Bombardment, Episode 7: Clouding the Issue

Splattworks continues its presentation of Bombardment, a two-act drama by Steve Patterson. The author will attempt to post an installment each day, but, if events intercede, installments may occur a day or so apart. So please be patient.



CARMELITA enters, pushing a shopping cart full of balloons, costumes, junk. Dressed like some kind of arctic ragpicker. Figures on stage appear dead, heaped over one another as though tossed about.

CARMELITA: During wartime, you get used to seeing corpses. But you never get used to seeing corpses that appear to have been dropped from high altitudes.

CARMELITA pulls the cap from her head. Her hair is a vibrant, untamed mass. The impact should be one of going from drab formlessness to startling beauty. CARMELITA checks the bodies. First PLACID, then CORNO, pulling him off ARETHA.

CARMELITA: In town, the disruption of bombs provides a ready distraction. Rubble blocks the streets. Water mains rupture. Hence, the official media concentrate on that which still functions. Fire trucks, for example. Fire trucks are reassuring. They’re very colorful, and the lines of water arching into a flame provide an image of control in the midst of chaos. But a twelve-year-old eviscerated by a shattered soda bottle, a spinster impaled on her own walker, a tiny scalp nestled in an otherwise empty bassinet: these can be nothing but chaos. And. . .we simply can’t have that.

CARMELITA pauses in checking ARETHA. Puts her ear to ARETHA’s chest. Rises.

CARMELITA: This clouds the issue. This does. Because the road awaits, the road away from. . ..

CARMELITA kneels and addresses ARETHA directly.

CARMELITA: You cause me grief, little one. You’re broken. Cracked. It’s pain for you. Pain if you open your eyes. Do what’s best, little kitten. Be wise. Let go of your beating. Release that stubborn notion. This is no life. Scheming. Fearful. Not even sure you can trust the sky. Relinquish. Escape. And return. Revised in a fresh, better form. Perhaps. How exciting! You’ll do this? I’ll touch your heart, and you’ll release it? Slip me its strength. It’ll power my legs, my spirit. We’ll both get away, hearts entwined in synergy. Then these games can fade to silence. The pain ends. Here. Forever. Yes? You’re ready, little heart? You’re ready to let go? All right. I’ll touch you, and you’ll let go. Ready? Right now. I’m touching you. Now. (Lays hands upon her. Waits. Nothing.) No. I suppose not.

CARMELITA rises. Takes off her scarves and rolls them into a pillow for ARETHA’s head. CARMELITA takes off her coat and places it over ARETHA. Underneath, CARMELITA wears a maid’s uniform. As she disrobes, she throws her clothes atop ARETHA before dashing under the pile with her.

[To be continued]

Closing in on the Target

As I announced a couple days ago, Splattworks, over the next few weeks, will be serializing my drama Bombardment in bite-sized installments. It’s not an entirely new idea: Dickens serialized many of his novels before publishing them as the books we know today. Technology now allows me to do the same—amazingly—all around the world. Because I know you’re out there, in L.A. and Savannah and Hong Kong and Jordan and Brisbane and Berlin and….

Why this play now? The last decade has been so turbulent, terrible, and sometimes downright bizarre, that it’s come to feel like one, long, unbroken disaster, where one never knows when or where the next airstrike’s coming in. Every day makes history; some days are just bigger and more unsettling than others. Lately, they all have been.

It also feels like we’re coming up on one of those decisive moments, where we can pull up at the last minute or disappear into darkness, where the disparity between rich and poor has grown so great that society’s seams are splintering. Not just in the United States, where I live, but everywhere. The planet itself seems to be shaking and baking itself to pieces. The future, to me, has never felt so unknowable. The times, it seems, have caught up with Bombardment. So I hope readers find something in the piece that they can keep for themselves, even if it’s just an image or a line here and there.

To me, the play still seems a wild child. With time and experience, I can see a younger writer trying to find his way. Like a musician coming to competence, he has to try a little bit of everything and work through his influences. So there’s some Beckett here, along with some Ionesco and Albee, a touch of Brecht, and whole hell of a lot of Shepard, particularly in those epic monologues. I was still learning to let characters talk to each other.

If nothing else, I hope Bombardment’s a diverting read. I’m just happy to take a breath and let it off the reins. Maybe something interesting will happen. Or maybe it’ll just run over the top of the hill, and never be seen again. Putting it out there feels a little…edgy. Exciting. Kind of like an opening night. And that’s what theatre…and all art…should be about.

One more bit of business, and then the play should begin on Saturday. Thanks.

[To be continued]

Welcome of the 21st Century, etc.

Good news. My play Liberation, published by Original Works Publishing, is now available electronically through Amazon. Kindles to conquer! You now can easily pick up my happy-go-lucky, laugh-a-minute play about the Bosnian War. Buy it for your mom.

(Note: the latter in intended as gallows humor…which characterizes the play, actually. It’s deadly serious stuff, but, I think, works. It definitely seems to pack a punch. People saw it, cried, walked out of the theatre holding hands. Critics praised it, etc. It’s for artistically committed theatres with nerve and passion…so buy it for your local, artistically committed thatre with nerve and passion.)

In short, I’m quite pleased about this. Thanks, Original Works. You can also license performances through them.

To check it out, go to: