MAISIE’S DEAD: Act One, SCENE 4

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

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

 

Act One, SCENE 4:   Thursday morning, the senior apartment

 

Jessie’s apartment.  She, Maud and Germaine sit around the card table, having tea.  The phone rings, Jessie stretches to lift receiver.

 

 

 

 

JESSIE

Hello?

FRIEDA   [voice over speakerphone]

Mama, it’s us.  Buzz the door and let us in.

 

JESSIE

Oh!… OK, come on in…          [to Maud and Germaine]       It’s Frieda and John.  They’re coming to visit.       [she hangs up and picks up her tea]

 

MAUD

I didn’t hear the buzzer.  Did you unlock the front door?         [phone rings again]

 

JESSIE    [stretches to receiver again]

Hello?…

FRIEDA   [voice over speakerphone]

Mama, press the buzzer!  You forgot to unlock the door again!

 

JESSIE

Oh!…  haha … Sorry ‘bout that!       [audible buzz as she presses phone button]

 

GERMAINE

Better watch that.  She’ll worry that you’re getting Alzheimer’s.

 

JESSIE

Fiddlefaddle.  Frieda worries over me too much.

MAUD

Well, you need to see things from her point of view.  There isn’t a month goes by that we don’t have apartments in this building vacated by a stroke… or dementia … or … whatever…   The turnover rate around here could depress you if you let it.

 

GERMAINE

All the more reason to live a full life every day, I say.

 

JESSIE

Hear, hear.     [John & Frieda enter]     Hello dears, will you join us for tea?

 

FRIEDA

No thank you, I’m not in the mood this morning.  We just stopped by to check on you.

 

JESSIE

And what is it about me you’re checking on?   By the way, how’s the funeral shaping up?

 

FRIEDA

Ask John.  It’s his project.

 

JOHN

You mean the memorial service.  Well, I suppose it will happen Saturday.  I don’t know what the will meant by a “decent” place, but I’ve been all over town trying to find one.  Funeral homes want a fortune per hour, forget that.  And I’ve been surprised at how many public gathering places smell like stale beer, or just look … not decent.

 

MAUD

Why don’t you use ours?

JOHN

Your what?

MAUD

Our social room.  Right here in Mayflower Senior Apartments.  It’s pretty decent.

 

JOHN

I hadn’t thought of that.  You think it might do?

 

GERMAINE

Of course it’ll do.  We hold all our wild senior parties in there.  Has running water and a real ice box. Only thirty dollars an hour and you can crowd a hundred people in there.  How many mourners are you expecting?  I mean, besides yourself?

FRIEDA      [irritated]

Oh come on, Germaine, John’s just being a nice guy because the will asked him to!

 

JOHN

Well now, there’s another little problem.  I have no idea how many will attend.  We

haven’t found any surviving relatives.  Just a couple more ex-husbands… so far.

 

FRIEDA

Tell them about “all those others.”

 

MAUD

All those other whats?

 

JOHN     [uncomfortable]

In her will, Maisie specified that the memorial service should be arranged by me, because — she said — I’m “responsible and can be depended on to see that it gets done right.”   And then she said “…unlike all those others I was married to.”

 

JESSIE

In heaven’s name…

 

MAUD & GERMAINE

How many others?

 

JOHN

I don’t know.  I’ve asked Ben Smith to help me find out who these “others” are.

 

GERMAINE

Is Smith that lawyer who came here from Chicago last year?

 

FRIEDA

He’s the one.  The one who charges quite well for his time.  John’s going to pay his bill … like the nice guy he is.            [she strokes his cheek]

 

MAUD

Didn’t this Maisie person leave any money to pay for such things?

 

JOHN

Nobody knows.  She might have left money in a bank – or buried in a coffee can.  Smith is checking that too, while he’s searching for her ex-husbands – however many that is.

 

JESSIE

Can he actually do that?  I mean, trace unknown people back more than thirty years?

 

JOHN

Probably.  He says people don’t just disappear like they used to.  He says they always leave paper trails that can be traced if you know how.

 

MAUD

People don’t disappear, huh?  I hear this Maisie didn’t even leave a body to bury.

 

JOHN

Yes, lawyer Smith already confirmed that.  Apparently she was on somebody’s cabin cruiser out in the middle of Lake Michigan.  A big storm came up, and the boat sank.

 

MAUD

What a terrible way to go.

 

GERMAINE

Or glorious, depending on how you look at it.  Like I’ve said, live every day…

 

FRIEDA    [interrupting, a tad sarcastic]

John, we must get home.  I feel a deep need to carry out garbage and scrub floors.

 

JOHN

All right.  I’ll stop by later and check out that social room.  Maybe I’ll bring Clyde along.

 

GERMAINE

Who’s Clyde?

 

JOHN

He’s the bereaved husband who called us Sunday evening and started this whole thing.

 

FRIEDA

He’s staying in our barn room.  And he loves tuna salad.

 

JESSIE

Thanks for dropping by to “check on me.”  Just remember, Honey, this Maisie person left town a long time ago, and John’s been yours for more than thirty years now.

 

FRIEDA

I know, Mama.  But I still feel like I want to scrub something.  Everything feels … soiled.

 

JOHN

Frieda, this will all be over soon and we’ll be back to normal.  Bye everyone.  [they exit]

 

MAUD

Well isn’t she in a tizzie.

 

JESSIE

She does not like being reminded that she wasn’t the first woman in John’s life.

 

MAUD

I hear this Maisie was quite something.

 

JESSIE

Apparently yes.  She may have been only nineteen years old when she hooked John, but they say she was already quite accomplished with men.

 

GERMAINE

Sounds like she kept her talents in good shape.  What’s this about a string of husbands?

 

JESSIE

Isn’t that a fine question!  What if this lawyer Smith finds two or three more?  Do you suppose they might all actually come here for this memorial service?

 

MAUD

And what if they all stayed in John and Frieda’s barn?!  They might have to.  The only lodging in town is those scrungy little cabins down by the bus station.

 

JESSIE

That is John’s problem. He’s the one paying the lawyer to find all of that woman’s husbands and invite them to come here.  He’s the one who’s going to have to deal with it.

 

MAUD

He’s going to have to deal with Frieda too.  Seems like she’s building up steam.

 

JESSIE

And deal with Frieda.  If she blows.   Scratch that.   When she blows.

 

 

…to be continued…

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