written by Eli Barraza
directed & produced by Mischa Stanton
ACE: You can open your eyes you know.
PERI: I’m not opening them until we’re back home.
ACE: What are you gonna do? Walk around the city with your eyes closed?
PERI: Not much to see there anyways. Just fake tans and people’s dead end dreams.
ACE: Well, there’s… the pier! Official end of the Mother Road.
PERI: We have a pier.
ACE: Not one with a ferris wheel on it.
PERI: I’m afraid of heights.
ACE: We live on the side of a cliff.
PERI: No, we live 100 feet away from the side of a cliff.
ACE: What about the food? They’ll actually have good Mexican places.
PERI: Cool, now I get to embarrass myself with my terrible Spanish.
ACE: Would you just open your eyes already?
PERI: And do what? Stare are all the oil fields passing by? Hundreds of those pumps moving up and down. Up. And down. Riveting.
ACE: C’mon, it’s visual poetry. Up and down over and over across the flat expanse of burnt yellow, telephone poles and wires framing the husk of scenery. Up and down. Up. And down.
PERI: I prefer tides. Back and forth instead of up and down.
ACE: You’re impossible. Seriously, open your eyes Peri, I need you to keep a lookout for signs.
PERI: No, we can get lost for all I care.
ACE: Seriously, Hesperia, open your--
[[SFX: Peri jolts awake at the sound of a car zooming by outside.]]
PERI: Ace?! Mmph. Ugh.
[[SFX: Feet pound down the stair. Peri makes pours cereal.]]
PERI: Gonna need to figure out this whole food issue. Can’t live on cheerios forever.
[[SFX: Hesperia opens the door.]]
PERI: Holey moley, that’s a tall overpass. No lurkers? Cool. Got my shoes on. Got my socks on. Got my jacket. Got my nerves of steel. Pretending to have nerves of steel. Okay. Here we go. Herrrreee we go. And now I’m taking a step. Now I am taking. A. Step. Taking a step. Lifting my foot aaand--
[[SFX: Across the street, a woman, JONI falls off of a wall landing with a crunch and a thud/]]
JONI: MOTHER- [sounds of Joni in pain]
PERI: HOLY-- THAT LADY JUST. Is she okay? C’mon Peri, she just fell off a wall, of course she’s not okay. Should call for help. No, phone doesn’t work. Go and check on her. Okay. Just just run over and check. Maybe somebody else will. There is nobody else. There’s a lot of steps to get over there, way more than I had planned, goddamnit woman, someone just fell off of a wall. Whew, okay. GO.
[[SFX: Hesperia runs across the street to Joni.]]
PERI: Hey, um, you okay? I saw you fall and wow okay I am not gonna look at your leg right now.
JONI: Okay, shock’s taking care of most of the pain. I’m just a little... dazed.
PERI: A-alright, do you have a phone? Maybe we should call--
JONI: Um, no, it’s fine, I’m fine. I’ll walk it off.
PERI: I don’t think this is not something that you can walk off.
JONI: [shouts] Oh boy, there it is. I’m getting dizzy.
PERI: Nonononono, you stay conscious with me right here. What’s your name?
JONI: People call me Joni.
PERI: Alright Joni, um, can I check your bag for a phone?
PERI: Well, you need medical attention. So I’m going to ignore you and grab this.
[[SFX: Peri struggles with Joni over the bag but wins. She calls emergency services using the phone.]
PERI: Um, hi! There’s an injured young woman here? I think her leg is broken and she needs help. Real fast. (to Joni) They want to know where we are.
JONI: Screw you.
PERI: That’s rude. Fine, this phone looks fancy enough to have the gps function.. Beep boop, there are the maps… oops, almost ended that call there, okay, and, oh, there we are! Hello? Hi, yeah I’m still here. We’re underneath highway 52, just, um, just west of that huge junction. Yeah, that’s the side street. (to Joni) They want me to stay on the phone, that cool?
[[SFX: Joni grabs the phone and tosses it to the side. It breaks.]]
JONI: Not it is not effing cool, I told you not call them in the first place.
PERI: Why do you not want… oh.
[[SFX: Peri picks up the wallet.]]
PERI: Hm, that’s not you in this driver’s license. OH.
JONI: Get it now, dipshit?
PERI: Why do you have this bag?
JONI: Because I stole it.
PERI: No, I mean, why are you stealing?
JONI: Why the fuck do you wanna know?
PERI: Because you kinda talking stops me from entering a full on freak out which I’m shocked hasn’t happened yet, oh! Shock, I’m probably in shock right now.
JONI: Oh my god, then why don’t you just leave if you’re gonna freak out.
PERI: Because you’re, you’re supposed to help people in trouble, right?
JONI: I told you, I’m fine.
[[SFX: Joni attempts to stand but fails back to the ground.]]
JONI: SWEET JESUS.
PERI: I think those are the words someone says when they’re in trouble. Do you need to hold my hand or anything?
JONI: I’m not having a baby. Oh dear god, this is what they mean by tunnel vision.
PERI: Right. Okay, well let’s keep you awake. Um, talk! Yeah, stay conscious by talking.
JONI: About what.
PERI: Um, about what I just asked you? The stealing stuff?
JONI: It makes me happy, okay?
PERI: Okay, ya gotta give me more than that, Joni. Why does stealing make you happy?
JONI: Not the stealing, really. It’s the falling. I like running and finding places to climb and jump and… fall.
PERI: Sounds more like an acrobat than a thief.
JONI: I got good at it and when you're good at something like that where I come from it’s easy to get good at taking stuff. But it’s always been the falling. If I could fall forever I would. I’d never have my feet touch the ground.
PERI: I can’t imagine wanting that.
JONI: Falling isn’t so bad, it’s the landing that’s difficult. And doing what I do, after a while I sort of connected the feeling of falling with the taking. So I just kept doing it. It’s like… gravitational debauchery. You just get sucked in and you don’t really care, you like it, even. But eventually you end up hitting concrete. I’m good at the tuck ‘n roll, I don’t drop shit. I go with my momentum soon as I’m back on the ground. Gotta admit, I’ve scraped knees and twisted ankles but that shit’s fixable. Unpleasant but fixable. I thought I’d always get off scot-free. But clearly, I was wrong. I landed. Wrong.
PERI: And now your leg is broken.
JONI: It’s not just my leg. My whole body feels these waves of pain, making me pay for every bit of pleasure I took, all at once. And you were right, talking is the only thing keeping the full tsunami at bay. But it’s gonna crash through. As soon as those sirens sound and they put me on a stretcher, I’m not gonna be able to move anymore. Once they find that bag, I’m never gonna move again.
PERI: I don’t think you’d go to jail. Or if you did, not, not that long.
JONI: You don’t get it. People like me don’t get up from things like this. I never planned on moving upward, I don’t know how to do that. And I’m fine with not knowing how to do that so long as I can keep moving, even if it’s downward.
PERI: You know, there’s a place you can fall forever without hitting anything.
JONI: For me? Little too late for that.
PERI: No, I mean it. It’s a crazy long shot and you’d have to figure how to move up. Like really up. Like above the earth up. You get into orbit, that’s falling forever without ever hitting the ground. That’s what you want, right? You like the feeling of falling? Figure out a way to get up there.
JONI: There’s no up there for me, lady.
PERI: Joni. I haven’t been this far outside of my house for years. You get that? If I can run across the street, you bet your bottom dollar you can get all the way up there. And if you think that I don’t actually believe that, I will leave this bag here. I’ll make sure they know you’re a thief. And you’re never gonna fall again.
JONI: Are you threatening me to, what, just do better?
PERI: Apparently I am. Though to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what’s coming out of my mouth right now.
JONI: I’m not gonna ignore my own reality.
PERI: Don’t, that’s what I did for years and it’s pretty terrible. Work with what you’ve got.
JONI: You make sure they don’t find that bag, fine. I’ll try or whatever.
PERI: Yes. And I understand that you are probably just saying this so I’ll get rid of the evidence but I don’t care. You do you, Joni.
[[SFX: Sirens grow closer. Peri picks up the bag and walks back to her door.]]
JONI: Ya got a weird way of helping people, lady.
[[SFX: Hesperia shuts the door behind her and locks it. She throws the bag onto the table]]
PERI: I should probably mail the bag back to the owner. Hm, another day I think. If I don’t starve off of cheerios first. I’m gonna… I’m gonna stare off into the void for a while.
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, and Michelle Agresti as Joni. Production help from Zach Valenti. 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.