Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth.
(A bedroom in the home of Juan Ponce de Leon, San Juan, Puerto Rico. LEON’s manservant, a Carib slave called RAUL, stands idly by.)
LEON (Looking in mirror, extracts a rotten looking molar): Damn, that’s the third one this month. Look at me, Raul. My teeth are falling out, my hair is thinning, my ass barely fits in my pantaloons. I’m falling apart here.
RAUL: Beg your pardon, my lord, but perhaps it’s time you visited the Fountain of Youth.
LEON (Turning): How’s that? You have a Fountain of Youth and I’m just now hearing about it?
RAUL: We don’t like to spread it around. It could bring in the wrong kind of crowd.
LEON: I order you to take me there immediately! That is an order!
RAUL: I cannot go, my lord. It is forbidden. But I can give some vague directions.
LEON: Deal. Let me grab a quill and some parchment. (Fumbling) Okay, shoot.
RAUL: First of all, it’s not really a fountain. It’s more of a stream, or a trickle. You know how these things are exaggerated.
LEON: Yes, yes. Go on.
RAUL: And as for its restorative powers, well, I recommend only drinking a drop or two. You don’t want to overdo it.
LEON: I see.
RAUL: Anyway, the Fountain is located on the legendary island paradise of Bimini, just north of Cuba. You can’t miss it.
LEON: Bimini. North of Cuba. Got it. We sail tonight! (Pause) Well, maybe not tonight. Tomorrow will do. Okay, in two years after I get a commission from the king. And ships. And a crew. Then we sail.
(Eleven years later, on the beach near present-day Tampa Bay)
AIDE: We are doomed, my lord. The Calusa have us with our backs to the sea.
LEON: It’s got to be around here someplace. Damn those meddling Indians.
AIDE: We must retreat to the launch, my lord. What good’s a Fountain of Youth to a pincushion?
LEON: That’s why they’re putting up such a fight. We must be close. Very close.
AIDE: My lord, we have searched for this elusive fountain for nine years. Did you ever stop to think, maybe it was all a ruse? A wild goose chase?
LEON: A ruse, huh? (Waves the thought away) Fie! It must exist. What about all the crazy stories, the silly songs, the absurd legends? No, it is my destiny to be the Fountain’s discoverer. Columbus may have found a shortcut to India, but Leon will be the one they remember! Bwahahahahaha! (LEON receives an arrow in the gut.) Oh shit!
AIDE: My lord. You have been shot!
LEON: Alas, I am slain. (Raving) And yet I am too young to die!
AIDE: My lord, you are sixty-one.
LEON: Your point?
AIDE: Well, I mean, the average life span is only like 32 or something.
LEON: (Shaking a fist heavenward) What cruel trick is this, O God? To be so close to restoring my precious youth only to be snuffed out by a barbarian’s dart. (Aside) Rats, I think I just crapped my pants. (To heaven) Another one of your tricks?
AIDE: My lord, we must hurry.
LEON: But the Fountain. La Fountaine! (LEON falls to his knees, weeps.)
AIDE (Lifting LEON onto his shoulders): Upsy Daisy. There we go, my lord.
LEON: Wait, where are you taking me?
AIDE: To Cuba, my lord. Where you’ll be looked after.
LEON: Yes. To Cuba then. (Exit)
(Enter two Indians)
FIRST INDIAN: Look at them run. They won’t be back any time soon.
SECOND INDIAN: Did you notice how I nailed that one old dude right in the guts? A direct hit. That was beautiful.
FIRST INDIAN: Yeah. Say, want to stop at The Fountain for a drink?
SECOND INDIAN: Can’t. Promised the squaw I’d come right home after the massacre.
FIRST INDIAN (Makes whipping sound): Whackshhhhhh!!!
SECOND INDIAN: Stop that.
FIRST INDIAN: Whackshhhhhh!!! (Exit)
Epilogue: Ponce de Leon died, many years before he could see a certain fellow Puerto Rican take the North American continent by storm. The Indians died, too, but later than de Leon. And it looks like the Yankees in four.
SUGGESTED READSThe Briefing
by Stuart Wade (11/17/1998)
The Love That Stopped Time: A Play, Consisting of Pure Conjecture, in One Act
by Tim Carvell (4/28/2000)
Fifteen-Second Theater Presents, Proudly, “Quiniela.”
by Paul Heltzel (6/1/2000)
RECENTLYWelcome to the Stay-at-Home Dads’ Grand Theft Auto Crew
by Ben Godar (3/11/2014)
Testomania: Are You Color Blind?
by Janet Manley (3/11/2014)
List: Captions for Models in Knitting Catalogs
by Olivia Ciacci (3/11/2014)
POPULAROpen Letters: An Open Letter to Men On the Subway, Specifically During Morning Rush Hour On the A Train Between Jay Street and Canal
by Jenna Clark Embrey (2/21/2014)
Kama Sutra for Couples Who Have Been Dating for Over Three Years
by Chelsea Davison (1/15/2014)
I Hope You Enjoy This Artisanal Knuckle Sandwich
by Keith Wisniewski (2/26/2014)