The Solitaire Psychic
Music prior to scene is On the Road Again by Canned Heat
They are all similar in age, with LEOPARD LOUISE being the eldest.
The stage is divided into two sides. Left is a patio reclining chaise lounge with a small table and a deck chair, there is an ash tray on the small table. Right is a road sign so worn down it is indistinguishable. Vegetation sporadically growing back and foreground.
MABLE and LEXINGTON walk on left wearing hiking clothes and backpacks. They walk wearily on and up to the sign, stop, look around, stare at each other, and remove their backpacks and lean them against the sign. They sit down and lean against the backpacks.
LOUISE walks on right in a pool robe carrying a beach bag and a radio recorder. She stops at the chaise, puts her bag down on the ground next to the table, and places the radio on the table. She turns it on, we only hear muted voices of a random radio channel. Lights fade out on her side.
Mable: I’m dead.
Lexington: That was a long walk.
Mable: How far would you say?
Lexington: At least 15 miles.
Mable: I can’t feel my legs.
Lexington: Want me to rub them back to life for you?
Mable: No, that’s ok. Do you know where you are going?
Lexington: Yes, it’s a motel, I have it marked on the map.
Lexington: How much farther can you go?
Mable: Long as you can.
Lexington: I can go a long time.
Mable: Ok. Just keep track.
Lexington: I will. (Pulls out a small notebook and pen and writes.) I’ve been keeping accounts of everything, mileage, food, water, money.
Mable: Any other accounts?
Lexington: My conversations with you, the meaning of what you say, or what it means to me.
Mable: I think that’s nice. Why do you do that?
Lexington: Seems like it is more real when I write it down. Also, I’m afraid I’ll forget. I’ve looked back on things I wrote in the past, and even though I remembered them when I read them, I forgot about them. The more time goes by the more I want to keep an accounting. Don’t you want to remember stuff?
(Mable tries to stand up and lays back down against her backpack.)
Mable: I’m dead.
Lexington: (Takes a large, thick book our of his pack, sits back down, opens it and begins reading.) Obie. Noun, one of a group of awards given annually, beginning in 1956, by New York City’s The Village Voice newspaper for achievement in the off-Broadway theater. Origin of Obie: pronunciation of OB, abbreviation of off Broadway. (Continues looking at the book.)
Mable: Reading the dictionary again?
Mable: Why again?
Lexington: Accounting words used for language. Want to learn them all. Doing it in alphabetical order. No words, no communication.
Mable: Oh, that’s right.
Lexington: obiter dictum
Lexington: obiter dictum, noun, plural. An incidental or passing remark, opinion, etc. In Law. an incidental or supplementary opinion by a judge in deciding a case, upon a matter not essential to the decision, and therefore not binding as precedent.
Lexington: (Puts the dictionary away and takes a small map out of his pack and looks at it.) Think you can go a bit further? There is a motel not far away.
Mable: I’m good.
Lexington: You can meet all sorts of people at Motels.
Mable: That’s good.
Lexington: Ok let’s saddle up. (Lexington gets up and puts on his backpack, looks at Mable still leaning against hers.) You coming?
Mable: Yes. Go ahead, I’ll catch up.
Lexington: You sure?
Lexington: Ok. (He hesitates then walks off.)
(Mable sits for a few moments, gets herself up. She looks at her backpack, then walks off without putting it on.) (Lights stage left fade.)
End of Scene
(Lights fade in stage right. Louise is lying on her chaise facing the house. She has sunglasses on and is smoking a cigarette. She looks toward us though we don’t know if she is looking at us or not because she is wearing sunglasses. After a minute lights fade out.)
(Lights fade in left. Lexington walks on, he is looking at the dictionary again, he stops and looks up and around.)
Lexington: Ob, Ob, Obituary. Obituary, noun, plural o·bit·u·ar·ies, a notice of the death of a person, often with a biographical sketch, as in a newspaper. Adjective of, relating to, or recording a death or deaths. (Pause.) Wow, a way of accounting for death, perfect.
(Mable enters, not wearing her backpack.)
Mable: Accounting for death?
Mable: Oh, that’s right, you’re on the O’s. There is no accounting for death.
Mable: Yeah but after the fact. Nothing about them have to do with preparation or the circumstances of death. You can’t even think about your own death for more than 39 seconds.
(Lexington digs in his backpack.)
No one really wants to think about death anymore.
Lexington: (Stops, looks up) What an odd thing to say. No one ever wanted to think about death.
Mable: Don’t want to define it. There is no construct for it. (Pause.) What are you doing?
Lexington: Looking for my stopwatch. Hey, where is your backpack?
Mable: I didn’t need it. I’m almost there.
Lexington: You sure about that?
Lexington: Ok. (Goes back to digging in his backpack.)
Mable: It is not preparing for death; it is preparing for life. Everything is sacred, everything should be respected as sacred. Many know this, and they know that death is a natural occurrence within life. Many fear death but death should be accepted.
Lexington: (He finds the stopwatch.) Yes! (He looks up at Mable, then to stopwatch, then to the audience, he sits transfixed, then starts the watch.)
Mable: Death is not a defeat. Some think the circumstances of death may change the death, but this isn’t true. Some think that people must have committed some kind of offense and they are deserving of death, this isn’t true either.
(While Mable speaks, separately Louise moves from her relaxed position to sitting up and reaches for a cigarette and lights it. Lights fade in right. She takes a couple of drags and puffs out the smoke. She reaches for her bag and pulls out a deck of playing cards in a box. She pulls the cards out of the box and begins to shuffle them; each shuffle makes a loud noise.)
Mable: We are spirits, we are having a human experience. The human experience is a cloak that we wear and take off.
Lexington: (Comes out of his transfixion and stops the stopwatch.) Oh man, only 17 seconds and I couldn’t think about my death anymore! How did you know about the 39 seconds?
Mable: I just know about stuff like that. I study death.
(Louise starts to deal the cards on her little table, creating seven rows of cards for a game of solitaire.)
Mable: Every spirit lives, every human life ends alone.
Lexington: I’m going to try again. (He resets the stopwatch and starts it again. Looking out at the audience transfixed.)
Mable: Keep trying, you’re not going to be able to do it.
(Louise has fully dealt the solitaire layout and begins the dealing from the leftover stockpile three cards at a time.)
Mable: If you really want to think about your death you would be better off thinking about your life, thinking about the people in your life, they are also spirits wearing the human experience, your spirits are connected and will always be connected.
(Louise plays and moves different combinations of cards on the table, she continues cycling the cards. Lights fade slightly.)
Mable: The number of spirits is infinite; the connections and combinations of spirits are infinite. All spirits are connected, and all humans are connected. Because we are here, we spirits are connected to the land.
(Lexington becomes physically agitated, shaking, his eyes open wide.)
The physical place where we walk is all there is for us, the space we inhabit is always changing.
(Lexington presses the stopwatch off and gasps.)
Leington: Ohhhhahhhhugh. (Looks at the stopwatch.) Damn! 35 seconds! Almost made it.
Mable: You’re not going to be able to do it.
Lexington: I know I can.
Mable: Well, it’s getting late in the day.
Lexington: Let’s get going. I can do it on the way.
Mable: Do you know where you are going?
Lexington: I already said yes. It’s a motel (pulls the map out and points at a spot) here.
Mable: (Looks at the map.) I know places like this.
(Lexington puts his backpack on. Looks at Mable who is standing ready to go. He walks by her and heads off left.)
Lexington: You coming?
(Mable follows him off left. Lights fade out.)
(Light fade in entirely on Louise who finishes playing solitaire.)
Louise: Huh, I won.
(She puts all the cards together in a neat deck and puts them in the box. She takes out a cigarette, lights it and puffs. She looks over at the radio and picks it up. She studies it and set it down. Thinks for a few moments.)
Louise: What should I talk about that no one talks about? I don’t have any addictions. Not really. Nothing harmful at least. What did I say before? (She presses play.)
Recorder: I don’t have any addictions. (Louise takes a drag of the cigarette.) So, there’s nothing to talk about there. I haven’t killed anyone, or purposely hurt anyone. I have dreams but not as many as before. I’m very happy, oh this is stupid…(There is a pause and nothing else is heard from the recorder.)
Louise: I’m very happy. (Laughs.) I think I just said that for the recording. It’s not that I’m not happy, it’s just not a sustainable state of being, unless you’re an idiot of some sort or another. The thing is that no one is paying that much attention to others when they are thinking about themselves.
(Pause. Louise takes a drag of the cigarette. Louise thinks for a moment and presses record and speaks into the recorder.)
You have to ask others to know and then you need to listen to what they say and how they say it. It takes an extra moment and you have to listen. Most people ask how you are but don’t really listen to your answer. A lot can be understood in that answer.
How are you?
(Pause. In different iterations.)
How are you?
I’m fine, how are you?
I’m fine, how are you?
(Pause. Louis stops recording, switches off the recorder.)
(Enter right Lexington and Mable soon after onto Louise’s side of the set. Louise has her back to them and continues. Louise takes a drag of the nearly finished cigarette. Lexington and Mable stop and look at Louise, they think she is talking to someone.)
How are you?
Lexington and Mable: I’m fine. How are you?
(Louise turns around quickly.)
Louise: How long have you been standing there?
Lexington: Just a moment.
Mable: Not long at all.
(Louise puts out the cigarette in the ash tray vehemently as she looks at them.)
Lexington: Who were you talking to?
Louise: Nobody, was making a recording.
Lexington: I do that. But in a notebook.
Mable: He accounts.
Lexington: Yep. Have been going through the dictionary too, beginning to end. We’ve been walking a long time.
Mable: I’m dead.
Louise: (Takes a cigarette out of her pack and lights it. Looks long at Mable.) You two together.
Mable: Traveling together.
Louise: That’s it?
Mable and Lexington: Yes.
Lexington: How about you?
Louise: I’m always here.
Mable: I see you have cards.
Louise: Playing cards. I play solitaire and I’m a psychic.
Lexington: The solitaire psychic.
Mable: You use the playing cards to tell fortunes.
Louise: Now you know I don’t do that; you can’t tell fortunes with playing cards.
Lexington: How do you do it then?
Louise: (Flicks her ash into the ashtray.) With cigarette ashes.
Lexington: Really? Does it work?
Louise: Ask her.
Lexington: Mable do you know, know…
Mable: It’s possible. I’m not certain that I remember you.
Louise: We travel in the same circles, I’m certain I remember you. (Looks at Lexington,)
And what’s your name?
Louise: Nice to meet you…Lexington. How are you?
Louise: That’s good to hear.
Lexington: That’s what you were doing when we walked in. What were you talking about, or recording before we came in?
Louise: I was talking about people. Knowledge and self-knowledge. Interest in others, paying attention to others, knowing what others think you think of them or what they think of you. I was talking about greetings and how earnest people are when they ask, “How are you?”
Mable: How are you?
Louise: (Takes a drag of her cigarette.) I’m fine.
Sorry if I don’t ask how you are, I already know.
Mable: I imagine you do.
Lexington: (Wanting to diffuse the tension.) Would you read the ashes for me?
Lexington: Great! That’s great!
Louise: But we will have to be alone when I do it.
Lexington: Mable you want to check in?
Mable: I’ll leave you two to it.
Lexington: Thank you.
(Mable walks off right. Looks back a moment and exits. Louise puts out her cigarette.)
Louise: She’s already checked out.
Louise: So you’re ready?
Louise: Have a seat. (Lexington sits down in the chair on the other side of the table. Louise lights up another cigarette.) What do you think this is about? What do you know about psychics?
Lexington: (Goes into his backpack and pulls out his dictionary.) (Reads.) 1. Relating to or denoting faculties or phenomena that are apparently inexplicable by natural laws, especially involving telepathy or clairvoyance. “psychic powers” 2. relating to the soul or mind.
Louise: You had to go into a dictionary for that? Here, a little bit of number 1 and more of number 2.
Lexington: It’s more exact with the dictionary. But I would have said it’s someone who looks and speaks about things differently than most people.
Louise: That’s pretty good. But I look more at the spirits that are around us, around you. The dictionary gives you the words that describe something, I give you the order that they should go, I give you the real case of what’s happening around you.
Lexington: Funny that you say real. This doesn’t seem real.
Louise: I know. You know how people will act and say things and use words that are not really what is happening, not what you can see, and you know better.
Lexington: Yes, I know what you mean.
Louise: The way they use words is done for convincing themselves of something they need to protect.
Louise: And none of this is important. (Takes a drag of the cigarette.) What’s important is my Psychic Eyes and what they can see. I’m going to tell you what is around you and what words you should really listen to.
Louise: (Puts the cigarette out in the ash tray. Looks at the ash tray carefully, moves it around a bit. Looks up at Lexington.) Now that makes sense.
Louise: You don’t know where you are dear.
Louise: And you don’t know about her. (Motions off to where Mable exited.) Your mind wanders to her and back, you think: what if? We both know it’s true and there is nothing bad about that. Only you don’t know about her, but I will tell you when we get there.
Lexington: We have been traveling together for a while now.
Louise: I know you think that. Let’s talk about your life, (she studies the cigarette ashes) or better your existence.
Louise: Here is the thought process: What if you weren’t here?
Lexington: But I am here.
Louise: Yes, but it’s like a test, you think you are here because you know you are not not here. Think about that moment, like in a dream, when you are passing from sleep to awake, from dream to consciousness, think about that moment when you are passing between each state.
Lexington: Ok, I’ve got it.
Louise: That, that, is where you are actually.
Lexington: What does that mean? Should I change something?
Louise: Nothing to change, just a state of being to be aware of. It is a different perspective; it might change the choices you make or maybe how you make them.
Lexington: What kind of choices?
Louise: What you spend time doing, what work you do, what you do that you enjoy, what you do for entertainment. (Pause.) It’s all entertainment really.
Lexington: It’s all entertainment.
Louise: Pretty much. (Pause. Examines cigarette ashes.) There are a few aspects that are kind of interesting.
Louise: You have a very interesting destiny. Something that you’re going to do.
(Mable enters slowly and stops at the edge of the light. Lexington notices but stays engaged with Louise.)
Louise: You’re going to discover what happens to people when they die.
(Mable comes forward into the light. Lexington takes notice.)
Lexington: You’re back.
Louise: Not really.
Mable: How is Lexington going to know what happens to people when they die?
Louise: You know. I know and why don’t you tell Lexington who you are?
Mable: I have. Or I told him about spirits and human life.
Louise: But you didn’t tell him about you.
Lexington: What is it Mable?
Mable: I don’t want to admit it. I don’t want to scare him.
Louise: Of course you don’t dear and you don’t have to.
Lexington: I actually do have a way, a method to understanding. An experiment that Mable gave me the idea for. Mable said that you can’t think about your own death for more than 39 seconds. (Lexington goes for his backpack and takes out the stopwatch. He holds the watch up and starts it. He stands looking out.)
Louise: You probably don’t want him to get past 39 seconds?
Mable: He can’t.
Louise: (Looking at Mable.) You are only on one side of the equation, the side of death and spirits. Lexington is on the side of life and the in between. He already has this world’s definitions, perceptions and an understanding of how to create an understanding, a testimony for the living. (Looks at the ashes.) When I look at the ashes, I can see it, his life and then his discovery will make sense. It’s science, physical science, it will lead him to the answers. We are able to understand the stars, the earth is round, cure disease, measure the speed of light, why wouldn’t there be a way of describing what happens to us at death. It might be good for you.
Mable: How’s that?
Louise: He might be able to give you more definition, more of an explanation of where you are, what you are in.
Mable: But I don’t need that, I’m fine the way things are?
(Lexington’s eyes get bigger; he seems to struggle.)
Louise: Are you sure?
(Mable backs out of the light. The lights flicker.)
Mable: I’m fine.
(Lexington sways back and forth, moving with each second that passes.)
Mable: I’m fine.
(Mable vanishes, the lights go out, she is no longer there. The lights go up, Lexington and Louise are in the same position as when Mable vanished. Pause. Lights out.)