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The Fruit-Cake (Act IV: The Apartment Part one of two Parts)
Rosario and Lee got married, they are now in their own small apartment, it is mid-afternoon [and by implication], the apartment is more similar to a studio-apartment, having one large room with a roll-a-way bed [otherwise known as a Murphy Bed], and an archway to the kitchen that is a little pronounced because of its huge ceilings; — the bathroom is beyond the kitchen, that one can only see a door to.
This is a good time to let you in on the news, Oliver, our faithful, man of dry-wit, was the best man at the wedding, which took place six-months ago. I can assure you, he was a blast, but on the other hand, I can’t really say much about the furniture in their new apartment, it is not a blast, at least to look at, it is rather simple at its finest, ordinary; I think Rosario is satisfied with this although, but Lee is a bit embarrassed. There is a radio and sofa chair by Lee, and a stand next to his right elbow; about several feet from his chair is a rocker for– [you got it] Rosario, with a tall floor lamp by her chair, woops, both Rosario and Lee have a floor lamp by their chairs. Lee is a firm believer in the old ways of life, man should have his own big chair, and lamp; –Lee is now looking at his first disability check he got from the Government, for he can no longer work because of his heart and possible future stroke along with something unknown that makes him weaker than one would expect; as time passes on, the doctors are checking him out, possible a neurological issue of sorts they say.
On the other hand, Rosario continues to work at the hospital and Oliver now their new best friend has retired, he worked in the fur trade, and then after that become obscure, and he worked at the Post Office. Rosario has walked over to Lee and he shows her the government check. As I am explaining this to you, she [Rosario] knows he cannot work anymore, and so she is thinking about going over to encourage him in his life long dream, which is to write music, and combine that with his poetry.
Lee. Yaw– [Rosario putting the check back into Lee’s hands] what’s up!
Rosario. Why don’t you write some music, like you’ve always wanted to, you got the time, I support it, and who knows, it could be quite enlightening? [She walks into the kitchen; she has planted the seed, now it’s ‘food for thought,’ time.]
There is no reply.
Lee! [Says Rosario.]
–Still no reply…
Lee! Are you out there?
Lee [with uncertainty]. Are you, you really serious?
Rosario [enthusiastically]. As serious as a heart attack– oops, I didn’t mean that, the wrong word. It will keep you busy, and you’re fond of music, and I adore your poetry.
Lee. Don’t scream it out, it bothers me.
Lee [walking into the kitchen]. I hear you baby, I like the idea–I’d be fond of it, I mean a whole, whole lot…do you think I’m good enough, I mean really, really, really good enough? I mean would you care to listen to my music if you were not married to me [pause]. Well, would you?
Rosario [absentmindedly]. Good enough for what?
Lee [increasingly annoyed]. Yaw, I’ll turn down the radio…d o w nnn…
Lee. I can do it, I can do it [a knock at the door]
Rosario. Well, I know that, who’s at the door? [She swiftly moves out of the kitchen to the door before Lee gets out of his sofa chair.]
She opens the door, it’s Oliver–
He is standing in the doorway [he is a colorful dresser to say the least] with yellow stocking on up to the knees. He towers over Rosario at 6-foot three inches. He has a blue satin vest on, a little wild looking; thin in the face, and long hair. His coat I’d say he looks like it is in need of a good press job, an old relic from the last war, hidden in some attic, Rosario conjures in her mind; –reminiscent of the Civil war, at least. He has a white shirt on, with a red tie, maybe not coordinating colors, but bright; –a wide belt stretching across his over lapping stomach [Rosario is thinking, think she is thinking, ‘could that belt stretch his belly button out of shape?]. He has that Oliver grin on his face, that says sarcasm may came at any moment, anytime, anywhere, anyplace, possible here, right now, the one that says here I am, for better or worse [he has a heartily kind of composure to himself].
Oliver [a big hearty smile on his face, a twinkle in his eye]. Just passing by thought I’d stop and see the two love birds [he hands her a big sack of potatoes, twenty-pounds]; my mother always said to bring a gift when you go visiting, and my dad always said, ‘make it a surprise.’ [He starts laughing.] Got to please you both,–you know.
Rosario [bright eyed]. You haven’t been around for a month; Lee and I were wondering if you were ill. You were coming around once a week before. [not sure if this is a question or a statement, everyone is silent for a moment]
Oliver [answering Rosario, as Lee remained silent for a moment longer]. Don’t want to ware out my welcome, sweetie!
Lee. Haw, that’s my territory old man, only I say sweetie. [There was something in the tone of his voice for a moment, as he put his cigarette out in the ashtray next to him.]
Oliver. Well who told you to marry her, haw…haw?
Rosario. Oh-ooooooo Oliver, Lee didn’t tell me about that, so he needed some coaching, did he [Rosario looking at Lee and Oliver both humorously]
Lee [serious as usually, he is trying to change the subject]. Why–why the potatoes, I’ve never seen anyone bring potatoes over before; unbelievable.
Rosario turns around to shut the door, Lee is looking at Oliver, takes his hands and waves them–as if to say, ‘hush up’ about his coaching, and reminiscent of a zipper, he pretends to zip his lips shut. Oliver says in a whisper, “You asked for it.”
Oliver [he exclaimed laughing]. What was that? [He heard him–a pause.] Why not?
♪ The Music ♫
Lee [suspiciously, with a funny grin on his face]. I guess she’s right [a mutual glare from both of them appear].
Oliver [with quiet laughter]. Glad you didn’t end up with that humming bird, or maybe I should call her a chatter-box. Oh she was nice looking, healthy with the body parts, but talk, talk, talk, and never stop. Oh, yes, she was a talker; surely from a genetic trait way back yonder some place. Just think Lee, had you married her, you would never be able to talk; she’d be doing all the talking. What would you be doing? I’ll tell you right now what you’d be doing, standing at the courthouse getting a divorce. She would have driven you to a hotel, just to get away from her, probably divorce you quicker than making a pan-cake, and drive you to drink. Fickle, that’s what most of the women are today, unpredictable, fickle-d, and pickled; don’t know what they want these new modern women, and when they got it, are happy for a season, and then–find out it was just a joy ride they were after…
Well, you know.
Lee [scornfully]. I wish you wouldn’t bring her up, you always seem to, and it’s just not nice. She had her issues, and I married Rosario, thank God. And that is that.
Oliver. You can say that again!
Lee. What did I say…?
Oliver [with a hiss]. Issues! Yaw, that…’sssssss what they all say; issues my as…S-sssssss. [Pause.] She had an encyclopedia of issues then. Everything was an issue. I don’t know what she had, but I know what she needed, and that was a kick in the ass-sssssssss. Yes, brother, a good old kick in the ass. And that should have been done 50-years ago. Nowadays, the kids run the show, the social workers, and the parent is are on trial, and then the government says, ‘You got to watch those kids, listen to them, hug them, give them love.’ Horse shit, a good kick in the ass is love enough, and then get on with business, that’s what I say, that’s what they need. We pay these social workers to be social, and that’s far from their mentality. A parent that is too lazy to kick his kid in the ass is too lazy to raise them.
Lee. Oliver, calm down.
Oliver. I do get carried away, don’t I? I’m glad you got Rosario, at any rate; if I don’t calm down I’ll end up back in that damn hospital, listening to everyone bellyache, and those damn kids screaming and yelling, a bunch of rug-rats; I raised mine, and they are as thankless, and useless except for one, as the day is long.
Lee. Yaw, I know you do, –get carried way that is… [Both smiling at one another, Oliver’s head is down a little, akin to a boy who has been scolded, yet knows he does what he does because he loves you, not to hurt you.]
Oliver [staring at papers on the side of Lee’s chair]. What’s all that stuff, looks like music?
Rosario [proudly]. My husband is a composer of music, he writes poetry also.
Oliver [looking a bit impressed]. Say Rosario, can this guy really write that kind of stuff-♪♫ or is this ‘bull- sh…t’?
Rosario. Yes, yes, he can. His poems are his music; his lyric’s that is–music added to poems.
Oliver. People don’t talk like that, poems-music,–music-poems. Talk English to me.
Lee [critically]. Oliver, let me explain, if I can. Poetry, barring the Yale type taught crowd, who would present criticism at any turn at the good ripe age of two-days old [sarcasms, reeking from his face], music is poetry in motion. In contrast, it is a story Oliver, yup, that is what it is, and if one was to go beyond that, a novel if you will. After I’m dead and buried, listen to it a few times for about six months and then do a comparison, or analyze it [he hands Oliver a copy of his music with the lyrics] I have a few copies, as I was trying to say, don’t judge it as the Yale critic would, in one day, it has to ferment similar to wine…
Oliver [quite impressed]. Wine haw, you are definitely right there, Lee, I mean you got what it takes. You should have been doing this years ago [Rosario looks at Lee and Oliver, and nodes her head, pointing her finger at her forehead as if to say Lee has some unused smarts].
Oliver rocking in the chair, Rosario standing by the archway into the kitchen in the main room of the Studio Apartment; the sun is shining through the windows, as the shades on the windows are half up, and the curtains drawn back and wrapped with ropes. The floor is made of shinning polished and waxed wood, as are the doors, and the cabinet work in the main room as well as the kitchen.
Oliver [critical]. If you write about me in those lyric’s I hope you do me justice. I am not… [He starts to read one of the music sheets, the lyrics] I was saying, I am not, or do not, I should say, reveal me as one of those ordinary people, you know as so many authors do. You read one novel, and then another and the characters are all the same, nothing new. No different shapes to them. If you didn’t know their names, you’d never know who they were. Our character tells a person who we are, not our names, not after the day you are born anyways.
Lee. I didn’t know you were a philosopher of sorts; yes, a profound thinker I’d say. You are well read my friend. Most people would say my mother was ordinary, as ordinary goes; but what is ordinary, maybe to some people like me it is a blessing to be ordinary, and to other people it is common to be ordinary, and still for others they hate being ordinary. What ever it is my mother’s ordinary character taught me to stand tall, be honest, work hard, and don’t let everything bother you: she believed in me. There was what I call an ordinary priority in her life: god, me and my brother and her, and beyond that, we go into second gear. Maybe she really wasn’t ordinary, maybe it is simple me that is, or wanted to be.
Oliver [with a smirk]. No, I’m not a philosopher; not really, I just know garbage from true fiction; or maybe better put garbage from historical fiction. God made everyone different, yet we put names on everyone, and that is how we are known. How about using a few good impressions to describe us with, me, in particular if you ever use me? Or let’s say, just as you described your mother being ordinary. It really wasn’t a description of an ordinary person, but rather the impression I get is, she got around, new what she wanted, had direction, took from life, life and lived it. What more can we do. Possibly she was a realist, and partly dreamer, like you.
Lee. How should I shape you, should I try?
Oliver. Hm…mm! You trying to [pause] — I want to read this stuff, but back to your question. I should be characterized different, that is from a different angle, like your mother, ‘simple, but multifaceted.’ Similar to your songs also; are they not all different, but complex in their own way…have their own personality [?] One is on “Death,” another on “Love,” something we all thing about; another on finding and searching for some one, something we all have experienced, all these things mold us, make and adjust our priorities, as it did for your mother and you, as it does for you and your wife, as it is doing with you and as…as I look at these music sheets, the words, notes and all, I can’t quite anticipate them, as you can not anticipate me, and whoever reads about me, that is somewhat how it should start. When I read a book, I first try to read half of the book and if I can it tell me it might be a good book; if I can’t, it is just old music being played over, I just stop playing it, or in my case reading it, if I already know the ending, why read it: a good book should not be able to let you know what the ending is going to be before you get there. The only difference being, it’s a new day. Some of these writers in Paris, Hollywood, New York, think they are writing something new. I call it ‘The Original Old Foolish Stuff…’ if I could think of a longer name for it I would. I want to be something new in your book, on each sentence, or stanza in your song, or poem, a spark that never was–that’s me. Does that make sense? Like your mother, she is someone to you that will never be again. No body will take her imprint off you. God gave you her as a gift, it was his gift…not a perfect gift, just like you, not perfect, but a gift that will open your whole being up every time you think of her.
Lee. You want me to make you into a ‘Best Seller,’ well Oliver, you are to me or us, my wife and I that is: you already are a Best Seller. I’m not any big music writer or anything like that, but if I do write about you I will give it a good try and make you unique; you will be a hero, like my mother. I do not have many heroes, but she is one. I’m not sure what makes a hero, but I know what doesn’t make one, and that is all these foolish actors on TV that play parts and live contrary to what they’d have you believe. They no more believe in the parts they play than in the people they meet, it is all money, power and glory, they think they are something more special than other people, simply because they get an applause, how foolish can a brain be. Some play parts in wars and never were even a soldier, or for that matter Boy Scout, like a writer to be a real writer, you got to live it; like a bullfighter, or a bull watcher, you are one or the other, and of course the bullfighter can tell you the truth, and the watcher tells what he only sees, which is a half truth, but for the ‘buck,’ they’ll pretend anything, and get drunk later–and then expect the public to think of them as heroes, how about over paid whores–or puppies. When you perform in doing something you do not believe in, it is what you are, you sell yourself cheap. My wife is a hero of sorts, and so are you, a little hero to me.
Oliver [now puts a little more thought into his writing as he looks onto the music sheets]. Strange to say but I must, you’re a little inefficient, are you not old chap or should I say young man. I only see one fly in the soup…
Lee. And what is that?
Oliver [hesitantly]. You and your wife are settled, content, almost placid at times, and still quite attracted to one another, writing all this music takes time, effort, and stress–lots of stress for such a short time in writing them. You got to take it easy my friend. [Lee smiled at Oliver, his wife watching him]. Your writing is fine, it is the process …
Oliver. Now let me read out loud these lyrics:
As Love goes by
C– – ♫ It was-n’t in Pa- ris, ♪ it was- n’t in Rome…. ♫ It wasn’t at the tash- ma—–hal ♪♫ I met her in Bei- jing, standing by the Em-pe-ror’s wall…♫ Her eyes were full of sky… here voice full of soul…. Her shape was like a god-dess, of mar-ble and of…. Gold…. Her in- sides like a blos-somed rose…. A blos- somed rose…. We shared our glor-ry, we shared our hearts…. ♫♪ AS LOVE GOES….. ♫ BY….. ♪ [long pause, musical] We shared our glo- ry, we shared our hearts… ♪ We nev-er missed a cue. …… ♫♪ Our love was touched by Beijing…mist… …. Our faith was crys-tal new…. Fare- well, fare- well!! We sang our song, as lovers of-ten do…. Then with a kiss… a touch and a sigh, We left the world…. We knew…. We left the world, we left the world…. Re-newed…. Then with a touch and a sigh, we left the world we knew….♫.. As love Goes by… As Love goes by, Love goes by… G E7 G F D7 G G7 Ami G
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