A Dialogue

Here’s a small excerpt for a play I was asked to write after graduating from A&M.  Anita and Tom are mother and son, and though Tom is the mayor of the small town of Rockwood, his elderly mother is in every way more capable than he is.  After some rough events that set up the action of the play they have a little chat about the nature of society.

22

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Tom:  You had a good idea tonight, and believe me, I’m thankful that you were able to make heads or tails of this situation.  Gosh, when it rains it pours, you know?  Give me a simple domestic inquiry, or a community service project, or even some kind of county fair.  I’d be happy to my civic duty.  But a murder? Followed by a disappearance?  With no known culprit?  How am I supposed to answer that?  Where is the silver lining?  I just wanted a week or two to pass after Ed’s death, just time for things to get a little easy around here, and then maybe take a vacation.  Can you imagine if I took a vacation now? They’d be angry.

Anita: Wouldn’t it be their right?

Tom:  I suppose so.  Free country and all.  I just want things to balance out, that’s all.

Anita: They are balancing, dear.

Tom:  What is that supposed to mean?  Like this is supposed to be some kind of normal?  Everyone on edge? Everyone uneasy?

Anita:  It’s as normal as anything else that has come to pass. As normal as joy, as normal as elation, maybe even more so.  Decades of peace don’t warrant any comfort to the notion that things will always be the way they are.  It’s the way of the world.

Tom: Are you teaching me a lesson, now?

Anita: Why? Are you worried you’ll learn something?  Thomas, how many generations have passed where people gather, pat themselves on the back, and say, ‘This is the best it will ever be?’  A generation rises, maybe here, maybe a thousand years ago, maybe 3000 before that. Someone builds something great, they reckon it to be one of the most fantastic achievements of mankind, a crowning glory of civilization, and people travel from all around to see it. That lasts less time than you think, complacency often follows soon after wonder, and disregard soon after complacency.  That generation will pass, it will go on forgotten, and one day a graduate student at a university who is exploring some distant land to get an abroad credit will stub his toe on some rock that soon catches his interest. He will start dusting off that rock with a fine whisker brush and special little tools and unearth the treasure that captured the heart of a generation that we had previously only guessed existed because of a coin some boy found in a riverbed.  Now we’ll have some great sculpture, or tablet, or artifact of this lost generation uncovered, it’ll get a special article in a magazine, and might go on to achieve it’s greatest glory yet.

Tom:  What is that, mother?

Anita:  It will be immortalized in gift shop snow globes and post cards worldwide.

Tom:  I don’t have any place for your old ramblings if they aren’t relevant to the time at hand.

Anita:  Oh, but they are, Thomas.  They are more relevant than you or even I dare dream.

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