1) Cart
Devious, single-minded, and nonchalant. Everyone knows what it is up to. Speeds along at a breakneck clip and then acts surprised when ensnarled in collisions.

2) Mass
Used and abused. Stoically and permanently the martyr. Likes it that way. Very quiet most of the time.

3) Block
Adored by Jane, who is always pushing, pulling, and dragging it around. Others manipulate it too. It is spoiled, and has a swollen head from all the attention.

4) Jane
Evil, and inappropriately devoted to Block. Temperamental. Unappreciative. Easily angered.

5) Susie
Cute. Quiet. Annoying. Has an odd, perhaps under-the-table relationship with John. Stays inside much of the time, tugging at, assembling, and otherwise manipulating Pulley contraptions, alongside John.

6) John
Also enjoys the Pulley contraptions. Also enjoys Susie. Helps others, but only because he’s known for that—not because he actually cares what happens to Jane or her stupid Block.

7) Truck
Driven by a never-seen but obviously suicidal driver. Enjoys running into things at high speeds.

8) Icy Path
Innocent, but causes much sliding, spinning, and colliding.

9) Car, travelling at constant velocity
Mostly just continues travelling. Envied by Cart and Block. Coveted by Jane.

10) Massless, frictionless Rope
Pops up in almost every situation. Has very little to say about any of it.

11) Pulleys
Also have little to say, but sometimes become overexcited for no apparent reason.

- - -


Mass and Cart collide. Jane sniggers from the sidewalk, but continues pulling Block along behind her, little-red-wagon style. She slips on Icy Path, and falls loudly, with a sickening crack and a little yelp. When John leaves the Pulley contraption he had been working so intently on, to go help her up, she cusses him out. After sliding almost 20 feet more, she gets up, gives Block a few melancholy pats, and continues walking. Cart and Mass have disentangled themselves but have begun zipping erratically around again. They travel nonchalantly along, humming quietly, but it’s clear what they are up to. They hum along in circles and suddenly, Whoom!, Cart acts unsuspecting when it is sent careening right down Icy Path. Everyone knows what it is up to. It runs into Jane. Jane is sent careening, as is her cherished Block, attached to silent Rope, attached to evil Jane. The three go skidding, turning, sliding along Icy Path. Jane gets a furious maniacal gleam in her eye, but she just smiles, quiet and furious, all the while stroking Block, as it flies along beside her.

- - -


Icy Path has no friction, and so John runs outside, and brings Block, Jane, Rope to a stop. Once Jane has come to a stop and cussed John out once again, he walks back inside with a smile, hands in pockets. John and Susie have been inside all day, fiddling with Pulley, Rope, Mass. As soon as they finish setting up a contraption (involving multiple steps, multiple causes, multiple effects) they grin at each other and shake hands. Then they stand back to decide what to build next; hands on hips, right feet tapping. Masses, Blocks, Ropes, Pulleys are put into action, and skid—one, two, three—along. John and Susie are self-satisfied, self-absorbed, and they watch Mass, Pulley, Rope move—one, two, three—with vacant grins (like the smiles exhibited when the person taking the picture has taken too long to figure out the flash). Mass falls to the floor Bam!, and John picks it up and he and Susie figure yet another contraption— one, two, three; one, two, three. They grin all the while.

- - -


John and Susie have rigged up a contraption of sixty-three Pulleys, ninety-four massless, frictionless Ropes, and various Masses and Blocks. The contraption works without impediment and John and Susie watch. Ropes skid and slide over the Pulleys, the Masses drop, waver, drop, are set up again. This is one of the best contraptions yet. It’s so deliciously complex. Downstairs, Truck begins accelerating at a little distance from their little building, and runs into it with a shrieking crash. There is a quiet pause while Truck shifts into reverse and backs up. Then the roar of the engine again, and the shrieking crash. John and Susie pretend not to notice, and when not grinning they watch each other over the busy Pulleys.

- - -


Jane is the driver of Truck! It is clear now, because when John goes downstairs to ask the suicidal truck driver ever so nicely to stop ramming the building, he is cussed out for the third time, by that shrill, familiar voice. John calls her bluff and she steps gingerly down from the gigantic vehicle, leaving it to idle loudly. She looks peeved. Susie lets out a victorious little giggle from the upstairs window. John goes upstairs, hands in pockets, grinning vacantly. Susie grins vacantly back. Jane is furious, and is stroking Block with a ferocious frequency. Jane slips on Icy Path again, and is sent sliding, but she continues stroking Block. John is too wrapped up upstairs to notice, what with the Pulleys sliding so well: one, two, three; one, two, three.

The building is rammed again by Truck, whom everyone had forgotten, now that Jane is sliding on Icy Path. Then the pause, the reverse, and the crash-clatter once again.