The STATES OF NEBRASKA, IOWA, and MINNESOTA arrive to consult the ORACLE
A stage with four chairs, each spotlit. The chairs are arranged in semicircular fashion around a circular table. From left: 1) a spare, hard, straightback chair, in black, with some sort of hand-fashioned cushion on it, tied to the chair at the corners. 2) A comfortable recliner, ideally in light blue. 3) A metal folding chair, tan. 4) A wooden rocking chair. The table holds four glasses, four mugs, a pitcher of ice water, and a coffee pot.
The VEHICLE, previously a man by the name of Edmund Ludens, emerges from stage right and takes her place in the metal folding chair. Edmund Ludens became a woman a few months ago. Or, rather, had been becoming a woman over a period of time, what with hormone treatments and electrolysis and much cross-dressing and suchlike. Though she skipped the breast implants, because she could only afford one without cutting into the money for her sex-change operation, in which a pre-fabricated Supralute Vagina was placed in her body where her penis used to be, and a single breast is kind of worse than none at all. The Supralute Vagina came in three colors: the standard pink, and then also blue or green, which it goes without saying that most Supralute customers are, like Edmund, traditionalists, and go with pink. Though the green also sells well in the more environmentally-focused parts of California.
The state of IOWA, in the person of an old man, ideally someone in his seventies, and relatively non-threatening in appearance, appears from behind the curtains at the back of the stage. He is wearing bib overalls, attached to which is a large purple foam cutout of an Iowa map. There may also be spectacles, if desired. He takes his place in the wooden rocking chair next to the Vehicle.
The Vehicle is so named because she is the means by which the real star of our show, the ORACLE, gets around. Though this is not to devalue the Vehicle in any way. The ORACLE talks to people and tells them the truth, or whatever version of the truth they are willing to hear, because although she was at one time only a non-verbal Supralute Vagina, in the rather ordinary pink hue, no less, since her installation in the Vehicle, something wonderful has happened, and she is able to talk.
The state of NEBRASKA, in the person of another old man, about fifty-five, and somewhat larger and heavier than IOWA but in the same basic bib-overalls-wearing mode, emerges from stage left and takes his seat in the straightback chair. The Nebraska map on his overalls is made of red foam, and is to scale with IOWA’s map.
The Oracle’s verbosity comes at a price, of course, as all such things do: the Vehicle, who previously was not exceptional save for her internal, unshakable sense of her own gender, however at odds with her body or chromosomes this may have been, has fallen mute since waking up after the surgery. There is rampant speculation, most of it the Vehicle’s own, that if she were able to select a new name for herself, the muteness would go away, and the Oracle would once more fall silent, which consequences have all sorts of ramifications and sometimes give the Vehicle a bit of a headache, to think about.
The state of MINNESOTA, in the person of a fifty-year-old woman, somewhat heavyset but not grotesquely so, emerges from stage right. A blue foam map of Minnesota is attached to the front of her floral-print dress, and sets off the print very nicely, by the way. She sits in the remaining chair, the recliner. The stage lights come up all the way as she does so.
Oracle: This is unusually formal. Mostly people just accost the Vehicle wherever she happens to be and start firing questions.
Iowa: That may be how they do things out in L.A., I guess. People in the Midwest believe in being neighborly. Ice water? Coffee?
Oracle: Coffee, I guess. [IOWA pours coffee.] On behalf of the Vehicle, thank you. This get-together is your idea?
Iowa: [shrugs] More or less. [to NEBRASKA and MINNESOTA:] And you guys?
Nebraska: Nothing for me, thanks.
Minnesota: Sure. Water. [IOWA pours water.]
Iowa: Should have known, all them lakes you got. [winks]
[MINNESOTA smiles ambiguously.]
Nebraska: Lotta peein’, though. [MINNESOTA frowns.]
Oracle: Well this is very nice.
[silence for a couple beats]
Nebraska: Been hot.
Minnesota (enthusiastically): Oh it sure has.
Iowa [to NEBRASKA]: Got your corn out yet?
Nebraska: Just about.
Minnesota: You see George Dubya when he came through?
Nebraska: Nope. He didn’t stop for me. Spent all his time with you two.
Minnesota: Well that’s a shame.
Nebraska: [shrugs] Don’t change nothing. I knew where my vote was going already.
Nebraska: To Bush, acourse. Who else would I vote for?
Oracle: I don’t know. Kerry? Elders?
Nebraska: Well no offense, but I’d like a President who did more than just choke the chicken all day.
Iowa: [to NEBRASKA] Tell you what. I’ve been married for close to fifty years, and I’m pretty sure, on the basis of that, that women don’t have a, chicken to choke. As such.
Nebraska: I meant Kerry.
Minnesota (uncomfortable): I like Kerry pretty well. He seems like a nice guy.
Nebraska: Well sure, if you like baby-killing Taxachusetts liberals like Ted Kennedy. Or if you want to go marry a woman.
Iowa (concerned): I . . . he kills babies?
Minnesota: [to IOWA] He means pro-choice. [to ORACLE] Nebraska listens to a lot of Rush, you see. Speaking of which, [to NEBRASKA] what’s he had to say about that Oxycontin business, Rush? How drugged up does somebody have to be before they can no longer occupy the moral high ground?
Nebraska: He hasn’t said a damn thing more than he needed to. Had a problem with prescription painkillers, his life got a little out of hand, he went to rehab. Ain’t none of my business what his personal problems are.
Minnesota: I just wish you could have been that enlightened when Monica Lewinsky was in the news.
Iowa: Speaking of drugs, has anybody noticed that Kansas is acting kind of weird lately?
Nebraska: Well Clinton was an elected representative of the United States. Rush is just one little, kinda persecuted guy with a radio show.
Oracle: I might have to differ with your use of the words “little” and “persecuted.”
Minnesota: [to IOWA] ‘Lately?’ Kansas has always been about half a bubble off. [to NEBRASKA] One poor little persecuted multimillionaire who was spending ten grand a day on dope.
Oracle: I’m really going to have to interject. What I’m getting is that we’re here to talk about the upcoming election, and everybody’s votes therein?
Oracle: So we’re interested in things like the economy, and job growth. Health care, foreign affairs. The big stuff.
Nebraska: I don’t know about any of that. What I do know is that George Bush can keep this country safe from the terrorists. And no goddamned abortion-doctor feminazi tax-and-spend gay-marriage French-speaking pushover Democrat can do that. I want my tax cuts --
Minnesota: Your tax cuts? What kind of tax cuts did you get? ‘Cause I haven’t seen anything.
Nebraska: Yeah, well, you didn’t see nothing because you’re run by a buncha tax-and-spend liberals who take all the money.
Minnesota (to NEBRASKA): You take that back, you . . . unicameral freak.
Nebraska (to MINNESOTA): Aw, go drool on some half-naked pro wrestler.
Minnesota: Oh! [turns away from NEBRASKA]
Iowa: I never saw much in the way of tax cuts either.
Nebraska: Well, all due respect, there, you’re almost as bad as this one. You got your Democratic Governor with the name like a pickle, Vlasick, or whatever –
Nebraska: Well and I bet he’s wanting to spend all your money on them gays, right? Gays, and affirmative action for all them Mexicans you bring up to pick crops, send a buncha folks don’t speak-o the Engleesh to University. You need to just get a decent Governor, somebody who’ll reward people who do an honest day’s work and don’t go around asking for government handouts all the time.
Iowa: Well, okay, but that still doesn’t explain why I never saw any tax money. Bush said he’d cut me a break, and I got one check for $300, and I’m still waitin’ for the rest.
Nebraska: Well then it’s all them liberals in Congress.
Oracle: Both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republicans, and have been for two years. The White House is in Republican hands for the last four. The Supreme Court’s mainly Republican appointments since forever. Exactly how much more power do you think the Republicans need to have before they’re in a position to do what you want them to do?
Oracle: I mean, how much longer is it going to work to blame the Democrats for all your problems? The country’s run by Republicans, your Governor is a Republican, as are all your state officials, your Legislature is officially non-partisan but most of the Senators have Republican positions on everything and an awful lot of them were active in the Republican party before their election. So if you’re not living in a Republican paradise, then how can you possibly blame it on liberals?
Nebraska: Well, Rush says --
Oracle: [to MINNESOTA and IOWA] Work it out. I’m going.
[exeunt ORACLE, VEHICLE]
Minnesota: I have to say, I was expecting something a little more polite.
Iowa: It’s because she’s from L.A.
Nebraska: They’re so high-strung out there.
Minnesota: People from California can be kind of flakey.
Iowa: I hear some of them don’t even eat pork.
Nebraska: Big Muslim population.
Iowa: No. I mean, no meat at all. And sometimes [whispering] no dairy.
Nebraska: Yep. She’s probably one of them. I noticed there was something kinda off about her.
Minnesota: Besides how she used to be a man?
Nebraska: [baffled look]
(Story continues at ROBERT MUGABE.)