A couple of months ago I wrote about my hitchhiking escapades.
I ended up hitchhiking a few more times after that fateful trip, again mostly out of necessity, but none quite as eventful.
A year later I had transferred to a different college (ironically in Baltimore County) and wound up taking a theater class for shits & giggles.
As a class requirement for Intro to Theater, we had to read Waiting For Godot and Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead.
I got inspired and wrote a play that semester.
I was like 21 when I wrote this.
KEEP ON MOVING
A ONE ACT PLAY
by Greg Barbera
Man driving car
SCENE I - THE ROAD
The play consists of Joseph standing on stage. He is holding a duffle bag and wearing jeans and a jacket.
The Man in The Car is projected on a screen. The entire conversation takes place in this "space" so that it appears that both players are not really talking to anyone but themselves.
(As the play begins, Joseph is standing on the side of the interstate. There are a few hedges scattered along the roadside behind him. Across the interstate are rows and rows of corn, which is all that can be viewed in either direction.)
JOSEPH: (speaking toward the screen. He is young, about 22.)
Damn, it's hot out. No wonder the crops are damaged. It's a shame they are brown and not that luscious green.
(He looks down and huffs with a slight tone of dejection and kicks the ground.)
At least they have some sort of fate — a destiny. I mean what is my fate? And where am I going? I mean I'm on a road and this road leads to somewhere but is that where I'm going to stop or will I keep on moving? But the roads are so plenty (pauses) does that mean that I'll never stop? (He whispers to himself) Never really get... anywhere?
(He looks up at the sun. It's high noon and the sun is beating down on the earth relentlessly. He turns his eyes away from the bright light and looks at the ground. He begins to walk, looking at his feet with an occasional glance up at the road/screen.)
JOSEPH: Well, if I stop then it is done. I mean my fate will be sealed. I'll be here and here is where I will remain... (muttering the last word under his breath) forever. Forever seems like a mighty long time. Especially here. Here's definitely not where I want to stay. But where am I going? I mean I know I'm on this road and this road leads to somewhere but is somewhere where I want to be? Is somewhere the end? And how will I know if that is the end? (whispers to himself again) Does it ever end?
(He bows his head in contemplation, then squats on his duffle bag and assumes the form of "The Thinker")
Think about it for a second. Nothing and I mean nothing ever ends. Does it? You read a book and there's this plot about a guy who kills his best friend. On the last page of the book it reads "The End". But then you think about it. How could anyone kill their best friend? And years later you're sitting in a cafe somewhere and two guys walk in, they appear as if to be best friends, and then Bam! You think about that story you read years ago and say to yourself "How could anyone kill their best friend?" And then you think about murder and how could any-body really take the life of another and all this because you read a book?! You begin to curse the author for invading your world and putting ideas in your head that can never be erased. 'The End'. What a joke.
(Joseph hears the sound of a car coming behind him. He gets up off his bag and turns around, glances down the road and sees a car in the distance. Once again we are seeing his point of view on screen as his head turns on stage. He then puts his thumb out in traditional hitchhiking manner. He begins to squint to try and get a look of the person inside the car. The car comes closer and drives by as the Doppler Effect takes over. Joseph turns back around and resumes walking.)
JOSEPH: I wonder where he's going? She's going? or if he/she is even trying to get somewhere. Could be one of those types who just floats around from here to there. A gypsy. A nomad. But that's not me. Nope. (shakes his head) I'm going somewhere. I'm going to do something with my life. (He says real emphatically, then trails off to lower tone of voice) But where am I going and when will I get there? Will it be days, months, and years? Well, as long as I'm moving I guess I'm getting closer to there, where ever it may be. I hope I like it when I get there. I kinda like it here. It's quiet and peaceful. But I'm sure this isn't there, I mean, here isn't where I want to go. At least I don't think so. It just doesn't feel right. I mean I just want it to feel right. That unexplainable voice inside that tells you "This is it. This feels right."
(Joseph stops again. This time to tie his shoe. As he bends over to tie his shoe, he sees another car coming down the road. It is just a speck on the horizon. After he ties his shoe he stands once again with his thumb out.)
JOSEPH: (whispering to himself) I hope this car is going where I want to go. Or at least in that direction. (dumbfounded) But what direction am I going in anyway? If they do stop to give me a ride, where will I tell them I'm going?
(the car slows down as it passes Joseph. It pulls over to the side of the road. The driver opens the passenger door. The MAN IN CAR is older, probably in his thirties with a beard and beer belly a.k.a a plumber.)
SCENE II-THE CAR
(the following conversation takes place on screen)
MAN: Where you headed?
MAN: Where ya going?
JOSEPH: (mumbles) The eternal question.
JOSEPH: uhhh, just down the road a ways (he pauses) And yourself?
MAN: To the next town.
JOSEPH: What's there?
MAN: Work I hope. I'm flat broke and need a job.
JOSEPH: What if there isn't any work? Where to then?
MAN: I dunno. I'll take it one step at a time. (he pauses) So are you also going to the next town?
JOSEPH: I suppose, but I 'm not really sure. I mean I'm going somewhere and its not here so that means that I'm headed in some sort of direction but if that is where I'm going to stay (pauses) well, I just can't say. What direction are you headed in?
MAN: (a little irritated) To the next town, but I already told you that.
JOSEPH: Right, right (nods his head and pauses) but I mean, you know, where is your fate headed? Where are you going? Where will you be when you stop going?
MAN: (more perplexed than irritated) When I stop, I'll be in the next town. That's about all I can tell ya.
JOSEPH: (smiling) Ahhh, nearsightedness. I suppose it is some sort of virtue, but I don't seem to possess it. I mean I want to know my destiny. You know, like where I'm gonna be when I stop. When it all ends.
MAN: (in a matter of fact tone) Well, pal, for me its gonna end when I die. (speaks in a tone of self revelation and shakes his head up and down) Yea! When I die is when it will all end for me.
JOSEPH: (agreeing) That's what I mean. Where will you be when you die?
MAN: In the ground.
JOSEPH: (chuckles) Yea, I see. But you've missed the point. In that instant before you die where will you be?
MAN: Probably in pain. That's where I'll be.
JOSEPH: Pain, hmm, but is that a place you can go to?
MAN: Hey man, I don't know about you, but I've been in pain before.
JOSEPH: How did you get there?
MAN: In pain?
MAN: (speaks loudly and quite animated) I hit my thumb with a hammer, that's how I got there!
JOSEPH: So you did that just to get to pain?
MAN: No idiot! It was an accident.
JOSEPH: So you didn't subconsciously do this to "get" to pain?
MAN: (vehemently) No! Pain isn't a place, it's a feeling.
JOSEPH: So you think that if I feel like getting some where then Iwill be there?
MAN: All I'm saying is that if you hit your hand with a hammer, it hurts.
JOSEPH: So if I think I am in this car then I am in this car?
MAN: Well. it sure looks to me like you are in a car. My car. For the time being, anyway.
JOSEPH: I see. So if I "feel" pain then I'm at "pain" and if I "feel" that I'm in a "car", then I am at that place, "car".
MAN: Whatever you say man.
JOSEPH: I guess I just don't know where I "feel" like going and that's why I can't get there. Because I just don't know. I just don't "feel" anything.
MAN: I bet you I could make you feel. (he leans over and thunks Joseph on the head with his finger.)
JOSEPH: Ouch! What are you doing?
MAN: Taking you to that place "pain". Did you "feel" it?
JOSEPH: I felt something.
MAN: That's pain. Although not much of it.
JOSEPH: There's more of it?
MAN: Sure! A lot more from where that came from.
JOSEPH: So you're admitting that it came from somewhere.
MAN: Hey pal, if you want to feel pain I can make you feel pain.
JOSEPH: I'm not that into pain but I would like to "feel" like I am going somewhere.
MAN: I feel like I'm going somewhere. I'm in my car and my car's moving...to the side of the fucking road to boot your sorry ass out.
JOSEPH: But where is your car going to stop?
MAN: In the next town, but you only asked me if I felt like I was moving, going somewhere.
JOSEPH: Of course your car could run out of gas and then it would stop and we would be out here in the middle of nowhere. And do we really know if we have moved? I mean the scenery hasn't changed.
MAN: But my odometer has.
JOSEPH: I don't "feel" like we are moving.
MAN: Are you still where you were when I picked you up?
JOSEPH: Um, I don't think so.
MAN: Then you've moved because you're no longer where you once were. Even if you haven't moved you're still no longer where you once were because you can't remember where you were before can you?
JOSEPH: Before what?
MAN: Before me.
JOSEPH: I was on the side of the road.
MAN: And before that?
JOSEPH: (He looks down and puts his head in his hand) Hhhhmmm, where was I before that?
MAN: What have you done?
JOSEPH: A little of this, a little of that. Nothing special.
MAN: So why now? Why the desire to "do" something. To go somewhere when you don't know where you've been?
JOSEPH: Because I feel it.
MAN: So you do "feel" !
MAN: Like what?
JOSEPH: I feel like I should be going somewhere to do something to get to that "place" so it all can end.
MAN: That's quite a task you've taken on my friend.
JOSEPH: So we're friends now? I've never had a friend.
MAN: Its just a phrase. You're not my friend.
JJOSEPH: I'm not?
MAN: (shakes his head) Afraid not.
JOSEPH: Then what am I?
MAN: A freak.
(There is a long moment of silence as the two stare at each other.)
MAN: (with a nervous chuckle) But that doesn't have to be a bad thing.
JOSEPH: Sure sounded like it.
MAN: Can't believe everything you hear.
JOSEPH: What can you believe in?
MAN: Nuthin'. there's just life...and death.'Course them Christians believe in life after death. Me, I'm like an elephant. I've moved around all my life, from small towns to big cities just trying to put food in my belly and find a warm place to sleep. Then when I'm all done and ready to leave this world, I'll just walk to that final resting place and close my tired eyes one last time.
JOSEPH: Just keep on moving.
MAN: And never stop.
MAN: But there are people who try to stop you. And try to keep you down.
MAN: To keep themselves ahead I guess. I mean if everyone keeps on moving, someone's got to fall behind.
JOSEPH: How do they keep you down? What do they do to stop you?
MAN: Anything they can. Anyway they can. Anyhow.
JOSEPH: That's harsh.
MAN: It sucks.
JOSEPH: So what do you do? I mean how do you deal?
MAN: Well, kid there's only one person in control of what goes on and that's yourself. You gotta make it happen, whatever it is.
JOSEPH: (shaking his head in heavy disbelief) Man.
MAN: Hate to burst your bubble kid, but it is time to "feel" the real world. The world where people kill people and fuck each other just to get to the top. It's a jungle and no one gets out alive. You got to kick and claw and scratch to get what you want and never turn your back on anyone because once they see that vulnerable spot, they chomp at it like a pack of wolves.
JOSEPH: The hunter and the hunted.
MAN: That's right kid. You're learning.
JOSEPH: "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
MAN:Yep, biggest one you got. And don't be afraid to swing that thing. Do what you got to do. Give yourself some room if you know what I mean.
JOSEPH: I think I get your drift.
MAN: Good! And don't forget it.
JOSEPH: "Only the strong survive."
MAN: The strongest.
JOSEPH: One life to live.
MAN: One and only one. Then you meet your maker.
JOSEPH: Who's he? Who's your maker?
MAN: God, boy! And it's a pretty safe bet that He's your maker too.
JOSEPH: You sure?
JOSEPH: I don't like to gamble.
MAN: Especially when the stakes are high. But you've got no choice.
JOSEPH: But I don't know about God.
MAN: Well, whether you know about Him or not boy, you can't argue with God.
JOSEPH: You can't?
MAN: No man.
JOSEPH: So you believe in God then?
JOSEPH: What do you mean sorta?
MAN: I have my doubts.
JOSEPH: So God only exists when you "feel" him to exist?
MAN: Uh, He's there when I need Him.
JOSEPH: So when you don't think about Him then He's not there.
MAN: That sounds about right.
JOSEPH: So if you don't think about me then I won't be here?
MAN: But if I stop thinking about you you'll still be here... (he points to the seat in his car) in my car.
JOSEPH: Try it.
JOSEPH: Stop thinking.
MAN: (quizzical) Stop thinking?
JOSEPH: About me.
(The screen goes black. Joseph is standing on stage.
There is one bright light on him. His duffle bag is by
his feet. His thumb is sticking out. The stage is black)