Two in the Bush

Slide1

 

I should be very foolish to release the bird I have in my hand to pursue another.   Aesop, “The Nightengale and the Hawk”

 

CHARACTERS:                

NAN, a nature writer, early 30s-late 50s            

ROB, a nature photographer, the same age                     

 

                   LIGHTS UP. ROB and NAN are birders in                         

                   field gear, looking through binoculars.

 

NAN:

Do you see it?

 

ROB:

Not yet.

 

NAN:

You see the large boulder in the middle distance, next to the waterfall?

 

ROB:

Of course.

 

NAN:

And the tree next to it.

 

ROB:

Yes. Is it in the tree?

 

NAN:

No. Behind it. Sight right off the top of it. You’ll see it in the tree line beyond.

 

                   ROB puts down his binoculars.

 

ROB:

I don’t see it. Anywhere. Your sure it’s an eagle? It’s not just a large hawk.

 

                   NAN puts down her binoculars.

 

NAN:

It’s not a hawk, Rob.

 

                   ROB raises his binoculars again.

 

ROB:

I don’t see it.

 

NAN:

Where’s your camera?

 

ROB:

I can’t shoot what I don’t see.

 

NAN:

Not with your camera in its case.

 

                    NAN grabs at the nearby canvas bag.

 

ROB:

Hey!

 

                   ROB puts down his binoculars.

 

NAN:

You’ll miss it. It’ll fly away.

 

ROB:

(loudly) It’s my camera, Nan!

 

NAN:

(quietly) Shh. You’ll spook the eagle.

 

ROB:

If it’s an eagle. I doubt it.

 

                    ROB removes his camera from the bag

                    and fits a telephoto lens to it.

                    NAN looks through her binoculars.

 

NAN:

I don’t see it now.

 

                   ROB sights through the camera, then                           

                   lowers it.

 

ROB:

You can’t photograph what you don’t see.

 

NAN:

It was an eagle.

 

ROB:

Whatever it was.

 

NAN:

It was an eagle.

 

ROB:

Okay.

 

NAN:

It’s gone now.

 

ROB:

I didn’t see it fly away.

 

NAN:

I don’t see it.

 

ROB:

It can’t be gone, Nan.

 

NAN:

I don’t see it.

 

ROB:

It’ll reappear.

 

NAN:

No, it’s gone.

 

                        NAN puts down her binoculars.

 

ROB:

You have to be patient.

 

NAN:

Don’t talk to me about— I did this years before I met you.

 

ROB:

Then you know. It hasn’t disappeared. We just have to wait.

 

NAN:

I’ve got three major magazines interested in this article.

 

 

ROB:

I know.

 

NAN:

But we need pictures.

 

ROB:

And we’ll get them.

 

                        NAN sighs, finds a water bottle and                          

                       drinks. ROB sights through the camera.

 

NAN:

You want some water?

 

ROB:

Naw. Thank you, though.

 

NAN:

You need to hydrate.

 

ROB:

Don’t want to miss the eagle.

 

NAN:

It’s gone, Rob. It’s okay.

 

ROB:

Naw. I’m good.

 

                        NAN takes a drink from the bottle.

 

NAN:

I’m sorry I got—

 

ROB:

It’s okay.

 

NAN:

You don’t have to—

 

ROB:

Shh. Something’s moving.

 

     As NAN raises her binoculars, ROB                                 

                       quickly lowers his camera to drink.

 

NAN:

I don’t see it.

 

ROB:

Over the boulder now.

 

NAN:

I don’t see it.

 

                        ROB sights through his camera.

 

ROB:

Maybe it was the wind.

 

                        NAN lowers her binoculars.

 

NAN:

You’re humoring me.

 

ROB:

I am. But only half the time.

 

NAN:

Half the time?

 

ROB:

More, really. I was humoring you.

 

                        NAN raises, lowers her binoculars.

 

NAN:

You think I don’t know a hawk from an eagle?

 

ROB:

I don’t know how good a look you got of it.

 

NAN:

It was an eagle.

 

ROB:

I believe you.

                        NAN raises her binoculars.

 

NAN:

Three articles I pitched. Me. All you have to do is get us

the pictures.

 

ROB:

You can’t sh—

 

                        NAN holds up a preemptive hand.

 

NAN:

Don’t.

 

ROB:

 

NAN:

Honestly, Rob, would it have hurt you to have your camera out?

 

ROB:

I usually do. But—

 

                   NAN lowers her binoculars, looks at ROB.

 

NAN:

 

ROB:

 

NAN:

That wasn’t my fault.

 

ROB:

I didn’t say anything.

 

NAN:

You thought it.

 

ROB:

I shouldn’t have put the camera where you’d, you know, kick it.

 

NAN:

I didn’t kick it, Rob. I nudged it with my foot. And it… fell.

 

ROB:

Right. That’s all I was thinking. I didn’t want to put my camera where— You know. That might happen again.

 

                        ROB sights through his camera.

 

NAN:

That woman you worked with in Australia. What was her name?

 

ROB:

The Sheila, you mean? Her name was Katherine.

 

NAN:

Was she better than me?

 

                        ROB perhaps reacts subtly, but doesn’t

                        lower the camera.

 

ROB:

Not sure what you mean.

 

NAN:

She was like this big-time Aussie nature writer or something.

 

ROB:

She’d published a couple of nature books, that’s all.

 

NAN:

And there was that woman in Denver. What was her name? With the calendars and the website.

 

ROB:

What about her?

 

NAN:

Are you ever sorry you married me?

 

                        ROB holds his gaze through the lens.

 

ROB:

Some birds mate for life. Some mate seasonally. There’s advantages to both strategies.

 

NAN:

I mean, sorry you married me.

 

                   ROB holds his camera in place, looks at NAN.

 

ROB:

You ever seen a bower bird?

 

NAN:

Not in the wild. I asked you a que—

 

ROB:

The male bower bird goes to absurd lengths to decorate his bower. He’ll drag in leaves, flowers, berries, feathers, shells, pebbles, even coins, broken glass, scraps of fabric, brightly colored candies, shiny pop-tops from beer cans, whatever he can find to decorate the bower and make it attractive for the mate.

 

NAN:

Yeah, I know—

 

ROB:

Then he does a little song and dance to call in prospective mates.

 

NAN:

Rob…

 

ROB:

Then the female bower bird flies in and remakes it. Tears apart his work, and redecorates.

 

NAN:

I know this. So?

 

ROB:

So, it used to bother me that the poor bird worked so hard to please a mate, and then had her come in and re-do all his work. Until I realized that he wasn’t just trying to impress a mate.

He was trying to find one to work with him, who’d work with those materials, who’d see what he was doing and make it better.

 

                   They look at each other for a long moment.

 

NAN:

Bower bird, huh.

 

ROB:

I did a photo-spread on them. This was years ago. Before we were married. The article was terrible. That woman I was working didn’t have your knack for writing.

 

 

NAN:

No?

 

ROB:

 

                   ROB returns to sighting through his camera.

 

Great in the bush, though.

 

                   NAN laughs at this, despite herself.

 

 

NAN:

 

We hear the click and whirr of his camera.

                   NAN raises her binoculars, tracking.

 

Oh my god. Did you get that?

 

ROB:

Both of them. In flight. Above the tree line. You said you wanted a nesting pair.

 

NAN:

A pair of eagles. And you got pictures of them.

 

                        NAN kisses ROB. Then she puts away

                        her water bottle, rises as if to go.

 

I don’t think they were nesting, though.

 

ROB:

No?

 

NAN:

Not the right location. Maybe closer to the lake.

 

ROB:

Might be worth waiting to see.

 

NAN:

The sun’s going down, it’ll get cold soon.

 

 

ROB:

Right. If that is their nest, then they’ll be back.

 

                   NAN starts to say something, then sits.

 

What’ll we do while we’re waiting?

 

                   ROB takes a quick sighting through his

                   camera, then kisses NAN. After a moment,

                   NAN breaks the kiss to ask:

 

How long ago was that article on bower birds?

 

ROB:

Oh, this was years ago. I hardly remember the woman’s name.

 

NAN:

Katherine. What do you think about doing another article?

 

ROB:

On the bower bird? With you? Hmm. We’d have to do some trekking. Australia, New Guinea. Do you think you could sell it?

 

NAN:

“Sitting in the Catbird Seat: Two Bowerbirds Meet Their Match.” Something like that.

 

ROB:

Let’s look into it.

 

                   NAN sees something, raises her binoculars.

 

ROB:

(quietly) Is it them?

 

                   NAN nods excitedly.

 

NAN:

(quietly) Both of them.

 

                   ROB raises his camera and begins shooting.

                   We hear the screetch of an eagle, and

                   another one responding to its call.                         

 

END OF PLAY.

 

 

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