SCENE 3 (Lights up on RAY, just as he was at blackout, book in hand)
RAY I don't predict the future. I try to prevent it. (He moves out of the A Sound Of Thunder story-world, down towards us.)
RAY (cont.) Men are lousy drivers, and lousy politicians. When they do either, people die. Check the statistics. Why not let women man the wheel? For a few years, at least. We've ingested testosterone from the mouth of the cave to the burned libraries of Alexandria to unending war. Men confront problems – they depart. Women stay to sort baggage, clean souls, mend tempers. Oh Lord, let all the nations and all the cities of all the world be governed, for just a little while, by women. Just ordinary, by which I mean extraordinary, women who can mother-nurse-teach the world. Men don't have to go to the back of the bus. They can protect their ravenous egos by advising from a side-seat on how to get lost.
Maybe then we'll teach our kids to read by the first grade, living in libraries, learning almost by osmosis. If we don't do that, we lose them forever.
Will we do that?
Or will we stay at the mirror maze, performing for ourselves, in love with our cloned faces, rushing to see how we look in the hundred-million-lensed housefly eye? We the murderers and we the victims, we the funeral managers and ourselves boxed in the grave, not Big Brother the smiler with the wide-screen TV knife but we everywhere, loving to be watched and My God that's me up there on Channel 9 and “How does it feel, Mrs. Gutierrez, with your son gunned down moments ago?” and her answering but watching the mirror to see how she plays. Not going to the theater, because we are the theater.
Someone asked me if I wanted to come back in 100 years and see if we've landed on Mars. I said “No. I want to come back in 100 years and see if we're still stupid.”
Now when I jumped out of bed that morning I had no idea I was going to be doing this story. But I'd been thinking it since I was three! Everything since before you were born goes into your subconscious. And if you've been stuffing your head with all kinds of notions and poetry and scientific ideas, too, well my gosh, you've got a hell of a lot of mulch up there! One day you press a button (punches a typewriter key) and it all comes springing out of you.
This is the only way to live that I know of. It's got to be fun. It's got to be an adventure. If life is going to be worth a damn, love and imagination have to be at the center of it. Well, you say, “Well that's fine for you, you're a writer, you're supposed to be nuts! I have to live in the real world.”
(like a poem) Are you excited in that world?
Are you enthusiastic in that world?
If not, why not? And why aren't you out searching for something to be enthusiastic about? How can you refuse life? The time is so short. How can you not be in love with something?
The things you love should be things you do and the things you do should be things you love. Never let anyone make you feel ashamed of your love. To hell with them. You love what you love. (He types two words with hard, triumphant strokes - we see them onscreen as he does.)
ONSCREEN TEXT: The Dinosaur!
That's what I love!
"We've reached Alpha Centauri! We're tall, O God, we're tall!"
RAY Wow! My gosh. Don't sit down; I won't take long, but every time I have people trapped like this (takes a folded sheet from his pocket) I bring out a poem, because they can't escape, huh? It's a short poem, like me, but it sums up my feelings on space travel, Man, God, the Seven Days Of Creation, the Eighth long day of Man On Earth, the Ninth long day of Man In Space, why I write and why I hope. May I read it to you? (We Say Yes!) Alright.
ONSCREEN TEXT: If Only We Had Taller Been
RAY (first reading, then from heart memory) “The fence we walked between the years Did balance us serene. It was a place half in the sky where,
in the green of leaf and promising of peach, we'd reach our hands to touch and almost touch the sky. If we could reach and touch, we said, 'Twould teach us, not to, never to, be dead.
We ached and almost touched that stuff; Our reach was never quite enough. If only we had taller been, And touched God's cuff, His hem, We would not have to go with them Who've gone before,
Who, short as us, stood tall as they could stand And hoped by stretching, tall, that they might keep their land, Their home, their hearth, their flesh and soul. But they, like us, were standing in a hole.
O, Thomas, will a Race one day stand really tall Across the Void, across the Universe and all? And, measured out with rocket fire, at last put Adam's finger forth As on the Sistine Ceiling, and God's hand come down the other way To measure man and find him Good, And Gift him with Forever's Day?
I work for that. Short man, Large dream. I send my rockets forth between my ears, Hoping an inch of Good is worth a pound of years. Aching to hear a voice cry back along the Universal Mall:
We've reached Alpha Centauri! We're tall, O God, we're tall!”