a play in two acts
by Charles Deemer
First performed (in a slightly different version) at the Cork Arts Center in Cork, Ireland, on December 9, 1996. Directed by Charles Ruxton.
Ed, 40s, the boarder, a music teacher
Cynthia, 40s, the landlord
Alice, 30s, the neighbor
Amy, teens, the girl, a music student
Heather, teens, a former student of Ed's (played by same actress who plays Amy)
The central playing area is the living room of Cynthia's home. A sofa, coffee table, chairs, phone, answering machine, tape deck, books.
Neutral playing areas as indicated; area where Amy plays her violin.
(SHADOWY MOOD LIGHTS come up on Amy, playing the violin, part of a string quartet (recorded music), haunting, which becomes the play's THEME. Mendelssohn's String Quartet in A minor, first movement, Adagio. AREA LIGHTS up on Ed, facing the audience, as the music softly continues.)
ED: Mendelssohn's String Quartet in A minor. Opus 13 "13," which should have been a sign. The first movement. Adagio.
The first time Amy played it, I wept. I'd never had a student evoke such emotion from the piece before. From that moment on, I never doubted her talent. But the rest...the rest is more complicated.
She was 12 or 13 at the time, playing like an angel, evoking emotions she couldn't have been aware of at her age. So I am not ashamed of loving her.
But I did not abuse her. You can think what you want, but that's the truth.
(Ed continues speaking to the audience as he starts moving into the living room.)
ED: I was less than a week out of prison when the trouble started all over again. I think I expected it would. After all, as far as the public was concerned, I was guilty until proven innocent.
(The same Mendelssohn is playing, now from the tape deck upstage. Ed sits in a chair in the living room and starts meditating. His eyes are closed.)
(The door opens and Cynthia comes in, returning from an AA meeting. She ignores Ed, going straight to the telephone answering machine and looking down at the number of recorded messages. Ed senses someone else is in the room and opens his eyes. He gets up and heads for the tape deck.)
CYNTHIA: Only nine messages.
ED: Nine's plenty.
(He turns off the music.)
CYNTHIA: What did we have yesterday? Almost twenty? Nine's a definite improvement.
ED: One hate call is one too many. I've caused you
CYNTHIA: We don't know all of them are hate calls, now do we? It's been the media as well. And maybe even a few supporters, for all we know.
ED: Miss Bernstein, if it doesn't stop by the end of the week, I think I should move on.
CYNTHIA: (ignoring this) You know what gets me? How the reporters can't take no for an answer. You'd think journalism school would teach them what "no comment" means.
ED: I'm nothing but trouble. I force you to turn off your phone because it rings off the hook. I've created a scandal in the neighborhood. I've
CYNTHIA: Mr. Ramsey, I believed you were innocent from the beginning.
ED: I am innocent.
CYNTHIA: I wouldn't have rented to you otherwise. We're not going to let this keep us from doing what's right.
ED: I feel like such a burden.
CYNTHIA: You are no burden at all. I'm going to put on coffee. I invited my friend Alice over for dessert.
ED: Then if you'll excuse me.
CYNTHIA: You're invited, too.
ED: Miss Bernstein, I
CYNTHIA: You've been here almost a week, Mr. Ramsey. You can call me Cynthia.
ED: Only if you call me Ed.
CYNTHIA: Ed you are perfectly welcome to join us. Alice is like a little sister to me. We don't get to visit often, other than at meetings, so this is something special.
ED: I don't feel very social tonight, I'm afraid.
CYNTHIA: Alice is new in recovery and very determined to turn her life around. She might inspire you.
ED: You think I need inspiration?
CYNTHIA: All of us need inspiration, Ed! Just relax and join us. I'm not taking no for an answer.
ED: I'll stay just a little while. Does she know about...?
CYNTHIA: Of course not. And if she finds out, you're telling her, not me.
ED: I appreciate that.
CYNTHIA: As far as I'm concerned, you're a music teacher looking for a job. Anything else you want her to know is up to you.
ED: Thanks, Cynthia.
CYNTHIA: I did you a favor, you can do me one. Take Alice off my hands while I'm in the kitchen. Ever since I became her sponsor, she's been talking my ear off. I can use a break. All you have to do is listen, she's quite good at doing all the talking.
ED: I suppose I can manage that.
CYNTHIA: Of course you can.
(The doorbell rings. Ed looks disturbed.)
CYNTHIA: Alice doesn't bite, Ed.
(She opens the door and Alice comes into the room.)
CYNTHIA: Alice, this is Ed Ramsey.
(There is an awkward pause.)
CYNTHIA: Everybody sit down. Ed, if you don't like the color of your room, blame Alice. She picked it out and did most of the painting. I'd never have had the room ready in time without her.
ALICE: I'm a professional volunteer.
ED: That's because you weren't in the Army. You learn never to volunteer.
ALICE: You were in the Army?
ED: Only technically. I played in the band. It's not your typical Army life.
CYNTHIA: Ed teaches music.
ALICE: Really? What instrument?
ED: Used to teach music. Violin's my first love.
ALICE: I didn't know the Army had a violin band.
ED: I played clarinet in the Army.
ALICE: How many instruments do you play?
ED: Too many. Jack of all trades, master of none.
CYNTHIA: If you two will excuse me, I'll make coffee. Wait til you taste the cake!
(And she's gone. An awkward pause.)
ED: Have you known Cynthia long?
ALICE: Most of my life. She was my older sister's best friend all through school.
ED: She's a great friend to have, from what I've seen.
ALICE: She saved my life, I can tell you that. Without Cynthia's support, I'd probably still be swilling the sauce. I'm an alcoholic. She's my sponsor.
ED: So she told me. How long have you been sober?
ALICE: Almost a year.
ED: My congratulations.
ALICE: Are you...?
ED: An alcoholic? No. But I've met a lot of them. Even been to a few meetings.
ED: With, ah, friends.
(Ed smiles. A pause.)
ALICE: I don't know why I'm so nervous. Usually you can't shut me up. How did you happen to rent a room here?
ED: I, you know, saw the ad . . .
ALICE: Well, Cynthia's been threatening to do this for months. Not just for the extra income either, but I think for the company as well. Her husband died quite a few years ago now, and she's kept pretty much to herself the last few years, since I've gotten to know her again, I mean. To be honest, I worry about her. I'm glad you're here to keep her company. Of course, I'm a fine one to talk, I've been divorced twice and don't have any more of a social life than she does, other than meetings, of course. I don't know what I'd do without all the people I've met in AA. It's like having a second family. Well, a first family, really my family isn't all that close. My sister married an Air Force officer and travels around the world. She's the only one I was ever close to. Cynthia's like a big sister to me now, sort of in place of Carol, you know what I mean? Not that we see each other all that often, except at meetings, we live on opposite sides of town.
I'm sorry. I'm doing all the talking.
ED: I don't mind.
ALICE: Actually, I'm shy. I think that's why I drink. I mean, drank! To tell the truth, when I sobered up I expected that my true self would reveal itself as some kind of silent wallflower, maybe even a little mysteriously so, like Greta Garbo but here I am, talking to beat the band, just like when I was drinking, except that now I make more sense. Well, maybe not more sense but at least what I say is understandable now, I'm not slurring my words and making a total fool of myself. God, the stuff I got into when I was drinking! Thank your stars that you don't have that kind of problem.
ED: I do.
ALICE: And you should. Especially in this culture, where there's so much pressure to drink and have a good time just look at the ads on television! You'd think you couldn't find a mate or be happy without a bottle in your hand.
(Cynthia returns with a tray of coffee and cake. Ed stands up.)
ED: I'm afraid I'm not feeling very social tonight. It's been very nice meeting you, Alice. I'm sorry I'm not better company.
ALICE: Oh God, I'm driving you away, aren't I?
ED: It's not that at all. I'm just very tired.
CYNTHIA: Ed, you are sitting back down and having your cake. Sit.
(He sits back down.)
ALICE: I talked his ear off.
ED: No, you're very good company. I've had a long day, is all.
CYNTHIA: He's looking for a teaching job.
ED: Anything, really.
CYNTHIA: Don't settle for less. And if there's a problem with rent, you come to me before you do something stupid, you understand me? I can always find something for you to do around here.
ED: That's very kind, but I'm sure I'll find something soon.
ALICE: Cynthia, this is so yummy!
CYNTHIA: I thought you'd like it. Ed?
ED: Very tasty.
(They eat in silence a moment. Ed suddenly stands up.)
ED: I'm sorry. I just don't feel like good company tonight. It's nice to meet you, Alice.
ALICE: Nice to meet you, too.
CYNTHIA: Goodnight, Ed.
(The women watch him leave.)
ALICE: I drove him away.
CYNTHIA: I don't think so. He feels under a lot of pressure to find work.
ALICE: He's not from here?
CYNTHIA: He is but he's been away for a while. I'm sure he'll find something soon.
ALICE: It would be nice to have music in the house. Does he play often?
CYNTHIA: I haven't heard him play yet. He told me his violin is still in storage.
ALICE: That's a shame. I'd love to hear him play.
CYNTHIA: I expect he'll be practicing once he gets settled in.
ALICE: He's very different than the boarder I expected.
CYNTHIA: Who did you expect?
ALICE: Someone much older. Someone retired and living on social security. I suppose once he finds a job and has a steady income again, he'll want his own apartment.
ALICE: So tell me, Cynthia: is it nice to have a man around the house?
CYNTHIA: Get that gleam out of your eye. There is nothing going on between us now or in the future. I can guarantee you.
ALICE: He's a nice looking man. Cultured, easy to talk to
CYNTHIA: Speak for yourself, Alice. I am not interested in what you have in mind.
ALICE: I think about dating again.
CYNTHIA: You know what the rule is no relationship during your first year of sobriety.
ALICE: I didn't say relationship. I said dating.
CYNTHIA: One has a way of leading to the other.
ALICE: Joe at the meeting has asked me to a movie a couple times.
CYNTHIA: Joe relapses like clockwork. If you want my advice, stay away from him.
ALICE: I figured that much out on my own.
CYNTHIA: More cake?
ALICE: No. I'd better get going. I start at six tomorrow.
CYNTHIA: I thought you had the late night shift.
ALICE: I finally got them to give me days. All the time I've been at Safeway, it's the least they can do. Thanks for having me over.
(The phone starts ringing.)
ALICE: I can find my way out. I'll call you tomorrow.
(Alice leaves, and Cynthia picks up the phone.)
CYNTHIA: Hello? . . . Just a minute, let me see if he's still up.
(She moves toward Ed's room.)
CYNTHIA: Ed? Telephone! Are you awake?
ED (O.S.): Be right there!
(Cynthia goes back to the phone.)
CYNTHIA: (on phone) He's on his way. Who is this? . . . I didn't recognize your voice, dear. . . . No, now is fine. Here he is.
(Ed comes forward and takes the phone.)
ED: Hello? . . . I don't know what to say. . . . If you mean that . . .Thank you. I really mean that. . . . Yes. And thank you.
(He sets down the receiver.)
ED: It was Amy.
CYNTHIA: What a surprise!
ED: How did she know I was here?
CYNTHIA: Maybe she saw the articles in the paper and looked me up in the phone book. She'd know you're staying here.
ED: She said she just called a TV station and retracted her story. She told them the truth. I can't believe she did that.
(He starts for his bedroom.)
CYNTHIA: She told them what exactly?
ED: That it was her stepfather who abused her. Just as I suspected.
CYNTHIA: She told them you're innocent?
ED: Yes. She's finally telling the truth.
CYNTHIA: Well, this calls for a celebration. Are you going to see her?
ED: Of course not.
CYNTHIA: I thought you'd want to thank her in person.
ED: I don't think it's a good idea for me to see her.
(CROSS FADE TO: Alice on the telephone, that same night.)
ALICE: Mary, I made a total fool of myself. I was actually breaking into a sweat. . . . Yes, he's nice. That's why I was so nervous. I wanted him to like me. . . . I don't know why. It was visceral. .. . No, I'm not ready for a relationship, even if he was interested, which I'm sure he's not. I couldn't shut up. I just babbled and babbled. He got away as soon as he could.
(CROSS FADE TO: Living room. Cynthia has let Amy in. She is carrying her violin case.)
/the next afternoon
AMY: But on the phone you said to be here at two.
CYNTHIA: I forgot he had an appointment with his parole officer this afternoon. But he won't be long, dear. Shall we sit down?
(Amy is hesitant.)
CYNTHIA: He told me to make sure you wait.
(Amy sits down on the divan. Cynthia joins her.)
CYNTHIA: What a courageous thing you did. And what a surprise! When I called you the other day, you didn't say anything about it.
AMY: Well, since he wanted to be my teacher again, least I could do is finally tell the truth.
CYNTHIA: Better late than never, I always say.
AMY: My mom doesn't know I came. She'd have a cow if she knew. Not that she ever pays attention to what I'm doing.
CYNTHIA: She doesn't approve of Mr. Ramsey?
AMY: Not after what happened. She never believes anything I say. Her boyfriends are all saints, as far as she's concerned.
CYNTHIA: It hasn't been easy for you, poor dear.
AMY: Not as bad as for him. People have been really awful to him here, haven't they?
CYNTHIA: It could've been worse. And I'm sure everything will be fine now, thanks to you.
AMY: I hope so. I've really been feeling guilty. When you called, I didn't know what to think. The last thing I expected was that he'd want me for a student again. I ruined his life.
CYNTHIA: Whatever you did or he did is over now. It's time for a fresh beginning.
AMY: He didn't do anything, is what I'm saying. When the social worker found out what was going on and everything, I wanted to tell, I really did, but I was too scared to. I told mom once and she didn't even believe me. Then at the police station, they kept talking so much and saying things that got me all confused and everything . . . When I signed the paper, I didn't even know what I was signing.
CYNTHIA: We don't have to talk about the past, Amy.
AMY: I wrote him in prison. I used my girlfriend's name because I didn't know if it was allowed or not. But I said things so he'd know it was me. I wanted him to know what really happened. When he didn't reply, I thought he didn't believe me.
CYNTHIA: I'm sure they wouldn't let him write you.
AMY: I thought he could've found a way if he really wanted to.
(Cynthia wants to change the subject. She looks at her watch.)
CYNTHIA: I don't know what's keeping him. He'll be so happy to see that you're still practicing.
AMY: I don't very much.
CYNTHIA: Mr. Ramsey told me you're the best student he ever had.
AMY: He did?
CYNTHIA: Absolutely. How he raves about your talent!
AMY: Well, I used to be pretty good. I haven't practiced much since, you know, everything happened. I practice but I haven't been taking lessons or anything.
CYNTHIA: All that's about to change, young lady.
AMY: That would be great.
(Cynthia stands up.)
CYNTHIA: I'm going to let you make yourself at home, dear. I have some errands to run. I'm sure he'll be home any minute now.
AMY: I could come back later.
CYNTHIA: Don't be ridiculous. You can watch TV while you're waiting. It's in my bedroom.
AMY: You wouldn't mind?
CYNTHIA: Of course not. Let me show you.
(Amy gets up and Cynthia starts her in the direction of the bedroom. Amy leaves her violin case on the floor by the divan.)
CYNTHIA: It's the first door on the left. I have cable with all the trimmings, a big comfy bed to stretch out on you just make yourself at home, dear.
AMY: I know you told me your name on the phone, but I forgot.
AMY: This is turning out so much better than I thought. I almost didn't come over. It was all I could do to call him last night.
CYNTHIA: You have nothing to worry about, Amy. Mr. Ramsey talks about you all the time.
AMY: Last night he sounded so surprised to hear from me.
CYNTHIA: It's been so long since he's heard your voice! But he's thrilled to have you back in his life.
CYNTHIA: (ignoring this) There's pop in the refrigerator if you're thirsty. I should be back before your lesson is over.
(And Cynthia is out the door.)
(Amy can't believe how well everything has turned out. She turns and heads for the bedroom to watch TV.)
(CROSS FADE TO: table in cafe, where Ed and Alice are having coffee.)
ALICE: You're staring.
ED: I'm sorry.
ALICE: I feel like you can see right through me.
ED: You seem tense. I hope it's not the company.
ALICE: That's not it at all. I'm flattered you called. I'm also shocked.
ED: It was pretty short notice. Why are you shocked?
ALICE: I was afraid I talked so much last night you'd never want to see me again.
ED: You were obviously wrong.
ALICE: I was hoping we'd see each other again. I just didn't expect it to happen. Or even if it did, that it would be so soon.
ED: One, I felt like I had to get out of the house; and two, I felt like having company. Cynthia told me you'd started early and would be off in the afternoon. So I rolled the dice and phoned you.
ALIC I'm glad you did. I already said that, didn't I?
ED: So you work at Safeway.
ALICE: Not very glamorous, is it?
ED: Do you like it?
ALICE: Actually, I do.
ED: Then that's glamour enough.
ALICE: Are you looking for a music teaching job?
ED: Ideally, but I may have to settle for what I can get.
ALICE: I've never met a music teacher before. That sounds silly, doesn't it?
ED: Well, I've never met someone who rings up my groceries. So we're even.
ALICE: You know, when I started there during high school, I thought it was a temporary job, until I went to college. Then when I finally took a year at the community college, I dropped out and went back to work. I've been there ever since. I keep telling myself I'm going to take night classes but I always forget to register in time. I think it's too late now, I'm too old to go back to school. So I seem to be stuck at Safeway.
ED: But you said you like it.
ALICE: Well, I really do. But a part of me thinks I should do something more with my life than ring up groceries all day.
ED: You don't have children?
ALICE: No. And I've thought of that, too. The old biological clock is getting pretty active lately. Do you have children?
ED: No. I never married.
ALICE: That's unusual.
ED: I'm not gay, if that's what you're thinking.
ALICE: Actually, it is what I was thinking! Thanks for letting me know.
ED: Would you have been disappointed?
ALICE: That sounds like a leading question.
ED: Very leading.
ALICE: Yes, I would have been disappointed.
ED: I'm glad.
ALICE: I'm glad you're glad.
(Another awkward pause.)
ALICE: My palms are sweating.
ED: Does that mean you're going to inherit money?
ALICE: That's itching. Sweaty palms mean I'm nervous as hell and angry at myself for it.
ED: Why are you nervous?
ALICE: I'll tell you some other time.
ED: Fair enough.
ALICE: You, of course, are the Rock of Gibraltar, no doubt.
ED: Hardly. Alice, I get the impression that both of us are a little rusty at this. Am I right?
ALICE: I have coffee out all the time.
ED: You know what I mean.
ALICE: Yes, we are. I mean, I am. Rusty. At this sort of thing. Is this a date?
ED: Yes, I'd call it a date. An afternoon date.
ALICE: Just checking. That's definitely it, then. The sweaty palms. This is my first date in over a year.
ED: Now that surprises me.
ALICE: I'm not supposed to be in a relationship during the first year of sobriety. Not to jump the gun. Oh shit, that really sounded stupid, didn't it? Just forget I said any of that.
ED: What you said was charming.
ALICE: Good, let's quit while we're ahead.
(She stands up.)
ED: Can I call you again?
ALICE: You'd better.
ED: I will.
ALICE: I'll try not to move my bed next to the phone.
(CROSS FADE TO...)
/living room, later that afternoon
(Amy is sitting on the divan, bored. Waiting. Cynthia enters.)
CYNTHIA: Well, how did it go?
AMY: He never showed.
CYNTHIA: Really? I hope there isn't trouble with his parole officer.
AMY: You think he's in trouble?
CYNTHIA: I have no idea. Maybe something came up, he had to do some community service today or something. Can you come back tomorrow?
AMY: You sure he really wants to do this?
CYNTHIA: Of course I am! Same time tomorrow and you have my word of honor he'll be here.
(CROSS FADE TO Alice on telephone, that night.)
ALICE: We had such a wonderful day! It's a little frightening, actually . . . Because, you know you've been there yourself, Mary. It's hard to learn to trust a man again. Isn't it? I'm taking it one day at a time, believe me. But today was wonderful! I can't remember when I felt so in sync with someone Of course, I am. He's supposed to call tonight...What happens, happens. Right?...I'm taking it slow, and he's just as gun shy as I am. I don't feel pressure at all that we have to, you know, go out every weekend or hop in bed right away or anything like that. It's so damn comfortable, Mary! I love the way this is happening.
(CROSS FADE TO: living room, LIGHTS UP LOW.)
/ that night, late
(The room is dark. Cynthia is sitting in the stuffed chair. The door opens and Ed enters, moving in the darkness through the room. He is limping. Suddenly the light by Cynthia's chair comes on. She's turned on the light, which is still low. Ed, ignoring her, limps by on the way to his room.)
CYNTHIA: What happened to you?
ED: I was recognized. Consequently I got kneed in the balls and kicked in the shins. I had my hair pulled and my stomach punched. I got mistaken for a soccer ball and was kicked around the parking lot. How was your evening?
CYNTHIA: I'm so sorry.
ED: Good for you.
(He starts off again.)
CYNTHIA: I get the impression you're mad at me. I don't understand why.
(Ed stops and turns to her.)
ED: Im not mad at you.
ED: I didn't expect to hear from Amy again.
CYNTHIA: But she's done you a favor!
ED: I know, I should be grateful. I am, actually. It was just such a shock to hear from her.
CYNTHIA: Well, you can blame me for that.
ED: What are you talking about?
CYNTHIA: I called her and suggested she ask about getting music lessons again. I think that's what inspired her to tell the truth.
ED: You what? Who the hell do you think you are?
CYNTHIA: Ed, have you been drinking?
ED: You're a drunk, so nobody else can drink, is that it?
CYNTHIA: That was uncalled for.
ED: You have no right to choose my students for me. Assuming I decide to teach again, which is a decision I haven't made yet.
CYNTHIA: Of course you'll teach again. It's your calling.
ED: What business is this of yours?
CYNTHIA: I was just trying to help.
ED: You should mind your own business, Miss Bernstein.
(He turns to go.)
CYNTHIA: I'm sorry you got roughed up.
ED: Not half as sorry as I am.
CYNTHIA: Some people are just that way.
ED: Yes, they are. I could've saved everybody the trouble by going to Seattle. Some place I've never been before. I know you mean well but, please, don't make any more decisions for me.
CYNTHIA: I already have. I told Amy to come by for a lesson tomorrow.
ED: I'm too rusty to teach.
CYNTHIA: Then begin with Amy. I think she may be as rusty as you are. You both could get back to speed together. However you musicians put it.
ED: I need to move on. It was a mistake to accept your offer and move in here.
CYNTHIA: You can't forgive her, can you? Even now, after she went out on a limb for you.
ED: I don't have to forgive her. I never blamed her in the first place.
CYNTHIA: I'm not sure I understand.
ED: I don't have the energy to explain it. It gets complicated.
CYNTHIA: You might try.
ED: No, I don't want to try. I don't want to bring up the past. I want to forget it and get on with my life.
CYNTHIA: I can understand that. I thought giving Amy lessons would
ED: No, I can't just pick up the pieces and go on like nothing happened.
CYNTHIA: Then you're still angry at her.
ED: It has nothing to do with anger. I never blamed her. I always knew it was her stepfather who was abusing her. I told the police so as if they'd take my word for anything.
CYNTHIA: Do this for her. I know you care about her. You should have seen her eyes light up when I told her you wanted to give her lessons again. I assumed it was what you wanted. If giving lessons isn't "getting on with your life," what is?
ED: Okay, I'll think about it.
CYNTHIA: It's a wonderful opportunity for you both.
ED: I'm not making any promises.
CYNTHIA: Goodnight, Ed.
(They move off to their bedrooms. CROSS FADE TO: Alice on the phone, late that night. The phone woke her up.)
ALICE: What time is it? . . . Yes, but that's all right. What's going on? ...That's sweet, Ed...I look forward to it, too....No, I was up reading...I don't mind....Goodnight, Ed... .I'm thinking about you, too.
(CROSS FADE TO: Living room.)
/ the next morning
(Ed lets Amy in. She is carrying her violin.)
ED: Good morning, Amy.
ED: How are you?
ED: I'm a little nervous myself. You might as well come in and sit down.
AMY: Thank you.
(She slowly enters the room.)
ED: Make yourself at home.
(He gestures for her to sit on a chair. She does, putting the violin case on the floor beside her. Ed moves to the sofa, still limping a little.)
AMY: Did you hurt your leg?
ED: I slipped and fell. Nothing serious.
(He sits down.)
ED: No need to start the lesson right away.
AMY: Good. I think I'm too nervous to play.
ED: To be honest, I haven't played in five years myself. You?
AMY: Not very much.
ED: I'm ashamed of you.
AMY: Things have been really crazy at home.
ED: I'm sorry to hear that. Your stepfather died, didn't he?
AMY: Four years ago. Mom's boyfriends aren't much better. I wrote you about it.
ED: I know.
AMY: You never answered.
ED: They wouldn't let me write to you, Amy.
AMY: I was hoping you'd find a way.
ED: They have pretty tight security in there. It was impossible to write to you.
ED: I never blamed you, Amy. I always had a suspicion about what was really going on.
AMY: I feel so guilty . . . the police got me so mixed up, I didn't know what I was signing.
ED: I understand.
AMY: And the things they told me about you. Why do they hate you so much?
ED: They were under a lot of pressure to make a conviction.
AMY: I never believed anything they said about you. Because I know you.
ED: I hope so.
AMY: I thought you'd hate me forever.
ED: I could never hate you.
(A beat. Amy looks around.)
AMY: Where's your violin?
ED: It's in storage.
AMY: You haven't even gotten it out of storage yet?
ED: I'm a little afraid to, I think. Maybe I don't want to hear how rusty I am. But I suppose we should find out how rusty you are. That's what we're here for.
AMY: I don't feel like playing all that much.
ED: Some other time, then.
AMY: I'm almost eighteen. I'm getting my own place as soon as I can, too. Mom's drinking more than ever. It's a nightmare living at home.
ED: I always hoped your gift would break you free from all that. Maybe it will yet.
AMY: I don't know if I'll ever play as well as I used to.
ED: You have an extraordinary gift, Amy. More extraordinary considering how hard it's been for you at home. You have a responsibility to nurture it.
AMY: Then you'll help me?
AMY: I need a teacher.
ED: Yes, I'll help you.
(Amy smiles and Ed smiles back, more at ease together now that they've settled this.)
AMY: Is Cynthia your girlfriend or something? You live together?
ED: Heavens, no. She wrote me just before I got out, offering to rent me a room. I took her up on it.
AMY: When are you getting your violin out of storage?
ED: I'll tell you what. How would you like to go on a little errand with me, and we'll get it out of storage right now?
AMY: That'd be great.
ED: We can take the bus, and I'll get my violin, and tomorrow we can start lessons in earnest. How does that sound? Maybe practicing is just what we both need. Every life needs discipline, right?
ED: In prison, I'd close my eyes and hear you playing like an angel.
AMY: I don't think I'll play like an angel right away.
ED: Don't worry I won't be teaching like one either. We can get up to speed together. A deal?
AMY: A deal!
(He gets to his feet, and Amy stands up. For a moment they face one another, standing, and there is a suggestion that they are being drawn together, almost like past lovers clearly, they share an affection for one another that borders on the physical. Ed breaks the spell.)
ED: Let's get out of here.
(CROSS FADE TO: Alice and Cynthia in a dress shop, where Alice is holding up a new dress in front of a mirror.)
/ a week later
ALICE: What do you think? Should I try it on?
CYNTHIA: You really want to know?
ALICE: You don't like it. What's wrong with it?
CYNTHIA: The dress is fine. I can't believe you.
ALICE: What do you mean?
CYNTHIA: How many times have you gone out with him the past week? And now this.
ALICE: All "this" is, is buying a new dress!
CYNTHIA: It's like you're picking out a wedding dress.
ALICE: Don't be ridiculous.
CYNTHIA: Are you sure you're doing the right thing?
ALICE: Going out with him? Of course. I haven't felt this alive in years.
CYNTHIA: Are you sleeping with him?
ALICE: Is that my friend or my sponsor asking?
ALICE: You don't pull any punches, do you?
CYNTHIA: Not when the stakes are so high.
ALICE: Cynthia, you're the one jumping the gun here, not me.
CYNTHIA: I asked if you were sleeping with him.
ALICE: No, we haven't slept together. Not because I didn't want to. I'm not sure he's interested in me that way.
CYNTHIA: That doesn't surprise me.
ALICE: He told me he's not gay. I guess I'm not his type or something. I mean, he treats me wonderfully, as a friend. I know, I shouldn't be talking this way.
CYNTHIA: Then why are you?
ALICE: I care for him, Cynthia. Sometimes it scares me how much I care for him.
CYNTHIA: Why are you doing this to yourself?
ALICE: Because I feel in my gut it's the right thing to do. It's like I had, what do you call it?, an epiphany like when I decided to go into treatment. You wake up one morning, and suddenly there's great clarity in your life.
CYNTHIA: I just don't want to see you get hurt.
ALICE: I'm taking it one day at a time, believe me. But at least I'm willing to take a risk with a man again. Even if he does end up rejecting me.
CYNTHIA: Alice, you hardly know him.
ALICE: Well, how do I get to know him unless I go out with him?
CYNTHIA: You shouldn't get into a relationship during your first year of sobriety.
ALICE: We talked about that, too. Neither of us have "relationship" in mind right now.
CYNTHIA: Boy, are you in denial!
ALICE: I think I'm thinking this through pretty well.
CYNTHIA: Just listen to yourself. Textbook denial.
ALICE: Cynthia are you jealous? Is that what this is about?
CYNTHIA: Jealous? You can grab a better straw than that.
ALICE: I finally have a reason to get dressed up, is all. And he's such a sweet man you've seen that yourself.
CYNTHIA: You don't have the slightest idea how I feel about him.
ALICE: You've always spoken well of him or at least until I started dating him.
CYNTHIA: You don't know the half of what is going on.
ALICE: What do you mean?
CYNTHIA: He's here, Alice, because I wrote and offered to rent him a room. I wrote him in prison.
ALICE: Ed told me everything. Hes innocent. Amy retracted everything.
CYNTHIA: I can prove hes guilty.
ALICE: You're going to have to, Cynthia, because I don't find this little joke of yours funny at all.
CYNTHIA: (She starts rooting through her purse) I've been carrying this around for ten years. Here read it.
(She hands Alice a folded, worn newspaper clipping. Alice starts reading.)
ALICE: I don't understand why you're doing this, Cynthia. It's as if you're jealous that I'm going out with him.
CYNTHIA: Read it. Barbara in the article is my sister. Was. She had a stroke four years ago. Heather is my niece.
ALICE: (reading to herself) Oh my God . . .
CYNTHIA: I went through the entire agonizing experience with her. The entire disgusting display of what justice is really about in this country today. How they completely ignore the victim, the rights and the feelings of the victimized. Heather was one of his music students. Just like this girl Amy. Heather could play like a child prodigy. We all expected great things of her.
Then Mr. Ramsey came along. Oh, he had a wonderful reputation as a music teacher, of course, and we certainly had no reason to suspect what he really was. A perpetrator, a pervert.
ALICE: It says here he didn't go to jail .
CYNTHIA: They call it plea-bargaining. They call it wheeling and dealing. They call it everything but what it really is a travesty of justice, a shameful slap in the face of the victims. Victims have no rights, none. It still disgusts me.
ALICE: What happened to Heather?
CYNTHIA: What do you think happened? Her life was ruined.
(CROSS FADE TO: Heather in neutral area, a street hooker, leering at the audience:)
HEATHER: (same actress as Amy) Hey, Mr. Music Man, what the hell you doing with Amy? She's a little old for you, isn't she?
(Ed moves into the area, as if in a dream.)
HEATHER: Man, she looks a hell of a lot older than 11 or 12 to me. What's going on with you, chasing the older stuff in your middle years? Thought you liked them young and pre-pubescent, all starry-eyed and full of that crap you tell them about their talent.
ED: You did have talent. You played violin beautifully.
HEATHER: You asshole. I'm not going to buy into that crap any more.
ED: I never lied to you.
HEATHER: Never told me what the fuck you had on your mind either pun intended. It was all just lies, you fucker, all sweet candy for the seduction.
ED: No! You had genuine talent.
HEATHER: Talent for spreading my legs for you. Talent for sucking your cock, much as it used to choke me. You were right about one thing I did get used to it. You'd be surprised how good I've gotten.
ED: Stop talking that way.
HEATHER: You want me to suck your cock, Mr. Music Man? Or is Amy taking care of that for you now?
ED: Stop it!
HEATHER: You telling her how good she plays the violin? Lying fucker.
(CROSS FADE TO: )
( where Cynthia and Alice have entered. Cynthia shows Alice a folder of other newspaper articles about the case.)
CYNTHIA: I have everything ever written about Mr. Ed Ramsey. I could write a book about him. He plea-bargained his way into a treatment program, and that was the end of it. What an obscenity. Four years later, look what happened, he did the same thing to Amy.
ALICE: Cynthia, she retracted everything.
CYNTHIA: I don't believe her. The poor girl, I don't think she knows what is real and what isn't. My niece didn't. Heather worshipped that man, which is exactly what they set out to do.
(Alice puts down the articles.)
ALICE: Cynthia, what are you going to do?
CYNTHIA: I'm not sure.
ALICE: I don't know what to think. I feel like I've got creepy-crawlies all up and down my skin.
CYNTHIA: You want to go out to dinner with this man?
CYNTHIA: It shouldn't be a hard question to answer, Alice.
ALICE: What if Amy is telling the truth?
CYNTHIA: Don't be ridiculous. You see how mixed up she is. She's still infatuated with him, just like Heather was.
ALICE: But what if he never abused her? She says her step-father did it. Ed says the same thing.
CYNTHIA: You can't give any credence to what he says!
ALICE: The girl changed her story.
CYNTHIA: Did you ever ask yourself why?
ALICE: Because she felt guilty.
CYNTHIA: Because she's infatuated with him! He's the only one who pays any attention to her.
ALICE: That's not the only explanation, Cynthia. I think Amy is telling the truth now.
CYNTHIA: Then thank God I invited her here. We'll find out soon enough.
ALICE: You invited her?
CYNTHIA I set up lessons again because I want to catch him at it. Then maybe they'll finally lock him up and throw away the key.
ALICE: That's using her as bait.
CYNTHIA: He's already destroyed her. The important thing now is to get him back in prison.
ALICE: What I'm hearing you tell me, Cynthia, is that you set them up with lessons together, hoping he would seduce her. I just don't understand how you could do something like that.
CYNTHIA: He's a monster. You don't comprehend that yet. The girl is obviously deluded. She'll probably do the seducing herself.
ALICE: Even if that's true, it doesn't justify what you're doing.
CYNTHIA: Who the hell's side are you on here?
ALICE: It's not a matter of sides. You have to face him about this, Cynthia, before it eats you alive inside. We can talk to him together if you like.
CYNTHIA: I can fight my own battles.
ALICE: I'm just asking you not to jump to conclusions.
CYNTHIA: You're blinded by infatuation.
ALICE: Don't sell me short, Cynthia.
CYNTHIA: It certainly feels like you're on his side. I feel like you're betraying me.
ALICE: I know how much pain you're feeling now.
CYNTHIA: You don't know shit about what I'm feeling.
ALICE: I'm shocked, Cynthia. I really am. When I talk to him, when I'm with him, I can't imagine he's capable of something like this. Maybe he's not any more, is all I'm saying or maybe he has those kinds of urges under control, because treatment is working for him.
CYNTHIA: I won't have obscenity like that spoken in my house!
(The door opens, and Ed and Amy walk in, laughing, looking almost like a couple.)
AMY: We found the best ice cream! I had this huge cone with "Colossal Chocolate" and "Monster Mocha.".
ED: And I settled for a dish of "Marionberry Matinee."
AMY: It was awesome.
ED: I'd say we discovered the best ice cream parlor this fair city has to offer. Wouldn't you agree?
(Ed finally notices that Cynthia and Alice are just staring at him.)
ED: Cynthia? Alice? Is something the matter?
(BLACKOUT. END OF ACT ONE.)
/ continuous action
(AT RISE: the same moment that ended Act One.)
ED: Is something the matter?
(Alice takes charge, speaking on her feet, trying to hustle Cynthia out of there before a spontaneous confrontation erupts.)
(When they leave, the newspaper articles remain on the coffee table.)
ALICE: Actually, we were just on our way to the store. So if you'll excuse us. Oh, Amy, can I talk to you a minute? I'll wait outside. I have a favor to ask.
ED: It was dinner at six, wasn't it?
ALICE: Six, right.
ED: I look forward to it.
(And Alice has Cynthia out of there.)
ED: What was that all about?
AMY: Is she your new girlfriend?
AMY: You're sure seeing her a lot.
ED: Which is no business of yours, is it? I have something to show you.
(Ed takes a letter out and hands it to Amy.)
ED: Does the name Hans Koeller mean anything to you?
AMY: Should it?
ED: Shame on you. I took you to hear him, remember? He's the first violinist with the symphony.
AMY: I don't remember. Are you in love with her?
ED: I have something important to discuss with you. This letter invites you to audition for the Junior Symphony.
AMY: I don't think she's your type.
ED: Did you hear what I said?
AMY: I don't think I'm ready for that.
ED: Not yet. But your progress is remarkable. Not only that Koeller will take you on as a student.
AMY: But you're my teacher.
ED: I don't think you realize what an honor this is. He does very little teaching any more. He's highly selective about who he takes on. I sent him one of your old tapes, and he was very impressed. I did tell him you're a little rusty.
AMY: Then I get two teachers?
ED: One. I'll be leaving town.
(Amy is clearly shocked and disappointed by this.)
ED: I have to find a job, Amy. I have an interview next week. It looks very promising.
AMY: So you're dumping me off on him? Great.
ED: This is an extraordinary opportunity for you, young lady. Koeller is very picky about who he takes on. Not only that, he's a graduate of Julliard and still has many contacts there. It's the opportunity of a lifetime.
AMY: You're my teacher.
ED: He can do much more for your career than I can.
AMY: I can't afford lessons from some big shot like that.
ED: Don't worry about it. I've already made arrangements with him.
AMY: So where are you moving to?
(Ed hesitates a moment before replying, thinking on his feet.)
ED: Seattle. I have a job interview next Friday.
AMY: You could take me with you.
ED: That's not possible. Even if Koeller wasn't interested, you still have school to finish.
AMY: I can finish school in Seattle.
ED: I'm not taking you to Seattle.
AMY: I can go there on my own.
ED: You wouldn't get far, once you're reported as missing. You're still a minor, young lady.
AMY: Not for long. When I'm 18, I can do anything I want. I'm not staying at home, that's for sure. I can follow you to Seattle and move in next door to you if I want. There's nothing you could do about it either. It's a free country.
ED: Amy, I know this must be very scary for you opportunities like this always are. They are also very rare. Studying with Koeller can be the most important thing that ever happened to you. He can pull a lot of strings for you.
AMY: If I can't study with you, maybe I won't study with anybody.
ED: You're being a selfish, foolish girl. It's a sin to waste a raw talent like yours.
AMY: I know what sin is.
ED: Amy, please, let the idea sink in. I can always visit and check on your progress. Your success is very important to me.
AMY: Why can't I have two teachers? Two's better than one. Why can't you find a job here?
ED: I'm still controversial here.
AMY: Then why can't I study with somebody in the Seattle Symphony? Seattle's bigger than here. It's much more important to study in Seattle.
ED: You are not going with me. That's my final word on the matter.
AMY: My final word is you can't stop me.
ED: Why are you doing this?
AMY: You're the one doing it. You get my confidence up again and then abandon me. You're just like my mother you're only nice when you want something from me.
ED: Amy, I'm not abandoning you.
AMY: That's what it feels like.
ED: It's not like I'm your father. I'm your music teacher and frankly, Koeller will be much better for you than I am.
AMY: You're the closest I've ever had to a father.
ED: Amy, please . . .
AMY: You think you can just walk out on me, and it won't mean a thing, right? You forgive me, you act like you care about me again . . . and then you just say goodbye . . . like it doesn't matter at all. I'm supposed to just go on like nothing happened, right?
ED: I didn't know you felt that way.
AMY: How couldn't you know?
ED: I need this job, Amy. I'm not abandoning you. I'll be able to come down often and see how you're doing.
(Amy is sulking.)
ED: You don't believe me?
AMY: Why should I believe you?
ED: Because I wouldn't lie to you.
ED: Because I care about what happens to you.
ED: Alice is waiting for you.
(Amy starts away.)
(She stops and turns.)
ED: I'd never do anything to hurt you.
(She doesn't respond.)
ED: This is the opportunity of a lifetime.
AMY: Then why is this the worst day of my life?
(Ed is upset by this turn of events. He goes to the tape deck and turns on music. String Quartet, high energy, frantic: the uptempo section of the THEME.)
(He comes back and sits on the divan. He sees the newspaper articles on the coffee table. He picks one up. He is shocked at what he's found. He quickly looks through them all, in growing panic. He drops them, a few falling to the floor. What to do? He gets to his feet and hurries to his room.)
(The MUSIC plays. Frantic.)
(Alice enters. She sees the articles on the floor. She picks them up, putting them back inside the manila envelope. She goes to the tape deck and turns it off. She turns and waits.)
(Ed enters, reacting to the new silence. They face one another.)
ED: You read the articles.
ED: That was ten years ago. I haven't been in trouble since.
ALICE: Why's Amy so upset?
ED: I told her I'm leaving town.
ALICE: What are you talking about?
ED: I have a job interview.
ALICE: You were going to go without telling me? You're just full of secrets, aren't you?
ED: Alice, I used to be very sick, but that was a long time ago. I went through treatment. I've been able to keep myself out of trouble since then, no matter what the law thinks.
ALICE: You told me you were innocent.
ED: I went to jail for something I didn't do. I've never touched Amy improperly. I'm in recovery, Alice. Just like you. I take it one day at a time. Just like you.
ALICE: Cynthia thinks treatment can't work with you. She thinks Amy is lying.
ED: But Cynthia's the only one who believes in me . . .
ALICE: She's been faking it, Ed. Don't you realize who Cynthia is?
ED: Apparently not. I thought she believed I'm innocent.
ALICE: Cynthia is Heather's aunt. The woman in the paper, the mother, is Cynthia's sister.
(Ed is too shocked to reply.)
ALICE: She set you up. She rented you a room so she could keep an eye on you. She thinks she wants revenge of some kind.
ED: She wouldn't like you telling me this.
ALICE: No, she wouldn't. I don't know who to believe any more. Everything's suddenly so complicated.
ED: It does get complicated. But it's also very simple.
ALICE: I can't picture you that way. I try but I just can't. Ed, is this why . . .?
ED: Ask whatever you want, Alice.
ALICE: Why you've never made a move on me? Only someone as young as Amy can arouse you?
ED: I care for you a lot, Alice.
ALICE: That's not what I asked.
ED: I've never laid a hand on Amy. It's the God's truth. Alice, I haven't been in trouble for ten years! I've learned how to, well, deal with certain thoughts without acting on them
ALICE: Then you still have thoughts?
ED: What do you want me to say, Alice? That I lust after young girls, that they're the only ones who get it up for me?
ALICE: It would seem so.
ED: Alice, I . . . I wanted so much to make love to you. I just couldn't. I was afraid I would fail. I don't know what else to tell you.
ALICE: I want to believe you, Ed.
ED: I'm telling you the truth.
ALICE: Maybe I can help you. But I need to know the whole truth.
ED: Most people don't want the truth. They want to hear what they expect you to say.
ALICE: What do they expect you to say?
ED: That I was abused as a child myself, how's that? You believe that? That I'm just perpetuating the cycle, that I'm a victim who makes other victims? That's something people expect you to say.
ALICE: I want the truth.
ED: Okay. I'm responsible for having done some horrible things in my life but I offer no excuses. I alone am responsible. That's what I'm living with, Alice. That's the horror I go to bed with.
ALICE: In AA, I had to admit I am powerless.
ED: Alice, I did those things, and I can't take them back. I'm not powerless. I'm responsible.
ED: Amy told me I'm the closest thing she's ever had to a father.
ALICE: Cynthia thinks she's infatuated with you.
ED: I'm sure that's part of it.
ALICE: And the rest?
ED: She knows how much I care for her.
ALICE: How much do you care for her?
ED: It doesn't matter. I'm leaving town. I have a job interview in San Francisco. I told Amy it was in Seattle. I was afraid she'd threaten to follow me which, in fact, she did. That's when she told me I'm like a father to her.
ALICE: How'd that make you feel?
ED: Are we in a meeting now, Alice? Sorry. That was uncalled for.
ALICE: Then you're leaving town?
ED: I can't get a teaching job here, Alice. What school would hire me after all the publicity?
(A beat. Ed just looks at her.)
ALICE: I'm confused. Then you still find Amy attractive? Desirable?
ALICE: My God . . .
ED: Does it shock you? You can relax. I was more attracted to her when she was 12.
ALICE: Then where's your progress?
ED: My progress is that I'm not acting on my feelings!
ED: Alice, the thoughts in my head used to drive me mad. I didn't want them there, but there they were, as big as life, thoughts and feelings of . . . it's hard to describe . .
ED: No. "Lust" doesn't do it. Not lust. Longing. Incredible longing. For connection to innocence, I think. Amy, Heather: young girls are so pristine. So untainted.
ALICE: Jesus . . .
ED: Alice, longing for innocence is not a crime. Thoughts are just thoughts. Feelings are just feelings. It's what we do with them that makes us sick or makes us well.
ALICE: What is "well" about wanting sex with a child?
ED: Nothing at all. That's the horror of it, if you act on such feelings and thoughts, you create the very opposite of the innocence that attracts you in the first place. It's a little like drinking, isn't it? Just because you think of drinking, Alice, doesn't mean you have to take a drink.
ALICE: Raping young girls is not like drinking. And just because you're not drinking doesn't mean you're sober either.
ED: We're talking about obsessive behavior here, Alice. We may have more in common than you think.
ALICE: I read somewhere that sex crimes have more to do with power than desire.
ED: That's one theory. There are others. All are probably partly true. None tell the whole story.
ALICE: You sound like someone in denial.
ED: The wonderful thing about denial is that there's no defense against it. If I say I'm not, if I deny denial, then saying so is used as evidence that I am.
ALICE: I definitely think you are.
ED: I think too much, I'll grant you that.
ALICE: About Amy?
ED: Christ. I'll forget you said that. About everything, Alice. About my life.
ALICE: Stop thinking and do something about it. Get back into treatment.
ED: Please don't patronize me.
ALICE: I thought you were patronizing me.
ALICE: Ed, I want to understand and I want to help.
ALICE: Because I've fallen in love with you.
ED: No, Alice . . .
ALICE: I know it's not mutual. I believe what you've told me, that you've stayed out of trouble, but I think you're in danger of relapsing if you don't get help.
ED: You said that already.
ALICE: Please don't push me away.
ED: Alice, I can only work on one thing at a time at the moment. That's why I'm leaving town. That's why I'm not letting Amy know where I'm going. We've been having too much fun this past week; we've been getting too close. I'm feeling things I haven't felt in a long time, things that scare me. I remember how much I used to desire her.
ALICE: You can't run from your feelings, Ed. You have to face them and deal with them.
ED: I have an interview in San Francisco. It's probably best if I leave as soon as possible.
ALICE: You can't do this alone.
ED: Then I'm sorry because right now it's the way I have to do it.
ALICE: I'm sorry, too.
ED: I'll be out of here first thing in the morning.
ALICE: I thought I meant more to you than this.
ED: What do you want from me, Alice?
(She goes to him, embracing him.)
ALICE: Let me help you.
(Ed pushes her away.)
ED: Alice, please . . . you don't understand what you're getting into.
ALICE: No, I'm sure I don't. But I do understand how much pain you're in. I know how much you need help.
(Ed moves away, changes the subject.)
ED: Where's Cynthia?
ALICE: Next door. I think she should spend the night with me.
ED: I understand.
ALICE: Give what you're doing some thought. You can't run away forever.
(Ed doesn't reply.)
ALICE: If you do decide to leave, please call me first. Ed?
ALICE: Call me any time.
(No reply. She leaves.)
(Ed is alone. CROSS FADE, with spot remaining on Ed, to Amy in her area, playing the THEME on her violin. Ed watches her. He turns to the audience:)
ED: Longing for innocence is not a crime.
( CROSS FADE TO: Cynthia in neutral area, a bar, speaking to the audience.)
CYNTHIA: There are times when the ends justify the means, they have to. Look at Hitler. If someone had killed him, had blown Hitler's brains out before he sent another trainload of Jews to their death, would anyone with human feelings feel bad about that? Or we would think, At last! someone finally had the courage to do what was right, someone had the balls to do what it takes to rid the world of Hitler. We would've given that person a goddamn medal.
(CROSS FADE TO: )
/ living room, that evening
(The doorbell rings. Ed comes into the room from his bedroom and goes to the door. It's Amy.)
AMY: What's going on?
ED: I'm not feeling well, Amy. I was just about to turn in early.
AMY: Alice didn't say you were sick. She said your date got called off because something came up.
ED: I wouldn't call it a date. We were going to dinner and a concert. What came up is, I'm not feeling well.
AMY: Then later she and Cynthia got in this big fight and Cynthia stormed off and went to town, and now Alice is looking for her, and I don't know what's going on. Why is everybody angry all of a sudden?
ED: Amy, another thing that came up is that I have to leave . . . leave for Seattle . . . first thing in the morning.
ED: (ignoring this) Have you thought about studying with Koeller?
AMY: I want to go with you. I could live where you're living, just like you were my real dad. I don't take up much space. I'd practice all the time with you around, I know I would.
(Ed goes to the table, where the envelope of articles remains.)
ED: There are some newspaper articles in here. I want you to go next door and read them. Maybe then you'll understand why you can't go with me.
AMY: What are they?
ED: Just read them.
AMY: I'll read them now.
ED: No. I don't want to be around when you do. You'll understand once you've read them.
AMY: Can't you just tell me what they say?
ED: Maybe it's better you hear it from me than from Cynthia.
AMY: Hear what?
ED: What the articles say is that I'm guilty, Amy. What I was sent to prison for I was guilty of that earlier, before I met you. It's a sickness I have, a deep psychological illness, and I was treated for it, and I'm much better now, mostly, but it's something like cancer, it can lie in remission and then suddenly flair up and become a serious problem again, so it's something I have to be alert about, always, and even though it's been a long time now since I've been sick that way, it never really goes away entirely and . . . just read the articles.
(He hands her the envelope. Amy doesn't know what to do with it. Suddenly she comes forward and embraces him, clutching onto him with a sense of desperation.)
ED: Amy, please . . .
AMY: You're just saying this to make me not want to go to Seattle with you.
(She kisses him passionately. Despite himself, Ed is getting aroused. He starts kissing back. Amy moves them to the divan, where they sit down, still clutched. Ed briefly breaks away.)
AMY: I love you.
ED: Amy, stop . . .
AMY: I want you.
(She stops him with a passionate kiss. The door opens and Alice walks in. She is shocked to see them embraced on the divan. Ed pulls away. Amy sees Alice and quickly stands up, straightening herself up. Then she hurries out of the house.)
ED: Alice . . . she flung herself at me . . .
(Alice just looks at him in shock. He gets up and picks up the articles.)
ED: Look, I gave her the articles to read. I tried to get her to understand. I didn't start anything, Alice. She got so upset when I told her I was leaving right away, she just flipped out and came on to me. I was as shocked as you are. I'm telling you the truth. Talk to her, you'll see how upset she is.
ALICE: I have a more immediate problem. Cynthia's drinking again. We had a fight and she drove to town. I went looking for her I thought she might be going to a meeting. It took me a while to try the bars. I just missed her in two.
ED: Is there anything I can do to help?
ALICE: Get a motel room for the night.
ED: If I help you look for her, we can cover twice as much territory.
ALICE: I came over to tell you to get out of here.
ED: I appreciate your concern.
(Alice turns to go.)
ED: Alice, I need to know that you believe me. I wasn't kissing her back.
ALICE: I'm sorry. I don't know who to believe any more.
(She exits. Ed turns to the audience.)
ED: I wasn't kissing her back.
(CROSS FADE TO: )
/ that night, a bar stool
(Cynthia faces the audience, sitting on a barstool. She is high.)
CYNTHIA: I would torture the sonofabitch. I would peel off his goddamn toenails one by one. I'd hope to God he'd never been circumcised so I could take a razor and slice off the goddamn foreskin myself, and maybe accidentally-on-purpose slip a little and take off an inch or two more while I'm at it.
It would be so goddamn easy. Zip, zip, zip! Cut up his face, make him look uglier than shit, look like the monster he really is. Make him so goddamn ugly anybody, any kid, any young girl, would take off in fright the minute she saw him. If he can't get close to them, he can't do shit, understand what I'm saying? Give him a face to match his morals.
(She is slicing the air with the knife.)
CYNTHIA: Zip, zip, zip!
(CROSS FADE TO: )
/ dark living room, that night, past midnight
(Ed is asleep on the divan. Heather appears, dressed like a street hooker, a figure in Ed's nightmare.)
HEATHER: Hey, Mr. Music Man, hello again! You sure got yourself in some deep shit this time. Man follows his cock, no telling where it will lead him.
(Ed sits up abruptly, sweating, waking out of a nightmare.)
HEATHER: Bet you thought you could get me out of your mind forever. You trying to forget me, Mr. Music Man?
ED: I'm so sorry.
HEATHER: Doesn't do it, asshole. I'm like a short circuit in the wiring of your brain, and you ain't never getting rid of me!
ED: I never wanted to hurt you.
HEATHER: Then what was I doing in the fucking hospital last week? Some John beat the crap out of me, broke my goddamn jaw. Man, you wouldn't believe the weird shit they want me to do. You'd be shocked as I remember, you weren't into much that was kinky.
ED: Dear God
HEATHER: I do draw the line this John who beat me up wanted to stick a lighted cigar up my pussy, you believe that shit? I told him to go fuck himself. But I get a kick out of some of the weird ones. Especially the Johns who want me to piss on them. There's poetic justice in doing that and believe me, I piss on those assholes real fine!
ED: I'm getting better. I really am.
HEATHER: Save that bullshit for a shrink. I gotta get back to work, Mr. Music Man. Unless, of course, I can do something for you. You need a blow job or something? You want a date?
(Heather exits. Ed collapses back on the divan and closes his eyes. A beat.)
(The living room door opens and Cynthia comes in, drunk. She's carrying a paper sack with a bottle in it. She sees Ed and moves close to him, staring down at him. She moves clumsily to the tape deck and turns on the music THEME.)
(Ed stirs. Cynthia sits and drinks. Ed sits up. He sees Cynthia.)
ED: I'll be leaving in the morning.
CYNTHIA: You sonofabitch. I bet you can talk your way out of anything. Or was it your goddamn lawyer who got you off?
ED: You should get to bed.
CYNTHIA: I'll go to bed when I goddamn feel like it. You want a drink?
ED: No thank you. I'm going to bed myself.
CYNTHIA: Wait a goddamn minute. We need to talk.
ED: Miss Bernstein, I learned who you really are and I know how terrible it must be for you
CYNTHIA: Cut the crap! You don't know shit.
ED: Ten years ago, I was a very sick man.
(She shakes her head in disgust.)
CYNTHIA: How about perverted?
ED: Yes, it's a perversion. But I can't erase the past. I can only deal with and live in the present.
CYNTHIA: They should lock you up and throw away the goddamn key.
ED: I can understand how you might feel that way.
CYNTHIA: You don't understand shit.
ED: I'm going to bed.
(He stands up.)
CYNTHIA: Wait a minute. I have something to say here. Sit down, for Christ's sake. You can give me that goddamn much.
(Ed sits back down. He watches her a moment, then turns away.)
CYNTHIA: So tell me who was the better student, Heather or Amy?
CYNTHIA: Who was your better student?
ED: That's difficult to say.
CYNTHIA: Heather played like an angel. Everyone said so. People more important than you said so. What do you think? Was Heather any good?
ED: That was so long ago
CYNTHIA: Everybody expected great things from her. Like Amy, I bet. People expect great things from her, don't they? I bet you have lots of special students like that. You get in all their pants, too, don't you? You sonofabitch . . .
ED: Miss Bernstein, you can't make me feel more guilt or horror at my past than I've already felt.
CYNTHIA: You ruined Heather's life. You ruined my sister, my family, my life . . .
ED: I wish there was a way I could take all that back but I can't. All I can do is make sure I never do anything like that again.
CYNTHIA: You glib sonofabitch.
(The door opens and Alice enters.)
ALICE: Cynthia, thank God you're all right!
CYNTHIA: Who the hell said I'm all right? If I'd murdered this sonofabitch, then I'd be great . . .
ALICE: Ed, please get out.
(Ed stands up.)
CYNTHIA: No! I'm not done with you.
ALICE: Cynthia, I want you to listen to me.
CYNTHIA: I'm going to figure out what the hell to do with you.
ALICE: Cynthia, listen to me!
CYNTHIA: You want a drink?
ALICE: No, and I think you've had plenty. Give me the bottle.
CYNTHIA: Go to hell.
ALICE: Don't do this to yourself.
CYNTHIA: I want to do something to Mr. Ramsey, don't you understand that?
ALICE: I understand how you feel. Ed, please go.
(Ed moves toward the door.)
CYNTHIA: No! You sonofabitch, you're lucky I'm a coward . . .
ED: I don't know what else I can say, Miss Bernstein. I've tried to do what amounts to a Ninth Step with you. Isn't that what you call it when somebody makes amends?
CYNTHIA: Make amends!
ED: We're all in recovery here. Or should be.
CYNTHIA: Coming from you, recovery sounds obscene.
ED: I take it one day at a time, just like you. And whether you like it or not, I've been out of trouble for ten years now.
CYNTHIA: You lying sonofabitch.
ALICE: I believe him, Cynthia.
CYNTHIA: What time is it?
(She moves toward the door.)
ALICE: Where do you think you're going?
CYNTHIA: I need a drink.
ALICE: You most certainly do not! I'm taking you into detox, Cynthia.
CYNTHIA: He wants to do a Ninth Step! You just never quit, do you?
ED: I know forgiveness is hard to give sometimes
ED: You can forgive yourself, for starters.
CYNTHIA: Forgive myself for what?
ED: For relapsing. For throwing five years of sobriety down the drain.
ALICE: Ed, just cool it, please.
ED: For letting anger fester in your belly until it explodes into self-destruction.
CYNTHIA: It's you I want to destroy!
ALICE: Stop it!
CYNTHIA: You're so goddamn glib, so goddamn smooth-talking, when you don't know shit about what my family has been through. You have no idea what it's like to be raped. Heather trusted you. Amy trusted you.
(In what follows, Cynthia keeps talking and Ed's lines and Alice's lines overlap until the indicated silence.)
CYNTHIA: They look up to you. You get them to believe that they're special, that they're talented, and the more you bullshit them, the more they trust you.
ED: I don't bullshit them.
CYNTHIA: They'll do anything for you. Because its inconceivable that you would hurt them, that's how deep the trust goes, that's how much they have come to need you, to need the attention and affection that you give them. I know what the hell I'm talking about. I worshipped him. I worshipped Mr. Baxter from the day I walked into his class.
(During the long speech below, Alice will move to comfort Cynthia, holding her in her arms by the end of the speech.)
CYNTHIA: I didn't understand why he gave me so much attention. Why he let me stay after school and help him. I only knew I felt special when I was with him, he was always telling me how smart I was, how creative I was, how unusual I was, and later how pretty I was and how desirable I was. He'd joke that he wished he was back in Jr. High himself, just so he could go steady with me. And I loved to hear that, I fed on that kind of flattery from him, so when he finally made his move, when finally one of our after-school rides, when he'd usually drive me home, always careful to drop me off a block away so my mother wouldn't notice; when finally we went to his house, not mine, and inside his house and into his bedroom, where he undressed in front of me, as if nothing unusual was going on at all, and then undressed me, like it was the most natural thing in the world, even then I wanted to please him, I wanted him to like me, and it wasn't until later, after several months had gone by, that the bad dreams began and I didn't want to do it with him any more, because I didn't understand it, and sometimes he was mean to me now, he was making demands of me now, and asking me to do things I never heard of anyone doing before, things I didn't want to do even though I still wanted to please him, always, but not by doing things that made me feel sick in my stomach, that tied nauseous knots in my stomach, like a physical gut reaction I had no control over, gagging when he put it in my mouth, screaming when he put it up my ass, I couldn't help it, I wanted to please him but I couldn't help not liking it, not pleasing him, and then he began to slap me, and demand more from me, until I no longer wanted to please him at all, I just wanted it to stop, I wanted to go away, to move away, to go anywhere he wasn't, and I hated him then, I hated him in a way that taught me what hate really was, and if he hadn't moved, if suddenly the new school year started and he was no longer there, no longer teaching, I think I might have killed him.
Or maybe I was already a coward, even then. Like I am now.
(Silence. Cynthia is exhausted in Alice's arms.)
ALICE: We're going to detox.
CYNTHIA: I'm so tired . . .
(Alice starts leading her to the door.)
ALICE: I'm so sorry you went through that. I wish you'd told me before.
CYNTHIA: I need some sleep . . .
ALICE: We'll be there before you know it.
(At the door, she turns to Ed.)
ED: I have a taxi picking me up at six in the morning.
ALICE: Will I talk to you before then?
ED: If you like.
ALICE: What about you? What do you like?
ED: You could come back after you drop her off.
ALICE: Let me think about it.
(She leads Cynthia out. Ed goes to his room. BLACKOUT.)
(KNOCKING on the door in the darkness. LIGHTS UP on: )
/the next morning, early
(Ed enters, carrying a suitcase. He answers the door. It's Amy.)
ED: I thought you were my cab.
AMY: Do you hate me?
AMY: I came up with a plan. Will you listen to it?
ED: Amy . . .
AMY: You could adopt me.
(This is the last thing Ed expected to hear. He almost has to smile.)
AMY: It would solve everything.
ED: I can't do that, Amy.
AMY: Why are you doing this to me?
ED: Because I care for you very much.
AMY: If you really loved me, you'd take me with you.
ED: Amy, life isn't always as kind and gentle and innocent, as pristine, as it should be. Your stepfather took your childhood away from you. Everyone gets hurt when that happens. All of us.
(Amy is silent and pouting.)
ED: Every time I hear Mendelssohn, I think of you. Because when I hear you play, I see a vision of a world unlike any I've ever known except in my imagination.
I used to think that when you imagine such a world, you can bring a little piece of it into being by acting on the feelings and thoughts of your imagination. But something horrible happens in the translation, Amy, something goes terribly wrong when you try to bring the imagination into the world with some kind of literal deed . . . except, perhaps, when the act is a work of art.
When you play music, Amy, you turn the world into a place I want to be and I'm glad to be alive. I don't know if I'm making any sense.
Amy, what do you feel when you're playing Mendelssohn?
ED: Yes, peace.
AMY: I love you.
ED: I know.
AMY: If I ask you something, will you tell me the truth?
ED: Of course.
AMY: Did you really do what they said you did?
ED: Yes, Amy, I did.
AMY: How could you?
ED: It's a sickness I have. But I'm getting better, I've been getting better for quite a while now.
ED: Do you hate me now?
(Amy shakes her head, no.)
ED: I hope not.
AMY: Did you ever think that way about me?
ED: (lying) No.
(He quickly stands up.)
ED: I have to get my other bag.
(He starts for the stairs. At the bottom of them he turns to speak to the audience.)
ED: (to audience) What the hell did you expect me to tell her?
(Amy waits. The door opens, and Alice enters.)
ALICE: Amy, are you all right?
AMY: He's getting his other bag.
ALICE: I asked how you were.
AMY: I'm great.
ALICE: No you're not.
AMY: He didn't do anything wrong when you came in before.
ALICE: I know.
(Ed comes back with his bag.)
ED: Cynthia get in detox okay?
ALICE: Shell be fine. I'd like to speak to you a moment, if I may.
ED: Of course.
ALICE: Wait in the car, Amy. I'll give you a ride home.
AMY: (to Ed) Will you write me?
ED: Of course I will.
AMY: I'll write you every day.
ED: She still may go to Seattle, thinking she's following me. I hope you'll take care of her.
ALICE: I can't keep her here if she's set on going. But I think we're becoming friends. I'll do what I can.
ED: Don't tell her where I really am.
ALICE: Not a chance, believe me.
ED: Say what you mean, Alice. If she found me, you think I'd fuck her brains out, is that it?
ALICE: You said it, I didn't.
ED: You people never quit, do you? You're determined to believe the worst. As if you could loathe me, loathe what I've done, more than I've loathed myself.
Can you imagine how many times I've thought of taking the easy way out? Good riddance, everyone should agree on that. If I killed myself, I'd be doing everybody a favor. But I haven't taken the easy way out because that would only get one perp off the streets, only yours truly, and there are a lot of us, Alice, hundreds and thousands of us, everywhere you look. Getting rid of me may make Cynthia feel good but what does it do to protect the children? Does it shock you that I care about the children? I do, more than you imagine, and getting rid of one perp won't cut it.
But if I change if I can show others that recovery works, that behavior can change maybe even "longing" can change, I don't know, I'm not there yet but if I can show in my own behavior that obsessive, selfish, destructive behavior can be stopped in its tracks then maybe I can inspire someone else to start treatment and change as well, Alice, and then we have two perps off the streets, and then maybe three and four and five . . .
That's why I haven't taken the easy way out.
ALICE: God, it's so hard to say what I'm feeling right now. I just want you to understand that I believe you, Ed about not being improper with Amy. And I think that means you've made an incredible positive step in your life. But it's just a start. You need to be back in a program.
ED: What I've been doing has been working, Alice. Mostly.
ALICE: You can't do it yourself.
ED: I appreciate your concern.
ALICE: Ill be praying for you.
ED: Thank you.
(There's an awkward moment, and then they embrace.)
(CROSS FADE to: )
(AMY in her area, playing the THEME on the violin. ED moves into his area, looking at her. Then he turns to the audience, and the music will fade out below and Amy disappear in darkness.)
ED: My name's Ed, and I'm a perp.
Cynthia once told me that the whole human race belongs in recovery. I think she has a point. Take denial, for example. The denial that people like me are, in so many ways, just like you.
Last week, when you looked out your kitchen window, that was me mowing the lawn next door. You waved, and I waved back.
Sometimes I bag your groceries at the supermarket. You tell me how your kids are doing in school. You tell me that corny joke you heard earlier in the week.
One summer I coached your boy's Little League team. Over the years, I taught both your daughters how to swim.
I've done many things in my life that I'm proud of. I won a Bronze Star on the battlefield. I was chosen Entrepreneur of the Year. Last Sunday I sang a solo in the church choir. Of course, I've also done things that horrify me. That's why "change" is the most important word in my vocabulary. "Change" is the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing on my mind at night. I don't expect you to understand me. I don't expect you to forgive me. I expect you to believe me when I say I'm in recovery, that I'm changing.
My name's Ed, and I'm a perp. Thanks for calling on me. Keep coming back.
(LAUGHTER in the darkness: LIGHTS UP on Heather, the hooker.)
HEATHER: Keep coming back! You got that right, Mr. Music Man the johns always come back!
(Ed looks at her in horror.)
HEATHER: Anybody want a date? Keep coming back!
(The THEME plays, rising. and BLACKOUT. The play is over.)