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Mountain Top

mount-olympus.jpgMy second script for Chicken Hat weekend. My prompts last night were Oscar Wilde, A Clown's Nose, and Olympus (the actual mountain, not the home of the gods) and I was writing for 2 men, plus a walk on by Kaylee Matuszak.

I had several false starts on this one, including a funny but ultimately unsustainable scene of 19th century authors downhill skiing, but finally focused on the parenthetical note about Olympus as my jump off point. It was, of course, my son, Simon, who threw that prompt in there. It is another of my more philosophical pieces returning to a common theme in my writing - the true believer meets the skeptic. Enjoy.

Don't read further if you don't want any spoilers.

WHO: Oscar Wilde
WHAT: A Clown’s Nose
WHERE: Olympus (the actual mountain, not the home of the gods)
CAST: 2 Men
WALK ON: Kaylee Matuszak

SHERPA – Kaylee Matuszak


HIKER – Come, my trusty sherpa, it cannot be far to the peak. There, at the peak of Mount Olympus, we will find all the secrets of the ancient gods!

SHERPA - Yeah, well, the peak is right over there. I’ll let you go on your own.

HIKER - But, trusty sherpa, don’t you wish to learn ancient wisdom and stand in the place of the ancient gods?

SHERPA - Sure, but this is only a walk on role and my dad tells me I’m only supposed to have one or two lines of dialog, and since I’ve already established place and character, I think I’ve done more than my fair share. I’ll let you carry the rest of the scene on your own.

HIKER - Your words are strange, trusty sherpa, but I will do as you wish! Wait here and I will return. (turns) Behold! There is the peak! And, lo! A solitary figure sits upon the peak! Could this be an emissary of the gods? Could it be a god himself? Do I dare speak to him? I will chance it. (Goes over to figure.) Pardon me, I have traveled far to seek enlightenment on the mountain.

GURU – Really? That’s great! Because we haven’t had power here for weeks and I was hoping to catch up on American Idol.

HIKER – What?

GURU – You said you were from the light and power company, yeah?

HIKER – No. I’m a seeker of enlightenment! The whole truth!

GURU – You say you got a hole in your tooth? You’ll want a dentist, then. Can’t help you there.

HIKER – No! You misunderstand me, old man! I come to the top of this mountain to find wisdom!

GURU stares at HIKER.

HIKER – I have traveled a long way. Far I have traveled. And long. Very steep climb. Took me many days with my trusted sherpa. Long and far. So… here I am.

GURU – Yep. There you are.

HIKER – Look, can you help me?

GURU – I can try, but I’ve never really studied dentistry…

HIKER – No! With my quest… you know…

GURU – Quest? What quest?

HIKER – My quest! For wisdom! Truth! Ultimate knowledge! The secret of the gods!

GURU – So what’s the question?

HIKER – Well, uh… um… who are you?

GURU – Would you believe that I am almighty Zeus, god of thunder?

HIKER – O almighty Zeus! Forgive my insolence as a mere mortal…

GURU – (laughs) Nah, I’m just yanking your chain. The name’s Percy. What’s your name?

HIKER – Er, Bill, actually. Um, so, what are you doing on the top of Mount Olympus?

GURU – Comparative literature.

HIKER – Comparative literature?

GURU – Yeah, after you see a dentist, you should probably get your hearing checked, too.

HIKER – What?

GURU – (louder) After you see a dentist! You should probably…!

HIKER – No, comparing literature to… what?

GURU – Nature. I’m a professor of 19th century literature, you see. I studied all the great writers of the period. Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde, the Bronte sisters. And I specialized in the transcendentalists – Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau. They marveled at nature, idealized it, worshiped it, almost, you could say.

HIKER – And what great wisdom have you found, o wise man?

GURU – Nature sucks.

HIKER – What?

GURU – Those guys had no idea what they were talking about. They needed to get out more. There’s no wisdom to be found here. It’s just a pile of rocks.

HIKER – Ah! Aha! But isn’t the knowledge that there is no wisdom to be gained by being here in fact in itself a kind of wisdom?!

GURU reaches out and tweaks HIKER’s nose hard.

HIKER – Owww! (holding his nose) What did you do that for?

GURU – I wanted to see if it hurt.

HIKER – Of course it hurt! Why wouldn’t it hurt?

GURU – It didn’t hurt me. My nose is perfectly fine.

HIKER – It wasn’t your nose that got twisted!

GURU – Oh, you’re right. I guess I didn’t really learn anything from it at all, did I? Not directly. Not unless I take your word for it.

HIKER – Take my word for it. It hurt.

GURU – If it were the other way around, would you be willing to take my word for it? That my nose hurt?

HIKER – Sure. Why not? It’s pretty obvious.

GURU – So, why are you here, Bill?

HIKER – I told you. To seek wisdom.

GURU – Why climb all the way up here for that if you are willing to take my word for it? Why aren’t you comfortably reading a book in some armchair somewhere?

HIKER – Because that’s not the same as…

GURU – Actually experiencing it? (shrugs) Then why ask me or anyone anything?

HIKER – (blinks) Oh. (looks around him, as if for the first time) It’s a nice view.

GURU – You think so?

HIKER – Can we start this whole thing over again?

GURU – I don’t see why not.

HIKER – (offers hand) Hi, I’m Bill.

GURU – (shakes hand) Hi, I’m Percy.

HIKER – Hi, Percy. (sits) Nice pile of rocks you got here.

GURU – It is what it is.


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