Blood Match

By Oliver Mayer

Adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s Bodas de sangre

Volume 5, Issue 4 (Fall 2015)

 El grito de la seguiriya ranchera: Roots of Lorca’s Theatre in Oliver Mayer’s Blood Match

Oliver Mayer’s Blood Match (2015) is not a translation, but rather a new work of dramatic verse and prose inspired by Federico García Lorca’s Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding) (1933). Even so, it should still bear great interest for The Mercurian and its readership, as Mayer accomplishes the formidable and protean task of refashioning across time, culture, and language key elements of Lorca’s theatrical masterpiece —a world governed by ravenous supernatural forces, a secret wish for revenge, a sense of impending doom, an obsessive passion that can only be harbored on the run, and an all-consuming destruction that boils over from beneath the surface. The inspiration provided by Lorca’s Bodas de sangre in Mayer’s writing is two-fold. First through Mayer’s creativity, dramatic motifs and archetypal characters from Bodas de sangre provide a poetic framework to address onstage the corruption, shadow economy and violence resulting from Sinaloa becoming the center of the global drug trade. Second, Oliver Mayer takes a lesson from Lorca in crafting a theatrical world from the culture grounded beneath the landscape of Sinaloa, Mexico.

The exchange of meaning that takes place between Lorca’s Andalucía and Mayer’s Sinaloa is built upon the striking resonance between the two worlds. As Mayer pointed out in an interview, the central connection between Lorca’s characters and his own is the precarious conditions of life on the margins, of living outside the precepts of the law or at the limits of convention. The characters embrace this marginality as it seals their doomed fate. Working from this kernel of synchronicity, Oliver Mayer transforms the characters, symbolism, and motifs of Bodas de sangre to speak to a world of opium farmers living under the shadow of the cartel. The family feud is fueled by a competition for the cartel’s money, and the wedding itself becomes a business transaction to unite two lucrative opium farms. When the Bridegroom hunts the Bride and Leonardo in the countryside near the end of the play, he carries out the hunt under the watch of a cartel man. As Mayer points out, “The Groom is unknowingly doing the dirty work yet again for the conglomerate, thinking that he is satisfying his blood lust and honor when he is actually doing business for the cartel.”[1] Although the play is a radical departure from Bodas de sangre, Lorca’s play ghosts the characters of Blood Match at every turn. And this haunting mourns for what, at the expense of poetry, the archetypes are missing, or rather, cannot retain in this world—an irresistible call to transcend self and return to their structural roots. For example, the lovers boil over with hatred and self-obsession and this corrupted passion is dramatized in their final scene in the poppy fields. Throughout the play, the repeated image of poppies glowing in the dark evokes the space of the opium fields. The poppies are receptacles for the moonlight and the doom that it beckons. Sharing a moment of ecstasy in the fields, Leonardo and the Bride shoot heroin, giving a whole new meaning to Lorca’s metaphor of “clavos de luna,” which join the lovers to one another and their dark fate. In this case, their secret and irresistible desire is an addiction to escapism and self-destruction. Perhaps, this is the best one can hope for in world poisoned by drugs and blood money pumping in and out of U.S. and global markets that corrupt Sinaloa and riddle Northern Mexico with violence.

Drawing upon the borderlands and the popular culture of greater Mexico with postmodern flare, Oliver Mayer casts La Santa Muerte and José Malverde as the supernatural mediators of a theatrical world where we encounter singer Gloria Trevi, boxer Julio César Chávez, and children’s TV Personality el Chapulín Colorado. In the first scene, the shrewd Mother of the Bridegroom, “dressed very telenovela,” prays before her alter of La Santa Muerte asking that she finally be granted revenge against the Felix family. The figure of La Santa Muerte comes to life and answers her devotee, saying “Te bendigo” (I bless you), an utterance that sets the wheels of tragic fate in motion. In Mayer’s postmodern borderlands, the punkera Bride is introduced with the thumping beat of Gloria Trevi’s hit “Pelo Suelto,” the leitmotif that melodramatically underscores her moments of amorousness, distress, and rage. As a pop culture derived archetype, Trevi embellishes the Bride’s destructive impulses with a youthful rebellion familiar to contemporary audiences. José Malverde, the bandit folk saint and patron of narcotraficantes, looms over the poppies in the countryside at night. Malverde is much like the Moon in Bodas de sangre, a personified symbol that not only forebodes death, but also summons it forth. Although a human altar of suppliants implore Malverde to hide them from their pursuers, he shines upon the fugitive lovers with his blue light and binds them with the Bridegroom in blood.

Brought to the stage in the February 2015 USC School of Dramatic Arts production directed by David Bridel, Blood Match’s dense poetic universe of images, motifs, and characters was made manifest by designer Takeshi Kata and the brilliant ensemble cast. Masterfully interpreting La Santa Muerte disguised as the Beggar Woman, actor Amaka Izuchi’s performance grotesquely embodied another kind of borderlands, the one between the worlds of the living and the dead. With jagged movement through the shadowy moonlight of Leigh Allen’s lighting design, the Beggar Woman sung the Bride’s rebellious anthem, “Pelo Suelto,” while laughing through her teeth at the naiveté of its spirited sentiment. This moment wed beauty with horror, icon with stereotype, trauma with laughter, devotion with betrayal, and poetry with a scream. The production brought to light that Blood Match is a score comprised of all these notes. Its music intones the corruption and violence plaguing Northern Mexico with a resilient grito, and in much the same way that the Santos treat the three young lovers, Blood Match consumes its audience, as it draws us in and ignites fire in our veins.

Eric Mayer-García

Louisiana State University

Oliver Mayer is the author of nearly 30 plays, from the ground-breaking Blade to the Heat to his most recent play The Sinner From Toledo, inspired by a Chekhov short story. An award-winning associate professor with tenure at the University of Southern California’s School of Dramatic Arts, Oliver also writes opera libretti, cabaret, screenplays, children’s books and poetry.

Eric Mayer-García is a PhD candidate in the LSU Department of Theatre. His dissertation research focuses on the Cuban avant-garde theatre in Havana, Miami, and New York and its intersection with U.S. Latina/o theatre. He has published and presented original research on nineteenth-century Cuban costumbristas in New Orleans, teatro vernáculo in early twentieth-century Ybor City, popular theatre collective Teatro Escambray, as well as the theatre of Maria Irene Fornes, Virgilio Piñera, Reinaldo Arenas, and Caridad Svich.

Federico García Lorca is one of the world’s greatest modern poets and playwrights. In the 1920s Lorca studied at La Residencia de Estudiantes where he wrote his first play, El maleficio de la mariposa, which experimented with Symbolism. While studying in Madrid, he became friends with Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel. The three formed part of the Catalán Surrealist Group that identified with Tristan Tzara and Andre Bretón’s movement. Lorca authored several popular farces through the 1920s. His Romancero Gitano (1928) quickly garnered him international notoriety as a poet. In 1930 he traveled to Harlem, where he became fast friends with Langston Hughes, and Havana, where Lydia Cabrera took him to see Ñanigo performances, and, who years later introduced him to Margarita Xirgu in Madrid. After returning to Spain, Lorca received funding from the newly founded Second Republic of Spain in 1931 to form a theatre company called La Barraca that toured through Andalucía and Southern Spain. Lorca directed and acted in the plays of Calderón de la Barca and Lope de Vega for rural audiences. When touring through Southern Spain, García Lorca began to write Bodas de Sangre. After he directed the premiere of the play in Madrid in 1933, Lorca saw Margarita Xirgu perform the title role in a production of Seneca’s Medea, directed by Cipriano Rivas. The production gave Lorca a new clarity of how to bring tragedy together with duende. Xirgu and Rivas became Lorca’s collaborators for the third production of Bodas de Sangre in 1935, as well as the premieres of Yerma (1934) and Doña Rosita la soltera (1935). The second production of Bodas de Sangre staged by Lola Membrives in Buenos Aires in 1933 created tremors in Latin America’s avant-garde that are still felt today. García Lorca’s assassination in 1936 at the hands of a fascist uprising was truly one of the great tragedies of the modern theatre. The Franco regime instituted a complete ban on his works until 1953. Despite attempts to silence his work in Spain, García Lorca’s theatre became just as influential in the Americas as Brecht’s, and has fueled the work of contemporary U.S. Latina/o playwrights, including María Irene Fornés, Nilo Cruz, Caridad Svich, and Oliver Mayer.

 

BLOOD MATCH

ACT ONE

As AUDIENCE enters, the Company greets them.

Mexican WEDDING MUSIC plays, cheesy and fun, as they try to get AUDIENCE MEMBERS to dance with them, and to teach them the basic steps (cumbia? quebradita?). It’s hardly about great dancing; it is about the sacred rite of marriage. In its seemingly innocent way, it creates a web of family.

DARKNESS EXCEPT FOR MOONLIGHT

SINALOA countryside, mountains in the near distance. Rolling fields of POPPIES, which glow in the dark.

Then the sound of a CROWN VICTORIA running hard on an unpaved road. HIGH BEAMS bounce until it comes to a labored stop. A SINGLE LIGHT reveals a heretofore dark window. From her bedroom the BRIDE TO BE stares out at the unseen DRIVER. Sound of a MAN breathing hard. A long, full stare, until the Crown Vic tears away, high beams bouncing against the walls.

A moment, then Bride turns off the light. Silence.

Below her, the MAID appears in the arms of the FATHER, and older man with gleaming white hair. He envelops her.

Maid: Viejo! Did you see?

FATHER: No, Vieja.

MAID: Did you hear?

FATHER: Ya no importa más. Bésame…

As he continues kissing and embracing her, MAID stares out, then up at the now-dark window as she genuflects.

Scene 1

MUSIC as darkness turns to DAWN. The Poppies stop glowing and assume an ORANGE color.

A ROOM PAINTED YELLOW.

MOTHER in black, prays to an ALTAR with candles, talismans and photos of a family. A single statue of LA SANTA MUERTE – a cross between The Grim Reaper and The Virgin Mary. When she finishes praying, she looks out at the poppies.

Mother: (DisgustedQue barbaridad!

Her son the BRIDEGROOM enters. He wears western gear of good quality, the picture of the young Patron.

Bridegroom: (Sees the poppies) Chido.

They kiss.

BRIDEGROOM (CONT’D): Gotta go.

MOTHER: Adónde?

BRIDEGROOM: The fields. Harvest time.

He puts on his cowboy hat at a rakish slant. He feels for his belt and knife sheath, now empty.

BRIDEGROOM (CONT’D): ‘Ama.

MOTHER: M’hijo?

BRIDEGROOM: Give me the knife.

MOTHER: The what?

BRIDEGROOM: I have to score the bulbs. Give me the knife, ‘Ama!

MOTHER: Knives, knives… I curse all sharp things.

She opens a box in which she has hoarded a collection of knives and other weaponry.

BRIDEGROOM: I was wondering where all these went.

He finds the knife.

MOTHER: All things that can cut into the body of a man, a man whose beauty flowers from his mouth, who goes out to his agave – or his poppies – because they are his legacy.

BRIDEGROOM: (Angering) Leave off, I’m asking nicely…

MOTHER: But he’ll never come back. And if he does return it’s only to place a rosary in his cold fist and coins on his eyes – and salt to keep the body from swelling.

BRIDEGROOM: Ya basta.

MOTHER: First, your father who smelled of marigold, who I only got to sleep beside for a measly three years. Then your brother bleeding out in the street. How is something small as a blade able to finish a man who is a bull?

BRIDEGROOM: Can we please finish this?

MOTHER: Can anyone bring your father or brother back to me?

BRIDEGROOM: Are you asking me to kill them?

MOTHER: No… It’s just I don’t like you carrying that knife. It’s just that… I wish you didn’t have to go to the fields.

BRIDEGROOM: (Laughing) We’ll both go!

MOTHER: I’d like it a lot better if you were a woman. You wouldn’t be going to the arroyo now. We’d embroider for the little ones to come, just us girls.

BRIDEGROOM: “Us Girls?” (Laughing) And what if I do take you to the poppy fields with me?

MOTHER: What use is an old woman in the poppy fields? Would you lie with me in the tall grass?

BRIDEGROOM: Ay mi carcancha! You crazy old clunker you!

MOTHER: That’s what your father did. He took me under the agave – before the marijuana and the heroin – he took me under the blue agave. We made you that way. That is good lineage, your bloodline! Your grandfather? Mucho pegue. Charisma with women! He left mocosos on every street corner in Culiacan. That’s the way I like it. Men are men. The rest are the fag-ends. The leavings. The waste.

BRIDEGROOM: And me, ‘Ama?

MOTHER: What about you?

BRIDEGROOM: I’m a man now. I want to get married. (Off her silence) Does it seem wrong to you?

MOTHER: No.

BRIDEGROOM: Then what?

MOTHER: She’s a good girl – I’m right, aren’t I? She makes her own tamales and sews her own reboso, and still in spite of everything when her name is said I feel as if they’ve thrown a rock in my face.

BRIDEGROOM: Tonterias!

MOTHER: Más que tonterias. You will leave me. The only thing I have left is you, I don’t want you to go.

BRIDEGROOM: But ‘Ama! You’ll come with us.

MOTHER: No. I will not leave your father and brother alone. I must go to tend to them every morning. If I were to leave then very easily one of the Felix family may die, and then that family of murderers might bury their own beside ours. And that ain’t gonna happen! Nunca en un millyon de años! Por encima de mi cadaver!

BRIDEGROOM: Here we go again.

Pause as he looks out the window and she at the altar.

MOTHER: How long have you been seeing each other?

BRIDEGROOM: Long enough for me to bring these fields to harvest. Long enough.

MOTHER: Three years. (Beat) She had another man, un galán, am I right?

BRIDEGROOM: Where’d you hear that? (Beat) I don’t know. I don’t think so. Girls have to watch out.

MOTHER: I didn’t watch out. I didn’t look at all. I looked at your father, and when they killed him I stared at the wall in front of me. One and done, that’s married life. Y qué?

BRIDEGROOM: I picked a good one, ‘Ama.

MOTHER: If you say so. Still, I just wish I knew more about her mother.

BRIDEGROOM: Her mother? Who cares?

MOTHER: You’re right! What does it matter about the mother. No importa. When shall we make the arrangements?

BRIDEGROOM: (Happily) How about Sunday?

MOTHER: I’ll bring her the turquoise pendant because it goes back generations. And you should buy her –

Mother tosses him a Victoria’s Secret mailer.

MOTHER (CONT’D): Something from here.

BRIDEGROOM: ‘Ama! You’re making me all chapateado!

MOTHER: Don’t blush. You think I don’t know about young people? And for yourself two suits, Western cut. And a new hat.

BRIDEGROOM: Chido!

MOTHER: Mi rey. You’re the only thing I have left in this world.

BRIDEGROOM: I just know that you are going to love my bride to be.

MOTHER: I love her already. (About to kiss him, stops.) Anda, you’re getting too big for kisses from me. Get some from your woman. (Qualifies it) When you’re married.

Delighted, Bridegroom exits into sunlight.

BRIDEGROOM: Me voy.

MOTHER: Dig down deep, my Son. It’s your first harvest as Patrón, our family’s first harvest. Now the cartels will come to us. Not the Felix and their bad luck. So work hard today and show no fear.

BRIDEGROOM: That’s the way it’s done.

MOTHER: (Blesses him) Te bendigo. Vaya con dios.

The Bridegroom exits. Mother stays seated with her back to the door. A NEIGHBOR appears at the door, hair in curlers.

NEIGHBOR: How’s it going?

MOTHER: Ya ves. What you see is what you get.

NEIGHBOR: I went for some medicine and thought I’d stop by.

Offers a spliff. They will pass it back and forth.

NEIGHBOR (CONT’D): We never see each other, you and I, we live so far apart.

MOTHER: I haven’t been to the end of the street in twenty years.

NEIGHBOR: Así es la vida. Two days ago they brought in my neighbor’s son, all torn up – the cartel.

MOTHER: Rafael?

NEIGHBOR: Kidnappings, beheadings, no one is safe anymore. (Prays at the altar) Your dead and mine are lucky to be sleeping in their graves.

MOTHER: Shut up.

NEIGHBOR: (Sadly) And your son? The living one?

MOTHER: Out there.

NEIGHBOR: (Stares out) Poppies! He’ll make a ton of cash. You can go to the Culiacan Galleria and buy all the best stuff now.

MOTHER: We had some good luck.

NEIGHBOR: And now he can get married.

Mother retrieves a bottle of mescal and two earthen cups.

MOTHER: Oye! Comadre, entre nosotros.

NEIGHBOR: (Hoping for something confidential) Tell me. Mother pours two shots.

MOTHER: Do you know this girl that my son is going with?

NEIGHBOR: Top shelf!

MOTHER: Yeah, sure, but…

NEIGHBOR: But no one really knows her, if you know what I mean. She lives alone with her father in the big house, way out there in the flat lands. (Downs her shot) But she’s good, so they say.

MOTHER: And her mother?

Neighbor pours herself another shot.

NEIGHBOR: A real knockout. Her face glowed, her eyes sparkled – like a saint. But I never liked her very much at all. No me cae bien. She didn’t love her husband.

MOTHER: Chismosa! How could you even know this about a person?

NEIGHBOR: But it’s the truth. Look, no one knows for sure if she played around on him. There’s no bochinche that I can gossip about. She kept her nose way up in the air, que cabrona.

MOTHER: (Grim) Just like the daughter!

NEIGHBOR: A la chingada. Hey, you asked me.

Mother gives her back the mescal. She pours a third shot.

MOTHER: I wish that none of us knew either of them, the dead mother or the living bride to be. They’re like cactus underfoot that you don’t see until you’ve stepped on the spines – until they’ve broken the skin.

NEIGHBOR: You’re right to ask around. Your son? He’s worth more than gold.

MOTHER: My son is worth mas que colibri. That’s why I have to watch out for him. I hear the girl had another man – un galán – some time ago.

NEIGHBOR: (Finishes the spliff) Not so long ago. The novio was crazy about her. He ended up marrying one of her cousins two years ago. On the rebound!

MOTHER: Who was this novio?

NEIGHBOR: Leonardo.

MOTHER: Which Leonardo?

NEIGHBOR: From the Familia Felix.

MOTHER: (Rising, fists raised) De los Felix?

NEIGHBOR: Hold on, Woman, don’t pin your vengeance on Leonardo! He didn’t kill your old man! He was a snot- nosed kid when the shit went down. He shares a name with the cartel – that’s it! He’s no matón!

MOTHER: All I have to hear is the name of Felix and nothing else matters. (Between teeth) Felix fills my mouth with dung. And I have to spit. (Spits) I have to spit. (Spits) Or else I’ll kill them all.

NEIGHBOR: Calm your culo down. Don’t wreck your son’s chance at happiness!

MOTHER: I have to tell him –

NEIGHBOR: Don’t say anything! You’re an old chismosa. Me too. You and I have to learn to zip our traps.

MOTHER: I won’t say another word.

NEIGHBOR: Not a single one.

MOTHER: (Serene) The things we know.

NEIGHBOR: (Downs final shot)That’s enough for one day. Soon everyone will be coming back from the fields and they’ll be hangry!

MOTHER/NEIGHBOR: Hungry and angry. Hijos de la chingada!

Laughing, they stand together at the door, both lit.

MOTHER: Whew it’s hot, have you ever seen the like of it?

NEIGHBOR: They’re roasting out there, they’ll come back black as Africans. (A hug) I like ’em dark! Bye Woman.

MOTHER: Adios.

Neighbor leaves. Mother at the altar, genuflects to the statue of La Santa Muerte, prays.

MOTHER (CONT’D): Santísima Muerte, te pido un gran favor con todo mi corazón: Since you are the powerful owner of the dark mansion of life and Empress of darkness, grant me what was promised to me. Venganza.

As she continues to pray, SANTA MUERTE comes to life, blesses Mother.

SANTA MUERTE: Te bendigo.

SCENE 2

A ROOM PAINTED ROSE. Lots of flowers and copper household items. A tablecloth over a large table. Morning. Leonardo’s MOTHER IN LAW with an INFANT in her arms. She rocks the baby. The WIFE texts, looks out the window, going stir crazy. The TV is on. To the tune of an El Chapulín Colorado children’s sing-along ditty on screen, Mother in Law sings:

MOTHER IN LAW: (Quotes the TV ditty)

MÁS ÁGIL QUE UNA TORTUGA

MÁS FUERTE QUE UN RATÓN

MÁS NOBLE QUE UNA LECHUGA

MI ESCUDO ES UN CORAZÓN!

EL CHAPULÍN COLORADO!

The baby cries. Mother in Law sings softer.

MOTHER IN LAW (CONT’D):

TARZANES Y KALIMARES

LE RINDEN ADMIRACIÓN

BATMANES Y SUPERMANES

LE VAN A PEDIR PERDON –

Wife MUTES the TV.

WIFE: Enough. Please.

MOTHER IN LAW: The baby loves it!

With a look, Wife takes the baby (who happens to be dressed in a Chapulín Colorado tee shirt) from Mother in Law.

MOTHER IN LAW (CONT’D): You loved it when you were a baby.

WIFE: I didn’t know any better.

Rocking him in her arms, she sings from “El Unicornio Azul”:

WIFE (CONT’D):

MI UNICORNIO AZUL

AYER SE ME PERDIÓ

NO SÉ SI SE ME FUE

NO SÉ SI EXTRAVIO

Y YO NO TENGO MÁS

QUE UN UNICORNIO AZUL

Sound of the Crown Vic arriving. Wife readies herself.

MOTHER IN LAW: Why that song?

WIFE: Because he is my blue unicorn.

MOTHER IN LAW: Hopeless romantic.

WIFE: I must have gotten that from Father because I didn’t get it from you.

Mother in Law exits with Baby, singing the “Chapulín Colorado” song under her breath.

LEONARDO enters, handsome but unkempt, sleepless.

LEONARDO: El chavalillo?

WIFE: Just got him to sleep.

LEONARDO: Bad boy. Cried all day yesterday.

WIFE: Es mi unicornio azul today. And you? Did you take the car in?

LEONARDO: Just got back from the shop. I put new tires on it two months ago, and they’re already shot to hell. Chinos cabrones, don’t even know how to make a decent tire anymore! It’s these Culiacan roads, nothing but potholes and sharp rocks.

WIFE: Or that you always drive off-road?

LEONARDO: I almost never go off-road.

WIFE: The migrant workers told me they saw you driving the Crown Vic way out on the edge of the plains, where they harvest marijuana.

LEONARDO: No one harvests marijuana anymore. It’s all heroin now. Poppies everywhere. (Beat) Who told you?

WIFE: I don’t know their names. (Beat) Eras tú?

LEONARDO: There’s nothing for me out there in the dry-beds. Just train tracks. Nothing but Guatemalans hopping trains heading North.

WIFE: That’s what I said. But the car is beat to shit, the paint job pockmarked from gravel and stones, and the tires are worn down.

LEONARDO: What do you know about cars?

WIFE: Nothing, but my mother does.

LEONARDO: She’s an expert on everything.

WIFE: (Changes tone) Want some water?

LEONARDO: Una fría bien fría.

WIFE: Why didn’t you come home to eat last night? I texted you a million times.

LEONARDO: I was with the cartel. You can’t disrespect them with phone calls.

WIFE: Will they pay a good price this year?

LEONARDO: There is no negotiating with them. They pay what they pay. (Under his breath) If they pay at all.

WIFE: I saw a new dress that you’ll like, Ann Taylor, and I’m sick of the baby’s Chapulín Colorado onesie.

LEONARDO: Come on. I want to see him sleep.

Mother in Law enters.

MOTHER IN LAW: Who’s driving that car like it’s a dump truck? The engine’s overheating! It’s leaking oil! It’s on its last legs! Who would do something like that?

LEONARDO: (Sour) I would.

MOTHER IN LAW: Oh well then! It’s your car, Son in Law; total it if you want to.

WIFE: (Timidly) He was with the cartel.

MOTHER IN LAW: Set it aflame for all I care. They’ll pay nothing for that shit harvest of ours.

WIFE: (To LEONARDO) Tecate?

(To MOTHER IN LAW) Did you hear my cousin is getting engaged?

LEONARDO: (Coughs) When?

WIFE: Tomorrow. The wedding will happen within the month. I’d imagine that we’ll be asked to attend.

LEONARDO: I wouldn’t know.

MOTHER IN LAW: I hear the Bridegroom’s mother is not very happy about the match.

LEONARDO: The old bruja may just be right. The girl is not to be trusted.

WIFE: I don’t like you saying bad things about my cousin; she’s good.

MOTHER IN LAW: He ought to know.

Uncomfortable silence.

LEONARDO: I gave her up. I dropped her. Three years ago hijo de la chingada(To WIFE, who weeps) What are you going to do now, cry? Quit it, or I swear I’ll… (Pulls her hands from her face) Come on. Let’s go see the kid.

They exit, embracing.

A Sales Girl appears in department store uniform.

SALES GIRL: The circus is in town! Did you see?

MOTHER IN LAW: The real circus is Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey! These are just Maroma – tinerant Yaqui Indios – doing carpa for the farmworkers. Pure vaudeville.

SALES GIRL: It’s going to be fun!

MOTHER IN LAW: Ay pelada! What are you bothering us for? Why aren’t you back at the store?

SALES GIRL: The Bridegroom came to Forever Pink and bought up all the best stuff we got!

MOTHER IN LAW: He came alone?

SALES GIRL: His mom came with too. Very nose in the air. Dressed very telenovela!

MOTHER IN LAW: They have money – now.

SALES GIRL: They bought lingerie! Lace underwear. Babydolls, bustle-backs and satin slips. And a pair of stockings that women dream about. (Points to her ankle) Look, a little bird here. (Her calf) A flying fish here. (Her thigh) And up here, a rose – very pink!

MOTHER IN LAW: Shut your mouth!

SALES GIRL: With thorns, may I add. The whole thing in silk! Ed Hardy.

MOTHER IN LAW: Takes money to make money. Two families are merging their wealth. This is business, not love.

Leonardo and Wife enter with the Baby.

WIFE: You look excited.

SALES GIRL: I came to tell you about all the stuff they bought at the store!

LEONARDO: We don’t give a damn! Pa’fuera.

WIFE: Leonardo! Leave her be.

MOTHER IN LAW: You don’t have to get so mad.

SALES GIRL: I’m sorry! (Leaves weeping) I thought you’d want to know! (Stops at the door, to WIFE) The circus is here.

Sales Girl exits weeping. The baby cries.

MOTHER IN LAW: Why be so evil to the girl? She did nothing to you.

LEONARDO: I hate the circus.

Pause. Distant sound of the Circus Tent being lifted. Leonardo goes to the door.

LEONARDO (CONT’D): Me voy.

WIFE: Don’t leave me like this, –! (Takes his hand)

LEONARDO: Take your hand off me.

WIFE: No, I need you to look at me and tell me what’s on your mind.

LEONARDO: Déjame.

MOTHER IN LAW: Where do you think you’re going?

LEONARDO: (Bitterly) Can you please shut up?

Leonardo exits. The Baby cries.

MOTHER IN LAW: (Takes the INFANT) Not you, M’Hijo! Scream all you want. We’ll take you to the circus!

Wife remains standing, frozen. Turns slowly as if dreaming.

WIFE:

MI UNICORNIO Y YO

HICIMOS AMISTAD

UN POCO CON AMOR

UN POCO CON VERDAD.

CON SU CUERNO DE ANIL

PESCABA UNA CANCIÓN

MI UNICORNIO Y YO

SABERLA COMPARTIR

ERA SU VOCACIÓN.

Mother in Law gives the baby to the Wife. The TV continues to show El Chapulín Colorado, muted.

Scene 3

The Big House where the Bride to Be lives. A large CROSS made up of large pink flowers. Mexican mirrors catch the light. Under glass, a CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE BELT sits in a place of honor. Hanging from a peg is a worn pair of BOXING GLOVES.

MAID: Pasen…!

Friendly, full of false humility, the Maid invites in the Bridegroom and his Mother. The Mother wears black, hair back, very severe. The Bridegroom wears a Western cut suit and a new hat – also a good watch chain. He carries presents.

MAID (CONT’D): Make yourself comfortable. Nuestra casa es su casa.

Mother pulls out used ladies underwear – Maid’s – from between the sofa cushions. Maid grabs it.

MAID (CONT’D): (Blushing) They’re coming.

Maid leaves. Mother and Bridegroom remain. Bridegroom examines the gloves, the belt.

MOTHER: Did you bring the watch?

BRIDEGROOM: Yes.

He brings it out of his pocket and opens it for her.

MOTHER: That was your grandfather’s. Everyone knew the gleam of that watch in the sun. Before the cartels. When Pancho Villa was the boss around here. (Warming up) Your abuelo? Looked a lot like Pancho Villa. Who knows? Maybe he was one of Villa’s mocosos.

BRIDEGROOM: ‘Ama!

MOTHER: That’s your blood. Be proud.

BRIDEGROOM: I am. (Inspecting the room) Her father must have been champion.

MOTHER: I guess. Now he just does what the drug lord tells him. (Fidgets) We don’t have all day. Why do they have to live so far away?

BRIDEGROOM: But they have really good land.

MOTHER: Sure it’s good, but there’s nothing else out here! Hours and hours and hardly a house or a tree anywhere!

BRIDEGROOM: It didn’t take that long. And that’s the way the Old Man likes it. More space for his poppies. Did you see? They glow like they’re on the moon!

MOTHER: Your father preferred good old-fashioned marijuana. He would have covered these hills with hemp.

BRIDEGROOM: I don’t know, Mom…

MOTHER: He had a green thumb. The three years we were married, he planted Colombian, Mexican Sativa, Purple Kush, Afghan Skunk, Thai and some Maui Waui – but it died.

BRIDEGROOM: She must be dressing up for us.

Enter the FATHER of the Bride. He has an old beaten face and his hair is full and shiny white. The Bridegroom shakes his hand in silence. The Mother kisses it in deference.

FATHER: Long drive?

MOTHER: Forever.

FATHER: You took the long way. Quicker to go off-road.

MOTHER: I’m too old to go off-road. That’s for lovers and other crazy people.

BRIDEGROOM: She gets carsick.

Awkward pause.

FATHER: Good harvest.

BRIDEGROOM: Excellent.

FATHER: When I was young, not even hemp would grow on this land. I had to beat it with my hands and cry on the plants in order to get something worthwhile to grow.

MOTHER: But look at your poppies now. Don’t whine about it. I haven’t come to ask for a piece of the action.

FATHER: You have the best amapola this side of Afghanistan. I just wish that your land and my land… you understand?… weren’t so far apart. Me, I like everything together. That’s what’s stuck in my craw. If only we could buy out the Felix family, then it would all be ours! But they won’t sell it to me for all the gold in Medellín.

BRIDEGROOM: I heard that their crops failed, that their harvest was a bust.

FATHER: Exactamente! If only we could demolish everything that separates us and start over, your mountain poppies and mine on the flatlands – now that gets this old heart pumping!

MOTHER: (Testy) That excites you? Why?

FATHER: Because what’s mine is my daughter’s. And what’s yours is your son’s. That’s why. To see it all together, in a row, all our combined wealth and power. That’s a thing of beauty.

MOTHER: What excites me is to see the Felix Family on its knees. Before I die, I would like to see their fields razed and their house bulldozed.

FATHER: We just might, Baby, we just might. If I had sons I would have bought land right up to the sea. Even the crap land, the salt flats, los secanos, because with hard work you can make anything grow. And because it’s such a sleepy part of Mexico, you can do what you want – mostly.

FATHER (CONT’D): Most nights I sleep like a baby. (To MAID) Don’t I?

MOTHER: You know why I’m here.

FATHER: I do. Seems like a good deal to me. As long as the youngsters can agree.

MOTHER: My boy is willing.

FATHER: My daughter is able.

MOTHER: My son? He’s gorgeous, a catch. Plus he’s never been with a woman. (BRIDEGROOM groans) His character is spotless, clean as a sun-dried altar cloth.

FATHER: And mine? Qué te puedo decir? She’s up before dawn to feed the men chilaquiles – very tasty. Never complains. You’ll find her soft and smooth to the touch. She’s good with her hands, and she can cut through a rope with her teeth.

MOTHER: (Impressed) Dios bendiga su casa!

FATHER: Que Dios la bendiga!

Father signals the Maid who arrives with champagne and various goodies. Father pops it to Bridegroom’s applause.

MOTHER: When should the wedding take place?

BRIDEGROOM: Soon. Next Thursday?

FATHER: Her birthday. She’ll be twenty-two.

MOTHER: Twenty-two! That would have been the age of my other son – had he not been murdered by the Felix.

Bridegroom ties to silence her with cake and champagne.

FATHER: Best not to think about such things. Not today.

MOTHER: I think about it every minute. Put your hand on my chest. Feel.

FATHER: Thursday, then. (To BRIDEGROOM) That’s the way you want it?

BRIDEGROOM: That’s the way I want it.

FATHER: (To MOTHER) You and I will drive with the bride and groom. We’ll take the BMW. It can’t go off-road, so we’ll go the long way; don’t want you to get carsick. The rest of the wedding party can come by land or by sea!

BRIDEGROOM: Or by air!

MOTHER: Agreed.

The Maid prompts the Father.

FATHER: Oh yes! Tell my daughter she can come in now. (To MOTHER) If you like her as much as I do, then we can really celebrate.

A small upstairs bedroom space; the BRIDE’s BEDROOM. Posters of Gloria Trevi. BRIDE TO BE sits with earphones on; she has a slightly Madonna-like attitude. Maid takes the buds from her ears and we hear Gloria Trevi’s “Pelo Suelto” before she shuts it off.

MAID: It’s time.

Maid takes her hand, smooths her hair, returns downstairs with the Bride to Be, who keeps her eyes lowered and her hands at her side. Mother looks her over.

MOTHER: Come close. Are you happy?

BRIDE TO BE: Yes Ma’am.

FATHER: Then don’t look so serious. When the dust settles she’s going to be your mother.

BRIDE TO BE: What I have to give I want to give.

MOTHER: Naturally. (Holds her by the chin) Mírame.

FATHER: She looks just like my wife. (Starts to cry) Igualita!

MOTHER: You are beautiful to look at, that’s for sure. You know what marriage is, don’t you, Little One?

BRIDE TO BE: I do.

MOTHER: One husband, a bunch of mocosos running around, and a stone wall between you and everything else.

Bridegroom takes Bride to Be’s hand.

BRIDEGROOM: Are we forgetting anything?

MOTHER: Just that you all live long lives. That’s it. Live long lives.

BRIDE TO BE: I will abide.

MOTHER: (Remembering) Here! Some presents.

Bride to Be opens the Victoria’s Secret first.

FATHER: Eso es!

MOTHER: I chose that one.

BRIDEGROOM: Do you like it?

BRIDE TO BE: Thank you.

FATHER: Let’s drink to them!

MOTHER: Liquor never touches my lips.

BRIDEGROOM: It touches mine!

Father pours Bridegroom a glass. But before he can drink:

MOTHER: My son doesn’t drink.

FATHER: Mejor!

Father drinks it. Awkward pause as everyone stands.

BRIDEGROOM: (To FATHER) Were you a boxer?

FATHER: I was.

BRIDEGROOM: And that’s your championship belt?

FATHER: Oh no. That was a gift. Do you know Julio Cesar Chavez?

BRIDEGROOM: Of course.

FATHER: He had a problem, and I fixed it. One day he came all the way out here to give this to me personally.

BRIDEGROOM: Wow. Julio César Chavez.

FATHER: JC Superstar. (Confidential) If you ever have a problem, come to me, my Son.

Mother clears her throat as if to go.

BRIDEGROOM: (To BRIDE) I’ll return tomorrow.

BRIDE TO BE: When?

BRIDEGROOM: At five?

BRIDE TO BE: Yo te espero.

For the first time, Bridegroom is able to get close to her.

BRIDEGROOM: (Quietly) Don’t believe everything my mother says about me.

For the first time, she smiles. It lights up the room.

BRIDEGROOM (CONT’D): Leaving your side makes me feel like I have no purpose in life. It hurts my heart, I don’t want to breathe.

BRIDE TO BE: Breathe. When we are married, you won’t feel that way ever again.

He moves to kiss her.

MOTHER: (Clears throat) Time to go. The Sun waits on no man. (To FATHER) All good?

FATHER: All good.

MOTHER: (To MAID) Adios, mujer. Cuídate.

MAID: Vayan ustedes con Dios!

Mother kisses the Bride.

MOTHER: Adios, Hija.

FATHER: Let me walk you both to the car.

Mother, Father and Bridegroom leave.

MAID: Omigod Let’s open your presents!

BRIDE TO BE: Let go.

MAID: Oh come off it Sourpuss, show me!

BRIDE TO BE: I don’t want to.

MAID: At least the undies. I bet he bought you butt floss!

BRIDE TO BE: Ea que no!

MAID: Cógelo con take it easy! You act as if you don’t want to marry the guy.

BRIDE TO BE: (In rage and despair) No más!

MAID: What’s going on in that little head of yours? Open up your presents.

Maid grabs a box. Bride grabs her wrists.

BRIDE TO BE: I said let go.

MAID: OW! Coño su madre! You’re strong as a man!

BRIDE TO BE: I wish to God I were.

MAID: A man? Much safer to be a woman.

BRIDE TO BE: (Calms herself) He’s a good man. Handsome. Hard-working. And he’s devoted to me.

MAID: Then you’ve slept together?

BRIDE TO BE: No seas tan pendeja!

MAID: Then he is a virgin!

BRIDE TO BE: No, I am!

Light change as the sun falls and evening sets in.

MAID: Did you hear a car last night?

BRIDE TO BE: When?

MAID: Before dawn.

BRIDE TO BE: Must have been one of Father’s truckers driving to Los Mochis.

MAID: This was no trucker.

BRIDE TO BE: You saw the driver?

MAID: I did. He drove right up to your window. Me molestó mucho.

BRIDE TO BE: Don’t be shocked. It must have been my fiancé. He comes by sometimes to see me when everyone is asleep. It was him. It must have been.

MAID: No.

BRIDE TO BE: Who did you see? Who did you see?

Maid looks around to make sure no one is listening.

MAID: Leonardo.

BRIDE TO BE: Liar! Why would he come here?

MAID: I don’t know, but he was here.

BRIDE TO BE: Just shut up! Don’t say another word or your tongue will rot.

Outside, the sound of the Crown Vic approaching.

MAID: Mira, asómate, Baby! Look out there and tell me – is he your lover?

BRIDE TO BE: Yes. He is.

END ACT ONE

 

ACT TWO

Scene 1

Front patio of the Bride’s house. The Bride enters, full of nervous energy, half-in half-out of her wedding dress (which has a decidedly punky flair). Maid follows dressed as before.

MAID: Let me finish combing your hair out here. Ay, stop moving!

BRIDE TO BE: It’s so hot! I’m melting.

MAID: In Sinaloa, you don’t even get a break from the heat before dawn.

Bride looks at herself in one of the Mexican mirrors, as the Maid finally is able to comb her hair.

BRIDE TO BE: My mother came from a place with many trees. Lots of rain.

MAID: (Meaning the opposite) Probably why she was so happy here.

BRIDE TO BE: She suffocated in this house. Burned to ashes. We’ll all be burned to ashes. The walls are on fire.

MAID: Sounds like you’re having a hot flash. I know about those.

BRIDE TO BE: OUCH! Don’t comb so hard.

MAID: Doing hair is like training a dog: you have to make it sit, then you have to make it stay. It has to fall over your forehead.

BRIDE TO BE: You mean my five-head? I’m so ugly.

MAID: You’re beautiful.

She kisses Bride on the mouth.

BRIDE TO BE: Comb.

MAID: It’s the heat. You are so blessed. You’re about to hold a real man in your arms, to kiss his lips and feel his weight on top of you when he–

BRIDE TO BE: When he what? Shush.

MAID: And then when you wake up in the night and feel him beside you and his breath caresses your, you know what, and then you caress his!

BRIDE TO BE: (Fiercely) Be quiet!

MAID: Pero, niña! What else is a wedding for? It’s the marriage bed, sparkling with the sweat of a man and a woman nocturnando!

BRIDE TO BE: Don’t talk about it!

MAID: What? You two cogiendo como locos? But it’s so much fun!

BRIDE TO BE: Or so much bitterness.

MAID: We should put flowers in your hair. Orange blossoms. Your fiancé brought them for your garland. And one between your breasts. (Models it) Aquí(Her crotch) Or here.

BRIDE TO BE: Give them over.

Holding the flower, she looks at herself in the mirror.

MAID: What is it?

BRIDE TO BE: Just leave me.

MAID: Now’s not the time for cold feet. Come on. Give me the flower.

The Bride throws it to the floor.

MAID (CONT’D): Niña(Genuflects) Is it that you don’t want to get married? Or is it that you don’t want to get married to him? Dígame.

BRIDE TO BE: Dark clouds. Everybody gets them.

Maid puts the flower in her hair.

MAID: It’s a good union between two families. There’s been enough violence over the years. This solves any problems your father might have down the road. Plus your fiancé’s really cute. (Getting emotional) I know you don’t want to hear this, but when this thing started between your father and me –

A loud KNOCKING.

BRIDE TO BE: I told you! The first guests must be here. Open the door for them!

Bride runs inside. Maid opens the front gate.

MAID: ? Really?

LEONARDO: Good morning to you too.

MAID: Hardly. You’re the first guest here. (Checks watch) By a lot!

LEONARDO: (Shows his invitation) They invited me.

MAID: For some reason.

LEONARDO: So I’m here.

MAID: They invited your wife too.

LEONARDO: She took the bus with the others.

MAID: And you went off-road. Of course. (Looks out) You’ll destroy that car.

LEONARDO: When it dies, then it’s dead.

MAID: Everyone is still asleep.

LEONARDO: And the Bride?

MAID: I’m supposed to be dressing her right now.

LEONARDO: (Bitter) Ah the Bride on her wedding day. Glowing with happiness. Like a Virgin.

MAID: How’s the child?

LEONARDO: What child?

MAID: Your child.

LEONARDO: Oh.

MAID: Is he coming too?

LEONARDO: No. Did the Bridegroom bring lemon blossoms to wear on her breast?

The Bride enters, with the flower at her breast.

BRIDE TO BE: Orange.

MAID: Don’t come out here like that!

BRIDE TO BE: Who cares? What bad can happen? (To LEONARDO) What do you care about flowers? Do you have something to give me?

LEONARDO: (Gets close to her) You know me. You know what I can give. So tell me. What did I ever mean to you? Think back. I’m not rich like your new boyfriend. My poppies didn’t produce. That’s the prick that really wounds my heart.

BRIDE TO BE: Then why come?

LEONARDO: To witness the marriage bond.

BRIDE TO BE: Just as I witnessed yours.

LEONARDO: And now you marry him? They can kill me, but damned if anyone will spit on me. All his gleaming poppy fields, he should have placed a poppy between your tits.

BRIDE TO BE: Cúal es tu pinche pedo?

LEONARDO: I don’t want to speak on this anymore, because once I get started, the mountains themselves would hear my llanto.

BRIDE TO BE: Mine would be louder.

MAID: (Uneasily) Guys! Stop bringing up the past.

BRIDE TO BE: Why am I even speaking to you at all? Get out. You can wait for your wife outside the gate.

LEONARDO: I thought night and day about whose fault it was – yours or mine? And every time I had it figured out, a new fault would come to mind to gobble up everything else that came before. In the end? There’s more than enough blame for both of us.

BRIDE TO BE: A man with a cowboy hat and a fast car can do a lot of damage to a lonely girl in a desert like this. But I have my pride. That’s why I’m getting married. I will shut myself up with my husband behind heavy doors and walls and I will find a way to love him above all things.

LEONARDO: (Comes closer) Your pride won’t work on me.

BRIDE TO BE: Don’t get close!

LEONARDO: What good did my pride do me, keeping myself from you and leaving you awake night after night? It only made the fire burn more. You think that time cures all and that walls can shut out the fire. It’s not true. There’s nowhere to hide. It’s in you.

BRIDE TO BE: (Trembling) I feel like I drank a bottle of mescal by myself and fell asleep in a bed of poppies. I’m drowning in a thicket of flowers but I don’t save myself, I just keep sleeping.

MAID: You have to go right now!

LEONARDO: This is the last time I’ll ever speak to her. Don’t be afraid. (To BRIDE) I can have no peace unless I tell you what’s in my heart. My crops have failed. All my luck is gone. (No response) I had a wedding. Now it’s your turn. Let’s see how lucky you are.

MAID: Luckier than you!

MUSIC and VOICES from offstage.

VOICES

DESPIERTE LA NOVIA

LA MAÑANA DE LA BODA

BRIDE TO BE: It’s time to wake up!

Bride runs into the house.

MAID: The guests are arriving. Don’t try to get close to her.

LEONARDO: No worries. I’m done with her.

Leonardo exits.

The Bridegroom appears at the front gate with the Circus Players, who serenade her mariachi style at the Bridegroom’s bidding. WEDDING MUSIC plays as the COMPANY dances:

CIRCUS SINGER:

DESPIERTE LA NOVIA

LA MAÑANA DE LA BODA

RUEDE LA RONDA

Y EN CADA BALCÓN

UNA CORONA

CIRCUS VOICES

DESPIERTE LA NOVIA

MAID: (Covering for her) Wake up, Bride to Be!

ELDERLY CLOWN:

QUE DESPIERTE

CON EL RAMO VERDE

DEL AMOR FLORIDO

QUE DESPIERTE

POR EL TROCO Y LA RAMA

DE LOS LAURELES

CIRCUS SINGER:

QUE DESPIERTE

CON EL LARGO PELO

CAMISA DE NIEVE

BOTAS DE CHAROL Y PLATA

Y JAZMINES EN LA FRENTE

BRIDEGROOM: Wake up, my Bride! The Sun is rising!

ELDERLY CLOWN: Ay Galán! Take off your cowboy hat and stay awhile!

CIRCUS SINGER:

DESPIERTE LA NOVIA

QUE POR LOS CAMPOS VIENE

RONDANDO LA BODA

CON BANDEJAS DE DALIAS

Y PANES DE GLORIA

CIRCUS VOICES:

DESPIERTE LA NOVIA

Maid sees the flower garland on the floor, picks it up.

MAID: With all these orange blossoms the Bride can’t sleep a wink!

Bridegroom enters the patio with an armful of orange blossom.

BRIDEGROOML Beneath the orange blossom, the Bridegroom offers you his heart! (Mexican grito)

CIRCUS VOICES:

DESPIERTA, PALOMA!

EL ALBA DESPEJA

CAMPANAS DE SOMBRA

LA NOVIA

LA BLANCA NOVIA

HOY DONCELLA

MAÑANA SENORA

ELDERLY CLOWN: Come out, Morenita, in your Victoria’s Secret made of silk!

BRIDEGROOM: Wake up, my Bride, and let the morning dew bless you.

MAID:

UN ÁRBOL QUIERO BORDARLE

LLENO DE CINTAS GRANATES

Y EN CADA CINTA UN AMOR

CON VIVAS ALREDEDOR

CIRCUS VOICES:

DESPIERTE LA NOVIA

ELDERLY CLOWN:

LA MAÑANA DE LA BODA

Mother appears at the gate.

CIRCUS SINGER:

LA MAÑANA DE LA BODA

QUE GALANA VAS A ESTAR

PARECES FLOR DE LOS MONTES

LA MUJER DE UN CAPITAN

Father appears from inside the house.

FATHER:

LA MUJER DE UN CAPITAN

SE LLEVA EL NOVIO

YA VIENE CON SUS BUEYES

POR EL TESORO!

MAID: (Excited) She’s coming! She’s coming!

ELDERLY CLOWN: The wedding rises like a bull!

The Bride appears. She wears a Madonna-like style made famous in Mexico by Gloria Trevi in the 1990s. MUSIC ends, The Guests and Circus Performers cheer her. The Bridegroom gives her flowers.

BRIDE TO BE: Why did you wear those boots?

BRIDEGROOM: They’re Yves Saint Laurent! I splurged.

BRIDE TO BE: Mariachis?

BRIDEGROOM: Circus mariachis. Next time they’ll play Gloria Trevi style.

BRIDE TO BE: (Smiling) Next time? You’re crazy.

Bridegroom steals a kiss.

The WIFE appears with Leonardo. Kisses her cousin.

WIFE: Salud! Amor! Pesetas!

LEONARDO: Y tiempo para gastarlos.

Leonardo kisses her as a cousin. Shakes Bridegroom’s hand.

BRIDEGROOM: Glad you both came.

WIFE: (To BRIDE) Very Gloria Trevi!

BRIDE TO BE: Pelo Suelto!

For a moment they both sing like pre-teen Trevi fans:

WIFE:

A MI ME GUSTA

ANDAR DE PELO SUELTO

ME GUSTA TODO

LO QUE SEA MISTERIO

BRIDE TO BE:

ME GUSTA IR

SIEMPRE EN CONTRA DE VIENTO

SI DICEN BLANCO

Y LES DIGO NEGRO

As the cousins laugh, Mother eyes Leonardo.

MOTHER: (To FATHER) Why the hell are they here?

FATHER: They are family. Today we forgive.

MOTHER: I can forget, but never forgive.

Leonardo and Bride make eye contact.

BRIDEGROOM: (To BRIDE) I’m happy that you’re wearing your flowers. You’re the single best decision I’ve made in my life.

BRIDE TO BE: Let’s go get married, this instant.

BRIDEGROOM: You’re in a hurry!

BRIDE TO BE: Yes, I can’t wait to be your woman and get away from everyone but you.

BRIDEGROOM: That’s what I want too.

BRIDE TO BE: No one else’s eyes but yours, if you hold me tight enough.

He embraces her. Lifts her in the air.

BRIDEGROOM: I have strong arms. Count on this embrace for the next forty years… at least!

BRIDE TO BE: Forever!

Cheers and gritos from the Guests.

FATHER: Time to go! Got to get to church on time! Everybody find their cars. The sun’s already ahead of us!

MOTHER: Everyone be careful! The last thing we need is any bad luck!

The Guests exit. Bridegroom pays the Elderly Clown cash.

BRIDEGROOM: Gracias por todo.

ELDERLY CLOWN: Por nada, Patrón.

CIRCUS VOICES: Que vivan los novios!

Maid weeps as she kisses Bride.

MAID: Our little girl, you leave this house our star!

Father kisses Bride, then hugs the Maid.

FATHER: My little girl leaving this house to go get married!

CIRCUS SINGER:

YA SALES DE TU CASA

PARA LA IGLESIA!

The Circus Performers exit making music and singing.

BRIDEGROOM: She’s pure as flowers tossed upon the sand.

He takes her hand and leads her off. Father and Maid follow close behind. Mother lags, aware of Leonardo. Finally she exits too, leaving Leonardo and Wife alone in the patio.

WIFE: Come on, let’s go.

LEONARDO: Where?

WIFE: To church of course. I need to ride with you, the bus was full.

LEONARDO: I don’t want to go anymore.

WIFE: Well I’m not going to church alone. Que no puedo más! I can’t stand it anymore, Leo.

LEONARDO: Me neither.

WIFE: Why are you looking at me like that? With knives in your eyes!

LEONARDO: Don’t get excited. Let’s go.

WIFE: We’re finished. But I have a child. (Touches belly) And another on the way. The same thing happened to my mother when my father left us. But I’m not her. Don’t you remember our wedding day? I thought that I could fit the entire countryside inside me, my heart was so full!

LEONARDO: Let’s go.

WIFE: Together!

LEONARDO: Fine. Yes. Sure. (Hotly) Move!

They exit. The Elderly Clown appears, having seen it all. He kneels at the altar. He prays to Santa Muerte, and to JESUS MALVERDE, patron saint of the drug trade.

ELDERLY CLOWN:

AL SALIR DE TU CASA

PARA LA IGLESIA

ACUÉRDATE QUE SALES

COMO UNA ESTRELLA

(His song turns to the Santa Muerte prayer)

Muerte querida: yo te pido con todas las fuerzas de mi corazón, que así como dios te formo inmortal, y poderosa dueña y reina de las tinieblas del mas alla, que con ese gran poder que tienes sobre todos los mortales, Bring a peaceful end to this day.

MUSIC, traditional ranchera style, muted.

The Bride and Bridegroom are joined in matrimony. Flowers everywhere – wreaths, bouquets – and lit votive candles. As part of the wedding ritual, the Bridegroom gives the Bride trece monedas de oro (13 gold coins) blessed by THE PRIEST. These symbolize his wealth and trust in her. After the vows, The Priest puts El Lazo, a white-ribboned lasso in the shape of a Figure Eight, around each of their necks – the symbol of the unbreakable bond of marriage. Bride is stoic throughout, while the Bridegroom turns smiles and cries.

SCENE 2

The patio of the Bride’s home. An intonation of grey whites and cold blues, with plated large prickly pears and mangos. The Maid arranges glasses and trays for the wedding party.

MAID: (Shouts) Spread the tablecloths! (Sings to herself the Gloria Trevi song)

A MI ME GUSTA

ANDAR DE PELO SUELTO

AUNQUE ME VEAN

SIEMPRE CON ENREDOS

ME GUSTA TODO

LO QUE SEA SINCERO

YO SOY REAL

Y NO TENGO REVERSO

(Shouts) Bring the tequila(Dances as she sings) Y VOY Y VOY Y VOY Y VOY

Father enters with Mother.

MOTHER: Por fin! You drive too fast. I’m carsick.

FATHER: (Sweetly ignoring her) We’re the first ones back?

MAID: Nope. Leonardo and his wife got here a while back, he must have gone off-road like a puma. The wife looked half dead from fear.

FATHER: That young man looks for misfortune. He has bad blood.

MOTHER: What other blood can he have? It began with his great-grandfather, who started the killings with his bad blood and passed it on to his gang of sons for generations. Men with smiling faces and knives.

FATHER: Let’s not talk about it!

MAID: How can she not?

MOTHER: It hurts me like a clot in my veins. I look at Leonardo’s face and all I see is that hand that murdered what was mine.

FATHER: Today is not the day for those kinds of memories.

MOTHER: Today even more so. Because today I am left alone in my own house.

FATHER: But not for long! (Touches MAID’s belly) A baby can’t be far.

MOTHER: That’s my wish: grandchildren.

Father pours them all tequila.

FATHER: In this hard land you need more than hired hands, you need los tuyos, your own sons. You always have to battle with the land against the blight, the weeds, the rocks that seem to grow from God knows where. Only your own kind can conquer the land and seed the fields. It takes a lot of sons.

MOTHER: And at least one daughter!

FATHER: (Cheerfully) Boys and girls.

MOTHER: My son will get her pregnant in no time. We have good seed. His father and I would have had many sons.

FATHER: I wish it could all happen in one day. Abracadabra! Then right away they’d have two or three grown men. Oh I’d put them to work right away!

MOTHER: It takes so long. When I saw my eldest son dying, I bathed my hands in his blood, I dipped my tongue in the gore. Because it was my blood. You don’t know what that’s like.

FATHER: (Tenderly) Sometimes you have to learn to look the other way.

MOTHER: I should have taken the bloody dirt from the street and placed it in a vessel as a sacred relic. (Pours tequila out) “For the homies who couldn’t be here” – that’s what he would have said. Ay que chingón era!

FATHER: No worries. My daughter is broad and your son is fuerte, como esto!

He holds up his arm like an erection. Maid laughs.

MOTHER: I’ll drink to that.

FATHER: (To the HELP) Where are the carnitas?

MAID: Everything is prepared. (Touches his face) It will be a beautiful party.

FATHER: Have them bring some nopalitos and some tortillas de harina – burnt the way I like it.

Maid exits as Leonardo and Wife approach.

WIFE: Blessings upon them, and you!

MOTHER: (Cold) Gracias.

LEONARDO: Will there be a party?

FATHER: Just a little one. You young people don’t know how to amuse yourselves!

MOTHER: No one wants to stay too late and have to come home in the dark. Night is when the knives come out.

MAID: (Returning) Here they come!

Bridegroom and Bride enter embracing one another.

BRIDEGROOM: (Pointing out people) There are my cousins from Tamaulipas! I’d never met them before today.

MOTHER: All my people from Puebla came.

BRIDEGROOM: And there? Are they…?

The party comes to a halt as CARTEL 1 and 2 enter.

FATHER: Our friends from the cartel. Paying their respects. They don’t come to just anyone’s wedding, m’hijo!

BRIDEGROOM: Everyone is afraid of them.

FATHER: No reason for you to be. You are safe now. You’re one of us.

As Father and Bridegroom walk towards the CARTEL GROUP.

MOTHER: (To BRIDE) What’s wrong?

BRIDE: Nothing’s wrong.

MOTHER: Today’s blessings weigh heavy.

MUSIC. Guests begin to dance.

BRIDE: Like a stone.

MOTHER: It shouldn’t be like that. You should feel light as a bird.

BRIDE: Are you staying here tonight?

MOTHER: No. I’m going home, alone.

BRIDE: Stay with us!

FATHER: People are dancing! I brought out my old records from back when we were their age. We knew how to have fun! Come on, Vieja, let’s dance in the old style! (Dancing and singing)

PERO ME VAS A RECORDAR

A RECORDAR A RECORDAR

He tries to get Mother to dance. When she won’t, he dances with Maid until he pulls a back muscle.

FATHER (CONT’D): Oy yoy yoy!

She helps him off the dance floor.

MOTHER: Mexican men aren’t supposed to dance like that.

FATHER: I’ll just watch. (Kisses MAID) How wonderful to see the change in this house!

She helps him off.

MOTHER: I’m going.

She exits alone. Bridegroom gets Bride to dance with him.

BRIDEGROOM: Did you like the flowers?

BRIDE: Yes.

BRIDEGROOM: I’ve been thinking, mi amor. We’ll build our own house, just yours and mine. Out there where the fields meet the agave and the train tracks cut through the land like a scar. Just you and me, –

Leonardo stands and exits suddenly.

BRIDE: I’m going to change into something more comfortable.

Bride exits as Wife approaches Bridegroom.

WIFE: I wish you love with my cousin!

BRIDEGROOM: I already have it!

WIFE: I overheard. Just you two living way out here and raising a family, without having to go to town and all that locura. I wish my husband and I lived this far away!

BRIDEGROOM: Bueno! Come join us! The land is cheap out here, great for raising children. My father-in-law and I have plans, good ones…

WIFE: Our crops failed again and Leonardo already owes the cartel for last year. The way things are going…

BRIDEGROOM: Leonardo is a hard working man.

WIFE: He’s not like you.

Maid appears with food.

MAID: I’m going to wrap up some sweet tamales for your mother, I know she likes them a lot.

BRIDEGROOM: Give her a dozen!

MAID: Half that. We girls have to watch our weight!

BRIDEGROOM: Today is a “cheat” day! No diets. (Looks around) Where is my mother?

WIFE: (Calling out) Leonardo? (To MAID) Have you seen him?

MAID: Wasn’t looking.

BRIDEGROOM: He probably went inside. There’s a fight on cable. A kid from Los Mochis fighting for the title against a Puerto Rican. Que viva Mexico! Que viva Sinaloa!

WIFE: I’ll go check.

MAID: (Tearing up) Everything’s so beautiful!

BRIDEGROOM: You’re not dancing?

MAID: No one asked me.

BRIDEGROOM: What about my father-in-law?

MAID: He doesn’t count.

BRIDEGROOM: These young bucks don’t know any better. You cougars move better than the young ones!

MAID: How would you know, Young Man?

Maid dances a bit.

BRIDEGROOM: I know what I see!

MAID: Estoy en buena forma, pero la forma es redonda!

BRIDEGROOM: In all the right places.

MAID: Keep flirting, I like it. My mother attended the wedding of your parents. What a man, your papa! She said it seemed like your mama was marrying a mountain.

BRIDEGROOM: I’m not that tall.

MAID: But you have the same sparkle in the eyes.

BRIDEGROOM: Only when I’m looking at my bride.

MAID: Where is our little estrella?

BRIDEGROOM: Changing clothes I think.

MAID: Ah! Listen up, Young Buck. After midnight, since you two will be awake, I left out some carnitas and a bottle of good Napa champagne to wash it down. I hid it in the back of the refrigerator. Just in case you get hungry, after.

BRIDEGROOM: (Pats his belly) I try not to eat late at night.

MAID: Maybe she’ll be hungry.

Maid winks as she exits.

The CARTEL GUYS approach. They are a little drunk, but essentially friendly. Cartel #1 is Latino. Cartel #2 is African American and clearly from the North.

CARTEL #1: Cuate! Felicitaciones! No hay bronca!

BRIDEGROOM: Thank you for coming. You honor me.

CARTEL #2: This is only the beginning Bruh. The cartel is very happy with your harvest.

CARTEL #1: Brother, you sure did marry a pretty one. I gotta get me one of those. Come have a drink with us.

BRIDEGROOM: (Hesitates) I’m waiting for the bride.

CARTEL #2: You can have her all night.

CARTEL #1: Morning too. That’s my favorite.

CARTEL #2: Your new father opened up the good brandy.

BRIDEGROOM: Is the fight still on?

CARTEL #1: That Boriqua knocked him in the first round! Que buey!

CARTEL #2: Messican got bum rushed!

CARTEL #1: Your father took it hard. (Mimes drinking) If you know what I mean.

CARTEL #2: Let’s have that drink, Compadre. See if we can catch up with him! And we can talk about next year’s harvest and other investments.

BRIDEGROOM: Pos andale, mis Compadres!

The three enter the house together, laughing.

In the BRIDE’s BEDROOM, the Young Salesgirl enters with the Bride, now in a change of clothes, but still in a dark mood.

SALES GIRL: I can’t believe you’re giving me your Gloria Trevi CDs!

BRIDE: I can’t believe you want them.

SALES GIRL: I know all her songs. I heard you singing with your cousin.

BRIDE: (Gives GIRL a package) Here, take this too.

Sales Girl opens it, finds the Victoria’s Secret undies.

SALES GIRL: You can’t!

BRIDE: Why can’t I?

SALES GIRL: But it’s for tonight!

BRIDE: He won’t notice. Those things stay on for only a minute anyways.

Sales Girl gives it back.

SALES GIRL: I can’t.

BRIDE: Fine! I don’t give a damn.

SALES GIRL: Sorry.

BRIDE: No. Forgive me.

SALES GIRL: De qué? I’m just so glad that you are spending time with me on such an important night in your life. I stand at the counter at the Forever Pink in the Culiacan Galleria and I dream about the man I’ll marry. He’ll be handsome and successful and he’ll love me –

BRIDE: You really want to get married?

SALES GIRL: (Shyly) Yes.

BRIDE: Why?

SALES GIRL: (Blushing) Well,…

Bridegroom appears, a little tipsy, comes up and embraces Bride from behind. Bride is startled.

BRIDE: (Alarmed) Quita(Sees him) Oh, it’s just you. I didn’t know.

BRIDEGROOM: Who else could it be? Your father or me, and he’d embrace you in a different way. (Embraces her) This is how I do it.

BRIDE: Let go.

BRIDEGROOM: Why?

BRIDE: Because… people. They’ll talk.

BRIDEGROOM: Y qué? We tied the knot in front of them all. We’re supposed to embrace, and… all that stuff.

BRIDE: Later.

Wife enters.

WIFE: I’m sorry to interrupt, –

BRIDEGROOM: Tell me.

WIFE: Did my husband pass by here?

BRIDE: No.

WIFE: It’s just that I haven’t found him or the car anywhere.

BRIDEGROOM: Maybe he went for a drive.

Wife walks on, uneasy.

MAID: What is it, Estrella?

BRIDE: I feel like I got punched in the head.

MAID: You have to be strong to be a bride, especially here. (To BRIDEGROOM) Well, M’hijo, you’re the only one around that can cure her, since she is officially yours now.

A CRASH offstage, followed by laughter from the CARTEL GUYS.

MAID (CONT’D): God, what is your father up to now?

SALES GIRL: They broke the glass to get a look at the championship belt.

MAID: Animales con ropa!

Maid runs off in the direction of the crash. For the first time, Bride smiles. Bridegroom kisses Bride.

BRIDEGROOM: We have to dance the wedding dance.

BRIDE: No, let me lie down for a moment.

BRIDEGROOM: I’ll join you.

BRIDE: No! Not with all these people here.

BRIDEGROOM: Whatever you say. But no excuses later tonight!

BRIDE: I’ll be better by then.

BRIDEGROOM: Promise?

Mother enters as Bride exits.

MOTHER: M’hijo!

BRIDEGROOM: Where have you been?

MOTHER: Your father in law made me watch the fight with him. I hate the fights! (Beat) So. Are you happy?

BRIDEGROOM: I am.

MOTHER: Y tu mujer?

BRIDEGROOM: She’s gone to bed – just for a moment. Bad day for brides I guess.

MOTHER: Bad day? It’s the only good day. A wedding day is just like coming into an inheritance.

The Maid gives her a doggy bag of tamales. Exits into house.

MOTHER (CONT’D): When you get married you clear the land, you plant new trees. Hemp!

Mother takes the tamales and starts off.

BRIDEGROOM: You’re going home?

MOTHER: I have to.

BRIDEGROOM: All alone?

MOTHER: Not alone. My head is full of men and their struggles.

BRIDEGROOM: (Holds her hand) No more struggles anymore.

Maid reenters quickly. Exits again, now running.

MOTHER: Life is struggle.

BRIDEGROOM: Before you go… tell me what to do to be a good husband.

MOTHER: Be affectionate. But if she acts conceited or surly, don’t let it stand. Then kiss her softly. Let her know that you’re the man even if she’s the boss. (Blesses him) Dios te bendiga.

WEDDING DANCE MUSIC and dancing begin.

FATHER: My daughter?

BRIDEGROOM: Inside.

FATHER: She’s not here.

BRIDEGROOM: No?

FATHER: Maybe she went to the carpark.

BRIDEGROOM: She’s not there.

MOTHER: No?

FATHER: Where would a bride go on her wedding night?

Maid enters, running. Bridegroom continues searching.

MAID: Where’s our little girl?

MOTHER: Can’t find her.

FATHER: Maybe she’s dancing.

MAID: She’s not dancing.

FATHER: Go look!

MAID: I already have, Viejo!

WEDDING MUSIC and DANCING stop.

BRIDEGROOM: (Returns) Nothing. She’s not here.

MOTHER: (Accusingly) Qué es esto? Where did your daughter go?

Wife enters, bottle in hand.

WIFE: They ran off! Together. Your wife and my husband. In the Crown Vic. I saw them in each other’s arms. All the air left my body. I’m dry.

FATHER: My daughter wouldn’t do that. Not like her mother did to me. This can’t be true.

MOTHER: Of course it’s true. (To BRIDEGROOM) Antes que te cases, mira lo que haces(To FATHER) And you? This is your evil seed. A bad mother, a fool for a father with a maid for a mistress? No wonder. But it’s too late now. She’s become part of our family!

BRIDEGROOM: (To FATHER) You said I could come to you if I ever needed anything. Well I’m coming to you now. What shall I do? Señor, tell me. Papa! Please.

Father cannot speak from crying. Bridegroom gives up.

BRIDEGROOM (CONT’D): Where’s the keys? (To FATHER) The BMW keys, now!

MOTHER: Go after them!

He has to fish them out of Father’s pants pocket.

BRIDEGROOM: We’ll bring them back.

CARTEL #1: Cabrones won’t get far. I never trusted Leonardo. Se cree muy muy.

CARTEL #2: We will fuck her up.

BRIDEGROOM: Not the Bride. Leave her to me.

CARTEL #2: You’re the boss. (To UNSEEN VATOS) Pos orale, Vatos Locos!

CARTEL #1: A huevo! Sin piedad.

Bridegroom exits with them, picking up weapons along the way.

MOTHER: A sacred rite – and she defiled it. They spat on everything we hold dear! Sinverguenzas!

Mother gathers all remaining guests.

MOTHER (CONT’D): Everyone, spread out – go off-road if you have the nerve. We are going to help my son find his wife.

Two groups form.

MOTHER (CONT’D): Every road, every field, every cave. It’s come again – the hour of blood. You go with your people towards Los Mochis, and I’ll go with mine to the sea. Go. Go!

Father leads his group and she leads hers. Maid is left crying alone.

END ACT THREE

ACT THREE

In the semi-dark, The COMPANY bangs hands and feet to the rhythm of “Pelo Suelto.” But instead of the normal pop song, this version stays angry, elemental, and the SINGER seems to scream the song as if it were flamenco puro.

The actor playing MOON and the actress playing BEGGAR WOMAN remove any previous garments and get into their costumes in front of us. They also get into their make-up, masks, wigs, all in rhythm to the song.

Meanwhile, members of the company take turns mussing their hair in front of us, full of punk attitude and rage.

The MOON wears the mask of JESUS MALVERDE: white, impenetrable.

BEGGAR WOMAN is the Bride of a nightmare future: hair tangled, clothes torn, mind gone. Either lip-syncs or SINGS:

BEGGAR WOMAN:

VOY A TRAER

EL PELO SUELTO

VOY A SER

SIEMPRE COMO QUIERO

AUNQUE ME TACHEN

DE INDECENTE

AUNQUE HABLE MAL

DE MI LA GENTE

VOY A TRAER

EL PELO SUELTO

Then the HIGH BEAMS of the Crown Vic as it passes at high speed. A moment later, sound of it LABORING and SLOWING.

SCENE 1

Deep in the Sinaloa countryside. Train tracks like a scar.

As the COMPANY witnesses, Bridegroom enters with a heavily armed but strangely reticent Cartel #1. Beggar Woman conceals herself beneath her ratty hair and shawl. Bridegroom looks for clues along the trail.

BRIDEGROOM: This way. Apúrate!

CARTEL #1: (Petulant) We’re never going to get them, Cuate. Me vale tres kilos de verga. They’re halfway to Culiacan by now.

BRIDEGROOM: No. I heard an engine overheating. Their car must have broken down.

CARTEL #1: Could be someone else’s car.

BRIDEGROOM: Puta madre! There is only one car in the whole world for me. I thought you cartel guys were supposed to be tough! Just follow me and don’t talk.

CARTEL #1: I’m wearing the wrong shoes –

BRIDEGROOM: Shut up about your shoes! I know we’re going to find them here.

Bridegroom raises his forearm like an erection.

BRIDEGROOM (CONT’D): Do you see? This is not my arm anymore. It belongs to my brother and my father and all my family dead before their time. This arm is stronger than Julio Cesar Chavez. It belongs to my people. Let’s do this quickly, because I’m starting to feel their teeth biting into me–

Beggar Woman moans as if in pain.

BEGGAR WOMAN: Ay yi.

They look around, not seeing her.

CARTEL #1: You hear that?

BRIDEGROOM: Go that way and then circle back.

CARTEL #1: What, you a hunter or something?

BRIDEGROOM: Or something. This is the greatest hunt that can ever be.

Cartel #1 exits. Bridegroom trips on Beggar Woman, revealed now as DEATH with the face of Santa Muerte. Still, Bridegroom sees something of the Bride in her.

BRIDEGROOM (CONT’D): Mi vida?

Beggar Woman speaks with the voice of a younger person, sexy.

BEGGAR WOMAN: Tu vida.

She tries to kiss him. He pushes her away.

BRIDEGROOM: What the hell? (Gets ahold of himself) I thought you were someone else.

BEGGAR WOMAN: Maybe I am. I’m lost without you.

BRIDEGROOM: Which way are you going?

BEGGAR WOMAN: Where the train takes me.

Bridegroom looks around, sees the train tracks.

BRIDEGROOM: Where are you coming from?

BEGGAR WOMAN: Where the train comes from.

BRIDEGROOM: You’re one of them.

BEGGAR WOMAN: One of whom?

BRIDEGROOM: Where is home, really? Guatemala?

BEGGAR WOMAN: (Touches his heart) Home is here.

BRIDEGROOM: (Moving away) Did you see a man and woman come here? They can’t have gotten far.

Bridegroom checks his watch. Beggar Woman perks up.

BEGGAR WOMAN: Beautiful watch for a beautiful man. Que chamaco más lindo.

She uncovers herself, revealing a youthful comely shape.

BRIDEGROOM: Look. I don’t have time.

BEGGAR WOMAN: What broad shoulders! (Caresses him) Lie down awhile with me and give your feet a rest. Que pollo eres!

BRIDEGROOM: Gallo, you mean! (Shakes her) Have they come by here, or not?

BEGGAR WOMAN: Don’t you hear them?

BRIDEGROOM: No.

BEGGAR WOMAN: Listen for their hearts beating out of their chests.

BRIDEGROOM: I only hear my own.

BEGGAR WOMAN: Then wait for the moon. It shows all.

Bridegroom exits rapidly. Beggar Woman returns to her crouch. From within her shawl she pulls the WATCH, having stolen it.

BEGGAR WOMAN (CONT’D): Just after two in the morning. (In an ancient voice) Death is all around us.

Beggar Woman once again hides, blending in, invisible.

The MOON with the mask of MALVERDE emerges between clouds.

MALVERDE: You may not escape. Who hides beneath the poppies of my valley? Let me in.

The COMPANY rises as moonlight shines down on them. Their faces glow as if they were poppies. They form a human altar in front of him.

COMPANY A: Flores para ti Malverde! A ti que te gustan las flores,

COMPANY B: Flowers for you, Malverde! We know how much you love them in your chapel, poppies of all colors, gifts from all the people you have helped and saved.

COMPANY A: Y que tú recibes con la humildad con que siempre tratastes a la gente y con la bondad que adornó tu corazón.

COMPANY B: Wrap me in the aroma of your flowers and overwhelm me in the colors of the poppies…

COMPANY A: Para que me confunda con el bosque y con el cerro, para que los que me persiguen no me atrapen.

COMPANY B: So that I can be camouflaged in tree and hillside, so that my pursuers cannot find me.

COMPANY: Amen!

MALVERDE: No one hides from me.

COMPANY A: ¡No podrán escaparse!

COMPANY B: Yo haré lucir al caballo una fiebre de diamante.

Malverde casts moonlight across the space.

MALVERDE: Shine bright with the fever of a diamond light.

Leonardo and Bride enter, hunted.

LEONARDO: Quiet!

The Moon puts up a hand and his light is obscured by clouds.

BRIDE: Let me go back alone. I can find my way from here. Leave while you can.

LEONARDO: Demonios! Quiet, jueputa!

BRIDE: With your teeth, your hands, any way you can, pull the lazo from my neck. Or else just cut me here. (Her neck) The way you’d kill a rattlesnake in the sand!

LEONARDO: If they find us, they’ll rape you and kill you. And they’ll break every bone in my body. I’ll die slowly. There’s no other way than forward. Together.

BRIDE: There is no forward. And there is no together.

LEONARDO: Who kissed whom? Who took my hand and led me out into the poppy fields? Who put her neck to my lips? Who’s been beckoning me all these months, waiting up for me all night, and whose hands –?

BRIDE: These hands! They’re yours. Now get out of here! Maybe I want you to live. And maybe I want to die.

LEONARDO: You don’t get to choose. I got in the car and it drove itself to your door. I don’t feel guilty at all. Blame it on the earth and the smell of your breasts.

BRIDE: I follow you like a poppy flower to the knife. I’ll get what I deserve.

BIRD SOUNDS from the company.

LEONARDO: Do you hear? The morning birds are awakening from the trees. (Takes her hand) Let’s go to that dark place where other people don’t matter, where their poison no longer works on us. Embracing her, he takes her to a spot and lies with her. He has heroin. She watches him inject himself.

BRIDE: Where I can sleep at your feet and guard your dreams (They remove their clothes) Naked, watching over your fields as if I were your dog, and I am, and your beauty burns me.

He injects her.

LEONARDO: Fire breeds fire. Let it burn us both together. Come!

BRIDE: Where?

LEONARDO: Where no one can find us. Where I can look at you.

The Moon drops his hand and his light shines on them.

BRIDE: I’ll fly my dirty wedding sheets in the air like a flag. Como una puta.

LEONARDO: I have no shame. So come. The moon fastens me to your thighs.

They come together.

The Company bangs hands and feet to the rhythm of “Pelo Suelto.” No words, just the drum beat.

BRIDE: Do you hear?

LEONARDO: People are coming.

BRIDE: Run! This is where I should die. Let the poppies mourn the wasted bride.

LEONARDO: They’re already here.

BRIDE: Go!

LEONARDO: We go together. You hear me? Together.

Bride hesitates.

BRIDE: Como quieras!

LEONARDO: The only way they’ll tear us apart is if I’m dead.

BRIDE: (Holds him) They’ll have to kill me.

The Moon emerges fully from the poppies. Intense blue light. Bridegroom enters, knife in hand. Despite his promise, Leonardo lets go of Bride to face Bridegroom, knife in hand.

Company makes BIRD SOUNDS.

Beggar Woman opens her cloak like a great bird with outspread wings. The stolen watch glints in the moonlight. She holds Bride back. Without words, the men embrace, digging knives into each other. They hold each other like lovers, refusing to cry out.

Silence.

SCENE 2

A WHITE ROOM. Outside the Mother’s house. Not a single shadow anywhere. Wife and Mother in Law enter in anguish.

WIFE: I have to go out there.

MOTHER IN LAW: The door must remain closed. We’ll nail the windows shut. Cover your face. Your sons belong to you, nothing else matters. Put a cross of ash where Leonardo once laid his head on the bed.

Beggar Woman appears, humming “Pelo Suelto.” Mother in Law goes inside, but Wife lingers.

BEGGAR WOMAN: (Puts out her hand) Un pedazo de pan? A little love?

Wife gives her money.

WIFE: Did you see what happened?

BEGGAR WOMAN: They’ll be here soon. (Tasting it) Dead. Torn flowers for eyes, teeth fistfuls of frozen snow. They fell dead on top of each other, with the Bride wearing their blood on her dress and in her hair, the puta(Checks the watch) Time of Death: between two and three, before dawn.

Bereft, Wife turns to leave. Beggar Woman sings as she goes.

BEGGAR WOMAN (CONT’D):

VOY A TRAER

EL PELO SUELTO

VOY A VER SIEMPRE

COMO SOY

Sound of BABY’s CRIES from within. Mother enters.

MOTHER: Quiet!

WIFE: I can’t.

MOTHER: I said quiet. My son should have answered me. But my son is just an armful of dead flowers. Just the sound of birds behind the mountains… (Furious) I will not have weeping in this house. Your tears come only from your eyes. But mine will come from the soles of my feet, from the roots of my people. And they will be fiercer than any blood.

WIFE: Don’t stay here.

MOTHER: I live here. It’s peaceful here. Everyone is dead. At midnight I will sleep without fears of knives. (Fiercely) Take your hands from your face. The terrible days are still to come.

WIFE: Have pity on yourself. I beg you.

The Bride enters, her gown torn and stained.

WIFE (CONT’D): DIABLA!!! Where are you going?

BRIDE: Here.

MOTHER: (To WIFE) Who is it?

WIFE: Don’t you recognize her?

MOTHER: I can’t recognize her or I’ll sink my teeth into her neck! (To BRIDE) Concha tu madre!

She rises as if to strike the Bride but stops.

MOTHER (CONT’D): (To WIFE) You see her? There she is crying and standing in front of me and I – I’m calm, not even clawing out her eyes. I don’t even know myself. Can it be that I never loved my son?

She strikes Bride, who falls. Wife tries to separate them.

WIFE: Por Dios!

BRIDE: Let her! (To MOTHER) Don’t waste time with your hands, do it with sharp things, a sickle, shovels, knives, until you break my bones. Do it! But you have to know that I am clean, I am unstained. First quiet, then laughter. From Wife and Mother. Wife pulls the shawl from Bride, revealing a bloodstain at her crotch.

WIFE: You crazy bitch.

BRIDE: I may be crazy, but I can be buried with the knowledge that no man has seen the whiteness of my breasts!

MOTHER: We don’t care.

WIFE: What does it matter anymore?

BRIDE: Because I have nothing!

MOTHER: Not even honor. (Spits)

Bride assumes the position of someone about to be executed.

BRIDE: Have your revenge! But don’t dishonor me!

They laugh mirthlessly at her.

BRIDE (CONT’D): I do have honor!

WIFE: Live alone with your honor then.

Mother rises to go. Wife rises to follow.

BRIDE: At least let me weep with you.

MOTHER: Weep all you want – alone.

Mother does not exit. Wife falters.

WIFE:

Y AUNQUE TUVIERA DOS

YO SÓLO QUIERO AQUEL

CUALQUIER INFORMACIÓN LA PAGARÉ

MI UNICORNIO AZUL –

CIRCUS SINGER: They’re bringing them now.

The Company carries on the body of Bridegroom, with POPPIES placed at his chest. Behind him they drag Leonardo’s broken body. Mother sits with the body of Bridegroom.

MOTHER: With a knife, just a little knife on a fated day between two and three en la madrugada, two men killed each other over love.

Bride sits with Leonardo’s body, which has been defiled.

Wife displaces Bride, sits beside her dead husband.

WIFE: It enters so fria bien fria through astonished flesh, and stops here – (Her heart)

BRIDE: Aquí – (Her crotch)

BABY SCREAMS stop.

WIFE: SE FUE

MOTHER: Where we tremble como locos tangled in the dark root of a scream.

BRIDE: (SCREAMS)

END OF PLAY.

[1] Oliver Mayer, interview by author, 30 July 2015.

One thought on “Blood Match

  1. Pingback: Editor’s Note 5.4 | The Mercurian

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