Sunday, May 15, 2011

Clandy and Meavon Share Their Junk


by Clandy and Meavon

STEPHANIE-early 20s-a kleptomaniac-manic and bubbly, almost always in motion.
TERRY-40s-solitary-lost his sister when he was young-used to hide in his closet and talk to her. Preparing to return to his childhood home.

Place: an uneventful Atlantic City bus tour broken down on the side of the expressway. Late spring. Early evening.


STEPHANIE and TERRY sit on opposite sides of the aisle. TERRY seems agitated. STEPHANIE seems preoccupied. Bus driver's voice comes over the P.A. 'Attention, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for your patience. It looks like we won't be able to get the bus going for you tonight. But we've called for replacements. Passengers wishing to continue to Atlantic City should board the first bus, arriving in about five minutes. Those of you who wish to return to the depot should wait for the next bus. I'm sorry. I have no ETA on that one at this time. Just sit tight, and we'll get you there as soon as we can."

(TERRY drops his head into his hands and swears loudly. STEPHANIE is extremely fidgety as she watches others exit the bus, as if she is planning her next move.)

STEPHANIE: (To TERRY.) Are you gonna... you're not getting off?

TERRY: (Confused.) No. I don't, I don't know.

STEPHANIE:Yeah. I know. I mean, not about you not knowing but... you know?

(TERRY stares at STEPHANIE. She stops fidgeting.)

TERRY: Really? (A smile spreads across his face.) You really think. Really? How could you? Who do you? Please.

(TERRY waves STEPHANIE away and returns his head to his hands. STEPHANIE's fidgets return.)

STEPHANIE: (Small.) I'm sorry, I... forget it.

(Awkward silence. Sound of other bus pulling up. Bus driver's voice comes over P.A., "First bus is here. Last chance, folks." TERRY sinks lower into his hands. STEPHANIE looks at him, out the window, toward the bus driver, back at TERRY. She waves the bus driver away. Pause. Sound of other bus driving away.)

STEPHANIE: (to herself) That's it. That's the last time. Swear, swear, swear. 

(TERRY lifts himself out of his hands.  Sits back in his seat.  Looks over at STEPHANIE then at his feet.  Crosses his fingers behind his head with his elbows spread out.  Takes a deep breath.)  

TERRY:  (Looking ahead.) Careful what you swear, honey.

STEPHANIE:What? I... I didn't realize I said that out loud. (pause) And I'm not your honey.

(STEPHANIE gets up in a hurry and starts to change seats. Her large bag gets snagged on the seat, causing many small objects to go skittering across the floor. She scrambles to retrieve them.
TERRY drops to his knees to help. STEPHANIE snatches objects up before he can get to them and shoves them into her bag.)

STEPHANIE: No! They're mine! I mean, it's nothing. I've got it. (Pause.) Thanks. (Sits.)

TERRY: Sorry.  I didn't mean nothing by it.  It's just came out.  I don't know when I'm thinking to myself or talking out loud sometimes. 

STEPHANIE: Oh. (Beat.) Oh! (Beat.) You're sort of nice.

TERRY: Hmmm. I'll take sorta. Thank you. I'll try to be nicer seeing that we'll be stuck here together for god knows how long.

STEPHANIE:Yeah. (Pause.) I'm Stephanie.

TERRY:  Terry.

(He stands, nods and smiles, returns to his seat a few rows ahead. STEPHANIE takes out an iPod, tries to listen to some music (or at least appear as though she is). Her eyes are drawn to TERRY repeatedly. He sits looking out the window, shaking his head.  Finally, she can't take it any more.)

STEPHANIE: Do you think you could be a good person, even if you're always doing bad stuff? I mean, like if you know the stuff is bad, and you don't want to do it, but--like, you just can't help doing it anyway--and you wish you could change, and you've tried, but you can't. And except for this one thing, you're always doing good things--like, really good things. It's just this ONE thing that's bad. What do you think?

(TERRY stares before leaving his seat and stands leaning against the seat a row ahead of STEPHANIE.) 

TERRY: I think it's all kinds of bad up in us.  I don't know, and to be honest, I don't care if we come with it or we accumulate it along the way, but if a person ever manages to get it all down to just one bad thing--hell, that may as well be a saint, if you ask me.

STEPHANIE: Well... What would you consider a bad thing? I mean like a REALLY bad thing.

TERRY: (Laughing nervously.) That's a very personal question.

(He gestures to the seat across the aisle from STEPHANIE. She nods, hopeful and nervous. He sits.  He stares ahead, then at STEPHANIE and back ahead again.)

TERRY: I've been asking myself that question for thirty years.


STEPHANIE: I think I want to tell you something--or somebody, at least, and you seem--I mean, we'll probably never see each other again, right? So... (Sighs.) Never mind. It's stupid. (Pause.) Terry... do you believe in God, or, like, Hell and stuff? Or Karma?

TERRY: (After a long pause.)  Yeah. Yeah, I believe in something or other.

TERRY drops his face into his hands slowly sliding his fingers over scalp until his forehead rests in the palms of his hands.  

STEPHANIE: (To herselfS) I was really hoping you'd say no. (Pause. Notices Terry.) Are you OK, Terry?

TERRY: (Startled.)  Oh.  Yeah.  (Standing.)  When is that damn bus coming?  Did you hear anything?  How long do they plan on making us wait out here?  I'm going to talk to the bus driver.

(Terry exits. Stephanie takes a moment to register what has just happened. She looks out the window, sees that Terry will probably be while, if he comes back at all. She takes out a plastic shopping bag, places it on the seat next to her as though it might explode--nothing happens. In one catlike motion, she plunges her hand into the bag, whips out a shoe box, drops it into her lap, pulls her hands away as if the box has burned her.)

Stephanie: (To the Universe.) OK, God, or Universe, or whoever, or whatever's out there. Here they are! Go ahead! I'm ready!  (Closes her eyes tight. Nothing happens.) 

Look, I don't know if this is the punishment, or the "big test," or if that's still coming, but I want you to know that I know that you know that I took these from the shoe store at the Mohecan Sun.  I mean, a key-chain or a tube of lip-gloss or a cheep pair of earrings, but--not that I'm saying those were OK. They weren't, but... And I want you to know that I wish I didn't take those things, especially these. I don't need them. I don't even want them--a pair of (Examining the side of the box.) size twelve men's beaded moccasins! (Lifts the lid off the box and starts to cry.)

Nobody would want these. (Sobbing.) They're so ugly.(She cries. Sound of a police car with siren speeding by. She sits up abruptly, terrified.)

OK! OK! I get it. I will fix this. I will make this right. I will give these shoes to someone who really needs them, who wants them... and doesn't care too much about fashion. (Another police car speeds by with siren.)

AND... and, and, and... and I'll make a large donation to the Mohecan tribal council! (Third police car screams past.)

AND I'll also... alright I'll join CASA as soon as I get back. (Beat.) Yes, I will! And I'll...

Him! Terry! I'll help him with whatever's got him so upset! I'll help him. I'll make it right! Please. OK?!? (Nothing happens.)

Um, Universe. Not to be a bitch, but you've gotta give me something here.  Do we have a deal? Give me something, any kind of a sign and I'll do it, everything I promised. I'll start right now. (Huge rumble of thunder shakes the bus. Rain starts to fall.) Oh, thank God.

(STEPHANIE smiles and laughs quietly at herself, puts the shoes away, waits. TERRY enters drenched.  He paces up and down the aisle a few seats ahead and behind STEPHANIE.)

TERRY:  Shit.  (He turns and paces in the opposite direction.)  Fuck.  (Turns and paces.)  Shit.  (Turns and paces.)  Fuck.  (Turns and drops into the seat across the aisle from STEPHANIE.  A chill rushes through him.)  Shit.  (He faces STEPHANIE, dejected.)

STEPHANIE: (Secretly pleased.) Bad news? (Pulls a large sweatshirt from her bag.) You're soaked. Here. Please. Take it. It's the least I can do.

TERRY: (Accepting the sweatshirt.)  Bad news?  No that's just the way this fucking day is going.  This is great news.  Wouldn't have it any other way.  The bus that was coming for us?  Oh, seems some meth freaks decided to have their little domestic dispute on this particular evening.  On that particular bus.  There was a gun, gunshots, babies, who knows.  All we know for sure is that that bus is held up right now and they've called another one in for us.  (As bus driver.) It's on the way.  Sorry for the delay, sir.  Ma'am.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  Sorry that you're stuck in the middle of nowhere.  Sorry.  (Repeating in different poses.)  Sorry.  I'm sorry.  Sorry, sir.  So very sorry, sir.  Sir, I'm so sorry.  Sorry.  Sorry?  Sorry!  SORRY! (Collapsing to his seat, hiding his face in the sweatshirt.)  God! I'm so sorry, sis.  Oh god, I'm so sorry.  (Sobbing)  I'm sorry.

STEPHANIE: (Wide eyed. Stunned.) Um... Wait, what? (Freaking out.) Meth freaks? Gun!?! No, this is a casino tour bus for, little white-haired ladies--What kind of a bus did they send for us? Is anyone coming!?! How can they just... (Pause. Dawning realization.) Ohhhhhh... (Looking upward.) I get you. (Back to Terry. Puts a hand on his shoulder, carefully.) Don't worry, Terry. It's me, uh, Stephanie. I'm here with you. It's gonna be OK. (He sobs louder) Please stop crying. Please. (Pause.) Do you wanna talk about it?

TERRY: (Wiping his face, a slow chuckle rising.) Talk about it? A casino tour bus for little white-haired ladies? (Pause.) Then why are you here? Why am I here? (STEPHANIE starts to answer. TERRY stands. She closes her mouth.) This is just some kinda facade.  For all of us. Come on. We jump on this bus to do what? Pretend? Pretend like we're what?  Happy-go-lucky?  Just gonna go and blow a little change, hang with the girls, eat at the buffet, play the slots, flirt with some real big spenders, not be lonely for just one goddamn night out of this month, this year, or lifetime? Is that why? Or is it because we got some kinda itch, some tickle like at the back of your throat when you got a cold. You can't wash it down or cough it out. You just gotta live with it and get yourself used to the fact that it's your body but you ain't got one damn bit of control over it. Oh you can train. You can make yourself so fast, so strong. You can snatch a ball out of the air like a god, but let that itch come and you gonna find out just how pathetic you are. It ain't shit you can do about it but live with it and hope it go away. Or have another drink and then not care one way or the other. Or just go chase a number, a hand, some ass, doesn't matter. Just go chase your own damn tail. Doesn't matter at all. (Pause.) Do I want to talk about it? Fuck.

(STEPHANIE, flabbergasted, has a brief, silent argument with the Universe that might go something like this, were it ever spoken: "Are you kidding me with this guy?! What the hell am I supposed to do now? Couldn't I just... But he's... Oh, FINE! Have it your way." She contemplates before cautiously approaching TERRY.)

STEPHANIE: Listen, I'm about to do something... potentially very stupid, and I want you to just, like, let me do it, because it seriously needs to be done. OK? So I need you to, like, not freak out or smack me or run away screaming... but just, like, relax and let me do it. Alright? (Pause.) Cuz I'm gonna do it now, if it's alright.

(No answer. STEPHANIE steadies herself, sits next to TERRY, and goes in for an awkward hug. She is surprised when HE does not swing, shout, or run. They both settle into the embrace, take a deep breath, and exhale at the same time.)

STEPHANIE: OK. We both survived that. I'm not gonna lie, Terry. You're a scary dude... sometimes. But I don't care how much you shout. I'm totally right; these tours are for old ladies. That's why I'm here. My gran fell and broke her hip Sweatin' to the Oldies. She had this thing planned for months, but she's laid up, so she sent me. Not my idea of fun, but I couldn't hurt her feelings. I live with her, my gran.

And I don't know what made you get on this bus--you can tell me or not--but I'm pretty sure there's a reason why you and me are stuck here on the side of the Garden State Parkway while the cotton tops are half way to the Tropicana. Whadaya think?

TERRY: Damn you, kid. You got me on a bad night. I'm sorry. And thank you. For the hug. I needed that. Thank you. (He seems to gather himself.)  Your gran sent you, uh? She must be some kinda lady. And you? Well, we've already established that you're a good kid, I mean person. What was all that talk about being bad you were going on with earlier?

(STEPHANIE, all of a sudden struck by the absurdity of the situation, has a giggling fit. TERRY looks like he wants in on the joke. She does her best to compose herself.)

STEPHANIE: Why am I bad? Well, for starters, that sweatshirt you're wearing... I stole it from the Pequot Museum Trading Post at Foxwoods. (STEPHANIE dissolves into laughter, stops abruptly, tries to be serious.) Oh my god. It's not funny at all. I don't know why I'm laughing. (Starts to crack up.) Sorry.

TERRY: (Confused.) Don't be sorry.  (Forcing a slight chuckle.) I guess it is kinda funny.  (Raising his arms and checking out the sweatshirt.) Seems to fit me pretty nice.  Say you got a pretty good eye for it.  At least for me that is.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. Maybe. (Pause.) What size shoe do you wear?

TERRY: Twelve. Sometimes a thirteen. (Slightly laughing.) Why? You steal a pair of shoes for me too? 

STEPHANIE: No! (Pause. Quietly.)  They're moccasins.

TERRY: For me?

STEPHANIE: For you? (Pause.)  Um... how do you feel about fashion?

TERRY: What do you mean when you say fashion? 

STEPHANIE: Yes. They're for you.

(STEPHANIE presents TERRY with the shoebox, waits for a response. Terry accepts the shoebox and opens to see the moccasins.  He smiles and walks away, obviously happy.)

STEPHANIE: Hey! Where are you going? (Pause. To herself.) Karma, you are kicking my ass.


Can't wait to see what happens next? Neither can Clandy and Meavon.    ...stay tuned.



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