Characters

Booth: Miles’ step-brother. A dreamer. Stuck.

Miles: Booth’s step-brother. An idealistic rescuer.

Cass: A lounge singer. Sexy and angry. Fed up with it all.

Lourdes: A sculptor. Tough and menacing. Dangerous.

Scene

An abandoned block in New York.

Time

Summer, nighttime, present.

SCENE 1

LIGHTS UP on an abandoned block in New York. Light from a neon sign, surrounding shadows, twilight above. BOOTH sits at a café table outside the entrance to a dive bar. There are five empty glasses before him. He looks grungy, despite an expensive, tight-fitting, blue leather glove on his right hand.

FOOTFALLS. MILES ENTERS, sweaty and out of breath. He carries an overnight bag. A small, blue ribbon is tied to the handle.

MILES: Booth!

BOOTH: You found me.

MILES: It wasn’t easy. This block? So short. And narrow. It’s not on the google maps.

BOOTH: Funny, that.

MILES: (looks at his phone.) No reception here?

BOOTH: Nary a wavelength, not a flash.

LIGHTNING FLASHES in the sky.

MILES: (looks up.) That sky…  So ominous… Again.

BOOTH: (sings: )It’s like thunder…  Lightning… The way you love is frightening…”

MILES: God, I’m tired.

BOOTH: No wheels?

MILES: I walked. From the subway. Around and around, ‘til I doubled back.

BOOTH: No, your bag.

MILES: You don’t like it?

BOOTH: Most people travel with bags on wheels.

MILES: Most people have shit taste.

BOOTH: Most people have no money. Buy me a drink?

FRANTIC VOICES argue within the bar.

MILES: This place is a dive. (wipes sweat from his brow.) It’s hot.

BOOTH: No, dives are passé.

MILES: Funny.

BOOTH: Yeah funny, that.

MILES: Are you drunk?

BOOTH: Am I acting drunk?

MILES: Not really. You never do. (sees the empty glasses.) How many have you had?

BOOTH: It’s happy hour from three to eight.

MILES: (looks at his expensive watch.) It’s almost nine.

BOOTH: Who wears a watch anymore? (counts the glasses.) Three to four… Four to five… Five to six… Six to seven… Seven to eight.

MILES: Five?

BOOTH: Manhattans.

A HELICOPTER thrums and drones in the distance.

MILES: I could drink five in six hours and not act drunk.

BOOTH: You’re on.

MILES: I don’t have six hours.

BOOTH: And I don’t have the money.

MILES: How did you pay for those?

BOOTH: A hustle here, a hustle there.

SAD MUSIC drifts in from an alley offstage.

MILES: Lou Reed…  I love that song.

BOOTH: You don’t comment on the music.

MILES: I just did.

BOOTH: You’re not supposed to.

MILES: Well I did.

BOOTH: You fucked it up, we have to start over now.

MILES: Again?

BOOTH: Get it right, Miles.

MILES EXITS.  A long SILENCE. FOOTFALLS. MILES ENTERS, breathless, sweaty, carrying his bag.

MILES: Booth!

BOOTH: You found me.

MILES: It wasn’t easy. This block? It’s so short. And narrow. And not on the google maps.

BOOTH: Funny, that.

MILES: (looks at his phone.) No reception here?

BOOTH: Nary a wavelength, not a flash.

LIGHTNING FLASHES in the sky.

MILES: (looks up.) That sky…

BOOTH: No wheels?

MILES: I walked. From the subway.

BOOTH: No, your bag.

MILES: You don’t like it?

FRANTIC VOICES argue within the bar.

MILES: I’m not buying you a drink.

BOOTH: No. No. That’s not how it goes.

MILES: Yes it is.

BOOTH: No, no, no! I say, “buy me a drink?” You can’t say, “I’m not buying you a drink.

MILES: Same difference.

BOOTH: It’s different.

MILES: Everything’s different eventually, that’s why we try to make it the same.

BOOTH: Which is why you have to get it right.

MILES: All I know is I’m not starting over.

BOOTH: It’s chaos if we don’t.

MILES: It’s chaos if you stay here.  Come on, Booth. Let’s go.

BOOTH: There’s nowhere to go.

MILES: Come home.

BOOTH: Fuck you and fuck home.  And while you’re at it, fuck Dad.

Booth holds up his blue-gloved right hand and flips his middle finger.

MILES: Dad is concerned.

BOOTH: And you’re not?

MILES: Of course I am.

BOOTH: Of course.

MILES: I am.

BOOTH: You and Dad and your big, swinging dicks.

MILES: Dad wants you home.

BOOTH: Dad can go take a flying leap at a rolling doughnut.

MILES: You sound just like him.

BOOTH: Buy me a drink, snakelips.

MILES: I’ll buy you a plane ticket.

BOOTH: With Dad’s money.  How much is your allowance these days?

MILES: I’m not taking the bait.

BOOTH: Okay, don’t.

MILES: I won’t.

BOOTH: Fine then.

MILES: Fine.

THE HELICOPTER rumbles closer.

BOOTH: You and Dad and your big, swinging dicks.

MILES: That’s enough.

BOOTH: Not even. Not nearly. Not in a long time, Miles. Hasn’t it been a long, long time since I made you scream like a bitch?

MILES: Enough!

THE HELICOPTER zooms overhead. BRIGHT LIGHT floods the stage briefly, then vanishes. Booth is shaken, but tries to hide it. He flips his middle finger at the helicopter.

BOOTH: You like my blue glove?

MILES: Like I said most people have shit taste.

BOOTH: And shit fathers.

MILES: You’re high, aren’t you?

BOOTH: Am I acting high?

MILES: On what?

BOOTH: Very potent dreams, and this time they’re mine. (laughs.) I used to dream what I thought I should, I used to hope for more, but now I… It’s just me now, climbing up into… Purity.

Miles looks up at the city sky as THE HELICOPTER fades away.

MILES: What are they looking for?

BOOTH: Sleaze.

MILES: There’s sleaze right here, underfoot. Look down, right there, it’s stuck to our shoes.

BOOTH: No, they’re looking for sleaze on legs.

MILES: Don’t talk about my mother like that.

BOOTH: (laughs.) Ha! And I won’t talk about yours.

MILES: Let’s go, Booth.

BOOTH: I haven’t heard that in ages.f

MILES: “Let’s go?

BOOTH: The tone.

MILES: There’s no tone.

BOOTH: You like me.

MILES: Shut up.

BOOTH: But you do.

MILES: You’re amusing. So what?

BOOTH: So you don’t have to do this.  Betray someone else. Betray Dad. Take the money and run.

MILES: I simply asked you to come home.

BOOTH: I’m home.

MILES: At a table for one, before a dive, on a forgotten block, in the worst neighborhood in New York?

BOOTH: Everybody has to be somewhere.

MILES: And this is going nowhere.

BOOTH: You see that alley?

Miles crosses to the edge of the stage.

MILES: It’s a dead-end.

BOOTH: What do you see down there?

MILES: I see… (a beat.) What is that?…

BOOTH: It used to be fire escapes. A lot of them. Random, ripped-off, now they’re a staircase. My good friend Lourdes? The sculptor? He ripped them off abandoned buildings and reconstructed them as a spiral staircase.

MILES: How did he manage that?

BOOTH: With a truck, some big tools, and little help from his friends.

MILES: It’s… Wow… Strange…

BOOTH: Beautiful.

MILES: Frightening.

Miles crosses back to Booth, unsettled.

BOOTH: You felt it, didn’t you? The pull? Down the alley? That’s no dead-end, it’s a portal.

MILES: You’re not making sense.

BOOTH: I’m drunk.

MILES: You’re high.

BOOTH: Same difference.

MILES: There’s a big difference.

BOOTH: Like you would know?

MILES: What’s it like to be that high?

BOOTH: Sharp. Everything’s sharper… There’s clarity, all-clear, clearer than you know and… Clean. It’s a clean high. With angles, sharp angles that raise the bar… And there’s a steeper fall.

Despite himself, Miles is drawn back to the edge of the stage and peers down the alley.

BOOTH: Up, up, look up, Miles. Toward the top of the Helix? There’s a blue light.

MILES: So I see.

BOOTH: You know what’s up there? Hmph? A Lounge! It’s the coolest fucking cocktail lounge you ever, in your lame, help-me, help-me life, could ever hope to see! You hear that?

CASS SINGS, faintly, in the distance. It’s eerie and compelling.

MILES: She’s good.

BOOTH: It’s Cass. Careful how you listen, she’ll break your heart.

MILES: You’re high.

BOOTH: So is the Lounge. (laughs.) Lourdes and Cass run it, they own it, they live there, but you’ll never know, it’s too high a climb for a screamy bitch like you.

MILES: Shut up, Miles.

BOOTH: Never, nope, too late.

MILES: Miles?

BOOTH: (taunting, he sings: ) He saw the Helix, he heard the song. Oh Miles, poor Miles, he has no aplomb.

MILES: We need to control this!

BOOTH: Do you see me spinning out of control?

MILES: (calms himself.) We’re starting over.

BOOTH: Oh sure. Life is like that, isn’t it? Second chances, clean slate, forgiveness and redemption and all that love-saves-the-day bullshit?

MILES: It’s what I believe, and so do you.

BOOTH: I don’t.

MILES: Yes you do, you just know it yet.

MILES EXITS. BOOTH adjusts his blue glove, then rearranges the empty glasses.

A long SILENCE, then FOOTFALLS. MILES ENTERS, breathless, sweaty, carrying his bag.

MILES: Booth?

BOOTH: You found me.

MILES: It wasn’t easy. Ugh, his block.

BOOTH: No wheels?

MILES: I walked. From the subway.

BOOTH: No, your bag.

MILES: You don’t like it?

BOOTH: Most people travel with bags on wheels.

MILES: Most people have shit taste.

BOOTH: Most people have no money.

FRANTIC VOICES argue within the bar.

MILES: I’m not buying you a drink.

Booth holds up his right hand and flips his middle finger.

BOOTH: You like my glove?

MILES: Like I said most people have shit taste.

BOOTH: And sleaze for mothers.

MILES: You’re high.

BOOTH: Am I acting high?

MILES: On what?

BOOTH: Very potent dreams.

MILES: Let’s go, Booth.

BOOTH: I haven’t heard that in ages.

MILES: “Let’s go?

BOOTH: The tone.

MILES: There’s no tone.

CASS ENTERS from the alley. She eavesdrops from the edge of the stage. She’s well-dressed and sexy and looks like trouble. THUNDER and LIGHTNING. THE HELICOPTER thrums in the distance.

MILES: What are they looking for?

BOOTH: Sleaze.

MILES: There’s sleaze here, underfoot.

BOOTH: No, sleaze on legs.

CASS: I’ve been called worse.

CASS EMERGES from the edge of the stage.

BOOTH: She’s here!

CASS: I’m Cass. How do you do.

MILES: I’m Miles.

CASS: Hmph. Miles and miles. The brother?

BOOTH: Step-brother, same father.

MILES: Different mothers.

BOOTH: But our Dad says our mothers were just the same.

CASS: Well I’m no one’s mother, just sex on legs. Why complicate it?

BOOTH: Yep, let’s keep it simple.

CASS: Your mother left you?

MILES: It’s not your business.

CASS: And your mother left you?

BOOTH: What’s the difference?

CASS: I’ve left worse.

MILES: I’m quite sure you have.

CASS: I could be a mother, you know. I could sashay into that vacant lot over there, squat over the weeds and, ugh, drop a newborn, no problem. But I choose not to.

Cass perches on the edge of the table and crosses her legs.

CASS: Look at me. I move my leg. (she does.) That’s all it is. It captures your attention. Are you thinking of a leg? Or do you see… A woman? On legs? Or do you see… A mother? Whose mother, which mother? How different would I be as a your mother? (Booth.) Or your mother. (Miles.) You mother-fuckers would love to love me and leave me.

BOOTH: Hell yes.

CASS: One step-brother, then the other. So?

MILES: So we had different mothers.

BOOTH: So we don’t compete for love and affection.

CASS: But you love to push a body down.

MILES: And climb over.

BOOTH: Me?!

MILES: You.

CASS: I always know what you’re going to do.

MILES: You see the future?

CASS: No, I hear it. It twists and turns, like a snake, and I hear it coming.

MILES: No one can hear a snake coming.

CASS: I can. You know how? Hmph? Hey, I asked you a question! You know how I hear it all coming?

MILES: I… No. No, I don’t.

CASS: By letting snakes like Lourdes and Booth lick my ears clean (sings: ) Mother-fuckers… La-la-la… Punk step-brothers… La-di-da… I’ll never get away from the fuckers of mothers… La-la-la…

CASS EXITS to the alley, singing her improvised song.

MILES: Back up the spiral?

BOOTH: It used to be fire escapes. Random, ripped-off. My good friend Lourdes? He ripped fire escapes off abandoned buildings.

MILES: How did he manage that?

BOOTH: With a little help from his friends. And then he reconstructed it.

MILES: It’s… beautiful.

BOOTH: It’s the Helix.

LOURDES ENTERS from the alley. He eavesdrops from the edge of the stage. He’s well-dressed and sexy and looks dangerous. THUNDER and LIGHTNING. THE HELICOPTER rumbles closer.

MILES: We’re way off track.

BOOTH: We’re close enough.

MILES: We don’t say anything about a the Helix until later.

BOOTH: We can jump ahead and double back.

MILES: That woman threw me.

BOOTH: Her name is Cass.

MILES: She wants to come between us.

BOOTH: Only if we let her.

MILES: Let’s start over.

BOOTH: Again?!  Why do we keep doing this?

MILES: Because everyone deserves a second chance.

BOOTH: Second? You found me here, that was once. We started over, that was twice. Now we’re starting all over again, and this will be the third chance.  Or is it the fourth?

MILES: Today? I’ve lost count.

BOOTH: You lose count every day.

MILES EXITS to the street. BOOTH adjusts his blue glove, then rearranges the empty glasses. LOURDES EMERGES from the alley.

LOURDES: That’s him?

BOOTH: You’re here!

LOURDES: I’m here.

BOOTH: That’s him!

LOURDES: How’s it coming along?

BOOTH: Slowly.

LOURDES: He didn’t follow Cass.

BOOTH: He’s frightened.

LOURDES: If you had the balls, you’d be frightened too.

BOOTH: He’ll be back.

LOURDES: You make me laugh, Booth. Maybe this time I’ll let you live.

BOOTH: You will, because you like me.

LOURDES: You’re amusing. So?

BOOTH: So you don’t have to kill me.

LOURDES: I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.

BOOTH: Betray someone else. Betray Cass. Rape her. Sell her. Take her money and run, but come on Lourdes, please, don’t do this.

MILES ENTERS, breathless, hot and sweaty, carrying his bag.

MILES: Booth!

BOOTH: You found me.

MILES: Dad wants you home.

BOOTH: I’m home.

MILES: At a table for one, before a dive, on a forgotten block, in the worst neighborhood in New York?

BOOTH: Everybody has to be somewhere.

MILES: Hi, I’m Miles.

LOURDES: Where were you?

MILES: Around.

BOOTH: He prefers it back on the grid.

MILES: I do.

LOURDES: You didn’t get very far, did you?

MILES: There’s a malevolent, black dog down the block.

LOURDES: He’s my landlady’s pet.

MILES: He has red eyes and a red erection.

BOOTH: Ouch.

MILES: He won’t let me enter the subway. Why?

LOURDES: Because you can.

MILES: But I can’t.

LOURDES: Why does a dog lick his balls?

MILES: This is going nowhere. Booth? Let’s go.

LOURDES: Yo. Nipple. I asked you a question! Why does a dog lick his balls?

MILES: I… I don’t know.

LOURDES: Because he can. (laughs.)

BOOTH: Lick his balls…  (thinks.) I wish I could do that.

MILES: You’ll have to pet him first.

BOOTH: (laughs.) That’s funny!

LOURDES: Other people’s jokes aren’t funny!

THE HELICOPTER zooms overhead. BRIGHT LIGHT floods the stage briefly, then vanishes. Miles is shaken, but tries to hide it.

LOURDES: Go pet the malevolent dog.

MILES: No.

LOURDES: Okay, climb the Helix.

MILES: No!

LOURDES: One way or another, step-brother.

MILES: I want to go home.

LOURDES: Already? But you haven’t unpacked yet, have you? What’s in the bag? All your hopes and dreams? Or did you leave some at home? Yo! I asked you a question. What’s in the bag?

MILES: It’s mine.

LOURDES: Well that’s good to know. I’m so happy to hear you didn’t you steal it. I would hate to imagine you standing there at the luggage carousel, jet-lagged, tired, thirsty… Hot? Were you hot?… The carousel snakes around and around, and you’re standing there, wondering which bag holds the best stuff… Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if you just swapped your bag for… How about that one, the nice one, with the little blue ribbon on the handle?

MILES: It’s mine!

LOURDES: That ribbon means it’s special, don’t confuse it with the other bags from hell-on-wheels, plopped there, to tempt you, stranded there, on the carousel, snaking around and around, no one to grab them. But all those people standing there… Where are their bags? Is this a cosmic joke? The right carousel, but the wrong bags? Or is it the wrong people? Do you often find yourself with the wrong people?

MILES: I do.

LOURDES: So you got the right bag, you snaked around the grid, then you found your brother here. Hmph. Talk about wrong people.

MILES: You’re the wrong one.

LOURDES: Yeah, I’m no good at relationships.

BOOTH: Lourdes doesn’t like people.

LOURDES: And fucking with the right people from a distance sucks, so I keep trying to connect to the wrong ones.

Lourdes plants his nose on Miles’ neck and takes a deep whiff.

MILES: Stop that!

LOURDES: I’m direct, I need to connect, Cass says it’s the key to my charm.

BOOTH: It is!

LOURDES: You lie, like money. (sniffs the air.) I always could smell other people’s money. (sniffs again.) And all the lies surrounding.

MILES: Booth? Let’s go.

LOURDES: There’s nowhere to go.

MILES: We’re going home.

LOURDES: Home. Ha! (laughs.) When you climb the Helix, watch yourself, Nipple. I’d hate for you to lose a finger.

Booth holds up his blue glove and extends his middle finger.

MILES: He cut off your finger?!

LOURDES: It’s a ritual.

MILES: I don’t get it.

BOOTH: Oh you’ll get it .

LOURDES: Some come to love it.

BOOTH: It hurts like hell.

LOURDES: Then it fits.

BOOTH: Like a glove.

CASS ENTERS from the alley.

LOURDES: She’s here.

CASS: Everybody’s got to be somewhere.

LOURDES: Good point.

CASS: I do make a good point. I sing all about it, but you deaf mother fuckers couldn’t care less.

LOURDES: So? Sing anyhow.

CASS: I need you to run my lights.

LOURDES: But there’s no one up there to hear it.

BOOTH: Sing here.

CASS: Here? Hmph. I could, you know. I could strike a pose and, ahhhhh (hits a note), throw it down. But this lighting sucks.

LOURDES: It sounds the same either way.

CASS: It’s different, that’s why I try to sing it the same.

MILES: Everything’s different eventually.

CASS: Who are you?

MILES: I’m Booth’s brother.

CASS: And who the fuck is Booth?

MILES: He’s right there.

BOOTH: Everybody’s got to be somewhere.

CASS: Stop mocking me!

LOURDES: You upset Cass.

MILES: He didn’t do anything.

CASS: He never does, and it’s driving me insane.

MILES: Booth? Let’s go.

Cass perches on the edge of the table and crosses her legs.

CASS: Look at me. I move my leg. (she does.) That’s all it is. It captures your attention. Are you thinking of a leg? Or do you see —

MILES: — Let’s go. Now!

CASS: Why the fuck won’t you come up to the Lounge?!

LOURDES: He fears the Helix.

CASS: Aren’t you even the least bit tempted?

MILES: Some other time.

CASS: Now! Now is all there is!

LOURDES: Cass? Chill, you’ll scare him away.

CASS: Chill. Hmph. (a beat.) Now what?

LOURDES: Now we wait.

BOOTH: It’s all there is to do.

PAUSE.

CASS: I never asked for any of this, it was shoved upon me.

MILES: Let’s start over.

BOOTH: Okay, but let’s go backwards —

LOURDES: — Backwards?

BOOTH: We break it down into units —

MILES: — Units?

BOOTH: A unit is whenever one of us did something or said something, and then something changed.

MILES: (he mimics Cass.) Hmph.

BOOTH: But this time we do the units backwards.

MILES: But we don’t know where this is going.

CASS: I do.

MILES: No one knows the future.

LOURDES: Everyone dies.

MILES: Eventually, yes, but we’re stuck in the middle now, and we can’t go backwards from here.

PAUSE.

LOURDES: I can’t take this no more, we’re starting over.

MILES: You don’t get to start over.

LOURDES: Why the fuck not?

MILES: Because this is not your story.

CASS: And we’re stuck in your story.

LOURDES: Other people suck.

CASS: Hell yes.

LOURDES: And hell is other people.

PAUSE.

CASS: Why do we keep doing this?

LOURDES: It kills time.

CASS: No one ever does anything.

LOURDES: Do something.

Lourdes shoves Booth, he rocks back in his chair.

CASS: Can’t you be more fucking subtle?

LOURDES: I’m direct. You love that about me.

CASS: I hate that about you.

LOURDES: You never said that before.

CASS: A thousand times, over and over!

LOURDES: Yo, snakelips. Do something!

Lourdes shoves Booth again, he nearly falls out of his chair.

MILES: Leave him alone!

LOURDES: You said you’d get him upstairs.

CASS: He’ll never get him up there, he never leaves that table.

BOOTH: Because I have aplomb.

MILES: You’re stuck.

LOURDES: Up to your neck.

Lourdes plants his nose on Miles’ neck and takes a deep whiff.

MILES: Stop that!

LOURDES: I’m telling you, I smell other people’s money!

BOOTH: It’s my Dad’s.

MILES: Shut up, Booth!

LOURDES: You owe us.

CASS: A lot.

LOURDES: Call your Dad, tell him to send us money.

MILES: There’s no reception here.

LOURDES: Come up to the Lounge and call.

MILES: I’ll never go up there.

CASS: Persuade him.

LOURDES: Seduce him.

CASS: Hit him.

BOOTH: Love him.

MILES: It won’t work.

CASS: Nothing works with these two.

MILES: You’re just saying that because I don’t include you.

LOURDES: What makes you think we want to include you?

MILES: All those invitations?

LOURDES: Those weren’t invitations.

CASS: It’s the Helix.

LOURDES: The Helix is inevitable.

CASS: We’ll be waiting.

LOURDES: Down the alley.

CASS: Up the spiral.

LOURDES: Into the Lounge.

LOURDES and CASS EXIT to the alley to ascend the Helix. They’ve taken Miles’ bag.

MILES: Thank god they’re gone.

BOOTH: Gone?  They’re still hovering.  Watching. Waiting.

MILES: What are they looking for?

BOOTH: Love?

MILES: Money.

BOOTH: Same difference.

MILES: There’s a difference!

BOOTH: Why do you always make it about money?

MILES: I don’t.

BOOTH: You do with Dad.

MILES: At least I don’t squander it.

BOOTH: It’s his love you squander, that’s why you keep going back for more.

MILES: I go back for the money.

BOOTH: You stole it, didn’t you? Miles? Didn’t you steal the money to come here?

MILES: I siphon a little here, a little there.

BOOTH: Don’t go back to Dad, stay here with me. Miles?  You don’t want to go home.

MILES: I’m scared.

BOOTH: We’re all scared.

MILES: (he’s woozy.) I… I need to sit down.

BOOTH: You can sit in the Lounge.

MILES is drawn to the alley, he gazes up.

MILES: I like the blue light.

BOOTH: You see it?

MILES: Yes, the Lounge.

BOOTH: Up, up, look up, Miles. Past it. That patch of sky?

MILES: Stars!  I see stars. I never knew you could see stars in this city!

BOOTH: The bright one? Kind of blue? You know what that is?

MILES: Venus?

BOOTH: Venus.

MILES: It’s…  beautiful.

BOOTH: It is.

MILES: Why do they think it’s feminine?

BOOTH: I don’t know.  Tradition? It’s a star.

MILES: It is.

BOOTH: Neither masculine nor feminine.

MILES: So beautiful. Can I sit down?

BOOTH: Sit here.

BOOTH, at last, rises from the table! He isn’t wearing any pants. He walks toward Miles as if it’s all about a big, swinging dick. THE HELICOPTER zooms overhead. BRIGHT LIGHT floods the stage briefly, then vanishes.

MILES: Um…  Booth?  Where are your pants?

BOOTH: Huh?  (looks down.) Oh… I must have left them in the Lounge.

MILES: Take a pair from my bag.  (looks for his bag.) Where did I…? Those two took my bag! Go get it!

BOOTH: You go.

MILES: I can’t go up there.

BOOTH: Well I have no pants.

MILES: (a beat.) Here, take mine.

MILES takes off his pants and hands them to Booth.

BOOTH: These are nice.

BOOTH slips into the pants, then suddenly snakes off, to the street, onto the grid.

MILES: Booth?!  Wait!

MILES EXITS after him. The malevolent dog GROWLS. MILES ENTERS again, no pants.

MILES: Booth? Booth! Don’t forget to pet him first!

MILES stares off, down the street, then crosses to the alley and ponders the Helix.

END OF SCENE 1.


SCENE 2

MILES is downstage, in a narrow spotlight. He is ecstatic.

MILES: The dead-end looks shadowy from here, but actually, it… It gleams! And the light at the end of the alley glows, sort of blue. And the steps are dark, a steely-blue, and they… just… gleam.

The first step, the lowest, is wider than the next. There’s plenty of room, it’s almost inviting, which you don’t expect, it looks so ominous from here… Less so as you move closer… And yet, that first step, the bottom, is higher than it should be, you have to reach for a higher step, hold on, pull yourself up… Then it shifts! The whole Helix shifts! Which is scary, you think the thing is toppling, right over, on top of you… But no… It only shifted. Turned, actually. It’s a spiral, after all, that’s what it does, it’s the nature of it, form and function, function and form, shifting, snaking, spiraling… however slowly… At first. But I didn’t know that… At first.

You pull yourself upright, which is harder than you’d think, weird angle, better reach up again, grab onto a higher step, then ease your other foot up, both feet, onto the first step, solid footing now. The Helix shifts again, you’re level now… Or are you? Perspective is off, so’s your center, your gut, your instinct, there’s no handrail, it’s awkward, leaning up, leaning over the next few steps, hanging onto a higher step. So you let go, the only way to right yourself, stand up straight… Sort of straight, it’s unsettling, unnerving to be off-balance. Nothing to do but move forward, it’s better than falling back, so much better than falling off, not that you’d kill yourself, but it’s higher than you thought, and it all moves, the bricks in the pavement are lower, the sleaze is farther away, kind of nice up here, so you take the second step, and it moves again, your weight’s the impetus, that’s clear now, it’s the function of it, spiraling, snaking with your weight, your movement, your step, and it’s all shifting! Adjust for balance, momentum makes sense, stillness impossible, it throws you off-balance, what balance?! No rest, another step, onward and upward, on the spiral, it’s spinning a bit faster, it’s your weight, and your feet, clanging, on the steps, speed, there’s balance in being off-balance, it’s going faster, so unnerving, scary, you’re climbing…  The faster you step, the faster it turns, higher, the walls blur, blurry, blurring, the dead-end’s a blur, you’re stepping, in rhythm, on the steps, narrower up here, and higher, your weight spins it, fast, a blurry blue light, the entrance, that’s it, the Lounge, coming ‘round… The door! It’s open! How to pass through?! Nothing to grab, it comes ‘round again, this is it, don’t wait, it’s level, eye level, don’t pass, don’t miss, just jump. And you’re in!

END OF SCENE 2.

SCENE 3

LIGHTS UP on MILES. He sits at the café table outside the entrance to the dive. Five empty glasses are before him. He is grungy. On his right hand is an expensive, tight-fitting, blue leather glove.

FOOTFALLS. BOOTH ENTERS, sweaty and out of breath. He wears Miles’ pants and carries his overnight bag. The small, blue ribbon is still tied to the handle.

BOOTH: Miles!

MILES: I’m here, snakelips.

BOOTH: Still?

MILES: Where else would I be?

BOOTH: (wipes sweat from his brow.) It’s hot.

MILES: No, dives are passé.

BOOTH: (sees the empty glasses.) How did you pay for those?

MILES: A hustle here, a hustle there.

SAD MUSIC drifts in from an alley offstage.

BOOTH: I love that song.

MILES: You don’t comment on the music.

BOOTH: I just did.

MILES: Can I buy you a drink?

BOOTH: I have money now, Miles.

MILES: Dad’s money.

BOOTH: Let’s go.

Miles holds up his blue-gloved right hand and flips his middle finger.

MILES: Go take a flying leap at a rolling doughnut.

BOOTH: Don’t talk about my mother like that.

MILES: (laughs.) Ha! And I won’t talk about yours.

BOOTH: Dad said mothers were just the same.

MILES: Cass wants to fuck me.

BOOTH: Again?

MILES: Again and again.

BOOTH: Lourdes wants to kill me.

MILES: Again?

PAUSE.

BOOTH: This could spin out of control.

MILES: It did.

BOOTH: And it will.

MILES: No wheels?

BOOTH: I walked. From the subway. Around and around and I doubled back.

MILES: Sometimes you have to snake around the grid and lose your way before you can come back a short distance correctly.

BOOTH: Now what?

PAUSE.

MILES: Cass says nothing ever changes.

BOOTH: Lourdes says hell is other people.

MILES: Lourdes and Cass are the other people.

BOOTH: Sounds like you’ve been up the Helix again.

MILES: Up and down…  While it spun around…

THUNDER and LIGHTNING. THE HELICOPTER thrums and drones in the distance. LIGHTS FADE.

END OF PLAY.

***

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    The Author

    Brian F. Beatty

    brian.beatty
    Brian F. Beatty is a dramatist, blogger and résumé writer trafficking in the gray areas in between. He has an illicit love for the rambling biographies that inspired Aftermath, The Mother of Invention, and Rumors of War, his trilogy of plays set between the two World Wars. Brian is the founder and principal of Key Resume Writers. He is also a loyal resident of Park Slope, Brooklyn.

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