written by Joe Janes
Lunch Lady Doreena – late 30’s
Principal Tate – late 30’s
Nick – 18
(Lights up on Doreena. She wears a cafeteria worker outfit with a pink sweater. She stands in the center of the stage under a spotlight. She is in her late 30’s and has a lady beard. It’s light in color and a little wispy. She is holding a blue ribbon. She looks as though she is looking at her own reflection in a mirror. She takes the ribbon and ties a bow in her beard. She approves. The lights come up to reveal a cafeteria kitchen. There is a large soup pot on a stove and a nearby shelf with an old small boom box. She takes something wrapped in a handkerchief from her sweater pocket. She slowly and carefully unwraps it. It is a cassette in a red, white and blue case. She puts it into the boom box and presses play. Upstage behind her appears Nick wearing a red, white and blue tuxedo jacket. She does not see him or acknowledge him.)
NICKDoreena. My sweetheart. It’s me, Nick. I made you this mixed tape with all your favorite songs on it so we’d have something to make out to after the Winter Formal this weekend. Maybe it will drown out the slurping sounds you said I made last time. Sorry about that. I think of you and it’s like turning on a faucet in my mouth.
(Nick wipes off his chin with his sleeve and disappears. “Alone” by Heart, begins to play. She slowly and sadly stirs whatever’s in the soup pot. Principal Tate enters.)
(She quickly turns off the tape and wipes her eyes.)
DOREENAPrincipal Tate. You startled me.
TATEI was just walking down the hall when I smelled this wonderful aroma. (He moves towards the pot and she counters away from him. He notices, but continues. He takes a sip of the broth with the ladle she left in it.) Lovely broth. Piquant. What is it?
DOREENAJock straps. And bleach. I’m boiling jock straps. With bleach. And a little lemon. The washing machine in the locker room broke down so I told the varsity coach I’d help out.
TATEI see. Needs basil.
(He steps away from the pot and Doreena returns to it. She turns down the heat and stirs.)
TATE (continuing)Doreena. As you know, the winter formal is tomorrow night.
DOREENAOh, is it?
TATEYes. And we need chaperones. I was wondering if you would like to chaperone.
TATEI’ll be there. We could chaperone together. (He walks up behind her and smells her hair.)
DOREENAI think I have something Saturday-
TATEOh - don’t answer yet. I brought you some candy. I know how much you love chocolate. So, I brought you some cough drops. I didn’t have any chocolate. They’re cherry. Very candy-like. Here. (He hands her a small box of cough drops, but she doesn’t take them. He sets them down near the boom box.)
DOREENAThat’s thoughtful, but you shouldn’t have-
TATE (Embraces her from behind)Oh, Doreena. Don’t make me grovel. I ask you every year and every year you say “no.”
DOREENA (pushing him away)Then maybe you should stop asking, Principal Tate.
TATECall me Lawrence. Like you did when we were in high school.
DOREENAI didn’t love you then, Lawrence, and I don’t love you, now.
TATEI know. You never loved me. You love Nick. Just give me a chance. Nick’s not coming back, Doreena.
DOREENAI know that.
TATEI don’t think you do know that. It’s been twenty years since Nick went riding off on his motorcycle leaving you behind at the Winter Formal. They found him and his bike crumpled to bits at the bottom of Cheddar Moon Quarry (he stifles a small laugh)
DOREENAMy brain knows that. My heart, Lawrence. It’s my heart that refuses to believe it. It still belongs to Nick.
TATEWell, after twenty years, I can take a hint. You come with me to the winter formal, or you are fired.
DOREENAFired? You can’t fire me.
TATEYes. I can. This time, I most certainly can.
DOREENAThis place is the only thing I have left of Nick. I started working here right after graduation. I kept my summer job at the roller rink deodorizing the skates. Nick used to hang out there all the time. Spraying gravel in the parking lot with his motorcycle.
TATEI know. I’m the one who always called the police.
DOREENAThey tore it down this year and put up a Chuck E. Cheese. He was, and is, my one and only true love. Nick. Not Chuck E. Cheese.
TATEYou think about what I said, Doreena. Just think about what I said.
(He exits. She turns the music back on and resumes stirring the jock straps. Nick returns where he was previously onstage, but slowly walks into the kitchen area. He watches Doreena.)
NICKThat’s a mighty pretty blue ribbon in your beard. (Doreena turns to see him.) It really brings out the brown in your eyes.
DOREENANick! (She runs into his arms.) Oh, Nick. Is it you? Is it really you?
NICKIt’s really me, Doreena. (They kiss. He wipes his mouth off with his sleeve.) I knew I’d find you here.
DOREENAI waited for you, Nick. I knew you’d come back for me. I stood in the middle of the dance floor and waited. I cried and I waited until I stood alone. The high school cafeteria was transformed into a winter wonderland that night with giant paper snowflakes hanging from the ceiling tiles and tiny marshmallow snowmen with jujube eyes on the table-tops.
NICKYou made those snowmen, Doreena. I ate one.
DOREENAI should have told you about the toothpicks.
NICK (he steps away from her)You made my gums bleed like my heart. I saw you with Lawrence. It made me crazy.
DOREENAIt’s not what you think, Nick. He made me kiss him. He said he’d fire me from my job at the roller rink.
NICKHe couldn’t have done that. He worked the concession stand. (He moves towards the door)
DOREENAI didn’t know. He had seniority. He made it sound convincing. You know how he is. He uses words like “piquant.” You left before I could explain… Oh, Nick. Please.
(The song on the boom box changes to “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House.)
NICKWe never did finish our dance that night.
DOREENANo. I guess we never did.
(They approach each other as if they are going to go into a soulful, graceful, romantic dance number, but then quickly slump into each other the way most high schoolers dance to slow songs. Doreena’s hands firmly planted on Nick’s buttocks.)
DOREENAYou look exactly the same, Nick. You haven’t changed a bit. How can that be?
NICKThere’s actually a perfectly logical explanation –
TATEI know how much you love flowers, so I brought you these festive pencils I confiscated- Nick!
(Doreena turns off the tape player.)
TATEIt’s Principal Tate, now, and you’re trespassing on school property.
NICKGuess you’ll have to call the cops, A-L-L.
TATEYou’re supposed to be dead.
NICKNo thanks to you.
TATENo thanks to me, what?
TATE (slowly working his way to the soup pot)I said “You’re supposed to be dead.” And you said “No thanks to you.” What exactly are you not thanking me for?
NICKMy motorbike was sabotaged. The break line was cut, Lawrence. Know anything about that? (Tate shrugs) I think you do. So, I am not thanking you for me being alive. Sort of.
TATEAre you alive? You could be a ghost. You haven’t aged at all. How do you explain that?
NICKIt’s really quite simple, at the bottom of the quarry-
(Tate flings a hot, wet jock strap at Nick’s face. It temporarily blinds him. He stumbles towards the pot.)
TATELet’s get out of here, Doreena. (He grabs her to go, she fights back.)
DOREENAWhat the hell are you doing, Lawrence?
TATESaving you from a ghost.
DOREENAI don’t think so, murderer!
NICKMan, I thought cafeteria food sucked in my day! What the hell are you feeding these kids!
DOREENAIt’s a long story. (She rushes over to Nick.)
NICKYou killed me, Lawrence. I knocked on death’s door. He answered and he liked what he saw. He struck me a deal. I said I’d go with him, and let him wear my jacket whenever he wanted. Someday he’d have to let me come back and kiss my girl one more time and kick your ass!
(He grabs the soup ladle from the pot and hits the tape player which starts playing “Bad” by Michael Jackson. Nick goes after Tate who fends him off with the bouquet of pencils. They duel and bludgeon, etc. It goes back and forth until Nick and Tate struggle and Tate is stabbed with the pencils.)
NICKOh, crap. Sorry about that, Lawrence. I hate your guts, but I didn’t want to poke a hole in them.
TATEIt’s only a flesh wound. I’m not done, yet. (He takes a swing at Nick.)
NICKWell, in that case…
(Tate still has some fight in him and they struggle. Nick pins Tate down and straddles him. He makes Tate hit himself in the face. Doreena turns off the tape player.)
NICKWhy are you hitting yourself? Why are you hitting yourself?
TATEI am not hitting myself. You are hitting myself.
DOREENALooks like he’s hitting himself to me.
TATEFine. I’m hitting myself. You stabbed me, I’m bleeding and this couldn’t possibly be any more humiliating for me. What do you want?
NICKWhat do I want? I’ll tell you what I want. I want to hear the birds sing, again. I want to feel the roar of my motorbike between my legs. I want to feel Doreena’s beard brush up against the back of my neck as she holds me tight as we storm on down the highway. Most of all, I want you to leave her alone.
NICKAnd Doreena, I want you to forget about me. Thank you for waiting for me. But you’re done now. I have to go back.
DOREENAI’ll go with you.
NICKYou can’t. You need to stay here. Go get gussied up on Saturday night and go find yourself a fella that will treat you proper. You’re not going to find him staring into that pot full of athletic supporters and listening to twenty-year-old mixed tapes. I love you. But it’s time to heal your heart and move on.
(He tenderly strokes her beard and kisses her. He wipes off his mouth with his sleeve and vanishes the way he came in.)
DOREENAGuess I won’t be coming in on Monday.
(Tate gets up. He checks his wound.)
DOREENA (continuing)The jock straps need to be stirred every ten minutes. In an hour, take them out, wring them out, by hand, and then pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes. They need them for the football game tonight. Don’t mess it up or you’ll be fired.
(She is about to leave. She turns and heads back to the tape player and takes the tape out. She thinks better of it and puts it back in and turns it on.)
DOREENA (continuing)You keep it, Lawrence. It’s time for me to move on.
(Tate stirs the jock straps as “Alone” by Heart plays, again. Death –in a hooded black robe, carrying a scythe, and wearing Nick’s red, white and blue jacket - enters. He taps Tate on the shoulder with his scythe.)
THE BS NEWS QUIZ OF THE DAY
Friday, I asked...
"Yanadi Kondaiah of India claimed anyone touching his leg would be cured of illnesses or have wishes granted. Two men this week thanked him by giving him a drink and doing what?"
50% said "Buying him 12 prostitutes"
- All at the same time, or did they give him one of those gift cards they punch a hole in after each use?
13% said "Dipping him up to his neck in oil"
- Sounds like fun. Unless it was used oil from a Chinese restaurant. Lucky Man Tempura, anyone?
No one bought "Stealing his pot of gold"
37% got the right answer, "Chopping off the leg"
According to the Associated Press, two men attacked 80-year-old Yanadi Kondaiah, self-proclaimed holy man in southern India and chopped off his right leg, apparently believing it had magical powers, police said Thursday. They should be easy to find. Look for the guys carrying a really large key chain with the lucky holy man foot on it.