by Miles Thorsen
YAWP, Summer 2017
LARRY Lee, older brother
STANLEY Lee, younger brother
MOTHER Lee, their mother
LADY, a villager
[Letter to STANLEY & MOTHER]
Dear Mother and little brother,
The past weeks have been full of blessings and pain. The pain being the pain of missing my dear family so greatly. This past month has been full of the wonders of Buddha. First of all, we have been blessed with a surplus of food & other goods, so much so that I have not known hunger for an entire day for almost 3 weeks now. This has allowed me to focus more intensely on my spiritual journey. Just the other day we found ourselves building a bridge on a farmer’s path which was cut in half by a stream from up the mountain. The previous week we had climbed the same mountain for quite a ways until the air was thin, and there we meditated which was an experience which I am blessed to have had. On the way up I saw something among the trees which reminded me of you, Stanley. A nest full of baby herrings [herons?] was making quite a ruckus as one of the babies was about to fall from the nest. As it fell, another baby stepped up to where the other one had been. The first bird began flapping its wings and eventually caught a gust of air and took off. The other bird waited a minute and then followed suit, flying off after his sibling. When you come to join me soon here at the monastery it’s going to be like finally flapping your wings and flying. We’ll be soaring together and become great monks. I miss you both dearly.
(People are gathered wishing their kids good luck as they embark on a spiritual journey with the Buddhist monks.)
MOTHER: Goodbye my son, bring honor upon your family!
STANLEY: Thank you mother. I will make you proud and bring honor to our family.
MOTHER: Bring these gifts to your brother when you join him. Farewell!
LARRY: Welcome brother!
STANLEY:Brother! It has been so long.
LARRY: Indeed. I am overjoyed with your decision to join us in a life of peace and humility.
STANLEY: I bring gifts from Mother.
LARRY: Let me see.
STANLEY: The flower must have died while I was walking here from the village.
LARRY: It’s quite alright. I appreciate the fine cloth, but what I am truly in need of is food. We have been without sustenance for nearly a week now.
STANLEY: How do you usually get food?
LARRY: We go to a village on the other side of this ridge and the kind, devout Buddhists who live there provide us with rice, eats, spices, and tea leaves.
STANLEY: Bless their souls. When do we next venture to said village?
LARRY: You are fortunate with the timing of your arrival, as we depart tomorrow to this village.
STANLEY: I am blessed. In the meantime, let us recollect and discuss what is to come of our future.
STANLEY: Here we are brother. How come no villagers have come to greet us?
LARRY: Some of these villagers have been infected with a belief of a false god, by Christian missionaries from over yonder.
STANLEY: Poor souls. We should stay here longer and attempt to help them find the path.
LARRY: Sorry, my brother, but these people are beyond our help. Perhaps you can remain here with the rest of the younger monks while we say hello to our Buddhist friends and retrieve our provisions.
STANLEY: It would greatly please me to meet other Buddhists and meditate together.
LARRY: Stay here, Stanley.
STANLEY: I shall go elsewhere as nobody here seems willing to share their belongings with us.
(STANLEY is walking through the village when he notices a commotion occurring at a hut belonging to a LADY.)
LARRY: How dare you attempt to refuse giving food to us. Buddha would be ashamed of your actions. I can see the food right under that blanket over there.
LADY: Please sir! It’s all I have, don’t take it.
LARRY: If you were eating like a farm animal and were truly following the teachings of the Enlightened One, you would still have food for us.
LADY: It’s all my children have to eat.
LARRY: I still need it.
(LARRY takes food and leaves as woman begs him to stop.)
STANLEY: What is this atrocity I have witnessed at the hands of my own brother?
[At the monastery]
LARRY: Brother, why haven’t you touched your food? We are blessed with bountiful provisions, and you refuse to accept the gifts which those kind villagers bestowed upon us?
STANLEY: I have no appetite for stolen goods.
LARRY: What are you saying?
STANLEY: I saw what happened earlier. How you treated your so-called “friend.”
LARRY: You shouldn’t have seen that.
STANLEY: Well I did.
LARRY: I told you to stay where you were!
STANLEY: Nobody was giving us food so I left.
LARRY: You are a fool!
STANLEY: You are a liar and a thief! No wonder nobody was willing to give us anything. You already took everything they had.
LARRY: Shut up, you fool! You know nothing of the way of Buddha.
STANLEY: I know that what you have done is wrong, and you must answer for it.
LARRY: Who will you tell?
STANLEY: Surely you are the only one at this sacred place evil enough to commit such acts.
LARRY: My brothers are better men than I but know what must be done if we are to eat and survive.
STANLEY: Truly I am in disbelief. How could you do such a thing? I thought you to be the perfect example of a man. What would Mother say if she saw how you acted?
LARRY: Don’t bring Mother into this.
STANLEY: You should have seen the look on her face whenever she would get a letter from you. Now I doubt whether or not what you said was truth or another lie.
LARRY: Just because I have to resort to less than perfect means to complete one task doesn’t mean you have to be so wishy-washy. Don’t you remember our times together before I left?
STANLEY: You were everything to me. All I wanted in life was to be you, but now I’m not sure I ever want to see you again. Why should I stay here among thieves who twist the word of Buddha to their liking?
LARRY: If you leave here you will bring dishonor and shame on our family. You will cause Mother to drown in her own tears with sorrow.
STANLEY: At least I’ll be doing the right thing.
LARRY: Will you be, though?
STANLEY: What do you mean?
LARRY: Who are you to decide the best way to follow Buddha.
STANLEY: I don’t need Buddha to know what you’ve done is wrong.
LARRY: How else should I survive?
STANLEY: Have you tried farming?
LARRY: We are far too busy studying the word of Buddha and meditating to commit to a garden. Believe me, if there was any other way we would do it.
STANLEY: There’s always another way.
LARRY: Not this time, Stanley. Now are you going to eat that or not?
STANLEY: Don’t dismiss me like that! How can you expect me to continue down a path that I started on because of a lie!
LARRY: What lie?
STANLEY: The lie that you are a good person.
LARRY: I did not lie! All of those letters were truthful. You really think I’d lie to Mother like that!
STANLEY: I don’t know who you are anymore.
(LARRY slaps STANLEY.)
LARRY: I’m your big brother and you WILL listen to me!
STANLEY: You’re nobody to me. I am leaving for good. I should have left as soon as I saw what I did in the village, but I thought that maybe you were still my big brother at heart. I can see now that you are completely consumed by greed and anger. Goodbye Larry.