Some time has passed. They sit and wait, very subdued: JERRY, BETH, JODIE, CHARLIE, and SANDY.
JERRY: I still don’t get it. Let’s eat.
BETH: Is something burned? Is there a problem in there?
JODIE: No, it’s fine. But we need to wait a few more minutes.
BETH: What are we waiting for?
JODIE: They’ll be here.
JERRY: Who, God dammit. Who will be here?
JODIE: Charlie, you tell them.
CHARLIE: Jodie’s got a surprise.
SANDY: A surprise?
BETH: What surprise?
JERRY: Lord. Another surprise.
CHARLIE: She’s invited some guests.
BETH: Guests? Who?
JODIE: Over a hundred people, Ma. Your college friends. All the people from the store.
JERRY: People from the store? They’re coming here tonight?
JODIE: All of them.
BETH: How do you know that?
JODIE: I invited them.
BETH: How did you invite them?
JODIE: I sent out invitations!
BETH: Are you sure they’re coming?
JODIE: Why wouldn’t they?
JERRY: Because we never see those people anymore. What time are they supposed to be here?
JERRY: That’s two hours ago. They aren’t coming.
JODIE: They are! So are your cousins, Dad.
JERRY: My cousins? Not Michelle and George?
JODIE: They are.
JERRY: Not a chance.
BETH is fearful, careful, as she grasps the situation.
BETH: Jodie. People are busy these days.
JODIE: There are lots of people coming. Cover dish!
JERRY tries to ignore the sense of doom, hoping he can divert the explosion.
JERRY: Let’s go ahead and eat.
JODIE: We can’t before they get here.
JERRY: They must not be as hungry as we are. We’ll start without them and they can join in.
CHARLIE: There’s an idea. The lucky ones are here. Whoever doesn’t show up loses out.
No! The party has not begun! A hundred guests are coming! With entertainment!
BETH: Jodie, darling.
JODIE: This is supposed to be a celebration.
BETH: And it is.
JODIE: It is not! I mean a celebration for the whole community. A celebration of your lives, living here for fifty years!
The town has changed.
BETH: It has, Jodie. It’s not the same. We’re not so much a part of it anymore.
JODIE: You’re a big part.
JERRY: We aren’t a part of anything. People barely know we’re alive.
JODIE: You are! You had a business. You touched people’s lives! Gave them jobs! Why can’t they come to an anniversary party and show some appreciation!
JERRY: It’s been ten years. We knew those people when we were younger.
BETH: A lot of them have moved, Jodie. People…don’t go out at night anymore. They get sick. They forget. They get involved in other things.
JERRY: A lot of them are dead.
JODIE: Michelle and George aren’t dead.
JERRY: They aren’t coming here. They haven’t been here in years. They can’t drive this far.
JODIE: They never told me that.
JERRY: Did you talk with them? Did they tell you they were coming?
JERRY: Then what makes you think they are?
JODIE: I sent them the invitation. Why wouldn’t they?
JERRY: They’re not. They wouldn’t arrange a trip like that without telling us about it. I talked with Michelle on the phone yesterday.
That’s why she wished me a happy anniversary. I was surprised she knew the date.
JODIE: It was going to be a surprise.
JERRY: Yeah. For you.
BETH: Jerry, please.
JODIE: These people are not dead! They’re mean! They’re ungrateful! They’re a bunch of back-stabbers!
BETH: Jodie, your brother’s here with his wife. You’ve fixed dinner. We don’t need more guests to make this special. We can have a nice time. Why don’t you go get Bubbie and Clemmie and we’ll eat?
JODIE turns to CHARLIE.
JODIE: It’s your fault! You wrecked this family and now nobody wants to be around us!
JERRY: Jodie, stop. Let’s get the dinner.
JODIE: And the dinner’s ruined, too! Now that we’ve waited this long the roast is well done! There was no way to help it.
JERRY: So what? Maybe it is.
JODIE: attacking CHARLIE
You blow out of here and ruin your mother’s life, your father’s life, my life! And now you come back for a party and think it will be the same as when you left! Are you crazy? That’s why nobody came to this! Because they knew you were coming!
BETH: Charlie, go talk to your grandmother.
CHARLIE: It’s okay, Ma. Maybe she needs to say these things.
BETH: No, she doesn’t. Go.
CHARLIE: Ma, I don’t mind. If Jodie needs to get a few things out, we can go from there.
BETH: I said that wasn’t the case.
CHARLIE: How can you be sure?
SANDY: Charlie, your mother probably knows what she’s talking about.
CHARLIE and SANDY exit.
JODIE: after a moment
It’s his fault.
BETH: Jodie. Listen to me.
JODIE: I’m listening!
BETH: Jodie. Look at me.
No response. Jodie looks away.
BETH: Have you been taking your medicine?
JODIE: I don’t know!
Jodie. Have you?
JODIE: Who cares?
You can’t stop taking it.
JODIE: I can if I want to!
BETH: And you’ll end up like this.
JODIE: Maybe this is the way I like to be! I’m being honest! Somebody around here needs to be honest. That medicine does more harm than good. Can’t you tell? It makes me stupid. It makes me a zombie. Or maybe you like it when I’m a zombie! Is that what you like?
BETH: You need to take it now.
JODIE: It doesn’t work that way. Remember?
BETH: I know it doesn’t work that way. But take it anyway. We’ll try to get through dinner.
JODIE: I don’t want to get through dinner!
I said take it!