Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nightmares Don't Always End When You Awaken

In Our Last Episode: On an otherwise uneventful day at the Kewl Beanz! nightclub/lounge/coffeehouse owned by the creative duo of Simpson & Lynch, manager (and occasional barmaid) Tara King is startled when the young man she has known for roughly four or five years as "Kato" introduces himself to customer Milo Fenderbender as "Luke." Before Tara has a chance to ask Luke to explain the sudden switch, Luke retreats to the kitchen, where he recalls an ugly verbal argument with his grandfather that occurred eight or nine years earlier.

Scene One: Tara and Luke return to the offices & living quarters at Simpson/Lynch Studios. Tara helps the visibly-upset Luke to his room, where she uncharacteristically resists all impulses to demand explanations, instead watching as her emotionally-shaken, exhausted friend flops upon his bed, and quickly falls into a troubled sleep...

A sleep in which Luke dreams.

Luke's dream repeats his earlier, waking thoughts of his fateful argument with his grandfather eight or nine years previously, but this time there is no Tara to interrupt the progression of these horrible memories.

* * * * *

Scene Two (Luke's Dream, in progress): The Boston, Massachusetts living room of the elderly Mr. Tian, Chinese-born grandfather of the then-teenaged Xu-Ning Tian, known as "Luke."

Mr. Tian has expressed concerns about Luke's "hoodlum" friends in high school, adding pointedly that many of them are of Japanese descent. Luke responds angrily, accusing his grandfather of being a racist who effectively lives in the past. Luke's point is that the Second World War ended half a century earlier, and he implies that his grandfather should put its events behind him, sarcastically adding "The Japanese lost, by the way."

Mr. Tian (struggling to keep his composure): Grandson, you mock Chinese traditions, although your father and I have never forced those upon you, deciding instead to raise you as an American. The only traditions, as such, that we have attempted to instill in your mind are those of respect for your elders, and for the name of Tian itself. Those are hardly teachings of the Chinese people alone, and I have never claimed otherwise. And yet, you speak with disdain of our family history, especially my own. There is much you do not know, things your father and I have never shared with you because of your youth, and even many details of which your father is not aware.

Luke (calming down somewhat): Look, grandfather... I know enough. I know the Japanese screwed up your left arm when you were about my age, and I know that they killed my grandmother in the waning days of the war. I'm not trying to make light of any of that awful stuff, really! But you blame the whole damned country of Japan, even today, not to mention those Japanese born and raised here in America... and that's just crazy. (pause) Sorry. I didn't mean that. (pause) But it's still wrong.

Mr. Tian (firmly): I can excuse -- and thus endure -- your youthful ignorance... but not your insulting, disrespectful words, nor your profanities. Especially in my own home.

Luke (bristling): Oh, so now I'm "ignorant?"

Mr. Tian: Not in the colloquial sense of "stupidity," but in the most literal sense... that of being uninformed... yes. (long pause) My countrymen, my own family, myself, and my cherished, departed wife all endured unspeakable treatment at the hands of those invaders. I cannot and will not ever dismiss such horrors with a flippant comment such as "that war ended." And if that leads you to brand me so casually as "crazy," and label me "racist," then... let it be so.

Luke (losing his self-control once again): Oh, this is [expletive deleted] incredible! You admit it! (pause) I am so [expletive deleted] disappointed in you, old man! (pause) And you wanna know something else? My buddies don't even call me "Luke!" They call me "Kato!" Maybe I should change my stupid name from Tian to that! (Luke sees the rage build on his grandfather's face, as he taunts his grandfather even more.) Maybe I should change it to "Kato Kato!" Double the insult!

Mr. Tian (shouting): You dare to...?!? What have your parents or I ever done to create such an ungrateful, disrespectful, spiteful little monster?!? You horrid child!

Luke turns his back on Mr. Tian and walks toward the front door.

Luke: [Expletive deleted] this, man! I am so outta here!

Luke exits, slamming the door as he leaves. Mr. Tian slowly rises, and walks to the nearby telephone on trembling legs.

* * * * *

Scene Three: The Pleasantview, Alabama home of Vickie Wickie, in the present. Vickie answers a knock on the door. Milo Fenderbender stands there.

Vickie: Nice timing. I was just about to call you. (Vickie walks into her living room; Milo follows.) I finally made those photocopies of the SnL personnel files, like I promised, and told that airhead receptionist of theirs that I was taking some work home with me.

Milo: Great timing. The Foxster may still be in the hospital, but that Chinese guy, Kato, is back! Only -- and this is really weird -- when he walked into Kewl Beanz!, Tara started to introduce me to him, and he said for me to call him "Luke."

Vickie (handing Milo a large folder filled with paperwork): "Luke?" What the hell...?

Milo (taking the folder from Vickie): Don't ask me. I only knew it was the same guy from those photos of the staff that you gave me a few weeks ago.

Vickie (smiling): Yeah, that and the fact that this crummy town doesn't have too many gooks living here!

Milo: Oh, crank it down a notch, will you? You needn't be so crass. (Vickie gives Milo a sour look, but for once, says nothing.) There are plenty of reasons to hate people as individuals, I always say.

Vickie: Good for you, Mister-Freaking-Tolerance. "Say" it on your way home, and then call all the gutter rats and informants you still know from your long-gone lawyer days! I want whatever dirt you can find on the whole Simpson/Lynch crew... and start with your little "target," Tara! (muttering, more to herself than to Milo) Little slut has the nerve to put her paws on me...

Milo (heading for the door): On my way. I'm gonna love seeing what I can dig up! (Milo exits.)

* * * * *

Scene Four (Luke's Dream, continued): The Boston home where Luke lives with his parents, Ka-Meng Tian (known as "Alan") and Soo-Har Lee (known as "Susan"). It is an hour or more after Luke's confrontation with his grandfather.

Luke enters the kitchen via the rear entrance to his home. He walks to the refrigerator and opens it. His mother rushes into the room, looking frightened.

Susan: Luke! You have to leave, now, before your father catches you! He's furious!

Luke (closing the refrigerator door): Okay, take it easy, Mom. (brief pause) Lemme guess. Grandfather called, right?

Susan (nodding): Of course, what did you expect? You've got to give your dad time to calm down! I've never seen him like this in all the years I've known him. I'm honestly afraid of what he'll do if...

Alan enters the kitchen.

Alan: Don't worry, Susan... I won't lay a hand on him, regardless of how much he deserves it. But Luke and I are going to talk. (pause) Now.

Susan (fearfully): Do you promise?

Alan: Yes, dear. For your sake above all else. Now, please... Leave us to talk?

With one last nervous glance at Luke, Susan exits.

Luke: Look, Dad...

Alan: Shut your mouth. Every right you've ever had in this household vanished when you insulted your grandfather. My father.

Luke: Can I... Do you want me to sit down for this?

Alan: Quite frankly, Luke, I couldn't care less. (Luke remains standing.) Now. Don't say another word.

* * * * *

Scene Five: Luke's bedroom, in the present time. Luke opens his eyes, as Tara's voice plaintively calls his name. He lies on the bed; Tara is standing next to the bed, bending over him.

Luke: Tara...?

Tara: Of course. Who else would it be? I'm sorry I woke you, but you were having a nightmare...

Luke: How long was I asleep?

Tara: Almost two hours. But you started tossing and turning... even sweating... and I thought...

Luke (sitting up): You were right to wake me. (pause) I want to tell you everything. The sooner, the better.

Tara: Ummm... This is obviously urgent, but could it possibly be postponed for just an hour or two? (pause) I have to get to the hospital, to see David. (Tara smiles slightly.) He's probably terrorizing those poor nurses, wondering where I am.

Luke (getting off of the bed): Good idea, actually. I'll go with you. There's something important I need to discuss with him, as well.

Tara and Luke exit.

To Be Continued...


  1. WOW.... to see my mom's name , Soo-Har Lee, WOW. thank you so much!

    Oh, if I am the father or the grand father, Luke will end up worst than a Kato. lol


    p.s please do whatever you want to with the award. It is a token of friendship from me.

    p.s bdw, grandpa is from China right? so , should it not be China born? He is definitely Chinese but Chinese born? Now, I am

    Happy Wednesday and Thursday!



  2. @Shakira: Hm. We didn't state the first name of Mr. Tian (Luke's grandfather), but it certainly isn't "Shakira!" So don't worry about Luke's future. ;-)

    As far as the "Chinese-born" thing, in colloquial English, we usually refer to people that way, so I stuck with it. For example, I was born in America (the USA), so I am referred to as "American-born" rather than "America born." So Mr. Tian, born in China, is Chinese, but "Chinese-born." Luke is Chinese in the ethnic sense, although born in America. He would probably be referred to as an "American-born Chinese man," or the like! It can be confusing... but not so much as the rules governing Chinese names, eh? ;-)