Festiva!: A Play in Three Acts, Concerning Henry Ford’s First Encounter with Locking His Keys Inside His Car.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
A hushed velvet sunset illuminates a turn-of-the-century industrial facility in Highland Park, Michigan, just outside of Detroit. The steady whir of machinery is present, but one still hears the late-summer whippoorwills, who unknowingly nest in what will soon become the world’s largest automobile-manufacturing plant. The arc-sodium lights have already begun to glow, but the sunset’s magnificence overshadows their luminosity. A solitary figure, smartly clad in a Homburg hat and a lightweight trench coat, approaches a dark, rectangular object. Footsteps echo over the empty expanse of the lot outside the factory. The chirping noises of the birds lessen, as if Nature herself recognizes the presence of a worthy adversary, a giant of mankind whose ingenuity and drive could shake the foundations of the very planet. He approaches a rectangular object that is immediately familiar, yet obliquely distant. The man walks with a stride measured and exact toward the object, which is now almost recognizable—through the sinking sunlight of the golden orb almost at its day’s nadir that the artificial tint of heavy-grade electrified-gas filaments cannot nearly replace—as an automobile. He stops. The footfalls end, a heartbeat away from the cessation of his feet, and the birds grow ever more quiet. The man draws his coat to the side with a motion almost imperceptible, slides his right hand downward into his trouser pocket, and—as the hum of the factory and the whisper of the whippoorwills is drawn into silence like the blade into its sheath—exhales.
HENRY FORD: Shit.
The figure peers through the window of the car.
HENRY FORD: Goddammit.
The figure leans back, pushes the Homburg back on his head, and stretches stiffly.
HENRY FORD: Shhhhit.
Dusk has midwifed the ebony of a moonless night. Silence clangs heavily in the vacuum left by the cessation of the whippoorwills’ tumult. The lone figure is cut more distinctly, however, against the aurora of light cast off from the now-blazing lamps. Offstage, footsteps are heard again, almost inaudibly, as if made by an elderly, emaciated war veteran. Like a dying shadow speared upon the first thrusting ray of dawn, a form shuffles toward the starched silhouette standing next to the car. Not much is visible against the haze the new man seems to carry with him, but his clothes are obviously cheap and probably infested with vermin. There is the faintest impression that he is not long for this world. The man standing next to the auto turns to face the approaching man-wraith.
HENRY FORD: You there, go get me a coat hanger.
WORKER: Yes, sir. (He coughs, then slowly limps away, growing more faded as the radiating lights above shun him.)
HENRY FORD: Asshole.
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