Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Issac (A Four Act Play)

 Scene 1- December Morning- 13th St.- 5:45am

Dan, an awkwardly excitable, male in his late twenties walks along side Issac, early forties, quiet and reserved. The pair walk down 13th street in the early morning hour. 

Dan- So are you from Philadelphia?
Issac- Yeah.
Dan- Oh word. I am too, although I just had this debate last week over whether or not I can say I'm from Philadelphia if I was born in the suburbs.
Dan- You think that counts?
Issac- I guess so.
Dan- So you were born in the city?
Issac- Yeah.
Dan- What part?
Issac- North.
Dan- So I guess that makes you an Eagles fan?
Dan- A lot of people have a lot to say about what the problem is with the Eagles this year. You know what I think their problem is?... They're not very good.
Dan- You like the Eagles?
Issac- Not really.
Dan- Do you like sports?

Dan and Issac turn onto Walnut street.

Dan- What about movies?
Issac- They're okay.
Dan- Do you have a favorite?
Issac- Not really.
Dan- You like TV?
Issac- I guess.
Dan- What's your favorite show to watch?
Issac- I don't really like the ones on TV now.
Dan- So you like old shows?
Issac- I guess.
Dan- Which ones?
Issac- I don't know.
Dan-(Dejected) Okay.

Scene Two- Saint Johns Hospice Exterior- 6:15am

Dan stands next to his car with Kati, mid twenties, energetic brunette.

Kati- How was your walk?
Dan- Uhhhhh, it was okay.
Kati- Who did you go with?
Dan- Issac.
Kati- The new guy?
Dan- Yeah.
Kati- How is he?
Dan- Well... he's a tough nut to crack.
Kati- How so?
Dan- He's not a big talker. I did most of the talking.
Kati- Sounds perfect for you.
Dan- Funny. Walk with us on Friday, you'll see.

Scene One- Two Days Later- Chestnut Street.

Dan, Kati, and Issac walk down Chestnut St. Kati and Dan flank him, creating an Issac sandwich.

Kati- So Issac, what kind of stuff do you like to do?
Issac- I don't know.
Kati- Any hobbies?
Issac- Don't think so.
Dan- Issac works at Mission Grille.
Kati- Ohhhhh you do?!?!?
Issac- Yeah. 
Kati- What do you do there?
Issac- Cook.
Kati- Oh wow. Do you like to cook?
Issac- It's okay.
Dan- What's your favorite thing to cook?
Issac- Hmmm.. not sure.
Dan- Is that something you'd like to keep doing? Cooking?
Issac- Yeah.
Kati- Would you want to be a head chef somewhere?
Issac- Maybe I'd like to open up my own food truck.
Kati- Oh man! I love food trucks!
Dan- She really does.
Kati- They are the best! They have the best ones in University City. They have the best tacos ever over there.
Dan- They are very popular.
Kati- What kind of truck would you want to have?
Issac- A small one.
Dan- What kind of food would you sell?
Issac- Breakfast stuff.
Kati- Like breakfast sandwiches?
Issac- Yeah, like that I guess.
 Scene 1- Three weeks later- Broad and Race- 5:35am
Dan and Issac stand at the corner of  Broad and Race st. The team around them begins jogging south towards City Hall. 
Dan- Okay, you feel like trying to run a little bit today?
Issac- Okay.
Dan- Okay, how about this? Lets jog two sides of this block, then walk the other two.
Issac- Hmmm okay.
Dan- Alright, just stay next to my hip. We'll take the first one nice and slow. 
Issac- Okay.

Dan and Issac slowly begin to jog along the sidewalk. They turn onto Arch St. heading towards 13th. They reach 13th then begin to walk. They turn back onto Race towards Broad, eventually ending at the corner where they began.
Dan- Wanna try again?
Issac- Sure.

They repeat. And then again, and again.
Dan- Okay, let's try for a third side this time, sound cool?
Issac- I think so.
Dan and Issac jog slowly like before, only this time continue running as they break onto 13th St.
Scene 2- Three Weeks Later- Race Street- 5:40am
  The circle of runners disbands and begins to walk west on Race St. Issac weaves through a couple of people walking up to Dan.

Issac- Hey Dan, do you know who I can call to get electricity?
Dan- Oh, for your new place?
Issac- Yeah, who do I call?
Dan- You should call Peco, they'll turn it on for you. It's pretty easy.
Issac- Peco?
Dan- Yeah, we can get you the phone number when we get back. When do you move in to the apartment?
Issac- Monday.
Dan- Oh wow, that's awesome! Congratulations.
Issac- What about gas?
Dan- Peco. We can get that number too.
Scene 1-The Next Day- Ambler, PA- Frostbite Five Miler- 9:05am
Dan stands with a number of cheering teammates of Back on My Feet. Issac, in his bright red zip-up comes jogging along the final turn of the five mile race, being paced by another young volunteer encouraging him on. 
All- Go Issac! You're doing great!
Cheers erupt from the group standing along the race as Issac runs by. He gives a slight wave, a simple yet pronounced smile across his face. He makes his way around the final bend disappearing into the crowd of the finish line.

Scene 2- Dan's Car- One Hour Later
Dan drives his small black car. Each seat is filled with a teammate. Issac sits in the rear behind the passenger seat. Motown music plays as they make their way home from the race.
Dan- Well that was fun.
Keith- Yeah it was.
Dan- Anyone have any big plans for the rest of the day?
Keith- S-L-E-E-P.
Dan- Sounds about right. 
Dan- What about you Issac? Did you have fun?
(Silence... Issac lets out a small, quiet slip of laughter.)
Dan- Issac... did you just make a joke?
Scene 3- Saint John's Hospice Exterior- Twenty Minutes Later.
Dan pulls his car up along side of the shelter. Keith and Issac open their respective doors.
Dan- Okay, guys, have a good one.
Keith nods, talking with an unknown voice on his cell phone.
Dan- And Issac, good luck moving on Monday.   
Issac- Thanks. Tell Faye I won't be there on Monday.
Dan- I'll tell her. Good luck.
Issac- Bye now.

Issac strides over and disappears into the front door of the shelter. Dan waits for a moment, watching him as he goes, then drives off.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Frozen Rivers

He looked right up at me.

He stared at me as if to say, "What the fuck are you looking at?".

And we stayed there like that for a second, me standing atop the bridge and he down below. Our eyes locked within this day of juxtaposition. The sun was shining, unobstructed in the cloudless blue above me, while cold air whipped about. A coldness that didn't seem to care, making you wonder if the sun was being held at bay by some kind of invisible glass dome. As if all of Philadelphia was one giant snow globe.

It was Sunday morning, and the sixth straight day of what had seemed like an indefinite gust of winter. I was five miles into a long run, at that point of neutrality where your body stops fighting to stay warm, and starts accepting the cold.

And with pink cheeks, and a sniffling nose, I made my turn to head over the South Street Bridge, when I noticed it. My eyes working faster than my brain, registered the alert that something wasn't right, when finally my mind catches up.

"Wait a minute, the water's not moving."

And that's when I saw him. The small white bird, with thin brown legs standing in what should have been the bustling Schuylkill River. Only it wasn't bustling, it wasn't rambling, it wasn't even trickling. It was still. A muted brown cut by sweeping white curves, like an ugly piece of marble. Leaves, and other debris strewn across the surface, being bounced about by the wind.

There was something poetic about.

Something poignant about it. Something metaphorical, a metaphor I couldn't help but see, and a metaphor I probably wanted to find.

Cause here before me was the Schuylkill River. A river that combined with the Delaware created a natural location for the makings of a city. A river that served the trade and industry that built Philadelphia. And here it was, frozen to a halt.

The river that built a city.

And as I continued to run, I couldn't help but think that I recognized this somewhere else. That this wasn't the only place in Philadelphia where you could see this. That running through our city you see it in the faces of the men and women who lay down at night on subway grates, clutch cardboard signs, and walk our sidewalks with no where to go. You see it in their eyes, the icy stillness as they stare off as though they are watching this world on T.V., but not a part of it.

The frozen souls of Philadelphia.

But you and I know something else about frozen rivers. We know, that even though they look still, the water still flows beneath the surface of the ice. We know that the frozen surface hides what's underneath.

And just like we have been taught about these frozen rivers and lakes, so too maybe do we need to be reminded of what lies beneath the surface of these men and women.

That although that layer of ice has formed, by drug addiction, mental illness, troubled past or things we don't want to imagine, there is still something alive beneath it.

And though we may not be able to see it on the surface, and buried deep down, the truth still remains that underneath it all there is something good and warm in each of us.