Many Mansions

                                                 Act I, Scene i

Music starts five minutes before curtain: a selection from Leonard Cohen’s “Dear Heather.” Lights rise on a spacious, but messy living room of a large country home. The furniture is plush, but showing age. Scattered around the room are many objects of art, a couple vases of withering flowers. There are several classical paintings on the walls, and near the fireplace mantle, a scattering of several formal portraits, the most prominent of a woman in her fifties, and another of an elderly man, Puritan in his stern demeanor, like he could have been one of the judges who presided at the Salem witch trials.

         There are two rear exits to hallways which lead to the innumerable other rooms of the mansion; a side exit, stage left, which leads to an offstage kitchen; and stage right a door to the outside. Soledad, a pretty and elegantly dressed caretaker/housekeeper, sits in an armchair reading a Bible, then picking up a paperback, while eating off a TV tray. Across from her, Edmund, an elderly man in pajamas, binoculars around his neck, sits in a partially reclined lazy-boy, also eating off a tray, with a candle on it, and playing with toy cars and trucks. Music down

 EDMUND: (making car and truck noises) Mmmmmmmmm. Pt,pt,pt,pt,pt pt,pt,…

SOLEDAD: Do you have to, sir? I can’t concentrate.

EDMUND: Do you have to, Sir? I can’t concentrate. (making even louder noises, then sitting up, looking around his couch and table) Where’s my van?

SOLEDAD: Look. It’s right there in front of you.   On your table.      

 EDMUND: (looking through his binoculars) My red van.

 SOLEDAD: (coming over to help him find it, looking in the seams of the chair) Can’t you ever let me read?… (Edmund gropes her; she slaps him.)   You stop that, sir. What have I told you?… Now you can find your little red truck all by yourself…. (indignantly walks away, towards the fireplace; Edmund starts to sniffle.) And don’t think slobbering is going to get you anyplace…. And don’t you hold your breath…. Don’t you do it. I’ve had about enough of you.

She looks into a mirror above the mantle that hangs between the two portraits, fixes her hair, turns sideways to examine her shape. Edmund picks a rag doll sitting on the table with his trucks.

EDMUND: (to the rag-doll)   I’ve had about enough of you.

SOLEDAD: Hmm. He won’t even recognize me…. Seven years is a long time. (to the portrait of the 50-ish woman) Don’t look at me that way. (snaps her portrait light off; crosses to Edmund) Are you finished with your supper now? (Door-bell rings.) Ooh. That may be Jerry now, Sir.

EDMUND: That’s maybe Jerry now…. (startled) Jerry? Jerry who?

SOLEDAD: Your son, Jerry. (wipes Edmunds face with a towel) He’s coming to see us. I told you. Can’t you remember anything?

Edmund lowers the lazy-boy into full recline, and pulls a cover up over his face, as Soledad primps herself in front of the mirror, then opens the door. Jerry bursts in wearing a sheepskin coat, cowboy hat, and jeans.

 JERRY: Soledad!

SOLEDAD: (putting her hands over her mouth) Jerry?…

JERRY: Soli…. Mi poca senorita. Tiempo largo. (They hug.) How long has it been?

SOLEDAD: Seven years. I’m not a senorita anymore. Good lord, come in. Come in.  

JERRY: You didn’t recognize me, did you?

SOLEDAD: (in the doorway, Rhonda clears her throat ) Oh, there’s someone else. I’m sorry,…   I’m Soledad.

Rhonda enters, strikingly good looking, wearing a light fur stole. She looks immediately around, but not at Soledad, who’s offered her hand. Rhonda hands her luggage to her.

 SOLEDAD: Oh, my lord. Miss Vicki….   It’s you. I thought—-

RHONDA: Rhonda….   Rhonda Ramsay.

SOLEDAD: Of course. Miss Ramsay. I’m sorry. I’m just nervous, that’s all. I’ve never met a movie star in person before. We saw you in “Six Shooter.” So around here you’ve always been Miss Vicki. (to Jerry) Oh dear. Your father’s sleeping, it looks like. Shall I wake him? I tried to tell him you were coming, but—

JERRY: (glances at Edmund in his chair, the cover over his head) Is that him?

SOLEDAD: (setting Rhonda’s luggage at the stage right hallway door) That’s him, sir.

JERRY: Good God. Has he shrunk?… Is he eating?

SOLEDAD: Oh, he’s eating alright. He still likes his pleasures, Jerry. He’s got a lot of energy, you’ll be surprised, when he wakes up…. Too much energy. (to Rhonda) Please, ma’am. Let me take your coat. (Rhonda gives Soledad her stole and immediately starts looking around; Soledad pets it.) This is pretty.

JERRY: Is this where he sleeps now?

SOLEDAD: He won’t go to his room anymore…. I understand him. If I was dying, I wouldn’t want to sleep in an upstairs room all alone.

JERRY: Dying? Why do you say dying, Soledad?

SOLEDAD:   I don’t say it. He says it…. Only to change his … clothes — that’s the only time we go upstairs now.

JERRY: I take it Richard hasn’t arrived yet.

SOLEDAD: Not yet, Jerry.

JERRY: He should have been here by now…. What are these little toy cars all about?

SOLEDAD:   Sir plays with them…. Among other things.

JERRY: So this is what’s left of a brilliant mind. Toy cars and … (picking up a doll next to Edmund’s couch) baby dolls?…. Does he read?

SOLEDAD:   Not by himself…. I read to him. He likes me to read to him to sleep.

JERRY: (holding up a toy van) What? Dick and Jane and Spot?

SOLEDAD:   Oh. You found his little red van. He was looking for that. (takes it and puts it in her pocket.) No, Jerry. I read him Shakespeare. Or one of your books.

JERRY: (crossing to Rhonda) One of my books? Father never liked my books.

SOLEDAD: I slip one in. Or the Bible. I don’t know what he knows…. I think he’s not hearing, but then he gets mad when I don’t say the words right. Nebecanezer, Apocalypse …. I’d like to show you my Nebecanezer, he says. What does he mean by that?

RHONDA: (looking at the portraits flanking the mirror) Who are these, Jerry?

JERRY:   The lady. That’s Richard’s mother….

RHONDA: This is the infamous Martha. Your ex-wife?

JERRY:   You might say.

RHONDA: You “might” say?

JERRY: We didn’t last long.

RHONDA: Rather prominently displayed, I’d say,… in your father’s house.

JERRY: Well, father was always very fond of her. She was his personal secretary…. And … you know,… she is Richard’s mother….

RHONDA: God. I shouldn’t have come. Jerry, did you share a woman with your father?

JERRY: I don’t know…. I never knew. Mother was still alive at the time. Father and Mother were still married. Formally married. I had no idea I might be encroaching on his territory.

RHONDA: What a family.

JERRY: I had come home for a little R and R. Here was this pretty woman in the house.

RHONDA: Okay. Enough.

JERRY: That was before she got … That was before she put on weight.

RHONDA: Please. I’ve heard enough…. Who’s this one?

JERRY: He’s my grandfather. A psychiatrist. I never knew him. He was much older than Father. Legend has it he heard Jung and Freud give the Clark lectures in Boston in 1909…. But I’m sure Father will tell you all about it when he wakes up.

SOLEDAD: (having been listening curiously) Oh, you won’t get much information out of him of that kind anymore, Jerry.

JERRY: (crossing back to Edmund’s couch) No…. I guess not.

SOLEDAD: He doesn’t know who he is himself.

JERRY: Right. It’s going to take me awhile to get used to that.

SOLEDAD: When he’s not playing with his dolls and little cars, he thinks he’s King Lear. Or Hamlet. MacBeth.

JERRY: Jesus.

SOLEDAD: No. Not Jesus. But all those characters he used to play. This room is like his stage now. And these pictures, they’re in the play, too.

JERRY: Oh, Soli…. This has turned into a terrible life.

SOLEDAD: (shyly) For me, do you mean?

JERRY: For you. (points at Edmund) For all of us.

SOLEDAD: Sir’s mostly happy, Jerry. Except when someone dies. Cordelia is the worst. Second is Lady MacBeth. It’s like a real death to him. Every time…. Then he can be a handful. And when he holds his breath….

JERRY: He holds his breath?

SOLEDAD: When he’s upset. Then he passes out.

JERRY: He holds his breath until he passes out? How long has this been going on?

SOLEDAD: Not too long, sir. Since Martha died…. He thinks I’m Martha now.

JERRY: No!…. Christ.

SOLEDAD: It doesn’t matter, does it?…. If it gives him some comfort.

JERRY: (sitting) Whew! Suddenly I’m immensely tired. (looks at his watch) Richard should have been here by now.

SOLEDAD: It’s not that I can’t take care of Dr. Mallory, Jerry. Even when he cries, when he remembers who he is, when holds his breath, all that. It’s when he started to … wet himself,… He needs a manservant for that. To change him. To bathe him. You know … That’s why I wrote you.

JERRY: … Soli. Listen. I’ve already talked to Richard about it. We’ve decided to put Father … into a home.

SOLEDAD: … Into a home? He’s in a home right here…. His own home…. Put him into an old folks home, are you saying?

JERRY: They don’t call them “old folks homes” anymore…. Assisted care, something like that. He’ll have his own little two room apartment…. It’s a done deal, Soledad. Arrangements have already been made.

SOLEDAD: Will I go with him?


Rhonda loudly clears her throat.

SOLEDAD: Oh, I was afraid something like this would happen, if I wrote to you…. He’ll be terrified. He counts on me.

RHONDA: Do you have anything to offer in the way of refreshments, Miss?

SOLEDAD: I’m sorry, senora.   An ice tea? Lemonade?… A coffee?

RHONDA: A coffee would be nice, Solebad.

SOLEDAD: Coffee, yes. And some supper, perhaps? (picking up Edmund’s and her supper dishes) Everything’s already made. Todos. For everybody.

RHONDA: Just coffee, please. Strong coffee.

SOLEDAD: And you, Jerry? (Jerry and Soledad look at each other; she starts for the kitchen, but turns back to Jerry) What will become of the place, sir? If Dr. Mallory goes to the old folks home? (Rhonda clears her throat.) Coffee, ma’am. Coming right up.

Soledad exits into the kitchen.

RHONDA: Jesus…. Chatty little house help…. She’d never work for me.

JERRY: Shut up, Rhonda.

RHONDA: Shut up yourself. Don’t “shut up” me.

JERRY: She’s held this place together for years now.

RHONDA: Who do you think you are? Shutting me up.

JERRY: Her name’s Soledad. Not Solebad.

RHONDA: (standing up) Whatever….   Look, she didn’t even take our luggage up.

JERRY: (crossing to fireplace) She’s Father’s housekeeper. His caretaker, not a bell hop.

RHONDA: (checking the dust on a coffee table with her finger)   Not much of one, it would appear. You’d think if she knew family was coming, she would have—- (notices Jerry looking at things) And stop being so damn grouchy with me!

JERRY: I’m out of sorts.

RHONDA: That makes two of us then…. I suppose it feels strange to you, being here again.

JERRY: (examining an urn on the fireplace mantle) Strange is not the word…. My mother’s ashes. Jesus. (picks up another urn; shows it to Rhonda) And here’s what’s left of Martha. We got a regular mausoleum going here. (tosses the urn from hand to hand)

RHONDA: For Christ’s sake, Jerry. Have respect for the dead.

JERRY: She can’t feel anything.

RHONDA: She was your wife once.   She felt enough to marry you….   You felt enough for her to marry her…. Damn you!… (takes the urn out of Jerry’s hand, returns it to the mantle) Can’t you act your age for once in your life?

JERRY: I don’t know how….   I’ve never been 60 before.

 RHONDA: You’re not 60. You just say “60” to irritate me…. You’re 59, and you know it. I don’t know why you insisted I come.

Jerry crosses to the door where his coat is hanging.

 JERRY: I didn’t insist you come?

RHONDA: You did.

JERRY: I asked you if you wanted to come, but I didn’t insist you come.

RHONDA: Where are you going? You’re not leaving me in this … mausoleum alone.

JERRY: I going to take a little run. A little jog around the grounds.

RHONDA: It’s dark. It’s ten-thirty.

JERRY: I used to live here, remember. I know my way around, even in the dark.

RHONDA: You’ve got a bottle on you, don’t you?… Damn it, Jerry. You promised.

JERRY: Search me. Go ahead. Find a bottle.

RHONDA: (searching his clothes, patting him down) I know you.

JERRY: Find a goddamn bottle.

RHONDA: You’re a Houdini, hiding this stuff.  

JERRY: There. Happy?

RHONDA: Happy?

Jerry exits, slamming the door behind him, waking Edmund up. Slowly he gains his feet and walks towards Rhonda, unbeknownst to her, looking at her through his binoculars.

 RHONDA: (opening the door, yelling out after him)   Happy trails to you, you old has-been…. I’m leaving you when we get home. And I mean it this time. (slams the door, kicks it, starts to cry, leaning her head against it)

 EDMUND: Cordelia?

Rhonda turns, screams, slides down the door in fright.    

EDMUND: O! That heaven’s vaults should crack. (leans over her) She’s gone forever. (feels her hand) No, no, no life!/ Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,/ and thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more,/ Never, never, never, never, never!

SOLEDAD: (returning with a coffee service, sees Edmund and Rhonda) Oh, God. Dios Mio. (puts down the tray, rushes over to them) Sir. Dr. Mallory. What are you doing?

EDMUND: She should have died hereafter./ There would have been time for such a word./ Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,/ Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,/ To the last syllable of recorded time;/And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

the way to dusty death. (As Soledad leads him to the couch, he yearns back towards Rhonda.) Out, out, brief candle!/Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player/ That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,/And then is heard no more; it is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing.

SOLEDAD: Get in your bed, now. Don’t cry. Please don’t cry. Go to sleep.

EDMUND: I want my red van.

SOLEDAD: Here’s your red van…. I found it. And here’s your baby. (hands him a rag doll, which immediately sooths him) … (returning to Rhonda) I’m so sorry, Miss Vicki. I mean, Miss Ramsay. He wouldn’t harm you. He’s a little lost, that’s all.

RHONDA: A little lost?

SOLEDAD: It could happen to any of us, when we get old.

RHONDA: He scared the gravy out of me.

SOLEDAD: It must be awful, not remembering who you are. (looking around) Where’s Jerry? Did he go to bed already?

RHONDA: He’s jogging.

SOLEDAD: Jogging?… He won’t be having coffee, then?

RHONDA: How should I know?

SOLEDAD: I’ll leave the pot here for him.

RHONDA: Do whatever you want for him? You probably already have. Many times.

SOLEDAD: (setting down the service, then stiffly) Will there be anything else, ma’am?

RHONDA: Yes. Stop calling me ma’am, Senora, all that jazz. And show me to my room.

SOLEDAD: Yes,… Mrs. Ramsay… Will it be the same room as … Jerry’s?

RHONDA:   What do you think?

SOLEDAD: I don’t know. I overheard you … arguing. That’s why I asked.

RHONDA: (at the stage right hallway exit)   Tell me something, Sol—- whatever you call yourself. How long have you worked here?… For Sir Edmund?

SOLEDAD: Going on fifteen years now.

RHONDA: How old were you then, when you first came?

SOLEDAD: I don’t remember. Seventeen. Eighteen.

RHONDA: Did Jerry live here … during that early time?

SOLEDAD: A couple times. Off and on. Jerry’s the one who brought me here. I didn’t know one word of English. Well, I knew three words. That’s all. Three words.

RHONDA: But then I’m sure you spoke the universal language fairly early.

SOLEDAD: Universal language?… What do you mean?

RHONDA: (taking a book out of her bag) I was always going to ask, if we ever had the pleasure to meet. I’m sure you’re familiar with Jerry’s books.(opens the book) I have the passage marked I wanted to read to you. Joshua Newhart. In Mexico. “Joshua wakes up, in the middle of the desert, driving a red pick-up. He has no idea where he is, where he’s been, or where he’s going. He looks at his face in the rear-view mirror and sees a stranger looking back at him, his eyes beaten black and blue, little slits, barely open.

“He arrives at a crossroads, a wooden sign with an arrow pointing right, Real de Catorce carved into the wood. He goes that way, no reason why. The road gets narrow, rocky. Ahead, standing between two cacti, a senorita is waving her arms. It looks like she has been freshly beaten up herself, but there is a thin ray of light pouring out of the center of her forehead. He stops the truck beside her and rolls down the window. ‘Me ayuda, por favor,’ Joshua lisps though his missing two front teeth. ‘Please help me. I don’t who I am.’ (tosses the book on the floor) That’s you, isn’t it?

SOLEDAD:   The senorita? That’s Maria.   In “Ghost Town.”

RHONDA: That’s how you and Jerry met…. You don’t have to play innocent with me.

SOLEDAD: None of us is innocent. Except the Blessed Virgin.

RHONDA: Oh. You talk like you might know the woman.

SOLEDAD:   The Virgin Mother? She wasn’t just a woman. She gave birth to the Lord.

RHONDA: I never learned how that virgin birth stuff worked. I’m not Catholic, I guess.

(exits)   Slut.

SOLEDAD: (grabbing the Bible) It’s all in here, whoever you are….. (as she turns back into the salon) Bitch.

Soledad, disturbed, falls into a seat; picks up her Bible, starts reading. Jerry appears at the stage left hallway entrance, tiptoeing.

JERRY: Pssssst.

SOLEDAD: (startled) … Jerry. (She gets up and goes to him.)  What are you doing?

JERRY: Where is she?

SOLEDAD: Senora? She just went up to your room….   She said you were jogging.

JERRY: I was. I jogged around the house to the wine cellar. I’ve kept the outdoor key on my ring all these years. (takes a swig of wine straight from the bottle) How’s that for thinking ahead?

SOLEDAD:   Your Miss Vicki wasn’t very nice to me.

JERRY: (crossing to the liquor cabinet and taking out a couple of wine glasses) Miss Vicki. Yeah. Sorry…. Listen. This doesn’t surprise me. First of all, maybe it’d be better all around if you didn’t call her Senora. That’s a bit of a sore point … that she’s not my official senora.

SOLEDAD: Not your wife, you mean. Oh…. That doesn’t mean she has to be rude.

JERRY: Miss Vicki’s got a jealousy problem.

SOLEDAD: Jealous … of me?… A movie star is jealous of an … old maid?

JERRY: (pouring) And you, my sweet little one, are neither old, nor a maid. You are a young maiden…. in distress, maybe, but—-.

SOLEDAD: I’m almost 29, Jerry.

JERRY: Wow!. 29. Barely born. Let’s celebrate. Have a glass of wine with me.

SOLEDAD: (looking into a wall mirror) And I’m not little anymore either. Senor is trying to make me fat.   He always wants me to eat with him. Eat. Eat. Eat. He’s trying to make me into Martha.

JERRY: (starts to laugh, but catches himself)  I’m sorry, Soledad. It must be awful….

(offering her a glass of wine; she turns aside) Come on.

SOLEDAD: (taking the glass) What if … “she” comes down?

JERRY: We’re legal. We’re twenty-one.

SOLEDAD:   Just because she’s a movie star, she thinks she can talk to me like that.

JERRY:   And that’s another problem…. She’s not exactly a movie star,… anymore.

SOLEDAD: That’s what Senor always called her. The movie star…. Every night, if I stayed up long enough, Martha, before she died, or Dr. Mallory, or somebody would say, “so how do you think Jerry and the movie star are doing tonight.” And everybody would laugh. I never saw why it was so funny to them.

JERRY: (looking at Edmund sleeping)   Father doesn’t love me, Soledad. Never did.

SOLEDAD: How can you say that?

JERRY: We never saw eye to eye on anything. We always fought. Always. We’d be fighting right now, if he was awake. If he had the mind for it.

SOLEDAD:   But he’d be loving you, too…. While you were fighting, he’d be suffering about it. He suffers that you don’t ever visit, or even write. Do you know that?

JERRY: No. I don’t know that.

SOLEDAD: Because you don’t live with him. It’s been seven years, Jerry, since you last came home. You don’t know the things he says. When he first wakes up, or just before he falls asleep. You don’t hear him saying your name.

JERRY: Father’s a great actor, Soli. Always was…. I saw him play King Lear, in London, when he was 59. My age right now. He was so damned good, that when Lear died at the end, I thought he, Dad, had died too, on the stage, in his greatest moment…. I was a little disappointed when he came out for his bow…. And look, now he plays with little trucks and vans. And baby dolls.

SOLEDAD: More than baby dolls.

JERRY: (He touches his glass to hers) To youth, Soledad. To beauty. To strength. To drinking every last drop of life we have in us…. (looks deeply at Soledad, tips his glass) Then to dying young….   Reasonably young…. (picks up a fist full of Edmund’s toys and dolls) Look at this. This is ludicrous…. I hate father for letting let his life come to such an end. What kind of example is this, for me!

SOLEDAD:   Jerry! It’s the Lord who decides when we die.

JERRY: Doesn’t have to be.

SOLEDAD: … What did you say, sir?

Soledad and Jerry look at each other for a few seconds.

 JERRY: Not blowing your head off. Jumping off a cliff. Slitting your wrists. Just live. Live hard. That’ll do it. Do a million jumping jacks, or something. Walk out the door, start running till you drop. Starve yourself. There are ways. Use your imagination. Let your heart break. Die of a broken heart. Anything but this.

SOLEDAD: I think his heart is broken, sir.

JERRY: (taking a doll out of Edmund’s hands) For Cordelia, maybe?

SOLEDAD: For Cordelia. For Martha. For you…. He’s still a human being. He’s still Edmund.

JERRY: (putting the doll back) Do you really think so?

SOLEDAD: Yes. I know him better than you do now, and he’s still Edmund. And I can still take care of him. (starting to pick up things) So no more talk about putting him away. (picking up book Rhonda had tossed on the floor) How old was Maria, in “Ghost Town.”

JERRY: Maria?… “Ghost Town”?

SOLEDAD: “Ghost Town.”… Your book. (hands him the book)

JERRY: “Ghost Town?” I suddenly entirely forget that book…. Jesus, what’s wrong with me? I can’t remember. Refresh me.

SOLEDAD: Joshua rescues her from the bandidos. They hide out in the abandoned silver mine for the winter. He would climb up top early in the mornings and come back down with something to eat. A rabbit. Sometimes a snake. She’d cook it up for them.

JERRY:   Ah. It’s coming back. It’s coming back…. She was afraid of him for awhile.

SOLEDAD: She’d never met a man who read books before. They would lie around the fire and he would teach her English. So she could read to him, one day, in her beautiful voice, that’s what he said. (takes another sip of wine, falls into him) Oh. I think I’m a little drunk…. When they slept, he would rest his hand on her hip.

JERRY: And then, one night he rolls her over, and—–


JERRY: Isn’t that in “Ghost Town”?

SOLEDAD: Yes, but you make it sound like she wasn’t … agreeable.

JERRY: She resisted a little bit.

SOLEDAD: Yes, but, come on.

JERRY: And then she cried, and cried. I remember that part…. Don’t I?

SOLEDAD: He licked her tears and kissed her fingertips. He called her his Persephone. (She pronounces it wrong.) Why did he call her that, when her name was Maria?

JERRY: Persephone. It’s from a Greek myth.

SOLEDAD: But why did she run away from him in the spring? To go back to her awful life with the bandidos. When they were so happy together? I didn’t understand that part.

JERRY: I don’t always know what’s going to happen in my books, until it does. It’s like life.

SOLEDAD: He gets tired of her, doesn’t he?

JERRY: (thinks) No. It was just time, you know. Spring had come. She had healed up. They both had healed. They’d healed each other. He knew who he was again and he had to move on….  Now I remember. Joshua Newhart is the kind that has to move on.

SOLEDAD: Was she carrying their baby when she ran away? (long pause; Jerry and Persephone looking at each other) That seed he has her eat.

JERRY: Pomegranate….

SOLEDAD: Is that what that seed meant? You never made that clear, Jerry.

Jerry grabs Soledad by the hand and leads her towards the exit where he last entered.

 SOLEDAD: Where are you taking me?… Where are we going?

JERRY: I want you to read to me.

SOLEDAD: Here?… Where?… What about … Miss Vicki? Miss Rhonda?

JERRY: I just want you to read me to sleep. Like you do for Father…. I haven’t slept for weeks. Not really slept…. I need to sleep.

SOLEDAD:   But we can’t leave el Senor here alone.

JERRY: Why not?

SOLEDAD: He wanders in the night now…. He can fall down.

JERRY: Maybe he needs a good bump on the head…. We all need as good bump on the head now and then.

 RHONDA: (from off stage)   Jerry. Where t’ hell are you?

JERRY: (to Soledad) Please.

RHONDA: Is that you talking down there?

 As Jerry and quickly Soledad exit, Edmund rolls out of his chair. A large thump. He cries out.   Rights himself into a sitting position.

 EDMUND: Where am I?….

Rhonda enters, wrapping a robe around her.   They both gasp at each other.

 EDMUND: Who are you?… Help me…. I’m not right.

RHONDA: What happened?

EDMUND: I don’t know where I am?

RHONDA: Where’s that goddamn maid?

EDMUND: Are you an angel?

RHONDA: (trying to help him to his feet)   I’m Rhonda, Dr. Mallory.

EDMUND: Am I dead?… Tell me the truth….

RHONDA: I’m Jerry’s fiancée. Jerry. Your son…. This is life. You’re not dead.

EDMUND: You’re Jerry’s fiancée. Jerry’s here?… My son, Jerry? He’s here?… (looks at her quizzically) Rhonda. Yes, I remember you, Rhonda. You played in the movie … of Jerry’s book. “Six Shooter.” But you had another name.

RHONDA: Vickie.

EDMUND: Vickie…. I’m remembering. By God, I’m remembering. You’re Miss Vicki. You’re Rhonda Ramsay. Jerry’s movie star.

RHONDA: Hardly a star. Anymore.

EDMUND: Nobody ever lasted long with Jerry. (looking around) How strange. This house is an exact replica of the house I once lived in….

RHONDA: We’re getting married in June.

EDMUND: We are?

RHONDA: Jerry and me. I hope you’ll come.

EDMUND: You have a soft voice. I like a woman with a soft voice…. Soledad has a soft voice…. Soledad tells me of this place in Mexico. Where people never die…. and they never grow older.

RHONDA: … And they never grow older?

EDMUND:   Once they arrive, once they get there, they never die and they never grow older. But they’ve got to get there…. Soledad’s taking me there one day, she says…. In a red van. We’re going to have a look-see.   For ourselves

 (lights down, music)  

Scene ii


Lights up softly. The only stage lights are the lighted portraits of Martha and Edmund’s father. Rhonda is sprawled unladylike on the lazy-boy. Edmund is sleeping on the couch. The door opens, and Richard enters, carrying luggage.

RHONDA: (sits up, startled) Jerry?

RICHARD: Hello…. Soledad? (He snaps on a light)

RHONDA: Richard. It’s you. Turn it off, please. You’ll wake up Edmund. I just got him to sleep.

RICHARD: My God. Rhonda.

RHONDA: You woke me up. I was dreaming you were making a fire in the fireplace, and then I wake up and you’re here. How odd, huh?

RICHARD: I don’t know…. You and Father are back together then, I take it?

He sets his luggage down, and offers her his hand. She embraces him instead, just as Allie enters, sees them.

 RHONDA: It’s day by day with us. You know….   We were expecting you last night…. Look at me.

RICHARD:   We had a “complication” at the border, let’s say.

RHONDA: We? (sees Allie at the door) Oh. (crestfallen) Allie. It’s you. I thought—-

ALLIE: You thought what, Rhonda?

RHONDA: Jerry said—-

ALLIE:   I know…. I wasn’t coming.   I changed my mind at the last minute…. I wasn’t   expecting to see you either.

RHONDA: Yes. It’s true. Jerry and I are back together.

ALLIE: Well, good for you. I guess.

RICHARD: (looking, sniffing out the open door) Where’s Templeton?

ALLIE:   He’s stretching his legs.

RICHARD: If what I’m smelling is what I think I’m smelling, it’s not a cigarette. (starts to exit) You know, if he still has some of that pot on him, I’ll kill him. I swear. I’ll kill him with my own two naked hands.

ALLIE:   (blocking him)   Don’t make trouble, Richard.

RICHARD: “I” make trouble.

ALLIE: Don’t start things out on a bad note.

RICHARD: (throws up his hands, crosses to where Edmund is sleeping under a blanket) You’re always protecting him. No wonder he can’t grow up.

ALLIE: (to Rhonda, seeing her keenly observing them) Everybody’s on edge. We’ve been in that car for twenty-four hours.

RHONDA: You don’t have to explain to me.

RICHARD: Is that … Grandfather?

RHONDA: Yes, Richard. He fell asleep. Waiting for you.

RICHARD: What do you mean, waiting for me?

RHONDA: Waiting for you. Talking about you. Oh, he knew you were coming. And he knows “why” too.

RICHARD: I don’t get it. The way Dad was talking, he doesn’t know his own name.

ALLIE: (calling out the door)   Templeton.

RICHARD: (starting to look around the room) Where is Dad?… (looking at his watch) Sleeping, I guess.

ALLIE: Templeton. Come in. Right now.

RHONDA: Does Jerry sleep?… Jerry doesn’t sleep. Jerry collapses. Your father has two speeds. Fast and stop. Fast and collapse…. You know him.

RICHARD: (standing before the portraits) Do I?… Allie. Mother’s portrait is finished.

ALLIE: (from where she is standing at the open door, now closing it) It’s nice, Richard. Where’s Jerry? (looking at her watch) Sleeping, I guess. I’ll make us tea. Tea anybody?

RHONDA: No tea for me, honey…. But a cup of coffee would be nice. Strong.   I mean so the spoon stands up by itself…. And five sugars. I know that’s a lot but—

ALLIE: (on her way to the kitchen, turns, grimaces when Rhonda says “five sugars,” continues on her way)  I’ll bring the sugar bowl, okay!

RHONDA: (to Richard) Well, excuse me. I happen to like it sweet.

RICHARD: (crossing back towards Edmund) We’re all tired, Rhonda. You know those long car drives. We’re overwrought. (standing over him; Rhonda crossing to join him at the couch) Grandfather…. It’s come to this, has it? (covers his face with his hands) I’m sorry, Rhonda. This is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. He was the most intelligent, talented man I ever knew…. He was knighted in England, you know. That’s extremely rare for an American…. I owe him everything I am…. You never met him, did you? When he was … himself.

RHONDA: I never met him, period, until a few hours ago. And then the two of us got to talking like we were long lost friends. Like we’d known each other all our lives.

RICHARD: He knew things?… He was coherent?

RHONDA: Quite. In fact, he was saying the same words about you that you were just saying about him. That you were the most talented, imaginative Shakespearian actor alive today.

RICHARD: Grandfather said that?

RHONDA:  I’m telling you. He said you would surpass him one day. In your later roles. MacBeth. Caesar. Lear.   His fondest wish is to live long enough to see you surpass him.

RICHARD:   I’ll be damned….   He knows what’s going on. Well, that changes things, doesn’t it?… Rhonda. Good to see you. It’s been too long. It’s always too long. You always cheer me up…. And how’s father doing?

RHONDA: God knows.

RICHARD: Is he drinking?

RHONDA: Nothing changes…. Look. (waves a newspaper at him as Richard looks around the room; then reads)   Look what your Grandfather wanted me to read to him, over and over again. “Forty years after the great Sir Edmund Mallory played Hamlet at the Globe, the role will be played this season by his grandson, Richard Mallory….

RICHARD: (aside) Maybe.

RHONDA: On and on.

RICHARD:   God, to think we’ll have to sell this place. Strangers will be living here. (goes to the row of portraits) My great-great grandfather built it, gathered the rocks for the foundation with his own hands.

RHONDA: Yes. Edmund was giving me the whole history. Fascinating.

RICHARD: The things that have transpired in this house. The conversations. The people. My grandfather entertained Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung in this room, Rhonda. Imagine. (picks up one urn, then the other) My mother’s ashes. My grand-mother’s ashes…. But listen to me. Me. My. Me. My. What about you? You’re looking good, I must say. Any new movies coming out?

RHONDA: No. I’m afraid my movie career came to a screeching halt when I followed your father to Tuscan.

RICHARD: I saw “Six Shooter” by the way. You were the best thing in it. I was very impressed. I was always going to tell you that when I saw you again…. How long has it been?… You were just terrific in “Six-shooter.”

RHONDA: I take that as a great compliment, coming from an actor of your stature, Richard.   (Unseen by Richard and Rhonda, Jerry appears at the exit he left by.) I don’t know what possessed me to leave Hollywood at the peak of my career….. Love is blind.   Love makes you blind.

JERRY: Hello, Richard. Welcome home.

RHONDA: Oh, there you are. Where t’ hell have you been?

JERRY: (crossing to Richard) I’ve been reading one of my old books. I’d forgotten I could once write like that….   Son.

RICHARD: Father.

ALLIE: (coming in with a tea tray)   Jerry!

JERRY: Allie! What?… I thought you weren’t coming. Richard told me—- What a beautiful surprise. Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.

ALLIE: Oh, please. We’ve been in that car twenty-four hours…. Richard wouldn’t stop. He was driving like a maniac. Templeton and I begged him.

JERRY: (looking around) Templeton’s here too?

ALLIE: He’s outside. Taking a walk. You won’t even recognize him, Jerry.   He’s not the teen-ager you remember.

RICHARD: No. He’s twelve now. He’s going backwards.

ALLIE: (glares at Richard, then turns warmly back to Jerry)   Oh, Jerry.   It’s been too long. We’ll talk in the morning, okay…. It’s very late. I think I’ll take my tea in bed, if nobody minds. It’s been a hellish night, really…. Richard will tell you all about it, I’m sure…. Don’t lock the door, okay. Temp’s still out there.

JERRY:   Sure. We’ll talk tomorrow…. Let me show you to your room. Soledad told me where she wanted Richard … and now you. How wonderful you’re here.

RICHARD: What would be wrong with our old room?

JERRY: Nothing. That’s exactly where she’s put you.

RICHARD: Then Allie knows where it is, I should think.

JERRY: I’ll carry your stuff up.

RICHARD: It’s alright, Dad. Relax. I’ll carry our stuff up.

RHONDA: (clears her throat) My coffee?

ALLIE: Oh, sorry, Rhonda. I couldn’t find the coffee.

RHONDA: I see…. That’s great. You can’t imagine the migraine I’m going to get.

ALLIE: To tell you the truth, I forgot all about it. Sorry. I’m exhausted.

RHONDA: Yes, you look it…. (walks to the exit to the upstairs, near where Jerry is standing) Come on, Jerry. Come to bed…. What good are you going to be tomorrow without sleep?

JERRY: No good at all.

RHONDA: It’s been days now.

JERRY:   I’m wired. I’m all cranked up

RHONDA: Why don’t you let me take care of that?

Jerry pulls his arm free of her grip, takes a seat, opens his book. Rhonda exits in a huff.

ALLIE: (at the other interior exit) It’s okay, Richard. I can carry my own stuff up. Talk to your father for awhile. Tell him about Templeton. I don’t want him to be too shocked.

RICHARD: (taking her aside, Jerry observing)   I want to sleep with you tonight.

ALLIE: Richard.

RICHARD: Please.

ALLIE: Don’t ask. Remember our agreement.

RICHARD: Just tonight. Our first night back. I don’t want to sleep alone right now. Here, with all these memories.

ALLIE: I can’t help you, Richard.

RICHARD: You’ve got no comfort for me at all.

ALLIE: (glaring at him) Not the kind you want.

Richard grabs her arm; she yanks it free and exits. Seeing this scene has been observed by Jerry, Richard composes himself, walks over to where Edmund is sleeping.  

 RICHARD: What are we going to do, Dad?

JERRY: … Do about what?

RICHARD: About Grandfather?

JERRY: It’s already decided. We’re taking him out to dinner, tomorrow, while Soledad packs his things, then we’re driving him to Autumnwood…. It won’t be so bad, Richard. He’ll have his own apartment. I’ve rented a little truck to transport some his stuff in. You know. His dolls. His little cars.

RICHARD: Maybe it would be kinder to shoot him.

JERRY: Well, for once, we think alike.

RICHARD: I want to see him awake first. I want to talk to him.

JERRY: (as Richard takes out a sword from the case he’s carrying) From what Soledad says, there’s no one home to talk to. (points to his head)

RICHARD: (points to his heart) What about here?… Anybody home here, do you think, Father? Might the heart not carry some weight in this matter? And shouldn’t Grandfather himself be part of this decision?

JERRY: How can you be part of a decision if you don’t know who you are?

RICHARD: Rhonda told me he was making total sense, a couple hours ago.

JERRY:   Rhonda told you. The person who knows him the least. Your grandfather’s not lucid, Richard. Talk to Soledad. She’s the one who lives with him.

RICHARD: Ah, but how many moments of lucidity does Soledad have in a day?

JERRY: Soledad’s totally with it. And you know that.

RICHARD: Do I? (starts to do slow motion moves with the sword)

JERRY: She’s the one who’s kept this place going for the last … ten years, at least.

RICHARD: I want to see him awake.

JERRY: And so what if he has a clear moment now and then? All the worse, if you think about it.

RICHARD: I have thought about it…. A lot. And I don’t want to do this ugly deed behind his back.   Take him to dinner. Drop him off at Autumnwood. As if he won’t know the difference…. We talk to him first. We try to reach him. We owe him that.

JERRY: It’ll just make it harder for everybody.

RICHARD: I’m not thinking about everybody. I’m thinking about Grandfather.

JERRY: You’re thinking about yourself…. That’s who you’re thinking about.

RICHARD: Yes, I want to be able to live with myself, if that’s what you mean.

JERRY: (referring to his sword play) Will you stop doing that? What are you doing?

RICHARD: I’m practicing. Okay. I’m on stage in two short weeks. I’m getting into character. Is that okay with you, father?… I’m under a lot of stress right now.

JERRY: You don’t have to take this on as guilt, you know. Father’s 80 years old. He’s had his life.

RICHARD: You eat the orange. You throw away the peel. Is that it?

JERRY: What’s the peel good for? It’s for the pigs to eat. Makes good compost. The fact is, he can’t take care of himself anymore.

RICHARD: We hire a nurse.

JERRY: Better say, three nurses. And that would only cover week-days. What about week-ends? You got that kind of money?…. You know what I made on my books last year? Royalties? 20 grand, maybe. I don’t know what you’re pulling in, but my guess is that around the clock nurses would come to a good half of it…. He’s pissing himself, Richard. He’s wearing diapers.

RICHARD: What!… You see what I mean about her. She’s put him in goddamn diapers.

JERRY: Oh. You going to blame Soledad because your grandfather’s pissing himself. Look, son. Here on this whirling ball in space called earth, anybody who has the good fortune of not dying young gets to grow old and then die. That’s the way it works, down here on earth. And if you hang around too long, start pissing yourself, things like that, then you get to go to the old folks home and die in there.

RICHARD: “This” isn’t anybody we’re talking about here, Dad. “This” is the greatest Shakespearian actor of the 20th Century.

JERRY: Even kings and queens grow old.

RICHARD: You’re bloodless. Wait till your turn comes.

JERRY: It won’t…. When you stop living, stop living, that’s my motto.

RICHARD: That’s your “motto”?… Shut up, Dad….   Change the goddamn subject.

JERRY: You change the subject. If you want the goddamn subject changed.

RICHARD: Okay, I will. I guess you never heard the news. I’m playing Hamlet in the fall. In London.

JERRY: I heard. You know I knew that.

RICHARD: I’m not talking London, Ontario here. I’m talking London, England. And speaking of kings and queens, we’ll be performing before the Queen opening night.

JERRY: I heard that, too.

RICHARD: Oh, you did. Well, thanks for the phone call then. Sorry I wasn’t home to receive it. And I appreciate your letter of congratulations that got lost in the mail. I didn’t need to read it. I know it would have expressed your overwhelming happiness for me and that you were planning to come and see me opening night.

JERRY: You know I’m not good at that stuff.

RICHARD: Oh, father “stuff,” you must mean…. You know, you’ve never once seen me act, since I’ve moved to Canada….

JERRY: Canada’s a long ways off from Arizona, Richard.

RICHARD: But there are airplanes now. You flew here, so it can’t be that you’re afraid to fly?   Maybe it’s me you’re afraid of.   Maybe you’re afraid of seeing me as, let’s say, successful…. Fuck you, father. You know, I promised myself all the way from Toronto I wasn’t going to say anything, but maybe there are a couple things it’s time you heard.

JERRY: Oh come on, Prince Hamlet. Do you have to take your Oedipus complex quite so seriously…. I mean, how many more times do I have to see Hamlet in this life?   I already know the ending. Everybody dies.

RICHARD: I don’t believe you.

JERRY: Believe me. It’s overdone. I renounce it finally. The Church of Shakespeare.     Hamlet. I don’t care who’s playing him. Even my own son. Nobody’s moved by Hamlet anymore…. (walking away) Life is precious. Not to be wasted. Not even a minute.

RICHARD: You’re ice. You’re a walking block of ice.

JERRY: (turning) My Dad was a Shakespearian actor, too, remember. And my mother, and then your mother, were Shakespeare aficionados. You get your fill of it. Eventually you get your fill of Shakespeare…. Of Hamlet.

RICHARD: (walking bow-legged) Tarnations, I reckon I done missed my calling. Darn tootin’. I should have followed the tracks of my father’s cowboy boots and dedicated my life to writing pulp fiction. Cowboy novels.

JERRY: Have you ever read one of those “cowboy” novels, by the way?

RICHARD: I never had to. I know them all by heart from listening to Allie and Temp talk about them endlessly…. You get your “fill” of Shakespeare…. Never has there been writing again like this. And as relevant today as it was 400 years ago.

JERRY: Oh, really. Have you seen any good sword fights lately?

RICHARD: They don’t have to be done with swords. There are all kinds of modern Hamlets being produced. Could be done with fireplace implements. (He grabs a poker and shovel and holds them up to Jerry, aggressively.)   And look who’s talking. What’s the difference between Hamlet dueling Laertes in the royal court and your gunfights in the OK corral?

JERRY: A big difference.


JERRY: I’m not worshipping anybody.

RICHARD: Except yourself…. You never grew up, Dad. (He laughs strangely, tosses the poker and shovel on the floor, crosses to hallway where Allie exited.) What amazes me is that people seem to like you. I never understood that. Why anybody likes you. Ever. (exits)

Templeton comes in wearing strange looking Eastern clothes and a Hare Krishna pony tail. Jerry, agitated, talking to himself, facing outward to the audience, doesn’t see him.

JERRY: Because I don’t act like a goddamn phony all the time, that’s maybe why people like me….. It’s not a really big deal. You ought to step off your stage now and then, son. Take a look at who you are, if you want people to like you. Take a good long look. See what makes you worth liking. Or not liking.

TEMP: Hi Gramps…. Talking to yourself?

JERRY: Holy Christ,… Templeton? Is that you?

TEMP: Except I don’t go by Templeton anymore. I go by Raven now.

JERRY: Raven.   Jesus, you look like one of those Hare Krishnas. (They embrace.)

TEMP: I am one of those Hare Krishna’s, Gramps.

JERRY: I’ll be damned.

TEMP: I was. I’m moving away from that now. Lately I’ve been thinking of myself as more Buddhist than Hindu.

JERRY: Lately. That’s a lot of changes. Last I heard you were majoring in English or something at University of Toronto.

TEMP: You’re way out of the family information loop, Gramps. I dropped out of U of T months ago. A bunch of trust-fund kids trying to be cool all the time. Pretending to know stuff. What a waste. You would understand, of all people. Is there anything to eat around here? I’ve got the munchies.

JERRY: You remember where the kitchen is.   Soledad’s got a whole refrigerator full of food made up for us. (points Temp to the kitchen, follows him part way)   Why would I understand, by the way?

TEMP: Because I’m like you. (from kitchen) I’m as good as dead without my freedom.   Surrounded by phonies. I heard what you were saying about Dad when I was coming in. … You’ve got to empty the mind before you can put anything into it…. I’ve been living in my van for almost two years now.

JERRY: Living in your van. In Toronto? That’s a little cold in the winter, isn’t it?

TEMP: I don’t live in Toronto anymore. Dad and Mom never told you? I went west. I live in Vancouver….

JERRY: Vancouver. You drove here all the way from Vancouver.

TEMP: I’ve been back east for a couple weeks now. Mom asked me to come. She and dad are going through something. Like that has anything to do with me.

Temp comes out of the kitchen with a carton of ice cream; starts to look around the room.

JERRY:   There’s real food in there. Did you see the plate of chicken Soledad fried up?

TEMP: Yeah, I saw it. But I would never eat anything that sees out of its eyes.

JERRY: Oh…. Oh. Well, maybe she cooked up some moles and bats, I didn’t check.

TEMP: Ha! Ever see the inside of a slaughter house? You can’t eat meat once you’ve seen the inside of one of those places…. Damn. I used to live here, didn’t I?   All kinds of stuff is coming back to me. How old was I? Nine,… ten? I was thinking a lot about it, riding down here. What t’ hell was going on back then, Gramps?

JERRY: What do you mean?

TEMP: When all of us were living here together. Four generations in one house. Eating dinner together. Things like that. How did that happen?

JERRY: Well, your Dad was apprenticing under your great-grandfather. And your Mom, she was writing a book, something about home schooling you and having this torrid affair with a spirit in the cellar.

TEMP: (laughs) Mom.

JERRY: It was good, I remember. She should have never quit on it (picks up the urn) And Martha, your grandmother….

TEMP: Yeah, there it starts to get complicated.

JERRY: Because she and I were finished long before you showed up in this world.

TEMP: But she was still very much around. (points to her portrait) In the picture.

JERRY: She hung on as your great-grandfather’s agent, something like that. Private secretary, attaché, whatever title you want to give her.

TEMP: Ah…. Were they lovers?

JERRY: (abruptly) I have no idea.

TEMP: And Soledad?

JERRY: She did the work. She held the place together.

TEMP: She was beautiful, I remember.

JERRY: Still is.

TEMP: I know.

JERRY: You’ve seen her then.

TEMP: I see her in my dreams….   And you, Gramps. Why were you here, then?

JERRY: Ah, me, let’s see. What was going on?…   Don’t hurry me…. I was looking for myself again, I suppose. About your Dad’s age. Even a little older, but still staggering home now and then, when I ran out of money or courage, whatever one runs home for.

TEMP: What a little moment in time. Four generations mixing in together. Now look at us. British Columbia. Ontario. Arizona. Massachusetts. (looking at the urns) Nirvina…. Hades…. Scattered all over the universe. And we all meet again. Here. Far out.

EDMUND: (sitting up, wild-eyed) Where am I?

JERRY: Another country heard from.

TEMP: Jesus!… Is that … ?

JERRY: That’s him, Temp. Your world famous great-grandfather. Far out.

EDMUND: Me thought I heard a voice cry sleep no more.

TEMP: (approaching him gingerly)    Scared the hell out of me.

EDMUND: (looking wildly at Templeton) Stay back. Stay back. Come not between a dragon and his wrath…. Who t’ hell are you?

TEMP: I’m Raven, Great-Grandfather.

EDMUND: Raven?… Quoth the raven, nevermore. That raven? Have you come for me?

TEMP: Well, kind of….

EDMUND: Are you death?…

TEMP: Death?…. Do you think I’m death? If you want me to be, I can be death…. What does death look like?

EDMUND: (looks at Templeton suspiciously; starts to play with his trucks; makes putts- putts noises. If you want me to be, I can be death…. What does death looks like?

TEMP: (crosses to Jerry) Has Dad seen this yet? (points to Edmund)

JERRY: He can’t. He doesn’t want to.

TEMP: Because he’s in denial. Dad’s into his own kind of falling apart. It hurts to see it, Gramps.

JERRY: What’s going on with your father?

TEMP: The specifics?… We don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about anything real in that house, but the long and short of it is that Mom’s ditching him. She’s had enough….   Who could live with Dad? I’ve been back two weeks and that’s too much for me. I’m not going back with them, Gramps. I’m not going back to Vancouver, either. There’s a big universe out there. (thumps his chest) In here. I don’t want to miss it…. That’s on the d.l., okay, until I give them the slip.


TEMP: Down low…. Mum’s the word.

JERRY: You’re staying in America then?

TEMP: For awhile. Then Mexico. Real de Catorce. I’m brushing up on my Spanish right now.

JERRY: Real de Catorce. I wrote about Real de Catorce once.

TEMP: You did. In “Ghost Town.”

JERRY: Hm…. Tiennes dinero?… For this trip you’re planning.

TEMP: Un poco. A couple grand. Sold my van.

JERRY: How far is a couple grand going to take you?

TEMP:   A long ways. I’ll hitchhike. Camp. I can live on beans and dreams, if I have to. Once I get down there. Rice, nopales. I’d like to stop and see you in Tuscan on my way.

JERRY: …. Well, sure,… Raven. I’d like that, too…. You’re always welcome. Mi casa es su casa.

TEMP: You could teach me how to write. It’d be great to hang out with you on your ranch for a few months.

JERRY: A few months.

TEMP: Really get to know each other.

JERRY: … How many months do you call a few months?

TEMP: I know I’d learn a lot. I might have a few things I could share with you, too.

JERRY: Share?

TEMP: How to meditate, for example. You don’t meditate, do you?

JERRY: Does that show? (tucks in his shirt; straightens his posture)

TEMP: Kind of….

JERRY: Yeah. I’m sure it does. Now you point it out. You want to be a writer, do you?

TEMP: If I could write like you. I mean, as good as you. Everybody has to write like themselves, I’m aware of that…. I love your novels, Grandpa.   “The White Savage.” That’s my favorite. I’ve read it five times at least…. That was you, wasn’t it? Two Feathers?

JERRY: Two Feathers?

TEMP: “The White Savage.” (pulls a copy of his pocket and hands it to Jerry)

JERRY. God. Hmm. Two Feathers…. It’s all so long ago. I can’t remember anymore. I’m drawing a complete blank on … Two Feathers.

TEMP: He was the white savage. Two Feathers…. And his little side-kick, Black Bird. I always saw him as maybe based on me. A little bit.

JERRY: Black Bird?

TEMP: It’s okay. You’ve let it go. You’re not attached…. But Jesus, Gramps, thank you for making me laugh all these years. Those cowboys discussing the meaning of life and all, or whether there’s a God, while they’re fighting the Indians, or robbing a stage coach, branding a steer. Talking about Freud and Kierkegaard around the old campfire. That free-for-all fist-fight they had over what’s the correct definition of penis envy! You cracked me up.

JERRY: Ha. You liked that did you?… Wouldn’t take months though. To teach you what I knew about writing. I could do that right now.

TEMP: You could?… Really?… Okay….

JERRY: Well, you work from the ground up. You start with the basics. You learn where the commas go.

TEMP: Come on, Gramps, I know where the commas go.

JERRY:   Yeah, but … what about semi-colons?… What else?… Don’t use the passive voice. Find a way not to use it. There’s always a way…. And don’t say “share” unless you’re talking about things like apples or beds. You’re careful with every word, you see, kid. When you “share” it means you give up something you could’ve otherwise had all to yourself. You share an apple. You’ve got half an apple. You share your bed, you’ve got half a bed. But you don’t share a thought. Or information. You just say what you think. What you know. That’s not sharing. That’s just telling somebody something.

TEMP: Yeah, right. I never thought of that. Far out.

JERRY: And expressions like “far out”… Never mind, what do I know about writing anymore. I haven’t written a decent sentence since I went to Hollywood that time.

EDMUND: I am a very foolish fond old man,/ Fourscore and upward, not an hour more or less;/ And to deal plainly,/ I fear I am not in my perfect mind.

JERRY: Speaking of “far out.”

TEMP: God, can you imagine what it must be like.

JERRY: Sort of.

TEMP: Kind of thrilling,… in its own way.

EDMUND: (to his ragdoll) Come, let’s away to prison;/ we two alone will sing like birds in the cage:/ When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down,/ and ask of thee forgiveness …

TEMP: Like living in a dream.

JERRY: Several dreams. And all at once. That would be the far out part.   Sorting out this dream from that dream.

TEMP: Yeah…. Yeah, look at Dad. Here he is, this very famous person. He plays all these amazing roles, up on the stage. Everybody says he’s totally cool, the greatest. Then there’s Dad at home. Dad in the house. So twisted up about mom leaving him that he has to go into the loo and puke sometimes. How cool is that?

JERRY: The loo.

TEMP: The toilet. But to the world he tries to come off as this bigger than life person all the time. And he and mom as this happy couple.

JERRY: Well, they’re not succeeding.

TEMP: The goddamn family, huh…. You don’t have to be a genius to see that where it all starts going wrong. Do you mind if I smoke?

JERRY:   No, of course not. Smoke.

TEMP:   (taking a drag) Oh, yeah.

JERRY: Um. I take it that’s not tobacco in there.

TEMP: This? Naw. I wouldn’t touch tobacco. Bad smoke. (takes a another drag, then holds the joint out to Jerry, talking while he’s holding in the smoke) I’ve been waiting for this all day. We’re lucky, Gramps, they didn’t check my magic pocket at the border. You were a hippy once, Dad says. (Templeton exhales, coughs hard.) Ahh. God is great.

JERRY: And this is good smoke?

TEMP: The more you cough, the more you get off…. It’s a small price. This isn’t 70’s dirt weed Gramps. This is the real thing. B.C. You can see the future on this stuff.

JERRY: You’re kidding, of course.

TEMP: Not entirely.

JERRY: Are you seeing the future right now?

TEMP: I am.

JERRY: Tell me about it.

TEMP: Everybody ends up dead.

JERRY: We kind of know that already, don’t we?

TEMP: Not really. Not like you think. It’s coming soon. 2015. A real cataclysm. A separation of the sheep from the goats.

JERRY: 2015?… I thought that was 2012 all that New Age stuff was supposed to happen.

TEMP: They miscalculated a little bit. They missed by a few years. Hey, that’s pretty understandable, giving that we’re talking millennia here.   2015. Only a very few will make it through that portal. The ones who are getting ready now.

JERRY: Those that smoke dope?

TEMP: There’s more to it than that. There’s nothing to accomplish anymore, Gramps. But we’ve got to hurry. There’s only three years left. For all of us. We’ve got to live in the present now. The present’s where it’s at. Pot helps, that’s all. It takes you where you already are. That’s the portal. The present…. Listening to music, for example. With this B.C. weed, you can really hear it. Like, you’re listening to a seven piece jazz band, and you’re hearing all the instruments separately and together at the same time. It’s like you can see the music. You’re in a new land. You want to know what Beethoven’s Fifth looks like?… Or if you want to write a poem, it’s flowing out of your pen. You barely have to think. You’re talking in poetry without even trying. Or if you want to play in the fields of love, it’s like an aphrodisiac.

JERRY: … Um…. What was that last point? I was still thinking about what Beethoven’s Fifth would look like.

TEMP: The aphrodisiac? It’s like, when you’re stoned, you say to yourself, my god, I’m a man , skin all over, and you’re a woman, skin all over, and this thing we’re about to do, skin to skin, is an amazing thing, if you stop and think about it, and see it for what it is.

JERRY: Why would you want to stop and think about it? Isn’t that one of the few times we maybe stop thinking?

TEMP: Hey, Right Thought, call it. Thinking isn’t the problem. It’s bad thinking that’s the problem. Right Thought improves everything. You know. Right Thought. Right View. Right action. (holds the cigarette out again) The eightfold path.

JERRY: The eightfold path?

TEMP: The Buddhist eightfold path. To enlightenment. It starts here. In the present.

It’s in your own novels, Gramps. It’s in “White Savage.” (takes the novel Jerry is still holding in his hand) Where is it?… Two Feathers is talking to Black Bird…. Here. “A warrior is awake. The stars have lined up, spring has come like a bolt of lightning, a peal of thunder, a sudden, violent storm. The Great Spirit rides in on a gust of wind, blows open a door, and you,… you!… ride out of your old world into a new life. All of his life a warrior has been preparing for the arrival this moment, and he is ready.” That would be “right thought,” Gramps. (holds out the joint) It’s in your own book.

JERRY: What t’ hell.

TEMP: Breathe it in. Take it deep. That’s it.

JERRY: (exhales, coughing)   Did I get anything?

TEMP: Oh yeah. You got a big one. More than you think. This is B.C. weed, Grandpa. Fasten your seat belt.

Lights fade on Jerry and Templeton; lights up slightly in the room where Allie is sleeping.    

ALLIE: Who’s there? Templeton?… (She turns on a bed lamp. Richard has pulled a chair up beside her bed, the back facing her, his arms resting on it.) Jesus, Richard. You scared me half to death. What are you doing?

RICHARD: Watching you breathe. Listening to you breathe.

ALLIE: Oh, God. I was finally sleeping.

RICHARD: Remembering when I used to fall asleep next to that breathing. That breath. (standing up, looking at things in the room) Allie, I need to talk to you.

ALLIE: We were in that car for twenty four hours, and not one peep out of you. And now I just fall asleep and you need to talk….

RICHARD: How could we talk with Temp right there in the back seat?

ALLIE: Can’t you practice your lines or something?

RICHARD: My lines. “To be or not to be. That’s the fucking question….” They’re not lines anymore, Allie. They’re my life….

ALLIE: I can’t do this right now, Richard. I’m exhausted. We’ll talk in the morning.

RICHARD: What happened to us? We loved each other…. I need to communicate with you, Allie. It’s killing me.

ALLIE: But what could be possibly said that we haven’t said already a thousand times?

RICHARD: Something loving, maybe. Some words with a glimmer of hope in them.

ALLIE: I don’t know how to make it up anymore, this hopeful thing you want to hear.

Lights slightly up downstairs in the salon, action frozen upstairs. Jerry has collapsed onto a chair, his head in his hands. Templeton runs in from kitchen with a pail, places it between Jerry legs. Lights down downstairs; lights up upstairs.

RICHARD: (taking a picture off the wall)   Look. Here’s a picture I took of you on our honeymoon in Paris…. I wondered where this picture disappeared to.

ALLIE: (now with a book in her hand) I’m very tired.

RICHARD: (as he takes the picture out of the frame and puts it in his pocket) I want to start over again. With you. A clean slate. (Allie turns a page in her book.) I want to win your heart again…. Are you asking me to go down on my knees? Okay, then (does)

ALLIE: Please tell me I’m dreaming.

RICHARD: No. You’re wide awake. And for the first time in my life, I’m wide awake, too. I’m awake with my love for you like I’ve never been before. I can forgive you now, Allie. I realize I was angry at first, but …

ALLIE: But, can’t you see, I don’t want forgiving.

RICHARD: I neglected you. It was my fault. I’m admitting it.

ALLIE: Can’t you hear me?…. I don’t want forgiving.

RICHARD: I didn’t know … what you meant to me.

ALLIE: (throwing her book against the wall) Richard! Why can’t you just admit it’s over and take it like a man?

RICHARD: (a storm obviously now gathering) Take it like a man… Take it like a man, did you goddamn say?

ALLIE: Please. Don’t get angry.

RICHARD: How in hell’s a man supposed to “take it,” Allie, when another man is doing his wife?… This is the deepest wound of all, for Christ sake. You’re wounding me in my deepest place. Can a man feel pain? Can a man want comfort?

ALLIE: Shhh. You’re shouting.

Spot on Temp now smoking out of an elaborate peace pipe and talking to Jerry; Jerry hanging over the pail.  

TEMPLETON: Real de Catorce. The peyote buttons will be perfect, mid-May. That’s when the Yakis go on their vision quest. I’m going into the vision pit, Grandpa. I’ve only done buttons once before in my whole life. But it’s like nothing else so far…. It’s in your own novel, Gramps. You did buttons with Maria.

Spot down.

RICHARD: (now stiff, sinister, proud) So, tell me. What does it takes to be a man in your eyes? To be bloodless?

ALLIE: You’re going to wake everybody up.

RICHARD: Good. Then we’ll be all awake together. I won’t have to be awake all alone. Give me something, Allie. You’re my wife. We made promises. Comfort me.

ALLIE: You want something back again that’s lost?

RICHARD: Something that’s lost can be found again. If you can’t tell me you still love me, at least tell me that it breaks your heart to close me out like this, after twenty years, as if I were some kind of emotional stranger.

ALLIE: Maybe if you stopped begging like a little puppy. You’re acting like a beggar. How am I supposed to respond to that? Toss a kiss in your cup….

RICHARD: … Oh how I hate you.

ALLIE: What do you want, Richard?

RICHARD: (starts undressing) Oh, you know what I want.

ALLIE: No. I don’t.

RICHARD: I want to make love to you.

ALLIE: You’re crazy. (seeing him unbuttoning his shirt) What are you doing?

RICHARD: I can remember not to long ago when you were asking me for a little love….

ALLIE: (nervously) Yes. And what did I get for that asking…. For years. Speeches. Soliloques…. Excuses. You know how hard I’m working, Allie. In the morning, Allie. After the play is over, Allie.   Have more life of your own, Allie. Well, now I do. I have more life of my own.

RICHARD: But I’m not in it.

ALLIE: Not the way you want to be…. What are you doing?

RICHARD: I never interpreted “having more life of your own” to mean having an affair with my understudy. Why isn’t he playing Hamlet, I wonder? If he’s so goddamn much?

ALLIE: Maybe on the stage he’s less….

RICHARD: Bitch. (He grabs a mirror from off the dresser and puts it into her face. Here.) Take a look at the bitch you are.

ALLIE: (wrestling with him for the mirror) Do you think the stage is the only place a man performs?   (breaks the mirror on the bedpost) Get out, Richard. I can’t change what’s already happened.   And close the door behind you.

RICHARD: Why’d you even bother to come, if you weren’t going to be here for me?

Because you wanted to suck up to Dad?…. Is that it? I saw the way you greeted him…. I haven’t had a hug like that in years. You’d go to bed with him too, wouldn’t you? If you had a chance? Why don’t you? He wants to.

ALLIE: Out, Richard. Out. Go to bed.

RICHARD: (unbuttoning his shirt) Slide over then.

ALLIE: What do you think you’re doing?

RICHARD: I’m going to bed. With my wife.

ALLIE: You got another think coming.

RICHARD: I said slide over. Let’s not be uncivilized about this.

ALLIE: Get out of here. I’ll scream, I swear. If you lay one finger on me, I’ll scream.

Lights go down upstairs, rise in the salon on Temp and Jerry, sitting in the lotus position,   chanting, om mani padme om.

JERRY: What does it mean? Om mani padme om?

TEMP: It means, the father becomes the son within.

JERRY: Hm. I don’t get it.

TEMP: It can’t be explained.

JERRY: I wouldn’t think so

 They repeat the chant as lights fade. End of Act I. Music


ACT II, scene i


Music. Lights up in the salon.   Jerry, far stage right, lies on his back on the floor, near where he was sitting as Act I ended. Richard, with a black eye, in a chair, stage left, is practicing his lines. The doorbell rings. Nobody moves. The bell rings again. Rhonda appears at the door to upstairs, not fully dressed, buttoning herself up.

 RHONDA: Coming…. Coming. Hold your horses. (sees Jerry and Richard lounging about) Couldn’t one of you get off your duff and answer the door? (as she is looking at them, opening the door, muttering) Where’s the stupid maid, anyway?

SOLEDAD: Sorry, Ma-am. It’s the stupid maid. I locked us out. (tenderly leading in Edmund, who’s nicely dressed and carrying binoculars around his neck) Here we are. Watch your step.

EDMUND: Ah. Watch your step. Thank you, dear…..   What’s for lunch?

SOLEDAD: Whatever you like, Senor. Today’s your day.

EDMUND: Surprise me.

SOLEDAD: Okay. I’ll make —-

EDMUND: Surprise me with three or four of those kiwi muffins I like. And pate de foie gras. And a small hearts of palm salad. (muttering) Watch the old cholesterol… And a chocolate moose for dessert…. That was a long walk. I burned a lot of calories.

SOLEDAD: Yes, you did sir.

RHONDA: (grabbing Edmund’s arm) You go ahead with the lunch, Soledad. I’ll get Edmund settled…. And I wouldn’t mind a couple of those kiwi muffins, myself…. And a cup of coffee, please. Strong.

EDMUND: Who’s this?

RHONDA: I’m Rhonda, Dr. Mallory. You remember? Our conversation last night.  

EDMUND: Rhonda? Do we have a new maid, Martha?

SOLEDAD: You’d better let me…. He’s used to me.

EDMUND: I’m so hungry I could eat a hippopotamus.

RHONDA: (crosses to Jerry, lying on his back, a pail between his legs) Wake up, Jerry.

EDMUND: Wake up, Jerry.

SOLEDAD: Hold still. Let me fix your bib.

RHONDA: (jostling him) Jerry. Wake up. Your father’s up and about.

EDMUND: (looking through his binoculars) Wake up, Jerry…. (his voice trailing off) Your turn next, Jerry.

JERRY: (sitting up abruptly, as if popping out of a nightmare) I’m awake. I’m awake.

RHONDA: It’s time somebody started taking care of business here.

JERRY: (quickly standing up) Business?

RHONDA: (nodding towards Edmund) What we came for. It’s high noon.

JERRY: Oh … (looking at the pail) What a night. (sees Edmund) Hello, Father.

EDMUND: Hello…. Do I know you?

JERRY: Not well. We never got to that part. You were too busy being great.

EDMUND: Why does this man call me father, Martha?

SOLEDAD: This is Jerry, Dr. Mallory. Your son…. Your son, sir.

EDMUND: (to Soledad)   This old man is my son? (Rhonda laughs.) What a strange world I live in.

JERRY: (crossing towards Richard, picks up Templeton’s pipe and a couple of feathers off the table) What a strange world I live in…. Christ, now he’s got me doing it. Sacred smoke from Injun peace pipe leave Two Feathers feeling all sky and trees inside. ( sees Richard)   Jesus. Who popped you?

RICHARD: I ran into a door.

JERRY: A rather thick one, I’d say. Must have had a door knob on it about …. this big.

RICHARD: Bigger. Much bigger. Solid brass.

JERRY: Have you talked to Father, yet?

RICHARD: I just got up.

JERRY: (looking out the window) Better have at it then…. That truck should have been here by now. I hope they didn’t forget.

SOLEDAD: (feeling under his pants) Good, boy. You’re a very good boy.

RICHARD: (from across the room)   Please don’t talk to him like he’s a child.

SOLEDAD: Just checking his diaper, sir.

RICHARD:  (stands up, starts towards Edmund and Soledad.)   You see…. Maybe you don’t understand English fully, Soledad.

SOLEDAD: I understand English, Sir.

RICHARD: Because I thought I made myself clear.   No diapers on this man.

SOLEDAD: What would you have me use then?

RICHARD:   May I suggest a man’s underwear. Boxer shorts.

SOLEDAD: Not absorbent enough, sir.

RICHARD: Then use two pair…. Use however many pair you need.

SOLEDAD: Maybe you’d like to do the laundry then. Maybe you’d like to take over.

RICHARD: Maybe I would, thank you.

SOLEDAD: That’s great. Because I quit.

RICHARD: Oh, really? Good. Because you’re fired.

SOLEDAD: No. I quit. That’s different. (exits into the kitchen) If you understand English so perfectly.

RICHARD: Hello, Grandfather. (Edmund looks at Richard suspiciously.) I’m Richard.

EDMUND: How do you do, Richard…. Are you the new butler?

RICHARD: I’m Richard. Your grandson.

EDMUND: (yelling after Soledad)   Martha!

RICHARD: Think. Look at me.

EDMUND: …. The gardener, did you say?

SOLEDAD: (from the kitchen door) Better not press him, sir.

EDMUND:   (cowed) Our new gardener is here, Martha.    

SOLEDAD: He’s getting upset…. He’s going to hold his breath.

RICHARD: (to Soledad) Didn’t you just quit?

SOLEDAD: You don’t know what’s happening.

RICHARD: Oh, yes I do.

SOLEDAD: He’s got a lot of energy, sir. You have to be careful what you say.

RICHARD: You’ve let his brain turn to mush. Treating him like a baby.

SOLEDAD: He’ll pass out…. you’ll see. If he passes out, it won’t be pretty. It’s not easy for him when he remembers.

RICHARD: It’s not easy for any of us, Soledad. When we remember. Now go mind your business somewhere. (helps Edmund, who’s holding his breath, to his feet) Come on, Grandfather. We need some air. We need to breathe deeply…. Breathe, goddamn it!

EDMUND: (exhaling) Who are you?….

RICHARD: (gives a “I told you so” look to Soledad, who now stands at the kitchen door)  I’m Richard. Your grandson. I’m taking you for a walk.

EDMUND: (as Richard firmly walks him to the door) Martha takes me for my walks. Before lunch. (holds up his bib) And I’ve already walked, or I wouldn’t have this thing on.   (scared, shouts to Soledad) Do we have new help named Richard, Martha?

RICHARD: Your grandson. Richard, your grandson … your grandson. (They exit.)

I’m taking care of you now. I’m in charge.

A silent moment of thick tension between Rhonda and Jerry.

RHONDA: … Go ahead. Go comfort her. I know you want to.

JERRY: I’d better say something.

RHONDA: Go do it. Do your manly duty.

JERRY: (crossing to kitchen) We’ve got no chance here without Soledad on our side.

RHONDA: No chance for what?

JERRY: To take father … where we have to take father.

RHONDA: Hm. You know Sir Edmund talked to me last night. He’s not so innocent and helpless as he looks. (Allie enters.) Oh, here’s another one needs comforting, looks like.

JERRY: Good morning, Allie. (checking his watch) Well, good afternoon.

RHONDA: Better soothe the pretty little maid first. I’ll keep Allie company.

JERRY: (to Allie) Excuse me a short minute…. I’ve got a wrinkle to smooth out. (exits)

RHONDA: (to Allie) Everybody’s tense in this kind of situation…. Sleep okay?

ALLIE:   Okay.

RHONDA: That was one hell of a noise in the walls. Somewhere.

ALLIE: Mice, maybe.

RHONDA: Big mice here in Massachusetts. Sounded more like boxing kangaroos.

ALLIE: I didn’t hear anything.

RHONDA: You slept right through it then. You’re the lucky one. You’re exhausted, like you said.

ALLIE: (grabbing her hair) Oh, God!… Do we have to talk first thing I get up?

RHONDA: Sorry…. Really. I beg your pardon. I didn’t know you were having hot flashes already.

ALLIE: Yieeee!

RHONDA: Oh, I know a hot flash when I see one.

ALLIE:   Excuse me. Just shut up!… I’m sorry. I’m not a polite person in the morning.

RHONDA: Oh, don’t be sorry…. But I bet if it was Jerry standing here, instead of me, you’d be polite enough…. Downright chatty. The truth be told, I’m not a polite person in the morning either. And as a day wears on, I can get downright cranky. (looks at her watch) By ten past twelve, I kind of like to say it how it is.

ALLIE: (yawning, leafing through a magazine) Is that what you’re hungering to do, Rhonda? To say it how it is? To me?

RHONDA: Sort of.

ALLIE: Then have at it. Let’s not waste time…. You’re the one having the hot flashes.

RHONDA: Oh, indeed. And this won’t take much time at all. (stands up) I don’t like you.

ALLIE: Why don’t you just come to your point, instead of beating around the bush?

RHONDA: I will. It doesn’t make me particularly happy when I see some bitch chatting up my man like they’re long lost friends. To such bitches, I want to say, why don’t you take care of your own man instead of sniffing around mine?

ALLIE: My God, you’re talking about … me, I suddenly realize.

RHONDA: You’re quick.

ALLIE: And here I never noticed the wedding ring on Jerry’s finger…. I’m becoming so unobservant. When was the happy day?

Jerry re-enters from the kitchen; stops in his tracks.

RHONDA: It hasn’t happened quite yet. But do you see the ring on this finger? That’s a real diamond. And notice the long nail at the end of this middle finger, next to the one with the diamond on it. I could scoop an eye right out of the socket with that nail. (exits, blowing on her nails)

 JERRY: (approaching Allie slowly)   Wow! What was that? I could see fire coming out of your ears. Little laps of flame.

ALLIE: More like blow torches. My God, Jerry, how can you be with this creature?

JERRY: Whoa. Creature?

ALLIE: No. I’m going to speak. This has disturbed me for a long time, so let me say it out. What in the world do you see in her?

JERRY: (going to the liquor cabinet, pouring himself a drink) Excuse me. I’m having a bad life…. And how are your intimate relationships going these days?

ALLIE: Forgive me, Jerry, but we’ve always been honest with each other. We’ve always encouraged each other to say what we think.

JERRY: Of course Rhonda’s not at her best right now. Who’s at their best when things are coming to an end?

ALLIE: What’s coming to an end?

JERRY: Rhonda and me…. Everybody. All of us. The whole world. 2015. We’ve all got just three years left. Ask Temp. It’s like a soap opera: “Three Years to Live.” What would you do if you knew you only had (melodramatic) three more years?

ALLIE: Jerry. She’s wearing a diamond ring…. You’re engaged to be married.

JERRY: Exactly. How else am I going to get rid of the bitch. You know, the final disappointment.

ALLIE: You’ve become cynical, Jerry. She’s made a cynic out of you…. Do you love Rhonda?

JERRY: Love? Do you know what love is, Allie?

ALLIE: Maybe not. But I know what love isn’t. And I can also add one plus one: this diamond ring on Rhonda’s finger and that it’s been a long time since your last book now.

JERRY: One plus one, huh?

ALLIE: Yes. You’ve abandoned your calling for her, and she’s not even a good person.

JERRY: Come on. Who’s better than anybody else in this world?

ALLIE: She’s not a good person for you, I mean.

JERRY: Rhonda’s vital.

ALLIE: Vital! You can’t even talk five seconds with her before she takes something wrong….  How can a man of powerful words, like you, be intimate with somebody you can’t even talk to?… My God. You’ve given up. You, of all people…. The characters in your books don’t leave a person by marrying her.

JERRY: (goes to a wall mirror) But real life’s another story, isn’t it? Come here. Stand beside me before the mirror. (She comes.) Tell me you don’t see a huge difference from five years ago?… Take a look a ripe fruit.   Me, I’m talking about.

ALLIE: So?   Not overripe, I dare say.

JERRY: You’re kind…. And look who I want to stand beside? Somebody like you. (counts on his fingers) Somebody beautiful,… talented, passionate, smart,… young. (brings his eyes from the mirror to her) Somebody who’s all of those things (walking away) and who’s not my daughter-in-law. That’s who I want to stand beside.

ALLIE: And you see Rhonda as all those things?

JERRY: You start running out of time, Allie. But you’re too young to know that yet.

ALLIE: You must be referring to this “ripe fruit” thing again….   What’s so wrong with being a ripe fruit?

JERRY: Nothing. Except it’s about to fall off the tree. To be trampled upon by careless children. (Allie laughs.) To become squishy and ugly to the touch. To be raked up into a plastic bag and set out on a curb. Hauled off to the great garbage dump of the world, and there to rot into the whole meaningless nothingness of it all…. Sound like a good time to you?

ALLIE: (Allie laughs again.) At least you’re still funny.

JERRY: Who’s trying to be funny?

ALLIE: That’s why you are. You’re not trying…. Why couldn’t one see getting ripe as, say, coming to the perfection of yourself?

JERRY: Like my father, you must mean?

ALLIE: God, Jerry, I just laughed. (pause) You know the last time I laughed? Five years ago. The last time I saw you…. Should laughter be so rare as that? (she hugs him, then turns away) I’ve missed you, damn it…. Don’t think of yourself as over the hill, please. … Think of you like this. You’ve reached the summit. You’ve arrived. If you’re a ripe pear, or apple, or peach, so what? Don’t fall to the ground at all. Let someone who can really appreciate and love a man like you, pluck you off the tree herself and eat you up. Not Rhonda. You know it can’t be Rhonda. Someone who’s not Rhonda (laughs) and who’s not your daughter-in-law, should buy a pick-up truck, with a camper on the back, and the two of you should take off together, down the back roads of America, camping in the Rocky Mountains, beside roaring rivers, or on the ocean, on those cliffs overlooking the Pacific, and she should eat you up, the juice just rolling off her chin…. Then she should give that little string of a pear core or that peach pit a proper, respectful burial…. I mean not just toss it out the window.

 JERRY: Ha! You’re a writer, Allie. I’ve always known that…. You never should have stopped. You should start up again. Would you like to be my protégé?

ALLIE: Yes, I would actually. I was thinking just that. Writing again. Starting up.

JERRY: (walking away) Okay, you’re my protégé. So, in this once again brief moment of time life gives us, to work together on our craft, let me first confess, my protégé, what a cunning worm your teacher can be. When Temp told me last night that you and Richard were on the rocks, my first thought was I might have a go at you myself…. Nice father, huh?… And is it true, about you and Richard? What Templeton said?    

 ALLIE: It’s over, Jerry…. I hate Richard. He has to be so in control all the time. Like driving here. He couldn’t give up the wheel. He had to drive the whole way…. And it was my car. We came in my car.

JERRY: Well, if there’s hate, there’s still feeling.

Allie: I don’t know.

JERRY: Is there someone else?

ALLIE: We married too young, that’s the real problem. There was Templeton already coming. Now I’m almost 40, and there’s this 25 year old inside me, this unlived life that wants to burst out.

JERRY: But, I’m asking, has this unlived you … picked a companion?

ALLIE: Richard thinks so….. He thinks it’s his understudy.

JERRY: His understudy for Hamlet…. Ouch. That even hurts me.

ALLIE: And we did have … we thought we had … for a little while … but it was really over before it started…. It doesn’t matter. Because, regardless of where I am with this “understudy,” I’m not with Richard anymore. I’m not thinking about him. Or if I am, it’s like a burden I have to carry. Or a storm gathering.

JERRY: (walks away, pauses) The storm’s already gathered, by the looks of that shiner you gave him…. I assume it was you. I doubt it was Temp? Or Soledad? Wasn’t me, although I’m sure there’s been the time or two we all would have liked to.

ALLIE: Anyway, do we have to jump right into unpleasant subjects. I see you, what,… once every five years? (lights a cigarette) Did you smoke pot with Templeton last night?

JERRY: Why do you ask?

ALLIE: You’re talking like you’re still a little stoned…. I’ve had a lot of practice observing such things.

JERRY: Yeah. We “shared” a couple of puffs, Raven and I.

ALLIE: They obviously they didn’t find everything he had at the border.

Richard appears at an exit to the inner rooms. Observing, unobserved

JERRY: No. (laughing, sitting next to Allie on the love seat) They forgot to look in his magic pocket.

ALLIE: (laughing) Did you get a chance to talk?

JERRY: Yeah. We talked a little … between tokes. (laughing) Some of it was in Hindi?

ALLIE:   What a waste, Jerry. I’m sick about it. He’s in total rebellion. (laughing) And this Hare Krishna business. It’s so embarrassing. He has no relationship with his father.

Richard exits, unobserved.

JERRY: And too much with his mother, maybe. That’s a common pattern, I read.

ALLIE: Well, what am I supposed to do?… I wish he could be around you for awhile…. You’d be great for him. And look how little you see each other. It was five years ago we came out west. And you’ve never once come to Toronto. He loves you. He adores you.

JERRY: Hm. You mean he loves my books. He adores Joshua Newhart.

ALLIE: Well, me too. You know that. I adore Josh Newhart…. Talking about him is one of the few things that really bring Temp and me together anymore.

Temp, disheveled, carrying a blanket, enters from one of the exits to the interior rooms, and flops onto the lazy-boy, pulls a blanket over his head. Jerry sees him; Allie doesn’t.

JERRY: Trouble is, Josh Newhart doesn’t exist in real life.

ALLIE: Of course he exists. You created him. In my life, he’s as real as any person.

JERRY: Let’s say Joshua Newhart is who I might have been if I knew at his age what I know now. That’s my new definition of old age, Allie. Old age is being too old to do things I was too young to do when I was young.

ALLIE: Oh, now you’re not funny at all. Because you’re trying to be.

JERRY: Josh Newhart is a man that has been entirely thought up.

ALLIE: We create our own lives by how we see them. That’s your number one theme.   It’s in every book you write…. (plucks a book out of her pocket)  Look at Newhart in “Silver City.” He’s around your age. What’s he not doing? What?… I’ve been impacted by your books, too, Jerry. Don’t try to make them less to me. I can pick up a book of yours any time, day or night, and hear your voice…. I love that. I need your voice in my life. Don’t say that’s not real.

JERRY: I won’t. I won’t say it again.

ALLIE: Jerry, there has been a question I’ve been wanting to ask you? Just tell me the honest truth, promise.

JERRY: Cross my heart and hope to die.

ALLIE: Jerri Lynn. The bar-maid, in “Silver City,” who all the men are in love with, but she’s in love with Newhart, her dad’s best friend. And she’s comfortable about it, at least privately. The age difference and all. You described her from my looks, didn’t you?

JERRY: No comment.

ALLIE: (reading) “Jerri Lynn was a brunette who could size up a man’s power with one quick look. She had an instinct to know immediately, even in a stranger, from cowpoke to gunslinger to snake oil salesman, the size of his power. And if she saw that power was as big as her own, no matter how far beneath the surface he might be carrying it, she wanted to lie down with that man.”… I was so angry at you, at first. A bar maid. The queen of a wild west tavern scene…. I knew it was me. I just wanted you to say it.

Richard appears at the door, sees Allie and Jerry still talking and stands there, crossing his arms. This time Allie sees him.  

ALLIE:   Please. Can we talk again, before we all go our separate ways? I need to talk to you some more. Alone. (exits, cold-shouldering Richard)

RICHARD: Get up, Temp. Get your lazy ass up and get dressed. (to Jerry) God, how relaxed can you get, huh? In someone else’s home. (jostles him) Get up. Get up.

JERRY: You should relax a little, Richard. It’s his home, too.

RICHARD: Not yet, it ain’t. Get up!

TEMP: What?… Damn it. Leave me alone.

RICHARD: Go take a bath and put on some decent clothes for dinner.

TEMP:   I’m not dirty, and I’m already decent. Let me sleep a little more.

RICHARD: I told you to bring a change of clothes.

TEMP: I forgot.

RICHARD: You’re wearing this Hare Krishna shit to dinner? Not with me, you ain’t.

TEMP: Clothes, Dad. Clothes. (slowly standing) Clothes…. Jesus, who popped you?

RICHARD: (lifts his hand as if to back hand him, then drops his hand) What are you? Twelve? Two? Get out of my sight before I do something you’ll be sorry for.

TEMP: Ay no problema…. (Templeton gets up, in slow motion, shakes himself, then crosses to the near exit hallway)   You know, Dad, you should try reading something that wasn’t written a thousand years ago. You should read one of the 2015 books. The whole earth’s going to go through a kind of death in 2015. It’s in about fifty ancient prophecies, from diverse cultures that supposedly had no contact with each other. That’s three years from now. Three little years, and everything’s over. The end of the world as we know it. So there’s really not a whole lot of point in being all anal anymore. If you’re waiting for the perfect stool, you know. (exits)

RICHARD: Do you see what I mean? Hm?… The kid’s nuts. Out and out nuts. And who said insanity didn’t run in the Mallory family?

JERRY: Not me. I never said it.

RICHARD: Do you have anything the boy can wear to dinner? He’s about your size.

JERRY: I maybe can dig something up. Now whether we could get it on him, that’s another story…. He’s not a boy anymore, Richard.

RICHARD: No. He’s an infant.

JERRY: Speaking of infants, where’s Dad? I thought you were in charge of him now?

RICHARD: It’s a miracle I’m not in jail at this very moment. That ignoramus of a grandson of yours dares to come over the goddamn border with pot in his pocket.

JERRY: Do I have an ignoramus for a grandson?

RICHARD: You surely do. I’m not in jail right now because, by some strange quirk of fate, the customs guy knows who I am. He’s a fan of mine. Has seen me act, believe it or not. Loves Shakespeare. A customs’ agent, on the American side of the border, loves Shakespeare and has seen me act. What are the odds? And what does he do? He flushes the shit down the toilet, risks his job for me or I’d be in jail right now. Allie’s car would be confiscated. There would be no more Hamlet. No England…. I don’t want the kid in my home again, Dad. I don’t even like my own son. Allie can have him. She can go live with him in Vancouver. I don’t want either one of them in my life.  

JERRY: Your grandfather pissed himself again, didn’t he?

RICHARD: Christ. You didn’t hear a word I said.

JERRY: Well, I guess it’s time you learned how to change a diaper.

RICHARD: Soledad’s changing him.

JERRY:   Soledad’s changing him! Bravo. That must have been one hell of an apology. Talk about putting your acting talents to real life use.

RICHARD: She’s an asshole. Temp’s an asshole. Allie’s an asshole. You’re an asshole. You’re all assholes. (as he is leaving, to Jerry and as if to an audience) To think of the years. Does anybody know what this takes out of a man? The work. The practice. The waiting. Understudying all the parts you really want to play. Learning a whole part and never getting to play it once. Waiting your turn. Learning. Always waiting. Becoming another person again and again. But always an older person. Always an older character to play. Too old for Romeo. On the cusp of too old to play Hamlet, one more year, two at best, and then, at the last minute of the last possible day, the phone rings. You’ve been chosen. You’ve been cast to play the most important character of the greatest playwright ever, in the Globe, the most prestigious theatre in the world. And nobody cares. Nobody you love cares. You live in a loveless world.

JERRY: (applauds) Whew, Richard. Jesus. Let me level with you for a minute. Me to you. Eye to eye. Level.

RICHARD: It’s a bit late in the day, isn’t it Dad? To be level?… I don’t know if I can lower myself down that far.

JERRY: Try. This once…. I think you should rest the Shakespeare thing for awhile.

RICHARD: And up yours, too.

JERRY: I mean it. Your personality has grown much more histrionic since I saw you five years ago. You seem to be forgetting a little bit when you’re on and off the stage…. I think you need a little R & R. Some time off. Take a trip.

RICHARD: How brilliant you are, Father. A trip. A couple weeks in Paris, by myself. What a tonic that would be. What do I owe you for this insight, father, for this exemplary piece of parenting?

JERRY: Parenting? Who’s parenting?   For Christ’s sake. You’re 40 years old.

RICHARD: What were you and Allie talking about, just now?… God, it was a perfect flashback to when we were all living here together. I’d walk in on you two laughing, and then silence….

JERRY: Why are you so desperate, Richard?

RICHARD: (chesting him) I’m not desperate.

JERRY: You walk around in a daze of pompous insecurity. Your wife gives you a black eye…. Who t’ hell do you think you’re kidding, son?

RICHARD: And don’t call me son. Unless you goddamn feel it.

Soledad comes in, with Edmund.    

SOLEDAD: There, sir. He’s changed. And that doesn’t mean I’m still working here.

RICHARD: Right. Agreed. I’m assuming nothing. Thank you, Soledad.

SOLEDAD: He’s still a human being.

RICHARD: I’m sorry for the way I spoke to you.

SOLEDAD: And if you think he’s not going to wear diapers at the Old Folks Home, you’re fooling yourself. You too, Jerry. (Richard exits with Edmund) And “sorry” isn’t going to do Sir Edmund any good at all. Or me. I knew it would come to this some day. I have nothing…. I am nothing. My life has come to nothing.

JERRY: (coming to her) Come on, Soledad. Remember what I told you in the kitchen.   It’s times like these that something big can open up. You deserve something nice, and it can happen – just when it looks the darkest.

SOLEDAD: That’s easy for you to say….

JERRY: No. It’s not.

SOLEDAD: I can’t go back to Mexico. I can’t stay here. I’m not even legal. I’m nothing.

JERRY: You’re not nothing, and I told you I’d help you.

SOLEDAD: Take me with you then. When you go…. If you want to help me…. If I deserve something nice.

JERRY: (comes to her, speaks in hushed voice) I can’t take you with me, right now. But I’m not going to forget you.

SOLEDAD: Do you promise?


SOLEDAD: Look at me. Feeling sorry for myself. I can make it on my own.

JERRY: That’s the spirit. We need you right now. This family is what is nothing… nothing without you. And as long as I’m alive—–

SOLEDAD: (as she is exiting into the hallway with a stack of sheets in hers hands: turns) Stay alive, Jerry…. Stay alive as long as you can.

JERRY: I will. I promise. I owe you that…. Have you seen Templeton yet?   He’s been aching to see you…. He’s a Buddhist now. He’s been looking all over. He goes by Raven these days. He’s dying to tell you all about it.

Lights down in the salon; up in an outside scene, either extreme stage left or right, or in front of the stage. Richard is sitting on a bench with Edmund.  

RICHARD: Did Soledad read you the letters I sent? I’ll be playing Hamlet this summer in Stratford. And then in the fall we’re taking it across the pond. To London. The Globe. I wish you could be there…. It’d be a strength to me to know you were in the audience.

…. Grandfather. I’m lost.   I am so lost.

EDMUND: … lost …

RICHARD: People jump to their feet to applaud me in the theater. And I look out and see such love and adoration. And I go back stage,… and nobody, nothing. I’m a dead man who doesn’t know he’s dead but walks and talks and says things he used to say, gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, as if…. O God, God, how weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!

EDMUND: Fie on’t, ah fie, ‘tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely.

Richard takes out the picture of Allie that he had looked at in their room.

RICHARD: Allie doesn’t love me anymore, Grandfather….

EDMUND: Think not on’t,… frailty thy name is woman,…

RICHARD: There’s nothing left in her heart for me. Not one single memory of our 25 years together that warms her heart…. that she wants to linger over. She has wounded me, grandfather. She’s has delivered me a mortal wound.

Richard slumps onto the bench next to Edmund, who takes the picture out of his hand and rips it in two. Lights down. Lights up on Soledad coming into Allie’s room, where Temp is meditating on the bed.

SOLEDAD: Oh…. I’m sorry. I thought this room was empty.

TEMP: Soledad.

SOLEDAD: Templeton?… Is that you?… My god. You’re a man.

TEMP: I am.

SOLEDAD: You are.

TEMP: You look the same, Soledad.

SOLEDAD:   I do?…. We’d better not turn the big light on then.

TEMP: No. Why should we? This is enough light. Look. I happened onto this old family photo album. From when we were all living here together…. I just loaded this bowl, by the way. Would you like to join me?

SOLEDAD: Hm. Maybe one little hit…. It’s been awhile.

Lights down; lights back up on Richard and Edmund outside, Richard standing.

RICHARD: To be or not to be. That is the question.

EDMUND: No. No, no, no. Listen to me. Sink into it. The woman is gone. Hamlet has given up the woman. Ophelia. His mother. All of them. He has given them up. All hope that the woman can complete him. All hope a woman can save him from his fate. From his destiny. What he has to do. As a man. It hurts to feel what Hamlet’s feeling, more than any other feeling. That’s why it’s the greatest play…. You take that loss of woman and make a strength out of it. Even at your lowest moment. When you want to die. Like right now…. Once more. From the top.

RICHARD: To be, or not to be. That is the question:

EDMUND: (softly) Yes…. To be or not to be … Make it a thing you’re choosing.

Make it a choice you’re making.

RICHARD: Whether it’s nobler in the mind to suffer …

EDMUND: To suffer …

RICHARD: … to suffer … the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them…. To die, to sleep—no more—and by a sleep to say we end the heartache….

EDMUND: … and by a sleep to say we end the heartache…. Oh, son. You’re feeling the words. You’re taking it to another level…. This could be your greatest performance, ever. So far.

Lights up on Soledad and Templeton sitting beside each other on the bed looking at a photo album.

TEMP: Here you’re running through a lawn waterer. In your swimming suit.   Look at you. I remember taking this picture. It could have been yesterday. (closes the album and takes a breath) After we moved to Canada, there was like a little ache in my heart all the time. At first, I thought it would go away. But it never did. And I’ve had lots of women. Don’t think I haven’t.

SOLEDAD: Templeton…. You were ten when you left…. What could you have known about heartache?

TEMP: What’s age got to do with heartache? Nothing. I remember how you would walk behind me, if I was at the table eating or something, and touch my hair. Maybe you didn’t understand what that little flick of my hair stirred up in me…. Or maybe you did.

SOLEDAD: What do these clothes mean, Temp? Are you a Buddhist now? I’ve been hearing.

TEMP: I’m an everything, Soledad. Buddhist. Christian. A Hopi Indian. Mom and Dad think I’m a Hare Krishna. Okay, I’m a Hare Krishna. What’s wrong with Hare Krishnas? They just give their whole heart to life, that’s all.

SOLEDAD: I don’t even know what a Hare Krishna is…. Or a Buddhist.

TEMP: Krishna is Hindu. The Buddha was a Hindu to begin with. Before he fully awakened. Like Jesus was a Jew…. But really he was a Hindu too. If you read the Gnostic gospels. Hindu. Buddhist. Christian. Jew. Muslim. Those labels don’t mean anything. That’s what the Buddha says.

SOLEDAD: They seem to mean something to you. If you wear these clothes.

TEMP: Just clothes. I can take them off. I would like to. I could live without them. It’s not anything we have to be ashamed about. Having bodies.

SOLEDAD: But wouldn’t you want there to be … just one person you took off your clothes with?

TEMP: Well, you’ve got a point there.

SOLEDAD: What’s a Buddhist believe in?

TEMP: They believe in nothing, really. But in a good way. Buddhists says that nothing can be really known. Buddha is your Jesus, actually.


TEMP: In a big way. Jesus was pretty much saying you have to have faith. Having faith means not really knowing.

SOLEDAD: God. You talk just like your grandfather…. These are the kind of talks we would have. I never understood the half of it with him either….

TEMP: You were a little bit in love with Grandfather, weren’t you? Back then? When we all lived here together? (Soledad turns aside.) I could see it…. I still see it. In these pictures.

SOLEDAD: Temp. I was in an awful situation. These men — they were nicely dressed, expensive cars, everything. Spoke perfect Spanish, like the rich people. We were so poor in Mexico. We were hungry, Temp. We were wearing rags. They gave my father some money and flew me to Boston. Said they would find a place for me to work, and I could send money home and … I can’t tell you everything. I ran away. I didn’t have a penny. Didn’t speak English – well, I’d learned a few words. I stood in the morning shadows on a busy downtown corner, and the Holy Mother kept telling me I would know when it was the one. Several times I started to reach out, like a beggar, but She’d stop me. She told me I’d see a light coming out of his forehead. And then Jerry walked around the corner. At first I didn’t know — was that the light Holy Mother meant or the sun shining off the glass buildings? I couldn’t wait any longer. If I waited longer, I would die. I jumped in front of him, and touched his forehead, right here, where the light was coming out, and said the three English words I knew. “Please help me.”

TEMP: … Grandfather. He tells almost that same story in “Ghost Town,” but the other way around. The light is coming out of you.

SOLEDAD: Out of Maria.

TEMP: He says those words to you. “Please help me.”

SOLEDAD: Yes. To Maria. In the book.

TEMP: You were in love with grandfather, and I was in love with you…. There was a lot of love going on in this house in those days.

He pulls her into him.

SOLEDAD: Templeton.

TEMP: Raven.   Please. Say, Raven.

SOLEDAD: Raven. Don’t…. I can’t breathe.

TEMP: I came all this way to see you…. We’re almost the same age now, can’t you see.   Very little difference now. You should look at me. With new eyes. You should breathe. We should breathe together.

SOLEDAD: You’re just like your grandfather, I swear.

TEMP: (takes a long inhalation)   Can I kiss you, Soledad?

SOLEDAD: You’re just like him.

Lights down upstairs, up in salon. Jerry is lying on Edmund’s couch. Rhonda bursts in.

RHONDA: We’re finished, Jerry. I can’t take it anymore. Call me a cab. I’m packing. I’m out of here … before I kill that moron daughter-in-law of yours.

JERRY: Do I have a moron daughter-in-law?

RHONDA: Yes. You surely do.

JERRY: Whatever she said, Rhonda, I’m sure you took it the wrong way.

RHONDA: Go ahead and take her side. You always do. You take everybody’s side but mine. (nearly crying) But do you think I care anymore? Good-bye Jerry.

JERRY: Where do you think you’re going?… Come here…. I want to talk to you…. I’m preoccupied, can’t you see. I’m not my best self right now.

RHONDA: What “best self” is that? Have I ever seen it?

JERRY: I need to talk to you.

RHONDA: You don’t need anything from me.

JERRY: I want to ask you a question.

RHONDA: (at the door, still pouting, but curious)  What?

JERRY: What do you do when you don’t love your own son? I mean maybe you love him — what’s love?– but you don’t like him. There’s something about him that you don’t like that he couldn’t change even if he wanted to…   What do you do?

RHONDA: You’re so full of yourself…. You didn’t hear a word I just said. I’m leaving you, Jerry. It’s over. Between us.

JERRY: I did. I did hear. We’ll get to that. But can we talk a minute first? I’m carrying a burden. I need a new perspective. I can’t bear my own son. Just his presence. I can’t stand to be around him.

RHONDA: Well, you sure in hell love to be around your son’s wife. Honestly, Jerry, if I were Richard I’d smash your face in. The way you and that bitch flirt. You’re shameless.

JERRY: Christ, Rhonda. I was reaching out for you. Couldn’t we one time just … talk? Explore life a little together? Do you always have to be this burning ball of jealousy?

RHONDA: Me? Jealous. Maybe you should take a look at yourself, Mr. Senior Citizen.   Cowboy. You’re jealous of your son.

JERRY: I’m jealous of Richard?

RHONDA: Good guess…. Since he’s your only son.

JERRY: I wish I were jealous of him. That’s half the trouble. He’s too mediocre to make me jealous.

RHONDA: Richard? Mediocre? Hm. Richard’s stunning. He’s got greatness in him. One of the elite actors on this planet? And drop dead gorgeous to boot.

JERRY: But he’s always acting…. He’s always goddamn acting and I can’t stand it.

RHONDA:  Of course you can’t. As you’re drying up, Richard is reaching the pinnacle of his career. And he’s married to the woman you’re in love with. So you can go fuck yourself. I’m done with you. At last. It feels so good.

JERRY: You know what I think the problem is? We’ve never really had it out.

RHONDA: You bet we haven’t.

JERRY: I mean Richard and I….   There’s something in him that really wants to have it out with me. Some huge fight to the death…. I was always too strong for him.

RHONDA: That I’d like to see. You and Richard fighting to the death. You’re talking like a young man, Jerry. He’d kill you.

JERRY: So what? What would be the big deal? Why live another day?

RHONDA: You’re so much talk. Why don’t you go ahead and fight to the death then? I’d like to see it.

JERRY: And who would you be for? If Richard and I fought to the death?

RHONDA: I’d be for the winner. Richard. Naturally.

JERRY:   That’s what I like about you Rhonda. You’re honest. You’ve got no false loyalty…. But if Richard and I fought to the death, then you’d have to fight to the death with Allie. For the winner.

RHONDA: That’d take about ten seconds.

JERRY: Maybe we should fight to the death, too.

RHONDA: You and me?

JERRY: We could use a little catharsis, don’t you think?

He makes a playful charge at her. She screams and runs for the door. When she sees he’s not coming, she stops and looks back.

 RHONDA: You’re sick, Jerry. You need help. Professional help.

JERRY: (crossing to the exit to the outside) What a tame world we live in Rhonda. What a false and tame world.

RHONDA: Where are you going now?

JERRY: I’m going to see a man about a truck.

Rhonda exits to her upstairs room; Jerry exits to the outside; lights down.

 Lights up on Soledad and Templeton, Soledad buttoning her blouse

SOLEDAD:   Oh, Raven. I had no idea. You had all that … inside you.

TEMP: (lying on back, his feet over the end of the bed) I think I’m in heaven.

SOLEDAD:   My God.

TEMP: (sits up) Soledad. I know this is quick, but we don’t have a lot of time. We’ve got to think fast if we’ve going to act….   I heard everything downstairs. Dad firing you, all that. Look…. Here’s my point. You don’t have anyplace to go. I don’t have anyplace to go. I’ve got two grand in my magic pocket right now. How much have you saved up?

SOLEDAD: In my magic pocket?

TEMP: You know. Under a mattress. Anywhere.

SOLEDAD: A little…. About the same maybe.

TEMP: I know I can buy a vehicle for four grand that will get us wherever we want to go. We’re joined now, you know. We’ve become one. I saw a used car place on our way in last night. On the highway.   No more than a mile from here…. We could walk and be back with our own van in an hour.

SOLEDAD: What are you saying, Raven? Are you proposing to me?

TEMP:  Yes. Let’s go off together.

SOLEDAD: Are you proposing marriage, or going off together?

TEMP:   Going off together.

SOLEDAD: I thought so.

TEMP: Because we’re already married. I don’t care about that piece of paper.

SOLEDAD: Oh?… What about el Senor, then?

TEMP: You have to let go. I already heard Dad talking about selling the place. And how long is Great-granddad going to last anyway?

SOLEDAD: Not long at all.   Without me…. Raven. What if I’m pregnant?… I’ve got a feeling…. I’ve always known.

TEMP: You are. I bet you are. I hope so. We’re leaving. And we’re leaving with each other. We’re going to make a new world together. This old world. It’s all over.

Lights start to go slowly down.

SOLEDAD: Then we take Edmund with us.

TEMP: (pause) Edmund wants to die, Soledad.

SOLEDAD: No he doesn’t. Nobody does. Ever. Not really.

TEMP: He wants to die, I’m telling you. He practically told me.

SOLEDAD: Then let him die with us. Let him die in our arms.

TEMP: It would ruin everything, if we had to carry—-

SOLEDAD: No, it wouldn’t. It would ruin everything the other way. If we left him in an old’s folks home. If we left him behind…. Do you want me, Raven? You don’t have to marry me. Not in a church. We’ll say that … in the bed, that was our marriage. Okay. But we have to take Edmund. Then God will love us. It’s the only way…. Do you want me, Raven? Do you really want me? Buy that van…. Make it a red one, if you have a choice. I know a place in Mexico where old people never die and young … (voice fades)

Lights down on Temp and Soledad; up outside, on Richard and Edmund

EDMUND: It’s that supposed next country that convinces Hamlet. What if you go to the next world, like Hamlet’s father, a ghost, and in the next world you can’t act at all. What if in the next world, you suffer, the same as in this world, only now without a body. That would be hell. In choosing to be, Hamlet has to act. In this world. Once you’ve chosen to be, you have to act…. You have to stand up to Jerry.   He’s not your real father, Richard.

RICHARD: What do you mean?… I always wondered.

EDMUND: I mean spiritually. You’ve got to get past Jerry. Symbolically I mean. You are running out of chances. You’re chances are down to now or never, I perceive. And now will never come again. This is the time.

RICHARD: How? How do I stand up to him? I tell him to go to hell every other sentence. You don’t know how many times.

EDMUND: Not words, I’m talking about here. He’s inviting you to stand up to him. I see the way he makes light of you.

RICHARD: You see everything, don’t you Grandfather.

EDMUND: No. A bit here, a bit there. Nothing lasts. Nothing stays put…. Oh, son, could I play Lear now. I’m into something big. Inside myself. Nothing prepares you to lose your mind. Shakespeare had a glimpse. The Greek tragedies. The Bible…. Oh, dear. I’m afraid I’ve had an … accident…. Don’t tell, Jerry, please. I’m counting on you, Richard, to do the right thing. (lights out)

Lights up on Allie in the salon, calling out the door into the darkness

ALLIE:  Temp!…  Templeton. Come in. I’ve found you some clothes. It’s almost time to go. Templeton.   (lights out)

Lights up on room where Templeton and Soledad have been.

SOLEDAD: Raven!… Oh, God. Raven!… Raven!… Oh, God!

Soft lights up on Richard and Edmund, Edmund crying, Richard calling up the stairs.

RICHARD: (standing hand in hand with Edmund, who is crying like a small boy) : Soledad. Soledad. I need some help down here, Soledad.

Soledad appears, disheveled, buttoning her blouse. She takes Edmund’s hand.

 SOLEDAD: It’s okay. I’m here. I’m right here. Breathe…. Breathe. Sir Edmund. Breathe.

Edmund slowly takes command of himself.  

EDMUND: Breathe.

SOLEDAD: Breathe.   (lights start to go down)

EDMUND: I don’t want to breathe … anymore.

SOLEDAD: That’s not for you to say. Now breathe.

Lights up on Rhonda packing, in her and Jerry’s room. She’s crying, wiping her eyes. Richard shows up at the door.


RHONDA: Richard. My God, you startled me.

RICHARD: What are you doing?

RHONDA: I’m packing. What’s going on?

RICHARD: Just wandering … the halls   The dusty hallways of my past. Is this your room?

RHONDA: It “was” my room.

RICHARD:   It “was” my room too.   When I was a boy…. Cute. Soledad gave it to you and Dad…. (looking around the room, goes to the wall) See this picture. That’s me as a kid. (grabs another) This too. That’s my mother and I. (another) Edmund and I….

RHONDA: That’s you. Looks like Templeton. Look at yourself. You were darling….

RICHARD: I always thought Templeton looked like his mother.

RHONDA: No. Lucky for him.

RICHARD: You’ll never see a picture of Dad and me, though. Never…. Oh, Rhonda, I’m so angry at my father.

RHONDA: I know…. Your father’s not an easy person to get along with, Richard.

RICHARD: What do you see in him that kept you together all these years?

RHONDA: I don’t know myself anymore.

RICHARD: What did you ever see in him?

RHONDA: Hmm…. His talent, maybe…. His talent was the first thing.

RICHARD: Talent?

RHONDA: I once thought I’d go some place with Jerry. Hollywood was interested in his books. You know the story.

RICHARD: You “made” that movie, by the way. “Six Shooter.” I mean that. Not the writing. That movie was nothing without you. You’ve got something. Some deep sex appeal…. You don’t mind that I say that.

RHONDA: Not at all. It means a lot to me that you think so, Richard.

RICHARD: Anyway, say Dad did have a big talent, and I doubt it, where does talent get anyone in this world?

RHONDA: It’s attractive in a man. If he can use words. If he can say what he wants to. Jerry can write, you have to admit that…. Could write, anyway.

RICHARD: Cowboy novels?

RHONDA: Yeah, but we can give him a little bit of credit. You find yourself in those novels. You find yourself looking in a mirror.

RICHARD: As a cowgirl, I guess.

RHONDA: That’s the outer garb, a lot of time…. He plays around with that. Anyway, you asked me. Just because a guy’s a good writer doesn’t make him a good person. A good companion…. I’m leaving Jerry, Richard.

RICHARD: You’re always leaving him. You’re leaving him every time I see you.

RHONDA: This time for real.

They look at each other.   Rhonda puts her face in her hands and weeps.

RICHARD: I’m sorry, Rhonda. What was I thinking…. I just barge in here—-

RHONDA: No. It’s okay, Richard. I like it that you … just barge in … here.

RICHARD: You do?

RHONDA: Sure…. Why not? One thing, when you barge in, you’re going to find out if you’re welcome.

RICHARD: (tentatively) I’m welcome, you’re saying.

RHONDA: You’re more than welcome.

RICHARD: It feels good to be welcome … for a change.

RHONDA: You have talent too, Richard. Don’t take my talking about Jerry’s talent that I don’t see your talent. And you’re young. You’re in your prime…. Don’t you see?   It’s you life is smiling on. Not your father.

RICHARD: When I saw you … I guess it’s been a few years now, but when I saw you in “Six-Shooter”… I have a confession to make. I know you’ve seen me act. You’ve seen me on the stage…. Have you ever thought of … if nothing was in the way … How do I say this? Have you ever thought of … you and me. I’m just asking…. Because I have. I’ve thought of “you and me” from time to time.

RHONDA: I like you, Richard. I always have…. Does that answer your question?

RICHARD: Not quite.

RHONDA: Okay. I’ll try again. (holds up car keys) Maybe we should take a ride,… someplace, away from here and all this. And talk about … stuff.   Theatre…. Movies.

RICHARD: (pause) You mean,… now.

RHONDA: Now’s the best time for almost everything, Jerry always says. Look. You and Allie are finished, that’s pretty obvious. And your father and I are finished. Here we are. In the bedroom of your childhood dreams, I would imagine. Dreams I can appreciate, being an actor, too. Both of us actors and all. Both young. Opportunity knocks just once sometimes.

RICHARD: What about grandfather?

RHONDA: What about him?

RICHARD: I’m in charge now. He just pissed himself.

RHONDA: Oh, Jesus. Who’s changing him?

RICHARD: Soledad.

RHONDA: Well, there’s your answer. It’s about time she did something for her keep…. What’s wrong, Richard? What’s really wrong.   In all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never seen you so out of balance,… so not yourself. (touches his black eye) How did you get this?


RHONDA: (pulling her hand back) What?

RICHARD: No. That felt good…. Your fingers … on my eye. (She slowly touches him again.) Do you know how long it’s been since? …

RHONDA: Too long. I know it’s been too long.    

Lights down on Rhonda and Richard. Up in another room upstairs, where Soledad has just finished changing Edmund. As they talk, unbeknown to either of them, first Templeton, then Richard then Jerry briefly peek in the door with intervals between.

SOLEDAD: There, Sir. Good as new.

EDMUND: Good as new. (laughs) Soledad.

SOLEDAD: You called me by my name, Sir…. It’s been a long time since you’ve called me by my name…. Most of the time you think I’m Martha…. It doesn’t matter all that much, does it?…

EDMUND: Martha’s dead…. Isn’t she?…. And Cordelia. I loved her so much. What one life asks the human heart to bear, Soledad?   It’s too much.

SOLEDAD: She loved you, too, sir.

EDMUND: Precisely.

SOLEDAD: Shall I take you downstairs?

EDMUND: No. I’ll stay here….

SOLEDAD: By yourself.

EDMUND: Yes…. But before you go, tell me that story about … that place again.

SOLEDAD: Real de Catorce. (lights start to go down)

EDMUND: Yes. Where young people never grow old.

SOLEDAD: And old people never die.

A short musical interlude, to indicate time passing

Scene ii

A couple hours later. Rhonda, changed clothes, comes in from one exit, her luggage in hand, at the same time Allie enters from another. They immediately veer away from each other.

 RHONDA: Where is everybody?

ALLIE: Have you seen Temp? (looking out window) I’ve been looking all over for him.

RHONDA: (dryly) Did you check your room?

ALLIE: I see the van has finally arrived…. What’s this?… There’s a pick-up coming up the drive. With a camper on the back. Hm…. What do you mean, did I check my room?

RHONDA: The last I saw him, Templeton was upstairs in your room.

ALLIE: In my room?

RHONDA: With Soledad. I was lost for a few minutes. I guess I made a wrong turn, or something. This mansion is like a labyrinth to me. I was in quite the dream land, but I’ll spare you the details. And I heard this whispering behind your door. It was Soledad and Temp, I’m sure of it. Then the whispering stopped, and there were these “other” noises. Go figure. It’s a little hot in here, don’t you think?   Or I’m having a hot flash right now. You, too?

ALLIE: You are an unbelievable bitch. What Jerry sees in you I’ll never know. (starts to exit; stops when Rhonda speaks)

RHONDA: Jerry? Jerry and I are finished, if you haven’t heard yet. He’s all yours, if you want him. And you won’t find Temp up there now, if that’s who you’re looking for. Soledad either. I saw them from an upstairs window, just a few minutes ago, walking down the driveway … hand in hand.   (clasps her hands on her chest)

ALLIE: (aggressively approaching Rhonda) Keep out my business, you understand?

RHONDA: (Jerry enters from the exit to outside) Here he is. Your dream come true.

RICHARD: (entering at the same time as Jerry, from an interior exit, and also carrying a suitcase) I see the van’s finally here…. But who belongs to that camper truck? (Allie slaps Rhonda face. This starts it going.) Oh, Christ!

Richard pulls Allie off Rhonda; and Jerry pulls Rhonda off Allie. It takes some work. For a minute Allie turns on Richard, and Rhonda turns on Jerry.

 JERRY: Okay, girls. Settle down. Calm yourselves.

ALLIE: (to Richard)   You’re hurting me. Let me go. You’re hurting my wrists.

RICHARD: Promise you’ll stop…. Promise you’ll stop.

ALLIE: I won’t promise you anything….. You’re hurting me.

JERRY: Let her go, Richard.

EDMUND’S VOICE: (from offstage) You won’t get many more chances, Richard. The hour is chiming.

ALLIE: You’re hurting me.

JERRY: (letting go of Rhonda and approaching Allie and Richard) Let her go, I said.

RHONDA: Shut up, Jerry. Mind your own business.

RICHARD: (freeing her, throwing his arms up) There. She’s free. She’s yours. Isn’t it time we all just did what we really want to do? Isn’t that your philosophy, Father? Go for yourself? Do what you want? (grabs two fireplace implements; tosses one to Jerry) Of course, that means I have to kill you. Stand clear, ladies. This is between the men.

Brandishing his poker, Richard rushes Jerry; Allie and Rhonda try to stop him. Jerry blocks Richard’s swing with his shovel. A big clang. Jerry’s “weapon” falls to the floor.

RICHARD: Pick it up!… Defend yourself, Dad. (shaking himself loose from the girls, and circling Jerry) Fight like a man…. Oh, I see. You’re a coward. I don’t have to kill you after all, Father…. You’re already dead (looking back at Allie) Two dead people. Perfect for each other…. Rhonda? Let’s take that ride. I’m ready now. Are you ready?

RHONDA: Are you sure, Richard? This is what you want?

RICHARD: (tossing his poker aside) I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.

They exit arm in arm, leaving only Allie and Jerry on the stage. There is a silence. Jerry goes to a window to look out.

ALLIE: Wow!… What just happened? Am I dreaming?… Did Richard and Rhonda just go off somewhere … together?… Am I dreaming?

JERRY: There they go. Do you want to go after them?

ALLIE: No…. I don’t know. Do you?

JERRY: A little bit. Habit. I’m used to chasing her down. When she runs off.

ALLIE: You don’t have to worry. She won’t be happy long. Not with Richard.

JERRY: You never know….   Different chemistry…. They could last a good long while.

ALLIE: Should we stop them?

JERRY: Better hurry. They’re pulling out….

ALLIE: (rushes to the window) In my car…. The nerve. They’re taking my car.

JERRY: Too late this time, I guess…. Wish them bon voyage, Allie.

Templeton enters.

TEMP: Where’s dad going in such a big hurry?

ALLIE: Temp. Where have you been?

TEMP: Where’s Dad going with Rhonda?

JERRY: It’s a long story.

TEMP: They’re … going off together?… Mom?

ALLIE: Let them go.

TEMP: Are you all right?

ALLIE: It’s been over between your father and me for a long time, Temp. You knew that.

TEMP: I did. But … Man. This house. Works wonders. There’s some magic going on here. Change…. I’ve got some news, too, Mom. I’m not going back to Toronto.   I wanted to tell you good-bye. In a proper way…. Soledad and I are—-


ALLIE: Soledad and you! Soledad and you are what?

TEMP: We bought a van, Mom.

ALLIE: We? “We” bought a van?

TEMP: Soldedad and I. (points out the window) A red one. See. (Allie looks out the window.)   We’re driving to Mexico. Real de Catorce.

ALLIE: What are you talking about?

TEMP: We’re taking Great-grandfather with us. They’re in the van right now. Waiting for me. It wasn’t easy getting him out there.

JERRY: Um. Let alone all the way to Mexico.

TEMP: Soledad says we can do it…. Anyway, I just wanted to say good-bye. To both of you. Too late for Dad. And Rhonda. This time.

ALLIE: What is he saying, Jerry?

JERRY: He’s saying that he’s going off to Mexico with Soledad, sounds like to me. In a red van. And they’re talking Edmund with them.

ALLIE: This is crazy…. Talk to him.

TEMP: If you want to say good-bye to your father, Gramps, you have to say it now.

JERRY: It’s okay…. He wouldn’t know me anyway.

TEMP: And to Soledad.

JERRY: You say for me, kid. To both of them.   Here. (he embraces him) That’s for father…. Here’s for Soledad. And this is for you. (bows like a Buddhist) The god in me says good-bye to the god in you…. Did I do it right?

TEMP: You did it right, Gramps…. And if you see Father again—-

JERRY: I’ll tell him good-bye for you. He’ll be very happy … He’ll be proud of you that Edmund didn’t have to go into the old folks’ home.

Templeton approaches Allie, but Jerry gets between and motions him to go. Templeton leaves. Allie tries to run after him, but Jerry stops her head on.

ALLIE: Let me go, Jerry. I’ve got to stop him.

JERRY: No. Look.  He’s doing what he wants to do. The deep down thing.

ALLIE: You put Temp up to this. (goes to the window to watch them drive off) You put him together with Soledad.

JERRY: You said you wanted him to be around me for awhile? Well, he was. (joins her at window) Now he’s going on his adventure. Good for him. He’s what? 19 years old?

ALLIE: (sitting) Oh, Jerry….   I’ve lost my Templeton.   He’d just come home and—-

 JERRY: (as the music that started the play begins, lowly) His home isn’t with you anymore, Allie. He wants to carry a man’s burdens now. It’s in the nature of things,… and just in time. He’s helping us out. You know that pick-up truck we were going to haul Father’s stuff in. I had few grand, you know, in my magic pocket and I just bought it, on a whim, and a camper for the back. Your idea about setting out, camping in the mountains, on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, the ripe fruit thing. I was going to go alone, but now. Look.

ALLIE:   Jerry. Stop. I can’t breathe…. I’m having trouble breathing.

JERRY: We could have … three great years together. Honest years. You know. Before the world comes to an end…. And if it doesn’t, I’ll set you free anyway. I won’t let you end up with an old man. I wouldn’t have it. We’ll live everyday as if it were our last. Then—-

ALLIE: I’m scared. How long have I waited for this moment … where something was possible … between …us. Now—

JERRY: (kneeling next to her) This “now” almost never happens. What’s standing in our way. For God’s sake, Allie, it’s a miracle. Everybody is doing what they want to do?

Lights out. Music increases in volume.

NOTE: Do I want in there, earlier, in the Jerry/Allie scene, something about needing to blame someone.

NOTE: The way I handle the 2012 thing is to poke fun at them. TEMP talks of 2020 books coming out. The same prophecies. JERRY: Hey, hey didn’t we hear all this going into 2012?

TEMP: They didn’t get the calculation quite right. So they off a couple years. You’re going to be a little off when you think in spans of 52000 years.

-=-=- Think of yourself like this. (The ripe fruit thing.)

ALLIE: So what’s wrong with being ripe. Ripe is good, right? Something you can bite into and get some taste. Get some juice.

JERRY: Nothing’s wrong with ripe itself. It’s what’s after ripe one doesn’t want to look at.

TC -=-=- What do you see when you look at it, including in your own relationship? Rarely anything really good. Really large. Sort of “okay” at best. The everyday disappointments that you start to call “just life.” The bickerings within us that want to come out on somebody, for Christ sake. Certaining we don’t want to think our bickerings originate in ourselves. But if we were with the persons we really wanted to be with, we’d have to look within for why we have this bickering attitude towards everything.

ALLIE: I don’t understand you. Speak plainly.

TC -=-=- ALLIE: Sometimes I think you think that growing is everything.

JERRY: I do think that.

ALLIE: What about just being?

JERRY: They are the same thing. Growing and being.

ALLIE: What about an oak tree? It grows and grows to a certain large height, and then it just stays there, for centuries. Not growing anymore. Just being.

JERRY: I’m not an oak tree. I’m a human being. And if you weren’t my daughter-in-law, I would suspect you of seducing me right now.

ALLIE: Well, why not?

JERRY: … Yeah. Why not?

ALLIE: Just fear. That’s all. Fear of breaking out of our prisons.

NOTE TO MYSELF: Limit my changes largely to that scene. And somewhere within it can be said (either could say it) look how quickly we jump into seductive talk. And the other will answer: because we get so little time together, and even then, it’s like somebody’s hiding behind a corner, listening. I keep wanting to look.

TC -=-=- When you are with the person who is not your first choice, you got somebody in front of non-stop you can point to and say to yourself: you’re the reason I’m not deeply happy. And since she is not really the reason you’re not happy, now you are out of sync with reality. Now you are frozen in a lie. A projection. You can’t grow. Anyway.   How else am I going to get rid of the bitch?… You know. Give her the final disappointment. Engagement. Marriage.

TC -=-=- Cynical!…. I mean, yes, of course, I agree, most of us are wrong, in the long run, for the one we’re with?   Does that mean we should stop trying?… stop looking for the person we’re really right for? Wouldn’t that be the terrible thing? To stop looking?

NOTE: The trouble with the ALLIE/JERRY SCENE that I’m trying to correct is this. I need to decide if Jerry is serious about marrying Rhonda in order to leave her, or if he’s marrying her because he’s run out of creative energy.   (This has to be contemplated in reference to whether or not I want to reverse the ending scene, having it Allie who encourages Jerry to go.)

TC -=-=- Man. This house. Works wonders. There’s magic here. Change…. I’ve got some news, too, Mom. I’m not going back to Toronto.   I wanted to tell you good-bye. In a proper way…. Soledad and I are—-

ALLIE: Soledad and you! Soledad and you are what?

TEMP: We bought a van, Mom.

ALLIE: We? “We” bought a van?

TEMP: Soldedad and I. (points out the window) A red one. See. (Allie looks out the window.)   We’re driving to Mexico. Real de Catorce.

ALLIE: What are you talking about?

TEMP: We’re taking Great-grandfather with us. They’re in the van right now. Waiting for me. It wasn’t easy getting him out there.

JERRY: Um. Let alone all the way to Mexico.

TEMP: Soledad says we can do it…. Anyway, I just wanted to say good-bye. To both of you. Too late for Dad. And Rhonda. This time.

ALLIE: What is he saying, Jerry?

JERRY: He’s saying that he’s going off to Mexico with Soledad, sounds like to me. In a red van. And they’re talking Edmund with them.

ALLIE: This is crazy…. Talk to him.

TEMP: If you want to say good-bye to your father, Gramps, you have to say it now.

JERRY: It’s okay…. He wouldn’t know me anyway.

TEMP: And to Soledad.

JERRY: You say for me, kid. To both of them.   Here. (he embraces him) That’s for father…. Here’s for Soledad. And this is for you. (bows like a Buddhist) The god in me says good-bye to the god in you…. Did I do it right?

TEMP: You did it right, Grandfather…. And if you see Father again—-

JERRY: I’ll tell him good-bye for you. He’ll be very happy … He’ll be proud of you that Edmund didn’t have to go into the old folks’ home.

Templeton approaches Allie, but Jerry gets between and motions him to go. Templeton leaves. Allie tries to run after him, but Jerry stops her head on.

ALLIE: Let me go, Jerry. I’ve got to stop him, before he ruins his life.

JERRY: No. Look, it’s a once in a life time chance, don’t you see? Everybody’s doing what they want to do…. The deep down thing. How often does it happen in a life?

ALLIE: You put Temp up to this. (goes to the window to watch them drive off) You put him together with Soledad.

JERRY: You said you wanted him to be around me for awhile? Well, he was. (joins her at window) Now he’s going on his adventure. Good for him. He’s what? 19 years old?

ALLIE: (sitting) Oh, Jerry….   I’ve lost my Templeton.   He’d just come home and—-

 JERRY: (as music that started the play begins, lowly) His home isn’t with you anymore, Allie. He wants to carry a man’s burdens now. It’s in the nature of things,… and just in time. He’s helping us out. You know that pick-up truck we were going to haul Father’s stuff in. I had few grand, you know, in my magic pocket and I just bought it, on a whim, and a camper for the back. Your idea about setting out, camping in the mountains, on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, the ripe fruit thing. I was going to go alone, but now. Look.

ALLIE:   Jerry. I can’t breathe…. I’m having trouble breathing.

JERRY: We could have … three great years together. Honest years. Being who we want to be. Who knows where that might end up. No one to blame for anything.

ALLIE: I’m scared. How long have I waited for this moment … where something was possible … between …us. But now—

JERRY: (kneeling next to her) This “now” almost never happens. Shake yourself, Allie.   There’s nothing standing in our way. Nobody’s stopping us. Would we leave ourselves behind? For God’s sake, Allie, everybody is doing what they want to do?

Lights out. Music increases in volume.


©James L. Ralston

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