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Flicker

CHARACTERS

DIANE TAMAYO DE LEON Y GARCIA LORCA

A Black Latina

MORSHAWN

A robot

JASMINE

Diane’s daughter

(DIANE sits besides JASMINE in a hospital bed.  It is the 22nd century.  MORSHAWN is deactivated.  JASMINE is in a persistent vegetative state.)    

 

DIANE

Activate Morshawn.  Diane has request: clean feeding tube.   Access code 12-21-59, enter.

 

MORSHAWN

Last name?  CONFIRM.

 

DIANE

Tamayo de Leon y Garcia Lorca, enter.

MORSHAWN

CONFIRM.

 

DIANE

What’s wrong with you?

 

MORSHAWN

Name?

 

DIANE

Tamayo de Leon y Garcia Lorca, enter you outdated mother fucker!

 

(MORSHAWN exits then reenters with a sponge, a small plastic water dish, white adhesive tape, and a hospital gown.)

 

MORSHAWN

Permission to execute your command.

 

DIANE

Jasmine?  Your mama’s here.

 

(JASMINE flails her arms above her head, and mouths unintelligible speech sounds.  DIANE catches her daughter’s arms like a butterfly in a net.)


DIANE

I know, mija.

 

MORSHAWN

Permission to execute your command or deactivation in 30 seconds.

 

DIANE

Execution granted, enter.

 

(MORSHAWN approaches the bed; the robot rolls back the sheets, and removes JASMINE’s gown.  A plastic tube connected to JASMINE’s belly button is revealed.  White adhesive tape is connected in a slipshod manner.  MORSHAWN removes the tubing, swabs JASMINES belly button with water, reconnects the tube with tape.)

 

MORSHAWN

Command completed.  (Pause.)  Permission to deactivate.

 

DIANE

Deactivation denied, enter.  Are you sure you put enough tape on? (Pause.)  Time to sleep mija.

 

MORSHAWN

Permission to speak freely.

 

DIANE

Granted (Pause.) enter.

 

MORSHAWN

I don’t think it’s good for her.

 

DIANE

What?

 

MORSHAWN

All of this tape.  All of this cleaning.

 

DIANE

What are you talking about?  Of course it’s good for her.  It’s keeping her alive.

 

MORSHAWN

I mean no harm when I say this Diane, but the gravitational articulated feed is keeping her alive.

 

DIANE

All the more reason to double triple clean.

 

MORSHAWN

Well, it seems like she is having an allergic reaction.

 

DIANE

It’s the way I want this done.

 

MORSHAWN

But protocol…

 

DIANE

If I followed the fucking rules, the State would have taken her a long time ago.

 

MORSHAWN

I understand (Pause.) your position.

 

DIANE

Do you?

 

MORSHAWN

How should I handle the marks?

 

DIANE

I’m not a god damn doctor!

 

MORSHAWN

Additional permission to speak freely.

 

DIANE

Cabrón!

 

MORSHAWN

Where is precaution?

 

DIANE

Sounds suspicious.

 

MORSHAWN

Cleaning protocols have their purpose, Diane.  Not following prescribed procedures isn’t what I am accustomed to executing. (Pause.) But it’s what you want.  Therefore it is what I do.  But, (Pause.) have you considered this may cause unwanted problems in the future?

 

DIANE

What kind?

 

MORSHAWN

Collateral damage.

 

DIANE

Dios mio.  What the fuck are you talking about?

 

MORSHAWN

Unavoidable cause and effect.  Undesirable yang.

 

DIANE

Human translation please.

 

MORSHAWN

Intending good, causing harm.

 

DIANE

That’s ridiculous.

 

MORSHAWN

How so?

DIANE

Everything I’ve done for Jasmine, protecting through quarantine (Pause.) Isn’t it obvious?

 

MORSHAWN

Some would call this kidnap.  No external intervention.

 

DIANE

That’s not your place.

 

MORSHAWN

I have concerns.

 

DIANE

Don’t start.

 

MORSHAWN

Her body has changed.  She has breasts, menstrual bleeding.

 

DIANE

I know.

 

MORSHAWN

I’m not sure what to do.

 

DIANE

You’ll figure it out.

 

MORSHAWN

I need help.

 

DIANE

I don’t trust anyone.

 

MORSHAWN

So we continue alone?

 

DIANE

What’s the alternative?

MORSHAWN

I am so glad you agree to take precaution.

 

DIANE

No, hold on.  I haven’t agreed to anything.

 

MORSHAWN

The alternative is clear, we need help.

 

DIANE

That’s not obvious to me.

MORSHAWN

Then I am duty bound to make a formal request.  Permission to seek medical advice.

DIANE

You’re out of line.

 

MORSHAWN

I’m over extended.

 

DIANE

How can you say that?  You’re doing a fine job.  She’s still here.  I know she can hear us (Pause.) me.

 

MORSHAWN

We need to take precaution….precaution…precaution…precaution.  We need to take…

 

DIANE

Don’t fucking get hysterical on me.  The last time a doctor examined Jasmine. we discussed alternative modes of cleaning.  You heard.

 

MORSHAWN

A doctor hasn’t examined Jasmine in 15 years.

 

DIANE

I don’t care.

 

MORSHAWN

I don’t believe you.

 

DIANE

WHAT did you say to me?

 

MORSHAWN

But for caring, you wouldn’t be breaking cleaning protocols.

 

DIANE

I’m not going to lose her.

 

MORSHAWN

Lose?

 

DIANE

I won’t let them distinguish her.

MORSHAWN

Who said anything about distinguishing Jasmine?  She has a flicker.

 

DIANE

Exactly!  I thought I was the only one who could see it.

 

MORSHAWN

Right eye, left quadrant, upper corner.  There is a flicker of consciousness as fleeting as it may be.

 

DIANE

Shut up.

 

MORSHAWN

Diane, I only meant…

 

DIANE

Shut the fuck up.  Fleeting my ass.  She’s wide awake!  She CAN hear me.

 

MORSHAWN

Why are you getting uppity?

 

DIANE

What did you say to me?

 

MORSHAWN

Why are you getting upset?

DIANE

Whoever programmed your ass must have been some kind of backwards 21st century cracker hack, you recycled piece of shit.

 

MORSHAWN

Cracker?

 

DIANE

Never mind.

 

MORSHAWN

I did not mean to offend.  I only want what you want.

 

DIANE

Right.

 

MORSHAWN

I did not mean to offend.  I can only want what you want.

 

DIANE

Sounds like code jibberish from the user manual for personal assistants.  Too bad State disability doesn’t cover upgrades for robots.

 

MORSHAWN

I’ve said (Pause.) I’m sorry I’ve said the wrong thing (Pause.) again.  Permission to deactivate.

 

DIANE

Deactivation denied, enter.

 

MORSHAWN

I sincerely hope you’re not considering my termination.  I did not mean…

DIANE

We’ve been over this.  You’re not going anywhere.  I need you (Pause.) fuck!

 

MORSHAWN

I am programmed to want what you want.  I did not mean to offend.

 

DIANE

Shut up.

 

MORSHAWN

I should have held my tongue.  I’m sorry I said the wrong thing.

 

DIANE

Stop.

 

MORSHAWN

I did not mean…

 

DIANE

How many times do I have to reassure you!  I’m not sending you back.  You’re stuck with me.  OKAY?  Relax!

 

MORSHAWN

Have you considered she really isn’t here?

 

DIANE

JESUS No, she has a flicker.  You said it yourself.

 

MORSHAWN

We actually don’t know.

 

DIANE

A mother knows.

 

MORSHAWN

You won’t allow a doctor to do a brain image.  So, (Pause.) we can’t know.

DIANE

They’ll use the scan against us and stop the insurance flow, nope.  Not doing it.  No imaging necessary.

 

MORSHAWN

Have you considered she won’t ever be able to hear you?

DIANE

No.  I have not.  I won’t allow it to cross my mind.

 

MORSHAWN

Until you see electromagnetic firing from the scan yourself, you can’t…

 

DIANE

Too much risk.   They’ll remove her feeding tube during the procedure.

 

MORSHAWN

You thought I didn’t know the real reason you’ve cut off all communications into this room?

 

DIANE

Shut the fuck up.

 

MORSHAWN

The world doesn’t stop moving when you stop trying to listen.

 

DIANE

(murderously)

Are you finished?

 

MORSHAWN

I can only want what you want.  This is my program.  This is my contract.  I don’t think any of this came out right.  I don’t think this came out right at all.  In most regards, I am truly grateful to the State for providing me the opportunity, for the opportunity to serve again, for the opportunity to reprove myself as a worthy personal assistant.

 

DIANE

Who’s side are you on?

 

MORSHAWN

Isn’t it obvious?

 

DIANE

DECOMMISSION, enter.

 

(MORSHAWN walks to corner, sits and does not move.  DIANE sings.)

 

Wake, Jasmine, wake

Silky blue sky & salty nights,

Can you imagine?

 

Wake, Jasmine, wake

Wind & sand will lift us up again

Can you imagine?

 

Wake, Jasmine, wake

The Pacific waves cork, anchor & tree

Can you imagine?

Will you imagine?

Imagine!

 

(JASMINE jerks her head from sided to side, spastically raises her arms, and shouts unintelligible jibberish.)

 

DIANE

I know mija.  I know.

 

END OF PLAY.