by Elaine Romero
Setting: United States, a chair sits on a bare stage
Character: JOHN, an exceedingly attractive man
Originally performed with Old Pueblo Playwrights on Downtown Saturday Night in Tucson, Arizona. Jesse Greenburg played John. Elaine Romero directed.
We went out to lunch on the lake that afternoon. She’d had about three glasses of wine. She liked wine. I had promised her three weeks earlier that I would take her water-skiing. I hadn’t felt like going that day, but she’d insisted. So, we went out on the lake, and I guess she didn’t see the other boat. I don’t know. She was always joking about suicide.
She was a model. Didn’t eat right. Always fighting to stay pretty, like there was some ugliness deep inside her screaming to get out.
She was, also, a fake blonde. She was just always trying too hard. To please. (Short beat) Anyway, she hit one of the boats. Knocked her down first. Then, she went under…the boat. Killed instantly, I’m told. We tried to help her. Well, we did everything we could for someone who had been killed instantly. We called the ambulance. And then the police. I remember the crowd that gathered around to watch that “poor girl” I’d called my girlfriend. When the paramedics arrived, they simply took her away—”the body” as they referred to her. They took her corpse and left.
That night, I took Jed and went back to the restaurant. I was careful to sit at a different table. I watched the table where she and I had sat. I watched it all evening. No one got near it. It was like an invisible shrine that no one dared violate. I could still see her there, laughing, with a glass of wine in her hand, her dark roots protruding from her head.
Jed and I both ordered the special, filet of sole, with white wine, of course. Then, this woman, who had been sitting at the bar, came up to me and said, “You look lonely.” And I guess she was right, but I didn’t say anything. She gave me that look like she knew she could sit down. So, she did. And then she invited me back to her place. I thanked Jed promptly for covering our meal and I walked out with her.
Three days later, I married her. It just seemed like the thing to do. But Jean, that’s the one who got hit by the boat, her parents called. Actually, her mother. On the day of her funeral. And she had the gall to ask me why I didn’t come to the services. She was yelling and screaming and cussing. Anyway, her mother was calling me a killer, and a murderer, and a jerk. And I told her that I had been grieving, and I had…in the restaurant…for a few minutes when I’d flashed on Jean. But today was my wedding day. So could she please leave me alone? “You got married?” she asked. “Already? You married another girl?” I knew that she truly did not expect me to marry Jean, but I was sensitive enough not to state the obvious. Instead, I let her sit there, long-distance, on her nickel. Then, she said, and I tell you, I couldn’t believe it, “But I didn’t think you were the marrying type.” And I waited before answering because she was no idiot. And I finally said, “You know, you’re right. I’m not.”
The next day, I left my wife. Jean’s mother had convinced me she knew something pretty right. I haven’t seen my wife since. My wife didn’t even flinch when I told her I’d married her on a bad day. So, I guess, it was a new thing for me. Her not caring. So, I’ve spent these last eight months, looking for her, because there aren’t many women like that—who just don’t give a damn.
copyright © 2010 Elaine Romero. All rights reserved. ___________________________________________
Elaine Romero’s work has been developed, produced, and commissioned(*) by Goodman Theatre, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts*, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alley Theatre*, Magic Theatre*, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, InterAct Theatre Company*, Curious Theatre Company*, Kitchen Dog Theater*, Urban Stages, Women’s Project and Productions, Short+Sweet Festival, InspiraTo Festival. Sample publishers: Simon and Schuster, Samuel French, Vintage Books. She teaches at Northwestern University.