Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
The continuation of ACT1, Scene 1: Mercy and The Dress of Eleanora Duse
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 1)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 2)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 3)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 4)
AUTHOR makes a grunt. The dress is stuck on her.
AUTHOR: Okay, fourth wall… just between us…(the lights come up in the backroom and we can see the Author, stuck with the dress over her head. She is not wearing a bra) I didn’t count on this- she was small- before hydrogenated fats and junk food made everybody fatter. I’m can’t take it up or down. And what with this whole cow discussion earlier I am not feeling really comfortable inviting these ladies in to assist me, so what can I say but… (to the other side of the door) “No, thanks! I’m fine!”
PRICILLA shrugs. Three girls (ANNIE ”A”, BECKY “B”, and CANDY “C”) enter the store with the jingling of bells. They are all giggling. They speak seamlessly as one person.
A: Oh My God, these are those-
B: anybody want some crack?-
C: ass jeans. (They all giggle together)
PRICILLA: Hi girls, can I make your days?
LINDA: (to Pricilla) What?
PRICILLA: I hate these girls. They should be taken out back and shot.
LINDA: Shhh…(to the ladies) Hi, can I help you ladies with anything?
A: No, we’re just-
C: just looking.
LINDA: Well, let me know if you need anything.
B: Why is this pile of rocks fifteen thousand dollars?-
C: On sale? A: I better lift those rocks and find…
B: Fourteenthousand ninehunded and ninetynine-
C: dollars underneath them.
A: A dollar! Girl, I’ll get you a stack of rocks for fifty cents! (They all explode into laughter…)
PRICILLA: (Miming shooting them) Stupid, slutty, better off dead…
AUTHOR: (from the dressing room, to the girls outside, dress still stuck over her head) For your information, those rocks were the rocks the rocks that Virginia Woolf put in her pocket to drown herself!
B: Who said that?
C: Who’s Virginia Woolf?
AUTHOR: (from the other side of the door) Virginia Woolf, for your information is a famous writer who said a great many beautiful, real things, about the reality we live in-
A: Oh- Nicole Kidman
B: On Oscar
C: A fake nose?
AUTHOR: (from the other side of the door, still trying to get the dress either off or on): No, no! From A Room of One’s Own: “Imaginative work…is like a spider’s web” (PRICILLA throws up her hands in utter disgust at hearing the AUTHOR’S voice declaiming again) “attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners…. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in midair by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering, human beings, and are attached to the grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in.”
(The dress comes down and makes a terrible, loud tearing sound. Everyone in Herstory Boutique gasps, even the ABC girls.)
PRICILLA: Okay- I’m coming in there-
AUTHOR: No- don’t!
PRICILLA, trying the door and finding it locked, hip-checks it open. The AUTHOR, seeing the door burst open and an angry Pricilla, screams. Pricilla, seeing the half-naked AUTHOR in a torn dress screams.
A-C, not knowing what else to do, scream. The parrot squawks.
PRICILLA: Cover yourself! Cover yourself!
The AUTHOR, pulling the dress, to better cover her, rips the dress again. Everyone screams again.
PRICILLA: You ripped it! You’re going to have to pay!
AUTHOR: I can’t pay! I can’t pay!
PRICILLA: You must! You broke it! You buy it! That’s store policy!
AUTHOR: Please- no! You don’t understand- there’s no way!
A: Call the police!
B: Get a lawyer!
C: Kill her!
AUTHOR: Who? Her or me?
AUTHOR: Dostoevsky, he was once in an Siberian prison for his politics and he was ordered to be executed- and they took him out with two others to shoot him, and then, at the last minute- he was granted a reprieve. It was before he had written anything; if they’d just shot him like the two other guys we’d be without The Idiot, Crime and Punishment…
PRICILLA: This is crime and punishment, you idiot! You broke it, you buy!
The AUTHOR walks into a light mid-stage, her dress torn. She begins to sing (music will be included)
AUTHOR: “Please don’t hold me to blame- I didn’t mean to- I’m so ashamed- Please don’t- look at me- Look at me- don’t look- have mercy- mercy, mercy on me”
A-C: (A chorus) “Mercy, Mercy, mercy on me”
Bells chime as a handsome young man (HERO) has entered, holding a picnic basket- he stares at the author in the center.
AUTHOR: (Singing) “Could great men thunder as Jove himself does, Jove would ne’er be quiet, for every pelting petty officer would use his Heaven for Thunder, nothing but Thunder- Merciful Heaven- Thou rather with thy sharp and sulfurous bolt splist the gnarled and unwedgeable oak than the soft myrtle. But man, proud man, most ignorant of what he is most assured, his glassy essence, like an angry ape, plays such fantastic tricks against high heaven, that would make the angels weep, who with our spleens would all laugh themselves mortal.” Mercy, Mercy, Mercy on me!
A-C: (A chorus) “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy on me!”
PRICILLA: (with a shrill cry that kills the special light and any music) No! You broke! You buy!
HERO: Pricilla? What’s all this?
PRICILLA, seeing HERO turns instantly into a different person: giggly, sweet, and sparkly as she was bitter and business before. She sees nothing but him, now.
PRICILLA: My love!
HERO: Ah- my betrothed. Here- since you had time for lunch, I thought we could go have a picnic at the park down the street on our lunch breaks. I brought Odwallas and Hero sandwiches.
PRICILLA: (giggling) My Hero!
HERO: But what’s all this ruckus?
PRISCILLA: Oh, it’s nothing- it’s just one of those customers, I tell you about- who never do anything with themselves- just another character actress-
AUTHOR: I am ingénue! I’m a leading lady-
PRICILLA: Who isn’t going to make it-
AUTHOR: I’m totally going to make it!
PRICILLA: And doesn’t wear a bra.
AUTHOR: (hanging her head) Guilty as charged. I can’t afford a bra. Their like, $20 for a good one- that’s just one, and if you want matching underwear—and if you buy it here- at this store, better put down a Benjamin or twelve-
HERO: Why is she in the middle of the floor like a sad sack?
PRICILLA: Oh, whatever. She broke something, so now she’s got to pay for it-
AUTHOR: I can’t possibly pay for it- it’s more money than I even owe in student loans and credit cards and they don’t even let you declare bankruptcy anymore- they’re going to put me in the poor house, or the projects, or make me work on a finca-
HERO: No, they wouldn’t possibly do that to you- you’re too…
The AUTHOR and HERO lock eyes. They have a moment, and a light Beautiful…
Laura Lee Bahr is the author of the short stories Happy Hour and The Liar (available in the anthologies DEMONS, winner of the Bram Stoker award and PSYCHOS, edited by John Skipp and published by Black Dog & Leventhal). She is the award-winning screenwriter of the feature films Jesus Freak and the little Death. Her first novel, HAUNT, received the Wonderland Book Award.