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Laurence Hughes as Gothic Larry. Photo by Omar Willey.

Nihilism Blues

Produced at the 14/48 festival, 1/16/16. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "Silent But Deadly." My random actor draw: write a play for one woman and two men.

CARLA: When I was a kid we moved around a lot, so I never really had any friends most of the time. But one time, we stayed put long enough for me to kind of get to know this one kid. His name was Larry, but everybody called him Gothic Larry.

GOTHIC LARRY: I am soooooo boooooooored.

CARLA: He was like a year older than me, but we hung out cuz we both smoked out in the parking lot at lunch.

GOTHIC LARRY: Every aspect of my life is absolute total tedium, do you understand me? The technical term is ďennui.Ē I am drowning in a massive tidal wave of ďennui,Ē Carla, do you understand me?

CARLA: Sort of. I mean, if youíre so bored, Gothic Larry, why donít you read a book?

GOTHIC LARRY: Youíre so childlike in your simple ignorance, Carla. Do you not see that all a book could possibly do is reflect back to me the epic futility I already fully realize with every fiber of what passes for my tiny, miserable soul?

CARLA: Why donít you get a hobby?

GOTHIC LARRY: You mean a mindless and temporary distraction from the pointless emptiness of the world?

CARLA: I guess.

GOTHIC LARRY: No thank you, Iím good.

CARLA: But so I tried to explain Gothic Larry to my dad, and he was like-

DAD: Maybe your friendís depressed.

CARLA: He says heís just bored.

DAD: Sure, boredom or listlessness or apathy could all be symptoms of a deeper, underlying condition. Might be depression, might be something else.

CARLA: If heís depressed, how do I cheer him up?

DAD: Well I donít know if itís that simple, Carla. How much do you know about his home life?

CARLA: I donít know anything about him really.

DAD: Howíd you wind up friends with him?

CARLA: Because we both like - eating lunch outside - when itís nice out.

DAD: I see.

CARLA: Which was Dadís way of saying ďyou can blame Gothic Larry for the smoke smell on your clothes, but you ainít fooling me.Ē But he let me get away with stuff because he felt bad for moving us around so much.

GOTHIC LARRY: ďDepressedĒ? Is that what your dad said?

CARLA: I guess, yeah.

GOTHIC LARRY: Is your father a practicing psychotherapist or a licensed psychiatrist by chance?


GOTHIC LARRY: Then spare me his rudimentary long-distance analysis of my emotional well-being.

CARLA: But then why are you so unhappy all the time?

GOTHIC LARRY: Look around, Carla. You are surrounded on all sides by a swarming sea of neonatal brutality, poised for little more than brainless reproduction and gleeful over-consumption.

CARLA: I know, but weíre not going to live here in this town forever, right?

GOTHIC LARRY: Weíre not going to live forever period, thank the placeholder noun substitute for a god that cannot possibly exist.

DAD: Well itís interesting that he said that, donít you think?

CARLA: I donít know. A lot of people donít believe in God, right?

DAD: Not that. I mean that heís thankful that heís not going to live forever. The subtext could be that heís so depressed about this life of his that heís looking forward to no longer living it.

CARLA: You mean he wants to kill himself?

DAD: Or he wants to make you think he does. Maybe itís just a ploy for your attention.

CARLA: Why my attention?

DAD: Well does anyone else eat lunch with him in the parking lot?

CARLA: No. Heís really weird.

DAD: If youíre his only friend, Carla, he might be trying to tell you something, without knowing exactly how to say it. Understand?

CARLA: I guess. But if he wants to kill himself, shouldnít I tell somebody? Wouldnít the school counselor be able to help? I mean I donít think heíd ever speak to me again if I told the school counselor without talking to him first, but I have to do something, right?

DAD: Sounds like youíve already answered your own question.

CARLA: Which one? I asked like three questions.

GOTHIC LARRY: Sure I want to kill myself. All the time.

CARLA: Why? Just because youíre bored?

GOTHIC LARRY: ďJustĒ because Iím trapped in a psychic hell hole of a reality, you mean?

CARLA: But if itís so horrible, why havenít you killed yourself already?

GOTHIC LARRY: Sounds like youíre trying to convince me.

CARLA: Of course Iím not.

GOTHIC LARRY: You should take calls for a suicide hotline, Carla. Letís be clear, not a suicide prevention hotline, but like if people are truly on the fence about suicide, they could call you up to get that friendly little nudge into oblivion.

CARLA: Iím being serious, Gothic Larry! Why are you even still alive?

GOTHIC LARRY: Because Iím waiting for my mother to die! Okay? Because it would break her heart. Because I can wait until sheís gone to do something so selfish. Okay? Are you satisfied?

CARLA: So you do care about something in this world.

GOTHIC LARRY: Maybe I do, you nosy little brat, but itís not you. Find someone else to bum Davidoffs from!

CARLA: Nobody else in this school smokes Davidoffs.

GOTHIC LARRY: I realize that! I guess Swiss luxury tobacco is the one other thing in this world I care about! He storms out.

CARLA: I did the right thing, didnít I? I had to at least ask him, right?

DAD: I donít know your friend as well as you, sweetheartÖ

CARLA: Heís not my friend. Not anymore. Iím not one of the few things he cares about.

DAD: Maybe. But look, friends talk about their feelings with each other, even the hard ones. I suspect he wouldnít have admitted so much to you in the first place if he didnít care about you at least a little.

CARLA: I guess. Dad - how much longer are we staying in this town?

DAD: Anxious to leave already?

CARLA: Maybe. Thatís the one good thing about moving so much - I donít ever, ever get bored.


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