THE HAUNTED HOST – play by Robert Patrick

(poster by Lanford Wilson for 1964 Caffe Cino production, NYC.)

(poster by Lanford Wilson for 1964 Caffe Cino production, NYC.)

(photos from many productions of this play may be seen >>>> HERE)

‘THE HAUNTED HOST’
a play in three scenes
by Robert Patrick
for Joe Cino

All rights whatsoever in this Play are strictly reserved and applications for performance, both amateur and professional, shall be made to:
Samuel French
45 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10010-2751
No performance or use of the Play may be made unless a license has been obtained prior to rehearsal.

SCENE 1

The setting is the living room of JAY’s apartment. It is situated just above the main homosexual cruising crossroads, Christopher St. and Greenwich Ave. in Manhattan. There is a door to the hallway, another to the remainder of the apartment, and a window overlooking the intersection. The apartment, itself is tacky as hell, littered, dirty, but not stagnant. It is apparent that whoever lives here is always on the go, although the appearance would suggest that he is going in a circle. There are clothes tossed around, magazines and books, dozens upon dozens of cigarette packages. On a desk is a huge, dirty, ragged stack of papers, tied into a bundle with cord. These are the writings of Ed, the ghost. A large photo of Ed hangs over the couch. He was a handsome young man, just short of classically beautiful. NOTE: This script is written as if the hallway outside the host’s apartment, and therefore the guest’s comings and goings, are visible to the audience.

At rise, JAY, the host, is kicking around the apartment looking very nervous indeed. NOTE: In some productions, JAY entered the apartment from outside, dressed as if for office-work, and carrying packages which include the Kandinsky poster mentioned below. JAY is a few years older than Ed looks in the picture. HE is energetic, flamboyant, dazzling in the personality department when he wants to be, and his gesture and expressions suggest intelligence. HE is not very handsome, and his manner of dress – which suggests he has just walked through somebody’s wet wash – is not designed to enhance whatever attractive features he might have. HE holds a rolled-up poster in his hands, and keeps casting guilty looks at the photo of Ed, and at a spot in the air which contains Ed’s ghost. Finally, in a mad burst of organized energy, HE takes down the photo, props it up where it is clearly visible to the audience, and affixes to the wall the ugliest Kandinsky print ever remaindered at Marboro Book Shops. NOTE: triple periods (…) indicate that JAY waits for a response form the ghost.

JAY: (To Ghost) There! (Mock Bette Davis) Do you like it? (Serious, thumbing through papers on desk) Did you like any abstract art at all? Well, it’s NOT my favourite picture – (Ironically) it’s not even my favourite KIND of picture, but – (Defensively) it interested me! (Superior) Well, I know it bores YOU, but just possibly it might hold some kind of feeling or outlook, or whatever, that will come in valuable some time. Just BECAUSE it bores you, because it IS a strange way of feeling forced on you from outside–an emotion or attitude that you’d never feel, or never follow if you DID feel – a SHOCK! – just possibly it might help you get out of yourself for a minute. Because the things we like, even the people we like, are just ourselves, just – talking to ourselves. We have to get OUT … Because we need to, we have to. We live in such a crowd. (Mocking his own melodramatics) We ARE such a crowd, every one of us; so much of us is other people that have come at us all our lives like – COOKIE CUTTERS! – that only some constant kind of openness, availability, can let in enough ideas to help us even begin to determine who in Hell we are. Who on EARTH we are. Who in HEAVEN we are! (Smugly pleased with this phrase, but trying to conceal it) Oh, for Christ’s sake, baby – don’t admire my phrases– (Mock-pedantic) check my premises! (Ghost speaks) I will call you “baby” as long as you act like one (Ghost speaks, JAY interrupts) Yes, yes, of course our personalities are formed by our experience – and that idea, by the way, is not yours, but Sigmund Freud’s, it came to you from outside, touché! – but all that means is that we ARE shaped, we. CAN be shaped. I know it’s no fun to change, or even to try to see what you’re really like, to TRY to change, but we can … What? (Ghost interrupts. JAY repeats his inquiry, mocking the Ghost’s Southern accent) Do Ah buh-leeve that pee-pull evah really change? Of course, cookie! All we DO is change! Why, when you first started working for a living, when you first had sex – when you first started smoking, especially – didn’t you change? Didn’t your LIFE change, absolutely, every time? At least until you found a way to work the new prop, or the new character, into the same old inner drama! Or let some scientist come up with a new pill, or a new plastic, or a good oral contraceptive, or, please God, a psychology that works – or let some dumb damned politician pass a new law, and WATCH lives change! (HE fervently believes this, and is offended by the Ghost’s quick reply) No, idiot, you can’t change your feelings. I didn’t say a word about feelings, get the spit out of your ears! (He becomes intensely serious) Listen, you can’t change what you feel — but you CAN change what you do. Look at us. (Indicates messy room) You changed my life. I sure as hell changed yours. Only think – if we had known that we were going to. If we had decided to use each other for something good -

The phone rings. HE is puzzled; it never rings. HE: follows the phone cord and finds the phone deep in the wastebasket, under many papers, its cord wrapped around it. HE unwinds the phone from its cord, blows dust from it, and answers, cautiously.

Hello? (HE instantly snaps into a high-queenish character) Oh, HELLO, Jo Wanda … No, I don’t answer the phone funny anymore, it encourages people to call … How are you? How’s that man you’re living with? … And the one he’s living with? … You sound it … Oh, I’M fine, I’m good for another ten years unless I do something quick … Oh, nothing, I was just going through Ed’s papers. Why. What do you need? … A favor? A favor? How dare you ask me for a favor, after all the favors you’ve done for me — and ruin my winning streak? What is it? … Huh? (Looks around room, a little dazed) Uhh – sure! Sure he can stay here! I mean, if I can stay here, he can stay here Just point him at my side of the Village and tell him to COME ACROSS! What’s he like? … (Laughs) No, you sex maniac, not what DOES he like; what IS he like? I don’t care WHO he is, but WHAT is he? … Straight. Does he need a chaser? … No no no – I don’t mind if he don’t mind. Besides, I’ve already had your whole graduating class up here; I don’t want to start on the underclassmen. I will put him in my living-bedroom. (Tests softness of sofa with his foot) … I have my own sheets, thank you! You are not sending that child out on the streets of Greenwich Village on Saturday night with an armload of bedclothes – not here in the overkill area where I live! (Peeks out window) Woo! Tell him to walk fast; the happy hunting grounds are infested tonight! You know, I live across front this little bakery – and all I can see are hot cross buns! Hurry the lamb over, I’ll start some coffee. ‘Bye. (But Jo Wanda will not be put off without his usual sisterly farewell) And a good buh-buh-ba-bye to you, too (Hangs up) Twit! (Looks at room with new eyes, quickly and capably arranges during his next lines some modicum of order). La la la la – another little visitor from the future! (To Ghost) Look, Jo Wanda is sending over some frat brother of yours and hers for me to entertain – so I would appreciate it if for once you would just behave like other people’s ghosts and PLAY DEAD! (HE exits, toting laundry, before he can hear the Ghost’s rejoinder. The phone begins to ring again. HE re-enters with a pile of bedclothes, stares at phone, tosses bedclothes on couch and answers) Hello? … Look, I just talked to you, don’t monopolize . , . Well, there’s always the chance somebody will dial a wrong number … On his way? Already? How are you sending him, by stork? … So what now? … Secrets! … He is? … Oh, he is … Large bore or small bore? … (Finishing Jo Wanda’s sentence) And you want me to get him out of your hair… Oh, all the way out of New York, you’ve let your hair grow! … Well, consider it done! I will put the Dispose-All in gear. He will be back in Iowa for breakfast – which I will have on you, incidentally! … Ho-kay … Oh, by the way, let me know if you ever wanna get rid of Burt. (Sexy) No charge.

During this, the GUEST appears at the door, having wandered down the hallway checking numbers. HE is the living image of Ed’s picture. HE wears a grotesquely-colored collegiate letter-jacket, carries a suitcase and an overnight bag, and has a conspicuous script rolled up in his back pocket.
[NOTE: The zipper jacket the GUEST wears must be the sort that has a quilted silver inner lining. Later JAY is going to put it on back-to-front and inside-out to resemble a monster.]
The GUEST rings. While waiting, HE polishes his shoes by rubbing each in turn on the back of his trouser legs.

Hold on, he’s buzzing. (JAY goes to downstairs-door speaker, buzzes it, shrieks into it, “Hello! Hello! Hello!” and returns to phone.)

The GUEST hears him approach door and readies a big smile, is baffled when the door does not open, and momentarily eavesdrops on the phone conversation inside, which HE cannot make out, before ringing again. HE should comb his hair quickly and carefully in the interim.

Now let me off the hook huh, I’ve got to mess the place up again before he climbs the stairs … A what?… A sur-what? … I don’t want a surprise, sugar – I don’t even want the inevitable! ‘Bye! (Hangs up) Twat!

GUEST rings at the hall door again.

Oh, Lord! (Yells) Just a minute! (Grabs some loose laundry and/or papers and litters the place again, runs over to a mirror and quickly ties his hair up in a ridiculous topknot or dons a mammoth string of beads. Surveys the effect. GUEST continues to ring, rather impatiently) Ring out the old, ring in the new! (To Ghost) Would this get rid of you? One hopes! (Instantly a little regretful, as he always is of unkindness to the Ghost) I’m sorry. (Dances like Bambi to the door, puts on his queeniest air) Ready or not! (Opens the door) Hell – (Does an enormous take at GUEST’S resemblance to Ed, looks back and forth between Ed’s photo and the GUEST. Slams door in GUEST’s face) – Low! (Runs to grab Ed’s photo, hides it where GUEST cannot see it but audience CAN throughout the play, looks at the mess, says, “Oh, fuck it!”, takes hair down or beads off and zooms back to fling door open; looks back and forth from GUEST to Ghost, checking resemblance)

GUEST (Who has been caught checking door number against a slip of paper) Uh – hello?

JAY: (Whisks BOY in) Well, hello, come in, I’m your host! (Slams door and leans against it) And you’re my parasite!

GUEST: (Standing, holding his luggage) Uh, you were expecting me, weren’t you? I mean, you looked at me funny.

JAY: Well, I’m funny-looking. (These compulsive bad jokes usually cause JAY to be terribly polite afterwards) No no no, you look a great deal like someone. And I’m sure you are. Come on IN! (HE ushers GUEST further into room. Phone rings, JAY picks it up, answers without waiting for a “Hello”) Hello, Jo Wanda. I was expecting you to phone about now, don’t start anything you can’t finish in Hell! (Hangs up three or four times noisily) Here, give me those!

Grabs GUEST’s bags and stows them behind desk. GUEST follows right behind and extends his hand, so that JAY turns around to find it in his face.

GUEST: (Winning friends, influencing people) I’m Frank!

JAY: Ha! And don’t I wish that everybody was! (Shakes hand) I’m Jay. Give coat. (Whips coat from GUEST, making a face at its ugliness) Sit down. (FRANK sits on couch. All this very quick) This is your bed. It unfolds into a nightmare! (HE is already exiting with FRANK’s coat, which HE holds like an odoriferous dead animal)

FRANK: Ha! Is that out of your play?

JAY: (Surprised FRANK knows HE writes plays) Yes, completely out. Want some coffee? (HE exits)

FRANK: (Shouting) Black, no sugar!

JAY: (Off) I must jot that down!

FRANK (Shouting) I thought I heard – do you have somebody here?

JAY: (Re-entering with complete ill-assorted coffee service on tray) Not so much anymore, just the house ghosts. Why, is there anyone in particular you’d like?

FRANK: Uh, no–I thought I heard you talking to someone.

JAY: (Eyeing phone viciously. Coffee gets served somewhere in here) Yes, a former friend!

FRANK: (Delighted) Who, a ghost? (JAY drops spoon or something) You really believe in ghosts? John said you did.

JAY: I scarcely believe in anything else anymore. Do you?

FRANK: No, frankly, I don’t.

JAY: How about reincarnation?

FRANK: No. I believe that every human being is unrepeatable.

JAY: Like a dirty story. Well, actually the existence of ghosts has been recently proved. (A little groggy clue to FRANK’s resemblance to Ed) Very recently.

FRANK: No kidding. (Gets up, examining apartment) Hey, whaddaya pay here?

JAY: Ya pays your dues. (Apologizing for mess) I used to keep plants. Man-eating plants. They starved. (HE gets FRANK’s coffee accidentally, makes a face, grabs his own)

FRANK: (Who is getting none of JAY’s jokes) No kidding. Hey, what are these, mystic books?

JAY: What are what?

FRANK: These with the Egyptian titles.

JAY: (Baffled) Egyptian which?

FRANK: Aak-Abu, Aca-Bek, Bel-Cav…

JAY: (Joins FRANK at bookcase) THOSE are an encyclopedia. What are you, anyway, hipped on the occult?

FRANK: (Embarrassed) Uh, no – but John said that you were interested in ghosts and spirits and like that, and that I should discuss it with you.

JAY: Isn’t that typical of Jo Wanda? You want to do in a generous friend; you send them a poisoned opportunist.

FRANK: But who was it you were talking to? That guy that died?

JAY: (Visibly shaken) Jo Wanda does tell all, doesn’t she? No, it was somebody trying to sell me something on the phone. (Indicates script in FRANK’s back pocket) What have you got there, her dossier on me?

FRANK: (Shyly, handling it to JAY) No … that’s MY play.

JAY: Plays. I love them. (Flings it backwards over his shoulder, is about to say something really scathing to FRANK. Phone rings. Answers it as before) What’s the matter, Jo Wanda, didn’t you have time to teach him the Southern accent? (Hangs up, wraps phone in its own cord, jams it in wastebasket, turns back to the puzzled but charmed FRANK) So, you write too!

FRANK: Well, not really, not yet. That’s what I came here for.

JAY: Here? Tonight?

FRANK: Ha. No, I mean here to New York.

JAY: (Quickly, to Ghost, to FRANK’s bewilderment) Listen, baby, they’re playing our song. (To FRANK) And how do you LIKE New York?

FRANK: (Whenever attention is focused on him, HE automatically becomes shyly charming) Oh, well, all I’ve seen of it so far, really, is between John’s house and here -

JAY: Gay Street.

FRANK: Right. Gee, it sure is busy for such a cold night. All those people walking up and down the street. Such a dark little street, too–(His naiveté on the subject is slightly assumed)

JAY: Yeah, well, it’s one of those nights.

FRANK: One of what nights?

JAY: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday -

FRANK: (Quickly) Ha! (Philosophical) What are they all looking for?

JAY: (After deadly pause) Approval?

FRANK: Ha! (Changing subject) John SAID you were a pretty good writer. (Heads for Ed’s papers) Is that your stuff on the desk?

JAY: (Hopping between FRANK and desk) No, that’s the literary leavings of that “dead guy” you mentioned.

FRANK: Oh. John said he was pretty good, too.

JAY: (High-queen) Well, I don’t think Jo Wanda could have meant his writing.

FRANK makes a piqued face.

You don’t like my calling John “Jo Wanda”?

FRANK: Frankly, no.

JAY: Daring of you to fly in the face of convention like that. Okay (Mock butch) Woddidja call ‘im at college?

FRANK: Mr. Lawrence.

JAY: Oh, Mary!

FRANK: Well, he was a senior when I was a freshman.

JAY: Wasn’t everybody? I mean, you’re awfully young, aren’t you? As it were?

FRANK: Well, I’m almost twenty.

JAY: (Beginning a snide inquisition) And out of college? My!

FRANK: Well, no – I – left school when I was a sophomore.

JAY: Oh? And ever since?

FRANK: Well, gee, that’s only been six months. I wasn’t much of a student, I guess. (Laughs, JAY joins in. Serious) I wanted to see more of life than I was at school. Hell, YOU know–

JAY: (Understandingly) Mmm.

FRANK: So I – knocked around on the coast for a few months –

JAY: The West Coast.

FRANK: Yeah, San Francisco.

JAY: Ah. And-?

FRANK: (Feeling uninteresting, for once) Well, that’s all. Gee, I don’t want to talk about myself. What do YOU do? Besides write, I mean? Say, I’d sure like to see your stuff.

JAY: Oh, I’m still knocking around on this coast – quietly. We don’t want to start reading to each other – (Picks up boy’s play and places it under Ed’s huge pile of papers) – DO we?

FRANK: I WOULD like you to have a look at my play. John thought maybe you could help me to -

JAY: (Grabbing cup of coffee, cigarettes, anything) My hands are full right now.

This is enough of an insult for even FRANK to see. THEY stand embarrassedly facing one another for a minute.

FRANK: Oh.

BOTH (Simultaneously) Well–(THEY laugh, but the tension is riot broken. Brief pause and THEY speak together again)

FRANK: (Referring to the Kandinsky) Who did that?

JAY (Simultaneous) What time do you have? (THEY laugh)

FRANK: Nine to five.

JAY: (Simultaneous) Kandinsky. (THEY laugh) Nine to five. Great odds. (To FRANK, with Bette Davis imitation, exactly as at start of play) Do you like it?

FRANK: (Studying picture intently) Well, I don’t know; I never understand that stuff. (Charmingly) Maybe you could explain it to me?

JAY trembles, turns away. This has all happened before.

Or did you have somewhere to go? Hey, am I putting you out?

JAY: No, I wasn’t turned on. No no no, not at all. (With sincere warmth and graciousness, an elaborate Oriental bow) You’re welcome.

FRANK: (Warmly) Thank you.

JAY: (Repeats gesture sketchily) You’re welcome. No, I never go out anymore, everything comes to ME. (Trying to close everything off without rancor) Look, you’re probably anxious to get some sleep –

GUEST: Oh, gee, no, not my first night here. I thought I’d go out – if I only knew where to go!

JAY: (Remembering his original mission, to get rid of boy) Uh – you know, New York is really a terribly dull town – you can ask Jo–John! It’s terribly overrated.

FRANK: (Acres of charm) Aw, I bet it’s not, not if you have the right kind of person to show you around.

JAY: (Coldly) Look, if you really want to “see more of life,” as you said, you should get yourself a traveling job. Like with the World Health Organization? W.H.O.? WHO needs you.

FRANK: (Obviously hurt) Oh -

JAY: (Embarrassed) Look, I’m being – overly rude. Do you want the bathroom or anything? The little boys’ room is right through here – and mine is just beyond.

FRANK: No, not right now, thanks.

JAY: (Trying to make him feel at ease) Have you eaten?

FRANK: Yeah, yeah, I did already, thanks.

JAY: Well, would you like to write something? I must have a pencil around here someplace – (Mock scrabble through a drawer)

FRANK: (Chuckles) Ha! No, thanks.

JAY: (A little desperate) Well, I haven’t any music –

FRANK: I’m surprised you don’t have a stereo.

JAY: Why surprised?

FRANK: John kept saying you were a big stereo type. (Brightly, before JAY can blow up) Hey, I know what we could do!

JAY: What?

FRANK: I could tell you about my bus trip here from Iowa!

JAY: (Instantly, self-preservation) Would you like some drugs?

FRANK: Uh, gee – I don’t know – what?

JAY: (Mock of tense) My dear, I was joking! (Whips open well-stocked drug cabinet) Would you?

FRANK: (Terrified, trying to appear sophisticated) Uh – well – I don’t know. What is it, Mary Jane?

JAY: (Scathingly) Yes, “Mary Jane.” This particular kind is called “boo.” (As one connoisseur to another) Do you know it?

FRANK: UP, well – yeah – sure – I had it – a couple of times – once.

JAY: Ah! And how did you find it? Cool?

FRANK: Well, to tell you the truth, it made me – drowsy.

JAY: Oh, that’s easy – (Whips out pills) Have one of these!

FRANK: What are they?

JAY: (Offers some) They’re heaven. Try it. It’s a mild stimulant – compared to some. (Mock scientific) Counteracts the drowsiness.

FRANK: (Reluctantly takes a couple in his palm) How can you take this stuff?

JAY: (Flips FRANK’s palm up so the pills go down FRANK’s throat) Like this! (As FRANK sputters and gulps coffee) Oh, come on, anything I can take, you can take!

FRANK: It’s an up?

JAY: It’s an out!

FRANK: It’ll keep me awake?

JAY: Only for the first seventy-two hours. (FRANK is terrified) I’m joking. No, you can sleep if you want to, after the first couple of hours. Give it, say, thirty minutes to hit. Here, we can make your bed while we wait. Up!

THEY fold down the sofa and make it up as a bed, or rather FRANK does. As the last section folds out, a WELCOME mat attached to it flops down. FRANK blinks. Jay kicks the welcome-mat back and directs FRANK in making the bed.

FRANK: Did you ever -

JAY: (Throws pillow at him) Wanna pillow?

FRANK: Did you ever -

JAY: (Throws another pillow) Wanna fight?

FRANK: Did you ever try -

JAY: Wanna pillow fight?

FRANK: Did you ever try acid?

JAY: Yes – once. You don’t want to try that. (Enacts this story vividly as FRANK makes bed) It was fine at first. The walls turned all fluorescent paisley mauve, and then the ceiling opened and a flight of golden stairs descended, and angels with silver trumpets heralded the arrival of the Great God Jehovah – and here He came! All white, flowing beard, His arms held out to ME!

FRANK: (Beginning to get off, awed) Wow!

JAY: (High-queen) And there I was – on acid! (HE hops down from the back of the sofa, where HE: has ended up, and dances giddily about the room)

FRANK: Uh, this stuff won’t make me dizzy, will it?

JAY: No, I’m like this all the time. I’m joking. No, it DOES have a couple of side effects. It tends to make one talk rather loosely and honestly–and of course, if anybody hits a tuning-fork, you disappear, and – oh! The first half hour or so after it hits, it tends – in certain isolated cases – to bring out the sex urge in one – (Dives onto the sofa-bed, mock-sexy) – or more.

FRANK: Uh, look – there’s something I really ought to tell you.

JAY: Whatever could it be? (Having fun making FRANK uncomfortable)

FRANK: If you don’t mind my asking –

JAY: (Super-sultry) Honey, I never mind anybody asking.

FRANK: It’s -

JAY: Yeeeeees?

FRANK: (Frankly) Are you a homosexual?

JAY: (Casually) Don’t mention it.

FRANK: No, are you?

JAY: (Grabbing an ostrich fan or fur piece from somewhere) Do I LOOK like a homosexual?

FRANK: Please don’t be offended – there’s just so much of it around.

JAY: (Dispensing with prop) Well, it ain’t contagious – relax.

FRANK: Please, let me tell you how I feel

JAY: Honey, I don’t want to feel you.

FRANK: You see, when I was in college I took psychology-

JAY: – and vice versa

FRANK: Why are you so defensive?

JAY: Because you’re so offensive!

FRANK: No, you’re just taking offense.

JAY: Well, I’m not taking any more! Now relax, Mr. District Attorney, whatever you may think you’ve got on me, I have twice as much on you.

FRANK: Anything you think you have on me is strictly in your imagination!

JAY: Don’t be ridiculous, in my imagination I have nothing on you. Now, wait, I’m only joking. You shouldn’t assume that every homosexual wants to sleep with every attractive boy he meets – just because a few million of us are like that.

FRANK: Tell me, did you ever see a psychiatrist?

JAY: You mean one of those people who tell you society is sick and then offer to help you adjust to it?

FRANK: You don’t have to be crazy to see a psychiatrist. I’d like to see one myself.

JAY: (Holds out hand) You’re pseudo-aggressive – That’ll be five thousand dollars.

FRANK: What you have is a persecution complex.

JAY: What I have is a complex persecution.

FRANK: But did you ever think of seeing a psychiatrist?

JAY: (As if hallucinating) I think I see a psychiatrist!

FRANK: For instance, do you know what psychiatrists say about people who wear unattractive clothes?

JAY: (Stung) Do YOU know what they say about people who don’t wear underwear?

FRANK: I wear underwear! Oh, you’re just being hostile!

JAY: Yeah, youth hostel!

FRANK: I think people and homosexuals should try to understand one another!

JAY: Ho, boy! People on this side, homosexuals over here! Wanna play Red Rover?

FRANK: I think the homosexual -

JAY: THE homosexual? Who he?

FRANK: I think the homosexual should find his place in society!

JAY: Where? Off-Broadway?

FRANK: I should think the homosexual- -

JAY: THE?

FRANK: – would be tired of being persecuted!

JAY: You noticed!

FRANK: You’re evading my question!

JAY: No, I’m ignoring it!

FRANK: ARE you a homosexual?

JAY: (Proudly, brazenly) I’m THE homosexual!

FRANK: Now, look -

JAY: You look! There’s a question I’ve always wanted to ask someone.

FRANK: What is it?

JAY: I hope you won’t be offended.

FRANK: Well, what? No, of course not, What?

JAY: Well – you’re heterosexual, aren’t you?

FRANK: Sure!

JAY: Now, don’t get angry, I’m only satisfying my curiosity – or perhaps I should say I’m satisfying only my curiosity–

FRANK: Oh, come on–

JAY: Tell me, Frank, how long have you BEEN heterosexual?

FRANK: What do you mean? I’ve ALWAYS been heterosexual!

JAY: Started as a kid, huh? Tsk-tsk. Tell me, do you think one of your teachers, or possibly even one of your parents might have been heterosexual? Do you think that might have been the reason you –

FRANK: (Interrupting) All right, all right, just shut up, okay?

JAY: Okay, Frank. Gee, I didn’t think you’d be so touchy about it. Wow. Whew. (Brief pause) Tell me, is your play heterosexual?

FRANK: (Snappy) You mean does it sleep with plays of the opposite sex?

JAY: (Delighted to have drawn wit) Oooo. Getting off, ain’tcha? Well, you know, you people DO tend to let heterosexuality CREEP into all your work.

FRANK: We let heterosexuality — What are you talking about? You people are flagrant!

JAY: Flagrant? Flagrant? Did you say ‘flagrant?’ Homosexuals are flagrant? Have you ever seen a Puerto Rican wedding?

FRANK: I think you ought to see a psychiatrist – fast!

JAY: (On a roll, off-guard with victory) Why are you so anxious to get me on a couch?

FRANK: (Quite sincerely) Because you’re a nice person and I’d like to see you happy.

JAY: (Not expecting that. Briefly stalled. Then, does a hideous grin) There! Now you see it. (Does a hideous leer) And now you don’t! (Before FRANK can reply) Look, will you fold up that obscene couch? Like the Playmate of the Month, clear. I’ve got to go and get some cigarette papers to wrap this baby bunting in. (Starts off – stops) But first, there IS one more question I’d like to ask you –

FRANK: Jesus, what?

JAY: College, Coast, cross-country–haven’t you HAD your homosexual experience?

FRANK: That’s my business!

JAY: Funny. I would have sworn you were an amateur. (HE exits with grass)

FRANK: Look, I am trying to preserve my dignity -

JAY: (Sticks his head back in) Yeah? What was it like? (Quick exit)

FRANK, alone, angrily finishes folding up couch. Then HE stalks over to Ed’s papers, extracts his play. In doing so, HE has to lift Ed’s bundle. HE weighs Ed’s enormous output against his own slim script, puts both down. Slowly HE allows himself to look into a mirror cross-stage. HE goes over, combs his hair thoroughly, tries unbuttoning a button or two, nods with approval at the effect, then saunters back to the desk. HE extracts one of Ed’s poems, reads it, sneers. Reads another, says, “Oh, come on.” Reacts another, mocks its apparently mechanical meter: “De-dum, de-dum, de-dum”. HE is feeling pretty self-satisfied right now. HE draws out another poem, starts to sneer – but it is apparently good.

FRANK: (Yells) Hey! This guy’s no good, huh?

JAY: (Pops in) You have taste. He was a great reefer-roller, though.

FRANK quickly hides the poem behind him and follows JAY around the room.

I am out of cigarette papers. I would rather be out of toilet paper.

FRANK: But you kept all that stuff of his, huh?

JAY: (Grimly) It was here. (Lightly) Now, where is that hookah?

JAY is searching for hookah. FRANK follows him, being terribly “nice” and “interested.”

FRANK: Oh, were you and him-?

JAY: I never touched him! (Menacingly) And THAT man is dead. (Returns to search) Hookah, hookah, hookah.

FRANK: Well, what was he – good-looking?

JAY: (Private joke) He was as handsome as the NEXT man. Ah, here it is! (HE takes lampshade off huge hookah, all its hoses and mouthpieces tumbling out like some kind of squid.. Explaining) I get so paranoid sometimes!

JAY sits on floor to arrange hookah. FRANK extends his script.

FRANK: I’d like you to look at my play.

JAY takes it, literally “looks at it,” front and back, lays it on floor and sets hookah on top of it.

FRANK: (Laughs faux-good-naturedly, sits on floor opposite JAY) Ha! Uh – how’d you meet him?

JAY: (Preparing hookah) It was a very unique meeting. He was an old frat friend of Jo Wanda’s – a very, very, VERY (HE sucks at hookah to make his point) good friend of Jo Wanda’s – so BURT sent him over to spend the night with me.

FRANK: Oh, I see … How’d he die?

JAY: (Shocked) Alone.

FRANK: Oh. Suicide?

JAY: (This is really too much for him) No, thanks, I just had one.

FRANK: You know, you’re really very funny.

JAY: (Thrusting hookah mouthpiece at him) I take drugs.

FRANK: Uh, no thanks. You better start it. I like to watch.

JAY: Thanks, baby.

HE does the ritual of lighting hookah, making sure it draws, etc. FRANK watches, fascinated. JAY is struck by the similarity of this to scenes with Ed, repeats, “Thanks, baby,” then after a drag, in Southern accent, affectionately:

Ah wish you wouldn’t call me “baby.”

FRANK: (Puzzled) I didn’t call you -

JAY: (Quickly) I know, I know. (Covering up his gaffe) Jo Wanda did. I’m glad it cost her a unit, the eunuch!

FRANK: I thought John was your friend.

JAY: So she is (Takes drag)

FRANK: Then why do you knock him?

JAY: Because she’s so flat – and wooden – and closed.

FRANK: That’s awful!

JAY: No, it’s just her way. Here, smoke.

FRANK: Uh – maybe I had better just watch.

JAY (Jams stem in FRANK’s mouth) No, join me – because I am coming apart. Boy, those pills hit like bowling balls!

FRANK coughs on smoke. JAY grins. FRANK tries again, determined to do it. HE continues to smoke throughout the next sequence.

JAY: Here, you need one of these (Gives FRANK ‘popper’ inhaler)

FRANK: What is it?

JAY: Oh, just a little something to filter the New York air.

FRANK: Is this stuff dangerous?

JAY: No more than mother’s milk – if you know your Freud.

FRANK: Yeah, I’m getting a terrific – uh (Snaps his fingers, trying to think of word, is delighted when he does) rush!

JAY: Not from me, toots.

FRANK: Hey, is it getting hot in here (Opens or removes his shirt revealing an impressive chest) or is it just me?

JAY: (Not sure ANYONE could not have said THAT knowingly, retreating from FRANK’s physical appeal) I don’t know – let’s open yon window and see.

FRANK: What’s life like in Greenwich Village?

JAY: Nothing’s very lifelike in Greenwich Village. (HE giggles, goes to window, takes a hammer, pulls out nails, which have kept window closed, and flings it open. JAY looks down on the crowded street below. FRANK continues to smoke.)

Ah, there they are. My people, my puppets, my pageant, my parade! Hello, everyone. I love you all, every one of you, little six pointed creatures like snowflakes, each slightly different – even if you are all alike. Up and down, down and down, round and round, over and out! (HE observes, and calls FRANK’s attention to a pick-up between a “fem” and a “butch”) Oooh, lookie! Mince-mince-mince. Lumber-lumber-lumber. Mince-mince. Lumber-lumber. (”Fem” slows down) Miiiiince. (“Butch” slows down) Luuuuumber. (“Fem” approaches “Butch”) Mince-mince-mince. (“Butch” approaches “Fem”) Lumber-lumber-lumber. (“Butch” and “Fem” walk off together) Mince-lumber, mince-lumber, mince-lumber! (HE claps his hands in joy)

FRANK: (Looking out of the window) Can’t we go out?

JAY: Not that way!

FRANK: All my life I wanted to get to New York.

JAY: And what was your second wish?

FRANK: To meet interesting people.

JAY: (Indicating street) Drop a handkerchief.

FRANK: (Trying to make up, softly stoned) Look, you don’t think I hold it against you, your being homosexual.

JAY: Well, you can’t be homosexual in a vacuum.

FRANK: You can’t help being homosexual.

JAY: (Retreating a bit from this puzzling intimacy) Sometimes I can.

FRANK: I can’t help being heterosexual.

JAY: Is that final?

FRANK: I didn’t come over here to judge you -

JAY: You’ll notice I didn’t get into my bathing suit.

FRANK: I’d like us to be friends.

JAY: Three wishes and out.

FRANK: Please don’t be flip. (HE is in a pot-benevolent mood)

JAY: Well, all right, Frank. Look, now that we’re being buddies -

FRANK: Are you going to start again–?

JAY: There’s one question I’ve really always wanted to ask -

FRANK: You’re going to start needling me again

JAY: What do straight boys DO together?

FRANK: You’re needling me.

JAY: (Mock pique) Golly, how can I be a writer when I grow up if no one will answer my questions?

FRANK: Oh, well, I guess – if I was with a friend – buddy – pal – on a Saturday night, we’d go – I don’t know – bowling – beer-drinking-looking for girls

JAY: I guess everybody I know is still looking for the friend.

FRANK: Or – (Has begun to fan himself with Ed’s poem)

JAY: Yeah?

FRANK: If it was a really good friend – (HE is turning on the charm)

JAY: Yeah? Yeah?

FRANK: One that I liked and trusted

JAY: Mm-hm.

FRANK: – and who shared my interests

JAY: Go on

FRANK: And if the mood was right

JAY nods, fascinated.

–We’d probably read our manuscripts to each other!

JAY: You can quit fanning yourself, Scarlett, you just blew it. (Of Ed’s poem) Hey, what IS that?

FRANK: Oh, I have to admit – I sort of liked this one.

JAY: (Snatching it from him) Come on, nobody’s THAT young. (Glances at poem) Oh, well, no wonder. This is a note of mine. I have the whole poem here somewhere! (HE goes to a drawer in the desk and starts taking out huge, neat piles – his own manuscripts)

FRANK: (Wandering over, fascinated) Wow, you must have liked that guy a lot!

JAY: (Seeking a certain manuscript) Maybe I killed him to get his priceless manuscripts.

FRANK: Not with all those! … He killed HIMSELF, didn’t he?

JAY: (“Are we back on that?”) I went down to the 9th Precinct to inquire on that very point. And for the next eleven hours I was group therapy for a gang of cops. (Still searching)

FRANK: That must have been rough.

JAY: They’d like you to think so.

FRANK: I mean with your friend dead and all …Why did they question YOU?

JAY: (Still searching) They thunk I done it.

FRANK: Ha! … You didn’t, did you?

JAY: (Not believing what he is hearing) Didn’t WHAT?

FRANK: Kill him?

JAY: Not yet! (Finds poem) Ah! Now, stick that thing in your mouth and listen! (HE hands hookah to FRANK, quickly drops FRANK’s play into wastebasket without FRANK noticing, grabs a chair to stand on, and reads with considerable dramatic power and bravura)

THE READERS OF CAHIERS DU CINEMA
ALL LINED UP TO GET THEIR ENEMA!

FRANK: That’s great!

JAY: That’s the title.

FRANK: Great title!

JAY: (Reads on)
Jimmy lived for films of terror,
After homework without error.
This Phi Beta Kappa member went
Mad for visions of dismemberment.
Disembodied living brains,
Dangling ganglia like chains,
Flew on naked girls to twist ‘em
In their naked nervous system.
Virgin Jim watched showgirls’ shadows
Being torn apart in grottoes
By robots who, though they adored ‘em,
I lad no other uses for ‘em.
Citizenshipped, summa .cum-lauded,
Jimmy only was rewarded
Watching boys robbed of their features
To endow unviable creatures!
Jimmy’s parents read an article,
And accepted every particle.
They believed, with the majority,
Monsters really killed Authority.
At the horror show they found him,
Happy children all around him,
Extracted him, and set two strictures:
He must not WANT to see such pictures!
They locked Jim in with his studies,
Thinking him and all his buddies
Willful, free, seditious arrants,
Learning to destroy their parents.
They mis-studied freak creation,
And misread externalization;
Sublimation is its thesis:
Jimmy tore HIMSELF to pieces!

JAY has acted out every line, leapt about on furniture, become monsters, Jimmy, showgirls, and parents. As a finale, HE tears the poem to shreds and fling it in the air.

FRANK: (Sincerely) Great! Just great! Great! (Applauds, stamps his feet, subsides) I can’t write poetry.

JAY: How did we get back to YOU?

FRANK: But John says I’m pretty good.

JAY: Hmmm. Well, your profile’s not bad, you could pose for coins.

FRANK: I mean writing.

JAY: Just as long as you don’t mean reading.

FRANK: You mean you don’t want to hear my play?

JAY: E.S.P.!

FRANK (Hurt) Hey!

JAY: E.S.P., baby: Everybody Smoke Pot!

FRANK: But my play! (Looks about for it)

JAY: (Memory) Play! (Starts digging through manuscripts again)

FRANK: Everybody at school thought I was a good writer. My English teacher used to have me over to his house nights!

JAY: (High-queen) Yeah, I heard about him from Jo Wanda!

FRANK: I am a good writer, goddamit! I’m the best fuckin’ writer around!

JAY: How’s your writing?

FRANK: You’re queer!

JAY: You’re high!

FRANK: I’m not!

JAY: I am.

FRANK: You are?

JAY: WE are. Sit down! (Shoves him onto sofa)

FRANK: Hey, what the hell did you do to my play?

JAY: (Finds what he is looking for) Play! (Comes up with three huge bound manuscripts)

FRANK: Don’t you really want to hear it? (HE is looking everywhere)

JAY: Sure, baby, and you can hear it, too! What a Beautiful Planet, the People Who Live Here Must Be Very Happy. A Trilogy by Jay Astor!

FRANK sees the enormous manuscript and redoubles his efforts to find his own. JAY reads on, changing his voice for each character, reading rapid-fire.

“The setting is a dingy hotel room. A blonde lolls on the bed. A man enters, slams and locks the door. HE: I don’t believe this neighborhood is safe; everyone I passed was in plain clothes. SHE: Our problem, Jake, is I want to commit adultery and you just want to dishonor your father and mother! HE: Oh, shut up, Elvira; I haven’t had so much fun since incest became a motif!”

FRANK: (Finds his manuscript in the wastebasket. In disbelief) Who ARE you?

JAY: (Triumphantly) “SHE!”

SCENE 2

Lights up almost immediately. JAY is still reading, from the last page of the last volume. FRANK lies on the couch, stoned, smoking, covered with sheets of manuscripts.

JAY: “HE: Half the fun of sex is getting your clothes off. SHE: And most of the other half is having them off. HE: I’ll hate myself the morning. SHE: It is morning. HE: And – I hate myself. Curtain.” Applause. Acclaim, Irreparable immortality.

FRANK: (Weakly, sincerely) Great. Great. Great. The greatest.

JAY: (Picking up the litter) I presume you mean the greater.

FRANK: Great, really great. You are amazing.

JAY: Yeah, well, don’t drool on my poems. (Picking them off FRANK)

FRANK: THEY’RE great! Everything you showed me: is great.

JAY: Everything you showed me is great too!

FRANK: Why haven’t you DONE anything?

JAY: (Mock pass) Why, honey, I thought you didn’t want me to.

FRANK: I mean -

JAY: I know, I know– (Continues picking up)

F RANK: You keep saying, “I know, I know.”

JAY: Well, if there’s one thing I do, it’s know.

FRANK: Whadda you know?

JAY: I know I’m seven years older than you.

FRANK: So?

JAY: So, haven’t you learned anything since you were thirteen?

FRANK: Yeah. Jesus, you always win, don’t you?

JAY: Sure, you play fair.

FRANK: No kidding, I mean it. You’re great. You’re a great actor, too. I feel like I really saw your play. Did you ever want to act?

JAY: No. It just happens. They did offer me the comic lead in Oh! Calcutta. But I didn’t want him.

FRANK: That lead part is fantastic. Burt would be right for it.

JAY: Honey, Burt would be right INSTEAD of it.

FRANK: Really, you have a future.

JAY: I’ve had enough of my future, thank you.

FRANK: Seriously, what are you wasting yourself for?

JAY: (To put an end to this) Well, I came to New York to write and sing and dance and act and paint.

FRANK: And what happened?

JAY: I’m available for any parts for writing, singing, dancing, acting painters. Any new business?

FRANK: Can’t you be serious?

JAY: I had it removed.

FRANK: You don’t even seem to take my compliments seriously.

JAY: (Mock pass) Well, they’re all talk.

FRANK: Christ, if I had all your talents-

JAY: Judas, you’ve had most of them -

FRANK: I can’t write nearly as well as you -

JAY: You keep saying that like it was a virtue.

FRANK: All I’ve got is this one play! (Holds it up like a torch)

JAY: (Makes FRANK take the play in his arms and hold it to his breast) Then you must hold it and keep it and cherish and nurture it, and never show it to anyone – (Shoves him away) – or else!

FRANK: (Beyond insult) You’re great at this flip talk, too – you know, I’m really glad John sent me over here – (HE has followed JAY into a corner and now takes JAY’s shoulders affectionately) No one has asked me to stay overnight for years.

JAY: (Human, after all, in the arms of a stoned, admiring youth) Stay overnight for years. (Mock-faints and crawls away)

FRANK: (All concern) Gee, what happened?

JAY: (Defending himself with a wooden chair, like a lion tamer) I recoil from affection.

FRANK: Are you all right?

JAY: (Mimicking FRANK’s inflection) I’m GREAT! (Cornered again, FRANK advancing admiringly) Uh, look – what’s that play of yours about?

FRANK: (Crosses to get it from where it dropped when HE rushed to help JAY) Oh, it’s about this guy and this girl – and she’s very conventional and narrow-minded – and he pulls out -

JAY: (To no one) Anticlimactic.

FRANK: It’s based on actual experience … Do you really want to hear it?

JAY: Need you ask?

FRANK: Well, gosh – gee – wow – okay – here goes – (HE unconsciously imitates JAY’s reading posture) It doesn’t have a title -

JAY: Mmm. I like that.

FRANK: Oh, really? Well, maybe. Here goes – “Act One, Scene One. SHE: Hello – “

JAY: No, I don’t like that.

FRANK: Huh? What?

JAY: “Hello.” No. Sorry.

FRANK: But it’s just – it’s just – it’s just -

JAY: I don’t care if it’s just or not; I don’t like it. Haven’t you got any stage directions?

FRANK: Sure, later on -

JAY: No no no. Get into it right off. It should be something like – “Act One, Scene One. SHE: Parenthesis. Enters, tender as the morning star, her hair sprinkled with rain, in a tone which instantly tells us that she has left her duck-tailed boyfriend waiting out in a light spring rain in his two-tone 1963 Mercury coupe, so that she can come in and beg her stern, grey-haired stockbroker father to let her PLEASE go to the opening of the new Pizza Parlor because it is, after all, her birthday and she hasn’t had any fun since Mama ran away to join the roller derby. Close parenthesis. ‘Hello.’ ” (Pause) No, it’s the “Hello” that’s wrong.

FRANK: How can “Hello” be wrong? (as JAY goes on FRANK slumps, realizing he’s again being played with)

JAY: You’d be surprised. Let’s see; it should be something dynamic, bracing, youthful, intoxicating, alive, all the things I know you want this girl to be. “Hi?” “How’s tricks?” “This is a stickup.” No, no, no! Let me think. Girl, girl, girl. What, what, what?
Maybe, maybe, maybe. No, no, no. Wait, wait, wait! I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it. (Becomes “Girl”) “Hello, hello, hello!” No, it just doesn’t say “girl” to me! (Sits in mock concentration)

FRANK: (Bitterly) Do you KNOW any girls?

JAY: The moment I see one.

FRANK: I guess you don’t like girls?

JAY: Well, I wouldn’t want my sister to marry one.

FRANK: (Trying to regain his composure) I mean, I guess you see them as rivals for–

JAY: Yes, go on, for whom?

FRANK: I have trouble expressing myself –

JAY: Is that your only recommendation as a writer?

FRANK: I have trouble talking to people.

JAY: Try telling the truth?

FRANK: Well, look, if you do know some girls, maybe you could introduce me to –

JAY: I beg your pardon! Haven’t I introduced you to enough tonight?

FRANK: Christ! I don’t know why you people are that way! I should think you’d want to help younger people!

JAY: Yeah, younger and younger!

FRANK: (Extends play) Why won’t you–?

JAY: (Grabs anything) I told you, Mack, my hands are full!

FRANK: Of what? What have you got to do?

JAY: I’ve got a lot of nerves to break down – and you’re not helping! What are you doing here, anyway? Who told you that you could write?

FRANK: Well, who told YOU?

JAY: YOU did!

FRANK: You wanna know what I think?

JAY: I wanna know WHETHER you think!

FRANK: I think the reason you’re being like this is because you want somethin’ from me that you know you’re not gonna get!

JAY: What have YOU been smoking?

FRANK: Come on; I got all those cracks you’ve been making, and I know about John, and Burt, and you.

JAY: Sugarplum, I want your tender white body about as much as I want anything in this world! And I presume by now you know how much THAT is.

FRANK: Oh, yeah? Then how come you’re takin’ all this time with me?

JAY: I like to look at you.

FRANK: Home come you read me all your stuff?

JAY: I like to listen to MYSELF!

FRANK: Christ, trying to get you people to be serious is murder!

JAY: Or be killed.

FRANK: How can a guy get anything done? All I want is to write about the world as I see it!

JAY: The world will sue.

FRANK: To write honestly! Truthfully! Fearlessly! (On each word HE bangs the rolled up script in the palm of his hand)

JAY: I’LL sue!

FRANK: (Pacing) And you ask someone to give you just a little help… and they’re all either tied up with their home life, like Jo Wanda, or else they’re too beat and scared and shy like you. Christ! I just want to write. Honestly! (Whack) Truthfully! (Whack) Fearlessly (Whack) And all I get is a lot of hurt sensitivities and wisecracks! And people waste their lives sitting around talking to themselves about how wasted their lives are, and you ask ‘em to help you not waste yours and they tell you their hands are full! Christ! The world is dying for someone who writes honestly! (Whack) And truthfully! (Whack) And

JAY echoes the words and mimics the actions on the last “Honestly, Truthfully” bit, which so enrages FRANK that HE flings the script at JAY, striking rather hard.

JAY: Oho!

HE hops up as if to do battle. FRANK, appalled at his own rashness, stands terrified. JAY lets him quiver for an instant, then snaps into “high-queen”.

Is my semi-precious stoned?

FRANK gives a moan and falls down on the sofa, buries his face, frustrated, enraged. JAY picks up FRANK’s script and is about to throw it out the window but looks up at the Ghost and relents, satisfies himself with hiding it behind a shutter, stands looking at the nearly-weeping boy.

(To Ghost) I’m sorry. (To FRANK, who slowly rises in anger, thinking the epithets are directed at him) What a rotten, miserable, lying, self-pitying son of a bitch – (Smiles) – I am. (Goes to FRANK) Hey, let’s leave this place to the graveyard shift, huh? Wouldja like
to see the village?

FRANK: (Pouty) I thought you never went out.

JAY: Honey, I talk so much it can’t all be true. Don’t you want to see the Village? I mean, it’s just downstairs. We can even bring some of it up.

FRANK: Yeah. I’d like to see the Village. I guess that sounds corny to you.

JAY: Alice, you say one more sincere thing and I’ll throw you out of Wonderland and stop up my hole! Come on, get that awful coat; I’ll get us in backstage at Burt’s theatre.

FRANK: (Excited) Can you?

JAY: Sure, would you like that?

FRANK: Yeah, really, because I want to write, honestly I do. And so I want to see all the shows and meet all the people and get to writing right off, because I don’t want to wind up like you and Jo Wanda, just sitting around moping … I’m sorry.

JAY: Forget it: I don’t want to be like you, either. Get your things.

FRANK: Hey, I didn’t mean that. I just meant you’ve gone to pot!

They laugh. FRANK is again embracing JAY, who is again leery of it.

JAY: I said this stuff I makes you honest.

FRANK: I’m sorry. Because I like you, I really do –

JAY: Yeah, well, those things are said. Come on, let’s go before I do. something I’ll regret the rest of the night! Go get that horrible coat!

FRANK just stands laughing, loving every word JAY says.

Come on, come on, the pot thickens!

FRANK: (Stumbling off beaming) You are great!

JAY: (Alone, goes to door, presses buzzer and shouts into mouthpiece) Help!

FRANK: (Re-enters with coat, stumbling) Wow, I shouldn’t have moved, I’m dizzy. How long will this last?

JAY: (Mutters) Another ten years unless I do something quick!

FRANK: What?

JAY: (“Let us be gay!”) What? What? What? Don’t try to catch every little word. Just watch the movement they make, round and round and round to confuse you, but really down into the depths! (Swirls FRANK in a low tango dip)

FRANK: Can you really get me into the theatre?

JAY: Stick with me, kid, and I’ll have your name up in lights – even if I have to change it to Annette Funicello. (Or appropriate look-alike movie actress for boy)

FRANK: (Runs to mirror, laughing) Annette Funicello? Annette Funicello?

JAY: (Laughs, grabs his hand, leads him running around room) Come on, Alice, come on! You can’t get to Wonderland through the Looking-Glass! Come on, Alice, we’re late! Round and round and round and down the rabbit hole!

THEY spin in a little dance and then fall in a pile on the floor, FRANK on top of JAY, giggling like a fool. Anything might happen. JAY suddenly stops laughing, shoves FRANK away, stands, runs to opposite side of room.

My God. My dear God.

FRANK: Huh?

JAY: I wasn’t talking to you.

FRANK: (Staggers to his feet, dragging his coat) Come on, let’s go out.

JAY: Yeah, you with a whimper and me without a bang.

FRANK: Huh? Aren’t we going out?

JAY: That’s what they say – and I know why!

FRANK: Why, what?

JAY: Who? Which? When? Where? I did it.

FRANK: Did what?

JAY: You didn’t do it; I did it. I did it again just now.

FRANK: What?

JAY: Weren’t you going somewhere?

FRANK: Where?

JAY: I don’t know, where?

FRANK: Hey, what’s wrong?

JAY: Technically, nothing. It’s a superb reproduction.

FRANK: Of what? (FRANK is dizzy with confusion now)

JAY: Do I have to let you kill me this time? That’ll only mean your turn comes up again next time!

FRANK looks blankly at JAY, then fumbles over to the sofa and passes out. JAY shamefacedly picks up FRANK ‘s jacket and is about to cover the sleeping boy with it, when suddenly HE begins talking aloud, sometimes to the Ghost, sometimes to the sleeping FRANK, sometimes to the jacket, sometimes to himself.

The amazing thing is that anyone as smart as I supposedly am could have been stupid enough all this time to lay the blame on YOU! You, teasing and tantalizing me out of my peace of mind, without even offering a piece of – well, let that pass! (To FRANK) I don’t want your body, I’ve got one of my own! (Glances in mirror) Well, let that pass, too! (To Ghost, about FRANK, lecherously) I’ve got half a mind to – (To FRANK) But then you’ve got half a mind, too. (To jacket) You’ve got this body and I’ve got this mind and love will make us one. (To Ghost) One what? Very funny! (To FRANK) But what if it should have my body and your mind? Oh, shut up. (To himself) My trouble is I’m of two minds – (To jacket) – with but a single thought, yes, yes–. (Screams, throwing jacket across room) BUTT OUT! Butt out! I am trying to coordinate! (To FRANK) How dare you come in here and pull me apart just when I’m about to pull myself together? (To Ghost) I could be very happy together! (HE is by now talking to the air, focusing nowhere in particular) People CAN be happy together, you know! Yes they can! Yes they can! Didn’t you ever see the Late Late Show? Of course it depends on which one you catch. You watch the wrong movies and wow! (Becomes Bette Davis) I won’t let you go. (Paul Henreid) Try to be an adult, Madeleine; there’s nothing you can do to stop me. (Bette Davis) There is – one thing I can do. (Henreid) Madeleine – put down that tiny, pearl-handled revolver. (Davis) If I can’t have you, nobody can!

HE has been hopping from position to position to play this scene. Now HE shoots as Bette, then hops over to fall as Paul. “She” shoots “him” several times, bringing him lower each time – until JAY is hopping from side to side of tire room, shooting and screaming. HE finally screams as himself and gets under control.

(To GHOST) Well, people CAN be happy. We were, weren’t we? Gadding about the Village to keep away from un-neutral territory –”Your place or mine?” – or finally, when we’d seen every movie south of Fourteenth Street and none of them, not one of them, had helped, sitting here, with me talking for two. (Bright, brittle) Yes, some people contribute to the conversation; I pick up the check. Yes, someone SHOULD follow me around with a tape recorder–or a parrot! (To FRANK) And you, sitting there, smiling, basking in my neon nihilism, keeping up your little scrapbook of MY insulting epigrams. (To jacket, as HE shakes it) I started to let you hang around! (To no one in particular, wandering, dragging jacket) Let, hell, I knew what I was doing. I knew what it took to keep you around – (To FRANK) And I put out. (To no one) Turning everything you said into a joke, giving you a little help with your ideas. (Southern accent) “Here, Jay; here’s a little idea Ah had fo’ a poem. Finish it in twenty-five words or less.” (Screams) COLLABORATOR! And I did it! I gave myself to you. I did it, not you. I gave myself to you, and you didn’t give one damned – (Takes jacket in his arms like a baby) … You gave your life, of course. (Suddenly, like one accused, backing away from Ghost, from FRANK) But it wasn’t worth anything to you without me – (To FRANK) And that IS based on actual experience! (To Ghost) So you loved me? So? How was I supposed to know it! You never said it! What was I supposed to do, go on producing indefinitely for you to keep on confiscating? (To FRANK) You crummy little Red, I don’t WANT you here! (Spinning from Ghost to F RANK to jacket in his hands) You WANTED to give up your life, that’s what you were here for, that’s what you were DOING here, while I –

HE stops, as if HE had never before considered this question, begins idly to pull on FRANK’s jacket inside-out and backwards. It has a quilted silver lining. HE resembles Frankenstein’s monster.

What WAS I doing? What was it? Day after night, pouring myself into–(HE looks down, rips the jacket off, throws it away. To jacket) Well, WHATEVER I was doing – (To Ghost) – I used YOU to do it with–(To FRANK) – And I am NOT doing it anymore!

(Goes to desk, opens drawer, takes out gun, walks immediately to FRANK, holds gun to FRANK’s head) Get up.

FRANK comes a little bit awake, looks into gun barrel, frowns, arid goes back to sleep.

Get up.

JAY shoots him in the head. It is, of course, a water gun. JAY drinks from it. FRANK shows no response at all. JAY lays gun down, goes over and takes a sip from some cold
coffee – it is awful; HE gets an idea. HE takes the bottle of pills, opens them, shakes three of them into the coffee, stirs it with his finger, takes the boy’s bag and loads it with a heavy stone or bricks used as bookends, replaces it, backs away from sofa, looks up to Ghost.

I’m sorry. (HE walks directly over to couch, gives it a resounding kick, and screams) GET UP! (FRANK stirs; chattily) I wonder if I should paint this place or just stay high all the time? (FRANK subsides, JAY repeats kick) GET UP!

FRANK: (Half-awake) What time is it?

JAY: The curtain was lowered to denote a lapse of memory. (As FRANK again subsides, aggressively) How’dja like my PLAY?

FRANK: (Going to sleep) Great, great, great…

JAY: Great, great, grate on my nerves. (Leaps into the air and hops up and down on the sofa, shrieking) Get up! Get up! Get up up up up up!

FRANK: (Sits up) Hey!

JAY: (Sits innocently on back of sofa) Yes? What do you want?

FRANK: I don’t want anything.

JAY: Gosh, it took me twenty-seven years. (Pert) What do you want to do today?

FRANK: Sleep.

JAY: Okay, you’ve done that. Now have some coffee. (Offers it)

FRANK: I don’t want any coffee.

JAY: Yes, you do; you said so when you came in. It’s from last night. You’ll never taste anything like it – till it comes up.

FRANK: I just want to sleep.

JAY: (Mock concern) Fight it, did. Don’t get hooked on it. I know! Have some black coffee! (Holds FRANK’s nose, forces FRANK to drink) Do you want a blindfold? That’s right, drink it down like a little soldier.

FRANK: (Choking, sputtering) Okay, I drank it. Now I just want to sleep.

JAY: Not in about twenty minutes.

FRANK: Oh, my God. Why? Is somebody coming over?

JAY: (Terribly innocent) No, I put some Benzedrine spansules in your coffee.

FRANK: You WHAT?

JAY: (Speaking very clearly) I. Put. Benzedrine. Spansules. In. Your –

FRANK: My God!

JAY: No sugar.

FRANK: Benzedrine!

JAY: You looked so tired. I thought it would pep you up.

FRANK: That’s a drug!

JAY: Like penicillin.

FRANK: People are allergic to drugs. I could die.

JAY: Don’t be silly. There’s not more than one chance in three.

FRANK: Christ, I need a shower.

JAY: No, silly, I get a shower. YOU get a stag party.

FRANK:. Don’t you every STOP?

JAY: No, if you stop, you think. (FRANK shows signs of setting back to sleep, so JAY attacks, “high-queen”) Well, of course I stop! For a full moon, or a really good TV commercial, or a glass of coconut champagne in Times Square, or breakfast. What do you WANT for breakfast?

FRANK: I don’t want any breakfast.

JAY: I’ve got this groovy new cereal in the shape of a jigsaw puzzle –

FRANK: Hey, don’t; I can’t take it this early –

JAY: You put it together, see –

FRANK: Please stop, okay?

JAY: – and it’s an ad for the cereal. Sort of self-perpetuating, like the Village – “Each one teach one.” (FRANK reaches for a cigarette; JAY snatches the pack) Isn’t that terrible what they’re making them put on cigarette packages?” CAUTION: Smoking can damage your health.” Imagine if they made other products put on them what happens if you use too much, like – like – like Ajax, for instance. (Jimmy Durante voice) “Caution: use too much o’dis stuff, and yer hands’ll look like a turkey’s neck!” Or Doublemint. (Sings syrupy) “Chew double our gum and you’ll bug out your eyes / And probably double your collar size!” Or – or – Vaseline! (Marlene Dietrich) “Careful, dollings, you CAN get too much of a good thing” (Reaching his point) Or they might hang a big sign at the entrance to Greenwich Village: “Beware: entering area of free expression; stagger around here too long and you’re liable to get EXACTLY what you want!”

FRANK: (Numb) I really need that shower – what are you ON?

JAY: Drugs? In the morning? How dare you? But I will take a few if it’s necessary to make you feel better. (Pops a few pills) I guess that is how people get started – taking drugs to keep their junkie friends company. Oh, Frank, you really do need someone to take care of you. (Sudden succession of bright ideas) I need someone to take care of! I’ll take care of you. You’ll be taken care of by me! I’ll be the one who takes care of you. You’ll be the one care of whom I take! Oh, darling, you’ll see, it’ll be a lovely little life. All around the village they’ll say, “Here come Frank and Jay!” No, I don’t like that billing. Make it, “Here come Jay and Frank.” (Coyly) Possibly, “Frank, care of Jay!” (Katherine Hepburn) Other people’s lives, what are they? Debris, debris, piles of debris behind them. We’ll make our lives a string of perfect little disappearing days – starting with today. And I’ll take you under my protecting thumb! I’ll see that you get everything you want. What do you want, Frank? Tell me what you want and I’ll give it to you.

FRANK: (Harassed to hysteria) I want a shower!

JAY: (Leaps into his arms) Darling! I’ll give it to you!

FRANK: (Fights him off) Hey, come on, cut it out!

JAY: (Still doing “lost in a mist of romance”) Listen – a shower sounds good. Think I’ll go take one while there’s still some hot water. And when I come back, we’ll start our lovely new life with me reading you my novel! (Whisks out huge box of manuscript) You’ll love it! It’s based on the life of Lee Harvey Oswald. It’s very long, and very dull, but it perks up towards the end! Bye now – anything you need? (HE stands poised in the doorway)

FRANK: No! God! Yes! Can I use your phone?

JAY: (Taking it out of wastebasket) Of course, silly. I can’t use it in the shower, it’s dangerous! Bye. (Grimly) Oh, and TELL Jo Wanda I said she can pay me later. She’ll know what I mean. (Brightly) Ta-ta! See you real soon. (Starts off, returns) Oh, and Frank – if you WILL gobble that many pills at all hours of the day, you’ve got to watch out for hallucinations – seeing things? You can’t tell what’s real and what’s not. (Starts walking out, but slows down like a dragging record) Whaat’s reeal aand whaat’s noot. Whaaaaat’s reeeeeal aaaaand whaaaaat’s nooooot. (Starts to speed up, winds up sounding chipmunk) What’s real and what’s not What’s r’l ‘nd w’t’s n’t. Whtsrlndwhtsnt! (Skitters off, talking faster and faster till it is an electronic screech)

FRANK, alone, does what any boy would do in the situation; HE bangs his head with his fists and screams silently. Then HE takes the phone and with mounting fury unwinds the cord from around it. HE dials–it seems to take hours – and then has to endure what seems to be the loudest phone-ring in history. Someone answers.

FRANK: Hello? John? … Oh, it’s not John. What number have I… Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I mean, lo siento, Senora. Pardone mi, por favor.

HE hangs up, gets a little slip of paper with John’s phone number out of his pocket, drops it, has to scrabble among all the remnants of JAY’s poem to find it, finds it, reseats himself, wearily dials again, waits, in the meantime examining the palm of his hand for hallucinations. You would think HE had never seen the palm of a hand before. John answers.

Hello! Jo Wanda? I mean John? Sorry to wake you, but … You just got up? What time is it? … Seven o’clock? My God, that play of his must have lasted for … No, never mind, I’ll explain later, look, can I come o er there? … Frank … FRANK! … Yeah,
still at his place, what did you think? … What do you mean, Old Faithful didn’t blow last night? … Janice who?

We hear JAY offstage in the shower singing something like “Love Is Where You Find It,” and gargling.

Oh, THAT Janice … Jesus. Look, can I come over there? … No, he’s been swell … No, he hasn’t ignored me … (Irate) No, he hasn’t done THAT, either! I’ll be right over … I’d like to shower there … I don’t want to shower here … No, I told you he didn’t! … All right, all right. I’ll see you in a few minutes … Tell her what? … All right, please don’t explain, I’ll tell her – I mean HIM! … Okay. (Hangs up. HE now starts to get himself together, finding coat, dragging out bag, which is incredibly heavy, and putting it back, taking only his overnight bag. HE begins to hunt for his script, and in the process looks where Ed’s picture is hidden and pulls out Ed’s picture, which seems to him, of course, to be his own – the last straw) Hey! (This is a cry of involuntary terror as HE drops picture back into its hiding place)

JAY: (Off) Yes?

FRANK: Uh–I’m leaving! (Gets into coat, ties shoes)

JAY: (Off) Can’t hear you. Be right out!

FRANK: I said I’m leaving! And I don’t believe you about the hallucinations!

JAY: Just a minute! (HE enters, a-billow in an absurd, mind-blowing Mardi Gras outfit–fluorescent spangles and feathers, a flamingo fan, all topped off with a flowing Indian Chief’s headdress. HE gets between FRANK and the door) Now, what was that about hallucinations?

FRANK: Um

JAY: You’re not hallucinating, Frank; I really am wearing this two-piece bathing suit.

F RANK: Uh–I’m–going out.

JAY: Getting independent. That’s a good sign in these cases. Remember, you can ask a policeman ALMOST anything.

FRANK: (Shocked, drugged) Um, yeah, Look–I can’t handle my big bag right now. I’ll- I’ll come back for it.

JAY: Anytime. I work days.

FRANK: Um- -yeah, okay. (HE would love to get to the door) Oh, and Jo Wanda said to tell you she’s going to–send something back with me?

JAY: (Grim) I’ll bet she will. (Flirtatious, dredging key out of some deep pocket) Hey, look, I dug out my extra keys for you!

FRANK: (Accepting keys from as great a distance as possible) Oh. Well, thanks.

JAY: (Heavy wink) We’ll skip the usual deposit. (HE steps aside to let FRANK go, but feels a pang of guilt and stops him at the door) Uh–look–do you need any money?

FRANK: (Puzzled by the kindness) Oh. No. Thank you very much–

JAY: Look, have fun in New York–really.

FRANK: Thanks, I will–I’ll–hey, what are you–Oh, shit–I’ll see you–I guess

JAY blows him a kiss and FRANK leaves quickly. JAY is jubilant time moment the door closes.

JAY: Hooray! Ah’s delivered! No more ghosts! This happy hunting ground is hereby declared off limits! (Locks the door) Ah’s delivered! Ah’s delivered: (To mirror) How do I look delivered? Oooof! (Takes off headdress) No more deliveries, please! (Runs to window to watch FRANK walk away) Lumber, lumber, lumber! (Finds FRANK’s script in shutter) Oh, Lordy (Drops it like a hot potato) A dance in honor of my delivery! (Does a little Indian dance, suddenly stops) Oops! Better be careful. My magic is workin’ so well today I might make it rain! Not had for a first try. (Picks up coffee to toast himself) To the celebrated ghost chaser! (Drinks. It is the doped coffee) Oh. Dear! I wonder what’s the antidote to counteract Benzedrine? Oh, hell! Here’s to greater consciousness! (Drains cup) A benny for your thoughts! (Looks at messy room) Look at this mess! I almost let that kid fuck up my whole – (HE is picking up poems when HE notices a special one) Oh. I haven’t even thought of this one for – (HE becomes sentimental, goes to window to react poem by the morning sunlight) “The hateful morning sun / interrupts a nightmare / of my loved one.” (Smiles sadly, shakes his head) “Nightmare of my loved one.” (To Ghost) What I actually dreamed was that you were riding on a Ferris wheel with one of those battleship-class weightlifter boyfriends of yours, and I was having to turn the damned thing. (Ghost objects) Oh, all right, truck drivers. I can’t see that there’s any great – (Realizes HE is talking to Ghost again) Hey, what is this! I thought I just got rid of you for good! God damn it! You keep comin’ back like a song, don’tcha? (Shoots water-gun at Ghost as if Ghost was circling above him)

SCENE 3

The lights come up almost immediately. JAY, in black turtleneck and slacks, is preparing for FRANK’s return. HE brings out fresh coffee, not bothering to clear the debris from Scene 2, talks to Ghost while doing so.

JAY: I am not talking to you. No, it will do you no good to moan, I am not listening. I’ll talk to you later, when I talk to him. Of course he’s coming back. You ALL come back! (HE holds up FRANK’s script to silence Ghost’s arguments, seats himself, holding the script)

FRANK appears in the hallway. HE is dressed in new Village clothes and looks rather stunning. HE starts to knock, then takes out his keys and opens the door. JAY, the moment he hears the keys rattle, tucks the script under a sofa cushion and assumes a bright, Loretta Young air. FRANK hesitates a moment more to run a comb through his hair, puffs up his chest, and enters.

FRANK: Hello. (Goes at once to his bag)

JAY: Hello. Coffee?

FRANK: (Taking bricks out of his bag) No thanks. What’s in this batch, Mescaline?

JAY: Novocain.

FRANK: You sure drink an awful lot of coffee.

JAY: It keeps me wide awake. Sure you don’t want some first?

FRANK: First before what? (HE begins to look around for his script)

JAY: Before we start fighting.

FRANK: What do you mean, “fighting?”

JAY: Well, you’ve been over to Jo Wanda’s, and she gave you the real lowdown on me, and what a terrible phony I am, and you’ve come back here dressed to kill, so I naturally assumed it’s me you’re going to -

FRANK: (Interrupting) You know, you’re a real bore.

JAY: Okay, we can start anywhere. Why am I a bore?

FRANK: You know, you’re not worth talkin’ to.

JAY: So? I do all the talking.

FRANK: You know, you’re in love with yourself.

JAY: Jealous?

FRANK: The only thing I’m jealous about of you is your talent. I hate to see talent wasted.

JAY: When you could have used it?

FRANK: I told you, I’m a good writer.

JAY: (Runs to telephone) Sure, let’s call your English teacher to prove it; I’m sure he’ll accept the charges.

FRANK: (Grabs phone from JAY) What are you trying to do?

JAY: (Quick queen) How sweet. You noticed.

FRANK: You know, I feel sorry for you.

JAY: (Parodying the boy’s hand-whacking gesture, right in FRANK’s face) Honestly?

FRANK: You make me furious!

JAY: It works!

FRANK: What works?

JAY: Jiu-jitsu; using the other fellow’s weight against him.

FRANK: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

JAY: That’s all right. As you keep saying I keep saying, “I know.”

FRANK: You know, I don’t know which is worse; to know so little you can’t be taught, or to know so much you can’t learn any more!

JAY: Aha! You’re falling into my style, I notice.

FRANK: Well, it’s a good style; somebody ought to do something with it.

JAY: Like help the younger writers? Like get them in backstage? Like have them over to his house nights?

FRANK: Well, why not? It you won’t help yourself, why not?

JAY: Not “Why not,” baby, “Why?”

FRANK: Yeah, well, John told me that, too. Why you were so nice to me.

JAY: Well, come on, baby; bring in that surprise witness.

FRANK: (Brings Ghost’s photo out) I look like that guy that died!

JAY: True, baby, you do. You look so much alike that you could have looked at each other and combed your hair. And combed your hair. And–

FRANK: You weren’t even interested in me. All you wanted was my body.

JAY: And all you wanted was my mind.

FRANK: What if I did? What do you do with it but sit around here feeling sorry for yourself?

JAY: Instead of feeling sorry for whom?

FRANK: For that poor guy that killed himself – when you dropped him!

JAY: And others like him?

FRANK: I don’t think you’re capable of feeling anything for anybody!

JAY: Ho, boy! That’s what our theater needs, brutal realism! Depraved queers and simple country boys! (Takes FRANK’s script out, throws it at Inn) Come on, baby, read me THAT script!

FRANK: (Clutching the script) It’s your SCRIPT. You’re the one that always wants to turn everything into some kind of play. All I wanted was a little advice

JAY: A little ventriloquism!

FRANK: Listen, we’re both very bright. I thought we could pull it off together!

JAY: You mean watch each other masturbate?

FRANK: You’re just trying to pick a fight!

JAY: I’m the perfect host. You came back for a fight.

FRANK: I came back for my bag and my script. I didn’t want to see you again.

JAY: You’ve got a key. How come you came back when you knew I’d be here?

FRANK: (Caught. Pause) You always win.

JAY: Only because I know it’s a game.

FRANK: I don’t know that game.

JAY: Oh, you play it awfully well, baby. You come in here with a smile and a song and a little wet dream of a play, and look up to me like the ghost of your English teacher, and I’m supposed to take it from there and go into the shadow-play that haunts this house! Only
not this time. The position is filled. I’ve got a ghost of my own that fills all my needs.

FRANK: Ha! All except one. (HE slumps sexually)

JAY: Sorry. You can’t afford me!

FRANK: You’re disgusting.

JAY: All right, let’s evade it. It’s not the point, but let’s evade it.

FRANK: How can you stand being –

JAY: (Mimicking “Whack” gesture) But evade it honestly!

FRANK: I hate to see a guy –

JAY: Truthfully!

FRANK: I could help you –

JAY: Fearlessly!

FRANK: All right! All right! You could help me! Is that what you want to hear me say? That I need you? I need you!

JAY: (Stunned, confused) You never go ahead and say the next thing. (Shakes it off) But that’s all right. I don’t want to hear it anymore. Jesus, how can even THIS be worse than I thought?

FRANK: What next thing? What did you say?

JAY: I said, “I’m going out the window. Do you want anything?”

FRANK: Out the –

JAY: It’s the only thing open this late!

HE makes a sudden move as if to jump. FRANK leaps across the room, grabs him, throws him down to the floor, slams the window.

FRANK: You’re crazy!

JAY: And you want me to stay that way! You want me to do it all over again! Jay, the mad scientist! You want me to praise you and pour myself into you and write your plays for you. You want me to take my brain out and put it into your body and make a ghost out of you and a corpse out of myself!

FRANK: That’s insanity!

JAY: I call it death!

FRANK: Is this how you killed him?

JAY: He killed himself!

FRANK: Why?

JAY: From debt, baby, most suicides are from debt, and he owed me his soul!

FRANK: For what? Why? How come? What is this with you? What is this constant attitude that the world owes you something, that it’s done you so wrong? What has it done to you? What has it done you out of? How did it do you in? What did it do to you? What did I do to you? What did he do to you that he owed you his soul? (Pause. Same volume) Huh?

JAY: Huh? Because it was my soul, that I had pumped into him, all the soul he ever had! And he never gave it back, soul or body, nothing, nothing, nothing!

FRANK: Well, did you ever come right out and ask for it back?

JAY: Why should I? He never had to ask me!

FRANK: Well, great! Cool! Fabulous! lie didn’t ask you for anything. You didn’t ask him for anything. You didn’t even ask him if he wanted WHATEVER it was you gave him! Why should you expect anything back, body, soul, whatever?

JAY: Because–I didn’t want to make him into a monster. I didn’t want to make him into a thief. I didn’t want to make him into a ghoul. But I didn’t want him to make me into a grave-robber. I didn’t want him to make me into a zombie. I didn’t want him to make me into a comic-book devil, extracting souls from his helpless victims. I didn’t want us to be Dr. Frankenstein and Charlie McCarthy. I wanted us to be — beautiful. And instead, all I made of my quote mind and his quote body was just the usual ever-popular, show-stopping, handsome, toothsome, winsome and then some All-American hustler, Dead Ed. Baby, take a bow! (“Baby, take a bow!” directed to Ghost).

FRANK: Don’t call me “baby!”

JAY: Why not? You applied for the role!

FRANK: I didn’t apply for any “role.” (Indicates scattered papers) I just helped you get rid of him.

JAY: Sure, that’s what I created you for!

FRANK: It was YOU who wanted to audition me for some “role” or other – some kind of lover!

JAY: You want to be a paid substitute for a lover. What IS that word?

FRANK: You’re out of your head!

JAY: YOU’RE out of my head!

FRANK: You just turn everything I say around!

JAY: Why? What have you been saying around?

FRANK: You just turn around everything I say!

JAY: Well, everything you say turns around me!

FRANK: You reverse everything I say!

JAY: Ya notice it makes just as much sense that way?

FRANK: Look, you don’t want me!

JAY: You flatter me!

FRANK: You don’t!

JAY: I never said I did.

FRANK: You don’t want me and I don’t want you. It’s just some kind of crazy defense you throw up when you think you’re being encroached upon. You come on and then you run away, again and again!

JAY: (Simultaneously with FRANK’s speech above) You keep digging up your dull damned, dim body and throwing it into the conversation just when we’re about to get somewhere important. And I want you to STOP IT!

FRANK: You don’t really want me and you know you don’t. Hell, if I grabbed you, you’d run!

JAY: (Outraged) Try it!

FRANK hesitates for a moment and then grabs JAY in a clumsy embrace. JAY slaps him, hard.

(Waving his hand) Ouch! (To Ghost) Don’t you people ever SHAVE?

FRANK: (To Ghost, to JAY’s great surprise) And YOU keep out of this! (To JAY) You see? Neither of us wants this kind of relationship.

JAY: Not with you, we don’t!

FRANK: You won’t be serious!

JAY: All right, what do we want then? Tell us!

FRANK: I only wanted to be your friend!

JAY: My ghost!

FRANK: I didn’t even know about the guy!

JAY: (Crusher) Weren’t you counting on my devotion to SOME ghost of hopeless love?

FRANK: (Pause) Well, what if I was? What if you were to help me a little? What if I was to let you? Wouldn’t we both be getting what we want?

JAY: No! The ghost of it! The appearance of it! The feeling – just the imitation of the feeling. And we’d both have to give up our lives to get it. I’d tell you your dream, and you’d tell me mine, just so you could have the illusion of being respected, and I the illusion of being–

FRANK: I DO respect you!

JAY: – desired. Oh, God, suicide for that. And it is suicide, it is. You don’t have to go as far as Ed did. The moment you try to live someone else’s life for him, or let him live yours–it’s suicide. And that’s what we both wanted — to give up our lives to each other so we wouldn’t have to live them ourselves. Say it with me. Say it. If I have to say it, at least say it with me. Because it’s the honest truth for both of us: “I never wanted to buy you; I wanted to BE you.”

FRANK: (Long pause, shakes his head) I better go. Jesus.

JAY: You might as well. We can’t hurt each other anymore. Besides, we’ve got it all in our heads now – the last act, to play back at convenience. The un-original soundtrack.

FRANK: (At door) No. NO! What you’re saying, all this mad scientist stuff, that witch’s brew of mythology and psychology and Movie Mirror magazine in your head; I’ll never think like that. Not unless I go crazy, too. (HE has meant this as an insult, but it brings a sudden realization) But then, that’s true, isn’t it? If I ever do start to go crazy, that way – I’ll know it, won’t I? Because I’ll hear–your voice – in my head – saying all these things.

JAY: Like a ghost.

FRANK: No. Like a friend. Warning me. Thank you.

JAY: (Shocked, but guarded) So. You got a little piece of my mind after all. Well, I guess it’s customary to give you boys SOMETHING. Goodbye. Tell Jo Wanda I’m sending back her “dish.”

FRANK: Goodbye – (HE starts out, stops) Look-

JAY: Huh?

FRANK: You–gave me something that I needed very much.

JAY: Don’t rub it in. (HE starts picking up Ed’s papers, carefully)

FRANK: Look, you’re living in the past.

JAY: (Bitterly) Have you got a present for me?

FRANK: You’re so damned hard! I’d like to see you break, I really would!

JAY: You and who else?

FRANK: I could break you!

JAY: Could you now?

FRANK: Yes, I could!

JAY: (Quietly) Honestly, truthfully, fearlessly?

FRANK: Yes. (HE thinks for a second. Triumphantly) I love you. (HE smiles victoriously and exits)

JAY stands staring at the door, then looks slowly around the room. The Ghost is gone. JAY cannot find Ed anywhere. The phone rings. Not answering, JAY has the conversation HE knows he is going to have, in between phone rings.

JAY: Hello, Jo Wanda. (Ring) No, he’s not. (Ring) Yes, he was. (Ring) Yes, he has. (Ring) No, he won’t be. (Answers phone) Hello? … Oh, hello, Jo Wanda … No, he’s not … Yes, he was … Yes, he has … No, he won’t be … Mad? Why should I be mad? … Oh, that. Forget it … How DO I feel? … Oh, happy. Sleepy. Grumpy. Bashful. Sneezy. Dopey. And Doc!

HE slams the phone down, throws Ed’s papers into waste-basket, and exits, dusting off his hands.

CURTAIN

5 Responses to “THE HAUNTED HOST – play by Robert Patrick”

  1. RESUME/Links to Online Works « Robert Patrick's Personal Blog Says:

    [...] 23 ONLINE PLAYS    THE HAUNTED HOST (My first play, 1964. Two men, 30 and 20.): http://robertpatrickpersonal.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/the-haunted-host-play-by-robert-patrick/ Photos from 45 years of international productions here: [...]

  2. ROBERT PATRICK BIO by Wendell Stone « Quit Says:

    [...] [...]

  3. ONLINE VIDEOS, SCRIPTS, SCREENPLAYS, AND SLIDEHOWAS « Quit Says:

    [...] THE HAUNTED HOST (My first play, 1964. Two men, 30 and 20.): “http://caffecino.wordpress.com/1921/01/01/the-haunted-host//” target=”_blank” Photos from 45 years of international productions here: [...]

  4. steve mathers Says:

    I played Jay in a short tour of this wonderful play quite a few years ago now – loved every second of it – it is my one regret that the tour was so short, I would have loved to really get inside Jay for longer.

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