Author: johnpaulporter (page 2 of 3)

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.

City of Women

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. IN THE RED ROOM everyone we have met before meets at a cafe.  4 women, 1 man, simple set.

* * * * * * * * * *

(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 some-
thing 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

Men and Women Talking Love and Sex

Synopsis: A relationship is followed from its giddy beginning to its bitter end, replete with a running commentary from a peanut gallery of friends, examining the different expectations of the sexes, the sexual nitty gritty, the how and why it all goes wonderful and then goes bad, all done in a wildly exuberant theatrical style. 3 men, 2 women, simple set.

Time: The present. 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. Three arches US for quick entrances/exits.

* * * * * * * * * *

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?

(they all stare at TOM for a moment

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.  When he’s dead there’s going to be a line of chicks at his grave.  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
Yeah, yeah, I know.
(beat)
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; CAYLOR turns to her

ANNIE
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 them both a glass 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 the rest he figures
he’ll just have to teach me.

(they laugh

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
Now wait a minute…

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?

ANNIE
Part time at best.

(a beat, a sip of wine

CLARINDA
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.

(pause

CLARINDA
You had three chances to marry rich.

ANNIE
Oh no, not even close, kiddo.  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.

(pause

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

ANNIE
Really?  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 that kind.  Raised by pigs…and that’s a slander to pigs.
(pauses; begins to scan 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?  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.
(still 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

Three Days in Late Summer
a play

Synopsis: A rich family in a small Kansas town is followed over a period of twenty-five years, each act taking place on one day in summer during each of the last three decades of the 20th century.  What we fear and most try to hide leads to our destruction. Prosperity is a double edged sword.  Six men, two women, unit set.

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

[from Act One, Scene One

[Kansas, 1972]

(the back porch of a rich man’s house
on a summer day

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
Yes, you are.

LIBBY
Those kind of things make no difference to me anymore.
They’re earthly things.
(gets up)
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 again)
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 smiles a false smile; a car is heard driving
up, stopping, 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, a substantial man in his 50’s,
enters

FERGIS NICHOLSON
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, isn’t it?

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 got 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

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)
Wooo.

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.
(putting 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
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

Sample pages from…

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

Synopsis:  A telling in a Greek tragic style the O.J. Simpson story.

Returning to his mansion after being found not guilty the celebration is interrupted by the ghost of his murdered wife, who who makes Othaniel enact their past, driving him mad with grief, rage, and longing.  A tragic play in the classic sense, told in free hand verse.

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
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 he takes the 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,
Daddy, with all the things you do.

OTHANIEL
I said go!

(KEESHA stares at him, and weeping, exits

Miz MacQuillin

Sample pages from…

Miz MacQuillin
a play

Synopsis: A mother and her four daughters on a top of a hill in northwestern Georgia, 1863. A major Civil War battle breaks out about twenty miles away, a battle in which they have a husband, brother and son fighting. That night a wounded Yankee cavalry captain stumbles into their yard and they capture and chain him to a log. His presence, as well as the outcome of the battle, brings all their conflicts and fears to a boil. A play about the will to survive after life not only pushes you down, but insults you as well. 5 women, 2 men, single unit set.

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

(MOTHER, MARY RUTH, WILENE and SOPHIE
are outside working; after a few moments…

WILENE
She’s in there just playing, momma. She’s missing all
this work on purpose.

MOTHER
Fiona. Get yourself out here and get yourself busy.

FIONA (inside)
I’m busy in here, momma.

WILENE
She knew we had to pick the beans first thing this
morning, and she’s in there just prancing.

MARY RUTH
Oh, Wilene.

WILENE
It’s not fair, that’s all. If I have to work in this hot old
bean patch like a field hand then she should, too.

SOPHIE
It’s still morning, Wilene. It ain’t even hot yet.

WILENE
Crawlin round in the dirt like a pickaninny.

MARY RUTH
We always had to work in the garden, Wilene, even
before the war.

WILENE
Not stoop labor, we didn’t. Had us two slaves, and
daddy and the boys were around for that. Most I ever
done was clip roses.

SOPHIE
Listen to Miss Priss.

WILENE
It just rubs me wrong, that’s all. She’s always doin
something like this, momma, missing the work.

MOTHER
Fiona, you better get out here before your sister gives me a fit.

(FIONA enters; her dress is slightly dressier than
that of her sisters; she is the only one wearing shoes

FIONA
Who’s got their corset done up too tight this mornin?
As if I didn’t know.

WILENE
Oh my land, now would you look at that? She’s wearin
the shoes, momma.

MOTHER
Fiona…

WILENE
Look at that! She put on the good shoes to come out
here in the garden.

MOTHER
Wilene…

WILENE
If that don’t beat the britches off a cricket I don’t know
what does.

MOTHER
Fiona, what are you doing wearing the shoes?

FIONA
I got up this mornin and felt like wearing shoes.

SOPHIE
It ain’t Sunday, Fiona.

WILENE
It ain’t her turn to wear the shoes next. It’s mine.

MOTHER
Wilene, I am standing here with a hoe in my hand,
so I don’t think it is wise for you to be testing the limits
of my patience like you are doing. Now you will hush
your mouth and it will stay hushed.

WILENE
It ain’t fair, that’s all I’m saying.

MOTHER
Wilene!

FIONA
Go on and clobber her, momma. If I had money I’d
pay to see that.

MOTHER
You shut your mouth, too, young lady. And get them
shoes off right quick. I didn’t tell you it was time to
dress up this morning.

FIONA
Dress up.
(sits on porch; taking
off shoes; sullen)
One pair of shoes on this whole damn place and you
talk about dressing up.

MOTHER
Don’t you be muttering at me.

FIONA
I had the urge to feel pretty this morning. I should have
known it would make my little sister more insanely jealous
than she usually is.

WILENE
I ain’t jealous of you.

FIONA
Oh, pish posh. Are too.

WILENE
Am not.

FIONA
Are too and always will be. Course, the milk of my human
kindness flows sweet, not sour, and I have always had the
deepest sympathy for you, my dear, having that problem
with your face.

WILENE
What problem with my face?

FIONA
You have not regarded yourself in a mirror this morning?

WILENE
Make her stop.

FIONA
Those awful little red splotches you been breaking out with
in a vengeance? They’re back.

WILENE
Momma!

FIONA
I could tell from all the way over there.

MOTHER
I’m a-gonna lock one of you in the root cellar before this
day is over!

(this stops them; the root cellar is not an idle threat
and is a punishment neither wants; uneasy pause

SOPHIE
We used to get new shoes. Fore the war.

FIONA
Oh, before the war, before the war.

(FIONA hums to herself and barefoot now, begins
to dance around the yard in a graceful loops of a
ballroom waltz; the others stop their work and watch

WILENE
Look at her now.

MOTHER
What do you think you’re doing?

FIONA
Dancing.

MARY RUTH
You dance just like you hear music, Fiona.

FIONA
I do. In my head.

SOPHIE
What kind of music are you hearing? Banjos or fiddles?

FIONA
Violins.

WILENE
She’s crazy, momma.

MOTHER
You get a hat on your head, Fiona. I do believe this sun
is baking your poor brain.

FIONA
Oh, I don’t need a hat. I got that creamy skin the sun
don’t even bother.

MOTHER
You are gonna have a bee hind that’s gonna give you
some bother you don’t stop acting so silly.

WILENE
Want me to go cut you a switch, momma?

MOTHER
I will handle this, Wilene.

WILENE
If I ever saw a body that needed a good switchin, it’s her.

MOTHER
Fiona, get over here and get to work. We’re just about
finished with this bean patch, and you ain’t even done a lick.

WILENE
She does it on purpose.

FIONA
I just felt like dancing.

(FIONA goes to the bean patch, lazily picking
beans and dropping them into her apron

WILENE
Make no mistake, momma. The devil’s in that girl. Why
she hasn’t been burned at the stake is just a wonderment
of the world.

MOTHER
Wilene…

WILENE
Why lightning hasn’t flashed out of the sky and seared her
to cinders is just an everlasting puzzlement to me.

MOTHER
Goddammit!

WILENE
Well, it just gnaws at me, momma. If she had gone off and
got married like she was supposed to, she wouldn’t be
around here to just gnaw at me.

MOTHER
Sophie…go cut me a switch.

FIONA
I’ll go get you one.

MOTHER
I said Sophie!

SOPHIE
Momma…

MOTHER
You get me a branch from one of them peach trees. About
yay long and as big as my finger.

SOPHIE
Momma…

MOTHER
You know what a switch is! You go get me one now!

SOPHIE
Yes, momma.

(SOPHIE exits R; pause

FIONA
My, looks like we have picked this whole patch plum clean
this morning. Well, many hands make light the work.

MOTHER
I have stood your sass all I am gonna stand. Both of you.

WILENE
It’s her fault, momma. She makes me do it.

MOTHER
Both of you too old to be doing this to me. My ears are
overflowing with your squalling and your belly aching and
I ain’t a-gonna listen to it anymore. I have buried more
sorrow than the two of you will ever know. And if any
one around here is gonna get to squalling, if any one
around here is gonna get sympathy, it’s gonna be me!
For living with you!
(pauses)
Now! Sophie! Bring me that switch!

(SOPHIE enters, silently hands MOTHER a
switch, moves to one side

MOTHER (cont’d)
(brandishing switch)
Too old to be doin this.

WILENE
(sniffling)
Yes, momma.

MOTHER
Turn around and bend over!

(sniffling, WILENE turns bends over

FIONA
You’re right, momma. We’re all too old to be doin this.
And you know, you can whip me all you like, it ain’t
gonna make no difference.

(FIONA turns around and bends over

(MOTHER is enraged; she turns and attacks the
chopping block with the switch, viciously hitting it
once, twice, three times

(pause

(MOTHER throws down the switch and storms
into the house

(FIONA and WILENE both look around and
straighten up

FIONA (cont’d)
Well now. That wasn’t so bad.

MARY RUTH
You shouldn’t be wearing momma out like that.

SOPHIE
Both of you just moan and carry on like I don’t know
what all.

WILENE
It’s her fault.

MARY RUTH
Momma does have a breaking point, you know.

(MOTHER barrels out the back door; she has
a shotgun which she points at her two daughters

SOPHIE
Momma!

(WILENE turns and again bends over; FIONA
puts up her hands; pause

FIONA
If you shoot Wilene in her bee hind, I do not believe
it will kill her.
(pauses)
Stand up and turn around, honey. I don’t believe you
want to meet your Maker looking like that.

MARY RUTH
Don’t you know how to be serious?

FIONA
Well, of course I know how to be serious. I just don’t
feel like it this morning.

SOPHIE
Momma…put down the gun.

MOTHER
You’re right. You’re too old.

FIONA
Does this mean we are now at the correct age to be shot?

MOTHER
Sass. That’s all I ever get from you, Fiona.
(cocks a barrel)
Sass and back talk.

WILENE
Momma, don’t shoot!

MOTHER
Stand up and turn around, Wilene!

(WILENE does, putting her hands up in the air

(uneasy pause

MARY RUTH
We’re finished with the beans, momma.
(empties other baskets
into one basket)
Got us a good mess of em. See? They’ll be right tasty
for supper, and we can can the rest, or pickle them if you want.
(pauses)
Why don’t we start with the peaches? That way we can work
in the shade and get out of the sun for a spell.
(pauses)
Momma, you really don’t want to shoot anyone. You’re just tired.

WILENE
The only one you would wanna shoot would be maybe a Yankee.

SOPHIE
We’ll go find you a Yankee, momma, if you wanna shoot someone.

MARY RUTH
Please put the gun down, momma, and let’s get back to work.
We got all them peaches we wanna get canned today.

SOPHIE
I’ll help you bring the kettle out, momma, and get the fire going.

MARY RUTH
We’ll do it outside like we did last year. It’s so much more pleasant
and won’t heat up the house so.
(pauses)
Momma…?

MOTHER
(lowers gun)
I have already lost one son in this war. And if I lose the other one
God better have mercy on your souls, because I have stood all I
am ever gonna stand. Is that clear?

WILENE
Yes, momma.

FIONA
Yes, momma.

MOTHER
You have pushed me right to the edge of perdition. Why God took
my Joshua and left me you four is a plague.

The Clan of the MacQuillins

The Clan of the MacQuillins

Synopsis: An epic tale in twelve scenes with no scenery, set in Scotland, Ireland and the New World of the 17th Century, based on a legend in the author’s family. A grant of land, a broken romance, a blood feud, a grand adventure, and fate — which always makes certain
each of us will have to shoulder at least one unique burden in life — the one most difficult for each of us to bear. 8 men, 2 women, no set.

Set: A bare stage. A place for imagination and theatricality. Almost nothing is needed beyond a strong wooden table, benches, and two poles.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Scene Six: in order to settle a long standing feud, two families meet to parley:

(they pour two more and drink

UNCLE WILLIAM (cont’d)
Mr. MacQuillin…

ANGUS
Call me Angus.

UNCLE WILLIAM
Sir, I have a daughter. Arlena. And she is ready for marriage.

ANGUS
Mmm.

UNCLE WILLIAM
Now I will tell you true, she has had bad luck with men.

ROY
The first man she was to marry, fell from a horse
and broke his neck.

UNCLE WILLIAM
The second man she was to marry, was caught out
upon the road in the rain, took a chill and died.

ANGUS
So why would I want this bad luck woman to marry
into my family?

UNCLE WILLIAM
She is my favorite daughter, and it breaks my heart
to see her mourn so.

ANGUS
This should be my affair?

UNCLE WILLIAM
She is comely.

ROY
Very pretty.

UNCLE WILLIAM
Not deserving of the misfortune that has come to her.

ANGUS
Do any of us deserve misfortune?

MACDUFF
Some more than others.

RANKIN
Some more than all.

UNCLE WILLIAM
But not my Arlena. A heart of pure gold.

ANGUS
Then she should have no trouble finding a husband.

MACDUFF
Indeed, she does not.

ROY
She does not.

UNCLE WILLIAM
But she saw one of your sons from her window.

ANGUS
Who?

UNCLE WILLIAM
His name is Thomas I believe.

ANGUS
Oh.
(looks around, realizes)
Well, he’s not here today.

FRANK
That’s right. He’s off.

RANKIN
On an errand.

UNCLE WILLIAM
This son of yours, this Thomas, is he a good man?

ANGUS
Good?

UNCLE WILLIAM
Is he honest?

ANGUS
Mmm…

UNCLE WILLIAM
A good worker?

ANGUS
Well, if beaten.

UNCLE WILLIAM
Pardon?

ANGUS
He can work. All us MacQuillins can work.

UNCLE WILLIAM
These two young people, they should meet.

ANGUS
Of course they should meet.

UNCLE WILLIAM
Soon.

ANGUS
Very soon. But I am sure you are knowing, sir,
that marriage is heavy burden on a man.

UNCLE WILLIAM
If there is a marriage between my
daughter and your son, then we will
give to them as their very own,
that land we now dispute.

ANGUS
You mean the land that should be ours anyway?

UNCLE WILLIAM
And I will gift to them on their wedding day,
as well as to you, sir, twenty fine sheep.

ANGUS
Twenty?

UNCLE WILLIAM
Forty, altogether.

ROY
Twenty for you, twenty for them.

UNCLE WILLIAM
And a nice little cottage I would help them build.

ANGUS
Well…

UNCLE WILLIAM
As well as a case of whiskey.

ANGUS
A case?

UNCLE WILLIAM
All right. Two cases.

ANGUS
How many jugs come in a case?

MACDUFF
Six.

ANGUS
Ah! That would be…
(counts on his fingers)

RANKIN
Twelve.

ANGUS
Twelve altogether!

UNCLE WILLIAM
And this is a way we can settle the differences
between us, as well as throw a huge feast in the bargain.

ANGUS
We won’t have to drink my whiskey, will we, at this feast?

UNCLE WILLIAM
Of course not.

ROY
We will bring the drink and won’t be stingy.

UNCLE WILLIAM
A feast like you have never seen.

MACDUFF
The MacDuffs are good at such things.

UNCLE WILLIAM
So what say you?

ANGUS
Well now.
(considers)
The sun is out. It is a beautiful day.
And I believe this is “nearly” a fair bargain.

UNCLE WILLIAM
Nearly?

ANGUS
(sighs)
It is a great burden to lose a son such as Thomas.

FRANK
A good worker.

ANGUS
And I believe he would make a fine
husband for your daughter.

FRANK
Hard worker.

RANKIN
Let’s not overdo it, Frank.

ANGUS
So we might be needing just a little bit more,
to set this whole matter right.

MACDUFF
The price is too steep.

UNCLE WILLIAM
That is for me to say, Joseph.
(pauses)
If this Thomas is a good man, and he
and my daughter are married, I will
not only give all that I have already promised,
I will let you have use of the small pasture
across the road.

MACDUFF
It is too much, William.

RANKIN
You must truly love your daughter.

MACDUFF
He has to.

ROY
She has episodes, you know.

UNCLE WILLIAM
Roy!

ROY
Sorry.

ANGUS
What?

MARY
Episodes?

UNCLE WILLIAM
There is nothing wrong with my daughter.

ANGUS
I’m sure there isn’t.

MACDUFF
Not a girl in Ulster comes with such a dowry.

ANGUS
But you’ll be getting MacQuillin blood in your family,
and from the likes of it I can tell you need it.

UNCLE WILLIAM
What say you, sir?

ANGUS
I say these two young lovers, this
future man and wife, they should meet.

UNCLE WILLIAM
That would be good. The day before Sabbath of this
coming week,
you will come to my place, and there we will throw a feast.

ANGUS
A little get together of the clans.

UNCLE WILLIAM
Aye.

ANGUS
It is good. It is good this is happening.

UNCLE WILLIAM
You will talk to your son?

ANGUS
Ohh, I will talk to him.

UNCLE WILLIAM
I wish he were here now so I could meet him.
Look him square in the eye.

ANGUS
There will be time enough for that.

UNCLE WILLIAM
Good. Much was accomplished here today.

ANGUS
Indeed it was.

UNCLE WILLIAM
And if all works well, why this summer, a wedding.

ANGUS
And we shall be related.
(pauses)
That does give a man pause.

UNCLE WILLIAM
It shall be fine.

ANGUS
Indeed it shall.
(goes to him)
Now admit it, MacDuff, now that you can.
You moved the marker and took that piece of land.

MACDUFF
(a near acknowledgment)
Heh. Let’s go, Roy.

(MACDUFF and ROY exit

ANGUS
Ha! Knew it! Mr. William, a pleasure. A rare pleasure indeed.

UNCLE WILLIAM
We shall see you, sir.

ANGUS
Oh, very soon, sir. Good day to you.

(UNCLE WILLIAM exits

ANGUS (cont’d)
By God’s pajamas, we have done it!

MARY
Don’t use such language.

FRANK
Who would have thought Thomas
would ever turn out to be so valuable?

(ANGUS and FRANK laugh

RANKIN
I don’t know, pa.

ANGUS
Don’t know? I am amazed he has turned out
to be good for anything at all.

FRANK
And the bargain you drove, pa.

ANGUS
Getting the pasture across the road!

FRANK
Yes!

ANGUS
Oh, I can drive a sharp one when I have to.

MARY
They say she has episodes.

ANGUS
What is an episode? What does that even mean?

RANKIN
She might be mad.

ANGUS
Mad?

FRANK
She is not.

ANGUS
She couldn’t be.

RANKIN
Why give so much if she isn’t? Why
so load her down with spoils if she isn’t
somehow…touched?

(pause

TEAGUE
Yonder comes Thomas.

ANGUS
Oh, late as always.

TEAGUE
I will run tell him the news.

(TEAGUE exits

RANKIN
Surely they could get another bride groom for less.
Why pay so much? And for Thomas?

ANGUS
Why are you always so gloomy?

RANKIN
I don’t know, pa. It comes from thinking.

ANGUS
We have a chance to be related
to the richest people in the district
and you say don’t know?

RANKIN
A distillery is not a good enough reason
to arrange a marriage.

FRANK
But land is.

MARY
And to have a little peace, that is worth it.

ANGUS
Not a day’s work have I gotten out of Thomas.
Ever!
So now he can do his part to help this family
and marry this girl.

(THOMAS enters, followed by TEAGUE

THOMAS
So. I am to marry Arlena MacDuff?

ANGUS
You will meet her, yes.

THOMAS
What makes you think I will marry a woman
I have never even met?

ANGUS
You will meet her.

THOMAS
A year ago I was ready to marry Maeve.

ANGUS
That was a year ago.

THOMAS
Oh, but I could not marry her
because you had a fight with her family.
But now I can marry Arlena?
Even though her family tried to cheat you?

ANGUS
There is much involved in this, young man.

THOMAS
Teague has told me what is involved.

FRANK
Land.

ANGUS
Fine pieces of land.

THOMAS
I don’t care.

ANGUS
You will care!

THOMAS
I will not marry this mutt! I will not marry this Arlena MacDuff!

(pause

TEAGUE
She is not a mutt.

MARY
Son, please now. They are a clan far bigger than us.

FRANK
You are young and don’t know the
pleasures of marriage.

THOMAS
I know the pleasures of women, if not of marriage.

MARY
And it is time to stop that kind of sinning, son.

ANGUS
Do you think the Lord God will bless you,
if you keep carrying on like you do?

RANKIN
Remember what the church teaches, Thomas.
A good time is nearly always followed by pain or death.

ANGUS
Rankin.

RANKIN
Or occasionally worse, marriage.

MARY
Oh, shut up.

THOMAS
It will be my choice who I want to
settle with.

FRANK
In the old days, there was none of this meeting before marriage.

MARY
Son, please.

TEAGUE
She is not so bad.

THOMAS
Not so bad?

TEAGUE
She is not so bad at all. We saw her that day, Thomas.

THOMAS
She is strange and holds her head like this.

TEAGUE
She was up in the window, far away, how can you tell?

RANKIN
They say she has episodes.

THOMAS
What kind?

RANKIN
I don’t know. Maybe she chews her hair.

FRANK
They say she is a pretty woman.

TEAGUE
She is!

FRANK
So there. She is not some hag. You will learn to love her.

ANGUS
With that dowry, she could have the pick
of all Ulster as her very own. And she chooses you.

RANKIN
She must be mad.

FRANK
She must.

TEAGUE
Meet her, Thomas.

ANGUS
You will meet her, that’s all I am
saying.

MARY
And you will do your best to be a kind
and good gentleman to this woman.

FRANK
There is a feast in this. Come on now.

THOMAS
(considers)
All right. I will meet her.

ANGUS
Good.

THOMAS
If you wish to sell out the family honor for just a few sheep…

FRANK
(gives his brother a drink)
Sheep and land and whiskey.

MARY
And peace.

ANGUS
I am well satisfied with the bargain that has been struck.

THOMAS
This is good whiskey.

MARY
It is their very own.

THOMAS
(signals for more whiskey)
So, you are saying there will not be a war between us and them?

ANGUS
That’s what I am saying.

THOMAS
A pity.

ANGUS
Thomas, I am no longer young and do not
wish to get up every morning and fight
the world. Let your father have a happy old age, boy, with his two cases of whiskey.

THOMAS
I will meet her.

ANGUS
Good.

THOMAS
But beyond that I promise naught.

RANKIN
Why would they pay so much?

THOMAS
To have me? Pshaw. Of course they would pay much to have me as a husband.

(THOMAS drinks

END OF SCENE

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