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TWO ONE-ACTS IN WHICH THE WEAK, THE LAME AND THE VULNERABLE GET DUMPED ON
Warning: contains sexual situations, graphic cruelty to animals and jibes at the expense of artsy types and all those pretentious drones who like ballet.
THE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR SON
Cast of Characters Dad – American, 55, a billionaire oil man Son – American, 17 (tomorrow he will be 18) Waiter – Russian, 30 Synopsis When in Rome, you do as the Romans, but what do you do if the “Rome” you're in happens to be Uzbekistan?
3 (At rise. Interior of a dingy restaurant, not a soul in sight. On wall, weathered maps and pictures of Rome and Italy. There’s a bar and three tables, one at the window, one in the center of the room, one far away from the window. Big clock on wall says 2:46. DAD enters with holstered pistol and laptop bag) DAD: (Calls out the door) You coming in or staying out? SON’S VOICE: Coming in, I guess. (DAD sets laptop bag on bar) Need a good meal. Hello! DAD: Anybody in here?!
(SON enters, glass of wine in hand) DAD: Good meal steadies the nerves. SON: Sure. DAD: Focuses the mind, too. (SON sniffs the air, makes a face) DAD: Hello! Hello! Anybody? (They listen. Not a sound) SON: No one’s back there. Relax. Go with the flow. somewhere in an hour. DAD: It’s not like we got to be
SON: This is crazy. Italian food in Uzbekistan? The fact that this place is empty tells you it can’t be good. DAD: Where’s your sense of adventure? SON: Outside with the crew. Say, I got an idea. How about you wait here and you order for us while I go back out to the Rover, hook up to the dish and check my emails. (SON reaches for the laptop bag. hand on bag) DAD puts
4 SON: Give me the laptop.
Come on, man.
DAD: I just decided on a new rule. No more Internet. SON: What? DAD: No more Internet until we’re out of here. That’s two days. Don’t tell me you can’t do without for forty-eight hours. SON: Are you including yourself in this? Goes without saying. DAD: You know me. I walk the walk.
(SON shakes his head, takes a sip from his glass of wine) DAD: And don’t go pissy drunk on me again. Just getting a buzz. here. SON: Might as well. Nothing else going on
DAD: Look. If you going to get one, how about doing it with some genuine firewater for a change? Instead of that merlot and cabernet that your - SON: That my mother drinks? DAD: Yeah, there’s that. SON: Just so happens, I like red wine. Juice of the grape. Fruit of the vine. Nothing wrong with that. Matter of perspective. DAD: Coming from a mama’s boy - SON: You leave her out of this! DAD: Touched a nerve there, did I? Suddenly you’re angry. I like it when you’re angry. It’s the only time I see you come alive. And regarding your mother, you seem to have picked up any number of bad habits from her. I mean it. SON: Leave her out of this.
5 (Sudden sound of creaking floorboards. Someone’s walking somewhere. They both fall silent. Then...) Make you a deal. DAD: I’ll leave her out if you leave her out. SON: I’m just warning you.
I’m not making deals.
(DAD flashes SON an “I’m so scared” face, then blows him a contemptuous air kiss. They both turn to look at the service door as WAITER, unkempt & unshaven, enters, donning a dirty apron. On seeing them, he pushes button on tapedeck. A Patsy Cline song plays at low volume. WAITER smiles, bows) WAITER: (Speaks English with a Russian accent) Welcome to Palmiro’s. Welcome. Welcome. DAD: Saw your sign and we said, “Italian food in Uzbekistan? must give it a try.” SON: He said. I didn’t. WAITER: Palmiro’s is best Italian in all Uzbekistan. DAD: Got no doubt it is. WAITER: You are Americans. I can tell. Uzbek people love Americans. Especially we love Dixie Chicks. You are here to see our beautiful country? Part of it. DAD: We’re on our way to the Ferghana Valley. We
WAITER: Ferghana? That is dangerous place. Many bad people there. Uzbek tribes run wild. You need protection. I get you reliable security person. My uncle Dmitri. He is very reasonable. DAD: Look out the window. (The song ends. WAITER, not quite comprehending, doesn’t move) DAD: Well, go on. Look on out there. (WAITER goes to window, looks through glass)
6 DAD: See them? Uzbek tribesmen. Hired and paid for. Just to let you know I don’t go to restaurants in search of security. Forgive me, Sir. Oh yes. Victor! Thanks. DAD: No. (To WAITER) Table away from the window’d be more - No, Dad. My boy. Ah! Window table! SON: We can watch the camels pass by. WAITER: Let me show you to window table. SON:
DAD: Never listens, never pays attention. Now I see resemblance.
WAITER: You are father and son. Yes. DAD: (Bemused)
Do you. WAITER: You are traveling together? DAD: On vacation, seeing interesting, off-the-beaten-path places. Been to the Galapagos Islands. WAITER: (Pretends he knows where that is) Ah! DAD: To Pitcairn Island. You know, Mutiny on the Bounty, Fletcher Christian and all that. WAITER: (Does a bad hula dance) Islands! Dancing girls!
DAD: To New Guinea, to Sikkim, and now here. Now let’s get that table. (DAD gives SON a meaningful look) Away from the window. WAITER: Yes, Sir. As you wish. (WAITER seats them)
7 WAITER: Special today, pasta primavera. Palmiro’s has by far the best Italian cuisine. You can go to Tashkent, you can go to Dushambe, go all the way to Kabul or Katmandu, you will find no better Italian than - DAD: Excuse me. WAITER: Yes, Sir? DAD: What did you say your name was? WAITER: My name? DAD: Yeah. Your name. WAITER: (Fumbles for something in his pocket) My name.
SON: (Through gritted teeth) Dad, can’t you see you’re embarrassing him? WAITER: (Produces small card. Reads it aloud) My name is Marco. (WAITER triumphantly pins card to jacket pocket like a name tag) Thank you, Marco. I bring vodka? DAD: Vodka goes with Italian? It is excellent vodka. No chianti? WAITER: Very good brand. From Korea. DAD: We’ll study the menu. WAITER: We’ll call you.
DAD: No merlot? No cabernet? (Another meaningful look at SON) No red table wine? Red wine? No. Sorry. WAITER: All out. Vodka only. DAD: Bring it on, Marco.
I guess vodka it is.
8 (WAITER looks perplexed, does not move) DAD: (A little louder) Bring it on, Marco. WAITER: Of course, my name. Marco. (Points to his “name tag”) What you need, you ask for Marco. Marco is on the mark. Oh! Marco! (WAITER exits through service door. Silence. SON gives DAD the silent treatment. Finally………) DAD: What? SON: You always make me look like a fool in front of people. DAD: Do I? SON: The window table. DAD: What about the window table? SON: I want to know what was wrong with sitting at the window. DAD: Got a hair up your ass about that? SON: Every time I make a decision, you countermand it. nothing I do is right. DAD: Wrong. SON: You do. DAD: I do not. SON: You fucking enjoy it. DAD: Don’t say fuck to me. I step in when you’re wrong. You don’t see that? SON: No. It’s like
9 DAD: Let me ask you. Why would a window table be a bad idea? Give up? Makes you a target. Target? For what? SON: For whom?
DAD: Man a lot wiser than me once said, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They’re different.” He was talking about you. And me. SON: I don’t feel different. DAD: But you are. And that means you’re being watched twentyfour hours a day. SON: Watched? People. SON: What kind of people? DAD: All kinds of people. Smart people. Stupid people. people. People people. All keeping an eye on you. SON: Guess there's no law against watching. DAD: Except some have more than watching on their minds. They’re the ones you have to guard against. They’re the reason you don’t sit by windows. (WAITER enters with vodka bottle and two glasses. FATHER signals SON to be silent) DAD: So this is the famous Korean vodka. WAITER: Sorry. No Korean. All out. This is Mongolian. My best customers say this much better vodka. And I’m so sure of you, I made bet with myself that you’ll like it. DAD: I’ll go along with the bet. (Indicates posters on wall) I always say, when in Rome, do as the Romans. I believe we’ll have the pasta primavera. Crazy By whom? DAD:
10 WAITER: (Pours a glass for each, filling them to the brim, Russian-style) Very good choice, Sir. You will love it. And you be sure to tell all your American friends about Palmiro’s. (WAITER exits, leaving the bottle on the table. DAD takes sip, licks his lips, nods, signals SON to drink. SON sniffs at the glass, makes a face, sets glass down) DAD: Sooner or later, you’re going to have to learn to drink the hard stuff. And you’re going to have to learn to hold your liquor like - SON: Like my mother? She told me how you knew she couldn’t handle liquor and - (DAD holds up hand for silence) DAD: And I was about to say! You might as well start now. building up a tolerance for - Start
SON: She said you poured it down her throat until she was helpless and didn’t know what she was doing. Then you - (DAD slams fist down on the table. Suddenly, dead silence. A long moment. Then…) DAD: Do you believe everything that woman says? She’s been there for me. to me. SON: You haven’t. And she’s been good
DAD: Oh, yes, good. Good for goodness. Goodness, kindness and charity. Her three favorite words. Bible words. Jesus words. Too bad they’re not commodities with value in the marketplace. You can’t buy oil with goodness. Did you know that? (Silence. Come on, boy. DAD drums fingers)
DAD: Down the hatch. Try the vodka. (Silence, resistance. Drumming gets louder. Then abruptly it stops)
Go on, Victor.
I’m saying please.
11 (SON takes the glass with a shaky hand, raises it slowly to his lips. Blackout. Sound of clock chiming, signaling time marching on. Lights up. SON sits alone, but now he’s sitting at the table by the window. His vodka glass is down a bit from the brim. Big clock on the wall says 4:16) SON: (Sings, a little drunk) AN’ I’M NO ONE SPECIAL I’M JUST LIKE YOU YEAH, I’M NO ONE SPECIAL JUST A PLAIN BUCKAROO DOO-DOO-DOO (“DOO-DOO-DOO.” SON hums tune, slaps hand on table to mark the beat. He takes a sip of vodka, laughs to himself) SON: Yee-haw! Buckaroo. (SON gets up, goes over to the bar, picks up the laptop bag, turns it upside down. EMPTY) SON: Fuck! (SON goes to window, looks out just as WAITER enters through service door with two heaping plates of pasta primavera) WAITER: Ah! (WAITER screeches to a halt, looks around) But your father’s not here. SON: He’s somewhere outside ordering the bodyguards around. got this fantasy he’s a Texas trail boss in a movie. He’s
(SON sits back down as WAITER starts to set plates down away from window) SON: What do you think you’re doing? WAITER: Serving pasta, Sir. SON: But I’m sitting over here. WAITER: Forgive me, Sir, but your father was very strict about table far away from win - -
12 (SON slams his fist down. WAITER jumps) Is my father here? room? Please, Sir. SON: Do you see that man anywhere in this
WAITER: I’m just a little person.
I don’t want - -
SON: Don’t worry, little person, you won’t get in trouble. (SON takes a sip of vodka, smacks lips) Mongolian’s pretty good. (WAITER sets plates down at window table) Very strong, Sir. WAITER: You must be careful.
SON: (SON smacks his lips) Oh I’m careful. Careful’s my middle name. Tyler. Yee-haw. That’s me. WAITER: Pasta primavera will soon be cold.
SON: Guess I better dig right in then. (SON starts eating) This is good. Why don’t you sit down and join me, Marco. No no. WAITER: Marco must stand, Sir. SON: Doesn’t seem fair, though.
WAITER: It is rule. It would be big shame for waiter to sit with customer. SON: You know what my Dad’s going to do, don’t you? He’s going to raise holy hell about his pasta being cold and make you take it back and do it again. It’s just his way. That is his right, Sir. WAITER: Customer is always - -
SON: Key is don’t take it personally. He treats everyone the same, me, my mother, the paper boy, the neighbor’s cat, you name it. To him, everyone’s an object, a bit player in the movie of his life. And there’s no upside for loyalty. So if I were you, I’d go for the gusto, grab anything not nailed down while the grabbing’s good. I’d play it to the hilt. (Raises glass to punctuate his point) If I were you.
13 (SON takes another sip as WAITER edges up to the chair, as if getting his courage up) Go on. You. Have a seat. SON: Take a load off.
WAITER: You promise you take my side if your father - -
SON: Sure thing, Marco. I got your back. Ten thousand per cent. (WAITER gingerly sits, as if intruding on forbidden territory, settles in by degrees) WAITER: Good, feels good, feels very good. SON: There you go. Spend your life taking orders, cleaning up after people, emptying ashtrays. Feels good for once to sit at the head of the table. Here, let me fill your glass. (SON reaches for bottle. WAITER, sudden panic on his face, reaches for it as well) Oh no, no, no, Sir. WAITER: Let Marco pour.
(SON slaps WAITER’s hand away) SON: What you got to learn is, when someone offers to pour, let them. Hold the glass out and say, “Fill it, motherfucker.” (WAITER looks shocked) SON: Go on, say it. Fill it. Ah. WAITER: I can’t say that, Sir. It’s - -
(SON holds bottle, ready to pour) SON: Fill it, motherfucker! Fill it. Mother. Ah. WAITER: Fucker.
SON: Say it like you’re saying it to someone you hate. My uncle Dmitri! WAITER: Fill it, you motherfucker!
(SON pours WAITER a tall one)
14 SON: Felt good, didn’t it? WAITER: To say truth, it would feel best with Uncle Dmitri in room. I know it is sin to say fucker, but he is such bad man, priest would forgive me. Fill it up, motherfucker! (WAITER laughs, takes a big gulp, belches. SON’s demeanor suddenly changes) SON: So what’s your real name? WAITER: (Points to “name tag”) You see here? Marco is on the mark.
It is Marco.
SON: No Marco ever had an Uncle Dmitri. (Long silence. WAITER slowly unpins “name tag,” tosses it, takes gulp of vodka) WAITER: You are right. Name is Yuri. I am Russian. I am not Communist, but my father was big Communist shot. He admired famous Communist from Italy, Palmiro Togliatti. He opened restaurant, called it Palmiro’s. When I was small, Palmiro’s was very busy, very profitable. Now, with Uzbeks and jihad, sometimes I am. How do you say? Down in dumps. SON: I hear you. Sometimes I’m down in the dumps, too, Yuri. What with my father and all his BS, but you know what I say? Forget about it. Just fuck it! Yes. Yes! WAITER: You see everything. You are right! SON: Fuck my father! WAITER: Fuck jihad, fuck Uzbeks! (His demeanor quickly changes to sadness) I must tell you, my father is dead. SON: I’m sorry. WAITER: After Gorbachev and, ah, (He struggles to find the words) And the, ah, glastnost and the, ah, troubles, the mujahideen came and killed him and three other Russians. SON: I’m sorry. Fuck it!
15 WAITER: I miss him. He was small man, but very funny. Very tough. First he was merchant, buying from Uzbeks, selling to Russians in Tashkent. Very few Russians out here. Most live in big houses in city. When Communists come, they said to him stop being merchant and we make you Commissar. He said okay. Then he opened Palmiro’s. Uzbek mafia sent man to command him to use Uzbek pinballs. Huge man, seven feet tall. Smelled of garlic and camel rectum. Said he would kill family and rape my mother if father refused. He smiled, picked up club and smashed it on Uzbek’s knee. The man bent over. My father broke his nose and jaw, beat him bloody. Then he poured hot fat from fryer on him, dragged him to street. He picked up phone, called Commissars in Tashkent to send garbage truck to move shit off the road. Oh man! SON: Sounds like he was a great guy.
WAITER: (Tears well up in his eye) He was atheist. But his heart was good. He loved people. I miss him. This is my secret. I never say it to anyone but you. SON: Now let me tell you a secret about me. Okay. WAITER: How do you Amercans say it? Shoot!
SON: If my father was walking to that door and had a heart attack and died, I would not feel a thing. WAITER: That is terrible. It is big sin. He is your father. Is one thing to say you don’t like him, but to feel nothing - It’s true. SON: If someone shot him dead, I wouldn’t care.
WAITER: I will say prayer for you. (Makes Russian sign of cross) It is exact opposite for me. I have names of ones who killed my father. One day when the Russian army returns, they will pay. God will punish them. SON: You can’t go through life trying to bring back the dead. Drive you crazy. Like I say, fuck it. No no no. Oh! WAITER: It is a thing I cannot forget. Some things - (Glances out window, sudden panicked look) Your father is coming. (WAITER stands. In a sudden whirl of activity, he begins clearing table)
16 SON: Hey! I thought we were backing each other up. say - I am sorry, Sir. WAITER: It is a thing I cannot do.
SON: But we’re compadres. Paisanos. What happened to fuck it? It is impossible. WAITER: I am sorry. Very sorry, Sir.
(WAITER leaves the bottle and glass on table. Sound of footsteps on walkway outside. SON gives Waiter a contemptuous glare, props feet on table and, glass in hand, leans back, nonchalant-wise. WAITER exits through back as DAD enters through front. DAD has laptop in his hand. He goes to bar, slides laptop into bag as SON sings) SON: AN’ I’M NO ONE SPECIAL I’M JUST LIKE YOU YEAH, I’M NO ONE SPECIAL JUST A PLAIN BUCKAROO DOO-DOO-DOO (SON hums to himself, keeping the beat by lightly tapping his thigh. DAD glares at SON, silently mouths “Oh Jesus Christ!” He paces, clenching and unclenching his fists. SON pretends to be oblivious to this but watches out of the corner of his eye) SON: Took your time out there, didn’t you? Put the fear of God into all the bodyguard dudes, did you? And I guess you checked all your emails, too, Mister Walk The Walk. DAD: We’ve never had a heart-to-heart, have we? That’s a big yup uh-huh yup. SON: Pretty damn accurate.
(DAD takes bottle from table, sets it on floor) DAD: Not drunk, are you? SON: Man, nothing gets by you. (SON emits a big noisy belch) Just as well if you are. DAD: Some things are best heard drunk.
17 (DAD takes a package from his inside coat pocket, hands it to SON) Happy birthday. What is it? (DAD takes a chair, slides it up to the window table, props his feet up and leans back, just like SON. He watches as SON opens package and takes out a pistol. He holds it up, aims it at objects on wall, clicks the trigger) DAD: I’ll say it straight out. There were a number of the years gone by when I thought you weren’t my son. (This gets SON’s attention. He stops pointing and clicking) SON: What? DAD: I thought there’d been a switch. SON: Switch? How? DAD: You were small. There was a man with means and opportunity. And it made sense to me he would. But science came along and I was able to run some DNA tests to confirm - SON: Oh Jesus Christ! DAD: Confirm you are what we’ve all been saying you are. SON: Hip-hip-hooray for science. DAD: You were a year old. I had made the Fortune 500 for the first time. Suddenly I was somebody, somebody people were starting to keep an eye on. Week after your birthday party, a man appeared at my door. Introduced himself as Anthony Gervolino. Very polite, very deferential. He said, “I have your son. I am here to collect one hundred million dollars cash for his safe return. The amount is not negotiable. I believe I’ll wait here at your home until the money is collected.” Talk about balls! (An admiring smile) ‘Course I paid. And you were promptly returned. And I must say it was a pleasure dealing with Mr. Gervolino. He was DAD: Happy eighteenth. SON:
18 DAD (Cont): witty, knowledgeble, well-read, treated the servants with respect. I liked him. Very cool under pressure. (Shakes his head) Under any other circumstances, I would have hired him. SON: Why did you think he’d do a switch? DAD: He was daring, imaginative, fearless. Men like that seem to always have one more trick up their sleeve, one more ace in the hole. Tell you true, he was a lot like. Well. Me. SON: So you’re thinking you would have done that to him? DAD: Had our roles had been reversed? SON: I could have been killed. DAD: Nothing’s guaranteed. Nothing’s dead solid perfect. so, I’m glad you weren’t. SON: Were you really. DAD: Can’t do serious business out here without a son. Those men out there? Their tribe controls the land on which a lot of oil and gas sits. They only do business with men. And you’re not a real man unless you have a son. SON: Well gosh. So this is what it feels like having a “heartto-heart” with dear old dad. So what comes next? DAD: Next depends on you. (SON waits for the other shoe to drop) DAD: You know how it is with primitive tribes, like what we saw in New Guinea? There’s a magic day when a boy’s initiated into manhood. Boy performs a specified feat. Then there’s a ritual blessing, or maybe the elders mark the boy with a tattoo or a knife cut. Whatever, purpose is to signify passage. He’s a man now. Can’t go back to being a boy. The off ramp to Never Never Land is blocked. SON: Wherever we’re going with this, if I have a choice, no knife cuts. Even I might have.
19 DAD: Deal. No cuts. SON: With you, always a catch. DAD: I want you calm and relaxed.
But there’s a catch.
Stop being so wound up.
(DAD reaches back, picks up bottle from floor, tops off SON’s glass) DAD: Ferghana Valley’s our last stop before home. It’s all tribal, all about who you know, whose palm you grease. You’re going to meet some people. They’ll be watching you, keeping an eye on you, judging you, taking mental notes. Because you’re special. Very special. You’re the rich man’s son, heir to the throne. Someday, when I’m gone, you’ll be the one they’ll be dealing with. You need to act the part. SON: How should I act? DAD: Like a man, of course. (DAD stands, stretches. He makes ready as if to leave, starts walking toward the door. At the last minute, he stops and turns) DAD: Almost forgot, we’ll be seeing Mister Gervolino out there. The kidnapper? Doing? SON: What’s he doing there? He’s not there by choice.
DAD: He’s not doing anything.
(A long moment as SON absorbs this. An “oh shit!” look crosses his face. He springs up) Oh mother fuck! thing is about! No. SON: Oh fucking shit! So that’s what this whole You. You’re going to kill him!
DAD: You’re going to kill him. (DAD exits. SON hurls vodka glass at door. It smashes. He aims pistol at door, pulls trigger. It goes click click click click. Blackout. Sound of a clock chiming, signaling time marching on. Lights up. At the window table: a broken chair, a smashed bottle, the laptop with its monitor cracked. DAD sits at center table, playing solitaire, his vodka glass half full. Big clock on the
20 wall says 5:56. WAITER enters from service door with wiping cloth, broom and trash can. He silently pads by DAD, begins cleaning the mess. Sound of gunshot from outside. WAITER glances out window. DAD doesn’t react) DAD: Do you have any sons? WAITER: God has not yet blessed me with wife and child, sir. Good for God. Yes sir. (More silence. WAITER picks up broken laptop, inspects it, shakes head, tosses it in trash can, continues cleaning. Sound of another gunshot) WAITER: Shall I bring pasta, sir? DAD: Hold off a while. (More silence. Then…) Let me ask you. You’re kind of an expert on human nature. Oh no no no, sir. WAITER: I am not expert. My advice? DAD: Adopt. WAITER:
(DAD sets cards down, gives WAITER his full attention) DAD: Well, I think you are. Waiters and bartenders seem to have their finger on the pulse of things. That’s my view, at least. My son. It’s his 18th birthday tomorrow. What do you think of him? (Another gunshot. WAITER glances out window) WAITER: Your son? DAD: Yes. I see he rebels. WAITER: I see he has conflict. And anger.
(Sound of a five shot burst: BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM) Anger. Conflict. DAD: You see that?
21 WAITER: I see you are trying to make him respect you. DAD: Yes. Exactly! WAITER: And I see you want him to obey you. DAD: Well, that goes without saying. (WAITER sits down across from DAD without being invited) WAITER: You are being father. It is natural. You want respect and obedience. But you are trying to. How do you say? Push it down his throat. DAD: Well, I don’t know about that. (Sound of another gunshot) WAITER: Let me tell you, in old Russia before Communists came and destroyed family, father was king. Father had power of life and death. He was like Abraham or David or Solomon. And like David, father gave oldest son maximum freedom. It is how son learns. It is how father learns about son. DAD: David’s son tried to kill him. Nothing is a guarantee. I was right. Oh no no no. No, really. WAITER: Nothing is one hundred per cent.
DAD: You are very wise. WAITER: It is only what I am. DAD: You’re very, very wise. WAITER:
And you are very kind. (The door to the outside opens, SON enters. He’s dressed in traditional Uzbek robe and turban. He does a twirl like a model. He poses, arms outstretched) SON: Do you like it?
22 DAD: It’s going to take some getting used to. SON: It’s called a caftan. DAD: I know what it’s called. I’ve only been doing business here for twenty years. SON: I’ve been having an awesome time. They made me a blood brother. I’m one of them now. DAD: You’re not one of them, Victor. SON: They opened up, showed me their world. It’s like a movie. With warriors, courage, journeys and quests. They don’t have kings or rulers because each man is a king. Each man is free to define himself. And there’s a code they live by which transcends money or power or sex. It’s all about harmony with the environment, with each other, with the rhythms of life and the Earth and. And stuff like that. DAD: There’s no harmony. There’s no rhythm. No stuff like that. (WAITER shakes his head in unbelief) WAITER: Excuse me. There is very much garbage in this room. take it outside. I will leave you for now. I must
I don’t know.
(WAITER exits through service door dragging the trash can behind him and mumbling to himself. DAD waits until WAITER is gone) DAD: All that’s happening is, those guys outside are taking us to their tribal leaders who are in the business of selling gas and oil leases to the highest bidder. Wake up and smell the coffee, Victor. I am no longer Victor. name. Malik. Victor, listen to me. SON: My blood brothers gave me a new DAD: You are - -
(SON draws Bukharan Sabre from under his robe, points it menacingly at DAD's throat) My name is Malik! SON: You will call me Malik!
23 (A long moment. Then SON, with a flourish, returns sword to its scabbard and exits thru door to outside. Blackout. Sound of a clock chiming, signaling time marching on. Lights up. SON sits alone at the table furthest from window, still in his Uzbek tribal garb. He has the pistol broken down into parts. He’s in the process of cleaning and oiling it. WAITER gazes forelornly out window. Big clock on the wall says 7:05) WAITER: Ah! It is too bad! No customers today. Except for you and your father. Tourist season is terrible. Worse than terrible. Uzbek jihad scares all good people away. (Eyes SON in his Uzbek garb) Excuse me. I forgot that you are now great Uzbek warrior. Please forgive me for insult. (SON ignores him) WAITER: It was not like this when the Russians were here. None of this jihad foolishness. But now Russia is punished because Communist leaders were atheists. But we are repenting. And soon we will be strong again. (WAITER walks over to where SON sits) You are clever with guns. your father teach you? WAITER: Take apart, put together. Did
SON: I’ve learned nothing from that man. Then even better. WAITER: You taught yourself, yes?
(SON begins reassembling the pistol) Wrong again. Your mother? SON: When she was at college, studying ballet, she was walking home one day and - WAITER: Your mother was ballet dancer? We Russians love ballet. SON: One day she was walking home and a man pointed a gun at her and robbed her. She swore never again. She bought a gun. SON: It was my mother. WAITER:
24 WAITER: But it does not sound like what ballerina does. are not violent people.
SON: Nevertheless. She has the tiniest hands with long, beautiful fingers. She would have made a wonderful surgeon. She does very fine needlework, wonderful miniature pencil drawings. The pistol she bought was a small one, twentyfive caliber. She was curious how it worked. She got out her sewing machine tools and took it apart. Then she forgot what went where, so I put it back together for her. That’s how I learned. But this is wonderful! No. WAITER: You should tell your father! Me along with her.
SON: He’d hate her all the more.
WAITER: But that does not make sense. It is not logical. SON: Nothing about that man is logical. (SON holds up pistol, now reassembled. He points it at the window, pulls the trigger. A big loud CLICK! just as DAD enters through outside door. SON & WAITER look away. DAD gives them an “I smell a conspiracy” glare. He goes to window table, turns chair around, sits, straddling it, cowboy style) DAD: I’ll bet Victor thinks all that shooting is about, is pulling a trigger and bang-bang-bang. But there’s more. There’s skill, training, knowledge. Care and feeding of the instrument. And safety. Careful where you point it, eh? (Makes a pistol with his finger, points it at SON’s head) Right, Victor? SON: Right. DAD: Victor doesn’t want to talk right now. You’re the talker. SON: You’re the man with the plan.
DAD: (To WAITER) Gun’s a birthday present. His mother wouldn’t approve. SON: Leave her out of this!
25 DAD: Victor’s childhood was. Strange, to say the least. His mother had unorthodox ideas on raising a boy. Did you know she was a prima ballerina? WAITER: Yes yes. He told me. DAD: Was. She’s past forty now. Still has her perfect ballerina body. But you know how age plays havoc with one’s athleticism. These days, she teaches. SON: Don’t forget to tell him about - (DAD holds up hand for silence) I was about to say! month from me. Oh. I see. DAD: She receives a sizeable check each
WAITER: You and his mother are. (Makes a kaput gesture with his hands) That is sad. I am sorry. DAD: I’m not. We ended up agreeing to disagree about. things. About just about. Everything. About
SON: Oh Jesus, listen to him! He makes it sound like it was civilized! He makes it sould like it was - DAD: She got it into Victor’s head that he was. Sensitive! Delicate! Had the soul of an artist. Or some such rot. SON: She taught me to be my own person, to be me and not you! DAD: And I admit I wasn’t thinking. My own stupidity. I saw that perfect body and I thought to myself, it must come with a matching perfect mind. How could it be otherwise? SON: (To WAITER) Ask yourself, why is he telling you this? What is his point? Why is he making this your business? DAD: From the very start, she made it her business to set the boy against me. She put unsound notions in his head. Notions about “opening up,” about “expressing” one’s self. Yes, she did! SON: She taught me truth! She taught me beauty!
26 DAD: About being “free.” SON: There’s no truth or beauty without being free! DAD: Whatever “free” means. (SON stands up, goes to wall, presses head against wall) DAD: What else is there to say? It’s my punishment. My cross. I advise you to adopt. SON: WHY DO YOU HATE ME? (DAD stands, goes to SON, pats his shoulder) DAD: I don’t. There are too many other things to hate. left for the likes of you. No room My burdon. Her words.
(DAD exits through door to outside. Blackout. Sound of a clock chiming, signaling time marching on. Lights up. SON, in his Uzbek tribal garb, sits alone at the window table, eating from a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. DAD sits at the table furthest from window, also eating spaghetti. WAITER sits at middle table silently reading from a large, heavy book. Big clock on the wall says 7:55) That’s an impressive book. It was my mother’s. DAD: It does look old. (SON looks up, watches & listens as DAD and WAITER converse) WAITER: Is from time of Czars. My mother got it from her mother. And her mother from her mother. It is Bible. In time of Lenin, if Chekas caught you with Bible, you would be shot. DAD: (A side glance at SON) And now it’s the jihadis. WAITER: I do not know which is worse, the Chekas or the mujahideen. At least with Chekas, you were speaking to Russians. DAD: Must weigh a ton. WAITER:
27 DAD: But you were just as dead. It is. How do you say? WAITER: Big paradox.
DAD: So, how do you Russians read your Bible? Do you start at the beginning and work your way through it to the end? WAITER: A true Russian closes eyes. (He demonstrates) And opens book to random page, puts finger on page and THEN. Then he opens eyes. God shows him the words. Oh no no no. DAD: Where did you open it to? WAITER: I must translate Russian to English. (Reads haltingly) And he came to. To place which God showed to him. Where Abraham built altar with stone. Then he bound Isaac his son with rope. Then he took sword to sacrifice son. Let me see. DAD: Yes, I know this story. Hey Victor, this one’s about us! But he doesn’t kill the son, does he? No no. WAITER: God says for him to stop. At last minute.
DAD: Yes, that’s right. I remember. And I always wondered, what if he hadn’t stopped? What if he had killed him anyway? What was the boy’s name again? SON: Isaac! His name was Isaac! What DAD: Isaac. Thank you, Victor. Your mother taught you well. if Abraham had taken his sword and killed Isaac, just snuffed the little bugger out? He could’ve done it, could’ve told God to jam it. He had free will. That’s just crazy. Is it? SON: The story is about God’s covenant. The covenant goes from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and on through David to Jesus. Without Isaac, there’d be no covenant. It would be cut off. It would stop. SON: It’s a crackpot idea. DAD:
28 DAD: Wrong! SON: Wrong? Wrong, how? DAD: It wouldn’t stop. It’d just go through somebody else. It’d be like football. Player gets injured, it’s next man up. SON: Oh Jesus! You are so - DAD: Are you saying God’s plan is so fragile, so tenuous, it would come screeching to a halt if one man fell off the bus? (DAD draws pistol, points it at SON) If you get killed, do you think all my money would dry up and blow away? No. All that would happen is, someone else would get it instead of you. SON: Who? DAD: I don’t know. Someone. If you’re dead, why would you care? (Grins, points gun up, blows on muzzle ) Would that bother you? Someone else cashing your checks? SON: No. DAD: Oh please. You’ve been sitting there knowing that someday, you’re going to be the man. You don’t even have to be nice about it. It’s going to happen. It’s automatic. I’m not like you. SON: I don’t think about it.
DAD: All that money. All those lawyers and accountants and bankers cowtowing to you. And all that prime pussy. All you have to do is snap your fingers. SON: I said, I’m not like you. (SON turns his back to DAD) DAD: The pussy’s real, you know. And it comes at you from every angle. If you’re not careful, it can play hell with your mind. Those women will say and do all kinds of things for your benefit. And somewhere deep within, you know it’s a setup, but you don’t want it to stop. (Long silence. Then DAD grins and...) It was that way with your mother.
29 (SON stiffens. His hands grip the table tight. If he were an animal, the hair on his back would be standing on end) DAD: (To WAITER) It was a by-invitation-only reception for major donors following a performance. She knew I’d be there. She knew who I was and how much I was worth. And she came at me with everything she had. SON: (To WAITER) She couldn’t hold alcohol. He could see that right away. He got her into a side room, poured booze into her until she couldn’t stand up. Then he and some of his friends - DAD: She had no business going there. heat, stay out of the - If you can’t stand the
SON: She was twenty, for God’s sake! She was a dancer. All she cared about was her art. All she knew how to do was dance! DAD: And she got to dance! Your problem is, you think she’s some kind of Virgin Mary in a tutu. So isn’t it hard when you find out she’s just like all the rest of them? (SON springs to feet, pistol pointed at DAD) SON: I should kill you right now! (DAD points pistol at SON. Mexican standoff) DAD: Put that away. (SON moves along wall, pistol pointed at DAD. DAD keeps his pistol trained on SON) I mean it, Victor. No. Listen to me. Look at me. DAD: Don’t. It’s not worth it. DAD: Put it away. SON: Suddenly, it’s a
(SON keeps moving slowly along the wall toward the door to the outside, his gun hand starting to shake. He steadies his aim by gripping his wrist with his free hand. Abruptly, WAITER stands, moves between DAD & SON, blocking the line of fire)
30 WAITER: Leave him, sir. DAD: Get out of the way. WAITER: No, sir. I will not. Sit down! DAD: He has to learn! WAITER: I will not! (SON reaches door and screened by WAITER, exits. The door slams. DAD lowers pistol) DAD: Damn you! WAITER: That was very bad thing, sir. Very bad. you. And for Victor as well. I will pray for
Damn it, man!
(DAD sits, slumps down in chair) Yeah. You do that. DAD: You go pray.
(WAITER gets tray, silently begins clearing tables. DAD and WAITER avoid eye contact) WAITER: Will there be anything else, sir? (DAD shakes head. WAITER bows, exits through service door with tray full of with dirty dishes. Blackout. Sound of clock chiming. Sound of drumming and men whooping it up somewhere outside. Lights up. DAD stands, staring out window. WAITER stands behind bar, Bible open. Big clock says 9:05) (Reads Go to the lost sheep. heaven is near. Heal (Makes Cleanse the lepers. (Makes Raise the dead. (Makes And cast out devils. (Makes Amen. WAITER: haltingly, translating from Russian) Preach and say to them. Kingdom of the sick. a heal the sick hand movement) a cleanse the lepers hand movement) a raise the dead hand movement) a cast out devils hand movement)
31 DAD: Sounds like they’re casting out a trainload of devils out there tonight. WAITER: When I was small, when we hear Uzbek drums, my mother would lock door, pull curtains down, hide us under bed. DAD: Uzbeks aren’t so bad. You just have to get to know them. I know Uzbeks. WAITER: I say nothing more about Uzbeks. (Sound of men cheering as drumming builds to a crescendo. Then silence) WAITER: He is out there with them. DAD: Yes. WAITER: Is that good idea? (Another cheer. silence again) More drumming. Then
DAD: I don’t know. Guess he prefers the company of his “blood brothers” to ours. WAITER: He is young. He must learn about people, both good people and these bad ones. Sir, again I wish to apologize for - (DAD turns aways from window) DAD: No need. You did the right thing. I had no business pointing the gun at Victor. Got to admit, you have balls. WAITER: Balls? DAD: (Gestures to his crotch) Balls. More balls than Victor. Thank you. WAITER: You are very kind.
Courage. Ah! Yes.
(Long silence. WAITER putters around. More drumming and cheering. Then silence again) DAD: You know, nothing ever turns out the way you plan.
32 WAITER: Sometimes God has his own plans. DAD: Guess that’s right. I have one son who hates me. I spent one hundred million dollars on him and he doesn’t care. Just sits on his butt waiting for me to die. Years ago, I was young and on the make. I planned to have five sons. Five! In my mind, I had each son’s education and career goals outlined. They were going to be my champions, my heroes. I visualized my business rivals pointing them out and envying me. Then a child arrived. A girl. Then a second girl. Then a third girl. Then...well, you get the picture. These daughters. WAITER: What are their ages?
DAD: My four range from twenty-two to twenty-eight. When girls grow up, they’re nothing but trouble. When you have children, you’ll see. Remember what I told you. Adopt. Yes. WAITER: Again thank you for this tip.
DAD: The woman was giving me nothing but girls, so I made a change. And you have to hurry on these things. Can’t wait forever. Only so many rounds in the clip. So I married the ballerina and I got my son. But you know what they say about getting what you ask for. I have a son who does the opposite of whatever I ask. Daughters, of course, don’t count. You can have twenty girls and it doesn’t mean a thing. I’m being punished. For what, I have no idea. WAITER: This story is making me very sad. I am just a little man with a little brain, but I am thinking if Victor is not making you happy, why not let the daughters - DAD: Why not let the daughters? Why not let the daughters? If this was back in the States and I was running a Silicon Valley dot com enterprise or a fast food empire, that would work. Back there, you have all these break-through-theglass-ceiling pinheads and they cream in their jeans when a female takes over a boardroom. You follow me? WAITER: Exactly! Is like in Russia! Greatest czar was woman who - DAD: But this isn’t the States. It’s not Russia, either. I do my business in the oil and gas fields of Myanmar, Khazakstan and here, where things haven’t much changed since the days of Genghis Khan. I deal with men who kidnap their wives, for God’s sake. It’s true. When it’s time for a man to get married, he mounts his horse and goes and gets himself a woman at gunpoint. You can only imagine my daughters - -
33 WAITER: It is insult to animals to call them animals. (WAITER spits on floor. A shot rings out. A window pane is smashed. Blackout. Sound of lock chiming. Lights up. Ominous drumming. Center table and window table have been turned on their sides, table tops facing door. DAD crouches behind tables, pistol in hand. Big clock on the wall says 11:05) WAITER: It is like this once, maybe twice, every year, Sir. Uzbeks are very unstable people. Anything sets them off. The government should send them to live in caves. DAD: But will they attack? WAITER: Who can say? The Uzbek brain is. What is the word? cannot foretell. DAD: Unpredictable? WAITER: Yes. That is the word. They are like box of chocolates. You never know what you get. DAD: Can we call for help? WAITER: If we had computer and dish, we could, yes. But you broke computer to punish your son and the dish is outside with Uzbeks. As for me. I am very poor. When I must call Tashkent, I go to Uncle Dmitri’s house and use his phone. DAD: So we’re fucked. WAITER: That is very bad word. DAD: Why are you so cool about this? WAITER: I am Russian. Russians believe, if you ignore bad news, maybe it goes away. (Another shot. Another pane in the window is smashed) DAD: (A despondent tone) My own son! You
34 WAITER: But you don’t like him. DAD: He didn’t like me first! WAITER: But he must have liked you when he was very small. Children like everyone. DAD: Children don’t count. But children grow up and then - (Gestures toward the window) The little bastard! He’s out there, getting those guys ready to kill me. Whipping them up with war dances and fire water. WAITER: Uzbeks are hypocrites. All week, they drink like the fishes but on Friday they go to mullah to beg him to say sorry to allah. No Russian ever said sorry for vodka. It would be sacrilege. Vodka is gift from God. (Silence as WAITER slides bar across floor and positions it in front of door as a barricade. More silence. Then DAD emits a loud sigh of self-pity) DAD: Maybe I should kill myself. WAITER: What is it you said? (Puts pistol to head, but carefully watches WAITER’s reaction out of corner of eye) DAD: Kill myself. End it all. I don’t see any way out. And it would be a lot less messy for everyone concerned. And those guys probably wouldn’t burn down Palmiro’s. You’d get to keep your restaurant. It’s win-win. You see that, don’t you? WAITER: You are crazy. You - DAD: Plus! Plus, you could cash in. Nothing wrong with cashing in as long as it’s tasteful and you’re taking the high road. You could advertise this is the place where the noted billionaire and philanthopist, Willard Randall Tyler, killed himself. You could even do a chalk outline right here on the floor. You build it, people will come. Put the gun down. WAITER: Please put gun down.
35 DAD: It’s a no-brainer. He’s going to kill me anyway. Signs are unmistakable. You know what they say: when you gotta go, you gotta go. WAITER: That is not about dying. That is about bodily function. Completely different thing. Please. Put it down. Let me go out and talk to your son. (With a sigh, DAD lowers pistol) DAD: You’re going to go out there? WAITER: He will talk to me. DAD: I don’t know if he will. Don’t forget, he’s an Uzbek blood brother now. And you don’t like Uzbeks. He will talk to me. WAITER: I am sure of it.
DAD: Maybe it would be better if he came in here instead of you going out there. WAITER: When you two are in same room, there is anger and fight. Last time you pointed guns and I had to step in middle to keep you from pulling trigger. DAD: Yeah okay, no argument there. Good point. go on out there and you talk to Victor. Okay, yes. You
WAITER: One last thing. I don’t want to go out, talk to son and come back and find you (Points finger gun at head) dead from gunshot. It would be. How do you say? Beating the horse to death. So please. Give me the gun. DAD: You don’t trust me? WAITER: I trust God and Mother Russia. (DAD shrugs, hands WAITER his pistol. WAITER pockets it, goes to door to the outside, crosses himself and exits. Blackout. Long silence. A single sickening WHUMPPP sound. More silence. Then sound of funereal drumming. Lights up. The three tables have been pushed together in the center of room. WAITER enters carrying body of SON, wrapped for burial in the linens and
36 bindings of a Warrior of the Steppes. He lays him reverently on the table and steps back. Big clock on the wall says 12 midnight. DAD enters through service door. Long silence as he regards the body) DAD: So he’s dead. WAITER: Yes. DAD: A tragedy. WAITER: The death of one so young is tragic. It was like that in Russia when Alexander Nevsky died. A man asks, “Why?” DAD: What about Victor’s blood brothers? Drunk. All drunk. Where were they?
WAITER: I had to wake the drummer. Then...)
DAD: Hard to believe, but he was aiming to kill me. Oh no no no, Sir. No. WAITER: He would not do that.
DAD: I tell you, he would. When he pointed the blade at me, I saw pure, unadulterated hate. I must say, it frightened me. WAITER: Again I must disagree, Sir. This boy was gentle. He had the soul of an artist in him. His mother was a - (DAD pounds fist on table. DAD: I KNOW WHAT SHE WAS! SHE WAS MY WIFE! you persist in contradicting me? WAITER jumps) Why do
WAITER: It is not contradiction, Sir. I only say how I see him. DAD: You saw how he wanted you to see him! As for having the (Makes air quotes) “soul” of an artist. He had the shell, the façade, but not the soul. He was a cunning actor. He fooled you, had you eating from his hand. But he was all pride. And ambition. And he failed, failed me in the one thing that mattered. (Rounds on WAITER, grasps him by collar) Don’t you fail me.
37 WAITER: (Suddenly very frightened) I won’t fail you. (Blackout. Sound of horses galloping. Lights up. The room is deserted. Near the door, two suitcases. Big clock on the wall says 9 am. Enter WAITER in traveling clothes. He looks around, as if saying good bye to the room) WAITER: Ah, Palmiro’s. I shall miss you. It was an experiment. But with Uzbeks, it is like throwing rich pearls to pigs. (Enter DAD) DAD: Ah! You are ready. Good. WAITER: (Indicates suitcases) I have not much to take. My life is. How do you say? (Points to brain) All up here. DAD: Travelling light. I like that! Nothing weighing you down. Footloose and fancy free. My kind of guy. (Suddenly turns serious) Regarding Victor, all is in order? WAITER: Yes, Sir. Two tribesmen are taking him to place in high mountain. There is Uzbek name for it. In English, it is Eagle Nest. DAD: Eagle Nest. WAITER: It is old tradition from time of Genghis Khan. A warrior, when he dies, they take him to Eagle Nest and lay the corpse on a mat on high poles. Eagles come down from sky and tear skin from bone. They say it is how warrior becomes eagle. It is disgusting to see, but old Uzbek custom. Hunh! DAD: So Victor’s turning into an eagle. WAITER: Yes, Sir. (WAITER picks up suitcases. They start toward door. DAD suddenly stops) DAD: There’ll be a report that’ll have to be filed. There’s always a report. We never actually fleshed out the details about Victor, about what happened.
38 WAITER: It was a train. His men were drunk and asleep in tents and Victor was wide awake but his soul was much troubled. He walked to the railroad track and sat there. The train hit him. That is how he died. I have seen others die that way. DAD: But the closest train track is fifty miles away. WAITER: That is true. Victor died in another way. He was overcome by grief and guilt. He climbed to top of tall tree to confess to God face-to-face and his foot slipped and he fell to Earth. I have seen others die in just that way. DAD: Problem is, how to broach it to the people back home. WAITER: Yes. It is a difficult thing to be bearer of sad tidings. To be cause of much weeping and wailing and. How do you say it? Gnashing of teeth? DAD: If only it were that simple. You know I’m rich. Which makes me a target and fair game for every news hack and paparazzo in the country. And they’ll do their damnedest to play judge and jury and convict me in the media. Years back, when I changed my woman, they literally tarred and feathered me. Count on it that they will find something to find fault with in Victor’s death. WAITER: In Russia, we cut their throats! DAD: But in America, you can’t even sue. It will be like this. If we say it was a train, they will ask, who pushed him in front of the train? If we say it was a tree, they will ask, who gave him drugs to disorient him and make him fall? But these are lies! WAITER: This is not truth. This is evil - -
DAD: Truth means nothing. The way I see it, simplest is best. Victor killed himself. WAITER: But that is not exactly how - DAD: Hear me out! All the pieces of the puzzle are there. He was drinking, becoming increasingly moody and unstable. He began fantasizing about being an Uzbek warrior. WAITER: But that was a game. It was not serious. It is like boy playing. How do you say? Cowboy and Indian.
39 DAD: The key was when his fantasy crossed over and invaded his reality. Suddenly there he was, standing in warrior dress, sword pointed at my throat, commanding me to call him Malik. In his mind, it was all flesh-and-blood real. WAITER: No no, It was the drink. Sometimes when I drink vodka, I think I’m the Czar of - DAD: And I think it wasn’t a drunken interlude! I think he was planning to kill! The drumming, the shots, the broken windows. These weren’t acts of a boy under the influence. Believe it, he was preparing an assault on us both. On us both? On me? would he kill me? WAITER: No no no. He would not kill me! Why
DAD: You would’ve been an inconvenient witness. In his state, he’d have killed even his best friend. I’m convinced of it. But at the last minute, when his blood brothers deserted him, he was suddenly alone and he chose to end it all. (Long moment. WAITER shivers in fear. Then a big nod as if finally coming to a conclusion) WAITER: Yes. One thing I now recall. He told me secret about himself. He said, “If my father dies, I would feel nothing.” Nothing! I said it was big sin to feel nothing. DAD: Nothing. Words of a cold-blooded killer. I’m not surprised he said it. At that point, Victor was operating without any moral restraint. Totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. Of course, we can’t say any of this. People wouldn’t understand. WAITER: Yes, sir. Yes, I see that now. If a person was not here, that person would not see what we saw. Exactly. unknown. Yes Sir. DAD: So we should say that he killed himself, reasons Leave it unsolved. It’s for the best. WAITER: I can see it is for best.
DAD: Lots of young people kill themselves. Pressure of growing up is too much for them. Plus there’s the drugs and the self-absorbed parents who abandon their responsibilities. WAITER: It is a sad fact, Sir.
40 DAD: Yes. Sad. WAITER: Yes, Sir. DAD: So what have we learned from this? It is mystery, Sir. WAITER: Wrapped in enigma.
(Blackout. Twenty seconds of absolute silence. Then one long BONGGG!!!! Lights up. The clock is no longer on the wall. Also, the posters are gone. The furniture is gone, except for one lone water cooler. DAD & WAITER sit on folding chairs at a rickety card table. There’s a laptop & printer on the table. WAITER, pen in hand, nervously reads a thick document as DAD drums fingers) WAITER: I do not understand any of this, Sir. (The drumming stops) DAD: To be honest, neither do I. I’m just a simple guy at heart. But my lawyers say we need this. They’re the ones getting paid to write the words, cross the t’s and dot the i’s. WAITER: With this paper, you are adopting me. This I comprehend, because this is what you tell me. But where does it say this? I am reading pages and pages and it is confusing. DAD: I hear you, pal. Sometimes it can seem like a foreign language. And actually, in your case, I guess it is. But hey, why don’t you just go ahead and sign, so we can get out of here? WAITER: I would like nothing more but to do that, but - DAD: But what? WAITER: But I have serious questions about. About full faith and credit. What is the word?
DAD: (Suddenly very wary) Full faith and credit? You’re saying I’m not good for it? Look at me! I’m solid gold Fortune 500. I can back up my word, ten thousand per cent. So what’s the problem?
41 WAITER: It is that I am a little person and you are like a king. When you leave here and go back to your mansions and your stocks and bonds, maybe you forget about me. And then I will be. How shall I say? Left holding bag. DAD: No way. It wouldn’t be like that at all. be like a son to me. Like your last son? WAITER: Like Victor? Sign and you’ll
(Whoa! This hits DAD like a brick in the face. DAD looks at WAITER with sudden admiration and amazement. A long moment) I was right about you. DAD: You are wise.
WAITER: It is only that I am what I am. DAD: No, really. You’re very wise. And not run-of-the-mill wise. You’re a wise man pretending to be a simp. There’s an art to that. All right, I get it. What do you want? WAITER: You and I. We know the thing that happened here. This thing we saw with our eyes. And we agreed to take this knowledge with us to the grave. But on the journey to the grave, you to yours and I to mine, there must be trust. For me to be a one hundred per cent committed party to this trust, there must be a link more substantial (Gestures toward the document on the table) Than this heap of papers. DAD: Suddenly your English got a hell of a lot better. (WAITER smiles, shrugs) Hey! Keep talking. DAD: Don’t stop. Got to feed the monkey.
WAITER: Then permit me to cut to chase. If I were truly a member of your family. A true family person to you. There would be no question of undying loyalty. (DAD is frowning) Undying. (DAD is still frowning) Until death. And beyond. (Finally...) DAD: Family.
42 (WAITER, big smile, nods) DAD: So you’re saying to me adoption doesn’t do it. WAITER: It is a most generous act on your part, but it lacks the heart and soul and sinew of a tie that truly binds. DAD: Okay. I think I get the gist. Permit me, then, to cut to the chase, as I see it. Where you’re going with this is, you want me to marry you to one of my daughters. WAITER: You are being most blunt, Sir. DAD: You are a fucking piece of work. You know that, don’t you?
(WAITER loses the big smile, stares down into his lap, hoping the storm will blow past) DAD: If this were any other time, any other place, and a turd like you came out of the sewer and asked me that, I’d feed you your dick on a plate. I’d cut you up and toss you in a tank full of sharks. But I can’t because I’m in the here and now. And you got me by the balls. So fuck it. (DAD stands, picks up a length of two-by-four from the pile of debris. He starts smashing up the water cooler, cursing as he does) Fuck it! Fuck it! Fuck it! DAD: Fuck it! Fuck it! Fuck it!
(DAD does this until he’s out of breath and there’s nothing left of the water cooler) WAITER: It is most instructive what you Americans say when you are angry. Victor taught me how to say, “Just fuck it.” It was. How do you say? Refreshing. DAD: I’m sure it was. (Drops two-by-four. It hits floor with a bang) All right, you win. But I get to pick the daughter. And if you’re not happy with her, fuck it. WAITER: It is okay, Sir. It is like that in Russia. There has never been a happy marriage in all our history. Not one. It is cross we bear. It is why we are sad. It is why we drink. DAD: And it’s probably why you...ahhh. I won’t even say it.
43 WAITER: If you were going to say Russian joke, Sir, it is okay. There are many jokes about Russians. I have heard them all. I won’t. One thing though. DAD: Stop calling me Sir.
WAITER: What do you want me to call you? DAD: Give it time. You’ll think of something. Ask your new wife. Got no doubt she’ll have all kinds of names to suggest. (DAD drapes an arm around WAITER’s shoulder, pulls him close, grins. There’s something sinister, almost evil, in how he does this) DAD: So. Welcome to the family. (DAD takes a small package from his inside coat pocket, hands it to WAITER) DAD: For you. WAITER: What is it? DAD: Open and see. (DAD watches as WAITER opens package and takes out a pistol. WAITER nervously holds it up and away, closes eyes and clicks the trigger once, flinches at the click) DAD: Like it? WAITER: It will take, as you say, getting used to. Don’t take too long. DAD: I got some work for it.
(DAD takes pistol back, sits down, takes out a box of bullets, begins loading it. WAITER stands watching, waiting for the other shoe to drop. DAD talks as he loads pistol) DAD: Victor was one year old. I had made the Fortune 500 for the first time. Suddenly I was somebody, somebody people were starting to notice. That is not always good, for a week after Victor’s birthday party, a man appeared at my door, said he had just kidnapped Victor. It cost me one hundred million dollars cash to get him back.
44 WAITER: That is a terrible thing to - DAD: Worse thing was, the boy I got back wasn’t Victor. switch. Not Victor? Not your son? WAITER: How did you know? DAD: Some things you just know. WAITER: Who was he then? DAD: Someone else. WAITER: Did you tell him? DAD: Now what good would that do? But as for the kidnapper, I found him. Took years, and lots of money, but I found him. Now I put a question to you. What should happen to him? WAITER: In Russia, he would be killed slowly. He would beg to die. It was a
DAD: Yes. You had the Chekas, the NKVD, the GPU, the KGB and all the rest. But that stuff is messy. Personally, I prefer the Chinese method. WAITER: Chinese method. DAD: Single bullet to the back of the head. (DAD gives WAITER a meaningful look and hands loaded pistol back to him. WAITER stares at pistol and nods slowly. Blackout. Lights up. The pieces of the smashed water cooler still lie in a heap at the wall. Also there’s a pile of debris on the floor in the middle of the room. Sound of workman somewhere outside tearing down a wall. DAD on his knees fills the backpack with laptop and printer. Sound of a pistol shot. DAD smiles, begins whistling to himself as he packs. Sound of another shot. Then another. DAD finishes packing, stands, picks up backpack, waves good-bye to the room and exits through the door to the outside) The End
Cast of Characters Erica Molly Hafez American, full figure, 30’s Female, English, thin, 30’s Male, Arab, 30’s
Synopsis ‘Tis the night before 9/11, and two women get a foretaste of the madness to come....
46 (At Rise: Living room in New Jersey, USA. 5:50pm per the clock on the wall. A window that looks outside to the back yard. Sections of newspaper lay scattered about. A dining table, some dining chairs, a sofa, a TV, a coffee table, a phone. An ice bucket on table with several bottles of beer. A coat tree by window. A bassinet near the table. A door leading to kitchen & outside. A door leading to hallway, bathroom & bedrooms. ERICA in torn jeans enters carrying bowl of cold cereal. She approaches bassinet) ERICA: (To the bassinet, holding bowl over it) Look Sandra, mommy’s going to eat corn flakes. See? Corn flakes are made from corn and have lots of energy. I eat them with sugar. You can eat them with strawberries or peaches. (Sits at table) Listen to Mommy eating corn flakes. (She slurps and lets milk dribble) Isn’t that funny? It’s okay to laugh. But you have to be very quiet when your Aunt Molly gets home. Aunt Molly works hard. And she needs time to calm down when she gets home. So be sure to be very good when she walks in the door. But later, we can make noise because we’re going to watch Monday Night Football. It’s okay to be noisy for football. (Sings loudly) Are you ready for some football?! (Laughs) Be sure to root for the Giants. It’s New York against Denver tonight. Do you smell chili? I’m making chili for the game. It’s spicy so you can’t have any. It’s not good for you. Bad for your stomach, makes you poop all the time. No. No, you can’t have any. Stop crying. Stop that. Stop crying or I’ll put you in the closet with Winston. That’s better. Mommy’s going to read the sports page. So hush. (ERICA searches for sports section, finds it, reads while eating noisily. She dribbles milk on table. MOLLY enters through door from kitchen, hair disheveled, coat hanging off her after a bad day at work, demeanor one of rage barely under control. She silently sets her case flush against wall, goes to the coat tree, takes off her coat, hangs it. Then she gives the coat tree a karate kick. The coat tree crashes down. ERICA stands, grabs swaddled baby from bassinet and exits in a rush thru door leading to hallway, bathroom & bedrooms. MOLLY kicks the coat tree several more times, stares down at it, takes a deep breath, delivers yet another cruel kick. Then, out of breath, she stops and stares at her handiwork, letting the rage build again inside her. ERICA reenters thru same door)
47 ERICA: I’m making chili. MOLLY: (Two more hard kicks) Take that, Hoffman! And that! (Turns, blinking) What? What’s that you said? Chili. I’m making chili. ERICA: For the game tonight.
MOLLY: Oh, is that how American chili smells. (ERICA silently goes to fallen coat tree, stands it back up, hangs MOLLY’s coat neatly on it. Her movements are awkward. As ERICA does this, MOLLY silently goes to table, wipes up ERICA’s spilled milk and arranges newspaper in a neat stack. Her movements are nimble. Then MOLLY sits and ERICA moves behind her, massaging her temples and brushing her hair. This is a nightly ritual) MOLLY: I had a call today from London. From Cousin Clive. He was calling about Aunt Fi. Seems she didn’t get her birthday telephone call. ERICA: Oh oh. MOLLY: What do you mean? I guess. Oh oh? ERICA: Guess I forgot to.
MOLLY: Forgot to give me the message? Clive sent a post a fortnight back. It said don’t forget Aunt Fi on the ninth. Aunt Fiona was ninety-nine years old yesterday. Yesterday was September the ninth. She was ninety-nine on nine slantbar nine. Think of it. ERICA: I don’t know her. MOLLY: Ninety-nine on nine slantbar nine. Nine nine nine nine. Four nines. How often does that happen? ERICA: I can’t remember everything. Just. Just call her and tell her it’s still the ninth in New Jersey.
48 MOLLY: She bought my ticket to come to America. to live on. I can’t lie to her. ERICA: What are you going to do? MOLLY: What I should do is, make you call her. I don’t know her. ERICA: I wouldn’t know what to say.
She gave me money
MOLLY: You’re no help. I’ll call her tomorrow at work. It’ll be September the eleventh, two days late. Better late than never. I’ll sweet talk her. She’ll forgive me. And us. ERICA: Do you feel better now? Yes. Thank you. MOLLY: You do that so well.
ERICA: You should file a complaint about Hoffman. Oh right. You should. A grievance. MOLLY: He’d like that.
ERICA: You should do it.
MOLLY: He’d tell the staff, “You see? I told you. She’s well dodgy, that one.” Mark my words. He’s lying in the grass waiting to strike. It’s his way. ERICA: You should quit. Resign my post? MOLLY: Are you demented?
ERICA: It’s an hour and a half ride in. That’s three hours a day back and forth. Everyday. The train to Hoboken, then the subway to the World Trade Center. Why not find a job here? In Parsippany or Morristown or Basking Ridge. You’d be happier. And think. No Hoffman. MOLLY: Out of the question. ERICA: So you’re staying on to be his punching bag. MOLLY: I’m no one’s bag.
49 ERICA: Then what? MOLLY: I’m like Winston Churchill. My back’s to the wall, my teeth bared, my claws like hawk talons. As you Yanks say, “Don’t tread on me.” Ouch! ERICA: Keep your head still. MOLLY: When’s this chili stew going to be ready? ERICA: It’s not a stew. You have to cook it slowly. there and go bloop, bloop, bloop. Bloop, bloop, bloop. mean bloody soon. It has to sit
MOLLY: Well. I do hope it’s bloopy soon.
ERICA: Did you know chili is from the devil? Satanical chili? MOLLY: Where’d you get that?
ERICA: In the cookbook. It had the history of chili. People used to say chili’s the devil’s soup because of the spices. Priests would tell people, don’t eat it, because it makes you do bad things. MOLLY: No one’s going to kill, fornicate or run amuck due to the ingestion of a spicy slumgullion. Suddenly, I’m keen to try it. Please get me a drink. Hoffman and his nastiness have put me in a deep funk. ERICA: (Stops brushing, sets brush down) All right.
MOLLY: See how that chili is doing while you’re at it. (ERICA exits thru door to kitchen) Oh, by the way, I’ve asked someone in tonight. (ERICA instantly reenters via same door) ERICA: What?! MOLLY: I’ve invited a man in. A man? ERICA: A man’s coming here? Tonight?
50 MOLLY: Yes. (Stands) Is something wrong?
ERICA: (Turns away from MOLLY) No. Uh yes. No. Well. It’s just. It’s. I’m ready for a man yet. He’s not marrying you. MOLLY: He’s just visiting.
I don’t know if
ERICA: I need to get my thoughts collected. A man. game tonight? I was going to watch it.
What about the
MOLLY: You’ll see the end. He’ll be gone by then. You need to get your priorities right. It’s time for you to get back into circulation. Time for you to go on out there and give it a bash. Have faith in yourself. I have faith in you. (Behind her. Hand on ERICA’s shoulder) Despite your situation. Despite all that’s happened, I have faith in - My situation! my situation! ERICA: You had to say it! You’re always bringing up
(Erica turns suddenly, removes MOLLY’s hand from shoulder. The force of her action leaves scratch marks on MOLLY’s arm. MOLLY cries out in pain) Oh God, I’m sorry! Oh God! ERICA: I didn’t mean it! MOLLY: You cut my arm!
Look what you did!
I’m sorry, Molly!
ERICA: I’m so sorry.
MOLLY: (Eyes shut tight) Am I bleeding? I’m sorry! I’m sorry! ERICA: I’m. MOLLY: AM I BLEEDING?! No. No, I don’t think so. Please check. You’re fine. ERICA: I’m sorry, Molly.
MOLLY: I can’t abide blood. ERICA: I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
51 MOLLY: Are you quite sure?
Are you sure? Yes.
Can I look?
Yes, I’m sure.
ERICA: You can look. I’m so sorry.
MOLLY: (Opens eyes) Oww. It’s ugly. And painful. You see how fragile you are! One thing off center, you lose control. ERICA: I’m sorry. MOLLY: Now please get me a drink. ERICA: Yes. Yes. All right. (ERICA exits to kitchen, looking back nervously just before she disappears) MOLLY: And see how the chili’s getting on! (Sound of glasses, bottles, ice cubes, refrigerator opening & closing. MOLLY stands, looks at scratch on arm, winces, walks to coat tree, stands there, looking out window. Phone rings) ERICA’S VOICE: Get the phone! MOLLY: What?!? Get the phone! ERICA’S VOICE: I can’t!
MOLLY: You’re wanting me to pick up?! ERICA’S VOICE: Get the phone! MOLLY: Yes. Hello. ERICA’S VOICE: Oh, for God’s sake! The chili’s burnt, stuck to the pot! MOLLY: Mister Hoffman. It’s burnt! Yes. ERICA’S VOICE: All ruined! All right. (Picks up phone)
52 MOLLY: (Overlaps on first “ruined”) Be still! I can’t hear! I’m sorry, Mister Hoffman. It’s my flatmate. Yes, sir. (Sound of pots banging. Hand over mouthpiece) Quiet out there! I can’t hear into the phone! It’s burnt! All burnt! ERICA’S VOICE: Damn! Give me
MOLLY: What? Oh no. Please, sir. Don’t say that. another chance, sir. I’ll make it right.
(Sound of water and of a pot being scraped) Oh damn! Yes. Damn it! ERICA’S VOICE: It’s all a waste! I see.
MOLLY: I am sorry, sir. Yes.
(Sound of the garbage disposal) Burnt! Ruined! ERICA’S VOICE: No way around it!
MOLLY: (Hangs up. Peers out window) Not right. Not fair. They fuck you, then they chuck you off the cliff. (Raps on pane) Winston. Winston. (ERICA enters in an apron stained with chili. She has a drink in her hand) ERICA: Here’s your drink. Lots of ice. The way you like it. I poured the chili down the garbage. I had to. MOLLY: (Sips drink, cranes neck) Thank you. Thank you.
ERICA: The chili was ruined. You can call that man. MOLLY: (Not hearing. Continues rapping) Bloop bloop bloop. I’ve an urge to murder. None of that random running amuck with clubs and guns like you people do. I’d do it English style. Lace his drink with poison. Film the agony. Video at ten. ERICA: Chili’s ruined. Don’t say it. One more snafu by Erica. But don’t worry. We’ll have him over another night.
53 MOLLY: The August month-end numbers were out today. Hoffman with that oily Jew smile, saying we exceeded our quota. Sends the staff home early. He says, “Stay back, Molly. We need to chat.” ERICA: When you burn chili, you ruin it. No saving it.
MOLLY: Bloop. Bloop. Bloop. Feel so used. So cheated. So fucked and far from home. I feel. What’s that term you Yanks use? Taken for a ride. Yes. I’ve been taken for a bloody ride. Hoffman saying I’m incapable of closing a proper account. Hoffman saying every sale I make blows up in my face. Lies! All lies! Have you ever wanted to smash something to oblivion? Have you ever wanted to watch a thing burn till it’s consumed to the core? Bloop. Bloop. Bloop. (Turns to ERICA) Where’s Winston? I don’t see him out there. ERICA: Oh my God! MOLLY: What’s that look? What have you done with Winston? ERICA: He. He’s fine. MOLLY: Where is he?!? Molly, listen. ERICA: I was upset. I. MOLLY: You tell me now, damn you! ERICA: I put him out of my sight, is all. I was upset. I was worried about Sandra. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was worried Winston would hurt her. Fuck Sandra! He’s okay. MOLLY: What did you do with Winston!? ERICA: He’s in the closet. MOLLY: Which closet!? ERICA: The green room.
Oh my Lord God!
54 MOLLY: You know nothing! Are you aware how cruel that is? Winston’s a dog. Dogs are social beings. Confining him wreaks havoc on his psyche. He pooped on the rug. ERICA: What was I supposed to do?
MOLLY: You could have let him outside in the yard. ERICA: Then he poops on the lawn and digs up the flowers. MOLLY: I absolutely give up. Talking to you is wasting oxygen. I’m coming, Winston! Don’t worry, Winston! Molly’s coming! Oh, you horrid, horrid woman! (MOLLY exits through door to hallway, bathroom & bedrooms. A long silence, then muffled barks) ERICA: (To the audience) It’s not like she had the dog forever. She bought it last week. And do you think she consulted me? She did not. She walked in with this odd mutt on a leash and said, “This is Winston. I need someone to talk to.” Two days ago, I complained about having to clean up after Winston. She said, “When you pay half the rent, you can discuss my dog.” (Starts to weep) And then, she brought up my situation. (Fade to black. Lights up. 7:30pm per the clock on the wall. MOLLY sits at dining table. She’s changed into something chic and she’s done something smart with her hair. Her demeanor at table is stiff yet elegant. ERICA’s cereal bowl is gone. There are several lighted candles on the table. She reads the paper and sips her drink. The door to the hallway is ajar) MOLLY: (Loudly so ERICA can hear) Oh Erica! I hope you don’t mind, you made such a mess of the paper, I walked to the corner and purchased a clean copy. I took Winston along. ERICA'S VOICE: (Loudly so MOLLY can hear) Sounds like the walk did you good. MOLLY: The walk did me well, thank you. (Silence. MOLLY reads. Then……)
55 ERICA'S VOICE: I’m sorry for upsetting you. MOLLY: Think nothing of it. As much my fault as yours. ERICA'S VOICE: It was wrong of me to lock Winston up. MOLLY: Glad to hear you say it. (Silence. Then……) The New Jersey papers were sold out. All that was left was a single New York Post. A tabloid. ERICA'S VOICE: At least the movie news is the same. The same movies play in New York, don’t they? MOLLY: I’ve no doubt. ERICA'S VOICE: I never read New York papers. New York’s like a foreign country, as far as I’m concerned. MOLLY: Please let’s not start on New York. thoughts going back there tonight. I. I don’t want my
ERICA'S VOICE: It’s such a bad place. No decent person lives there. No woman safe there. They are lucky to have you working there. MOLLY: (Stage whisper) Were. They were lucky. All past tense now. (Louder) Thank you, Erica. I never go there. Erica! Stop it! ERICA'S VOICE: If it blew up, I’d not miss it. MOLLY: Have done.
(Silence. Then………) ERICA'S VOICE: The chili was ruined. You need to call that man. him to come some other time. MOLLY: (Takes another sip of her drink) Bloop, bloop, bloop. Did you hear? ERICA'S VOICE: I poured it down the drain. Tell
56 (ERICA enters through door from kitchen, still in torn coveralls & stained apron) ERICA: Are you going to cancel with that man? MOLLY: He’s on his way. He’ll be here at eight sharp. ERICA: I thought you would cancel. Oh, I see. of Winston. This is because
MOLLY: Erica, you’re thirty-three. That’s getting up there. And you haven’t been out since. ERICA: Oh no! No! You’re not going to tell him. personal and private. That’s
MOLLY: I’m not going to tell him. And you need to stop brooding. You need to start looking ahead, not behind. The best way is, go pick out a bloke at random, chat him up. Now go put on a nice dress. I need to prepare. he think of me? ERICA: Get my thoughts in order. What will
MOLLY: He’ll think you’re a ready, willing and able female unless you demonstrate to the contrary. Kindly cease your babbling. Go clean yourself. Please. You have twenty minutes. ERICA: Who is this man? What does it matter? WHO IS HE?!? MOLLY: No need to shout. If you must know, he’s the M.I.S. staffperson at work. Which means he keeps the computers running tiptop. He’s good with his hands and johnny-onthe-spot. His name is Hafez. Hafez? ERICA: What kind of a name is Hafez? MOLLY: He’s a man. ERICA:
MOLLY: Syrian, Arabian, or some such. He’s very nice. Eloquent speaker. Speaks the Queen’s English beautifully. We visit frequently. We chat. He says he likes to practice English with me. I suspect he wants to flirt.
57 MOLLY(Cont): Frightfully lonely, poor man. Has a fiancée waiting back in. Well, back wherever he comes from. You are so transparent. Don’t be vulgar. ERICA: You make it sound like you’re doing a good deed. MOLLY: What if I am? Please. Tonight. ERICA: Don’t mention my situation. ERICA: You just want a man to. MOLLY:
MOLLY: (To the Audience) Isn’t it instructive? What men call hell to pay or the razor’s edge, we women call a situation. I mean it, Molly. Oh, go on. I mean it. (ERICA exits through door to hallway, glaring back at MOLLY. She leaves door ajar. Suddenly, sound of doorbell) MOLLY: He’s here! (ERICA enters thru same door, agitated, dressed as before) ERICA: You said eight! Unusual for him. MOLLY: He’s typically dead on the mark. ERICA: He can’t see me like this! Don’t be silly. MOLLY: He’s just a man. ERICA: He can’t see me this way! (Sound of doorbell again) ERICA: Do not mention my situation.
MOLLY: Go make yourself pretty. ERICA:
58 MOLLY: Then go change. And be quick. I’ll let him in and he and I can chat until you make a grand entrance. Now mind you, don’t go turning the telly on to watch your precious football while he’s here. (Sound of doorbell a third time) MOLLY: Go! (ERICA exits thru hallway door closing door behind her. MOLLY waits until she's gone, then exits thru kitchen door. She glides like a queen, her glass held elegantly aloft. She leaves the door ajar. Sound of MOLLY humming a merry tune. Sound of door opening, sound of a man's voice, sound of glass smashing) Oh my God! MOLLY'S VOICE: Oh my God! Oh no! No! (ERICA enters thru door from hallway, in the midst of stuffing her body into tight jeans, low-neck top, and 3” sandals. She almost falls. Sound of MOLLY crying. Fade to black. Lights up. 8:10pm per wall clock. HAFEZ & ERICA sit on couch. HAFEZ in dark slacks, white shirt, tie. His coat hung on coat tree. An open liquor bottle on coffee table. ERICA holds her drink, sipping. She's tipsy and talks too loud. HAFEZ’s drink rests on coffee table half-empty. MOLLY sits at table, rocking back & forth, her arms tight against her body, the bloody corpse of her dog on the newspaper on the table) MOLLY: Oh my God. HAFEZ: It was unavoidable. The pooch ran under my car. Oh yes. Dogs do that. ERICA: They like to bite tires.
HAFEZ: I was steering my vehicle into your carport. I was pointing the torch at the flat number. I wasn’t watching the driveway. I’m so sorry, Molly. ERICA: The light must be out again. HAFEZ: Yes, the lamp was out. It was dark out there. still, I should have been careful. But
59 MOLLY: Oh my God. ERICA: You mustn’t blame yourself, Hafez. It wasn’t your fault. Molly doesn’t blame you, do you, Molly? MOLLY: Oh my God. HAFEZ: Blame me! Let her blame me. Blame Hafez. Molly is my dear friend. And a friend is like a four leaf clover, hard to find, lucky to have. Do you know Molly has a special coffee brewer in her cubicle? She brews coffee in the Turkish manner. Thick and sweet. Just like my mother makes it in Lebanon. Molly? I didn’t know. ERICA: She never said.
To be sure. Oh my God!
HAFEZ: Your cousin is quite the gourmet. MOLLY:
HAFEZ: Molly, please speak to us. Please say something. Erica, I tell you this from my heart. I am only human. I see sorrow. I see loss. What can I do? I must empathize. I tell myself to feel Molly’s pain. If ye prick me, do I not bleed? That’s from the Bard himself. It is so sad, is it not, when a dear animal shuffles off this mortal coil? ERICA: Yeah. Really sad. MOLLY: Oh my God! HAFEZ: Exactly. It is like losing a member of the family. ERICA: Cousin Winston. HAFEZ: I beg your pardon? ERICA: The dog’s name was Winston. Cousin Winston. Cousin Molly? Cousin Winston? You know.
HAFEZ: Yes exactly! Cousins. And Winston is logical, yes? Molly is English, the dog named after the great English leader. I have nothing to offer but blood.
60 MOLLY: Oh my God! HAFEZ: Sweat and tears. (Starting to squirm) Ah, excuse me, but it was a long trip from the Trade Center. I came straight here after doing the network backups. I really must visit the WC. ERICA: Oh yeah. Sure. Sure thing. Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Ha ha. (Stands, balancing precariously in heels. Points to door to hallway) Through there. It’s the first door on the right. HAFEZ: (Smiles, eyes on ERICA, salutes) As General MacArthur said, I shall return. (ERICA laughs, comes to attention, pushes out chest, sucks in tummy & salutes back, as HAFEZ exits through the hallway door. ERICA freezes in place until she hears the bathroom door lock) MOLLY: Oh my God! ERICA: That’s five times you’ve said that. MOLLY: You killed Winston. ERICA: You can’t prove it. MOLLY: There’s no need for proof. I know you did it. ERICA: You’re crazy. MOLLY: I? Mad? You dare call me mad? You’re the mad one. You should be taken out and publicly shot and they should have it on the telly at nine. ERICA: You put Winston in the yard. If you had any idea that I was a danger, you should have stayed out there with him instead of reading the news. MOLLY: Not in my wildest delirium did I think you’d open the gate to the street. I thought, at minimum, you possessed the instincts basic to our species.
61 ERICA: (Hard finger in MOLLY’s shoulder) I did not run Winston over! I went for a cigarette and forgot to lock the gate! So sue me! MOLLY: (Springs up. Pushes back at ERICA) You orchestrated the deed evil!
ERICA: (Takes a wild off-balance swing) You take that back! MOLLY: (Advances on her. Pushes her again) I pray legions of canines tear you to bits. ERICA: (Teetering on edge of falling over. Grabs hold of MOLLY’s blouse) What the hell are you doing?! MOLLY: (Grabs onto piece of ERICA's top) Release me, you loathsome slut! ERICA: Owwww! You bitch! (They collapse on floor, biting, spitting, hissing, kicking, scratching and kneeing each other. HAFEZ enters, sees them. An expression of strange arousal crosses his face. Fade to black. Lights up. 11pm per clock. Dog’s corpse on table. All are naked on the carpet, HAFEZ between ERICA & MOLLY. They are asleep. HAFEZ snores. Torn clothing strewn about. Half-empty bottles & glasses. A large, heavy ashtray on carpet. MOLLY awakens. She pokes and shakes HAFEZ) MOLLY: (A whisper so as not to awaken ERICA) Hafez! Hafez! ERICA: (Opens eyes) What time is it? MOLLY: Go back to sleep. Oh gee. ERICA: It’s eleven already. Hafez! (ERICA grunts and moves)
62 MOLLY: Go back to sleep. ERICA: (Licks lips, scratches) Giants and Broncos should be late in the third quarter just about now. MOLLY: You’re not turning on the telly. ERICA: I wasn’t going to. Aww. Now just look at him. Sleeping away like a baby. He worked so hard. You worked so hard, didn’t you? Yes, you did. (Silence. Then she draws close to the sleeping HAFEZ, kisses him on his cheek) You sure liked me, didn’t you? Yes, you did. MOLLY: (Pushes ERICA away) Leave him be. ERICA: Stop that. He’s my friend. MOLLY: My only friend.
ERICA: He was a lot friendlier with me. MOLLY: Because you were dressed like a slut. ERICA: Those were not slut clothes. Those were ready, willing and able female clothes. (Silence. Then…) Let’s wake him. He ought to be reloaded by now. MOLLY: No no! Let’s not! ERICA: What’s the matter? MOLLY: He’s had too much to drink. He’s tired. ERICA: (Shakes HAFEZ) Who ever heard of a man too tired to? Come on. Let’s ask him. Hey, Hafez. Hey! Hey, Haffy. Come on! Time to play. (HAFEZ stops snoring, groans, moves, does not open his eyes)
63 MOLLY: He’s had too much. He doesn’t hold liquor well. ERICA: Well, that’s no fun. Your own needs. MOLLY: It’s all you ever think about.
ERICA: I don’t ask for much. How often do I get to do this? There he is and I want to fornicate right now. I need to fornicate one more time. At least. I’m in just the right frame of mind. And there he is. Out like a. It’s not fair. MOLLY: Erica. What? I. MOLLY: I need to be alone with him. (HAFEZ moves again) Oh. ERICA: So I’m to be the odd woman out? MOLLY: A very bad day. And I had to clean Is that it? Please. ERICA:
I’ve had a bad day.
ERICA: What about me? I burnt the chili. dog poop off the carpet. MOLLY: I lost my job.
ERICA: And you know, you never really get all the poop out. There’s always a residue. There’s always some little bits left in the knit. MOLLY: I’ve never lost a job before. I’m thinking the most horrible thoughts right now. ERICA: And I’m thinking, he did me on the very spot where the dog went. I’ve had a bad day. MOLLY: A bad day.
ERICA: You already said that. Okay. Fine. (Gets up, gathers her clothes and shoes) Tell him I went to look after Sandra.
64 MOLLY: Thank you. ERICA: You go to hell. (ERICA exits thru door to hallway. HAFEZ starts to open his eyes) HAFEZ: I’m very sorry. MOLLY: You were listening. HAFEZ: It seems I’m the source of this discontent. MOLLY: It’s not you, Hafez. You’ve nothing to do with her or us. She’s her own worst enemy. (Shows him a key) Look what I have here. The key to the flat above. The girl there is gone for the week. She asked me to keep an eye. Let’s go up there. We can forget Erica. Molly. HAFEZ: I think I should leave. MOLLY: Oh no, don’t go, please. I’m sorry about Hoffman. HAFEZ: He’s wrong about you.
MOLLY: Please. I can’t be alone tonight. Please stay with me. HAFEZ: This is turning out badly. MOLLY: Just stay with me and hold me. I beg you. HAFEZ: I’ve a big project at the office. I must be in early. MOLLY: Oh right, I see. This is how it is! You’ve fucked to your heart’s delight and you’ve spent your penny and you’re leaving, thank you very much! Look at me. I’m depressed. I’m self-destructive. Please. Stay with me tonight. Please. If not as a lover, then as a friend. HAFEZ: Yes. All right. I will.
65 MOLLY: Thank you. I’ll get you up early. I’ll make sure you get to the Trade Center. If I have to, I’ll drive you. Hurry now. Get dressed. Don’t worry about about Erica. I’ll go fetch some pretty things from my bedroom and we can go upstairs. I’ll be just a moment. Wait for me. (MOLLY exits thru door to hallway. HAFEZ stands, dons underpants, gets trousers. His back to door, he steps one leg into trousers, as ERICA, naked, silently enters. She picks up a bottle. HAFEZ turns, sees her. He’s off-balance. ERICA strikes his head with bottle. He falls. She starts sobbing, kneels by him, takes ashtray, hits his head repeatedly. She emits a cry with each blow. MOLLY enters in lingerie & heels, sees what's happening, gasps. ERICA turns, sees her, laughs. The laugh turns to convulsive sobs. Fade to black. Lights up. 12:15am per clock. HAFEZ lies bloody on carpet, shirtless, his trousers half-on, half-off. ERICA's still naked, but now she’s at the table. The stained apron hangs from chair. The dog’s corpse is at the edge of the t able. ERICA sips from a bottle of beer as she watches the conclusion of the Monday Night Football game. MOLLY is still dressed in lingerie & heels. She is kneeling beside HAFEZ. The bottles, glasses & ashtray still lay on the carpet) MOLLY: Oh my God! ERICA: Giants are losing. MOLLY: Oh my God! ERICA: We don’t have a running game. MOLLY: Oh my God! Barber fumbles. Oh my God! ERICA: Please say something besides, “Oh my God.” ERICA: Dayne can’t hit the holes. MOLLY:
66 MOLLY: Did you know, he brought Winston to the door? Had him cradled in his arms like a baby. (Sobs. Dabs a tear) He was my friend. My little chum. He may have been just a dog to you. But he was my dog. ERICA: You’ll get another. Oh God, there we go again! Punt. We just can’t sustain a drive. MOLLY: It won’t be the same. ERICA: You’ll adjust. I adjusted. Get Dayne out of there! MOLLY: Suppose you’re right. (Silence. Sound of TV commercial. Then…) ERICA: Did you come? MOLLY: What? ERICA: (Indicating HAFEZ) Did you come?
MOLLY: What kind of question is that? ERICA: You invited him. You made no bones about what you wanted. I just wondered if. You got it. MOLLY: That is so cold. This was a human, a person, and should be accorded the dignity of such. (Silence except for sound of game) ERICA: I’d think he’d want us to come. Men are like that. It’s important to them. They always ask afterwards. “Did you come?” (Shakes fist at television) Damn it, Garnes! You’re supposed to hit him! MOLLY: Your brain’s in the muck. You are beyond the pale. ERICA: So. You didn’t.
67 MOLLY: Didn’t what? ERICA: Didn’t come. MOLLY: Whether I did or didn’t is beside the point. ERICA: I never realized what a prude you are. MOLLY: I’m not a prude. ERICA: You’re avoiding the topic and you’re not a prude? him! Stop him! Oh darn! MOLLY: It’s inappropriate to discuss it. ghoulish. It’s sick. Stop
ERICA: Darn! They scored. We’re down by fifteen. We got no chance. I can’t watch this. (Aims remote. Switches off TV) I just can’t. MOLLY: What are we to do? ERICA: Do? We need to cut Dayne and get a back who can run. MOLLY: Are you even listening? (MOLLY stands, goes to ERICA, grips her shoulders, turns her until they are eyeball to eyeball) We say he attacked us. Will they believe us? MOLLY: We have his spunk. ERICA: Spunk? MOLLY: Sperm. Oh yeah, that’s. ERICA: That’s right. MOLLY: We defended ourselves. ERICA:
68 MOLLY: We say it happened because I was terminated. He came to cheer me, started out nice. We gave him drink. He got brutish, lost control. After he finished on you, he took me. While he was rutting, you hit him till he stopped. ERICA: Why don’t we just put him in the car and? MOLLY: No. Not that. It’s the perfect place. ERICA: No one will ever.
MOLLY: I’m not going back there. Let Sandra rest in peace. I should never have gone along with you on that. Look, we have to tell them. If he’s reported missing, they’ll say at the office he and I were close. Then they’ll come here. And if a neighbor saw him run over Winston, then. ERICA: He did me first. Then you. And then I. (Picks up ash tray, demonstrates) Like that. MOLLY: Yes. ERICA: Does he have any relatives? No. Oh. He lives alone. So. MOLLY: I’ve been to his flat. ERICA: So you and he. MOLLY: What are you? Police? Yes, we did the. The thing. ERICA: Why couldn’t you find a man who was more. You know.
MOLLY: He was nice. He liked my coffee. What's the number? Nine one one. ERICA: You dial nine. Then one. Then one.
MOLLY: How odd. Just past midnight. And that’s today’s date. Eleven September. Nine eleven. ERICA: It’ll be on his tombstone. Hafez. Uh, what’s his full name?
69 MOLLY: Hafez al something. ERICA: Al? Like in Allen? MOLLY: No. It’s just al and then an Arab word. ERICA: Here lies Hafez al something. Born whenever. slantbar eleven, 2001. Died nine
MOLLY: He died more than an hour ago. It’d be nine ten. ERICA: Thank you, smartypants. Died nine slantbar ten. MOLLY: I’d best make the call. ERICA: Wait. (ERICA stands, takes the stained apron, covers HAFEZ’ head with it. Nods) Okay. Now. (MOLLY begins dialing. The End Fade to black)
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