With Captain Davenport, First Mate Wagner, and Second Mate Cisco . . . well, preoccupied, I’ve been asked to lead today’s expedition. The thought didn’t please me in the least bit but I did it without argument, as it is my job. No point giving Quartermaster Gaskin a reason to withhold my payment. Although money and gold . . . both have always been abstract concepts to me.
Anyway, I’ll keep this short as the . . . literary treasure, as they’re being called, that we found today is a bit lengthy. While it is written, this piece appears to be some kind of performance. I can see the actors in my mind, clear as day.
(In the back seat of an unmarked black car with a man in a black suit driving. The two passengers in the backseat are at odds with stiff body language towards each other, backs slightly turned so that each is half facing out the window on their side of the car.)
Rico: Just take me home.
Driver: As you wish, sir.
Mary: (turning slightly) What’s with you? (folding arms across her chest) That’s it? We’re done? Over? You want out?
Rico: Yeah. Yeah, I guess so. I mean, that’s it. That’s just it.
Mary: That’s not it. This isn’t over.
Rico: I just said it was. That’s it. (turning even farther, forehead almost brushing the window)
Mary: (speaking to the driver) Don’t go home, just drive. Drive ‘till I say stop.
Driver: We’re just about out of gas, madam . . .
Mary: Just. Drive.
Rico: This is ridiculous. You’re ridiculous.
Mary: I’m ridiculous? Hmph! (to herself almost) You think I’m ridiculous.
Rico: That’s what I said. And I’ll very well say it again. You. Are. Ridiculous.
Driver: Sir, madam—
Mary: No, no, no, no! If I am then so are you. You’re a selfish, good-for-nothing lay-about that’s . . . that’s . . . that’s . . . .
Rico: That’s what? Hmm? (a pause) I thought so. No answer. You don’t know what I am.
Mary: (studying her hands) I don’t know who you are either. Not anymore.
Rico: Anymore? You used to know. But guess what? I haven’t changed. I’m still the same person. It’s you!
Mary: That’s right. I’m ridiculous. Well, I’ll have you know one thing and one thing only—
Rico: Oh? Only one thing? That’s all you have to say to me? Just one thing? I don’t deserve more than that? I’m not good enough?
Mary: That’s not what I said! At all! Clean out your ears! Listen to me!
Rico: How can I listen to you when you . . . you’re . . . how?
Mary: I’m waiting. You have no excuse for not listening to me. Except maybe you keep the TV too loud. And you always have your rowdy friends over for some drinks.
Rico: Oh, I’m not allowed to watch the game with my guys but you’re allowed to have your make-up parties?
Mary: You mean my book club? It’s totally different!
Rico: How so?
Mary: My book club friends are clean, quiet, sophisticated women. Your football buddies are messy, ignorant, and obnoxious!
Rico: This isn’t about them.
Mary: No! It isn’t!
Rico: Just get to the point then!
Mary: Fine then!
Driver: Shut up!! Both of you! (the two are quiet) Would you listen to me? We’re out of gas now. In the middle of nowhere. Are you happy now? (a pause, then, quieter) Sir? Madam?
(the two exchange an ashamed, embarrassed glance)
Rico: I guess you’re gonna blame that one on me too, huh?
I’ll see what I can do about finding someone a little more . . . invested in this project to lead tomorrow’s excursion. Doctor wants to give the captain another day or so of rest before allowing him to get back to work.