A play in Four Scenes
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.
Mmm, it was good for me, really good. Was it good for you?
I'll say. It was more than good. Look here.
(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'?
(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.'
She leans her head against his chest
and he puts his arm around her.
Where do you get these sayings?
Oh, I probably heard that on television.
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.
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!
As though against their will, KELLY and HARRIS watch.
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
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.
You could even arrange to have yourself picked up by the same
cabbie the next day!
I suppose you'd get your real money's worth—and the most help
—during traffic jams.
(disappointed by the change in mood) There sure is a lot of
nonsense on, isn't there.
(eyes on television) Sure is.
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
Good evening. Here is today's news.
Harry, please. Not the news. We've already heard it.
For tomorrow, look for partial clearing. . . .
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.
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.
(glancing at HARRIS'S screen) Who's winning?
Oh, I stopped playing games an hour ago. I'm working on a new
design for the Enhanced Radar System.
Did you have any luck with the upgraded two-prong attack
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.
Maybe you shouldn't tell me too much about it. This stuff is classified, isn' t it?
(as he works) It is. But hell, you're my wife.
So, suppose it's a girl. Have you thought of any good names for a girl?
(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.
(smiling; fingers moving on her keyboard) Race ya!
(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.
(after a pause) Sarah?
Hm? What, honey?
Do you like the name, 'Sarah'?
(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)
(after a pause) How about 'Shelley'?
(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?
(pause) Yeah, I guess you're right. (musingly) It's just fun
to see what. . .the possibilities are.
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.
(to KELLY, without looking at her) Oh god, look at this news
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.
It's terrible, isn't it? Just terrible. When will it ever end?
(angrily patriotic) Well, at least at IXI, we're doing our
(eventually looking up) Oh-oh. I see my account balance is getting a little on the. . .skimpy side.
(eyes on his screen) Your money market?
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.
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.
(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.
(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.'
(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,
(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.'
(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.
pulls him to her, and kisses him passionately, and at length.
(as they separate) That is how it is done. Do you want another?
(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
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.
Oh honey, please. I can't bear it. Do we have to watch this?
(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.
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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.
Dammit. It's enough to make you sick.
HARRIS aims the remote and silences the television.
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.
Who do you suppose that was?
Just another hangup. We sure get a lot of them.
Why don't you press Star 69 and get the number of whoever was calling?
It's no use. I've done that, often. You never find out.
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.
Now for two hundred dollars, what's the capital of Saskatchewan?
The lights begin to fade.
(on her side) Honey, turn that thing off. It's time to go to sleep.
(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
HARRIS'S eyes remain fixed on the television.
He aims the remote a final time,
and pushes a button.
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