|General Script posted January 23, 2022||Chapters:||2 3 -4-|
An Unlikely Protestor
A chapter in the book Eavesdroppers Are We All
Eavesdroppers Are We All, Sc. 4
by Jay Squires
PREVIOUSLY: Little Rudy, the mutt whose ownership no one claims, takes a liking to Harry, who, though his nose is offended by Rudy’s stench, waxes poetic about how, with a bar of soap and a tub of water, he could pass Rudy off in The Nationals as the Best In Show. Robert Piebald verbally (and almost physically) attacks Harry because of the latter's pretentious manner. He questions Harry's sanity. Martha exits with Rudy to bathe him. Bett, the retired Judge, in the language of the courtroom, suggests that in the question of Harry’s sanity he should not represent himself—that he should be represented, not by another person, but my silence. Harry immediately falls into a meditative state.
CHARACTERS: Listed and described in Author Notes. They take a few moments, but if it is your first foray into “Eavesdropper”, I highly recommend that you read them first.
SETTING: Interior of the Eat and Leave Happy diner. Tables with chairs scattered about, a few not occupied. A lunch counter runs from upstage to downstage right, with cushioned stools lining the outside, a few occupied. A rectangular opening behind the counter where orders are placed and steaming food-laden plates are delivered. Upstage center, an old-fashioned nickelodeon hunkers. Upstage right, exit to restrooms and hallway (implied, but off-stage) leading to Jackson’s and Martha’s home. Upstage to downstage Left, a huge window offering a view of the outside blizzard.
Time: New Year’s Eve, 1968
At Rise: With CILLILA sitting on the floor in an unintended, but most inappropriate cross-legged manner; GREGORY appearing to try not to notice, instead to keep at his writing; PIEBALD forced into an uneasy alliance with HARRY who will be sitting at the table, eyes closed, as though meditating throughout the scene; JACKSON continues his story …
If you’re not from these parts, you’d have no way of knowing the reason we nearly burned to the ground fourteen years ago …. It was because there was no firehouse near us. We were twenty-eight miles from the nearest town, with nothing in between.
Puttin’ the fire on the back burner—heh-heh—Jackson … you’d be a damn fool not to put you bein’ remote to your advantage. You know? You do an' you'll have to double the number of tables and even add a bunch of booths …
(tapping his forefinger against his temple)
if you used your noodle. Invest about five grand in signage alongside the interstate tellin’ the traveler if they don’t stop here they got twenty-eight miles to the next town. I’d have noticed signs like that when we were on the Greyhound, 'cept there weren’t any. And this … send a letter to Phillips or Mobil or Chevron an’ they’d be trippin’ over themselves to put a pump or two outside. Then it’d be “no food, no gas for twenty-eight miles!” You’d be packin’ ’em in here in droves. Oh—oh, yeah … and add “ample Deisel parking” at the bottom of your sign. Win those truckers’ loyalty—oh yeah!
Won’t we have to change the name in front to Eat-’n-Leave-Happy, Inc.?
No, you could leave the Inc. off the sign in front. That would just be for the IRS. I tell ya’ Jackson … you listen to my ideas, and we’ll have you rollin’ in dough.
The guy’s like a bull in a … a sar—
(a stricken look on his face when he realizes his sentence is going nowhere.)
… in a sar … um … sarcasm closet.
Don’t you wish you’d kept that to yourself?
(Laughing behind her palm)
Oh, my! Let me catch my breath. Thankfully, I’m the only one who heard you.
He may not recognize sarcasm, but his ideas are sound, though.
They’re appropriate, but only if delivered to the right person at the right time. Listen …
Martha and I will consider it, Mr … um—
Consider it! Consider it!
(Standing, striding to the counter)
The name’s Piebald, Robert Piebald. Here’s my card.
(Extends his arm across the counter)
You call me just as soon as this storm blows over.
(Taking the card, slipping it in his shirt pocket.)
We’ll see, Mr. Piebald. If you would've come to me ten years ago, I’d have been more receptive.
(Looking up, blinking)
Not ten years ago. No, that was a rough road for me and Martha at that time.
But that's then—this is now!
Typical salesman ... He's not interested in what Jackson's saying!
But I am .... Keep writing.
This is now. Don’t want to get ahead, Jackson? That’s just plain—
(Shakes his head)
I’d have taken you to be a brighter man than that, Jackson.
[From the rear (upstage) table, CORNELIUS begins to stir about uneasily in his chair. JENNIE stares over at him. When he does speak, CILILLA’S head whips around]
(His voice strained, his words coming out with great difficulty and ending, characteristically, in a question)
J-J-Jackson n-needs to—needs to t-talk now? You s-s-should be quiet …?
[CILILLA leaps to her feet with his first words and races to stand beside him]
(Making his way back from the counter to stand by his table, his eyes all the while on CORNELIUS)
I should be quiet? Who the hell are you?
Cor-neeeel-yus. Th-that’s my name?
(Holding her arms open to CORNELIUS, then pulling back and hugging herself)
I’m so proud of you, Sweetie pie, I could bust! You’ve come so far—you’re looking right in his eyes, aren’t you?
Big deal, Cor-neeeel-yus. What’re you starin’ at?
I d-don’t know … wh-what I’m s-staring at?
You made a joke, Sweetie! You actually—I’m so proud of you! But—but—but be careful.
What’s that supposed to mean? Huh, Cor-neeeel-yus?
You—young lady … you best look after your friend there.
(In a controlled, even voice, but one not used to the limelight)
Cornelius is not just my best friend, Mr. Piebald … he’s my husband. He doesn’t talk much. We usually keep to ourselves. But if he does say something, Sir, it’s because he thinks it’s important. And that makes it important to me.
You know, you talk about my friend, Mr. Piebald .... It strikes me that we all need friends. And as I look around me …
(She does just that)
… if my eyes are telling me what I think they are … no one needs friends more this New Year’s Eve than you do.
[All heads are turned and all eyes have been riveted to JENNIE’S as she finishes speaking in her even voice, and afterward, there are generally subdued, but affirmative, chuckles and muttered “yeses” from the customers, including those at the counter, who’d turned to watch]
(Stricken dumbfounded from JENNIE’S first words, now she’s dancing about)
Whoa, Nellie! Girl, you brought the bully to his knees!
What-say you let me worry about my friends, missy. But you best keep a tighter leash on your friend there.
(He slowly sits, scowling, but his eyes are stealing glances at other guests.)
This is not what I had in mind for mingling, folks.
Mr. Piebald, you appear to have an interesting life. Whyn’t you tell us about you and Mrs. Piebald and little …?
(Filling in the awkward breach)
My name’s Wally.
Why thank you … Wally, then.
Well, then … So, Mr. Piebald … why not tell us about your family? And what you do?
[Sounds of displeasure from a few quarters of the room, followed by BETT’S authoritative clearing of her throat as all eyes turn to her]
I think I can speak for most when I say that your unfinished story leaves us with our appetites unquenched, Jackson. And Mr. Piebald—being the excellent salesman that you appear to be—you might even gain a valuable perspective of your own life by quietly listening to Jackson’s story.
I would like to hear it.
All I wanna know is where the little boy’s room is.
(Smiling and pointing to the exit, Upstage Right)
I don’t know how much it’s going to quench anyone’s appetites, your Honor …
(Pausing while he watches PIEBALD cross the room and exit)
… but I will tell you folks about Martha’s and my years here … as long as when I finish, you will share something of your life, your Honor, which I’m thinking will be far more interesting than any of ours.
(Glancing at JAY III in a way that appears to convey something of shared knowledge)
I’ve led a rather uneventful and introverted life, Jackson. Aside from my eight hours at the high bench, daily. By nature, I am a private person.
I can understand that.
No. I'm afraid you don’t. My name is Betty. You may call me Bett.
Finish your story, Jackson, then … who knows. We’ll see.
(Spinning about by CORNELIUS and JENNIE’S table like a Whirling Dervish)
We’ll see! We will see! A new door’s gonna be opened soon …
Take good notes, scribe. My assignment is about to be revealed to me.
END OF SCENE FOUR
CHARACTERS (Extensive, but most you only have to refer to once)Pays one point and 2 member cents.
Cililla Queez: An ageless teen. A bit of a Peter Pan, but on assignment, she is dogged in its execution. Sometimes, though, she has to ferret out what her assignment is.
Eavesdropper: Age unimportant. Name, Gregory, called into service by Cililla Queez with whom he is a bit smitten. He is chosen to be the objective recorder of everything that transpires, but he can't help chiming in occasionally with his personal aside. Like any good writer, he is invisible to the other characters, save Cililla.
Cornelius Plumb: The autistic genius, now married to Jennie.
Jennie Plumb: Married to Cornelius to whom she is thoroughly devoted and lovingly protective of his delicate emotional balance.
Hon. Betty (aka Bett) Stabler, Retired: Age 85. Small town Judge for 40 years. She and the love of her life, Jay, had climbed a mountain in 1903, and at the precipice of that mountain that she made a decision, a decision that would alter lives for generations.
Jay III: Age 38. Grandson, and namesake, of the original Jay who asked the question whose reverberations were still being felt today. Jay III delivered the dying request of his Grandfather and accompanied Bett, then age 72, back to the precipice. Now, 13 years later, he is with her again.
Harry Lowery: Mid-twenties. To his core, he is driven his entire life by the need to find his father. His search had taken him to the farthest reaches of the world. Only recently has he been notified of his father's death.
Rudy: A scraggly, foul-breathed terrier mix. He loves everyone. The more he loves, the more others are repulsed by him.
Wallace Piebald: A ten-year-old boy who does boy things.
Robert Piebald(Known hereafter as Piebald): Wallace's Father, who's just fine in this world as long as everything goes his way.
Henrietta Piebald: Wallace's Mother, here only to help everything go Robert Piebald's way.
Jackson: Owner of the Eat and Leave Happy diner. Has a story to tell, and a heart to mend.
Martha: Jackson's wife.
© Copyright 2022. Jay Squires All rights reserved.
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