Anger. Heartbreak. Homicidal thoughts. All stemming from the collision between people who don’t garden, and the garden of someone who does. Thought I’d tell the tale as the classic tragedy it is. A bit of fun for a Sunday morning. – MW
Cold evening in January at dusk. Light snow is falling, coating the drive and surround of house deep in a Virginia stream valley. A poker game between eight men is about to begin. Massive but suspiciously clean vehicles descend onto drive. A battered golf cart driven by OUR HEROINE is negotiating icy bridge on the way to wood pile. A Ford 950 pulls up and swings wide to park on top of the hypericum. OUR HEROINE stops cart.
OUR HEROINE [sweetly] Hey there! Uh… can I ask that you park on the other side of the potting bench? I know it’s tough to see, but I’ve got plants there…. And there…. Oh and there too.
POKER PLAYER 1 No problem. [Pulls forward, flattening the boxwood starts.]
OUR HEROINE [grimacing] Let me just guide…uh…can you SEE me? Don’t…uh…oh dear God. [swears under breath]
POKER PLAYER 1 Good?
OUR HEROINE Yeah. Just…oh never mind. [sees two Ford 1150s coming down drive, but is aware that furnace is within two minutes of burning out] I’ve gotta get the wood in – Can you help them park on the other side of your vehicle?
POKER PLAYER 1 Sure. Damn it is icy.
OUR HEROINE You guys have trucks, maybe you could go down to the wood pile, turn around and park in a line along the river bank? Or just park up by the house on the asphalt landing next to my car? Just made it up there in the golf cart. You see I’ve got plants you can’t see…
POKER PLAYER 1 Hmmm yeah… wouldn’t want to get stuck.
OUR HEROINE [under breath] That’s what your f***** truck is for.
Garage. Door open. A chaos of plants on carts, Christmas boxes and recycling is spread out. OUR HEROINE crouches before the furnace, trying to encourage the fire but is obviously distracted by the parking situation going on outside. POKER PLAYER 2 enters.
POKER PLAYER 2 Damn sure is icy.
OUR HEROINE Yeah, you said that. [Looks up] Oh sorry that was someone else. Did you park okay?
POKER PLAYER 2 Yep, slipped right in next to that covered porch thing down there.
OUR HEROINE [Jumps up] Oh my God do you mean on the grass next to the pavilion?!? I have a fortune in plants down there.
POKER PLAYER 2 Yeah, no worries. Saw the little tree, pulled next to it.
OUR HEROINE [Runs down to bridge, nearly falling] But it’s not about what you can seeeeeeeeeee! Son of a bitch!
[Two F1650 trucks pull in against the pavilion, one flattens two, one-foot yellow-twig dogwoods]
OUR HEROINE [Resignedly] Well, it could have been the parrotia ….
POKER PLAYER 3 [pokes head out of vehicle] Want to make sure I can get out of here….
OUR HEROINE Yeah, that’s high on my agenda too. [Spies husband’s car parked along drive on top of hellebores] Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me…. I’m going to freaking kill him this time.
[Grabs shovel. Heads to house intent on homicide. Catches up to POKER PLAYER 4 making his way up. Considers witnesses and loosens grip on shovel.]
POKER PLAYER 4 [Stepping on epimedium edging the drive] Saw your garden this summer when we last played here. Pretty nice.
OUR HEROINE Well it was…
POKER PLAYER 5 [Shouts from house] Let’s get started folks! Jim’s stuck in a ditch – he’s walking in.
OUR HEROINE Finally some good news.
A warm and inviting front room. Fire crackles. Music plays softly. ALL POKER PLAYERS surround a dining room table, intent on their game. OUR HEROINE walks down stairs from office where she has been Ranting silently with aid of laptop and large glass of red. She re-fills her wine glass generously at the drinks cabinet.
POKER PLAYER 6 Hey is that a red wine?
OUR HEROINE Sure is. Let me get you a glass. [Pours a glass and hands it to him.]
HUSBAND [Looks up suddenly concerned] Which one did you open?
OUR HEROINE Something French. Quite good actually.
HUSBAND What now?
OUR HEROINE Yes, quite good. I’m enjoying it immensely.
HUSBAND [Trying to control panic – jumps up and looks at bottle] Oh my God you opened that Bordeaux? I just bought that to put down.
OUR HEROINE Did I? Whoops. Well, it was pretty nice. I’m sure it might have been even better, but it really hit the spot.
POKER PLAYER 6 Oh, hey, no worries I can just have a beer….
OUR HEROINE No please, enjoy. It’s quite good.
HUSBAND [Stares at now-empty bottle] Oh my God…
OUR HEROINE [Heads upstairs] Enjoy your game boys.
Curtain falls. Gardeners in audience leave satisfied.
Upon reviewing this epic drama and terming it “passive-aggressive ecstasy” with “a magnificent central character straight out Euripides,” a playwright friend with an impish sense of humor felt that, despite its award-winning qualities, it missed a pivotal closing soliloquy. I attach his literary impertinence and rampant plagiarism here for the Bardophilic gardeners out there…
OUR HEROINE[Takes glass to top of stairs, turns dramatically and addresses the Heavens]
The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Poker Players
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry ‘Hold, hold!’ For they have squashed my plants
The budding things that with a mother’s hands
I did with loving words and grubby nails
Encourage their rebirthedness
In squall and gale and hail
As gently as cupping hands cradle
The newborn’s downy head.
Only for this! This treason on Nature’s sleepful bed
Those tyre tracks that didst outrage the very mud
And blood of my dear efforts. Hark!
Vultures of Hades behold! I shall not
This outrage tolerate with mealy politesse unavenged,
But must set foot into the woods despite the dire midnight
Despite the howl of rapacious beasts plagued by savage hunger
And live from now in silence with the bears.
HUSBAND[Gulps visibly. Turns to POKER PLAYER 6]
Uh..is it cool if I stay with you for a couple weeks? She knows how drive the Bobcat and she’s got her own shotgun.