1.11 An Innocent Fly
written by Eli Barraza
directed & produced by Mischa Stanton
[[SFX: Peri and Benny slosh through a swamp, the sounds of animals and insects permeating the air.]]
BENNY: There has got to be a better way to look for your brother.
PERI: Do you have a boat I don’t know about? Or some other means of transportation?
BENNY: No, I mean beyond just sloshing through a swamp on foot.
PERI: Bright side, the fact I’m even willing to wade through this muck means progress.
PERI: For the old noggin’! Not a big fan of the unknown but pushing my way through this murky water with who knows what lurks beneath…
BENNY: You are absolutely terrified right now, huh.
PERI: Oh pshh, gosh, no, no I am not, I am fit as a fiddle at sundown.
[[SFX: The swamp grows quiet as they slosh. There’s a small splash and they both turn. They try to quiet their breathing but both are shaky.]]
BENNY: Maybe it was a bird.
PERI: Um, let’s go back to the lighthouse.
[[SFX: A croc growl and wave of water crashes against them.]]
BENNY: Peri, run! Peri Run
PERI: Oh my god. I can’t, I’m too slow, there’s water, I can’t, I can’t.
[[SFX: They splash through the water, desperately trying to get away from the alligator.]]
BENNY: Tree. Tree. Tree! Up the tree!
PERI: These trees are not very climbable!
BENNY: Too bad!
[[SFX: He heaves her up the tree then climbs one himself. A few more splashes then the gator is gone as soon as it had arrived.]]
PERI: How did it not catch us? How, it’s literally evolved to catch slow prey like us in this environment, it doesn’t make any sense. Why are we still alive, we should be dead, ohhh my gosh, we should be dead, we should be--
BENNY: PERI! Get your shit together. We’re fine.
PERI: Nope, no we are not because I have no idea how to get back to the lighthouse and how I thought Ace would be in a swamp is beyond me. Gosh, typical Peri, can’t get her stuff together. I hate this!
[[SFX: She loses her balance and falls into the swamp.]]
PERI: Ow ow ow, this is dumb, this is dumb, this is so dumb, we’re gonna die here. Girl picks up a stranger for an adventure, gets him killed and nobody knows because they’re in a gosh darn swamp of all places.
[[SFX: Benny jumps down into the water and goes to her.]]
PERI: What’s that.
BENNY: My hand to help you up.
PERI: Well, thanks.
[[SFX: He helps her up.]]
BENNY: Look dude. We’re alive. I don’t know how but we are. You yelling, probably gonna bring the gator back so let’s keep things more quiet. Take a breath. We can get back.
[[SFX: The quiet whir of a boat with a motor.]]
PERI: What’s that?
BENNY: What’s what?
PERI: There’s a sound.
[[SFX: The boat sound grows louder.]]
BENNY: That sounds like a--
[[SFX: The sound of a car failing to start.]]
ACE: Okay, can you try starting it again?
[[SFX: Peri turns the ignition, it sputters.]]
PERI: This is the road trip all over again. I don’t see why you don’t just find a new one.
[[SFX: She stops.]]
PERI: I don’t see why you don’t just get a new one. Or like, a used one.
ACE: If I can fix it, I will. If it’s beyond all repair then… yeah. May need to say sayonara. Try it again.
PERI: C’mon, man. I got things to do. People to message. Places to…. Google search.
ACE: Hey, you’re the one who doesn’t want me to spoil the end of Gardenia Plex.
PERI: It’s not my fault you’re five issues ahead.
ACE: And it’s not my fault you don’t buy your own comics. Come on, once more with feeling.
PERI: Ugh. Fine, you got it boss.
[[SFX: Peri starts it up.]]
ACE: Besides, this is as much for me as it is for you. Weren’t you gonna visit Ruth?
ACE: I said, weren't you gonna visit--
[[SFX The boat sound roars then quiets.]]
BENNY: Wait, what is, what is someone like you doing out here?
GINA: I live around here. I can ask you the same question.
PERI: We’re looking for someone.
GINA: Seems more like you needed someone looking for you.
[[SFX: They clamber into the boat, splashing.]]
BENNY: Did you… did you happen to see an enormous alligator out here?
GINA: Are you talking about Frannie?
PERI: If you mean the humongous alligator that tried to eat us then yes.
GINA: She’s harmless, just likes playing around with people and scaring them.
PERI: Yeah, very effective prank, if I wasn’t already afraid of alligators... I would be now.
GINA: See Jesse, she’s the one you gotta look out for. She’s twice as big and four times as mean.
[[SFX: She pauses a moment then laughs.]]
GINA: Look at your faces! I’m only kidding, I like to play pranks too, spook people into avoiding there they’re not supposed to be. Jesse is nice alligator. She’s gone vegan, she’s cool.
[[SFX: She yanks the cord and the motor sputters, attempting to rev.]]
PERI: How’d you find us?
GINA: What was that?
PERI: How’d you find us? Doesn’t seem like the type of place you’d just stumble across people.
[[SFX: Gina stops yanking the cord.]]
GINA: No, it doesn’t but a of my few friends played a game of telephone and said they saw a young woman having a fit, thought I’d better investigate.
GINA: Not me that needs the apologies, you scared quite a few of my friends out there.
[[SFX: Gina yanks the cord again in an attempt to rev the motor.]]
PERI: I AM VERY SORRY FOR DISTURBING THE PEACE.
[[SFX: The motor still isn’t catching.]]
BENNY: Geez, Peri, are you nuts?
PERI: She said they needed an apology, it’s only polite.
BENNY: We’re in a swamp.
[[SFX: Gina stops yanking on the cord.]]
GINA: What’s that, young man?
BENNY: It’s… a swamp.
PERI: Thank you for picking us up, ma’am. We were really lost and scared so your help is mighty appreciated. Do you think you’d be able to help us find our way back?
GINA: Um. I don’t know where you guys come from but I guess you can come to my place and get cleaned up..
[[SFX: She yanks the cord and the motor finally catches. ]]
[[SFX: The phone rings.]]
RUTH: Hey Peri! What’s up?
PERI: Hello! Hi! Um, uh--
RUTH: (away from the phone) Oh my god, Varun, will you please give me a break for like two seconds? We get it, your flashcards are awesome, stop waving them in my face.
PERI: Is this a bad time?
RUTH: (to Peri) No! No, I’m in a study group right now and they’re being total dweebs about me taking a (away from the phone) FIVE MINUTE BREAK TO TALK TO THE COOLEST PERSON IN THE WORLD, (to Peri) Sorry, I have like a minute before the sharks start a feeding frenzy.
PERI: Just checking in about maybe visiting? Ace said I could use the truck, maybe go on an adventure to see you...
RUTH: Oh, hell yeah! I’d love for you to visit, rock on Peri! Let’s talk details later, I really have to go, they’re forming a coalition against me. Talk to you soon, love ya!
[[SFX: The phone call ends.]]
PERI: Love... you, bye.
[[SFX: A fly buzzes inside Gina’s home.]]
GINA: Now wait a moment, just a moment. Wait, keep waiting, there.
[[SFX: The camera clicks, the picture spits out.]]
thank you again for letting me take your picture
[[SFX: Gina rips off a piece of scotch tape and places the photo on the wall.]]
PERI: Nimrods I Have Saved. Oof, that guy looks soaked. He just didn’t know that I’m the one that catches monsters in these parts.
[[SFX: Benny picks up a specimen slide from a box, delicate glass hitting glass.]]
BENNY: What’s in these slides?
GINA: Careful! Took a month to get those specimens ready.
[[SFX: Gina grabs the slide, places it back in its wooden box and shuts it.]]
PERI: Who are these kids?
GINA: My sister’s kids, the day Frannie showed ‘em the main drags of the swamp.They’ve got their sights set on microbiology which makes the heart sing louder than a basso perfundo in Vienna. You ever been?
PERI: No. Benny, have you been?
[[SFX: A fly buzzes by Benny, he swats at it.]]
BENNY: Once, didn’t catch the opera though.
GINA: Not missing much, just a lot of loud notes in a story you can barely understand. But don’t tell Jesse that, she’s a huge fan of Puccini.
BENNY: Wasn’t planning on it.
GINA: What was your plan? Crashing about in the water?
BENNY: We’re looking for her brother. He went missing a few years back.
GINA: And you’re only now looking for him?
PERI: It’s kind of a long story. I had a photo but it’s gone now, probably dissolving in the water.
GINA: You think you’re gonna find him on foot? You need to broadcast the message. I can pass it along to my friends but you’re gonna have to figure out something that works in places where the animals don’t play telephone.
BENNY: Huh. well this is the most satisfying sense of deja vu I’ve ever had.
PERI: Yeah, I was kind of just doing the best I could with the ideas I had. He could be anywhere, really.
BENNY: Hopefully he’s in a better place than--
PERI: A better place??
BENNY: Than this, I meant a better place than this! Ha!
[[SFX: Benny successfully swats the fly.]]
BENNY: I mean, um, this place is great but you know, places like this--
GINA: Apparently a place where visitors can just swat an innocent fly going about its day.
GINA: And don’t think I didn’t notice your comments back on the boat,‘It’s only a swamp. You arrive in a swamp. You cause a ruckus, startle a bunch of creatures minding their own business and you have the gall not to apologise?
BENNY: I didn’t think---
GINA: You didn’t think. You just caused trouble. Your friend here set a nice example for you to follow and you ignored her. But you know what, I shouldn’t have to tell you to treat someone else’s place with respect and neither should your friend. It’s not our job to teach you common courtesy, you got it?
BENNY: Y-yes, ma’am.
GINA: I understand, you two were lost and confused and just plain scared. We’ve all been there. But when someone comes along and clarifies and tries to tell you that you might’ve hurt people--
BENNY: I need to apologise.
GINA: AND do better. Are you gonna do better?
GINA: And you’re not just saying that because a lady is lecturing you two inches from your face?
BENNY: No, no ma’am.
[[SFX: A moment.]]
GINA: Alright, I’ll take you at your word. For now.
[[SFX: Gina shuffles over to the wall, takes off the photo. She shuffles to another wall and puts the photo on it.]]
GINA: There, that’s much better. Now I’m gonna go see if Frannie’s around to lead you back to wherever you need to go. And you might wanna describe this brother of yours in case he ever ends up in the neighborhood, we can let him know you’re looking.
BENNY: Hear that Peri? An alligator’s gonna lead us back.
PERI: What’s that wall she moved our picture to?
[[SFX: Peri walks over to it. Benny joins her and laughs.]]
BENNY: Not Complete Nimrods.
[[SFX: The quiet swish of water as Frannie swims away.]]
BENNY: Thanks Frannie!
[[SFX: Benny closes the door.]]
BENNY: I’ve said goodbye to an alligator, alright then. Peri, wanna start strategizing about--
PERI: I’m tired.
[[SFX: Peri heads up the stairs.]]
BENNY: Okay. Okay! No worries, we don’t have to brainstorm anything, we could just play cards or something?
PERI: No thank you.
BENNY: Alright, I’ll make some soup for dinner and then let you know when it’s ready?
[[SFX: She pauses on the stairs.]]
PERI: I think I’d like to be left alone for a while. I need to process this new information I’ve received about... alligators…. thank you, though.
[[SFX: Peri continues up the stairs.]]
BENNY: Okay, Peri. Um, Mo and I will be here if you need anything.
[[SFX: Benny lets out a tired sigh.]]
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, Danielle Shemaiah as Ruth, Jose Donado as Benny, and Lily Richards as Gina. 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.