A POP-EYED SAILOR FROM VERONA

Cast of Characters

Popeye de Verona– A Sailor-man

Olive D’oyl-A Captain’s daughter, seriously on the make.

Bluto-A ruffian of Venice, controls the wharves, and has his eye on the fair maid Olive.

Wimpy-Ship’s cook

Archios the victuals seller

chorus of whores

Act I, scene one– Popeye and Wimpy are on shore leave in Venice after a rough Atlantic crossing.

Popeye: (chortles) Decorum, that inhibitor of unpremeditated action, is all that keeps me from kissing the very earth beneath our feet, Wimpy.

Wimpy: And a lack of ketchup with which to render this soil palatable, is all that saves it from ingestation.

(Popeye spies a comely, if awfully thin, wench across the piazza. His pipe whirls madly, lighting itself with the heat of the Popeye’s ardor, as he has been deprived of female companionship for many a month.)

Popeye: Ah, Procrustes. Thou mayst have stretched this comely maiden, but to a perfection which ancient lore has deemed you incapable of wreaking.

Wimpy: (to audience)Oh dear, I see the sails of a vessel of travail appearing on the horizon, and making good way in our direction.
(to Popeye) Forgetteh thee, old friend, that the Captain has charged us with seeking out and subsequently bargaining for the replenishing of our depleted ship’s stores at the most advantageous price? Veer not, he did say unto us, from our task.

Popeye: Consider, Wimpy, that mayhap yonder comely lass is indeed herself a ship’s chandler, or a daughter thereof? If such circumstance proved true, then we would be in violation of the charge to which the Captain has entrusted us, should we refrain from engaging her in a dialogue. (Popeye makes his way across the square, swiping on the way a vase full of flowers from an open window.)

Olive: A handsome sailor doth approach, and no stallion could make plainer his intentions. Yet, he strides with purpose, his clothes are clean, and whiter than the sun-bleached shinbone of St. Ignacio, at whose reliquary I only this morning prayed that I might meet my husband-to-be before my eighteenth birthday has passed, and my value wanes. I so long to honor Father, but his choice for my hand leaves me troubled. Still, I will marry his choice, for cementing business relations with the Panera family by wedding his son is Father’s most ardent wish. Unless, my prayers are answered, and I find a beau whose attributes are more conducive to both Father’s and mineself’s long-term best interest. For I long for adventure and learning, goals far more attractive than marrying well and having baby after baby after baby….

Popeye: Madame, mightsk I interrupt your soliloquy?

Olive: Forgive me , sailor man, for airing my troubles aloud. My, what an unusual pipe you have. Of what material is its construction?

Popeye: It is carved from the cob of the fruit of the maize, a plant indigenous to the New World, from whensk my ship has just returned from a successful voyage.

Olive: The New World! How exciting! You must have many tales of bravery and adventure, for I hear monstrous animals and grasses the size of trees exist in those exotic climes.

Popeye: If exoticism equals beauty, then thou art the strangest sight I have had the fortune to lay eyes upon.

Olive: An odd, but touching compliment thou hast chosen to bestow upon me, sailor. Tell me your name, and of what high-born family you may be a member.

Popeye: I yam what I yam, and a sailor has no family more matterful than his fellow shipmates.

Olive: Oh, a noble sentiment indeed…

Popeye: But I do have these, although they doth dim in the glow of your loveliness, which doth shine on this market like a second sun might seek to upstage its established rival.

Olive: (titters) How sweet! And you refer to that which you hide in the hand behind your back?

Popeye: A mere token of my appreciation. (just as Popeye brings his hand into view, the flowers are snatched away by a large bearded man, who proceeds to swat the smaller sailor into the muddy street.)

Bluto: Thanks for holding my flowers for me whilst I attended to the important business of the wharf. Now begone and be grateful for the chance to do a favor for the merchant class, seaman.

Olive: Oh Bluto! What lovely flowers!

Bluto: You are the fairest of all flora, these merely accent your superior attributes.

Popeye: Verily, blowest me down! How fair is it that I steal the flowers in order to impress a lady, and they are stolen from my hand by a lout of her acquaintance? How is it that she does not see that said bouquet was mine, and meant to endear her to me? Has high-blooded inbreeding rendered her infirm of sight? What would a gentleman from Verona do in this circumstance? As if I should even consider such notions, when a sailor knows what must be done ere his name be dragged through the muddy streets like Hector after his defeat at the hands of  Achilles…

Chorus of whores: So for what is it that you wait? Is thine talk a shield, employed to avoid action? Nay, forget the skinny one, and take for your pleasure a stout woman, to whom no act is without precedent.

Popeye: I will fight, for my honor, and that of my ship! And, just once, I want a woman who has shared not her gifts with men for money, just once! (And he starts hitting Bluto from behind. Bluto ignores him and continues sweet-talking his intended. Finally, Popeye’s punches gain his notice, and without taking his lecherous eyes from Olive, he grabs Popeye, whirls him above his head like a baton, and sends him flying across the marketplace.

Act I, Scene two   across the marketplace

Archios: In this pot is spinach, and sir, as with the crumbled and pressed beef that lies between two slices of bread, Should ye acquire the wherewithal to pursue purchase, you may then have a taste of the fare. But eat today on a promise of recompense on the morrow? It shall not be.

(Suddenly there is a splash, and Archios the seller of victuals, and Wimpy are both covered with green strands of wet vegetable matter)

Wimpy: (sampling the strange new foodstuff, gauging the crew’s reaction to its being served with grog) Surely, you will not insist that I place this flotsam back in the pot? Better that it not go to waste….Popeye!(seeing his friend surface from where Bluto’s toss had landed him). Surely thou art blisterd from immersion in such a hot medium.

Popeye: Me pipe is extinguished! (he sucks harder on the corn-cob, hoping for an ember to catch. Instead, he sucks a stream of spinach down his throat. Trumpets blare, the anchors tattoed on his arms jump off, grow to ten feet in height, and pull him from the boiling pot of greens. He reaches into the cauldron and grabs a handful of spinach, stuffing in his mouth, swallowing it without chewing, which is the secret to getting real strong from the ingestion of a mundane vegetable.)

Archios: His forearms doth swell, as in the manner of a street dog’s carcass left in the hot sun, abandoned in death as in life. And there is murder in his eyes.

Wimpy: Aye, I fear for he who is the subject of his anger.

(curtain falls as Popeye approaches Olive and Bluto)

=======================

Act II, scene one , an hour later

Archios: Had the Gods made this their battleground, still would we have not seen a better fracas than the one just witnessed.

Chorus of whores: You witnessed, Archios, we had business to attend to.

Archios: This man Popeye did wield a mighty fist. His first punch sent Sra. Panera’s boy Bluto into the air, as like a rocket which the fablist Marco Polo described in his questionable journals. Then, whence Bluto’s plummet did bring him once again into proximity with the fists of the transformed sailor man, he was subjected to a trouncing of comic proportions. The dust did settle, and a sight was revealed to us that defies understanding. Bluto was reduced to a stack of sliced Genoa Salami, with a sticker on the top listing the price at 50¢/lb. Now, what is this ¢, I asked, but some symbol of the dark arts? The constable agreed, and Popeye, the sailor man, is at this very minute being burned at the stake for his sorcery. Now, ladies, if you will accept my pardon, I must find a funny-looking fellow who has taken my Genoan salami as his own, and have him join the warlock on the pyre.

Chorus of whores: We saw him! (Pointing left)He went that way!

(Archios turns and strides away. From underneath the dresses of the chorus of whores, Wimpy peers out. Satisfied that Archios has taken the misdirection, he picks up the remains of Bluto and prepares to head back to his ship.)

Wimpy: My thanks, ladies, for the protection, as well as the quality of your service.

Chorus of whores: All well and good, sirrah. But we take our thanks in coin of the realm.

Wimpy: Which coin I will pay tomorrow for what I ate today. Good day, ladies, I have business to conduct with the baker down the way.

{Exit, stage left, curtain falls}

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