The Gravity of Stars
Or: How to crash without even trying
Scene - Curb side in the Valley, LA, @ night, two boys are sitting up the street (downhill) from their new car, outside their decrepit
ranch, smoking cigarettes in silence.
M– What are we gonna do bout this car?
N– Bought the owners guide for the ‘85 Prism - Corolla - Nova at the NAPA, if were out every morning, our hearts into, if we get Rich’s
help, we can get it running again
M– Sure as hell hope so… we could have spent that on rent, know what I’m saying?
N– Yeah I know what you’re sayin, and a couple hundred is a lot less than five
M- As if it was your eight
N- Yeah, it was
M- (of handed) or dad’s
N- As if you didn’t have it, if you hadn’t dropped so much on that girl
M- you don’t know anything bout that
N- Sure I do, it’s all you ever talked about for three months straight, “oh she’s busy, school, work, a play, she wants to hang-out but…”
M- It wasn’t like that!
N- Like hell it wasn’t!
M- Cause you had to take care of your parents, cause you had responsibilities, security guard at Six Flags right?
N- Yeah, and I saved every cent till I got here
M- Cause you had me to pick up the diner tabs, I can’t help it if the fucking government plugged up the gravy train after graduation.
N- Expensive restaurants, vinyl, espresso, that’s where the gravy train made its stops
M- (starting to cry) Shut the fuck up, Mercer, rent, groceries, that’s where it went, as if somehow being the roommate to a widowers son
means you’re owed something
N- Nothing but equality
M- Mommy Daddy, it so much harder than I thought it’d be, barista doesn’t tip the way I thought it would, can you wire me another care
N- Fuck this!
M- (bawling) yeah, fuck you!
Nick stands up and walks back inside.
M- This isn’t how it was supposed to happen, this isn’t how it was supposed to be. What’s the weather if all you do is unbox trinkets
sunup sundown? Why does half the world want to live here if it’s all the same all over?
Scene - Inside, living room w/kitchen area, separated by an island. Michael enters from front door, Nick is standing center stage.
M- Give me the keys!
N- No, it's my car
M- Like hell it is
N- Next week, after I cash my check I’ll gladly give you back the two hundred
M- Another collect call home, bet you still have at least an eighth, Western Unions for zips and cars?
N- Yeah (defensively)
M- You know who Summer asked Brit about first? you know that? Just second string, just a substitute, you can run away cross the country
but you can’t get away from yourself Nick, you are a natural born stand in.
N- Like hell I am!
M- Ask her, she’ll be home any minuet. Give me the keys.
R- (Enters Stage Right from the kitchen) Other people live here, you two remember that don’t you?
M- Rich who’s car is that outside?
R- Oh, you mean the piece of shit that doesn’t run? The one I told Prick not to buy?
R- I don’t know, I don’t care. What does it matter, it only starts on hills in neutral, who the hell would want to own it?
N- My name is on the title; It’s not registered or insured, I am the only one driving it.
M- Four hundred, you owe me four hundred, I gave another two so you’d get insurance
N- Yeah, cause that’s what it costs, cause hell that’s even HALF of what it costs!
M- Four hundred, next week
R- Summer is pulling in
N- I am famished, thank god
S- Hey honey (to Nick) I brought home some Del Taco… Hey Rich (After only glancing in Michael’s direction on entering she otherwise
ignores his presence)
(Protracted silence, Nick rummages)
N- Oh, what happened to In and Out?
S- It was out of the way, I was tired when I got off, would you rather I gave Rich your meal?
(Summer gives an extra taco to Rich)
S- Well than shall we eat in our room?
M- (yelling after) Yeah go eat in front of your TV, and crank up the AC while you’re at it, please. It’s on me, really.
R- Man just stop
M- She is the one who wanted to split the utilities, electric is in my name, everyday that bitch leaves her unit on ten, the only one in
this shit hole, with the door locked. She pays cable, I don’t even watch it…
R- Man I told weeks ago, never mind bummer and prick.
M- I don’t think I’ll make it till the lease runs out
R- Your name isn’t on it
M- Like I can forget, I am going out.
(Tim slams the door behind him as he leaves)
R- Inconsiderate, kids so damn loud.
Scene – Front yard, noon next day, Rich is sitting in one of many plastic lawn chairs
(Michael walks onto stage from audience)
M- You're all smiles
R- Lets just say its been a product day-where'd you been
M- Wandered some
M- No man it wasn't on my mind... (sits) oh, you mean...
R- Yeah man
M- I haven't had that punched in the nose feeling in awhile, anybody home?
R- Oh Shitt, you don't know, you wandered, Prick wreckeda against pole, I heard it from my room, just there past the intersection
M- He's in there, right now?
(Nick walks out, unlit cigarette already in his mouth, his eyes are almost crossed, fixed on the smoke in his lips)
N- I don't owe you anything
(he fails several times before lighting it, he is smiling, as he does this Rich stands up and begins stacking the plastic lawn chairs onto
one another until only Michael's remains.)
M- You mean, you don't owe me four hundred dollars
N- You can be so sensible sometimes
M- Listen you cocky little freak what happen to next week
N- We had a car last night, now its impounded or in a junkyard, I really don't know.
M- Okay, I didn't do it!
N- We went in on it together, we lost it together
M- Everthing I"VE ever lost was on my own
N- Then think of it as a growing experience
R- I'm inside (Rich Exits)
N- So what did we learn?
M- ...I am buying a plane ticket tomorrow, I am done - Los Angeles can keep my dreams
N- What do you mean you’re leaving, we got into this together
M- and I am leaving alone
N- You can't
M- Why, why can't I, this isn't a team effort, you have Summer and I sure as hell don't need you
N- I Need an audience
M- Don't we all
Scene - Inside the tube of an Airplane, Michael is somewhere in the first row in front of the audience, many extras sit around him.
Stewardess- We will be preparing to land at Atlanta International momentarily, if you'd please gather your belongings and clear off your
tray table placing it in the upright position, that would be wonderful, if you rented earphones for the Direct TV service or XM radio
please place them back in their bag, they will be collected shortly. Thank you for choosing to flying with us.
M- (Talking to a sleeping old man next to him) Gone for a year, the only two people meeting me are my mother and a brother-in-law I’ve
never met. I haven't a clue as what to do with myself, I am such a waste, long enough cheap thrills get expensive, you’re no spring
chicken, you must know what I mean?
M- You turned off your hearing aid, again? Fine, somethings gotta be on TV. I can't be trusted to think alone.
(Fasten Seatbelt tone)
M- My headphones!
(Incoherent mumbling and humming [as he channel surfs facing the audience])
(D)Anchor- And this bulletin just in, a flight bound for Atlanta is currently stuck in a holding pattern above the city as the landing
gear appears to have jammed.
Std- Excuse me sir but I’ll be collecting the/
M- These are mine
(D)An- …is that nothing essentially can be done at this point, we have now, with us Aeronautical Engineer…
Std- Sir I don't mean to sound presumptuous but they look/
M- Pretty standard
(D)E-… refueling would just be delaying the inevitable, the plane has to come down eventually, now this model, like many others was
M- Don’t you have more important things to do!
(Stewardess walks off in a huff)
(D)E-… and glide into what we call a controlled crash landing
M- (Much louder then intended) What the fuck is a controlled crash!?
(The person behind him kicks the back of his seat)
An- If you are just joining us we are following the drama of Transcontinental flight 939 to Atlanta as…
M- Holy shit, holy shit
(Seat is kicked repeatedly)
(D)P- Folks, we seem to be having critical technical difficulties with our landing gear, shortly we will be releasing all remaining fuel
reserves, and then perform an emergency landing at our final (clears throat) destination.
(Oxygen Bags Drop)
(off stage, behind audience)Std- Now as we said on take off please secure your own mask before help children or the handicapped, this is
merely a safety precaution, there is no need for alarm, after landing please depart via your assigned emergency exit, as we will not be
taxiing to a terminal.
M- Hey wake up (nudging old man), I am not going to do this for you, wake up.
O- what's the idea, I told you... what's this... (to Oxygen bag)
M- It's a safty precaution, IT'S. A. SAFETY. PRECAUTION.
O- I can hear you
M- They are telling us to put them on
O- Well I'm not
M- You have to, they are professionals, they know
(Extras are silently fixing their masks)
O- I'm in no panic, I've lived long enough to know not to get hysterical about things which I have no control
M- I am glad you're at peace
(Michael puts on mask, the set goes black save a strobe light flickering at a relatively low tempo, extras flail)
M- (in the hectic darkness) There was never anything that I couldn't have fixed, everyday, everyday I had a choice to decide who I was,
what I was, and I just made the same mistakes every time, toothless cog I kept on slipping, I guess its fair I be defined by an accident.
stagnation invites death, all I've ever done was spin in circles, even when I was going some place, I was always here, on the brink... one
more day, I could have gotten up with the sun, I would have done push ups first thing, I'd been sober, restraint, discipline. I was alive.
(Lights come back up, extras are stone faced, Michael is sitting still holding himself he slowly lifts his head up, he smiles weakly,