A ten minute monologue, presented by Clubbed Thumb in the Take Five Festival, 2007.
Produced in the East Village Chronicles at the Metropolitan Playhouse, 2012.
I’ve written a lot about tennis. This was the first piece, loosely inspired by the NYC blackout of August 2003.
A man dressed in tennis whites, sweaty, and sooty.
I have this problem wherein I lean back too far on my tennis serve, corkscrewing my back like so, then coming up and over to meet the ball. This is a cross I bear, the burden of a middle-class Manhattan childhood. Had I grown up wealthy, uptown, say, or in Greenwich CT, I would’ve been given lessons, and wouldn’t have such screwy strokes.
It’s a steamy afternoon in mid-August, and I’m on court 3, smacking away with Tennis Leland, up 3-1 in the second set, when suddenly I hear a loud crack, followed by a pile of sirens. Here we go again, I think, another 9-11, this time I hope I’m not out of cold cuts.
I win the point. Leland, that chicken, lets the ball pass him by, his eyes locked on an enormous white horse that is galloping north on the FDR Drive. I don’t see what the big deal is as firstly the steed is obeying traffic laws, and secondly the Lower East Side, in my time, has known much stranger phenomena, but Leland is done. He drops his racquet and walks off the court over to the water fountain, where he is promptly swallowed up by a fissure in the earth.
I look around for another opponent. Slim pickings. Tennis Michael, the homeless knitter, is on Court 6 with that raggedy old letch, Stanley. On Court 8, Tennis Kathy and Postman John are up to their old tricks. On Court 12, Tennis Steve is stretching, but I know better than to hit with him.
My cell phone rings. It’s Ariel, the love of my life.
-I’m on the bus, she says.
-New Jersey Transit?
– Isn’t the funeral at 5?
-There’s a fire breathing horse galloping down 9th Avenue. He’s set the sidewalks aflame.
-Is he blocking traffic?
-Stay towards the back of the bus.