Locating Page (A dramatic monologue) Rating: PG
Iella

This is an experiment. I've had it in mind for a while to write a piece about Judder Page, who IMO is one of the great unsung heroes of the EU. Luceno's treatment of him in TUF provided the spark I needed, mainly the section on page 215 (I think) where he describes Page's chameleon-like qualities.

However, I've been prevaricating between writing the piece as a poem or a vignette. The poem form appeals to me more, because
a) I like playing with poems, and
b) I find poems allow me more freedom with language and structure.

But the content I wanted to deal with seemed to lend itself more to prose. So I had a dilemma — poem or viggie?

Then I remembered Robert Browning and his dramatic monologues, and I decided to have a crack at that genre using this story I wanted to tell about Page as the content.

I'd be interested in some critique from readers as to whether you think it works, or whether it should be redone as a viggie. As I said — this is an experiment, and some experiments fail. ;)

Ooh — and may I point out that I have four fairly outspoken kids so I can deal with criticism.


I thought I'd picked the easy job,
took it as a good excuse to get out
and enjoy some fresh air and sun,
shake off the languid late-afternoon malaise
that had descended like a musty blanket.

I was pretty sure I could find him.
I'd heard the boss talking to him earlier
telling him to go out and keep his eyes open.
We're doing a lot of that at the moment —
watching, listening, waiting — so I figured
that was another reason to take a break;
too much thinking makes you twitchy,
too many possibilities. I mean this place
is so full of lowlife, it's practically sinking.

So I headed out, felt my spirits start to lift,
shrugged off the tensile brace I'd felt
insinuating across my shoulder blades
like a bandolier two sizes too small.
The streets were quiet, too quiet — meaning?
It's obvious isn't it — something was going on,
and wherever that something was,
that's where I'd find him. Easy.

Well — technically easy, yes. Easy enough
to find why the streets were so empty —
some kind of rally in a park near the market,
and if you're guessing Peace Brigade
you wouldn't be wrong; those vermin are everywhere
suckling on fear like mynocks on power cables.
But now that I'm here, and see the size of the crowd,
I realize I might have to revise my assessment,
although I still reckon if I find a good spot
it shouldn't be long before I find him ...

That might be him, over there, beside that sign.
Sun's low now, playing shadow games, but I'd swear ...

No. Same build though, just a bit on the short side.
Probably won't be standing by himself either
now I come to think of it. Probably joined
one of those clusters near the front. More his style.
Likes to do his research thoroughly and find out
what the average Joe on the street is thinking.

Funny thing is, they won't realize he's not a local.
Frustrating thing is, I'm seeing him everywhere

and nowhere. He's got one of those faces that fit in,
not exactly non-descript — that sounds too weak.
Mutable? Kind of mask-like maybe. Yeah ...
Someone told him once he could be an actor.
He laughed; said he might consider it
once the war ended. Can't recall
which war that was ...

Damn shadows must be getting into my head.
I can still see his expression as he said that
but do you think I can see his face? I mean,
really see it outside of the obvious features
like eye colour and size of nose ... and intelligence?
And how can you pick intelligence at a distance?

Page, you bastard. Where are you!

I should have known this would happen.
He's like his name. You think, Page:
simple word, four letters, two consonants,
two vowels taking turn and turn about
like marching feet: left, right, left and right.

And then you say the word and realize
your pretty analysis is completely screwed.
The letters mean nothing by themselves,
it's how they hold together, how they meld
into one sound, itself unremarkable
except to say it's a good word to whisper
in the dark behind enemy lines, that long vowel
gliding like a breeze past the ears of guards;
a good word to shout in the heat of battle
because you know he'll hear you,
his ear fine-tuned to that articulation
of his identity. That's what Page means,
and believe me it's not simple. No way.

Which doesn't really help me very much —
well not at the moment anyway. I'm thinking
maybe I was wrong, maybe he isn't here,
or maybe he's been and gone. In which case
I guess the best thing to do is join the crowd,
see what bantha fodder they're being thrown,
so I can write a report when I get back.

Which reminds me that it's dinnertime and I'm hungry,
and there was a food stall I passed a few minutes ago
that looked okay — well, as far as hygiene goes anyway.
Although in our line of work you soon develop immunity
to just about any ugly little blob of protoplasm that nature
can toss at you. Fitness and a healthy diet have nothing
to do with it — don't let those recruitment posters fool you —
the secret, my friend, lies in your stomach acid, pure
and simple, and preferably one hundred percent proof.

And I'm telling you, I need every percent of that good
potent hydrochloric broth to digest the crap I'm hearing —
makes this unidentifiable concoction I'm eating almost
palatable. Almost.
Which reminds me,
did I check my change?

Damn fool — so engrossed with finding Page
I broke one of my basic rules of market protocol:
Never trust a stall-owner's mathematics. I ...
someone tapping my shoulder ... what the ...

Page!

Why should I be surprised?
Must have been here all along
enjoying the Collaborationist spit.

Don't know why he's grinning

until he holds out the missing coin
and places it with the rest in my palm.

If I tell him he had a trustworthy face
would he be offended ... or amused,
or would he realize I was lying?
Because you know what?
I have no memory
of that stall-owner
at all.

 

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