Play in the Drawer: Victor Lodato

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Welcome to another installment of Play in the Drawer, featuring the New Dramatists. This week we conclude Victor Lodato's Motherhouse, described as: "Clive arrives at the house of his mother and sister. He says that he’s fleeing from the police—but perhaps it’s just another one of his delusions. Unbeknownst to him, he has shown up on a tragic anniversary; three years prior, his sister’s child was killed in a brutal shooting."

Victor’s work has been produced at The Magic Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Theatre Na Zabradli/Prague, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, SPF/NYC, Quartieri dell’Arte Festival, and Mill Mountain Theatre. He has received commissions from South Coast Repertory and the Magic Theatre. Victor is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University, and a member of The Dramatists Guild of America.

After the jump, Motherhouse...

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Scene 2

(Lights up. Mae, at table, drinking wine. She is a little drunk. Evelyn is looking out upstage window.)

MAE This is pretty good. You sure you don't want a glass?

EVELYN I'm fine.

MAE Not too sweet. I don't like it too sweet. Let me pour you a glass. I'm gonna pour you a glass.

(Mae pours wine into a glass)

EVELYN Really do need to get that cleaned out there.

(Mae brings wine over to Evelyn, hands it to her.)

MAE What's that?

EVELYN The yard. Look at it. Trash all over the place.

MAE Gonna get Clive take care a that. Now that we got him around. (looking out window) Get him take out that swing set. That thing's just gone to rust.

(Evelyn walks over to table with her glass—does not drink. Mae still at window.)

MAE And that sound it make. Wake me up sometimes. When it windy. (Pause) Not the yard it was—cause that was a place we used to spend time—sit out there— summertime. I don't know why we don't live outside like we used to. Warm days, you couldn't keep us inside. Cause that was my pride and joy, that yard. (Pause) But we get it back, we put ourselves to it. Get ridda all that junk. Cause that creaking do wake me up sometimes. (Pause) But we gonna do it up real nice again.

EVELYN Needs to be oiled. MAE (turning) What's that?

EVELYN (a little sharp) Chains. The chains need to be oiled. MAE You mean the swings?

EVELYN That's why they make that sound.

MAE Not gonna be bothering with oil. Just take it down. Only one using those swings are the birds. I always get a laugh I see a bird on one of those swings. They don't know what the hell it is. They think it some kind a ledge. Then they get on it, and sometimes a wind come up, you know, it start blowing. And they flapping their wings trying to keep their balance. Funny to see a bird like that.

(Pause; Mae finishes the wine in her glass.)

MAE Mmmm—that just has a nice taste to it. The bottle say supposed to have like a cherry taste. I don't taste that—but I do like it. That a California wine.

EVELYN I suppose you want a little more.

MAE I'll take a splash.

(Mae goes over to table; Evelyn pours out wine.)

MAE Wine look pretty in these glasses. (Pause) You ain't drinking yours?

EVELYN I took a sip.

MAE We ain't done this in a while. Had ourselves a bottle a wine.

(Pause) EVELYN When Clive say he's coming back?

MAE He say he be back later—but you know him. Tomorrow, though, we gonna have supper all together. Have to remember buy us another bottle. Gonna copy down this label, get this again.

EVELYN So Clive say he be back late?

MAE Didn't say. (Pause) I'm glad you two getting along better.

EVELYN Just making do.

MAE More than making do. You two talking on the porch the other day, look like you making amends.

EVELYN Settling some things between us.

MAE Good on that. Good on that.

(Mae reaches out her hand to touch Evelyn's arm.)

MAE Makes me happy to have my children with me.

(Evelyn gently pulls her arm away from Mae.)

EVELYN I wouldn't know about that.

MAE Don't sour this. This a nice evening. C'mon gonna make a toast. Pick up your glass.

EVELYN Ain't nothing to toast.

MAE Pick up your glass.

EVELYN Why?

MAE Because I ask you. We gonna have a toast.

EVELYN Look at you. You drunk.

MAE Oh, I am not. Come on, sourpuss, lift that glass.

(Pause. Evelyn lifts her glass. Pause.)

EVELYN Well?

MAE Thinking what I wanna say. Allright, gonna toast to my children.

(Pause)

EVELYN Is that it?

MAE To my children. And to me with my children. What? Why you making that face? That's what I wanna toast to. It's my toast. (Pause) Now I'm gonna say it again: To my children. And to me with my children. And to our life, and what we gonna do with it. (Pause) Allright, hit me.

(They clink glasses; Mae laughs, drinks.)

MAE Least get your lips wet.

(Evelyn takes a small sip.)

MAE Now that wasn't too hard, was it?

(Pause)

MAE What's wrong with you?

EVELYN Nothing.

MAE Cause everything is good, Evelyn. I'm telling you, everything gonna be fine.

EVELYN Is it?

MAE Yes. It is.

EVELYN I suppose wine make it look that way.

MAE Not the wine. The truth make it look that way. The truth.

EVELYN Why don't you go to bed?

MAE You don't believe me?

EVELYN Believe what?

MAE That everything gonna be fine.

EVELYN Allright, Mama.

MAE I got a whole list a things—get the house back to where it was. And we all gonna do our part—you and your brother and me—and we gonna live in the house again. Like we used to. Live in the house—like a house need to be lived in. Cause this house like a ghost house.

EVELYN I think you need to go to bed.

MAE But that's in the past—everything gonna be better now.

EVELYN And how exactly do you arrive at that?

MAE I know it is—I feel it.

EVELYN Because that is not what I get when I add things up.

MAE You adding things up wrong is all.

EVELYN Oh, is that what I'm doing?

MAE Yes. You taking old things into consideration when you should be looking forward. And you gotta make yourself look forward—look at me— you gotta force yourself to do that—cause the past, it easy to stay there. I could live there I wanted to. Cause no matter how bad it is, the past is easy—the past like a warm bath—but you stay in there too long you gonna shrivel up.

EVELYN Mama, I don't want to talk about this anymore.

MAE Oh, now she don't want to talk. No, but when you go on it's allright, huh? Well, now I'm going on a little bit—cause I got ideas in my head too—not just you and him—I got my own ideas—and those the ideas that gonna rule this house.

EVELYN Go to bed, Mama. Please.

MAE I could surely live in the past, I wanted too. Just cleaning the floor could pull me back to that. You know, sometimes I be cleaning the floor—and I think I smell your father's feet—cause that man had him some loud smelling feet. Or maybe I think I smell his cigarettes—because sometimes when we arguing, he used to put out his cigarettes on the floor—you know, to make me mad. To disrespect my house. And if I am down there, all that stuff rise up outta the boards. Cause the past smell—and not sweet. And if I didn't pick myself up, I'd be down there cleaning forever—cause you never gonna get that clean.

EVELYN Enough, Mama.

MAE But, you see, I don't stay down there—I pick myself up. I look to the future. See now how I made that toast—because I am not afraid to ask for something. So, yes, your mother is drinking a little bit, she a little drunk—but what I am doing is drinking and wishing at the same time. Cause there are blessings yet to come. See now we used to pour a little wine on the floor, my mother did that. A little wine on the floor.

(Mae stands, pours a little wine on the floor.)

EVELYN Stop that.

MAE Just a little bit. A blessing on this house. Because that's come due. And we gonna take it, we gonna take everything God wanna give us. Because we deserve it. (Pause) Look what he gave us already.

EVELYN What did he give us?

MAE Brought Clive home. Brought my son home.

EVELYN He's gonna have to do better than that.

MAE Cause I been praying that he come home.

EVELYN Why—you want another smell to clean up after? Cause that's a real rotten one.

MAE (a bit unsteady on her feet) No, don't you do that. Don't try to get between me and my son. You always doing that.

EVELYN I don't know why you can't see him—see what he is.

MAE I know he got his problems—but he came home, he came home to us. And how I heard him talking today, he trying to get himself together.

EVELYN Oh, please—trying to get himself together—Mama, everything out of his mouth is a lie.

MAE Saying how the house is clean. How he want to be clean inside the house. He was rambling like he do—but he trying to get at something, I could see that. He trying to get at something better.

EVELYN Allright, Mama—I really think it's time for you to go to bed.

MAE We all trying to get at something better. But not you, you always taking it back, always taking it back to where it all sad and where everything seem wrong—but I don't want to go there.

EVELYN No, I guess you don't.

MAE And ever since Jame James died, I think you scare off Clive with all your sadness. That what make him go even deeper into that mess. Cause he don't want a part in that sadness either. He trying to get at something better.

EVELYN Well, maybe you should just hitch up with him then and ride on. Go ahead. See where that lead you.

MAE Maybe I will.

EVELYN Do it. I'm not gonna hold you back.

MAE No, you ain't. Because he my son—and that's something you don't understand. He my son. And he gonna stay in this house. (Pause) You hear me? EVELYN Well, then I'll just back out of the picture.

MAE You do that.

EVELYN Since you seem to have your mind made up.

MAE I do. And you ain't interfering. Not this time.

(Mae teeters, then regains her balance. Pause.)

MAE (exhausted) How'd we get here? We were just having us a nice glass a wine. How did we get here?

EVELYN We always end up here, Mama.

MAE Cause you don't have to be out of the picture. We could all be in the picture together.

EVELYN We'll see how it goes.

MAE Cause don't nobody know what the future hold—but a person can ask that it be a certain way. A person can ask for something.

(Evelyn gets up, extends a hand to Mae.)

EVELYN Here, come on. Get yourself into bed.

(Mae leans on Evelyn; they begin to walk toward the hallway.)

MAE And remember, we gonna have a nice dinner tomorrow. The three of us.

EVELYN Sure. We gonna get it all settled.

MAE You come to bed now, too.

EVELYN No, I'm gonna wait up a bit.

MAE You gonna wait for Clive?

EVELYN I'm just not tired yet.

MAE You wait up for Clive. Cause that your brother.

EVELYN I know.

MAE That your brother.

EVELYN Good night, Mama.

MAE And he love you.

(Mae lets go of Evelyn just before the hallway.)

MAE Your brother. Son. My son.

(Mae exits. Evelyn returns to the table, sits. Beat. Then her body convulses as she begins to cry. She covers her mouth to muffle the sound.)

(Lights down)

Scene 3

(Lights up on Evelyn, alone in the kitchen. She is looking out the back window. After a moment, she goes over to the table, clears the wine bottle and glasses. She pours the wine from her glass into the sink; if there is any left in the bottle, she discards this too, throws the bottle into the trash.)

(A few more moments of Evelyn alone—then Clive enters. He is in slow mode: stoned or drunk. He carries a blue velvet Chivas Regal sack. Clive and Evelyn regard each other for a moment, before dialogue begins.)

CLIVE (a little too loud) Hey there, Evie.

EVELYN Shhh. She sleeping.

(Clive walks over to the table. Pause.)

CLIVE She sleeping?

EVELYN Yes.

CLIVE What time is it? Ain't it early?

EVELYN No, it's not—it's late.

CLIVE Is it? I can't tell is it early or is it late. Lose track a time, sometimes—you know? (Pause) She sleeping, huh?

EVELYN Again with that. Yes.

(Pause)

CLIVE Because she a light sleeper.

EVELYN She had herself almost a bottle a wine—she's not getting up anytime soon.

CLIVE You got anymore a that?

EVELYN What?

CLIVE The wine.

EVELYN No. All gone.

(Pause)

CLIVE Cause I could use a little wine.

EVELYN You look like you doing fine.

CLIVE I'm doing allright—just to take the edge off, I woulda had me some.

EVELYN You on edge, Clive?

CLIVE You know—to settle the mind—that's all—cause sometimes it seem a little bit off.

EVELYN What's that?

CLIVE Everything. Everything seem off center. Outta place. You know what I'm saying?

EVELYN No, not really, Clive.

CLIVE Everything. Every time I come home—get stranger and stranger around here. Like when I was walking here just now, when I was outside, coming up upon the house, I seen the light over the door, and how it shine on the number, you know the house number—and didn't even look like numbers, look like Japanese or something.

EVELYN What are you talking about? Same number it's always been.

CLIVE (a little loud) Something different about it.

EVELYN Shhh. Same number. And sit down, will ya?

(Clive sits down. He puts the bag on the table; it makes a thud—which Evelyn notices.)

CLIVE Something different about it.

EVELYN What you got in the bag, Clive?

CLIVE Cause if it wasn't for the two trees—you know cause I recognize those—if it wasn't for them, I woulda said: that is not my house.

EVELYN Well, it's a different color since last you been here.

CLIVE (Pause, as this registers) That's what it is! That's what it is. Cause my house was green—and black numbers— that was my house. And now it—what is it now?

EVELYN It's blue, now—house is blue

CLIVE And red numbers. Why she do red? Black is the way you do a number. That's why I got confused.

EVELYN Clive.

CLIVE That's why I got confused.

EVELYN What's in the bag, Clive?

CLIVE (a sigh of general confusion) I don't know.

EVELYN You don't know what you got in the bag?

CLIVE I'm saying—I don't know about all a this. Cause this—this a very disordinary situation.

EVELYN Let me see what you got in the bag.

(Clive picks up the bag.)

CLIVE Why she paint the house blue? You like it that color?

EVELYN Don't make no difference to me. (Pause) Did you find me what I was looking for?

CLIVE (holding the bag) Blue. Why she go with blue?

EVELYN Let me see it.

CLIVE Cause I don't like that color.

EVELYN Clive—let me see what you got there.

(Evelyn reaches across the table, attempting to take the bag from Clive—but he pulls it away from her.)

CLIVE Hey, now—don't be grabbing at that.

EVELYN Just let me see what you got.

CLIVE Grabbing like that! We gonna take this slow—cause, like I said, this a very disordinary situation.

EVELYN I'm sorry.

CLIVE Cause everything always moving too fast. But then sometimes you get it to move slow. And it go real slow, nice and easy—and then you see what you didn't see before.

(Clive begins to untie the gold cord on the sack.)

CLIVE And everything go nice and easy. You see what I'm saying?

EVELYN Nice and easy.

CLIVE Allright, then.

(Clive removes a small gun from the sack. Pause. Evelyn slowly, gently, holds out her hand.)

EVELYN Nice and easy.

(Clive hesitates.)

CLIVE I don't know I'm gonna give it to you—so just hold on.

EVELYN Give it to me.

CLIVE Why we doing this? I don't remember. I don't understand why we doing this. EVELYN Just think of it like any deal you do.

CLIVE But why you want this? I don't understand.

(Evelyn suddenly stands, goes over to the cupboard.)

EVELYN You don't understand? Huh?

(Evelyn roots around in the back of the cupboard, pulls out an envelope.)

CLIVE What you got there?

(Evelyn returns to table, sits.. She pulls a pile of cash from the envelope, holds it up before Clive.)

EVELYN Do you understand this?

(Pause; Clive regards the money.)

CLIVE How much is that?

EVELYN What we set: five hundred.

CLIVE (under the money's spell) Five hundred dollar?

EVELYN Yes.

CLIVE How you have all that?

EVELYN I work, Clive. I saved it.

CLIVE A person can't save five hundred dollars. You don't make that much where you working. How much you make?

EVELYN Been saving it for a long time. Since James was a baby. Was gonna be for his education.

CLIVE Don't tell me that.

EVELYN You asked me. But don't let that bother you. (flashes money) Just look at that, Clive. I bet that looks good to you.

CLIVE (indicating gun) But why you want this? That's what I don't understand.

EVELYN Is that how you conduct your business, Clive? That what you do when somebody wanna buy your other shit—you say, why you want that? Huh? Why you wanna buy this? You know, cause this ain't good for you—is that what you say?

CLIVE This is not that.

EVELYN Same thing, Clive—you need something, I need something. (Pause) Five hundred dollars, Clive.

(Pause)

CLIVE Let me see. Count it out.

EVELYN Let me first explain a little more about this transaction.

(Pause)

CLIVE I'm listening.

EVELYN (calmly) You will give me that gun Clive—

CLIVE (interrupting) Maybe I will give you this gun.

EVELYN (calm and confident) No: you will give me the gun, Clive. Because I have a great deal of money in my hand. And you cannot resist that.

CLIVE Don't tell me what I can or cannot do.

EVELYN Don't get offended, Clive. We're just talking a man's nature, here. So: you will give me that gun—

CLIVE Don't keep saying that!

EVELYN Shhh. And I will give you this money—all of it.

CLIVE Cause if I take it—it's only because I got things I could do with that money. Cause I got plans.

EVELYN I'm sure you do. But the thing is, Clive—don't look at the money, look at me—if I give it to you, there a certain promise you have to make me.

CLIVE What's that?

EVELYN Cause don't think I'm giving you all this money for that little gun.

CLIVE (defensive) It's worth it though—this a good gun—ain't nothing wrong with this gun. EVELYN Happy to hear that—but: this money is for something else, too.

CLIVE (impatient) What else it for? You know you just like her—you drag everything out. What? What else it for?

EVELYN If I give this to you, I don't ever want to see you in this house again—ever. You have to promise me that you will never show your face in this house again.

CLIVE You can't tell me that.

EVELYN Yes—I can.

CLIVE This not just your house—it my house too.

EVELYN No. Used to be your house. Remember—your house was green. But this blue house, that's my house. When my son died because of people like you—sick, disgusting people like you—then this stopped being your house.

(Pause)

CLIVE (injured) I see. That how you feel, huh? (Pause) Just count out the money, then. Because I was going away anyway.

(Evelyn slides the money across the table toward Clive.)

EVELYN Count it yourself.

(Clive puts the gun on his lap, and begins to count the money.)

EVELYN What? You think I'm trying to cheat you? It's all there.

CLIVE Always count. Always gotta count.

(Clive continues to count the money.)

CLIVE Five hundred.

EVELYN Now give me mine.

CLIVE Well, we'll have to see about that, Evie. Sick, disgusting person like me don't always keep their promises.

(Clive takes the gun from his lap, stands.)

CLIVE Besides, I don't know you can handle this.

(Evelyn pursues Clive.)

EVELYN Don't you dare—give me that! Give it to me!

CLIVE Now you gonna wake her up.

EVELYN Give it to me. Give it to me or I will—

CLIVE What? What you gonna do?

(Pause; a standoff.)

EVELYN If you a man of your word, Clive—then you will give me that gun.

(Pause)

EVELYN Are you a man of your word, Clive? Cause if you ain't that, you're nothing.

(Pause)

CLIVE Well, I guess you can't shoot me—cause it not loaded. So: here you go, sister—you get the prize. You get the prize.

(He hands over gun to Evelyn. She clutches it desperately, backs away from Clive.)

EVELYN (trembling) You know, Clive: it don't matter if there's no bullets in it now . Matters if there's bullets in it if you ever try to come back in this house again. That's when you should be concerned if that gun loaded or not.

CLIVE Why's that? (laughs) You gonna shoot me?

EVELYN That's the whole point, Clive—cause I am telling you, if you ever come back here again, I will use this on you. And don't think I won't.

(Pause)

CLIVE You hate me that much, Evie?

EVELYN (pause) I would turn that gun on you, as easy as I would on my .... I wouldn't hesitate, Clive.

CLIVE Easy as what? On yourself, right? Maybe you wanna use it on yourself. Don't think I didn't think about that.

EVELYN Well, that is a possibility, Clive. Thank you for mentioning that. So, let me see, you thought about that—but you still decided to give me the gun.

CLIVE (Pause, flustered) You know, because I, I—no, I didn't, I'm not saying—

EVELYN Don't need to explain yourself. Cause that is certainly a possibility. That is not a thought unfamiliar to me. (Pause) But—if I happen to still be around, and you try to come back here—I will be just as happy to use it on you.

(Pause)

CLIVE This who we are, huh? This here—this us, huh?

EVELYN Yes. This who we are now. This who we gonna be.

(Pause)

(Evelyn sits at the table, holding the gun in her lap; she drifts away.)

(Clive looks at the money.)

CLIVE That fine with me, you know. Cause I got plans. I got it all mapped out. Cause I was going anyway.

EVELYN So you said.

CLIVE So don't think you got control over me.

EVELYN (indicating gun) All I have is this.

(Pause)

CLIVE California. That, that's what we thinking about—you know, cause Ross thinking a coming with me.

(This gets Evelyn's attention.)

EVELYN I didn't know you see him anymore.

CLIVE Now and then. Lately we been hooking up. Cause, you know, that who I got the gun from.

EVELYN This—this is Ross's gun?

CLIVE Was.

(Evelyn laughs—darkly)

CLIVE What?

EVELYN It's just perfect, that's all. It's just beautiful. That this should be his gun. Life is so perfect, Clive—don't you think? So perfect, the way everything fall into place.

CLIVE I guess. I don't know.

(Clive has begun to count the money again.)

EVELYN You didn't tell him who the gun was for, did you?

CLIVE Who?

EVELYN Ross.

CLIVE (still counting money) I didn't tell him nothing. My deal. (He finishes counting) Why? You still got something for him?

EVELYN I never had anything for him.

CLIVE Did once.

EVELYN Long time ago. And that was hardly nothing. I don't give him any thought.

CLIVE (defending his friend) Well, he don't think on you either—never even ask about you.

EVELYN As it should be. Like I said, perfect. Perfect world we living in. (Long pause. Clive keeps glancing at his money.)

CLIVE I guess I should tell her I'm going.

EVELYN No—don't be waking her up.

CLIVE She would want me to.

EVELYN You wake her up, Clive—you never gonna get outta here. What—you want her grabbing at you—trying to get you to stay? You wanna be free, Clive—and she just gonna hold you back.

CLIVE Yeah, she do grab on.

EVELYN Make me sick the way she hangs on you.

CLIVE I should say something to her, though—I made a promise on her today. Cause that would be wrong to just walk out like that.

EVELYN (gently, but deadly) No, wouldn't be wrong. Best way is to just walk out. Way you always done it. (Pause) I'll tell her goodbye for you.

(Clive is uncertain.)

EVELYN And this ain't to do with her, anyway. CLIVE Allright, then. (Pause) Tell her about my plans. That I got it all mapped out. Tell her she don't gotta worry about me.

EVELYN I will. (Pause) Don't let me keep you.

(Pause)

EVELYN What?

CLIVE I was just thinking how I go—you know—do I just walk out the door now?

EVELYN That's how it's done, Clive. Just walk out the door.

(Pause)

CLIVE This not what I thought.

EVELYN Never is what you thought.

CLIVE What we were, Evie—that was allright. Before everything. What we were.

(Pause)

EVELYN No getting back there. (Pause) See now, how it's done: you open the door.

(Clive stands by the door, does not open it.)

EVELYN You open the door.

(Clive opens the door.)

EVELYN And after you walk out, you slam it real hard—so you know for sure that door closed.

CLIVE I don't know who you are.

EVELYN Slam it hard.

CLIVE (indicating money) If I didn't have this ...

EVELYN Real hard, Clive—so there's no mistake.

(Clive and Evelyn regard each other for a moment, then Clive leaves; he does not shut the door behind him.)

(Pause)

(Evelyn gets up, goes over to the door, slams it hard—the sound is very loud, perhaps amplified.)

(Pause)

MAE'S VOICE Clive? (Pause) That you, Clive?

(Evelyn returns to the table, puts the gun back in the sack.)

MAE'S VOICE Who out there? (Pause) Clive?

EVELYN It's just me.

MAE'S VOICE What was that noise?

EVELYN Nothing, Mama. Go back to sleep.

(Evelyn sits down, the sack in her lap.)

(Pause)

(Mae appears in the hallway.)

MAE I thought I heard something.

EVELYN Nothing to hear.

(Pause. Mae walks sleepily into the kitchen.)

MAE Boy, did I fall. I fell right out. (Pause) What you still doing up?

EVELYN Don't worry about me. Go back to bed.

MAE Clive not back yet?

EVELYN No.

MAE I thought I heard him.

EVELYN No.

MAE Oh, I was having such dreams. He was inside one a those—that probably why.

EVELYN In your mind—that's all.

MAE Inside a dream. (Pause) He was telling me something and I was laughing. Remember how he use to tell those funny stories? I don't remember the story, but in the dream I was laughing. Could you hear me laughing out here?

EVELYN No.

MAE (touching her head) Oh, I hope I not gonna have a headache tomorrow. Cause we got a lot to do tomorrow.

EVELYN Better get to bed then.

MAE You too, girl. Don't bother waiting up for him. You know him. He gonna be late. (Pause) Oh, you know who else was in my dream?—Shorty Ross.

EVELYN Oh, yeah?

MAE He was dancing in that dream. He was a good dancer, that one.

EVELYN That he was.

(Pause)

MAE I wasn't gonna tell you, but—he was here today—with your brother.

EVELYN And you let him in the house?

MAE He was already here when I got home. And don't be like that. He asked on you.

EVELYN I don't think so.

MAE Yes. All about you. Evelyn this and Evelyn that. I thought maybe we have him over to dinner sometime.

EVELYN That man is not welcome here, Mama—and you know that.

MAE Never gave you a hard time.

EVELYN Never gave me nothing, Mama.

MAE He gave you your boy—gave you Jame James.

(Pause)

EVELYN Yes, he did. And then that was the end of it.

(Pause)

MAE I know you get lonely.

(Mae comes up behind Evelyn, puts her hands on her daughter's shoulders—Evelyn tries to shrug her off.)

MAE Stop now—I'm not gonna—I'm just touching you.

(Evelyn allows Mae to touch her. Pause.)

EVELYN (quiet, but insistent) We don't need anybody else in our house. We don't, Mama.

MAE Allright. Just the three of us then—you and me and your brother.

EVELYN And if he goes away—the two of us.

MAE He's not going anywhere—cause we gonna make it so he wanna be here.

(Pause; Mae is still touching Evelyn's shoulders—gently rocking her.)

EVELYN You go on to bed. I'll wait up for him.

MAE What you got there? EVELYN What?

MAE In the bag.

EVELYN Just some old junk I was looking through.

MAE You don't have to wait up for him.

EVELYN I'm not tired.

MAE Close your eyes.

EVELYN Why?

MAE Gonna get you to sleep.

EVELYN How you gonna do that?

MAE Close your eyes. (Pause) Are they closed?

EVELYN Yes.

(Evelyn, in fact, does not close her eyes. Mae continues to rock her. Evelyn holds the sack to her breast.)

MAE Just keep them closed. And listen to your Mama.

(Pause)

EVELYN What?

MAE Shhh. Listen to your Mama.

(Mae begins to sing: the song is a lullaby.)

MAE All the children must sleep All the children are sleeping For it's night and there's nothing But singing or weeping

All the children must sleep All the children are sleeping For to grow in their strength Soon there's singing and weeping

All the children must sleep All the children are sleeping This song from the mother God charged with your keeping

This song from the mother God charged with your keeping.

(Mae—whose own eyes are fluttering toward sleep— continues to rock Evelyn. Evelyn's eyes remain wide open.)

EVELYN (softly, not turning to look at Mae) Go to bed, Mama. Go to bed.

(Slowly the lights fade to black.)

END OF PLAY


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