Bombardment, Episode 3: Just Speakin’ Colorful

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.


ARETHA: How do you plan to conduct the administrative action?
PLACID: Well, it’s funny. On one hand, living things are a bitch to kill. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you end up just bashing ‘em till they come apart. But, if you got a little knowledge, get inside, snap the right wire, the whole gimmick goes…click. That’s what we’re shooting for. The right wire. Now. (Reaches into bag, pulls out a carving knife.) Standard number. Sharp, long enough to get to the juicy stuff. Strong, won’t break on bone. Drawback is. . .it’s been done. Million times. Kind of thing a housewife uses to whack her hubby when he’s dipping his wick on the side.
ARETHA: Be very careful.
PLACID: No offense. Just speaking colorful.
ARETHA: Nothing with domestic connotations.
CORNO: Say, could I get some coffee?

The two on stage look up, pause, then go back to what they’re doing.

PLACID: This wouldn’t work then?

Holds up a nutcracker. ARETHA shakes her head.

PLACID: Bummer.

Puts knife, nutcracker on floor. Takes out an icepick.

ARETHA: What did I tell you?
PLACID: Could be a wet bar. Some swanky lounge.
PLACID: Camping?
CORNO: Please, it’s chilly out here. Let’s get a cup for all these good people.
ARETHA: Where do you find it?
CORNO: Just a warm-up. For my loyal, loving subjects.
ARETHA: You find it in a kitchen drawer, right along with the corn skewers and the garlic press.
PLACID: Garlic press. . ..
CORNO: Don’t need any cream! Black is fine!
ARETHA: (Leaping to her feet.) Shut up! Shut up, you bastard! I will not serve you! I will not! Think who I am! Think who you compare me to! I could kill you with my bare hands!

ARETHA lunges for him, but PLACID jumps up, grabs her round the waist. Holds her tight as she struggles to get into audience.

PLACID: No, no, shh. Do it proper.
ARETHA: To hell with proper!
PLACID: You can’t mean it.
ARETHA: Gouge out his eyes!
PLACID: No. Aretha.
ARETHA: With a grapefruit spoon! Pluck ’em out! Stamp ‘em on the ground!

She furiously stamps the stage while PLACID holds her in place. He finally wrenches her back. They both end up in an chair, ARETHA planted on PLACID’s lap.

[To be continued]

Bombardment, Episode 2

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.


ARETHA: Is this is how you want me to be? Or is this how you want to be? I can be anything required. Rich. Beautiful. Bathed in seals’ milk. Sipping the blood of a freshly slain virgin from a Midori martini glass. My breath scented with opium. Underarms of honeysuckle. A kiss that can lift you to Valhalla, a whimper that can drop you to Siberia. Able to have anyone and anything. . .but you. (ARETHA sits.) My God. What I wouldn’t do for a knife to carve the features from my face. I won’t lecture you on the burdens of nobility. Any disadvantages we experience are more than compensated. Despite our pretensions, we understand this, particularly those who have experienced vicissitudes in attaining one’s position. In exchange, all I relinquish is control of my appearance, speech, public behavior. Otherwise, I am free. Further, in compensation I am granted control of all behavioral codes within these walls, this world. Not just for the footmen, serving maids, culinary technicians, but for all whose adherence to the rules insures the seamless, untroubled continuation of our. . .. Ones’ servants do not lay hands upon ones’ person! Not without invitation! And, in exchange, one lays ones’ hands upon ones’ servants with utmost discretion. One does not whisper in thy servants ear at table! One does not surreptitiously tease thy servant’s thigh with spouse so close as to hear thy servant’s breath quicken! One does not corrupt thy servant in the boudoir of thy wife! He had to be disciplined! Do not think I do not suffer for this decision! His very absence emphasizes the nature of his violation! The thought of his hands upon her skin cooks the very eyes within my skull! He betrays his place! My station! The very boundaries of reality have been violated! My double, carved of the same hard fruit. We cannot fit swelling to hollow with others. Not with the same exquisite perfection, flesh to flesh, soul to soul. But if he cannot be brought to rein, and all cannot be set as it was, I will sacrifice him! Not in vengeance, o sweet, sweet drug. For order. Stability. Such as he taught me.

PLACID enters. Carries a bag. Sets down the bag and opens it.
PLACID: But I do the sacrificing? Right?
ARETHA: On my order.
PLACID: Yeah, but chopping him, opening him up. I get to do that?
ARETHA: If I didn’t want him dead, I wouldn’t pay you. If I didn’t pay, you wouldn’t do it.
PLACID: Babe, I do it for you. For your love. Your love is my money. Your lips my municipal bonds.
ARETHA: Body. It’s either cost or commodity. Do your job. You’ll be compensated. Understand the nature of the transaction. What matters is Corno’s fate. Not yours. Death matters. When he’s dead, he’ll know what love means.
PLACID: It’ll look like love backed right over him. Repeatedly.

[To be continued]

Opening the Bomb Bay Doors

Splattworks now presents Bombardment, a two-act drama. Given the brief space appropriate for a blog, the play will be serialized in about 26 installments. 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.


Steve Patterson

Bombardment premiered in 1991, produced by Stark Raving Theatre (Portland, Oregon, USA). Directed by Kyle Evans, the original cast included: Phil Baker as Corno, R. Marquam Krantz and Placid, Mary Jo AbiNader as Aretha, and Michelle Guthrie as Carmelita. Lights and sound design by Michael Delves. Special thanks to Rich Burroughs, EJ Westlake, Rod Harrel, Myra Donnelly, Dave Demke, Linda Grimm, and Greg Tozian.


A Drama in Two Acts by Steve Patterson

Copyright © 1998 by Steve Patterson


CORNO: A political strongman.
PLACID: Corno’s enforcer.
ARETHA: Corno’s wife.
CARMELITA: Aretha’s maid.

SCENE: A Deteriorating Mansion Outside the City

TIME: Outside of Time

“No vehicle had entered the town since the gates were closed. From that day onwards one had the impression that all cars were moving in circles.” — Albert Camus, The Plague




SETTING: Something between a throne room and a living room. A ruined city can be seen in the distance. Two large chairs at center, a table with an ashtray and pipe rack between them. AT RISE: Lights on CORNO, seated. In background, CARMELITA stands in a maid’s uniform.

CORNO: I used to be king. Born to it. Used to be lord of imponderables. If I wanted something, I didn’t command it. All I had to do was picture it, and someone brought it to me. A hint of thirst, and a glass materialized in my hand. I had the strength of ten, vitality of twenty. An enormous furnace burned within my chest, and it took all of life to keep it roaring. I ate a roast a day, and my arteries stayed clear and strong, the seams bulging with blood. There was never enough to sustain me. Not enough power, not enough brandy, not enough women. I raced boats and crashed balloons and juggled Thompson submachine guns. I wrestled land grading machines, silenced incorruptible senators, floored my Lamborghini in the bike lanes. When I walked down a country road, trees moved their branches to hold me in a steady flow of sunlight.

Drawn backward into darkness, CARMELITA exits.

CORNO: I don’t feel like that now. I feel two-hundred and fourteen. I can’t feel my legs. I slowly blink, and my lids scrape against my eyes. My heart drags its twisted foot. I’m tired. Tired, tired, and I don’t know how it happened. I woke one morning to a strange woman’s scent. My possessions lost their loving familiarity. I didn’t know what to do. I opened the blinds, and the color drained from the sun.

The distant drone of airplanes, soft but slowly growing louder.

CORNO: Imperceptively, that which has so perfectly been balanced for so long…wavers. Clocks… hesitate. Deep within the machine, where even the designers can’t understand the construction, something stirs. Eases into consciousness. At first, confused. But, as it remembers where it is, what it is, what it does, and what it needs…the hunger begins.

Planes appear to pass overhead. Bombs rumble and lights flash. The bombardment grows in intensity. CORNO reacts with fear, shock, pain. The lights go out, concussion of the bombs continuing. The barrage ends, planes fade. CORNO’s armchair is empty. PLACID comes tramping in. Wears a distinctive hat. Hesitates when he sees CORNO’s empty armchair. Approaches it carefully. Sits, trying it on for size. Enjoys sitting there, but can’t lose the sense that he’s being watched, that he’ll be caught. Uneasily, he rises, slinks off. CORNO enters from the rear of the theater and takes a seat in the audience reserved for him. Immediately takes the character of someone excitable and late for the performance. If a man is next to him, CORNO begins hard-luck story about needing gas money; if it’s a woman, he begins flirting. Lights shift, and CORNO begins shushing everyone around him. Sinks down, trying to look inconspicuous. ARETHA enters.

[To be continued]