Written by Joe Janes
105 of 365
(Lights up in the house of a theater in Philadelphia, 1933. Ernst gets up from his aisle seat and puts on his long coat. His wife, Thelma, remains seated. Seated off and behind them in the house is T. She sits looking at her program.)
ERNSTThere you are. I have now gone to the theater… We should be going.
THELMAI know. I know.
ERNSTTo facilitate the going part, Thelma, you should consider standing and putting on your coat.
THELMAJust another minute. Please, Ernst. I haven’t seen him in ten years.
ERNSTHe doesn’t even know you are here.
THELMAHe knows I’m here. He saw me. I know he saw me.
ERNSTHe would have come out by now.
THELMAIn the drawing room scene, when he poured himself a brandy… Just before he called that tarty girl a “swine"... He looked right at me. He might even have winked at me.
ERNSTIt’s bad enough I allowed you to drag me here on a Thursday night, we left junior alone with your mother. We need to go home before she loads him up on cookies and coffee so he’ll stay up and keep her company.
THELMAShe said she wouldn’t do that, again.
ERNSTThe woman is capable of anything but raising a child properly. She fed you lasagna as baby food.
THELMAIt was pureed.
ERNSTIt was lasagna.
THELMAAll right. Let’s go. (She gets up. He helps her with her coat. They head toward the exit. E enters through the curtain from the stage.)
EThelma? Is that you?
THELMAYou did see me! I knew you saw me! (She runs up to E and gives him a big hug.) He saw me! You were so good up there. You looked so good in your tuxedo. Where’s your tuxedo?
EIt’s in my dressing room… Can’t wear it all the time.
THELMAOh. Of course. I knew you saw me. When you called that woman a swine. Boy, did you get that right! She really was a swine.
EThe cast is heading to the bar across the street. Would you like to join us? Give us a chance to catch up.
THELMAOh, Ernst. This is my husband…Ernst.
ERNSTWell, it’s a common name.
EHow do you do?
ECare to join us?
ERNSTUnfortunately, we need to get back home to care for our son, Ernst, Jr.
EYou’re married and have a child?
EI didn’t know.
ERNSTThat’s all right. I never knew you existed until yesterday afternoon when we saw the advert for your play “The Gay Scoundrel.”
THELMAYou made a beautiful scoundrel, Ernst.
EYou think so? I felt off tonight.
THELMAHow long are you in town? Ernst works during the day and Ernst, Jr has school. Maybe we could get together.
ERNSTPerhaps on Saturday, you could come over to the house and meet the whole family.
EOh, Saturday’s a bear. We do three shows that day.
THELMA (hugs E)You saw me. The last time I saw you was when we watched the sun go down at the lake. And then watched it come back up again. (E shrugs towards Ernst)
ERNSTWe need to go, Thelma.
E (peeling himself away)It was nice seeing you, Thelma. I’m glad you are doing well.
EAnd it was nice meeting you, Ernst.
ERNSTYes. It was.
EGood luck with that boy of yours… I’ll see you, again.
THELMAI hope it’s not another ten years.
EI hope not, too.
(Thelma and Ernst leave. E watches them leave and then notices T. Thelma runs back in and plants a kiss on him.)
THELMAErnst is getting a taxi. I knew you saw me. I just knew it.
EI look for you every night, wherever I am.
E (peeling Thelma off him)Ah. Thelma. Let me introduce you to someone. This is my wife…Thelma.
THELMAOh. I didn’t know.
TNow you do. Good-bye.
(Thelma leaves. E walks to T.)