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6 actors (2 male, 2 female, 2 either)
Before the curtain rises country music plays. It lasts for about a minute and then the curtain rises. The music fades as the curtain finally rises. Stage left, under the lights, there is a red diner table with a checkered wall behind it and on the wall is a deer head. On the table is a single menu standing upright. The top reads: Ann’s Country Kitchen. A man sits at the table with a cigarette. Bernadette, a girl of seventeen, is taking his order.
Randy: Well, (shuffles in seat a bit and lets out a giant sigh) I’d like a pepsi to start off. Also some water. If you could put that in a glass and add ice for me, that’d be fine. (smirks)
Bernadette: I sure can do that. Now, what would ya like to eat?
Randy: Well, I’ll have the Indian Taco. Extra Indian.
Bernadette: Alrighty. I’ll tell Annie. Anythin’ else?
Randy: (mocking) Yer gonna tell on me? Awh, don’t go rattin me out Bernadette! I was just foolin’ bout mah taco.
Bernadette: (smiling) I know Randy, I wont rat ‘cha out. Yer a regular. I’ll go give Annie your order.
Randy: Thanks girl.
Bernadette leaves for the kitchen and lights go out on the diner the kitchen. Lights now fall on the kitchen. There is a large, long counter in the middle of the room. Behind it is a wall with lots of cabinets and an ancient refrigerator. Annie is busy fussing with pots and pans, stirring something on the stove. ENTER Bernadette.
Bernadette: Annie! Randy came in and ordered an Indian Taco. Extra Indian.
Annie: ‘Shuck, that mans got sum nerve.
Bernadette: Yes, ma’am.
Annie: Well, I’ll be out in a sec ta speak to him. That man got ‘nough to do than cause trouble round here. Makes me wonder ‘bout his wife’s cookin. Lets out loud laugh. Still, he’s some business. Aint gonna complain bout that.
Bernadette: Randy’s just foolin’ I’m pretty sure…
Annie: Oh Ah know doll, he always been. Im just goin’ a say hey. (advertently) By the way, James is out back.
Bernadette: (breathless) Is he really? Annie… Annie, can I have a minute?
Annie: As long as Randy ‘s the only one out in the diner…sure.
Bernadette leaves the kitchen from the right door opposite the diner door. Having left the diner, she stands next to a garbage can. She shivers, as it is very cold outside. She tries to make out someone in the distance, looking off stage right. James shuffles in onto stage right, also cold. He approaches Bernadette and wraps his arms around her in a bear hug.
James: Hey there. I was just coming to give you yer keys.
James backs up, smiling, while Bernadette frowns.
Bernadette: Really? Ya know how long you’ve had mah keys?
James: I know darling, its been a while, but…
Bernadette: No buts, you’ve been holdin on to them for a week now. Ive had to use my spare car key, and house key, and yer lucky Annie has been here to open up, and Im not workin mornin’ or I’d be real upset.
James: But that’s just it. I’m the one who’se been workin mornins.
Bernadette: Yeah, yeah I know. Ugh, James, yer too dependent fer a guy.
James: You’re my angel girl, takin’ care of me.
James moves closer, but Bernadette backs away, uneasy. She starts twisting her fingers around.
James: What’s up?
Bernadette: I’ve been meanin to tell you, I…(she sighs and reluctantly looks up at James) I think we need a break. You see, I think you’ve been relying on me a little too much. And it…makes me nervous?
James: Hold up, a break?
Bernadette: Yeah, uhhh.. I need to sort myself out… and you kinda need ta do the same. I think a break would be good. Besides, what if I go off to college. We probably jus’ be breakin then anyways.
James: Wha…..Well we’d figure out that when we’d get there! I.. I don’t believe you mean that. I love you girl! Don’t you know? We don’t need a break.
James puts his hands on her shoulders but Bernadette breaks away. She struggles with herself before shouting:
Bernadette: LISTEN! Im only gonna say this one more time! There is just too much going on at my house. I got studying. I ACTUALLY have a chance of getting accepted to college, and Im a little stressed. I just need a little break from something….anything…and for now that’s just got to be us. See?
James turns around and pouts. Bernadette cautiously walks around to his other side and lifts up his chin.
James: Yeah, I see. You’re getting better than me.
Bernadette: No, that’s not what I mean, its—
James: No, don’t you lie, you’ve been gettin’ better than the rest of us. Since you got it in yer head you can get out of here and get to college. You haven’t hung out with Tain, Allissa, and me, fer months. Studying…well…screw what good that’s gonna do ya.
Bernadette: Don’t you dare!
James: Oh I will dare honey! You listen! I am what is right now. I am what is here, waitn’ to care from you, and to make sure you turn out all right. I love you. So listen. You remember when we met…that night I first showed up for work—
Bernadette angrily steps over to the back door and turns around.
Bernadette: Oh I remember. I remember how you were high enough to barely stand up straight let ‘lone wash a dish. I remember…and I remember how you’ve gotten high like that at least twice since then. Why do you hang out with Tain? He’s changed, we’ve all seen. He’ll take ya no place good. And you think you can take care of me. I will tell ya agin. I need a break.
James looks down and thinks a moment, breathing in quickly before saying:
James: If I asked you to marry me tomorrow….
Bernadette: (Affronted) Are you crazy? What… would I possibly say? Not yes. Never yes.
Both looks shocked at her words, then look away from each other, angry and awkard.
James: Bye, Birdy.
James: Nah…nah fergit me.
Bernadette: Wait…. wait James I’m ain’t finished...wait…hear me out!
James exits stage right.
Bernadette:…I didn’t mean it…
Bernadette shivers, stamps her feet, nearly cries, and then rushes inside.
Annie: What’d he say?
Bernadette: Nothin, he just gave me back my keys.
Annie: Here’s the order, if you could just take that out to Randy. Lucky I was distractin’ Randy, er he mighta complained he was gettin’ hungry.
Bernadette: Sure, sorry Annie.
Annie: (Handing Bernadette the food) You sure you’re ok? Maybe it was just the cold, but yer eyes er lookin a little red.
Bernadette: Yeah, it was cold… I’ll be fine Annie.
(Bernadette turns and exits into the diner, and the lights go out)
Far upper left stage left, James sits in a chair, a chair sits his, and he turns a steering wheel. He is driving down a backcountry road. His car makes lots of noise, played by a cassette off-stage. James bumps along in his seat, grumbling to himself.
James: Never did need that girl. What kinda chick just dumps like that… Yeah, a cheatin girl. Somthin’s up, somethin’ goin on. Studying… (loudly) studying how to work the two o’clock shift at Black Stirrup Night Club! Idiot! Coulda been goin’ on fer months! Who is it?? What kinda other guy would she be after?
He bangs his hand on the steering wheel angrily.
James: Could be any kinda guy! Some kid with money. Outta town kid. Kid from Cache. He could be that guy. Drivin round in that car, couldn’t take a scratch in it. Wont drive it down no dirt road. But I aint seen Bernadette hang with him. Alright. So I aint really seen her with anyone but me and Allissa. Well… come ta think, she wasn’t happy wit Tain. Runnin’ way each time he come round. Maybe something happened. I could call. NO! I wont! She just dumped me! She aint even gonna answer. No point…
James drives down the road, his car making a lot of unnessesary noise. He goes maybe a minute or too, and then picks up his phone.
James: Well, I better just call…just to make--
He dials on the phone, and looks down a moment. Suddenly he looks up and panics, spinning the wheel frantically, tires screeching. The lights go off, and a large crash is heard. End of Scene.
Somber music is played. The lights, now red, shine on Annie telling Bernadette words the audience cant hear while Bernadette stops scrubbing tables in the diner room. Annie then takes her into the kitchen. There are two police officers and they make Bernadette sit down in the far right chair. All this is done with the music still played. The officers tell Bernadette what the audience can only expect: that James is dead. Bernadette collapses, bawling. Annie goes to hold her. The lights turn off.
Lights, white again, shine on Bernadette, head and arm resting on the counter next to the chair, Annie standing next to her.
Annie: (as gently as possible) Now, I’m only getting’ some stuff outta mah truck. Some soft blankets cause I think we’ll have to bunker down here tonight. Its startin’ to snow. Hard. I’ll be right back sugar, and then we can talk a little.
Annie leaves out the back door and stage right. Bernadette sighs and sits up, her face stony in expression. As she stares out into the audience, the lights fade blue slowly. She doesn’t seem to notice. Eerie music is played. James, his face badly bruised and his shirt a bit bloody, steps in from the door of the diner into the kitchen. Green rolling mist follows him in until he slams the door behind him.
James: I’ve got some things I wont to know. Until they’ve been said I aint leavin you alone. I…don’t think I can leave.
James goes over to put his hand on her shoulder, and jumps back, like he was electrocuted, a noise like the crack of lightning sounding when he touches her shoulder. As he does this Bernadette doesn’t move. James sits down in the chair on the opposite side of the counter from Bernadette. Suddenly the lights go back to normal.
Bernadette: (Bernadette bangs head against counter, then breathes in and out heavily. She quickly snaps her head up, and stops crying, voice firm) There was stuff I never finished telling you James. James, I’ll come out wit’ it straight, whether yer listen er not. Tain…. Tain tried to get me. I just hoped that if I’d gone away he might leave too and I woulda come back. There, (sob) how hard was that?
(Bernadette puts her hands on her face)
Bernadette: I jist couldn’t tell you. There wasn’t much you would have had to say, but if you really… cared….naw, you cared (sniff, sniff) you cared. Tain was hanging around yer place the other day, and when I came over he was gonna pull me into the barn. I got away, but James….Oh! James! WHY? WHY did you hang out with that boy? All he could ever cause us is misery. You said yerself, there aint never been nothing more important than bein round people you can trust. Did you really trust him? (She breaks into uncontrollable sobbing)
James: (He drops his head to his chest.) Well, Im gonna kill him. If that’s still possible. If only you had just told me. Ive paid for it, for us. Doesn’t mean I aint still crazy in love with you. (He looks at Bernadette teary eyed.) Did you ever really know?
Bernadette: You had so much goin’ on, being on that h*ll of a lot you called home, and I didn’t think to ask you how you and yer mom were doin’. How many times you must have gone out at night thinking your only option was …a drink… more than a drink…I don’t know. You weren’t drunk tonight, I don’t think. (Sigh, sniff) I cant help wonder if you were tryin to kill yourself. (in a stage whisper, physically shrinking) If it was mah words that really did’dga in?
James: Naw, (faint smile) Blame the truck darlin’. She took the turn. I just picked up the phone…
Bernadette: Annie and mah mom were telling me how hopeful they were for me, and I was hopeful for me, to-to get ta college. But, maybe…I don’t deserve those hopes. Everyone really thinks Im so stupid… and I was for not thinkin it’s true. I aint getting there James. Now I’m not so ‘blivious no more. ‘Cause I know where I’ll be. I’ll just be here…waitin tables… forever. Unless, you wouldn’t mind some company. If you loved me so much… maybe you wouldn’t…. (hysterical) nobody cares whether I live or die anyways.
James: No. You stop right there!! Gosh DANG!! OH! Why CANT YOU HEAR ME?? YOU NEVER NEEDED TO HEAR ME OUT MORE THAN NOW! Im failing you….
Bernadette: James. Haha. I’m already not going home tonight. Im not going home in the morning either.
(There is a little knife in Bernadette’s pocket, a switch knife, and she takes it out and starts playing with it, twirling it with her fingers nervously)
Bernadette: Oh, how I loved you. There wasn’t anyone I would rather be with on Saturday night. Even if all our Saturdays were spent workin’. I remember the first time I met you when you showed up for work. You were so high, haha you didn’t even know I was next to ya to keep you from dropping that knife on yer foot you were tryin to wash…that pretty silver little knife I have in my hands… wonder why it was getting washed with the other dishes.
James: Well, I was high. But you better not be getting any ideas! Bernadette please! I love you! You aint doing this!
Bernadette: (throughout this Bernadette starts to twitch. She freaks out and cant control picking up the pace of the spinning blade in her fingers) Well, haha you was high! Oh, just think. Ya couldn’t of known. Known we’d be here. Or just me…here. Couldn’t have k-known. I was gonna l-love you. Promise I’d be yours forever. Promise eternity. Just to break up with you a few years later, ‘n cause you to drive down the road in yer ford, all upset and c-c-crash…
Bernadette opens the knife.
Bernadette: (stage whisper) God take me to James.
The lights pulse and glow red. Bernadette brings up the knife to her temple slowly, crying and shuddering. She draws her hand back. James meanwhile shouts and looks around him. He sees that the only thing not put away is a pie. He lunges for the pie, stops and hesitates, then lunges for it again. He picks it up, cries out with joy, and quickly smashes the pie into Bernadette’s face with a sort of battle cry. Her scream is muffled. The lightly stop pulsing red and turn back to normal. She wipes it out of her eyes, bolts up from the chair, and looks around franticly. Finding no-one she starts to cry, and sits down in her chair. She licks the pie off her face and cries harder. James just stares, not moving, breathing hard. Bernadette has dropped the knife and he picks it up while she is turned away, and tucks it in his pocket.
James: (firmly) I don’t want you wit’ me no more. Don’t give up! You got life; so go to college, get the heck outta this town! You got this great life!!! Don’t you go waste it pinin’ over this boy who never did deserve you. (laughingly to himself) This has got to be the darn best thing I ever did done. And… well, ha! Im dead.
Annie comes in holding blankets and wipes her boots on the carpet, not looking up. She then looks up and then sees Bernadette. James shuffles into the corner, observing.
Annie: Bernadette! What happened to ya! Is that my butter-nutty cream boat pie? Oh sweetie, Ah never shouldah left you lone here, how stupid. Here. (Annie crosses over and finds a napkin behind the servers booth.) Now clean yer self up.
Bernadette is shaky, and takes the napkin from Annie starting to wipe her face.
Annie: Now, sweetie, and you just tell me…why is there pie on yer face? I never thought you liked it that much to make you feel better…
Bernadette: I don’t! Annie….I-I’m crazy. I… (breaks down crying)
Annie awkwardly and slowly puts an arm around her, and holds her, rocking her back and forth, like a small child. After a few moments Bernadette calms down. She looks at Annie and starts to speak before Annie gets a chance.
Bernadette: I, gulp, was sittin here, and.. and this pie came out of nowhere!! I swear!!! I had.. no idea. You know I wouldn’t just put my face in that pie. I never did like it THAT much. I..I cant understand. I was alone here. All by myself.. and this.. this pie….
Annie: You were just sitting here? Not doin’ nothing? You sure.
Annie: What, what else you aint telling me? Come on sugar (a little exasperated) there’s more to this, Ah’m pretty sure.
Bernadette: I’m ashamed now Annie. So ashamed. I sat here, and… (not meeting Annie’s eyes) I was talkin to myself. No. (She looks away into a corner, and then down) I… was really talking to James. I don’t really know why. Maybe I was just giving out an apology. You know it’s all my fault…..
Annie: (taking Annie’s hands and looking her firmly in the face) No. Darlin’ it is NOT all your fault. You and I know with that truck always screechin and bangin it was dangerous. It was an old truck. Blame the truck if anything hon. Or fate. But it is NOT your fault. Now, keep goin’.
Bernadette: I-Im not pround of it Annie. I was trying to kill myself. And I was telling him about it.
Annie grips Bernadette’s arm and stares her straight in the face.
Annie: You better not ever think about that again Bernadette! You got too many people on this earth who loves yah--
Bernadette: I…I was about to take.. the knife…a-and drive it in mah head, but then outta no-where.. THAT PIE!!!! I swear.. that was the only thing that prevented me. I’d be dead without that pie…
Annie: I knew they were meant fer more than putting a little extra fluff on my customers. Thank the lord. You got an angel watching ya Bernadette.
In the background James snorts.
Annie: I’ll never forgive myself for leaving you like this, even fer a few minutes.
Annie starts crying, and Bernadette does too. After a few moments Annie gets up.
Annie: This must be the hardest day of yer life. I cant image… and at only seventeen. Well, come on sugar. I want you to get some sleep. Try taking one of the booths. Tomorrow if we can make it home in this snow, Ima have a little talk with you and yer folks. But for now, just rest doll. You need it so bad.
Annie stands up. Bernadette still sits.
Bernadette: I’m gonna miss him so much Annie. I don’t know if I can come back and work for you with him gone. It wouldn’t be the same.
Annie: (sigh) Well, figure that out tomorrow. As I said, you need sum rest!
Bernadette and Annie stagger through the door into the next room. The lights turn off. When the lights turn on again, James is sitting in the kitchen on the chair Bernadette previously sat on.
James: If I wasn’t already dead that scene right there woulda killed me. Oh Annie, I lived up to the moment, I hope.
James gets up, and crosses to the door leading into the diner. He stops before entering however, and lets his hand fall before it touches the door.
Annie, babe, I’ve got to go. But I love you… (He looks through the window of the door to the diner and blows a kiss. James takes the knife out of his pocket, and starts to twirl it through his fingers. He frowns, and looks to the door that leads outback.) Now, I think this knife belongs to a friend of mine… better return it…and settle everything. Not to worry Annie. Don’t you worry bout Tain.
Blackout. End of Scene.
Southwest Harbor, Maine
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