play – WHEN THE HERE AND THE NOW DISAPPEAR – by Robert Patrick

When the Here and Now Disappear
a playlet by Robert Patrick

Robert Patrick
1837 N. Alexandria Ave. #211
Los Angeles, Ca 90027
(323) 360-1469

Setting: A country club bar, 1950s.

Characters: Mama – middle-age woman.
Son – 12 yr-old boy.

On Rise: Afternoon. Mama is at the bar arranging materials for the evening. There is a jukebox nearby.

MAMA
(CALLS)
Son
SON
(offstage, mimicking her intonation)
Mama
MAMA
Come in here and sit at the bar while I set up for tonight. Don’t hang out in there and be bored.
SON
(Enters. He is 12. His nose is bandaged.)
I wasn’t bored. I was tossing all the pool balls around the pool table and watching them bang against each other until finally they all finally fell down into the holes. It’s beautiful. It’s like life. The universe.
MAMA
How’s your nose?
SON
It’s all right.
MAMA
Did you rack up those pool balls after you were through playing?
SON
The members leave ’em lyin’ all over the table.
MAMA
We’re not members. You go in there and leave them all racked up before the men come.
(He starts to leave)
But sit in here with me now. I have to do your stepfather’s and my work both this afternoon.
(He remains.)
SON
It’s funny to have a pool table in a rest room.
MAMA
It’s the Men’s Lounge. The room with the toilet is just a part of it. The Women’s Lounge has a card table.
SON
I like the wallpaper with the big fox-hunting scene on it.
MAMA
Fox-hunting in New Mexico.
SON
People don’t fox hunt here.
MAMA
They just hunt each other’s wives here…
(laughs)
Don’t you say I said that!…In the women’s lounge they have that same kind of big wallpaper….uh….
(can’t think of word)
SON
Mural.
MAMA
—mural. Old-timey ladies in high, white wigs having a tea party.
SON
Some of the men ask me to draw pin-ups for them.
MAMA
Do you?
SON
Yes, but always with clothes on.
MAMA
You are a funny boy. And we are going to put you on the funny farm.
SON
At school, the P.E. teacher asks me to draw women without any clothes on.
MAMA
At school?
SON
I never told you, I got out of P.E.
MAMA
How did you get out of P.E.?
SON
I just told him I wasn’t goin’ to do it.
MAMA
And he let you get away with that?
SON
What was he goin’ to do? Exile me?
MAMA
You tickle the hell out of Mama.
SON
So I just sit by the coach and draw pin-ups.
MAMA
Don’t make me laugh. I have to get this bar set up.
SON
The first day they made us do push-ups and chin-ups and jack-sprattles…
MAMA
Whats…?
SON
Jack-sprattles? Splits! In the air! Like this. (Does jump-splits.)
MAMA
Oh that’s wonderful! Son, you could dance.
SON
I love to dance.
MAMA
So why didn’t you do P.E.?
SON
The next day they made them play basketball. It’s so unfriendly!
MAMA
Quit making me laugh.
SON
It would be pretty if they would just all try to make the ball go into the basket every time. That’s pretty. But they try to stop each other. I don’t understand that. It’s so pretty when the ball goes ka-lop! into the basket.
MAMA
So you’re drawing pin-up pictures for the coach … ?
SON
… and he won’t tell. I told him I wouldn’t do P.E. and he said, “You got a sick excuse?” And I said, “No, I just won’t do it.”
MAMA
Take a quarter out of my tip jar and play us some music. I don’t know what I’m gonna’ do with you.
SON
It’s so pretty and quiet here this time of day. Like a paintin’.
MAMA
I couldn’t let you go to school with that nose.
SON
It’s like a real night club.
MAMA
I’m afraid so.
SON
Why is it a country club instead of a nightclub?
MAMA
Because night clubs are illegal in New Mexico.
SON
(Laughs.)
Now you made me laugh and it hurts my nose.
MAMA
Oh, does it hurt?
SON
No.
MAMA
You.
SON
Night clubs aren’t illegal in all of New Mexico. Not in Kenna.
MAMA
That’s why Papa Stan’s down there getting the liquor.
SON
So why isn’t it illegal for y’all to sell the liquor to the members?
MAMA
It is. Your mama’s a bootlegger.
SON
Bootleggers were the thirties.
MAMA
And then we sell the members setups for their private stock of liquor.
SON
I can’t believe they pay four dollars for a glass and a bucket of ice.
MAMA
Oh, God, I can’t believe it either. (“Again” plays.) Oh, I love that song.
SON
Me, too. It’s from “Road House.” Ida Lupino sits at a blond piano and sings it. It’s an upright piano and it has cigarette burns on the top of it. She puts her cigarette up on top of the piano when the people ask her to play a song and makes burns on it.
MAMA
They do that? I didn’t know Ida Lupino sang.
SON
She does….What about when Papa Stan comes in? What do you want me to do?
MAMA
He’ll probably go home and sleep it off first.
SON
That’s why you wanted me here?
MAMA
He really loves you.
SON
It’s hot in his kitchen. He’s always in there. I know. He’s real unhappy.
MAMA
I don’t know why he hit you.
SON
I told you. I told him I wanted to use that empty shed to make myself a playhouse and he said I was too old to play and he hit me and he ran out.
MAMA
Oh, God, I don’t know why he’d do that.
SON
It’s okay. Don’t cry. I understand. It’s hot in that kitchen.
MAMA
He’s so good with everybody here. They all love him so much.
SON
I love him. He’s just mad all the time and I was there.
MAMA
I left your daddy because he hit you. Papa Stan was the one who told me how I could. I didn’t know a woman could call the police on her husband. And then Stan hits you.
SON
It’s all right, Mama. It’s not your fault. It’s not their fault. They’re just unhappy.
MAMA
Son, just being happy is what life is all about. Nothing else. Nothing is worth unhappiness.
SON
I know. I’m happy. I want to caddy and earn money so I can buy my own books and pay my own way to the movies, and then he won’t be so mad at me, I don’t think.
MAMA
Did I ever show you how to play solitaire?
SON
No.
MAMA
Here, look, it’ll keep you busy. You lay out seven stacks of cards like this. One up and six down. Then one up and five down…
SON
And so on all the way till you lay just one up?
MAMA
That’s right. Now, your goal is to get all the cards up here on aces. If an ace turns up, you put it up here, and then you add the cards in order… two, three, and so on.
SON
In ascending order?
MAMA
That’s right. And how you get the cards is, you play a lower card on a high one from either here on the board…
SON
Like the three on the four? I heard ’em say that in a movie.
MAMA
Yes, but it has to be a red card on a black card or a black card on a red card.
SON
Okay. Alternate colors here, match colors here. Okay. Okay!
MAMA
And then you turn over the top card on a stack you’ve cleared…
SON
I see. I get it. Okay.
MAMA
And when you turn up a king , you move it to a blank space if there is one…
SON
There’s a king.
MAMA
Okay, put it in the blank space…
SON
And am I supposed to wind up with just kings? With everything on them?
MAMA
No, you’re supposed to wind up with everything on the aces. You only get points for what’s on the aces.
SON
I think I see.
MAMA
In Las Vegas, you would buy the deck from the house for fifty-two dollars…
SON
A dollar a card.
MAMA
Yes. And then they would give you five dollars for every card you got on the aces pile.
SON
Wow! Okay, so I did everything I can do.
MAMA
Now, you turn up the undealt cards in the deck one at a time, and see what you can play.
SON
Like this?
MAMA
Yes. That won’t play. Turn up another one… cover the first one with it.
SON
Uh-huh. Oh, that will play.
MAMA
Yes, that goes on the black seven.
SON
And then will this black five go on it?
MAMA
Yes, but you have to move the red four with it.
SON
I see! Okay. Oh, look. I have a black three here and a black three – here.
MAMA
You have to play the one on the board first, before the one in the hand.
SON
Is that a rule?
MAMA
Yes. And they’d shoot you in Las Vegas if you get caught cheating.
SON
Whoo! Really? No, they don’t!
MAMA
Right through the head, and call it a suicide.
SON
No, they don’t.
MAMA
How many times did but play that song?
SON
Five. I know you like it, too.
MAMA
You are a booby and we’re going to put you in the booby hatch.
SON
Okay, so I play the black ten here?
MAMA
No, it should go up on the ace line on the black nine. You have to play on the ace line first.
SON
So priorities are the ace line, the board and then the deck?
MAMA
Yes, and you have to move from farthest right to farthest left if you have a choice.
SON
How do you mean?
MAMA
If you’ve got, for instance, oh, two red queens up over here…
SON
Uh-huh.
MAMA
And you have two black kings over here…
SON
Uh-huh.
MAMA
…then you have to take the farthest right queen and play it on the farthest left king .
SON
I see the logic in that.
MAMA
You do?
SON
Yes, it helps you wear down these thick piles on the right.
MAMA
I guess it does.
SON
It’s funny. That helps you. You’d think the rules would all be against you.
MAMA
Well, I guess nobody would play if they didn’t have a chance.
SON
It’s all right. The rules are so tough that you’re bound to slip up, and then they shoot you.
MAMA
Probably not.
SON
No, they do. They shoot you through the head.
MAMA
What a mess.
SON
Well, maybe they shoot you through – where wouldn’t it make a mess?
MAMA
Lord, I don’t know.
SON
I’ll look it up.
MAMA
Where would you look that up?
SON
The medical section. They let me alone with the adult books. I told them if they didn’t let me read whatever I wanted to, I’d say that they did let me.
MAMA
What does the Librarian say when you do that?
SON
“Ssshhhhh!”
MAMA
You are a nut and we are going to put you in the bin.
SON
I am a cookie and you are going to put me in the jar.
MAMA
You are a looney and we are going to put you in the tunes.
SON
Don’t make me laugh, I’m winning.
MAMA
You buy the deck from me for fifty-two cents and I’ll pay you a nickel for every card you get on an ace.
SON
And for the ace?
MAMA
Yes, yes.
SON
Okay…I didn’t really tell the librarian that. She just lets me read the adult books because I look harmless.
MAMA
(Laughs)
SON
But if I came in like this – (does Peter Lorre)—“Good morning, madam. Where do you keep zee medical books?”
MAMA
Oh, lord, son, stop it. Oh, lord, I shouldn’t be laughing like this.
SON
I don’t have fifty-two cents.
MAMA
Well, then don’t let the sun set on you in Las Vegas.
SON
(Laughs, then, in Western accent–)
But I have my tired old widder-woman mama to support.
MAMA
(After a long look at him)
We’ll play on credit. I have to get this work done.
SON
Oh, okay, go ahead, I’m happy.
(They sing together with the record.)
MAMA
Son.
SON
Mama.
MAMA
Papa Stan isn’t coming home. He had a heart attack on the highway.
SON
When ?
MAMA
Last night. He must have felt it coming. He pulled off of the highway and stopped, and they found him slumped over the steering wheel.
SON
Oh.
MAMA
The patrolmen that found him brought all the liquor here and told me. They respected him so.
SON
He was a good man.
MAMA
So we’re going to lose the country club. They always want a husband and wife cook and hostess pair.
SON
Oh, Mama.
MAMA
I don’t know what we’ll do. Everything was going so well.
SON
Does that mean I can’t caddy?
MAMA
No, probably you can caddy. But I’ll have to find a waitress job, and we’ll have to move.
SON
Oh. Okay. Poor Papa Stan.
MAMA
He didn’t mean to be bad to you.
SON
It was just once. I understand. What are we going to do?
MAMA
Try to be happy.
SON
We are. We’re happy.
MAMA
I don’t know what I’d do without you.
SON
That’s why you got me out of school!
MAMA
And because of your nose. I didn’t lie.
SON
I know.
MAMA
I don’t know when you’re supposed to tell someone something like that.
SON
I know. It’s real hard.
MAMA
I have to go back and tell the kitchen help. They’ll have to make something for the appetizer trays. I think they know how.
SON
It’s just carrot strips and radish roses.
MAMA
Oh he was such a good cook.
SON
You owe me… sixty-five cents.
MAMA
Okay, keep track.
SON
You can buy the deck from me and only owe me thirteen cents.
MAMA
Okay. We’ll play later, I have to go in back. You go rack up those pool balls.
SON
Okay. We’ll be happy, Mama.
MAMA
We probably will. What else are we going to do?
(They both leave the stage. “Again” continues as lights fade.)

End

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2 Responses to “play – WHEN THE HERE AND THE NOW DISAPPEAR – by Robert Patrick”

  1. Marshall Mason Says:

    Very touching little tone poem. In rather the style of that “bus stop” play that so puzzled you at the Buono.

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

    […]    WHEN THE HERE AND THE NOW DISAPPEAR https://robertpatrickpersonal.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/play-when-the-here-and-the-now-disappear-by-ro…    EVAN ON EARTH – A Love Story […]

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