The Ear was first performed in June 2003 as part of Car Stories 2003 (Optative Theatrical Laboratories) with the following cast:
Leotard: Matt Jones
Heath: Ethan Cox
Written by Matt Jones
Directed by George Mougias
[Nathan Scofield (driver) and Leotard (passenger) sit in front seat of a car. The lights are out and the windshield darkened, so little light is able to get in]
Leotard: They should have moved.
Nathan: Of course they should have moved, they saw me clearly.
Leotard: You think it’s worth going back?
Nathan: Back? Why?
Leotard: We don’t have to. Just to see if everyone is okay.
Nathan: Of course they’re okay, I wasn’t going fast.
Leotard: No, but just to make sure.
Nathan: Why? Who cares? I thought you said they deserved it.
Leotard: I said they needed to be taught a lesson.
Nathan: That’s what I did.
Leotard: You certainly drove the point home.
Nathan: Out. [opens Leotard’s door. From here on the interior light remains on]
Leotard: Hey, don’t freak out. I support you.
Nathan: Just get out and check the damage, will you.
[Leotard gets out, walks to front of car. Nathan pulls out a newspaper, flips through and reads aloud]
Hm. “Fringe™ Festival 2003: brought to you by McDonnel-Douglas™ weapons incorporated.” [pause] Hm. “In addition to a $900 donation, McDonnel-Douglas™ will be helping set up a new paramilitary wing of the Fringe™, which is to fly leading alternative theater groups into warzones to improve troop morale.” [pause] Hm. That’s brilliant. The new program opens next week when the entire cast of Job: The Musical are to be parachuted into the Baghdad Presidential Palace for a special performance.” Hm. Seems there’s a lot of money to be made in alternative theater these days.
[Leotard comes back wiping his hand]
Leotard: There’s a lot of blood, Nathan.
Nathan: Are you sure it’s blood?
Leotard: Nathan, I think I saw an ear on the ground.
Nathan: What do you mean, an ear?
Leotard: There’s a fucking ear sitting on the ground in front of the car.
Nathan: How can there be an ear on the ground? Ears don’t just fall off when you hit people.
Leotard: Maybe it got stuck on something. I don’t know.
Nathan: There’s no ear on the ground. It’s probably a leaf.
Leotard: It’s an ear, Nathan, go take a look if you don’t believe me.
Nathan: Whatever. Even if it was an ear I wouldn’t bother. You should relax. Turn on the radio.
[Leotard turns on radio, flicks through stations, turns it off]
Leotard: You know, ever since I’ve had this job I keep dreaming about bugs.
Nathan: You must be losing it.
Leotard: You ever do that? Dream about bugs? Like, in your dream you’ll be talking to someone, having a normal conversation, but there’s this horrible feeling of bugs crawling in your ear.
Leotard: Last night there was an eel. An eel in my bed. Other people have bedbugs I have an eel slithering around trying to bite me. I had to sleep in the living room I was so afraid.
Nathan: Leotard, what are you talking about? Blood, bugs, ears! You sound like a fucking lunatic. Loosen up, will you? We’ve got a job to do.
Leotard: When’s Heath getting here?
Nathan: Soon. He has to finish with the records.
Leotard: What exactly is it Heath does?
Nathan: Heath does the records, everyone knows that.
Leotard: Just seems strange, that’s all. [Leotard starts scratching himself]
Nathan: Everyone has records, what’s strange about that?
Leotard: What I mean is, why does he always carry a gun?
Nathan: Because, Leotard. It’s his thing.
Leotard: What does it have to do with records though?
Nathan: [upset] What does anything have to do with anything at all? Jesus.
Leotard: [beat] I just think it’s creepy. [scratching himself]
Nathan: Well get used to it.
[knock on window. Leotard unrolls it. Heath sticks his head in]
Heath: Hey boys, [points his gun at everyone. He does this sporadically throughout the scene] Bang! You’re all dead. Ha ha ha. Now. How you boys making out tonight, good? I see you caught yourselves a nice piece of ear on the front left side.
Leotard: There’s no ear on the ground. It’s probably a leaf.
Heath: Whatever. Scofield, what’s the count at today?
Nathan: I counted three certainties. A couple of kids were incomplete but I’ll pass by emergency tonight and correct them. [Heath marks this down on a clipboard]
Heath: Just make sure to let me know how the corrections go. But I’ll mark it down anyway because I know I can count on you, Scofield. How ’bout you, kid, you enjoying the job?
Leotard: Oh yes, it’s a wonderful job, sir.
Heath: Good stuff. It can be a bit daunting at first. Horrifying even. But you just stick with Scofield here, and you’ll have nothing to fear.
Leotard: But what’s there to fear, sir?
Heath: That’s the spirit! What is there to fear? There’s nothing to fear at all! I like you, kid. You’ve got great big balls and a lot of spunk. You could learn a lot from this kid, Scofield.
Nathan: I’m sure I could, sir.
Heath: Damn right. I must say I’m very impressed with the work you guys are doing. I’m even considering giving you both a raise.
Leotard: Really, a raise?
Heath: Not a financial raise, of course, but raising the level of mortal danger in your job. Now, I have a very important contract with a client from
Southern California. He’s very demanding but he pays in luxury yachts. This being a big job, it could pay up to twelve yachts. For this I’m going to need a couple of guys who are extremely dedicated. What do you think, can you handle it?
Leotard: There’s nothing to fear, sir.
Heath: Ha ha! [waving gun] Bang! That’s right! There’s nothing to fear. I can see our client Gestapo Joe will be very impressed. Now, the targets are sitting at a café on the corner of
and Pine. I’ll be sitting on the opposite corner and I’ll radio you when they get up to leave. You’ll have to be driving up that exact stretch of St. Laurent at the exact moment when they cross the street with exactly enough speed to [beat] well, ha ha ha, you guys know the routine. Any questions? St. Laurent
Leotard: [glowing] No. [simultaneously]
Heath: [irritated] No? Yes? What is it? Scofield, why are you confusing things?
Nathan: Sorry, Heath, but there are no cafés at that intersection.
Heath: I hardly see why that matters. Scofield, why can’t you be more like this kid here. What’s the kid’s name?
Leotard: My name is...
Heath: The name doesn’t matter. Why can’t you be more like the kid here? You expect everything to be handed to you on a silver plate. You watch it, Scofield, I’m keeping a very close eye on you. I’ll be back with your “important details” in a few minutes. Don’t any of you dare move until then. [waves his gun at them again] Bang!
[Exit Heath. Silence. As Leotard slowly rolls up window, Nathan lets his head sink onto the steering wheel. He bangs it a couple of times. Leotard stares at him blankly]
Leotard: I have to piss.
Nathan: You’re an idiot, Leotard. You got us a job working for Gestapo Joe. No one in their right mind would work for him.
Leotard: Still, it would be nice to have a yacht.
Nathan: Are you a complete mountain of idiocy, Leotard? You’ll get minimum wage just like everyone else. Heath keeps all the yachts.
Leotard: I have to take a piss.
Nathan: So take a piss.
Leotard: What if Heath comes back while I’m gone?
Nathan: Then we’ll have to wait for you. Go.
Leotard: But we’re not supposed to move. He’s bound to notice.
Nathan: He won’t be back for at least five minutes, Leotard. Just go, I won’t tell.
Leotard: If I get fired, it’s your fault.
[Leotard opens door, then closes it again]
Leotard: Hey Nathan, where’s Heath going to sit when he shows up?
Nathan: [beat] In the back seat of course.
[Leotard and Nathan turn and look straight-faced at back seat, ignoring the spectators]
Leotard: Oh, right, obviously. The back seat.
[Leotard exits car. Short pause and then door opens and Heath gets in, sits down in front seat, turns around to inspect back seat, mirrors. Fast dialogue]
Heath: Does he know?
Nathan: I don’t know.
Heath: You don’t know?
Nathan: Well, maybe.
Heath: How could you not know if he knows?
Nathan: I don’t know. I tried.
Heath: You tried?
Nathan: Well, I can’t read his mind, you know.
Heath: You tried to know if he knows but you don’t know. What does that even mean? Am I supposed to be impressed that you tried to know something that you don’t know?
Nathan: I think maybe he might know.
Heath: Now you think maybe he might know?
Heath: Well that settles it. It’ll have to be him.
Nathan: What do you mean?
Heath: If it’s going to be someone it might as well be him.
Nathan: [blankly] I suppose so.
Heath: [passes him a CD. Nathan examines it] This is our contract with Gestapo Joe. He wants us to dispose of three targets.
Nathan: I told you, we’ll take care of it. You know me.
Heath: That’s not the problem. This is the problem [passes another CD].
Nathan: My God.
Heath: That’s right.
Nathan: A duplicate.
Heath: No, Scofield. This is another contract. Mafioso Peach has offered us a small ocean liner if we sabotage Gestapo Joe’s plans. Which is why [beat] the three targets at the café [beat] work for me.
Nathan: I thought we were the only people who work for you.
Heath: [long dramatic pause] You are.
Nathan: Then the three targets?
Heath: Are you, me and the kid.
Nathan: [beat] I don’t care. I’ll do it.
Heath: Not so fast, Scofield. There’s a catch.
Nathan: [frustrated] Always a catch.
Heath: Well, we’re not actually at the café, are we Scofield?
Nathan: Not even close.
Heath: Listen, I have a way that we can keep the twelve yachts and get the ocean liner. Now, each contract specifies that in case of extenuating circumstances we need only one fatality, the other two can be partials. So, if the people hired by Gestapo Joe to take out the people at the café only get one certainty and two partials and the people hired by Mafioso Peach to take out the people hired by Gestapo Joe only get one certainty and two partials, then everyone’s done their job and everyone gets their boats and only one person gets corrected.
Nathan: It’s brilliant. I can’t say I understood most of what you just said, but I definitely get the feeling that it’s brilliant.
Heath: Look Nathan, there’s three of us, right?
Nathan: No question about that.
Heath: Let’s say that one of us who might not be present right now gets corrected. The other two escape miraculously with minor injuries, exceptionally minor in my case, then both squads will have done their job. That’s one certainty and two partials on both sides, honouring both contracts and ensuring that we get paid twice.
Nathan: [getting excited] So we’ll just…
Nathan: Knock off the kid and…
Nathan: Cut off our legs or something.
Heath: We can just fake it.
Nathan: Brilliant. We’ll just pretend to have no legs.
Heath: It doesn’t matter. Just as long as you take out the kid.
Nathan: [beat] All right. Where?
Heath: Out of this fucking world, where do you think?
Nathan: I mean, where do I do it?
Heath: I don’t care. Do it right here if you want. Wait for him to go take a piss, then nab him. Just make sure there’s no witnesses.
[They both slowly turn around to look at audience]
Nathan: Don’t worry, you know I can take care of witnesses.
Heath: I know you can take care of witnesses all right. I still remember the last time. All three of them at once. It was very impressive. How long ago was that?
Nathan: Must have been [beat] about half an hour now. Maybe longer.
Heath: Yes, well, the show is running a little late.
[Knock on window from outside]
Who the fuck is that, Scofield?
Nathan: It must be Leotard. Scrunch down or he’ll see you through the window.
[He does so]
Heath: Like this?
Nathan: No. That’s no good. He’s bound to notice you when he sits down. You’ll have to hide.
Heath: But where? Think, Scofield.
Nathan: What about [looks around] the back seat!
Heath: Yes, of course, the back seat! It’s completely empty! I’ll hide there.
[Heath scrambles into the back seat, “hides” under the feet of audience. Another knock on window]
Nathan: All right. I’m going to let Leotard in before he suspects anything. Is everything okay there?
Heath: Fine. Just one thing.
[He passes Nathan the revolver. If he can’t reach he can ask an audience member to pass it for him]
Don’t forget. You need to get him to take a piss.
[Nathan opens door and then shuts it swiftly]
Nathan: Take a piss? He just took a piss!
Heath: Well, you’ll have to get him to take another one. Now open the door.
[Nathan opens door and Leotard gets in]
Leotard: What a relief. I can’t remember the last time I felt so completely relieved. No sign of Heath I suppose?
Nathan: No, no sign. We’ll just have to keep waiting. You’re sure you feel completely relieved, do you?
Leotard: I feel like I might never need to take a piss again in my entire life.
Heath: [whispers] Bastard!
Leotard: What was that?
Nathan: Nothing. [Heath passes Nathan a two liter bottle of water via an audience member if necessary] Perhaps you’re thirsty, Leotard.
Leotard: No thanks, what was that sound?
[Both turn around and scrutinize the audience]
Nathan: Must be bugs in the engine.
Nathan: Yes. Maybe you should go outside and check.
Leotard: No. You know I hate bugs.
Nathan: But you wouldn’t want to get stuck here.
Leotard: Just the thought of bugs makes me want to sit in here with the windows up and never go outside.
Heath: [whispers slightly quieter] Bastard!
Leotard: [glances at audience] Creepy.
Nathan: Must be your imagination. That’s what happens when you get stooped up in a vehicle for too long.
[long pause, during which Leotard looks around blankly and Nathan starts tapping his fingers on the steering wheel impatiently]
Nathan: [frustrated] Look. Get out of the car.
Leotard: Why should I get out of the car?
Nathan: It’s part of your training, just get out of the car.
Leotard: I don’t want to get out of the car.
Nathan: [pushing Leotard] Just get out of the car. Please.
Leotard: I’m not going anywhere, you’re crazy.
Nathan: Leotard, you don’t understand. You don’t understand anything at all. Just get out of the car.
Leotard: [putting on his seatbelt] When you’re rude to me I don’t want to do anything you tell me.
Nathan: Leotard, don’t do that. Look, I’m asking you nicely. Please just get out of the car. Just for a minute.
[Leotard tilts his seat back until it starts to squash Heath slightly]
Leotard: No. I’m not getting out of this car. Not even for a million dollars or a small ocean liner and twelve yachts.
Nathan: All right. How about if I get out first? If I get out of the car, will you get out too?
Leotard: [suspiciously] Why?
Nathan: No reason. It’s a game.
Leotard: Well, [beat] if it’s a game then okay.
Nathan: All right. [opens his door] I’m getting out of the car now. [Nathan exits]
[Heath sits up and passes Leotard a gun then lies back down]
[Nathan opens door, gets back in with his gun pointing at Leotard who also has a gun pointing at him. Meanwhile, Heath opens the back door quietly and slithers out]
Nathan: Wait a minute, what do you mean a small ocean liner and twelve yachts?
Leotard: What would you know about it?
Nathan: You’ve been talking to Heath!
Leotard: That’s right, I’ve got a future in this company.
Nathan: You don’t know the first thing about this company. You don’t even know how to drive a car.
Leotard: Maybe I can’t drive a car, but at least I care about this company, why do you think Heath chose me?
Nathan: Heath chose you to get knocked off by me.
Leotard: No, Heath chose me to knock you off.
Nathan & Leotard: Bastard!
Nathan: If you really cared about this company, you’d realize that the company would be better off if you died and not me.
Leotard: [sarcastically] What am I supposed to do, Nathan, knock myself off?
Nathan: You’d probably do it wrong anyway. I’ll do it.
[back door slams]
Leotard: What was that?
Nathan: There must be someone in the back seat.
Leotard: It must be Heath.
Nathan: [looks where Heath was hiding] Heath’s gone!
Leotard: [looking at audience] Wait a minute.
Nathan: The back seat is full of people!
Leotard: Full of people we can kill!
[From here on, the play continues until the audience realizes that they must flee or until they convince the actors not to kill them. In other words, the script continues until the audience become actors, at which point the actors ad-lib]
Nathan: Should we kill all of them or just one?
Leotard: The contract says we only need to kill one person.
Nathan: Yes, but we could kill them all, it would look better.
Leotard: [waving gun à la Heath] I think we should kill this one.
Nathan: Look, we need to decide quickly before they open the door and get away.
Leotard: That’s true, we wouldn’t want them to open the door and get away.
Nathan: I say we kill these two and cut off the ear of this one.
Leotard: You’ve done this before, haven’t you?
Nathan: About half an hour ago. All right, you hold them down and I’ll shoot.
Leotard: I’m not going to hold them down, you might miss.
Nathan: How can I miss at point blank range?
Leotard: Here, I’ll do it. [pause, aims gun] Time to teach these kids a lesson.
Nathan: On the count of three, okay? One… two…
Leotard: Wait a minute. How does this work?
Nathan: You don’t know how to use a gun?
Leotard: How hard can it be? [fiddling with gun, can’t make it work]
Nathan: Forget it, Leotard. I’ll shoot them and you bite their ears off.
Leotard: All right. [flashes teeth]
Nathan: On the count of three: one… two… three!
[Nathan & Leotard start screaming and heading towards audience. Back door is opened by urban guide, who frees them, audience escapes]
© 2003 Matt Jones