The Light Fixture by Patterson Willis
The Light Fixture Occurred at: Freetown Studios, Lafayette LA, on Oct. 29th 2011 The Public's Theatre of Private Mishaps The Light Fixture CHARACTERS: PAT Giorgio Russo MARK Peter Falcone LINDA Bridget Gary BARBARA Camille Howard Director- Patterson Willis Scripts- Patterson Willis FreeTown Studios: “Supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by the Acadiana Center for the Arts.”
The Light Fixture CHARACTERS: LIGHT FIXTURE PAT MARK LINDA BARBARA (Open scene. PAT & MARK center stage, holding a male adolescent, who’s body is still and lifeless, as an inanimate object. Stage is basically bare. There is a circular concentration of light on the center stage, while it fades to dimness out at the corners—preferably produced by a light hanging over center stage from a cord. There is a door at the back stage wall center, and a curtained entrance at stage right) MARK: This is where my common sense runs out, Pat. I have no idea what we are looking at. PAT: Runs out? MARK: Out… Here, there are wires…and there, there is something… a panel… more wires. PAT: A screw…a bulb…a knob…a switch… No, a— MARK: Yes…. I don’t know what we are holding anymore. Let’s put it down, Pat…on the chair… There’s no more we can do.
PAT: Well… It’s the wife, that— MARK: Ah, the wife… One understands. PAT: Yes (Slight pause) MARK: I remember once at a baseball game. Was it…a football game? …Well, I don’t remember which it was…. But— PAT: The wife is painting all the walls in the house…for the visitor… Changing EVERY-thing! I swear— MARK: Then, to me, he was an old man… But now, I am thinking he wasn’t that old…. I remember, I looked back… I see him next to his wife…she had a ruddy red face. She yells, her finger right in his face…. I think she said… “I’ll kill you in your sleep!!” PAT: The visitor, the visitor…the goddamn visitor— MARK: I watch them. The wife saw me first… she calms, acts natural… Then the man saw me… looks me dead in the eye and smiles… and he says, “Boy. Never marry a woman.” PAT: HA!
MARK: It’s the only thing I can remember right now… I can’t get it out of my mind. PAT: It makes sense, Mark. Now, I can’t hold this thing any longer. Where to put it? (Both actors use both of their hands to hold the FIXTURE, they point with motions of the head) MARK: Look… Let’s put it over there. (Slight pause) PAT: Where? …There? MARK: “Don’t ever marry a woman,” he tells me, “Ever.” PAT: Then what happened? MARK: Before long… I was engaged to me married. PAT: He was right. MARK: Right. PAT: Then kids. MARK: And debt.
PAT: Then youth— MARK: Gone— PAT: Just dust and wind. (Open door at backstage wall, enter LINDA) LINDA: Well. How is the fixture? MARK: I was just telling Pat….This is where my common sense runs out. PAT: It’s nothing but wires, loose screws, and scraps… the blades are dismantled, bulbs and glass hanging out and dangled. MARK: There’s no more we can do. LINDA: Well. MARK: I’ve got a friend who knows about these things… a doctor… He’ll know what we can and can’t do from this point… If there’s anywhere to go… from there. PAT: Perfect! Now, let’s put it down… My back is killing me. LINDA: Wait! Hold it there a moment. I want to have a look.
MARK: But— PAT: It’s no use, Mark. LINDA: Here! What’s this for? MARK: That goes here… inside that tube… I think, we’ve just unscrewed it… it’s part of— LINDA: And this piece? What’s this one for? Does it come off? PAT: We tried… but it’s… There’s something— MARK: There’s some kind of washer… something inside… a nut maybe… holding it there… in the center…where the tube— PAT: The wires go in the tube. MARK: And that makes the blades go round. (Pause) LINDA: And? PAT: And! …What do you mean by “AND?”!
LINDA: What are you saying, Pat? PAT: I’m trying to say that my back is killing me! LINDA: AND? PAT: And whenever your done probing the damn thing, I’d like to put it down. MARK: We are getting old for this. PAT: My back feels like warped plywood! LINDA: Oh…Piss and moan! That’s all your good for, I swear! Now, hold it right there and be quiet! PAT: Alright! But hurry up, okay! MARK: I am feeling a bit stiff myself. LINDA: Bring it over here… in the light (Pointing upstage) I can’t see anything here… (Pointing further up) Bring it here. (PAT & MARK move forward, side-stepping upstage)
PAT & MARK: All—right, there. LINDA: No, that’s no good… Turn it…here. (MARK & PAT turn 180 degrees, stop) Now...Hold it there. It’s perfect (Looks into object, pulls back. Pause) PAT: Well? LINDA: Don’t move. I have to get my glasses (Exit LINDA running. Pause) PAT: Hell! …This is plain hell. MARK: Basketball, no, football, no tennis… baseball…maybe a rodeo— PAT: What are you talking about, Mark? MARK: The weather. PAT: The weather? MARK: It was raining….cold… the old man under his clear poncho… the game…they argued… I watched them… It was a spectacle… I tell you Pat, a real spectacle. (Pause)
When did you marry, Pat? PAT: A long time ago. MARK: How long? PAT: I don’t remember. (Beat, sighs) I can’t remember. (Enter LINDA) LINDA: Don’t listen to him Mark. He’s lost. PAT: What!? LINDA: Mark, thank you again for helping us. You see, Pat knows absolutely nothing about anything!…….Be it common or concerning machines, electricity, parts, pieces… computers, processors, or technology— PAT: I know Civil Law goddamn it! That’s got to count for something! (Beat, PAT calms) MARK: It’s no problem, really. PAT: I know the Civil Code. LINDA: How does the Civil code help me, Pat?
PAT: How does it help you!? How? Incredible! MARK: Really, It’s no problem whatsoever. PAT: I’m going to— LINDA: What’s this? Does this come off? MARK: That’s the— LINDA: Yes, It’ll have to come off. I’ll have to paint it. What is it, again? PAT: Linda! Let the man speak! LINDA: Oh, hush! (Beat) MARK: Oh, That? …I…don’t know what that is. PAT: Isn’t that the same piece as before? MARK: No...I don’t think so…. It looks like it folds into that other… there, maybe it— LINDA: I’m not so sure. It looks like connects, rather than folds… inside that tube—
PAT: They connect, they fold, they come apart…It all looks the same! Can’t we just put it down? MARK: Right. It is getting heavier. LINDA: And you two are supposed to be men. PAT: We are OLD men. LINDA: Oh… All-right. (Beat) Well…..Remove the living room table, and bring it here in the light. (Beat) PAT: But we’re still holding the fixture. We can’t well remove the table, AND hold the fixture at the same time! MARK: That would be impossible. LINDA: Well you can’t put it down here in the shape you’ve got it in… pieces and wires all unraveled… No, the floor is absolutely filthy… And that fixture costs— PAT: I know exactly how much it costs! MARK: It is a nice fixture.
LINDA: Listen! I need the table removed… I need more space. PAT: But where to put the fixture? LINDA: Put it on the table. PAT: When? LINDA: Now! Just do it now for goodness sakes! I can’t think with you probing me like this! MARK: But that means— PAT: Come on Mark….At least we’ll get a moment’s rest. (MARK & PAT move toward back wall door) MARK: Oh, All…right… But I’ll need to call my wife. PAT: Don’t worry, Mark. She’ll call you. (Fade Lights to darkness, Approximately 10 seconds. Lights up, PAT & MARK center stage now holding dinning room table with body on top of table. Concentration of light on the center stage, as before) MARK: This is in no way better. PAT: Agreed. It is worse without doubt.
MARK: Where can she have gone off to? PAT: There’s no real way to know. She is nothing predictable. MARK: My wife probably— PAT: Don’t pretend you have the slightest idea! Here I am married for at least fifty-seven years, don’t have the slightest idea of what’s coming next…..Ever! MARK: No. I mean… I was going to say…my wife would be, worried, but that’s probably not true…. Now I’m thinking she’ll be, angry…. Oh yes, she will. PAT: And now you’ve got me thinking about how heavy this thing is becoming. (Yelling) Linda! What the hell are you doing in there?! LINDA: Hold your horses, I’m feeding the cats! PAT: We don’t have any more cats! LINDA: How would you know? (Beat) MARK: I don’t see any cats.
PAT: That’s because we don’t have any cats. MARK: Did you? PAT: God yes! I hate them. (Beat) Think they’re better than you. Don’t listen…. I mean…When loyalty means a dead bird at your door, morning after morning… I mean….Come on, Mark! Come on! MARK: So… No cats then? PAT: Oh, yes. She made me buy them to kill the moles. She cried and cried about the moles, about the soil, about how her yard was a ruin. …Yes, the cats… first one cat… then the moles began to disappear. (Beat) MARK: So…One cat, then? PAT: Christ no! When my daughter divorced, she brought the two kids to stay here with us! MARK: Wait Pat… Kids or Cats? PAT: Both! …The kids found the cats in a garbage can and brought them here! The women decided it was better to keep them, the cats… Understand? …The three cats…..No moles whatsoever, do you hear me?
MARK: What happened to them? PAT: They’ve all died, or run off. ….That was all, very long ago. MARK: She thinks they’re still alive…..Is that it? PAT: No she’s thinking of different cats. MARK: I’m confused. PAT: That’s understandable. It is confusing. Listen. Three cats…. The first, untamed, like a ghost. The second did nothing but sleep…. And the third— MARK: Oh, wait! I know! PAT: Well, I’m glad you’ve come around Mark. You’ve lived across the street for thirty years. MARK: My wife… Barbara… called…Linda… Because she saw her— PAT: Patches— MARK: That’s it…Patches… in the yard…making—
PAT: Babies….Making babies! MARK: Oh… PAT: Right. The cats proliferated. Within months there were seven in total. Cats everywhere…. More moths… More cats… that is, until my daughter moved away. MARK: But Pat, she still lives here, doesn’t she? PAT: What do you take me for Mark, senile? MARK: No…It’s just that she’s coming toward us right now…right there. PAT: Really? Where? (Trying to look behind his back) I can’t see anything….holding this thing. (Enter BARBARA, from stage right) BARBARA: Where the hell have you been, Mark? MARK: Here… I’ve been right here all morning…or for God knows how long….under this same light, standing right here. BARBARA: You could have called!
PAT: How! How could he have called? He can’t even move… I can’t even move— BARBARA: Oh, dad, be quiet, will you! …..Where’s mother? PAT: What!? (Beat) I mean…she’s inside, feeding the cats….even though I keep telling her that we don’t have any damn cats, and she— BARBARA: What have you done with the cats, dad!? (To MARK) Where is the child? MARK: The child? ...Oh! Jeremiah, he is…..Well, how should I know… This isn’t my weekend, is it? PAT: All the cats have died dear. BARBARA: All right dad, All right. (Beat) PAT: Linda! …Barbara is here! LINDA: Tell her to come inside. I’m painting the living room. (Exit BARBARA)
PAT: What!! …Do you realize that we’re still out here! That we’re still holding this god-forsaken table! LINDA: What have you done with the fixture? PAT: It’s on the goddamn table! Right here in mid-air, waiting for you! (Beat. Enter LINDA) LINDA Oh, I’m so sorry, Mark. I simply forgot. I don’t know what I was thinking… It wasn’t till you just called me that I realized I was painting the wall… I was somewhere else. PAT: We both know damn well your were somewhere else. Now what do we do with this table? MARK: Yes… It is getting heavier. LINDA: Well, why are you holding it like that? PAT: Unbelievable! LINDA: Now you just hush, Pat! … I was speaking to Mark. (Beat) MARK: Uhm…because you told us to…. To hold it until you came back.
LINDA: Oh, did I…really? PAT: No… you didn’t come back! You never— LINDA: You haven’t the slightest idea of what we’re talking about, Pat. You’d do better to just keep silent. PAT: Insupportable! MARK: But what do we do with it… The table, I mean…What do we do? LINDA: Well, now that you’ve got it here in the light…let’s give it a look… Now, move it a little this way. (LINDA rotates table 90 degrees; all stop) No…tilt it a bit…like this… (Table tilts) No…here, there is a shadow…turn it here… (Turns table 90 degrees. Looking into fixture) Pat, did I tell you that I called Briely to take down a few walls? PAT: Which walls? MARK: It’s too heavy… Let’s just put it down…please. PAT: Yes. Where to put it? LINDA: Here…
(Pointing to stage left; men move accordingly) No…Here. (Pointing to back stage left; men move) No, It’s filthy here… There’s not enough light… Now, Here… (Pointing to stage center, men return to original positions) Here…Perfect here, under the light. MARK: Great. Let’s put it down right here under the light. PAT: All right. LINDA: No, no! It’s absolutely filthy here…under the light. We can’t. MARK: Then lets pull it out from under the light. (Beat) LINDA: Then how am I to see the fixture, Mark? MARK: I— PAT: Don’t answer that, Mark. It’s a trap. (Fade lights to darkness. 10 seconds, then lights up; MARK & PAT center stage holding table; fixture on table) PAT: Tear down the walls…amazing… I swear. We’re here holding this godforsaken burden, and she’s got Briely on the phone one minute, and the next the son of a bitch is stripping down the walls.
MARK: I’m not sure I trust Briely, Pat. PAT: I don’t even know which walls are still standing… Where…is she? MARK: Does it seem to you that the fixture is…growing? PAT: Growing? MARK: Changing…I mean… Look at it in the light… It seems… longer, wider… as though there are more pieces than before. PAT: You may be right, Mark. Though I can’t examine it from here…with both hands holding this table… I’m too far from it to see it well. MARK: Right… I guess it is hard to see it well…and my eyes aren’t what they used to be… But, I tell you that something, has changed…though I’m not exactly sure what. PAT: Now that you mention it… I think I’m looking right at its feet…If it were to have feet…. And your side of the table…would have to be the torso…hypothetically speaking…of course. MARK: This side seems more complicated, the layers of casing look like shells…or, thin plate-like bones…on set on top the other…I mean, now that we’ve pulled it apart and separated them… they look that way.
PAT: Mark, I’ll move right, and you left… I want to get a look at your side of it. MARK: Okay, let’s change. (Both shuffling feet, 180 degrees) PAT: There…Your right Mark. It has changed shape… I’m seeing it in a completely different light… Look at that blade, drawn from the center socket as though it were an arm… Here I can almost see it’s face… It’s got a golden bolt for a nose…and the gyro, being the neck, of course. MARK: All I see from here are wires…Wires sprawling outward like curling toenails, running up to the knee sockets like throbbing veins… or tendons. PAT: I see the eyes… two gouged black holes… Let me correct myself…I see the eye sockets…we’ve torn out the eyes with the screwdriver…they are laying around here somewhere. MARK: I want to see the eye sockets…are they profound? Can you see inside them? PAT: There is too much light…..the skull is golden and glaring… It’s almost blinding me… (With head turning away, toward the public, eyes closed) Here…Let’s swap… You take the eyes… Go.
(Both men go to turn in the same direction; the table tilts, body moves, this action produces a noise of clanking metal objects) LINDA: What are you two doing out there, making all that noise? PAT: We’re holding the goddamn table! LINDA: And the fixture? PAT: It’s on the table…Right here, waiting for you to examine it! MARK: I’d almost forgotten that we were holding it. PAT: So did I… How long have we been here…like this? MARK: I’ve no idea. PAT: Linda! …Linda! LINDA: What! PAT: How long have we been here…like this? LINDA: Its hurts to count (Beat) Years…at least
PAT: What! …That’s not possible. I would know if I’d been holding a table on the porch for years… I would know if it were months…or fortnights, even….Don’t pull my legs now, Linda. Tell me the truth. (Pause) PAT: Never a straight answer, Mark, I swear. MARK: There’s always got to be some kind of…..of— PAT: Motive. I think you mean to say motive, Mark. (Beat) MARK: “Never marry a woman,” he tells me… “Ever” …then I just turned around and watched the game. PAT: How long ago was that, Mark? MARK: I don’t know…. Sometime last century. PAT: That long! MARK: I was only a boy…I didn’t understand….It was a different epoch… Who knows, Pat. (Beat) PAT: What can they be doing in there? (Beat)
MARK: Pat….Is Barbara my wife? PAT: Frankly, I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask her for yourself. MARK: Barbara!...Barbara!...Barb— BARBARA: What! MARK: What are you doing? BARBARA: I’m speaking to the funeral-home….hush up…I can’t hear a thing. (Beat) Give me in five minutes. MARK: Sure thing, honey…..Five minutes…five minutes…five minutes… Do you have a watch, Pat? ….Five minutes…five minutes… PAT: Yes…but holding this thing I can’t turn my wrist to see it…I can’t… (Trying to look at wrist) Almost…see…no, it’s the shadow … Here…let’s change…we’ve got to change…this way. (They move, table tilts, noise) No…that way. (Turn table 120 degrees) There…I can almost…No, this way, this way… (Complete 180 degrees) There…almost, no…like this…
(Rotate other 180 degrees stage left, back to original positions) There…It’s…about 3:45 pm. MARK: How long ago was five minutes ago? PAT: About five minutes ago, I suppose. MARK: Barbara!..…Barbara!... Who’s died? (Beat) Perhaps it’s not been five minutes. PAT: Mark. What are we doing here? MARK: I don’t know… Maybe we should ask the women…Barbara! ...Are you there? …Can you hear me? (LINDA puts head through the door) LINDA: Shh! Pipe down! She’s on the phone with the funeral home! PAT: Who’s died? LINDA: Her father. PAT: Oh…That’s terrible. (To MARK) Did you know him?
MARK: I believe so. (Beat) PAT: Mark... From this light I think I can see the mouth. MARK: The mouth? …Where? LINDA: Shh! PAT: Here…there (Bobbing head) …right here…do you see it? MARK: Where? …Where? PAT: Above the neck, below the eye sockets…below the nose… MARK: I don’t see anything…let’s move again. (Rotate 180 degrees) My god, what is it? PAT: It’s... It’s…It’s MARK: It was you Pat. PAT: It is me?
MARK: The man at the game. PAT: It is me? MARK: It was you, Pat. PAT: Where?... Am I— MARK: Here, Pat. You are here…It’s you…It’s—. PAT: But Mark, listen! You’re not understanding me….Am I the visitor? (Beat) MARK: I don’t know, Pat. You’ll have to ask your wife. (Blackout) END
A short drama by Louisiana native, Patterson Willis.