Featured PLAYS

THE PLACEBO EFFECT

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

SALLY, LOUISE’S MOTHER,   FIFTIES

DIVORCED FROM BUT STILL IN LOVE WITH

GUY, LOUISE’S ENGLISH FATHER,

FIFTIES DRAMA CRITIC FOR THE TIMES

COME TO ELIMINATE

HANK, LOUISE’S HUSBAND, THIRTIES

AMATEUR ACTOR IN ELIZABETHAN VERSION

OF DEATH OF A SALESMAN

LOUISE, THIRTIES

MASSEUSE AND HERBALIST

SECRETLY WORSHIPPED BY

MORTIMER, HANK’S NEIGHBOR THIRTIES

PHARMACIST

 

We are in HANK and LOU’s living room,present day. UC is a hallway entrance leading to an unseen front door. There are also entrances LC and RC connecting to other areas of the house. DR there is a massage table and some shelves filled with dietary supplements, homeopathic remedies, and posters for same,etc.. DL is a bar fridge and a blender. .There is a large poster on the UC wall for Death of A Salesman featuring a huge glossy of HANK dressed in Shakespearean gear and carrying a salesman’s sample case.. There is also a large framed photograph of GUY and LOU embracing.

Enter Sal and Guy, from UC, pulling their suitcases behind them.

GUY

You want to finally explain why you are here, Sally?

SAL

Why is anyone here, Guy?

GUY

Cute. Well I am here because Louise invited me. Not because I am stalking my ex.

SAL

Yeah? So where’s the welcome party?

GUY

Perhaps you could be patient for once.

SAL

So our daughter invited you here to save her marriage? You?

GUY

So I get on the plane and there you are in the seat next to me and on the window side to boot. Which you close for the whole flight so you can snore yourself to death!

SAL

Be thankful you were on the aisle, the number of times you visited the loo. Maybe Louise thinks you need me..

GUY

That was two wives ago. Are you supposed to be my nursemaid?

SAL

Well, you are sick.

GUY

This is about Louise, not me.

SAL

You have got to talk her out of this marriage break-up plan. It’s only been six months.

GUY

My thoughts exactly. Have you ever met him?

SAL

Have you?

GUY

The problem is that she has had me around all her life so that he pales in comparison, She just has to lower her expectations. What’s so funny?

SAL

Nothing, nothing.

GUY

I was a great father!

SAL

You still are.

GUY

But….

SAL

Not such a great husband.

GUY

OK I had a bit of a roving eye. There’s a lot of temptation in show business.

SAL

Roving eye? Your eye went completely Amber Alert and never returned!

GUY

Water under the bridge?

SAL

For you.

GUY

Well let’s not dwell. I’m here to save a marriage.

SAL

Again. How ironic.

GUY

And you?

SAL

I’m not a nursemaid. But I am a nurse.

GUY

Well be the nurse in Romeo and Juliet. Not Florence Nightingale

SAL

That’s up to Louise. Wherever she is. We have a bedroom upstairs somewhere. I’m going to find it and unpack.

GUY

We are sleeping together?

SAL

It’s a two bedroom house. You would prefer to lounge on that massage table? And don’t worry, our room contains an ensuite.

GUY

Why would I worry?

SAL

Just like old times.

GUY

Good. Because I’m too old for sex.

SAL

There’s always sexual healing

GUY

Doesn’t work, trust me. A placebo at best.

SAL

You would know. I’ll take your luggage up too, Methuselah. You need to save your energy for tonight!

GUY

That’s very funny.

SAL

I’ll be back!

GUY

Don’t rush.

Exit SAL. As GUY is examining the poster. Enter HANK. He is dressed in the same Elizabethan costume.

HANK

Well, you’ve seen the poster, now behold the man! I’m Hank!

GUY

Nice to meet you. Finally.

HANK

Yes. Sorry I’m late. Cops set up a checkpoint. Had to open my trunk to prove I wasn’t sheltering the deranged killer escaped from the local nut house. Anyway.   Lou said to expect you. Why not do me just for practice?

GUY

Do you?

HANK

That you are a man, and an older man at that, doesn’t bother me at all. After all, I am an actor. We do it every chance we get. This wouldn’t be your first time, surely?

GUY

Actually it would.

HANK

At your age? Well don’t worry, I can guide you through it. You are going to do my instrument a lot of good, I expect. You should really see my Willy. Pause Just the thought of it makes me nervous in anticipation Just be gentle. We can do it on the table.

GUY

On the table.

HANK

Yes. The massage.

GUY

Oh! OK.

HANK

Now, with Lou, I strip down completely.

GUY

Not necessary.

HANK

These tights are just killing my sperm. Likewise these breeches! And the tunic has to go too. This shirt is so snug at the wrists. There, that’s better. Now for the ruff. Should I keep my hat on? That’s a song. Get it?

Hank hops up onto the massage table, propping his head up, the better to converse.   Guy discovers the tools of the trade lying about and commences the massage.

“Ah, there’s the rub!” Get it?

GUY

Hamlet.

HANK

You go to the theater!

GUY

Seen Death of a Salesman many times.

HANK

Not like this. I translated the entire script to Shakespearean English! That’s why the pantyhose.

GUY

You think that will work?

HANK

The supporting cast isn’t very strong but I think they’ll be OK. Pause That’s good, that’s good. Keep doing that. A little lower. Pause The trouble is that I’m a bit of a jinx. I can’t tell you the number of times my fellow actors have dropped out due to illness. Like yesterday we got two brand new actors to play Biff and Happy!

Enter SAL,

SAL

Who is that?

GUY

Our son-in-law. Sir Walter Raleigh.

SAL

Oh God. Can I help you?

HANK

Oblivious

You are helping me. You wouldn’t believe the toll rehearsal takes on ones instrument. So we have to use understudies at the last minute. That’s why so many of my shows have been so…….challenging.

SAL

I’m supposed to be doing that.

GUY

You took your time.

SAL

You can spank me later.

HANK

Like, right in the middle of the show, the lead actress quits!   Now, if you were an abdominal surgeon and you were playing the role of Desdemona, wouldn’t you realize that you had appendicitis before you walk off, leaving me speechless?

GUY

If only.

HANK

So what do I do? I play her part as well as mine. I wound up having to strangle myself! But you should have heard the audience cheer!

GUY

I can well imagine

SAL

How are you feeling?

GUY

How do you think I’m feeling?

SAL

Me too. Oh dear, forgot my stool!

HANK

Now our director is a little weak, but I think he’s got potential. I’ve been giving him tips. Problem is these guys think they know it all!

GUY

A stool?

SAL

Good. You have your hearing aid in.

EXIT SAL

HANK

So I suggested that I play Willy as gender confused. Like, he’s a cross-dresser or something. Just a different spin. Wouldn’t that put his suicide in a different light? See he wears women’s clothes when he’s at home, but has to wear men’s clothes in public. I was willing to do that!

REENTER SAL with a small container which she puts on the bar fridge.

GUY

You forget something?

SAL

I’ll stand. OK?

HANK

Of course it’s OK. Making sacrifices to your ego, your masculinity, it’s part of the deal as an actor. Pause But to directors, we’re just cattle. But I’m a…….dolphin!

GUY

Right. A dolphin.

HANK

So naturally they start to resent the fact that I know just as much about directing as they do! So I say “Let their show suck!” Maybe they’ll get the message that they should pay some attention to what I’m telling them.

SAL

Want me to take over?

GUY

No

SAL

Masochist.

HANK

Then there’s like, Wardrobe. That’s where you find the dry little spinsters who probably costumed My American Cousin, back in the day. You likely don’t know this, but that’s the play-

GUY

That Lincoln attended when he was assassinated.

HANK

See, that’s about how old these spinsters probably are. What you likely don’t know is that Lincoln’s assassin-

GUY

John Wilkes Booth, was an actor himself.

SAL

Let me take over before you kill him.

HANK

Yeah, he really killed that night! Drum roll!

GUY

  1. I really have to use the bathroom.

SAL takes over without skipping a beat while GUY exits

HANK

You know, you are getting better by the minute.

SAL

Thank you

HANK

And a theater aficionado to boot. Usually Lou does this for me. You understand it’s just a part-time position?

SAL

Yes.

HANK

Someone to cover when she’s not here. Pause These days my wife seems to be out all the time. I hardly get to talk to her. First I thought she might be having an affair.

GUY returns. He tags SAL

HANK

Easy! That’s a little too much pressure. But six months into a marriage? At first, she’s crazy about me. That’s the main thing that attracted me to Lou. And it still is. I’m sure you don’t want to hear about our sex life.

SAL

Not really.

HANK

TMI, right?

GUY

Not really!

HANK

Then may I reveal that I installed a mirror on our bedroom ceiling? Wait til I tell you what happened next!

SAL goes to the fridge, empties the contents of her container into the blender adds another liquid from the fridge blends them and puts the top back on. She leaves it on top of the bar fridge

HANK

Can you believe that? Hey, where did she come from?

SAL

Hello Hank. I’m Sally, Louise’s mother. Just going upstairs to rest up for tonight, OK?

EXIT SAL

HANK

What’s going on tonight?

GUY

Nothing.

HANK

Anyway, you see me in Death of a Salesman, you are really going to appreciate my Willy. Lou certainly does! Get it? Ow!

TURNS AROUND

You know you do look vaguely familiar to me. Was your picture in the paper recently?

GUY

It’s in that frame over there. I’m Guy.

HANK

Oh! Yes! You’re right! My father-in law! Sorry you missed the wedding. You would have really enjoyed my toast to your daughter. Pause Ironic, you working for her. Nothing to be ashamed of. I know what it’s like to be down and out. I do hope you are here long term. It’s so seldom I have someone who is as attentive.

GUY

Hard to believe.

HANK

I know. .People I meet are so busy! No time to talk. They have to feed their hamster, attend a funeral. Whatever. Pause I’m sure we’ll have time for many, many such chats! Most theater people know nothing about theater history.   What do they talk about, you ask? Mostly themselves!

GUY

Well-

HANK

You can’t get a word in edgewise.   Like, the play’s the thing! That’s a line from-

GUY

Hamlet?

HANK

Exactly! Anyway, those costume people. Just laughed in my face about the cross-dressing thing. OK, so then I suggested we should consider setting Death Of A Salesman back in the Shakespearean era. I mean they do Shakespeare in modern dress, don’t they? You should have heard the reaction! No vision. No vision at all. And you know, “Where there is no vision-

GUY

“The people perish”?

HANK

Did you know that’s from the Bible?

GUY

Proverbs 29 verse 18. King James Version?

HANK

  1. Pause So I went to the director and threatened to quit!

GUY

Quit a Shakespearean version of Death of A Salesman?

HANK

You know what? The show works! But it’s more like something his rival might have written.

GUY

Christopher Marlowe?

HANK

“Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Illium?”

GUY

That’s from Dr. Faustus?

HANK

Correct! You know, you should join my team for trivia night down at the pub. I could use another body. We started out to be a team of four, but it’s just me now. Pause It’s every Thursday. How long are you hoping to work here?

GUY

Not much longer.

HANK

You know what? I’m going to personally see to it that you get the job.   Now, you are not as smooth as Lou.. But I figure, it’s like when I go for a haircut. It’s really about the conversation, isn’t it? Pause  Have you noticed that stylists don’t spend as much time on us as they used to? They just give me a trim. Five minutes. No matter what I want.

GUY

How are you and Louise doing?

HANK

For a wife she’s a great masseuse. She’s a great audience. A great listener. But Lou has her quirks, like everyone else. We can all be irritating at times, can’t we? Ouch! That’s a sore spot. Go easy Pause   Now I’m quite the homebody, except when I’m at rehearsal. Not her. But If she’s having an affair, she’s got to be the greatest actress in the world. Pause You know, you get lonely sometimes with nobody to talk to. Often I’ll catch myself lying in our bed, staring up at that mirror, talking to myself. I actually rehearse my lines that way. I’ll call her, but the calls get dropped in the middle of our conversation. And it’s not like she can’t afford a better phone. She never seems to lack for money that’s for sure. She inherited a pile.

GUY

Yes. From her Aunt Gwendolyn

HANK

Unfortunately I inherited piles too. Hemorrhoids! Lou gives me some herbal thing for them. I take it, even though I think it’s just a placebo. That’s-

GUY

-Some substance that can’t help you, like a sugar pill. Except that if you believe it’s helping you, it can help you.

HANK

Pause Yeah.   Pause. Right there. Careful. Ooh! That exact spot is where I go for expressing pain on stage. I literally have to goose myself. Worked really well for me In King Lear. By the way you are-

GUY

-Rubbing you the right way?

HANK

Not really. You know, Lou worships the ground you walk on. Talks about you all the time, I can hardly shut her up! I’m frankly jealous! But I had no idea you did this. At your age the massage business must be a tough way to make a living.

GUY

Oh, I’m not a massage therapist.

HANK

Jumps off the table

You’re not? My instrument requires a pro, to stay in tune for the stage. Lou did say you taught her everything she knows. So I assumed-

GUY

I’m a bit of a writer actually.

HANK

A writer? That’s a tough way to make a living.

GUY

Frankly, I’m not making a living. That’s why I’m here, to be honest. I’m hoping she’ll see fit to advance me a loan, just until my next book comes out, of course.

HANK

I originally wanted to be a writer myself. I came up with a title. A Year’s Worth of Thoughts. Catchy, eh? But every time I sat down in front of my laptop, I had no thoughts.

GUY

Well you have to have an interest in other-

HANK

-I have lots of interests.   I can’t choose between them. The reason you are so down and out is that people don’t read anymore. They play video games, or go on Facebook with their imaginary friends, a generation of illiterates who only want to watch cat videos all day. Consequently, the theater is dying, sad to say.

GUY

It must be a tough way to make a living. What does Equity pay you?

HANK

Actors Equity? The union? I’m not a union guy. Equity houses are pricing themselves out of business. Producers are leaving the country! That why Mexico has such a vibrant theater scene. This is amateur theater, buddy. This is no pay! I’d be in the same boat as you, if it weren’t for Lou. Death is my first show in ages! Do you know what I’m reduced to? The last paying gig I had was in Marat/Sade.

GUY

The play that’s set in an nineteenth century insane asylum?

HANK

Why yes. Of course I played the Marquis De Sade. Guess where we performed the show?

GUY

In an actual insane asylum?

HANK
Oh no! A Forensic Mental Health Care Facility. It’s a great way of sneaking a prison into town without a lot of fuss from the neighbors. We just had someone escape. He’s still out there! People are terrified! And the authorities aren’t releasing any information. No description,name, nothing! Why?

GUY

Sounds like a deliberate low profile strategy. It’s all about public relations. They are certain they’ll get him, so their number one priority is to avoid the spotlight, inflaming public opinion. It’s a mistake.

HANK

Lax security, yet it’s full of guys who decapitated their in-laws with a machete! Can you imagine such a thing?

GUY

Actually, I can.

HANK

Anyway. The deal was that some of the inmates would play the mob. Like the play would be therapy for them, and fifty bucks apiece for us actors. I guess I was so convincing as DeSade that these crazies started coming out of the wings talking building a guillotine!

GUY

GUY sniffs, goes to the container on the bar fridge removes the top and sniffs again.

Holy crap!

HANK

Yes, that’s how convincing I was. They literally chased me off the stage and out of the auditorium, trashing the place along the way, thank God! That allowed me to beat them to my car. In high heels and nineteenth century dress! The cops thought I was a drag queen! They wanted to charge me for inciting a riot!

GUY

That stinks!

HANK

Tell me about it!   What did all the mayhem cost us? Our fifty bucks each! You can imagine how popular I was with my peers. But it couldn’t be helped.   Is that smoothie for me?

GUY

There is a silence

Yes.

Maybe later. Pause Anyway, that’s how bad it is out there for us actors. Forget the classics! It’s all revivals and musicals about dead country and western performers. You know, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash. A band and a singer. No plot, a little dialogue, and one hurting song after another. That’s the formula. You could almost hear the cheering when Waylon Jennings kicked it. Fresh material!   People who should be imprisoned for life in Dollywood or Branson flock to these things.

There is a silence as Guy takes another whiff and replaces the blender in the bar fridge

The stage is a vipers nest of narcissism. And a lot of them are Brits. Or Brit wannabes with their fake accents.Say, is your accent genuine?

GUY

I think so.

HANK

They say it raises your perceived IQ by fifty points. Not for me it doesn’t! God knows what dreary northern industrial wasteland they hail from

GUY

I hail from Bournemouth, in the south. Originally

HANK

Oh, that’s where they tried to assassinate Margaret Thatcher!

GUY

Yes, with a bomb.

 

HANK

Speaking of bombs, when a play I’m in does bomb, I’m usually the only actor that gets a good review. The next thing I know I’m searching for another theater. Jealousy!   Anyway, Willy Loman is a role I’ve always coveted. But I’ve had tougher roles. And a story for each role I’ve ever played. Now where should I start?

Enter LOU, who runs right past HANK and embraces her father.

LOU

Daddy! Thank God you’re here!

GUY

Likewise, I’m sure, Louise. You know I think the world of you.

HANK

But what do you think of me, Pops? Do I pass the test?

There is a silence

GUY

I can honestly say, I’ve never met anyone like you.

 

BLACKOUT

 

ACT ONE SCENE TWO

Later that afternoon. GUY, SAL and LOU are having a drink.

GUY

He’s horrible!

LOU

He’s not so bad.

GUY

How do you put up with him? Well, I know how. He told me. You disappear.

SAL

Are you having an affair?

LOU

God no!

GUY

Well I would if I were you.

SAL

Yes you would.

GUY

You barely exist. You are just a tiny planet orbiting around his sun. You need to change galaxies! He’s a vampire sucking the life out of you. Have you ever seen his reflection in that ceiling mirror he’s so proud of?

SAL

Why on earth did you marry him?

LOU

  1. It was my Massage Day at the Forensic Psych Unit at the hospital. My clients were so excited because they had roles in this play. Wanted me to see the matinee.   The curtain goes up, and there he is in all his finery. He looks great!   And that voice! I melt! But he seems to be upstaging the other actors. Not just because he is so much better. He’s on stage acting like a second director. Where they should stand, and a couple of times he stops the show and makes clients repeat a line until they have it down to his satisfaction. Anybody would have been angry, but my clients weren’t the most stable. So they rush him off the stage and chase him right out of the auditorium. When I go out to the parking lot they are rocking his car! I calm them down, and get in the car with him. He has a badly sprained ankle so we go to Emergency. That takes hours because while he is fitted for his walking boot, don’t his piles flare up. Then the cops show! Inciting a riot! After I post bail I drive him back here, offer him a drink and tell him how impressed I am with his performance. One massage later we are engaged!   I thought “OK he’s an eccentric genius I can fix him”.

SAL

Trust me you can’t fix him

LOU

And I think if I could fix him he wouldn’t be a genius anymore. So here we are.

GUY

I heard a slightly different version from him, except you were never even mentioned!

LOU

Anyway, I’m not going to have an affair. I’m busying myself setting up my restaurant.

GUY

Restaurant? Here? In this house?

LOU

This house is zoned commercial. While I wait on the paperwork, and the inspections, I do massages.

GUY

What kind of massages?

SAL

You are aware Louise is a Registered Massage Therapist, not some kind of cheap hooker?

LOU

Business is good. So good in fact that I’m hiring a part timer for when I’m busy. Right mum?

GUY

That’s why you are here? So Flipper mistook me for your mother?

LOU

His name is Hank

GUY

Flipper is a self-reported dolphin, OK?

SAL

Hank. Is he working on a dude ranch?

GUY

So I thought, “Why not try my luck at massage?” Did a pretty good job too.

SAL

It’s easier if you put oil on first.

LOU

So what did you tell him?

GUY

I’m an author. No money. Hoping for a loan from you. What did you want me to say?

SAL

You might have told him that you are an award-winning drama, critic for a start.

GUY

You never made that mistake, I hope..   Do I have to go?

SAL

You seem to always have to go.

GUY

To his play.

LOU

He is counting on you being there. He already bought the ticket. He’s really very good.

SAL

Really? Have you seen him in other things?

LOU

He hasn’t worked in the six months we’ve been married, so no.

SAL

It’s not work if you aren’t getting paid!

LOU

It’s work. He works hard. It’s a tough role. He has dedicated himself to it. I run lines with him and he is very talented. Head and shoulders above. I just don’t want to be married to him any longer. You know, he always thinks that someone in the audience will be his millionaire patron and send him to Broadway.

GUY

Oh, so that’s why I’m here!

SAL

You and your alimony payments know better than that, Daddy.

LOU

You are here because you are going to get me out of this marriage, one way or the other.

SAL

You’ve done it for yourself three times, after all.

LOU

Now it’s my turn!

GUY
I know some blokes.

LOU

You can’t kill him, no matter how much you want to.

GUY

How do we get in touch with the escaped killer?

LOU

Daddy, that’s not funny. It makes me nervous knowing he’s out there!

SAL

As you know there are only two conditions attached to your Aunt Gwendolyn’s bequest. First you are to use the money to improve the planet.

GUY

Now, if you hired Mr. Escaped Killer to ice Flipper, that would qualify!

LOU

I told you.

SAL

The second thing is that if you divorce, the monthly stipend disappears. So what I propose is that you two live apart but remain married. Problem solved.

LOU

He won’t do it!

SAL

Have you asked? Your father and I did it. Several times.

LOU

He relies on me to help him with his lines, to listen to him. He loves me for that. He will never let me live apart.

GUY

Do it anyway!

LOU

He has this Catholic morality thing, like Aunt Gwendolyn. He would never cheat on me or live with someone else.

SAL

You listening to this, Guy?

GUY

Then live without Gwendolyn’s money. Get a real job!

LOU

This restaurant is a real job! Your hors d’oeuvres will come straight from a farm that is proudly committed to chemical free, poly-cultural, beyond-organic agriculture!

GUY

Beyond organic? Well. Those poor sods who are stuck at organic are now in your rear view mirror!

LOU

Don’t tease. My target demographic is people who are into Druidic herbalism, forest gardening, and cosmoculture.

GUY:

There are no people like that.

LOU

You would be surprised.

GUY

Cosmoculture? So your wait staff will have to wear push-up bras? That should bring in the lads for an evening of mad passionate herbalism!

LOU

Daddy! This is the future of dining!

SAL

And it’s living up to Aunt Gwendolyn’s wishes,.

GUY

OK, OK. I just don’t know what I can do for you.

SAL

Where is he, anyway?

LOU

He’ll be back soon.

GUY

So let’s go shopping!

LOU

He’s that bad?

GUY

I just thought it might be a nice thing for the two of us to do.

LOU

Daddy are you still sick?

SAL

You know what killed your Aunt Gwendolyn.

LOU

That virus that she got in the hospital

SAL

Yes. C difficile.

LOU

And you got it too?

GUY

When I went in hospital for my cochlear implant. It didn’t work and my hearing is still bad, and I got this thing and it’s getting worse with the diarrhea.

LOU

You still have it?

GUY

My doctor says there’s a new therapy called a fetal transplant. I told him I didn’t believe in using fetuses for medicine.   Walked out of his office before he could say another word.

SAL

That’s why I’m here.   I’m going to cure you!

GUY

Good luck! Are you going to feed me.chemical free, poly-cultural, beyond-organic pills and hope for the placebo effect?

SAL

Something like that.

LOU

So let’s celebrate!

GUY

Let me treat. What can I buy you?

LOU and SAL

A vibrator.

BLACKOUT

 

ACT ONE SCENE THREE

It’s the next morning. HANK and MORT are chatting,   HANK is dressed in street clothes except for his ruff.

MORT

Do you realize that this is the first time I’ve been in your house since the wedding?

HANK

Did I ever tell you I was once a Mortimer?

MORT

It’s Mort! Remember?

HANK

In Arsenic and Old Lace, these two little old ladies are poisoning homeless guys and stuffing their bodies temporarily in a window seat. I am playing Mortimer, their nephew,who is horrified to discover this. So we are rehearsing and these two old babes just aren’t into it. So I thought if we added some realistic details it might help. The props guy was an undertaker see, so I arranged for a different fresh body to be inserted each performance. It made the world of difference! Problem was, one of the old babes went into shock onstage. She transformed from “ditzy” to “psychotic” before our very eyes. But know what? That plays. The other one seemed to get overly fond of the corpse. I guess she thought all the stiffness was in her honor. So she tried to drag him out of the window seat the better to have her way with him! And she tried that every performance even though it was a different guy each time! Yeah. A serial necrophiliac! The show was supposed to run two weeks, but The Department of Health closed it down due to the smell. Well, to make a long story short-

MORT

-You never make a long story short. Coming over to my house and crying your eyes out.

HANK

I wasn’t feeling well. I drank something that didn’t agree with me, OK?

MORT

She sees her father for the first time in forever, she rushes past you to plant one on him and you are suicidal?

HANK

It was like I wasn’t in the room! It’s not just that. She’s gone all the time! She doesn’t love me anymore!

MORT

How is the sex life?

HANK

Well you know we have-

MORT

The mirror on the ceiling, yeah.

HANK

So why?

MORT

I’ll tell you why! You have got to start thinking about somebody other than yourself. You need to be a little more sensitive to others. Specifically to your wife!

HANK

How do I do that? You’ve got to help me here. You were Best Man at my wedding!

MORT

That happened because I came to your door, canvassing for fibromyalgia. Felt sorry for you and then you have the nerve to stiff me!

HANK

I’m sorry! I didn’t have fibromyalgia!

MORT

OK, Ok. Look, remember when you had that accident next door?

HANK

Yes, I did run over the widow’s dog. But I had just got the role of Willy Loman and my mind was elsewhere. It could happen to anyone.

MORT

Then you backed up and did it all over again!

HANK

I panicked! Anyway I got out of my car, had a long talk with her about the play, and all I had to go through to get that part. Then I gave her a couple of tickets. I could hardly understand a word she was saying after the crying stopped. And I apologized for a good half hour after that.

MORT

She’s profoundly deaf! From a diving accident! It affects her speech. Hearing aids can’t help her.

HANK

How do you know all this?

MORT

She’s my neighbor. She lives between you and me. We just walked past her house to get here. Ergo, she is also your neighbor! Show some interest in other people!

HANK

Well she really enjoyed our conversation.

MORT

She was pretending. She’s sensitive about her disability.

HANK

No, she must have read my lips.

MORT

Read my lips! It was pitch dark! See, that’s what I am talking about. You need to be a little more sensitive. Actually, let’s lower the bar. You need to be perceived as being a little more sensitive. That’s why Lou doesn’t love you any more.

HANK

She doesn’t? Oh, God. What do I do?

MORT

The widow got a new dog.

HANK

I know. It barks all the time when I’m running lines and she does nothing!

MORT

Yeah, you would think she was deaf. So you go over there and you offer to take her dog for a walk, see?

HANK

Why?

MORT

Well, for one thing, you are making up for transforming her former pet-for-life into roadkill. And people, especially women, see a guy with a dog, they assume he is interested in other beings.

HANK

I’m not interested in other women! I love Lou!

MORT

You stop and strike up a conversation. No you don’t! Don’t do that. Let them strike up a conversation. You shut up, and don’t say a word about your stupid play! Got it?

HANK

I can’t say anything?

MORT

You are walking your disabled neighbor’s dog for her. That’s it! Mention that to whoever you happen to meet. Make it short.   But don’t tell Lou! You are too modest to mention it to her.

HANK

I am?

MORT

No you are not. But you are pretending to be. It’s a small town. Let word get back to her by itself, OK?

HANK

OK, I think I can do that. It’s like acting.

MORT

In your case it’s definitely acting.

HANK

But suppose the dog takes a dump?

MORT

Before you start, get the widow to give you a dog bag. Then pay attention. The dog will signal you when he’s got one brewing.

HANK

How?

MORT

Just pay attention to him. If the dog takes a crap, you bend down, put your hand in the bag, and turn the bag inside out, OK? Then you scoop and turn the bag back to normal. Be sure to face the wind.

HANK

Then what do I do with it? Put it in my pocket?

MORT

Good idea. If anyone asks, tell them you have a colostomy. Now they are really on your side. You are gonna go down like a disabled St Francis of Assisi.

HANK

I can hardly bend over! Lou’s father gave me a vigorous massage yesterday and I think he put my back out. Wait a minute! I could play Willie as a hunchback. Like Richard the Third!

MORT

I can get you something for that. Get your doctor to call in a prescription.

HANK

Lou doesn’t believe in doctors

MORT

Do you?

HANK

I believe they exist. We just don’t have one.

MORT

So I’ll get you something over the counter

HANK

Is that what you do?

MORT

Yes, Hank, Your best friend is a pharmacist.

HANK

Really? Say, I wonder if you could do me a favor.

MORT

You would have to have a doctor’s prescription to obtain Viagra.

HANK

How did you know?

MORT

Just a wild guess.

HANK

This play. It’s very stressful. Anyway, I have to have something herbal.

MORT

For erectile dysfunction? I don’t believe in any of that herbal supplements crap. Don’t sell them.

HANK

No, no! Lou sells them!

MORT

Here? Where are they?

HANK

That’s just it! I don’t know!

MORT

Well ask her for them!

HANK

I can’t. I just can’t.

MORT

I’m supposed to get them for you? From Lou?

HANK

I’ll pay you back.

MORT

There are other places you could go.

HANK

She needs the money.

MORT

So I’m supposed to pretend that I have the problem?

HANK

If it’s not too much trouble, best friend.

MORT

Well,I wanted to check out the lay of the land.

HANK

Pardon?

MORT

See what my competition is up to. So this actually works.   I’m her neighbor, for heaven’s sake. I wave to her. The only time I was ever in her company was at the wedding. Remember how I had to help her get her garter off? So she would probably recognize me.   Does she ever mention me? She probably would hate me anyway, me being a pharmacist. Big Pharma. Do you think she would hate me?

HANK

I cannot pick up dog shit. I can’t risk my back this close to opening night. I’ll just ask whoever to do it for me. I’ll explain everything first.

MORT

Oh, boy. OK, then. Make it short and do not mention opening night.

HANK

  1. I’ll do it! What’s the widow’s name?

MORT

She never told me her first name. Her last name is Brown. And she’s got a lovely daughter. But stay away from her!

HANK

I told you. It’s Lou I love.

MORT

Don’t get too chummy with Mum, either. She’s been married seven times! And the last one was a Hank.

HANK

Like me.

MORT

That’s probably why she divorced him. That’s where your marriage is headed if you don’t shape up!

HANK

I’ll do it! I’ll go over right now! Can you come with me?

MORT

You’re afraid of dogs?

HANK

No! Dogs love me!

 

MORT

Great. I’ll hang here and buy your stuff. But I’m a little tired. The widow’s dog woke me up at the crack of dawn Just need to rest my eyes for a few minutes. OK?

HANK

Sure. I’ll be back to tell you all about it.

MORT

Lying down on the massage table

Yeah. Make sure it’s the condensed version.

Blackout

 

ACT ONE SCENE FOUR

MORT is still dead to the world on the massage table. Enter SAL, in the process of delivering another blender to the bar fridge. From offstage we hear a toilet flush. Enter GUY.

 

SAL

Who is Sleeping Beauty?

GUY

Some guy you massaged to death? What is that?

SAL

Replacement Poop.

GUY

Poop. You a practical joker? I’m supposed to mistake it for chocolate?

SAL

Well somebody did.

GUY

Not I. Aren’t you supposed to be helping Lou out? With massages? You’ve been here all morning.

SAL

I’m on call. You want one?

GUY

After what you did to that guy? No thank you. No offense.

SAL

None taken. That’s the third time you have used the bathroom this morning.

GUY

Who’s counting?

SAL

I’m thinking watery diarrhea.

GUY

Can we agree no poop talk, doctor?

SAL

I’m a nurse.

GUY

Lou hired you to keep an eye on me didn’t she? Well you can go home. I don’t need nursing.

SAL

But you are sick. Diarrhea, cramping, swollen abdomen. You have had several bouts of it and now antibiotics aren’t working for you are they? Well I can help you!

GUY

Oh really? How?

SAL

My poop.

GUY

Say that again.

SAL

My poop is perfect.

GUY

Well, I’m happy for you.

SAL

I have been thoroughly screened. My poop is in the top three per cent.

GUY

Are you boasting or gloating?

SAL

Back home, every day I donate to the hospital.

GUY

Well, congratulations, Mother Teresa of Poop

SAL

The hospital uses it to treat C.Difficile. That’s why I have brought my samples in the fridge. See you are missing important items in your digestive tract. My poop can replace what you lack. It’s called a fecal transplant.

GUY

Fetal?

SAL

No. Fecal! F-e-c-a-l. Fecal. It’s like talking to Helen Keller!

There is a silence.

GUY

I am not eating your poop! I’d rather die!

SAL

That could happen. But I can treat you here and now. Without you eating anything. Trust me.

GUY

So how….?

SAL goes to the fridge takes out the blender.

I’m definitely not drinking that!

SAL

No you are not. It will involve me seeing your butt.

GUY

It’s changed. It’s not the butt you once knew.

SAL

We have the technology!

She takes it out of the drawer.

GUY

Years ago I said I wasn’t going to take more shit from you. So I’m keeping my word.

SAL

For once.

GUY

An enema? Was I that bad a husband?

SAL

Within three days more than ninety percent of sufferers are cured.

There is a silence, punctuated by Mort’s snoring.

GUY

What about Rip Van Winkle?

SAL

Then let’s go upstairs.

GUY

How many times have you said that in your life?

SAL

Not enough.

She gathers the “smoothie” and paraphernalia

GUY

I hardly know you.

SAL

First we are going to shower.

GUY

Together?

SAL

Upstairs!

 

ACT TWO SCENE ONE

MORT is still asleep on his stomach on the massage table. Enter LOU. She approaches so as not to awaken him. After a moment she touches his hair. Then strokes his back. This turns into a light massage.

 

MORT

Lou.

LOU

Freezes

Yes?

MORT

Lou.

LOU

What?

MORT

Lou.

LOU

Louder

What is it?

MORT

Waking

What time is it?

LOU

You were talking in your sleep.

MORT

I never do that.

LOU

How would you know? Pause You were saying “Lou”

MORT

That’s your name!

LOU

Yes. I know. Why were you doing that?

There is a silence

MORT

I was having a nightmare. It was about…….cats!

LOU

Didn’t sound like a nightmare.

MORT

But it was. See, I am mortally afraid of cats.

LOU

So Mort is Mortally afraid? That’s funny!

MORT

Not to me. My parents had a rare Chinese Dragon Cat. Almost smothered me in my crib! So I have this recurring nightmare where all these Dragon Cats stalk me. Their eyes. You never forget their eyes. I should have woken up screaming, but in this version, the cats had all been declawed, so they were padding me to death. Sort of like the Chinese water torture And they had me on my stomach, see, and were prancing around on my back, all cat-like and giving me the odd pad just to show me who was boss. And purring. But it was an evil purr! Then they all cried out in unison! But instead of going “mew”, they were going “Lou”

LOU

It was actually me giving you a light massage.

MORT

Were you purring?

LOU

No!

MORT

I heard purring

LOU

In your dreams.

MORT

Isn’t that what I’ve been saying? Why were you touching me?

LOU

Massaging. A light massage. You looked tired.

MORT

You woke me up!

LOU

Well I haven’t talked to you since you removed my garter at my wedding.

MORT

I sensed you were offended.

LOU

Why did you volunteer?

MORT

Well, if you’ll remember, your husband was making the toast to the bride, in which he was incorporating some of the funny stories that happened to him during his acting career, starting with the Arsenic and Old Lace story. That old chestnut is actually funny. The first time you hear it. At about the forty-five minute mark, some man in the crowd with a shorter attention span suggested that someone do the remove-the-garter thing and you throw the bouquet.

LOU

That was you!

MORT

There weren’t many candidates. The hall was almost empty at that point. Those present were mostly drunk, including the ten-year-old ring bearer. He caught your bouquet, by the way. I was just trying to hurry things along. And I thought the sight of me removing your garter would convince the groom that it was time to wrap it up.

LOU

Why did you take so long?

MORT

I’m not very good with my hands. Plus you don’t want to hurry such things. Especially when the drunks are hooting and you can’t focus very well for some reason. And there might have been a slight wardrobe malfunction as well.

LOU

What happened to my garter?

MORT

Oh, I kept it. You haven’t talked to me since. So I guess I really came to apologize. Oh, and to ask for some herbal thing for erectile dysfunction.

LOU

You don’t suffer from that!

MORT

How do you know? You only ever met me once. Oh!

LOU

Yeah. Oh!

MORT

It’s for a friend, actually.

LOU

That’s a cliché.

MORT

It’s for Hank, OK? For some reason he doesn’t want Viagra. No doctor prescription allowed he says. And he’s too embarrassed to ask you for something. My guess is you have been giving him something all along, and it’s just not working.

LOU

I have not been giving him anything!

MORT

What? You’ve been relying on prayer? Just as effective as an herb, I’m sure.

LOU

I wasn’t aware he has a problem.

MORT

It’s not that hard to tell it’s not hard.

LOU

I know it’s not hard.

MORT

So do something about it!

LOU

It’s hard!

MORT

Make up your mind!

LOU

It’s hard to know it’s not hard when you aren’t making love. OK?

MORT

He told me the play was stressing him out.

LOU

I’ll start him on some Yohimbe.

MORT

You are going to give him bark from some African tree?

LOU

Clinical trials show it can help.

MORT

Yeah if the guy is depressed. But who sponsored those trials? The African Bark People, that’s who! And what about the side effects?

LOU

Irregular heartbeat and anxiety? That’s nothing compared to the side effects of Viagra. You want an erection that lasts for hours?

MORT

I could live with that.

LOU

Maybe Ginkgo Biloba.

MORT

It doesn’t work! Look, lots of pharmacists sell supplements, but I don’t. The FDA treats them as foods not drugs. So these supplements aren’t subject to the same scrutiny, they can be dangerous, life –threatening.

LOU

What about the thousands of people who have died from pharmaceuticals?

MORT

They were sick! Not looking to be trendy!

LOU

Trendy?

MORT

Why don’t you just give the guy a massage? It worked for me!

LOU

I think you better leave.

MORT

You’re shooting the messenger here.

LOU

Just get out!

MORT

Maybe it’s you.

LOU

What?

MORT

Maybe you don’t have what it takes. You haven’t been making love for ages and you just now decide you are going to do something about it? You scared of passion? Hey, stay away.

LOU

What? You’re afraid Lou is going to slowly sneak up on you, surround you and pad you to death? Is that it, scaredy-cat? Maybe it’s you that doesn’t have what it takes.

They embrace

MORT

We both have what it takes. Now what?

ENTER HANK. He is limping and covered in bandages

 

HANK

I’m back!

 

BLACKOUT

 

ACT TWO SCENE TWO

It is a minute later Mort and Hank are alone

MORT

What happened to you?

HANK

OK, I go see the neighbor. She’s a widow.

MORT

Really.

HANK

Brown is her last name. Been married seven times before. The last one was a Hank.

MORT

Do tell.

HANK

In fact, they were all Hanks!   She introduced me to her daughter. She’s lovely.

MORT

Didn’t I tell you to stay away from her?

HANK

She just brought the dog out for me. I’m not interested in her.

MORT

Good because you could go to jail for that.

HANK

She’s twenty-one, OK?

MORT

Seriously? What’s the bitch’s name? Methusela?

HANK

No. It’s Trixie. Drives an old Camaro.

MORT

The dog can drive?

HANK

She’s not a dog. She’s very pretty. Pause Ok. I get it . Very funny.

MORT

So you walked the dog around town, told everyone you met about the favor you were doing for a poor old widow-woman in as concise a way as possible, and moved on to the next. Then you were set upon by the Crazy Escaped Killer but managed heroically to beat him off.

HANK

No!

MORT

Then you were set upon by your psychotic old actress from Arsenic and Old Lace who immediately recognized and attacked you, scratching and biting you.

HANK

No.

MORT

Then you were set upon by a flock of Chinese Dragon Cats with claws!

HANK

No!   See, I never took the dog for a walk.

MORT

Why not?

HANK

I was going to but we got talking.

MORT

You and the widow.

HANK

That’s how I found out all those things about her. I was doing what you asked! Being more sensitive!

MORT

You’ve been gone for two hours.

HANK

Well, I did tell her a little about myself. A conversation isn’t supposed to be a monologue, is it?

MORT

You filled her ear for two hours?

HANK

How could I? She’s deaf! Anyway, as time went on, I noticed the dog was getting a little restless. You, know, whining, and growling.

MORT

Growling?

HANK

So the widow motioned I should let him off the leash. That’s when he attacked me! Jumped up on me, knocked me down, grabbed me by the trouser leg, and pulled me across the driveway to her lawn. I guess that’s where he does his business, because he dragged me through a bunch of dog shit, stood on my chest to hold me down and commenced to pee all over me!

MORT

You were so wrapped up about yourself with the widow, you never noticed that her puppy needed to take a leak? Didn’t I tell you to pay attention to it? Poetic justice: Fido gets pissed off you get pissed on. But dogs love you, right? What kind of dog was it? A Rottweiler? Pit Bull?

HANK

I don’t know from dogs! It was big. Big teeth. Big floppy ears. Big fluffy coat. Kind of a golden color.

MORT

You pissed off a Golden Retriever, the most vicious of them all.

HANK

So the widow invites me in to get cleaned up. I’m in shock, OK? So the next thing I know, we are in the shower together!

MORT

You and the widow?

HANK

No! Me, Trixie and Peaches..

MORT

You showered with fruit?

HANK

Peaches is the widow’s name. Her daughter’s name is Trixie.

MORT

I told you to stay away from her!

HANK

Trixie was just there to translate! Nothing happened. Oh, by the way, you can cancel that favor I asked you for. Anyway they just cleaned me up, got out the iodine and the bandages. I think they were afraid I was going to have the dog put down. Or sue them or something.

MORT

A neighbor’s dog bites you, their home insurance pays you five grand, no questions asked.

HANK

But how could I do that to my neighbors? They were so grateful. I think Peaches took a shine to me. She said she and Trixie saw me in a show I did at the Nut House! She’s my number one fan! At least if Trixies translation was accurate. It was so refreshing to have someone pay such attention to me. Peaches’ eyes hardly ever left my face for a minute. And Trixie wanted to tie me up. She’s my number two fan!

MORT

Tie you up?

HANK

Kinky, eh? But I would never cheat on Lou. I’m a married man.

MORT

You could always get a divorce I suppose.

HANK

I don’t believe in divorce. I’m married to Lou as long as she is alive.

MORT

Yeah. It’s such a drag being hooked up with a dead person.

HANK

You know what I mean. Divorce would break her heart. I couldn’t do that to her even if I wanted to.

MORT

I suppose they will have to understudy you tonight.

HANK

Miss the premiere? No way. These are literally just scratches.

MORT

You are limping.

HANK

From my fall, yes. But that’s perfect. Willy should limp! He’s worn out. He has these sample cases he has to haul around. It serendipity!

MORT

They had suitcases in Shakespeare’s time?

HANK

Damn it, Mort, you’re a Pharmacist, not a Drama Critic! Leave the symbolism to the experts, OK? I still have my walking boot from the last time, so that will work.

Enter SAL and GUY

SAL

Here’s your walking boot. I can’t find the first aid kit anywhere!

MORT

It’s OK He’s gonna be alright.

GUY

Surely you are not taking the stage tonight.

HANK

Putting the boot on.

Call me anything, just don’t call me Shirley. Get it?

Enter LOU

GUY

You heard it, Lou. Flipper just said I can call him anything.

HANK

I have to get ready! Look at the time!

LOU

We haven’t run our lines yet!

HANK

That’s alright I ran them with the widow next door while my clothes were drying.

LOU

Oh.

HANK

It’s really hard to do in the shower. I couldn’t help but think of that scene in the film version of The Miracle Worker. Anne Bancroft, playing Helen Keller’s tutor, wrestles her under a pump and water comes splashing down on Patty Duke’s hand, see? Patty is playing Helen, and she responds with, “Wawa”! Of course the difference is that Patty had all her clothes on. The play’s much better than the film, by the way.

MORT

Wawa?

HANK

That’s how Peaches says “water”. The acoustics were much better in the bedroom, thank God.

LOU

Peaches?

HANK

That’s Widow Browns real name. Peaches. What? Did you think it was “Widow”?

LOU

Must be a nickname.

HANK

Nope. It’s on her birth certificate. Would you believe she’s forty-five? She won that bet! Put her next to you, and you couldn’t tell who was the younger! Did you know that Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke both won Oscars for that film? I’ll bet you don’t know the name of the character Bancroft played.

GUY

Annie Sullivan.

HANK

You’re good. I tried that one out on Trixie and she didn’t have a clue.

LOU

Trixie?

HANK

That’s Peaches daughter. I don’t know whether that’s her real name or just her tattoo name. She was a big help in the bedroom. That’s where we ran the lines.

LOU

Because of the acoustics.

HANK

She had the script when I got stuck. We were quite the threesome. I have to get dressed now!

HANK exits

LOU

“My number one fan”. How many times has she been married?

MORT

Seven. Seven times before. She’s quite charming, actually.

GUY

So have you heard enough, Louise? Your husband has a threesome in the shower with two women named Peaches and Trixie. Did I tell you I know a guy?

LOU

Relax Daddy.

MORT

Lou’s right. Hank told me he’s not attracted to, uh, Trixie in the least. He told me that he would never cheat on your daughter or divorce her as long as she lived.

GUY

But he’s attracted to that deaf tramp, Peaches!

LOU

Daddy!

MORT

She‘s his number one fan. That’s the attraction. That’s it.

LOU

I’m surprised, you sticking up for my husband.

MORT

He’s my best friend. It’s the least I could do for him after everything that’s happened recently. Besides, he’s too in love with himself to be much of a lover, whether we’re talking Peaches, Trixie, or Helen Keller. I wouldn’t be worried about him cheating if I were you. He told me you would have to be dead before he would let himself move on

There is a silence.

GUY

Do you think…..?

LOU

Hank would never hurt me.

MORT

He wouldn’t hurt a fly.

GUY

Suppose the Escaped Killer wasn’t the killer.

MORT

What are you talking about?

GUY

Suppose someone was killing people at night but had the perfect alibi. “I was at rehearsal”!

LOU

Hank is at rehearsal every night. He’s way too busy to be a killer.

GUY

Amateurs don’t rehearse every night. Three times a week at most.

SAL

So how is he doing it? Boring people to death?

MORT

And where are the bodies? In the window seat?

GUY

If it were me, I would use a knife, but I would trick my victim into thinking it was one of those collapsible prop knives, lure her into a false sense of security.

SAL

If you are serious, I want my poop back. It’s obviously made you bonkers.

GUY

Actually,I’m starting to feel better already. Fine I’ll see you all at the theater.

MORT

“I want my poop back”?

GUY exits

ENTER Hank dressed in Elizabethan garb with bandages and walking boot. He has a dagger in his hand and a pair of pantyhose over his face.

MORT

Did they have 7-11s in Elizabethan times? Because you look like you’re about to rob one.

LOU

Are you nervous, Honey?

HANK

No. Are you?

LOU

What do I have to be nervous about?

HANK

Well, I wonder if you could help me through this one speech before we go. For those of you unfamiliar with Death of A Salesman, we learn that Willie in the past had a tryst with a women in a motel in exchange for a pair of nylon stockings.

SAL

Willie is transgender now?

HANK

No! the stockings are for the secretary of one of his buyers. But that’s a great idea. I could wear a kilt! Pause  The stockings may have been intended for his wife, Linda. This affair haunts his present consciousness and his conscience. He realizes it’s his own fault. It’s literally all on his head.   So Lou could you play the secretary?. I grab you and confront you.

SAL

With the dagger?

LOU

It’s alright, Mummy. I’d be happy to.

HANK

That’s why she’s my third biggest fan!

SAL

Louise!

LOU

It’s fine.

HANK

I’ll need your feedback. So try to be an attentive audience. Here goes:

“My poor body, madam, requires it; I am driven on by the flesh, and must needs go where the devil drives. I served the lust of my mistress’ heart, and did the act of darkness with her. Your wives, your daughters, your matrons and your maids could not fill up the cistern of my lust. I have no words! Is this a dagger I see before me?!

HANK raises the dagger and plunges it into LOU. She screams. MORT tackles HANK and falls on top of the two of them.

HANK

What did you do that for?

HANK extricates himself from the pile and plunges the dagger into himself. It telescopes. It is a prop.

HANK

So what did you think? Does it work?

HANK Checks his watch

Never mind. I’m going to be late! See you there. Try to get a seat in the front row.

EXIT HANK

BLACKOUT

 

ACT TWO SCENE TWO

It’s three hours later. The massage table looks like it’s been hit by a truck. MORT is just waking up with LOU standing over him.

LOU

My hero awakens!

There is a silence

I am sore all over!

MORT

I’m sorry. I thought it was real.

LOU

You weigh a ton!

MORT

I’m trying to diet.

LOU

You actually thought….

MORT

I was trying to save your life!

LOU

I told you, he would never hurt me. Aren’t you the one who said he wouldn’t hurt a fly? You just saw an opportunity to jump on me!

MORT

I thought I was your hero!

LOU

You caught me in a weak moment. Pardon me while I embroider a scarlet “A” on my….tunic.

MORT

I love you.

LOU

I’m married.

MORT

Didn’t stop him. You want to have a shower? We could invite Peaches to translate.

LOU

It’s Trixie who translates for Peaches. Try to keep up. Anyway, He would never be unfaithful to me. As long as we are married. And he doesn’t believe in divorce. So there’s no chance.

MORT

He can’t stop you from divorcing him. You separate and after a year you can get a divorce. You are free!

LOU

To marry you? It would never work!

MORT

Would you want it to?

LOU

I’d like to get to know you first!

MORT

Well, I think we both just did that. What’s to know?

LOU

Look, I can’t leave him and I won’t cheat on him. Anymore than I already have.

MORT

You kissed me!

LOU

No, you kissed me!   OK? I divorce him and I lose my Aunt Gwendolyn’s inheritance.

MORT

I’m a pharmacist! I’m loaded! Look, I’ll even start selling herbal supplements to the unwary, OK? They are a license to print money! It will totally offset anything you lose by divorcing him. I’d do that for you, even though it goes against my principles

LOU

So you would buy me off? I would prefer you keep your principals. It’s one of the things I love about you, for Pete’s sake! Even though you are completely misguided about herbal supplements. See, we are completely incompatible!

MORT

You just said you loved me.

LOU

I said I admired your principals.

MORT

You’re lying there and your husband takes off! And you love the guy?

LOU

I do not love Hank. I invited my father here to find a way out. But there is no way out for me. And I will not be dependant on any man’s money Got that?

MORT

Yeah? What about the late Aunt Gwendolyn?

LOU

She’s a woman. Pause Look, you just witnessed his soliloquy. Do you think the play is going to be a big hit? This thing he has worked so hard on is going to be a laughing stock! He will be crushed! Hank is going to need me more than ever! You should go. They will be back soon and you are not going to want to witness the aftermath. Oh God, they’re back already!

ENTER GUY and SAL

LOU

Well?

GUY

I’ve never seen anything like it!

MORT

That bad, huh?

GUY

It was tremendous! A tour de force! The audience was enthralled!

MORT

No!

GUY

Yes, yes, yes!

LOU

Really? I’m so happy for him!

MORT

But what do you know?

SAL

Yes. He’s only the drama correspondent for The Times of London!

GUY

It’s bizarre, it’s outrageous, it’s provocative, and it works! That’s the first line of my review. But you know what really made it? The play within the play! The beginning of Act Two ,Biff and Happy walk off the stage pull this Trixie out of her front row seat and arrest her! They were undercover cops!

SAL

That would explain the acting.

MORT

What for?

SAL

Apparently they got a call from her mother. Couldn’t understand why she was so upset. Cops raid the place and find her tied up in Trixie’s bedroom.

MORT

Trixie is the escapee? I told Hank to stay away from her!

GUY

If, I’m the Director, I’m including that in every performance! Pack our bags, Sal, we are taking the red-eye to Edinburgh!

SAL

You want me to go with you? Why?

GUY

Why do you think?

SAL

You just want me for my poop!

GUY

But you are so much more than that!

SAL

Good enough.

EXIT SAL

LOU

Edinburgh?

GUY

I just got off the phone with a friend in Edinburgh. We’ve got a spot in the Fringe Festival!

LOU

That’s wonderful!

GUY

The rest of the cast aren’t going anywhere, trust me. But when we fill in with some Fringe regulars that thing will really take off. Mark my words, it will be premiering in the West End by autumn! He’s going to be a very rich man, your husband. I just hope it’s enough to buy him a personality transplant.

LOU

You know he’ll never change, Daddy.

MORT

All hail the conquering hero!

ENTER HANK, dressed as before.

HANK

It’s a hit! They couldn’t have done it without me! I knocked them dead! Had them in the palm of my hand! You could have heard a pin drop during the suicide scene! I got five standing ovations! They were spellbound! I knew it. I just knew it would work. And I was right! Did your father tell you? I’m going to the Fringe! I’m leaving tonight with him. Did you know he’s some kind of critic? So he’s got all kinds of connections.

LOU

Tonight? That’s impossible!

GUY

The Fringe opens in two days.

HANK

Just me. The rest of the cast didn’t make the cut, right, Pops? We’re going to have real actors in Scotland. What a relief that is!

LOU

I can’t be ready to leave tonight!

HANK

Not to worry. You are not going! I’m divorcing you!

LOU

But you are opposed to divorce!

HANK

But not to Catholic divorce! That’s called Annulment!

LOU

But don’t you need grounds for that?

HANK

Silly! Like I told Peaches on the way back here, you and I have never made love! She said that in the eyes of the Church the marriage was never consummated!

GUY

Peaches is a theologian?

HANK

So there never was a marriage! That way I will never feel guilty about anything I may or may not have done next door! Lucky me! Now Pops, I’m only going based on one stipulation. After what she’s been through, my number one fan has to accompany us!

LOU

I thought I was your number one fan.

HANK

Peaches and Trixie have been obsessed with me ever since they saw me in the Marat Sade we did at the Funny Farm.   Trixie was actually in the cast and flew the Crazy Coop to be closer to me! But after our shower, she realized that she was only my number two fan. So I guess she snapped and tied her mom up so she couldn’t see the show.

GUY

You want Peaches to come to Edinburgh?

HANK

Actually, I was thinking that she might be able to take on the role of Linda, Willy’s wife. She’s older, after all, and I thought it would be really poignant if Linda had a hearing disability. I couldn’t do it without her!

GUY

Then of course she can come! I’ll make the arrangements right away. Why don’t we discuss your unique casting idea on the plane?

HANK

Peaches will be thrilled! Now. We were wondering about Edinburgh. Is it like Vegas?   Can one go through like, a drive–in chapel and get hitched that way? She wants me to change my name to Henry! That’s more of an actor’s name, isn’t it? And Peaches wants to know if they have slot machines. I don’t think they do, any of that. It must be so Presbyterian there, but I thought I should ask for her. I’ll be her eighth husband! Henry the Eighth, get it?   And Lou, there’s something important I want to say to you.

LOU

You are welcome. I’ll never forget the time we spent together. Break a leg, Hank.

HANK

Actually, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind looking after the Brown’s dog while we are gone.

MORT

The Golden Retriever?

HANK

Fido. Yes. But be careful. He’s quite vicious. Actually, I would really appreciate it if you could make it permanent. That dog takes way too much of Peaches’ attention. She can still visit him when we get back next month. After all, we will all be just next door! So I’ll be able to come over for the odd massage when the old back starts acting up.

LOU

I’ll look forward to that. Would you like me to pack your bags for you?

HANK

Wonderful. Just drop them off next door. But hurry, our plane leaves at midnight. Au revoir!

EXIT HANK

LOU

You found a way, Daddy.

LOU embraces him.

GUY

Don’t know what you are talking about. Now I’ve got to pack. He insists on flying in Elizabethan costume, so you won’t have to pack that.

LOU

It will be my pleasure.

EXIT GUY

MORT

My head is spinning! You think your Dad is serious? The play was great?

LOU

It could be the placebo effect. The important thing is that Hank thinks so. And I’m happy that he does. Now I’m going to pack his bag. You go over there and retrieve Fido. They’ll be gone soon.

MORT

Then what? Can we sort this all out?

LOU

I’m sure we can. After we take our shower!

 

CURTAIN

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