Friday, August 27, 2010

Running with the Iowa Goatsinger

AT RISE: IOWA GOATSINGER sits on platform upstage just off-right of CENTER with his guitar in hand.

(YOUNG MAN enters)

There are ghosts in Mount Revere,
the Iowa Goatsinger told me.
He showed them to me
when we were out running together one morning.


(IG waves)

Mount Revere is a town that thinks its streets make better sidewalks,
and this means often walking --
or running in my case --
past Mount Revere neighbors:
neighbors who may be out walking up to the Hickory-Stick-little-hippie-grocery-store-slash-deli
for a chicken wrap,
and then maybe across to the Diesel Coffeeshop with its jazz or indy music;
or neighbors who may be heading down to Stan's Tru Valu
to get groceries for the week;

or neighbors who are out walking or running just
because it feels good.

And passing others means greeting others, doesn't it?

But when I smile or nod or wave a hand as I go clopping by --
heart beating strong, music pounding a dance rhythm down the street for me --
they don't always return it.

Sometimes they look away,
or pointedly
look away --
like the tall, pretty woman who can be seen out around seven in the morning, rain or shine:
large-eyed, angular and attractive, sometimes smoking as she walks, never looking my way, and

She's not a ghost. Not yet.


It was a foggy morning when the Iowa Goatsinger went running with me.

(IG moves in some significant way in response)


The fog
was a cloud laying
lazy across the town.

It was a good morning for ghosts.

I didn't know that when I stepped off my front porch and to the sidewalk.

(mimes putting on headphones, pushing PLAY, and then running for a bit)

Twenty mother-
huffing minutes later and
I was just coming around the
big curve off the new development --
you know, behind the
gravel business, just up from the skatepark built in the shadow
of the old high school up on the hill --
when I first saw it:

the ghost.

It was a ghost.

(stops running. pause)

It was.

had the form
of a gray man:

and solid-looking.

Its back was to me --
it was moving down the slope of the street, head cocked strangely
to one side.


The Goatsinger -- geek that he is --
that's when he decides to remind me of the stories of Theseus --
yeah --
and his first journey to Athens.

And okay,
maybe this was the ghost of the monster Periphetes,
this giant
with a club.

Maybe this gray
was just waiting for me to get close enough so it could turn,
raise up,
it's mouth splitting wide and jagged,
and lift this big-ass ax all at once!
-- up in its left hand!
-- already swinging it back over its right shoulder!
-- already burying itself --
in my guts.

When the fog burned off I wouldn't just be found beaten up,
I'd be found in pieces
at the corner of the skate park.

(miming running again)

I came running up behind the ghost and thinking my monster-thoughts,
John Lennon kicking into an old rock and roll song in my head.

And I'm thinking:
"I just happen to be running this way,
nothing to worry about
Gray Man; just –"
When the gray man suddenly stopped --
and I found myself jumping suddenly --

(mimes jumping in slow motion past the gray man)

there's something in its hand --

and I was past.

(mimes hitting the ground and running back to full speed)

At the corner of the park,
rather than just plunging down the cement path beside the creek
with its woods and shadows,

(turning sideways -- facing STAGE RIGHT)

I turned
so I could run the steep street that ran

(turning face forward)

up alongside the football field
and then up alongside
the old


(mimes running uphill -- very difficult)

At the top,
on the quiet side of Main Street, I turned

(turns sideways -- facing LEFT)

and began my descent down the slope that bottomed
at the cemetery.

It's a long, slow decline.
The houses give up
to the creek and the small woods.

And it was out from these small woods that the ghost again appeared --
still in the shape of the gray man --
head still strangely cocked at the object held in its right hand.

But I wasn't afraid this time.

Maybe it was because we were on the Main Drag of Mount Revere.
Although, at this end,
as it heads down to the cemetery
that doesn't mean much.

So maybe it must be because I saw
that this was not the ghost of some
ax murderer,
but only the lonely spirit
of a lonely man.

I pulled back my headphone so I could let him know I'd hear him if he spoke,
and I started past him.

(miming jumping by the gray man in slow motion)

But his head never came up.

We vaulted by him,
the Iowa Goatsinger and me,

(miming landing and running again at normal speed)

and we turned at the corner of the cemetery and disappeared

(turning UPSTAGE)

down another hill,
into the fog.

(pause in the monologue as YOUNG MAN mimes running -- turning LEFT, then FORWARD, then RIGHT, then FORWARD)

Few minutes later,
on the sidewalk down by Stan's Tru Valu,
I passed a woman jogging in the other direction.

I smiled and she smiled.

(YOUNG WOMAN enters from UPSTAGE discreetly and sits facing upstage on a stool next to IG)

And then I passed another ghost.
I think it was a ghost -- like a pretty lady with large eyes, angular and attractive,
it glanced at me and our eyes met --
that ghost and me --
and then we both looked quickly away.

There was this old rock and roll tune in my ears during all this --
Chuck Berry wrote it, John Lennon sang it --
the tune that carried me as I ran with the Goatsinger that morning
past the ghosts
of Mount Revere.