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Dead Rats


dead rats

paul knag

(The stage is black. Humming can be heard.)

The mind is a wondrous place to wander when one is unaware.

(Humming stops.)


Who is that? Who has broken through in here? You there!

Me? What do you want? I've doneit all, if you must know, Here's my resume to show you so.

I don't care what you have done, now stand still and do not hum.

I don't know where I am, I don't know where to go. Point me a spot upon this blot, give me some orientation. And one more thing, tell me now -- what is our exact relation?

The mind is sublime, yes, but I have no time, for foolish games, tomfoolery, I am not going, but what you'll be knowing is a great uncertainty. It's you I banish, and all your paradoxes from this vvery blot, from here to zeno, including Pittsburgh and Reno, turn the lights on, come down with the spot.

(LIghts up. Stark bright stage.)


I have seen the light! It is God I have seen, naked and pure. I am saved! Do you see him too? Do you see the light? I bask in it my brothers and sistes, I bathe in the light! Cleands me of my sins O Lord! Begone Vanity, Loquaciousness, I do not know you! Begone Persona, begone Facade! Begone ye foppishwolves. Your artifice shackles you to Satan! Begone! Begone!


Begone! Begone! Ye rabid dog. Go on! Go back to your cage. Begone! Begone! You raving prick, get the fuck off our stage.


What horrors approach! What terrors await! The minions of hell, I see, I see. Grant me sanctuary O Lord, I pray, get them away from me!

You poor little rat, you stupid ass. God is for all purposes dead. he looks and laughs when he sees tit and ass, but the rest goes right over his head.

Minions away, away from me! My Lord, I pray thee, part the sea! Grant me safe passage to your domain, and forever from logic shall I abstain.




The sea!

That one I'd like to see! You're very clever, but you're late for your train, and don't forget your umbrella, it looks like rain.

The mind is a wicked place, I wonder, Oh Sir? What is the fare?

(Crossfade to Grand Central Station)


The fare to where? It varies you see. It's 6.75 to Westport off-peak and seven to Stamford at three.

Quite a bit to pay, I say, for someone who's going to hell. What do you suggest? I want golden shores! For 6.75 pay tell!

Upun a peak in Darien, there lives a girl named Maryann, in a chateau, with no Mommy or Dad. She stays home alone, with her 900-line friends, and truly her life is quite sad.

That sound delicious, and I hope she's not capricious, but even then it wont be so bad. Indecisive as I, she and I shall fly to greater heights than with any other cad.

That sounds really rad, and I am quite glad to see your direction is set. But now you must go, yonder whistle will blow, and I hope you find her well met.

Thank you dear sir, it is not often I confer, with men so lucid and right.

That's 6.75 for the train to Darien, now run, there's not a second tonight.

(The MAN scampers off to catch his train.)

(Crossfade to: A peak in Darien)


My lady Maryann, most farest of virgin maids, it appears you sleep the great sleep, Oh Gods! I have come a bit too late, and now for us I must weep. Your promise was great, in my mind's eye I saw, great direction to which I keep. Although I've been here and there, and most ecerywhere, you just can't utter a peep. Now I look to my conscious adn I'm ever aware, of all things plied high in a heap. In the back of my brain, to keep me insame, it shows me just where I must leap. From one point to the other, with crazed indiscretion, I abandon the circumstance I meet. Now I must stop, this circular game, and join you in dreams of black sheep.

(Crossfade to a tunnel. There is light at the end of it. Water drips. A man dressed in a green suit appears. He walks, he whistles. He walks, he whistles, for a while now, not gaining any ground as if he is on a treadmill or the tunnel keeps coming at him the same. It stops and out of the darkness comes a litgtle waif. She addresses the audience.)


G'day to ya people! Ain't it balmy today sir Me mummy said she would take us kids all to the circus today sir beautiful day for a picnic don't ya think sir That's what me mummy told me today sir Gonna go see the fat laky, and the strong man, the freaks and the clowns. Its been three day they've been in town and Mummy said we are goin' to the circus today did I tell you sir I'm goin' to the circus Do you hear me! You ain't listenin'! You ain't heard a word I said! Well nevermind. I ain't payin' you no mind either. I ain't gonna make a big stink about it. No spectacle for you. Y'all shut up!

Excuse me miss, how wretched you look, what was that you were sayin'? Are you lost, my little girl?

Mommy... Help me... Get on your knees and pray. Don't look at me that way.

Oh, by Jove, you are a thief, a villian. Do you want my money? My watch? Don't kill me? Do you want to talk? You poor little wretch. I give it all to you. What ever you want. What did you say? All the same, it's your game.

You. You there. Speak man. Are you dumb? Tell me, am I here? You cannot keep this silence. Don't look at me that way! No. You heard me you perverts. I said no. No means no. No!No!No! ... What are you looking at. Turn around. This ain't no show. This is visual rape! Goddamn peeping toms! Ya got them everywhere. Can't give the girl one second of privacy. Get this guy outta here, who is he? What does he want? Why is he taking off his clothes! Goddamn perverts. This society's lost all its morals.


What did he say? Tell him to shut up would ya? I don't talk to them crazies. As for you, you mute little pervert, SPEAK!

I'm speaking, I'm speaking. What do you want me to talk about. Oh I like to talk. Ohmygod! Don't kill me you pitiful starving young thing. I have so much to live for. I don't want to die. I have three children, a wife and a dog. I have unfulfilled ambitions. I have 3 weeks vacation coming to me. Oh shit. I'm gonna kick your ass you little bitch! Oh please don't kill me. Here, take it all. All of it. My whole goddamned life. here, here take it. Everything...please,please don't hurt me.

(The Little waif whips out a machete)

You look so goddamned pitiful, fat ass. I feel sorry for you. Trying to look all tough. I know you're peein' in your pants right now, winpering at the feet of a 14-year old girl with a big knife.

(awkward beat)

What's so funny? Shut up! I hear your pompous-ass snickers. Ludicrous, eh? You think so? You think? You think i need a reason?

(insane laughter. She hacks an unsuspecting audience member to pieces, [1] Mr. Green dies onstage as well)

I thought I thought you think too much. What a shame. Anywoofy, back on track. You are such a sight.


You think I feel sorry for you. No, I don't. Gimme that. I want it all. Fuck you. Get out of my face. Yeah, that's right, keep your goddamn mouth closed.

(she steps back, notices the mess she has made)

Oh, look what I've done! God that's really gross. And all over my dress. I can't believe it.

(Crossfade to Schoolroom)


I'm such a slob. I'm so ugly, I'm stupid, everyone hates me. I'm a cheat, a liar, and I hate my dirty hair. I swear I'm gonna cut it all off.

(Schoolmaster Green rises from the corpse of Mr. Green)


Marie! This is atrocious! She's doing it again!


Sir. Oh shit sir. Oh I forgot sir. I don't know. I didn't hear you. What did you say?


Such a disturbed young girl. I'll do it again. Maybe she'll learn this time.

(he takes out the whip)


Yes, sir. I will not fragment meaning.

(screams of pain)

I will not fragment meaning.

(wailing agony)

I will not fragment meaning.

(gutwrenching horror)

I will not...



Ohh! I will eradicate this disseminating disseverer forever from this earth! In your honor O noble Plato!

Oh, Sir, I know not what I could have done.

(Fade to Sanitarium)


It's an ugly story. Been through the papers and twice through the tabloids. Playing little cat and mouse games with the commuters. Little miss innocent gets them all comcerned and then she lets them have it. Grisly sight. I've seen many children with all sorts of psychoses, unrealities, fantastic hallucinations. They all seem generic compared to Mary. I don't know why I isolate her to such a degree. I honestly don't know why. I really shouldn't. I should treat her like I do the rest of the lot. Go on through the procedures and the whole bit, and go home at the end of the day. But she is not the usual psychotic. She is not even a psychotic in the conventional use of the term. you see I haven't found one connectging thread that could show that she is mentally secure in any corner of reality. When a patient breaks out of every diagnostic grid that you could possibly place them in, how can you subject them to an arbitrary treatment? How can you match cause with cure when you have no point of reference to start from. You see what Mary sees is different than what you or I see. For example: this light here, is very plainly a light, but to Mary it could be an old shoe, a feeling of pity, the smell of hot asphalt, a harsh word, a cold touch, the taste of rotten meat, practically anything. This phantasmagoric misperception was not something she was born with. She had to first build up a repertoire of psychosensations from which she now draws from to facilitate he misperception. Her reality is distinctly separate and fundamentally damaged. The only tangible link to ger begavior is the obvious. The violent end. She kills, and not only does she kill, she cuts her victims into neat little pieces, like a mother chopping up a steak for her child. She does not have the fundamental ability to separate the real from the unreal. Yet she always kills. What she sees as fantasy, most often is warm, living reality. What she sees as reality, is usually a wall or a cold floor. If I could only remove the violence, she would be docile. A lunatic, but a harmless one.

You there! Stand up. I want to talk to you.

Do you see. She talks to intangible or inanimat entities as if they were people. Once in a while you can get her to speak directly to you, and respond. But it seems to be a matter of chance whether or not she picks you to be real that day.

Whould you please say something to me. Please. I would answer you if you spoke to me.

Mary. Hello, Mary.

I hear you. Yes, you speak. I am Mary.

Over here Mary. She dows not see. She acts as if she were blind. Although in fact she is impared to a much higher degree, her senses do function normally on a local level. It is the poin to translation of these senses tinto the brain that I believe has been damaged.

(turning with anger and precision to Dr. Green)

No you are the one who is damaged, dear sir, forcing the world to believe in your shadows. I can see far better than you, I am not blind. I would not talk to you, it is not in the text. But I am a philosopher, and I wish to converse -- with the people, so shut up actor and say your lines, your melodramatics have given me indigestion, and your interpretations dissever the true word -- dead on the page, unreal in your voice. Doctors are always dull characters anyways. I hate Chekhov!

(she whips out the machete and hacks Dr. Green to death.)

(Confusion. The stage collapses and crumbles. Darkness. The place is a bombed out bunker: Extending to the horizon are heaps of rubble: crumbled, blackened cement, bent steel girders, automotive parts, adn other debris. A few smoky fires still burn throughout the rubble, as the sun rises from the east. ANN lies at the bottom of the trench in a fetal position, her clothes soaked in her own blood. Seems to be unconscious or dead. hanging to her right is a single lightbulb, flickering. A dead cat and several dead rats litter the floor. There is no sound. Brief tableau. The sun strikes her face and she stirs. She yawns and stretches, leans down and pets the cat. She lifts herself upright to a sitting position. She stands and stretches, walking over to the edge of the bunker, and peers out, facing the audience.)


Weatherman said it was supposed to thunder adn rain today, but just you look, not a cloud in the sky. You know those weathermen, calling themselves meteorologists adn all sors of fancy names like they were some kind of scientist or something. I never trusted a word they said. �Bout as reliable as a politician... You never should put too much energy into forecasting and expectations, you never should. Anyway, I like surprises. And so do you, don't you?

(She looks around, searching)


Where are you, I can't see you. You hiding from me again? I got your food. I got some tuna... Come on kitty, come here...

(She turns and picks up the dead cat)

Oh lazy, lazy kitty. Always sleeping the day away. Bad kitty! You go outside, you spoiled fat, lazy cat.

(She sets the cat down)

Go on!

(picks up the cat and throws it over the edge of the bunker)

Lazy cat. No food for you today. Go and get yourself some rats. I don't feel sorry for you kitty. No I don't. You go out and play, it's a beautiful day.

(She returns into the bunker, cleaning up, dusting, making house.)

John! Julia! Wake up! I'm not coming upstairs. I want you down here now. you'll be late for work. C'mon you guys. Guess I'm the only one who's not lazy today. This house is full of corpses. C'mon Dan, Julie! Wake up!

(a faint sound of beating interrupts the action. She freezes facing upstage and the beating gets louder, finally identifiable as a helicopter. The sound gets louder and louder, increasing until it is almost unbearable. Wind hits the stage and various debris is scattered. DEAN enters, stage left. He is dressed in a shredded military uniform, is wearing a large backpack, and is carring a radio and one dozen red roses.)


(Speaking into his radio)

My God. It's all horrors hown here man. She's dead. Let's go.


(She sees DEAN)

Dean! You're early. Didn't I say eight. Oh that's alright, come, sit down and have some coffee. I'll be ready in just a minute.

(She turns to DEAN and smiles. DEAN looks through her adn turns to exit stage left)

Dean, are you alright? You just gave me the strangest look. Dean, where are you going?


(He pokes around in the rubble)

(To radio)

I think we got the cat, too.


(She turns her back to DEAN, and starts to undress)

What did you say about the cat. Dean? I didn't hear you. God, it's good to see you Dean, I've missed you alot. This house is quieter that a cematary. I'll be glad to get out of here.

(Dean lays the roses at the edge of the bunker, and exits stage left.)

Why don't we go see a movie tonight? Would you like that? There's a new movie out, and its about this doctor who brings these silent mental patients back to reality.

(Sound of helicopter increases, then fades.)

It sounds fascinating. It's called Awakenings I think. Robin Williams is in it. He's always good. The critics really...Dean? Dean, are you listening to me?

(she turns)

Dean? Where did you go?

(She peers over the bunker)

(Stage lights darken, house lights go up a bit. ANN stands at the top of the bunker, naked but for bloodied rags. Humming is heard.)

Where did he go? So strange.


Julia! John! I want you down here now! Where are you? I can't see!


It's so dark in here I can't see! John! It smells. Like something rotten is down here. Can someone help me?! Where did all of you go? You know you shouldn't believe the forecasters. Things aren't as bad as people say they are. Look on the bright side. It's a beautiful day, they lied to you. They always do. But I don't believe them. I believe that life goes on. I believe that nothing comes to an end. Everything continues, and I will continue. I can see right through your silence, right through into your ming, deepinside behind your face, way back, where you really think, and I know just how hard it is, how hard the pain hits you, but look at me, hear me. I continue. After the lights go down. I continue. Look on the bright side. You can go home now.

(She exits into the audience. House lights up.)

[1] This can be, for practical purposes, a dummy or an actor.