THE NEWCOMER
A Play
(11 Pages in Typescript)
 
 
 
 
 
The Newcomer was first performed at the New Media Repertory Company in New York City on December 7, 2001. It was directed by Miranda McDermott and designed by Franklin Engel.
       
Leon:    Ed Baccari
Eileen:    Annette Hillary
Mrs. Mathews:    Marissa Afton
Mr. Mathews:    Everett Sherman
       
       
  THE NEWCOMER
   
--------------------The Cast:

LEON:    a young man in his early twenties; khakis and ill-fitting sports coat
EILEEN:     
a chirping apartment-house busybody: hair in curlers wrapped with a cheap scarf; a nondescript shift and flip-flops; pushing a laundry cart loaded with laundry
 
MR. AND MRS. MATTHEWS:
a more well-to do couple; she in tasteful dress, he in business suit
       



--------------------The Scene:

The hallway of an undistinguished apartment building; we see three closed doors. Three lights dangling from the ceiling produce three sallow cones of light. The center light is directly over the middle door. LEON enters right and, apparently continuing a process, glances at the number on the first door, then at a piece of paper in his hand. Moving to the middle door he stops, and looks again at the paper. This is the correct door, yes. He puts the paper in his coat pocket, removes a key from the other pocket and inspects it, turning it over several times, and finally inserts the key in the lock. As the door springs ajar, EILEEN enters, stage right. . . .




--------------------EILEEN:

I'm sorry to hear about your loss! We all are! He was a fine man, a really fine man!


--------------------LEON:

(bemused) Loss? Oh, I would hardly call it a loss.


--------------------EILEEN:

(not hearing) Everyone had great respect for him. He gave the building a certain. . .tone, he made it very interesting for the rest of us to live here.


--------------------LEON:

Yeah, he was quite a character.


--------------------EILEEN:

I don't suppose you're going to sell the building, are you? I don't know what I'd do if I had to move out. I've been here twenty-seven years, and the reasonable rents he charged have been, well, my salvation.


--------------------LEON:

(grandly) As a matter of fact, I haven't decided what I'm going to do about—


--------------------EILEEN:

Really, it would just kill me if I had to find another place to live.


--------------------LEON:

(firmly) I can understand that, and I'll try to be as accommodating as I can. I'll just have to see what develops with—


--------------------EILEEN:

I suppose it's going to be a quiet funeral? Just members of the family? Or have you planned something more elaborate? Now I don't mean to pry. I'm sure you have a lot on your mind just now.


--------------------LEON:

Yes, this has all come as quite a surprise.




LEON returns his attention to the door,
and prepares to enter


.

--------------------EILEEN:

(catching him) But sometime—I mean after you've gotten over your shock and confusion—sometime, I have some very interesting photographs I'd like to show you.


--------------------LEON:

You have photographs? Really?


--------------------EILEEN:

(Looking over LEON'S shoulder; deflated, and without enthusiasm) Oh, here's Mrs. Matthews. Hello, Doris.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

(entering left) Hello Eileen. How are you? Eileen, I hope you aren't pestering this young man. For Pete's sake, leave the young man alone! (To LEON) My condolences sir. All of us were very saddened by the news.


--------------------EILEEN:

(working to regain LEON'S attention) I should say so! I had many pleasant conversations with the man, over the years. But of course he was always so busy. He had so many involvements. You know, like the farm, upstate.


--------------------LEON:

(turning to EILEEN) There's a farm, upstate?


--------------------EILEEN:

Of course there's a farm upstate! He used to tell me all about the thoroughbreds he raised up there. Though I heard--say, did you hear this, Doris?—I heard he was in some kind of trouble with the Racing Commission.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

No, Eileen. As usual you've got it wrong. The trouble with the Racing Commission had to do with illegal betting. And that was years ago. The problem now is, the farm is in litigation because he had tax problems. That's why the IRS put a lien against it. But that's none of our business.


--------------------LEON:

(warily) The IRS put a lien against his farm?


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

Yes it did. He used to tell me they were making his life, excuse my language, absolute hell. Anyway, I can understand this has been quite a shock for you, you being his son and all.


--------------------LEON:

Thank you for your concern. Yes, it has, it's been quite a shock.


--------------------EILEEN:

And—not meaning to pry or anything—maybe you can tell us why he had people traipsing up and down this hallway, at all hours.


--------------------LEON:

He had people. . .traipsing up and down the hall?


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

(glancing at EILEEN; then, to LEON) He certainly did. We used to hear the most horrendous noises in this hallway! Not to mention, coming from his apartment! (emphatically) Didn't we, Eileen. But I'm sure things will be different, now that you're in charge.


--------------------LEON:

I'm in charge, all right.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

It just goes to show you: if you have money you can get away with anything.


--------------------EILEEN:

Isn't it the truth, Doris. If you have money you can get away with. . .murder.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

(as LEON looks from one to the other) I often thought about asking the super what was going on. But it was none of my business, I didn't want to create unpleasantness on the hall. I've always thought it best to stay out of other people's hair. But there was that awful noise.


--------------------LEON:

Noise.


--------------------EILEEN:

Frankly, I'm surprised the police never came. But after I saw that picture of him in the newspaper, that picture of him with the chief, it doesn't surprise me.


--------------------LEON:

There was a picture of him in the newspaper? With the chief of police?


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

(entering stage left) Hi, honey! I'm home! (All turn to register the entrance of MR. MATTHEWS, who puts his arm around his wife as though to kiss her, then as he senses that some altercation might be in progress, to defend her. Having appraised the situation and concluded that nothing is amiss, he relaxes and extends his hand to LEON) I'm sorry to hear the news, son. Very sorry. You must be his—


--------------------LEON:

Not exactly. You see, I—


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

I don't want to pry into your affairs or anything, but tell me. Have you decided what you're going to do with the yacht?


--------------------LEON:

There's a. . .yacht?


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

Of course there's a yacht! But that means you'll have to deal with the crew that runs it. Bunch 'a hot-tempered Cubans. He was always complaining about them. And from the way he talked about that boat, sometimes we got the feeling that he was putting it to, well, ulterior use.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

Which perhaps explains why people were traipsing up and down the hall at all hours, and banging on his door.


--------------------LEON:

(apprehensively) They were. . .banging on his door?


--------------------EILEEN:

They certainly were! Anyway, I hope you like the dogs, and can make your peace with them.


--------------------LEON:

(turning from left to right as the others speak) There are dogs?


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

Of course there are dogs. Drahar and Drummond, his two Dobermans. Beautiful dogs, and so dedicated to him.


--------------------EILEEN:

But one-owner dogs, really. Very jealous dogs. Jealous of everything and everybody.


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

Hell, those damn dogs couldn't even get along with the parakeet !


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

Which they've probably eaten, by now—


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

And they hated the chinchillas!


--------------------LEON:

The parakeet? Chinchillas?


--------------------EILEEN:

Absolutely a parakeet. And chinchillas. And you've got to remember to feed them. I don't think anyone has been in to feed those animals for three or four days now, you know, since he . . . .


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

Which perhaps explains the rumbling, and banging about we've been hearing.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

And now poor Drummond has that infection.


--------------------EILEEN:

Those horrible lesions.


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

Of course, you'll want to call a veterinarian about that. You'll want to get on that as soon as possible.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

But you being his son and all, you'll naturally—


--------------------LEON:

Dammit! I am not his son!


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

You're. . .not?


--------------------LEON:

No! I never met the man! I never met the man in my entire life! I never laid eyes on him!


--------------------EILEEN:

You never. . .met him? You're not even related?


--------------------LEON:

Hell no, I'm not! I'm from a tiny little farming town in the Midwest! Apparently he went to a library here in the city, and took a telephone phone book off the shelves and picked my name at random! I'm just somebody whose name he picked out of a goddamn phone book! I know nothing about him!


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

But then, how did you find out that—


--------------------LEON:

His lawyer called me! His lawyer called me, one afternoon, while I was out in the fields! Driving a tractor! Someone came and got me, I picked up the phone, and this lawyer announced that I had inherited everything!


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

Everything? He left you. . .the whole kit-and-caboodle?


--------------------LEON:

That's right. The whole kit-and-caboodle.


--------------------EILEEN:

(sourly) Well you might have thought he would have left something to us.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

Who put up with his noise and shenanigans, all these years.


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

Sir, no offense or anything, but this is. . .quite strange. The man had brothers and sisters. Why didn't he leave his estate to his brothers and sisters?


--------------------LEON:

He had brothers and sisters?


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

Absolutely. Two brothers, and two sisters. And there's an ocean of bad blood between them. The five of them used to gather in his apartment from time to time, and you could hear their shouting and bickering and carrying-on all the way down to the street!


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

I think the trouble began when his sister's boy fell in the swimming pool at his house upstate, and drowned.


--------------------LEON:

There's a swimming pool? On the property upstate? And his sister's boy—


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

Apparently, son, there're a few things his lawyer didn't tell you.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

Anyway, that woman was never the same after that. We could tell from the way she behaved when she came here. The crazed look. The herky-jerky mannerisms.


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

And the way she always stood in the door and screamed at him, when she was leaving.


--------------------EILEEN:

But of course, that's none of our business.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

No. We tried to be good neighbors. We tried to live quietly, and keep to ourselves, you know, mind our own business.


--------------------EILEEN:

But occasionally, well, I have to be honest, we did hear the mysterious grinding. The thumping, the noise of machinery or something.


--------------------LEON:

The noise of machinery. . . .


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

Some whirring or thumping, or banging about. But we didn't poke our noses in. As I said, we minded our business. We tried to be good neighbors.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

We sure did. Well (provocatively) all except that one time.


--------------------LEON:

That one time.


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

When Eileen got those photographs.


--------------------LEON:

Those photographs.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

I suppose they're worth a pretty penny to someone.


--------------------EILEEN:

Yes, they're worth a lot to someone.


--------------------LEON:

Worth a lot to whom, for instance?


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

Why, to you, of course.


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

You lucky devil.






From this point on,
the lights in the right and left ceiling
fixtures gradually fade.




--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

But now, don't let us keep you. I'm sure you want to get busy with your new. . .toys, get busy surveying your new domains.


--------------------EILEEN:

And seeing to the dogs.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

And the parakeet.


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

The chinchillas.


--------------------EILEEN:

But we all hope you won't act hastily in the matter of this building, and the rents we pay. I have lived here twenty-seven years, after all.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

And we've been here twenty-one.


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

And there is the matter of the photographs.


--------------------EILEEN:

Goodnight, then.


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

And our, uh, condolences!


--------------------LEON:

(desperately) I tell you, they aren't necessary!


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

No, I suppose you're right


--------------------MRS. MATTHEWS:

But anyway. Goodnight.


--------------------MR. MATTHEWS:

Accept them or not, as you choose. Our condolences.


Since the reference to lucky devil, the two outer ceiling lights have been fading. With a key she removes from her skirt pocket, MRS. MATTHEWS unlocks her apartment door and enters; with a last inscrutable glance at LEON, MR. MATTHEWS follows. The door closes behind them: a solid, metallic thunk. EILEEN takes the key that's on a string around her neck and unlocks her door, glances disdainfully at LEON, pushes her laundry cart forward, enters, and closes the door. Clunk. Standing beneath the remaining cone of light in the middle, LEON moves to the side, places his hand on the hinge side of the center door, and pushes it open warily. Slowly it opens, to reveal nothing but murky, opaque, impenetrable blackness. The cone of light under which he is standing begins to fade, and continues to fade until





BLACKOUT


  <        contents        >