Lit Up
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Lit Up

The L657 Dialog

Part IV: The Side Door

Catch up with:

A Brief Intro to the L657 Dialog, Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Relevant philosophical and theoretical works:

Touching Feeling, by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

FADE IN:

EXT. SOMEWHERE LOUD IN BROOKLYN — MID-MORNING

A wide street full of people. Some dressed in blandly formal business attire walk quickly and effectively on the side of the road. They do not linger under street lamps or jump in front of cars to meet friends across the street. Others dressed flamboyantly full of life and color do not regard crosswalks or the blindingly ambiguous white men flashing from the streetlights who tell them when to walk. They loiter in the lamplight, bent up against brick walls dancing and drinking and talking and singing and laughing and smiling and loving. They stop cars and offer to drive the drivers to places they have not known but will soon remember for a small fee. They blockade buses and clog up hotel entrances, which become epicenters of the party. Taken all together, they form a parade of color that no one can stop.

The colorful people go singing and playing various instruments — tambourines, rattles, and cymbals. When one of the people in business attire finally seems to notice the carnival that is taking place around them, they become undignified with and overcome by the spirit resting on the party goers. They undress, or even dress more wildly, and tear their hair and howl and dance more fervently than anyone would have ever thought possible.

And everything is supernaturally illuminated. Somewhere just beyond the crowd a light is shining. Enter the Student, with the Fish in the Whiskey Bottle still under his arm, and Saussure the Cat.

STUDENT

I’ve never seen so many people in such

a small place — and nobody seems to notice.

How in the world can anyone ignore

a person juggling fire and swallowing swords?

VOICE OF GOD
(expansively, like an angry
flutter of beating wings)

These are my people, who I told to walk

into the land of their inheritance. The men

who walk with them but never seem to notice

the other’s suffering or happiness, who keep

their faces pale and pray with their noses turned

towards the sky — as if the dim white light of

the skeletal moon can save them from the night —

have hardened their snowy hearts against the people

to their left and to their right. I don’t know them.

FISH IN THE WHISKEY BOTTLE
(awe-struck)

I swear I’m hearing voices. Someone spoke

my name just now.

SAUSSURE THE CAT

Go back to sleep — you’ll taste

funny if you swim around too much.

STUDENT

We’ll never find our way in this.

SAUSSURE THE CAT

The bar

is just a little further up ahead.

The Student and Saussure the Cat move haphazardly through the crowd. They are stopped along the way by both people who want to dance and businesslike walls of people who refuse to break their efficient walking order. Finally, the Student and Saussure the Cat step out of the crowds and come into view of a glowing building that grows out of the inhospitable street like a burning bush.

Every inch of the building is covered in shimmering neon tubing, and two giant neon cupids flank either side with their wings arched and touching above the lid-like roof, which looks ready to explode. A sign made from a million flickering lights shaped like pomegranates and figs spells out “The Side Door” above the golden double doors that mark the entrance.

STUDENT

That building’s amazing! I’ve been down this street

so many times that it’s a wonder how

I ever missed it.

SAUSSURE THE CAT
(pawing, but nonchalant)

That’s where we’re heading now —

The Side Door. It’s a holy place that’s been

in the republic since who knows when, and it

has always celebrated the inclusiveness

included in the legal framework of

our constitution, and the possibilities

that the people of the republic will

rise above those legal limits they set

in that constitution, if the need should rise,

because a law is only good when people

recognize its worth and give it power.

And it’s no mystery why you haven’t seen

the building until now, despite the fact that

it was always there. For the longest time its light

was covered by that great White Wall you see

crumbling around it, which has been

only recently destroyed, and which

Pres. — has lobbied to rebuild at the cost

of anything and everything. Of course,

it’s going to be hard to build without

the labor they’re all hoping to keep out.

Saussure the Cat leads the Student to the White Wall, and they examine it together. Everything looks strange — decayed and ancient and artificial — under the rainbow flood of neon light. The Student bends towards a nearby poster and reads.

STUDENT

Vice Pres. — Constructing and Consultation,

a Koch Brother’s United Company.

CRACKS IN THE WHITE WALL

There is a single truth: that white is pure

despite whatever prism scatters it

or shatters it, and we won’t be destroyed

by hateful and racist minority agendas.

Saussure the Cat jumps over the nearby rubble of the wall.

SAUSSURE THE CAT

Well — should we go in then?

FISH IN THE WHISKEY BOTTLE

As long as they

have something I can swim in. I’ve used up what

whiskey’s left while we were standing here.

The Student follows Saussure the Cat, and together they approach the entrance of The Side Door, where a BOUNCER two heads taller than the Student is standing. The Bouncer holds a flaming neon sword and blocks their path.

BOUNCER

Only those who have confronted their own

materiality may enter here.

SAUSSURE THE CAT

Fidelio.

The Bouncer steps to the side and lets them pass.

STUDENT
(surprisingly impressed)

And how did you know there was

a password?

SAUSSURE THE CAT

If you really know your words,

then you’ve already heard the answer.

FISH IN THE WHISKEY BOTTLE
(perhaps a little sour after
swimming in a mess of dirty
whiskey all the night, and
maybe, if we can find it in
our simple hearts, we should
forgive this little fish, perhaps
doomed to die, for being such
a sour ass)

Not true.

SAUSSURE THE CAT

Quiet or I’ll have your head for dinner.

FADE OUT.

Continue to Part V.

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Cole Hardman

Cole Hardman

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I’m an engineer with a passion for poetry and literary theory.