The Morningsider (Issue 3 – Act 3)

It’s All Going to Crash

 
interior –
The utility tunnels under Morningside Drive
day

The Morningsider walks down a dark, crowded utility tunnel, holding a small pen-sized LED flashlight ahead of him to light the way. Ellie walks behind him, looking scared, followed by Dishy (also pretty scared) and Broome who looks around curiously.

Ellie
Is this the part where he kills me and hides my body down her for the rats to eat?
 
Dishy
No, I mentioned that idea to him before, and he didn’t go for it. So I think you’re safe.

A rat scuttles near Ellie and Dishy and they both jump.

Dishy
As safe as anyone can be down here, anyway.
(looking at a spot on his sleeve)
God I wish I hadn’t worn nice clothes today.
 
Morningsider
Nobody is getting killed. Just don’t touch any of these steam pipes or electrical conduits.
 
Broome
You ever eat these track rabbits down here, Red?
 
Morningsider
The rats? Not here. Too many chances for them to have eaten poison.
 
Ellie
(looking askance at a rat on a pipe near her)
They should try more poison.

The Morningsider stops at a ladder and looks up.

Morningsider
We’re here.
 
Ellie
Where?
 
Morningsider
Your place.

The Morningsider climbs up the ladder.

exterior –
121st Street by Morningside Drive
day

The Morningsider crawls out of a manhole cover on 121st Street. He helps Ellie, Dishy and Broome out and replaces the cover. The four of them walk around the corner on Morningside Drive to one of the curved-front apartment buildings that face the park.

Ellie
My place, huh?
 
Morningsider
Your place.

Ellie walks up to the door of the building that the Morningsider visited at the beginning of Issue 2. The four of them enter the building.

interior –
Ellie’s apartment
day

Ellie walks into her apartment and throws the keys on the table of the kitchen area just inside the door. The other three enter and leave the door open behind them.

Ellie
(sarcastically)
Come on in. Make yourselves at home. Have a seat.
(gruffly)
And tell me what the hell is going on.

They hear a man singing showtunes as he comes down the hall.

Dishy
I guess Barry’s home.
 
Ellie
(again with the sarcasm)
By all means, invite him in, too. The more the merrier.
 
Dishy
I think he’s pretty merry already.

Barry walks up the stairs, still dressed in his strange, purple Victorian costume and sees the four of them in Ellie’s apartment. He braces himself against the door jam and looks around at them with a scowl on his face.

Barry
Well, this is sobering.

The Morningsider moves over to the kitchen sink.

Morningsider
(bending over the sink)
Come on in, Barry. And shut the door.

The Morningsider washes the black out of his beard in the kitchen sink. Barry stumbles into a chair at the table where Dishy and Broome have already seated themselves. Ellie leans back against the refrigerator, glaring and distancing herself from the others.  The Morningsider sits on the edge of the sink counter. Broome looks Barry up and down.

Broome
Who the hell are you supposed to be?
 
Barry
(leaning over into Broome’s personal space)
I’m a man of no importance.

Barry smiles knowingly and leans back.

Broome
Huh?
 
Dishy
He’s supposed to be Oscar Wilde.

Broome and Ellie look at Dishy like they can’t believe he would know that.

Dishy
What?  He kept going on and on about it at work.  Plus, you know, I can be cultured.  Stop judging me.

The Morningsider clears his throat, and they all look back at him.  Ellie glares.

Morningsider
(with a sigh)
Things have gotten crazy. I thought I could live under the radar and have as —

Ellie clicks on a tape recorder and sets it on top of the fridge.

Ellie
Go on.
 
Morningsider
I was striving for a fantasy. I wanted to try to live an indigenous kind of life and do it here in the city. I saw a lot of homeless guys, like Mr. Broome here, who have made a decent living by choosing to not make a living. I figured if they can do it by panhandling and dumpster diving, then I could do it by eating wild food. And I did — for a while — until you came along.

Riordan looks at Ellie.

Ellie
So I ruined your little dream of playing the homeless Indian in the big City?
 
Morningsider
Meh. If I hadn’t tried to play the hero and push around the people who I thought — ironically enough — might screw things up for me, then you wouldn’t have had a story to find.
 
Ellie
But why?
 
Morningsider
Why what?
 
Ellie
Why the hell would you want to be homeless. Obviously you could have a good job if you wanted to work for Barry here. I checked out his company on my blackberry on the way up here, and he seems to have a good thing going. Why not just go back to programming again — or whatever the hell you geeks do for a living? Why would you want to turn away from that?
 
Barry
Yeah, I never understood that either.
 
Morningsider
Because it isn’t right. It’s not supposed to be like this.
 
Ellie
You mean you weren’t supposed to lose your job in the first place?
 
Morningsider
No. You don’t get it. That tragedy was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Ellie looks at him like he has lost his mind.

Morningsider
Something had been eating at me for a while. That this life — this business of making money to pay rent and buy food — life didn’t used to be like this. We used to know how to live without having to pay a million other people to do the majority of our living for us.
 
Ellie
I don’t follow.
 
Morningsider
Back in the stone age —
 
Ellie
Wait. You want to be a caveman, don’t you?
 
Morningsider
Kind of. Yeah. But not exactly.
 
Ellie
But you want to go back to the stone age?
 
Morningsider
The thing is that the stone age is still going on. People, tribes, indigenous communities of human beings, as fully evolved as you and I, are living their lives in a much simpler, happier, healthier way right now.
 
Ellie
You mean savages.
 
Morningsider
You see them that way. You have been taught by everything you grew up hearing to see them that way. But why call them savages? They’re just as human as you and me.
 
Ellie
Ah, the noble savages, right?
 
Morningsider
They’re just people. Maybe they don’t live in houses made out of the same stuff we do. Maybe they don’t eat the same kind of food we do. Maybe they tell stories to each other instead of keeping all their knowledge in books. But that doesn’t make them any less human than you, Ellie.
 
Ellie
But you want to live like that? You want to live in a cave and eat weeds?
 
Morningsider
Yes. Absolutely.
 
Ellie, Dishy and Barry
Why?
 
Broome
Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.
 
Ellie
Huh?
 
Broome
Eeyore. From Winnie the Pooh. He said that.
 
Morningsider
Right! And Emerson said, “A weed is simply a plant whose virtues we haven’t yet discovered.” By “we”, I think he meant us civilized folks. Because the native peoples of the world have already gotten to know all the plants.
 
Ellie
So this is some kind of New Age holistic business you’re into?
 
Morningsider
No. It’s definitely very old age. And it’s far more holistic than any holisticism out there.
 
Ellie
But why?  I still don’t get it.
 
Morningsider
Because it’s real. It’s life. It doesn’t depend on oil and factories and governments and all the other complexities of civilization?
 
Ellie
What’s wrong with civilization?
 
Morningsider
It’s killing the Earth. Including us. And it’s all going to crash.
 
end act
 
Previous Issue
What Are You Playing At?
The Morningsider
Main Page
Next Act
Where Do We Go From Here?
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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by neworangutang on 09/25/2007 at 5:56 pm

    This one really, really rocks, it summarizes everything in a way that people outside the movement can understand, at least a little bit. And the great thing is that that makes sense, becuase that is exactly what the Morningsider is trying to do, the awesome thing is that he can really do it. Too many books have a guy say this is the secret to the universe, and then skip ahead to the next scene. Anyway, my favorite piece was “We used to know how to live without having to pay a million other people to do the majority of our living for us.” It so succicntly sums up the too massive scale, the lack of being, the rushing around, the disconnection and the core of the argument against civilization.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Rix on 09/26/2007 at 9:38 am

    Thanks, Matt. I always worry that the story itself will sound preachy, so I appreciate you sharing how it came across to you.

    Too many books have a guy say this is the secret to the universe, and then skip ahead to the next scene.

    Yeah, I get frustrated too with writers who want to advance a story and take the shortcut of skipping the meat of the matter. Every author has to make decisions about what forwards their own story, but the problem for folks like you and me comes down to the fact that we want the story that tells that part that they skip. I hope The Morningsider can tell that story.

    Reply

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