Friday, February 27, 2009

Week Six, Day Forty - "The Wretched Refuse"

“The Wretched Refuse ”
Written by Joe Janes
2/27/09
40 out of 365

Cast:
Cheryl, mid-20s
Gabe, mid-20s
Phil the Friendly Tour Guide, 20s
Souvenir Lady, 70s
A small gaggle of tourists

(Cheryl is standing next to Gabe downstage of a small group of tourists at the base of the Statue of Liberty.)

PHIL
The Statue of Liberty, or, as the French say, Statue de la Libert√©, was presented to the United States by the people of France in 1886. It commemorates the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and was given to the United States to represent the friendship established during the American Revolution…

GABE
This is pretty cool. I’m usually not into touristy things.

CHERYL
What would you be doing if I weren’t here?

GABE
Hell, I probably wouldn’t even be here. I’d spend my vacation in Ohio just getting stuff done around the apartment, you know. Last time I went on a vacation vacation was in high school with my family. This is my first grown-up vacation.

CHERYL
Pretty exciting.

GABE
And I get to go to New York City, of all places, with my gal. This was a great idea, Cheryl.

CHERYL
Yep. Pretty great. Look, Gabe, I think we should break up.

GABE
What? This is – what? Are you serious?

PHIL
…Her raised right foot is on the move. This symbol of Liberty and Freedom is not standing still or at attention in the harbor, it is moving forward, as her left foot tramples broken shackles at her feet, in symbolism of the United States' wish to be free from oppression and tyranny…

CHERYL
Yeah. I don’t think this is working out. I’m feeling too tied down. I was going to tell you before we left, and then on the plane, and then this morning at Starbucks, I just can’t wait any longer.

GABE
This is really out of the blue.

CHERYL
Really? Really, Gabe? You should have seen this coming. We barely have anything in common. You like to get up early and I like to sleep in. I hate cats.

GABE
I don’t have a cat.

CHERYL
But you like them.

GABE
It’s more like I don’t dislike them.

CHERYL
And you’re just way too sensitive. It’s hard to talk to you. I had to find the right time to tell you.

GABE
This is the right time to tell me? In another state? At the base of a national landmark? In front of a group of strangers?

CHERYL
I didn’t think you’d make a scene this way.

GABE
But – we still have another week here. Our plane doesn’t leave for seven more days.

PHIL
…The seven spikes on the crown epitomize the Seven Seas and seven continents. Her torch signifies enlightenment. The tablet in her hand represents knowledge and shows the date of the United States Declaration of Independence, in roman numerals, July IV, MDCCLXXVI…

CHERYL
Yeah. I figure you’d just go do your thing and I’d go do mine.

GABE
For the whole week?

CHERYL
Kind of awkward hanging out after we just broke up.

GABE
It’s done already? You just mentioned it and now it’s a done deal?

PHIL (from where he’s standing)
Well, yeah. Whenever someone says, “we should break up” it means, “I already broke up with you and this is me telling you. I actually broke up with you weeks ago.” Am I right? (Various nods and verbal agreements from group)

GABE
Oh, my God!

(Phil comes over)

PHIL
Is there a problem over here?

GABE
Yes, there is, officer. Arrest this woman.

PHIL
I’m just a tour guide.

GABE
She just broke up with me.

PHIL
Can’t really do anything about that, Big Fella. You’re disturbing the flow of my tour. Maybe you can settle your dispute off the island.

CHERYL
I’m sorry –

GABE
She just broke up with me.

PHIL
You’ve made that painfully clear. Maybe you can just be friends, like France and America.

GABE
What do we do about the hotel room? I can’t afford to get another room.

CHERYL
Me, neither. It’s okay with me if we sleep in the same bed. Just don’t touch me.

GABE
I was going to say the same thing to you.

CHERYL
You didn’t have to.

PHIL (to Cheryl)
You can stay with me.

CHERYL
I can?

PHIL
Sure. It’s a tiny studio, but I have a futon that folds down.

CHERYL
Okay.

GABE
You can’t do that, Cheryl. You don’t know this guy.

CHERYL
I know how to take care of myself, Gabe.

GABE
He’s a stranger (whispers)…in New York.

PHIL
I’m Phil, the tour guide.

CHERYL
He’s Phil the tour guide. (To Gabe) Where have you been?

GABE
This is crazy. My first vacation vacation and my girlfriend breaks up with me on the first day and spends the rest of the week with a stranger.

CHERYL
This is why we broke up, Gabe. You make too big a deal out of everything I do. It’s oppressive. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to finish the tour. You can go do whatever you want. You’re free.

PHIL (taking her arm)
Right this way. …It was agreed that in a joint effort, the American people were to build the base, and the French people were responsible for the Statue and its assembly in the United States. Benefit theatrical events, art exhibitions, auctions and prizefights assisted in providing needed funds…

(Phil leads the group off. Gabe is left alone. Souvenir Lady walks up selling trinkets.)

SOUVENIR LADY (she has old lady smoker’s voice)
Miniature Statue of Liberty? Ten bucks.

GABE
Will you sleep with me?

SOUVENIR LADY
Will you buy a souvenir?

GABE
Sure.

SOUVENIR LADY
Okay, then.

GABE
Take that, Cheryl.

(Souvenir Lady holds out hand for the money. Gabe reaches into his wallet. Lights fade.)