Young Writers Champ
Has Play Produced
2006 entry forms available on-line
MONTVILLE, Conn. November, 2005 - Emily Dykes' award-winning play "Safety" will be produced Nov. 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. by the drama club at Montville High School.
Dykes, a Montville senior, was the 2005 New London County prose champion in the IMPAC-CSU competition, earning $1,000 for "Safety." Her play, set in a family restaurant, explores relationships among co-workers, friends and a mysterious visitor.
In 2004, as a sophomore, Dykes was the statewide prose winner for her short story, "The King." She and her family traveled to Dublin that spring to participate in festivities for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
"What made me realize how important writing was," Dykes told The New London Day, "[was] when speakers in Dublin kept saying, `Tyrants hate writers because they tell the world what's happening.' "
She is the daughter of Donald and Katherine Dykes.
The IMPAC-Connecticut State University Young Writers Trust -- now in its 9th year -- has given more than $118,000 to Connecticut's best young poets and writers since 1998. More than 3,000 young writers have competed in the program.
Entry forms for the 2006 competition have been posted at ctyoungwriters.org, and have also been mailed to all public, private and parochial secondary schools in Connecticut.
Postings of the entry forms will also go up at various library sites throughout Connecticut.
The entry deadline is Feb. 1, 2006 postmark.
Poets and writers in each of Connecticut's eight counties will be awarded $1,000 prizes during regional ceremonies next spring at Central Connecticut State University in
New Britain, Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Eastern Connecticut State University in Danbury and Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic.
The 2006 state prize winners in prose and poetry will have the opportunity to visit University College Dublin. Visits will include a hall where James Joyce delivered a lecture about Ibsen.
New grand prize for IMPAC-CSU Young Writers
Six enlightened business leaders -- long-time sponsors of the IMPAC-CSU Young Writers Trust -- are helping to make the new grand prize a reality.
Declan Kiberd, a professor of Anglo-Irish Literature, will be among the hosts when the 2006 state champions in prose and poetry visit Dublin next June. Top writers from Ireland such as novelist Edna O'Brien will be among those to meet, have lunch with or offer workshops with young writers from Europe, Asia and the U.S.
The week-long stay will include a tour of Dublin and workshops with judges for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the winner of the 2006 IIMPAC Dublin Award - the world's largest prize [100,000 Euros] for a single work of fiction.
In addition to attending the black-tie dinner for the IMPAC Dublin Award, young writers will also be honored at their own event.
The IMPAC-CSU Annual Young Writers dinner will be scheduled in early June at the Litchfield Inn. At that time, the state champions in prose and poetry will be announced. Their grand prizes will be the trips to Dublin with a parent. Accommodations will be provided.
Sponsors for the grand prizes include Tomasso Brothers Inc. of New Britain, Litchfield Bancorp, Meehan, Meehan & Gavin of Bridgeport, Torrington Savings Bank, Halloran & Sage LLP of Hartford and Philip Russell P.C. of Greenwich.
Tomasso Brothers is sponsoring the trip to Dublin for the poetry champion and a parent of the student.
Sponsoring the prose champion and a parent are President & CEO Mark Macomber of Litchfield Bancorp, Atty. Rich Meehan of Meehan, Meehan & Gavin of Bridgeport, Jeffrey A. Lalonde, President & CEO of Torrington Savings Bank, Atty. Ken Slater of Halloran & Sage LLP of Hartford and Atty. Philip Russell of Philip Russell P.C. of Greenwich.
IMPAC, the world's leading productivity firm, endowed the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 10 years ago. IMPAC Chairman Jim Irwin and CSU Chancellor Bill Cibes joined to bring the Young Writers Program statewide in 2000.
The work of state champions in prose and poetry is considered for publication in Connecticut Review. Connecticut Review, the nationally-renowned literary journal, has been published since 1967 by the Connecticut State University System. The CSU System serves more than 35,000 students, making it the largest public university system in Connecticut. A total of 166 academic programs are offered throughout the system, and more than 5,000 degrees are awarded annually.
Subscriptions to the semi-annual journal can be ordered by sending a check to Connecticut Review, Connecticut State University System, 39 Woodland St., Hartford, CT 06105-2337. The annual rate is $24; for 2 years, $40. Connecticut Review is also sold at local bookstores. Order forms are available @ ctyoungwriters.org
Emily Dykes, a Montville High School student and the 2004 prose champion; and Alexandra Regenbogen, a Litchfield High School graduate and the 2004 poetry champion, now at Brown University, are featured in the 2005 spring edition of Connecticut Review.
Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts students Charlotte Crowe, the 2005 prose champion; and Jessica Roth, the 2005 poetry champion, will be featured in the Spring 2006 edition of Connecticut Review.
Act I, Scene i
Angela, twenty-two, is a waitress at a family restaurant. As the scene opens, Lou, fifty-eight, is seated alone at a table, buried in a menu. Angela enters and walks toward him.
ANGELA: Are you ready to order, sir?
LOU: (Looks up. Pauses as though shocked, then smiles warmly.) Ellie!
ANGELA: (Puzzled) What?
ANGELA: (regaining her composure.) I’m sorry, sir. You must have mistaken me for someone else. My name is Angela. I will be your server today.
LOU: (Silent for a moment.) All right… (Pauses again.) I’d like some ginger ale, if that’s all right with you.
ANGELA: Of course. (Exit. LOU stares after her.)
(Enter DAN, twenty four. Catching sight of LOU, he stops and watches, almost laughing. Finally he comes forward.)
DAN: You look like you’ve seen a ghost.
LOU: (Startled) What’s that supposed to mean?
DAN: Nothing. Just an expression.
LOU: Yeah, I’ve heard it.
DAN: (Looking around) Hey, it looks like all the tables here are full. Can I sit with you? I won’t be long.
LOU: No, I’d rather you didn’t.
DAN: Oh... Got someone coming to join you?
LOU: (Looking again after ANGELA) I hope so.
DAN: Fair enough.
(ANGELA enters carrying a glass of ginger ale. She catches sight of DAN and smiles.)
ANGELA: Dan! If I’d known you were coming back so soon, I’d have gotten off earlier! (LOU startles and stares at ANGELA again. ANGELA goes to DAN and kisses him quickly. She turns back to LOU and gives him the glass.) Sorry. Are you ready to order?
LOU: (Taking a sip of ginger ale.) Hey, there’s no ice in it!
ANGELA: Oh, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. It must have slipped my mind.
LOU: No, it’s no problem. I don’t like ice in my soda. It’s just... I don’t bother requesting no ice anymore because they usually put it in anyway. Thanks.
ANGELA: Oh, no problem. Can I take your order?
LOU: I’ll have the steak. Rare.
ANGELA: Very good. I’ll take your menu. (She exits)
LOU: Is that your young lady?
DAN: Well... I’m dating her, if that’s what you mean.
LOU: I see. Well, why don’t you sit down, young man? I doubt my friend will be joining me any time soon.
DAN: Thanks! (He sits across from LOU) You’re new around here.
LOU: Yes. I never stay in one place very long.
DAN: Why’s that? Military?
LOU: No, no. I’m– well, I have been looking for someone.
LOU: Someone I lost a long time ago.
DAN: Oh, that’s too bad. It’s terrible when people go missing. It’s got to be worse than when someone dies, because at least then you know right where they are.
LOU: (Laughing) Don’t be so sure… Daniel, is it?
DAN: Well, it’s Dan, but it’s short for Dante, not Daniel.
LOU: Really? Wonderful poet. You are named for the poet, aren’t you?
DAN: For my father, actually. We’ve had a long line of Dante’s.
LOU: Have you ever read Inferno?
DAN: No. It’s not my thing. I prefer Cummings.
LOU: Oh, that’s too bad. You should look into some of the real poets. Astounding stuff. Not that I’m a scholar or anything. Just an enjoyer.
DAN: The real poets, huh? That’s really more of an opinion than you seem to think it is.
LOU: I’m sorry if I offended you. I have something of a mean streak.
DAN: No problem. I’m really not that defensive about poetry. I don’t think I caught your name.
(ANGELA enters, with the steak on a platter)
LOU: I’m Lou. Lou Haskel.
(ANGELA stops suddenly, almost dropping the platter)
DAN: (Rising) Angela, are you okay?
ANGELA: Yes, I’m fine. Just … Did you say Lou Haskel?
LOU: That’s me. (Leans forward eagerly) Why?
ANGELA: Are you famous or something?
LOU: No. Why?
ANGELA: I’m just sure I’ve heard that name before. (LOU smiles.) Oh well. Here’s your steak. Do you need anything else?
LOU: No, no. (ANGELA starts to leave.) Wait! Are you doing any other tables right now?
ANGELA: No. We’re kind of overstaffed.
LOU: In that case, I invite you to join us, that is, if Dan has no objections?
DAN: Of course not!
ANGELA: I guess it would be okay. Mr. Folke doesn’t mind if I take a break every once in a while. (She sits next to DAN) So Dan, do you know Mr. Haskel?
LOU: Call me Lou. And no, he doesn’t know me.
LOU: Why is he sitting with me? (ANGELA nods) Because I invited him to. (LOU picks up his fork and knife and cuts into the steak. He cuts off a piece and raises it to his mouth, but stops and puts it down without eating.) This is cooked well-done.
ANGELA: That’s how you like it.
LOU: Well, I asked for it rare.
ANGELA: But you like it well-done.
LOU: How can you know I like my steak well-done when I tell you I want it rare?
ANGELA: I don’t know! (Pause.) Do you like it well-done?
LOU: Yes, but as far as you’re concerned, you’re not supposed to know that.
(Long silence. LOU continues eating his steak as DAN and ANGELA stare at him. Finally DAN speaks.)
DAN: Angela, have you paid rent this month?
ANGELA: No, I’m a payment behind. I’ve been working overtime, but even with tips I don’t have enough for rent and insurance and food. (Glancing at LOU, who appears not to be listening.) But that’s okay. I’ve made do before. I’ll be fine.
DAN: I can help you out, if–
ANGELA: Later, Dan. Please?
DAN: But… (Also glances at LOU) Sure.
LOU: (Putting his fork down.) Wonderful steak. Just the way I like it. May I have the check please?
ANGELA: Oh, sure. (Hurries out.)
LOU: She’s a very nice girl.
DAN: (Angrily) All right, what’s going on here? I haven’t seen her so wound up in months.
LOU: (Placidly) I just came here to enjoy a nice steak, and as soon as I get my check, I’m leaving.
DAN: Yeah, you better leave. I don’t know what you’re doing to her, but that whole steak thing was just a little too weird for me.
LOU: I’m not doing anything to her. Believe me, I would never want to hurt her. Whatever is happening is happening in her own mind.
DAN: Just the same, I’m not leaving until you do. I’m sorry, but I just don’t trust you.
LOU: Fair enough. And how very kind it is of you to tell me so, rather than trying to keep your spying a secret.
DAN: It’s my way.
LOU: It’s a good way. I admire a man who talks things out rather than resorting to violence. Say, you don’t have a public swimming pool in town, do you?
DAN: (Warily) Yes, we do. Why?
LOU: Just wondering. I suppose it’s a bit too late in the year for swimming though. Isn’t it?
DAN: It’s November.
LOU: Yes, I know. Up here November’s cold.
DAN: I’m sorry, but I really don’t have the patience for small talk right now.
LOU: All right. Big talk then. Are you comfortable discussing spirituality?
DAN: It depends.
LOU: On what?
DAN: On how much I trust the person I’m talking to.
LOU: Oh, then I suppose you wouldn’t want to bear your soul to me, then.
DAN: Not especially, no.
LOU: That’s too bad.
(ANGELA enters with the bill.)
ANGELA: Here’s your bill, Mr. Haskel.
LOU: Call me Lou. (Examines the bill.) Not bad for such a delicious steak, and ginger ale with no ice. (He pulls out a wallet and slips a credit card into the bill.) There you go.
(ANGELA takes it and exits. LOU pulls three bills out of his wallet and rolls them up tightly, then sticks them in the flower vase on the table.)
LOU: Well Dante, it’s been a pleasure. Perhaps we’ll be able to do this again some time. Do tell her goodbye for me, won’t you?
DAN: Of course. Goodbye, Lou.
LOU: Call me Mr. Haskel. (He exits. ANGELA enters with the receipt and card.)
ANGELA: Where’s Mr. Haskel?
DAN: He left.
ANGELA: But he’s left his credit card! (She exits after LOU) Mr. Haskel! Mr. Haskel! (ANGELA comes back quickly, still holding the card and receipt.)
DAN: Couldn’t you find him? He just left a second ago.
ANGELA: Oh, I saw him, but he was just getting into his car. I called his name, but I guess he didn’t hear me. He drove off like the devil was after him.
DAN: Well, he’ll notice it’s missing and come back for it soon.
ANGELA: (Begins clearing the table) Yeah, you’re probably right. (She finds the tip in the vase.) Look at that. It looks like he left a three dollar tip. What a cheapskate. (She takes it out, unwinds it, and gasps.)
ANGELA: It’s… it’s not three dollars!
DAN: What is it?
ANGELA: It’s three thousand dollars!
Act I, Scene ii
At the restaurant. It’s closed and dimly lit. Three waitresses, ANGELA, MARY, and CLAIRE, are cleaning up, sweeping, wiping tables, etc.
MARY: Angela, that’s so wonderful! I bet you can’t wait till he comes back!
CLAIRE: When he does come back, let me wait on him!
ANGELA: Do you think he will come back?
CLAIRE: Of course. He’ll try to buy some souvenir and realize he doesn’t have his credit card. No traveling retiree can live without his credit card.
ANGELA: He didn’t really seem like he was retired. He wasn’t old enough.
CLAIRE: Who else travels in November? Especially up here?
MARY: Well, that’s the thing. If he were retired, he’d probably move down south. He should be in Florida, not Rhode Island.
CLAIRE: Well, Angela isn’t in Florida. I bet the old dear watched her working for a month before he had the courage to come in here. Too bad Dan scared him away before he could profess his love!
ANGELA: Profess his love! Where did that come from?
CLAIRE: Well it’s pretty obvious he likes you. Why else would he give you three thousand dollars?
ANGELA: (Nervous) It’s nothing like that. He… he just overheard us talking about my money problems. He probably has some huge inheritance, and that’s why he travels all over the country. Those family fortune heirs are always kind of crazy. I heard of this man once, and he had inherited some huge fortune so that he never had to work. And you know what he did? He walked around Plymouth Plantation in costume, but he didn’t work there. He’d pay to go in there and walk around and act like he was a performer, every day!
CLAIRE: Maybe he’s a gangster. He’s probably got hit men tracking you to make sure you return the favor later on. I bet he’ll make you kill someone!
MARY: God, Claire! Don’t say things like that!
CLAIRE: What if it’s true?
MARY: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. What if it is true, and those “hit men” or whatever you called them heard you say it? How long do you think you’d be for this world?
ANGELA: (A little angry) There aren’t any hit men! He’s just a nice older man, okay? Leave him alone!
CLAIRE: Any minute now you’ll be professing your love!
ANGELA: Shut up! (She storms over to the center table and sits in LOU’s seat, her head in her hands. MARY and CLAIRE stare at her for a moment. They confer quietly.)
CLAIRE: She’s really wound up.
MARY: I’ve never seen her like this. What should we do?
CLAIRE: Go talk to her, Mary. You’re good at things like this.
MARY: (Unsure) Okay… (She goes to the table and sits across from ANGELA. ANGELA doesn’t look up. MARY starts to say something, but stops. She tries again, and stops again. Finally she seems to find a voice. Meanwhile, CLAIRE busies herself with sweeping, pretending she isn’t trying to listen in on their conversation, but she obviously is.)
MARY: Angela, what’s got you so upset?
ANGELA: I don’t know.
MARY: Why don’t you tell me about him?
ANGELA: He was just a man, maybe in his mid fifties, maybe a little older. It… it was so weird, Mary. He ordered a ginger ale, but, I don’t know, it was like I already knew what he wanted, and when I went to get it for him, I almost put ice in it, but then I thought, “No, he doesn’t like ice in his soda, remember?” And it’s true, he doesn’t, but he never told me that. Just like the steak. He ordered it rare, but somehow, I knew he liked it well done. And his name! Lou Haskel… It so familiar! I know I’ve never seen him before in my life, but… I know him.
MARY: That is weird.
ANGELA: One more thing. (She glances at Claire, who is still trying to listen in. ANGELA leans in and lowers her voice.) Do I look like an Ellie to you?
ANGELA: Do I look like my name should be Ellie?
MARY: (Laughing) No! You look like an Angela, and that’s what you are. Why?
ANGELA: Because… Never mind. (She stares off into space. MARY stays a little longer, watching her, then gets up and picks up a rag from another table and wipes it down. CLAIRE comes over to her.)
CLAIRE: What did she say?
MARY: Don’t act like you weren’t listening.
CLAIRE: I might have missed something. Why did she ask you about the name Ellie?
MARY: She didn’t say. (She leans in and lowers her voice.) I don’t know what’s going on here, but if I see that Lou Haskel, I’m going to make sure he stays away from her.
(The door opens and LOU enters, wearing a heavy coat. He walks right over to the table where ANGELA is sitting, and stands beside her, unspeaking. MARY stares for a moment, then moves toward him. Just then ANGELA stands up without a word and walks out the door, LOU right behind her. MARY and CLAIRE stare after them.)
CLAIRE: Are you going to stop them soon?
MARY: Claire, I don’t know what to do! I want to protect her, but he didn’t drag her away or anything. She just went! I don’t know, I’m just so confused!
MARY: Should we go after her?
CLAIRE: I don’t know.
(MARY runs for the door, CLAIRE coming hesitantly behind her, but FOLKE enters SR. They stop, MARY’s hand already on the knob, and turn around to face him.)
CLAIRE: Hello Mr. Folke!
FOLKE: Claire, Mary, where are you going? Are you finished?
MARY: No, we’re not finished, but Angela just walked out with–
FOLKE: Then that is her problem. Remember, the sooner you finish here, the sooner you get to go home. I’ll talk to Angela later.
CLAIRE: But you don’t understand! She just walked out with Lou Haskel, the guy who gave her that three thousand dollar tip!
FOLKE: Well, he sounds like a nice gentleman. Please, get back to–
MARY: Mr. Folke, I don’t know what’s happening with this guy, but it’s really weird. Angela is not in her right mind at all. I think he’s hypnotizing her or something.
FOLKE: That’s ridiculous. Mary, Claire, get back to work. I’ll go out and have a talk with Mr. Haskel. Don’t you worry. I’m sure there’s nothing going on at all.
MARY: Thank you, Mr. Folke!
(FOLKE exits. MARY and CLAIRE continue washing tables.)
MARY: I hope Mr. Folke finds them.
CLAIRE: You know what, Mary? I think Angela’s gonna be fine.
MARY: I hope you’re right.
(The door opens. DAN enters, looks around quickly, growls under his breath, and turns to leave.)
MARY: Wait Dan!
DAN: (Spinning around. He speaks angrily.) What?
MARY: Are you looking for Angela?
DAN: Of course I am!
CLAIRE: She went out with Lou Haskel.
DAN: I knew it! (Rips open the door)
MARY: No, wait! Mr. Folke’s already out there. He’s gone to find them. I… I think you should stay away.
DAN: You think Mr. Folke’s better qualified to handle this? She’s my girlfriend!
MARY: Dan, just listen! He’ll take care of her. If he thinks there’s anything fishy going on, he’ll get her away. If not, then I think you should just let her do what she needs to do.
DAN: The Hell I should! She doesn’t know what she needs if she’s gone out with that guy! Anyone can tell he’s up to no good.
MARY: Maybe you’re right, but I still think that it’s better to let Mr. Folke handle it.
MARY: Well… because… (She sighs) Because he’ll examine the situation with a fair eye, and his judgments won’t be clouded by jealousy.
DAN: What? You think I’m jealous of that old idiot? That’s ridiculous!
CLAIRE: If I’ve ever seen jealousy, buddy, that’s it. Admit it! You think she’s gonna run away with this guy!
DAN: Well, not by her own decision, of course. She would never–
CLAIRE: But she did. I just saw it, plain as day. Mary thinks there might be hypnotism involved, but she didn’t look hypnotized to me. I think she feels something for this guy, and I think she’s trying to chose between you two.
DAN: Don’t say that! I was gonna– Oh God! (He sinks down into LOU’s chair, his head in his hands.) I came in here today. I was gonna ask her to… to marry me, but that guy Lou was already here. She couldn’t! She knows I love her. She always tells me that… she loves me. I don’t know… Today was supposed to be it, it was supposed to decide it all, but now I have no idea!
MARY: (She sits down beside him and takes his hand) Don’t worry Dan. It will all work out in the end. It always does.
DAN: No, no. Not for me. Everything I’ve ever wanted, it always falls through. I never get it. I worked so hard to get into Brown. It was all I wanted, and of course it didn’t happen. And girls… No one ever wanted me until Angela, and now I’m going to lose her too. Nothing’s ever gone right for me. Nothing!
(CLAIRE groans and continues cleaning, but MARY pulls DAN closer.)
MARY: It will be all right. I promise.
(DAN stares at MARY for a moment, then suddenly leans in and kisses her. CLAIRE laughs and MARY pulls away.)
MARY: What are you doing!
DAN: I don’t know! I thought… God, I have to find Angela! (He gets up and runs out the door. CLAIRE is still laughing.)
CLAIRE: Oh my God, oh my God! Is that just hilarious or what?
MARY: Claire, just shut up, okay? He’s upset. You can’t blame him–
CLAIRE: No, YOU can’t!
MARY: Shut up! This isn’t funny! Something really weird is going on here, and I’m gonna find out what it is. (She gets up and runs out the door. CLAIRE calls after her.)
CLAIRE: But Mr. Folke said– (The door slams.) All right. I’ll clean up myself. No problem. No problem at all. (She picks up the rag that MARY left on the table and wipes it down a little too forcefully. Blackout.)
Act I, Scene iii
A street corner. A street bench sits CENTER. For a few seconds it is silent and abandoned. Then the sound of approaching voices, and LOU and ANGELA enter SR.)
LOU: And that’s where the scar on my nose came from.
ANGELA: Oh. (They reach center, and ANGELA stops, looking frightened.)
LOU: What is it?
ANGELA: Oh nothing. It’s just… (She points off SL) The public pool is down that way.
LOU: (Slowly) And?
ANGELA: I don’t like pools.
LOU: Surely we can just walk by it. That wouldn’t be a problem, would it? It’s not even open this time of year.
ANGELA: I don’t want to. I just don’t like pools, okay?
LOU: Why not?
ANGELA: How the Hell should I know? You ever heard of a phobia? Unexplained, irrational fear? Is that familiar?
LOU: Calm down. I was just curious. (He looks around and catches sight of the bench.) Want to sit down?
ANGELA: Okay. (They sit.)
LOU: Have you ever been swimming, Ellie?
ANGELA: No, and I don’t intend to. It’s crazy, floating around in water with a bunch of crazy people splashing around you. Good way to get yourself killed.
LOU: Not very many people die in pools, you know.
ANGELA: Well some do! It’s not worth it. Can we talk about something else?
LOU: Fine. Why aren’t you away at college?
ANGELA: I don’t go to college.
LOU: Why not?
ANGELA: I can’t. I have to work.
LOU: Isn’t that your parents’ job?
ANGELA: I don’t have parents.
ANGELA: I don’t have parents. They died in a car accident when I was eight. They moved me around from foster home to foster home until I turned eighteen, and then they let me go. And here I am. (Defensively responding to LOU’s look of pity.) I’m doing just fine!
LOU: (Quietly) I could take care of you.
LOU: I’m pretty well off. I could take care you.
ANGELA: What, you mean like adopt me?
LOU: (Laughing) No! I mean… (He sobers up.) I could marry you.
ANGELA: (Pause) No; that’s insane! I don’t know you, you don’t know me, and you’re like what, fifty-eight or something?
LOU: I’m exactly fifty-eight.
ANGELA: (Another pause.) So what? That doesn’t prove anything! I could have seen your driver’s license!
LOU: You could have, but you didn’t.
ANGELA: I know! (She stands up, takes a few steps away, pauses, returns, and sits back down.) What’s going on, Lou?
LOU: What do you mean?
ANGELA: You know what I mean. I feel like I’ve met you before; not in passing. I mean really gotten to know you. Why? Don’t pretend you don’t know.
LOU: Oh, Ellie…
ANGELA: And that’s another thing. You keep calling me that, and what’s weirder, I don’t stop you! Why does Ellie really seem like my name?
LOU: I’ll tell you my theory, but first I want to ask you a question.
LOU: What do you feel for Dante?
ANGELA: The poet?
LOU: (Pause) Your boyfriend.
ANGELA: Oh, Dan. Well… I love him.
LOU: Why the hesitation?
ANGELA: No hesitation. I want to marry him.
ANGELA: No! (Pause. She has been avoiding looking at him. She looks up slowly and meets his eyes. He stares at her, blank faced.) But… He’s… He’s so insecure. I think he enjoys being pathetic. If anything goes wrong at all, it’s like the end of the world. And that’s not all. When he gets like that, it’s like his view of the world skews. He thinks he’s getting these subliminal messages from other people. Like a girl could just be talking to him, and he’d think she’s in love with him or something! I mean… Why did I tell you that?
LOU: So you’re not sure about him, then.
ANGELA: Of course I am! He’s the closest I’ve ever come to true love.
LOU: (Taking her hand) Are you sure?
(A pause. Angela pulls away.)
ANGELA: All right. I answered your question. Now answer mine.
LOU: Do you really want to hear it?
LOU: Fine. When I was about your age, I fell in love with a lovely young lady, and she fell in love with me. In very little time we were married, and we went off to her dream honeymoon in–
ANGELA: (Dreamily) Paris.
LOU: That’s right. She was happy and I was happy, and everything was wonderful for two weeks. And then she died. (ANGELA buries her face in her hands and sobs. LOU puts his arm around her shoulders and pulls her close.) Do you know how Ellie died?
ANGELA: The – The pool!
LOU: That’s right. She was an amazing swimmer. She liked to dive. She would never drown. Except, she misjudged the depth. Do you remember?
ANGELA: My neck… It hurt so much, Lou! I tried to swim. I couldn’t! I was diving, and it was too shallow, and my neck…
LOU: She hit her head on the bottom of the pool. She was so good, she dove like a dolphin. It was too fast. She broke her neck.
ANGELA: Paralyzed. Not dead yet, but paralyzed, and everything was red and black. I tried to swim…
LOU: They say she was instantly paralyzed, but it wasn’t that that killed her.
ANGELA: It was the water. I couldn’t stop it. It forced itself in through my nose and mouth. I tried! I couldn’t – I’m so sorry! I tried!
LOU: It’s okay. I know how hard you tried. I know.
ANGELA: It’s not okay. I ruined everything! I was stupid.
LOU: No, it’s okay now, because I found you again, Ellie! I found you, and we’re together again, and I’ll never leave you!
(FOLKE enters. LOU looks up and stares him down. FOLKE backs away, then steels himself.)
FOLKE: Mr. Haskel, what is going on here?
LOU: What do you see?
FOLKE: I see a very distressed young lady in the arms of a stranger twice her age. I’d advise you to leave her alone, sir.
LOU: I’ll leave. I’ll leave when she tells me to, but somehow, I doubt she will.
FOLKE: I’ll call the police.
LOU: Go ahead. I’ve done nothing wrong.
ANGELA: Mr. Folke, I’m okay. Mr. Haskel is helping me. He’s very helpful.
FOLKE: Do you know this man?
ANGELA: Yes. Very well. I’ve known him forever.
FOLKE: (Reluctantly) All right…
ANGELA: Believe me Mr. Folke. It’s okay. Please; we’d like to be alone.
FOLKE: Fine. If that’s what you want… (He exits.)
LOU: You’re lucky you have people who care about you, Ellie. I don’t.
ANGELA: Yes you do. (They kiss. DAN enters, sees them and freezes. He takes a step toward them, then spins and races off. Blackout.)
End of Act I
Act II, Scene i
(The restaurant that same night. CLAIRE is still wiping tables. The door opens and FOLKE enters.)
CLAIRE: Did you find her, Mr. Folke?
(He doesn’t seem to hear her. He is lost in thought. He crosses and exits.)
CLAIRE: Okay…(She wipes a second longer, then throws the rag on the floor.) Christ! What the hell is going on around here? (She pulls a chair out forcefully and sits.) Angela, Angela! The sweet angel reborn! Poor thing has two men who love her. What will we do? Poor thing runs off with a stranger. Suddenly it’s all our business. (She crosses her arms on the table and puts her head down on them, turning her head so that it is facing out. She has just closed her eyes when DAN and MARY enter. She opens her eyes for a second, then closes them again, pretending to be asleep.)
DAN: (Noticing CLAIRE) Is she asleep?
MARY: Looks like it. Can you tell me what you saw?
DAN: Can I trust you?
MARY: (Taken aback) Of course you can! You know me!
DAN: They were kissing.
MARY: (Gasps) Angela and… that guy? That’s so awful! What will we do?
(CLAIRE stifles a laugh.)
DAN: I don’t know. I could beat him up!
(CLAIRE snorts, then turns it into a snore.)
MARY: Dan, no. Don’t. Just forget her. Move on. You’ll find someone else.
MARY: I don’t know. She could be closer than you think.
DAN: Oh… I think I understand…
(CLAIRE’s eyes snap open. She sits up with a yawn just as DAN leans toward MARY.)
CLAIRE: Oh, I’m so tired! How long have I been asleep?
MARY: (Obviously flustered.) Uh… I don’t know. I just got back.
CLAIRE: What’s wrong.
MARY AND DAN: Nothing.
CLAIRE: Oh. I see.
DAN: We have to go now.
MARY: Yeah. (They exit. CLAIRE watches them go, then gets up. She picks up the rag from the floor, but doesn’t start wiping.)
CLAIRE: Idiots. They’re all so wound up and emotional, they can’t see the mess they’re making. (Shouting) She’s not gonna leave you, Dan! Not unless you leave her! She may want to right now, but she’s got honor. Too much honor! And you, Mary! You know better! Or I thought you did. (Quieter) And Angela. Poor, pretty Angela. It’s clear as day what you want; not a boyfriend. Not a husband. It’s a father you’re looking for. Don’t you understand Dan will never take care of you? You’ll be his mother for the rest of your life unless you leave him, but you won’t. Not unless you see him with Mary. Poor idiots. (FOLKE enters.) Mr. Folke! How is everything?
FOLKE: Fine, fine. Where is everybody?
CLAIRE: Beats me. They’re all in a twitter over this Angela business. They all ran off.
FOLKE: Oh well. (He looks around.) Well, you’ve done a good job cleaning up by yourself. I’ll pay you for overtime.
CLAIRE: Thank you, sir.
FOLKE: Oh, you’re welcome. (He takes the rag from her.) Go on home now, all right?
CLAIRE: Okay. Goodnight, Mr. Folke!
FOLKE: Goodnight Claire.
(CLAIRE exits. FOLKE pushes her chair in and wipes the table down again. The lights fade.)
(The street. LOU and ANGELA are gone. DAN and MARY enter.)
DAN: That’s where they were. (Points to the bench.) That’s where I saw them…
MARY: Dan, don’t you think about that!
DAN: (Facing her) What do you want?
MARY: Just to help.
(CLAIRE enters. DAN and MARY do not notice her. In this part she takes a role not unlike that of the ancient Greek chorus, commenting but unheard.)
CLAIRE: You always want to help.
DAN: Is that all?
CLAIRE: And we all know what you want.
MARY: (Sits on the bench.) That’s all.
DAN: (Sits beside her.) Oh. (He leans toward her.)
CLAIRE: (She walks forward and stands beside the bench. DAN and MARY freeze.) Are you blind? (They stay frozen, unhearing, for the remainder of CLAIRE’s lines.) Look at yourselves! What are you doing? At the first sign of trouble you duck down into your hole of physical dependence, desperate reliance on someone whose only virtue is an equally desperate need to rely. Can’t you see there’s a whole world out there? A universe of opportunity? If something’s missing, don’t try to fill up the hole with meaningless physical attachments. Look out there! Find yourself! Can you see, or is it all dark in there? There’s beauty and wisdom you will never see if all you’re looking for is the next relationship and the next and the next. (Pause. She looks at them a moment more, then turns away.) Oh never mind. You’ll never hear me. (She exits. DAN and MARY unfreeze and finally kiss. ANGELA enters, sees them, turns to leave, then stops. She walks up behind the bench.)
ANGELA: We’re all screwed up, aren’t we? (DAN and MARY leap apart.)
DAN: What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be with your old man? (ANGELA stares at him for a moment, then spins and runs off.) Angela! Wait! (He gets up. MARY grabs his hand.)
MARY: Dan, no! (DAN looks down at her, then slowly sits. Blackout.)
(The restaurant. FOLKE is asleep at the center table. CLAIRE enters and goes to sit beside him.)
CLAIRE: Mr. Folke? (He doesn’t stir.) Mr. Folke? (He remains sleeping . CLAIRE sighs.) I’m here to tell you that I quit. I can’t spend my entire life here. I don’t know where I’m going; I just have to go. I have a crazy dream – impossible I know, but it’s there. I dream there’s some place where people see clearly, where they don’t blind themselves to the real beauty in life. (She gets up and gets a napkin from another table.) In a way I’m glad this happened, this thing with Angela. I’ve been meaning to leave for a long time, but this woke me up and got me to understand how poisonous this place is. (She sits back down and takes out a pen. As she talks, she proceeds to write something on the napkin.) Poor old man. You don’t know what I’m talking about. You’ve lived here your whole life, just sliding along and being okay. I don’t know why I can’t do that, but I just can’t. (She stands up, rolls the napkin into a cylinder and sticks it in the flower vase.) Goodbye Mr. Folke. I might even miss you, someday. (She exits, slamming the door. FOLKE starts and wakes up.)
FOLKE: What was that? (He looks around sleepily.) Oh, never mind. (He sees the napkin in the vase.) Now what’s that doing there? (He takes it out and unrolls it.) Oh. (He sees the writing and reads it.) “Mr. Folke, please consider this my two week’s notice, two weeks late. I’m sorry, but I just can’t stay here. They have to understand that love, when it is true, is important, but there is more out there. Life cannot, must not be devoted entirely to someone else. Tell them all ‘Good Luck.’ May they open their eyes. Claire.” Oh dear. (Absently he rolls up the napkin and places it back in the vase.) Oh Claire, there’s no peace in you, is there? One day, you will learn to be content. (He stands, looks around, then exits. ANGELA and LOU enter.)
LOU: So how long have you been working here?
ANGELA: Two years.
LOU: That’s a long time. I haven’t been in one place for more than a month in thirty years.
ANGELA: What have you been doing?
LOU: Looking for you.
ANGELA: Lou, how did you know?
LOU: Know what?
ANGELA: All of it? How did you know I’d come back, or that when I did you would be able to find me?
LOU: As Dylan Thomas said, “Though lovers be lost, love shall not/ And death shall have no dominion.” Death couldn’t destroy what we had together, because I knew I’d loved you a million times. I can’t explain it. I just knew you’d be back. And I was right.
ANGELA: Yes, you were. (She walks over to the table, sees the note in the vase and takes it out. She reads it to herself, then slowly lowers it, staring out.) Claire… You saw it all. (She looks back at the note, then rips it up and throws it to the floor.) Why can’t I be like that?
LOU: Like what?
ANGELA: Like her! Why can’t I be my own person? Why do I have to go from man to man, depending on them? Why can’t I live my own life?
LOU: You can. You did before. Remember how you loved to sew? And you baked so well, and played the piano–
ANGELA: – All for everybody else. It’s always been for everybody else. They all told me, ‘If you sew and bake and play the piano, the boys will love you, and one day a man will marry you, and he’ll take care of you.’ Take care of you…
LOU: It worked. I would have taken care of you. I will take care of you now, for the rest of your life, and all the rest of our lives. I’ll always be there. You can depend on me. (He pulls her into a hug.) I’ll take care of you. Don’t you want that?
ANGELA: I’ve always wanted that, and every other time you’ve given it to me. I appreciate that.
LOU: You’re welcome.
ANGELA: Everyone wants safety. People fight for it all their lives.
LOU: You’ll never have to suffer.
ANGELA: (Pulling away.) To be free from suffering; that’s the dream.
LOU: You’ll never struggle.
ANGELA: To be at peace, with no pain, no hardship, no fear.
LOU: You’ll never fear.
ANGELA: (Crossing away) Nobody really wants hardship, to move and struggle and strive, to be poor, to be lonely, to be cold, to be sick. Nobody wants it, but still, they choose it.
LOU: Nobody chooses it.
ANGELA: Don’t they?
LOU: No. It happens to people, to everybody, but they don’t want to suffer.
ANGELA: But if we can decide the course of our lives before we even enter them, why don’t we all choose to be free of suffering?
LOU: (Pause) I guess it doesn’t work that way.
LOU: But even if it does, nobody chooses strife once they’re actually alive.
ANGELA: Claire chose it! She left! This town, the restaurant, they were her safety, but she left them. Why?
LOU: What do you mean she left?
ANGELA: That note; she quit. She’s gone, and she’s not coming back.
LOU: Perhaps she didn’t know any better.
ANGELA: She knew better. She knew better than you, or me, or Mary, or Dan, or Mr. Folke. She knew best. We were her safety and she left us, but why?
LOU: I don’t know.
ANGELA: (Rounding on him) What about you? Certainly it wasn’t safe and easy to wander for thirty five years, all alone, but you did it! You chose it! You gave up safety.
LOU: Only for you.
ANGELA: But what am I? What am I to you but a dream? God knows it’s easier to stay in one place. Even after I died, you could have stayed put. Most people do. But you couldn’t! You couldn’t stay safe. Why? Because safety is stifling. Claire knew it, but I never did before… Lou?
LOU: (Worried.) What?
ANGELA: You’re my safety.
LOU: Isn’t that a good thing? Don’t you want to be safe?
ANGELA: What is safe, Lou? What is it but stagnation? Rot? Death?
LOU: It’s happiness.
ANGELA: No, Lou. It’s death. (Pause.) I can’t marry you.
LOU: You’re staying with Dan?
ANGELA: No. I can’t be with him, either. I don’t want to be safe anymore.
LOU: You can live dangerously with me, if that’s what you want. Don’t you love me?
ANGELA: (Going back to him.) With all of my heart. Do believe that, Lou. This just isn’t the time for it. I left you in that pool for a reason. It was my baptism to a new life, a life where I learn who I am, where I struggle and hurt and cry and grow. (She takes his hand.) Excuse the metaphor, but it’s pressure that makes diamonds. Do you understand?
LOU: (Long pause.) Yes.
ANGELA: Don’t worry. There’ll be other lives, later, when I’m stronger. when I’ve learned what I need to know on my own. This isn’t the end.
LOU: I know. I just thought……
ANGELA: I know you want to help me, and I appreciate that. But I have to help myself now.
LOU: Are you sure? I mean… you’re adamant?
ANGELA: (Quietly) Yes.
LOU: Oh. I do wish you would change your mind.
ANGELA: I won’t.
LOU: I… I know. I guess, if nothing else, I’m just glad I got to be with you again, if only for a day.
ANGELA: Same here. (She kisses him.) I’m going home now, and so should you. Find yourself a purpose; live your own life. (They kiss again, and she slips something into his shirt pocket. She exits. LOU watches her leave, then sighs heavily and sits down in his chair.)
LOU: I had a purpose. It was you. (He reaches into his pocket and pulls out what she left there: three thousand dollars and his credit card. He stares at them for a moment, then slams them down on the table. He pulls out his wallet and places it beside the other things.) But I think you’re right. Unfortunately for me, this life I’m in is devoted to you. It’s too late to change that now. But next time… (Pause. He picks up a napkin and pulls out a pen, scribbles a note and shoves the napkin into the vase.) Goodbye Ellie. (He laughs.) I mean Angela. (He exits. Blackout.)
The next morning. ANGELA, MARY, and FOLKE are in the restaurant, getting ready to open up for the day. ANGELA sees the wallet, credit card and money on the table, then sees the note in the vase and picks it up.
FOLKE: Are we ready to open?
MARY: Almost. We’re running a little late since Claire isn’t here.
FOLKE: Get used to it. She isn’t coming back.
MARY: Oh, that’s too bad.
ANGELA: (She has read LOU’s note.) Oh, Lou…
MARY: What is it?
(ANGELA doesn’t respond. The door opens and DAN enters with a newspaper.)
DAN: Did you guys hear the news? (He puts an arm around MARY.)
MARY: No. What happened?
DAN: Well, I didn’t see it for myself, but the papers say someone drowned in the pool.
MARY: The public pool? But it’s closed.
DAN: Not drained yet. They’ve had it covered for almost a month, but they never got around to draining it.
FOLKE: But if it’s covered, he couldn’t have just fallen in there…
DAN: Nope. He pulled off one corner and got in under the cover. The people who live across the street saw him – it was around midnight – and they called the police. Trespassing, you know. Well, when they got there, he was already dead.
MARY: Was he drunk?
DAN: No. He wasn’t on drugs, either.
FOLKE: So he was just going for a swim.
DAN: It’s possible, but he was fully clothed. They’re tentatively calling it a suicide.
MARY: Oh my God!
FOLKE: Who was it?
DAN: They don’t know. He’s a stranger. A middle-aged man.
FOLKE: Wasn’t he carrying identification?
DAN: No. No wallet, no credit cards, nothing.
MARY: That’s so creepy. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to swim there again. Who would do a thing like that?
DAN: (Sharply) What?
ANGELA: It was Lou.
MARY: That old guy?
ANGELA: (Shouting) Lou!
FOLKE: (Quietly) Why?
ANGELA: I guess he thought he’d accomplished all he had to in this life.
FOLKE: Dan, Mary, I think Angela would like to be alone for a while.
DAN: (Viciously) To mourn her old man? Bet you wish you’d chosen differently. Now you’re all alone.
DAN: Sorry, honey. (He kisses MARY’s cheek. DAN, MARY, and FOLKE exit. ANGELA watches them go, then sits down in LOU’s seat.)
ANGELA: Oh Lou… So you’re baptized, too. Starting a new life without me. Someday we’ll both be ready for each other again. (She looks at the note and reads. LOU's voice reads it out loud.)
LOU: Dearest, I’m sad, but I’m happy too, because you’re going to grow so much. I know I need to grow as well. Good luck. I’ll catch you the next time around. Lou. P.S. Death shall have no dominion.
ANGELA: Lou, I’ll love you forever. (She gets up and goes to FOLKE’s office. She opens the door.) Mary, Mr. Folke! I think we’re ready to open!