Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tell Me You Love Him

(A two-act play.)


Linda: A woman in her mid-forties. She once was a beauty but her body is marked by the ravages of childbearing and years of frustration—professional, sexual, perhaps also spiritual.
Roger: Linda’s husband, also in his mid-forties. Roger is tall, portly and carries himself with a slightly self-important air.





The bedroom of Linda and Roger’s suburban, split-level ranch. A suitcase is open on the bed. Linda is furiously rummaging through her closet and dresser for essentials, which she hurls into the maw of the suitcase. Roger follows her pitifully, trying to calm her down, trying to appeal to her in some way.

Linda: I’m going to destroy you.

Roger: How can you… Jesus. Linda.

Linda: I swear to God I’m going to get a lawyer and fucking destroy you, Roger.

Roger [imploringly]: Linda, Linda, Linda! Sweetheart. Linda.

Linda: Mark. My. Words.

Roger: Sweetie, sweetheart. Don’t.

Linda: I’m taking the house. I’m taking the other house. I’m taking the kids.

[Roger shakes his head in sorrow and frustration.]

Linda: I want the American Express. I want the Diners Club. I am going to take everything and destroy you. I hate you.

Roger: Stop. Please. Quiet. Stop.

[Linda pauses outside the closet, a loosely folded dress in her arms, and looks at Roger. A trace of a smile crosses her mouth.]

Linda: I always thought you were a faggot. [She turns around again and continues gathering clothes.]

Roger: Linda!

Linda: I should know.

Roger [angry now, gesticulating]: Just because I’m not the one who’s out there cheating on you! Fucking! Fucking other men!

Linda [as she bends down to pick up some shoes, not even bothering to turn to him]: You’d like to fuck another man.

Roger: Fuck you! What the fuck is wrong with you?

Linda: Faggot. I’m leaving you. [In a sing-songy voice] At. Once.

Roger: Linda. Linda, Linda!

Linda: I swear I will destroy you and leave you broke. And sad.

Roger: What did I do to you for Christ’s sake?!

Linda: If you have to ask me a question like that after all these years, well—

Roger: Yeah! That’s a fucking perfectly reasonable quest—

Linda [in a sighing tone]: Then I don’t know. Then I don’t know what to tell you, Roger.

Roger: Tell me something!

Linda: What do you want me to tell you.

Roger: Why!

Linda: Why what, Roger?

Roger: Why are you leaving? Honey?

Linda: You know why.

Roger: I should be the one to leave!

Linda: Then fucking leave.

Roger [enumerating with his fingers]: You fuck Sam Barnes. You fuck Kyle Gray. You fuck Aaron Wyatt! Aaron Wyatt!

Linda: So what?

Roger [shouting, breathless]: A man I play tennis with!

[Linda stares at Roger for few moments. She almost flashes a look of pity, but just as soon her face hardens again.]

Linda: You will never, ever, get it, Roger.

Roger: Get what?!

[Linda shrugs and continues packing.]

Roger [defiantly]: I could have fucked some women!

Linda [chuckling, bitterly sarcastically]: Right!

Roger: I could have fucked women! I could have fucked students!

Linda: Well you should’ve fucked ‘em then.

Roger [imploringly]: What the hell kind of thing to say is that? To say to your husband.

Linda: Not for long.

Roger: Not for long!

Linda: I'm going to divorce you, Roger.

Roger: Sweetie.

Linda: I'm going to divorce you within an inch of your life.

Roger: Honey. I don't want to fuck my students.

Linda: Not the female ones maybe.

Roger [livid]: I don’t want to fuck my students!

Linda: Don't flatter yourself, Roger. They don't want your tired, old cock. They don't want that inside of them.

Roger: Jesus, Linda.

Linda: Trust me.

Roger [still hot]: Sharon Lindstrom flirts with me in my office. I could FUCK her!

Linda [with a derisive guffaw]: Oh Miss New Hampshire? Miss New Hampshire runner up, 1969? In your dreams, mister!

Roger: I don't even want to fuck her!

Linda: No shit, Sherlock.

Roger [trembling with rage]: Stop it, Linda. Drop it. Stop it.

Linda [insouciantly]: Roger, I have long suspected that you're a homosexual. Those are the facts.

Roger [trying hard to compose himself]: If I were, how could I love you so much?

Linda: Beats the hell out of me.

Roger [screaming]: What’s the matter with you?! What happened to you?!

[Linda has her back to Roger and gives no reaction whatsoever. Roger paces, puts his hands on his hips and off them again, trying to calm down.]

Roger: I'm going to marry Susan Perotti.

Linda [matter-of-factly, surprisingly unsarcastic this time]: Roger, honestly. I talk to Susan. She's my friend.

Roger: I'm going to fuck her and I'm going to marry her!

[There is a pause, almost as though Linda did not hear Roger.]

Linda: Whatever floats your boat.

Roger: I could!

Linda: No you couldn't. You can't. And you won't.

Roger [suddenly grabbing Linda’s arm]: Do you love him?!

Linda [trying to jerk away]: Let go of me!

Roger: Do you LOVE HIM?!

Linda: What do you think?!

Roger: Do you LOVE him?

[Linda closes her eyes. Her body deflates slightly. She seems like she’s on the verge of either tears or laughter.]

Linda: I'm very fond of him.

[Roger lets go of her arm and turns away.]

Roger: Do you love me?

Linda: I'll do you one better: I hate you.

Roger: Come on. Come on now. That's not true.

Linda: Suit yourself.

Roger: Do you love me?

Linda: I fucking hate you.

[A few seconds pass. Linda finishes packing and zips up her suitcase.]

Roger: Tell me you love him.

Linda [softly]: I need to get to the airport.

Roger: Tell me you love him.

Linda: I'm very fond of him. I need to get to the airport.

Roger: Tell me you love him.

Linda: Roger, stop being a baby. I need to get to the airport.

Roger: We're not going anywhere until you tell me you love him.

Linda [with pointed perfunctoriness]: I love him. Let's go.

[Linda walks out the bedroom door. Roger waits for a second, appearing a bit helpless, then picks up her suitcase and follows her.]




Same as Act 1.

[Roger and Linda reenter the bedroom. Roger places the suitcase back on the bed, where it was before. Linda proceeds to unpack as Roger sits on the edge of the bed and slowly takes off his shoes and socks. About a minute passes.]

Linda: You hungry?

Roger: No. Yeah. A little bit, yeah.

Linda: Lemme unpack and I can fry us some eggs.

Roger [lying back on the bed wearily]: Sure. Great. Thank you, sweetheart. That'd be great.

[Another minute or so passes as Linda finishes unpacking. When she’s done she places her suitcase on the floor by the wall and sits on the edge of the bed to remove her shoes.]

Roger [slightly nervously]: You gonna put away your suitcase?

Linda [placing one hand up to Roger in a “pushing back” gesture]: I’ll put it away tomorrow, honey.

Roger [with slightly exaggerated deference]: OK! OK, OK, OK.

[A few seconds pass.]

Linda: Carson's on.

Roger: What?

Linda: Carson's on?

Roger: Oh sure. Yeah.

[Roger takes the remote control from his bedside table and turns on the TV. The opening theme of the “Tonight Show” can be heard. Roger stares dully at the screen.]

Linda: OK. Eggs. Toast?

Roger: Yeah sweetie. That's great.

Linda: Jam on one piece or jam on both pieces?

Roger: Jam on one piece.

Linda: OK—

Roger: No, jam on both pieces.

Linda: OK. Raspberry or peach?

Roger [after a beat]: Peach.

Linda: OK.

[Linda turns toward the door and begins to move away when Roger stops her, putting his hand on her arm.]

Roger: Kiss?

[Roger and Linda kiss lightly, dispassionately. Linda exits. Roger looks back toward the TV as Johnny Carson continues his monologue. A few seconds pass with Roger watching the show, apparently absorbed by it.]