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by beetle
Rated: 18+ · Script/Play · Gay/Lesbian · #1989248
Two old friends who haven't seen each other in three years meet for dinner.
         Dinner          For Two                    Act I - Scene I - Page          | 17









DINNER FOR TWO




A Ten-Minute Play by




E. M. Bailey















Dinner For Two


CHARACTERS (in order of appearance)

Rajan Seth          A charming, grandiloquent motivational speaker, 34, visiting home after a three year absence

Jordan Castel          A sarcastic, stoic HR professional, 33

Waiter                              Late-thirties, attractive, deferential

Parking valet                    Early twenties, bored with his job, and because of that, nosy

TIME & PLACE
September, present day. A city in the Pacific Northwest: an upscale restaurant on a Friday evening.

SCENE BREAKDOWN
Act I:                              Scene 1, an upscale restaurant on a Friday evening, pages 3-8
                             Scene 1, in front of the same upscale restaurant, pages 9-17

NOTES
This play--based off a prompt from a writing group: Two old friends who haven't seen each other in a long time meet for dinner. One is secretly in love with the other. Show this, don't tell--was written originally as a gender-fluid piece, in which the main characters could be played as male/male, female/female, or male/female. Or any permutation in between. But initial readers always perceive the main characters as male, so, male they are.








ACT I

Scene I


SETTING:          An upscale restaurant at approximately six in the evening. The dinner rush is on.

BEFORE RISE:          Sounds of a busy restaurant: a low susurrus of people speaking and eating, and silverware hitting crockery.

AT RISE:          The two main characters, RAJ SETH and JORDAN CASTEL are sitting at a central table. They pick up their wine lists and begin to read for a few silent seconds as around them, others do the same or chat or eat. While they read, they steal nervous glances at each other and chuckle awkwardly.

RAJ

So, ah . . . what's good, here?

JORDAN

(dryly)

You ask me this like I've ever eaten here before.

RAJ

You mean you haven't?

JORDAN

(hesitantly, putting down the wine list)

Well . . . no. But I drive past it every day on my way to and from work.

RAJ

Tsk-tsk, and that's the best you could do for your old pal?

                                       (RAJ puts down the wine list and sighs wryly.)

You haven't changed one bit, Jordan.

JORDAN

Neither have you--you're still bitching about my taste in restaurants.

RAJ

That's because you have no taste in restaurants . . . although this place isn't half-bad, so far.

                                       (RAJ looks around, nodding as if cautiously impressed.)

JORDAN

Huh. Damned by faint praise.

                                       (Enter the WAITER, unobtrusively.)

RAJ

Well, if one has to be damned at all--oh, yes, hello, garcon!

(RAJ flirts harmlessly, charmingly, with the WAITER, holding out the wine list. The WAITER takes it.)

WAITER

(smiling absently)

May I start either of you with a glass of wine or a drink from the bar?

RAJ

(still flirting)

Yes . . . I'd like a glass of the house Pinot Noir.

JORDAN

Ooh . . . Pinot Noir before seven? Someone's in need of fortification.

RAJ

Dire need. You don't know the stress I'm under, lately.

JORDAN

Tell me about it.

                                       (JORDAN nods to the WAITER and hands over the wine list.)

Make it two Pinot Noirs, then, please.

                                       (WAITER exits with a nod.)

RAJ

Hmm. I'm not the only one in need of fortification, it would appear.

JORDAN

Perhaps your efforts to class me up are finally paying off.

RAJ

Doubtful, but perhaps.

JORDAN

So, how long's it been since you last graced this fair city of ours? About fifty thousand years?

RAJ

Don't hyperbolize. You're terrible at it. And it's only been three. Though I can see how three years without me to spice up your plebian life could seem like an eternity. . . .


JORDAN

Still that inspiring humility! How I've missed it!

RAJ

How you've missed me.

JORDAN

(as the WAITER returns with a bottle of wine and two glasses)

That, too--thank you.

RAJ

Yes, merci, my good man.

(RAJ grins up at the WAITER while he pours the wine. The WAITER is still smiling as he finishes pouring then leaves. RAJ watches him go admiringly before sniffing, swirling then delicately sipping the wine.)

Let's leave him a generous gratuity, eh? This Pinot Noir is divine!

JORDAN

(rolling his eyes)

I don't think he had a hand in that, Raj. . . .

RAJ

Well, perhaps not, but he certainly brought it to us with alacrity and verve.

JORDAN

You and your five dollar words.

RAJ

(proudly)

Oh, my words are worth twice that, at least! I'm getting paid rather handsomely to speak at this conference-thingy at the Radisson, you know.


JORDAN

(casually)

Well, I suppose I'm glad something could get you back here . . . even if that something wasn't seeing me.

RAJ

(instantly contrite)

Oh, don't be like that, please? It's not that I didn't miss you dreadfully. It's just that I've been kept so busy--

JORDAN

(still fighting to sound casual but gritting out his words now)

Yeah, yeah. Busy. Not once in three. Years, Raj.

RAJ

Let's not argue about it. . . .

JORDAN

(bitterly)

Who's fighting? I'm just calling it like I see it. If I'd known money was what it took to see your face again--

RAJ

(getting angry)

Do not go there.

JORDAN

--after all, money was why you left. Never mind who you were leaving behind--

RAJ

(obviously upset, but putting on a big smile as he glances around them)

Fine. You want to hit where you know it hurts? Go right ahead. Do that, if it makes you feel better. It's what you've always done. Just don't make a scene.

JORDAN

(angrily, but quietly, glancing around, too)

What the hell's that supposed to mean?

RAJ

It means, dearest friend, that if you want to know why I left three years ago, try looking in the mirror.

JORDAN

What?


RAJ

(glancing away, deflating wearily)

Nothing. Never mind, Jordan.

JORDAN

Don't nothing, never mind me, Raj. Tell me what I have to do with you leaving. Because if it wasn't all about the money--

RAJ

(quietly)

It wasn't. It really wasn't.

JORDAN

(almost pleading)

Then what?

RAJ

I was . . . tired.

JORDAN

Of what?


RAJ

Of . . . the same old same old. Of the same thing day in and day out. Of the same job. Of the same people--

JORDAN

(dryly, sarcastically)

Thanks.

RAJ

--excluding you, of course. Tired of . . . years of being in love with the most annoying, self-righteous . . . decent, honorable, funny, sweet, smart, gorgeous person I've ever known, who not only didn't notice I was alive, but who also happened to be my best friend and nothing more.

(Silence falls between them, filled with the sounds of the restaurant. Neither friend looks at the other for long moments. RAJ sips at the Pinot Noir and JORDAN examines the menu. Finally JORDAN sighs and looks at RAJ, who's obviously having a tough time. JORDAN reaches out and covers RAJ's hand with his own and RAJ looks up finally.)

JORDAN

(softly)

I noticed.

RAJ

(confused and staring at their hands)

What?

JORDAN

(raising their hands and linking their fingers)

That you were alive. Raj! How could I not? You're only the biggest, brightest, most alive person I've ever known . . . I've always noticed that. And after you left . . . after you left, my world was less big, less bright . . . and less alive.

RAJ

(surprised)

Really?

JORDAN

Really.

RAJ

Jesus, Jordan. . . .

JORDAN

Yeah.

RAJ

How long?

JORDAN

Huh?

RAJ

Have you been . . . noticing me-noticing me? How long?

JORDAN

(looking down, chagrined and embarrassed)

Uh . . . remember that time Brianna and Kirk threw that party--

RAJ

(chuckling)

The one where you got annihilated and threw up all over Brianna's pretty pink bathroom? Back then?!



JORDAN

Yeah, that'd be the party . . . I only remember one thing about that night besides the apocalyptic volume of puke that came outta me: wanting to kiss you so bad, it felt like I'd die if I couldn't. And it scared me so bad, I crawled into the nearest bottle of Beam until it was practically empty.

RAJ

(smiling a little wistfully)

What stopped you?

JORDAN

I told you: the bottle was almost empty.

RAJ

(breathlessly, almost playfully)

No--dummy. I meant what stopped you from kissing me then?

JORDAN

(still chagrined)

Oh . . . well, I was a coward, for one thing. And I started puking, for another.

RAJ

Oh. Right.

(RAJ examines their hands, still linked together, and smiles a sultry smile, leaning closer to JORDAN.)

And what's stopping you from kissing me now?

JORDAN

(leaning closer, too . . . then stopping himself ruefully)

About five hundred miles. . . .

RAJ

(after a few moments of hurt surprise)

Fuck you.

JORDAN

(sits back)

Whoa! Where'd that come from?!

RAJ

(pulls his hand free and stands up)

Don't act like you didn't just break my fucking heart in the most callous way possible! Fuck you, Jordan Castel. Fuck. You.

JORDAN

(half-standing uncertainly)

Where're you going?

RAJ

(turns away)

Back to my hotel. Have a nice life.

JORDAN

(calls out rather loudly)

Jesus, don't be such a drama queen!

(When RAJ keeps walking, JORDAN takes out a few dollar bills, puts them on the table, and follows, catching up to RAJ and grabbing RAJ's arm. RAJ whirls on JORDAN angrily.)

RAJ

(yanks arm back)

Go to Hell. And don't touch me!

JORDAN

(apologetically)

Wait, please--

RAJ

I got tired of waiting for you three years ago and I left.
(RAJ walks out of the restaurant and pauses out on the sidewalk. There is a parking VALET leaning against the restaurant's fade. JORDAN catches up again, and tries to grab RAJ's arm again and fails.)

JORDAN

You mean you ran . . . and I guess you're gonna do it again. Because it worked out so well for us both the first time.

RAJ

Stop following me.

JORDAN

No! Not until you talk to me!

RAJ

(snarky)

We've already talked, Jordan. And it was just lovely. Let's never do it again, someti--

(JORDAN grabs RAJ by the arms and hauls RAJ close for a kiss. RAJ, surprised, doesn't fight it . . . even begins to participate, tentatively, moaning as JORDAN breaks the kiss to speak.)


JORDAN

(breathing a little fast and laughing)

You don't know how long I've been wanting to do that.

RAJ

(laughing, too)

Since before you destroyed Brianna's bathroom, at least. . . .

JORDAN

(holding RAJ closer and grinning)

Asshole.

RAJ

Was it everything you hoped it'd be?

JORDAN

(thinks about it for a moment)

Yes and no.

RAJ

(sighing and pulling away)

Must you insert your feet every time you open your mouth?

JORDAN

(pulling RAJ close again)

I didn't mean it like that. I just meant that as great a first kiss as it was--and it was great--when I pictured it happening, I didn't exactly imagine it being in the middle of the sidewalk, with a valet gawping at us like we're a couple of talking dogs.

RAJ

Oh.

                                       (RAJ steals a quick kiss and this time JORDAN moans.)

Well, we can always try take two, back at my hotel room. . . .

JORDAN

God, you don't know how bad I wanna take you up on that offer, Raj, but. . . .

RAJ

Five hundred miles?

JORDAN

(nods)

Five hundred miles.

RAJ

And you don't do long-distance relationships.

JORDAN

Not when it's you, I don't. I love you too much to share you with another city.

RAJ

(gaping)

Did . . . did you just say the l-word on what isn't even a first date?

JORDAN

(seriously, solemnly)

Yes.

RAJ

(sighing again, and wrapping hesitant arms around JORDAN' neck)

Jesus. You don't play fair, do you?

JORDAN

(sliding equally hesitant arms around RAJ's waist)

Not when it comes to love and poker.

RAJ

Have you got an ace up your sleeve, then?

JORDAN

Sort of. And it's not up my sleeve.

RAJ

Oh, my God. You're so crass.

JORDAN

(briefly confused)

What--oh, jeez, I didn't mean that! I meant that I have the ace in my hand, dumbass. I love you. I'm in love with you. I don't think I'll ever not be.

RAJ

(shaking his head)

You're really playing hardball, here, aren't you, Castel?

JORDAN

That's the only ballgame I play, Seth. Especially when the stakes are this high. I want you to consider staying here. Giving us a chance.

RAJ

A chance to what?

JORDAN

I dunno. We'd have to see, wouldn't we?

RAJ

You want me to uproot my life again for a we'll see?

JORDAN

Is that a no?

RAJ

Don't be glib. You're terrible at it.

JORDAN

(smiling)

I'm terrible at a lot of things, apparently.

RAJ

It's part of your questionable charm . . . but I can't uproot my life for maybe. I love you, and I believe you when you say you love me, but I need to be sure we have that chance before I leave a place and a life that I also love, to come back . . . here.

JORDAN

I have another glib rebuttal to that. . . .

(JORDAN kisses RAJ again, slowly and thoroughly.)

RAJ

(breathless and clearly dazed)

. . . a kiss--even that kiss--isn't a rebuttal of any sort.

JORDAN

But it's the only rebuttal I've got, besides. . . .

                                       (JORDAN kisses RAJ for a third time, squeezing RAJ close.)

RAJ

(still breathless and laughing once more)

Okay, you can't just kiss away all my very valid reasons for not picking up my life and moving back here!

JORDAN

Can't I?

RAJ

(leaning back as JORDAN moves in for another kiss)

I . . . don't see why I have to be the one to move, anyway. . . .

JORDAN

(frowning)

Simple. Because--

RAJ

Because?

JORDAN

Because . . . fuck. I can't think when you're this close. You're distracting me. . . .

RAJ

And who started with the closeness and distraction, hmm? And remember, delightful as they are, kisses are not rebuttals.

JORDAN

(protesting lamely)

I have a career, here, Raj--

RAJ

That you hate.

JORDAN

--and friends and family--

RAJ

Whom you barely see, anymore, because they've all either moved away or stared having little ankle-biters.

JORDAN

(sighing in defeat)

Raj, I. . . .
RAJ

Have no reason to continue on in this boring little city? I couldn't agree with you more. So come live with me.

JORDAN

(leaning in again)

. . . can't stop kissing you. . . .

                                       (JORDAN and RAJ meet half-way for a brief, sweet kiss)

RAJ

You know, if we were in the same city, to say nothing of the same apartment, you could do that whenever you wanted. So come live with me and be my love, as the poet once said. I make more than enough money to support us both while you get yourself sorted out. Please. I think it'll be good for you to get out of this place for keeps. And you'll be with me . . . that's the icing on the cake.

JORDAN

That's the entire cake, icing and all, as far as I'm concerned. Being with you.

                                       (JORDAN' hands slide down to RAJ's backside.)

RAJ

Flatterer. And wonderful though it is, you groping my ass isn't a rebuttal, either.

JORDAN

It wasn't meant to be.

(JORDAN glances at the VALET, who has been watching them, but quickly looks away. JORDAN snorts.)

The valet's still staring at us.

RAJ

(jokingly, eyebrows waggling ridiculously)

Let's give him something to really stare at, then.

JORDAN

(searching RAJS's eyes)

Okay . . . yeah.

RAJ

(blinks)

To leaving this hellhole or to putting on a show for the valet?

JORDAN

Um . . . I'm thinking to both . . . though I guess if we wanna get back to your hotel any time soon we should ask him to call us a cab. . . .

(JORDAN leans in once more and RAJ leans back once more, grinning happily.)

RAJ

But at least one of us will need a free pair of lips with which to do so. . . .

JORDAN

Then that's out of the question.

RAJ

(glancing at the VALET)

Excuse me, sir, would you mind calling us a taxi to the Radisson--?

VALET

Sure, uh--it'll be just a few minutes.
                                       (VALET exits smartly)

RAJ
(turning back to JORDAN, smirking)

Now, where were we?

JORDAN

(leaning their foreheads against each other)

Uh . . . obnoxious PDAs in the middle of the sidewalk?

RAJ

Riiiiight. Carry on.

JORDAN

For as long as you'll let me.

RAJ

(stopping JORDAN from stealing another kiss)

Wait! Out of curiosity . . . what side of the bed do you prefer?

JORDAN

Whichever one you don't want.


RAJ

(grinning)

I do believe we'll get along just fine, Mr. Castel.

(The pair gaze into each other's eyes for a few moments before moving in for another kiss as the lights go down.)

Curtain Falls

***


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