NOVEMBER, 2021—JANUARY, 2022
CELEBRATION FOR SIMPLE
Celebration For Simple
Sunny and no clouds.
A single story, cinderblock home, rectangular and flat. Painted red with green trim.
Gravel driveway has a LITTER OF KITTENS wobbling around.
KITTEN #1 strays to side of the house and finds a laundry vent.
KITTEN #2 is already warming at the vent. They lay together.
OUT OF VENT A WOMAN’S VOICE COMES ECHOEY with puffs of hot air
in the cold.
The wooden door is closed on the cramped bathroom with only toilet, washer and dryer. No shower or sink.
KINDNESS, 47, mint green nurses scrubs and strong arms, is standing over a running washing machine hammering on a typewriter.
She speaks in rhythm with punches of keys.
KINDNESS stops typing to think.
THE MEWS OF THE NESTING KITTENS COMES THROUGH VENT AMPLIFIED BY
KINDNESS continues to hammer words onto page in green ink.
SIMPLE's 7-year-old fingers wriggle into crack beneath the bathroom door. He is laying flat as possible on the other side.
SIMPLE's mouth under the door.
The back of the house is dirt brown.
SIMPLE kicks open the screen door and spreads his arms like wings. He is short for his age about 3 1/2 feet tall. He is wearing muddied corduroy overalls over knit sweater and a cab hat with holes in it. Curly brown hair poking out of hat. Grey eyes. Snow boots.
SIMPLE flaps his arms and runs down the sloped cement pathway leading straight onto skinny metal dock jutting far into blue lake.
Races to end of the long dock and slides on his knees to untie a small tin fishing boat.
SUBJECT'S POINT OF VIEW:
A four foot SUBJECT waddles on sidewalk parallel to store fronts.
SUBJECT looks into a store front window. There is a miniature locomotive scene. Engine choo-chooing. Cotton balls on fishing line for snow. Peanut shells that have faces painted on them to represent people.
A girl named TRUCY, 9, wearing raincoat disposable plastic bonnet and rain boots, exits a store and points at SUBJECT.
MOTHER comes out of store.
Halts in tracks.
SUBJECT looks around. PASSERSBY on the street are staring at them.
ELDERLY MAN riding a bicycle breaks short in road. Nearly goes topside over handle bars. He uses hand as visor to clear eyes of the sunlight.
Points at SUBJECT.
BACK TO SCENE
All stores are decorated for Christmas. Archways of red ribbon and lights connect street lamps across road.
DELIVERY PENGUIN (SUBJECT) waddles fast down Main Street sidewalk. They are wearing a blue button down short sleeve shirt EMBROIDERED POSTAL SERVICE LOGO OVER POCKET that goes all the way to the ground. Leather work boots stick out from beneath the shirt.
DELIVERY PENGUIN stomps passed a STUNNED MAN and turns into alleyway.
DELIVERY PENGUIN stumbles into woods behind the shops on Main Street.
DELIVERY PENGUIN navigates woods carefully to not trip. Awkward with clunky boots and legs so limited.
DOCTOR, 60, well composed hair, sits at operating table in a white lab coat and blue scrubs. He has a surgical tray on the padded table. It is full of partially smoked cigarettes.
DOCTOR glances at digital clock on wall with bright red display that reads 4:14 PM.
Opens fresh pack of cigarettes. THE BRAND IS FAME. It says so on the navy blue box. The cigarettes are silver with a dividing black stripe at filter. DOCTOR puts one in his mouth.
Clock turns to 4:15.
DOCTOR lights cigarette using matchbook and takes massive inhale of Fame. Ember becomes long and pointy. Exhales.
There are layers of blurry scribbling done in permanent marker on the thumb muscle of DOCTOR's hand going down wrist into sleeve of coat. Dates, times of day and peoples names smudged.
The clock says 4:17.
Ashes cig into tray. Takes drag.
A note typed in green ink slides under the door.
DOCTOR scrambles to get note and reads it mumbling to himself with cigarette clenched in jaw. Smoke drifting into eyes. Squinting.
DOCTOR throws open door and sprints out.
Overhead lights are off. Light comes through windows.
KINDNESS walks away. Her hair has a yellow bow in it. She has a coat on over nurses scrubs. Tail of her long wool coat drags on tile.
DOCTOR enters hall chasing KINDNESS waving her letter.
KINDNESS charges at DOCTOR and pushes him so he falls back on his rear.
KINDNESS rushes to nearest exit and leaves.
The hospital is castle-like built in 1850s. Hospital received renovations and major architectural additions in the late 1980s.
The parking lot in front is empty save 3 cars.
KINDNESS exits the grafted-on steel awning of the hospital. Briskly makes her way to staff parking. Pulls car keys from coat pocket. Unlocks her vehicle remotely. A 1999 Volkswagen Golf honks and flashes. The Golf is full of belongings. Clothing and boxes press against windows.
KINDNESS opens driver's side. A firearm enthusiast magazine falls out. She sits and ignites engine.
DOCTOR erupts out of front doors of hospital and races to staff parking after KINDNESS.
KINDNESS backs out of spot.
KINDNESS peels off in Volkswagen before DOCTOR can get her.
DOCTOR hunches hands on knees exasperated and winded. Fame cigarette clenched in teeth.
Experiences coughing fit.
A wooden canoe is floating untethered against a broken post of the dock. There is a dark wool blanket in the canoe with a boy named MARLIN, 11, sleeping under it snoring. Has blanket held close. He lets out long strained whimper that turns into words--
Body of water is big. People out seeming to enjoy sunny day in fishing, speed and pontoon boats.
Snow clouds approach in the distance.
SIMPLE drives little tin boat at medium speed. His hands and arms use all strength to steer the outboard motor.
SIMPLE's arms tremble about to lose grip. The boat veers dangerously, splashing and nearly tipping, but SIMPLE focuses strength.
He regains control.
A WHOOPING CRANE flies overhead.
SIMPLE throttles motor and glides on lake after them.
WHOOPING CRANE lands on SKELETON DOCK.
SIMPLE cuts motor and uses a plastic oar to get near WHOOOPING CRANE quietly.
SIMPLE inches closer.
He is a few feet from the towering bird. Whispers.
SIMPLE mimes taking something out of his pocket.
SIMPLE reaches ever slowly to touch feathers with mimed thing. Whisper.
WHOOPING CRANE hollers and flaps away. Disappears into oncoming veils of fog billowing from snow clouds.
The sky is taken by grey. A dense fog forms across the lake.
MARLIN opens blanket and sits up in canoe. His hair is messed and he is missing both front teeth. Groggy. Wears footie pajamas with honey comb pattern on them.
SIMPLE smacks MARLIN hard on the head with the flat blade of his oar.
MARLIN holds his head in agony and sobs.
MARLIN is beet red crying.
MARLIN buries himself under dark wool blanket.
SIMPLE lobs his oar into Marlin's canoe.
MARLIN covers face with blanket.
Pulls throttle cable until eventually motor turns on and putters into fog.
KINDNESS turns into gravel driveway.
She parks her Volkswagen. Opens door of car and is greeted by LITTER OF KITTENS.
KINDNESS enters carrying LITTER OF KITTENS.
The house is made up of two rooms. The main room has a kitchenette against one wall opposite the front door. The bathroom is the other.
The house is empty except for a couch that is folded out into a bed, some packed boxes and miscellaneous items strewn about the cement floor.
Using one arm KINDNESS gets a tea cup from on the ground and fills it with water in the kitchenette sink. Droplets splash onto LITTER OF KITTEN's faces. They mew uncomfortably.
KINDNESS kneels and gently lets LITTER OF KITTENS spill onto floor.
She sets the cup for them to drink water.
A woman named RELIUS, 70, World War II flight jacket flowing skirt and curly-Q grey hair, is parked on water in a fiberglass speed boat. Her name is hand-painted on the sides in block letters.
RELIUS shouts into fog.
Listens for reply...
RELIUS turns key. Engine fires up. Pushes the throttle lever to max. Tears off fast unable to see but 20 feet ahead.
KINDNESS opens the fridge for milk and pours it into a bowl. Sticks bowl into microwave and inputs settings.
Starts microwave. The digital display glows blue.
CLOSE ON BLUE TIMER COUNTING DOWN
01:00, 00:59, 00:58, 00:57--
Filtered by fog the fading sun casts a blue glow.
SIMPLE is putzing in his modest tin boat.
ROAR OF SPEED BOAT APPROACHES
INTERCUT BETWEEN KINDNESS' HOME AND LAKE
KINDNESS waits on the heating bowl of milk.
00:50, 00:49, 00:48--
RELIUS bursts into SIMPLE's range of view.
RELIUS cranks steering wheel to avoid SIMPLE. They clash anyway and RELIUS' speed boat flips.
SIMPLE is thrown into lake. His tin boat stays upright. The outboard motor idles pushing the boat clockwise in circles--
KINDNESS watches LITTER OF KITTENS climb over one another to drink from single cup of water.
00:40, 00:39, 00:38, 00:37--
RELIUS' treads water.
Tin boat spins between RELIUS and SIMPLE. It blocks and reveals sightline to each other as it rotates. They meet eyes for a moment in midst of struggle to stay afloat.
SIMPLE fights drowning.
SIMPLE sinks like a brick. His cab hat floats.
RELIUS holds deep breath and dives under boat to help SIMPLE.
She hugs SIMPLE underwater and carries him up. They emerge.
RELIUS gasps for air.
SIMPLE is unconscious--
LITTER OF KITTENS claw at KINDNESS' legs.
KINDNESS stares into microwave watching bowl turn.
MEWING INTENSIFIES AS TIMER PROGRESSES
00:20, 00:19, 00:18--
CHOIR OF MEWING CONTINUES BETWEEN LOCATIONS
RELIUS grabs onto bow of rotating boat. Hoists SIMPLE into boat.
SIMPLE coughs up water in safety--
SIMPLE's boat bangs RELIUS on the head creating a wound that bleeds profusely. Red water around her.
RELIUS twists in panic. Met by walls of fog in every direction she looks up. Her face caught by blue glow of vanishing sun.
00:02, 00:01, 00:00
MICROWAVE DINGS AND KITTENS STOP MEWING
RELIUS has disappeared. A trail of blood leads into fog--
KINDNESS opens microwave door and removes bowl of milk.
KINDNESS turns around and screams. She tosses bowl of warm milk onto LITTER OF KITTENS.
The front door is wide open. The silhouette of a 4-foot-tall BEAKED FIGURE with a lit cigarette in their mouth stands in the doorway. Plumes of smoke rise from the BEAKED FIGURE--
Peaceful snow falls on SIMPLE. He is passed out in the revolving tin boat. The outboard motor spits black smoke. It sputters and dies. SIMPLE's boat comes to a rest.
Fog dissipates as last minutes of day turn into night.
CAWING AND CACKLING OF BIRDS
The lake is frozen solid. SIMPLE's boat is stuck in the ice.
He remains unconscious.
A dime sized clump of snow lands on SIMPLE's forehead and melts.
SIMPLE's eyelids part to see a DISPLAY GRADE FIREWORK explode directly upwards. Flower of sparks blossom in the snow clouds.
DISTANT SCREECHING OF BIRDS
DELIVERY PENGUIN pushes through a tough thicket of branches. Sees fireworks in the sky and stomps in their direction.
DELIVERY PENGUIN exits an opening in the woods that leads to frozen lake.
Heavy snow fall.
Fireworks color the clouds, ice and snow. They launch in rapid succession. The supply seems endless. THE BOOMS ARE DEAFENING LIKE A WAR. Diverse types of display fireworks are represented including dragon eggs, water fall, flying fish, timed rain, comet, chrysanthemum, peony and falling leaves to name a few.
HUNDREDS OF PARTIALLY CLOTHED PENGUINS gather on the lake of ice.
DELIVERY PENGUIN joins horde and observes the chaos.
PENGUIN WEARING CAMOUFLAGE HAT slides on belly.
PENGUIN IN BASKETBALL SHORTS AND JERSEY.
PENGUIN WITH OVEN MITTS ON WINGS whines and flaps mitts.
PENGUIN WEARING BRA.
PENGUIN WEARING BICYCLE HELMET AND SCARF defecates and drags his scarf in feces.
Smoke from the fireworks blows everywhere.
DELIVERY PENGUIN makes their way through the crowd.
PENGUIN WEARING HOODIE PULLED OVER HEAD dances with PENGUIN IN WAITRESS UNIFORM.
PENGUIN IN NUDE.
RAGEFUL PENGUIN WITH SWEATER TIED AROUND WAIST accosts PENGUIN WEARING T-SHIRT.
BABY PENGUIN IN ONSIE.
BABY PENGUIN IN PUFFY WINTER COAT.
DELIVERY PENGUIN comes upon SIMPLE in an altercation with PENGUIN IN BATHROBE. They fight over KINDNESS' long wool coat. PENGUIN IN BATHROBE has coat tail clamped in their beak and SIMPLE yanks on opposite end. His hands blue from the cold.
RAGEFUL PENGUIN (WITH SWEATER TIED AROUND WAIST) joins PENGUIN IN BATHROBE in the tug-of-war. They pull SIMPLE to the ground and drag him on the ice.
DELIVERY PENGUIN goes to help SIMPLE. They intervene by pecking PENGUIN IN BATHROBE in the eye. PENGUIN IN BATHROBE cowers.
RAGEFUL PENGUIN lunges at DELIVERY PENGUIN. They bump chests and snap beaks at each other.
SIMPLE wraps himself in his Mother's coat.
RAGEFUL PENGUIN defeats DELIVERY PENGUIN with a critical peck to their neck. DELIVERY PENGUIN crumbles.
RAGEFUL PENGUIN marches toward SIMPLE.
RAGEFUL PENGUIN is about to strike.
MACHINE GUN OF MULTI-COLORED FIREWORKS EXPLODE ABOVE
MARLIN charges into battle screaming. He wields SIMPLE's oar over his head.
MARLIN smacks RAGEFUL PENGUIN in the face with the flat blade of oar. RAGEFUL PENGUIN collapses.
MARLIN steals the sweater tied around RAGEFUL PENGUIN's waist. He puts it on over his pajamas.
SIMPLE sees that DELIVERY PENGUIN lay bleeding from neck. He helps DELIVERY PENGUIN stand.
SIMPLE unties DELIVERY PENGUIN's work boots freeing their webbed feet.
SIMPLE and MARLIN run into the darkness of the falling snow away from the CROWD OF PARTIALLY CLOTHED PENGUINS. DELIVERY PENGUIN stays close.
THUNDER OF MANY COLORS LIGHT THE SCENE
Snow has let up.
MARLIN, SIMPLE and DELIVERY PENGUIN come in from the frozen lake. MARLIN uses oar as walking stick. They trudge up the snow covered slope behind Kindness' Home.
The back door hangs ajar. SIMPLE runs ahead into house.
MUFFLED EXPLOSIONS FROM FIREWORKS OUTSIDE
MEWING in darkness.
SIMPLE turns on light switch.
LITTER OF KITTENS crawl in a puddle of milk on the cement floor.
SIMPLE looks in the bathroom. Drags his Mother's coat tail wherever he goes.
MARLIN and DELIVERY PENGUIN enter.
MARLIN eyes DELIVERY PENGUIN.
MARLIN grabs DELIVERY PENGUIN by the collar and shakes them.
MARLIN examines the embroidered postal service logo on DELIVERY PENGUIN's shirt.
MARLIN lets DELIVERY PENGUIN go.
DELIVERY PENGUIN has no response.
BUDDY (DELIVERY PENGUIN)'s eyes roll back and they faint. MARLIN catches them.
MARLIN is grossed out.
SIMPLE rushes to the cabinet beneath the kitchenette sink. He opens it and searches inside.
SIMPLE grabs a TINY GUN from within tangle of plumbing and cleaning products.
Tucks gun into overall pocket.
SIMPLE digs in the inner-pocket of his Mother's coat and pulls out her Volkswagen keys.
SIMPLE presses the unlock button.
HONK FROM OUT FRONT
MORNING SUNLIGHT CREEPS IN FROM WINDOWS
The snow clouds are gone. Clear sky. Pale blue sunlight sweeps over the land.
Blankets of snow cover the ground yet the driveway is plowed and Volkswagen snowless. No frost or ice on the car windows either.
SIMPLE, MARLIN and BUDDY come out the front door. MARLIN carrying BUDDY.
BUDDY has bloody toilet paper wrapped around his neck.
SIMPLE opens back passenger door of the car and MARLIN loads BUDDY in.
The belongings that were jam packed into the Golf are all missing.
MARLIN gets in the drivers side. SIMPLE rides shotgun.
MARLIN adjusts seat and mirrors.
The last fireworks launch over the lake as MARLIN backs out of the driveway.
Jasper Spicero (b. 1990, Yankton SD) lives and works in Los Angeles. He had solo exhibitions at Swiss Institute, New York; Mother Culture, LA; Time Square Space, New York; Johan Berggren, Malmo; New Galerie, Paris; Wapato Jail, Portland; duo-exhibitions with Bunny Rogers at Arcadia Missa, London; with Alex Dolan at 4649, Tokyo; with Win McCarthy, at The Rudolph Steiner Bookstore, New York; and created installations at LUMA Westbau, Zurich and Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris.