1.5 Print & Copy
written by Eli Barraza
directed & produced by Mischa Stanton
[[SFX: Peri rifles through papers at the kitchen table.]]
PERI: Horace, age 9. Horace age 3. Horace age 15. Me age 10 oh god why did I look like that? Ugh, Mo, we may have to burn this one.
[[SFX: Peri chucks the photo to the side.]]
PERI: Ace, age 17 okay we’re getting there...Horace. Age 19. Me, age 15. “Palm trees don’t smell like anything.” That was the first thing I said after we finished the last bit of driving. “Palm trees don’t smell like anything.” Ugh. Okay, there’s gotta be something more recent than that train wreck of a trip.
[[SFX: She continues going through photos.]]
PERI: Age 2, age 17, age 14 and a half, oof, these are terribly organized. Oh and here! Horace, age 24. Hm. I don’t remember this photo being taken. I guess I wasn’t there... I never went to look at his boat. He looks so serious and tired. I guess that works since if he’s still… he’ll look older now. So it’s good he looks older in this photo.
[[SFX: Peri sets it down the box of photos]
[[SFX: Underground trains pass by.]]
HORACE: Our train should be here any minute.
HORACE: At least the car broke down when we got here.
PERI: And now we’re gonna take the subway in earthquake country.
HORACE: They haven't had a big one in years.
PERI: They’re overdue.
HORACE: We won’t have to use the subway the whole time. Repairs should only take a day or two.
PERI: If this Norman is to be believed.
HORACE: Hey, he seemed like a trustworthy mechanic.
PERI: With a serial killer name.
HORACE: So what if repairs take a little longer? We were planning on staying here for about a week anyway.
PERI: I’m gonna stay in the hotel the entire time.
HORACE: I booked a motel.
PERI: First Norman and now a motel? Are you trying to get us killed?
HORACE: Nah, just you, I was gonna hit the road after dropping you off.
PERI: Didn’t even need a knife to stab me in the back apparently.
HORACE: Figured I’d leave that to Norman.
PERI: I want to go home.
HORACE: Peri, I planned this whole thing so we could explore someplace that didn’t smell like a fisherman’s boots.
PERI: Now we can inhale car exhaust instead. If we ever get out of this godforsaken tunnel.
HORACE: I will take you somewhere with fresh air, scout’s honor.
PERI: But we don’t have a car.
HORACE: That’s why we’re waiting for the train.
PERI: I hate trains.
HORACE: For the love of- fine. We’ll take the train to the motel, drop off our stuff and then I’ll figure out how to rent a car.
[[SFX: The train pulls up.]]
PERI: Our train is here.
[[SFX: She stands and walks to the doorway.]]
HORACE: Peri, hold on a second, let me make sure we have everything.
PERI: Hurry up, I don’t want to have to wait thirty minutes for the next one.
[[SFX: The door opens and she brushes by someone.]]
PERI: Excuse me.
[[Sound: She steps on board and more people follow.]]
[[SFX: The train doors close. Horace yells through the glass.]]
PERI: Ace?! Ace!
[[SFX: She presses against the window and bangs on it.]]
[[SFX: Peri walks down the sidewalk of a town. Crows caw.]]
PERI: Where is everyone?
[[SFX: She walks by a park, a lonely swing set creaks as a child sits. Peri makes her way over.]]
PERI: Okay, you’re gonna ask that mom if there’s a print & copy and she’s going to point you in the right direction and you’re gonna walk away. Moms are safe to ask questions.
[[SFX: She walks closer to the mother.]]
PERI: Um, hi, sorry to bother but is there a print and copy store nearby?
[[SFX: The mother doesn’t respond.]]
PERI: Ah, hm, hello? I don’t mean to--
MOTHER: It’s a few blocks west.
PERI: Uh, thank you.
[[SFX: The swingset creaks as Peri walks away.]]
PERI: Walk away walk away walk away you’re walking away you’re okay you’re away from the creepy mom and her creepy child you’re okay you’re walking away.
[[SFX: The door chimes as Peri pushes it open.]]
OSCAR: ¿Cómo puedo ayudarle?
PERI: Um, hola ...Oscar? Oh gosh, I don’t have a name tag. Lo siento, me llamo Peri. Or, um, Peri? Yo, yo necesito... to make some copies? Por favor.
OSCAR: The copier is just over there.
PERI: I don’t know how to use a big one.
OSCAR: What do you need copied?
PERI: Just one page.
[[SFX: Peri hands over the page.]]
OSCAR: Horace, your sister is looking for you?
PERI: Um, yeah.
OSCAR: No phone number?
PERI: I don’t have one that works.
OSCAR: How is he supposed to find you?
PERI: I didn’t get that far.
OSCAR: Maybe you should have before you started making signs.
PERI: I know.
PERI: I know, but I have no clue what I’m doing and this was the best I could come up with because then at least he’d know I was looking, okay? So please can I just get some copies?
OSCAR: Follow me.
[[SFX: Oscar makes his way around the counter and heads to the copier and Peri follows. He pushes a button.]]
OSCAR: Color or black and white?
PERI: I need a lot so black and white is fine.
[[SFX: Oscar punches in directions.]]
OSCAR: How many?
PERI: How much do they cost?
PERI: Uh, 200?
[[SFX: Oscar punches in 200 into the machine.]]
OSCAR: Lotta people gone.
OSCAR: In town. Lotta people just gone. Maybe your brother was one of them.
PERI: I’m not from around here.
[[SFX: The printer spits out copies.]]
OSCAR: What makes you think you can find him in a town you’re not even from.
PERI: I, uh, go a lot of places. I thought I could put up flyers all over.
PERI: Did you…
PERI: Do you know any of the people that left here?
PERI: Oh. Sorry.
OSCAR: Two kids. My kids. Petra and Armando.
PERI: Nice names.
OSCAR: She called him Armadillo.
OSCAR: She used to roll him up in blankets. He screamed when it got too hot and their mother would yell at them "Mi hija, stop putting your brother in blankets" and Petra would say "He is not my brother, he is an armadillo hiding from the Great Pterodactyl."
PERI: What would , what would you say?
OSCAR: Nothing. I would be sitting on the porch, listening. A part of me wanted peace and quiet with my beer. My job at the time… it was unrelenting on my mind. But I always smiled when I heard them. I was the one who gave them the books about dinosaurs and baby armadillos. There was a garage sale in a neighborhood I drove through. The family was moving away and selling all of their books, four for a dollar. They were the first of the families to leave. How did they know? How did they know this place would soon be a corn husk of a town, not even a kernel left for the crows?
OSCAR: I wish I had gone inside. I wish I had scooped up my son into my arms, asking aloud donde esta Armadillo? Donde? I wish I had asked my daughter, Kind Pterodactyl, will you fly over the desert and help me find Armadillo? The blanket bundle would wiggle and my daughter would proclaim "Papa! Papa, he’s right there!!" Then their mother would grow big and say "Perfect! For I am the Coyote and I wish to eat the Armadillo!" My daughter would run and hit her mother's legs with her tiny fists shouting "No no! You cannot eat Armando! He is mi hermanito!" And...and I didn’t do that. I didn’t go inside. I just passively enjoyed the sounds of my family but I did nothing to add to the choral cacophony.
[[SFX: The printer prints out the last few pages.]]
OSCAR: Now I am here and they are gone and all I have is the hum of my own inaction.
[[SFX: The printer finishes and quiets.]]
PERI: I… I’m not sure what to say.
OSCAR: There’s nothing more to say. Just pay for your copies and go. Better to be the one that leaves than it is to be the one that stays.
[[SFX: He picks up the papers from the copier and carries them over to the counter, dropping them down with a smack.]]
OSCAR: The card reader isn’t working. I should have checked if you had cash.
PERI: Um, that’s okay. I brought some.
[[SFX: She digs through her bag while Oscar picks up a sheaf of paper.]]
OSCAR: This is not your brother.
OSCAR: How did you get this photo?
PERI: I don’t…
OSCAR: This isn;t your brother, this is Petra and Armando…
[[SFX: He picks up another flyer.]]
OSCAR: And Marguerita.
[[SFX: He picks up more flyers.]]
OSCAR: This is my neighbor, that’s the head librarian, how do you have these pictures… they’re the ones who…
PERI: I, I think I think I should go now. Sorry to waste the paper, keep them.
OSCAR: Renaldo, your sister is looking for you. Anna, su hija la esta buscando. Gordon, your friends are looking for you.
[[SFX: Peri makes a break for the door, wrenching it open and running out onto the sidewalk. The door shuts behind her.]]
PERI: You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay.
[[SFX: The print and copy door opens.]]
OSCAR: HESPERIA. RUTH IS LOOKING FOR YOU.
The Far Meridian
Created and written by Eli Barraza, directed and produced by Mischa Stanton.
Performed by Eli Barraza as Peri, Noah Gildermaster as Ace, Eddie Santiago as Oscar, and Stephanie Sheh as the Mother. Music by The Album Leaf.
For more information and links to support the show, go to TheFarMeridian.com, or find us on social media @TheFarMeridian.
We’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, may you always find your way.