(In Darkness)

Woman- is this on?

Lights come up on Woman down stage center. Behind her is a table, at the table sits someone covered in a sheet.

Woman- this is the emergency broadcast channel. Have you come to laugh? Welcome once again, this is a window into my despair. Yes, I am alone, alone, alone, alone. But for the flies, alone. Yes, there are flies, yes, of course there are flies, they come for the toe, they lay their eggs in the toe. That toe (points to a corner.) It’s been there for some time. Some time. Whose? I don’t know. You have noticed the sweating, and if not before, then you have now. I get a head of the story, I talk about my sweat, I don’t leave it to be hushed and murmured behind my back, I confess it’s a condition. Too much old fruit in the diet, grapes long fallen from the vine. I had one earlier I’ll be the first to admit. It sits now as a rancid raft amidst a reeking pool. I would purge but for the condition of my teeth. Loose, shrinking, weeping blood. Thats what this is for. (Holds up a kerchief) To dab at the stains. You will see me do it, now you know why. (Begins to panic) No, no, no, don’t change the station, I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll dance, see, (Begins dancing.) Don’t go, yes, see… I would sing, oh god how I would sing, I would sing til the stars blossomed, I long to sing. Then sing you say, sing damn you. It’s the pressure, the nerves, they constrict, they coil, they wither and warp. Where is the music? Where is the music? (Music begins to play. Maybe Tea for Two.) Oh god, rapturous music, heaven weeps sweet music. (Wipes eyes) And as it came it shall go, and we will be alone once again. Alone but for the guest. (Music fades) Yes, thats right, this week its different. This week I have a guest. This week I scream into the void with someone beside me. We will go meet him together. (Spins and moves back towards the table. Pulling the sheet off reveals Chester A. Arthur, former president, only he’s a Disneyland type robot.) Chester A. Arthur, such a pleasure to meet you. I mean, president Arthur, I mean Mr. Arthur. (No Response) Its… I have prepared a meal, if you are hungry I mean. (No response) Please, Mr Arthur. Please. Mr. Arthur, President sir, please, Chester, Mr President, Chester, please, Arthur, Mr Chester, please, I have prepared a meal, chester please, Mr, Arthur. (Something activates.)

Narrator- Narration: Greetings and Welcome to the California Museum of American History. On this stop you will get a chance to hear from Chester A Arthur, the 21st president of the united states. Mr Arthur was born in fairfield Vermont in 1859 and grew up in upstate new york. Let us Listen in on some of the wise words President Arthur shared with the world.

Woman- Oh, yes, yes splendid.

Chester- Experience has shown that the trade of the east is the key to national wealth and influence.

Woman- Of course, yes, the east, always the east, I am and have always been firm in that.

Chester-The health of the people is of supreme importance. All measures looking to their protection against the spread of contagious diseases and to the increase of our sanitary knowledge for such purposes deserve the attention of Congress.

Woman- Sanitation, that most holy of endeavours, yes Mr. Arthur, go on. I am all ears, first the east then Sanitation.

Chester-Honors to me now are not what they once were.

Woman- It’s the food then, you will not touch it for you know it to be cold. You hate it and me by proxy.

Chester-I may be president of the United States, but my private life is nobody’s damned business.

Woman- What is it? My face? I’ll claw it away to dust Mr Arthur to dust!

Chester- And we’ll round up all the children and feed them to the bears.

Woman- I will hush, I am too eager, I long to be loved, to feel loved. You must understand. Do you understand? I see that you do. You know I have waited for someone like you for some time. Not in that way Mr Arthur. Nothing untowards, only in the way a bloody tooth longs for the kerchief, to dab and make clean, to show the soul, the kind, pure soul underneath.

Chester- When I was a boy I ate wasps straight from the hive and they made such a terrible soreness upon my throat. Results of excessive stinging, the doctor’s diagnosis. Keep that boy out of the pond, he has ringworm. And so gathering all of the stones upon my head I set about twirling.

Woman- Yes… please continue, I want to understand you.

Narration- Please remain seated and remember to respect the other audience members by keeping quiet throughout the show. Sudden movements are strictly forbidden.

Chester- I am 111 and eleven years old, I am unkillable, I’m going to live forever.

Woman- I have been thinking about all the things we could do. There is cleaning yes, chores of course but also games. We needn’t resign ourselves to unhappiness, not anymore.

Chester- When the time comes they will know how to spell accomodate for I shall have taught it to them as would their own fathers.

Woman- Well I hope it won’t keep you too busy, you’ll have your hands quite full already I mean. We have so much to do. The people will want to watch us, they will return to watch us, our banter, our charm.

Chester- Have I mentioned then that for many years I wore a hat, fearing my head to be too pointy, but now I declare proudly, whose head is pointier than mine? None.

Woman- How rude of me, you’ll want a tour of our home. This is the table of course, and there is the toe. “It looks like a grape,” you’ll say, and I’ll say, “so what have I been eating,” and we’ll laugh and laugh. And they’ll laugh too. And of course these are the dark walls that confine us here alone.

Chester- (Its a grand Old Flag begins to play and chester does and awkward robotic marching dance. He also mouths the words in a crude imitation of singing.)

Woman- Oh, Mr. Arthur, we don’t have to do that anymore, we are not clowns. You mustn’t feel pressured to debase yourself for their entertainment.

( Chesters Movement becomes more human. Music fades. He address the “Camera” (audience.)

Chester- Upon my return I found that the cabin was smouldering, the corpses of burned rabbits lay scattered amidst the unfinished croquet game. I took one and cradled it as a newborn against my breast, allowing a tear to fall and caress its blackened fir, in this way a farewell to my childhood. Father had built the cabin as a young man, but now he was old and his bones had become of the softness, he bent and wobbled in his gait, and mothers paintings, once verdant fields and scenes of springtime now sores upon naked men who stand awkwardly amidst grazing emaciated sheep. I recall as it was yesterday the bitter taste of ash on the air and in my nostrils, the smoke I’d seen from yonder hillock where I’d gone to bury little Jeffrey who’d I run over with my carriage and desiring that none should know I did this in secret. My thoughts raced, had jeffrey’s Father Rupert witnessed my crime and exacted vengeance by way of the cabin fire? Along this path my mind ran until recalling a precarious lantern placed off balance in haste to hide the little Jeffreys body in yonder hillock. Twas by mine own hand that the cabin blazed and considering this fact I idly perused the rubble in hopes to find my belongings buried amidst the embers. Finding but a tattered and charred pair of shoes I observed I was barefooted, and endevouring so amongst the debris had made of my feet a great catastrophe. I recalled the satyr, who stood upon the hooves of a goat. I drew many plans and pictures of this like upon the rocks that day, my pen a great piece of wood half burned in the blaze. I fell asleep dreaming of pulling a carriage filled up with beautiful women, born forward by my cloven hoofs. I awoke in a drizzle to find my plans washed asunder, as all men’s dreams upon some rising dawn. The nights rain had dislodged young Jeffreys body from its shallow grave and he now rushed down the hill carried in the floods current finally coming to rest against the very carriage that had crushed him. The rock chucks had been at the body in the night, evidence that they had again, eluded my traps.

Narration- This concludes the Chester A Arthur interactive exhibit performance. Thank you for visiting the California Museum of American History. Make sure you have all your belongings before exiting the theater. (Chester freezes in place again.)

Woman-(First lines delivered over the Narration and Chester powering down.) Wait. Hold on a moment. Chester, Mr. Arthur sir. Please don’t…Oh no, no no no. This is wrong this is all wrong. This is terrible, this is horrible. Some sort of technical difficulties it seems. (To audience) Perhaps you would wait, before changing the station, it can’t be terribly long, it won’t be. He’ll come back too, I’m certain. In the meantime, see, I’ll dance, bring back the music,(music plays) see I’m dancing,(Lights begin to fade) don’t go, it gets better, don’t bring back the dark. I’m dancing, you like the dancing, don’t leave me. Don’t leave me. Don’t go…