Plays

A collection of plays by Lee Thorn

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The Guru

A Play in Two Acts

Cast of Characters (casting note: Demographic plausibility probably demands that JAKE be
played by a white or Hispanic. Any of the other parts could be acted by a player of any race.)

Ed Kremski...........Large 50-year-old, over six feet and 200 lbs., thick of shoulders and
chest with a moderate beer gut. Hair short and graying. HE wears a T-shirt without a logo, tan shorts and flip-flops (shower sandals).

Robert Parsons.....Thin 22-year-old with short hair and a yellow-brown suit and matching
tie that fall just short of being gaudy.

Kevin....................Lively 14-year-old in fashionably baggy shirt and shorts and expensive
tennis shoes.

Jill........................Plumb 40-year-old with knee-length boots, a short skirt, lots of costume jewelry, a brightly colored beret on a mass of unruly hair, and a large
loud scarf over her blouse.

Gary.................... Slim 25-year-old elegantly dressed for a trendy night out.

Stacy....................Slim 25-year-old elegantly dressed for a trendy night out.

Jake......................Large fat 55-year-old in cowboy hat, boots and coat of western cut.

Alan......................Small portly balding 65-year-old in dark conservative suit and tie with
expensive briefcase.

Robby....................Slim 20-year-old with long hair and full beard wearing Hawaiian flower
shirt and no shoes.

Reporter.................Slim 25-year-old in sports coat, jeans, loafers, and no tie. HE carries
a notebook and camera.

ACT ONE

SETTING; The crowded living room of a small New York apartment. A large
shabby sofa faces downstage. There is a lamp on a lamp table
touching the stage-left arm of the sofa and a stuffed chair set at
right angles to the sofa just downstage of the lamp table. A
large metal desk overflowing with books and papers is stage
right of the sofa and there is barely enough room for a kitchen
chair between desk and sofa with the back of the chair touching
the arm of the sofa. Just downstage of the desk, facing the
stuffed chair, is an old portable television on a stand. All the
furniture is so crammed together that the smallness of the room
is suggested without the need of walls.

AT RISE; Mid-morning. ED KREMSKI is sitting in the stuffed chair with
a remote control device in his hand. He is watching and talking
to his television. He points the remote as one might a pistol
and changes channels as he speaks.

KREMSKI
(In announcer voice)
Yes, Floyd Cramer, distinctively slow piano style. Not sold in stores. You ask,
"Why is so much of this crap not sold in stores?" Perhaps the best magazine
ever. Certainly the best for selling Rolexes.

(A knock on an off-stage door behind the TV)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Calling)
Come in. It's open.

(ROBERT PARSONS enters tentatively.)

PARSONS
Ah, excuse me. Are you ah Mr. Kremski?

KREMSKI
Yup.

PARSONS
(Crossing to shake hands)
Hi. I'm Robert Parsons.

(Pause)

PARSONS (Continued)
Are you the Ed Kremski who runs the poetry workshop?

(PARSONS takes a few steps back after
handshake.)

KREMSKI
Yeah, I run a workshop.

PARSONS
I'd like to ah join it.

KREMSKI
I don't mean to be rude, Bob -- sit down -- but it's not open to the public.

(PARSONS sits on the side of the sofa closest to
the TV.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Where did you hear about it anyway?

PARSONS
Ah New Mexico. Albuquerque actually.

KREMSKI
(Disbelieving)
Right. You heard about a crummy little east side workshop in New Mexico.

(A flash of insight and mirth)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Millie sent you! That silly slut!

PARSONS
No, I really --

KREMSKI
Well, whosever joke it was, let's not draw it out indefinitely.

(Awkward pause)

PARSONS
(Clumsily taking folded papers from inside his suit
pocket)
I was hoping I could...I have some work here...I'd like to...I guess "audition" for
the workshop.

KREMSKI
No no no. Put that away.

(PARSONS jams papers back in his pocket.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
We don't hold auditions. Millie didn't send you?

PARSONS
No. Honest.

KREMSKI
We don't have any room for new people right now anyway. Plus, when we do
get an open seat, I'm going to fill it with somebody who can give us some
intelligent criticism. We're in danger of becoming a mutual admiration society.

PARSONS
I have a degree in English lit.

KREMSKI
We wouldn't necessarily hold that against you.

PARSONS
Could I criticize something?

KREMSKI
What do you mean?

PARSONS
Could you give me a poem and ah I could criticize it?

(A knock on the door)

KREMSKI
(Calling)
Come in.

(KEVIN enters and pauses just inside the door.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Hi Kevin. This is Bob. Kevin is our local delinquent.

PARSONS
Hi Kevin.

KEVIN
Hi Bob.

(Aware that he might be interrupting something. KEVIN
slowly crosses to stand near KREMSKI.)

KEVIN (Continues)
So what's going on?

KREMSKI
Bob's from New Mexico. He wants to get into the workshop.

KEVIN
(In a joking tone)
Easiest way to do that is to take off your clothes.

KREMSKI
(Reaching out to give KEVIN a playful shove)
Ignore this little pervert.

PARSONS
(After a brief pause)
Ah, about criticism.

KREMSKI
Oh, yeah.

KEVIN
Can I stick around?

KREMSKI
Sure, Kev. Get us some beers.

(KEVIN exits behind KREMSKI. During the following
speech we hear him open the refrigerator, clank bottles
together, close refrigerator, open utensil drawer, etc.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Okay, let's try this:

(KREMSKI recites from memory as if reading a
newspaper, except that he pronounces "virginity"
to rhyme with "try.")
Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime. We
could sit down, and think which way To walk, and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide Of Humber
would complain. I would Love you ten years before the flood, And you should,
if you please, refuse Till the conversion of the Jews. My vegetable love should
grow Vaster than empires and more slow; An hundred years should go to
praise Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze; Two hundred to adore each
breast, But thirty thousand to the rest; An age at least to every part, And the
last age should show your heart. For, lady, you deserve this state, Nor would
I love at lower rate But at my back I always hear Time's winged chariot
hurrying near; And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity. Thy
beauty shall no more be found; Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound My
echoing song; then worms shall try That long-preserved virginity, And your
quaint honor to dust, And into ashes all my lust: The grave's a fine and
private place, But none, I think, do there embrace. Now therefore, while the
youthful hue Sits on thy skin like morning dew, And while thy willing soul
transpires At every pore with instant fires, Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey, Rather at once our time devour Than
languish in his slow-chapped power. Let us roll all our strength and all Our
sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife Through
the iron gates of life: Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet
we will make him run.

(PARSONS mouths some of the phrases of the poem as
KREMSKI recites them. KEVIN returns about halfway
through the poem, awkwardly carrying a kitchen chair and
three bottles of beer. HE distributes the beer and seats
himself on the chair just downstage and a little behind
KREMSKI as the recitation ends.)

PARSONS
Well of course I'm very familiar with Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress."

KREMSKI
So tell us about it.

PARSONS
(Automatically)
Well of course it's a very great poem.

KREMSKI
(Annoyed)
C'mon. This ain't fuckin' high school. What's so great about it.

PARSONS
(Nonplussed)
It's been around a couple hundred years.

KREMSKI
So's bad breath. So what?

PARSONS
I'm not sure where to start.

KREMSKI
Wherever you like.

(Pause)

KREMSKI (Continued)
What kind of discourse is it?

(Pause)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Description? Narration? Exposition?

PARSONS
(Concentrating intently to answer KREMSKI's questions
causes PARSONS to wiggle and jerk a bit.)
Ah...argument. It's argument!

KREMSKI
If it's an argument, what's its thesis?

PARSONS
Carpe diem!

KREMSKI
Seize the day and do what with it?

(KEVIN is following the conversation like a tennis fan,
looking back and forth at the players.)

PARSONS
Make love.

KREMSKI
So does the argument work?

(Pause)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Does she drop her drawers for him?

PARSONS
Ah, I don't know.

KREMSKI
What do you think?

PARSONS
I never thought about it.

KREMSKI
You read an argument and don't think about whether it's effective?

PARSONS
Yeah. I guess that's pretty dumb of me. Okay, I don't think it worked.

KREMSKI
Why not?

PARSONS
I don't know.

KREMSKI
So this allegedly great poem is really a failed argument?

PARSONS
It could still be a great poem.

KREMSKI
How's that?

PARSONS

It ah let's the reader feel the intensity of the persona's need. The argument's
being a failure or a possible failure makes it even more poignant.

KREMSKI

Sounds reasonable.

(Kevin makes a fist and pulls it into his side in the tennis
players' gesture of triumph. PARSONS sees this signal
of encouragement while KREMSKI does not.)

KREMSKI (Continued)

Okay, what about tone?

PARSONS

Ah...

KREMSKI

My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires and more slow.

(The phone rings and KEVIN springs to the desk to answer it.)

KEVIN

Hello.

(Pauses to listen and then, covering the mouthpiece,
addresses KREMSKI.)

KEVIN (Continued)

It's Jill. She wants to come up and get your reaction to a poem before she
reads it at the workshop. What should I tell her?

KREMSKI

Doesn't much matter. Nothing you could say would stop her. She's probably
across the street.

KEVIN
(Into phone.)
He says, "Sure, come on up."

(KEVIN hangs up and returns to his chair.)

KREMSKI
(To PARSONS)
What about tone?

PARSONS
Ah...

KREMSKI
My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires and more slow.

PARSONS
Comic?

KREMSKI
Because?

PARSONS
Passionate vegetables?

KREMSKI
Good. then worms shall try That long-preserved virginity

PARSONS
God. I don't know. I guess, I guess morbid.

KREMSKI
And tear our pleasures with rough strife Through the iron gates of life

PARSONS
That's easy -- violent

KREMSKI
So what's going on here?

PARSONS
Ah...

KREMSKI
Look: you've got a short poem here with these abrupt changes in tone. What's
the deal?

PARSONS
You mean...

KREMSKI
Remember the thesis?

PARSONS
Sex now.

KREMSKI
So how do these fast tone changes serve it, deserve it, or whatever?

PARSONS
I don't know.

KREMSKI
So what did they tell you back in school when you became "very familiar" with
this poem?

PARSONS
They said it was a very great poem that had been around for a long time.

KREMSKI
I hope you didn't pay a lot of tuition for that.

PARSONS
I had scholarships.

KREMSKI
Good. Now what if someone put a gun to your head and told you you had to
come up with a plausible explanation of this puppy?

PARSONS
(Squirming in thought as he speaks)
Okay, okay, how's this? He tries to break the ice by being funny -- vegetable
love stuff, two hundred years to adore each breast stuff -- and that gets him
nowhere. Tries something else -- worms in vagina. Gets nowhere. Grosses
her out even. Nothing to lose, he plays the violence card, both grasping for
whatever might work -- she might have a kink in that direction -- and
implying that he's prepared to say whatever she might want to hear at the
same time.

KREMSKI
Interesting.

(KEVIN repeats his had signal of encouragement to
PARSONS. JILL knocks on the door.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Calling)
Come in.

(JILL enters and surveys the scene.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Hi Jill. This is Bob. He's a poet. Bob, Jill, also a poet.

JILL
Hi Bob. Hi Kevin.

PARSONS
Hi.

KEVIN
Hi.

JILL
(After a pause, in a loud but frightened voice)
I wanted to get your reaction to something. I guess I shouldn't have burst in
on you.

KREMSKI
(Easy friendly tone)
Why the hell not? You'll get three reactions for the price of one. How 'bout a
beer?

JILL
(Comfortable)
Do you have any herbal tea?

KREMSKI
Sorry. I'm fresh out of herbal tea. I' going to have to gather some more herbs.

(Pause)

KREMSKI (Continued)'
Well, you gonna sock it to us or what?

JILL
I don't know about this. I just wrote it. I --

KREMSKI
Stop torturing us with suspense.

JILL
(Takes a piece of paper from a large bag she's carrying. Sets
the bag down and draws herself up.)d
Here goes nothing.

KREMSKI
That title's already taken.

JILL
This doesn't have a title.

KREMSKI
Out with it.

JILL
Okay.

(She takes a deep breath.)

KREMSKI
Wait. We forgot the rock.

(KEVIN runs into the kitchen and comes back with a small
cardboard box that has "poetic rock" written with magic
marker on its side. He places the rock carefully in front of
JILL and hurries back to his seat. JILL puts one foot on the
box and strikes a poetic pose.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Hit it.

JILL
(Reading like an MFA student)
A bird just bumped the glass.
It sees out of one eye at a time.
It watches petty atrocities through windows.
It watched the unveiling
of hundreds of blue umbrellas
in Japan, and hundreds of yellow umbrellas
in California. I saw it clear sleep and glide
between the curvy statues in the park alone.
Used to skittering in the desert sand,
the bird's claws tangled with the grass.
I watched it murder sparrows
and seek the company of black swarms
of flies. It pecked the flies
and wished that they were people

(JILL lowers her paper and stands very still.)

KREMSKI
Well guys?

KEVIN
It's nice.

JILL
(Relieved)
Thank you, Kevin.

KREMSKI
I like the allusion to the visual arts. Bringing in another art form gives it
resonance. Ah --

JILL
But Ed hates it.

KREMSKI
Well, generally I don't know where it's going. It's random observations
with no direction, purpose, thrust. What do you want us to know about
this bird? Does it really commute from California to Japan? Is it an
imaginary bird? Is it a good or a bad bird?

(Pause)

KREMSKI (Continued)
More specifically, I like the first two lines. The bird bumping into a
window is a fresh way to start, but I'd change "sees out of " to "sees
with" and I doubt if it really sees with "one eye at a time" -- I know what
you mean but you're not quite saying it. The single worst thing --

JILL
(Fearfully)
Oh god.

KREMSKI
Sit down and relax, Jill.

(JILL collapses in a heap. KEVIN quickly exits and
comes back with a kitchen chair which he places
near JILL and she ignores.)

JILL
Oh god. Tell me the single worst thing. Oh god.

KREMSKI
The single worst thing is "petty atrocities." There's nothing in the poem
to justify that cutesy oxymoron. It's just in there to be cute and it costs
you your credibility.

(Pause)

KREMSKI (Continued)
which is all a poet has, that and her rhyming dictionary.

(JILL remains motionless and stares at KREMSKI.
PARSONS looks out in space to avoid looking at
anyone. KEVIN stares fixedly at the floor just in
front of his feet. KREMSKI looks around at the others
as if expecting a reply or rebuttal.)

KEVIN
(Quietly)
It's just two words.

KREMSKI
No, it's her credibility. A smaller thing is the change in point of view:
You start out with the bird does this, the bird does that. Then you go to
I saw the bird do that. It's not obvious how the I helps. It just reduces
the immediacy.

JILL
(While getting up with difficulty)
Let me try another one. Just one more.

KREMSKI
Why not save it for the workshop?

JILL
I don't know if I can go back there after the fool I made of myself last time.
Where's the john?

(KEVIN crosses, takes JILL's hand and leads her off.)

PARSONS
She seems upset.

KREMSKI
Typical poet. A lot of folks come to the workshop to get criticism and
when they get it their feelings are hurt.

(KEVIN returns on the last line.)

KEVIN
(Speaking to the floor)
Some guys criticize rougher than others.

(Knock on door)

KREMSKI
(Calling)
Come in.

(GARY and STACY enter.)

GARY
Greetings all. Stacy, this is our leader, Ed Kremski. Ed, Stacy
Kirkland.

KREMSKI
Nice to meet you. This guy's called Kevin and that one's Bob. Stacy
and Gary.

(Amid polite nods and murmurs, JILL bursts in
from the kitchen and, seeding GARY, cries out.)

JILL
Oh my god!

GARY
Jill! Getting a little private tutoring from the master?

JILL
(Scrambling for her bag)
Oh my god. I've got to go.

(She runs out and there's and awkward silence.)

KREMSKI
Bob here is thinking of joining the workshop.

GARY
Well don't be put off by Jill. We're not all that daffy.

PARSONS
I wasn't put off by her.

GARY
What did old Jill want?

KREMSKI
Just dropped in --

GARY
C'mon, Ed. I bet she laid one of her sweet little animal poems on you.

(Pause)

GARY (Continuing)
I mean they're really pretty awful, aren't they?

KREMSKI
(Repeating what is obviously an old saw)
We all have to write some bad poems if we ever want to get to the good
ones.

GARY
Well, we just popped in to kind of formally ask your permission for Stacy
to attend Wednesday's workshop.

KREMSKI
Sorry.

GARY
I mean just for that one night.

KREMSKI
No.

STACY
What would you do if I came without your permission?

KREMSKI
I'd ask you to leave.

STACY
And if I refused? If I told you to go stuff yourself?

KREMSKI
I'd leave.

GARY
Well, sorry to bother you. Guess we'd better be going.

KREMSKI
See you Wednesday.

GARY
Actually, I may not be making it Wednesday.

KREMSKI
We'll miss your input.

STACY
What will you miss most, his quaint heterosexual sensibility?

KREMSKI

 

Well that does help give us some balance.

GARY
(Leading STACY out before she can come up with a retort)
Later then.

(Exit GARY and STACY.)

KEVIN
Why do you put up with jerks like that?

KREMSKI
Never met Stacy. Gary helps keep the workshop from becoming a mutual
admiration society.

PARSONS
That's the second time you've used that phrase, mutual admiration society.
Do you have something against admiring poetry?

KREMSKI

"Admiring" sounds a little too distant to me. I love poetry, but that's not
what I started the workshop for. I started the workshop to work on poetry,
to get down to the most basic questions we can ask each other -- Why
did you say that? Why did you choose that specific word to say it? --
to get down and dirty. Forget about egos. Forget about whose feelings
you might hurt. Forget about admiring. Get down into the goddamn
engine of it and get your fucking hands dirty.

(The phone rings and KEVIN answers it.)

KEVIN
(Into phone)
Yeah, he's here, but he doesn't like to talk on the phone.

(To KREMSKI)
A guy from the TIMES wants to talk to you.

KREMSKI
What does he want?

KEVIN
(Into phone)
What do you want?

KEVIN (Continued)
Wants to interview you about the workshop.

KREMSKI
How does he know about the workshop?

KEVIN
(Into phone)
How do you know about the workshop?

(Pause to listen and then to KREMSKI)
He says everybody's talking about it.

KREMSKI
I'll be damned. My fifteen minutes of fame have finally started. Tell him
I'll talk to him for half an hour for a thousand bucks.

KEVIN
(Into phone)
He says he'll talk to you for half an hour for a thousand bucks.

(Pause to listen and then to KREMSKI)

KEVIN (Continued)
He says the TIMES doesn't pay for interviews.

(KREMSKI makes "the finger" with both hands
lifts them slowly into the air, twisting them
slightly as they rise to make them resemble
the liftoff of space shuttles.)

KEVIN (Continued)
(Into phone)
He says to fuck off.

KEVIN (Continued)
(To KREMSKI)
He hung up.

KREMSKI
My fifteen minutes of fame have been cruelly cut short. How about
getting us some more beers, Kev. I was famous once.

(Kevin exits to get beers.)

PARSONS

(Thoughtfully)
You know, I'm glad you didn't let me read my stuff.

KREMSKI
Why's that?

PARSONS
Well, just listening to you, I get a feeling for what you expect from poetry.

KREMSKI
Both barrels. What else?

PARSONS
Well, I guess I agree -- both barrels -- which leads me to the greatest
critical insight of my life: My stuff is shit.

(KEVIN returns with beer and distributes it.)

KREMSKI
Why's that?

PARSONS
It's all just poses, poses of the wan and the feckless.

KEVIN
Talk English.

PARSONS
What?

KEVIN
What's wand and freckless mean?

PARSONS
Why aren't you in school?

KREMSKI
Yeah. How do you expect to have a vocabulary if you never go to school?

KEVIN
You think they're going to tell me what wand and freckless mean?

KREMSKI
He has a point.

PARSONS
Wan, not wand, is kind of halfway between weak and sad.

KEVIN
Okay.

PARSONS
And feckless, not freckless, is ah hapless.

KEVIN
What's hapless?

PARSONS
Prone to misfortune.

KEVIN
Unlucky?

PARSONS
A little worse than that. And poses. Do you want to know what a pose it?

(PARSONS drapes himself across the back of the sofa.)

KEVIN
Are you queer?

PARSONS
(Angry)
No, I'm not queer. It's none of your business if I'm queer.

KEVIN
(Apologetically)
Nothing personal.

(Pause)

KREMSKI
I wouldn't knock that kind of poetry -- wan and feckless. It sells a hell of a
lot of Rolexes if you can judge by the glossies.

PARSONS
(Taking papers out of his coat and tearing them up.)
Oh I'm not knocking it. I'm just destroying it.

KREMSKI
Now what?

PARSONS
Now I'm going to try and write something with some honesty and -- I blush
to say it -- virility.

KREMSKI
Don't blame me for the virility. I'm a washed up old fag.

PARSONS
(Teasing)
Is that true, Kevin. Is he washed up?

KEVIN
That's what he tells me.

PARSONS
I thought you guys were lovers.

KEVIN
(Looking down)
I wish.

KREMSKI
I'm too old to be anyone's lover. I'd be ashamed to undress in front of
anybody.

KEVIN
Turn the lights off.

KREMSKI
How did anybody 14 ever get so twisted?

(Knock on door)

KREMSKI (Continued)
I've got to get a new place.

(Calling)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Come in.

(JAKE McKAY enters confidently.)

JAKE
Are you Mr. Kremski?

KREMSKI
Yup.

JAKE
I'm Jake McKay and I want to buy into the Kremski Poetry Group.

KREMSKI
The Kremski Poetry Group? Where did you hear about that?

JAKE
I got connections, nationwide, in the Chamber of Commerce.

KREMSKI
The Kremski Poetry Group is listed with the Chamber of Commerce?

JAKE
Well, hell, you're not officially. Any more than Solzhenitsyn was officially
listed with the Soviet Ministry of Culture.

(Lewd snicker)

JAKE (Continued)
But they sure as hell knew where to find him.

KREMSKI
You say you want to BUY your way in?

JAKE
Look, I don't claim to know the etiquette of your east coast literary
SAL-ons, but where I come from money talks.

KREMSKI
And you want to be a paying observer of the group.

JAKE
That's right.

KREMSKI
The fee for paying observers is six hundred dollars per session.

JAKE
(Digging into his pocket for a money clip0
Cash okay?

KREMSKI
Cash is fine.

JAKE
And how much would it be if I wanted to read some of my own poems?

KREMSKI
That'd be four hundred per session.

JAKE
So that totals out to a thousand.

KREMSKI
No. It's four hundred if you come with something of your own to read and
six hundred if you just come to listen.

JAKE
You're funnin' me.

KREMSKI
Nope.

JAKE
You're fer serious?

KREMSKI
Yup.

(JAKE crosses and gives money to KREMSKI.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
The next session is Wednesday at 7:30 in the Awareness Room of the
First Congregational on 43rd.

JAKE
Could you write that down for me?

KREMSKI
Kevin, could you write that down for Jake?

KEVIN
Nope.

KREMSKI
I guess you'll just have to try and remember it. Wednesday. Seven-thirty.
First Congregational.

JAKE
(Touching his hat in salute)
See you there, pardner.

(JAKE exits.)

KEVIN
(Quietly as he studies the floor)
Why did you take money from that guy?

KREMSKI
What a question!

KEVIN
Why?

KREMSKI
(Looking to PARSONS)
What a question?

PARSONS
Ah I'd like to know too.

KREMSKI
You guys would like to know why I took money from someone who traveled
all the way to my ridge in the Himalayas to bring me money?

PARSONS
(Embarrassed)
Well, ah I'd like to know.

KREMSKI
(Clearing his throat and tossing his head
slightly as if he had a mane to flourish)
You take money from some people because that's what they have
to give.

(Looks to each for a response)

KREMSKI (Continued)
I thought that had a ring to it.

KEVIN
(Brightening)
And you take sex from some people --

KREMSKI
(Playfully shoving him and going into a
Ronald Reagan accent)
There you go again.

(KREMSKI suddenly points at the TV which
has been running silently the whole time
and yells.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Look at that! That looks like Jill! Wasn't that Jill?

PARSONS
(Astonished)
They're not supposed to show that.

KEVIN
Why not?

PARSONS
Because it makes other people do it for the publicity.

KEVIN
Jesse.

KREMSKI
Was it Jill?

KEVIN
It was unless somebody stole her clothes in the last ten minutes.

PARSONS
I can't believe they showed a live jumper on TV.

KREMSKI
Maybe she didn't jump. Maybe she's still up there.

(He scrambles to the phone and dials 911.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Yes. This is Doctor Edward Kremski. I believe I just saw a patient of mine on
television standing on the ledge of a tall building. Are you aware of any
situation like that in progress?

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
I know they're not supposed to but they just did.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
' Look, there's no time for that. Put me through to the officer in charge.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
And if she jumps you're going to be spending the rest of your life explaining
your policy. I'M THE WOMAN'S DOCTOR! Put me through this instant!

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Yes, Sergeant Lopez, I'm Doctor Kremski.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Yes, psychiatrist.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Yes, I'm pretty sure I do if you follow my instructions exactly. EXACTLY,
Sergeant.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Tell her that Ed Kremski wants to talk to her on the phone. Do not say
"Doctor Kremski." That's important: she reacts very negatively to titles.
Just say, "Ed Kremski wants to talk to you on the phone."

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Right. And then, whatever she says in reply -- she might ask you to bring
the phone out to her of something -- WHATEVER she says, you just
repeat, "Ed Kremski wants to talk to you on the phone." Repeat it over
and over until she comes close enough for you to grab her.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
As many as it takes. You might have to repeat it ten or twenty times.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
It will work if you do it right. Now what are you going to say?

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Right. Just like that. Over and over. Whatever she says in response,
pretend you don't hear her and repeat the message. Got it?

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Okay, GO!

(Silence of a few moments during which the
actors are frozen in position. KREMSKI is
bent forward over the phone. KEVIN is
standing in a bent forward position also,
arms out and down, hands open as if
dribbling a basketball. PARSONS is holding
his arms mummy style and his knees are
tightly pressed together.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(In a casual tone)
Hi Jill.

(KEVIN does his triumphal tennis gesture as
above. PARSONS throws his hands up palms
skyward in a praise-the-lord gesture.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
We just now saw you on TV.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
' Yeah, Bob here said they weren't supposed to. Hard to get any privacy
these days.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
I guess everybody feels that way at times.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Don't apologize, Jill.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Well I don't happen to feel that you did make a fool of yourself at the
workshop or anyplace else, but what if you did? Everybody else does.
Human begins have a license to.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
So what if that's what Gary and Millie think?

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
' Well fuck 'em if that's how they feel.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Yeah, fuck 'em.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Now you're sounding better.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
That's better. That's exactly right -- fuck, them.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
I told them I was your psychiatrist. Best I could come up with on short
notice.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Look, Jill, you've been there before. You know the nicer you treat them the
sooner they let you have visitors.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
I for one.

(KEVIN's hand shoots up.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
And Kevin says he wants to come.

(PARSONS raises his hand.)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
And Bob, the new guy, says he wants to come.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Yeah. Well, to state the obvious, because I love you and I value you as a
friend and as an artistic colleague.

(Pause to listen)

KREMSKI (Continued)
(Into phone)
Me too. And you've got nothing to apologize for. And behave yourself so
we can see you soon. Okay. Bye.

(KREMSKI slowly hangs up and resumes his
seat in a pensive mood.)

PARSONS
(In a perfectly flat tone)
You saved her life.

KREMSKI
Yeah, For the week anyway.

KEVIN
You were great! How did you know all that stuff?

KREMSKI
(Coming to himself, amused now)
I didn't. I was just pulling it out of my ass.

KEVIN
You just made it up as you went?

KREMSKI
Didn't have time to go to the library.

KEVIN
Jeez.

PARSONS
What about the valuable friend and colleague?

KREMSKI
What about it?

PARSONS
Is it true? Is she your valued friend and colleague?

KREMSKI
Sure.

PARSONS
(With escalating meanness)
Would you have said it anyway, in the circumstances, if she wasn't, if you
really thought she was just a silly ridiculous woman who wrote nothing but
junk?

KREMSKI
What do you think, Kev? Would I have told her she was a valued friend and
colleague if I thought she was -- what was it?

PARSONS
(Meanness continuing to escalate)
A fat old demented ridiculous pathetic woman who would never on her best
day on this earth write anything but the most despicable drivel.

KREMSKI
(Ignoring PARSONS' tone)
What do you think, Kev?

KEVIN
Do I think you'd have lied to her just now?

KREMSKI
Yeah. Bob wants to know would I have lied to her just to spare her feelings.

KEVIN
(Pauses to think and then smiles.)
I think you'd have lied to her big time.

KREMSKI
(Looks sternly at PARSONS and then
KEVIN as he tries to contain his rising
mirth.)
Fuck yes I would have.

(KEVIN leaps to hug KREMSKI and
speaks as he moves.)

KEVIN
God, I loved you!

BLACKOUT

CURTAIN

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ACT TWO

SETTING: A Sunday school room of a liberal Protestant church.
Colorful posters made by young children lining the
walls, some painted and some made with cut out
letters, proclaim liberal religious sentiments. Two
eight-foot banquet tables, the kind with folding legs
that churches and caterers use, have been set side
by side in the center of the room. Folding chairs
surround the tables.

AT RISE; The room is brightly lighted,,empty and dead quiet.

(JILL sweeps in via the only door, stage right, and closes it with a
flourish before turning to see that she's alone in the room. Except
for changes in the colors of her garments, her costume is the same
as in ACT ONE. She opens the door, looks out, then thoughtfully
closes it again. She looks at her watch and then stares into the room.
After a moment in which people fail to materialize before her gaze, she
moves decisively to a chair in the center of the table, sets her large
cloth bag on the table, sits down lightly and begins to rummage through
her bag. Suddenly, she throws everything back into the bag, picks it
up, tucks it under her arm like an oversized football, and runs out the
door without closing it. Shortly thereafter KEVIN enters carrying a
large cold drink container and dressed approximately as he was in
ACT ONE. He saunters to the seat JILL sat in and sits with an air of
boredom. Almost instantly JILL sweeps in and once again closes
the door with a flourish before turning to "discover" KEVIN.)

JILL
Kevin, you're here.

KEVIN
(Friendly)
Hi Jill. I'm always here.

JILL
I mean you're here already.

KEVIN
Yup.

JILL
May I sit next to you?

KEVIN
(Teasing)
Wellllll okay.

JILL
(Seating herself and speaking comfortably)
You're my friend.

KEVIN
Yup.

JILL
(Conspiratorially)
What have they been saying about me?

KEVIN
Who?

JILL
Everybody.

KEVIN
Nothing to me.

JILL
You wouldn't lie to me.

KEVIN
Nope.

JILL
What has he said?

KEVIN
He never says anything about workshop people unless I ask him a
question like why he puts up with Gary.

JILL
Are you going to sit there with your cute little face hanging out and tell
me he hasn't said one single word about me?

KEVIN
(Teasing)
Wellllll --

JILL
What? What did he say?

KEVIN
(Teasing)
I don't know if I should say --

JILL
(Snapping)
Kevin, don't be a little shithead.

KEVIN
Well it was just because I asked him --

JILL
What?

KEVIN
I asked him why everybody was so hard on you.

JILL
(Aghast)
Why did you ask him that?

KEVIN
Because I wanted to know.

JILL
What did he say?

KEVIN
(Teasing)
Wellllll --

JILL
(Calmly)
Kevin, I'll kill you.

KEVIN
Actually, it was kind of funny. He said, "They're mostly jealous of her
passion."

JILL
(Amazed)
He said that? That's beautiful! What's funny about that?

KEVIN
(Merrily)
Then he said, "But they SHOULD he hard on her. There's more to art
than just passion. If all you want to see is passion, you can watch
some fucking dogs fuck in some fucking alley."

JILL
(Distressed)
Oh god.

KEVIN
That's not bad.

JILL
You think?

KEVIN
You should hear what he says about guys that don't come to the
workshop.

JILL
Who? What?

KEVIN
Let's see. A guy named Shelly, I think.

JILL
Who else?

KEVIN
You know this Shelly?

JILL
Of course I know him. Kevin, do you even like poetry?

KEVIN
(The first sentence is a surprised snort.)
Hell no! Don't tell him that.

JILL
Then why come to this?

KEVIN
Guess.

JILL
I've been meaning to talk to you about that. I know it's none of my
business. I know that you really admire him, and you want to
please him, but is it really, you know, are you sure it's ah romantic
or mightn't it be just -- I don't know -- something like hero worship?

KEVIN
(After some thought)
I don't know how it is with ladies, but with guys there's a definite thing
that lets you know --

JILL
(Not wanting to hear more)
Okay, okay. I take your point --

(An involuntary laugh that is partially stifled
making it sound something like a bark)

JILL (Continued)
so to speak. Kevin, you're too damn grown up. I mean you don't have
any childish interests.

KEVIN
I do so.

JILL
What?

KEVIN
Well, for one thing, I enjoy masturbating.

JILL
(Through laughter)
Oh god. Oh god, you're so sweet and so DIRTY.

KEVIN
(Striking a noble pose and a formal tone)
Thank you.

JILL
(Recovering from laughing)
Kevin, you are sweet. I worry about you.

KEVIN
'Cause why?

JILL
You're so dirty.

KEVIN
So?

JILL
Oh, I don't know.

KEVIN
(After a pause)
It's nice to have someone who worries about me.

JILL
(Rushing to KEVIN and hugging him)
Oh Kevin, you're my friend.

KEVIN
(Happily returning her hug)
Yup.

(The door opens slowly, as if someone
were listening behind it, and then PARSONS
cautiously enters. He is dressed as he was
in ACT ONE. He moves so quietly that
JILL and KEVIN don't immediately notice him.)

JILL
Robert!

PARSONS
(Shyly)
Hi guys.

KEVIN
Hi.

JILL
Robert! I TOLD you he'd relent and invite you.

ROBERT
Well ah so far you're wrong.

JILL
He didn't invite you?

PARSONS
Ah no.

(PARSONS looks around, trying to decide which seat
to take. He pulls one out tentatively and then pushes
it back. Then he walks resolutely to the chair farthest
from the door and sits down. He takes some folded
papers from his inner coat pocket and smoothes them
out in front of him, looks at them intently, then
hurriedly returns them to his pocket.)

JILL
Well he didn't say that you COULDN'T come, did he?

PARSONS
(Glumly)
No. I just decided to come. Now I'm thinking it wasn't such a great idea.

KEVIN
We'll protect you if he gets nasty.

PARSONS
Will you?

JILL
Sure. We'll shout him down. We'll throw our notebooks at him. Won 't
we Kevin?

KEVIN
Yeah.

(ALAN enters and briskly approaches JILL who stands
to greet him. He quickly sets his briefcase down, takes
both her hands in his and kisses her cheek.)

ALAN
(Friendly but a little formally)
So good to have you back.

(They smile into each other's eyes for a long moment.)

JILL
Thanks Alan.

ALAN
(To Kevin)
Give me five, young sir.

(ALAN puts a hand out, palm up, and, seeing KEVIN
wind up to hit it hard, he closes his eyes and winces.
KEVIN just taps it lightly to ALAN's great relief and
ALAN proceeds to a seat next to PARSONS.)

JILL
Alan, you haven't met Robert.

ALAN
(Offering his hand to PARSONS)
Alan Smith.

PARSONS
Hi. I'm Robert Parsons.

ALAN
A new member of the workshop?

PARSONS
Well ah not exactly.

(ROBBY enters and walks quickly to a seat without
looking at anyone. Once seated he stares at the table
just in front of him.)

KEVIN
(Friendly)
Yo, Robby.

ROBBY
(Answering without looking up in a voice that croaks
from disuse)
Yo, Kev. Yo everybody body.

(A drunken STACY lurches in and shouts back through
the door behind her. Once again she is dressed in chic
after-six style.)

STACY
And keep your god damn hands off me.

(GARY follows, dressed to match STACY. He's tipsy
and trying to appear dignified. He walks past STACY
casting a disapproving eye on her awkward stance and
proceeds stiffly to a seat. STACY draws herself up to
mock his drunken dignity and goes to the seat beside
him. She looks at GARY and thrusts her chin into the
air before regally seating herself. JAKE, dressed as in
ACT ONE, and a REPORTER reach the door at the
same time, each asking to be excused and gesturing
for the other to enter first. They find seats amid
several quiet "Hi"s and "How ya doin'"s. There''s a
little indistinct murmuring and then the room becomes
very quiet. Two or three people consult their watches.
Everyone arrangers, reads shuffles and makes notes on
loose papers. The scene, though silent, resembles that
of an orchestra tuning up. KREMSKI enters dressed
as in ACT ONE and no one seems to notice him except
for the REPORTER who looks up and smiles timidly
as KREMSKI settles himself into a seat.)

KREMSKI
(Rather abruptly to REPORTER)
Who are you?

REPORTER
(Startled)
Wha I'm from the NEWS. I --

KREMSKI
(Unfriendly)
This is a private meeting.

REPORTER
(Fully recovered)
Are you Mr. Kremski then?

KREMSKI
No.

(Indicating JAKE)

KREMSKI (Continued)
That's Mr. Kremski. I'm the group's sergeant-at-arms.

REPORTER
You don't appear to be armed.

KREMSKI
I don't think Mr. Kremski would mind your taking a picture of him before
you go. Would you Ed?

JAKE
I'd be my pleasure.

(An awkward, motionless silence)

JAKE (Continued)
Don't you want to take my picture, son? Ain't that why you brought your
camera?

(The REPORTER reluctantly prepares to photograph
JAKE who takes his hat off and holds it above his
head as if riding in a rodeo parade.)

KREMSKI
(To JAKE)
Say "kobasa."

JAKE
(Smiling broadly)
Kobasa.

(The REPORTER takes a few pictures from slightly
different distances and angles and JAKE says
"kobasa" for each one. Then the REPORTER
resumes his seat; JAKE puts his hat back on
and both look to KREMSKI.)

KREMSKI
(To REPORTER)
Goodbye, young man.

REPORTER
(Confidently)
I think I should stay.

(KREMSKI jumps to his feet and his thighs hit
and knock over one of the tables sending papers
etc. flying.)
KREMSKI
(Bellowing as he approaches the table still standing
and separating him from the REPORTER)
YOU WANT TROUBLE?

(As KREMSKI starts to climb over the table that
separates him from the REPORTER, the REPORTER
moves behind his chair and cowers there and
everyone else but PARSONS and STACY reach
out ineffectually for KREMSKI saying, in horrified
tones, "No Igor. Stop Igor. Don't kill. Don't kill."
KREMSKI seems both enraged by the intruder
and confused by the chorus of pleas, but his
rage prevails and he continue toward the REPORTER.
Seeing all this, the REPORTER bolts for Hie door
and escapes before KREMSKI can get his hands on
him. Someone lightly springs up to shut and door
and there is a moment of frozen listening with all
eyes on the door. After that silent moment, the
room erupts in laughter. JAKE laughs loudly and
slaps his thigh, his laughter punctuated with phrases
like, "Igor you devil" and "Don't kill, Igor. Don't kill."
JILL is a one-woman orgy of laughter with occasional
shrieks of "Oh my god!" KREMSKI's laughter comes
in waves that seem to weaken him and he wipes his
eyes with his hands between spasms. ROBBY's
head rests on one arm on the table. His other arm
is sprawled before him and it rises from the elbow
and comes down in a regular rhythm with palm
slapping table in slow time. His shoulders heave
as if he were sobbing and the squeaky sounds he
emits might be sobs if they weren't so high pitched.
KEVIN laughs gently while shaking his head at the
unbridled silliness of his elders. GARY's horselaugh
is showy and put on. STACY and PARSONS, the
only two left out of the gag, first look at each other
and then laugh moderately, amused but also left
out. ALAN's laughter is like KEVIN's, as much a
response to his colleagues as it is to the joke.
The laughter subsides and ROBBY's rhythmic table
slapping slows to a halt. The group then sets to
work picking up the table and everyone's papers.
The papers are handed back and forth with questions
like, "Is this one yours?" Finally, they all get settled
back into their places.)

KREMSKI
Can we get on with it now?

STACY
(She raises her hand but KREMSKI ignores it.)

Sir? Sir, is this the point at which the lowly may ask general aesthetic
questions of the maestro?

(KREMSKI looks at his papers as if he hasn't heard her.)

STACY (Continued)
I would like to know, specifically, what the maestro thinks of the aesthetics
of a sexual relationship between a 50-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy.

JAKE
(Incredulous)
What?

KEVIN
I'd like to know that two.

(KREMSKI doesn't seem to hear.)

PARSONS
(Gently trying to be helpful)
Ed, maybe the quickest way through this is...

(Slicing the air in front of his face with a vertical hand)

PARSONS (Continued)
ah, you know, ah right through the middle.

KREMSKI
(Looking up from his papers and then around at the
group)
Fourteen to fifty doesn't work for me."

KEVIN
(Jumping on it)
Why not?

KREMSKI
It's just too asymmetrical.

STACY
Aesthetically speaking.

KREMSKI
That was your question, wasn't it?

STACY
Of course. Jesus I'm drunk. I'm not even sure if this is a dream or --

JILL
(Really angry)
Fa fa fa FUCK the aesthetics. Fuck the aesthetics of it. What about
the MORALITY of it?

KREMSKI
I don't see any moral implications of people consensually rubbing their
body parts together.

KEVIN
What about this? Did you guys know that the age of consent in Holland
is twelve?

KREMSKI
(Laughing)
The mind BOGGLES!

KEVIN
(Disappointed)
No help, huh?

GARY
That's for normal sex. You can't legally consent to sodomy at any age.

KEVIN
(Gullibly)
Are you sure?

GARY
Of course I'm sure. For god's sake, think about it.

KREMSKI
Now that we've all thought about it, can we move on to business?

ALAN
(Raising a finger as if to test the wind)
I must, if I may, I really feel I have to say something unrelated to poetry
here. Ed?

KREMSKI
Fine by me.

ALAN
Thank you. As some of you know, I lived in Amsterdam for
approximately 42 months, more or less, and no Kevin, I did not have
sex with anyone there. But as to the law, Gary is, as usual when he
pretends to treat with matters of objective, verifiable fact, completely
and utterly full of shit.

KEVIN
(An outburst)
All right! Thanks Alan.

GARY
Yeah, thanks for not sugar coating it, Alan.

ALAN
I'm sorry, Ed, for departing from our purpose, but I just felt I had to
inject that germ of reality.

KREMSKI
Hey, that's fine by me. Kevin thanks you. Gary thanks you. We all
doubtlessly benefit from the --

STACY
I've got to go to the little girls' room and piss like a Russian racehorse.

(STACY stands with difficulty.)

JILL
(Going to STACY's aid)
I'm going with her.

GARY
When you say you're GOING with her --

ROBBY
(Putting his head back down)
Oh Jesus.

JILL
(As she exits supporting STACY)
Ed, promise you won't start till we get back.

KREMSKI
It's pretty obvious to me that I don't have whatever it takes to get this
group started.

JILL
Promise.

KREMSKI
I promise you the superfluous promise and swear you an equally
superfluous oath and declare my most solemn --

(He stops as the door shuts behind JILL
and STACY.)

JAKE
Now that the girls are gone I'd like to bring something personal up.

KREMSKI
(Conspiratorially)
Yeah. You wouldn't want to say something personal in front of Stacy
or Jill.

JAKE
Seriously, Ed.

KREMSKI
Okay.

JAKE
You know I like to come straight out with things.

KREMSKI
Right.

JAKE
Well, I know that Jill worships the ground you walk on.

GARY
As do we all.

JAKE
But, well --

KREMSKI
Straight out.

JAKE
I'm interested in her.

KREMSKI
And?

JAKE
And, you know, I --

KREMSKI
Straight out.

JAKE
I thought I'd better tell you about it.

(Pause)

KREMSKI
That's fine with me. I hope you'll be very happy together.

JAKE
Fer serious? No hard feelings?

GARY
That's exactly right. Ed has absolutely no hard feelings concerning
Jill. That's because Ed is queer, you dumb --

(GARY stops himself.)

JAKE
(Quietly menacing)
Dumb what?

KEVIN
He was going to say dumb son-of-a-bitch.

GARY
Thanks, Kevin.

JAKE
Tell;me just one think, Ed. Why in the name of heaven do you put up
with the likes of Gary?

KREMSKI
I don't put up with him. I don't put up with you, or anybody. I'm just
trying to share the planet with you all.

JAKE
Just hard to figure how a fine, fiery heifer like that hasn't been corralled.

KREMSKI
She's been corralled three or four times. She just keeps bustin' out.

JAKE
Well she doesn't stand a chance with --

(A short sharp creak is heard from above and a
single acoustic tile comes floating down. All
eyes turn upwards.)

JAKE (Continued)
What the --

(A longer, louder creak is heard. Two more
tiles and some dust come down. Then, almost
immediately, a very loud ripping sound is heard
and the REPORTER falls into the room along
with a cloud of debris. All hands go up to break
his fall but it's KEVIN who effectively gets under
him and cushions the descent. Both KEVIN
and the REPORTER hit the floor. Someone
helps KEVIN up and he's obviously unhurt.
When they try to help the REPORTER up he
screams out in pain.)

JAKE
He's broke somethin'. Better call 911.

REPORTER
No! I'll lose my job! No 911!

(JAKE kneels to examine the REPORTER who
has managed to raise himself to his elbows.)

JAKE
Let me take a look at you, son. I'm a cowboy expert on broke bones due
to precipitous vertical descents.

(JAKE quickly and gently examines the
REPORTER.)

JAKE (Continued)
You ain't broke, son. You're just a little crumpled up and tenderized.
Let's see if we can get you into a chair here.

(JAKE and KEVIN gingerly lift the REPORTER
into a chair. The REPORTER's face betrays
considerable pain but he manages to stifle any
outcry.)

JAKE
Okay there, how you feelin' now, cowboy?

(The REPORTER moves his mouth to speak
but hasn't the wind to make words.)

JAKE (Continued)
Just a mite winded, huh?

(The REPORTER carefully nods.)

JAKE (Continued)
Well, as head wrangler of this here poetry outfit, poetry workshop, with
the powers vested in me by my fellow poets, I deem you worthy to
remain for the entirety of our official proceedings. Igor?

KREMSKI
Igor no kill?

JAKE
(As to a child)
That's just exactly right. Igor no kill.

(STACY and JILL return. They are surprised
to see the REPORTER and cross to him for
a closer look.)

STACY
(Examining him at close range)
Who is this dirty angle. Whence cometh he?

GARY
He just dropped in.

(All groan, including the REPORTER.)

STACY
Wasn't that the reporter?

JILL
Oh my god, the reporter, a little the worse for wear.

STACY
(To no one in particular)
Good. I just assumed that he must be another of your pretty young
faggots.

JAKE
I'd like to know why you're so all fired interested in everybody's
sexual whatdayacallit.

STACY
(Distractedly, still looking at the REPORTER)
Sexual orientation.

JAKE
Well?

STACY
(Coming to herself)
To be perfectly frank, I suppose it's because I can't seem to get
enough sex.

JAKE
(Abashed)
I had to ask.

STACY
Of course I'm dating Gary who --

GARY
Leave me out of it!

STACY
(Holds GARY in her disinterested glance
for a moment.)
who can screw you to a fare thee well when he's a mind to --

GARY
LEAVE ME OUT OF IT!

STACY
(Brushing off gesture with one hand)
But who really wishes he were queer so he could be creative and
passionate and profound.

GARY
(Almost angrily)
I wish I were queer so I didn't know bitches like you.

(KREMSKI picks up his papers and stands.)

GARY (Continued)
Ed, where you going?

KREMSKI
Home.

GARY
Wait a second. I've got a special surprise for everyone. Please.

(KREMSKI sits down resignedly. GARY
draws a toy pistol from under his coat
and pretends to chamber a round.)

JAKE
What the --

GARY
I'm about to demonstrate to you all that I DO have passion. I
concede that I don't happen to have the talent to turn that very
real passion into poetry.

ALAN
You're a very able critic.

GARY
(With dignity)
I thank you, Alan.

PARSONS
C'mon man.

GARY
(Mocking)
C'mon man. C'mon maaaaan. Very articulate. Very persuasive.

JILL
Gary, please.

GARY
Please what? You don't even know who it is that I plan to shoot. I
may even be planning to shoot myself. How would that be for
critical commentary?

KREMSKI
(Resignedly)
Is this going to take a long time?

(GARY points the gun at several people,
ending with the battered but still terrified
REPORTER. He then turns it at his own
head and pulls the trigger. There is a
small cap bang and a sign with "BANG"
comes slowly out of the muzzle. GARY
has to give the gun a shake to get the
sign completely unfurled.)

JAKE
(Sadly)
Not funny.

GARY
(Sadly)
I know.

(GARY puts his head on his arms on the
table. There is a long silence during which
GARY slowly, quietly starts to sob.
ROBBY, assuming a patient and dutiful air,
gets up, walks over to GARY and starts to
tickle him. GARY pushes ROBBY away
but ROBBY persists until GARY starts to
laugh and then everyone but the REPORTER
is laughing. The REPORTER is searching
the faces of the company, but trying not to
be rude about it. KREMSKI again collects.
his papers and stands to leave.)

PARSONS
(Almost angrily)
C'mon, Ed, cut us some slack.

(KREMSKI sits back down. Things quiet
down.)

KEVIN
(To KREMSKI)
What about FIFTEEN and fifty?

KREMSKI
That sounds a little more plausible.

KEVIN
(With triumphant tennis gesture of ACT ONE)
Yes!

GARY
(Completely recovered)
Aren't we being a wee bit arbitrary?

KEVIN
(Viciously in his face)
Shut up!

KREMSKI
He's got a point, Kev. Fourteen, fifteen, what's the difference?

ALAN
Rubbish! I deplore the arbitrary as much as the next reasoning
individual, but I know of no system of thought, aesthetic or otherwise,
that doesn't at some point rely on the arbitrary. Name a system
and I'll be happy to demonstrate my contention.

GARY
I can't refute that off the top of my head. I'll have to take it under
advisement.

KEVIN
Why don't you just shut up?

STACY
(Sweet reasonableness)
I believe that Kevin has an excellent point. Why don't you just shut
up and mind your own fucking business?

KREMSKI
People, if I may, I came here for a poetry workshop. If one doesn't
start right now, I'm going home.

(Dead silence)

KREMSKI (Continued)
Jill, you're up.

JILL
(Official announcement)
I should confess that I read this to Ed at his place and already got
his criticism on it and reworked it extensively on the basis of that.
And also --

KREMSKI
You gonna sock it to us or what?

JILL
(Making a hurried note on her paper)
I don't know about this. I just reworked it. I --

KREMSKI
Stop torturing us with suspense.

JILL
Maybe I should stand up for this one. I don't usually --

KREMSKI
By all means.

JILL
(Standing)
This still doesn't have a title.

KREMSKI
Out with it.

JILL
(Reading like an MFA student)
A bird just bumped the glass.
It sees in two directions at a time.

BLACKOUT

CURTAIN

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