By Josh Weckesser
The first act of Josh Weckesser's untitled autobiography deals extensively with "Magic Night" - when Josh and his friends, including Todd, would gather at a place called Adventureland in downtown Bloomington, to play the collectable card game Magic: The Gathering. Todd is unsatisfied with how Josh the Narrator has described it, and tries to convey the signifigance of the experience to the audience.
[To Josh the Narrator.] You still should have told them about the memory, it's worth remembering. That's the whole point of the memory play, really, is that whatever your remembering is worth remembering. Why do it half way? You might not do it at all if you're going to do it like that.
[To the Audience.] Let me tell you a little something about Magic night. Magic night was something that happened for two years. Actually, it wasn't even two years, but time went so slowly then, especially compared to now, it could have been a lifetime. Magic night took place in Adventure Land, which was in downtown Bloomington. Allow me to digress for a moment and tell you a little something about downtown Bloomington. Downtown Bloomington was one of those old downtown areas which were built in the 20's and the buildings are pushed right up against each other and the second story is rented out for apartments. It's the only area in town that has what I'd call a "Chicago feel" to it. The sidewalks go right up to the buildings, the streets seem narrower and there are real alleys there. Downtown Bloomington used to be a really upbeat part of the town, like five decades ago. However that area of the town reached its peak and came crashing down long before anyone I know was born. It's mostly bars now. Have any of you heard of State Farm Insurance? You know, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." I thought so. State Farm's first office was in downtown Bloomington. They ended up buying the whole building. They still own it, but I think it's used for storing old papers or something; they do real work at other places that aren't downtown. There's also this theater there, a movie theater, one of those street front theaters that don't exist anymore. It's beautiful. It has one of those tall neon towers that would light up at night and make shadows dance on the buildings for blocks. It would be beautiful, that is, if half of the neon lights hadn't been shattered over the years. It's just an empty building now, abandoned with boards over the broken windows and cigarette butts collecting in the entryway. It's just a rotting corpse in the middle of the town and I'm sure before it sees another decade it'll be condemned and torn down. Three blocks away from this theater sat Adventure Land between a hobby shop and a used bookstore. It was a decaying building in a row of decaying buildings that would have looked just as bad, if not worse, than the theater save for the fact that people still occupied them. The people that owned the shop didn't pull in enough money to stop the effects of time so they simply learned to adapt. There was paint chipping off the ceiling upstairs and an old pop machine that would still give you soda for fifty cents. The basement was poorly ventilated so it was always stuffy on Magic nights. There was mold growing, I know, I'm allergic. So we'd get a ride from our parents to this crappy place in town, eat at Wendy's a block away then spend all of our lunch money on Magic cards and play the night away. Being in junior high we were the youngest people there and, for the most part, we were accepted as one of them. There were people up to the age of fifty and everyone got along. The game was the great equalizer.
[To Josh the Narrator.] The mechanics of the game, or too many specific stories aren't necessary. What is necessary about the Magic night memory, Josh, is that there was some true brotherhood there, something special. Peace on earth and good will towards man bullshit. Why would we still remember and talk about it and care after all these years if it wasn't worth it? Hell, I never even noticed that theater until years after Magic night got disbanded.
In Act II, Todd gets metaphysical.
In accepting I'm a memory, a figment of your imagination, I'm able to do things that the others are not able to do. Go where the others are not able to go. That's really the secret to life in all situations, real or imagined. If you're honest with yourself, if you can honestly define your limitations chances are you'll be able to find honest ways around them. In Nicole's situation, she is still unable to believe this will all end when you cease to think of us. She still believes she's chasing me, I'm sure. I'm also sure she won't be able to find me.
I know what moves within young men's hearts: Confusion. Look at yourself for example. You know you liked her then, you're sure of that. But, thinking back, you can't understand why. You know what all of your friends said, and, looking back, you realize they were right. But, at the time, you thought they couldn't be more wrong. You know better now, but you didn't know better then. You were confused then, and you're confused now. I mean, it's not like I'm saying it's only young men. Young women, too. And old men and women. All people. All people are confused. It's just that when we get older we're more able to deal with it, able to put words to it, mask our confusion from the world, even from ourselves.
These monologues are from the full-length play Untitled Autobiography by Josh Weckesser. If you would like to read the entire play, you can order and download an electronic (PDF) copy of the script for $7.00.
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