Author: johnpaulporter (Page 2 of 3)

Eulogy for My Mother

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Before I begin there are a couple of things I need to cover. Last night my sisters looked at me…horrified…not the first time this has happened…and said in one voice, practically in unison, “You’re not going to your Mother’s funeral tomorrow dressed like that, are you?”

So I had to tell them a true story, about one of my last conversations with my Mother. There toward the end I got to spend a week with her and I asked her, I just flat out asked her.  I said, “Mom, do you want me to go to your funeral dressed in a three piece wool suit on a hot summer’s day?”

Now you have to understand, it is from my Mother I get my highly developed and rather original sense of humor. So now Mom, bless her heart, she looked at me and said, “Why no, son, don’t go to my funeral dressed in a three piece suit on a hot day. Go there in a t-shirt and flip flops, because afterwards you might want to go swimming.”

So as I stand before you here today, I am dressed better than my Mother expected.

There is one other thing I would like to mention before I truly begin. I would like to thank my sister Jan and her husband Steve, for all the love and comfort they gave our Mother in the difficult last months of her life. Before that my brother Scott and his wife Kirsi opened up their hearts and their home to our Mother in her declining years. Before that my sisters Kimberly and Whitney, and their husbands Randy and Bob, gave so much comfort and joy to both Mom and Dad in the sunset years they lived in Texas.

Their behavior is a testament to our parents. May we all be so fortunate to have such devoted and loving children when our own end approaches. I thank each of them.

* * * * * * *

Our Mother was beautiful every single day of her life. When she was young, she was movie star beautiful. Now some of you might say, “Well, of course he’s going to say that. And on a day like today he’s even allowed.”  So I brought pictures to prove that what I say is true. Now it would please me and make me proud if you took the time to look at these pictures and to ooh and aah.  But if any of you steal these pictures, I will hunt you down to the ends of the earth.

Some of you may remember Jackie Mackay. When he was about ten he told Mom, “Mrs. Porter, you sure are pretty.”

“Well, thank you, Jackie.”

“You sure don’t look like you’re fifty.”

“Well Jackie, I’m not. I’m forty.”

“Oh. Well you sure don’t look like you’re forty either.”

And when she was she didn’t. She was one of those rare people every bit as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside, which is better than almost any movie star you could name.

She was born Virginia Beth Quillin, a last name so unique and full of history and one she loved so well, she would give it as a first name to her oldest son.

For a moment today we remember her parents, Granny and Grandad Quillin, who lived such hard lives and produced such good children. For a moment we also remember her four brothers – Frank, Dale, Rob and Paul – each of whom proceeded her to heaven, each of whom fought in World War II, some with heroic distinction.

She was brought up on a ninety acre cotton farm in Konawa, Oklahoma.  Except in the most remote corners of the world, no one picks cotton by hand anymore, not even slaves.  But our Mother did.

The house she grew up in did not have electricity, and she read her books and learned her lessons by the light of a kerosene lamp. This was not unusual on the small farms of the 1920’s and 1930’s.  But I hope you young ones, and you not so young ones, think about this when you step outside and flip on that cell phone, or click through the hundred channels on the remote tonight, because life was not always so easy or flip, and it could be argued, quite well I believe, that the very hardness of that time produced a better quality of people.

She started school at a one room school house when she was five years old.  At the end of the first week she was promoted to the third grade. One of her older brothers complained to their mother about her class room ability. “Make Jenny stop answering all those questions. She’s embarrassing me!”

She graduated from high school when she was fourteen. She graduated from college when she was seventeen. While in college she appeared as Emily in a production of Our Town.  She told once about being in that play, “I really wasn’t very good.” But I bet she was.

During World War II Mom worked at the Douglas aircraft plant in Oklahoma City. It was during these years she learned to fly and got a pilot’s license, and actually flew alone, soloed.  There is a picture of her as a young woman in her aviator’s outfit, one foot on the wing of a plane, looking every inch like Amelia Erhardt’s cousin.  How I wish I could put my hands on a copy of that picture.

After the war her younger brother brought around this guy he knew, a young petroleum geologist named Jim Porter, who was destined to become one of the luckiest men on the face of the earth, for he was to be married to our Mother for nearly fifty years.

She told me when she first met Dad, “He smoked like a chimney and every third word out of his mouth was a cuss word.”  But pretty soon he quit smoking, and she must have had a good effect his language too, because I never heard Dad use a single swear word in all the years I knew him. They were best friends and made a great and happy couple, and of course on this day we remember Dad, too.

They had six children and she became what those of us who knew and loved her best will always remember her as:  Mom.  When we were very young and our family very poor and television so new we didn’t even own one yet, Mom ended each day by reading us a chapter from a book.  Tom Sawyer. Huckleberry Finn.  Alice in Wonderland.  The Pickwick Papers.  What a treat to gather around our beautiful Mother at the end of the day and listen as she read to us great books.

When Dad found religion and began teaching each week from the New Testament, it was Mom who taught us the stories from the Old Testament.  Now Dad had an engineer’s mind and a pedantic way of thinking and speaking and teaching, and I will be honest here, he could drone on. [nervous laughter from the audience] I see a few of you spent a Saturday afternoon or two with my father.

But never for a moment was I – or anyone else – bored when Mom held the floor, and told and acted out the great stories from the Old Testament.  Abraham, Joseph, Moses. Joshua, Gideon, Samson.  Saul, David, Solomon. To this day I can remember those stories because she told them so well.  It is a shame video cameras did not then exist so there would be a record of Mom in her prime, entertaining us to the point of enchantment, and teaching us the Bible.

She did not like to sit and do nothing.  When quite advanced in years, as President of Women’s Aglow, she flew all over Alaska, giving speeches in remote towns and Eskimo fishing villages and loved every minute of it, and if given a chance would have done it again.

When she finally did sit still, she read.  It is no accident two of her children are published playwrights, one is a novelist, one just wrote his first screenplay. Another is a doctor. Now I don’t mean to slight the last one by not giving a label to her life, but she is probably the best looking of the bunch, and for that she can also thank our Mother.

For us, the six of her children, it is the greatest deal of the cosmic deck that we could call her Mom, for no one could ask for one better. Twenty-one others could call her grandma. Twelve more could call her great grandma. Now my math may be a fuzzy on these last two figures.  But I can guarantee you she knew the exact number, and she knew all of their names and their birthdays as well.

And in this large tree of her descendants, if you find that you are smart and witty and love to laugh, if you smile easily, if even on your death bed your smile makes you beautiful, if your idea of a great day is when the whole family and guests and friends and relatives sit down together for a good and big meal, and after that meal you sit with your family and friends to play Liverpool Rummy or Twixt or Boggle or Thunder on Your Neighbor, so that you could compete, laugh and have fun with each other, if you are fair of face and have few if any enemies, if you are wise and warm, if you are a good and great parent to your children and love them no matter how far they wander, if you are made of good character, if you love to read and have a good mind and are more interested in ideas and thoughts and history than you are in mere gossip, then remember to thank our Mother, your Grandma and your Great Grandma, for you are in part these things, because of her.

If there is a heaven she is there.  As another playwright wrote, “May flights of angels sing you to your rest.”  Amen.

7 July 2007
Valley Center, Kansas

The Last Time I Saw My Son

The last time I saw my youngest son, Sam, he was wearing a ridiculous haircut.  He was such a handsome fellow and it was the worst haircut ever, one that made him look goofy. Thank God I didn’t say anything about the hair.  Maybe that’s why he smiled at me, because I didn’t say anything. That is my last clear image of him, giving me a happy mischievous smile, his face sunny for a moment.

He came by to drive me to the garage where I had left my truck. That was a good drive because we talked and it could be hard to get Sam to talk.  I left him laughing with a story about moving a piano.  Both boys had been by a couple of weeks before to help move the piano to have new carpet put down.  It was a huffing, puffing experience for the three of us and Sam as always more than held up his end.

I got him to laugh because I told him about the two Mexican laborers, here to lay the carpet and who helped me move the piano back. Both were five six one forty and “they picked up that piano like it was a kitchen chair and I just had my fingers underneath the thing.”  He laughed and I thanked him for the ride and closed the door to his black Camry.  That was the last time I saw my son.

In the last two weeks of his life he remembered Mother’s Day and his Mother’s birthday.  Only days ago Annie was driving home, thinking to herself, “When I get there I’ll ask Sam to put the air conditioner in the kitchen window.”  When she arrived he had just finished doing that very thing.

On a Saturday morning in late June our beautiful son Sam chose to take his life.  This has left me in such a state of shock I cannot say the words “my son is dead” without boiling into the hottest tears I have ever cried. “This is so unnecessary,” I keep telling him, “you didn’t have to do this, son.”  But that handsome young man, so intelligent, so full of light once, who kept so much of his inner life unspoken, is gone.

I thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

1 July 2013

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The West Texas Waltz

screenplay

Synopsis: The richest, meanest man in a little West Texas town brings home his third wife, who tries to seduce the youngest son into the murder of his dad.

* * * * * * * * * *
FADE IN

EXT CONSTRUCTION SITE – DAY

A half finished house, the wind BLOWING dust through it’s skeleton frame, which stands alone in the endless emptiness of the great brown prairie. HOLD for a moment…

NEW ANGLE

Fresh cement pours down and around rubber soled boots – creating an odd sense of entrapment.

Camera RISES on a handsome young man, COLIN, stripped to the waist, spreading the wet goo with a rake. It’s back breaking work beneath a hot sun. The young man is joined in the work by his older brother, CLAY. They are both tan, muscular, in the prime of their youth — and at the moment deeply unhappy with their lot in life.

CLAY
Ain’t nothing can kill a man like pouring a hundred yards
of this shit.

COLIN
Yeah.

CLAY
I hope the old man is having fun. What do you bet he’s
chasing some old gal around them crap tables, while we’re
out here busting a gut.

COLIN
Bet you’re right. But I bet she ain’t old.

CLAY
Humph. Got that straight.

They stop to wipe the sweat from their faces and gaze up at the high hot sun.

MAN’S VOICE
Hey, stop that goldbricking and bend those backs!

The brothers are pouring a basement foundation, and so look up at UNCLE LUKE – fat and unfriendly – who stands above them at ground level.

CLAY
I don’t know who’s worse. Daddy, or Uncle Luke.

They start back to work.

CONSTRUCTION SITE – LATER

The brothers approach Uncle Luke’s truck to get their pay. When Clay opens his envelope, he immediately sets up a howl.

CLAY
What’s this two hundred dollar deduction?

UNCLE LUKE
Paint job on that truck you wrecked.

CLAY
I didn’t wreck it. That’s just a scratch! Look! Look!

Clay crosses to truck that has Freed Construction stenciled on the door, as well as a small dent. He SLAPS the dent.

CLAY (cont’d)
That look like two hundred dollars worth of damage to
you? This ain’t coming outa my pay!

UNCLE LUKE
Take it up with your daddy, boy. I’m just the help.
(spits stream of tobacco)
Just like you.

Uncle Luke walks away from the seething Clay.

EXT HIGHWAY – AFTERNOON

A dusty piece of asphalt. On either side miles of rock and mesquite. In the distance a small town. A battered pickup powers by, HEAVY METAL MUSIC pounding out the open window.  Camera PICKS UP a beat up road sign

Texas Highway – 115

EXT MAIN STREET – LATE AFTERNOON – ESTABLISHING

The heart of the West Texas town of Pomeroy. It ain’t much. A couple of blocks of low slung buildings, weather beaten by years of wind and dust, hunkered down in the vast emptiness.

The brothers drive down Main Street in their worn out truck and park in front of the Café.  Mercifully, the HEAVY METAL MUSIC stops.

INT CAFE – AFTERNOON

A spare and dusty place. Colin is hunched over jukebox trying to decide. Something about this decision makes him nervous. He works up his courage and selects. An Emmy Lou Harris love song, sweetly melodious, fills the room.

He joins his brother at booth in front window. Clay has all his money, coins and bills. spread on the table, counting them. It’s a measly pile.

CLAY
I’ll have to work twenty years for that bastard fore
I ever get me a stake.

COLIN
(easily)
One of these days it’ll all come to us.

CLAY
You don’t know that. Why do you always stick up for
him?

COLIN
I ain’t sticking up for…

CLAY
You don’t even know how to stick up for yourself.

COLIN
(quietly stubborn)
Yes, I do.

CLAY
Now me…I got plans. I got better things to do than
get treated like trash while I wait around for him to
kick off.

COLIN
What plans?

Clay smirks. In the pause that follows, the sweetly melodious music can be more distinctly heard.

CLAY
And why you play this candy assed music?

COLIN
(again, quietly stubborn)
I like it.

CLAY
Jesus, boy. You’re gonna turn out pussy for sure.

Colin SLUGS his brother’s shoulder. Clay just smiles.

CLAY (cont’d)
Okay. My turn.

This is a ritual between them. Colin turns, exposing his shoulder.

Through the window Colin sees the Sheriff’s car pull up. From passenger side steps DELORES HUNGERFORT – in her 40’s, blonde, blowsy, full of brass. She charges out of the car and by the window as…

Clay punches his brother’s shoulder.

COLIN
Skeeter bite.

CLAY
Ha!

Behind them the door BANGS open and Delores advances under a full head of steam.

DELORES HUNGERFORT
You tell that sonofabitch father you got he’s two
months behind in his alimony.

CLAY
What’s the matter, Delores? You need more nail polish?

DELORES
Shut up you snot nosed brat. Least you could do is
call me mother.

CLAY
You ain’t our mother.

DELORES
Close as you’ll ever get.

Something catches Colin’s eye out the window.

HIS POV

SHERIFF FRANK – tall, thin, rawboned tough – is writing out on ticket for the boys’ pickup.

CLAY (v.o.)
What are you doing in here anyway, Delores? They
don’t serve gin in here. You lose your way?

COLIN
Clay.  Clay!  Look!

EXT CAFE – LATE AFTERNOON

The brothers emerge from the cafe, Clay in the lead.

CLAY
What the hell you think you’re doing?

SHERIFF FRANK
(taps it)
Meter’s expired.

CLAY
These meters ain’t been used in twenty years.

Wordlessly, Sheriff Frank tears out ticket, stuffs it in Clay’s shirt pocket.

CLAY (cont’d)
For a first cousin, you’re a first class asshole, Frank.

Clay rips up ticket, throws pieces to the ground. Calmly, the Sheriff takes out ticket book and resumes writing.

CLAY (cont’d)
Whattaya doing now?

SHERIFF FRANK
Looks like littering to me.

Clay starts for the Sheriff, but Colin grabs him in a bear hug and dances him away.

COLIN
C’mon, Clay! C’mon!

He still has his arms around his brother as Delores emerges from cafe and passes, licking an ice cream cone.

DELORES
Lookee here, Frank. Got us a couple of queers,
right here in Pomeroy.

CLAY
ARRAAGGHH!

Clay again tries to break the grip of his brother, this time to go after Delores. But Colin holds fast.

EXT BIG HOUSE – DUSK – ESTABLISHING

The pickup ROARS down a long dirt drive and parks in front of a big white house. The house, once proud, is now in a state of disrepair. Overgrown weeds and abandoned farm/ranching equipment dot the front yard. A second beat to hell pickup is on the cement part of the drive.

Clay SLAMS out of the truck, heads through “breezeway” to the back yard, ranting.

CLAY
I can’t take it anymore! I can’t fucking take this!

INT BOYS’ ROOM – EVENING

The phone is RINGING as Colin comes up the stairs. Through open window Clay is seen below on a half finished patio that surrounds an empty swimming pool. There are piles of dirt about and the empty pool is filthy.

This room is over a detached garage or pool house. In far b.g. is a broken down barn with board fence corral.

COLIN
(answering phone)
Hello.
(listens)
Hi, dad.

HIS POV – THROUGH WINDOW

Clay picks up a shovel on the half-finished patio and starts throwing dirt into the air and into the empty, filthy pool. Dogs start BARKING.

CLAY
No more! No more! No fucking more!

COLIN
(on phone)
Oh no, everything’s fine.
(listens)
You what?

POOL

Clay BEATS the shovel against the kennel fence near the pool and patio. The two hunting dogs inside are GOING CRAZY.

CLAY
Shut up! Shut up, you fucking dogs!

EXT POOL, PATIO – NIGHT

The two brothers, slightly drunk, sit on a pile of dirt by the empty swimming pool, each sipping a beer. After a few moments…

CLAY
He even tell you her name?

COLIN
No.

CLAY
Heh. Wife number three. Can hardly fucking wait.

COLIN
You’re supposed to get him at the airport. Something
about the Caddy acting up.

CLAY
Let him fucking walk. Tomorrow morning I am gone,
boy.  Alaska.

COLIN
What’s up there?

CLAY
Ain’t no Jesse Freed up there. That’s good enough
for me.

Clay finishes beer, throws the bottle far into the night. It CRASHES with a distant TINKLE of glass.

CLAY (cont’d)
(an after thought)
You wanna come along?

Colin considers, shrugs.

CLAY (cont’d)
I knew you wouldn’t.
(pauses)
You ask him something for me someday, will ya?
Cause I ain’t ever had the guts.
(Colin doesn’t respond)
You promise to ask?

COLIN
What?

CLAY
(slowly)
You ask him how our real mother really died. I wanna
hear what he’s got to say to that.

A drunk Clay stumbles off into the dark.

REACTION Colin – surprised, confused, uncertain.

INT BOYS’ ROOM – EARLY MORNING

Outside the sun is barely up. Inside, Clay is packing. The phone starts RINGING. Colin starts for it.

CLAY
Let it ring!

Colin stops. The phone keeps RINGING. Clay continues packing.

EXT BIG HOUSE – MORNING

Colin watches Clay throw his stuff into the back of the pickup.

COLIN
Why don’t you just go away for a coupla weeks, like
you did last spring?

CLAY
Nope. Going for good.
(pauses)
Let me give you one last piece of advice, little brother:
don’t ever trust a single damn one of our relatives. Got me?

In far b.g. a Yellow Cab turns into the dirt drive. Colin catches sight of the cab.

COLIN
Bet that’s him.

CLAY
Shit!
(leaps into truck, fires it up)
Good luck! And remember, you promised to ask!

Clay PEELS OUT just as the Yellow Cab SCREECHES to a halt and out hops JESSE FREED – an enormously vital man in his 50’s, imposing, a legendary conniver, a man so hungrily alive it’s hard not to be fascinated, even if you are repelled.

JESSE
Where the hell is he going?

COLIN
(doesn’t know how to lie)
Alaska.

JESSE
What?

COLIN
That’s what he said.

JESSE
Well he ain’t going in my truck he ain’t. He can’t steal
that truck. I’ll have him arrested!

COLIN
He bought that truck from you, daddy.

JESSE
When?

COLIN
Last year.

JESSE
For what?

COLIN
Year’s wages.

JESSE
(considers this)
I probably didn’t charge him enough.

The CAB DRIVER – a sorrowful string bean of a fellow – has opened trunk and taken out several packages and boxes, booty from a department store somewhere. Vaguely seen in the back seat, packages on her lap, is the new bride.

CAB DRIVER
That will be ninety-seven dollars and fifteen cents, sir.

JESSE
Why in San Fucking Hell weren’t you at the airport?

COLIN
Clay took the truck, sir.

JESSE
Bad luck to him anyway.
(spits)
What’s it say when I’m related to half this county and
can’t get a ride home from the airport?

CAB DRIVER
(innocently)
Probably says you don’t have many friends.

Jesse gives the man a withering look. This is one Cab Driver who’s going to have a hard time collecting his fare.

JESSE
Pay the man.

COLIN
Daddy…

JESSE
You were supposed to be there. I ain’t gonna make
good your mistakes.

COLIN
I don’t have that kind of money.

JESSE
Wanna flip me for it? Double or nothing on your wages?

COLIN
No.

JESSE
Chickenshit.

COLIN
Dad…

WOMAN’S VOICE
I think one of you had better shut up and help me outa
of this here car!

Suddenly cavalier, Jesse hustles over to help out his new bride. ENID PICKNEY is a smoldering blonde, juicy as ripe fruit. She’s got a few miles on her but is only hard around the edges, not hard through and through. Not yet.

ENID
Thank you.

JESSE
Son…this is Enid. She’s your new step mom.

She crinkles up her nose at him – almost a conspiratorial wink and sashays by headed for her new house – hungry anticipation in her eyes.

Jesse watches her pass with pride, Colin and the Cab Driver with open mouthed appreciation.  It’s the Driver who snaps out of it first.

CAB DRIVER
Ahem.

JESSE
Pay the man.

COLIN
But daddy…

But Jesse has already loped away after his new bride.

INT BIG HOUSE – DAY

If the outside of the house is in disrepair, the inside matches and exceeds that condition. The rooms are large but horribly dirty. The furniture is decrepit junk. Enid’s lips curl into a practiced pout as she inspects the premises.  A nervous Jesse hovers nearby.

JESSE
Got 18 rooms in this house. Course, only use the
kitchen and bedroom mostly. And my office. Hell,
rest of the house hain’t hardly been lived in. Good
as new.

ENID
How dare you insult me like this, Jesse Freed.

JESSE
Huh?

ENID
This is not going to do.

Colin enters with a double armload of suitcases and packages, which he drops to the floor with a CLATTER. The Cab Driver is right behind him with another double armload.

ENID (cont’d)
I will not live in a pig sty!

JESSE
Honey…

She picks up the dusty cushions from the broken down couch and begins throwing them.

ENID
This stuff goes out. Out! It’s garbage, you hear me?
Trash! I won’t have trash in my house!

Jesse is at a loss for words, as is Colin. He has never seen anybody speak like this to his dad, and looks worriedly from him to her and then back again. A moment of tense silence passes.

CAB DRIVER
I hate to interrupt the happy couple. But I need ninety-seven
dollars and fifteen cents. Then I’ll be right on my way.

JESSE
Pay the man.

COLIN
I didn’t ride in no dang cab.

JESSE
(to Driver, meaning Colin)
Keep after this dead beat. He’ll be good for it.

COLIN
No!

ENID
Oh pay him, you old tightwad. And give him a big tip, too.
Brought us all the way from that damn airport.

JESSE
All right, honey. Don’t get your drawers in a bunch.
(to Colin)
Can I borrow fifty bucks?

COLIN
I don’t have fifty bucks!

And Colin leaves the room, casting a nervous but much interested look at this new woman.  Jesse, knowing he’s whipped for the moment, finally takes out his wallet, fingers up some bills, smiles at the Driver and can’t help but ask…

JESSE
Now are you sure instead of this here fare, you
wouldn’t be interested in a good deal on a couch?

Jesse smiles at the worried Driver. In b.g. through the dirty windows, Colin is seen staring into the house, staring at Enid.

One Act Plays

EVERY PAIR OF BLUE JEANS WAS LIKE A BULLET

Marx, Lenin and Stalin find themselves as stockbrokers in New York City. (three men, simple set)

HOW COOL IS THAT

A brief encounter with a legendary figure (two men, simple set)

A NIGHT ON THE MOON

A paid male escort comes between two old friends (two women. one man)

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND

Plans are made to mate the husband of a recently deceased friend (two women)

TRILOGY BLUE

Three one acts.

MISSISSIPPI JADE – a white rock and roller meets up with the gate keeper of Hell, an old black bluesman;

AUGIE ABRAMS – a man steals a truck and tries to change his life and his luck in Las Vegas; and

SAINT GEORGE – a lonesome man and a ravaged hooker meet on a street in Hollywood at two a.m., trying to connect.  Three plays about loneliness and ambition.  (4 men, 1 woman, simple sets)

THIRTY YEARS IN SIXTY SECONDS

The 1960’s meet the 1970’s meet the 1980’s simultaneously in a theatrical piece of cubism about truth being a matter of perspective (3 men, 3 women, simple set)

ALL GOD’S CHILDREN GOT EQUIPMENT

A gay man and black woman meet in an emergency room, fall into a violent argument, then suddenly, unexpectedly, touch
(1 white male, 1 black female);

A DAY AT THE OFFICE

Three one acts.

THE GIRLS IN THE OFFICE, I’VE GOT MINE and ONE DAY IN HELL explore a day in the life of a big city law firm; a study in envy, ego, back biting bitchiness, ambition, and barely repressed insanity; a Samuel Beckett world where everyone wants to leave, but no one can.  (5 women, 4 men, simple sets)

EVERYDAY RELATIONS

A Wasp, a Jew and a black man share their unspoken and terrified
thoughts on a late night train ride from Grand Central to White Plains (3 males).

THE POISON PARTY

Manhattan Story

MANHATTAN STORY 

Six people are swindled into renting the same studio apartment in a city we all know  and love.  Chief among them is a fast talking, over weight and homely dress designer, who will find love for the  first time.  A romantic comedy about keeping faith in the face of hopeless odds.  

5 men, 2 women, single unit set.

Madman King

MADMAN KING 

A once prominent politician, now fallen to the level of street person, a brother to the richest two men in the state, is visited by them and by people from his past, who try to talk him out of his delusion that the President of the United States is coming to town to give him a job.   

7 men, 3 women, single unit set.

Co-written with Joe Paradise.

Two Ladies at Evening

Synopsis: Three inter-connected one acts.  In FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND plans are made to mate the husband of a recently deceased friend. In A NIGHT ON THE MOON a hired male escort comes between some ladies during a night on the town.  THE LADIES AT A LATE LUNCH are the two “old friends” speaking their innermost thoughts while never speaking to each other.  2 women, 1 man, simple sets.

* * * * * * * * * *

               (quiet organ music; lights up; ELEANOR and LIDDY are seated in a church pew)

ELEANOR:  Don’t you think Henry looks good?

LIDDY:  Oh no. Not today. He looks rather pale.

ELEANOR:  Well sure. He’s in mourning. But even so, he is still a striking man.

LIDDY:  Henry has kept his looks, yes.

ELEANOR:  Yes. Even with that sad face. So handsome.

LIDDY:  Eleanor, I think it’s really bad form to ask the husband out at his wife’s funeral.

ELEANOR:  I wasn’t going to do that. Certainly not!

LIDDY:  Sssshh. Then please, curb your enthusiasm for the bereaved.

ELEANOR:  Don’t sssshh me. I have never asked a man out in my life. They do the asking. I’m very old school that way.

LIDDY:  Good.

ELEANOR:  I wouldn’t even know where to start. Ask a man out.

LIDDY:  Fine.

ELEANOR:  I’m here to pay my respects.

LIDDY”  We should think about Joselle today.

ELEANOR: I am.

LIDDY:  And only good thoughts.

               (pause; ELEANOR has to consider this for a few moments, then…)

ELEANOR:  She was a beautiful woman.

LIDDY:  Yes she was.

ELEANOR:  Of all our friends, she was the most beautiful.

LIDDY:  Without question.

ELEANOR:  Wonderful taste in clothes.

LIDDY:  Impeccable taste in clothes. The best. Always knew how to dress. Set the standard.

              (pause)

ELEANOR:  I wonder who she left all those clothes to?

LIDDY:  No idea.

ELEANOR:  She only has the one daughter. Monica.

LIDDY:  Monica doesn’t even like dresses.

ELEANOR:  All these years, I’ve never seen her in one. Oh, how Joselle used to complain about that.

LIDDY:  That’s true. It wouldn’t surprise me if Monica showed up today, wearing pants.

ELEANOR:  So Monica doesn’t want the dresses.  (pauses)  Did she have any nieces?

LIDDY:  I think I met a couple of them once.

ELEANOR:  Are they her size?

LIDDY:  I don’t remember.

ELEANOR:  Mmm. All those closets. Full of those exquisite clothes.

LIDDY:  When it came to clothes, she spent like the Queen of France.

ELEANOR:  Now all those dresses are just hanging there. Going to waste.

LIDDY:  Maybe Henry will give them away.

ELEANOR:  To who? A thrift shop?

LIDDY:  Probably.

ELEANOR:  Oh! If those clothes don’t go to someone who appreciates them, it’s like…

LIDDY:  What?

ELEANOR:  It would be like she died in vain.

LIDDY:  I didn’t think she died for anybody’s sins, Eleanor.

ELEANOR:  All I’m saying is, it wouldn’t be right.

LIDDY:  Well. You are about her size.

ELEANOR:  It’s true. I mean, I would need to lose a couple of pounds, sure. But…

LIDDY:  It would seem something of a waste.

ELEANOR:  Exactly. I mean, it wasn’t something I could bring up while she was on her deathbed.

LIDDY:  No.

ELEANOR:  “Could I have that black Versace after you’re gone?”

LIDDY:  A horrid thing to ask.

ELEANOR:  Terrible manners. Wouldn’t have dreamed of it.

LIDDY:  No.

ELEANOR: But we were awfully close, she and I.

LIDDY:  You two had made up? After the big tiff?

ELEANOR:  The bridge game? Oh, certainly. We patched things up a long time ago. You know that.

LIDDY:  In that situation, you should never bid no trump.

ELEANOR:  Oh fiddle. It was just cards.

LIDDY:  She took her cards seriously.

ELEANOR:  Too seriously. It’s probably what gave her the…oh, that’s a terrible thing to say. I’m sorry.

LIDDY:  Only think good thoughts about Joselle today.

ELEANOR:  Absolutely.

LIDDY:  And Henry.

ELEANOR:  I always have good thoughts about Henry.  (pauses)  What if we took some food over to him afterwards?

LIDDY:  I don’t think he’s doing that.

ELEANOR:  It’s traditional.

LIDDY:  On the Upper East Side?

ELEANOR:  Of course.

LIDDY:  Taking over food after a funeral seems so…Grand Rapids.

ELEANOR:  I know people who have done it.

LIDDY:  In our neighborhood?

ELEANOR:  Yes, in our neighborhood.

LIDDY:  You mean to tell me, at Fifth Avenue and 86th, after a funeral, people bring over little Tupperware dishes
filled with meatloaf?

ELEANOR:  I didn’t say anything about meatloaf. We’ll order something from Dean and DeLuca’s. Haven’t you done this
before?

LIDDY:  I’ve been very lucky. Very few deaths in my family.  A few who should have gone, but they just keep
hanging around.  (pauses)  If there’s a get together after, I’m sure Henry will have it catered.

ELEANOR:  Of course he will.  (pauses)  Is there a get together? After?

LIDDY:  I haven’t heard.

ELEANOR:  Were we invited?

LIDDY:  We’ll ask around.

ELEANOR:  We weren’t invited?

LIDDY:  I don’t know, Eleanor.

ELEANOR:  That’s some nerve. Not to invite us.

LIDDY:  I don’t know if we weren’t invited.

ELEANOR:  We’re among her oldest friends.

LIDDY:  It wouldn’t seem right if we were left out of a gathering, no.

ELEANOR:  No, no, no. If there is a “do” after, I will see to it that Henry invites us. End of story.

LIDDY:  Good.

ELEANOR:  It will give me a good reason to speak to him. Like I need a good reason. He should be comforted.

LIDDY:  And you’re just the girl for the job?

ELEANOR:  Maybe.

LIDDY:  He won’t be alone long. Not with all those millions.

ELEANOR:  You’re so cynical sometimes.

LIDDY:  I’m cynical all the time.

ELEANOR: It’s not Henry’s money that makes him attractive.

LIDDY:  It doesn’t hurt.

ELEANOR:  No, it doesn’t hurt. But it’s the way he carries himself.  He has such an air of distinction. And I know Henry.
He’s got far too much class to…

LIDDY:  To what?

ELEANOR:  To take up with someone unsuitable.

LIDDY:  Who would you consider unsuitable?

ELEANOR:  Any woman under fifty.

LIDDY:  That would narrow down the field a bit.

ELEANOR:  Yes, it would.

LIDDY:  And to certain people’s advantage.

ELEANOR:  One can only hope. He’s got far too much class to take up with some trollop. Some tart. Some twinkie
in a tight blouse. That’s just not him.

LIDDY:  I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high about Henry, dear.

ELEANOR:  You know something?

LIDDY:  I know he’s a man. And he’s going to be very popular.  Look around the room. Over there is Bonnie. In a red
dress. Who wears red to a funeral?

ELEANOR:  Did she have to dress like a slut today? It’s not even noon yet.

LIDDY:  She has no breeding.

ELEANOR:  She just puts herself out there like a common street walker. Ever since the breast surgery. Nothing but low cut dresses.

LIDDY:  She’s trying much too hard.

ELEANOR:  It’s pathetic really. It is, and I don’t use this word lightly, it is tacky.

LIDDY:  Exactly.

ELEANOR:  Like she is the only woman who ever had breast enhancement.

LIDDY:  On the Upper East Side?

ELEANOR:  Who is she kidding?  Henry would never go for someone like her.

LIDDY:  Ssshhhh.

ELEANOR:  Don’t ssshhhh me.  When does this thing start?

Men and Women Talking Love and Sex

A relationship is followed from its giddy beginning to its bitter end, replete with a running commentary from a peanut gallery of friends. 3 men, 2 women, simple set.

Time: Somewhere between 1980 and 2005. New York City.

Setting:  A bar, a bedroom, a park, but mostly inside the imagination and memory of the people present. A bare stage save for black boxes.

* * * * * * * * * *

PETE:  Now I’ve read that a man who is attracted to breasts, is an exhibitionist. Outgoing. And if you’re attracted to legs, you’re socially conscious. An altruist. And if you’re attracted to the butt, that means you’re stingy. Self centered.

TOM:  What if you’re attracted to long legs in lingerie?

CAYLOR:  Hmm.

PETE:  I believe that makes you a socially conscious transvestite, Tom.

CLARINDA:  Looks looks looks. Always hung up on looks.

PETE:  And women aren’t?

CLARINDA:  Not like men.

TOM:  Well if that’s true, what’s the difference between me and Brad Pitt?

(all stare at TOM)

PETE:  Gosh, Tom. I can’t think of a thing.

TOM:  I can. I’m taller.

CLARINDA:  Women are not as hung up about looks.

TOM:  Oh sure. Why do you spend all that money on makeup?

CLARINDA:  The makeup is for other women.

PETE:  That’s true. There’s not a straight man in the entire country who cares a thing about eye shadow.

CAYLOR:  So if women aren’t looking for looks…

TOM:  Which, don’t fool yourself, they are.

CAYLOR:  ..what are they looking for?

TOM:  Money.

CLARINDA:  They’re looking for feelings.

TOM:  Oh yeah. A beautiful babe, a wrinkled old man.

PETE:  He opened his wallet and there she was.

CLARINDA:  If you fall in love for money, you’ll get misery.

TOM:  And a good divorce settlement. Maybe a house on the beach.

CLARINDA:  It’s a perversion of the heart.

TOM:  The world is full of perverts.

CLARINDA:  Of every stripe.

PETE:  A crooked heart is not the sole province of either sex.

CLARINDA:  Here here.

CAYLOR:  So what is it, that people fall in love with?

(they sip their drinks and ponder)

TOM:  Let’s say I was Mick Jagger.

PETE:  We will stretch our imagination.

TOM:  Why do all the women want to make it with Mick?

CLARINDA:  I don’t. I want nothing to do with the guy. Skinny little body and those rubber lips that make you wonder where they’ve been. And an attitude to boot.  And he’s old now, too.  Hello?

TOM:  All right, why did lots of women want to make it with Mick.  Why do guys in bands get all the chicks?

PETE:  I see. We are into cosmic questions here.

TOM:  Absolutely deep stuff.

CAYLOR:  Okay. Women want to make it with Mick for the same reason men want to do Playboy centerfolds or cover girl models.

TOM:  Which is…

CAYLOR:  For the same reason women buy makeup or men buy a brand new Corvette.

PETE:  Oh, tell us Obi Wan Kenobi.

CAYLOR:  Beauty is the promise of happiness. And we all believe if we can only possess something outside of ourselves — that beauty, the thing that makes the music, the car, that famous person with a perfect life so superior to our own — if we could just have that or have them, then we’d be magic, too. Happy and beautiful. Immortal. But it doesn’t work that way.

PETE:  But it doesn’t stop people from trying.

TOM:  And if I ever get famous, I will do my best to spread my magic around.

CLARINDA:  The world will be so lucky. Probably full of unspeakable diseases, but so lucky.

PETE:  I’d be careful about sleeping with a lot of strange women these days, Tom.

TOM:  How many would you consider a lot?

CLARINDA:  We got derailed here. We are speaking of love, not sex.

TOM:  There’s a difference?

(pause)

PETE:  So you met this woman.

TOM:  Who you didn’t think was your type.

CAYLOR:  No, not at first. But…

ANNIE:  (enters)  Oh, Beethoven. Definitely Beethoven.

CAYLOR:  And Chopin.

ANNIE:  Oh yes. So dramatic.

CAYLOR:  And Dylan. Are you one of those people who like his voice? Or you one of those people who thinks he whines?

ANNIE:  (considers this a trick question)  I like his voice.

CAYLOR:  Good! Good! That’s good!

(ANNIE and CAYLOR stroll US carrying on an animated conversation

CLARINDA:  Ah, the get acquainted period. The honeymoon.

PETE:  Nothing is greater in life than hope.

TOM:  Or more false.

CLARINDA:  To think that you have found someone.

PETE:  Or they you.

TOM:  And all he really wants to do is to get his bologna buffed.

CAYLOR:  I guess that’s a long story and I should start at the beginning:  (strikes a pose)  I am born.

ANNIE:  (rolls her eyes, but remains good humored)  Fascinating.

(CAYLOR and ANNIE continue their animated conversation)

PETE:  You know, I think I married my first wife just so I wouldn’t have to tell the story of my life any more.

TOM:  Huh?

PETE:  It’s true. I got tired of telling the damn thing. Breaking my arm on the bike, burning down the garage. I figured I would tell it one more time to one more woman and that would be it. We’d get married, and I’d never have to tell the damn thing again.

TOM:  There are worse reasons to get married I suppose.

PETE:  Probably, but not many.

CAYLOR:  Cats. Oh, definitely a cat person.

ANNIE:  Me too.

CAYLOR:  Dogs…?

ANNIE:  Forget it.

CAYLOR:  Especially mean dogs.

ANNIE:  People who keep mean dogs…

CAYLOR:  They’re making up for some psycho-sexual deficiency.

ANNIE:  Some sort of inadequacy.

CAYLOR:  In another part of their life.

ANNIE:  Mmm-hmm.

CAYLOR:  Yeah.

(they lock eyes for a moment, then turn to their respective friends, excited)

CAYLOR (cont’d):  I met this girl!

ANNIE:  I’m seeing this guy!

CAYLOR/ANNIE:  And we can talk!

PETE:  Down boy, down.

TOM:  Out to the park.  You need some baseball.

(MEN exit; ANNIE sits with CLARINDA , who pours two glasses of wine)

CLARINDA:  You like him?

ANNIE:  I like him.

CLARINDA:  So why do you look so confused?

ANNIE:  I feel like I’ve been through a battery of tests.  Okay, I have been through a battery of tests.

CLARINDA:  You passed?

ANNIE:  Who knows? He only hears whether or not I agree with him. Guess he figures the rest he’ll have to teach me.

CLARINDA:  Why do we let them do that to us?

ANNIE:  I don’t know.  (pause)  I like him. I like being with him. He’s intelligent, he’s funny.  Man, he can make me laugh.  And mostly I do agree with him. It’s like we were born on the same wave length. But I can feel myself…going under, you know.  (pause)  Half my life I spend telling other women how strong and independent I am. The other half I spend searching for a man to blend with. Blend…not lose myself in.  Blending feels less like a betrayal of myself. Is this insanity?

CLARINDA:  It’s called a dichotomy. When you’re split in two.

ANNIE:  Hmmm.

CLARINDA:  But your guy, a nice guy?

ANNIE:  So far.

CLARINDA:  Good looking?

ANNIE:  Good looking enough.

CLARINDA:  Good job?

ANNIE:  Decent job.

CLARINDA:  Not psychotic? Insanely jealous? Wouldn’t beat you?

ANNIE:  Don’t think so.

CLARINDA:  Not hung up on his mother, ex-wife, old girlfriend?

ANNIE: Well…

CLARINDA:  Not secretly gay? Not addicted to porn, football, x-box?

ANNIE:  All to be discovered.

CLARINDA:  Not obnoxiously self centered?

ANNIE:  Not anymore than the usual man.

CLARINDA:  Wouldn’t lay around the house in his socks and underwear eating barbecue sauce and crackers?

ANNIE:  Gross. This happened to you?

CLARINDA:  Sylvester. Would pee in the sink because the bathroom was up the stairs.

ANNIE:  Oh!

CLARINDA:  Know your man!  Know him before you lose your heart!

 ANNIE:  Now you got me worried.

CLARINDA:  Your world is open.  You could have anything.  You could have a career.

ANNIE:  I could.

CLARINDA:  You could be a lawyer.

ANNIE:  Oh, wretched.

CLARINDA:  Boring?

ANNIE:  Have you ever opened a law book?  Unendurable.

CLARINDA:  All right then.  An anthropologist.

ANNIE:  There’s no money in that.

CLARINDA:  The research you do?

ANNIE:  Part time at best.

(a beat, a sip of wine

CLARINDA:  (sip of wine)  But you were seeing that guy.  He had a penthouse on Central Park West.

ANNIE:  He was a complete ass.

CLARINDA:  He had a Calder mobile hanging from his living room ceiling.

ANNIE:  He was still an ass.

CLARINDA:  Or the doctor.  No, no, no, he was a dentist, right?

ANNIE:  We didn’t have a thing in the world in common.

CLARINDA:  What about the baseball player?

ANNIE:  Oh God, I go out with him one time and the whole world knows?

CLARINDA:  He was a New York Met.

ANNIE:  I’m not going to spend the rest of my life pretending I am dumber than he is.  Mission impossible.

CLARINDA:  You had three chances to marry rich.

ANNIE:  Don’t you think I should love the guy?  Even just a little?

CLARINDA:  Well…

ANNIE:  I won’t settle for a man I don’t love. I won’t get married just to get married.

CLARINDA:  I almost did.  I almost got married for that whole Queen for a Day Wedding Deal.

ANNIE:  You never told me this.

CLARINDA:  A two hundred thousand dollar destination wedding, Cancun, Mexico.

ANNIE:  Wow.  And you didn’t do it?

CLARINDA:  And marry Sylvester?  I don’t think so.

ANNIE:  All that money and he peed in the sink?

CLARINDA:  He was raised by pigs.  And that’s a slander to pigs.  (scans audience)  Now I’m back looking around for a Mister Maybe.

ANNIE:  Oh my God.

CLARINDA:  (to audience) Every once in a while a guy comes along who…. if you squint a little…

ANNIE:  (to audience)  If you cut your expectations off a little…say…at the knee.

CLARINDA:  I was hoping for higher.  Maybe to… (indicates waist) …here.  Because maybe I want the whole package.

ANNIE:  If he just can get above here… (indicates breasts) …to maybe here…(touches head) …is this too much to ask?

CLARINDA:  Is he breathing?  He doesn’t stink?  Okay, maybe!

ANNIE:  Because after you have weeded out the weird and the dim…

CLARINDA:  …the goof balls and the meatballs there is… (waves hand at men [or man] in Audience)
…like you, a Maybe.  Not George Clooney, but okay.

ANNIE:  So you put on that low cut off the shoulder spaghetti strap clingy thing…

CLARINDA:  …that you keep around for just such an occasion…

ANNIE:  …and the high heels that hurt like hell.

CLARINDA:  It’s foot bondage, ladies.  They want to cripple us.

ANNIE:  They want to bankrupt us.

CLARINDA:  But you get all dolled up and go meet this Mister Maybe.

ANNIE:  And after five minutes…

CLARINDA:  Even with a drink, and you will need a drink, because after five minutes you’re thinking…

ANNIE:  You’re not him.

CLARINDA:  You’re not even close to him.  (to Audience)  It is not that we can’t get dates.

ANNIE:  We’ve had dates.

CLARINDA:  It’s just frankly…the field is not impressive.

ANNIE:  The field is more like a pasture.

CLARINDA:  The pasture is a wasteland.

ANNIE:  Seven billion people on the planet and half of those are men.

CLARINDA:  Deduct ten percent for gay.

ANNIE:  Maybe more in certain cities.

CLARINDA:  Okay, that’s still a lot of men.  But somehow…

ANNIE:  Somehow it seems the gene pool is drying up.

 

 

Three Days in Late Summer

A prominent family in a small Kansas town is followed over a period of twenty-five years, each act taking place on one summer day during the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s.  Six men, two women, unit set.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

[from Act One, Scene One – 1972 – the front porch of a rich man’s house]

RUSSELL:  (looks off)  That’s Fergis, coming up the road. Those kids better stay out of sight.

LIBBY:  Doubt if you’ll have to worry about that.

RUSSELL:  Listen…could we not speak of religion for the next half hour?

LIBBY:  You see? You try to take God out of your life.

RUSSELL:  Honey…

LIBBY:  If you were right with God everything else would just naturally be in its place.

RUSSELL:  Don’t it say in the Book a wife is supposed to obey her husband?

LIBBY:  That’s the only thing in the whole Bible you ever remember.

RUSSELL:  Don’t it say that though?

LIBBY:  Okay. I’ll just sit here and try to look pretty, just like you want me to.

RUSSELL:  You still are pretty, Libby.

LIBBY:  No, I’m not.

RUSSELL:  Of course you are.

LIBBY:  Those kind of things make no difference to me anymore.  They’re earthly things.  (rises)
I’ll get us some ice tea.

RUSSELL:  (stops her)  That’s all right.

LIBBY:  It’s no trouble.

RUSSELL:  I don’t want you hiding in the kitchen and make me drag you out.

LIBBY:  (sits)  Shucks.

RUSSELL:  We can afford a maid, you know.

LIBBY:  Don’t want a maid. Don’t want her under-foot, talking bout me with all her friends.

RUSSELL:  Libby…

LIBBY:  Fluttering around. My legs ain’t broke.

RUSSELL:  Just play along with me here, okay?

LIBBY:  Oh, I know my part. Shut up and smile.

(she gives fake smile as a car is heard driving up, stopping, and car door slams)

RUSSELL:  You help me handle this…I’ll go to church with you come Sunday.

LIBBY:  Really?

RUSSELL:  I promise.  (kisses her cheek)  Boy, that’s making a deal with the devil, now ain’t it?

LIBBY:  Russell Cunningham…

FERGIS NICHOLSON:  (enters) Why Russell Cunningham…

RUSSELL:  Here I am.

NICHOLSON:  The man himself. And his beautiful wife Libby.

RUSSELL:  Morning, Fergis.

NICHOLSON:  Why Miss Libby, you look better than ever.

LIBBY:  He’s come to tell you no, Russell.

RUSSELL:  Huh?

LIBBY:  If he’s laying it on thick like this, the answer’s going to be no.

RUSSELL:  Stop it.

LIBBY:  Want some iced tea, Fergis?

NICHOLSON:  No thank you, Miss Libby.

(FERGIS pauses; RUSSELL gives LIBBY a “stop it” look)

NICHOLSON (cont’d):  Fine day.

RUSSELL:  Beautiful day.

LIBBY:  Wind’s going to start to blow, out of the south. Be hot and dusty by the afternoon.

NICHOLSON:  Yes sir, fine day.  (doesn’t know how to say what he has come to say, so changes the subject)  You know, driving in, I was probably on your land for half an hour, Russell. I was just trying to  remember everything you own.

RUSSELL:  Well, I’ll tell you. Still got the television station.

NICHOLSON:  I figured.

RUSSELL:  Still got the half interest in the Chevrolet dealership there in town.

NICHOLSON:  Man like you, that’s just the icing on the cake, ain’t it?

RUSSELL:  Just added a half section last week. That makes it, oh… (figures a moment)…three thousand four hundred and fifty-two acres, give or take. Got it planted in wheat and milo, soybeans.  And the land I don’t have planted, hell, government pays me not to plant.

LIBBY:  I think you just take advantage of that, Russell.

RUSSELL:  The Lord’s been good to me.

LIBBY:  You should be on your knees more, thanking the Lord.

RUSSELL:  I can’t complain.

LIBBY:  (to Fergis)  It sure don’t seem to stop him none.

RUSSELL:  Oh, I could complain. My kids ain’t worth a damn.

NICHOLSON:  Hell, nobody’s kids are worth a damn anymore. Don’t you know that?

RUSSELL:  I ain’t quite give up on them yet.  (a beat)  What’s the news, Fergis?

NICHOLSON:  Oh, come out to talk about the convention.

RUSSELL:  I figured. Let’s quit pissing around the bush here and get to business.

NICHOLSON:  Guess there’s no way to say it but just …come right out and say it.

RUSSELL:  I’m waiting. Been waiting all week.

NICHOLSON:  They don’t want you to run, Russ.

(pause)

RUSSELL:  Come again?

NICHOLSON:  They don’t want you to run.

LIBBY:  I knew it.

RUSSELL:  Why?

NICHOLSON:  They want Peterson.

RUSSELL:  Pete Peterson?

NICHOLSON:  He’s worked his way up. Been lieutenant governor for eight years.

RUSSELL:  Any man who would be lieutenant governor for eight years deserves to stay there.

NICHOLSON:  He’s worked the state, Russ. Been to every single county.

RUSSELL:  I have a record of government service.

NICHOLSON:  County Commissioner is…nice. But it’s not a real high office, Russ, and you know it.

RUSSELL:  I have been active in the Republican party for…

NICHOLSON:  I know.

RUSSELL:  I have bankrolled…

NICHOLSON:  You have been more than generous.

RUSSELL:  And Crawley said…

* * * * * * *

From Act I, Scene Two

That night – the four kids in the back yard

DREW:  I really shouldn’t tell you this but…I’m seeing these people in Lawrence.

CHRIS:  Who?

DREW:  Promise not to tell?

CHRIS:  I promise.

DREW:  Swear?

CHRIS:  I swear.

DREW:  (looks around; conspiratorially)  They’re communists, man.

CHRIS:  Really?

DREW:  Yeah. Real communists. It’s so cool.

CHRIS:  Wow.  (pauses)  What’s that mean exactly? Communist.

DREW:  They share everything. I mean everything. Even girlfriends.

CHRIS:  Even girlfriends?

DREW:  Yeah. Personal property is wrong.

ELIZABETH:  Since when are girlfriends property?

DREW:  Any money they make, they put it all into one pile and it belongs to everybody.

CHRIS:  They even share girlfriends?

DREW:  One of them is a girl. She sleeps with all of them.

CHRIS:  Wow.

DREW:  No shit, wow.

ELIZABETH:  I didn’t know communism was so sexual.

DREW:  There’s a lot you don’t know.

ELIZABETH:  Maybe that’s just the American take on it. Can you see Lenin and Stalin sharing a girlfriend?
(shudders) Ew.

DREW:  You don’t know anything.

ELIZABETH:  I think communism has more to do with economics than sex.

DREW:  Don’t listen to her. She tries to take the fun out of everything.

ELIZABETH:  This is a revolution about fun?

DREW:  Hell yes.  (puts joint into roach clip)  It’s about learning how to live. We never knew how to
live until now.

ELIZABETH:  Really?

DREW:  It’s all going to be beautiful. Soon as we get rid of all the pigs and plastic people.

ELIZABETH:  Which is it with you? Peace and love or kill all the pigs?

DREW:  Depends on how we feel when the revolution goes down.

DAVID:  Are you getting rid of mom and dad?

DREW:  What do you think, David? Are they plastic?

DAVID:  No.

DREW:  Of course they are.

DAVID:  Why?

DREW:  (ticking off reasons on his fingers)  They have money. They support the war. They’ve never been stoned. They don’t listen to rock and roll.

CHRIS:  Mom goes to church and she makes us go with her.

DREW:  See?

CHRIS:  Dad owns a television station, and now he says we can’t even watch it.

DREW:  Dig it, man. Plastic.

DAVID:  You’re going to kill mom and dad?

DREW:  Hey…who knows?

DAVID:  You can’t do that!

ELIZABETH:  David…

DAVID:  I’m going to tell!

CHRIS:  Ssshhh. He’s not going to kill mom and dad.  (pauses; to Chris)  Are you?

DREW:  Keep everybody guessing. That’s my motto.

ELIZABETH:  You’re so full of it, Drew.

DREW:  What do you know?

ELIZABETH:  You have no idea why you’re doing this. You just copy whatever you see on tv.

DREW:  I don’t copy. I’m an original.

ELIZABETH:  Original butthead.

DAVID:  Are you going to kill mom and dad?

DREW:  No, I’m not going to kill mom and dad. Sheesh.

CHRIS:  Do communists let you smoke pot?

DREW:  Hell yes. That’s what their countries are built on.

CHRIS:  Sign me up, man. (takes another puff)

ELIZABETH:  We’re not workers, Drew.

DREW:  Maybe you’re not.

ELIZABETH:  You don’t even mow the yard anymore.

DREW:  I drove a tractor. And the wheat harvest? That time on the combine?

ELIZABETH:  Oh, one time. Big deal.

DREW:  You’re bringing me down here, babe.

ELIZABETH:  You can’t be a communist, Drew.

DREW:  Why not?

ELIZABETH:  Because we’re rich.

DREW:  Every communist in Lawrence has a trust fund.

ELIZABETH:  Oh God!

DREW:  What?

ELIZABETH:  You don’t even know the stupid things you’re saying.

Othaniel MacQuilllin, or, I Am An American, a tragedy

Othaniel, or, I Am An American, a tragedy

A telling in a strict Greek tragic style the O.J. Simpson story.  Found not guilty the celebration at his mansion is interrupted by the ghost of his murdered wife, who slowly drives him mad with grief, rage, and longing. 

3 black men, 2 black women, 1 white male, 1 white woman; simple set.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

ODETTE
After happiness pain is doubled.
You should know what you once had.
(pauses; opens her arms)
I’m here for you again.

(he embraces her deeply, gratefully, and she
holds him tightly and with love)

OTHANIEL
Ah.

ODETTE
Yes.

OTHANIEL
From this dream I should never wake.

ODETTE
Othaniel.

OTHANIEL
That in these arms I should know forever.

ODETTE
My husband.

OTHANIEL
That I’m your man and you know no other.

ODETTE
None.

OTHANIEL
None but me.

ODETTE
Only you.

OTHANIEL
(gestures to horizon)
When you walk with me,
don’t the waters of the world, they part?

ODETTE
They do.

OTHANIEL
That wherever we go a long hallway of smiles
is there to greet us?

ODETTE
Everyone always happy to see us.

OTHANIEL
You dressed in furs that I would buy
and drenched in jewels that I had given.

ODETTE
A queen you made me.

OTHANIEL
A king and queen! The world our toy!

ODETTE
The best for the best you would always say.

OTHANIEL
Oh later, later was the best.
We shut the door to the world,
just you and me,
and go up those velvet stairs…

ODETTE
Mmm.

OTHANIEL
On your bare shoulders
your hair like fire.

ODETTE
You loved my hair
when it hung down.

OTHANIEL
And your deep kisses I would drink.

ODETTE
Hot and sweet, and only for you.

OTHANIEL
Your flesh wrapped round me
like silk and satin.

ODETTE
Wet with sweat and passion, yes.

OTHANIEL
And I a man all night,
and never enough of you!

ODETTE
Never.

OTHANIEL
Never!

ODETTE
They were my best days too, my love.

(she kisses his cheek and pushes away from him; pause)

OTHANIEL
Now wait a minute. My time can’t be up.

ODETTE
But it is.

OTHANIEL
That wasn’t no hour.

ODETTE
Maybe it was. It flew.

OTHANIEL
That wasn’t no hour.

ODETTE
Who can measure time?  Especially as it passes?
Try to measure water by your hand in a river.

OTHANIEL
I say when it’s over, woman. I say when it’s over.

ODETTE
I wanted you to remember.  I didn’t come to give it back.

OTHANIEL
You’re playing with me.

ODETTE
I told you I would.

OTHANIEL
There ain’t no woman leaves me till I tell her it’s time to go!

(ODETTE flees, exits L)

OTHANIEL (cont’d)
Odette! Odette!
(pauses)
Oh my God. I’ve done it again.
(pauses)
Hell, let her go. Go on, stay gone!
(pauses, sinks to his knees)
Odette….

(KEESHA rises, knife in hand, walks past her father,
peering into the darkness; turns back to him)

KEESHA
Daddy…

OTHANIEL
What you want?

KEESHA
It’s midnight and you mutter in this garden.
The party’s broke up and people gone home.

OTHANIEL
What you got that knife for?

KEESHA
If I could see her I would kill her.

OTHANIEL
No, you wouldn’t.

KEESHA
Yes, I would.

OTHANIEL
Give that to me.  (from his knees takes knife from her)

KEESHA
Her memory’s made you a slave,
the same her face did while she was living.

OTHANIEL
Go away. I don’t even see you.

KEESHA
Daddy…what is it that you say to me,
when a white woman makes me invisible?
That even her ghost makes me not even here?
Am I not a beautiful color, soft as this night?
The color of coffee, a butternut brown,
tan and black and smooth?
Am I not tender in my darkened skin,
my soul sweet with the years of its making?
Am I not the color of your mother and of my own,
three women who loved you and did you no wrong,
who have given you nothing except our sweet kisses?

OTHANIEL
Go in the house.

KEESHA
What spell you think this woman gives
that you can find no other?

OTHANIEL
Keesha!

KEESHA
This trophy wife who’s now dead weight
around your neck forever!

OTHANIEL
Go!

KEESHA
You don’t know how you hurt me,
with all the things that you do.

OTHANIEL
I said go!

(KEESHA stares at him, and weeping, exits)

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