Among Amazons

AMONG AMAZONS

1985, 2002 and 2009 by Louise Richardson

This is a musical play in which there are no songs, as such. Music drives dance and drama, and underscores recited poetry.

Dramatis Personae

This show calls for a large cast but, perhaps twenty versatile performers can pull it off. Most parts lend themselves to blind casting, ethnically. Specific types are indicated for certain characters. The parts should be played sympathetically, not in a campy way at all. For this reason, I would cast a woman in the part of LAURA but I wouldn't make that a hard and fast rule, so long as she is portrayed in a believeable manner, enough for suspension of disbelief, anyway. With that criterion in mind, perhaps some non-transsexual characters could be cast according to opposite gender choices. If the production is bold enough, all casting could be on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis, gender-wise.

Laura and Family

LAURA SABINAL

a young transsexual woman in her late twenties, tends to wear woolen jumpers over turtle necks; hispanic or native american or anglo -hispano-native american combination

LAURA'S MUSE (dancer)

LAURA's alter ego, the fantasy LAURA and her inspiration, a dancer seen in low light, silhouette, and usually at a great distance during scene transitions and anytime a poem, always accompanied by music, is recited.

LAURA'S MUSE (singer)

a singer representing LAURA's inner voice: soprano, soaring and lyrical, heard every time the dancing MUSE dances.

FATHER

LAURA's father. Only heard as a voice in LAURA's dreams. (mid to late 50's)

MOTHER

LAURA's mother. Seems aloof and disapproving. She probably is. (early to mid-50's)

CHIEF

the idealized image of LAURA's great-great-grandfather, a Comanche warrior (any age)

Alice and Company

ALICE SUTTER

an older, perhaps somewhat less feminine transsexual, given to wearing pantsuits in 1970's-only colors; white (mid-30's to early 40's)

NICOLE MASON

a beautiful, more street-wise, transsexual whose wardrobe and hair style are from the mid-1960's; has a New York or other very urban sort of accent (late 20's to early 30's)

ALICE GEARY

ALICE SUTTER's best friend, a genetic woman, slightly overweight, almost a bookend for the other ALICE physically, but dresses better (mid-30's to early 40's)

SANDY EDDY

a stunningly beautiful transsexual woman, confident, successful, everything LAURA wants to be (late 20's to early 30's)

TIFFANY O'FARRELL

a self-styled "professional" transsexual, perhaps a little over made-up, wears Joan Crawford-like business suits; white (early to mid- 40's)

Terry's Family

TERRY

LAURA's apartment house manager, lesbian, a tough facade masks a vulnerable human being; white (early to mid-40's)

ARVIS

TERRY's even tougher lover and roommate, lesbian, also known as "The Dutchman" (early to mid-40's)

JAMEY

TERRY's straight but troubled teenage daughter (mid to late-teens)

Lynnette's Circle

LYNNETTE POWELL

a well-coiffed, well made-up, well manicured, thin transsexual, wears short outfits in bright country club colors; very white (mid to late 30's)

DR. ANDREA CARSON

LYNNETTE's therapist in Reno, Nevada (mid-30's)

PATIENT

Also known as "Lawrence", LYNNETTE's former male self, played in silhouette by same person as LYNNETTE (early 30's)

PAT

a waitress at "Her Majesty's Restaurant" (early 30's)

The Group

AUDREY

a social worker (mid-20's to 30)

DR. CARLOS DIVISADERO

a South American-born psychologist (early to mid-40's)

KAY INGLESIDE

a transsexual in the therapy group (mid-20's to early 30's)

JAY CHURCH

volatile young transsexual man in the therapy group, extremely young looking; may or may not be Australian; white (early 20's)

KATHLEEN

a transsexual in the therapy group, depressed to the point of inactivity (early to mid-30's)

"The Make"

JEFFREY

LAURA's prospective date, short and shy; white (mid-20's)

BUSINESSMAN

boorish type who tries to pick up LAURA at the bar, white (mid-30's to early 40's)

BOUNCER

big guy, ponytail, lots of tattoos (early to mid-30's)

DAVID

SANDY's DAVID, a typical young grocery store manager (mid-30's)

TYRONE

NICOLE's dancing partner (late twenties to early 30's)

On Television

DR. ROBERT A. JONES

a sleazy, cheaper-by-the-dozen sex-change surgeon (late 40s to mid-50s)

JOHNNY, MERV and TOM

television talk show hosts of the day with last names like Carson, Griffin and Snyder. One talented actor-impressionist could do them all. Only TOM is seen on stage. (40ish)

GUEST

an actor interviewed on JOHNNY's show. He is heard and not seen in the play.

ANNOUNCER

commercial announcer, heard but not seen, male (any age)

The Streets

PUBLISHER

a small-time publisher for "Earthquake Press," male, probably white, probably gay (late 20's to early 30's)

BLACK WOMAN

woman who insults LAURA on the street, African-American (early 30's)

BLACK MAN

husband or boyfriend of the BLACK WOMAN; African-American; he speaks one of the verses of the poem "Ellis Street Suite" (early 30's)

SLASHER

a shadowy figure in a trench coat, a mass murderer; white (thirtyish)

LOONEY

a shadowy figure in a trench coat, not a mass murderer; white (thirtyish)

CHORUS

singers and dancers, people on the streets of San Francisco from all segments of society, representing the City and its streets as characters in the story (all types and ages)

Time: 1977, the Disco Era.

Setting:San Francisco, the Tenderloin District.

The sets are simple, delineated by lighting with just enough furniture and props to establish the action of each scene, and a large open space representing the streets of San Francisco.

ACT I, scene i. The streets of San Francisco. We hear the overture as, gradually, people of various types appear and carry on their business in the streets, passing to and fro. Eventually, the overture becomes the opening chords of the "San Francisco" theme. A single figure, LAURA'S MUSE, dressed in a simple jumper, runs through the crowd, unseen by them, in a sweeping dance of free movement. We hear the voice of the MUSE singing the wordless melody. Downstage lights come up on LAURA, dressed in an identical jumper, lying prone on her bed writing, correcting, and finally reading, a poem from a composition book. Each person in the street, one by one, goes his or her own way and exits while the MUSE continues her dance throughout the poem. At the end of the poem she becomes a silhouette who glides away when the music ends. But first we hear her voice vocalizing wordlessly over the music as LAURA reads.

LAURA
(voiceover)

"San Francisco"

San Francisco, alien city,
Your winds blow warm and cold
Like the faces of your people.
My passions rise and settle
With the drift of your mist.
You have welcomed me wholly
Only to snub me in your streets;
I exist through your benevolence
Yet your whims deny my being.
I am both one with your spirit
And nothing to your numb heart.
I will win you, be assured.
You will love me yet.
I have learned your fickle moods;
They cannot faze me now.
I turn my face to your changing gusts
And bear the wind and the rain.
They cannot erode my new-flowered self;
They cannot erase my naked soul.
I pour and I flow with your elements
Now that I know I'm whole!"

LAURA reads to herself, erasing words and writing into her composition book. She sits up, stands, turns to her night stand, and with her back turned, sets down the composition book on it. We hear a buzzer. LAURA picks up her shoulder strap purse from the bed, turns, slings the strap over her shoulder, steps into a downstage spotlight.

ACT I, scene ii. The streets..

NICOLE
(on offstage microphone)

Who is it?

LAURA

I'm Laura Sabinal. I'm looking for Alice Sutter.

NICOLE

Alice ain't here now, girl.

LAURA

Alice wrote me I could stay with her.

NICOLE

I don't know, girl. We gotta be careful...She'll be back from the market soon, though, if you could wait out there.

LAURA

Okay.

LAURA seems to feel a chill in the air, perhaps some raindrops.

LAURA

Tell Alice I'll find a motel for tonight.

ALICE SUTTER enters behind her in a lime green polyester pantsuit, hugging a telescoping stack of filled grocery bags and scissoring a smoldering cigarette between two fingers. An eye and a brown wig peek out from behind a shaft of celery atop the ziggurat of brown paper. LAURA coughs from the cigarette smoke.

ALICE S.
(with a characteristically congested voice)

You're looking for Alice Sutter?

ALICE steps downstage beside LAURA. LAURA turns to see her.

ALICE S.
(pulling the bags to one side, shifting her wig)

I'm Alice.

LAURA

I'm Laura. You wrote me I could stay with you until I got settled.

ALICE S.

Right. Laura from Texas.

LAURA

New Mexico really. I went to college in Texas.

ALICE S.

Could you push the button again?

LAURA presses an unseen downstage button and we hear another buzz. NICOLE answers.

NICOLE

Yeah?

ALICE S.

It's Alice, Nicole. Can you buzz me in? My arms are full.

NICOLE

Somebody's lookin' for ya.

ALICE S.

I know. She's here with me.

NICOLE

Okay, girl.

ALICE S.

Could you get the door.

LAURA

Sure.

Laura crosses to an unseen door and holds it open. ALICE, the smoke and then Laura pass into the near darkness out of the spotlight. LAURA waves away the cigarette smoke and coughs. We hear a heavy door clunk shut.

ACT I, scene iii. ALICE SUTTER's apartment. We hear the main theme music and see the silhouette of the MUSE upstage center and stretching at sunrise. We hear LAURA's voice reciting the poem "A Short Ego Trip" as people appear in the street beginning a new day in San Francisco. The MUSE runs unseen, weaving quickly through the crowd and exits. LAURA undresses in the dark. Half way through the poem the lights come up on ALICE SUTTER's apartment, consisting of a bed and a night stand. LAURA is in a slip and ALICE in a nightgown. ALICE is sprawled out on her back on the bed, a pantyhose cap on her head and her wig hanging on the bedpost, LAURA's purse hanging from the opposite post. LAURA sits at the edge of the bed writing her poem. We hear her voice reading it as the MUSE enters glidingly and dances the poem. At one point late in the poem ALICE rolls over, forcing LAURA to stand and cross to the chair, which has clothes draped on it.

LAURA
(voiceover)

"A Short Ego Trip"

Sometimes I can't believe I'm real.
I'm so many things to so many,
I wonder what I am to me.
Do I show the thoughts I feel?
Am I what I pretend to be?

Then I can't help but inquire
Of crowds I see go by,
Why they seek their selves en masse,
Why they burn low their inner fires,
And cluster like cattle grazing grass.

At times I think I'm going mad,
But I know my method well,
And I never sigh with envy.
Why long for traits I never had?
What's better than what's in me?

Near the end of the poem ALICE wakes up, sits on the edge of the bed away from LAURA, reaches back across the bed to the night stand for a pack of cigarettes and a book of matches, lights up, puffs, stands, takes her wig from the bed post, pulls it on her head, and adjusts it in an unseen mirror. MUSE fans the smoke, coughs and exits. LAURA begins to cough and coughs again and yet again until she almost can't stop.

ALICE S.

Good morning.

LAURA

Good--(coughs)

LAURA continues to cough, fanning away the smoke, as she gets dressed. She sets the composition book and pen on the chair, dons one of her usual turtleneck sweaters taken from the back of the chair. Then she takes her jumper from the chair and pulls it over her head. She coughs again, collects the composition book and her purse. A small press PUBLISHER pushes a small counter on casters into the near darkness to one side of center stage.

LAURA

I'm sorry. I've got to go. (coughs) See you later. (coughs)

LAURA exits into the darkness beyond ALICE's apartment, coughing. LAURA meets the PUBLISHER center stage. A flier showing the name of "Earthquake Press" is pasted on the counter.

Act I. scene iv. Earthquake Press. LAURA takes a stack of pages from her composition book and hands them to the PUBLISHER. As the lights come up on the front counter of a small press the PUBLISHER is reading LAURA's poem aloud as the MUSE is exercising, using the counter as a ballet barre.

PUBLISHER
(with a mocking tone in his voice)

"I never sigh with envy. Why long for traits I never had? What's better than what's in me?" Are you serious? You rhyme "envy" with "in me?" Dreadful. (hands it back to her) You'd be better off cutting that last verse entirely. Anyway, there's no market for this.

LAURA

I've got other poems. (thumbs through composition book, takes out a loose sheet) Here. (hands it over)

The Muse dances in the background, reacting with LAURA to the PUBLISHER's attitude, only more broadly, sometimes mimicking and mocking the PUBLISHER behind his back.

"Soliloquy Eye"

PUBLISHER
(after a sigh of impatience reads, sometimes haltingly)

So full of myself,
Is there no room in here for someone else?
Am I the beginning and the end of my universe?
If I am not an island,
I must, at least, be a peninsula.
Am I doomed to drown in a flood of introspection?
Or, mayhap, is this existence
Merely a raw apprenticeship,
Initiation for some better calling?
My sense of self worth persists, by God,
And, better still, I know myse1f.
What greater feat is there?
And what if I do interrogate my own soul?
I must surely, therefore, approach the truth.
How many conscious-less bipeds
Have I, incredulous, observed
Shlepping around from day to day,
Never stopping to pursue a thought,
Never wondering "Why?"
And never answering "Why not?"

"Why and Why not?" Wasn't that from a Bobby Kennedy speech? Didn't his brother Teddy quote it at his funeral? And I don't think it originated with Bobby Kennedy either, did it?

LAURA

It's not exactly the same...

PUBLISHER

And you use words like "mayhap" and..."schlepp". Who do you think you are, a jewish Christopher Marlowe? (hands the papers back to her) No, I can't use any of these...I'm not saying you don't have potential. Who knows, in ten or twenty years...No this isn't for our press...Of course, we have a vanity line. For a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars we can print up dozens of copies of whatever you want.

LAURA

No thanks. I'm saving my money for something else.

PUBLISHER
(after looking her up and down)

Of course you are. Well, come back when you have something good, something honest, something really personal--but universal. You know.

LAURA

Thanks anyway. (exits spotlight)

The MUSE shrugs, makes waving motion towards the PUBLISHER as if to say "Forget him, he's impossible." and gracefully exits.

Act I. scene v. LAURA's apartment house, manager's office. We hear knocking on a door as spotlights come up on another area of the stage. TERRY, the tough apartment house manager, dressed in pastel t-shirt and baggy shorts, enters the spotlight.

TERRY
(with tight-lipped caution)

What do you want? You don't live here, do you?

LAURA
(in the dark en route)

I've been staying with Alice Sutter until I can find my own place.

TERRY

Did I know about that? You can't just stay here, you know.

LAURA

That's why I'm here. Do you have any vacancies?

TERRY

Come in.

LAURA steps into spotlight. We hear the voice of ARVIS, TERRY's lover and roommate.

ARVIS
(gruffly)

Where's the goddamned muscatel?

TERRY
(calling back to her)

You know damn well where it is. Come on out here. We've got a new tenant.

ARVIS, dressed in a black "Arvis Trucking" t-shirt with white lettering and baggy plaid shorts, enters the spotlight from the darkness with a tumbler in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other.

ARVIS
(shyly to LAURA)

Hi. (then to TERRY) Well, here's your Dr. Pepper wine cooler.

TERRY

This here's Arvis. And you are...

LAURA

Laura. Laura Sabinal. So you own Arvis Trucking.

ARVIS

No, just work there, mostly loading stuff. (sniffs with pride) But that's why they call me Arvis.

TERRY

Laura's a friend of Alice.

ARVIS

You don't say. (looks LAURA over) Not bad.

TERRY

I think Rhonda would approve.

ARVIS

Should.

LAURA
(nervously)

Well, good.

TERRY

Rhonda's the owner.

ARVIS

One of you people.

TERRY

You ARE one of "you people," aren't ya?

LAURA

Well, I...guess...

TERRY

Got a job?

LAURA

I'm a receptionist at the Tenderloin Counseling Center. I've been there over a month now.

TERRY
(taking a key-ring from her pocket)

We have a vacant studio on the fourth floor. There's no elevator, you know.

LAURA

I know.

ARVIS

I'm outta Camels. I'm goin' to the store. Excuse me.

ARVIS exits past LAURA into the darkness.

TERRY

The Dutchman likes you, and she don't like everybody right off the bat.

LAURA

The fourth floor will be just fine.

TERRY hands her the key. We hear music as LAURA steps into the darkness. Lights come up dimly on ALICE's apartment. LAURA enters, bends down to find a suitcase under the bed, sets it on the bed and opens the suitcase. The MUSE enters with clothes on hangers, glides over to LAURA and hands her the clothes, one hanger at a time. As LAURA places the clothes in the suitcase the MUSE motions to the CHORUS to come over. LAURA closes and snaps the suitcase shut, then dances, twirling slowly with the suitcase in a spotlight away from the bed area while the CHORUS, also dancing, transforms ALICE's room into LAURA's room with a turn of the bed and a change of bedspread. The CHORUS pushes two upholstered chairs to a position down stage, then dances away, the MUSE disappearing in the throng, and LAURA, still dancing, enters her apartment space, sets down the suitcase, and flops on the bed gleefully. She kicks her shoes off, flails her arms and legs in the air with excitement, relaxes and eventually falls asleep as the music continues. LAURA sleeps for a while, sometimes moving into a new configuration, but pleasantly, not restless. The MUSE emerges from behind LAURA's bed. The lighting changes and we see a dream played out in dance with the MUSE as LAURA drifting through the action, while the lights on LAURA's apartment dim to black. Unseen by the audience, LYNNETTE POWELL enters the apartment. She and LAURA sit on the bed in anticipation of the next scene.

Act I. scene vi. LAURA's apartment. In the dream LAURA's MUSE flies, riding sidesaddle in a body suit on a romantically- carved dream horse. The light patterns flowing over the stage give the impression of flying in a dream. Over the music we hear LAURA's amplified voice describing the dream.

LAURA

I have this dream almost every night. I'm floating over the West Texas sands and buffalo grass, riding a beautiful Appaloosa, a mare, I think. I'm riding along side the road I drove in on from El Paso to California. I look to the road and can just make out myself and the car. I inhale the perfume of sagebrush and cactus blossoms as I ride the Appaloosa...naked under the full moon. Up ahead, on a mesa and in full Comanche regalia, stands my great-great-grandfather, the Chief. Of course, he wasn't really a chief, but I don't know that in my dreams. About that time I hear a voice coming from no particular direction...

We hear the voice of LAURA's FATHER.

FATHER

Don't.

LAURA

At first I think it's the Chief speaking, but then I recognize my father's voice.

FATHER

Don't run from who you are!

The MUSE turns toward the CHIEF, who backs away in fading lights. She turns around searching the stage as the music fades away with the dream lights. The lights come up on LAURA's apartment. She and LYNNETTE POWELL are sitting on the bed with a portable cassette player and scattered cassettes between them and a purse in LYNNETTE's lap. LYNNETTE has well-coiffed blond hair and well manicured nails. She wears a short skirt and blouse of bright primary colors, an outfit more appropriate for a country club of the time than for the streets of San Francisco. The MUSE exits dancing.

LAURA

That's as far as it went last time. I got up in the middle of the night and wrote a poem--not a very inspired one, I'm afraid.

LYNNETTE

One about your dream?

LAURA

No, one I've been working on. I took it by Earthquake Press. The guy there didn't like my work. Maybe I'll write about the dream sometime, if I ever figure it out.

LYNNETTE

I know what it's about.

LAURA

You do?

LYNNETTE

It's so obvious: you're undecided.

LAURA
(defensively)

About what?

LYNNETTE

About what? The whole thing: who you are, what you are, what you are going to do. Why else would you be so passive and unassertive?

LAURA

Lynnette, that's just not true. I couldn't be any more sure of myself. I've even said so in my poetry.

LYNNETTE

Sounds like whistling in the dark to me, Laura.

LAURA

What do you mean?

LYNNETTE

Sounds like you're trying to convince yourself. Sounds like you're afraid to face the truth. It's classic, psychologically.

LAURA

I don't think so. I think you're way off-base.

LYNNETTE

That's just the way it looks to me. I've seen it happen with transsexuals before.

LAURA

Well, it's not happening that way to me.

LYNNETTE

Now don't get me wrong. I think you're adorable and you may be well on your way to being a woman. I wouldn't have approached you that day at the Tenderloin Counseling Center if I didn't think you were more than some scurvy transvestite. No. You've got substance, but do you have what it takes to go the distance? Few have.

LAURA
(irritated)

Well I do!

LYNNETTE

Fine. I'm just trying to give you the benefit of my experience...Want to hear another opera tape? I've got highlights from "La Boheme".

LAURA

Some other time...but I enjoyed the arias from "Madame Butterfly". I'm not a big opera fan, but it was good...Do you want to go out for a patty melt like we planned? I can't go far. I want to be on time for my first group session at the counseling center tonight.

LYNNETTE

When?

LAURA

Seven thirty.

LYNNETTE

We have plenty of time. It's not quite six...I know. (reaches into her purse and produces a cassette) I think my experiences would be very instructive to you before you go off to group therapy.

LAURA

What's that?

LYNNETTE

A tape of my therapy sessions back in Nevada.

She removes the opera tape and inserts the therapy cassette into the player.

LAURA

I don't know...

LYNNETTE

It won't be all twenty-eight hours worth, just a few poignant excerpts. You should find them enlightening...And then if I could owe you for the patty melt, we'll go to "Her Majesty's Restaurant" and you can still be on time for your group.

LAURA

I suppose...

LYNNETTE takes her wallet from her purse and finds a photograph in it. She hands it to LAURA.

LYNNETTE

You need to see this first.

LAURA

Who's this?...You don't mean it's you.

LYNNETTE

I wanted you to see what I looked like when this tape was made. (presses the "Play" button on the machine) The other voice is Andrea Carson, my therapist.

The lights fade down by half on LAURA and LYNNETTE.

Act I, scene vii. Dr. Andrea Carson's Office. Reno, Nevada. Two figures are seated in the upholstered chairs as lights come up down stage. The lighting is subdued. We see DR. CARSON's face, but the face of the PATIENT, a young man, is obscured by shadows. LAURA and LYNNETTE step into the set and stand behind the chairs, LYNNETTE behind the PATIENT. We hear LYNNETTE's voice, perhaps in a slightly lower register and somewhat lethargic, when the patient speaks.

ANDREA

Have you thought about the cave lately?

LYNNETTE

Could we...come back to that later?

We hear LAURA's voice cut in.

LAURA

Is that you?

LYNNETTE

Shhhh!

ANDREA

Then what do you want to discuss?

LYNNETTE

I...uh...saw Marsha today. We had a nice talk--polite anyway. She's back in school and living with some student--a male--"platonically" she says.

ANDREA

How do you feel about that?

LYNNETTE

I...don't know. How should I feel? I miss her. She was a friend...

ANDREA

No more, Lawrence? You were married to her for five years.

LAURA

Lawrence? You too?

LYNNETTE

Laura...

The lights fade to black on LAURA and LYNNETTE.

ANDREA

Lawrence?

LYNNETTE

That doesn't seem real...I know it's only been eight months.

ANDREA

But what about her living with a man? Do you have any feelings about that?

LYNNETTE

Well, I'm happy for her...I AM really.

ANDREA

I believe you.

LYNNETTE

I feel relieved somehow. I don't think things could have turned out differently. Our differences became too great...

ANDREA

Was it your differences or your similarities?

LYNNETTE

What?

ANDREA

I mean Lynnette.

LYNNETTE

Lynnette? You're mocking me.

ANDREA

Not at all. You are not the only one who has grown in the past fourteen months we've been meeting.

LYNNETTE

But I thought you couldn't accept Lynnette. When I first told you about her and that she was more than just a dream figure, that she was me, you dismissed her out of hand you--

ANDREA

I, of course, was skeptical. It wasn't expected. Even for a psychologist, such a confession is difficult the assimilate. However, I have done my homework on the subject and I've watched you very closely. I've seen the changes you have gone through and they seem to be positive for the most part.

LYNNETTE

Then you approve of Lynnette...and the surgery.

ANDREA

I neither approve nor disapprove.

LYNNETTE

Then you wash your hands of the matter.

ANDREA

No. I'm concerned, but the responsibility for your life is yours. It has to be yours. My job is to help you find the answer for yourself. If Lynnette can bring you well-being and peace of mind, I'm all for her. I'm all for YOU, whether you are Lynnette or Larry. I just want you to be sure you know what you are doing.

LYNNETTE

But you don't disapprove of...the change.

ANDREA

I don't know, generally speaking. But if I disapproved, would you change your mind?

LYNNETTE

No...I wouldn't.

ANDREA

Remember how you were fourteen months ago? You were so unsure, so unassertive. You seemed to have no direction in your life. Now look at you. In two weeks you are going to begin a totally new existence.

LYNNETTE

You don't believe I can do it, do you?

ANDREA

Fourteen months ago--four months ago--I thought you were grasping at straws, groping for a way out of a life you couldn't cope with. As you recall, I was concerned at first that Lynnette was an alternate personality which your mind had created out of desperation. But we have worked together, you and I, to bring your fears and your fantasies to the surface. We've reviewed your childhood and adolescence, your marriage, your emotional collapse. I think I know you as well as anyone does.

LYNNETTE

Better than anyone.

ANDREA

And, remember, I have met other transsexuals, their physicians and therapists...and I have faith in your university program. Will you resume therapy in San Francisco?

LYNNETTE

I realize I'm not out of the woods--not for another two years, at least.

ANDREA

That's the university's requirement?

LYNNETTE

Yes. Two years of living, working, relating to people as a woman...It's a fair test.

ANDREA

It's quite a step.

LYNNETTE

I know.

ANDREA

I'll be away most of the next two weeks, but I should be in the Wednesday before you leave Reno. I'd like to see you to say "good-bye and good luck..."

Act I, scene viii. Laura's Apartment. ANDREA and the PATIENT freeze where they are. We see LAURA and LYNNETTE turn and walk toward LAURA's apartment, as the lights fade down on Dr. Carson's office.

LYNNETTE
(from LAURA's bed, sounding very much subdued)

Laura, do you mind if we don't go for a patty melt after all?

Act I, scene vi. LAURA's apartment and the streets outside.

Lights come up on LAURA's apartment and fade out center stage. LYNNETTE and LAURA are sitting on the bed again. LYNNETTE turns off the player, gathers the cassettes, places them in her purse, stands and picks up the cassette player.

LYNNETTE

I'm going back to my apartment...to listen to the tapes...alone.

LAURA

Oh?

LYNNETTE
(standing)

You don't mind, do you?

LAURA

No. Of course not. I need to be getting along to the group meeting...I'll see you tomorrow.

LYNNETTE

Maybe not tomorrow.

LAURA

Lynnette, are you alright?

LYNNETTE

I'm fine. I just need to be alone.

LAURA

Are you going to work tomorrow?

LYNNETTE

No. I don't think so.

LAURA

If you need anything, just call. Okay?

LYNNETTE

Good-bye.

LAURA

Good-bye.

LYNNETTE exits into the darkness, lost deeply in her thoughts. LAURA picks up and dons a sweater which is covering the back of her chair, and takes her composition book and her purse from the dresser. She steps out of the apartment set as the lights fade out on it and come up on the street. Music comes up. The CHORUS dances around LAURA as they change the set, taking away the upholstered chairs and bringing in folding chairs which they set in a semi-circle. As LAURA meanders through the streets writing in her composition book we hear her voice reading the poem over the music. The MUSE glides in reads over her shoulder in a dance.

LAURA
(voiceover)

"Yes There Are Doubts"

Yes, there are doubts, my friend,
But you make too much of them.
I am often uneasy,
But don't seize on that.
You raise your worth
At my helpless expense,
But, surely, my weak gropings forward
Cannot detract
From your grandiose strides.
I don't really expect
Your reflected support,
But please let me know
If I do something right.

Several people enter in the darkness and sit in the folding chairs, leaving one chair for LAURA in the next scene. LAURA stops, scans the poem, closes the composition book, stuffs it in her shoulder bag, and continues walking. As she turns a corner, a young black couple cross her path. The woman of the couple stops and looks LAURA over, making LAURA stop in her tracks.

WOMAN

Uh huh, that IS a "ho ho ho".

LAURA stands there for a moment, puzzled. The MUSE dances around them. The MAN of the couple takes the WOMAN aside and whispers into her ear as though explaining something to her. The MUSE tries to eavesdrop. The MAN nods diplomatically to LAURA. The WOMAN looks her over again but says nothing. They pass LAURA and eventually exit, leaving LAURA and the MUSE even more puzzled and a bit paranoid. The lights fade to black as the MUSE exits drifting away with the end of the music, which overlaps with LAURA reading a poem, at first in the dark.

Act I. scene ix. The Tenderloin Counseling Center, the counseling group. We hear LAURA's voice reading a poem.

LAURA

"Sisters"

She never writes,
My sister,
Never calls.
The folks do,
Uptight as they are.

Lights come up to reveal a horseshoe of folding chairs, with more chairs than there are people. The center chair is held by AUDREY, a social worker. To her left is DR. CARLOS DIVISADERO, to AUDREY's right, LAURA. Without losing a beat, LAURA continues reading the poem from her composition book.

LAURA

Fear? Disgust?
Jealousy? Impossible.
So why?--I stood by her once.
Different case, I guess.
er needs and my prejudice
Came together then.

Not now.
Oh, she helped at first
By her silence.
Disappointment maybe.
Did not meet her
Expectations.
Expectations,
Who is she to expect
Anything?
No labels on her.

Never writes,
She never calls,
My sister.
Its been a year--More.
I want too much?
Acceptance,
Would be nice--Not necessary.
Admiration?-No.
Communication
Is all I ask.

Too much for her
Now.
Later?
Doubt it.
She doesn't forgive
And forget.

Hurt.
Believe it?
She's hurt.
Embarrassed.

I did that, I know,
But it's over.
Can't write?
Why not?
That would admit
My existence.
She thinks me dead
Now.
At least
That's what she said.

AUDREY

That was very powerful, Laura. I think many of us here can relate to those feelings. Kay, you were telling the group last week about your relationship with your family.

KAY INGLESIDE is seated just to the left of DR. DIVISADERO. She has a continuous, but weak, smile.

KAY

I know how Laura feels. My parents are like her sister. They want nothing to do with me. They haven't answered my letters in two years.

DR. DIVISADERO

What do you feel at this very moment, Miss Ingleside? You are smiling, but you don't seem happy.

KAY

I guess smiling is my primary defense mechanism, Dr. Divisadero. I feel that I have to smile to keep from crying, to trivialize my worries--

DR. DIVISADERO

What would happen if you let yourself cry? Would that be so terrible?

KAY

I wouldn't be able to stop.

DR. DIVISADERO

And what would be the consequences of such crying?

KAY

I don't know.

AUDREY

Kay, are you afraid that we will disapprove if you cry?

KAY
(a little closer to tears)

I don't want to burden...It's not very pretty when I cry.

AUDREY

That is very important to you, isn't it? How you look.

KAY
(defensively)

I didn't mean that, Audrey. I meant no one else should have to see the ugliness of my petty, neurotic, paranoiac...

DR. DIVISADERO

Are you psychoanalyzing yourself, Miss Ingleside? I am not doing so and I am the only one here so qualified.

AUDREY

Is anyone judging you, Kay? Besides yourself?

KAY

My parents would if they were here.

AUDREY

But they are here, aren't they? You carry them with you.

KAY
(nodding)

Everywhere.

DR. DIVISADERO
(signaling to AUDREY)

What would you say to your mother and your father if they were in this room in the flesh?

AUDREY stands and pulls her own chair downstage.

KAY

I don't know. I guess my tendency would be to leave.

DR. DIVISADERO

After two years you would go away when you have your first chance to communicate with your parents?

KAY

I said that my TENDENCY would be to leave, but I would fight it.

DR. DIVISADERO
(standing)

Miss Ingelside, if you would stand, please, and take your chair beside the other one.

KAY stands and drags her chair to where AUDREY is standing. AUDREY sets the chairs part with just enough room to stand between them and turned in slightly toward each other. She then leads KAY to sit in one of the chairs.

DR. DIVISADERO

Now, imagine that your mother is sitting in that chair. (points to chair opposite KAY) Talk to her. (sits)

KAY
(to the chair)

Hi, mom (laughs nervously) It's good to see you again...I miss you...

AUDREY

Kay, what do you think your mother would say to you?

KAY

I don't know.

DR. DIVISADERO

I think you might know, Miss Ingleside.

AUDREY

Now sit in the other chair and say what your mother would say to you.

KAY sits in the other chair. There is a long pause while she tries to conjure up her mother's words.

KAY

Come back home...son. Give up that kind of life. We'll just forget about these last few years. All will be forgiven.

AUDREY

Now you're Kay again...Just stand behind the chair.

KAY stands and takes her place behind the first chair.

KAY

Who are you talking to, Mom? You don't understand who I am--what I am. There is no going back.

AUDREY crosses and takes her place behind the other chair as KAY's Mom.

AUDREY

You used to be so happy. Why can't you be that way again?

KAY

But I WASN'T happy. You only thought I was because I always smiled and did what you expected me to do. I know I was your favorite over all my brothers, and it was just because I was so damned agreeable!

AUDREY

I never knew how you felt. Your father never knew how you felt. Are we to blame?

KAY
(quietly, close to tears)

No...But how could I tell you? You were so busy praising me, patting me on the back for being a perfect "son"...And if I HAD told you, what would you have done? Disowned me? Tried to have me committed? (laughs) That's right, you DID try to have me committed.

AUDREY directs KAY to take her chair back into the horseshoe while she places her own chair in its former spot. Seated on KAY's left is JAY CHURCH, a very youthful and fidgety female to male transsexual. JAY jumps into the conversation. He has a very intentional Australian dialect.

JAY

It's alright, Kay. Have a good cry. Your folks, the bastards, are the bleedin' crazy ones.

DR. DIVISADERO
(cautioning)

Mr. Church...

KAY

That's okay, Dr. Divisadero. Jay's right. My folks ARE bastards. I don't know why I waste tears on them. Maybe I figure I have to because they're my parents.

KATHLEEN, who has been still throughout the session, sits to LAURA's right with her head bent forward and her long hair covering her face.

AUDREY
(giving KAY a break)

Kathy, I noticed you listening intently to Kay. I don't believe you've mentioned your family. Are they at all supportive of you emotionally?

KATHLEEN
(faintly)

Not really.

AUDREY

Do you feel like talking about them?

KATHLEEN
(hanging her head further)

No.

AUDREY

Is there anything you would like to say about what is going on in your life?

KATHLEEN
(shaking her head)

No.

AUDREY

You don't feel like talking at all?

KATHLEEN

No.

DR. DIVISADERO

Mr. Church?

JAY

Yeah?

DR. DIVISADERO

Would you tell us was it was like living with your foster parents?

JAY

Bloody Hell.

DR. DIVISADERO

Would you tell us more about those times?

JAY

No, Doctor D, I couldn't. There ain't no need to talk about that. Everybody in this bleedin' group knows too much just 'cause I'm here. Anyway, I ran away when I was a little kid. I couldn't remember if I wanted, but I'll tell you all you want to know about my real dad even if I never met him 'til I was twelve and only saw him six times before he died...But he loved ME. He was my Dad.

AUDREY

I'm sure your foster parents loved you very much too, Jay, and still do.

JAY

They didn't and they don't! Maybe they loved somebody, but it wasn't me. If they loved me they'd love me bein' an Aussie and a rock singer. My dad loved me. He knew I was an Aussie 'cause he was an Aussie. He died before I became a rock singer. He was a seaman, so he was away most of my life, but he bloody well loved me!

AUDREY

So, Laura, have you had any of your poems published?

LAURA

Not yet. As a matter of fact, I was turned down by another press recently.

DR. DIVISADERO

How do you feel about that, Miss Sabinal?

LAURA

Well, I don't write for mass consumption, anyway. The poems...and the short stories and novels I keep starting...are mostly just for myself. Writing helps me make sense of the world...and, I guess, to make sense of myself. (takes paper from the book and unfolds it) In college I found one friend I felt I could trust...and I told her about myself gradually through my poems. One day I decided to tell her everything...hoping I wouldn't lose her friendship in the process...This is the poem that spelled it all out. May I read it?

DR. DIVISADERO

By all means.

AUDREY

Yes, of course.

JAY
(complacently)

Go on.

LAURA

I think I should add that there are portions of this poem which are embarrassing to me now, but they reflected my outlook at the time. It is, perhaps, my most sophisticated rhyme--

JAY
(with mild irritation)

Let's just hear it, then, Laura.

AUDREY

Jay, give her a chance.

The lights fade out except for a spotlight on LAURA. We hear music behind LAURA's poem.

LAURA

Okay. It's entitled "Imagine, If You Will." (reads)

Imagine, if you will,
The anxiety and thrill
Of having to learn from scratch
All the little things--
How to sit and stand,
How to walk and talk and move your hand
How to sip from a glass, how to strike a match--
And all the time knowing that even when
You've learned all these things and then
You've altered your very countenance--
You've grown your bust and broadened your hips,
You've lost your beard and painted your lips--
And think that you have climbed the fence
To a more normal, but still magical world
In which, as you were boy, you are girl,
Realizing no advantage, asking for none,
But knowing, nonetheless, that to be so
You must hurt those you love and know,
Yet never really regretting when it's done.
For ones own true self cannot be denied
Because of loyalty and family pride,
Or fear of rejection, unrelenting abuse,
Or of good people who can't comprehend
The exposed "perversity" of a friend,
Or the little inner voice saying,"What's the use?"
As the truth will out or be buried in
To choke and stagnate the will to win,
To make some small space in a wasted life
Devoid of substance, a cardboard lie,
To be lost in daydreams until you die
A dull bachelor or husband who would be wife!

The music ends.

KAY

Wow. That really says everything, doesn't it? Laura, you should read your stuff in coffee houses. It's that good.

LAURA

I'd be afraid to get up in front of strangers...

AUDREY

Laura, how did your friend react when she read this poem?

LAURA

We became closer friends, I think.

AUDREY

Wonderful...Jay?

JAY

Yeah?

AUDREY

Were you about to say something?

JAY

No.

AUDREY

I thought you would have a comment.

JAY

The poem is good, Laura. I'm glad your friend liked it. (to AUDREY) How's that?

DR. DIVISADERO

You seem anxious, Mr. Church. What feelings do the poem bring out in you?

JAY

I said the bleedin' poem was good, didn't I? Ain't that enough? It don't have a thing to do with me anyway, so how the hell should I know how to bloody feel about it?

DR. DIVISADERO

I know that your problems are quite different from those of Miss Sabinal and the others, but her poem must affect you in some way that you can talk about. You must--

JAY

Always the same goddamn question: (mockingly) "How do you feel, Jay?", "How do you feel about that?", "How does that make you bloody feel?" Look, this is female stuff you've been talkin' about. That's okay. I'm theonly male in this group except yourself, Dr. D. Alright. I understand that, but most blokes like me don't get into groups like this. I wouldn't be here if I didn't have to and the university says I have to so I can stay on their program and get hormones so I won't look like a bloody little kid all my life.

DR. DIVISADERO

And you HAVE been taking hormones, have you not? You seem to have...matured quite a bit. You really are very masculine--

JAY

Masculine! Of course I'm bleedin' masculine! I was always masculine. God, I don't want to go through this all the time. I should be like Kathleen there. I should just shut up and go into a bloody coma or something.

AUDREY

Jay!

KAY

Jay, I think Dr. Divisadero just meant to say that you are looking much older, much more your age.

JAY

Yeah? Laura, you're new here. How old do you think I am?

LAURA

I...uh...I'm not really very good at guessing people's ages or weights or...

JAY

Try.

LAURA

Oh...I suppose you're seventeen or eighteen...

JAY

See! "Seventeen or eighteen." I'll soon be twenty-one fuckin' years old and I still look like a bleedin' little kid.

LAURA

Jay, I'm sorry. I told you I wasn't good at that sort of thing.

JAY

It ain't your fault. I bet you were even guessing high. I probably look sixteen to you.

LAURA

No. I wouldn't say sixteen...

KAY

Jay, remember when you met Alex Comstock? Didn't he say he had the same trouble at first? Now look at him.

JAY

Yeah, look at him. He lost his re-election to the state assembly 'cause his bloody opponent found out he was T.S.

KAY

That's not what we're talking about here, Jay.

JAY

I know what we're bloody talkin' about. I'm just sick of all this transsexual shit, that's all! I'm sick of comin' here every week to talk about it over and over again. It don't do me any good. I want to get on and live my life. I want to be a rock singer and live like every-bleedin'-body else.

DR. DIVISADERO

Miss...uh...Kathleen. How do you feel about what Jay just said? Hello...

AUDREY

I think she's asleep.

Act I. scene x. The streets. The lights fade out on the group. When they come up again LAURA is walking through the streets to some incidental music. The others exit in the darkness. The CHORUS dances away with the folding chairs and converts the bedroom to ALICE's apartment. Lights come up on TERRY, LAURA's apartment manager, and a teenage girl as they enter from the fog behind LAURA as ALICE SUTTER, NICOLE MASON, TIFFANY O'FARRELL, SANDY EDDY and ALICE GEARY take their places in ALICE SUTTER's apartment in the darkened area ready for the next scene.

TERRY

Laura, I'll buzz us in.

LAURA
(turning to see them)

Thanks.

TERRY

This here's my daughter Jamey.

LAURA

Nice to meet you, Jamey.

TERRY

Little girl, I'm going to call your dad and let him know you're with me.

JAMEY

Let him worry. He's such an asshole.

TERRY

Everybody knows that, darlin', but he is your dad. Come on.

TERRY presses an imaginary buzzer. When it buzzes we hear the voice of ARVIS.

ARVIS

Yeah?

TERRY

It's us, sweetheart.

ARVIS

Us bein'...

TERRY

Us bein' me, love of your life, LAURA--you know, the good one--and some little girl I found on the street.

ARVIS

You there, Jamey?

JAMEY

I'm here, Arvis.

ARVIS

Jamey, you worried your mom almost to death.

TERRY

Would you push the goddamn buzzer and let us in? We'll talk inside. It's cold and wet out here.

ARVIS

Keep your pants on. Here.

We hear the buzzer and LAURA, TERRY and JAMEY pass through the fog into the darkness beyond. TERRY and JAMEY exit. ALICE SUTTER steps into the spotlights which come up outside her still-darkened apartment set. LAURA steps into the light, facing ALICE.

ALICE S.

Laura, you're just in time.

LAURA
(stepping into ALICE's light)

Alice, it's late and I'm tired. I just want to go to my own apartment, watch some television and go to bed. Alright?

ALICE S.

Listen, I'd like you to come down and meet--

LAURA

I don't feel like meeting anyone tonight.

ALICE S.

I want you to meet Tiffany O'Farrell.

LAURA

We've met at the Tenderloin Counseling Center.

ALICE S.

That's funny, she says she never met you. Probably just can't place your name.

LAURA

I don't think Tiffany can place anyone who is not in transsexual "society". I never "told all" to a newspaper or a sleazy magazine or showed my face on coast-to-coast television.

ALICE S.

Tiffany isn't like that at all. She's so down to earth, so--

LAURA

You were the one who first told me about Tiffany. Remember? You said she was a professional transsexual.

ALICE S.

Shhhh! I was wrong to say that. I didn't really know her then. Please come in just to say hello. Nicole is here, too, and Sandy Eddy...and Alice Geary. Well, what do you say?

LAURA

Alright, but I can't stay long.

Act I. scene xi. ALICE SUTTER's apartment. LAURA and ALICE step out of their spotlight as lights come up on ALICE's apartment and fade out on their spot. The set is dressed as it was before but in this wider spotlight we see more furniture to accomodate those assembled. ALICE GEARY, the only non-transsexual present, is seated in a wooden chair. TIFFANY O'FARRELL occupies an upholstered chair as though it were a throne. On the side of the bed sits SANDY EDDY and NICOLE MASON. ALICE SUTTER and LAURA enter into the space.

ALICE S.

Hey everybody, look who decided to drop by.

NICOLE

Hi girl.

ALICE G.

Hello, Laura.

SANDY

Laura.

LAURA

Hello.

ALICE SUTTER takes her place at the head of her bed, seating LAURA just downstage beside her, causing SANDY to move down toward the end, and forcing NICOLE to face forward from the foot of the bed.

ALICE S.

Laura, this is Tiffany O'Farrell. Tiffany, Laura.

LAURA

I believe we've met.

TIFFANY

We have?

LAURA

At the counseling center.

TIFFANY
(with false sincerity)

Oh yes. So nice to see you again.

ALICE S.

And of course, you know Alice, Sandy and Nicole.

LAURA

Yes. Of course.

LAURA frowns impatiently at ALICE S.

TIFFANY

Laura, I suppose you have been reading about the murders in the paper?

LAURA

Murders?

TIFFANY

The Tenderloin murders. The murders in this very neighborhood.

LAURA

I've just skimmed the headlines. All I know is that the police think both were done by the same killer with some kind of a razor blade...and, of course, that the victims were transvestites.

ALICE S.

Well, that's the media. They don't know the difference. Most of us here were acquainted with both girls. They were most definitely TRANSSEXUAL.

LAURA

I didn't realize.

SANDY

Be very careful where you go at night, Laura.

ALICE S.

And be careful who you bring home with you.

LAURA

I'm always careful. I don't go out much anyway. And you know very well I'm not in the habit of bringing strangers home with me. I never go anywhere after dark.

ALICE G.

How about tonight?

LAURA

I rode with people in my therapy group...on the streetcar.

ALICE S.

But those two blocks from the streetcar could have been your last. This slasher has some kind of thing against transsexuals. So watch it.

NICOLE

Girl, it could be just a coincidence both victims were T.S.

ALICE S.

Coincidence or not, it always pays to be cautious.

LAURA

You're right. I'll take care. Alice, is this what you wanted to talk to me about? (stands) Thank you for your concern. I appreciate it. Now I have to go. I--

ALICE S.

Please stay a while longer. I promise the conversation will take a happier turn.

SANDY

Laura, did I tell you that David and I have moved to Burlingame? We have a house now.

LAURA
(sincerely)

That's wonderful!

SANDY

David is assistant manager at the new supermarket in Daly City and he comes home every night and I cook supper...It's so domestic, it's sickening. I love it.

LAURA

That's great. I'm happy for the two of you. God Sandy, you have so much going for you. You deserve it all. I know how you've struggled to get where you are...Are you still working?

SANDY

Yes. We have to make ends meet, you know. It's not too bad. I managed to get transferred to the Burlingame branch of Earthquake Savings and Loan. You know what else? I'm scheduled for the operation in a couple of weeks.

LAURA

Yes, Nicole told me.

ALICE G.

Excuse me, Sandy. Did you say you were going to have THE operation? By that do you mean to say you're transsexual?

SANDY

Yes. Didn't you know that?

ALICE G.

No. How would I know that? You're so pretty.

ALICE S.

So what are the rest of us, chopped liver?

ALICE G.

You, my friend, told me about your past the very first time we met. I knew you were transsexual practically before I had a chance to think otherwise. Anyway, you and I are average. Sandy here qualifies as a borderline great beauty.

SANDY

Thanks.

ALICE S.

Of course Sandy is beautiful. We're all very proud of her.

NICOLE

Ya can't tell the players without a score card, huh Alice?

ALICE G.

Then I'm the only...uh...non-transsexual here, then.

ALICE S.

That's okay, Alice. We love you anyway...Oh, I remember what we were discussing before Laura came in. Laura, Nicole was telling us how good Dr. Jones' surgery is getting these days.

NICOLE

Yeah, girl. When Dr. Jones finishes on somebody and the swelling goes down, it looks so real--the labia and all--even a doctor couldn't tell the difference...And girl, the clitorises he makes don't even slough off no more.

ALICE S.
(quickly)

Tell Laura about your friend from Kansas, Nicole.

NICOLE

Oh yeah. I know this girl, Mary Ann. She was Dr. Jones' receptionist before I got the job. Anyway, she had her operation with Dr. Jones and she moved back home to Hayes City. She went to a gynecologist there and didn't tell him she was T.S. or nothin'. Girl, he gave her a check-up and asked her who did such a neat hysterectomy on her. Can ya beat that?

LAURA
(politely)

Interesting.

TIFFANY

Laura, have you had your surgery yet?

LAURA

Me? No. I'm saving my money, though. I'll have it by the time my trial period is over next year.

TIFFANY

You're in the university's program?

LAURA

I am.

TIFFANY

How do you know the cost won't be prohibitive in a year's time? I've read that the university has raised the price almost a thousand dollars a year for the past three years.

LAURA

I know, but I'll have the money.

ALICE S.

Laura, you could have the operation much sooner.

LAURA

With Dr. Jones? No thanks.

ALICE S.

Dr. Jones is a fine surgeon.

LAURA

That's not what you used to say when I was staying with you...I didn't want to say anything against Sandy's choice of Dr. Jones...but Alice, you told me he was a quack...You were in the university's program yourself. It seems to me that your time to qualiffy was almost over. What happened?

ALICE S.
(evasively)

I simply didn't have the money. I was lost...until I started talking with Tiffany.

LAURA

Why Tiffany? And you, Nicole. Just last week you were about to quit Dr. Jones. Now you're defending him.

TIFFANY

Laura, I suppose you already know what we are going to propose to you, but here it is for what it's worth: Dr. Jones wants a "package" of five or six transsexuals who sincerely want the operation--who are serious about being women.

LAURA

I'm serious. I just--

TIFFANY

Four persons, including Alice and Sandy, have been screened--and very carefully, I might add. Unfortunately, one of the girls was a victim of the slasher--which is a tragedy. Nevertheless, the fact remains that there are two slots left. Oh yes, the first surgery date is only two weeks away. The cost will be $2,000 per operation with a special discount for Alice because of her efforts to organize the package. Laura, don't tell me you don't have the money. If you can afford the university's price next year, you can afford a paltry $2,000 now.

ALICE S.

Laura, just think it over for a few days.

LAURA

I'm not going to change my mind.

ALICE S.

Please don't make a final decision until you've spoken with Dr. Jones. (takes a pen and paper from the night stand, writes) Here's his address and telephone number. (hands paper to LAURA)

LAURA

Alice, do you know what the word "no" means?

ALICE S.

What will it hurt just to speak with the man?

LAURA

There's nothing he can say to change my mind.

ALICE S.

Laura, I've told Dr. Jones all about you, how natural you are, how feminine, how--

LAURA

Alice, give it up. You'll find dozens of others to fill your "package".

ALICE S.

I really think if you go to him, look around his clinic, ask all the questions you want, all your fears will disappear. You'll see how responsible, how dedicated--

TIFFANY

Alice, we're wasting our time on Laura. She won't even meet us half way. If she won't give Dr. Jones a chance, if she prefers to believe all those terrible rumors about the man without his having the opportunity to vindicate himself, if she won't even do him the courtesy to meet him face to face after all the glowing things you told him about her...and his agreeing to make time in his busy schedule, if--

LAURA

Okay. Okay. No more "ifs" please. Maybe I'll talk to him next week, if that will make you happy, but I'm still in the university program.

ALICE S.

That's all we ask: just go see him...And Laura...

LAURA
(exhausted)

What?

ALICE S.

Have you ever thought about getting that little hump removed from your nose? I'm sure Dr. Jones would take care of it for just a slight extra charge.

Act I, scene xii. LAURA's apartment. As music plays everyone exits into the darkness as the lights fade out on ALICE SUTTER's apartment. LAURA wanders around as the CHORUS changes the set, directed by the MUSE as always, and LAURA enters her own flat, dresses for bed, and perhaps even steps just outside the lights to brush her teeth, we hear music and the voice of an ANNOUNCER from a television, turned away from the audience and glowing from downstage.

ANNOUNCER

"Christ Church, New Zealand" by Jeremy Church and "Putrid" by "The Phlegm" on Earthquake Records and Tapes.

LAURA finally climbs into her bed. We hear brassy big band jazz coming from the television, then fading out when we hear the the voice of JOHNNY, a late night talk show host, and then his GUEST.

JOHNNY

Thanks, guys. What a band...As we were saying before we broke away, you were not the first actor of some prominence to decline the Oscar for political or personal reasons, but there was a little brouhaha, was there not?

GUEST

That's right, John. I felt under the circumstances that the award was a dubious honor.

JOHNNY

This may be apocryphal, but I think Abraham Lincoln told the story about the man who was tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. When someone asked him how he felt, he said, "If not for the honor of the thing, I'd just as soon walk."

We hear a small wave of audience laughter.

GUEST

That's about the size of it, John.

JOHNNY

As we've said here many times, there really should be five awards. The nominations themselves should be the awards...

It becomes apparent that LAURA has fallen asleep. Dream music fades in as JOHNNY's voice fades out. Lights come up on the dream. The MUSE enters and finds the CHIEF on the upstage rise. We hear the FATHER's voice again over the music.

FATHER

Don't run away! (enters from behind the CHIEF) Don't run from who you are! Don't do it!

We hear LAURA's amplified voice over the music.

LAURA

You don't understand! You don't know who I am!"

The lighted area of LAURA's apartment enlarges to show chairs to the right and left of LAURA's bed. JOHNNY is sitting to her left, the GUEST is to her right. The conversation from the television bleeds into the dream.

JOHNNY

This may be apocryphal.

GUEST

Can you spell that, Johnny?

JOHNNY

No I can't. (audience laughter) I mean it may or may not be true.

LAURA
(sitting up in bed)

What do you mean?

GUEST

He means dreams don't always mean what they seem to mean. Pay attention.

JOHNNY

As Dr. Jung will tell us in a moment.

LAURA

How can I tell?

The CHIEF turns and backs away slowly.

JOHNNY

Stay tuned. We'll be back with Dr. Carl Jung after these messages.

The MUSE turns around searching the stage as the music fades away with the dream lights. A vanity and two chairs are placed in a dark area downstage. NICOLE enters in the darkness and sits at the vanity. When the lights come up again on LAURA's apartment LAURA is sleeping on her back with her head hanging over the foot of the bed and almost touching the floor, her arms outstretched. We see her eyes open and shift to and fro.

Act I, scene xiii. NICOLE's apartment. Lights come up on NICOLE at the vanity. She is in a robe and slippers applying mascara. Lights fade out on LAURA's apartment. In the darkness a restaurant booth is placed on another part of the stage.

NICOLE

Girl, you gotta come with Nick and me to “The Make” sometime.

LAURA
(stepping into the light)

Isn't that a gay bar?

NICOLE

Not exclusively. (sips from a coffee cup) It's mostly a T.S. hangout these days. All the girls go there.

LAURA
(sitting in the other chair)

I don't know, Nicole.

NICOLE

Well, think about it. You know, girl, ya need to get out and live a little. Dance with some nice guy. Date, ya know?

LAURA

I'm definitely not ready for that yet.

NICOLE

Suit yourself, girl, but you're missin' out on a lot. (applies blush to her checks) Ya know, ya don't have ta go home with anybody, just dance a little. What's the harm?

LAURA

I wouldn't feel right...not the way I am now.

NICOLE

What's the matter with the way you are now?...Oh that. (turns to LAURA) So you're just gonna wait until after the operation to live your life? Girl, don't you think you should find out a little bit about life right now?

LAURA

Did you date when you were...pre-operative?

NICOLE
(with just a beat of hesitation)

Oh sure. All the time. It don't mean nothin' ta just dance with somebody, go out for dinner...like that. (applies lip gloss) Relatin' to guys is a big part of life, don't ya think?

LAURA

I guess.

NICOLE
(examining her beehive hairdo)

Then come with me and Nick on Saturday night. Get your feet wet.

LAURA

Let me think about it.

NICOLE

Suit yourself, girl...I know why you're so shy about things. Ya feel like everybody's tryin' to push you into somethin'. Am I right, Laura? I'm sorry about the other night. Alice and Tiffany gave ya the hard sell...and I guess I did too. But I was just tryin' ta help. And I guess I figured if Dr. Jones got his "package" he'd have enough money to pay me the back salary he owes me. There's just so much ya can take out in services, girl. I mean, I only got two boobs and my face don't need nothin' done.

LAURA

I understand why Alice is pushing me, but what does Tiffany get out of it?

NICOLE

You know Tiffany, girl. She gets ta go on those television shows and be famous...and I think she gets a cut of Dr. Jones' business. Wish I did. Anyway, like next week Tiffany and Dr. Jones' are gonna be on that show after Johnny Carson--Tom whats-his-name--and talk about the T.S. experience or somethin'. So Dr. Jones gets national publicity, maybe thousands of customers, and Tiffany gets ta be some kind of T.S. star--and gets her cut from Dr. Jones.

LAURA

And the T.V. program gets a freak show.

NICOLE

Maybe it won't be that bad, girl.

LAURA

Only the Tiffanys of the world would go on coast to coast television and advertise what they are. Most T.S.'s would be horrified to have their pasts splattered all over the airwaves. If people think we're all like Tiffany, they'll never accept us.

NICOLE

Maybe you worry too much, girl. Relax a little. Saturday with Nick and me at The Make, right?

LAURA

I'll think about it.

Act I, scene xiv. Her Majesty's Restaurant. As the lights fade on NICOLE's apartment we hear transitional music, and the MUSE leads the CHORUS to rearrange the vanity and chairs to look like a restaurant table. The MUSE herself hands a menus LYNNETTE POWELL as she sits at the table.

LYNNETTE
(standing and waving)

Laura, over here!

LAURA enters and sits in the opposite chair. PAT GRANT, a waitress, hurriedly enters, crossing behind them.

PAT
(to LYNNETTE)

Hello, Duchess. I'll be with you and your little friend in a minute. (exits)

LYNNETTE
(smiling)

Duchess?

LAURA and LYNNETTE read their menus and put them down. PAT returns to take their orders.

PAT
(to LYNNETTE)

Is Your Highness ready to order now? Milady is out of her boudoir very early this Saturday morning. Didn't think I'd be here, did you?

LYNNETTE

Pat, what are you talking about?

PAT

You told me last night on the phone that you were going to sulk all weekend.

LYNNETTE

I feel better today, that's all.

PAT

I guess a week of sulking is enough. Give me your orders--if you're ready. I'm off work in a couple of minutes. Then we can talk.

LYNNETTE

I'll have a patty melt and black coffee.

LAURA

A bacon cheeseburger and iced tea.

PAT

You want fries or hash browns with that?

LAURA

Fries.

PAT

I'll get back to you. (exits)

LYNNETTE

She's going to ask me again to visit her and her family tonight. She's invited you too, by the way.

LAURA

I wish I could go, but I did promise Nicole I'd go with her to The Make.

LYNNETTE

The Make? Laura, that's a gay bar.

LAURA

Not necessarily.

LYNNETTE

Everyone knows it's a gay bar, and a notorious one at that.

LAURA

Have you ever been there?

LYNNETTE

Of course not.

LAURA

The rumors you've heard are pure exaggeration, Lynnette.

LYNNETTE

Like the rumors about your Dr. Jones, I suppose.

LAURA

He's not MY Dr. Jones, and I'm only going to talk with the man. I'll probably stay with the university's gender program.

LYNNETTE

Probably?

LAURA

Don't worry. Dr. Jones won't say anything that will change my mind.

LYNNETTE

I should hope not. You've been acting strangely the last few weeks.

LAURA

What do you mean?

LYNNETTE

You've changed so much. Whatever happened to that awkward kid from Santa Fe?

LAURA

You said I should be more assertive, so I'm assertive. That's all.

LYNNETTE

I've decided I liked you better the other way. Now here you are, going to gay bars.

LAURA

I'm not going to gay bars?

PAT, crossing before them carrying a tray of food to another table, stops briefly.

PAT

Which gay bars?

LYNNETTE

"The Make" for one.

LAURA

For one? It's the only one...And it's not just a gay bar.

PAT
(sarcastically)

Sure it isn't. It's so much more. I'll be right back. (exits)

LAURA

Lynnette, I'm only going once. End of subject.

LYNNETTE

Sure. You'll try anything once.

PAT returns with their orders.

PAT
(serving the dishes)

Here you are, ladies. I am officially off duty...(looks at wall clock, sets last plate down on "now") now. I hope Your Ladyship enjoys her patty melt. (sits next to LYNNETTE)

LYNNETTE
(smiling weakly)

What's with you today, Pat?

PAT

Nothing. It's just that you promise you're coming over for dinner and then you change your mind at the last minute.

LYNNETTE

I told you more than twenty-four hours in advance.

PAT

You wouldn't have if I hadn't called you.

LYNNETTE

I was going to call.

PAT

I doubt it. You were too busy brooding to think about it. Is that what you do every weekend: hole up in your cave and pity yourself?

LYNNETTE

I just like to relax on weekends.

PAT

It's those damn tapes again, right? Why don't you burn those things?...And that picture you haunt yourself and your friends with too?

LYNNETTE

They're important for my autobiography.

PAT
(whispering)

Lynnette Powell! I thought the last thing you wanted was to be known for being a transsexual.

LYNNETTE

I could use a pen name.

PAT

This is Pat you're talking to, lady. I know you too well. You have no intention of being anonymous...There are other ways to be rich and famous, you know. You're bright enough and glamorous enough to make it without the shortcuts.

LYNNETTE

You don't understand, Pat. I owe a debt to other T.S.'s who--

PAT

T.S.-B.S., Lynnette. (turns briefly to LAURA) Pardon my french. (back to LYNNETTE) With your looks and brains you could be a dynamite saleswoman and probably running your own business in a few years. You could even be a high fashion model--of the more mature sort, of course. Didn't I always say you were glamorous?

LYNNETTE

Yes, but--

PAT

Well, you are and you don't need that old photograph to remind you of how far you've come. It's who you are NOW that's important, right?...Now, are you coming tonight? Jack and the kids are expecting you.

LYNNETTE

Well...

PAT

Laura, I'd like you to come, too.

LAURA

I'd love to, but I'm going to the--

PAT

"The Make?" Of course. I forgot it's your hangout.

LAURA

It's not my--

PAT
(glancing at the wall clock)

Yes or no, Lynnette. I have to go.

LYNNETTE

Alright. Yes.

PAT
(standing)

Good. I'll see you a 7:00, Your Majesty?

LYNNETTE

Seven.

PAT

Be there...Some other time, Laura?

LAURA

Yes. Of course.

PAT

Good-bye. (exits)

LYNNETTE

Good-bye.

LAURA

Good-bye.

LAURA and LYNNETTE begin to eat their meal as their light fades to black and lights come up on the streets. Music plays as CHORUS people are walking to and fro. LAURA and LYNNETTE enter from the darkness and make their way down the street. At a certain point we hear a male voice, probably an adolescent from offstage.

MALE VOICE
(from offstage)

God, look at the drags!

LAURA turns around. LYNNETTE looks left and right. They look at each other. They are both shocked and upset, but LAURA seems the more devastated of the two. We see them say "Good-bye" to each other and part ways. LYNNETTE exits. The MUSE drifts out of the darkness and dances behind LAURA, as if trying to console her.

Act I, scene xv. The streets. LAURA continues through the streets as we hear the voices of LAURA and others read "Ellis Street Suite". The music changes with each passing mood of the poem. The people on the street represent the content and moods of the poem as well. On cue, the words "painted towers", two extremely tall, extremely made-up drag queens pass on either side of LAURA. The MUSE dances around and between the passing figures, unseen, reacting to each mood of the poem.

LAURA
(voiceover)

"Ellis Street Suite"

A little girl,
Just under six feet
Shuffles swiftly between
Painted towers
Stalking down
Ellis Street.

LYNNETTE
(voiceover)

How much less bogus
Are you than they?
Does your wry smile betray
A lingering insecurity?

LAURA
(voiceover)

Shy little girl,
Pushing thirty,
Who could imagine
Even you could be
A total virgin?

ALICE S.
(voiceover)

Yet here you go
Through Proposition Alley
And down Queen's Row.

LAURA
(voiceover)

This is the crucible
In the bowels of the Tenderloin.
Here there are few smiles,
But many sneers.

Here expressions are jaded,
Faded,
And blank,
But for sly,
Dissecting eyes.

CHORUS
(voiceover, one person per line as they pass by)

Here you MUST survive the glares.
Here you MUST pass.
You cannot escape the scrutiny
Of the derelict-hustler-merchant-
Addict-prostitute-tourist-
Closet queen-waitress-
Monster of countless eyes
And absent heart.

A BLACK MAN, the man from the couple earlier in the play, nods in a courtly and flirtatious way as he passes LAURA. The mood of the music changes to a jazz rhythm played on an upright bass. We hear the voice of a BLACK MAN take up the next section of the poem after the passing of the on stage actor. We see the MUSE dance with the beat and react to the compliments with great joy and coy pride, almost flirtaciously.

BLACK MAN
(voiceover)

You're so together today,
Little fox.
You SHINE so,
You flash the sun
Back on himself
And your beautiful soul
Eclipses your petty flaws.
THIS afternoon
You hear only:
"Hey, pretty lady!"
"Girl, you got fine legs!"
"Where you goin', Mama?"
You pass sternly by,
Then smile to yourself.
Don't lie.
You know you do,
Little fox.

CHORUS
(voiceover, one person for each line )

The street echoes a Dylan refrain.
The street moans of desolation.
The street screams of each new rip-off.
The street is the world,
The environment,
The home,
The shelter,
The cave,
The cage.

LAURA
(voiceover)

Shy little girl,
Just under six feet,
You can be hometown sweetheart
If you make it on Ellis Street.

Act I, scene xvi. LAURA's apartment. LAURA walks through a dark area of the stage as the lights fade out on the street and come up in her apartment. The actress playing LAURA has exited. The LAURA who enters into her apartment in silhouette is a stand-in from the CHORUS. This LAURA flops on her bed crying, and eventually falls asleep. Music and lighting change to indicate a passage of time. From the television we hear the voice of MERV, a talk-variety show host. During the dialogue from the television we see LAURA move on her bed in the darkness and eventually prop herself up in bed.

MERV

You all know this next young man. He is one of the most popular rock singers of the past few years. His third album, "Christ Church, New Zealand"...(screams from teenage girls) has just gone triple platinum. Here is Polynational Conglomerate recording star, Jeremy Church! (screams and applause from teenage girls)

JEREMY
(with a heavy Australian dialect)

Hello, Merv.

MERV

Jeremy, do you ever get tired of all the screaming and the...adulation of your fans?

JEREMY Not really, Merv. (screams from teenage girls) It's what fame is all about, i'n' it? I mean, sometimes I'd like to go out without all the sheilas recognizing me, but what can you do?

MERV

It's like that story Mark Twain used to tell about the man who was run out of town on a rail. Somebody asked, "Are you alright?" and he replied, "If not for the honor of the thing, I'd just as soon walk." (audience laughter)

Act I, scene xvii. Earthquake Press. By the time MERV is finished with his familiar anecdote LAURA is already asleep again. The lights fade to black. When they come up again center stage, LAURA is dressed and standing downstage before the PUBLISHER of Earthquake Press.

PUBLISHER

Well, this long poem is an improvement, anyway. But why Ellis Street?

LAURA

Why Ellis Street? Because that's where it all happened...to the character in the poem.

PUBLISHER

It should be Polk Street. Everybody knows that. Polk Street is famous for that sort of thing.

LAURA

What sort of thing?

PUBLISHER

Maybe a few more like this one and we could have a book--or a chapter in an anthology of local poets. Just change the name to Polk Street, that's all.

LAURA

Maybe I'll have more material after tonight. I'm going to a discotheque...just to observe.

PUBLISHER

You mean a "disco". "Discotheque" is passe. Which one?

LAURA
(mumbling)

The Make.

PUBLISHER

Which one did you say?

LAURA

The...uh...Make.

PUBLISHER

Oh, The Make. You should get some material there, alright.

Act I, scene xviii. The Make. We hear disco music come up strongly as lights fade out on Earthquake Press and come up on the crowd at The Make. The lighting is subdued and the whole area is speckled with flashing lights and dots of light from a mirrored ball. The crowd, mostly dressed as women--and some are women--are dancing frantically to the disco beat. The dancers drift aside just enough for us to see LAURA sitting at a cabaret table, and writing in her composition book. We hear her recorded voice.

LAURA
(voiceover)

"Among Amazons"

An innocent among Amazons
Writing poetry in the dark,
I strain my assaulted eyes and mind
to place myself in the world--
Any world.
I wonder at that,
But I know why I bloom on the wall
And erect my own Hell!

LAURA looks around at the writhing bodies. She turns a page in her composition book and writes as we hear her words. The dancers engulf her and we see them dancing during the poem. Toward the end of the poem the dancers part enough for us to see LAURA completing her writing.

LAURA
(voiceover)

"1977"

It's 1977 and still
You can cut the "grass" smoke
With an ax.
Bodies reeling, weaving, dipping
Rocking and sliding
Toward oblivion.
The world on the verge.
Of what?
More tomorrows?
Certainly.
It will do its 5 billion revolutions.
It will last the sun.
We can sleep our nights in peace
For that,
But that only.
All else looms a blank
All will pass
This week or next,
Or the third millennium;
But the now...
Oh, but the now,
Speck in time,
A moment's eternity.
This is the eve of what hidden dawn?
The whole four billion souls wait
For a trolley already late.

LAURA looks at her poem for a moment, rips the page out of the book, wads it up and tosses it over her shoulder, thinks better of it and searches for it amid the dancing feet. She finally gives up, sits on her bar stool, puts away her pen and composition book into her purse, pulls out a paperback book and reads it. A very a shortish straight-looking middle aged man in a business suit, and holding a trenchcoat, sits on the stool beside her. After a while he tries to make conversation.

BUSINESSMAN

Good book?

LAURA does not speak, but shows him the cover of the book and continues reading.

BUSINESSMAN

Oh. "Looking For Mr. Goodbar"...Waiting for someone?

LAURA
(still reading, trying to ignore him)

Not you.

BUSINESSMAN

Can I buy you a drink?

LAURA
(still reading)

No.

BUSINESSMAN
(after a pause)

Are you for real?...A woman, I mean.

LAURA
(turning to him)

What?

BUSINESSMAN

Well are you?

LAURA
(trying to read again)

Of course.

BUSINESSMAN

No. You're not really. Are you?

LAURA
(putting down the book)

Yes I am. Now please leave me alone.

BUSINESSMAN

Let's prove it then!

He kisses LAURA violently on the mouth while he reaches under her skirt. Suddenly he yells in pain and jumps back from his bar stool. The dancers stop to see what is happening.

BUSINESSMAN
(fairly lisping)

You damn near bit my tongue off! This bitch tried to bite my tongue off!

The BOUNCER, a large man in a motorcycle jacket and a ponytail, removes the BUSINESSMAN with his trenchcoat, from the room. They exit. NICOLE MASON breaks through the crowd and crosses to LAURA who is stunned from the incident.

NICOLE

You alright, Laura? Hey, that creep deserved what he got. Ya know, I'm proud of you for fightin' back like that. I woulda hurt him a lot lower than his tongue, but ya did alright for yourself, girl...Laura, there's this nice guy who's been askin' about ya. He's alright. Believe me.

NICOLE makes a "come here" motion to someone. JEFFREY, a shortish quiet young man in a trenchcoat, walks out of the crowd to the bar.

NICOLE

Laura, this is Jeffrey. Jeffrey, Laura.

JEFFREY

W-would you like to dance, Laura?

LAURA
(after a questioning glance at NICOLE, complacently)

Sure. Why not?

LAURA and JEFFREY leave their coats on the table and find a space in the crowd and dance to the music. NICOLE, satisfied she has made a match, finds a dancing partner and they disappear into the throng. LAURA is tentative at first, but eventually seems to enjoy herself. When the song ends, she and JEFFREY find and sit at the table.

JEFFREY

You're a good dancer.

LAURA

I don't get much practice.

JEFFREY

Is it okay if I order a drink for you?

LAURA

I don't drink, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY

Really? N-neither do I. How about a Coke?

LAURA

Okay.

JEFFREY

I'll be r-right back.

He crosses to the bar and orders from the bartender. NICOLE finds her way through the crowd and approaches LAURA.

NICOLE

Girl, ya looked good dancin' out there. Didn't I tell ya Jeffrey was alright? Ya kinda hit it off with him, didn't ya?

LAURA
(with a slight smile)

He's alright.

SANDY EDDY and her boyfriend DAVID dance by. SANDY is drunk, hanging on DAVID's neck for support.

SANDY

Hey, Nicole and...

LAURA
(amused)

Laura.

SANDY

I knew that...Laura...Getting out to the old Make, huh? Oh Laura, this is my David. (laughs to herself) Not Michelangelo's David, but my David.

LAURA

Hi.

DAVID

Hello, Laura. Come on, Sandy. I think it's time we got home.

SANDY

Just one more boogie. Please Babe. Just one more.

DAVID

Alright. Just one more.

SANDY

Ol' Dave and I are gonna boogie one more boogie and go. See you folks later.

NICOLE

Later.

LAURA

Good-bye.

SANDY and DAVID disappear into the crowd dancing as JEFFREY returns with the cokes.

JEFFREY

Here, Laura. (hands her one)

LAURA

Thanks.

JEFFREY

Hi, Nicole.

NICOLE

I was just leavin'. Have fun, kids.

NICOLE finds a partner and dances off into the crowd. LAURA and JEFFREY sit at the table. There is a long pause before LAURA breaks the ice.

LAURA

Are you originally from San Franciso, Jeffrey?

JEFFREY

Y-yes.

There is another awkward pause. You're the first real native I've met...Do you live in the City?

JEFFREY

Yes.

LAURA
(after another pause)

What kind of work do you do?

JEFFREY

I work in my father's hardware store.

LAURA

That's interesting...Do you have any hobbies?

JEFFREY

Yes. I do magic...I'm really very good. I hardly drop anything anymore...Laura?

LAURA

Yes, Jeffrey?

JEFFREY

I n-never asked anyone to do this b-before, but I feel like I could do it with you, L-Laura.

LAURA

Jeffrey, we just met. Don't you think--

JEFFREY

I-I want you to be my beautiful assistant, in my m-magic act.

LAURA

Oh. Oh!...That's very flattering, Jeffrey, but I'm not a performer. As a matter of fact--

JEFFREY

I'll teach you...Unless you d-don't want to see me anymore.

LAURA

That's not true, Jeffrey. It's just that we just met--

JEFFREY

I'm too aggressive, r-right?

LAURA

Lets just take things a step at a time.

JEFFREY

Does that mean you'll go out with me sometime?

LAURA

I'd like that.

JEFFREY

Next week?

LAURA

Well...okay.

JEFFREY

Here?

LAURA

I'm not really a bar person.

JEFFREY

Do you know Her Majesty's Restaurant?

LAURA

Yes. I eat there all the time.

JEFFREY

Oh. We could go someplace nicer. I don't mind spending more on you. You're w-worth it.

LAURA

Thank you. Her Majesty's will be fine.

JEFFREY

I can afford a more expensive restaurant. Really I can. It's not every day I meet a queen as sweet as you--

LAURA

A what?

JEFFREY

"Queen?" Oh. What would y-you prefer to be called?

LAURA
(hurt and angry, stands)

Try "Laura"...or "woman"...Even "girl" would be a step in the right direction.

JEFFREY

I'm s-sorry. I didn't mean to...

LAURA

No. I'm sure you didn't...I've got to get out of here.

LAURA passes NICOLE who is dancing with a flamboyant young man named TYRONE near the downstage edge of the room. JEFFREY stands by the table confused and disappointed.

NICOLE

Hi, Laura. Girl, I'd like ya to meet--

LAURA

We've been here more than two hours already. I'm going home.

NICOLE

What is it, girl? I thought you and Jeffrey was gettin' along alright.

LAURA

I don't want to talk about it...you don't have to leave. It's only two blocks to our building. The moon's almost full--

NICOLE

Laura, I can't let you go back alone. 'Specially not with that killer around and all. Look, just give me a few minutes and we'll both go. Nick'll be glad ta get home early anyway. He's sittin' and drinkin' at a table somewhere back there. He hates crowds and dancin'.

LAURA

Alright. A few minutes.

NICOLE

I won't be long, girl. Just gotta say good-bye to a few folks...(turning to the man beside her) Laura, have you met Tyrone? She's an old friend of mine from ages ago. We was--

LAURA

She?

NICOLE

Laura, that's just the way I talk about her. It's like a custom here--just a friendly thing, ya know?

LAURA

And I'm "her" and "she" the same way...he is: just another queen around here?

NICOLE

No girl. It ain't the same. It's like two different languages, Laura. You're--

LAURA

Good night, Nicole.

NICOLE shrugs and dances with TYRONE. LAURA forces her way through the dancing crowd and exits. In the process, on the far side of the crowd, maybe just off stage and downstage center, indicating the street outside, she knocks over the SLASHER in an overcoat with its collar obscuring his face. An object falls onto the floor. TYRONE is there to pick it up.

TYRONE

Hey, lover. Here's your box cutter. (hands it to the SLASHER) Be careful with that thing. (dances with NICOLE)

The SLASHER, without saying a word, puts away the box cutter and orders a drink at the bar. Everyone else continues dancing until the music and the lights fade out.

--END OF ACT I--

Act II, scene i. JAY CHURCH's apartment. The lights come up on the bedroom area, this time set up as JAY's flat. JAY is downstage of the bed where LAURA is sitting, serenading her with a loud rock guitar and singing through a microphone on a stand through a small amplifier on the floor. Upstage by the bed, also on the floor, is a huge can of Foster's beer. LAURA is holding another one. The MUSE glides in, tries to find the beat, gives up and exits with her hands over her ears.

JAY
(singing)

Don't gimme none of your lip, Francine.
I just wanna dance on your love-
'Ov' 'ov' 'ov' 'ov'!

Each time the "ov" of "love" is sung it is accompanied by a loud guitar chord. Then JAY plays a fast riff and a final chord. LAURA applauds.

LAURA

That's great! I couldn't tell you from Jeremy Church himself!

JAY
(taking his bows)

Thank you, Laura. Thank you.

LAURA

When you said you were a rock singer at group last week I didn't realize you'd be so good. I never met a professional musician before.

JAY

I don't exactly make my living at singin' yet, but I got this mate. He lets me sing at his club sometimes and he gives me a discount on beer. (bends down and picks up a giant beer can) Have one? It's Fosters--very Australian. Have another?

LAURA

No thanks. I'm not much of a drinker. (sips) This will do me.

JAY
(sits on bed, pops top)

Suit yourself, then. (sips) Good stuff!...You probably think it's strange to drink it warm like this, but that's the Aussie way.

LAURA

I've heard the English drink beer at room temperature. I thought Australians drank it chilled the way Americans do, but then I've never met anyone from "down under" before.

JAY

Down under what?

LAURA

Australia, "the land down under". Don't they call it that?

JAY

Right. Maybe it's the way you said it (sips)...The English drink it warm too, do they?

LAURA

That's what I've heard...What do you do when you're not singing in your friend's club?

JAY (stands, paces)

Oh, odd jobs mostly--clean-up/fix-up, painting houses. That sort of thing. What I really want to be is a rocker, though...You really like my singin'?

LAURA

Fair dinkum.

JAY

Fair...dinkum?

LAURA

Don't they still say that in Australia? I heard it in an old movie once.

JAY

Yeah. Sure. They say it all the time...Look Laura, the thing is I haven't actually lived in Australia since I was three. I hardly ever run into Aussies and even when I do they're tryin' to act like Yanks. Besides, I don't let on I don't know all about my mother country. I want everybody to know I'm an Aussie like I want everybody to know I'm a male--not that I have any trouble with that. It's just the age thing that gets me. I don't have my new I.D. yet and I burned my old one. It's good I can buy my beer from Dirk at the club 'cause if I try to buy it in a store, they don't sell it to me, thinkin' I'm under age and me not havin' I.D. to back me up.

LAURA

I've been through I.D. hassles too.

JAY

Yeah...Laura, you really know about Australia, don't you?

LAURA

I read a lot. I guess I've picked up a few things over the years.

JAY

Could you teach me about Australia?

LAURA

I really don't know that much...

JAY

But you know a lot of things I don't. I can't talk to anybody else about it.

LAURA

Well, I could suggest some books at the public library...oh yeah, the I.D. problem...Okay. I'll check out some books for you...and tell you what little I know.

JAY

You're a good mate, Laura! (suddenly kissing her on the cheek) I love you. I just met you a week ago and you've changed my life already...I'm goin' to tell you something...something that I never tell anybody, even Dr. Divisadero. Only Kay Ingleside, who is my best mate in the group, knows this...You have to promise never to tell this to anybody. I think I can trust you.

LAURA

I can keep a secret, but you don't really have to tell--

JAY

But I want to, Laura. Laura, do you remember what you said about me singin' like Jeremy Church?

LAURA

Yes...Oh, you changed your name to "Church" because Jeremy Church is your idol? I wondered about that.

JAY
(mildly irritated)

No. That's not it. I changed my name to "Church" because that's what it should be...Laura, Jeremy Church is my real life brother.

LAURA

Really? Are you sure?

JAY

I'd know something like that, wouldn't I?

LAURA

Sure. I guess...

JAY

We're both from Australia, right?

LAURA

Right.

JAY

I was adopted when I was three. I had a brother who was ten years older. He ran away from home so he wouldn't be adopted.

LAURA

Jeremy Church did tell Merv on television that he ran away from home when he was thirteen.

JAY

You saw him on the T.V.?

LAURA

Yes. He was plugging his new album, "Christ Church, New Zealand".

JAY

See, "Christ Church, New Zealand". My real folks were from Christ Church. They lived there before I was born. Jeremy is from Christ Church. That's why he calls his record that.

LAURA

And not many people live in New Zealand, so how many families named "Church" can there be?

JAY

Actually, his real name is "O'Toole", but I guess there can't be very many "O'Tooles" either.

LAURA

I suppose not.

JAY

Laura, I don't have a television. Could I come over and watch next time Jeremy Church is on?

LAURA

Alright. Every time I go to the store I'll pick up a T.V. magazine and check for Jeremy Church in the listings.

JAY
(jumps up and down, kisses her on the cheek)

Laura, I'm your mate for life!

LAURA

Fair dinkum?

JAY

Fair dinkum.

Act II, scene ii. "The Bean Soup Coffee House" and the streets. The lights fade to black and JAY exits in the dark. Music plays and the CHORUS form into an audience downstage while one of them moves the microphone stand away from the bedroom set. Before the lights come up again we hear LAURA, behind the microphone, reading poetry or trying to.

LAURA

I fly to the dawning sun--

ASSORTED VOICES

Speak up! Into the mike! Microphone!

LAURA
(a bit louder)

I fly to the dawning sun...I

MALE VOICE

Use the microphone!

A spotlight comes up to reveal LAURA, her composition book stuffed with loose pages and the microphone stand. She adjusts the microphone, gets feedback noise and tries again.

LAURA

I fly to the dawning sun...(reads to herself, searches through her pages) I..uh...

FEMALE VOICE

We know: you "fly to the dawning sun."

There is some laughter. LAURA finds another page.

LAURA

Let me do another one. I seem to have misplaced the final version of that one...This is another ecological selection.

ANOTHER VOICE

Brother...

LAURA reads the poem with growing confidence as the MUSE enters, to music, and performs an interpretive dance.

LAURA

"The Lot"

It was the last patch of green on earth.
Just a lot it was,
Grown up with Johnson grass and thistles
And encircled by a ring of shade trees
(Post oaks, cedar, and sycamore.)
Their leaves spotted the setting sunlight
And from inside them came myriad mockingbird cries
Anticlimactically proclaiming "This is my last domain."

Sad, I thought, that this uninspired spot
Was the last lot left.
I could reel my thoughts to lands past:
Bountiful veldts, heroic steppes, noble tundra,
Rare oases of arid climes, serene northern woods,
Rainforests lush...
All harbors of vibrant life, all magnificent,
And all more worthy to remain than this weedy backyard.

This refuge from a developer's plow
Was all that there was.
All around stretched the asphalt world
Of concrete and gypsum and glass and steel.
Barren sand covered the surrounding hills.
Beneath the orange and gray troposphere
The black-green sludge pools sparkled with oil rainbows
And the highway net was strung from sea to vacant sea.

Tomorrow would be the last of it.
The ever-present bulldozers,
The instruments of rape, would come
The little green lot would be no more.
A chalky gravel mobile home park, then,
Would take this wasted space for itself.
While it lasted the lot was the vestige of spring,
But, all too quickly, the impatient sun was setting.

Act II, scene iii. The streets. There is polite applause as the lights fade out over the coffee house set and come up dimly on fog-filled streets. LAURA walks briskly along clutching her overstuffed composition book. A few people pass by as the CHORUS sets the two upholstered chairs center stage and strike the microphone stand. LAURA seems to feel someone is following her and quickens her pace. A short figure in a trench coat enters behind her and begins to follow. Laura stops and looks to and fro before crossing an intersection. The trenchcoated figure catches up to her as she crosses. She jumps to the side and walks quicker. The MUSE enters and watches in fear.

LAURA

J-jay? Is that you?...Oh...uh...Jeffrey, right? Look...

LOONEY

Do you live around here?

LAURA

Who are you?

LOONEY

I live here, you know.

LAURA

That's nice.

LOONEY
(moves in front of her)

What's your name?

LAURA

Mary.

LOONEY

Grand old name, they say.

LAURA

That's what they say. (jogs away)

LOONEY
(chasing after her)

Oh Mary! (catches up and slaps her on the shoulder) Tag, you're it!

The LOONEY skips away like a child. LAURA stops in her tracks breathing heavily. She runs through the fog. In the dark, three leather chairs are placed in another part of the stage. TIFFANY O'FARRELL and TOM, a late-night talk show host take their places for the next scene, as do ALICE SUTTER and NICOLE MASON in LAURA's apartment. The lights fade out and come up again on LAURA's apartment.

Act II, scene iv. LAURA's apartment, and a television studio in New York. The bedroom set is now LAURA's apartment. There is an atmosphere of a slumber party as LAURA lies prone on her bed, NICOLE MASON sitting on the end of the bed and ALICE SUTTER in the room's only chair, all in nightgowns. ALICE is holding a large popcorn bowl. They are all watching the glow of the unseen television downstage. In the darkened area downstage we hear the voice of a very late-night talk show host named TOM. Alternately, TOM and his guests could be shown in the light facing the audience in the same spot downstage of the bedroom set. The MUSE enters with a bowl of popcorn and stands to one side watching the television.

TOM

With us here in New York is transsexual Tiffany O'Farrell.

LAURA

I didn't know Tiffany's first name was "Transsexual".

ALICE S.

Shhhhh!

Lights come up on the television studio set. TOM, who has a tendency to ask a string of questions without pausing for an answer, speaks.

TOM

As we said at the outset, Tiffany's surgeon, Dr. Robert Jones, who performed sex reassignment surgery on Ms. O'Farrell in November of last year, will join us later...Ms. O'Farrell, are you feeling alright now? When you were last with us, almost two years ago, you had not yet undergone the transsexual procedure. Is there a great deal of pain involved? Weren't you just a little apprehensive beforehand? After all, it is an irrevocable step to take. Do you have any regrets?

TIFFANY

Well Tom, to answer your questions in order: fine, somewhat, just a little and none at all (TOM laughs.)...In the last year Dr. Jones and I have written a book. It's entitled "Tiffany and the Transsexual Experience".

LAURA

Sounds like a punk rock group, doesn't it?

ALICE S.

Laura...

TOM

When we bring out Dr. Jones we will discuss the book, but my question is "What is life like for Tiffany O'Farrell in San Francisco, California now as opposed to the way it was before the sex-change operation?"

TIFFANY

Not so hard.

LAURA

I think "Ol' Tom" has met his match in Tiffany.

ALICE S.

Laura, will you please shut up?

TOM

I mean, is there anything you can do now that you could not do before?

TIFFANY

Oh Tom, let me count the ways.

TOM

Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Tif, don't do this to me.

NICOLE

Tif?

TOM

We are kind of backlogged with commercials tonight, so we'll take a break and return to this discussion with Tiffany O'Farrell and Dr. Robert Jones when we continue in a moment.

We hear soft music from the television as LAURA sits up, stands, receives the bowl from ALICE and exits briefly into the darkness. On the talk show set the lights dim a bit. DR. JONES enters and takes his place in the remaining chair. LAURA returns with the bowl filled with popcorn.

LAURA

More popcorn?

NICOLE

No more for me, girl. I'm still on a diet.

ALICE S.

I'll take some. Could I have another soda, Laura?

LAURA
(after eating some popcorn)

Sure.

LAURA hands the bowl to ALICE, exits into the darkness, returns with a can of soda and hands it to ALICE. TIFFANY speaks as LAURA takes the popcorn bowl and eats a few kernels.

NICOLE

Laura, doesn't Tiffany look fabulous on the television? Girl, I'll bet she sells a hundred thousand copies of the book.

LAURA
(still eating)

I wouldn't be at all surprised.

LAURA passes the popcorn bowl to ALICE and sits on the bed in the lotus position.

ALICE S.

Besides the promotion, Tiffany is calling attention to the problems of transsexuals everywhere.

LAURA
(sarcastically)

The show has certainly been educational so far.

ALICE S.

Laura, how did you become such a cynic? When you first came here from Santa Fe you were much--wait. The show is back.

We hear music as the lights come up more on the set of the television program.

TOM

Joining us now is Dr. Robert A. Jones, San Francisco physician and surgeon...

LAURA

And...

ALICE S.

Don't say it, Laura.

TOM

...who has performed scores--perhaps a hundred maybe?

LAURA
(like a duck)

Quack.

ALICE S.

Laura...

DR. JONES

Yes. At least a hundred.

LAURA

Is there a duck in here?

TOM

Over a hundred transsexual surgeries, including that of Tiffany O'Farrell. Doctor, are there many like Tiffany in the United States?

ALICE S.
(cautioning)

Laura...

LAURA

I didn't say a thing.

DR. JONES

Tom, I don't have the exact statistics but I would estimate there have been a couple of thousand sex-reassignment procedures to date nationwide.

TOM

Tiffany, how did you come to find Dr. Jones for the purpose of obtaining this procedure?

LAURA

She just looked under a rock and--

NICOLE

Yeah.

ALICE S.

Laura!

LAURA

Sorry. I couldn't resist it.

TOM

The two of you have written a book together entitled "Tiffany and the Transsexual Experience". How did that collaboration come about? Was this something that you planned to do before Tiffany's operation was done or was there something unique about her experience which prompted your putting the whole thing down in print?

TIFFANY

I think I can answer that, Tom.

NICOLE

Good luck, girl.

TIFFANY

Dr. Jones was approached by the publishers to write a book on transsexualism from the standpoint of a single individual, but with the insights and expertise of a concerned professional to add credibility. As you may or may not know, most transsexuals want to avoid publicity, to fade into the woodwork, so to speak, to lead ordinary lives. I myself had some trepidation about gaining any national notoriety as a result of revealing my life story...

LAURA

Give me a break.

ALICE S.

Shhh!

TOM

What was that Benjamin Franklin story? You know, the one he told about some guy on the railroad. He said something about it being more of an honor to walk...Anyway, back to the book. You decided to go ahead and pen the darn thing...

TIFFANY

That's right, Tom. I have done a great deal of community work--counseling mostly--on behalf of transsexuals...and I made that other appearance on this show, so I guess I have no hope for total anonymity anyway. Besides, someone has to show what transsexuals are really like.

LAURA

Oh God! If people think all transsexuals are like Tiffany, they'll bring back concentration camps!

ALICE takes a pillow and beats LAURA in a fit of slumber party violence.

ALICE S.

Enough! Enough! Enough!

LAURA takes her other pillow and fights back. Pillows and popcorn fly among the three friends and all lights fade to black. At one point a pillow flies over to the MUSE. She throws it back into the fray as music plays between scenes and she exits. The CHORUS sets up the Her Majesty's Restaurant set on another part of the stage. ALICE, NICOLE, TOM, TIFFANY and DR. JONES exit quickly in the dark.

Act II, scene v. LAURA's apartment. When the lights come up again, dimly, LAURA is sleeping in the bed. The telephone rings and she gropes to answer it. We hear ALICE SUTTER in voiceover.

LAURA

Hello?...

ALICE S.
(voiceover)

Laura.

LAURA

Alice, it's almost three o'clock in the morning.

ALICE S.

You know Sandy Eddy.

LAURA
(irritated)

Yes, I know Sandy...

ALICE S.

Laura, she's dead...She was killed coming out of "The Make" around eleven last night. She was murdered.

LAURA

Oh God.

ALICE S.

April Washington found her in the alley. The slasher did it. Sandy's body was...well, sexually mutilated like the guy was disappointed she wasn't the woman he thought she was. Her throat was slashed and her face--

LAURA

Please, Alice. I don't want to hear the details.

ALICE S.

I just thought you should know...

LAURA

Yes...Thanks.

ALICE S.

Well, take care and don't go out at night by yourself.

LAURA

I won't.

ALICE S.

Good night then.

LAURA

Good night.

LAURA hangs up as the lights fade to dark. We hear confused and sinister music as LAURA's recurrent dream is played out violently. The MUSE dances through a desert filled with fog. The CHIEF appears. The MUSE runs toward him as he backs away into the darkness. A figure in a trenchcoat appears from the fog behind her and brandishes an old fashioned straight razor. She turns as he lunges for her. The lights blackout. We hear a scream. Lights come up as quickly as they went off.

Act II, scene vi. LAURA's apartment. It is morning. LAURA has turned on her night stand lamp. She is awake and in shock. The telephone rings and she answers it.

LAURA

Hello?

We hear the voice on the other end of the phone line.

MOTHER
(voiceover)

Do you know who this is?

LAURA

Mother?

MOTHER

Well, you haven't completely forgotten. That's something.

LAURA

How are you? How's Dad? I haven't heard--

MOTHER

I promised your father I would drive by to see you when I visit your Aunt Minny in Seattle.

LAURA

When?

MOTHER

Very soon. Now, is there someplace...neutral we can meet? I don't want to get caught in the midst of your freakish buddies...I hope you'll understand.

LAURA

There is a restaurant near here...

MOTHER

In public?

LAURA

Unless you want to come up to the apartment...

MOTHER

No, a restaurant will be fine.

LAURA

It will be wonderful to see you again.

MOTHER

It won't be so wonderful for me. I hope you understand. But I promised your father I'd see if you were well--although how I'll be able to tell what with all that makeup you wear...

LAURA

Not so much anymore.

MOTHER

So what is the name of this place?

LAURA

The restaurant?

MOTHER

Yes, the restaurant.

LAURA

It's called "Her Majesty's" and it's on Ellis Street near Larkin.

MOTHER

I'll find it. I'll write you when I know the exact date I'm coming.

LAURA

Do you have my address?

MOTHER

I'll get it from your father. Good-bye now.

LAURA

Good-bye.

They hang up as the lights crossfade: out slowly on LAURA and in slowly on Her Majesty's Restaurant.

Act II, scene vii. Her Majesty's Restaurant. LYNNETTE POWELL is sitting in the booth finishing her meal. She leaves some cash on the table and stands as LAURA enters.

LYNNETTE

Sit down, Laura. I was just leaving.

LAURA
(sitting)

Lynnette, I'm sorry I'm late. I didn't get much sleep last night. Then my mother called early this morning. I finally fell asleep about six thirty and overslept. I just got out of bed and called in sick to work. Then I remembered I was meeting you for lunch. I got here as soon as--

LYNNETTE

No excuses necessary. But maybe subconsciously you wanted to oversleep. Have you thought about that?

LAURA

Look, someone I know was murdered last night, okay?

LYNNETTE

Now you're grasping at straws, Laura. Never mind. I forgive you. (stands) I'll call you later.

LYNNETTE exits and PAT the waitress enters with a coffee pot.

PAT

She hates it when people are late. What do you want?

LAURA

Hi Pat...A patty melt, house salad and iced tea.

PAT

Fine. And don't think that you and I are as close friends as Lynnette and I are either.

LAURA

What? (PAT exits) What was that about?

LAURA takes out a sheet of paper from her purse, holds it up to read, sets it on the table. PAT returns to take the money. She counts it.

PAT

A dollar short.

LAURA

I didn't take it.

PAT

Didn't say you did. You good for it?

LAURA
(finding a dollar in her purse)

Of course. Here.

PAT takes the dollar and exits. LAURA takes a pen from her purse, makes a quick correction on the paper and reads as she composes.

LAURA
(voiceover)

"Homesick"

Homesick
For a time and a place
That is no more,
Never was, and
May never be.
How sad...
Sweet time,
Where is it?
Is it lost for good?
Never for the good.
Where did it go?
Was it ever near?
Near enough to touch,
But I didn't.
So sad...
It was always sad.
Why should it change?
Nothing changes really,
But nothing stays the same
For long.

Act II, scene viii. Her Majesty's Restaurant.ALICE SUTTER and TIFFANY O'FARRELL enter unseen by LAURA and approach her table.

ALICE S.

Laura...How are you today?

LAURA
(looking up)

Hello, Alice...Tiffany...

ALICE S.

Looks like you didn't get much sleep last night. Neither did I, so I played hooky from work and my business classes. I had to meet Tiffany at the airport anyway...We were actually looking for YOU. The counseling center said you called in sick and you weren't at home, so we thought there was a chance you'd be here.

LAURA

Well, you found me.

ALICE S.

Sandy's boyfriend David called me about the funeral. It's in Colma, naturally. He's planning a short memorial afterward...The family only wants relatives to attend the funeral itself. They're afraid to deal with anyone who really knew Sandy the last few years. David is banished and so are the rest of us, but we'll meet and remember her in our own way...Being a poet, I thought you might want to write something for the occasion. I know it's short notice.

LAURA
(almost surprised at Alice's sincerity)

I would be honored. Thank you.

TIFFANY
(sitting beside LAURA in the booth)

There is something else, Laura. Dr. Jones says you have not yet paid him a visit.

LAURA

There really is no point in it, Tiffany. Alright, I'm sorry about all my disparaging remarks about Dr. Jones, but I've decided to stay with the university's gender program.

TIFFANY motions to ALICE who sits on LAURA's other side and joins in the attack.

ALICE S.

Suit yourself, Laura, but it's possible there will be no university program by the end of your probation.

LAURA

That rumor has been making the rounds for years.

TIFFANY

I think the situation at the university is coming to a head. With Dr. Stanyan retiring the gender program could be on its last legs. I'm sure you realize the university hospital's board of trustees has been hostile to the program from its inception. Only Dr. Stanyan's international prestige has kept it going as long as it has.

LAURA

I'm sure Dr. Parnassus--

TIFFANY

Parnassus is out of his league.

LAURA

Well, they can't just close it down. They have to honor their commitments.

TIFFANY

Don't stake your life on it. Oh, they'll refer you to clinics in other cities, other states--many on the verge of closing also, by the way. Our cause is considered frivolous, unpopular, too risky to insure. Only a few private clinics will take a chance. Eventually you'll be forced to go to Dr. Jones--if he'll have you--or to someone of more questionable skill and ethics.

LAURA

There's no such animal.

ALICE S.

Go ahead. Make jokes. (to TIFFANY) She's always making jokes. (to LAURA) I can't believe you would risk putting off the operation for several years...or forever.

TIFFANY

If you ARE transsexual--which I'm beginning to doubt--you would rather die than live as a transvestite or pretend to be a guy for the rest of your life. Am I right? (sees the answer in LAURA's eyes) I thought so. You WILL see Dr. Jones this afternoon, won't you?

LAURA

I'll think about it.

TIFFANY

Don't think too long. His office closes at 6:00. Alice, I think Laura has had a change of heart about Dr. Jones.

ALICE S.

Laura, you won't regret it.

LAURA

I regret it already.

ALICE S.

Just keep an eye on me. I'll show you how it's done. I'm all set to check into the clinic next Monday night. The surgery is Tuesday morning. I'll finally be a whole woman!...The rest of the group will go "under the knife" on the following four Tuesdays. You'll take Sandy's place. You can go last, if you like. Sandy really thought very well of you, Laura. She would have wanted you to take her place...Look, I've watched a lot of girls go through this. It's a "piece of cake"...Anyway, we'll leave you to eat in peace and get ready to see Dr. Jones. (stands) Come on, Tiffany. She knows what to do now. (TIFFANY stands) Laura, we'll see you at the memorial service. 'Bye now.

TIFFANY

Remember Laura, before six o'clock today. Good-bye.

LAURA

Good-bye.

ALICE and TIFFANY exit. LAURA sits staring into space as the lights fade to black.

Act II, scene ix. Peninsula Cemetary, Colma. Somber music plays. In the dark DAVID enters another part of the stage quietly followed by NICOLE, ALICE SUTTER, ALICE GEARY and TIFFANY. LAURA enters behind them. They all stand before DAVID who begins speaking before the lights come up again.

DAVID

We just had a little argument. It was nothing. Sandy got angry and said she had to get away back to the City, back to the old neighborhood. (lights come up) She loved the house, the suburbs, even Burlingame--I'm convinced of that. But with the new job, I had to put in a lot more time at the store. I told her it was only a temporary thing, but she wasn't used to staying home alone. We were finally going to spend our first night alone together in almost a month when I got a call about an inventory problem. We argued, Sandy got mad, she walked right to the BART station and rode the train into the City. That was the last I ever saw of her. It wasn't even much of an argument. She was just restless...I spent most of this morning trying to deal with Sandy's parents. Her mother came for her things. She's welcome to them...Not that she was greedy. She didn't take anything that would show Sandy to be a woman. Sandy's clothes are still there, so are pictures of us together. I guess I should be grateful...I'm glad to see many of her friends here today. I...uh...listened to the funeral from the back of the crowd. Of course, they used her male name and that name is on her tombstone...like Sandy never existed...just this "son" of theirs who was nothing but an embarrassment to them in life, so they made sure "he" can't hurt them anymore in death...But I'll remember her. We all will...Anyway, I've said more than enough. I understand that Laura has written a poem, a eulogy, for the occasion. Laura?

LAURA steps forward as DAVID stands back.

LAURA

It's very short, but to the point. (reads)

"Remember Me"

Forget me not.
Know that I've been.
Recall me.
I'll be once again.
Just recollect
And I'll always be.
Remember me.
Remember me.
Remember me.

Act II, scene x. LAURA's dreams and her apartment. The lights fade to black. All exit in the dark as somber music changes into dream music. Lights and music come up on a version of LAURA's recurring dream. We see LAURA in her bed sleeping. There is fog all around. The CHIEF emerges from the fog carrying the MUSE's apparently lifeless body. We hear the voice of LAURA's FATHER speak.

FATHER
(voiceover)

Don't run...Don't run away...Laura...

MOTHER
(voiceover)

I forbid you to call him that.

Somewhere between the FATHER's and the MOTHER's words we hear an argument and some crashing of furniture in the distance. The sounds grow louder and wake LAURA from her dream. She slowly recognizes NICOLE's voice.

NICOLE
(crying out)

Nick don't! Nick!

We hear a door slam. Then there is silence except for NICOLE's faint weeping. LAURA gets out of bed and pulls on her robe. She wanders into the darkness just outside her room. The lights fade on her room and come up dimly on another part of the stage. LAURA calls out.

LAURA
(stepping into the light)

Nicole? Nicole, are you okay?

NICOLE steps slouchingly into the light, facing LAURA, her right hand covering her right eye.

NICOLE
(weakly)

Oh girl...He never hit me before...Not this hard anyway...

LAURA
(examining NICOLE's eye)

Was it Nick? Nick did this? Should I call the police?

NICOLE

The police? Girl, you wanna call the police on Nick?...No. Don't do that...I'll be okay.

LAURA

Do you need a doctor?

NICOLE shakes her head. The spotlights widen and TERRY and ARVIS enter upstage and between LAURA and NICOLE.

ARVIS

What the fuck is goin' on here?

TERRY

I think I can handle this, sweetheart...Now, Nicole, what the fuck's goin' on?

LAURA

Nicole and Nick had a fight.

TERRY
(examining NICOLE's eye)

The bastard! He's out. That's it. He's banned from the premises.

NICOLE

Please don't, Terry.

TERRY

Break any furniture?

NICOLE

A lamp...a chair...That's all I guess.

TERRY

If he comes back, tell the son-of-a-bitch he's banned unless he replaces what he broke.

NICOLE

If he comes back...I will...Thanks, girl.

TERRY

Best put a steak on that eye. Sorry, but we gotta go. Gotta look for my baby. She's run away from her dad again--and she didn't come to me this time. I'm worried. Come on, Arvis.

TERRY and ARVIS exit.

NICOLE

Girl, I got a mess to clean up.

LAURA

Need some help?

NICOLE

Thanks, girl, but no. I gotta do it myself. Girl, I need time to think what do to next. Guess I'll ask Dr. Jones if I can work full time for a while.

LAURA

Nicole, will you be alright?

NICOLE

Yeah girl. I'll doctor the bruise and lay low until it heals a little. You goin' to work now?

LAURA

I'm taking the day off. My mother is in town.

NICOLE

That's real nice, girl.

LAURA

You'd think so, wouldn't you?

Act II, scene xi. Her Majesty's Restaurant. Lights fade out over LAURA and NICOLE as they come up on a booth in Her Majesty's Restaurant. LAURA's MOTHER is sitting in the booth sipping coffee nervously. LAURA enters the lighted area and crosses to the booth, unseen by her MOTHER at first.

LAURA

Hi, Mom.

MOTHER
(slowly recognizing LAURA)

Oh God. It IS you. What are you doing to yourself to look like that? No, don't tell me.

LAURA

It's good to see you.

MOTHER

Would you sit down? You're making a spectacle.

LAURA
(taking her place in the booth)

Did you have a good trip?

MOTHER

How could I look at you looking like that and have a good trip?

LAURA

How's Dad?

MOTHER

Your father gave me a message to relate to you. Now, this is him saying this, not me, understand?

LAURA

Sure. What did he say?

MOTHER

He says he loves you...Well, I love you too. Don't ever say your mother doesn't love you...He says he loves you whoever you are and whatever you do but just be sure you know what you're doing...I told you that wasn't from me.

LAURA

Thanks...Have you...uh...heard from Becky lately?

MOTHER

Your sister's fine but that's all she wants me to say. She says she doesn't want you knowing her business and she doesn't want to know yours. There is one other thing I am to say just this once. You are never to come near her or her husband or her boys.

LAURA

I see.

MOTHER

She seems harsh, but can you blame her? She doesn't love you with a mother's love like I do...And, of course, you do realize you are never to come back to Santa Fe...

PAT the waitress enters with her pad and pencil.

PAT

Ladies, can I get you something for breakfast?

LAURA
(scanning the menu)

I'll have the Number Two Breakfast and a small orange juice. Mom?

MOTHER
(wincing)

Just a refill of coffee please.

PAT

So you're Laura's mother. Nice to meet you. Your daughter's one of our regulars, you know. It's easy to see where she gets her good looks. (MOTHER smiles weakly) How would you like your eggs, Laura?

LAURA

Sunnyside up, only cooked a little more and--

MOTHER

He means he wants them over easy. That's the way he's always had them. Why he can't remember "over easy" is beyond me. When he was a boy--

PAT

What's all this "he" business? I see what's going on here. You just can't play the game, can you Mom?

MOTHER

Oh God. It's another one of THEM.

PAT

No. I'm not one of them, but I know my manners. I see all kinds come in here every day. I see how they act and I see how they dress. I treat them accordingly. But you know something? Your daughter here...yes, your daughter here is a cut above those posers--maybe five or six cuts above. And do you know why? Because she's the real thing. Now I don't care what she was back home or what the doctor said she was when she was born or what some blood test might say she is. I don't even know how it can be possible, but any moron can see she is a woman. So why can't you? Why WON'T you? You should be proud you have such an intelligent...beautiful...graceful...kind-hearted...daughter. There. I said it. I'll be back with your Number Two Breakfast and YOUR coffee. (starts to exit, then leans back in a stage whisper only LAURA is supposed to hear) Don't you dare tell Lynnette I said that.

PAT exits, leaving LAURA and her MOTHER both with their jaws wide open in amazement as lights fade to black on Her Majesty's Restaurant.

Act II, scene xii. The hallway outside LAURA's apartment. Lights fade out over LAURA and her MOTHER in Her Majesty's Restaurant and come up dimly over the streets. In the darkness, they stand and MOTHER exits. LAURA walks through the streets as if in a dream. We hear music and see the MUSE dancing in the distance. The lights come up to half just as LAURA nears her apartment set. NICOLE enters frantically.

NICOLE

Laura, thank God you're here, girl!

LAURA
(turning to see her)

What is it, Nicole. Is Nick bothering you again?

NICOLE

Laura, Nick is back with me but he's changed. He was so sorry, and girl, he begged me to take him back. And he's bein' good. He even paid for the furniture damage. No, it's Alice, girl. She's out of her head.

LAURA

I thought she'd still be in the hospital. Didn't she have the surgery yesterday?

NICOLE

She had it but Dr. Jones let her go home today. He's got her hopped up on all kinds of pain killers and stuff. Girl, she's talkin' in her sleep and makin' bad jokes, not makin' much sense. Alice G. and this little Australian guy's in there with her to keep her company. Anyway, she wants to see you before she drops off to sleep again.

LAURA

Okay, for a little while.

LAURA follows NICOLE to the edge of ALICE's apartment. ALICE SUTTER, in her bed, is flanked on either side by ALICE GEARY and JAY CHURCH sitting in chairs.

ALICE G.
(gesturing)

Laura! Please come in. Alice, look, it's Laura.

ALICE S.
(weakly)

Laura? (props herself up in bed) Let me see you.

LAURA steps forward and takes her hand and squeezes it gently. LAURA notices the many bottles of pills on the night stand, picks up one here and there, reading the labels to herself.

NICOLE

Now that Laura's here, I'm off, girl. 'Bye girls.

ALICE G.

Night, Nicole.

JAY

Good to meet you.

NICOLE exits.

LAURA

Good night...(to ALICE S.) I dropped by Dr. Jones's clinic yesterday but the duty nurse said you were sleeping and probably wouldn't be able to have visitors for a few days.

ALICE S. (dreamily)

Just making room for the next contestant. April Washington's under the knife a week early. Time to move on...April Washington, come on down. You're the next contestant on "The Price Is Right"!

LAURA

Are you taking all these pills?

ALICE S.

One pill at a time...Sometimes two...or three...

LAURA

I'm no doctor, Alice, but I'm not sure all these should be taken together.

ALICE S.

Well, I'm feeling no pain...Flying high and feeling no pain.

ALICE G.

We're watching her to make sure she doesn't over do it. And she doesn't really require a lot of nursing--just someone to change her catheter bag once in a while. She sleeps most of the time anyway.

ALICE S.

And next week Dr. Jones will take away the catheter so I can pee pee like the rest of the girls. (sings) "They can't take that away from me."...Well, they did take THAT away from me. (laughs) Good riddance.

LAURA

Jay, I didn't know you knew Alice.

ALICE S.

I met Jay through Kay Ingleside..."Jay through Kay": I'm back in the office filing...J, K, L-M-N-O-P...Gotta pee...Don't get up. Bag's not full. Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full...Three bags full today...tomorrow the world...

LAURA

Alice, you know Kay Ingleside?

ALICE G.

I think she's dozing off again.

LAURA

Maybe I'd better leave now.

ALICE S.
(suddenly awake, as if continuing another conversation)

So I swear I woke up in the middle of the surgery, and it was done mostly. So I said--still under general anesthesia, you understand--so I said, "It won't be LONG now..." (laughs, dozes a second) Not LONG now...(laughs, dozes off)

JAY

I gotta go too. Nice to know you, Alice G. Tell Alice S. I'll talk to her later--when she's alright. You know.

ALICE G.

I'll tell her.

ALICE S.
(suddenly awake again, continuing)

Well, I know they dropped the rest of it on the floor, see. "Oops," Dr. Jones said. And so I said, "Don't worry, Doc, that's the way the ball bounces." (laughs) Or was it balls bounces?...balls bounce? Need to work on that one...(dozes again)

JAY
(leaving the flat with LAURA)

Good night. (to LAURA, as they exit the room) This is where I came in. I've heard it a hundred times already.

The lights fade out on ALICE's apartment when LAURA and JAY exit. In her sleep ALICE SUTTER calls out once more in her sleep.

ALICE S. It was nip and tuck there for a while! (laughs) Nip and tuck!

JAY
(to LAURA)

I didn't want to say nothin' in there with Alice G. not knowin' you-know-what. Alice...Alice S., that is...Alice told Kay she could get me in good with her doc. Mine's a real slug, you know. Ain't doin' a thing for me.

LAURA

Be careful, Jay. Dr. Jones is...Well, you see how he's got Alice all doped up and out of the hospital too soon.

JAY

That's Alice, not me. I can handle Doc Jones, long as he gives me what I need.

LAURA

Just be careful.

JAY

Crikey! I'm twenty-one now, Laura. I'm legal everywhere.

LAURA

I know.

JAY exits toward the street while LAURA exits toward her apartment.

Act II, scene xiii. LAURA's apartment and the streets beyond. The lights fade to black and when they come up again LAURA is in bed asleep dreaming of her dancing self in the streets. We hear the amplified voices of her MOTHER and her FATHER from offstage as the MUSE reacts to them.

FATHER

Do what you need to do, Laura, but make sure you know what you're doing. Be careful.

MOTHER

Lawrence, if you do this, don't come back home. You are not to come home--ever. Do you understand?

The CHIEF enters majestically in the distance carrying a peace pipe. Lights fade up slightly over LAURA in bed. She is amazed to hear the CHIEF speak.

CHIEF
(with open hands and arms outstretched)

Enough!

LAURA

You can speak.

CHIEF

Yes, Laura.

LAURA

Great-great-grandfather, you called me Laura.

CHIEF

For that is your true name. I had many names in my life. I had one name when I was born, another when I became a warrior, and...I took on another to escape being driven to the white man's reservation. I knew the Spanish tongue and the ways of the charro so I became Antonio Sabinal and worked on a Texas ranch. I told no one of my Comanche past, not my wife or our children. Only in letters to our grandchildren did I reveal the truth. I survived and my children survived and my children's children down to you. (takes off his head dress) You call me Chief, but you know I am not a chief, and I am no longer worthy of the name "warrior". I was always secretly ashamed I did not fight the white man and die a Comanche. I always knew my true self even when I ran from it. You must not run from yourself. But you know you are Laura. You know you must fight to be Laura at all costs. The dreaming is ending. Come, Laura. (extending his hands to either side) It is time for you to join with your dream self and be one.

LAURA rises from bed, tentatively, gracefully sleepwalking toward him. The MUSE glides, dancing to the CHIEF as well. The CHIEF takes each by hand and steps back, disappearing into the darkness. LAURA and the MUSE face each other and dance a simple but graceful dance, each a mirror of the others movements. Finally, they come together, the MUSE behind LAURA, their arms outstretched. The lights come down to a spotlight on them. The MUSE exits unseen behind LAURA, backing into the darkness. LAURA, still with her arms outstretched, whirls around alone in the spotlight, which fades to darkness when the music ends.

Act II, scene xiv. Her Majesty's Restaurant and the streets outside. The lights come up on LAURA and LYNNETTE sitting at a booth and sipping coffee.

LYNNETTE

I can't believe you gave that quack's rent-a-shrink a hundred bucks. What possessed you to do that?

LAURA

Dr. Jones may have an iffy reputation, but I've only heard the best things about Dr. Lombard. I needed a psychological evaluation, that's all.

LYNNETTE

Laura, those two work hand-in-glove. Lombard is as crooked as they come.

LAURA

He said that I was a prime candidate for surgery.

LYNNETTE

Of course he did. Your check cleared.

LAURA

Actually, I paid cash. Don't worry. I just saw Dr. Jones and Dr. Lombard to get Alice and Tiffany off my back. Beside, I understand Dr. Lombard's word has as much weight with the university program as it does with Dr. Jones.

LYNNETTE

I hope you're right about that. After what you told me about your former roommate I would have thought you'd keep your distance from Dr. Jones and company.

LAURA

Look, I'm not like Alice. She has no self-control. That's why she has a friend keeping tabs on her drug in-take. But I know what I'm doing. I won't let anyone talk me into anything.

LYNNETTE

Is she healing at all? How long has it been?

LAURA

Its been a month now. Alice is doing a lot better--except she makes strange claims sometimes. She told me just the other day her body odor is changing. She says she smells like fresh bread dough.

LYNNETTE

Probably a yeast infection.

LAURA

That's good. I might use that next time.

Someone passes in front of them. LAURA sees her.

LYNNETTE

Feel free.

LAURA

I know her. (Takes bills from her purse, leaves them on the table) I need to catch her, Lynnette. See you later.

LAURA exits the restaurant catches up to JAMEY, who is looking somewhat worse for wear, out in the street. LYNNETTE continues sipping.

LAURA

Jamey?

JAMEY
(turning around)

Oh God.

LAURA

Your mother's been looking all over for you.

JAMEY

Please don't tell her you saw me.

LAURA

What about your father?

JAMEY

I don't want to see my mother. You think I want my uptight Dad to know what I've been doing?

LAURA

Look. It's none of my business, but I think they want to know you're not dead.

JAMEY

I wish I was dead. Maybe I'll get lucky and die in childbirth.

LAURA

You're pregnant too. Oh boy.

JAMEY

Yeah...Well, it was nice running into you. I've gotta go.

LAURA

Where?

JAMEY

Who knows? Who cares?

LAURA

I do. I'm sure your mom would too.

JAMEY

I don't know. I'm just tired. It's stupid but I wish I could go back and start over. I'd even get a real job if it wasn't too late. Anyway, I can't let her see me like this.

LAURA

I'd let you clean up at my place, but your mother and Arvis would catch you...I've got an idea. We'll give it a try anyway. Come with me.

LAURA takes JAMEY by the hand and they re-enter the restaurant where PAT GRANT is pouring a coffee refill for LYNNETTE.

LAURA

Pat, you could use some help around here, couldn't you?

PAT

Always. You talking about your little friend here. She might not pass the health code.

LAURA

She'll clean up okay. That's where Lynnette comes in.

LYNNETTE

Me?

LAURA

If you could take her in for a couple days. Let her clean up. We'll get her some decent clothes.

LYNNETTE

A couple of days? Then what?

LAURA

Then she'll be presentable enough to see her mother, and maybe eventually her father.

JAMEY

Now wait a minute.

LAURA

It's up to you, but you know your mother will take you in.

JAMEY

Even with a baby coming?

LYNNETTE

The plot thickens.

LAURA
(to JAMEY)

What do YOU think?

JAMEY

Yeah. I just tell her I got pregnant by some boy and was afraid to go home--easiest thing in the world.

LAURA

No offense intended, but she's not exactly Mrs. America herself.

JAMEY

I guess not.

PAT

You got some better clothes?

LYNNETTE

I have some that might fit her.

PAT

That would be just fine if she was going to work at the Pebble Beach pro shop.

LYNNETTE
(offended)

Just what are you saying, Pat?

PAT

I have a daughter about your size. I'll get you something.

JAMEY

I don't know what to say.

PAT

Say "Thank you" and don't let us down.

JAMEY

It's a deal. Thank you.

LYNNETTE

Well, that was easy.

LAURA

If only everything in life were so uncomplicated.

Act II, scene xv. Earthquake Press and the streets. JAMEY and PAT look at LYNNETTE and LAURA in disbelief over their last statements. JAMEY hugs PAT, LAURA and LYNNETTE in turn as the lights fade out. In the darkness the counter for Earthquake Press is set downstage center. As the lights come up, LAURA starts to read her seagull poem from her composition book when she is interupted by the PUBLISHER.

LAURA

"I fly to the dawning sun--"

PUBLISHER

Stop flying, land already. Just perch right there. (LAURA puts down the composition book.) Look, you have one poem I like. We're putting together this anthology about...oh I don't know...alternative voices of San Francisco, let's say. It's called "Don't Call It Frisco". You're poem, "San Francisco" would be perfect to start it off.

LAURA
(moving toward him)

Thank you!

PUBLISHER
(hugging her)

Now, there won't be much payment--none until after publication--but you will be published. And if the book is well-received, who knows? Maybe a small chapbook is in your future. But I'm making no promises, of course.

LAURA

That's fine. It's a start. Thank you.

PUBLISHER

Do you have it with you? I'll copy it and give it back to you later.

LAURA
(ripping a page from her composition book)

Here.

PUBLISHER
(taking the page)

Let me read it once more. (reads) "'San Francisco' by Laura Sabinal."

The Publisher reads the poem in voiceover as theme music and lights come up over streets filled with the usual characters moving to and fro in a dance choreographed precisely as it was at the beginning of the play. The dance echoes the story of the poem once again. During the reading the lights over Earthquake Press fade out, and the counter is struck. Laura takes the place of the MUSE in the dance.

"San Francisco"

San Francisco, alien city,
Your winds blow warm and cold
Like the faces of your people.
My passions rise and settle
With the drift of your mist.
You have welcomed me wholly
Only to snub me in your streets;
I exist through your benevolence
Yet your whims deny my being.
I am both one with your spirit
And nothing to your numb heart.
I will win you, be assured.
You will love me yet.
I have learned your fickle moods;
They cannot faze me now.
I turn my face to your changing gusts
And bear the wind and the rain.
They cannot erode my new-flowered self;
They cannot erase my naked soul.
I pour and I flow with your elements
Now that I know I'm whole!"

Act II, scene xvi. LAURA's apartment and the hallway outside. Lights fade to black over the street scene. When the lights come up again LAURA is joyfully writing a poem into her composition book.

LAURA
(voiceover)

"Some Days"

Some days it all feels right.
Some days it falls into place.
Some days nothing dares go wrong.
Some days you're back in the race.
You take stock of your life.
You weigh pros and cons.
You see no road blocks ahead.
You see no dusks, just dawns.

(then live) "Cons" and "dawns"...It's not quite a rhyme. (putting down book and pen, collecting clothes from the chair, starting to exit) Who cares? If anyone notices, I'll show them my poetic license. (exits, sings while dressing) "San Francisco...alien city, your winds blow warm and cold...like the faces of your people...My passions rise and settle... (re-entering, dressed) with the drift of your mist..." Okay, so I'm no Donna Summer...Still, that just might be a song.

LAURA looks around, picks up her purse, checks to make sure everything is in it, and exits into the patch of darkness next to her room. As she emerges into the next spotlighted area ALICE SUTTON intercepts her.

LAURA

Alice, how are you? Sorry I haven't been down to see you since your recovery.

ALICE S.

I understand. I'm great. I'm driving my Volkswagen stick shift again.

LAURA

Congratulations.

ALICE S.

On your way out?

LAURA

I'm meeting my friend Lynnette for lunch.

ALICE S.

Should you be eating this close to your surgery? Tomorrow is your Monday, right?

LAURA

Alice, I never committed to the surgery with Dr. Jones. I'll wait for the University program just like I've planned all along.

ALICE S.

But you got Dr. Lombard's psychiatric evaluation.

LAURA

Yes but that's as close as I get to Dr. Jones.

ALICE S.

I see...Oh the reason I tried to catch you is that yesterday I got one of your letters by mistake again. (hands letter to LAURA)

LAURA

It's from the University...Did you steam it open, read it and reseal it?

ALICE S.

No, it came that way. What do you think of me? Besides, I don't need to read it. I know a lot of girls who got that letter this week.

LAURA

What do you mean?

ALICE S.

Dr. Jones is waiting at his clinic. And you'll need that umbrella. It's raining pretty hard out there. Bye now. (exits)

LAURA opens the envelope and reads the letter.

LAURA
(voiceover)

"Dear Gender Program Candidate: It is with great regret that the University Gender Dysphora Clinic must announce its closing due to the recent termination of funding by the University's Board of Governors..." (scans down the page) "...A list of appropriate clinic and hospital gender programs follows..." (scans down further) "...Again, we regret this situation and wish all our candidates the best of luck..." (wads the letter into a ball) "Best of luck." I'll make my own luck.

Act II, scene xvii. The streets. LAURA exits from the spotlight into the darkness of center stage. The lights come up on the streets. People rush to and fro around LAURA in the rain with sounds of distant thunder in the background. As she passes Her Majesty's Restaurant Lynnette meets her.

LYNNETTE

Slow down, Laura. You're here already. Come in out of the rain.

LAURA
(walking by)

Sorry, Lynnette. I've got other business now. See you in a week or so. (exits)

LYNNETTE

What are you talking about? Laura? Laura?

Lights fade to black just long enough for LAURA to re-enter from another direction. When the lights come up she is still on the streets. It is still raining. There is louder thunder and lights flash to indicate lightning. The lights dim gradually as fewer people pass by and more quickly, apparently blown along by stronger winds, until LAURA is alone on the streets. A man in an overcoat appears, unseen by LAURA, out of the rain behind her. He speaks.

BUSINESSMAN

What do you say we get in out of the rain until all this blows over?

LAURA (turning, startled)

What?

BUSINESSMAN

I remember you. (grabs her arm) Over here in this doorway...

With his other hand the BUSINESSMAN reveals his long-handled box cutter. LAURA struggles to get free as he pulls her toward one side of the stage.

You're not going anywhere. Think you're pretty, don't you, freak.

LAURA struggles but he pulls her close with both arms, the blade at her neck. Suddenly, the BUSINESSMAN stiffens as someone behind him holds an object tipped with cold steel to the back of his neck. We hear the other person speak in a thick Australian accent.

JAY

Drop it, mate. Drop it now. Now! (BUSINESSMAN drops the box cutter.) Now let the lady go.

BUSINESSMAN
(releasing LAURA to reveal JAY holding an umbrella almost over his head)

You know, I don't think that's a gun at all.

JAY

Laura, run get the cops!

BUSINESSMAN
(reaching behind his head to grab the umbrella)

I thought so. (eyes the umbrella, steps back) Brave little boy, aren't you?

JAY
(revealing and brandishing his electric guitar)

Run, Laura, damn it!

LAURA

I can't leave you here, Jay.

BUSINESSMAN
(using the crook of the umbrella to pull the box cutter toward him)

What are you going to do? Play me the Beatles greatest hits?

JAY crosses, kicks the box cutter away and pounds the guitar between the BUSINESSMAN's shoulder blades, making him collapse.

JAY

Just run. I got him! Go!

LAURA, thinking JAY has matters in hand, runs, stumbling, downstage past the audience. However, the BUSINESSMAN recovers quickly and swings the umbrella catching JAY under his jaw and sending him flying backwards. The BUSINESSMAN rises to his feet and moves toward the box cutter. He takes a step toward JAY, changes his mind, throws the umbrella at JAY, and runs downstage in the direction of LAURA's exit. Meanwhile, JAY regains consciousness, struggles to his feet, takes up the umbrella, his only weapon, and runs downstage also, stopping at the edge of the stage.

JAY

Run, Laura! He got away! Cross the tracks and get on the tram! The streetcar! He's coming! Laura!

We hear the clang of a streetcar bell, the tire-screaching of several cars, the honking of horns and a loud metallic crunch.

JAY
(desparately)

Laura!

Act II, scene xviii. The streets of San Francisco and an outdoor market in Taos, New Mexico. The main theme music plays as curtain calls begin. The entire company, except for the actress playing LAURA, cross from all directions, settle downstage, and take their bows. The group parts and those playing the voice of Laura's FATHER, the Looney, the talkshow GUEST, the television ANNOUNCER, the BOUNCER and TYRONE from "The Make", DR. JONES, JEREMY CHURCH, the actor playing JOHNNY, MERV and TOM, the MAN and the WOMAN from the "Ellis Street" scene, KATHY from the therapy group scene, and the PATIENT from the Reno psychiatrist scene step downstage center, bow and part. They are followed by those who played the PUBLISHER, JEFFREY from "The Make", the BUSINESSMAN, Sandy's DAVID, DR. DIVISADERO and his assistant AUDREY and KAY INGLESIDE from the therapy group, the Reno psychiatrist DR. ANDREA CARSON, TERRY and ARVIS and JAMEY, SANDY EDDY, and ALICE GEARY the other ALICE. Next to take their bows will be JAY the Aussie, LYNNETTE, PAT the waitress, ALICE the former roommate, the flashy NICOLE, the media animal TIFFANY, and Laura's MOTHER. The next group will be left until the very end. The order will be ultimately decided by the director and will depend on how the casting is distributed. When everyone has bowed, the company parts and exits in all directions to reveal the Taos market. The lights come up in bright desert colors. Seen in three-quarter profile a woman, dressed in springtime colors, is sitting at a table with stacks of brightly colored books in front of her. Her face is obscurred by a large straw hat. MOTHER crosses before her downstage and stops at the table.

MOTHER

Oh God. It's you.

The woman removes the large hat and we see she is LAURA.

LAURA

I'm glad to see you too, Mom.

MOTHER

I thought you promised never to come home.

LAURA

This is Taos, not Santa Fe. I could ask what you're doing here.

MOTHER

I thought I'd shop for a painting for the livingroom...and your father told me you'd be here...I can't believe you actually went through with it.

LAURA

I told you all along I would. What I didn't know was there was a reputable clinic around here.

MOTHER

How could such a place ever be reputable? What I'll never understand is why you would want to do this. Didn't we raise you properly?

LAURA

It has nothing to do with raising, I'm sure of that. No one really knows the cause. But this is who I am, Mom. Try to understand. Try to be happy for me. I am.

MOTHER

I take it you're all healed--your leg I mean. As your mother, I am glad you were not murdered, that the killer perished and not you. Never think your mother doesn't care.

LAURA

I know.

MOTHER

I suppose your father and I could move to Montana or Alaska or some such place, maybe back to Guadalajara...

LAURA

Mom, please. You'll be fine too. Here. Have one of my books. (hands it to her) Not only do I work at Porfirio Publications but they've published my first book of poetry.

MOTHER

No thank you. I know your subject matter.

LAURA

These are my nature poems. I'm told they're not bad.

MOTHER
(reading)

"I fly to the dawning sun..."

The lights fade to black. Music plays in the darkness as the cast re-enters, stands around the edge of the stage, parts for LAURA and her entourage. Flanked by the dancing MUSE, the singing MUSE and the CHIEF, who all bow first, LAURA steps downstage and finally takes her bow. Then she acknowledges the cast and the orchestra. Music plays until the audience clears the theatre.


THE END
(except for music and minor editing)