To Begin Again

(A large empty space. Grey floor. One old worn out armchair, back and slightly left. A figure slumped in the chair. 50-ish, sloppy in appearance. Wearing an old tattered bathrobe. Neutral tones. Bare feet.

Sole light is that dim one which illuminates figure and chair.

Figure sleeps, stirs, mumbles. Awakens, rouses, amuses, ponders, drones in reverie, convinces, drifts in and out of sleep. Never leaving the chair. Grandest gesture is a raising of an arm, an unclenching of the fist. The rest consists of lolling the head about. Slight shifts of weight. Once or twice they hesitate, considering to rise, yet each time abandoning such a notion.

In the end they fall back asleep. The light dims, and all is as it once was.)

(the figure stirring, half-asleep) huh — what — oh — damn, must have fallen asleep again — really i — i should get up and stroll about — i’ve been sitting here for who knows how long — anyhow long enough, too long in fact — a little stroll, that’s the thing (makes as if to rise) but shit, to rise and begin again — yes, forget — that’s the thing — blot out the transgressions, both great and small, all the simple joys, as well the greater pains, all those forlorn and weary moments which make up happiness, the old claptrap of smiles and buggery of giggles can you blame a man his sorrow? it all goes to make up a life — however putrid that life might be — oh, there’s always a laugh, a chuckle hidden somewhere, however slight — ah, but these too must need forget — fine then, let’s pretend there’s nothing left — just that which is sitting here, its head nodding slowly off, a bit of spittle dribbling down the chin, one arm dangling to the side, the whole lot slumped and sagging: body, chair, and all — christ, that’s the way i am now — isn’t it? — the pathetic posture of an idiot, or an old man — a very old, very senile old man — ah, but no matter — not quite pleasant to be sure — no, not an ideal circumstance; but there you have it: i’m an old idiot — all that need be done now is forget, simply forget — aww, but shit, i can’t — i refuse (reflects) — it wasn’t always like this (pauses) even though i might not be able to clearly remember — i can still imagine something else, another time — before all this — for instance — let me see now — for instance — the window — that’s it — the window — rising and going over to the window — yes — yes, i used to take long strolls to a window — oh yes, long strolls — this space is vast, quite vast indeed — no need to lock yourself in a box, never any reason to do that (pause) the window — that’s something to think about, something to keep the chin up for a bit — long strolls to the windows — windows? (reflects) yes, there had to be more than one — in the beginning anyway, it was necessary, several windows, each with a different view — so one day you could shuffle this way and see whatever there was to see, then, on another day, same shuffle, somewhere else, and there to gaze at all that wonder (doubts, reflects) no, originally there had to be several windows — i would think three — at least three — for in order to get tired of things they must become quite familiar, don’t they? — that much i do remember — there must have been a bit of choice, enough, at least, to make those endless shuffles last the greater part of youth (pauses, reflects) unless, of course, there was sufficient change within the view, enough to keep the restless viewer occupied, taking in a bit of this, a bit of that (quite animated, for him anyway) by god, never seen that before, ah there’s that again, haven’t seen that in a fair bit, no, when was the last, three, four trips ago? i wonder, no matter, now there’s something, lordy-lordy, would you look at that — or words to that effect (back to normal drone) on and on — precise too, not so general or vague — real concrete images — the kind that stick in one’s gullet up until even the darkness fades (pause) ah, the windows — let’s say three windows — one facing each way — not that you can tell the difference, never having known in which way you were headed — but those panoramas — how else explain them than by other vistas, other directions, directions taken after all the fumbling and confusion necessary in order to rise and find one’s balance — then god knows (reflects) petty sentiment that (pauses)god knows (reflects) whether one is bound on a straight course, an arc, a weave — what with all the wobbling, the head bent to watch the feet, the teeth buried in the lower lip, the shoulders drawn up to the ears, the fists clenched tight, the eyes seeing little further than the grey before the toes, the neutral surface across which you so boldly stride — all to come to wonder before that which extends beyond the glass (ecstatic) oh happy days — such a view — stretching endlessly — so far that it’s no longer a view at all, merely whiteness — infinite whiteness — that too being a cause to wonder — in the early days at least (not so enthusiastic) before it was noticed not to change — and then, i imagine, was not noticed at all (pause) but those first journeys — when at last you could see the light, when carefully raising the eyes up, away from the feet, the toes and the grey, beyond, across that brighter grey surrounding you, ‘til dark along the wall, the sight settled upon the light, the filtered haze which seeped from without, and spread its dim glory within your hovel (pause) it was then, wasn’t it, that you shed your first tear — you who had never been known to cry, the one who had sat complacent before all that which had gone before, now with the stain of a single tear that trickled through the dust which had settled upon your cheek — there you stood, or rather wavered, the tear a faint sparkle above the lip, the eyes caught in glassy startle by that yellowed mist which hung, there in the dark, before you — there you remained, without a single twitch, not a single movement, except for the slight waver required to keep one upon their feet — who knows how long it was before you drew up the jaw, which had dropped in reverence, and looked to find that the light had gone — all there remained to be done was to turn and shuffle back through the dark to the place from which you had come — so down went the head, as you began the elaborations and calculations required to bring about a change in direction, then, when this was done, to shuffle on, unwavering on, to there from whence you came — the neutral grey, stretching before the toes, not quite the same as it once had been, now a little darker, though, so, somehow, with the glow which seemed to burn still behind the eyes (pause, reflects) it was after that, that first stumbling upon the light, that your struggle began — when, with the dust still muddy upon your cheek, you first learned what it was to suffer — the memory of your joy so painful that you struggled to rise only to discover that you could do little more that prop an elbow, or place a hand as brace — to rise was out of the question your weariness was so great — so there you curled, and stared upon the grey, until at last, your jaw went slack and you closed your eyes — or when, finally, your strength had returned and you were able to rise but after such elaborate struggles the excitement was so great, your impatience so intense, that you forgot to lower your eyes, so fixed were they upon seeing again the sight, and without such support as the gaze before the toes, your feet could do no more than stumble, and you were left crumpled in the dark (pause) there were other times too — ones when all went well — when after the toil of struggling to your feet you gathered yourself, lowered your head, steady going your gaze upon the grey, then slowly shuffled your first foot forward, whichever one that might be, followed, with only a minor wobble, by the other, as on you went to search in vain for whatever light might again be found — but instead you only staggered about in the dark — sometimes bumping into a wall, most often the forehead finding it first, then fumbling along until, unredeemed, you gave it up and headed back, groping to your chair — othertimes you simply started out only to find that you had returned, unknowing of the way in which you had went, let alone by which came back — but all this left the will undaunted — god knows how many times you attempted to rise, both failures and successes combined — how many times struggled to find your way, shuffling through the dark, groping the walls, banging your head and sometimes toes, falling you know not where, giving up and beginning again — each time the hope faint, but a hope just the same — enough to make it seem worthwhile — until in the end one last try before giving it up for good, unable to even remember why or how it felt when the light was found — now, perhaps, merely addicted to the struggle (brief pause)when once to sit was more than just respite, not now — now the monotony of the grey started one to fiddle, to fidget and twitch, until at last to remain was simply not possible, when to stare with eyes open or closed was just not enough, and you would brace yourself to begin anew what had become such torture (pauses) it was at that time, or perhaps another, one of the many alike which followed after, but one such time, when the hope was finally gone and all that moved one to shuffle was the dread of having to remain, quiet and still, not moving from that place — once, when raising the leaden head from between the shoulders, drawn as they were to the ears, when, for a moment, you had paused, uncaring to go any further, needless of return, that you followed your sight from before your toes, to a space which hung golden there before you — but this time the dust which had once been caked to your cheek remained dry, as it cracked with an upward turn of the lips, the mouth which had formed a smile — then, wavering there, you began to shuffle a few hesitant steps forward — put forth your hand (mimicking the action)unclenched the fist, trying to cup the mist which only sight could fathom, let alone grasp and hold (pause, the hand outstretched, until it drops, the head slumps, then raises to resume)this went on, the venturing out, the sad returns, the miserable fatigue, the dreams which began to plague you — your once so placid sleep now a thrashing as limbs respond to imagined falls, the musing head butting against its dreamt of walls — but enough times you journeyed forth to find, until, at last, you looked beyond the light to the place from which it came — then, lowering the head, you shuffled close, to press the nose upon the glass — and there to marvel, nearly blind, at all that stretched before you — yet each time returning to your place of sleep, unsure of ever finding again the window from whence the light — until a time when the dreams, though unredeeming, were at last enough — the staring at the grey itself a marvel — the need to rise and venture forth no longer came — as you once had endured complacent, so again you found yourself — with head bent and body slumped, the spittle dribbling down to your chin, occasionally awakening with a start, or slowly with a mild disgust — but tired still, not up to the effort of dragging foot and limb, one after the other, unknowing still of the proper course (pause, begins to doze, jerks awake, remembers and mumbles) huh — oh — the windows — they were something — shit, the views, the — the things i’ve seen — there with my nose pressed up against the glass — christ (disgusted) there’s folly enough to pass the time — enough foolishness to bring a smile (still disgusted) if i try hard enough i might even manage a chuckle — huh (pause) aw, but to rise and begin anew — no, not that — must need forget all that — all the pain and wonder — the stumbling and groping — the finding too, that too must be forgotten — the simple joy when at last the light had come, in the end the light was found (pause) fuck it — fuck it all — all the crippled memories which keep me here — still in the dark (nodding off) curled and quiet — silently remembering — what little comfort — here — in the dark — such — such little comfort — such — (at last he dozes, the light, though dim, fades)

Paris, May 1990