Worthwhile

 

Music club, early evening. Audience for play is audience for musician. If the audience can be made to feel even the slightest degree of uncertainty as to whether they are at a play or a nightclub concert, so much the better. For example, KARLY can be on stage as people arrive, checking the mike, the speakers, stepping off to chat with the sound guy. Getting water, and so on.

 

When the time to begin comes, KARLY sits on a tall stool. She tunes her guitar while she starts talking.

 

 

KARLY

Good evening everybody and thanks for coming out tonight, especially in this terrible storm. I’m Karly, like in Simon, only not so famous. And with a K. Like Marx. Only like if Karl Marx was, you know, a woman. One with only slightly communist tendencies.  I mean, a girl’s got to make a living!

 

I guess some of his friends could have called him Karly, right? It couldn’t have been all “Workers Unite!” all the time. Sometimes I bet his friends were all “Hey Karly, let’s go get some beers,” and Karl would have said “Don’t call me Karly, all right?” and his friends would have said, “Hey lighten up Karly, you’re always so serious. Get a beer in you and let’s go watch the football.”

 

Well, it might have been like that. I wrote a song once about the Communist Party but it didn’t really go anywhere.

 

                        Oh the Communist Party

                        Wasn’t much fun

                        The peanuts were soggy

                        They ran out of rum

 

                        The music was lousy

                        And no one would dance

                        So Emma Goldman left early

                        In no mood for romance.

 

                        Vlady was moody

                        Leon was drunk

                        The Bolshies were grumpy

                        Mao fell into a funk.

 

                        The dishes got filthy

                        No one wanted to wash’em

                        The workers united;

                        They were through with oppression.

 

                        Come to the Communist Party

                        And I’ll give you a clue --

                        If you can’t find the party,

                        The Party will find you.

 

But you see what I mean, right? It just doesn’t have heart, you know? And if there’s one thing about my music, it comes from the heart. It’s real and it’s raw and true. And if tonight, driving home, you think, man, that girl’s had a hard life, well then, you’d be right but it’s been worth it. Because I can sing about it. And that makes it into something beautiful.

 

You know, I nearly didn’t make it tonight. The storm… well, how ‘bout that storm, huh folks? Sky the color of spoiled milk, wind like the breath of hell, hot from an oven one minute and colder than frozen peas the next. You ever eat frozen peas? I mean, still frozen? They’re like spring fighting winter back. Uh huh. You should try them.

 

Anyway, I nearly didn’t make it here tonight but I did and so did you and now that we’re all here I’m going to play some music.  I hope you like it.

 

(She starts to play.)

 

I met a boy, his name was Joe

And he was quite a Romeo

We went off driving down the road

And didn’t look back, or even slow.

 

My heart was his and his was mine

Like in a childhood valentine --

 

 

JOE

(in audience, starts clapping really loudly,

although the song is clearly not over)

Wow! That was really… Wow! What a romance, eh? I’m just…

 

KARLY

(peering into audience)

Well thanks. Do I know you?

 

JOE

Do you… well, I should hope so!

 

KARLY

Gary? Is that you?

 

JOE

Ha ha! Guess again!

 

KARLY

Ben! I thought you were in California this week…

 

JOE

Wrong again! But don’t stop now, Karly. This is better than flipping through mug shots at the police station. No, not him, officer. The man I saw had black hair, a large curly mustache and the cutest little mole right there.

 

KARLY

Joe? Oh my god! Joe! Well – wow. Come on up here! Everybody, this is Joe, like in the song! Big hand for Joe! Well, I haven’t seen Joe in…

 

JOE

In…

 

KARLY

Well, in ages! Not since… well, not for a long time, anyway. Where’d you spring from, anyway, huh? How’d you find me? You should have called first!

 

JOE

What, and spoil the surprise?

 

KARLY

Well, it is a surprise, that’s for sure.

 

JOE

It was meant to be.

 

KARLY

Yeah, well, I’m surprised.

 

JOE

Hey, you know what surprised me?

 

KARLY

What?

 

JOE

You walking out on me. Boy, oh boy, was I surprised.

 

KARLY

Oh, hey, Joe. Hey.

 

JOE

In fact, I’m still shaking! You really got me there, Karly. Ha.

 

KARLY

Can we talk about this later?

 

JOE

Like later tonight? Or later as in “See you later, Joe” and then you vanish and I spend the next four years wondering where you went and why you left and what it all meant anyway and whether life is worth living any more.

 

KARLY

Like later tonight.

 

JOE

Because there’s no real way for me to tell with you.

 

KARLY

Later tonight. Promise.

 

JOE

You promise? Oh well, that I can believe! That I can trust! It’s not like you ever promised me anything before! Not like you promised you loved me and promised you needed me and promised you would never leave me never never and that we’d grow old together and have three children and eleven grandchildren and a dog named Monkey and learn to swing dance and brew our own beer. Not like you ever promised me any of that.

 

(Pause.)

 

Can I start again?

 

KARLY

Oh god.

 

JOE

I just think we might be getting off on the wrong foot.

 

KARLY

Really?

 

JOE

Yes.

 

 

 

KARLY

The wrong foot being you interrupting my song and embarrassing me in front of all these people.

 

JOE

Um yes.

 

KARLY

That’s a pretty big wrong foot.

 

JOE

Sorry.

 

KARLY

And while it’s great to see you, old times and all that, I’m in the middle of a set right now.

 

JOE

Oh. Yes. Sorry. While I was here I just wanted to…

 

KARLY

And you see all these people? These people are here too. Despite the storm outside. And they presumably, want to hear me sing or they’d be next door learning to throw pots or at home watching pro-wrestling with the lights turned way down. Safe and dry. Warm and snug. Instead they’re here while the storm rages outside and you treat them to an episode of All My Children. So why don’t you sit down and I’ll finish singing and then later on – later on tonight -- we can get a beer or something.

 

JOE

Well –

 

KARLY

Promise.

(Immediately starts strumming.)

 

I met a boy, his name was Joe

And he was quite a Romeo

We went off driving down the road

And didn’t look back, or even slow.

 

My heart was his and his was mine

Like in a childhood valentine

Other lovers come and go

But not my Joe, my Romeo. (spoken: or so I wanted to believe…)

 

But Romeo failed Juliet

And Joe was gonna fail me yet

One night so drunk he could not see

He took my bag and car from me.

           

Like a devil from hell was on his heels

He span off like a Ferris wheel

Wrecked my car and broke my heart

And my whole life just fell apart.

           

I cried so hard, I drowned in tears

But then I stood and faced my fears

Lovers come and lovers go

Even Joe, my Romeo.

 

 

KARLY

(Acknowledges applause)

Thanks everyone. My next song is about –

 

JOE

Wait. Before we move on, change topics as it were, can I just say something about that last song?

 

KARLY

What.

 

JOE

It’s not true.

 

KARLY

 What’s not true?

 

JOE

The song.

 

KARLY

The one you interrupted.

 

JOE

Yes, that one. It’s not true. Not one single word. And I should know.

 

KARLY

It is too true.

 

JOE

No it’s not.

 

KARLY

Yes it is.

 

JOE

Well, maybe a tiny bit here and there.

 

KARLY

Here and there counts.

 

JOE

Not to me.

 

KARLY

We did like to drive places.

 

JOE

Okay, that’s true. But it was my car.

 

KARLY

Was it?

 

JOE

And you were the one who drove off. You wrecked the car, not me. And as I remember, there was someone with you at the time.

 

KARLY

(remembering)

Oh yeah! Who was that?

 

JOE

You don’t remember?

 

KARLY

I did hit my head pretty hard.

 

JOE

Not hard enough.

 

KARLY

That’s unfair.

 

JOE

No, what’s unfair is that you’re using my life for your song and that you don’t even get it right.

 

KARLY

You know what? I’m not interested. I don’t care. Who cares if you drove the car or I did?

 

JOE

I care. It’s my life. I was – it mattered to me. Karly, I loved you. We had something special and now it’s just two minutes of predictable, badly rhymed crap.

 

KARLY

It’s not crap.

 

 

JOE

Even my father thinks I wrecked the car.

 

KARLY

Hey, your dad listens to my music?

 

JOE

That’s not the point.

 

KARLY

It is to me.

 

JOE

The point is that you don’t get to tell that story any way you want. I’m part of it.

 

KARLY

It’s not your song. It’s my song.

 

JOE

But it’s my life.

 

KARLY

No it’s not. It’s mine. You just happened to be in it for a while.

 

JOE

And then I wasn’t.

 

KARLY

Right. Then you weren’t.

 

JOE

Why?

 

KARLY

Why what?

 

 

JOE

Why did I stop being in it?

 

KARLY

Is that why you’re here? To find out why we didn’t work out?

 

JOE

No. I just thought that while I was here, I might as well ask.

 

KARLY

You don’t want to know.

 

JOE

Well, it’s got to be more interesting than what you made up about me stealing your wallet and your car and then crashing it.

 

KARLY

Wanna bet?

 

JOE

Well, okay. Not more interesting. But more true.

 

KARLY

And that’s the kicker. True is rarely interesting.

 

JOE

It’s interesting to me.

 

KARLY

(Gesturing towards audience)

Yeah, but not to them. And they’re the ones who count. They get to decide.

 

JOE

So let them decide.

 

KARLY

Decide what?

 

JOE

 Whether the truth is interesting enough.

 

KARLY

It’s not.

 

JOE

You just said that you don’t get to decide.

 

KARLY

Fine. So here’s the truth.                                            

(She sings, making it up as she goes along.)

           

            So Joe started to whine, and I got really bored

            And the more bored I got, the more Joe whined.

            Until one day, I couldn’t take one more crying, whining, stupid,

            yowling, clinging moment of him.

            So I left.

 

JOE

Oh.

 

KARLY

Yeah, well, you asked.

 

JOE

It’s not how I remember it, of course.

 

KARLY

No?

 

JOE

Which means it’s not really the truth.

 

KARLY

It’s my truth.

 

JOE

But not mine.

 

KARLY

That makes it a lie?

 

JOE

No, it just makes it not the truth.

 

KARLY

Do we have to agree that something’s true before it is? And who cares anyway? It’s just a song!

 

JOE

Is that what you think?

 

KARLY

Sure, why not.

 

JOE

It’s not what you said.

 

KARLY

What I said when.

 

JOE

Earlier. You told everyone that your music is real. From your heart. But if it’s not true, then maybe it’s not quite as real as all that. Maybe it’s just nice music.

 

KARLY

Does it matter?

 

JOE

I don’t know. Does it?

 

 

GEORGE

                                                            (speaking from among the audience)

Beauty is truth, truth beauty.

 

                                                                        (Joe and Karly both peer out.)

 

KARLY

Who said that?

 

GEORGE

(still in the audience)

The poet, John Keats. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”

 

KARLY

That’s not what I meant, I meant…

 

GEORGE

 I know what you meant.                                                                   

(standing up)

Hey there Karly.

 

KARLY

What the…George? What is this? Old friends night? What the hell are you doing here?

 

GEORGE

(coming up on stage)

Nice to see you too.

(to Joe)

I’m George.

 

JOE

I’m Joe. Nice to meet you.

 

GEORGE

You too. Too bad it had to be in these circumstances.

 

JOE

Yeah, well.

 

KARLY

What is going on here? Why are you both here?

 

GEORGE

Coincidence?

 

JOE

Hell of a coincidence wouldn’t you say, Karly?

 

KARLY

Yeah. It’s a hellish coincidence.

(Turns to audience, trying to keep in charge.)

Everyone, this is George, another old friend of mine.

 

GEORGE

And we all know what Karly means by “old friend,” don’t we.

 

JOE

Well, I do.

 

KARLY

Stop it! I don’t know what you two are up to but it’s not funny.  Why are you here, anyway?

 

GEORGE

To hear you sing, of course. Although I don’t want to speak for Joe…

 

JOE

No, you’re absolutely right George. I want to hear Karly sing.

 

GEORGE

Why don’t you sing a song, then?

 

JOE

That’s what you’re here for, right?

 

KARLY

I thought so.

 

JOE

So, sing. We’ll just go sit over here. Don’t worry about us.

 

KARLY

(Tunes guitar, trying to get into her stride again,

finding it as she goes along.)

 

So. So, yes. Strange night, isn’t it? I had a hard time driving through the storm tonight to get here. Rain was coming down so hard I couldn’t see the road in front of me. The wipers were racing to keep up but they were losing. And the wind! I was fighting the wheel as the wind blew my car over the road.  And if I tell you the wind was howling, well, it really was, long and loud and in pain. Like a woman screaming. Like nails on a blackboard.

 

But I made it and so did you so all’s well that ends well, right? And to celebrate the surprise of old friends’ night I have a new song I just wrote which is funnily enough – or ironically enough since funny is sort of a funny word for this whole situation – anyway the song is called “Old Friends”  and I’d like to sing it for you now –

 

GEORGE

Actually, I’d like to hear the one about your week in New York City.

 

KARLY

New York.

 

GEORGE

When you were neither young nor pretty. And one old guy took pity. Formed a welcoming committee. Something like that.

 

JOE

You don’t like that old to me, George.

 

GEORGE

Thanks Joe. (to Karly) How about that one? That song really hits home for me.

 

KARLY

I don’t do requests.

 

GEORGE

Tonight you do. For me, okay?

 

KARLY

(Sings)

            I once spent a week in New York City

            Too old to be young, too sad to be pretty

            And one old guy I met took pity

            And called himself a welcoming committee.

 

            He took me out to bars and plays

            And sometimes we would sleep for days

            He told me his heart was all ablaze

            And he filled my ears with love and praise.

 

            Then New York softly said, it was time to flee.

            But my old guy just wouldn’t see
            That I needed to go, to be gone, to be me.

            No bird sings in a cage, only when it is free.             

 

 

GEORGE

What’s that line again? Frank Sinatra’s been singing, young and handsome blue-eyed sailor on shore leave in New York… “Gee, you sing just like a boid.” Well, you do, Karly. You sing like a bird. Too bad you’re a bitch. A bitch in bird’s clothing.

 

KARLY

I’m a bitch? Because I didn’t stay put and smile sweetly and love you – either of you -- forever and forever?

 

JOE

No. Because you lied.

 

KARLY

 I don’t lie.

 

GEORGE

You lie like you breathe. You lie like your heart beats.

 

KARLY

No, you’re wrong. I never lied. When I was with you I loved you. And it was good and sweet and warm and then it ended. That doesn’t make what we had a lie. It just makes it over.

 

GEORGE

Thing is, it was over because you got what you wanted from us and then you were done. Like a vampire.

 

JOE

Yeah, that’s good. She sucks us dry and then, her cold carcass warm and full, she moves off into the night, searching for her next victim.

 

GEORGE

The next sucker, ha ha.

 

JOE

And so on and so on.

 

KARLY

I have no idea what to say.

 

HARRY

(from audience)

You could say “Hello, Harry.”

 

KARLY

This is a joke, right?

 

HARRY

Go on. Say hello Harry.

 

GEORGE and JOE

Hello Harry!

 

HARRY

Hey guys. I really wanted to hear it from Simon here though.

 

KARLY

Hi Harry.

 

HARRY

Close enough. How are you, Simon?

 

KARLY

(to audience, trying to make light)

He used to call me Simon. You know, because I’m Karly – Karly Simon.

 

(sings)

He called me Simon

I called him Batman.

We danced on the hot sand

Without our shoes…

 

 

HARRY

(Interrupting)

Simon, they don’t really care.

 

KARLY

Actually, they do care. That’s why they’re here. To hear me.

 

JOE

You sure about that?

 

KARLY

Of course I’m sure.

(Points to poster or flyer or similar.)

See that? That’s me. I’m supposed to be singing tonight, not chit-chatting about vampires and truth with three of my former lovers.

 

JANE

(from audience)

Four.

 

(Pause.)

 

Hi, I’m over here. It’s me, Jane.

 

KARLY

Oh great. Four. Hi Jane! Long time no see! Come on up and say hello to all the nice people out here!

 

JANE

Really? Okay, sure! Thanks! Hi everyone! I just want to say hi to my mom! And my brother, Jake – hi Jake – and definitely a big shout out to all my friends at work! Hi!

 

GEORGE

This is not being televised you know.

 

JANE

Oh. Oh well. Well, hi anyway!

 

KARLY

Is there anyone else I’ve slept with in here? Anyone? Any old flames? Long lost loves? People I once smiled at as they drove past? One-night stands? Drunken mistakes? Delivery boys?

 

JANE

Or girls.

 

KARLY

Fine, or girls. Anyone?

 

 

JOE

You don’t have any one-night stands or drunken mistakes in your past, Karly.

 

GEORGE

No, you’re not so much love ‘em and leave ‘em as you are love ‘em with a pure, burning, heartfelt, forever kind of passion, create a deep and meaningful bond and then leave ‘em.

 

HARRY

That’s true, actually. That’s what happened to me.

 

JANE

Me too.

 

JOE

That’s what happened to all of us.

 

HARRY

And probably a dozen more who couldn’t make it tonight.

 

GEORGE

Although it’s not like we sent out engraved invitations.

 

HARRY

With twining vines and flowers and little pink hearts.

 

GEORGE

And arrows.

 

HARRY

Oh yes, lots and lots of arrows. Sharp, piercing arrows.

 

JOE

Maybe we should have.

 

 

 

KARLY

Oh sure, definitely you should have. You should have put it in the papers! Handed out flyers! Wrote it in the sky in big white fluffy letters! I’m so sorry we’re going to miss out on sharing the stage with all those former lovers of mine who aren’t here!

 

JANE

Really? Because I could go make a few phone calls…

 

KARLY

No, not really. Really not at all.

 

JANE

Oh. Okay. I mean, it’s no trouble…

 

KARLY

Jane?

 

JANE

Yes, Karly?

 

KARLY

Don’t you think this is as much trouble I can handle right now?

 

JANE

Sometimes we all get more than we can handle. Even you.

 

JOE

Ain’t that the truth.

 

KARLY

So what, you’re all here like some sort of intervention? Show Karly the error of her ways? Get her the help she needs?

 

GEORGE

An intervention! Well, in a manner of speaking…

 

 

KARLY

Well you can save it. All of you. There’s nothing wrong with me.

 

JOE

So you would say that making someone fall in love with you, sleeping with them, mining them for emotion by whatever means necessary until you gather enough material for a song and then, when you get what you need, leaving – you’d say that’s all right.

 

KARLY

Yeah, I would actually.

 

JANE

No matter how the other person feels.

 

KARLY

We’re all grown-ups.

 

HARRY

Ten points if you mow down the frat boy; fifteen for the college professor.

 

JANE

No matter how badly the other person is hurt.

 

KARLY

Life hurts. That’s the point. Look, I don’t mean that I set out to hurt anybody. I didn’t. Ever. And I’m sorry if you got hurt. All right, when. When you got hurt. But life hurts. If it wasn’t me, it was going to be someone else, hurting you. Or you hurting someone else. And there wouldn’t be any point to it. No purpose. No meaning. At least if I hurt you, it had meaning. I wrote songs about it. Made art.

 

JOE

And that makes it okay? That you write songs about us?

 

 

 

 

KARLY

Artists need to live life, fully and deeply. Artists need experiences, they need to be fed. An artist needs to taste things, try things, go places, do things.

 

HARRY

Try people. Do people.

 

KARLY

It’s that experience of life that makes art possible.  What I had with you – with each of you – was real and vibrant and alive! Didn’t you feel alive? Didn’t you feel like you were finally living in Technicolor? And you gave yourselves to me – and I was grateful. I still am. You gave me what I needed to write music. And my songs are a way of saying thank you.

 

JANE

Thank you for letting yourself be used by me. Don’t come again. No refunds. No exchanges.

 

(Pause.)

 

I felt so empty when you left. Like you had taken everything. Not just CDs and throw pillows, the couch suddenly left with nothing to cover its worn spots. Me. I was left empty.

 

GEORGE

She sucked you dry. Vampire. Succubus.

 

JANE

Succubus?

 

GEORGE

Demon-women of great beauty who would visit their chosen lovers in their dreams, and would have sex with them, thus draining them of all life force and, um, fluid, you know.

 

JANE

I’ll stick with the life-force thing.

 

KARLY

Tell me more about these succubus-es.

 

GEORGE

Succubi.

 

KARLY

Beautiful demons, huh. Visiting in dreams. And their lovers would wither? And die?

 

HARRY

By George, George. She’s doing it again.

 

GEORGE

Karly, that was my metaphor. You can’t have it.

 

KARLY

What, you own this idea?

 

GEORGE

No, but I was trying to make a point.

 

KARLY

You got some sort of copyright on it? Maybe YOU wrote a song about succubi?

 

GEORGE

Me? I can’t even sing in the shower –

 

KARLY

Uh-huh.

(Strums quietly to herself)

 

JOE

Karly, that’s not the point. Karly. Karly!

 

 

KARLY

What? I’m working here.

 

JOE

Exactly. We’re just work to you. Not people. Material. Inspiration

 

KARLY

You’re complaining because you were, for a while, my muse? Don’t you think that lots of people would be happy to inspire an artist? Feel proud?

 

JANE

Would you?

 

JOE

I didn’t know I was your muse. I thought we were, you know, lovers. Equals.

 

HARRY

We were not amused. A-muse-d. Get it?

 

JANE

You can’t feel proud of something you didn’t know you were doing. All you feel is stupid.

 

JOE

Duped.

 

GEORGE

Tricked.

 

HARRY

Taken advantage of.

 

JANE

It’s not worth it.

 

KARLY

But isn’t the music worth it? To know that these songs are about you – all of you. And what we had together.

 

JOE

I don’t know. Maybe. Who decides? Not us. You never gave us the chance to decide whether we’d like to feed your art – or be with someone who truly loved us. We didn’t decide.

 

KARLY

No, I decided. It’s my music.

 

HARRY

You did it yooouuur way!

 

JANE

It wasn’t your decision to make.

 

KARLY

No, you’re right. It wasn’t my decision. It’s their decision. The audience. The people who listen. They’re the ones this is for. They get to decide.

 

JANE

They do? Do they know this? Do they even care? If they don’t care, is what you did suddenly wrong? If they do care, was it all worth it? If people like your music, will they forgive you your life?

 

GEORGE

Who judges the value of artistic endeavor? The artist or the viewer? Is a beautiful painting art if it’s turned to the wall? Is a song worthy if no one hears it? If no one wants to hear it? Can you have a play if there’s no audience? Who is art for?

 

HARRY

No, it’s more than that. Does the artist matter at all? Do we care if Andy Warhol was a creep? If Van Gogh was insane? If Jim Morrison was a drunk?

 

GEORGE

And what about the audience themselves? You’re going to let them judge? Without checking to see who they are? Without asking if they’re intelligent enough, sensitive enough, open-minded enough? What if they’re all bankers? What if they’re all Nazis? What if they’re all asleep?

 

JOE

What if they just don’t give a crap?

 

KARLY

All right all right! This is all too -- Look, I don’t need this.  I mean, I almost cancelled tonight – look at that storm! Who wants to go out in that? I sure didn’t. I really didn’t want to drive all the way out here and I was so tired and the car needs a tune-up but then I thought – no, you have to go, people are expecting you, people are coming out to hear you play, you can’t let them down so I got in my car and honestly, it was like the end of the world. Lightning and thunder. The wind. The rain so thick I could hardly see the road and then the wind was blowing so hard it felt like it blew the car right across the road and then this tree came up out of nowhere and I had no time to do anything so I just shut my eyes and

 

She stops.

There was a crash. I felt it. It – hurt. It was so loud. The thunder was like boulders rolling down a mountain. The rain was so heavy it was like a blanket had been thrown over me. The end of the world.

 

JOE

Not the end of the world. Just the end of your world.

 

KARLY

What are you talking about?

 

GEORGE

You. We’re talking about you.

 

HARRY

You died, Karly. In the crash. You’re dead.

 

KARLY

I am not dead. I am clearly not dead.

 

JANE

Oh, it’s okay. It’s okay. Well, clearly it’s not really okay but there’s not much you can do about it.

 

JOE

No getting out of this one.

 

HARRY

No famous last words.

 

GEORGE

No swan song.

 

JANE

No deathbed confessions.

 

HARRY

The fat lady has sung. The party is over. Elvis has left the building. Good night, folks.

 

KARLY

Right. If I’m dead, what am I doing here?

 

GEORGE

Where do you think here is?

 

KARLY

My gig, of course.

 

HARRY

Is this your gig?

 

JANE

Or is it our gig?

 

KARLY

What about you? If I’m dead, so are all of you. You can’t all be dead. And what about them? Are they all dead too?

 

GEORGE

Ah, this is where it gets complicated. See, time as a linear construct is a very human concept whereas here, time is more like a pool of water. What is, what was and what will be are all here at all times. The moment of death is immaterial, an illusion washed away by the great ocean of time.

 

HARRY

Or something like that.

 

KARLY

So I’m having some sort of near-death experience and you’re all in my head?

 

JANE

Not near death. Just dead. There’s no coming back from here. No tunnel. No bright light. Well, not many of them, anyway.

 

KARLY

All right, fine. I’m dead. You’re dead. We’re all dead. It’s a big dead party. With dead crackers and dead cheese and dead drinks.

 

(Pause.)

 

But if I’m dead and you’re all dead, what are we doing here?

 

HARRY

Not pretty enough for Heaven, not hot enough for Hell.

 

KARLY

What?

 

JOE

Somewhere in between.

 

GEORGE

Floating in the Dead Sea.

 

HARRY

Hey, that’s pretty good. The Dead Sea. You kill me. Not literally of course.

 

KARLY

So this is some sort of what, limbo? Purgatory?

 

GEORGE

Oh well done! You can take the girl out of Catholic school but…

 

JANE

(interrupting)

…she’ll still look good in knee socks.

JOE

Which way you gonna swing?

 

JANE

I thought that was clear.

 

HARRY

Which is why we’re standing here.

 

KARLY

We’re in limbo?

 

HARRY

You’re in limbo. We’re just sort of hanging out with you. For a while.

 

KARLY

Why?

 

HARRY

Going up. Going down.

 

GEORGE

Well, really up and down are relative concepts. We might as well say left or right.

 

JANE

Or this way that way.

 

JOE

Or shaken or stirred.

 

JANE

I forget, which is the good one of those?

 

HARRY

Cheesecake or cheesewiz.

 

JANE

I have a secret passion for cheese wiz.

 

HARRY

Don’t let on.

 

KARLY

But why am I here? How do I get out?

 

JANE

You don’t.

 

GEORGE

Not yet.

 

HARRY

Not until you know.

 

KARLY

What?

 

JOE

Was it worth it?

 

KARLY

Was what worth it?

 

GEORGE

Your life.

 

KARLY

My life? What about my life? I tried to live a good life. I was, you know, kind to animals, called my mother. Followed my calling.

 

JOE

Lied. Hurt. Cheated. Stole.

 

KARLY

I didn’t.

 

JANE

Liar.

 

KARLY

I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.

 

GEORGE

The road is very well paved.

 

KARLY

I made music. That’s what I did.

 

JOE

And was it worth it?

 

JANE

Was it?

 

KARLY

I – I don’t know.

 

HARRY

Well who does.

 

GEORGE

Who does.

 

JANE

Who decides.

 

JOE

Who cares.

 

HARRY

Who’d you do it for, Simon?

 

GEORGE

For us?

 

JOE

For herself.

 

JANE

Who, Karly? Who?

 

KARLY

(whispers)

For them.

 

JOE

Liar.

 

HARRY

Don’t lie.

 

JANE

Not here. Not anymore.

 

KARLY

I’m not lying. You can’t play music if no one listens. Can’t talk if no one hears you. It’s only sound when it hits the ear. Otherwise it’s nothing. Not music. Not words. Nothing.

 

GEORGE

Just the tiny movements of air. Invisible. Nothing.

 

KARLY

Only visible when someone’s looking. Only singing when someone listens. It’s for them. For you (to audience). For all of you. Always.

 

HARRY

So let them decide.

 

GEORGE

That’s fair.

 

JOE

Ask them.

 

KARLY

Ask them what.

 

JANE

Was it worth it?

 

 

(KARLY faces the audience. Takes her guitar. Sits back on her stool. As she does this the other four exit slowly, almost fading away. She takes up her pick, her fear and confusion evident. She looks at the audience hard. Examining them. She is about to play. She does not begin to play.)

 

KARLY

Was it –

 

 

(Lights fade.)