S&L Postcard 4: Tales From the Shifting Dunes

Music Bed

Opening greeting:

   STEVE

  Hello, and welcome to the Steve and…

  [BEAT]

   LUCY

  You know?  I’m actually looking forward to doing this.  The Steve and Lucy Audio Postcard… brought to you live from Butchers Hill…

   STEVE

  [STAGE WHISPER; TRIES TO CUT HER OFF]

  What are you doing?

   LUCY

  I’m the Lucy of the two… and that was the Steve.

   STEVE

  Hi!

   LUCY

  We’ve recently returned from our anniversary trip to the Shifting Dunes, and I- feel- invigorated.  I am one hundred percent ready to share our experiences with, how do you put it?  Friends and Family?

   STEVE

  Oh…

   LUCY

  Steve– is it too soon to share your encounter with the cactus?  Or should we save that for later?

   STEVE

  Um… later?

   LUCY

  Alright!  So– as you know, we went out to the Shifting Dunes National Park!  For those of you unfamiliar with this region of the country, that’s in south-central Colorado, about two hours west of the Garden of the Gods.

   STEVE

  That’s… that right.  It’s a unique area, in that while the ground is a broad, fixed, rapidly occurring anomaly, all the disturbance is subterranean… that is, somehow, the sand is completely unaffected by the geomorphological shifting…

   LUCY

  And that dynamic, undulant chaos is magnificent.  It’s as if some great and terrible worm were roiling beneath the surface…

   STEVE

  Hmm…

  [BEAT]

   LUCY

  …or like a thousand giant maggots were wrestling beneath a miles-squared blanket.

   STEVE

  Eh!  I was more comfortable with the potential copyright infringement.

So– our ride out was nice, wasn’t it?  No traffic to speak of… we shared the driving… listened to some of our favorite programs… like Wait, Wait Don’t Taze Me; Radio Scab… um… that other one…

   LUCY

  [BEAT]

  Which one?

   STEVE

  You know… the good one, from the South West… about that place…

   LUCY

  Not ringing a bell.

   STEVE

  You know… the one about the place, and the cloud… the bloodstone [circle, the hooded figures]

   LUCY

  We also listened to several chapters of Game of Attrition.  I really enjoy that.  It’s nice not having to get invested in characters, knowing that all the ones you like are going to die.

   STEVE

  We got to Sykarra a little before sundown, and had a lovely dinner by the fire and night of camping.

   LUCY

  Because someone neglected to get accurate directions to the lodging.

   STEVE

  Ok… that was me.  But it all worked out in the end.  We did have a lovely evening, and everything sorted out in the morning.

   [BEAT]

   LUCY

  Dinner was nice.  And I did enjoy the cooing sounds the skeet made as they soared overhead.  And they keep the mosquitoes down.

   STEVE

  And the coyotes!

   LUCY

  Hm.  But it’s awful hearing them scream, the way they yip when they get carried off.

   [HALF- BEAT]

   STEVE

  Anyway, after breakfast the following day we found high ground, got a signal and a map, and made our way to the park.

   [DOUBLE BEAT]

And when we crested the rise…

and witnessed the grandeur beyond, we were stricken.

   [BEAT]

It was awesome.

   [DOUBLE BEAT

   LUCY

  Mm.  Someone actually used the word within its semantic purview.

   STEVE

  Yeah, I know.  We’re taking it back! So, yes… the splendor did knock our proverbial socks off…

It was like…

   [BEAT]

Do you remember the first time you went to the ocean?  All your life, you’ve seen this chaotic horizon, and it’s what your head is comfortable with?  And then you crest these dunes and you see this ineffable… flatness?  It looks like the literal end of the world?

   [HALF-BEAT]

   LUCY

  No.

   STEVE

  Well, this was the complete opposite.  We crested these dunes…

   [BEAT]

… you know, the stationary ones around the perimeter of the park–

and what we saw was… this… well, it was like… chaos squared.  It was this magnificent shifting of things that should not be ambulant; it was an elegant dance of [things that should not move…]

  [INTERUPTS]

   LUCY

  It was very pretty.  And then we parked.

   [TRIPLE BEAT]

STEVE

  You skipped a bit.

   [BEAT]

   LUCY

  Mm?

   STEVE

  The part where you beat up the park attendant?

   LUCY

   What are you talking about… I never got out of the car.

   [HALF-BEAT]

   STEVE

  So, the entrance attendant was helping the people in the car ahead of us… and Lucy got impatient.

   LUCY

  They were taking too much of my time.

   STEVE

  They were asking questions.

   LUCY

  They were keeping me off the dunes.

   STEVE

  And she starts this low chant that made the air in the car way too thick…

…a third eye opens on her forehead, and ‘it’ starts glaring at the park attendant.

   [BEAT]

And his nose starts to bleed.

   [BEAT]

A lot.

   [DOUBLE BEAT]

   LUCY

  We got in for free, didn’t we?

   STEVE

  Your yoga is scary.

   [DOUBLE BEAT]

Following that little display of passive aggression, we… that is, I went to the visitor’s center.  Lucy was straight off for the rental service.

And while she was shooting a curl, or what ever it’s called, I went on a nature hike.  It– was… beautiful.

   [HALF-BEAT]

   LUCY

  And…

   STEVE

  I had a wonderful time.

   LUCY

  And…

   STEVE

  And saw lots of the flora and fauna.

   LUCY

  Sat on it, more like.  Ladies and Family… Friends and gentlemen… that little excursion is where Steve perforated his posterior.

   STEVE

  [QUIET AND BEGRUDING]

  Nice alliteration.

   LUCY

  He fell.

   [HALF-BEAT]

On a cactus.

   STEVE

  I told you, I was pushed.

   [BEAT]

   LUCY

  Care to clarify?

   STEVE

  [SNITTY]

  Yes please.

   [BEAT]

I was walking along, staying completely on trail, observing the ‘leave no trace’ ethic…

   LUCY

  Well you certainly violated that.

   STEVE

  … and I leaned in to get a photo of one of the paddle cacti.  You know, the ones with that little fronded flower.

   LUCY

  Yes?

   STEVE

  Well..

   [BEAT]

 it… pushed me.

   [BEAT]

 Ont– onto another one.

   LUCY

  Pushed you.

   STEVE

  Yes.  And I could hear their chittering laughter as I hobbled away.

   LUCY

  Hm.  I don’t know how you could have heard anything through all the shrieking.  Your wails made it all the way out to the dune fields.  Everyone thought an air raid had occurred.

So how, exactly, did a plant push you?  You do have a couple pounds on them, you know… a stone, or so…

   STEVE

  I know, right?  That’s what you’d think… but in fact, the Opuntioideae Perfidious has a root structure similar to that of an iceberg!  So there’s a little mass behind that…

   [BEAT]

uh… push.  But I had no idea they were so mean spirited!

   LUCY

  Mm.  Completely unprovoked, then.

   STEVE

  Seriously!  I’m just lucky it wasn’t the Pterocactus… their root structure is vestigial at best, and they’re known to take aloft and harass a person.  It can take weeks to get one completely out of your hair!  Or the burrowing ferocactus!  [If they get a hold of you, they can…]

   LUCY

  [EXTRA DEADPAN]

  Alrighty then.

So… while Steve was communing with nature in his way, I was communing in mine.

   STEVE

  Courting madness, I’d say…

   LUCY

  That only happened to one person, and it was never proved conclusively that the anomalies were responsible.  It could’ve been the TBI.

   [BEAT]

Friends and family…

I– had an epic weekend of surfing!  It was transcendent!  There is, quite frankly, nothing like carving an edge on cascading cliffs of sand, and picking the line that keeps one going.  It is a visceral feel that, to my mind, can not be replicated.

   STEVE

  Sure.  There’s nothing quite as dangerous as ‘surfing’ the edge of oblivion.

   [BEAT]

   LUCY

  You make that sound like a bad thing.

   STEVE

  You know… never mind.

   LUCY

  Ok– Imagine this: you have a one foot cube block of fudge.

   STEVE

  I like fudge.

   LUCY

  You also have a very hot spoon.  This spoon has been warming in… a cradle of butter… sweet, salty butter… a cradle that gives this spoon lite saber like powers.  So, you take this spoon… and you cleave the fudge.  You cleave it so good!  You cleave this fudge like it has never before been cloven.  You… are the fudge master.

That– is what surfing the shifting dunes is like.  It is the sweetest, most brilliant haptic experience… it’s something that quite frankly defies words.  But it gives one a quiver in the nethers, I’ll tell you that!

   [BEAT]

   STEVE

  Hmm.  So– we had fun… some, perhaps more than others.  And, yes, Lucy was the belle of the ball, so to speak… she did… rock the peaks.  Terrifying to watch, but here she is.  You can see the photos on our MyFace page.  They still make me cringe.

  [BEAT]

That evening, Lucy and I went into the town proper, and had a very nice dinner.

  LUCY

 [GIDDY]

 After I plucked your bottom.

  STEVE

 You know, this seems very out of character for you.

  LUCY

 I guess I’m still giddy from the events.

  STEVE

 Hmm.

Anyway… we went into town, and the establishment we wanted to try, the Publik House Barchan, was closed due to a local holiday… something to do with a resurrection?  Or something?  Anyway, we found a spice bar that was very nice!  A little on the pricey side…

  LUCY

 You didn’t like the food.

  STEVE

 We didn’t go there for the food.

  LUCY

 You said they tried to poison you.

  STEVE

 I may have over-reacted…

so, the Herbert’s Hub is a purveyor of food; that is true… and the food is… not bad.  But the center of their business model is actually built around issue of the dunes, the boletus fecal melange…

                LUCY

 Spice…

  STEVE

 …the awareness spectrum narcotic  spice.  This is, bar none, the best spice boutique East of the Rockies.  It puts Epic Épice…you know, the one attached to Vegman’s?  To shame.  I mean, sure, that place is a warehouse, and they have, like, a billion labels… but quality?  Like comparing croutons to fresh baked bread.  The Hub…

  [DOUBLE BEAT]

I wonder…

      [BEAT]

    I used the flash…

      LUCY

     What?

  STEVE

 The cactus was in shadow, so I used the flash feature… I wonder if that might have aggravated...

  LUCY

 That’s a long way to go to provoke assault from a plant.

  STEVE

 Yeah…

  [BEAT]

…so!  Herbert’s has more than 15 guest blends… and seven house recipes, and they are all out of this world.  Sofa King was good; very mellow… Costas Surface Surfing was… enlightening… and it took me places; the Focus Pocus Little Crocus…

  LUCY

 Mm.  That one gave me a sense of clarity…

  [HALF-BEAT]

But… you know… I thought Cactus Attacked Us was… apropos.

  [BEAT]

  STEVE

 I didn’t try that one.

I was, however, taken with the El Segundo’s Nice Dreams.  That was an epiphany in smoke.

  LUCY

 I found it a little dry.

  STEVE

 To each their own.

  LUCY

 But you know what I did enjoy… the band.  When was the last time you heard zydeco?

  STEVE

 On the ride out.  You played it between podcasts.

  LUCY

 But, I mean, live… that!  was amazing.  Buffle Skifflins and the Window Lickers!

  STEVE

 Joy.  So, yes… there was music.  It was… there.  And for zydeco, I’d have to say it was… consistent.  Also, there was food.  I did not get what I asked for…

  LUCY

 You’re not going to die from scallions.

  STEVE

        I could be allergic.  They don’t know!

  [BEAT]

But, yes… the food was pretty good.  I got the Barron’s Burrito: an overstuffed concoction wrapped in a gooey, blistered tortilla.

  LUCY

 I had the leg of goat; it was remarkable… the seasoning was flavorful, yet delicate; the flesh was seared to perfection…

  STEVE

 Maybe it was the cooing?

  LUCY

 Pardon?

  STEVE

 Well… while observing the cacti, I may have made cooing sounds at them.  As if they were cute.  Because they were.  And I may have cooed at them.

  LUCY

 Sure.  I’d stab you for that.

  [BEAT]

Right.  So, the rest of the trip… mostly uneventful… we had some lovely hikes, another campfire dinner…

  STEVE

 I have to say… you do have a gift for preparing skeet.  Usually, it’s too gamey for my taste?  But what ever you do makes it delicate and mild…

What do you do?

  LUCY

 Yeah.  Not telling.

  STEVE

 Fair enough.  But, given that this was … well, we can share, right?

  LUCY

 What?  Our anniversary?

  STEVE

 Yes please.

  [BEAT]

  LUCY

 If we must.

  STEVE

 [SQWEE]

 So!  Lucy and I met, several years ago…

  LUCY

 Eight.

  STEVE

  …atop Federal Hill back in Baltimore!  We were both flying kites…

  LUCY

 That’s a bit dismissive.

  STEVE

 Right.  I was flying a kite. Lucy was harvesting electricity.  My kite was a classic Hamamatsu; hers was a box coil of canvas, copper, and ceramic.

  LUCY

 [DEADPAN]

 Our lines tangled

  STEVE

 And did the electricity fly!

  LUCY

 You mean you got electrocuted.

  STEVE

 Yes.  Third degree burns.

  [BEAT]

And when I woke, you were at my bedside.

  LUCY

 To clarify: at the hospital.

  STEVE

 [GIDDY]

 And it was love at first sight.

  LUCY

 [ABRUBT SHIFT IN TONE]

 So, Steve.  How’s your little history project going?

  STEVE

 What?

  [HALF-BEAT]

Oh… well, since you ask

  [PAPERS SHUFFLE]

…I’ve got some updates.  Thank you.

  [CLEARS THROAT]

So… I paid a visit to our local Historical Society…

Neat place.  You know that big ornate mansion at the top of Main St?  Used to be Patterson Smyth’s place; that’s the Historical Society.  Their records are much more thorough than the library’s.  No surprise there, I guess.

But I did find out a little more about the exodus from Patterson’s Knob.

  [DOUBLE BEAT]

OK… so, you may recall that I mentioned the settlers acquired the land here in a peaceful manner?

  LUCY

 From a tribe, the name of which we are unfamiliar.

  STEVE

 Ute.

  [DOUBLE BEAT]

  LUCY

 I… what.

  STEVE

 No… Ute.  It’s the tribe.  The band of natives that participated in the exchange were a band of Utes.  No puns about minors from the Bronx, please.

  LUCY

 You know I’m disdainful of puns.  And humor in general.

  STEVE

 So– and this was around the 1860s… but, because of a mild language barrier, there was some confusion in the negotiations.  The Europeans were trying to buy the land… but the natives never purported to own it.

  LUCY

 Meaning?

  STEVE

 Meaning that when the settlers gave them money, the Utes thought they were giving tribute.  They were actually a nomadic tribe and were only passing through…

  LUCY

 So the settlers pretty much threw money at the natives as they were passing by.

  STEVE

 I guess that’s a succinct way to put it.  Bit racist, maybe…

  LUCY

 The Native Americans.

  [HALF-BEAT]

You called them natives too.

  STEVE

 Turns out, our little burg was considered a taboo area, and the Utes were only passing through to avoid a more aggressive tribe that had been pursuing them.  Otherwise they would never have ventured in.

  [DOUBLE BEAT]

  LUCY

 What?  Are you teasing this out?  Why was it taboo?

  STEVE

 Glad you asked!

So– we… have a history of cannibalism!

  LUCY

 And?  How is that relevant?

  STEVE

 What?

  [NERVOUS LAUGHTER]

Ha ha!  No– the town!  This… this location… has a history of cannibalism!  Ha.  What?

  [¼ BEAT]

So, apparently, there was a splinter group of the Arapaho tribe, a band that had been cast out from the main group.  Exiled, as it were.

  LUCY

 For cannibalism.

  STEVE

 Amongst other things, yes.

  [BEAT]

This splinter tribe… a group which has no name, at least, a name they attributed to themselves… perhaps because they had no tongues!

      [BEAT]

 No– just kidding.  They just weren’t very, uh… social.  As such… they didn’t share much amongst other groups.

  LUCY

 You’re saying that no one knows what they were called, because no one ever met them and lived.

  STEVE

 Right.  That.  Didn’t play well with others.

 [BEAT]

History is fun, right?

So- there was this tribe of Native Americans that occupied the area, and it appears that this… is actually the reason that nobody set up here previously.  The amorphous zones were predictable enough; that wasn’t an issue… kind of like today!

  LUCY

 Mm.

  STEVE

 But… the place had a history of people disappearing.  So, when the settlers gave the Utes material and sundries, for what the Native Americans took to be basically, permission to take their place?  Well… yes, please!

  [BEAT]

 Is, um… what I imagine the Utes would say.  In their language.

  [BEAT]

  LUCY

 You were speaking of the previous tenants?

  STEVE

 Right!  So… uh… yes… that was it.  Just, there was a group of people that pretty much consumed anyone that had the misfortune to wander into their area.  That area had a reputation… and… as it seems to happen… well, there’s a gulf in time.  Or, rather… a gulf in documentation.  So, the Historical Society has this incredible database of newspaper files… but the records are pretty scattershot.  I mean, most are from out of town… the Denver Post didn’t even open until ’83, and they were a mere rag back then…

So even the sensationalist stuff took a week to get to them even when it was in their own backyard.  News a week old is not news.

So that’s what I’ve got.

  [BEAT]

But I met a guy!

  [¼ BEAT]

  LUCY

 I’m so happy for you.

  STEVE

 No!  I met a guy at the Historical Society!  He seems to know a little more than the print resources…

  [BEAT]

  LUCY

 You know?  At this point, I think I’d be happy getting back to how we met.  So, yes… I was at your hospital bedside.  Waiting for you to recover…

  STEVE

 You were concerned for my welfare.

  LUCY

 My company was concerned for your welfare.  I had a release for you to sign.

  STEVE

 You wouldn’t leave my bedside.

  LUCY

 I wasn’t allowed to leave your bedside without a signature.  Quite frankly, you wore me down.

  [HALF-BEAT]

 Don’t look smug; that’s how Stockholm Syndrome works.

  STEVE

 But eventually you found my appeal…

  LUCY

 Eventually.

  [BEAT]

I think it was the whimsey.  Or maybe the alcohol your friends snuck in.

  STEVE

 Yeah… that was fun.  That was… that…

  [BEAT]

  LUCY

 …was when you could be near a hospital.

  STEVE

 Hm.

  LUCY

 Still not ready to talk about that.

  STEVE

 [OFF MIC]

 Not yet.

 [ON MIC]

 Right!  So, we had a.. we had…

  LUCY

 An arrangement.  I got my signature, and you got your date.  We went to a rib house.

  STEVE

 [GIDDY]

 Yeah…

  LUCY

 You got crabcakes.  In a landlocked town… at a restaurant that specialized in barbecue ribs.  It was called… House of Ribs.

  STEVE

 Right.  I guess I was just a bit… distracted…

…perhaps a bit smitten.

  LUCY

 Yeah… Ok.  We’re turning this around again.  So– the trip went well: we had fun, no one got blown up…

  STEVE

 Or deconstructed in a spatial rift.

  LUCY

 We had some good food…

  STEVE

 A little political intrigue…

  LUCY

 What?

  [BEAT]

 Oh, right.  I feel like I had more fun with that than you did.

  STEVE

 You mean the part where we were fleeing war-torn Sykara?

  LUCY

 Yes, that.  Though I feel “war torn” is a bit hyperbolic.

  STEVE

 [DEFENSIVE]

 There was tension. And gunshots…

  [BEAT]

I wonder…

  [BEAT]

  LUCY

 Yes?

  [BEAT]

  STEVE

I may… have… stepped on one.

  LUCY

 What?

  STEVE

 I may… have stepped… on a cactus.  On my hike?  I was trying to get a photo of a cresting dune; it was amazing, the roll and the cascade… and, I know you can’t capture that kind of dramatic beauty [in a single frame…]

  LUCY

 The cactus?

  STEVE

 Oh… so, um…I was trying to get the photo, and I may have… crushed… a small, baby… mm, cactus.

  LUCY

 Hm.

  [BEAT]

 I don’t have children.

  [HALF-BEAT]

…of which I’m aware… but if I did… then, yes… if you crushed one, I would stab you with a thousand spears.  Now it makes sense.  It also brings other events into greater clarity.

  STEVE

 You mean the, uh…

  LUCY

 The flat.  Yes.

  STEVE

 Oh… oh yeah… now that you mention it…

  [DOUBLE BEAT]

  LUCY

 Right.  Friends and Family?  While Steve is content to let that taper off into the ether, I am not.

  [BEAT]

 We finished the hike out, looking forward very much to a well deserved repast…

…and discovered two flat tires on the car.

  STEVE

 Oh.  When you put it in those terms… I… guess that makes sense.

  [BEAT]

Huh.

  [DOUBLE BEAT]

  LUCY

 And while Steve considers the consequences of his actions, we return you to your regularly scheduled postcard.

  [HALF-BEAT]

Steve… you need to do something about the Old Man.

  STEVE

 What?  How so?

  LUCY

 His weepage.  That viscous, unnatural fluid that continues to emit from his tear ducts; that freakish ichor… the ocular tar that frightened off the pet sitter.  You need to take the Old Man…

  [BEAT]

  STEVE

 To the shaman?

  LUCY

 To the shaman.

  STEVE

 I have been putting that off…

  [BEAT]

  LUCY

 When we got home, his face looked like the Witch Doctor from Scooby Doo… but– more crusty.

  STEVE

 Yeah… he looked a– he… it’s not good.  And we do have some new gouging on the baseboards.  That might explain that.

  LUCY

 The shaman.

  STEVE

 The shaman.

  [BEAT]

BEGIN END THEME

And so, until next time, thanks for being with us…

This is Steve

  LUCY

 …and Lucy.

  STEVE

 Please subscribe, and rate us on itunes… and join us next month, where we’ll catch you up on what we’re doing, what’s going on… and anything new and exciting…

  LUCY

 Or old and boring.

  STEVE

 …in our neck of the woods.

  LUCY

  [OFF MIC]

 We don’t live in the woods.  And woods don’t have necks.

  STEVE

  [OFF MIC]

 It’s an expression.

  LUCY

  [OFF MIC]

 It’s a stoopid.

         END

This has been Greetings from Butchers Hill. Steve and Lucy were voiced by Steve and Lucy. You can follow the postcard on Facebook and Twitter @79butchershill. Visit Lucy Ann Clark dot com to see her blog. Visit 79butchershill.com for this script, and for more episodes and information. And to all our Friends & Family, thanks again for visiting! See you next time.