Written by Joe Janes
112 of 365
MARY – upper 40’s
STANLEY – upper 40’s
(Lights up on a middle-aged couple sitting on a bench outside a small white cabin on the beach. Everything is very plain. Their deck is unadorned except for the simple bench to the right of the door and nearly to the right edge of the deck. We can hear the ocean and the wind. It is a sunny day. Mary is in a simple black two-piece swimsuit and wears a white rubber swim cap with a chinstrap. Stanley is in a simple pair of black swimming trunks. They are barefoot. He is leaning forward. She is sitting back with her legs crossed. Their expressions are very blank. For a very long time, they both stare out at the water. He looks at her and then back out at the water. She looks at him and then back out at the water. A seagull is heard flying over and they watch it. They look back out at the water after it passes. Stanley stands and slowly walks towards the edge of the deck. This has caught Mary’s attention. He stands for a moment looking out at the ocean. He looks both ways down the vacant beach. He looks back out at the water. He quickly walks back into the cabin. Mary sits stunned. A moment later, Stanley emerges from the cabin with a stack of white, folded towels. He places them on the bench where he sat. Satisfied with himself, he then walks back to where he was at the edge of the deck and again looks out. Overcome with emotion, he sits down on the edge and looks as though he is about to cry. Mary slowly walks over and sits next to him.)
MARYThey were only trying to be nice.
(Stanley shakes his head as he fights off tears.)
MARYThey thought we would like it. That it would help us…relax. It was a thoughtful gift. Really.
(Stanley has successfully swallowed his tears and turned them to anger.)
STANLEYYou don’t give a vacation as a present. That’s not a present. A hat is a present. A tie is a present. “Here, let me buy you dinner, ya’ big lug” – that’s a present. This. This is a two-week prison sentence. Our children have thrown us in a jail cell with sand walls and a seagull for a warden.
MARYWe don’t have to stay, Stanley. I can tell them I got sick. I ate a bad clam.
STANLEYWhy would they do this to us? What have we done?
MARYThey like this sort of thing.
STANLEYI want my basement, Mary. I miss my basement. I was going to fix the sump pump this week.
MARYI know. I know. I was going to read my books.
STANLEYAt least you can do that here.
No. No, I can’t.
(They sit in silence for a moment. She puts her chin on his shoulder.)
MARYIt has only been one day.
STANLEYI don’t need to be repeatedly struck in the testicles with a ball peen hammer, Mary, to know that I don’t like it. Once is plenty.
(Mary gets up and heads towards the cabin door.)
MARYI’ll go pack our things. They’ll buy the clam story. They’re always nice when I’m sick.
STANLEYNo, Mary. No. We tell them the truth. The absolute truth. (He stands) Otherwise, they’ll try this shenanigan, again. We sit them down and we say, “Chuck. Violet. We know you mean well, but if you really want to give your old man and mother a vacation, leave us be at home. Don’t call on us for a week. We’ll be more relaxed and you’ll save your money.” By, golly, that’s what we should do. (He sits on the bench.)
(Mary moves the towels and sits down next to him on the now crowded bench.)
MARYYou’re right, Stanley. They need to stop trying to make our lives better. We should be honest.
MARYHonest and direct. They’re adults, now.
STANLEYYes, they are.
(They continue sitting. Looking out towards the water. Drifting into their own worlds. A seagull flies overhead and they watch it fly by. They look at each other and then back out at the water. Lights fade as the sound of the surf and the seagulls gets louder.)