[The Kalahari Desert. MISSY sits on the ground, her head in her hands, her armpits soaked with sweat. SAMMY squats next to her. The auditorium is filled with the sound of drums and the “rain” dance of the Ju-Hounsi Bushmen.]
MISSY: I stink!
SAMMY: This is “rain.”
MISSY: I really, really stink!
SAMMY: They will do “giraffe” later. It is very funny.
MISSY: I’m gonna make myself puke I stink so bad!
SAMMY: The giraffe is very important to the Ju-Hounsi. Each village has its own “animal celebration.” The giraffe is a healer. [Pause.] You do not stink too bad. I can hardly smell you.
MISSY: Sammy ... I gotta have a bath! A real bath, or I’m gonna vomit! I smell like my dad after he’s been out riding the tractor all day. I know I’m supposed to be experiencing your culture and all, and I don’t mind roughing it, but--
SAMMY: You do not like “rain?”
MISSY: No ... that’s not it at all! It’s fascinating! It really is! It’s just ... I stink so bad I can’t concentrate. I can’t appreciate anything right now. I’m too busy stinking! Can we please go back to the village? Please? Sammy? We’ll come back tomorrow night!
SAMMY: You will miss “giraffe?”
MISSY: You can tell me about it!
SAMMY: That is not the same. You should stay and tell all your friends.
MISSY: I’ll tell them about “rain.”
SAMMY: Your parents would be disappointed.
MISSY: I think I saw some water back there.
SAMMY: They want you to experience Africa!
MISSY: A waterhole or something.
SAMMY: Oh ... you cannot bathe there.
MISSY: Why not?
SAMMY: Too many lions.
SAMMY: Aafaa did not bring your bath this morning?
MISSY: No, he did. He brought it. It’s just that I’m not used to rationing out my water. I’m used to wasting it, you know? I’m used to swimming pools and hot tubs and
SAMMY: No. I do not know.
MISSY: Well, by the time I brushed my teeth and washed my socks and my underwear, I hardly had enough water left to wet the sponge!
SAMMY: You should wash first.
MISSY: I know, but I didn’t want to brush my teeth in bath water. And I was afraid if I brushed my teeth first, my panties would smell like crest.
SAMMY: [Under her breath.] That might be an improvement ...
SAMMY: Nothing. Oh! Watch this!
MISSY: Is this “giraffe?”
SAMMY: No. “Rain.” [They watch the dance in silence. MISSY tries holding her nose.] You see that one over there?
MISSY: Over where?
SAMMY: There. That one. With the Spear.
SAMMY: I think he likes you.
MISSY: How can you tell? [Pause.] Oh my!
SAMMY: He seems very interested.
MISSY: I’ll say.
SAMMY: He is very cute.
[SAMMY begins to rock slowly to the rhythm of the drums. She closes her eyes and lets the music wash over her. A CAT appears. The animal should not actually be present on stage, but should rather be represented by a special lighting effect. Perhaps a tight, red spotlight. The “cat” approaches MISSY.]
MISSY: Oh! A kitty! Come here, Kitty. Come here. It’s okay. I won’t hurt you. [She picks the animal up, strokes its back. It begins to purr contentedly.] There you go. Do you like that? You just needed some attention, huh? Was everybody ignoring you? If you were a giraffe I bet you’d be getting lots of attention! What a good kitty you are. Yes, you are. What’s your name? Do you have a name? You sure are a cute little thing. You want to come back to the village with me? Huh? We could watch out for each other, you know, I could scratch behind your ears, you could show me where all the good watering holes are. You look like you know your way around. I don’t suppose you know where I could find a nice, hot bath, do you? No? Well, it was worth a shot. At the moment, I’d be willing to do just about anything for a bath. I guess I’m talking to the wrong animal though. You don’t have to bathe. You just lick yourself clean. I may have to try that. Yes, I may have to-- [MISSY suddenly realizes that the dancing has stopped. She freezes. SAMMY is sitting very still.] Why is everyone staring at us?
SAMMY: I don’t ... [Notices the cat.] Oh!
[Enter BUSHMAN. He stops a short distance from MISSY. Studies her. Turns back to the others and makes a series of short clicking sounds.]
SAMMY: Put it down.
MISSY: What’s he saying?
SAMMY: They think you’re a witch.
MISSY: What?! I’m not a witch! Why do they think I’m a witch?!
SAMMY: Put it down.
MISSY: Whatthe cat?
MISSY: But it’s just a--
SAMMY: Put it down! Only a witch will pick up a strange cat!
MISSY: Oh. Woops. [MISSY drops the cat.] Go away, Kitty! Go away! See! I’m not a witch! I’m just a stupid person! Really! [The CAT rubs against MISSY’S leg, purring loudly.] Go away! Shoo!
[Suddenly, the BUSHMAN darts towards MISSY, trying to shoo the cat away. MISSY screams. THE BUSHMAN screams. He jumps back and crouches down low.]
SAMMY: Why did you do that?!
MISSY: Do what?!
SAMMY: You scared him!
MISSY: I scared him?! Would you please tell him I’m not a witch! [SAMMY makes a series of clicks. THE BUSHMAN responds and mimes petting the cat.] What’d he say?
SAMMY: Yes you are.
[THE BUSHMAN directs another series of clicks offstage.]
MISSY: What’s he saying now?
SAMMY: He says the cat has possessed your soul. You have embraced the darkness.
MISSY: What?! That’s ridiculous! How could I embrace the darkness?! I don’t even like Halloween! Seriously, I used to binge really bad! I’d eat all my candy in one night! Bags and bags of little Snickers bars and tootsie rolls! I almost choked to death one Halloween on a Bit-O-Honey, so I have some bad associations with-- [THE BUSHMAN motions for MISSY to sit.] Okay. Sure. No problem. I’ll just sit right here. [THE BUSHMAN exits. He returns almost immediately carrying a hot coal between two sticks. He offers the coal to MISSY.] What’s that?
SAMMY: A rock from the fire.
MISSY: Oh ... that’s very pretty.
SAMMY: He wants you to take it.
MISSY: It looks hot.
[THE BUSHMAN clicks.]
SAMMY: If you are a witch, it won’t hurt.
MISSY: No. Thank you. Really. [THE BUSHMAN insists. MISSY puts her hand near the rock but does not touch it.] Ooh! Ouch! Owwie! [Pause.] I burn easy. [To SAMMY.] Help me! [SAMMY and THE BUSHMAN converse. SAMMY seems quite taken with THE BUSHMAN. Her clicks become more flirtatious. THE BUSHMAN likes this. They both laugh.] What? What is it? What’s so funny?
SAMMY: He says he likes you, so you can have the water test instead.
MISSY: Oh! The water test! Yes! YES!!! Thank you! Water! That sounds much better!
SAMMY: The Ju-Hounsi have water even in long droughts.
MISSY: They must be very resourceful! [To the BUSHMAN.] The water test will be just fine. Thank you very much.
SAMMY: He will hold you under--
MISSY: Hold me under?!
SAMMY: That’s right. Until you cannot breathe. And if you are a witch--
MISSY: Now hold on! Hold it right there! I am not a witch! You got that?! I’ve seen The Wizard of Oz! I know what a witch looks like, and it’s not very flattering to be mistaken for one! So you can take that rock and ... and ... stick it up your ... [The BUSHMAN has prostrated himself on the ground.] What’s he doing?
SAMMY: He thinks you have put a curse on him.
SAMMY: Yes. Keep talking.
MISSY: Oh ... ahh ... okay ... I’ll ... I’ll get you, my pretty! And your little dog too! [Suddenly MISSY charges THE BUSHMAN, waving her arms in the air and making all kinds of strange noises. He cowers, clicking like crazy.] What’s he saying now?
SAMMY: He says the cat has given you great powers.
MISSY: That’s right, buddy! GREAT powers!
SAMMY: He says he can smell the stench of evil.
MISSY: The stench of evil! That’s right! Wait a second ... that’s me! He smells me! Oh my god! I knew it! I told you I stink!
SAMMY: He also says you have enchanted him.
MISSY: What ... what does he mean by that?
SAMMY: He thinks you’re a hottie.
MISSY: Really? [SAMMY nods.] You think I’m a hottie? [The BUSHMAN nods, still cowering. MISSY grins.] He is kind of cute.
SAMMY: Yes, he is.
[SAMMY clicks. The BUSHMAN nods.]
MISSY: What did you say?
SAMMY: I told him you wish to be free of the cat’s evil curse. [The BUSHMAN clicks.] He wants to know what he can do to help?
MISSY: Water! Tell him I need water! I ... I have to wash away this evil spell!
[SAMMY clicks. THE BUSHMAN nods.]
SAMMY: He will bring water.
[The BUSHMAN turns to exit.]
MISSY: Tell him to have his friends bring it. Tell him he has to stay here to protect us from the cat! [SAMMY clicks. The BUSHMAN nods.] Okay, let’s have some dancing! I want to see “giraffe!” [SAMMY clicks and the dancing resumes. The BUSHMAN sits on the ground between MISSY and SAMMY. MISSY takes one arm. SAMMY takes the other. The BUSHMAN grins widely.] This is “giraffe?”
SAMMY: Yes. This is “giraffe.”
MISSY: [She laughs.] You’re right! It is funny!