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Drama by
Richard Kostelanetz

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Recitation by Carol Novack and Jeff Davis
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MINIMAL
AUDIO PLAYS
(15,000 words)

RICHARD
KOSTELANETZ

Dedicated to the memory of
Samuel Beckett

2009
What I initially wanted to do was write brief texts that by words and sound alone would set a scene and define an action--dialogues and sometimes monologues whose communication would at minimum be entirely acoustic and thus not need visualization. One reason why so many have erotic content is that no other subject seemed so opportune for the experience of two people who are heard without being seen. Much as my Epiphanies have been about the exhaustive experience of the experience of fiction, so these minimal audio plays are, in sum, fundamentally about the possibilities of concisely articulated verbal-acoustic creation.

INSTRUCTIONS TO PRODUCERS: Use as many of these texts as you wish, in any order you find appropriate. Feel free to select, as all need not be used, and to divide your selections into several groups of any length, as serialization would be appropriate. Since some texts also lend themselves to various interpretations, they may be repeated in individually different ways, within a single performance or over several performances. (The first play, for instance, could be done with both speakers sounding innocent or both sounding disingenuous.) Sound effects are sometimes specified here; other times, feel free to use whatever you think appropriate. Ideally each of these plays should have an acoustic ambience unique to it. Overlapping from different positions in the stereo spectrum should be considered. When two lines are separated into two paragraphs, that means there are two speakers who need no further definition. One way to define context is to consider these the kind of radio plays that Gertrude Stein might have written, had she been invited to work in the medium that was new in her times. Copyright © 2009 by Richard Kostelanetz.

 

SHE: No one has ever made love to me like that before.
HE (after pause): Really?

Rest assured, your money is in my pocket
Yes, but what are the motives in your heart?

HE (whispering to himself): Her eyes were looking directly at mine, asking a question to which my only answer could be "yes."
SHE (likewise whispering to self): Why is he looking at me like that?

HE (or SHE): I wonder why she let me make love to her on our first date?
SHE: What is it that is wanted of me later rather than now?

HE: Let me whisper in your ear that I love you. . .
SHE: Don't you want anyone else to know?

Young male: I did it; didn't I (spoken in the wake of acoustic commotion, as though fragile material had fallen to the floor).
Adult male: I was reluctant to admit to myself what the expression on his face should have revealed--that he had the intelligence of a five year old lost in a sporting goods store owned by an uncle.

SHE: What do you think of me?
HE (perhaps with different tone, perhaps not): What do you think of me?

See the cockroach walk along the floor of your bedroom.
See my flamethrower. . . . (whooshing sound)

HE: May I share my secrets with you?
SHE: Only if you promise not to tell anyone else that you've done so.

HE: Mother, I'm going to get married.
SHE: Who'll take out the garbage?

Honey, where does our future lie?
In real estate, my love, in real estate.

You have twelve children (pause), none of whom have spoken to you in years.
Yes, even though my last will and testament gives each of those ingrates thousands of dollars.

SHE: Why are you taking me here (against background of bucolic nature)?
HE: This is the graveyard in which I want to be interred.

SALESMAN: How would you like to purchase a Caribbean island for only ten thousand dollars?
ELDERLY WOMAN: Cash?

MAN (anxiously): Don't turn on the lights or you'll be killed.
WOMAN: Ahh (screaming, as though she might have been stabbed).

(whispering, with urban crowd in background): Give me money now, and I'll deliver a new TV set and two young girls.
(after pause) Color?

HE: It's time for me to ask whether you'd like to come back to my place?
SHE: It's time for me to tell you that, thanks to the microphone and transmitter in my bra, anything you say can and will be used against you.

Does the author of such short plays understand the inviolate requirements of theater?
That's for him to think and you to find out.

SHE: Did you make love last night?
SHE: Yes, several times (which could sound true, or false).

Why did you sign away your inheritance?
My father told me he wanted to invest it for quick profits; I had no idea at all that it would disappear into his failing business.

HE: I earned three million dollars yesterday.
HE: I made only a million (pause), legally.

Tell me again what it was you think your father did to you?
He molested me repeatedly from the age of eleven.

HE: In all my dreams the heroine is you.
SHE: In all my poems the ultimate subject is our love.

Expect the best massage you've ever had, or the worst.
Start in the middle.

HE: Don't you think I know how to do it?
SHE: What I fear is that the experience you want to share is more than my father or mother would like me to have.

Safe! (with baseball crowd in background)
No, out.

Do you prefer the love of women to the love of man?
For me as perhaps for you, everything depends upon the season and sometimes upon the phases of the moon.

HE: Rush into pleasure?
SHE: As long as I don't fall into trouble.

HE: Your bedroom or mine?
SHE: Why not a motel or some other neutral place--any floors in a storm, you know.

Why don't you ask people for directions?
It is clear that no one around me knows the way.

Strike we must.
Yes, even though we're risking the death of our union.

Save the last dance for me?
Do you expect to take me home to his house, or hers?

Establish credibility with me before you make another move into my life.
I wish I could; but try as I might, I don't know how.

It is only under duress that I surrender to you.
Would less duress bring a quicker surrender? (with classical music low in the background)

Go down easy and come into me clean, your head held high, and you'll surely be invited back.
Thanks for your advice, but what makes you think I want to return.

Don't you wonder whether I'm telling you the truth?
Doubt is expensive.

The man I love is in the same room as me.
The woman I love is not in the same room as me.

HE: Do you like the movie?
SHE: Get your arm off my shoulders (pause), and get your hand off my breast (pause); ouch.

Be prepared, my dear, to catch a falling star.
I've done so already (pause), too many times.

You would think "success" is my middle name.
So why aren't you filthy rich?

What is your motive in writing music?
To say in sound alone what cannot be said in words.

Free at last, free at last, great God almighty I'm free at last (with reverb).
(with no reverb) That's what you think.

Calculate upon my being unreliable, and you won't be disappointed.
How often, roughly?

HE (whispering to himself): She exposes me to a degree of truth I find intolerable in my daily affairs.
SHE (likewise whispering to herself): He exposes me to a degree of duplicity that I find unacceptable in my daily affairs.

Will you marry me?
Do you have a pen?

Explain your behavior.
I wish I could (pause); but since I can't, can you?

Bless you, my friend, for keeping secrets.
Much as I appreciate your confidence (pause), I'd rather keep my leash around your neck.

SHE: What should I believe?
HE: Have faith in me; you have nothing to lose but a little time and a lot less money.

I came to regret loving perhaps ten percent of the women I have known.
For me the figure would be closer to ninety.

(disco ambience) Do you see anyone here whom you didn't expect?
My father, dancing with someone other than my mother.

Heaven is my destination.
Me too, but where can I reserve a seat on a later train?

[Inquiring reporter:] What is it about churches you find so attractive?
If I go into them, guys like you won't try to interview me.

HE (haughtily): Given that what you describe were events that took place in the privacy of your apartment, there is no way you can prove your charges.
SHE (sharply interrupting him): What makes you think I didn't have a video camera hidden in the ceiling?

Why did he [or she] set himself afire?
Ask him [or her], quickly.

HE: I still loves [sic] you.
SHE: Even though I'm twice your age and have been pathologically unfaithful.

HE: Don't you recognize me, don't you know who I am?
SHE: Show me your birth certificate if you want to be believed.

II

Who is buried in Grant's womb?
(after pause) No, no, no; you're not going to fool me again.

Don't open this envelope until you get home.
Is it a letter-bomb?

HE or SHE: What are you doing to change the world, to make it better?
SHE or HE: Teaching you how to make love.

Don't you think we should terminate this analysis (pause), after twenty years?
Only if you think you can function successfully without me.

HE: What do you think of me; what do you think of my achievements?
SHE: Believe me; you don't want to know.

L, K, J, I, H, (a second voice joining in here) G, F, E, D, C, B, A (spoken slowly, to steadily increasing reverberation that obliterates language).

What is it about me that you like best?
Your love of me, for me, with regard to me, within me.

SHE (over restaurant ambience): Now that we're celebrating our first anniversary, tell me a secret.
HE: Six of my previous wives are dead.

What kind of cuisine is your favorite?
Expensive.

HE: Though we haven't been lovers for a decade. . .
SHE: You and I could spend tonight sleeping, safely, in the same bed.

I'd never before made love (with second voice beginning here) to anyone so much older than I.
I'd never before made love to anyone so much younger than I.

Why is it that I find you more attractive than any of the dozens of other men available to me.
I wish I knew; I'd have more faith in your declarations.
(with sensuous, "New Age" music softly in the background)

Can you imagine yourself married to me?
Only if you inherit your father's title.

That's why I believe the defendant is guilty.
But so are you (pause), of what I do not yet know.

What do you know about God?
Only what you tell me.

SHE: There's a young man hot on my tail.
HE (over breakfast utensils): What do you want me to say?
HE: Would you believe that I've thought of you constantly for twenty years now and all the time remembered my love for you?
SHE: Even though you were married and I was not?

SHE: Wouldn't you want to know the secret of my success with women?
HE: Yes, especially with those who are usually heterosexual.

Why did you plagiarize from my early writings?
Out of respect and love I wanted to create a scandal that would make them more famous than they were before.

HE (to soft rock music): What is it, my love, that you would like me most to do?
SHE: Just what you're doing now.

Praise me for making discoveries, for inventing techniques, that escaped my predecessors.
(with background of office machines) If and only if you hire me.

(over urban conversation) Make me a solid offer I cannot refuse.
(prolonged silence before a single gunshot)

SHE: Why is it that you write so often about me and our affair?
HE: Because nothing else has happened to me recently.

HE: What is it that you want me to do to you?
SHE: I don't know and doubt if I ever will and think therefore that the initial choices will necessarily be yours.

HE: What have I done, what did you discover, to make you look so angry?
SHE: Why didn't you tell me that you'd been convicted, and gone to prison, for murdering your first wife?

SHE: Do you always try to wrestle women to bed on a first date?
HE: Only if I expect to succeed in loving them.

SHE: Can you make love to a woman as well as you do to a man?
HE: How do you measure?.

How does a fireman like you manage to know so much?
By reading books when the guys might be sleeping or watching television.

HE: I'm willing to tell you everything you'd like to know about me.
SHE: Nice of you to say that, but I don't know what questions to ask.

HE: No one believes my desperate need for money.
SHE: Not even my father.

HE: Am I exploring the limits of your capacity for feeling?
SHE: No, you haven't climbed out of the foundations.

What would be the result of 7,860 divided by 51?
In your counting system or mine?

Are you watching the sun rising or the earth setting?
That depends upon what you want to be told.

Would you prefer to wrestle me on a mat? Or on grass? On sand?
In water?

HE: You know that I'm opposed to making love to married women.
SHE: Don't let my wedding ring fool you?

What do you do, professor Bluster, when someone repels your bluff?
There is nothing to do, I'm afraid, other than run away.

What was the most serious problem you ever confronted in your life?
Whether to give my illegitimate daughter my last name or her father's.

Why did you keep your ancestry a secret until now?
You wouldn't have married me otherwise.

I thought myself the epitome of intellectualism until I met you.
I had precisely the same image of myself.

Who would you rather see running your social life--your mother or your father?
(a female scream of awed intimidation)

Are you the man with whom I'm supposed to establish a partnership?
That's for me to know and you to find out.

Love me.
I do.

Look at me naked and you can imagine how I looked when I was skinny and young.
What makes you think I should want to?.

HE: With five beautiful women before me, all of them in diaphanous gowns, what should I have said?
SHE: I don't know, son; think of what your father would have done.

Why do you lie to so many patients?
That's my way of showing the world, and myself, that I do not play the games of life with mundane ambitions or common rules.

Have you ever tried to publish your manuscripts?
(a scream of pain)

SHE: How would you like to have your face on the cover of the morning newspaper?
HE: Is that an offer or a threat?

What is the occasion for your sudden interest in Tibetan scholarship?
The questions come from my boss; I'm only following his instructions.

HE: Did your first husband make love to you like this?
SHE: Why do you want me to remember?

III

What was your real reason for inviting me to dinner?
(whispered to self) To see if my new girl friend's cooking would give you a tummy ache.

I don't know you (walking away).
Yes you do (walking closer).

What did the elephant ask the naked man?
How can you drink through that tiny thing?

If you don't pay me off, I'll tell the police about your selling drugs.
And I'll tell the IRS about your failure to pay taxes.

Do you love me now?
No more, no less than before.

Where did you get that hideous scar?
Fighting with my ex-husband.

Your recollection of my love for you will haunt you for the rest of your life, even if you left me now.
(bitterly) Especially if I kill you.

If I tell you I'm pregnant, will you marry me?
Tell me more--what else or who else goes into the deal?

My, what a surprise.
Didn't you know?

Would you like something to eat?
Why do you want to poison me?

Hold it right there, in mid-air, . . . beautiful.
(short-breathed) Who do you think I am.

Why is it that you want to jump off the tallest building in the city?
To get my death noticed in the morning paper.

I won't budge from this place until God tells me what to do.
Will he speak a language you can understand.

What is the key to being a successful radio announcer?
Pretend that you are talking long distance over the telephone to someone who barely understands English.

Turn around and let us see what you really look like.
Oh my gosh.

Why do you employ a uniformed chauffer?
I'm a bad driver.

It looks interesting up here in heaven.
What makes you think it's heaven?

HE: (indecipherable whispering for several seconds)
SHE: (indecipherable whispering for several seconds)

Isn't he too fat to get through our front door?
Almost, but not quite.

Look, look, quick, the sky.
But there is nothing there.

When can I get you to keep your promises?
Speak a little louder, love; I'm hard of hearing.

He cherished isolation as necessary for his spirit.
The only people who could surely violate it were pretty girls.

Who's your favorite lover of all time?
I am--me.

To everything I say you nod in agreement.
You're on a roll, and I don't want to stop your flow.

What can I offer you that your other guys don't?
Marriage.

Is that the plane you think is going to fly me around the world?
Yes, just you and the pilot.

You're the one, the woman I want to sign to a long-term contract.
To do what?

What should I do to make my life immune from the vicissitudes that have plagued it?
Get a job.

[threateningly] Your money or your life?
What's that--why is it that I can't understand the language he is speaking.

So I told God what I had to offer, and we made a deal.
You got cheated, chump.

Does your mother have any Indian blood?
What do I know about those bottles she keeps in the back of her refrigerator?

Be a good boy and tie my shoelaces.
Only if you promise not to kick me in the face again.

Won't you have a drink?
Are you offering or demanding?

How do you know you're wholly free of disease?
I knew you'd as me that, and so I took a dozen tests.

Why do you carry a sword?
To make women fantasize about my penis.

I must return to my children, all ten of them.
No wonder you didn't want me to see your legs.

You strip me, you fuck me, and then you tell what I don't want to hear--don't you think you owe me an explanation?
You owe me one, baby.

You're going to make love to me and stop this nonsense.
I'd rather continue fighting, thanks.

As you can see, this goose I'm trying to sell you lays golden eggs.
Are you showing me everything I should know?

SHE: I thought you'd like lemon meringue pie best.
HE: Okay, peel, my love, and let's have a look.

Hey, may I make love to you?
Not tonight, and not this month, for sure, but maybe next.

Do I look confused?
Don't you think I'd know if you were?

I have developed a foolproof test of any person's sincerity.
Why aren't you using it now?

Why do you speak of our house as "up the hill" when it is actually across the lagoon?
Do I?

To whom belongs the hand that is crawling into my pocket?
Not I [quickly, running the words together].

Erect?
I think so.

No need to shout; I can hear you.
(Shouting in distance) But I can't hear you.

Where are your touching yourself?
I don't know the word in English.

Why are you so nervous?
No, I'm not.

Why are you doing most of the talking?
Because you're doing most of the listening.

What was it that just hit you?
Nothing.

When in doubt, check him out.
(said almost simultaneously) When in doubt, check her out.

What makes you think I've had a child I don't talk about?
All those stretch marks around your butt.

Wouldn't you know that I'd be selected to perform the marriage ceremony.
Even though you haven't been a priest for years.

I appreciate your making plans with me in mind.
You haven't given me a chance to screw up yet.

I've not gone anywhere I haven't told you about.
But I don't understand why you shaved your pubic hair to go to the supermarket.

Are you always so nervous?
I need to have a second cigarette ready to smoke as soon as the first one burns down.

He gets so many girls because he's good-looking.
It's more important, believe me, that no one has ever spoken of him as a disappointment.

IV
SHE: What can I do for you now?
HE: Hold me in your bare arms and let me suck your breasts as you did twenty years ago.

SHE: Lucky am I to be his wife. . .
SHE: As all your predecessors, after divorcing him, pursued illustrious careers.

Now that it's dark, are you naked?
I've not undressed, though I'd like to.

We'll pay you a lot of money to join our company.
Thanks, but I can't afford to waste my time merely making money.

Would you like to meet your wife's new lover?
Yes, I hear he looks like a wimp (pause) and is impotent as well.

You know that I'm very fond of you.
I trust only what you do to alleviate my depressed condition.

May I come home with you?
Dad needs company.

It was four years ago, just about this time of year, that we had our one night together.
I must have dozed through it.

Had we known you'd get us arrested. . .
I'd have brought a toothbrush.

Hit me, will you, and I'll hit you back.
Not if I get to you first.

What's the main problem in performing such minimal plays?
Articulating characters who have no history and no future.

I'm on a diet again.
Since I'm not, drinking pitchers is what we'll do this evening.

Why are you so depressed?
Did I say I was depressed?

What you're offering me is a mink skin.
That's like money around here.

Given my penchant for complexity, how can I write a play that's comprehensible?
Make it short and thus simple--short and simple.

I love you so much.
Not as much as I love you.

Are you really as generous as you seem?
There is only one way to know.

How did I get such a large hole at the apex of my pantyhose?

Promise me that you won't tell.
How much is it worth to you?

After a decade of marriage, aren't you still in love?
Only the kids are keeping us together.

May I offer to be of help to you?
No, I do not want you to count me as your friend.

I want you to think of me as a friend.
Great; can you lend me twenty?

Why do you work for a man who doesn't pay you?
Thanks, I'm getting other benefits.

Keep my secret?
Only if you tell me.

Do you see what I see, smiling at us?
(pause) Ain't she somethin'.

How did you know that history will treasure you?
I'll write the first big book about our times.

My, what a surprise?
Haven't you ever seen a woman naked before?

Twenty-six?
Yes, twenty-six million, twenty-six thousand, twenty-six.

What's your principal source of material for such short plays?
Lots of other plays.

Why did you bring a baseball bat tonight?
To see if I can find a pick-up game tomorrow morning.

I want to reach for the sky.
Only if you kiss my feet first.

I want you to kiss me.
Have you read a good book lately?

Did you get the fan letter I sent you two months ago?
So you are the one.

I wrote my first novel when I was ten.
No, you were thirteen.

(in the distance) Would you like dessert, madam?
(close up) From under the table this wedding dinner is a remarkably different experience.

SHE: Now that you're here, a kiss please.
HE: No, no, no; I'm the twin brother.

Take his pulse, nurse.
(after five-second pause) His heart must be beating two hundred times a minute.

What do you see under those x-rays?
Nothing more than that that most common terminal illness--life itself.

Smile, please, smile.
I am smiling.

Open that door, my friend, and you'll see my ex-wife brandishing a knife.
Must I?

III

I've sunk to the point where no more bad fortune can happen to me.
Don't look now, but someone is about to confiscate your clothes.

What are you doing here now?
Pretending that I've reassumed my throne.

Do all of you sleep in that little bed?
Yes, all six of us.

Why do I find myself continually falling in love with men who, even if they don't live with their wives, are legally married.
Isn't it obvious that you're trying to avoid fully fleshed commitments?

I'll give you the highest salary in the company.
How much of it should be kicked back to you?

Wouldn't you like to make love?
When's dinner; what's there to eat?

Don't look around, but your slip is showing.
Your fly is open.

Didn't I hear a voice emerge from dad's coffin?
(sotto voce) Has your mother left yet?

Do I bore you?
I can't remember.

I want you to go out there and knock that bull dead.
How many weapons will you give me, Dad.

Aren't you wearing clothes?
Please don't turn on the lights.

What you cannot do is take away my integrity.
He'll shoot you before he allows that to happen.

I hate you, father, for screwing up my life.
What makes you think, my son, that you haven't screwed up mine?

Why are you buying a lock and key for your bedroom?
To keep my husband out of my lingerie.

The only thing he could successfully write for theater is monologue. . .
. . . which accounts for why the lines given me were actually written by somebody else.

What's on television tonight?
A live autopsy of the Queen.

Mommy, mommy, come see a parade of dinosaurs.
How do you know they're really dinosaurs?

Do you see the Light?
Yes, it's on a truck coming directly at me.

(Portentously) If you met God, what question would you ask of Him?
(after pause) What's the capitol of South Dakota.

SHE: Let me read to you what I wrote today.
HE: Let me lie down first.

Why do you say you had your best sex with him; what did he do?
I can't tell you yet, please.

I've never heard you use foul language before.
That's because you never listen.

Wow, what a beautiful woman that is; I'm in love.
Do you know this dog?

For the love of God be my lover?
Okay.

I escaped from jail.
And I'm escaping from you.

She could have died from any of a thousand things.
Only if you hadn't killed her.

I love you tonight as I've never loved you before.
Because I paid for your dinner along with mine?

We must be locked inside a tomb (knocking on walls).
Thankfully we were buried together.

Didn't you notice I am Black?
Didn't you notice I am Caucasian?

Did anyone in particular write these plays?
Let's assume no one did until someone smart enough shows up to take credit for them.

You're lucky to have lots of helpful friends.
Every one of them wants to help me empty my wallet.

You shouldn't be so fat.
That's not the problem; I should instead be six inches taller for my weight.

Did you say anything?
We have never said anything worth hearing.

My, what a surprise.
Haven't you seen a middle-aged nude woman before.

Doctor, that not my belly you're touching.
I'm not a doctor.

Why didn't you tell me before what it would be that would make you come so easily?
I was scared it might deceive me into loving you more than I should.

Is it awe or love?
That's for you to find out.

Am I dead or alive?
How do you tell?

Don't you know who I am?
Anyone other than my father.

Happy birthday to you, my love.
It isn't my birthday.

Whose funeral is that going by?
Mine.

What would you like me to do, love, that I haven't done?
Tell me your name again.

V
SHE: What can I do for you now?
HE: Hold me in your bare arms and let me suck your breasts as you did twenty years ago.

SHE: Lucky am I to be his wife. . .
SHE: As all your predecessors, after divorcing him, pursued illustrious careers.

Now that it's dark, are you naked?
I've not undressed, though I'd like to.

We'll pay you a lot of money to join our company.
Thanks, but I can't afford to waste my time merely making money.

Would you like to meet your wife's new lover?
Yes, I hear he looks like a wimp (pause) and is impotent as well.

You know that I'm very fond of you.
I trust only what you do to alleviate my depressed condition.

May I come home with you?
Dad needs company.

It was four years ago, just about this time of year, that we had our one night together.
I must have dozed through it.

Had we known you'd get us arrested. . .
I'd have brought a toothbrush.

Hit me, will you, and I'll hit you back.
Not if I get to you first.

What's the main problem in performing such minimal plays?
Articulating characters who have no history and no future.

Since I'm not, drinking pitchers is what we'll do this evening.

Why are you so depressed?
Did I say I was depressed?

I can't sing today.
Lost your voice, or found another career?

What you're offering me is a mink skin.
That's like money around here.

Call me back tomorrow at the same time, my love.
Every night I have vivid dreams of you.

I've been subject to the most humiliating experience anyone can imagine.
Good.

Do you consider me ethereal or ephemeral?
Both, at least for today.

How did I get such a large hole at the apex of my pantyhose?

Why are you rising above me?
I've put springs into my shoes.

I have no perversions.
Aw, shucks.

I'm entitled to be co-author of these plays.
Even though you didn't write anything?

I see beautiful people struggling against poverty.
I see a slum that degrades the lives of everyone living there.

What's the best time for us to get married?
About three weeks after your prostatectomy.

HE: Wouldn't you like to have a child?
SHE: Yes, but only if I could avoid the necessity of having sex with a man.

I want you to think of me as a friend.
Great; can you lend me twenty?

Go ahead and arrest me, officer.
Not if I want to keep my name out of the newspapers.

My, what a surprise?
Haven't you ever seen a woman naked before?

Twenty-six?
Yes, twenty-six million, twenty-six thousand, twenty-six.

That's not my bellybutton.
That's not my finger.

Why don't we do now something that was impossible for us as kids thirty years ago?
Wow, golly, gee, really--make love?

Why did you bring a baseball bat tonight?
To see if I can find a pick-up game tomorrow morning.

I want to reach for the sky.
Only if you kiss my feet first.

Why is everyone laughing at my plays?
Because they are so short.

Did you get the fan letter I sent you two months ago?
So you are the one.

May I borrow your mistress for the evening?
Only if you promise to bring her home before midnight.

SHE: Now that you're here, a kiss please.
HE: No, no, no; I'm the twin brother.

Take his pulse, nurse.
(after five-second pause) His heart must be beating two hundred times a minute.

Smile, please, smile.
I am smiling.

If you show me yours I'll show you mine.
How can I know, unless you go first, that you'll keep your end of the bargain?

Open that door, my friend, and you'll see my ex-wife brandishing a knife.
Must I?

IV

Who is buried in Grant's womb?
(after pause) No, no, no; you're not going to fool me again.

Don't open this envelope until you get home.
Is it a letter-bomb?

HE or SHE: What are you doing to change the world, to make it better?
SHE or HE: Teaching you how to make love.

Don't you think we should terminate this analysis (pause), after twenty years?
Only if you think you can function successfully without me.

L, K, J, I, H, (a second voice joining in here) G, F, E, D, C, B, A (spoken slowly, to steadily increasing reverberation that obliterates language).

What is it about me that you like best?
Your love of me, for me, with regard to me, within me.

Abracadabra you.
What do you want in return?

He looked different on television.
But he was the same sort of character he played.

He died last Tuesday, only a week ago.
No, it was a Tuesday a month ago.

Never make known what you have seen tonight.
My lord, we will not.

You're not the enemy, evil is, but why you choose to collaborate with the enemy demands an explanation.
To that I have nothing to say (with arrogance that reveals a lack of confidence).
(ambience of a courtroom)

HE: You must see the compact discs that I've collected.
SHE: What else do you have to show me?

If I could walk into the street dressed like a woman, . . .
You would learn more about being female than you ever did in college.

SHE: Explain to me the nature of the universe.
(over cocktail lounge music)
HE: Only if you promise, in return, to reveal to me the mystery of money.

SHE (to bedroom music): I'm pregnant, dear.
HE or SHE: But who, pray tell, is the father?

SHE: Love me do.
HE: Only if you fulfill certain prerequisites and sign the agreement my lawyer will send you in the mail.

HE (to soft rock music): What is it, my love, that you would like me most to do?
SHE: Just what you're doing now.

Confess (said threateningly).
I have; there is no more truth for me to tell.
Confess (repeated, even more threateningly)

HE: Here's my card; please call me.
SHE: Why?

 

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Richard Kostelanetz b.May 14, 1940, New York, N.Y., U.S. in full RICHARD CORY KOSTELANETZ American writer, artist, critic, and editor of the avant-garde who is productive in many fields.

Kostelanetz attended Brown University (B.A., 1962), Columbia University (M.A., 1966), and King's College, London. He served as visiting professor or guest artist at a variety of institutions and lectured widely. Continue here. Visit his website.

 

Jeff Davis bio here.

 

 

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