Vandergraf enters the room with Joli. Vandergraf is holding a handful full of receipts. Joli is carrying a handful of scarves and a globe of the earth.
Ever since I started shopping in the menswear department, I've gotten compliments on my cooking.
Picasso would not have admired your need for unity.
Gray socks are more versatile than the others. Men's shoes are too predictable. I see the disorder in the most careful arrangement.
Reality is a three-piece suit.
That's the trendy way to say it.
Really, all I'm doing is trying to dehumanize art. That's not new. It's irresponsible.
Rehumanization is equally irresponsible.
(Pulls out a scarf and ties it around his left arm.)
Or a tourniquet.
I'm either mourning a life lost or attempting to save my own. What difference does either make?
(Sits at table noisily. RENSSELAER and Grizz do not pay attention. Now they are looking at each other, holding each other's hands.
Fashion. Life is fashion. Plague or its symbols are thrill-seeking.
(Picks up box. Looks at it slowly.)
A cheap engineer. Tinguely's destruction machines never worked right. And they called that art.
(Picks up a beer can, takes a long drink.)
The real artists never get the credit.
When I surgicate the dogs, that's art.
Surgicate? What kind of language is that?
He means "operates on and mutilates." They used to call it vivisection. Civilized countries outlawed it.
And it's legal here?
Of course. The government even gives universities, corporations and not-for-profits a lot of money to do it.
Jean Tinguely made all those sculptures that would blow up. I don't see how working in the dog lab is art.
I wish she'd shut up.
Tomorrow I'm doing open-heart surgery on a couple of labs. I'm gonna make them infarct--
Give them heart attacks?
--then sew them back up & stick them back on the treadmills. I want to see how long it takes them to have another heart attack.
That's about the most obvious kind of research I can envision. What's the point? Isn't it obvious? Do you learn anything at all that's new?
No. Of course not. But it gives us pre-meds a lot of practice in the OR.
That's what makes it art.
MOUCHIE, MALLARME, MONTAIGNE, AND MACHIAVELLI
(Sit up. Look appalled. Speak lines separately and in unison.)
I'm going to be sick. How can they do that?
Why don't we bite them to see how quickly they bleed to death. That will teach us something about dogs. Right?
That's assuming we want to say that human bleeding is a key to all animal bleeding. But humans are different.
Won't anyone stop them?
I'm going to be sick.
Oh. I get it now.
That's really cool.
I love art.
Salt. Pepper. Box. Pandora.
False groupings. A mistake. A false positive i.d.
Language loses its flavor.
It has to be opened up.
Now that's one archetype that won't go away.
(Vandergraft looks down at the table -- won't look at Joli.)
That's really what happened, isn't it. That's why you're here now.
Why don't you stop?
(moves box across the table.)
Wasn't it enough to pretend you loved me? It makes me sick to think about it. I didn't want to live. I felt so ashamed.
(Looks at Joli.)
Don't you know what that is?
(Puts hand to face. Watches Vandergraft, who is very uncomfortable.)
I'm not going to let you play "wise woman" to my "foolish young pup" role.
(pulls up chair closer to table.)
If you had been more in reality instead of in your fantasy, delusional world, maybe you could have convinced the cops that the person who ID'd you was wrong.
No one believes an old woman.
I believe you. Doesn't that count?
No. You're supposed to say, "But Graffi, dear, you're not an old woman -- and you especially weren't when that happened. You're a vibrant, alive, alluring mature woman.
You care more about that than if someone believes you or not?
People always believe the seductive charmers.
Or they never believe them.
What do I have to make you believe I love you?
Honey, a lot more than you're doing now.
I hate you, you cold-hearted wretch!
(Bursts into loud weeping and rises from table.)
And I'm supposed to believe that you love me now?
(Picks up the box and throws it on the floor.)
You torment me to no end, woman!
(Picks up box and puts it on the table.)
I'm so sick of having to prove myself!
(Resumes weeping and exits stage.)
(Softly, between sobs.)
Memory, memory, memory.
I want to bite the tar out of that monster who is so proud of his vivisection. Surgicate! I want to surgicate his throat!
Would it be okay?
We've gotten rid of two witnesses. Now if we can get rid of this woman, we can do it.
Who cares if we have a witness.
You want to be put down?
Like put to sleep?
They said I was the one who killed the sign painter and put her hands in a box, packed in salt.
Someone had been reading too much Arthur Conan Doyle or Edgar Allan Poe.
What could I have against signs, anyway?
I think they all disrupt themselves without any help from the local vigilante amputator. (Pause.)
I see this box, and I, like everyone else, expect it to contain someone's head, an ear, or a set of hands.
Unopened, the box is redolent with symbolic promise.
(opens the box. Turns it upside down. Something wrapped in gauze falls out.)
Tomorrow, I'm surgicating the two dogs we got in last week from a man who said he had a few left over from the litter his beagle had last summer.
I can't wait to operate on a small dog.
(Unwrapping the gauze.)
I can't believe I was so intoxicated by your flattery, and what I thought was your human warmth.
This will obviously tell me something about betrayal.
Metonymy for abandonment? Betrayal?
Being cut off?
I'm sorry. There was not call for that pun.
It's too late.
The rehumanization of art is irresponsible.
We don't need someone to glue some bad attitudes onto art and call it "culture" or "wisdom."
Was this really necessary?
(Holds up a small paw. A dog's paw. The gauze lies heaped up on the table.)
Ah, the resurrection motif.
I love it.
(Vandergraft exits stage left. Her exit is almost soundless.)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^continued in Part 4
LET DOGS LIE - Part 3
A play in one act
by Susan Smith Nash
copyright 1996 by Susan Smith Nash, all rights reserved
Please register all performances in advance by contacting Susan Smith Nash at email@example.com Also, please inquire about scholarships, grants, and prizes available for those who perform this play and provide information about the performance (reviews, photographs, copy of the program, etc.) Special incentives / prizes available to repertory groups using high school and undergraduate students. Please note that this play and others are collected in catfishes & jackals, published by potes & poets press, and available through Small Press Distribution. http://www.spdbooks.orgPerformance history: This play was first performed in February 1997 at St. Gregory's College in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The play was directed by Dr. Susan Procter. Many thanks and fond memories to everyone at St. Gregory's College, and to Father Lawrence, Father Victor, Sister Veronica. The wonderful people of St. Gregory's blessed my life in many ways -- ways I'm still discovering. The play was also performed at DC Art Center in Adams Morgan, Washington, DC, in April 1997.