THE BODY DRAMA – Episode One

Posted: December 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


We begin with first image of bioluminiscent photoplankton. Raucous cello exordium in the underscoring fading to the sound of bagpipes.



A wail. An empty room that begins as a nodule of light, then morphs into other shapes based on moment-to-moment requirements. A young man. Naked under the medical bed sheet that he holds over himself like an adequate suit. This is OLIVER. At the opposite of the room is ANGIEKE, his birthmother, a former Croatian beauty queen. This is the sixth day she has abandoned her beauty regime.

She takes a vat of mint jelly from her purse, smears it profusely all over her son’s face. Categorically and unmistakably a grotesque act.

ANGIEKE Breathe. Doesn’t count as a remedy unless you breathe. . .

OLIVER I know, but it’s getting in my eyes! It stings!

ANGIEKE That’s why I sliced these cucumbers; to neutralize the sting once I’m done with the mint petroleum mask. So here: you take these, and you stick each one over of your eyelids for about 5 minutes. It’ll take the zing out of the sting out like the prick out of a cactus, but… only when you’re ready.

Sliced cucumbers show perfectly lit against cream towel. Nodule of light expanding, stage one.

OLIVER You thought a little bit of everything, haven’t you?

ANGIEKE I don’t think I like the way you said that.


ANGIEKE I said I don’t think I like the way you said that.

OLIVER Maybe I am just very bad at being a hospital patient.

ANGIEKE That sounded like the kind of thing a bad hospital patient says.

OLIVER Well, what is the alternative: “you’re doing a very good job at this?”

ANGIEKE I’m not a maid. And I did not come to this country to be a maid. I went to Columbia the college, not the country.

OLIVIER It pays to be acknowledging. I know that. I’m not a monster. I just meant that you’re being very much a… Mom.

ANGIEKE And do I have a right to that right now?   To be your mother? I’m asking you, do I have a right to be your Mother, when you’ve already got a whole family out there in the waiting room for you?

OLIVER They’re sick of me, anyway.

ANGIEKE You’re all they’ve been talking about. I can’t help but feel in the way. I’m in the way.

OLIVIER You’re not in the way. Of course you’re not in the way.

ANGIEKE My, Melanie’s been the queen of the telanovelas since we’ve been here! You didn’t tell me that she’s planning to join the Peace Corps in Patagonia! I guess that I’ve been with her for the last 72 hours that I’ve just naturally followed suit. How’s this for a coincidence: all the characters on Spanish telenovelas are cancer patients! Did you know that? It’s like we are being trained to have patience for cancer.

Are you ready for everybody else to come back in?


ANGIEKE There’s 6 of them, Oliver. 6 of them total.

OLIVER Yes, but I don’t know them. And 2 of them have heard me cry.

ANGIEKE There’s nothing wrong with hearing a grown man—

OLIVER No. You don’t understand. I have now cried in front of two men. In one day. I will see them in one year.

ANGIEKE What are you so afraid of? That they’ll find out about all that homosexual stuff?

OLIVER I’m not a homosexual.

ANGIEKE You are. Well, more than them. And I mean, they do know, honey.

OLIVER Figuratively, it couldn’t matter less.

ANGIEKE That you’re a crybaby?

OLIVER A crybaby?!

ANGIEKE A nincompansy.  Whatever it is you think you are 18 years later. You’ve still got nothing to say to Ron. I heard what happened. Thought he was trying to drown you in the pool when you were 10. He wasn’t. That man is your cousin. He’s here! You cried, and he’s still here. So I won’t let you overlook who’s showing up for you.

OLIVER I did that thing. I wept in front of them. Large, excruciating yelps from the soul. It wasn’t subtle. They watched me do that thing, too, until it was over.

ANGIEKE You had just gotten your diagnosis.

OLIVER Large Non-Hodgkins B-Cell Lymphoma with Superior Vena Cava. That’s like getting four majors from Northwestern.

ANGIEKE And Bernie is a helluvalot more sensitive that you’re giving him credit for.

OLIVER Sensitive? You think I’m not giving Bernie enough credit for being sensitive.

ANGIEKE Yeah, I think Bernie is trying to show me that he loves me. Which is the same, very often, to being constantly distraught. You see, his mother had the same oncologist as you.

OLIVIER Bernie’s Mom had Dr. Kaufman?



ANGIEKE Like, 3 years ago.


ANGIEKE Lung cancer. They lost her. And he’s trying to not make a big deal out of how hard it is to even take an elevator to this floor.

OLIVIER Oh My GOD. Then why are you making him do this? You’ve only been dating him for 6 months! What do you think you’re trying to put him through, knowing something like that?

ANGIEKE (Speaking, as if the answer is a game.) Faith.

OLIVER I have other theories. I think you are trying to see if a younger man can take care of you… now that the only man that ever did…

ANGIEKE Robert, as a man, was nothing. As a father, even less. Never did a thing for us that I can think of, except maybe leave that fondue machine…

OLIVIER Me. I’m talking about Me. How’s a 28 year old guy supposed to most naturally react in a situation? He has a decent year where he finally gets some flight in his wings, some love and protection, some big-picture autonomy and the ability to finally be to afford things. Like local produce clubs. A good steak. His own shoes even. And then one invariable swing from the left. No—a swat!

(Interprets this physically)


ANGIEKE Okay, would you please stop screaming that?!

OLIVIER (As if having swatted something.) Swat. Ugh. So-what…

ANGIEKE You called me on your last birthday, Oliver. Your 27th Birthday and you were saying something radically different then. Do you even remember what you said?

OLIVER I was drunk at King’s Cross that night.

ANGIEKE You said, Oliver – and I remember – you said: “I just turned 27 and I am going to live a very long life.

OLIVIER Okay. So what’s your point? I didn’t know anything back then. You shouldn’t have been listening to me.

ANGIEKE And see, I think that its something you really need to think about. Take it from me, someone that you may never call Mother, but very much considers herself one: if you wished last year to live a very long life, it is because you knew, and you accepted that the road ahead would be furious with struggles. This is one of them. Curving around a little bit early. But it is the beginning. The beginning of empathy.

OLIVER I feel like you might be about to murder me.

ANGIEKE You wanted a long life. This is just something you’re going to have to show yourself and the rest of the people that love you that God built my boy strong enough to take this.

OLIVER You don’t think I’ve manifested cancer onto myself, do you?

ANGIEKE I think you hear what you want to hear between those ears. Get rid of that dogshit between those ears, boy! Because I’m trying to tell you things! Because this is an unspeakable thing that is happening. I need your EYES open now. Now you are at the mercy of us. Of our care. You don’t get to make decisions because it’s not how you’re used to being treated!

OLIVIER I really don’t think I can take much more of this.

ANGIEKE I love you.

OLIVER I’ve got to go.

ANGiEKE I am a fighter.

OLIVER Unplug me.

ANGIEKE And you don’t have a choice. We are stuck in this fight together.

OLIVER Did you just quote Mariah Carey?

ANGIEKE You can’t get rid of me.

OLIVER Yes, I have a feeling that is going to be impossible.

ANGIEKE Even in the time we’ve known each other. 5 years. Only five years and look at every we’ve been through! Just you and I! I bailed you out of the Nigerian Embassy. Set you up in a hotel last Halloween after you were straggling down the Bowery with one sandal and a beachtowel.

OLIVER That was my attempt at Janet Leigh in Psycho. Over 3 Halloweens ago.

ANGEIKE And you don’t think we can handle this?

ANGEIEKE’s phone rings

ANGIEKE Terry. Hello! Hi! He’s going good. How that Armenian salad? I let her use a different cheese than last time. But the radishes are fresh and tossed in with a honey vodka glaze and fresh tangerines. Does she like it? What? You’re all on your hands and knees looking for the — Well, how’d did she lose it? No, Terry. What happened is that somebody stole it. You and I know that. She had it stolen! Well, I don’t know. It’s a big room, but there couldn’t have been up to maybe 4 people. Another family. They didn’t come in until later, but when they did they came in with a Dominoes and then decided not to eat it, those bastards. I can’t believe people. Have some fucking decency in THE CANCER HOSPITAL. Well, I don’t know… should I go out there and look for it with you? What would you like me to do, Terry? Hello?!

(She hangs up.)

I hope they’re filing a theft report.

OLIVIER Couldn’t they have come into the room to tell us about this? The waiting room is only next door. I can’t believe that someone just stole my Mom’s phone. Fuck.

ANGIEKE They wouldn’t be accusing me of stealing a cellphone, would they?

OLIVER Hey, don’t get nuts! They wouldn’t. To them, you are an empress, understand?

ANGEIKE You’re right. You’re right. I’m the last thing on their mind right now. The last thing they could be thinking about.

OLIVER Shit happens. What I can’t believe is the rate at which shit can sometimes happen. And in the brilliant sequence that it does. So I get sent to the hospital, the electricity blows out back their house for 3 days, I tell them I have cancer and my Mom gets her phone stolen. Very American Gothic. Given the Mayan Prophecies I’ve been ignoring, I’m considering this experience to be very inconveniently prophetic. I mean, is The Universe going end in a week or what?!

ANGIEKE I don’t know about your Mom. But the two of us can handle this, Oliver. I’ll be back.

OLIVER NO! No, stay. Stay HERE!

Oliver struggles through a Charley Horse. The lights explode and the music discharges into The Monster Mash. ANGIEKE takes OLIVER’s hand, both convulsing into a somewhat grinding and combative 50’s sodashop twist.

Chubby Checker


  1. Jenny says:

    Love this, as always. Especially this:

    ANGIEKE And see, I think that its something you really need to think about it. Take it from me, someone that you may never call Mother, but very much considers herself one: if you wished last year to live a very long life, it is because you knew, and you accepted that the road ahead would be furious with struggles. This is one of them. Curving around a little bit early. But it is the beginning. The beginning of empathy.


  2. […] You remember the raging Chekhovian self-pity of Chapter I proceeded by “The Monster Mash&#8221…   […]

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