Pimp My Lent/Day 37
Photo above, and this note from hometown buddy Randy Warren…
What follows is a scene from GRACE ROSE SUNDAY, a play in progress. It’s part of a trilogy of plays set on a homestead farm outside of Chickasha, a small town just south of Oklahoma City. [See Pimp My Lent – Day 5 for full information.]
It’s springtime, 1995.
Grace Rose came home after a long absence, called home by her mother, Mrs. Sunday, to help empty out the old farm house and get it ready to sell. When Grace Rose first arrived, nobody was home, so Grace Rose broke in – and was almost arrested by sheriff’s deputy Michael Cielo, a friend of her sister’s. Lynn, a recluse, has a huge crush on Michael. But he falls hard Grace Rose, as she does for him. They fall into a very intense relationship, very quickly – including an unexpected pregnancy.
Less than a week ago, Mrs. Sunday collapsed and died in the kitchen after a vicious argument with Lynn. Yesterday was the funeral. Frannie, a cousin, showed up for the funeral and then announced that she’s not going back to her husband and six children in Houston.
LIGHTS UP on the back yard and kitchen
The day after Mrs. Sunday’s funeral. It’s morning.
A LOW RUMBLE, like thunder in the far distance. SLIGHT rattle from old windows.
Michael sits on the back porch steps. In his uniform. Tense. Watching the driveway.
In the house, only the morning light through the windows, no inside lights on. It’s quiet except for morning birds, and the sound of AN OLD PORTABLE TV playing a morning talk show.
In the kitchen, there’s just the refrigerator, kitchen chairs, table and microwave left. Lynn is at the table, eating cereal out of a coffee mug and watching TV. Lynn finishes off the cereal, drains the milk.
Frannie comes down the back stairs into the kitchen. Hair’s a mess, mascara smeared, she wears a matching bra and underwear, and ripped panty hose. She is hungover and dying of thirst. She opens one cabinet, and then the next – there are no dishes in the cabinets.
Frannie looks at Lynn’s coffee mug. Lynn pours more cereal into the mug, then milk, and sits back down to eat.
FRANNIE: …Where’s my mother? Lynn.
LYNN: Not my day to watch her.
FRANNIE: (at the empty cabinets) Why are we all here if there’s nothing in this house!
Lynn turns up television. Frannie resorts to drinking out of the kitchen sink faucet.
Outside. Michael gets to his feet. Wills himself not to run at Grace Rose as she enters the yard.
GRACE ROSE: Hi. Sorry.
MICHAEL: Why did I wake up, and have idea where you were?
GRACE ROSE: It’s complicated.
MICHAEL: It’s not. It’s easy. You wake me up. Or you leave a note. So that I don’t wake up, and spend hours going crazy because I don’t know where you are, Lynn doesn’t know where you are, nobody knows where the fuck you are!
GRACE ROSE: Do not yell at me.
MICHAEL: I’m not yelling.
GRACE ROSE: Your tone, not your volume. You’re yelling. I don’t like it.
MICHAEL: You know what I don’t like?
GRACE ROSE: No I don’t! I don’t ! Not really. How could I? I barely know you – this is all so…! Michael, what are we doing?
MICHAEL: I’m in love with you!
GRACE ROSE: I’m in love with you! But I don’t know you! I’m scared of you!
MICHAEL: You’re scared of me.
GRACE ROSE: Not of you, not of you, of how I feel about you. It feels like- I’m scared of you because it feels like being high, being drunk, it feels like…out of control. I feel so out of control.
MICHAEL: So – Wait. Are you saying –
GRACE ROSE: I don’t know.
MICHAEL: You know. You know. What do you want, Grace? Don’t think it to death, just say it – what do you want? What do you want?
GRACE ROSE: Time. A little breathing space! Sleep! To not be woken up at midnight by Frannie who says she’s going crazy because her mother, Ebby won’t stop talking about how Frannie needs to go back to her husband and kids. She feels like she’s losing her mind, she says, can I please take her somewhere, she needs a glass of wine. So I threw on the only jeans that still fit me, and we went to The Broken Spoke, where I did not drink but Frannie did. Then she danced, drunk, and wouldn’t leave, and I stayed there with her so she wouldn’t go home with this sleazy guy Lance who works for Interstate Battery and kept hitting on her. We went to IHOP so I could eat because the nausea was creeping up on me. We got back about four, I helped Frannie into the upstairs bathroom where I’m pretty sure she slept propped up between the wall and toilet. I came to bed – kissed you, but you never woke up – and I fell asleep ‘til about seven, and woke up remembering that I’m pregnant and my mother’s dead. I couldn’t sleep anymore, so I got up and went walking. I walked to the little house where we lived, Lynn, Mama, Daddy and me, just us, before we moved up here. Then I sat down on the steps of Marland Elementary School and I put my head in my hands and cried for a solid half-hour to forty-five minutes. Then I walked home. I have my shoes in my hand because my feet are swelling, already, and I am terrified of what I am going to look like after I pass a whole human baby through of a very small opening in my body, and whether or not you’re going to stay, or run away, or disappear. This is not new to me, Michael, every relationship that I’ve ever had, started off like this – ill thought-out, compulsive, caution-to-the-winds – I’ve learned nothing, nothing. How the hell can this work? I’m scared.
MICHAEL: Lance is sleazy. And he’s always trolling for drunk women at the Broken Spoke. You just lost your mother. And, you need…space. Okay. I get that.
GRACE ROSE: (uncertain) …Thank you?
MICHAEL: How’s the nausea?
GRACE ROSE: Better after my walk.
MICHAEL: Told you. Exercise is key. Just a matter of time ‘til you’re getting up early with me, going running. (she scoffs) My baby likes to run.
GRACE ROSE: Then you carry it. I’m beat. I’m going back to bed.
(She kisses on him on the cheek. He keeps hold of her)
MICHAEL: Just wake me up next time? You scared the shit outta me, Grace.
GRACE ROSE: I’m a big girl from the big city.
MICHAEL: Yeah, well, I’m a cop.
GRACE ROSE: So you make the rules?
MICHAEL: So, I’ve seen what happens to women who go wondering alone out in the dark. I don’t have to imagine the worst, I know the worst. Okay? So, just let me know. I’m not telling you what to do. I’m just asking – Just let me know what you’re doing. Take a phone with you, something? Please.
(She agrees. Michael relaxes. End of fight)
GRACE ROSE: …You going to work now?
GRACE ROSE: Got ten minutes for make-up sex?
MICHAEL: (scoffs) Ten minutes. (she laughs) Let’s go to my house. I have a bed that we don’t have to inflate. And no relatives.
GRACE ROSE: Oh, yes. I need a change of clothes. Be right back.
MICHAEL: Hey. (she turns) To hell with it. Bring your suitcase.
GRACE ROSE: What?
MICHAEL: Pack up your gear.
GRACE ROSE: What?
MICHAEL: Bring your stuff to my house.
GRACE ROSE: What?
MICHAEL: (fake sign language) I. Would. Like. For. You. To. Stay. With. Me. Grace. Rose.
GRACE ROSE: Oh.
(His radio squawks, dispatcher’s voice, muted, multiple calls going out to officers. Michael frowns, turns his ear towards it, listening)
GRACE ROSE: What is it, Michael…? What’s wrong?
(He shakes his head, listening. Before Grace Rose can ask again, Frannie steps outside in her bra-panties-pantyhose ensemble)
FRANNIE: Grace Rose.
GRACE ROSE: Frannie. Where’s your dress?
FRANNIE: I need coffee. And something to drink it in.
GRACE ROSE: Where is your dress?
FRANNIE: I don’t know. I have a beautiful body. You don’t need to worry about it because I’m an only child. I need coffee and something to drink it in. Where’s my mother?
GRACE ROSE: She’s not upstairs?
FRANNIE: No. (to Michael) Do you know?
MICHAEL: (to Grace Rose) I have to go. Baby, I have to-
FRANNIE: (rolls her eyes) Cops.
GRACE ROSE: What’s going on, Michael?
MICHAEL: There’s, uh – They’re calling us all in, there’s –
GRACE ROSE: What?
MICHAEL: (into his radio) This is Cielo. 10-4, I’m on my way. (to Grace Rose) You don’t go anywhere today, okay? Promise me. You stay here, all of you, don’t go anywhere. Don’t leave Chickasha, do not get on the interstate, promise me. Grace Rose, tell me you’re hearing me.
GRACE ROSE: I’m terrified. You’re terrifying me. What are they saying –
(In the kitchen. Lynn reacts as her TV show is abruptly interrupted)
LYNN: Great. Another stupid special bulletin. “Today in the White House, President Clinton dealt it and Hilary smelt it.” (to the TV) This better be important!
MICHAEL: (to Grace Rose) I don’t have time- I wanna argue with you for the rest of my life, but I gotta go right now. Stay home. I’ll call you.
(He exits as Lynn reacts to what’s on TV)
LYNN: Oh my god… Michael! Michael, come here – MICHAEL!
(Grace Rose runs inside, to the kitchen as outside Frannie sits heavily in the swing)
GRACE ROSE: (to Lynn) What? What’s going on?
FRANNIE: (bellowing) MOTHER!
LYNN: Oklahoma City’s on fire. Downtown –
(LIGHTS BEGIN SLOW FADE as we hear TV NEWS ANCHOR)
NEWS ANCHOR V.O.: …What you’re seeing is – We can see the smoke from the building – this is downtown Oklahoma City – and we are showing you downtown, and as you can see, there has been an explosion, a building has been destroyed, it appears to be the — (beat. beat. beat) We are now, authorities are just now confirming that the explosion was the result of a bomb. If you’re just tuning in, we’re showing you A bomb, a very powerful bomb, has exploded in downtown Oklahoma City, in the heart of the city. Downtown is being evacuated, emergency personnel, fire and police, here on the scene and continuing to arrive…
End of Scene