Spark – a play in one act

I’ve written a lot of plays over the years (I guess that’s what happens when a writer gets a PhD in Drama), but this one is my favorite. If someone out there wants to produce it, do a staged reading, make it into a short film, etc., please do so with my blessings. Plays were meant to be performed!

Spark

By Adrienne MacIain

NOTE: A “/” indicates an overlap in dialogue. When a “/” appears, the following line should begin, overlapping the remainder of the line already being spoken.

Scene One:

(Nighttime, at an intersection in a residential neighborhood. To the right stands a stop sign, to the left, a telephone pole. Two adolescent boys, “Sour” and “Spark,” are riding their bikes in lazy circles around one another. The bikes are way too small for the boys, but they ride them with surprising expertise. Sour is a good-looking kid and knows it; Spark is going through an “awkward phase,” and also knows it.)

SOUR: I think there’s a poltergeist in my house.

SPARK: Forreal?

SOUR: Yeah. S’fuckin’ creepy, Dude.

SPARK: Since when?

SOUR: Since, like, I dunno, a while ago.

SPARK: That’s weird.

SOUR: No shit it’s weird. Fuckin’ freakin’ me out.

SPARK: CAR!

(They pull over. Bright lights shine on the boys like headlights. We hear the sound of a car coming to a stop and driving off again. The boys resume riding.)

SPARK: What kind is it?

SOUR: What kind of what?

SPARK: Poltergeist.

SOUR: What, you mean like, what species?

SPARK: No, I mean like, what does it do? Throw plates at the wall? Make the table levitate when you’re trying to eat dinner? Or what?

SOUR: No, Dude, it’s obsessed with the number two.

SPARK: What?!

SOUR: Yeah, man. I’ll be playing on the computer, and all the sudden, the’ll be all these twos filling up the screen, like somebody’s finger is pushing on the two key, only my hands are on my lap, right?

SPARK: So you need a new computer. That doesn’t mean / you have a poltergeist.

SOUR: That’s how it started, but now it’s spread. So I’ll be in the kitchen, like, pouring a bowl of, like, Frosted Flakes or whatever, and all the sudden I hear this “beep, beep, beepbeepbeepbeepbeep” coming from the microwave. And when I look over, the little timer screen is just solid twos.

SPARK: Isn’t that dangerous? I mean, what if somebody hit start on accident and there was nothing in there? Don’t microwaves like, blow up when that happens?

SOUR: Yeah, man! That happened to my friend’s cousin once. Sparks flyin’ everywhere and like radioactive shit zapping the whole fuckin’ house. Probably everyone on that whole block is, like, sterile now. Or like, dying of some kind of cancer.

SPARK: Forreal.

SOUR: S’fuckin’ wack, Dude.

SPARK: Maybe you should hire an exorcist or something.

SOUR: CAR!!

(They repeat the waiting-for-the-car ritual, then resume cruising as usual)

SOUR: Where do you find an exorcist?

SPARK: I dunno. Check the yellow pages, I guess.

SOUR: Right. (Digging a small bag out of his pocket) Wanna sour?

SPARK: Sure. (He reaches his hand out, but on contact with Sour’s hand, they are both hit by a powerful shock, from which they recoil violently). Ow!

SOUR: Shit, Dude. That fuckin’ hurt!

SPARK: Sorry.

(Sour pops a candy in his mouth, puts the bag away. They cruise in silence for a moment. Sour reaches his foot out and kicks Spark’s tire. Spark retaliates. They continue this “jousting” through the following dialogue.)

SPARK: So did you give ‘em to her yet?

SOUR: Haven’t seen her yet.

SPARK: What are you talking about you haven’t seen her? You see her every morning.

SOUR: I’m just waiting for my moment, yo. It’s all in the timing.

SPARK: Whatever.

SOUR: Fuck you whatever. You’ve never asked a girl out in your entire fuckin’ life.

SPARK: I’m just waiting for my moment, yo.

SOUR: Fuck off.

SPARK: It’s all in the timing.

SOUR: You’re waiting for my sister is what you’re waiting for.

SPARK: The fuck are you talking about, Sicko? Your SISTER? Now that is nasty.

SOUR: I saw you lookin’, Dog.

SPARK: Unless you’ve got some other sister you keep locked in the attic who isn’t a total über-bitch…

SOUR: You think you’re bein’ all secret agent and shit, hiding up that tree.

SPARK: What the fuck are you talkin’ about?

SOUR: Oh right, okay, so it wasn’t you, it was your identical twin or your, like, CLONE or whatthefuckever.

SPARK: You must be on some heavy drugs, because you are… fuckin’… illusional

SOUR: Whatever, Dude. If you want to be a peeping tom, that’s your problem. But I gotta say, I thought you would have better taste than Sid.

SPARK: If I were the last guy on earth, and Sid came crawling up to me in – fuckin’ – Victoria Secrets underwear and shit…

SOUR: That’s Victoria’s Secret, Dickwad.

SPARK: Whatever. The point is I would let the human race die out, okay?

SOUR: Whatever.

(Sour stops his bike, gets out another sour candy and pops it in his mouth. Spark circles him.)

SPARK: Those avocados are gonna rot if you don’t give ‘em to her soon.

SOUR: They won’t rot. They’re still hard. And if they do I’ve still got a whole tree full. Unless you’ve been eating them while you’re up there beating off, watching Sid dance to the ‘Chili Peppers.

SPARK: Fuck off.

SOUR: (Doing a mocking impression of Sid’s dancing; he sings:) “Nay-ked in thu rain…”

SPARK: FUCK OFF Sour. That shit isn’t funny.

(Spark reaches out to kick Sour’s bike but misses. He nearly loses his balance, and grabs onto Sour’s bike for balance. Reflexively, Sour grabs Spark’s bike, so that the two are locked in an awkward embrace across their bikes for a moment.

Disturbed by the intimacy of the moment, the two boys step off their bikes and stumble backward, away from one another. They regard each other for a beat, then get back on their bikes and resume cruising in silence.

A beat passes.)

SPARK: Maybe it’s trying to tell you something.

SOUR: What is?

SPARK: The ghost or whatever. Maybe it’s trying to send you a message.

SOUR: Like… from the “other side”? If it is, it’s doing a shitty job cuz all I’m seein’ is the number two.

SPARK: But don’t you think that might mean something? The number two? I mean, it could have picked any number, but it picked two. Alls I’m saying is you should maybe think about that. A little. Maybe.

SOUR: Didn’t you used to have a poltergeist in your house?

SPARK: What?

SOUR: I thought you told me your house was haunted.

SPARK: When did I say that?

SOUR: You said the clocks were always stopping and the T.V. would get stuck on the same channel and the lights would start flashing on and off and shit like that.

SPARK: Yeah but that wasn’t a poltergeist.

SOUR: So what was it?

SPARK: (Planting one foot on the pavement) A FUCKIN’ ELECTRICAL PROBLEM, I ALREADY TOLD YOU THIS SHIT! Jesus.

SOUR: (Coming to a halt as well) Dude, take your meds, okay? It was just a question.

(Sour’s older sister, Sid, appears. She wears combat boots and is dressed entirely in black. She has also dyed her hair black, and her roots are showing.

She lights a cigarette.)

SID: JESUS WILL YOU TWO CUT THE FOREPLAY ALREADY AND JUST GET DOWN TO BUSINESS? I fucking hate this shit. You’re out here every fucking night circling around each other like some kind of dorky-ass mating ritual. I mean, if you’re gonna fuck, just fuck already. No one will think any less of you, certainly not me. I don’t think I could think any less of you two numbnuts if I tried. But the point is: this hesitation is getting us nowhere, okay? Hesitation. Is deadly. You remember when Dad set the wok on fire tryin’ to make, fuckin’, kung-fu chicken or whatever, and his stupid-ass wife wanted to toss a glass of water on it? I didn’t hesitate: I shoved Henna-head out of the way and put the lid on that shit. Flame went out, “fpouh!” before she could peel her pathetic self off the wall. I saved the entire family from certain death. But did anyone appreciate my heroic deed? Did Dad praise his valiant daughter for her kick-ass reflexes, her ability to take swift, decisive action under pressure? HELL no. I got accused of evil stepmother abuse and sent to my room with no supper. Oh! And what a fuckin’ tragedy that was! No carbonized Chinese food for me. Not like I’m in eminent danger of starvation or anything.

SOUR: No shit. You’ve got enough Almond Joys hidden up there to feed a tribe of Pygmies.

SID: I swear to god I’m gonna start putting mousetraps in my drawers. What are you looking for in there anyway? Trying on my underwear again?

(She tries to smack him, he dodges her)

SOUR: Dad was right: you shouldn’t be pushing Marlene like that. She might be prego.

SID: Bullshit. Those two fuck like jackrabbits. If she doesn’t have a bun in the oven by now, the bakery’s closed.

SPARK: She’s not that old, though.

(Sid and Sour both look at him)

Is she?

SID: You don’t have to be old to be barren, Dumbshit.

SOUR: And she’s not stupid, either. She’s getting her PhD.

SID: (sardonic laugh) Yeah. Right. Her “PhD.”

(Sour is looking away: Sid takes advantage of the opportunity and gives him the smack he dodged a moment ago. They spar for a few moments. Finally, Sid gets Sour in a compromising position)

SOUR: Hey, Spark, why don’t you go tell my Dad you saw Sid smoking out here?

SID: (To Spark) Do it, Kid, and I’ll kick you so hard you’ll have to open your mouth to take a piss.

SPARK: (To Sour) Why don’t YOU go tell him?

SOUR: (To Sid) What are you doing out of your coffin anyhow? It’s still daylight.

SID: (Giving him a final smack and then releasing him) The step monster sent me to look for you.

SOUR: So?

SID: So that means it’s time to kiss your boyfriend goodnight and come inside.

SOUR: Aw, are you jealous?

SID and SPARK: Fuck you.

(Sid shoots Spark a look)

SOUR: (To Spark) I’ll be right back, yo.

(He leans his bike against the stop sign, runs off toward the house. During the following, the light from the street-lamp increases in intensity, slowly but noticeably)

SID: (She takes a long drag on her cigarette. Looking Spark up and down) You’re a virgin. Aren’t you.

SPARK:

SID: I can tell just by looking at you.

SPARK:

SID: (Taking a few steps toward him as she speaks) It’s okay. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, you know. Sluts like Sour, they end up with crabs and warts and… syphilis and shit. You’re better off without.

SPARK: I’ll keep that in mind, thanks.

SID: You’re not really gay though. You’d like to think you are. That would give you a sense of identity. Pride. If you were queer you’d at least have a label. An explanation. An excuse. So you’ve talked yourself into having a crush on my little brother.

SPARK: What?!

SID: (Coming even closer) There’s no point in playing dumb, Romeo: I’ve seen you in that tree at night, looking in his window. Surprised he hasn’t seen you himself. Or maybe he likes it. Maybe he likes the idea of you out there, looking at him while he gets undressed. He’s vain that way.

SPARK: Shut up.

(A beat.)

SID: Do I repulse you?

SPARK: I said: shut up.

SID: (Coming dangerously close to him now) And I asked you: do I repulse you? Do you find me… repulsive?

SPARK: (Stepping off his bike) I don’t – no. I mean, I don’t know. I mean: no, I don’t.

SID: I know.

SPARK: No you don’t! You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me.

SID: Oh but I do. (Letting her cigarette fall to the pavement and grinding it out with the toe of her boot) I know all kinds of things about you.

SPARK: Yeah? Like what?

(She grabs his ass and pulls him toward her)

SID: I know you’re enjoying this. For example.

(They hold the position for a beat)

(Whispering in his ear) My brother. Is an asshole. You can do better.

(Suddenly, the street-lamp, which is now at full intensity, makes a loud buzzing sound, followed by the sound of glass breaking. Then darkness. We hear the sound of Spark’s bike clattering to the ground.)

Scene 2:

(Nighttime. The avocado tree behind Sour and Sid’s house. Spark and Sour are lounging in the branches. Sour is sucking on a lemon.)

SOUR: Fuck her.

SPARK: Yeah, Dude. Fuck her. She’s not even that cute.

SOUR: (In falsetto) “Avocados are fattening!” Fuckin’-A, man. You try to be creative, and they shit all over you.

SPARK: Fuck ‘em.

SOUR: Word.

(A beat. They look up at the sky)

SPARK: Full moon.

SOUR: Yup.

(A beat.

They start to howl at the moon, loudly and without prior warning. They thoroughly enjoy this action, and it goes on longer than is really warranted. Then they stop, just as suddenly.

A beat.

Sour sucks on his lemon)

SPARK: Did you know that the human body is made of, like, ninety percent water?

SOUR: (With the lemon in his mouth) Seriously?

SPARK: S’pretty wild, huh? (Noticing Sour’s lemon) Jesus, how can you eat that shit? My mouth gets all puckery just looking at you.

SOUR: My dentist told me if I keep this up, all the enamel on my teeth will be eaten away by the time I’m forty.

SPARK: So wh