Scene: It’s a bus station under the overpass, near where the new stadium is, where they play baseball. St. Louis downtown, and it must be summertime because it’s dusk now, the sun already disappeared below the buildings, the light that is still there mixed with the pale deficient blue of an almost cloudless sky, the few clouds only wisps, like the heat from the day was too much for them, dissipating them, leaving just a pink-colored smoke and harsh reflections from the glass windows still tall enough. It’s dusk now, and this known to the audience watching and to the two men sitting outside the bus station, but like in some nameless dream this is sensed differently somehow, not from awake senses, but perceived nonetheless, known like a city’s horizon at dusk, though only in certain details and the rest intuited. There’s a bench there, just out of reach to the motion of automatic doors, and that is where these two men sit, or rather, one man was sitting there when a man on crutches shows up and sits down, and this is how their nameless dream starts, how the story begins, and this is how they know it is St. Louis, outside this bus station. They read it from each other.
And they already know they’ve missed something, because the parking lot is empty, ugly in scattered papers blowing in the hot breeze. Even the fence around it spells emptiness, for there are no cars in the streets, not to mention buses, only the sounds of them overhead as Highway 40 passes by. None of the streetlights are on, but it seems like things are closed, which is funny for a bus station, and that’s how the two gentlemen know that it’s a dream, but like the audience watching, what they aren’t sure of is who’s dreaming who. The man that was first sitting has his hands on his knees. A tambourine is balancing on the armrest beside him. You can’t see his eyes. He’s wearing a top hat wig with wavy hair flowing down over the back of the bench, a white feather in the band, and the way his head is tilted he might be sleeping. Even so his breathing makes noise, for there’s a harmonica brace around his neck, and every time he breathes in or out, a little of it gets caught in the harmonica resting beneath his mouth. His head rises a bit when the other man approaches, enough to silence the harmonica, but that’s the only acknowledgment he gives the man, a man dressed in a brown suit from the seventies, corduroy with lots of pockets. When he sits you notice he’s wearing a hat too, or a bandanna rather, colored in green, red, and gold, to tie back his long braided hair, and he’s wearing dark sunglasses. He rests his crutches beside him, his foot propped up and his big toe sticking out all bandaged up. There’s a giant blunt in his mouth. He lights it. It is the only action in their conversation.
Mr. Brown: Want a lift?
Mr. Tambourine Man: No thanks. I quit taking my medicine.
Mr. Brown: I never did like doctors.
Mr. Tambourine Man: What bus are you waiting on?
Mr. Brown: I’m not sure. I thought you might know.
Mr. Tambourine Man: Last thing I remember I was on Sesame Street. Attending Big Bird’s funeral. I was waiting in the procession. Watching the casket move. It had a hole in the top for his beak to stick out. And they wanted me to sing.
Mr. Brown: That’s a strange dream.
Mr. Tambourine Man: Maybe it wasn’t a dream. Maybe I created it in order to be born.
Mr. Brown: Not everybody can create what they dream.
Mr. Tambourine: What you create haunts you. Everybody’s haunted by their birth.
Mr. Brown: Not if you believe in it.
Mr. Tambourine Man: Maybe I believed in it too hard. Maybe you did too.
Mr. Brown: So why are we here? Why are you here with me?
Mr. Tambourine Man: I don’t know. Why are you?
Mr. Brown: I never did like questions.
Mr. Tambourine Man: You always end up answering them. The words change, but you don’t. Time just changes them around you.
Mr. Brown: Maybe we’re supposed to be here.
Mr. Tambourine Man: Maybe so. Otherwise I might be somewhere else.
Mr. Brown: Maybe you are. Time alone will tell.
Mr. Tambourine Man: Time doesn’t exist when it’s all happening at once.
Mr. Brown: Maybe we should be sizing each other up.
Mr. Tambourine Man: I think we already have.
Mr. Brown: So who’s the greatest?
Mr. Tambourine Man: I thought you didn’t like questions.
Mr. Brown: You always end up answering them. Even when you try not to ask.
Mr. Tambourine Man: It’s making someone love you more.
Mr. Brown: Maybe you inspire people to think about themselves.
Mr. Tambourine Man: You find what they worship.
Mr. Brown: Maybe you try to speak the truth. Afraid that you have lied.
Mr. Tambourine Man: You become their golden calf in what they want. And they want their world. You become their Jesus in wanting to forgive them.
Mr. Brown: And maybe you become an idol trying to become what you worship.
Mr. Tambourine Man: Wouldn’t you rather become an idol than worship one?
Mr. Brown: That is the way of this world. But you already know that. You know you can’t ask that question ’til you’re dead.
Mr. Tambourine Man: Are you dead?
Mr. Brown: I guess not. I’m still loved.
Mr. Tambourine Man: Greatness is born many times. Every time something dies.
Mr. Brown: We’re born when we speak for those who can’t, investing in their memories, enriching love… I didn’t ask to be here. Just like you didn’t ask. But you wanted to. You wanted to ask. And when you find answers to that, to why you’re here, the next question is inevitable for all of us.
Mr. Tambourine Man: I still wouldn’t want to change any of it. Not even the judgments I have to face.
Mr. Brown: You’d be waiting in vain if you did.
Mr. Tambourine Man: I know what we’re waiting on.
Mr. Brown: We’re waiting to go back to that old city, for blindness to our pride, and the Voice.
Mr. Tambourine Man: And I know there’s a full moon rising beyond the river, even though I don’t see it.
Mr. Brown: And is that all? What else do you know? Are you waiting for something else? For someone else to love you?
Mr. Tambourine Man: I know something is being born. I know that. Someone is being born right now.