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Better This Way 2007-23-07 (a work in progress by Deliberate Motion)

I. [Projected video of PERSEPHONE. Music: CCC w/ Vocals]

VOICE
Today’s Lesson: The earth is not a chocolate covered cherry

Materials:

1 chilled chocolate covered cherry


1 paper towel
1 serrated knife
1 diagram of the earth’s layers

Step 1: Spread paper towel and carefully place chilled chocolate covered cherry on
it. Do not eat it.
Step 2: Using your knife, cut the cherry in half, as neatly as you can. Use a sawing
motion to prevent the total collapse of the candy’s shell. Dissecting a chocolate
cherry is very messy business, work slowly and carefully.
Step 3: You may now eat one half of your candy.
Step 4: Examine the Outer Chocolate shell. It is thin and brittle and easy to break
like the earth’s crust. Beneath the crust is the mantle, sticky sugary goo that keeps
the cherry in place within the crust.
Step 5: Examine the cherry. Dive your way through the dense but malleable fruit of
the outer core. Beneath this layer is the pit. The hard iron core of the earth. Carve
delicately into the pit, because entering it is a dangerous undertaking.
Step 6: You may now eat the other half of your chocolate covered cherry
Step 7: Next explain in your words, how the Earth is NOT like a chocolate covered
cherry and how you know this to be true.

HADES
Fishing.
I cast my line my line into the water. There is a worm at the end of the line, a juicy
blind worm, earthworm, called bait. The line and the bait are in the water. Wet. A
trout or bass or carp or goldfish or Nemo or some other fish. My bait is still in the
water. And the bobber—that’s the red and white ping pong ball type thing attached
to the line—it’s still floating. And now…

TINA
Gorgeous isn’t it?

HADES
Isn’t what?

SHANNON
The World.

[Walk music begins.]

HADES
How do you know?
SHANNON
How do I know what?

HADES
You can’t see most of it.

SHANNON
I can only judge what I see.

HADES
That’s a fairly dumb answer.

SHANNON
Well you don’t have to listen to me.

HADES
If I don’t, will you keep talking anyway?

SHANNON
Feel free to keep walking.

TINA
But don’t you at least think it’s gorgeous today?

HADES
I’m withholding judgment.

TINA
Why bother?

HADES
I don’t like to be wrong.

TINA
Well then I guess you don’t say very much, huh?

HADES
Well I just know a lot.

TINA
I bet.

HADES
Ask me something.

SHANNON
Why? So you can impress me with your vast knowledge?

HADES
Well it would just be a shame for someone so beautiful to be so stupid.
TINA
You’re an asshole.

HADES
See? You’re getting smarter already.

SHANNON
I guess so.

HADES
So did you ever think about what you can’t see?

SHANNON
What do you mean?

HADES
What you can’t see.

SHANNON
I’m not deaf, thanks. Are you talking about like the thousands of bacteria swarming
all around the air and my body, or are you talking about a realm of reality beyond
my senses.

HADES
The latter.

TINA
So you’re asking me if I think about the things I can’t sense, have no way of
sensing, may or may not exist, and have no way of affecting anything I will ever
do?

HADES
More or less.

TINA
Why would I bother?

HADES
You have no interest in why things happen?

TINA
No.

HADES
Oh.

SHANNON
As long as my world continues to behave as it does, what do I care if an unseen
force is pulling the strings?

HADES
Well, what if it’s not a benevolent force? What if it’s a sinister one?
SHANNON
It’s been pretty good to me so far.

HADES
Fortunes change.

SHANNON
And what do you have in mind?

HADES
What are you doing right now?

TINA
I’m talking to you.

HADES
I mean generally.

SHANNON
Tending to my garden.

HADES
Oh.

SHANNON
Why?

HADES
You know, I thought maybe you’d want to take a walk with me.

TINA
Okay.

HADES
And now, a tug. The bobber goes under. I feel a tug. Wow. A tug. I pull and pull
and pull, well reel and reel and reel and pull a little. Something’s stuck. Feels stuck.
Reel’s stuck. Stuck. So I pull and…unstuck, reel reel reel.

Something’s breaking through the surface. Something. Coming up.

II.

[Music “Righteous” begins. SHANNON sings. TINA and HADES walk/dance.]

SHANNON
I’m cold.

HADES [Steps towards her]


Better? [Steps again] Better?

SHANNON
I’m cold.

HADES
Stand here. [Moves SHANNON] I meant here. [Moves TINA.]

SHANNON
What’s this?

HADES
It’s your induction.

SHANNON
Induction into what?

HADES
Would you mind passing me that tape.

TINA
Oh sure. Here.

HADES
No, not the box tape. The painter’s tape.

TINA
Umm. Here?

HADES
That’s the aluminum tape. Electrical tape. Masking tape, Packing tape.

TINA
Isn’t that the same thing as box tape?

HADES
No, box tape is brown … like a box. Packing tape is clear, for use on things like
bubble wrap, or a white box.

TINA
You’re an idiot.

HADES
Wait you had it. Just to the left. Yes. Yes. Give it to me.

TINA
Why should I give you my tape?

HADES
It’s not your tape.

TINA
I don’t see you holding it.

HADES
Everything here belongs to me, whether I’m holding it or not.

SHANNON
Not everything.

HADES
Everything. The tape. Now, whatever you do, don’t move.

TINA
Okay.

[HADES tapes floor. TINA tapes wall.]

SHANNON
What are you doing?

HADES
Can’t you see I’m working?

SHANNON
Looks to me like you’re taping the floor.

HADES
Well you wouldn’t want it to fall out from under you.

SHANNON
Then thank you.

HADES
Don’t thank me.

SHANNON
Why? Because you are so selfless that you do these things just because.

HADES
I don’t know. I think I’m a pretty deliberate person actually. I mean really, does
anybody do anything just because?

SHANNON
Why else would I do anything? Because God makes me?

HADES
What God?

TINA
Exactly.

HADES
No, I was asking which God you were talking about.

TINA
Oh. Well, I was talking about the being above Zeus.
HADES
Me?

TINA: No. What’s his name … Jesus.

HADES
Ah. So here’s a question.

TINA
Shoot.

HADES
Would you care if you were cut off from it?

SHANNON
Cut off from what?

HADES
A higher power.

SHANNON
Like if I were excommunicated?

HADES
Like if you lost your faith.

SHANNON
Well I think I’d have to have faith to be able to lose it.

HADES
I think you should have faith in me.

TINA
Oh, really? You?

HADES
I have a deep faith.

TINA
Do you ever go to church?

HADES
No. I don’t.

TINA
Do you pray often?

HADES
Certainly not.

SHANNON
I don’t want to be the reason for your faith.

HADES
You’re a smart girl.

SHANNON
But I suppose you consider yourself a man.

HADES
I am certainly no man.

SHANNON
Then what do you consider yourself?

HADES
Well, what do you think?

TINA
What do you mean?

HADES
About the floor.

SHANNON
Oh it’s very black and shiny. Clean.

HADES
Thanks. But I was asking about my taping job.

SHANNON
Oh, um, it looks pretty decent. Not really a square though.

HADES
I wasn’t really aiming for a square.

TINA
Well then good for you. You’ve succeeded.

HADES
It’s a Hexagon.

SHANNON
Great.

HADES
Well, I really appreciate this.

SHANNON
Appreciate what?

HADES
Binding you.
TINA
Who’s binding me?

HADES
I already have.

TINA
Why?

HADES
I don’t want you to go.

TINA
You don’t want me to what?

HADES
Get hurt. Get hurt. I don’t want you to get hurt here. So I’ve bound you so that
nothing can get in.

SHANNON
You’ve put me in a box –

HADES
Hexagon -

SHANNON
Whatever. So I can’t be hurt?

TINA
But I can’t get out either.

HADES
I’m afraid that’s the drawback of it.

TINA
Then how are we going to do anything?

HADES
I can enter the box.

[HADES puts hand on SHANNON’s neck and lowers her to the floor inside the
square. Earthquake video and whisper music plays. TINA tapes her way to the
microphone.]

TINA (microphone)
there is an empty face an empty place in my future
mine
where is the family?
too many things going on at once
or one long complicated thing
why do i complicate things
easier to believe that people love
that people care
that things matter
easier
less frightening
to believe that community exists
what does that mean?
stop questioning yourself
or don’t stop?
i can’t
can’t stop
it’s impossible
why?
see
no use in it
is there use in anything anyway?
do you ever think about jumping in front of a car when it passes you
or running head first into a wall
or jumping
or being shot
not to die
not at all to die
but to live
to feel alive
the thrill of life right before death
the feeling of becoming unstuck from the ultimate glue
life
which is what keeps us stuck more than anything
we are stuck with life
until we die
stuck with being stuck
the ultimate act of attempting to become unstuck
is to attempt to die
but to die—is to become stuck again
stuck in death
which, come to think of it, is stickier than life
is there, after all, any way to become unstuck from death?

[HADES rips up the tape trail until he is directly behind TINA. He reaches for her.]

SHANNON [shouting]
Don’t touch me!
/>TINA
Wake up!

SHANNON
I’m in the dream again.

TINA
Well, wake up!
SHANNON
No. I’m at that part – It’s going to happen again and I need to fix it. I can change it
this time if I just do it again.

TINA
Over and over and over and over…. and you think it will be different?

SHANNON
Maybe if I scream, maybe if I scream….

TINA
Wake up!

SHANNON
I had a dream. There was a man.

TINA
I remember this one.

SHANNON
The man had a family.. a wife…

TINA
A wife and daughter.

SHANNON
And one day he took them to a ball at an old stone mansion off the coast of Nova
Scotia.

TINA
It was the largest and last extravagant party in the Northern Hemisphere. Thousands
of guests were invited, each sent a unique mask. The husband dressed up in a
crescent moon mask, the wife wore a stark white shell of a face. The child was
given one of those skinny little masks. Like … you know what I’m talking about?

SHANNON
Like the Lone Ranger mask.

TINA
Right.

SHANNON
Or the Hamburgler.

TINA
Anyway, the family arrived at the mansion and were promptly given three names.
The man was dubbed Mr. Winks. The mother was renamed

SHANNON
The Wraith
TINA
Right. And the child was called–

SHANNON
Hamburgler. No.

TINA
It is in my dream.

SHANNON
I should be telling the story.

TINA
You are telling the story.

SHANNON
The child’s name was Raccoon Face. So Mr. Winks, The Wraith, and Raccoon Face
quickly got separated in the thickening crowd of the main ballroom. However, none
seemed to mind until close to three AM when a shriek went up from the main
kitchen of the 8th dining hall. It was the Wraith. She was dead.

TINA
Murdered.

SHANNON
Brutally.

TINA
She was repeatedly stabbed in the neck with a sterling melon baller.

SHANNON
It was very gruesome.

TINA
Because the melon baller is so blunt.

SHANNON
Raccoon Face was first on the scene.

TINA
Stepping out of the shadows from behind some sort of ancient blue and yellow
hanging tapestries she rushed over to her dead mother. She began to tilt back her
own mask, but was pushed back down by the huge hand of the host.

SHANNON
Sometimes when I have the dream, the host doesn’t reach her in time.

TINA
She takes off her mask and the guests tear her to pieces.

SHANNON
How often do you have the dream?
TINA
Often enough.

SHANNON
It doesn’t matter.

TINA
It was the Host himself that always impressed me.

SHANNON
You don’t know that it was a man.

TINA
You think he was a woman?

SHANNON
For all we know he could have been a beast.

TINA
But his voice …

SHANNON
Was guttural at best.

TINA
He always wore large black gloves to fit with his rather formal all black attire.

SHANNON
But the mask-

TINA
Yes, his mask. You never said what happens to the child.

SHANNON
In my dream you never find out.

TINA
The Host carries her away. But his mask –

SHANNON
Yes.

TINA
It’s a human face.

V.
[HADES removes SHANNON from the box. Music plays. He lowers her to the
floor and begins examining her legs. TINA stretches and strikes sexy poses in the
box to get HADES’ attention.]

SHANNON
Why are we so strange?

HADES
I don’t think we’re strange. We’re just interesting.

SHANNON
I gotta admit, this is kind of boring.

HADES
I can see that, if you don’t know what’s coming.

SHANNON
Well …

HADES
What?

SHANNON
What’s coming?

HADES
Secret.

SHANNON:
Are you going somewhere with this? Why won’t you tell me what’s going to
happen?

HADES
I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

SHANNON
How long do I have to wait?

HADES
A little while.

SHANNON
Can we … can we do stuff in the meantime?

HADES
Like what?

[Music: Piano. SHANNON and HADES breathe and make love in flickering light.
TINA watches video of herself in the boat yard.]

VI.

HADES
Arm transplant.

SHANNON
Excuse me?
HADES
I need an arm transplant. I need a new arm.

TINA
What’s wrong with the one you have now?

HADES
Thin wrists.

SHANNON
So?

HADES
They’re girly.

SHANNON
It’s true.

HADES
I don’t think they’ve reached that level yet, though.

SHANNON
Who?

HADES
Doctors.

TINA
They’ve transplanted a hand.

HADES
I’m not saying the technology’s not there, which it’s not. But we’re even farther
away from cosmetic arm transplants, morally speaking. It probably won’t happen in
my lifetime.

SHANNON
Well, then you’ll have to get used to them.

HADES
I only want one done.

SHANNON
Why?

HADES
If I get both done people will think I was born that way.

TINA
So, isn’t that what you want?

HADES
I want people to know the insufferable hardship I lived through.

SHANNON
You’re an idiot.

HADES
You know you think I’m funny.

TINA
Do I?

HADES
Yes.

SHANNON
Why are we so strange?

HADES
Who says we’re strange?

SHANNON
I don’t know, we just are.

HADES
I don’t think we’re strange. We’re just interesting.

SHANNON
Interesting to whom?

HADES
To each other, I hope.

SHANNON
Of course you do.

HADES
Of course I do what?

SHANNON
You hope I find us interesting.

HADES
Maybe. But you’re just as pathetic.

SHANNON
Why is it pathetic?

HADES
Oh, I don’t know. I suppose it’s not.

[HADES flops down in the box like a pouty child.]


TINA (to Shan)
Stuck. I’m stuck.

SHANNON
Tape stuck?

TINA
Glue stuck maybe, or super glue stuck.

SHANNON
Quicksand, wet cement.

TINA
I’m in deep.

SHANNON
I’m the left foot and you’re the right.

TINA
If I stay put, we’re running in circles.

HADES (interrupting)
Do you think it’s fate that we met?

TINA
No.

(Pause.)

HADES
Then what?

TINA
I don’t know. Are you asking do I think we’re meant for each other?

HADES
Kind of.

TINA
I love you.

HADES
I know.

(Pause.)

HADES
But do you think we had a choice?

SHANNON
Of course we did.
HADES
I don’t know. It’s like we are what we are because of all our experiences from birth.

SHANNON
Plus your genes.

HADES
Right. So your very first experience decides what your second is, and your third,
and so on. So we kind of never have a …

TINA
Do I have food on my cheek?

HADES
Yes.

TINA
Where?

HADES
There.

TINA
Here?

HADES
No, uh, farther …

(TINA creeps closer to HADES)

TINA
Here?

HADES
Not quite. Uhm …

TINA
Show me.

(They kiss.)

HADES
I kissed you.

SHANNON
I know.

HADES
But seriously, you have to do something about that food on your cheek. It’s really
not attractive.

SHANNON (wiping herself)


Oh. Right. Sorry … Gone?

HADES
Close enough.

HADES
But you know what I’m saying?

SHANNON
About what?

HADES
Have you been listening to this conversation at all?

TINA
Yes! Fate. Choice.

HADES
Well?

SHANNON
Well what?

HADES
What do you think about it?

SHANNON
I honestly don’t care.

HADES
How could you not care?

SHANNON
Because we’re together and we’re happy. Why does how matter?

HADES
If we didn’t have a choice then it’s not special.

SHANNON
So?

HADES
If it was meant to happen, then it’s not unique.

TINA
I don’t care if we’re unique.

HADES
If we didn’t decide to have the relationship, then we don’t get to decide when it
ends.

TINA
Kiss me again.

HADES
Why?

[SHANNON seduces HADES into the tape box TINA makes. Both PSEFs
seduce/mock-bind HADES. He plays along for awhile before getting fed up and
ripping up the tape and storming off.]

TINA
Kiss me again.

HADES
Why?

SHANNON
Do you have to have a reason for everything?

HADES
I don’t know. We’re just talking.

TINA
Coward.

HADES
Fuck you.

(Silence.)

SHANNON
Isn’t that why you hide down here?

HADES
No.

SHANNON
Then why?

(Pause.)

HADES
Because this is my home.

(Pause.)

TINA
Maybe I should go home for a while.

HADES
What are you talking about?

SHANNON
You’re not enjoyable to be around right now.

HADES
Well, I’m not happy.

SHANNON
Thanks for the tip.

HADES
You’re just going to abandon me?

TINA
What do you want me to do?

HADES
What if I kill myself while you’re gone?

TINA
You can’t. You live forever.

HADES
No shit. This is a hypothetical.

SHANNON
I’d be upset.

HADES
Would you feel guilty?

SHANNON
Probably.

HADES
Then don’t leave.

SHANNON
If I leave, then it’s just what I was meant to do, right?

HADES
You’re not meant to leave.

SHANNON
How do you fucking know?

TINA
You can’t always have what you want.

(Pause.)

HADES
Do you want anything?
(Silence.)

TINA
I don’t want you to change for me.

(Pause.)

HADES
I can’t.

SHANNON
I know.

HADES
I know you do. I think you’re a liar by the way.

SHANNON
Took you long enough to figure it out.

HADES
But it wasn’t what you said that gave it away.

TINA
No?

HADES
No.

TINA
Maybe you know me too well.

HADES
No.(Pause.) I think you’re a very confused god.

SHANNON
But I am still a god.

HADES
So am I.

TINA
Even without me?

HADES
Especially.

SHANNON
Then I should leave for your sake too.

HADES
You don’t get it.
SHANNON
I do get it, though.

(Pause.)

HADES
I’m very aware.

(Pause.)

HADES
Have you already made up your mind?

SHANNON
Why are you so unhappy?

HADES
I’m not the only one. But at least I can put it into words.

SHANNON
Just whisper it to me.

HADES
I have to go.

TINA
Why?

HADES
I’m bleeding.

TINA
Where?

HADES
My hands. It doesn’t matter. Just don’t leave.

(Pause.)

HADES
I’ll be back.

TINA
There was a time before—

SHANNON —this moment.

TINA
One sun, one sky, one road—

SHANNON
—One voice—
TINA — One road.

SHANNON
I walked down to the water—

TINA
— Looked out over the edge.

SHANNON
I saw something.

TINA
There was something in that water.

SHANNON
Look deeper-

TINA
— The divide.

SHANNON
The me that sees.

TINA
The water.

SHANNON
And I dove in.

TINA
I fell.

SHANNON
I couldn’t forget—

TINA
—I didn’t want to remember—

SHANNON
The divide.

TINA
The dive.

SHANNON
There was the water.

TINA
And the road.

SHANNON
I wanted the surface.
TINA
But I went deeper-

SHANNON
Deeper. I couldn’t face—

TINA [overlapping] —That face, that face—

SHANNON
But it followed me down.

TINA
The echo.

SHANNON
Hello?

TINA
Hello?

SHANNON
Followed me down.

TINA
Pulled me back.

SHANNON
Pull me back.

IX.

TINA
you can’t fall out of love
you crawl
stretching your hands
your arms
as far as they can stretch
stretching them away
every muscle tightening
and then going limp
to breathe
then tightening again
stretching
reaching
each finger
breaking
pulling away from the shoulder
stretching away from
yourself
from love
grasping for anything
that is in front of you
anything
something
that could work
it should work
you’ve reached so far
so hard
that it should
work
but it doesn’t
and you can’t explain why
except to say
that you can’t fall out of love
like you fell into it
you have to crawl out
while being pulled back
pulling yourself back

[TINA and SHANNON exit from opposite corners. A moment later, HADES
reenters. Seeing she has left, he begins slowly pulling up the tape on the floor while
video of the two PSEFs plays in the background. He exits, tape trailing behind him
as he goes.]

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