A Fairvale Tale

Motorway From Roswell

Scene: Interior of a new, futuristic (possibly hybrid or electric) car. Two passengers, both in their early twenties and fresh out of college (upscale, west coast). The driver is Michiko, stylishly hip and Japanese-American. The passenger is Hank, stylishly laid-back and English-American. They are driving, at night, along a modern interstate super-highway the monotonous regularity of which (featureless concrete barricade, white dotted center-line, regularly spaced overhead mercury-quartz halide lamps) functions as a metaphor (á la Goddard's Alphaville) for inter-stellar space.

Michiko: So, what do you think about it?

Hank: (flicking his cigarette ash out the window) I don’t know. It’s sort of like being messed up on an incongruous identity function without having any recourse to fantasy.

M: Y'know, Hank-- I never know what the FUCK you’re talking about anymore.

H: (sighing) Shit, Michiko-- I thought that’s why you dug me in the first place. Don’t you remember the night when we hooked-up the first time? Afterwards, you told me the reason you left Carl’s party with me was that you could tell by the way I talked that I didn’t think like all the others. That I was different, special even; that you LIKED the way I talked.

M: (stares straight ahead, as though contemplating infinity)

M: (turns to Hank with the slightest hint of a smile in her eyes) Look, Hank-- different is one thing, incomprehensible is another. Sure, I copped that you were different from the moment you first opened your mouth. But I felt really hooked in to where you were coming from then. You made SENSE then. Now, half the time I don’t know what’s going on inside your head. I mean: what the fuck is an "incongruous identity function"? Where on earth did you pick that up from?

H: Hell, I don’t know, Michiko. It just came to me, that’s all. I suppose if I sat and thought awhile I could figure out a more "normal" way to say what I think... but this just goes back to what I was saying before: I thought you LIKED the way I talked.

M: I DO like the way you talk, Hank. It’s just that I’m starting to think that it wouldn’t hurt you to try a little harder to make yourself understood. Try to keep in mind that talking is an activity distinct from thinking, that there is someone else involved, and that it is YOUR job to get through to them.

M: (adding, with a smile) Even if you are from another planet.

H: OK, OK. OK. I get the point. I'll try to think about what I’m saying BEFORE I open my mouth. OK?

(Hank turns and stares blankly out the window. After a moment of silence, the duration of which neither he nor Michiko have the slightest consciousness of, he returns his attention to the interior of the vehicle. Retrieving his crushed cigarette pack from the dash, he delicately extricates what turns out to be the last remaining cigarette it contains.)

H: (lighting his cigarette) How are we on gas?

M: Huh? Hey, don’t worry about it, we’re fine. I’ve never run out of gas.

H: Well, are you hungry? Do you want to get something to eat?

M: No, not really. Why? Are you?

H: Well... not really. It’s just that this is my last cigarette and--

M: Shit, Hank! I HATE that. If you want to stop and buy cigarettes, why don’t you just say so?

H: You know I feel guilty about it on account of how I told you I'd really try to quit. It’s just that there’s so much else going on right now that I worry that trying to quit will fuck me up on the other stuff.

M: Hell, Hank, don’t sweat it. I know exactly where you’re coming from on that one. I’ve got a few bad habits I wouldn’t mind breaking myself. But you’ve got to admit that it’s pretty pathetic that even before you’ve finished your last cigarette you’re already worrying about the next one. I mean, let’s face it: You’re a fucking slave to nicotine; and being a slave is a sorry thing.

H: Well, there’s no way on earth I can deny that one. You’re definitely right-on this time. It’s just that I don’t know what to do or how to begin.

M: Well, Hank, I’ll tell you what. I’m going to help you get started right now.

M: (turning to Hank to reveal the beginnings of a sly grin) I’m not going to stop until I either need to get gas or have to go to the bathroom, whichever comes first. This way, you no longer have any say in the matter. By abjectly subjecting you to my needs I will free you from your own! For your own good, of course.

H: (looks of anxiety, curiosity and resignation trade places on Hank’s features before being replaced by the fixed stare of impending doom) I’ll never make it.

M: (beaming with mock sadism) HA! You no longer have a choice, fool. You are MY slave now!

M: (continuing in a more subdued manner) For Christ’s sake, Hank, lighten up. If you can’t go a couple hours without a fucking cigarette then you are truly too pathetic to live.

H: (yielding to the spirit Michiko had been working to establish, Hank assumes an air of deep grieving as he stares into the dying ember of his cigarette)

H: (flicking the cigarette butt out the window) Alas, poor Yorrick, I knew him well.

M: (unable to entirely suppress her pleasure at Hank joining in on her game, Michiko can’t help but smile slightly as she turns to him) Hank, you are one weird guy.

M: (returning her focus more or less to the road ahead) So, now that you are at my mercy, let’s get this conversation back on the track it was on before you so mercilessly derailed it with your "incongruous identity function".

H: Well, YOU could try a little harder to try to understand me too, y'know.

M: Hank, as it stands now, I’m the ONLY one who has ANY clue as to what you’re on about when you go into "Hank-mode". So, anyways, tell me what you think about it. Only, this time, try to do so in such a manner that a poor lowly citizen such as myself might hope to grasp your meaning, oh Sahib.

H: Hmmm....

Scene: Medium to long exterior shot of car hurtling along the highway, through the night.

-- FIN --

A Copacetic Comics Company Production

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