Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sorry To Let You Down...and Tuesday Excerpt...and Promise of a New Feature

Elliot = Bad Blogger.

And now, for my Tuesday Excerpt.

After the ban on posting my Three Day Novel lifted, I didn't post it. And I'm not going to do so, now, because I'm going to do something else.

I turned a chapter into a play, and the play can sort of stand on its own while the chapter really can't. So I'm posting the play. Which is awesome. So here goes.

===

The Funeral Dinner, September 2007

Characters:
Quentin, 26, eager and bright eyed
Colin, 27, the solemn type
Amy, 28, also solemn
Meredith, 24, Quentin’s ex with whom he is reconnecting

Scene opens on a small, cramped apartment. QUENTIN is cooking a dinner in the kitchen, upstage right. Upstage center, there is a living room set up, with a television, coffee table, sofa, stereo, bookshelf, and a desk with a computer. Directly downstage from the kitchen is a small dining room table set up. There is a door leading off stage left to the bedroom, another stage right that is the entrance to the apartment. There is a large window with open shades next to this door, through which light is streaming. Quentin is wearing a yellow dress shirt, a pair of dark khaki pants and brown shoes. There is light music playing.

QUENTIN
Add the cilantro, and, there! Should be done!
(he stirs the pot and puts the lid on it)
Candles...candles...
(he searches the apartment for candles, which he finds on the bookshelf in a set of glass candlesticks. he sets these on the table)
Everything is set. Any minute now...
(there is a knock on the door)
Yes.
(he picks up a bottle of cologne and sprays his neck and wrists)
Coming!
(he puts the cologne on the bookshelf behind a picture frame and goes to open the door)
Hell...oh, what are you two doing here?
(Colin and Amy are standing at the door, carrying plastic shopping bags, Colin in dark pants and a white dress shirt, Amy in a black skirt and dark pink blouse)

COLIN
This is an intervention of sorts. Let us in.
(the two visitors push past Quentin)

AMY
(looking around)
Oh my God, Quentin...did you actually clean your apartment?
(she sniffs the air)
And are you cooking chili?

QUENTIN
(shutting the door and rushing to stand between the two visitors)
Yes. And yes. What do you want? And make it quick, please I have plans to...um...eat alone, tonight. Yeah. Alone.

COLIN
(looking around the place)
Dressed like that? And listening to “The Postal Service?”

QUENTIN
Yes. Yes, really. What is this about?

AMY
What’s all this about?
(looks at candlesticks on the table)
You didn’t get back together with Kristen did you?

QUENTIN
No, not at...no. Absolutely...no. Never. It’s nothing. I just wanted to...treat myself to a nice evening.

COLIN
Good, well, you’re dressed nice, we were going to force you into some nice clothes anyway. Amy, let’s set up, shall we?
(Colin and Amy begin taking items out of their shopping bags, Colin producing a shoe box painted brown and a stack of photographs, Amy a handful of votive candles in plastic holders. Colin places the box on the coffee table)

AMY
Is it okay, Quentin, if I just light these candles on the dinner table? That way I have more for the coffee table.
(she sets candles on every available surface, including creating a ring on the coffee table and two taller pillar candles on each side of the top of the television)
You have matches, right?
(she heads into the kitchen and begins searching)
This chili smells fantastic, Quentin.

COLIN
This music has to go.
(he presses stop on the stereo, pulls out the CD and puts in a CD he drew from his bag, and the apartment is filled with the opening strains of Carmina Burana)
Carl Orf. This is a nice compilation of some good requiem music.

AMY
(walking up to Quentin, who has been watching each of them with surprise and alarm mounting on his face)
This is the most recent picture we could find of Meredith.
(she hands him a framed picture)
I know it’s about four years old, and yeah, she’s dressed kinda goofy, but she’s having a good time at the State Fair, it’s a good way to remember her.

QUENTIN
What the hell are you talking about?

AMY
I’ll take care of this.
(she takes the picture and puts it between the pillar candles on top of the television)
Colin?

COLIN
Of course, Amy, if you would?
(Colin shuts the shades on the window as Amy cuts the lights and strikes a match, lighting the candles)
Quentin?
(stands right beside him, puts a hand on his shoulder)
It’s a time for grief, but also a time for growth and healing, my son. Shall we begin, Amy?

QUENTIN
Okay, seriously, you both have to leave right now.

AMY
Quentin, please...take a seat.
(she has finished lighting the candles, and escorts him to sit on the couch)

COLIN
(he has put on a dark suit jacket and a pair of reading glasses)
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the symbolic passing of Meredith Katherine Wallace.

QUENTIN
What the hell?

AMY
Quentin, sh, please.

COLIN
Meredith was a good woman, full of life and spirit, and served the children of the Minneapolis Public School System as a student teacher for a year, before moving on to become a full time instructor and guide for the young minds of the Duluth Public Schools. We now commit our memories of her to their final resting place, inside this, er, casket, and eventually, um, outside in that park across the street, underneath a magnolia tree, which I’m pretty sure she’d find a relaxing place to be.
(beat)
I would now like to invite those of you who knew her best to please step up and say a few words about her.
(stands aside; there is much pushing and prodding on the couch)

AMY
(standing up)
Well, I would like to say a few words, thank you, Reverend.

COLIN
Father.

AMY
Ew, I sleep with you.

COLIN
Deacon?

AMY
(considering)
Yeah, they can be married.

QUENTIN
Good GOD what have I done to deserve this?

COLIN
Quentin, sh, please.

AMY
I only met Meredith once, at a Violent Femmes and Afghan Whigs concert for which she didn’t stay to see the second half. I understood, as it takes a certain kind of person to like the Afghan Whigs, and their particular brand of post-punk pop-rock music is not for everybody.
(pause)
But she and I will always have the handshake outside of First Avenue, and I’ll never forget how much I wanted that pleated peasant skirt she was wearing that night. I wish I had told her that now, especially because she asked me where I got my jeans and I told her. For all I know, she owns a pair of those jeans, and I have never been able to find a skirt like that one anywhere.
(beat)
Meredith, you will be missed.
(she kisses her hand and touches it to the “casket” on the coffee table)

COLIN
Thank you, Amy. That was very sweet. Anyone else?
(Amy sits down next to Quentin, who merely crosses his arms and shakes his head)
Well, if nobody minds, I would like to say a few words.
(beat)
Quentin, you have suffered much from the loss of Meredith, but I urge you to remember her as she was, three years ago, when you were in love. Think of that person, and ask yourself; “what would she say if she could see me suffer?” I believe she would say, “Let me go, Quentin. Let me be at peace, so you can be at peace as well.” So please, my friend...
(beat)
...be at peace.
(bows his head, turns to face the picture of Meredith atop the television)
Be at peace.
(faces Quentin again, his face grave and solemn as Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings plays)
Be at peace.
(beat)

QUENTIN
(stands)
Well, okay, Colin, Amy, thank you for that, really, great stuff but you have to leave right now. Like, right now.
(there is a knock on the door, which was not closed all the way and therefore swings open, revealing Meredith standing there in a white pleated floor length peasant skirt and a purple tank top)

MEREDITH
Am I interrupting something?
(the men are frozen, staring at each other)

AMY
(getting up and running to Meredith’s side)
Where did you get that skirt?

COLIN
(shrugs)
This is kind of embarrassing, huh?
(grabs the picture of Meredith from the top of the television and hides it)

MEREDITH
Um...thrift shop? Quentin? Are they staying for dinner? Please say no.

QUENTIN
No, they’re just leaving. Right Colin, Amy?
(both slowly stir)

COLIN
Right, should...Quentin, everything’s...you’ll get the, um...candles back to me?

QUENTIN
Out.

AMY
I love that skirt, Meredith, love it.

QUENTIN
OUT!
(Amy and Colin exit, but Amy comes back)

AMY
Quentin, I’ve been meaning to ask you for your chili recipe...

QUENTIN
(mock cheerful)
Take a pound of beef and three whole tomatoes and GET OUT!
(she exits)
(End)

===

And now to introduce the possibility of a new feature; Video Blogging. Now, it won't be a really regular feature, I don't think. But it should be fun to give it a try. I was hoping to do a little bit tonight, but it's not looking promising. But still, maybe...

It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write. -Sinclair Lewis

2 comments:

mGk said...

Um... I love that play. It is perfection and hilarity defined. Love it almost as much as I love you bro! ~ mmg

Lisa said...

NEEDS MORE! What happens on the date... come on?!?!?!