Girl in Costume
The lights come up on two thirty-something males sitting in front of drinks at a bar. It’s audibly raining outside throughout play. The bar is empty except for a pretty bartender in her early twenties who is watching a puppet show on a large muted television at the end of the bar and text messaging.
Stanley: Did you know what a group of tigers is called?
Francis: DID I know? As in, past tense? As in “did I used to know and now I have forgotten what a group of tigers is called?”
Stanley: Excuse me. Present tense. Do you know what a group of tigers is called?
Francis: No, I forgot. Let me guess? You want to tell me.
Stanley nods, smiling.
Francis: Oh god. Probably “a stripe” or something.
Stanley looks disappointed.
Stanley: Close. “A streak.”
Francis clicks his tongue.
Stanley: A group of moles is called “a labor.” A labor of moles.
Stanley: Do you know what a group of buzzards is called?
Francis: Is this a rhetorical question?
Stanley: Only if you decide not to answer it. If that happens, we’ll say it’s rhetorical instead of saying you gave up.
Francis: Do you know what a group of fingers is called?
Stanley starts to think about it and is going to answer.
Francis makes a fist and shows it to Stanley.
Stanley: Oh. I was going to say “a hand.” Or even “A chickenbox”, but then I didn’t think you were that clever. A fist, though. That’s pretty clever.
Francis: I’m glad you liked it.
Pause. They sip their drinks.
Francis: What do you want to do?
Stanley: Like, right now? Or, you know, with my life?
Francis: Like right now.
Pause. Both men cannot think of anything.
Francis: Then long-term if you can’t think of anything better for now.
Stanley: I want to make a movie. Will you make a movie with me?
Francis shrugs. Signals to Violet for another beer.
Francis: Sure. I’ll make a movie with you. Are there going to be any girls in it?
Violet comes over and opens a can of beer for Francis. She checks Stanley’s beer to see if it’s empty. It almost is. She waits while Stanley gulps down the stuff at the bottom, then opens another one for him.
Stanley: Violet, will you be in my movie?
Violet: What’s it called?
Stanley: That depends on if there are any girls in it.
Francis: There aren’t going to be any girls in it…
Stanley: He’s right. There might not be…
Violet: Well, what’s it called if I’m in it?
Stanley: I don’t know. A group of buzzards is called “a wake”.
Francis: I knew he would find a way to tell me.
Stanley: Maybe we could call it “The Wake.”
Violet: Would it be about buzzards? Or about a funeral, you know, for someone who died?
Stanley: It would be about waterskiing.
Francis laughs slightly, choking on his beverage. Violet also laughs, hands Francis a napkin.
Francis: Jesus…What do you want to do already? Besides make a waterskiing movie called “The Wake”?
Stanley: Have an adventure. Fall in love. Maybe steal a tiger from the zoo.
Francis: Why not steal a whole streak of tigers?
Stanley: That seems like a tall order. Why don’t we stick to just one for starters?
Violet: I would be in a movie about stealing tigers. Or maybe a band. A band called Stealing Tigers. With costumes.
Stanley: I would be in a band called that. I would be in a band called anything.
Violet: I could play bass and sing. I like it when girls play bass and when bass players sing. So I would be a girl and play bass and sing.
Stanley: I like it when girls and bass players do those things too.
Francis: Who doesn’t?
Violet: My ex-boyfriend.
Francis: The one who used to come in here? With the dreadlocks?
Stanley: I remember him. He always seemed like the kind of guy who wouldn’t be down with girl bass players who also sing.
Violet: Tell me about it…
Stanley: Well, he just had an air about him and…
Violet: No, Stanley. It’s just an expression. You don’t need to tell me about my ex-boyfriend.
Stanley: Good. I didn’t really know him all that well.
Violet: Me neither. Do you guys want shots yet?
Francis: Yes please.
Stanley nods. Violet pours the three of them shots.
Violet: To the future…
Francis: Two tears in bucket…
They take the shot and sit for a few seconds in silence.
Francis: That was fun. What’s next? I want to talk to girls.
Violet: What am I?
Stanley: He means girls that will do sex with him. You are not girls that will do sex with him.
Violet: True. I am not those girls. Why don’t you two go out on the town?
Francis: We are on the town. Where else are we going to go? Its pouring out.
Violet: Strip club?
Francis: Those places depress me. Especially in the rain.
Stanley: We could get a few more drinks and see if anything happens around here.
Violet chuckles. Nothing is going to happen around there. Frank looks around at the empty bar.
Francis: What do you think is going to happen around here?
Stanley: I don’t know. We talked about making a movie earlier. That was fun.
Violet goes back to text messaging.
Francis: So, what do you want to do?
Stanley: Like, right now? Or when I grow up?
Francis: We are grown up.
Violet laughs once loudly, still looking at her messages.
Stanley: I want to be a part of something.
Violet: Let’s start an erotic book club!
Francis: Will there be girls there?
Violet: If I send out the invite, there will be girls. If you send out the invite, there will not be girls.
Stanley: Girls love book clubs. I saw it on TV.
Short pause. The guys sip their drinks and Violet wipes the bar in front of them.
Violet: What do you want to do, Francis? You keep asking Stanley. What do YOU want to do?
Francis: Like, right now? Or when I grow up?
Stanley gets excited.
Stanley: When you grow up!
Francis stares off at the puppet show on television. Stanley watches him expectantly. Violet goes back to her messaging.
Suddenly, Francis stands up on his barstool and takes a deep breath, as if about to sing an anthem or give a long speech. The lights flicker. Loud drum beats, a cymbal crash. He sits back down and looks at Stanley.
Francis: Beats me.
Stanley: Didn’t you want to be a lion tamer when you were a kid?
Francis: Every kid wants to be a lion tamer at some point. I didn’t want it any more than anyone else.
Stanley: A group of lions is called a…
Francis: A group of lions is a pride.
Stanley: Very good, Francis. A group of lions is a pride.
Stanley: What about a one-act play? Instead of a movie. I think a one-act play is easier.
Francis: Will there be girls?
Violet looks up from texting.
Violet: I’ll be in your a one-act play. What’s it called?
Stanley: Something about animals maybe? I don’t know. We need to write it first.
Francis: Will the animals be girls? Will they be in groups with goofy names?
Violet: Animals, huh? Not waterskiing?
Stanley: I think that waterskiing might be hard to accomplish in a low budget one-act.
Francis: But not animals?
Violet: I don’t see why we can’t have both. Let’s just write it first and then we’ll figure something out. Our play can be as big as our imaginations.
Stanley: Excellent attitude, Violet.
Francis: Do you want to know what I’m imagining?
Stanley takes out a pen and a notebook from the bag at his feet.
Francis: I am thinking about girls.
Violet rolls her eyes.
Francis: I am thinking about girls in animal costumes holding…water-skis. No, thinking about water-skis…
Stanley: Good! Thinking is cheaper to produce than holding.
Francis: And they are sitting around a campfire in the woods. They’ve put on the costumes to…
Violet: Fool the other animals?
Francis: Yes. To fool the other animals.
Stanley keeps writing.
Stanley: I like it. Keep going. Why do they want to fool the animals? Are they scared?
Francis: They should be. Animals are dangerous and gross.
Violet: This is fun. My turn. They should be scared of the animals but they are not. They have left the city and come to the forest to think about waterskiing of course, but also to look for mates among the animal kingdom. They are done with men. They are preparing to be mounted.
Stanley: That’s good! They have left the world of men, in search of animal love…What do you call a group of girls dressed up like various animals in the forest?
Francis: Perverts, apparently.
Violet: They are too naïve to be perverts. They are only curious.
Stanley keeps writing, nodding. He is excited. Things are coming together.
Stanley: I have them talking to each other. The people in the play. They are saying things and the other characters are saying things back. What do they have against men?
Violet: Besides the obvious? In addition to thousands of years of male dominance, persecution and a state of inequality that continues to exist between the sexes, they have all come to the realization that men are dicks. All girls have this realization at one point or another. It’s when you become a woman, I think. Most forget it later and are reminded over and over again throughout their lives.
Francis: That dreadlock really did a number on you.
Stanley: This is great. Our play has a serious political message now. I like serious political messages. So, they are thinking about water-skiing and all of this other stuff around the campfire. They are waiting for the animals of the forest to come out and mate with them. Do any of the animals show up? Aren’t animals usually afraid of campfires?
Violet nods. This thought had not occurred to her.
Stanley: No bother. That can explain why they are doing so much talking and thinking about waterskiing. The animals have not shown up yet because of the fire. They are scared of it but the girls are from the city and naïve about the ways of the woods so they make a fire for warmth without knowing it will scare away the animals they are trying to do sex with…But at some point, we’ll need to have some action. It can’t be all talking or the audience will get bored.
Violet: Maybe they can be talking until the end, and then some dramatic piece of action will occur at the last minute and the curtain will drop and the audience will be left with a rapid heartbeat and the feeling of wanting more even though they can’t have it.
Francis: Sounds very sexual.
Violet: It should be!
Francis finishes his drink. Signals for another. Violet gets it for him.
Francis: Granted…What if there was a rape?
Violet: How are they gonna get raped by the animals? They are willing and anyway the animals are afraid of the campfire. If anything, the girls are the rapists because they are wearing costumes and trying to play a trick on the animals.
Francis: Good point, I guess. But hunters wear costumes, are they rapists?
Violet: No, retard. They are murderers.
Stanley: Well, what if it was something else that raped them? What if it wasn’t an animal because all of the animals were scared of the fire?
Violet: What else is going to rape them? A woodsmen? A hunting party?
Francis: I thought hunters weren’t rapists?
Violet: Some are.
Francis nods in agreement.
Stanley: It doesn’t have to be a rape. We just need some action is all. Sometimes audiences feel weird about rape. Like if the characters talk about it too much or if they have to see it onstage. It’s a very personal and possibly traumatic issue to deal with for some people.
Violet: I thought you liked serious political messages?
Stanley thinks about this, staring into his drink. He looks up at the puppets on the TV before answering.
Stanley: I do. But I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. And what if we handle it wrong? Or someone misunderstands our meaning?
Violet: It’s art. Someone is DEFINTELY going to misunderstand it.
Francis: Then why bother? If we’re not going to get our point across in the first place…
Violet: What else are you gonna do?
Stanley: Very true. We have been struggling with that same question all night.
Francis: I still am.
Stanley: Don’t be ridiculous. We are writing a one-act play about girls in animals costumes around a campfire, who are thinking about waterskiing and waiting to fool the woodland creatures into having intercourse with them while discussing feminist issues and the role of art in modern society.
Violet: Maybe we should have them writing a play? Like, when they get bored of waiting for the animals and really super-horny, they write an erotic one-act play? Maybe the girls were all originally part of the same erotic book club?
Stanley looks disappointed.
Stanley: So, they have stopped thinking about waterskiing altogether?
Violet: No. They are writing an erotic one-act play that takes place at a waterskiing tournament?
Francis: Wait. So these chicks have given up on men, but they are writing an erotic drama about…what? Bestiality?
Violet: Precisely. It will be about a group of girls just like them only instead of being in a book club, they will be on a water-ski team. It will be a semi-autobiographical play. They will have skied across the lake to escape from their boyfriends, wearing the various ski teams’ mascots as costumes, in order to attract woodland mates.
Francis: I don’t understand. Why write a play about people writing a play instead of just writing the first play ourselves.
Stanley: Because it will be much cheaper to produce.
Francis: So what happens to the girls in the play?
Violet: Which play? Ours, or the one that the girls are writing?
Stanley: Maybe the same thing can happen in both of them. But which first? Should the truth in our play mirror the fiction in theirs or should it be the other way around?
Francis: My head hurts.
Violet: Let’s make the girls lose their manuscript somehow. Maybe an animal can sneak up and take it.
Stanley: But I thought they were scared of the fire?
Violet: Well maybe the fire goes out when the girls are asleep.
Francis: Why would the animal sneak up to steal the manuscript, but not have sex with them?
Violet: Why would the animal have sex with them? Animals don’t just have sex with you because you are wearing a fuzzy costume.
Stanley: But the girls don’t know that!
Violet: Correct. The girls are naïve about the animal kingdom.
Francis: What does an animal want with a draft of a one-act play? It’s not like they can read. Or act.
Stanley: That’s not true. A lot of animals can act. Mr. Ed, Lassie, Shrek…
Violet: Dolphins can’t read I don’t think, but the military uses them to find underwater landmines.
Stanley: A group of dolphins is called a “pod” you know.
Francis: I heard dolphins are rapists. No joke. They gang up and kill porpoises too.
Violet: So they are racist?
Francis: Racist rapists. Yep.
Stanley: Just the males?
Francis: Just the males.
Stanley: What do the females think about all this?
Violet: They think that men are dicks.
Stanley starts writing again.
Stanley: This is good stuff. Let’s work some dolphins in there.
Francis: Well, apparently they sometimes rape humans too. Like when people go swim with them. They go out there looking to experience nature, be a part of something, and instead they get their insides stuffed with prehensile fish penis.
Stanley: Dolphins are mammals. But it’s sad either way.
Violet: This play has gotten disgusting. I think I may be done writing for a bit. You boys need another shot?
Francis: Yes please.
Stanley nods. Shrugging, he stops writing and closes his notebook.
Violet pours three shots.
Stanley proposes a toast.
Stanley: To legitimate the-atre!
Violet and Frank: To the theatre.
They clink glasses and drink.
Violet goes back to texting. The boys sit in silence.
Frank: So what do you want to do?
A soaking wet girl dressed like a bird steps through the door to the bar, holding a shotgun.
Girl in Costume: HANDS UP! THIS IS A RAPE.
The lights go black. Terrified squealing. Sound of rain.