Ireland Stumbles

Slide1                                                           

                                                             LIGHTS UP on Ireland & Sons, an antiquarian’s

                                                            shoppe out of a sketch by Gilroy or Rowlandson.

 

                                                            SAM IRELAND, 50ish dealer in antiquities, sits

                                                            behind a table, with his 19 year old son W.H.

                                                            standing silent beside him.

 

                                                            JORDIE stands fidgeting, auditioning his wares,

                                                            as it were. He is an ill-kempt looking man whose

                                                            main interest seems to be in securing a pint of ale

                                                            for the empty ale pot he holds. He attempts this by

                                                            an outpouring of amusing anecdotage, which

                                                            SAM notes, skeptically, in a pocket account book.

 

JORDIE:

Nay, not just there in Stratford, but to this day

In all the roadside villages along the way

From Warwickshire to London, yea, the Bard

Of Avon, as they call him, was heard of –Nay,

Was known by name!— at every little courtyard inn,

For there was not a tavern even then

In any hamlet (pun intended, hehehe)

But that the tapster knew Bill Shakespeare’s name,

Long before he’d left for London to become

The Poet of the Age. So say they still in Stratford.

 

                                                            JORDIE pauses, then genuflects awkwardly.

 

I’ve heard it sworn myself, and will attest to it

Under witnesses, above my signature…

 

                                                            JORDIE puts the ale pot on the table, prentational. 

 

That this ale pot was his ale pot what wrote Lear,

And Hamlet, and the other plays he wrote.

 

                                                            A pause. SAM continues writing for a moment.

                                                            JORDIE clears his throat, indicates the empty

                                                            ale pot upon the table.

 

Can I get a pint, Gov?

 

                                                            SAM finishes his notes with a flourish, sets down

                                                            his notebook and smiles at JORDIE.

 

SAM:

By all means, Jordie, you shall have an ale.

 

                                                            SAM addresses W.H., as if speaking to a servant.

 

(Go, Samuel! Fetch a drink for our good friend)

 

                                                            JORDIE gives the ale pot to W.H., but SAM

                                                            snatches it from W.H., and snaps at him.

 

Bring another ale pot.

 

W.H.

Y-yes, F-f-father.

 

                                                            W.H. exits. SAM examines the ale pot.

 

SAM:

This ale pot looks to be authentic. Kiln fired,

Of a type you’d find in Warwickshire.

But nay, I’d not part with tuppence for that tale

You and your various sources would vend

About the Bard of Avon in a drinking bout

Under a tree in Bidford Common.

crabbed from a bunch of drunkards just about

a half a hundred years after the fact.

 

                                                            SAM thumps the empty ale pot, listening.

 

There’s nothing in this. No novelty. It smacks

Of rheumy gossip, frankly. Rumor, stale,

Over-rehearsed, a shopworn tale.

 

                                                            SAM sets the ale pot down with a thunk.

 

In short, it’s second hand news.

Worth no more than a small handful of sous,

This relic of another era.

 

                                                            SAM rises, addressing a contrite JORDIE.

 

I don’t believe that Shakespeare drank

Immoderately. I don’t subscribe to the popular view

That artists must be dissolute.

I am myself a temperate man, and so

Ascribe success in business dealings to

Retaining a clear mind and good judgment.

 

                                                            W.H. returns with a full ale pot for JORDIE.

 

JORDIE:

Ah! Thank ye kindly, Will Henry.

 

SAM:

My son’s name is Samuel, Jordie.

Mind you don’t spill the ale, there, Sammy.

 

                                                            Sam turns his back on both the others.

 

You’ve other items, Jordie, or that’s it?

 

                                                            JORDIE looks at W.H., who nods at him.

 

W.H.

Y-yes, J-j-jordie, there was something else?

 

                                                            JORDIE cagely draws out a document, as

                                                            W.H. shifts to stand outside his father’s eyeshot

                                                            to “conduct” JORDIE, even mouthing words

                                                            JORDIE hasn’t conned correctly.                                                     

 

JORDIE:

I hesitate to show it to such eyes as yours,

As Ireland & Son—

 

                                                            W.H. desperately shakes his head: “NO!”

 

SAM:

—It’s ‘Sons.’

 

JORDIE:

Beg pardon: “Sons.”

…Are known as such a reputable house.

 

SAM:

Get to the point, you avaricicious lout.

 

                                                            JORDIE, catching only an amiable tone and

                                                            missing SAM’s irony, looks confused.

 

JORDIE:

I thank ye kindly for that, sir, I’m sure.

I’d not abuse your patronage with slurs

Upon the authenticity of such

As you’d be likely or disposed to purchase

From these, my humble hands.

 

W.H.

G-G-G-GET T-T-O THE P-P-POINT!!!

 

                                                            SAM and JORDIE stare at W.H., chagrined

                                                            at getting so worked up. SAM sighs.

 

SAM:

Even my half-wit son is bored with you.

 

                                                            JORDIE draws out an impressive sheaf of

                                                            manuscript pages, tied with string.

 

JORDIE:

A manuscript, this scrap purports to be.

I’m wagering that it’s no forgery.

 

                                                            SAM gazes at the paper with rapt interest.

 

I picked it up in a bookstall near Saint Paul’s.

The paper, anyway, is older, you can tell.

The ink is brown, the hand’s an antique script.

 

SAM:

The trade in antiquities and documents

Outstrips the Tulip Bubble of a hundred years ago.

(scoffs) What am I telling you two for?

You’ve no idea what I’m talking about.

 

W.H.

Yes sir. The T-t-t-tulip B-b-b-b-b-b-b-bubble.

Inflated the price of b-b-bulbs in Amsterdam

In the late 1600s—

 

SAM:

–Yes, yes, yes! I am

Acquainted with it. God, how you waste my time!

I’ll give you two quid for it, Jordan.

 

JORDIE:

Aw, give old Jordie three.

 

SAM:

Two and another pot of ale, and I’ll buy your ale pot.

 

                                                            JORDIE hesitates only a moment before

                                                            handing his ale pot to W.H., who steps in

                                                            on cue to take it and clapping him on

                                                            the back to cue his last line as both smile.

 

JORDIE:

Sold! And if you like that, there’s more of that lot.

 

                                                            BLACKOUT. A bit of Handel, then LIGHTS UP

                                                            on SAM seated, perusing a pile of documents.

 

SAM:

I tell you, Sam, these Shakespeare manuscripts

Are the best blessing that’s e’err shower’d upon our house.

Can you believe the Good Lord’s bounty?

 

W.H.

B-b-b-bless me! G-g-g-good Lord, n-n-n-o!

 

SAM:

First just a few receipts and oddiments,

A mortgage deed with Heminges name on it,

Then a letter from Southampton! List!

 

                                                            SAM reads from a manuscript, pronouncing

                                                            the orthographics in what he takes to be

                                                            antique pronunciation. He’s also squinting

                                                            to read through bad glasses.

 

Doe notte esteeme me a sluggarde nor tardye for thus havyinge delayed

to answerre or rather toe thank you for youre greate Bountye…

[G]ratitude is alle I have toe utter and that is tooe greate ande tooe

sublyme a feeling for poore mortalls toe expresse

 

                                                            SAM struggles reading. W.H. takes the paper

                                                            from SAM, which SAM scoffs at but allows,

                                                            as his eyes are failing him.

 

W.H.

Here, F-f-f-father, let m-m-me.

 

                                                            W.H. reads, his stutter disappearing, with

                                                            a period feel and fluency that escaped

                                                            his father’s reading.

 

O my Lord itte is a Budde which Bllossommes Bllooms butte never dyes.

…as I have beene thye Freynde soe will I continue aughte thatte I canne

doe forre thee praye commande me ande you shalle fynde mee… Yours…

 

                                                            SAM continues through his treasures, with

                                                            W.H. helpfully handing each to him in turn.

 

SAM:

The profession of his Protestant faith!

 

W.H.

P-p-p-poo to those who claim our Shakespeare P-p-p-papist.

 

SAM:

A letter from Queen Elizabeth herself!

 

W.H.

You always say “A good man will find favor.”

 

SAM:

A wry self-portrait.

 

W.H.

“Wymsycalle conceyte.”

 

SAM:

A verse addressed unto his future wife, //Anne Hathaway.//

 

W.H.

//“Ann Hatherrewaye,”// yes. Complete with a lock of her hair.

 

SAM:

Books from the bard’s own library.

 

W.H.

With his marginal notes.

 

SAM:

A sheaf of “Hamblette” down in manuscript.

 

W.H.

//The text of Lear.//

 

SAM:

//The text of Lear.//

 

W.H.

Yes, sir.

 

                                                            A pause. SAM searches before him for

                                                            the documents as W.H. provides them.

 

SAM:

And then the unknown works I’d always suspected. Henry Two, Rowena

and Vortigern.

 

W.H.

Is that your favorite? Vortigern?

 

                                                            SAM sighs deeply, quite contented.

 

SAM:

They’re all my favorite, William.

 

W.H.

Sir? You called me “William.”

 

SAM:

Did I?

 

W.H.

Yes sir.

 

SAM:

The other Samuel died on me.

 

W.H.

Well… yes, sir.

 

SAM:

I don’t have a favorite, Samuel.

 

                                                            A spell is broken. W.H. tries to hold onto it.

 

W.H.

William.

 

SAM:

But I’m happy.

 

                                                            SAM smiles. So W.H. smiles, wanly. Music of

                                                            Handel. BLACKOUT.

 

                                                            LIGHTS UP on SAMUEL, completely blind, sickly,

                                                            reedy voiced, coughing, clutching a cane and some

                                                            documents rolled in his withered fists, attended by

                                                            W.H. as the two confront poor JORDIE, called to

                                                            account for passing on the forged documents.

 

SAM:

I don’t understand it. The Duke of Leicester’s signature and seal are found upon

the document, and yet the damned thing’s dated 1590.

 

JORDIE:

That’s right, sir.

 

SAM:

He died in 1588!

 

JORDIE:

Could be the Duke post-dated it?

 

                                                            SAM, in a blind rage, swats at JORDIE with the

                                                            documents, but catches W.H. in the face, then

                                                            tosses it aside and blindly searches for another

                                                            document on the table, which W.H. swiftly puts

                                                            under his father’s grasping hand.

 

SAM:

References to the Globe Theatre

 

JORDIE:

That’s Shakespeare’s theatre, innit!

 

SAM:

Before it was built! This Heminges signature looks nothing like authenticated Heminges autographs. Or so I’m told.

 

W.H.

A m-matter of op-p-pinion, surely.

 

SAM:

Shut up, son. Boswell himself had passed on this. The poet laureate.

The College of Heralds. The Duke of Clarence.

 

W.H.

Well, then.

 

SAM:

But they’re not right! Not right! Wrong hand and orthography, wrong history

– BAD SPELLING!!!

 

JORDIE:

That don’t count.

 

                                                            SAM rises in a rage, blind as he is, to whip

                                                            JORDIE with the paper, driving him from the room.

 

SAM:

And now I find myself mocked? Me! A scholar!

Mocked from the pages of volumes by Malone!

Mocked from stage by Kemble at Drury Lane!

My discoveries called forgeries, crimes,

The grossest of flimsy impostures!

 

JORDIE:

I got a lead on poxy skeleton, the Duke of Gloucester’s!

Marlowe’s Coronor’s Report, a portrait dated

Armada year that may be Shakespeare’s!

 

SAM:

Get out, get out! It’s killing me, you fool!

 

                                                            JORDIE bows and hastens away, followed by                                                                     

                                                           W.H., who sees him out. SAM collapses, weeping.

                                                            After a moment. W.H. returns and kneels at his

                                                            blind father’s feet.

 

W.H.

F-f-f-father… f-father… It was m-m-me.

 

SAM:

How now?

 

W.H.

Sir, it was m-m-me. The f-forgeries. I wanted so to p-p-please you.

 

                                                            SAM takes this in, nodding, then smiling.

 

SAM:

No. Oh Lord, you are a brave lad for the trying,

And well I love you for that heart would bleed for me.

But well I know, my son, you’ve not the head for this.

No, you’re not nearly clever enough to have freighted

so much mischief. I thank ye, though.

 

W.H.

I, s-s-sir, your son, AM that p-p-person!

 

                                                            SAM feels his son’s face gently, reading his tears.

 

SAM:

No. I won’t believe it. What is it Vortingen says?

 

            Make me forget the place by blood I hold,

            And break the tie twixt father and his child?

 

No. You may be a dull boy. But you are my son. You would not wound me so.

 

 

                                                            The two sit in silence for a moment, the elder man

                                                            striving not to weep, keep his dignity; the younger,

                                                            left with nothing else to comfort him, free to do so.

 

In Ecclestiastic Latin, the word is scandulum :

“that on which one trips, cause of offense”

In Greek, it’s skándalon, “A trap” is more the sense.

“A moral stumbling.” “The thing that causes one to sin.”

 

            Woe to the world for things that cause people to stumble!

            Scandals must come, but woe to those through whom they come!

Matthew 18:7 (or is it Luke 17:1?)

 

“Discredit to one’s reputation” that’s what brings in

the shame. The public disclosure of one’s crime. Or sin.

 

                                                            A pause.

 

I don’t know what I did.

 

                                                            A pause.

 

I did not think myself guilty of the sin of Pride.

But Sam, if only I had heeded your advice,

And not have published.

 

W.H.

Indeed, sir.

 

SAM:

It’s just so hard sometimes, to know where one has stumbled.

 

                                                            W.H. takes this in, nodding, as

                                                            LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.

 

                                                            END OF PLAY.

 

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Valkerie: a one-page play by Tim West

Valkerie   a one-page play by Tim WestSlide3

    K sits slightly up-right of center at a bar, perched on a barstool, with her legs crossed primly and her hands folded over one knee.

Incongruously, she is wearing a horned helmet; long, braidedpigtails of flaxen hue; an ample breast-plate with short chain mail skirt, and leather knee-boots, like opera singer Kirsten Flagstad. Downstage left, a dwarf is at his anvil, holdin  g a large golden ring in his tongs, beating it into shape.

He should be a real dwarf, but we learn to make compromises.

 K: The other night, I’m sitting at the bar and this guy comes up to me -completely unsolicited, you understand– and asks if he can buy me a drink. Slides up to the bar, smiles at me over his gin & tonic or scotch & soda or whatever-it-was, rattles the ice in his empty glass and says “Can I buy you a drink?”

    Suddenly she breaks into Brunnhilde’s song from Die Walkure: the four-note scale, repeated.  Then just as suddenly she resumes her monologue as if nothing had happened. Simultaneously, the dwarf takes several stokes with his hammer clanging against his anvil, then freezes again.

I wrote my master’s thesis in musicology on Richard Wagner. Der Ringen das Nibulungen: Das Rhinegeld, Die Walkure, Siegfried, and the end of the cycle, the Gotterdammerung.Wagner used the cycle to develop his theory of leitmotif in characterization, harmonically related themes with the uncanny power to affect his listeners on a subconscious level. He also used it to promote his ideals of strident nationalism and racial consciousness.

    Again, the four-note scale, the dwarf at his anvil; and again, he freezes as she resumes.

 He was tall, handsome; blond, with bright-blue eyes: good-looking. And very GQ.

    She holds up a finger, “hold that thought,” then takes a long, slow drink, eyes closed. Then she opens her eyes, considers her glass, rattles the ice.

I don’t know why, but I just don’t seem to be attracted to Jewish men…

(she sighs)

…much to my mother’s disdain –uh, “dismay.” 

    Again, the four-note scale, the dwarf at his anvil; and again, he freezes as she resumes.

Anti-Semitic? Of course. Wore gloves when he conducted Mendelssohn. He’d finish a concert, lay down his baton, peel the gloves from his fingers and throw them to the floor as if they were soiled.

    She arches her eyebrows, then considers her glass, rattles the ice. Without looking up.

But he counted many Jews among his friends and admirers. Levi, the conductor at Bayreuth, was a the son of a rabbi. Joukowsky and Brandt, his principle designer and technical director, were Jews. It was Mahler, a Jew, who first popularized his works in Vienna. (she shrugs slightly) I find that rather interesting…

    She pauses. Then, directly to the audience: 

Finally, I let him buy me a drink.

    She rattles the ice in her glass, then freezes. 

    Albrecht the dwarf takes the large gold ring from his forge with a pair of tongs, crosses up, offers the ring to her. She does not move as we FADE TO BLACK.

 

   END OF PLAY

Five Pinkies: a one-page play by Tim West

Slide4

FIVE PINKIES   a one-page play by Tim West

   LIGHTS UP. SHE sits next to a cardboard box, holding a washcloth and an eyedropper. 

   HE enters carrying a brown grocery bag. His pinky finger has a conspicuous bandage on it.

SHE: There you are! I thought you just walked out to the trash-cans. What took you so long?

HE: I went for a walk. Up to the 7-11. To get baby formula. And the other stuff that web-site said.

SHE: Oh. That was… That was nice of you. Did you, um… Did you dispose of the mother?

HE: I didn’t know what else to do with it. Her. So I just set her in the trash-can, rat-trap and all.

I didn’t know how to… you know, undo it. Anyway, I don’t suppose we’ll ever be using that again.

SHE: I’m not blaming you, you know. There’s no way you could have known that she had babies.

HE: (removes items from grocery bag) I know. And I can see, that’s probably why she bit me. She was a mother protecting her nest. Protecting her… her young. How many of them have you fed since I left?

SHE: Two. This is the second. He’s okay now, but he wouldn’t take the milk at first. He squirmed. I think this is the one I call Squirmy.

HE: I thought Squirmy was the runty one.

SHE: The runty one, I call Runty.

HE: Well… They’re all pretty runty, Hon.

SHE: Two of them are even runtier than the others. Squirmy is lively, but he doesn’t take the milk. Runty doesn’t move much, but he puts his paw on the dropper. To balance it so he can take the milk. He was really hungry, too. He took almost a whole eye-dropper full of milk. What’s Climber doing?

HE: (looking in box) Climbing. He almost got out again. Maybe I should wrap them in another towel.

SHE: We need to keep them warm, the website said. That’s what their mother does, in the nest. And three haven’t eaten since you went out. The web-site said pinkies nurse in series, almost constantly. If they don’t, they’ll die. Even if they do, without their mother they may die, but… At least we can try.

HE: Pinkies?

SHE: (nodding) Pinkies. It’s what you call baby rats. Before their eyes open, when they’re the size of…

HE: Size of your pinky. And they are pink. Makes sense. Okay, let’s see what we can do for her pinkies.

(taking a washcloth from the box) Wow, they are tiny. Okay! Here we go, little dude. Come on… that’s it.

  She watches as HE takes an eyedropper full of milk and joins her in nursing the babies in the washcloths.

SHE: Do you think they’ll live? The web site said the odds are against it when they’re orphaned. Maybe this is just stupid. I mean, you set the trap because you got bit by a rat. Does it really make sense for us to…

HE: Snap their mother’s back in a trap, then bend over backwards trying to save her babies from starving?

SHE: I never wanted to set a trap.

HE: Well, you didn’t get bit by a rat.

SHE: Would it make more sense to let them starve to death now? Or flush them down the toilet? Or what?

   HE doesn’t reply, but applies himself to the task of feeding the one he’s been holding. After a pause…

HE: Am I doing this right?

SHE: You’re doing fine.

   SHE looks at him and smiles. HE remains engrossed in the nursing. After a moment, HE smiles, too.

HE: It’s kinda neat how you can see the milk in their tummies right through their little pink skin. I got it now. You have to kind of figure out the best way to go at it. This one likes to lick it off my finger.

SHE: I think this one has had enough, finally. Okay, milk-belly. Back to the nest you go. And… Next!

   SHE exchanges the washcloth she’s been holding for another from the box. HE clears his throat.

HE: Uh, this one… This one has stopped taking the milk, at all. And he’s not moving very much. Is he…?

SHE: (looking in his washcloth) Maybe he’s just had enough milk already, and he’s fallen asleep.

HE: Hey, Little Dude, wake up! Okay! There we go! He’s taking the milk again. No, come on now! You were doing so good. He’s… he’s twitching. His color’s changing. He was warm and pink, now he’s… He’s… he’s dead, isn’t he? (gently folds the washcloth and sets it aside) What did I do wrong?

SHE: Nothing. You… We did the best we could. And we might still be able to save the other four.

HE: Let’s see how they’re doing. (looks in box) Hon, they’re not moving. They’re not moving at all.

SHE: This one’s still alive. And he’s taking the milk. Here. I’ll get Climber. Maybe we can save these two.

   HE takes her washcloth, SHE takes one from the box. They are intense but silent for a moment, working.

HE: I’m trying, but it’s… it’s not working. He’s not taking any milk at all. He’s just… laying there.

SHE:  Climber too. He’s… he’s turned blue. It’s no use. Oh god. They’re… they’re not going to make it.

   First SHE, then HE set aside their eyedroppers and washcloths. HE appears to be fighting back tears.

HE: We never even named this one.

SHE takes his hand in hers, raises it to her face, kisses his bandaged finger as LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.

END OF PLAY

Blackout at Battery Cliff: a one-act play by Tim West

batterycliff

SCENE 1 – IN THE BLACK, we hear Glenn Miller’s slow and sleepy “At Last,” overlaid by snippets of period radio: news announcer, folksy ad, ballgame, farm bulletin –the more bucolic, the better. 

Suddenly, this is replaced by air-raid sirens, bombs exploding, and FDR’s declaration that the U.S. is at war with Japan.

The music continues underneath, but fades with the siren, bombs and declaration as the room shakes with the sound of airplanes taking off.

LIGHTS UP first from a naked bulb onstage, suspended from the ceiling, then on the bunker. A folding desk and chair with a radio unit stand beside a folding cot. An entryway from above (steps or  ladder) is identified by  the sign, “Watch Your Step,” and there is a narrow slit running across a wall. A key light penetrates the space from these, its effects indicated in  the text.

TOM McCAIN sits at the desk, operating the radio, adjusting the tuning.   He is a youngish man, with wire-frame glasses and perhaps a hint of a moustache, dressed in the khaki cotton shirt and high-waisted olive-drab worsted-wool knickers of pre-war U.S. Army issue.

He glances up as the last plane flies over –perhaps we see its shadow in the doorway. We hear some radio static, and a voice on the other end of    a two way system.

                                                        TOM:

Hello? Hello? Are you still there?

                                                        VO1:  

Roger, Battery Cliff. That’s a negative to your question, though. Checked with Loma and Rosecrans. They show no report to the infirmary. McCain, you still there?

                                                        TOM:

Roger. McCain here, still standing by. So, Lonergan never made it to the infirmary? Over.

                                                        VO1:

Confirming, no sign of Private Lonergan. You say he left for the infirmary half an hour ago?

                                                        TOM: (looking at watch)

Lonergan and Tucker. More than an hour ago, now. There’s no sign of either of them? Over.

                                                        VO1:

What, there were two of them? Tucker’s injured, too?

                                                        TOM:

No, Tucker took Lonergan to the infirmary with a snakebite, so they should be there by now. But listen, I’m calling about a replacement. I’m here all alone, and this is a three man crew.

                                                        VO1:

Lemme check with Battery Loma.  Hold on, Battery Cliff.

                                                        TOM:

Roger. Standing by. Again.

Under radio static, something makes a small noise near bunker entrance. TOM stands to a new voice on the radio.

                                                         VO2:

Battery Cliff, this is Captain Kessler at the Com. Regarding your replacement, a three-man crew is already scheduled to replace you at 0:8oo. Over.

                                                          TOM:

But sir… As you say, they were already scheduled. That’s when Tucker and Lonergan and I were to stand down.

                                                          VO2:

Well, then you’re all settled, soldier.

                                                          TOM:

Beg pardon, Captain, but we’re not.

                                                          VO2:

Excuse me, soldier. Did I read you right?

There is a noise at the entrance, as a shadow plays on the wall.

Sir, I— Wait, here they are. Someone’s coming up the path.  That must be replacement crew.

                                                          VO2:

There you are, then. Over and out.

                                                          TOM:

Er, Roger. Over. Whatever.

Radio out. The shadow in the doorway grows, and a pair of legs appear,   in period stockings, followed by a skirt and the figure of THERESA BARONE, a girl in her mid-20s, in 1940s splendor. She is carrying a presentational tray of baked goods.

                                                          THERESA:

“Watch your step.” Oh Jeez, and me in heels. All I can say is, you better watch your step, Larry Lonergan, after I bake you cookies and come all this way to bring them to you for your birthday, I don’t want any monkey business from you or Tucker. You hear me, Larry? 

THERESA stops short at the sight of TOM.

You’re not Larry.

                                                         TOM:

No, I’m Tom. Who the hell are you?

                                                         THERESA:

Watch your language, Tom. Lady present. Theresa Barone. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m here to see Private Lonergan.

                                                          TOM:

Lonergan isn’t here, he got—  How did you get on base, anyway, Miss… Barone, is it? This is a secure facility.

                                                          THERESA:

I manage the PX, Poindexter. What do you think? Probably sold you your private’s stripes.

Where’s Larry?

                                                           TOM:

Corporal.  I sent PFCs Lonergan and Tucker to the infirmary.

                                                           THERESA:

Tucker, eh?  Is he trying to pull that stuff with the Army now? What do they call it? faking sick to get out of work?

                                                            TOM:

Excuse me, is it… Terry?

                                                            THERESA:

Theresa, if you please.

                                                             TOM:

Theresa. Well, Theresa, we’re under something of an emergency situation and I’m afraid

I’ll have to ask you to leave. Go back to the PX, where-ever.

                                                             THERESA:

It’s sundown. The PX is closed now.

                                                             TOM:

Wherever. Just not here, OK? Right. There are rules. Security. Besides, if you’re caught here, it won’t look good for Lonergan.

                                                             THERESA:

For you, you mean. You don’t have to get pushy, Corporal. Tell Larry that I used the last of my sugar, and he just missed his favorite cookie.

TERRY takes a bite of cookie, spins to make a dramatic exit; but before she clears the doorway, the wail of an air raid siren.

                                                             TOM:

Wait! What’s that?

                                                             THERESA:

Don’t ask me! It’s your bunker.

TOM pulls THERESA from the door, rushes to work the radio.

                                                             TOM:

This is Battery Cliff calling Battery Loma! Come in, Loma! Battery Cliff, calling! You there, Loma?

                                                              VO2:

Kessler, here. Get off the line, Battery Cliff! Can’t you hear the air raid siren?

                                                             TOM:

Roger, Battery Loma, but be advised, Battery Cliff is unmanned.

                                                             V.O.    

Battery Cliff, we’re under lockdown. There is movement on the range.    You hear the siren! Maintain radio silence, man your station until further notice. That’s an order. Over and out.

Radio out as siren fades. TOM puts out the overhead bulb, leaving the beam from the window the room’s only key light in the silence, TOM moves to the window apprehensively, and peeks out.

                                                            THERESA:

What’s going on?

                                                            TOM:

Just be quiet for one second, will you?

                                                            THERESA:

No, this is nuts. I’m getting out of here.

TERRY makes for the doorway, but TOM blocks her.

                                                            TOM:

You can’t go out there. There’s movement on the range.

                                                            THERESA:

What does that mean?

                                                            TOM:

You heard the alert. There’s someone unauthorized, or more than one, moving around out there. So they will shoot anything that moves on      that range.

                                                            THERESA:

Who will?

                                                            TOM:

The other batteries. This whole peninsula is peppered with gun emplace- ments, little crews like this one. They’ll open up on anything that moves. You have to stay here now. Stay here and keep your voice down.

                                                            THERESA:

I have to leave, I have to stay. Speak up, pipe down. Make up your mind, Corporal.

                                                            TOM:

Look, I’m just telling you how dangerous this is. They’ll shoot you.

                                                            THERESA:

Why would they shoot me?

                                                            TOM:

They think there’s Japanese infiltrators moving in the dark.

TOM crosses to the window, peers into the darkness intently.

THERESA struggles to suppress a laugh.

                                                            THERESA:

Japanese infiltrators?

                                                            TOM:

Who knows? We’re at war! The whole West Coast is vulnerable to another sneak attack.

Don’t you read the papers? They found dynamite stashed near a dam up in Washington.

                                                            TOM: (cont.)

And they found guns buried in the desert just east of here…

                                                            THERESA:

I saw that. Dynamite near a construction site. What a surprise. And how  do they know who buried them?

                                                            TOM:

Who do you think? They say Jap fisherman are scouting out the coast.    And Japs in San Francisco have been seen photographing the harbor.

                                                            THERESA:

Japanese people with cameras? Imagine that.

                                                            TOM:

There’s rumors of Jap airbases in Baja California.

                                                            THERESA:

Oh, c’mon!

                                                            TOM:                           

And they’ve spotted dozens of Jap subs prowling all up and down the coast of California!

                                                            THERESA:

“They.” Who is this they?      

                                                            TOM:

You think people make this stuff up?  There was an attack just a few days ago. An oil-field was shelled. Then the next night, the whole of Los Angeles.

                                                            THERESA:

Yeah, everybody got jittery because of the oil-rig. One. Near Santa Barbara. Larry said it was just the Jap captain, getting revenge on account of they’re gonna put all his people here into camps.

                                                            TOM:

Lonergan talks too much. You think the government is actually gonna start rounding-up people and sticking ‘em in camps?

                                                            THERESA:

The President signed orders last week. The FBI rounded up dozens of Nisei just yesterday.

                                                            TOM:

Nisei?

                                                            THERESA:

Born in this country. Lived here for years. A lot of them where I live. National City has a bunch of families. Hard-working farmers, mostly.    They produce half the vegetables in the county!

And the ones that aren’t farmers work in the canneries. Did you know   they made it so that only native-born citizens could work in the canneries?

                                                            TOM:

You don’t see the logic of that?

                                                            THERESA:

Guigliermo Barone, born Palermo, Sicily; 1892. Been in this country since he was seven. Served in the war, wounded in action. Settled down, had kids. Had me. He works in a canning factory. Worked there, now.

                                                            TOM:

Sometimes the wrong people get hurt.

                                                            THERESA:

Yeah, when you’re ready to shoot anything that moves! And who are the right people? That could be me out there, if that siren came a minute earlier. Or Lonergan and Tucker.

                                                            TOM:

Yeah, unauthorized PX girl. Or two clowns pulling a ruse on a bunkmate.

                                                            THERESA:

Ruse?

                                                            TOM:

Ruse. Trick. Practical joke.

                                                            THERESA:

I don’t know what you’re talking about …Tom, is it? I don’t put nothing past those two, when they put their heads together, but I ain’t part of any ruse.

                                                            TOM:

Okay, okay, alright. There isn’t any ruse. It’s just: I didn’t actually see the snakebite.

This catches THERESA short.                                         

                                                            THERESA:

Snakebite?

                                                            TOM:

At least that’s what they told me. They showed me the snake, but I never actually saw the marks on Lonergan’s arm.

                                                            THERESA:

Larry got bit by a snake? Jesus!

                                                            TOM:

He’ll be okay. I sent him to the infirmary.

                                                            THERESA:

With a snakebite.

                                                            TOM:

He’ll be fine.

                                                            THERESA:

He got bit by a snake!

                                                            TOM:

You can’t go out there!

THERESA makes for the doorway, but TOM stops her. There’s a bit of a struggle, which TOM finally wins but it takes some effort and is not heroic. It leaves THERESA flat on her butt on the floor and them both breathless.

After a moment…

                                                             TERRY:

And to think I was going to offer you a cookie. Not all the thugs are in Germany, I see.

                                                            TOM:

Look, I’m not a thug, I’m just—  Okay. Okay. They’ll shoot you to pieces, but… You go if you want to.

TOM steps aside, but THERESA doesn’t move from the floor. TOM offers THERESA his hand, but she waves him off and picks herself up off the floor.

                                                             THERESA:

Is he gonna be okay?

                                                             TOM:

Who, Lonergan? I don’t know. He hasn’t shown at the infirmary.

                                                             THERESA:

What?

                                                             TOM:

Lonergan and Tucker, not at the infirmary yet. At least, last I checked.

                                                             THERESA:

Well, where are they, then?

She crosses toward the window as she realizes.

Oh my gosh! You think they’re still out there?

                                                            TOM:

They might be. I don’t know. The whole thing may have been a practical joke. You know those two. And I never actually saw the snakebite. Lonergan’s hand was bandaged.

                                                            THERESA:

But why would they fake a snake attack? I mean, when they could fake   any other injury?

                                                            TOM:

‘Cause they know I’m afraid of snakes. They turn up in all the bunkers. Snakes. Snakes, or rats. Tucker likes to joke that the snakes keep the rat population down. He says they can smell fear.

                                                            THERESA:

That Tucker is a piece of work. But he wouldn’t go so far as to fake a thing like a snake bite.

                                                            TOM:

Maybe.  I did see the snake, before it slithered behind the bed.

TERRY wheels on the room, rigid and alert.

                                                                THERESA:

You mean the snake’s still here?

                                                                TOM:

Probably, somewhere. Pacific rattler, eight rattles.

                                                              THERESA:

You don’t sound like a guy who’s afraid of snakes.

                                                              TOM:

Then I hide it well. Terrified. But I grew up with ‘em all around me. On our ranch.

                                                             THERESA:

Oooh… Your ranch! Lucky you.

                                                             TOM:

In the desert, they’re all around you. When you ride the range long enough, you’re bound to come across one.

TERRY is not so good at disguising her amusement.

                                                             THERESA:

Sorry, it’s just… “Shucks, when you ride the range.” You don’t look like much of a cowboy.

TOM, surprisingly, gives a little self-deprecating laugh.

                                                            TOM:

Yeah, that’s what my father always says. Maybe if I lose the glasses. Grow  a moustache.

                                                            THERESA:

He says that to you? To your face?

                                                            TOM:

Yeah.

                                                            THERESA:

That must’ve been fun growing up.

                                                            TOM:

It’s good for you, in a way. You grow a… protection.

TOM peers out the window, a thin stream of light beaming in from outside. TERRY paces, eyeing the room suspiciously.

                                                            THERESA:

So, you think that snake’s still around?

                                                            TOM: (perring into the dark)

It’s a real possibility.

THERESA stops suddenly, looks under the table: No snake.

                                                            THERESA:

We should make a lot of noise. Snakes hate noise. It hurts their little ears.

                                                            TOM:

Snakes don’t have ears. They sense motion with their tongues or something.

                                                            THERESA:

It’ll hurt their little tongues, then. TSSSST! ARGH! YOU HEAR THAT, SNAKE?

                                                            TOM:

Hey, keep it down!

                                                            THERESA:

Oh, right: The infiltrators will hear us.

                                                            TOM:

It’s no joke. We’re at war.

TOM peers out the window to see if there’s any movement.

THERESA sketches the simple “Kilroy” figure in some dust.

                                                             THERESA:

“Killjoy was here.”

She crosses to the window.

What are you staring at? Wow. I’ve never seen the city all blacked out like that. I never been up here after dark. What’s that dark patch north of the graveyard?

                                                            TOM:

That’s the aircraft plant. Gigantic tarp over it. Camouflage from enemy aircraft.

                                                            THERESA:

You think that’ll fool anyone?

                                                            TOM:

No. Let’s move away from the window, huh?

                                                            THERESA:

And do you really think there are foreign-born people here waiting to rise up against the United States, where they’ve lived and worked for years?

                                                            TOM:

The Chamber of Commerce thinks so. The American Legion. The California legislature. Even President Roosevelt.

                                                            THERESA:

That’s a disappointment.

                                                            TOM:

You a big Roosevelt booster?

                                                            THERESA:

Over Alf Landon or Wendell Wilkie? You bet! But, that a man like the President lets fear get the best of him…

                                                            TOM:

The man who said (FDR impression:) “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”?

                                                            THERESA:

Don’t mock the President.

                                                            TOM:

He left us sitting ducks on December 7th. Some people even say he let it happen. I heard a rumor that Jap pineapple pickers left bare patches in   the pineapple fields in patterns that directed Jap pilots to Pearl.

                                                            THERESA:

What, like a giant arrow?

                                                            TOM:

Yeah, or… You know. Some Japanese symbol.

                                                             THERESA: (Jap on tarmac)

“Airfield this way”?

                                                            TOM:

Something like that. Why not?

                                                            THERESA:

So if they come, what are you supposed to do about it?

                                                            TOM:

Hit ‘em with the fifties. Fifty caliber machine guns.

                                                            THERESA:

Larry says those guns don’t have the range to hit a plane before it takes out the battery. He says none of the batteries do. A ship could sit outside the range of the guns and bomb the heck out of the city, not a thing we could do about it.

                                                            TOM:

Then we’d fall back and regroup.

                                                            THERESA:

Fall back where? The Rocky Mountains? Larry says they could take the whole West Coast.

                                                            TOM:

Larry’s got a loose lip.

                                                            THERESA:

He says everybody knows it. These guns are older than you and me put together. And never even used.

                                                            TOM:

“Never fired in anger.”

                                                            THERESA:

That’s not what I heard.

                                                            TOM:

What did Lonergan tell you?

                                                            THERESA:

How Tucker got antsy one time and opened up on what he thought was     a submarine. Turned out to be a humpback whale. What?

                                                            TOM:

Nothing. Well, two things: One is that a dead whale washed up on the Strand a few days later.

                                                            THERESA:

And two: Tucker knew it was a whale all along. Larry didn’t suspect Tucker was capable of that.

                                                            TOM:

The problem with guys like Tucker is, nobody knows what they’re capable of. Hey, move away from the window. You don’t want to present a silhouette.

                                                            THERESA:

Is something wrong with my silhouette?

                                                            TOM:

You don’t want to make yourself a target.

                                                            THERESA

Not by a long shot. How long do we gotta stay here?

THERESA moves back, paces the room, bored and restless.

                                                            TOM:

Until they sound the all-clear. Then you can leave.

                                                            THERESA:

But you’re going to stay?

                                                             TOM:

Until they send a replacement crew.

                                                            THERESA:

Why?

                                                            TOM:

It’s my duty.

                                                            THERESA:

Tucker thinks you’re bucking for sergeant.

                                                            TOM:

Naw. They’d just assign me more Tuckers to keep an eye on. I’m hoping they’ll put me on the big guns. That’s what I trained for.

                                                            THERESA:

Yeah, Larry says you’re some kind of whiz kid with numbers.

                                                           TOM:

Lonergan said that?

                                                           THERESA:

Don’t get all gooey about it. He said you’re smart, but afraid to show it. Afraid to pipe-up when you know something’s wrong. Afraid to say “Boo” to that Captain Kessler.

                                                            TOM:

I’m not afraid of Captain Kessler.

                                                            THERESA:

Everyone’s afraid of something.

                                                            TOM:

Like Lonergan’s afraid of Tucker. Think he could talk Lonergan into faking  a snake bite?

                                                            THERESA:

That Tucker’s a bad influence. But we don’t always get to chose what influences us, you know? Good men are at a premium right now. So many of them called up.

                                                            TOM:

“Theresa.”

                                                            THERESA:

Yep.

                                                            TOM:

Lonergan calls you “Terry.”   

                                                            THERESA:

Really? I prefer Theresa. So what’s Larry say about me?

                                                            TOM:

That you’re a whiz with numbers. Don’t go all gooey on me. What do you think a guy like Lonergan tells a guy like Tucker? Lies, I’m sure. You’re a local girl, right? South Bay, you said?

                                                            THERESA:

National City.

                                                            TOM:

How’d you end up managing the PX on Point Loma?

                                                            THERESA:

After Pearl Harbor, I wanted to do my part. The PX was hiring. As a matter of fact, I am a whiz with numbers. They made me chief cashier, then supervisor. What about you? I mean, where you from? This ranch of yours?

                                                            TOM:

My father’s. Here, actually. East County. There’s a valley named for my family there.

                                                            THERESA:

Sounds grand.  Big spread?

                                                            TOM:

Big, but not rich.  Mile after mile of rocky slope and dry brush. There’s not enough water. We lose a lot of cattle.

                                                            THERESA:

And there’s the snakes.

                                                            TOM:

You think snakes are funny?

                                                            THERESA: (snake voice)

Ssss-s-s-silly to be sss-s-scared of them, is-s-sssn’t it?

                                                            TOM:

“Silly.” When I was nine, my sister and I were playing in what we call       The Old Homestead, the cabin my grandfather built, back in the 1870s.  We weren’t supposed to play in it, but… We didn’t know why not. Because the wood was rotting, and the floorboards collapsed.

                                                            THERESA:

And there were snakes.

                                                            TOM:

Rattlers. Lots of them. I fell into the space under the floorboards.

                                                            THERESA:

Did you get bit?

                                                            TOM:

No. I stayed very still, while my sister ran for help. My father came, and pulled me out. Never said a word about it. Never treated me the same afterward.

                                                            THERESA:

What did he expect you to do?

                                                            TOM:

My father respects strength. He doesn’t like weakness. He expected me not to be afraid.

                                                            THERESA:

You were just a kid.

In a silence, TOM hears a scratching sound from the doorway, just as THERESA speaks.

                                                           THERESA:

Your old man sounds like—

                                                            TOM:

Shhhhhh…

                                                            THERESA:

—no, I wasn’t going to say anything bad! He sounds—

                                                            TOM:

Shh!

                                                            THERESA:

What?

                                                            TOM: (trying not to move)

Something. Moved.  In. The.  Doorway.

                                                            THERESA: (matching him, mocking him)

In. Fill. Tray. Tore?

                                                            TOM:

Quiet.

We hear a noise again, more clearly now.

                                                           THERESA: (still quietly, but reasonably)

Oh, come on. It’s probably just Larry and Tucker got lost on their way to the infirmary.

                                                           TOM: (still whispering)

You don’t think Lonergan would make more noise, with all that venom     in him?

                                                            THERESA: (a little louder, now)

Maybe it was some kind of… What did you call it? A prank. Is that you, Larry?

                                                            TOM:

Shhhh…

TERRY crosses to the doorway before TOM can stop her.

                                                            THERESA:

Tucker, is that you, you rat?

                                                            TOM:

Theresa—

TERRY hesitates in the doorway, her shadow on the wall.

THERESA:

Huh. Maybe it is a rat.

                                                            TOM:

Terry!

                                                            THERESA:

Or else it’s—

We hear a rattle, and TERRY’s scream. BLACKOUT.

SCENE 2 – LIGHTS UP on the same set, with THERESA now returning to consciousness propped up on the cot, one leg draped across one side of it, showing signs of a snakebite. TOM is operating the radio.

                                                            TOM:

This is Battery Cliff, calling Battery Loma. Come in, Loma. Battery Cliff, calling Battery Loma.

                                                             (to THERESA)

I can’t raise them. They’ve gone radio silent.

                                                            THERESA:

What does that mean?

                                                            TOM:

It means—

TOM is interrupted by a series of gunshots, far off but unmistakeable.     He rushes to the window and peers out.

                                                            THERESA:

Was that…?

                                                            TOM:

Yes.

                                                             TOM rushes again the radio.

                                                            TOM:

Battery Cliff, calling Battery Loma. Come in, Loma. This is an emergency. Loma, can you hear?

                                                            VO2:

This is Kessler. Get off the airwaves, Battery Cliff. You’ve been warned once. Sign off and maintain radio silence.

                                                            TOM:

Begging your pardon, Captain. Something has come up. I’ve got a woman here with me, with a pretty serious snake bite.

                                                            VO2:

Not again with the snakebite. Did you say a woman with you? With you, there in the bunker?

                                                            TOM:

Roger that, Captain. A PX employee who—

                                                            VO2:

Battery Cliff, my patience for this is at an end. I’ve already sent Lonergan and Tucker to the stockade for this snakebite stunt.

                                                            TOM:

Lonergan and Tucker?

                                                            VO2:

Are both under arrest. They were the movement on the range. I was just about to call stand down when someone got jittery. Didn’t you hear the shots? Now, it’ll be another— You any part of this, McCain?

                                                           TOM:

No sir. Negative.

                                                           VO2:

Infirmary found no sign of snakebite on either Tucker or Lonergan. Some kind of… of thing those two concocted.

                                                            TOM:

Sir, be that as it may, we’ve got a real crisis here. A serious medical emergency.

                                                            VO2:

We’re standing by to give the all clear. Then you report to me. Until then, McCain, you are to remain at your post and maintain radio silence on pain of court-martial. Is that understood. Private?

                                                            TOM:

Roger, sir.  …er, Corporal.

                                                            VO2:

Get off the air! Stay put until the all clear! You’ll be fired-on if you don’t! Am I clear?

                                                            TOM:

Yes,  sir.

                                                             VO2:

Over and out.

Static until TOM switches off the radio. He turns to THERESA.

                                                            TOM:

Well, it looks like we’ll have to stay put just a little while longer. Until they sound the all clear.

                                                            THERESA:

Cause they’ll shoot us if we don’t.

                                                            TOM:

Let’s see what we can do for you until then. You and me, kid.

                                                            THERESA:

I’m not a kid, but okay, McCain. What do you got?

TOM retrieves a small book from the table, brings it to the cot.

“First Aid for Military Personnel.” But I’m not military.

                                                        TOM: (paging through it)

Quiet. “Shingles…. Syphilis… Smallpox…”  Here it is! “Snakebite: Common symptoms include tingling, weakness, anxiety, perspiration, swelling, severe… er, pain, nausea and vomiting…”

                                                         THERESA:

Go on.

                                                            TOM:

No, that’s all there is.

THERESA grabs the first aid manual from him, and reads from it.

                                                           THERESA:

“…localized hemorrhaging, circulatory trauma and eventually heart failure.”

                                                            TOM:

“Remain calm.”  Look, it’s important. They underlined that one.

                                                            THERESA:

Stop trying to make me laugh.

                                                            TOM:

Me? Hey, it’s the manual. “Retreat from the snake by at least fifteen feet.”

                                                            THERESA:

Great. That’s a good start. Is the snake still here?

                                                            TOM:

Yeah, he was just leaving.

                                                            THERESA:

He’s gone?

                                                             TOM:

He’s history.

                                                             THERESA:

How can you be so sure?

                                                             TOM:

I’m sure. I… I killed it.

                                                              THERESA:

You killed the snake? Great. What else does the book say to do?

                                                            TOM: (reading)

“Keeps limbs… below heart level. Keep the victim… calm; put… the victim at rest…”

                                                            THERESA:

–You know It might calm me down and put me at rest if you didn’t call me “the victim.”

                                                            TOM:

“…which will lower… their heart rate… slowing the spread of the venom.”

                                                            THERESA:

What?

TOM shows her the text. THERESA reads:

“Remove restrictive clothing items.” Dream on, you.

                                                            TOM:

It also says here, “Make an incision over the wound, using a knife, as shown.” 

Then I draw out the venom by mouth.

                                                            THERESA:

Bad idea.

                                                            TOM:

I’m not thrilled about it either. Why?

                                                            THERESA:

Taking poison into your mouth?

                                                            TOM:

Venom, technically. Yeah?

                                                            THERESA:

Nature’s way of saying “Don’t come anywhere near this.”

                                                            TOM:

Well, it’s a little late for that. It’s the only thing I know to do that might help you.

                                                            THERESA:

“Transport the victim to a hospital as soon as possible.” Get me to the infirmary, Tom. That will save me. Anything else is just for show, and     you know it.

TOM considers for a moment, turns to the radio.

                                                            TOM:

This is Battery Cliff, calling Battery Loma. Corporal McCain, here. Captain Kessler?

                                                            VO2.

 Kessler, here. McCain, I warned you. I’ll have you court-martialed for this. You are in violation of a direct order.

                                                            TOM:

Sir, I know. But we’ve got a situation. No time to explain. I’m bringing         a civilian casualty from Battery Cliff to the infirmary. She’s the victim of a… of a snakebite.

                                                            VO2:

Lonergan and Tucker have already tried this.

                                                            TOM:

Shut up! Begging you pardon, sir, but I’m not discussing this. If you fire on us you’ll be firing on a friendly and a civilian, and it’ll be your court-martial, not mine.

Static for a long moment.

                                                            VO2:

Hold your fire, men. All batteries, hold your fire. Stand down. Stand down, I say.

                                                            TOM:

Thank you, Captain!

                                                            VO2:

Shut up, McCain. You’re finished, you understand me? Finished. Over and Out.

TOM puts down the radio receiver, turns to THERESA, who smiles at him and faints as LIGHTS FADE OUT.

SCENE 3 – LIGHTS UP on TOM, lying on the cot, staring at the ceiling.  After a moment, he sighs heavily. We hear a noise at the doorway.          We see a shadow there, and hear footsteps as a pair of legs come into view. It is TERRY’s gams, still with the stockings and heels.

                                                            THERESA:

Ten-Hut!

TERRY steps into the room, with a slight but detectable limp.

She is carrying a cardboard box in her hands. TOM sits up.

                                                            TOM:

Theresa!

                                                             THERESA:

Well, stand to, soldier. Lady present.

TOM stands, awkwardly.

                                                            TOM:

Ma’am.

                                                            THERESA:

Miss, if you please.

                                                            TOM:

Really? Rumor has it you and Lonergan got hitched.

                                                            THERESA:

I heard they took your stripes.

                                                            TOM:

“Stripe.” I only had the two.

                                                            THERESA:

I coulda spoke for you.

                                                            TOM:

Naw. Military justice: Summary court-martial. A panel hand-picked by the captain.

                                                            THERESA:

I’m sorry.

                                                            TOM:

There are worse punishments.

                                                            THERESA:

Your father wasn’t happy about it?

                                                            TOM:

He’s really angry. At the U.S. Army.

                                                            THERESA:

Uh-oh. They’re in trouble now.

                                                            TOM:

Yeah, he’s writing letters to the Judge Advocate General, the Army Chief of Staff, the Secretary of War…

                                                            THERESA:

President Roosevelt?

                                                            TOM: (his father’s voice)

“That Man”?

                                                            THERESA:

Mrs. Roosevelt?

                                                            TOM:

He hasn’t got to that yet.

                                                            THERESA:

Any luck with the letters?

                                                            TOM:

I think they made it worse, actually. They transferred me from the Coast Artillery.

                                                            THERESA:

Where to?

                                                            TOM:

The 32nd Infantry. It’s a great unit. Lots of history. The Iron Brigade            in the Civil War.

                                                            THERESA:

Ooh… “Iron Brigade.” Bet your father likes the sound of that.     

                                                            TOM:

Yeah, he does. He does, at that. And it looks like I’ll see combat.         They’re shipping us out.

                                                            THERESA:

What? No?

                                                            TOM:

I’m not alone. A lot of other guys, they’re in the same boat. The same situation. We’re all in this together.

                                                            THERESA:

Where are they sending you?

                                                            TOM:

You know I’m not at liberty to say.

                                                            THERESA:

Yeah. Yeah, I do know that. I hear Tucker’s shipping out.                 (whispering) To the Aleutians.

                                                            TOM:

Couldn’t say.

                                                            THERESA:

And Lonergan’s staying right here. I hear he’s cleaning the latrines. But   you can’t believe everything you hear, you know?

                                                            TOM:

Yeah You gotta be careful about rumors. I heard you almost lost your leg.

                                                            THERESA:

There was some tissue damage. Not much. The doctor says I was lucky.

                                                            TOM:

I’m so sorry.

                                                            THERESA:

Sorry I was lucky?

                                                            TOM:

Of course not. Sorry I didn’t take you to the infirmary straight off.

                                                            THERESA:

You’re the reason I’m still here.

                                                            TOM:

Still alive? You’re exaggerating.

                                                            THERESA:

No, still in San Diego. I’m moving to DC. Got a job with the Navy.    Catching a train out tonight.

                                                            TOM:

You came just to say goodbye?

                                                            THERESA:

I came to give you this.

THERESA takes the box from the cot, presents it to TOM.

                                                            TOM:

Cookies?

                                                            THERESA:

I thought you were worth a whole cake. Cost me all my sugar ration for the month.

TOM opens the box, looks inside, and smiles.

Is that a whale?                                   TOM:

                                                            THERESA:

Supposed to be a snake. It kinda got mushed. Sorry.

                                                            TOM:

No, that’s alright.

TOM dips a finger in the cake, tastes the icing.

Doesn’t taste like snake.

THERESA laughs. They enjoy that for a moment.

                                                            THERESA:

So, if you’re ever in DC…

                                                            TOM:

They’re sending me to the Pacific. I can at least tell you that much.

                                                            THERESA:

No, I mean… When all this is over. If you find yourself in New York.

Look me up. Is all I’m saying.

                                                            TOM:

I’ll do that.

                                                           THERESA:

You come through.

                                                            TOM:

I’ll try.

THERESA takes out a small piece of paper. In the meanwhile, send me         a postcard now and then. Don’t worry, the army will black out any sensitive information.

                                                            TOM:

I’ll try not to say anything sensitive.

                                                            THERESA:

Yeah.

                                                            TOM:

I’m glad we got to know each other.

                                                            THERESA:

Yeah. Me too.

THERESA embraces TOM, who balances the box of cake as best he can, and then drops it to embrace THERESA. It is not a romantic embrace, but one of grief and relief. And they just hold each other like that, not moving.

LIGHTS CROSSFADE to a blue exterior light through the window, as we hear Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” and LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK. END OF PLAY.

The In-the-Middle: a one page play by Tim West

Slide2

The In-The-Middle   a one-page play

  ELLA, in her 70s, is in a wheelchair, silhouetted down-stage next to a park bench. LIGHTS FADE UP as ERNEST, the same age, enters carrying flowers. He looks about. Removing his hat, he approaches ELLA.

ERNEST: Good morning!

ELLA: Good morning to you.

ERNEST: It’s a lovely view.

ELLA: Yes, it’s my favorite.

ERNEST: Mine as well.

ELLA: I like the pond in the afternoon, when the ducks are there. But the garden is nice in the morning.

ERNEST: Is it alright if I join you?

ELLA: Oh yes. Please do.

   ERNEST dusts the park bench with his hat, then sits and places the flowers on the bench beside him.

ELLA: Those are very pretty flowers. Those are… Don’t tell me, I know… Are they… ranunculus?

ERNEST: They are. Very good!

ELLA: I remember them from my mother’s garden when I was a girl. They are a particularly pretty flower.

But she had so many! She had… gladiolas. And… and… pop-eyes? Is that the name? And roses, of course, that aphids always ate. Is that the word, “aphids”? She got so mad at those bugs! Ranunculus, is that right?

ERNEST: Yes, quite so. (beat) Would you like these for your room?

ELLA: Oh, but I think you brought these for someone else, didn’t you?

ERNEST: I brought them for my wife. But they tell me that she is not in a way to receive visitors today.

ELLA: Oh, I am sorry. How sad.

ERNEST: For me, or for her?

ELLA: For both of you.

ERNEST: Well, that depends on your point of view. If memories are what make us happy, then I’m happy.

ELLA: Memories can make you happy or sad, I suppose. It depends. I have problems with my memory.

ERNEST: It happens, sometimes, at our age.

ELLA: A lot, with me.

ERNEST: It happens.

ELLA: I can remember the far-away, when I was a girl. I can remember every flower in my mother’s garden. And I remember the now: What they had here for breakfast, the medicine that they brought me.

I particularly remember those ducks by the pond in the afternoon. I remember what’s happened recently.

But the in-the-middle, not so much. I try to remember it, but mostly, there’s only the far-away and the now.

ERNEST: That must be very difficult for you.

ELLA: It used to be difficult. If I didn’t remember something, didn’t recognize someone, I got very upset, very angry. But now, I try to remember the happy times when I was young, ranunculus in the garden and so forth, and happy times like now, like looking at the ducks in the pond in the afternoon. I try to remember that the times that I’ve forgotten were probably very happy too. And I try to enjoy what I can.

ERNEST: That’s a good way to look at it.

ELLA: I guess, if memories make us happy, that’s a good thing. But if they make us sad, we should just

live for the now, you know? And not worry about the in-the-middle.

ERNEST: You’re a very wise woman.

ELLA: Most days, I don’t even remember my own name!

ERNEST: My name is Ernest. But you needn’t remember it.

  ERNEST pats her hand, rises, dons his hat, and bows.

ERNEST: And now, if you’ll excuse me, I fear I must go. I’m not really supposed to be here. I don’t enjoy visitors privileges today, you see. I don’t want these nurses to create an upset.

ELLA: I understand. Thank you for the flowers.

ERNEST: You are truly most welcome to them.

ELLA: I hope your wife is feeling better the next time you come.

ERNEST: I hope so, too. It has been a great pleasure talking with you, Ella.

ELLA: Yes, I enjoyed talking with you… Ernest.

ERNEST: Good Morning.

ELLA: Good morning to you.

  ERNEST smiles, tips his hat, and exits at once without looking back. ELLA watches him go, then sits looking out at the garden, smiling.

  LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.

Comfy Chair: a 10 min. play

comfy chair blog image

At LIGHTS UP, a large easy chair, upholstered in a worn print that has split here and there, revealing white cotton stuffing. To one side, like an end-table, a grimy metal garbage can with a battered hurricane lamp atop it. To the other side, shelves made of cinderblocks supporting rough-hewn pine planks hold two or three items of flea-market bric-a-brac. Upstage is a rusty shopping cart, with two ten-gallon bottles of water in it. Before the easy chair, a scratched and dingy plastic ice chest with duct-tape repairs on its hinges.

We hear a lock in a door and a door opening off, stage left. DAD enters, dressed for the office in an elegant suit and tie,
and carrying a fine leather briefcase or valise, which he sets on the ice-chest hassock. He treats his surroundings not as the detritus it is, but as the comfortable home it represents.

DAD:
Hon? You home yet?

He tosses his keys on the end-table as he takes his cell-phone from his pocket to check messages, holding the device to his ear. We hear his phone messages in voice-over.

PHONE MESSAGE (V01):
You have [two] messages. [performance date] 3:42pm.

MOM MESSAGE (VO2):
Hi, I guess you turned off your cell for the meeting. Hope it goes well. Or went well, by the time you get this. I’m on my way to pick up Petey. Love you! Bye.

There’s a beep, and a second message sequence.

V01:
[performance date] 4:53pm.

MOM MESSAGE (VO2):
Hi, darling! Hope it went well today. Can’t wait to hear about it. If anyone deserves to make senior deputy in that office, it’s you.

(DAD sighs heavily)

I’ll be a little late. Pete had to stay after soccer. Apparently, there was another “incident.”

(DAD sits in the easy chair)

MOM MESSAGE (VO2): (continued)
No big deal, they said, but the coach wanted to talk to all the boys about it. A dozen parents, backed-up in the parking lot in our S.U.V.’s, waiting. Anyway, we’ll be a little late. I’ll stop at Whole Foods and pick something up for dinner. See you soon.

DAD hangs up, then sets the cell-phone on the end-table, picks up the remote and turns on the TV. A blue glow
comes up on DAD, along with the sound.

TV HOST (VO3):
…to see how long it would take before he caught-on to the prank. Let’s watch as our team—

DAD:
No.

DAD changes the channel.

NEWSCASTER (VO4):
…makes another round of wrenching government lay-offs, this time in Wisconsin and Michigan. Slim majorities in both legislatures—

DAD:
No.

DAD changes the channel.

CARTOON GIRL (VO5a):
…want a pitcher, not a belly-itcher.

DOPEY BARITONE (VO5b):
What’s a belly-itcher?

CARTOON GIRL (VO5a):
Shut up, dumb-ass!

DAD:
No.

DAD changes the channel and, hearing the sound of the door opening and closing, stage left, turns down the volume, but the screen’s blue glow remains.

PETE enters, a boy of about ten, dressed for the soccer game he’s just come from. He tries to make his way to his bedroom, stage right, before his father stops him.

PETE:
Hey, Pops.

DAD:
Hi, Petey. How was practice?

PETE:
Alright.

DAD:
Mom said there was another… thing, at the game.

PETE:
Aw, coach was on our case about someone bullying Duh-duh-duh-Dwayne again.

DAD:
Pete, what did I say about that?

PETE:
Dwayne. Everyone calls him that.

DAD:
We talked about this. Picking on people less fortunate than you. Not cool, in anyone’s book.

PETE:
I didn’t do it.

DAD:
Were you there?

PETE:
What am I supposed to do? Stop two guys twice as big as me from picking on some dweeb who’s too weak to defend himself?

DAD:
My office handles cases like this all the time. Someone thinks they’re just kidding around, and then the next thing you know they’re up on felony charges. People like… like Dwayne need to be protected. That’s why I went into the Law.

PETE:
Yeah, but you don’t have to worry about getting dissed because you’re friends with Dwayne
the Dweeb!

DAD:
Hey. Tone.

PETE:
Sorry.

DAD:
Don’t mumble, son.

PETE:
I said, I’m sorry.

DAD:
Where’s you mother?

PETE:
Talking to Tammy Tabor.

DAD:
Mrs. Tabor, please.

PETE:
Can I watch Cage Fighters?

DAD:
You’ve got a TV in your room. Take a shower first, though. We’ll call you when dinner’s ready.

PETE:
Is there any Gatorade?

DAD:
Only the diet you won’t drink.

PETE shakes his head and exits, teen-dejected, off right. DAD picks up his cell-phone, dials.

MOM (VO2):
I’m right outside. Didn’t Petey tell you?

DAD:
He said you were talking to Tammy.

MOM (VO2)
Uh-huh. She’s right here.
DAD:
I thought I’d rescue you.

MOM (VO2):
I’ll be right in. (Jim wants to know where his dinner is.) I’ll be right in, hon.

DAD:
Bye.

DAD smiles to himself, and sets the phone down, stares at the TV screen, still pulsing blue light across his face.
He smiles even more broadly at the screen, grabbing the remote and turning up the volume.

BIGGLES (VO7a):
It doesn’t seem to be hurting him, lord.

INQUISITOR (VO7b):
Have you got all the stuffing up one end?

BIGGLES (VO7a):
Yes, lord.

INQUISITOR (VOb):
Ah! He must be made of stronger stuff! Cardinal Fang! Get…THE COMFY CHAIR!

The jarring chord from the sketch.

(ALL VO):
The comfy chair…..the comfy chair….. the comfy chair

ANNOUNCER (VO7c):
While they are all saying Comfy Chair…

DAD chuckles, fond of this classic Monty Python sketch, but turns down the volume at the sound of the door,
off left.

MOM enters, from stage left. She wears a roomy sweater and ample skirt, comfortable elegance that allows for the actress to underdress, as will be seen presently.

She is carrying two cloth bags with the Whole Foods logo.
DAD rises and rushes to help. He takes both bags as
she besses him on the cheek.

MOM:
Hi, darling. How’d it go?

DAD:
They told me they may not even name a new deputy.

MOM:
Cut-backs coming?

DAD:
Almost certainly. But, we’re safe.

MOM takes the bags back from DAD.

MOM:
You relax, I’ll get dinner. You want Tandoori chicken with the lentil soup or the lemon-basil shrimp with the Tom Kha Gai.

DAD:
Tom Kha Gai. How was your day?

MOM:
Typical. They’re changing the name from “Sisters of Mercy” to just “Mercy.” Part of the merger.

DAD:
Really? That’s sad.

MOM kisses him on the lips, briefly but meaningfully.

MOM:
You okay?

DAD:
I need a shower.

MOM:
Shower will help.

DAD:
When Pete’s done.

MOM:
They fixed the water pressure. You can use the upstairs. Go!

DAD goes to exit, but returns to retrieve his briefcase
and turns to her to say:

DAD:
It’ll be alright. We’ll manage.

DAD exits, stage right.

MOM nods to herself, sets down the Whole Foods bags behind the chair, picks up the remote and turns off the TV.
The glow of the blue screen disappears.

MOM hesitates for a moment, then turns on the TV again. The blue glow returns as MOM turns up the sound. We hear the jaunty march music of Monty Python’s closing credits.

MOM changes the channel five times, with no time between for sound, only the pulse of the blue glow. Then we get sound as she sets the remote control down and begins to shift her clothing.

This will require clever under-dressing, to be accomplished with a minimum of effort, almost as if the woman were simply changing clothes at home: the sweater over a ratty overlarge plaid flannel shirt, gray sweatpants from under her skirt, clean socks over filthy, bandaged feet, and a stocking cap pulled down over her lovely coiffed hair. By the end of the broadcast segments, she has transformed herself into the very image of homelessness.

VO7:
…the lay-offs, coming on the heels of those in the West from Colorado and California, send
a disturbing signal about the stability of all fifty state governments at the very time when
the federal government is experiencing dramatic downsizing of everything from the massive
Department of Defense to the failing Postal Service.

The channel changes by itself, with a fitful sound effect.

VO8:
There are reports tonight, from the Center for Disease Control, of another outbreak of PRV3,
the third in a series of deadly Porcine Retroviruses, responsible for forty-eight deaths in the
four states along the troubled U.S.-Mexico border, where recent events make quarantine
difficult. Tonight, the CDC is reporting that emergency rooms in Nevada, Colorado and Utah
are filling with victims of the virus, in numbers large enough to impact on other emergency
services. No additional deaths, as yet, but now the CDC is calling the spread of the PRV3
“a public health issue of the gravest potential consequences.”

The channel changes by itself, the sound effect grown louder.

VO9:
Cyber attacks of startling efficiency, snarling financial services and other commerce
throughout the entire Pacific Northwest, which anonymous sources in the department
are suggesting are exploratory and prefatory to a more widespread assault on the nation’s electronic and communications infrastructure.

The blue light goes out with a dramatic burst of sound. LIGHTS DIM, and there is only the faint sound of wind.

MOM, her transfiguration complete, stands there a moment, then lifts two ragged Whole Foods bags from behind the chair. They are not nearly so full as the others, but she finds them heavier, and places them atop the bottles in the shopping cart

DAD enters from stage right, in a woolen coat and grungy, tattered blue jeans. One foot has a sneaker on it, the other is bandaged and the pain is evident as he limps to his chair.

DAD:
Hey.

MOM:
Hey. They ran out of cheese. After I waited all morning, in the cold. You just been sitting here?

DAD:
I got water.

MOM:
Good. I’ll have something to boil the meat in. Black Market beef, but it’s probably alright.
It’ll make good soup.

DAD:
What else did you get?

MOM:
They had some canned goods, just a little past their date. Corn, carrots. Pickles. They’ll still
be good. Maybe with sandwiches. I got the day-old bread.

DAD:
Sandwiches? I thought you said they ran out of cheese.

MOM:
I traded for some.
DAD:
What’d you trade? Hey, what did you trade?

MOM ignores the question, puts the cloth bags in the shopping cart, and goes to exit stage right.
She meets PETE, entering from stage right, now wearing scarred leather hiking shoes without sox,
cut-off shorts, and a football jersey –not soccer. PETE is drinking from a can of Mountain Dew.

MOM:
Where’d you get that?

PETE:
What?

MOM:
The drink. Where’d you get money for a can of soda?

PETE:
I found it.

MOM:
Where? I asked you a question.

MOM takes PETE roughly by the arm.

PETE:
A bunch of older kids found a machine in the basement of the County Building. I helped ‘em
get it open. They gave me a couple of the sodas.

MOM:
Where’s the other one?

PETE:
I sold it.

MOM puts out her hand. PETE takes a wad of bills from his pocket and gives them to her.

MOM:
Is this all you got?

PETE:
We couldn’t bust the money box before someone came. I’m going back tomorrow, though.
MOM:
Where’s your crowbar?

PETE:
I lent it to Jiz.

MOM:
You’ll need it tomorrow.

PETE:
But she said she’d…

MOM:
What.

PETE:
Nothing.

MOM:
Go and get it. Go!

PETE exits, stage left.

DAD:
Those kids that hang around the county building…

MOM:
Yeah, I know.

DAD:
They’re the same ones who…

MOM:
I know. Who’s this “Jiz”?

DAD:
I don’t know. We don’t talk anymore.

MOM:
Alright. Does your foot hurt?

DAD:
Like hell.

MOM:
I’ll take a look at it later. You want soup?

DAD:
I want… Yeah, soup would be nice.

MOM:
Alright.

DAD:
I’ll talk to him.

MOM nods her head, then wheels the shopping cart off, stage right.

DAD sits in his chair, staring into space, gently rocking one foot.

We hear an audio overlap of two portions of the familiar sketch,the two-character dialogue mashed with the single monologue, faintly, fading out with the lights, and there’s no blue glow now.

BIGGLES (VO7a)
It doesn’t seem to be hurting him, Lord.

INQUISITOR (VO7b):
Have you got all the stuffing up one end?

BIGGLES (VO7a):
Yes, Lord.

INQUISISTOR (VO7b):
He must be made of stronger stuff.

INQUISITOR (VO7b): (overlapping with above)
Our weapon is surprise. Surprise, and fear. Fear and surprise. Our two weapons are: Fear, surprise, and a ruthless efficiency. Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as—
I’ll come in again.

DAD sits in his chair as the LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.

END OF PLAY.

Imaginary Friend: a 10 min. play by Tim West

Imaginary Friend

IN THE BLACK, we hear rain. The first light we see is the glow from a television set, downstage left. From it, we hear the dull volley of a tennis game.

At LIGHTS UP, we see a breakfast nook upstage: rain-streaked bay windows, if possible; three chairs and a small table, set with a china coffee service.

AUDIE, a spindly teenage boy, sits in the middle chair, his legs to one side, one arm on the back of the chair and his head resting on that arm, with a remote control device in his hand. A tennis racket droops from his other. He is sporting incongruous summer white tennis togs. One leg has a metal brace.

AUDIE: (to the audience)
“You do my murder, and I do yours… Criss-cross.”

LAURA, AUDIE’s mother, enters stage right, wearing a chiffon housecoat and carrying a portable electronic device in one hand and a fashion magazine in the other.

LAURA:
What’s that, darling?

AUDIE turns down the volume of the TV tennis.

AUDIE:
I said “You are my mother and I love you. Kiss-kiss.”

LAURA:
Oh, sweetie! I love you too, darling. Yes: Kiss-kiss.

LAURA busses him on the top of his head. AUDIE licks his palm, straightens his cow-lick.

AUDIE:
Kiss-kiss.

LAURA sits SR, places her magazine on the table. AUDIE hands her a napkin, which she absent-mindedlytakes from him and uses as a pot-holder to pour
herself a cup of coffee from the pot while she continues multi-tasking between magazine and electronic device. LAURA sips the coffee, scowls.

LAURA:
Bitter.

AUDIE:
You could use some of Dad’s sweetener.

LAURA:
No, it’s fine the way it is. Oopsie!

LAURA has spilled a bit of coffee, but deftly takes the napkin and blots the spill, sparing the magazine. Then she returns to her device.

ALLAN, AUDIE’s dad, enters stage left, dressed for the office, carrying a briefcase in his right hand.

ALLAN sets the briefcase on the table, looks at his wristwatch, and takes a small portable electronic device from his shirt pocket and examines it.

AUDIE:
Morning.

ALLAN looks up, regarding his son pleasantly.

ALLAN:
Morning, sport! How’s my little Bjorn Borg? Illie Nastaze? Ivan Lindel? No, the other one, what’s his name? The one you like so much? Why can I never remember his name?

AUDIE:
Guy Haines.

ALLAN:
No, that’s not it. Give me a minute. It’ll come to me. Andre Aggasiz? Boris Becker!

ALLAN looks at his watch, then goes back to his device as he sits, googling tennis stars.

Throughout the following, LAURA and ALLAN do not look up from their respective devices when they address each other.

LAURA:
You’ll be late for work.

ALLAN:
No I won’t. Is there coffee?

LAURA
In the pot

ALLAN puts his hand of the coffeepot, checking to see if it’s warm. He reacts.

ALLAN:
It’s hot!

(He looks at his fingertips, rubs them together)

It seared my fingertips.

(To LAURA)

Why didn’t you warn me?

LAURA:
It’s hot.

ALLAN:
It seared my fingertips.

(To AUDIE:)

Why didn’t you warn me?

AUDIE:
I got you a decaf.

AUDIE holds out a metallic portable car cup in his hand, which ALLAN accepts gratefully.

ALLAN:
Hm? So you did! Thank you, son.

ALLAN sips his coffee, returns to his devise.

LAURA
Don’t drink too much, you know it only keeps you up.

AUDIE:
It’s okay. It’s decaf.

A pause while we listen to the rain.

ALLAN:
What’s the weather like today?

LAURA
Why?

ALLAN:
I got golf.

LAURA
It’s supposed to rain.

ALLAN sighs, shakes his head, and texts his golf date.

ALLAN:
Anything interesting in the paper?

AUDIE:
It’s a fashion magazine.

ALLAN:
Anything interesting?

LAURA
It’s supposed to rain.

ALLAN:
Good.

ALLAN finishes texting, looks at his watch, sips his coffee. He looks at his wife.

ALLAN:
Could I have the Sports section?

LAURA
Please.

Without looking up, LAURA hands ALLAN an ad insert, which he accepts and places on the table. Both parents return to their portable electronic devices.

AUDIE:
How’s your team doing, Dad?

ALLAN looks up from his device, stares at AUDIE.

ALLAN:
Hm? What’s that, Sport?

AUDIE:
How’s your team doing?

ALLAN:
What team?

AUDIE:
Say, football team?

ALLAN:
NFL or fantasy league?

AUDIE:
Fantasy league.

ALLAN:
Let’s check!

ALLAN goes back to his device to check scores.

LAURA:
You’re going to be late for work.

ALLAN:
I’ve got time.

LAURA:
Did you see there was a thing?

ALLAN:
A what?

LAURA:
A thing.

ALLAN:
Oh. No.

LAURA:
Five car pile-up. Highway 8.

ALLAN:
I didn’t see it. Where was that?

LAURA:
Highway 8.

AUDIE:
www dot Traffic Tracker dot-com.

ALLAN goes to his portable device to check traffic. After a moment, he frowns.

ALLAN:
It’s raining.

We listen to the rain for a moment, while both parents stay immersed in their devices. AUDIE fidgets with his good leg. After a moment,
he stops to announce:

AUDIE:
I need another tennis racket.

LAURA looks up from her device, really for the first time.

LAURA:
We’ll get you a new one, sweetie.

ALLAN: (not looking up from his device)
We’re not made of money, kids.

LAURA:
Oh poo! We’ll buy you a dozen rackets. We’ll buy you a hundred. From you settlement.

LAURA rises, kisses AUDIE on the head again, daubs his face with the napkin. AUDIE avoids letting her wipes his mouth. LAURA takes the napkin and polishes AUDIE’s leg-brace instead.

ALLAN:
That money is not for sporting equipment. It’s to get my little man the best doctors money can buy.

LAURA:
I know that. Don’t you think I know that?

LAURA sighs, checks his watch, takes a sip of coffee, puts his device in his shirt pocket, and rises.

ALLAN:
Sorry. I gotta go. I’ll be late.

AUDIE leaps up, as best he can, to preclude this.

AUDIE:
Don’t go yet, Dad!

ALLAN:
Oh, Sport! But I gotta. The traffic.

AUDIE:
Take me golfing.

ALLAN:
What? Oh, kiddo, you know I can’t do that.

AUDIE:
Why not?

LAURA
Mummy will take you to the mall with her, sweetheart.

AUDIE:
Just stay a minute more, please!

LAURA and ALLAN stand looking at each other over AUDIE’s head, then reluctantly return to their seats. AUDIE hops back onto his chair. AUDIE looks at ALLAN, who pockets his device, looks at his watch, sips his coffee. AUDIE looks at LAURA, who closes her magazine and, with just a tad of regret, turns her device off, giving AUDIE her full attention. AUDIE looks at ALLAN, who looks down at the ad insert, scratches it, sniffs his finger, scowls.

ALLAN:
What’s the second racket for, Sport?

AUDIE:
My tennis partner.

ALLAN:
Your what?

AUDIE:
I have an imaginary friend.

ALLAN:
Aren’t you a little old for that?

AUDIE:
No.

LAURA:
What’s his name, dear?

AUDIE:
Bruno.

LAURA
Bruno?

AUDIE:
Anthony.

ALLAN:
Well, which is it, Bruno or Anthony?

AUDIE:
Bruno Anthony.

ALLAN:
Your imaginary friend has a last name for a first name?

LAURA
Oh, leave the boy alone. What difference does it make?

ALLAN looks at his watch, goes to sip some coffee, but finds it cold. He sets it down, and rises.

ALLAN:
Well, I must be going. Maybe you me and Bruno can go golfing someday, eh?

AUDIE:
Bruno prefers tennis.

ALLAN enjoys this, tossles AUDIE’s hair, starts to go.

ALLAN:
Hey, that’s great, Sport!

AUDIE:
Don’t forget your briefcase.

ALLAN looks at the briefcase, but LAURA retrieves it, meeting ALLAN on his way to the door.

LAURA
He packed it himself. I told him I wouldn’t bother with it. That you’d be lunching at the club.

ALLAN:
What’s that supposed to mean? I’m sure I don’t know.

LAURA
I’m sure I don’t, either. Goodbye, then.

ALLAN:
Goodbye, dear.

ALLAN busses LAURA on the cheek, and exits. We hear a door close, off. LAURA sighs, crosses the table, gathers up the coffee pot and cup. AUDIE uses the remote to turn up the volume on the TV. We hear another tennis volley.

LAURA crosses toward SR with the coffee service. Suddenly, she drops it. She gasps as she looks at the broken dishes, then glares off in the direction ALLAN exited. We hear the sound of a car starting and pulling out of a driveway, off, as LAURA gasps for breath. She crawls toward the AUDIE just a bit, and finally collapses.

AUDIE, wide-eyed, limps to her side, then pokes her with his tennis racket. She lies there staring, not moving. In the distance, we hear an explosion, and then a rain of metal debris.

AUDIE limps back to his chair and straddles it. The tennis volley ends, and we hear clapping.

REFEREE V.O.:
Game, Mr. Haines. He leads, one game to love, third set.

ANNOUNCER V.O.
Well, Guy Haines has copped the first two sets very easily, and if he keeps going, it’ll be a straight set
for him, sure.

AUDIE looks out at the audience.

AUDIE:
Criss-cross.

BLACKOUT.

END OF PLAY.