MAISIE’S DEAD: Act 1, SCENE 1

Act One, SCENE 1: Friday afternoon, the senior apartment

 

The small senior apartment of Jessie.  Assumed door location is upstage left side wall.  Seated around a card table placed at upstage right are Jessie (center, facing audience), Maud (back to right wall), and Germaine (facing Maud).  They are playing Scrabble.  A small table with telephone is at “stretching” distance from Jessie.

 

MAUD    [placing Scrabble tiles]

H.. E.. L.. L.. … hell!  Double word score!  Your turn Jessie.

JESSIE

Oh, these letters are no good.  I can’t half think anyway. I keep worrying about Frieda.

MAUD

Was she still in her tizzy when she called this morning?

JESSIE

Oh my yes, about fit to be tied.  She’s already upset over the timing of John’s divorce from this Maisie person.  Now on top of that this jaybird from Mississippi has come in and shot off his mouth.  Maud, I can’t believe this is happening after forty-two years!

MAUD

That’s a long time to hide something from your own daughter. When is she coming over?

JESSIE

Could be any minute.  She said she’d drop by this afternoon.

MAUD

For a town where nothing much happens, this has been an interesting week.

GERMAINE

And all because a woman died.

JESSIE

This situation she and John have been dragged into…    I find it simply amazing how fast things have gone downhill since they got that crazy phone call last Sunday night.  Now here it is Friday — it’s only been six days — and just look what all has happened!  Maud, what am I going to say if she finds out?

MAUD

Good question!  Why do you have this little secret in the first place?  Didn’t you ever try to do something about it?

JESSIE

No.  Albert and I just didn’t see a need to do anything.  Everybody knew we’d been married for years.  Of course, I didn’t mention it to Mama or Daddy – or Frieda, who was only ten years old. No point upsetting people you just know would get upset.

GERMAINE

It’s still your turn, Jessie.  You got a word?

JESSIE

Oh, here!  I have an S.  I’ll just add it to your hell, and make…

MAUD

Shell.

JESSIE

No, the other end.  Hells.

GERMAINE

Plural? I oughtta challenge that on grounds there is only one such place.

JESSIE

Germaine, that depends on how good or bad your life is right here right now.

MAUD

That’s right, Germaine.  My father used to say “Forty hells” when things went wrong.

JESSIE

John and Frieda may be all in a dither, but Albert would find their situation just too funnyOh my dear Albert, heaven must be awfully good with you in it…

 

GERMAINE   [studying her tiles and the board]

I can’t believe this.

MAUD

Can’t believe what?

JESSIE

Frieda is so mad at poor John … as if he’d caused it.  Four down-and-out strangers living in their barn!  And Frieda feels obligated has to feed these guys.  She certainly doesn’t need my little secret exposed on top of everything else she’s dealing with. She can go along so calm, for months, and then – shazam – suddenly she’s a ball of fury!

 

She was all tense when she called this morning.  Another one of those good-for-nothings arrived last night, from Iuka, Mississippi!  Said he used to work in the justice of the peace office, and he has got some awful story she must tell me!  Said she must come over here, today, can’t talk about it over the phone!  Isn’t it an ab-surd coincidence that this fellow should show up here like this? This situation is just too close for comfort! What if …

MAUD

Stop it, Jessie!  A body can what-if a thing to death.  How could this guy possibly remember some obscure little incident way back in the nineteen fifties?

JESSIE

Oh, I know you’re right, Maud.  That’s what it is — ob-scure!  Old dusty records boxed away in some ob-scure old Mississippi courthouse.  They didn’t even use computers in the fifties … did they?  There’s absolutely no way she could ever find out from this guy…

GERMAINE      [triumphant, placing her letters]

W-e-l-l-l, looky here!     …U  …C

MAUD

Oh, Germaine, you’re so wicked!  [giggles]

GERMAINE      [gleeful]

K !!  Ha!  No goody-goodies around here!  Triple word score!  Let’s see you top that!

MAUD

What if somebody walks in and sees that!  We’ll be the scandal of these apartments!

JESSIE    [looks at her wrist watch]

My Frieda was always kind of a goody-goody.  She was shocked at my role in Beavertail Playhouse last year.  I said “damn” four times in one scene.  I doubt Frieda has said “damn” four times in her whole life.  [notices Germaine’s  -U-C-K]   Germaine!

GERMAINE

Don’t forget to count my triple word score.

JESSIE      [tallying final Scrabble score]

If you don’t beat all!  Your hormones have outlived their time.  I do believe you’d seduce that curlyheaded laundry man if you ever caught him alone.  And you eighty years old. And telling me I ought to have a loverMe?  Ridiculous! You must be crazy.

GERMAINE

Why not?  You still have a nice butt, and you’re only seventy-four.

MAUD

Well my seventy-fifth is history, and I think he’s kinda cute too.

JESSIE

I never know what either one of you will say nextOr spell out on a Scrabble board!

GERMAINE

Game’s not over yet.  No telling what else might happen.

JESSIE

This problem’s not over yet either!  Neither one of you would have a secret like mine in the first place — you’d both blab it and there’d be nothing to hide for forty-two years.  Oh, I just hate the impli-ca-tions of that woman Maisie — that floozie… and her…her wretched pile of husbandsI wish I could just fly back to last Sunday night and erase that damned phone call!

 

[Mysterious “cascading” music is heard, suggesting going back in time to Sunday night]

 

…to be continued…

*          ©          *

…a new posting will follow in one week…

 

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