Woman in Black
There are four scenes altogether. First, is the Wade kitchen. This is the kitchen of the basic newly retired middle-class family of the late twentieth century. In the kitchen there all all the basic appliances and a centralized table with three chairs. The kitchen seems like it is put to constant use. Second is Roman’s room. He is a teenager up to his elbows in the latest technology of the time, including an acoustic guitar, television, and flat-screen computer. There are no remnants of his childhood. Only a photograph of him and his brother. The third scene is the office space where Lex works. It is the office of a man who has become extremely successful in the advertising business. The fourth is a gray, lifeless, foggy street corner.
Nothingness. Roman walks onto stage, suddenly notices the audience and addresses them with subtle ferociousness.
Roman. Don’t get used to this. This whole thing where I break the fourth wall and talk to you people. Because it won’t happen again. I’m not here to talk to you. I’m here to tell a story. For me. I mean, you can all enjoy it. I won’t stop you from enjoying it. Or hating it. Whatever. But at the end of the day the reason for this tale you are about to witness is so that I can fully understand the why’s and when’s of everything that went down. Anyway, this is a story about me…I guess. Well, I guess it depends on how you look at it. This could be a story about me. It could be about my brother, Alexander, named after the great…Alexander. Or maybe it’s about some obscure moral lesson I can’t even begin to comprehend right now. Hell. Maybe this single story could be about everything. But, seriously, who gives a starving shit what I’m about? The only reason I’m talking to you right now is to say that, after this, I’m never going to speak to any of you again. (Exit)
Scene 2-The kitchen
Lights come up over the kitchen scene. Anna is just finishing a plate of pancakes. Bill sits at the table, eating his pancakes while reading the paper.
Anna: (to offstage) Wash your hands! Breakfast’s ready! (Pause) Roman!
Roman: I’m coming!
Roman enters, starting for the table. Anna stops him, quickly handing him the plate of pancakes and starting for the refrigerator to get a carton of orange juice. Roman takes his seat.
Anna. Here’s your pancakes, Roman. You gotta cuttem’ up yourself.
Anna: I got enough batter for a couple more if you want some.
Roman: No thanks.
Anna: You sure?
Anna: You’re looking a little thin around the neck there.
Roman: I’m fine.
Anna: Okay. Let me fix you some orange juice.
Roman begins to eat. Bill slowly lowers his paper, becoming increasingly focused on Roman’s hands
Bill: Lemme see your hands, boy.
Anna: (placing Roman’s orange juice in front of him) Bill!
Bill: Lemme see your hands. Gimme your hand. (Takes Roman’s hand and feels it) Hm. Your hands are soft, boy. Like they ain’t never seen a day of work in their lives. Hmph. (Pause. Bill releases Roman’s hand and lays his own down in front of him) Feel my hand.
Roman: Feel your…
Bill: Feel my hand, Rome. (Roman lets out a sigh and unwillingly touches Bill’s hand) You feel that? That’s a real working man’s hand. Forty-eight years at the steel mill turns you into a man real quick. Hardens you. All kinds of men. Big, small, black, white, Asian. Don’t matter. All working together. Like some kind of paradise except instead of trees and vines there’s steel girders and giant cranes reaching way up to the sky.
Roman: (stands up) Okay. I’m done.
Anna: But, Roman, you barely touched your…
Roman: I’m done.
Roman begins to storm off, but is stopped by the arrival of Lex. Everyone’s mood seems to brighten when Lex enters the room, as if he’s the sun and everything else orbits around him.
Lex: Hey, all.
Bill: Hey there, Lex. How are ya?
Lex: Fine. Better than fine, actually. Frank, from upstairs, you know, said that there are whispers of a new position opening.
Bill: Upstairs? But you’re already on the executive board. Can’t get much higher than that.
Lex: Vice President, Grampa. And Frank says he’s heard my name come up more than once in more than one meeting.
Anna: Well, that’s just wonderful. Your grandfather and I are very proud. And so is Roman. Aren’t you proud of your brother, Rome.
Roman: Yes. Yea. Of course.
Anna: (escorting Lex to a chair) Make yourself at home, Lex. Let me fix you some of your grandma’s famous pancakes.
Lex: Sorry, Gram, but I’m just passing through.
Anna: (sits Lex down, then starts on the pancakes) Nonsense. Tell us about Shirley. How is your fiancée doing?
Bill: Haven’t seen her in a while.
Lex: Oh. Shirley. She’s been busy. She’s been promoted to partner at the firm, you know. I hardly even see her anymore.
Anna: She’s such a sweet girl. You two are so good for each other. So driven.
Bill: (to Roman) Maybe you could help your brother find a girl like that.
Bill: Or any girl at all for that matter.
Roman: I…I’ve been trying to…
Lex: When I think about Shirley and myself I honestly can’t think of whose luckier, she or I. And that’s the way it should be, I figure. Completely balanced like that. We treated ourselves to a movie last night.
Anna: A movie. How lovely. What movie was it?
Lex: Something Tarantino, I think. Funny thing is, I was hardly able to concentrate on the film. Not three feet in front of me this man sat. Normal guy. Nothing special. But there was something about his hair. It was short. A little greasy. I just couldn’t take my eyes off of it. For reasons I’m not exactly certain of I could not for the life of me look away. It made no sense. And when I was finally able to tear my eyes of this guy’s greasy dome I’m looking at some extravagant ninja fight scene, totally lost, so I decide my time would be best spent figuring out why I’d spent the past forty-seven minutes fixated on a stranger’s hair. This is the sort of thing I’m paid to figure out you see. In the ad business. (Lex waits for a response but receives shared looks of warm confusion by Bill and Anna. Roman is genuinely intrigued by his brother’s words. Lex moves to Roman, placing his arm around him) And don’t you worry, Rome. One day, when you least expect it, you’ll find true love like me. And you’ll spend every day wondering how you ever survived without it.
Roman: I…I’ve been thinking that. About love, I mean. I want it. I mean, maybe you could help-
Lex: (starts to leave) That’s the spirit. Grampa. Grams. I have to go. Duty calls, you know. If you don’t answer duty when it calls it’ll just call out to someone less worthy. And we can’t have that. Don’t forget that.
Roman: I (Lex exits) wont.
Bill: Your brother’s a great man, Rome. A successful man.
Roman: I know.
Bill: Wouldn’t hurt to be more like him.
Roman: I’m trying (Exits)
Anna: Leave him alone, Bill. You haveta let those boys live their own lives. Rome’s never gonna be like Lex and Lex ain’t never gonna be like Rome.
Bill: That ain’t no loss.
Anna: William Wade, bite your tongue!
Bill: (following a long period of silence) I think the boy’s a fag.
Bill: It would explain a lot.
Scene 3-Roman’s room
Roman lying in his bed, awake. Through his window, Marci enters.
Marci: Hey, Rome. (Reaches into her pocket and pulls out a CD). Check this out. It’s Deathgrip 4. I just bought it after school. Fifty-seven gut-slashing levels in a completely interactive online 3-D environment. Wanna play?
Roman: Not really.
Marci: Why not? What’s wrong with you.
Marci: Fuck that. There’s always something wrong with you. You’re the single most depressing person in the world.
Marci: I calls ’em as I sees ’em. Besides, we’ve been friends-
Roman: Best friends.
Marci: For eleven-
Marci: Eleven years now. We’re like family. It’s practically my job to tell you all the things about yourself you don’t want to hear. So, ass face, what’s wrong?
Roman: I want to have sex.
Marci: You what?
Roman: Sex. I need to have sex.
Marci: You want to fuck someone?
Roman: No! No, not fuck. Sex. Fucking is dirty and loveless. Fucking is the lowest rung of romantic sexuality. No fucking. I want love. I want to make love.
Marci: Fine. Okay. Love. And what brought this on? You’ve never been to eager to teach your dolphin to jump through hoops before.
Roman: We were eating this morning and Lex came over and-
Marci: Oh. I get it.
Roman: What’s that supposed to mean?
Marci: It means that your head is stuck so far up your brother’s ass that all you can do is breathe in his toxic bullshit.
Roman: My brother is a great man! He practically raised me after our mother died.
Marci: And now he hardly acknowledges your existence.
Roman: He’s busy.
Marci: He’s an ass.
Roman: Fuck you.
Marci: (Starts for the window) I really don’t fucking need this right now. I’m leaving. It smells like shit in here.
Roman: (Jumps up to stop her) No! Marci, wait! I’m sorry. Please. (Holds Marci close) I need your help. You’re my best friend. My only friend. Lex is my hero. He’s everything I want to be.
Marci: He doesn’t give two shits about you.
Roman: Why should he? If I had his life I wouldn’t care about me either. I’m nothing! I’ve failed him. But if I could just prove to him…
Marci: And sex fixes this how…
Roman: Shirley. His fiancée. You should see how he lights up when he talks about her. It’s like she’s this interminable energy source for him. Always driving him to be more and do more than he ever could alone.
Marci: And sex fixes this how…
Roman: Marci. (Pause) I want to kiss you.
Roman: I know we don’t love each other, but I’m so far behind. I need…I need to be ready when love does come. I can’t afford to waste anymore time.
Roman leans in to kiss Marci and Marci pushes him away
Marci: What the hell is wrong with you? You’re crazy! You’re a fucking crazy person.
Roman: Marci. Please…
Marci: No. (Starts out of the window) Give me a call when your sense comes back. (Exits)
Scene 4-The office
Lex sits, unpacking his things onto his desk. Frank enters the room and Lex stands immediately, walking to the other.
Frank: Hello, Mister Vice President. Nice place you got here.
Lex: Frank. How are you?
Frank: Not as good as you, I can tell you that much. Have you told Shirley yet?
Lex: Not yet. She’s in court. I left her a message though. I figure we’ll do dinner tonight. Go all out. A double celebration for her making partner and my making VP.
Frank: Vice President. Man, oh, man. If I didn’t love you so much I’d hate you. Any other company and I’d be in that chair. But I had to go and apply to the one you worked for all those years ago.
Lex: Haha. Well, you could always leave.
Frank: And pass up the chance of mooching off of your success. I think not. Besides, one day your streak of perfection will come to halt and I want to be right there to jump up to bat.
Lex: Always the true friend.
Frank: Business first. Pleasure later. Unless you can combine the two.
Lex: Hey. Do you and Diane want to join Shirl and I for dinner tonight? Our treat. It’ll give the two of you the unique opportunity of being in the presence of two corporate gods. Wear glasses. You might go blind.
Frank: Pick us up at eight.
Scene 5-The street corner
Lights rise softly over the dark scene. A light fog rolls over the concrete and asphalt. Woman in Black walks along the sidewalk in a slow and sultry manner. She is 1930’s beautiful. Her skin is pale and lips bright red. She wears a long elegant black dress. She stops at the street corner, downstage. Lex enters, holding a briefcase. He stops the moment he notices the woman. He examines her, entranced for quite some time, and then has to practically tear himself away from her.
Scene 6-Roman’s room
Roman sits at his desk, talking on his cell phone.
Roman: Hey, Marci, it’s Roman. I…I need to talk to you. Come over tonight after dinner. I got something to show you. We can talk. Thanks. Bye.
Roman reaches for his backpack and pulls out a small white plastic bag.
Anna: (offstage) Roman! Your brother’s here!
Roman rises immediately, drops his things, and runs out of his room.
Scene 7-The kitchen
Anna sits down facing Shirley who sits as well. Lex stands behind Shirley, hand on her shoulder. There is a cake on the table. Anna has a slice on a plate in front of her. Shirley has a glass of water.
Lex: Where’s Grampa?
Anna: Oh, he’s out. Probably went down to the tracks, wastin’ his money away.
Lex: That’s unfortunate. I was hoping everyone was here when I made my announcement.
Roman: (Enters) Announcement?
Shirley: Oh, hi Roman.
Anna: Yes. Your brother has some good news for us today.
Lex: That’s right, Grams. You are now looking at the Vice President of Sunburst Advertising Incorporated.
Anna: Vice President. My. My. My. I am so proud of you. I’m not surprised though. I always knew you could do it. Yep. My grandson. Vice President. Did you hear that, Rome?
Roman: Yea. I heard.
Shirley: So, Rome how’s school going? How’re your classes?
Roman: They’re not bad. I-
Lex: Roman. Grams. Before I forget, I have to tell you about this thing I saw last night. I was leaving the office, just like I always do, and I saw this woman. This woman in black. She just stood there on the corner. Looked like she’d been snatched right out of the 1930’s. She just stood there and I watched her for a while. It was hypnotic in a way. Beautiful like a dream. Maybe it was a dream. It seemed almost too unreal to be anything else.
Lex: Oh. Sorry, honey. We have one more announcement. My fiancee, Shirley Anderson, and myself are going to be parents.
Anna: (to Shirley, ecstatic) You’re pregnant.
Shirley: No. We’re adopting. We thought it’d be best to share our ample resources with someone less fortunate. We’ve been thinking China.
Lex: (to Roman) You’re going to be an uncle soon. What do you think of that?
Roman: I…um…That’s great.
Lex: I can’t wait to tell Grampa.
Anna: He’ll be so proud.
Lex: (As he helps Anna out of her seat) Alright, guys. We’ve gotta go. The adoption agency in Hong Kong is calling us tonight for the initial interview and I’ve got a few clients to research before then.
Shirley: We’ll stay longer next time, I promise. It’s just that life is so hectic right now.
Lex: The price of success.
Anna: Oh, we understand, dears. Don’t we, Rome?
Roman: Lex. Do you think, sometime soon, you and I could…hang out for a little while?
Lex: Sure. Of course. I’m totally booked this week, but sure. Give me a call, okay? Let’s go, honey.
Shirley and Lex exit.
Scene 8-Roman’s room
Roman sits on the edge of his bed, facing away from the window, practicing singing and playing his guitar. Marci comes in through the window, unnoticed by Roman until she speaks.
Devil’s fingers digging trenches
Digging graves and burning souls
Devil’s fingers cradling angels
Tainted blood of tainted ghosts
Marci: I’m here.
Roman: Good. Thanks. I just, um, wanted to apologize for yesterday. I didn’t mean to…
Marci: Nice song. Happy.
Roman: (Goes to computer) So, I bought Deathgrip 4. Now we can go online and kick ass together.
Roman: I really am sorry, Marci.
Marci: I know.
Roman: I’m sorry.
Roman: I just created my character. It’s a Centaurian Warrior. I figured you’d be a Zombie Warlock or something like that so I…I thought the Centaur would be a good match.
Marci: (Moves to the computer) I’m a Troll Warlock. Close enough.
Roman works on his computer. Marci stands beside him. They both examine the screen closely for some time in silence. As time passes Roman’s gaze slowly leaves the computer and moves up to Marci’s face. He leans toward her, moving faster the closer he gets, and steals a kiss.
Marci: What the fuck was that?!
Roman: I don’t know! I-
Marci: You know what? Forget it! I’m gone!
Marci starts for the window but Roman grabs her tightly, pressing her against a wall and speaking close to her face
Roman: Please, don’t go! Please.
Marci: Get off of me!
Roman: Stay with me. I need you here. Last night I thought about it. I stayed up all night just thinking about us. The people at school have always said you were beautiful. I never thought about it much because, well, because we were friends. But last night, every time I closed my eyes you would appear in my mind and I began to see what everyone else has always seen. You are beautiful. And then I thought, I thought I could maybe love you someday. And we could love each other…if we tried at it.
Anna: (From outside of the door) Is everything okay in there? I thought I heard shouting.
Roman: I’m fine!
Marci: Let me go…now. (Roman releases Marci and backs away from her) What is happening to you?
Roman: I don’t know. (Pause) My brother came by today. He made Vice President. He’s adopting a child. He saw the strangest thing on a street corner. This woman in black. You should’ve seen the look on his face when he talked about her. It was something I’d never seen before. So entranced and-
Marci: I don’t care.
Marci: I don’t care about your fucking brother! I care about your fucked up brain! You need help.
Roman: I’m fine.
Marci: You kissed me and you forced me into a wall. I have bruises on my arm! You are not fine!
Roman: I’m sorry.
Marci: No. You’re not.
Roman: I really want to love you.
Roman: And I want you to love me. Just imagine the great things we could accomplish together. We could be rich and successful and have children.
Roman: To help the less fortunate.
Marci punches Roman and exits in a huff. Roman begins to cry. As he does this he reaches into his backpack and pulls out a syringe in a sandwich bag. He prepares his arm and shoots up heroine as the lights fade to black.
Scene 9-The office
Lex’s desk is covered with logo designs. All are black and red with a few small sketches of women in black dresses. There is an easel, with a picture facing away from the audience. Lex stands in front of his desk shaking the hand of an Jed, a slightly overweight white-haired businessman.
Lex: Thank you for doing business with us, Mister Holenberg.
Jed: Please, Alex, call me Jed, and the pleasure is all mine. With this campaign I can really see Holenberg Cigars taking the industry by storm in…three, four months.
Lex: I’m no miracle worker, Jed.
Jeb: Ah, my boy. You don’t give yourself enough credit. Not nearly enough. (Checks his watch) And on that lovely note I must be off to one stuffed-shirt business meeting or another. A good day to you. (Exits)
Lex works at his desk, typing on his keyboard and jotting down a few notes and sketches. Roman enters the room, more tense and jittery than usual, but keeping it for the most part under wraps. He steps up to Lex’s desk and waits to be noticed. Lex does not lift his head until Roman speaks.
Lex: Roman? Hello, little brother, what’re you doing here?
Roman: I…I came here for lunch. Remember? Today was the day we planned.
Lex: I’m sorry, Rome, I’d love to, but I don’t have that kind of time today.
Lex: It’s the sacrifice of being successful I’m afraid. It’ll all be worth it in the end, though. I’m certain of that. For you. For Shirley. For Grams and Grampa.
Roman: For your Chinese baby?
Lex: Who? Oh. Yes. Him, too. That reminds me. I have to call the agencies. Adoption agency. Travel agency. Shirley and I have to fly out to China soon and pick out which one we want. I figured we could spend a few week’s vacation in Sri Lanka while we were on that side of the world. It would be a waste not too.
Lex: Hey. I want you to see something. (He walks to the easel and turns it around, revealing a stylized painting of his Woman in Black, holding a cigar) Here she is. The logo design for Holenberg Cigars, inspired by none other than that dark siren I encountered a few night’s back. You remember the woman in black I told you about, don’t you?
Roman: Of course I-
Lex: Of course you do. Well, between you and I, I haven’t been able to get her out of my head for the past ninety or so hours. So I thought to myself, maybe I could use this unhealthy fixation to my advantage. And so this was born. Beautiful. Every night I leave this office I walk by that street, even if I parked somewhere out of the way, to see if she’s there. Don’t tell anyone any of this, please. Imagine what our Grampa would thing of such odd behavior.
Roman: I won’t.
Lex: Good. I knew I could always trust you with a secret. (Returns to his work)
Roman: L-like when dad ran away and mom was sick and you used to bring Amy Gonzalez in and you two would fuck on the couch and I saw the one time?
Lex: Yea. Sure. That’s it.
Roman: And you made me promise not to tell and I never did. (No response) So…no lunch then?
Lex: Sorry. Did you say something?
Roman stands there for a while and eventually leaves, head lowered a bit. As he exits Frank enters. Lex looks up the moment Frank nears his desk.
Lex: Hello, Frank.
Frank: You sure did a number on Holenberg. He sang your praises the whole way out the door.
Lex: What can I say? I’m a talented individual.
Frank: I see all this power’s already draining you of your modesty.
Lex: I can afford to be immodest. It’s a benefit I’ve discovered. Nice work, by the way, on the toothpaste thing.
Frank: Oh. You heard about that? Thought your ears were too stuffed with endless compliments and cigar butts.
Lex: Always have to keep an eye on potential threats to the throne.
Frank: I’m flattered. Got time for a quick lunch downstairs?
Lex: Actually…yea. And let’s hit that little coffee shop on the corner. I’m ahead of schedule today.
Scene 10-The kitchen
Anna is cooking spaghetti on the stove while Bill moves from place to place gathering ingredients for a sandwich.
Bill: (Reaches over Anna) ‘Scuse me, Anna.
Anna: Can’t you see I’m trying to cook here, Bill! Make you’re sandwich some other time. Get out of my kitchen.
Bill: Calm down, woman. It’s my kitchen, too.
Anna: Well, I don’t see you paying for any of the food in it. All you do is eat it up.
Bill completes his sandwich and goes to the table.
Bill: Where’s Roman at?
Anna: I don’t know, Bill. I’m not nosy like some people.
Bill: Hm. He have a girlfriend yet?
Anna: I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Let ‘im focus on his school work. There’s plenty of time for girls later.
Bill: Hope it’s girls.
Anna: The boy ain’t a fa- He ain’t gay, Bill.
Roman enters, backpack on. He’s a bit exhausted. Bill and Anna’s eyes move to him instantly.
Anna: Hey there, Roman.
Anna: What have you been up to today?
Roman: (Walks by) Nothing.
Anna: (Blocks Roman. Checks his face) Roman. You look a little tired. Are you okay?
Roman: Yea. Just…didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. Writing music.
Bill: Loud ass guitar.
Anna: Are you hungry?
Bill: You sure, boy? You look a little thin.
Roman: (Loudly) No! (Shocks himself) I mean…no. (Reaches for the cupboard and pulls out two cups) I’m just…need water…sleep. That’s all. (Exits)
Scene 11-Roman’s room
Roman scurries around his room, looking for something, more jittery than before. The glasses of water on placed on his desk. He finds his cell phone and calms down substantially. Digging into his backpack he pulls out a pill container. He places one pill in each cup. They dissolve to nothing in the water. He dials a number into his cell phone.
Roman: (In a panicked voice) Marci, it’s me. I need your help. Come over. Come over now.
Roman hangs up the phone. Lights fade to black. Lights go back up. Roman is practicing guitar on his bed. His backpack is nowhere in sight.
Fiery faces melt my mind
Persecution far from home
Tainted empire tried to find
Suffocating. Fall of Rome.
Desperate shadows call my name
Singing chorus drowned in moans
Tears and laughter sound the same
Suffocating. Fall of Rome.
Marci enters through the window. Roman drops his guitar and quickly runs to her.
Roman: Marci. You came.
Marci: Of course I came. Are you alright?
Roman: Well…it’s my brother…
Marci: What happened? Is he okay?
Roman: Yea. Sure. (Grabs the glasses of water and offers one to her) Here. Have a drink. This might take a while.
Lights go down. When they come up both glasses of water are empty and sitting on the desk. Roman and Marci sit side-by-side on the end of the bed. Both are in a light daze, Marci more than Roman, and they speak closely to each other.
Roman: So my centaur is at level five now. I came across this big spider-thing. You know the one?
Roman: Yea, so I thought the thing was gonna kick my ass, but just when I could practically see the words “Game Over” racing across the screen I leveled up and squashed that thing. It was pretty amazing.
Marci: Sounds like it. (Pause) Hey, Roman. I’m feeling kind of…off.
Roman: What? Are you sick or something?
Marci: No. No sick. It feels like my brain is deflating. It- (She glances at the drinks) Did you put something into my drink?
Roman: Both drinks. Mine and yours. But don’t worry. It’s harmless. A minor tranquilizer. To relax the both of us.
Roman: Yes. We’ve both been a little tense lately, I think. I figured it’d be good for you and I if we just took the time to calm down and talk to each other. Like we used to.
Marci: You fucking bast-
Roman: (Puts his pointer finger to her mouth) Shhh. It’s okay. I would never force you to do anything you wouldn’t want me to. (His hand creeps to her thigh)I love you.
Roman: Can I kiss you, Marci? Ever since the first time I’ve dreamed of kissing you again.
Marci: Roman I…
Roman: Would you stop me if I kissed you?
Roman pushes himself onto Marci, kissing her. His hand moves up her thigh, while his other hand works at her face and torso. Marci jerks back at first but gradually gives in to the other.
Roman: You’re beautiful, do you know that? I’m sorry I didn’t realize this sooner. We could’ve done this years ago. You’re so soft and fragile and wonderful. I want you so badly. (Roman kisses her again and she shivers a little. He pulls away) Are you okay?
Marci: I-I don’t…I can’t think.
Roman: It’s okay, Marci. I can think for the both of us. We’ll be one soon. (Roman pulls the covers back from his mattress) We’ll have each other. We’ll never be alone. We’ll drive each other to success and adopt a small child from the Philippines. (Roman guides Marci back onto his bed and climbs on top of her, pulling the covers over the both of their lower halfs) It will be perfection in its purest form. Happiness like neither of us have ever felt.
Roman: Shhh. All is as it should be. (He kisses her neck as he undoes his pants and belt with one arm, while propping himself up with the other) I love you, Marci. More than anyone has ever loved anything, I think. Do you love me yet? (Pause) Do you, Marci? (Pause) Do you love me?
Roman: (Taken aback) No? No. No! No! (Roman climbs off of Marci in a hurry, redoes his belt and pants, and leaps from the bed, disgusted and disbelieving, experiencing a violent tantrum) This is wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
Anna: (from outside the door) Roman Wade, what on earth are you doing in there?
Roman: GET THE HELL AWAY FROM MY DOOR!
Anna exits. Roman moves back and forth, motioning to hit something, then he slumps over, exhausted and defeated. He reaches under his bed and pulls out his backpack. He puts the backpack on and exits through the window, leaving Marci alone on his bed.
Scene 11-The street corner
Woman in Black arrives at the corner. She is wearing a large black hat with a veil that falls over her face, covering it from view. The black dress is even more elegant than before. Lex enters, noticing the Woman instantly. He stops and examines her as before. This time he tries to approach her from behind, moving carefully as not to frighten her or snatch her attention. When Lex is almost close enough to touch her she turns to him, frightening him.
Lex: It’s you. It’s really you. Just when I started to think that fateful night was all a dream, some dark fantasy, you’re here. Here you are.
Woman in Black moves with liquid motions. She reaches into her purse and pulls out a black envelop. She hands the envelope to Lex and hurries offstage. Lex starts after her, stops, and opens the envelope. He reads the letter, becoming increasingly excited and exits the way he came.
Scene 12-The kitchen
Anna is pouring hot tea into a teacup as Marci sits at the table, distant, rubbing herself for warmth.
Anna: (Places the cup in front of Marci and sits down beside her) How are you, dear?
Marci: Fine, thanks.
Anna: I haven’t seen you around here in a while.
Marci: I’ve been sneaking in through the window.
Anna: Oh. (Pause) So…What happened up there?
Marci: I don’t want to talk about it.
There is silence as both Marci and Anna drink their tea. The silence is broken by the arrival of Roman from another room of the house. Roman sees Marci and the two share a glance. Roman then goes to the refrigerator and pours himself a cup of milk.
Anna: Roman. (Pause) Roman.
Roman drinks his milk and exits the way he came. Marci stands up and marches off in the same direction.
Scene 13-Roman’s room
Roman sits on his bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. Marci bursts in and stops a few feet away from him.
Marci: Where were you? (Pause) I asked you a question. Where the fuck did you go?
Roman: Nowhere. I was right outside. Under the big tree. I couldn’t stay in here. I couldn’t look at you.
Marci: (Pause) You practically raped me. I hope you know that. I hope you understand what you almost did to me. What you did to our friendship. You fucking drugged me, Roman! You drugged me! With one phone call, ONE call, I could put you behind bars…or in an asylum. I could. I should. (Pause) I hate you so much. More than I’ve ever hated my spiteful mother, my alcoholic father, my abusive boyfriends. And do you know why? Of course you don’t. It’s because out of all my crappy relatives and neglectful friends you were always the only one I loved. And it wasn’t the kind of love that results in you and I fucking in the backseat of your ’97 Civic outside of a movie theater. It was much more real than that. (Pause) I guess that wasn’t enough for you. I guess I wasn’t enough. (Starts for the window) I’m leaving your room now, Roman Wade. Don’t expect to see me again. (Exits)
Roman begins to cry. He reaches into his backpack and pulls out a syringe.
Scene 13-The office
Lex sits back in his desk chair staring at the letter from the Woman in Black.
Scene 1-The kitchen
Anna and Bill eat breakfast at the table.
Bill: Where’s Roman?
Anna: I don’t know, Bill. He hasn’t been here in days.
Bill: Think he went off with that girl you were talking about?
Anna: I don’t…think so. I don’t know, Bill.
Scene 2-The office
Lex sits, working hard in his office. The office is covered in pictures and designs of the Woman in Black. Covered to the point of obsession. Frank walks in, disturbed by all the new decorations.
Frank: Jesus, Lex. Obsess much?
Lex: Hello, Frank. What can I do for you?
Frank: Nothing. Nothing at all. Just wondering why we work on the same floor of the same building but I never see you anymore.
Lex: I’ve been busy, Frank. It’s an undesirable yet unavoidable side effect of my new title.
Frank: I think there’s a little more to it than that. I talked to Shirley. She doesn’t see you either.
Lex: You talked to Shirley.
Frank: As concerned friends, of course. Nothing more. Lex. Something has happened to you. Everyone sees it. This strange behavior. You missed the closing meeting with Holenberg. You missed it and had no real reason to from what I see. (Pause) I was placed in charge of phase two of the campaign in addition to the toothpaste thing. (Pause) Did you not hear me? I’m in charge of your campaign. (Pause) Has there been any news about your brother?
Frank: Your brother. Roman. He’s been missing for days. Shirley told me.
Frank: Wow, Lex. You’re gone. (Starts to exit, but is stopped by Lex)
Lex: Frank! Wait!
Frank: I don’t have time for-
Lex: The Woman in Black. The mascot for the Holenberg campaign.
Frank: Uh huh. What about her?
Lex: She’s real.
Frank: Oh boy.
Lex: I met her once on a street corner. A week or so ago. She came back to me a few days later and gave me a letter. The letter said that she would meet me again tonight. It’s all I can think about. (Frank stands in silence, thinking to himself) What? What are you thinking?
Frank: I’m thinking that this office is going to go through some major renovations when it’s mine.
Scene 3-The kitchen
Anna, Bill, and Shirley sit under dim lights, drinking tea.
Anna: I don’t understand it. We gave that boy a good home. Always fed him.
Bill: Always had money. Damn kids today. Acting so stupid for no reason. Had a lot more than any of us had.
Shirley: I’m sure he’ll show up. He’s a smart kid.
Anna: Honor roll every year.
Bill: Better than his brother at that age.
Anna: Mm hm.
Bill: Hope he didn’t go off into the streets. Boy like that wouldn’t last long. Angry boy. I always knew he was a little off…but with a father like that…
Shirley: Father? Lex never talks about his father to me.
Anna: His father was a good man. Our boy. A confused man, too. One morning he just decided he wasn’t happy and left his family with some man. Tore his wife apart. Wasn’t long after her sickness set in. Cancer. When she died the boys came to live with us.
Bill: About a two weeks after she died, you mean. The boys ran off on their own. Lex and Roman. Had to have been twelve and six at the time. Lex took care of Roman out on the streets. They were both a bit thrown by their mother’s death. They didn’t want anyone else raising them. Police found them eating out of a dumpster and sent them here. Haven’t complained since.
Anna: Lex and Roman were inseparable for a time. But the difference in age and-
The phone rings. Everyone is quiet and still. Shirley picks up the phone.
Shirley: Hello, Wade residence, how may I- Oh. I see.
Bill: Who is it?
Shirley: Okay. Thank you. We’ll be right there. Goodbye. (Hangs up the phone) They found him.
Scene 4-The street corner
Lex stands on the corner, searching the area impatiently, holding a dozen red roses.
Lex: Come on. Where are you? You said you’d be here by now. Please, come. Please.
A Hobo wobbles onto stage from upstage. He looks around and then notices Lex.
Hobo: Hey, you. (Gets Lex’s attention) You lookin’ for her?
Hobo: The lady. The one in black.
Lex: I am.
Hobo: Well, she ain’t comin’. She had some business to attend to. Busy lady, you understand. But she told me you’d be here. (Reaches into his pocket and pulls out a red envelope) Make me promise I’d make sure this got to ya.
The Hobo hands Lex the envelope and hobbles offstage as Lex opens it and reads the letter inside. He seems disturbed by its contents. He exits.
Scene 5-The kitchen
Anna, Bill, and Shirley, in a panic, rush in through the outside entrance. As they speak, Shirley pulls out her cell phone as she hurries Bill and Anna through the kitchen and both of them exit through the other side.
Shirley: You two get whatever you need. I’ll be right here waiting.
Anna: Thank you, dear.
Bill: Where’s Bill?
Shirley: I’m calling him right now. (Bill and Anna exit) Hello. Bill. It’s Shirley. There’s been an emergency. No. I’m at Bill and Anna’s. No. They’re fine. It’s Roman. They found him in the city. He was- What? You need to-? Bill, you and I can talk later. This is your brother we’re talking about here. At the hospital. He’s in a coma. Drug overdose. The doctor’s say he’s in critical condition. Your grandparent’s are packing to stay overnight. We’ll meet you there in a- What? What do you mean you can’t make it tonight? He’s your brother! Fine. Look, I-I hear Bill and Anna. We’ll talk later.
Bill and Anna rush in.
Bill: Did you get a hold of Lex?
Shirley: Yes. He’ll be there as soon as he can.
Lights fade to black. There is a period of silence.
Shirley: You have reached the voicemail of Shirley Myers. I am not able to answer the phone right now but if you leave your name, number, and a detailed message I will get back to you as soon as possible. Have a great day.
There is a beep.
Frank: Shirley. Hey, it’s Frank. Lex hasn’t been to work in three days. I was wondering if you had any idea where he’s been hiding. Talk to you later, babe. Bye.
There is another beep.
Frank: Hey. Frank again. I heard about Roman in the hospital. I’ll try to get down there as soon as I can. PS. I’m acting Vice President until your man gets back.
There is a succession of beeps, soft, one every other second.
Shirley: The doctors say he’s falling fast.
Anna: Oh, God. Please. Please don’t take my baby away.
Bill: Where’s Lex?
Shirley: I don’t know, Bill.
Anna: Our father, who art in heaven…
Bill: You told him his brother was in the hospital, didn’t you?
Anna: …thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth…
Shirley: Yes. Three days ago. And a million times after that. He hasn’t returned any of my messages.
Anna: …and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…
Bill: What is wrong with him? Wasn’t anything Roman wouldn’t do for him and he can’t even show his face.
Anna: Amen. (Anna gasps)
Doctor: Mr. and Mrs. Wade?
Shirley: (Pause) Doctor?
Doctor: I’m sorry. He’s gone.
Scene 7-Roman’s room
Bill and Anna enter. Anna is crying, carrying a box of Roman’s belongings, including his backpack. Bill holds her in his arms. Anna places the box on the bed and the two exit. Once Bill and Anna are out of sight a spotlight appears on Lex, standing on an empty portion of the stage, shivering from the cold. In his hand is his latest letter from the Woman in Black, wrinkled from endless use.
Lex: (After a moment of silence) Well, I’m here. I did everything you said. My job. My family. Everything. I left it all…for you. Now, come to me…
Marci climbs in through Roman’s window
Marci: Rome? You here? (Looks around) Hm. (Sits down on the bed. Notices the box of belongings. Casually looks through the box, eventually making it to the backpack. She opens the backpack and finds something of interest) What in the…? (She stands up, pulling out a long black dress. The one the Woman in Black last wore) Roman Wade. You need some serious help.
Light fades out over Roman’s room. Five seconds later the spot light over Lex goes out. In a second it comes back on but Lex is gone. It is Roman who stands under the light. He is dressed in light colors, but in the same style as usual. He examines his surroundings a bit, takes a few steps downstage, lets out a deafening cry, shouting until he’s out of breath, collapsing to his knees, and the lights go out.
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