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Where do we live. (American Theatre Playscript).

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT Christopher Shinn was born in Hartford and lives in New York. His other plays include Four (Royal Court, Manhattan Theatre Club), Other People (Royal Court, Playwrights Horizons), The Coming World (Soho Theatre, London) and What Didn't Happen (winter 2002, Playwrights Horizons). He currently has commissions from the Royal Court, South Coast Repertory and Mark Taper Forum. He has received grants from the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights (Hartford Stage Company) and the Peter S. Reed Foundation. He has also received the Robert Chesley Award. Christopher is a member of New Dramatists, Usual Suspects, Vineyard Community of Artists and Dramatists Guild. He studied dramatic writing at NYU with Tony Kushner, David Greenspan, Maria Irene Fornes, and fiction writing at Columbia with Michael Cunningham, Jessica Hagedorn and Sigrid Nunez. Christopher also studied acting at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts with John Dias.

ABOUT THE PLAY Where Do We Live received its world premiere at the Royal Court Theatre (Ian Rickson, Artistic Director) in May 2002. The production was directed by Richard Wilson. Design was by Julian McGowan, lighting design was by Johanna Town, sound design was by Paul Arditti and music was composed by Olly Fox. The production featured Nicholas Aaron, Noel Clarke, Toby Dantzic, Daniel Evans, Adam Garcia, Cyril Nri, Ray Panthaki, Jemima Rooper and Susannah Wise.

CHARACTERS

Stephen--white, late twenties.

Patricia--white, late twenties.

Tyler--white, late twenties.

Billy--white, late twenties.

Shedrick--black, early twenties.

Timothy--black, early forties.

Lily--white, mid-twenties.

Dave--white, late teens.

Leo--Asian, mid-twenties.

Young Businessman 1--white, late twenties,

Young Businessman 2--white, late twenties.

Young White Guy--white, mid-twenties.

Young White Man--white, late twenties.

Security Guard--black, early forties.

Violinist--Asian, mid-twenties.

Young Art Student--white, mid-twenties.

TIME

As indicated.

PLACE

New York City.

NOTE

A slash in the text (/) indicates overlapping dialogue or action.

WHERE DO WE LIVE

PROLOGUE

Nigger, respect the game

that should be it

What you eat

don't make me shit

--Jay-Z

"Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)"

SLIDE: "August 9, 2001"

1. A bar. Patricia works behind the bar. Two Young Businessmen sit at the bar, looking up at stock quotes on the television. Stephen sits a few stools away, with soda, smoking.

PATRICIA: Oh. Of course.

STEPHEN: And he said, "Ooh, you don't want to be a caretaker."

STEPHEN: And I thought--I mean, the guy's missing a leg, what?...

PATRICIA: Of course you did.

STEPHEN: And he knew the facts.

PATRICIA: What are the facts exactly?

Patricia listens while filling pretzel bowls.

STEPHEN: Well. When I moved in, I just noticed--a family. There was a woman-and there was a man--and a kid--not a kid--maybe eighteen. So one day the woman disappears--I never see her again, and the father--when I see / him next

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1: One more round here, Patricia.

Patricia pours two whiskeys.

PATRICIA (Nodding to TV, pouring drinks): You guys losing money today?

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: You're a loser if you're losing / money

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1: You gotta be crazy to lose money in this market.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2 (Nodding toward Stephen): What's your boyfriend's name?

PATRICIA (Laughs, gives whiskeys to men): Here you go. (Patricia goes back to Stephen, keeps refilling pretzel bowls) So the woman disappears.

STEPHEN:--Right. And then, the man, the father, he has no leg suddenly. I see him, he has no leg below the knee.

The bar phone rings. Patricia answers.

PATRICIA: Hello?

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1 (To Patricia): Ah, that's your boyfriend.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2 (To Stephen): She have a boyfriend? She never tells us.

PATRICIA: Okay.

Patricia hangs up.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: You ready to invest yet, Patricia?

PATRICIA: I'm already in the stock market--it goes up, I get good tips, if it goes down I know it's gonna be a bad day.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1: You're lucky Bush got in.

PATRICIA: Right, yeah, thank God.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1: More money for you!

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: Three hundred dollar tax refund, what is that, how many tips is that? How many drinks you have to serve to get that?

Patricia goes back to Stephen. The businessmen laugh.

PATRICIA: Okay, so.

STEPHEN: Anyway--I can't tell for sure, but I think the kid, I think the kid is dealing drugs out of the apartment, because I see people go in there during the day--white people--so that's the / situation basically.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1 (Regarding the TV): Bingo. I told / you

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: Yeah, yeah, it'll drop, just / watch

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1: I don't / think so

STEPHEN: Anyway--the father--knocks on my door maybe once a week and asks me for cigarettes, and I give him a few. This has never seemed to bother Tyler-until--The phone rings. Patricia answers it.

PATRICIA: Hello?

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2 (To Stephen): What do you do?

STEPHEN:--I'm a writer.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1: Oh yeah? A screenwriter?

STEPHEN: No, not a / screenwriter

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: You should write a story about us. I'm / serious

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1: Yeah, this guy's life is screwed up, let me / tell you

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2:--Two guys, one of them gets laid all the time, the other one can't! get laid

STEPHEN (Amiably): Maybe I will.

PATRICIA: Okay, gotcha. (She hangs up and goes to Stephen, starts drying glasses) Sorry. "This has never seemed to bother Tyler--until--"

STEPHEN:--The other night. So the father knocks on my door. He needs to go to the deli. It's raining outside and he's afraid his crutches will slip. He tells me if he falls on his leg--the amputated leg, the remaining part of it--he'll be in really bad trouble. So I help him--I go with him--to the deli. And as we're walking, he starts talking. Telling me he's worked his whole life, he can't work anymore, he's on Social Security...Anyway, so he buys his stuff, I help him back up to his apartment--the end. And I tell Tyler this, I tell him this, and his response is--and this is his instinctive response--"Oooh, be careful, you don't want to become a caretaker."

PATRICIA: I see. (Beat; sincerely) Do you love this person?

STEPHEN: Do I love him? Yeah-yeah. I do. I really / do. (Stephen's cell phone rings. He checks the number, answers) Hey sweets. Nothing, just stopped by to see Patricia. Yeah? Okay. Okay great. Bye.

He hangs up.

PATRICIA: It's funny--because from what you've told me about him, he's been taken care of.

STEPHEN: What?

PATRICIA: Was that him by the way?

STEPHEN: Yeah.

PATRICIA: You told me that he has a trust fund. He's never had to worry about money.

STEPHEN: Right?

PATRICIA: He's been taken care of. So why was he threatened by your taking care of someone?

STEPHEN: Oh--right. Hunh. (Beat)--It made me think about empathy.

Patricia clears Stephen's empty soda, wipes down the bar.

PATRICIA: Uh-huh?

STEPHEN: Just...what it is. How it comes to be. On an individual level, a societal level...how do you imagine other people, their lives--whether it's someone you love or someone you don't--a stranger. --I should get going, we're "clubbing" tonight. --I guess it's really a small thing to get so worked up about.

PATRICIA: No it's not. (Beat) I mean--the way you spoke of it, it doesn't sound like a small thing to you.

Pause.

STEPHEN (Lightly): Yeah. Okay. I'll see you soon. Stephen puts down money for his soda.

PATRICIA: Shut up.

Stephen laughs and takes his money back, goes off.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1 (To Patricia): Blah blah blah, Jesus that guy can talk. --Is he gay, that guy?

PATRICIA (Teasingly): What do you think?

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2 (To 1): I told you he was.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1: He's a writer like you, / huh?

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: --You know Patricia, there's this whole trend of attractive women hanging around gay guys, I saw a thing about it on TV.

PATRICIA (Laughing): Is that so? This is a trend now?

The men rise, take out money, preparing to go.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: Yeah, but's it not healthy, they're afraid of real men, they've been hurt too many times, so they take comfort in gay men. But it's bad, you're / cutting off from

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1: Don't listen to this / guy, Patricia.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: What? It's just an / observation

PATRICIA: I actually have a boyfriend, but thank you for your concern.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: You do. Truth is out. --That's a lucky guy. What's his name?

PATRICIA: Frank.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: What's he do?

PATRICIA: He's a chef.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2: A chef? What kind of money do chefs make?

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1 (He starts going): We'll get out of your hair, Patricia.

PATRICIA (Laughing): Take care, you guys.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1: But I'm serious, Patricia, you'll be voting Republican by the time we're through with you.

PATRICIA: Yeah, right.

YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 2 (Going): Hey, whenever you're ready to invest some money, you talk to me first, okay?

PATRICIA: Gotcha.

PART ONE

I wish to examine the place, using work in an abstract sense, where we most of the time are when we are experiencing life...If we look at our lives we shall probably find that we spend most of our time neither in behavior nor in contemplation, but somewhere else. I ask: where? And I try to suggest an answer.

--D. W Winnicott, Playing and Reality

2. Stephen's apartment. R & B music plays. Stephen is dressing. A knock on his apartment door. Stephen turns down music and opens the door.

YOUNG WHITE MAN: Your elevator is scary, yo!

STEPHEN: Sorry?

YOUNG WHITE MAN: Oh, fuck (Looks down hall)--have the wrong apartment.

STEPHEN: Oh.

YOUNG WHITE MAN: Sorry!

STEPHEN: That's okay.

Stephen shuts the door. He begins dressing and singing and dancing as he does. There is another knock on the door. He goes to the peephole and looks in.

STEPHEN: Hello?

SHED'S VOICE: Yeah, open up a minute?

STEPHEN: I'm sorry, who is it you're looking for?

SHED'S VOICE: I'm your neighbor, 'cross the hail. Pause. Stephen opens.

STEPHEN: Hi.

SHED: Hey, 'sup.

STEPHEN: Not much.

SHED: Yeah. Naw, 'cuz I know you help us out over there.

STEPHEN: Right?

SHED: Yeah. You know, I just wanna say, we appreciate that, you helping us out.

STEPHEN: Oh. It's not a problem.

SHED: But--you know--we okay, we take care of ourselves.

STEPHEN: Uh-huh.

SHED: You know how it is, we all live together, we all neighbors.

STEPHEN: Uh-huh.

SHED: Naw, 'cuz it's good to know, you know--everybody let everybody live their lives up here...

STEPHEN: Right.

Pause.

SHED: That's all. Peace.

Shed extends his hand. Stephen takes it. Shed shakes, releases.

STEPHEN: Bye.

Shed goes. Stephen shuts the door.

3. Shed's apartment. He enters, goes to couch where Lily (who speaks with a British accent tinged with a black, American urban sound) sits. They are sharing a joint. Shed resumes counting money; Lily is reading a movie magazine. The TV is on. There is a lock box on the table with cash and cocaine in it.

SHED: Did I put the money in here?

LILY: What'd the faggot say?

LILY: What money?

SHED: Where'd I put the / fifty dollars (Shed's cell phone rings. He looks at the number, answers) What. No. Not here. I told you. No. Peace.

He hangs up.

LILY: Was that Dave?

SHED: No, it was the boys, looking to party.

LILY: That wasn't Dave?

SHED: I told them, find somewhere else. Keep calling... (Reaches in back pocket, finds cash) There.

LILY: --What'd the faggot say?

SHED: He harmless.

LILY: Is Dave with Maryanne tonight?

SHED: --He fine, just spoke a minute. He not gonna call anybody, he scared.

LILY: Is Dave with Maryanne tonight?

SHED: I don't know, Lily.

LILY: What did I do?

SHED (Picking up cash, counting): --I gotta get that number from Dave.

LILY: What number?

SHED: He said, this one night we went to this hotel--he said he knew the guy who managed the bar in the hotel. You never went there with him?

LILY: No.

SHED: Amazing. I thought--way people spending money in/there

LILY: Fucking Maryanne.

SHED: 'Cuz I can't anymore--sitting here all day, never going outside, worrying about cops, people in the building knowing what's going on, calling the cops. In the hotel--watching people spend their money--so many people there, they gotta be hiring/people...

LILY (Looking back at magazine): Do you like Nicole Kidman?

SHED: You know? Out of hand with this. (Gesturing toward Stephen's apartment) Like what if he called. What if he--what if he just called the police and said there's a kid in 6C dealing/drugs?

LILY: You just said he's harmless. Do you like Nicole Kidman?

SHED: Next time Dave comes I just gotta tell him, find someone else. But if he could set me up with I that hotel guy

LILY: Dave likes you, he always talks about you, "Shed Shed, Shed's my boy."

SHED: That's why, you just gotta stop, you know, otherwise it keeps going.

LILY: You get paid crap. In hotels you get paid crap, they're all Mexicans/who aren't even

SHED: Whatever, I got money saved now. Saved, so I don't need to--what I need. That's the thing, you just gotta stop thinking you can just keep/making more

LILY (Giggling): "Shed's my boy, my boy downtown."

SHED: I fucking--I was a mover before. You know being a mover? Your back? In the summer? Fucking, people barking at you, elevators too small to fit all the heavy shit, people all freaking out you're gonna scratch their stuff, antique/whatever

LILY: I have to see Moulin Rouge again.

SHED: How many times you gonna/see that movie?

LILY: Ewan McGregor...Do you think Nicole Kidman's pretty?

SHED (Continuing counting): She all right...

LILY: She's pretty, but do you think she's sexy?

SHED (Putting down cash): Five.--It's like, people too ambitious--like all that shit the boys talk--"I'm gonna marry this girl." "I'm gonna get a recording contract." Why don't you lay down one song first. Why don't you try fucking the bitch more than two months?

LILY: Me and Dave were together for three months. Maryanne thinks she/can just

SHED: He fucked you for three months, you not together.

LILY: You've only known me one month, what do you know?

SHED: People don't-like--things happen for real, happen slow. People talking/shit

LILY: Can I play a game?

SHED: Whatever, I don't care.

Lily turns on video game, gets controller. Shed counts money. Timothy enters from back, using crutches.

TIMOTHY: Oh, you're not watching TV? I thought I heard the TV.

Lily starts playing, Shed keeps counting, neither looks at him. Timothy goes off.

SHED: Five.

LILY: How many times you going to count the money, Jesus Christ!

SHED: Just making sure.

LILY: I can never get to the next level.

SHED: Just making sure he not skimming from me.

LILY: You keep it locked up, how's he gonna take any? I can't get to the next level.

SHED: Maybe he find the extra key. What else he do all day besides eat and fucking watch TV.

LILY: I don't know what I did.

SHED (Looking up to TV): You gotta press down then up. You don't do a double leap to get! to the gold rings--

LILY: No, Dave. I don't know what I did to Dave.

SHED: You didn't do nothing.

LILY: He's not calling me! Fuck. (She puts down controller, goes to couch, cuddles Shed) Is it the same as the last twelve times you counted it?

SHED (Laughs): Yeah. (Lily begins licking his neck) Lily. (She reaches for his crotch) No. He pushes her hand away.

LILY: "No."

SHED: Nothing happening.

LILY: I don't believe you.

SHED: You know, no.

LILY (Moving to his chest, touching him): I just want to give you a blow job, what's the big/deal?

SHED: Stop, Lily.

She sits up.

LILY: You won't let me have a bump?

SHED: I'm done with that here, I told you.

LILY: One bump.

SHED: No.

LILY: "No." Just one.

Timothy enters, eating.

TIMOTHY: You done playing? You gonna watch TV?

SHED (Not looking at him): Why you be awake all hours, at night you supposed to sleep.

TIMOTHY: I ran out of cigarettes.

Shed calmly lights a cigarette and smokes.

Timothy walks toward door.

SHED: Now where you going?

TIMOTHY: Get a cigarette 'cross the hall.

SHED: He not there, he left.

TIMOTHY: How do you know?

LILY (Laughs): Shed knows everything.

SHED: I heard him go out.

TIMOTHY: Maybe he came back, maybe he just went to the deli.

SHED: He not there. (Pause. Timothy goes off, back to the bedroom. Shed goes to the door, looks out peephole) Giving him cigarettes and shit, giving him shit all the time--he need to mind his own fucking business. He thinks anytime he wants something he can just knock on the door. Prepared for nothing in his life (Turning back to Lily), now he can't fucking--Shed sees Lily has her cell phone out, is dialing, oblivious.

4. A (relatively) quiet area of a club. Stephen stands next to Leo, who is Asian. Pause.

LEO: It's so over, isn't it?

STEPHEN: What?

LEO: All of it.

STEPHEN: Oh.

LEO: You didn't look like you were having a good time, so.

STEPHEN: I'm just looking for someone.

LEO: Who?

STEPHEN: I'm trying to find my boyfriend.

LEO: Oh, you lost him?

STEPHEN: I just got here--I can't find him.

LEO: Are you on anything?

STEPHEN: Sorry?

LEO: Are you on any drugs?

STEPHEN: No.

LEO: Drugs are kind of over, too, aren't they? What are we rebelling against except our own feelings?

STEPHEN: Good question.

Pause. Stephen looks around.

LEO: What's your boyfriend like?

STEPHEN: What does he look like?

LEO: No--what is he like?

STEPHEN: He's sweet, he's sensitive...

LEO: Do you love him?

STEPHEN: I do. (Looking) There's so many people.

LEO: And the lights. And everyone looks the same.

STEPHEN: Uh-huh.

LEO: Or it's just that I look so different.

What do you do?

STEPHEN: I'm a writer.

LEO: Cool--you're smart!

STEPHEN: I guess.

LEO: I'm in grad school--American studies. Whatever that is. Is your boyfriend white?

STEPHEN: He is.

LEO: I don't know why I keep coming here--I have no access. I'm totally ignored because I'm not blond and built and--it's like, it's so clear here, like--who cares what we do in this world--it's all how you look. Who cares who speaks at our funeral. Just go to the gym and sign up, buy the right clothes.

STEPHEN: Uh-huh...

LEO: --I look at this and it's like--how can you even believe in homophobia? Gay people are supposed to be oppressed but--come on. I mean, I believe in oppression--I believe, like, that Iraqis are oppressed and whole continents are oppressed in brutal ways--but this? --But I guess oppression is tricky, it's invisible now, more indirect, harder to define. Who do you blame if you can't tell who's oppressing you-you can't have a rally against invisible forces. And why would anyone here want to believe they're oppressed? It's not a pleasant way to live.

Stephen looks around. Leo's nose starts to bleed.

LEO: I guess I'm talking mostly about myself. I guess I just wish I could disappear like everyone else here. Or maybe it's the opposite--maybe I just wish someone would look at me. I'd like to have someone who says he loves me looking for me! Maybe I should just join the gym and dye my hair blond.

Stephen looks at Leo.

STEPHEN: Oh--are you okay?

LEO: What?

STEPHEN: Your nose is bleeding, I think. Leo touches his lip, feels blood.

LEO: Oh fuck!

Leo runs off. Stephen sees Tyler, rushes toward him. The music is deafening.

TYLER: OH--HEY!

STEPHEN: HI!

TYLER: YOU'RE HERE!

STEPHEN: I TRIED CALLING! I GUESS YOU COULDN'T HEAR YOUR PHONE!

TYLER: WHAT?

STEPHEN: NOTHING. YOU LOOK GREAT!

TYLER: THANK YOU YOU TOO. SO--THE PLAN CHANGED A LITTLE. I WASN'T GOING TO--BUT I ENDED UP TAKING ECSTASY.

STEPHEN: OH.

TYLER: IT'S ACTUALLY BEEN TERRIBLE--NOT THE ECSTASY BUT--LET ME FIND BILLY AND TELL HIM I'M LEAVING. IS THAT OK?

STEPHEN: WHY ARE YOU HAVING A TERRIBLE TIME?

TYLER: LET ME FIND BILLY.

Tyler goes off. A young white man comes to Stephen and begins dancing, somewhat seductively, but with a ridiculous seriousness. Stephen dances with him, politely, avoiding eye contact. The man demands to be seen, keeps dancing into Stephen's vision. Stephen smiles and dances away from the man. The man follows him. Stephen goes back to the quiet area of the club. The man dances away. Leo returns, holding a napkin to his nose, pinching, checking.

LEO: Thanks for telling me.

STEPHEN: Oh--yeah--

LEO: What do you write about? One of my areas of study is queer representation.

STEPHEN: I actually can't really talk, I found my boyfriend, so...

LEO: Oh, you found him?

STEPHEN (Sees Tyler, turns briefly back to Leo): Nice to meet you.

LEO: You're going?

Stephen goes back into the loud part of the club.

TYLER: HEY--WHERE DID YOU GO?

STEPHEN: WHAT?

TYLER: WERE YOU TALKING TO SOMEONE?

STEPHEN: NO.

TYLER: WHO WAS THAT?

STEPHEN: NO ONE.

TYLER: SO--UM. THERE'S A PROBLEM.

STEPHEN: WHAT?

TYLER: WHAT?

STEPHEN: WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

TYLER: WELL--WE JUST STARTED PEAKING? SO BILLY'S LIKE, WHY AM I LEAVING NOW, WHEN WE JUST STARTED PEAKING.

STEPHEN: COME TO THE QUIETER PART!

TYLER: WHAT?

Stephen pulls him, they go to the quieter part of the club. Leo sits some feet away, watching.

STEPHEN: What's going on?

TYLER: It's kind of a long story.

STEPHEN: You said you're having a terrible time?

TYLER: Well it's this whole thing. Michael's here, and you met Michael, and his boyfriend Russell, and there are these two guys, Keith and Derek who you don't know I don't think.

STEPHEN: Uh-huh?

TYLER: Anyway, so we were all dancing, me and Billy and all six of us basically, and, Billy's had a crush on Keith for a while. So basically Michael and Russell start dancing in their own world, so it's me and Billy and Keith and Derek.

So I'm dancing with Derek because it's clear Billy wants to dance with Keith. Then Derek starts dancing with some random guy, and he disappears. So it's me and Billy and Keith, and I don't, I don't mind dancing in my own world, so I just drift away a little so Billy can dance with Keith. Also we did some coke. Anyway. So I'm dancing in my own world, but Keith keeps dancing towards me--but not just dancing towards me, he's doing this move, this really, like, provocative move, this kind of "dance-walk"?

STEPHEN: Uh-huh...

TYLER: Sort of...he'll dance-walk towards Billy, but at the last moment, at the moment he gets to Billy, it's kind of a diva move, just as he reaches Billy he turns away and dances back towards me. So he's going between me and Billy, but he's dancing more with me--he just, it's sort of like he's teasing Billy. And Billy says to him, he grabs him and says, "Why won't you dance with me?" and Keith's like, "What are you talking about?" So Billy tells him to fuck off. Just says fuck off. And Keith just up and walks away. And I say, "I guess it's just me and you," and Billy says, "No, it's you and Stephen and fuck you too." And then I saw you--Billy enters.

BILLY: --Hey.

Tyler stands, moves to Billy; Stephen hangs back. Leo looks at him.

TYLER: Hey.

BILLY: I can't believe you're going.

TYLER: I don't--

BILLY: You don't make a plan for an evening and then bail out.

TYLER: Billy, you told me to--

BILLY: Just stay, we made a plan. Come on.

TYLER: I just...Stephen doesn't want to stay, he doesn't really like clubs...

Young white man enters, sits next to Leo. Leo hides his napkin.

LEO: Hi!

Young white man nods.

BILLY: Fine. Go play boyfriend.

TYLER: Billy...

BILLY: And this fucking E I got sucks.

Pause.

TYLER: Bye.

Tyler goes back to Stephen. Billy stays where he is. Stephen rises and Tyler and Stephen go off. Billy looks briefly at Leo, then makes sustained eye contact with young white man. Billy goes off. The young white man follows him. Leo watches, then looks around.

5. Stephen and Tyler enter the hall, moving to the apartment.

STEPHEN (Playfully): I have something to show you.

TYLER: You do?

STEPHEN: Yeah, but you have to be a good boy. (He opens the door; they kiss briefly before going inside) Okay, sit down.

Tyler pulls Stephen down to the couch, starts fondling him.

TYLER: I know what you have to show me.

STEPHEN (Laughing): No, stay here. (Stephen goes off. Tyler glances down at an open book on the couch. Stephen returns, sits down on the couch and takes out pictures) The weekend!

TYLER: Oh, you got them done! Yay! (They look at pictures, flipping through)--They were so nice. We should send that to them.

STEPHEN: --And there's everyone.

TYLER: --God, that house.

STEPHEN: --And the cat.

TYLER: Evil animal. --Oh, you took a picture of the cute boy.

STEPHEN (Laughing): You were the one who said he was cute!

TYLER: I did not. --Oh, there's a cute boy.

STEPHEN: Isn't that great! I love that picture of you.

TYLER: My eyes are puffy.

STEPHEN: No! (Rising) I'm gonna put it in my frame, by the bed.

TYLER: Okay--hey, can I have the one of us that's in there?

STEPHEN: Sure.

Stephen goes off to his bedroom. Tyler picks up the open hook. Stephen returns with the picture and frame, sits. Tyler reads from the book:

TYLER: "In the end, a whole vast area of Central Africa was completely transformed, not by the actions of some power or international organization--"

STEPHEN: It's such a good little book, this British historian Eric Hobsbawm...

TYLER (Reading with a bad upper-class British accent): "Everyone got involved: Paris, Washington and the United Nations. Everyone tried to mediate and, I am told, there were as many as thirteen different mediators in Rwanda. However, it all proved to be inadequate." (He puts down the book) Did I tell you about this audition tomorrow?

STEPHEN: No. What's it for?

TYLER: This TV show? Want a massage?

STEPHEN: Sure!

Tyler massages Stephen.

TYLER: It's not terrible. It's about this kind of loser kid in a small town who learns he has special powers.

STEPHEN (Derisively): Special powers? Who are you auditioning for?

TYLER: The kind of loser kid in the small town who learns he has special powers. (Stephen laughs) Here, I worked on my special power pose all day. What do you think?

Tyler does special power pose.

STEPHEN: You're hired. (Picks up book) Listen to this.

TYLER: I love you.

Stephen turns page, reads:

STEPHEN: "A Marxist interpretation/suggests--"

TYLER: I said I love you!

STEPHEN: I love you too! (Tyler resumes massaging Stephen) "A Marxist interpretation suggests that, in having understood a particular historical stage is not permanent, human society is a successful structure because it is capable of change, and thus the present is not its point of arrival."

TYLER (Mockingly): Marxist!

STEPHEN (Laughs): Interpretation, though. There's a difference.

TYLER: That is beautiful. --You're tense.

STEPHEN: I am?

TYLER: Super tense.

STEPHEN: --I guess I got a little freaked-out tonight.

TYLER: What happened?

STEPHEN: It's not a big deal really.

TYLER: Am I hurting you?

STEPHEN (Laughing): I can't tell, I think you might be. Yeah, the--kid from across the hall knocked on my door.

TYLER: --Why?

STEPHEN: Well, this other kid--this white kid--who I assume was here to buy drugs, but he went to the wrong apartment--knocked on my door. Anyway--he must have told this to the kid across the hall, and the kid--the black kid--must know I help out his dad or whatever, so he must think that maybe I know what's going on in there, and he just sort of wanted to let me know that he knew I knew what was going on--that he's dealing.

Pause.

TYLER: Did he threaten you?

STEPHEN: No, no. I'm sure he's harmless, but...

TYLER: Be careful, Stephen.

STEPHEN: No, I know.

TYLER:--Okay, now me.

Stephen massages Tyler.

TYLER: I got a little freaked-out tonight, too.

STEPHEN: Yeah?

TYLER: I was talking to some people at the club. I talked to this one kid who said he was sixteen? He said he was a pig bottom and was looking for someone to Luck him.

STEPHEN: Uh-huh.

TYLER: Oooh, right there. Yeah. I don't know, it started to depress me. The pig bottom kid was so--beautiful and innocent looking. How did he get like that, you know?--And did you see this? In the Voice?

Tyler picks up Village Voice from coffee table.

STEPHEN: "HIV Babies."

TYLER: Rates are going up for people our age.

STEPHEN: God, that's unfathomable to me--that gay men are having unsafe / sex

Tyler's cell phone rings. He checks it.

TYLER: It's Billy. I'm not gonna answer it.

STEPHEN (Laughing): Billy calling to tell you to Luck off again?

TYLER: He probably met some guy and wants to ask me if he should go home with him. "He's cute but he's not hot, I don't know, he has a nice ass..."

STEPHEN: Huh. Well--I'm sorry you got depressed.

TYLER: Yeah. (Beat) Did you read your horoscope?

STEPHEN: No.--Is it good?

TYLER (Laughs): Taurus, for far too long now you've been / waiting for

Tyler's cell phone rings again. He answers. Stephen puts photo of Tyler in frame.

TYLER: Hello? Okay. Thank you. Okay. I have to go. I love you too. (Tyler hangs up) Billy apologizes. He wanted to tell me he loves me.

STEPHEN: Uh-huh...so...Billy really hates me, doesn't he?

TYLER: No--why do you say that?

STEPHEN: He's never very polite to me. He didn't even look at me at the / club

TYLER: Part of that was the ecstasy--we got our pills from different guys, I got mine from this guy Derek knew, but that guy didn't have that many, so Billy had to just sort of find his own and I don't think his were that good.

STEPHEN: He got the "fuck off" ecstasy.

TYLER: Billy's Billy. I've known him for so long, I guess I'm just used to him. He didn't have the easiest life, so he's sort of abrasive. You either get his world or you don't, is how he looks at it.

Pause.

STEPHEN: "Billy's Billy."

TYLER: What?

STEPHEN: I don't know...I mean, Someone says "Luck off" to you...

TYLER: It's hard for Billy--he doesn't have a boyfriend, his career isn't going well, sometimes people don't take him seriously because he's so campy...

STEPHEN: Well, you have to take yourself seriously.

TYLER: Like you you silly goose! Mr. Serious!

STEPHEN: Ha. (A knock on the door. Pause) What time is it?

Stephen gets up, goes to the door. Tyler rises.

STEPHEN: Hello?

TIMOTHY'S VOICE: Hey, I heard you were up, I'm sorry, do you have two cigarettes you could lend me?

Pause.

TYLER (Muted): Tell him you quit. Pause. Stephen opens the door.

TIMOTHY: Hi.

STEPHEN: Hey. (Gives him three cigarettes) Here you go.

TIMOTHY: Hey, you know, my check is late, you know? It was supposed to / come

STEPHEN: Uh-huh?

TIMOTHY: And I have to go to the hospital tomorrow, and the Medicaid is all--and my check is late--I'm trying to get, I'm trying to get this leg, keeps being delayed--if you got ten dollars, I pay you back when my check comes. Two days late now, nothing I can do...

STEPHEN: Sure.

Stephen gives him ten dollars.

TIMOTHY: God bless you.

Timothy goes. Stephen locks the door. Pause.

TYLER: Ten dollars?

STEPHEN:--What?

TYLER: I just--that makes me worried.

STEPHEN: Worried about what?

TYLER: Just--that he'll think--you're a pushover.

STEPHEN: Right. But--his check hasn't come.

TYLER: You believe that?

STEPHEN: Yeah--I think it's pretty common, actually. Social Security, disability--I think the checks only come once a month. It's a disaster for people when they don't come on time.

TYLER: But if his son is dealing drugs...and threatened you tonight...

STEPHEN: He didn't threaten me.

TYLER: You said you were freaked-out.

STEPHEN: Yeah, but--I don't--think he would / actually

TYLER: Like, what if they're working as a team or something? Like, now they know you're scared, so they can ask you for money and you're scared so you give it to them.

STEPHEN: I don't--think he and his son get along. His son won't buy him cigarettes...I mean, if he comes tomorrow and asks for ten more dollars, I won't give it to him, but...

TYLER: But what if they're, like, working as a ream? (Pause. Stephen looks away) I don't know.--I just worry. I get scared for you. I love you and--a cigarette, okay. But ten dollars--and taking him to the deli--you can't help everyone, people have to take care of themselves.

STEPHEN: Well you--you know, I mean--like--... Your trust fund helps you, right?

TYLER: What--do you mean?

STEPHEN: You don't have to worry the way most people do.

TYLER: But--I do stuff. My acting class, going to the gym, preparing for auditions.

STEPHEN: I'm just saying--you know, he doesn't have any protection. He's black, he's-

TYLER: But what I'm saying is, what if he just takes that money and buys alcohol?

STEPHEN: I'm sure he's nor going to buy alcohol.

TYLER: You don't know that.

STEPHEN: Well, I mean, even if--I drink, we all--you're on drugs now.

TYLER: What does that have to do with anything?

Pause.

STEPHEN: Nothing, just...(Beat) Like--talking to that kid in the club-made you sad, He--makes me sad. That he's in trouble the way he is, that makes me sad. So--I feel better helping him.

TYLER: Yeah, but I was in a club, I didn't--try to help him. I'm never going to see him again.

STEPHEN: Exactly. I--he's right across the hall. I see him every day.

TYLER: But you don't know.

STEPHEN: Know what?

TYLER: You have no idea what his life is really like, and I don't see how you / think you

STEPHEN: There are facts.

TYLER: You don't know--

STEPHEN:--He has no leg.

Pause.

TYLER:--I'm sorry. I just--I had a bad night. And I don't--want you to get taken advantage of. That's all. People with good hearts, they get hurt in this world. They do...

STEPHEN: I understand your concern.., but--I think I'm okay here...

Pause. Tyler moves to Stephen. He begins to nuzzle him.

TYLER: Anyway, you should quit smoking... it's not good for you...

Stephen smiles. They start kissing rather madly, and undress each other.

STEPHEN: I love you.

TYLER: I love you so much, Stephen.

STEPHEN: Oh Tyler...

6. Timothy struggles into his apartment carrying a large brown paper bag in his mouth. Lily watches TV Shed is asleep on the couch. Timothy shuts the door and leans against the wall. He carries the bag, goes over to the chair and sits.

TIMOTHY: He sleeping?

LILY: Yeah.

Timothy takes a forty-ounce of beer out of the bag, along with a pack of Newports and a candy bar.

TIMOTHY: Can I ask you, are you with Shed?

LILY: No. I was with Dave.

TIMOTHY: Dave. You here, though, a lot.

LILY: Me and Shed are pals.

TIMOTHY: Oh.

LILY: We're buddies! We're buds! I was with Dave.

TIMOTHY: I don't know about Shed. Things getting quiet around here.

LILY: He's a big boy now.

TIMOTHY: Yeah? (They laugh. Timothy lights a cigarette, laughs) Where are the boys?

LILY: He doesn't want the boys here anymore.

TIMOTHY: Why not?

LILY: He's a big boy, I'm telling you. No boys, no drugs.

TIMOTHY: No weed?

LILY: No--weed. But no drugs. Can I have a cigarette?

TIMOTHY: You don't got any?

LILY: Smoked them all.

Timothy gives her a cigarette.

TIMOTHY: I used to drive trucks. Now I can't drive. I had a good I career.

LILY: I met Dave my first week here. We were together three months.

TIMOTHY: Three months.. .1 loved driving, get out of the / city

LILY: Are you with anyone?

TIMOTHY:--I don't know, that might be over, all that. I got a photo album of me from before? Every time I would look at the pictures, I couldn't even / look at them

LILY: Mm, I love Menthols.

TIMOTHY Yeah.--Did Shed tell you about what LILY: Dave has this ex-girifriend Maryanne who keeps manipulating him, ugh.. .So you're not with anyone?

TIMOTHY: No--nobody wants to sleep with someone who has no leg.

LILY: Awww. Maybe there's a woman with no leg, too.

TIMOTHY: I never seen a woman with one leg. Well, that's not true. But I wouldn't want a woman with one leg! Two things make people sleep with you is, you have a job, or you're young. I'm old with no job. I can't even look at the pictures of me/from before

LILY: Do you jerk off at least?

TIMOTHY:--I used to be a janitor before I was a truck driver. I can't do that either. Where are you from?

LILY: Chorleywood. Probably never heard of it. Fucking crap.

TIMOTHY: Chorleywood?

LILY: Everyone knows everyone's business there, fucking crap. New York's different, has a different energy, do you know what I mean?

TIMOTHY: Is he trying to get me out of here? Pause.

LILY: I dunno. That's sad.

TIMOTHY: I just can't--the Social Security went down, after a certain time, after I got out of the hospital, I get less now. But it's my name on the lease, he can't / do anything-

LILY: That's sad no one wants to sleep with you.

TIMOTHY: Oh.

LILY: Does your dick work?

TIMOTHY: Wh? --Yeah--it works, it wasn't damaged.

LILY: When's the last time a lady touched it?

TIMOTHY: My wife.

Lily goes over to Timothy and touches his crotch.

TIMOTHY: What are you?...

She unzips him, puts her hand inside, fondles him for some time.

TIMOTHY: Stop.

LILY: It's okay, you're getting hard.

TIMOTHY: No.

LILY: There. That's nice. Is that nice?

TIMOTHY: Y--yeah.

LILY (Still masturbating him): Yeah.. .that's nice.. .Does Shed have any other girls over?

TIMOTHY: Used to...

LILY: Used to?

TIMOTHY: Not so much now...

Lily continues to masturbate him. He closes his eyes and begins to moan quietly. Lily's cell phone rings. She stops, looks at the number, answers it.

LILY: Hello? Hi Dave. Nowhere, just hanging. Nothing. Where you at? (Beat) Fuck her, she's a stupid cunt anyway. Okay!

She hangs up and gathers her things.

TIMOTHY: You're going?

Lily goes back to Timothy, puts her hand in his pants again.

LILY: I bet you could come really fast for me. (She masturbates him for a while. He orgasms, stifling sound. She takes her hand Out, wipes it on his pants, giggles) I gotta go. See you later, sexy man!

TIMOTHY: Bye...

Lily goes off. Door slams. Shed stirs a little. Timothy starts to cry. He zips up his pants, tucks in his shirt. Shed awakens. Timothy stops crying. He quickly lights a cigarette. Shed looks at Timothy.

SHED: ...You stealin' from me when I sleep?

TIMOTHY: No, these aren't Camels. These are Newports. These are mine.

SHED: The faggot give 'em to you?

TIMOTHY: I bought them.

SHED: Why you crying?

TIMOTHY: I'm not. I was just thinking.

SHED: Where's Lily?

TIMOTHY: She left.

SHED: She left? What, you scare her off?

TIMOTHY: No.

SHED: When you gettin your leg? Sick of this shit already.

TIMOTHY: They keep saying next week! Then they say, there's some reason--you need to wait till the leg, you need to wait a certain time till it heals--they need me to practice, they have a leg there for me to practice but they say maybe next week--I can't tell--I think that it's not ready, the leg, but they don't say it's not ready, they say it needs/to heal before

SHED:--Talking her ear off. You annoy people, you talk too much, you don't do anything, sit here, do nothing, fucking useless--

TIMOTHY: What am I gonna do?

Pause.

SHED: Something besides annoy people make them leave/'cuz you annoy them

TIMOTHY: No, Dave called. She went to Dave. Pause. Shed looks for a cigarette, his pack is empty.

TIMOTHY: I don't know why she likes Dave so much. But you don't know / with girls

SHED: Fucking cigarettes, where's my pack?

TIMOTHY: You all out? Want one? (He keeps looking in empty packs, lifting things. He gets angry) You want one? Here. (Shed goes over to Timothy, takes his pack away from him. He goes to the couch. He lights a cigarette. Pause) Come on. Gimmie back. (Shed goes to the stereo, puts in a CD) Shed. Gimmie one, just to wake up to. One to go to sleep and one to / wake up to

An Eminem-like rapper blasts. Shed sits down on the couch and listens to:

Don't give me no fag on the corner

in the park

walking like a girl looking like a

shark

trying to get at my balls

birch get ready to fall

make a pass?

fag, I'll take that ass

empty it of gas

and put it in a cast

Shit, what time is it?

eleven o'clock

here, suck on this

no not my cock

boy, this a Glock

Timothy rises. He goes off with his forty and his candy bar. Shed moves to the song:

all the faggots in the world today

make me sick

it's a mystery to me why a man

would like dick

cuz I don't take that

no I don't take that

all the faggots in the world today

make me mad

wanna make me happy? die and I'll

be glad

cuz I don't take that

no I don't take that

boy I ain't take that

who gon' take that

Lights rise on Stephen and Tyler. They are making out, naked. They can clearly hear the song. Stephen stops.

TYLER: What?

STEPHEN: This song.

TYLER: I know.--Don't worry about it.

The song continues. Tyler kisses Stephen, they continue to make out.

Shed rises, acting out the song, as if performing it:

Damn, when I was six

growin' up in the proj-ix

with my bitch mom

every night she was gone

so my Uncle Rick'd babysit

and try to get in my shit

"Wanna play hide and seek?"

Uncle Rick, Uncle Rick, peeking at

my little dick

man that's motherfucking sick

So suck

suck

No not on me

man, suck this blade

swallow your tongue

watch your faggot life fade

next I'm'a puncture your lung

Stephen pulls away from Tyler.

STEPHEN: I can't.

TYLER: Just block it out. I'm here. Think about me.

STEPHEN: I--I / just

Tyler leans in, kisses Stephen. He fellates Stephen. The music continues:

all the faggots in the world today love

my shit

wanna get in my pants and suck on it

for real, gays love me and my song's

number one

and if you don't believe me just ask

Elton John!

Song continues, Stephen orgasms.

STEPHEN: Ohh!-

SLIDE: "August 14, 2001"

7. Stephen and Patricia in a museum. In one corner, a black security guard crosses on and off. In another, a violinist plays. Stephen and Patricia speak quietly, moving slowly across the stage. A young white art student, sloppily dressed, sketches, looking in Patricia's direction. He wears headphones and moves somewhat to the music.

PATRICIA: It's good you're having a party.--That's beautiful.

STEPHEN: It'll be a little hot, but I guess that's okay.

PATRICIA: Frank's gonna come, which is a miracle.--Isn't that beautiful?

STEPHEN: It's so chaotic. All that color.

PATRICIA: I don't understand this violinist--since when does art need music to go along/with it

STEPHEN: I read about this, museum attendance is down, they did focus groups, people think museums are dull, so they're trying new things to attract more visitors.

PATRICIA: Great, next it'll be strippers holding up the paintings.

STEPHEN: That'll make Giuliani happy. (Beat) Do you think people--do you think--how do you think people change?

PATRICIA: What's this about?

STEPHEN: Just a question.

PATRICIA: It's about Tyler.

STEPHEN: Well--yeah, but--generally, I mean...

PATRICIA: But there's a specific...?

STEPHEN: We just--the other/night

PATRICIA: Is that kid drawing us?

STEPHEN: What?

PATRICIA: That kid behind us.

Stephen looks briefly at the art student, who stops sketching when he does, then resumes sketching when Stephen turns away.

STEPHEN: I think he is.--Yeah, it was just-- Tyler and I got into it about my neighbor again the other night, he was upset that I gave him ten dollars.

PATRICIA: We should probably keep out voices down a little.

STEPHEN: Oh--yeah, I'm sorry.

PATRICIA (Moving to next painting): Mm-hmm? --What year is this?

STEPHEN: --I just, I wondered what I could have said to him to make him see my point more...

PATRICIA: Well--you know, you have to be gentle because--and patient. Think of where Tyler's coming from. You know, you dealt with your trauma by identifying with the pain of others, trying to understand it, in order to solve it. So maybe you're empathetic, but his history hasn't allowed him to develop-- (Looks back at art student) He is, he's drawing us.

STEPHEN (Derisively): I think I saw a Ralph Nader sticker on his bookbag.

PATRICIA: How rude is that. Who goes to a museum to draw people? Look at the paintings.

STEPHEN: Maybe you're inspiring him.

PATRICIA: Great, I'm glad I can be of service. Patricia moves to next painting. Violinist begins new song. Stephen follows, looking briefly at art student.

STEPHEN: But maybe I should have better tried to explain to Tyler why he thinks the way he does.

PATRICIA: Well--people have a lot to think about on their own without thinking about how they think.

STEPHEN: What do you mean?

PATRICIA: Maybe you have to learn to tolerate a certain amount of narcissism, you know? It's not easy to be alive and--all this, all these right and wrong ways to think--I think you should make room for just--who people are.

STEPHEN: But that's really scary, to think that way, it's so defeated. That's like/ saying--

PATRICIA: --I need to sit, I have a headache.

STEPHEN: Art gives you headaches.

PATRICIA: It's not--talking and looking at paintings, it's a little / much.

STEPHEN: I'm sorry, I know I'm / babbling

PATRICIA: No, it's--you're asking valid questions, it's just... (They go to a bench. Art student gets up, moves behind them, continues sketching,) I don't know. When I listen to you, I hear this--you're always looking for something that isn't there--something better--as opposed to reality. Who someone might be instead of who they are.

STEPHEN: Uh-huh?...

PATRICIA: I think you're setting yourself up when you look at things like that. --Okay, this has to stop.

STEPHEN: What?

Patricia turns to the art student and stares at him directly Stephen follows. The art student goes off. The security guard laughs, crosses off as well.

PATRICIA: How rude is that? Visual artists, my God. Voyeurs.

STEPHEN: Maybe he'll go home and create a masterpiece.

PATRICIA: Sometimes, this city, I wish I could be invisible.

Pause. The violinist begins a new song.

STEPHEN: I see what you're saying. Like--his history--like, Tyler's dad was an alcoholic. So I guess you're right--it makes sense that he's so passive. When he was growing up, you know, nothing he did ever altered his dad's behavior. So he learned to protect himself by lust cutting off...Did you know Tyler tried to kill himself?

--Almost every gay man I know my age either tried to kill himself or fantasized about it.

PATRICIA: He tried to kill himself? Oh, that's awful.

STEPHEN: He drove his father's truck to a cliff, and he sat there, the engine idling, trying to get up the courage to drive over. When he was sixteen. He says he came so close...And I put myself there. I'm beside him. I'm with him at the edge of the cliff, passenger side.

PATRICIA: Empathy.

STEPHEN: Love.

PATRICIA: Mm. What's the difference, I wonder.

Pause.

STEPHEN: I hope people have fun at my party.

PATRICIA: I hope you have fun at your party.

They laugh.

PART TWO

That strange flower, the sun,

Is just what you say.

Have it your way.

The world is ugly,

And the people are sad...

Wallace Stevens, "Gubbinal"

SLIDE: "August 14, 2001"

8. Timothy's apartment. Shed and Lily cuddle on the couch. The TV is on. Timothy enters. He sits down on the couch next to Shed and Lily.

TIMOTHY: What's this? (Neither answers) Ha! Oh, this show is a funny one.

Neither says anything. Timothy looks briefly over at Lily, who does not return the look. He gets up and goes, off. Shed's cell phone rings. He picks it lip, looks at it.

SHED (A little alarmed): Dave.

LILY: Dave?

Shed answers the phone.

SHED: Hello? Yeah. Come up. He hangs up.

LILY: Where is he?

SHED: He outside.

LILY: What should I do, stay here or go?

SHED: Up to you.

LILY: He won't go in back, will he?

SHED: No. He probably be here just a minute. He not gonna care-he gonna be like, "Okay, you don't wanna deal, okay." I'll give him his money and that's it. It'll be cool.

LILY: Is Maryanne with him?

SHED: I dunno. He gonna be up here, so go back. Lily gets up and goes in back, off. An insistent, manic knock on the door. Shed answers it. Dave enters. He speaks in an affected manner, often using black rhythm and emphasis without mimicking black pronunciation--his accent is that of a white up per-class person.

DAVE: What's up, dog!

SHED: What's up.

Dave looks around. Shed shuts the door.

DAVE: Looking nice in here, looking neat! Where your boys at?

SHED: I told them, find some other place to party. Too crazy 'round here.

DAVE: Lily said, Lily said. What's up, man!

SHED: Not much, not much, you.

DAVE: Other than the bitches, everything is sweet. --I'm rolling right now.

SHED: Yeah?

DAVE: Three pills. Good ecstasy, very clean, I met this guy, European motherfucker, shit's hot! (Dave flips through channels on TV) Yeah, man, my mom wanted to have a talk tonight. Where can I go, like--the rehab talk. I couldn't deal, so I took three pills. Told her I had a headache, told her they were aspirin! She believed me!

SHED (Laughs): Aw.

DAVE: She's like, "You're twenty." She's like, "I remember you. You were a sweet boy. You were sensitive. What happened." Truth, though--I was fucked-up, dog! I was never sweet. One thing I did, I never told anyone this--I started rolling, and I remembered--I remembered I used to be able--I could hear my parents fucking, and I was fourteen maybe, and I would go to the bedroom door, and I would--when they were fucking, I would jack off--I would hear them--I would hear my stepfather slap my mother's ass, or else it was her slapping his ass-and I would jack off picturing it and listening to it!

SHED: Damn.

DAVE: "Sensitive." I would come on the carpet and I would rub it into the carpet with my foot.

SHED: Damn, why you do that?

DAVE: She's like, "You were a good child." She's like, "Why are all your friends black?"

SHED: How she know that?

DAVE: Fuck, I have people over now. You gotta come over and see this shit. (Dave sniffs cocaine) "You've changed." But nothing changed--that's what I'm realizing, sitting there rolling.

SHED: What you mean?

DAVE: I was always like this, I just didn't know what to do. Like, why do you jack off when you hear your parents fucking? --I tried to fuck the au pair when I was fifteen!

SHED: What's that?

DAVE: Like, the maid--the black maid, I tried to fuck her.

SHED: Oh.

DAVE: I didn't know what I was doing but. It was funny, I tried to hug her. I didn't know how to do it so I hugged her. Bitch hugged me back! I think I came right then!

SHED: Damn.

Dave hits a music video channel; we hear the Eminem-like song from earlier; it plays quietly throughout scene. Dave moves to the music, as does Shed. Then:

DAVE: He's so over, don't you think?

SHED: Oh yeah-he done.

DAVE: Old Timmy here? Old man beating off back there?

SHED: He here, he here.

DAVE: He's eating pepperoni?

SHED: I don't know.

DAVE: Every time I see him, he's eating, I think, like, what, is he trying to grow a new leg? A new leg made of fat, like if he keeps eating he'll grow a new leg made of fat?

SHED: Shit's fucked up, Medicaid, I don't know, keeps getting delayed, his new leg. He supposed to be getting it--on my fucking tit all the rime, you know?

DAVE: --Things don't change, I'm telling you. Nothing changes, man. Nothing changes!

--So I told my mom, listen, fuck rehab, I don't need rehab, give me the money you'd spend on rehab for me to make a movie and I'll stop doing drugs. Make a movie, right! Digital video--you can be in it! So she said if I write a script she'd do it. I'm like, You don't make movies with a script. You make it up as you go along. She didn't understand, though, she was all like, "You need a script" and I was like, "No, you need a concept."

SHED: Yeah. What--what would it be about?

DAVE: Me. Not me-me, but me, like, my life, you know?

SHED: Yeah. That's cool. Hey--um--remember we went to that hotel couple weeks ago?

DAVE: Yeah.

SHED: Remember, you said--you knew that guy?

That guy, he was like a manager in the bar?

DAVE: Right.

SHED: I was wondering, like--maybe he could like, like if you could call him, like maybe they're / hiring people or

DAVE: Who are you sleeping with now?

SHED: Sleeping with? I don't know.

DAVE: I'm manic, man, I apologize. Bump?

SHED: Naw, I'm okay. But Y if

DAVE: I'm fucking manic. Have a bump, come on. (Dave smiles. Pause. Shed does a bump of cocaine) There we go. --Damn it's good to see you. I wish I had some e's to throw you so you could be up with me. How long is it since we met, six months?

SHED: Yeah--since I met you in the club?

--But that guy, like, remember / you said--

DAVE: You see Lily lately?

Pause.

SHED: You know, here and there, that girl all over the place.

DAVE: Jesus. Other night, I was flicking her and I was, like, Can I smack you a little? She was like, Yeah--and then she was like, You can smack me harder--Goddamn, British girls, right? --So I started smacking her--she's grooving on that--she's saying it's turning her on more-so she's like, she tells me to smack her hard when I start to come. I was like, Hard? She was like, Yeah! She said it was the best she came in a long time!

SHED: Damn.

DAVE: Unbelievable. And then she wanted me to fuck her in the ass--and the bitch wasn't clean! I was like, you want people to fuck you in the ass you best be clean, doll! -- You have the cash?

SHED: -Yeah.

Shed reaches into his pocket, takes out a wad of bills. Dave takes a long knife out of his backpack.

DAVE: Look at this, beautiful, right?

SHED: Wow.

DAVE: I decided to start collecting knives. (He laughs, shrugs, and hands Shed the knife) Antique, ivory handle, fucking gorgeous, right?

SHED: Wow.

Pause. Dave takes the knife back from Shed, puts the knife in his bag. Shed holds out the cash to him.

DAVE: You know what? I had a good day. (He nods for Shed to keep the money, rises) My mom went to the Hamptons, I'm gonna go home and party.

SHED (Still holding out money): What are you? --No man, take / it

DAVE: Keep it, dog.

Dave takes package of cocaine from the bag, gives it to Shed, who now has money in one hand, cocaine in the other. Dave slings his backpack over his shoulder. Shed rises.

SHED: Yeah, I--I got some stuff coming up, I got to ask you about something.

DAVE: --Damn, you got that hungry look in your eyes.

SHED: I do?

DAVE: We need to find you some pussy, I think.

SHED: Ha, no, I'm all right.

DAVE: Let's get you some pussy. When's the last time you fucked the shit out of a girl, for real?

SHED: I'm okay, take care of myself.

DAVE: Dude--come to my house with me.

SHED: That's alright. But if we could / talk

DAVE: Timmy can take care of himself for a night! (Yelling) Right, Timmy?

SHED: No, I should / stay

DAVE: You know I love you? (Pause. Dave wipes a tear from his eye. Shed laughs it off) No--I don't just say that 'cuz I'm rolling. But, like, that we can be friends, from such different worlds. That's amazing. That didn't used to be the way it was. But it's that way now. People from different groups. People from different worlds. That's so beautiful--you know how special that is?

SHED: Yeah--I just. I--I never meant to get so deep in dealing.

Pause.

DAVE: Oh. You want to talk. You're, like--taking stock of your / life

SHED: Yeah, if we could / talk

DAVE: Bottle of wine, blow, talk all night--if you want to roll, call my European boy--we can sit out on the terrace. You can see the whole city, look out, king of the world, for real!

SHED: I'd like to, but I / have to

DAVE: Let's call some girls and start putting an / itinerary together

Dave dials on his cell phone.

SHED: No, I really can't, / man

DAVE: Fuck, let's call Lily!

Dave hits a button on his phone.

SHED: I would / but

We hear a cell phone ring loudly. Short pause.

DAVE: Shit, did I call you by mistake? (Shed looks at the ringing cell phone. Dave looks at his) No, I called Lily.

SHED: She's--she left her--

DAVE: Is she here?--

SHED: She--she's I napping or something Lily enters.

LILY: Hi Dave.

DAVE: What are you doing here?

SHED: No, yeah--Lily just hangin'...

Dave looks at Shed. Pause. Shed braces himself. Then Dave laughs.

DAVE: Whatever. Lily, we're going up to my mom's, you gotta come. Who else can I call. Or should it just be us three?

SHED: I don't / think

LILY: Where's Maryanne?

DAVE: I don't know and I don't wanna know.

LILY: --You're rolling.

DAVE: How'd you know?

LILY: You're so nice when you're rolling. Your face looks so sweet.

DAVE: Let's move everybody! Move move!

Dave starts to go; Lily hangs back a second.

SHED: --Naw, I gott--I don't know, I gotta- I gotta make sure--(Lily takes her cell phone and bag) I gotta--I gotta--hang out, I can't--maybe later, when he goes to sleep, but...

Pause.

DAVE: Okay, call me later. Peace, brother.

LILY: Bye!

SHED: Yeah, peace.

Lily and Dave go off. Shed still holds the coke and cash.

9. Stephen's bedroom. Billy and Patricia are talking, both with drinks in their hands. Outside the bedroom, a party in progress. Each time the door opens, loud music and party sounds increase.

BILLY: But I have to admit, the rhymes are great, the music is really interesting--he's really hot--I don't agree with what he's saying, but he definitely represents what's already out there, he didn't cause it.

PATRICIA: Yeah. That's an interesting point. (Pause. Off, music is changed) ...So--how long have you been friends with Tyler?

BILLY: Since college.

PATRICIA: Oh. Stephen and I met at college, too. Where are you from?

BILLY: Long Island.

PATRICIA: Oh. I'm from Queens.

BILLY: Okay, can I confide in you? Can I make you my little confidante?

PATRICIA: What--what do you want to / tell me?

BILLY (Hearing new music): --Oh God, this--who is putting this awful solemn music on?

BILLY: Well we have the majority here. It's not 1993 and we are not in Seattle!

PATRICIA: It's probably Frank, my boyfriend--he doesn't like parties, this is what he does, he fiddles with music. It's like he wants to make everyone as miserable as he is.

PATRICIA: I'll tell him to change it.

BILLY: I want to dance. Do you dance, Patricia?

PATRICIA: I do.

BILLY: Okay, go yell at your boyfriend and come back and I'll tell you my secret.

Patricia laughs and goes off Stephen enters.

STEPHEN: Oh. Was Patricia in here?

BILLY: She just went our to change the music. Can I ask you a question?

STEPHEN: Sure.

BILLY: Is there any cocaine here?

STEPHEN: Umm--I haven't seen any.

BILLY (Faux-sheepishly): Do you hate cocaine?

STEPHEN: Umm--I don't make a point of it but--occasionally I do / like it.

BILLY: I think this party could use some cocaine.

STEPHEN: Umm. Let me look around.

Stephen goes off. The music changes from rock to a dance mix.

BILLY: Yes! (Billy starts to dance. Tyler enters, dancing) There you are!

TYLER: Hi!

Patricia enters.

BILLY: Patricia, I love this song!

PATRICIA: My boyfriend hates me now.

Billy starts dancing with Patricia. The three dance. Stephen enters.

BILLY: Anything?

STEPHEN: What's Adderall? There are boys in there who say they have Adderall.

PATRICIA: Adderall? My eight-year-old niece is, on Adderall.

BILLY: It's a prescription drug for attention deficit disorder, it's of the Ritalin family. Patricia, let's dance this song our there and I'll tell you my secret.

PATRICIA: Oh, right.

TYLER: Billy has a secret?

BILLY: Not for long, of course!

Giggling, Billy pulls Patricia into the other room. Stephen looks at Tyler.

STEPHEN: Hey you.

TYLER: "What's up, man."

STEPHEN: "Not much, dude."

TYLER: "Cool party."

STEPHEN: "Thanks."

TYLER: "What's your name?"

STEPHEN: "I'm Stephen."

TYLER: "Hey, what's up, I'm Tyler."

STEPHEN: "Would you like to dance, Tyler."

TYLER: "Umm...I actually have to go home right now and wash my hair."

STEPHEN: "Oh, right. Okay."

Stephen gets up and mock-walks away. Tyler mock-rises.

TYLER: "But...I have time for one dance."

STEPHEN: Yes.

(Stephen turns. They break the joke. They begin dancing) So when everyone leaves tonight...can we take a bath together?

TYLER: Yay!

STEPHEN: I don't know how clean the tub / is. Billy enters.

BILLY: Patricia's boyfriend is hot!

Stephen and Tyler turn and stop dancing.

STEPHEN: Yeah, he's really / beautiful.

TYLER: Does anybody need a drink?

STEPHEN: I'm / fine.

BILLY: No.

Tyler goes. Pause.

STEPHEN: So--um--I know, Tyler, you know, tells me you're a musical theatre actor--what is it like for musical theatre actors? It must be tough, there aren't that many roles for younger people, right?

BILLY: Well, there's chorus.

STEPHEN: Right.

BILLY: So...there's someone here that I've slept with--I think. Except I'm not sure he remembers me--also, I have a wee bit memory problem?

STEPHEN: Yeah?

BILLY: It was a few years ago, I'm pretty sure it's him. He had, like--(Billy measures out his hands)--and I was like, umm, hel-lo. Would you like me to wrap that for you? I think his name's Donald--such a bad name-- but anyway, I sent Patricia on a mission to talk to him and find out his name.

STEPHEN: Wow.

BILLY: So...I'd love to read your work.

STEPHEN: Really? Oh, sure.

BILLY: Yeah, Tyler says it's so beautiful.

STEPHEN: Wow. Yeah, I'd be more/than happy

Tyler and Patricia enter, Tyler with drink.

BILLY: Patricia! Did you find out?

PATRICIA: His name is Philip.

BILLY: Philip? Oh.--Does anyone want, I really want cocaine. Why does nobody have any here? It doesn't make/sense

STEPHEN: I guess my friends/aren't

PATRICIA: There's a lot of people I don't know/here

STEPHEN: I/know.

BILLY: Oh--what about that guy? Tyler, you were/telling me about some guy.

PATRICIA (To Stephen): Do you have that book you mentioned?

STEPHEN: Oh, the/Hobsbawm? Yeah.

TYLER: What guy?

PATRICIA: I don't want to/forget it.

BILLY: The guy in/the building, on the floor.

STEPHEN: Right,/yeah.

TYLER: Oh.

BILLY: Stephen, there's some guy in your building who sells cocaine. On your floor.

STEPHEN: Oh.

Pause.

TYLER: I never said it was/cocaine

STEPHEN: Yeah, I don't know/what he

BILLY: Well what else would it be?

Pause.

BILLY: Why don't we do that?

STEPHEN: Um--I don't know if that's...

BILLY: What apartment is he in?

STEPHEN: I think--I assume there's some system--I don't think you can just knock on the door.

BILLY (Laughing): He knocks on your door all the time. What apartment is it?

STEPHEN: I don't--I think--I don't really feel comfortable, um--with his knowing that someone had come from this apartment...

BILLY: But Tyler said you were, like, friends with him.

TYLER: I didn't say they were/friends

STEPHEN: I basically have interactions with the father,/not

PATRICIA: Maybe someone will show up with cocaine.

Pause.

BILLY: What's amazing to me/is

TYLER: I'm gonna pee.

Tyler goes off.

BILLY: What's amazing to me is that Tyler said they're also on welfare? That makes me, like, so angry. I had this actor friend whose father is a millionaire and who gave him money, but this kid, when his acting job ended, he went on unemployment, even though his father was sending him cash.--I mean, how much money, if he's dealing drugs,/how much

STEPHEN: No--I don't think the kid--the one who's dealing/drugs

Tyler returns.

TYLER: People are having sex in your bathroom. They forgot to lock the door, I just/walked

BILLY: I'm sure they didn't forget, everyone in this city is an/exhibitionist

STEPHEN: Who here would be having--I don't/like that

BILLY: Were they hot?

TYLER: I shut the door really quickly.

STEPHEN: Let me--knock on the door and hurry them up.

Stephen goes off. Pause.

PATRICIA: I'm gonna check in with Frank.

BILLY: He is hot, Patricia!

Patricia smiles politely and goes off. Billy dances. Tyler doesn't.

BILLY: What?

TYLER: Billy--now he knows I was talking about him.

BILLY: Who?

TYLER: Stephen--that I was talking to you about his neighbor.

BILLY: That you told me about his little project? His help the poor by handing out cigarettes project?

TYLER: Can we just not bring it up again?

BILLY: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to screw anything up. I just wanted some/blow.

Stephen enters.

STEPHEN: "The bathroom has been liberated by the forces of good."

TYLER: Yay!

Tyler exits. Pause.

STEPHEN: So...the guy turned out to be not the guy, huh?

BILLY: That's the thing--"Donald," "Philip."

That's sort of the same name, in a way, it might be him. I guess there's only one way to find out. (Billy and Stephen laugh) So...you've had a lot of contact with the drug dealer?

Beat.

STEPHEN: No--no, mostly with his father.

BILLY: The crippled guy.

STEPHEN: Yeah, the--disabled guy, right. Yeah, and--it's not--I'm not sure how much Tyler told you but--it's not the kid who's on welfare. He's not collecting money--it's/the father Tyler enters.

TYLER: Now someone else is in there and I knocked and they were like, "It's gonna take a while."

BILLY: But that's so sick, though.

STEPHEN: What is?

BILLY: That on top of the drug money they're collecting/welfare

STEPHEN: No--I don't think the son gives the father any money--is what I'm saying. Tyler looks away.

BILLY (To Tyler): Stephen was just telling me some more about the neighbors.

TYLER: Oh.

STEPHEN: Just--I think it's/complicated Patricia enters.

BILLY: Well thank God that welfare bill passed so that kind of stuff can't happen as much any. more, thank God.

PATRICIA: -- Those boys doing Adderall are nuts, they asked me if I wanted to play strip poker. TYLER: Really? Oh God--

STEPHEN (To Billy): -- No. No actually. The welfare bill--in this--in this building alone--in apartments no bigger than this one, there are people--families of ten living together, three generations.

Stephen looks to Patricia.

BILLY: Well, that's what they get, though. They had five years to get off welfare and find/jobs

STEPHEN: Are you--do you actually know about the welfare/bill?

TYLER: -- Stephen.

BILLY: Actually, I/do

TYLER: Stephen.

STEPHEN: What?

BILLY: I grew up poor.

Stephen looks back to Billy.

STEPHEN: Right. But--the welfare / bill

BILLY: And we never went on welfare. My father worked two jobs.

STEPHEN: I hear that, definitely. And I'm speaking from an upper-middle-class perspective, / but

BILLY: I mean, my father and my mother--that was all they did--was work. No / one

STEPHEN: Right. --Okay. But--the welfare bill is actually--a really terrible--you know, the effects are not always visible, they're never immediately apparent, and it's coincided with a bright time for what's really a very fragile / economy

BILLY: But it made the poor take responsibility for themselves.

STEPHEN: Well--it terrorized them--I don't know how you can say / it

TYLER: Stephen.

BILLY: You have to admit how much better this city is now.

STEPHEN: But--what do you mean "better," I/don't

BILLY (To Tyler and Patricia): This city is so much better than it was even five years ago.

STEPHEN: Okay--do you really want to have a conversation about this?

BILLY (To Stephen): There's less homeless, / there's

STEPHEN: You see them less--where you live-

BILLY: It put a stop to all those welfare mothers who kept having / babies-

STEPHEN: Welfare--do you--welfare / mothers?

TYLER: Stephen.

STEPHEN: Why do you keep saying my name?

TYLER: Just...

Stephen turns to Billy.

STEPHEN: I'd like to talk to you about this but--we're sort of talking around each other. Pause.

BILLY: I guess it's that--you know, my mother and father worked so hard for me. They gave up their lives for me. No one handed them anything.

STEPHEN: Right.

BILLY: You know?

STEPHEN: Sure. But--did you ever think that it was easier for them because they're white?

BILLY: Well--they faced anti-Semitism all their lives...

STEPHEN: Right. But--being Jewish is very different from being black.

BILLY: Whoa.

Pause.

STEPHEN: What?

BILLY: You don't know my life.

STEPHEN: I didn't say I did.

BILLY: Yes, you're talking about my life--"it was easier for them because they were white"--

STEPHEN: Well--I'm--talking about facts of history, facts of race, facts of

BILLY: You don't know my life or their/ lives

STEPHEN: I didn't say/ I knew

BILLY: My mother is dead.

Pause. Patricia takes her drink glass and exits.

STEPHEN: We're not talking about that. (Pause. Billy moves to leave the room) No--I mean--of course--I'm sure your parents did work hard, I'm sure they encountered anti-Semitism. But--there are not jobs for everyone, particularly not for people who don't speak English well, who weren't given access to a good education, or, I mean--in terms of comparing--you can't really argue that Jews have had anywhere near the experience that blacks have had / in America

BILLY: You don't know their / lives, Jesus.

STEPHEN: I'm--no, listen-just--stop being so defensive and listen a / second

BILLY: I / am

STEPHEN: A culture of poverty and racism breeds a--I mean, can't you, as a gay man, I mean, can't you identify with other / groups

BILLY: You just can't expect the world to give you things, that's all I'm saying. No one ever gave me anything. And say what you will about Giuliani, fuck him for shutting down the clubs and all that, and fuck him for trying to censor art, but he cleaned this city up.

Pause.

STEPHEN: It's apartment 6C.

BILLY: What is?

TYLER: Stephen.

STEPHEN: If you want to buy drugs. Apartment 6C.

Pause. Billy looks at Tyler. Billy goes off.

Pause. Stephen looks at Tyler, who looks at the floor.

STEPHEN: What? Let him go--let him get punched in the face--fucking privilege, fucking--I'm sorry, Tyler, if someone is going to stand in my apartment and say / racist Patricia enters.

PATRICIA: Hey.

STEPHEN: Hey.

PATRICIA: So, Frank wants to go home, I have a lot of work to catch up on, so...

STEPHEN: Oh.

PATRICIA: I'll talk to you tomorrow. Bye, Tyler.

TYLER: Bye, Patricia.

Patricia goes off. Pause.

TYLER (Quietly): You should let people have their opinions, Stephen.

STEPHEN: Not--not when they're racist and / wrong

TYLER: It's not racist to think welfare is bad, or, or, that all the problems of the world won't be solved if the government gives poor people more money.

STEPHEN: Tyler, people are / dying

TYLER: I just want you two to get! along

STEPHEN: People are dying in this building. They are dying of poverty, of drugs, I see them every day, there are no jobs, I see their children, they go to schools that are falling apart.

TYLER: Not all of them.

STEPHEN: Well--some of them.

Tyler goes to Stephen and puts his hand on his shoulder.

TYLER: Fine, but why does it upset you so much?

STEPHEN: -I live here!

TYLER: Whoa! Calm down. (Tyler hugs Stephen) Shhhh.

They begin dancing slowly.

Lights rise on Timothy's apartment. Shed stands, holding the cocaine and the cash. Billy knocks on his door. Pause. Shed goes to the door, looks in the peephole. He puts the money and the cocaine in his pockets and opens the door.

BILLY: Hey.. I'm from across the hall? At the party? (Billy takes out forty dollars) I have forty dollars. Do you have any coke?

Pause. Shed looks at him. He lets go of the door. Billy holds the door open, steps inside. Shed turns around. He takes the forty dollars from Billy, gets the cocaine and gives it to Billy.

BILLY: Thanks.

Billy goes off. Timothy enters.

TIMOTHY: Who was that.

Shed doesn't answer.

TIMOTHY: Where's Lily? She go?

SHED: Yeah.

TIMOTHY: She go with Dave?

SHED: You a fucking eavesdropper now?

TIMOTHY: Don't worry about that--she's crazy, Shed--

SHED: --I don't care about that--

TIMOTHY: --Don't pay her no mind--

SHED:--Leave me alone--

TIMOTHY: I'm just saying--she tried to grab my dick once--she's crazy, she / just--Shed rushes Timothy and throws him against the wall. He punches him in the shoulder. Timothy falls.

TIMOTHY: Ahhh! My leg!

Shed sits down on the couch and turns on the television. Timothy whimpers in pain. Billy enters the bedroom where Stephen and Tyler dance.

BILLY: Can we make up, Stephen?

Stephen looks at Billy.

In Timothy's apartment:

SHED: Here all the time--in people's shit all the time--can't do nothing yourself--Timothy just lays there.

In Timothy's / Stephen's apartment:

STEPHEN: Yeah, I don't--I didn't want to fight.

SHED:--You gonna just lay there now? BILLY: Me too. I'm sorry if what I said offended you.

SHED:--Get up!

STEPHEN: Don't worry about it.

SHED: Get up!

BILLY: Okay.

Shed begins playing the video game. Timothy reaches out for crutches. He can't reach them.

BILLY: Could you apologize to me too?

STEPHEN:--Excuse me?

Tyler turns away.

BILLY: For assuming you knew about my life. Shed kicks crutch over to Timothy, who can now reach it. Shed returns to the couch and plays game.

STEPHEN: Okay, I just. I think it's important that people--think about--other people, you know. Think about / what they Billy's cell phone rings. He checks it but does not answer. Pause. Stephen looks at Tyler.

STEPHEN (Flippantly): I apologize.

BILLY: I accept. Now we can party? Tyler loves you, I want us to get along. He loves both of us so we should try to at least like each other.

STEPHEN:--Right.

Pause. Sing-songy:

BILLY: I got blo-ow!

Billy takes out cocaine. He scoops some onto a key and sniffs it. He offers it to Tyler.

TYLER: A little...

Tyler sniffs cocaine. Billy offers it to Stephen. Pause.

STEPHEN: I'm okay.

BILLY: You sure?

STEPHEN: Yeah, I'm fine.

BILLY: It's good, I think. Billy puts away the cocaine. Pause.

TYLER: I'm gonna see if I can pee again. Tyler goes off.

In Timothy's apartment, Timothy finally rises, in pain. Shed continues to play the video game.

BILLY: So.. .what are you writing these days? Timothy begins to exit.

Stephen doesn't respond, as if lost in thought.

BILLY: Oh, don't worry--that's just Tyler being Tyler. He'll be fine, he doesn't like conflict.

STEPHEN: Why did you do that?

BILLY: Do what?

A new song comes on, off. A sound of cheering from the party.

STEPHEN: You--you brought up--you created / a

BILLY (Starting to dance):--I love this song-

STEPHEN: Fuck off.

BILLY: What?--What is wrong with you? Pause. Billy goes off.

Timothy's apartment. Timothy exits. Shed looks back, then turns back to the video game. Stephen's apartment. Tyler bounces into the bedroom, dancing.

STEPHEN: Hey.

TYLER: What's up, man. The tub is clean... (Stephen smiles) Let's dance. (Tyler grabs Stephen, tries to dance. Stephen doesn't dance) Or not.

STEPHEN: I'm-just...

TYLER: Billy's fine, don't worry about it. Come on, dance.

Stephen dances with Tyler tentatively. Then stops again.

STEPHEN: I don't--it's--I'm upset.

TYLER: You're upset.

STEPHEN: Yeah, I--I'm really sad now. (Pause. Tyler places his hands on Stephen's head, and begins making a strange humming sound. Stephen laughs a little) What are you?...

TYLER: "I'm using my special powers to take away your pain." Hmmmmmmmzzz.

STEPHEN: Oh.

TYLER: I have a call back!

STEPHEN: For the TV show?

TYLER: Hmmmmmmzzz. (Stephen pushes Tyler's hands off him) What.

STEPHEN: I'm--really sad, Tyler.

TYLER: It's a party, Stephen.

STEPHEN: I know it's-...

TYLER (Taking Stephen's hand): Let's go Out to the party, come / on

STEPHEN: In-a minute.

Long pause. Stephen and Tyler look at each other.

TYLER: Fine.

Tyler goes, off. Stephen stays on his bed. Shed continues to play the video game, with growing intensity.

SLIDE: "August 15, 2001"

10. Stephen and Patricia sit in Stephen's living room.

PATRICIA: I always wondered why gay men had all these friends in the way they do. It's so clear. It's so they can separate their sexual and emotional needs, because they're frightened to combine them. Boyfriends who don't have sex, sex without having to have a boyfriend.

STEPHEN: Yeah...I dunno. Maybe he'll--maybe he'll change his mind. Just--like that. I just...

PATRICIA: I'm really sorry. (Pause.) I should get to work. Did you have that book?...

STEPHEN: Oh, right.

Stephen gets book, gives it to Patricia. She looks at it.

PATRICIA: On the Edge of the New Century. There's a title for you.

STEPHEN: It's really great.

Patricia rises; Stephen follows. She moves to the door.

PATRICIA: You know, anyone who's friends with that guy--"Billy"--all he would talk to me about was how attractive Frank was. And about--whoever this guy was he thought he had had sex with. He was actually why we left.

STEPHEN: Billy?

PATRICIA: Yeah.

STEPHEN: But you said you left because Frank wanted to go. Because you had work to do.

Pause.

PATRICIA: Yeah--I mean--we were just being polite. (Laughs) I felt like I was at work--except instead of a straight guy telling me how attractive I am, it was a gay man telling me how attractive my boyfriend is.

STEPHEN: Why were you being polite? You weren't at work.

Pause.

PATRICIA: What do you mean?

STEPHEN: I thought you left because of Frank--but you're saying you were offended by Billy.

PATRICIA: Yeah.

STEPHEN: But you didn't say anything.

PATRICIA: About what?

Pause.

STEPHEN: I'm sorry, I'm just...I'm really angry.

PATRICIA: Well--of course you're angry. Tyler said he loved you. He was supposed to love you. He didn't love / you

STEPHEN: No. Not that.

PATRICIA: What?

STEPHEN: You know--... You're talking about how you left and. You know, I--I had no support. No one...

Pause.

PATRICIA: I see. I think--you're talking about the discussion about / welfare

STEPHEN: Yes, when you left. Because I was thinking--I knew that you agreed with me. I knew that, and now you're saying on top of that you were offended by Billy but you just--

PATRICIA: Right. Okay. What I was thinking was, was that nobody's mind was going to be changed. Clearly. And it was a ridiculous conversation to be having.

STEPHEN: It wasn't a ridiculous conversation to be having.

PATRICIA: No--but at a party. And that guy wasn't going to budge an / inch

STEPHEN: But--you know, maybe if you had spoken up--maybe he could have been made to listen.

PATRICIA: That never would have happened. (Beat) Billy--what I was thinking, was-- when you grow up poor, it's very painful to think of yourself as being like other poor people. I know what it's like to be / defensive about

STEPHEN: But you're not seeing how--how I was made to look like a jerk, while Billy gets to--and in front of Tyler, you know, I seem like the asshole.

Pause.

PATRICIA: I see now. You're feeling that maybe Tyler left you because of this conversation about welfare?

STEPHEN: Where I looked like an / asshole

PATRICIA: Right, but--I think the timing's fortuitous. I don't think it makes sense to say that this one moment--what did he say? "Different places"--"need to be alone"--cliches, they mean nothing. So of course you're searching for why, and it was at that moment that you felt Tyler pull away, but...but it's not just--it's not--...Here's what I think happened in that moment--because it was more than just that moment, I mean: you were angry at Tyler for validating Billy because you found Billy offensive, because of how he looked at the world. And you wanted Tyler to look at the world like you do. You could sense that Billy was engaging you in a way meant to humiliate you and test loyalties and yet you couldn't censor / yourself

STEPHEN: But now you are implying a psychodrama. You are implying that politics isn't real, that a political discussion is merely a psychodrama. As if what we were talking about isn't valid--as if it's something / else

PATRICIA: That's not, / no

STEPHEN: Which allows you to leave. To pretend it's something else and to leave, so I'm left there. The way I look at the world, alone, unsupported, ridiculous, when I know / you

PATRICIA: You're making this too easy, Stephen.

STEPHEN: No. That's what you did. You made it easy for yourself and easy for Billy, you left. You were invisible. You made yourself invisible.

PATRICIA: Okay...you're--very angry at me.

STEPHEN: I--am. Yeah. Yeah, if you had supported me, Tyler might have seen that I wasn't--Billy might have listened and Tyler would have--fuck it, whatever. You can go.

PATRICIA: Well--now I don't want to go.

STEPHEN: Well I want you to. (Pause. Patricia moves to the door) No one's mind can be changed. This is the world.

Patricia stops, turns.

PATRICIA: Would you like me to go?

STEPHEN: Let everyone have their own opinions, everyone's opinion is equal, everyone / is valid--

PATRICIA: Maybe you need to change the way you talk to people who don't agree with you. Maybe that's what Tyler saw--that you / weren't

STEPHEN: Oh?

PATRICIA: Yeah. Maybe you need to change the way you talk to people you feel superior / to.

STEPHEN: Blah blah blah. Just go.

Pause. Patricia goes to the table, places the book down, and leaves. Pause. Stephen lights a cigarette. A knock on the door. Stephen calls:

STEPHEN: Hello?

TIMOTHY'S VOICE: Hey, sorry to bother you, you got a cigarette?

Pause.

STEPHEN: I quit.

TIMOTHY'S VOICE: What's that?

STEPHEN: I QUIT.
PART THREE

As I wend the shores I know not,
As I listen to the dirge, the voices of
men and women wrecked,
As I inhale the impalpable breezes
that set upon me,
As the ocean so mysterious rolls
toward me closer and closer,
At once I find, the least thing that
belongs to me, or that I see or
touch, I know not,
I, too, but signify, at the utmost,
a little washed-up drift,
A few sands and dead leaves to
gather,
Gather, and merge, myself as part of
the sands and drift.

--Walt Whitman,
"Elemental Drifts"


SLIDE: "September 27, 2001"

11. Timothy's apartment. Lily sits alone, flipping through a photo album. Timothy, with prosthetic leg, enters from back, walking slowly.

TIMOTHY: He not back yet?

LILY: No.

TIMOTHY: Usually back by now.

Timothy starts to walk off.

LILY: How long have you lived here?

Timothy turns. He sees she is looking at the photo album.

TIMOTHY: Oh, you looking at the pictures? (She nods) Ten years. Yeah. Moved in when we got married.

LILY: Ten years. Wow. That's true love.

TIMOTHY: True love, I don't know about that... LILY (Regarding picture): Look at you. I've never known true love.

TIMOTHY: I don't know if you would call it true love.

LILY: I've only known passion. (Pause. Timothy starts to walk off) No, look how much you loved each other, look at this.

He turns. She holds up the album, shows him a picture.

TIMOTHY: Yeah...But you wouldn't say we got along usually. (She keeps looking through the album) There was a time we partied a lot and that wasn't good. There's nothing you can do when certain things happen. You can wait for them to be over. Looking back. You wouldn't say we had a good marriage. Things just happen. But you look back. It's strange. I do wonder why God let me live. I did lots of things there was no need to do. We wasted a lot of years. I drove trucks. I was gone a lot... LILY: How'd it happen? Shed never said, Pause.

TIMOTHY: We went out to dinner. I was driving back. We had wine. I just drove wrong. (Pause) I was trying to pass a car that was going so slow. I was tired.--I wasn't working, we were talking about that. I was telling her we had to figure something out. We had debt. I pay child support. Shed's been paying the rent. She was just working part time and I wasn't, I wasn't working, we were trying to figure something out. It was an old lady--she was driving so slow. I misjudged it. I drove my whole life. You get cocky... Pause. Lily holds open the album, angles it toward Timothy. He does not look at the pictures.

TIMOTHY: There's probably nothing in my future. Stupid leg.

LILY: But you have your leg now.

TIMOTHY: You can tell. I still limp. The color is wrong.

LILY: I've never had true love. At least you've had that.

TIMOTHY: I don't know...

LILY: It was true love.

Pause. Timothy moves to the album, focuses on one photo, just stares at it.

TIMOTHY: True love... (Door opens. Shed enters, wearing a face mask. Timothy looks up) Home from work!

LILY: Hey! (Shed takes off his face mask. Timothy walks off) Smell getting to you?

Shed crosses to the couch, puts down his backpack.

SHED: Bad tonight.

LILY: Been a while.

SHED: What's up.

LILY: You doing good? (Shed shrugs. Pause) You got a job!

Shed nods.

LILY: I'm--going home, I'm going back, so.. I'm leaving tomorrow...--Dave says hi.

SHED: Dave says hi.

LILY: He says you don't answer the phone anymore.

SHED: Got rid of it.

Pause.

LILY: He says he came here, he says you don't answer the door either.

SHED: Don't answer the door, no.

LILY: You sent him his money in the mail?

SHED: Yup.

Pause.

LILY: You didn't miss much. Dave's back with Maryanne. He stays in his room, doesn't leave the apartment, he bought all these gas masks and night vision goggles. Tell me about your job, it sounds brilliant.

SHED: It's good.

LILY: It's at the hotel?

SHED: Yeah.

LILY: How'd you get it?

SHED: Just went there. Looked right, I guess. Knew how to act.

LILY: When did you start?

SHED: End of August.

LILY: What's it like, you like it?

SHED: Beautiful. It's this guy, Ian Schrager. He has a shitload of hotels. This one, you go in there, it's like the world don't exist. It's like, you got a escalator. Lime green light. You go up, it's all dark, there's big plants everywhere, like growing out the walls. Huge chandeliers, like. It's so cool, it's got, like, special effects--like those 3-D things, holograms and shit. Everybody wear a uniform, like. Beautiful women waitresses. Outdoor courtyard, trees, big chairs. Matt Damon's having his birthday party there in a couple weeks, they got famous people all the time in there, go there.

LILY: Wow. I love Matt Damon. (Pause) Yeah. I got you--I wanted to give you something to remind you of me. (Lily reaches into her pocket and pulls out a photo-booth photograph. She hands it to him) Three pictures of me. The first one is the crazy me, see. The second one is the sad me. The third one is the real me, no expression. (Shed looks at the photograph) I was thinking of lifting my top for the last one, but, you know, it was in the arcade, I felt weird.

SHED: Thanks.

Pause,

LILY: Plus, you don't know where those pictures end up, if they stay in the computer or whatever. Don't want my tits all over the place, even if I do have nice tits.--I think I might miss you the most, you know.

SHED: Yeah?

Pause.

LILY: Anyway.--You gotta give me something before I go.

SHED: What?

LILY: Something to remember you by. I gave you my picture now you gotta give me something. Pause. Shed looks around.

SHED: Don't know what I got.

Pause. Shed looks at her. She moves to him and hugs him hard. Pause. She reaches down to his crotch.

LILY: I knew it!

She laughs. Pause. She moves her hand on his crotch. Shed removes her shirt. They look at each other a beat, then embrace.

12. A bar. Loud music. Stephen stands alone. Leo approaches. Pause.

LEO: YOU LOOK FAMILIAR.

STEPHEN: I DO?

LEO: HAVEN'T WE MET?

STEPHEN: I DON'T THINK SO.

LEO: I DON'T KNOW WHY I THINK SO. ARE YOU HERE ALONE?

STEPHEN: YEAH.

LEO: WHY DO I THINK I KNOW YOU. DO YOU COME HERE A LOT?

STEPHEN: NO.

LEO: WHY NOT?

STEPHEN: WHEN I HAD A BOYFRIEND, I DIDN'T GO OUT.

LEO: WHEN DID YOU BREAK UP?

STEPHEN: A WHILE AGO.

LEO: WHAT HAPPENED?

STEPHEN: I DON'T KNOW HE BROKE UP WITH ME.

LEO: WHY?

STEPHEN: WHY DO PEOPLE BREAK UP WITH PEOPLE?

LEO: YOU MISS HIM? (Stephen doesn't answer, swigs on his beer) YOU DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?

STEPHEN: NOT PARTICULARLY.

Pause.

LEO: WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

STEPHEN: NEAR HERE.

Pause.

LEO: DO YOU WANT TO GO THERE?

13. Stephen's bedroom. Stephen and Leo enter.

LEO: I'm serious, it makes perfect sense. This was Giuliani's greatest fantasy and his greatest fear. He's always had a fascist impulse, which this fits perfectly. But, remember last summer, he had prostate cancer, and there was all that media coverage about how he might be impotent. Months later the two tallest most phallic buildings in New York City go down. What was happening in his body, happening in his city.

STEPHEN: Huh. That's really interesting. Leo takes out cocaine, does a bump. Leo gives Stephen cocaine. Stephen sniffs cocaine.

LEO: What's funniest is he's just like the Taliban--obsessed with forcing his rules, his ideology, violently upon the people: close down the clubs where gays congregate, shut down the strip clubs where women reveal their bodies, cancel funding for art museums who show art that subverts his religious beliefs: he probably deeply identifies with the Taliban.

STEPHEN: Right...

LEO:--Is this the window?

STEPHEN: That's the window.

Leo looks out the window. Long pause. The sound of a fighter jet passing.

LEO: The F-14s are flying low tonight. Leo turns to Stephen.

LEO (Brightly): So. What are we going to do now that we've moved out of a public space and into a private one?

STEPHEN (Smiling): Have sex.

Leo laughs. He looks around and finds a photograph.

LEO: Is this your boyfriend?

STEPHEN: Ex. Yeah.

LEO: What was his name?

STEPHEN: Why do you want to know?

LEO: I dunno.

STEPHEN: Tyler. I'm gonna brush my teeth.

LEO: Okay.

Stephen exits. Leo stares at the photograph. Then he puts it down and takes off his shoes. Stephen returns.

STEPHEN: Hey.

LEO: Hey. Have you heard from him since the 11th?

STEPHEN: Who?

LEO: Tyler.

STEPHEN: No...

LEO: No?

STEPHEN: Nope.

LEO: I don't believe in love.

STEPHEN: You don't?

LEO: No, I think it's a vague word that is applied indiscriminately.

STEPHEN (Laughs): Oh.

LEO: To me, a more interesting question is what people are doing to each other in each other's company under the guise of "love."

STEPHEN: What do you mean?

LEO: Like--what is love. What is it. I mean, you can say, okay--Okay, this person fucks me, he calls me, he ears meals with me, he tells me about his day, I am in his thoughts and fantasies, I do things and he has feelings about them-you can make a list of facts. But what makes those facts love. What. And-I couldn't figure it out. So I decided there was no such thing. And that I was fine with that.

STEPHEN: Uh-huh.

Leo begins removing his clothes.

LEO: The idea of love is so heteronormative, and it's perfect for capitalism: it prevents people from thinking about real problems in their lives, it makes them think, when they feel bad, that something is wrong with them and not the world, it makes people form families and buy things for those families... (Leo's in his boxers) You're so adorable.

STEPHEN: You, too.

Stephen turns on t the light. Vie can barely see them. They undress.

LEO: Put on some music. (Leo gets in bed. Stephen puts music on-R & B. He gets into bed. Leo begins to fellate Stephen, then kisses him. Leo gets on top of Stephen and begins moving) Mmm.

STEPHEN: That feels good.

LEO: You like that?

STEPHEN: Yeah.

Leo continues. Stephen turns him over, gets on top of him and kisses him.

LEO: You can kiss.

STEPHEN (Laughs): I can?

LEO: Mm-hmm. (They kiss. Leo wraps his legs around Stephen. Then Leo takes his own hands and puts them behind his head. He takes Stephen's right hand and clasps it to his two hands, as if to restrain them) Harder.

Stephen thrusts against Leo harder. Then Leo eases Stephen off him. Leo gets on his hands and knees.

LEO (Sweetly): Rub against me like you're fucking me. (Stephen does) That's good. Mm. (Leo masturbates himself as Stephen rubs against him from behind) Mmmm.

STEPHEN: Uh. Uh. Uhmm.

Stephen moves more roughly. Leo takes Stephen's hand from his breast, puts it on top of his head.

LEO: Pull on my hair a little. (Stephen does. He arches his neck, kisses Leo) Mmmm.

STEPHEN: Uhhhh. Uhhhhh.

LEO: Mm. You're fine, right?

STEPHEN: What?

LEO: I'm fine--we're both fine--you don't have-you don't have / HIV?

STEPHEN: No.

LEO: More. Oh God.

Stephen continues, getting rougher.

STEPHEN: You like that?

LEO: Yes.

STEPHEN: Yeah? You like that?

LEO:--Fuck me.

STEPHEN: Yeah, you want me to fuck you? LEO: Yes please.

STEPHEN: Yeah?

LEO: I like it.

STEPHEN: I like it too. Uh. Uh.

LEO: Go inside me.

STEPHEN: Yeah?

LEO: You can go inside me.

STEPHEN (Stopping for a moment): Wait--go?--literally?

LEO: Please fuck me.

STEPHEN: I / don't

LEO: Please.

Pause. Then Stephen enters him, somewhat awkwardly Leo grimaces a little. Stephen fucks him, slow at first, then faster.

LEO: Oh my God...Oh God...Oh God...

STEPHEN: Uhhhhh. Uhhhh, uhhh uhhh

LEO: Mmmm mm mmm

STEPHEN: Uhh / uhh uhh

LEO: Mmm mmm mmm mmm / mmm mmm mmm

STEPHEN: Uhhhm uuhmm uhuuhmm--Stephen stops suddenly.

LEO: What? Did you come?

Pause. Stephen releases, lays back on the bed.

STEPHEN: No...

LEO: Why did you stop?

STEPHEN: I'm Sorry.

Pause. Leo grabs Stephen's penis and begins to masturbate him.

STEPHEN: I'm sorry, I have to stop.

Pause. Leo lays back, masturbates himself Sound of a fighter jet cutting across the sky. Finally Leo orgasms.

LEO: Uhhhhh-

Pause.

STEPHEN: Let me get you a towel.

Stephen gets Leo a towel and gives it to him. Leo cleans himself. Stephen turns off music and dresses. Leo puts the towel on the floor and dresses.

STEPHEN: That was interesting, the comparisons you were making before with the Taliban and Giuliani.

LEO: Uh-huh?

STEPHEN: I've been reading about Afghanistan--the chaos of the region. So many tribes--so many different groups--disconnected, historically, from their / central government

LEO: Right.

STEPHEN: Disconnected from their leaders--and disconnected from each other--all these various groups occupying the same space without being able to / find a common

LEO: Uh-huh.

STEPHEN: Just--how fractured and isolated they are--like New York, too, in some ways...

Pause. Leo and Stephen are dressed. Leo looks at Stephen.

LEO: Nice to meet you.

STEPHEN: You're gonna go? (Leo smiles) Are you sure? I could make some tea...

LEO: I'm fine. Bye.

Leo goes off Stephen sits down on his bed. He looks out the window.

Lights rise on Timothy's apartment. Lily is finishing dressing. Shed has his boxers on.

Pause.

LILY: ...--Say a prayer the plane doesn't fly into the Empire State Building.

SHED: Ha. I will.

LILY: Yeah. So... (Laughs) Nice knowing you.

SHED: You too.

LILY:--Congrats again on your job, that's really great.

SHED: Yeah...

LILY: Yeah...we're friends, yeah?

SHED: What you mean?

LILY: We're buddies. We're pals.

Pause.

SHED: --Yeah...

LILY: Yeah. Anyway... She starts to go.

SHED: Hold on. (She stops)--It's bad Out there--take this.

Shed hands her his face mask.

LILY: Oh.

She looks at it a beat.

SHED: Here, I do it.

He stands behind her, puts it over her mouth and nose. She stands, still for a moment, then begins to cry.

SHED: What's wrong, now?

LILY: Dunno...

SHED: It's okay...

LILY: Yeah...Okay. Bye.

She goes off Shed puts on his pants. Turns on video game, sits down. Timothy enters.

TIMOTHY: Lily go?

SHED: Yeah.

Pause. Shed plays video game.

TIMOTHY: Working late tonight?

SHED: Walked home.

TIMOTHY: Oh, you walked home?

SHED: I got laid off.

TIMOTHY: --What?

SHED (Still playing game): Nobody in the hotel. Nobody there, tourists not coming, so, they letting the most recent people go.

TIMOTHY: Oh Christ. You got fired? No!

SHED: And it's like--it's like, I don't understand--what's-wrong with-me-

Shed starts to cry, puts down video game controller.

TIMOTHY: Oh God.

SHED: It's like--I know what not to do, in my life, but I don't-know-what--to do, you know?

TIMOTHY: No--that's not--people get / fired SHED (Fighting tears with anger): I don't know what to DO.

TIMOTHY: You be okay, you'll figure it out.

SHED: Figure out what. What. (Pause) What are we gonna figure out. (Pause) What are we gonna do.

Pause.

TIMOTHY: You can't blame yourself. It's just how things--it's not your fault--it's just the world... Shed looks at Timothy. Pause. He opens his backpack, takes Out a carton of cigarettes.

SHED: Fucking, you believe people pay ten dollars a pack? In the hotel, if you go on the sweet, five dollars, ten dollars inside. They fired me, I took some.

Timothy smiles.

TIMOTHY: Thank you.

SHED: Not a problem.

Pause.

TIMOTHY: Maybe... --I can get a job when I'm done with rehab. I don't--they say I can't drive a truck, but. It might--maybe I can drive a van. I might, they / don't know

SHED: All right.

TIMOTHY: Something, there'll be something--we--we'll be able to--

SHED: All right, I hear you. Just go--go to sleep. Pause. Timothy walks off Shed reaches for his backpack, looks in, takes out two cartons of cigarettes. Puts them on the coffee table. Goes to stereo. Turns on hip-hop. Picks up game controller again, begins playing. Pause. Shed pauses the game. He takes one carton from the table. He exits the apartment, goes to Stephen's door, knocks. Stephen hears. He exits his bedroom and goes to the door.

STEPHEN: Hello?

SHED'S VOICE: Hey, it's your neighbor.

STEPHEN: Yes?

SHED'S VOICE: Got--something for you, wanna open up.

STEPHEN: What?

SHED'S VOICE: I got something for you.

Pause. Stephen opens the door.

STEPHEN: Hey, what's up.

Shed holds out the carton.

SHED: Hey-just--got these for you, you know...

STEPHEN: Oh. --Thank you... (Stephen takes the cigarettes. Pause) You guys--you guys okay?

SHED: Yeah, we fine.

STEPHEN: Your--dad's okay?

SHED: My dad. Oh. That's not my dad. That's my uncle. But yeah, he's okay.

STEPHEN: Oh--good.

SHED: He got his leg finally. They finally gave him his leg, so.

STEPHEN: That's great.

SHED: That's my uncle. He lived there, I lived there with him and my aunt, but she died in the car accident, where he lost his leg. So it's good he got his leg, so.

STEPHEN: Oh--oh God.

Pause.

SHED: You see it happen?

STEPHEN: I--I saw it from my bedroom window. I saw the whole thing.

SHED: Yeah. I went up on the roof...saw that...

STEPHEN: Terrible.

SHED: Yeah. (Pause) Anyway. That's it.

STEPHEN: Thank you.

SHED: You welcome.

Shed goes. Stephen shuts the door.

EPILOGUE

To write: to refuse to write--to write by way of this refusal...

Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster

SLIDE: "October 9, 2001"

14. The bar. Patricia stands behind the bar. It's empty. Stephen sits with a soda. An American flag is draped, behind the bar.

PATRICIA: And then he says, "So I was thinking you and I would have an affair."

STEPHEN: Oh God.

PATRICIA: Sixty-two years old, this man. I'm telling you--visual artists.

STEPHEN: Painters are so weird...

PATRICIA: What's wrong with them?

STEPHEN: Aren't they stuck at the anal stage? Isn't paint--isn't it something to do with the child playing with feces? I think I read that in Freud.

Young Businessman 1 enters, sits at the end of the bar.

PATRICIA: Hey there Howard.

HOWARD (YOUNG BUSINESSMAN 1): Hey, Patricia.

Howard looks up at the television.

STEPHEN (Quietly): How's he doing?

PATRICIA: I haven't seen him in a week.

Patricia goes over to him.

PATRICIA: You want a Stella?

HOWARD: Thank you. (She gets him a beer) How's business?

PATRICIA: It's picking up. People still aren't eating out, but they're drinking.

HOWARD: That's good. I need this beer, Jesus.

PATRICIA: Yeah? What's going on, is there any news about Ron? Have they found his / body yet?

HOWARD: They're not gonna find him, it's all just ash, they should give / up

The bar phone rings. Pause. Howard motions for her to answer.

PATRICIA (Picks up): Hello?

Howard turns to Stephen.

HOWARD: It's weird. I was at the subway, just now...the train was late, like five minutes. That happens all the time. But I started getting pissed off. And more and more people started coming down, into the station. And the train kept not coming. Kept looking down the tunnel. Nothing. No announcement. Must have been two, maybe three hundred people on the platform. And I thought--I started getting, like, claustrophobic. (Patricia hangs up the phone, listens) And I knew--I knew the train would come. Rationally--I knew--trains are late all the time. But I had this feeling--like something was gonna happen. Even though I knew, I knew the train would come, nothing was wrong, there was just some delay. But it was like--like if I didn't get out of there, something bad was gonna happen. And I left--left the station, walked here.

STEPHEN: Wow.

HOWARD: I'm a rational guy. I knew the train was coming but...--blah blah blah.

Howard sips beer. Pause.

PATRICIA: Market's doing better.

HOWARD: Market's fine.--It just doesn't make sense...how something that was there goes away...

Howard looks up at the stock ticker on the TV. Patricia moves to Stephen.

PATRICIA: What are you doing tonight?

STEPHEN: I was actually thinking of taking a walk down there. Be a witness. Say that I saw it. I was there. This is what it was like.

On the TV, footage of George Bush, stock ticker running below.

HOWARD: That's right. Bomb the shit out of them. Go over there and bomb them to the fucking Dark Ages. (Chanting) U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! (Laughing) Come on, Patricia. Show a little patriotism.

PATRICIA: That's okay, you got enough for both of us.

HOWARD (Smiling): Yeah, I do, don't I?

He sips his beer. Patricia turns to Stephen. She smiles at him.

STEPHEN: You're so good with these guys, you know that.

PATRICIA: What else are you gonna be?

HOWARD: U-S-A! U-S-A! (Howard raises his beer) A toast, what do you say? (Beat. Stephen smiles, raises his soda. Patricia raises a bottle of water) To the USA!

STEPHEN:--To where we live.

PATRICIA: Cheers.

They toast. Howard turns back to the TV. Patricia starts wiping down the bar. Stephen watches her.

END OF PLAY

RELATED ARTICLE: Writing Honestly About the Other

AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPHER SHINN BY GRETCHEN VAN LENTE

GRETCHEN VAN LENTE: How did you come to write a play that involves 9/11 but doesn't include the day itself?

CHRISTOPHER SHINN: Where Do We Live grew our of my experiences in this city after 9/11. I was looking out the window when the first plane crashed. I was sitting down to write. My writing desk looked our on the World Trade Center. A few days later I started to write--almost like automatic writing--what became a personal and political play, because I saw that no matter how strong people's feelings about the event were, we hadn't developed a common perspective or vocabulary to discuss it. Even a year later, people still tend to speak about it in terms of, "Where were you?"

I saw how hard it was during the Giuliani era for people in this city to wrap their minds around the idea of "the other"--black, gay or whatever. We're really fractured. Despite having all the external signals of a supposedly healthy city, New York was still incredibly divided racially and politically.

You've created two important and equally fractured character groups in this play. Was this away of exploring "the other"?

It came out of my direct experience. I'm always interested in this as a playwright: How do you get an audience not to watch just one person's story? When we're taught playwriting we're told to focus on the protagonist. To me that's really boring. I was more interested in how do you watch two people, how do you watch four people? Can you write a play where you watch 16 people and you're able to enter each character's subjectivity? They might not have equal weight in the drama, but at any given moment, you are able to say, "Oh, yes, I understand why that person behaves that way."

How did you establish your relationship with the Royal Court Theatre?

They produced my first play, which I sent to them on a whim and they said, "Yes." It was as simple as that.

They've produced three of my plays without ever doing a reading or a workshop. My plays wouldn't be half of what they are without the feedback of friends and peers. I believe in that process rather than readings and workshops. That's why my relationship with the Royal Court works out well. This play went right from their staff reading it to their announcing they would stage it.

How would you describe the London audience's response to the play and its subject?

What was interesting about seeing the play go up in London was how frightened the world is about what the U.S. is doing. So, I think in London they were seeing the social and political arguments of the play. They lacked a visceral, emotional relationship to that date. I imagine the opposite will be true here, where audiences may have an easier time engaging emotionally and a harder time locating the political and social elements. I just hope I have a chance to see it.

Characters and issues often drive your work. Which rakes precedence?

My work tends to be very autobiographical, very honest about my life. My difficulties and my traumas with other people tend to center around what I think of as social problems or differences. So, usually the social issue in the play arrives first. In this play it was a) How do you treat your neighbor, and b) What do you assume about your neighbor and why? Those were the two questions that presented themselves first in my life and then in the play. The play organized itself around those questions.

Which writers influence your work?

I consider myself primarily a social playwright who locates drama in social problems, with characters that grow out of these situations. So to that extent I would say my influences are Edward Bond, Caryl Churchill and Tony Kushner. Then there's another strain to my writing, one of personal rage, that is more akin to Tennessee Williams and David Mamet. Those are the two legacies at war in my work.

Reviewers often comment that your work explores the gap between what is said and unsaid. Would you agree?

I never think that way. I would prefer to think that I exploit the gap between what exists in the world we live in and what is staged. I'm trying to bring more of the former to the latter. It's always a pleasant surprise when critics say these interesting things and you think, Wow, I didn't know that about my work. And oftentimes they're right when they criticize it as well. You learn. So, yes.

Are you worried that Where Do We Live will be pigeon-holed as a 9/11 play?

If you're going to write something that references that, it's going to be seen as a genre, and perhaps exploitative. I wasn't naive about the reality of that date and what referencing it would mean. But I believe that everything should be represented in the theatre, despite what people might say, despite the fact that it might be pigeon-holed, that I might be seen as taking advantage of a tragedy. I was willing to accept all those risks in order to write about something that profoundly affected me and everyone else who lives in this city. It should be a part of the theatrical landscape.

Where Do We Live, copyright [C] 2002 by Christopher Shinn. All inquiries regarding rights should be addressed to John Buzzetti, The Gersh Agency, 130 West 42nd Street, Suite 2400; New York, NY 10036. Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that performances of Where Do We Live are subject to a royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional, amateur, notion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproductions, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, arc strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid upon the question of readings, permission for which must be secured from the author's agent in writing. Lyrics for "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" from The Blueprint by Jay-Z are copyright [C] 2001 by Shawn Carter, Harvey A. Price, Daniel Walsh and Kanye Oman West, produced by Universal Records, published by EMI Blackwood Music Inc. and Lil Lu Lu Publishing; excerpt from Playing and Reality by D. W. Winnicott, copyright [C] 1982 by D. W. Winnicott and Clare Winnicott, published by Routledge Publishing, New York; excerpt from "Gubbinal" by Wallace Stevens from The Palm at the End of the Mind edited by Holly Stevens, copyright [C] 1967, 1969, 1971 by Holly Stevens, published by Vintage Books, New York, 1995 (originally published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1971); excerpt from "Elemental Drifts" by Walt Whitman, from Walt Whitman: The Complete Poems, published by the Penguin Group, New York, 1996; excerpt from The Wr iting of the Disaster by Maurice Blanchot, translated by Ann Smock, copyright [C] 1980, 1986, 1995 by Editions Gallimard, published by University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.
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Title Annotation:related article: Writing Honestely About the Other
Author:Shinn, Christopher
Publication:American Theatre
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2002
Words:18710
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