unedited scene from the bike play

I haven’t really felt like sharing, but then I thought, fuck it, I got nothing to lose (except for my 14 views–don’t go!). 

Anyway, I was trying to think of what scene to post to round this off. There’s one where Ella is teaching Jamie how to be seductive, that one’s good. Or another that’s Joe and Jamie admiring the stars. I never thought I’d pick this one, but after reading it again, I was like, “yeah, I’m okay with this.”

Sure, there’s some formatting things I’d do — like Rob Handel and a couple others convinced me not to write (beat) anymore, so I’d take that out. I like the look of open space on the page. I wouldn’t feel the need to describe what Ella and Jamie and Joe– how they should react. Because I could leave that open. That would be better. 

But here it is, unedited, for your enjoyment. Then I’ll go onto the next thing maybe or linger around with this play, who knows.

If you want to read the whole thing though, send me a note. 

barbara dot jwan at gmail
SCENE TWELVE:

Bakersfield, California
(JAMIE and ELLA sit at a table in a cafe. A stranger wearing sunglasses, JOE, listens at the next table over. He strums a guitar.)
JAMIE

I’m saying it’s not realistic.
ELLA

What makes it not real?
JAMIE

Well, for one, everyone’s gonna know what it is.
(ELLA plays with her lighter.)
ELLA

Who’s gonna know?
JAMIE

Everyone.

ELLA

Who?
JAMIE

Everyone!
ELLA

Who?
(A beat. JAMIE gives up.)
ELLA

No one knows we’re here. Look at me. Hey!
(JAMIE looks.)
ELLA

No one knows we’re doing this. No one even follows the Tour of California.
JAMIE

People follow it.
ELLA

Who?
JAMIE

People!
ELLA

They don’t matter. And if they did, they’d be too busy watching the races anyway.
JAMIE

Stages.
ELLA

How much money you got?
JAMIE

Less than you.
ELLA

Okay, fine.
(ELLA takes out a wallet from her purse and counts how much money she has.)
JAMIE

What makes you so sure anyway?
ELLA

I got a guy.
JAMIE

A guy? What do you mean – like someone to buy this bike? What the fuck does that mean?
ELLA

Exactly. Just chill, Jamie, you’re raising your voice.
(ELLA looks over at JOE. She smiles, eye-flirting with him.)
JAMIE

You trust him?
ELLA

Who?
JAMIE

Your guy.
ELLA

Of course. He says we can sell it in TJ for 18.
JAMIE

18.
ELLA

Yep.
JAMIE

Are you fucking serious? How long you gonna keep this up?
(ELLA flicks her lighter on the table in a sort of “fuck you” motion. JAMIE sits back.)
JAMIE

You are.
ELLA 

(Whispers – leaning in)

Of course I am, Jamie. What do you think? That this is some type of joke? That I don’t know what I’m doing? Of course I know. I’m planning this whole thing, remember? You’re just along for the ride, right. Or are you in. It’s not a fucking game anymore. This is it. You gotta make some decisions.
JAMIE 

(Shaking her head)

Wow.
(ELLA looks at her cell phone.)
ELLA

You got ten minutes. I’m gonna use the toilet. Think about it. Think about whether you’re in or out.
(ELLA leaves the table. JOE watches her go; he tries to scribble something down in a notebook in front of him. His pen doesn’t work.)
JAMIE 

(Mutters to herself)

Fuck…
(JOE leans over towards JAMIE’S table.)
JOE

Got a light.

JAMIE

Huh?
(JOE points to the lighter on the table.)
JAMIE

Oh…
(JAMIE pushes ELLA’s lighter across the table. JOE lights the tip of his pen. He smiles at JAMIE then begins to write again. The pen works.)
JOE

Never seen that? 
(beat.)

If your pen’s not working but you can see it still has ink in it, you can put the tip in a flame. It’ll heat up the ink and start flowing again.
(JOE hands the lighter back to JAMIE.)
JAMIE

Oh… thanks
(JOE nods. He plucks a few chords on the guitar.)
JOE

That’s a trick that comes in handy.
(The sound of wind.)
JOE

Where you from?
JAMIE

What?
JOE

It’s like I don’t speak English or something. Where You From? Here? 
JAMIE

No.
JOE

There we go. Didn’t think so. Up north , right?
JAMIE

Yeah… That’s right.
(JOE nods.)
JOE

Ukiah?
JAMIE

Santa Rosa.
(JOE nods. He plucks a few more chords.)
JOE

Where you headed?
JAMIE

South. You always talk to strangers?
JOE

Yep. Mexico?
JAMIE

Were you listening to us just now?
JOE

Sure was.
JAMIE

I’m not sure yet. Where we’re headed.
JOE

What’s your name?
JAMIE

(Sings, experimenting with different notes)

Jamie. Jamie. Jamie.
JAMIE

What’s yours?
(beat.)

Hey, what’s yours? You gotta name? Everyone has a name. What am I supposed to do, call you Joe Schmoe?
JOE

Sure, you can call me Joe. 
(beat.)

I don’t mind. Good as any other name.

(beat.)

You know, if I were you, I’d part it out.
(JAMIE looks at him blankly.)
JOE

The bike. You’d get more money that way. Plus who’d be able to tell what it was originally?
(JAMIE goes white.)
JOE

Don’t worry. I’m not going to tell. I could care less really. You want to hear something? Hold on.
(He tunes the guitar. Plays a couple cords. He hums the melody then sings, accompanying himself on guitar.)
Let me have my memories without

    Those lavender tinted dreams curved

    Around my nighttime bed I’d be like

    Pigeons wandering the streets aimlessly

    Striving to simplify my life with wishes

    

I envy those who can make their beds

In soft feathers lining nests warmed

By carefree times gold glinting sideways

And back-alley paths near Lake Tahoe

I’d be free to lightly trace their

Silhouettes and shadows upon my eyes
Forgetful the next morning watching

Traffic wind silky paths of stars

Before the sun rises to greet me

Could my smile twinkle forest green

Solemnity and sever the bond
With an ambivalent shrug?
JAMIE

Huh.
(JOE continues to strum and hum.)
JOE

What are you afraid of?
JAMIE

What? I’m not afraid. Who said that?
JOE

People who are defensive are always afraid of something.
JAMIE

You think so?
(JOE nods, then looks at her and smiles.)
JOE

Yep.
JAMIE

Okay, so I’m scared.
JOE

Told you.
JAMIE

Why’m I telling you about it?
JOE

I don’t know. Maybe you need someone to talk to? She doesn’t seem like the confiding type…
JAMIE

Maybe…
(beat.)

Hey, what if I told you something?
JOE

I’d listen. That’s what I do.
JAMIE

(Whispers)

This girl. That girl I was just with. We’re friends, right? And she’s gonna sell- something and it could be worth a bit of money. We’ve been all around the state making videos. Posting them. We blew up. We’re this big thing now.
JOE

Sounds like fun. Like trouble.
JAMIE

It is. A whole mess of trouble. We’re not gonna wiggle out of this one. I can tell you that right now.
JOE

You think so?
JAMIE

I know so. It’s all over the internet.
JOE

Ah… the bike banditas. I’ve heard of you. 
JAMIE

Yeah? You have?
JOE

Everyone has.
JAMIE

See that’s what I’m saying. That’s the problem.
JOE

Is it?
JAMIE

Cuz we’re gonna get caught eventually.
JOE

Not if you ditch it.
JAMIE

We’ll see. That’s what Ella wants to do. I’ve wanted to all along, but she keeps holding on til the last second. I’d never tell her, but I actually kinda enjoy it. The journey that is. But at the same time, I have to be the voice of reason. Ella thinks too grandiose. Too big picture. She forgets the details. Like that this is a felony. Like that we could end up in jail. Like that 18,000 dollars is a lot of money and where do you get that kinda money outta nowhere anyway?
JOE

People make money in weird ways.
JAMIE

Tell me about it.
JOE

So what are you gonna do?
JAMIE

(Sighs)

Keep on going along for the ride, I guess. See what happens.
JOE

Even though you know what does?
(JAMIE shrugs.)
JAMIE

What else am I gonna do?
JOE

Oh, I don’t know. There’s a lot of things you could do.
(ELLA enters. She stands behind JAMIE, looking at JOE, who smiles at her.)
ELLA

Who’s this?
JAMIE

Oh, hey Ella.
(beat.)

Wouldn’t say his name.
ELLA

Why not? Is it so scary we can’t handle it?
JOE

Something like that.
ELLA

Must be a pretty terrible name… Well, I’m Ella. And you’ve already met Jamie, I see. We gotta run. Right, Jamie?
(She stares at JAMIE who returns her gaze.)
JAMIE

Uh… right.
JOE

Where you guys going?
ELLA

LA. Disneyland. Maybe Mexico.
JOE

Can I join you? Trying to get back home.
JAMIE

Where’s that?
ELLA

Yeah, sure… you can come.
(beat.)

What’d you say your name was again?
JOE

You can call me Joe.
ELLA

Okay, Joe Schmoe, should we go?
JOE

Yes, we should.

***

The Man Who Sold The World

I have song obsessions. This is one of them.

This song relates to i stole lance armstrong’s bike in that it was the impetus for the whole play. I will share that next, but first, a really long digression… 

I warned you.

Of course, I felt tremendously sad to hear the news of David Bowie. A friend put it best – and I’m paraphrasing but she said whenever there was a report of another celebrity death in the back of her mind she’d go, “Please not David Bowie.” I could relate to that.

You know, sometimes you think the stars are going to go out with a bang – and sometimes they do, but I think it’s equally as sad when the page just turns and poof, they’re gone… Like, “Bowie? Oh, yeah, he’s not here any more.” Well, that sucks. Not that things and people and places can last forever, but you know…

When I was first starting to get into collecting records, I found Ziggy Stardust in a dusty dollar bin underneath the main stacks at this record store, Streetlight, in San Jose. I didn’t know what it was or really anything about David Bowie at that point except for The Labyrinth – which is another obsession from back when I was a little kid. I listened to the album and over and over again. I guess I was in my late teens or something.

It’s funny because though this post is about song obsessions and about the beginnings of i stole lance armstrong’s bike specifically, I could actually weave this song into my other work too.

In my punk play, a character is introducing a song and says something along the lines of, “I was about to tell you that I wrote this song during a very difficult time in my life, but then, when have times ever been easy?”

That is a quintessential feeling I get from listening to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Low. And that is who David Bowie is to me. I was depressed and listening to David Bowie’s music often moved me through those feelings. 

So, yeah, this song, I’m obsessed with. I love it when Bowie sings it and I love it when Kurt Cobain sings it.

For me, song obsession is kinda like this– I’m modifying a little what the character Biz said in a play I wrote, It’s All In The Mix.

BIZ: I just thought of this song. I knew I’d have to play it at some point during the day. I mean, really, I’m probably gonna have to play this song a couple more times before I feel past it. And that’s the thing too cuz I could be playing this for weeks. Or months. Finding a way to work it into every mixtape, every time I play a club or party… Cuz if I got really obsessed with it, I’d be trying to figure out a way to work it intoeverything I do. I’d be with my friends like “(David Bowie) is the shit!” Just claiming it, I’d know that’s it. That feeling. The song. It’d be me by then. My motto for life…

The Man Who Sold The World…

Sometimes in generative writing workshops, the instructor will ask you to think of what your play sounds or tastes or smells like. Like my first playwriting teacher, Naomi Iizuka, would say this and you would free write for a while with just whatever popped. I started with a desk, a desire to write something new, an idea about a bike theft, and this song.

I played this song and it would run out so I’d play it some more. And then, I’d play another version. 

A monologue resulted, but more than that, I could see, feel, and touch the world of my play within my mind. And I knee exactly how it would feel to be in that space at that time with those people.

This monologue was first and I kept on writing around it, completely or mostly out of order. It was more or less the equivalent of a sketch when I passed it onto another teacher, Octavio Solis, who asked how I wrote it. I said that I just wrote it as it came to me. He said “what if you put it in order?” Huh! I hadn’t thought of that.

So, I did. And this monologue which was first, and was originally a letter, moved to the middle. I’ve edited and shaped it a bit along with everything else.

But the songs…

Okay, so have you seen these live versions?

I personally prefer these acoustic ones – one sung by David Bowie and the other by Kurt Cobain.

And so recently I’ve been thinking that maybe I will sing songs for people. Live. But for realsies, not just karaoke. And maybe I will do my version of this song. Of course, I would like create my own music too. Like if I made an opera it would sound like that harmonizing haunting part at the end.

 I can’t seem to find any good versions by female singers, except for this one with a theramin. So maybe I should create what I want to see and experience. I think I’d aim for more like those acoustic ones above though. And that definitely feels like the spirit of i stole lance armstrong’s bike

Oh, this one is really interesting too. Dark, kinda like a sci-fi noir film soundtrack or something. It would have really gone well with this radio show I used to have called Miz Scarlet in the Lounge with the Turntables. 

And there’s this epic on on SNL with Klaus Nomi. They used to have the whole version up, but this one with the intro and frame will have to do.

So now, the monologue from i stole lance armstrong’s bike.

I don’t know why this song illicited this monologue, but it did, so I’m going with it. Even though now the song reminds me more about this recent writing than it does angst. Says on wikipedia that the song was alluding to multiple identies, but I thought it was just a memory of a person from another lifetime. 

But isn’t this interesting?

“I guess I wrote it because there was a part of myself that I was looking for. Maybe now that I feel more comfortable with the way that I live my life and my mental state (laughs) and my spiritual state whatever, maybe I feel there’s some kind of unity now. That song for me always exemplified kind of how you feel when you’re young, when you know that there’s a piece of yourself that you haven’t really put together yet. You have this great searching, this great need to find out who you really are.” — David Bowie

This monologue is towards the middle. They’ve met this busker they call Joe Schmoe. And there’s this sort of power/attraction triangle going on. Like I said, originally this was a letter she sent to another character who was never in the play. So I played with it more in the editing process.
JAMIE:

I can’t take the despair anymore. It’s too much and it’s enveloping me like a snake. I can feel it coiling around my body my stomach and my throat and I have nowhere else to turn. How else to get out of this 4 by 4 space with her there judging every move every thought every action turns into something I regret. How do I get out of this place?  

We’re in the desert now making our way back to civilization and time seems to be speeding up infinitesimally exponentially. It’s growing without end. I see no end in sight. She looks at me waiting for me to break. I look back defying that will. I will not break, you see. That’s something she doesn’t see. 

I could never understand what she wanted with it. Why travel this far. Why not ditch it? At anytime we could and she holds onto it. Holds it over me. I can’t take it anymore. She’s getting to me. I’m starting to think that maybe I’m crazy or that maybe she is. I’m not sure which one of us is right. So maybe it means we both aren’t.

Behold me, Ella. I am the carrier of the wind of change. I will be here and propel myself in front of the car Ella drives with Lance Armstrong’s bike in the back seat tire sticking out the window. I am the change that she didn’t see coming. I will force my way out of this trap. This cage. This prison. She doesn’t realize what a power she’s messing with. But I know. You know, you’ve seen it. And could vouch for me if I needed you to, right?

I’m open. At your beckon call. Without you I’d go blind.

*****

the bike play

There’s this play I wrote about two girls that steal Lance Armstrong’s bike while he’s doing the Tour of California. Just a crime of opportunity, you know. So they go on this road trip to get rid of it, but end up being in over their heads. They post about it online and become internet-famous. It becomes a meme. A hashtag. An event. It gets really big and more than they can handle. Things escalate – you know how it goes.

This is a play that I send out a lot as a sort of “here’s what I write” thing. It was written in such a weird way – different than I had done in the past, but I felt good when it was done. I mean, not that I think it’s done done. I gotta hear it again. I’d love to see it, but, you know, that takes commitment from a theater company or something. I suppose I could do it myself… Hmm…

Anyway, so I’m going to share a couple of pieces of it over the next couple of posts. Feel free to enjoy.

This is about midway through the play. They are now starting to steal cars to cover up their tracks. I played with the formatting a bit from how it is in the script. I want to see how it reads.

 

SCENE TWELVE: jamie’s secret blog

JAMIE updates her blog while simultaneously remembering a part of the journey. The two are driving down Highway 5, California. The screen is a blurry California landscape from a car window. ELLA drives the car. JAMIE leans her head against the window. Silence.

 

JAMIE

Ella drives fast. I don’t, but she does.

She likes the flow.

I get nervous, I put my foot on the gas, I drive fast, my heart beats fast. She drives fast, her heart rate slows down. To a pulse.

Thump…

Thump…

Thump…

Like it’s sounding its last beat.

The one thrill it has left isn’t a thrill at  all. It’s soothing to her, the flow of traffic.

She bobs in and out of cars, I grip the edge of my seat, the Jesus handle, anything I can latch onto, I hold on for dear life like that’s the only thing I can do. The only thing I’m supposed to do. Fight for my life. A new one.

When Ella’s like this I wonder how much longer before the other shoe drops. I used to relax too – go with the flow – but I can’t anymore.

I can’t.

I see everything.

I see how close we come to dying every time she passes another car.

I grip the seat.

There’s nothing else I can do, you see?

Nothing.