Sunday, May 10, 2009

Week 16, Day 112 - “Sea Watchers"

“Sea Watchers”
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.)

They were only trying to be nice.

(Stanley shakes his head as he fights off tears.)

They 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.)

You 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.

We don’t have to stay, Stanley. I can tell them I got sick. I ate a bad clam.

Why would they do this to us? What have we done?

They like this sort of thing.

I want my basement, Mary. I miss my basement. I was going to fix the sump pump this week.

I know. I know. I was going to read my books.

At least you can do that here.

MARY(looking around)
No. No, I can’t.

(They sit in silence for a moment. She puts her chin on his shoulder.)

It has only been one day.

I 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.)

I’ll go pack our things. They’ll buy the clam story. They’re always nice when I’m sick.

No, 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.)

You’re right, Stanley. They need to stop trying to make our lives better. We should be honest.

And direct.

Honest and direct. They’re adults, now.

Yes, 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.)


idjar said...

Tough to buy into the upper 40's. That gives them very young adult children, who are unlikely to afford sending their parents on vacation, and the mindset of the couple you present feels older.

Joe Janes said...

You might be right. My thinking is that this takes place in the late 40s, early 50s and that they were married shortly after high school putting their kids in their late 20s. Of course, I probably should have mentioned that in the script.

Chris Othic said...

This scene doesn't feel complete to me. It's very "slice-of-life" but feels like only a small part of a bigger piece. As a stand alone sketch, I'm not buying it. Mary and Stanley don't really have a conflict with each other. The conflict is outside the scene. We don't really learn much about Mary and Stanley either, other than they have kids and they like to stay at home.

What was your intention with this one? Just wondering. Is it that Mary and Stanley aren't being honest and direct with each other? Is that the real issue?

Joe Janes said...

The issue is definitely not between the two characters. I believe this would fall in the "man vs nature" category.

mark krause said...

seems like i've read this one before? is this an updated version of an older skit?

Joe Janes said...

It's possible you have read this before. I wrote it last year. It is posted on a WNEP blog featuring material written for a project of scenes based on Edward Hopper paintings. It has never been produced, though.

TanmoySarkar said...
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