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  • Writer's pictureEmily Louise Perkins

May 6

The Engineer with a Worried Mind

By Emily Louise Perkins

Written for Clint Zugel

Virtually Produced by Primary Stages

A city street


All is quiet

We see the chest and chin of a man

He is walking with a swagger

He’s wearing a hoodie

He has headphones on

He’s talkin’ to us but he looks up and out, too

So there’s been a lot of home invasions

there were about seven incidents where cash and shit was stolen

all while people were sleepin’ in there houses you know

and they have this whole campaign on the news tellin’ people that it’s just this one guy an’ to lock your doors

So there were two sides of Kercheval my whole life

It’s a street

Kercheval Street

An’ these huge human-sized flowerpots are like a literal barricade that keep folks from driving in from Detroit

it’s all one way traffic right now

and also the flower pots sort of block the view

if you haven’t seen ‘em before they’re pretty and bougie and but like the other side of Kerchival could use some beautification as well and of course they said that’s coming but who the fuck knows

we used to talk about that he an’ I

I grew up on the uh like good rich white, like, suburb side

I’m sensitive about that but it’s what it was for me

There’s like an uh

race divide

an’ so anyways

I first met my friend on the other side of Kercheval

They don’t come over here but I’d hang out over there with them when I was little

Lots of blues cats


An’ I grew up hearing that music with him by my side you know

he drove like

he didn’t even fucking look where he was going he just went

ya know

I don’ even know what the fuck he would be looking at


And that kind of wide open – like total anarchy

giving everything up like that

Tha’s a wonderful thing an’ an’ he

he taught me that


He sniffs

Maybe wipes his eyes

We see him walk up to a front door

It is propped open with something

He looks around to see if anyone is watching

They aren’t

He walks inside and out the back to a weird back garden

people need to be careful about lockin’ their doors anyway ‘cause it’s desperate times out there

I started doin’ this when he died in this car accident

a freakin’ telephone pole for chrissake

an’ they’re out there thinkin’ I’m from the bad side

from Detroit

but jokes on them ya’ know

a kid from their own neighborhood

he tries a doorknob to see if it’s locked

it’s locked

he tries another one

it’s open

he puts his hoodie over his head

he sneaks in

I was broken when we lost him, man an’ an’

I lived and died in that sorrow

I walked around in it

I don’t even know how to say it

He was a musician


really he was, like, his own song

And people knew it too

Women knew it and they’d be drawn to it and be destroyed by it or else be propelled by it


He fuckin’ died and that kicked me in the ass

so what ‘m’I gonna do with the money

so there’s this idea

a real idea you can look it up online

it’s a campaign they’re doin’ to make Kercheval go both ways

to get ridda the flower pots an’ make like a roundabout so you can drive in and out

he whispers softly

I’m not tryin’a be


fuckin’ Robin Hood or anything but

Before he died we were tripping and we turned around and we both saw the pyramids

We both saw it


And now

I look behind me

An’ I lose faith in this reality you know

It’s not enough

That’s why I’m not scared right now

I inherited all these lies


an’ now I’m usin’ any means necessary ya know

We see him open a drawer

find a wallet

but to be honest I’m still just

I’m still just walkin around in that sorrow you know

He was a song

an’ he came and went

just like the tide

he pockets cash and cards from the wallet

he sings lightly

“Whoa what I want to know is are you kind?”

He closes the drawer

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