Sundowner
(a play about memory)

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(NURSE looks around and can’t find a chart.)

 

                                                            NURSE

Her chart must have been misplaced.  I’ll go ask at the desk.

 

                                                            KATIE

Please do and ask the doctor to come here and talk to me because I have yet to have seen him, met him, or know his name!

 

                                                            NURSE

Well,…that happens.

 

                        (NURSE starts to go.  KATIE intercepts her.)

 

                                                            KATIE

                        (Whispers)

My mother thinks that Daddy is still alive.

 

                                                            NURSE

Oh.  It’s probably a U.T.I.

 

                                                            KATIE

What’s a U.T.I.?

 

                                                            NURSE

Well, most of the geriatrics on this floor have it.  But I’m not a doctor so I can’t say for sure.

 

                        (Starts off.  KATIE once more stands in her way. )

 

                                                            NURSE (continued)

A urinary track infection.  Sometime it causes dementia. 

 

                                                            KATIE

Are you doing anything about it?

 

                                                            NURSE

She’s not my patient. 

 

                        (NURSE exits….

 

 

S–4  (The birds must have flown away.)

 

….as KATIE crosses to JENNY.  Hospital sounds come back to normal.)

 

                                                            KATIE

Hey, mom.  Well….

 

                                                            JENNY

                        (Quietly)

Where’s Daddy?

 

                                                            KATIE

Did you have your dinner yet?

 

                                                            JENNY

I waited all day for him.  Is he alright?

 

                                                            KATIE

He’s…fine.  He’s…well…mama, don’t you remember?

 

                        (JENNY nods ‘no.’)

 

                                                            KATIE (continued)

Daddy…left…passed away many years ago.  More than nineteen years ago.

 

                        (JENNY looks at KATIE, stunned.  Then cries.)

 

                                                            JENNY

Nobody told me. 

 

                        (KATIE holds her.)

 

                                                            KATIE

Shhh.  Shhhh… It is going to be alright.  Just lie down here a moment.  I…we need someone to tell us what is going on. 

 

                        (She pushes JENNY down and covers her.)

 

                                                            JENNY

Jacqueline can.

 

                                                            KATIE

Who is Jacqueline?  Is that your doctor?

 

                                                            JENNY

No.  She’s my best friend.  She’ll find Daddy.  She did the first time.

 

                                                            KATIE

 I….look…I’ll be right back.  See if I can…find someone.

 

                        (KATIE starts off.  JENNY puts her hand out and stops her.)

 

                                                            JENNY

                        (Focused)

It’s alright, Katie.  Jacqueline will come get me and take me to Daddy.

 

                        (JENNY straightens her covers and smiles.  KATIE hugs and kisses her….

 

 

S–5  (Looking for the birds in a different place.)

 

                        (JACQUELINE runs in as KATIE moves off.  She is dressed in 1945 attire with a very fashionable hairdo.  JENNY, now with the energy of a young woman, jumps from the lounge chair and smoothes her clothing.)

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

                        (French accent)

Jeannine!  The Americans are here!  They are parading down the Champs Elysée!  Come now!

 

                                                            JENNY

Tu es fou! 

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

Ah ah (no no)!  Speak only English.  You must practice for the Americans. 

 

                                                            JENNY

                        (French accent.  A little afraid)

Jacqueline, mais non!

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

Ah!

 

                                                            JENNY

 In English it is the same as in French. You are mad1   Papa would never let me—

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

He has gone with the other men.  Your mama is cooking all afternoon for a victory dinner, so come quickly before anyone knows you are leaving.

 

                                                            JENNY

I cannot.

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

You must1  Collette said the Americans are three meters tall.

 

 

                                                            JENNY

No, no, no, no—

 

                                                            JACQALINE

There are thousands of Parisians cheering for our liberation from the Nazis.  Monsieur will never know you are gone! 

 

                                                            JENNY

No, no, no…

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

Really, Jeannine, here…

                        (Pulls out her lipstick from her purse)

….make yourself beautiful.  There are unmarried soldiers waiting to be kissed by a French girl.

 

                                                            JENNY

I have no intention of kissing any soldiers. If papa—

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

Hurry before your mama calls you to help in the kitchen.  No one will know….

 

                                                            JENNY

Oh!  Jacqueline! 

                        (Pause)

Will this dress do?

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

You one dress for winter and one dress for funerals!  And this dress is for soldiers!  So come! 

 

                        (JENNY hesitates.  JACQUELINE pulls a scarf from her purse.)

 

                                                            JACQUELINE (continued)

Put this scard on.

 

                                                            JENNY

You’re favorite—

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

Hold still.

 

                        (She adjusts the scarf.  It’s beautiful.)

 

 

                                                            JACQUELINE (continued)

Now come.

 

                        (She goes with JACQUELINE, then stops short.)

 

                                                            JENNY

Perhaps this is a bad idea.

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

Ma chère….I know Monsieur will not let Michel come see you.  And if you can not be allowed to marry Michel in France, you will need to marry a soldier from America.  Yes?    

 

                                                            JENNY

Jacqueline, Papa is a powerful man and if—

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

If you do not go out this door with me right now, you will die a horrible death of ennui and old age in your papa’s home!

 

                                                            JENNY

Oh, Jacqueline—

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

I know this.  I know this in my heart.  And I know you need someone to take you far from the stone heart of your  papa. 

 

                        (Takes her hands and slowly brings her toward the exit.)

 

                                                            JACQUELINE (continued)

Come….  Come…  It will be a new world.  A brave new world like Monsieur Shakespeare says.  Come…

 

                        (As JACQUELINE exits and JENNY lies back down….

 

 

S–10  (If only my children could bring the birds back.)

 

…as KATIE enters on cell phone.  ROBBIE enters other side of stage with his cell phone.)

 

                                                            KATIE

I don’t know what the doctor has to say.  There is no doctor.  He’s a figment of everyone’s imagination!

 

 

 

                                                            ROBBIE

Well, somebody has to know what’s wrong with mother.  They THINK she had a stroke just doesn’t cut it.

 

                                                            KATIE

Then why don’t you come down here and ask them for yourself.

 

                                                            ROBBIE

It would take two days for me to drive down—

           

                                                            KATIE

Well, I have to work day after tomorrow and that means being on a plane tomorrow—

 

                                                            ROBBIE

Can’t you find someone, cousin Freddie maybe to—

 

                                                            KATIE

Look, I’m exhausted and…and I’m about to cry and I don’t cry so—

 

                                                            ROBBIE

Don’t cry for God’s sake!

 

                                                            KATIE

What are we going to do?!  We can’t leave her here alone!

 

                        (Silence)

 

                                                            ROBBIE

I’m driving down—

 

                                                            KATIE

You can’t.  You’ve got the kids and—

 

                                                            ROBBIE

I can drive straight through.

 

                                                            KATIE

No, no, no, I…I can…will get off work and—

 

                                                            ROBBIE

You need to let me take over.

 

                                                            KATIE

Oh.  Now wait one minute, like I haven’t been doing a good job—

 

 

                                                            ROBBIE

We can do a relay.  You go to work.  I’ll take over a while.

 

                                                            KATIE

What about your family?  Don’t you drive all four kids in four different directions for four different schools?  You can’t just walk away from that?

 

                                                            ROBBIE

Elizabeth can take over and get some of Missy’s friends’ mothers….It’s fine—

 

                                                            KATIE

I don’t have kids.  I’ll do this.  I’ll figure it out.

 

                        (Long pause)

 

                                                            ROBBIE

Will you keep me posted?

 

                        (Long pause)

 

                                                            KATIE

Of course. 

                        (Pause)

Okay.  So.

 

                                                            ROBBIE

Katie?

 

                                                            KATIE

Hum?

 

                                                            ROBBIE

I’ll be there day after tomorrow.

 

                                                            KATIE

                        (Pause)

Okay.

                        (Pause)

I’ll call into work.  Shouldn’t be a real problem.

                        (Pause)

I’ll make up the guest room for you.  Unless you want to stay in your old room or—

 

                                                            ROBBIE

Hang in there.  We’ll get through this together.

 

 

                                                            KATIE

I know.

 

                                                            ROBBIE

Well….bye.

 

                                                            KATIE

Yeah, bye.

 

                        (Neither wants to hang up.)

 

                                                            ROBBIE

I love you, kiddo.

 

                                                            KATIE

I love you too.

 

                        (They both disconnect the phones.  Look out, really scared.  Both take a deep breath and ROBBIE exits.  KATIE crosses to JENNY’S side…

 

 

S-6  (Ah!  I think I know where the birds are.)

 

….as SOCIAL WORKER enters.)

 

                                                            KATIE

Well, Mom, I think we have it all worked out thanks to the skills of the best social worker in town.

 

                                                            SOCIAL WORKER

Mrs. Delaney, you’ll be moved to the rehab in Molton this afternoon.

 

                                                            KATIE

You are the best social worker in town.

 

                                                            SOCIAL WORKER

                        (To KATIE)

You’ll need to go ahead and fill out the paperwork while we bring your mother over by ambulance.

 

                                                            KATIE

And after rehab…?

 

                                                            SOCIAL WORKER

I’ve made arrangements for assisted living at the Pines. 

 

                                                            KATIE

How did you…?

 

                                                            SOCIAL WORKER

I spoke with the social worker there, not the assistant manager.

 

                                                            KATIE

Oh.

 

                                                            JENNY

                        (Smiles)

You need to tell Jacqueline so she can tell Daddy where to find me.

 

                                                            KATIE

Mama—

 

                                                            SOCIAL WORKER

I don’t think this is the time to time-orient your mother, because it will only upset—

 

                        (KATIE and SOCIAL WORKER exit….

 

 

S–7  (Are the birds here?)

 

….as sounds of a busy street café surround them.  Inside the café, a French singer’s voice filters out to them.

 

JACQUELINE, BUDDY and HENRY(ROBBIE) enter.  The men are dressed in a 1940’s army uniforms.

 

                        JACQUALIINE drags JENNY to sit at the patio table.  BUDDY and HENRY stand to the side watching the passing people and smoking cigarettes.  They eye the women throughout this. )

 

                                                            JENNY

But those men are looking at us. 

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

Is it not wonderful?

 

                                                            JENNY

Well, I am going.

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

No, you are staying.  Smile at them.

 

                                                            JENNY

I will not smile at strangers.

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

We have no choice if we are to meet the American soldiers.

 

                                                            JENNY

We are  NOT properly introduced.  I must go—

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

                        (Calls to off stage)

Garçon!

 

                                                            JENNY

Please.  Please come with me now.

 

                        (Garçon enters with tray and towel on arm.)

 

                                                            GARCON

Oui, Madmoiselles.  Voulez-vous quelque chose à boire?  

 

                                                            JENNY

                        (Simultaneously)

Non!

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

Oui !

                        (Smiles toward the men)

They will buy us something to drink.  With a proper introduction.

 

                                                            JENNY

Jacqueline, non!

 

                                                            GARCON

Bien sûr, Mademoiselles. 

 

                        (Garçon approaches BUDDY and HENRY and speaks quietly to them.)

 

                                                            JENNY

No, no, no, no….

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

Sit right down.  Now!  We shall be properly introduced—

 

                                                            JENNY

By the garçon?!

 

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

He is my cousin.

 

                                                            JENNY

He is not your cousin. I know your entire family and—

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

He is the brother of my first cousin’s second wife.  François?

 

                        (Garçon stops speaking with men and turns to JACQUELINE.)

 

                                                            GARCON

Oui, ma cousine?

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

Ta sœur est bien aujourd'hui?

 

                                                            GARCON

Mais, oui. 

 

                        (He turns back to the men gesturing toward the women.)

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

See? 

                        (Hands JENNY the lipstick and compact)

Your lips need more color.

                        (JENNY pushes it away.)

If François does not think it is appropriate for us to meet them, I assure you, ma chère, we shall not meet them. 

                        (She puts it on JENNY’S lips anyway.)

Hold still.  There.  Perfect. 

 

                        (GARCON leads the men to the table.)

 

                                                            GARCON

Jacqueline, I present Les Américains, our liberators and honored guests of France.  Monsieur Robert…

 

                                                            BUDDY

                        (Southern accent)

Buddy is fine.

 

                                                            GARCON

Delaney.  And Monsieur …

 

                                                            HENRY

…Sergeant…

 

                                                            GARCON

Mais oui!  Sergeant Henri Neill.  Gentleman, ma cousine, Jacqueline Bouchard and her lovely friend…

 

                                                            JACQUELINE

…Jeannine Pelletier. 

 

                        (BUDDY rushes to JENNY’S side and extends his hand.  JENNY shyly takes it.  As they shake hands, JACQUELINE, GARCON, and HENRY slowly exit.  JENNY withdraws her hand and he leaves his extended for a second longer.)

 

                                                            BUDDY

It is a pleasure to meet you.  How do you say your name again?

 

                                                            JENNY

Mademoiselle Pelletier. 

 

                                                            BUDDY

No…I mean your first name.

 

                                                            JENNY

Jeannine.  And you are…Buddy?

 

                                                            BUDDY

I am.

 

                        (BUDDY exits still making eye contact with JENNY.

 

The sound of an ambulance siren.  Frightened, JENNY goes back to the bed , terrified….

 

 

S–8  (No, these are not the birds.)

 

…Lights shift to a softer shade.  Same hospital sounds, only less intrusive.  

 

Male Nurse, MICHAEL enters with female nurse, JACKIE.  He is gentle, she is not as they tuck the covers around her.)

 

                                                            MICHAEL

Mrs. Delaney, do you know where you are?

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