|General Script posted January 2, 2022||Chapters:||-1- 2...|
Beware the Downloaded Story
A chapter in the book Eavesdroppers Are We All
Eavesdroppers Are We All, Sc. 1
by Jay Squires
CHARACTERS: (Listed and described in Author Notes ... I highly recommend that you read them first.)
SETTING: Interior of a Eat and Leave Happy diner. Tables with chairs scattered about, a few not occupied. A lunch counter runs from upstage to downstage right, with cushioned stools lining the outside, a few occupied. A rectangular opening behind the counter where orders are placed and steaming food-laden plates are delivered. Upstage center, an old-fashioned nickelodeon hunkers. Upstage right, exit to restrooms and hallway leading to Jackson’s and Martha’s home. Upstage to downstage Left, a huge window offering a view of the outside blizzard.Time: New Year’s Eve, 1968
At Rise: Entire stage is in shadow, table occupants gesturing and talking, but in pantomime, and the only light is cast on mini-skirted CILILLA QUEEZ, stopping to consider first one, then another of the table’s occupants. Downstage left stands a man of indeterminate age, in shadow, but seeming lost, scratching his head and looking about.
(Addressing the standing man, but from enough distance that the stage light on her doesn't illuminate him.)
My name’s Cililla Queez. Yes, I’m speaking to you. No need to look around—it’s you. For some reason, you can see and hear me. That’s odd for an eavesdropper. To the other eavesdroppers—and there’ll probably be a few—and to most of the unwilling guests here in this diner, I’m not even a voice. In that regard, I guess you’ve been singled out. If any of the other guests are allowed to see and hear me, it’ll be because they are thoroughly adrift without me. That’s just the way it is.
My guess is that you’re a scribe. Am I right?
[The man throws up his hands in confusion. He is holding something in his left hand. As CILILLA approaches him, he is illuminated. We see it’s a tablet he holds]
You’re kind of a spiritual recorder of what is going on in the minds of those few here who are adrift, whose lives are transitioning beyond their will. Oh, Sir, have no doubt about it, change is scary. It produces drama. You may have been chosen to record that drama. That being the case, I suppose I should bring you up to speed.
It’s New Year’s Eve, 1968. History will record this as the Great Blizzard of ’68. No one wants to be here. Everyone expected to be elsewhere on New Year’s Eve … some for potentially life-altering reasons. Take this couple over here.
[CILILLA turns and walks a few steps to the rear. She puts her hand on a table, it and the two occupants still in shadow. They’re in each other’s arms. With a little imagination, it could resemble, in shadow, a beast with two heads. (No, I said “heads”) The head of the larger one, though, is clearly inclined to CILILLA. As she speaks again, their table is illuminated, and we can see he is looking at her]
Before the Greyhound had skidded off the Interstate and into the snowbank, it was taking them to New York City, where the young man was to audition on keyboard for the group, Jackellanders, readying to launch its tour of England. You’ll note the black case at his feet. It contains an unassembled keyboard.
The young man’s name is Cornelius. He is autistic. Ah, yes, I was his main lifeline in ’52. Jennie, there with him, is his bride of eight years. Look at her—snuggled up in his arms. They’ll miss the audition, of course. But no two people are more grounded in each other than these two. They’re twenty-eight. They’ll make it. They’ll endure. Now, over there …
[She indicates with a flourishing swing of her left arm, another table, to the rear and right of CORNELIUS and JENNIE occupied by two people seemingly in a sort of animated discussion being led by one who keeps dipping her head toward CILILLA and pointing. As she speaks, that table is illuminated, and Cornelius and Jennie’s table goes back into shadow]
Over there are two people, one of whom I was called here to assist. I’m not sure why, as yet. (Even I am on a need-to-know basis, Sir.) I know we are destined to connect because she—the older one—very regal, isn’t she? at the age of eighty-five—can see me, at times, quite well. Too well. She doesn’t like me, I’m afraid. Bett—that’s her name, short for Betty—is trying to convince her younger partner that I’m actually here. See her? Her partner's name’s Jay, age thirty-eight, and he’s worried about her.
Bett has not yet arrived at the great chasm, where she’ll separate from a lifetime of familiarity and reliability, and begin her drift. It’s close, but it’s not yet time. She may need a nudge. I’ll await my call. Meanwhile …
May I stop you here? This is very entertaining, but you’ve got me all wrong. I was just earning a few member bucks; if I’m lucky, a pump …and—
But why else would you be here? With tablet and pen?
I sometimes make notes on what I’m reading. So … the tablet and pen.
Don’t underestimate what you don’t understand. Now—let me finish. Time is an important ingredient here.
The rest who have assembled here in this Mom and Pop’s on New Year’s Eve, were occupants of the same Greyhound that Cornelius and Jenny were on which had plunged into the snowbank. All these people—lead actors and actresses in their own family dramas—play no more than bit-parts here, except as an occasional catalyst to greater action. A catalyst like little Wallace there …
[With the mention of his name, the third table, occupied by a middle-aged man, woman, and little boy, is illuminated. The boy climbs off his chair, and as CILILLA continues, he is seen skipping through the shadowy area and toward the nickelodeon]
… little Wallace with a fistful of nickels and one song in his head that is, unfortunately, also on the jukebox: Christmas Don’t Be Late, by Alvin and the Chipmunks. Nothing … nothing is more depressing than Christmas music six days after Christmas. The song is beginning for the fifth time.
[With the sound of a coin being inserted, the nickelodeon comes to bright, flashing life as little WALLACE skips back to his table]
All right you Chipmunks, Ready to sing your song?
(Her hands over her ears, she is frowning, and her voice is loud enough to be heard above the music)
See what I’m forced to put up with, all in the name of humanity? But now that I’ve been blessed with a scribe, I’ll leave you here to record the proceedings on your tablet while I sleuth about near Bett and Jay to sense where the energies of change predominate. I can feel a quickening in my atmosphere. Something is about to happen over there.
[As CILILLA goes into shadow, walking toward BETT and JAY’S table, her hands still over her ears, the music plays on, but at a much-reduced volume]
Oh, geez … Gregory here. This is some horrible mistake! I don’t know what I’m doing here. Don’t expect anything from me. I’m no scribe. I’m no recorder. I don’t know where she got that. I dabble a bit with the written word on a website for writers and readers, called FanStory. I’m here because I had downloaded a story to read. You see, FanStory pays me quite well—I mean, not with real money, but—God, it sounds silly when you try to explain it, but—but they pay me to read and evaluate their stories here—that’s all! Still … I’m not the scribe that Cililla fancies I am.
My plan had been to just read a story. Earn my pay. I had no inkling of involving myself in this intrigue at all. The fact that I can see Cililla and hear her, is easy enough to explain:
You see, I know Cililla Queez. She was an impish-like character I met in a stageplay here. And I have more than a passing acquaintance with Cornelius and Jennie, from that same play. Perhaps this is why Cililla singled me out from the other—what did she call them—eavesdroppers.
And Bett and Jay? Oh, yes! They were characters in a free-verse play I’d read here on FanStory. Ages ago. I was rather fond of that play, though I was but one of only a handful of others who read it.
But for whatever reason Cililla has chosen me to chronicle the proceedings here, I am no scribe. I will record for Cililla what I see is happening … until that is, she finds out how wrong her perception of me is.
End of Scene One
CHARACTERSPays one point and 2 member cents.
Cililla Queez: An ageless teen. A bit of a Peter Pan, but on assignment, she is dogged in its execution. Sometimes, though, she has to ferret out what her assignment is.
Eavesdropper: Age unimportant. Name, Gregory. Equipt with a spiral tablet and ballpoint pen, he is a reader/writer on FanStory, called into service by Cililla Queez with whom he is a bit smitten. He is chosen to be the objective recorder of everything that transpires, but he can't help chiming in occasionally with his personal aside. Like any good writer, he is an invisible presence, except to Cililla.
Cornelius Plumb: The autistic genius, now married to Jennie. With his wife as his rudder, he has developed markedly in self-assurance but still has difficulty communicating. He speaks in a clipped style, with sentences ending in a slight inflection.
Jennie Plumb: Married to Cornelius to whom she is thoroughly devoted and lovingly protective of his delicate emotional balance. She might be just a tad bit jealous of a rival whose person is available to Cornelius's attention, but invisible to her.
Hon. Betty (aka Bett) Stabler, Retired: Age 85. Small town Judge for 40 years in a town at the base of the mountain that she and the love of her life, Jay, had climbed in 1903. It was at the precipice of that mountain that she made a decision. A decision that would alter lives for generations.
Jay III: Age 38. Grandson, and namesake, of the original Jay who had stood at the mountain's precipice with Bett and asked the question whose reverberations were still being felt today. Jay III delivered the dying request of his Grandfather and accompanied Bett, then age 72, back to the precipice. Now, 13 years later, he is with her again.
Harry Lowery: Mid-twenties. To his core, he has been driven his entire life by the need to find his father; his search had taken him to the farthest reaches of the world. Only recently has he been notified of his father's death. His life's purpose suddenly gone, he is mentally and spiritually adrift.
Rudy: A scraggly terrier mix, originally boxed away in the holding area on the ill-fated Greyhound that slid off the interstate and into a snowbank. The shuttle bus driver who transported passengers and their baggage to this diner, brought the crate that contained Rudy. Now no one will claim him. He is persistent, pees on anything not moving, and his breath crosses eyes.
Wallace Piebald: A ten-year-old boy who does boy things.
Robert Piebald: Wallace's Father, who's just fine in this world as long as everything goes his way.
Henrietta Piebald: Wallace's Mother, who always "goes her husband's way".
Jackson: Owner of the Eat-'n-Leave-Happy Diner.
Martha: Jackson's wife.
Tom, the shuttle bus driver.
© Copyright 2022. Jay Squires All rights reserved.
Jay Squires has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.