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Charles Borkhuis, The Man in the Bowler Hat
Charles Borkhuis's The Man in The Bowler Hat is a recently completed two-act play that is loosely based on the paintings of Rene Magritte.
The following scene features the young Rene and Fantomal, a character spawned from the delirious meeting on a dissecting table of two fictitious French criminal geniuses, Fantomas and Maldoror, both of whom Magritte adored.
The Man in the Bowler HatSCENE FIFTEEN: Rene and Fantomal
Rene stands in front of an easel, painting Fantomal, who is wearing a tuxedo, top hat, and a thin black mask over his eyes. Fantomal brings a red rose to his nose and sniffs it.
Ah, exquisite petals of flesh,
these sweet nothings of life.
(He bites a petal from the rose, chews it and spits it out.)
Please, don't move.
Move? Where would I go?
Everywhere and nowhere
I can't be in two places at the same time.
That would offend the principle of contradiction.
Just remember, I'm with you now, as always.
But if I didn't... paint you,
you might remain just another faceless fear.
Painting? What is that harmless intrigue
compared with the divine philosophy
of human torture?
My dear Rene, those who would search me out
need look no further than the thinly veined,
throbbing red firmament,
the flesh of heaven hanging on hooks overhead,
heartless as God's blessing.
But why let yourself be painted?
Ah... possibly a mistake,
a moment of weakness, perhaps.
After all, I'm only human, ha, ha, ha
but with a difference. I do so want the others
to smell, to taste the terror among them
that's closer than their own heartbeat.
In me they see an inversion
of their beliefs, their pathetic prayers and hopes.
I'm the sound of the churning ground
under their feet.
(He bites another petal of the rose and chews it.)
You are, of course, absolutely frightening.
I can hardly control the brush, but please,
if you don't mind, could you stop
playing with that rose and return to your pose?
All right, all right!
(Fantomal assumes his pose.)
I can speak, can't I?
Of course, it's just...
when I get to your lips, you understand.
Rules, rules! The art of the future
will slice your rules to ribbons.
What is a face but a series of slash marks
across the quivering abyss?
No doubt you are correct.
Your horror is absolute and breathtaking.
My painting could never do justice
to a true demon of your rank.
Do not demonize me, Rene.
It's too late for false divisions.
You and I are the products
of a cruel and unjust indifference.
The others cannot comprehend
what suffering we endure.
Let fools pile their sandbags to the sky.
In a world that eats its own young,
there are no protections.
Kindness, compassion, love?
More sanctimonious sandbags on the pile.
Thought? Ha, ha, ha
You'll not think your way out of this one.
The terror awaits you at every turn.
Each new idea, my young friend,
is old by evening.
The moon loves nothing better
than to chop the heads off little mice
with big ideas.
Are you sure you should be telling this
to an impressionable pre-pubescent?
Rene, wake up!
You're old beyond your years.
One day I'll come to devour you.
This day or another, what does it matter?
You have made a pact with a monster,
perhaps in order to save yourself.
But the truth is, you're no different
from any of the others. In the end,
I shall have my way with you.
I'm sorry, I know this is terribly important,
but I'm doing your mouth now.
(Fantomal sneers and hits a final dignified pose.)
(Fade to black.)
Issue No. 16 Copyright © 2002 The Transcendental Friend. All
rights revert to the authors upon publication.