"Atrophy"
by Vincent Truman
as performed in the Suspicious Clowns' fourth show (April - May 2003)
2003 Vincent Truman/Suspicious Clowns

Commentary on 'Atrophy' by Vincent Truman:
"This piece came together very quickly while I was immersed in a swamp of formula sketch-writing. While listening to some old Lenny Bruce CDs, I thought to myself, well, write about something that pisses you off. Apathy pisses me off, but I had already written one by that title for the first show - in that case, a gameshow where lack of ambition was rewarded with prizes that didn't quite materialize. Taking a cue from that scene, I stretched into a full-length piece, following one pathetic lazy drone as he is robbed of his support mechanism - in this case, a slave boy who manipulates all his limbs. I always liked that the protagonist in this scene never goes through a transition and becomes a better person for his experiences - he just sort of rots away. That is, after all, what atrophy is all about."

ENID (Robert)
TICKET TAKER (Jeb)
WALTER (Scott)
SYLVIA (Lauren)
SLAVEBOY (Vincent)
TOBY TH E WAITER (Terri)

ENID stands on her own, reading a newspaper. WALTER enters with SLAVEBOY behind him manipulating all his movements. ENID stares. SLAVEBOY directs WALTER’s face to look at her and smile. ENID, puzzled but not unpleasant, smiles back.

SLAVEBOY squeezes WALTER’s chest, forcing out these words:

WALTER
….what a day, huh….

ENID
I’m sorry?

WALTER
…what a day, huh…

ENID
Are you ok?

WALTER
…yeh, I’m just…
…in management…

SLAVEBOY extends WALTER’s hand.

WALTER
…hi, I’m Walter…F..…innegan…

ENID leaves immediately. A ticket taker enters.

TAKER
Tickets. Tickets.

WALTER
….just one moment… ….it’s in my….pocket……

TAKER
Come on, mister. Did you find it yet?

WALTER
…yes…

WALTER lamely holds out ticket, which falls to the ground. The ticket taker picks it up.

TAKER
What about the other guy?

WALTER
..what..other guy?…

TAKER
The guy who’s hugging you or whatever?

WALTER
…er…um…who?

TAKER
OK, c’mon. Do you have a ticket, mister?

WALTER
…I just gave you…my…

TAKER
Not you.

WALTER
Oh him…I’m in … management…

SLAVEBOY
No mas! No mas! Por favor…!

TAKER
Let’s go!

TAKER pulls SLAVEBOY away and they exit. WALTER slumps to the ground. He sits there, pathetically, his mouth agape, looking blankly away.

WALTER’S VOICEOVER
Hey, slaveboy! Get back here!
Wait a minute. What’s this? A voiceover! Oh, God…
How did this happen to me? Why did this happen?
I used to be a businessman with a solid future and four working limbs…
now…now I’m nothing. What happened?
Wait, I remember. … that powerful merger dinner meeting…

BLACKOUT.

CUT TO:

At the powerful merger dinner meeting, WALTER sits across the table from SYLVIA.

SYLVIA
Merger talk, merger talk.

WALTER
Merger talk?

SYLVIA
Merger talk!

WALTER
Ah, merger talk!

A waiter enters and puts down food. WALTER begins to eat.

SYLVIA
Walter, what are you doing?

WALTER
Eating.

SYLVIA
Walter, some friendly advice… let the staff handle the necessary
things in life, you handle the important things. Toby?

The waiter begins to manipulate SYLVIA’s arm, bringing the food to his mouth and helping him chew.

WALTER
What are you doing?

SYLVIA
(as his jaw is being manipulated)
That’s a good question, Walter. I’m thinking about the merger.
While you ponder your fettuccini, I’m thinking business.
More brain focus.
(TOBY makes SYLVIA tap his own noggin)
That’s right. You should try it.

WALTER
OK, I…

SYLVIA
(to the waiter, indicating WALTER)
Toby.

The waiter does the same for WALTER. SYLVIA’s jaw goes slack. He attempts to make sound.

Pretty good, huh?

BLACKOUT

CUT TO:

Golfing range. WALTER and SYLVIA chat as two slaveboys (Toby and SLAVEBOY) manipulate their limbs.

WALTER’S VOICEOVER
From that day on, my life was changed forever. I got my own boy
to follow me around and for a while, everything looked ducky.

SYLVIA
You know we need a new deal.

WALTER
New deal sounds good. Any prospects?

SYLVIA
You mean real companies? No. But who needs real companies?
We can just make ‘em up and merge ‘em.

WALTER
That’s a revolutionary idea.

SYLVIA
I’m a revolutionary guy.

BLACKOUT.

CUT TO:

Back on the train. WALTER lies limp on the ground.

WALTER’S VOICEOVER
And here I am now. A disheveled, useless shell of a man.
What do I do whenI get to my stop? I can’t get up!
I’ll be riding all night!
(beat)
Now wait a second. Maybe this is the turning point
I’ve been waiting for.
The chance to re-capture my inner strength. To reclaim who I am!
All I’ve got to do is want it. Here goes. Up!
(beat)
OK, maybe that was too much to start with.
Maybe I should twitch. OK – focus on the twitch.
(beat)
Damn. OK, enough of this. I’m getting up. Now.

RIGHT NOW!!!!
Oh, I soiled myself. Shit. Literally. Slave boy! Oh Slave boy!
Hear me and return! Slave boy!!!

Slow fade to black.

 

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