Day 8: Sam Finds Love

The Prompt:

From pimp Tina Parker, a perfect rendering of a perfect song…

The Product:

I cheated a little today. I had written down the bones of this scene long ago, and stored them away – actually forgot about them until I listened to the song, and then read Leon Russell’s lyrics. The passion and the plea for understanding and forgiveness, helped put flesh on it.

CHARACTERS:

SAM, late 20s, earnest, kind, Gulf War vet

ANNA, 30s, lovely, wealthy, all business

KIKI, 40ish, beautiful, fragile

SCENE 1:   SAM & ANNA EVENING

SETTING:

High-rise apartment downtown Dallas, lived-in but sparsely furnished

CHARACTERS:

SAM, late 20s, earnest, kind, Gulf War vet

ANNA, 30s, lovely, wealthy, all busines

KIKI, 40ish, beautiful, very fragile

AT RISE:

Anna opens the door into the living room. Sam’s there waiting, with a backpack and a battered guitar case.

ANNA

Sam! Oh no, you brought your guitar.

SAM

I don’t go anywhere without it. I know I’m a little early I-

(But she’s gone back to packing her suitcase on the sofa. Sam follows her into the living room. Anna talks to him but never stops moving, folding laundry, gathering up her things, checking her lists, etc.)

ANNA

Awesome. Super. Glad you’re here.

(From the floor above, RHYTHMIC MUSIC and a SUBTLE, RHYTHMIC CREAKING)

Never take the guitar into her suite. So, okay, we went over all the food things already – you did please remember not to bring any red food with you, yes? No strawberries, raspberries, Big Red, red hots, etcetera?

SAM

Yes.

ANNA

You can have M&Ms, just be sure to remove all the red ones before bringing the bag into the house. Never put food in the trash cans.  But we went over all that, yes?

Great. Super. Okay. About the trash cans. On even days, you can just dump the trash and replace the liners, once in the morning, once at night. Odd days are “big trash” days. On big trash days, all the cans are taken out onto the patio, in numerical order, and scoured with bleach and hot water. She will probably watch you do it the first time. Never use Ajax, Comet, Bon Ami, Spic’n Span – nothing containing grit on the trash cans. Every-other day on the weekdays, the cleaning crew comes to disinfect the bathrooms, but other than letting them in and making sure they all wear the white coveralls and booties, don’t worry about that now. Here.

(hands him list)

Location map of the trash cans. Note that each one has a number. Memorize them, if you can. She will refer to them by number at times, so be ready. There are at two trash cans in every room, except in her bedroom where there are five. Never refer to them as garbage cans. Do not touch them unless she asks you to. Do not throw anything away in her bedroom. She will obsess over it for weeks.

(The CREAKING upstairs gets louder, then softer, continuing throughout)

ANNA

She’s exercising – today is aerobic day, which is usually when she’s at her best. She’s had all her meds already. Everything’s labeled and locked in the medicine cabinet.

(She hands him a key on a wrist band)

This is your key. If you lose it, you’ll have to call me so that I can tell you where the spare is. Don’t lose it. Don’t call me. I’ve sorted out the days, so you won’t need to open any pill bottles. I do, keep track of how many pills there are in each bottle, and I keep that list on my person, always, so don’t get any notions about treating yourself. Or her.

SAM

I don’t do –

ANNA

Love it. Perfect. Great. Do not go upstairs unless you hear the chime, or a dull thud as if she’s passed out. She likes to pretend she’s passed out, to test our love. Do not encourage this. Call her by name from the door until she pretends to come to. She’s never lasted longer than five minutes. Always knock, of course. Wait for her to say it’s okay to come into the room. Stay back at least six feet at all times, unless she expressly asks you to come closer. Pay attention to her, but don’t pay too much attention to what she’s saying. She’s human. She likes to be heard, she likes to be flattered, but only if you’re sincere. Never be patronizing. Make eye contact when she’s talking, but do not ever, ever touch her without first asking, for example, “May I take your blood pressure now, Kiki?” Never touch her. Never touch anything in her suite with your bare hands. If you do, even by accident, she will freak out. But don’t freak out about her freak-outs. They happen two or three times a week, and can usually be handled by one-half of one adnezine, the small oval purple pill. Don’t worry, it’s on list and there’s a pill identification chart on the wall next to the medicine safe. I’ve allotted you five adnezine for the week. If Kiki really goes off, you can give her a whole pill. If that doesn’t mellow her out, if she’s redlining, say to the point where she starts – never mind, it’ll be obvious. If she’s out of control, give her a second pill and call the doctor. Do not call me. The doctor’s cell phone number is on the medication list, on the laminated list on the left nightstand – Paul’s side of the bed – and  also laminated and mounted on the phone by your bed, and the front refrigerator, at the top of the “Emergency Numbers” list posted each door of each room of her suite. It’s also programmed into the cell phone that I gave you. Call the doctor. Not 9-1-1. Repeating here: do not call 9-1-1, call the doctor. Most importantly, do not call me. If my phone rings, I will assume that one or both of you are dead, dying, or gravely injured. Anything less, I may put out a hitman on you. Just kidding and this is the first break I’ve had from her in three years. Can you tell?

SAM

(laughs, uneasy)

Anna, you know, I am just a medic. Sure you-all don’t need a nurse or- ?

ANNA

No, Sam. We don’t do nurses. We hate nurses. Okay. Very important information here, so please take note. The cat’s name is Luz. She is old as dirt, and she is psycho. Do not ever, ever, ever let Luz out of the suite. The cat must stay in close proximity, always. Al-ways. Like Kiki, the cat never leaves the suite. Don’t – whatever you do, dear god, if you accomplish nothing else this week, do not let the cat out. Do not lose the cat. Do not kill the cat. It was Paul’s cat, well, it was a tiny kitten then, but Kiki has convinced herself that as long as the cat is still alive that a little part of Paul’s soul is still alive. Kiki believes that the cat keeps Paul’s soul with her. She will tell you this story, endlessly, once she trusts you. She’ll explain it in detail, at some point. Money for you, and for essentials, is hidden in the silverware drawer, under the butter knives. Do not bring money into the suite. Do you have credit cards on your person?

SAM

Just a gas card.

ANNA

Nothing she can use to order jewelry off TV, make donations, buy Polaroid film, etcetera?

SAM

No. It’s just to buy gas.

ANNA

Super. Love it. The kitchen’s fully stocked for the week. I know you’re a good cook.

SAM

Thanks, I like to think I’m good.

ANNA

She eats eight foods. Scrambled egg whites. Satsuma oranges. Popcorn. Crunchy Fiber Cluster Cereal. Low-sodium turkey breast. Hummus. Carrots. Lemon-flavored protein bars. At any given time, she may decide she is allergic to something, and stop eating whatever it is. Some foods she’ll return to eating, others she never touches again. Food is her biggest trust issue. Don’t offer it to her. Let her ask. Never fix her anything, unless she asks you. Don’t worry about her starving to death. She has a little stash in her kitchenette. Let her ask you for food. Otherwise, she’ll assume you’re trying to poison her.

(Anna extends her hand.)

Okay, that’s it. …Come on, Sam. Please. You’ll be fine, I sense this in you.  I need this vacation, Sam, please.

SAM

I’m sorry, ma’am, I’m really just a medic, I –

ANNA

The agency said you’re the best. You can do this. I’ll double your pay.

SAM

That’s not why I –

ANNA

Thank you. I’ll see you in seven days. Do not call me.

(Anna gets her suitcases, leaves. The second the door closes, creaking sounds above stop. The music stops. Sam sets down his guitar, exhales, waits. THUD from upstairs)

SCENE 2: SAM AND KIKI MORNING

SETTING:

KIKI’S BEDROOM – again, sparse, clean, but comfortable. Throughout the scene we hear but do not see the CAT. It meows often, throughout the entire scene.

AT RISE

Sam is wearing a Clean room suit, white with white booties and white snug-fitting hat. Kiki, early 40s, stands as far away as she can get and still be in the room. Kiki is lovely, emotionally fragile, and tethered to a small oxygen tank with a nasal cannula. She sniffles and wipes her eyes – quietly crying, a nervous habit more than actual upset.

Kiki watches Sam as he makes her bed. The sheets are new, sealed in plastic. Sam struggles to get them open and then make the bed because he’s wearing gloves and his germ mask that keeps slipping.

There are several unopened boxes of gloves and tissues (all the same color) stacked very precisely on a table near the window.

Everywhere in the room there are pictures of Kiki’s late husband Paul, a Mick Jagger-type rock god, all sizes, from snapshots and Polaroids to portraits, and magazine covers. In most of the photos, Paul’s posed holding a brilliant blue electric guitar. There are also concert photos of him playing the same guitar, at the mic singing, on stage performing, a blur of energy and long hair.

SAM

…Excuse me, Mrs. Delany. Did you decide if you want lunch?

(Kiki shakes her head no)

Take your time, I’ll ask again soon. …Uh, you know Anna said…she said that it is okay to bring this up, so I just…. I really want you to know that I love your work. All of it, but especially the shots of the Alabama church that was bombed. Really, cool –

(Cringes, embarrassed)

I mean, powerful. I like black and white. I really, uh, like it. Them.

(Kiki’s looking at the floor. Pause)

Anna told me that you, um, appreciate it when, uh, people mention your husband and his songs? He – his music was a big influence on me. I write songs – just for me, just because – definitely not anything close to what he…. It’s not like a career for me or anything. Just expressing…. Anyway, .Paul – Mr. Delaney, excuse me – was a big, big, uh influence on me, my whole, um…

(Stops)

I’m sorry. I’m not much of a small-talk person, so I’ll just…stop.

(Kiki sits at the window, knees against the wall. She pulls a TV remote from her pocket and aims it over her shoulder towards the TV: home shopping channel. After a long beat)

KIKI

…You don’t have to talk to me. Unless you want to. I don’t require that you like me enough to talk to me.

SAM

Oh, okay. /If  you’d rather I not –

KIKI

(overlapping)

No, I mean, don’t feel obligated to small talk.

SAM

Okay. Thanks. I won’t.

(He continues with making the bed, in silence)

KIKI

Do you smoke?

SAM

No, ma’am.

KIKI

Please not “ma’am,” not ever again. Please. Although I’m not holding a gun on you, so you’re free to do as what pleases you most. You can call me Kiki. I’d rather that were the case.  You sure you don’t smoke?

SAM

No – Yes, I’m sure. No, I don’t smoke.

(Long beat)

KIKI

So, Sam. What do you think of the Dallas this year?

SAM

The Dallas?

KIKI

I meant the Cowboys.

SAM

The Cowboys. I’m not much for football. Sorry.

KIKI

Baseball, then. I bet we have a baseball team.

(he nods, shrugs)

Basketball. Soccer

SAM

Sorry. Not a sports guy. I do know my around a Hacky-Sack.

(Kiki laughs. Sam goes back to making the bed. Pause)

KIKI

I’m okay with 350-count sheets. Paul refused to consider anything under 500. Thread count. The sheets. Paul spent more on sheets than he did on clothes. He went to Italy to buy sheets. To Egypt. Thailand. There’s a whole room in this house, just to store the sheets, all left unopened. Paul went for sheets like some men go for cars, or cigars. Do you smoke, Sam?

(he shakes his head)

A year ago, I had Anna bring me the sheets, the ones that were unopened. We started using one set a day. Of the sheets that he’d bought. It’s a year later, and Anna says, we’re less than halfway through his collection.

SAM

Wow.

KIKI

We donate them. We don’t burn them or anything stupid. I’m crazy, not wasteful.

SAM

Good.

KIKI

I would let you take a package of sheets home with you, but that would disrupt my experiment.

SAM

Experiment.

KIKI

Secret. Tick-a-lock. Toss the key.

SAM

Okay then.

KIKI

Thank you for not asking for details. …He was very handsome, yes he was.

SAM

The pictures, these ones you took. The way he’s looking at the camera. Man.

(Kiki drops to her knees, looks under the bed)

KIKI

Puss, Puss, Puss, Puss, Puss. Here Puss, here Puss-Puss. …She’s not liable to come out while you’re here, but who knows?

SAM

Maybe if I bring up a treat or something with your tray.

KIKI

Don’t do that. She’s a snobby little bitch.  Paul. Paul was so interesting, full of contradictions.

(Bending down, looking under bed. To cat)

Luz. Luz. Ki-ki-ki-ki! Come on, Luz. Luuuuz…. Luz! Don’t be rude! Come meet Sam. …Come on you stupid bitch! Come out! I hate this fucking cat!

(Kiki moves off as Sam comes around the bed. She is very careful not to get too close to him, or any of the trash cans. She puts on a pair of white gloves and opens the window shade)

KIKI

Paul bought those sheets in Thailand. Ordered them, and had them flown in because he was afraid they’d get damaged in the mail.

SAM

They’re very nice. Pretty.

KIKI

He thought so. You remind me of him.

SAM

I wish! I mean- not –

KIKI

I get what you mean. I wish I was like him, too. Paul understood humans, and women, implicitly. I don’t. I don’t get females. Other than Anna, I’ve never met a woman, ever, that I trusted, or even liked. I don’t get women. Anna’s my sister, so I get her. Did you say you smoke?

SAM

No, Kiki, sorry.

KIKI

I’m good for that. Paul never smoked. He never did drugs, or smoked anything, ever.

SAM

Is that right?

KIKI

No, I’m lying. He was on everything. He overdosed.

SAM

Yeah.

KIKI

A Belushi high-ball. He was trying to leave the hotel, they think. He was wearing his Jim Morrison pants, and no shirt. The maid who found him in the elevator said his last words were “Oh, fuck.” She was repulsive. He detested ugly women. The girl who died later, the girl he was in bed with, the one that her father pulled the plug on? She was gorgeous, right? She was his herbalist, total vegan. Her father said she never did drugs. He said Paul did it to her, injected her. Did her, and then himself, and then she died and he tried to leave the hotel, but he died looking up into the face of a repulsively ugly woman. I know you loved him like I did, Sam. You must have. Your face, it’s so, so sad right now.

SAM

May I speak bluntly, Kiki?

KIKI

As long as it’s not about anything about smoking-related illness, infertility, natural medicines, mental illness cures, or any arguments supporting “Withering Heights” as a great novel when it’s nothing but long, boring, and peopled with shallow, cruel, unredeemable characters, I’m good.

SAM

I don’t get how Mr. Delaney –

KIKI

Paul.

SAM

Paul. I don’t see how he could have ever…

KIKI

Cheated on me.

SAM

Yes. I am not coming on to you, okay, but you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. And there’s no way I’d be….

KIKI

He fucked other women, but he wrote me a song a day. Did you know that? He wrote me a song every day.

SAM

I’d read something about that, but I didn’t really believe it.

KIKI

It’s true. A song a day for seven years. Some he wrote down, most of them no, just for me. If he was on the road, he’d call and sing it to me. And he had quite a large penis for his build, it was large.

SAM

Oh. Huh.

KIKI

Pulling your leg there, Sam. He was proportional.

SAM
Well.  …Bed’s made.

(Kiki climbs into it. Lies down. Hugs a pillow and closes her eyes. Beat)

KIKI

Good night, Sam.

SAM

It’s ten a.m.

KIKI

Good morning, then. Good morning, Sam.

SAM

Good morning, Kiki.

KIKI

Is it true you were in the war in Iraq?

SAM
Yes.

KIKI

That’s horrible. I’m sorry.

SAM

Thank you.

KIKI

Turn out the light when you leave – and please don’t let the cat out. Don’t let her out, okay?

SAM

No way she gets past me.

KIKI

Thank you. …Sam?

SAM

Yes?

KIKI

Egg whites, scrambled with turkey, torn up, not chopped. And a cup of my cereal.

SAM

Okay. I’ll leave you to your nap.

(He starts to leave)

KIKI

Thank you for coming to my emotional rescue.

SAM
(laughs)

You bet. Hope you rest, Mrs – I mean, Kiki.

KIKI

Call me Katherine. Kiki is a child’s name. A baby’s name.

SAM

All right, Katherine. I’ll wait til I hear the chime.

KIKI

Perfect.

(Sam exits, closes the door quietly. Kiki laughs. She pulls the pillow over her own face and laughs. The cat cries and cries and cries)

LIGHTS OUT

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About Vicki Caroline Cheatwood

Writerly. Rebooting. Evolving. Searching for great chicken salad.
This entry was posted in Pimp My Lent 2012, Plays and Playwriting. Bookmark the permalink.

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