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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1760226
by Croc
Rated: 13+ · Script/Play · Drama · #1760226
A dinner guest proves to be not what was expected.
BOOTS


A Comedy in One Act


(Lights come up on a boy and his parents tidying up their living room in preparation for a dinner guest. Nearby, the dining room table is set for five. There is a kitchenette with an oven that is being used to prepare dinner. The mother, father, and son each have their own separate hand-dusters. They have never met the guest before.)

ROPER


Boy, I certainly hope she’s picked a good one this time. Last couple boys she’s brought over have been a real headache.

STARLA


Now, Roper, I’m sure he’ll be a fine boy. You just forget about the others and try to be nice. It will make Clarice so happy.

ROPER


You said that last time.

STARLA


Roper, your sister is going through a stage where she is trying to find out what qualities in a man that she likes the most. It’s a trial and error process. She has to try out all sorts of boys before she can decide what she really wants. I’m sure that’s how it will be for you too when you’re looking for a nice girl.

ROPER


I already know what I want in a girl—great legs!

STARLA


Oh dear… (Turning to her husband.) Butch, darling, could you dust a bit faster? I’m sure Clarice and Boots will be here any minute!

BUTCH


(Stops dusting.) Boots?

ROPER


Boots?

STARLA


Yes. Clarice’s new boyfriend’s name is Calvin Boots, Jr. But Clarice told me everyone calls him Boots. It’s a cute name, I think.

BUTCH


Cute? We’ve never even met this guy before. For all we know, Boots could be the name of a male prostitute.

STARLA


Oh knock it off. I’m sure Boots is a swell boy. A fine boy.

BUTCH


(Continues to dust.) Hey, Starla, how come Clarice had to go pick him up? How come he couldn’t bring himself?

STARLA


Clarice said he doesn’t drive.

BUTCH


See, that’s how they lure you in. This Boots guy could have set a trap for her. He may have hijacked her car when she pulled up to his driveway. He could be whisking her off to Detroit right now for all we know.

STARLA


Don’t be silly. I think I recall Clarice saying that Boots was a little bit younger than her. Boots may not have his license yet, that’s all.

BUTCH


How young is he?

(The doorbell rings.)

STARLA


They’re here! (She throws aside her duster and scampers to the front door and opens it.) Hello!

CLARICE


Hello, Mother!

(She walks in. Following closely behind is BOOTS. He is a young child dressed in suspenders and a bowtie. There is a visible height and age difference between BOOTS and CLARICE.)

STARLA


(Very surprised.) You must be Boots.

BOOTS


(Offering his hand.) Yes, ma’am. Pleased to meet you. (They shake hands.)

(BUTCH and ROPER, still dusting, have yet to notice BOOTS, and thus haven’t moved to the doorway yet.)

STARLA


Come greet our guest, you two.

(They stop dusting and turn to face BOOTS. Both drop their dusters upon seeing him.)

ROPER


Holy—

BUTCH


He’s a—

(STARLA gives them a mean look and beckons them over with her hand, and the two slowly move towards BOOTS to greet him.)

BUTCH


(Somewhat dazed.) I’m Clarice’s dad.

BOOTS


(Reaching out and shaking BUTCH’s limp hand.) Good evening, sir.

BUTCH


Evening. (He wanders away slowly, puzzled.)

ROPER


I’m Roper, Clarice’s brother.

BOOTS


(Offers his hand.) Nice to meet you, Roper. (They shake hands.)

ROPER


Likewise.

(A brief silence.)

STARLA


Well come have a seat here in the living room, Boots.

(CLARICE takes BOOTS over to the couch and they sit together. ROPER sits in an armchair. STARLA finds another empty chair. There is one empty chair left, a recliner. BUTCH is still standing around.)

STARLA


Butch, sit down. (He slowly walks over and eases himself into the recliner.) Boots, can I offer you anything to drink?

BOOTS


Milk please.

STARLA


…Of course. (She starts to go fetch it.)

BOOTS


Do you have any bendy straws?

STARLA


(Stops.) We sure do. I’ll put one in for you. (Starts to go again.)

BOOTS


Are they the kind with the colored stripes on ‘em?

STARLA


(Stops again.) They are.

BOOTS


Could I have a green one?

STARLA


You most certainly can. (Goes.)

BOOTS


Thanks!

(In the living room, ROPER and BUTCH sit uneasily as CLARICE drapes her arm around BOOTS’s shoulder. BOOTS doesn’t seem to notice.)

ROPER


(Awkwardly.) Green—good choice. I’m partial to chartreuse myself. They don’t have any chartreuse bendy straws I don’t think. But if they did—look out. I’d be using those suckers all the time.

(No one is listening. STARLA returns with the milk, equipped with the green-striped bendy straw, and hands it to BOOTS. She notices CLARICE’s arm around his shoulder and freezes momentarily before sitting back down.)

STARLA


So, Boots, Clarice has told us so little about you. What do you do? You know, for fun.

BOOTS


I collect racecars. The little ones. (He takes a sip of milk.)

CLARICE


It’s quite the collection, Mother. Boots has more Hot Wheels than any boy in town, I wager.

STARLA


(Unsure of what else to say.) Really? That is… something.

BUTCH


(Becoming engaged.) What grade are you in, Boots?

BOOTS


(Now sporting a milk mustache.) Fifth grade. Mrs. Wilburton’s class at Grover Cleveland Elementary.

BUTCH


Ah, Mrs. Wilburton’s class. Then how did you meet Clarice?

BOOTS


We met on the playground at the park. I was on the monkey bars. She was walking a dog on the sidewalk nearby. I got off to go pet the dog.

STARLA


(To CLARICE.) What dog?

CLARICE


It was a friend’s sheltie. I was walking it for her.

ROPER


I thought a dog was just a guy’s tool to pick up women. I never knew girls used them too.

CLARICE


(Waving him off.) That was not the intention. It was just a coincidence, a chance encounter. Or perhaps—fate. There he was, hanging from those monkey bars with such strong little arms, his body outlined with sunlight. Then he looked over in my direction and he flashed that boyish smile of his. He hopped off and came running over. I still remember the first thing he said to me: “This dog’s real soft. My name’s Boots. What’s yours?” That’s when I fell for him.

ROPER


That must’ve been some dog.

BOOTS


It was real soft.

ROPER


So I’ve heard.

CLARICE


Doesn’t Boots look dapper this evening, Mother? (She rubs his back.) He’s quite handsome.

STARLA


Yes, Boots, you look very… dapper.

BOOTS


The pants are itchy.

CLARICE


Oh! That reminds me, I promised Bootsie we would shove my dirty laundry down the chute while he was here. He just loves that. So if you’ll excuse us, that’s where we’ll be. Call us for dinner. Come on, Bootsie!

BOOTS


(Leaping up.) Oh boy!

(They exit.)

BUTCH


Well. This is bizarre.

STARLA


Our seventeen-year-old daughter running around with—

BUTCH


A ten-year-old child!

ROPER


I think it’s funny. Just wait till I tell my friends.

STARLA


I never would have expected it. He does seem like a nice boy though. Polite. Well-dressed.

BUTCH


(Standing up.) But why would Clarice want to get involved with a fifth grader?

ROPER


Maybe Clarice has gone through all the guys at the high school. Now she has to resort to different age groups.

BUTCH


At least she hasn’t opted for college guys yet.

ROPER


Well you see, I’ve thought about that myself. I think having a college guy around could pay dividends. He could be my wingman. It would be great!

STARLA


Now you’re just making her sound like a whore.

ROPER


(Excitedly.) C’mon! He’d be like the big brother I never had! (With diminishing enthusiasm.) A big brother who… fondles my sister.

BUTCH


There is something good about Boots’s age. He isn’t really old enough to be a bad influence on Clarice. He won’t take her to any raucous parties. She won’t be out late with him because he probably goes to bed at nine o’ clock or something.

ROPER


Maybe she’s trying to feel younger.

BUTCH


What?

ROPER


Yeah. She could be growing nostalgic for the good old days, and Boots is a reminder of those easier times.

BUTCH


(Pacing.) No, that can’t be it. Clarice has developed quite nicely. I see her looking in the mirror at herself all the time. I think she likes the way she looks. I don’t think she’s nostalgic for the times when she was flat chested.

ROPER


(Smirking.) No one is.

STARLA


(Standing.) Do you think Clarice is perhaps indulging Boots? Maybe letting him be king for a day? Just playing along for his sake?

BUTCH


Don’t you think she would have told us if she was just playing around? Remember she said that she fell for him.

STARLA


She may have just said that. She may not have really meant it. Who actually means something like that?

ROPER


Pedophiles.

STARLA


(Sighs.) Roper, your sister is not a pedophile.

BUTCH


(Panic-stricken.) How can we be so sure? Throwing dirty laundry down the chute could be what kids are calling it these days!

STARLA


My God! Just listen to yourselves, accusing your own flesh and blood of having full-blown pedophilia!

ROPER


Ha! Full-blown. Nice word choice, Mother.

BUTCH


(Alarmed.) Do you think his parents even know he’s here?

STARLA


I’m sure they do. They have to.

BUTCH


Unless… she kidnapped him. I think I should give them a call. (He walks over to a small table in the living room. Atop the table sits a telephone. Next to the telephone sits the phonebook. He opens up the phonebook and starts flipping through the pages.) Should be easy to find. Calvin Boots Senior. Can’t be too many of those around. (He stops on a certain page and surveys it closely. He grabs the receiver and starts to dial the number. He waits.) Hello? Mr. Boots? …This is Clarice’s father, Butch. Clarice came and picked up your son earlier this evening… You remember… She came to the door and introduced herself… She seemed like a nice girl… Can I ask you something, Mr. Boots? … Did it bother you that a seventeen-year-old girl came and picked up your son, your child, your little boy to have dinner with people you’ve never even met? …No? …Really? …She seemed like a nice girl… She didn’t seem too old? … No… Well I just wanted to make sure… Okay you have a nice evening… Alright… Goodbye. (He hangs up.) Well it’s fine with him.

STARLA


Oh my. This is bizarre!

BUTCH


At least we know he wasn’t kidnapped.

ROPER


Hey, Ma, since Boots’s parents are letting him see older girls, I think it’s only fair that I can start seeing women who are in their early twenties.

STARLA


(Ignoring him and stepping closer to BUTCH.) Butch, don’t you have enough faith in our parenting skills to feel, to know in your heart that our daughter wouldn’t do something as heinous as having sex with a little boy? Don’t you think we’ve done enough for our children to keep them on the straight and narrow? (Gesturing at ROPER.) Don’t you think this one turned out all right?

BUTCH


I suppose.

ROPER


Gee thanks, Dad.

STARLA


Then let’s just drop this crazy talk. I have to go put dinner on the table. It must be ready by now.

(STARLA goes to the kitchenette and starts setting the dining room table.)

ROPER


(Turning to his father.) This could be like a new trend. A new social norm!

BUTCH


Let’s not jump to conclusions.

ROPER


Boots could be a kind of pioneer. Who needs awkward pubescent girls? Let’s just skip right to the good stuff!

BUTCH


Please—

ROPER


Sexual liberation! No limits! A free-for-all! A brand new movement could be beginning tonight in our very own household!

BUTCH


Oh God! I hope not! (He stops STARLA amidst her table setting.) Starla, we have to ask her what exactly she’s doing with this whippersnapper—what she’s possibly doing to him.

STARLA


Butch, I told you I’m not discussing—

BUTCH


I know it sounds awful, just awful! I shudder at the thought, I really do.

ROPER


Me too!

BUTCH


But I must know the truth.

STARLA


Then you can ask her. I won’t be charged with launching such a vile inquisition upon my daughter. (She returns to her table setting.)

BUTCH


Fine! Go cower in a corner and assume the best in a person—albeit a person we love dearly, but nevertheless… I may be overreacting, but even if only the mere possibility of trouble is afoot, then by God I’m going to expunge that possibility. At least one of us is scrupulous!

STARLA


Are you calling me unscrupulous?

BUTCH


Yes! And also a coward!

ROPER


Spousal dis!

STARLA


Now you listen here. I’m a good mother! I know it’s odd having this youngster here, don’t think I don’t. But I deny the notion that anything has been consummated. And for that I’m neither unscrupulous nor cowardly. God forbid I should give my own daughter the benefit of the doubt! But if you want to conduct an interrogation, I’ll play along. Just know that if something goes horribly awry, I’m blaming you. Now come sit down, you two. (BUTCH and ROPER sit down at the table. She finishes the table setting. She comes out to the living room.) Clarice! Boots! It’s time for dinner! (To BUTCH.) And please wait till the right moment. If you have to do it, do it when the child isn’t around.

BUTCH


Don’t worry. I’ll be a good host.

(CLARICE re-enters. She is giving BOOTS a piggyback ride.)

CLARICE


Okay, down we go.

(She bends down and BOOTS hops off. The two walk to the dining room table and sit down in two empty seats next to each other. STARLA sits in the last remaining empty seat.)

STARLA


Butch, will you say the blessing for us?

BUTCH


Sure. (They join hands.) Dear Lord, thank you for bringing us all together this evening. Thank you for this food. And thank you for Boots. We are just so… glad? Glad. We’re just so glad to have him with us tonight. What a pleasant surprise he has been. (He clears his throat.) We ask, on this joyous night, that you grant us the ability to keep our soul as well as our linens ever so clean. Um… Amen.

ALL


Amen.

(They start eating.)

STARLA


I hope you like catfish, Boots.

BOOTS


Catfish—King of the Jungle!

(STARLA tries to respond but hesitates and doesn’t say anything. She takes a gulp of red wine. BUTCH and ROPER share a glance. CLARICE smiles. BOOTS continues eating.)

CLARICE


You know, Mother, next time Boots comes over you should prepare his favorite dish—chicken fingers and gravy.

STARLA


Gravy?

BOOTS


Gravy!

CLARICE


Yes, it’s quite a combination. Boots has such interesting taste.

BOOTS


(To STARLA.) Do you own a gravy boat, ma’am?

STARLA


As it turns out, Boots, I have quite the gravy boat in the cupboard.

BOOTS


May I see it?

STARLA


Why… sure. I’ll go get it for you.

(She takes another sip of wine and then stands up and goes into the kitchenette. She opens a cupboard and retrieves a large gravy boat and sets it down on the dining room table.)

BOOTS


(In awe.) Whoa… (He takes hold of it and starts moving it back and forth on the table. He adds racecar sound effects.) Vroom… vroom…

CLARICE


(Reaches out and ruffles BOOTS’s hair lovingly. He is oblivious.) Boots has quite an imagination.

STARLA


So, Boots, why don’t people call you Calvin or Cal? Why Boots?

BOOTS


(Halts the gravy boat.) People just like saying Boots better than Calvin I suppose.

(He laughs. The others join in with sort of a forced laughter. Then the laughing stops and there’s a brief silence. STARLA takes another sip of wine.)

ROPER


So, Boots, does anyone in your family actually wear boots?

BOOTS


Only on occasion.

ROPER


Fascinating.

(A brief silence.)

CLARICE


Oh! I forgot to mention that Boots is in the chorus at school. He’s quite the singer.

BUTCH


What kind of songs do you sing?

BOOTS


Mainly show tunes. Want to hear one?

BUTCH


Oh you don’t have to—

CLARICE


Oh yes! Please!

BOOTS


(He stands.) OOOOOOOOOOOOOKLAHOMA WHERE THE WIND COMES SWEEPING DOWN THE PLAIN! (STARLA hastily finishes her glass of wine and then fills the glass up again with the nearby bottle.) WHERE THE WAVIN’ WHEAT, CAN SURE SMELL SWEET, WHEN THE WIND COMES RIGHT BEHIND THE RAIN! (He sits back down. A pause.) That’s all I remember.

CLARICE


He’s quite talented.

STARLA


Oh yes, Boots, that was… very nice. (She takes another sip of wine.)

BUTCH


Interesting selection.

ROPER


I’ll say.

CLARICE


We should all go to his next concert. Wouldn’t that be a scream?

BUTCH


It certainly would. A real big scream.

(There is a brief silence as they continue to eat.)

BOOTS


Excuse me; I have to use the bathroom. (He exits. ROPER, BUTCH, and STARLA suddenly turn to stare at CLARICE.)

CLARICE


(Noticing.) Why are you all looking at me like that?

BUTCH


Isn’t it obvious?

CLARICE


What ever do you mean, Father?

BUTCH


Guess who’s coming to dinner—a ten-year-old tike.

CLARICE


(Sighs.) Boots is ten and a half, Father. And he’s quite mature for his age.

BUTCH


(Mockingly.) Catfish—King of the Jungle!

STARLA


Honey, we think Boots is a very nice boy. But are you sure this is for the best?

CLARICE


Mother! I’m surprised at you. You’ve always been supportive of my previous relationships.

STARLA


Yes, but don’t you think this one’s a bit silly?

CLARICE


Mother, I feel closer to Boots than I’ve felt to any boy I’ve ever dated. He understands me. He appreciates me.

BUTCH


He’s a little boy! Imagine if Roper brought an eight-year-old girl over for dinner.

ROPER


Dad, please. Leave me out of this.

CLARICE


Then I would say, “Good for him!”

ROPER


(Disgusted.) Ugh! (He covers his face in his hands.)

STARLA


Clarice, something like this just isn’t natural!

CLARICE


Tons of couples get married with age differences similar to that between Boots and me.

STARLA


This is different. Those couples don’t get started this early on.

CLARICE


Things will level out later.

STARLA


Boots will have just started high school by the time you’ll be finishing college. This doesn’t have the foundation for anything lasting.

CLARICE


(Indignantly.) My love for Boots transcends space and time!

(The sound of flushing offstage can be heard. Everyone straightens up.)

BUTCH


(Leaning over to CLARICE, speaking softly but firmly.) If there’s anything you’re not telling us about your relationship with Boots, please enlighten us, no matter how difficult it may be to do so.

CLARICE


What do you mean?

STARLA


Is there anything you’re trying to hide? Anything… bad?

CLARICE


Bad? I don’t follow.

ROPER


(Unapologetically.) We want to know if you’re sexing Boots.

CLARICE


(Shocked.) What?! Good God! Are you all insane? Of course not! I’m not a pedophile!

STARLA


(Pointing at BUTCH.) I told you!

BUTCH


(To CLARICE.) Is that the truth?

CLARICE


(Appalled.) Of course it’s the truth, Father! Just because I bring lots of boys over for dinner doesn’t mean I’m a slut! I’ve never sexed anyone. And I would never even consider something as horrendous as sexing a little boy.

ROPER


Thank God.

BUTCH


Then why are you even seeing him? Why him?

(BOOTS re-enters. He reaches the table and sits back down.)

BOOTS


That’s a mighty fine bathroom you have.

STARLA


Why thank you, Boots.

(They go on eating. It is silent for a little while. Then BUTCH appears to have been struck with some kind of idea.)

BUTCH


So, Boots, how do you like spending time with Clarice? How would you describe your relationship?

(CLARICE throws BUTCH a suspicious glance.)

BOOTS


We have a great time together. She’s real nice. (CLARICE smiles.) She’s a lot of fun. She takes care of me. She’s like a sister to me.

(CLARICE’s smile fades. She stops eating and sets her silverware down. BUTCH, STARLA, and ROPER look at each other nervously.)

CLARICE


(Irritably.) Like a sister?

BOOTS

(Confused.) What’s wrong?

CLARICE


Is that all I am to you?

BOOTS


(Trying to think of something else nice to say.) You’re very pretty too.

CLARICE


(Turns away dramatically.) The damage has already been done.

BOOTS


I don’t understand.

CLARICE


(She stands and walks to the living room.) I thought we had something special, Boots. I certainly felt it. I thought you did too. (She slaps her hand over her heart. In a pained voice.) But I was wrong! Quite wrong!

BOOTS


(Stands and walks over to where CLARICE is standing.) What do you mean special?

CLARICE


Special—like love!

BOOTS


Love? (Contorts his face in disgust.) Ugh!

(CLARICE slaps BOOTS.)

STARLA


(Standing and moving into the living room.) Clarice! You hit that poor child! Apologize right now.

CLARICE


No!

BUTCH


(Following STARLA into the living room.) You apologize right now, young lady.

CLARICE


Make me!

BUTCH


(Angrily.) All right. Get ready. (He moves toward CLARICE.)

CLARICE


Get ready for what?

BUTCH


(Taking hold of CLARICE.) You brought this upon yourself!

ROPER


(Excited, he comes into the living room.) Oh man!

CLARICE


Do your worst!

(BUTCH reaches into his pocket and pulls out a harmonica box. He takes the harmonica out of the box and begins to simply blow as loud as he can and run his lips along the holes, creating an irritating sound.)

CLARICE


(Turning away, covering her ears.) Ow! No! Ow! STOP!

BUTCH


(He stops playing and whirls her around so they are face-to-face.) Don’t you see what you’re doing to this poor boy? You’re robbing him of his childhood! You heard what he said. He’s not interested in romance yet. He just wants to be a kid! I’m sorry I made an unfair accusation earlier. I know you’re not that way. But I was concerned. Everyone was. Even Boots here appears to have concerns of his own about this whole situation.

STARLA


Your father’s right, dear, the harmonica-playing aside. Now I think the best thing for you to do is apologize to Boots and let him go free.

CLARICE


He should apologize to me for leading me along!

BUTCH


Quit acting like such a child.

CLARICE


But—

BUTCH


But nothing! (He turns her around to face BOOTS. Then he puts the harmonica back in the box and stuffs it back in his pocket.)

CLARICE


(Inching slowly towards BOOTS.) Boots, I’m sorry I hit you. I shouldn’t have done that. You didn’t do anything wrong.

BOOTS


It’s okay.

CLARICE


It’s just that… the reason I was drawn to you, Boots, was that you liked me for who I am. Boys my age are only concerned with appearances. They can’t keep their eyes away from my chest. But you… you are so innocent. You didn’t care about that other stuff. You just cared about me. You enjoyed my company, and that made me feel good about myself. I haven’t felt good about myself in quite awhile.

BOOTS


I’m sorry I don’t love you, Clarice. All that stuff you just said is true though. You’re one of my best friends. And I’d like to stay friends with you. But I don’t think I know what love is. It’s not something I think about.

CLARICE


I should’ve known that. I suppose I was just blinded by desire. (She sighs.) Well, Boots, we should stay friends. But as for our so-called romantic relationship, I release you.

BOOTS


Oh, okay. (A brief silence.) Can you take me home now?

CLARICE


(Disregarding the lack of fanfare.) …Sure.

(BOOTS and CLARICE head toward the door. The others follow them.)

BOOTS


(Turning around to face STARLA.) Thanks for dinner. That was some swell catfish, and a swell gravy boat.

STARLA


Are you sure you don’t want to stay for dessert? I made gelatin.

BOOTS


Yes, ma’am, I’m sure.

BUTCH


(Approaching BOOTS, reaching out with his hand.) Goodbye, Boots. It’s been a pleasure.

BOOTS


(Shaking his hand.) Yes, sir. A pleasure.

ROPER


(Shakes hands with BOOTS.) I hope we meet again.

BOOTS


I’m sure we will.

STARLA


(Bends down and hugs BOOTS.) Thank you for coming, Boots.

BOOTS


Thank you for having me. Goodbye!

(CLARICE ushers BOOTS out the door. STARLA, BUTCH, and ROPER stand there at the doorway briefly before they all turn to go into the living room.)

STARLA


Well I think she did the right thing—letting him go.

BUTCH


Yeah.

ROPER


What an interesting evening.

STARLA


Yes. But I’m going to miss that boy.

BUTCH


Nice boy.

STARLA


A fine boy.

ROPER


We’ll see him again. Yeah, he’ll be around again. You know, of all the boys she’s brought over, I like Boots the best.

STARLA


(Walking over to one of the hand-dusters that are still sitting on the floor. She picks it up.) Yes. I’m sure he’ll make someone very happy one day. (BUTCH walks over to STARLA and puts his arm around her.) I just hope Clarice finds what she’s looking for.

ROPER


I’m sure she’ll be fine. She’ll have another boy coming over here before we know it. (He picks up another hand-duster. He walks over to the area he was dusting earlier.)

STARLA


Roper, what are you doing?

ROPER


Getting a head start.

STARLA


A head start for what?

ROPER


(Turns to face her. He smiles.) For next time.

(Blackout.)
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