by Patterson Willis
The Milkman Occurred at: Freetown Studios, Lafayette LA, on Oct. 29th 2011 The Public's Theatre of Private Mishaps , The MilkMan The Light Fixture CHARACTERS: The Milk Man: WOMAN- Bridget Gary MANPeter Falcone The Light Fixture PAT Giorgio Russo MARK Peter Falcone LINDA Bridget Gary BARBARA Camille Howard Director- Patterson Willis Scripts- Patterson Willis FreeTown Studios: “Supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by the Acadiana Center for the Arts.”
The Milkman CHARACTERS: MAN WOMAN MARCEL AUDIENCE (Stage blank, back stage wall is a curtain, four partitions onstage that form walls on stage right and left. At stage left behind the partition furthest back there is a closet door. At stage right there is a small table on which sits a telephone and a lamp. A light bulb hangs from a cord on the ceiling at stage center. Behind the backstage curtain there is another audienceâ€”made as real as possible given the space provided. The light hanging from the ceiling will be the light alternately turned on and off, while the lamplight remains constant during the play) (WOMAN sitting in chair, looking at telephone, MAN pacing about at center stage. Pause)
WOMAN (Sighs, pause, sighs again exaggerated, looks to public, looks at phone) Oh, the phone is ringing. (Picks up receiver) Hello— (Phone rings. Puts receiver down, then answers again) Hello? …Hey Jane…No, I hadn’t heard…Oh goodness, really? … And where is he now? I just—I know, I just can’t believe it. … Alright, sure. Talk later…you too. Bye.
Who was that, dear? (Beat) WOMAN It was no one, darling. No one at all. MAN Well… What did they say? WOMAN The milkman’s gone missing. MAN Really? WOMAN They said he was a Russian spy, a radical terrorist. He went missing this morning. MAN What a shame. Seemed like a good kid too, respectful…never came inside— WOMAN (Alarmed) Now what am I going to do? MAN Don’t worry. I’ll fix it. I just need a moment here…a spy? I’d swear the wall fell years ago— WOMAN How should I know? I haven’t left the house in twenty years.
MAN Has it been that long? (Black out. Pause. MAN picks up phone receiver, dials, frustrated) Marcel. Turn the lights back on.…Where am I?! (Gestures astonishment, whipping his back upright) I’m right here! On the damn stage! Right now! (Trying to whisper) …Yes, both of us. We’ve started… (Explodes) Marcel! Just turn the god-damn lights on! (MAN hangs up phone, opens newspaper, sits in chair. WOMAN at center stage pacing. Lights up. Beat) WOMAN (Despair) Oh, Jonathan. What will we do? Everyone’s been sent off to war or gone missing. MAN (Reading) Now, that’s not exactly true. WOMAN What? MAN There’s no war. WOMAN Oh, Jonathan. Don’t be naïve. There’s always war. (Beat. MAN returns to paper) I’ve got it. Let’s have coffee.
MAN Sounds great— WOMAN (Giggling ditz) Wait. Wait… We don’t have coffee. The milkman didn’t bring any today. MAN Beer? WOMAN None. MAN Wine? WOMAN Nada. MAN Well. What do we have, Maggie? WOMAN (Beat; guessing rapidly) We have the children. We have your mother and my father upstairs dying for a glass of warm milk. We have no milk. We have— MAN That’s simply not true, Maggie. Of course we have milk. (Looks up from newspaper) Where are the children? WOMAN In the institution.
MAN That’s true (Puts paper down on lap) What about we go for a drive? WOMAN But your license is suspended, dear. MAN Is that right? Well, what about the bus? We can take a bus somewhere— WOMAN You know I can’t leave the house, Jonathan! (Despair) It’s too…too vast outside, too— MAN Right. “The sky reaches too far”…“it might swallow us whole.” WOMAN And don’t you have work to do anyway darling? MAN Yes. I do. They just wont let me do it. WOMAN Who? MAN What do you mean, who? They. They have me sitting at a desk all day long shuffling papers around. They bring them to me, I put them in boxes, pile them into walls. Thousands of boxes—
WOMAN I’m sure they need them there like that for a specific reason, Jonathan. They’ve always got a reason. MAN You’re failing to understand, Maggie. The pages, they don’t say anything. They’re all blank. WOMAN Blank pages? MAN Blank pages, Maggie. Eight hours a day for twenty years thinking a page might say something. But no! They say only nothing. And if they say nothing, what does that mean for me? That I do nothing? That my whole life amounts to nothing? That everything— WOMAN I hate to see you so down on yourself, darling. You’re very good at what you do. Even if it is nothing, you do it precisely as it should me done. You do nothing honorably, darling. MAN You know what? (Stands, moves toward center-stage) You’re right. I am proud. (Black out. Silence. WOMAN begins to cry) MAN Margret…Are you there? (Beat) I’m sorry. WOMAN
(Bitter) It’s not enough that your sorry, Jay! MAN Would you rather me dead? (Touches WOMAN’s shoulder) WOMAN (Violently twists away from MAN. Tone parallels physical revulsion) For starters, yes. I’d rather you be dead if you don’t love me. I love you more than your mother. More than that bitch will ever love you! MAN Listen Margret. Don’t call her— WOMAN Where were you? Do you know how stupid I feel?! You said you loved me. That we would escape together. Escape, You said! MAN I— WOMAN (Getting closer to man gradually) You stood me up Jay! …Left me alone on a corner, everything I own packed. And you never came! …You said you loved me Jay, said you were going to leave her for me! MAN (Showing signs of fear, cringes away from WOMAN) Marcel! The lights! Marcel! Turn on the damn lights!
WOMAN Tell me the truth Jay. MAN Listen Margret, there’s no truth here. WOMAN (Catches MAN, grips his sleeves) Tell me! MAN Marcel! The lights! (Beat) I can’t leave her. You must understand, it’s impossible… Marcel! (Lights up. Both surprised. They jump to positions. WOMAN sits in chair; MAN stands, back against partition on stage right. Partition falls) MAN Great! Now the walls are falling in on us! WOMAN (Causally) Would you mind closing the door darling? There’s an awful drift coming in. MAN Will you just shut up and help me lift this! WOMAN (WOMAN, crying, stands and goes to one side of partition. Both lift)
Do you see how you speak to me? Do you know how much you hurt me, Jay? (Pause. Positions. MAN paces center stage. WOMAN in chair) MAN Let’s try this again, shall we? (Black out) He’s done it again! Nothing changes here! This Marcel is incredible! WOMAN You’re incredible!! I smell her on you! On your stinking breath! That whore better not even think— MAN Goddamn it Margret! Shut your mouth because you don’t know the first thing about her!
(Lights up, beat) WOMAN (Gasps for air as though she’d been holding it; startled in lights) …Let’s try this again. (Beat; cheerfully surprised) Look! The phone is ringing. (Beat) MAN & WOMAN Marcel! The phone!
(Phone rings) WOMAN (Mechanically cheerful) Hello. …No. He’s not in right now. Can I take a message? …Sure. Just one moment… (Takes paper and pen from drawer of table, writes) Alright…Nine o’clock, Westside. Right? Chaplin’s Diner. On the corner…Red dress… yeah…. (Laughs) Okay…..got it.….You too. Bye. (Beat) MAN Well. Who was that? WOMAN The police. Agent… (Reading) Kelter— MAN (Overly anxious) And? WOMAN (Beat; nervously losing here place) ….Your mother was— MAN My mother? WOMAN Yes—
MAN My mother was what? WOMAN (Babbling) Your mother wearing a red dress at nine o’clock yesterday by Chaplin’s dinner near the street corner— MAN And! WOMAN A red dress walked by a red car in a red walk light and— MAN What? And what? WOMAN The bus driver said she just, said that she, that she— MAN She what? WOMAN (Extending page to MAN) What do you think this says? …That word… MAN It’s says…“mauled”— WOMAN (Cheerful discovery) That’s it! She was mauled by a bus.
MAN Oh, god! That word is so, hard to understand. I mean, what does it mean? WOMAN I don’t know, Jonathan, but it sounds absolutely terrible to me. MAN What are we going to do, Maggie? WOMAN (Approaches MAN tenderly) Oh, my darling Jonathon. It’s all part of god’s plan. It was just her time to be, mauled. (MAN sobs softly) Here, put your head on momma’s shoulder now. It’ll work itself out like everything else does. Now shhhh… (Pause. Lights do not fade. Awkward embrace, actors hold in final position for 20-30 seconds of silence, waiting for the lights to fall) MAN (Tries to whisper) Margret. WOMAN Yes. MAN I…I just don’t know what to feel. I don’t know how to feel. I—I don’t know how to act, from this point on— WOMAN Shhh…
(Pause) Jay? MAN Yes? (Beat) WOMAN I’m pregnant. (Partition at stage left falls; actors break from embrace; MAN sits in chair, opens newspaper, WOMAN remains at center stage) MAN (Casual) What was that? An earthquake? WOMAN (Cutting) The wall’s fallen again. MAN At this rate we’ll never finish! (Stands, picks up phone receiver, dials number; yelling) Marcel! Everything is falling to pieces out here! (Hangs up phone slamming down, turning to WOMAN) WOMAN Earthquake? What the hell are you on now, Jay? MAN The partition fell. I tried to improvise.
WOMAN Right. MAN (Pompous) And you? Pregnant?....I’m not saying it was bad…. (Beat) I’ve got to admit it was a natural place to go, in an empty moment. But surely you know by now Margret, that we aren’t here to go about changing the script whenever it feels right. WOMAN Jay. I am pregnant. (Partition falls at stage right) MAN What? How? …It…it can’t be— WOMAN (Crying) I knew you would react like this. MAN I haven’t said anything yet. I haven’t reacted yet— WOMAN You don’t have to. It’s your expression. Your face never lies, Jay. You’re despicable. MAN Margret. Please. Don’t start right now. Not here. WOMAN (Excited, slightly hysterical)
Start what Jay? …It’s all true…All of it… (Black out. Silence) MAN Maggie? Are you there? I can’t see anything at all. Where are we? WOMAN I’m lost. I can’t remember anything….Where were we? MAN (Forced, nearly false) I am acting right now. (Lights up, Actors freeze; get in positions; MAN pacing center stage; WOMAN sits in chair. Beat) WOMAN (Cheerfull) I am pregnant. MAN You can’t be pregnant, Maggie. That’s impossible. We’ve already had children….How did this happen to us? WOMAN I just don’t know darling. Maybe it was something in the milk… (Approaches MAN; despair) But do you still love me Jonathan? Even if I don’t know where it came from? (Back stage curtain falls on left side) MAN (Realizing)
Oh, good God! (Rushes to pin up curtain; startled) Did you see them? …How did they get in here? (Black out) WOMAN You’re not paying attention! You never do! Or at least not to me. …You want this bastard? Your bastard, Jay! MAN Listen! Just what the hell is going on here? (Lights up. Pause. MAN sits in chair; WOMAN paces center stage) WOMAN Oh! …It just slipped my mind. I forgot to tell you, Jonathan. A letter came for you this morning. MAN Really? How did they get it in? WOMAN A messenger brought it. MAN Don’t be silly Maggie. You know as well as I that once someone steps onstage, and that’s it. You stay when the only exit is face up. WOMAN (Amusing clarity) I know, darling. I killed him. I killed the messenger. But don’t you worry, dear.
MAN What?! WOMAN (Pleading) Oh. Don’t be angry, Jonathan. It all happened so fast…I begged him to stay…I was so lonely…I begged and threw myself at him… I offered him my body…I offered him everything. MAN And where is he now? WOMAN I stowed him away in the closet. MAN Don’t be childish now. (Back curtain falls on right side. Rushes to curtain) How do we get rid of all of them? (Other side of curtain falls. Rushes to other side) Look here Maggie. Call the manager. He’ll know what to do. WOMAN He’s dead. (Pause. Curtain pinned back up) MAN What about the director? WOMAN I killed him….Him and the playwright. They’re all dead now— MAN
Well, just splendid, Maggie! Why don’t you just kill me too! (Black out. Pause. WOMAN starts crying; MAN approaches WOMAN) MAN Maggie. Please don’t cry. Listen. We’ll just act like we haven’t seen them. (Beat) Are you there? WOMAN Yes. MAN What’s wrong? WOMAN Oh Jonathan…I feel like I’ve been dreaming my whole life…day and night I find myself here, on this stage…It’s so sad to me. No progress, no music, no dancing, just false walls and curtains. Just smoke and mirrors— MAN Would you please pull yourself together Margret? (Grips WOMAN by shoulders, shakes her) We’re still here, right now… (Lights up. Pause. Both jump in position; MAN sits in chair. WOMAN standing at his side. MAN acting forcefully) Now where did you say you put that letter, darling? WOMAN Oh. Now I can’t remember.
MAN Well… Who was it from? WOMAN I simply misplaced it. But don’t worry. It didn’t say anything. It was written in some other language. MAN Think, Maggie. Close your eyes and focus. Retrace your steps. WOMAN (Downstage, facing public) I’m focusing. MAN What do you see? WOMAN A woman who looks like me is pulling me down a hallway. MAN Yes. Let her lead you. WOMAN (Moves about stage as though drawn by the hand. Reaches back curtain) I’ve come to a black wall. MAN Touch it. WOMAN It’s a curtain. A black curtain. MAN Deeper Maggie. Reach deeper. Look for the letter.
(Curtain falls) WOMAN The curtain has fallen….There is an audience….hundreds of grotesque faces staring at me….And, Oh God!, I’m naked and… they can all…read me! Help me! They’re looking through me! (Yell of terror) Help! (Swoons, MAN rushes to catch falling her) MAN Open your eyes, darling. Open them. (Pause. WOMAN awakes, stands) MAN Are you alright? WOMAN Yes. I’m fine now. MAN But what happened? WOMAN I found it, darling. I found it because you asked me to. MAN Found what? WOMAN The letter, Jonathan. The letter. MAN
Oh, yes…Where is it? WOMAN In the closet. MAN What closet? WOMAN (Pointing to closet; condescending laughter) That closet. What other closet could it be? MAN (Playing off the surprise) Ah! Yes! The closet, of course. (Goes to closet, opens door. Several bodies, along with papers and letters fall spread out onto the stage) MAN (Terrified) What the hell is this! WOMAN (Excited) Letters darling. Letters and messengers…and salesmen and actors, milkmen and tramps….and— MAN But these are real bodies! …Real dead bodies! You understand me? Real! WOMAN (Laughs) Of course they are, Jonathan. Don’t be silly fool.
MAN Now listen here! They’re all dead! Dead, do you hear me! WOMAN (Entertained) Oh, Jonathan… You really are— MAN Why do you keep calling me Jonathan? What is this? (Evades WOMAN’s attempts to embrace him) Who the hell do you think I am!? (Beat. MAN evades WOMAN, until she catches him, and wraps her arms around him. MAN lethargic) Who do you think I am? Who? (Finally cringes into a ball at center stage. Falls out of WOMAN arms. She bends down, kisses him on the forehead, then hugs him) WOMAN You’re the love of my life, darling…. The only one who stayed right here with me. (Black out)