The Crumbling Castle, Part 2
A capricious drama by Thorin N. Tatge


PHILIP: A weary and brazen, yet deep-hearted protagonist.
ZELDA: A hypertalkative character who should have stayed in her own script.
SCRUB: A scrubberwoman who rules a castle from behind the scenes.

Enter STAINER, WASHER, and ARRANGER.  Each performs his or her appellative task, and continues when not speaking throughout the scene.  Enter PHILIP, who addresses the audience from center stage.
PHILIP: Hello.  My name is Philip, and unlike these servants, I knew a life before this castle you see me in.  Very recently, in fact.  I only came here two days ago… but I have to keep reminding myself that two days isn’t very long.  It seems like so long, now that I’m trapped here.  The people who live in this castle must feel like immortals.
WASHER: I tell you, this tile has been stained for as long as I can remember!  Week in and week out, I fold out of bed, get into my working gear, and plod on over here, just to wipe at this stain for hours and hours.  No one ever cares that I don’t get any work done, just so long as I’m working.  No one ever seems to care that no matter how clean we make the castle, it dirties itself up again while we sleep.  It’s always something new, too… never the same two things dirty twice.  I bet you’ve never seen a piece of upholstery start to rust, or a mirror grow mold.  That’s what we have to contend with…but I never get a chance to start on them, since I can’t even begin to get this confounded tile clean!
STAINER: Just dab on a little white toothpaste, that’ll get rid of it.
WASHER: Really?
STAINER: Sure, let me handle that.  (Wipes the stain clean)
WASHER: It—it worked!  Well, thanks!  I guess I’ll go wash something else, then.
STAINER: Have fun!
(WASHER goes to a different place and starts washing.)
ARRANGER (muttered): You’ll be missing that stain by morning, old codger.
PHILIP: Even though they can only keep the castle clean one day at a time, for some reason, they’re cleaning it today.  I guess they’re expecting a visitor.
Enter SCRUB.
SCRUB: Keep up the pace, everyone!  There’s company expected for dinner!
ARRANGER: What company?  The doors are closed!  The guards are working double duty!  Who could we possibly be expecting?
SCRUB: Well, not a dinner guest, that’s for certain.  What’s the opposite of a dinner guest?
PHILIP: Um… a door-to-door salesman?
SCRUB: Why yes, that would make sense!  I guess we must be expecting a salesman.  Or a saleswoman, as the case may be.  Well, make the appropriate preparations.
WASHER: What are the appropriate preparations?  Should we get out our checkbooks?
STAINER: Or our firearms?
ARRANGER: Or maybe we should get in the first punch, and try to sell him stuff!
STAINER: Yeah!  The moment he knocks on the door, we launch into our pitch… if we’re good enough, we can sell him the whole castle!
ARRANGER: I’m sure Mr. Melvin wouldn’t mind… but Mrs. Scrub might.
STAINER: Yes, she finds Melvin so easy to control… another gem like him won’t just come a knocking.
WASHER: Let’s be sensible, friends.  I guess we’ll just have to politely invite the salesman in, but say no to whatever he’s selling.
STRAINER: I guess… but that’s so boring.
ARRANGER: Yes… well, sometimes boredom is our only weapon.  I think we’re done here.
WASHER: Yes, let’s get going.
PHILIP: Wait… where are you going?  Aren’t you going to stay?  You know… to answer the—
(Knock on the door.)
PHILIP:—door?  Uh-oh.  (Goes to door.)  Who’s there?
ZELDA (off-stage): Hi!  My name is Zelda.  Can I come in?
PHILIP: Well, I guess since no one else is here, I might as well let you in.
ZELDA enters.
ZELDA: Thanks.  You don’t know how hard it is to talk to people like those guards.  You can’t quote figures at them!  You just can’t!  You know why?  Because half the time they remember them?  They throw them back at you later on and then what do you do, I ask you?  You just can’t talk to people like that.
PHILIP: I’m sorry… what did you say you were selling?
ZELDA: Oh, I didn’t say it yet.
PHILIP: Well, are you selling anything?
ZELDA: Why, do you want to buy something?
PHILIP: Not really, but…
ZELDA: I hope it’s not important whether I actually have it or not.  I hate it when people want to actually receive the things they buy.  Don’t they know you can’t take it with you?  It’s better to have it shipped ahead of time!
PHILIP: Wait—you mean, to heaven?
ZELDA: Sure, to heaven.  Although that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.  After all, this place used to be heaven once.  Now look at it.
PHILIP: It used to be…?
ZELDA: I’m not kidding you.  This was where all the good people went, while they were still alive!  All it took was to buy some of my cookies.  I swear, it was the best plan on earth.  We would’ve made this place into a vision!  A real vision of grandiose glory.  Go ahead, ask me what went wrong.
PHILIP: Um… what went wrong?
ZELDA: I’ve got three words for you—Proofs… Of… Purchase!
PHILIP: Proofs of purchase?  What do you…?
ZELDA: Yeah, it turns out it’s logically impossible to prove your own purchase without using a circular argument.  So all the little seals on the boxes turned out to be void—look, I don’t want to talk about it.  Do you want to buy some hats or should I sell you some instead?
PHILIP: Hats?  You’re selling hats?
ZELDA: I’m selling hats, bub.  All kinds, all flavors.  Hats to make you seem important, hats to make you be important.  Hats to make to you seem to be seeming important without the hassle of being it.  That sort of thing.
PHILIP: Thanks, but I think there’s already more than enough surreal status games in this castle… we could do without your hats.  Beside, I don’t see any hats.  Where are you carrying them?
ZELDA: Carrying them?  I’ve got them all right here, in my hand.
ZELDA: Look.  What do you think of when I say “Hat?”
PHILIP: I think of something you wear on your head.
ZELDA: Exactly.  Not something your head is worn on—not something you wear somewhere else… in short, an object such that for every point on the object, that point is above some point on your head.  Am I right?
PHILIP: I suppose you’re right…
ZELDA: Well then, these are the ideal hats!  Ever gone to a party where you wanted to come off as a really slippery, suave kind of degenerate guy?
ZELDA: Sure you have!  Well, these are the perfect degenerate hats!  They have no mass, and therefore contain no points above or below your head, and therefore satisfy the above-your-head rule!  And they don’t come any more degenerate than this!  I’ve got sixteen different colors, too… do you like ribbons?
PHILIP: Let me say this only once, to make sure you understa—no wait.  Let me say this twice, to make absolutely sure you understand.  I am not buying any of your merchandise.
PHILIP: I am not buying any of your merchandise.  No one here is.  You’re being turned down.  Final answer.
ZELDA: But if you don’t consume, how will you renew your consumer’s license?
PHILIP: My what?
ZELDA: If you stop being a consumer, you’ll have to be a producer, and that means trying to go out and make money, and that means trying to find consumers to pay your for it, directly or indirectly, and that means depending on people like you, and if I were you, I’d never depend on myself to support myself!  Or—what I meant to say is, if you were me, you’d have to depend on yourself pretending to be you in order to save yourself from depending on me to—
PHILIP slams the door.  ZELDA hmmphs! and stomps off stage.
PHILIP: Well, that was fun.  I guess.
Enter SCRUB.
SCRUB: Oh, hello, Philip, dear.  Where is our guest?  It’s nearly time for dinner, and we haven’t been rudely interrupted yet.
PHILIP: I’m sorry… it was a saleswoman.  I turned her away.
SCRUB: You did??  Philip!  We were waiting especially to eat dinner with her!  We need new faces around here!  We can’t get along on only seeing ourselves, every day of every week!
PHILIP: Anabelle and I are new here.
SCRUB: You’ve been here for nearly two days!  You’re like old relations by now.
PHILIP: Excuse me?
SCRUB: Old relations that are hard to get rid of.  I do wish you would stop causing trouble, Phil… oh, I say!  Where did that old stain on the wall go?
PHILIP: I’m sure I have no idea.  Wait—I think the Stainer and the Washer got rid of it.
SCRUB: Oh!  Well, I was fond of it… but I guess since we’re starved for change, this will have to do.  I’ll make sure to invite the Stainer and Washer to dinner!
PHILIP: Yes, well.  I suppose I could have tried to follow that saleswoman out… maybe I could have escaped.  But I didn’t want to leave my sister Anabelle here… and moreover, I’m just not ready to go, yet.  I came here for a kind of glory… and I haven’t found it yet.  But if this castle used to be a kind of heavenly spire… well, there must be some remnants of that left over.  Maybe everyone went off to a real heaven and left this place deserted.  If so, there’s probably a way to follow.  Maybe I’ll start by checking the hat room.

The End