Bouldering with Socrates

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Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 13, 2013 - 12:00am PT
John Ewbank, one of our brothers, left this world recently. Although he'd lived in the US for the last twenty years or so, not many of you knew him. His climbing heyday was in Australia, and after he moved to New York he was more focused on music and writing than on climbing. There's an RIP thread for him here, but as I raise a glass to him tonight I want to share something special with you.

I co-edited the last issue of Ascent with Al Steck and Steve Roper, and John submitted a couple of pieces to us. We drew straws to decide which of us would work with which writer, and I was lucky to be given the opportunity to work with John. We had a lively correspondence, and planned to meet sometime soon. But "sometime soon" stretched out over the years and it's not going to happen now. So, in his memory I'd like to post both the stories he submitted. The one we published was "Ironmongers of the Dreamtime", and I'll put it up in a separate thread (here), but here are all 8.000 words of his play "Bouldering With Socrates."


Bouldering with Socrates

A Play

(May be performed in one or two acts)

SOCRATES: In his sixties and still in good health, but his academy is
on the brink of financial collapse and he is desperately in need of money.
EROTICUS: A dandy and professional student at the academy.
ERECTICUS: A champion gymnast and one of Socrates’ best students. Very fit and muscular, and something of a showoff, constantly flexing, stretching etc.
TESTOSTERONE: A sailor, a wanderer and a raconteur. He is an artist and a con-artist recently returned to Greece after visiting The Sodden Isle.
KALEPH the Monkey Man: An eighty year old Keltoi. He is an Ex. Slave and Rock God, still in deep mourning for his son, who died fifty years earlier.

NOTES:
Bouldering: Climbing jargon. Climbing small cliffs or boulders that are not so high as to need a rope for safety, but which may be exceedingly difficult to climb - despite their lack of height.
The Sodden Isle: England.
Keltoi: Ancient Greek for Celt.
Bivi ledge: A ledge large enough to lie down and sleep on.
Rappelling: Sliding down a rope in a controlled manner.

SETTING: An old and neglected garden, a few miles outside of Athens. It is bordered on three sides with an old arbor, which is sagging under the weight of an overgrown grapevine. A pillar of black rock, about fifteen feet high, dominates center stage. The top is flat enough and large enough for a person to stand on. The sides should be vertical or overhanging for the most part. This pillar is impossible to actually climb - though there are enough holds to encourage attempts on the lower section - the final moves to the top are impossible. The overall impression is that of being as smooth as polished glass. It is late afternoon on a hot summer’s day and a bird is singing. We hear rapidly approaching footsteps.

ENTER SOCRATES. He has been running and he is breathing heavily.
He stops beneath the arbor to catch his breath. After recovering for a moment he picks a few grapes and then notices a sundial, mounted on a pedestal at front stage. He goes across to check the time and then looks up into the sky, shading his eyes, as if trying to verify the accuracy of the dial by the actual position of the sun. He counts his heartbeats and smiles to himself as he sits down on an old bench. The bird sings again and Socrates wipes the sweat from his forehead and starts eating the grapes. A few moments later we hear more footsteps.

ENTER EROTICUS. He is dressed in a short white tunic, held around his waist with a thin cord, to which several chalk bags are attached. He is virtually covered from head to foot in white chalk dust, as if he has been dipped in a sack of flour. He is carrying a large goatskin filled with wine.

EROTICUS: By the power of piss, look at me! I’m ruined! These things slowed me down, but I couldn’t have kept up anyway! What’s your secret?

SOCRATES: My secret is the shortcut through the olive grove! It avoids the big hill completely. (HE PAUSES AND TAPS HIMSELF ON THE TEMPLE). You’ve got to use your kidneys!

EROTICUS: You cheating old bastard! It’ll serve you right if that’s all you’re remembered for - cheating in your old age!

SOCRATES: Maybe I’ll be remembered as a charming raconteur? On the other hand, perhaps as a great sage? A brilliant thinker perhaps?

EROTICUS: That’s like the one about Heroteus and the way a man is remembered? Do you know it?

SOCRATES: Such a joke never entered my ears; tell it to me.

EROTICUS: Heroteus was lying on his deathbed, going over the facts of his life. He explained that - as a young man - he’d spent fifteen years planning and overseeing the construction of the system of aqueducts that serviced their city. His eventual success was hailed as an engineering masterpiece. ‘But’ he asked his friend ruefully; ‘Do they now say “Heroteus that great engineer?”’

Heroteus then explained that he had been commissioned to build a bridge across the great ravine that divided the city in two. He labored over the project for twenty years, and the cantilevered reverse ballast bridge that he built was greeted as a brilliant solution. ‘But’ he asked his friend indignantly, ‘Do they now say “Heroteus that bridge builder?’”

The final work of his life had been the construction of a new harbor, with futuristic storm walls and deepwater canal. It had met with the approval of the entire city and Heroteus had been feted as a visionary and a genius. ‘But’ he asked his friend angrily; ‘Do they now say “Heroteus that harbor maker?”’

Heroteus shook his head sadly in disbelief.
‘You suck just one lousy cock…’

BOTH MEN LAUGH AND EROTICUS SLAPS HIMSELF. CHALK DUST BILLOWS FROM THE CHALK BAGS.

SOCRATES: Well you know what they say: show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy…

EROTICUS: (INDICATING THE CHALKBAGS) What are these things for anyway?

ENTER ERECTICUS CARRYING WATER GOURD.

SOCRATES: Erecticus! (FACETIOUSLY) What took you so long! Did you get lost?

ERECTICUS: (HAUGHTY) Lost? Give me a break! I stopped at the gym to do some training. I could have been here thirty minutes ago if I’d tried! (LOOKING AROUND) So! Why this place? Who won?

EROTICUS: He did!

SOCRATES: With a little help from a shortcut through the olive grove! (CONSPIRATORIALLY) I have an idea for making money to save the academy!

EROTICUS AND ERECTICUS EXCHANGE GLANCES.

ERECTICUS: And?

SOCRATES: And If I don’t clear my debts soon I’ll be in jail! (PAUSE) This garden is where the Syrian Circus used to set up when I was a kid, and this is the very rock where Kaleph performed…

EROTICUS: (INTERRUPTING) By the power of piss I remember my grandma telling me about Kaleph… did someone get murdered?

SOCRATES: (GESTURES EROTICUS TO BE QUIET) He was a classic Keltoi - skin as white as prime octopus meat and eyes the same pale blue as the shallows of the Aegean at dawn. His hair and his beard were a great tangle of orange flames.

EROTICUS: What a dish!

SOCRATES: He’d do a few magic tricks to attract a crowd and then - when he had everybody’s attention - he’d open the flaps of a little tent and a chimpanzee would appear, – an albino - pink eyes and everything! With a perfectly straight face, Kaleph would introduce it as being his only child and tell it to say hello! Everybody would laugh of course, but, the next thing you knew, the chimp would actually be introducing himself, shaking hands and saying, “Pleased to meet you, I’m Benzene!”

ERECTICUS: Bullshit!

SOCRATES: I sh#t you not! He’d taught the monkey to speak! The audience would think it was the climax of the show and start reaching into their pockets, but Kaleph would raise his hand and direct their attention to this rock and ask if they thought anyone could climb it. Most of them would just shout “No” or “Of course not!” but - without fail - at least one person would shout out – virtually word for word - the answer he was fishing for: “Maybe by your son!” (PAUSES, LOOKS AT THE ROCK AND THEN AT THE YOUNG MEN) Why don’t you take a look for yourselves?

THEY ARE A LITTLE SELF-CONSCIOUS.

SOCRATES: Don’t be shy, it won’t bite!

THEY CHECK IT OUT, MARVELING AT HOW SMOOTH IT IS.

SOCRATES: (RHETORICALLY) Well? Is it real?

EROTICUS: (KICKS IT AND STUBS HIS TOE AND CRIES OUT. LAUGH). Shit! Yes!

SOCRATES: Could you climb it?

ERECTICUS: If I got on top of Eroticus I could probably make it…

EROTICUS: (WITH OBVIOUS SEXUAL INNUENDO) I’d make sure you did!

SOCRATES: That doesn’t count! One man, alone, bottom to top. No ladders, no ropes, no scaffolds. No human pyramids, no ramps, no cairns.

EROTICUS: No way!

SOCRATES: Erecticus?

ERECTICUS: (FLEXING HIS MUSCLES AND TRYING THE FIRST MOVES) I must admit it does look pretty hard…

SOCRATES: He’d reach inside his cloak and pull out five bananas and start juggling! He’d do a few basic tricks - under the leg, behind the back etc. and then he’d throw them high into the air in a graceful arc – and land them all on the top of the pillar! The crowd - pardon the pun but I can’t resist it - would go totally bananas!

They’d start reaching into their pockets again, but Kaleph would again raise his hands to stop them; leaning forward, head cocked to one side, eyebrows raised, one hand cupped behind his ear – as if the better to hear their response – he’d repeat his question: could the pillar be climbed? “Only by that son of yours!” more people would reply – thinking he’d thrown the bananas on top to lure the chimp to climb up!

EROTICUS: By the Power of Piss, it’s starting to come back to me …was there a scandal about…

SOCRATES: (GETTING ANNOYED) Eroticus! Kaleph would make way for the chimpanzee. “Go for it my son!” he’d command. Benzene would stretch to his full height and try to pull himself up with the help of the invisible, or at best, the microscopic irregularities that an observer might fancy his fingertips to be touching. Whether these possibilities of progress were figments of Benzene’s imagination or existed in reality is difficult to say. It looked as if he had about the same chance of reaching the top as a jellyfish running a marathon. He’d get crazier and crazier until he’d finish-up just standing there, banging his head against the rock and swearing in Turkish!

ERECTICUS: (INTERRUPTING / HAUGHTY) Socrates! Very funny - but if this is just another allegory to illustrate a point shouldn’t we be aware of the point you’re trying to illustrate?

SOCRATES: This is no allegory; The monkey would swear in Turkish! The people would laugh so hard they’d pee themselves, and just keep right on laughing while the pee ran down their legs! Kaleph would take his collection dish through the crowd and as soon as it was filled he’d lift Benzene into his arms. “Ladies and Gentlemen” he’d say; “We’re glad you enjoyed the show but this” - he’d gesture to the money with an almost royal disdain – “this means nothing to Benzene. As you can see, what my son craves is not gold or silver. What Benzene wants is one of those Egyptian bananas!” People in the crowd would start to murmur and…

EROTICUS: (INTERRUPTING AGAIN) I remember now! He died – right? By the power of…

SOCRATES: (GROWING MORE ANNOYED) Eroticus! Stop interrupting! People would begin to murmur and some of the more sensitive souls would begin to feel sorry for the chimp, whose plight - once the laughter had subsided – couldn’t fail to touch the tender part of the human heart. In fact, the monkeys ability to feign distress was so convincing that the GSPCA was once called in to stop the show!

“You’ve seen what my son will do for a banana”, Kaleph would say, “Now let me show you what I’ll do for my son!” He’d look the chimp straight in the face and ask: “Would you like daddy-waddy to climb the rocky-wocky and get you a banana-wana?” “Yes please Dad,” the chimp would reply - and Kaleph would have the crowd in the palm of his hand.

“Ladies and Gentlemen” he’d ask, “If I can climb up and get Benzene a banana will you fill a second pot for me?” Before they even had a chance to answer he’d make an offer they couldn’t refuse: “I’ll tell you what,” he’d say – pausing as if the idea had just occurred to him - “How about…double or nothing?” and the crowd would soon be shouting back in happy pandemonium: “Yes! Yes! Yes!” (PAUSE) My friends, did any of you bring wine or water?

ERECTICUS PASSES SOCRATES THE GOURD.

ERECTICUS: I filled it at the shaded spring by the summer gymnasium; it should still be cool. Socrates, this is incredible! I remember hearing some of these stories as well. Was he some kind of a Keltoi God?

SOCRATES TAKES A DRINK AND IS JUST ABOUT TO ANSWER WHEN AN EXASPERATED VOICE IS HEARD OFFSTAGE. IT IS TESTOSTERONE, WHO IS LOST IN THE OVERGROWN GARDENS.

TESTOSTERONE: (SHOUTING FROM OFFSTAGE, SOUNDING DISTANT) Socrates! Hello?

EROTICUS AND ERECTICUS LOOK AT EACH OTHER QUIZZICALLY.

EROTICUS: (TO SOCRATES) I didn’t know anyone else was coming.

SOCRATES: (SOCRATES STRAINS TO FIGURE WHERE THE VOICE IS COMING FROM). Yes, someone I’m anxious for…

EROTICUS: Who?

TESTOSTERONE: (SHOUTING. SOUNDING CLOSER): Hello?

SOCRATES: Someone I’m very anxious for you to meet…

TESTOSTERONE: (SHOUTING. NOW LOUD AND CLEAR) Socrates?

SOCRATES: (TURNS TOWARD WHERE THE VOCE IS COMING FROM, CUPS HIS HANDS TO HIS MOUTH AND SHOUTS) Testosterone!

ENTER TESTOSTERONE, CARRYING ROLLED UP DRAWING AND GUITAR.

TESTOSTERONE: (BREAKING THROUGH THE ARBOR AND ENTERING THE CLEARING): Socrates! You said ‘gardens’? This is a jungle!

SOCRATES: It’s so different; sorry if you got lost…

TESTOSTERONE: I went right past the entrance! You said six miles from town! It’s only about three!

SOCRATES: You know how childhood memories exaggerate things…
(INTRODUCES EVERYONE) Eroticus! Erecticus! I’d like you to meet Testosterone!

(THE MEN EXCHANGE GREETINGS AND SOCRATES OFFERS TESTOSTERONE A SEAT ON THE BENCH. TESTOSTERONE LOOKS AROUND AND ALMOST JUMPS WHEN HE SEES THE PILLAR).

TESTOSTERONE: (STARING AT THE PILLAR) Amazing!

SOCRATES: (LOOKING VERY PLEASED). Yes! My memory didn’t exaggerate that!

TESTOSTERONE: (INCREDULOUS) It’s exactly like you said!

SOCRATES: I know… I’ve impressed myself… fifty years!

TESTOSTERONE: (STARING AT THE PILLAR) Incredible!

EROTICUS: (EXASPERATED) What’s incredible?

SOCRATES: (TO TESTOSTERONE, IGNORING EROTICUS) I was telling them about Kaleph… (PAUSES TO THINK AND THEN TURNS HIS ATTENTION BACK TO ERECTICUS): What was your question? (PAUSE) Oh, yes! Was Kaleph a Keltoi God of some sort? Well, from what Testosterone told me yesterday I’d have to say - philosophically speaking of course - yes, he was.

SOCRATES: (TAKES ANOTHER SIP) This is good water; it’s truly a liquid.

EROTICUS: Wine?

PASSES SOCRATES THE GOATSKIN.

SOCRATES: Thanks. (DRINKS) Excellent! (PAUSE) When the pot was full Kaleph would tell the crowd to step back and then he’d throw off his cloak. His physique was so phenomenal that the crowd would gasp with amazement! Every inch was so sculpted and shaped, so pumped and so ripped, so – so – so how do you say it down at the gym Erecticus? (PAUSE) So cut! So buff! So totally awesome - that he made the most idealized Adonis look like a barrel of lard! His only flaw was a slight limp, but apart from that he was perfection.

He’d milk it for all it was worth - flexing and posing and winking at the girls and then suddenly he’d be suspended from the rock, quivering with both feet off the ground and every vein in his body fit to burst as he concentrated himself. I say ‘concentrated himself’ because – as far as you could see - apart from concentration, there was nothing else to support him!

He’d look as if he was about to fall off every single move, but he did that on purpose so the people would think he was only just getting up by the skin of his teeth and gamble more money next time! In fact, nothing could have been further from the truth; every slip and gasp was perfectly choreographed purely for suspense! What a showman! He’d throw the bananas down and then climb down himself and hold Benzene’s hand as the two of them took a bow! Pardon the pun, but the crowd would go absolutely apeshit!

ERECTICUS: He must have been one of the star attractions!

SOCRATES: Well I thought he was, but he only performed a few times, I’m lucky to have ever seen him at all!

EROTICUS: By the power of piss! Why only a few times?

SOCRATES: Jealousy. The other acts were going broke while he was spending every night with Estrogen, the most beautiful and expensive whore in Athens! One night he was attacked and both his arms were broken. The monkey was found in the olive grove the next day, – dead as a doornail, a poisoned banana milkshake in his hand.

EROTICUS: That’s terrible!

ERECTICUS: Who did it?

SOCRATES: Everybody suspected the Elephant Man but there was no evidence.

EROTICUS: What about Kaleph?

SOCRATES: Estrogen took care of him and his arms mended but no one ever saw him do the climbing trick again. He’d get drunk every day and wander the streets singing Keltoi dirges and shouting Benzene’s name at the top of his lungs. He became obsessed with the idea of having the chimp dug up and given a proper human burial and swore that at night - especially when the moon was full - he could hear Benzene calling for him. It went on for about a year and then he just vanished.

EROTICUS: What about Estrogen?

SOCRATES: Estrogen too!

EROTICUS: Some story!

SOCRATES: You ain’t heard nothing yet! (TURNING TO TESTOSTERONE) Tell them about the Sodden Isle.

TESTOSTERONE: I just got back from this place where the weather is so atrocious that staying alive is a constant battle. In autumn, when the summer rain finally stops, the snow begins, and in springtime the snow melts only when the rain returns. The climate’s so grim that most of people go from birth to death without a smile ever crossing their faces. The only thing that seems to bring them any pleasure at all is this one weird sporting activity that they’ve been doing for thousands of years. I was so amazed I did a drawing of it - here, Socrates; I found it. (HE HANDS A ROLLED UP DRAWING TO SOCRATES).

SOCRATES: (STARTS TO UNROLL IT) Incredible! This will look nice in the new academy.

EROTICUS: (REACHING FOR THE DRAWING) What new Academy? We don’t have enough to rent the back room at the Anchors! Is it running?

SOCRATES: (ANNOYED AND PULLING THE DRAWING AWAY) No, it’s not running! Anyway, there’s nothing weird about running!

ERECTICUS: Jumping as far as you can?

SOCRATES: Don’t be ridiculous!

EROTICUS: (FACETIOUSLY) Jumping as high as you can?

SOCRATES: Please!

ERECTICUS: Swimming as fast as you can?

SOCRATES: Be serious! (TO TESTOSTERONE) Tell them!

TESTOSTERONE: They’re mad about climbing rocks!

EROTICUS AND ERECTICUS LOOK AT HIM IN BEWILDERMENT. PAUSE.

EROTICUS: What?

TESTOSTERONE: Climbing rocks!

ERECTICUS: Climbing rocks?

TESTOSTERONE: Yes, rocks!

EROTICUS: (INDIGNANTLY AND SOUNDING VERY LET DOWN) You mean they climb rocks or there’s climbing rocks? Rocks climbing would be interesting - but every shepherd in Greece climbs over rocks all day long!

TESTOSTERONE: This is different! They have climbing contests on these huge rocks that they arrange in circles! Sometimes they move these rocks for hundreds of miles! It can take a year to move a single rock to its place in the circle! And each of these circles can have up to thirty of these humungous stones! Socrates, show him the picture. This is at a place called Stonehenge.

(SOCRATES HANDS THE DRAWING TO EROTICUS)

EROTICUS: (LOOKS AT THE DRAWING FOR A MOMENT AND STARTS LAUGHING). ‘Bouldering competition?’ By the power of piss! HE HANDS THE DRAWING TO ERECTICUS WHO LOOKS AT IT AND STARTS LAUGHING.

ERECTICUS: Nobody could even move these, not even Archimedes!

TESTOSTERONE: (IGNORES THEM) After they’ve hauled a new rock to the circle they stand it up and build a scaffold around it. They knock all the sharp edges off and then the children join in for the shaping and polishing. When it’s all finally done the scaffold is taken down and piled into a bonfire. The climbers are given bright red magic mushrooms and pretty soon they’re throwing off their clothes and doing cartwheels and pushups, each trying to outdo the others as the mushrooms take effect. They get themselves into a total frenzy, put a few bags of chalk powder round their waist, dip their hands in for a better grip and then start trying to climb the rock!

EROTICUS: I love it! Bullshit with wings!

ERECTICUS: (TO TESTOSTERONE, AND SUDDENLY SOUNDING VERY INTERESTED SINCE HEARING ABOUT THE MUSHROOMS) Magic Mushrooms! That’s incredible! Mushrooms like that grow on Olympus - I once took some before a wrestling tournament! The federation’s trying to ban them because things can get really wild. (ERECTICUS WALKS OVER TO THE ROCK AND BEGINS CHECKING IT OUT, TRIES TO DO THE FIRST MOVES).

TESTOSTERONE: The climbers throw themselves at the boulder for days - sometimes weeks - depending on how the shapers and polishers did their job - gradually piecing together move after move. Whoever is first to the top is hailed as the new rock god!

ERECTICUS: (FLEXING HIS MUSCLES AND SOUNDING VERY COMPETITIVE) How do they train their bodies? Do they have gymnasiums in the Sodden Isles?

TESTOSTERONE: (LAUGHS) Gymnasiums! They’re still shitting in holes in the ground, never mind gymnasiums! No, they learn to do it by doing it!

ERECTICUS: That’s ridiculous for a start! You can’t practice to do something that you can’t do by doing it!

TESTOSTERONE: That’s where the mushrooms come in handy. In fact, that’s one of the Keltois mottoes: “Just do it!”

EROTICUS: What do you think Socrates?

SOCRATES: I believe every word!

ERECTICUS AND EROTICUS STARE AT SOCRATES.

EROTICUS: (INCREDULOUS) Are you serious?

SOCRATES: (TURNING TO TESTOSTERONE). Tell them about the boulderer’s coat of arms.

TESTOSTERONE: It’s a bull balancing on its balls on a bubble of air, with the moon impaled on one horn and the sun impaled on the other, with bats and birds and bees and butterflies in the background! Whenever a new rock is climbed the Keltoi Rock Climbing Federation engraves this picture on it, followed by the name of the first climber to reach the top! Then they do the same thing whenever a new climber finds a new way. Some of the older and easier boulders have a frieze of bulls and balls, bats and butterflies, birds and bees stretching all the way around them – and twenty or thirty different names as well!

SOCRATES: (QUIZZICALLY) But didn’t you tell me that one particular name is on every single boulder at Stonehenge?

TESTOSTERONE: That’s right.

SOCRATES: (RHETORICALLY) And what name is that?

TESTOSTERONE: (PAUSE) Kaleph.

SOCRATES: (A NOTE OF VICTORY IN HIS VOICE) Kaleph who?

TESTOSTERONE: (PAUSE) Kaleph the Monkey Man!

EROTICUS AND ERECTICUS REACT WITH DISBELIEF.

EROTICUS: (GOING OVER TO THE ROCK AND EXAMINING IT) By the Power of Piss! Bullshit with Wings!

TESTOSTERONE: Compared to the stuff at Stonehenge this is like the little blue stones of the outer circle – the stuff the kids practice on!

EROTICUS: But there’s nothing to hang onto…

SOCRATES: That’s to our advantage…

EROTICUS: How do you mean?

SOCRATES: We fool them into believing it’s unclimbable - just like Kaleph did and then…

EROTICUS: Fool who?

SOCRATES: The audience at the show!

EROTICUS: What show?

SOCRATES: Our show! The Return of Kaleph! We’ll plant the rumor that he’s too old to climb the pillar and then, after they’ve placed their bets, up he goes!

EROTICUS: But he’s probably dead! You don’t even know if he’s…

TESTOSTERONE: (IMPATIENT) We don’t need Kaleph! Erecticus will be Kaleph! (EXCITED AND ANIMATED. TO ERECTICUS): We’ll get you a mask to make you look as wrinkled as a hundred-year old turtle. Your eyes will be sunk so deep there’ll be no way of knowing the closest they’ve ever been to blue is looking at the sky! You’ll have a wig of orange hair and from the neck down we’ll paint you Keltoi blue; when it dries and cracks you’ll look as ancient as a smoked kipper!

ERECTICUS: That’s the most ridiculous scheme I’ve ever heard! If this is just about money why don’t we borrow some and move? We can rent an entire villa in Marathon for what we’re paying for a single room here in the city!

SOCRATES: What, leave town with my tail between my legs? I don’t know if you ever heard the one about Heroteus and the way a man is remembered, but I’ll tell you this: I’d rather poison myself!

TESTOSTERONE: Erecticus! Listen! The Diana festivals coming! In three weeks time Athens will be mobbed with aging baby boomers and geriatric draft dodgers from the Trojan wars! They’ll all want to see the old fart climb the rock – but at the same time they’ll want him to fall off so they can make some money! All they think about is death and money and staying young! Kaleph’d be about eighty years old now by my reckoning and if we pretend he’s sick as well they’ll probably gamble as high as ten to one! Erecticus - what do you say? (SLYLY - PLAYING ON ERECTICUS’S COMPETITIVE NATURE AND HIS VANITY): If a primitive Keltoi could climb it, surely you can? They tell me you’re the greatest gymnast alive! Think of the glory!

ERECTICUS: What glory? No one will know it’s me!

SOCRATES: (INDIGNANTLY) We’ll know it’s you! Remember: The admiration of a small but select group of friends is worth far more that the slobbering adulation of the ignorant masses! (PAUSE) Besides, think of the money!

ERECTICUS: (AGITATED) I don’t know…how long have I got to train - three weeks? This is as much about madness as it is about gymnastics! (PAUSE) I wish I had some of those mushrooms you were talking about!

TESTOSTERONE: (SHARES A QUICK SLY SMILE WITH SOCRATES) Funny you should say that! (REACHES INTO HIS POCKET AND PULLS OUT A HANDFUL OF BRIGHT RED MUSHROOMS): Did you say mushrooms?

ERECTICUS: (INSPECTS THEM CLOSELY). You sneaky bastards! Just like the ones on Olympus!

SOCRATES: Eroticus; he’ll need a chalk bag!

ERECTICUS: Well, down the hatch! (TAKES THE MUSHROOMS AND DRINKS SOME WINE AND THEN REMOVES HIS SANDALS AND ROBE. ALL HE IS WEARING UNDERNEATH IS A SKIMPY LOINCLOTH. HE IS LEAN AND MUSCULAR. EROTICUS TIES A CHALK BAG AROUND HIS WAIST AND SLAPS HIM ON THE BACKSIDE.

EROTICUS: (ADMIRINGLY) By the Power of Piss! The Buns of the Gods!

ERECTICUS STARTS CHECKING OUT THE ROCK.

TESTOSTERONE: (TO ERECTICUS) What do you think?

ERECTICUS: (INSPECTING THE ROCK). I suppose you could say this scratch here is something…

EROTICUS: (LAUGHING) P of P! Get real!

ERECTICUS: (HOPEFULLY) And there’s a slight bump here. (PAUSE) I think, and…

(THE WINE PASSES AMONG THE MEN).

EROTICUS: (FEELING THE BUMP) Smaller than a eunuchs dick!

ERECTICUS: I suppose this is sort of a fingerhold?

TESTOSTERONE: A Keltoi rock god would call it a bivi ledge!

ERECTICUS: I guess it’s relative.

SOCRATES: Of course it is!

ERECTICUS: When I was training on the rings I could do ten one-arm chin-ups with a discus in the other hand and a javelin between my teeth!

TESTOSTERONE: Socrates told me what you boys get up to in the gym!

ERECTICUS: (FLEXING) I’m not bragging, I’m just saying…

TESTOSTERONE: I know…

ERECTICUS: Once you got started the upward momentum would actually help. If you were moving quickly enough!

TESTOSTERONE: That’s right!

ERECTICUS: (STRIKING A POSE) It’s basic physics!

SOCRATES: Now you’re talking!

ERECTICUS: Strength to weight ratio!

TESTOSTERONE: An ant is stronger than an ox!

ERECTICUS: (FEELING HIS OWN BICEPS) I love a good challenge!

SOCRATES: Nothing ventured nothing gained!

ERECTICUS: Application and dedication!

TESTOSTERONE: Imagination and realization!

ERECTICUS: (THE MUSHROOMS TAKING EFFECT. DOING PUSH-UPS) Levitation versus gravitation!

SOCRATES: Now you’re talking!

ERECTICUS: Right against wrong!

TESTOSTERONE: Good against evil!

ERECTICUS: Up against down!

SOCRATES: It’s definitely climbable!

ERECTICUS: (BREATHING IN, PUFFING OUT HIS CHEST) You’re right!

TESTOSTERONE: Go on, give it a try!

ERECTICUS: Why not!

SOCRATES: Now you’re talking!

ERECTICUS: (SLICKING BACK HIS HAIR) It doesn’t look all that hard…

TESTOSTETRONE: You know what the Keltois say…

SOCRATES and TESTOSTETRONE: (GIVING EACH OTHER A HIGH FIVE) No pain, no gain!

SOCRATES: Testosterone, how about the Boulderer’s Lament? See if this puts you in the mood Erecticus!

TESTOSTERONE: They sing this at all the contests.
(TAKES A GUITAR AND STRUMS. SINGS TO THE TUNE OF GREENSLEEVES)
A boulderer’s life is a life of pain
You train in the snow and you train in the rain
You pull and you strain and you pull down again
Then you fall on your head and you shatter your brain.
SOCRATES JOINS IN AND ECHOES THE LAST LINE - CONDUCTING EROTICUS TO DO LIKEWISE)
TESTOSTERONE, SOCRATES AND EROTICUS: You fall on your head and you shatter your brain!

TESTOSTERONE: (SECOND VERSE)
A boulderer’s goal is to be a Rock God
With a zero percentage of fat on his bod
To be the top dog in the bouldering squad
And to burn off every other poor anorexic sod.
TESTOSTERONE EROTICUS AND SOCRATES:
To burn off every other poor anorexic sod.

TESTOSTERONE: (THIRD VERSE)
A boulderer diets and stays on his toes
To save weight he’ll happily cut off his nose
If it’s no good for gripping – goodbye out it goes
It’s all about power to weight ratios!
TESTOSTERONE EROTICUS AND SOCRATES:
It’s all about power to weight ratios!

EROTICUS: (TO ERECTICUS) How you feeling?

ERECTICUS: Ready to wrestle! Let’s get it on!

ERECTICUS WALKS AROUND THE PILLAR. HE BEGINS HYPERVENTILATING, SHAKING OUT, STRETCHING ETC.

TESTOSTERONE: How’s the mushrooms?

ERECTICUS: Good, good. Feeling good! (HE POSITIONS HIMSELF FOR AN ATTEMPT).

TESTOSTERONE: Go man go! Just do it! Remember; no pain no gain! Do if for Nike, the Goddess of Victory!

ERECTICUS STRAINS MIGHTILY, HOLDS ONTO THE ROCK, ALL HIS VEINS STICK OUT FIT TO BURST. THE OTHERS FALL SILENT AS THEY WATCH HIM TRY TO GET OFF THE GROUND. HE LIFTS ONE LEG AND THEN, AFTER A LOT OF SHUFFLING AND REPOSITIONING, HE GETS THE OTHER OFF THE GROUND AS WELL! HE LETS OUT A HUGE FART AND FALLS OFF AND THE ONLOOKERS BURST INTO APPLAUSE. THE ACTION AND DIALOGUE IN THIS SECTION IS AD LIBBED, DEPENDING ON HOW WELL HE’S DOING, THE AUDIENCE REACTION ETC. HE FINALLY PIECES TOGETHER A FEW MOVES. WHILE THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON THE STAGE LIGHTS HAVE DIMMED. SOCRATES LIGHTS A CANDLE AND PLACES IT AT THE BASE OF THE PILLAR.

SOCRATES: You can do it Erecticus! We’ll make a fortune.

TESTOSTERONE: Time is the essence. Once word gets out – forget it! We need maximum numbers as fast as possible. Five shows a day for the Diana festival and you’ll make enough for a deposit on a building! Don’t forget it’s tax-free!

SOCRATES: Erecticus, can we count on you?

ERECTICUS: On my honor!

TESTOSTERONE: Can you be ready in time?

ERECTICUS: I’ll try!

TESTOSTERONE: (EXCITED) Eroticus, you’ll make enough posters to put one in every steam room and gymnasium, every health club, nightclub and beauty parlor in Athens. (ANIMATED, GESTURING): ‘It’s a miracle! Fifty years on! The Return of Kaleph the Monkey Man! Can he still do it?’ That sort of thing. The dates, the times, the place etc. (TO ERECTICUS, VERY INTENSE): Erecticus, you’ll do nothing but train! (TO SOCRATES. SMILING): Socrates, you’ll be the schil in the audience. (PAUSE) I’ll be the Master of Ceremonies!

SOCRATES: (SHAKES ERECTICUS’S HAND). Congratulations Erecticus! Remember: the muscle memory never forgets what the muscle memory never remembered! (ERECTICUS LOOKS PERPLEXED). Come on let’s go; Eroticus, I’ll show you that shortcut! (EXIT SOCRATES AND EROTICUS). ERECTICUS BEGINS TO FOLLOW THEM BUT TESTOSTERONE HOLDS HIM BY THE SHOULDER):

TESTOSTERONE: Not you; you start training right now!

SOCRATES: (FROM OFFSTAGE) Goodnight Erecticus! Goodnight Testosterone!

TESTOSTERONE: Goodnight.

TESTOSTERONE BLOWS OUT THE CANDLE AND THE STAGE IS LEFT IN DARKNESS. SOUND OF BODY BUMPING HARD AGAINST ROCK FOLLOWED BY MUFFLED CRY.

ERECTICUS: Ow! I banged my funny bone! I can’t climb in the dark!

TESTOSTERONE: This is how they do it at Avesbury! Backwards in high heels, in the rain with a blindfold on! Listen to the silence! To become a master you must serve your time as a slave!

ERECTICUS: I think I might lie down and rest!

TESTOSTERONE: Night night Erecticus. Sleep tight - but remember: we only have three weeks.

THEY EXIT THE STAGE.

If the play is presented in one act there will be a short house blackout at this point, as well as the stage blackout. During the blackout a few of the flyers advertising ‘The return of Kaleph’ might be put on the walls of the house. And Socrates joins the audience, sitting very visibly near the front would be best.

If the play is presented in two acts the intermission will occur at this point and a few flyers should have been put up in the foyer during the first act. Alternately, Eroticus can put them up during this intermission and use it as an opportunity to build rapport with the audience and exhort them to come to see the return of Kaleph. If it is presented in two acts then Socrates will come back in with the rest of the audience.

Second Act (or Section)

IF THERE HAS BEEN AN INTERMISSION EROTICUS AND TESTOSTERONE SHOULD USHER THE PEOPLE TO THEIR SEATS.

TESTOSTERONE GOES BACK ON STAGE. HE WORKS THE AUDIENCE DIRECTLY AND IN AVERY CONFRONTATIONAL STYLE, VERY MUCH IN THE MANNER OF A CARNIVAL BARKER / STAND UP COMIC - HUSTLING TO KEEP THE CROWDS ATTENTION. HE TELLS A FEW JOKES AND ENGAGES THE AUDIENCE DIRECTLY WITH TYPICAL QUESTION AND WISE-ASS RESPONSE ROUTINES. (I.E. Where are you from? Nice place, I spent a year there one night etc).
HE USES AUDIENCE INSULTS (I.E. How long have you been making your own clothes? etc). HE ENCOURAGES HECKLERS SO HE CAN USE SOME COMEBACK LINES. (I.E. The last time I saw a mouth like yours it had a hook in it. etc). TESTOSTERONE SHOULD PICK ON SOCRATES AT LEAST TWICE AND SOCRATES SHOULD REACT BY BLOWING A RASPBERRY AND GIVING HIM A SLOW CLAP. THIS WILL SET UP THE ANTAGONISM THAT DEVELOPS AS THEY PRETEND TO NOT KNOW EACH OTHER. THIS ENTIRE OPENING SEGMENT IS ALSO AN OPPORTUNITY FOR TESTOSTERONE TO ESTABLISH A DIRECT RAPPORT WITH THE AUDIENCE WHICH WILL (HOPEFULLY) MAKE IT EASIER TO GET A FEW VOLUNTEERS TO TRY TO CLIMB THE PILLAR.

TESTOSTERONE: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the show! We’re glad you came, we’re glad you’re here! We’re gladiolas! Do you get it? We’re gladiators! Do you get it? (PAUSE) It’s a play on words! (PAUSE) Should I send a messenger? (PAUSE) Are you an audience or an oil painting? Any pensioners in the audience - anyone preparing to be placed into the peaceful permafrost of perennial sleep? Any person who had the pleasure of being present when Kaleph performed fifty years ago?

SOCRATES: (RAISING HIS HAND) Yes! I did - and he only just made it to the top then. I’ve got two thousand zorbas to say he’ll never make it now!

TESTOSTERONE: Ah! The gentleman who was giving me the clap! Let’s have a look at you Sir! Come on, up! (SOCRATES GETS TO HIS FEET. TESTOSTERONE STUDIES HIM. PAUSE) Who do we have here? Is this the infamous Socrates, the riveting and radical raconteur – renowned for his revolutionary ruminations and rapier like repartee? The living legend who was pointed out to me in the marketplace only yesterday! I was told, Sir, that for every answer you have a question and for every question you have an answer. Is that true?

SOCRATES: How should I know?

TESTOSTERONE: It is! It’s Socrates! Ladies and genitals (POINTS AT SOCRATES) give him a big hand – he’s only got small ones!

SOCRATES: (INTERRUPTING AND IMPATIENT) Get on with the show!

TESTOSTERONE: Was that an example of the clever Socratic dialogue I’ve heard so much about - or are you still learning the language?

SOCRATES: Don’t start a battle of wits when you’ve got no weapons.

TESTOSTERONE: We’ve got about a minute until show time - why don’t you tell us everything you know?

SOCRATES: Did your mother have any children that lived? (TO THE AUDIENCE) He probably thinks the Oedipus Complex is a Greek shopping center!

(TESTOSTERONE STARTS TO CLAP, BUT WITH A SOUR LOOK ON HIS FACE)

SOCRATES: Never clap on your own – someone might throw you a fish.

TESTOSTERONE: Ladies and (GESTURES TO SOCRATES)…germs. A self made man who worships his own creator! (PAUSE) If his brain ever goes to his head he’ll be dangerous.

SOCRATES: Enough! I could walk through your deepest thoughts without getting my ankles wet! (TO THE AUDIENCE): We’re here to see Kaleph, Right? (SOCRATES BEGINS TO CHANT): We want Kaleph! (EXHORTING THE AUDIENCE TO JOIN IN): We want Kaleph! We want Kaleph!

TESTOSTERONE: (GESTURES FOR SILENCE). Fellow fanatical followers of fantastic feats of phenomenal fortitude, you can finally feast your eyes on the fabulous Kaleph! (LOOKS INTO WINGS TO SEE IF KALEPH IS READY). He’s still getting ready, he’s feeling a bit sick today to be honest. Growing old is a magical journey, a time of expanding maturity! (LOOKS OFF STAGE. PAUSE.) A time to rejoice and to explore the golden vistas and the wider horizons of experi…

SOCRATES: (INTERRUPTING) Put a sock in it!

TESTOSTERONE: (LOOKS OFF STAGE.) To celebrate the endless cycle of life itself and the rejuvenation of dreams as we grow wiser in our years and…here he is!

ENTER EROTICUS. HE IS PULLING ERECTICUS ON A STRETCHER. ERECTICUS IS COVERED UP WITH A BLANKET AND MOANS AS THE STRETCHER IS LAIN DOWN ON STAGE.

TESTOSTERONE: (TO AUDIENCE) Ladies and Gentlemen! Kaleph the Monkey Man!

EROTICUS: (CONSPIRATORIAL ASIDE TO AUDIENCE) A bit under the weather today! (TO ERECTICUS, IN A LOUD STAGE WHISPER) Kaleph! It’s show time! (TO AUDIENCE) Wait ‘til you see the way this guy sticks to the rock! The human barnacle!

ERECTICUS: (GROANS)

EROTICUS: (TO AUDIENCE) A touch of food poisoning! (TO ERECTICUS, WITH MOCK GAIETY AND RISING VOICE) It’s show time! (TO AUDIENCE) Wait ‘til you see this guy climb! Like a human fly!

ERECTICUS: (GROANS)

EROTICUS: Come on Kaleph! (WITH MOUNTING MOCK GAIETY AND RISING VOICE) It’s show time! (TO AUDIENCE) Just wait! Like a gecko!

ERECTICUS: (GROANS)

EROTICUS: Kaleph! (DESPERATE MOCK GAIETY AND RISING VOICE) It’s show time! (MIMES CLIMBING NODS HIS HEAD VIGOROUSLY AT THE AUDIENCE AND GIVES A BIG THUMBS UP SIGNAL).
Like a spider!

ERECTICUS: (GROANS)

TESTOSTERONE: (MAGNANIMOUSLY) Looks like I’ll have to hold the fort for a while! (PAUSES WHILE HE THINKS OF A JOKE TO TELL) What’s written on the top of a Trojan ladder? Stop! You heard about the Trojan grandmother who didn’t want anymore grandchildren? She had a hysterectomy! Socrates, here’s one for you: How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

SOCRATES: How?

TESTOSTERONE: I’ll tell you later! Did you hear the one about Heroteus and the way in which a man is remembered? Heroteus was lying on his deathbed, going over the facts of his life. He explained to his friend that - as a young man - he’d spent fifteen years planning and oversee…

SOCRATES: (INTERRUPTING) We want Kaleph!

TESTOSTERONE: (EXASPERATED) This is Kaleph!

SOCRATES: Prove it!

TESTOSTERONE: How?

SOCRATES: You know how! (TURNS TO THE AUDIENCE) That’s what we’re here for! Ten to one he can’t do it!

TESTOSTERONE: (POINTING AT ERECTICUS) He’s sick!

SOCRATES: He’s not sick! I’ve got two thousand zorbas to say he can’t do it.

TESTOSTERONE: Fair suck of the juicy fruit Mr. Socrates! Fair crack of the whip! Give the man a chance to get his strength back! (PAUSE) Would anyone like to try to climb the pillar while we wait? I have a thousand zorbas for anyone who reaches the top! Not at a hundred to one! Not at ten to one! Not Even Stevens. It’s not a bet ladies and gentrification, it’s a gift! Climb the pillar and win yourself a thousand zorbas!

VOLUNTEERS SHOULD BE TAKEN ONE AT A TIME IF POSSIBLE. THIS SECTION OF THE SHOW WILL GO ON FOR AS LONG AS IT IS ENTERTAINING. A BOULDERING MAT WILL BE USEFUL TO AVOID INJURIES. THE PILLAR MUST BE SKILLFULLY BUILT SO THAT IT BECOMES PROGRESSIVELY MORE DIFFICULT HIGHER UP AND SO THAT IT LOOKS AS IF IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE TO MAKE IT TO THE TOP. AFTER THE VOLUNTEERS HAVE TRIED AND ARE BACK IN THEIR SEATS TESTOSTERONE WILL CONTINUE WITH THE SHOW.

TESTOSTERONE: Final call for volunteers! A thousand zorbas to anyone who…

KALEPH: (INTERRUPTING FROM THE BACK OF THE AUDIENCE): I’ll try it!

TESTOSTERONE: Step right up!

KALEPH IS WEARING A LONG ROBE WITH A HOOD. HE HAS A ‘HOOK’ FIXED TO THE PALM OF EACH HAND. IT IS ATTACHED TO A WRIST LOOP - THE SAME AS THE LEASH ON AN ICE TOOL. THE LOOPS AND THE HOOKS ARE HELD SECURELY IN POSITION WITH SPORTS TAPE. THE ‘HOOKS’ STICK OUT ABOUT 2” AND ARE MADE FROM BLACK STEEL ROD OF 1/4” DIAMETER. THEY SLOT INTO STRATEGICALLY PLACED 5/16” HOLES THAT HAVE BEEN DRILLED - AT A DOWNWARD AND INWARD SLOPING ANGLE - INTO THE PILLAR. THE HOOKS, LOOPS ETC. WILL BE HIDDEN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE FROM THE AUDIENCE. THEY ALLOW KALEPH TO CLIMB WITH THE ILLUSION THAT THE PALMS OF HIS HANDS ARE ‘MAGICALLY’ ADHERING TO THE SURFACE.

KALEPH WALKS TO THE STAGE. HE HAS A SLIGHT LIMP, DRAGGING HIS LEFT LEG BEHIND HIM. HE GETS ON STAGE AND STARTS TOUCHING THE PILLAR, EXPLORING THE ROCK FOR HOLDS.

TESTOSTERONE: (TO KALEPH, IN THE MANNER OF A TV TALK SHOW HOST) In town for the festival Sir?

KALEPH: MUTTERS TO HIMSELF.

TESTOSTERONE: Visiting from out of town?

KALEPH SLOTS HIS HOOKS INTO THE HOLES IN READINESS.

TESTOSTERONE: (ASIDE TO AUDIENCE) Let’s hope he’s better at climbing than talking! (TO KALEPH) It’s all yours. (FACETIOUSLY) Take it away and give it hell! (PULLS A FACE AND TRIES AGAIN TO MAKE CONVERSATION): Are you in Athens to celebrate Diana Sir?

KALEPH: No, I’m here to bury my son.
(IMMEDIATELY AFTER DELIVERING THIS LINE KALEPH EFFORTLESSLY MAKES THE FIRST MOVES AND THEN HUMS THE FIRST EIGHT BARS OF GREENSLEEVES).
Tonight, when the moon is full, I’ll stand among the ancient trees in the olive grove and weep into the dirt that separates his world from mine. Under the second hand light of the sun I’ll raise my face to the sky and howl like a wolf at the unbearable beauty of the world. (PAUSE. LOOKS AT TESTOSTERONE) Diana means dick to me. (PAUSE) What are you here for?

TESTOSTERONE STARES OPEN MOUTHED, UNABLE TO RESPOND. ERECTICUS PULLS THE BLANKET OFF AND STARES AT KALEPH. HE LOOKS TO TESTOSTERONE AND EROTICUS BUT THEY ARE TRANSFIXED ON KALEPH, WHO TIRES OF WAITING AND MAKES ANOTHER MOVE.

The years do nothing to lessen my grief; it just keeps on mounting up - like sand in the desert. The euphoric forgetfulness I experience when I solve a new boulder problem and give gravity another good kick up the arse is just a short respite from the cruel thoughts of the life that Benzene and I could have enjoyed together.

MAKES ANOTHER MOVE, SLIPS AND SAVES HIMSELF.

Ooopsies! Gravity can be a heartless bitch when you’re my age! She’s a sexpot with a bad temper - and I’m getting too old to be spanked! I’d like a little love and tenderness - is that too much to ask? Still! There’s no business (PAUSE) like show business!

GENERAL STAGE LIGHTING STARTS TO FADE DOWN UNTIL ALL THAT IS LEFT IS A SINGLE FOLLOW SPOT ON KALEPH AND THE PILLAR. HE MAKES ANOTHER MOVE.

Let’s face it: it’s most unlikely my son would have found a woman to marry. Very few women are attracted to the idea of spending their lives with a man who looks like a chimpanzee. A few hours of hot sex, sure - but marriage? I don’t think so.

KALEPH CLIMBS SMOOTHLY UP THE FINAL MOVES TO THE TOP. HE AND SITS FACING THE AUDIENCE. THE FOLLOW SPOT NARROWS DOWN UNTIL IT IS JUST ON KALEPH.

I myself admit that from the moment when I saw my son I lost all hope of grand children ever gracing my old age. The two of us were doomed - but I loved him none the less – the truth is I loved him even more. Every time he breathed life into another new boulder problem I felt like the proud grandfather of another immortal grandchild! It sounds ridiculous I know, but at least it’s the truth.

How time flies! It seems like only yesterday that I was a young boy myself, captured and taken to Rome, cleaning out the cages in the zoo for fifteen hours a day. Not bad for a slave – better than being a gladiator.

Then Kaleph the gorilla died, and they promoted me to impersonating him until they could get another real one! They had him skinned and every morning I’d be sewn inside his hairy hide and all day long I’d happily pretend to be King of the Jungle! The months stretched into years but still no suitable replacement could be found. I’d swing from the topmost branches of the tree, hanging on with one hand and beating my chest with the other. “Go Higher Kaleph!” the kids would shout, “Higher!” Year after year I was happy to oblige, thinking ‘why not - better than shoveling shit’ – until one day I lost my grip and flew over the wall into the lions compound!

I lay there winded and dazed as the biggest and meanest looking lion headed straight for me! I tried to get up and run - but the pain was so intense I nearly blacked out - my leg was broken! The lion kept coming straight at me as I tried to rip off the gorilla suit and started shouting for help at the top of my lungs. “Help me, please help me” I cried. “There’s a man in here! I’m not a gorilla; I’m a man! Somebody please! Help me!” I pissed myself with fear as the lion charged and knocked me over and pinned me down! “Shut up for Gods sake,” it whispered; “do you want to get us all fired?”

KALEPH STANDS UP.

You can see the Acropolis from up here! I escaped and made it back to the Sodden Isle, so strong from playing Kaleph that becoming a Rock God was child’s play. I fell in love with Queen Francine the bouldering machine, the leanest and the meanest female climber that the world had ever seen - and she, miracle of miracles, fell in love with me and soon she was pregnant, but then disaster struck!

The child, even before he’d seen the light of day, was already a climber, and no matter how hard Francine pushed down – he pulled up! The struggle continued for three days, my good wife determined to bring the boy into the world and my dear son equally determined to stay out of it. Finally, just before dawn on the fourth day she died, may she rest in peace.

Her body grew cold but then, at the exact moment as the blood red sun was rising from the galvanic dark sea – just when the doctor was about to cut - our son finally came into the world of his own accord. Out he came; blind, terrified, exhausted and motherless - rappelling headfirst down his own umbilical cord!

The moment I saw him I realized why he’d tried so hard to stay in: He had the face of a monkey and he was completely covered - nose to toes - in thick white hair! I gathered him into my arms, kissing his face and his tiny fingers. After all, Francine and I had brought this on ourselves; It was hardly the devils work but our own - the tragic result of our obsessive joint training programs. Mushrooms, barnacles and beer. Beer, barnacles and mushrooms, and of course, chin-ups, chin-ups, chin-ups, chin-ups, chin-ups, chin-ups, chin-ups! (PAUSE) It’s hard to believe I know, but at least it’s the truth.

On Benzene’s fifth birthday Fate revealed herself again, this time in the form of the Syrian Circus. The Sodden Isle was grown old and stale and truly sodden, rank with the memories of Francine. The Elephant man’s wife was crazy about me - and every monkey in the chorus line was wild about Benzene. We joined up and life was sweet and full - but then - Athens – and the rest - as they say - is history. (PAUSE) My friends; did any of you hear the one about Heroteus and the way in which a man is remembered?

15 SECOND BLACKOUT.

DURING THE BLACKOUT A GHOSTLY CHILD’S VOICE CALLS FROM OFF-STAGE, WITH GREAT LOSS AND LONGING: Daddy! (PAUSE) Daddy! (PAUSE) Daddy!

MEANWHILE, A LIFE-SIZED WHITE TOY CHIMPANZEE IS PASSED UP TO KALEPH. (A POLE WILL BE USEFUL TO HELP ACCOMPLISH THIS QUICKLY AND QUIETLY). KALEPH SITS IT CAREFULLY ON TOP OF THE PILLAR, FACING THE AUDIENCE, AND THEN HE CLIMBS DOWN. (OR SLIDES DOWN A ROPE WHICH HAS BEEN LOWERED FROM THE FLIES)

THE STAGE LIGHTS COME BACK UP FOR ABOUT 5 SECONDS TO REVEAL A TABLEAU OF THE ACTORS STANDING MOTIONLESS AT THE BASE OF THE PILLAR, EACH ONE HOLDING A BANANA AND LOOKING UP AT THE WHITE CHIMPANZEE.

BLACKOUT.

LIGHTS COME BACK UP

The End
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Oct 4, 2014 - 10:39am PT
Ha! Zero posts to this?!?!

Awesome stuff David.
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
Oct 4, 2014 - 12:11pm PT
Word.:-)
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 4, 2014 - 08:49pm PT
Ha! Zero posts to this?!?!

Maybe not everyone's cup of tea. "Ironmongers of the dreamtime" is probably more interesting for most people (there's a link at the very top), but this one is worth a read, too. Thanks for the bump. And may John rest in peace.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jun 18, 2016 - 02:11am PT
Just woke up from reading Ironmongers.

This is like the old play that Higgins wrote about Robbins and the Golden Age Wrecking Crew, "In Due Time."

http://www.tomhiggins.net/index.php/fiction/10-in-due-time

Classics are not everyone's cup of tea, I suppose.

I need to point out that Diana is the Roman name for the goddess of the hunt, while Artemis is the Greek mythological equivalent. I'm a true pendant, forgive me.

I have often fantasized over climbing at someplace called StoneMasterHenge, but never on such sacred ground as the old Britons' purpoeted bouldering playground.

I can imagine it in the full moonlight, all these pagans naked and drinking mead and ale and doing 'shrooms.

Bit like C4 in the bygone days of Red Mountain Worship.

I watched a guy climb Midnight Lightning one night by the headlamps of his buddy and his GF, who soon became bored and faded away into the night.

He finished, but couldn't come down...there was a mean raccoon who sat on the branch he needed to get back to the ground. He had to await the 'coon's pleasure for like fifteen minutes. He was stymied.

Don't ask me why he didn't just down-climb a ways and drop off it while being spotted by his buddy.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Jun 18, 2016 - 06:28am PT
Ah, Yes my compromised friend, I too snoozed thru, I dreamed I was along with Will & Sonnie,
at some point things, iron got dropped into the sea, and at the base we met a tribe of climbing pygmes who shoulders our bags for us and made their way into the bowels of a near by Cliff, taking us to where it came out from a the cleft that came out from up behind the canvas tents of Curry Co, in The Valley .

( I would venture to guess 'BAD KNEES would be the reason not to lower off, hang & drop)


I have not been paying enough attention to the Squamish threads, I will not continue to miss Ghost's posts.

Ghost
Thank you - for good reason
These are my Father's Day gift.
Wow,
My focus is shot, I need to go read Tolstoy.
overwatch

climber
Arizona
Jun 18, 2016 - 08:28am PT
By the power of piss, bullshit with wings!

Such a great writer, for me to get through the format of a play is testimony to that.

Thank you sir for these two gifts
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
Jun 18, 2016 - 01:51pm PT
Great fun.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Jun 18, 2016 - 08:02pm PT
Pretty creative effort and really funny if you have the patience for it to set up... somewhere sometime this deserves to be executed properly as a play. Seems like a good candidate for an AAC meeting.
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