Oracular Vagina 2 (Jessi Guilford)

Fiction. A sex-change patient recovers from surgery to find herself mute, and vehicle to a truth-telling genetically engineered vagina. World leaders arrive to consult said vagina, and there may also be a wacky neighbor. Companion site to Oracular Vagina Takes Her Place, which no longer exists as such.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

JUSTINE DEDE LOMBARD, CNN/Time journalist, talks to MEDIC WALLY ‘BOLA’ PEREZ in Iraq

Iraq, day. A U.S. base near Baghdad. LOMBARD is accompanied by a number of lighting, makeup, and camera techs, who are all already in place and fussing around with various pieces of equipment as the scene opens. The TECHS’ dialogue will be mouthed, not spoken, as they are not on-camera and therefore have nothing relevant to say to the world. Actors playing the Techs may invent their own ‘dialogue’ to mouth, or just mime some sort of generic speaking. It really doesn’t matter. LOMBARD is self-important and kind of unfriendly, much as anyone to whom entirely too much attention gets paid, day in and day out, might be. She’s here for the story, the story being, in this case, to interview a number of soldiers and then splice the tapes together into a coherent whole which tells the story of American Troops Courageously Liberating Iraq. WALLY ‘BOLA’ PEREZ is the third of five such soldiers, and is already present, in uniform, waiting to be spoken to, somewhat off to the side.

Lombard: [laughs] The things we do for fame, right? Bet Bob never had to do anything like this.

Lighting Tech: “ ”

Lombard: Yeah, well, Bob can suck my cock. Do we have any dirt?

Makeup Tech: “ ”

Lombard: Not too much. Suggesting is all. Hardship. Burnt cork. Adverse circumstances.

Lighting Tech: “ ”

Lombard: Whatever. We linked?

Camera Tech: “ ”

Lombard: Well okay. Not on the nose, it makes it look crooked. Lemme see. [Makeup Tech picks up mirror.] We ready?

Camera Tech: “ ”

Lombard: I suppose we’ll reshoot if we have to. They said five o’clock, but they didn’t say which time zone. It’ll be short anyway. [to PEREZ:] Ready?

Perez: Yes ma’am.

Lombard: Or maybe they said which time zone and I just didn’t write it down. [to PEREZ:] I’m sorry, I’m really much more organized than this usually. I appreciate your waiting. Did you shower?

Perez: Ma’am?

Lombard: Did. You. Shower. You’re supposed to be fresh from the front. That’s the story we’re doing.

Perez: I’m sorry. Any other day the last two weeks --

Lombard: God. Terri? A little dirt for our boy here, too. Thanks. In five, four, three. I’m here with Wally Perez, an Army medic with the 3rd Infantry Division here in Iraq. Wally, what can you tell us about the morale of the troops here?

Perez: Everybody got this broken feeling like their father or their dog just died.

Lombard: Everybody knows the war is over? That Iraq is no longer under occupation?

Perez: Everybody knows that the boat is leaking. Everybody knows the captain lied. What about things back home? We can’t get enough about what things are like back home. Some of the people here who were in the first Gulf War, they say there used to be more, there was more news from folks. Like we’ve been forgotten over here. So what’s home like?

Lombard [shrugs]: Yellow ribbons and bows. Old Black Joe’s still picking cotton. Everybody talking to their pockets. The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.

Perez: But everybody remembers we’re here, right?

Lombard: Everybody knows.

Perez: Everybody knows? I’ve seen so much death, legs blown off. Mutilated civilians.

Lombard: You live forever.

Perez: Tell that to the guys I’ve lost.

Lombard: What would you guys like to be getting over here?

Perez: Everybody wants a box of chocolates and a long-stemmed rose.

Lombard: Might not transport well. It’s what, 114 degrees here?

Perez: I think they said 105. Depends on how much shade.

Lombard: Still enough to melt and wilt. By the time it gets here. But look. Everybody knows that you’re in trouble. But I’m more interested in kind of an upbeat angle for this piece. Is there anything you’d like to say to somebody back home?

Perez: Well I’d like to say hi to my wife. Cindy: Everybody knows that you love me baby. Everybody knows that you really do.

Lombard: That’s sweet.

Perez: [shrugs]

Lombard: And when you get orders to move out, what’s the feeling like then? Is there excitement?

Perez: Some, sure. There’s a lot of boredom, when we’re just waiting around for orders. So when orders come it’s kind of a relief. I’m seeing a lot of anxiety too, but, you know, everybody rolls out with their fingers crossed, and mostly everybody makes it back.

Lombard [nodding]: What was your last mission like?

Perez: The good guys lost. I don’t really want to talk about it.

Lombard: So you’re saying that morale is at sort of a critical point.

Perez: I’m saying, take one last look at this before it blows. We write letters, we cry, we yell, and nothing happens. Is this about the anti-war movement? Do people just not care what happens to us ‘cause they’re against us, against the war?

Lombard: I couldn’t really say. I haven’t personally talked to anyone who was against the war. I don’t think there were really that many of them, frankly. But I’m sure it’ll get better. Everybody knows that it’s moving fast.

Perez: .

Lombard: Okay, well, thank you very much. I doubt I’ll be coming back. Everybody knows this scene is dead. They’re talking up Iran now.

Perez: But the piece you’re doing here. That will disclose. . . .

Lombard: Oh, but everybody knows. Pieces about the troops are kind of an artifact of the past. I’m being punished for something I said to our assignment coordinator, Mitzi. Called her a bitch. [to LIGHTING TECH:] But she is a bitch, am I right?

Lighting Tech: “ ”

Lombard: I should move on. It’s been wonderful talking to you though. Wish you all the best.

Perez: So many people you just have to meet.

Lombard: Had to meet. I’m not really getting much of an upbeat angle here. I might not file the story. Thanks again. You were great. Very photogenic, too. [to CAMERA TECH:] He looks good on camera, I bet. Maybe a voiceover. Cut. We’re rolling.


(With love to Leonard Cohen.)

(Story continues at MADONNA.)


When last we saw RIMI PETERS and MARIE AMIE FALCON (“With a long “O,” please.”), Marie Amie had brought a shoebox to Rimi, at which point (to quote from Pastel Pansy’s account):

“Rimi opens the box and a sterile light surrounds her and Marie. They seem to become images that have fallen out of a television and spilled on the carpet, like wine stains. They are being ground in. They are becoming part of everybody’s capacity for pleasure. Superduper pleasures are harder to remembers. High heels cop a feel on a plea.”

As the scene opens, Rimi and Marie Amie find themselves in a smallish room, very brightly lit, in which everything is a blue monochrome like on a black-and-white television set. The set could be a den, possibly, or a living room, or a family room. Are those just different names for the same room, or are there distinct differences? All the objects in the room are blue, in varying shades, and the lighting is very bright, pale blue, and omnidirectional. There should be no pronounced shadows. A large photo of JOYCELYN ELDERS is hanging on the wall at the back of the room, over a blue couch. An end table to stage right of the couch holds a lamp. There is a coffee table in front of the couch, with a bouquet of forget-me-nots and bachelor’s buttons in a vase. An old-fashioned rotary phone hangs on the wall to stage left of the couch, next to a door.

Rimi: What the fuck did you do? What was that?

Marie Amie: I don’t know. This isn’t what I was expecting.

A youngish woman in a leather jacket emerges from the door at stage left. She is kind of short. Blonde, straight hair, down to about her shoulder blades. Blue jeans.

Youngish Woman: Hey.

Marie Amie: Hey yourself.

Rimi: Who are you? What the fuck happened? Where are we? Is this a dream? Am I dead?

Youngish Woman: [holds up hands as if to block the inquiries] Um. You have questions. I get that. But first, relax. You’re fine. Everything’s going to be fine. I promise.

Marie Amie [to YOUNGISH WOMAN]: Let’s talk about your clothes.

Youngish Woman: Let’s don’t. Let’s talk about you two.

Marie Amie: Okay, look, no offense, but I don’t know you, I don’t like how I got here, and this makes me think that maybe I don’t like you either. So if you’re expecting me to tell you about my life story, where I grew up and all that David Copperfield crap, then I’m thinking you’re going to be disappointed.

Youngish Woman: “David Copperfield crap?”

Marie Amie: I quote when I’m nervous.

Youngish Woman: I didn’t mean let’s talk about you two in that sense anyway. This isn’t about your past, it’s about your future, and about the world you’re living in.

Rimi: [exchanges look with MARIE AMIE]

Youngish Woman: How do you feel about the world?

Marie Amie: Does it matter?

Youngish Woman: You know, the sooner you answer my questions, the sooner I’ll be able to answer yours. And then we can get on with it.

Marie Amie: God. What a bitch. Okay, fine. The world is . . . it’s the world. There are cars, and clothes, and countries, and computers. Same as it ever was. What’s to feel about it?

Youngish Woman: Is it a place you like to live in?

Marie Amie: As compared to what?

Youngish Woman: Can you imagine a better world?

Marie Amie: Oh God yes. You know those blue jeans people are buying, that are all pre-faded and look dirty all the time even when they’re new? I hate those.

Youngish Woman: Why?

Marie Amie: Why? Because the people who wear them are all pretending to be people they’re not. They’re pretending to be all gritty and realistic like they live in some kind of postapocalyptic wasteland –

Rimi: Or maybe they ride lots of horses.

Marie Amie: -- or maybe they ride lots of horses --.

Rimi: Or maybe the same horse repeatedly.

Marie Amie: [shoots look at RIMI] Can I finish the thought? Or, um, whatever, they’re pretending to be realistic and urban, or rural, or whatever, and yet the fact that they can afford the jeans in the first place means that they live in some boring suburban place just like everybody else does. It’s totally fake, and it doesn’t even look nice, it’s just somebody somewhere found a way to convince people to buy jeans that looked worn out even when they were brand new.

Youngish Woman: So your idea of a better world is a world in which pre-grunged blue jeans don’t exist?

Marie Amie: I’d also like to see this whole low-carb diet thing go away.

Youngish Woman: And Rimi? What about you?

Rimi: I can imagine different worlds. Not necessarily better ones.

Youngish Woman: You can’t imagine a world in which, for example, you were worshipped and adored as the supreme ruler of the planet?

Rimi: Oh. Well, yes. Kind of. I guess I misunderstood the question. I thought you meant “better world” in the sense of, better for everybody, overall, not just for me specifically.

Marie Amie: A world without those crappy blue jeans would be better for everybody, overall.

Rimi: No, it’d only be better for those people who have the money to buy blue jeans.

Youngish Woman: Well, so here’s the offer. I have the power to take you out of your present world. And the question is, do you want to take me up on it or not?

Marie Amie: You have the power to kill us, and you want to know if this sounds like a good idea?

Youngish Woman: Not quite.

Marie Amie: “Nobody ever lacks a good reason for committing suicide.”

Youngish Woman: Not suicide. Not death. Just, an alternate world, if you like. A world where the rules are kind of different. You’d still exist, just not in your current universe. You might be slightly different, yourselves, depending on the decisions your alternate self had made in the past. But you wouldn’t remember ever having been anybody else, and your core self, the you of you, would be intact.

Marie Amie: And if this seems kind of pointless and stupid and we’d rather stay in our own universe?

Youngish Woman: That’s possible too. If you stay, you remember this conversation, and this place. If you don’t, you don’t. So there’s that to factor in. And this means that if one of you stayed and one of you left, the one who stayed would remember the one who’d left, even though nobody else would.

Rimi: And the down side to leaving?

Youngish Woman: There’s some nausea for the first couple hours. But, again, you’d have no memory of what you’d left, so it’d just seem like morning sickness or food poisoning or too much to drink, it wouldn’t necessarily seem anything out of the ordinary.

Rimi: What’s the point of offering this to us? Mourning or nausea – sounds pretty crappy to me.

Youngish Woman: Well, it might solve a few problems for me personally. Depending on how you decided. Which would be totally up to you. It’s mainly just about whether you think, already, that you’re living in an okay world, whether you think that it’s above the median for alternate universes or not. It’s about faith and optimism and your confidence level regarding the future, in the absence of any information about the future.

Marie Amie: Well I’m not going anywhere. I think this whole conversation is kind of crazy.

Rimi: So you’re saying that the other world might be better?

Youngish Woman: Might be better, might be worse, might be pretty much the same. Not really mine to assess.

Rimi: How different of a world are we talking?

Youngish Woman: [shrugs] However different a world could be and still adhere to the rules of natural laws. You could have more siblings, or fewer. Hitler might have won World War II. You might have been the Vehicle. The Oracle might never have happened. The U.S. might still have an agricultural economy. There might be flying cars, or people living on the moon. Could be Jeb Bush instead of George W. Could be Gore. Who can say. However many of these realities have actually happened, that’s where you’ll be.

Rimi: And when you say “actually happened,”

Youngish Woman: I mean in alternate universes. Every time you almost decide to do something and then don’t, every time you could observe something happening and don’t, an alternate universe kind of peels off of the one you’re living in and takes up independent existence somewhere.

Marie Amie: “Somewhere?”

Youngish Woman: “Somewhere” not in the sense that it occupies part of your observable world. It becomes its own observable world.

Marie Amie: Well, I made my decision. I’ll take pre-aged blue jeans, even if I hate them.

Youngish Woman: Through the door there [points to door from which she entered]. Nice to meet you.

Marie Amie: Whatever. You’re crazy, chica. I can get nauseous without any help from you, that’s for damn sure. Rimi? You coming?

Rimi: I don’t know.

Youngish Woman: Well you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. [exchanges look with Marie Amie, who then exits]

[phone starts ringing]

Rimi: Ring ring. Is this like in The Matrix, where if I pick up the phone I’ll be somewhere else? Can I be Carrie-Ann Moss?

Youngish Woman: It’s . . . unlikely. But hey, if it’s possible, it’ll be true somewhere.

Rimi: I can’t get over the idea that you’re trying to kill me.

[phone continues to ring]

Youngish Woman: [sighs] In a sense, I suppose I am. I prefer to think of it more when a grizzly bear comes down out of the woods and starts attacking all the animals penned up in a barn somewhere. The farmer calls animal control or whoever, and they show up and tranquilize the animal and then it wakes up miles away in a new place where it’s not a danger to the farm animals, and the farmer’s not a danger to it.

Rimi: So if I go back, I’m in some kind of danger? You’re like a guardian angel?

Youngish Woman: Not exactly. I can’t really explain. You can go back if you like. Marie Amie would be sad, I know, to lose you. I can’t really explain everything. I mean, I could, but I shouldn’t.

[phone continues to ring]

Rimi: Somebody should do something about that phone. Ring ring. Ring ring ring.

Youngish Woman: Go back to your own world through the door, or pick up the phone and see some other world. But I need to get going. I have things to do. [YOUNGISH WOMAN exits stage right]

Rimi: A grizzly bear, huh. Barns full of farm animals. Ring ring.

RIMI walks to the phone, picks up the receiver.

Voice on Phone: You have. A collect call. From.

Rimi (in recording): Rimi Peters.

Voice on Phone: Do you accept the charges?

Rimi: Yes.

The stage lights go way, way, way up. A number of lights, previously hidden throughout the set, also brighten and aim directly at the audience. Stagehands wearing very dark sunglasses come in and place new coverings over the couch, replace the photo of Elders with a mirror, remove the phone and lamp and replace it all with the décor from Rimi and Mandie’s apartment. The lights go back down, and are now somewhere between pink and gold.

Mandie [in bathrobe]: What a night.

Rimi: I’m going to be sick.

Mandie: What? You can’t be sick, you barely had anything. And anyway it was last night. Well, five hours ago.

Rimi: I’m telling you, I’m going to be sick.

Mandie: Well get in the bathroom, then. We’ve got to be to work in an hour. You want me to call in for you?

MANDIE exits stage left. RIMI gets up, exits stage right. MANDIE re-enters stage left, with a glass of orange juice, which she sips.

Mandie: Seriously. You want me to call in for you? Maybe you have food poisoning. I told you that new cook’s no good.

Rimi (offstage): I’ll be okay. Just give me a minute.

Mandie: You’ll feel better once you puke. Get it all out of your system.