Theater

Play in the Drawer: Victor Lodato

by


Get a Grip: Victor Lodato

Welcome to another installment of Play in the Drawer, featuring the New Dramatists. This week we begin 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…

Motherhouse

Characters
MAE — Clive and Evelyn’s mother, fifties
CLIVE — thirties, thin
EVELYN — thirties
ROSS — friend to Clive, thirties
All are black.

Act I

Scene 1

(Lights up on a small kitchen. Mae sits at the table, smoking a cigarette. She keeps glancing at a closed door, stage right—occasionally shaking her head. Picks at breakfast food. After a few beats, she yells.)

MAE
What are you doing in there?

CLIVE’S VOICE
What you think I’m doing?

(Pause)

MAE
(to herself)
I don’t know what you’re doing in there. (Pause; then yelling) I don’t know what you could be doing in there. In there fifteen minutes now. (to herself) Could be doing anything in there.

CLIVE’S VOICE
What?

MAE
I said you could be doing anything in there.

CLIVE’S VOICE
That’s right, could be doing anything—but I am doing the thing you do in here.

MAE
Well, don’t be talking to me while you doing that. You just do it.

CLIVE’S VOICE
You the one started talking. (Pause) Ain’t you the one started talking?

MAE
I’m not saying nothing.

(Pause)

CLIVE’S VOICE
And don’t pour my coffee out. I’m gonna finish that.
(Mae gets up, goes over to the closed door, leans in to listen.)

(Beat, then telephone rings, startles Mae)

CLIVE’S VOICE
I ain’t here, that’s for me.

MAE
(moving away from door toward telephone)
Do I know you ain’t here? Do I know that? I know that. How many times you gonna tell me you ain’t here? (answers phone) Hello … Oh, hey there, Loreen … Ain’t you sweet. Same to you … Just done with our breakfast, just sitting … No, she still sleeping—but I got the boy over here … Yeah, he show up last night … He in the bathroom, he been in there twenty minutes … I don’t know—and you can’t ask him, you know, he gets all up on you …

CLIVE’S VOICE
Who you talking to?

MAE
(still into telephone, laughing)
Ain’t that the truth, girl … Still good to have him home …

CLIVE’S VOICE
Who that you got on the phone?

MAE
(to Clive)
What?

CLIVE’S VOICE
Who’s that on the phone?

MAE
(into telephone)
One minute, baby, he at me with something. (yelling to Clive) I am talking to Loreen. Ain’t nothing about you.

(Clive enters. He is filthy. Very animated.)

CLIVE
(whispering)
What I hear you saying, he this, he that—don’t even say I’m here. Shit. What I tell you?

MAE
Oh, go finish your breakfast and shut up. I’m on the phone. (back into telephone) God in the blue, get me to you … No, don’t worry about it … No, no, we just talking … He gets going over everything …

(Clive slams his fist into his palm, glares at Mae.)

CLIVE
Get off the phone.

(Clive sits down at the table. While Mae talks, he picks at food, drums his fingers on table, stands up, then sits down again—he cannot sit still.)

MAE
(ignoring him, into telephone)
So, how you doing? … That at you again, huh? … Mmmm, I know, I got it too … My hands, mostly … I know that pain … But I got a salve is good … No, better than that—I don’t like the smell on that one … No, this a superior product. I’ll get some over to you … Sure, sure, I get Clive run it over …

(Clive bangs his fist against the table, stands.)

CLIVE
Allright, get off the phone now. You hear me? Get off the phone.

MAE
Listen, honey, I gotta go, I call you later … Yeah, I’ll get you some of it … Called HotSpot …

CLIVE
Goddammit, woman, what I say?

MAE
Listen, I call you later … Allright, baby … Same to you … Bye bye.

(Mae hangs up the phone, stare off with Clive.)

MAE
What? What you getting all up about? I didn’t say nothing.

CLIVE
I get Clive run it over. I get Clive run it over. Are you stupid? You a stupid bitch.

MAE
Don’t do that. Don’t do that word in my house. You can do that word on your your girls, on your trash—but you do not do that word on me. You hear me? No! You do not put that on me.

CLIVE
I am saying though—you don’t understand. This is serious shit.

MAE
Because I didn’t bring you up to use that word on me. Would a let you starve in your crib I know you end up with that word on me.

CLIVE
Listen to me.

MAE
Cause you gonna say you’re sorry on that word—or there is nothing to talk about.

CLIVE
Mama, listen.

MAE
Are you sorry on that word?

CLIVE
Yes, yes—I’m sorry. Shit! I am sorry on that. Allright?

MAE
Otherwise, I don’t care who is looking for you, your ass is out of my house.

CLIVE
I said I’m sorry. Goddammit. What, now you deaf? I said it. (Pause) Allright?

(Mae shakes her head disapprovingly; Pause.)

MAE
And why you didn’t flush that toilet? Because don’t think I don’t know what you were doing in there.

CLIVE
How you know? You don’t know.

MAE
In there twenty minutes!
CLIVE
Hey, what I do is my business. What—you gonna start sniffing after me? Cause that, that gonna send me right outta the house again. What a man do in the room is his business. That’s a man’s business.

MAE
Man’s business! (Pause) Sometimes I don’t know whether you gonna make me laugh or you gonna make me cry.

(Pause; Mae continues to stare at Clive.)

CLIVE
Well, do something—don’t just be staring at me like that. (he moves away from Mae) Go and put your eyes somewhere else. (Pause) Always on my back.

(Pause)

MAE
So you gonna tell me what’s going on—why you over here after we don’t see you for two months?

CLIVE
Oh, now she wants to know.

MAE
Who you owe money to?

CLIVE
Not about money.

MAE
About what?

(Pause)

CLIVE
Ross got took down.

MAE
Who?

CLIVE
Ross.

MAE
Shorty Ross? Letty’s boy?

CLIVE
Yeah—he got took down, and he talking, he naming names.

MAE
Ross?

CLIVE
Ross, what I say? And that bitch talking.

MAE
He say about you?

CLIVE
He naming everybody, save his ass.

MAE
I can’t see him doing that.

CLIVE
Well, he doing it, he doing the snitch.

MAE
He’s not gonna do it on you, he know you from all the way back. And he got a loyalty to your sister—he not gonna do on you.

CLIVE
Maybe he will, maybe he won’t—but anyone ask on me, you ain’t seen me. Anyone come by, you don’t know where the hell I am.

MAE
Come by?! Better not be coming by. I don’t want nothing with that business.

CLIVE
If they do, that’s all—I’m not saying they coming.

MAE
I don’t know why you do this. This mess. Get in with that.

CLIVE
Don’t you worry about my shit. I’m gonna get some money and then I get out of your face.
MAE
And where you gonna go?

CLIVE
Different ideas I got.

MAE
Where?

CLIVE
Places I know people. (Pause) Cause this town just the same thing over and over again. You can’t tell one day from the next. This, then that. This, then that. But never the other thing. Like they say: this, that, and the other thing. Yeah, well, where’s the other thing? That’s what I wanna know.

MAE
Same everywhere.

CLIVE
Yeah, well you ain’t never been anywhere. I’m talking places you wouldn’t even know nothing about. Out there. Outta this shit.

MAE
You stay here—that’s all.

CLIVE
Something different—that’s what I need. Different scenery. Where it look different. Cause this is nothing here, this is—I don’t know what this is.

(Pause)

MAE
What Shorty Ross got to say on you anyway? Huh? What he got on you?

CLIVE
Just get off me.

MAE
And I don’t want any of that mess in my house. You better not have any of that mess on you. (Pause) You hear me?

CLIVE
I ain’t carrying no shit. (Pause) I don’t even do that shit anymore.

MAE
Look at your eyes. You think you gonna lie to me?

CLIVE
I didn’t bring no shit in the house.

MAE
Don’t even think about it. Your sister find out, she cut your head off. She cut that big ass head right off. (Pause) After what went down on that one—

CLIVE
(quietly)
Don’t bring that shit up. Leave that alone.

MAE
She don’t got no toleration for that business.

CLIVE
Yeah, I know, you don’t have to tell me.

MAE
Just don’t say nothing around her. About none a this. Shorty Ross, nothing.

CLIVE
Do I look stupid?

MAE
Matter a fact, you do. So I’m telling you: don’t say nothing around her.

CLIVE
I know.

(Pause; then Clive sits down at the table, drinks his coffee.)

CLIVE
Now this cold. Shit!

MAE
More on the stove.

(Mae gets the pot from the stove, pours more into Clive’s cup.)

CLIVE
(quietly)
I forgot about that.

(Mae pours herself some coffee, then returns the pot to the stove.)

MAE
This is a house, Clive—and there are things in a house. Hot on the stove. That’s what you left behind. Hot on the stove.

(Beat. Then, from offstage, a woman begins to sing. Her voice is strong, empowered as it is by anger—but ringing out of great well of sadness. Clive and Mae will occasionally speak over the song.)

EVELYN’S VOICE
Who love’s his sugar, who loves his candy?
I know some boys that do.
Who’s got a smile that works like a charm?
I know some boys that do.
And who’s got a voice that’s deep and that’s warm?
Well—there’s more than a few.
But, who’s got my heart held in his palm?
You know there’s no one but you.
No, baby, no one but you.

Now, who’s done me wrong, who’s broken their vows?
I know some boys that have.
Who’s pushed me, who’s shoved me, who’s beaten me down?
Oh, I know some boys that have.
Who’s taken my best, then walked out the door?
It’s quicker to list who has not.
But, who’s fled with my heart, and left me in sorrow?
You know there’s no one but you.
No, baby, no one but you.
No one, no one—but you.

(A few moments of singing before Clive speaks)

CLIVE
What she doing?

MAE
Shhh. How she starts the day.

CLIVE
Why she singing?

MAE
Shhh. Never ask why a person singing. Let them sing. Let the child sing.

(The song rises. Mae and Clive listen. After a few beats, Clive speaks again.)

CLIVE
I didn’t know she could sing.

MAE
Would you shut up.

(Singing continues. Continues.)

CLIVE
How long she gonna sing for?

MAE
Shhh. Let it be. This how we do it.

(Singing continues, and, after a few more moments, ends.)

MAE
(yelling)
He heard that, girl. He heard that one.

(Clive stares at Mae. The song has acted upon her like a drug: she is strangely calm, almost blissful.)

CLIVE
What up with the two of you?

MAE
(still in her reverie, not to Clive)
Sad, you know, but it pretty. (looks at Clive, sings) Who’s fled with my heart, and left me in sorrow? You know there’s no one but you. (then looks away from Clive) How is it a sad song like that somehow make you happy? Make you think you gonna start all over again, get it all back.

CLIVE
Get what back?

MAE
(not looking at Clive)
What we lost—everything—all come back.

CLIVE
What you lose?

MAE
(not unkindly)
Just drink your coffee and shut up.

(Mae joins Clive at the table, drinks coffee. The song’s spell is still on her.)

MAE
That’s good coffee. (Pause) Ain’t that good coffee?

(Clive nods, a low mumble of agreement as he drinks.)

MAE
That’s good, ain’t it?

CLIVE
I said yes, I said it’s good.

MAE
Cause that’s good coffee. I put a little chicory in it.

CLIVE
You know, you getting weird. Both of you.

MAE
What, you don’t like the taste?
CLIVE
Not the coffee. You just acting weird.

MAE
Let’s just have some peace now.

CLIVE
Ain’t gonna be no peace with you acting like that. Set me on edge. The way you talking, going on about the coffee.

MAE
Yeah, and what about you? Thinking somebody after you. Thinking Shorty Ross is gonna do on you.

CLIVE
Don’t change the subject. This about you.

MAE
No. This about you. We living our life, me and your sister. We doing our days the way we do it. You the one traipse in here from outta the blue. Mind all twisted up.

CLIVE
What, you don’t want me here? That what you saying?

MAE
What I’m saying is I got plenty troubles with that one in there (indicating hallway). With your sister. And now I gotta have you out here with one of your stories.

CLIVE
I don’t got no story. What I have is a number of facts. What I have is a situation.

MAE
Notions nothing to do with reality. Acting like you in some kinda movie.

CLIVE
What, you don’t believe me?

MAE
Child, how many times have you come over here like this—filthy—look at you. Acting like they out to get you.

CLIVE
They are out to get me. You think I, I, I—what?—you think I’m making this shit up.

MAE
You scared, Clive—because the devil is on you.

CLIVE
Oh, here she go.

MAE
You scared. That’s all. I can feel it right here (she touches her chest). I can feel it right here when you this close to me. In my own body I feel how scared you are.

CLIVE
(gesturing wildly with his hands)
You talking shit. Because this is not about being scared. This about bad things coming down!

MAE
What’s coming down?

CLIVE
(still gesturing)
All around. You, you don’t see it?

MAE
Your mind is turning things, baby. You mind is turning things around cause of the fear.

CLIVE
You don’t see it?!

MAE
I see the darkness on you. I see it all over you.

(Clive stands. Sudden shaking rage.)

CLIVE
Shut up! Shut the fuck up! You don’t know what you talking about! This is, this is real. This is the, the real world. This is out there. This is what you don’t understand. This is not in the house, this is not singing. This is out there. This is the real.

MAE
Allright, baby, just, just take it slow. I’m only saying it’s like how you get it sometimes turned around in your mind. Like you done before, thinking this or thinking the other thing. When there ain’t nothing.

(Clive’s movements become manic; he walks, he spins, he gestures wildly.)

CLIVE
No, no, you don’t know. You do not know. What, what’s coming? You don’t know. What’s behind you? You don’t know. This how it is out there. And you’re not gonna turn your head, show that fucker behind you you’re scared. You keep on walking. And then your shoulder start going. See now your shoulder start going. Start twitching. Like that. (his movements become progressively more grotesque) Cause you not gonna turn your head, but you know that that that something behind you. Somebody behind you. And your shoulder just going like crazy. That is, that is the reality. And is that coffee good or not don’t fucking matter.
MAE
(standing)
Allright, allright, I see you baby. I see you.

(Mae starts to move toward Clive, but he moves away.)

CLIVE
Don’t gimme that. What you see? You don’t see me. What, what you see? Huh?

MAE
Listen to me, Clive.

CLIVE
There she go with the name again. Don’t be saying my name. What I tell you? You don’t know who’s listening. (whispering) I get Clive run it over. I get Clive run it over.

(Mae reaches out a hand; she attempts to speak, but Clive interrupts her.)

CLIVE
Just shut up. Just shut up. Now you got me all—I’m all— (a sudden exhaustion). I can’t listen to you. I can’t listen to you just now. I, I, I gots to go to the bathroom.

(Clive moves toward the bathroom.)

MAE
Clive.

CLIVE
(to himself)
Shit! Talking that shit. Shut the door on that.

(Clive goes into the bathroom, closes the door. Mae stares after him.)

MAE
Clive!

(Several beats; then Evelyn enters from stage left hallway. She wears a bathrobe. Mae does not see her. Evelyn regards Mae for a moment, then speaks.)

EVELYN
When did he get here?

(Pause; Mae does not turn to face Evelyn.)

EVELYN
Mama.

MAE
Last night. (Pause; then she turns to Evelyn) We’ll let him stay just for a couple of days.

EVELYN
I didn’t hear him come in last night.

MAE
He knocked on my window. Then I let him in the door. (Pause) He didn’t want to wake you.
EVELYN
He didn’t want to wake me—no. Because you know what I would have said to him?

MAE
He think he in trouble.

EVELYN
He’s always in trouble.

(Evelyn sits at the table.)

MAE
He don’t look too good.

(Pause)

EVELYN
You gonna get me some coffee, or what?

(Mae gets Evelyn her coffee.)

MAE
He like your song. He heard that. He said he didn’t know you could sing. He said how happy he is to hear you going with that song.

EVELYN
Look at you. Soon as he walks in the door, you on with the lies.

MAE
No, no—he said that.

(Evelyn gives MAE a stern look.)

MAE
Well, he say something like that.

(Pause)

EVELYN
Why do you let him in?! That’s the thing I don’t understand. Why you gotta go and let him in?

MAE
Not gonna turn my children away. And this ain’t to do with you anyway.

EVELYN
Don’t you tell me this ain’t to do with me. You think him coming in here dragging that trouble after his ass—you don’t think that got to do with me? After what they done on me.

MAE
Let’s not start on that.

EVELYN
This is not his house anymore.

MAE
Always gonna be his house.

EVELYN
After what they done on me—no, this is not his house.

MAE
He didn’t have nothing to do with that. You can’t blame him for that.

EVELYN
I blame every man. Every man in with that shit.

MAE
He didn’t bring any of that mess in the house—I already ask him.

EVELYN
And you gonna believe him?

MAE
We let him stay just for a couple of days. That’s all. Let’s just get us through that.

(Pause)

EVELYN
You think there’s real trouble coming down on him?

MAE
He say so, but I think he’s doing it up in his head. The way he talks like he got something biting his ass.

EVELYN
And we gotta listen to that!

(Evelyn stands, gets milk for her coffee from refrigerator.)

EVELYN
And today is my day. (Pause) Mama.

MAE
I know what today is.

EVELYN
I’m gonna leave in a little while … for my … to do my business—and I don’t want him in the house when I get back.

MAE
Maybe you just stay home today. Don’t bother with that other stuff.

EVELYN
Don’t get on me with that. I am going. Don’t even try.

MAE
Because you can’t keep doing this, Evelyn.

EVELYN
Did you hear what I said?

MAE
Allright—I’ll tell him to go out for a bit.

EVELYN
Because that’s our business.
MAE
I’ll make him go out for a bit.

EVELYN
Because we need our privacy. I need to have my time. You know that. Today is my day.

MAE
Allright. You come home, and we do it the way we always do it. I get him out of the house—so stop on that.

(Pause)

EVELYN
I bet he doesn’t even know what day is today.

MAE
I’m sure he don’t.

(Pause)

EVELYN
(softly)
Today is my day.

MAE
Evelyn, look at me. Look at me. Gonna be your day just the same. You go get dressed.

(Pause; Evelyn and Mae regard one another.)

MAE
Allright?

(Evelyn nods but does not move. Pause.)

(Clive bursts out of the bathroom, energetic. He sees Evelyn, hesitates—then speaks.)

CLIVE
Hey there, Evie. How you doing?

(Pause; Evelyn does not respond.)

CLIVE
Look at you. You looking good. (Pause) What you do to your hair? What that on the side? You got some kinda color in it?

MAE
What you going on about? That her hair, she got gray in her hair.

CLIVE
Gray?! How she get gray in her hair? Gray? That like the bride of Frankenstein. But, I mean—no, you look good. That look good on you, Evie. That make you, you know, distinctive—they say distinctive when you got some gray in your hair. Dignified like.

MAE
Shut up going on about that. (Pause) I told her to put some dye on that, but she don’t want to do it. Shouldn’t even have any gray at her age. I didn’t get my gray till I was fifty. Now they all getting gray, they still children. The boy bring the paper, he got gray hair. (Pause) You know, Evelyn, you really should put a little dye on that.

EVELYN
Both of you shut up. Get off my hair.

CLIVE
Make me think: could it be that long? That’s what I’m saying. Cause I don’t remember it being like that last time I saw you. When was the last time? Could it be that long ago? Cause that gray got me going now. That tripping me out.

EVELYN
My hair is tripping you out, huh? That the thing got you going, huh? My hair?

CLIVE
That’s what I’m saying. (Pause) When was the last time I see you, Evie?

EVELYN
I don’t recall, Clive. Been a while.

CLIVE
You never here when I stop by.

MAE
Stop by?! When you stop by? Don’t that make it sound nice? Is that what you’re doing now, Clive: stopping by? If you are, then sit down and shut up.

(Pause; then Clive sits at the table.)
CLIVE
Just seem she never here when I—you know, when I get the time to come by.

EVELYN
I work, Clive—this thing called a job. And if I am here when you show up—I just usually don’t come out of my room.

(Pause; Clive and Evelyn regard each other for a moment.)

CLIVE
Well, then get in there. If that’s how you gonna do it.

MAE
Come on, now. Can’t we just do a little kindness?

CLIVE
No, not if she can’t—cause I was trying for that. I was trying for a little kindness.

EVELYN
(to Mae)
Two days at the most. Two days at the most is he welcome here.

MAE
Go on and get dressed.

CLIVE
(to Evelyn)
I get me some money, I be out tomorrow. I be on my way.

EVELYN
How much you need get you out today?

MAE
Enough, now. You go get dressed, Evelyn. I laid your dress out on my bed.

(Evelyn walks toward hallway, stage left.)

CLIVE
And, hey there, Evie …

(Evelyn stops, her back to Clive.)

EVELYN
What?
CLIVE
I would appreciate it if you don’t tell nobody I’m here.

EVELYN
You are not here, Clive. That’s where you’re mistaken. You’re not here. You may think you’re here. But you somewhere else.

(Evelyn exits. Pause.)

CLIVE
What she mean by that? Where am I?

MAE
Don’t ask me. I don’t know where you are.

CLIVE
Am I sitting here? (starts to wave his hands in front of Mae’s face) Am I? Am I not a thing you see in front of you? Look at that. See how I’m doing that? You see that?

MAE
(slapping his hands)
Stop doing that.

CLIVE
See that: you see me.

MAE
I see a little part of you maybe is all.

CLIVE
I am all here. This is all there is.

(Pause)

MAE
(slowly, calmly)
Let me ask you a question.

(Pause)

CLIVE
(impatient)
Ask me. Why you talking so slow?! Ask me. What do you wanna know?

MAE
(still slowly, not rising to Clive’s mania)
Do you know what day it is today?

CLIVE
(self-satisfied)
As a matter of fact, I do: it’s Sunday. See, you think I don’t know what day it is, and I know what day it is. My mind is on the spot. I know what day it is: so don’t be trying to make me out like I’m not on the spot.

MAE
What I am asking you is do you know what Sunday it is: what particular Sunday it is.

CLIVE
You asking the number? I don’t know the number. A man don’t need to know the particular number.

MAE
Not the number, Clive. The day. You see, it’s a day to remember. (Pause) Mother’s Day, Clive. That set something off in your mind?

CLIVE
Mother’s Day?! That not like a real day. That some made up shit. Mother’s Day. You see, that day invented by the corporate complexion. That is not even a real holiday.

MAE
Clive—

CLIVE
(plowing on)
Try to get you buy some stupid card, some half-dead flowers. Now that I think about that, yeah it coming back to me now, I did see a man in the street last night, with a bucket, got his bucket of, you know how they try to sell you the one rose. I wouldn’t even buy one of those sorry looking things. (Pause) You gonna be all mad at me now I didn’t buy you one?

MAE
Clive, I don’t care you buy me a rose.

CLIVE
Cause I am telling you, you ain’t never seen a sadder bucket of flowers than what this man was pushing.

MAE
Can you just do it down a notch or two? Just do it down, and listen to me. I don’t care nothing about your sentiments to me. I am well over that. (whispering) This about Evelyn.

CLIVE
What about her?

MAE
(quietly)
Mother’s Day, Clive. This the day. This the day that Jame James—this the day her boy …

CLIVE
Shit!

(Clive stands, distraught. Pause.)

MAE
This the day her boy—

CLIVE
I know, I know. Shit! I hate having to remember that. That’s why it goes out of my mind. It goes out of my mind. (Pause) Don’t it go out of your mind, sometimes?

MAE
No. (Pause) It don’t ever go out of my mind.

CLIVE
Cause that was a long time ago now. Wasn’t that a long time ago?

MAE
Three years ago today.

(Pause)

CLIVE
(genuinely concerned)
So, what—am I supposed to say something to her?

MAE
Don’t seem it could be three years.

(Clive walks toward the upstage window, which looks out onto the yard.)
CLIVE
Like what? Say I’m sorry, say—what? What a person supposed to say?

MAE
I don’t think she care you say anything to her or not. You just stay out of her way.

CLIVE
Better to forget all about that anyway. A person live, he wanna move forward.

MAE
Like you do, huh? You moving forward. You ain’t thought back on it.

CLIVE
I was living here when it happened. That’s enough. Don’t need to go thinking back on it.

MAE
Well, she can’t help herself—she gonna go thinking back on it her whole life.

(Pause)

MAE
And you here with your mess. And you know she go blaming that mess. (Pause) Of all days, you gotta come today.

CLIVE
I’d a known it was that day, I’d a stayed away. (Pause; then quietly) Cause that is— shit!—I don’t wanna be thinking about that. I mean cause that just stops you. What a person supposed to do with that information?

MAE
Nothing you can do. But since you here, at least you see what I got to deal with. (Pause) Maybe it a good thing you here. See what that girl coming to.

(Pause)

CLIVE
I could say to her like how I remember that time Jame James burn his finger on the stove, and I put that cream on it for him. You remember that? How I put that cream on and how he stop crying.

MAE
Just—just don’t say nothing to her. You got to watch what you say around that one.

CLIVE
Where she getting ready to go? She going to the cemetery? I hate that cemetery, I always get hungry I go there, because you got the Hamburger Hole down the street, and you smell it from there, you get hungry, and then it hit you where you are, and then you feel sick. You know? You can’t be hungry in a cemetery. That ain’t right. Getting all hungry in the middle of that shit. Make you sick. (Pause) You get hungry when you go there?

MAE
No, Clive, I do not. (Pause) Your mind just go like a, like a whirligig, don’t it?

CLIVE
So, so, is that where she going? She going to the cemetery?

MAE
She go to the cemetery every Sunday. (checks to make sure Evelyn is not in the hallway) But today she do the whole thing. She do it every Mother’s Day.

CLIVE
Why you whispering?

MAE
Shhh. I don’t want her to hear me telling you. But she do the whole thing today. Go through the whole business.

CLIVE
What? What she do?

MAE
She go get the pancakes and everything.

CLIVE
What are you talking about?

MAE
The pancakes. She do the pancake breakfast first. Like they had at the church the day Jame James got shot. That day, you remember, she walking home from that Mother’s Day breakfast—that when it happened. Every year now, she go back.

CLIVE
Why she do that?

MAE
I don’t know. She just gotta do it, she say. She always buy a ticket. She go. Sit by herself. Eat her pancakes. Nobody know what to say to her.

CLIVE
But why she do that?

MAE
She think—I don’t know—she think somehow if she take it around again, she gonna figure something out. Like she gonna find him again.

CLIVE
You let her go by herself? You don’t go with her?

MAE
I’m not gonna go with her. Sit at the church hall, everybody staring at me. And everybody know about it. All the mothers there with their kids, and she sitting there all by herself. But she don’t care. She in her own mind. (Pause) I think she losing it.

CLIVE
Tell her not to go. Why don’t you just talk her out of that?

MAE
And then she wear that dress. Same dress she wearing that day. And don’t matter how many times you wash it, still got the stains on it. Little dark spots from the blood. From the boy’s blood.

CLIVE
(turning away from Mae)
This is—I, I can’t think on this. Cause I got my own shit I got to deal with.

MAE
(pursuing Clive)
And she walk across town in that dress. First she go to the cemetery, then she go get her pancakes, and then she walk home. She go right past the spot. Everybody looking at her like that. All these years now she doing it, I bet people just waiting to see her, hanging outta their windows, waiting for her to walk by in that dress. Kids following behind her, she say—and they laughing.

CLIVE
Jesus, Mama—why you telling me this?

MAE
It’s an embarrassment to me. I get so ashamed I don’t want to show my face around town. I feel sad on her and all, but I don’t know: do you think she need help?

CLIVE
You asking me? I don’t know, Mama. I need help. I am in deep with my own shit.

(Clive moves away from Mae, looks out upstage window.)

MAE
I told her I would make sure you outta the house when she get home from her walk. (coming up close behind Clive, speaking quietly) But I want you here when she get home. You stay in the back, I’ll tell her you out—but I want you to see how she is. Listen in on how she talk. Because I can’t be alone on this anymore. Clive. (trying to get him to turn around) She scare me, Clive.

CLIVE
(gesturing with his hand behind his head)
Stop breathing down my neck. Stop it.

(Mae moves away from Clive, begins to clear the table.)

MAE
Because I can’t be alone on this anymore.

(Long pause)

CLIVE
(looking out window, quietly)
That a mess out there. Everything growing all over the place.

MAE
I can’t tend to that no more.

CLIVE
You don’t keep your garden?

MAE
I let that go.

CLIVE
(still looking out window)
Look at that! Oh, my god. Look at him!

MAE
What?

CLIVE
Rat. Come out from under the shed.

MAE
(casually)
They all around.

CLIVE
Oh, and he a big one. Look at him. He looking right at me.

(Evelyn enters from the hallway, looks at Clive. She wears a white dress.)

CLIVE
I hate the tails on them.

MAE
(to Evelyn)
Don’t you look fine?

CLIVE
(still looking out window, does not see Evelyn)
Nerve on him. Looking right at me. Think he owns the place. (knocks on the glass) Get out! Get outta there! (Pause) There he go. There he go now. Up the hill. Yeah, you better run, cause I could shoot you, you look at me like that.

MAE
Clive. (Pause) Clive!

(Clive turns, sees Evelyn, who is still looking at him.)

CLIVE
Oh, hey there, Evie. Look at you.

(Pause; Clive and Evelyn continue to regard each other.)

CLIVE
Rat in the yard. That what I was talking to. Rat looking right at me.

(A beat, then lights down)