From the author: A one-act play about love and remembrance.
EXT. Mid-morning; Springtime. A backyard flagstone patio. Downstage is a flower bed filled with, let's say, phlox. Stage right and stage left backdrop is a red brick wall topped with white-painted concrete. Crepe myrtle, etc., whatever necessary to suggest a garden. Centerstage is square flagstone patio extending downstage from sliding glass door. Round table/umbrella combo, with white-painted wrought iron chairs.
Seated at the table stage left is PAOLO, a salty-haired man of indeterminate middle age. His Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirt belie the gargantuan weight of sadness and self-doubt he carries around like a mailbag full of undelivered letters to Santa from dying children. He's methodically scanning a newspaper, sipping from a coffee mug.
The sliding glass door opens and SUZANNE enters, carrying her own mug and a coffee airpot. Early middle aged, pleasant features, not overly concerned about hair and makeup. Wearing men's pajamas, a bathrobe and large sunglasses.
SUZANNE: More coffee, Hon?
PAOLO [Looks up with an expression of harried bafflement]: You call me a fucking German?
SUZANNE [Sits down and tops his mug off]: Why do I even talk to you in the morning? Why do I keep trying?
PAOLO: Daddy issues. [Sips coffee.] Good coffee.
SUZANNE: It's half Jameson's.
PAOLO: Nice job. [Abruptly crumples up newspaper section and hurls it away.] Christ! I shoulda been a mailman like my brother Rolando. At least that prick gets steady work. [Sound of a cellphone; ringtone is Siegfried's Funeral March. He hurriedly pulls it out of his pocket.] What? No, thank you. No. No. Stop it. I know they tell you to keep talking even after I say no, but I swear to Christ if you don't shut up right now I'll find out where you live and burn your house to the fucking ground. Fine, you too. [Hangs up.]
SUZANNE [Reading the Home & Garden section]: Was that Luis?
SUZANNE: Your cousin Luis?
PAOLO: My cousin, yes, my mother's sister's kid, why not my cousin Louis? I need him to help me haul something. I mean, no, it wasn't him, obviously, it was a telemarketer, but I'm waiting for a call back from my half-wit cousin Louis. Did you say Luis?
SUZANNE: Isn't that his name?
PAOLO: No, Luis is not his name, it's Louis. My mother is the one who gave her whole brood Latino names because she's nuts. My cousins are Lou and Al and Benjamin, like that. [Puts his head in his hands, rubbing his temples.]
SUZANNE: But isn't your aunt Latino too? Like your mother?
PAOLO [Raises his head]: What? Why are you torturing me? Nobody's Latino. My dad was German-Irish, my mother is a Jew from Connecticut. I've told you all this before, for Christ's sake.
SUZANNE: Take it easy, Honey.
PAOLO: I don't have to take it easy. That was our deal, we always can say what we want, just let it out, blow off steam and shout and yell and spout gibberish if we feel like it. You can be a bitch to your heart's content, I can rant and rave and that's why we're so good together. Fuck, don't take that away from me, Baby please, I've lost so much, I've got nothing left, I pissed it all away, don't just impulsively shitcan a beautiful relationship that's worked so well for so long, for -- what, how long now?
SUZANNE: Two weeks today! Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart. [She beams at him.]
PAOLO: Feels like goddamn years. I mean, yes! Two weeks! Have you any idea what a record that is for me, how amazing it is that you're still talking to me? I know it's partly the medication keeping you on an even keel, but I'll take what I can get.
SUZANNE: Feel better!
PAOLO [considers it, then scowls]: Rolando's a prick! [Drinks coffee.] No, I'm a prick.
SUZANNE: Nature "prick'd thee out for women's pleasure."
SUZANNE: Sure. Why not?
PAOLO: Thanks. Okay, you take your turn, go ahead and go off on me about my cousin.
SUZANNE: I thought you didn't like him, that's all.
PAOLO: Doesn't matter, I'm in a goddamn corner and he's the devil I know. [Puts his head down on the table. Muffled.] The only member of my insane fucking family who won't hang up on me. I'm scraping bottom. I'm at the fucking bottom of a fucking barrel full of fucking bad apples.
SUZANNE: Okay. Bottom of the barrel.
PAOLO: I'm through the bottom. I'm in a stinking black underworld inhabited by verminous, drug-addled cretins the likes of my cousin Luis.
PAOLO: My last hope, God help me. And he's got a van.
SUZANNE: Like your friend from college?
PAOLO [Baffled again]: What, you mean Van? No, that's just a guy called Van. Where are your pills?
SUZANNE [Laughing]: No, Sweetie, that girl who made a sculpture out of you.
PAOLO [Stares at her wordlessly for a few beats, breathing a little heavily]: You mean Monica? Baby, if I hadn't sold my gun long ago my brains would be decorating the wall right now. I can't take this today. What the hell are you talking about? She opens her mouth, but he explodes -- Jesus Christ, I told you she was avant-garde? Is that it, I told you about her found art installations and you just pulled out the word van? Louis has a van. What is wrong with you?
SUZANNE [Takes off her sunglasses]: Sweetie, what about your first sexual experience? You spent three hours talking about it.
PAOLO: I did?
SUZANNE: A strange thing to talk about on our first date, I thought, but I forgave you, which set up the pattern for our entire two-week romance. Fourteen days I'll never get back.
PAOLO: You're not saying it's over, are you?
SUZANNE: So your first time was with Monica, and it was on the patchouli-reeking shag carpet of Monica's van, which half the boys on campus referred to as the Vaginamobile. Monica's van.
PAOLO: Technically it was a Microbus.
SUZANNE: Artists who really are avant-garde probably don't call themselves that.
PAOLO: That's the one time you actually listened to me.
SUZANNE: Did you know you're the first man who made me feel like a complete woman? I can't be whole without being a vessel for your manseed.
SUZANNE: No. Hey -- what's my middle name? You don't know, do you?
SUZANNE: Do you?
SUZANNE: I've listened ad nauseum to more details than anybody should ever have to know about your entire twisted life, and you've never asked me a single question about myself because you don't care. Because I'm not your favorite subject, which is you.
PAOLO: Huh. Guess so.
SUZANNE: The next guy I'm involved with -- let's call him Samuel -- Samuel's going to be interested in all aspects of my life because he'll find me fascinating -- that's what I'm holding out for from now on. But I'll edit out these last two weeks from my bio, because Samuel will think so highly of me, I won't want him to know that I spent almost three hundred hours in your company.
PAOLO: That much?
SUZANNE: With luck I'll block out the whole period. That's right, asshole, I was just pretending not to know all about your congenitally defective family. Just to torture you.
By now they're both standing, the table-cum-umbrella between them, PAOLO open-mouthed.
SUZANNE [After a few beats]: Say something! [He meekly sits back down, and SUZANNE tromps back into the house, leaving the sliding door open.]
PAOLO [Distractedly]: One afternoon it was warm and I slept on a rubber air mattress floating on a lake, and it was like being in the womb but knowing you're in the womb. Self-awareness unburdened by identity. Rocking on the edge of warm oblivion. Pure.
From beyond the brick wall, suddenly we hear ROLANDO.
ROLANDO: Hey Paolo! Here's your mail, bitch! [A box marked "FRAGILE" comes hurling over the wall, falling crumpled on the flagstones with the sound of something rare and lovely and brittle being abruptly transformed into trash, to hold company with cigarette butts and fish heads. You know the sound.]
PAOLO [Mechanically]: Thanks. [Turns to call into the house.] Packing, Babe?
SUZANNE [From within]: Just a sec! [She emerges, dressed, with an overnight case.] Been packed for a week.
PAOLO: So, where are you off to?
SUZANNE: Anywhere else. I hear it's nice this time of year. Bye! [Vanishes back into the house. Momentarily we hear the front door opening and slamming.]
PAOLO gets up, finally, goes over to crumpled box of broken pretty things. Nudges it with his foot.