Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Manhunt for J. Alfred Prufrock

So, this is a silly little thing that I wrote a while back. It's definitely something of a niche piece, but I'm still rather pleased with it. The only place I can think would ever be interested in it would be something like McSweeny's, but sadly they turned it down. So, why not publish it on the blarg?

Anyway, it won't make much sense if you've never read "The Love Song For J. Alfred Prufrock," by T.S. Eliot, so go take a look at that, then come back here, won't you?

The Manhunt for J. Alfred Prufrock

by Tony Forbes

(Anchors Rachael Spacenews and Kent Baywatch sit at their news desk.)

Kent: The search for suspected murderer J. Alfred Prufrock is into its third week.  While St. Louis is worried, the police are confident that they will eventually get their man.  

Rachael:  But who is that man?  Who is J. Alfred Prufrock?  Our Mark Firedance asked that question, and here is his report.


Mark:  Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky, like a patient etherized upon a table; let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, the muttering retreats of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels and sawdust restaurants with oyster shells: streets that follow like a tedious argument of insidious intent to lead you to an overwhelming question… “Who is J. Alfred Prufrock”?  We ask those who know him best.

(MA PRUFROCK, ZACK, and JENNI cluster on-stage)

Mark: His mother—

Ma: I have known his eyes already, known them all—the eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, and when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, when I am pinned and wriggling on the wall… then how should I begin?

Mark: His sister—

Jenni:  He’s no prophet—and here’s no great matter—he has seen the moment of his greatness flicker.

Mark: His best friend—

Zack: No!  He was not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be.  He was an attendant lord, one that would do to swell a progress, start a scene or two.

Ma: He wore a morning coat, his collar mounting firmly to the chin…

Jenni: He grew old, he grew old… he wore the bottoms of his trousers rolled…

Zack:  He was deferential, glad to be of use, politic, cautious, and meticulous…

Ma:  His ties were rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin…

Jenni: He used to wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach…

Zach: Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse…

Ma: How his arms and legs were thin!

Jenni: He heard the mermaids singing, each to each…

Zach: At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—almost, at times, the Fool.

Jenni:  I do not think they sang to him. (exeunt INTERVIEWEES)

Mark: In this room, the women come and go, talking of—

(focus back on ANCHORS)

Kent: We interrupt this report to bring you breaking news: police say they have cornered Prufrock in an abandoned warehouse off I-47.  We have a reporter on the scene and so we now go live to Cindi Parabola.  Cindi? 

(CINDI enters)

Cindi:  I’m here, Kent.

Rachael: Cindi, do the police, after tea and cakes and ices, have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

Cindi: That remains to be seen.  We think Prufrock is trapped in the warehouse, preparing a face to meet the faces he will meet. I can tell you that the police are being quite cautious, as you can imagine; we spoke to Chief Benson earlier, and he said, and I quote: “there will be time to murder and create, and time for all the works and days of hands that lift and drop a question on your plate.”  He then added: “In a minute, there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”  Wait—I think something is happening… they’re… yes!  They have him!  They’ve captured Prufrock!

(COPS drag PRUFROCK, kicking and screaming, past the “camera”)

Prufrock: I should have been a pair of silent claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas!

Cindi:  We’ll follow up and get you another update when we have more information. Back to you in the studio.

Kent: Thank you, Cindi.

Rachael: Coming up next: We have lingered in the chambers of the sea by sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown, ‘till human voices wake us, and we drown.  But is it safe? The answer may surprise you!


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