Unfinished and unedited...here is the scene alluded to in the previous post.
(SKIRIBENT and A PUBLISHER speak excitedly together in a restaurant.)
SKIRIBENT There’s nothing more to say about it. I won’t change a word. After all this time, far from that old country, I’ve come to see the amazing beauty of things. To be generous and see the world as generous. To see the world as conspiring at every turn to bring us joy and pleasure and laughter. (He opens a page of his book.) You see, this began as a story about a woman I had seen when living in a very hot country. But instead, now, you see… it turns into a tale about flowers and music. Stories about women always end with suicide or sex, which, honestly, I can see as a form of violence and suicide. There is no making love in the world of the novel. Until now. For I have invented it. You see? Nothing at all distasteful, but it isn’t chaste either. I’m not using sex for a thrill, but not avoiding it either. It is simply the best description of the act of lovemaking I am capable of, and I haven’t seen the like. (He closes the book.) I know I’m being ridiculously immodest.
PUBLISHER It’s well earned. Listen, I don’t want blow smoke up your ass…
SKIRIBENT No, it’s all right. My ass adores pipe smoke.
PUBLISHER This work is strange, because of its beauty, and that has merit. The truth is, Skribent, the arts are addicted to depression. There is something solitary about most writers, and that leads them to think of this as a universal experience. As if the whole world, as if everyone, went through their lives thinking deeply about human experience. As if no one had a happy marriage or children that turned out well.
SKIRIBENT Precisely! Precisely!
PUBLISHER Of course there are dangerous things, there are distant women who want us to think of them as untouchable. There are dark corners and dark places. But could that make up the entire world. As far as I can tell, the sun casts more light than the moon, if you catch my meaning.
SKIRIBENT I do. I absolutely do. And I promise you, it is a new experience for me to think this way. Over the last few years, I’ve come to admire the sun, and the things it shines on. I’ve come to see glass bottles and cobble stone and sweat and the odors of the city in a generous and joyful way. (Pause.) The truth is...when my spirit lifted, for a while, I thought it was the end of me as a writer. Absolutely the end. I almost found my happiness counterproductive to my own art. Can you imagine? It’s the sort of thing they teach you in grade school, you know? The tortured, smelly fart of a man, who hates the newspaper and writes about the stink and the grime and the unfairness of it all. All humor is sarcasm, or it is light. All knowledge is made proof of my derision of other ideas.
PUBLISHER What turned the corner for you?
SKIRIBENT I wrote a story about a Mermaid. And it was beautiful and made of cotton. The way a young girl, with shimmering fins, find the heart of a boy from the land. And I will tell you, it took every effort for me not to end it badly. But then, I said to myself, “You don’t see the world this way!” I knew that, damn it to hell, the world could be as lovely as I wanted it to be. So I wrote an ending where they shared a kiss, and she grew legs and all was right. All was joyful.
PUBLISHER Why don’t you show me that story?
SKIRIBENT Truthfully...I’m unhappy with it. It’s clumsy. But, sometimes you must go through the pain of inferior art to perfect yourself. And now, at last, I’ve written something I truly think expresses joy, without self-consciously apologizing for it. I refuse to apologize for my happiness.
PUBLISHER Well, of course, a toast to happiness. It will sell like shoeshine in a shitstorm! You’ve finally found something rare and cornered the market. This will make people smile. Even scholars!
SKIRIBENT Well...let’s not hope for winter in the desert. (Their glasses touch.)
PUBLISHER Skiribent, my dear, may I ask you one thing?
SKIRIBENT My friend, you’re publishing my book?
PUBLISHER I am.
SKIRIBENT You may ask.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.