Plucked (excerpt)

  1. The scene where Abigail wakes up a chicken

 

(In the bedroom, the bed is covered in a mass of skin. ABIGAIL and JERRY lie beneath the skin, smothered and hidden.)

 

(ROOSTER perches in the barnyard. He wears a banjo. He appears tired, as if he never sleeps and he drinks from a bottle of bourbon as if it were beer. He is carelessly attractive and mysteriously sexy. He is drunkenly smug upon recognizing the audiences and he begins, for audience sake to pick at his banjo quite quickly.)

 

ROOSTER

June 13th 7 am. It’s the year the fat lady legally changed her name to “Fat Lady” because she decided not to give a fuck anymore.

 

(THE FENCES begin playing quick bluegrass music.)

 

(ABIGAIL wakes up a chicken. She pops her chicken head out from underneath the skin and attempts, several times, to get out from underneath. With no other option, ABIGAIL is forced to use her beak to tug the skin away from her. She leaves the bed, flutters in the air momentarily and lands. ABIGAIL hides by the foot of the bed. Throughout the scene, she waddles her way towards the door. She is clumsy and awkward in her new body.)

 

ROOSTER
(As ABIGAIL escapes)

We’ve been lied to about the fat lady. The fat lady couldn’t sing because her mouth had a dick in it. Did you know that? She wasn’t so happy about being “The Fat Lady” so she abandoned her fork and put a penis in her mouth.   And she was like “you know what, this isn’t so bad. Tastes like salt. I can deal with it.” And the fat lady shrunk. She fellated her way into marrying royalty. Royalty. Ok? A fat queen who didn’t have to fucking sing anymore just because she was fat. And it was all because of the blowjob. But that was eighteen hundred years ago. Six hundred years later, phallic foods become all the rage as we try to trick women into craving the phallus in the summertime.  And it works. No more hotdogs and popsicles, girls. Just penis. And then only three hundred years or so later, lipstick becomes long lasting and cigarettes become sexy, so women can satisfy their guy with a BJ, satisfy themselves with a cigarette, and still look like seductive red-mouthed high-bred ladies. Who happen to like giving head. Get it? Dicks are trending. And everyone’s happy. But then, I don’t know what happens. All of a sudden Oprah is Oprah, Madonna is Madonna, fucking nobody cares about Ultimate Fighting anymore, Sex in the City is an HBO hit and my wife hangs herself just because she feels like it.

(He thinks about it, plucking at his banjo.)

And nobody’s blown me since I became a rooster.

(He laughs. He thinks about it. Music comes and goes.)
So I think, it feels like, this is the year. What do you think? I think, yeah, guys. I think yeah. I think this is the year you’re all going to empower your daughters to be themselves, what do you think, even if they’re mutants, what do you think, and then we’re going to have all of these mutant fucking daughters walking around being mutants. Ok? This is the year when we stop ignoring ugly people and the BMI index is remodeled to pardon our obesity epidemic and “tired” becomes the new “sexy” and Frieda refuses to wax her eyebrows and Roseanne refuses to lose weight and Hilary refuses to give a blowjob. Because this is it. Your genes are kicking in and you’re too old to be fake. You are your father. And he’s a decent guy but that’s it’s own weird little contradiction, right.

(He pauses, thinking and plucking the banjo. Music crescendos as he speaks, peaking at a roar by the time he starts singing below. From this point forward, a bluegrass strings accompaniment fades in and out throughout the scene)

See that blanket? It’s a pile of skin. And see that chicken? That’s my daughter. And up until last night she was a fat lady.

 

JERRY

Abigail?

 

ABIGAIL

It’s skin day Jerry.

 

JERRY

Yeah. Looks like it.

 

ABIGAIL

My skin fell off. You’re lying under my skin.

 

JERRY

Yes—Where are you?

 

(Music surges as JERRY wades through ABIGAIL’s skin)

 

ROOSTER

(singing)

McKinley hollered, McKinley squalled
Doc said, McKinley, I can’t find the cause
You’re bound to die, you’re bound to die

 

JERRY

You were a lot of woman.

 

ABIGAIL

I know. Starving was a waste of time. I was all fat anyways.

 

JERRY

You weren’t fat.

 

ABIGAIL

You liked it, that’s why, that’s why you say that but I, Jerry, I was fat. I thought I made progress. We tried the chickenfeed diet. Didn’t we?

 

JERRY

I don’t know what kind of crazy diet you’re following now—

 

ABIGAIL

I’m? I’m following? We. Jerry, we have to follow it. Together. Didn’t you buy me the low fat chickenfeed? Did you remember to buy the low fat?   Because, otherwise this diet is just a waste of time.

 

JERRY

I feed you normal food, Abbey. Like a normal woman.

 

ABIGAIL

But I’m not a normal woman, Jerry. I’m a fat woman. I’m a fat chicken woman. For God’s sake, how many times—You just made me fatter. You could have helped me.

 

JERRY

No one can help you.

 

ABIGAIL

You could have at least cooked me the meal I asked for. Typical man with your typical agenda to turn your wife into a typical chicken.

 

JERRY

You’ve never turned into a chicken.

 

ABIGAIL

And I never will. You can keep your full-fat chickenfeed.

 

JERRY

I never fed you chickenfeed!

 

ABIGAIL

WHY NOT JERRY

 

JERRY

BECAUSE I LIKE YOU FAT, WHERE ARE YOU?

 

ROOSTER

(Singing as JERRY searches)

Doc told the horse, he’d throw down his rein
He said to the horse, “You gotta outrun the train
From Buffalo to Washington”

 

ABIGAIL

You’ll never find me. I’m half my size.

 

JERRY

Only half?

 

ABIGAIL

Don’t be disappointed.
JERRY

No no. It’s good. That’s still fat.

 

ABIGAIL

I lost my vagina.

 

JERRY

No. What?

 

ABIGAIL

I lost my vagina in the bed.

 

JERRY

How? It’s a hole. Do you still have a hole?

 

ABIGAIL

I don’t know.

 

JERRY

Check.

 

ABIGAIL

I don’t have fingers. I’M USELESS!

 

JERRY

I’ll check. Abbey—(pulling on the skin and spotting ABIGAIL) Abbey you’re a chicken.

 

ABIGAIL

No I’m not.

 

ROOSTER

(singing)

The Doc came a-running, he took off his specs
He said, Mr McKinley better cash in your checks
You’re bound to die, you’re bound to die

 

(JERRY lifts the skin. Dead skin snows throughout the room. The skin falls to the foot of the bed. ABIGAIL is caught under the skin. JERRY stands on the bed, staring at the blanket.)

 

JERRY

Huh—

 

ABIGAIL

Will you help me up?

 

JERRY

I think I found your vagina.

 

ABIGAIL

You can’t recognize my vagina?

 

JERRY

I haven’t memorized the landscape of your vagina.

 

ABIGAIL

Serves you right for never using your face.

 

JERRY

I know what a vagina looks like.

 

ABIGAIL

“It’s a hole”.

 

JERRY

It is!

(He pokes at the skin.)

But, no, this is just a roll of fat, I think.

 

ABIGAIL

Can you poke a hole in it? Maybe you can make your own vagina.

 

(JERRY moves the skin around)

 

JERRY

It might be in here. It’s just so dusty.

 

ABIGAIL

Maybe you can vacuum the room with your new vagina.

 

JERRY

No. No no. I have to find yours.

 

(JERRY begins to tear the skin off of ABIGAIL.)

 

ROOSTER

(Singing)

Look-it here you rascal, you see what you’ve done

You’ve shot my husband and I’ve got the gun

Carry me back, to Washington

 

ABIGAIL

When daddy became a rooster, he waltzed into the kitchen with his skin over his shoulders like it was a cape…I’m trying to picture if his penis was still there but no…Or maybe that’s how he tied it around his neck? You know, I really can’t remember. I suppose it would have looked different if it was knotted around his neck. Less like a penis and more like a fluffed royal collar, like a flared penile collar, you know like those slutty Euro royalty types wear to weddings, or maybe like a scarf, silk penis scarf like the kind of dickish scarf an off-duty violinist might wear in Manhattan on an autumn stroll, it could have been like that, depending on what dad’s penis looked like, I don’t know, how ruffled his penis was, I don’t know. I wanted to keep it, his skin. I still wish I had it but mom took it away.

 

(JERRY holds up the blanket. ABIGAIL is released.)

 

JERRY

Abigail—

 

ABIGAIL

Promise you’ll give the skin to Fourteen. She should have her mother’s skin. I want her to know what I lost for her.

 

JERRY

You are way less than half your size.

 

ROOSTER

(Singing)

Roosevelt’s in the White House, he’s doing his best
McKinley’s in the graveyard, he’s taking his rest
He’s gone, for a long time

 

(A pause between them. The music ends. They think about their usual size dichotomy and all of a sudden, they act: JERRY has no problem getting out of bed and handling ABIGAIL. ABIGAIL has every problem in the world trying to get away.)

 

(JERRY picks up ABIGAIL)

 

ABIGAIL

Put me down.

 

JERRY

There it is. I found your vagina!

 

(JERRY carries ABIGAIL out of the bedroom and takes her to the coop. As he walks, she keeps momentarily finding a way out of his arms but he just picks her back up and keeps carrying her. She walks just enough to leave some footprints along their path.)

 

ABIGAIL

Get your finger out of my cunt. I’m not going to lay an egg.

 

JERRY

Yes you will.

 

ABIGAIL

It’s impossible.

 

JERRY

But I know you have eggs up there Abigail. I know, I know you have eggs up there. You may not think I look especially hard every time you spread your legs to let me in, but I do and, last time I checked, you still had a full supply.

 

ABIGAIL

No no no, I’m too old.

 

JERRY

Don’t call yourself names, Abigail. You’re changing. Eggs will come and when they come, you’ll be overflowing.

 

ABIGAIL

Jerry, maybe I don’t want to overflow. Ever thought about that? I haven’t made up my mind yet. About the eggs.

 

JERRY

We both know you lost your mind years ago.

 

ABIGAIL

No, you lost my mind. You lost it. I gave you every thought I had because we were in love and I was an idiot. And you took my whole mind and you lost it and next thing I know, I’m a pregnant mindless woman with a chicken brain, clutching a pair of binoculars with my chicken claws, searching for death in the near future or, hopefully, my mind somewhere in the distant horizon.

 

JERRY

You never found it.

 

ABIGAIL

That’s because there are too many lost minds to look through on this farm. But I found some woman’s brain. I have the brains of a woman, Jerry, and I will lay eggs when I want to lay eggs.

 

JERRY

Chicken ladies lay eggs, Abigail.  Brain, no brain, who cares, what good do you think it does you, anyways? There’s no job for you, no place for you. You are a middle-aged chicken-lady with a mind that might not even be yours. So, this is good. I’m helping you.

 

ABIGAIL

No—

 

JERRY

Yes! You think I want to do this? It’s for you, this is you, this is your value. Ok? I know how much your worth, Abbey. I can measure it in eggs. And it’s so much. You’re worth: So much. Finally. And I promise I’ll give them to Fourteen.

 

ABIGAIL

You say that now.

 

JERRY

I’m a good father.

 

ABIGAIL

You say that now.

 

JERRY

And a good husband.

 

ABIGAIL

Ok, so? I want to live at home with you.

 

JERRY

You can’t. You’re a chicken.

 

ABIGAIL

No I’m not.

 

JERRY

Ok.

 

(JERRY drops ABIGAIL)

 

JERRY

So then live at home with me.

 

(ABIGAIL tries to waddle towards JERRY. She is very slow.)

 

JERRY

Come on, Abbey. Come live at home with me.

 

(ABIGAIL slowly makes her way to JERRY. He abandons her, turning to leave.)

(Bluegrass music ignites once again)

(ABIGAIL gets faster. She catches up with JERRY and starts pecking at his legs, violently.)

 

JERRY

OW! Ow! Ow ow ow hey hey hey hey

 

(ABIGAIL pecks at JERRY until he picks her up and tries to return her to the back of the coop. JERRY is forced to drop ABIGAIL.)

 

JERRY

Oooowww for Christ sake Abbey.

 

ABIGAIL

(as she pecks)

Oh, “for Christ sake, Abbey. For Christ sake, Abbey.” You think Christ keeps his eye on you, Jerry? You think he’s going to protect you from your fat chicken wife? Why, because you know his name? And his date of birth? Christ is not as easily charmed as a five year old girl, he’s busy, ok? Or did you forget about the orphans, Jerry? And the crippled? And the disaster-prone? The people in pain: The chronic-hiccup-sufferers and the curly haired adults and the middle children and the bottom-heavy men and the ping-pong silver medalists and the middle-aged female kleptomaniacs and the middle-aged male bike tour guides and the twenty-something trick-or-treaters, these are real people in pain, these are people in pain, Jerry, these are people in pain…did you forget about the rest of the aching world? They are louder than you, they drown you out. Christ can’t hear you. You aren’t even a Christian!

 

JERRY

Abigail! ABIGAIL!

 

(JERRY holds ABIGAIL in place.)

 

JERRY

Don’t make me put you in a cage.

 

(ABIGAIL pecks JERRY. JERRY pushes ABIGAIL and leaves.)

 

ABIGAIL

Are you coming back?

 

JERRY

Of course.

 

(JERRY considers ABIGAIL. JERRY smothers ABIGAIL with a hug.)

 

JERRY

Of course.

 

(JERRY exits. ABIGAIL tries to make her way out of the coop.)

(Music livens.)

 

ROOSTER

Roosevelt’s in the White House, he’s doing his best
McKinley’s in the graveyard, he’s taking his rest
He’s gone, for a long time
(JERRY, regretfully, leaves his wife.)

 

 


  1. The scene where Rooster and Jerry agree

 

ROOSTER

June 13th 8 am. Year of the dad who just can’t get it right. It’s the year we blame our fathers and their fathers and their fathers and their fathers and their fathers for global warming and civil war and autism. And the world gets warmer. And the citizens fight harder. And we all get a little more autistic. And dad just can’t get it right. Do we hate him yet? Or do we like him for trying? Or is this the year he’s so old he dies and we all forget he ever existed and we’re standing at the funeral trying to figure out what the hell we needed him for because we’re all just hot autistic soldiers anyways, you know. And we can only find mean things to say about him from then until the end of time. And then who do we blame? Who do we blame? Not dad. He’s dead. It’s an upset, you know, it’s just sort of unfair. Let’s resuscitate him. For fun. Or for love. Or need. Or whatever.

 

(JERRY exits the chicken coop)

 

ROOSTER

How’s your wife?

 

JERRY

She’s a chicken.

 

ROOSTER

She lay an egg?

 

JERRY

No.

 

ROOSTER

Then, she’s not a chicken. I keep telling you, she’s not a chicken until she lays an egg. And until she lays an egg, you won’t make any money off of her.

 

JERRY

I know

 

ROOSTER

Chicken-lady eggs go for thousands of dollars now.

 

JERRY

I know.

 

ROOSTER

A real delicacy. The most sought after breakfast food amongst men ages 10-90 and Eastern European warlords, Western Asian pimps, Floridian trailer park communities, Ikea customers, Saudia Arabian mallrats, White human rights activists, any Black person who ever wrote a song with Paul Simon, international students who study useless things, really tall, really really tall, hairy babies, the entire cast and crew of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Wolf Blitzer, every single member of Guns and Roses and Hindu barbeque critics all rave about chicken-lady eggs.

 

JERRY

You forgot Yemeni royalty.

 

ROOSTER

Of course, Yemeni royalty. Of course. They love it with red wine. At the breakfast table. Or whenever.

 

JERRY

I know. And she looks like a chicken. And she has a vagina. So it’s any day now.

 

ROOSTER

That is not how it works. Only enlightened vaginas lay eggs.

 

JERRY

I can’t enlighten a vagina.

 

ROOSTER

No, me neither. Not a woman’s vagina. But a chicken is easy. A chicken just needs to see the light. A light in the eye will force a chicken to lay an egg. Just some stimulation is all. Something beautiful. Like the farm-boy. Show her the farm-boy and she will lay an egg.

 

JERRY

Yeah?

 

ROOSTER

Works every time. I hired many farm-boys just to make my chicken-ladies lay eggs. I was never good-looking enough.

 

JERRY

But your wife lay a lot of eggs.

 

ROOSTER

Terry was never a chicken. And Terry was different. Terry let me enlighten her vagina whenever I pleased because she loved my manly looks. Poor sweet Terry screams in horror the day I walk into the kitchen, full-grown Rooster, cape of skin dragging behind me. No penis, just not the man she married, you know. She buries my skin under the porch that day but a week later digs it up. So romantic, she believes I’ll be lying there waiting for her, still handsome. But life is shit, Jerry, and your husband’s skin is only ever going to be your husband’s skin. She finds me and I’m already chewed up by the rats. I hear her scream, I run outside, and I’m watching the rats eat my flesh and I think “ok, we’re going to have a rat problem”. And I turn to tell her “Terry, we’re going to have a rat problem” but she was already tying her noose in the chicken coop. And in that second, it’s funny, I’m thinking of killing myself too until I watch her jump from the rafters and just bounce around a bit at the bottom of her fall and then I think “fuck, that’s not great” you know, that’s not a great ending. It sounds great: An epic flight through the air while you plunge and you soar and you dangle and you die and I watch and I care and I plunge with you and I soar with you and it’s all so dramatic and it’s an immortalized confusion from then until the end of time for me, trauma, right, it’s walking in on Dorothy fucking the Tin Man or Golda Meir with her hair down, it’s disturbing. But impossible to forget, if only for the sympathetic memory. Iconic but annoying: The hanging woman. And stupid. Because, she probably could have handled the rat problem, you know. But.

(ROOSTER considers his dead wife’s death)

And then, Abigail visits her constantly until bats devour her and she just kind of falls to the ground, covering Abbey in her insides.

 

JERRY

I know. I found her. She fell in love with me from underneath her dead mother.

 

ROOSTER

Not many people can say that.

 

JERRY

Half the people living on this farm can say that. That’s probably not a good statistic.

 

ROOSTER

Well—we’ve forged our own standards here.

 

JERRY

I should get rid of Abigail’s skin.

 

ROOSTER

Give it to Fourteen.

 

JERRY

She won’t like it. I’ll have to feed it to the rats myself. Too much to bury.

 

ROOSTER

Maybe you can feed it to the rats together. Like a father-daughter activity. There aren’t enough activities on this farm for Fourteen, I don’t think. It’s not healthy.   For a teenager.

 

JERRY

We’re going to have a rat problem.

 

ROOSTER

Don’t hang yourself.

 

JERRY

No, that wouldn’t be very inventive.

 

(JERRY exits into the house.)

 

ROOSTER

Or maybe this is the year dad kills himself because he realizes—

 

(ROOSTER contemplates, plucking his banjo, relying on it.)

(As ROOSTER starts singing, the band follows, accompanying only with their voices.)

 

ROOSTER

(singing “Do You Call the Religion)

Well the preacher in his church house
All reared back in his chair
But when you tell him about his duty
He’ll say that he don’t care

 

Do you call that religion, oh no
Do you call that religion, no child no
Do you call that religion, oh no
I declare ain’t that a shame

 

(As ROOSTER sings, JERRY enters the bedroom. JERRY gathers the skin and drags it into the kitchen. He waits for FOURTEEN.)