3 FEMALE / 0 MALE
MARGARET, a cardiologist’s wife (F-late 30s)
GWEN, a cardiologist’s mistress (F-30s)
CONNIE CALLARD, an adoption agent (F-20s)
The entire play takes place on the lower story of Margaret & Leland’s upscale, Washington D.C. condominium: a living room with attached kitchenette. Sliding glass doors run along the back wall of the condo, opening onto a spacious patio; while most of the patio cannot be seen, one might consider placing a few potted plants behind the glass to remind the audience of what lies beyond. A front door opens at stage right. The living room is furnished in the modernist style (sofa, coffee table, Barcelona chairs, end table with lamp and telephone), but the space appears cold and austere, with few personal effects. It should mirror the state of Margaret and Leland’s marriage. In one corner of the living room, a framed painting conceals a wall safe; alternatively, a free-standing safe is visible. The kitchenette appears immaculately clean and well-ordered, as pristine as a model kitchen in a showroom. As the play progresses, the condo slowly descends into chaos.
(Curtain rises: It is mid-afternoon. Gwen appears outside the sliding doors in a trench coat, carrying an oversized handbag, appearing both sexually alluring and world-weary—the sort of woman who has been around the block so many times, she has worn down the pavement. Gwen knocks on the glass. She waits, but nobody answers. She peers into the condo, holding her hand above her eyes like a visor. Then she tries the lock. Finally, she picks up a nearby shovel and bashes a hole in the glass, reaches inside and unlocks the door. She turns on the table lamps and admires the condo. Next, she enters the kitchen and rummages through the drawers until she finds a scissors. She leaves the drawers open and uses the scissors to sever the telephone lines in both the kitchen and living room. She looks at her watch, visibly impatient. Finally, she rifles through the refrigerator/freezer and removes a pint-sized container of ice cream. When she opens the lid to serve herself, jewelry pours out of the container. No ice cream! She returns to the refrigerator/freezer several times and removes additional food packages (a box of popsicles, a carton of cereal), but each contains only more jewelry. Gwen is glaring at the jewelry with mounting hunger and frustration when Margaret enters the condo through the front door. Margaret is the quintessential suburban matron, deeply concerned with appearances; her body clings desperately to its last vestiges of youth, while her soul is already well-entrenched in middle-age. All that Margaret’s tableau lacks is a child following at her heels. Or possibly five. At first, Margaret does not notice Gwen. She removes her jacket and hangs it on a hook. When she does see Gwen, she tries to mask her concern.)
May I help you with something?
You’re out of ice cream.
Let me try that again: Who are you and what are you doing in my kitchen?
Is that any way to treat a guest? Honestly, the least you could do is offer me a snack….
Do I know you?
That’s beside the point, isn’t it? You have a house guest on the brink of keeling over from starvation. Most people would find me something to eat.
You’re not my guest. You have to be invited to be a guest. If you were a guest—
—I’d settle for a blueberry muffin and a cup of tea—
If you were a guest—someone I had invited into my home—I would certainly offer you a snack….a cup of tea, or even a cocktail, and an assortment of Italian pastries, and I’d ask after our mutual friends and acquaintances. But we don’t have any mutual friends and acquaintances, because you’re not my guest, because I don’t know you….Do I?
If you were my guest, I’d certainly offer you something.
My husband didn’t bring you back here, did he?
Leland! Goddamit, Leland! Get your philandering ass our here and explain yourself.
I’m all alone….And for the record, if you were my guest, I wouldn’t start accusing you of things before I’d even offered you a cup of tea and a blueberry muffin.
I’ll bear that in mind. Now kindly explain what you’re doing here.
You should be thankful I’m not a burglar. Who still hides jewelry in the freezer? This is the twenty-first century. If I were a thief, that’s the first place I’d look.
Who would want these old things anyway? They’re paste—every last one. Not worth a pint of ice cream.
Then why hide them in the freezer?
Why hide them in the freezer….? I’m afraid that’s none of your business….Now you have exactly ten seconds to account for your presence in my house or I’m going to telephone the police. Am I making myself clear?
You wouldn’t believe how famished I am. I always get hungry when I’m nervous. Do you really have Italian pastries?
haphazardly onto the countertop. She finds additional
valuables—maybe gold watches, silver candlesticks, even
For Chirst’s sake, this is not a soup kitchen. Could you please stop making a mess of my things? I’m expecting company.
cartons as Gwen continues to empty the cabinets.)
We had the cleaning lady in this morning….And now everything’s ruined! Ruined!
up with Gwen’s plundering .)
Goddammit! Would you mind telling me how you got in here?
I picked the lock….
So you are a burglar!
Please calm down. I’m sorry about the door….
Do you know how much those panes cost? That’s Italian glass!
You don’t even have any crackers or canned fruit. What would you do in an emergency? If you were trapped here during an influenza pandemic or a nuclear attack. How would you eat?
This really is too much. My husband will be home soon….
I thought you were going to phone the police.
He’s a large man—a large, muscular man who always carries a concealed handgun…..
There’s no point in lying to me, Margaret. You’re a terrible liar.
You’re forcing my hand…..Ten…Nine…Eight….
(Margaret reaches for the telephone; she attempts
desperately to secure a dial tone.)
Don’t bother. I already cut the lines.
It’s not a big deal. They do it all the time in movies.
Very well. There’s a donut shop on the corner…..I’m going to go get the police….
(Margaret retrieves her jacket.)
I thought you were expecting company.
(Margaret realizes that if she leaves the apartment, she
may miss her visitor. She returns the jacket to the hook.)
What do you want from me?
From you? Nothing. But I do have bad news for you, Margaret….
What sort of bad news? And how do you know my name?
Very bad news. Do you really want to know the truth?
If it means that you’ll leave before my visitor shows up.
Brace yourself for this….I’m your sister.
No, really. I was born the year after you, but our mother couldn’t handle two babies, so she put me up for adoption…..
That is complete and total bullshit.
Listen to me, Margaret Claypool….Whether you like it or not, I’m your long lost baby sister and I tracked you down because I was recently diagnosed with a rare, often fatal genetic illness, and the odds are that you’re suffering from it too….I felt a duty—a familial obligation—to warn you.
I need to sit down.
I’m feeling a bit dizzy.
Can I offer you a cocktail or an Italian pastry?
You’re really my sister?
No. That was complete bullshit. I just made that up to frighten you.
Enough already! I don’t know who you are or what you want, but my husband will be here at any moment, and he’s a “shoot now and ask questions later” kind of guy.
Leland? Leland couldn’t shoot a wild boar if it attacked him in his own bed. He’s far too indecisive….
Since when are you an authority on my husband?
I’m his mistress.
Nonsense!….My husband is as faithful as a sheepdog.
A moment ago he was a philandering ass.
That was just a figure of speech…..
I’ve been sleeping with your husband for eleven years, Margaret. That’s a lot more than a figure of speech.
Gwen Ermont….It’s so good to finally meet you after all this time.
I’ve heard so much about you….All good….Or almost all good. If it were all good, I suppose Leland wouldn’t be sleeping with me….Anyway, if you don’t mind my saying so, you’re extremely fortunate to be married to a man who thinks so highly of you.
Leland’s mistress? Why didn’t you say so?….But you’re so….
You expected someone younger?
That’s not a pleasant thing to say to the woman you’re sharing a husband with.
You really do have to leave. Immediately.
I will. As soon as we’ve had a brief heart-to-heart chat.
periodically discovering more valuables. Still no food.)
Don’t you have anything at all to eat in this house?
We order a lot of take-out…..Leland often won’t come home until very late.
Because he’s detained at the hospital…?
That’s the life of a cardiologist. Even with the sun down, hearts still need mending…. What kind of wife would I be if I begrudged him his time at the hospital?
Can you please stop making a wreck of things?
Don’t you have any leftovers stashed away somewhere? Or gourmet items? Gift-wrapped chocolates? Easter confections?
No. We don’t. And you really must go. Come back tomorrow and I’ll prepare you a steak dinner or ham-and-eggs or whatever you want—you can bash open the eiderdown pillows and pour condiments onto the bed linens for all I care—and we can talk until your tongue swells up so large that you asphyxiate on it—but right now you’ll have to leave. I have an extremely important appointment this afternoon. A private appointment.
Aren’t you even the slightest bit curious about my relationship with Leland? Don’t you want to know how we met—or what he sees in me that he doesn’t see in you?
Write me a note….Do you have stationery?
Here you go. My own monogrammed writing paper. From Veronica’s on M Street. Why don’t you write me a tell-all letter and bring it back tomorrow…? Or better yet, mail it….I’ll get you a stamp.
Eventually, she deposits several coins on the kitchen table.)
Here’s forty-one cents. That’s the best I can do.
while she speaks.)
It started the summer after I finished my acting degree at Vassar. We were sitting next to each other on a plane, flying back from Bridgeport, Connecticut. Leland had been rendezvousing with a pharmaceuticals salesgirl he’d met at a diabetes convention—I think you were at your aunt’s funeral that weekend, if I remember it correctly—and I was returning from putting the finishing touches on the National Dwarf Hall of Fame…. That’s what I do for a living. I’m a curator-for-hire. A museum mercenary.
Please listen to me. This is no ordinary visitor. I really must make a good impression.
Tom Thumb was born in Bridgeport. You know, the tiny guy from the P. T. Barnum circus. As far as I’m concerned, it’s as fitting a place for a Dwarf Hall of Fame as any, although—if you want get all technical about it—Thumb wasn’t actually a dwarf. He was a midget.
This could be the most important appointment of my adult life. What can I do to convince you to leave?
Small difference, if you ask me. But these little people get all worked up about these things….My point is that I started talking to your husband, and I fell for him so quickly that when he told me he was a cardiologist, I pretended to have a heart attack. Right there in the main cabin. And it worked, too. It’s the only time in my life that my acting degree ever paid off….After we’d made an emergency landing in Philadelphia, Leland rode with me to the hospital in the ambulance….It was only later—once we’d fallen in love—that he admitted he knew I was faking. That’s what I admire about Leland: He’s the sort of man who lets you fake a heart attack for him.
I’m glad you and my husband are so happy together.
But we’re not happy. Not any more…
Then I’m sorry you and my husband aren’t happy together.
You have to help me. Please. I’m begging you.
How can I possible help you?
May I speak to you candidly: mistress to wife?
I’m going to put all of my cards on the table: Leland and I are trying to adopt a baby. A social worker from the adoption agency will be arriving here in less than ten minutes to see if our home is fit for a child—to evaluate our parental suitability. She doesn’t want to hear about how you met my husband.
I think Leland is falling out of love with me. I’m afraid he’s already fallen in love with another woman….
Look, I’m sure you’re just imagining things. My husband doesn’t have a cheating bone in his body—or at least not that many of them. But in any case, all of this is between you and Leland. I want absolutely nothing to do with it. I don’t want to hear about it. I don’t want to know about it.
Please, Margaret. I’m not sure where else to turn….and even though this is the first time I’ve ever met you face to face, I guess I feel like we’re old friends….I remember how I sat up beside the telephone past midnight when you had your gallbladder surgery, waiting for Leland to let me know that you were okay….and that time you sliced your finger open on the rusty faucet and you thought you’d contracted tetanus…
You know about all that?
Leland tells me everything.
Well, Leland tells me nothing. Which is how I prefer it….And you and I are not old friends. This is not a social relationship….Wives do not have social relationships with their husband’s mistresses—at least not if they’re aware of it.
Doesn’t it bother you?
Doesn’t what bother me?
That your husband thinks about me when he’s having sex with you.
I thought he was thinking about a third woman when he has sex with both of us.
How can you be so detached?
How can I not be? You don’t think I realized a long time ago that Leland has been less than faithful. The wife always knows—even if she chooses not to admit it….Women who claim they’re shocked when they discover that their husbands have other wives and children in different states are lying through their teeth….or they’ve tricked themselves into not knowing what they actually do know….Deep down they always know. They’re just reluctant to tamper with the status quo, because they’re afraid things might get worse….That they might end up with nothing at all….In any case, I gave up on controlling my husband’s more unpleasant urges a long time ago….What I want now is a beautiful bouncing baby girl from China who looks absolutely nothing like her father. Leland owes me that.
There is no third woman. That’s the worst part.
But you just said—
It’s you, Margaret. I think Leland has fallen back in love with you.
My husband? In love with me?
It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? But when you started planning to adopt the baby, you put a lot of crazy ideas into his head. About reforming himself. About becoming a model parent and all that bullshit.
Did Leland really tell you that?
You don’t know what I’ve been going through, Margaret. Leland and I have been together for eleven years. That’s a third of my life. And now he expects me to stand idly by while he throws everything away for some stranger’s baby?
Wait a second—
No, you wait a second! I’ve played fair by you all these years. I never asked Leland to leave you—I’m not that kind of woman. I respected what was yours, and I trusted that you’d respect what was mine. The way I thought about it was that we each had our own niche. Like different species of birds who share different portions of the same habitat. Leland wanted one woman who was sensuous and magnetic and exhilarating in bed….and another who kept her pearls in the freezer and used expressions like fiddlesticks….It all felt very mature, very civilized, almost French….You should be ashamed to leave me out in the cold like this! After all I’ve done for you! After all we’ve been through together!
I’m not doing anything to you. Is it my fault if Leland’s had a change of heart?
It’s unfair, I tell you. Why should love be first-come, first-served? Like waiting in line for a sandwich at the deli. What right do you have? Do you really think you own him just because you started sleeping with him before I did? I love him more than you do. That’s what should matter.
So what do you expect me to do? Leland’s a grown adult. He’s capable of making his own decisions. Honestly, I don’t understand why you’ve come here.
I’ll tell you why. Because I want Leland to love me again….I need Leland to love me again. And you’re going to find a way to make that happen.
How am I supposed to do that? I can’t even get Leland to tuck in the shower curtain.
You’ll find a way. He is your husband.
And if you don’t—Well, let’s just say you will….
You’re not really threatening to shoot me with that?
You bet I am. But only if I have to….It allegedly belonged to Paul Revere. I borrowed it from Special Exhibits at the Smithsonian.
As guns go, it may be not glamorous—but rest assured, it’s one-hundred percent functional. A woman like me doesn’t have much access to sophisticated weaponry on a daily basis. She’s got to take her arms where she finds them.
Let me get this straight: If I can’t convince my husband to fall back in love with you, you’re going to shoot me with a Revolutionary War musket.
Right between the eyes. And then I’m going to shoot myself….If I can’t have Leland, nobody will.
Look, Gwen. I honestly wish I could help you. But you know how stubborn Leland can be….Once he’s made up his mind, there’s nothing to be done about it.
Well, you’d better figure something out. I’m telling you, I’m desperate.
Leland’s going to be here any minute. I’ll talk to him….We can all sit down together sometime soon and hash this out…..
Leland’s not coming.
Oh, he’ll be here. He wants this baby as much as I do….
He can’t come.
What do you mean: ‘He can’t come’?
He has a competing obligation.
What sort of ‘competing obligation’?
He’s in the trunk of my car…..
You’re joking again.
He stopped by the International Barbecue Museum this morning….that’s where I’m setting up the vintage grill exhibit….and I was afraid he might break things off with me, so when he turned around, I swatted him over the head with President Johnson’s personal spatula and wrapped him up in Katherine Hepburn’s garden hose.
Leland is really in the trunk of your car??
Don’t worry. It’s a large trunk. He’s got enough air to last him several hours.
So he’s going to miss our appointment. That bastard!
It’s not his fault.
Like hell, it’s not his fault. I ask only one thing of him. One small request. I don’t complain when he works late at the hospital. I don’t pressure him to have his sperm examined by a specialist, even though my eggs are Olympic quality and we still don’t have a baby. I don’t even argue with him about the toothpaste tube or the toilet seat or whether to close the windows in the bedroom on nights when it’s ten zillion degrees below zero. But he owed it to me to be here this afternoon. And instead, he’s lazing around in the trunk of some floozy’s car! This is rich. Really rich. What an asshole!
Don’t answer it.
Like hell I’m not going to answer it.
I’ll swear I’ll shoot.
You don’t seem to understand. I’m nearly forty years old. I gave up teaching three years ago when we started trying the fertility treatments. My parents are dead. I’m an only child. My husband is a philandering bastard who can’t keep an appointment. Quite frankly, if they don’t give me this baby, it won’t matter to me if you shoot me.
at Margaret. Margaret turns around and faces Gwen.)
Besides, dear, you don’t want to shoot me. Trust me on that. Because once you see the blood oozing out of my naked flesh, you’re not going to have the courage to turn the gun on yourself. But by then it will be too late. I’ll be a martyr. Permanently young, forever beautiful—at least in Leland’s mind—while you’ll grow withered and flabby until you look like a bloated prune with eye slits. So I dare you! Put a bullet in my back. Pump me full of buckshot. The moment you murder me, Leland will love me forever.
Is that meant as a threat?
It’s just a friendly observation, dear. You need me. I’m your only hope of ever getting Leland back.
So will you help me?
Just a moment!
I haven’t decided yet….How far away are you parked?
Practically across town. I couldn’t find a space. Why?
Then we’ll have to make do without Leland….and give me that!
Try to look innocent.
Connie Callard enters. She is the antithesis of Gwen: a pure,
well-meaning soul in a highly-tainted world.)
I’m Connie Callard from Family Services. I’m looking for Dr. and Mrs. Claypool.
I’m Margaret Claypool. I’m afraid Dr. Claypool has gotten a bit tied up.
Nothing serious, I hope.
Oh, no. Just some car trouble….
Please do come in.
examines the mayhem in the apartment—the open
refrigerator, the counters piled with pots and pans and
Sit down. Make yourself at home.
musket. Margaret stops her, shouting.)
I mean: These chairs are much better for your back.
opposite her on the sofa. Margaret remains standing.)
We’re a very health-conscious couple, Leland and I…..And sciatica is nothing to take lightly. I don’t think I could live with myself if I caused you any back pain….
Thank you. That’s very considerate of you.
This is my sister, Gwen Ermont.
How do you do?
Not well. I was just diagnoses with a rare genetic illness.
It’s highly fatal and runs in families.
But fortunately not ours. Because it was a misdiagnosis….Thank heavens!
I’m so glad you’re all right. You must be very relieved…..
My sister is still recovering from the shock…..Maybe she’d like to lie down in the bedroom.
Oh, no. I’m feeling fine now.
May I offer you anything, Connie. Some tea? A cocktail?
Some tea would be delightful.
Then tea it shall be. I always make a point of offering my houseguests a bite to eat. I like to set a positive example. I want my daughter to grow up with good manners.
service, a fully-stocked mini-bar and a platter of Italian
I don’t believe it.
What a strange place to keep food. Is there much crime in this neighborhood?
It’s a trick I learned from my mother. If you leave food in the safe for the burglars—with a warm, welcoming note—sometimes they feel too guilty to steal anything.
That’s rather eccentric, don’t you think? You’re not an eccentric woman, are you?
Oh, heavens no! I can’t abide eccentricity
I’m glad to hear it. Because I wouldn’t want to leave Baby W. with an oddball…..
Of course you wouldn’t….That was a joke about welcoming the burglars. There’s no crime at all in this neighborhood. None at all. Not so much as a jaywalker….I just lock up the food so Leland can’t get to it. Otherwise, he’d fill his pockets with cannolis.
Is your husband impulsive?
What my sister means is that Leland often has impulses, but he rarely acts upon them.
I see. Can I ask you a rather blunt question, Mrs. Claypool?
Is your husband an honest man?
I’ve never met a man more honest.
What I mean is: He’s not the type of man who would sell a baby on the black market?
Why? Are you trying to buy one?
Please ignore my sister. She’s not well….And I assure you, whatever you’ve heard about my husband, he is the embodiment of integrity.
Are you certain? What I’m asking is: Is Dr. Claypool the sort of man who would cheat on his wife for nearly a decade while supporting a pair of mistresses he picked up at pharmaceuticals conventions and then adopt a baby in China in order to sell it on the black market to an undercover cop so he could to pay to have one his mistresses rubbed out? Hypothetically speaking, I mean.
There’s no need to cry, dear. What’s upsetting you?
I’m sorry. I had a bad experience with my last placement……I’m on probation.
Have an éclair, Connie. Nothing like cholesterol to cheer you up.
I love what I do, Mrs. Claypool—Margaret. What could be more rewarding that pairing unwanted babies in Asia with loving couples here in the United States? But I’m afraid I’m not very good at what I do.
You’re probably much better than you think.
No, I’m really not. I’m far too trusting. I have far too much faith in my fellow human beings. I never recognize them for the self-interested, scrupulously dishonest, bottom-dwelling scum that they are. But if I screw up one more time, I’m out of a job.
That’s right, dear. Let it all out….
Are you sure you don’t want that last éclair? Because I’m going to take it…..
It’s important not to lose your perspective. I can tell this job means a lot to you, but it is only a job…..When it comes to employment, we’re all always on probation. Some of us just don’t realize that until it’s too late.
You don’t understand…..I grew up in an orphanage. I was that shy, awkward girl who everybody praised but nobody ever took home….I remember the day I turned eighteen and they sent me out into the world all alone—with only a bus ticket and a new pair of men’s shoes, as though they were releasing me from prison—they were all out of women’s shoes in my size—and as I wandered the city in those hideous over-shined shoes, I swore that I’d devote the rest of my life to making certain that no other children ever had to endure what I did. So I worked my way through college and social work school—And I finally landed my dream job at Family Services….and then, before I’ve even had a chance to hang up the photographs in my office, my first placement ends up on the black market.
Which is why I’m not taking any changes this time. My next placement is going to be perfect. I’m waiting for a couple as wholesome as apple pie and Leave It To Beaver and Flag Day all rolled into one. A family to out-Cleaver the Cleavers.
Then you’ve come to the right place, Connie. We’re the most wholesome family you’ll ever meet in your life.
(Margaret looks pointedly at Gwen.)
I’m the mistress of wholesome.
I do hope so.
In high school, I was voted most wholesome girl in the senior class. Two years in a row.
We’re all very wholesome.
I think that’s what Leland likes about me. That I’m so wholesome.
Leland and my sister have a very close relationship….
How nice. So may people don’t get along with their in-laws….
Leland and Gwen are unusual in that way….but not too unusual, mind you. Nothing eccentric.
It’s far more common than you think.
May I ask you a few more formal questions?
Our lives are an open book.
Any weapons in the house? Daggers? Grenades? Muskets?
What about all of these pots and pans? Is your kitchenware usually strewn about like this? And why is your refrigerator open?
We were doing our spring inventory. Weren’t we, Gwen?
We have nineteen pots, twelve pans, nine sets of earrings, two gold chains, a man’s wrist watch, assorted brooches, an ice cream carton full of pearls, and nothing to eat.
All of these open cabinets make me nervous…..Hygiene is health’s handmaiden, you know. Cleanliness is godliness.
That’s exactly what I’m always telling Leland. Cleanliness is godliness.
Why? Does he need reminding?
Are there any more pastries left in that safe?
For God’s sake, Gwen!
For God’s sake, I’m so glad you could be with me this afternoon. To give Connie here a better sense of how much we all love each other. How wholesome we all are.
When do you expect Dr. Claypool to return home?
I honestly don’t know. There’s a possibility he might not make it at all…..Sometimes he gets stuck at the hospital for hours….You know how it is. Saving lives and all that.
I thought he was having car trouble.
Car-diac trouble. He was trying to fix a broken heart, but it wasn’t going too well….
I could have sworn you said—Well, never mind. I suppose I’ll have to come back another time…..
Can’t you just approve us based on this visit?
I’m afraid I couldn’t do that.
Because Leland works crazy hours. He can be very difficult to pin down.
Usually he does the pinning.
My sister was just saying Leland’s hours have gotten worse ever since he started doing pinning at the hospital. It’s a new procedure. They stick pins into the heart to keep it from coming loose.
It’s amazing what modern technology can do.
But Leland wants this baby so much….I would just hate to think that someone might have to go without medical care so that he could be here for a routine meeting….
It does seem a bit unreasonable.
Lives are at stake, Connie. You don’t really need to come back here again. Do you?
I don’t know….
If I wanted to order more pastry, do you think the neighbors would let me use their phone?
Is something wrong with the telephones?
There’s a problem with the lines. Nothing major.
Well, it can’t hurt trying, can it? The worst they can do is say no.
(Gwen stands up to exit and walks toward the door, but the sofa cushions catch on her coat and she drags them with her. The musket is exposed.)
It’s an electric toothbrush. For people with very large mouths.
It’s a Revolutionary War musket. I work at the Smithsonian.
I thought you said you didn’t have any weapons.
That’s the only one. I swear.
I think I’d better come back tomorrow to meet Dr. Claypool.
But he might not come home for weeks. Months. Sometimes he spends the entire summer in the emergency room, just in case. Trying to help the downtrodden and to earn a few extra dollars in anticipation of our baby girl….Because once Baby W. arrives, he’ll want to spend as much time at home with her as possible.
(A long pause.)
Oh, I get it. You two are a couple, aren’t you?
She’s not your sister. She’s your partner, isn’t she? You don’t actually have a husband.
I don’t know what gave you that idea, but—
It’s okay. I won’t tell…
There’s nothing to tell.
You know what gave you away? The bickering! You have to love someone an awful lot to bicker with them like that….But you can’t pull the wool over my eyes. I’m not nearly as naive and clueless as people seem to think.
But we’re not a couple.
Of course, you’re not. If you were, Family Services wouldn’t allow you to adopt a baby….But anybody who’s willing to go to such lengths of deception to acquire a child must really want one. Besides, I’ve been reading up on black-market babies. Women are much less likely to sell children.
So she’s ours?
You mean yours and Leland’s.
I’ll put in the paperwork tomorrow morning.
How can we ever thank you?
Don’t thank me. Just treat the baby well…..
I’d better get going. But it you don’t mind my saying, you seem like a very loving couple. You’re so fortunate to have found one another. I wish I could find someone to argue with like that.
I can’t believe it. She really thinks we’re a couple.
You don’t have to sound so insulted….I have my share of admirers….
Oh, of course you do. Some men are into stability….consistency….the sort of men who wear belts and suspenders simultaneously….But what about Leland? You’ve got your baby. Now are you willing to help me?
Sure, I’ll help you….I should have left that twit ages ago….Thanks for reminding me that love doesn’t lock you in like a mortgage. Just because I wanted to be with Leland twelve years ago doesn’t mean I have to stay with him now.
You really don’t want him?
He’s all yours, honey. Trust me: After I get through with him for missing this meeting, he’ll run when he hears the sound of my voice…..Okay, maybe not run. More like hobble away with his legs crossed.
Thank you. I knew we’d become friends…. I suppose we should get him out of the trunk.
I’ll come with you….
Have you seen my car keys?
Don’t tell me you lost them.
I know they’re in here somewhere…..They probably fell out of my pockets when I was searching for a snack….
car keys. Gwen rifles though the freezer, periodically
dropping more food containers onto the floor.)
Can I ask you something? If you really think Leland’s such a twit, why didn’t you leave him ages ago?
You’ll think this is pathetic. I used to tell myself that even a twit is better than nothing. And then we decided to adopt the baby—and they won’t give babies to single women…. But I suppose one woman’s twit is another woman’s treasure….Although I usually think one woman’s twit is another woman’s twit-in-waiting.
Look what I found!
You want some?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Both. I’m feeling adventurous.
women sit at the kitchen table, eating side-by-side.)
What about Leland? We should probably get him before he runs out of air. It’s not that big a trunk.
Let him wait a few more minutes. It’ll do him good.
converse joyfully as the curtain falls.)
END OF PLAY