The Nap (Act 1)
General Martinez has lost his way. And his marbles.
A play about getting lost in two acts.
(Equipped with bows and quivers)
GENERAL JAVIER MARTINEZ: Huge, ornate bow. Fancy clothes.
LIEUTENANT MERCURY: Large bow, fairly ornate.
2nd LIEUTENANT BOX: As MERCURY.
CARMEN ESTEBAN: Smaller bow, decent clothes.
SOLDIERS (9, Numbered 1 through 9): Very ordinary bows, ordinary clothes too.
All the characters except the musicians walk on to stage arranged in a roughly ordered formation around GENERAL MARTINEZ. MARTINEZ is flanked by L. MERCURY AND L. BOX. The rank hierarchy should be obvious.
They are standing in an open field that has been deserted for some time. All the characters have their bows and quivers full of arrows strapped to their shoulders.
They stop and look around to survey the field.
Lieut. BOX: My General. Do we turn left or right?
GENERAL MARTINEZ: This place looks different from the last time I was here. Where the hell did all the trees go?
Lieut. MERCURY: My General, you are the only one who’s been here before. You are the only one who knows the way out of here. We are at your service. But please, tell us where to go.
GENERAL MARTINEZ: There was an enormous tree right here. Enormous. Right where we are standing. Full of leaves. And many like it all around. They all seem to have just vanished. (Pause. Looks around.) So has the edge of the ocean.
BOX: Please, my General. It is not safe for us to stop here. Do you remember which way to go? East or west?
GENERAL MARTINEZ: I don’t know. This place has changed too much. (Pause.) Almost unrecognizable. I need the map. Get me the map.
BOX: The map! Good thinking my General! I almost forgot!
MERCURY: A fine idea! Yes! who has the map?
(The characters look at each other.)
BOX: Esteban. You had it last. Where is it?
CARMEN ESTEBAN: I had it last time we talked. That was a while ago if I’m not mistaken. But then I gave it to someone. If I could only remember… Someone… Who …(Glares at soldiers 1–9.) One of these for sure. Just can’t quite pinpoint the right one. (Pause.) They all look so similar.
GENERAL MARTINEZ: I need that map now.
ESTEBAN: But of course my General. I will find it pronto.
(BOX walks up to ESTEBAN and slaps him in the face.)
BOX: You are not to address the General directly, understand? Got something to say, you go through me. (Pause.) Now find that map.
ESTEBAN: Yes Lieutenant Box. I understand. My humblest apologies to the General.
BOX: Esteban wishes to convey his apologies, My General. (To Esteban.) Carry on. (ESTEBAN looks at soldiers 1–9. Strides menacingly.)
ESTEBAN: Imbeciles! Which one of you has it? Step forward immediately! You’ll all be fucked, you understand? Come on!
(SOLDIER 1 steps forward nervously. Takes the map out of his pocket and extends it nervously. ESTEBAN snatches the map.)
ESTEBAN: Idiot! I should have known it was you. Always fucking about.
BOX: Hand it over Esteban! (Snatches the map from ESTEBAN.)My General. (Hands the map to GENERAL MARTINEZ.)
(MARTINEZ opens the map and stares at it for a while.)
GENERAL MARTINEZ: Lieutenant. (Pause.) What the hell happened to this?
BOX: My General? (Looks at the map.)I’ll deal with it. (Takes the map and goes to SOLDIER 1.) Care to explain this?
SOLDIER 1: Lieutenant Box. It… it got a little wet. (Pause.)
BOX: (L. BOX slaps SOLDIER 1 on the face. Hard.) A little wet? A little wet! Imbecile, the ink has smudged everywhere and now we can’t see anything! (Turns away. Turns back. Slaps him again.) Imbecile. (Walks back over to GENERAL MARTINEZ.) I sorted it out but I’m afraid we don’t have a map anymore. (Pause.)
GENERAL MARTINEZ: No map, you say?
BOX: Now how are we supposed to know which way to go?
MERCURY: We don’t.
BOX: (Turns to SOLDIER 1.) Went and ruined the one…
MERCURY: SShh. Quiet. What is that noise?
(A faint whistling sound is heard. An arrow, fired from far away offstage, hits SOLDIER 1. SOLDIER 1 falls over and dies.They all stand shocked.)
BOX: (Looks up.) Assholes!
GENERAL MARTINEZ: (Squints. Hand shields eyes, like a visor on a cap.)I can’t even see them. L. BOX: Esteban! Check on him!
ESTEBAN: (Walks up to the body of SOLDIER 1. Lifts his head, shakes him.) Hey! Hey imbecile! Are you alive? Come on! Hey! (Continues to shake him. Stops. Pause) He’s gone.
MERCURY: This is all a bit sudden. (Looks around.) Where are those assholes firing from?
ESTEBAN: What do we do with him?
MERCURY: Are you sure he’s dead?
MERCURY: Then there isn’t really anything we can do. What did you want to do? (Pause. Another whistling sound is heard. Another arrow hits SOLDIER 7 standing far away from where SOLDIER 1 was hit. SOLDIER 7 dies. They all look at each other. Pause.)
BOX: For the love of… Hey! Esteban! Go and check on him will you! (Pauses. Looks around. Up and into the distance.) I can’t believe this.
(Esteban makes his way over. Another whistle. Another arrow. SOLDIER 5 this time. Dies.)
ESTEBAN: One more. (Inspects both of them.) Dead…and … dead. Both dead, my Lieutenant.
BOX: Esteban reports that they are both dead, my General.
MERCURY: My General. The situation calls for your wisdom. Please. What is the right course of action? Perhaps we should keep moving?
GENERAL MARTINEZ: (Pause.) I really wish we had that map. This is very distressing. There used to be trees here, I am sure of it. And the edge of the ocean. A long beach with white sand. And water so clear, you could watch the starfishes move across the rocks.
BOX: Are you sure you don’t remember which way to go? (Looks around.) This place isn’t safe.
GENERAL MARTINEZ: I used to know. Now I need a map. Maybe I’m getting old. But if you ask me, some inconsiderate fucker came here and changed the entire landscape on us. (Pause.) In any case, I don’t know what the hell you idiots expect me to do here without a map.
BOX: (Glares at SOLDIERS.) My apologies, my General. (Pause.)
GENERAL MARTINEZ: Although, there is one thing.
MERCURY: My General? Please. Tell us.
GENERAL MARTINEZ: There is one way I may be able to remember.
MERCURY: My, General, what is it?
GENERAL MARTINEZ: It’s an old technique. It’s called incubation.
MERCURY: Incubation, my General?
GENERAL MARTINEZ: Yes. I could incubate my memories of this place and then perhaps they will hatch into a plan of where we should be heading.
MERCURY: Ah! Incubation! It sounds perfect.
BOX: A fine idea, my General!
GENERAL MARTINEZ: For this, I will need to take a nap.
BOX: A nap! But of course. (To SOLDIER 3.) Hey you, Come here and set up the bedding for the General.
SOLDIER 3: Yes, lieutenant.
(SOLDIER 3 does this and steps aside. GENERAL MARTINEZ goes to sleep.)
MERCURY: Don’t you think maybe we should keep moving?
BOX: Well we can’t leave now.
(They look at the sleeping GENERAL.)
MERCURY: Well maybe we should try something.
(Whistle. Arrow. SOLDIER 3. Dies.)
MERCURY: See what I mean? Standing around isn’t doing us much good.
BOX: I’m going to shoot back.
MERCURY: You don’t know where to aim.
BOX: It’s OK. I’ll guess. (Draws his bowstring and fires an arrow in an offstage direction, high. Pause.)
MERCURY: Do you think you hit one of them?
BOX: How should I know?
MERCURY: (Pointing at SOLDIERS.) Which one of us is going to get hit after all of them die?
BOX: We won’t get hit. You and I aren’t candidates.
MERCURY: Well why not?
BOX: Because we’re lieutenants Mercury. That’s why not.
MERCURY: Isn’t it just a matter of chance? You say that we, as lieutenants won’t get hit. But standing next to someone that will makes me nervous.
BOX: That’s a good point. I see where you’re going with this. (To the soldiers.) Hey! All of you that are still here. (Gesturing towards a location away from himself and MERCURY.) Go stand over there.
(The remaining soldiers walk over and stand in a cluster some distance away.)
MERCURY: I must admit. That does make me feel better.
BOX: Yes. Now that those morons are standing over there the arrows will be falling in that general area rather than this one. I have reduced the chances of you and me getting hit by mistake.
MERCURY: No point taking the risk.
BOX: And you, Esteban! You are to stand halfway in between.
MERCURY: Good thinking. He might get hit soon.
BOX: Yes, definitely a candidate. But he deserves a little privilege.
(Esteban walks away but stops halfway in between.)
MERCURY: Alright, let’s see how this new arrangement works. (Long Pause. They stare at SOLDIER 2.Whistle. Arrow. SOLDIER 2. Dies.)
It seems to work. Good.
BOX: Nothing to worry about. It’s OK that we’re not moving.
(Pause. General snores loudly, fidgets, rolls over, goes back to sleep.)
ESTEBAN: Lieutenants. Please forgive me for interrupting, but perhaps we should do something about this. Lieutenant Box had the right idea when he fired that arrow. That was something at least.
MERCURY: Insolent fool! Shut up! We are doing something, can’t you see?
ESTEBAN: Well it’s just that all this standing around is … it’s …
(Whistle. Arrow. ESTEBAN this time. Dies gruesomely. Pause)
BOX: There’s a surprise. They seem to have skipped those four and gone straight for Esteban.
MERCURY: That’s odd. Maybe there’s no order to this.
BOX: Don’t be ridiculous Mercury.
MERCURY: I know it’s a silly thought, but let’s just say for the sake of argument.
BOX: That would mean- Do you mean to imply that our General is now at risk? (They look at the sleeping General.)
MERCURY: I don’t know. I don’t want to say.
BOX: OK, let’s try something. Let’s move him twelve paces to the left.
MERCURY: You don’t seem to get it. Doing that isn’t going to make a difference.
BOX: Give me a moment. I want to try something. (To SOLDIER 8.) Hey you! Come here and move the General twelve paces to the left.
(SOLDIER 8 does this obediently. He drags the bedding.)
Now stand exactly where the General was.
(Soldier 8 does this. Pause.)
MERCURY: Oh I see. (Pause.)
BOX: Yes, this should answer your question.
MERCURY: Good thinking Box. (General snores loudly and fidgets. Long pause.)
SOLDIER 8: My Lieutenants? (Pause. No answer.) My Lieutenants?
BOX: What is it?
SOLDIER 8: Could I- If you would be so kind as to- What I mean to say is-
BOX: What is it, damnit?
SOLDIER 8: Could I- could I please stand somewhere else?
BOX: We are conducting an experiment here. For your own sake I suggest you shut the hell up and stop trying to be so damn clever.
SOLDIER 8: Please my brave, glorious Lieutenants. Just- just five paces away from this spot. I will do (Pause.) double my cooking hours. No- no! triple! I will collect the firewood for the next four moons.
BOX: (Rushes toward SOLDIER 8.) Insolent bitch! I told you to keep your mouth shut! (L. MERCURY rushes and restrains L. BOX)
MERCURY: Not so close Box!
(L. BOX stops without much of a tussle.)
MERCURY: We must keep our distance from him.
(SOLDIER 8 kneels down and starts praying. Desperately. Pause.)
MERCURY: Huh. Look at what he’s doing now. (Pause.) I wonder if that will change anything.
BOX: It might change things.
MERCURY: Should we allow it?
BOX: (Pauses. Thinks.) Yes, Actually. Let’s allow it. (Pause.) I’ve always wanted to know if that works. (To SOLDIER 8.) Keep it up! Don’t stop, you hear?
(SOLDIER 8 keeps praying.)
BOX: These are the perfect circumstances to verify the power of prayer.
MERCURY: Yes. At a time of severe desperation.
MERCURY: He’d better really be praying. The sly bastard better not be jerking us around.
BOX: (To SOLDIER 8.) Are you jerking us around sly bastard? We’ll know it in a flash, you understand? (Pause.) Good.
MERCURY: Plenty of dead bodies here, Box. The General’s going to be upset when he wakes up.
BOX: We’ll tell him they were not with us. He won’t know the difference.
MERCURY: Good idea. No point in upsetting him.
BOX: He already has plenty to worry about.
(They look at the GENERAL.)
MERCURY: Do you think he’ll ever remember the way out of here?
BOX: I don’t want to be stuck here forever.
MERCURY: Perhaps we should wake him up. (Moves toward the GENERAL. Is stopped by L. BOX.)
BOX: No. Let him be. You can’t force these things. (Pause.) He’s incubating. He’s letting all his thoughts and memories incubate so that they will hatch and form a solution.
(Pause. SOLDIER 8 stops praying. Gets up, confident. Almost like a different person.)
MERCURY: Hey! Who told you to stop?
SOLDIER 8: I’m sorry. All this praying made me realize something. (Pause.) Are you any good at music?
SOLDIER 8: No, you wouldn’t be, would you. Sorry for asking.
BOX: We are conducting an experiment imbecile!
MERCURY: Enough of your disobedience!
SOLDIER 8: There’s something I need to do. I need to go get something. Do you mind if I leave for a while?
MERCURY: Hey! I told you to stop being clever with me! Do I have to warn you again?
SOLDIER 8: I’ll be back. (Slowly gathers his quiver and bow from the ground.) Follow me if you like. There’s no reason we have to stay here. We’ll be much harder to hit if we’re on the move.
BOX: How dare you talk to us like that! Where did you get the balls?
(SOLDIER 8 starts leaving.)
MERCURY: Where are you going?
(SOLDIER 8 exits.)
MERCURY: (Shouting in an offstage direction.) Get back here now! Do you want to die? You’ll die on your own out there! You don’t even have a map!
BOX: You hear us? Where the hell will you go without a map?
MERCURY: Let him go. Let him die. What do I care?
BOX: You should care because now we’ll never know.
MERCURY: Never know what?
BOX: The experiment, Mercury.
MERCURY: Oh, that.
BOX: Yes! That!
MERCURY: We’ll just have to forget about it. Idiot thinks he had some sort of an epiphany. (GENERAL snores loudly. Long pause.)
BOX: Should we have followed him? (Pause.)
MERCURY: Probably not. He didn’t have a map.
BOX: Stupid to go anywhere without a map.
MERCURY: Practically suicide.
(GENERAL snores loudly. Rolls over. Changes sleeping position.)
Stay tuned for Act ii
(Play written by Sumeet Banerji)