Randy Ford Author- DADDY’S PARTY

DADDY’S PARTY

by Randy Ford

CHARACTERS (in order of appearance)

Dr. David Wayne Johnson, Father
Nurse
Mrs. Johnson, Mother
Penny, Next to the youngest sibling
Clint, Oldest sibling
Jude, Youngest sibling
Olga, Jude’s wife
Alice, Next to the oldest sibling

Act One

(Part of exterior and interior of Dr. David Wayne Johnson’s home.

In master bedroom, Dr. Johnson lies in a hospital bed. Close by, a nurse sits at a small table. In same room, Mrs. Johnson lies in a small bed, where she rests and falls in and out of sleep. On wall, there’s a clock that ticks at the rate of Dr. Johnson’s heartbeat. When he dies at the end of the play, it stops. While nurse goes about business of attending to Dr. Johnson, Penny helps her mother get up from her bed and head for master bathroom. It is slow going.)

Penny
Come on, Mamma!
(Giving up on pulling her, Penny gets behind her mother and places her hands on the elderly woman’s waist.)
Let’s play choo-choo!

Mrs. Johnson
Goodness, Penny, I’m not a child.
Penny
(Winking at the nurse)
No you’re not. But train is late. Got to hurry.

Mrs. Johnson
Please.

Penny
Choo-choo!

Mrs. Johnson
I don’t need your help.

Penny
You don’t want to mess up your pretty party dress.

Mrs. Johnson
I can walk by myself, thank you.

Penny
Yes, but last time you didn’t make it. I don’t want to have to clean up again. You don’t want that. I know you don’t.

Mrs. Johnson
Penny, please.
(Mrs. Johnson breaks away from Penny and goes to her dying husband.)
Dr. Johnson! Oh, my! Oh, Dr. Johnson, don’t leave me. Don’t.
(Penny tries to move her mother away from the bed.)
Can you believe how Penny has taken charge? See how she mistreats me? She mistreats me. She mistreats me all the time. No! Get your hands off me. You know how Penny is.

Penny
Okay! Wet yourself. No, no, no, I’ll have to clean it up. Come!

Mrs. Johnson
Let go!
(Penny gives in.)
Is that my baby? After sixty years, I don’t know why he’s leaving me. Why? Why would he do it? After sixty years? He’s such a kind man. Why would he leave us? He’s such a kind man.

Penny
Yes, he is.

Mrs. Johnson
Penny, you’ve got to remember how much he loved you.

Penny
I do, Mamma. I remember.

Mrs. Johnson
When was the last time you told him you love him?

Penny
Just a while ago. Now don’t disturb him. Come on!

Mrs. Johnson
No.

Penny

Mama, you’re disturbing Daddy.
(The nurse starts to take over. Then both she and Penny decide to back off, while Mrs. Johnson looks intently into the dying man’s eyes.)

Mrs. Johnson
All of those lies! Those horrible lies! It’s bad enough to have to listen to them. Lies, lies, lies, all lies.

Penny
Mamma, he’s dying. Don’t torture yourself.

Mrs. Johnson
Yes, but Dr. Johnson never…. Well, Dr. Johnson, we don’t have to pay attention to them, do we?

Penny
Still he knows I’ve been here for him.

Mrs. Johnson
Yes, Penny, you may have been here for him, but has your heart been in it? We’re going throw him a big party, a big party with lots of balloons. He deserves it.

Penny
Yes, we’ll celebrate … like on his birthday, but first we have to get you to the pot … get you to the pot before you mess up.

Mrs. Johnson
(Kissing)
Oh, lover. Where is your charm? I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t sure. I was young. I wasn’t sure. You were impatient. You couldn’t wait. You knew what you wanted. Please say yes! Yes. Yes, yes. You wouldn’t accept no. It was 1942, with the war. There was a rush. You wanted to go over there. They needed you over here. There was a rush because of the war.
(She touches his face.)
Clammy. Oh, no! He’s not so yellow now, is he?
(She slowly and gently caresses his face.)
I hate you for this! The very idea … the very idea … the very idea …

Penny
Mamma!

Mrs. Johnson
(To the nurse)
His lips are parched. He’s thirsty. Can’t he have a drink?

Nurse
No, Mrs. Johnson, he can’t swallow.
(The nurse gets a popsicle swab from a cup on the table.)
Here! Moisten his lips and inside of his mouth with this.

Penny
Let me do it.

Mrs. Johnson
(Slapping Penny’s hands)
Let me!

Penny
Mamma!

Mrs. Johnson

Let me!

Penny

The same stubbornness! You have to be careful.

Mrs. Johnson
Please, Penny, don’t be mean.

Penny
Suppose now we let the nurse do it.
(Penny gives the swab to the nurse and guides her mother toward the bathroom. The nurse cares for Dr. Johnson.)

Mrs. Johnson
I now see what you’re trying to do.
(As Penny directs her toward offstage bathroom, Mrs. Johnson continues to talk.)
I can see you’re hell bent on interfering. But what’s new?

(In the living room, Clint returns one of his father’s books to a bookcase.)

Clint
All these books and not a one I’d want to get lost in.

(With long hair and an emaciated body, Jude watches him for a while.)

Jude
Clint, I can’t think why you would. You hate physics.

Clint
No, I don’t. I’ve just taken great care to avoid the subject.

Jude
Pop’s son. You surprise me.

Clint
And you?

Jude
Since I had to sleep and eat it, I hate physics too. But thanks to Olga, I’ve forgotten all of it. I’ve forgotten how to boil water. I’ve forgotten physics.

Clint
I have to do those things for myself.

Jude

What?

Clint

I have to make coffee and tea for myself. But I find no joy in it. I drove all night. Explain that to me! Can’t see much at night.

Jude
You love the bastard.

Clint
Sure. Let’s say I do. I don’t like controversy. What’s all this and what lack of sleep is doing to me?

Penny
(From off stage and in the bathroom)
When did you last give Daddy morphine?

Nurse
(Reading a novel)
‘Bout half an hour ago. That should last him for a while.

Penny
Just checking. Don’t want to disturb you. Mamma, let’s take off the dress. We can do this.

Mrs. Johnson
I can do it. I can do it.

Penny
Okay! Now sit!
(Penny reappears and goes to the living room. She ignores
Jude.)
Sorry, Clint. Mamma!
(Laughs)
I think we’re too much alike.

Clint
You’ve had your hands full.

Penny
With Daddy… before we had a nurse, we did have our hands full. Well, you know… It’s been hard… to see Daddy go so quickly. You know how he is. Goodness, I’ve even had to wipe his ass.

Mrs. Johnson
(Calling from the bathroom)
Penny!

Penny
Imagine that with Daddy. With Mamma, no sweat … Oh, she can be difficult. No sweat. So sweet. No sweat.
Mrs. Johnson
Penny!

Penny
With Mamma, you have to keep reminding her. But Daddy… as he lost control … you know. I suppose we’ll get our reward.
Mrs. Johnson
Penny!

Clint
You’re heading for sainthood, Penny.

Penny
In which world?

Clint
Take your choice. Since I’m here, use me.

Penny
Well, thank goodness for Olga. She’s … Well, Jude, it’s the truth. Clint, Jude doesn’t like to admit his wife is a dud. Clint, you look wretched.

Clint
Thanks. Coming out of exile has taken a lot from me. I drove all night.

Penny
I knew that by how quickly you got here after I called.

Clint
Shows how frightened I was. I couldn’t be late. Not with Pa.

Penny
I’m afraid he’s beyond caring. Anyway, you’ll find towels in the bathroom, and soap is shared here.

(Mrs. Johnson stumbles out of the bathroom in only her underwear. Before she straightens up, she takes a few steps into the room. She is more hobbled than when the audience last saw her. Reading her novel, nurse ignores her.)

Jude
Be kind to Clint, Penny. We don’t want to run him off.

Clint
I’m not going anywhere.

Penny
Good. And don’t listen to Jude. He’ll mislead you.

Jude
Snooty you! By the way, Clint tells me that he’s got dibs on Pop’s books.

Clint
I didn’t say that.

Jude
Tell the truth. But we agree. He can have Pop’s books. All of his books. I don’t want them.

(Mrs. Johnson stumbles to the head of her husband’s bed.)

Clint
We agree on one thing. We both hate physics.

Penny
All of us did: Alice, Sally, and me? Now you’re telling me Jude did too. That’s news.

Clint
I call it solidarity. Now all we have to do is act as a family. I sound pathetic, don’t I? But that doesn’t mean that if one of us coughs, all of us have to.

Jude
If we cough, we cough.
(Mrs. Johnson throws herself on top of her husband.)
Penny mentioned Sally. Clint, you never met Sally. It’s a shame that Sally was taken from us. Sherman!

(The nurse finally pays attention.)

Nurse
Aw! Aw!

Jude
What do you think really happened on that boat? I’ll never forgive him. Sherman!

Penny
We’ll never know. Never will. It won’t bring her back.

Jude

Sherman!

(The nurse goes over to Mrs. Johnson and pulls her up.)

Nurse
Come on!

Mrs. Johnson
Leave me with Dr. Johnson.

Jude
For me, there was no closure. I wouldn’t care, except Sherman walked. Have you met Sherman, Clint? Slick. Slick and dangerous as black ice and just as devilish.

Penny
Easy, now. You know how Mamma feels about Sherman.

Nurse
Come on!

Mrs. Johnson
Okay. But why are you so cruel?

Penny
Which reminds me that I left her on the pot.

Nurse
(Guiding Mrs. Johnson over to her bed.)
This way.

Mrs. Johnson
Will he get better?

Nurse
No, mum.

Penny
It’s pitiful how I’ve become her parent. Well, Clint, if you’re set, I’ve got to get back to Mama before she makes me pay.

Clint
You shouldn’t have left her because of me. Sooner or later we’ll get some time. Question is, will we be graceful about it? I don’t know what you’re going to do with Ma. I couldn’t handle her. I can’t handle myself, much less Ma.

Penny
Daddy would say, as I wiped him, “Look at that turdie!” and would just laugh.

Jude
Which would’ve made it a treasured moment. Relief comes with constipation.

Penny
He knew it wouldn’t be long before he wouldn’t been able to get out of bed. Knowing this, Daddy placed me in charge of Mamma. That was unfortunate … unfortunate that I’ve given her almost as much as I can. I can’t give her any more. I can’t do anymore for her.

Jude
About all I can do is embrace her legs. That’s about as high as I can reach while I know her weary heart might not survive grief.

Penny
I wish I were sure. I’ll let you know when I am. Now I’m off to see the witch.

Clint
Go!

Penny
Make yourself at home. Clint, it’s good you’re here. It was time you came.

Clint
Are you sure?

Penny
Of course. We’ve gotta find strength somewhere. We need to gain strength from each other. Gotta, gotta, gotta. Gotta give Daddy… a proper send off. He wants a party. Excuse me. We’ve gotta give him what he wants.
(Penny rushes to the bedroom.)
Oh, what’s next! Mamma! No, no, no.

Jude
Sooner or later she’ll have a coronary. She’s in mad pursuit of one.

Clint
And you’re more laid back?

Jude
Comparatively. I’m beyond caring while Penny obviously does. I can’t understand the rush. Not just that. You see, if I go into his room, Pop will get going again. It’ll set him back. He wouldn’t be able to resist taking a potshot at me. I’m afraid I’m like him. Sometimes I’m a villain, sometimes not. I can be a traitor, ugly, and only accidentally pleasant. So watch out.
(Pulling Clint to the side)
Say, Clint, loan me twenty bucks?

Clint
What?

Jude
A loan. Twenty bucks.

Clint
No. No, why should I?

Jude
Clint, Olga and I haven’t gotten our checks yet.

Clint
Don’t beg and ruin our fledgling relationship over a few lousy bucks.

Jude
We’re brothers and brothers remain brothers regardless. Twenty dollars won’t break you.

Clint
Nor would it help you. No! God! God no!
(Then he digs into his wallet and gives Jude all of his money.)
Here! And don’t ever put me in this position again.

Jude
(Accepting the money)
Thanks. Forty dollars. For you, small change. For Olga and me, equivalent of our life savings. We’ll pay you back.

Clint
I trust you will.

Jude
He trusts me.
(Jude stuffs money into a front pocket.)
Now excuse me. I’m sick.
(Jude goes back to his bedroom and disappears behind a closed door.)

Clint
(To himself)
Amazing; he does resemble Pa. But how would I know? I’ve been gone for so long.
(Penny comes out of the bathroom with Mrs. Johnson’s new party dress, dripping wet and wadded up.)

Penny
Mamma! What’s this? Your new dress! You’ve ruined your pretty new party dress! What are we going to do … do with you?
(To the nurse)
Please help! Take this and throw it in the drier. It’s in the garage.
(The nurse accepts the dress, walks through the house with it, and goes out the kitchen door into the garage.)

Mrs. Johnson
Penny, I didn’t mean to.

Penny
That’s hard to believe. Now we’ve got to get you dressed.
(As Penny looks for a dress in her mother’s closet, Clint looks for a specific book.)
Here we go.
(As a transition, Penny roughly pulls her mother downstage, where they struggle over brushing and dressing. Nurse comes back in and returns to her novel.)
Like it or not, I’m taking charge. Pretty for Daddy and pretty for all your kids.

Clint
Columbia, Pa’s Columbia. “You’ll go to Columbia, my boy.” “No! You can’t make me.” Pa: “Where are we today, Knucklehead? What have you learned?” “Today?” “Not tomorrow.” “I told you not to lie to me!” “I’m not lying.” Pa would slap me. “That’s for lying.” Slap, slap. He’d slap me, kick me, and pull my hair. Goddamn, him! “What did you learn in school today? On and on. “At this rate, you won’t be worth a tinker’s damn.” Well, Pa, guess what? You were right.
(Penny joins Clint in the living room.)
Clint (continued)
If I’d had a knife handy or a skewer, anything, I would’ve stabbed him.

Penny
Pardon?

Clint
Nothing. How’s Ma?

Penny
Mamma!
(Laughs)
I think we’re too much alike.

Clint
Don’t say that.

Penny
Do you hear my frustration? Well, we all get frustrated. However, more importantly, I see my big brother. It’s good to see him after we thought we lost him.

Clint
For sixty… not bad, eh?

Penny
For sixty… not bad: gray hair, a balding spot, and a slight paunch. Watch stooped shoulders.

Clint
I bowl.

Penny
Blue jeans and a T-shirt. Wouldn’t expect anything else. Handsome. Let me see your left hand. No wedding band.

Clint
Couldn’t stay in one place long enough. She got fed up with it.

Penny
That sounds lonely. Couch is yours.

Clint
That can be lonely too.

Penny
Luggage?

Clint
Just baggage. I wish I didn’t have it. But we all have our horror stories. I didn’t take time to pack. I’m sure I’ll pay for it. I’m basically happy. What about you?

(Mrs. Johnson wanders into the room.)

Mrs. Johnson
Is that you, Clint?

Clint
Yes, Ma!

(Mrs. Johnson sits in at the kitchen table.)

Penny
I won’t criticize you, nor will I loan you my toothbrush. Welcome home.

Clint
This will never be my home.

Penny
Nor is it mine. Remember I have a hubby.

Mrs. Johnson
Clint, you need a bone density test.

Penny
I’m beginning to think she doesn’t have a brain.

Clint
Henry? Well, how’s Henry?

Penny
I wish I knew. He’s been decent about this. For how much longer, I don’t know. He’s opposite of Daddy. He has more patience than I have.

Clint
You’re lucky. You didn’t marry someone like Pa.

Penny
Around our house, we bang pots and pans and slam doors. It’s a rule.

Clint
I haven’t had your luck. Right gal hasn’t come along.

Penny
Henry found me. I didn’t find him.

Clint
What was going on?

Penny
(Uneasy)
Man, you’re nosy.

Mrs. Johnson
Clint, you better get it checked. Osteoporosis runs in our family.

Clint
I’m told to be patient, but I waited a long time for Patience. She was an old-fashion gal and didn’t put up with me for long.

Penny
What went wrong?

Clint
I kept a harem.

Penny
Oh, Clint.

Mrs. Johnson
Have you heard from Sherman yet?

Penny
No, Mamma.

Clint
Sherman. That was Sally’s husband, wasn’t it? I always liked younger women.

Penny
Henry and I are exactly the same age.

Clint
You never answered my question.

Penny
About what? Oh, yeah! It was same-ol’ same-ol.

Clint
By and large, for me, wounds have healed.

Penny
Healed?
(Nervously)
Thank God nothing happened to me like it did to you guys. You and Jude! Only Jude won’t help himself.

Mrs. Johnson
Where’s Jude? Have you seen him?

Clint
Jude seems to deserve his problems.

Penny
I’m not so sure. Olga doesn’t deserve him. That woman’s not deserving. There are problems there, but I don’t know what they are.

Clint
Then we have Penny.

Penny
You don’t want to talk about her. We don’t wan’t to talk about Penny. But Alice.

Clint
Alice is not on my radar yet, so tell me about Penny.

Penny
Penny? Yours truly? I wonder about her, though I don’t put too much effort into it.

Clint
Be honest.

Mrs. Johnson
My back aches.

Penny
What are you looking for, Clint? Keep looking, but don’t expect to find it. Not here anyway. I moved out as soon as I could.

Clint
And you claim nothing happened to you?

Penny
Yeah.
(He sticks his finger up his nose and tweaks his finger.)
Gross!

Clint
Yeah. No disrespect intended.
(Silence)

Penny
Then … don’t do that in front of Jude. For God sake, don’t! Gross! He has enough bad habits.

Clint
Like farting in public or similar releases … similar satisfaction. Despicable. But for a boy who grew used to digging for buggers or farting for attention, it’s hard to change. Needed help to change. Take, for instance, wetting your pants or wetting your bed. Over sixty years old and I still wake up from nightmares about it.

Penny
Interesting.

Clint
I wouldn’t call it interesting. Not after having endured Pa’s pinning a wet diaper around my head and making me wear it like a crown of thorns.

Mrs. Johnson
That’s not true.

Penny
Christ, you’re dramatic.

Clint
Like a crown of thorns. You can’t make something like that up. Pa made clear his frustration. Each morning he greeted me with a diaper. I thought it couldn’t get worse. Why can’t we make clear our frustrations? I thought it couldn’t get worse, but it did. And for you, Penny?

Penny
Would it surprise you that I plucked my right eyebrow so that it matched my left?

Clint
No. But did it make you a candidate for Columbia?
`
Penny
You’re thinking of Alice. I hated Columbia. I see that perked you up. I survived Columbia for only one semester and then got married. Sort of like Sally.

Mrs. Johnson
Penny, why are you ignoring me?

Clint
I wish I saw Pa’s reaction. All his children … except for Alice.

Penny
What happened to her? What happened to Alice? Where’s Alice? Is she really coming?

Clint
You’ll have to ask her yourself. As for me, I don’t know what happened after I left. That’s why I wanted to hear from you. I expected to hear that you had been …

Penny
Oh, no, no, no, no. Nothing of that nature happened to me. There came a point when Daddy assumed you were dead. We just figured you were dead.

Clint
I already asked you once, but I’m still curious. What was it like when you were young?

Penny
I had a normal childhood. Clint, believe me … so normal that it defined normal. We moved here right after Sally’s death.
(Pause)
I stood up for Sally. Stood up for Mamma. I even stood up for Daddy, but especially Sally. Sally, Sally! Catch Sally if you can. I said to Daddy, Sally had just died. Sally had just drown. I said, “Look here: forget all the bad things said about Sally, Sally wasn’t a bad girl, there’s more good in her than bad.” I’ve had to stand up for Jude too.

Clint
It sounds as if you were everyone’s big sister.

Penny
Oh, no.

Mrs. Johnson
Clint, you don’t want to be like me. You need to get your bones checked.

Penny
Clint, you make me feel unappreciated. Fact that I could approach Daddy means nothing to you?

Clint
Tell me….

Penny
But he wouldn’t buy it. Daddy told me, “I’m afraid your sister always had a propensity….” That was an example of his vocabulary… “a propensity for giving it away.”

Mrs. Johnson
My mouth is sure dry.

Clint
So even with you he wouldn’t observe boundaries.

Penny
“Give it away.” I told him I had more self-esteem than that.

Mrs. Johnson
My shoes hurt my feet.

Penny
Yes, Daddy, I do. Daddy always called me special. I thought I had him wrapped around my finger. He always called me special. Special, special, special, imagine!. Me, special.

Clint
I thought you were about to say that you gave him the finger.
(To himself)
What awakens an urge to find delight in crudeness? Penny, did he ever…?

Penny
No! Never!

Clint

What is it?

Penny

You sounded like daddy.

Clint
Are you sure? Why?

Penny
Now let’s remember he’s dying. Now we have to focus on Mamma. She can’t live by herself.

Clint
Speaking of Ma.

Mrs. Johnson
I can’t sit here much longer. See how my legs are.

Penny
She did her best.

Clint
Did she?

Mrs. Johnson
I’m hungry.

Penny
Why were you incontinent?

Clint
I’m sure it was a combination of things.
(To himself)
By golly, Clint, admit that you were angry with Ma.

Penny
How old were you?

Clint
Old enough to know better. What are you thinking?

Penny
About our mother over there seeking our attention.

Clint
Yeah. But why should we give her any?

Penny
I find myself defending her.

Clint
Is it difficult?

Penny
Absolutely.

Clint
She was never there for me.

Penny
For me, she tried to make up for it.

Clint
Then you had the same experience?

Penny
I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about.

Clint
Not sure? All of us had problems with Pa, except you say … you didn’t. You say you didn’t. Why was it?

Mrs. Johnson
Make me a sandwich. I’m starving.

Penny
I bet she’s not hungry. But how about sandwiches for lunch? I have the drill down pat.

Clint
Let me help.

Penny
You can first help by moving Mamma out of the way.

(Clint and Penny descend on their mother.)

Clint
Ma, let’s move you.

Mrs. Johnson
(As she stands)
Clint, when did you get here?

Clint
This way, Ma.

Penny
Mamma, how about a bologna sandwich?

(Before she does anything for anyone else, Penny spreads Miracle Whip on two slices of bread and slaps a slice of bologna between them.)

Mrs. Johnson
You had lunch?

Clint
No, Ma. You sit here.

Penny
(Handing her mother the sandwich)
Here!

Mrs. Johnson
I’ve had a headache for two hours. Nobody cares.

Clint
Wait. I’ll get you something to drink. You can’t say you’re neglected. How about milk?

(As Clint serves his mother milk, Penny begins pulling fixings for sandwiches out of the refrigerator. There are a variety of different meats, lettuce, tomatoes, spreads, and relishes.)

Penny
Tomatoes. Unfortunately they’re not homegrown.

Clint
And she’s a big, ripe, juicy tomato.

Penny
Who’s a tomato?

Clint
Patience, a woman I slept with. Is it tomato or tomato?

Penny
Tomato. Daddy wants a party, a celebration.

Clint
Celebrate, jump for joy, games and cake. Balloons, game and cake. It’s not what I’d choose.

Penny
Let loose! You don’t want to take it all to the grave.

Mrs. Johnson
Penny, where’s the tomato?

Penny
Don’t spare the tomato. Give Mamma a whole one.

(Clint serves his mother a whole tomato.)

Mrs. Johnson
Where’s salt? Can’t eat tomato without salt

Clint
I’ll get you salt, Ma.

Mrs. Johnson
You’re so nice to me.

Clint
Thanks, Ma.
(He takes her a salt shaker.)
Believe it or not ….

Penny
I don’t believe it.

Clint
I don’t see any onions.

Penny
You can’t cry without onions. Onions are in the produce drawer.

Clint
If I cry, I’ll cry for you.

Penny
Don’t be silly.

Clint
Cry and unlock your heart’s coffin.

Penny
Now …

Clint
Go on.

Penny
You’re tricky… even tacky. I don’t know what’s wrong with Alice. Do you?

Clint
I haven’t talked to or seen Alice since … I don’t know when.

Penny
She won’t communicate. At least she’s on her way now.

Clint
That’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to seeing her

Penny
Maybe it’s a chance we’ve missed until now.

Clint
I don’t think Ma could do more for herself.

Penny
If you want to take over let me know. She seems content now.

Clint
That’s something.

Penny
I’ve had help, if you can call it that. Sweet Olga! Twit!

Clint
Olga? Oh, Jude’s Olga. So you don’t like her.

Mrs. Johnson
I need a napkin.

(Clint gets her one.)

Penny
I like her enough … We all do; however… especially Daddy; however… and her husband, our baby brother, hopefully does …. Twit? Or is it twerp? Is there a difference?

Clint
I don’t know.

Penny
Twit!

Clint
It sounds like the name of a bird. Titmouse! Twit-mouse!

Penny
Clint, please, when you’re around her, don’t do that thing with your finger or give her the bird.

Clint
Twit-mouse, I like. Twit-mouse. I have to remember twit-mouse.
(Laughing)
And I haven’t even met her. Brilliant! Scoot, scoot, scoot! Go tell Pa! I want to know his reaction.

Mrs. Johnson
I need another napkin.

(Clint gets her another napkin.)

Penny
You’re forgetting he’s …. Clint, you really should go in there soon…talk to him before it’s too late.

Clint
I will, but I need to … collect myself. He always said we’d go fishing.

Penny
You’re really angry, aren’t you?

Clint
Naaah!

Mrs. Johnson
We used to grow our own tomatoes.

Clint
Where was that?

Mrs. Johnson
Dallas, stupid! Here it would take too much water.
(She stands and tosses salt over both of her shoulders.)
I’m tired, and nobody cares.
(No response.)
I need a nap. I always take a nap after lunch.
(No response)
Where are they?
(As if she were looking for someone or something)
Penny, Penny, where are you, Penny?
(As she leaves room)
They forget I’m not well. They forget about me. They forget I’m alive.
(Mrs. Johnson hobbles back to the bedroom.)

Penny
Clint, as long as you’re angry, you won’t be much help. No, no you won’t. I know how that works. I’ve been angry. Angry at Alice…angry at you …angry at Mamma….angry at Jude…Olga, Sally, Sherman, especiallySherman … yes, angry at you. You! YOU! You Clint … pretty much angry at everybody for one reason or another … especially Sherman … .angry at people who use my towel … angry at men, men who need a new blade for their razor, people who can’t keep their dogs quiet, people who don’t keep their children under control, people who don’t put things back where they belong, leave cabinet doors open, don’t trim their fingernails. Yep, I’m … was angry all the time.
(She begins to cry.)
Christ, Jude! Cint, where did you put my giraffe cup?

Clint
Giraffe cup?

Penny
See! That really pisses me off. That you’d use my cup. I wasn’t going to say anything.

Clint
What about Pa? Concerning your anger, you didn’t mention him.

Penny
(From tears to a visage of horror)
I can’t get angry at him. I only get angry at his bed.

Clint
Then why don’t we bury his bed with him?

Penny
That’s a thought … bury his bed with him.

Clint
What’s Alice’s eta?

Penny
She called from O’Hara. Alice should be in the air now.

Clint
Really?

Penny
It makes me sad. But what is your excuse?

Clint
I don’t have one. I don’t an excuse.

Penny
Well … ready or not, it’s time to wash up. How’s this for a spread?
(Olga’s loud voice comes from hers and Jude’s bedroom. She screams and laughs.)
Olga. Twerp, or is she a twit?

Clint
Twit? Twerp? Like I said, I don’t know the difference.

Penny
Today she’s a twit. Go knock on their door and tell the twerp lunch is ready.
(Clint follows his sister’s instructions.)

Clint
Anyone who hasn’t washed, do so; it’s time to eat!

Penny
We shouldn’t wait for them. They’ll come out only when they’re good and ready. Let me! There’s only one way to deal with a twit.
(She pounds on the door.)
There! She sleeps in the nude, so she’s looking for something to put on.

Olga
(From inside the bedroom)
We’re almost ready.

Penny
No rush! See! Twit! They’ll make us wait. You’d think she were a queen. So go ahead.
(Olga and Jude come in. She is wearing a terrycloth bathrobe and slippers.)

Olga
We didn’t know it was noon.

Penny
Duh!

Olga
You could’ve warned us.

Penny
Duh-duh-duh!

Olga
It would’ve helped.

Penny
Duh-duh-duh-duuuh-duuuh-duuuh-dah-dah-dah!

Olga
Ha! Ha!
(Pause)
Okay, we’re adults.

Penny
Can we eat now?

Olga
She always treats me with such kindness.

Penny
Trollop!

Jude
Ignore her, Olga!

Olga
Thanks I get for staying up half the night with Dr. Johnson.

Jude
Clint, I don’t think you’ve met Olga.

Clint
(Extending his hand)
Olga, welcome to the family.

Olga
Oh, we’ve been married forever. Jude and I have been married forever. Only sometimes it seems like forever.
(Clint still has his hand extended.)
You can do better than that!
(Olga gives Clint a huge hug. She clings to Clint and stares straight at Penny.)

Penny
Trollop! Oh, she’s such a cutie pie! Trollop!

Jude
Penny, I wish you stop using that antiquated word.

Penny
Slut, then!

Olga
Oh! I’m mortally wounded!
(Jude begins shaking.)

Penny
Whore!

Clint
Truce, girls! Truce!

Olga
I try to be nice.

Jude
Penny! Please.

Penny
Let’s eat! Pile it on!
(Except for Jude, they all begin building their own sandwiches. They have to reach over each other and ask for items.)

Jude
Penny! Why do you have to ruin everything?

(Jude crashes his fist into the table, injuring his hand, and, trembling, stands. He moans and inquires of God, “When will this end?” He cries, as heaving and internal tremors continue. Soon his sobs become heart-rending wails, and only gradually does he regain control of himself.)

Clint
Hey, Jude!
(Penny shakes her head. Olga goes to her husband and holds him.)

Olga
(To Penny)
Now you’ve upset him.

Penny
The best thing to do is ignore him. Pass the Miracle Whip.

Olga
Easy, now easy.
(Slowly Jude’s emotions return to normal. He sits.)

Jude
I’m okay. It just gets overwhelming. Only, now I’m exhausted.

Penny
Olga, I don’t hate you. It’s your hoity-toity attitude I can’t stand.

Olga
That’s absurd!

Penny
You’re also an intruder.

Olga
You won’t let go, will you?

Jude
They both love to fight!
(Jude begins crying and hyperventilating again.)

Olga
I don’t understand this family. I have never understood this family.
(To Clint)
Pickles? I took too many.

Clint
Sure.

Penny
Olga knows why I’m upset.

Olga
Ignore her. She’ll go away.

Penny
No! I won’t.

Olga
What did I tell you? It’s character assassination.

Jude
All Penny wants to do is cause trouble.

Penny
This is between Olga and me. It’s hard and she …. With Daddy…it happened so fas t…way too fast. Too fast. Too, too fast. Why just last week Daddy sat up all night, talking and playing Scrabble. We couldn’t shut him up.

Clint
Did he know then that … that he was dying of cancer … dying of cancer?

Penny
We weren’t prepared. We weren’t prepared for this. It’s been so fast. He declined so fast. We sat around a card table, played and daddy talked and talked. He wouldn’t let us put him to bed.
(Pause)
He appeared healthy. We never suspected … until Daddy turned yellow. Csncer!

Clint
Cancer. So he failed that quickly.

Penny
Not a clue. He was very private … alone really. He was concentrating on taking care of Mamma and didn’t take care of himself. Mamma was so … well, we didn’t have a clue. All these years he never got far from his library and lecture halls. He had his books.

Clint
His books … I eagerly looked at them. Do you know the names I. I.Rabi and Enrico Fermi and Polykarp Kusch?

Penny
Columbia. Physicists. They may have taught at Columbia around the same time as Daddy. Why?

Clint
I think … from what I remember … They snubbed Pa. You knew that, didn’t you?

Penny
I kind of did and kind of didn’t. I knew Daddy would get extremely upset whenever he heard or read about one of their accomplishments. I never paid much attention. I guess I didn’t want to know … know why he kept losing jobs. I guess … I guess I knew. From Mama’s perspective SMU treated Daddy like a piece of dirt.

Clint
Dirt? Did he ever reach tenure?

Penny
Obviously not.

Clint
So his bullying and head banging never impressed anyone. Don’t try to tell me he wasn’t a violent man.

Jude
Poor ol’ Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Horrid, I’m going to tell on him. Stupid, stupid. He should’ve known he would get caught. Then … hee, hee, hee! This seventeen-year-old pixie, fairest sin of all. Well, so much for Humpty Dumpty. Slain. That’s what happened at SMU, where Methodists behaved accordingly. After the fall, he never fully recovered. Never recovered. He was a broken man. Bastard.

Penny
What we had was an old man who was too ornery to admit an illness until it was too late. Everybody keeps trying to bring up dirt. We should be concentrating on sending him off in style. He wants a party. We’ll give him a party.

Jude
A shindig, a big ol’ shindig! As long as we’re using antiquated words, let’s have a shindig. Should we anticipate fireworks?

Penny
I need to check and see if Mamma has another party dress. She ruined one she was wearing.

Olga
Dr. Johnson deserves it. He’s been awfully nice to me.

Penny
We’ll send him off right.

Olga
With confetti, streamers, and balloons.

Penny
Something outrageous and fun.

Clint
We can blow up condoms. I didn’t say that.

Jude
Oh, yes you did. I’ll buy condoms. And how about a cake in shape of an anatomically correct doll?

Clint
Male or female?

Jude
Male, with an erection and all.

Penny
(Begins to cry)
You two. It’s not funny.

Jude
Pop would love it.

Penny
You both are so insensitive. No condoms or cakes like that. You’re so crude. There’s no excuse for it. It’s offensive. Daddy deserves … No wonder Johnson boys have a terrible reputation to overcome. No wonder.

Clint
Like people around here know me. That was Pa.

Penny
Dignity. That’s right. He deserves dignity. Daddy told me he wasn’t afraid of death. A proud man he was. What do you want to drink? tea? juice? milk? Or simply water?

Clint
Water, please.

Penny
The rest of you? Olga? Jude?

Jude
Same.

Olga
Same.

(Penny takes a pitcher of cold water from the refrigerator and fills six glasses.)

Penny
Back to game of scrabble. Mamma kept passing. “Mother!” he yelled. “Don’t pass again.” I don’t know why Johnson men insist on being so crude. If, let’s suppose, he didn’t say those horrible things, then why can’t I get them out of my mind, and unfortunately I’m not mistaken.

Clint
What did he say?

Penny
Fudge! No, no! He used an O … Two Ns …U … E … another N … D … and O … INNUENDO! Eight letters. 50 bonus points for using all seven tiles. Innuendo! There’s certainly been enough of it.

Clint
Innuendo. Eight letters. How many times in your life have you seen it? Innuendo. Perfect.

Penny
It happens. And then he searched for a “P.” Okay, “P” could be for Penny. On the other hand. Help me.

Clint
“P” could’ve been for penis. Penis, Penny. Say penis. Penis! Say penis Penny.

Penny
I hate Olga. She came into the house and took over. That night as Daddy searched for a “P,” he asked me if I considered him a pervert. No. He’s not a pervert. I have no reason to think it. And then he searched for a “C.” Yes, a “C.” He blames mother. “C”…

Clint
For what? Cunt?

Penny
Clint! No. And not castration either.
(Clint laughs.)
It’s not funny. “Consider castration,” he said. How horrible! We’re not cattle.

Clint
When I met the man that I most hated, he fondled me affectionately as if he were a friend; he was stronger than I was. I wouldn’t tell on him.

(Penny hands Clint the glass of water.)

Penny
That’s wrong.

Clint
I could’ve murdered him, Penny. You don’t understand. I could’ve murdered him. Castrated …

Penny
No. Daddy, he … No, no, you’re not going to get me in the middle of it. You’re not going to get me to say I …I hated Daddy. Say I lived a loveless life until Henry came along and rescued me. So when Daddy complained to me and tried to …. Well, I told him he didn’t need to apologize. I don’t know. Maybe I should’ve…
(Clint drops his head; then stands. Penny joins him, where they exchange a long hug.)

Clint
That was a good sandwich.

Penny
It should’ve been. You made it yourself. This waiting … you think you could hurry it up?

Clint
I don’t have influence.

Penny
I can’t confront him.

Olga
I like Clint.

Jude
She’s friends with everyone.

Penny
And unashamed.

Olga
Ignore her.

Clint
Girls! You need to land, Penny. I’m sorry.

Penny
Sorry for what?

Clint
For doing nothing. For staying away.

Penny
It’s okay. I’m okay. But poor Henry.

Jude
My gut is beginning to grumble, so beware!

(Jude farts.)

Olga
Are you coming, Jude?

Jude
No, I’m needed here. Out of the bunch, I’m Reason.

(Jude farts again.)

Penny
She told me that it wasn’t what it seemed. I struggle with it. Twit.

Clint
You can’t assume…

Penny
I know what I saw.

Jude
What’s the harm now?

Penny
I see through Olga.

Jude
And what do you see?
(Jude carries a huge box from the floor to the table.)
Now for this. It’s Sally’s box.

Clint
Sally’s box?

Jude
Pop’s present. We all have a box. Part of the party. All these years he saved these things … saved things that belonged to all of us and put them in boxes for us.
(Olga comes back into the room with a wedding dress in her hand.)
Here she is! My bride!

Olga
Look what I found in my box.

Penny
A wedding dress, hey?

Olga
It’s unreal. Satin … gold thread … lace bodice … a long … a rhinestone tiara and a veil of lace. Everything I never had.

Penny
Huh!

Olga
(Showing everyone her new necklace.)
And I found this too.
(Penny goes and rips necklace off her neck.)
Oh!

Penny
You!
(After Olga yanks her hair)
Oww!

Clint
Girls!

Penny
(Throwing the necklace at Olga)
Here!

Olga
Of course it goes with the dress.
(She dons tiara.)
Now, how does it look on me?

Jude
Magnificent!

(Penny shakes her head.)

Olga
(Holding the dress up to her body to show how it fits her)
Jude, what do you think? Can I keep it?

Jude
It’s yours. But hopefully you won’t have an occasion to wear it.

Olga
Jude, it’s the thought that counts.
(Penny starts crying.)

Penny
You see I never … only Sally had a wedding dress.
(Olga also begins to cry.)

Clint
Pa always bought me any toy I wanted.

Olga
Jude, this reminds me of our wedding.

Jude
Holy macaroni!

Clint
Where was Clint? Where had your traveler gone? What became of him? Where were joys of home? Missed weddings, death of a sib … and so on.

Jude
Aw shucks, Clint. We didn’t miss you.

Penny
We missd you, Clint. I missed you. Jude missed you. Don’t let him kid you. Daddy planned all this. It’s his party

Jude
I’ll bring the white bread. Can’t let Pop down.

Clint
And you know what? This damn room is Pa’s box. That’s the same desk.

Jude
I was going to claim it.

Clint
Don’t touch it.

Jude
I know the rule. Don’t touch it.

Clint
The same, same rules. If you touch Pa’s desk, you lose your fingers.

Penny
Mamma told me we could start taking what we wanted from the house. But we should wait for Alice before we start.

Jude
Clint can have Pop’s books.

Clint
I’m impressed by your generosity.

Jude
And Penny can steal what she wants. Alice?

Penny
She should be calling from the airport soon. Clint, you look nervous. You won’t …

Clint
Given what’s happened to me, this is a breeze.

Penny
I don’t know if you could’ve made a difference … considering age difference between us. You had your own life to live.

Clint
I could’ve reported Pa.

Penny
Don’t Clint! Don’t! No. How could you have?

Clint
I wanted to.

Jude
Buy a megaphone, heh?

Clint
No a bullhorn! I’m a sixties child. But a telephone would’ve sufficed.

Penny
Come! Talk to Daddy. Tell him what you’ve always wanted to say to him.
(She grabs Clint’s hand and drags him toward the master bedroom.)
Daddy wanted me to speak with his doctors.
(Penny goes to her father’s bedside.)
Daddy, Alice is coming. Here’s Clint. Clint! We’ll all be here for your party.

(Clint joins her; Penny puts an arm around her brother.)

Clint
I don’t have a reference for this.

Penny
I know. Just speak from your heart.

Clint
Can he hear us?

Penny
Oh …yes. Clint you need to tell him … you know, start with something easy. Tell him about overseas …where you traveled … he would’ve liked … like to hear about your adventures. Daddy, we’ll bake you a cake. Nothing fancy. A white layered cake with chocolate. Listen, let me skip out and let you two talk.
(Silence)
Okay. Clint, it’s your turn. Talk to him.
(She leaves the room. Clint stares at his father, fixated on his eyes.)

Clint
You wanted to talk to me?
(No response)
You always said we’d go fishing.
(No response)
Well, it doesn’t look as if it’s the day for it … less than satisfactory. I don’t have anything to say. Pa, I only found comfort in places where people didn’t know me. It got so …. I could find comfort only when … Be easy, easy on me. I didn’t know what was up.
(No response)
Well, well, well…
(Clint waits and waits for a response that doesn’t come. He finally gives up and leaves the room.)

Penny
How did it go?

Clint
I guess I expected too much.

Penny
It’s happened to me. But you didn’t stay in there long enough. You should’ve planned exactly what you wanted to say.

Clint
Yeah. I planned … I planned …
(Without the aid of anyone, Mrs. Johnson comes back into the living room.)

Penny
Mother … Mamma, what are you doing up? Mamma!

Jude
(Looking through his box)
Guess what I just found in my box. Look, Mom, my Mensa card, which shows I’m smart.

Penny
Yes mister smarty-pants, you are. Mamma, where’s your walker.

Mrs. Johnson
Penny, I didn’t fall. I got here in one piece. I don’t see Clint using a walker.
(Clint smiles.)
Penny, I’m going to fall, but I want to fall without your help. I want to be independent, but you people don’t listen to me. I could die tonight in my sleep, and I’d be happy. I’m afraid I’m going to live forever. I want to go with Dr. Johnson. What do you think, Jude? Oh, my God! Where’s Sherman? Sherman better come. I called Sherman to let him know about Dr. Johnson.

Jude
Why did you do it?

Mrs. Johnson
I want him here. Sally would’ve wanted it. I want Sherman.

Jude
If he walks through that door, he won’t walk out again.

Mrs. Johnson
No, Jude, don’t!

Jude
Mom, Sherman hurt our family, but you don’t care. I hate the bastard for what he did. He better not show up.
Penny

Jude…

Clint
I need to go for a walk. Pa didn’t respond to me, Penny. His breathing still looks strong. What good did my seeing him do?

Penny
Don’t go far.

Mrs. Johnson
Penny, they’re starving Dr. Johnson to death.

Penny
The same thing over and over again, the same thing. And, oh yeah … Yeah, he can still hear … hear every word.
(The doorbell rings. Penny answers, and there stands Alice with her luggage.)
Alice! Welcome to Daddy’s party.

Mrs. Johnson
Alice! Someone would’ve picked you up. We need some milk.

Alice
So this is where they live.
(At this point, the women exchange long hugs, and there’s more hugging.)
Clint!
(He gets a hug too. Jude asks for a turn.)
Oh, my God. You must be Jude.

Penny
He’s married.

Alice
So I heard. Come here, my married baby brother.
(Another hug)
How’s Father?
(Penny shakes her head. Silence.)
But before I go in to see him, I need to get rid of these bags and take a comfort break.

Penny
Alice! Tell us about us Chicago.

Alice
How about those Cubbies!

CURTAIN

DADDY’S PARTY Act Two

(The setting is the same as the first act. Only now it is dark outside, and the clock hanging over Dr. Johnson has slowed until it has almost stopped.
Dr. Johnson’s breathing is labored and loud and, for audience, amplified. It is like a loud snore. There are long pauses, during which everyone thinks it has stopped. Then he catches his breath. It is violent and looks as if it hurts him. He is fighting and won’t let go.
Family has gathered in the room. Except for Mrs. Johnson, who is curled up on her bed, they are all circled around dying man. They have been told end is near and are watching and waiting. All are silent, each in his or her way showing different levels of grief and concern.
Nurse is checking Dr. Johnson’s pulse, holding the old man’s wrist and looking at her watch. When she’s satisfied, she nods, lays Dr. Johnson’s arm down and pulls the sheet up. Everything has to be just so. She makes a few adjustments and, when satisfied, she pats her patient’s shoulder.)

Alice
Father, can you still hear us?

(Mrs. Johnson gets up, goes to her husband’s bed and stares into his eyes.)

Nurse
Almost … almost gone. Weak. His pulse is weak. Note his color, how it’s changed. There’s not much time.

Alice
I’m sure he still hears.

Penny
Daddy, Daddy, oh, Daddy….

Jude
What’s matter with you?

Alice
Sh! She has something that she needs to say to him.

Clint
I bet we all do.

Alice
But I don’t think Penny … I don’t think she was ready … not before we talked last night.

Penny
I didn’t sleep much.

Clint
Go ahead, Penny.

Penny
I don’t know about this.

Alice
I think we’ve shocked him, bless his soul.

Penny
Where do I begin?

Alice
Just tell him what you told me last night.

Penny
I’m not sure…

Alice
You can do it.

Jude
Ashes, his ashes, blown by the wind. Carrion eaten by birds.

Alice
Hush, Jude. Let Penny…

Olga
I watched my mom die. I never had a dad until … Dr. Johnson. At least he’s not suffering.

Mrs. Johnson
Honey, please don’t go.

Clint
Heaven forbid anyone stop him.

Jude
He makes dying look easy.

Olga
He was a father I never had.

Penny
Please, Olga!

Olga
I want him to know. I don’t care if it upsets you.

Alice
Don’t respond to her, Penny! It’s not worth it.

Olga
I changed his diapers!

Penny
So did I!

Alice
Tell him, Penny! This is your last chance. We’re all behind you.

Penny
But Mamma’s …

Alice
She needs to hear ….

Penny
No. It’s not fair to her.

Alice
She knows.

Penny
I can’t.

Mrs. Johnson
Honey, take me with you.
(Mrs. Johnson throws herself on to top of Dr. Johnson and holds him. Penny steps back and starts crying. Alice holds her.)

Clint
This is difficult.

Penny
During scrabble … Daddy … Daddy … he … he … talked about … he tried to draw a “C.”

Mrs. Johnson
Oh, Honey!

Jude
Bastard!

Penny
Jude!

Alice
Did he draw one?

Penny
What?

Alice
A “C”? Did he draw a “C”? Did Dad draw a “C”?

Penny
No.

Clint
We all suffered. It’s only fair that he hear us.

Jude
He took his knuckles! Like this! Like this! Right in my head! Yes, he would. Yes, you would.

Clint
Listen to me, Pa! Why do you think I ran away? Think about it. It shouldn’t be hard for you to figure out. You should be pleased to know that you were right about me. I own no property and have very little money. I’m not worth a tinker’s damn. But I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care.

Alice
Clint, you’re just being hard on yourself.

Clint
It’s all true. Did you hear me Pa? I don’t care. I never cared.

Alice
He heard you. He’s nodding his head.

Penny
No.

Alice
Okay. Now it’s my turn. Father, this … this … this is Alice here.

Mrs. Johnson
Alice!

Alice
Penny, take care of mother!

Penny
All aboard! Choo-choo-choo-choo!

Mrs. Johnson
Take your hands off me!

Penny
Mamma!

Olga
Let me.

Mrs. Johnson
(Going with Olga over to her bed)
You’re nice.

Alice
Father, I guess you’re waiting to hear from me. I hear you saying to yourself, who is this girl? What does she want? You can die before I’m finished, if you don’t want to hear. I’m doing pretty well. They’re still paying me to teach at Loyola. But I’m about ready to retire. I’ve wrestled with this for a long time … a long, long time. I know it’s a form of quitting and know how much you hate quitters.
(Pause)
Father, you’ve stolen everything from me. But I don’t expect you to say you’re sorry. I no longer hate you. You never gave me a chance to beat you in Scrabble. Now tell me. What do you expect me to say?

Mrs. Johnson
Alice, you caused him all kinds of grief.

Olga
Let him go in peace. Please let him go in peace.

Alice
I thought I’d make a minimal appearance.

Nurse
Excuse me. I think this might be it.

Mrs. Johnson
What!
(Pushing herself off the bed)
No!
(Sobbing)
Honey!

Nurse
Sh! Sh!
(Dr. Johnson struggles for breath and seems to lose the struggle.)

Mrs. Johnson
No! Lover, why? Why are you doing this to me? Please don’t!

(As if Mrs. Johnson’s outburst jumpstarted it, Dr. Johnson’s breathing begins again)

Nurse
Close.

Penny
Damn! I can’t believe it.

Jude
Stubborn! I don’t mind him jerking me around once or twice. But three times? This is ridiculous. It’s getting personal.

Nurse
Why is he hanging on?

Alice
Who knows!

Jude
Why not trip him up? Next time let’s don’t come in here.

Penny
We can’t let him die alone.

Clint
Excuse me.
(Clint goes to the living room.)

Olga
Mom, you need to lie down and try to relax.
(She pulls back the bedspread.)
I’ll tuck you in. Dad wants you to take care of yourself.
(Mrs. Johnson follows Olga’s instructions. Then Olga sits in a chair next to Dr. Johnson’s bed and holds his hand.)

Penny
Someone get a camera.

Jude
Don’t say anything else, Penny.

Alice
I want everyone to know … I’m thankful for Penny. I’m also very impressed by how well the house has been maintained. I expected far worse.

Penny
Yes, it’s been difficult.

Alice
I was surprised … with what I experienced.

Penny
If you don’t want to deal yourself a blow, you better stay out of Olga’s and Jude’s … the honeymooners’ room.

Olga
There she goes again. I’m out of here!
(Her feelings hurt, Olga runs to her room.)

Penny
She’s so phony.

Jude
That’s not fair.

Alice
Excuse me too.
(Alice joins Clint in the living room.)
Do they ever stop? Penny, Jude, and Olga?

Clint
Not since I’ve been here.

Mrs. Johnson
He’s my lover. My only lover. We had an agreement.

Penny
Daddy made the decision. No life supports. To die at home. We should respect it.

Mrs. Johnson
What decision? I should’ve been consulted.

Penny
And what would you have said? It wouldn’t have changed anything. It’s a bad kind of cancer.

Jude
You’ve insulted my wife. When you insult her, you insult me. Here she’s taken care of Pop. I warn you … this has got to stop,
(Hyperventilating, Jude starts to leave. Then he changes his mind and sits next to his father’s bed. The scene shifts to Alice and Clint.)

Clint
Alice, Alice, Alice.

Alice
My big brother!

Clint
Yes, I’m your big brother, and I feel bad that ….

Alice
Don’t. We’re here now, and we can’t go back.

Clint
Why are you here?

Alice
Clint, I hear you saying to yourself, “I don’t belong here. All I have to do is bury him, and then I can leave and get on with my life.” You don’t quite understand all of this, but you know that somehow you’re connected. Let me ease your mind. I feel the same way. It’s just for a few days. And how have you been?

Clint
Me? Oh. I don’t do much. Alice, do you hate me?

Alice
Well, I haven’t thought about I … to be truthful I haven’t thought about you in a very long time.

Clint
Well, good!

Alice
Hate you?

Clint
Yeah…

Alice
Maybe I’ve hated you.

Clint
I held out hope.

Alice
Maybe … I always looked up to you.

Clint
I love you, Alice.

Alice
How easily you say it. “I love you, Alice.”

Clint
Fancy it! Well?

Alice
I hope it’s true.

Clint
It is. There aren’t many people I’ve loved … love.

Alice
Can I count on it?

Clint
I can be pretty unreliable.

Alice
I believe it.

Clint
I’m sorry, Alice.

Alice
Don’t be.

Clint
I hurt you.

Alice
No you didn’t. You just ….

Clint
Why would you say I didn’t when I did?

Alice
It’s not how I remember it. With Father dying … Well, I don’t blame you, no. I can’t. For pity’s sake, no. It was his fault. You know it.

Clint
But I ….

Alice
Sh! Sh!

Clint

Pa did the same thing…

Alice
Sh!

Clint
… to me, and I turned around and did it to you.

Alice
Sh!

Clint
I …

Alice
Sh!

Clint
I knew what Pa was doing to you too.

Alice
Clint, it’s over.

Clint
Is it?

Alice
Now listen to me. The only thing I feel bad about now is that we didn’t stop him. We could’ve …

Clint
I should’ve killed him.

Alice
Will you give me a hug? I need a hug.
(They hug.)
When you reach a certain point in your life … Well, you should’ve gotten there before I did. You should be telling me what to expect.

Clint
For the past so many years, Ma has been trying to get me to come over. Everybody’s tried …

Alice
I used to try to imagine how this would be. Do you know what I would do with an ache?

Clint
No. I just know what I do.

Alice
I cut myself.

Clint
Cut yourself?

Alice
I once carved “I hate you” on my arm. At that stage, there wasn’t anyone looking after me.

Clint
You cut yourself.

Alice
You can’t fathom it, can you?

Clint
No, I can’t.

Alice
So Father had big plans for you. And you had to spoil it for him. Okay, I understand it. But how could you expect a little girl to know how to protect herself?

Clint
I know I let you down.

Alice
You didn’t let me down. I just worried about you. One day you were around, and then suddenly you weren’t. Before that, you were rarely at home.

Clint
You shouldn’t have relied on me.

Alice
I don’t think that.

Clint
Yeah. I wonder. What would I have …what would’ve happened, if I’d stayed. I really would’ve killed him.

Alice
I would’ve helped you.

Clint
I had a lonely time. And you?

Alice
Quite so, but … I had Willy. At least for a while I did.

Clint
Willy. Really, Willy?

Alice
Willy. Really.
(Clint starts laughing.)
What’s so funny?

Clint
Willy.

Alice
Well, that wasn’t Willy. He was too serious to be funny. It’s a strange feeling not to know someone you once loved.

Clint
Willy?

Alice
Yeah. I’m talking about Willy. Willy. Do something, Willy! Willy, if you don’t want to be here, do something about it! I don’t blame him for leaving me. I never gave him very much. Know what else? I wouldn’t touch him.

Clint
Pa? Or me?

Alice
Clint … Willy blamed it on a midlife crisis. Coward! And what about you? Willy blamed it on a midlife crisis.

Clint
Oh, more of the same. Only characters changed. I’m surprised you still care about me. I don’t deserve it.

Alice
You do.

Clint
No, no.

Alice
Yes, yes.

Clint
You’re overwhelming.
(Pause)
There’s so little I can do to make up for what I did to you.
(Pause)
When you consider it all.

Alice
Don’t, Clint! I’ve moved on.

Clint
Ah, then … I haven’t changed. I’m still a dirty old man.

Alice
No.

Clint
I am. You don’t know. Nobody does. I made sure of it. I sneaked around. I went to a part of the world where laws weren’t enforced.

Alice
Clint … frankly, I don’t want to hear about it. I don’t need it.

Clint
I’d go. I’d try not to. Is it possible to control? How often have I said, “I’m not going to do it anymore?” And failed. Back to Willy….

Alice
Well, nine years ago …Willy sat across the dinner table from me. He gave me a long, pitiful look, bowed his head, and told me that he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. When he left, he left a door wide open. It took me a long time to close it.

Clint
It had to have been hard.

(Penny comes into the room.)

Penny
Have I missed something?

Alice
No. We were just talking about growing up in the Bronx. Stuff … just stuff … stuff we hadn’t thrown away. Look around here. It looks as it they picked up the apartment in the Bronx and moved it here. Except, I couldn’t make this my home. Here? No.

Clint
No fire escape. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to let off steam. Nowhere to escape. Escape. A fire escape, out the kitchen window in our old apartment, was where I’d hang out. Out there I had a safety ladder. I could always fly down those rungs quicker than Pa. Alice, I should’ve …

Alice
Sh! Sh! I only would’ve gotten in the way.

Clint
Yes, I can see you complaining … take me home.

Alice
There are a few funny things that I could tell you about Clint.

Clint
Funny?

Alice
Ha! Ha! That was about it, you were funny.

Penny
Ha, ha, funny?

Alice
Ha, ha, sad. With him, you didn’t know when to laugh.

Clint
I’m standing right here, and listen to her make fun of me.
(He starts off.)

Alice
I want to tell you a secret about Clint.

Penny
We don’t keep secrets here.

(He goes back to the bookcase.)

Alice
So he disappeared. So what?

Penny
That’s no secret.

Alice
I’ve always said things would’ve been different, very different had mother…

Penny
Alice, Daddy may have had his problems, but …

Alice
Go on … make excuses for him … make excuses for him … excuses … excuses … excuses … why you shouldn’t remember… create a false memory…go on, forget … forget what you told me last night … never again admit it … never admit …

Penny
Alice!

Alice
Don’t get hysterical. Look! To avoid Father I had to stay away… not come straight home … not come straight home after school … had all these activities. I joined clubs, was this special girl in charge of everything … editor of the school newspaper, Student Council member, cheerleader. But it didn’t work all the time, I mean …

Penny
No.

Alice
Believe what you want.

Penny
People change. People change all the time.

Alice
Oh, yeah, sure. You can continue to believe whatever you want. I know what happened to me … how he slipped into my room at night.

Penny
You don’t have the foggiest idea what you’re talking about.

Alice
All I need now is my grown-up brother.

Penny
Why are you so quick to criticize Daddy?

Alice
Hello … Father… eh? What happened between last night and now? Did he get to you in some way? I remember him coming into my room. He’d tell me I was his special little girl. My guess is Mother knew. I’d pretend to be asleep.

Clint
That’s called …

Alice
I’d call it exhaustion. My hope was he’d give up.

Penny
He always was strong-willed.

Alice
Clint, wouldn’t you call it a conflict of wills? Penny, you don’t believe me anyway. I don’t want to bother you with details.

Penny
I never said I don’t believe you. I said Daddy…

Alice
Forget it! Father would come to the breakfast table …. Well, we had to get out of his way, especially Clint. “Pull your chair up to the table! Sit up straight and tuck your landing gear in!” Fuck! Yes, fuck! Yes, fucking. Let’s have a fucking good time at Daddy’s party. But Clint …

Clint
Penny, I’m afraid your sister has the wrong person. However! The “however” in my case, mind you, was far worse than beatings. I’m afraid we’ve all been less than forthcoming.

Alice
It’s funny, because I considered our family to be normal. I just thought that was the way families were.

Clint
I thought that too.

Alice
We grew up with it in our heads

Clint
(Laughing)
Normal. So we should’ve counted ourselves lucky?

Alice
I felt shame.
(Then with nervous agitation.)
I don’t know how Father ever made the commute.

Clint
He faced it everyday, everyday a long ride to Columbia, where he taught, and commuted back.

Alice
He complained about it all the time.
(Pause)
I could never look at Mother.

Clint
As far as I was concerned, she was never there.

Alice
There’d be a smile on her face. I detested him. I detested her. I detested my own mother. I destested my parents.

Penny
Well, I didn’t detest him. I love him.

Alice
Then define love. You can’t.
(Pause)
But who would’ve believed me … with Father teaching at Columbia and all. Now, here we are, except for Sally.

Penny
(Becoming very agitated and uncomfortable)
You know, I can’t believe Daddy just a week ago paid cash for his casket, his funeral, and his burial. He paid for Mamma’s right then too. Wrote a check for twenty-five grand.

Clint
Ain’t that grand.

Alice
If that’s everything, it’s cheaper than what it would cost at home ….

Penny
Yes, it covers everything … except the party.

(Alice stands, then goes to her father’s desk and looks at the piles of papers. Jude enters from his parents’ bedroom.)

Jude
No home run yet.

Clint
Let’s hope we’re down to the last out.

Alice
I think we are. I don’t sense a rally.

Jude
A rally? No!

Penny
There might be one. Daddy’s a fighter.
(Clint and Alice frown.)

Clint
I never had grades for Columbia.

Penny
Daddy could’ve pulled strings and gotten you in, I’m sure.

Clint
Columbia was not for me.

Penny
Well, I only went to Columbia one semester … until I got married.
(Pause)
But Alice…

Alice
What about Alice?

Penny
I can’t blame you for getting a good education.

Alice
Well, yes. But an education will only take you so far and then …. You can graduate from Columbia with honors, acquire a PhD., and think you’re set. Okay, fine, you have an education. At the same time you created expectations.

Clint
Man.

Alice
Letters after your name. Letters on your office door. Thank you. Thank you; thank you. I’m going to have a good job. I’m going to be at top of my profession. I can’t believe it. I’m going to obtain heights our father never obtained.

Jude
And make money. Lots and lots of it. Lots and lots of money.

Alice
No, wait a minute. You’re missing something. None of it’s good when you don’t have support.

Jude
So you created a hypotheses as to why you haven’t succeeded.
(Alice does not respond.)
Take me. I could’ve been Pop’s prize physicist. Then I bungled a college career. Even so, I’ve had all kinds of offers dangled in front of me.

Clint
That’s different from me.

Jude
Don’t complain. Don’t let it get to you. It’s all in the head, yes, yes, all up here, where it gets all mixed up. Oh, this tiny voice, “you’re not worth shit, sssst, piss on you,” and those moments are repeated and repeated until the voice becomes garbled, without knowing I recognized it. It’s a silly little voice created by laughing gas, so that instead of running, I laughed. I laughed at Pop. I saw humor in it. I laughed in Pop’s face. And I’m still laughing.
(Silence)
Pop always said I could win a Nobel, if I put my mind to it. I think he’s right. I’m brilliant. I had a high IQ. 150 IQ.

Clint
Then why don’t you? Didn’t you?

Jude
You wouldn’t think I was the same guy as then.
(He turns and looks at everybody.)
Well!

Alice
I brought some old photographs of Clint and me during our New York days.

Clint
Sis, what do you remember about the Bronx?

Alice
I can still see those Venetian blinds with broken slats that Mother hated to touch.

Clint
You’re still making noise about that?

Alice
Penny, I never imagined one telephone call would ever have had such a profound impact on me as your call two days ago. I half forgot our connection. “Hello?” “Who?” “Oh ….” “Ye s…” “Yes ….” “I understand.” Was all I could say. “No, no, I’ll come. I’ll be there.” It stunned me. There was something about it. I knew the voice, but it was as if I hadn’t heard it before. I mean, up until that point, I hadn’t paid attention. She sounded like me: only panicky. It was Penny’s voice, intonation, accent. It blew me away.

Jude
Voices.

Alice
Penny’s voice.

(Olga comes in. She has on her tiara and veil.)

Jude
Olga, I told them how much I love and depend on you. How you saved my life. I told Alice, I told Clint, I told Penny… Olga, God made you with finest heart, finest heart in the world. If something were to happen to you, I’ll kill myself.

Olga
Don’t pay attention to him. Your brother has always exaggerated.

Jude
Olga’s going to make sure I toe the line, take my medicine, and provide oversight. She’s my life preserver.

Olga
I couldn’t ask for a better husband. I know it isn’t his fault.

Alice
I know that. We all do.

Olga
I’ve heard Dr. Johnson talk about Jude’s brilliance. It seemed to frustrate him.
(Penny comes back into the room.)
Dr. Johnson said Jude was his cross. I can see that, but it didn’t give Dr. Johnson cause to treat Jude the way he did. I didn’t mind being his maid, but I couldn’t stand the way Jude was treated. I’ve been a motel maid most of my life, so …. I mean I didn’t mind the way he looked at me, how he flirted, his hands, and… But for him to treat Jude like a piece of shit! Now that’s something I can’t forgive.

Penny
Jude, get her out of here! I can’t stand sight of her.

Jude
Leave her alone. She’s my life preserver. She’s my life preserver.

Penny
You’ve got to get her out of here.

Jude
If she goes, I go. Pop let us live here.

Alice
Olga has the right to be here. She’s Jude’s wife.

Penny
She’s not good for him! She’s not good for Mamma.

Jude
(Shaking)
She’s not a maid anymore. She’s my wife … my life preserver … my love.

Alice
Apologize to her, Penny.

Penny
No.

Jude
(Sobbing and hyperventilating)
She always does that. Oh, Sally, I’m coming.

Penny
What about Sally?

Jude
Sally…

Olga
Breathe! Now breathe.

Jude
See how she helps me. If I’m up, she’s standing under me. If I’m down, she’ll be there too. Penny, she’s also been there for Pop. I haven’t heard her complain.

Olga
(Taking off the tiara and veil)
This feels silly. It’s too late for it now.
(She tosses it to Penny.)
Here! Dr. Johnson meant to give it to you. Not me! You!

Jude
See!

(Jude salutes and follows Olga to their room.)

Clint
All this sorting, sorting, and going through boxes. I can’t believe there’s so much stuff.

Penny
Accumulation of a lifetime. Piles and piles of it.

Alice
It’s crazy, isn’t it? It doesn’t make sense that Father would save it all.

Penny
Piles of discardables.

Alice
I’ll call the Salvation Army.

Penny
Not yet. Alice, please!

Alice
I’ve been itching to dig through my box. Honestly. I suppose he’s trying to make up for all missed birthdays.
(They each go through his or her box. As disappointment sets in, Penny pulls out a jar.)
Penny, don’t look so disappointed. Disappointment isn’t becoming. Let me see. A jar.
What’s in it? Nothing.

Penny
Cobwebs: nothing of value, but it fits me: Penny, of little value.

Alice
(Holding up a photograph)
This must be Sally. Jeez, she was beautiful.

Clint
Let me see. So that’s how she looked. I never met her.

Alice
Look what Clint has!

Clint
(Pulling a switchblade from his box)
A switchblade anyone? When I was a kid, Pa wouldn’t let me have one.

Penny
Please put it away. With Jude here…
(Clint puts it in his pocket.)
Thank you.

Alice
(Holding up a mirror)
Look at this.

Clint
A mirror. Perfect.

Alice
I don’t think so.
(Jude comes in, but, when he sees his siblings with their boxes, he steps back into his bedroom. Alice holds up a pigtail.)
And how much for a pigtail? Who wants it? Father whacked it off.

Penny
I want it!

Clint
(Going through his box)
Anyone would think that my old my catcher’s mitt and some old photos would mean something to me. An old picture of us standing in front of Yankee Stadium pretending to be Yankee fans.

Alice
As long as Mother doesn’t need money, let Jude and Olga live here.

(Enter Jude with Sally’s box)

Jude
Here’s Sally’s box. I took it into our room for safekeeping. I went through it and halfway down it I found …

Penny
(After taking Sally’s box)
A teddy, barrettes, curlers, Rose Bath, coloring book, jumping jacks. Goodness!

Alice
Did all of it really belong to Sally?

Penny
They’re old, used. Sure, they could’ve belonged to her. Well, if you want to know about Sally, ask Jude.
(Pause)
Listen.
(Pause)
Maybe you shouldn’t ask Jude. Maybe we should save it for Sherman.

Jude
I don’t want to hear that stinking bastard’s name. I know he murdered Sally. I know Sherman murdered Sally.

Penny
We don’t know it. Don’t let Mamma hear you talk that way about Sherman. He and Sally would get us out the house. Sally knew… knew the reason … Well! Sherman. The police didn’t implicate him. Sherman was not arrested. He remained a grieving husband.

Jude
Fuck him! And give Pop a fucking sendoff. Look, Pop also left Sally a pair of nose plugs, intact. Sally’s dead, drowned, yet Pop left her a pair of nose plugs, intact. She hated water in her nose. A great swimmer, but Sally hated it. Let’s see what else we can find. Oh, here’s one expired Red Cross Life Guard Certification card. And a fancy dress. And would she have gone swimming in this dress, this fancy evening gown? See water stains

(As he begins to hyperventilate again.)
Sherman … Sherman … Sherman. You’re … you’re … you’re … piss … fuck you! Mother fucker.

(Jude begins to sob.)
My stomach hurts. You don’t want to mess with my head.

(Olga grabs her husband and holds him tights. It seems to calm him.)

It’s still hard to believe. Accident or suicide? It’s still hard.

Penny
Sally never … well, she never … never, ever talked to me about it. Maybe …

Alice
I shouldn’t have come. Do you think I wanted to? Because I knew … I knew … Boy, did I know.

Penny
You think it’s been easy for me?

Alice
It can get a hell of lot worse … prescription pills: Tylenol, Advil, you name it and lots of drinking … as I told somebody. I used to cut myself.

Penny
Cut? Castration. Two “C’s!” Cut. Cut. Cut.

Clint
Give her a knife. It would serve the bastard right.

Penny
Clint! No, no, no. Daddy NEVER…

Alice
Penny, remember what you told me last night…

Clint
You’re wasting your time, Alice. As soon as he’s dead, I’m out of here.

Penny
I’m confused.

Alice
It wasn’t your fault.

Penny
No.

Alice
He did it to all of us.

Penny
No.

Alice
Okay. Whatever you say.

Penny
I guess …

Alice
It’s okay, really. No, it’s not okay, really.

Penny

It’s not.

Alice
You’ll get there.

Penny
I’m not so sure. Most of the time I put up a good front.

Alice
Penny, you don’t have to anymore.

Penny
I don’t?

Alice
You don’t.

Clint
She doesn’t.

Penny
I don’t. Christ, I don’t.

Alice
He did it to Clint. He did it to me. To Jude too. I don’t know why he skipped you.

Penny
I was his little Miss Precious.

Alice
So? I was his little Miss Precious too.

Penny
So! What do you want me to say? Okay, I hate my body. If you want to know, I hate … I hate, I hate, I hate … I hate people who use my giraffe cup. My giraffe cup. It sounds horrible, but … I didn’t hate … It felt good. I never hated it, and I craved his attention … craved it. Yes, craved it. Craved, craved, craved. That’s the truth. You want to know the truth. I craved it!

Clint
She craved it!

Alice
Clint!

Clint
It’s a “C!” I’ll take a “C!” She craved it. Penny craved it.

Alice
Clint!

Clint
Clint.

Penny
I craved it.

Alice
It’s okay, Penny.

Clint
“A” for Alice. “C” for Clint. And give Penny an “A.” She deserves one. She craved it. She craved attention. At least she has an explanation.

Jude
Whoope-de-do!

(The nurse comes into the room.)

Nurse
It’s time.

Jude
I’ll get Olga.

Penny
Yes, of course, Olga. .

(Olga comes in from the bedroom with a full suitcase in hand. Jude takes her hand.)

Jude
Come on!

(As the family gathers together, they watch in silence as the old man dies. None of them cry.)

Alice
He’s dead.

Penny
Peace.

Mrs. Johnson
Lord take me.

Clint
God, I’m glad it’s over.

Mrs. Johnson
Where’s Sherman!

Jude
I’m here.

Olga
Christ! Jude! Christ!

Nurse
Let’s pray.

(A crescendo of rock)

Penny
Let the party begin!

Alice

Let the fucking party begin.

Clint

Let’s get it over with.

CURTAIN

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