Species Female: Kipling Makes Him Weep

Years you said nothing

Mother fashioned you

Dickless son of Pitiful

People now death disrobes

In Virgin Splendor you demand

Respect?  Father, your voice is

Inaudible from disuse

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Fruit of Stones: Elysia in Hell

Scene Six.  Throne room.  WASIF, pale-skinned and bearded, sleeps upon a cot.  CHARON covers him with a blanket.  ELYSIA places a bonsai upon his desk.

ELYSIA:  Computer.

COMPUTER:  Yes, Mr. H.

ELYSIA, sighs:  Disguise gift until after I leave, please.

COMPUTER:  Yes, Mr. H.  The bonsai becomes a mug sporting an updated picture of the H children.

CHARON, comes over, stepping silently:  It’s taking him longer to catch up this time.

ELYSIA:  That’s what I thought.  I’ll talk to him.  Pauses.  How are you?

CHARON, cheerful:  Relearning old things and learning new things.  It’s good.

ELYSIA:  I’m glad.  She summons a cranberry-colored suitcase.  I thought I’d grab a few books and my old laptop.  Will you row me back across?

CHARON, exultant:  Row?  No, I’ve got something faster.  He skips off.

ELYSIA, shakes head, steps delicately in her heels to WASIF’s cot, considers:  Get up, you lout!  You’re so slow!  I spend my life waiting on you!

WASIF, wakes, focuses:  Elysia Eliza.

ELYSIA ELIZA, smiling:  Yes.

WASIF, voice hoarse from sleep:  Do you like living in the city?

ELYSIA ELIZA:  Very much.

WASIF, frightened:  I ran in a big circle and then the fountain was in front of me again.

E.E.:  You bathed in the water, yes?

WASIF:  Yeah, but it didn’t do anything.  It’s not magical at all!

E.E.:  Hm.  She sits on the edge of the cot.  You have been alive a very long time and you will live for a very long time.  Sometimes you…break a part of yourself off, but you persist.  She looks to where she left her suitcase, then back at WASIF.  I would suggest that you find your wife.

WASIF:  My wife?

E.E.:  She’ll be in a sunny field with her friends.  You come out of the earth with the most magnificent black horses she’s ever seen.

WASIF, sits up, brightening:  Really?

E.E.:  You were a real fire engine.

WASIF, swings feet out of cot:  How will I recognize her?

E.E., moving away:  She’ll be the tallest.  She likes it when you brush her hair back.

WASIF summons a floating mirror and assesses his appearance.  He rubs his bearded chin.

E.E., picks up suitcase:  Shaving is a good idea.  Bye, Dad.  She fades away.

The mirror falls, cracks.  WASIF stands, sending the cot scraping back.

Fruit of Stones: Wasif in Paradise

Scene Four.  Apartment.  Manager’s office.  The LANDLORD stationed at the front counter, holding a stuffed folder labeled “Tenants” and watching a television.

TELEVISION:  On their cattle ranch littered with machinery, this couple is determined to build an airplane from used car parts!  Previously on Love and Metaphysics

WASIF pops in, places a scale on the counter.  He takes out a feather, drops it on one pan.  The feather clinks.

WASIF:  Morning, Iron Man!  Can you tell me which is heavier, the feather or the other thing?

LANDLORD, mutes television, puts down battered folder:  What is this?

WASIF:  It’s a scale.  Can you tell me which is heavier, the feather or—

LANDLORD:  I see that it’s a scale and I see the feather.  But there’s nothing on the other side.  He looks around.  Am I on television?

WASIF:  Mm.  It’s a difficult question.  I get all sorts of answers.

LANDLORD:  Er, I guess that the feather is heavier, since there’s nothing on the—

The LANDLORD falls over dead.  “Tenant” folder dips off counter, spilling papers onto the floor.  WASIF leans over, studying the corpse.  He summons an eerie notebook, flips to a page, and scribbles in it.

WASIF:  E.

WASIF pulls off the man’s visage and throws it about himself.  He attempts to sort the spilled papers but gives up.  He waits.  Presently, ELYSIA H moves past.

WASIF, as LANDLORD:  Miss!  Miss Elysia!  Come over and talk to me.

ELYSIA approaches, confused.

ELYSIA:  Yes sir?

WASIF, as LANDLORD:  How are you doing?  Settling in?

ELYSIA, suspicious:  Doing well.  I suppose.  Got a mattress and a few chairs.

WASIF, as LANDLORD:  Good.  That’s good.  He pauses, uncomfortable.  Do you like living in the city?

ELYSIA darts around counter and grabs at WASIF.

WASIF, as LANDLORD:  Hey!

ELYSIA yanks off WASIF’s disguise.

ELYSIA:  Who the hades are you?

WASIF:  How did you know I wasn’t—He glances at the body.

ELYSIA, gasps:  You killed my landlord!

WASIF:  I’m Wasif.

ELYSIA:  You’re who?

WASIF:  I’m the—I mow the lawn for your parents.

ELYSIA, calming:  Oh.  I hear you do good work.

WASIF, pleased:  Really?

ELYSIA:  Smooth, symmetrical.

WASIF:  I’m glad someone thinks so.  Your father fired me.  I still don’t know why.

ELYSIA:  Doubtful.

WASIF:  What?

ELYSIA:  I doubt Father fired you.  Likely it was Mother.

WASIF:  Why?

ELYSIA, hesitates, looks over WASIF:  It’s not personal.  She just likes moving things around.  Throw out old sofas, blighted plants.  Rivers are filthy and invite mosquitoes…What are you doing here, posing as a mortal?

WASIF, tries to stall:  About that.  How did you know?  I’m told I should stick to my body type. They look at the corpse.  Should I have chosen someone—less portly?

ELYSIA:  It’s not that.  The landlord calls every female “mama.”

WASIF:  Mama?

ELYSIA:  Yes.  Also, I go by Eliza around here.

WASIF:  That’s nice.

ELYSIA:  Hm.

WASIF, blurts:  Your mother left your father and—he didn’t take it well.

ELYSIA, interested:  She left?

WASIF:  Computer says she went to her mother’s.

ELYSIA:  That’s to be expected.

WASIF, guiltily:  I only told him.  He fell apart.

ELYSIA:  He ran into the backyard and slapped around bushes to blow off steam?

WASIF:  No.  I mean he literally fell to pieces.

ELYSIA:  Mr. H?

WASIF:  Yes!  Your father.

ELYSIA, stares at him:  Why did you come to find me?

WASIF, confused:  Charon said—that you could get the computer to stop calling me “Mr. H” and—you could make the spreadsheets better.  Pauses.  It’s not what I thought it would be.

ELYSIA:  Mother used to say that we lived in a misbegotten wilderness.

WASIF:  It’s lonely.

ELYSIA:  What about Charon?

WASIF:  He’s out on the water all of the time, or he tells me about this or that maverick dreamer trekking through other dreamers’ dreams, disturbing people.  Something about angels on a pin— and really I don’t care.  He summons eerie notebook, flips through it.  They’re just names to me.

ELYSIA, looking at the LANDLORD’s body:  Obviously.  She holds out her hand.  Notebook.

WASIF hands her the notebook.  She flips to a page, scribbles.

ELYSIA:  Instructions on where to look for instructions.  User’s Guide.  Buried in desk drawer; probably still there.  It’s a bit like an old laundry machine.  Try a setting that you never select and the transformer burns out.

WASIF:  Laundry machine?

ELYSIA:  I’ve got a life here.  I don’t appreciate you coming here and casually killing people.  She hands back the notebook.  Please don’t come again.  She leaves.