaints and Repairs

MAN and WOMAN sit under a beautiful tree in a nice park. MAN is holding a wristwatch out in his hand. They both look at it, she admiringly, he less so.

WOMAN
Really nice!

MAN
Mm.

WOMAN
Fancy!

Lucky they couldn’t fix the other one!

‘Cause this seems like an upgrade!

MAN
Took long enough.

WOMAN
Worth the wait, right?

You were obviously excited about getting this watch.

Wouldn’t shut up about it, some days!

MAN
About getting the other one fixed.

WOMAN
Well, I think it’s lovely. I think it’s better.

MAN shrugs.

Come on it’s obviously better. Scientifically.

MAN
I put it on last night and I didn’t feel any different.

This morning the streetcar was still crowded.

Phone was still ringing at work, people on the other end are still idiots.

I waited so long for this watch to be fixed.

My boss is still hopeless.

Nothing is different.

Pause.

WOMAN
Yeah, I hear that’s a real defect with this brand.

MAN
You still don’t love me.

Pause.

My foot still hurts.

WOMAN
I do so love you!

MAN
But not really.

WOMAN (Smiling, smiling)
I put up with this horseshit, don’t I?

MAN (Off his last line)
Not in the way I need.

Not in a way that counts.

Pause. She grows silent.

He puts the watch to his ear.

Can’t even hear it ticking.

Silence. He sighs, puts watch on his wrist.

Well, at least I know what time it is, I guess.

Silence.

WOMAN
I need a new bike.

Creative Commons License
This work by Ryan F. Hughes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.