Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
a play by Laura Lee Bahr
(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)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 5)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 6)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 7)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 8)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 9)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 10)
(When we last left our play, we had a failed pick-up in a bar, with an unwelcome interjection from our Doctor. Now let’s get back to shopping).
Lights down. Lights up on Herstory Boutique.
The AUTHOR enters the store, holding several stacks of paper bound with twine. She is in dark sunglasses, her head darts around, looking for PRICILLA. We can see PRICILLA in the backroom, unpacking a box. LINDA is behind the counter. The doors chime.
AUTHOR: Is she-
PRICILLA: (from the back) May I-
LINDA: It’s just me!
AUTHOR: (whisper) I just wanted to-
LINDA: (whisper) Don’t let her see you! She’ll kill you!
AUTHOR: I know! I just- I brought you these-
LINDA: What are those-
AUTHOR: They’re for the Emily Dickinson box. I thought I could store them here- sort of like collateral.
LINDA: Oh, honey. That’s very sweet-
AUTHOR: I’m going to make it- and I’ll be able to pay you for the dress-
LINDA: Okay, honey. I don’t need you to-
The AUTHOR hands her the pages.
PRICILLA comes rustling from the back- LINDA comes to block her view. The AUTHOR grabs a rock and makes a break for it. The doors chime. PRICILLA comes out with an arm full of clothes.
PRICILLA: Where’d she go?
PRICILLA: Whoever came in?
LINDA: Oh, it was nobody. I just opened the door.
PRICILLA: (re: her arms full of clothes) What do you want me to do with this stuff?
PRICILLA brings the stack over to the rack.
PRICILLA: Where did this crap come from? It all looks like it’s from a mall.
LINDA: Oh, well, you know when you have a wholesale estate sale. It belonged to some college girl-
PRICILLA: Nothing special?
LINDA: Nothing special. I think she went to the pen- putting her baby in a trash bin.
PRICILLA: So why’d you take them?
LINDA: Well, you know- they’ll fit some of the smaller girls. And there are some cute numbers.
PRICILLA: I think they’re trashy. Hahahaha.
LINDA: Was that a joke?
PRICILLA: Trashy– you know- baby in the trash- God, Linda. I swear, you’ve lost you’re sense of humor.
LINDA: Oh. I just- sorry. My mind’s on other things.
PRICILLA: If only I’d known that the way to keep a man was to let him sleep around on me, make me take care of him and then love him while he treats me like trash. Get it?
PRICILLA: Nevermind. What are you holding?
LINDA: Oh- just some- it’s for the Emily Dickinson box.
PRICILLA: Is it Emily Dickinson?
LINDA: No- it’s just paper.
PRICILLA: Duh. I wasn’t asking if it was the real Emily Dickinson- I think I know the difference between paper and a dead body-
LINDA: No. I didn’t think-
PRICILLA: Of course not- I shouldn’t assume you are ever making a joke. Or getting a joke- or-
LINDA: Pricilla- please don’t talk to me that way. I’m still your boss.
This hits PRICILLA. She stops, takes a long breath. She turns back, with a big fake smile.
PRICILLA: Yes. Of course you are. I apologize. I forgot myself.
LINDA: It’s okay. I know you’ve had a hard time.
LINDA puts the pages in the Hope Chest. PRICILLA busies herself with the stack of clothes.
PRICILLA: The rocks have gone down again.
LINDA: Have they?
PRICILLA: Someone is stealing.
LINDA: But no one’s been in today.
PRICILLA: Are you accusing me of stealing?
LINDA: No! I didn’t even notice that the rocks… Look, honey-
PRICILLA: Please don’t call me honey-
LINDA: I’m sorry- why don’t you take your lunch?
The door chime rings. The ACTRESS enters.
PRICILLA: Hello, may I help you?
ACTRESS: Oh, I’m just looking.
PRICILLA, seeing the ACTRESS, runs over to Linda.
PRICILLA: Oh, my God. That’s that actress… oh… I can’t think of her name…
LINDA: Which? I don’t recognize her?
PRICILLA: I actually hate her work- it’s so… perky.
LINDA: I could’ve sworn she was a waitress over at that Italian joint.
PRICILLA: Actress, waitress, you know- same diff.
ACTRESS: Oh! I love these! Aren’t they darling?
PRICILLA: (To the actress) Yes, they’re very special! All our clothing is special. It all has a history, or as we like to say, a “herstory”.
ACTRESS: Ohhh! (she picks up an item PRICILLA just brought from the back) What’s this one’s “herstory”?
PRICILLA: It was owned by an academic. She became a political prisoner over the right to life.
PRICILLA: You should try it on. I bet it will look amazing on you.
ACTRESS: Okay. Thanks!
The ACTRESS goes into the back room.
LINDA: I’d prefer we don’t say who these are from. I don’t want to lead anyone astray.
PRICILLA: Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make a sale or anything. My bad. Want anything from Koo koo roo?
LINDA: No, thank you.
(PRICILLA leaves. The phone rings. LINDA picks it up.)
LINDA: Oh- Tom! Hi!… What… (she laughs). Oh, come on now… (the AUTHOR enters back into the store, pocketing another rock while LINDA isn’t looking) Okay. I’ll see you tonight. (LINDA, spotting the AUTHOR) Hello, there.
AUTHOR: I saw her leave. To lunch?
AUTHOR: Was that your boyfriend on the phone?
LINDA: I guess you could call him that. How’s Hero?
AUTHOR: Oh… he’s brave. He’s strong. He’s amused. I inspire him to… I don’t know, keep going to work, I guess. He doesn’t really say what I inspire him to do, but you know, being a muse- it’s pretty… well, I’m getting a lot of good writing done. That’s the main thing.
LINDA: Good for you.
AUTHOR: I just wanted to come back and make sure you understood- I’m going to pay my debt to Herstory.
LINDA: Don’t worry. It’ll all work out, I’m sure. You don’t get into the business of herstory without expecting things to get—torn apart. (She looks out front, seeing PRICILLA enter DS ) Oh- go, quick, get in the back room, she’s coming back-
LINDA: Quick, hide!
The AUTHOR runs into the backroom. The ACTRESS is in there- admiring her outfit- she lets out a cry but the AUTHOR covers her mouth.
AUTHOR: (whisper) Sorry- please- this is a matter of life or death.
The ACTRESS nods like she understands. She puts her ear to the door, holding the AUTHOR’S hand like they are in it together.
The door chimes ring as PRICILLA enters back into the store.
PRICILLA: I forgot my purse!
Pricilla moves toward the back room.
LINDA: Oh- didn’t you put it under here?
PRICILLA: No- I-
LINDA: Here it is!
LINDA: Here, in this stack of clothes. It’s underneath the Sale Items… behind the gun.
PRICILLA: Weird. Why would I put it there?
LINDA: You didn’t- I did. I thought- where’s a safer place for a purse than behind a gun?
PRICILLA goes over to look through the Sale Items.
ACTRESS: Who are you?
AUTHOR: An unknown artist.
ACTRESS: I am an actress. I give life and flesh and breath and voice to other people’s ideas. I become those parts. I just want to act. I just want something to say, that’s good to say. Or if not that, I just want to make some money. I just want other people to know who I am. An actress. A real actress. Someone who makes pretend real- so everyone can see it.
AUTHOR: I know how you feel.
ACTRESS: I just want people to see me as that role. To see me for who I really am. That part.
AUTHOR: Which part?
ACTRESS: I don’t know yet. I haven’t had it yet. Someone has to give it to me.
AUTHOR: I can give it you.
ACTRESS: You can?
AUTHOR: I think so. I guess. I don’t know. Don’t you ever feel like it doesn’t ever matter- like it’s just nothing-
The bell rings.
A-C girls walk in.
PRICILLA: I hate these girls. I wish I could take them out back and shoot them.
LINDA: (to Pricilla) I know- I’ll ask them to leave- (to the girls) I don’t think this store is for you-
A: For us?
B: What do you mean
C: For ‘you’ who?
LINDA: You. A gaggle of giggling girls.
This sends all three girls into peals of laughter.
They run out. The doors chime.
The PARROT squawks: Pretty bird.
LINDA: Did you hear that? (She runs over to the cage) Pretty Bird! Pretty Bird!
PRICILLA: Oh, that’s right- I remember I put it- (Pricilla finds her purse, it is under the counter) (to Linda) Why’d you say you put it behind the gun?
LINDA: I thought I did.
PRICILLA: Okay, whatever. I’m going… (she looks at the rock pile) The rocks are down again.
AUTHOR: I know how it feels-when I write- it just spills- alphabet soup-
ACTRESS: I don’t know what you mean.
AUTHOR: It has no weight- they’re just words. 900 pages I could fit into a box- and I stop breathing and be buried in dirt and eaten by the worms and the words would just still be there on the page. People could forget how to read English. Everything could burn down. People could not understand what I meant when I wrote them-
ACTRESS: I don’t understand what your saying now.
AUTHOR: I can make you understand. (The author touches the actresses forehead). Not here. (The author touches the actresses hands) Not here. (The author touches the actresses’ belly.) But here. In your guts. Where you create.
ACTRESS: I don’t understand.
AUTHOR: Let me show you.
PRICILLA leaves with the chimes as the AUTHOR kisses the ACTRESS.
Lights down at Herstory.
Lights up on PRICILLA, at a coffee shop. A BOY BARISTA (BB) attends to her.
PRICILLA: Let me have a… just a regular drip with milk.
BB: Okay- that’ll be $2.00. You get the milk yourself- it’s at the coffee station.
PRICILLA: Yeah- of course. Free milk. Of course, maybe I don’t want the nasty-ass milk that’s been sitting out.
BB: Oh, it’s completely sealed in a stainless steel thermos so that it maintains a cold temperature.
PRICILLA: I was making a… metaphor.
BB: Oh. That’s be $2.00.
PRICILLA: $2.00 for a fucking cup of coffee…
She hands him a pile of change.
BB: Thank you, have a nice day.
PRICILLA: Where’s the coffee?
BB: Oh, she’s getting it- let me just help this next customer in line.
PRICILLA: There is no next customer in line-
BB: uh- Have a nice day…
PRICILLA reaches across the counter and grabs the BOY BARISTA by his apron.
PRICILLA: Now you listen to me, punk. I know what you’re thinking. Is this lady crazy or just pissed off. Well, truth be told in all the confusion, I don’t know any more. Maybe both. But what you need to ask yourself is… why am I biting your head off?
BB: Why are you biting my head off?
She releases his apron. She starts to cry.
PRICILLA: Because I have no hope. My heart’s been broken, and I have no love or hope in my heart.
BB: “Hope is a thing with feathers.”
PRICILLA: Wait a second-
The light changes, the BOY BARISTA comes from behind the counter, with the coffee, which he hands to PRICILLA.
BB: Your Café Au Lait-
PRICILLA: thank you-
BB: And just allow me to say- “that Hope is a thing with feathers” and “Go Ahead, Make my day.” Do you remember back in high school, sitting in AP English? You’d been dumped by your boyfriend, so you were feeling Single-ish, but then the jock from around the block asked you to go steady- and you smiled and said, well maybe, let’s see, maybe when I’m ready, maybe if you bring me a let’s go steady ring- and you were reading Emily Dickinson and Hope began to sing.
The BOY BARISTA kisses her hand and goes back behind the counter.
PRICILLA: I never liked Emily Dickinson. She doesn’t rhyme right.
PRICILLA walks out, with her coffee. The light follows her.
“’Hope’ is a thing with feathers-/that perches in the soul-/ And sings the tune without words-/and never stops-at all-/ And sweetest-in the gale-is heard-/And sore must be the storm-/That could abash the little Bird/That kept so many warm-/I’ve heard it in the chillest land-/And on the strangest Sea-/Yet, never in Extremity,/ It asked a crumb- of Me.”
Lights up on Herstory. The bells chime as PRICILLA walks back into Herstory. Linda and Tom are in the center of the store. TOM has a feather boa around his neck, he is batting his eyelashes and being flirty. LINDA is laughing.
LINDA: Oh, hi Pricilla.
TOM: Hey, silly.
PRICILLA: I hate that nickname.
TOM: Hey, Priss?
PRICILLA: My name’s Pricilla.
LINDA: We’re going to lunch.
PRICILLA: Have fun.
TOM and LINDA leave the store (CHIMES). PRICILLA is left alone.
PRICILLA: “’Hope’ is a thing with feathers.”
The PARROT squawks.
PRICILLA walks over to its cage.
PRICILLA: Pretty bird… pretty bird…
(She takes the parrot from the cage, speaking to it in a baby voice.)
Say something. Pretty bird… “Yet, never in Extremity,/ It asked a crumb- of Me.” Polly, want a cracker?
The bird says nothing. It is after all, stuffed.
PRICILLA bites off its head. It bleeds.
To Be Continued…
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.