copyright © 2002 Arlen Lawson

The Lunatic Club

By Arlen Lawson


There is a chair in front of a table.  On the table are a magazine and large wire cutters.  Loony wears a top hat.  Lights up



   We formed a lunatic club, which is the club for people whose brains got broke, called it “Loony Club.”  Because we were both losing our minds, thus total loonies.  See?  It makes sense.  I was vice president in charge of everything and you… well, you wanted no part in politics.  You thought politics was stupid and vulgar.  Fact is, you wouldn’t even consider being in the same club as a politician and threatened to leave.  So I resigned and dedicated my life to building inventions and baking things in the oven.  For you.

   The whole modern world loves a baker.  A fat, friendly baker.  He wears a hat.  He bakes things. (shrug) I baked once.  I baked with you.  I was fat and you were friendly.  And we baked and the whole modern world loved us for it.  But we did not love the whole modern world.  How could we?  We hated the whole modern world for living their entire precious lives never knowing what it was like to be us, in there in the kitchen, hot stove and whatnot, baking and baking for their love.

   I haven’t always used metaphors so skillfully.

   One day I was wearing a suit for going to church in, a dark blue suit, very nice, shouldn’t technically have been walking in the dirt with it, but went there anyway.  And in the bushes a magazine glowed, thrown there, polluted.  It existed as a magazine with pictures inside of naked men holding human organs in bizarre ways, men doing awful things to brains with eyeballs aimed to stare out of the page.  I stared at the brains, at the eyes, at the ugly folds and coils.  I thought about ladybugs and butterflies and how these are some of the ugliest creatures you’ll ever see, once you get past their wings.

Place script in magazine

   My suit got dirty with mud like clay and that magazine became the constitution of our lunatic club, and in it we scrawled our histories in bright green lipstick.

Place foot on chair. Remove red lipstick from pocket.  Begin to pull up pant leg.

   In your youth of drugged-up hippy mother, a plate was broken and that was your fault.  You weren’t saying that you didn’t break the plate, but a little boy fell onto it and opened his knee in an awful spray and gaping tear (mark knee with lipstick), carving halfway down his knee, like he’d been in a kindergarten knife fight, and everybody screaming because the boy is five and fragile and tripped and will be scarred for the rest of his life and, “Cathy, why didn’t you sweep that up?  Look what you’ve done!”  And you screaming, “I’m sorry,” eight years old and yoked with guilt before this gory, screaming cherub.

   And late that night, when he’s back from the hospital, stitched with black thread, you sneak into his room and apologize.  “I’m sorry I didn’t sweep up the plate,” you say.  You take all the blame, even though everything you did was to drop a plate with eight-year-old hands, all you did was allow yourself to be swept out of the kitchen by a repeat, repeat doped up mother who, later, would forget that she forbade you to be in there until she’d swept up herself, purposefully forgotten that it was her responsibility, not yours, to avoid being a stupid, negligent mother.  Instead she opts to scar you for life and you cry to your half-asleep little brother, “I’m sorry I cut your knee,” and he glares at you, because it is your fault, then rolls over to go back to sleep.

   In the other version of this story, he accepts your apology and you hug and you grow up healthy, because the neighbors don’t in less than a year call social services to have you and your brother saved from your doped up, negligent mother.

Pick up wire cutters.

   There’s a chill in the air last night, in the dark night, mom.  There’s a line that leads to the bicycle I am dismantling last night. The line is made of lighter fluid and I am dismantling the bike because my brain got broke, but right now last night it is still very dark, mom.

 Put down wire cutters.

   All children dream of flight and this is true and maybe you still do, but none so vividly as those who build their surrogate families by the models of Peter Pan and Dumbo.  The whole modern world loves an orphan.  And that’s you and me, sitting in opposite corners of a living room like an ashtray, wetting our pants with squirt guns full of our own urine, orphans and dreaming hard of flying.

   Loony Club needs a car, I say, and because I am an inventor I can build one.  I look up how a train works (draw with lipstick in magazine) and draw up the schematics for an engine and wheels and pistons to be made from pots and pans and pieces of an abandoned half-formed tree house, and a bucket filled with water, and PVC pipes, and bicycle parts, and cetera.

   I never built that car though.  It was just this crazy idea I had.

Look at schematics. Pause.

   Alright, I built it!  And it was absolutely gorgeous and soared hard and gliding and beautiful straight into a stoplight intersection because I never once thought about brakes.  And the car broke from the minivan in its side and you broke from the fall we took and your teeth cracked wide and dangling, and your splintered dangling teeth caught beautifully the moonlight, caught tragically the moonlight, were dazzling in the moonlight, your skull opened to the moonlight.

   And I saw the brain beneath your butterfly and the tiny shards of a broken plate that laced it through like egg shells in ground beef.  And, baby, your kind of love drives a man very insane, but your dying words are poignant here, in that “You asked for it and you asked for it and you asked for it.”

Pick up wire cutters.

   I am last night taking hedge clippers to tire spokes and they snap clip.  One day I will have my nose surgically replaced with your nose and will be every bit the mouth breather you are.  I don’t trust anybody whose brain, under the weight of the whole modern world, has not broken.

   Taking my bicycle apart is a chore, so I will have to burn it.

   In the other version of this story, I am a crazy magician (sit in chair.  Hold wire cutters like steering apparatus.) and the car is a magic rocket ship and we go sailing on a blaze of jet propulsion until we glow behind the night clouds and are never seen again.


Lights down


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