DANCE WITH ME, PLEASE?

A Play in One Act

by

Richard Gaffield-Knight

230 W. 107th Street
Apt 1-G
New York, NY 10025
(212) 662-2712

ã February 19, 1995
Revised May 19, 1997

CAST OF CHARACTERS
(In order of appearance)

LARRY: Attractive, energetic, athletic-looking man in his mid-twenties; a sculptor who has been blind since early childhood; visible scars on his face; costumed grungy before it was fashionable. He wears an old black leather, silver tipped belt, with a large buckle. (As the play begins LARRY decides he must try to change his gay lifestyle.)

HARRY: Confident and aristocratic bearing; sometimes pensive; in his late forties; ex-creative director in advertising; costumed early Ralph Lauren. (HARRY wants to get back to work and come to terms with his past so he can enjoy a satisfying sexual relationship with LARRY.)

BONAPARTE: American Bull Terrier, black with a white patch on its throat and breast, maybe; Very obedient and belongs to JILL, who he dutifully protects.

JILL: Beautiful African-American woman in her mid-twenties, but younger of heart; upbeat, free spirited and emotional; lives on the east side, Gramercy Park area; Madison avenue copywriter type, after work. (After quickly establishing herself in the advertising business in Chicago and New York City, JILL has fallen in love with LARRY and needs to terminate her physical state of virginity ASAP).

TIME: A Saturday in early January, 1982; 8:00pm.

SETTING: The street end of LARRY's loft, A.I.R.

SCENE: The top floor of a small manufacturing building in the Tribecca district of Manhattan. The loft is 25 feet wide, with a skylight, and sparsely, but well-furnished. The bathroom and spiral staircase to bedroom are downstage right and left respectively. The elevator door is upstage left. The sculptor's studio begins downstage left and extends into the audience. A skylight is over the audience and the cold light from a full moon filters through it, lighting the audience dimly from above.

AT RISE: LARRY is standing facing upstage, silhouetted against a row of six windows which face downtown. Sounds of the street are barely heard: cabs, small trucks, people out walking, a dog barks and another barks back. An industrial type toilet flushes offstage right. Sound of open faucets, hands being washed, four or five counts and HARRY enters from the bathroom humming, then singing full voice, in German, the theme from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, 4th movement, Presto-Allegro Assai, "The Ode to Joy." He has a copy of TIME magazine dated December 21, 1981 with "Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, The Spector of Terrorism" in large type on the cover. HARRY crosses left to elevator door and flips a switch on the wall that turns on the interior lights, one of which is next to a leather couch right of center and another over a leather chair left of center. Right of the chair is a small table, with telephone answering machine.

HARRY
Well? (Pause) Not bad, eh?

LARRY
You sing Beethoven Pop?

HARRY
I do.

(HARRY goes to the chair and drops the magazine on it, then crosses to the opposite wall and puts a(n) LP on the player.)

SOUND: Guitar, Segovia.

LARRY
I think I want to go away for awhile.

HARRY
Alone?

(HARRY goes to the chair and sits after picking up the magazine he brought from the bathroom. He glances to the couch, then leaves the magazine on the chair again as he goes to the couch to straighten the loose throw pillows.)

Is the music O.K?

LARRY
If you care enough to remember Ser-govia.

(Facing upstage, LARRY does a newly Knighted bow as HARRY picks up the magazine, sits, reads.)

HARRY
There's a puzzling new disease syndrome afflicting mostly homosexual men. In the past 6 months, opportunistic diseases have stricken 95 Americans, more than half are homosexual men . . .

LARRY
You mean gays?

HARRY
. . . in their 20s and 30s. The death rate exceeds 20%. Time Magazine says, "Promiscuous behavior increases risk."

LARRY
They call it "the gay cancer."

HARRY
"Karposi's sarcoma is a rare cancer that appears as violet patches on the skin and infiltrates the digestive and lymph systems." Have you heard about it? This new syndrome?

LARRY
Syndrome? My friends are dying.

HARRY
Oh really? Who?

LARRY
Everybody's talking about it. Where've you been?

HARRY
Doctor at UCLA named Gottlieb says the cancer and homosexuals have been around for thousands of years. Its "victims have been mainly children in equatorial Africa and elderly people of Jewish or Mediterranean extraction," so there's a piece of the puzzle missing.

LARRY
Oh-ohh.

HARRY
He says, "The missing link could be 'poppers,' drugs like amyl nitrate and butyl nitrate, which are said to enhance orgasm." Do they?

LARRY
uh-huh.

HARRY
(Slight pause) Then, he says there's the so-called immunologic overload theory.

LARRY
What's that?

HARRY
(Looks at LARRY) Seg-ovia just happens to be the greatest of all classical guitarists. And if you don't care enough to remember him, why do you keep him around?

LARRY
Like I said, I'd like to go away.

HARRY
Where?

LARRY
Home.

(HARRY, a bit confused, looks back to his magazine.)

HARRY
This is your home.

LARRY
Not since you've been here.

HARRY
(Slight pause then light-heartedly)
Is the quiet and sexy one boring you?

LARRY
I like the quiet one . . . sometimes.

(HARRY rises from the chair and puts the magazine in a rack next to it as he crosses to stereo.)

HARRY
Do you want to dance?

LARRY
Dance? . . . avec moi?

(LARRY, smiling, turns downstage, as HARRY puts "sexy saxophone" on the stereo.)

HARRY
(Smiling)
I think it's time I learned how to dance.

LARRY
Oh, come on.

HARRY
With you, I mean, who leads for instance?

(HARRY walks to LARRY and puts his right arm around his waist and the left arm lightly on his shoulder, then on his neck. LARRY over-reacts.)

LARRY
Never again, like, it's insanity, you know?

HARRY
Never?

LARRY
(Quieter) I mean sex with you is like . . .

HARRY
(Gently touching his ear-ring.) . . . a balloon ride?

LARRY
. . . without helium.

HARRY
. . . metaphorically speaking, of course.

(Pause. Then HARRY moves closer to LARRY, slight hugging as they begin to move with the music. Ever so gently, LARRY begins to lead HARRY. The attempt is at first kind of comical. HARRY is not a follower. Then HARRY tries to lead, LARRY becomes aroused and his hands move up HARRY's thighs to his buttocks and begin to massage them, deeply. HARRY kind of moves his face in front of LARRY's and then holds LARRY's face in his hands and kisses him full on his mouth for the first time. LARRY responds passionately as if for the last time. HARRY moves his cheek to LARRY's, as he embraces him, warmly, then backs off and begins to open LARRY's belt.)

LARRY
This guy was spare-changin' me, you know, today.

HARRY
The streets of New York City.

(LARRY moves HARRY's hands away from the belt business and around his own body to his back. He holds HARRY still as he talks.)

LARRY
. . . and like I was with Mary.

HARRY
You mean Judd, the stud?

LARRY
I call him Mary, a really timid thing. I think pretty good on my feet, you know, I can think of a way of getting out of whatever, and making it work, you know?

HARRY
You sure can.

LARRY
And this guy was a real piece of work. I could smell him from down the block. When we got up to him, he says, "a dollar for wine," and I ignored him because I hate it when people I don't even know, especially those mother-fucking self-destructive people, intrude on my mood like that.

HARRY
You know, as that kind multiplies, the trust in our own dream disappears, sometimes.

(HARRY moves away toward the bar)

LARRY
I pay my taxes to the City of you know, to take care of you know . . . all of them.

HARRY
Then, maintaining the status quo becomes impossible, because our own confidence is sometimes threatened.

LARRY
Anyway . . .

HARRY
And we begin to believe our initiative hasn't been rewarded in the same way that we hoped it would be rewarded here on earth. (HARRY puts ice in a glass, lifts scotch bottle, puts it back, opens and pours soda over ice.) So, we organize religions and invent gods that promise even more, eternally.

LARRY
What did you pour?

HARRY
Seltzer.

LARRY
Liar.

HARRY
(HARRY turns toward LARRY)
Well, I think once we learn to simply trust ourselves and each other, we will get better at living together and so then, (Crosses to him.) I think the question of, or the afterlife that some religions promise, while demanding a final judgment of guilt or innocence won't seem as important as it does now. (Allows LARRY to sniff his drink.)

LARRY
Where was I?

HARRY
People you don't even know, self-destructive people . . .

LARRY
Right. O.K. "A dollar for wine," he says, wants to kill himself I guess, and I walked by him, and he muttered, "Blind motha' fuckin' cock-sucka." Talk about "bashing," we get it all the time, but this stinking bag of garbage, because we won't help him kill himself and then have to bury him, too? And besides, how did he know? I turned around, like, "what did you say? How fucking dare you?" And he was like really set back. I could just feel it and Mary, you know, Judd, whatever, she was really freaked out too, you know? Later she said, "what if he had a gun, you don't know." True, but if he had a gun you'd tell me Mary, wouldn't you?

HARRY
Can't trust Mary?

LARRY
It's like they think you're an easy mark. Like you're from out-a town. They try to walk all over you. But, if you act like the blind queen psycho from Hell they kiss your ass and say, "Thank you."

HARRY
If we make trust a habit of living in our denser populations, make peacemaking habitual . . .

LARRY
(Sarcastically)
Like jogging?

HARRY
Well, yes, then we won't feel the need for ideas like physical or spiritual immortality . . . even.

LARRY
On the subway a few weeks ago? Someone's like into my pocket. "Well," I said politely, "excuse me?" The hand kept groping and I turned around and I shouted, "Fuck-off." It was a big hand. Was it yours Harry?

HARRY
(HARRY looks at his own hand.)
When I walk down the street I hope and pray I won't be brained by a falling flower pot.

LARRY
Yesterday when I was walking to the subway I had on my combat boots and my black leather, you know, jacket, and I just thought, "I could kill half you people and I dare you to fuck with me." Like I don't trust you people anymore to stay out of my way if space gets really tight.

HARRY
You don't trust me?

LARRY
I mean people who can see, in general.

HARRY
That's a lot of people.

LARRY
I know, professor. Did I tell you there was someone else living here? Well, not living. Maybe I'm nuts, but . . .

HARRY
Who?

LARRY
Manyetta. You won't see her, him, whatever, I guess. It's a ghost, an apparition. Let's call it a she, O.K?

HARRY
It's your ghost, Larry.

LARRY
Manyetta is a God I can see.

HARRY
God-ess.

LARRY
I can't really touch her though, I mean the way she touches me on my neck sometimes.

HARRY
She touches you?

LARRY
(Nods) That's why "Perpetual Motion," is still here, back there, the silk and heavy wire piece, and not in some stone-cold dark basement, waiting for the price to go up. It's my impression of Manyetta.

HARRY
You know, it reminds me of "Winged Victory." I saw it at the Louvre

LARRY
When were you in Paris?

HARRY
When I was a teenager. It was part of a cultural studies program at Lake Forest Academy where I went to school.

LARRY
When I was ten the system put me in an orphanage.

HARRY
Like in Dickens?

LARRY
Between you and me Harry, where's the connection?

HARRY
Great sex?

LARRY
Sex with Succubus. Now, that was great sex.

HARRY
With who?

LARRY
Succubus, a female demon, when I was fostered out to a family in Scranton. I was about 12. Unbelievable. So sensual. Nothing ever like that again. After I was sent back to the institution, I got a night nurse to read me the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

HARRY
I had my first wet dream at about that age. We had a black cocker spaniel named Queenie.

LARRY
Anyway, the book told about the rituals, what the dead go through and about offerings. Bowl of rice and like that.

HARRY
The dog seemed to know all about the dream, because she looked at me very funny for at least a month.

LARRY
One night when Debbie was reading, down the hallway you could hear these footsteps. They were so heavy, so unbelievably heavy, sort of pounding and I tried to make myself think, "well, maybe it's upstairs." Then they were on the rug in my room. I mean the footsteps were so heavy. I said. "Debbie, Debbie, do you hear that?" She says, "What? What?" Nasty attitude she always had, except when she read to me. I said, "Like Debbie, there's someone, he's standing right by the door, standing right by the door." "How do you know," she said. I said, "Turn on the light. You'll see him too." "Don't start, don't start, that shit," she says. "The light is on already. You're blind, how can you see anything?" Then she left. (Slight pause) Anything they can't see, they think doesn't exist. What are they afraid of? (Long pause) I laid down and I felt it come right next to the bed and that was too much. That was really too much. It was a man. Incubus, maybe, if I were a woman, but I'm not. Don't know anymore, really. (His throat chokes up, as with tears) That night we slept really close together, just like my dad and I did when I was scared, when I slept in my room all alone. I knew what was going on. I liked it, too. He came to my room every night while I was there. But, I can't live like this, Harry, it's just too, too fucked up. I want to be normal, Harry, not paranormal.

HARRY
You mean you don't want to be gay anymore?

LARRY
I mean, like, I need a father from time-to-time, but . . .

HARRY
. . . your idea, not mine.

LARRY
. . . it brings up too many memories.

HARRY
I just want to take care of you in ways you can't.

LARRY
I need to smell the trees and the flowers again.

HARRY
Good idea. Move up near the Park. To get to the studio you could take a cab or hire a chauffeur.

LARRY
Too much traveling . . . downtown, uptown . . .

HARRY
I don't drive anymore.

LARRY
When I was almost four years old . . .

HARRY
You remember when you were four?

LARRY
. . . the smell that came through the window.

HARRY
From the backyard?

LARRY
The back seat of the car, the air blowing in my face, bright morning sun coming over the rolling mountains, driving north to see Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma made pictures of flowers, paintings like, with seeds from her garden, and she played the piano at church. After the accident she let me touch them, the seed paintings. She let me take them home, to help me remember the flowers. Then she died. She was a great hugger. I still miss her . . . sometimes.

(Pause, as HARRY touches LARRY's scarred face)

LARRY
I remember seeing the pictures . . .

HARRY
Burma Shave, on the fence posts.

LARRY
Coca Cola on the billboards. I remember the telephone poles. So small way down the highway, then growing so big alongside the road, so fast and then huge, you know? Swish, past the car, swish. Swish. I wanted to get big like that. Fast, wanted to grow up big like my dad. God was he big.

HARRY
(Laughing)
Well, now you're grown up . . .

LARRY
The fighting.

HARRY
. . . like your dad.

LARRY
Then the screaming in the front seat. I tried to get up there between them, hug them, make them stop fighting. I needed them to just love each other without the fighting. I remember I stood up in the back. Got up on the back of the big front seat. Tried to get between them. Then God . . . the darkness. Maybe my needs as a child killed them and made me a celebrity.

HARRY
How's that?

LARRY
Because after the crash, I wanted to get it all down, everything that I remembered from before, when I had my sight. I wanted to record it somehow, so I could feel it, the way I remembered it. I made wire dogs, and ponies with little boys on them. I learned to play the piano for parties. I could have been the great white Stevie Wonder. What a beautiful world this is. (Pause)

HARRY
I understand. We could go . . . this weekend we could hire a driver, go to . . . where were you born?

LARRY
I'm going alone. I can't breathe lately.

HARRY
Asthma?

LARRY
Maybe you should go back to Chicago.

HARRY
I thought we had an agreement, Larry.

LARRY
Nothing lasts forever . . . Harry

HARRY
I can cook, you know. You don't have to cook every meal . .

SOUND: TELEPHONE RINGS ONCE AND THEN THE MACHINE. "This is Larry. Leave a message. Beep"

LARRY
Your cooking makes me want to . . .

(LARRY puts his middle finger in his mouth and makes a gagging gesture.)

JILL'S VOICE
(From answering machine)
Hi, Larry, this is Jill. I'm not at home, so don't call me. Didn't expect that did you? I'll call you back later, if you don't pick up in a minute. Dum-de-dum. Dum-de-dum-dum. Dumb. Miss you. 'Bye.

LARRY
Intense. Met her last week at my opening at the Whitney. "Sensual truth" the critic told me. I wonder if he printed it. (Slight pause) Well, last night Jill and I . . . what a fucking body she has . . . we had cappuccino and connolli on Grand. Before that we ate clams. The sounds she made sucking them out of the shells, wow! And then we sang with the crowd at Puglio's. I love that place. Then later home-made red wine at the Luna. Walking through the kitchen, the smells, tomatoe, garlic, Jill.

HARRY
Oh, so that's where you were. At her house? (Change the subject) Is it passable? Edible, at least?

LARRY
Very.

HARRY
My cooking?

LARRY
No. (Lightly) Someone would think you were born with the ol' silver spoon in your mouth.

HARRY
I was.

LARRY
Bullshit. More fucking bullshit.

HARRY
What do you mean . . . more?

LARRY
Being a creative head with the Leo Burnett in Chicago.

HARRY
I am.

LARRY
Why didn't you tell me you were straight?

HARRY
Am I? Really, you think so?

LARRY
I had to guide your hand that first night, but when you found the way . . . Wow! (Smiling) Any younger brothers?

HARRY
Had one briefly. Died a few days after he was born they told me. So, all alone, lonely childhood. Parents travelled a lot. I remember pictures of them on deck, playing shuffleboard. The shuttlecock? No that's the "birdie" in badminton. Cue, yes that's it, like billiards. The cue in one hand, highball in the other. I stayed at the academy all summer. (Pause) That's where I met Margaret, at a dance, at Lake Forrest. She was quite the climber.

LARRY
One must do it, you know?

HARRY
What is that?

LARRY
. . . up the ladder.

HARRY
Of course.

LARRY
Harry pay your dues, get in the club.

HARRY
I've made it a life mission to avoid all club affiliations.

LARRY
How 'bout society?

HARRY
The Society Club? Another disco?

LARRY
Pay your dues to society? You've done that, haven't you?

HARRY
(Aggressive competitive)
Yes, but society isn't a club in that sense. There are clubs as different parts of society, but society itself isn't one.

LARRY
Right, it's more like a foundation.

HARRY
Right! That's right. A Foundation.

LARRY
You know, like the ocean floor is more like society, than the fish that piss on it. Harry, If you don't pay your dues, you're not doing your part to reinforce the foundation of this particular realm.

(Motions with his arms to include the whole theater.)

HARRY
The Foundation won't dissolve if I don't personally . . .

LARRY
(As if to a child)
Paying the rent is an important part of the whole . . . big, big picture, you know?.

HARRY
Society won't suffer.

LARRY
It's been that way since the middle ages, at least.

HARRY
Only a short time ago . . .

LARRY
To "old money" people, like you, maybe. (Impatient) In medieval times . . . you went to college right?

HARRY
Of course I went to college, Yale, Stanford.

LARRY
Iowa. I hated Stanford, except for the smell of the ocean.

HARRY
Ocean?

LARRY
. . . on certain days.

HARRY
You mean the Bay, maybe.

LARRY
No . . . ocean . . . over the mountains.

HARRY
That's at least 60 miles.

LARRY
Yeah? Do you have a sinus problem? Or what?

HARRY
I don't remember the smell of the ocean, that's all. Are you sure you were at Stanford?

LARRY
Yes, for a whole semester. Are you?

HARRY
Yes. Of course.

LARRY
Well, remember back at Yale, Landlord 101? How the serfs paid the lords rent for their plot of earth, to hunt and grow things, to feed their families? The lords didn't want to work with their hands, so, they used their heads to raise armies.

HARRY
Lords didn't have armies.

LARRY
That's what I just said. After the lords raised the armies for the royalty, they paid them taxes to defend their land from foreigners and hungry neighbors. That's when the ownership of land became so fucking important. I mean, this is my loft.

HARRY
The whole top floor?

LARRY
I own it.

HARRY
I'm impressed. Really, I am.

LARRY
Harry, I'm evicting you.

(Pause)

HARRY
I don't have to be back at Burnett until . . .

LARRY
Remember when you first sucked Sampson?

HARRY
Just before Christmas, three weeks Sunday, tomorrow.

LARRY
Nice guy that I am I've allowed you to stay here as my . . .

HARRY
Student. I really love sex with you Larry.

(Pause)

LARRY
Are you packing yet Harry?

HARRY
Packing?

LARRY
What have you been doing during the day?

HARRY
Looking up old school buddies who are now very powerful account executives on Madison Avenue.

LARRY
Is that fair? . . . to go on doing whatever you want to do?

HARRY
I want to move my accounts to New York.

LARRY
Looking for the grail . . . ?

HARRY
. . . the grail?

LARRY
Not bringing down the quail. (Toward him) Are you there?

HARRY
I contribute my share to the betterment of society.

LARRY
You what . . . ?

HARRY
(Smiles) I pick up after you, do the dishes.

LARRY
That's why I employ Esmarelda.

HARRY
Can she read to you . . .

LARRY
No . . .

HARRY
How old is she anyway?

LARRY
She has a family you know? She's working class.

HARRY
Old enough to be your mother.

LARRY
What?

HARRY
I was almost seduced by one of our "working class" one summer, just before college, one of the girls. Didn't kiss her though. She was Mexican. We "petted" a lot in the garage. What was her name? Her father found us once, and that ended it, but he never told mine.

LARRY
Why not?

HARRY
My father was a tyrant. He would fire the whole smelly family. His favorite "little" game he called it, he played with my mother. He told me they pretended they weren't married to each other, but to someone else at the Club, someone in their own social circle, of course, so they could cheat on their make-believe partners just for fun. They still believe in me completely.

(Slight pause, as he looks at LARRY)

They never believed I killed Margaret.

(LARRY looks toward HARRY now relaxed.)

A trusting love is the key to happiness, and I would like to give that key to you.

LARRY
Killed who?

HARRY
What?

LARRY
Did you say you killed someone . . . named Margaret?

HARRY
(Teasing him)
My ex-wife? No. Key to you, I said, key to happiness.

LARRY
(Pause)
Where's today's mail?

(LARRY searches the small telephone table.)

SOUND: TELEPHONE RINGS ONCE. "This is Larry. Leave a message. Beep."

JILL'S VOICE
(From answering machine)
Larry, I hope you're home by now. If you are will you please pick-up?

(LARRY stares at the telephone.)

Something terrible has happened since before. I locked myself out. I took Bonaparte out for his nightly, you know, and forgot to pick up my keys from the hook on the wall. Thinking of you I guess, probably.

LARRY
(Trys to ignore the plea in her voice)
Have you read it? The mail . . .

JILL'S VOICE
(From answering machine)
Are you there? Can I come over?

HARRY
It's your mail. No one even knows I'm here. Do you want me to read it to you? (Looks for the mail.)

JILL'S VOICE
(From answering machine)
If you're busy, I'll just pick up my keys and leave.

HARRY
(Eyes on LARRY)
Do you want me to pick up?

LARRY
(Slowly shakes his head)
She'll call back. I hope.

JILL'S VOICE
(From answering machine)
Remember? Sit Bonaparte . . . He sees a female he knows . . . I loaned you a set last night when . . . hi there. Sure is. Sorry, I mean this morning, early, when you went out to get the paper for me? You left the paper on the kitchen table, but you forgot to leave the keys. You had on your Sid Vicious. Can you check it? Do you know where it is? Your punk jacket? Baby, it's really cold out here.

(LARRY moves to the closet and begins to look.)

Larry?

LARRY
Where's my black leather jacket? Harry? I hung it here this afternoon when I got home.

HARRY
How should I know? Ask Esmarelda.

JILL'S VOICE
(From answering machine)
Are you there? You said you'd be there, if I ever needed you. (Brief pause) Larry, I really need you now. Just kidding. I'll call back. Miss you.

(HARRY crosses to closet and looks half-heartedly)

LARRY
(Mini-explosion)
Did you hear that? Probably had no idea of going back to her apartment. Can't do it to me Jill, gotta be free. Freedom is the call I pick up.

HARRY
The freedom call?

LARRY
I mean I want to go through life with real human goals, not artificial ones. Usually part of a relationship with a woman . . . I think.

HARRY
What are "real human goals" for you?

LARRY
To find the truth . . . its limitless creative and revolutionary possibilities.

HARRY
Freedom also means being in control of the life and death issues of one's existence, you know, food, clothing, shelter and defense. You can't do that alone, Larry. No one can.

LARRY
I can. I do. I don't have any freedom at all if anyone else has any kind of psychological power over me, no matter how benevolently, tolerantly and permissively that "power" is used.

HARRY
It is important not to confuse freedom with mere permissiveness.

(Full explosion directed toward HARRY)

LARRY
Harry, get the FUCK OUT of my loft.

(LARRY makes violent waving motions with his arms as if trying to clear the air.)

HARRY
(Cautiously)
Can we talk more about it, tomorrow?

(LARRY restrains his frustration by putting his hands in his pants pocket and finds an envelope)

LARRY
There's no tomorrow.

(He takes the envelope out of his pocket and handles it thoughtfully.)

LARRY
But before you go, there's a note or something. Esmarelda gave it to me this afternoon.

(Holds it out to HARRY, who looks at it warily.)

HARRY
Where did you go today?

(HARRY looks up at LARRY)

LARRY
This afternoon? Jean-Michel's new show at the Mary Boone. What does it say?

HARRY
You didn't tell me you were going.

LARRY
Like it was the opening.

HARRY
I know. We talked about it Sunday. You said it was mostly visual, 2-dimensional stuff, mostly words and you said you weren't speaking to each other anyway, since . . .

LARRY
You were gone when I came in.

HARRY
(Takes the envelope)
I was at lunch with my old friend at Olgilvy Mather. Were you with her all night, by the way?

LARRY
None of your fucking business.

HARRY
And this morning?

LARRY
At a meeting, uptown.

HARRY
Who was there?

LARRY
Everyone.

HARRY
Anyone with a name?

LARRY
I don't remember.

HARRY
No postage?

LARRY
She said someone brought it up.

HARRY
It's sealed.

LARRY
Well, open it.

(HARRY does.)

HARRY
Why did she let them in?

LARRY
Maybe she thought it was the laundry and dry cleaning.

HARRY
Doesn't she do the laundry?

LARRY
She likes the delivery boy. Would you read it please?

HARRY
It's printed . . . in pencil.

LARRY
Oh?

HARRY
That's interesting.

LARRY
What? That it's printed in pencil?

HARRY
No, that the guy can't spell.

LARRY
Who's it from? Like . . . how do you know it's a guy?

HARRY
I don't know. It's not signed.

LARRY
What do you mean you don't know?

HARRY
Beg your pardon?

LARRY
Why did you say the guy can't spell then?

HARRY
The content is very masculine.

LARRY
Oh really? Wow, that's interesting.

HARRY
It gets better.

LARRY
Tell me . . . what does it say?

HARRY
I don't think I should be reading this.

LARRY
Why not read it to me. (Instant tantrum) It's addressed to me, isn't it?

HARRY
No.

LARRY
What? (Tantrum is over) Is it addressed to you?

HARRY
No.

LARRY
Well, who is it addressed to, Esmarelda?

HARRY
If it was addressed to Esmarelda, would she give it to you?

LARRY
Touché' . . .

HARRY
Guess again.

LARRY
Occupant?

HARRY
No. "Residence."

LARRY
Plural?

HARRY
Sort of.

LARRY
In pencil?

HARRY
Right.

LARRY
(LARRY gropes around HARRY's crotch area)
Like, is it a bulk mailing or what?

HARRY
Stop it, please. I said stop it. It's written by hand, with a dull pencil, actually. Please? It's a story about . . .

LARRY
What?

HARRY
. . . after the show at the Vorpal, I guess.

LARRY
Boone. A story written to me, in pencil, in bad English, without fucking postage?

HARRY
Well, no. (Continues reading to himself) It could be written to me. Trust me?

LARRY
Yes, of course I trust you. What does it say?

HARRY
O.K. I'll read it to you.

LARRY
Gee, thanks.

HARRY
"Today I met this guy he had's at least a 7'1" cuck."

LARRY
What!??? Stop.

HARRY
That's what it says here. Do you want me to stop?

LARRY
Go on. Please?

HARRY
"He's . . . something? . . . build and has no hair on his chest and legs, he has long blond hair and he around 25 years old. (Looks at LARRY) He had's on a black letter jacket with silver on the front. We met in a bar it's only down the street wear he lives with this other guy, he says." "Where," by the way, is spelled w-e-a-r-.

LARRY
O.K.

HARRY
"He asks me to go to his place when we get there we sit on the couch. Under the cushion there's this book with lots of pickchers of," that's P-i-c-k-c-h-

LARRY
Skip the spelling.

HARRY
" . . . ers of butt . . . a-t-c-k . . buttocks. "And he starting to feel me up and I'm getting so horrey and he getting horrey. So we both tack our shirts off and then our pants and our underwear."

LARRY
Didn't they undress each other?

HARRY
You tell me. (Pause) This is not a letter. It's bathroom wall copy . . . Interstate. Why was it left here?

LARRY
A poetic remembrance . . . maybe . . . like the event itself. It takes you out of the ordinary. La petite morte . . . orgasm . . . totally out of control.

HARRY
Why would anyone want to be out of control?

LARRY
Anything can happen . . .

HARRY
. . . and usually does . . .

LARRY
All the orifices are remembered and explored. Everybody does it with anybody. Between buildings, parked cars, limos, hansom cabs in the park, with the driver in the back, you know, and the Baths. I've been sucked and swallowed at the Lincoln Center Library.

HARRY
Between the stacks?

LARRY
Men's john, Amsterdam Avenue side. A complete stranger usually . . . who rubs me, holds me, kisses me, a stranger who wants me, refuses me, then uses me. (Slight pause) Harry, I get so much from a stranger who leaves so satisfied, like, I've really been with someone? I've changed them in some way. (Slight pause) Harry?

HARRY
. . . pure poetry . . .

LARRY
Want to go to the Baths?

HARRY
You're kidding . . . aren't you?

LARRY
Hot, dark, sweaty sex. Big guys, little guys, tender and driving guys. Take poppers, you know, amyl nitrate and it doesn't matter if you're blind. We're all in the dark.

(Tears, and his voice chokes as he remembers someone he met there who died last week.)

This primal kind of poetic experience, poetic because it's so simple, so abstract . . . and in this simplicity, truth, experience, it opens so many doors, it touches my own soul in a way it's never been touched anywhere else. Stops my heart for a split second or two, leaves me suspended, out of control and then lets me down ever so gently, to come back to do it all over again, and again. (Long pause)

Since last summer, when we first started dying . . . it all scares the shit out of me, you know? Maybe that's why I go back. What a way to die. Shooting stars, like real ones. So close I can touch them . . . on fire. It's so scary. Should I stop going there? I want to stop. Make me stop. Daddy? Harry?

HARRY
I'm here.

LARRY
You're so cool.

HARRY
I'm listening.

LARRY
Too cool. (Slight pause) With Jill, she says we look really good together. With her, it's more than just a hug. A Relationship. You know what that is? I don't really know if Samson works with a woman. (Laughs) He hasn't so far! She's a great cocksucker though. Almost as good as you, Harry. She's been saving it all up for me. You believe that? She's hot for me, Harry. (Pause) Really hot for me.

HARRY
(From the note) "And then he leads me to the bed room. He lay's on the bed and I get on top of him and start sucking his balls an he's sucking mim the he turn's over on his stomek and I stick my throbbing cuck in is ass and start pump harder, than I turn him over on his back and spreaded his lags and stick my hard wet throbbing cuck in his ass and I cum oll over his cuck, then he get's on his knees dog style I stick his ass and lay on his, and I cum oll over his back, then we got in the covers and he got on top of me and we rub our body's together and I grab his ass and he grabs my ass and we fall a sleep."

LARRY
Wow. Is that it?

HARRY
No.

LARRY
. . . more?

HARRY
He was a big, blind faggot.

LARRY
No. That's not funny, Harry. Really? Who's picture book was it, stuck under the cushion? Yours?

(Searches under the cushion, finds the magazine)

HARRY
Such a wonderful host. Or, is it just a coincidence?

LARRY
Small world. Big fucking city.

HARRY
Where were you all afternoon?

LARRY
Anything can happen.

HARRY
Larry, be careful.

LARRY
It's 1982, get real. No more hostages . . .

HARRY
I'm not holding you . . .

LARRY
. . . you can leave anytime.

HARRY
. . . and you sure aren't holding me.

LARRY
. . . as long as it's tonight.

HARRY
Really, Larry, I'm worried about you.

LARRY
Give me the note.

(HARRY walks away from him with the note.)

HARRY
I had no idea . . . people actually do . . . you could do something like this . . . with me staying here, I mean, after we did . . . we do? I . . . care about you, Larry. You know? Larry . . . ?

LARRY
. . . waiting for the note. Give it to me.

HARRY
(HARRY folds the note)
I really wanted you. I needed a place, someone I . . . What am I trying to say? (Puts note into envelope.) When I saw you in the subway, in the park . . . I fantasized touching you, putting my hands on you, holding you.

LARRY
Stalked me? You?

HARRY
Yes, I followed you, Larry, and with every step I searched for the courage to speak. When I did, finally, you responded like you knew me all along, like you were waiting for me to say something to you. Were you, Larry?

LARRY
Maybe.

HARRY
(Puts the envelope into his pocket)
That first night I expected guilt, depression, but instead it freed me. I felt totally free for the the first time.

LARRY
Free to be you.

HARRY
That's right. Sex with my wife was impossible after Vietnam. Pure . . . torture.

LARRY
You mean she tickled you under your toes with a feather?

HARRY
Didn't matter what she did. Before the war Margaret was one of us, but she saw a news photo in one of her magazines that showed an old Vietnamese civilian, sobbing, carrying the dead body of his five or six year-old grandchild into the line of fire. She sent it to me. She asked me to give up and come home. She even marched against us.

SOUND: A baby is heard crying in the distance.

It's odd, the things I remember, like the flies.

LARRY
What flies? Give me the note.

HARRY
Let me tell you about the flies . . . first.

LARRY
Hate flies, but, I love your stories. All right. Promise?

HARRY
Promise. I was 32. Margaret and I were trying to have children when President Johnson escalated our effort. (Slight pause, smiles) I served as an officer, a Captain.

LARRY
A Captain?

HARRY
My father had connections.

LARRY
I knew this guy who overslept and missed his induction.

HARRY
We had financial interests in that part of the world.

LARRY
Really?

HARRY
I knew I was protecting a way of life for my parents and their friends. And they would love me for it.

LARRY
You thought they'd love you for fighting in a war on the other side of the world that no one else believed in.

HARRY
I did, but my parents would never have encouraged my service in that war if I wasn't already an officer in ROT-C. I am the last of the our line, our family line, understand?

LARRY
Sort of.

HARRY
No son, no legacy, no one to inherit the fortune.

LARRY
Have to give it to strangers.

HARRY
My parents pictured me on a white horse protected by the infantry. Young men, boys really, 18, 19, 20 years old, cradled by theories of Dr. Spock. We sent them out on "search and destroy" missions to mostly small hamlets around Quang Ngai Province. The Viet Cong clutched the people to their breasts. Little children, women, old men, forced them at gunpoint to plant mines and booby traps. It wasn't like the San Francisco Forty-Niners on one side of the field and Mike Ditka and his Bears on the other.

LARRY
You mean it wasn't a football game?

HARRY
Civilian casualties in Vietnam counted as a proportion of total numbers killed were less than all the other armed conflicts of this century.

LARRY
What?

HARRY
And far less than the Korean war.

LARRY
On a scale of one to ten, the Vietnam was only a . . . six?

HARRY
With a reasonable margin of error.

LARRY
Did you order the slaughter of the children? Captain?

HARRY
Anyone who looked like a commie. Anyone who aided the commies. The farmers hid them in their dirt basements.

LARRY
Then march the farmers out into the yard and flambé the fuckers in the basement, but don't bayonet the babies.

HARRY
Understand, Larry. My friends and I were convinced the farmers would stop colluding with the Viet Cong to protect their own children and their babies, and their neighbor's children, wouldn't you?

LARRY
I might. It depends.

HARRY
On what for Christ sake? These are your children!

LARRY
I don't have any children . . . Harry. Cool it man.

HARRY
Their children, I mean. Well, the VC started with scattered sniper fire as our company approached the first village which, as it turned out, was fortified with weaponry. I mean, almost immediately heavy automatic thirty caliber and mortar fire opened up on our boys from the little huts. Guys your age, and younger, much younger, they were pinned down in the surrounding field and woods all day and all night. We wanted them to move under cover of darkness, but it was early monsoon, '68, and raining something pitiful. The Lieutenant said he couldn't see anything in front of him. With the rain in their faces, you can imagine it, and the mud. He asked for artillery cover, but I refused it. So, he ordered them all to just lay there, and wait. So they did. Just waited and listened to their partners dying. Big guys dying and crying for their mothers, praying to be shot because they couldn't take it anymore. When they finally got into the hamlet, the Cong were nowhere in sight. Just civilians. Call it revenge.

LARRY
. . . maniacally methodical . . . accompanied by rape, sodomy and other forms of random Nazi-like mutilation.

HARRY
Then call it rage. It's like a boil . . . in the blood.

LARRY
What about the flies?

HARRY
The flies. The tiny flies at the ditches full of dead bodies, hundreds of dead bodies, and body parts, piled on top of each other. Old men, women, little children, and the stench. All those flies. By the time I arrived to supervise the counting, we were all breathing flies. They crawled up into my nostrils. I covered my face with cloth dipped in mosquito poison mixed with Kool-Aid, but I couldn't keep them out. I still . . . dream about them.

SOUND: End BAbies crying.

And now, (with complete clarity) I understand the rage felt by the soldiers of our company. Rage is the main cause of violence, you know, whether it's legal as in war, or by impulse. Or, even by series fulfillment, you know, series killings. Raging capitalists started the war in Vietnam, political rage ended it. Rage that leads to war, is acted out by good soldiers. But, there's a fine line between rage and homicide that we didn't cross in our unit, yes, thank God. We were not murderers.

(Long pause as he looks at LARRY)

I came back pretty shattered, pretty fucked up, pardon the expression. I couldn't say anything about the shit that I was directly or indirectly responsible for in Vietnam . . . not to Margaret, or anybody. I should have gotten therapy but I . . . I was trapped, you know, by my future. Pretty soon I talked myself into believing it never even happened.

LARRY
So, did you kill her?

HARRY
Who?

LARRY
Margaret.

HARRY
The prosecution charged me with murder in the first degree.

LARRY
Did you kill her?

HARRY
I was acquitted, of course.

LARRY
Acquitted? (Pause) How many . . . any kids?

HARRY
A boy and a girl. Science is wonderful.

LARRY
Where are they?

HARRY
My parents think the kids're really mine. I'm sure they have detectives looking for me. Didn't find me on the streets though.

LARRY
When I met you? Where did you shower?

HARRY
All I really need is a hug, like the one you got at your grandma's house.

LARRY
First tell me, what is a woman like? Harry?

HARRY
O.K., I'll tell you what my father told me.

LARRY
Not the birds and the bees? Please?

HARRY
First of all, he said, she has an affinity for gold, silver and absorbs great quantities of other expensive substances like diamonds. She may explode spontaneously without prior warning for no apparent reason. On the plus side, she looks very good in a Porsche and she can be an aid in relaxation. (Slight pause) A woman should be a safe place for your emotions, a security for your dreams.

(Crosses to LARRY)

My first date with Maggie, when we went to the lake and caught colds, down to the edge of the lake, on Chicago's north shore, I remember, where the oak trees and the sycamores make that beautiful shade in the late afternoon. It was mid-August and very hot. She lifted her knees and the skirt of the full dress she was wearing slid down and back to her waist. She closed her eyes as she spread her legs, to catch a cool breeze coming off Lake Michigan. I laid down between them, her knees, like I belonged there, my face between her breasts. She touched my forehead, sort of combed my hair with her fingers and we fell asleep, while the sun set and the breezes cooled off the lake.

LARRY
That's why you caught colds?

HARRY
Yes, I guess, but really being with a woman, Larry, is like everything will be all right, now, and it is, but, sometimes it isn't though, really. Sometimes it's real ugly.

LARRY
Looking?

HARRY
I mean inside. Hurting. All of a sudden they're someone else, someone you don't even know, never knew, a stranger you never even met before, and when that happens its very hard to control your emotions.

(HARRY touches LARRY on the back of his neck with the edge of the envelope. LARRY takes it.)

Now, what could I do for you, Larry?

LARRY
Whatever you like, I like.

HARRY
Do what I like?

LARRY
You've been out-of-the-closet for a long time I bet. Were you a father? Daddy?

HARRY
Not exactly.

LARRY
Just a manipulator. And you got away with it.

HARRY
How can you say that?

(He touches LARRY's belt buckle)

LARRY
How?

HARRY
Yes. How do you know I got away with it?

LARRY
O.K., I was guessing. Did you get away with it?

HARRY
(Removes LARRY's belt from around his waist.)
Well now, did I get away with it?

LARRY
Are you totally deaf?

HARRY
I worked my ass in advertising . . .

LARRY
See! Out and hustling.

HARRY
Worked my ass off, I mean.

LARRY
Oh yeah? Who was that for?

HARRY
That was for all of you (Margaret and the kids) . . . us.

(He drops the belt on the sofa.)

LARRY
You didn't need the money. I think you were doing it for you. Every day only for you. To restore your sagging, flagging ego from the night before. You think I'm Margaret.

HARRY
No, believe me. You're much better than Margaret.

LARRY
Yes. (Slower) Why is it different with me right now than it was with the "good" Margaret? Maggie.

HARRY
You're a man. You're Larry.

LARRY
You're lonely, you're old, you're going to die soon, and you want someone around to clean up the mess.

HARRY
What? I'm not going to die soon, and when I do I don't care who buries me.

LARRY
See?! Just like the drunk in the street.

HARRY
See what?

LARRY
Remember what happened with me and Mary?

(Takes wallet from his hip pocket, selects a single, then offers it to HARRY)

Here's a dollar. Go kill yourself.

HARRY
I don't get the connection.

LARRY
When I die, don't care who buries me. You're only saying that so I will say I care. Well, I don't.

HARRY
Are you sure?

LARRY
No. (Replaces the bill in his wallet) I kinda like you here when I get home, you dirty old fuck.

HARRY
I'm only 40 . . .

SOUND: TELEPHONE RINGS ONCE.

. . . something.

SOUND: "This is Larry. Leave a message. Beep."

LARRY
Did you write the note?

JILL'S VOICE
(From answering machine)
I don't understand you, Larry. When you left this morning you said you would be home tonight and you asked me to call you. It's now . . . whatever. Oh, I don't know, maybe I'll just call a locksmith. 'Bye. Love you.

LARRY
How could she love me? She doesn't even know me.

HARRY
Do you mean in two weeks you never told her about the Baths?

LARRY
Are you kidding?

SOUND: TELEPHONE RINGS AGAIN AND THE ANNOUNCEMENT, DISCONNECT AND THE DIAL TONE.

I do want a family though.

HARRY
Family is precious, very precious.

(The following beat is spoken by each as one)

LARRY
I make enough money. I'm a Star, famous. Everyone wants to show me. I could get married, be a father like you.

HARRY
It's a very basic adult need.

LARRY
More than that . . .

HARRY
. . . part of growing up.

LARRY
. . . it's a primal need.

HARRY
. . . procreation . . .

LARRY
It's how we really live forever.

HARRY
. . . only family is eternal.

LARRY
If I had children, I could die then live forever in their children's children.

HARRY
Our kids came out of the freezer.

LARRY
(Pause) Are you normal Harry? No, don't think so. Far and away from it wouldn't you say?

HARRY
It's a small price to pay for immortality, death I mean.

SOUND: TELEPHONE RINGS AND THE ANNOUNCEMENT. "this is Larry, leave a message. Beep." THEN DIAL TONE

(Harry sings the Buddy Holly song)
"That'll be the day. When you say goodbye"

LARRY
"That'll be the day . . . ay . . . ay. . . "

HARRY and LARRY
. . . when I die."

HARRY
Just looking for someone to love and who loves . . . me.

LARRY
More than anyone else?

HARRY
This is what matters most.

SOUND: TELEPHONE RINGS AND THE ANNOUNCEMENT. "This is Larry, leave a message. Beep."

JILL'S VOICE
(From answering machine)
I didn't have any more change. The operator wouldn't place a collect call to just any old locksmith or your machine.

(HARRY picks up the telephone and its cradle.)

I hate begging for quarters on the east side. In this weather? Larry, it's cold out here. No one out here believes that I could've locked myself out. They think it's a new scam. If I ever find out that you are there I'll kill you with my bare hands, or send Bonaparte to your throat.

(HARRY finally gets the telephone to LARRY.)

LARRY
Jill . . . ? Hello?

SOUND: THE LOUD TONE FROM THE ANSWERING MACHINE.

HARRY
Disconnected.

LARRY
With her bare hands. Oh, why doesn't she just get in a cab and "COME ON DOWN."

HARRY
Just pick up the phone next time and tell her.

(HARRY moves to the portable bar. LARRY follows.)

LARRY
Tell her what Harry? That I'm gay? That my friends are dying and I want to be with her so bad it leaves me aching all over? Whatever I tell her, I'll tell her in person. In private. Just her and me. Besides, I can't find her keys, man. I can't even find my jacket.

HARRY
(Cold, distant) So, you want a drink?

LARRY
Thanks. Jack-on-the-rocks. Look Harry, after I brought you home, I asked you to stay for the weekend because I thought I needed someone more experienced in the ways of the white man. I thought I could learn something from you.

HARRY
About the ways of the universe, you mean.

(LARRY puts ice in a "high-ball" glass and hands it to HARRY.)

LARRY
Maybe. But, if I'm looking for a father figure, really, my Dad worked in the steel mill, on the floor with the other guys. The guy was strong, you know? Muscles, not like you.

(HARRY gets the bourbon and a "rocks" glass.)

HARRY
So, I'll join the "Y". What was your mother like?

(HARRY pours the ice from LARRY's glass into the roly-poly then pours the bourbon over it.)

LARRY
My Aunt told me that Mom liked the movie magazines . . . the stars and their secret desires.

HARRY
(Hands LARRY the drink)
An on-the-rocks glass for a bourbon on-the-rocks.

LARRY
Then I was fostered out to a family of 12 that lived in a large shoe in Pittsburgh. They didn't like me because I was this weird kid who wouldn't act blind. Plus . . .

(Suddenly LARRY throws the full glass directly toward HARRY. It shatters against a brick wall near the entrance to the loft.)

LARRY
My grades were better than theirs. I don't like the feel of a cold bottom on my palm. Only a hot bottom on my palm. Get it? Put some ice cubes, three, and a double shot of bourbon in the highball glass. Leave me some warm glass at the top to hold on to. No beer mugs please. Wine glass with a stem is O.K., too, but only with shaved ice. Call it a "misty American." O.K.?

HARRY
Oh, O.K.

LARRY
Or let me do it myself.

(HARRY fixes LARRY's drink as requested.)

After two years the older brother took me into one of the larger closets. At confessional a few days later he told the priest. Exit the Hubbard family.

HARRY
We all have our "Uncle Charlies," you know, like in TOMMY. Mine was Uncle Bill . . . Rogers, actually.

LARRY
You were fondled by your uncle Bill Rogers? Tell me.

HARRY
I fondled him mostly, under a big old bed. He was seventeen. I was nine or ten.

LARRY
Did you really kill her?

HARRY
Margaret?

LARRY
Are there others? How many?

HARRY
What do you think?

LARRY
No, I don't think so, but maybe, who knows? No. Couldn't be. Not my Harry. (Pause) Did you really kill her? Harry?

HARRY
Why should I tell you?

LARRY
Tell me the truth because we shared . . . something . . . a passion, not so long ago. We loved each for a very thrilling moment. And remember the other night? We could do it again, share it again. Maybe I'll teach you to dance with me. "Walk on the Wild Side" Even let you lead. (Pause) You really need to tell someone.

HARRY
Where were you this afternoon?

LARRY
When this afternoon?

HARRY
You told me you were at Basquiat's show.

LARRY
The note . . . like . . . it was a memory. His. Now, tell me. (Pause) I was here with him, doing it like in the note.

HARRY
But, you said you loved me. Where was the maid?

LARRY
It's Saturday, Harry. Maybe she went shopping . . . or just stayed and watched.

HARRY
Oh, god, I hope he used something.

LARRY
What?

HARRY
Doesn't it . . . hurt?

LARRY
Like a virgin every time. Need the perfect angle and lots of lu-bri-ca-tion. I live on the edge if you haven't noticed, Harry. Is that your real name?

HARRY
Of course it's my real name.

LARRY
"You Larry, me Harry." We laughed. Remember? I mean, you're not. You're smooth and silky even, like me.

HARRY
Harry needs Larry to start over. (Slight pause) I need to start all over with the kind of love that only you can give me . . . not what I had at home. What they called love was not really love, was it? Unconditional. That's the love I want to share with you, Larry. Unconditional love. The love that we had together last week, this is the "what I want," for the rest of my life. Above all that, I want to be able to take care of you. I really need to take care of you, as a father would his son. Let me. Please, dance with me? Now? Hold me close Larry. Please?

(He moves to LARRY, wraps his arms around him and gently tries to move him)

"It's just like starting over," says John to Yoko. That's what Harry wants to do with Larry. Our love is so special. Let's take a chance and start over. What do you say Larry? Can we start over? That's what I want to do. I just want to start over with you. What is that? (He glances down between their bodies) Touch, touch me love. Touch touch touch touch me love. Just one hug will do.

LARRY
First tell me how you killed her. Margie?

HARRY
Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss me love.

LARRY
Tell me the truth.

HARRY
I just told you the truth. But you don't really want the truth do you Larry? Not from me, right?

LARRY
Did you attack her with a hammer? A knife from the kitchen?

HARRY
She died from a bullet wound.

LARRY
How many? Only one? Two? Where? What kind of gun?

HARRY
It was a revolver, I think. I don't remember. I mean, yes it was a revolver. It's hard to remember, I mean talk about. Can we not talk about it please? I'll show you the newspaper clippings, photos. All the gory detail.

LARRY
Great, but I can't see photos. Where did it come from?

HARRY
What? Where did what come from?

LARRY
The revolver. Did someone bring it over to kill her, or was it already there, somewhere?

HARRY
It was my birthday. O.K.?

LARRY
Was it a birthday present?

HARRY
No. I owned it long before that godforsaken night.

LARRY
July 19th, right? Cancer, Scorpio rising, eternally. See?

HARRY
Yes, well, O.K., when I came home she was in my bed, with . . . a stranger. I didn't see them at first. His wife, or girlfriend, whatever she was, she met me at the door. She
was in this half-a-maid outfit, apron and little head thing, no dress, naked under the apron . . . with fish-net stockings and heels. "Good evening, Sir." I said who the hell are you? Where's my wife, Margaret? Where are the children?

(HARRY moves to the bar)

She said she had a surprise for me. Then she took me by the hand, put my hand on her ass and led me up the stairs to my bedroom. I should have been surprised when I saw them, but I wasn't. My wife and the stranger were naked in my bed. They laughed. This is really very humiliating, you know?

(He puts ice in a glass)

LARRY
You told me you were AA in Chicago.

HARRY
It was my usual home-from-the-office time . . . about 9:00. She said she thought a ménage à quatre on my birthday might get me excited.

(He pours scotch, then soda, and crosses to the sofa and sits.)

LARRY
Did it?

HARRY
It didn't. No. I told her it wasn't about arousal, it was about Vietnam, the impotence I felt. She never understood. Do you? I feel betrayed, again. Well, anyway, I told her I would pick up her sperm bank kids from the sitter and be back in an hour and I wanted the nice couple and their costumes to be gone when I returned. When I came back with the kids, she was dead.

LARRY
When you came back?

HARRY
. . . in the bathroom.

(HARRY finishes his drink, puts glass on the floor, reaches under the sofa brings up the case.)

LARRY
You never left.

HARRY
O.K. Right. That's true, Larry, I didn't go to get the kids right away. I waited outside for about an hour until the couple left, the swingers, then went back inside. She was in the shower.

(He unlocks the attaché case.)

LARRY
What's in the attaché case? Pictures?

HARRY
Nothing. I went in, sat down on the stool, top down, and I tried to explain, above the noise of the steaming shower, that I didn't really understand what was going on.

(His shoulders begin to shake silently. He removes a revolver and its silencer wrapped in a white handkerchief from within the case. He stares at one and then the other.)

LARRY
What's that then? In your hand?

HARRY
Handkerchief.

LARRY
Yeah? Nice detail, but I want the simple truth without all the Victorian embellishment. Did they ever find the couple?

HARRY
What couple?

LARRY
The swingers, Harry.

HARRY
Why should I lie about it to you?

LARRY
You lie to me all the time.

HARRY
Never. I have never lied to you.

LARRY
OK, go on.

HARRY
It's a confession, practically.

LARRY
Not yet it isn't. What else did you tell her?

HARRY
I told her I knew she was unhappy with me. Our relationship was never very satisfying for either of us since my part in the war. And then, while shampooing her hair, she started yelling at me for embarrassing her in front of her friends.

LARRY
So you killed her in the shower, all sudsy and wet?

HARRY
No! I didn't KILL her. But I wanted to, God, I just wanted her to shut up. Who was this woman at my house, in my bathroom. This bitch, this liberated whore. Who was she? Maybe if I left her alone, she would finish, towel off, take her fee and leave. So, I stood up and walked out of the bathroom to my bedroom, got undressed and laid down.

(He fits the silencer on the barrel)

LARRY
You didn't kill her, after finding her in bed fucking a stranger? Your wife? What kind of a fucking man are you? What did you do, Harry? Did you go to bed, sleep it off? What? Who picked up the kids? Come on, tell me the truth!

HARRY
(HARRY rises from the sofa with the revolver)
I didn't get undressed, you're right. I got the revolver from the drawer in the night table next to our bed, my side, and right, I did go get the kids earlier. I picked up the kids earlier, and they were in their pajamas already, and now they were up in their separate rooms.

(Looks at the revolver)

The silencer was already attached. We kept a silencer on it because I didn't want to wake the kids if I ever had to use it against an intruder in the middle of the night. We had many burglaries while I was in Vietnam. I carried the revolver back into the bathroom. I asked her to turn off the water. She did, without even seeing the gun. It must have been the old authority she sensed in her husband. She opened the shower stall door. She was standing there all sudsy, all over, with lots of shampoo in the long dark hair piled on top of her head. I raised the nose of the revolver to her right nipple, my favorite, the super sensitive one, and she froze, holding her breath like a shiny statue caught in a Spring rain, except for the good ol' reliable right nipple which quickly moved to a full erection. My groin area tingled as I pulled back the hammer and pointed the open end of the barrel at her face. She stared at me. I stared back, like that time at the party when we first met. Just then a strand of her hair soaked with shampoo dropped down over her forehead into her face. I wanted to wipe it away, the hair, the soap, but her left hand moved, touched my thigh, moved up it, gently brushing against my fly. I wish she had stayed, but her hand continued to move very, very slowly up my chest, to my arm, my hand to the barrel of the revolver. She touched it like, well, like she never touched me, ever. The fear in her eyes and then it went off. It exploded in her face.

LARRY
That's 100% Mickey Spillane.

HARRY
How would you know? Braille book-of-the-month club?

LARRY
O.K. So, you killed her.

HARRY
The revolver exploded accidentally. Who are you?

LARRY
You murdered your then-wife Margaret.

HARRY
It went off all by itself. I had no control.

LARRY
What do you mean, you had no control? Take some responsibility, Frank.

HARRY
Who's Frank?

LARRY
Who's Harry?

(Pause)

HARRY
I am not a murderer. I didn't kill her . . . intentionally.

LARRY
The gun was in your hand, pointed at her face and your finger was on the trigger. Was the safety off?

HARRY
I don't remember if I took it off.

LARRY
What did you do with the gun?

HARRY
It was never found.

LARRY
It was registered to you, wasn't it?

HARRY
Threw it into the lake.

LARRY
What lake?

HARRY
Lake . . . Michigan.

LARRY
Good. Come over here. Let me give you a hug.

(HARRY goes to LARRY. HARRY faces upstage. They embrace. HARRY's left arm holds the revolver and hangs at his left side.)

I believe you. Poor baby. Now, let me tell you what I want to do. The new work in the studio? The unfinished draped terra cotta? The clay is wet, of course, so don't touch it. It's my impression of Jill's torso in response to my touch. She sat for me after my opening last week. She thought it was weird sitting naked for a blind artist. Manyetta is definitely jealous in her God-like way. She's a very sensuous woman, Jill is. And she laughs at everything I say, almost. Try to relax Harry, it'll be all right. Her skin is so soft. And her mind is sharp. She's so savvy and inquisitive. She gets me so fucking hot just thinking about her. She's a virgin too, you know? Like me. Don't laugh Harry! I mean the regular way, with the opposite sex, you know, the way you and your wife, Margie, did it.

(LARRY drops his left hand as HARRY brings the gun to the middle of his own upper back.)

HARRY
Maggie.

LARRY
Right. Maggie. What a sense of power, bringing someone, especially a woman, to orgasm. My terra cotta impression of Jill's naked torso immortalized in silent orgasm. It'll be the featured work of my Fall show at the Case. I want to get it into the Met, but I'll probably have to die first.

HARRY
What do you want to do?

(HARRY begins to move his buttocks side to side and LARRY responds)

Larry? You said you'd tell me.

LARRY
To understand, to care for, to realize and be able to love someone who really loves you back. Harry, I think I want Jill, to be able to love her for real.

HARRY
(HARRY starts to move his feet)
Nothing lasts forever, Larry. Remember? I'll wait.

LARRY
Maybe I was wrong.

SOUND: DOWNSTAIRS DOOR BUZZER: LOUD AND UGLY.

HARRY
I'll get it.

(HARRY puts the revolver in his waistband, crosses.)

LARRY
It's probably Jill, the little darlin'. Sorry, but you'll have to leave.

(HARRY is frozen upstage center.)

I gotta talk to Jill. Now, get packed.

(LARRY crosses to the speaker box)

HARRY
Don't answer the bell, Larry. Please? I love you.

(LARRY presses the "TALK" button.)

LARRY
Who is it?

JILL'S VOICE
(Explodes with anger From the wall speaker box)
It's me Godammit!

LARRY
Jill? Great! (To HARRY) She came down.

JILL'S VOICE
(From the speaker box, angry)
Why didn't you answer your phone. Who's there with you? How long have you been home? I could see the light from across the street when I got out of the cab. Can I have my keys please? Throw them down. The cab's waiting.

LARRY
(To the speaker box)
Twelve floors? Wait a minute. I'm sorry really, I am. Wait. I need you. I was very busy playing shrink to my dinner guest. Come on up I'll give you money for the cabby.

JILL'S VOICE
(From the speaker box)
No. I'm not coming up. I am really pissed off, Larry. Did you find my keys?

(HARRY turns downstage)

LARRY
Still looking. Come up and help me.

(HARRY moves between LARRY and the elevator door.)

Bring Bonaparte. I'll tell you a story about some people this guy and his ex-wife knew in Chicago. Maybe you know him. Harry something. He says he's at Burnett. (To HARRY) She's from Chicago, too.

(He reaches past HARRY and presses the button which releases the lock on the outside door and unlocks the elevator door to the loft.)

(HARRY draws the revolver and moves to LARRY.)

LIGHTS: DURING the following ACTION THE floor indicator ABOVE THE ELEVATOR GOes TO ONE.

(LARRY moves around HARRY to the bathroom and we hear the sound of running faucets)

HARRY
(Calling offstage)
Do you really want to be all alone with her, now, with the smell of the illiterate still on your body?

(LARRY re-enters from the bathroom and goes to center stage facing HARRY.)

Lights: The floor indicator above the elevator shows its approach to the 12th floor from the 1st.

LARRY
What's wrong Harry? (Smugly) I showered completely before dinner.

HARRY
Can't trust you. You selfish, insensitive . . .

LARRY
What?

HARRY
Pervert.

LARRY
What's wrong?

HARRY
Commie . . .

LARRY
Manyetta?

HARRY
. . . artist.

LARRY
Who are you?

HARRY
I am your benefactor, Larry, your patron. Your angel of death. The great immortalizer.

(HARRY raises the revolver. LARRY freezes)

Sound: Pleasant sounding bell

(HARRY spins. Elevator door opens. He points the revolver at it as BONAPARTE, a black pit bull terrier, leaps toward the gun. His attack on the revolver is aborted by the leash that is wrapped around JILL's wrist. She is yanked into the room as HARRY puts the revolver high behind his own back out of sight of BONAPARTE and JILL.)

JILL
(Loudly)
NO!

(BONAPARTE halts.)

Dalton? Dalton Eisenstadt. What the hell are you doing here? Oh, right, the out-of-towner. Sit Bonaparte! (The dog sits, quickly) You told Larry you're at Burnett? (Slight pause) But everybody knows you're not at Burnett anymore, Dalton. Remember? After Margaret's murder, the headlines? Bad press Dalton. We lost one real big account, at least. (Longer pause as HARRY only stares, then) O.K., Larry let's find my key.

(HARRY lowers the gun to his side)

LARRY
Jill, he has a gun, I think.

(HARRY moves to elevator, BONAPARTE rises, HARRY, raisng revolver, turns and freezes as tableau: front lights fade to silhouette.)

SOUND: low dog growl seguÉ to screaming children

CURTAIN