really is tawdry, Morgan. Vile, in fact. You're a very strange man."
Gillian is dressed quite elegantly, her diminutive figure draped in Oriental silks: an imported Chinese-red blouse with gold filigree and billowed sleeves, a three-quarter-length black skirt, high heels, and an antique shawl. She carries a beaded purse that once belonged to Sarah Bernhardt. She is in a hurry, having finally escaped the greenroom's clique of devotees. She has performed well, though Morgan has not said so, hence her sharp remarks about his part-time job.
"The production has conspicuous flaws: the blocking is affected; the sets call attention to themselves; Janie is miscast; and Hurst has cheapened the performances with an overdose of shtick."
"You hated it."
"In part. But you were stunning."
Gillian maintains pace, despite her relief. Of all the opinions poised to blah, blah, blah on opening night, his (of her) is the one she most respects.
"An inflection in your opening scene. It took me by surprise. Your subtext, whatever it was, came across like gangbusters. Hairs went up on necks all over the house—which was full, by the way."
"The second act."
"What about it?"
"The second act; the whole thing. Didn't even recognize that character. Fascinating. Terrifying. Ending with a blackout added punch. Thought you might have dropped a line, though. Did you?"
Gillian reflects. She had not 'dropped' the line, exactly; something else had happened. Something unfamiliar that had put her on edge. Throughout the show, in fact, she had felt at risk... then lost composure... a brief, if poignant hitch, when the play turned nightmarish.
"The party, of course. It's somewhere in the foothills. You are coming, aren't you?"
Climbing into Gillian's Volks, a '67 classic, Morgan takes the driver's side. Neither speaks...
... silence feeding silence...
... growing constrained...
... neon splashing both their faces...
... downtown glare receding...
... darkness closing in...
... outskirts reached.
"Practicing to be the life of the party, Morgan?"
"Don't want to go, I suppose?"
"Rather hang around with your gang of floozies?"
"FUCK! Pull over." Morgan slows to a stop along the highway's unlit shoulder. "Why must you behave like this? I'm up, you're down; it's chronic. I prefer to socialize; you prefer bed."
"Oh, Christ, not that. Is sex the cat that's got your tongue? Again? I should have known. Round and round and round we go, Morgan's one-track mind is stuck in its groove." He makes as if to put the car back in gear. Gillian reaches over and switches off the ignition. "Okay, talk to me." She waits... "Please?" Morgan's typical reticence grows more entrenched. "This isn't fair." ... He sulks. "Must you make me miserable to give yourself a lift?"... Finally he accedes to Gillian's remedy.
"Fine... So?... Why, Morgan? Must I drag it out of you?"
"I used to feel important, attending these parties. You'd be praised, admired... sometimes pursued—which I didn't mind; Gillian Gallipolis left with me."
"How possessive of you."
"Okay, I'm possessive; guilty as charged. But I don't begrudge you your friends, do I, your separate interests, your career, your notoriety? All that sets you apart, makes you different from me—and I sure don't want myself for a lifelong partner."
"No. I want you."
"My voluptuous body, I suppose?"
"Your body, of course, in lieu your heart, soul, or mind... something that you're willing to share with me alone."
"We never promised fidelity, Morgan; never."
"True, we never promised. I thought it was a gift. That's why I have treasured it so much. Despite your promiscuity, Gillian—socially, I mean—you've always saved a part of yourself for us. I need that."
"To flatter your manly ego."
"Egos do exist, you know?"
"And yours is in your crotch—like most men who mistake their balls for brains."
"Not funny, Gillian"
"Not important, Morgan. You've blown this way out of proportion."
Headlights pass; their faces blanch; energy in between them scatters... reconvenes.
Gillian, irked, alludes to the issue at hand.
"I never should have told you."
"But you did."
"I thought you had matured. Eight full years is time enough to reach an understanding."
"There were others, then?" All along?"
Gillian's knife is in; she thrust it there herself. Now he seems to be asking her to twist it, compound her reckless honesty, finish him off. As if from far away, she hears her voice betraying her.
Morgan starts the engine. No more is said.