Warm Wind in China
a tragedy in two acts
by Kent Stetson
Davis: Late twenties
Slater: Early Thirties
Elna Slater: Slater’s mother
Jack Slater: Slater’s Father
Off stage: Matthew, Slater’s 10 year old son
1984: Slater and Davis are lovers. Slater has contracted AIDS, which has become full blown. Slater and Davis been together for three years raising Slater’s son Matthew. In act one, Slater lures Davis with promises of re-ignited passion to Crystal Crescent beach on the Atlantic coast south of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Mid-seduction, Slater binds and buries Davis up to his neck in the sand below the high water mark. The tide is coming in. Slater tells his lover of his condition and forces a promise from Davis that come what may, come what will, Davis will raise Matthew.
Act One Excerpt:
Davis moves toward the knapsack. Slater tackles him, pins him face down on the sand.
SLATER: Say Uncle.
DAVIS: Uncle! I’ll break your face if you twist any fur…
SLATER: [twist] Apologize.
DAVIS: C’mon, Slater. Let me up. I said I was sorry.
SLATER: Say it again.
DAVIS: What do you want, for Christ’s sake. Blood?
SLATER: Maybe. Say it. Say it, or I’ll rip it off and make you eat it.
DAVIS: What’s got into you?
SLATER: Who’s got into you?
DAVIS: I told you I was sorry. I thought you said you were over it.
SLATER: I am over it. I was over it. I will be over it.
DAVIS: Are you finished?
DAVIS: How was it for you?
SLATER: I thought you were someone else…
Slater falls back on the sand.
DAVIS: Terrific. Should I close my eyes and think of Springsteen?
Davis covers him. They are nose to nose.
DAVIS: Was it something I said?
SLATER: No. Someone else.
DAVIS: I’m sorry.
He moves to kiss Slater. At the last moment Slater turns away. Davis rises, takes Slater’s extended hand, helps him up.
SLATER: Thank you.
DAVIS: You’re welcome.
SLATER: You know how long it’s been since we were out here?
DAVIS: Two years this month.
SLATER: We used to come every weekend.
DAVIS: Till the fruits took over.
SLATER: Till the fruits took over? Who the hell are you? Arnold fuckin’ Schwarzeneggar?
DAVIS: [striking a muscle man pose] Jah. I zink pewaps I am.
Davis crushes his can. Beer spurts in a gush of white foam. Schwarzeneggar segues into a demented evangelist. Davis presents a new strong man pose on each ‘again’ throughout the following:
DAVIS: I believe. I believe ye must be born again —
SLATER: Praise Jesus.
Slater adjusts the pit. Sand flies to punctuate.
DAVIS: — and again —
SLATER: Yes. Yes, Lord.
DAVIS: — and again and again and again —
SLATER: Yea-ess. Oh, yea-ess! Praise Jesus!!
DAVIS: I believe in the second coming. I believe in Andrew David Slater.
SLATER: Thank you, thank you.
DAVIS: I believe that he will come again. It’s been months, Dear Lord in heaven, since this man came. What can it be? A conflagration? A reign of blood? Maybe the clap —
SLATER: If it’s the clap, I’ll know where to look.
DAVIS: If it’s the clap he will know where to look. [Breaks evangelist/strongman poses] Good. Maybe you’ll find your ‘on’ switch when you’re rootin’ around down there.
Slater twirls two lengths of rope.
SLATER: So. Who ties up who?
DAVIS: I don’t know. We never got into this.
SLATER: Tell you what. I’ll flip you for it.
DAVIS: I bet you will. Then what?
SLATER: I don’t know. We’ll let mother nature call the shots.
DAVIS: All right!
Davis maneuvers Slater for a hip toss, which he executes. Slater lands hard, cries out.
DAVIS: What’s the matter?
SLATER: I’ll be all right… give me a minute… I just… I took it too hard this time.
Slater rises briskly.
DAVIS: Took what too hard?
SLATER: Nothing Davis. The fall.
DAVIS: That wasn’t hard. You’ve taken harder falls than that.
Davis offers token resistance when Slater ties his hands behind his back. Davis is intrigued, purposefully misled to anticipate some kind of sex.
DAVIS: What’cha got in mind tiger?
Slater binds Davis’ feet.
DAVIS: This is weird. Promising but weird.
Slater smiles, silent, determined.
DAVIS: I don’t know what those leather guys get out of this kinky stuff.
Slater takes him down.
DAVIS: Untie me, Slater. I’ve had enough fun. I’m not getting off on this. Are you?
Slater drags him into the pit, begins to bury him.
DAVIS: You’re not going weird on me I hope. C’mon, Slater. A joke is a joke.
SLATER: The bad news is your son is homosexual. The good news is he’s dying.
DAVIS: That sucks.
SLATER: Can’t have everything.
DAVIS: You’re a real fun guy lately.
SLATER: Fun guys run deep.
DAVIS: You never did know the difference between scratching your ass and tearing the skin off.
Slater moves a sand filled scoop into Davis’ range of vision.
DAVIS: Oh, Christ.
Slater kisses Davis with passion. Davis lies back, receptive, seduced. The kiss lingers as Slater’s free hand caresses Davis’ chest, cruises his stomach. When he reaches the waist band of Davis’ speedo, he raises it. They both peer in. Davis is expectant, pleased until with one swift movement Slater dumps the sand in Davis’ crotch.
DAVIS: That’s dirty pool.
Slater covers Davis rapidly.
SLATER: It’s gonna get a lot dirtier.
DAVIS: What’s goin’ on?
SLATER: Relax. You’ll get to enjoy this.
DAVIS: I’ve never seen you like this before.
SLATER: I’ve never been like this before.
Slater stops abruptly. A trickle of sand escapes his raised fist.
DAVIS: Lose something?
SLATER: Not entirely. I’ll know exactly where you are. For a change.
He moves the trickle directly over Davis’ face.
DAVIS: [spitting] Cut it out or so help me God I’ll fuckin’ kill you.
Slater piles sand furiously.
SLATER: You fuckin’ killed me already.
DAVIS: You bastard.
SLATER: You slut.
DAVIS: One slip in the last three years, Slater. One.
SLATER: One too many, my man. One too many.
DAVIS: Don’t give me that holier than thou bull shit.
SLATER: Right now, I’m a hell of a lot holier than thou, Champ.
DAVIS: One lousy weekend six months ago. You forgave me. Like I forgave you.
SLATER: You forgave me four years ago. You’ve had no reason to forgive me since. I swear to God, Davis. You’re it.
DAVIS: I’m what?
SLATER: You’re it. I looked in the mirror this morning too. Only by myself. You know how I’ve been feeling a little tired lately? Losing things, like my strength? Well, I organized this picnic to let you in on a little secret.
DAVIS: Slater — ?
SLATER: Shut up! Just shut up and listen. When I met you, I thought the sun shone outa your ass hole. You treated me like a king and I had no trouble returning the favor. Two kings beat a pair of queens, you used to say, and you were right. I loved before, but never like this.
DAVIS: Stop it. Let me out of here.
SLATER: I don’t mind my son loving you more than he loves me. I love you both so much, I can’t tell who is who anymore.
DAVIS: Don’t start that stuff.
SLATER: I’m you, you’re my son, Matt’s my father. When I see you together, I think they’ll be okay.
DAVIS: You’re scaring me.
SLATER: Don’t be afraid. Be strong. And patient. You’ve got to be patient. You got Matt going in track and field and hockey. That’s good, but that’s enough sports. The kid can draw. Get him drawing. If anyone can perk his interest, you can. I never saw a boy love anyone like my boy loves you. He’s got the musical ability of an army boot, so forget music. And don’t let him lose that sense of wonder. You’ve got to be tougher with him Davis. You’ve got to be tougher.
SLATER: I’ll lose my hair. I’ll begin to rot inside and watch myself disappear. [exposes his calf] See that? Look like an ordinary bruise? Like the ones we sometimes laid on each other? In the natural course of things? When the moon was full? They were more delicate. Nicer colour too. It appeared last week. If a fifth horseman was sent to purge the world of male love he’d wear one these.
SLATER: ‘Fraid so, Champ. The lingering colds, the confusion. All part of the same package. Hurry, hurry! Step right up! See the greatest show on earth, where nature battles nature, where nature wins and nature loses. Come on folks. It’s all happening on the inside. Bring the wife and kids. It’s not his life you’ll want to see, it’s his death. By the looks of things, I have you to thank. Breathe, Davis. You’re losing your breath.
He checks below Davis’ jaw line.
SLATER: Clean so far. You got the constitution of a horse.
Slater rises too quickly, experiences a sudden, overwhelming faintness. He covers.
SLATER: I got you set up at the clinic just in case. First thing Monday.
DAVIS: Where are you going?
Slater stands at some distance, staring out to sea.
DAVIS: What about me?
SLATER: You looked great out there.
Authors Rights & Copyright Note
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