Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Fidelis" A One Act play


("Fidelis" was performed at the Le Chat Noir Playhouse Augusta GA for two weeks in April of 2015)







"Fidelis”

by
C. Sanchez-Garcia



FIONA                  Wife of Jim.  She is a student in a writing course. Her governing characteristic is her sensual love for her husband and her anger at his fate and hers as well.  She is trying in a practical way to cope with the event's impact on their marriage. 
JIM                    Husband of Fiona.  His medical prognosis is the inciting event of the story.  He hides his fear better than Fiona.
The only setting is the marital bed in their bedroom where the action takes place.

TIME

At night, the night before he will go into surgery in the morning

ACT I
Scene 1        Bedroom.

JIM
Take good notes, Fiona, you may want to use this in your writing class someday.
FIONA
                                    (emphatically, upset, trying to be cheerful)
I'll never want to use this -
             
JIM
You might.  It's something that just happens to lots of people. You never know.  I can't believe you got that on Amazon.  It's amazing.

FIONA
      - not in a million years would I ever want to use this.
JIM
Isn't that what they say?  Normal people get a headache, they take aspirin.  When a writer gets a headache she takes notes?
FIONA
I don't even understand these instructions, do you understand them?  Some guy in China wrote these instructions.  Here.
(Hands him the instructions,  Looks away, frustrated)
JIM
They didn't teach you this stuff in Girl Scouts?
FIONA
They do but they don't give you a badge for it.

JIM
You're right about these instructions.  I don't get this either.  It seems like its mostly about timing, getting it in there and keeping it going until the silicone goo around it hardens.  They did this to Jimi Hendrix, did you know that?
FIONA
What?
JIM
There were these special groupies.  They went around making plaster casts of famous rock star's dicks.  I wonder if any of those castings are still around.  Maybe they're in the rock n roll hall of fame.
FIONA
You act like this is a big joke.  I feel like I'm making a death mask out of your dick.
JIM
I think it's pretty funny.  I'm not even a rock star.  I think this is great.
FIONA
Let's see how funny you think it is tomorrow when they wheel you out of surgery.
JIM
You make it sound like you're the one going under the knife.
FIONA
I am!
JIM
No, you're not.  You are definitely not.  Its just me and little Jim here.
FIONA
It's us!  WE are going under the knife.
JIM
You're not the one who's sick, Fiona.  I'm not scared.  You don't need to be scared if I'm not scared.
FIONA
You're scared.  And you don't talk to me.  You don't want to talk to me about this.
JIM
Fiona.
(Continues reading the instructions)
FIONA
You don't talk to me like you used to.  We don't have conversations. 
JIM
We're having a conversation.  This is a conversation.
FIONA
You don't listen.  You explain.  You explain and give advice.  I don't always need advice.
JIM
Well, what is it you need?
FIONA
Oh goddamn!
JIM
Well, I don't know.  I'm listening.  I'm listening now.  So talk.
FIONA
Oh! 
       Okay.  So, tell me something.
JIM
What?
FIONA
How you feel maybe.

JIM
Cool.  Like an ice cube.  Anyway.  Some things you just have to do.  Prostate cancer's not the end of the world.  They do an operation, you have things you can attach to get it up after. 
FIONA
Don't tell me that doesn't scare you.
JIM
I don't know what scares me anymore.  I don't think dying scares me as much as getting stiffed by the insurance.  And this isn't even dying. 

(Puts on his reading glasses.  Turns back to reading the instructions)
FIONA
      (breaking down)
This is so fucked up. 
JIM
Who buys those kits?  Do they still have groupies?
FIONA
Wives.  Soldiers wives.  Their husbands are going off to war and they miss them.  They miss their bodies.  They miss their dicks.  So they buy these kits so they can sleep with something like the real thing.
JIM
Can I ask you?
FIONA
What?
JIM
Does it like, I don't know, if it were dark, would you know it was me?  Could you feel the difference?  Does it matter?
FIONA
What?  That's just weird.  Does it matter?

            (After a pensive pause) 
Do you remember the first time you ever saw me?
JIM

It was in the coffee shop.  Around the corner from the office.
FIONA
Was that the first time?
JIM
Yeah.

(Distracted.  Rattling the instructions, trying to concentrate)
FIONA
I always thought it was at that little jazz thing at the library.
JIM
No.  Coffee shop. 
FIONA
What did you think?
JIM
What did I think? 

           (distracted.  Reading.)

Oh.  Hell.  I noticed you right away.
FIONA
Why?
JIM
(putting the instructions down.  Resigned to talk)

I don't know exactly.  Sometimes a person goes by, and they just catch your eye.  You just look.  They look a certain way and you're curious.  What's that person like?  I wondered what you were like.
FIONA
And now you think you know?
JIM
No.  I know better than that now.  I barely know.
FIONA
What did you think the first time you saw my breasts?
JIM
Oh my god. 
FIONA
What did you think?
JIM
I'm not sure.  I think my brain was clouded with lust.  No - I remember - they were bigger than I thought.  Your clothes make them look smaller than they are.  It was a nice surprise.  Really.
FIONA
Anything else?
JIM
And I remember thinking your nipples were really beautiful.  Kind of puffy.  Sweet looking. 
FIONA
Sweet looking?  What?
JIM
Yeah.  Like innocent.  Your nipples, they're puffy and sweet looking.  Really.  I can't help it, they still are.  I still sneak looks at you when you dress.
(Jim goes back to the instructions)

JIM
So you still want to do this?  I mean, what difference does it make?  What's there to miss?  Why go to all this trouble?
FIONA
You don't get it.  I can't believe you don't get it.
JIM
What's that supposed to mean?
FIONA
How can I explain this to you.  When youve got it up, you know, up up, its not like something that you do on purpose. It's not like making a fist or throwing a ball.  It's something that I did to you. Me.  Like making you laugh.  That thing sticking up is you responding to me, like a cat purring when I pet it.  I made you happen that way. I made you purr. It's like looking at a person's thoughts, it's like looking at feelings you can't fake.  I look at that and I think 'I did that to him', I made him feel like this.  'This is how he feels about me right now, this is what he wants and this is a part of who I am to him right now.  Like heat. What am I going to do when I don't get to see that anymore?

     ---   and I'm really going to miss your good old dick inside me.  I'm used to your good old dick.  I want this. 
(Indicates the bucket)
JIM
You know the real problem here?
FIONA
What?
JIM
I'm not big enough for you.
FIONA
OH - that's so stupid!
JIM
No, what it is, your spirit - I mean goddamn.  You're ravenous. Your soul is just so damn big and hungry.  Your personality, its huge. 
FIONA
Me?  This is about me?
JIM
No listen.  You want a conversation?  Lets have a conversation.
                  
                        (Fiona, attentive)

                         JIM
I'm just this kind of dumb guy.  I've never said this, but you make me feel small sometimes, like a small soul.  When we first started out, I figured you'd like me for a while, okay, I'd get to bang you a little while, okay, and you'd get bored and dump my ass and move on and look for somebody good.  I was always waiting for the day when you'd decide you had me figured out and you wanted to move on to somebody interesting.  But you keep drilling down deeper.  Sometimes I don't know why you keep me around. I never thought we'd make it this far. You've got this hungry soul, and I'm not big enough for you.  Your soul is just deep.  Im not big enough to fill up that soul, and somehow youre still here.
FIONA
Well, now you know.  I don't just keep you around.
JIM
I don't know anything.  I don't know what you want me to do with your little Kentucky Fried Pecker bucket there.

FIONA
Well, (looking under the cover)
     -right now we can't do much of anything. 
(Pokes at the contents of the bucket) 

This stuff is ready to go.  The paper only gives you a few minutes to get the impression made so let's get Little Jim up to take off speed and get this thing going.
(Reaching under the cover)
Wakey wakey.
(Looking frustrated)
Let's see.
(Ducks under the covers with the bucket.  At first Jim looks under the cover to watch.  Becomes embarrassed)

What's going on with you?  What's wrong?  Are you having some kind of trouble?
JIM
I've never had any kind of trouble.
FIONA
So what do you need?
JIM
It's not something I can do.  It just happens when it happens.  Just like you said.
FIONA
Are you scared?  Say it.

                                            JIM
(getting angry)
What's not to be scared? Huh? That I'll be in diapers all my life because I can't stop pissing myself like a baby? You mean that? What’s wrong with that?  Or how about this thing -
(holds up the "Clone a Willy" kit and puts it down.  Rushes to her and shouts loudly, threateningly, inches from her face))
because I'll never get my BONER up good and hard like a man again in my whole goddamn life  -


- What's not to be scared?  What’s wrong with that?

(As Jim pulls away Fiona explodes)
FIONA
I hate this!  I can't stand this!
(Throws the bucket across the room and screams)

JIM
We can still do this.  If you want. Let's try it again, let's go.
FIONA
I'm not doing it.  I'm done.  Jerk off or something, you do it without me, I'm not doing it.  Oh god!  Why does this shit always happen to us?  What did we do wrong?
JIM
Fiona, we didn't do anything.

FIONA
It's not fair.  It's so fucking not fair.  We don't deserve this.
JIM
No we don't.  Nobody does.  It is what it is. 
FIONA
We were so good together.  You were good to me.  I saw a lot of dicks before yours, but yours was the one I wanted to keep.  Now everything's going to shit!  I hate this!
JIM
This is not a done deal.  Shut your shit down. The Universe doesnt do stuff personal.  Prostate cancer, its not punishment.  It just happens from too much sunlight or eating french fries or some goddamn thing.  Its just our turn in the barrel.  That's all.  We've had it good so far.
FIONA
I hate this.
JIM
You can beat anything if you have faith in yourself.
FIONA
Oh - fuck that!  Where did you hear that?  In a Disney movie?  Don't you dare talk to me like I'm fucking Cinderella, don't you dare fucking talk down to me.
(Crying hard)

I'm not a little kid, Jim, but I'll die without you.
JIM
I'm not going away anywhere.
(Trying to hold her, she shakes him off)

Nobody's dying here.  It's just life, I'm just getting old.  DNA breaks down, things happen.  Doctor Howard, my dick doc says that statistically men over forty -
FIONA
Shut the fuck up!!
(Jim is stunned, backs off frustrated)

Stop explaining shit to me.  You're always explaining shit to me.  Will you please, please, please, please stop explaining shit to me?
(turning away)I think I'm going crazy.
JIM
(Gently, cautiously puts his hands then his arms around her and gentles her to him holding her in his arms as she weeps against him)

You're making way too big a deal out of this.  You try too hard.  You love too much.
(After a pause)

You know there's other ways.
FIONA
(Over time, quieting down.  Then looking to him hopefully)

Like what?  (Leans on him)  Give me something. Help us out here.
JIM
Sometimes when this happens, a woman can take on a lover.  A younger man maybe, just for physical relief.  Just to make love.  If you wanted someone just to take care of that part of your life for you, it would be okay with me, I swear.  I'd give you my blessing, as long as you're happy.  As long as I know you still loved me, I'd be fine.  I want you to have what you need.  I want you to be happy.
(Fiona expressionless, long slow cool burn.  Quiet anger as she looks at him.  Tension builds.  Soon - very suddenly, shockingly, she slaps his face.)
FIONA
Asshole. 
        
JIM
Fiona!
FIONA
How can you even think I'd do that to you? How can you even say that to me?
JIM
Fiona, what the fuck -
FIONA
Where does it stop?  What if it were me instead of you?  What if I had cancer of the pussy and they cut off my pussy?  Hah?  What?  What if they cut off my boobs someday?  Hah?  That happens to people.  It's okay Jim, go find yourself some sweet thing you can bang like a bunny as long as you still love me.
JIM
I'd never do that to you.
FIONA
Then what makes you think I'd do that to you?
JIM
I'm just saying.
FIONA
Well, don't say stupid shit!
(pause)

JIM
I'm sorry.  Okay?  I'm just saying.
FIONA
I'm sick.  I'm sick with love.  I'm sick OF love.  I didn't know anything could hurt this bad.  I should be strong for you and Im not.  Im so not.
(pause)

How?  How can you not be scared?
JIM
You reach an age, you have to pick your nightmares.  You can't be scared of everything that's coming down the road at you, because there's just too much stuff.  If it wasn't this, it would be something else.  And when we get to the other end of this, there'll just be something else.  It never stops.

I don't know.  Losing you would scare me.  It would, I'm not just saying that.  Losing you.  Losing this - I don't know.  Losing you would scare me.  You know why?
FIONA
Why?
JIM
Because then there wouldn't be a witness.  There wouldn't be a friend.  You know me.  You've been there, you've been through all my bullshit and you still like me anyway.  Everybody needs a witness to their life.  You want that hand, that steady hand that holds on to you.  Everybody needs a witness who says 'I knew that guy - I was there'. After a while that's what being married is.  You have this person who bears witness to your life, who knows you were there.

We'll go on.  Because that's what we do.  And when one of us is gone, the other will go on.  Because that's what we do too. 

(They embrace and lay together.  Fade to black.)




2 comments:

  1. A beautiful job of "drilling down deeper" through surface reactions to reveal the true cores of their feelings. I did at first feel that Fiona should, as she says, have been stronger for him, not making things harder, but the result did bring them closer to each other.

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  2. Hi sacchi!

    I'm falling so far behind here. Thank you for reading this. I know it looks pretty long. I heard someone else say that about fiona too. She's a difficult character that way. This story went through so many stages. It really shows the value of rewriting, especially dialogue. The thing about this play from my view is that its a lot about how people manage fear. Jim makes jokes about the cancer to hide his fear which is something guys would do. Fiona is trying to take some kind of assertive action to get control over the situation but their fear shows anyway.

    Thanks sacchi!!

    Garce

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