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Clockwise from UL: Charles Leggett as Andrew, Patrick Lennon as Billy, Llysa Holland as Maribel, Daniel Christensen as Theo, Heather Gautschi as Linda. Photo by Michelle Bates.

Coming To A Conclusion

Produced at the 14/48 festival, 1/8/11. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "Bedtime Stories." My random actor draw: write a play for three men and two women. Later produced as part of Star Crossed, and other tales from a devious universe.

Lights up on MARIBEL, sitting on the end of a bed, wearing a nightgown, facing the audience. She holds a plain silver box in her lap. The box has a red button on the top of it, a dial next to the button, and an opening on one side big enough to stick an entire hand in.

MARIBEL to audience: Then there was the time I ordered an orgasm machine off the internet. I probably shouldn't have ordered it. I mean, the reviews on Amazon were pretty clear. They were like, “Don't order the orgasm machine,” or “oh my God, whatever you do, don't order the orgasm machine,” or whatever. But I just sort of wanted one. It's pretty simple to operate.

She sticks her hand in, pushes the red button, and immediately collapses back onto the bed in an amazing shrieking orgasm – this goes on for several beats. LINDA enters in a rush, also in a nightgown.

LINDA: Maribel, what the fuck? Maribel! Are you okay? MARIBEL!

With great effort, Maribel pushes the red button again and stops shrieking.

LINDA: What the fuck was that all about?

MARIBEL sitting up slowly: I was testing my new orgasm machine. I think it works.

LINDA: Are you kidding me? I gotta work in the morning! I woke up thinking the apartment was on fire because you were screaming so loud, and you were just playing with a sex toy?

MARIBEL: It's not a toy, Linda. It's a very serious piece of technology.

LINDA skeptical: An “orgasm machine.”

MARIBEL: Yes. It makes you come, like, in your soul.

Maribel offers the device to Linda, who hesitates briefly, then takes it, sits down next to Maribel, puts her hand in, presses the button. Linda immediately begins having an amazing shrieking orgasm, until eventually Maribel presses the red button again and Linda stops.

LINDA slowly sitting up: I'm going to get my boyfriend. She exits hurriedly.

MARIBEL to audience: The reviews on Amazon were like, “If you order the orgasm machine, your whole entire life will be destroyed in a matter of days.” But my life was already pretty much shit, so I didn't care.

She activates the machine and begins having a shrieking orgasm. Linda enters with THEO, her good-for-nothing boyfriend, who wears boxers and a t-shirt. After a beat, Linda shuts the machine off. Maribel stays lying on her back, exhausted.

LINDA: See? That's what it's supposed to look like.

THEO: Can I try it?

MARIBEL: Sure. Linda takes it from her and hands it to Theo.

THEO: Do I have to stick my hand in, or can I...? Linda shoots him a dirty look.

Maribel sits up. Linda and Theo join Maribel on the bed, pulling their own orgasm machines from under the bed or somewhere convenient nearby.

MARIBEL to audience: A few days later, we all had one.

Maribel, Linda and Theo activate their devices simultaneously – the noise from onstage is preposterous. BILLY rushes in, wearing a bathrobe. He shouts to get their attention and one by one, they shut off their machines.

BILLY: What the hell's going on down here? I can hear you through the floor!

LINDA: Sorry, Billy. We were getting a little carried away.

THEO: Yeah, with our orgasm machines.

BILLY: Orgasm what now?

THEO: This machine gives you an orgasm.

BILLY: My hand gives me an orgasm but I don't shriek like a cat in a microwave.

LINDA: Maybe you're doing it wrong. She offers her machine to him. You're going to want to sit down.

Curious, Billy sits on the bed and lets Theo show him how to operate the machine. Billy does indeed shriek like crazy for a few beats, before Maribel shuts it off.

BILLY: Yes... I have been doing it wrong.

MARIBEL: We need to insulate this room so the neighbors don't call the cops.

BILLY sitting up: Oh that's easy. He pulls out his cell phone and calls. Hey, Andrew, it's Billy. Sorry to call you at work.

ANDREW appearing elsewhere in his own light: No problem. What's up, sugar?

BILLY: On your way to my place, will you stop by Home Depot and buy a bunch of fiberglass insulation for me?

ANDREW: What do you need fiberglass insulation for?

BILLY: We're going to build a soundproof orgasm chamber out of my neighbor's bedroom.

ANDREW: Oh. Obviously.

BILLY: Trust me. She's got something here that is, like, ninety-two times better than coming on crystal meth. Which I have only read about.

Andrew enters the scene, joins them on the bed. Billy and Andrew produce machines for themselves from under the bed.

MARIBEL to audience: We trashed the walls of my bedroom hanging insulation, but it worked. Billy and Andrew got their own machines and pretty soon no one wanted to leave my bedroom.

The other four go under simultaneously, while Maribel patiently reads the manual for the machine. Eventually Maribel shuts everyone's machines off.

ANDREW: I should call work and tell them I won't be in ever again. I mean, unless they'll let me come at my desk over and over.

THEO: I need to change clothes, like... into an adult diaper.

MARIBEL: Hey I've been reading the manual for these machines. It says you can chain them together on the same radio frequency to create a “shared orgasm substrate for elevating human consciousness.” Pause. So that
sounds cool.

LINDA: Elevating how? Like... an out of body experience?

BILLY: Shared orgasm – you mean, we could feel each other's orgasms?

ANDREW: Actually, there might be another possible interpretation of “elevating human consciousness.” In Zen Buddhism, there is the concept of “satori,” understood to be “a sudden inexpressible feeling of inner understanding or enlightenment.” Perhaps blending and amplifying our collective sexual energy will offer a pathway to the sublime experience of “satori.” The group does not respond. But it probably just means we could feel each other's orgasms.

THEO: I always wondered what a chick orgasm felt like.

LINDA: Ironic, since you never wondered how to cause one.

BILLY: Maribel, does the manual say anything else about what to expect from chaining the machines together?

MARIBEL: Yeah. Reading: “The experience of sharing another person's orgasm can be powerfully intoxicating. Some users are unable to disconnect from the machine after the experience, remaining perpetually intertwined with each other as a defense against the loneliness of the existential condition. These users experience the absolute heights of metaphysical ecstasy, but forever lose their individuality.” Pause. “Also, some users experience chafing.”

The group falls silent.

MARIBEL: Who's up for it?

Linda pulls Theo off the bed, to one side of the room. Billy pulls Andrew off the bed, to the opposite side of the room.

LINDA: I don't think we should do it. It sounds freaky.

THEO: We should totally do it. I want to be inside you, Linda. And unlike every other time I've said that, I want it to last longer than a couple minutes.

BILLY: I think we should try it.

ANDREW: It sounds very risky.

BILLY: It only sounds risky for lonely people. I've never felt lonely with you, Andrew.

ANDREW: You're a sweetheart. It still sounds very risky.

BILLY: But – you make this amazing face when you come which I absolutely love, and I have to know what that feels like.

ANDREW: It doesn't feel good enough to risk losing your entire sense of identity. I'm not sure anything does.

LINDA: I don't want to get trapped in some weird catatonic state with you sharing my orgasms forever. I kind of like that they're private. I don't like that for years I only had them in private, but still.

THEO: You don't love me enough?

LINDA: Of course I do. And by that I mean, no, I don't.

THEO: The truth comes out.

LINDA: Oh c'mon, Theo. I don't think I could ever love anybody that much.

THEO: Well, I'm not doing it without you.

BILLY: I'm not doing it without you.

LINDA: That's fine with me.

ANDREW: Fair enough.

They slowly turn back to face Maribel, who has been waiting patiently.

MARIBEL: So... who's up for it? No one responds. Oh, come on – seriously? Silence. Not even just one person? Looking around the room. No one in this room has had food for three days. You're all going to make yourselves come with these machines until you die anyway. What's the big deal?

ANDREW: Actually, Maribel, you've been a great host, but I think Billy and I are going to head out.

BILLY: We are?

ANDREW: Yes. Since you like seeing that face so much, I thought we might try some actual sex for a change.

BILLY: Oh my. Innovative.

ANDREW: And I would definitely prefer to do that in private.


BILLY: Don't worry, Maribel, now that your bedroom is insulated, you won't hear us upstairs at all.

Billy and Andrew exit. Maribel turns to Linda.

LINDA: Sorry, Maribel. Doesn't sound like something I could handle.

MARIBEL: Oh. You can handle lying on your back for three days straight in your own little bubble, but you can't handle sharing a little of yourself with a friend?

LINDA: Pretty much.


THEO: I gotta stick with my baby on this one. Linda smiles at him. Now that you mention it, though, I could totally go for a burger. You want food? Let's go out.

LINDA: That sounds awesome.

THEO: Maribel, want to come with us? She shakes her head. Okay, well... see you 'round. He and Linda turn to go.

MARIBEL: Wait – don't you want your orgasm machines?

LINDA: I think I could use a break for a while. Maybe you could too.

Linda and Theo exit. Maribel is left alone with five orgasm machines on her bed, arrayed around her. She begins tuning a dial on each one, very slowly.

MARIBEL to audience: I learned about the orgasm machine from my mother when I was a kid. She didn't let me use one. But one night when she put me to bed, she showed me this trick, where you can chain a bunch of them together. And she said, “I hope you never get so lonely that you try this.” And then she was gone.

She slowly pushes the red button on each of the boxes, puts her hands in two of them, and then sinks back into the bed, silent, motionless.

Fade to black.

[Note: in the original staging, the director (Alan Bryce) & the cast chose to omit the final stage direction. This seemed like an effective choice to me - a little less dark, a little more ambiguous. Your mileage may vary.]

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