Our Lady of 121st Street: Jesus Hopped the A Train and In Arabia, We'll All Be Kings

( 2 )

Overview

Stephen Adly Guirgis has been hailed as one of the most promising playwrights at work in America today. A masterful poet of the downtrodden, his plays portray life on New York's hardscrabble streets in a manner both tender and unflinching, while continually exploring the often startling gulf between who we are and how we perceive ourselves. Gathered in this volume is his current off-Broadway hit, Our Lady of 121st Street, a comic portrait of the graduates of a Harlem Catholic school reunited at the funeral of a ...

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Our Lady of 121st Street: Jesus Hopped the A Train; In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings

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Overview

Stephen Adly Guirgis has been hailed as one of the most promising playwrights at work in America today. A masterful poet of the downtrodden, his plays portray life on New York's hardscrabble streets in a manner both tender and unflinching, while continually exploring the often startling gulf between who we are and how we perceive ourselves. Gathered in this volume is his current off-Broadway hit, Our Lady of 121st Street, a comic portrait of the graduates of a Harlem Catholic school reunited at the funeral of a beloved teacher, along with his two previous plays: the philosophical jailhouse drama Jesus Hopped the A Train and In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings, an Iceman Cometh for the Giuliani era that looks at the effect of Times Square's gentrification on its less desirable inhabitants.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Guirgis already belongs on the list of accomplished young American playwrights that includes Suzan-Lori Parks and David Auburn." -Bruce Weber, The New York Times Magazine

"The best new play in a decade."-The New York Observer

"Guirgis has a hilarious, sympathetic, terrific ear . . . he heightens the rhythms of the street until there is a brilliant, buoyant cacophony." -Donald Lyons, New York Post

"An important new playwright has arrived." —The New Yorker

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780571211883
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber
  • Publication date: 11/5/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 518,555
  • Product dimensions: 8.06 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Adley Guirgis is an actor and playwright. A member of the LABrynth Theater Company and the MCC Playwrights Coalition, Guirgis is the recipient of new play commissions from South Coast Repertory and The Manhattan Theatre Club. He lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Our Lady of 121st Street

OUR LADY OF 121st STREET

Our Lady of 121st Street was originally produced by the LAByrinth Theater Company, Jinn S. Kim, John Gould Rubin, and Robin Framer at Center Stage, New York, on September 16, 2002. Subsequently produced at the Union Square Theatre by the LAByrinth Theater Company, John Gould Rubin, Ira Pittelman, Robyn Goodman, Ruth Hendel, and Daryl Roth on March 6, 2003.

 

Both productions were directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman; sets were designed by Marelle Sissions; costumes by Mimi O'Donnell; lights by James Vermeulen; and sound by Eric DeArmon. The production stage manager was Monica Moore.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

SETTING

In and around the Ortiz Funeral Home, Harlem

CHARACTERS

Victor, Italian-American, early fifties Balthazar, Latino, mid-thirties Rooftop, African-American, mid-forties Father Lux, white, mid-seventies Flip, African-American, thirty-seven Gail, white, thirty-seven Inez, African-American, late thirties Norca, Latina, late thirties Edwin, Latino, late thirties Pinky, Latino, late thirties Marcia, white, mid-thirties Sonia, white, early thirties

ACT I: LATE MORNING

Scene 1: Ortiz Funeral Home. Main viewing room. Balthazar and Vic stand in front of an empty casket.

VIC: What kinda fuckin' world is this?!

 

BALTHAZAR: Mmm.

 

VIC: I mean, am I alone here?!

 

BALTHAZAR: "Alone," "not alone"—

 

VIC: What did she ever do anyway, huh?! What did Rose ever do till the day she died but be a fuckin' living saint on this earth to deserve this ... this sacrilege!

 

BALTHAZAR: Sister Rose was a good woman.

 

VIC: There are limits—I don't give a shit! Maybe you grew up in a godless jungle, but I remember when the world was not this! And this? This is not the world!

 

BALTHAZAR: Okay.

 

VIC: Her fuckin' father, he should rot in hell! That's first off! Demons should shit in his mouth daily, the Irish punk! Don't take much guts to beat on a woman, ya get me?

 

BALTHAZAR: I wasn't aware of her history—

 

VIC: Why you think she became a nun anyway, beautiful girl like that? All this "needle exchange," "alcoholic drunk tank" she had runnin' up here? "Gangs" this, "stop the violence" that? All that thankless shit she did? Was it because she was a good person? Sure. But if ya look underneath it all, it's two things: she donned the habit because she was terrified of intimacy, and all them programs was a way to atone for the sins of her fuckin' piece-of-dirt Shanty-Irish Mick-fuck father!

 

BALTHAZAR: Hey, what's your name?

 

VIC: My name?

 

BALTHAZAR: Yeah, friend, tell me your name.

 

VIC: It's Victor. Why?

 

BALTHAZAR: You wanna drink, Vic? A little nip? Take the edge off?

 

VIC: I prefer to keep my edge on, pal.

 

(BALTHAZAR drinks from a half-pint bottle.)

 

BALTHAZAR: Gotta ask you about your pants, Vic.

 

VIC: My pants?

 

BALTHAZAR: You are aware that you're not wearing pants?

 

VIC: Of course I'm aware—they stole 'em!

 

BALTHAZAR: Where'd you sleep last night, Vic?

 

VIC: I slept here last night, and my name is Victor, not Vic.

 

BALTHAZAR: That's quite uncommon, isn't it? A mourner sleeping over at a wake?

 

VIC: What are you, a cop?

 

BALTHAZAR: No, Vic, I'm a farmer. I came here to sell some eggs.

 

VIC: You accusing me of something?!

 

BALTHAZAR: I'm sorry. I'm not accusing, sir, just, I get a call, I come here, there's a man ranting in his underwear, a missing corpse, no sign of forced entry—and it's not the corpse of Ned the Wino or Bobo the Clown that's been stolen, it's our Sister Rose, sir. Sister Rose.

 

VIC: Look, I came over in the mornin' yesterday, it was a fuckin' mad house in here, okay?! Crackhead junkies, politicians, reporters, screaming babies, I had ta leave. I came back at closin', tossed the funeral guy a couple hundred bucks ... I wanted, I needed a little time, all right?!

 

BALTHAZAR: Okay.

 

VIC: I knew her my whole life since we were six, for Christ's sake.

 

BALTHAZAR: I understand.

 

VIC: These fuckin' people, yesterday? Some of them showin' up in dirty jeans and T-shirts?! Eating pizza?! Little kids with video games makin' loud electrical noises?! I mean, "What goes on here," no?! ... I saw one mothahfuckah kneelin' in front of Rose's casket, he's prayin', then his fuckin' cell phone goes off and he ... he fuckin' answers it!! Has a goddamn conversationin Spanish, and not a short one ... Talkin' loud too—"Mira, mira, mira"—kneelin' over her fuckin' casket!! I mean, what the fuck is that, mister?! Can you tell me?! Cuz I'm at a loss over here—

 

BALTHAZAR: Grief takes different forms.

 

VIC: That ain't grief! I don't know what the fuck that is, but it ain't grief!

 

BALTHAZAR: I once knew a guy—hey now, listen ta me.

 

VIC: I'm here.

 

BALTHAZAR: True Story: I once knew a guy, a coupla detectives went to his apartment to inform him that his son had been raped and murdered in the playground up on a hundred thirty-seventh—

 

VIC: Jesus ...

 

BALTHAZAR: You know what his reaction was? And keep in mind this is a man who loved his son dearly, okay? His reaction was: He wouldn't leave the house to I.D. the body until after the Knicks game was over ... It was "the playoffs," he said. They watched the whole fourth quarter together in silence. He served them ham sandwiches with warm beer. And this is a man who lived ... for his son.

 

(BALTHAZAR takes another swig from his bottle.)

 

BALTHAZAR: I am going to close this casket now. You are going to go outside and speak to my partner. He will secure you a new pair of pants. Where you live, Vic? Brooklyn? Queens?

 

VIC: Staten Island.

 

BALTHAZAR: We'll have a squad car drive you home.

 

VIC: I'm here for the duration.

 

BALTHAZAR: Okay. Crime Scene needs to work through this room now, Vic. When they're done, the room will be open again. Okay?

 

VIC: Fine.

 

BALTHAZAR: My partner's outside in front of a black-and-gray Ford. Ya can't miss him, he's Chinese and he walks with a pronounced limp.

 

VIC: For the record, I had nuthin' to do with this.

 

BALTHAZAR: I don't think that you did.

 

VIC: Just make sure you catch the mothahfuckah.

 

BALTHAZAR: Sister Rose was my teacher. I liked her very much.

 

VIC: Ya know, if Rudy were still in office, this woulda never happened—I'm sure of it. He wouldn't of took this lyin' down for two seconds.

 

BALTHAZAR: My partner—he's right outside.

 

VIC: Right ... Say ... Did they ever catch that guy?

 

BALTHAZAR: What guy?

 

VIC: The guy who murdered the kid.

 

BALTHAZAR: No ... No, not yet.

 

VIC: What, uh, what ever happened to the guy with the ham sandwiches?

 

BALTHAZAR: The guy with the ham sandwiches?

 

VIC: Yeah ...

 

BALTHAZAR: Why? You want one?

 

VIC: One what?

 

BALTHAZAR: A ham sandwich.

 

VIC: Do I ...?

 

BALTHAZAR: It's a joke, Vic. I'm joking.

 

VIC: Not funny. Not funny at all.

Scene 2: The church. Walter "Rooftop" Desmond confesses.

ROOFTOP: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned ... (pause) ... a lot, know what I'm sayin? ... Yes, sir ... Um ... Are you there, Father?

 

FATHER LUX: Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: All right, juss checkin' ... That you, Father Martin?

 

FATHER LUX: Uh, no.

 

ROOFTOP: Father Cunningham?

 

FATHER LUX: No.

 

ROOFTOP: Oh ... Where Father Cunningham at?

 

FATHER LUX: Excuse me?

 

ROOFTOP: I say, where Father Cunningham at?

 

FATHER LUX: Father Cunningham?

 

ROOFTOP: Yeah.

 

FATHER LUX: He's—no longer with us.

 

ROOFTOP: Father C, you talkin' 'bout?

 

FATHER LUX: Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: "No longer with us," huh?

 

FATHER LUX: Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: Father C?

 

FATHER LUX: Correct.

 

ROOFTOP: He didn't do something "bad," did he?

 

FATHER LUX: He's dead.

 

ROOFTOP: Dead?!

 

FATHER LUX: With God, yes.

 

ROOFTOP: Well, pardon me, but—why didn't you just say that then?

 

FATHER LUX: What?

 

ROOFTOP: I'm sayin', if the man's dead, juss say he dead.

 

FATHER LUX: I did.

 

ROOFTOP: Nah, you said "no longer with us"—like ... like a "scandal" or something.

 

FATHER LUX: Are you here to make confession, sir?

 

ROOFTOP: Yes, I am, but Father C was a close, personal friend of mine, and I can't really appreciate—

 

FATHER LUX: Father Cunningham has been dead for fifteen years, sir, okay?!

 

(Pause)

 

ROOFTOP: Oh ... Okay ... Sorry ...

 

FATHER LUX: ... So how long since your last confession?

 

ROOFTOP: My last confession?

 

FATHER LUX: Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: The last one?

 

FATHER LUX: Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: You mean in a church?

 

FATHER LUX: In a church, yes.

 

ROOFTOP: Right. Well ... last one been ...

 

FATHER LUX: Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: Well ... well, it's been ... Know what I'm sayin'? It's been been. Definitely been been.

 

FATHER LUX: Okay.

 

ROOFTOP: Put it like this: my first confession?, that was my last time checkin' in with y'all, so, yeah, been a while ... been ... well ...

 

FATHER LUX: Got it. Proceed.

 

ROOFTOP: Cuz I mean, ya know, my moms raised me right, went to school right upstairs, listened ta the nuns, Sister Rose and all, still ... Shit! Is Father C really dead?!

 

FATHER LUX: What?

 

ROOFTOP: Cuz I was hopin' ta get Father C.

 

FATHER LUX: Sir—

 

ROOFTOP: Guess everybody got ta go, right?

 

FATHER LUX: Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: Still, how's a man gonna up and die with no warning?

 

FATHER LUX: Sir—

 

ROOFTOP: Send a telegram, sumpthin': "Might die soon. FYI."

 

FATHER LUX: Perhaps you ought to collect yourself and come back later.

 

ROOFTOP: Hey Father, did you know that Father C one time got hit by a Mack truck but he was okay?

 

FATHER LUX: Sir—

 

ROOFTOP: See, us kids, we was playin' Booties Up on the wall across from here, but we was all standin' in the street like fools do, and—

 

FATHER LUX: Stop.

 

ROOFTOP: What, I can't relate a little anecdote?

 

FATHER LUX: What you can do, sir, is confess.

 

ROOFTOP: Confess, huh?

 

FATHER LUX: Confess your sins. Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: Dag, you all business, ain't cha, Father?

 

FATHER LUX: Sir—

 

ROOFTOP: No prelude nuthin'—just spit it out.

 

FATHER LUX: Sir—

 

ROOFTOP:—"Early birds eat apples and worms," I gotcha—got no argument wit' that.

 

FATHER LUX: Okay then.

 

ROOFTOP: You got a forthright nature, Father—no nonsense—I respect that in a man.

 

FATHER LUX: Oh. Well—

 

ROOFTOP: Still, even Hank Aaron hit a few off the practice tee before he stepped up to the rock—gotta marinate before ya grill, right?

 

FATHER LUX: This is not a "cook-out," sir.

 

ROOFTOP: No, it's not—

 

FATHER LUX: No charcoal, no anecdotes, no franks and beans—

 

ROOFTOP: True dat—

 

FATHER LUX: This is, in fact, a Confessional, sir. A Confessional—not a "Conversational." Do you understand that distinction?

 

ROOFTOP: I'll keep it moving.

 

FATHER LUX: Thank you.

 

ROOFTOP: Ok ... right: So ... So, yeah—I mean, whaddyacallit? The interVenal Sins?

 

FATHER LUX: Venal.

 

ROOFTOP: What?

 

FATHER LUX: Venal.

 

ROOFTOP: Venal yeah—mucho venal. Venal Sins. Dass daily, daily occurrence. Prolly racked up a dozen since I walked up inhere ... And, uh, Mortal Sins? Mortal Sins, Father? I mean, "pick a Commandment, any Commandment," know what I'm sayin'?

 

FATHER LUX: How 'bout you pick one?

 

ROOFTOP: Oh ... okay ... uh ... Dag, Father, I'm juss, I'm juss a bad man, Father. Lyin', cheatin', stealin', and humpin'—Dag. Freebasing ... See, I'm the kind a guy—one time I ... well, there was this girl once ... Say Father, I can't smoke in here, right?

Scene 3: Flip and Gail by the bathroom—midstream

 

FLIP: Do not act like a faggot!

 

GAIL: Excuse you?

 

FLIP: Put your collar down!

 

GAIL: My collar?

 

FLIP: Where'd that scarf come from?! You were not wearing that scarf when we left the hotel, Gail!

 

GAIL: You said we were coming here as a couple, Robert!

 

FLIP: And I changed my mind! And you know that I changed my mind because I been tellin' you all fuckin' morning, Gail, that I changed my fuckin' mind—so just lose the scarf, do not act like a faggot, and stop calling me fuckin' "Robert"!

 

GAIL: What should I call you? Penelope?

 

FLIP: Flip, Goddamnit! For the fifty-eighth time, they call me Flip!

 

GAIL: Flip what? Flip a pancake? Flip a flappy Flip Flop?

 

FLIP: Gail—

 

GAIL: Maybe I should have a special name too, like ... "Rocky."

 

FLIP: Stop it—

 

GAIL: I could be "Hercules," grow a beard.

 

FLIP: Look! You're an "actor," right? So juss act like you're not a faggot for a few fuckin' hours if that's not fuckin' beneath you, okay?!

 

GAIL: Cursing.

 

FLIP: I will not have this today, Gail! Do you hear me? Will not have it!

 

GAIL: Will not have what, Robert? A relationship? A partner? The respect of the man who lies beside you at night?

 

FLIP: You know who I am, and you know how I feel about you!

 

GAIL: Do I?

 

FLIP: Don't do this today, Gail.

 

GAIL: My friends embraced you, Robert! My parents took you in!

 

FLIP: Your friends are all gay, Gail, and your parents trumpet my race and sexuality with unconcealed glee 'cuz it makes them feel like better liberals!

 

GAIL: I'm going to tell them you said that!

 

FLIP: Good. Why don't you hop on the next plane and tell them in person.

 

GAIL: Do you really mean that? Do you?

 

FLIP: You know what? I ain't even tryin' ta have this conversation!

 

GAIL: "Ain't even tryin'"?!

 

FLIP: Dass what I said!

 

GAIL: Right, "Assimilation." Going back ta the "'hood," can't be you, gotta be someone you never were.

 

FLIP: Careful now—

 

GAIL: No, Robert, you're the one who should be careful! Didn't you ever see "The Death of Sunny" with Shelley Winters?

 

FLIP: Gail—

 

GAIL: Sunny Waldman denied her Jewishness before a Nazi tribunal to avoid the death camps—and what happened to Sunny? She became a morphine-addicted harlot who ended up wandering into the forests of Bavaria to be consumed by wolves and jackals—that's what! Denial's like a pair of Prada silk pajamas, Robert—the price is just too high!

 

FLIP: Look, Drama Empress: Just turn it down a few notches and be here for me. Quiet and dignified. Can you do that, yes or no?!

 

GAIL: "Turn it down a few notches"?

 

FLIP: Yes or no, Gail!

 

GAIL: I am not a drama Empress!

 

FLIP: I am begging you, okay? Begging.

 

GAIL: On my worst day, I'm more masculine than you.

 

FLIP: Gail—

 

GAIL: I'm like a young Al Pacino: intense, soulful—

 

FLIP: Oh, you aren't a "young" anything, Gail! And you certainly, certainly, ain't no Al Pacino!

 

(INEZ exits bathroom.)

 

INEZ: Flip Johnson, shit!! Is that really you??!!

 

FLIP: Inez Smith?! Dag, girl, you're lookin' too fine! Oh, Jesus—how long it's been?

 

INEZ: Nevah mind all that. You look so good, Flip! How come you look so good?

 

FLIP: 'Cuz I'm lookin' at you, Inez Smith!

 

INEZ: Aw, Flip! Flip! Who's this man, Flip?

 

FLIP: Ah, Inez, I'd like you to meet my colleague, this is—

 

GAIL: Goliath. Goliath Muscleton.

 

INEZ: Goliath, huh?

 

FLIP: Goliath is one of my partners at the firm.

 

INEZ: Oh, well, that's nice.

 

FLIP: Yeah, it is.

 

INEZ: I guess things must be pretty progressive out there in Wisconsin. Maybe I should move there.

 

GAIL: What do you mean?

 

INEZ: I mean, a black man and a gay man, partners in the same firm—

 

FLIP: I'm not gay, Inez.

 

INEZ: I'm not talkin' 'bout you, honey, I'm talkin' 'bout Goliath here. (To GAIL) Now you stay away from my man now, girl—

 

FLIP: Say. How's Rooftop doin'?

 

INEZ: Oh, Me and Walter divorced fifteen years now, baby. I hope the bastard's got leukemia.

 

GAIL: (To INEZ) So I look gay to you, but "Flip" doesn't? I wonder why that is?

 

FLIP: Maybe 'cuz you homosexual, and I'm not. (To INEZ) Now how's that for a theory?

 

INEZ: Sounds good to me. Anyway, I'm gettin' ready to move on, Flip. I gotta go meet Norca before the wake.

 

FLIP: Nasty Norca? How is she?

 

INEZ: Fucked up and forgotten, so I'm told ... Haven't seen her in years.

 

FLIP: Now, why's that?

 

INEZ: Cuz she slept wit' Walter, fuckin' ho.

 

FLIP: Say what?!

 

INEZ: Please. Walter cherry-popped every Jordache bubble-butt from Ninety-sixth on up, served me right to be so damn naive ... Comin' home with tar stains all on his sweatpants. Pigeon feathers. And ta think, I thought y'all called him, "Rooftop" 'cuz he was tall ... We gonna have a drink tonight, baby?

 

FLIP: Shit, "Do a cow got lips"?

 

INEZ: Do a cow got what?! "Lips," Flip?!

 

FLIP: It's, it's an expression ...

 

INEZ: "Do a cow got lips"?! Oh, Flip Johnson, you are just so cute I could eat your little fine-ass self alive—

 

FLIP: You know how we do—

 

INEZ: You done Gone Country up there in Wisconsin, ain't cha?!

 

GAIL: Yee-haw.

 

INEZ: "Do a cow got lips"?—I'm a haveta try that one out on my peoples in Bed-Stuy!—

 

FLIP: Anyway—tonight baby, after: it's you, me, and a pitcher a margaritas—and I'll be lookin' forward to that.

 

INEZ: All right then ... Flip, do I look old?

 

FLIP: Girl, you're The Fountain of Youth.

 

INEZ: Thank you. Well, nice to meet you, Ulysses.

 

FLIP: Goliath.

 

INEZ: Shame about Sister Rose, huh? I heard they found her on the curb.

 

FLIP: Heart attack?

 

INEZ: Alcohol.

 

FLIP: What?

 

INEZ: Yeah, now they can't find her at all.

 

FLIP: How you mean?

 

INEZ: They stole her body and the pants off a white man.

 

FLIP: What?

 

INEZ: They gonna bury an empty box in the mornin' if she don't turn up. Well ... Bye, baby.

 

(INEZ exits.)

 

(Pause)

 

GAIL: What were you inferring when you said that I "certainly, certainly, ain't no Al Pacino"?

 

FLIP: What?!

 

GAIL: I want to know what you meant by that.

 

FLIP: Gail?!

 

GAIL: Because if you're inferring that I'm not a good actor—

 

FLIP: Gail, I just got some unsettling news.

 

GAIL: So did I. According to you, I can't act!

 

FLIP: Why are you talking about this?!

 

GAIL: And you didn't just say "certainly," you said "certainly, certainly," like, "Oh, certainly, certainty"—

 

FLIP: Go back to the hotel, Gail!

 

GAIL: I don't want to be with somebody who doesn't respect what I do!

 

FLIP: Oh, yeah?! Well, you're a fuckin' lousy actor, Gail—not "not good," lousy! You're the worst actor in the state of Wisconsin—and that's no easy feat!

 

GAIL: That's not true.

 

FLIP: Oh, it is true! When's the last time you made a fuckin' dime acting anyway? Never! That's when.

 

GAIL: I studied with Lee Strasberg!

 

FLIP: That's prolly what killed him!

 

(FLIP drinks from the flask.)

 

GAIL: You're upset, you're angry with me, that's why you're being cruel right now, saying things that you know aren't true.

 

FLIP: I know when I go to a theater and something sucks ass, Gail!

 

GAIL: If you're referring to my Torvald—

 

FLIP: I'm referring to your everything! You did that show with the kids and fuckin' five-year-olds were acting circles 'round you! Everything you're in, you're the worst fucking one! Ask our friends! Ask anyone who knows you! You suck, okay?! You accuse me of denial?! Look at your own self, Gail!

 

GAIL: At least ...

 

FLIP: At least what? I know who I am—I'm a lawyer, Gail! And what are you—other than a fuckin' self-centered, drunk, swishing community theater housewife!

 

GAIL: I am not that fern.

 

FLIP: Whatever!

 

GAIL: So you admit I'm not that fern?

 

(FLIP drinks.)

 

FLIP: I am so tolerant of your weaknesses, Gail. I really am. But you? You have no empathy for anything that goes against what you want when you want it.

 

GAIL: Robert—

 

FLIP: You think joint checking was easy for me? I have your name on everything that's mine, and I've put in the work every dayfor the last two years to allow myself to keep growing closer to you.

 

GAIL: And I applaud that—

 

FLIP: Inez ain't stupid, Gail. All I asked for was the respect to handle my business, in my neighborhood, with my people, at my own pace and in my own way. You couldn't even give me that.

 

GAIL: Where you goin'?

 

FLIP: I don't know.

 

GAIL: Can I come?

 

FLIP: Get away.

 

(FLIP exits.)

 

GAIL: So are we still together?

Scene 4: Norca and Balthazar, a hallway In the funeral home. Midstream.

BALTHAZAR: Last night, Norca, between ten p.m. and nine a.m., where were you?

 

NORCA: I was at your mother's house fuckin' her in her ass wid a strap on—dass where I was!

 

BALTHAZAR: Very funny.

 

NORCA: You see anybody laughin'? I know your mothah ain't laughin'—I drove that bitch's head thru the wall, her hair all covered in plaster an' shit ... I could go now, "Ossifer"?!

 

BALTHAZAR: Detective.

 

NORCA: Rent-a-cop! Fisher Price Bitch!!

 

(BALTHAZAR takes a drink from his flask.)

 

BALTHAZAR: Where are your kids these days, Norca? Spofford? Foster care? Rikers?

 

NORCA: Where's your kid, Balthazar? Oh, yeah—he in a cemetery, all raped up and dead, ain't that right, Mr. Parent?! Mr. Judgmental alcoholic mothahfuckah!

 

(BALTHAZAR smiles.)

 

BALTHAZAR: I hope you took her, Norca.

 

NORCA: Took who?

 

BALTHAZAR: "Took who"?

 

NORCA: I ain't stuttered. Took who, mothahfuckah?!

 

BALTHAZAR: You're very smart, Norca. You always been smart. That brain of yours, it hurts to carry it around, doesn't it?

 

NORCA: It's been five seconds, Balthazar, don't you need another drink?

 

BALTHAZAR: The next time I take you into custody, Norca, I won't slap you on the wrist. No, the next time, Norca, I'm gonna send your ass to Bellevue—

 

NORCA: Fuck you—

 

BALTHAZAR: And when you get to Bellevue, you gonna bug out, Norca! You gonna hit somebody, or wild out somehow, and they gonna start medicating your ass. Then, you gonna be real fucked up, and they gonna send you to Creedmore for mental rehabilitation! You know you can't sign yourself out of Creedmore, right?

 

NORCA: Why you fuckin' with me?

 

BALTHAZAR: You must've visited Creedmore, right? Half your family passed through there, no? That brain of yours, Norca? That brain you love so much even though it's killin' you? Creedmore gonna snatch that brain, Norca. Snatchy, snatchy, no more brain! No more Norca. They gonna snatch your brain, and before you know it, you gonna weigh three hundred pounds, have hair where God didn't intend, and you gonna have one of those faces—you know those faces I'm talking about, right Norca? The institutionalized face? The "no more brain, smile like a three-year-old" face? The "I've been downgraded from a human to a mammal" face. No more Nasty Norca, you're gonna be a mammal!

 

NORCA: I ain't no mammal!

 

BALTHAZAR: Then tell me where she is!

 

NORCA: Where who is?!

 

BALTHAZAR: Where is she?

 

NORCA: Where is mothahfuckin' who?!

 

BALTHAZAR: Where is she?

 

NORCA: I don't know what you talkin' 'bout!

 

BALTHAZAR: You're lyin'.

 

NORCA: No I ain't!

 

BALTHAZAR: You're a fuckin' liar.

 

NORCA: Don't be breathin' up on me!

 

BALTHAZAR: Liar.

 

NORCA: Liar, what?!

 

BALTHAZAR: Where is she?

 

NORCA: Where is who?!

 

BALTHAZAR: Where is she?

 

NORCA: You want me to bust you in your mothahfuckin' face?!

 

BALTHAZAR: Yes. I would like very much for you to bust me in my mothahfuckin' face, Mammal Girl. Please hit me. Please.

 

NORCA: I'll do it, ya drunk-ass bitch!

 

BALTHAZAR: Please.

 

NORCA: I will!

 

BALTHAZAR: Hit me. Right now, Norca. Hit me now!

Scene 5: Edwin and Pinky, funeral home waiting room.

EDWIN: (To himself) "Sister Rose Marie was a very special person. I, personally, had her for Homeroom for First Grade, and forSecond Grade, and then for Second Grade again, and then for Second Grade one more time, which is why I respected (no, not respected), which is why, even though she beat my ass wit a shillelagh (nah, dat ain't right) ...

 

PINKY: Edwin—

 

EDWIN: "We always loved her, even when we didn't."

 

PINKY: Edwin—

 

EDWIN: Shut up, Pinky, I'm tryin' ta put my thoughts in place—

 

PINKY: Oh ... okay.

 

EDWIN: Put that cigarette out, you can't smoke in here.

 

PINKY: Sorry—

 

EDWIN: Wait. Gimme a drag first ... "We loved her 'cuz" ...

 

PINKY: You want a fresh one?

 

EDWIN: Nah ... Yeah. Whatchu smokin'?

 

PINKY: Kool Breeze.

 

EDWIN: Kool Breeze? What the fuck kinda brand is dat?

 

PINKY: Two dollah eighty-five.

 

EDWIN: Fuck dat ... You got any chocolate?

 

PINKY: I could get some.

 

EDWIN: You could get me two packs a Yodels?

 

PINKY: You wanna juss split a box?

 

EDWIN: Nah ... Yeah. You need money?

 

PINKY: Maybe juss like four dollahs.

 

EDWIN: In other words, you need money.

 

PINKY: I guess.

 

EDWIN: So juss say dat then.

 

PINKY: I didn't wanna upset your concentration.

 

EDWIN: Well, it's upset.

 

PINKY: Sorry.

 

EDWIN: Not on account a you, Pink, all right?

 

PINKY: Okay.

 

EDWIN: Are you sayin' "okay" like you believe me? Or are you juss sayin', "okay"?

 

PINKY: Like I believe you.

 

EDWIN: Are you sure? I doan wanna see you start cryin', 'cuz I juss couldn't handle that right now.

 

PINKY: I ain't gonna cry.

 

EDWIN: I mean, if you feel like cryin', cry. 'Cuz I doan wanna stifle your feelin's or nuthin'—

 

PINKY: I ain't stifled.

 

EDWIN: It's juss, I need you strong over here.

 

PINKY: I'm strong. Wanna feel my muscle?

 

EDWIN: Look, here's a twenty-dollah bill, okay? Wit the Yodels? Get a quart a milk.

 

PINKY: Okay.

 

EDWIN: Regular, not skim or some shit. The red one.

 

PINKY: I know.

 

EDWIN: And check the date. On the Yodels too. Grab the milk from the back.

 

PINKY: I got three girlfriends, Edwin.

 

EDWIN: That's great. Bring me the change.

 

PINKY: They're all pretty ... except one.

 

EDWIN: I gotta get back to this, Pinky.

 

PINKY: Okay. You're gonna make a great analogy, Edwin.

 

EDWIN: Eulogy, Pinky. Not analogy. Eulogy.

 

PINKY: I'm gonna tell her all about it when I get home.

 

EDWIN: Great ... Tell who?

 

PINKY: Sister Rose.

 

EDWIN: Pinky ... Bro ... Sister Rose is dead, you know dat, right?

 

PINKY: I know.

 

EDWIN: Dead, like, dead.

 

PINKY: I know.

 

EDWIN: Like Mom and Dad, right?

 

PINKY: Yeah. And the super, Mr. Regal.

 

EDWIN: Yeah ... Dead like them, right?

 

PINKY: In Heaven.

 

EDWIN: Dass right.

 

PINKY: Eatin' cheeseburgers ...

 

EDWIN: Watchin' Pay-Per-View for free with the Blessed Mother and Saint Anthony, and Mom and Dad ...

 

PINKY: And Mr. Regal.

 

EDWIN: Yes. Now, Pinky, when Balthazar's partner came in here and asked us those questions, you answered the truth, right?

 

PINKY: Whaddya mean?

 

EDWIN: I mean, if I were to go up to our apartment right now, I wouldn't find anyone that ain't supposed to be there, right?

 

PINKY: You mean like Mrs. McNulty's cat?

 

EDWIN: Never mind. Go get the Yodels now.

 

PINKY: I wantcha to meet my girlfriends.

 

EDWIN: I'm lookin' forward to it. Yodels. Go.

 

(Pause)

 

PINKY: I didn't mean to upset your concentration, Edwin.

 

EDWIN: I know that, Pinky.

 

PINKY: I think ... Can I say something, Edwin?

 

EDWIN: Is it sumpthin' short?

 

PINKY: Pretty short.

 

EDWIN: So say it then.

 

PINKY: Actually, it's two things.

 

EDWIN: I didn't agree to hearing two things, Pinky.

 

PINKY: I'll make it quick.

 

EDWIN: Juss fuckin' say it already.

 

PINKY: Okay. Do you think that girl Norca is gonna be here today, and can I have a hug please?

 

EDWIN: How many hugs have I given you today?

 

PINKY: Only like six.

 

EDWIN: So go get the Yodels and milk, bring me the change, and I'll give you another hug. How's that?

 

PINKY: A long hug?

 

EDWIN: Would you just get the fuckin' Yodels already?!

 

PINKY: Oh. Okay ... What about Norca?

 

EDWIN: Forget about Norca. She don't like you. Eat some Yodels and forget about that shit.

 

PINKY: I really would feel better if you—

 

EDWIN: Oh, fuckin' "Jesus fuckin' Christ" Pinky! Come over here!

 

(PINKY crosses to EDWIN. They hug. MARCIA enters.)

 

MARCIA: Oh, excuse me.

 

PINKY: Hello, lady.

 

MARCIA: Hi ... (smells) Was someone smoking in here?

 

PINKY: You wanna be my girlfriend?

 

MARCIA: Uh, I don't know. Maybe? ...

 

PINKY: I'm going to get some Yodels for me and my brother Edwin.

 

MARCIA: Oh.

 

PINKY: You look like Sister Rose.

 

MARCIA: She was my aunt.

 

PINKY: I'm getting Yodels now.

 

MARCIA: Well, nice to meet you.

 

PINKY: Can I touch your butt?

 

EDWIN: Pinky! Go get the Yodels.

 

PINKY: Okay. Bye, lady.

 

(PINKY exits.)

 

EDWIN: Hello, sorry for that. I'm, uh, Edwin Velasquez.

 

MARCIA: Marcia Cook, could you open up that window, please?!

 

EDWIN: It's closed 'cuz of the A.C.

 

MARCIA: So smoke outside!! I'm sorry, but I'm an asthmatic!

 

EDWIN: Ass-what?

 

MARCIA: Asthma? Hello! I have asthma. I mean the sign says: "Prohibido Fumar," right? But, of course, I'm the bitch, just because other people don't give a hoot about anyone else except themselves, so they have no goddamned—

 

EDWIN: Hey, look—

 

MARCIA: I mean, I could die! Okay?! I could literally have an asthma attack and drop dead right here! So I'd appreciate it if you would stop gawking at me and open the damn window before I start to really get upset!

 

EDWIN: It's open, it's open!

 

MARCIA: I'm really sorry—

 

EDWIN: Apology accepted.

 

MARCIA: Apology? See, that's the whole problem right there. I shouldn't have to go off on people and get labeled some kind of overreacting person just to get them to obey a damn law which they're supposed to just obey because it's the goddamn law! I shouldn't have to even ask!

 

EDWIN: You're very right—

 

MARCIA: I mean, I didn't put up that "No Smoking" sign.

 

EDWIN: No, you didn't.

 

MARCIA: 'Cuz if there was a sign here that said "Smoking: Mucho Gusto!!" I would've just not said a word and suffered silently and possibly died; or I would've just found another place to sit, like outside in the stifling humidity or something, okay, because—Don't look at me like that!

 

EDWIN: Like what?

 

MARCIA: Like I'm some kind of lunatic, or bitch, or rabble rouser!

 

EDWIN: What's a rabble rouser?

 

(MARCIA collapses.)

 

MARCIA: Oh, my God!

 

EDWIN: What's wrong?

 

MARCIA: Palpitations!

 

EDWIN: Palpi-who?

 

MARCIA: Danger! Danger!

 

EDWIN: What should I do?

 

MARCIA: My inhaler ... please ... my bag!

 

EDWIN: What? This?

 

MARCIA: Oh, God ... Yes ... Thank ...

 

(MARCIA inhales deeply several times.)

 

EDWIN: Should I call 911?

 

MARCIA: No! Oh, God! Danger! I'm—"count ten, Marcia"—ten, nine, five—

 

EDWIN: Eight!

 

MARCIA: Eight?

 

EDWIN: (helping her) Seven ...

 

MARCIA: Six?

 

EDWIN: Dass right—

 

MARCIA & EDWIN: Five ... four ... three ... two ... one.

 

(Pause)

 

MARCIA: Oh, my God.

 

EDWIN: That was scary.

 

MARCIA: Oh, my God.

 

EDWIN: It's okay.

 

MARCIA: Hold me?

 

EDWIN: Yeah ... Yeah, sure.

 

(EDWIN cradles MARCIA. A beat.)

 

MARCIA: You saved my life.

 

EDWIN: Actually, I was one of the smokers that caused your conniption.

 

MARCIA: Look, I rarely feel grateful for anything, so could you just shut up and let me be grateful for a second?

 

(Pause)

 

EDWIN: You're a very strange lady.

 

MARCIA: Ssh.

 

(Pause)

 

EDWIN: Are you sad about Sister Rose's body gettin' vicked?

 

MARCIA: No.

 

EDWIN: Do you think—

 

MARCIA: Pipe down! People get so intimidated by silence, they just wanna talk, talk, talk—

 

(Pause)

 

MARCIA: Are you touching my breast?

 

EDWIN: That was accidental.

 

MARCIA: Oh.

 

EDWIN: You were very nice to my brother.

 

MARCIA: Well, I was raised to be kind to the disabled. I mean ...

 

EDWIN: That's okay.

 

MARCIA: I didn't mean to imply—

 

EDWIN: He ain't retarded, he just suffered a accident when we was little. I accidentally threw a brick out the window which ended up on his head.

 

MARCIA: I'm sorry.

 

EDWIN: Are you ... are you crying?

 

MARCIA: I just ... anytime I see someone like that, you know, it just makes me very sad, like I should be nicer to people ... ordevote more time to charities. Something ... something. You know?

 

EDWIN: So why don't you just do that then?

 

MARCIA: What?

 

EDWIN: I said, do it then. Help out more.

 

MARCIA: Look, I help out plenty already.

 

EDWIN: But maybe you could do more—

 

MARCIA: Okay, like, back off?

 

EDWIN: Back off?

 

MARCIA: You know nothing about me, or what I do or don't do! When's the last time you wrote a check or helped an old lady cross the street?

 

EDWIN: Um ... I'm not sure.

 

MARCIA: Right. So ... "People in glass houses," okay, mister?!

 

EDWIN: People in glass houses what?

 

MARCIA: You know!

 

EDWIN: I know what?

 

MARCIA: You've never heard that before?

 

EDWIN: Why would anyone wanna live in a glass house? It could break, or people could peep at you—

 

MARCIA: You know what? I've gotta find my friend Sonia.

 

EDWIN: Did I say something wrong?

 

MARCIA: Look, goodbye, thanks for saving me.

 

EDWIN: Why donchu hang out, have a Yodel?

 

MARCIA: I'm allergic to chocolate.

 

EDWIN: Have a soda then.

 

MARCIA: Caffeine?

 

EDWIN: How 'bout a slice of pizza?

 

MARCIA: Pizza! Hello? Cheese?! God, did someone throw a brick on your head too??!!

 

(MARCIA exits.)

Scene 6: Inez and Norca, Bar and Grill

INEZ: So I toal that nigga, "If the shit can't stay up, then put the damn thing away," okay?

 

NORCA: You said that shit?!

 

INEZ: Sister, please. Then he say, "Maybe if you" ... and he start makin' this gesture, like he afraid ta say, "Put yo mouth on me," so instead he juss tries ta mime it, like—

 

NORCA: No he didn't!

 

INEZ: Oh, yes he did!

 

NORCA: No-class fool—

 

INEZ: So I toal the driver ta pull over, and I kicked his ass out the damn cab.

 

NORCA: Cab?!

 

INEZ: Ended up I fucked the cabby.

 

NORCA: You was in a cab??!!

 

INEZ: Shit, I was fifteen, girl, know what I'm sayin'?

 

NORCA: You nevah fucked no nigga in a cab!

 

INEZ: Yes I did! Fine Haitian man—he was sending money home to his mom to buy, like, a new hut or something.

 

NORCA: "A hut"?

 

INEZ: Sumpthin' like that—house, hut—you know them Haitians back then—

 

NORCA: Girl, you crazy.

 

INEZ: Anyway, you wasn't around. You was—I think you was wit' that Eustace Mejias at the time.

 

NORCA: Oh, ma Gawd! Little Eustace.

 

INEZ: That ain't what I heard.

 

NORCA: Heard?! Girl, stop lyin'.

 

INEZ: Awright, I had me some Eustace, but that was long after you were finished wit' him.

 

NORCA: Yeah, well ... you know ...

 

INEZ: I think you was datin' that bank robber by then.

 

NORCA: He wasn't no robber. He was a suspect!

 

INEZ: Well, I never met the suspect.

 

NORCA: Dag, Inez, you funny

 

INEZ: How you mean?

 

NORCA: I mean, "you funny"—like how you make your face look when you say shit, like when you said "suspect."

 

INEZ: My face is my face.

 

NORCA: See, you doin' it right now!

 

INEZ: I'm not doin' nuthin'.

 

NORCA: Yes you are, and it's funny. Dass all. It's a compliment, okay? 'Cuz sometimes I think about funny things you useta say that was funny, or how your face looked like when you was reactin' ta something—like in school—or when we had them sleepovers at your aunt's house—or, like, ya know, all the times we was together—and, I think ta myself, "Damn, that bitch was funny," and I wanna just laugh, and I do laugh, and it's helpful to laugh sometimes—and dass 'cuz of you, so—dass all.

 

INEZ: Yeah, okay.

 

NORCA: I ain't tryin' ta say nuthin'.

 

INEZ: Okay, then.

 

NORCA: What? You ain't got no compliment for me?

 

INEZ: Well, Norca, other than "Gee, girl, your fat ass bounced off my kitchen table real nice when you was servin' up your stank pussy to my husband"—other than that, I admit I'm drawing a complete blank.

 

NORCA: Whatever ...

 

INEZ: That all you got to say?

 

NORCA: I'm just tryin' ta have a nice conversation.

 

INEZ: You fucked my husband!

 

NORCA: You ain't never missed me after all these years?

 

INEZ: You fucked my husband!

 

NORCA: I mean, besides that.

 

INEZ: Norca—you fucked my husband!!!

 

NORCA: How many times I gotta apologize for that?!

 

INEZ: How about once?!

 

NORCA: Awright, shit. I apologize, okay?

 

INEZ: Okay.

 

NORCA: Okay, then.

 

INEZ: Okay.

 

NORCA: I'm just tryin' ta have a nice conversation.

 

INEZ: Okay ... (To SONIA) Excuse me, Miss, we ain't ruinin' your meal or nuthin', are we?

 

SONIA: Oh, no. I'm just ... Is that ketchup?

 

NORCA: Does it look like ketchup?

 

INEZ: (To NORCA) Girl, stop it. (To SONIA) Here ya go.

 

SONIA: I'm sorry, I ... I'm from Connecticut.

 

INEZ: Oh, yeah? You know New Haven?

 

SONIA: Um ... yeah?

 

INEZ: I got some folks up there. Cousins, nephews, all kinds of relations running 'round up there. Good pizza up there in Connecticut. You know about that, Norca?

 

NORCA: Stop playin'.

 

INEZ: I'm not playin'. (To SONIA) Tell her.

 

SONIA: Um.

 

INEZ: Tell this bitch y'all got the best pizza up there.

 

SONIA: It's really very good.

 

NORCA: Not better than New York.

 

INEZ: (To NORCA) You need to get your ass on the Greyhound, try the shit. I'm tellin' you, remember how pizza useta be?

 

NORCA: Yeah?

 

INEZ: Well, that's how it still is up there. (To SONIA) Am I lyin'?

 

SONIA: Not as far as I can tell.

 

NORCA: (To INEZ) What she know about how pizza useta be over here?

 

SONIA: Uh, I've had pizza in New York before. Lots of times. We useta come into the city a lot, you know, for the theater or a ball game or like my dad useta take us to the Car Show at the Coliseum on Fifty-ninth—

 

INEZ: You here for the wake?

 

SONIA: Yeah.

 

NORCA: You was a student here?

 

SONIA: Uh—

 

NORCA: Hold up, you that bitch, ain't you?! You fuckin' Wendy Elmer, right?!

 

SONIA: No.

 

NORCA: I fuckin' hate your ass!

 

SONIA: I'm not her.

 

NORCA: Don't lie, bitch! I always thought you was a stuck-up asshole. I fuckin' hate you! Get out my face—fuckin' Wendy Elmer bitch!

 

INEZ: (To INEZ) That ain't Wendy Elmer. Wendy Elmer dead

 

NORCA: Dead from what?

 

INEZ: Dead from the bitch is dead. I don't know from what—I ain't the damn coroner. Wendy Elmer died a long time ago.

 

NORCA: Oh.

 

INEZ: From a illness, I think.

 

NORCA: Well, good then!

 

INEZ: Norca, you need ta chill. What the fuck's your problem?

 

SONIA: She's prolly juss—

 

NORCA: I could speak for myself, thank you very much!

 

SONIA: I'm sorry.

 

(Pause)

 

NORCA: You eat fish, donchu?

 

SONIA: Eat fish?

 

NORCA: You a fish eater.

 

SONIA: I enjoy fish?

 

NORCA: You suck on females' titties donchu?!

 

SONIA: You mean am I a lesbian?

 

INEZ: (To NORCA) She ain't no lesbian, Norca. Damn, girl, I'm about ta put a muzzle and a leash on you, you are venomous like some kinda no-ear pit bull. (To SONIA) She's a little tipsy, tipsy and grieving.

 

NORCA: I ain't grieving! Sister Rose could lick my ass, all I care.

 

INEZ: Sister Rose was patient with you, Norca.

 

NORCA: So what she was patient? I ain't tryin' ta say nuthin' bad about the bitch—ain't tryin' ta disrespect her—I'm here, ain't I? I'm representin' for her memory an' shit. I juss don't wanna talk about that penguin bitch! I wanna talk about more funny stories like how you fucked that Haitian motherfucker saving up to buy his moms a hut—lighthearted shit, ya know? Funny! Not fuckin' all this ... (To SONIA) Who you think you starin' at?!

 

SONIA: I'm not starin'.

 

INEZ: She ain't starin'!

 

NORCA: (To INEZ) Don't tell me the bitch ain't starin'! (To SONIA) You better put yo eyeballs back in your head before someone stomp 'em, ya bug-eyed bitch!

 

INEZ: (To SONIA) She been drinkin' a little, ya know?

 

NORCA: (To INEZ) Why you takin' her side?!

 

INEZ: Norca—

 

NORCA: Doncha "Norca" me; you takin' her side!! Why you gotta take her side??!! Everywhere I go, someone tryin' ta take the other person's side!! Why can't someone take my damn side for once in a while!! You juss like my mother, my kids, my P.O., my everybody!! Everybody always wanna gang up on me, well, what the fuck did I do, huh?! What the fuck I did so bad that you gotta take the side a some bug-eyed bitch you never met before two minutes ago instead a me who you know practically from fuckin' birth??!!

 

SONIA: I'm gonna go.

 

INEZ: No, I'm gonna go.

 

NORCA: No!!! I'm a go! You ain't gonna abandon me twice!! I abandon you! Y'all fuckin' suck, ya know that?! The two of you! Inez, you look older than the hair on my ass, and—you!!—I know you Wendy Elmer!! You could act like you ain't but—you are fuckin' Wendy Elmer and this is for you from fifth-grade Earth Science. C'mere!

 

(NORCA slaps SONIA across her teeth.)

 

NORCA: I never copied off you, anyway!!

 

INEZ: Norca, chill.

 

NORCA: (To SONIA) If you so smart, why the fuck you live in Connecticut for??!!

 

INEZ: Norca—

 

NORCA: Connecticut, pizza-eatin', conversation-ruin' fuckin' bitch!!!

 

(NORCA bursts out the bar in tears.)

 

INEZ: Sorry.

 

SONIA: That's okay, this has happened to me before.

 

INEZ: It has?

 

SONIA: Yeah. People always think I'm someone else.

 

INEZ: And then they slap you upside the head?

 

SONIA: Well, no, but sometimes I get the feeling that they want to.

 

(Pause)

 

INEZ: That's ... that's strange.

 

(INEZ exits.)

 

SONIA: Yeah ... Yeah, it is.

Scene 7: Rooftop in the Confessional

ROOFTOP: So anyway, Father, 497 interludes, 497 I can think of 497, Father ... And that's not including before I was married, and it's also not including those nights I can't remember due to substances, which we better just tack on another 25, 50, 'cuz I figure it's better to err on the side a caution, doncha think, Father? Yeah. And I mean, the other thing? the "Seed Spillin'"? That's, well, started at eight, average, say, one and a half times a day, I just turned forty, that's 32 times 365, uh, zero carry the one, 13, carry one, 730, 5, 9, 10 ... 11, 680 plus half a that, say 55 hundred give or take, that's over 17,000 solo ventures!—thass a lot a seed, Father—a lot of "whacky-whacky"! I mean, over 500 counts of adultery, 17grand in self-flagellation, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife"? I'll be honest, I'm runnin' outta neighbors!

 

FATHER LUX: I smell marijuana.

 

ROOFTOP: Yeah ... prolly one a them altar boys lighting up, huh?

 

FATHER LUX: The altar boys are at Bear Mountain today, sir.

 

ROOFTOP: Bear Mountain?

 

FATHER LUX: Yes. So—

 

ROOFTOP: Y'all still doin' that? When I was a altar boy, Father C be takin' us to Bear Mountain every year.

 

FATHER LUX: Sir—

 

ROOFTOP: We'd always be like, "Dag, Father C, Bear Mountain again"?! "Can't we go to like Great Adventure, Jungle Habitat, change it up a little"—

 

FATHER LUX: Sir?

 

ROOFTOP: Yes, Father?

 

FATHER LUX: The marijuana. I must ask you to extinguish it.

 

ROOFTOP: Oh ... You wouldn't want a hit before I put it out, would ya, Father?

 

FATHER LUX: I'd just like you to put it out, sir.

 

ROOFTOP: Right. Sorry, Padre.

 

FATHER LUX: It's okay.

 

ROOFTOP: Nah, I'm a bad man, smokin' weed up in here, temptin' one of God's soldiers wit' some sensimilla. You must think I'm some kinda ... Ya think there's any hope for me?

 

FATHER LUX: Listen, we have weekend retreats for those kinds of questions.

 

ROOFTOP: I'm juss askin' your opinion. Is it not okay to ask?

 

FATHER LUX: There are people better equipped than me to answer that.

 

ROOFTOP: Like who?

 

FATHER LUX: Well, God. Ask God.

 

ROOFTOP: I'm not ready for God.

 

FATHER LUX: Or a therapist. Or the Jesuits—they're smart. I'm just, well ... I hear confessions, okay?

 

ROOFTOP: Okay ... But it's ... it's pretty hopeless, right? Right?

 

FATHER LUX: They say despair is the absence of hope. Are you despairing?

 

ROOFTOP: I am.

 

FATHER LUX: You know what despair is?

 

ROOFTOP: The absence of hope, right?

 

FATHER LUX: Besides that.

 

ROOFTOP: Oh.

 

FATHER LUX: Despair is marked by the termination or the cessation of action. For example: A man is stuck in a well—

 

ROOFTOP: Stuck in a whale?

 

FATHER LUX: Not a "whale," a well.

 

ROOFTOP: What's a "well"?

 

FATHER LUX: A well! You know, you get water from it?

 

ROOFTOP: Oh, you talkin' about a "well," like, you go wit your pail to the well?

 

FATHER LUX: Yes, a "well."

 

ROOFTOP: I'm sorry, Father, I thought you said "whale."

 

FATHER LUX: That's okay. So—

 

ROOFTOP: 'Cuz there's a story about a man stuck up in a whale, right?

 

FATHER LUX: That's Jonah.

 

ROOFTOP: Who?

 

FATHER LUX: Jo-nah.

 

ROOFTOP: Yeah, "Jonah," dass right—"Jonah and the Whale."

 

FATHER LUX: Yes, so—

 

ROOFTOP: Sister Rose, she useta tell us that story all the time.

 

FATHER LUX: It's a nice story—

 

ROOFTOP: I useta go home and have nightmares 'bout gettin' stuck up inside a whale—my pops useta beat my ass wit' a slipper talkin' 'bout "Ain't no whales in Harlem, fool, go back ta sleep, this is a workin' family!" Yeah ...

 

FATHER LUX: Anyway—

 

ROOFTOP: Say, you remember them pajamas wit' the feet on 'em? You ever had a pair?

 

FATHER LUX: No.

 

ROOFTOP: Dass too bad, they was snug. An I always useta like those little glove clips they would put on your coat, with the long string runnin' through your sleeves, so your gloves was always hangin' there when ya needed them? I mean, I can't tell you how many pairs of nice leather gloves I useta lose every winter—I mean, this is before I moved out to Los Angeles—

 

FATHER LUX: Sir?

 

ROOFTOP: I once lost a pair of genuine Mink-lined Italian Leather gloves—

 

FATHER LUX: Sir?

 

ROOFTOP: Yes, Father?

 

FATHER LUX: Confessional! Not "Conversational"! Remember?!

 

ROOFTOP: Right, right.

 

FATHER LUX: There may be others waiting.

 

ROOFTOP: Waiting for what?

 

FATHER LUX: Waiting.

 

ROOFTOP: Others?

 

FATHER LUX: Others. Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: You tryin' ta get rid of me, Father?

 

FATHER LUX: No.

 

ROOFTOP: You got a little egg timer back there or sumpthin'?

 

FATHER LUX: No egg timer, no.

 

ROOFTOP: 'Cuz maybe you didn't hear me when I said I ain't made a confession for thirty years.

 

FATHER LUX: I heard you.

 

ROOFTOP: You have any idea how hard it is to walk into a church after thirty years, Father?

 

FATHER LUX: The important thing is that you came back.

 

ROOFTOP: Dass right I came back—and it's not like y'all got the most alluring marketing campaign going on these days either, Father. You feelin' me?

 

FATHER LUX: I feel you.

 

ROOFTOP: And, ya know, forgive me, Father, but it ain't like y'all the only game in town anymore either! They got all kindanew churches, religions, spiritual growth joints where you can do whatever you want, say whatever you want—

 

FATHER LUX: But you came here.

 

ROOFTOP: That's exactly my point! I came here. So I would think, that after thirty years in the wind, Father, that if a fallen sheep comes limpin' back into the manger, that the stable master should just turn off the damn meter and let the sheep say what he need to say in the time he need to say it.

 

FATHER LUX: In other words, you're more important than those others who may be waiting.

 

ROOFTOP: What?!

 

FATHER LUX: I said—

 

ROOFTOP: Oh, see? Dass trickery! Trickery, Father!

 

FATHER LUX: I don't understand—

 

ROOFTOP: I came here to feel better, and you tryin' ta send me off feelin' worse!

 

FATHER LUX: That's not my intention.

 

ROOFTOP: Them other churches? They don't try ta make a man feel guilty for speakin' his truth. They don't cash their checks off a guilt.

 

FATHER LUX: You're right.

 

ROOFTOP: Whaddya mean, "I'm right"?

 

FATHER LUX: And yet, my question remains: Do you think you're more important than those others who may be waiting?

 

ROOFTOP: Well, obviously, you think the answer to that question is no!

 

FATHER LUX: I didn't say that.

 

ROOFTOP: Well then, what the hell are you saying?! I mean, shit—when the Prodigal Son came home, his pops killed the fattest calf and had a mothahfuckin' banquet! And Noah, Father? Noah gathered up all the animals two by two—he didn't say, "Nah, fuck them chiba smokin' zebra's, they takin' too long—

 

FATHER LUX: Sir—

 

ROOFTOP: The real question here ain't "Do I think I'm more important?" The actual fuckin' question is, "Do you think I'm important enough?"

 

FATHER LUX: Can you provide me a single, compelling reason why I should?

 

ROOFTOP: How 'bout 'cuz you're a priest and it's your goddamned job?! Shit, what are you—some kinda rookie?!

 

FATHER LUX: I've been a priest for forty-six years, sir.

 

ROOFTOP: Well, whatchu been doin' the past half century—playin' pinochle?! Can't you tell when a man is coming to you afraid?

 

FATHER LUX: Afraid of what?

 

ROOFTOP: Goddamnit, Father, I'm afraid a everything! Is that what ya wanna hear? Afraid I'm never gonna be the person I thoughtI'd be, back when I thought I had all the time in the world to get there! I'm afraid to go next door ta pay my respects to ol' Sister Rose 'cuz my goddamn ex-wife Inez, she's prolly right next door over there at the wake! She don't like me! I don't like me! And I'm afraid that the person I'll like least wherever I go will always be me!! ... Okay, mothahfuckah?! You happy?!

 

(Beat)

 

FATHER LUX: My name is Father Lux.

 

ROOFTOP: Yeah, so what?

 

FATHER LUX: I'm sorry.

 

(Beat)

 

ROOFTOP: Lux, huh? You mean, like—

 

FATHER LUX: Like the soap, yes.

 

ROOFTOP: I was gonna say Lux as in the Latin, meaning "light."

 

FATHER LUX: That's impressive. Most people say the soap.

 

ROOFTOP: Well, I'm not most people.

 

FATHER LUX: No disputing that.

 

ROOFTOP: I'm twelve years Catholic school educated—I know my Latin. Rident stolidi de verba latina—ain't that right, Father?

 

FATHER LUX: Yes. Yes it is ... Listen, why don't you tell me what brought you to confession today.

 

ROOFTOP: You mean, like, specifically?

 

FATHER LUX: Specifically, yes.

 

ROOFTOP: Uh ...

 

(There is a loud insistent knocking on the confessional door.)

 

FATHER LUX: (To ROOFTOP) Hold on a sec, I'll get rid of him ...

 

(To the knocker) Please wait your turn, I'm in the middle of a confession.

 

BALTHAZAR: Father: This is the New York City Police Department. I'm afraid I must ask the gentleman in the confessional to step out, hands up, and vacate the booth.

 

FATHER LUX: (To ROOFTOP) This has never happened to me before.

 

BALTHAZAR: I repeat: Gentleman in confessional, step out—now.

 

ROOFTOP: I got weed on me, Father, could you help a brother out?

 

BALTHAZAR: Gentleman in the confessional, I am drawing my weapon—

 

ROOFTOP: Don't shoot! Don't shoot!

 

(ROOFTOP exits the confessional.)

 

ROOFTOP: Balthazar?!

 

BALTHAZAR: Rooftop! What's up, my man?!!!

 

ROOFTOP: Mothahfuckah, what the fuck you think you doin'! You scared hell outta me!?!

 

BALTHAZAR: Come on, brother, I'm with Flip at the bar? I'll buy you a beer.

 

ROOFTOP: A beer?! Balthazar—I'm conductin' some serious business in there with the Father—what I want with a damn beer?

 

BALTHAZAR: Yo, Rooftop, what's the matter, man? Can't you take a little joke?

 

ROOFTOP: Joke?! I'm holding a bag of weed and a eight-ball of blow on me, brother—cops bangin' down the door on me ain't no joke!

 

BALTHAZAR: I'm sorry.

 

ROOFTOP: Jokes like that send mothahfuckahs into intensive care units for fuckin' heart attacks, man!

 

BALTHAZAR: (To ROOFTOP) Look, I saw your limo out front. I got excited. I'm sorry. (To priest) I'm sorry, Father.

 

ROOFTOP: You okay, Father?

 

FATHER LUX: I'm fine.

 

ROOFTOP: Where your legs at, Father?

 

FATHER LUX: Korea.

 

(Pause)

 

BALTHAZAR: I'll, uh, we'll catch up later, right?

 

ROOFTOP: Hey—someone punch you in yo eye, Balthazar?

 

BALTHAZAR: Bad day. I'm fine. I'm gonna go. Bye, Roof. Father.

 

(BALTHAZAR crosses to leave.)

 

FATHER LUX: (Re: the confessional) Shall we?

 

ROOFTOP: Yeah, uh ... (To BALTHAZAR) Where you gonna be at? The bar?

 

BALTHAZAR: Yeah.

 

ROOFTOP: The bar at the corner?

 

BALTHAZAR: Yeah.

 

ROOFTOP: With Flip Johnson, you said?

 

BALTHAZAR: "Me, Flip, an' a potato chip."

 

ROOFTOP: Inez ain't down there, is she?

 

BALTHAZAR: Nah.

 

ROOFTOP: Y'all havin' a little drink, huh?

 

PRIEST: Uh—

 

BALTHAZAR: You wanna come?

 

ROOFTOP: I mean, a little drink is soothin', ain't no one tryin' ta deny that.

 

(PINKY enters with grocery bag.)

 

PINKY: Rooftop!!

 

ROOFTOP: Oh, shit! Wassup, Governor?

 

BALTHAZAR: Pinky, my man, que pasa?

 

PINKY: Hi Rooftop.

 

ROOFTOP: You doin' okay, Governor?

 

PINKY: Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: Well, all right!

 

PINKY: I'm going to confession. Then, I'm going to bring these Yodels and milk to Edwin so we can eat them.

 

BALTHAZAR: Man with a plan.

 

PINKY: Yes. Then, I'm going to find Norca.

 

ROOFTOP: Well, I won't keep ya then. (Proffering a bill) Say, Guv, you got change for this fiddy?

 

PINKY: No.

 

ROOFTOP: (With a wink) Then I guess you gonna haveta hang on to it then.

 

PINKY: Oh. Okay.

 

ROOFTOP: (Re: the confessional) Go on, handle your business now.

 

PINKY: Yes.

 

ROOFTOP: (Turning to exit) Nice rappin' with ya, Padre.

 

FATHER LUX: (To ROOFTOP) Sir?

 

PINKY: I'm ready to confess, Father.

 

FATHER LUX: (To ROOFTOP) Sir! Wait! (To PINKY) Ya know what, Pinky? Confession is over.

 

PINKY: But it's not noon, Father.

 

FATHER LUX: Yeah, but still, it's over.

 

PINKY: But it's not noon.

 

FATHER LUX: I know it's not noon.

 

PINKY: Thass 'cuz it's not noon.

 

ROOFTOP: Later, fellas.

 

(ROOFTOP exits.)

 

FATHER LUX: Wait!

 

PINKY: How could it be noon when it's not noon?

 

FATHER LUX: Sir!—

 

PINKY: If it's not noon, then it's not noon. 'Cuz if it wasn't noon, but it was noon, then it'd be noon. But I don't think it's noon, Father.

 

(FATHER LUX turns back to PINKY.)

 

FATHER LUX: What?

 

(Beat)

 

PINKY: I brought you some mixed nuts.

 

FATHER LUX: Oh ... thanks.

 

PINKY: Yes. Planter's.

 

FATHER LUX: Great.

 

(PINKY pecks FATHER LUX's cheek.)

 

FATHER LUX: Don't do that, Pinky!

 

PINKY: You looked sad.

 

FATHER LUX: Don't do that ever.

 

PINKY: Oh ... Why?

 

FATHER LUX: Why? ... Just don't do it!

 

(Beat)

 

(PINKY pauses, hoping for a reaction from FATHER LUX, doesn't get one. Hands FATHER LUX the peanuts, exits.)

 

(Blackout)

Copyright © 2001. 2003 by Stephen Adly Guirgis

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Table of Contents

Our Lady of 121st Street 1
Jesus Hopped the A Train 107
In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings 205
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2012

    Amazing, compelling, moving, intense!

    Three of the best plays I have ever read. I auditioned with a monologue from "Jesus Hopped the A Train" to get into The Steppenwolf West in Los Angeles. Read these plays!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2012

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