Thursday, December 3, 2009

Week 46, Day 319 - "First Flight"

“First Flight”

Written by Joe Janes

12/3/09

319 of 365

Cast:

Lady Irene, 30s

Sir Thomas, 30s

Lady Vandemeer, 60s

Lady Mahtilda, 30s

Sir Hugo Gustaf, 50s

Sir Octavio Pinch, 80

(Lights up a small crowd of English upper crust in the early 1800s. They are entering the back lawn of Sir Octavio Pinch’s estate.)

LADY IRENE

Oh, Thomas, I am so excited to see what you have been working on.

SIR HUGO

Yes, Thomas. My daughter and I have seen neither hide nor hair of you for weeks.

SIR THOMAS

Well, Sir Hugo, that is all about to become resolved. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining me on this momentous occasion. I have especially chosen all to be my witness and my guest. Lady Irene, the love of my life and her father, Sir Hugo Gustaf. Lady Vandemeer and Sir Octavio Pinch, you have been like the mother and father that I never had. Always being certain to provide me with the best things in life. A home, an education, and, above everything, encouragement to dream the impossible. Lady Mahtilda, we have only just met, but I hope that after today, we become closer. As my fame and fortune grow, I hope that you will consider becoming my discreet mistress.

(The other men look at Mahtilda approvingly. The women are resigned to the situation.)

LADY MAHTILDA

We shall see.

LADY VANDEMEER

Please don’t keep us waiting, Thomas. Show us the big hullabaloo.

SIR THOMAS

And so I shall. It is right here under this canvas. (He unties the canvas and pulls it down from the large object it covers. The small crowds ooh and ah’s their astonishment.)

SIR OCTAVIO

What the devil is that contraption?

SIR THOMAS

Sir Octavio Pinch, I present to you and everyone, a flying machine.

LADY IRENE

Oh, Thomas, that’s preposterous.

SIR HUGO

Indeed. It cannot fly. I see no wings.

SIR THOMAS

There are no wings. It is a balloon. Filled with helium gas. Lighter than air. Here. Everyone, climb into the basket with me.

(Thomas hops into the basket and holds open a small door for the rest of the party.)

LADY MAHTILDA

Oh, my. We’re already off the ground.

SIR HUGO

By a good three inches. Are you mad, boy? Man wasn’t meant to fly.

LADY VANDEMEER

We may get too close to the sun.

SIR THOMAS

I have taken precautions. I assure you it is perfectly safe. Everyone hold on to the rim of the basket. Like this. With one hand. (He mimes untying a weight and drops it.) Hold on. Here we…go! (They all hold on as the basket jolts a bit as it takes off.)

LADY IRENE

We’re flying.

SIR HUGO

If we need to evacuate ourselves, do we just flop our bums over the side and let them drop like those dammed infernal beasts of the sky?

SIR THOMAS

There is a chamber pot, but I promise to keep our flight short. If you could please hold it, Sir Hugo.

SIR HUGO

All right, but if I see the baron, these trousers go down.

LADY VANDEMEER

I feel dizzy.

SIR THOMAS

Just as I thought. The air thins out. Like it does on mountaintops.

SIR OCTAVIO

I never thought I would live to see the day a man could soar to the heavens on his own wings.

LADY MAHTILDA

This is thrilling, but…but what if this is not part of God’s plan.

LADY IRENE (tapping Thomas on the shoulder)

Thomas. Your future mistress has doubts about the morality of your machine.

SIR THOMAS

What’s that?

LADY MAHTILDA

Don’t get me wrong, Thomas. I am impressed and should this lead to new found fame and fortune for you, I will gladly share a bed with you at the whim of your animalistic needs. However, I must protest. If human beings were meant to fly, the good Lord would have seen it proper to fit us with feathers.

SIR THOMAS

The good Lord didn’t need to suit us with feathers or wings. He gave man the ingenuity to create a way to touch the clouds. So, you see, it is in God’s plan.

SIR OCTAVIO

But, if a man can fly, why should he climb a mountain? Or sail a sea? An affront to God? I don’t think so. But certainly you are laying out a bed upon which man can nap away his existence. This contraption will lead to laziness. Why should I ever strive to climb Mount Everest if I can just have you drop me off?

SIR THOMAS

There are new places to reach that we couldn’t reach before. The middle of the south pole, perhaps.

LADY VANDEMEER

Yes, but at what cost? Man grows through struggle. This is a societal caesarean section. Let me down this instant.

SIR THOMAS

I really thought you all would be more thrilled about this.

LADY IRENE

About what?

SIR THOMAS

About the adventure. We are going where no man has gone before.

SIR HUGO

Dear Heavens. Let me off this thing. I can feel my soul being dammed from my feet up.

(Sir Hugo jumps over the side. Everyone yells “No!” But he lands on his feet. The balloon is only a few feet up off the ground.)

SIR THOMAS

Sir Hugo, are you all right?

SIR HUGO

Yes, you imbecile. It’s no more than a few steps drop.

SIR THOMAS

Still, we are higher than any man has ever flown. If I had a longer rope, we could go even higher.

SIR OCTAVIO

True, but at the cost is too high. I’m going, too. Come Emily.

(He jumps over and helps Lady Vandemeer down.)

SIR HUGO

Come along, Irene. There is no way I will let you become betrothed to this lunatic.

LADY IRENE

I’m sorry, Thomas. Truly, I am. But I need a man with his feet on the ground.

(She climbs over. Sir Hugo helps her. The party walks off.)

SIR OCTAVIO

I must apologize for Thomas’s behavior.

LADY VANDEMEER

He was adopted you know. We found him in the jungle.

SIR HUGO

Like Lord Greystoke?

SIR OCTAVIO

No, no. He was raised by chimpanzees. Thomas was raised by a group of dwarf mongoose.

LADY VANDEMEER

Rude creatures.

LADY IRENE

It’s so sad.

(They walk off.)

SIR THOMAS

You don’t want to join them?

LADY MAHTILDA

I rather like flying.

SIR THOMAS

What about offending God?

LADY MAHTILDA

I’ve already done that in many other pleasurable ways. May as well add something else to the list. How high will this go?

SIR THOMAS

I don’t know. This is the highest I have ever taken it.

LADY MAHTILDA (pressing against him)

Cut the rope.

SIR THOMAS

I don’t know what will happen. We could die.

LADY MAHTILDA

I t could be the most alive thing we ever do.

LADY MAHTILDA

I want to see what’s on the other side of that cloud.

SIR THOMAS

No man has ever done that before.

LADY MAHTILDA

When we get there, we’ll do something else no man has ever done before.

(Thomas cuts the rope. They embrace and kiss. They are loose and floating up. Lights fade.)

2 comments:

Nat Topping said...

I quite liked this one.

Aly said...

Me too. The dialogue fit the era, too.