FIREWALLS
A play in Four Scenes
 
 
 
 
 

SCENE THREE
(12 Pages in Typescript)

 
 

The bedroom of HARRIS and KELLY'S apartment, one year later. HARRIS and KELLY are sitting up in bed, she on his left, facing the audience. Their legs are beneath, and disguised by, rumpled blankets; she is wearing a chemise. There are two bedside tables: on KELLY's a lamp, a telephone-answering machine, a clock, and a laptop; on HARRIS'S a lamp, an ashtray, and a laptop. HARRIS is smoking a cigarette. Down right there is a television whose soundless picture flickers into the room. In the soft light of the room and the television, KELLY and HARRIS look pleased and relaxed.




------------KELLY:

Mmm, it was good for me, really good. Was it good for you?


------------HARRIS:

I'll say. It was more than good. Look here.

From beneath the blankets, he pulls out a portable blood pressure monitor, dragging its sack and air tube. He exhibits it to KELLY.

I'm usually over 100, diastolic. Now I'm just 95. 151 over 95. The 95 is still high, but 89 is where high-diastolic begins. Six points over isn't bad. I can live with 95.


------------KELLY:

(as HARRIS contemplates the monitor) We should do that more often. Not only does it feel good, but it's some of the best exercise ever invented. (pause) Who was it who said: 'Sex is the most fun you can have without laughing'?




HARRIS sets his cigarette in the ashtray, leans to his side, and puts the blood pressure monitor on the floor.




------------HARRIS:

(straightening up) I don't know, but listen to this. Here's one I heard the other day. 'The amount of energy expended during sex is roughly equal to the amount of energy expended while running, twice, up and down a twelve-foot-high flight of stairs. The only difference is that after running up and down that flight of stairs, twice, you don't have a desire to smoke a cigarette.'




KELLY laughs, and gives HARRIS a kiss.
She leans her head against his chest
and he puts his arm around her.




------------KELLY:

Where do you get these sayings?


------------HARRIS:

Oh, I probably heard that on television.




He takes a final puff of his cigarette,
crushes it in the ashtray,
(which causes KELLY to return to her original position),
then reaches under the folds of the blankets, feels around,
and pulls out the remote for the television.
He aims it and presses a button. Suddenly, canned laughter,
which eventually subsides.




------------TELEVISION VOICE:

So remember, folks! When you're tempted to say nasty, sarcastic things about lawyers, when you're tempted to participate in this lawyer-bashing that's so prevalent—just remember! It's only 99 percent of lawyers that give the rest a bad name!



Canned laughter. HARRIS aims the remote and pushes a button.
As though against their will, KELLY and HARRIS watch.




------------SECOND TELEVISION VOICE:

That's right! Car gardening! I'm going to have petunias on the dashboard, and daisies under the rear window, ivy hanging from the rearview mirror! On the back seat I'm going to have vegetables growing in nice, neat little rows! (canned laughter)


------------THIRD TELEVISION VOICE:

Here's another way to put a car to good use! I call it 'Cab Therapy'—or 'Computer Therapy.' A sign on the cab says: 'Psychotherapy for Extremely Busy People.' You hail the cab, crawl into the back seat, and lie on your back. The cabbie looks over his shoulder, and says: 'So, mister, what seems to be the problem today?' You begin to tell him about your mother, and all the awful things she did to you, or how your brother received more attention than you did, or anything else, kinky, that's on your mind or has been bothering you.


------------SECOND TELEVISION VOICE:

You could even arrange to have yourself picked up by the same cabbie the next day!


------------THIRD TELEVISION VOICE:

I suppose you'd get your real money's worth—and the most help —during traffic jams.


------------KELLY:

(disappointed by the change in mood) There sure is a lot of nonsense on, isn't there.


------------HARRIS:

(eyes on television) Sure is.




HARRIS aims the remote and pushes a button.




------------SOMBER TELEVISION VOICE:

Madagascar is home to over fifty species of chameleons, more than all the rest of the world combined. Indeed, ninety percent of the animal species on the island are unique to Madagascar.




HARRIS aims, and changes the channel.




------------TELEVISION VOICE:

Good evening. Here is today's news.


------------KELLY:

Harry, please. Not the news. We've already heard it.




HARRIS pushes a button on the remote.




------------TELEVISION VOICE:

For tomorrow, look for partial clearing. . . .


------------KELLY:

And not the weather, either. They're wrong about two-thirds of the time, and I'm sure we'll get to work in the morning—whatever the weather is.




With a vague look of irritation, HARRIS hits the mute button,
silencing the television. He turns to his side
and takes his laptop off the table,
places it on his lap, and raises the lid.
With an air of resignation, KELLY does the same.
They busy themselves in their screens. Eight seconds.




------------KELLY:

(glancing at HARRIS'S screen) Who's winning?


------------HARRIS:

Oh, I stopped playing games an hour ago. I'm working on a new design for the Enhanced Radar System.


------------KELLY:

Did you have any luck with the upgraded two-prong attack assembly?


------------HARRIS:

I did. And that might be the easiest way to do it. But I thought I'd go back and try a different solution. See if I could get the phase-four hardwire connector to interface with the secondary-curve proposition latch.


------------KELLY:

Maybe you shouldn't tell me too much about it. This stuff is classified, isn' t it?


------------HARRIS:

(as he works) It is. But hell, you're my wife.




They busy themselves with their laptops.
Ten seconds.




------------KELLY:

So, suppose it's a girl. Have you thought of any good names for a girl?


------------HARRIS:

(eventually) No, I haven't had any inspirations yet. But we have plenty of time. I'm sure we'll come up with something. (pause) Hey, I just remembered. You know that program on pregnancy and childbirth I downloaded for us? I think there's a list of names in it. One for boys, one for girls. I'm gonna have a look.


------------KELLY:

(smiling; fingers moving on her keyboard) Race ya!


------------HARRIS:

(starting to type, then catching himself) Wait a minute. (pause) I just had an idea. (fingers moving on his keyboard) Maybe we could. . .this much I can tell you. . .maybe we could do a homebox spring-stress resolution, combine it with a phase- four hardwire connector and run both through the main buss.




He stops work and studies his screen.




------------KELLY:

(after a pause) Sarah?


------------HARRIS:

Hm? What, honey?


------------KELLY:

Do you like the name, 'Sarah'?


------------HARRIS:

(minimally glancing at KELLY) Sure, Sarah's a nice name. Sarah. . .Britton. Has a nice sound to it. (resuming work) Now if the pitch-wing dialog simulator were connected to. . .the main buss. . .and we tweaked the calibrator. . . . (trailing off)


------------KELLY:

(after a pause) How about 'Shelley'?


------------HARRIS:

(vague irritation) Shelley. Shelley That s a good one, too. (minimally glancing) But neither of those is a family name. Unless you have relatives I don't know about, they're not from your family and they sure aren't from mine. Don't you think, for our first child, we ought to choose a name that's carried by someone in our families?


------------KELLY:

(pause) Yeah, I guess you're right. (musingly) It's just fun to see what. . .the possibilities are.




KELLY returns to her search and HARRIS
re-immerses himself in work. Eight seconds.
Having apparently arrived at a solution to his problem,
he puts his head back against the wall (or head board),
drops his arms to his sides, and lets out a deep breath.
He contemplates his screen with satisfaction.
Something on the television screen catches his eye.





------------HARRIS:

(to KELLY, without looking at her) Oh god, look at this news bulletin.




He reaches for the remote, aims, and presses a button.




------------TELEVISION VOICE:

Authorities in Marrakesh say the bomb that exploded was made from ammonium nitrate, the same chemical compound that was used in the recent bombing in Tunisia. Because it exploded in the souk, it is estimated that as many as a hundred and fifty people were killed. More on this and other developments coming up at eleven.




HARRIS aims the remote, pushes a button. Silence.




------------KELLY:

It's terrible, isn't it? Just terrible. When will it ever end?


------------HARRIS:

(angrily patriotic) Well, at least at IXI, we're doing our part.




HARRIS and KELLY return their attention to their laptops.




------------KELLY:

(eventually looking up) Oh-oh. I see my account balance is getting a little on the. . .skimpy side.


------------HARRIS:

(eyes on his screen) Your money market?


------------KELLY:

No, my checking. (as though realizing she is talking to herself) I'm gonna have to fix that, get on that. Don't wanna start bouncing checks all around town.




HARRIS and KELLY'S fingers move on their laptops.
Eight seconds.




------------KELLY:

Hey, here's one you wrote from Chicago, when you couldn't get out of the airport, when your plane was delayed because of snow. I'm going through the e-mails you sent me before you proposed, when we were (wistfully). . .seriously courting. 'I can't bear to be away from you, you wrote. 'I can't stand to be traveling so much. I'm just glad they understand that after we're married I'm going back into research, I'm gonna return to the lab. It's cold in Chicago. It's cold outside, and it's cold inside. Love.


------------HARRIS:

(looking up) Oh, I remember that trip. It was miserable from beginning to end. And I couldn't convince any of our clients to upgrade their mother-board storage assemblies.




HARRIS resumes work.




------------KELLY:

(eventually) Oh, and here's one from Dallas. 'Honey, if you only knew how much I miss you. I get so tired of hotel lobbies, and hotel rooms, and hotel food—not to mention hotel people. There's a huge swimming pool here, but what's the fun of swimming alone? What's the fun of doing anything alone? Of doing anything without you? I'll be home tomorrow and, believe me, I can't wait. I can't wait to see you. Love.'


------------HARRIS:

(looking up) Yeah, Dallas was as hot as Chicago was cold. That hotel had the biggest damn elevators I've ever seen. I guess they had to have 'em big, like that, to accommodate convention displays. Trade shows. (pause) Did a lot of good business, though.




HARRIS returns to work.




------------KELLY:

(eventually) Oh, here's one more. Just one more, honey. This time you're in Los Angeles. 'If I could give you one kiss for every car on these expressways, I'd consider it nothing more than a good start. Half the time—for thinking of you—I have to fight to keep my mind on my driving. And if I play the radio, it only makes me more lonely. It reminds me that I'm in L.A., and that there's a whole continent between us. So a kiss, and then one more,' (wistfully) 'for my sweet angel.'


------------HARRIS:

(dutifully turning and giving KELLY a halfhearted peck) I have a lot more where that came from. And there are lots of different places I'd like to apply 'em.



As HARRIS pulls back, KELLY grabs him around the neck,
pulls him to her, and kisses him passionately, and at length.




------------KELLY:

(as they separate) That is how it is done. Do you want another?


------------HARRIS:

(pause) Of course I do, but (glancing at the clock) it's time for the news. I think we ought to keep abreast of what's going on.




HARRIS grabs the remote, aims, and pushes a button.




------------TELEVISION VOICE:

Authorities say that while no one has been apprehended in connection with the bombing, the way in which it was carried out fits the pattern of other violent acts in the region. In this instance, the bomb exploded inside a red Datsun, which one witness said had been parked near the souk for about half an hour. We'll give you further developments as they come in.


------------KELLY:

Oh honey, please. I can't bear it. Do we have to watch this?


------------HARRIS:

(aiming remote, silencing the television) No. I guess not. I was just wondering if they were getting any leads on who did it this time.



HARRIS returns his attention to his laptop. KELLY stares moodily into space. Eight seconds.

(eye on screen) I've got something, here, that just may work. I think they're gonna be. . .real glad they put me back in the lab.

He makes some final adjustments on the keyboard, turns the laptop off and closes the lid, and places it on his table.

(turning to KELLY) That was a pretty good night's work. (smiling) I must say. . .it's been a very rewarding evening.

KELLY makes the appropriate adjustments, closes her lid, and places her laptop on the floor.

Let's just see what else is on. Then we can can this darn thing.

He picks up the remote, aims it, and pushes a button.




------------TELEVISION VOICE:

Remember, absolutely no payments are due for six months. And if you purchase a Subaru during our year-end promotion, you'll receive a seven-hundred dollar rebate. Subaru. . .Experience the Difference.



HARRIS aims the remote and pushes a button.




------------TELEVISION VOICE:

Authorities in Marrakesh say the bomb that exploded was made from ammonium nitrate, the same chemical compound that was used in the recent bombing in Tunisia. Because it exploded in the souk, it is estimated that as many as a hundred and fifty people were killed.


------------HARRIS:

Dammit. It's enough to make you sick.




The phone on KELLY'S table rings.
HARRIS aims the remote and silences the television.




------------KELLY'S VOICE ON THE ANSWERING MACHINE:

Hi. You've reached Harris and Kelly Britton. We're not home right now, but if you'll leave a message we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Have a nice day.




After a pause, there is a click.




------------HARRIS:

Who do you suppose that was?


------------KELLY:

Just another hangup. We sure get a lot of them.


------------HARRIS:

Why don't you press Star 69 and get the number of whoever was calling?


------------KELLY:

It's no use. I've done that, often. You never find out.




She reaches to her side, pulls out the knob
on the alarm clock, and turns off her light.
She pulls up the blankets, slides down beneath them,
and rolls over on her side, her back to HARRIS.
HARRIS aims the remote and hits a button, then another.




------------TELEVISION VOICE:

Now for two hundred dollars, what's the capital of Saskatchewan?




HARRIS aims the remote and pushes a button.
The lights begin to fade.




------------KELLY:

(on her side) Honey, turn that thing off. It's time to go to sleep.


------------TELEVISION VOICE:

(gradually fading, though audible to the end) So I'm in this health food store, and I hear a man call to his wife—who's investigating something a coupla shelves over—'Honey, what did we come in here for? What did we come in here to buy? And she calls back across the store: 'Ginkgo biloba, dear! Ginkgo biloba!'




As the lights continue to fade,
HARRIS'S eyes remain fixed on the television.
He aims the remote a final time,
and pushes a button.





BLACKOUT

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