©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.
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
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.
LAURA's father. Only heard as a voice in LAURA's dreams. (mid to late 50's)
LAURA's mother. Seems aloof and disapproving. She probably is. (early to mid-50's)
the idealized image of LAURA's great-great-grandfather, a Comanche warrior (any age)
Alice and Company
an older, perhaps somewhat less feminine transsexual, given to wearing pantsuits in 1970's-only colors; white (mid-30's to early 40's)
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 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)
a stunningly beautiful transsexual woman, confident, successful, everything LAURA wants to be (late 20's to early 30's)
a self-styled "professional" transsexual, perhaps a little over made-up, wears Joan Crawford-like business suits; white (early to mid- 40's)
LAURA's apartment house manager, lesbian, a tough facade masks a vulnerable human being; white (early to mid-40's)
TERRY's even tougher lover and roommate, lesbian, also known as "The Dutchman" (early to mid-40's)
TERRY's straight but troubled teenage daughter (mid to late-teens)
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)
Also known as "Lawrence", LYNNETTE's former male self, played in silhouette by same person as LYNNETTE (early 30's)
a waitress at "Her Majesty's Restaurant" (early 30's)
a social worker (mid-20's to 30)
DR. CARLOS DIVISADERO
a South American-born psychologist (early to mid-40's)
a transsexual in the therapy group (mid-20's to early 30's)
volatile young transsexual man in the therapy group, extremely young looking; may or may not be Australian; white (early 20's)
a transsexual in the therapy group, depressed to the point of inactivity (early to mid-30's)
LAURA's prospective date, short and shy; white (mid-20's)
boorish type who tries to pick up LAURA at the bar, white (mid-30's to early 40's)
big guy, ponytail, lots of tattoos (early to mid-30's)
SANDY's DAVID, a typical young grocery store manager (mid-30's)
NICOLE's dancing partner (late twenties to early 30's)
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)
an actor interviewed on JOHNNY's show. He is heard and not seen in the play.
commercial announcer, heard but not seen, male (any age)
a small-time publisher for "Earthquake Press," male, probably white, probably gay (late 20's to early 30's)
woman who insults LAURA on the street, African-American (early 30's)
husband or boyfriend of the BLACK WOMAN; African-American; he speaks one of the verses of the poem "Ellis Street Suite" (early 30's)
a shadowy figure in a trench coat, a mass murderer; white (thirtyish)
a shadowy figure in a trench coat, not a mass murderer; white (thirtyish)
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.
San Francisco, alien city,
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..
Who is it?
I'm Laura Sabinal. I'm looking for Alice Sutter.
Alice ain't here now, girl.
Alice wrote me I could stay with her.
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 seems to feel a chill in the air, perhaps some raindrops.
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.
You're looking for Alice Sutter?
ALICE steps downstage beside LAURA. LAURA turns to see her.
I'm Laura. You wrote me I could stay with you until I got settled.
Right. Laura from Texas.
New Mexico really. I went to college in Texas.
Could you push the button again?
LAURA presses an unseen downstage button and we hear another buzz. NICOLE answers.
It's Alice, Nicole. Can you buzz me in? My arms are full.
Somebody's lookin' for ya.
I know. She's here with me.
Could you get the door.
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.
"A Short Ego Trip"
Sometimes I can't believe I'm real.
Then I can't help but inquire
At times I think I'm going mad,
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
So full of myself,
"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?
It's not exactly the same...
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.
LAURANo thanks. I'm saving my money for something else.
Of course you are. Well, come back when you have something good, something honest, something really personal--but universal. You know.
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.
TERRYDid I know about that? You can't just stay here, you know.
LAURAThat's why I'm here. Do you have any vacancies?
LAURA steps into spotlight. We hear the voice of ARVIS, TERRY's lover and roommate.
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.
TERRYThis here's Arvis. And you are...
LAURALaura. Laura Sabinal. So you own Arvis Trucking.
ARVISNo, just work there, mostly loading stuff. (sniffs with pride) But that's why they call me Arvis.
TERRYLaura's a friend of Alice.
ARVISYou don't say. (looks LAURA over) Not bad.
TERRYI think Rhonda would approve.
TERRYRhonda's the owner.
ARVISOne of you people.
TERRYYou ARE one of "you people," aren't ya?
TERRYGot a job?
LAURAI'm a receptionist at the Tenderloin Counseling Center. I've been there over a month now.
ARVISI'm outta Camels. I'm goin' to the store. Excuse me.
ARVIS exits past LAURA into the darkness.
TERRYThe Dutchman likes you, and she don't like everybody right off the bat.
LAURAThe 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.
LAURAI 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.
LAURAAt first I think it's the Chief speaking, but then I recognize my father's voice.
FATHERDon'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.
LAURAThat'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.
LYNNETTEOne about your dream?
LAURANo, 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.
LYNNETTEI know what it's about.
LYNNETTEIt's so obvious: you're undecided.
LYNNETTEAbout 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?
LAURALynnette, that's just not true. I couldn't be any more sure of myself. I've even said so in my poetry.
LYNNETTESounds like whistling in the dark to me, Laura.
LAURAWhat do you mean?
LYNNETTESounds like you're trying to convince yourself. Sounds like you're afraid to face the truth. It's classic, psychologically.
LAURAI don't think so. I think you're way off-base.
LYNNETTEThat's just the way it looks to me. I've seen it happen with transsexuals before.
LAURAWell, it's not happening that way to me.
LYNNETTENow 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.
LYNNETTEFine. 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".
LAURASome 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.
LYNNETTEWe 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.
LYNNETTEA tape of my therapy sessions back in Nevada.
She removes the opera tape and inserts the therapy cassette into the player.
LAURAI don't know...
LYNNETTEIt 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.
LYNNETTE takes her wallet from her purse and finds a photograph in it. She hands it to LAURA.
LYNNETTEYou need to see this first.
LAURAWho's this?...You don't mean it's you.
LYNNETTEI 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.
ANDREAHave you thought about the cave lately?
LYNNETTECould we...come back to that later?
We hear LAURA's voice cut in.
LAURAIs that you?
ANDREAThen what do you want to discuss?
LYNNETTEI...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.
ANDREAHow do you feel about that?
LYNNETTEI...don't know. How should I feel? I miss her. She was a friend...
ANDREANo more, Lawrence? You were married to her for five years.
LAURALawrence? You too?
The lights fade to black on LAURA and LYNNETTE.
LYNNETTEThat doesn't seem real...I know it's only been eight months.
ANDREABut what about her living with a man? Do you have any feelings about that?
LYNNETTEWell, I'm happy for her...I AM really.
ANDREAI believe you.
LYNNETTEI feel relieved somehow. I don't think things could have turned out differently. Our differences became too great...
ANDREAWas it your differences or your similarities?
ANDREAI mean Lynnette.
LYNNETTELynnette? You're mocking me.
ANDREANot at all. You are not the only one who has grown in the past fourteen months we've been meeting.
LYNNETTEBut 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--
ANDREAI, 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.
LYNNETTEThen you approve of Lynnette...and the surgery.
ANDREAI neither approve nor disapprove.
LYNNETTEThen you wash your hands of the matter.
ANDREANo. 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.
LYNNETTEBut you don't disapprove of...the change.
ANDREAI don't know, generally speaking. But if I disapproved, would you change your mind?
ANDREARemember 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.
LYNNETTEYou don't believe I can do it, do you?
ANDREAFourteen 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.
LYNNETTEBetter than anyone.
ANDREAAnd, 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?
LYNNETTEI realize I'm not out of the woods--not for another two years, at least.
ANDREAThat's the university's requirement?
LYNNETTEYes. Two years of living, working, relating to people as a woman...It's a fair test.
ANDREAIt's quite a step.
ANDREAI'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.
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.
LYNNETTEI'm going back to my apartment...to listen to the tapes...alone.
LAURANo. Of course not. I need to be getting along to the group meeting...I'll see you tomorrow.
LYNNETTEMaybe not tomorrow.
LAURALynnette, are you alright?
LYNNETTEI'm fine. I just need to be alone.
LAURAAre you going to work tomorrow?
LYNNETTENo. I don't think so.
LAURAIf you need anything, just call. Okay?
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.
"Yes There Are Doubts"
Yes, there are doubts, my friend,
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.
WOMANUh 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.
She never writes,
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.
Too much for her
I did that, I know,
AUDREYThat 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.
KAYI 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. DIVISADEROWhat do you feel at this very moment, Miss Ingleside? You are smiling, but you don't seem happy.
KAYI 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. DIVISADEROWhat would happen if you let yourself cry? Would that be so terrible?
KAYI wouldn't be able to stop.
DR. DIVISADEROAnd what would be the consequences of such crying?
KAYI don't know.
AUDREYKay, are you afraid that we will disapprove if you cry?
AUDREYThat is very important to you, isn't it? How you look.
DR. DIVISADEROAre you psychoanalyzing yourself, Miss Ingleside? I am not doing so and I am the only one here so qualified.
AUDREYIs anyone judging you, Kay? Besides yourself?
KAYMy parents would if they were here.
AUDREYBut they are here, aren't they? You carry them with you.
AUDREY stands and pulls her own chair downstage.
KAYI don't know. I guess my tendency would be to leave.
DR. DIVISADEROAfter two years you would go away when you have your first chance to communicate with your parents?
KAYI said that my TENDENCY would be to leave, but I would fight it.
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. DIVISADERONow, imagine that your mother is sitting in that chair. (points to chair opposite KAY) Talk to her. (sits)
AUDREYKay, what do you think your mother would say to you?
KAYI don't know.
DR. DIVISADEROI think you might know, Miss Ingleside.
AUDREYNow 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.
KAYCome back home...son. Give up that kind of life. We'll just forget about these last few years. All will be forgiven.
AUDREYNow you're Kay again...Just stand behind the chair.
KAY stands and takes her place behind the first chair.
KAYWho 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.
AUDREYYou used to be so happy. Why can't you be that way again?
KAYBut 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!
AUDREYI never knew how you felt. Your father never knew how you felt. Are we to blame?
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.
JAYIt's alright, Kay. Have a good cry. Your folks, the bastards, are the bleedin' crazy ones.
KAYThat'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.
AUDREYDo you feel like talking about them?
AUDREYIs there anything you would like to say about what is going on in your life?
AUDREYYou don't feel like talking at all?
DR. DIVISADEROMr. Church?
DR. DIVISADEROWould you tell us was it was like living with your foster parents?
DR. DIVISADEROWould you tell us more about those times?
JAYNo, 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.
AUDREYI'm sure your foster parents loved you very much too, Jay, and still do.
JAYThey 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!
AUDREYSo, Laura, have you had any of your poems published?
LAURANot yet. As a matter of fact, I was turned down by another press recently.
DR. DIVISADEROHow do you feel about that, Miss Sabinal?
LAURAWell, 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. DIVISADEROBy all means.
AUDREYYes, of course.
LAURAI 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--
AUDREYJay, give her a chance.
The lights fade out except for a spotlight on LAURA. We hear music behind LAURA's poem.
Okay. It's entitled "Imagine, If You Will." (reads)
Imagine, if you will,
The music ends.
KAYWow. That really says everything, doesn't it? Laura, you should read your stuff in coffee houses. It's that good.
LAURAI'd be afraid to get up in front of strangers...
AUDREYLaura, how did your friend react when she read this poem?
LAURAWe became closer friends, I think.
AUDREYWere you about to say something?
AUDREYI thought you would have a comment.
JAYThe poem is good, Laura. I'm glad your friend liked it. (to AUDREY) How's that?
DR. DIVISADEROYou seem anxious, Mr. Church. What feelings do the poem bring out in you?
JAYI 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. DIVISADEROI 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--
JAYAlways 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. DIVISADEROAnd you HAVE been taking hormones, have you not? You seem to have...matured quite a bit. You really are very masculine--
JAYMasculine! 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.
KAYJay, I think Dr. Divisadero just meant to say that you are looking much older, much more your age.
JAYYeah? Laura, you're new here. How old do you think I am?
LAURAI...uh...I'm not really very good at guessing people's ages or weights or...
LAURAOh...I suppose you're seventeen or eighteen...
JAYSee! "Seventeen or eighteen." I'll soon be twenty-one fuckin' years old and I still look like a bleedin' little kid.
LAURAJay, I'm sorry. I told you I wasn't good at that sort of thing.
JAYIt ain't your fault. I bet you were even guessing high. I probably look sixteen to you.
LAURANo. I wouldn't say sixteen...
KAYJay, remember when you met Alex Comstock? Didn't he say he had the same trouble at first? Now look at him.
JAYYeah, look at him. He lost his re-election to the state assembly 'cause his bloody opponent found out he was T.S.
KAYThat's not what we're talking about here, Jay.
JAYI 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. DIVISADEROMiss...uh...Kathleen. How do you feel about what Jay just said? Hello...
AUDREYI 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.
TERRYLaura, I'll buzz us in.
TERRYThis here's my daughter Jamey.
LAURANice to meet you, Jamey.
TERRYLittle girl, I'm going to call your dad and let him know you're with me.
JAMEYLet him worry. He's such an asshole.
TERRYEverybody knows that, darlin', but he is your dad. Come on.
TERRY presses an imaginary buzzer. When it buzzes we hear the voice of ARVIS.
TERRYIt's us, sweetheart.
TERRYUs bein' me, love of your life, LAURA--you know, the good one--and some little girl I found on the street.
ARVISYou there, Jamey?
JAMEYI'm here, Arvis.
ARVISJamey, you worried your mom almost to death.
TERRYWould you push the goddamn buzzer and let us in? We'll talk inside. It's cold and wet out here.
ARVISKeep 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.
ALICE S.Listen, I'd like you to come down and meet--
LAURAI don't feel like meeting anyone tonight.
ALICE S.I want you to meet Tiffany O'Farrell.
LAURAWe'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.
LAURAI 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--
LAURAYou 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?
LAURAAlright, 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.
ALICE G.Hello, Laura.
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.
LAURAI believe we've met.
LAURAAt the counseling center.
ALICE S.And of course, you know Alice, Sandy and Nicole.
LAURAYes. Of course.
LAURA frowns impatiently at ALICE S.
TIFFANYLaura, I suppose you have been reading about the murders in the paper?
TIFFANYThe Tenderloin murders. The murders in this very neighborhood.
LAURAI'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.
LAURAI didn't realize.
SANDYBe very careful where you go at night, Laura.
ALICE S.And be careful who you bring home with you.
LAURAI'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?
LAURAI 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.
NICOLEGirl, it could be just a coincidence both victims were T.S.
ALICE S.Coincidence or not, it always pays to be cautious.
LAURAYou'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.
SANDYLaura, did I tell you that David and I have moved to Burlingame? We have a house now.
SANDYDavid 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.
LAURAThat'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?
SANDYYes. 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.
LAURAYes, 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?
SANDYYes. 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.
ALICE S.Of course Sandy is beautiful. We're all very proud of her.
NICOLEYa 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.
NICOLEYeah, 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.
NICOLEOh 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?
TIFFANYLaura, have you had your surgery yet?
LAURAMe? No. I'm saving my money, though. I'll have it by the time my trial period is over next year.
TIFFANYYou're in the university's program?
TIFFANYHow 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.
LAURAI know, but I'll have the money.
ALICE S.Laura, you could have the operation much sooner.
LAURAWith Dr. Jones? No thanks.
ALICE S.Dr. Jones is a fine surgeon.
LAURAThat'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?
LAURAWhy Tiffany? And you, Nicole. Just last week you were about to quit Dr. Jones. Now you're defending him.
TIFFANYLaura, 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.
LAURAI'm serious. I just--
TIFFANYFour 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.
LAURAI'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)
LAURAAlice, do you know what the word "no" means?
ALICE S.What will it hurt just to speak with the man?
LAURAThere'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--
LAURAAlice, 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--
TIFFANYAlice, 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--
LAURAOkay. 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...
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.
JOHNNYThanks, 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?
GUESTThat's right, John. I felt under the circumstances that the award was a dubious honor.
JOHNNYThis 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.
GUESTThat's about the size of it, John.
JOHNNYAs 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.
FATHERDon'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.
LAURAYou 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.
JOHNNYThis may be apocryphal.
GUESTCan you spell that, Johnny?
JOHNNYNo I can't. (audience laughter) I mean it may or may not be true.
GUESTHe means dreams don't always mean what they seem to mean. Pay attention.
JOHNNYAs Dr. Jung will tell us in a moment.
LAURAHow can I tell?
The CHIEF turns and backs away slowly.
JOHNNYStay 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.
NICOLEGirl, you gotta come with Nick and me to “The Make” sometime.
NICOLENot exclusively. (sips from a coffee cup) It's mostly a T.S. hangout these days. All the girls go there.
NICOLEWell, think about it. You know, girl, ya need to get out and live a little. Dance with some nice guy. Date, ya know?
LAURAI'm definitely not ready for that yet.
NICOLESuit 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?
LAURAI wouldn't feel right...not the way I am now.
NICOLEWhat'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?
LAURADid you date when you were...pre-operative?
LAURALet me think about it.
NICOLESuit 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.
LAURAI understand why Alice is pushing me, but what does Tiffany get out of it?
NICOLEYou 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.
LAURAAnd the T.V. program gets a freak show.
NICOLEMaybe it won't be that bad, girl.
LAURAOnly 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.
NICOLEMaybe you worry too much, girl. Relax a little. Saturday with Nick and me at The Make, right?
LAURAI'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.
LAURA enters and sits in the opposite chair. PAT GRANT, a waitress, hurriedly enters, crossing behind them.
LAURA and LYNNETTE read their menus and put them down. PAT returns to take their orders.
LYNNETTEPat, what are you talking about?
PATYou told me last night on the phone that you were going to sulk all weekend.
LYNNETTEI feel better today, that's all.
PATI 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.
LYNNETTEI'll have a patty melt and black coffee.
LAURAA bacon cheeseburger and iced tea.
PATYou want fries or hash browns with that?
PATI'll get back to you. (exits)
LYNNETTEShe's going to ask me again to visit her and her family tonight. She's invited you too, by the way.
LAURAI wish I could go, but I did promise Nicole I'd go with her to The Make.
LYNNETTEThe Make? Laura, that's a gay bar.
LYNNETTEEveryone knows it's a gay bar, and a notorious one at that.
LAURAHave you ever been there?
LYNNETTEOf course not.
LAURAThe rumors you've heard are pure exaggeration, Lynnette.
LYNNETTELike the rumors about your Dr. Jones, I suppose.
LAURAHe'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.
LAURADon't worry. Dr. Jones won't say anything that will change my mind.
LYNNETTEI should hope not. You've been acting strangely the last few weeks.
LAURAWhat do you mean?
LYNNETTEYou've changed so much. Whatever happened to that awkward kid from Santa Fe?
LAURAYou said I should be more assertive, so I'm assertive. That's all.
LYNNETTEI've decided I liked you better the other way. Now here you are, going to gay bars.
LAURAI'm not going to gay bars?
PAT, crossing before them carrying a tray of food to another table, stops briefly.
PATWhich gay bars?
LYNNETTE"The Make" for one.
LAURAFor one? It's the only one...And it's not just a gay bar.
LAURALynnette, I'm only going once. End of subject.
LYNNETTESure. You'll try anything once.
PAT returns with their orders.
PATNothing. It's just that you promise you're coming over for dinner and then you change your mind at the last minute.
LYNNETTEI told you more than twenty-four hours in advance.
PATYou wouldn't have if I hadn't called you.
LYNNETTEI was going to call.
PATI 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?
LYNNETTEI just like to relax on weekends.
PATIt's those damn tapes again, right? Why don't you burn those things?...And that picture you haunt yourself and your friends with too?
LYNNETTEThey're important for my autobiography.
LYNNETTEI could use a pen name.
PATThis 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.
LYNNETTEYou don't understand, Pat. I owe a debt to other T.S.'s who--
PATT.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?
PATWell, 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.
PATLaura, I'd like you to come, too.
LAURAI'd love to, but I'm going to the--
PAT"The Make?" Of course. I forgot it's your hangout.
LAURAIt's not my--
PATBe there...Some other time, Laura?
LAURAYes. Of course.
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.
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.
"Ellis Street Suite"
A little girl,
How much less bogus
Shy little girl,
Yet here you go
This is the crucible
Here expressions are jaded,
Here you MUST pass.
You cannot escape the scrutiny
Of the derelict-hustler-merchant-
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.
You're so together today,
The street echoes a Dylan refrain.
Shy little girl,
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.
MERVYou 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)
MERVJeremy, 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?
MERVIt'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.
PUBLISHERWell, this long poem is an improvement, anyway. But why Ellis Street?
LAURAWhy Ellis Street? Because that's where it all happened...to the character in the poem.
PUBLISHERIt should be Polk Street. Everybody knows that. Polk Street is famous for that sort of thing.
LAURAWhat sort of thing?
PUBLISHERMaybe 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.
LAURAMaybe I'll have more material after tonight. I'm going to a discotheque...just to observe.
PUBLISHERYou mean a "disco". "Discotheque" is passe. Which one?
PUBLISHERWhich one did you say?
PUBLISHEROh, 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.
An innocent among Amazons
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.
It's 1977 and still
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.
LAURA does not speak, but shows him the cover of the book and continues reading.
BUSINESSMANOh. "Looking For Mr. Goodbar"...Waiting for someone?
BUSINESSMANCan I buy you a drink?
BUSINESSMANWell are you?
BUSINESSMANNo. You're not really. Are you?
BUSINESSMANLet'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.
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.
NICOLEYou 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.
NICOLELaura, this is Jeffrey. Jeffrey, Laura.
JEFFREYW-would you like to dance, Laura?
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.
JEFFREYYou're a good dancer.
LAURAI don't get much practice.
JEFFREYIs it okay if I order a drink for you?
LAURAI don't drink, Jeffrey.
JEFFREYReally? N-neither do I. How about a Coke?
JEFFREYI'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.
NICOLEGirl, ya looked good dancin' out there. Didn't I tell ya Jeffrey was alright? Ya kinda hit it off with him, didn't ya?
SANDY EDDY and her boyfriend DAVID dance by. SANDY is drunk, hanging on DAVID's neck for support.
SANDYHey, Nicole and...
SANDYI 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.
DAVIDHello, Laura. Come on, Sandy. I think it's time we got home.
SANDYJust one more boogie. Please Babe. Just one more.
DAVIDAlright. Just one more.
SANDYOl' Dave and I are gonna boogie one more boogie and go. See you folks later.
SANDY and DAVID disappear into the crowd dancing as JEFFREY returns with the cokes.
JEFFREYHere, Laura. (hands her one)
NICOLEI 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.
LAURAAre you originally from San Franciso, Jeffrey?
There is another awkward pause. You're the first real native I've met...Do you live in the City?
JEFFREYI work in my father's hardware store.
LAURAThat's interesting...Do you have any hobbies?
JEFFREYYes. I do magic...I'm really very good. I hardly drop anything anymore...Laura?
JEFFREYI n-never asked anyone to do this b-before, but I feel like I could do it with you, L-Laura.
LAURAJeffrey, we just met. Don't you think--
JEFFREYI-I want you to be my beautiful assistant, in my m-magic act.
LAURAOh. Oh!...That's very flattering, Jeffrey, but I'm not a performer. As a matter of fact--
JEFFREYI'll teach you...Unless you d-don't want to see me anymore.
LAURAThat's not true, Jeffrey. It's just that we just met--
JEFFREYI'm too aggressive, r-right?
LAURALets just take things a step at a time.
JEFFREYDoes that mean you'll go out with me sometime?
LAURAI'd like that.
LAURAI'm not really a bar person.
JEFFREYDo you know Her Majesty's Restaurant?
LAURAYes. I eat there all the time.
JEFFREYOh. We could go someplace nicer. I don't mind spending more on you. You're w-worth it.
LAURAThank you. Her Majesty's will be fine.
JEFFREYI can afford a more expensive restaurant. Really I can. It's not every day I meet a queen as sweet as you--
JEFFREY"Queen?" Oh. What would y-you prefer to be called?
JEFFREYI'm s-sorry. I didn't mean to...
LAURANo. 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.
NICOLEHi, Laura. Girl, I'd like ya to meet--
LAURAWe've been here more than two hours already. I'm going home.
NICOLEWhat is it, girl? I thought you and Jeffrey was gettin' along alright.
LAURAI 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--
NICOLELaura, 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'.
LAURAAlright. A few minutes.
NICOLEI 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--
NICOLELaura, that's just the way I talk about her. It's like a custom here--just a friendly thing, ya know?
LAURAAnd I'm "her" and "she" the same way...he is: just another queen around here?
NICOLENo girl. It ain't the same. It's like two different languages, Laura. You're--
LAURAGood 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.
TYRONEHey, 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.
Don't gimme none of your lip, Francine.
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.
LAURAThat's great! I couldn't tell you from Jeremy Church himself!
LAURAWhen 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.
JAYI 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?
LAURANo thanks. I'm not much of a drinker. (sips) This will do me.
LAURAI'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.
JAYDown under what?
LAURAAustralia, "the land down under". Don't they call it that?
JAYRight. Maybe it's the way you said it (sips)...The English drink it warm too, do they?
LAURAThat'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'?
LAURADon't they still say that in Australia? I heard it in an old movie once.
JAYYeah. 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.
LAURAI've been through I.D. hassles too.
JAYYeah...Laura, you really know about Australia, don't you?
LAURAI read a lot. I guess I've picked up a few things over the years.
JAYCould you teach me about Australia?
LAURAI really don't know that much...
JAYBut you know a lot of things I don't. I can't talk to anybody else about it.
LAURAWell, 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.
JAYYou'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.
LAURAI can keep a secret, but you don't really have to tell--
JAYBut I want to, Laura. Laura, do you remember what you said about me singin' like Jeremy Church?
LAURAYes...Oh, you changed your name to "Church" because Jeremy Church is your idol? I wondered about that.
LAURAReally? Are you sure?
JAYI'd know something like that, wouldn't I?
LAURASure. I guess...
JAYWe're both from Australia, right?
JAYI 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.
LAURAJeremy Church did tell Merv on television that he ran away from home when he was thirteen.
JAYYou saw him on the T.V.?
LAURAYes. He was plugging his new album, "Christ Church, New Zealand".
JAYSee, "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.
LAURAAnd not many people live in New Zealand, so how many families named "Church" can there be?
JAYActually, his real name is "O'Toole", but I guess there can't be very many "O'Tooles" either.
LAURAI suppose not.
JAYLaura, I don't have a television. Could I come over and watch next time Jeremy Church is on?
LAURAAlright. Every time I go to the store I'll pick up a T.V. magazine and check for Jeremy Church in the listings.
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.
LAURAI fly to the dawning sun--
ASSORTED VOICESSpeak up! Into the mike! Microphone!
MALE VOICEUse 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.
LAURAI fly to the dawning sun...(reads to herself, searches through her pages) I..uh...
FEMALE VOICEWe know: you "fly to the dawning sun."
There is some laughter. LAURA finds another page.
LAURALet me do another one. I seem to have misplaced the final version of that one...This is another ecological selection.
LAURA reads the poem with growing confidence as the MUSE enters, to music, and performs an interpretive dance.
It was the last patch of green on earth.
Sad, I thought, that this uninspired spot
This refuge from a developer's plow
Tomorrow would be the last of it.
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.
LAURAJ-jay? Is that you?...Oh...uh...Jeffrey, right? Look...
LOONEYDo you live around here?
LAURAWho are you?
LOONEYI live here, you know.
LOONEYGrand old name, they say.
LAURAThat's what they say. (jogs away)
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.
TOMWith us here in New York is transsexual Tiffany O'Farrell.
LAURAI didn't know Tiffany's first name was "Transsexual".
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.
TOMAs 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?
TIFFANYWell 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".
LAURASounds like a punk rock group, doesn't it?
TOMWhen 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?"
TIFFANYNot so hard.
LAURAI think "Ol' Tom" has met his match in Tiffany.
ALICE S.Laura, will you please shut up?
TOMI mean, is there anything you can do now that you could not do before?
TIFFANYOh Tom, let me count the ways.
TOMHa ha ha ha ha ha! Tif, don't do this to me.
TOMWe 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.
NICOLENo more for me, girl. I'm still on a diet.
ALICE S.I'll take some. Could I have another soda, Laura?
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.
NICOLELaura, doesn't Tiffany look fabulous on the television? Girl, I'll bet she sells a hundred thousand copies of the book.
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.
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.
TOMJoining us now is Dr. Robert A. Jones, San Francisco physician and surgeon...
ALICE S.Don't say it, Laura.
TOM...who has performed scores--perhaps a hundred maybe?
DR. JONESYes. At least a hundred.
LAURAIs there a duck in here?
TOMOver a hundred transsexual surgeries, including that of Tiffany O'Farrell. Doctor, are there many like Tiffany in the United States?
LAURAI didn't say a thing.
DR. JONESTom, I don't have the exact statistics but I would estimate there have been a couple of thousand sex-reassignment procedures to date nationwide.
TOMTiffany, how did you come to find Dr. Jones for the purpose of obtaining this procedure?
LAURAShe just looked under a rock and--
LAURASorry. I couldn't resist it.
TOMThe 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?
TIFFANYI think I can answer that, Tom.
NICOLEGood luck, girl.
TIFFANYDr. 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...
LAURAGive me a break.
TOMWhat 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...
TIFFANYThat'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.
LAURAOh 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.
LAURAAlice, it's almost three o'clock in the morning.
ALICE S.You know Sandy Eddy.
ALICE S.Laura, she's dead...She was killed coming out of "The Make" around eleven last night. She was murdered.
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--
LAURAPlease, Alice. I don't want to hear the details.
ALICE S.I just thought you should know...
ALICE S.Well, take care and don't go out at night by yourself.
ALICE S.Good night then.
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.
We hear the voice on the other end of the phone line.
MOTHERWell, you haven't completely forgotten. That's something.
LAURAHow are you? How's Dad? I haven't heard--
MOTHERI promised your father I would drive by to see you when I visit your Aunt Minny in Seattle.
MOTHERVery 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.
LAURAThere is a restaurant near here...
LAURAUnless you want to come up to the apartment...
MOTHERNo, a restaurant will be fine.
LAURAIt will be wonderful to see you again.
MOTHERIt 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...
LAURANot so much anymore.
MOTHERSo what is the name of this place?
MOTHERYes, the restaurant.
LAURAIt's called "Her Majesty's" and it's on Ellis Street near Larkin.
MOTHERI'll find it. I'll write you when I know the exact date I'm coming.
LAURADo you have my address?
MOTHERI'll get it from your father. Good-bye now.
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.
LYNNETTESit down, Laura. I was just leaving.
LYNNETTENo excuses necessary. But maybe subconsciously you wanted to oversleep. Have you thought about that?
LAURALook, someone I know was murdered last night, okay?
LYNNETTENow 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.
PATShe hates it when people are late. What do you want?
LAURAHi Pat...A patty melt, house salad and iced tea.
PATFine. And don't think that you and I are as close friends as Lynnette and I are either.
LAURAWhat? (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.
PATA dollar short.
LAURAI didn't take it.
PATDidn't say you did. You good for it?
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.
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?
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.
LAURAWell, 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.
LAURAThere 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.
LAURAThat rumor has been making the rounds for years.
TIFFANYI 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.
LAURAI'm sure Dr. Parnassus--
TIFFANYParnassus is out of his league.
LAURAWell, they can't just close it down. They have to honor their commitments.
TIFFANYDon'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.
LAURAThere'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.
TIFFANYIf 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?
LAURAI'll think about it.
TIFFANYDon'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.
LAURAI 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.
TIFFANYRemember Laura, before six o'clock today. 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.
DAVIDWe 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.
It's very short, but to the point. (reads)
Forget me not.
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.
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.
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.
NICOLE steps slouchingly into the light, facing LAURA, her right hand covering her right eye.
NICOLEThe police? Girl, you wanna call the police on Nick?...No. Don't do that...I'll be okay.
LAURADo you need a doctor?
NICOLE shakes her head. The spotlights widen and TERRY and ARVIS enter upstage and between LAURA and NICOLE.
ARVISWhat the fuck is goin' on here?
TERRYI think I can handle this, sweetheart...Now, Nicole, what the fuck's goin' on?
LAURANicole and Nick had a fight.
NICOLEPlease don't, Terry.
TERRYBreak any furniture?
NICOLEA lamp...a chair...That's all I guess.
TERRYIf he comes back, tell the son-of-a-bitch he's banned unless he replaces what he broke.
NICOLEIf he comes back...I will...Thanks, girl.
TERRYBest 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.
NICOLEGirl, I got a mess to clean up.
LAURANeed some help?
NICOLEThanks, 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.
LAURANicole, will you be alright?
NICOLEYeah girl. I'll doctor the bruise and lay low until it heals a little. You goin' to work now?
LAURAI'm taking the day off. My mother is in town.
NICOLEThat's real nice, girl.
LAURAYou'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.
LAURAIt's good to see you.
MOTHERWould you sit down? You're making a spectacle.
MOTHERHow could I look at you looking like that and have a good trip?
MOTHERYour father gave me a message to relate to you. Now, this is him saying this, not me, understand?
LAURASure. What did he say?
MOTHERHe 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.
LAURAThanks...Have you...uh...heard from Becky lately?
MOTHERYour 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.
MOTHERShe 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.
PATLadies, can I get you something for breakfast?
PATSo 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?
LAURASunnyside up, only cooked a little more and--
MOTHERHe 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--
PATWhat's all this "he" business? I see what's going on here. You just can't play the game, can you Mom?
MOTHEROh God. It's another one of THEM.
PATNo. 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.
NICOLELaura, thank God you're here, girl!
NICOLELaura, 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.
LAURAI thought she'd still be in the hospital. Didn't she have the surgery yesterday?
NICOLEShe 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.
LAURAOkay, 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.
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.
NICOLENow that Laura's here, I'm off, girl. 'Bye girls.
ALICE G.Night, Nicole.
JAYGood to meet you.
LAURAGood 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"!
LAURAAre you taking all these pills?
ALICE S.One pill at a time...Sometimes two...or three...
LAURAI'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.
LAURAJay, 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...
LAURAAlice, you know Kay Ingleside?
ALICE G.I think she's dozing off again.
LAURAMaybe I'd better leave now.
JAYI 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.
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!
LAURABe careful, Jay. Dr. Jones is...Well, you see how he's got Alice all doped up and out of the hospital too soon.
JAYThat's Alice, not me. I can handle Doc Jones, long as he gives me what I need.
LAURAJust be careful.
JAYCrikey! I'm twenty-one now, Laura. I'm legal everywhere.
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.
FATHERDo what you need to do, Laura, but make sure you know what you're doing. Be careful.
MOTHERLawrence, 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.
LAURAYou can speak.
LAURAGreat-great-grandfather, you called me Laura.
CHIEFFor 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.
LYNNETTEI can't believe you gave that quack's rent-a-shrink a hundred bucks. What possessed you to do that?
LAURADr. 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.
LYNNETTELaura, those two work hand-in-glove. Lombard is as crooked as they come.
LAURAHe said that I was a prime candidate for surgery.
LYNNETTEOf course he did. Your check cleared.
LAURAActually, 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.
LYNNETTEI 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.
LAURALook, 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.
LYNNETTEIs she healing at all? How long has it been?
LAURAIts 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.
LYNNETTEProbably a yeast infection.
LAURAThat's good. I might use that next time.
Someone passes in front of them. LAURA sees her.
LAURAI 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.
LAURAYour mother's been looking all over for you.
JAMEYPlease don't tell her you saw me.
LAURAWhat about your father?
JAMEYI don't want to see my mother. You think I want my uptight Dad to know what I've been doing?
LAURALook. It's none of my business, but I think they want to know you're not dead.
JAMEYI wish I was dead. Maybe I'll get lucky and die in childbirth.
LAURAYou're pregnant too. Oh boy.
JAMEYYeah...Well, it was nice running into you. I've gotta go.
JAMEYWho knows? Who cares?
LAURAI do. I'm sure your mom would too.
JAMEYI 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.
LAURAI'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.
LAURAPat, you could use some help around here, couldn't you?
PATAlways. You talking about your little friend here. She might not pass the health code.
LAURAShe'll clean up okay. That's where Lynnette comes in.
LAURAIf you could take her in for a couple days. Let her clean up. We'll get her some decent clothes.
LYNNETTEA couple of days? Then what?
LAURAThen she'll be presentable enough to see her mother, and maybe eventually her father.
JAMEYNow wait a minute.
LAURAIt's up to you, but you know your mother will take you in.
JAMEYEven with a baby coming?
LYNNETTEThe plot thickens.
JAMEYYeah. I just tell her I got pregnant by some boy and was afraid to go home--easiest thing in the world.
LAURANo offense intended, but she's not exactly Mrs. America herself.
JAMEYI guess not.
PATYou got some better clothes?
LYNNETTEI have some that might fit her.
PATThat would be just fine if she was going to work at the Pebble Beach pro shop.
PATI have a daughter about your size. I'll get you something.
JAMEYI don't know what to say.
PATSay "Thank you" and don't let us down.
JAMEYIt's a deal. Thank you.
LYNNETTEWell, that was easy.
LAURAIf 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--"
PUBLISHERStop 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.
LAURAThat's fine. It's a start. Thank you.
PUBLISHERDo you have it with you? I'll copy it and give it back to you later.
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, alien city,
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.
Some days it all feels right.
(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.
LAURAAlice, 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.
ALICE S.On your way out?
LAURAI'm meeting my friend Lynnette for lunch.
ALICE S.Should you be eating this close to your surgery? Tomorrow is your Monday, right?
LAURAAlice, 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.
LAURAYes 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)
LAURAIt'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.
LAURAWhat 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.
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.
LYNNETTESlow down, Laura. You're here already. Come in out of the rain.
LYNNETTEWhat 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.
BUSINESSMANWhat do you say we get in out of the rain until all this blows over?
LAURA (turning, startled)What?
BUSINESSMANI 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.
JAYDrop it, mate. Drop it now. Now! (BUSINESSMAN drops the box cutter.) Now let the lady go.
JAYLaura, run get the cops!
LAURAI can't leave you here, Jay.
JAY crosses, kicks the box cutter away and pounds the guitar between the BUSINESSMAN's shoulder blades, making him collapse.
JAYJust 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.
JAYRun, 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.
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.
MOTHEROh God. It's you.
The woman removes the large hat and we see she is LAURA.
LAURAI'm glad to see you too, Mom.
MOTHERI thought you promised never to come home.
LAURAThis is Taos, not Santa Fe. I could ask what you're doing here.
MOTHERI 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.
LAURAI told you all along I would. What I didn't know was there was a reputable clinic around here.
MOTHERHow 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?
LAURAIt 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.
MOTHERI 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.
MOTHERI suppose your father and I could move to Montana or Alaska or some such place, maybe back to Guadalajara...
LAURAMom, 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.
MOTHERNo thank you. I know your subject matter.
LAURAThese are my nature poems. I'm told they're not bad.
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.