Lights burst on.
At home. Two people in their bedroom, already deep in the middle of it. A nice little fight. Wham!
GREG … No, no, no, no, no, uh-uh, no!
GREG No, that’s not it! / I didn’t say that!
STEPH Don’t lie, you fucker! / Yes, you did!
GREG Steph …
STEPH No, don’t, do not “Steph” me right now!
GREG Come on, Stephanie …
STEPH Don’t do that, you prick! Don’t play the “Stephanie” game, do not do it!
GREG But I didn’t say anything, I’m telling you the truth here! And I definitely didn’t use that word, so … that’s …
GREG I didn’t! I would never say that about you, ever, and I’m not gonna be …
STEPH Bull-shit!/ BULLSHIT! Fucker …
GREG I did not, I don’t care what she said to you … / I didn’t say “ugly”! No. I’m …
STEPH She was in the other room, you bastard! In the next room, OK, so don’t try and Lance Armstrong your way outta this one!
GREG I’m not! / I barely mentioned you, that’s all. In a nice way. It wasn’t, like, some big …
STEPH Backpedaling like some … / Fuck you.
GREG Look, God, I just wanna go to …
STEPH I don’t care what you wanna do. Dick.
GREG OK, would you stop, please?
STEPH I’m not gonna stop, no, for what? Huh?! What for?
GREG Because I’m, I’m, so I can explain the …
STEPH You don’t need to, I’ve already heard all the explanations I wanna hear and I don’t believe you. You get that?/ I-donot-ever-believe-the-shit-that-comes-out-of-your-mouth. Ever.
GREG Yes. / Yeah, well, that’s fucked. OK?
STEPH No, you’re fucked, that’s what’s fucked here, mister, you are … you are fucked. Big time.
GREG This is just stupid, so I’m not gonna …
STEPH Don’t do it! Do not walk out of here when we’re fighting or I swear to God I’ll … I will murder your fish when you’re gone. I’ll flush them or I’ll, I’ll do whatever it takes but I will hurt you and you will not like it! That’s what I’ll do so you’d better just stay right there—no, I don’t want you to come over and hold me, God no—but you better stay around and argue this shit out or I’m gonna … wreck your life a little bit. Swear I fucking will—I don’t care if I’m late going in or not. So.
They both stop for a moment, letting this sink in. STEPH angrily
piles her hair into a makeshift bun-type thing.
GREG Man, this is … you’re talking nuts now. / Seriously.
STEPH Don’t say that, either. / I mean, boy, if you’re looking for things to get shitty then OK, but otherwise I wouldn’t say a thing like that, not anything about being psycho or that sorta junk. / Uh-uh. No.
GREG Stephanie, listen … / Please …
STEPH Fuck “please.” Please is shit. Please is like something you crap out in your pants and are too embarrassed to clean up … I’m not gonna even listen to “please.” No.
GREG OK, then, I don’t know what to say to you about this … because …
STEPH The truth. I might be willing to overlook your general fuckheadedness if I felt as if the truth might be on its way at some point here …
GREG I’m telling you the … whole …
STEPH Don’t say it if it’s not because I will know and you know that I’ll know. You’ll know it and I will pounce on you like I was death itself if you’re lying to me … Seriously. Like fucking death.
GREG Ya know, you swear a lot when you’re mad.
STEPH Fuck. You.
GREG I’m just saying …
STEPH And I’m saying “fuck you.” If that’s all you can do right now, try and dilute the issue at hand by sidetracking us … / Or getting us all turned around by …
GREG … I’m just pointing it out … / I’m not, I swear I’m not, but you’re being all …
STEPH … or, or trying to make me laugh or any of that shit that you usually do, then “fuck you” is what I have to say! To you.
GREG Fine then.
STEPH Yeah, fine.
STEPH O-kay. (Beat.) So?
GREG What? And don’t you have to be at work?
STEPH Don’t deflect me, asshole …
GREG I’m not! I’m just trying to be …
STEPH What did you say that she heard and then called me about? / Hmmm? What?
GREG I didn’t … / God …
STEPH I’m telling you the truth about what I’ll do to you. I am.
GREG Steph …
STEPH Greg …
GREG I really didn’t say anything! (Beat.) It’s not, I mean, did she say that I … ? What?
STEPH You don’t remember? Hmmm?
GREG No. I mean, I was talking to Kent and we were laughing about stuff, about, like, I dunno—work and how this new guy who’s a real goof has been begging us to join our softball team so we’re joking about whatever and … that’s all. / Come on, Steph, you know how we are when we get …
STEPH Yeah? / What?
GREG Just talking! Jesus. Going on about our lives and situations and … / Nothing! It’s no big deal, anything we said, and if she is gonna call you every time I open up my mouth over at their place, then I’m never gonna go there again! All right? I’m not …
STEPH And ? / Wow, bet she’ll be crushed.
GREG I’m just saying … I’m sick of her acting like a cop even when she’s off duty. She isn’t one, OK, she’s not. / She’s a—it’s basically like being a hall monitor.
STEPH Fine then. / And so you’re talking …
GREG Honey, come on … don’t be all …
STEPH No, tell me. Tell me what you said.
GREG I didn’t say any …
STEPH About me. You said it loud enough for her to hear it, for her to repeat it to me in complete detail—verbatim—so you can say it to my face … Go on.
GREG Jesus …
STEPH Nope, that wasn’t it.
GREG Stephanie, stop it …
STEPH You want me to say it? How ’bout if we do it that way—I say it to you and you tell me if it’s true or not?
GREG I’m not, no … that’s stupid, so no.
STEPH You sure? Maybe it’s easier that way—treat you like a preschooler.
GREG I don’t need anything to be easier, OK, I don’t … Look, I’m not scared of you or about anything I said because it wasn’t a big deal; we had a few beers and maybe we were a bit loud out in the garage where we were talking, but I didn’t say … shit.
STEPH She was in the kitchen, Greg. Door to the kitchen was open. Voices travel. They’re made up of sound, case you didn’t know …
GREG Yeah, I’m down with the basic scientific principles, Steph, thanks very much for the … know-how there.
STEPH And so she’s cooking up some ground beef for tacos on the stove and she hears you, plain as day, going on about me and there is no doubt in her mind—that’s none, no doubt of any kind—that you said exactly what she repeated to me …
GREG I see. (Beat.) Over the sound of hot meat she can hear me talking?
STEPH Awww, you’re so … / You asshole …
GREG I’m just asking! / Don’t I get to ask any shit here or is it just a one-sided deal we got going now?
STEPH Don’t be a complete cock, all right? Don’t. I know that’s your soup of the jour but, please, just give me a little …
GREG Fine! So she can hear me talking—she’s suddenly like Wonder Woman or something and from an entire room away she hears me and what I’m saying to Kent as we’re out there banging away on his Chevelle. Is that it?
STEPH You mean the Bionic Woman, not Wonder Woman—who had various powers but hearing wasn’t one of ’em—I mean, of course she could hear, she wasn’t deaf, but not in any special way. The Bionic Woman had the super hearing … smart guy …
GREG Whatever! You know what I mean …
STEPH I do, yeah, that’s why I just corrected you on it. / Bionic Woman. Lindsay Wagner.
GREG Great. / Thanks.
STEPH Doesn’t matter, you’re just deflecting it again … Yes, she heard you guys, clear as day. / Or a bell, or whatever …
GREG Fine. / OK, and? And?
GREG What’d she say? I mean, that I said?
STEPH Oh, so now you want me to say it …
GREG If you need to so bad …
STEPH I thought you didn’t want me to, thought you said it was stupid.
GREG That was before …
GREG Yeah, before.
STEPH “Before” what?
GREG Before … you pissed me off.
STEPH Oh. Oh, I see … (Beat.) Before I pissed you off? You’re pissed off now?! Fucker! / God, you are such a prick, Greg …
GREG And again with the mouth. / Stop! My God, you’re like a Chris Rock concert or something … with all the …
STEPH Fuck you, asswipe! AHHHHHHHH!
GREG Can we not make the entire building aware of your psychotic break with reality?
STEPH Fuck you, fuck you, FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!
GREG OK, you know what, I don’t need to stand here and take this … I don’t. Throw the fish in the toilet again, it’s not like I’m gonna be surprised—I’m not about to hang out here and get abused like this. / I’m not. (Beat.) You’ve got a real issue with your temper there, Steph …
STEPH No, don’t you … / Don’t you even …
GREG I’m sorry but it’s true—you’re acting a little like one of those chicks from the seventies who started taking shots at President Ford or somebody … a fucking nutcase!
STEPH Shut up, fuckhead. / You fucker …
GREG I mean it. / You’re crazy—a goddamn loon!
STEPH Tell me what you said. / TELL ME, I just want you to say it and then I’ll stop!
GREG No … / No, you’re …
STEPH Say it! / SAY IT!
GREG It’s not … / I didn’t say … How did this happen, why are you such a freak? I mean, this is like a serious personality glitch you’ve got there …
STEPH SAY IT TO ME, SAY IT! / SAY IT NOW!
GREG Stephanie, stop it or I’ll call the cops myself, I will. / STOP! (Beat.) It’ll be me this time, OK, not the neighbors! I’m not kidding around here! Seriously …
STEPH THEN SAY IT! SAY IT. (Dead calm.) Just do it and I will quit.
GREG waits for a moment, gathers himself. STEPH watching his every move. Coiled.
GREG Fine. / (Checks watch.) It’s almost quarter of.
STEPH Fine. / Prick … do it. GO!
GREG I will. / I’m going to …
STEPH Then-do-it. / Then …
GREG … stop. OK? Just stop. (Beat.) Kent said something about a new girl at work, some younger gal who just got hired—she’s not in our division but over in the shipping office, works swing—and he thought she was hot. Said she was pretty and I agreed and that was all. Really. / Yeah.
STEPH That’s it? / Huh.
GREG No big deal. I mean, look … he’s always had an eye for, you know, whatever. It’s not my fault—I was just going along … (Beat.) And I don’t know why she’s gotta be saying something about me, stirring up trouble … I mean, fuck, I wasn’t the guy talking shit about some other—you know. I mean, think about that. OK? Just … ask yourself that question. About her. Or …
STEPH I see. (Beat.) And nothing about me?
GREG I’m … / I don’t think I said any …
STEPH You didn’t say anything about me compared to her? Nothing? / No?
GREG No. No, not in comparison or … / Nope.
STEPH Or anything like that? At all?/ You got this far, don’t fuck it up now …
GREG I said … No, what I said was, I know what I said now … This is it. I said this. It was, like, ummm, “Yeah, well, maybe Steph hasn’t got a face like that girl’s—maybe her face is just regular—but I wouldn’t trade her for a million bucks.” Something like that. / You know … / I was just …
STEPH Oh. / Ahhhh. / “Regular.”
GREG Yeah. That was all … I’m … yes. Regular.
GREG See? I never said “ugly.”/ I just …
STEPH Uh-huh. / Yep. That’s what Carly said to me you said. Those exact words.
GREG All right then. Which was not meant as any sort of comparison. / It wasn’t.
STEPH No? / Really?
GREG At all. It was more of, like, a point of contrast—with you as the good thing.
STEPH Huh. (Beat.) Even though she’s beautiful?
GREG Pretty. Yeah. It was meant as a compliment.
STEPH I see … (Beat.) Well, guess what?
STEPH gathers herself and heads to the door. Picks up an ashtray and fires it across the room at GREG. Just misses him and smashes against the wall.
STEPH It fucking isn’t!
STEPH storms out, leaving GREG alone in the room. He sits down on an ottoman and runs his hands through his hair. A slow shake of his head.
GREG … Oh, boy.
At work. GREG and KENT sitting around the break room of their workplace. In jumpsuits. Just finishing up their lunch—it’s after midnight and they’re both tired. Third-shifters.
KENT … and then what?
GREG She left. Drove off. / Took my car …
KENT Wow. / Bitch.
GREG Yeah. To her parents’ house or some crap like that, you know?
GREG Making a statement.
GREG Threw an ashtray at me, actually, and one of those pots, you know, with the handle on it …
KENT No, what?
GREG You know, where you make, like, pancakes and shit … You know …
KENT That’s a pan. Frying pan. / Or skillet, if you wanna get fancy.
GREG Oh. / Yeah, well, one of those …
KENT Whoa. (Beat.) I thought you said a “pot.”
GREG Whatever. It went whizzing by my head—I didn’t exactly take stock, I ducked. Stuck my head in the kitchen and bam!
KENT Fuck. (Beat.) Just so you know, though … it’s a pan.
GREG Fine! God …
KENT Dude, I used to work over at Denny’s, so … I should know. ’S a pan.
GREG OK, well, that’s what she threw …
GREG And nothing. Haven’t heard a word since. Two days.
GREG No call, no text, nothing. I rang up their place but I’m only getting the answering machine. (Beat.) Her mom’s eating this up, I’m sure. She hates me …
GREG Yeah. Left a message, anyway. (Beat.) I’m just, like, totally baffled by this …
KENT nods and yawns—checks his watch. He slaps GREG on the
back. GREG flinches as he opens up an energy snack.
KENT What’s that?
KENT Why’re you having that?
GREG What do you mean?
KENT You just had lunch—now you’re having one of those, too?
GREG Uh-huh. ’S the only way I’ll make it to break …
KENT That doesn’t make sense …
GREG They’re good, though. Supposed to give ya a little jolt of energy.
KENT Yeah, but they’re for, you know, like, as a supplement. If you don’t have a meal or instead of—not after you already ate.
KENT They’re not dessert. Even with all the chocolate on it …
GREG Huh. (Beat.) I think it’s carob.
KENT Whatever! That’s like having two meals.
GREG So? That’s OK …
KENT I guess. If you wanna get fat it is …
GREG I’m not gonna get fat because I had one of these things—it’s all natural stuff in it. Nuts and … I dunno. Seeds.
KENT You’d be surprised.
GREG Yeah, but … I mean, athletes eat ’em all the time. Olympians and whoever.
KENT Are you out running? Or swimming? Hmmm? I don’t see you doing cardio work or, like, lifting. Nothing. Athletes get away with that shit because they’re always active, chipping away at their bodies. Not you. (Beat.) Shoving anything you find on the counter over there into your stomach …
GREG Kent, it’s a fucking snack! Take it easy.
KENT Just pointing it out—got a group of guys counting on ya is all …
KENT And getting all chubby is not the way to win her back. / Or your face breaking out.
GREG Nice! / Thank you. (Beat.) Shit …
KENT Well … need you strong and fast for the team, man. Can’t have any dead weight.
GREG That’s really sensitive, thanks.
KENT Dude, it’s for you—I’m throwing a little love your way, don’t be a hater.
GREG Just shut up, OK? (Beat.) You got me out in right field. How good do I gotta be?
KENT Good enough to get us that motherfucking trophy! Huh? / (Pumps his fist.) Oh yeah!
KENT stands, points to a dusty shelf above the cabinets where
several other trophies stand. Nothing very new.
GREG I guess … / Yep. (Mock yell.) Woooaa!
KENT Dude, come on! Be serious now … (Beat.) They haven’t brought one a those home since I started working here—last one was in, like, eighty-six or something. That’s pathetic! (He slaps the table and sits.) This is the year! Without question.
GREG nods and checks a wall clock against his watch. Yawns.
KENT Third sucks.
GREG Yep. Pretty much.
KENT Even with the over time …
GREG Agreed. (Yawns.) I’m so beat, man …
KENT ’Cept for that new girl. Damn, she’s good-looking! / What? / I’m just saying. She’s a fox … (Beat.) I gotta take a dump.
GREG Ha! / You never change … / Go for it.
KENT Can’t. I’m waiting for Carly—she’s out on rounds. (Grins.) How gay is that?
GREG Very. (Beat.) She pisses me off.
KENT Hey man, don’t blame her for this.
GREG I don’t.
KENT Good, because you’re the one who said it.
GREG I know. Shit! (Beat.) ’Course, she didn’t need to jump on the phone and repeat it before I even got home, though, did she?
KENT Fuck, dude, she’s a girl!—they’ve got, like, sonar. It was a done deal, second it came outta your mouth.
GREG Yeah, well, she screwed me over but good. Steph is acting like … Crazy Horse …
KENT Exactly. Taking scalps …
KENT Noble savages my ass, right? (Beat.) They took people’s hair! Fuckers …
GREG Uh-huh. (Checks his watch.) … anyway, I’m just, you know, I’m saying that I’d never do something shitty like that to her. All behind her back and everything.
KENT Right. (Beat.) Fuck it, I’m gonna go.
GREG I’ll wait for ya.
KENT Cool. (Looks around.) If she shows before I get back tell her I’m in the can …
GREG I’ll probably flower it up a bit, but OK. Fine.
KENT nods and gathers up his trash, heading for the door. He dumps it—half goes onto the floor. He doesn’t stop.
GREG watches and shakes his head. Walks over with his own and tosses it; reaches down and collects the last of his buddy’s mess, throws it out.
CARLY enters with her lunch but stops short when she sees GREG. She’s wearing a full security uniform—the works.
GREG Kent’s using the restroom. I mean, in case you’re wondering.
GREG He’ll be back in a second. (Beat.) Tried to wait but, you know. Nature calls.
CARLY ’Kay. Thanks.
She starts to leave again, then turns back. Sits down at a table and begins to nibble on a packaged item.
GREG keeps his distance—circles around toward a window to have a look out. Reaches into his pocket for a book—CARLY is watching him, so GREG holds it up for her.
GREG It’s Poe. / Oh. (Nods.) ’S pretty dark …
CARLY I dunno who that is. / Yeah. Well, it’s night out.
GREG Right. (Smiles.) No, I meant that my … what he writes about is …
CARLY So it’s gonna be … you know. Dark.
GREG Yep. (Decides to let it go.) ’S true.
CARLY That’s why they call it that.
GREG What? Call what that?
CARLY Night. / ’Cause it gets dark at night, so.
GREG Oh. / Is that why?
CARLY I believe so …
GREG Huh. (Beat.) That doesn’t really make any sense …
GREG I mean, not really … They could call it “siesta” and it’d still be dark out. Or “raspberry” or whatever, doesn’t really matter. Night doesn’t have all that much to do with it …
CARLY Fine. / I was just making conversation …
GREG Great. / Thanks, Officer …
They wait silently for a moment. GREG glances down at his
book, then over at the door. Moves toward CARLY.
CARLY Is he coming yet?
GREG I don’t see ’im … (Beat.) Look, Carly, why’d you have to do that? / Call Steph and make some big ol’ …
CARLY What? / I didn’t do anything …
GREG Yeah, uh-huh, she’s all …
CARLY … I just …
GREG You got her totally worked up and, and, and she’s completely pissed, and now I can’t even get her to take my …
CARLY I’m sorry, but … she called me so you’re the one with a problem, obviously.
CARLY She did. On her way to work.
GREG She called you?
CARLY Yes. Twice. / The second time right from the parking lot of Super Cuts …
GREG Really?/ Why? I mean …
CARLY Because we’re friends, Greg. Because she needed someone to talk to today, and …
GREG Yeah, but … wait …
CARLY … because I would never say such a mean and horrible thing to her, that’s why.
GREG Oh. (Beat.) I actually meant the first …
CARLY So, yeah, she rang me up and we chatted, like friends do. We talked. (Beat.) About you, mostly.
GREG And—I mean, then, what’d she say? To me?
CARLY She didn’t say anything to you—it was to me, remember? Called me at home.
GREG Right, right, that’s what I meant …
CARLY She said stuff to me. About you. Not very nice stuff, either. She talked shit about you, if you really wanna know. OK?
CARLY Yeah, lots of shit and cried a little …
GREG Come on …
CARLY I’m not kidding! (Beat.) Said she even put in her notice, so … there. Happy?
GREG What? / Really?
CARLY Yep. / I’m not making stuff up to delight and entertain you. Your girlfriend cried on the phone to me and it doesn’t matter who called who. It doesn’t—she’s not mad because her best friend had the … guts to tell her the truth; she is upset because of the things you’ve said about her …
GREG Thing! One thing I said, and it wasn’t a, like, some big … Goddammit, why’d you tell her? Huh? Why?!
CARLY Why’d you say it?! Right back at you, OK? Why would you ever say a thing like that about someone … and particularly a person you supposedly like. Care for. (Beat.) I’m sorry but nobody, no-body, even the most clueless of guys, is gonna make that kind of mistake. You were being honest …
GREG No, it wasn’t meant to be a—I was saying a loving thing! (Looks at Carly.) I was!
CARLY Oh, really …
GREG Yeah. In a, you know, roundabout way …
CARLY Well, I’d send flowers next time instead, maybe … ’cause your communication skills suck. / The message was lost.
GREG Fine. / Whatever.
CARLY Yep. “Whatever” is right.
GREG All right, just don’t be so … don’t look so triumphant or whatnot. Do not. (Beat.) You guys love it when we do crap like this …
CARLY And what crap is that? Hmmm?
GREG You know … fuck up.
CARLY So you acknowledge it, then?
GREG Of course, yes! I told her that—said I’m sorry for … I think I said “I’m sorry.” I don’t remember now. She was yelling …
CARLY Yeah, she said that …
GREG She screamed and was swearing and it got a little … You know how she gets. We said stuff. But I think that I, yeah, I’m sure I did. Said “forgive me” or something …
CARLY Well, I’ll ask her …
Silence for a moment while CARLY glances over toward the door,
looking for KENT. GREG staring straight at her.
GREG What’s that mean?
CARLY I’m saying … when she calls again I will ask if that’s what you did.
GREG So, you mean … what? She’s not coming home now? This is it? / Is that what you told her to do? Huh?
CARLY I dunno. / No …
GREG Bullshit …
CARLY Hey, don’t swear at me, OK?
GREG No, seriously, Carly, that is, like, a bunch of bullshit and don’t do that to me, all right? Don’t get her all …
CARLY Greg, don’t start …
GREG Tell me what else you said! / Say it! I want you to tell me! / COME ON!
CARLY No! Greg, stop it! / Don’t! / STOP!
GREG goes to grab her by the arm as she gets up but CARLY
works to shake him off—she has the training, after all—they
both freeze as KENT walks in the room.
KENT Dude. Honey. What’s up?
CARLY He was …
GREG Nothing, man, I just wanted to …
KENT Haven’t you done enough damage with the ladies lately? Huh?
GREG Kent, I was …
KENT Don’t start in with my gal, all right? / Getting her all worked up …
GREG I wasn’t … / Dude, I’m …
CARLY It’s not anything, Kent, we just …
KENT Fine. We need to get back, anyway—got, like, thirty pallets of cereal backed up.
CARLY Hey, baby …
They have a shared moment—a little nuzzle for show; GREG is
forced to wait. To watch.
KENT See, that’s how you do it, man. Treat ’em nice … ’specially the ones with a badge.
GREG Yeah, great, thanks …
KENT Just a tip there, buddy.
CARLY Bye, sweetie.
KENT See you at seven, baby. (Slaps heron the butt.) Now go keep us safe, ’kay?
Another kiss and CARLY gathers her items—wanders off and
out. KENT watches her go.
KENT Amazing ass, you know?
GREG I dunno, man.
KENT You can say it, I don’t mind. I’m very OK with it, believe me …
GREG Whatever … (Beat.) And don’t try and trick me, dude—you’re totally jealous of her!
KENT I know … but I’m talking about in theory here. / Her ass is kicking, right? Come on, just say it …
GREG All right. / It’s nice, yes.
GREG OK, fine! It rocks. (Beat.) Jesus … Don’t be such a … dick about it …
KENT ’S a beautiful thing.
GREG I’m sure … Too bad her attitude sucks.
KENT Ha! Everything else is sweet, too. Whole body, and a great face …
GREG OK, OK. (Beat.) Anyhow, sorry before, with us getting a little hot there …
KENT No worries. I’m totally behind you.
KENT Hundred percent. (Shoves him.) Totally.
GREG Yeah, but you were all … I mean …
KENT Hey, I’m not crazy! Gotta cover my ass, the investment and all. Have to drop on the side of the missus in a flat-out open contest like that, ’course I do, but I’m completely with you. / (Beat.) They’re both being cunts about this …
GREG Got it. / Thanks. That’s …
KENT I’m just not willing to make lunch for myself all week so you can feel like some big-time Clarence Darrow—sorry, bro. No can do. / No matter how far back we go …
GREG I see. / Fine. OK.
GREG Not to be rude, but I’ve known you since we were freshmen—where the hell did you ever hear of Clarence Darrow?
KENT Dude, you’re not the only one who reads. (Pulls a Reader’s Digest out of a pocket in his overalls.) Ta-da!
KENT No shit. / (Beat.) Learned more sitting on the toilet than I ever did in school …
KENT laughs and fires the magazine onto a nearby counter.
GREG … great. / This is why Jesus wept.
Loud buzzer sounds overhead. KENT slaps GREG on the back,
points over at the trophies, and pumps his fist as he exits.
GREG nods and sits for a moment longer. Finally follows.
A moment with STEPH.
STEPH He hurt me, he really did, you know? I mean, I can take a lot, pretty much, anyway, but I’m, like, my face? That’s shit. It just is … (Beat.) Not that I think I’m some beauty—an old-fashioned glamour gal or anything, I don’t—but I’m not bad, ya know, not bad at all … and even if I was, ugly, I’m saying, even if I was not cute or close to that, unattractive by world standards, don’t I wanna be with someone who finds me beautiful? I think so. It’s not like a math equation or anything, it is fairly simple—you can’t be with a guy who finds you unpleasant to look at. Not that, but even on the fence … How can I? Knowing that he’s sitting there at dinner across from me but he’s always reaching for something, the salt or whatever, or looking around the room, and why? ’Cause he doesn’t wanna make eye contact. That would suck, completely suck if you were that woman and that was gonna be me—I’m saying once I knew how he felt about me, that was what I had to look forward to. Listen, it’s weird, I know that, because I don’t count looks as my top thing in a guy, not at all—look at Greg. He’s got a good face, really, not knockout but very OK, yet I never used to even think it to myself, I mean, envision him in that way. Sometimes, a friend or, like, some cousin of mine visited a few months back and she whispered to me at a family thing we were at, a barbecue, “God, he’s cute. He’s so cute!” And I looked over to where she was pointing, expecting to see a boy from the neighborhood—we know a lot of people, having grown up here since, like, forever—and she’s pointing at Greg. Just right there, my boyfriend, who’s over at the grill and laughing and making burgers for all of us … and he was, too. With the sun going down—you know how it shoots a ray out sometimes around something, like a halo, almost—it was doing that and he was bathed in this light for a second, in this splash of gold and creamy light, and I thought, “Yeah, he is. He really is a handsome man,” but, see, that still isn’t any big deal to me. Even though he is … in his own way … it’s not the thing about him that first made me like him. Uh-uh.
She thinks about this for a moment, mulling over what she’s just said. She nods her head.
STEPH I really do feel that, that I’m not this person who gets off on looks or the more, like, physical side of men but when it’s the other way around … shit, you know? It just totally hurts if you find out he’s not at all into your face, and why that is I don’t know, I mean, what a scientist would say about it, those people who are studying human behavior or whatnot … Not saying this is full of profound insight or anything but any woman I know, like, my age or younger, she’s gonna be super upset if she heard what I did. That her boyfriend thinks her face is “OK.” You can’t swallow that down and find a way to come up smiling or anything, you know what I’m saying? There is just no good way to take that! (Beat.) Why do we feel that way, though, I wonder? Is it maybe TV or magazines or something, our moms telling us that we’re pretty no matter what we look like … I’m not sure. I just know that women throw everything they’ve got into their physical being, and a main part of that—the main part—is the face. (Beat.) I go nuts if I still break out on my chin or anything, carry tweezers in my purse, and I’m not even, like, all crazy about it like a lot of my friends are … and every one of them, the ones that I’ve called, at least, they all said to dump him. They did. Because if he’s willing to say that, even to a friend, then you can bet he’s probably thinking even more than you know about. Can you imagine what he’s actually feeling about my body, and this isn’t about sex, not really, but just how he sees my legs or arms, anything … OK, yes, I’m thinking about all the rest of it, too, of course I am! The words he’ll use to describe my breasts or my butt or things like that … It’s too much, it is, I can’t even start to go there without wanting to throw up. I always felt like my face was one of my better parts and he’s talking about me like I’m some old Buick out in the backyard that he keeps thinking about fixing but just can’t get to it. (Laughs.) “Meant as a compliment,” he says to me, like that should calm my nerves or something, so … fuck that. I mean, really. Shit. I’m realistic and I know me as a person—I don’t have that much going for me, not really. Not all educated and smart or anything, and not gorgeous, not like some girls—but I like what I’ve got and I’m gonna protect that. I am. Yeah. (Beat.) I mean, wouldn’t you?
At the mall. GREG sitting at a table, waiting. Has a drink in front of him. Checks his watch. A bundle of flowers on the table.
After a moment, his cell phone rings. He scrambles to get the call before it’s gone.
GREG Hello, yes? Hello? Steph? Yeah, it’s me. I’m right here. No, down past the Panda Express. (Beat.) Hey, hi, I’m so glad that you … Hello? No, I’m already in the food court. You want me to meet you or … No, fine. I’ll just wait. Bye.
GREG turns off his cell and waits. Looking around while he does another quick check of his watch. Suddenly, she is there, right in front of him. STEPH.
GREG stands awkwardly. Tries to go for a kiss but ends up bumbling one on her cheek. They sit opposite each other.
GREG Hey. / (Gives her the bouquet.) Here …
STEPH Hey. / (Takes it.) Thanks.
GREG Sure. Thanks for coming.
STEPH ’S okay. I was gonna be in town shopping, anyway. The mall. (Beat.) I need scissors.
STEPH I also have to stop by the apartment and get a few things, too. Is that OK?
GREG ’Course. Time?
STEPH After this … Do you mind staying out for a while? / Won’t take me long.
GREG No, sure, that’s … / Fine.
GREG I need to sleep at some point, but it’s all right if you have to … Yeah. / Uh-huh.
STEPH Cool. / ’Preciate it.
GREG No prob. (Yawns.) That’s OK … I’ll just walk around for a bit. Hit the pet store.
They sit quietly for a moment, staring straight ahead. He steals
a glance at her, but looks away quickly.
STEPH Sooo …
GREG Yeah, so. So, so, so. (Beat.) How’d we get to this place, huh?
STEPH Yep. You said some stupid shit and this is what happens …
GREG Come on, Steph …
STEPH No, I’m not gonna “come on” today … Today is not a “come on” day. Nope. / It isn’t.
GREG I’m just saying … / OK, fine …
STEPH What’d you think, I was gonna forget or something?
GREG No, but … I mean …
STEPH Like there’d be some sort of miracle or conversion or what have you in a couple days of me being away? I’m not Jesus …
GREG I know. God …
STEPH Nope. Guess again …
GREG Really funny …
STEPH I don’t think so. I don’t think this is one bit funny, Greg, and I hope you can see that.
GREG I do, I get that …
STEPH Then good, that’s good … At least something of use’ll come out of this.
GREG Is that what you’re doing here—trying to make a point or something?
STEPH No. I don’t need to do that, make a point of any kind.
GREG Then why can’t we just … ?
STEPH Because we can’t go back. OK? / Cannot.
GREG Why, Steph? / I’m sorry, but I’m … I’m …
STEPH What? What’re you, confused?
GREG Yeah, I am. I am a lot.
STEPH Well, don’t be, OK, you shouldn’t be. It is not that confusing—you opened my eyes to a lot of shit, that’s all. My life.
GREG I’m … by what? By me saying that one … ?
STEPH Yes. That.
GREG But come on, I didn’t … Stephanie, let’s be serious here. All right? Let’s. (Beat.) I said one little thing. A stupid thing, I know, I agree with that, but … it’s …
STEPH Yeah. Sometimes that’s all it takes for a person to see how life really is, that they are, like, careening down the wrong highway—of life, I’m saying—that they managed to get off at the wrong exit or to miss a road sign or something … Fuck, that analogy sucks but you know what I’m saying here. (Beat.) What you said about me suddenly made total sense about where we’re at, Greg, you and me. As a couple. And as people. All that stuff …
GREG I really was trying to be nice.
STEPH Let’s not get into it again, OK, because I’m not gonna be able to …
GREG I was, though! That’s all I wanna say to you right now—I meant it a whole other way …
STEPH Whatever. / Fine.
GREG No, not whatever, Steph, it’s important. / It is to me, anyway.
She shakes her head, putting an end to that part of the chat.
He opens his mouth to say something else but stops himself—
what’s the use?
She glances at her watch and checks her phone. He watches
her, shaking his head but saying nothing.
GREG Wanna get a bite or something? / Salad?
STEPH No thanks. / No.
GREG Come on … it’s lunchtime, isn’t it? It’s time to eat and you’re, you know, racing around town or whatever, you’re not gonna stop and eat, plus the drive back—you’re staying with your folks, right?
STEPH Yes. I’m … yeah. Until I find a place.
GREG So, OK, then. Why don’t we just … ?
STEPH Don’t, all right? Don’t try to act like it didn’t happen and I’m just having a “girl thing” here because that’s not the story, bud. It is not. (Beat.) We can’t eat lunch and kiss each other and start blabbing on the phone next week … We’re done, Greg. I am finished with our relationship and I’m gonna need you to acknowledge that before I go … (pointing) Flowers don’t save the day.
GREG Steph …
STEPH Gregory. Stop it. (Beat.) I know now that I’m not supposed to be with you, in some bad situation with you that we could fuck up by having kids or getting married or I don’t know what. Sorry, but I’m not …
GREG Stephanie, this is crazy, all the stuff you’re saying, because I really care for you and you do, too, I know you do …
STEPH No! That’s not true. Don’t speak for me. (Beat.) You always wanna say shit for me, vouch for me or sign shit that we should both have our names on and I’m not gonna have it anymore … You are not me so you don’t know. (Sits forward.) Listen to me very carefully, OK, ’cause I’m only gonna say this the one time. Fuck off … that’s what I want you to do, Greg, get the fuck out of my life and leave me alone, let me start over in a serious fashion, maybe in a relationship or not, I dunno, but if it is in something like that may it please, please be with someone who can keep from being an asshole and all overbearing and thinking they know everything because you don’t. You do not know a goddamn thing to do with me is what I’ve discovered in my four years with you. Four years that are now gone … so totally lost and gone that it makes me cry when I see any little bit from our time together. A key ring or, or your name light up on my phone or … shit. (She starts crying.) Fuck, fuck, fuck.
GREG tries to scoot closer and comfort her but she pulls away like he’s holding a branding iron.
STEPH STOP. Why would you … ? God. Idiot.
GREG I’m trying to comfort you …
STEPH Yeah, well, don’t. (Beat.) I’m not some old person dying in a home somewhere … gimme a shoulder and I’ll smile at you all happy and forgiving. I’m not.
GREG I was just … / Jeez …
STEPH NO. / No more … (Beat.) I know you don’t get this, can’t fathom that this is the end of what we’ve had but you’re there. Seriously. At the very edge of, like, a cavern or the, you know, the Grand Canyon or whatever thing makes sense to you …
GREG This doesn’t make sense, not what you’re saying to me. It really doesn’t.
STEPH But you get the idea! Of what I’m saying. The metaphor or what have you.
GREG I get it.
GREG I do.
STEPH Then that’s all I came for. (Beat.) That, and I need your keys.
STEPH No, what? I left mine in my other purse.
STEPH OK then. Fuck. It’s a key, Greg, I didn’t ask for half your paycheck or something.
GREG (to himself) Yeah, well, you couldn’t …
STEPH What’s that?
GREG Forget it.
STEPH No, I wanna hear what you said.
GREG Nothing, Stephanie, all right? Leave me be. (Digs in pocket.) Here’s my key … I’ll get it off the … lemme … shit, I don’t have any nails, can you do it?
He hands over the keys and she proceeds to remove the key
from the rest of the set.
STEPH Thanks. I’ll leave it under the mat.
STEPH And your car, too. I’m gonna pick mine up while I’m there, so we don’t have to … / Sorry I took it but I was pissed. I mean, obviously.
GREG Cool. / Do what you gotta do.
STEPH Ohhh, you’re all Mr. Casual now, is that it?
STEPH You’re such a dick.
GREG How do you want me to act, Steph? Huh? I am trying to be nice here, to, to, to … make up with you or kiss your ass, which is what I figured you were after—getting on my knees practically to make it up to you but no—you’ve gotta keep pushing it, pushing me away by saying that we’re done and that we’re on, what? Different paths or some shit—what the hell was all that crap? You’re so angry you’re not making any sense!—and I just wanna go home. Ya know? Just go back to the house and climb into bed with you, say “I’m sorry” again if you want me to, but crawl in and have you up against me … your back against me and I can feel your heartbeat when we get all quiet like that … That’s what I want.
STEPH Oh. / I see.
GREG That’s what I’d like. / Yeah.
STEPH So, you wanna feel my back, be there up against me that way …
GREG Yes …
STEPH Why, so you don’t gotta look at my face?
GREG Oh, God! FUCK!
STEPH Hey, you said it …
GREG You’re crazy! You really are!
STEPH It’s you saying it, you’re the one!
GREG I’m trying to make up with you!
STEPH Then say something nice, try that!
GREG I am!
STEPH No, you’re not!
GREG Yes! / I am, too! / And roses …
STEPH No! / No, uh-uh, you’re not … / Ohhh, big fucking deal …
GREG I do not get you, I really don’t …
STEPH That’s because you don’t try!
She throws the keys back at him, hitting him hard. They bounce off and scatter on the floor.
GREG Oww, dammit! (Beat.) … fine.
GREG Do what you want.
STEPH I am. I’ve done it.
GREG Good, then get the hell outta here …
STEPH I will.
GREG … you and your, your … stupid face.
She turns on him, almost spitting out the next bit as she gets to her feet.
STEPH I knew it! / I KNEW YOU HATED ME! You fucking asshole!
GREG Joke! / I was joking!
STEPH Fuck jokes! That’s not a joke, what you said about me is no joke, asshole, and you know it … / You KNOW that!
GREG Take it easy … / I was kidding … Jesus, can’t even make a little …
STEPH I’m not gonna take it easy, who the fuck are these people, I couldn’t care less!
GREG Steph, stop it, now … / Stop …
STEPH Shut up! / Shut your big sideways-grinning mouth, that’s what I want you to do. OK?! (Beat.) Keep your damn mouth closed for a minute and listen to me …
She scrambles into her purse, looking for something. GREG
looks around, embarrassed by what’s happening.
GREG We should probably just … / Go. Now.
STEPH NO! / Sit.
She digs a bit more and comes up with a piece of paper.
STEPH Here. This. This is what I wanted. Here. (Opens it.) I’ve made this over the last however long … I dunno, since I left, and it covers all your shit. All the crap I’m feeling about you but have held my tongue on … I was gonna e-mail you, but this here is way better. (Looks around.) People! Hey you guys over there, check this out …
GREG Stephanie, don’t.
STEPH Sit down, Greg, and listen for once. / This might help you if you meet somebody else who’s dumb enough to date you …
GREG Why? / Seriously, Steph, why are you … ?
STEPH (reading) “Greg, your hair is thinning—I’m a hairdresser so I should know. You try and hide it pretty well but I can spot it, at the crown when you’re bending over or as you sit in the kitchen eating and you ask me to get up and fix you something, then I see it. Two years, that’s what I give it. And in front, too, but that may hold …”
GREG For fuck’s sake …
STEPH “I don’t like your eyes. I never have. I think they’re small and piggish and you make it worse by squinting a lot. If you ever wore the sunglasses I bought you at Christmas—they were fucking expensive—it would help but you don’t so your eyes look like shit and you’re starting to get wrinkles there, too. Your nose. Where do I begin with your nose? It’s your mom’s so I should be kind, but hey … fuck that. Your nostrils make me sick and I always have to look up into them because we have the most unimaginative sex that a person could ever come up with … I think you’re gay, maybe—seriously, you should check into that because you sure have trouble doing it with me and I’m fine. I know I like it, even with you, so I’m guessing it’s you. Your teeth are OK—just—but I don’t like your lips at all. Your mouth is wide and your lips are way too thin to be sexy and I hate kissing you. This is a shame but it’s true, I’ve hated kissing you from almost the first time we did it and that’s really depressing. Your tongue is like this little poker and you move it too fast and … well, you get the idea. It sucks.” (to him) Are you listening?
GREG Yep. I am. (Beat.) Yes.
STEPH Good. (reading) “I’ve never thought you had a great body, it’s OK, but nothing really special and I hate how you walk around—not just at home but outside during the summer or at the gym; a lot, anyway—like you are super cute or something, like you have all these muscles and a nice stomach or whatever, you don’t. You never have so stop doing that. It’s kind of pathetic; I am not the only person who thinks that … I’m not gonna be so crass as to say much about your dick because that would put me on your level—being hurtful—but I will say this: you’re way too hairy down there and most girls find that disgusting. Your balls, too, it kind of makes me gag when I go there. I guess there’s nothing you can really do about that—guys don’t wax or anything like we do—but you should be aware of it, anyway. It’s gross. Enough said. Your legs are fine, probably one of your best features … Your feet are the worst, though. They are. Your toes are, they’re like, almost like fingers and you bite your own toenails—I know you do, I’ve seen you—and that goes down as the most disgusting fact I know. The fact that you rip off your toenails with your teeth … and then eat them, or nibble at them, anyway, after you’ve done it. And sometimes you smell. A little … You do because you think that you don’t have to shower after work and you’ll get in bed and sleep and sweat some more and then use a little deodorant and off you go, like, to work or wherever. And so you stink, kind of, but I’ve stopped speaking about it to you because you don’t listen. You do not listen. Until now.”/ (waiting) I guess that would be it …
STEPH gathers up her things—grabs the key from the table as she gets ready to go.
GREG Wow. / You … you did that to hurt me.
STEPH No shit.
GREG You don’t really feel all that stuff.
GREG You couldn’t …
GREG No. I mean, I don’t think so. I don’t see how you could and, and still—I mean, it just isn’t possible to feel that kind of, like, hatred—I guess that’s what it is—and still want to be with a person.
STEPH Love is blind, shithead. It is.
GREG Yeah, but …
STEPH I could feel all that and still love you. It’s possible.
GREG Stephanie …
STEPH Until somebody had to go and open his big fucking mouth. (to the others) OK, show’s over now, go back to your chop suey shit that you’re eating and leave us be …
STEPH watches the crowd disperse; turns to GREG again.
GREG This shouldn’t be happening …
STEPH But it is.
GREG I care about you, Stephanie. / I honestly do.
STEPH Huh. / Yeah, but not all of me.
GREG That’s not true …
STEPH It is. And that’s what hurts the most …
STEPH You said stuff. Said it and meant it.
GREG As a comparison. / I mean a contrast! Like I said before … just as an example put up against this other person who’s probably an absolute moron but she’s got a pretty face. So what?! I don’t care—I couldn’t care less about her. I was saying that I want you … and your type face, even more.
STEPH What? / You don’t get it …
GREG No, I really don’t. No. (Beat.) It is the same thing you just said to me—I get why you did it like that so you could teach me a lesson, fine—but it’s the same thing.
STEPH It’s not.
GREG And how’s that? Huh? Please, just explain that one bit to me and then you can go. How’s it different, all that … nasty shit you just said about me, and yet you say I am still a person you could love. / So how come I can’t do the same with you even if I said what I said about how you look?
STEPH Yes. / Because, Greg …
GREG But why? (Smiles.) And I like your face, I do … I’ve always thought you were … gonna sound stupid now, but you know I have. It is a really, really … cute face. / You’re cute, Steph. You are. Adorable.
STEPH Yeah? / Thanks.
GREG Of course. (Beat.) So why’s it different? Seriously, I don’t get it.
STEPH I know you don’t.
GREG But how come? Why?
STEPH Because this stuff, all this stuff I said about you? (Holds up list.) Right here?
STEPH I made that up. (Beat.) To hurt you, I wrote it down and I read it out loud. But it’s not true. No. And what you said, all that you said about me—even though it’s just the one thing—it’s completely and for all-time’s sake true. You meant it.
GREG But I didn’t even … / … Stephanie …
STEPH And that is why. / (She crumples up the page and drops it.) I’m taking the bedroom TV. I bought it with my own money and so I’m taking it.
With that she turns and exits, disappearing down the hall.
Shoes clacking on the tile. Leaves the flowers.
GREG looks around, then reaches down and picks up his keys.
After a moment, he carefully opens the paper ball on the table.
Flattens it out. Begins reading.
At work. CARLY and KENT seated at a table, eating. CARLY watches as KENT keeps checking the time.
CARLY You’re not late.
CARLY I don’t know why you have to keep looking at the clock.
KENT Because … we’ve got a lot to do tonight.
KENT Putting in overtime, might as well do the thing right. Make a good job of it or at least give it my best. You know?
CARLY Wow. Listen to you …
KENT I’m just sayin’, baby. / We can’t all get to Barney Fife our way through life.
CARLY Fine. / Yeah, yeah …
KENT I don’t like doing a shoddy job, is all. If I do then somebody notices and I’m not the guy they call for the extra shifts or the holiday hours or that type of deal … and you know you like the money.
CARLY Everybody likes money.
KENT Uh-uh. / That’s not true.
CARLY Who? / Who that you know doesn’t like some money?
KENT I’m only making a point here …
CARLY Then make it.
KENT I am. You like shit, clothes and stuff so you can cook and like that, right? Oodles of items that we order with our paychecks off QVC so I don’t get why you’re busting my balls when I say that I’m trying to be a useful member of my team tonight which can only lead to more work which equals money and additional crap to purchase and wear and eat. / OK?
CARLY Fine. / God …
KENT That’s all I’m saying.
CARLY Great. Point, set, and … whatever.
KENT Match. If you’re meaning tennis.
CARLY Yes. “Match.” You win.
KENT Wasn’t trying to win anything. Just …
CARLY Can we drop it now?
KENT It’s dropped. (Mimes a drop.) Plop!
KENT makes the noise again and pokes her in the rib. She
jumps up and pushes him away.
CARLY Don’t! God, you’re so … ten. That’s what you are, you’re like ten years old. I’m living with some dude who’s a child and thinks that because he works this regular shift he can just be a … a … infant about the rest of his life.
KENT Mommy … gimme milk, Mommy …
He half rises, reaching out for her, pawing her breasts. She
recoils and then moves away. Angry now.
CARLY Stupid …
KENT I’m … I don’t have to go back yet. We can sit here for a while if you like. (Grins.) You can even cuff me if you wanna …
CARLY No, I’m tired of you now.
KENT That’s nice.
CARLY I am.
KENT Well, damn, baby, I don’t know what sort of remedy I’ve got for that …
CARLY I do. I’ve got a remedy, which is to take off and go back to my station. That way, I don’t even have to see you …
KENT Fuck! I’m sorry that I wanted to go early or whatever … Damn. (Beat.) Rich’s got his eye on me lately—finally took it off you for a second, don’t think I missed that—now he’s watching me, so I’m, you know …
CARLY Doesn’t matter.
KENT Yeah, it does. It totally matters. Let’s not pretend, OK, ’cause he’s being pretty obvious about it … (Beat.) Sorry that I’m looking at the clock, it’s got absolutely no bearing on whether I wanted to see you or not—because I do—but I’m also trying to be a useful employee which can only be of benefit to our lifestyle and that, I’m seeing now, places me in a bit of a bind. (Beat.) Puts a fucking crimp in my plans.
KENT Well, I’d never pick work over you so I’m sorry that you ever thought that was the case … I’m here to tell you that it’s not and I’m happy to hang out till Rich comes looking for me with your other pals from security …
CARLY Yeah? / Hmmm …
KENT Yes. / (Smiles.) Better?
CARLY A little.
She smiles and nudges him. He elbows her back and they go to
it—tickling each other and kissing and carrying on.
GREG wanders through the doors and they stop immediately.
CARLY looks at him, turns to KENT and kisses him. Almost
immediately gets up and crosses out—not a word to GREG.
GREG Well, hey, that’s good. Ever ything’s back to normal, I see.
KENT Gotta give ’er time, dude.
GREG Right. (Yawns.) Shit! Tired …
KENT Steph’s her best friend. / She’s basically holding you responsible for her closest pal moving away and all that, so give ’er a little space for the moment.
GREG Fine. / She can … God, I was coming to eat some food, you know? / Didn’t mean to create some international thing here.
KENT It’s cool. / Sit down.
GREG Thanks. (Takes out a book.) Anyway …
KENT She was mad at me before, so I’m sure it just carried over. / What’re you reading?
GREG Oh. / Hawthorne. / Great short stories … Early American stuff. Kinda like Gothic.
KENT Huh. / (Grabs it.) “The Birth Mark.” O-kay. Anyway … she’s just lashing out for no reason—well, not “no” reason but barely.
GREG Women, huh?
KENT Yep. (Hands back the book.) No shit.
GREG That pretty much says it all …
KENT Oh yeah.
GREG One day they’re gonna save a little time and just stick that word in the dictionary all by itself. Just the one word and no definition, and any guy who stumbles across it’ll just roll his eyes and know what the hell it means. (Beat.) “Women.”
GREG I’m so … you know. Over it.
GREG Them. Her. (Starts to eat.) Damn …
KENT Right. (Beat.) Get your car back yet?
GREG Uh-huh. / ’Bout, I dunno, two weeks ago …
KENT Nice. / She bang it up or anything? That’s a typical trick, after they get mad and all that—ding the paint or smack the fender into something.
GREG Shit … you know, I never even checked?
KENT You better.
KENT I could absolutely see her doing that … after what you said. (Beat.) No offense but she can be a real fuckhole sometimes, dude. Even back at school that was true …
GREG I didn’t even think to …
KENT I’m just saying. / After how she took it.
GREG Sure. / Right.
KENT rises and goes to the clock, checks his watch with it.
KENT (to himself) Come on, come on.
GREG What’s up?
KENT Huh? Oh, nothing …
GREG No, seriously. What?
KENT Nothing, man, don’t worry about it.
GREG Just asking.
KENT I’m hanging, that’s all.
GREG Cool. / No prob.
KENT Exactly. / Heard who we’re playing next—it’s that fucking bail bonds team! Pricks.
GREG Great … (Beat.) Dude, you seem anxious; I can get outta here if Carly’s coming back. You need some “alone time” or …
KENT No, no, she’s gone up front. Already back at it … (Beat.) You coming to practice?
GREG Uh-huh, three-thirty. Wanna get some time in the batting cage … / Sure you’re OK?
KENT Good. / Yeah, I’m just … yep, yep, yep.
KENT I dunno. Waiting.
GREG I see. (Smiles.) Very cryptic, my friend.
KENT That’s ’cause you’re … Don’t worry about it.
GREG What? Now what am I?
KENT You know what you are …
GREG No, I don’t, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about here—acting all goofy since I walked in tonight.
KENT Dude, you’ve got a big mouth, if you must know the fucking details so bad …
KENT Don’t feel like I can trust you … (Beat.) Maybe I’m paranoid, but I don’t think so.
GREG You’re smoking, man, because … if anybody has issues with privacy it’s your family, OK? / Let’s be honest here.
KENT Fine. / That’s true …
GREG And I don’t even get what you’re going on about … What’m I privy to about you? You have issues, that’s what’s going on here.
KENT Maybe. (Beat.) Mouth shut, OK?
KENT It’s Crystal.
GREG What is, your skull?
KENT Hohoho. (Smiles.) That new girl, up in the shipping department. (Digs out his cell phone to find a picture he took.) You know.
GREG Who? / (Glances at screen.) I can’t see …
KENT Her. / Look. The chick with the face.
GREG Oh yeah, right, right—I had no idea what her name was. So what about her?
KENT I’m, you know … (Waits.) Duh …
KENT I’ve been seeing her. Lately.
GREG What’re you … what’s that mean? You’re, you are?
KENT Month or so. / Little over.
GREG Yeah? / You’re kidding me.
KENT No. Why would I?
GREG Ahhh, to sound cool, maybe. Or to yank my chain, like usual …
KENT Yeah, well, not this time. (Beat.) ’S been a ball, lemme tell you. I mean, you think she looks good in those dress clothes you should see her in a pair a shorts. Fuck.
KENT Hey, don’t judge. It’s just a thing, it happened, I can’t help it.
GREG No, I’m sure … you probably didn’t have much to do with it, really. Right?
KENT Actually, no. Few smiles, “How’s tricks?” and that was about it. / Came to one of our games and asked me out for a drink. I said OK and there you go …
GREG God … / And she knows about Carly?
KENT Fuck yeah. Whole deal is square with her, why I don’t know. Some girls like that … the whole competition thing. (Beat.) Maybe she looks at her and thinks, “This dude must be worth it, a woman like that on his arm.” I dunno, I’m not Nostradamus.
GREG Yeah, good, thanks for clearing that up, ’cause I was pretty confused …
KENT I’m just saying—she gets it, she’s aware and there’s no problem. (Beat.) And she is fine, man, lemme tell you. Twenty-three, so, you know, only starting to fade a bit.
GREG You’re disgusting …
KENT What?! She’s amazing, she is, it’s just not, like a, you know … some teenager or whatever. Their skin is—I’m not being a perv or anything—but …
GREG Thank God for that …
KENT … it’s just a fact! Amazing to the touch is all, some, you know … a gymnast or one of those cheerleaders, that age. Tight.
GREG All right, that’s it … (Stands.) I’m gonna head back now. Look, if you like her so much then, you know, so be it. Go for it.
KENT Thanks. / And dude …
GREG Sure. / What?
KENT I’m serious here. Not a word, OK?
GREG I won’t. / Promise.
KENT To anybody. / Not Stephanie, no one.
GREG Really funny.
KENT I’m just saying—if you make up or, or, you know … whatever. Can’t mention it.
KENT Or to the guys down at your end there … I don’t need Rich or those assholes hearing about it. / Want it on the down low.
GREG Kent, take it easy, all right? / ’S none of my business, do what you need to do …
KENT I will.
GREG That’s your stuff. I’ve got my own shit to deal with …
KENT No kidding.
GREG What’s that mean?
KENT Means your back axle could be all knocked out’ve alignment and you don’t even know it yet … (Smiles.) Chicks, right?
GREG Yeah. Pretty damn lethal. (Beat.) And so you and Carly, you guys are, like … what?
KENT No problems. / We’re perfect.
GREG Right. / Uh-huh.
KENT Seriously! This new thing just, you know, makes it more than perfect … (Beat.) She is a knockout, she really is. Crystal. / Her face is, like … ummmmmmgh! Fuck.
GREG Uh-huh. / I don’t doubt it.
KENT Don’t need to, I’m telling you she is and she is. (Smiles.) And she’s got roommates.
GREG Great. (Beat.) I’m gonna get back.
KENT What … you don’t have time to hear this now? / How I’m feeling about her?
GREG No, what? / No, go ahead, I’m just—go on. Say what you’re gonna say.
KENT I’m telling you … when you get up close to her—Crystal, I’m saying—she’s got the most awesome features. I’m serious. These teeth that’re … and her lips. Find myself just staring at ’em sometimes, and her eyes are a color, I don’t even think it’s one you’d find in a box of crayons—maybe one of those bigger cartons, like, sixty-four colors, with the sharpener in it—but even then I’m not sure. They’re kinda green, but sorta blue, too. Almost hypnotic. (Smiles.) Listen to me! Like a fucking kid. / That’s what she does to me.
GREG ’S great. / No, that’s great, Kent.
KENT It’s whatever, man, but it’s smacked me for a loop, tell you that much. Anyway, I’ll see you later. (Finger to his lips.) And remember …
GREG Got it.
KENT … keep this shit to yourself. / You know I’d do the same for you … totally would, and us guys gotta stick together, right? We’re like fucking buffaloes out here.
KENT slips out, a punch to GREG’s arm as he goes off.
GREG Yeah. / Terrific …
GREG tries to read but it’s no use. He sees that KENT has left his garbage—he scoops all of it up and carries it over to the bin. Drops it in. A loud buzzer sounds.
A moment with KENT.
KENT It’s interesting, having a wife who looks the way mine does. Attractive, I’m saying. It really is. It’s probably not what you’d think it’d be, all great and wonderful at every turn of the road; it has its disadvantages, believe you me. Seriously. (Beat.) I mean, it’s nice as well, I don’t mean to imply it’s not … but there’s various drawbacks—and not just, like, that joke that people tell—the one about how “behind every pretty woman you’ll find a guy who’s tired of fucking her,” not even that … although that’s mostly accurate and you hear it because it’s become a cliché, which just means “true.” Right? Yeah. It does. And, see, the thing of it is, you enjoy her, you’re knocked out by her as this lady that you feel the … need to possess or have as your own, but in the end, I mean, from that day on—once you do get her—you start to worry about keeping her because of all these other guys who’re having the same damn fantasy about ’er that you did! So you got that, there’s that fear to contend with, and then her own feelings about her looks—which are usually plenty, trust me on that one—and the whole thing is enough to drive you crazy, it totally is! I mean, I’m constantly on the alert, either seeing how some dude is eyeing her at a diner or who she seems to be looking at—I’m not saying she cheats on me, I’m not—but with a face like that it’s hard to believe it’s not always up in her head, the idea of being sexy, or at least how she makes other guys feel. I always try to appear real casual about it but, hey, it makes me sick inside, thinking about her with another person, it does. (Beat.) It’s hard when it happens on the job, so I try to keep that down to a minimum—my thoughts about the matter—plus I gotta deal with all the crap I get from people about her being a detective or whatever, wearing a uniform and all that shit—it’s humiliating, really, even having her at my place of work, but we’re stuck needing two incomes. That’s a fact. She was gonna just be on the line at one point, that’s what she first came in and applied for, but then they had an opening in security and one of these big cheeses out front—this dumbshit over in human resources—says he’d like to help her out and suggests an easier job, up near him where she can sit and watch all the video cameras, sign vendors in and out at the door—plus he says, “You make a really great first impression for our company.” How fucking lame’s that, how bad he wants to take a shot at her? The prick. Carly laughed it off—she makes fun of him all the time—but still, that’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about. She took the job anyway and now she goes around every hour or so, puts this little key in the timer box at various stations, plus the duties I already mentioned—gets full benefits for that! Jesus. And you think she could really do anything, I mean, if some guy snapped and went after people with a machete or … hell, I dunno, terrorists came rolling through there on a mission—because they needed crates of Kleenex as part of their master plan to take over the United States—you think Carly’s actually gonna be any use in that situation? She carries a set of keys and her flashlight, for Chrissakes! What’s she supposed to do, smile ’em to death?! (Grins.) Sometimes I’ll go after her, follow along, and try to spook her or whatnot, just for kicks. Jump up from behind a stack of pallets or out of some big freezer—you should see her face! And I mean every time, so … she’s not fooling anybody. (Beat.) I don’t mind it so much, I guess, but she’s always in the halls or down on the floor, strutting around, and I hate having to watch myself so much, who I’m talking to or whatever … pain in the ass. Can’t believe sometimes that this is the life that God’s staked out for me in his infinite plan—then I think, who’m I kidding?! He hasn’t got any “plan”! I’ve got a job in some warehouse and a limited number of skills and a Chevrolet that I’d like to take a blowtorch to … that’s my life in the foreseeable future. (Smiles.) Look, don’t listen to me, I’m doing OK, I’m just being silly. In fact, I’ve got a little something interesting that has flared up here as of late and I’m gonna just … see where the day takes me—which is what most guys do, right? We ride that wave. Yep. Ride it to shore and see what comes of it. Hey, that’s how it’s done—’s the way we get by. It pretty much is.