Theater

Play in the Drawer: Victor Lodato

by


Look inside…

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…

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