Monthly Archives: February 2013

Heck @ Powells Cedar Hills Thursday, Feb 28th, 7pm!

Yes, see Heck: live!
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New Ways to Let All Heck Loose!

It’s always an exciting time here at the Basye™ household when the UPS man/woman/other delivers those big boxes from Random House full of pre-release goodies! This week, I got:

The paperback version of Snivel: The Fifth Circle of Heck (to be released Tuesday, February 26th…seen here with its pulp siblings);

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• the hardcover of Precocia: The Sixth Circle of Heck (also to be released Tuesday, February 26th, seen here alone and with its sturdy, hard-bound siblings);

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• the Spanish version of Heck, Donde Van Los Chicos Malos (this I got a while ago, actually, but it deserves a mention);

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• and the Danish version of Heck called Hulen, translated by the wonderful Soren Kristensen, available wherever odd Danish children’s books are sold.

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Behold! And be sold!

The World is Flatulent: A Play

CHARACTERS

ULRIC SKELDERGATE: AN EARNEST YOUNG MAN

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE: A MOTHER

TYBALT THE TONSOR: A MEDIEVAL DOCTOR

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE: A CLEVER YOUNG GIRL

ROWAN SKELDERGATE: A YOUNG BOY

AUNT AYLETH: AN OLD WOMAN

UNCLE KARGETH: AN OLD MAN

SETTING

A squalid, crowded miserable peasant hovel.

TIME

Medieval times (not pre-evil or post-evil but medieval)

SCENE 1

A wretched old woman, GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE, opens the door of her equally wretched Medieval hovel. It is crowded with rats and relatives.

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

Oh, Tybalt the Tonsor, how good of you to come! Worried, were we!

(A doctor/tonsor/dentist, TYBALT THE TONSOR, awaits outside.)

TYBALT THE TONSOR

The Penny Pie Turnpike was murder. Literally, they killed my coachman. Luckily my horse, Van Gelding, knew the way, what with you losing so much of your family recently.

(GWENDOLYNN nods sadly)

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

Aye, God Hisself mustn’t be too happy with we Skeldergates. We’ve lost a lot of limbs on our humble tree. Can I take your coat?

(The man enters the home and eyes GWENDOLYNN with suspicion)

TYBALT THE TONSOR

You’ll give this one back, I trust? You know what they say: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, really, just cut it out already…

(GWENDOLYNN nods reluctantly)

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

Of course, Mister the Tonsor sir…

(GWENDOLYNN leads the doctor to the corner of the home. Two old people, UNCLE KARGETH and AUNT AYLETH, are in the corner. UNCLE KARGETH is coughing and shaking, obviously very ill. By his side is a young man, ULRIC SKELDERGATE. The young man rises and meets the doctor and his mother.)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Mum, is Uncle Kargeth going to be okay?

(TYBALT THE TONSOR tends to UNCLE KARGETH)

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

That’s for the Tonsor to decide. But I’m sure he’ll be fine. It’s not like it’s the plague or anything.

TYBALT THE TONSOR

It’s the plague…I’m afraid I’m too late and I’m afraid there’s not much I can do. I’m also afraid of snakes…

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

He’s in so much pain. Isn’t there anything you can do for him?

TYBALT THE TONSOR

Of course! I am a professional doctor, barber, dentist, and—for a poultry sum—a certified chicken inspector.

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

I’m sorry if I insulted your credentials. I’m just a your average, run-of-the-mill teenage mother with sixteen children and a life expectancy of about two more months, God willing.

(Two children, PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE and her younger brother ROWAN, enter the hovel, carrying water. PHROWENIA assesses the situation and sets down her pail of murky water)

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Uh-oh. This doesn’t look good. Where Tybalt the Tonsor goes, death is sure to follow.All Tybalt needs is a black robe and a scythe and he could carry the souls of the dead himself and save Death the trouble…

(GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE shushes her daughter)

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

Hush, Phrowenia! Incorrigible child!

TYBALT THE TONSOR

Yes, well I want Uncle Kargeth to take a hundred leeches, externally, for two weeks. Side effects could include, well, having less blood since that’s what leeches do—drink your blood. Side effects could also include sudden death or feeling pretty good. It could really go either way at this point. Here, take this Luggard’s-brand Leeches pen and tote bag. I’ve got tons of them.

(PHROWENIA rolls her eyes)

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Speaking of leeches…

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

Thank you, Tybalt the Tonsor sir…

TYBALT THE TONSOR

Now about payment…what insurance plan do you have again?

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

Cross Your Fingers insurance.

TYBALT THE TONSOR

Ah, yes. Well, they’re good people. ‘Just like your dead neighbor, Cross Your Fingers is there…’

(ULRIC SKELDERGATE wipes his eyes and leaves his uncle’s side. UNCLE KARGETH shakes, his eyes rolled up in his head.)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

So…will Uncle be with the angels soon?

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

Mmm…angels might be overstating things. But he will be in a better place.

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

I mean, the odds of the place—any place—being better are incredibly high.

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

But he’s the closest thing I have to a father. Ever since father was eaten by those wolves…

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

That was brutal. All that huffing and puffing.

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

(Kneels on the ground)

You’re the man of the house now, Ulric. So I suppose it’s time.

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Time? What’s time?

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Time is the continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole…

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

Shhhhh! Well, your uncle, aunt and I—

(ROWAN SKELDERGATE jumps up from his uncle’s side)

ROWAN SKELDERGATE

Uncle Kargeth is gone!

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

—Your aunt and I are very proud of you and now—as the man of the house— it’s time for you to inherit the family treasure.

(GWENDOLYNN shoots a meaningful look to AUNT AYLETH)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Treasure? We have a treasure? All this time we lived like pigs and we had a treasure?!

ROWAN SKELDERGATE

I wish I was a pig! Then if I got sick, I could be cured and become bacon!

TYBALT THE TONSOR

(Rubbing his chin and staring at ROWAN)

Hmmm…I might want to check up on the boy later…

(AUNT AYLETH brings something covered with a rag to ULRIC)

AUNT AYLETH

Here you go, little Ulric.

(ULRIC removes the cloth and stares at the object. It’s a grubby jar.)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

An empty jar? This is my big inheritance?

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

It’s not just a jar. It’s, well, your family history. It’s your family…

(ULRIC shakes his head with disbelief and turns to TYBALT)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Doctor, I may have another patient for you soon. My mother obviously has a fever…

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

I’m as serious as the pox! See, this jar is filled with the last…um, emissions of every male ancestor you have. Uncle Kargeth. Your father, Merek. His father Borin, and brothers Sadon, Terrowin and Forthwind. Then there’s their father Althalos, and his brother—

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

I get the idea. So this jar contains their last gasps?

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

No, not exactly. More like their last…gas.

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Gas? As in…farts?

(GWENDOLYNN nods)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Why…why would anyone save their farts in a jar? Much less leave it as some kind of inheritance?

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

I…I don’t know, really. It’s a Skeldergate thing I guess. They’ve just been passing wind and passing it on when they passed on for generations now.

(ULRIC takes a whiff from the jar)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Eeeewww…it smells like the Quorum of Elders. Full of old farts!

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Maybe the tradition comes from Pythagorus.

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Pythagorus? What’s that?

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

He’s not a what he was a who. The ancient Greek philosopher. Pythagoras sought to interpret the entire physical world in terms of numbers and founded their systematic and mystical study. He is best known for the theorem of the right-angled triangle. He also thought that by eating beans you might accidentally fart out your soul and die!

(An awkward silence fills the hovel)

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

They can’t all be home runs, now can they?

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Okay, then. So what am I supposed to do with this dumb jar?

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

Save it. Cherish it. And, whenever you are feeling alone in the world, just think about this connection you have with your ancestors.

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

With their last farts.

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Or, Pythagoreanly speaking, their souls.

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

Yes! Hopefully it will give you comfort in these dark ages.

(TYBALT THE TONSOR collects his gruesome medical instruments. The man stares down at a crowd of soiled rats nibbling a sack of grain.)

TYBALT THE TONSOR

Interesting. There are always so many rats in homes struck by the Black Death. Rats must be innately compassionate and can sense the plague festering within those stricken. Perhaps I’ll see about prescribing rats in my patients’ homes, to help detect and ward off disease.

(GWENDOLYNN rises, dusts off her hands and shows the doctor the door)

GWENDOLYNN SKELDERGATE

You are indeed brilliant, squire. That is probably why you’re the hamlet’s leading barber-slash-dentist-slash-doctor-slash-chicken inspector.

TYBALT THE TONSOR

Well, ta-ta for now. Hopefully we’ll not be seeing each other for sometime…unless you are in want of a haircut, of course…Or have a chicken in need of inspection…

(ULRIC pushes past the doctor and goes outside)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

I need some air.

(As the doctor rides away, ULRIC sighs outside of his disease-ridden hovel. He stares up at the smoggy London sky. He wipes his eyes and stares into the jar.)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Father, grandfather, uncle…I wish you were here. I mean, not just your stinky farts in a jar.

(PHROWENIA joins her brother outside)

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

You know, as long as there’s someone alive to remember you, you’re never really dead.

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

That’s deep.

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Questioning the world around you is like digging a hole in your brain that aches to be filled. You just have to be careful that people don’t dump their trash in it.

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

How did you get to be so smart? Girls can’t go to school. You know, because their brains are frail and bad spirits would posses them if they knew things.

(PHROWENIA sighs)

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

I just keep my eyes and ears open. That way, the whole world is school.

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

But there’s just so much…yuck in the world. Most of the time I just feel like shutting my eyes and ears. How can you keep yourself so open?

(PHROWENIA wraps her arm around her older brother)

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Love. That’s how we keep ourselves open to the world without the bad stuff getting to us. I mean, what would we be without love?

(ULRIC shrugs)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

I guess we wouldn’t be at all, really, if the animals in the barn are any indication. (sigh) I just don’t know what to do. It’s such a big responsibility, being the head of the family and all. And I guess I should be touched that I have my ancestors here in a stinky jar, but I’m not. It just seems wrong. And that all I’ll end up being is a fart in a jar some day.

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

You love them, right?

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Of course I do. They’re me, in a way.

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Then, logically speaking, if they are you, then they’re always with you, right?

(ULRIC shrugs)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

I guess.

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Then I think you know what to do.

(ULRIC smiles)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

If you love something, set it free?

(PHROWENIA smiles)

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

That’s very enlightened of you.

(ULRIC opens the jar and waves it in the air above his head)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

It’s not like Medieval London could smell any worse.

(The two children laugh. Meanwhile, GWENDOLYNN, AUNT AYLETH and ROWAN drag dead UNCLE KARGETH out of the hovel.)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Should we be laughing when the Black Death just visited our family?

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

At least death reminds you that you only have so much time to laugh. Only so much time to be a kid.

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Yeah, only so much time to be a little fart.

(ULRIC lets one loose. PHROWENIA scowls and waves at the air.)

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Wow, you sure did bare your soul there. I’m surprised you have any left! C’mon: let’s play ring around the rosie! Did you know that nursery rhyme is about the plague? The rosy rash is a symptom of the disease, and posies are carried to ward off the smell, and the ashes, well you know…

(ULRIC and PHROWENIA hold hands and twirl)

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

How do you know all of this?

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Duh. I’m hovel-schooled.

(The two children spin themselves dizzy)

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

You know, they say that the world isn’t flat as previously believed…

ULRIC SKELDERGATE

Maybe. But the world sure is flatulent.

PHROWENIA SKELDERGATE

Good one!…and we all fall down!

(The two children fall to the ground, panting and laughing)

THE END