by Bruce Kinky
My fourth full length play, the third produced. Essentially a working rough draft.
|Kiss This (Scene 7-10)
A play by Brandon A Anderson
Characters and Scene:
Maynard J. Smith
Time: Early Spring
Place: A cabin in the woods
A note about the rain: The rain is a very heavy-handed symbol used luxuriously by Hemingway in his writings. I encourage the director and designers to use and treat the rain almost as a character. It can leak through the set, the ceiling, clack against the window, flow through eroded pathways in the rotting wood floor, etc. This also gives the actors another interesting character against which to play. Drips on hair, saving books from the rain-rot, etc., have fun with it. Make it as heavy handed as Hemingway does.
Some lines are followed by * to indicate where I have either copied or mutilated portions of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. These are from the 1969 Scribner’s and Sons edition.
(Same as scene two, Hemingway poster, Victor at the typewriter. He does not type, not once throughout the course of the play. He stares at the typewriter, then at the stack of papers, no package, then back to the typewriter. A knock, Isabel sweeps in.)
Victor: I was hoping to see you again. Hell, I could look at you all… day… long.
Isabel: He’s out there.
Isabel: Maynard! Maynard.
Isabel: He can’t see me here. He’ll know that I asked you to kill him.
Victor: Oh yeah, I have to surprise him. He adores me. Who better to kill you than the person you worship?
Isabel: Did Guy say that?
Victor: No, I was just being--.
Isabel: You really ought to quit that, it doesn’t suit you. You have quite a penchant for the dramatic, roll with it.
Victor: 10-4 Boss Hog, this is Mother Hen, out.
Victor: C’mon, that was clever, you know “roll with it”, trucker lingo.
Isabel: I get it. It just isn’t funny.
Victor: How many babies does it take to shingle a roof?
Isabel: They’re not waterproof.
Victor: They’re not… nooo, it depends on how thinly you slice them.
Isabel: Strike three. Listen, I figure we have about ten minutes before he gets here. He’s about a mile off.
Victor: Where’s Guy?
Isabel: He’s on another case now, had a movie audition, he agreed to come talk to you as character study. The director is one of my clients’ husbands. He’s been sleeping with the extras.
Victor: What is so strange about that?
Isabel: It is the story of a shepherd who saves his flock from a falling comet that is going to crash into his field. Lots of human interest, no humans. Guy doesn’t know it yet, but I have blackmailed the director so that he has to give Guy a part.
Victor: You mean—
Isabel: Yes, the sheep. I get kind of sick talking about it. Could we move on?
Victor: I was just wondering if I would see Guy again.
Isabel: Probably not. Anyway, forget about it. I just needed him to threaten you.
Isabel: Because I’m not as scary. He also has a past involving infomercials so I figured that he could sell you on the whole idea. I’m kind of awkward that way.
Victor: What way?
Isabel: Making people want something that they really don’t. Anyway, his job is done, now it’s my turn.
Victor: Oh yeah, the “details.” Look, I, uh… I shot your brother.
Isabel: I know. That’s okay.
Victor: So I was thinking that I might—
Isabel: Have the nuts to shoot Maynard.
Victor: Maybe… if you just tell me the details then—
Isabel: In a little bit, but first, I have to tell you something.
Isabel: I love you. I’m in love with you.
Victor: Ha, that’s good.
Isabel: I’ve read all of your books, and two of your plays. You should stick to books.
Victor: I’m not sure how to take that.
Isabel: I’ve fallen in love with you through your writing. It speaks to me. I know this sounds weird but—
Victor: No, no, go on.
Isabel: I’ve been, hmmm, I’ve been… broken. In medias res. The beginning is missing. I feel so displaced, like someone had modeled me after someone but forgot to tell me my past. But when I read your first book, “Lobotomy of a Liar”, your words, they filled the hole, they gave me expressions for the ideas, the passions, the missing parts. You said, in the book, “A force stronger than life will run. A decision made in desperation. A divination of the inner spirit, dragged out of the conscience and into the stale air of our love. Your lover will create you and you will kill yourself to make room for his creation—“
Victor: Do you really love me?
Isabel: As much as I know what love is.
Victor: Ahhhh. Well, prove it.
Victor: We have how much time before Maynard arrives?
Isabel: Eight minutes.
Victor: Eight minutes?
Isabel: I see where this is going.
Isabel: Mount up, cowboy. If I have to fill you in on the details, we only have six.
Victor: Six is enough.
Isabel: I prefer at least nine, but what’s in a number?
(VICTOR and ISABEL float into the “bedroom” undressing as they go. Silence, empty stage. Lights down. No rain. Voices in the dark but not from the “bedroom”.)
Victor: Something wrong, rabbit?
Isabel: I hate it when you call me that, it’s so—
Victor: Demeaning? Chauvanistic? A symptom of the degradation of women throughout history? Give me a fucking break.
Isabel: I was going to say “disrespectful.”
Victor: Come to bed, huh?
Isabel: How’s your new book?
Isabel: No. how is it? Do I make a good subject? Or am I just filler?
Victor: I’m just in a rut.
Isabel: You haven’t done any work. I’ve watched for the last couple of months, all you do is drink and use me like a toy.
Victor: I thought that was the agreement.
Isabel: How dare—
Victor: I’m not going to marry you, we’ve spoken about this.
Isabel: This isn’t an affair anymore. We’ve been living together almost two months. I’ve dropped off the divorce papers. Don’t play this like I’m some bimbo starstruck by your fame.
Victor: You were when I met you… not a bimbo… I mean that you were starstru—
Isabel: Fuck you. This isn’t life. I am a person, I have a soul, I need something other than simple company.
Victor: You had all that chivalric sophistry with your husband. He sent you roses, he massaged your feet, he loved you. I don’t care about all that and you know it. There are hundreds of girls willing to take your place. If you want fairytales, why did you leave him? Quit kidding yourself, take off your clothes, and come to bed.
Victor: Why not?
Isabel: I don’t want to.
Victor: Then why are you here?
Isabel: I don’t—
Victor: WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU STANDING IN MY HOUSE?! Why are you even here?
Isabel: I’m here because—
Victor: Because Maynard isn’t a man, because he was too ordinary to turn you on, because, my dear Isabel, because you don’t want to be loved… that is why you are here.
Isabel: You’re wrong.
Victor: Now you’re making moral judgements.
Isabel: I didn’t. (pause.)
Victor: Didn’t what?
Isabel: I didn’t want to be loved.
Victor: And now you do?
Isabel: And now I do.
(Silence. A door slams, but not in the cabin.)
( MAYNARD busts through the door. He carries some more typewriter ribbon and paper refills for the stage left stack.)
Maynard: Hey! You home? Victor? Hey, if you’re in there I brought some more paper and some ribbon… where did the package go? Victor? Where’s the package? I really think that it is Isabel and that maybe you thought it was yours but it probably fell out of my pocket when I was here. I checked for more Isabels in town but they aren’t any. I got a beta, but it froze last night in my pocket when I was walking here. I’m just going to look around for it.
Victor: (Bursting out of the bedroom.) Maynard! Good to see you. You know, I did mistake that package for my own… it’s right here under this pile of books. Hold on, let me grab it. (Victor pulls a gun out of the closest pile of books and points it at Maynard.) I’m sorry Maynard.
Maynard: What’s this? Writing at gunpoint? I’ve heard of this… some of those schools in California, you know, with the gangsters, I heard that the teachers come strapped and when they can’t inspire the class, they whip out the nine, you know, because gangsters are hard and they don’t understand nothing else. That’s what you’re doing, huh? Maybe that’s what I need, you know, some good old fashioned—
Victor: Shut up. I have your fish. Fortune, would you come out here please? (Isabel appears at the door.) Come on out here, dear, and join us. Maynard, I think you two know each other.
Isabel: Maynard. Hello.
Victor: What do you value most?*
Maynard: Someone I love.*
Victor: Well, this is what you really wanted. I’ll kill you, you’ll go to a place where there may be someone who will love you. I’ll go and make love to my new girlfriend here and we’ll all be happy. Only one thing I have to ask, Maynard.
Victor: What’s up with the cats? Huh? Did you have to kill all of those cats?
Maynard: They ate my—
Victor: Right, the fish.
Maynard: Why did you keep my package?
Victor: Face it, Maynard, it was kind of pathetic of you to carry around that fish for so long, when you accidentally dropped it I seized my opportunity. I can’t teach writing to a freak. I’m sorry, Maynard. I had hoped that it would help you along but you just went out to find another one. When will you learn that you will never get her? Love does not just happen to people like you, Maynard, people like you are destined for the smut shops, the corner sluts, the gutter skanks. You ate a woman’s goldfish, sent it to her then went and got your own and named it after her. That isn’t normal. Maynard, people who carry around dead fish in their pockets and kill twenty or more cats and wear them as a coat are not worth love… you don’t have anything for it to take away. You can’t make a broke man more broke. There is that point of finality, of nothing left. When you came to me, I saw that. I guess I pitied you.
Victor: And really, now that I have the love of this beautiful woman, I don’t care what happens to you. (Shoots Maynard.)
Maynard: You fucking shot me!
Victor: Yes, but isn’t that what you wanted? Isn’t that what you hired Guy and Isabel for? Isn’t that why you “accidentally” ran into me at the pawn shop? You’ve been reading me for years and you wanted to die by the hand of your god, your king. (By now, Maynard’s breathing has become softer and softer until he is still. To Isabel) Darling, I think we should commence making little Victors. Game?
Isabel: Gimme that hump-muscle, stud.
(Lights down slowly as VICTOR and ISABEL drop to the floor and begin undressing eachother. The position that MAYNARD lands in when he dies should be so that his glazed dead eyes rest on the pre-coital couple. Lights out. Long Pause. The sound of a typewriter can be heard.)
(The sound of rain and the typewriter. Lights up revealing MAYNARD typing. The poster is back to the goldfish, the stage left stack of paper is now only five or six sheets deep, and the stage right stack is much taller. Rain fades out as scene begins. A knock is heard.)
Maynard: Go away! I don’t want any! (knock) I’m busy here, go away! (knock, knock) I’m gay and Hispanic and I’ve been to jail! (knock, knock, knock) Kinky. (The door opens, ISABEL comes in.)
Maynard: How did you find me?
Isabel: How are you?
Maynard: How do you think I am?
Isabel: I know that this—
Maynard: HOW DID YOU FIND ME!
Isabel: The county librarian told me that the magnetic strips in books also act as tracers so certain agencies can flag books and trace their migration. Blockbuster Video does that with their movies too. Any government agency can access--
Maynard: “the signal and pinpoint the location to within a square mile. I did a little undercover work. I knew that I would just have to track the Hemingways and here you are. I sent you a little package… actually it was the divorce papers but I wrapped them in brown paper and string so that you would open them. I knew that if I sent them in a regular envelope from my house that you wouldn’t even pick them up from the post office.”
Maynard: Are you kidding me? That is actually what happened? I just made that up.
Isabel: That’s pretty close.
Maynard: That sounds so… scripted. God, my life is a play.
Isabel: Your life is a play?
Maynard: More than you know.
Isabel: Then change it.
Maynard: I’m through with this. Go on. You create your own reality… leave mine to me.
Isabel: I can’t, I’m already here.
Maynard: Why the fuck are you standing in my cabin?
Isabel: I need you to—
Maynard: Fuck that, I needed you to not leave me for that fuckmonkey writer. You did anyway. I hope he’s good. Real good. You want to tell me how good it is with the writer… go ahead.
Isabel: His writing is horrible. He thinks he is Hemingway.
Maynard: Tell me, tell me how good it is to be with someone… outstanding.
Isabel: It is hell, Maynard. It’s not real. It was a diversion, from the responsibility of living.
Maynard: I don’t want to hear your sob story about how you thought he was Penboy, Man of the Splendid Dick, but he just didn’t add up… I died. I died when you left me and I promised that I would never come back to this world. I would find my own world, maybe even create one, so long as I don’t have to die anymore for anyone.
Isabel: I love you. I’m in love with you, Maynard. I can’t help it. I’ve left him, I know that you can’t forgive me but could you please just maybe… I don’t know… consider—
Isabel: Us… I mean again, you and I… I know I fucked up, I know but if you don’t let me come back I… sorry… I think about you, I want to be a good wife… you know we never signed the papers, we’re still legal.
Maynard: That’s a fairly logistical statement this far into the game.
Isabel: We’re still married. I’m still your wife.
Maynard: Don’t play these games with—
Isabel: And whether you want me or not, I’m yours, if you kick me out… you can punch me in the face and spit at me, but I am going to be your wife…
Maynard: You stopped being my wife when you left me. The papers are merely validation.
Isabel: I’m still your wife.
Maynard: Not anymore.
Isabel: Please, I want to—
Maynard: YOU”RE NOT MY FUCKING WIFE!!! My wife wouldn’t leave me. My wife wouldn’t fuck around with another man, and my wife wouldn’t keep trying to drag me further and further down. How deep do you want me buried?
Isabel: I WILL BE YOUR WIFE! With you or without you. I owe you that much.
Isabel: You think this is easy? You think that I can just track you down and nonchalantly walk in here and see you. I was stupid… I just wanted to feel like I was important… I wanted to be someone’s muse, not just someone’s wife. I was wrong. I’m miserable without you—
Maynard: I don’t have to listen to this. Get out.
Isabel: Every time he touched me I thought of you.
Maynard: Get out.
Isabel: Every time he said my name at night—
Maynard: GET OUT!!! (Long pause.) please… just let me be, I can’t take anymore pain.
Isabel: I’m sorry, but I’m not leaving. Not until you take me back.
Maynard: How? How, Isabel, how am I supposed to just take you back? How when every time I look at you I see him, how do I love you then? How do I kiss you without knowing that he did the same and that you wanted it.
Isabel: I didn’t want it.
Maynard: DON’T LIE TO ME!
Isabel: I DIDN’T want it. I just thought I did. We never do what we want to. We never do such things.*
Maynard: I can’t go through that again. Just leave me to my play and my world here. God knows I had not wanted to fall in love with you. I had not wanted to fall in love with anyone.* Can’t you see? You’re not a part of it anymore. I finally have escaped all the lies and my heart belongs to me. I don’t owe anyone anything.
Isabel: Please, Maynard.
Maynard: No, I am finally in control. This heart is mine. This head is mine, but not to use, not to think with, only to remember and not to remember too much.*
Isabel: Remember us, remember—
Maynard: No, just… just get out of here.
Isabel: Without pain, you can’t know pleasure. Without loneliness, you can’t know love. I know love. Not from him, but from you. I’ll do whatever you need just don’t make me leave.
Maynard: I can’t--
Isabel: I’m sorry. I’m sorry I took your heart and I’m sorry I killed you. I look at you and I am sorry for the man that I turned you into. Goodbye, Maynard.
Maynard: Izzy… (He kisses her, hard, dizzyingly they come back to earth. Long pause.)
Isabel: (Notices the stage right stack of paper.) What is that?
Maynard: A play.
Isabel: A play?
Maynard: Yeah. An actual play. I don’t even go to the theatre.
Isabel: Is it good?
Maynard: It’s not finished.
Isabel: It’s not?
Isabel: That poster is a little disturbing.
Maynard: It came with the cabin.
Isabel: Can I read it?
Maynard: When it’s finished.
Isabel: I love you.
Maynard: I know.
Isabel: Maynard… I love you.
Maynard: Izzy, I can’t even begin to tell you…(MAYNARD sits down at the typewriter and starts typing. ISABEL picks up the divorce papers from the top of the stage left stack. After a brief moment, she rips them into pieces. Lights fade as she lovingly watches him type. In the darkness we hear the rain decreasing in intensity and the typewriter. Then, silence.)
(Lights up to reveal MAYNARD recently shot. VICTOR is holding the gun, ISABEL beside him.)
Victor: Darling, I think we should commence making little Victors. Game?
Isabel: (Reaching into a nearby book, she opens the cover and pulls a gun from it. She points it at VICTOR.) I don’t think so. Maynard? Honey? You alright?
Maynard: (Coughing, he gets off the floor, coming to life.) I thought you said that was the slowest velocity bullet on the market. Goddamn. I think I’m gonna ralph. You promised, Isabel.
Isabel: Did it go through?
Maynard: No, Kevlar, the miracle worker.
Victor: Isabel, I thought your name was--
Isabel: Victor, drop the gun. Good. Now, I am going to hand Maynard this gun, see, and he is going to put a bullet between your eyes because you are a terrible writer, you outsell Maynard by millions. As a person you are utterly despicable and without a redeeming quality except for the beauty of your words. It’s empty beauty, though, when it only expresses your lack of faith in humanity and most importantly, in love. (She hands the gun to MAYNARD.)
Victor: But I thought that you—
Maynard: A ploy, Victor, a ploy. I’ve been gunning for you since that sleazy crapshack of a novel “Kiss This” made the top charts.
Victor: The package, man, you killed a fucking fish. How do you answer for that?!
Maynard: Unfortunate casualty. But what is the sacrifice of one goldfish to the service of love? Isabel and I are married. She is my agent. We are bankrupt. You work is generally suited for less than a shitter ticket and yet you make more than our entire book club.
Victor: So the story… the cats and the sending the goldfish to that girl.
Maynard: Horseshit. Ha.
(GUY MACCHIO-GARCIA reels into the cabin, minus an arm, plus a stump or specially tailored shirt fitted for people with only one arm. He is glowing, virgin-mary style, and he speaks with intense importance and good humor.)
Guy: VICTOR!!! VICTOR!!! I worship you! You ever need anything you tell me! I’m in a movie! I’M IN A MOVIE!!!
Isabel: Did you go and visit the director that I told you to?
Isabel: So you don’t know about the—
Victor and Maynard: Sheep?
Isabel: I got him a part in a movie about—
Victor: Sheep, oh right, with the comet.
Isabel: Yes. So, where did you go?
Guy: My lord, my god, my furry little friend, Victor, shot me in the arm!
Victor: Yeah, sorry about that.
Guy: I know a good doctor in LA, he does arms and legs and stuff, drove an ambulance in WWI France, he knows how to deal with bone.
Isabel: That is horrible.
Guy: So I got him to saw off my left arm, the one Victor shot, on the forms he claimed it as needing amputation due to infection, I marched on into Universal studios, stump held high in salute and they gave me a job on the spot! Ha! HaHa!
Maynard: Congratulations, Guy.
Victor: Yeah man that’s real cool.
Isabel: I’m actually proud of you.
(They all share an moment of sheer shock-induced reverence for GUY’s accomplishment. Long pause. When it becomes painful… CHAUFFER enters.)
Guy: Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Mr. Chauffer, my friends. My friends, Mr. Chauffer.
Chauffer: We must away. Much respect for your friends, but the studio awaits. Costuming for a one-armed leading man is treated with much respect. It is a holy time for the studio execs. Please, Mr. Macchio-Garcia, we must leave.
Guy: Right. Well, adieu, and with these tears, I will away towards paths unknown. Thank you. (Bows, exits with CHAUFFER.)
Isabel: Honey, let’s get this done.
Victor: Wait, one other thing… why this huge charade, why the big production with the Hollywood actor clown, the feigned affection, the writing mentor thing?
Maynard: I needed to make sure that you didn’t complete another play. My first is coming out in February and if you would have finished this one, we would have been competing… face it, I can’t satisfy the base doubts of the masses like you can. It must be a gift. You can thank God for it in a second.
Victor: The coat… that coat is made of cats… so a cat really did eat your goldfish? Is that why you killed them?
Maynard: I don’t know. There isn’t always an explanation for everything.* One more thing, I never had a goldfish. (With this, he shoots VICTOR.)
Isabel: He looks so… I don’t know… bored. Maybe we should entertain him.
Maynard: Baby, I’m gonna abuse you. (The sound of a typewriter fades up as the lights fade slowly but not out. The couple drops to the ground in carnal embrace. VICTOR falls in such a position that his eyes, as the life drains out of them, are fixed on the couple. To VICTOR) Kiss this, bitch. (Lights out. Typewriter and rain. The rain dies out completely leaving only the slowing typewriter as the author reaches the final words.)