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I’m working on a theater writing question and need a sample draft to help me learn.

Your response paper should answer these two questions:

What is the

playwright’s

message?

How is the

director

attempting to convey that message in this production?

Choose TWO elements of production (performance/acting; direction/staging/use of theater space; set design; costume design; lighting design; or music/sound design) and discuss how the choices made by the artist(s) responsible for those elements support your argument.

Below are the requirements for writing and submitting the paper:

Content must include:

Introduction paragraph stating your thesis, 2-3 supporting paragraphs discussing details of the elements you chose, and a concluding paragraph

Names of the artist(s) responsible for the elements you are discussing.

Details of their work and specific moments from the production from both Act 1 and Act 2 of the production

clybourne park
Bruce Norris
Performance Draft – February 2010
Contact: Mary Harden
Harden/Curtis Associates
850 Seventh Ave. #903
New York, NY 10019
(212) 977-8502
2
Act I (1959)
Russ………(white, late 40’s)
Bev………(married to RUSS white, 40’s)
Francine…(black, 30’s)
Jim……….(white, late 20’s)
Albert…….(married to FRANCINE, black, 30’s)
Karl………(white, 30’s)
Betsy…….(married to KARL, late twenties)
Act II (2009)
Tom (played by the actor who played)….Jim
Lindsey……………………………….…..Betsy
Kathy….…………….………………………Bev
Steve (married to LINDSEY)………………..Karl
Lena …………………………………..Francine
Kevin (married to LENA)……….………..Albert
Dan……………………………………..…Russ
Kenneth………………………………….…Jim
The set is the interior of a modest three-bedroom bungalow, 406 Clybourne Street, in the near
northwest of central Chicago. There is a sitting room with front door access, a fireplace with an
oak mantelpiece, and a separate dining area with built-in cupboards. At the rear of the dining
area a swinging door leads to a kitchen. A staircase leads up to a second floor, and beneath it,
another door leads down to a basement There is a hallway and a bathroom door as well.
Note: In the original production, the actor playing Jim and Tom also played the role of Kenneth.
In some subsequent productions a separate actor was hired to play the role of Kenneth alone.
3
Act 1
(September, 1959. Three o’clock,
Saturday afternoon. The house is in
disarray. Cardboard boxes are stacked
in corners. Some furniture has been
removed, shelves emptied. Pictures
have been removed from the walls and
carpets have been rolled and stood on
end. Not far from the fireplace, RUSS
sits alone reading a copy of National
Geographic. He is dressed in pajama
top and chinos, socks, no shoes. On a
table next to him sits a carton of ice
cream into which, from time to time, he
dips a spoon. Music plays softly on a
radio next to him.)
(After some time, BEV descends the
stairs carrying linens to place in a
cardboard box. As she packs, she
stops to look at RUSS.)
BEV
You’re not going to eat all of that, are you?
(He turns down the radio.)
RUSS
(with his mouth full) Whaddya say?
BEV
What ice cream is that?
RUSS
Um. (looks at the carton) Neapolitan.
BEV
Well, don’t feel compelled to eat that.
RUSS
(shrugs, barely audible) Going to waste.
(He turns the radio back up and
FRANCINE enters from the kitchen,
wearing a maid’s uniform.
RUSS
remains in the foreground as BEV joins
her.)
FRANCINE
(to BEV) So, if it’s all right I’m just going to put these candlesticks here in the big
box with the utensils.
BEV
That is what I would do, yes, but you do mean to wrap them first?
FRANCINE
Oh, Yes ma’am.
BEV
Oh. Now: Francine: I was wondering about this chafing dish, which we have
practically never used.
4
FRANCINE
Yes ma’am.
BEV
Do you own one of these yourself?
FRANCINE
No, I sure don’t.
BEV
Because I do love to entertain though for the life of me I can’t remember the last
time we did. But still, it does seem a shame to give it away because it’s just
such a nice thing, isn’t it?
FRANCINE
Oh, yes it is.
BEV
And it’s just looks so lonely sitting there in the cupboard so: I was wondering if
this might be the sort of thing that would be useful to you?
FRANCINE
Ohhhh, thank you, I couldn’t take that.
BEV
(re: chafing dish) See how sad he looks?
FRANCINE
You don’t want to be giving that to me.
BEV
Well, nonetheless I’m offering.
FRANCINE
No, I don’t think I should.
BEV
Well, you think about it.
FRANCINE
But thank you for offering.
BEV
You think about it and let me know.
FRANCINE
Yes ma’am.
BEV
And do put some paper around those.
FRANCINE
Yes ma’am.
(FRANCINE goes into kitchen. BEV
returns with more to pack, passing
RUSS.)
BEV
That’s a funny word, isn’t it? Neapolitan.
RUSS
(turns off radio) Funny what way?
BEV
What do you suppose is the origin of that?
RUSS
Uhhh… Naples, I imagine.
BEV
Naples?
RUSS
City of Naples?
5
BEV
Noooo.
RUSS
Of or pertaining to.
BEV
That would not be my first guess.
RUSS
Yup.
BEV
I would think it had something to do with neo, as in something new, and then
there’s the –politan part which to me would suggest a city, like metropolitan.
RUSS
Could be.
BEV
Meaning new city or something to that effect.
RUSS
(shrugs) Told you what I think.
BEV
Because a person from Naples, I mean they wouldn’t be called, well, not
Napoleon, obviously. I guess that was already taken! (laughs, then serious) On
the other hand, you do say Italian. But cities, though, and specifically ones that
end in S, because there must be a rule of some sort, don’t you think? Help me
think of a city other than Naples that also ends in S?
(Pause.)
RUSS
Uhhh –
BEV
Oh fiddle. Um.
RUSS
Des Moines.
BEV
Not a silent S.
RUSS
Brussels.
BEV
All right. There you go. And how do we refer to them?
RUSS
Belgians.
BEV
But, the people from the city.
RUSS
Never met anyone from Brussels.
BEV
But there has to be a word.
RUSS
Look it up.
BEV
Where?
RUSS
Dictionary?
BEV
But it’s not going to say this is the capital of Belgium and by the way the people
who live there are called –
6
RUSS
Give Sally a call.
BEV
She won’t know that.
RUSS
She and Ray went to Paris.
BEV
So?
RUSS
Close to Brussels.
BEV
Sally never knows those sort of things.
RUSS
Oh. Oh.
BEV
What?
RUSS
Parisians.
BEV
What about them?
(FRANCINE returns with more packing.)
RUSS
Paris ends in S.
BEV
But – It’s not Brusselsians.
RUSS
Or Nice.
BEV
I’m serious.
RUSS
Got the “S” sound.
BEV
But not Nicians. Like Grecians.
RUSS
No, no. Nicoise.
BEV
I know that, but –
RUSS
Know that salad your sister makes?
BEV
But that’s French
RUSS
It’s a French city.
BEV
I understand, but, I’m saying how would we say, in Eng- ? Well, now I don’t
remember the original question.
RUSS
Brussels.
BEV
No no.
RUSS
Des Moines?
BEV
No.
7
RUSS
Naples.
BEV
Naples. And I don’t think Neopolitan. How would that become Neopolitan?
RUSS
Muscovites.
BEV
What?
RUSS
People from Moscow.
BEV
Well, I give up, because that’s just peculiar.
RUSS
(chuckles at the word) Muscovites.
BEV
(the same) I wonder if they’re musky.
RUSS
(savoring the sound) Musss-covites.
BEV
(coming up with one) Cairenes!
RUSS
That is a strange one.
BEV
I’m telling you, that’s what they’re called!
RUSS
I’m not disputing.
BEV
But why Cairenes?
RUSS
(shrugs) Dated a girl named Irene.
BEV
Or Congolese?
RUSS
That, too, is correct.
BEV
So why don’t we say Tongalese?
RUSS
Or Mongolese.
BEV
No, Mongol-oid.
RUSS
No no, that’s different.
BEV
Oh, you’re right.
RUSS
That’s uhhh, you know, that’s –
BEV
No, I know.
RUSS
(tapping his finger on his temple) The thing with the –
BEV
(doing the same) Lke the Wheeler boy.
(FRANCINE exits again.)
8
RUSS
Right. The one who –
BEV
Bags the groceries.
RUSS
Right.
BEV
(beat, then:) But that’s nice, isn’t it, in a way? To know we all have our place.
RUSS
There but for the grace of God.
BEV
Exactly.
(Pause. RUSS breaks it with:)
RUSS
(pronouncing grandly, with a sweep of his hand) Ulan Bator!
BEV
What?
RUSS
(an exact repeat) Ulan Bator!
BEV
What are you doing?
RUSS
(once again) Ulan- !
BEV
Stop it. Tell me what you’re doing.
RUSS
Capital of Mongolia.
BEV
Well, why would I know that?
RUSS
(shrugs) National Geographic.
BEV
Oh oh. Did you change the address like I asked you?
RUSS
What do you mean?
BEV
For the National Geographic.
RUSS
The address?
BEV
Oh, Russ!
RUSS
Me?
BEV
I asked you.
RUSS
You did?
BEV
I asked you fifteen times.
RUSS
When?
BEV
I said don’t forget the change of address for the magazine and you promised me
that you would, you promised me specifically- (cont’d.)
9
RUSS
(overlapping) I did it last week.
BEV
(continuous) – that you would see to it so I – Oh.
RUSS
Pulling your leg.
BEV
I see.
RUSS
(a gentle imitation) Oh Russ!!
BEV
Maybe people don’t like having their leg pulled.
RUSS
I was just – I was – Okay.
(Pause.)
BEV
And are you going to bring that trunk down from upstairs?
RUSS
Yup.
BEV
Thought you said after lunch.
RUSS
Sort a two-person job.
BEV
And you really want to wear those clothes all day?
RUSS
Hadn’t really thought about it.
(A silence passes between them. RUSS
scratches his elbow).
BEV
But you know, you are a funny person. I was telling Francine – I ran into Barbara
Buckley at Lewis and Coker’s and Barbara said that Newland told her a funny
joke that you told at Rotary last year.
RUSS
That I told?
BEV
About a man with a talking dog?
RUSS
(shakes his head) Thinking of Don Lassiter.
BEV
No, It was you.
RUSS
Don’s the one with the jokes.
BEV
You know jokes. You tell jokes.
RUSS
A talking dog?
BEV
And Barbara said does Russ not go to Rotary anymore? Apparently they all
keep saying where’s Russ? (a beat, then) Not that I care one way or the other
but it does seem that you used to enjoy going and I don’t see why that, of all
things, should have to change – (cont’d.)
10
(RUSS shifts in his chair.)
BEV
(continuous, quickly) – and please don’t say what’s the point, Russ. I hate it
when you say that. Because for that matter – (cont’d.)
RUSS
(overlapping) I wasn’t going to say –
BEV
(continuous) – what’s the point of anything enjoyable, really? – (cont’d.)
(Phone rings. FRANCINE enters.)
BEV
(continuous) – Why not just sit in a chair all day and wait for the end of the world
but I don’t intend to live the remainder of my life like that and I think you could
take notice of the fact that talking that way frightens me.
FRANCINE
(phone) Stoller residence?
RUSS
(quietly, to BEV) Not trying to frighten you.
FRANCINE
Who may I say is calling, please?
RUSS
(to BEV, quietly) Ulan Bator.
FRANCINE
Excuse me, Miz Stoller?
BEV
Who is it?
FRANCINE
Mister Lindner wanting to talk to you.
RUSS
(with a groan) Ohh for the love of –
BEV
(to FRANCINE) Tell him I’ll call him back.
RUSS
Not one thing it’s another.
FRANCINE
(phone) Mister Linder, she wonders if she can call you back?
BEV
(overlapping FRANCINE, to RUSS) I only mean that people are concerned about
you – (cont’d.)
RUSS
(overlapping) Well, what’s the nature of the concern?
BEV
(continuous) – and I don’t see the point of spurning their good intentions.
RUSS
Gee whiz l’m just reading a magazine.
FRANCINE
(to BEV) Says he’s calling from a pay phone.
RUSS
(to FRANCINE) Just say we’re occupied.
BEV
No, I’ll take it, thank you Francine. (to RUSS, as she crosses) I’m just repeating
what Barbara said. (into phone) Hello?
11
RUSS
(to himself) Barely know the woman.
BEV
(phone) No no no, it’s just, we’re in a state of disarray, Karl.
RUSS
Somehow I spurned her.
(As FRANCINE returns to the kitchen,
the front door opens and JIM sticks his
head in. He is a youthful minister wears a clerical collar under his jacket.)
JIM
Ding dong?
RUSS
(seeing JIM, not rising) Oh. Uh, hey, Bev?
JIM
May one intrude, he politely asked?
RUSS
(to BEV) Jim’s at the door.
BEV
(seeing JIM, she mouths silently to him) Oh, oh, oh! Come in!! Come in!! (into
phone) Karl, I can’t hear what you’re saying.
JIM
Russ, my friend, I am crossing the threshold!
RUSS
Hey Jim.
JIM
(looking around) Holy Toledo Jiminy Christmas.
RUSS
Bev’s on the phone.
JIM
Hate to be the one to break it to ya, buddy, but somebody made off with yer
stuff!
RUSS
Kinda discombobulated.
BEV
(phone) Oh, Karl, I don’t think so, not today.
JIM
(to RUSS) S’not the big day, is it?
RUSS
(to JIM) No no. Monday.
BEV
(phone) No, it’s just, Russ is a little under the weather.
JIM
Piece of advice. Watch out when you start lifting things. Learned that the hard
way last month.
RUSS
(preoccupied with BEV) Izzat right?
JIM
(to RUSS) Ohhhh yeah. Judy says Jim, I gotta have me this spinet piano, a task
which naturally falls to me – (cont’d.)
BEV
(phone, overlapping) Well, if it’s absolutely necessary.
12
JIM
(continuous) – and there I am with this thing halfway up the front steps and me
underneath. And of course, it’s not the weight, you know. It’s the angle (cont’d.)
BEV
All right, Karl. (hangs up)
JIM
(continuous) – which is why they tell ya to bend the knees.
BEV
(re: JIM) Well, will you look what the cat dragged in?
RUSS
(to BEV, re: the phone call.) What was that about?
JIM
Bev, I am trying to bestow the pearls of my wisdom upon this man.
RUSS
(to JIM) No no, I was listening.
BEV
Oh, isn’t it just a jumble in here, all of this?
JIM
S’what I was saying to Russ, said somebody cleaned ya out!
RUSS
Not coming here, is he?
BEV
Oh, I don’t know. You know Karl.
JIM
Karl Lindner?
RUSS
Bev?
JIM
Ohmigosh. Ya got a look at Betsy lately?
BEV
(eyes wide) Oh, I know.
JIM
Give that girl a wide berth.
BEV
Jim, can I get you some iced tea?
RUSS
(to BEV) Maybe call back and ask him to come later.
BEV
It was a pay phone. (to JIM) Oh oh oh oh oh! I know! Now wait. Now Jim: I
am going to ask you a question:
JIM
Huh-oh!
BEV
(to RUSS). And don’t help him. (to JIM) Now: I want you to tell Russ what you
think the word Neapolitan means.
RUSS
(to JIM) She thought –
BEV
Shhhhhhh!!! You’re not allowed to say.
JIM
Well, that’d be your basic vanilla, strawb-
BEV
No no. The derivation.
13
RUSS
I told her what I th-
BEV
(to RUSS) Shhhhh!!!
JIM
Uh, think it’s Naples, isn’t it?
BEV
Ohhhhh phooey.
JIM
Or Napoli, as we like to say.
(FRANCINE enters)
BEV
You two are cheating. And then- well, Russ’s in a funny mood… he keeps going
(trying to do what RUSS did) Oo-lan Ba-tor!
JIM
Whatzat, capital of Nepal?
RUSS
Mongolia.
JIM
Mongolia. So then what’s the Nepalese – Do ya say Nepalese?
BEV
(chuckles, slaps RUSS’s arm) I hope it’s not Ne-politan!
RUSS
Kathmandu.
BEV
Oh, well, I don’t even know why you two know these things.
FRANCINE
Miz Stoller?
JIM
Knowledge is power, Bev.
BEV
Then I choose to remain powerless. (to RUSS) Do it again.
RUSS
Do what?
BEV
How you said it.
RUSS
No.
BEV
Do it, Russ.
RUSS
No.
BEV
Do it for Jim.
RUSS
Bev?
BEV
Why not?
RUSS
Sorry, Jim.
BEV
Why for me but not for him?
RUSS
Well, for one thing, ‘cause it’s not funny.
14
FRANCINE
Excuse me, I’m fixing to go, so if you need something else?
BEV
Oh. Yes. One thing. Francine, you remember that big trunk that’s upstairs?
RUSS
No no no no. Bev?
BEV
She doesn’t mind.
RUSS
Just told you I’m doing it.
BEV
You said it’s a two person job, and here’s two of you right here.
RUSS
Well, what’s the emergency?
JIM
(to BEV) I would offer my services – (cont’d.)
BEV
(overlapping) Oh no no no no no.
JIM
(continuous) – but I am under doctor’s orders, believe it or not.
FRANCINE
Well, I’m just needing to leave by three-thirty.
BEV
(resigned) All right.
RUSS
Francine? I am going to move the gol-darned trunk.
FRANCINE
Yes, sir.
BEV
(to JIM, mock-private) That’s what I get for trying.
(FRANCINE exits. Discomfort.)
JIM
(to RUSS) Soooo –
BEV
Did you get any lunch, Jim? Do you want some – ?
JIM
No no no no no.
BEV
Since I guess we’re cleaning out the larder and Russ seems to be eating every
last thing in the icebox, so you’ll have to fight him for the ice cream.
JIM
Not for me.
RUSS
Well, ya know. (shrugs) Can’t pack ice cream in a suitcase.
(BEV finds this hilarious)
BEV
(beside herself) In a suitc- (to JIM) Did you hear what he just said?
JIM
(chuckling as well) Man’s got a point!
BEV
(slaps RUSS’s shoulder) How do you think of those things? Ice cream in a-
15
JIM
Not unless you’re moving to the North Pole!
(BEV laughs harder)
BEV
Thank goodness we’re not moving South!
JIM
That’d be a mess. No question.
(BEV and JIM stop laughing, sigh. More
discomfort, then:)
JIM
No question.
BEV
(jumping up) Well, I’m going to see what we do have.
(BEV exits into the kitchen, leaving
RUSS and JIM alone.)
JIM
Whaddya, coming down with something?
RUSS
Who?
JIM
Bev said “under the weather”.
RUSS
Me?
JIM
And here ya sit in your PJ’s –
RUSS
No no no no no. I’m – Took the day to – Truck coming, so –
JIM
I gotcha.
RUSS
Coupla days off.
JIM
Playing hooky.
RUSS
No no.
JIM
Bev’s your alibi.
RUSS
Just giving her a hand with stuff.
JIM
And you are hard at work, as I see.
RUSS
(smiles a little) No. I just.
JIM
Kidding you.
RUSS
I know. I – I – Yup.
JIM
Woulda come to your aid there, only I’m dealing with a little, uh, issue.
RUSS
Oh yeah?
16
JIM
Piano I told ya about?
RUSS
Right?
JIM
Didja ever….(lowers voice)… ever need a truss?
RUSS
Uhhhh…. Don’t recall.
JIM
Oh, you’d recall it if you did.
RUSS
Guess not, then.
JIM
Then you are a fortunate man.
RUSS
I hear you.
JIM
Bend the knees or suffer the consequences.
RUSS
Yup.
Have to wear one of those?
(Brief pause.)
JIM
So, Monday, you said.
RUSS
Yup.
JIM
Off to the hinterlands.
RUSS
Monday it is.
BEV
(calling from off) Jim, was that a yes or a no on the iced tea?
JIM
(calling back to her) Uhhh, I would not say no to that.
BEV
(same) Russ?
(RUSS shakes his head.)
JIM
(same) I believe Russ is declining your gracious offer.
BEV
(same) I thought as much.
(Pause.)
JIM
Monday.
RUSS
Indeed.
JIM
Head ‘em up. Move em out.
RUSS
Yup.
JIM
And when ya start that Glen Meadows office?
17
RUSS
Monday after.
JIM
How about that.
RUSS
Yup.
JIM
And how’s that shaping up?
RUSS
Oh, boy, now. That’s a nice setup.
JIM
I betcha.
RUSS
And spacious, that’s the thing. And carpeted? And I got a look at that office
they’re putting me in. Tell you what I thought to myself, I thought what the heck
do ya do with all this space? Corner office. Windows two sides. But the space
is the primary – That is just an… extravagant amount of space.
JIM
Elbow room.
RUSS
Other thing is, once we get situated up in the new place. The time it takes?
Driveway to the parking lot? Know what that’s gonna take me?
JIM
Five minutes.
RUSS
Six and a half.
JIM
Close enough.
RUSS
Timed it. Door to door.
JIM
Roll outa bed and boom.
RUSS
And Tom Perricone. I don’t know if you know Tom. Colleague of mine. Now,
he’s going to relocate to that same office and they live right down here offa
Larabee. You know what that’s gonna take him on the expressway?
JIM
That’s a drive.
RUSS
Thirty-five minutes. And that’s no traffic.
JIM
Well, Judy and I are sure gonna miss having you two around.
RUSS
Well… Yeah.
(Awkward pause.)
JIM
(lowers voice, secretively) And how’s Bev doing?
RUSS
Oh, you know. Bev loves a project.
JIM
Keep her occupied.
RUSS
The mind occupied.
18
JIM
What, does she worry a lot?
RUSS
No. No more than –
JIM
About you?
RUSS
Me? No.
JIM
Ya seem good to me.
RUSS
I meant – you know how she gets.
JIM
Sure.
RUSS
Overexcited.
JIM
I can see that.
RUSS
Worked up over things. Minor things.
JIM
Things like?
RUSS
Oh, you know.
JIM
Not calling yourself a minor thing, are you?
RUSS
(beat, slightly irritated) No, I didn’t – I meant things like –
JIM
(chuckles) Do you consider yourself a minor thing?
RUSS
Jim, I didn’t – Well, actually, in the grand scheme of things I don’t think any one
of us is, uh… particularly – did Bev ask you to come over?
JIM
Nope.
RUSS
I mean, good to see you. Great to see you.
JIM
I mean, we ran into each other coupla days ago. Got to talking.
RUSS
Uh-huh.
JIM
Little about you. Since she cares about you.
RUSS
Right. Right.
(RUSS looks for BEV.)
RUSS
‘The heck’s she’s doing in there?
JIM
Everybody cares about you, Russ.
RUSS
Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yup. Well. Tell ya what I think. And I’m not a psychiatrist or
anything but I do think a lotta people today have this tendency, tendency to
brood about stuff, which, if you ask me, is, is, is – well, short answer, it’s not
19
productive. And what I’d say to these people, were I to have a degree in
psychiatry, I think my advice would be maybe, get up offa your rear end and do
something.
JIM
Huh.
RUSS
Be my solution.
JIM
Uh-huh.
RUSS
Of course, what do I know?
JIM
I think you know plenty.
(Pause. RUSS looks toward kitchen.)
RUSS
(calling) Hey, Bev?
JIM
Like, I think you know your son was a good man, no matter what. Hero to his
country. Nothing changes that.
RUSS
Yup yup yup.
JIM
And I also think you know that sometimes talking about things that happen,
painful things, maybe –
RUSS
Uh, you don’t happen to have a degree in psychiatry either, do you, Jim?
(JIM stares.)
RUSS
No? Just checking.
JIM
We all suffer, you know. Not like you and Bev, maybe, but –
RUSS
But, see, since what I’m doing here is, see, since I’m just minding my own
business – (cont’d.)
JIM
(overlapping) But it doesn’t hurt –
RUSS
(continuous) – sorta seems to me you might save yourself the effort worrying
about things you don’t need to concern yourself with and furthermore – (cont’d.)
JIM
(overlapping) He’s in a better place, Russ.
RUSS
(cont’d.) – if you do you keep going on about those things, Jim, well, I hate to
have to put it this way, but what I think I might have to do is… uh, politely ask
you to uh, (clears his throat) … well, to go fuck yourself.
(Pause.)
JIM
Not sure there’s a polite way to ask that.
(RUSS rises to exit.)
20
RUSS
(embarrassed) Okay? So.
JIM
I just can’t believe Kenneth would’ve wanted his own father to –
RUSS
(maintaining calm) Yup. Yup. So, you can go fuck yourself okay?
(BEV enters with JIM’s iced tea.)
BEV
So wait. So if it’s Napoli in Italian, then wouldn’t adding an “E” before the “A”
just seem superfluo- What’s happening?
JIM
Bev, I believe I will hit the road.
BEV
What are you -? Russ?
RUSS
Going upstairs.
BEV
What happened?
JIM
Not to worry.
BEV
(to RUSS) What did you do?
JIM
Another time.
BEV
(to RUSS) Come back here.
JIM
(overlapping, to BEV) No no. Russ made his feelings clear in…(cont’d.)
BEV
(overlapping, quietly to RUSS) Why are you being like this?
JIM
(continuous)….no uncertain terms.
RUSS
(to BEV) Going up, now.
JIM
Terms maybe more appropriate for the locker room than the –
BEV
(to JIM) I told you so. I told you what it’s like. And he uses these ugly words in
other people’s presence (to RUSS) and I’m not some kind of matron, but what in
the world is wrong with civility?
RUSS
Honey? I am not going to stand here with you and Jim and discuss… (cont’d.)
BEV
(overlapping) Well, you’re being ugly, and I don’t like ugliness.
RUSS
(continuous) …private matters, matters that are between me and the memory of
my son –
BEV
(to JIM, overlapping) I think his mind has been affected, I really do.
RUSS
(continuous, overlapping) – and if the two of you want to talk about Kenneth on
your own time, if that gives you some kind you comfort –
BEV
And what’s wrong with comfort? Are we not allowed any comfort anymore?
21
RUSS
Well, Kenneth didn’t get a whole lotta comfort, did he?
BEV
He was sick, Russ! And for you to use nasty words to Jim –
JIM
Nothing I haven’t heard before.
RUSS
(moving upstairs) Changing my shirt.
JIM
I was in the service, too, you know.
RUSS
(bitter laugh) Oh right. And tell me again. How many people did you kill?
BEV
Oh, for god’s sake, stop it!!
RUSS
Sat behind a desk, didn’tcha? Goddamn coward.
(The doorbell rings. All stand in silence.
BEV covers her mouth. At the front
door, we can see ALBERT peer through
a small window.)
ALBERT
(from off) Hello?
(And still no one moves.)
ALBERT
Anybody home?
(JIM moves to open the door.)
JIM
Afternoon.
ALBERT
(to JIM) Uh, how d’you do? I’m just here to –
BEV
Francine? Albert’s here.
FRANCINE
(calling, from off) Yes ma’am. I’m coming.
BEV
She’s on her way.
ALBERT
Thank you, ma’am.
(JIM does not know whether to invite
ALBERT in or not. He turns to BEV.
RUSS turns and exits up the stairs.
BEV turns back to ALBERT)
BEV
Albert, would you like to wait inside?
ALBERT
Uh. All right, thank you, ma’am.
BEV
I bet it’s warm out there, isn’t it?
22
ALBERT
Ohhh, yes it is.
BEV
Can I offer you some iced tea?
ALBERT
No. Thank you, though.
BEV
Well, I’m sure she’ll be right along.
JIM
Thank you.
(ALBERT sits near the door, but within
earshot of JIM and BEV)
JIM
(whispering because of ALBERT) I think maybe it’s time for me –
BEV
(rapidly, whispering) Oh please don’t go, please don’t, I just don’t want to be
alone with him right now. It makes me feel so alone – (cont’d.)
JIM
(overlapping) You’re not alone.
BEV
(continuous) – the way he sits up all night long. Last night he was just sitting
there at three in the morning – (cont’d.)
JIM
(overlapping) I know. I do.
BEV
(continuous) – and I say to him say don’t you feel sleepy? Do you want to take a
Sominex, or play some cards maybe, and he says I don’t see the point of it as if
there has to be some grand justification for every single thing that a person (And now she notices ALBERT rising
and heading for the door.)
BEV
(to ALBERT) – Wait. Yoo-hoo?
ALBERT
(having overheard) S’all right.
BEV
Something wrong?
ALBERT
No no.
BEV
She said she’s on her way.
ALBERT
I can wait outside.
BEV
(calling off) Francine?
FRANCINE
(from off) I’m coming.
BEV
There she is.
(FRANCINE enters in street clothes,
with a two large bags of hand-medowns, She stops to put on her
earrings.)
23
FRANCINE
I’m sorry. I guess I’m moving a little slower than usual.
BEV
And here’s Albert waiting so patiently, If only I had door-to-door service like
Francine!
FRANCINE
So, I’ll see you Monday, then.
BEV
Albert, isn’t this place just a catastrophe?
ALBERT
Oh, yes it is.
BEV
(to ALBERT) I tell you, I don’t know what I would do without a friend like
Francine here, and on a Saturday, I mean she is just a treasure. What on earth
are we going to do up there without her?
ALBERT
Well, I trust ya’ll can sort things out.
BEV
(to FRANCINE) Oh, and maybe Monday we can see about that big trunk, why
don’t we?
FRANCINE
We’ll make sure and do that.
BEV
I’d do it myself but I’m not a big strapping man like Albert here.
JIM
Afraid I’ve gotta exempt myself –
BEV
Oh no no no no no. Francine and I can manage.
ALBERT
What’s it, a trunk, you said?
FRANCINE
(with a shake of the head to dissuade ALBERT) A footlocker.
ALBERT
Where’s it at?
BEV
No no no no no we just need to bring it down the stairs.
ALBERT
I don’t mind.
BEV
Oh, thank you, but no.
FRANCINE
(to BEV) But definitely Monday.
ALBERT
These stairs, here?
BEV
Oh no no no – I mean, it wouldn’t take but two minutes.
FRANCINE
(to BEV, re: her bags) It’s just I got these things here to take care of.
ALBERT
I can put them in the car.
JIM
Oh, got yourself a car?
ALBERT
Yes sir.
24
JIM
(looking out) Whatzat, a Pontiac?
ALBERT
Yes, sir.
FRANCINE
(significantly, to ALBERT) It’s just that I’m afraid we’re going to be late.
ALBERT
(not getting it) Late for what?
FRANCINE
The place we gotta be?
ALBERT
The place?
FRANCINE
Remember?
ALBERT
(to FRANCINE) The – What’re you -?
FRANCINE
(to BEV) I’m sorry.
ALBERT
(to FRANCINE) Said two minutes is all.
FRANCINE
(quiet, pointedly) Well, I’ve got my hands full.
ALBERT
I just said I can put them in the –
FRANCINE
(testily, as they start to go) I can put them in the car. I can do that.
BEV
Did you get the chafing dish?
FRANCINE
No ma’am, thank you, though.
ALBERT
(to BEV and JIM) Be right back.
(ALBERT opens the door to reveal
KARL LINDNER, about to ring the bell)
KARL
(an oddly formal and uncomfortable-seeming man) Ah. Unexpected. Uhhh…?
BEV
Hello, Karl.
KARL
(relieved) Ah, Bev. Voila.
ALBERT
(to KARL, squeezing past) Excuse us, if you don’t mind?
KARL
(to ALBERT, formally) Not at all. After you, sir.
(KARL makes way for ALBERT and
FRANCINE to pass.)
ALBERT
(to FRANCINE, as they exit, barely audible) What is the matter with you?
KARL
(from the door, seeing him). Ah. Jim, too. Hello, lad.
JIM
Karl.
25
BEV
(unenthusiastically) Come on in, Karl.
KARL
Uhhh…. (as if working out a puzzle) Yes. Could do that. However, You’ll recall,
Bev, that Betsy currently happens to be, uh, how shall we say – ?
BEV
Ohhh, is it almost that time?
KARL
Uh, point being, that she did accompany me.
BEV
What do you – you mean she’s in the car?
KARL
She is.
BEV
Well, for heaven’s sake, Karl! Don’t leave her out in a hot car.
KARL
Well, that was my thinking.
BEV
Bring her in with you.
KARL
Will do.
BEV
Of all things.
KARL
(as he goes) Back in a flash.
(As KARL exits again, RUSS descends
the stairs in a clean shirt and shoes.
BEV and JIM allow him to silently pass
by them. He walks to the chair and
collects the ice cream carton.)
BEV
You changed your shirt.
(RUSS continues into the kitchen
without responding. A moment, then:)
JIM
(quietly) Bev.
BEV
(whispering) I know I’m being silly. I know I am, but – (cont’d.)
JIM
(overlapping) Not at all. Not in the least.
BEV
(continuous whisper) – it’s just that after two and a half years you’d think that
with time, because that’s supposed to be the thing that helps, isn’t it? A little bit
of time – (cont’d.)
JIM
(overlapping) A great healer.
BEV
(continuous whisper) – and I thought with the new job and the move I thought
somehow he would start to let go of (RUSS returns from the kitchen. BEV
goes silent. He goes to a door beneath
26
the stairs, opens it, pulls a string to turn
on a light, and exits.)
BEV
(calling after him) Where are you going, the basement?
RUSS
(from off) Yup.
BEV
Are you looking for something?
RUSS
(farther) Yup.
(The front door opens. KARL escorts his
wife BETSY, who is eight months
pregnant, and who also happens to be
totally deaf.)
KARL
Here we are, then.
BEV
Oh, there she is!
BETSY
Hehhyoooh, Behhhh. (tr. Hello, Bev.)
BEV
(over-enunciating for BETSY’s benefit) Well just look at you! My goodness. You
are just the biggest thing.
BETSY
Ah nohhh! Eee toooor. Ah so beee!!! (I know! It’s true. I’m so big)
KARL
Took the liberty of not ringing the bell.
BEV
Betsy, you know Jim.
JIM
Indeed she does.
BETSY
Hah Jeee. (Hi Jim)
(JIM shows off his sign language skills
to BETSY, finger-spelling the last word.)
BEV
Oh, well, now look at that.
translate!
BETSY
(laughing to KARL) Huhuhuuh!! Kaaaaa!!
JIM
(chuckling along) Uh-oh! What did I do? Did I mis-spell?
Look at them go. What is that about? Somebody
(BETSY signs to KARL.)
KARL
(chuckles) Uh, it seems, Jim, that you, uh, told Betsy that she was expecting a
storm!!
BEV
No! He meant stork! You meant stork, didn’t you?
BETSY
(pantomimes umbrella) Ahneemah-umbrayah! (I need my umbrella!)
27
(All laugh)
BEV
Her umbrella! (to BETSY) I understood that!
KARL
Have to check the weather report!
BEV
A storm, I’m going to tell that to Russ.
JIM
(conceding his mistake) Must have rusty fingers!!
(All chuckle.)
BETSY
(to KARL, asking for translation) Kaaaah?
KARL
(speaks as he signs) Uh, Jim says his fingers are rusty.
(BETSY laughs and covers her mouth)
BEV
See? She understands.
BETSY
(to JIM, imitating washing hands) Jeee, mehbbe yew neeee sooohh!! (Jim,
maybe you need soap!)
(More polite laughing.)
BEV
(explaining to JIM) Soap. For the
rust on your –
JIM
(to BEV) No, I understood.
(RUSS emerges from the basement,
carrying a large shovel.)
KARL
And there’s the man himself! Thought he’d absconded!
BEV
(to RUSS) The Lindners are here.
BETSY
Hehhyoooo, Ruuuuhhh. (Hello, Russ.)
RUSS
Betsy. (to BEV) Ya seen my gloves anywhere?
KARL
(re: the shovel) Tunneling to China, are we?
RUSS
(to BEV) Pair of work gloves?
BEV
(to KARL) Do you know I just got through saying how Russ and I never entertain
and here it is a regular neighborhood social!
KARL
Well, we shan’t be long.
BEV
Karl, do you suppose Betsy would like a glass of iced tea?
KARL
(she does not see him) Bets- ? (to BEV) Point to me.
BEV
(to BETSY, over-enunciated) Betsy, look at Karl.
28
(BETSY looks at KARL)
KARL
(to BETSY, signing simultaneously) Bev wants to know if you want some iced tea
to drink?
BETSY
Ohhh, yehhhpeee. Dahhnyoo, Behhh. (yes please, thank you, Bev)
RUSS
(to BEV) Know the gloves I’m talking about?
BEV
Well, Karl’s here. I thought you were going to talk to Karl.
(FRANCINE and ALBERT have entered
and started up the stairs).
RUSS
(seeing ALBERT and FRANCINE) ‘The heck’s going on?
BEV
Nothing. Now, we two girls are going to the refreshment stand, so you boys’ll
have to manage on your own.
KARL
Have no fear.
BEV
(while exiting, as before) So how are you feeling, Betsy? Are you tired?
BETSY
Noooo, ahhhh fiiieee, Behhhh, reeeee.
(No, I’m fine, Bev, really)
(BETSY and BEV exit to the kitchen)
KARL
Now, Russ, Bev tells me you’re indisposed, and normally I’d – (realizes) Ah. Not
contagious, is it?
RUSS
Is what?
KARL
Hate for Betsy to, uh, come into contact with any –
RUSS
Not contagious.
KARL
Can’t be too careful. Or possibly one can. Anyway, hate to commandeer your
Saturday afternoon here, a man’s home, as they say, but, as we haven’t seen
your face at Rotary of late I thought I might – (cont’d.)
RUSS
(overlapping) What’s on your mind, Karl?
KARL
(continuous) – intrude upon the sanctity of – what’d you say?
RUSS
What’s on your mind?
KARL
Ah. Well. Firstly – May I sit?
RUSS
Yeah, yeah.
JIM
Karl, I will be taking my leave.
KARL
Not on my account?
29
JIM
Parish business.
KARL
Uh, well, truth to tell, Jim, we might actually benefit from your insight, here?
JIM
(looks at watch) Uhhhhh –
KARL
If it’s not pressing?
JIM
Actually-
KARL
Not to usurp your authority, Russ. Your castle. You are the king.
RUSS
What’s on your mind?
KARL
(as he sits on a box) Is this safe?
RUSS
Anywhere.
KARL
No breakables? And Jim?
JIM
(sits, looking at RUSS) Uhh… minute or two.
KARL
Good. Good good good. So.
(BEV opens the kitchen door)
BEV
Iced tea for you, Karl?
KARL
Ah. Problem being that I do have some sensitivity to the cold beverages, so my
question would be is the tea chilled, by which I mean has it been in the
Frigidaire?
BEV
(enduring him) No, Karl.
KARL
Then, if I might have a serving minus the ice? That would suit me fine.
BEV
All right, Karl.
.
(BEV closes the door)
KARL
Anyway Russ, if you don’t mind, I will proceed directly to, dare I say, the crux.
So. First and foremost, as far as matters of community are concerned, I’ve
always maintained –
(BEV and BETSY enter from the kitchen
with glasses of iced tea.)
BEV
All right, you boys.
KARL
(panicky about BETSY) What’s -? Is something -?
BEV
(handing KARL his tea) She’s fine, Karl.
30
KARL
Is that tea, she’s drinking?
BEV
Yes, Karl.
KARL
Slow sips. Small sips.
BEV
All right, Karl.
(BETSY and BEV sit at the dining table,
away from the men. They begin to
communicate via pad and pencil.)
RUSS
You were saying?
KARL
(glasses off, mops brow) Tad overwrought, I suppose. (lowers voice) What with
Betsy’s condition, but…well, given our history of two years ago, I don’t know,
Russ, if you knew the details of that.
RUSS
Some, yup.
KARL
And Jim: Source of great comfort for us during all of that. (beat, then to RUSS)
It was the umbilical cord. Nature of the problem.
RUSS
I knew that.
KARL
Wrapped around the… (indicates his neck) Exactly. So, no one at fault. No one
to blame. But these tragedies do come along. As you and Bev well know.
JIM
What’re you hoping? Boy or girl?
KARL
Ah, no. Touch wood. No tempting fate.
JIM
There you go.
KARL
(back to RUSS) Not to compare our little… setback… to what the two of you
endured, but –
RUSS
Something about a crux?
KARL
Right you are. Well: To backtrack. I take it, Russ, you’re aware that the
Community Association, meets the first Tuesday of each month? And as I’m
sure you know, Don Skinner is part of the steering committee. And somehow it
came to Don’s attention at this late juncture that Ted Driscoll had found a buyer
for this house and I have to say it did come as something of a shock when Don
told us what sort of people they were.
RUSS
What sort of people are they?
(Beat. KARL stares at RUSS)
KARL
Well. (chuckles) Uhh…. Huh. I suppose I’m forced to consider the possibility
that you actually don’t know.
RUSS
Don’t know what?
31
KARL
Well, I mean. That they’re colored.
RUSS
Who are?
KARL
The family. It’s a colored family.
(Pause.)
KARL
So: I contacted the family-
JIM
Wait wait wait.
KARL
(to RUSS) You’re saying Ted never bothered to tell you?
RUSS
We, uhh… sort of gave Ted free rein on the –
JIM
I don’t think you’re right on this one, Karl.
KARL
Oh, but I am. Oh, I’ve spoken with the family.
RUSS
Bev?
JIM
On the telephone?
KARL
Oh, no. As a matter of fact, Betsy and I’ve just come directly from… (beat, for
effect) well, from Hamilton Park.
BEV
(to RUSS) What is it?
RUSS
C’mere a second.
KARL
Now, Russ: You know as well as I do that this is a progressive community.
BEV
(to RUSS as she joins them) What’s he talking about?
KARL
If you take the case of Gelman’s grocery: That’s a fine example of how we’ve all
embraced a different way of thinking –
RUSS
Slow down a second. Bev, get Ted Driscoll on the phone.
BEV
(to RUSS) What for?
RUSS
Karl says. Karl is claiming –
KARL
Russ, I have met personally with the family, and –
BEV
What family?
RUSS
He claims this family. The family to whom Ted sold the house.
KARL
It’s a colored family.
(Pause. JIM shakes his head.)
32
JIM
(to KARL) Sorry, don’t we say Negro, now?
KARL
(irritated) I say Negro… (cont’d.)
JIM
(overlapping) Well, it’s only common courtesy, and I’m…
KARL
(continuous) … I say them interchangeably…(cont’d.)
JIM
(overlapping) …not trying to tell you how to conduct your business.
KARL
(continuous) …and of course I said Negro to them – No I think we both know
what you’re doing.
JIM
And furthermore, I don’t think Ted would pull a stunt like that.
KARL
Yes. We all admire Ted. But I don’t think any of us would accuse him of putting
the community’s interests ahead of his own.
BEV
Oh, this is ridiculous.
KARL
And I don’t think any of us have forgotten what happened with the family that
moved onto Kostner Avenue last year. Now, Kostner Avenue is one thing, but
Clybourne Street –
BEV
Waitwaitwait. Karl, are you sure?
KARL
I was sitting with them not two hours ago.
BEV
But isn’t it possible that they’re…I don’t know, Mediterranean, or-?
KARL
Bev, they are one hundred percent. And I don’t know how much time any of
you have spent in Hamilton Park, but Betsy was waiting in the car and I can tell
you, there are some unsavory characters.
RUSS
Karl?
KARL
But, in the case of Gelman’s: I think there was some mistrust at first, having
been Kopeckne’s Market for such a long time, but in the end of all Murray
Gelman found a way to fit in.
BEV
And they hired the Wheeler boy.
JIM
Is he the one with the – ? (indicates his head)
BEV
He’s the – you know. (does the same)
KARL
And fitting into a community is really what it all comes down to.
(A very loud THUMP from upstairs)
RUSS
The heck is going on up there?
33
KARL
Now, some would say change is inevitable. And I can support that, if it’s
change for the better. But I’ll tell you what I can’t support, and that’s
disregarding the needs of the people who live in a community.
BEV
But don’t they have needs, too?
KARL
Don’t who?
BEV
The family.
KARL
Which family?
BEV
The ones who –
KARL
The purchasers?
BEV
I mean, in, in, in, in principle, don’t we all deserve to – shouldn’t we all have the
opportunity to, to, to –
KARL
(chuckles with amazement, shakes his head) Well, Bev.
JIM
In principle, no question.
KARL
But you can’t live in a principle, can you? Gotta live in a house.
BEV
And so do they.
KARL
Not in this house, they don’t.
JIM
But here’s the real question:
KARL
And what happened to love thy neighbor? If we’re being so principled.
BEV
They would become our neighbors.
KARL
And what about the neighbors you already have Bev?
BEV
I care about them, too!
KARL
Well, I’m afraid you can’t have it both ways.
RUSS
Okay. Assuming-
BEV
Wait. Why not?
KARL
Well, do the boundaries of the neighborhood extend indefinitely?
invite next, the Red Chinese?
Who shall we
(ALBERT has tentatively come to the
bottom of the stairs, jacket off.
JIM
But the key question is this:
BEV
No. Why not have it both ways?
34
KARL
Darling, I came to talk to Russ.
ALBERT
(having come down the stairs) ‘Scuse me, ma’am?
BEV
Why not, if it would benefit someone?
JIM
But would they benefit?
BEV
If we could make them our neighbors.
KARL
But they won’t be your neighbors, Bev. You’re the ones moving away!
JIM
The question is, and it’s one worth asking:
ALBERT
Sorry to bother you?
RUSS
(taking charge) Okay. Let’s assume your information is correct.
(Then suddenly, a large green Army
footlocker comes sliding down the
stairs with a noisy thumpeta-thumpetathumpeta-thump. ALBERT jumps out of
the way.)
ALBERT
Sorry, sir, my fault!
That was me. That
was all my doing.
FRANCINE
(top of the stairs) That
was my fault! I’m sorry!
BEV
Oh oh oh. What
happened? Is everyone all right?
RUSS
Aw, for crying
out loud! What
the heck is the
matter with people? Bev, darn
it all!!
BEV
(to RUSS) Why are you shouting? Everything’s fine, so – (cont’d.)
RUSS
(overlapping) Well, what did I tell you? (cont’d.)
BEV
(continuous) – please don’t do that, they’re just trying to help
RUSS
(continuous) I told you I’d do it. You heard me plain as day.
BETSY
Eeeen ahhhh hurrrrhhh daaaaaa! (Even I heard that!)
KARL
(to RUSS and BEV) Little mishap, is it?
ALBERT
Little trouble making the corner, is all.
FRANCINE
(now downstairs) I’m sorry. It’s heavy and I lost my gr-
RUSS
(to ALBERT) Just leave the darn thing where it is.
BEV
KARL
JIM
ALBERT
35
We can’t leave it there.
May one be of asistance?
Lend you a hand, if
I could, but –
RUSS
(to ALBERT) Just, just, just, just leave it.
BEV
But it’s blocking the way.
FRANCINE
No ma’am, I can step over
ALBERT
It’s all right. I got her.
What should we -?
would you prefer it
if I -?
(ALBERT helps FRANCINE climb over
the box that now blocks the stairs.)
KARL
Anyway, let’s not drag this out ad infinitum.
(RUSS, fed up, rises and exits to the
basement, slamming the door behind
him.)
BEV
(overlapping) Russ, don’t.
JIM
(to KARL) One second, if I might? (to FRANCINE) Sorry. Uh, Francine, is it?
FRANCINE
Yes sir?
JIM
Francine, we’ve just been having a little conversation here, and I was wondering
if maybe we could spare us a couple of minutes of your time?
KARL
What good does that do? Go next door. Talk to the Olsens. Talk to those who
stand to lose.
JIM
(ingoring him, to FRANCINE) I want to pose a little hypothetical to you. What if
we said this: Let’s imagine you and your husband here, let’s say that the two of
you had the opportunity to move from your current home into a different
neighborhood, and let’s say that neighborhood happened to be this one.
FRANCINE
Well, I don’t think that we would, financially –
JIM
But for the sake of argument. Say you had the wherewithal. Would this be the
sort of neighborhood you’d find an attractive place in which to live?
(FRANCINE hesitates)
BEV
Oh, this is so sil-
FRANCINE
It’s a very nice neighborhood.
JIM
(to FRANCINE) No, I’m asking, would the two of you – Would your fam- I
assume you have children?
FRANCINE
Three children.
36
JIM
Oh, super. So, with your children, might this be the sort of place, bearing in
mind that they, too, would stand to be affected- ?
BEV
This is confusing things! It’s confusing the issue!
FRANCINE
(to JIM) It’s a very lovely neighborh-
JIM
No, be honest. We want you to say.
BEV
(to FRANCINE) I think what Jim is asking, in his way –
ALBERT
He means living next to white folks.
BEV
I – I – I – I – well, yes.
(Pause.)
FRANCINE
Well –
BEV
Francine and I have, over the years, the two of us have shared so many
wonderful – (to FRANCINE) – Remember that time the squirrel came through the
window?
FRANCINE
(smiling, indulging BEV) Yes I do.
BEV
That was just the silliest – the two of us were just hysterical weren’t we?
KARL
(pressing ahead, to FRANCINE) Think of it this way.
BEV
(to the others) We still laugh about that.
KARL
I think that you’d agree, I’m assuming, that in the world, there exist certain
differences. Agreed?
FRANCINE
What sort of differences?
KARL
That people live differently.
FRANCINE
(unsure) …Yes?
KARL
From one another.
FRANCINE
I agree with that.
KARL
Different customs, different… well, different foods, even. And those diff- here’s
a funny – my wife Betsy, now, Betsy’s family happens to be Scandinavian, and
on holidays they eat a thing known as lutefisk. And this is a dish, which I can tell
you… (he chuckles) …is not to my liking at all. It’s… oh my goodness, let’s just
say it’s gelatinous.
BEV
(indicating for him to stop) Karl?
BETSY
(to BEV) Whaaaaa sehhhhh? (what did he say?)
37
BEV
(over-pronouncing for BETSY) Lutefisk.
BETSY
Whaaaaaa ?
BEV
Lutefi- Karl, can you tell her?
KARL
(holds up a finger to BETSY) In a moment.
BEV
(taking up her pad) I’ll write it down.
KARL
(to FRANCINE) So, certain groups, they tend to eat certain things, am I right?
FRANCINE
I’ve never had that dish.
KARL
But, for example, if Mrs. Stoller here were to send you to shop at Gelman’s. Do
you find, when you’re standing in the aisles at Gelman’s, does it generally strike
you as the kind of market where you could find the particular foods your family
enjoys?
FRANCINE
It’s a very nice store.
JIM
(interposing) What if we were to say this:
FRANCINE
Mr. Gelman’s a nice man.
(BEV hands BETSY the pad of paper)
KARL
But, I mean, your preferred food items, would such things even be available at
Gelman’s?
ALBERT
Do they carry collards and pig feet?
(FRANCINE shoots a look at ALBERT)
ALBERT
‘Cuz I sho couldn’t shop nowhere didn’ sell no pig feet.
(Pause. All stare at ALBERT.)
JIM
Well, I think Albert’s being humorous here, but-
BETSY
(having deciphered BEV’s handwriting) Ohhhh, loo-feee! (Lutefisk). (to BEV) Ah
lye loofee! (I like Lutefisk.)
JIM
But I will say this –
FRANCINE
(to KARL) I like spaghetti and meatballs.
(KARL quiets BETSY.)
JIM
– You do find differences in modes of worship. If you take First Presbyterian.
Now, that’s a church down in Hamilton Park and I’ve taken fellowship there and
I can tell you, the differences are notable.
38
BEV
Jim?
JIM
Not a value judgment. Apples and oranges. Just as how we have our organ
here at Saint Thomas, for accompaniment, whereas at First Presbyterian, they
prefer a piano and, occasionally… (chuckles)…well, tambourines.
BEV
What’s wrong with tambourines?
JIM
Nothing wrong.
BEV
I like tambourines.
JIM
I like tambourines as much as the next person.
(RUSS returns from the basement
carrying his work gloves. He is calmer.)
KARL
Well, let me ask this. (to BEV) Excuse me. (to FRANCINE) Francine, was it?
FRANCINE
Yessir.
KARL
Francine, may I ask? Do you ski?
FRANCINE
Do I – ?
KARL
Or your husband? Either of you?
FRANCINE
Ski?
KARL
Downhill skiing?
FRANCINE
We don’t ski, no.
KARL
And this is my point. The children who attend St. Stanislaus. Once a year we
take the middle schoolers up to Indianhead Mountain, and I can tell you, in all
the time I’ve been there, I have not once seen a colored family on those slopes.
Now, what accounts for that? Certainly not any deficit in ability, so what I have
to conclude is that, for some reason, there is just something about the pastime
of skiing that doesn’t appeal to the Negro community. And feel free to prove me
wrong.
RUSS
Karl.
KARL
But you’ll have to show me where to find the skiing Negroes!
RUSS
Karl!
BEV
Can we all modulate our voices?
RUSS
It’s sold, Karl. The house is sold.
KARL
I understand that.
RUSS
The ink is dry.
39
KARL
And we all understand your reasons and no one holds that against you.
RUSS
Truck’s coming on Monday.
KARL
Fully aware.
RUSS
And that’s all there is to that.
KARL
However. (beat) There is one possibility.
RUSS
Nope. Nope.
KARL
If you’ll hear me out.
RUSS
Don’t see the point.
KARL
Because we went ahead and made a counter-offer to these people.
BEV
Who did?
KARL
The Community Association.
BEV
An offer on this house?
KARL
Very reasonable offer.
BEV
(baffled) But, but, but, they just bought it, Karl!
KARL
As opposed to the amount for which you offered the property, Russ, which was
far below the assessor’s value – (cont’d.)
RUSS
(overlapping) Well, we’re entitled to give it away if that’s our prerogative.
KARL
(continuous) – for this type of residence, all of which is neither here nor there,
since the family rejected our offer. However:
BEV
(to RUSS) Why are we even talking about this?
KARL
Don has pointed out to me, that, as the seller of the property, you do have a
sixty-day option to place it in receivership with the transacting bank to indemnify
yourself against liability. Now, that’s generally with commercial properties, but
in this instance – (cont’d.)
RUSS
(slowly, overlapping) Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.
KARL
(continuous) – I think that, inasmuch as Ted deceived you about the buyers, that
the bank could still halt the sale and it would be a simple – (cont’d)
RUSS
(overlapping) Karl?
KARL
(continuous) – matter of a signature, if I could finish?
RUSS
Prefer it if you didn’t.
40
BETSY
Kaahhhh?
BEV
And for all we know this family could be perfectly lovely.
KARL
Well, that’s hardly the point, is it?
BEV
Maybe it’s a point to consider.
KARL
(with a chuckle) Bev, I’m not here to solve society’s problems. I’m simply telling
you what will happen, and it will happen as follows: First one family will leave,
then another, and another, and each time they do, the values of these properties
will decline, and once that process begins, once you break that egg, Bev, all the
kings horses, etcetera – (cont’d)
BETSY
(overlapping) Kaahhh?
KARL
(continuous) – and some of us, you see, those who don’t have the opportunity to
simply pick up and move at the drop of a hat, then those folks are left holding
the bag, and it’s a fairly worthless bag, at that point.
BEV
I don’t like the tone this is taking.
RUSS
(to KARL) Okay. Tell you what.
KARL
And let’s imagine if the tables were turned. (re: FRANCINE and ALBERT) Suppose a number of white families started marching into their commun- ? Well,
actually that might be to their advantage, but –
RUSS
Karl.
KARL
– you do see my point.
RUSS
Need you to stop now.
KARL
Sorry. (beat) Maybe not handled with the –
RUSS
It’s all right.
KARL
– utmost delicacy.
RUSS
But maybe time to let it drop.
KARL
Didn’t mean to turn it into a public referendum. (beat) But you do understand –
RUSS
No no no no no. That’s it. You hear me? Done. All done.
(Pause. In the near distance a church
bell begins to ring.)
JIM
(quietly looking at his watch) Is it four o’clock?
KARL
Well, Russ, if I might –
41
RUSS
Nope. Nope.
KARL
If I could just say this:
RUSS
No. Karl?
KARL
Well, if you’d let me –
RUSS
No. No more.
KARL
Uhhh… (chuckling) Bev? I get the impression your husband is telling me I’m not
permitted to speak.
RUSS
Don’t think it’s a good idea.
KARL
Well, Russ, I’m going to ask you at least to keep an open -?
RUSS
Karl!
KARL
Well, I think you’re being a tad unreasonable.
RUSS
Well, I think we’ve reached the end of this particular discussion.
KARL
Is that right?
RUSS
Afraid it is.
KARL
Just like that.
RUSS
Just like that.
What’d I just ask you?
(Another pause.)
KARL
Then what about this:
RUSS
Karl!?
KARL
Well, I believe the Constitution endows me with a right to speak.
RUSS
Well, then you can go and do that in your own home.
(RUSS crosses and opens the front
door for KARL to exit.)
KARL
Bev….? (laughs) He’s not being serious, is he?
RUSS
Karl?
KARL
(laughs) Am I being silenced?
RUSS
Not going to ask you again.
KARL
Well, this is a new experience for me.
42
RUSS
So be it.
KARL
Bit like the Soviet Union. (laughs) I am truly surprised.
RUSS
Well, surprise.
KARL
And a little disappointed.
RUSS
Sorry to disappoint you.
KARL
(shakes his head) A real shame. For all concerned.
RUSS
Well, that’s the way things go sometimes.
KARL
Apparently so.
RUSS
Anyway. Appreciate you stopping by.
KARL
I see.
RUSS
Betsy, too.
KARL
Very well.
BETSY
Kaaaaahhhh?
RUSS
Okay then? Okay.
(Silence. KARL stands and looks to
BETSY. The two of them slowly exit
through the open door, RUSS quietly
closing it as they go.)
BETSY
(quietly, before the door is closed) Kaahhh, whaah happaaahh?
FRANCINE
(carefully) Miz Stoller, if we’re done talking here?
JIM
(rising) Yes, you know, I think I will take this opportunity (But KARL abruptly returns, BETSY
following.)
KARL
However:
JIM
(quietly) Karl, don’t.
KARL
(very slowly) I don’t imagine that… this particular family are entirely aware of why
they’ve found such an agreeable price for the property. Don’t suppose they
know that aspect of it, do they? And let’s say someone was to inform them of
those facts. Let’s say that was to happen.
RUSS
(chuckles dangerously) Really don’t know when to quit, do ya?
KARL
Because I think that might be an interesting conversation to have.
43
FRANCINE
(beat, then to BEV) So I’ll be seeing you on Mon –
RUSS
(maintaining control) Well, Karl? You go ahead and do what you think is right,
but I’ll tell you one thing. What you’re going to do right now is – (cont’d.)
KARL
(overlapping) Well, I have a responsibility to the community as a whole. I can’t
afford to – (cont’d.)
RUSS
(continuous) – you’re going to take yourself right through that door and out of
this house.
KARL
(overlapping, continuous) – simply pursue my own selfish interests.
RUSS
(maintaining calm) Man, what a son of a bitch.
BEV
Russ, don’t.
RUSS
(to KARL) If you honestly think I give a rat’s ass about the god damn – (con’td.)
JIM
(overlapping) Okay. Okay.
RUSS
(continuous) – what, ya mean the community where every time I go for a haircut,
where they all sit and stare like the goddamn grim reaper walked in the barber
shop door? That community? (cont’d.)
KARL
(overlapping) My wife is two weeks away from giving birth to a child.
RUSS
(continuous) Where, Bev stops at Gelman’s for a quart of milk and they look at
her like she’s got the goddamn plague? That the community I’m supposed to
be looking out for?
KARL
A community with soon-to-be children.
JIM
The Apostle Matthew –
RUSS
(to JIM) Oh no no no. I’m talking now.
BEV
(to FRANCINE and ALBERT) I am ashamed of every one of us.
BETSY
(tugging at KARL’s sleeve) Kaaaaaah?
KARL
Betsy, Wait in the car.
RUSS
Well, you go right ahead and you tell those folks whatever you want, Karl. And
while you’re at it why don’t you tell ‘em about everything the community did for
my son. I mean Jesus Christ, Murray Gelman even goes and hires a goddamn
retarded kid, but my boy? Sorry. No work for you, bub.
JIM
People were frightened, Russ.
RUSS
(contemptuous) Ahh, of what? He was gonna snap? Gonna go and kill another
bunch of people? Send him off to defend the goddamn country, he does like
he’s told only to find out the kinda sons-of-bitches he’s defending?
44
BEV
(forthright) He did not do the things they claimed he did. He would never –
RUSS
Ah, Jesus, of course he did, Bev! He confessed to what he did! Sit around all
day with your head in the sand, it doesn’t change the facts of what he did.
BEV
Not to innocent people in that country. And not to women or children. I mean,
maybe he lost his temper in a –
RUSS
Ah, for Christ’s sake. What do you think happens in a goddamn war? They told
him to secure the territory, not go knocking on doors asking permission. And if
he was man enough to admit what he did, maybe you oughta have the decency
to do the same damn thing.
BEV
(turning to FRANCINE for support) You remember. Francine remembers what
he was like.
(RUSS makes a sound of disgust and
goes to the footlocker. Under the
following, he unlocks and opens the lid.)
BEV
How he loved to read and think. That’s just the kind of boy he was, wasn’t it?
FRANCINE
Yes ma’am.
BEV
(to FRANCINE) And the drawings? The most realistic drawings. I think a lot of
people didn’t realize –
KARL
Bev, it was never my intention to stir up… (cont’d.)
BEV
Ohhh, no, I think maybe it was.
KARL
(continuous)…such acrimonious feelings, but there is a situation, which –
BEV
Well, maybe if you had known my son a little better. If anyone had taken the
time, the way that Francine took the time (RUSS has produced an envelope from
the footlocker. He steps forward
removing the letter – on yellow legal
paper.)
RUSS
Here you go, Karl. Let’s all read a little something, shall we?
BEV
What are you -?
RUSS
(reading) Dear Mom and Dad.
BEV
(realizing) Stop it!!!
RUSS
(reading) I know you’ll probably blame yourselves –
BEV
(standing, losing it completely) Russ, stop it stop it stop stop stop it!!!!
45
JIM
Russ. Don’t.
BEV
KARL
(to RUSS) I think you’re unstable,
Russ. I really do.
(turning back to JIM) You see what this is like? You see? (to RUSS) Well, I refuse
to live this way any longer!!
(She goes into the bathroom and slams
the door behind her.)
RUSS
(starting over, calmly) Dear Mom and Dad.
JIM
Russ?
RUSS
I know you’ll probably blame yourselves for what I’ve done –
JIM
Need you to calm down.
RUSS
And you can go fuck yourself.
KARL
Well, that is over the line, mister. That is not language I will tolerate in front of
my wife.
RUSS
(beat, then: ) She’s deaf, Karl!!
Hello, Betsy! Go fuck yourself!
Completely – (waving to BETSY, fake-jolly)
(BETSY smiles, waves back.)
RUSS
So here’s what I’ll do for you, Karl: Make ya ten copies of this you can hand ‘em
out at Rotary. Or better yet. Put it in the newsletter. Rotary news: Kid comes
back from Korea, goes upstairs and wraps an extension cord around his neck.
Talk that over at the lunch buffet next week.
BETSY
(barely audible ) Kaahhh?
RUSS
And Francine walking in at nine in the morning to find him there. You be my
guest, Karl. You go ahead and tell those people what kind of house they’re
moving into and see if that stops ‘em, because I’ll tell you what, I don’t care if a
hundred Ubangi tribesman with a bone through the nose overrun this goddamn
place, ‘cause I’m through with all of you, ya motherfucking sons of bitches.
Every one of you.
(All stand in silence. We can hear BEV
crying from behind the bathroom door.
RUSS slowly folds the letter. Finally:)
JIM
Maybe we should bow our heads for a second.
RUSS
(advancing on him) Well, maybe I should punch you in the face.
(RUSS moves toward JIM, who, in
backing away, inadvertently tumbles
backwards over a box, toppling a floor
lamp as he goes.)
46
ALBERT
Whoa whoa whoa
whoa whoa!!
KARL
Easy now. Easy
does it…carefulBetsy, go! Betsy?
BETSY
Kaahh!! Waaahhhh
happneee!?
FRANCINE
What in god’s name
is wrong with alla
you people? (to ALBERT) Stay out of
out of it. Don’t. Just
stay out –
(BETSY runs out the front door.
ALBERT puts his hand on RUSS’s
shoulder)
ALBERT
(puts his hand on RUSS’s shoulder) Hang on. Let’s be civilized, now.
RUSS
(whirling on ALBERT) Ohoho, don’t you touch me.
ALBERT
Whoa whoa whoa.
RUSS
Putting your hands on me? No sir. Not in my house you don’t.
JIM
(gritting his teeth as he copes with his hernia) I’m all right.
FRANCINE
(to ALBERT) What the hell d’you think you’re doing?
ALBERT
Who’re you talking to?
FRANCINE
Who do you think?
KARL
(to RUSS, as he helps JIM to his feet.) Very manly, Russ Threatening a minister.
ALBERT
(to FRANCINE) Why’re you talking to me like th- ?
KARL
(to RUSS) Very masculine.
(KARL and JIM exit out the front door.)
FRANCINE
(to ALBERT) I think they’re all a buncha idiots. And who’s the biggest idiot of all
to let yourself get dragged into the middle of it? Whatcha gonna be now, the
big peacemaker come to save the day?
(KARL sticks his head back in.)
KARL
(through the open door) You’re mentally unstable, Russ!
FRANCINE
(to ALBERT) Let ‘em knock each other’s brains out, for all I care. I’m done
working for these people two days from now, and you never worked for ‘em at
all, so what the hell do you care what they do? And now I am going to the
goddamn car.
(FRANCINE exits. During the marital
squabble, RUSS has returned the letter
to the footlocker and dragged it out
through the kitchen. ALBERT is now
47
left alone in the middle of the room. He
stands idly for a moment, then moves
to right the overturned floor lamp. As
he does, BEV enters from the
bathroom, blowing her nose.)
ALBERT
(seeing BEV) It’s all right. Nothing broken.
BEV
(trying to be composed) Oh oh oh don’t mind that. But thank you so much.
ALBERT
No trouble.
BEV
And do let me offer you some money for your help.
ALBERT
Oh no ma’am, that’s all right.
BEV
Ohhh, are you sure?
ALBERT
Yes, ma’am.
BEV
(finding her purse) Well, here, then. Let me at least give you fifty cents.
ALBERT
No, now you keep your money.
BEV
Or, how about dollar? Take a dollar. I don’t care.
ALBERT
Ma’am?
BEV
Or take two. It’s just money.
ALBERT
Happy to help.
BEV
Or take something. You have to take something.
ALBERT
No ma’am. But –
BEV
What about this chafing dish? Did you see this dish?
ALBERT
Well, we got plenty of dish –
BEV
Not one of these. Francine told me. (cont’d.)
ALBERT
Well, that’s very kind of you, but –
BEV
She said you didn’t have one and somebody should take it and – (cont’d.)
ALBERT
(overlapping) But we don’t need it, ma’am.
BEV
(continuous) – make use of it, so if you let me just wrap it for you.
ALBERT
Ma’am, we don’t want your things. Please. We got our own things.
(Pause. BEV is shocked.)
48
BEV
Well.
ALBERT
(gently) Trying to explain to you.
BEV
Well, if that’s the attitude, then I just don’t know what to say anymore. I really
don’t. If that’s what we’re coming to.
ALBERT
Ma’am, everybody’s sorry for your loss.
BEV
(holding back tears, nobly righteous) You know, I would be…. So proud. So
honored to have you and Francine as our neighbors. And the two children.
ALBERT
Three children.
BEV
Three chil- We would…. Maybe we should learn what the other person eats.
Maybe that would be the solution to some of the – If someday we could all sit
down together, at one big table and, and, and, and…. (trails into a whisper,
shakes her head)
ALBERT
Evening, ma’am.
(ALBERT goes. BEV is left alone. After
a moment, RUSS enters to fetch the
shovel. He carries a pair of work
gloves. Seeing BEV, he stops, unsure of
what to say.)
BEV
Where’d you find the gloves?
RUSS
Under the sink.
BEV
And where are you going to dig the hole?
RUSS
Under the, uh…. What’s that big tree called?
BEV
The crepe myrtle.
RUSS
Under that.
BEV
Kind of late now, isn’t it?
RUSS
(shrugs, light-hearted) Do it tomorrow.
(He leans the shovel against the wall.
Pause. He stands idly, apologetically.)
RUSS
Kinda lost my temper.
BEV
(nods, then) Well, that’s what happens. As we know.
(He slowly moves to sit in the chair he
sat in at the start of the act, then looks
back at BEV.)
49
RUSS
Know what I did the other day? Up there at the house?
BEV
What?
RUSS
Driveway to the office. Timed it. Know how long that’s gonna take me now?
BEV
Five minutes?
RUSS
Six and a half.
BEV
Well, you’ll have a leisurely breakfast.
RUSS
Read the paper. Cup of coffee and bang.
BEV
Hmm.
RUSS
Five-oh-seven, right back at your doorstep.
BEV
And what’ll I do in-between?
(RUSS is caught off-guard)
RUSS
I, I, uhhh… Well, gee, I guess, whatever you… Any number of…
BEV
Things.
RUSS
Projects.
BEV
Projects.
RUSS
To keep ya occupied.
BEV
I suppose you’re right.
(He turns on the radio. Music. He looks
back at BEV, who stares into space.)
RUSS
(feebly, with a little sweep of the arm) Ulan Bator!
(BEV smiles vaguely. The lights slowly
fade. End of Act 1.)
50
Act 2
(September, 2009. Three o’clock,
Saturday afternoon. There is an overall
shabbiness to the place that was not
the case fifty years earlier. The wooden
staircase railing has been replaced with
a cheaper metal one. The oak
mantelpiece and most of the woodwork
have been painted over several times,
the fireplace opening is bricked in,
linoleum covers large areas of the
wooden floor and plaster has crumbled
from the lath in places. The kitchen
door is now missing, and we can see
through to an exterior door. The front
door stands propped open.)
(Lights rise to find six people facing
each other in a rough circle. To one
side, STEVE and LINDSEY with KATHY,
and to the other KEVIN and LENA with
TOM, all dressed in generic casual
clothes for a weekend afternoon. It is
warm, and some have iced drinks.
LINDSEY is visibly pregnant. They sit
upon improvised seating – crates, abandoned furniture, etc. STEVE, LINDSEY and KATHY study xeroxed documents while the others watch. Finally:)
TOM
Everybody good?
LINDSEY
I’m good.
STEVE
Good by me.
KATHY
Go for it.
TOM
So, I guess we should start right at the top.
STEVE
Question?
TOM
And I know we all got questions.
STEVE
The terminology?
TOM
So let’s go one at a time: Steve.
STEVE
The term frontage?
TOM
Right.
51
STEVE
Frontage means?
LINDSEY
Where are we looking?
STEVE
First page.
TOM
Frontage means – (deferring to KATHY) Did you want to – ?
KATHY
(to STEVE) Means the portion facing the street.
TOM
Thus, front.
STEVE
(to TOM) Portion of the property?
KATHY
(to STEVE) Of the structure.
STEVE
(to TOM) Or portion of the structure?
TOM
The facade.
LINDSEY
(to STEVE) I’m not seeing it.
KATHY
(to LINDSEY) Second paragraph.
TOM
(to LINDSEY) Bottom of the page.
STEVE
(to LINDSEY) Where it says “minimum recess of frontage”?
TOM
Meaning, distance from.
KATHY
(to TOM) From the edge of the property.
TOM
Exactly.
STEVE
Is what?
TOM
Is the “recess”.
STEVE
Not the frontage.
TOM
(to STEVE) The frontage is what you’re measuring to.
LINDSEY
Got it.
STEVE
I’m confused.
LINDSEY
And “edge of the property” means as measured from the curb?
KATHY
Correct.
TOM
Not from the sidewalk?
KATHY
From the curb.
52
TOM
Uhh – I’ll check, but I don’t think that’s right.
KATHY
Up to and including.
TOM
But the sidewalk falls under the easement.
KATHY
Right?
TOM
So if it’s part of the easement then it can’t be part of the property, per se.
KATHY
(shaking his head) By definition the property is inclusive of the easement. The
easement is legal passage across the property.
TOM
I don’t think you’re right.
KATHY
So, my understanding has always been-
KEVIN
Sorry, but – Does any of that really matter?
STEVE
It might.
KEVIN
I mean, I don’t see how any of that really – (cont’d.)
STEVE
(overlapping) The language?
KEVIN
(continuous) – impacts the outcome of the specific problem that –
STEVE
But I don’t want to get in a situation where we thought we found a solution only
to have it turn out we’re screwed because of the language.
TOM
Wait.
LINDSEY
(to STEVE) The language is clear to me.
TOM
(easily) And who’s being screwed?
STEVE
No no no.
TOM
No one’s screwing any-
STEVE
I didn’t mean like screwed over, I meant like maybe we screwed ourselves.
KEVIN
But how does that address the height issue?
TOM
The elevation.
STEVE
(to TOM) But if the elevation is conditional on the perimeter, right?
TOM
That’s the idea.
STEVE
If I’m reading correctly?
LINDSEY
But the perimeter isn’t changing.
53
STEVE
But we’re saying if it could.
LINDSEY
But we’ve established that it can’t.
STEVE
But let’s say it did.
LINDSEY
But I’m saying it won’t.
STEVE
But I’m saying what if?
LINDSEY
But I’m saying what did we discuss?
(KATHY’s cell Phone rings.)
STEVE
(to LINDSEY, with an easy laugh) Okay, but do you have to say it like that?
LINDSEY
Like what?
STEVE
In that way?
LINDSEY
What way?
KATHY
(looking at the screen) It’s Hector. I’d better –
STEVE
(aploqizing to KEVIN & LENA for LINDSEY) Sorry.
LINDSEY
(to KEVIN & LENA) Did I say something in a way?
LENA
Not that I noticed.
KATHY
(answering phone) Hi, Hector.
STEVE
(explaining to KEVIN & LENA) The architect.
LINDSEY
Who really oughta be here.
KATHY
(phone) No, we’re doing it now. No, we’re here at the house.
KEVIN
(to LINDSEY) Well, if you’d rather wait and do this when he can be?
STEVE
No no no.
LINDSEY
(to STEVE) Well, I think we both know what’s going to happen. (cont’d.)
LINDSEY
(continuous) He’s going to go completely ballist- I’m just telling you
what to expect.
STEVE
I don’t give a – And, I believe he’s
working for us, right? Not the other
way around.
KATHY
(phone) No, we’re here with – (to TOM) Tom, I forgot your last name.
TOM
Driscoll.
54
KATHY
(back to phone) Driscoll. So, Tom Driscoll and the people from the
neighborhood thing. Property-owners…. thing.
LINDSEY
(to STEVE & LENA) And can I just say? I am in love with this neighborhood.
KEVIN
Great neighborhood.
LINDSEY
Totally great.
KATHY
(into phone) Well, that’s what we’re trying to prevent.
LINDSEY
And the thing for me is? My current commute? Which is slowly eroding my
soul?
KEVIN
(to LINDSEY) How far ya coming from?
LINDSEY
(pointedly) Glen Meadows?
KEVIN
(wincing) Ooof.
LINDSEY
Exactly. And if you work downtown?
KEVIN
Where downtown?
LINDSEY
(do you know it?) Donnelly & Faber?
KEVIN
On Jackson, right? Donnelly & – ?
LINDSEY
Yeah, Jackson east of –
KEVIN
Yeah, I’m across the street.
LINDSEY
Where?
KEVIN
You know the big red building?
LINDSEY
I eat lunch in that building.
KEVIN
Capital Equities?
STEVE
You’re kidding me.
KEVIN
I kid you not.
LINDSEY
(to KEVIN) And from here to downtown is like, what, five minutes?
STEVE
(to KEVIN) Ya ever meet Kyle Hendrickson?
KEVIN
I work with Kyle Hendrickson.
KATHY
(phone) No, but I do think you’re being a little paranoid, because we’re not going
to let that happen.
LINDSEY
(to KATHY) Lemme talk to him.
55
KATHY
I’m not going to let it happen.
LINDSEY
Kathy.
KATHY
Wait. Lindsey wants to –
LINDSEY
Lemme do it. (taking phone) Hector?
KATHY
(rolling her eyes) I’m obviously not equipped to deal with –
LINDSEY
(on phone) I thought you were in Seattle.
STEVE
(to KATHY) What’s the problem?
KATHY
Tell you later.
LINDSEY
(soothing) No no no no. Kathy’s here. Kathy’s not going to let that (LINDSEY rolls her eyes at the others.)
STEVE
(to the others) Spaniards.
LINDSEY
(whispering to the others) Two seconds.
(LINDSEY exits out the front door.
Pause. The others wait.)
KEVIN
(to STEVE) Spaniards?
STEVE
Architect, ya know.
KEVIN
Spanish.
STEVE
Temperamental.
KEVIN
Toro toro.
STEVE
Exactly.
TOM
Seemed cool to me.
STEVE
You talked to him?
TOM
On the phone, yeah.
STEVE
He’s a good guy.
(Little pause. Then, small talk.)
KATHY
We were in Spain last year.
KEVIN
S’that right?
56
KATHY
Me, my husband. Spain, Morocco.
STEVE
(explaining to KEVIN) I just meant – with all the paperwork and everything? And
then we add him into the mix?
KEVIN
I hear you.
STEVE
Cooler heads, ya know.
KEVIN
Prevail.
STEVE
Right.
(Little pause. Then, more small talk.)
KATHY
Spain’s fantastic. We did four days in Barcelona. Saw the what’s-it-called?
The cathedral? Big, crazy – ?
TOM
Sagrada Familia.
KATHY
That. Which I loved. Likewise the food. Which I would happily eat every day for
the rest of my life.
KEVIN
Paella.
KATHY
Then Morrocco. To whatsit. To Marrakech. Which – I don’t know how you feel
about heat? But oh my god. And they keep giving you hot tea. Like, how
refreshing. And some theory about how you’re supposed to sweat in order to
feel cool, which you’ll have to explain to me sometime.
TOM
(to himself) Hot in here.
LENA
Very hot.
KATHY
And. To top it off. I don’t want to bore you with the whole ugly saga but: When
they tell you not to eat the produce? Take heed.
KEVIN
Like Mexico.
KATHY
Because if you ever need to know where to find a doctor at two in the morning
in the capital of Morocco when your husband is doubled over with dysentery – ?
KEVIN
Whoa.
KATHY
Gimme a call.
(Little pause. All look at door.)
TOM
(re: LINDSEY’s absence) Said two seconds.
KEVIN
(to KATHY, indicating himself and LENA) Went to Prague last April.
KATHY
(to LENA) Oh, I love Prague. Prague is beautiful.
57
KEVIN
Very pretty.
KATHY
The architecture?
KEVIN
That bridge?
KATHY
And it’s small, is what’s nice. So you can do it all in a couple of days.
KEVIN
And then from there to Zurich.
KATHY
Never been to Switzerland. (with a laugh) But I like the cheese!
LENA
(formally) Can I – ? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to – but I was hoping I could say
something to everyone, if you don’t mind?
(All pause for LENA.)
LENA
As long as we’re stopped?
KATHY
No. Do. By all means.
KEVIN
Go ahead.
TOM
Yeah yeah, please.
LENA
All right, well… (clears her throat) Um, I just feel like it’s very important for me to
express, before we start getting into the details-
STEVE
Sorry, but – Maybe we should wait for Lindsey? Don’t you think? If it’s
something important? Otherwise –
KEVIN
(to LENA) Do you mind?
STEVE
Wind up repeating yourself.
TOM
(to LENA) That okay with you?
LENA
It’s fine with me.
STEVE
But, hold that thought.
LENA
I will.
(Little pause. TOM drums his fingers.)
STEVE
Meanwhile –
TOM
Meanwhile maybe we should look at page three?
KATHY
Maybe we should.
TOM
Catch her up when she – (to STEVE) – if that’s cool with you guys.
STEVE
S’cool with me.
TOM
Good.
58
KEVIN
Let’s do it.
TOM
Just ‘cuz I gotta be outa here by like four.
STEVE
Forge ahead.
KATHY
Page three.
TOM
Middle of three.
KATHY
Section two.
TOM
Roman numeral two.
STEVE
(aside to KATHY, quietly) Rabat, by the way.
TOM
(beat) Whadja say?
STEVE
Nothing.
KATHY
Couldn’t hear you.
STEVE
The capital.
TOM
Of what?
STEVE
Morocco. She said Marrakech.
KATHY
It is the capital.
STEVE
No.
TOM
I’d’ve said Marrakech.
STEVE
Rabat.
KATHY
I don’t think you’re right.
STEVE
No, it is.
KATHY
But possibly.
STEVE
Definitely. Anyway.
TOM
Anyway –
KATHY
Or, wait. Is it Tangiers?
STEVE
Nope.
KATHY
Why am I thinking Tangiers?
STEVE
Dunno.
59
KATHY
Maybe we just landed in Tang- Or wait, no we didn’t.
KEVIN
(to STEVE) What’s the capital?
KATHY
I know what it is. Tangiers was the old capital.
STEVE
Umm… no?
KATHY
The historic capital.
(LINDSEY returns.)
LINDSEY
So sorry.
KEVIN
Everything all right?
LINDSEY
(returning KATHY’s phone) It’s fine. It’s just, he said he was going to be in
Seattle so we went ahead and scheduled this without him and now he’s feeling
a little proprietary – Anyway. Blah blah.
TOM
So, we skipped ahead.
LINDSEY
Great.
TOM
To page three?
KATHY
Middle of three.
TOM
And since I think we’d all basically agree that –
STEVE
(to LINDSEY) Hey. (to TOM) Sorry. (to LINDSEY) What’s the capital of
Morocco?
LINDSEY
The what?
STEVE
The capital.
LINDSEY
What are you talking about?
STEVE
Of Morocco.
LINDSEY
Why?
STEVE
Quick. Just –
LINDSEY
I have no idea.
STEVE
Yes you do.
KATHY
(explaining to LINDSEY) I said Marrakech.
STEVE
(to KATHY) No no, Let her –
LINDSEY
Marrakech, yeah.
60
STEVE
No. Rabat.
LINDSEY
Whatever.
KEVIN
(explaining to LINDSEY) Trying to figure out what it was.
LINDSEY
Why?
STEVE
She said she went to the capital of Morocco –
LINDSEY
So?
STEVE
– and it’s not the capital.
LINDSEY
(with a shrug) Maybe they changed it.
STEVE
(beat, then) Who?
LINDSEY
The Moroccans.
STEVE
To what?
LINDSEY
Whatever it is now.
STEVE
Which is Rabat.
LINDSEY
Okay.
TOM
So –
KATHY
Oh, wait. You know what it is? It’s Timbuktu.
STEVE
…nnnnnnno?
KATHY
The old capital. The historic – (tapping her temple) That’s why I – because it
was part of our package.
STEVE
Um. Timbuktu is in Mali.
KATHY
But the ancient capital.
STEVE
Yeah. Of Mali.
LINDSEY
I thought Mali was in the Pacific.
STEVE
(baffled) In – ?
LINDSEY
Where do they have the shadow puppets?
STEVE
(sputtering) Are you talking about Bali?
KATHY
Same difference.
STEVE
Uhhhh, no? The difference…(cont’d)
61
LINDSEY
And who gives a shit, any -?
(DAN has entered through the kitchen door.
Work clothes, mustache, chewing gum. He
lingers at a distance.)
STEVE
(continuous)…is that they happen to be three distinct counttries so, I guess I give a shit –
LINDSEY
(continuous) Steve. Steven.
It’s whatever you want it to
be, okay?
LENA
I’m sorry. I don’t
mean to interrupt any
one, but –
STEVE
(continuous, lowering his voice, to LINDSEY) – and could you possibly not talk to
me like a child?
LENA
(in the clear) Excuse me?
(All turn to LENA)
LENA
I was hoping to say something, if I could?
STEVE
(remembering) Oh oh oh.
TOM
Right. (to LENA) Sorry. (to LINDSEY) Lena had wanted to mention something
and it sounded kind of important so –
KEVIN
(to LENA) But you don’t gotta ask permission.
LENA
I’m trying to be polite.
LINDSEY
We’re totally rude.
KEVIN
No, you’re not.
LINDSEY
It’s my family. Irish Catholic, you know? Blarney.
KATHY
(raising a hand) Please, my husband? Half-Jewish half-Italian.
KEVIN
Is that right?
KATHY
Get a word in edgewise.
KEVIN
I believe that.
KATHY
Anyway. Lena.
LENA
Thank you.
LINDSEY
Wait. Lena, right?
LENA
Lena.
KATHY
Short for Leonora?
62
LENA
No.
KATHY
I knew a Leonora.
LENA
It was my aunt’s name.
LINDSEY
(reminding herself) Anyway. Lena, Kevin.
KATHY
(raising hand) Kathy.
LINDSEY
(indicating) Kathy, Lindsey, Steve,
STEVE
And Tom.
KEVIN
Don’t forget Tom.
LINDSEY
Tom we know. So:
DAN
(from across the room) Ding dong?
(All turn to DAN)
STEVE
Hey.
DAN
Hey.
STEVE
How’s it goin’?
DAN
S’there a Steve anywhere?
STEVE
Yeah?
DAN
You Steve?
STEVE
Yeah?
DAN
Hector said if there’s a problem talk to Steve.
STEVE
That’s me.
DAN
(to the others) How ya doing?
TOM
Hey. Good.
KEVIN
Doing all right.
LENA
Fine, thank you.
DAN
Uhh… (lowers voice, crouches next to STEVE) Quick question?
STEVE
(a quiet sidebar) Yeah?
DAN
(privately) So okay. So, we’re, uh, digging that trench back there, ya know?
STEVE
Yeah?
63
DAN
Out in back?
STEVE
Yeah?
DAN
For the conduit line?
STEVE
Yeah?
DAN
Know what I’m talking about?
STEVE
Yeah?
DAN
‘Cuz before you hookup that line you gotta bury that conduit?
STEVE
Yeah?
DAN
And so in order to dig that trench we gotta take out that tree, right?
STEVE
Right?
DAN
Dead tree back there?
STEVE
Yeah?
DAN
‘Cause those roots, they go down like maybe eight feet?
STEVE
Yeah?
DAN
Which is why we’re taking out that tree?
STEVE
Right?
DAN
Didja know that thing is dead?
STEVE
(risng) Hey. Maybe we should – (to the others) Sorry. You guys go ahead and –
DAN
Whoops.
STEVE
(to DAN) No no. It’s just – two things at once.
KEVIN
We can wait.
STEVE
No no no. You guys keep – (to DAN) You wanna show me?
DAN
Lemme show ya.
STEVE
Lemme take a look.
DAN
Show ya what we’re dealing with.
(DAN & STEVE exit out the back door.)
DAN
(overheard to STEVE, as they exit.) Tell ya one thing though, it is hot out here.
64
(LENA fans herself. A little pause, then:)
LINDSEY
Now I don’t remember what we were – ?
TOM
Page three.
LINDSEY
Right.
KATHY
Middle of three.
TOM
So. Knowing as we do that the height continues to be the sticking point – and
by the way, the reason the petition was drawn up this way in the first place – I
mean, nobody wants to be inflexible, but the idea was to set some basic
guidelines whereby if, say, the height is the problem, like it is here, then one
option would be to reduce the total exterior volume, like your husband was
saying. And that’s the rationale behind the table at the bottom of the page. So
what those figures mean, essentially, is that, with each additional foot of
elevation beyond the maximum limit, there’d be a corresponding reduction in
volume. And the figures are based on the scale of the original structures, which
is relatively consistent over the twelve-block radius, and of which this house is a
fairly typical example. Now:
KATHY
Except we know they’re not.
TOM
Not what?
KATHY
Not consistent.
TOM
Saying relatively.
KATHY
A lotta variables.
TOM
We know that.
KATHY
(beginning a list) The size of the lots, for starters?
TOM
Right, but –
KATHY
The year of construction?
TOM
Right, so the hope was that, by establishing a couple of regulations up front,
hopefully we avoid this kinda situation in the future, ‘cause, obviously, it’s a pain
in the ass for everybody. So, assuming the Landmarks Committee passes this
part of the petition next week –
KATHY
Assuming.
TOM
Safe assumption.
KATHY
And if the Landmarks Committee really wants to pick that fight with the Zoning
Department that is their business, but that’s a matter of if and when.
TOM
(to LINDSEY) Why is this confrontational?
65
KATHY
Because somebody might’ve raised these issues when the plans went to the
Zoning Department five months ago.
LINDSEY
Kathy.
KATHY
I mean, no one had any objection back then.
LINDSEY
Can I say? We talked about renovation. We discussed it. Because these
houses are so charming and I know it’s a shame – but when you figure in the
crack in the sub-floor and the cost of the lead abatement – and in a market like
this one? It just made more sense to start from scratch.
(TOM’s cell rings. He tries to ignore it.)
TOM
Right. But: the Owners Association has a vested interest – Kevin and Lena call
me up last month, they say Tom, we’ve got this problem, these people are
planning to build a house that’s a full fifteen feet taller than all the adjacent
structures – (cont’d)
LINDSEY
Nooo… fifteen? Is that right?
KATHY
It’s exactly what the block is
zoned for, Tom.
TOM
(continuous) – and I think we’d all agree that there’s a mutual benefit to
maintaining the integrity- (glances at his phone.) – the architectural integrity –
LINDSEY
Wanna get that?
TOM
– of a historically significant – god damn it – neighborhood. (answering) Yeah?
(STEVE returns, as TOM talks on the
phone, leaving the kitchen door open.)
TOM
(into phone) Yeah, okay, but don’t call me with that in the middle of a Satur- ?
Well, then give it to Marla. Because it’s Marla’s account. Well, where the fuck is
Mar- ? (to the others) Sorry.
(TOM crosses the room to take the call.)
STEVE
What’s happening?
LINDSEY
I don’t know.
LENA
You know, it might be a good idea if we all turned off our phones.
LINDSEY
Excellent idea.
KEVIN
(to STEVE) Get your problem solved?
STEVE
Did what?
KEVIN
Out back.
STEVE
Yeah, I dunno. They hit something.
66
LINDSEY
What something?
STEVE
I dunno.
LINDSEY
Something dangerous?
STEVE
I dunno.
LINDSEY
Is it going to explode?
STEVE
It’s not – (to KEVIN) – We’re putting in a koi pond, and there’s a filtration system
that has to hook into to the municipal – anyway, they ran into some kind of whatever. So whatzit, page three?
KEVIN
But maybe wait for Tom?
STEVE
(with a laugh and a shrug) ….standing right there.
KEVIN
If we’re getting into the legal stuff?
LINDSEY
I agree.
KEVIN
‘Cuz, I’m not a lawyer.
STEVE
I’m not a lawyer.
LINDSEY
But, Kathy’s a lawyer.
STEVE
(re: TOM) And he’s the one with the time issue.
KEVIN
Long as we’re out by four.
STEVE
(okay, but) It’s three-thirty.
KATHY
We’ll be done by four.
LINDSEY
(to KEVIN & LENA) Sorry about all this.
STEVE
Crazy.
(All turn vaguely to TOM, who gestures
apologetically and mouths “Sorry”.
LENA sighs, fans herself.)
KEVIN
(small talk) When’s the baby due?
LINDSEY
Oh. Um, November.
KEVIN
In time for turkey.
LINDSEY
I know.
KEVIN
Boy or girl?
67
(STEVE is about to answer.)
LINDSEY
No no no. I don’t want to know. Ask Steve. Steve saw the ultrasound. (fingers in
ears, eyes closed) La la la la la la la la la la la….
(STEVE mouths the word “boy”, then
touches LINDSEY’s knee.)
LINDSEY
(fingers out of ears, eyes open) …la la la – either way as long as it’s healthy.
KEVIN
Knock wood.
LINDSEY
But something tells me it’s a girl.
(Pause. Feet tap. KATHY takes out her
phone, dials a number, listens.)
LINDSEY
(to LENA) You guys have kids?
LENA
Three.
LINDSEY
Wow.
LENA
Mmm.
LINDSEY
How great for you.
LENA
Yes.
LINDSEY
Congratulations.
LENA
Thank you.
(KATHY starts to check messages.)
STEVE
(beat, then to KEVIN) So Kyle Hendrickson?
KEVIN
(remembering) Kyle Hendrickson.
STEVE
Kyle Hendrickson – who, may I add, kicked my ass in the tenth grade?
LINDSEY
Who is this?
KEVIN
(laughing) Wait wait wait. Little Kyle Hendrickson – ?
STEVE
Like the one solitary black dude in my entire high school.
KEVIN
Kicked your ass?
STEVE
Publicly kicked.
KEVIN
Kyle Hendrickson’s like, what? Like five-two?
68
LINDSEY
Wait. When?
STEVE
(to KEVIN) Five-five. J.V. Wrestling team. Tenth grade.
KEVIN
I think that might officially make you -?
STEVE
A pussy?
KEVIN
Think it might.
LINDSEY
(to STEVE) Who are you talking about?
STEVE
Okay. Remember I ran into a guy?
LINDSEY
No.
STEVE
Remember last week? I said a guy from middle school?
LINDSEY
No.
STEVE
I was meeting you downtown – oh, and he told me the joke?
LINDSEY
Right?
STEVE
The joke I told you?

LINDSEY
I don’t remember.
STEVE
The joke about – well, neither do I, at the moment but it was a joke we both
thought was funny?
LINDSEY
Okay?
STEVE
Anyway. That guy: That is Kyle Hendrickson. Who he works with.
LINDSEY
(to LENA) Glad we cleared that up.
STEVE
Oh oh oh.
LINDSEY
What?
STEVE
Wait.
LINDSEY
What?
STEVE
Wait.
LINDSEY
What?
STEVE
The joke. It’s about a guy? Remember? Guy who goes to jail?
LINDSEY
No.
69
STEVE
White-collar criminal goes to jail, remember? And and and they put him in a cell
with – ?
LINDSEY
(realizing, privately to STEVE) Oh Oh Oh. No.
STEVE
What?
LINDSEY
Hm-mm.
STEVE
What?
LINDSEY
Let’s – (changing subject, to LENA) How old are your kids?
STEVE
(to LINDSEY) Whatsamatter?
KEVIN
(to LINDSEY) Nine, ten and twelve.
LINDSEY
Wow.
STEVE
(to LINDSEY) What’s your problem?
LINDSEY
Steve.
STEVE
I was telling the joke.
LINDSEY
Later.
STEVE
You said remind me what joke –
LINDSEY
Okay.
STEVE
(laughing) But now I’m not allowed to tell it?
LINDSEY
(quietly) Stop a second.
STEVE
(to KEVIN) Anyway. Two guys stuck in a jail cell –
LINDSEY
Steven?
LENA
(finally having had enough) I’m sorry, and I don’t mean to keep interrupting but
can somebody please explain to me what it is we’re doing here?
(Pause. TOM turns. All feel the chill
from LENA)
TOM
(quietly into phone) Just send me the fucking document.
(KATHY and TOM discreetly hang up.)
LENA
I mean, I know I’m not the only person who takes the situation seriously and I
don’t like having to be this way but I have been sitting here for the last fifteen
minutes waiting for a turn to speak – (cont’d.)
(All overlap, quietly chastened.)
70
TOM
Hey. Sorry ‘bout
That.
KEVIN
No one’s taking turns.
LINDSEY
I’m so sorry.
I really am.
KATHY
Well, Tom was
on the phone,
I thought.
LENA
(continuous) – and meanwhile it seems like nothing is even remotely getting
accomplished
LINDSEY
I agree.
(A truck horn sounds outside.)
KEVIN
(to LENA) So go ahead and say what you –
LENA
(with a tense smile, to KEVIN) And could you please not tell me when to – ?
KEVIN
I’m not telling –
LENA
(continuous) They were having a conversation and – (cont’d.)
KEVIN
(overlapping) And now they stopped.
LENA
(continuous) – I try not to intrude – (cont’d)
KEVIN
Just being friendly.
LENA
(continous) – on other peoples’ conversations when they’re in the middle of
them. (to the others) I’m not trying to be unfriendly.
LINDSEY
No, it’s us.
KEVIN
No it’s not.
LINDSEY
No, it is.
KEVIN
You’re being friendly.
LENA
I’m being friendly.
LINDSEY
(to KEVIN, re LENA) She’s being friendly.
STEVE
I’m being friendly.
KEVIN
If anybody’s not being friendly –
LENA
Well, maybe the friendly thing to do would be for us to respect each other’s
time, would that be all right?
STEVE
Yeah. Sure.
LENA
Thank you.
LINDSEY
Yes. Totally.
KATHY
Was it me? Was it?
TOM
Sorry. Really.
71
(All murmur quietly.)
STEVE
(to KEVIN) Was I
disrespectful?
LINDSEY
So glad someone
has the balls to
finally say it.
KATHY
‘Cuz, seriously,
I thought we’d
stopped.
TOM
No, you guys?
was my fault.
That was me.
(Horn sounds again.)
LINDSEY
(to LENA) Anyway.
LENA
Anyway. All right. (taking her time) Well… I have no way of knowing what sort of
connection you have to the neighborhood where you grew up?
(Horn again. STEVE turns.)
LINDSEY
(to STEVE, rapid whisper) Just shut the door. Just shut the fucking (STEVE jumps up and exits to shut the
kitchen door.)
LINDSEY
Sorry. (continuing LENA’s last line) The neighborhood where – ?
LENA
And some of our concerns have to do with a particular period in history and the
things that people experienced here in this community during that period (STEVE returns to the circle, sits.)
STEVE
(whispering to LENA) Sorry.
LENA
– both good and bad, and on a personal level? I just have a lot of respect for the
people who went through those experiences and still managed to carve out a
life for themselves and create a community despite a whole lot of obstacles?
LINDSEY
As well you should.
LENA
Some of which still exist. That’s just a part of my history and my parents’ history
– and honoring the connection to that history – and, no one, myself included,
likes having to dictate what you can or can’t do with your own home, but there’s
just a lot of pride, and a lot of memories in these houses, and for some of us,
that connection still has value, if that makes any sense?
LINDSEY
Total sense.
LENA
For those of us who have remained.
LINDSEY
Absolutely.
LENA
And respecting that memory; that has value, too. At least, that’s what I believe.
And that’s what I’ve been wanting to say.
(All nod solemnly for several seconds at
LENA’s noble speech.)
72
STEVE
Um. Can I ask a -?
LINDSEY
(to STEVE) Let her finish.
STEVE
(to LENA) Sorry.
LENA
I was finished.
LINDSEY
(to LENA) Sorry.
STEVE
Right. So, um… Huh. (how to say it?) So, when you use the word value, um – ?
LENA
Historical value.
TOM
You read the petition.
STEVE
Yeah.
TOM
Spelled out pretty clearly.
STEVE
Right. (to LENA) But, what I mean is – So, you don’t literally mean… monetary
value. Right?
(LENA stares.)
LENA
My great aunt –
STEVE
Or maybe you do.
LENA
– was one of the first people of color to – in a sense, she was a pioneer –
STEVE
No, I understand – and correct me if – but my understanding was that the value
of these properties had gone up.
KATHY
They have.
STEVE
(to KEVIN & LENA) Yours included.
KEVIN
That’s true.
STEVE
Way up.
TOM
And we’d all like to keep it that way.
STEVE
But – You’re not suggesting, are you, that, when we build our house – ?
(LINDSEY puts a hand on STEVE.)
LINDSEY
(to LENA) Look, I for one – I am really grateful for what you said, but this is why
we sometimes feel defensive, you know? Because we love this neighborhood.
STEVE
We do.
LINDSEY
We completely do, and we would never want to to to to carelessly –
73
STEVE
Run roughshod.
LINDSEY
– over anyone’s – And I totally admit, I’m the one who was resistant, especially
with the schools and everything, but once I stopped seeing the neighborhood
the way it used to be, and could see what it is now, and its potential?
LENA
Used to be what?
LINDSEY
What do you mean?
LENA
What it “used to be”?
STEVE
(helpfully, to LENA) What you said. About the history of – ?
LINDSEY
Historically. The changing, you know, demographic – ?
STEVE
Although originally – (to LINDSEY) – wasn’t it German, predominantly?
KATHY
German and Irish.
STEVE
Depending how far back you –
KATHY
It’s funny, though. Even though my father was German – but back when they
were living here –
LINDSEY
Wait, did I know this?
KATHY
I told you that.
LINDSEY
In this neighborhood?
KATHY
(to KEVIN & LENA) They went to church at St. Stan’s! Isn’t that crazy?
KEVIN
Is that right?
KATHY
(to KEVIN & LENA) This is the late fifties. (laugh) My father was a “Rotarian”! But
my mother – (to LINDSEY) She was deaf? I told you that?
LINDSEY
That I knew.
KEVIN
Awwww, that’s a shame.
KATHY
(to KEVIN) Thank you. It was congenital. But then she got pregnant with me
and they moved out to Rosemont, anyway, her family, they were Swedish.
STEVE
(to KEVIN & LENA) There was a great article two weeks ago – I don’t know if you
saw this – about the history of the changing, uh, ethnic LINDSEY
Distribution.
LENA
Oh, I should read that.
STEVE
– of the neighborhood and how in the seventies, eighties, how that was followed
by a period of – of – of – of – of rapid –
KATHY
Decline.
74
LINDSEY
No – Not – No
STEVE
Of growth. A growing –
KATHY
I don’t mean decline –
KATHY
– I mean there was trouble.
LINDSEY
Not trouble, she didn’t mean –
KEVIN
There was trouble.
LINDSEY
Economic trouble.
KEVIN
Drugs are trouble.
KATHY
That’s what I’m saying.
KEVIN
Violence is trouble.
KATHY
(vindicated) Exactly.
LINDSEY
And the violence as an outgrowth of the criminalization of those drugs.
KEVIN
(re: himself and LENA) ’Cuz ya know, the two of us wuz both crackheads.
(A frozen moment, then:)
STEVE
That’s funny. I know
you’re kidding but
that was the perception at the –
LINDSEY
No, come on.
Don’t say that.
Really. Even as
as a joke.
KATHY
I know you’re joking, but that is exactly what people
thought.
KEVIN
(laughs) I’m kidding you. I’m just
messing with you.
STEVE
(to LINDSEY) – he’s being funny.
LINDSEY
I know he was, and it was funny but when people are systematically
dehumanized – If you’ve been placed in some faceless, institutional –
KATHY
(explaining to KEVIN & LENA) The projects.
LINDSEY
– I mean, like it or not, that kind of environment is not conducive to – to – to – to –
KEVIN
That’s true.
LINDSEY
the formation of community.
KATHY
Horrible.
KEVIN
Tough place to grow up.
LINDSEY
With the effect on children?
KEVIN
On anyone.
75
LINDSEY
And to take what had been a pros – well, not prosperous, but a solidly middleclass, um – ?
STEVE
Enclave.
LINDSEY
And then undermine the entire economic –
STEVE
Infrastructure.
LINDSEY
– by warehousing people inside of these –
STEVE
But that’s the thing, right? If you construct some artificial semblance of a
community, and then isolate people within that – I mean, what would be the
definition of a ghetto, you know? A ghetto is a place, Where – (cont’d.)
LINDSEY
(overlapping, to STEVE) But who uses that word? I don’t.
STEVE
(continuous) – where, where, where people are sequestered, right? (to LINDSEY,
defensively) The definition, I’m saying.
LENA
Well, my family –
STEVE
Like Prague. If you think of – (pedagogically) Okay: Prague had this ghetto,
right? A Jewish ghetto?
LENA
(thanks for the lecture) We’ve been to Prague.
LINDSEY
Ohmigod. Prague is beautiful. (KEVIN wiggles his hand) I loved Pr- you didn’t
love it?
KEVIN
Prague’s crowded.
KATHY
And the food sucks. Or is that just me?
STEVE
But I’m saying, It’s not like, one day all these Jews were sitting around Prague,
looking at the Real Estate section, going, “Hey here’s an idea! Let’s all go live in
that ghetto!” Right?
(A beat where they all avoid STEVE’s
comment. Then: )
LINDSEY
(to LENA) When were you in Prague?
LENA
Last April.
KEVIN
First Prague, then Zurich.
LINDSEY
I want to go back.
KEVIN
(to STEVE) You ski?
(A laugh erupts from LINDSEY)
LINDSEY
(re: STEVE) Him?
76
STEVE
You mean – like downhill?
LINDSEY
That I’d like to see.
KEVIN
Ever been to Switzerland?
STEVE
(to LINDSEY, defensive) I can ski. I have skied.
LINDSEY
Get that on video.
STEVE
Why is that funny?
LINDSEY
(trying not to laugh, to KEVIN) Sorry.
STEVE
Seriously. What is it about the idea of me skiing that you find so highly, uh – ?
LINDSEY
Anyway.
STEVE
– risible?
KEVIN
(to STEVE) I just meant, you like to golf, you go to Scotland. And if you like to
ski?
LINDSEY
(still laughing) Just trying to picture it.
STEVE
Gratuitous.
TOM
(prodding the others) Annnnnnyway.
LENA
Yes. Maybe we
should try to stick to
the topic at hand.
LINDSEY
Okay. Tom’s right.
Let’s get it together.
LINDSEY
(to TOM) Where were we?
TOM
Page three.
LINDSEY
Uggh. You’re kidding.
TOM
Nope.
LINDSEY
How can we still be – ?
TOM
I dunno.
LINDSEY
How is that possible?
TOM
(glancing at watch) And it is now….quarter to four.
LENA
I’m sorry for taking time.
KATHY
(to KEVIN) I can’t
ski because I was
born with weak
ankles. Anyway.
77
LINDSEY
No. What you said was great.
LENA
And I wasn’t trying to romanticize.
LINDSEY
You didn’t.
LENA
Nothing romantic about being poor.
LINDSEY
But, it was your neighborhood.
KATHY
(to LENA) Wait, what street?
LENA
Offa Larabee.
KATHY
My parents lived on Claremont!!
KEVIN
Ya’ll would’ve been neighbors.
LENA
But I didn’t mean to make it about my personal connection to the house. It’s
more about the principle.
KEVIN
But you can’t live in a principle.
LINDSEY
You had a personal connection?
KEVIN
To the house.
LINDSEY
To this house?
KEVIN
(to LINDSEY) Her aunt.
LENA
I don’t want to – let’s not.
KEVIN
Lived here.
STEVE
Wait. Who?
LENA
Sort of beside the point, but yes.
KEVIN
Great aunt
LENA
On my mother’s side.
LINDSEY
You don’t mean, here, here?
LENA
And this is fifty years ago.
LINDSEY
Here in this house.
LENA
For quite some time, actually.
LINDSEY
(hand to her heart) Oh my g- !
So so so wait, so – ?
STEVE.
Whoa.
78
STEVE
(clarifying) This exact house.
LINDSEY
(how weird) – so, like, you’ve… been in this room?
LENA
I used to climb a tree in the backyard.
LINDSEY
Oh my god.
STEVE
Whoa….
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