Romance Script posted July 18, 2021 Chapters:  ...10 11 -12- 13... 


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The Big, Albeit Unexpected, Reveal

A chapter in the book Genius in Love

Genius in Love, Scene 12

by Jay Squires




PREVIOUS SCENE, SHORT AND SWEET: Cililla prepares Cornelius for the all-important meeting with the Jaxes, by teaching him the strategy of appearing to make eye contact with them.

CHARACTERS: Found in "Author's Notes"


SETTING: Plumb family living room. Opulently furnished, there are the trappings of wealth everywhere. Chandelier glimmers from the high ceiling. Long, elegant couch, center stage, facing stage right. Two plush armchairs facing the couch. Downstage left, a gleaming grand piano has been placed at an angle so the audience cannot see the piano keys. Upstage right, a door opening to another room. A small bar with bottles, glasses, etc., upstage right, near the door. Downstage right, a double door opens to the foyer. Stage right wall, a large cubist painting.

TIME: Evening, 1952

AT OPEN: TOLOACHE and HOWARD, dressed in a casually understated manner, are sitting rather stiffly on the couch, with about three feet separating them. TOLOACHE extends her right arm toward him and glances at her fingertips as though measuring the distance. She casually scoots about a foot closer.



TOLOACHE:
(Effecting a smile)
Shall we try tonight, Dear?

[There is a knocking at the door, upstage right; it opens and CLARINETTA pokes her head through]

CLARINETTA:
Begging your pardon, Mr. and Mrs. Plumb. The Jaxes are pulling into the driveway.


HOWARD:
We have the buzzer, Clarinetta. If we need you.


CLARINETTA:
(Withdrawing her head)
Sorry, Sir.

TOLOACHE:
She’s trying hard to be helpful.


HOWARD:
We didn’t hire her to be a spy.


TOLOACHE:
I did ask her to let us know, Howard.


HOWARD:
Which you could have told me. Communication, Toley. Com-mun-i-CA-tion!


TOLOACHE:
Breathe, baby, breathe!


HOWARD:
(Stunned)
You haven’t called me baby in … I don't know.

TOLOACHE:
You haven’t given me a reason to tell you I love you, either, but I do.


HOWARD:
(Blinking, then smiling crookedly, and speaking through it)
I’m not one of your acting students, Toley.

TOLOACHE:
(Through closed eyes)
No. You’re not.
(Beat)
Can we both just try?

[Chimes fill the room, then silence. They stand. HOWARD glances over at TOLOACHE who smiles at him, and they both turn their attention to the downstage double door. Soon, it parts and CLARINETTA stands in the doorway, MR. & MRS. JAX and JENNIE behind her.]

CLARINETTA:
(With a touch of dramatic flair)
Mr. and Mrs. Plumb … requesting your presence are ... Mr. Gary Jax and his wife, Mrs. Phyllis Jax, and their daughter Jennie Jax.

TOLOACHE:
Oh for goodness sakes, Clarinetta! 

(Laughing)
This isn’t the palace scene in My Fair Lady … folks, come on in. Please!

[CLARINETTA shuffles back through the door, with a parting grin to TOLOACHE; the Jaxes move out of her way; then stepping into the room, their eyes wander in awe over the exquisite walls, ceiling, and furnishings. TOLOACHE steps forward to them while HOWARD stays put just a moment before following his wife’s lead.]

TOLOACHE:
I’m so pleased we finally get to meet each other. Phyllis, I feel like we’re already old friends.

(extends both hands, which Phyllis takes in hers with a nervous smile)

PHYLLIS:
You have such a lovely—your home takes my breath away, Tol—Tol … forgive me …


TOLOACHE:
Don’t give it another thought, Phyllis. It’s a mouthful. It’s Toloache, but my friends all call me Toley. My father was an archeologist and a fanatic about ancient Mexican lore. He named me after the mysterious Mexican flower, Toloache—


HOWARD:
(Approaching GARY with outstretched hand)
Known for its aphrodisiacal properties. 

TOLOACHE:
(frowning, dipping her head discretely in little Jennie’s direction)
Sweetheart!

HOWARD:
I am sorry. Forgive me, please.
(Already in a handshake with GARY, clears his throat)
The name’s Howard. My father worked on the Ford assembly line.

GARY:
(Glancing first at TOLOACHE, then back to HOWARD, and with a smile)
Sir … you’ve come far. The name’s Gary.

HOWARD:
Well, you might say I’ve worked— 


TOLOACHE:
(Cutting him off)
And let me guess … this must be Jennie.

PHYLLIS:
(Prompting her daughter)
Jennie?

JENNIE:
(Timidly, in a thin voice)
Pleased to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Plumb.

PHYLLIS:
I don’t see Cornelius.


TOLOACHE:
Oh … he’s in the music room.


[PHYLLIS AND GARY’S eyes immediately shift to the piano, stage left, and TOLOACHE shakes her head]

TOLOACHE (Continues):
No, I mean the music practice room.
(Then, to JENNIE)
Would you like to go see Cornelius, Dear?

PHYLLIS:
(Placing her hand on JENNIE’S shoulder, her eyes meet with her husband’s then return to TOLOACHE)
Oh, I don’t know, Toley … I … we—

TOLOACHE:
Oh … well …

(Beat)
Let me assure you, though, she’ll be fine. Clarinetta will be right there with them. She’s really good with children, and it will give us time to kind of get to know one another. You know?

PHYLLIS:
(Silently communicating with her husband again, she tilts her head to JENNIE, arching an eyebrow; in response to which JENNIE returns a look of astonishment)
Well … I suppose, then. 
(To JENNIE)
You’re okay with that, Honey?

JENNIE:
Yes, Mama.


TOLOACHE:
That’s grand!

(To HOWARD)
Darling, will you call Clarinetta?

HOWARD:
The highlight of my day! If you’ll excuse me, Gary …
(Steps back to the couch, pushes a button embedded in the armrest, and then returns)

PHYLLIS:
Clarinetta … What an odd name. It’s very, I don’t know, musical? I’m guessing Italian?


TOLOACHE:
Ha!—no. I shouldn’t be blabbing this, but Clarinetta’s her acting name. Her real name’s Clara. 


HOWARD:
You mean, the famous Claras from the Hamptons?


GARY:
What?

HOWARD:
I’m kidding!


TOLOACHE:
Such a kidder! Anyway, she’s enrolled in my acting class, and I—um—have kind of taken her under my wing and hired her on here as a live-in maid to help her earn her tuition and give her a little spending money.


PHYLLIS:
How generous of you!
(To JENNIE)
See? You may watch Clarinetta on the silver screen someday.

[The door, upstage right, opens and CLARINETTA sticks her head in]

CLARINETTA:
Begging your pardon … You rang?


TOLOACHE:
Clarinetta, please take Jennie to the music room and then stay there with them. We’ll ring you to bring them both here later.


PHYLLIS:
(Grasping her daughter’s shoulders, she pulls her into a kind of loose embrace against her thigh, pats her back, then releases her, and darts a quick glance to her husband)

You go along with Clarinetta, Dear, and be good for Mama and Daddy.

[JENNIE crosses to CLARINETTA and both exit. HOWARD and TOLOACHE take their seat on the couch and the JAXES slip into the two chairs facing the couch. There follows a period of awkward silence.]

TOLOACHE
Are you okay, Phyllis? Is there anything I can get you?


HOWARD
How about I mix us a drink?


GARY
Thank you. I don’t drink.

(Beat)
Anymore ... Phyllis?

PHYLLIS:
Listen … Toley and … and Mr. Plumb—


HOWARD:
You can call me Howard.


PHYLLIS:
Well, yes … thank you.

(Beat)
Howard, then, and Toley … I—we … we owe you an explanation. I know you’ve picked up on how protective we are of Jennie.

GARY:
Phyllis!


PHYLLIS:
No, but we are, Gary. It’s not right. They’ve got eyes. We’ve made them uncomfortable.


GARY:
Well, they are now, Phyllis! We’ll talk about this at home.


PHYLLIS:
(A sigh of capitulation)
I’m sorry, Toley. Forgive me, Howard.


TOLOACHE:
(Patting PHYLLIS’S arm)
No apology needed, Dear.

HOWARD:
(Rising)
Well, I need a drink. You’ll excuse me.
(Moves upstage to the bar)

GARY:
Let me give you a hand.

(Rising, following HOWARD)

[While HOWARD and GARY talk at the bar, PHYLLIS suddenly grasps both of TOLOACHE’S hands, leaning in, tears springing to her eyes] 

PHYLLIS:
(In a low confidential voice)
Toley—I can’t … It’s tearing me up inside. Gary’s in denial. Jennie’s bright—she knows. Oh, shit, shit, shit, excuse me.

TOLOACHE:
We’ll talk tomorrow, Dear. I promise … I’ll call you.


PHYLLIS:
No! Yes, tomorrow please, but no. I can’t. Toley, my—our son died. Two month ago.

TOLOACHE:
Oh, my God!
(Reaches her arms out)

PHYLLIS:
No, please ... let me ... like I said, Gary's in denial, Toley. He's a sweet man, but you won't see that tonight. I don't even recognize him anymore. He lashes out at everyone. But even that might be better. Me ...

(patting her chest)
I’ve been keeping every scorching bit of it in here. Two months now.

TOLOACHE:
Jesus! Ohhhhhh. Phyllis … Phyllis …


PHYLLIS:
It’s out now, and I must say something's been lifted from me. Oh, you don’t know. Please. Do. Do call tomorrow. I need that.


TOLOACHE:
I will, Dear. Tomorrow.


PHYLLIS:
Can you help me pull myself together? Before they come back?


TOLOACHE:
(Handing her a neatly folded handkerchief from her dress pocket.)
You’ll be fine.

HOWARD:
(From the bar, in an elevated voice)
Toley, did you know Gary’s really Robin Craddock?

TOLOACHE:
(Momentarily Confused)
No, you’re not!

GARY:
Guilty. Not proud, but guilty.


TOLOACHE:
No! It’s a pen name, then? I followed Chelee McNamara from bedroom to the U.S Senate for all seven books in the series. I’ve been waiting for the eighth.


GARY:
Wait away! So has Putnam. It’s dried up, I’m afraid.

(Then, directed to his wife, with sudden enthusiasm)
But listen, Phyllis … do you have any idea whose house we are in?

TOLOACHE:
(Under her breath)
Oh, my God!

GARY:
Howard is the founder and CEO of Plumb Chemicals. Huh? You know?


[PHYLLIS gives a confused smile, raises her shoulders, and drops them. TOLOACHE, meanwhile, gives HOWARD a withering stare.]

GARY(Continues):
Remember? I read that article to you, Phyl? About the chemicals used in North Korea?


HOWARD:
No, no, I didn’t say that. I said that we’ve been told our patented chemicals that were used in WWII helped shorten that war, but not that we—


GARY:
He’s too modest. But you remember me reading it to you how the Chinese claimed—I think it was last year—that the US used chemical warfare in North Korea. Of course, the US denied it.


HOWARD:
Now-now! Since WWII, we’ve only used our patented chemicals to protect American crops against pests.


GARY:
Yeah, between your mouth and the common man's ears. Anyway, the important thing, Phyl … we are in the home of the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.


TOLOACHE:
(Glaring at HOWARD)
Who’d have thought that would be in the article?

GARY:
Oh. That article? No, no,  it wasn’t ….


TOLOACHE:
Oh … Hmmmmm.


[Both men return, drinks in hand]

GARY:
I figure just one wouldn’t hurt.


PHYLLIS:
Of course not. One never does.


[[ Note to Reader: At this point, the script would indicate to the stage crew to begin the Pineapple Rag tune very softly. Would you, dear reader, humor me and start the Youtube video now (and only at 25 % volume, so it will sound like it’s "piped" into the room). It should only last a little over 3 minutes. Thank you … and while you're up, get your free bag of popcorn from the lobby. We'll wait for you.]]

[Scott Joplin piano music drifts through the room. At first, GARY and PHYLLIS are stunned, then glance about the room.]

PHYLLIS:
(Tapping her feet bobbing her head)
I was looking for speakers. That music’s so much fun.

GARY:
People of this caliber wouldn’t have those big bulky things spoiling the symmetry. Probably hidden in the couch somewhere, Right, Howard? Like the buzzer? 


HOWARD:
Technology. It’s an amazing world we live in.

(Sitting down; looks to PHYLLIS, smiling)
Well, now … So, Gary’s really Robin Craddock. Toley’s an acting coach. I run a chemical business …. What do you do, Phyllis?

PHYLLIS:
(Still tapping her feet)
I’ve been dabbling with paint for years.

GARY:
Don’t let her kid you.

(Taking a large swig from his glass)
She’s good. She’s very good.

HOWARD:
(Pointing to the wall, stage right, near the door they entered by)
Did you notice the painting?

TOLOACHE:
Oh that ... he just had his people hang it this morning.


HOWARD:
That’s beside the point, Darling … It’s cubist, at any rate.


PHYLLIS:
(Twisting in her chair to look behind her)
Oh, my! I know that piece. A Mexican cubist living in New York. Jorge … Jorge …
(Snapping her fingers)
Jorge … Dorado. And that’s … Midnight Ministry, I believe.

HOWARD:
Might be. I bought it at auction My broker told me it would be a good investment. But I think I bid too high.


TOLOACHE:
You might as well ask, Phyllis. He’s not going to drop the subject till you do.

(Gives HOWARD a broad wink, to which he returns a frown)
Darling, do you think it’s about time we give Clarinetta a buzz?

HOWARD:
(Poises his finger over the button)
You’re sure we’ve exhausted our little visit? Gary? Phyllis?
(Beat)
Or you, Toley?
(Pushes the button)


PHYLLIS:
It’s like a build-up of suspense. I really am anxious to meet Cornelius.


GARY:
See if he’s a chip off the old block?


HOWARD:
What do you mean by that?


GARY:
Woh-Ooooh!

(Holds up both hands in mock defense)
You know … How far the acorn falls from the oak. Your dad worked on the Ford factory assembly line. And here you own an entire chemical factory. We’ll just see what kind of acorn you have in Cornelius.

[Three raps sound on the upstage right door and it opens for CLARINETTA.]

CLARINETTA:
You rang, Mr. Plumb?


HOWARD:
(Wearily)
The children. Did you bring the children?

CLARINETTA:
Yes, Sir. Mrs. Plumb said when you rang to bring the children.

HOWARD:
And I rang!


CLARINETTA:
Yes, Sir. They are here, Sir.


[CLARINETTA backs out and to the side, and CORNELIUS AND JENNIE stand in the doorway. CILILLA slips in before the door closes and stands beside CORNELIUS; she is unseen, of course, by everyone but CORNELIUS.]

PHYLLIS:
My, he is a handsome young man, right Gary?


GARY:
A regular Richie Rich.

(Downs the last of his drink)

[Waiting patiently for them to finish, CILILLA raises to her toes to speak in his ear]

CILILLA:
Remember the three words: “My pleasure, Sir,” to him. “My pleasure, ma’am,” to her.
(Beat) 
Her hair covers her ears, Cornie, so focus on where the ear should be.

CORNELIUS:
(In a forced-whisper)
Ev-e-ry-one has eye-brows.

[JENNIE glances up at him, but doesn’t say anything]

CILILLA:
Oh, Sweetie … I'm too protective ... but you know best what you can do.


PHYLLIS:
Why are they just standing there, Toley?


TOLOACHE:
I have no idea.


[Without a word, HOWARD heads to the bar]

TOLOACHE: 
(Watching him)
Of course, why wouldn’t he?
(To the kids)
Come on, Cornelius. Bring Jennie and come on over. Her Mama and Daddy want to meet you.

[CORNELIUS plods toward them, JENNIE at his side, his arms held stiff to his thighs, hands opening and closing.]

PHYLLIS:
Ohhhh, would you just look at him, Toley. He is so nervous.
(chuckling)
I could just eat him up!

TOLOACHE:
(Stealing a deep breath, and then to CORNELIUS)
Darling, won’t you say hello to the Jaxes?

PHYLLIS:
I am so happy to finally meet you, Cornelius.


CORNELIUS:
My plea-sure, M-ma'am.


TOLOACHE:
Wha-aat?

CORNELIUS:
(To his mother)
That—is not … right?

PHYLLIS:
You are a delight, Cornelius. Gary …Gary, meet Cornelius.


GARY:
I’m right beside you, dear.

(Beat)
Well, young man … how are you?

CORNELIUS:
My plea—No! … I—am good, sir.


GARY:
Well! I am pleased to meet you, young Cornelius.


CORNELIUS:
I am—I’m twelve … Sir. Pleased to … meet you, Sir.


PHYLLIS:
Isn’t that precious?


[HOWARD takes a few steps toward the group, then stops and delivers a puzzled look to TOLOACHE who appears to look straight through him before she turns with a smile to CORNELIUS]

TOLOACHE:
I was hoping you would show the Jaxes how much you enjoyed meeting them, Sweetheart, by playing something for them on the piano.


CORNELIUS:
Can I—p-play Chopin?


TOLOACHE:
That would be lovely, Dear.


PHYLLIS:
I love Chopin!


JENNIE:
Mama, can I sit on the piano bench with Cornie?


PHYLLIS:
Cornie! Oh, that’s so darned cute! 
(gives Gary a look)
Oh, I don’t know, Dear, it might distract—


[CORNELIUS holds out his hand and JENNIE takes it]

PHYLLIS (Continues):
Well, I guess that answers that.


[CORNELIUS and JENNIE cross to the piano, downstage left, and slide onto the piano bench. Everyone’s eyes are on them.]

[[NOTE TO READER: For full effect, as you are watching, on the theater stage of your imagination, CORNELIUS playing Chopin with JENNIE smiling beside him, the JAXES in stunned silence, enrapt, TOLOACHE brushing away an occasional tear of pride, and even HOWARD stealing his way to the couch without ever taking his eyes off his son … To EXPERIENCE THIS ... actually click on the 2nd video and listen along (Make sure you've increased the volume to about 80 %). We’ll keep the stage curtains open, and the lights on. Thank you for not leaving the theater.]]

 
END OF SCENE 12



Recognized

#1
July
2021


CHARACTERS:
Cornelius Plumb: An autistic, musical genius child, age 12. Stunningly attractive, his mother dresses him fashionably and impeccably. He is at a developmental crossroad, physically, mentally, and emotionally. His thoughts, when spoken, often broken, tend to end in an inflection. Movements Jerky.

Cililla Queez: An outgrowth of Cornelius' mind, a replacement for his imaginary childhood mentor, Pidely-Poo; she is here to transition him through puberty and adolescence. She is shapelier than most of the girls and her demeanor is rather racy, like a pre-teen channeling a stripper, but she also feels deeply and abounds in wisdom.

Howard Plumb: Cornelius's father; Enormously successful founder and C.E.O of a Fortune 500 company. Highly disciplined, he is emotionally distant from his wife and is embarrassed by his son.

Toloache [Pron: Toh-loh-AH-chee] Plumb: Cornelius's mother; former off-Broadway actress and bit player in daytime soaps, she now owns a small, borderline-successful acting studio. She glows with love for her son and protects him with much the same fierce devotion and duty as a knight would protect his kingdom.

Gary Jax: Jennie's father; a novelist, better known by his pen name, Robin Craddock, who had a successful series of rather racy romance novels that dried up when he went mainstream. Recently relocated his family to L A

Phyllis Jax: Jennie's mother; housewife and very serious amateur painter.

Jennie Jax: Cornelius's classmate, age 12, physically not yet blossomed. On the shy side, she is kind-hearted, but still a child and swayable. She likes Cornelius.

Clarinetta: The Plumb family maid. A student in Toloache's acting studio, earning her tuition.

# # #
PLAY FOR FIRST MUSIC PROMPT. SET SPEAKER AT 25 % VOLUME


PLAY FOR THE 2ND MUSIC PROMPT. PLAY AT 80 % VOLUME
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