I was sitting at Denny’s one afternoon.
It was winter and the sun was going down.
So I guess it was around five PM.
I was sitting at the counter.
I was reading About Behaviorism
Down a couple of seats was this strange African-American female.
She kept smiling all weird.
And making little disturbances that kept causing me to put my head up.
She was eating chicken tenders and drinking a soda.
She seemed like she was on crack.
Which is common at the Youngstown Denny’s.
People of all color, genders, and ages on crack.
So it was Denny’s as usual.
While I was reading I heard in a whisper, “Hey you, come over here.”
It was the crazy lady; she wanted me to sit next to her.
I didn’t see why not.
I sat next to her. I don’t know if I can duplicate her language. It was a confused word salad. I’m not talking Ebonics; I’m talking she was all fucked up.
She said in a whisper, “Somebody was supposed to pick me up. I don’t know where they are. I’m missing a party. I was supposed to dance for these guys. And they were gonna pay me one hundred and fifty dollars. No one has come to pick me. My dude dropped me off. Yeah, one hundred dollars, can you fucking believe? I should be at that party. If you pay for my food, I’ll give you a blow job.”
My first thought was that she is one weird fucking human.
Then questions arose.
Is she an escaped mental patient?
Does she really want me to pay for her food?
Would she really give me a blowjob for paying for her food?
If I pay for her food, how much of a tip should I leave?
Do I want a blowjob from this crazy human?
I said, “Yeah, I’ll pay for your food for a blowjob.”
I paid for my coffee and her food and left.
We went to the dirt motel down the street.
It was one of those hotels where people live, sex is purchased, crack is smoked and spouses are cheated on.
It was perfect for this.
We went into the room.
She immediately took off her clothes and I took off mine.
She began sucking my dick.
But I couldn’t focus.
There was something terrifying about this whole event.
There was something terrifying about her.
She was crazy, on crack or something.
Something miserable about her.
Something too miserable.
I couldn’t get off.
She offered to put it in her pussy.
But she wasn’t wet enough.
I couldn’t understand her intentions.
Maybe that was the problem.
She might have been crazy and on crack but she still wanted sex, and that’s why she offered it because buying chicken tenders for somebody does not constitute prostitution.
Maybe she was schizophrenic or a feral child.
I lost the need for an orgasm and started thinking about the horror of living.
The horror of living exists for everyone. If anything ties the people of the world together, it is that unceasing horror.
I decided to leave.
Put my clothes on.
Offered her a ride home but she said she would stay in the hotel all night.
She asked me if I had a lighter.
I gave her the only one I had.
She lied on the bed with one light on.
She smiled at me.
I smiled back.
Got in my car and drove back to Denny’s to read About Behaviorism
That was a strange experience.
Noah Cicero © 2005.
Noah Cicero (born 1980) is an American novelist, essayist, playwright, short-story writer, and poet. He lives in Youngstown, Ohio, and is the author of two books of fiction: The Human War [2003, Fugue State Press, New York]. The Condemned [2006, Six Gallery Press, Pennsylvania]. His stories, poetry, and essays have also been published extensively on the Internet. His prose is spare, extreme in its directness and force, and addresses with brutal Absurdist humor the day-to-day lives of urban-wasteland characters who are painfully aware of the futility of their existence. He notably depicts crumbling urban America, in particular the bars and strip clubs of Youngstown, with a bleak black humour. The work, while highly accessible, is imbued with political critique and an existential examination of reality. He has cited Sartre, Hemingway and Beckett as central influences.His essays are both political and philosophical in nature, sometimes using the tools of psychology and philosophy to crucify those political leaders or followers he sees as acting in bad faith. Some of these essays have been written in collaboration with Ohio journalist Bernice Mullins.
A play in two acts by Tom McCarthy
Lights up to reveal the entrance to a house. This consists of a free-standing doorway (frame only) installed in the middle of the stage and facing along the stage right to stage left axis, i.e. at an angle of exactly ninety degrees to the audience. On the floor immediately to the doorway's left (stage right), a doormat bearing the word 'Welcome'. Several feet to the doorway's right (stage left), a bathtub. At the base of the doorway itself, a block of wood or metal three feet long and one and a half inches high. This must be firmly attached to the stage floor.
Enter, from stage right, Agamemnon, a man in his mid-forties. He walks from stage right towards stage left in a straight line that runs through the doorway. As he passes through the frame, he trips on the block and falls over.
Lights half up to reveal a set cleared of doorway, doormat and bathtub, i.e. consisting only of the block. Across the stage's back wall the events of Act One, which have been filmed by a camera intalled in front of the stage exactly in line with the doorway, are replayed by means of a video projector. The replay must take place in extreme slow motion, at such a speed that the sequence from Agamemnon's entrance to his arrival at a state of rest on the floor lasts forty minutes.
1. Agamemnon's fall must follow the same stage right to stage left trajectory as his walk, so that he falls through and from the frame towards the bathtub, coming to rest face down with his feet pointing back towards the doorway and his hands towards the bathtub.
2. If the video replay equipment being used for the production is not sophisticated enough to replay Act One in extreme slow motion within Act Two immediately, Act One should be filmed and the footage slowed down to the desired speed using appropriate editing sofware prior to the performance. In this case, the actor playing Agamemnon must ensure that his movements are identical both times he performs Act One.
3. For this version of Agamemnon, the camera must be placed among the audience seating exactly in line with the doorway, as stated. The director can, however, choose to stage different versions by placing the camera on the theatre's ceiling directly above the doorway pointing down towards the floor, in which case the play's title for that particular production should be amended to Agamemnon (Gods); or by placing it off stage left pointing across towards stage right, in which case the play's title should be amended to Agamemnon (Clytemnestra); or by using three cameras, one placed in each of the positions indicated above, in which case the play's title should be amended to Agamemnon (Cassandra).
Tom McCarthy is a writer and artist. He is the author of Remainder, Men in Space and Tintin and the Secret of Literature. His ongoing project The International Necronautical Society, a semi-fictitious avant-garde network that surfaces through publications, proclamations, denunciations and live events, has been described by Untitled Magazine as 'the most comprehensive total art work we have seen in years' and by Art Monthly as 'a platform for fantastically mobile thinking'. An ongoing archive of his work can be found here.