THE PLAYWRIGHT AND HIS WIFE

 

Early spring, 2006.  A busy morning Saturday morning in an apartment on New York’s west side.  The Priest family, Bertrand, Jill and their 10 year old son, Jake are getting ready for his Little League game.  Bertrand has been writing and believes that he might have a first draft of his new play.  Jill would like to read it.

JAKE

(Offstage.)

Dad, I can’t—

 

BERTRAND

Not yet.

 

JAKE

—find my batting gloves!

 

BERTRAND

(Referring to his play)

I’m still working on it.

 

JILL

You just said it was done?

 

JAKE

Dad?

 

JILL

And that you were bringing it into the Lab.  Why can’t I read it?

 

BERTRAND

It’s still—

 

JAKE

Dad?

 

BERTRAND

—pretty raw.

 

JAKE

Dad!

 

JILL

Are you afraid to let me read it?

 

BERTRAND

(To Jake.)

What?

 

JILL

The play.  Are you afraid—?

 

JAKE

Didja see ‘em?

 

BERTRAND

See what?

 

JAKE

My batting gloves.  Dad?

 

BERTRAND

It’s just… you know.

 

JILL

What?

 

JAKE

Can you help me find ‘em?

 

BERTRAND

Find what?

 

JAKE

My batting gloves!

 

BERTRAND

Okay.

 

JILL

Is there a problem with me reading it?

 

BERTRAND

(A short silence.)

Well, the way you reacted last time—

 

JILL

Are you going to hold that over my head forever?

 

BERTRAND

You didn’t talk to me for a month.

 

JILL

That was over two years ago.

 

BERTRAND

I don’t wanna go through that again.

 

JAKE

Daaad!

 

BERTRAND

Yeah?

 

JAKE

Are ya gonna help me or not?

 

BERTRAND

Yes!

(To Jill.)

The kid’s relentless.

 

JILL

I have an idea.  While you get Jake ready for baseball—

 

BERTRAND

Uh-huh?

 

JILL

—I’ll read the play.

 

BERTRAND

No.  Jill, I’m not ready—

 

JILL

Bertrand.  It’s okay.  I can handle it.

(She takes the pages.  Bertrand stands frozen, watching her.)

Jesus!  It’s just me.

(She takes the papers and goes out of the light.  Jake enters the light.)

 

BERTRAND

Jake, take a look in my bag.  I think they’re in my bag.

 

JAKE

Why would they—?

 

BERTRAND

Cause you left ‘em in the dugout last week and I picked ‘em up.

 

JAKE

(Jake goes off.  From offstage.)

Yep!  They’re there!

(Jake enters the light, wearing his baseball jersey.)

Dad, does this look stupid?

 

BERTRAND

No.

 

JAKE

The sleeves are too long.  They go down to here.

 

BERTRAND

So, roll em up.

 

JAKE

That looks terrible.

 

BERTRAND

Ya know, it’s not about how your shirt fits.

 

JAKE

Daaad.

 

BERTRAND

You know, a lotta great pitchers threw with their sleeves hangin down.

 

JAKE

Really?

 

BERTRAND

Yeah.  Satchel Paige for one.  When he went through his motion, the ball would get lost in all the white fabric waving around.  Hitters couldn’t pick up the ball leaving his hand.

 

JAKE

Cool.

 

BERTRAND

Yeah!  Satchel Paige was very clever.  Know what he used to say?  “Don’t look back.  Somethin might be gainin on ya.”

 

JAKE

What’s that mean?

 

BERTRAND

It means do what you have to do and don’t worry about it.

 

JAKE

Was he any good?

(Hushed sobbing is heard offstage.)

 

BERTRAND

Yeah.  One of the best.  Ever.

 

JAKE

Is that Mom crying?

 

BERTRAND

I don’t know.  Get yourself ready.  Make sure you have all your gear.  Lemme talk to mommy.

 

JAKE

Did I do something?

 

BERTRAND

What could you have done?  You’re out here talkin to me.

 

JAKE

I don’t know.  Maybe she’s cryin because I—

 

BERTRAND

No.  Trust me.  It has nothing to do with you.

(The lights fade and come up on another part of the stage where Jill is reading.  Bertrand enters.)

Is something wrong?  Are you crying?

(Jill doesn’t answer.)

Are you okay?

 

JILL

(Through tears.)

No.

 

BERTRAND

Why?  I don’t—

 

JILL

What is this?

(Jake enters.)

JAKE

Mommy?

 

JILL

Jake.

 

JAKE

Are you crying, Mommy?

(Jill gets control of herself.)

 

JILL

I have to talk to Daddy.

 

JAKE

Are you sad, Mommy?  What are you sad about?

 

JILL

I need to be alone with Daddy.

(Jake is frozen.)

 

BERTRAND

Jake.  Please.  It’ll be okay.

 

JAKE

Really?

 

JILL

It’s okay, Jake.

 

JAKE

We’re still going to baseball, right Dad?

 

BERTRAND

Of course.

 

JAKE

Mommy?  Tell me.  Why—

 

JILL

I’m fine, Jake.  Please.  We just need a few minutes.

(Jill smiles reassuringly.  Jake leaves the room.  Jill allows herself to openly cry.)

Why?

 

BERTRAND

Why what?

 

JILL

You promised me—

 

BERTRAND

What?

 

JILL

—you wouldn’t write this way again!

 

BERTRAND

No, I didn’t.

 

JILL

Why does everything have to be blowjobs and fucking all the time?

 

BERTRAND

It’s not all the time.

 

JILL

It is.  This one is even worse—

 

BERTRAND

Worse?

 

JILL

Yes.  —worse than the last one!

 

BERTRAND

I knew I shouldn’t’ve—

 

JILL

At least that one—

 

BERTRAND

What?

 

JILL

—wasn’t about us!

 

BERTRAND

This isn’t—

 

JILL

Oh, Bertrand!

 

BERTRAND

—about us!

 

JILL

Oh, come on!  It’s obvious!

 

BERTRAND

Here we go!

 

JILL

(Indicating the script.)

Is this what you really want?

 

BERTRAND

Of course not.  I love you.

 

JILL

I don’t under— Then why would you—?

 

BERTRAND

Jill.  Calm yourself.

 

JILL

Don’t tell me to calm myself!

 

BERTRAND

Okay.  Okay.  I’m writing about a man—

 

JILL

A “man.”  Sure.

 

BERTRAND

—who dreams of—

 

JILL

(Thumbing through it.)

I can’t— Every page!

 

BERTRAND

It’s not every page.  Listen. The guy dreams of being powerful.  Virile.  And he’s impotent.  So, he fantasizes—

 

JILL

Why are you writing about that?

 

BERTRAND

Jill—

 

JILL

I know things haven’t been great, but lots of couples—

 

BERTRAND

—it’s a small part—

JILL

—go through periods—

 

BERTRAND

Listen to me.  It’s a small part of the play.  Okay?  The play is not about us, or you, or me.  We’re fine.

 

JILL

How can that be when we haven’t…

 

BERTRAND

Jill.

 

JILL

— touched in a long time?

 

BERTRAND

Not that long.  It’s not a big deal.

 

JILL

Come on.  And you write this?  What am I supposed to think?

 

BERTRAND

Look, I’m exploring dreams, fantasies—

 

JILL

Why do we have to read it?  Why do people have to see it?

 

BERTRAND

I can’t write bullshit.  I need to be true to my innermost—

 

JILL

Why can’t you keep them to yourself?

(A short beat.)

I’m very upset.  I don’t know who you are.

(She reads from the play.)

And she touches me, unzipping me, reaching into my pants and takin out my big, fat cock; harder than it’s ever been.  She gazes at it, amazed and then wraps her mouth around it, sucking and licking; playin with my balls.  I’m goin crazy.  She takes it and rubs her clit— Ugh.

(She continues.)

—with it and puts it inside her.  Damn, if she don’t take all nine inches.

(Jill stops reading for a moment, then continues.)

And I’m fuckin her and fuckin her.  We don’t want it to end, but she’s got Home Ec.

Really, Bert?  Really?

—and if she’s late one more time, she’ll get Detention.

 

BERTRAND

Do you think I need to specify that she’s over eighteen?

 

JILL

(A short beat, then Jill continues.)

So, I pull out.  I’m ready to blow, but my dick keeps growin and growin; bursting through my bedroom wall and drilling into the next apartment.  And she’s hangin on!  Holdin on for dear life!  And we can’t take our eyes off it!   Rising like Apollo 11 and ramming through the moon!  And then exploding!  My cum shoots out of me like burning lava from Vesuvius!

 

BERTRAND

(Laughing.)

I love that.  You don’t love that?

 

JILL

No.  I don’t love that.

(Continues reading.)

And it’s rainin down on us.  Wet and sticky.  And we’re laughin and laughin!  Rollin around in it.  Slippin and slidin.  Ticklin each other.  Playin.  I grab her sweet ass.  Take a bite.  For a second, I thought I loved her.

(Jill looks at him.)

 

BERTRAND

What?  There’s more.

 

JILL

(She continues reading.)

We shower.  We get dressed.  Me in my charcoal, two-button Hugo Boss, and Tiff in a tube-top and skinny jeans.  What a pair we are!  Take the Jag and drop her off.  Got her there with time to spare.  We hear the bell ring.  She smiles, gives me a kiss, a little wave and off she goes.  I watch her walk.  Mmmm.  Was a few minutes late pickin up the wife.  Hit a lotta traffic.

(A short beat.)

Why?

 

BERTRAND

I don’t know.

 

JILL

What is this?

 

BERTRAND

A monologue.

 

JILL

Were you always like this?

 

BERTRAND

Like what?

 

JILL

Like the guy in the play.  Is that you?

 

BERTRAND

No.  Hugo Boss?  Take the Jag?  Of course not.

 

JILL

I never would’ve married you if I knew you were like this.  Oh my God!  Are actors going to read this?

 

BERTRAND

Yeah.

 

JILL

Out loud?

 

BERTRAND

Of course.

 

JILL

In front of people?

 

BERTRAND

I hope so.

 

JILL

I can’t do this.  I can’t go through this again.  This is just too much for me to handle.  What will people say?  What will they think?

 

BERTRAND

I don’t know.

 

JILL

You keep saying “I don’t know.”  Well, I know!  They’re going to say “Bertrand Priest is a pervert and his wife is a fool!”

 

BERTRAND

They won’t say that.

 

JILL

They will!  Maybe not to your face, but after they see this, they’ll think that I’m the boring wife you have to pick up and that you’d rather be with a young girl!

 

BERTRAND

No, they won’t.

 

JILL

They won’t?  That’s what I think.

 

BERTRAND

Jill, you have nothing to worry about.  I don’t want that.  If I did—

 

JILL

What?

 

BERTRAND

—you’d know about it.

 

JILL

Maybe not?

 

BERTRAND

For one thing, I wouldn’t be writing about it for all the world to see!

 

JILL

Is this a cry for help?

 

BERTRAND

No.

(A short beat.)

Jill.  It’s just a play.

 

JILL

Really?  So that makes it okay to hurt me?

 

BERTRAND

This has nothing to do with you.

 

JILL

It doesn’t?  I’m your wife.  I’m the one who stays home with Jake and goes shopping and talks to the neighbors and the mothers on the playground, while you’re out doing…

 

BERTRAND

What?

 

JILL

Whatever you do.  I don’t know.

(A short beat.)

What do you think the mothers on the playground will think?

 

BERTRAND

Who cares what they think?  They just sit out there and gossip all day.

 

JILL

Right!  That’s what they’re going to do.  They’re going to sit out there and gossip all day— about us.  And let me tell you, it can get very vicious.

 

BERTRAND

Jill, frankly, I didn’t have the mothers on the playground—

 

JILL

When I’m down there—

 

BERTRAND

—on my mind when I was writing the play.

 

JILL

When I’m down there, I’m very private.  I never tell them anything.  And now, thanks to you, they’ll know all about us.

 

BERTRAND

This isn’t about us!  What are you talking about?  They’re not gonna know anything!

 

JILL

Then they’ll think they know!

 

BERTRAND

I can’t worry about what people might think they know.

 

JILL

You and your filth—

 

BERTRAND

Filth?

 

JILL

Yes.  You and Your Filth will be Topic Number One at the Playground.  I hope you’re happy.

 

BERTRAND

I am happy.  I have a first draft and I’m happy.

 

JILL

What about my happiness?  I’m the one that has to face them.

 

BERTRAND

I can’t let that stop me from writing what comes out of me.

 

JILL

Why not?

 

BERTRAND

I can’t censor myself.

 

JILL

You’re so selfish!  Don’t you get it?  I’m the one who sleeps with you.  And when you write this way, it reflects—

 

BERTRAND

I’m not changing a thing.

 

JILL

—on us!

 

BERTRAND

No, it doesn’t.

 

JILL

Oh, my God!  You are so thick!

End of Excerpt
 

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