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ACT I (cont...)

JOHN: When's your flight out?

[SHELLY is still dancing with the salesmen, drinking and popping pills. The salesmen are also slowly dressing her in a big white suit like theirs.]

SHELLY: Flight? Oh, I don't know. Beautiful funeral hmm? Smitty was a good man. I guess. Seems we're all dropping like flies these days.

JOHN: Yea, say Shelly, when I saw you at the funeral I thought I'd like make an appointment with you. I have this business opportunity you might be interested in.

SHELLY: Thinking business at another man's funeral. I see the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.

JOHN: What?

SHELLY: What are you gonna do at my funeral John? Set up a trade booth?

[SALESMEN laugh.]

JOHN: I'm sorry. Look. Let me start again…

SHELLY: I hear you're lookin' to get out of sales.

JOHN: Well. That's what my appointment was about…

SHELLY: A long time ago at a trade show when me and your father were repping the same line he told me something I never forgot.

JOHN: I think I caught you at the wrong time.

SHELLY: He said old men and young women. Only old men and young women truly succeed in sales. But I think he was wrong…

JOHN: Of course he was wrong…

SHELLY: I think that goes for anything.

JOHN: Listen Shelly…

SHELLY: You know if I hadn't been working I would be with my family right now. Bottom of the Everglades.

JOHN: Hey. Shelly I'm with you, huh? I was supposed to be on my father's plane too--

SHELLY: I'm just tired John. So tired. You come by and see me tomorrow. 10 am. [She's fading.] I'll look at your little opportunity then.

JOHN: Look Shelly, actually I just wanted to talk to you. Just. Talk. Are you okay Shelly?

SHELLY: I'm so tired.

DAD, DICK and SMITTY: Tired.

SHELLY: Johnny?

JOHN: Yea, I'm still here.

SHELLY: Good-bye.

[She hangs up. A moment. JOHN hangs up and dials again.]

JOHN: Yes I'd like you to check on room 413…

[He disappears. SHELLY is now fully dressed in a white suit holding a martini and a cigar. She is almost unconscious.]

SHELLY: It's too big.


DAD: Too big? Whadya mean it's too big?

[DAD checks out the suit By God it is too big.]

DICK: Dag Gummit. This isn't right.

[BLACKOUT. Sirens rise to hospital room noises. Lights up on BERT, a young saleswoman- she is pacing. JOHN enters running by her with his eye twitching. He runs by her again and speaks to audience as if speaking to a nurse.]

JOHN: Yes! I'm looking for-- she came in here-- a patient-- Shelly Underwood. She was very ill… No my eye is fine. It's fine. Look, I'm not the patient, I'm looking FOR a patient…

BERT: [Approaching JOHN.] Excuse me.

JOHN: [He holds his eye and turns to her.] Yes?

BERT: You're looking for Shelly Underwood.

JOHN: Yes.

BERT: I'm her friend. Well she's my boss too. Dupree Distributing Sales Manager: Beatrice French. Everyone calls me Bert.

JOHN: [They shake hands.] Bert. I like that…Sorry, I'm John. John—John-John. How's Shelly?

BERT: It's an accident I'm sure- we can't see her-- she's not even conscious… something wrong?

JOHN: Well you see—everything I touch has had a tendency to die lately, but not this time!

BERT: No, I meant your eye.

JOHN: Oh. This, it's… [Taking his hand away, his eye has quit twitching.] It's fine. Nothing. Everything is absolutely fine, [A beat.] Bert. I hope she wasn't trying to…[Bert crosses away.] What did they say?

BERT: They said to wait- but I need to move, to act. I need action, but I'm not quite sure…

JOHN: Hey. I've been in this situation and you don't want to be alone.

BERT: Is waiting considered an action?

JOHN: Um… In some religions…

BERT: Eating is an action. I'm hungry. Do you like seafood?

[BERT exits. JOHN decides to follow her. Light up on DAD with salesmen's guide, talking to audience.]

DAD: Survival Guide for Salespeople Chapter 4: Relationships. Let's call the kettle black shall we? When you're on the road you're going to be very far from your home for a very long period of time AND you're going to meet people of the opposite sex- there's no way around it. [Shuts book.] That's all I have to say about that… Just letting you know.

BABE: [Peeking from behind curtain.] Alright, it's gonna happen you're gonna meet somebody and whatever—but it's just a fling! And that's the key. Oh sure I've ran into a few- but it's just a fling! A flingy, flingy, flingy thing! It's not a relationship. [JOHN and BERT enter hotel room extremely tipsy and laughing hard.] If you start a relationship on the road? Failure is your destiny.

[Light out on BABE.]

JOHN: When they're going between those two trucks…

BERT: And then Steve Martin he's hallucinating…

JOHN: And, and John Candy, he becomes Satan…

BERT: And then they turn into skeletons…

JOHN: God I love that movie.

BERT: Yea. Me too. [A pause.] It's so real.

[JOHN squirts out a laugh. They laugh together.]

JOHN: I always forget what city I'm in-- Where are we?

BERT: I don't know. [She goes to the end table and picks up a brochure.] Welcome to scenic Boulder. Boulder. We're in…

[JOHN crosses to her and kisses her. BERT breaks away.]

BERT: Should we crack open the hotel fridge?

JOHN: Yes! Drinks!

[JOHN quickly goes to fridge.]

BERT: I enjoyed our oysters. I love mollusks. I love eating things that require a lot of work.

JOHN: Action right?

BERT: So it starts backing up and going over the grapevine- An accident- Just happened- Car overturned-Smoke-- And then this dead woman. Well she looked dead. On the pavement, bloody. There's people already helping. Plenty of people. Well, this woman in the car ahead of me she's slowing to a crawl and she's got her face in her hands like this, and she's crying—but looking, then crying-- looking, crying. Well I had had enough. There's no sense in prolonging this. So I honked. [She flips JOHN off.] The finger. She gave me the finger! Oh, sorry to interrupt your rubbernecking!

JOHN: So what did you do?

BERT: If every action requires an equal and opposite reaction then half the people in the world are acting and the other half are reacting to those people. What if instead everyone for one day did something with purpose they felt they must do. No reactions. No pondering consequences. Everyone tackling their desires-- You can stop and help and back up traffic, or you can slow down and look and back up traffic. But either way, it's a reaction and I'll have none of it. I kept my head up and drove on by-- you got to keep your eyes on the skies ya know? [A beat as they hold each other's gaze.] Limpkin's. You sold Limpkin's Water Seal.

JOHN: Still got some in my trunk. Why is that so funny?

BERT: That stuff couldn't protect a deck from … from a…

JOHN: A mosquito terd?

BERT: Yea. Mosquito terd. [They kiss. Heavy duty. They fall on the bed. BERT suddenly breaks away from JOHN.] I'm not stable. I need counseling. I though you should know.

JOHN: Why?

BERT: You don't know anything about me.

JOHN: Sure I do.

BERT: What?

JOHN: I know you like Steve Martin movies… And that you need counseling.

BERT: That "need" meant that I am currently attending. Not that I am crazy.

JOHN: But you said you weren't stable.

BERT: I'm not. [A beat.] I just got divorced.

JOHN: Who isn't?

BERT: Are you?

JOHN: What?

BERT: Divorced.

JOHN: Yes. No. Sort of… What was the question?

BERT: John.

JOHN: Please, call me John.

BERT: John. Sex…

JOHN: Okay.

BERT: I'm not finished.


BERT: Sex. For me. Is great. But sales. For me. Is sometimes better. I've had bad sex, but I've never closed a bad sale.

JOHN: Good point.

BERT: Sales is just…

JOHN: More important.

BERT: Yes. That's something my ex-husband could never understand. My counselor told me I should put that right up front whenever I find someone…

JOHN: You find attractive.

BERT: I told you I'm not stable. [They make out again.] They say you're selling your sample frames and getting out of sales. Why?

JOHN: Who told you?

BERT: They. [A beat.] Shelly. What are you gonna do?

JOHN: Buy a house.

BERT: Yea?

JOHN: Yea.

BERT: Then what're you gonna do?

JOHN: Breathe.

[They kiss and fall on the bed. Light change. JOHN and BERT get off the bed and begin to undress. They talk to the audience.]

JOHN: Survival Guide for Salespersons Chapter Five.

BERT: Let's face it.

JOHN: A Hotel or Motel can be a creepy place…

BERT: Like who else has slept in this same bed?

JOHN: Did a murderer have a nightmare about his crime?

BERT: And why is it every time I return the room is mysteriously clean…

JOHN: It's best just not to think about it, since you're away from your usual bed at home.

BERT: It's going to be hard enough to get to sleep, and whatever you do –

JOHN: -- never watch,

BERT: -- a scary movie.

JOHN: Even if you never get scared. Good examples:

BERT: "The Exorcist",

JOHN: "Dawn of the Dead",

BERT: "I Spit on Your Grave",

JOHN: Or any disturbing flick: "Misery",

BERT: "Silence of the Lambs",

JOHN: "The Shining",

BERT: -- Oooh,

BERT and JOHN: "The Shining".

JOHN: Even "Star Trek II:

BERT: The Wrath of Khan!"

JOHN: -- is not recommended.

BERT: You're not in your usual surroundings. Your brain is not fully asleep.

JOHN: Ricardo Montalban could be running around in your head all night.

[BLACKOUT. We hear Ricardo Montalban proclaim "Welcome to Fantasy Island!"

Low light. JOHN and BERT are sleeping. SHELLY enters wearing a "Pooters" waitress getup and a bathrobe. She creeps across the stage with her black hair over her eyes and carrying a knife like Wendy Torrance. She crosses to BERT.]

SHELLY: [Whispering in BERT's ear.] For God's sake! Get out of sales! Sell his frames! Buy the house! Live with him forever! Forever!

DAD: [Offstage.] Weeeeeeeeeeeeennndy!


DAD: [Still offstage.] Little Pigs! Little Pigs! Let me in!

SHELLY: The clock is ticking! Don't wait! Have children! Have a home! Work later!

DAD: [Entering dressed as an evil Popo the Clown, limping and carrying an ax.] Here's Popo! [SHELLY screams a horror movie scream.] Get away from her you bitch! Here's Popo! Now you listen to Popo you wench. Your Little Miss Trollop Town ain't gonna sell no frames understand? If she helps him I'll take her, I'll take her just like I did all the rest! [He jumps on the bed and grabs BERT, still sleeping.] You said it yourself you little tramp. You love sales. You love me! It's just a one night stand, capice? Get dressed and go away! [To SHELLY:] You did this.

SHELLY: No…no!…

DAD: I'm not gonna hurtcha…

SHELLY: You can't stop them.

DAD: I'm just gonna bash your brains in!

SHELLY: Beatrice! Johnny! Don't listen to him!

DAD: Shut the hell up!

[BABE enters with a talking finger and driving a Big Wheel.]

BABE: Redrum! Redrum!

DAD and SHELLY: Daaaaannnnnny!

BABE: Generation Alert! Generation Alert! Progress! Progress! Get a grip! New World Order! Twenty-First Century! Fall back! Regroup! Redrum! Redrum!

SHELLY: Danny! Snap out of it!

DAD: Don't make me cut you!

BABE: Look! [BABE stops and points to the sky.] Statute of Limitations! Statute of Limitations! Incoming!

[BABE, DAD, and SHELLY scream and exit running. Lights change. JOHN and BERT wake up with a scream, sitting up in bed. They look at each other. A pause. Then they tackle each other and make out again.]

BERT: I wanna--

JOHN: Again? I thought sales were better.

BERT: I want to buy your frames.

JOHN: I want to sell them to you.

BERT: And with the money we make…

JOHN: We'll but the house together…

BERT: And live happily ever after.

JOHN: I love you.

BERT: I love you.

[They roll over. She straddles him. She pulls away.]

JOHN and BERT: In a perfect world!

[Hitchcock "shower scene" violin music. BERT pulls out an ice pick and screams. JOHN pulls out a spatula and screams. CAST screams. BLACKOUT. Blue light from a TV rises reflecting on BERT and JOHN awake in bed. BERT is staring at him.]

BERT: I was thinking… what if I bought your frames?

JOHN: [After a beat.] I don't know.

BERT: You don't know?

JOHN: There's a Statute of Limitations on samples. Three years. They could come after me after I sell them.

BERT: No problem. I'll just sell them for double the money.

JOHN: Can you do that?

BERT: Twenty thousand? Sure. We'll keep ten thousand in the bank. If they don't come after you… three years, its' ours.

JOHN: Ours.

BERT: With interest. [She kisses him.]

[BABE and DAD enter with cigarettes. They offer JOHN a smoke and light it. BERT watches them, then she decides to get dressed.]

JOHN: What're you doing?

BERT: I gave you my pitch. You're obviously not buying. You want to let those frames rot in the back of your car with a bunch of deck sealant I guess that's your business.

JOHN: Bert…

BERT: Hey. It's your house. It's your dream. It's your action. I just thought maybe you'd want to share it…

JOHN: Don't…

BERT: John. I can clean out your car trunk. But I can't clean out your head. I'm sorry.

[BERT exits. JOHN crosses back to DAD and BABE. They sit in a tableau family portrait and smile. A beat. BABE smacks him upside the head.]

JOHN: Uhm… Salesman Survival Guide Chapter Five… [His eye twitches. DAD throws up his hands in disgust and crosses away. BABE shakes her head in disappointment, pulling out his wallet.] What! What do you want? [Seeing his wallet.] What are you doing with that?

BABE: Absolutely nothing baby. You're broke. [She tosses it to him.]

[JOHN puts his head in his hands. Fade to black.]


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Copyright © 2004 by Nick Zagone

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