Pills and Horses

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

In honor of Thanksgiving, some reflections on overland travel. This following is from The Pittsburgh Monologue Project, c. 2007. Photograph of rural Maryland, taken from an Amtrak dining car.

Pills and Horses (New York)


An older man is sitting in a Greyhound bus, holding a giant carpet bag.


Hey, hey, kid.

Where you headed?

All right, all right, good, good…

I’ m headed all the way up – Northeast Kingdom. Got a girl up there. Girl I met in high-school, we’re talkin’ thirty years ago. Ran into her in Union Square. Can you believe it? Hasn’t changed a bit. Has a horse farm. We’re gonna ride some fuckin’ horses. How about that? Can you beat that?

Yeah, didn’t think so.

Hey, hey – you wanna gimme some eye-contact, here? I’m gonna talk to you, I’m talking to your face, not your fuckin’ earlobe. Get it? A man who doesn’t show you his eyes, doesn’t show you respect, you got that?

Eyes, huh? (Beat). Good.

Greyhound. Can you believe this shit? These people – parolees, dealers, deadbeat dads, the works – fucking gypsy caravan is what it is. How you gonna deal?

I’ll tell you how you’re gonna deal. Gotta self-medicate. Right? Huh?

Whadda you got?

In your bag. You got pills or what? (Beat). Well how the hell you gonna survive this trip kid – ya don’t got pills? It’s like eight hours. See this? (Opens carpet bag). See this? Yeah – I’‘m carrying a fucking pharmacy. Xanax, Paxel, tranqs, beta-blockers, this speedy diet pill shit – arthritis stuff, run-of-the-mill Tylenol (mimes jerking off), and, ya know, that male enhancement stuff – ‘cause if I’m going all the way to podunk Vermont, and I’m gonna ride some goddamn horses with this girl, I’m gonna be getting some ya-know-ya-know. Right? I didn’t wait thirty years to show some limp-ass cartilage – I’m bonin’ up, you know?

Eyes! (Raises fingers to eyes).

Don’t be such a Puritan, kid. It’s natural as birds, bees, and corn-dogs at a Yankees game.

And you know why I can do this? Take three weeks off to ride a fuckin’ Morgan horse in Vermont in beautiful autumn? Rent control. That’s why. Rent control. (Beat). And I bought this shithole apartment building in Brooklyn in 1978, and now it’s worth three million dollars. I don’t mess around.

Hey, so you a rapper, or what?/

You like a rapper.

You got your hooded sweatshirt, and that ghetto fuckin’ hat. I just assumed.

No, it’s cool if you are. I dig it – homes. I’m down with the spirit of hip-hop, hip-hop. I’m down, dawg. (Laughs to himself).

Oh, you’re a writer.

Oh, like the Great American Novel? That’s sweet. That’s adorable. So, hey, write about me, huh? Mr. Steinbeck. You gonna write about your crazy Brooklyn Greyhound friend, crazy fucker in row six? You gonna write about the horses and the pills and all that? Tell ya what – I give this to you. Take my life. It’s yours. L’Chaim.

(Laughing cynically. Looks disconcerted). Hey, kid, I’m just jerking your chain. You seem like a good kid. Tell you what – you put up with me, I’ll give you a percoset. (Beat). Come on, split it with me. Makes the ride go by like (snaps).


All right, okay – suit yourself. You take care of yourself. I’m taking a little trip. (Opens pill bottle and shakes pill out).

Hey, eyes! (Smiles. He swallows pill morosely). That’s what I’m talking about.


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