This is the opening scene from a protoRUFUS play I wrote in 2012.

CURTAIN

Morning. A bedroom in a cottage in rural America. RUFUS enters hurriedly, nearly naked, and a little hung over.

RUFUS. I think no one saw me. How did I fall asleep under the kitchen table again? If my mother catches me asleep there!

RUFUS sees himself in a mirror. He pauses to admire the view.

RUFUS, aside. I pause to fluff my hair in the mirror as artistic inspiration comes to me. Then, I remember where my hand has been and instinctively I realize the profound truth of the ancient adage: There’s no telling where that’s been.

RUFUS stops speaking because he hears a noise from under his own bed. It is his mentor hiding under the bed.

DERMOT, from under RUFUS’ bed. Aahh.

RUFUS, aside. Did I just hear someone sigh from under my bed? Hello?

DERMOT. Sigh.

RUFUS. Is someone there?

DERMOT. Me? Am I here?

RUFUS. I guess; yeah, are you under my bed? Who are you? I’m feeling nonplussed. I think I know that voice!

DERMOT. Oh, yes, I’m under your bed, Rufus.

RUFUS. Who are you? Please don’t say that you are my mentor Dermot hiding under my bed!

DERMOT, climbing out from under bed. Hi! Oh, my god, fancy meeting you here! And good morning! I can see yours is really, really good already! You’re such an inspiration, finding Poetry in the most unlikely things. Did you fall asleep under the kitchen table again?

RUFUS, aside. Sometimes the way he says “HI” really nonplusses me.

DERMOT. Hi!

RUFUS. WHAT ARE YOU DONG HERE UNDER MY BED!?

DERMOT. Me?

RUFUS. …uh, yeah, you, I mean, duh.

DERMOT. …duh?

RUFUS. Like, I mean, “Really?” You know.

DERMOT. Did you just use rhetorical air quotations?

RUFUS. Yeah.

DERMOT. Well, to answer your rhetorical question–

RUFUS. I thought one shouldn’t answer a rhetorical question.

DERMOT. I’m the mentor; the mentor can answer rhetorical questions, but the mentee cannot.

RUFUS. Okay, but, like, I mean.

DERMOT. If you are finished mumbling, I’ll explain: Who was it who left his window open last night? Is there some objective standard of behavior for such moments? A mentor walks alone through rural America and sees his mentee’s open window. What is he “supposed” to do? I’m not aware of a universal Code of Behavior… I wasn’t being subversive in ANY way at all. I just, you know, did what was natural.

RUFUS. A code is beside the point!

DERMOT. What is the point?

RUFUS. The point is–

DERMOT. And don’t you really mean “bedside” the point? Hahah!

RUFUS. Don’t pun your way out of this!

DERMOT. Out of what?

RUFUS. Out of here.

DERMOT. Teachable moment.

RUFUS. This isn’t a class!

DERMOT. Teachable moment.

RUFUS. Get out of here!

DERMOT. Teachable moment.

RUFUS. I’m on vacation!

DERMOT. Teachable moment.

RUFUS. Fine!

RUFUS sits on the floor. DERMOT prefers RUFUS sit at his feet, so he steps closer to RUFUS.

DERMOT. Teachable moment: I AM here.

RUFUS. I can see that.

DERMOT. Ninety percent of success in life is not what happens but how we deal with what happens. Our emotional reaction, not the events themselves, dictates success. I want you to be a success, Rufus, but that means you need to have a positive emotional reaction when you see me climb out from under your bed in the morning. I’m interested—

RUFUS. But I’m on vacation.

DERMOT. Vacation or not. I’m interested, and all of posterity is interested, in how you will deal with these new events, Rufus.

RUFUS. But I’m on vacation.

DERMOT. Exactly! You are on vacation, and yet the work of an artist is never done, student mine.

RUFUS. But–

DERMOT. Student mine. Oh, you have so much to learn. God, give me patience! These objective standards you have about windows and beds, for example, they don’t exist, not really, not literally. Rules are agreed upon, and I don’t remember agreeing to your ideas about windows and beds and vacations. Did you ask me NOT to sleep under your bed?

RUFUS. But–

DERMOT. You are being incoherent right now. Some might say you are even being mean spirited. You are definitely not controlling your emotions to ensure you rise above the events in your life. Posterity is watching!

RUFUS. Who?

DERMOT. Posterity. Me and a crowd of witnesses. We are waiting for you to burgeon into a great artist!

RUFUS. There’s no one here; who are you talking about; “we”?

DERMOT. Posterity. I journal about you every night. Posterity is going to look back and see what I can see!

RUFUS. Kevin is your best research assistant; I’m sure you journal about him the most!

DERMOT. Oh, now I see! This is about Kevin! Oh, that’s wonderful. I think that’s sweet.

RUFUS. What is?

DERMOT. You being so jealous of Kevin, my prize research assistant.

RUFUS. I’m not jealous!

DERMOT. Oh, that’s wonderful; you are SO sweet.

RUFUS. Oh, my god!

DERMOT. Don’t be jealous of Kevin. Am I at Kevin’s house right now? Am I helping Kevin develop into a powerful, hardened, sensual artist right now?

RUFUS. But I’m on vacation.

DERMOT. Some would say that your subconscious invited me here into your room to sleep under your bed because of how you left your window open.

RUFUS, aside. I really wanted my “Oh, my god” to express the full despair and, like, depression that I was feeling in the moment—this very moment right now. This literal moment. Right. Here, this one right now: such a feeling of like, you know, how you, like, can’t get out of whatever situation you are in because of how annoying people are, but really they are also, like, your friends so you’re, like, you know, like, you want to be nice but you also just, like, want to, like, be on vacation, or take a shower and your roommate comes in to poo while you are taking the shower and the smell is awful and you are just, like, there, but you want to not be there, for example.

DERMOT. RUFUS?

RUFUS. What?

DERMOT. You looked lost in thought for a moment; go make us some coffee.

RUFUS. You need to leave: if my mom finds you here in my room…

DERMOT. I don’t let your mother define my actions; rather, posterity defines my actions. And, all of posterity is here in this room, literally, with me, right now, waiting to see how you will overcome obstacles and blossom into the super special artist that you are supposed to become.

RUFUS. WHO ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!

DERMOT. You! You silly ass!

RUFUS. No, I mean like who are you talking about by “posterity?”

DERMOT. I don’t know; what do you think? Society? Everyone in the world? All of humanity? How far will your work reach? How many lives will your work touch? Who can say how famous you will become someday when you finish your mentorship with me and begin making important works of art? Small children in Malaysia? Adults in Budapest? Who do you think will be your target market, Rufus?

RUFUS. Oh, god, please don’t start using rhetorical questions.

DERMOT. You did first when you said, “Who” just now, so I don’t think you have any right to demand I not ask my own questions, to you?

RUFUS. I was asking a question!

DERMOT. Maybe your question wasn’t coherent? What was the point?

RUFUS. YOU ARE IN MY ROOM, UNDER MY BED; I’M ON VACATION.

DERMOT. I was just trying to make my own point, too; can’t I be allowed to make my own point as well?

RUFUS. What’s your point?

DERMOT. That posterity will remember this moment right now. This moment matters; this moment is decisive: what you do with this weekend is super special and super, literally, important FOREVER.

RUFUS. What? Like I’ll final break through my existentialism into the, you know, the radical reality of art?

DERMOT. Your potential is so potential, Rufus. You must know that by now!

RUFUS. I was making a point about boundaries and vacation, like, school is here and there is a boundary and there is home life over here.

DERMOT. Oh, and was I not also merely making a point about boundaries, too?

RUFUS. My point was that–

DERMOT. One could almost say “Yes” to my question about whether or not I was, too, trying to make a point. Couldn’t one?

RUFUS. I was making a point about how you shouldn’t be here.

DERMOT. Couldn’t one say “yes” that I too was making a point?

RUFUS. Stop with the rhetorical questions.

DERMOT. What rhetorical questions?

RUFUS, fluffing hair. As an artist, there’s no telling what I’ll be doing at any moment; I cannot have people barging in to my house, or hiding under my bed.

DERMOT. As an “artist.”

RUFUS. Don’t use air quotes to subvert my existential commitments.

DERMOT. Commitments, just like rules, must be agreed upon and I don’t remember being asked about your commitments. Your “boundaries.”

RUFUS. I don’t agree that your “air quotes” mean anything!

DERMOT. You “artists” think you are so special, so capricious.

RUFUS. Caprice is my middle name.

DERMOT. Boundaries are for transgressing; that is rule number one for a modern artist. I would be a terrible mentor if I didn’t obey your subconscious desire for me to climb through your window and sleep under your bed!

RUFUS, aside. I again pause to hint at the profound existence of my even more profound, and hidden, depths of psychic turmoil.

DERMOT. “Caprice” is your middle name; or, caprice is your “middle” name?

RUFUS. Stop using “air quotes” to undermine me.

DERMOT. I think they have obviously “undermined” themselves.

RUFUS, aside. Oh, the agony of just like all of life or whatever it is… I shrug my shoulders to indicate with a simple gesture, the super violence his presence has enacted upon my timid, artistic, not-fully-developed existentialism.

DERMOT. Do you want to know why I obeyed your subconscious and climbed through your window to sleep under your bed?

RUFUS, aside. Oh, sure, now he’ll bribe me into doing whatever crap idea he’s concocted. Always the same: puns, rhetorical questions, bribes, and then flirting. I know all his old teaching tools, yet I wonder when I’ll be ready to graduate from school. I imagine that seeing patterns would be a first step, but every term there are more and more electives I’m required to take.

DERMOT. RUFUS.

RUFUS. Does my mom know you’re here?

DERMOT. I don’t know. Does she?

RUFUS. I don’t know.

DERMOT. Don’t you?

RUFUS. It is hard to say.

DERMOT, giggling. You just said, “It is hard”!

RUFUS. Sigh.

DERMOT. Sigh.

RUFUS. Stop trying to sigh in tandem with me; I’m just, like, just super, I don’t know…

DERMOT. I’m here because I have five thousand dollars for you. For us.

RUFUS. Seriously?

DERMOT. Serious, super serious: totally: five thousand dollars worth of serious.

RUFUS. Seriously?

DERMOT. Oh, totally, seriously. Yes.

RUFUS. If you’re doing, or enacting, violence to me by manipulating me with money…

DERMOT. Don’t you honestly think I could never manipulate you, ever, Rufus?

RUFUS. Yes! Or, no… Was that a question?

DERMOT. See, you’re incoherent again: How am I to understand, naturally, whatever “point” you are making in this “conversation” when you say yes, then no, and then ask me a question.

RUFUS. Just…

DERMOT. Five thousand–

RUFUS. Where?

DERMOT. What?

RUFUS. Where is this money?

DERMOT. What money? You have money?

RUFUS. The money you just said you have.

DERMOT. Me?

RUFUS. God.

DERMOT. I’m known by many names, but that one is, well, new.

RUFUS. Where?

DERMOT. Honestly?

RUFUS. God.

DERMOT. Your mom has it.

RUFUS. You have five thousand dollars for me, but my mommy has it?

DERMOT. You are, and always have been, and will be forever, probably–other than Kevin–my most intuitive pupil.

RUFUS, fluffing hair. Well, I try.

DERMOT. I come to bring order; I come to heal.

RUFUS. I’m on vacation.

DERMOT. You need money; plus, we haven’t planned your next semester yet.

RUFUS. Oh, yeah.

DERMOT. Guess what! Oh, my god, just totally guess what!

RUFUS. Uh.

DERMOT. Nope! Guess again!

RUFUS. Uh, you…

DERMOT. No, you, Rufus. You!

RUFUS. Me.

DERMOT. I’ve seen the important work you are doing.

RUFUS. I give up.

DERMOT. I think you are ready. I should start at the beginning, but I’m so excited: I mentioned a word or two up at administration and they’ve agreed: you ARE ready.

RUFUS. For what?

DERMOT. Basic Art Sexuality. They’re letting you take it. With me. As a special elective-slash-research project.

RUFUS. I don’t have enough electives to take that elective. I would need another few electives to be eligible to take that elective.

DERMOT. That is true for anyone else: most students take Coming Out of the Closet 501 in graduate school first, but you just don’t fit the cliché: you’re special. The administration agrees, and is willing to open up a special one-on-one session for you to learn Basic Art Sexuality. With me. Alone.

RUFUS. Well…

DERMOT. Rufus, isn’t this news great!

RUFUS. Yeah… I mean…

DERMOT. Rufus, what’s the matter? You know we both have wanted this for a few years now.

RUFUS. I’m just, I don’t know.

DERMOT. Is this about me sleeping under your bed last night? I thought I already explained how I was merely responding to your subconscious.

RUFUS. It’s just that I’m on vacation.

DERMOT. And now we can celebrate together about the new class and the money!

RUFUS. There isn’t any money; my mom said I can’t have any more money.

DERMOT. I basically already have the money.

RUFUS. Only my mom’s still holding onto it a little?

DERMOT. Yeah…

RUFUS. Come on.

DERMOT. Teachable moment.

RUFUS. I’m tired.

DERMOT. Teachable moment.

RUFUS. I don’t want to be taught anything right now!

DERMOT. Teachable moment.

RUFUS. Fine!

RUFUS sits at DERMOT’s feet.

DERMOT. Rufus.

RUFUS, aside. I should enact a critique of myself, of my own coherency. I could, like, definitely use the added depth of knowledge and, like, really know like am I being coherent? Do I really mean what I’m saying, because I can’t really seem to like get across to him about what I’m feeling. Usually my emotions are so intuitive to communicate across huge distances, like that time when I was inside looking through a window and my mom was outside on the driveway and she turned back and did what I wanted her to do. Like that. Or am I, like, saying stuff that, like, I don’t, you know, totally really mean or feel or connect with. Because that would explain why he’s so not really like hearing me or whatever.

DERMOT. RUFUS!

RUFUS. Huh?

DERMOT. Do you trust me?

RUFUS. Not really.

DERMOT. Do you want five thousand dollars?

RUFUS. Yes.

DERMOT. Will you trust me enough to get it?

RUFUS. Yes.

DERMOT. Good, I knew I could count on you.

RUFUS. How do we get this money?

DERMOT. I have a plan! You’re going to steal your mom’s cat. We’ll hold it for two days, maybe three at the most, in the woods. She’ll miss it; she’ll look for it. “We” will do this. Then, once she’s really missing the cat, “we’ll” go into the woods and get the cat. “We” will return the cat to your mother. Now, this is super important: immediately after “we” return the cat, immediately, “we” will ask your mother for five thousand dollars. Immediately afterward. I’ll remind you.

RUFUS. Where will you be?

DERMOT. Waiting under your bed? With your subconscious’ permission, of course.

The end.