MAISIE’S DEAD: Act One, SCENE 2

Maisie’s  Dead: A Comedic Tale of Love and Marriage

Copyright © 2007 by William D. Coffey, All rights reserved

 

 

Act One, SCENE 2:   Previous Sunday night, the kitchen

 

THE PREVIOUS SUNDAY EVENING. The kitchen of Frieda and John’s house, anywhere in the American midwest. A kitchen table with three chairs is at downstage center.  Other props include a standard telephone, a coffeepot, a radio playing pleasant background music.  Frieda washes dishes, John dries.  They feel romantic.

 

 

 

 

JOHN

Frieda dear, your chicken cacciatore was really good.  You must do that again.

 

FRIEDA

Thank you, John darling.

 

JOHN     [he is suggestively smiley, romantic]

Kinda sets the tone for the rest of the evening, h-m-m …?    Sunday night special?

 

FRIEDA

You’re sweet.  Do you think it should have more zing?

 

JOHN

What?  The Sunday night special?

 

FRIEDA

No, silly, the chicken!

 

JOHN

Yes!  Here’s to more zing in the chicken – and the Sunday night special!

 

FRIEDA

Why, m’Lord John, whatever suggestive thing can you possibly mean by that, h-m-m?

[gives him a brief playful kiss]

 

[PHONE RINGS; John crosses kitchen to answer ]

[Frieda switches to drying so she can eavesdrop ]

 

JOHN

Hello … yes … who? …     Sweetie, turn down the radio please…    [she does]

Yes, I was…   Oh, I’m very sorry to hear that …  She did? …  Really … ME?

Well, I do sorta wonder… why me? …  When did she die?

 

FRIEDA         [stops dishes; focused on John]

Who died?

 

JOHN

…Lake Michigan?  How awful!  But why did she name me?

 

FRIEDA      [she turns the radio off]

John, who died?  Named you for what?  Who’re you talking to?

 

JOHN        [answers absently]:   

He says my wife died….

 

FRIEDA

JOHN, I’M YOUR WIFE!

 

JOHN

… Well, I’m sure sorry, but…   OK, I’ll see what I can arrange.  Where can I call you? … Well, if I leave any news will they pass it on to you?

 

FRIEDA

[she gradually builds angst through remainder of scene]

Arrange whatWho diedWho is that, John?   What is going on

 

JOHN

Yeah, she sure did.  All right, sir.  Thanks for the … warning … I guess.

[slowly hangs up phone, stares at nothing, fidgets with his dishtowel.]

 

FRIEDA

Warning?  Warning about what?  John, are you going to tell me what that call was all about?   AND WHO DIED?  You said your wife died.  That’s what you said!

 

JOHN     [flustered]

… Oh, I’m sorry darling.  Those were his words – a bit odd, I think. That call was just so totally unexpected.  Maisie’s dead.  That was her husband calling to tell me.

 

FRIEDA

Maisie?  You mean that…?

 

JOHN

Yes, dear.  That great folly of my youth.  The brief marriage I pretend never happened.

 

FRIEDA

Well, I appreciate being your first real wife!  You say she died? Why did he call to tell you?  Why would he think you’d want to know?  You never talk about her, so I really don’t know much …. only that it didn’t last very long…

 

JOHN

Only seven months.  Then one day she just… disappeared.

 

FRIEDA

So … did you … love her?  Who wanted the divorce?

 

JOHN

She did.  …Well, no, actually I did.  I don’t think she much cared one way or the other.  She simply got tired of me and moved on.  I got the divorce, and paid for it.

 

FRIEDA

I asked did you love her?

 

JOHN

Oh, I thought so at the time. What do you know when you’re only nineteen years old? My experience with women was mainly hayrides and a little hot-cha after ball games.

 

FRIEDA

Was she much older than you?

 

JOHN

No.  Same age.  But she seemed older.  Maisie grew up here, but in her early teens her family moved to Chicago.  When they came back a few years later she …  well, she’d changed a lot, and she created havoc in our little social scene.  She made no bones of the fact she was looking for a husband.  She went through the local boys and picked me.

 

FRIEDA

Why?

 

JOHN

I’ll never know why.  I was overwhelmed.  With Maisie, I never had a chance.

 

FRIEDA

So you didn’t really love her?

JOHN       [seeing the light ]

Huh?  Oh … No!… Certainly not.  Of course not!

 

FRIEDA

Well, fine, just fine.  I still want to know why her husband called you!

 

JOHN          [fidgets, embarrassed]

Uh … well … it seems like … well…   she named me in her will…

 

FRIEDA

What!?  Why would she leave something to you, after – what?  — three decades?

 

JOHN           [uncomfortable]

Uh … she didn’t leave me anything, uh….  She wanted me to do something.

 

FRIEDA

Do something? John, must I drag out every piece of this?  What did she want you to do?

 

JOHN

Well, it seems she wanted me to arrange a memorial service.  To celebrate her life…

 

FRIEDA

Celebrate her life?  Why?  You don’t know anything about her life!   Do you!?

 

JOHN

No.  Of course not.  As I understand it, Maisie wanted a memorial service to take place in her old home town.  And she wanted it to be held at – quote – “a decent place.

 

FRIEDA     [taken aback]

… a decent place? …

 

JOHN

Exactly.  The will says I should find a decent place.  Don’t you think that’s odd?

 

FRIEDA     [tics off points on her fingers]

It’s all odd!  Let me get this straight, John.   This  … woman …  wants you, her brief child-husband, to select a decent place   – what a mindset!! —    here in our town, for a memorial service, that is to be a celebration of her life – which you know nothing about after your youthful misadventure ended.  Have I got it right, John?  Odd!?  I don’t think odd can touch this!  Isn’t it odd she would even assume you still live here in this town after all these years?  How would she know that?

 

JOHN

Honey, I don’t know!  I never saw her again after she left.  I’ve never heard from her, or about her, in all these years.  This guy – her husband – just said she wanted me to arrange a memorial service because … well…

 

FRIEDA      [hands on hips]

Well, what?!!

 

JOHN

What he said she said – in her will – was…  John is a responsible person and I know he can be depended on to see that it gets done right.  Or words to that effect.  In her will, I mean.  According to her husband.  What he said she said.

 

FRIEDA

You, not him.  Not her own husband.  Amazing she would think so very highly of you after all these many years!  Is that all?

 

JOHN

Uh, actually, not quite.  In her will she said “…unlike all those others I was married to.”

 

FRIEDA      [pause] 

All those others…?

 

JOHN

That’s what he said she said.  Her husband, I mean.  In her will, I mean.

[Long pause.  They stare at each other.]

 

FRIEDA

What’s his name?

 

JOHN

Clyde.

 

FRIEDA

Clyde what?

 

JOHN

I forgot.

 

FRIEDA

You don’t even know his name?  How can you call him back?

 

JOHN

I’m not sure.  He said he’s staying at some place called The Lighthouse.

 

FRIEDA

Lighthouse?  That sounds like a flophouse.

 

JOHN

I got the impression that’s what it is.  He said it’s in Chicago.  When I asked about a phone number he sorta changed the subject.

 

FRIEDA

Well…is he planning to come here? … for this … memorial service you’re to arrange?

 

JOHN

I… guess so…I forgot to ask…

[another pause.  They stare at each other, thinking.]

 

FRIEDA

Are you going to do it?

 

JOHN

Do what?

 

FRIEDA

What she said.  In her will, I mean.  This … memorial service.  To celebrate her life.

 

JOHN

Well … I guess so…  I mean…  a last request like that … how could I not do it?  I did sorta tell him that I’d  … uh …   arrange something.

[he turns radio back on and returns to sink]

Frieda…Honey … let’s go back to where we were before the phone rang.  Just finish our dishes.  Put that happy “zing” back into our sweet Sunday evening.

 

FRIEDA    [turns radio back off, crosses arms]

Do you think we can do that?

 

…to be continued…

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