Copyright Holly Arsenault, 2013. All rights reserved. This text may not be reproduced or performed without explicit, written consent of the author.

Please direct inquiries to hollypla@gmail.com.

 

A Fish and a Bear in Purgatory premiered at 14/48: The World's Quickest Theatre Festival, January, 2013 at The Erickson Theatre in Seattle, Washington

A Fish and a Bear in Purgatory
By Holly Arsenault

FISH. 
So, do you guys have a God, or...?

BEAR.
Of course we do.

FISH.
Oh, okay. Sorry. What’s...his...? (asking if it’s a man or a woman)

(BEAR nods)

FISH.
What’s his name?

BEAR.
Bronson.

FISH.
Is that Welsh?

BEAR.
I don’t know.

FISH.
I really think of either of us is going to adopt a tone, it should be me.

BEAR.
Yes, I think it’s Welsh.

FISH.
Okay.

Pause

BEAR.
Do you?

FISH.
Do I what?

BEAR.
No, do you (a gesture meaning “you all”)?

FISH.
Have a God?

BEAR.
Yes.

FISH.
We have seventeen.

BEAR.
Seventeen?!

FISH.
Yes.

BEAR.
What are their names?

FISH.
Fiona, Adjimbay, Archie, Etienne, Kai, Cedric, Rhiannon

BEAR.
That’s Welsh!

FISH.
Yeah. Raphael, Liam, Jiwoo, Astrid, Lova, Ignacio, Frank, Benjamin, Jesus, and Yuzuki.

BEAR.
Why do you have seventeen?

FISH.
Why do you have one?

Pause

BEAR.
Look, I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry.

FISH.
Oh, you’re sorry?

BEAR.
Yes.

FISH.
Oh, well. Great.

BEAR.
Look—

FISH.
No, no. You said you were sorry, so we are totally cool now.

Pause

FISH.
What are you sorry for?

BEAR.
I’m sorry for everything.

FISH.
Can you please be more specific?

BEAR.
Is someone coming for us, or...?

FISH.
I don’t know. You’re the one who believes in God.

BEAR.
You just said you have seventeen gods.

FISH.
Yeah, but I don’t believe in any of them.

BEAR.
Well, I think that god...s help you out whether you believe in them or not.

FISH.
No, I don’t think that.

BEAR.
You don’t.

FISH.
No, no.

BEAR.
So, you’re saying that no one is coming to help us.

FISH.
Not from my side.

BEAR.
Great. How’s that atheism working out for you?

FISH.
I don’t see the magical Bronson swooping in to save the day.

BEAR sighs

FISH.
So...what are you sorry for?

BEAR.
For. Y’know...for tearing your flesh from your bones and rending your body in half, and, basically, y’know...

FISH stares at BEAR

BEAR.
Killing you. I’m sorry for killing you.

FISH.
Thank you.

BEAR.
Sure.

Pause

BEAR.
Is there anything that you feel sorry for?

FISH.
What?

BEAR gives FISH a “you might not be totally blameless” shrug

FISH.
You murdered me.

BEAR.
Yeah, but—

FISH.
Yeah, but WHAT?

BEAR.
Well...

FISH.
What?

BEAR.
You murdered me back.

FISH.
Oh my God.

BEAR.
...s

FISH.
You want me to apologize to you for letting you eat me?

BEAR.
You didn’t let me!

FISH.
That’s right!

BEAR.
I caught you!

FISH.
I know!

BEAR.
And ate you!

FISH.
I remember!

BEAR.
So.

FISH.
So?

BEAR.
So...oh, yeah. Right. Yes. You should apologize to me.

FISH.
For what?

BEAR.
For eating that poison.

FISH.
For eating the poison.

BEAR.
Yes.

FISH. 
You want me to apologize.

BEAR.
Yes, I don’t see why that’s such a—

FISH.
Well, for one thing, it’s not poison to me.

BEAR.
What does that have to do with anything?

FISH.
If you hadn’t eaten me, neither of us would have died.

BEAR.
Okay, but—

FISH gives BEAR a “but what?” look

BEAR.
Okay, yes, that’s true. But you could have anticipated...

FISH.
I could have anticipated getting eaten by you?

BEAR.
Yes. I mean, you’re saying you were just swimming down the river all day long and the thought never crossed your mind.

FISH.
"Oh, I might get eaten by a bear today so I better not swallow any toxins that are harmless to me but lethal to bears”?

BEAR.
Exactly.

FISH.
No.

BEAR.
Well then?

FISH.
YOU ATE ME!

BEAR.
I am a bear.

FISH.
Yes.

BEAR.
And you are a fish.

FISH.
Yeah.

BEAR.
That’s what we do.

FISH.
Oh, that’s what we do?

BEAR.
Yes.

FISH.
That’s just what we do?

BEAR. 
Yes.

FISH.
Oh.

Pause

FISH.
Did you have a...sorry. I don’t know what to call it.

BEAR.
A mate?

FISH.
Yeah.

BEAR.
No. Well, kinda. I mean. I was with someone for a while, but...

FISH.
You broke up?

BEAR.
Well, not exactly. She went into hibernation and we kinda just left things...open.

FISH.
Do you want to get back together? Or, I mean...would you have, if we hadn’t...?

BEAR.
Uh. I don’t know. No, I guess. No.

FISH.
Huh.

BEAR.
Did you?

FISH.
Oh, no. I mean, we don’t really do that. Some of the older fish...but fish my age don’t like to get tied down. And I never really found anyone. I mean, I’m not a virgin or anything. I’ve had a few one-night spawns. But nothing serious.

BEAR.
Sure. I get it.

FISH.
How long do you think we’re supposed to wait here?

BEAR.
And where do we go after, that’s what I’m wondering.

Pause

FISH.
This is kind of a weird question, but...

BEAR.
What?

FISH.
Can I touch you?

BEAR.
I don’t know. Can you?

FISH.
Yeah, I think maybe I can.

BEAR.
Give it a try, I guess.

FISH.
I mean, when will we ever have another chance, right?

BEAR.
Yeah, right.

FISH reaches out and touches BEAR. The touch awakens in each of them a profound sense of connection to each other and the oneness of the universe. Also, lust. They are expelled apart by the force of the touch. They pause to regroup.

FISH.
Whoa.

BEAR.
Yeah.

They look at each other.

FISH.
Did you...feel that?

BEAR.
Yeah.

FISH.
What WAS that?

BEAR.
I don’t know.

FISH.
Should I (makes a “try again” gesture)?

BEAR.
YES! I mean. Yes. Yes. Go ahead.

FISH.
Okay.

She reaches out and touches him. They hold there for a moment and then they are expelled apart again by the force of the universe folding in on itself, leaving behind nothing but pure, radiant joy.

FISH.
So maybe this is where we’re supposed to—[stay]

BEAR.
Yeah.

They start to move toward one another.

FISH.
But... how can this...?

BEAR.
I know.

FISH.
You’re a bear.

BEAR.
And you’re a fish.

They reach each other. Their “hands” touch.

FISH.
If Bronson shows up—

BEAR.
(taking her in his arms) We’ll just tell him we don’t believe in him.

FISH.
Listen—

BEAR.
It’s okay.

FISH.
No, listen, I’m sorry—

BEAR.
It’s okay.

FISH.
I’m sorry I ate that poison.

BEAR.
It’s okay.

They join in a passionate kiss. Lights.