MAISIE’S DEAD: Act One, SCENE 3

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

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

 

Act One, SCENE 3:   Wednesday night, the kitchen

 

John sits at the table with paperwork.  Frieda putters around the sink. 

A knock at the door is heard.

 

 

 

 

FRIEDA

Who on earth would be knocking at the back door here after dark?

 

JOHN

I’ll get it.    [he rises and looks out door]      Hello, can I help you?

 

CLYDE’S VOICE

I’m Clyde.  I called you Sunday night.

 

JOHN

Oh yes…  ah, Maisie’s husband, right?

 

CLYDE’S VOICE

Right.  All right if I come in?

 

JOHN

Oh, sure — come in.  You got here pretty quick.  Did you drive from Chicago?

 

CLYDE         [entering]

Naw, rode a bus.  And t’weren’t quick.  Takes a bus ten times longer to go anywhere.  Man, that’s a long ride.  My butt’s flat.

 

JOHN

You rode a bus all the way from Chicago?

 

CLYDE

Must of stopped two hunnerd damn times.  Say, reckon I could borry somethin’ to eat?

 

FRIEDA

We…ah… have some tuna salad left over… You’re welcome to “borry” it.

 

CLYDE

I love tuna salad.  Just kiddin about the borry. That’s a old hobo jungle word I learnt from my uncle.  Man gives you some of his beans, you all’es say you’re borryin’ em, like as if you was gonna pay em back.  Only you never do, see?  When’s this funeral for Maisie?

[Frieda sets about making a tuna sandwich]

 

JOHN

It’s to be a memorial service.  Well, uh… I hope we can have it this Saturday.  I’m trying to find a “decent” place for it.  And, I still don’t know how many may attend.

 

CLYDE

Might be a crowd.

FRIEDA        [he has her attention]

Why do you say that?

 

CLYDE

What Maisie said in her will.  “All them others,” she said.  And I say, says I, what others? She never told me about no damn bunch of others.  All I know is I got this envelope Maisie hands me when we’re married, says don’t ever open it ‘less she’s died.  I tell her no doubt I’ll check out before she does.  But I don’t, see.  Man comes t’other day tellin me they think Maisie’s drownded on Lake Michigan.  Hell of a thing, know what I mean?

 

FRIEDA

Oh, that must have been dreadful.

 

CLYDE

Yeah it was.  Awful.  So I open the envelope, like she said to do.  First thing I see it says call my first husband, John, he lives in this town and here’s his phone number.  Hullo, says I, she never mentioned no John before.  Anyways, you know the rest.  Except “all them others.”  Who in hell, I ask, is all them others she’s talkin’ about?

 

JOHN

That’s a good question.  I’ve engaged a lawyer to search for any of Maisie’s relatives who might want to attend.  There’s none living here in town anymore.  He told me today

he’s located two other men who were married to Maisie, and he’s going to notify them about the memorial service.

 

CLYDE

Two more, huh?  Countin’ you and me, that makes four.  Kindly pisses me off.

 

FRIEDA

What?  Why?

 

CLYDE

I mean, I knew she weren’t no spring chicken.  I knew she had a life ‘fore she met me, but it’s just the way she said it.  “All them others.” What’s “all?”  Don’t it make you wonder?

 

FRIEDA        [serves sandwich to Clyde]

Yes, it does actually.  How long were you married to her?

 

CLYDE

Seven years ‘til she disappeared.  Say, you got anything to drink with that?

 

FRIEDA

We have some milk.  And water, of course.

 

CLYDE              [taken aback — he looks at her]

Milk… and water!?   Uh…  water’ll be ok … I guess.          [Frieda serves water]

 

JOHN

You say she disappeared on Lake Michigan.  Please accept our condolences, and…

 

CLYDE

That ain’t the “disappeared” I’m talkin’ about.  I’m talkin’ about when she disappeared seven months ago.  Old snowy day, colder’n hell.  Right there at the corner Jiffy Mart.  Went in for just a minute to get bread and beer.  You wanta go too?, I says.  No, she says, I’ll just wait here in the warm car. So here I come with bread and beer, and no Maisie.

 

FRIEDA

My goodness!  What happened?  Did you suspect foul play?

 

CLYDE

Did at first.  Called the cops.  Didn’t do no good.  Kindly pissed me off — them precinct cops about as sympathetic as a coal shovel, and me standin’ there all broken hearted and cold as a reindeer’s…      Say, you got any more of that tuna fish to spare?

 

FRIEDA      [hands him the bowl, spoon in it]

Here, just finish it off if you like.

CLYDE

Thanky ma’am.  Can I get a refill on that water?  No, make it milk this time.  [she does]

 

JOHN

Where are you staying, Clyde?  By the way, I didn’t catch your last name…?

 

CLYDE

Pickins. They’s a mountain down in north Georgia named after my family, the Pickins’es.  My great granddaddy Pickens owned the whole mountain.  Steep as a elephant’s butt, woods all over, couldn’t farm three feet of it.  Got a great big bluff on one side. The whole bottom has fell out from under that bluff and fell in the river.  What’s left looks like this hu-mongous nose stickin out on the side of the mountain.  People call it Pickins nose.  Ain’t that a hoot?!!     [pause]    I ain’t got nowhere to stay.  They want a arm and a leg for them fancy cabins down at the bus stop, and I’m runnin’ a little short.  You got any ideas on where a man might stay in this town?  I mean just till Maisie’s funeral?

 

JOHN

Well… not really…  Those cabins by the bus stop are the cheapest thing I know of. They’re the only thing I know of.  This is a small town, there’s not any hotel.

 

FRIEDA

John…

 

JOHN

Yes dear?

 

FRIEDA

What about that guest room you built out in the barn?

 

JOHN

Oh, I don’t know about that… Mr. Pickins – Clyde – wouldn’t want to stay in a barn…

 

CLYDE

Stay in a heartbeat.  Slept in barns before.  Barn’ll be fine.  Beats hell outta them pricey cabins.  You got a blanket out there?

 

FRIEDA

Yes, plenty.  There’s a couch that folds out to make a bed, even a rug on the floor.  You’re welcome to stay there if you like – isn’t he John, hmm?   [caresses John’s cheek]

 

JOHN     [taken aback]

Why… yes… sure… make yourself at home…

 

CLYDE

Saturday you say?  Only three days till the funeral then.

 

JOHN

Maisie asked for a “memorial” service, not a funeral.

 

CLYDE

What’s the difference if she’s dead?

 

JOHN

Well… a funeral is – you know – flowers, preacher, cemetery… all that.  It lays the dead to rest.  A memorial service focuses on the person’s life.  And it’s usually family and friends, not preachers, who stand up and speak about the person’s life.

 

CLYDE

No kiddin’?  You mean I could talk about Maisie my self?

 

JOHN

Sure.  A memorial service lets people tell about happy times in the person’s life.

 

CLYDE

Well!  Hadn’t thought about that!  Maisie left quite a bit that’s worth talkin’ about, believe you me.  I better go think what I’m goin’ to say. Which way is that barn?

 

JOHN

Straight out the back door and down the gravel path.  There’s a light, you can’t miss it.

 

CLYDE

It’s me for sleep then.  Keep the bedbugs tight.  See you tomorrow, right?         [he exits]

[pause — John and Frieda stare at each other a long moment]

 

JOHN

See us tomorrow, right!  You just set a bad precedent.  How much tuna fish do we have?

 

FRIEDA

Well what would you have had me do?  The man acted like he was starving!  He’s clearly broke.  And that barn room hasn’t been used since you built it.

 

JOHN

This isn’t the sort of use I planned on.

 

FRIEDA

I hope you have the next three days planned a little better.  If this husband is any sample of “all those others,” you’re going to have a unique crowd. Are you prepared for that?

 

JOHN

I wasn’t prepared for any of this!  Do you think I’m enjoying this?  Everybody in town has heard about my predicament. I can’t cross the street without somebody making a dumb remark and a ha-ha-ha that doesn’t strike me as funny at all!  Everybody but me seems to find this funny.  Well,  I!  Do!  Not!  Find!  It!  Funny!

 

FRIEDA

Well it’s no fun for me either!  When I cross the street they don’t say a word, they just glance my way and grin! How do you think that makes me feel?  Your first wife is really getting under my skin, John!

JOHN

Frieda…darling…we may as well try to grin and bear this, it’s better than getting upset at each other.  Three more days — it’ll all be over and Clyde will be gone.

 

FRIEDA

I certainly hope so!  In the meantime, what’s going to happen about “all those others?”

 

 

…to be continued…

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