Tag: David Grubb

Everything is Ether

Cast:

Thiago Garza – Male, 35-40, Los Angeleno, Mexican heritage, lived in the US since he was 19, but recently became a citizen. Dressed in a black new looking hoodie, tan chinos, and white K-Swiss shoes.

Abraxas Garza – Teenager 15-17, Thiago’s oldest son. Dressed in a brown t-shirt with easily recognized logo, skinny blue jeans, ballcap with tag still attached (cocked off to the side), and skater shoes.

Caton (pronounced kat-aan) Garza – Middle schooler, 10-12, Thiago’s youngest son. Dressed in a white long-sleeved button up shirt (still has creases from the package) with a slender dark blue tie, gray dress pants, and oxfords shined to a high polish that are a few sizes too big.

Zack Coolidge – Older dude, 35-40, Los Angeleno, Caucasian originally from Missouri. Dressed in fancy, expensive blue jeans, red short sleeved button-down shirt with hip design, trendy shoes, and high-end shoes and sunglasses.

Setting:

The side of a busy freeway (expressway) like “the 5” or “the 405.” Its early morning on a Saturday and LA traffic is light but building. Thiago and his sons are standing on the shoulder staring at the scrubby, littered landscape. Caton holds a moderately sized metal cross in his arms and Abraxas holds a wooden crate full of trinkets: rosary beads, gaudy jewelry, a mated stuffed dolphin, and fake flowers. Thiago’s hands are deep into his pockets and an old Dodger’s baseball cap hangs limply from his back pocket. Thiago slips between English and Spanish until Zack arrives then his English improves greatly or worsens (directors’ choice). When Abraxas uses slang Thiago, and later Zack, look confused; Caton or Abraxas translates, if necessary.

Time:

Mid 2000’s.


CATON

(He sniffles.) Are those her tire marks?

THIAGO

Si, must be. (He picks up part of a headlamp.)

CATON

How does this work?

THIAGO

No sé. Put el cruce whereever you think es bueno.

CATON

Anywhere I want? (THIAGO shrugs.)

ABRAXAS

Yo, this fucking sucks.

THIAGO

Cuida tu lenguaje!

ABRAXAS

The same goes for you. Habla English. You’re a bona fide American now, right? 

CATON

Where should we put it?

THIAGO

(The building traffic makes him frown.) Wherever you think es ventajoso.

CATON

Advantageous?

ABRAXAS

Yo, these memorials… shrines along the roads for dead people are whack.

THIAGO

Ab, Catonel necesita esto… uh, he need this. (He sets the headlight down, gently.) Maybe we all do.

ABRAXAS

A cross from a Things Remembered store placed along the stupid freeway to honor Mom is the last thing I need, no diggity.

CATON

You… (Blubbers.) you helped me pick it out.

ABRAXAS

Man, let’s get this over with, so we can Audi 5000.

THIAGO

Stop bad talk por favor… please.

CATON

He’s fronting, like he does at school.

ABRAXAS

Yo, shut it Katie.

THIAGO

That pequeno grassy patch where es skid marks end eso sería estupendo.

CATON

(Scans the shoulder in both directions.) Strange. It’s the nicest spot for a half mile each way.

ABRAXAS

Yo, the patch is living large, like it survived the drought, smog, and smut for the cause, trill.

            (THIAGO looks confused.)

CATON

Trill (He pauses in thought.) true and real… trill.

THIAGO

We could take cross back and get something else or… get burilar.

CATON

(His voice cracks.) Mom would love anything we put up for her even if it’s not engraved. 

THIAGO

Sí. It’s perfecto.

ABRAXAS

He’s looking jiggy in his best rags and I sure as hell don’t want to come back, except for an occasional drive by to keep it real. I mean, everything is everything.

CATON

Yeah, reality is reality. (Wipes away his tears and bends over to size up the spot more closely. Off stage a car swerves and comes to an abrupt stop.

THIAGO

Mierda, its…

ABRAXAS

That’s the mother fu—husband of the puta loco that ran Mom off the road.

THIAGO

Easy. Stay calmar.

CATON

Its stay calm Dad, not calmar. What does he want?

ZACK

            (Zack runs on stage and whips off his sunglasses.)

What in the fuck are you guys doing here?

THIAGO

We’re putting up a memorial, y tu? uh and you?

ZACK

Bro, you ain’t gonna believe it, but I was about to do the same thing.

ABRAXAS

Yo, it’s gonna be ether that you showed up pimping in your s class cedes on the same day as us. It’s been like two weeks since the accident. (He quotes the air when he says accident.)

ZACK

            (He glares at ABRAXAS.)

Yeah, two weeks to the day.

CATON

(Quietly to ABRAXAS.) Ether means ruthlessness… to completely dismantle an opponent in a rap battle? (They smile.)

            (Zack rushes off stage and comes back with a huge, metal Icon shaped like a heart. He struggles to manage it.)

Where do you plan on putting that?

ZACK

(He scopes the area.) Bro, that grassy area is the dopest place for a killer monument. (He points at the heart with a douchey, emphatic gesture. CATON holds his cross tighter and saddens even more.)

ABRAXAS

Whoa, step off. We were here first, and we already chose that slammin spot, trill. You don’t even sound like you’s from LA.

ZACK

Everywhere else is dead grass, powdery dirt, and trash. I moved her from Missouri like when I was twenty. I’m as LA as anyone.

THIAGO

Perdone, but my boy es correcto. (Stammers.) We get here first.

ABRAXAS

And yo, some privacy while we work would be phat. (To CATON.) Missouri, where’s that?

ZACK

(He faces THIAGO.) Listen, I’d be willing to pay you five Benjamins to let me place my memorial on the grassy area. Ya know, like a finder’s fee.

            (THIAGO’s eyes widen).

CATON

Dad?

ZACK

I could pay you a bit more, but I’ve only got five bills on me. I’d have to find a moolah machine to make up the rest. Watcha say ‘bout eight hundred dineros?

ABRAXAS

Man, you’re tripping.

ZACK

Your kids sure know how to play things for a higher price.

THIAGO

They es no like that.

ABRAXAS

Pop is right. It ain’t about the scrilla, brah.

            (ZACK, THIAGO, and CATON look confused.)

            (ABRAXAS acts put out.)

G’s, c-notes, dead presidents, la cumquibus, cash.

THIAGO

(Shakes his head, reluctantly) ¡no, gracias!

ZACK

            (He glances over his shoulder at Thiago’s truck.)

The lawn care business must be more lucrative than it looks. Your work truck is four bald tires away from being on blocks in a front yard back home.

ABRAXAS

Yo, maybe you should put your bling, bling and scrilla up your…

THIAGO

Abraxas, that’s suficiente.

ZACK

Look, I’ve got some influential contacts that could give your business a serious leg up—It is your business, right? I’m talking about Garza and Sons becoming more than a one-run-down-truck operation. A whole fleet of trucks and dozens of day workers.

THIAGO

We are bueno—good.

CANTON

Ab, will you help me set up the cross?

ABRAXAS

Hell’s yeah. We’ll do it like a boss. 

            (They walk to the grassy area carrying the cross and wooden crate. They continuously glance at ZACK and THIAGO who watch them set up the cross.)

ZACK

You’re passing up some serious jack and an incredible business opportunity, all so your memorial can sit on a patch of grass that’ll be yellow or dead in a few days? That’s loco.

THIAGO

We’ll be rapido… quick and then your turn. 

ZACK

Seriously dude, what’s it going to take?

THIAGO

Place el corazón—heart good distance away por favor. They both murió…died…here, but…

ZACK

Why’d you have to take it there?

THIAGO

All I’m ask es a little separation, eso es—that’s it. (He spreads his hands.)

ZACK

            (He looks like he might brawl, but the awkwardness of the heart stops him.)

Just because the five-o didn’t give your wife a ticket, doesn’t mean she was innocent.

THIAGO

(Backs up.) Your espouza too mad. Road rage no está bien… es very bad.

ZACK

Yeah, but what did your wife do to spark her off. That’s the million dólar question.

THIAGO

Let’s no fight. (Shakes his head and gestures at his boys.) Not in front of mis hijos.

ABRAXAS

(He runs over to his father’s side.) Remember, you mess with the burrito you get the whole platter, nam sayin’.

ZACK

That’s not how the saying goes.

ABRAXAS

I always keep it real and belie’e me you don’t wanna snack on this chimichanga—or the sides.

ZACK

What are you like fifteen?

ABRAXAS

Almost seventeen and you better check yo self before you wreck yo self.

ZACK

You’re lipping Ice Cube lyrics at me?

ABRAXAS

Damn, you know the song?

ZACK

Had The Predator disc since like forever.

ABRAXAS

Maybe this whitebread ain’t so bad. (Goes back to help Caton.)

THIAGO

Let’s be finished and go.

ZACK

(Seems to finally see the wreckage site.) There’s no way your wife was so innocent.

THIAGO

Sí inocente. The victim.

ZACK

No fucking way. Milly wouldn’t have gone Mad Max without being provoked. I mean, sure, she could get hot behind the wheel, but never to the point she’d do what they say she did.

CATON

Maybe she was different when you weren’t with her.

ZACK

That’s the thing, she wasn’t alone, was she?

THIAGO

No?

ZACK

            (Speaks to no one in general, still focused on the skid marks.)

What was she doing with a streetwalker in her car? One of them hermaphrodites. She was supposed to be coming home from work.

            (THIAGO is baffled, CATON blushes, and ABRAXAS stifles a snicker.)

ABRAXAS

Whatcha mean, like a good sam picking up a hitchhiker?

ZACK

That’s what one of the cops said, but the other one had this look, like a teenage girl whose oversized dildo is under the pillow right next to her new flirt.

THIAGO

I’m sorry. (He takes a few steps away from Zack toward the grassy patch.) I should help.

ZACK

Screw it. (He drops the Icon and it clangs.) She doesn’t deserve a goddamn roadside memorial.

THIAGO

            (He rushes over and picks up the heart.)

Sí, sí she do.

            (He holds the heart out to ZACK who turns toward the rushing traffic and steps over the white line and stops, but looks like he might continue into the fast-moving cars.)

ZACK

Damn, traffic is moving fast—is everybody in LA actually working today? Or is it some funky or fake holiday like Cinco De Mayo?

            (Offstage; the sound of a car swerving and honking. ABRAXAS runs over and grabs ZACK by the shoulder to pull him out of the car’s path at the last second.)

ABRAXAS

Whoa, that hooptie almost ended you.

THIAGO

You place el corazón next to la cruz…on la hierba…es lawn.

CATON

He said you can place your heart next to our cross on the grass.

ZACK

(Undaunted, he stands quite close to the white stripe facing away from traffic.) No, you’re right. There needs to be some separation.

CATON

After we’re finished, we can stick around for a bit if you’d like. Right Dad?

THIAGO

Sí. No problemo.

ZACK

What would you do if they’d found another person in the ashes with your wife? Someone like that?

THIAGO

No entiendo. (Holds out the heart but Zack doesn’t notice.)

ZACK

You let it fuck with your head, until you realize you’ll never know for sure if she picked up a hitchhiker which fits my angel’s MO, or if she was into she-male hookers.

THIAGO

Mi sons almost hecho, uh pleno, uh complete.

ZACK

We were trying to have kids. (Stares at Abraxas and Caton as traffic continues to whiz past behind him.) I mean, who in the hell goes slutting when you’re trying to build your future? Hell, I didn’t and believe me, I had plenty of opportunities.

THIAGO

She was encinta? (He uses his hand to indicate a large belly.)

ZACK

Nah, could you imagine my prego wife out getting laid on the side: hooking up with prostitute hermaphrodites. That’d be the fricking cherry on top of this whole shitty thing. Do you think your wife had secrets?

THIAGO

No sé. Probablemente, uh probably.

ZACK

Yeah, nothing like this I bet. But we’ve all got secrets…you can believe that amigo.

THIAGO

(To ABRAZAS and CATON.) Almost completar?  

ABRAXAS

Yeah, we’re almost done. Is Mr. Cool Cat getting tired of lampin?

THIAGO

            (He frowns at ABRAXAS.)

Please, uh forgive him. He—we no take this bueno.

CATON

(He mistakes THIAGO’s frown as confusion.) Lampin means hanging out.

ZACK

I sat in the mancave a few nights ago—in our…er my mini-estate. Even that room seemed like too much space for a single dude. What in the fuck am I supposed to do now? Keep banging around in six thousand square feet all alone.

THIAGO

Comenzar de nuevo. (He can’t seem to figure out the English translation and Zack gaps at him dumbly.)

CATON

He said we all need to start over.

ZACK

Start over? I’m on the northside of the big four-oh. My sperm count is falling faster than my libido or testosterone or whatever the fuck. Chicks in LA that are my age come with b-a-g-g-a-g-e, believe me. And the younger ones are too much to handle—party like there’s no tomorrow, which means they go clubbing three or four nights a week. I hate clubbing, I mean it was fun in my twenties, but I grew up. And don’t forget the ten to fifteen-dollar drinks—can I afford it? Sure. Do I want to? Hell no.

ABRAXAS

Damn, I thought peeps with mad scrilla never had problems.

ZACK

I got 99 problems, but… (Realizes its poor taste and stops singing.) You think every sap who’s lost someone close to them in a traffic accident puts one of these ridiculous things up?

CATON

It was my idea. (His voice quavers.) I didn’t know it was a thing.

ZACK

The other night at a party, some tweaked out Hollywood whore, high on coke or ecstasy, went off about how important it was to honor the dead in every way possible. The bitch got in my face, screaming that I was a sorry excuse for a husband because I hadn’t even thought about putting a memorial out here.

ABRAXAS

Caton had a similar diva moment—shit was off the chain.

CATON

No, I didn’t.

ZACK

Man, this kind of shit jacks with everyone. I keep my gun safe in the mancave. It wasn’t that I was loosely thinking about joining her that shook me to the core. I was trying to decide which gun I should use. One of the handguns seemed the most practical, but the idea of taking the Hemingway approach at the end of the line has some real curb appeal. That crazy ass used a fucking shotgun? What a mess.

ABRAXAS

Maybe you ought to hit the digits to a hotline or something.

ZACK

Nah, I’m just processing all this. I’m too selfish to take the chicken shit way out. (Traffic is becoming slower and thick, offstage car horns sound with more regularity.)

ABRAXAS

(Gets up from a kneeling position.) We bossed it as best we could, but the cross is flimsy. The first ghetto cruiser that comes pimping by will knock it over, no diggity.

THIAGO

Lets look in the truck cama. (He’s still holding the heart and is less sure what to do with it than before.)

CATON

The bed of the truck is a mess.

ZACK

Hey, I got the perfect thing. 

            (He rushes over to his car and comes back with a wooden stake, a mallet, and some wire then nods at the highway.) Now that’s more like LA traffic; slow and sluggish with pissed off drivers.

ABRAXAS

What’cha going to use for your bling-bling? (He points at the heart.)

ZACK

The same thing, Bro. I’ve got hundreds of stakes and rolls of wire all over the place. I’m a real-estate developer, which often means being an agent too. It feels like I’m always putting up the damn for sale signs even though it’s not my job.

ABRAXAS

That’s cool. You’re not going to charge us or something… are you?

ZACK

Nah, I write everything off on my taxes so no biggie.

CATON

Mister, would you mind showing me how to…

ZACK

Don’t you know how to use a mallet and some wire? (Caton looks sheepish.)

ABRAXAS

He’s our braniac.

ZACK

Yeah, sure, I can show you, it’s pretty easy.

            (CATON and ZACK move to the memorial.)

ABRAXAS

Dude’s more messed up about all this than I gave him credit for.

THIAGO

Sí, he’s in bad shape.

ABRAXAS

For real.

THIAGO

Gracias por ayudarlo—helping Caton.

ABRAXAS

He needs all the help he can get. (THIAGO frowns.) I still think a roadside shrine for Mom is whack.

THIAGO

No say anything to Caton.

ABRAXAS

Yo, I’m not a moron.

THIAGO

Lo sé. Did Mom habla where she was yendo, going?

ABRAXAS

No. I assumed she told you. The mall?

THIAGO

Si. (Shows relief.) Probablemente the mall.

ABRAXAS

But Fair Oaks is too flossy for her.

            (THIAGO looks confused.)

Showy.

THIAGO

Es the closest?

ABRAXAS

Truth, it’s the closest. Mom hated to go out of her way for anything.

            (They stand in silence watching CATON and ZACK work. He taps the heart.)

Why’s you still sporting that?

THIAGO

I’m not sure.

ABRAXAS

The dude’s being pretty chill. Caton would’ve probably offered him the same thing you did. He’s a softy.

THIAGO

We should all be more como el.

ABRAXAS

Be more like Caton? I guess. (Pauses.) I still don’t like the rich ass gringo. Too much flex.

THIAGO

That’s fine. Be polite.

ABRAXAS

Why be polite? His espousa offed Mom.

THIAGO

Hate is muy mal. Hating killed them.

ABRAXAS

Trill, but hating makes me feel like whoa better.

THIAGO

Not in long run.

ABRAXAS

What if I don’t have a long run—like Mámá.

THIAGO

You think about…

ABRAXAS

Chillax Pops, I’m a teenager who isn’t any more, or any less, suicidal than my homies.

THIAGO

So, entonces eres perfectamente suicida?

ABRAXAS

Jokes? Maybe you’s coming around a bit.

            (They laugh.)

THIAGO

            (To CATON and ZACK.)

Es you ready for this? (He tilts the heart like a double bass or harp.)

CATON

(Sighs.) Yeah, we’re ready for his heart.

ZACK 

Hey, can one of you guys scrounge around in my trunk and get a few more stakes?

ABRAXAS

(CATON walks up to them while ZACK does some final touches to the cross. ABRAXAS to THIAGO and CATON overhears him.) We really going to let him put that monstrosity next to our…er Mom’s cross?

THIAGO

Es tremendously big. ¿no lo es?

ABRAXAS

Awful and big, no diggity.

CATON

Where do you think he got it?

ABRAXAS

Must of pimped it somewhere off of Ventura Boulevard.

THIAGO

Sí, very extraño things there.  

CATON

Saying there’re strange things on Ventura is putting it mildly.

ABRAXAS

Man, he’s got a fly ride.

            (He gets a stake out of the trunk.)

Why don’t we get some slammin burritos from a taco truck after this?

THIAGO

Suena bien, uh, sounds good.

ABRAXAS

We haven’t gone since…

CATON

She loved the one over on…

ABRAXAS

Stadium Way. The food’s okay, but eating it while staring at the Dodgers’ house is da bomb.

THIAGO

We go after this.

ABRAXAS

Coolio. I’m starving.

CATON

            (He beams at the cross as THIAGO, ABRAXAS, and CATON approach where ZACK is working.)

What do think? Looks good, right?

ZACK

            (He takes the heart from THIAGO.)

Are you guys sure you don’t mind that this is next to your cross… on the grass?

THIAGO

            (He looks at each of his boys.)

Será grandioso. Together will be good for all.

ABRAXAS

Yo, we’re going to get some phat burritos from a taco truck—you wanna hang?

ZACK

Yeah, I could use a bite. I haven’t eaten much in days. I wouldn’t be glaming on?

CATON

Nah, its coolio. After all you helped stake Mom’s memorial.

ZACK

Any of you guys ever ride in a Mercedes Benz?

CATON

For real?

ZACK

You’ll love it… that is, if your dad says it’s cool.

THIAGO

Sí. Everything is everything.

ZACK

What does that mean? (The Garzas share a look.)

ABRAXAS

Yo Pops, you’s keeping it real.

CATON

Its nada. Do you know the taco truck over on Stadium Way?

ZACK

Do I? Bro, I eat there like once a week just to be near Dodger Stadium—it’s close to my office.

            (A collective look of appreciation that only true Dodger fans have blossoms on their faces. After a long pause, they all turn to leave except Caton.)

CATON

Shouldn’t we say a little something first?

ABRAXAS

Dad said it well, but he could add some flava—Everything is ether.

            (Fade out as THIAGO hangs the Dodger’s hat on the arm of the cross while the others watch approvingly. The traffic noises create an eerie soundtrack.

NOVUS Literary and Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN