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No people whose word for 'yesterday' is the same as their word for 'tomorrow' can be said to have a firm grip on the time.

Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children, 1981


Stage left, a swarthy pint-size Goan restaurateur is leaning against a doorway and cradling a mostly-empty fifth. He is wearing a sleeveless white undershirt and patched brown pants, in unconscious imitation of the young Brando after whom he has therefore been nicknamed by his habitués. Stage right, a pair of emaciated peacocks, whom we shall call Alphonse and Gaston for reasons of tradition and anonymity, are engrossed in their own reflections in Alphonse's silver-topped cane. To their left a couple of indeterminate origin – call them Boy 1 and Girl 1 – are lost in dreams that exclude themselves, let alone each other and everyone else. Next to them is an empty table, flanked by a pair of rustic benches. The backdrop is a vague, dark panoply of greens and blues with flecks of brown. Shards of electric music almost drown out the rustling of leaves in the wind. Nobody moves.


Enter Annie from the audience and through the proscenium. She is a pretty[,] young American, looking vague and vaguely looking. She takes her place at the vacant table, surreptitiously sneaking a glance at everyone else, who all affect to ignore her. Nobody moves, much. After a subjective eternity or objective minute, she breaks the relative silence.

ANNIE:   Papaya juice? I'm thirsty.
MARLON:     What a shame.
ANNIE:     Really, I'm thirsty.
MARLON: [Nods, almost imperceptibly]   She is thirsty.
ANNIE: [twitches as though about to smile]   Sheesh.

With the delicacy of the very drunk, Marlon liberates himself from the doorjamb, turns and looks into the shadows beyond, where (visible to any of the other characters with eyes and brain to see, but not to the audience) his wife is sleeping by the fire. Having finally established this to his own satisfaction, he turns with equal deliberation and resumes the initial position.

MARLON:   Chai. Papaya's off, love. We got tea.
ALL:     Decisions, decisions.
GIRL 1:   Ek chai, baba. Me too, I guess.
BOY 1:   Do. It's what's happening, man.
A, B1 & G1:     Yeah.
BOY 1:   Tin. Her and her and me is three.
MARLON: [pointing at each in turn, from nearest to furthest] Ek, do, tin. Char, panj? One each for you three. What about you two in the corner? Don't fuckin' make me do the whole thing twice.

There is a long pause. Finally Alphonse comes to the realization that someone has directed something verbal in his direction, and looks in bafflement at his partner, who finally connects the dots.

GASTON:   Du thé? You want some tea?
ALPHONSE:   Ah, non. No way, man.
GASTON: [gives Marlon the royal wave]   No, man, we'se just sittin'.

Marlon uncurls himself once again, with evident reluctance, and staggers off-stage.


There is a very long pause, in which the actors urn becketts of respect if they maintain our attention. Finally, seconds before the crowd begins to leave en masse, Marlon reappears with two glasses, which he distributes to Annie and to Girl 1, retreats again and produces a third. Annie smiles at him brightly, Girl 1 vaguely, and Boy 1 conceptually at most. The tea is too hot to drink. Marlon resumes his stance holding up the lintel. Nobody moves.

ALPHONSE:   On veut peutêtre encore du coca? Wanna do some more coke?
GASTON:   Bien sûr. Course.
BOY 1:     Buddy, can you spare a line?
GIRL 1:     Me too? Huh? Huh?
ANNIE:     Yeah, you bet, pretty please.
MARLON:     Say wha?

Those with the tea are at least temporarily bereft of the communication skills required to wangle an invitation to participate in the snow. Given that two of the three are nubile females and at least one is solo, we are left to assume that Alphonse and Gaston are (a) gay, (b) in committed monogamous relationships with jealous people who might sneak up at any moment, or (c) too far into powders to care about trivialities like sex or food. They are skinny enough to make (c) the odds-on favorite.

BOY 1: [Desperately working on his telepathy]   Why don't we do the show right here?
ALL:     So, what now?

Gaston languishes to his feet, in what passes for a burst of energy, and places a random but plausible assortment of coins on the table. Alphonse levers himself up with the cane, then raises it to inspect the damage done to the shine of its handle, sniffs expressively and follows his friend out to stage right. Marlon eventually assimilates the currency and resumes the position. There is a very long pause. Nobody moves. Curtain.


The curtain rises again, to find the remaining characters in the same positions as when we left them, some indeterminate time before. Occasionally, one lifts a glass, but gives the impression that the cup remains empty.

There is another very long pause in this tropical Winter's Tale. Suddenly, a large and obviously male Mediterranean nudist (otherwise effectively covered with curly black hair from nose to toe) approaches from stage right, to the evident surprise and consternation of all, who arise in some confusion.

Exeunt omnes, pursued by a bare.