Friday, February 24, 2012

English for Beginners: Act 2, Scene One


Morning.  Cold and hard like a hang over.  It is sunny, but not necessarily in a pleasant way.   The sun comes too hard and too hot into the house.
 JULIA sits in a rocking chair with a blanket wrapped around her, a cup of coffee next to her, and a notebook and pen.  She isn’t writing.  She’s looking off into the distance.
 FRANK DELANY enters.  He is in his fifties. He has a beard, and work clothes.  He’s a good looking man with a friendly face.  He is carrying a pile of wood with him.  He stomps up the stairs and ascends to the porch.   Julia doesn’t notice him.  He sees her and hesitates, then makes a decision.

FRANK
Beautiful morning isn’t it?

JULIA screams a little and nearly jumps right out of the chair.

FRANK
Oh, I’m –

JULIA
You scared me –

FRANK
I didn’t –

JULIA
Can I help –

FRANK
My wife said –

JULIA
Oh, right.  Right.  I remember.  Yes.  You’re Mrs. Delany’s husband.

FRANK
Yes. Right. I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean –

JULIA
No.  It’s fine.  Just fine.

FRANK
I thought she told someone -

JULIA
I completely forgot.

FRANK
I’m just dropping off more –

FRANK indicates the wood.

JULIA
Right right.  Yeah.  Go ahead.

FRANK
Thanks.

He puts the wood next to the fire pit.

FRANK
So.  How is the playwrighting retreat going?

JULIA
Just fine.  Thank you.

FRANK
Are you the next Shakespeare yet?

JULIA
No.  Not really.

FRANK
Well.  Keep at it.  I guess.
Pause.
FRANK
I’m going to get more wood.

JULIA
Alright.

FRANK exits.  Julia tries writing again, but fails.
 In the house: AJ enters.  He is in his nightclothes and carries with him a little overnight bag.  He sets up at the dining room table.  He goes to the kitchen and gets a bowl from the cabinet and sits down.  From his bag he pulls out two large medicine bottles.  He empties the contents into the bowl.  He then takes out a medicine sorter and begins picking out the pills he needs for the week and sorting them.  Brian enters.  He is also in his sleep clothes.

BRIAN
What are you doing?

AJ
Making breakfast.

BRIAN
You eat a bowl of pills for breakfast?

AJ
And lunch and dinner.

BRIAN
Like an astronaut.

AJ
Yes.  I am the man of the future.

BRIAN
Sometimes I feel like that.  Every morning I take a pill for my allergies, a pill for depression – I mean it’s homeopathic, but still – two different multi-vitamin pills, and then a pill for my lactose intolerance.  I used to joke with this guy I dated that I was taking my morning cocktail. How can you tell them all apart to know what they are?

AJ
When you spend as much time partying in black lights as I used to, you learn to remember what pill does what pretty quickly.  It’s a trick that stays with you.

BRIAN
It reminds me of those bags of jelly beans.  How you’d have to remember the variations of red so you could tell which was cherry, which was fruit punch and which was cinnamon.  I hate cinnamon.

AJ
Well, these aren’t candy.

BRIAN
Why do you do it like that?

AJ
It’s easier to travel like this then taking hundreds of bottles.  Could you do me a favor? Could you pour me a cup of coffee.  Just black please.  And a glass of water.

BRIAN
Sure.

BRIAN does.  AJ takes a handful of pills and swallows them.

BRIAN
What are those for?

AJ
That’s a new one.  I started taking that one this year when I became immune to the other one.  It makes me sweat.   I may have to change clothes three times today.

BRIAN
And this one?

AJ
It’s just prescription strength Ibuprofen.  Some of these give me headaches.

BRIAN
This one?

AJ
Blood pressure.

BRIAN
This one?

AJ
That’s a jelly bean.

BRIAN
Really?

AJ
No.  Not really.

BRIAN
And this one?

AJ
It protects my liver from all the other ones.

BRIAN
You know, I think it’s just wonderful that AIDS is a – what’s the word? – a maintenance disease.   I mean, it’s great that it doesn’t really matter if you get it any more because you can still live a long life.  I heard somewhere that it’s more likely that gay men will die of heart disease than AIDS if they are on a cocktail.  I just mean it’s wonderful that it’s not a death sentence.  Not like it used to be.

AJ
Thank you Brian for that life affirming statement.  I think I can take it from here by myself.

BRIAN shrugs, gets up and pours himself a cup of coffee that he over-sugars and over-creams and then goes to the couch where he pulls out an iPod and his notebook and notes the time, then starts writing.  He can’t get comfortable and moves around constantly during the rest of the scene. 
FRANK reenters.

JULIA
Do you need help?

FRANK
No.  I’ve got it.  Thank you.
He puts down the wood.
FRANK
You don’t really look dressed for it anyway.

JULIA
Yeah.  I guess.  It just felt like I should ask.

FRANK
Party last night?

JULIA
Yeah. We all got a little too drunk.  I may stay in my pajamas all day.

FRANK
I never could do that.  I’ve always been an early riser.

JULIA
Theatre people tend to be night owls.

FRANK
I can see how that would be.  Well, I’ll be back.

FRANK exits.  On his way down he passes LORELEI who is coming up.  She’s been for a run.  FRANK can’t help but look at her as she passes.  She rips her iPod out of her ears as she runs up to Julia.

LORELEI
I thought you were going to join me for a run.

JULIA
I really wasn’t feeling up to it.

LORELEI
Best thing for a hangover.   Tomorrow then?

JULIA
Probably.  I made some coffee if you want some.

LORELEI
No thanks.  I brought my protein shake mix.  I never drink coffee any more.  I get such a natural high from running, you know?

JULIA
Sure.

Greg (who is sleeping during this scene.)
LORELEI
Took you awhile to come to bed last night.

JULIA
Alex came in late and helped me clean the kitchen.

LORELEI
Really? And…

JULIA
And…we stayed up late and talked and finished a bottle of wine before we went to bed.

LORELEI
I thought you two weren’t fucking anymore.

JULIA
We didn’t go to the same bed. And we’re not.  We’re just friends now.

LORELEI
Ok.  Sure.  Whatever.  But what would be the big deal?  I mean, you two are both free spirits.  You can have a physical relationship that isn’t about meeting each other’s family.

JULIA
I don’t want to get into it.

LORELEI
Fine.  Suit yourself.

LORELEI enters the house.

LORELEI
You’re still here.

AJ
I’m still here.

LORELEI
I thought you were leaving.

AJ
I’ve come up with a plan that I think will bear more fruit than a full retreat.

LORELEI
How very Doctor Evil of you.  You know, if you cut wheat out of your diet and you eat more raw vegetables I bet you wouldn’t have to take so many pills.  I cut wheat out ages ago and I can’t tell you how much better I feel.  Do you run?

AJ
No.

LORELEI
You should.  Have you read Joyce Carol Oats? She talks a lot about running and how much she has gained from it.  I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t run.  We’d all be a better country if we did.  It’s clarifying, you know?  Anyway, I’m off to work.  You probably wont see me till dinner.  I’m glad you’re staying.  I’m glad someone else around here is mature.  I hate it when I feel like I’m babysitting. See you later Doctor Evil.

She exits.  FRANK enters with more wood.

FRANK
This is the last of it.  I’ll be back tomorrow.

JULIA
Great. Thank you.

FRANK
Feel free to give us a call if you need anything else.

JULIA
Will do.

FRANK
So, what are you writing?

JULIA
I don’t know.  I was hoping to come out here and be inspired.

FRANK
What inspires you?

JULIA
I don’t know.

FRANK
So, you don’t know what you’re writing and you don’t know what inspires you.

JULIA
I think that’s why I wanted to come.  I figure being surrounded by all these brilliant people, in this beautiful house, secluded and surrounded by nature: I’d figure it out.

FRANK
I can understand that.  It’s why I moved out here.

JULIA
To be inspired?

FRANK
Yeah, well.  I’m a sometimes painter.

JULIA
Really?

FRANK
I don’t want to talk about it.  I know what it’s like when a hobbyist tells a professional “I know how you feel.”

JULIA
I’m hardly a professional.

FRANK
But you’ve made it a priority, right?  I’m a handyman and a craftsman and a real-estate owner.  I’m not a painter.  You are a playwright.  And that’s it.  Right?

JULIA
I guess so.

FRANK
Don’t say that.  Say…”I am a playwright.”

JULIA
I am a playwright.

FRANK
Like you believe it.

JULIA
I am a playwright.

FRANK
Like you are telling someone to tattoo it on your forehead.

JULIA
What?

FRANK
Just do it.

JULIA
I AM A PLAYWRIGHT!

FRANK
Great.  Now get writing.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

JULIA
See you tomorrow! Oh, I’m Julia by the way.

FRANK
Frank.  See you tomorrow playwright Julia.

JULIA
Tomorrow Wood carrying Frank.  Sorry, that didn't come out right.

FRANK
It's OK.  You can do a rewrite.

FRANK exits. 
Within the house, CLYDE enters.  He pours himself some coffee then he sees AJ still working away at his pills.

CLYDE
Clyde
Holy shit, man.  That is a fuck ton of pills.

AJ
I’m a collector.

CLYDE
Fuck, man.  I mean, holy shit.  Are they keeping you alive?

AJ
Yes.

CLYDE
Fuck, man.  Holy fucking shit.  Who else is up?

AJ
Julia’s outside talking to the Brawny Man.  At least she was. Brian is over there.  And that girl with…all the hair...the hippie.

CLYDE
Lorelei.

AJ
Yeah, she came in and told me to stop eating wheat and start running.

CLYDE
I don’t get that girl.  Have you read her stuff?

AJ
No.  I wasn’t even sure she was a writer.  Who invited her?

CLYDE
Julia.  She says she’s great, but I’m starting to doubt Julia’s taste in people.

AJ
Julia is a welcome mat.  Welcome mats collect mud.

CLYDE
Well said.

End of Scene








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