written by Joe Janes
119 of 365
Carl, early 20’s
Mother, 50’s (voice only)
Mr. Drum, 40’s (voice only)
Mrs. Drum, 40’s (voice only)
Peggy, late teens
Brad late teens
(Circa 1948. Lights up on Carl. A thin, ratty looking man with soulful eyes. He sits in a dark red, heavy cloth, overstuffed chair with a doily on the back. It is slightly worn. Next to him is a lamp on a side table. The lamp is antique looking and has a pull string for switching it on and off. On the table is a pair of binoculars, a telephone and an ash tray. Carl is smoking a cigarette and staring intently out the downstage window. He closes his eyes for a moment, gets up and begins pacing behind the chair. He looks again out the window from behind the chair. He accidentally drops an ash on the floor. He backs his way to an upstage door, continuing to glance out the window, and quickly exits. Off stage, we hear him fumble through a closet. He returns with a broom and dustpan and sweeps up the mess, continuing to check out the window.)
MOTHER (off)Carl…Carl…Carl! It’s Thursday night. Shouldn’t you be in bed? You have to work at the army base in the morning.
CARLIt’s Friday, Ma.
CARLIt’s Friday. It’s not Thursday. It’s Friday.
MOTHER (off)……………………………………………Oh. How was your date?
CARLI didn’t have a date.
MOTHER (off)You had a date.
CARLI didn’t have a date.
MOTHER (off)I thought you had a date.
CARLI had a date last Friday.
(Carl sees something out the window.)
CARLGo to sleep, Ma.
MOTHER (off)Goodnight, Dear.
(Carl looks agitated. He grabs the binoculars. He flips the emotional dial from anxious to angry to sad to bitter. He thinks he may have been spotted. He slinks down and crawls behind the chair. He reaches out and switches off the table lamp. He slowly returns to the seat/perch fixated on what’s going on outside the window. He picks up the phone and dials. It rings five times before someone picks up.)
MR. DRUM (on phone)Hello?
CARLHello. Mr. Drum. Is Peggy there?
MR. DRUM (on phone)Who is this?
CARLIt’s Carl Starling, Sir. Carl. From across the street.
MR. DRUM (on phone)Are the clocks all broken at your home, Carl?
MR. DRUM (on phone)Did you call me because you needed me to tell you how late it is?
CARLNo, Sir. I know how late it is. I just wanted to talk to Peggy. Your daughter.
MR. DRUM (on phone)I know who she is, Carl. She’s not here. I suggest you call back tomorrow at a reasonable time. Not before 10am and not after 6pm.
CARLAre you sure?
MR. DRUM (on phone)Am I sure what?
CARLAre you sure she’s not home? I mean, I thought I saw her walk by our window. She might be on the front porch or something.
MR. DRUM (on phone)Oh, for crying out loud in church on a Monday. Hold on…
(We hear Mr. Drum put down the phone.)
MRS. DRUM (off phone)Who is it, Ashley?
MR. DRUM (off phone, walking away)It’s that retard from across the street.
MRS. DRUM (off phone)I don’t think that’s a nice thing to say.
MR. DRUM (off phone)He wants to talk to your daughter.
MRS. DRUM (off phone)Why does the retard want to talk to Peggy?
(FROM THE BACK OF THE THEATER, WE HEAR a screen door open…)
MR. DRUM (off)Peggy!..
MR. DRUM (off)Oh. Good evening, young man.
PEGGY (off)Daddy, this is Brad. Brad, this is my Daddy.
BRAD (off)Hello. How are you?
MR. DRUM (off)I am fine. Someone on the phone for you, Peggy.
PEGGY (off)Who is it?
MR. DRUM (off)It’s that Starling boy from across the street.
PEGGY (off)What does he want?
MR. DRUM (off)Damn if I know.
PEGGY (off)Tell him I’m not here.
MR. DRUM (off)He knows you’re here. He lives across the street. He thinks you’re having a parade out here or something.
PEGGY (off)Fine. I’ll talk to him.
MR. DRUM (off)Tell him not to call so late.
PEGGY (off)Sorry, Brad.
BRAD (off)I forgive you.
PEGGY (trailing off)I’ll be right back.
(We hear the screen door close and, through the phone, footsteps leading up to the phone and Peggy picking up.)
PEGGY (on phone)Hello.
CARLHi, Peggy. It’s me. Carl.
PEGGY (on phone)What do you want, Carl?
CARLYou know, I was just thinking about the great time we had last week at the carnival. I had such a great time. You had a great time, too. Didn’t you?
PEGGY (on phone)Yeah. I had a really good time.
CARLWe should do it again, sometime.
PEGGY (on phone)Yeah. Sure. Look. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s such a good idea. I’m leaving for college in a few weeks.
CARLI know. It’s cool. College is cool. We can just, you know, no strings attached. Have some fun. Who wants to be tied down? Not me. That’s for sure.
PEGGY (on phone)We’ll see. Um. I’m real busy, right now.
CARLI wrote another poem for you. It’s a sonnet. Iambic pentameter and everything.
PEGGY (on phone)I have no idea what that means. I have to go.
CARLSure. Okay. Maybe tomorrow-
(Peggy hangs up the phone. So does Carl.)
MOTHER (off)Carl?…Carl? Are you on the telephone?
CARLNo, Ma. I’m not on the telephone.
MOTHER (off)Then turn down the radio.
CARLThe radio’s not on.
CARLGo back to sleep, Ma.
(Carl goes back to the window. He doesn’t see anything across the street. There’s a knock at the door. He doesn’t know what to do. He takes short steps in different directions settling on standing against the far wall. Peggy enters. She is dressed like the girl in Edward Hopper’s “Summer Evening.” She is followed by Brad, who is dressed like the boy.)
(She turns on the lamp and sees Carl pressed against the wall.)
CARLOh, hi. Peggy. I didn’t hear you come in. Would you like something to drink for you and your guest. My mother made a pitcher of pink lemonade.
BRADWhy is it pink?
CARLI don’t know.
BRADLemons aren’t pink.
CARLNo they are not.
PEGGYCarl, this is Brad. Brad is my boyfriend.
BRADHello. How are you?
CARL (he looks back and fourth between Peggy and Brad)Are you going to hurt me?
BRADAre you talking to me or Peggy?
BRADNo? Peggy says you are in the military. You don’t look it.
CARLI’m not in the military. I just work at the base.
BRADOh. The military is cool.
CARLI swear I didn’t know she had a boyfriend. You should have told me you had a boyfriend.
PEGGYWhen we went to the carnival, I didn’t have a boyfriend. As of tonight, I have a boyfriend. I thought you should know.
PEGGYThank you for writing a poem about me.
(She starts to leave, Brad follows.)
PEGGYWe have some at home.
BRADIs it pink?
(Carl goes back to the chair and sits down. He takes the poem out of his pocket, unfolds it and looks at it. He sets it on the table and turns off the lamp. LIGHTS FADE.)