SEE the entire play “Nice Girl” on You Tube HERE.
A play in two acts
For Barb and Fran
“Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.”
W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939
1837 N. Alexandria Ave.
L.A. CA 90027
The action throughout takes place in Frank and Frankie Oglesby’s living room in Drinking Water, New Mexico in the summer of 1967.
The characters are:
Frank Oglesby, good ol’ boy and businessman, in his sixties
Frankie, his wife, beautiful, groomed, clever, and charming, thirty-one
Curta Fae, their neighbor, pretty but countrified and slovenly, thirty-three
Frank Junior, Frank’s son, bright, a joker, nineteen
Margie Lee, Frankie’s friend, metropolitan, stylish, brash, forties
Scott Mitchell , Frankie’s ex-fiancée, very handsome, thirty-two
(1967, summer, morning. The Oglesbys’ living room in a newly nice section of Drinking Water, New Mexico. The Oglesbys are proud to have attained the middle class. Everything in the room cost money, and looks it. There is a front door, a swinging door to the kitchen through which one passes to the backyard and driveway, and an arch to a hallway which leads to bedrooms. Conspicuous is a picture window, fully and heavily draped.)
(At RISE, it is dark except for spill through the drapes. FRANK OGLESBY (SENIOR) tiptoes through the arch, carrying golf clubs. HE is sixty-something, strong, rugged, young for his age. HE wears a slightly ridiculous golfing outfit. Carefully, HE places his golf bag against a sidebar and takes a set of car keys from the sidebar. HE takes a key-ring from his pocket and is taking keys from it when a VOICE cries out from the kitchen.)
FRANKIE(Offstage): Who is that in there?
(FRANKIE enters. SHE is thirty-one, pert, pretty, dressed in a tasteful housedress covered by an exaggerated pinafore apron with a Southwestern motif. SHE wears oven mitts.)
FRANKIE: Who is that tippy-toeing around my living-room? Is that our college boy? (SHE switches on a light.) Why, Frank!
SENIOR: Honey! I thought you was the Mexican.
FRANKIE: Well, I certainly hope you don’t call Maria, “Honey.” What are you doing up?
SENIOR: Aw, I was takin’ your Chevy wagon an leavin’ you and the boy the Caddy keys. He drove all the way from Portales last night. Drove good. Why are you up?
FRANKIE: I am fixing us a real family breakfast. And don’t you laugh at me, Frank Oglesby. I can!
SENIOR: What is that that you have on?
FRANKIE (Modeling): Mrs. Frank Frankie Oglesby of Sharon’s Exclusive Styles wears her own linen housedress under a traditional New Mexican summer pinafore. Anyway she’s telling the eastern cusromers they’re traditional. And what have you got on?
SENIOR: Well, since we’re stayin’ home while the boy’s here, George Montrose asked did I want to come try a few holes.
FRANKIE: Frank Oglesby, your doctor did not ask you to come walk around in the New Mexico sun.
SENIOR: Well, maybe I did ask him to ask me. I thought Frank Junior might enjoy me playin’ golf with a doctor at a country club.
FRANKIE: You’d have your own membership out there by now if it wasn’t for me.
SENIOR: Oh, no, honey. They don’t want farm boys.
FRANKIE: Hmph. Any of those country-clubbers call you “farm boy,” you just repossess their Chevrolets.
SENIOR: Cain’t. They make their wives drive the Chevies. They drive the Cadillacs. See how good your old clodhopper is to you?
(HE puts the Cadillac keys on the sideboard.)
FRANKIE: I know how good you are to me, Frank Oglesby. And you get back here in time for lunch and I will prove it.
SENIOR: Honey, not with the boy in the house.
FRANKIE: With lunch, you fool. I am makin’ breaded veal cutlets!
SENIOR: Oh, are ya? I like those.
FRANKIE: Well, then, get out, will you? Man of leisure. Some of us have veal cutlets to bread.
SENIOR: All right, honey. I will.
FRANKIE (Because HE lingers): What is it?
SENIOR: Nothin’, honey.
FRANKIE: The oven mitts?
SENIOR: We’re a real family, ain’t we, Frankie?
FRANKIE: What? Well, I would hope so….(Because HE stands gazing at her.) Frank?
SENIOR: God bless you, Frankie.
FRANKIE: God bless you, Frank. And God help you if you’re back late. I am makin’ three veal cutlets.
SENIOR: Bless you, Frankie. Bless you for savin’ a country boy.
(FRANK kisses her and exits through the kitchen. We HEAR A HOUSE DOOR SLAM and a CAR DOOR OPEN AND SLAM. FRANKIE goes to the window and peeks through the curtains to wave goodbye. We HEAR Frank’s CAR DEPARTING.)
FRANKIE: God bless you, my daring. And you have a real good time….at your country club.
(SHE stands uncertain what to do. SHE goes to the connecting arch:)
Junior? Frank Junior? Are you feelin’ like gettin’ up yet? I have apricot rolls.
(There is NO RESPONSE. Phone RINGS. SHE answers:)
Hello? … Oh, hello, Curta Fae!… No, it’s me, Frankie. … Oh, you did? No, that was my Frank. He took my car this mornin’. …Yes, ordinarily I would be, but Frank’s boy got in last night from college, and I’m spending all summer at home. Well, mornin’s. … Wait, no, don’t hang up. Would you like to come over for some coffee? Your Mike’s down at the showroom mornin’s for Frank, isn’t he? … And y’all’s boys are all at church camp, I believe Frank said Mike said … Well, then, see, come. You’ve never seen my house. And I have some apricot rolls making. Almond apricot…. Oh, no, don’t bother gussying up, just come right on over. And come right on in. Our door is always open.
(SHE hangs up, much cheerier.)
Now, won’t this be nice now!
(SHE exits to kitchen, removing gloves and pinafore.)
(CURTA FAE enters through front door, in housecoat and curlers, pretty, countryish, and awkward.)
CURTA (Calls): Hello? Frankie?
FRANKIE (Off in kitchen): Good morning, Curta Fae! Come on in and sit down. I’m fixing things in my kitchen.
CURTA: Would you rather I come in there? You know.
(FRANKIE re-enters in a fetching apron with TV tables, which SHE sets up busily.)
FRANKIE: No, we’ll have our coffee-klatch right here in the living-room!
CURTA: Oh, don’t mess it up. You always keep it so nice. I mean, I bet you do. You know.
FRANKIE: No, a living-room is for living. Frank got these little TV tables in at the showroom and I’ve been dying to use them.
CURTA: Yeah, I got some of them, too. I mean, Mike got me some. You know. Frankie, your curtains is just beautiful.
FRANKIE: They’re drapes. Thank you.
CURTA: I always admired them. From outside, I mean. You know.
FRANKIE: Frank got me those for our first anniversary. In Albuquerque?
CURTA: At the convention. I know. I mean, I figured. You know.
FRANKIE: Not that we don’t patronize local businesses, because you and Mike know that we certainly do. It’s just Frank’s way of showing how he feels. To bring me something from the big town?
CURTA: I know. I mean, Frank — Mister Oglesby really loves you a lot. I mean he must. You know.
FRANKIE: I have a good life. Frank thinks of me all the time.
CURTA: I know. You know. I think maybe a woman is smart to marry a older man. Because they’re more considerate. I bet. You know?
FRANKIE: Yes, I — have a good life. I’m getting our coffee now.
(FRANKIE exits to kitchen.)
CURTA (Calls): What did joo do with the old ones when he brought you the new ones from Albuquerque?
FRANKIE (Off): What, Curta?
CURTA: You know.
(FRANKIE re-enters with impressive coffee-service, including an electric warmer, which she sets on third TV table.)
FRANKIE: Oh, the old curtains? I gave those to Maria. The Spanish woman that comes in?
CURTA: I know.
FRANKIE: I give her clothes and things. I mean, they’re still good.
CURTA: Right. Because in your position you can’t wear things forever.
FRANKIE: Well, I do think it’s good advertisement for Sharon’s for me always to try to look in fashion. (Removes apron.)
CURTA: Oh, you always look nice when I watch you leave mornin’s. You know.
FRANKIE: Well, I want Frank to be proud of me. After all he’s done for me. Like Sharon’s.
CURTA: Well, you sure have made a success of it. I always see women goin’ in and out of there.
FRANKIE: Easterners from The Heights come in, and the Air Force wives. So I do feel good.
CURTA: Yeah, it always looks real busy when I pass it. You know. Oh, I always meant to ask you, how come did you call it Sharon’s and not Frankie’s?
FRANKIE: Oh, that?
CURTA: People wonder. You know.
FRANKIE: Yes, surely. Well, when I was a girl in college, I ..I had dreams of being a fashion designer, like girls do? And I just sort of made up a designer name for myself. “Sharon.” Because a lot of them use just one name? And when Frank bought me the shop, I didn’t like that old name on it, “Pennybriar’s.” It sounded too much like J.C. Penney’s. So, I changed it to “Sharon’s.” I hope people don’t think it sounds too pretentious.
CURTA: Well, you know. But! So! You had your girlhood dreams come true.
FRANKIE: Well, I guess. More than most. As close as anyone. Our apricot rolls are just about ready.
CURTA: Did Frank Senior get you this coffee-warmer? You know.
FRANKIE: Why, no, I ordered that. It’s very handy. Going to be.
CURTA: I just never seen it before. One like it, I mean. My! You know, I just love apricots. When I was a kid my paw had three rows of ’em behind the barn, and I’d just get up in the trees an’ eat apricots til I got sick. You know.
FRANKIE: I would have liked to have been raised on a farm. My grandparents wanted me after my father left us, but my mama wouldn’t even let me go visit. She just hated farms and farmers. Which was wrong of her, of course.
CURTA: Well, are they still alive? Your grandfolks?
FRANKIE: No, they’ve all died now. I have a half-aunt and a half-uncle in East Texas somewhere–twenty years younger than I am. You see, my grandmother died first and my grandfather remarried a — much younger woman.
CURTA: An’ you don’t have nobody here, do you?
FRANKIE: No, Mama passed away a little less than a year ago. And my father is in Yuma. He married again.
CURTA: A younger woman? You know.
FRANKIE: Well, no, I’d say she was in her fifties. Excuse me for just a minute.
(FRANKIE starts off for kitchen.)
CURTA: It must be real nice for Frank Junior havin’ such a young stepmother. You know. Y’all can be more like friends.
FRANKIE: Well, I hope to. There was this house, and starting the shop, and him off with his aunts and then at college – he’s eighteen now. ‘Course I’m thirty-one. I’ll get the rolls now?
(FRANKIE exits to kitchen.)
CURTA: That’s right, you was a year behind me in school.
FRANKIE (Off): Yes, yes, I was.
CURTA: That’s right.
(FRANKIE enters with rolls in dish. )
FRANKIE: There! It would have been two years, but they double-promoted me. Because of my grades?
CURTA: That’s why I never noticed you till high-school then.
FRANKIE: Yes, I was put up. They don’t do that much anymore, and I think that’s good.
CURTA: Because it’s lonely bein’ with people older than you?
FRANKIE: Yes. Well, at that age. . .Oh, but I have this real good girl now, Margie Lee from the Air Base? Well, not “girl,” she’s a colonel’s wife and she’s older than I am. She has real good business sense from her school in New York, so I’m going to be able to stay home some with my men, and take part in community things. Did I tell you? Oh, of course not, when would I have? I’m joining Altrusa. That’s a businesswomen’s social charities club!
CURTA: I know who they are. Mike’s Aunt Reet belongs.
FRANKIE: I know! We bought this house through her. Oh, she is a really nice woman. She was so clear about showing us the deed and everything.
CURTA: We don’t see her. You know.
FRANKIE: Oh. Yes. Of course.
CURTA: I was always surprised she moved you-all here, and not up to the
Heights or someplace. You know.
FRANKIE: With all those Easterners? Oh, no. I have no desire to live in The Heights. Parkside is the kind of part of Drinking Water I always dreamed of myself living in. Why, think, when we were girls this was just the old municipal golf course, and what use was it, because who played golf? And now it’s really the nicest new place in town to live. ‘Cause we’re starting to have an educated middle class.
CURTA: Well, Mike wanted us to live here even if he had to take another job with Frank. Mister Oglesby. You know. ‘
FRANKIE: Everything is so expensive, isn’t it? Wait until you have to send your boys through college!
CURTA: Is Frank Junior up?
FRANKIE: What? Oh, no, I was letting him sleep in. He and Frank Senior were up so late unloading his record-player and all that. But I could get him up if you want to say “Hello.”
CURTA: No, I just wondered if we was disturbin’ him. You know.
FRANKIE: Oh, you can’t wake a sleepy boy up that easy.
CURTA: I just wouldn’t want him to overhear anything. You know.
FRANKIE: Is there – something wrong, Curta?
CURTA: No, no. I just thought – you know. I thought I saw you drive away, an’ I …
FRANKIE: Oh. Yes. You wanted Frank Senior.
CURTA: Well, to talk to. It’s not important. You know.
FRANKIE: Why, Curta, what is it? Is it something about Frank Senior’s health?
CURTA: No, no, it’s not.
FRANKIE: I know he has all his insurance with Mike’s boss. That was before we got married and across from y’all, of course, or he would have bought it right through Mike.
CURTA: Oh, yes, sure, I know. You know. Well, then, all right. Here
goes. Frankie, wasn’t you against Frank Junior goin’ to your old school?
FRANKIE: Oh, well, yes, I admit, I thought he might like to go East, only because of the advantages, but his Father had already arranged…Is it about Frank Junior? Has he done something?
CURTA: No, no, I mean – you know – Do they still talk about you there?
FRANKIE: At E.N.M.U.? I graduated from E.N.M.U. – my! – twelve years ago. There can’t be even that many of my old teachers still alive teaching. I don’t know what you mean.
CURTA: Oh, I shouldn’t have said anything. You know.
FRANKIE: Well. ..okay. If it’s really not important. I mean, Frank will tell me, anyway. We don’t keep secrets. We believe marriage is based on trust. Do you want me to freshen up that coffee?
CURTA: Are you sure Frank Junior can’t hear?
FRANKIE: Let me check.
(FRANKIE exits to bedrooms, returns very quickly. )
No, he’s sound asleep, a pillow over his head. Are you – do you feel like tellin’ me now?
CURTA: All right, but you’re goin’ to laugh at me, but here’s what it is. You know Mike’s uncle’s stepbrother owns that new motel with the big sign? The Cactus Suites?
FRANKIE: Yes. I mean, I guess I didn’t know who owned it. It has that nice restaurant. Altrusa is — are — moving their meetings to it. Did something happen out there?
CURTA: Oh, no, but you know how people, they make reservations a long time in advance, you know?
FRANKIE: Well, I guess when someone is coming a long way they want to be sure of a place. Especially Easterners.
CURTA: That’s probably it! All right, Mike’s uncle’s stepbrother that owns it is from Carrizozo, and so he knows the people from there, from Carrizozo. You know?
FRANKIE: I was in Carrizozo exactly once in my life, when our college drama troupe went there with “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Did some-thing happen there?
CURTA: All right. Mike’s uncle’s stepbrother knows people there, so he told Mike’s uncle, that told us, that a cousin of his, a distant cousin, is comin’ to town and has made reservations come late next month at that motel. You know?
FRANKIE: Well, is it someone that Frank Senior knows?
CURTA: Oh, gosh, I feel like a idiot. Okay. You know rich old Mrs. Temple that died last year?
FRANKIE: Yes. I mean, I did. I hadn’t seen her for a long, long time.
CURTA: Oh, I know. And she left quite a considerable estate. Mike’s boss holds her papers. I mean, he has her will and all.
FRANKIE: Yes, Ted Matt is one of the nicest, kindest old men left alive in this town.
CURTA: And he’s a friend of Frank Senior’s, you know? Mister Oglesby?
FRANKIE: I just don’t think I’m getting your drift, Curta.
CURTA: So! Mike just happened to look at her will, Mrs. Temple’s, and! Who do you think is comin’ to town late next month to settle his share of Mrs. Temple’s estate?
FRANKIE: I don’t know, Curta.
CURTA: You know. You know?
FRANKIE: Oh. You would probably mean.. ..The only person you could mean is Scott Mitchell. Mrs. Temple was his great aunt.
FRANKIE: She always liked him. I see. Well. So Scott Mitchell has inherited The Heights. I thank you for having told me, Curta. It would have been quite a surprise if I had seen him on the street. That was very kind of you to come over and tell me.
CURTA: All right. I’m glad you’re not upset. You know.
FRANKIE: You’re really sweet to worry, Curta. I’m surprised you even remember that. That was thirteen years ago. I’m thirty-one now. Scott must be thirty-two or -three. We probably wouldn’t even recognize each other. But it was kind of you to come warn me. I thank you. I really do.
CURTA: You know. I just thought you would want to – you know – know. So you’re not upset.
FRANKIE (Stands.): No, not at all. Thank you. Come back anytime.
CURTA: All right. But I didn’t tell you all of it.
FRANKIE (Sits): I’m sorry, Curta Fae.
CURTA: Mike is upset. And this is what’s so upsettin’. I mean to Mike. Because of him wantin’ to do well and all? Like Frank Senior?
FRANKIE: Well, what else is there? Is Scott Mitchell going to move here? He’ll probably live outside town, even The Heights. It shouldn’t bother anybody.
CURTA: No, no, he wouldn’t dare. I shouldn’t think? Would you?
FRANKIE: No, probably he wouldn’t. I mean, why on earth would he?
CURTA: But that’s not the worst. Let me tell you.
FRANKIE: I do wish you would, Curta.
CURTA: Can Frank Junior hear?
FRANKIE: No, I told you – ! I mean, no, he can’t.
CURTA: And the Mexican ain’t listenin’?
FRANKIE: Not until noon.
CURTA: All right. Scott Mitchell is bringin’ someone with him.
FRANKIE: Well, I’m sure that’s his right.
CURTA: And it’s a man.
FRANKIE: …….Well, it would be, wouldn’t it?
CURTA: And – are them doors shut?
CURTA: Frankie, they’re stayin’ in the one room. You know.
FRANKIE: Curta –
CURTA: I swear. They made a reservation for one room!
FRANKIE: Curta. I just remembered. You weren’t going to tell me this. You were going to tell Frank Senior.
CURTA: Well –
FRANKIE: Why would you be going to tell him this? He never even met Scott Mitchell.
CURTA: Well, Mike thought Frank Senior should know. Mike’s really upset because of it bein’ almost family. You know.
FRANKIE: Oh, lord. I’m sure no one is going to doubt Mike’s manliness just because some distant relative is – weird.
CURTA: All right. It’s not just that, you know. I mean, Mike’s Aunt Reet is – well, you know. She never married. And the kids used to tease Mike about it. You know.
FRANKIE: Yes, I can imagine.
CURTA: I mean, her and that school principal, that old Miss String, they lived together for twenty-five years.
FRANKIE: I recall.
CURTA: And Miss String used to work in the yard in overalls and that short haircut. Oh, am I talkin too loud?
FRANKIE: No, but I ought to be getting Frank Junior up, anyway. Thank you for trying to be so helpful.
CURTA: Well, I just promised Mike I would. I mean, Frank has done so many favors for us. I mean for Mike. Mike would hate to lose everything because of somethin’ like this. So he thought maybe Frank Senior could talk to Ted Matt for him about it.
FRANKIE: Isn’t Mike being too afraid?
CURTA: Oh, Frankie. You of all people should know. You know. I mean, if people would just let somethin’ like this lay, it would be all right –
CURTA: – but you know how people are. They just get hold of somethin an’ won’t let it alone.
FRANKIE: Yes, Curta, I do know. Curta–
CURTA: I hope I haven’t made you mad.
FRANKIE: No. I was just going to say, “Please come over more often.” I was so glad when you called. When I was little, Mama used to have morning coffee with the neighbor women. She stopped it when my father left, and I always kind of missed it. It was part of being grown-up to me, to have a little morning coffee-klatch that moved from house to house? With the wives taking turns baking specialties for it? I’m going to be home some now, and – I’d really like to make friends…you know?
CURTA: Now, that’s really nice of you, Frankie, considerin’ what I’ve just done. You know.
FRANKIE: Curta, just one thing ?
CURTA: Why, what’s that, Frankie?
FRANKIE: Did Mike mention – I mean did he happen to notice – where Scott Mitchell would be coming from? I mean, like, where he’s been for all these years?
CURTA: No. You know, I don’t think he did. Well, I’d better be goin’ before your Mexican comes. And I get in y all’s way. You know.
(CURTA exits briskly through the front door. FRANKIE picks up dish of rolls
FRANKIE: Here, do you want to take some of these – ?
(Sees that CURTA is gone. Stands morosely for a moment, then, with determination, goes to archway and calls:)
Frank? Frank Junior? You get up now! I’m warming up some perfectly good apricot rolls!
(FRANKIE exits to kitchen.)
END OF ACT ONE SCENE ONE
(Later that morning. FRANKIE sits watching JUNIOR finish his breakfast. HE is a handsome, sensitive boy in blue cotton pajamas. From his room, we hear stately Sibelius MUSIC.)
FRANKIE: And of course we’re both so glad you’re not involved in those marches-
and protests–though of course we’re both against this awful war.
JUNIOR: I don’t do much of anything a person has to do in groups.
FRANKIE: I know we should have been up to see you more, but, well, with the shop booming and no real help ’til lately….When we drove you up there first of the school year, and I saw that the rooms were still clean and all like that, well, I guess I just neglected my stepmotherly duty. And it was all so big and new and different-looking, I just couldn’t…It’s unforgivable. Forgive me?
JUNIOR: Oh, sure. Why would anyone want to come to Portales, anyway?
FRANKIE: Yes, I know, but….Well, never mind. Do you like those rolls?
JUNIOR (As a form of “cool” approval, not dismissive): They’re okay!
FRANKIE: Yes, I thought you liked nice things like that. From that time we all three had dinner together at that hotel in Albuquerque.
JUNIOR: I do. I mean it. They’re really okay. Thank you.
FRANKIE: Do you know they tore that hotel down? And it was one of the original old Fred Harvey railroad hotels that helped civilize New Mexico.
JUNIOR: I didn’t know New Mexico was civilized.
FRANKIE: Well, yes, I guess I know what you mean. But it’s changing a lot.
JUNIOR: Drinking Water won’t ever change.
FRANKIE: Well, you wouldn’t know, being off in Tucumcari and Tularosa so much with your aunts, but Drinking Water is getting to be more of a real city now, and not so much just a “wide place in the road,” as my Mama would have said. And remember, Frank Junior, it’s your home. Our home is what we make it.
JUNIOR: It’s dull.
FRANKIE: Well, isn’t that the trouble with the whole Southwest? If you live in the dry parts, it’s dull, and if you live in the pretty parts, it’s full of tourists.
JUNIOR: I don’t know why people ever even settled here.
FRANKIE: Well, you like nice things…Frank Junior, how would you like to change schools next year and at least go to the U. in Albuquerque? There’s more to do in Albuquerque. I noticed pizza parlors and bowling alleys, and they have theatres and museums and bookstores.
JUNIOR: Could I?
FRANKIE: I bet you could. It doesn’t cost so awfully much more. And if your grades are good, it isn’t hard to transfer.
JUNIOR: I wouldn’t mind it.
FRANKIE: Now what’s this playing?
JUNIOR: That’s some more Sibelius.
FRANKIE: I like it. When your father’s not here, I sometimes take down my old college records and play them. I like Rachmaninoff and Paganini,
JUNIOR: Yeah, they’re okay!
FRANKIE: Great music like that is like having friends, intelligent friends.
FRANKIE: How are your grades?
JUNIOR: They’re okay! They’re grading on a curve, and at that school it’s not hard to be on the top of the curve.
FRANKIE: I’m not sure I approve of that.
JUNIOR: I’m not sure I do, either, but it gets me good grades and keeps me out of the – yuck – army.
FRANKIE: Every day I thank God they’re not taking boys from here for Vietnam. ‘Cause it was New Mexico they called out first for Korea.
JUNIOR: Can I really change to Albuquerque?
FRANKIE: I’ll talk to your father. You’ve survived a year of college. Looks like you can take care of yourself.
JUNIOR: I’ve been living off-campus for a whole semester, and I haven’t starved or gone around dirty, if that’s what you mean.
FRANKIE: That must be such fun, living off-campus.
JUNIOR: Well, it beats the zoo.
JUNIOR: The dormitory.
FRANKIE: Oh. But they don t let girls do that even now, do they? Live off-campus?
FRANKIE: I didn’t imagine. We couldn’t even be out after ten. You don t know what it’s like for a prom to have to be over by ten.
JUNIOR: Naw. Sounds awful.
FRANKIE: The only freedom we had at all was on music and theatre trips. And even then they corralled us. I don’t know what they thought we’d do. Well, I do, of course.
JUNIOR: They’re still like that.
FRANKIE: And I was working, too. My, I loved that old library with that beautiful motto across the front: “Cease not to learn until thou cease to live.” Of course it was the new library then.
JUNIOR: It’s the nursing school now.
FRANKIE: Is that where it went? How’s the new library?
JUNIOR: It’s okay. It has a motto across the front, too: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day – ”
JUNIOR and FRANKIE: ” – thou canst not then be false to any man.”
FRANKIE: Hamlet! Shakespeare!
JUNIOR: They have private listening booths for music if you apply far enough in advance…They put your picture up.
FRANKIE: My picture?
JUNIOR: From when you were best-dressed.
FRANKIE: Oh! They put that back up? My goodness! Of me and the two boys in cowboy hats? Sitting on the Thunderbird?
JUNIOR: Yeah, they’ve got a thing of State’s Greats in the new library. They’ve got you up beside some Spanish guy that got to be head of a farmworker’s union.
FRANKIE: Why would they put that back up? Probably someone heard I was a successful businesswoman now. That’s fifteen years!
JUNIOR: I was four.
FRANKIE: I was only a freshman.
JUNIOR: And best-dressed? You must have really been popular.
FRANKIE: Well, or I may have been best-dressed.
JUNIOR: I’m sorry.
FRANKIE: No, no, I’m sorry, yes, I was popular. I got Starball Princess that year, and President of Library Council. I was supposed to be Homecoming Queen my senior year, but – oh, that’s all long ago.
JUNIOR: How come you didn’t get Homecoming Queen?
FRANKIE: Oh, I guess my – popularity just flagged. That’s all silly stuff,
JUNIOR: Yeah, but you really were beautiful.
FRANKIE: Well, my Mama always taught me to look nice.
JUNIOR: She always looked nice, too.
FRANKIE: I wish she had had time to be a grandmother to you. But she had all she could do to manage that cafe. You never knew Mama when she was – at her best.
JUNIOR: She was okay.
FRANKIE: Old Mrs. Grace, our dorm mother, helped me, too. She was a kind old World War One widow. She taught me grooming. . .Do you have some favorite teachers, Frank Junior?
JUNIOR: My literature teacher was okay. But she killed herself.
FRANKIE: Killed herself?
JUNIOR: She was a Lesbian.
FRANKIE: Frank Junior!
JUNIOR: Well, she was. They said. I didn’t mean anything. I liked her. She looked like Gertrude Stein.
FRANKIE: I think I remember Gertrude Stein. Which teacher was that?
JUNIOR: Doctor North. I didn’t mean anything.
FRANKIE: Oh, my. I had Doctor North freshman year. Was she? Well, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t a good person.
JUNIOR: I don’t think she ever did anything. She lived alone. They said she was there for three days before anyone came in and found her. And she didn’t have any family at her funeral. They said. I didn’t go. I’m sorry I said that about her. It must be awful to die like that, all alone.
FRANKIE: It is. I saw my Mama die that way.
JUNIOR: Listen, don’t be upset. I’m sorry I was smart about Doctor North. I shouldn’t talk about stuff like that to you, gossip.
FRANKIE: No, that’s all right. Maybe you’re right. I think it’s good to be more open and frank about those things.
JUNIOR: What things?
FRANKIE: Oh, those things.
JUNIOR: I was just being wise. I don’t know what she was. Anyway, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.
FRANKIE: Well, that’s good if y’all are being more tolerant of people like that. I suppose. No, I’m sure.
JUNIOR: God, I didn’t mean to insult her.
FRANKIE: No, no, I shouldn’t make so much of it. I wouldn’t say anything
to your father, though. Not that he isn’t tolerant and understanding, because I of all people know that he is. But people his age just weren’t raised to understand those things.
JUNIOR: When I went off to college, he warned me not to do anything funny with the boys in the dorm.
FRANKIE: He did? Frank did? I bet he blushed.
JUNIOR: I blushed. And then he gave me twenty dollars. He always gives me twenty dollars.
FRANKIE: Well, he was poor as a child. He thinks material things are the proof of love.
JUNIOR: I wish he’d talk to me more about things like that.
FRANKIE: About – sex, you mean?
JUNIOR: No, about the Depression. When I was little, he’d go on and on, about how hard times he’d had as a child. I was too dumb to appreciate it then. And now when I try to get him to talk about himself, he doesn’t want to.
FRANKIE: Well, you need to draw him out. He’s so shy.
JUNIOR: Father is?
FRANKIE: Oh, yes. And he doesn’t think much of himself. Plus I suppose it’s always difficult between parents and children, a father and a son – two men. But believe me, it’s worth the effort. It is worth anything keep a parent’s love.
JUNIOR: He only wants to tell me to be careful with the girls.
FRANKIE: Well, that’s natural.
JUNIOR: Yeah, but he wants to tell me how to be careful.
JUNIOR: Do you know what he gave me?
FRANKIE: Well, I guess I can guess.
JUNIOR: I mean, nobody uses those things anymore besides the stomps.
JUNIOR: I think they buy them in gas stations, you know.
FRANKIE: Don’t say “you know.”
JUNIOR: All the girls are on the pill now.
FRANKIE: Well, that’s good. But you still want to be careful. It’s not just getting pregnant that ruins a girl’s reputation. It can be anything.
JUNIOR: I don t think girls have reputations now.
FRANKIE: Oh, yes they do. Or maybe they don’t. I don’t know if that would be a good thing or not.
JUNIOR: Everything is so confused.
FRANKIE: People can be awfully – unforgiving. It’s hard when you’re young. To realize how even the silliest little mistake can destroy the rest of your life. You want to be very careful choosing your friends. Who are your friends?
JUNIOR: I don’t have any really.
FRANKIE: It’s very difficult – because you can pick out the very best and nicest people and they can turn out to be – undesirable.
JUNIOR: I just – listen to music a lot. But when y’all brought me to school last Fall? All the guys in the dorm were talking about you after.
FRANKIE: About me and your father?
JUNIOR: No, just about you.
FRANKIE: What were they saying about me?
JUNIOR: They wouldn’t believe you were my mother.
FRANKIE: Why not?
JUNIOR: Because you look so young and so attractive.
FRANKIE: Well, that’s a real compliment. Then what did you say?
JUNIOR: I didn’t say anything.
FRANKIE: Well, what did they say when you showed them my picture?
JUNIOR: I didn’t tell anyone that it was you. But I heard some of ’em whistling at it.
FRANKIE: Really? They didn’t say anything rude, did they?
JUNIOR: They said there weren’t any girls like that around E.N.M.U. now.
FRANKIE: Well, that makes me feel real proud. I was always taught a woman should dress to bring out the best in men.
JUNIOR: They didn’t recognize you.
FRANKIE: Well, we all get older.
JUNIOR: You don’t look a lot older. But you just look different.
FRANKIE: Yes, no one from those days would recognize me now.
JUNIOR: What happens when you go to alumni meetings?
FRANKIE: Oh, I don’t go to those. Listen, you must have friends you want to see.
JUNIOR: Oh, no.
FRANKIE: What about that boy with the bicycle? The Patterson boy?
JUNIOR: Naw. I don’t want to see him.
FRANKIE: Junior – it’s not because we’ve moved up in the world, is it?
FRANKIE: People aren’t better just because they begin to have a little money, or any worse because they don’t.
JUNIOR: Naw, I know that. It’s – he’s queer.
FRANKIE: Oh, dear.
JUNIOR: Well, he is. He told me so.
JUNIOR: Last summer. He said he found out he was queer and he was telling everybody so they could make up their minds if they wanted to know him or not.
FRANKIE: Well, that was brave of him, but I wish he hadn’t done that.
JUNIOR: I told him I’d just as soon not.
FRANKIE: He was such a nice boy.
JUNIOR: Well, he was telling everybody. I bet everybody knows about him. I didn’t know what to do.
FRANKIE: Frank Junior, don’t ever be cruel to people like that. Do you hear me?
JUNIOR: Sure, I wouldn’t. But I can’t run around with him.
FRANKIE: But don t be cruel. Those boys? Boys like that? I’ve read -when they go off to the big cities they lead terrible lives, terrible -and they almost always have to go off – somewhere – unless they’re rich. With no friends and no family.
JUNIOR: Like Doctor North.
FRANKIE: Yes. And worse. I don’t want you ever to be cruel to unfortunate people like that.
JUNIOR: God, I wouldn’t.
FRANKIE: You’ve finished your rolls! (Calls.) Maria! Bring us some more rolls!
JUNIOR: No, thanks. I have to go get dressed now.
FRANKIE: All right. (Calls.) Maria! Never mind! (To Junior.) And then we’ll figure out what we’re going to do tonight, we three.
(JUNIOR starts away.)
JUNIOR (Stops): What?
FRANKIE: Frank Junior, if you ever have any personal problems and things at school, or here, things you maybe wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to your father, I want you to know that you can tell me. Really. I’m not so old yet that I can’t remember what it’s like to be young, and hurt, and alone – and with no mother to go to.
JUNIOR: Oh, sure, I would.
FRANKIE: No, really.
JUNIOR: No, I would. I just don’t have any problems.
FRANKIE: (Because HE lingers) Is there something?
JUNIOR: Naw. . . I got on the prayer list.
FRANKIE: You? On the prayer list?
JUNIOR: You know the prayer list?
FRANKIE: In the Baptist Student Union at E.N.M.U.? Do they still have that?
JUNIOR: Oh, sure. And the religion students put your name on it if they think that you’re headed for the pit?
FRANKIE: Oh, lord, the way people keep telling me that things are changing, and they still have the prayer list?
JUNIOR: They do. And I got on it for – and you won’t believe this! – for coming to a class dressed like an Indian. I mean not even that much like an Indian. I just had on a headband and that leather jacket with the fringe? Just for a goof? And went barefoot? It was just Humanities Class. I mean it wasn’t like I disrupted anything, it was dark, they were showing slides. But sure enough, I made the headed-for-Hell list. I guess they thought I was trying to stir up racial problems and oppose God’s holy right to make white men masters over red or something. And it wasn’t a single thing but a goof!
FRANKIE: Well, that was silly, of course. I mean their reaction was silly. But be careful. People want to be good. I still believe that.
JUNIOR: You sound like Anne Frank.
FRANKIE: Who is that? A girl?
JUNIOR: She’s a Jewish girl the Nazis killed. She said that, too: “In spite of everything, I believe that people are basically good.”
FRANKIE: Oh, of course, Ann Frank! But you do have to be careful of people. They have different ideas about what’s good.
(Sounds of CAR approaching and parking, CAR DOOR slamming.)
JUNIOR: Okay. I gotta go. There’s Father. And he said I shouldn’t run around in front of you undressed. That’s his idea of good.
FRANKIE: You scamp!
JUNIOR: Bye. (Stops in archway. Sincerely.) Breakfast was okay!
(JUNIOR exits. SENIOR enters from kitchen.)
SENIOR: I’m in!
FRANKIE: Hello, darling. I’m running really late. Lunch is almost ready and I haven’t even cleaned up breakfast.
(SHE cleans up breakfast dishes.)
SENIOR: Well, I’m early, too. We played through pretty fast and I didn’t want to stop for no drink an’ be late for your lunch.
FRANKIE: Well, that’s thoughtful, darling. Frank Junior will be out in a little while. He’s (Imitating JUNIOR) okay! (SHE exits with dishes.)
SENIOR: Good, good. I didn’t bring back my clubs. George said I might as well have a locker out there. You don’t think he drinks, do you?
FRANKIE (Re-enters): George?
SENIOR: No, Frank Junior.
FRANKIE: Well, E.N.M.U. is in a dry county still. I don’t think they drink much, except the stomps.
SENIOR: Yep, them farmboys drink. Get ugly drunk, fight. I stopped that. I could see where that led. Almost killed a man once, drinkin’ an fightin’, before I married Elsie an’ stopped. Oh, you could have come out for lunch as it turns out. They have a wives’ lunch today. Several of the non-members had their wives there.
FRANKIE: Oh, Frank, I’m so sorry.
SENIOR: No, I don’t mind. I just thought you would have liked it.
FRANKIE: Oh, I would have.
SENIOR: Well, I’m sorry I didn’t know about it. George said he felt real bad. He knows you would have set some store by it.
FRANKIE: George does? I think that’s really nice of him.
SENIOR: He thinks the world of you. He said you were a good businesswoman.
FRANKIE: Well, that makes me proud if I’m getting a good reputation.
SENIOR: He said he probably had thought you’d just be too busy. So I said he was right, because of Frank Junior bein’ home. That made him feel better.
FRANKIE: That’s just – real thoughtful of him. Do you want a little drink here? I’ll make it real weak.
SENIOR: No, thank you, honey. I don’t think the boy ought to see us drinkin’ in the home.
FRANKIE: Of course. Here, you sit down and I’ll make sure everything’s all right in the kitchen.
SENIOR: Ain’t the Mexican here? I thought I seen the Mexican.
FRANKIE: Yes, she is.
SENIOR: Let her serve it. I don’t like the boy to see you doin’ that kind of work.
FRANKIE: Well, all right.
(SHE calls into the kitchen.)
Maria – let the laundry wait. I’d like you to serve lunch.
SENIOR: Lawn needs mowin’.
FRANKIE: Good. I imagine Frank Junior can use something to do.
SENIOR: Naw, he’d rather be back there with his college friends. He never did get along with these Drinkin’ Water hicks.
FRANKIE: Well, it can’t have been easy for him.
SENIOR: Boy needs a mother. Goin’ from one place to the other, he never made no friends.
FRANKIE: Well, he has a mother now! And I’m sure he has friends at school. Next time he comes home, let’s have him invite some to stay with him.
SENIOR: That’d be hard on you.
FRANKIE: No, I’d enjoy it.
SENIOR: Well, tell him none of them better drink. Nor fight. An’ they have to watch their language in here.
FRANKIE: Certainly. Now how did your game go?
SENIOR: Shot par two holes. An’ that’s not countin’ my handicap.
FRANKIE: I never did understand that “handicap” thing.
SENIOR: Well, it’s like a league in baseball, sort of.
FRANKIE: I don’t understand that, either.
SENIOR: Well, it’s nothin’ to know…I think George wants to nominate us for membership into the country club.
FRANKIE: Oh, Frank, that’s wonderful.
SENIOR: I told him you’d probably be for it. It’s expensive, but I think I am goin’ to get that Chrysler dealership, and that should sort of move us up socially. Not like Chevrolets an lawn chairs an picnic coolers. I know you only married a ol’ farmboy, but I try to give you everything I can.
FRANKIE: Frank, you’re the most wonderful husband a woman could ever want. And you know it. You’re kind, and you’re generous, and you’re thoughtful, and you believed in me when I wanted to start the shop.
SENIOR: I don’t want you to worry about payin’ that back. You take that money an’ put it away for when I’m gone.
FRANKIE: I hope you’re never gone. I wouldn’t want to be alone in Drinking Water.
SENIOR: Well, I’ll die before you do. Frank Junior will be pretty well taken care of, and so will you. But you just put everything aside you can in case somethin’ goes wrong with the country.
FRANKIE: Don’t be sad, Frank.
SENIOR: I seen nice women like you scrubbin’ floors an’ beggin’ in barrooms. I seen ’em do worse, too. I seen Elsie get old and sick an’ lose babies because she had to work alongside me in the oilfields. I don’t want that to ever happen to you.
FRANKIE: Frank, do you think they’ll really let me in the country club?
SENIOR: Well, of course they will. Only reason you ain’t been in long before is you hitched your wagon with a dirt-farmer,
FRANKIE: You know that isn’t true, Frank. Everyone respects you.
SENIOR: Oh, yes, they’d of had you out there at them balls an’ swimmin’ pool barbecues a long ago if you wasn’t yoked up with a plowboy.
FRANKIE: Frank, it means a lot to you, doesn’t it? Getting into the country club?
SENIOR: I can’t lie to you, Frankie. It does mean somethin’ to me. Not because I want to go out there an’ wear them shorts an’ get drunk with a lot of people don’t have half the money they owe. But it did used to mean somethin’ to me to think of bein’ a part of the town life. I hate the country, so it’s funny I would want to be in a country club, but – yes, it would mean somethin to me to be out there with the mayor an them colonels, an’ see you dancin’. You look better’n any woman out there, anyway.
FRANKIE: Frank –
SENIOR: Lawn needs work.
FRANKIE: Well, like I said, Frank Junior –
SENIOR: I don’t want him havin’ to do lawn work. We can get someone.
FRANKIE: Well, Maria’s brother needs work. She told me so.
SENIOR: He ain’t a nigger, is he?
FRANKIE: Well, no. They’re Mexican.
SENIOR: Some of ’em got nigger half-brothers. Now don’t look like that. You know it ain’t prejudice on my part. I just don’t think the Parkside people would like nigger men on their lawns.
FRANKIE: Darling, we’re the Parkside people. But whatever you want, of course. Darling, I would like to talk about this country club thing.
SENIOR: What about it, honey?
FRANKIE: You know it’s because of me that it’s taken so long.
SENIOR: Honey, that ain’t –
FRANKIE: Oh, Frank, we need to clear this up. We really do.
SENIOR: Well, whatever you want, honey.
FRANKIE: Now, I never did anything wrong and you know it –
SENIOR: I know that, honey.
FRANKIE: You understand. But nevertheless, my reputation in this town was ruined, the same as if I had. It shouldn’t have been, and it was never right, but it’s true, all the same.
SENIOR: Honey, not with the boy in the house.
JUNIOR: (Entering, dressed) Not what with me in the house?
SENIOR: Not nothin’, son. Did you grow some more?
JUNIOR: I don’t know. I don’t think so, lately.
SENIOR: You got that twenty dollars I give you?
SENIOR: You use that to get you a good bicycle.
JUNIOR: I’d rather not have a bicycle, father.
SENIOR: Well, of course not, what am I thinkin’? You know what? I’m gonna let you drive your mother’s Cadillac while she’s not workin’.
FRANKIE: Oh, well, thank you very much, sir.
SENIOR: I tell you how good he drives, Frankie?
FRANKIE: You sure did.
JUNIOR: Father? I’m really glad to see you.
SENIOR: Your mother tell you I was out playin’ golf today?
JUNIOR: Yes, “mother” told me. That’s great. How did you do?
SENIOR: Shot two holes par. With a doctor.
JUNIOR: That’s great.
SENIOR: And they give me my own locker for my clubs.
JUNIOR: Well..that’s great.
SENIOR: Do you like to play golf?
JUNIOR: I did play once. They took us out in Phys Ed to the municipal course in Portales.
SENIOR: Yes? How did you do?
JUNIOR: I may make caddy.
SENIOR: Oh, I get it. Did you hear that, Frankie?
FRANKIE: That’s funny, Junior.
SENIOR: How’s the girlfriends, son?
JUNIOR: Oh, I’m still taking applications.
SENIOR: Frankie, what have we got here, a Bob Hope?
FRANKIE: He’s a wit. I’ll see what lunch is up to.
SENIOR: No, I done killed one wife with overwork, let the Mexican do it. Son, your mother says she’d like for you to bring some friends home next time you come.
FRANKIE: You must have some.
SENIOR: If there’s someone you want to bring that don’t fight nor drink.
JUNIOR: No, nobody, really. Besides, that’s kind of – corny.
SENIOR: It is? Did you hear that, Frankie? We’re corny. I guess we’re the older generation and don’t know it.
FRANKIE: I guess we are. Frank, I must see what lunch is up to.
SENIOR: Oh, go ahead. You’re the kind of woman cleans up the house so the maid don’t see it dirty.
FRANKIE: You men go wash up. Oh, I just love saying that!
(FRANKIE exits to kitchen.)
SENIOR: Did you ever hear that one before, son? About the woman that cleans up the house so the maid don’t see it dirty?
JUNIOR: Yessir. That’s a good one.
SENIOR: Well, let me tell you, you’ll go a long way before you find a woman to match your stepmother.
JUNIOR: I know, sir.
SENIOR: Do you remember your own mother at all, son?
JUNIOR: Only a little, Father. I told you.
SENIOR: I ain’t done too badly by you, have I, son?
JUNIOR: You’ve done okay, Father.
SENIOR: I wish your mother would of lived to see us in a house with a lawn. Of course, I wouldn’t trade Frankie for any woman in the world.
JUNIOR: She’s great, father.
SENIOR: But your mother was a fine woman, too, and worked alongside me to her death. You was born in a government shack, you know that?
SENIOR: I mean, it had doors and a floor by the time you come, but it was a shack nonetheless. By the time you come, we could of afforded better, but we was savin’ ever’ cent had from the service an’ your mother from the war plant to buy us a business.
JUNIOR: I know, sir.
SENIOR: An’ now she’s gone, an’ buried not far from there. An’ I think how she would have looked to see this house! But I’m borin’ you.
JUNIOR: No sir. I’d really like to hear more.
SENIOR: Naw, you want to be off seein’ your friends.
JUNIOR: No sir. I’d rather hear you talk about the Depression.
SENIOR: You don’t want to hear about no Depression, son. I only hope an’ pray you don’t never have to go through what I went through, nor any boy today has to suffer what I suffered.
JUNIOR: I know, but I’d still like to know. Maybe I could do a report on it for history.
SENIOR: History? You mean I’m history?
JUNIOR: Yessir. I mean we all are. When I’m an old man, I’ll be telling people’s kids about growing up in the postwar boom.
SENIOR: Yes, I guess you will. Did you know we might be gettin’ into the country club?
(FRANKIE enters, stands watching them from the kitchen door.)
JUNIOR: Gee, father, that would be great for you.
SENIOR: Great for you, son. I know you never made many friends bein’ farmed out to my sisters. But at that Country Club you’d mix with the best kids in Drinkin’ Water. Air base kids, an’ the kids of them psychoanalysts from The Heights. I don’t say their parents is all that desirable, a lot of ’em – but don’t let me turn you against ’em, you’d know better’n I would. But they got some pretty nice kids. Say, they all listen to church music. Wouldn’t you like that?
JUNIOR: I’d like that a lot, Dad. It’s okay!
SENIOR: I know it’s classical music, but to me it’ll always be church music.
JUNIOR: Right, that’s a good one, Dad.
SENIOR: I’ve always been grateful God give me a bright son instead of some dumb stomp.
JUNIOR: And I’ve always been glad I had you for a father, Dad.
SENIOR: You know, I kind of like it when you call me “Dad.”
FRANKIE: Frank Junior, go and wash your hands. I know you’re not hungry, but we’ll sit down and have lunch together anyway, the three of us before – Dad here – goes to work.
JUNIOR: Yes – Mom.
FRANKIE: Get out of here.
(JUNIOR exits through archway.)
SENIOR: Why, he’s a fine boy, Frankie. I think he really is, spite of being mine.
FRANKIE: Frank! Oh, Frank!
(SHE embraces HIM.)
SENIOR: Honey, maybe we shouldn’t do that with the boy in the house.
FRANKIE: Oh, you. Come on in for lunch.
SENIOR: What is it, Frankie? What’s the matter? Did that Maria do somethin’ wrong?
FRANKIE: No, nothing’s the matter, Frank. Oh, Frank Oglesby, I just love you so much!
(THEY exit to the kitchen.)
END OF ACT ONE SCENE TWO
(A few days later. Afternoon. MARGIE LEE is folding, closing, and stacking a pile of ledgers, checkbooks, tax-forms, sales-slips, etc. SHE is a lean, stylish woman older than Frankie, energetic and vigorous, with a dry humor. SHE calls to FRANKIE, who is offstage in the kitchen.)
MARGIE LEE: Okay, slave-driver! East Coast Air Force lady has given her all for Sharon’s. There’s the May trial balance and the June prognostications and the Spring quarter tax-figures and the mid-year pre-inventory and the expenses for the Altrusa fashion luncheon and I’ve got another hangnail. Do I hear the melodious clinking of ice in there?
(FRANKIE, dressed chicly as a woman is only when lunching with another woman, enters from kitchen with two iced teas.)
I sincerely hope that isn’t tea.
FRANKIE: You mean you’d like a drink?
MARGIE LEE: Not if you don’t. My God, you probably don’t.
FRANKIE: Well, I don’t usually. I mean, I seldom do. But – well – It’s vacation and Frank Junior is off swimming. I will!
(SHE sets glasses down on sideboard, opens bar, and makes drinks.)
MARGIE LEE: Quick, think of something to celebrate. It stunts the guilt.
FRANKIE: I’ll celebrate finding you, Margie Lee. I thought I’d never find the person I wanted in Drinking Water.
MARGIE LEE: Well, I never expected to find you, either, out here in the Great
Southwaste. I was on the tender verge of leaving Herbert, and returning to Barnard to study advanced batique. I really admire what you’re doing, Frankie.
FRANKIE: Oh, I’m just running a business.
MARGIE LEE: Native girl kid hinterlander lady? You deserve a Ladybird Johnson citation for beautifying Drinking Water. I’ve watched you nursing these chicken-pluckers out of their pinafores.
FRANKIE: Yes, well, and those I couldn’t, I sold more expensive pinafores.
MARGIE LEE: Good for you! And a few of the officer-wives have even allowed you to cover their freckled bazooms. You’re in danger of inaugurating good taste around here. Watch out, they’ll burn you.
FRANKIE: Do you know, I did my Sophomore Research Project on Joan of Arc? Somebody that would die just to be good by their own lights?
MARGIE LEE: Yeah? I did one on Lucrezia Borgia. But you’ll get no poisoned wells from me, Frankie. (SHE toasts FRANKIE.) Good job. Well done.
FRANKIE: That means so much coming from you. I have tried to make a quality shop out of Sharon’s. And it’s true they don’t all run off to Lubbock and Amarillo for their better dresses anymore.
MARGIE LEE: Lubbock and Amarillo: the Paris and Rome of the Southwest.
FRANKIE: No, that would be Dallas. The doctors’ and lawyers’ wives still go stock-up there.
MARGIE LEE: Honey, that lot of East Coast losers. Their idea of class is mink on mink. You’ll get ’em, though. Last dance at the country club? There were six dresses of yours, besides mine, and they stood out like fresh flowers. You – uh – should have been there. Ahem! You’re going to be drawing a lot of that trade.
FRANKIE: It’s a funny way to think of a town, isn’t it? As something to conquer?
MARGIE LEE: So said Napoleon coyly, twisting his forelock and digging his toe into the dirt.
FRANKIE: Look, do you have time to listen to a crazy idea? Or do you have to leave?
MARGIE LEE: No, I have an hour. Herbert is flying an – unfortunately -simulated bombing mission out over the cow country. What’s on your mind?
FRANKIE: Well, you know what I’ve been thinking of doing? Now that I’ve got you?
MARGIE LEE: I fear I can guess.
FRANKIE: Well, one of two things. Either wait til Wallace’s Drugs moves to the new shopping center and take over their building –
MARGIE LEE: I was right.
FRANKIE: – or –
MARGIE LEE: Or?
FRANKIE: – or right now take over that double storefront – where they closed the laundromat and newsstand?
MARGIE LEE: Across from Saint Mary’s Hospital?
FRANKIE: Yes, and open a bigger shop there. With a line of maternity dresses and layettes, maybe.
MARGIE LEE: But we sell an awful lot of dresses for being between the Medical Center where they get their prescriptions and the drugstore where they get them filled. Won’t you lose a lot of casual trade?
FRANKIE: I don’t mean to lose any trade at all.
MARGIE LEE: Oh, my lord. You mean two Sharon’s? Sharonses?
FRANKIE: Why not? The new one would be more convenient for the Air Force ladies.
MARGIE LEE: Not to mention the nuns.
FRANKIE: And you could manage it for me.
MARGIE LEE: Hold on. I’ve already got you drinking in the daytime, don’t go wild. I’d have to give this some serious thought. That’s – a little fast, Frankie.
FRANKIE: Well, I was always the fast type.
MARGIE LEE: You? I’ll bet not. If I ever met a dyed-in-the-gingham nice girl!
FRANKIE: I guess it still shows.
MARGIE LEE: Shows? Dear, I’m from Connecticut and Korea. Good women stand out sharply by contrast.
FRANKIE: Well, I take that as a compliment, which probably proves you’re right.
MARGIE LEE: You take the Betty Crocker cake.
FRANKIE: Thank you, ma’am….But not from the people in this town.
MARGIE LEE: Yes. Yes, I had – gathered that. Ahem! Tell me – why is that? Was there a youthful indiscretion? Or does Yankee lady push?
FRANKIE: No. No. That’s all right…Would you really be interested to hear?
MARGIE LEE: Frankie, to us decadent Easterners, you Peyton Placers are the last remaining pornography. I would be fascinated to hear.
FRANKIE: Well, it’s hard to explain. See, things started out pretty well for me. I was – well, this won’t sound a bit modest, but I have to tell you I was – well –
MARGIE LEE: The prettiest girl in school. I would have guessed that.
FRANKIE: Okay. Yes, I was. Anyway, I dressed well enough to make people think I was. And Mama made sure I always looked nice; she taught me manners she didn’t have herself. Daddy disappeared when I was little, and Mama went from being a waitress to managing the bus station cafe. It wasn’t too bad, anyway while she managed it.
MARGIE LEE: The – Indian Grill?
FRANKIE: The Indian Grill. They don’t take care of it now.
MARGIE LEE: But Mama did?
FRANKIE: Mama did. I had the very best she could afford. We lived in a two-room dump off of Deming Street, so I couldn’t have the nice kids home.
MARGIE LEE: “Nice” translating as “rich.”
FRANKIE: Rich. Right. But I got clothes every week. And my dates were few and far between.
MARGIE LEE: But choice.
FRANKIE: But choice. But you understand, I couldn’t marry into the Harrigan family, or hope to catch one of the De Wayne twins. It couldn’t happen to a girl from Deming Street. I dated them, okay. But Mama knew there was a limit to how far I could get.
MARGIE LEE: And how far did the DeWayne twins get?
FRANKIE: Hmm. Not far. Mama told me men didn’t respect a girl who didn’t respect herself.
MARGIE LEE: Mama was right.
FRANKIE: Mama was always right.
MARGIE LEE: That doesn’t always engender much love.
FRANKIE: I don’t know if I ever did love Mama. But I sure respected her. I was never out after nine-thirty in my life.
MARGIE LEE: Nine-thirty?
FRANKIE: Mama wanted me to have a spotless reputation when I went to –
MARGIE LEE: – COLLEGE!
FRANKIE: College. If you knew how she had to work to send me to E.N.M.U
MARGIE LEE: E.N.M.U.?
FRANKIE: Yes, Exactly like it sounds. But with a ten o’clock curfew. I felt like Scarlett O’Hara hitting Atlanta! I worked in the library and got straight A’s.
MARGIE LEE: In – ?-
FRANKIE: Home-Ec. I have a degree. Home-Ec major with a minor in –
MARGIE LEE: Music.
FRANKIE: Music. Did I tell you this? I didn’t tell you this.
MARGIE LEE: No, but I know what movies Mama liked.
FRANKIE: Greer Garson.
MARGIE LEE: Deborah Kerr and Doris Day.
FRANKIE: Hm-m. Doris Day was too fast for Mama. Living alone in that big city apartment?
MARGIE LEE: Mine was partial to Susan Hayward, obviously. Mama’s gone?
FRANKIE: Mama’s gone. A year ago. A lot longer than that, really.
MARGIE LEE: Mama had set you out to catch a husband at E.N.M.U.
FRANKIE: Um-hm. It’s nothing, except some rich ranchers’ sons go there. Some of them are going to have oil, that sort of thing. If nothing else, maybe a solid business major from Amarillo.
MARGIE LEE: And you were bright and beautiful and unsmutched.
FRANKIE: Well, yes. And I starred in a couple of musicals.
MARGIE LEE: “Brigadoon!”
FRANKIE: No, I was an alto. But I got the “coveted lead role of Nurse Nellie Forbush in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s acclaimed Broadway musical, ‘South Pacific.’”…Maggie Sink got “Brigadoon.”
MARGIE LEE: Maggie Sink?
FRANKIE: Sink. That’s the only reason I forgave her. Anyway, I stood out, which was what Mama intended. To the good folks of Drinking Water that would have constituted “Puttin’ on airs,” but a whole hundred miles away in Portales, I was allowed to shine.
MARGIE LEE: And when do we get to the male lead in this picture?
FRANKIE: You are sharp. Scott. Scott Mitchell.
MARGIE LEE: This is hurting you.
FRANKIE: No, not now. Then. He was the best singer on campus. He was in “Brigadoon,” and he did Lieutenant Cable in “South Pacific.”
MARGIE LEE: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear.”
FRANKIE: “You’ve got to be taught from year to year.”
FRANKIE & MARGIE LEE: “It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear.”
FRANKIE: Yes, that one.
MARGIE LEE: Not the coveted lead role of Nellie’s lover, Emile DeBecque?
FRANKIE: No, that was – Rich Richards. He sang, but mainly he played piano. He was a fine basso, though, big burly guy. Somebody said once they heard he went on to have some kind of singing career.
MARGIE LEE: Whereas Scott was …?
FRANKIE: Slim. And tall. And – dark blond hair and brown eyes –
MARGIE LEE: This is hurting you.
FRANKIE: I guess so. Not much. Anyway! I was chosen one of the twelve best-dressed college girls in America! By Glamour Magazine!
MARGIE LEE: Yankee lady impressed.
FRANKIE: They came down and posed me in front of the library (the only modern building on campus) on a Thunderbird – New Mexico, Thunderbird, get it? – with Scott and Rich in cowboy clothes, which they’d never either of them ever even been in in their lives before, and I was on television in Clovis, nearby.
MARGIE LEE: Big town.
FRANKIE: Population fifteen thousand!,.
MARGIE LEE: Megalopolis.
FRANKIE: Right. And – all sorts of silly stuff. And Scott had just won All-State swimming, and —
MARGIE LEE: And the two of you fell in love with yourselves.
FRANKIE: Hm? I guess so. Sort of. At first. We were together from then on. I never dated another boy in college.
MARGIE LEE: And the abortion came nine months after he pinned you.
FRANKIE: I didn’t have an abortion! (Smiles.) Maggie Sink did.
MARGIE LEE: By Scott?
FRANKIE: No, by Rich. She had to leave school sophomore year. She came back here. Still lives here. But travels a lot. Never married. Important family. Owns a lot of farms.
MARGIE LEE: Wait a New Mexican minute. Maggie Sink? Is she the hard brunette in the Wicked Queen collars I see driving young airmen around in the pink Corvette?
FRANKIE: That’s Maggie Sink.
MARGIE LEE: She didn’t marry – uh – Rich?
FRANKIE: Oh, no. Rich was poor. Besides, she was going to be an actress. Not marry. Still dominates our Little Theatre. Such as it is. Only because she pays for everything. Where was I?
MARGIE LEE: Getting pinned?
FRANKIE: Oh, sure.
MARGIE LEE: Never got – pinned down?
FRANKIE: No. Never. He tried a lot, the first year. I just wouldn’t. And we didn’t. Ever.
MARGIE LEE: Little nifties from the Fifties.
FRANKIE: I guess. I don’t know. It is a long time ago.
MARGIE LEE: Like twenty minutes. Lucrezia knows. Go on.
FRANKIE: After Maggie’s disgrace, he never pushed the point again.
MARGIE LEE: But you did?
FRANKIE: Yes. A couple of times. But then he wouldn’t. How did you know that?
MARGIE LEE: Dear, I was, believe it or not, once a nice girl… So what happened, Frankie?
FRANKIE: Summer after my junior year – they went on a band trip. I mean they took the school orchestra to various county and state competitions. Very big deal, a big honor. Scott played clarinet. I was at school, senior counseling and librarianizing and hostessing a special home-ec session for high school girls.
MARGIE LEE: You phoned him every night?
FRANKIE: Every night. I can still see myself curled up in that phone booth in the dorm lobby. They tore the dorm down, but I can still see myself, in shorts, cooing at Scott over the phone. There were no doors on the phone booths, but all the high school girls pretended not to hear.
MARGIE LEE: And by split screen we see Scott – how?
FRANKIE: Oh, I don’t know. In a towel, with his hair wet, and the other fellas teasing him?
MARGIE LEE: In a towel?
FRANKIE: Once – we – took out clothes off – just to let each other see. We were – out in the desert. There was a full moon. I didn’t really know what a man looked like, except from statues – that way.
MARGIE LEE: How was he?
FRANKIE: Beautiful. Nobody had ever told me how – beautiful a man can be.
MARGIE LEE: Sssshhhh. We’re not supposed to let them know. What did he think?
FRANKIE: Of me? Well, he got – you know – excited. He said I was -beautiful.
MARGIE LEE: What did you think?
FRANKIE: I wanted to die. I don t mean I was unhappy, or embarrassed. I mean –
MARGIE LEE: Darling, I know what you mean. And – ?
FRANKIE: And it was nine-thirty, and past. We got dressed in a hurry and raced back to the dorm.
MARGIE LEE: Whew! This was when?
FRANKIE: The night before he left me to go on the band trip.
MARGIE LEE: You should have carried him into that dorm over your shoulder.
FRANKIE: No. No, as it turned out, I shouldn’t have. One night I called him in Ruidoso for our nightly telephone conversation.
MARGIE LEE: Yes?
FRANKIE: And the music coach said there’d been an accident – and Scott wasn’t there.
MARGIE LEE: Oh, my God, Frankie
FRANKIE: Yes, I thought he was dead. Remember when you thought death was the worst thing that could happen? They had to put me to bed with a shot.
MARGIE LEE: Who had whisky?
FRANKIE: No, an injection. Dry county. I stayed in bed for three days. The high school girls thought I was pregnant. It took a week for anyone to tell me – actually, to get around to telling someone who told me – what had happened.
MARGIE LEE: Frankie, please.
FRANKIE: The music coach had gone around on bed-check at the Ruidoso Inn, and found Scott and Rich in one bed together, naked and – doing things.
MARGIE LEE: This was – when?
FRANKIE:, Thirteen years ago. Nineteen Fifty-Four.
(Pop MUSIC is heard, off.)
Frank Junior’s back.
(FRANKIE hops up to hide liquor. FRANK JUNIOR: appears in archway.)
JUNIOR: Hi, Mom. Hi, Mrs. Dunne.
FRANKIE: Hello, darling. Here, have some iced tea.
JUNIOR: Oh, thanks.
FRANKIE: Did you have a nice swim?
JUNIOR: Oh, yeah. Does this music bother you?
FRANKIE: No, darling. You can close the door. What music is that?
JUNIOR: The Mamas and the Papas.
FRANKIE: Well, you and your mama and your papa are going out for dinner.
(JUNIOR exits. MUSIC continues at lower volume.)
FRANKIE: Anyway! Rich had grabbed a razor and slashed himself up pretty badly, and they took him to a jail instead of a hospital, and he nearly died, and Scott hit a few cops and got beat up pretty badly and they were neither of them ever even allowed to come back onto the school grounds to get their things, and their fraternity actually chiseled their names off the lists of the prize-winning music-student members, and the Glamour photo of the three of us that was blown up five feet tall in the student union lounge disappeared and I was expected to leave school!
MARGIE LEE: God, I should think so!
FRANKIE: Why? I couldn’t figure it out. I wasn’t Maggie Sink. I hadn’t done anything. I had my first fight ever with Mama. She said I had to leave school, leave Drinking Water even, take up nursing or something an unmarried woman could earn her living at. I couldn’t believe it. It was like I had been caught with them. Do you know what I mean? I came home for a rest. And no one phoned. Girls walked away from me on the street. Boys I’d dated drove past. Boys I hadn’t yelled “whore” at me from cars. Mother got letters saying she should be ashamed. I mean, what had I done? What could I possibly have done? I mean -the man I loved turned out to be – not a man – and they all acted like I had done something with him! You don’t know what it was like, fighting my way back to school, No more roles in plays, as you can imagine. And being pointed at, and having backs turned on me, and making the student prayer list! People did come up to me and said, “I think you’re being very brave,” or “Shouldn’t you just stop making everybody suffer?” And even Mrs. Grace said that with a Home-Ec degree I could at least get a job as dietician in the school cafeteria.
MARGIE LEE Who’s Mrs. Grace?
FRANKIE: And hardly anybody applauded when I picked up my diploma. I mean, not even for Nellie Forbush! And then I came back here and got a job as a secretary in an appliance dealer’s – Hawk’s?
MARGIE LEE: Hawk’s. Right.
FRANKIE: None of the men even talked decently to me, except salesmen coming through, who very quickly heard and started treating me like a – Jezebel! The only person here who was halfway decent to me was Scott’s old aunt, great aunt, Mrs. Temple. We had used to come see her on weekends, Scott and me, before – before! And she had been an angel. She taught me things I’d need to know to be a rich rancher’s wife – or a Broadway musical comedy star’s wife.
MARGIE LEE: Right.
FRANKIE: But after it all happened, she called me just once, and said, “Obviously I can’t see you anymore, Frankie, but I will give you five thousand dollars to help you start somewhere else. ” I cried. I cried for two years. Mama kept finding ways of introducing me to older men, or men from out of town who came to the Grill. Of course, eventually they all heard. But it never made sense to me. Why, the things that went on right here in town, that everybody knew about! Maggie Sink and her flyboys, or that whole country club lot, or old Mister Hawks and his Mexican delivery boys in the back of the store – and he’d give them stereos! Of course, those are all successful businessmen, so nothing was ever said, openly. It never made sense to me!
MARGIE LEE: It never will, Frankie. You should leave this town.
FRANKIE: No! This is my home! I’ve fought to stay and be here and be part of this town. And I’m making it! Oh, God, do you realize you’re the first person I’ve ever been able to say any of this to? Oh, I told Frank, of course.
MARGIE LEE: You did?
FRANKIE: Of course, I couldn’t let him marry me not knowing what he was getting. You don’t know him. He gave me – forgiveness. I never knew what a gift forgiveness is.. He didn’t understand for a minute why they shamed me.
MARGIE LEE: I’m sure he didn’t.
FRANKIE: He’s worked and struggled to help me hold up my head, and it’s happening. We’re successful businesspeople, we have a fine good life together. And now he’s about to get something that he’s wanted all his life!
MARGIE LEE: You’re pregnant !
FRANKIE: No! You! How did you know that’s what he wants? No! But, God, I’d like to be. I’d give anything to be. No, they want Frank for the country club. And they’re ready to forgive me for his sake. And now – oh, goddamit to hell, the. son of a bitch!
MARGIE LEE: Frank? What did Frank do to you?
FRANKIE: No! Scott! Goddam his hide, Scott Mitchell is coming to Drinking Water, It’ll wreck my life, and Frank’s life, and – oh, sweet god – poor little Frank Junior’s life, and of all of us who haven’t done anything to deserve it, he hasn’t done anything at all.
(FRANK JUNIOR: enters.)
JUNIOR: Mom? Are you all right?
FRANKIE: Oh, yes, Junior, I’m fine. You want some more iced tea?
JUNIOR: No. Thank you. I thought I heard –
MARGIE LEE: We’re just getting sentimental in here listening to your lovely music.
JUNIOR: You like this music?
MARGIE LEE: Very much. Turn it up a little. But close your door, dear.
JUNIOR: Okay. I get it. I guess.
(JUNIOR exits. MUSIC continues.)
FRANKIE: Ah. So. I’m sorry, Margie Lee. I didn’t mean to – go on like that.
MARGIE LEE: Don’t apologize. I wouldn’t have missed it. But I don’t understand. How can Scott what’s-his-name coming here hurt you? Just don’t see him.
FRANKIE: You don’t understand this town. Just him being here will start it all again. That’s all it takes. Frank Senior won’t get near the country club. Little Frank will get harassed at his college. There’s no forgiveness here, no forgiveness in Drinking Water.
MARGIE LEE: Maybe there’s too damn much forgiveness. On your part. What do you care what any of these people think of you? You’re better than the lot of them!
FRANKIE: Oh, no, I’m not! When I was at my lowest, Maggie Sink called and wanted to take me out. She wanted to be friends with me. And I hung up on her like a NICE GIRL! So don’t fool yourself about Frankie Oglesby. I’m not a bit better than they are!
MARGIE LEE: My God, Napoleon with a Christian conscience. Okay, someday
you’ll forgive yourself – and I wouldn’t want to be Drinking Water when you do. You’ll move to The Heights and hit the depths !
FRANKIE: No, — not me! I have no desire to live in The Heights! I’m sticking here!
MARGIE LEE: Honey, like it or not, I have to go. Herbert and I are due at some dumb cocktail parody. Are you coming in tomorrow?
FRANKIE: Yes. Yes I am. Frank and Frank Junior are going out to the – country club – with George Montrose to a father-son barbecue swimming pool mixer, something. I won’t have a thing to do with myself. I’ll be in.
MARGIE LEE: I’ll see you at work, then. And listen, buck up. Don’t let any of this change you. If they don’t let you people into their damned country club, Colonel’s lady will personally see that Herbert bombs it.
(We hear a CAR driving up and parking.)
Oh, God, here’s your husband. Let me go get my broomstick out of his way.
FRANKIE: Margie Lee – ?
MARGIE LEE: Yes, honey?
FRANKIE: You won’t – say anything about this to anyone?
MARGIE LEE: Oh, Frankie, please don’t make that a promise.
FRANKIE: Please? I’ve never had a girlfriend to tell secrets to before.
MARGIE LEE: I won’t tell, Frankie. I won’t say a single word to anyone. Lord, that sounds true. ‘Bye. But listen, Frankie: where I come from, in that batch of Barnard bitches, you are still a nice girl. You don’t need Drinking Water’s forgiveness.
(MARGIE LEE: exits through kitchen.)
FRANKIE: No. No I don’t. No, I don’t believe I do anymore.
JUNIOR: Mom? Are you all right? I never saw you cry before.
FRANKIE: And you never will again. It’s nothing, Junior. Really.
JUNIOR: You and Dad aren’t fighting, are you?
FRANKIE: Oh, no, never. Nothing like that at all. Don’t ever think that. Your father is the nicest thing that ever happened to me. And you’re the next.
JUNIOR: But – ?
FRANKIE: But what, angel?
JUNIOR: Well, okay. You said to tell you things.
FRANKIE: Are you in trouble, angel?
JUNIOR: No, not at all, I’m okay! I just – look, I know Dad is sixty, but – okay – isn’t he in pretty good health?
FRANKIE: Well, yes, if he’s careful, thank God.
JUNIOR: Well, then, all right, so okay – why do you two sleep in separate rooms?
FRANKIE: Why, darling, your father and I often keep different hours, and, healthy or not, a man that age has certain set habits —
JUNIOR: You know what I mean, don’t you?
FRANKIE: Well, yes, I guess I do. Let me think how to put it to you. Very often your father visits my room.
JUNIOR: But you’re always coming out of your own bedrooms in the morning.
FRANKIE: Well, only now that you’re here, Junior. I mean, you know how your father is. He doesn’t feel we should – visit each other -that way – while you’re in the house.
JUNIOR: But that’s terrible. Do you know how that makes me feel?
FRANKIE: Well, no, I guess we hadn’t thought about it.
JUNIOR: Well, would you, please? It makes me feel like a real intruder. Please, for my sake, just carry on as the mood moves you, okay? I mean, when I see you crying in the afternoons and you’re sleeping in separate bedrooms, it really makes me feel –
JUNIOR: You know it!
(We hear a CAR starting and driving away.)
FRANKIE: Well, all right, then. All right. God bless you, Junior. You don’t know how good that makes me feel. We are a family, aren’t we?
JUNIOR: God knows I try.
(THEY embrace, laughing. SENIOR enters from kitchen. HE carries a box containing a new suit.)
SENIOR: I’m in. What are you two huggin’ and laughin’ about?
JUNIOR: Hi, Dad.
FRANKIE: Hello, Frank.
SENIOR: I chatted with that Margie Lee Dunne of yours. Lord, I hope you ain’t never goin’ to look skinny like that.
FRANKIE: I wish! (To JUNIOR) Your father always has to say something to show me he’s not interested in other women. Remember, Frank Junior, if a girl tells you she’s got no interest in another man, that’s your rival right there.
FRANKIE: I’m teasing you, darling. Want some iced tea?
SENIOR No thank you, honey. You look real happy.
FRANKIE: Oh, darling, I mean to be.
(FRANKIE and JUNIOR: exchange a complicitous look and giggle.)
SENIOR: That Margie Lee says everything’s all right with your business.
FRANKIE: Oh, it is, it is, darling. She’s wonderful. Everything is wonderful.
SENIOR: I been lookin forward to the three of us goin’ out tonight. I even stopped down to Holloway’s an’ bought me a new suit.
FRANKIE: Holloway’s! Frank, how swank!
SENIOR: “Frank, swank,” listen, son, now she’s makin’ jokes.
JUNIOR: Great suit, Dad! And I’ll wear my new sweater with the pattern of Cupid’s bows! And hearts!
(FRANKIE: breaks up giggling)
FRANKIE: Oh, hesh up!
SENIOR: What are you two laughin’ at so much? What are you up to?
(FRANKIE forces herself to be serious.)
FRANKIE: Not a thing, Frank. Not a thing. We’re just looking forward to going out tonight.
JUNIOR: (A la Groucho Marx.) And to coming back home, too.
FRANKIE: Oh, shut up, you!
(FRANKIE and JUNIOR laugh again. SHE pelts him. HE runs off to his bedroom. FRANKIE exits to kitchen with glasses.)
SENIOR (Shouts jovially.): Whole family is full of comedians. Don’t even know what’s goin’ on in my own house!
(HE starts to take his new suit off to his bedroom. CURTA sticks her head
in the front door.)
CURTA: Frank. Frank, honey, when can I see you?
SENIOR: Curta, my God, not now. Get out of here. My God, I’ll call you.
CURTA: I miss you, honey.
SENIOR: Soon. Soon. Get out.
CURTA: You know.
SENIOR: My God, Go, honey!
FRANKIE (Off in kitchen): What, darling?
SENIOR (Exiting to bedroom with suit.): I said, “Whole family full of comedians!”
(From Junior’s room, recorded MUSIC: Herman’s Hermits’ “There’s a kind of a hush all over the world tonight. All over the world you can hear the sounds of lovers in love.”)
END OF ACT ONE SCENE THREE
END OF ACT ONE
(Two months later. CURTA and FRANK SENIOR are on stage. SHE has dressed up in her most fetching outfit. HE is in shirtsleeves, and is obviously un-comfortable.)
SENIOR: Well, I’m a pretty lucky man, Curta. I have a good business, and employees I can trust. I have the finest woman any man ever had for a wife, a woman raised in a town, with all the advantages, that ain’t got none of the dishonesty and suspicion most town people got. I have a son that don’t fight or drink and get girls pregnant. I’ve got good health for a man that’s been through war and worked hard all his life. An’ of course I’ve been lucky enough to find another woman that’s understandin’ an’ wouldn’t never make no unreasonable demands on a man.
CURTA: Oh, Frank, it does me good to hear that, you know. I’m pretty lucky, too, what with all you’ve done for Mike.
SENIOR: Well, Mike’s boss owed me some favors. And Mike is doin’ fine now that I’m throwin’ him my car insurance policies, ain’t he?
CURTA: Oh, sure, all he needed was just some help in the right places an’ you gave him that. An’ I hope I’ve showed our appreciation.
SENIOR: You surely have, Curta, you’re a fine woman.
CURTA: So how come you’ve been so scarce lately? You know, with my kids
at camp I don’t have a lot to do an I miss our mornin’s, you know?
SENIOR: You surely know how to flatter a old man. But, well, I expect you understand how these things can kind of go in cycles. We been real close this summer.
CURTA: Close? I ain’t been with you in two months, with Frankie home mornin’s.
SENIOR: No, Curta. I mean me an’ Frankie.
CURTA: Oh. Yes?
SENIOR: Yes, our marriage has taken on, as you might say, a new lease. I never knew a good woman could be so – understandin’ in that respect.
CURTA: Oh, well, I’m happy for you, Frank. Yes, sure, Mike an I sometimes act like a couple of newlyweds ourselves. Except we didn’t when we was newlyweds, you know?
SENIOR: Well, I imagine movin’ up in the company is makin’ him feel a lot better about himself.
CURTA: Is that how men work? Can’t face their wives, you know, if things ain’t right at work?
SENIOR: You’re country, Curta, didn’t you ever watch how the roosters an bulls would fight for first place? How proud the winners was? An how put-down the losers got?
CURTA: I guess I did. I do remember watchin’ how the hens had a peckin’ order.
SENIOR: So you see, I have to sort of ask you not to hang around this afternoon. Frankie an’ Frank Junior went out to run around an’ they might be back at any minute. We didn’t mess up Frankie’s nice livin’ room none, did we?
CURTA: No, Frank, I know better. I wisht I could keep a house like this.
SENIOR: I think we’re all stayin’ in here an’ playin’ Monopoly tonight.
SENIOR: Yes, Frank Junior says it’s real popular at his school, so I bought us a set. Them ol’ things do keep comin’ back, don’t they?
CURTA: Monopoly? I thought that was for children. You know.
SENIOR: Well, Frank Junior bein here has us all feelin’ like kids.
CURTA: Yes, he is so cute.
SENIOR: Have you been botherin’ him?
CURTA: Well, I see him runnin in an’ out, you know, when I watchin’ for you.
SENIOR: Don’t choo pester him. Boy like that.
CURTA: Well, he is so cute in those shorts. You know. Has he got a girlfriend here?
SENIOR: No, I don’t think any gal has put the noose on him yet.
CURTA: Well, how old is he? You know. Nineteen?
SENIOR: Seventeen. Or eighteen. I can’t remember. He looked like a man out at that swimmin’ pool. Them waitresses was puckerin’ at him. I hope he don’t’ fool around with tramps
CURTA: Well, I bet when you was that age you wasn’t without women friends. You know. You old bull.
SENIOR: Well, I may have left a little Frank Junior or two I don’t know about scattered around the prairies.
CCURTA: Any you do know about? You know.
SENIOR: Well, let’s not talk too much. Just say I have all my obligations taken care of.
CURTA: You old rooster. You know. But I’m glad things is good with you an’ Frankie, Frank. She really is one of the best women.
SENIOR: Frankie, Frank, and Frank Junior. We sound like – I don’t know what. Some television show or somethin’.
CURTA: No, you’re just a happy family with an understandin’ man at the head of it. An you know, that reminds me what I’m supposed to tell you. What Mike said, you know, I had to tell you.
SENIOR: What’s that, Curta Fae?
CURTA: Well, you know, I’m just doin’ what I was told to do.
SENIOR: I understand. Is anything wrong at the company? I hold a lot of insurance down there.
CURTA: Oh, never fear. You know. But you know they have old Mrs. Temple’s will.
SENIOR: Betty Temple. Betty Carstairs that was. I used to dream about that girl when I was fifteen.
CURTA: You old bull. But you know, Mike’s boss knows what her will is because of her havin’ all this insurance an beneficiaries an’ all, you know.
SENIOR: Yes, yes. I suppose he would.
CURTA: An do you know who is her chief beneficiary of property?
SENIOR: No. No, I don’t. Her children died of the polio. Is it the church?
CURTA: Oh, no, although she was, you know, real generous with the church. She left some money to help the Spanish people an’ the niggers with a hospital. Which by the way is very dear to Frankie’s heart, did you know that?
SENIOR: She’s got a heart for everyone. When did you talk with her?
CURTA: Oh, a couple of months ago, Frank, just once. She asked me in. You know, one mornin’. Don’t worry, I didn’t let on to anything but maybe one remark about her drapes she didn’t catch. But, anyway, Old Mrs. Temple’s major land-beneficiary of absolutely all of her real estate here is a nephew of hers named Scott Mitchell. From Carrizozo. You know.
SENIOR: Scott Mitchell? Does that sound familiar to me?
CURTA: Well, he was – I mean this is a hundred years ago – but he was a friend of Frankie’s at college. You know.
SENIOR: Oh, yes. I hadn’t known about his relationship to Betty Carstairs. Well, that’s natural. She had no one left of her own.
CURTA: An’ Mike says that Scott Mitchell is returnin’ to town, real soon now, to deal with the estate. You know.
SENIOR: Well, it should be considerable. If it includes that parking lot caddy-corner from my lot, I might even be interested to…Oh. He was that boy.
CURTA: You know.
SENIOR: Are you tryin to turn me against Frankie or anything, Curta?
CURTA: No. You know. No.
SENIOR: Well, I’m sure that somethin’ that happened many years ago in school is not goin’ to upset a woman as sensible as Frankie. We’d better just keep this from her.
CURTA: Oh. All right. You know. I mentioned it to her some time ago.
SENIOR: Well, that just shows how little it means to her or she would have mentioned it to me. We hold no secrets from each other….What was her reaction?
CURTA: Nothin’ much. I thought that was odd, you know.
SENIOR: No, I’m sure that’s how she feels. I wonder if anybody in this town is low enough to want to hurt an outstandin’ woman of the community like Frankie by draggin’ up some old story that was no fault of hers anyway?
CURTA: Oh, no!
SENIOR: Probably they are.
CURTA: Well, you know.
SENIOR: I understand this young man an’ another young man had some sort of awful fight that resulted in them both bein expelled from school, an’ people blamed Frankie for it. Why, a girl as pretty as Frankie must always have had men fightin’ over her. So what?
CURTA: Oh, yeah, well, you know, that isn’t exactly, you know, what happened, but – as you say, it’s all a long time ago under the bridge since then, an ‘ –
SENIOR: Well, wait now. Wait. What was it exactly that did happen?
CURTA: Oh, you see, this young man an’ his friend, it turned out they was both – you know –
SENIOR: Both what, Curta?
CURTA: Homo – you know – sexual.
SENIOR: You mean they turned queers?
CURTA: Oh, you know, that’s what happened. An’ Mike is real worried, because he’s related, an’ you know, his Aunt Reet, they say she’s – you know.
SENIOR: I used to think that town people would be wiser an more understandin’ than country people. It turns out the town is just built by coverin’ up the dirt. Reet Wilson is a part of the spine of this town, God help us when she goes, an’ anything that ever went on between her and Miss String was, I should think, their own private tragedy, because I never knew either of them to do anybody any harm. The older people of the town, the kind that run a town, are not goin to think less of Mike because of anything like this, Curta. By the time you’re our age you know life an’ you know that women will do strange things when they can’t attract men…an’ besides, lots of men do things like that when they’re in the service or in the oil fields.
CURTA: All right, I know that, Frank, an’ you know that, but that ain’t how Mike feels or how people feel. Those things hang onto people.
SENIOR: Well, I knew about Reet an I knew about this Scott an I even forgot it, that’s how important it is, an’ I still buy insurance from Mike’s company, an it seems likely to me a lot of other people do, too, since they’re takin’ another floor of the Armstead Buildin’, so what harm is any of it doin’?
CURTA: Oh, it’s Mike’s feelin’s.
SENIOR: Well, why doesn’t Mike’s boss tell this Scott Mitchell not to come?
CURTA: Oh, Mike’s afraid to mention it to him, you know, because he isn’t all that established in the place, you know, even with your help, you know, so I guess he thought maybe you might suggest that very thing to his boss. You know? An’ if it’s a good idea to him, maybe even tell him Mike thought of it?
SENIOR: Oh. I see. Well, it wouldn’t take more’n a phone call to do all that I can do. Will that make you happy?
CURTA: Only you can make me happy, Frank. You know.
(HE permits a slight embrace.)
SENIOR: Okay. Now go on home, Curta.
(CURTA: breaks away suddenly.)
CURTA: Oh! I think that Mexican saw us!
SENIOR: She won’t say nothin’. She wants a job for her brother. But you get on home.
CURTA: You gonna let me watch you make the call? I love the way you, you know, handle people.
(SENIOR takes phone and dials)
SENIOR: Hello. Let me talk to Ted Matt. Who is this? Dilcey? This is Frank Oglesby. Put me through to Ted, honey…Hello, Ted? Frank Oglesby here….Can’t complain – – Or they might lock me up.
…..Listen, Ted, I want to ask you somethin an’ you tell me if it’s a good idea or if it’s a bad’un….Well, you know this Scott –
(Looks to CURTA for name, SHE mouths it.)
– Mitchell that’s comin’ down here to take a look at his property from Betty Carstairs’ will?….Ha! No, I can’t take that “Temple” stuff seriously, and I have reason, I believe, to think that you never did, either?
….Well, I won’t tell if you won’t. No, but listen, Ted, I wanted to ask you if you think it’s a good idea for this, this –
(HE looks to CURTA for the word. SHE supplies it silently.)
-nephew to come down……Oooooh, it seems they was a scandal involvin’ him an — some local woman in some kind of real bad light, an it seems some people think it can only be humiliatin’ for him to come down here an’ show himself…..No, I wouldn’t think that you would know…..No, nothin’ personal to me, nothin’ to me. I just wanted to put a bee in your bonnet, nothin’ to me….Yes, Ted….Thank you……I see. Well, naught to be done from naught. I do thank you…..Yes, see you at the Country Club.
(HE hangs up)
Ted Matt always was too high-minded to listen to gossip. I think he gets it all when he reads the wills. He says this — ?
CURTA: Scott Mitchell.
SENIOR: He says he’s already on his way. Be here tomorrow.
CURTA: Oh. All right. You tried. You know. And I’ll tell Mike, and I’ll tell him you don’t think that it would make any difference. I don’t know what else on earth he could ask for me to do. How can I ever thank you, you know?
(We hear a CAR DRIVING IN AND PARKING.)
SENIOR: You can go home, Curta. And don’t say nothin about this to Frankie. Nice women like her just wasn’t brought up to understand that kind of thing.
CURTA: Oh, don’t worry, Frank. I wouldn’t tell her nothin’. You know.
(FRANKIE and FRANK JUNIOR enter through kitchen, laughing. THEY are dressed for their miniature golf game in matching Bermuda short outfits, and slightly silly sunglasses. JUNIOR carries a bag of groceries.)
FRANKIE: You tell him, ya hear? If you don’t tell him I will!
JUNIOR: Oh, don’t!
FRANKIE: Hello, darling! Why, Curta, hello!
CURTA: Hello, Frankie. Hello, Frank Junior. My, you got so big.
JUNIOR: Hello, Mrs. Burtman.
FRANKIE: Curta, how pretty you look!
SENIOR: Curta was just over to –
CURTA: I just come over to ask your Paw somethin’.
FRANKIE: It’s so nice to see you again, Curta. Would you like to stay for dinner with us?
SENIOR: Curta was just goin’.
CURTA: No, no thanks, Frankie.
JUNIOR: We’re all goin out and see a show after
SENIOR: Oh, are we? I guess I forgot.
CURTA: That’s okay. I’ll just trundle along. You know. Thank you for helpin’ Mike, Mister Oglesby. You know. Well, ‘bye all.
(CURTA exits through front door.)
SENIOR: She wanted me to do another favor for that Mike of hers.
FRANKIE: Junior being here is attracting all the women in the neighborhood.
SENIOR: I can’t stand them country women.
FRANKIE: Frank Junior, tell your “Paw” what the man said at the gas station.
JUNIOR: I won’t, and torture can’t make me.
SENIOR: What? What have you heard?
FRANKIE: Go on. Your Paw loves a good laugh.
JUNIOR: Oh, I was driving, and they were giving away Southwest Historical Landmark pickle dishes, and I didn’t take it, and the attendant pointed at her and asked if I didn’t want one for my WIFE.
FRANKIE: (When SENIOR doesn’t laugh) Of course, I was wearing these sunglasses. (Takes pickle-dish from grocery bag) Isn’t that tacky? Oh, I could have given it to Curta. Oh, that’s tacky of me to say.
JUNIOR: She’d take it. With relish. (HE and FRANKIE laugh. SENIOR stares blankly.)
FRANKIE: Silly. Frank Junior, go get washed up.
JUNIOR: Looks like as comedians we’re both washed up, Maw.
FRANKIE: You fool, get out of here and repent your sins.
JUNIOR: Yes, Maw.
(JUNIOR puts groceries down and exits to his bedroom.)
FRANKIE: That was mean of me to say that. It’s nice Curta came by. Did you see how she dressed to impress me?
(SHE puts pickle dish down by the telephone.)
SENIOR: Are you friendly with her?
FRANKIE: She came by for coffee once. I may be starting to get chummy with the wives.
SENIOR: Well, you want to be careful who you make friends with.
FRANKIE: I could see her being here disturbed you.
SENIOR: Why, what do you mean?
FRANKIE: Darling, don’t you think a wife can tell?
SENIOR: Tell what? What did you mean?
FRANKIE: Did she put it on you about a boy named Scott Mitchell coming back?
SENIOR: Why, yes, she did mention it.
FRANKIE: I thought so. Well, I just want you to know that it doesn’t upset me in the least. Curta means well, but she doesn’t understand how long ago that was. She told me she wanted to warn you. I think she thought I still had some schoolgirl crush on him, but she was wrong. I mean, you know that it’s impossible. You know I don’t want any man but you. You know that. Well, I guess I showed you lately.
(FRANKIE embraces SENIOR.)
SENIOR: Hush, honey, the boy.
FRANKIE: Well. Frank Junior’s not a boy anymore. I think he understands.
JUNIOR: (enters.) I understand what?
FRANKIE: You don’t understand anything.
(SHE kisses SENIOR and grabs groceries.)
I have to give these to Maria. Maria!
(SHE exits to kitchen.)
SENIOR: Well, son, did you and your Mom have a good time?
JUNIOR: Oh, yeah. We played miniature golf, you know.
SENIOR: Don’t say “you know.” How’d you do?
JUNIOR: She won. But it was a miniature triumph at best.
SENIOR: You jokester! So, did you see any friends of yours?
JUNIOR: No. Yeah, some. I don’t know many Drinking Water kids.
SENIOR: Well, I hope you’re makin’ some good friends at college.
JUNIOR: Yeah, some. Dad – Mom said I might could go to the U in Albuquerque next year.
SENIOR: Well, she hadn’t said anything to me about that. Would you like that?
JUNIOR: Oh, sure, I mean, there’s more to do, and Mom says she’d come see me. But it would cost more money.
SENIOR: Oh, I imagine we can handle that.
JUNIOR: Look, I’m not a kid anymore. I know you’re buying the Chrysler dealership, and Mom’s expanding her business. I know that takes a lot of outlay and credit and stuff.
SENIOR: Why, son, you talk like a real little businessman. You’re growin’ up, right behind my back. Why, them women was about to eat you up out there at the country club.
JUNIOR: Yes, sir. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.
SENIOR: Women? Not with your mother in the house, son.
JUNIOR: No, sir; the country club.
SENIOR: Are you seein’ one of them waitresses?
JUNIOR: No, sir. I wanted to say – I wouldn’t mind staying at E.N.M.U. if you and Mom need money to join the country club.
SENIOR: Well, what put that in your head?
JUNIOR: Mom talks about it all the time.
SENIOR: She does, does she?
JUNIOR: Yes, sir. I think it means a lot to her. I don’t know why. I think it’s dumb. But I get the feeling she really wants it. So I want you to know that I do appreciate all y’all have done for me, even if you don’t think so. And I’d rather y’all would have that than just me go to the U.
SENIOR: Son, that’s very touchin’. That’s very fine of you.
JUNIOR: Well, just so you know.
SENIOR: I don’t set any great store by the country club, but I know that she does. Well, we’ll just do that. And we’ll probably swing your move to the U, too. So don’t you worry. We’re a happy family, aren’t we?
JUNIOR: Oh, yes, sir. We’re okay!
(FRANKIE enters from kitchen.)
FRANKIE: Frank Senior, I imagine you want to change into your new suit so we can leave for the show right after dinner. That nice new Drama teacher at the high school is presenting The Trojan Women.
SENIOR: Is that a good play, Frank Junior?
JUNIOR: It’s great. It’s anti-war.
SENIOR: Well, I’m for that. I don’t want you to have to grow up to go to war, son. I don’t want to see another war.
JUNIOR: Well, we’ve kind of got one now in Viet Nam.
SENIOR: Well, I don’t want you to go. War is the worst thing of all.
JUNIOR: Maybe you could tell me some of your war stories. Dad. I’d really like that.
SENIOR: Frankie, we are a happy family, aren’t we?
FRANKIE: Well, I am. I don’t know about y’all. And I’ll be a lot happier if you’ll go get that suit on.
SENIOR: Lord, get ‘er to stay home an she starts takin over the place.
(FRANK SENIOR exits to his bedroom.)
FRANKIE: Frank Junior, I think it is wonderful the way you’re making an effort to get along with your father.
JUNIOR: It’s no effort. I want to.
FRANKIE: You really appreciate a family, don’t you?
JUNIOR: Well, it’s all a person’s got. And I think it’s all I’m ever going to have.
FRANKIE: Yes, whatever else happens, we’ll always have that.
JUNIOR: Dad really wants to join the country club, doesn’t he?
FRANKIE: Oh, yes, that would mean so much to him. I don’t set any store by it, but it’s an old dream of his ‘
JUNIOR: People can be so confusing.
FRANKIE: Yes. Yes, they can. But they come around eventually. We’re starting to make friends. And they want us at the country club. And even if we don’t get that, well, I mean, there’s a very nice thing that’s going to happen to us.
JUNIOR: What’s that?
FRANKIE: Well… I’m going to tell you, to practice up for telling your father. Sit down, Frank Junior.
Now! How would you like to have a little brother for your birthday next April?
FRANKIE: Or sister? Make your choice now.
JUNIOR: You’re kidding.
FRANKIE: No, I’m not.
JUNIOR: You’re kidding me.
FRANKIE: No, I don’t think so. I’m not quite sure yet, but I believe.
JUNIOR: Oh, wow! When are you going to tell Dad?
FRANKIE: I’m going to wait a couple of weeks to be absolutely sure. But I’m almost sure right now.
JUNIOR: Wow! Can it happen that fast?
FRANKIE: Frank Junior! Yes, yes, it can. And that’s enough of that. I’m not so modern as I thought I was. Now how do you feel?
JUNIOR: Like Cupid! That’s incredibly great!
FRANKIE: You’re not going to be jealous?
JUNIOR: No! I hate milk!
FRANKIE: Oh, you.
JUNIOR: And if it turns out to be a spastic, I can use it for a football!
FRANKIE: Is that “sick humor?”
JUNIOR: Pretty sick. I don’t even play football.
FRANKIE: Wait, what was it we used to say when I was in school? We’ll use it for a doorstop?
JUNIOR: Ugh, gross!
FRANKIE: Well, look who’s talking about gross!
JUNIOR: Have you been to a doctor?
FRANKIE: No, I haven’t picked one out yet. You know Drinking Water. I want the doctor that’ll spread it all over town the fastest!
JUNIOR: You know, I think you are a genius.
FRANKIE: Well, my motto is “Cease not to learn until thou cease to live!” I’m learning. It took me a long time to adjust to Drinking Water, but I’m learning!
(FRANKIE and FRANK JUNIOR embrace, laughing. FRANK SENIOR enters in his new suit.)
SENIOR: Hey, what is this? What’s all this huggin’ and kissin’?
JUNIOR: Hey, Dad! You know what I want for my birthday?
SENIOR: It ain’t your birthday? Is it?
JUNIOR: (To FRANKIE) I’ve decided. (To SENIOR) I want a girl.
FRANKIE: Oh, do you?
JUNIOR: Yes: just like the girl that married dear old Dad!
FRANKIE: Oh, you monster! Go get into long pants!
(FRANK JUNIOR laughs off to his bedroom)
That boy! He’s got your devilment.
SENIOR: Ain’t he a little old to be huggin’ and kissin’ you like that?
FRANKIE: It’s the other way around. He’s got me carrying on like a silly schoolgirl. Frank, you’re so handsome!
SENIOR: Do I look young enough in this to take out Frank Junior’s girl?
FRANKIE: You look good enough to take any girl right away from him!
SENIOR: You know, honey, I think the boy wants us to get into the country club.
FRANKIE: Yes, I know he does.
SENIOR: I hope it ain’t because of them women out there. They’re plain tramps. You know, Frankie, there’s men can’t stay away from bad women.
FRANKIE: Are you afraid “like father like son?”
SENIOR: What do you mean sayin’ that?
FRANKIE: Are you afraid he’ll hitch up with some scandalous baggage like me?
FRANKIE: Darling , let me ask you just one thing.
SENIOR: Oh, Lord, Frankie, what?
FRANKIE: Frank, we have so much: our home, and each other, and Frank Junior, and—and so very much more. So very much more now, and so much yet to come…
SENIOR: Bless you, Frankie.
FRANKIE: If we should lose — one thing—like the country club–would it. matter so much?
SENIOR: When I see that love in your eyes, nothin’ else matters.
FRANKIE: There are people in this world–lost, lonely people — who don’t have — who can never have—what we have: people who are forced to lead–terrible, lonely lives. Let’s us be grateful, whatever comes to us, good or bad.
SENIOR: When I hear that forgiveness in your voice, Frankie, I don’t need nothin’ else.
FRANKIE: Forgiveness? What would anyone have to forgive you for?
SENIOR: There’s no man can’t use the forgiveness of a good woman, Frankie. A man ain’t much. Women make him whatever he is. I only met two good women in my life, and they both married me, and ever’thing else I’m ashamed of. A woman like Elsie, a woman like you, what she sees in a man is all that matters. There’s nothin’ he can’t overcome or repent if a good woman can look through his faults an’ find it in her heart to forgive him.
(HE pulls away from her.)
I’m goin’ in to sit down for dinner now. You comin’?
FRANKIE: Frank, I’ve never seen you cry before. Have I made you cry?
SENIOR: Well, I let you when you want to. Maybe you’ll let me have my turn now.
FRANKIE: Of course, my darling.
SENIOR: You’re my only earthly blessin’, Frankie.
(HE exits to kitchen.)
FRANKIE: Forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness,
(SHE goes to phone, looks at a number on a match-book from her pocket, dials.)
Hello. Cactus Suites? … Yes, I would like to leave a message for a guest who is supposed to arrive sometime soon. … I don’t know when. … Yes, his name is Mitchell. … Scott Mitchell. That’s correct. The full name is Scott Mitchell. … Oh, is it that soon? … Yes, well, then I’d very much like to leave a message for Scott Mitchell, to make an appointment with him for tomorrow….
(Idly, SHE drops the pickle-dish into a wastebasket.)
END OF ACT TWO SCENE ONE
(The next afternoon. No one is on stage. We hear a CAR PULLING UP, AND ITS DOOR SLAMMING. SCOTT speaks offstage outside front door. )
SCOTT: Wait just a minute. Let me see. Yes, yes, this is it. Parkside Boulevard. Is there a name on the mailbox? “Oglesby.” Yes, this is it: “Franklin Ogleslby.” Okay, driver, you can go. Thank you. No, that’s for you. Keep it. You’re welcome. Remember, be back in half an hour.
(We hear a CAR DRIVING AWAY, and a DOORBEL.)
(FRANKIE enters from her bedroom. SHE is exquisitely dressed for an afternoon social event. SHE crosses to front door and opens it to admit SCOTT MITCHELL. HE is a very handsome, slim man in his thirties, dressed for his earlier business. SCOTT is essentially warm, humorous, and confident, albeit a little shy and tentative at this moment.)
FRANKIE: Hello, Scott.
SCOTT: Hello. Frankie?
FRANKIE: Yes, it’s me. Come on in, Scott. Are you – alone?
SCOTT: Yes, that was my cabbie you heard. I- I can’t believe you.
FRANKIE: I can’t believe you. You look the same as ever.
SCOTT: You don’t.
FRANKIE: Well, we all get older. Except you, of course.
SCOTT: It’s not that you’re older. You’ve changed your look incredibly.
FRANKIE: Well, nice women do dye their hair nowadays. I always wanted it auburn, and now it is.
SCOTT: But you look so stylish.
FRANKIE: Well, I was best-dressed, let us never forget.
SCOTT: You look better than ever. I was expecting a frumpy hausfrau, but you could walk down Fifth Avenue in that.
FRANKIE: Fifth Avenue in New York? Is that where you’re living?
SCOTT: Well, not on Fifth Avenue. But in New York, yes. For – God! -thirteen years now.
FRANKIE: I see. So you did – run away to a big city. I always wondered.
SCOTT: I guess I always thought you knew.
FRANKIE: No. No. I never did know. Listen, come on in. I haven’t even offered you anything. Do you want coffee? A drink?
SCOTT: A drink?
(SHE opens bar.)
FRANKIE: Yes, we’re a wet county now. You can drink all you want.
SCOTT: Do you drink now? No, I don’t want anything.
FRANKIE: Oh, I have a cocktail, or some wine. I guess I’ve gotten fast and loose.
SCOTT: You’re amazing. You look different, but you still feel the same,
FRANKIE: What does that mean? Here, let’s sit down. I hope you can stay a while.
SCOTT: I told my cab to come back in half an hour. I hope that’s all right.
FRANKIE: That’s — fine.
SCOTT: Is — your family here?
FRANKIE: If you mean my mother, she died a year ago. And don’t say you’re sorry. You don’t have to.
SCOTT: I always liked your mother. I thought she liked me.
FRANKIE: I guess she did, didn’t she? It’s true, you weren’t around when Mother changed.
SCOTT: I daresay a lot of people changed. I was knocked-out when Aunt Temple left me The Heights. She never wrote me after — all that.
FRANKIE: I never saw her either after — that. But let’s not talk about anything sad. I’m just so very glad that you’re well, and going to have something to fall back on. Tell me, will you move here?
SCOTT: Are you kidding me?
FRANKIE: You sound like my son!
SCOTT: You have a son?
FRANKIE: My husband has a son by his first marriage. I’m about to have one. A girl, I hope.
SCOTT: Frankie, congratulations. Your first?
FRANKIE: Yes, even at my advanced age, I’m having my first.
SCOTT: So you’ve turned out to be a well-to-do wife and mother.
FRANKIE: And businesswoman. I have a nice little dress-shop and I’m doing very well.
SCOTT: That’s great, Frankie. I’m glad.
FRANKIE: Yes, Scott, I have a good life. It’s not the life I planned for myself but, well, I suppose none of us get exactly what we want, do we?
SCOTT: Well, some more than others.
FRANKIE: Yes, some of us do…So you’re not going to move here?
SCOTT: No, I hardly think so. I’m just going to sell The Heights – or possibly give it away –
FRANKIE: Give it away? Oh, you’re joking!
SCOTT: Maybe. I don’t know. My God, The Heights! It used to be just a bunch of old cleechee gravel pits, and now it’s The Heights!
FRANKIE: I know. Isn’t it pretentious?
SCOTT: And those vulgar houses. Who lives there?
FRANKIE: Easterners, of course.
SCOTT: I couldn’t believe that—chaotic juxtaposition!– of New England mansions and Swiss chateaux.
FRANKIE: And it’s considered the very nicest place in town to live.
SCOTT: But this is nice, right here. Shady trees, and the houses aren’t too bad.
FRANKIE: Do I dare ask what you think of mine?
SCOTT: It’s very nice. No, I mean it. It looks like you. Tasteful and peaceful.
FRANKIE: Thank you. I try. How do you live in New York, Scott? Isn’t it frightening?
SCOTT: No. No. This is frightening. No, New York was at first, I suppose. But now it’s our home.
FRANKIE: I suppose that’s best.
SCOTT: We have a little place we’ve been in for eight years now, off Bank Street in the Village. That’s Greenwich Village.
FRANKIE: I know. I read books.
SCOTT: Do you have them smuggled in? I’m sorry.
FRANKIE: No, you’re right. But we do have paperback shops now. They don’t last long, but we do have them. And there was always the library for them as wants to use it.
SCOTT: That sounds like your mother.
FRANKIE: Well, don’t we all get more like our parents as we grow older?
SCOTT: I hope not. You’re still the same, Frankie.
FRANKIE: I hope not —- You said I still “feel the same.” What did that mean?
SCOTT: There was always a – feeling – when you stepped into a room. As though someone brought fresh flowers in – or turned on soft music.
FRANKIE: You’ll make me blush. Did you know – My son is going to E.N.M.U.
FRANKIE: Yes. it’s hardly there anymore, the old E.N.M.U. that we knew, but he’s going there.
SCOTT: My God, how old is he?
FRANKIE: He’s nineteen. He’s very bright. He’s taking a music minor. Anyway, he told me they put back up that old picture of us from Glamour Magazine. So we’re celebrities.
SCOTT: Put it “back up”?
FRANKIE: Oh. Well, you wouldn’t know, of course. They took it down. A long time ago. But let’s not talk about that.
SCOTT: No, let’s do. This is probably the only time we’ll ever see each other in our whole lives. Let’s talk about it.
FRANKIE: On, what for? It was so long ago.
SCOTT: It was last night. Last night we said “Goodbye” to each other, naked in the desert under a full moon. It was last night.
FRANKIE: Well, yes, in a way it was. I just don’t want to spoil this. I’m so happy to see you, and to know you’re well, and will have some money. What are you doing now?
SCOTT: Well, the same thing I’ve been doing all along. I’m singing.
FRANKIE: Oh. You are?
SCOTT: Yes, I’ve been very lucky. Except for the first year in New York, I’ve never had to work at anything else.
FRANKIE: Well, for heaven’s sake. And are you having any success?
SCOTT: Oh, yes. We’re doing quite well.
FRANKIE: Well, I wonder why I haven’t heard about it?
SCOTT: It’s not the sort of thing that would filter down to Drinking Water. I’m a classical baritone.
FRANKIE: That’s just what you always wanted to be.
SCOTT: Yes, I said I was lucky. I’ve done several recitals, and the last year and a half I’ve done minor roles at the Met.
FRANKIE: At the Met?
SCOTT: That’s the Metropolitan Opera.
FRANKIE: I know that. I’m not entirely a country girl, you know. Damn!
SCOTT: Damn what?
FRANKIE: I said that just like a country girl. Well, so, you got exactly what you wanted.
SCOTT: What I want is to sing “Faustus” at La Scala. We’re working toward that.
FRANKIE: Well, my goodness, what a surprise. Well, that’s wonderful, Scott.
SCOTT: Yes, we’ve been to Europe a couple of times, and I’ve had some offers. But I’m holding out for leads over there.
FRANKIE: Are you – in a position to do that?
SCOTT: Looks like it. We’re doing really well.
FRANKIE: You keep saying “we.”
SCOTT: Yes. Always.
FRANKIE: Ah. Is that – who you’re here with at the Cactus Suites?
SCOTT: Lord, this town. Does everybody know the queer came back with his boyfriend?….I’m sorry, Frankie.
FRANKIE: No. No, that’s all right…. It’s hard to catch up on thirteen years in a few minutes.
SCOTT: It is. And I’ve overstayed my welcome. I know why you asked me to come in the afternoon. You don’t want your family to see me. I understand. I’ll go. I just wanted to see you, and to see that you were all right.
FRANKIE: I’m okay!
SCOTT: And of course, I wanted to say – I’m sorry for what I did to you.
FRANKIE: Oh, Scott, no! It’s not for you to apologize to me.
(We hear a CAR PULLING IN AND PARKING AND ITS DOOR SLAMMING.)
SCOTT: I’m glad you feel that way. There’s my cab.
(HE is definitely leaving.)
FRANKIE: I do. Please don’t go. I have to tell you –
SCOTT: Goodbye, Frankie.
(JUNIOR irrupts through the kitchen.)
JUNIOR: Mom! Mom! Guess who’s in town! (HE sees SCOTT.) Oh my God!
FRANKIE: Frank Junior, you were supposed to meet your father for lunch.
JUNIOR: I will, Mom, I just came home to – Wow! You’re here! Mom, do you know him?
FRANKIE: This is Mister Mitchell, Frank Junior. He was just leaving.
JUNIOR: I have both your records. I love you!
SCOTT: Thank you. I’m just leaving.
JUNIOR: No, don’t. Please. I saw you downtown and I came home to get my records for you to autograph. Please don’t go. I’ll get them.
(JUNIOR exits to his bedroom.)
SCOTT: Frankie, I’ll leave.
FRANKIE: You’re – famous.
SCOTT: A little.
FRANKIE: But why doesn’t anyone know?
SCOTT: There was already a Scott Mitchell in Equity. I had to change my name to do some, chorus parts. It just stuck.
FRANKIE: Oh. What is your name now?
SCOTT: I use Richards.
FRANKIE: Scott Richards?
SCOTT: No, I use – Richard Richards.
FRANKIE: You what.
SCOTT: Yes. It was – to make up to him for what happened.
FRANKIE: What happened?
SCOTT: Frankie, way back then, he – cut his wrists and – he was never able to play again. I thought – his name should go on.
(JUNIOR re-enters with two LP’s and a pen.)
JUNIOR: Oh, wow, you didn’t leave. Here. Please sign them, will you? Do you have time to sign them?
SCOTT: I don’t know.
FRANKIE: Yes, of course. You can sign before you go.
JUNIOR: But. where are you going? Do you have to go? I can’t believe this. What are you doing here? Do you know Mom?
(SCOTT begins signing albums.)
SCOTT: Your mother and I were in school together.
JUNIOR: Mom, you never told me you knew Rich Richards.
FRANKIE: I …
SCOTT: That isn’t my real name. Your mother didn’t know she knew me.
JUNIOR: Are you here to sing? Are you going to sing here?
SCOTT: No, I’m just here to sell some property and leave.
JUNIOR: But you have to sing here. I bet you can. There’s a Ladies Aid Cultural Society. Mom, don’t you belong to the Ladies Aid Cultural Society?
SCOTT: Well, unfortunately time won’t allow for that.
FRANKIE: No, it won’t.
JUNIOR: No one at school will believe this! Wait til I tell them I met Rich Richards!
FRANKIE: Frank Junior, you have to go now and meet your father.
JUNIOR: Oh, can’t I stay?
JUNIOR: Mom, please.
FRANKIE: I said no and I meant no! Your father is waiting for you. You put those down and get out of here and go meet him!
(JUNIOR puts records on coffee-table.)
JUNIOR: Yes, Mom. It was wonderful to meet you, Mister Richards.
SCOTT: Thank you.
JUNIOR: I have Mom’s car. I could give you a ride.
FRANKIE: No, Frank! Get out of here!
JUNIOR: Yes, Mom.
SCOTT: Goodbye, Frank.
JUNIOR: Goodbye, Mister Richards.
(FRANK JUNIOR exits through kitchen. We hear a CAR START AND DRIVE AWAY.)
FRANKIE: Wait until he’s gone and I’ll call your taxi.
SCOTT: Frankie, I didn’t mean to upset you.
FRANKIE: Didn’t mean to upset me. Didn’t mean to upset me?
SCOTT: I’ll write you from New York.
FRANKIE: No, don’t. How could you – take his name?
SCOTT: Frankie, I ruined his life.
FRANKIE: Ruined his – ruined his life?
SCOTT: I’ve been trying to make it up to him ever since.
FRANKIE: Trying to – Scott! Is he the one you’re here with?
SCOTT: Yes, of course.
FRANKIE: Of course?
SCOTT: He stayed at the motel.
FRANKIE: Oh, my God!
SCOTT: We always stay together. It was the least I could do.
FRANKIE: I can’t believe what I’m hearing. That’s all. I can’t believe it.
SCOTT: I couldn’t leave him alone.
FRANKIE: You left me alone…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that.
SCOTT: What else could I do? We weren’t even allowed back on campus to get our things. And we wouldn’t have come, anyway. They would have made life hell for us.
FRANKIE: Oh, yes, I know a little bit about that. Do you know what it was like for me to stay there? Do you know what they did to me?
SCOTT: To you?
FRANKIE: I lived like a leper for years because of what you. did. You didn’t know that, did you?
SCOTT: But you stayed on.
FRANKIE: I saw it through. I fought at school, and here, for years. They tried to make me leave town. They ostracized me!
SCOTT: But you didn’t do anything!
FRANKIE: It’s all the same to them! You know what Rich did to Maggie? Well, that’s what you did to me! They treated me like Maggie Sink!
SCOTT: That was Rich’s way of trying to prove he was a man
FRANKIE: Oh, God!
SCOTT: We were – forced to it, Frankie. I can’t expect you to understand. But I didn’t know what they’d do to you.
FRANKIE: Oh, God, no, no. No of course, you didn’t. How could you? Scott, forgive me. I can’t blame you. You had to do what you did.
SCOTT: But they punished you.
FRANKIE: Oh, Scott, they never punished me the way that I punished myself.
SCOTT: For what?
FRANKIE: All I could ever think of was how you tried to get me to — make love with you. And how I refused you. I’ve never stopped blaming myself for what you and Scott did.
SCOTT: Frankie — ?
FRANKIE: That’s why I wanted to see you, Scott. That’s what I wanted to tell you. That I’m sorry for that. It wasn’t my fault. I was raised that way. They brought me up to be a nice girl! And after what happened I hated this town and my mother and everything that made me hold back. But I’ve made a life now, and I’ve forgiven them. And I’ve learned how much forgiveness means to people. I wanted to hear you say — that you forgive me.
SCOTT: Frankie —
FRANKIE: No, call me what you used to!
SCOTT: Sharon. Frankie. Sharon. There is no forgiveness needed between us.
FRANKIE: Oh, God, thank you, Scott. That’s what I wanted to hear. All those years. Everything they did to me, I knew it was what they would have done to you. I would have brought that suffering onto you. I could forgive them. I have forgiven them. But I could never ever forgive myself. Bless you!
SCOTT: There’s no need for you to blame yourself.
FRANKIE: Thank you. Thank you.
SCOTT: It never would have done any good for you to have — given yourself to me. I never should have tried to get you to. It would have ruined you the way that Rich ruined Maggie Sink.
FRANKIE: I wouldn’t have cared. I would have stood by you.
SCOTT: But Frankie, I’m gay.
FRANKIE: You weren’t always that way.
SCOTT: But I was, Frankie. Rich and I were lovers since high school. That’s why I went to E.N.M.U.; because his family couldn’t afford a better school.
SCOTT: Sure. We were always together. There was nothing you could have done. There’s nothing for you to blame yourself for or to ask anybody’s forgiveness for. You’re a tremendously decent person, maybe the most decent I’ve ever known.
FRANKIE: Are you telling me that when you and I were – that you were -that you and he were –
SCOTT: Always. There was nothing you could do. It was a horrible situation. There are thousands of people –
FRANKIE: I don’t care about thousands of people. Are you telling me that all the time you and I were in love, that it was really you and -and him?
SCOTT: Always. Frankie, what else could we do? They’d have killed us. They’d have put us in jail. Or in an asylum. Rich people in this state with queer kids can get them thrown into an asylum for life, do you know that? We were like Jews in Nazi Germany, we lived in terror –
FRANKIE: We were together for four years. Four years and I never so much as looked at another boy. Four years when I was supposed to find a husband, when I was the prettiest girl in school. And you’re telling me that for all that time I was only a – front? My God, Scott, we double-dated with Rich and his girlfriends!
FRANKIE: And it was really you and him? You took my youth! Do you know who I finally married, Scott? I married a man, an ignorant farmer, thirty years older than me, broke up with my mother, the only person I had in this world, to do it, because he was the only man in this town that would have — a tainted woman! That’s what this town did to me!
SCOTT: You know what it would have done to me?
FRANKIE: You! You’ve got everything you ever wanted. Oh, God, you had it all along! You’ve had your freedom, and a career, and you’ve been with the one you love for — God! — twenty years! You took my life away from me! You took my life!
(We hear a CAR PULLING UP AND PARKING and a CAR DOOR SLAMMING.)
SCOTT: I didn’t know. I couldn’t help it. Sharon –
FRANKIE: Don’t say that! Get out of here! Go away! Go back! Go back to your lover and your life! Leave me alone!
SENIOR: (Enters through kitchen)I’m in! Who’s here? Frankie, who’s this? I’m Frank Oglesby, Frankie’s husband?
FRANKIE: Frank. I thought you and Frank Junior were having lunch.
SENIOR: He didn’t come. I drove all over lookin’ for him. Has somethin’ happened to him?
FRANKIE: No, he was just here looking for you. I guess you missed each other. Frank, this is —
SCOTT: Rich Richards, Mister Ogleslby. I’m an old college friend of your wife’s. I’m passing through town and just stopped in to say “Hello.”
SENIOR: Well, don’t run off on my account. Me and our boy is supposed to go out, anyway. I don’t know where he could have got to. Should I call the police an’ see if Frank Junior’s been in a accident?
FRANKIE: No, no, I’m sure he’s all right. Stay here.
SENIOR: Is somethin’ wrong? You’re cryin’.
FRANKIE: Was I? Oh, no, we were just having a good cry over old school friends. You know how I get.
SENIOR: Will Mister —
SENIOR: — be stayin for lunch?
SCOTT: No, thank you, Mister Oglesby, I can’t. I have to go now. It was really good seeing you again, Frankie.
FRANKIE: Yes, Scott. It was. It really was. Goodbye.
SENIOR: Did you say, “Scott?”
SCOTT: Yes. That’s my real name.
SENIOR: Are you this Scott Mitchell? That’s here about the Carstairs Estate? Temple Estate?
SCOTT: Yes, “Rich Richards” is a stage name.
SENIOR: You turned out a actor?
SCOTT: Singer, Mister Oglesby.
SENIOR: I was thinkin’ of talkin to you about buyin’ that parkin’ lot Betty Carstairs left to you —
SCOTT: I don’t think so, Mister Oglesby; I’m giving it to a charity.
(We hear a CAR APPROACHING AND PARKING and a CAR DOOR SLAMMING.)
That must be my cab.
SENIOR: But now, Mister Mitchell or whatever you call yourself, I think it’s clear that you’re upsettin’ my wife an I think you had better just clear out of my house.
(FRANK JUNIOR runs in through kitchen.)
JUNIOR: Mister Richards, you’re still here! Dad, did you know Mom knows Rich Richards?
SENIOR: Frank Junior, go to your room.
FRANKIE: You heard your father. Go to your room.
JUNIOR: Dad, I’m sorry I missed you. I just had to meet Rich Richards.
SENIOR: You what? You met this man?
FRANKIE: Frank Junior wanted Scott to autograph his records.
SENIOR: What records? What are these?
(SENIOR picks up records. Turns to address SCOTT.)
Did you bring these into my home?
JUNIOR: They’re mine, Dad. Mister Richards autographed them.
SENIOR: (To FRANKIE) You had this man in here to meet my son?
JUNIOR: Dad, Mom didn’t know I’d be here. She told me to go.
SENIOR: You threw Frank Junior out of his home so you could meet this man here?
FRANKIE: Frank, there’s nothing to upset yourself about.
SENIOR: You had this boyfriend of yours in here alone, this lover of yours, and you had my son in here at the same time as this man?
SCOTT: Mister Oglesby, first you’re angry because Frank was here and then you’re angry because he wasn’t, don’t you think you should just –
SENIOR: Don’t you talk to me, you cocksucker. You get out of this house!
(SENIOR throws records at SCOTT.)
(SENIOR shoves JUNIOR, hard.)
SENIOR: You get to your room!
SENIOR: (To SCOTT) And you get out of here! Get out of my house! You ruined my wife’s life and now you’re here with my son!
(SENIOR takes a swing at SCOTT.)
SCOTT: Mister Oglesby –
FRANKIE: Frank, don’t!
(FRANKIE grabs SENIOR. HE throws HER off.)
SCOTT: Mister Oglesby!
SENIOR(To SCOTT): Get out of here, you get out of here!
(SENIOR rushes SCOTT, who subdues and holds SENIOR.)
FRANKIE: Scott, don’t! Frank Junior, go away! Frank, listen to me.
SCOTT: (Holding SENIOR) Mister Oglesby, you’re making a mistake, please, calm down.
SENIOR: (Struggling) You, you aren’t fit to be in the presence of decent people! Get out of here, you filthy scum, you faggot bastard, you cocksucking son of a bitch!
JUNIOR: Dad, don’t say that!
SENIOR: (To JUNIOR)You get out of here! I don’t want you in the presence of this piece of filth!
SCOTT: Frankie, will he be all right?
FRANKIE: Yes, just go, get out.
JUNIOR: No, don’t. Mom! Dad! What’s happening?
(CURTA enters through front door.)
CURTA: My God, what’s happening? I heard you clear across the street!
SENIOR: You, you bitch! Why are you in my house? Are you helpin’ her meet her lovers?
FRANKIE: Frank, don’t. Curta, call Mike.
CURTA: (To SCOTT) What are you doin’? Let go of him!
(SENIOR breaks free and tries to shove CURTA out the door.)
SENIOR: You whore, you call anybody I’ll tell him you’re the whore you are!
FRANKIE: Scott, stop him!
(SCOTT grabs SENIOR. FRANKIE runs to telephone.)
Frank, I’m calling George Montrose. Scott, hold him.
SENIOR: Hold me! Call a doctor! Put me away and take my money? You whores!
(SENIOR breaks away and hits FRANKIE.)
CURTA: Frank, don’t!
(CURTA restrains SENIOR. SCOTT rushes to FRANKIE. JUNIOR jumps between SENIOR and FRANKIE.)
JUNIOR: Dad, don’t! She’s pregnant!
SENIOR: She’s what?
SCOTT: She’s going to have a baby, Mister Oglesby.
SENIOR: Whose baby?
FRANKIE: Yours, Frank, yours!
SENIOR: (Indicates SCOTT.) You’ve been seein’ this man in my house and you’re havin his baby?
FRANKIE: Frank –
SCOTT: Mister Oglesby, she can’t have my baby, you know what I am –
SENIOR:(To JUNIOR) Then it’s yours! I left you with this whore an’ she’s havin’
(SENIOR strikes JUNIOR.)
FRANKIE: Oh, God, stop!
(SHE rushes to JUNIOR.)
CURTA: Frank, darlin, don’t!
SENIOR: (To JUNIOR.) I should have killed you when you was born!
(SENIOR collapses on sofa. CURTA goes to him.
CURTA: What have y’all done to him? What’s happenin’ here?
(FRANKIE and JUNIOR go to SENIOR. We hear POLICE SIRENS far away, coming nearer.)
Oh, God, it’s the police!
SCOTT: Frankie –
FRANKIE: Get out, Scott, get out’
CURTA: He’s Scott Mitchell?
FRANKIE: Go back to your New York, leave us alone!
SENIOR: Kill him, tell the police to kill him, Curta, if you ever loved me, tell them to kill him!
CURTA: Yes, Frank darlin’, Frank baby, oh, what have they done to you, lover?
JUNIOR: Dad, don’t, he’s a great man! Mister Richards, don’t let them drive you away!
(HE grabs SCOTT.)
SCOTT: Let go of me, kid.
JUNIOR: Dad, if you have them kill him, then what are you going to do to me, huh? Because I’m like him, I’m a faggot, cocksucker, son of a bitch! Are you going to have them kill me?
SENIOR: You’re not, get out of here, you’re not, you’re not!
JUNIOR: Yes, I am! Are you going to let them kill me?
SCOTT:(To FRANKIE) I’ve got to leave!
FRANKIE: Yes, leave, God, go out the back way!
JUNIOR: I’ll take you! I’ve got Mom’s car!
(JUNIOR pulls SCOTT out through the kitchen. In addition to the rising SIRENS, we hear a CAR STARTING AND PULLING AWAY.)
SENIOR: Kill him! Kill him!
CURTA:(To FRANKIE) Why don’t you go with them? You never deserved him, you never loved him!
(CURTA runs to front door.)
FRANKIE: Frank, darling, don’t –
CURTA:(Screams) Get them! Stop them! Stop them! Stop them!
SENIOR: Kill them!
FRANKIE: Frank! Curta! Frank Junior! Scott! Frank! Frank! Frank!
END OF ACT TWO SCENE TWO
(August. Afternoon. MARGIE LEE onstage in dark traveling suit. On the sideboard is a small stack of loose mail. Phone off the hook. MARGIE LEE opens sideboard, takes out bottle and glass, thinks better of it, returns bottle and glass, closes sideboard, picks up phone, taps hook to get dial tone, dials, waits, speaks:)
MARGIE LEE: Herbert, we’re back from Amarillo. I think I ought to hang around here for a while. . . No, not so it shows, but she must be going through hell. If it seems necessary, I might stay with her overnight…Why, that’s sweet, Herb. That’s genuinely sweet. I’ll ask her. ..See you when I see you….Herbert?…I love you. (SHE hangs up.)
(FRANKIE enters from kitchen, also in dark traveling suit. SHE shouts back into the kitchens)
FRANKIE: No, Maria. I don’t need you. Mrs. Dunne is here. Just go get your bus and go home. And take that trash out with you. That big bag is clothes for your husband—and your son.
(BACK DOOR SLAMS. To MARGIE LEE)
She’s driving me crazy with her crying. Please take that phone back off the hook. Curta Fae calls every ten minutes to beg for forgiveness.
(MARGIE LEE takes phone off hook.
FRANKIE: (At sideboard, gets a drink.) Want one?
MARGIE LEE: No.
FRANKIE: I do. … You don’t have to stay, Margie Lee.
MARGIE LEE: I want to.
FRANKIE: I don’t need you to.
MARGIE LEE: You shouldn’t be alone.
FRANKIE: I’m no more alone than I ever was.
MARGIE LEE: What are you going to do?
FRANKIE: …I’m going to have to think about that.
MARGIE LEE: Are you … going to move to Amarillo to be near … Frank?
FRANKIE: Why? He’s hardly there anymore. You saw. He’ll be tied to those machines forever.
MARGIE LEE: Honey, he’s old, but he’s strong. He could recover.
FRANKIE: He won’t recover. Thank God he’s got veteran’s benefits. At least he won’t break me.
MARGIE LEE: Frankie!
FRANKIE: Well, you saw him. He didn’t even know me. … Or you.
MARGIE LEE: Honey —
FRANKIE: Don’t call me “honey.” Please. That’s what he used to call me. And Curta. And. . . You ought to go now, Margie Lee.
MARGIE LEE: You need people around you.
FRANKIE: I’ve had people around me. This is mail from people I’ve had around me.
(Exhibits each letter in turn, and then drops it into wastebasket.)
This is from Scott. This one is from Mike’s Aunt Reet, of all people. Oh, and this one is from Frank Junior.
MARGIE LEE: Aren’t you even going to read that one?
FRANKIE: See the return address? He’s staying in New York with Scott and Rich. No, I don’t want to read that one.
(Drops it in wastebasket, picks up last letter. )
Oh, and looky here, will you? Here’s a great big thick vellum one from the Drinking Water Country Club Membership Committee. Hmmm. Yes, well, I’m going to have to think about that one.
(Lays it on sideboard carefully.)
MARGIE LEE: Frankie, Herbert says he’d love for you to come and stay with us.
FRANKIE: In The Heights? Don’t you know Scott Mitchell gave The Heights to some queer charity? No, thank you. Less than ever have I any desire to stay in The Heights.
MARGIE LEE: Frankie, you’re scaring me.
FRANKIE: Why? Are you afraid I’ll break down and you’ll lose your job?
MARGIE LEE: I don’t care about the job.
FRANKIE: Then what are you afraid of, that I’ll do myself in? I’ve already been done in.
MARGIE LEE: I’m afraid of the way you’re letting this change you.
(FRANKIE opens drawer, removes several small bundles of letters.)
FRANKIE: Oh, Margie Lee, for God’s sake. You don’t have to pretend. I already found your letters. Don’t be ashamed. Yours aren’t even the filthiest. You should read Curta’s. And poor illiterate Maria’s. I just wonder if any of you knew about the others.
MARSIE LEE: Frankie, none of that was important.
FRANKIE: Oh, please. My husband deceives me with half the women in town. At least let me think it was important.
MARGIE LEE: I mean, it had nothing to do with you.
FRANKIE: Oh, I know that! Nothing anybody ever did had anything to do with me. Christ! The whole world’s been having a high ol’ time all around me my whole life, while I was killing myself trying to be a nice—woman.
MARGIE LEE: Frankie, you’re probably the only genuinely nice person I’ve ever met. Everyone admires and loves you so much.
FRANKIE: Oh, well, just think what a mess my life would be if they didn’t!
MARGIE LEE: Frankie, what are you going to do?
FRANKIE: Do? Hell! I own a dress shop and a Chrysler/Chevrolet dealership. I can do any damned thing I want to do. I can show your letters to Herbert.
MARGIE LEE: You wouldn’t do that.
FRANKIE: Oh, hell, I have no cause to hurt you. I have no cause to hurt anyone. There isn’t anyone in the world for me to hurt or hate or blame or forgive or love.
MARGIE LEE: There’s your baby. There’s going to be your baby.
FRANKIE: I’m going to have to think about the baby, too. Now, please, get out of my house, Margie Lee. It’s my home and I really don’t want you in it. And here —
(Throws letters at MARGIE LEE)
–take this trash out with you.
(MARGIE LEE takes letters and exits through kitchen. We hear her CAR STARTING AND DRIVING AWAY. FRANKIE puts on a record — The Mamas and the Papas singing “DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME. ” Then SHE mixes herself another drink, takes off her jacket, walks around the room drinking and listening to the music. SHE looks up a phone number, dials, speaks:)
Hello. Is that Maggie Sink?….Oh, I’m so glad I caught you home. I think I really would like to have a good, long talk with you….Oh, forgive me; this is Frankie, Frankie Oglesby – —
(MAGGIE SINK obviously hangs up. FRANKIE stands staring at the phone in her hand, going from amazement to amusement.)
Well, cease not to learn until thou cease to live!
(SHE toasts “Maggie Sink” and drinks, as)
(THE CURTAIN FALLS)
END OF ACT TWO, SCENE THREE
END OF “NICE GIRL”