Kiwi Child (one act play)

SCENE 10
JENNA’S house.

WILLIAM: About a week after nine eleven this guy hung himself in the room next to mine. First the twin towers. Then Richard.

(pause)

That was it for me.

NINA: Did you call mommy to come bring you home?

WILLIAM: I stayed the rest of the year, but I never left my room. It was like…that guy was a normal guy…and he looked like such a freak, hanging there like that. Then this aura of freakiness in the world just sort of surrounded me, and I turned into a freak. Couldn’t help it. I’ve been a freak ever since. I went almost a year without eating.

NINA: That’s impossible.

WILLIAM: My roommate brought me Doritos. Pot and Doritos. That was it. He was a great roommate. When they took me to the hospital — I was on the psychiatric floor for two weeks — I got all these IV’s. They said my blood was pure shit.

NINA: It looks okay now.

WILLIAM: Did you know they empty out the psychiatric floor on holidays? They take a break. If it weren’t for Memorial Day, I might still be there.

William stops. Suddenly, he becomes excited.

I could make you…like…the world’s greatest grilled cheese sandwich.

NINA: No thanks.

WILLIAM: Seriously. I have my own way of making them.

NINA: There aren’t that many ways to make one.

WILLIAM: You’d be surprised.

NINA: No thanks.

WILLIAM: C’mon. Lemme make you one.

NINA: I really don’t want it.

WILLIAM: I’ll make you one and you don’t have to eat it.

William exits to the kitchen.

NINA sits alone. Enter Ellen. She wears a nightgown and looks rough, as if she’s either been sedated or has a hangover. She carries a cigarette, unlit. She notices NINA and speaks to her as if she’s always there.

ELLEN: Can’t find a light. Have you got a light?

NINA: No.

ELLEN: Nobody carries matches anymore. What the hell is going on?

ELLEN collapses, heavily, on the couch.

ELLEN: Honey, I’ll give you ten dollars this minute for a match or a cigarette lighter.

NINA: Don’t have one.

ELLEN: Could you check your purse?

NINA: There’s not one in there.

ELLEN: Is William here?

NINA: In the kitchen.

ELLEN: Go tell him I need a light, now. Tell him it’s an emergency.

Ellen leans back, eyes closed, in pain.

Nina exits.

William brings his mother a lighter and returns to the kitchen.

ELLEN: You don’t smoke?

NINA: No.

ELLEN: Smokers have a bond. You see this couch?

NINA: Yeah.

ELLEN: It was my Aunt’s. Look at it.

NINA: It’s fine.

ELLEN: Look at that.

Ellen points to tears in the upholstery.

ELLEN: William had a cat.

NINA: William didn’t train the cat to…

ELLEN: My aunt would turn over in her grave if she knew about it. She was crazy. A fat, dumb ol’ broad who didn’t do anything but cook and talk. Where’s Jenna?

NINA: Went to get my toboggan.

ELLEN: The dark green one that William wore all the time?

NINA: William wore my toboggan?

ELLEN: Constantly. He probably slept in it.

Enter WILLIAM, with the sandwich. It’s not an ordinary sandwich. The cheese and the bread are reversed.

WILLIAM: (to ELLEN) What are you doing in here?

ELLEN: Sitting on my couch.

WILLIAM: I’ve got company.

ELLEN: She’s not company. She’s here for that toboggan.

WILLIAM: We were talking.

ELLEN: So talk.

WILLIAM: Not with you here.

ELLEN: I’m not bothering you.

WILLIAM: You always bother me.

ELLEN: You could fix me a sandwich every once in a while.

WILLIAM: Mom!

ELLEN: I’m not doing anything.

WILLIAM: (shouting) Could you leave me alone!

Groaning with much effort, she lifts herself from the couch. William takes her place on it.

ELLEN: Okay.

ELLEN exits.

WILLIAM: I am not in the mood for her.

NINA: That’s not a sandwich.

WILLIAM: I told you it was unique. It’s a great sandwich.

NINA: It’s just cheese.

Giving it to her, with a fork…

WILLIAM: Try it.

NINA: No thanks.

WILLIAM: One bite.

NINA: What is it?

WILLIAM: Try it.

NINA: Not unless you tell me what’s in there.

WILLIAM: As you can see, the bread and cheese are reversed. There’s a bit of mustard and mayonnaise, salt and pepper. And pickles. That’s it.
She takes a bite.

WILLIAM: You like it?

NINA: I tried it. Are you happy?

WILLIAM: Do you like it?

NINA: It’s okay.

WILLIAM: You can take the rest of it home. For later.

NINA: No thanks.

WILLIAM: You should. It’s just as good cold.

NINA: No!

WILLIAM: It’s yours. I’m not gonna eat it.

NINA: Fine. Don’t.

WILLIAM: You know who I think we ought to attack next?

NINA: Attack?

WILLIAM: With our military might.

NINA: I don’t think we should attack anybody.

WILLIAM: We’ve got to attack somebody. We’re too powerful to just sit around doing nothing. You know who I think it should be?

NINA: Iran.

WILLIAM: Nope.

NINA: North Korea.

WILLIAM: Nope.

NINA: Russia.

WILLIAM: Not even close.

NINA: Nobody has to attack anybody.

WILLIAM: I think we ought to invade New Zealand and secure the world’s kiwi supply.

NINA: Super. I wonder why Jenna isn’t back yet.

WILLIAM: They would be totally surprised. Totally defenseless. People love kiwi. It used to be rare. You’d never see ‘em. My dad says that when he was a kid, he didn’t even know what a kiwi was. Now, every time you turn around, somebody’s serving kiwi. We already control California. If we could overthrow the regime in New Zealand, we’d have the entire world’s kiwi market cornered. A war like that would get my support. I’d sign-up.

NINA: God.

WILLIAM: You know what? I’ve got to get dressed and floss my teeth.

William exits. She observes the sandwich.

NINA sits, waiting. One knock at the door. CHARLES, who is much older than William, lets himself in.

CHARLES: Where’s William? We’ll be late for our tee time.

NINA: He’s getting dressed.

CHARLES: My God! Isn’t it like pulling teeth to get that boy to get out of bed and put on clothes? It’s a constant struggle. Constant.

He breaks that comment and focuses on NINA, checking her out as a possible target for the story he wants to tell.

CHARLES: I just saw a wreck. Happened right beside me. Look at me.

He holds out his hand, displaying a tremble.

CHARLES: See that?

NINA: Anybody hurt?

CHARLES: Don’t know.

Noticing the uniform…

CHARLES: You work with Jenna at the grocery store?

NINA: Uh huh.

CHARLES: Those jobs are the pits.

NINA: Not that bad.

CHARLES: Working the cash register in a grocery store is very stressful. Know why?

NINA: Because the line never stops.

CHARLES: That’s right! You don’t have any control. They just keep coming and coming. Control is the key. That’s where the stress comes from.

NINA: It’s really not that bad.

CHARLES: Oh, it’s absolutely horrible. You’re not in touch because you’re numb. I feel so sorry for you.

NINA: It’s not that bad. A lot of people do it.

CHARLES: It’s a sad existence.

NINA: What do you do that’s so great?

CHARLES: Me? I just finished a novel.

NINA: Published?

CHARLES: I just finished writing it. William read it.

NINA: What’s it about?

CHARLES: There’s this cop who investigates incest cases and things go awry when he finds out it’s going on in his own family.

NINA: (sarcastic) Sounds great. So he’s got to squeal on his own family.

CHARLES: You’ll have to read the book.

William, now dressed in clothes, ambles into the room, ready to go. He’s obviously been listening.

WILLIAM: Talking about Taboo Dude? Wanna borrow my copy?

NINA: I don’t want to read it.

CHARLES: Why not?

NINA: It’s terrible.

WILLIAM: How can you tell?

NINA: Intuition. It’s obvious.

CHARLES: It’s not Fitzgerald, but it’s a decent debut.

NINA: Doesn’t it have to be published before it’s a debut?

CHARLES: Don’t you like to read?

NINA: I don’t like to read about perverts.

CHARLES: Who said it was about perverts? It’s about a detective.

NINA: A detective who investigates incest!

CHARLES: That’s real life. That’s part of our society.

NINA: Well I don’t have to read about it.

CHARLES: Let me give you some advice. Open your mind.

NINA: Yeah. I’ll do that.

CHARLES: William, let’s go. (to Nina) We’re playing golf.

They begin to exit.

NINA: Where are your clubs?

WILLIAM: He does most of the golf.

CHARLES: (to Nina) Do you play?

NINA: Never.

CHARLES: It was lovely meeting you.

They exit. NINA waits. Alone, she contemplates what’s happened in the house. Obviously, she’s been affected. She’s pensive, touched. A moment later, WILLIAM returns, without CHARLES.

WILLIAM: Hold on a minute.

He exits to the kitchen and returns quickly with a paper towel.

WILLIAM: Here. You can take the sandwich home. If it’s too rich, you can keep it in the fridge and have it a little at a time.

He wraps the sandwich in the paper towel and gives it to her.

NINA: Thank you.

WILLIAM: See ya! Oh, wait minute! I’ve got something else for you.

He exits, to his bedroom, and returns with a black toboggan.

WILLIAM: Here.

NINA: This yours?

WILLIAM: I want you to have it. I’ve got plenty of ‘em.

NINA: That’s okay. Just because you gave mine away doesn’t mean you have to…

WILLIAM: I want you to have it. Don’t you want it?

NINA: Sure.

WILLIAM: It’ll look great on you. I promise. Put it on.

She takes off the gray toboggan and begins to put on the toboggan.

WILLIAM: Wait a minute.

NINA: What?

WILLIAM: Why do you wear these?

She answers honestly, surprising herself as much as William.

NINA: I don’t like my hair.

He touches her hair.

WILLIAM: It’s nice.
He puts the toboggan on her.

WILLIAM: That looks okay. I’m serious.

NINA: Yeah?

WILLIAM: Yeah.

A moment. Nina smiles her first and only smile.
.
WILLIAM exits. Door slams. She puts the sandwich in her pocketbook.

Nina sits, waiting. Enter Jenna. Nina stands up.

JENNA: Okay, I don’t have your toboggan, but before you have a cow, let me explain.

NINA: You know, I’ve decided I don’t want it anyway.

JENNA: Huh?

NINA: I’m sorry I put you to so much trouble.

JENNA: You got it in Delaware. It was really special. You know, memories from the trip or something. Listen, I tried…

NINA: William gave me another one.

JENNA: (considering this) You were actually with him all this time. I’m sorry.

NINA: It’s okay.

JENNA: Did he give you the creeps or anything?

NINA: He was fine.

JENNA: He’s too weird.

NINA: He’s different.

JENNA: Different? He’s weird!

NINA: Does he ever even think about going back to school or looking for a job, or anything?

JENNA: Not anymore.

NINA: Listen, you doing anything tonight?

JENNA: Not really.

NINA: Wanna do something? Get some coffee or something?

JENNA: I thought you had plans.

NINA: Nothing special. You wanna do something?

JENNA: Sure.

NINA: I’ll pick you up here if you want.

JENNA: Sure.

Blackout.

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