"What did you do?"
"I believe I dropped a dictionary."
"I know, but why?"
"A mercy killing. See?
He pries up a corner.
"Care to inspect the remains;
perform an autopsy, perhaps? My motives, I assure you, were humane."
"Don't be vile."
She lights a cigarette from an open pack on the table and blows her first full drag into
"What's keeping Monica? She knows
we have to be there by... (She checks the clock)... by ten minutes ago. Richard? Will you
Richard, roused from a static trance, heads in the wrong direction.
"She went that-a-way."
He halts, u-turns, and exits.
"I think that he
is taking this harder than she."
"Of course; he's Catholic.
Once a Catholic, always a Catholic. Has something to do with the water. Baptized, they're
like salmon; they always return.
"Why so hypercritical?
They're our best friends, after all. Can't you put yourself in their position?"
"Thanks; no thanks."
"Show a little compassion,
"I'm driving them to the
clinic, aren't I? I've recommended Simmons, who will do the job up right. I've even
offered to pay, to allay their guilty consciences."
"Okay, okay; I take it
back; you've acted like a saint. Your attitude, however..."
something like this happens, you deal with it—as quickly and efficiently as
possible. These scenes of existential angst are grossly out-of-place, and
frankly, Laura dear, they're a goddamn
Laura lights a second cigarette; two-thirds of the first still smolders in an ashtray.
"And look at you. She's
undergoing the knife. Calm down. Relax. And spare us, would you
please; those Lucky Strikes?"
"You don't understand; men
"Says who? It may be harder
on us than it is on women."
"Women have the
right to do what's best for their anatomies—not to mention their psyches—whereas men
have no excuse. If we say 'Have it,' we're accused of foisting nine months
work on Mama—not to mention heavy-duty pain—while we stand by. If we
say 'Kill it,' we're assassins, murderers, butchers of the innocent. Either way we're
damned and bear the blame."
"Somehow you're not making
me feel all that sympathetic."
"That's because your
hormones interfere with common sense."
Laura stops pacing.
"You've thought about this,
"Indeed I have."
"She won't get off the
Laura censures Jacob's look of droll exasperation...
...and exits as her helpmate phones the clinic.
"Hello. You have Monica
Claiborne scheduled for admission this morning. 11 a.m. (pause) She's going to be late.
(pause) That can't be helped. She'll be there shortly. (pause) Yes, I will. (pause) Thank
you. (pause) Goodbye."
Richard moves downstage right. His monologue will be heard by the audience only.
"I can't touch her now. She
flinches. She claims my touch disgusts her; my touch. I've always been gentle. She
trembles in the dark. Her eyes accuse me. She says my sex glands sweat. She showers
constantly. In social settings, she covers pretty well. It's become extremely important
that no one calls attention to how she's changed. But it shows. She talks a little too
much, or too loudly, or not enough; the balance is all off. And yesterday she said she'd
the kid—a rapist's child! I didn't know what to say. It's not my fault, and yet... I was
out of town, you see, when it happened. I wasn't there when she needed me, didn't come to
her rescue. God!"
The synthesizer resurrects its drone.
"You have no idea what they
did to her. If you knew, if you really understood, none of you could sit out there so
smugly. Oh, I could describe it; I'm sure you're curious. Most of you, I'll bet, are dying
to know. The rest have drawn your shutters and don't want to look... feel... acknowledge
that this could happen to you, as well. Voyeurs and ostriches!"
The drone has overtaken Richard's speech (which he continues), muttering oaths and insults
as he vents his pent-up spleen—an ineffectual dumb-show of frustration.
|"Kill 12. Lights 14, 16,
18, up full. Ready? Go."
The droning chord desists. The scene returns to normalcy. Jacob moves
down right and rests a consoling hand on Richard's shoulder.
"Want another coffee? Or
how 'bout a drink?"
"I don't drink."
"That's right, I..."
"You know I don't
drink. What the hell's the matter with you?"
"I'm sorry, I forgot. Some
Richard stares off left. Laura reenters right.
"She's on her way...
Well, don't just stand there like a couple of zombies."
"What would you have us do,
"Talk, or something. Move
around. It's like a funeral parlor in here. MONICA? YOU COMING?"
"I'LL BE RIGHT THERE."
"Now shape up, fellas. I
think she'll be okay. Richard. Richard! Stop pouting. It's very unbecoming in a man."
Richard pulls himself together as Monica enters, dressed in white—save for the crimson
sash around her waist, whose incongruity shouts like an open wound. Laura casts an anxious
glance at Jacob, starts to speak. Monica cuts her off.
"Sorry, sorry, sorry. Just
weak kidneys. Thought I had to go. I didn't. I did, I mean, but not until I turned on all
the faucets. Laura, did your mother ever do that? When you were little, I mean? To help
"Mine did. And it always
worked. I feel so much better. Richard? Where'd you put my handbag, darling?
"It's in the car."
"Would you get it,
"What for? It's late. We
were supposed to be there..."
"Richard? Richard? Will you
get my bag? I need it. I wouldn't ask, if I didn't need it. That's a dear."
"He's been so kind,
Laura, Jacob. Richard's been so understanding. Most men wouldn't be, you know. Most
men would behave like they'd been betrayed; like it's the victim's fault. If
been more careful, if she'd avoided this or avoided that, if she'd just used
her head, the whole thing never would have happened. Most men—not my Richard—would act
She crosses the room in fits and starts, picking up things: an ashtray, a knickknack, a
magazine, a cup—replacing each. By comparison, Jacob and Laura appear to be
lest they collide with Monica's crash course.
(Gillian halts. She knows perfectly well that her next line is, "By the way, this
little trip to the clinic is off," yet somehow she feels disinclined to deliver it.
Paul and Janie wait. Gillian turns to observe them, almost detachedly—as an escalating
panic visits their faces.)
"By the way, this little
trip to the clinic is off."
"Now Monica. Monica, honey,
we've been through all this before. You can't keep bouncing back and forth indefinitely.
You are pregnant. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. If you won't think of
yourself, think of Richard. This is torturing him, too, you know."
"Isn't that a shame. Poor
Monica lies down in the middle of the floor. Laura and Jacob exchange incredulous
looks. Laura crosses right to kneel beside her.
"Monica? What are you
Monica crosses her palms, protecting her belly.
"I felt her kicking."
"That's impossible. Come
on, get up. You're being hysterical. You're not even eight weeks gone."
Laura tries to lift her.
"Don't touch me!"
Monica's hostile tone takes Laura aback. Richard re-enters, bag in hand.
"Good grief, what
"Your wife is doing
'Mourning Becomes Electra.'"
|"Kill 14, 16, 18,
26, 27. Up special 7 on a three count. One, two, three."
Monica parts her legs,
lifting and lowering her hips in pseudo-copulation. Her arms are held out rigidly; her
hands (as if impaled) are pressed to the floor, fingers writhing... while the synthesizer
plays (distortedly) a nursery rhyme (vaguely recognizable as "Rock-a-bye
Baby"). Monica's moans redouble, pained and impassioned. She frees her upstage hand,
strikes out with her fist (the music grows dissonant, the spotlight intense) until her
fit, as quickly as it came, subsides.
|"Spot out. Lights up.
Count of one, and—go."
Richard and Laura help
Monica to the sofa. Her sash remains like a blood clot, staining the floor. No sooner do
they have her settled than she springs to her feet and resumes her random
Upon noticing their stares, she abruptly halts.
"What?... What? Have
I done something rude? Did I offend somebody?... Oh, I think I must have done. Sorry.
Sorry, everyone. Forgive me? Richard? Laura? Jacob?"
She continues before anyone can reply.
"Of course you do. She
couldn't help it; Monica can't be held responsible. She's had a little shock and needs
some time to work things through... Ah, you brought back my handbag, darling, thank
She outlines the clasp and handle with her index finger, then abandons it. Jacob, arms
folded across his chest, a look of reproach in his eye, begins to chuckle.
Monica turns on him.
"Stop that! How dare you laugh
"Certain things are funny;
certain things are not. Monica is not. What happened to Monica is not. It may have
been a joke, a mean and ugly and disgusting nightmare of a joke, but it was not funny.
Except to sick people. Like men. Don't you agree, Laura, that men are sick, sick