A Play in One Act
Dirk Lover, both men in their 30s
Coffee shop. Dirk and Buck are sitting at a two-person table facing each other.
Dirk finishes fixing his coffee at the counter and joins Buck at the table.
BUCK Hey, Dirk you going to have some coffee with your sugar?
Dirk laughs looking rather pleased with himself.
DIRK That’s pretty funny Buck. Where did you get that joke? I never heard that one before. You’re a comical genius. You should be on Letterman.
BUCK Letterman isn’t on the air anymore. How old are you again?
DIRK I don’t know. I stopped counting years ago. I stopped watching TV too.
BUCK Why did you do that?
DIRK Because it’s all fake. Everything is fake, and so are you!
BUCK Easy, Dirk! Why all the hostility?
DIRK Don’t take it personally. It’s not just you. Everyone is fake.
BUCK What do you mean? I’m not pretending to be something I’m not. I know I’m not cool.
DIRK No. Not like that, man. I mean you’re not real. Nothing is. This shop. The coffee. The people. Everything. Nothing is real.
BUCK I don’t know, man. I feel pretty real.
DIRK Well, you’re not. I know you will never admit it, but you’re not.
BUCK If I weren’t real I think I would know it.
DIRK Like most people, you’re programmed to think you’re real, but you’re not.
Buck motions toward the waitress and Dirk follows.
BUCK Really? What about that hot waitress over there? Is she real?
DIRK No. She’s a hot waitress program.
BUCK How do you know?
DIRK I asked her out last month. She said no. Then I heard her giggling with her friends about it. She called me a pathetic loser.
BUCK That doesn’t mean anything. I was at the bar last week and bought a girl a drink. She walked clear across the bar poured it on my head and slapped me in the face. It really hurt. Everyone in the bar started laughing and pointing at me. I ran out of the bar crying.
DIRK First of all, don’t cry in public. You’re a 30-year-old man. Do it at home like a real man. Plus, you deserved it.
BUCK My mother didn’t think so. She says I’m a very handsome boy.
DIRK Exactly. Anyway, I haven’t had a date this entire year. It doesn’t make sense. I stay in shape. I got a good job. I’m smart and funny. But every time I meet someone they disappear.
BUCK Disappear? What do you mean?
DIRK I mean they disappear. Gone. Plus, it’s not just people.
BUCK What else?
DIRK Do you know how many times my cell phone has been lost in the last year?
BUCK How would I know that? I’m not a mind reader. How many?
DIRK 16 times.
BUCK 16 times! I haven’t had that many phones in my life. That’s at least one a month.
DIRK I know. I can’t afford any more cell phones! I’m going broke. I’m thinking about buying one of those old rotary phones.
BUCK Okay. What about the people? I’m little more worried about the people disappearing. Should I be concerned? Dirk? Are you a serial killer?
DIRK I wish it was that easy. Besides, I don’t have the stomach for it. No, it’s like this. I went on a date once and stopped at the gas station, and when I got back to the car, she was gone. Then I met this girl, right, and we have a great time. She said she was going to text me. She never did! I texted her, and she wouldn’t text me back. I never saw her again. Another time I meet this girl at the club, okay. Her sister said it was a sure thing and 5 minutes later she was making out with some dude in the corner. I meet them. They disappear. Gone. They just disappear, man.
BUCK Wow. How many times has this happened?
DIRK I stopped counting after fifty. Whoever is doing this to me doesn’t want me ever to get laid.
BUCK Wow. You must feel terrible. You probably want to kill yourself.
DIRK Sometimes. But I’ve come to accept it. Actually, it’s quite liberating.
BUCK How’s that? Seems to me you’re never going to have sex again.
DIRK I’ve stopped trying to impress people. There’s no point. I haven’t showered in three days. I’ve been wearing these same sweat paints all week! Oh yeah, and I’ve stopped wearing deodorant.
BUCK Oh, so that’s that smell.
DIRK Yeah, I don’t care anymore. I can just be myself. I’m free.
BUCK That’s good…I guess…but what are you going to do with your life? Do you have a plan?
DIRK I did. I know who or whatever is doing this to me is not ever going to let me have a girlfriend, even if she is fake, let alone have sex. So I decided to become a monk.
BUCK A monk?
DIRK Yeah. A monk. You know…monastic life. Live in a monastery. Chant. Pray. Lots of studying. Hard work.
BUCK Sounds pretty boring. Besides, you don’t come across as the “monk” type.
DIRK Actually, it’s not bad. It will really give me some time to figure out who I am. To live a simpler life. To get away from this sick society and focus on my relationship with God.
BUCK You said it’s a simulation, right? How does God fit into all this?
DIRK Well, I figure there still is a God somewhere. Probably in another dimension outside of space and time. I have to find God. It’s my only chance.
BUCK Okay. So, go to the monkery and find God. That sounds pretty meaningful and fulfilling.
DIRK Well, that’s the problem. I’m trying to. But apparently, I’m not monk material.
BUCK Why not?
(Gesturing the quotations here with his fingers)
Well they only want people that aren’t “mentally insane.” Can you believe that?
BUCK You’re mentally insane?
DIRK Only technically.
BUCK Well that’s probably what’s going on here, Dirk. It’s not a simulation. You’re just crazy.
DIRK I’m not crazy. Every time I tried calling someone the call got redirected to some guy yelling at me. Yesterday I got attacked by a vicious chihuahua on the street. Then later on that day some random guy punched me in the face and ran away.
BUCK That doesn’t prove anything. It’s Arizona, these things happen.
DIRK It’s more than that though. Nothing makes sense. It’s not bad luck. It’s impossible.
BUCK Okay, so you’re saying that this is all a simulation.
DIRK That’s what I’m saying. It’s like “The Sims.” Except I’m the Sim. You think Super Mario has feelings? Remember that next time you play Nintendo.
BUCK Okay, so it’s a simulation. We can do whatever we want because no one is real. No one will get hurt.
DIRK You can’t do anything. If you break the law you’re still going to jail. You can’t just rob a bank or go shooting people. It’s not “Vice City.”
BUCK That’s too bad. I wanted to-
DIRK Do you really want to kill people?
BUCK Not really. One time I killed a cockroach and it screamed. I cried for three days straight. I’ll never kill again.
DIRK Okay. Good.
BUCK Also, when I was seven, I pulled a leg off an ant and it bit me. I don’t know why I did it. You must think I’m a terrible person.
DIRK That’s not why I think you’re a terrible person.
BUCK You think I’m a terrible person?
DIRK Well, not so much the terrible part as much the person part. Besides, I know how you feel. I threw a rock at a beaver once and it cried. I still have nightmares.
BUCK So what if it is a simulation? If you can’t tell the difference what does it matter?
DIRK Well, it takes all the zest out of life. If that’s what you want to call it. I want to have real relationships with real people, not just avatars.
BUCK Okay. I understand that, but just try to make the best out of it.
DIRK I tried but not even the avatars will hang out with me. Actually, I’m surprised that you are hanging out with me. I guarantee you are going to disappear soon too and I’ll never see you again.
BUCK So who do you think is doing this to you? Who controls the avatars?
DIRK I don’t know. The Devil? Tom Cruise? Who knows? Lately, I’ve been calling him Viscendic.
BUCK What does he want from you?
DIRK I don’t know. Just to suffer, I guess? For a while, I wasn’t sure if I was aging, but I noticed a new wrinkle on my forehead. So I’m pretty sure I’m going to die someday. So that will be good.
BUCK That’s good?
DIRK Well, I figure wherever I go next has got to be better than this place.
BUCK That may be awhile. You’re still young. What are you going to do till then?
DIRK I’m going to go live in the wilderness.
BUCK What are you going to do in the wilderness?
DIRK I’m going to live as a savage. Get in touch with my Barbarian roots. I won’t have to worry about strangers throwing garbage at me from their cars, anymore. I’m going into the wild.
BUCK You were born and raised in the city. You’re not adapted to survive in the wild. You never hunted in your life. Remember, that one time we tried fishing, you cried because the fish had the hook stuck in its mouth. We had to cut it out.
DIRK That was really sad. We tricked that fish. He thought he was getting a juicy worm, but instead, he got a hook in the mouth. He was suffering. He almost died.
BUCK He was a fish!
DIRK That was different. This is survival, man. Man vs. wild! Me against the world!
BUCK You won’t last one night.
DIRK Yes, I will. There is nothing here for me anymore. I don’t belong anywhere. I don’t belong in society, and I don’t belong at the monastery. I’m going to tame a wolf, and we will become best friends. Then if I’m lucky I’ll fight a bear and the bear will eat me. It will be a good death.
BUCK I think you should rethink this. Come up with a better plan. You’re being dramatic.
DIRK Yeah. Maybe you’re right.
BUCK So what else do you got?
DIRK I don’t know? Maybe, I’ll be myself. Keep my nose clean, do the next right thing and maybe they will have mercy on me and my luck will change or they will let me out of here.
BUCK That sounds like a better plan.
DIRK It’s too bad that you’re not real and you’ll disappear soon. I kind of like you. You’re a good fake friend.
BUCK I’m going to disappear soon?
DIRK Yep. I’m sure of it. Every time I start to like something or someone it just disappears.
BUCK Where am I going to go?
DIRK I’m not sure, but you’ll be gone. Probably by the end of the day. Maybe into the fifth dimension, but most likely you will just cease to exist.
BUCK That doesn’t sound good. I kind of like existing.
DIRK Yep. You will be gone, and I will be by myself again.
BUCK I don’t know, Dirk. This sounds kind of crazy.
DIRK Try not to think about it. At least while you’re here. Besides, you don’t think anyway. You’re not real.
BUCK I don’t…
DIRK Buck! Trust me. You are not real!
BUCK Wow, and this whole time I was convinced that I was real.
DIRK Well, you’re not. Sorry. Actually, I’m not. You don’t have any feelings to hurt. This gets really confusing sometimes.
BUCK That’s not true. I stubbed my foot on the coffee table this morning, and it hurt really bad. I cried. Don’t tell anyone.
DIRK First of all, no you didn’t. You didn’t actually exist until I came to pick you up this morning and came into my viewing area. Second, I won’t tell anyone because they’re not real either. Nothing is real.
BUCK I didn’t? Then where was I?
DIRK You were just particles and waves. Potential energy, man.
BUCK I am real. I’m sure I am.
DIRK You sound like Pinocchio.
BUCK Maybe I’m real and you’re fake.
DIRK That’s not true. You’re fake because you are just like everyone else.
BUCK Well why get coffee with me?
DIRK What else am I going to do? I’m stuck in this place. I think I’m being punished for something I did in the real world and had my memory erased. So I have to do well in the simulator. Otherwise they will never let me out of here.
BUCK Man…this whole time I thought I was real. I should probably kill myself.
DIRK You can’t. You not programmed to do that. I can’t either. There are parameters in place that limit my behavior as well.
BUCK Maybe no one is real including yourself. Maybe we’re just entertainment for the person who runs this world?
DIRK Could be.
BUCK That’s depressing.
DIRK It’s okay, Buck. You’re not real.