The Afterlife

from Whirligig (full-length version) by John Newman

Genre: Drama
Cast Breakdown: 2 males

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Teenaged Brent is traveling the country building whirligigs, to atone for killing someone in a drunk driving accident.

(Warning: Using this scene without permission is illegal, as is reproducing it on a website or in print in any way.)

(Harmonica music is heard as CYCLIST enters, perhaps on a bicycle, lays out a sleeping bag, sits or lies on it, and starts playing the tune Americans know as "My Country Tis of Thee" on his harmonica. Brent enters tentatively, carrying a heavy backpack.)

BRENT: Excuse me...

(Cyclist continues to play.)

Sorry to bother you...

(Brent stands in front of Cyclist and gets his attention.)

Hi! Would you mind if I shared your campsite tonight? (Beat.) The place is full, but I walked three miles.

(Cyclist stops playing. Crickets may be heard in the background.)

I'll go somewhere else.

CYCLIST: Be my guest. Pick out a corner for yourself.

BRENT: I'll pay you half the fee for the campsite.

CYCLIST: No need. Glad to have the company.

BRENT: Thanks. I hate asking favors.

CYCLIST: Most people do.

(Cyclist resumes playing as Brent removes his sleeping bag from his pack.)

BRENT: "My Country Tis of Thee"?

(Cyclist stops playing.)

CYCLIST: "God Save the Queen." I play it with a Canadian accent.

(Brent unrolls his sleeping bag in the open air.)

BRENT: Nice view of Puget Sound.

CYCLIST: What brings you here?

BRENT: Just...seeing the country. What about you?

CYCLIST: Biking south from Canada. Heading down the coast to San Francisco. Seeing the country. Studying the strange customs of the natives. No offense.

BRENT: Where are you from?

CYCLIST: Prince George, British Columbia, halfway to the Yukon.

BRENT: I've never talked to a Canadian before.

CYCLIST: At least you've heard of Canada. That puts you ahead of most of your countrymen.

(Fireworks are heard in the background as lights flash on stage.)

Ah, yes. Noisemaking devices to dispel evil spirits on your Independence Day.

BRENT: I didn't realize the campground would be so full. I forgot it was the Fourth of July.

CYCLIST: So did I.

BRENT: Do you have the Fourth of July in Canada?

CYCLIST: No, we just skip from the third to the fifth.

BRENT: I mean, do you have an Independence Day? Did you have a revolution?

CYCLIST: We got our independence differently—more patience, less fighting—but eventually we all strike out on our own.

BRENT: Thanks for...sharing.

CYCLIST: It's your country, eh? Did you hike all the way here?

BRENT: I've been traveling by bus...never been out on my own before.

CYCLIST: You meet a lot of interesting people on busses, eh?

BRENT: I never talked to anyone on the bus. You're the first person I've talked to since I left Chicago, or even since...

(He opens his backpack.)

I listened. For hours. People can be interesting.

CYCLIST: Quite an unusual load.

BRENT: Yeah, varnish, drills, and blades... If I were flying, they'd think I was a terrorist.

(Cyclist does not respond.)

I'm not... They're tools of my trade... I'm a...traveling whirligig-maker.

CYCLIST: That's unusual.

BRENT: Actually, I'm just starting out. Just...something I... wanted to do, because...I needed to do something.

CYCLIST: Best reason to do anything, eh?

(Brent shows Cyclist the image in his book of his first project.)

BRENT: That's the one I'm going to build first. An angel playing a harp.

CYCLIST: Looks pretty complicated.

BRENT: You think so?

(Cyclist shrugs.)

Maybe. I'll manage.

CYCLIST: Where are you going to mount it?

BRENT: I hadn't thought of that. I should have brought some poles.

CYCLIST: How about hanging it in that tree?

BRENT: Could I do that?

CYCLIST: It's your country.

(They lie back and look up at the sky.)

Plenty of stars.

BRENT: A lot more than you can see in a city.

CYCLIST: Do you know the stars?

BRENT: Just the Big Dipper.

CYCLIST: That bright one's Deneb, in the tail of the swan. Deneb gets you to Vega and over to Altair. The summer triangle.

BRENT: I didn't know the stars had names.

CYCLIST: They used to lead sailors. Must be satisfying.

BRENT: What do you mean?

CYCLIST: To leave something for someone else to find, like a star to show the way.

BRENT: I just hope it makes somebody smile.