Dan of the Galapagos (Part 5 of 7)
BY Monica Walsh
NQonline.ca is pleased to share new work by St. John’s playwright, Monica Walsh. We’ll be publishing Dan of the Galapagos in its entirety over the course of the next several months. See the cast of characters and the first installment here.You can also read installment 2 ,3, and 4.
(Dan is suffering from loneliness and finds some solace in keeping busy)
Narrator: Ralph worries about Dan. Dan’s mood gets darker and Ralph gets more and more concerned. Ralph misunderstands Dan’s sadness and thinks it is due to a lack of a mate. Ralph misses the old days with Dan, even though they were only a few weeks ago. They seem so far away. Dan would often find it amusing when Ralph did a particular bird squawk, or tripped on a coconut. Ralph did these things, often, but now Dan seemed not to notice. Or, because he was Dan and was kind, he would half smile and pretend to be into it, but he wasn’t really. Therefore Ralph, being an animal, assumed Dan wished to mate. Does Ralph know what kind of woman Dan wants? Is that even what’s missing in Dan’s life? Perhaps Dan feels more disconnected from his surroundings. Ralph tries to entertain Dan. Ralph really is a nice flat-footed boobie. He has heard of humans before (sadly, everyone on the Galapagos has) but has never encountered one quite so pure of spirit. Ralph goes through Dan’s phone and attempts to make him feel better by showing him pictures of home. Ralph has often heard Dan mention Mrs Vanelli’s and so googles it, thinking it will cheer Dan up. A picture does come up, and Ralph shows it to Dan.
Dan: Oh yeah. Good, yeah.
Narrator: Ralph cannot understand it. Dan was always so happy. What is going on? Dan hasn’t really thought much on his cousin since coming here, but now (especially after seeing the pic of Mrs Vanelli’s, which was their favourite Avalon Mall eating spot) Dan thinks of Doug.
Dan: Maybe Doug is like those birds Ralph. He can’t help himself. He does what he does.
Narrator: Ralph perks up. At least Dan is talking.
Dan: I spose.
Narrator: Deep in his heart though, he knows that’s not true. He has urges. He has animalistic wants. But he controls them.
Dan: All these months, I felt bad cause I thought he was better than me, and smarter. Like he could scam me out of money, even though we are family, cause he is smarter. But maybe he’s just an arsehole.
Narrator: Ralph makes himself comfortable next to Dan.
Dan: I always thought I was dumb. Doug always picked the songs we did, he always picked the movies we saw – he even told me which girls to go out with. Even though the ones he picked for me never went out with me.
Narrator: Ralph is glad Dan is opening up. Ralph twitters for Dan to go on.
Dan: Sure Doug got fired from the job I had. He never showed up half the time. I was always there. I got injured, and I still went till I found out I didn’t have to.
Narrator: Ralph asks if Dan misses him job.
Dan: I spose. I miss the walking tour I did. Well, I miss the rocks. Doug thought that was stupid too. But he was my best friend. Sometimes he was really nice, like when he lent me his RUSH cd.
Narrator: Ralph doesn’t like the sound of Doug. Not one bit. There’s another flat-footed boobie on the Galapagos that’s a real prick, and what Doug did reminds Ralph of this other bird. He tells Dan this.
Dan” But he’s family. The thing is, I can’t go back and pretend like I love him the same way, right? I can’t pretend. Like now I KNOW he don’t really have my back. I can’t pretend. I haven’t even heard from him. He don’t miss me.
Narrator-After much twittering from Ralph, Dan has decided that a singles bar is just what the Galapagos needs. He had considered a Newfie (any way to avoid using this term?) bar, but with no Lambs available, really, what’s the point? So, in an attempt to meet someone and perhaps allow the locals to mingle, Dan opens Survival of the Fittest. Survival of the Fittest took Dan three weeks to build. He is good with his hands and has found that a few rocks and sticks and leaf overhangs really set the mood for meeting someone when your options are that limited. The bar has lemonade specials ($2 shots) and also serves local berries and some algae tea that Dan is working on.
Dan: My GOD what a pile of work. Sure this algae tea is REALLY bitter. But, I spose I got to have a BIT of variety on the menu, otherwise I’ll just be another Ches’s.
Narrator: Dan putters around the bar, which is just minutes from his cave. He has also made some drums from coconut shells and plays them at night, just to liven things up a little. And, of course, the bar has darts. Building the bar has certainly lifted Dan’s spirits. After all, being busy is Dan’s salvation.
Dan: RALPH b’y – put down that hammer! Sure you can’t lift that – you’re only a bird. Here, you take this lemon and cut it for the lemonade shots.
(Ralph cuts the lemon with his beak and claws.)
Dan: Ralph b’y! I can’t get no lemon juice out of it like that, cut em up in parts so I can get the juice out-
(Ralph ignores Dan and continues doing it his way. Ralph leaves the lemon rinds out in the sun, where they sit for hours, and become dry and dusty. He takes them inside and mashes them up as best he can. He gives them to Dan.)
Dan: Well thank you, Ralph! Now There’s not much lemon juice here, but I spose I can use this for like smelly salts or something.
(Ralph goes and gets sugar and water. He mixes the lemon dust with the sugar and water – he has essentially taught Dan how to make Tang here on the islands. Dan is touched.)
Dan. Ralph b’y, you’re gonna make me cry. I loves watchin that dust puff up in the air.
Narrator: Days pass. No one comes. One evening, a tortoise passes by and Dan excitedly waits for ten hours while the tortoise make its way towards him, but at the last minute the tortoise decides that the place seems a bit desperate and leaves. Its awkward for the five hours it takes for the tortoise to turn around and go on its way. There aren’t too many patrons. There was one regular, a marine Iguana-but he often drinks too much Lemonade and nose spits everywhere. Dan was forced to cut him off one night. He never came back. Never one to waste an opportunity, Dan decides to use the space for something different. He opens the Galapagos Island Community Recreation Centre in the same building. Dan has various recreation programs, including photography, a hobby of his. Dan gets word that Steve’s Twin Lounge in Ropewalk Lane has closed down and is seized by a fit of nostalgia. He fears that where he is living on the Galapagos has become like a version of St John’s. He knows everyone everywhere he goes. (He actually doesn’t, he gets the animals mixed up but Ralph doesn’t have the heart to tell him when he greets on tortoise by the name of another tortoise). Should Dan return home? What does home offer him? One day, out pattering around, Dan decides to go sit by the water.