by K.D. Halpin
Setting: an art opening in a downtown Boston art gallery
Character: SUZETTE, 40’s, art gallery owner
We hear Suzette’s side of the conversation with her companion. The asterisks [**] denote a brief pause for her companion’s imagined reaction.
(reading art label, looking at painting) ‘Tacit Armchair in Relief’ … hmm … it has … hmm … it has a lyrical planar schema, don’t you think? A sort of ambiguous dynamic energy. Good work. Haven’t seen a show of this promise since my grad school days at Harvard, writing for that leftist art journal. Those were heady times. Landscape was invading galleries. So cutting edge.
(sees another painting) What do you think? ** I don’t know. I think it suggests a derivative totemic iconography. Not at all the primitive perceptual polychromy of earlier shows. (a second look) Hmm … biomorphic. You know, this artist was very lucky to get into this gallery. ** Yes, lucky. What? What is that look? ** (repeating) “There’s no such thing as luck.” You know, it’s funny that people like you just poo-poo the whole luck thing. Like it’s crazy to think there’s such a thing as good luck and bad luck.
See, what you said earlier in the foyer—that’s good luck. ** Oh, that story about your whirlwind trip to Istanbul and how you didn’t have change for coffee and suddenly there was this exquisite coin on the ground … and the masked Prince and—yes. ** Yeah, luck: what happened to you, because you know, you’re not, you know … exceptional. Now me, take me for instance. Me?—I have bad luck. I’ve always had bad luck. And it’s just—it’s something you come to expect. I mean I expect very little, precious very little. And if something works out, you know, then I’m surprised and delighted.
But then on the other hand, you see these bastards—just absolute … (struggles to find the word) getting wonderful things without effort, you know? Without seeming to try at all. And me—getting up in the morning is like writing Handel’s Messiah. Just such a huge feat.
I mean, people who are lucky, well, as controversial as this may sound—
(offered hor d’ouvre by a server, Suzette takes it) thank you—should be killed somehow, or hurt badly or—(offered a glass of wine by server) no, thank you—made to feel some discomfort. But it’s got to be excruciating because mild discomfort wouldn’t be satisfying enough. It’s got to be something really, really awful because let’s face it—excruciating pain isn’t good luck at all.
** “Unless something good were to come of it?” What good could come of being tortured or maimed? ** Well, yes I suppose they could be rushed to a hospital and recover … SLOWLY. Yes, and maybe meet someone nice. ** Yes, a physician or something. ** Yes, fall in love, turn of events, something good would maybe come of … but we’re straying from the point here. What’s lucky about pain? Come on.
** “It’s all so subjective.” Oh my God! So easy for you to say, so easy, so easy. Miss Six-Figures-Combined-Income-With-My-Chiseled-Husband. What? ** You worked for that? You worked for that. Really. How? By breathing?
Hey! Hey, Miss Luck-Is-Subjective, you once told me that I have a black cloud over my head. See? Luck! Luck! ** Yes, you did. Yes, you did. We were playing Parcheesi in the loft studio. Andy Warhol just died and—yes, you did. You said it the day after that taxi ran over my foot on Newbury Street. ** Yes, it was the same week as my tax audit. ** No, that was before the mugging because I hadn’t filed the police report yet. See? Luck. You do too believe in— ** What is this “subjective” crapola? Oh right, right—so you’re saying that if I were on a plane and it crashes, it’s bad luck for me but good luck for some poor bastard who wants to end his life. Right. Right. Thank you. That makes perfect sense.
Actually, I need to phone the airline to see if my flight to Dublin is on time.
(takes out her cell phone from purse) ** The Gallery is doing that Newgrange Celtic circle installation and the artist wants me to find an Irish hag. ** Yeah, something authentic to give the installation an air of— ** Oh, I don’t know … he wants someone shawled, toothless, someone who knits … ** It’s Eastern Sky Airlines. They’re supposed to be good. They have a consistent record of fewer than 500 fatalities.
(her cell phone battery is dead) Shit. I’ve got to charge my cell phone.
(one last look at a painting) Hmmm … arcane symbolism.
copyright © 2009 K.D. Halpin. All rights reserved.
K.D. Halpin is an Irish/American writer residing in Massachusetts and Northern Ireland. Plays she has co-authored with Sleeveless Theatre have been toured throughout the U.S. Her plays Weird Without Apology and Sin Eaters have been performed/stage-read in Northampton, MA and Belfast, N.Ireland.