Tree in winter. Enter GIGI and KIKI, young women.
We wait for the report,
For Mueller’s mule-work mull’d throughout Mall’s mile.
We wait for proof of what the Don’s acts prove,
That Russian propagandists crown’d him Prez,
That they, not darkest veins in our own hearts,
Have cast this fool’s-gold era of our land.
That Trump committed treason, perjury,
And undeniable depravities
Upon the flag ’pon which he forces hugs.
My heels do trouble me.
Rest them. It comes.
And if not soon?
Then later, sure.
Or the after-day. Anon.
The very act of waiting shuffles time,
Transmogrifying hours into life
Innumerate and thus more fully liv’d.
To chase a fancy doth defenestrate
The moments that would otherwise oppress
And zero out the numbers on the clock.
Come, GiGi, small amusements we can find.
GIGI (takes out phone).
The top-right corner’s timekeeper remains.
It seems to me that once my scroll did show
A lighthearted collage of cats and dogs
Who sought, in charming broken English, treats
And wonder’d wide-eyed “wows” like toddling babes.
Friends’ wedding-photos, graduations, jobs
Shew’d happiness that seem’d t’portend my own.
Yet as this play goes on, the lighting dims.
What photographs I see of animals
Are often rescues thinn’d by cruelty,
Vicariosity becomes FOMO,
And earnest essays from the powerless
Keep e’er in mind that which I sought t’escape.
This mean performance boos its audience,
Yet fear of losing relevance in life
And gray cerebrochemistries pin me
Beneath the stage from which tomatoes fly.
I squirm, my skirt stuck fast with pre-chew’d gum,
Its sugar spent, its fun a trap become.
KIKI (takes out phone).
A single scroll is not a library.
So many magicks lie entangl’d in
Our handheld rectangles, each ’neath our nails,
Its rounded-corner square a torchlit door
A single gesture sends us ambling through.
Examine thou this grid of pictographs
And styliz’d phonograms until we find
Harmonic key to soothe unquiet mind.
That VCR play-button, calling back
The comforts of a Sunday afternoon
Replaying shows themselves recall’d from ere,
Hath oft mov’d me to glibly sacrifice
Work-hours mark’d for productivity.
YouTube’s slime-alchemy and whisper’d words
Massage my eyes and ears to rainbow-buzz.
Its lotus-fruit juice dribbles sweetly, but
It platforms white supremacists, I fear,
And other fact-deniers.
Ah, my thanks:
I was in danger of enjoying things.
Peace, peace. Behold this beast-collecting game;
Observe as it replaces wall with wall,
To situate us in augmented world
Of fauna too phantasmagorical
To live in our polluted age —
— Apologies, I shall correct myself —
To live outside imagination, yet
In outside they now are, and we must walk
To “catch them all,” as nineties children say.
GIGI and KIKI begin to walk about.
And so we circumnavigate the globe
And draw circumference with Pokéballs,
To tone our ankles as our minds take flight.
Mens sana in corpore sano.
Look yon! Nay, use my phone as periscope!
She holds up the phone. Enter CHARIZARD, a dragon.
O dragon I once thought a dinosaur!
My eight-year-old taxonomy did fail
In peer review, but recollection warms
My heart e’en at my age of twenty-six.
Are not your years now twenty-seven full?
There was, I mark, a party —
Young I am,
But one is ne’er too young to younger be.
The dragon flees. Pursue! Ensphere him fast!
CHARIZARD moves away. KIKI and GIGI pursue, KIKI holds up her phone like a scepter. CHARIZARD struggles briefly, then heels to her.
Your words ring true, for younger I now feel.
I doth detect another creature near.
Let’s walk —
Enter PIKACHU, pursued by CHRISTOPHER.
What ho! Halt, mouse! Fate hath ordained
Thou be my catspaw!
CHRISTOPHER captures PIKACHU as KIKI captured CHARIZARD.
GIGI (to CHRISTOPHER).
Well hunted, sir. (aside) I could imagine him
Hogtying any creature, mastering
Her ev’ry thrash and grunt beneath his wrists.
(to CHRISTOPHER) My name and greeting fuse: GiGi I am,
And though we lose our prize, I say “good game.”
And I am Christopher, fair maids.
GIGI (to KIKI).
Hast thy vocabulary shrunk to match
The monoverbal Pokémon in orbs?
“KiKi” shan’t open doors, and you and I
Could each unlocking use. (to CHRISTOPHER) Pray pardon us.
KiKi began this game to balm my soul,
But competition boils her blood betimes.
A Washingtonian asserts herself,
As woman must if her ambition is
To argue cases in the legal courts,
Those that prevent the footfall-namèd beast
From rubber-stamping kaiju-heels on th’land,
The law, the only dirt-road barrier
From the United States of ’Merica
To the United Trumps of Trumpic Trump.
But self-aggrandizement is not my wish:
Scarce more than intern my position is.
Now tell your station, for I’m sure it holds
More interest than jurisprudent texts.
Security hath been my field, although
It hath not offer’d me security.
I am at leisure, living leanly now
Upon the savings made this decade past
In Secret Service to the office I
Once thought no man could soil.
We all once thought these times impossible.
Impassible, howe’er, they may not be,
As thou hast argued: so we hunt game-game.
Free Christopher may join us on our quest,
And future captures may be credited
To each of us as efforts we combine.
(to CHRISTOPHER). Thou, sir, mayst play with me, or with my friend,
Or with us both, as preference dictates.
In temperament thou shalt discover us
To be as flexible as boa-snakes.
I will not choose betwixt your companies.
Good GiGi, your infectious cheer delights,
And in your light my gloom may sun itself.
But KiKi’s frame of mind I recognize:
Desiring mirth, but less to mirth inclin’d.
To aid her climb is thus to aid my own.
Let us away: I see a Squirtle rove.
They walk about. Enter SQUIRTLE. The three hold up their phones and capture it together; it heels by GIGI. CHRISTOPHER and PIKACHU walk forward while GIGI and KIKI discourse behind, SQUIRTLE and CHARIZARD at their heels.
A Squirtle spear’d.
I said naught.
And naughtily thou said it. One cannot
Enjoy a private joke so publicly.
A private joke?
I have undone myself.
Not yet, thou hast not. But the day is young,
And we may make it younger yet anon.
CHRISTOPHER (to phone).
God’s furnace blast them!
What troubles thee?
The game reports my blue gymnasium
Is compromis’d, beset by rogues in red.
I must reclaim it. Roaches! Is there naught
Of cleanness skitt’ring feet cannot befoul?
Why must this hated color blood my eyes?
I’ll fire until this fire doth fire no more!
GIGI (to KIKI).
I find Orion turns to Acteon,
Our handsome huntsman to hate-hissing Hyde.
But thou art more discerning oft than I,
And I would fain be told my senses lie.
KIKI (to GIGI).
I think upon his new-discarded badge
And whom he must have call’d superior,
Absorbing screams from President below
And protestors above. I wonder not
That he is angry thus. But source of ire
Must matter less to us than lack of aim.
Without direction, fury targets what
And whom is near. Let us not be so ring’d.
(to CHRISTOPHER). I have receiv’d a text, we must away —
CHRISTOPHER (to phone).
Exeunt CHRISTOPHER and PIKACHU.
Whither must we go?
That text was but a fiction I compos’d,
So easily thou fabulate. I fret
’Twill never come as normally to me.
Thou underratest thee, Ms. “Twenty-Six.”
But now that he no more endangers us,
Have pity for our momentary swain
Whose heart doth stumble, blind in power’s shade,
Pursuing phantoms with unseeing blade.
GIGI looks at her phone. SQUIRTLE and CHARIZARD depart their masters’ heels.
I have receiv’d a news alert. It could
Be that for which we wait.
Aye, open it.
I err’d. It is another tale of doom,
The opposite, in fact, of what I sought.
Exeunt SQUIRTLE and CHARIZARD.
Let us not read it, then.
Aye, let us not.
They read. Exeunt.
END ACT TWO