DEVIL'S MILE

A PLAY IN THREE ACTS

By K. Brian Neel & Paul Shipp

© 2002 all rights reserved

 

 

 

        Cast of Characters: 

Scott Burton

Ella Burton

Father Max 

Naurda 

Abronia 

Enrique 

Rudolfo 

 

Charlie

Pilar

Maria

Pablo

Brian

Keely

'Lover'

Carmen

 

 

The play takes place in and around San Lino, New Mexico, in the desert off US Highway 60. 

 

 

ACT ONE: HOLY THURSDAY

 

SCENE ONE: DESERT ROAD. ELLA AND SCOTT ENTER WEARILY, HAVING WALKED A DISTANCE. SHE HALTS AND PUTS DOWN THE SUITCASE.

ELLA 

Let's take a break. I'm exhausted.

SCOTT 

I can see it in the distance. Keep walking.

ELLA 

Slave driver.

SCOTT 

That's why you love me.

ELLA 

(Sits on the case)

Mmmmm.

SCOTT 

(Noticing her)

OK, break.

ELLA 

So, is Tucson out?

SCOTT 

I don't know.

ELLA 

What do you think is wrong with the car?

SCOTT 

The sooner we get into that town, the sooner we'll find out.

ELLA 

I didn't think we'd be going for a walk in the middle of the desert. It's the shoes.

SCOTT 

Did you want to stay in the car and hope that someone would happen by?

ELLA 

If we'd taken the interstate…

SCOTT 

If we'd taken the interstate, we'd still be stuck in the middle of nowhere.

 

ELLA 

Right, no one's to blame.

(Pause)

I’m hungry.

SCOTT 

Want a carrot?

ELLA 

No.

SCOTT 

It's all we got.

ELLA 

I don't like raw carrots.

SCOTT 

(Crunching on a carrot)

Picky.

ELLA 

Should have brought the donuts.

SCOTT 

If we get into town soon, they might be able to fix the car today. If it's a small thing, which I think it is. Still make Tucson by ten.

ELLA 

I don't think it's a small thing.

SCOTT 

Will you help me out here?

ELLA 

I'm tired and hungry.

SCOTT 

I bet you that town has a burger. Stand up. Walk. Sooner we get there, the sooner you'll eat that burger.

ELLA 

Such the motivator.

(Scott starts walking without her)

Wait. I'm coming. Scott!

(She picks up the bag and follows. Cross to the very small town of San Lino.)

SCOTT 

There's a gas station.

ELLA 

Where is everybody?

SCOTT 

It's totally dark. It's closed.

ELLA 

Here's a café.

SCOTT 

Why would it be closed on a Thursday? This is Thursday, right?

ELLA 

  (Reading sign)
"Café open at 2:00"

SCOTT 

Great. Just great.

(The faint sound of a sermon rises in the quiet.)

SCOTT 

It's a fucking ghost town.

ELLA 

Scott!

SCOTT 

Let's go to a house.

ELLA 

What?

SCOTT 

Knock on someone's door.

ELLA 

You can't do that.

SCOTT 

It's a small town. People are friendly in small towns.

ELLA 

Listen.

SCOTT 

  (listening)
Is that church?

ELLA 

Why don't you go knock on the church?

SCOTT 

Why is there church on Thursday?

ELLA 

Oh, Holy Thursday.

SCOTT 

Happy Thursday?

ELLA 

Holy. Holy Thursday… Good Friday, Easter.

SCOTT 

What's Saturday?

ELLA 

I don't know.

(The bell tower rings. They are startled.)

ELLA 

What a beautiful church.

SCOTT 

At last we can get some help.

(Rudolfo Garadi, rough cut young man, exits the church. He notices the couple and meanders over to them.)

SCOTT 

Excuse me, can you tell us where we can find a mechanic? Our car has broken down outside of town. We're on our way to Tucson.

RUDOLFO 

(In Spanish) I'm sorry, mister, but I do not speak English.

SCOTT 

Christ. 

RUDOLFO 

(In Spanish) Too bad, it looks like you're totally fucked. 

SCOTT 

  (Miming and deaf-talking)
My car… Broke down… On road… Outside town.

ELLA 

Jesus, Scott.

 

 

RUDOLFO 

(Laughing.)
(In Spanish) If you could only see yourself. You're a complete idiot. 

SCOTT 

He's laughing. Beautiful.

(Abronia and Enrique come up. Enrique unlocks the door to the café.)

ABRONIA 

Rudolfo, leave them alone. Go start the coffee.

RUDOLFO 

Okay. Pleasure meeting both of you. (Enters with Abronia.)

ENRIQUE 

His Spanish is terrible.

ABRONIA 

I'm so sorry. Rudolfo is always doing that. Why don't you come inside.

SCOTT 

Can you tell us where we can find a mechanic?

ABRONIA 

Everything's closed for the weekend.

SCOTT 

Weekend? It's Thursday.

ABRONIA 

Today is the feast and tomorrow is Good Friday.

SCOTT 

Of course.

ABRONIA 

Naruda might help you though. He's the tow truck driver. 

(Calling) 

Naruda. Come here. These folks are having car problems.

NARUDA 

Hello. 

(They shake hands.)

ABRONIA 

Let me get that hominy for your mother.

NARUDA 

No, she's fine. She had more than she thought.

ABRONIA 

Oh, your mother's pisole. I can't wait. I'm so hungry. (she enters café)

SCOTT 

You're a mechanic?

NARUDA 

Yes.

SCOTT 

My name is Scott Burton. This is my wife Ella. Our car is about three miles down the road. We were just driving when there was this knocking sound. Like a rock bouncing up in the engine. (Makes sound) The car stalled and it won't start back up. I looked in there and didn't find a rock, of course. It's a Toyota Camry. 

NARUDA 

Could be the manifold.

SCOTT 

But I don't think it's serious. My wife and I need to get to Tucson by ten o'clock. 

NARUDA 

I'm closed for the weekend. Maybe I can go get it on Saturday, but today, my family and I…

SCOTT 

That's not going to work.

NARUDA 

Tonight's the feast…

SCOTT 

All you need to do is run out there. It's only two o'clock. We'll go out there and be done by four at the latest.

NARUDA 

That's not going to work for me, sir.

SCOTT 

Okay, look. Here. (Pulls money from his wallet) How much?

NARUDA 

No, sir.

SCOTT 

How much do you want? Is there an ATM? I can get you more money. Is that what you want?

NARUDA 

No, sir. That's not what I want. Excuse me. 

(He walks away)

SCOTT 

Can you believe this? Is there anyone here who can fix my car?

ELLA 

Scott. Let's get a glass of water.

SCOTT 

This is unacceptable, Ella.

ELLA 

I'm going to get something to eat. 

(She enters the café)

SCOTT 

San Lino, New Mexico. Thursday! Is the hotel open? Is there a hotel? 

(He goes into the café)

 

SCENE 2: CAFE

 (Scott joins Ella in a booth. Abronia walks over to them.)

SCOTT 

(Under breath)

So why is this place open?

ABRONIA 

Sorry folks, not a full menu today. We have coffee, pop, and a sweet roll, is all we got.

ELLA 

Can we get some ice water? And I'll have coffee and a sweet roll. 

(Scott shakes his head no.) 

It's going to be alright. 

(He glares at her.)

ELLA 

We'll get a hotel, stay a couple of days. Relax. We'll start our vacation here.

SCOTT 

I was just looking forward to getting to your parent's cabin. Being alone. I can't relax here. Or concentrate. It's too.. I don't know, crowded. And weird. It's not comfortable here like in the cabin. Not as easy to talk.

ELLA 

We can talk here.

SCOTT 

I can't talk here.

ELLA 

We can go for walks in the desert. 

SCOTT 

What about your shoes?

ELLA 

I'll buy new ones.

SCOTT 

Nothing's open.

ELLA 

I'm trying to make this alright.

SCOTT 

You can't make this alright.

ELLA 

I'm sorry.

SCOTT 

I don't want to hear that.

(Rudolfo interrupts with water.)

SCOTT 

Thank you.

RUDOLFO

You're welcome.

(Rudolfo goes back behind the counter as Abronia comes with their order. Charlie enters.)

ABRONIA 

Enrique! Charlie's here.

(Enrique comes from the back
to behind the counter.)

ENRIQUE

Hey there. You alright?

CHARLIE 

I'm fine. Why?

ENRIQUE

You didn’t sit with us.

CHARLIE

I was late.

ENRIQUE

So?

CHARLIE 

I wanted to sit by myself today.

ENRIQUE

That's it?

CHARLIE 

Yeah.

ENRIQUE

Nothing else?

CHARLIE 

No.

ENRIQUE

Okay.

CHARLIE 

Yeah.

ENRIQUE

You'd tell me, right?

CHARLIE 

Tell you what?

ENRIQUE

If something was wrong.

CHARLIE 

Who else am I gonna tell?

ENRIQUE

Okay.

CHARLIE 

Can I have a cup of coffee now?

(Enrique smiles and heads back to the kitchen. Charlie smiles at the strangers, tips his hat to Abronia.)

ABRONIA 

Coffee and a bear claw, but if you ask me, Enrique went a little wild on the cinnamon, and they were made yesterday so they might be a tad dry. I popped it in the microwave to soften it up, but still might be better for dunking. 

(She sits next to Ella) 

You two alright?

ELLA 

We're fine. Thank you.

ABRONIA 

Look, kids, this is nothing food. The whole town is shut down for the feast. We all gather at Guadeloupe hall for the celebration of the last supper. Everybody brings a dish. Oh, it's delicious. Fill you up. They'll have to roll you away. Why don't you come? You'll be my guests.

ELLA 

That sounds great. Honey?

SCOTT 

Sure Where else are we gonna go?

ELLA 

Scott.

ABRONIA 

I'm sorry you're stuck here, but this is a good time to get stuck. These are the biggest days of the year. Saguardos de Narcisco. The feast of Holy Thursday, the devils of Good Friday. It's quite a sight. It's not a thing for tourists. We keep it to ourselves. But since you are here.  

ELLA 

Thank you very much. Excuse us, we're just a little in shock right now. 

ABRONIA 

I understand.

ELLA 

Is there a hotel here?

ABRONIA 

Oh yes. The Best Western at the end of the street, just past the church. If there's anything I can do to make you feel more welcome… (She goes behind the counter)

ENRIQUE 

  (Emerging from the back room)
Good Mass, eh Charlie?

CHARLIE 

Max is saving up for supper.

ENRIQUE 

Aw, he was full of the spirit. He has all year to rest. Hell, we all do. 

(Laughs)

ELLA 

What are you doing?

SCOTT 

What?

ELLA 

I'm trying to make the best of this and you're subverting everything I do. 

SCOTT 

I'm subverting? What are you talking about? Subverting. You'd know a lot about that.

ELLA 

I'm trying to help this. If we're going to work through it, we have to start sometime. We're here, away from it all. Right? That's what you wanted, right? If you're going to be hateful at everything again… hateful at me again. Not that you don't have the right to react this way.

SCOTT 

Did he act differently?

ELLA 

That's not fair. 

SCOTT 

What's fair?

ELLA 

This certainly isn't. Your saying that isn't.

SCOTT 

I can't help it. I look at you sometimes and see it. 

ELLA 

You need to stop looking for it. 

SCOTT 

I'm not looking for it. I just see it. It's there. He's there.

ELLA 

No he's not. He was. 

SCOTT 

I don't know why I'm here with you. He should be the one. He's the one who deserves the pain of working through this shit. Not me. 

ELLA 

I don't want to be with him. I want to be with you.

SCOTT 

Then why did you do it?

ELLA 

I don't know.

SCOTT 

Liar.

ELLA 

Okay, you're right, Scott. I do know. But I'm not going to tell you because that would be constructive, wouldn't it.

Scott: Constructive?

ELLA 

Constructive. A term about getting through this. 

(Scott scoffs) 

Fuck you. I'm going. When you want to help things, it shouldn't be hard to find me.

(She leaves. Enrique and Charlie watch her exit, then look at Scott left alone. They return to their conversation.)

CHARLIE 

My first wife…

ENRIQUE 

Naomi?

CHARLIE 

Angilique.

ENRIQUE 

Oh. Refill?

CHARLIE 

Please. 

(Rudolfo goes to Scott.)

RUDOLFO 

Are you finished here, sir? 

SCOTT 

Yes. Thank you.

RUDOLFO 

Sorry about earlier. I was just having some fun.

SCOTT 

Sure.  

(Abronia sees the exchange and pulls Rudolfo away.)

Abronia: What are you doing?

RUDOLFO 

What?

ABRONIA 

Can't you see he doesn't want you bothering him.

RUDOLFO 

I was apologizing.

ABRONIA 

Go do the dishes.

RUDOLFO 

You're not my mother. 

ABRONIA 

I'll back-hand you like your boss. 

(To Scott) 

Are you alright, honey? Here's the check. No rush. 

(He pulls out money and gets his bag) 

ABRONIA 

Oh, sweetie, this is too much. Let me get you change. 

SCOTT 

No, it's for you. A tip.

ABRONIA 

Come to the feast, Okay? It's the hall next to the church.

SCOTT 

I'll keep it in mind. 

ABRONIA 

Starts at five.

ENRIQUE 

Max is a good priest. 

CHARLIE 

Good looking man. If I were a woman…

ENRIQUE 

If you were a woman, you'd be ugly. 

(They laugh)

ABRONIA 

What are you talking about?

ENRIQUE 

Father Max.

ABRONIA 

Oh, Father Max. 

 

SCENE 3: SOUTHWESTERN ADOBE CHURCH

(Ella enters and lights a prayer candle, but doesn't settle into the traditional praying position. A figure enters, Father Maximilian Sandoz.)

MAX

Isn't this nice?

ELLA

Yes.

MAX

An empty church.

ELLA

That's odd, coming from a priest.

MAX

You can hear yourself breathe. It's comforting.

ELLA

It's overwhelming.

MAX

It reflects you into yourself. Whether you want it to or not. I'm Max.

ELLA

Father Max?

MAX

Max is fine. 

ELLA

I'm sorry, you must be busy.

MAX

You're Catholic?

ELLA

I was raised Catholic.

MAX

Not Catholic school, I hope.

ELLA

Up to fifth grade.

MAX

Got enough of the nuns?

ELLA

Yea. If you need to prepare…

MAX

No, I'm on a break.

ELLA

I haven't been in a church in a long time. It is reflective. I feel guilty.

MAX

You are Catholic. Guilt is a terrible thing. 

ELLA

I don't need to confess. I've confessed a lot recently. I feel…

MAX

Sometimes the words don't come.

ELLA

I have too many words. Big, biblical words. Betrayal. Adultery. I had an affair on my husband. I know the reasons why I did it. I needed attention. I wanted to connect with someone, I wasn’t getting what I needed. But none of this has any meaning any more. I am sorry. I'm sorry I did it. But he can't forgive me. And forgiving myself is just so hard. 

MAX

Forgive yourself and the rest will follow. 

 

 

ELLA

I've opened myself up and I'm being scraped and pulled apart and I just have to take it. I don't have the right to defend myself. 

MAX

It's a sacrifice. That's the ultimate act of love. 

(To self) 

That's good. I need to write that down. I'm sorry, that's rude.

ELLA

No, it's alright. These are big days for you.

MAX

Big days for the people.

ELLA

I would think a priest would get into these big holidays. Christmas and holy week…

MAX

The women worry about the food and the men worry about the costumes and masks. The kids want the Easter egg hunt. I'm the master of ceremonies of a three ring circus. 

ELLA

But you fulfill a need. The voice of God.

MAX

I am not the transmitter of God. They are that. Or can be. The robes, the golden chalice, the call and response are all fine, but it's the talk with them, the one-on-one… that's where I find what I love. 

ELLA

But you have God who put you here. 

MAX

No, I put myself here.

ELLA

You have God.

MAX

I don't believe in God. I believe in faith. Faith requires the question.

 

 

SCENE 4: LARGE CHURCH ASSEMBLY HALL TABLES ARE SET WITH FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS, TABLECLOTHS, AND OTHER ASSORTED WONDERS. A MAKESHIFT ALTAR, IF YOU WILL, STANDS AT THE CENTER OF THE HALL WITH A LARGE CROSS AND LARGE CANDLES ON EITHER SIDE OF IT. OFFSTAGE IS THE SOUND OF UTENSILS CLINKING AND GENERAL KITCHEN BUSTLE. PEOPLE ARE TALKING AND READY FOR THE BIG EVENT. THE SMELLS OF SOUTHWESTERN COOKING FILL THE AIR. AS THE LIGHTS COME UP, TWO BOYS, PABLO AND BRIAN ARE SETTING THE LAST FOLDING CHAIRS INTO PLACE. THEY STIFLE GIGGLES.

BRIAN

O.K.

PABLO

Yeah.

BRIAN

O.K.!

PABLO

Yeah!

BRIAN

Shut up, spaz.

PABLO

Tell your joke, cumbreath!

(An explosion of laughter)

BRIAN

You're gonna get us killed, man.

PABLO

Jizzbucket.

(Another explosion.)

BRIAN

O.K. Shut up.

PABLO

Alright. Alright. I swear.

BRIAN

(All the while, expecting  a word from him)  

What's the difference between Pilar and a cow?

PABLO

What?

BRIAN

About two pounds.

PABLO

That's not funny.

BRIAN

Fuck you.

PABLO

Shut up, pissdrinker.

(Explosion)

PILAR

  (offstage) 
Boys, people will be here in ten minutes. Do you want to look like complete idiots when everybody sees, including your parents, that you can't finish a simple task?

PABLO & BRIAN

(Picking up the pace and holding back the laughs)  

No, Mrs. Diaz.

PILAR

(offstage)  

I know you're not idiots. Focus, please.

(Pablo and Brian go about their chore and keep silent for as long as they can.)

PABLO

So, tell me again why we can't rent "The Mummy"?

BRIAN

Because my dad says it deals with death and the occult and he thinks it's inappropriate to rent it on Holy Week.

PABLO

Dude, this whole week deals with death and the occult. Jesus gets killed and comes back to life. What the hell is that?

BRIAN

He got us "Bad News Bears".

 

 

PABLO

It's from the seventies! It's about baseball!

BRIAN

Don't come over then. Besides, we still gotta finish our masks for tomorrow.

PABLO

Did you see all the blood on mine? I'm like one of those Roman soldiers that oversees the whole cross operation. I carry the nails and the hammers. They call me "The Nailer".

BRIAN

You're a gorefuck.

(Explosion of laughter. MARIA comes in from the doors leading to the kitchen. The boys finish their job.)

MARIA

Hey, guys, are you done here? You still gotta get in to your robes. Not to be a nag, but you don't have much time.

PABLO

We're all done.

MARIA

Well, go on, get to the rectory. 

PABLO

So how're you doing, Maria?

MARIA

Move it, Pablo.

PABLO

I'll go become an altar boy now, Maria.

MARIA

You do that.

BRIAN

Hey, Maria.

MARIA

Brian.

(The boys smile. Maria smiles back.)

Go.

PABLO

See you later.

BRIAN

Yeah.

(The boys exit.)

MARIA

Give me strength.

(Pilar enters from the kitchen carrying a steaming bowl of pisole. She savors the smell with a prideful whiff, then covers it with a lid and sets it down. Both she and Maria finish laying the table cloths and put out plates and utensils for a large pot-luck dinner.)

PILAR

I make it in the church's kitchen so that it can be perfectly fresh. I'll tell you my secret, but you have to promise me you won't tell a soul. The recipe has been in my family for four generations. But since it doesn’t look like there will be another generation from me…

MARIA

Pilar…

PILAR

No, no. It's true. So I'll trust you to keep this tradition going and to pass it along to your children. 

 

MARIA

Pilar. Children? At my age.

PILAR

Nonsense. My aunt Nita was delivering into her forties. Twelve boys, four girls.

(Getting back on track)

Pisole. The most important ingredient of my pisole is fresh hominy. You must make it from scratch. I can always tell when someone has used canned. It tastes limp and shallow. The flavor of the spices shouldn't enter the hominy like a sponge, but combine with it. One piece of the whole taste. 

MARIA

Very poetic, Pilar. 

PILAR

Now, the corn, I lay in the sun for Six days. It must be six. From Thursday to Wednesday is good. Then shell them and soak in water and Baking soda for eleven hours. Some say twelve, but they are wrong. Boil three hours and plunge in cold water. 

(The main doors open and Scott peeks in. He looks around. Pilar and Maria are startled, intruding strangers in their church is not standard fare around these parts.)

PILAR

(A bit surly)

Can I help you?

SCOTT

I'm looking for someone.

MARIA

(Politely, before Pilar can take over)

Who are you looking for? 

SCOTT

Oh, you wouldn't know her. 

PILAR

And who are you?

 

SCOTT

Sorry to bother you. 

(He leaves. Maria and Pilar look at each other and shrug. Pilar picks up where she left off)

PILAR

Rub off the hulls and boil in water again with salt and butter. 

(Maria goes to put the bowl of pisole on the other table. Pilar takes over for her.)

Oh, let me take care of that. Maria, will you get the napkins down there under the table. Thank you so much.

(Keely, a twenty nine year old Hispanic woman enters with Naruda and a gaggle of children. The couple bicker and nag but it's clear there is a deep love between them.)

KEELY

So go back and get it. 

NARUDA

I will as soon as I set this down. Do you want me to just drop it? 

KEELY

Alberto, stop it. Pochuno, what are you doing with that?

NARUDA

I told him he could bring it. 

KEELY

He's going to be shooting it all over the place. Marta, Rosalie, sweeties, help Mia with her bag. Alberto, don't step on Rantes. Get over here and help me with this.

NARUDA

Just like your father. 

KEELY

I wasn't going to say that.

NARUDA

Are you going to let up!? It's Good Friday. That means be good. I was just joking anyway. 

KEELY

No you weren't. I know when you're joking. Mesilla, get that out of your mouth. 

PILAR

(Extending a helping hand)
Let me help you with that. Oh, Is that Sopa de Vino? Oh my goodness, it looks so good. And what is your surprise this year, Keely. You are always picking up something new. 

KEELY

Nothing big. A simple spinach casserole. Found the recipe in my grandmother's old things.

PILAR

Your Grandma was from Taos. Oh my goodness! Are these Empanadas? 

KEELY

Yes.

PILAR

Oh sweet mercy, I love your Epanadas.

KEELY

(Noticing the bowl)
Pisole! 

PILAR

Green chile enchiladas too, warming in the kitchen. 

(Naruda pushes past Keely to sample a taste of the spread. Keely is annoyed.)

KEELY

Are you going yet? 

NARUDA

Where's Pablo? I thought he was going to help. 

MARIA

He's in back getting ready for mass.

PILAR

He and Brian were very helpful putting up the chairs and in the kitchen with the dishes.

(Naruda steps back over Keely, satisfied with the dish.)

 

KEELY

What is up with you?

NARUDA

What?

(He kisses her on the cheek. Rudolfo enters. Maria sets her eyes on him immediately. Though she's twice his age, there is a sweetness about her when he's around.)

NARUDA

Hey, Rudolfo. 

PILAR

Hello, Rudolfo.

MARIA

Rudolfo.

RUDOLFO

Hello, Maria.

(Naruda smiles at Maria and Rudolfo, who are starring at each other. Keely notices Naruda.)

KEELY

Will you go!?

NARUDA

I'm not here.

(Naruda leaves.)

PILAR

(To the children)
Let's get the enchiladas from the kitchen. Come with your auntes Alberto, Mesilla, Sonya, Mia. Come on Rosalie. Pochuno!

(She disappears into the kitchen with the kids.)

Little Rantes, you are so adorable. How big you are getting…

(Rudolfo & Maria watch Pilar and the children leave. Rudolfo moves as close to Maria as he can without touching her. Maria is not quite sure what he will do. They stand there transfixed. The spell is broken when the main door flies open and Scott enters with Abronia, followed by Enrique and Charlie.)

SCOTT

I'm not a lawyer. I'm a legal assistant.

ABRONIA

Same thing.

ENRIQUE

…and I'm still paying taxes on the Chavez farm. 

CHARLIE

I thought you took care of that. 

ENRIQUE

I did. Called Santa Fe, wrote a letter…

CHARLIE

My ex brother in law is a lawyer in Albuquerque. I'll see if there's anything he can do.

ENRIQUE

Is that Margaret's brother?

CHARLIE

No, Anita. 

ENRIQUE

How is Anita?

CHARLIE

Triple by pass.

ENRIQUE

Really! 

CHARLIE

Six months ago. She's fine now. A strong woman. I remember she smelled like flowers.  

ENRIQUE

I remember that.

CHARLIE

Oh, you do?

(Abronia goes to the table. Scott looks around the room, in search of Ella. Maria leaves Rudolfo, goes to the table and greets Abronia. Rudolfo goes to Scott.)

RUDOLFO

Where's your wife?

(Scott glares at him.)

Sorry. 

(Singing)

"Take my hand, I'm a stranger in paradise." 

(Scott glares at him.)

Hey, have some food.

(Rudolfo walks away. Pilar enters from the kitchen with a relieved sigh. She carries more food to the table. Naruda comes in from the door behind Scott. He is out of breath.)

NARUDA

Hello.

SCOTT

Hello. So, how's my car coming along?

NARUDA

Man, it's a holy day, O.K.?

SCOTT

Yeah. Religious type, right?

NARUDA

You don't know how to be a guest, do you?

SCOTT

I just want my car fixed. Comprende?

NARUDA

 (Laughing)
Ah, man. I'll pray for you. 

(Naruda moves past him to Rudolfo. Scott looks at the gathering going on around him. He doesn't know what to do. At the table, the women are having a hushed conversation.) 

MARIA

After five years, I still have trouble being comfortable. 

KEELY

I know what you mean. I remember the first time I put on a mask. My father said let go, let it take over you. But I put it on, and all I felt was that it was me behind it. Like I was hiding in a dark room. A room that could move around town. 

MARIA

And seeing everyone else…

KEELY

Yes, through the little eye holes…

ABRONIA

That used to scare me.

 

MARIA

It still scares me. At first I try to figure out who's behind each mask, and I can't with some of them, but some I can. And if I know who it is behind the mask… and their doing all these things…

(They giggle a little)

PILAR

It's a celebration. 

MARIA

After a while I can get into it.

ABRONIA

Yeah, I enjoy it now. I become someone else. I love it. 

PILAR

The festival is to purge our sins.

ABRONIA

I purge them, Pilar. 

(Keely notices Naruda and makes a b-line his way.)

KEELY

Excuse me. Naruda. Where's the chile?

NARUDA

I couldn't find it. 

KEELY

It's right on the counter.

NARUDA

It wasn't there.

(They continue to argue as Ella enters from the kitchen, followed by Father Max. Everyone notices the connection and is distracted. Ella joins Scott in the corner.)

SCOTT

What were you doing?

ELLA

Talking.

SCOTT

With a priest?

ELLA

Yes.

SCOTT

I though we were supposed to be talking.

ELLA

I thought so too. It didn't seem like you were willing to talk like a human being.

SCOTT

And a priest is a normal human being?

ELLA

In this case, yes.

SCOTT

What are you talking about?

ELLA

Max isn't what you think of…

SCOTT

Max?

ELLA

His name is Max.

SCOTT

Max.

ELLA

Father Max.

SCOTT

Father Max. 

ELLA

He listened to me, Scott.

SCOTT

Been a while since confession?

ELLA

It wasn't formal. He's a different kind of priest. 

SCOTT

What? Touchy-feely?

ELLA

No, not that. I've never met anyone like him.

SCOTT

Oh.

ELLA

Scott, he doesn't believe in God.

SCOTT

What?

ELLA

He told me he doesn’t believe in God.

SCOTT

A priest has to believe in God. That's the rules.

ELLA

I don’t know. 

SCOTT

How can a priest not believe in God? They kick you out for that sort of thing, don't they? Isn't that blasphemy or heresy or some other biblical thing?

ELLA

It's not that he doesn't believe in God, it's just that he doesn't believe in God. 

SCOTT

That sorts it out just fine, El.

ELLA

He said that if there were proof that God existed, there would be no need for faith. He said, faith requires the question.

SCOTT

Anything else about him you want to tell me?

ELLA

He's lonely.

SCOTT

He's lonely.

ELLA

Yes.

SCOTT

So, you know all about him now.

ELLA

I talked with him for a while…

SCOTT

Are you attracted to him? 

ELLA

He's a priest, Scott.

SCOTT

Doesn't sound like a very good priest to me.

ELLA

I am here. I'm working on this with you. I love you. Your anger and jealousy make this worse.

SCOTT

 (Very Loudly)
Your fucking another man makes it worse. 

(The hall goes silent. He says to her:) 

I'm sorry. 

ELLA

I really wish you were here. 

(She walks away. Conversations throughout the room slowly rise again. Charlie saunters up to Scott.)

CHARLIE

Looks like you could use some juice. 

(Scott takes the Dixie cup from him and takes a gulp, realizing it is hard liquor.)

SCOTT

Thanks.

CHARLIE

See that woman over there, Pilar. . . 

(Pilar is momentarily alone at the buffet table, talking to herself and counting the dishes. She occasionally re-arranges a plate. Enrique sneaks up behind her, startling her. She glares at him and then they talk.) 

Enrique was once married to her. They grew up together here in San Lino. Married fourteen years. One day he just decided he didn't want to be married to her any more. So he left. Bought a house down the street.

(Enrique crosses to Abronia.)

Abronia moved here from southern California in 1985. Married three times. Divorced twice. Second husband killed himself. Korean War Veteran. Abronia has a beautiful daughter from that marriage. Lives in New York. A painter. 

(Enrique hugs her from behind and kisses her on the cheek.) 

Enrique saw Abronia at the grocery store and asked her to marry him. She said no, and yes two years later. 

(Naruda scarfs up a plate of food. Keely is slumping against the wall next to him, exhausted.) 

Naruda over there, always been good at fixing things. Since before he could talk or walk. A gift. 

(Naruda pushes Keely to standing straight. They begin arguing.) 

He and Keely were high school sweethearts. They're passionate. 

(Maria is reading a choir book, rehearsing for her moment.)

Now Maria… She's a piece of work. Her parents owned the big ranch north of here. But she hated this place. Left town when she was fifteen. Went to Arizona and then Southern California. I think she got into trouble. Came back five years ago, after seventeen years. It's been hard for her.  

(Maria and Rudolfo… )

She's seeing that young one. They're all trying to accept it, but it ain't easy.
Me? Eh!

(The crowd quiets a little as Pablo and Brian enter from the main doors. Charlie continues at a whisper.) 

Pablo is Naruda's oldest son. Brian's parents aren't Catholic. They both teach at the school. They're liberal. We need to be quiet now. 

(Pablo and Brian are dressed in black and white cosecs and move solemnly through the hall to the candles. Brian carries a crucifix and Pablo carries a small candle. They come to the makeshift altar and light the big candles. They then move to an area not too far from the altar and stand there trying to look priestly.)

BRIAN

You ate the enchilada.

PABLO

It was good.

BRIAN

Now you want to.

PABLO

I do not.

BRIAN

Oh. you've got to. You feel it. It must happen.

PABLO

Shut up.

BRIAN

(In rhyme)
Pilar's enchiladas! They're a work of art, they go to your stomach, and make you want to…

PABLO

Shut up. My mom's taking pictures.

BRIAN

Oh, yeah. Act like Jesus.

PABLO

Yeah, like Jesus. Owww, my hands! My feet!

(They hold back laughter. Maria steps up on the altar as the crowd grows silent and takes their seats. The boys fall into respect. Maria sings the Doxology. She returns to her seat as Father Max walks to the altar. He takes his place on the platform and looks out over the audience.)

FATHER MAX

…como agua y piedra
sois
partes del mundo,
luz y rais del árbol de la vida.

No me cierren los ojos
aún después de muerto,
los necesitaré aún para aprender,
para mirar y comprendermi muerte.

Necesita mi boca
Para cantar después, cuando no exista.
Y mi alma y mis manos y mi cuerpo
para seguirte amando, amada mía.

Amo lo que no tiene sino suenos.

Soy decididamente triangular. 

Now, that's not from the Bible, sorry to disappoint you. It is from a poem called 'The Truth." Now, I'm not going to go on and on here tonight. We had enough of that this afternoon in mass. But I do want to begin tonight's feast and send us into tomorrow's festivities with some words. Words that will help keep us on track and remind us why we are here. Soon enough we will feast upon this magnificent meal. More food here than the bread Jesus broke at the last supper, and more drink than the wine he blessed. Jesus offered bread and wine as his body and blood. Then the disciples ate, knowing what was ahead of them, just as we eat knowing what is ahead of us. The disciples knew that Jesus would die for their sins. They knew he would give his body and blood for them. They knew they would betray him. They knew and yet they ate, just as we are about to eat. They ate his body and drank his blood, and we eat his body and drink his blood from his sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed himself. He was crucified in the ultimate act of love. And for that we are all saved. But we are not safe. We sin. We know it is bad, but we still sin. We suffer. We have been cast out. There is no Eden in our lives. We toil. We loose sight of our relationship to him and our relationship to each other. And that is why these days are here. Not just to remind us, but to redeem us from within. With experience. With the purging of the remnants within us--redeeming that which has whittled itself down to a dream. Amo lo que no tiene sino suenos. And yet we keep steadfastly triangular. Soy decididamente triangular. That is where we shall arise from. From our own ashes, our own torment. And be redeemed in our faith. So. Let us eat. Let us strengthen ourselves so that tomorrow we may die and be reborn. And pray that our eyes never shut, Even for death. 

(Everyone begins serving themselves in silence. The sound of spoons and knives hitting plates lingers into blackout.

 

 

 

ACT II :  GOOD FRIDAY

 

TOWN SQUARE 

Nina Simone’s “SINNERMAN” plays in the background. The Townspeople are dressed in junk clothes (ripped, thrift store bargains, etc.) but they suggest the characters they are about to play. The characters are roughly based on the Pharisees, Romans, and Apostles in “The Way of the Cross” celebration but should have an “all-world”, contemporary feel  (black, white, Chinese, Indian, Native American....stereotype but not caricature. A reference is the Yaqui Easter celebrations in Arizona. The characters are:

 

Enrique: Herod...king

Charlie: Pilate...politician

Abronia: head priest...pontificate

Pilar: Peter...denial, coward

Neruda: Barabas...thief

Keely: Magdalene...street hustler

Maria: everyperson...righteous
but runs from danger

Rudolfo: Judas...snitch, informant

Pablo: guard...soldier

Brian: guard...soldier

 

Once the costume is complete, the person is motionless, lost in character. They are silent but they speak in grand gestures and exaggeration. They move to the beat and let themselves go (if this also includes going into the audience, then so be it). On the surface, they seem to do the “right thing”. Outstanding citizens. But in reality, at anytime they morph into one collective unit. A collection of devils, buffoons, fools. They are transformed into one singular cause: the death of a “Christ”. 

 

The “devils” also act out all the foibles of humans: vanity, gluttony, hypochondria, greed, etc. The movement is fluid and hypnotic.

 

MAX and ELLA enter. Max whispers to Ella to be quiet and unobtrusive. Max moves to the front and bows his head in prayer and the others follow. Max finishes and moves to the outer edge. Once he gets there, there is a beat. The music abruptly ends. BLACKOUT.

 

A heavy percussion beat begins. The lights hit at full as the Townspeople scatter about the stage creating their world. The story is basically the head priest, king, and politician all agree to get and bring to death this new prophet. The thief is threatened jail unless he helps, the apostle death. All, one by one, for whatever reason, are persuaded to participate in this death. 

Max remains on the periphery, almost like a referee. Ella also is on the edge but she is fascinated by the proceedings and little by little she starts to sway to the rhythms. SCOTT enters. He is taken aback by what he sees and immediately has the feeling of watching an embarrassing, stupid ritual. One "devil" gets in Scott's face. Scott scoffs, laughing him off as though he were a bad street mime. But the devil is persistent, almost violent--he wants a sign of respect. Scott cowers and his sarcastic smile disappears. The devil stands as a proud peacock and taunts his conquered victim. The devil returns to the center. Scott finally eyes Ella who is awash in the ritual. He makes his way to meet up with her.

 

SCOTT

Where have you been?

ELLA

I fell asleep in the church. Come on, lets do this. It's gonna be fun.

SCOTT

What are you talking about? This is a freak show. What the hell are they doing?

ELLA

I don't know, but what a blast!

SCOTT

We need to talk.

 

ELLA

Scott. I need this. 

(She joins the celebration. Scott begins speaking over the crowd noise and music.)

SCOTT

Ella! What are you doing? Why are you doing this to me? Why do you keep pulling away? I know I'm difficult, but it's hard for me to be nice. I'm sorry I play games. It is me. I know that. For you, it's already happened. I always knew you betrayed me. I knew. When you were different, at home, in bed, I thought it was a hard time for you. A phase. And you were out at night. During the day. Over and over. Lying to me. Telling me you were with your friends. Going to a movie alone. Whatever. I think I knew. But I had to trust. I had no choice. And you were with him. God, it was three months, Ella. That's huge. What took you back to him over and over again? Was he good? I have to finally ask. Was he better than me? Did he have a bigger cock? The questions I've wanted to ask. Did he give you comfort I couldn't? Was he just new and me old? One time is one thing, but over and over. It wasn't an accident. You chose to do it. It's hard to forgive that. How can I accept you back, just like that? We have a history. It's so small, really. It's nothing. Passion is better than history. No matter how much you tell yourself it was an accident, you crossed that line, again and again. It was conscious, not a place, a moment, not a deliberate accident even. It was a choice. To fill you with something new. Fill you with attention and lust and love. I want to see you with him because that must be easier than what my mind imagines. I see you seeing him and glowing. It kills me. 

(The beats of the religious dance transform into a disco-rave-dance. The masked figures become people on a dance floor. Ella floats alone in the light among the crowd, standing momentarily. A man enters and walks to her. They begin to dance, soon they are gyrating, very close to each other.

ELLA

I think I've seen you before.

LOVER

Maybe.

ELLA

Lunchtime.

LOVER

Yes.

ELLA

Haven't seen you in a while.

LOVER

Been in Europe.

ELLA

Now you're back.

LOVER

You'll be seeing me.

ELLA

I've seen you before.

LOVER

Maybe. 

ELLA

Haven't seen you in a while.

LOVER

You'll be seeing me.

(He dances away. She turns her back. Scott has been watching it all.

Everything stops. Silence. Carmen walks in. She goes to Scott, stopping right up to him. They kiss, then grasp and fondle each other in a passionate moment. It goes on and on, a real make-out session. Carmen eventually pulls away. Scott grabs for her, but she parts, turns, walks away.)

SCOTT

Carmen!

(She's gone.

Boom, back into the ritual. 

The demons bring out a large cross and Father Max appears. The townspeople abstractly enact the judgement of Christ. Scott calls out to Father Max.)

SCOTT

You fake! You hypocrite! You are lying to these people. You tell them you believe, when you are nothing but a blasphemer. A false priest. How can you lead these people when you don't believe what you preach? You have no faith! You don't believe in God or Jesus. They trust you. And you lie. You lie to them. You bastard! 

(The demons grab Father Max and pull him onto the cross. A hammer appears in Scott's hand. He moves with the crowd toward Max. The demons hold Max onto the cross as Scott drives the first stake into Max's right hand. Max screams. Scott realizes what he has done. Ella pulls him away. The townspeople continue the crucifixion, driving a stake into Max's other hand and through both feet, though he doesn’t scream again. The group then carries the crucified figure reverently off stage. 

Scott collapses. Ella kneels and cradles him in her arms.)

SCOTT

What have I done? Carmen? Carmen? Hold me. Ella… I thought… Ella, it was a long time ago. Carmen was a lawyer at the firm. I was assigned to assist her on a case. A medical patent. I remember the case really well for some reason. She was my boss. Bossing me around, in a fun kind of way. Flirting. We were in her office late. She kissed me, and I kissed her back. We started seeing each other. Coffee, lunch. Dinner. Going over to her apartment. We met a lot. For a few months. Then she called it off. I didn't see her for a year. Then we started up again, for a week. It got strange. Kinky stuff. Photos and fetish stuff. I called it off that time. But she was very upset. She wasn't fanatical. She wasn't waiting for me or anything, but she wanted to stay with me. You know, keep doing it on the sly. I said no. But we did it again, I don't know, three times. Then it stopped. I told myself I stopped it, but I don't know. We… it wasn't extraordinary. I didn't love her. It was just sex. It's been a long time. I thought it was enough that I stopped. I moved on. I worked through my shit. The need, the desire, the openness to it. And you didn't know. But I really moved on. It's been years since anything has happened. But, it's not enough, is it? I'm living lies. You deserve to know. I can't live with myself without opening it up and getting it out and cleaning the slate. I've kept it inside out of fear. Fear that you'd leave me. Maybe it's good that I'm letting it out right now. I've been mean to you because I'm mad at me. Am I fucking things up more for us? I'm taking the biggest risk of my life right now. I'm sorry Ella. You deserve the respect of this confession. 

(Ella has listened, seeming to understand, and yet hurt. Scott turns to her. She then slaps him on the face brutally. She stands and walks off. Fade to black.)

 

ACT III :  SATURDAY

 

SCENE 1: SMALL APARTMENT IN BLACK, WE HEAR RUDOLFO SINGING…

RUDOLFO

In a mountain greenery, Where God paints his scenery, Just two crazy people together… 

(Lights rise on the two in bed. Maria is having trouble matching the chipper energy of Rudolfo. But she is quite happy.)

RUDOLFO

We love sequestering, Where no pests are pestering… 

MARIA

Mmmm. Morning. 

RUDOLFO

No dear momma holds us in tethering…

MARIA

Not me, anyway. 

RUDOLFO

Hey, that's getting personal. 

MARIA

Can't help it, we are personal. 

RUDOLFO

Very personal. 

(They kiss and cuddle on the bed.)

 

RUDOLFO

Besides, my mother loves you.

 

 

 

MARIA

If she only knew.

RUDOLFO

She knows.

MARIA

Yes, but in the open.

RUDOLFO

You want me to give her a call?

MARIA

She'll be calling soon. 

RUDOLFO

Do you think we have a mother, son thing?

MARIA

Can't be helped.

RUDOLFO

Yea. 

(Rudolfo looks at her with doey eyes, and slouches to her in a subservient way.)

MARIA

Stop it.

RUDOLFO

What?

MARIA

Stop it.

RUDOLFO

OK. 

(Rudolfo shifts thoughts, rearranging himself, sitting up next to her on the bed.)

RUDOLFO

Sometimes I look at us and see all the possible ways we could go. 

MARIA

Oh?

RUDOLFO

Well, This isn't your standard thing. It would be so easy to freak out.

MARIA

I see.

(They take stock of this loaded statement, perhaps trying to read each other as well. Rudolfo changes the subject.)

RUDOLFO

Tell me something, old lady.

MARIA

Okay?

RUDOLFO

Tell me something you've never told anyone.

MARIA

Where do I begin?

(She thinks. She sizes him up. Then lightens up.)

I've been through a lot, Rudolfo.

RUDOLFO

I know. 

MARIA

(She makes a choice and goes.)

I never told you why I moved back.

RUDOLFO

To find your past and shit, right?

MARIA

Well…

RUDOLFO

Yea, I figured that was an oversimplification. 

MARIA

Nothing in my life has been simple. 

RUDOLFO

You were in L.A.? Living with Sol, right? 

MARIA

No, I'd moved out, into an apartment. But I was still seeing Sol. 

RUDOLFO

Why didn't you marry him? 

MARIA

He wasn't the marrying type. Anyway, One afternoon I was in my apartment with Penny…

RUDOLFO

The woman with the spiral breasts.

MARIA

What!?

RUDOLFO

The woman with the tie-dye shirt? In that picture on your desk. The swirls.

MARIA

Oh, yes, the spiral breasted woman. She was visiting me when four policemen came to the door with a warrant to look for drugs. 

RUDOLFO

Oh my God.

MARIA

Well, I didn't have anything. But it turned out that Sol had hidden a whole stash of coke in my apartment. 

RUDOLFO

Oh my God.

MARIA

I wasn't into that. Sol had it around for the girls. But he kept me out of that.

RUDOLFO

What happened?

MARIA

They arrested me.

RUDOLFO

You were arrested? 

MARIA

I didn't even know what was happening. I was in a daze.

RUDOLFO

Did they treat you okay?

MARIA

Yes. They were actually nice. I felt so naïve. And scared.

RUDOLFO

Did Sol bail you out? 

MARIA

No. 

RUDOLFO

Why not?

 

MARIA

I don't know. I never saw him again. I should have turned him in, but I couldn't. I had all these friends that would have been devistated. I felt obligated. But it wasn't that that made me come back to San Lino. It wasn't the last straw. It was a clean turning point. 

RUDOLFO

How long were you in jail for? 

MARIA

Eight months. 

RUDOLFO

Jesus. 

(Rudolfo doesn't know what to say, but his concern for her is palpable. They look at each other for a bit.)

RUDOLFO

Wow. I'm dating an ex-con.

MARIA

You love it. 

(They kiss.)

 

SCENE 2: SPLIT SCENE SCOTT IS OUT IN THE DESERT SOMEWHERE, HAVING WANDERED THERE ALL NIGHT. ELLA ENTERS MAX'S ROOM WHERE HE LIES.

(Scott wanders on stage, exhausted and wired. Ella enters opposite stage, exhausted, bedraggled. It's a split scene, they do not acknowledge each other. Light rises on Max, center, who is lying on a raised bed in the rectory. Max is wrapped in blankets. Ella stands behind him.)

SCOTT

It's cold. In the fucking desert it's cold. Who'd have thought it'd be freezing fucking cold in the middle of the fucking desert. 

(Ella leans over Max and kisses him softly.)

SCOTT

What am I doing?

ELLA

Max?

SCOTT

I'm going to jail.

ELLA

Have you ever been attracted to someone?

MAX

Sure.

ELLA

Did you do anything about it?

MAX

No.

ELLA

Really?

MAX

I have good self-control.

SCOTT

God! Why is this all so fucking complicated?

ELLA

Why should you control yourself?

MAX

I'm a priest.

ELLA

Not in belief.

SCOTT

It's not illegal to fall in love with two people at the same time. Or have sex with two people at the same time.  

MAX

I took my vows for other reasons. They are valid to me.

SCOTT

It's human nature, right. 

ELLA

You haven't ever tested…

MAX

Well…

ELLA

You have the most beautiful eyes. Powerful eyes. 

SCOTT

We're animals.

ELLA

I'm not sorry.

MAX

You don't have to be sorry. 

ELLA

When does it happen: when you think it? When it thinks you? When you entertain the idea? Fantasize? Or when you act?

MAX

You can't control your thoughts.

SCOTT

I'm horny. Jesus Christ, I'm actually horny! What is up with that?

ELLA

So you don't act?

MAX

I don't act.

ELLA

For you're promise?

MAX

For my promise to myself.

ELLA

You're a better person than I. Than anyone. You're lying, aren't you? You're lying. No one's that pure.

MAX

My desires are different than yours.

ELLA

Do you wonder what it's like?

MAX

Yes.

ELLA

It would take you from your beliefs. It's the most incredible way to be with someone. It's faith.

MAX

Love is faith. Sex is power.

SCOTT

Ella. 

ELLA

What do you know about sex? 

MAX

I read books. Self-help, armchair psychology, stuff like that.

ELLA

Really? Then why did I have an affair?

MAX

You were lonely. 

ELLA

I'm still lonely. 

MAX

I'm sorry.

SCOTT

I'm sorry.

ELLA

I'm becoming less and less sorry.

MAX

Would you like to have sex with me, Ella?

ELLA

Not when you put it like that.

SCOTT

Fuckers.

MAX

Do you want to?

ELLA

Oh, Jesus Christ. 

MAX

Ah, ah, ah.

ELLA

Sorry.

MAX

Are you?

ELLA

Yes. There are some things you just shouldn't say.

MAX

Do you still want to be with Scott? 

SCOTT

I don't know.

ELLA

I don't know.

MAX

That's the only question you need to answer. Is it worth working through it. 

ELLA

But how can I know what's best in the long run? "Do you still love him?" Blah, blah, blah. I just don't know. 

MAX

Answer right now. Don't wait. Just answer. 

(Pause.)

ELLA & SCOTT

Yes.

MAX

The answer is yes.

 

SCENE 3: THE CAFE ABRONIA GOES ABOUT CLEANING AND DOING MENIAL CHORES. SHE LOOKS AT THE CLOCK PERIODICALLY. CHARLIE SITS AT THE COUNTER READING A NEWSPAPER. PILAR IS ALSO AT THE COUNTER, SIPPING COFFEE. SHE IS EXHAUSTED. THERE IS A SOMBERNESS AROUND THE ROOM. ENRIQUE ENTERS FROM THE KITCHEN WITH A FRESH POT OF COFFEE.

ENRIQUE

Fill up? It’s fresh.

(Charlie motions and Enrique obliges. He notices Abronia worrying.)

ENRIQUE

Today is the slow day. We all had quite an evening last night. He’s a little late

ABRONIA

I know. I know

PILAR

(smug)

He’s probably got his hands full right now

ENRIQUE

Pilar. Play nice. Fill up?

(Pilar nods no.)

CHARLIE

Nineteen

ABRONIA

What’s that?

CHARLIE

He’s nineteen. Day after the ceremony. Needs his rest. Or something else

PILAR

(scoffing)

He’s resting all right

ABRONIA

Are the devils still with you?

PILAR

Oh it’s obvious where he is and who he left with last night

ABRONIA

Pilar, that’s their business

ENRIQUE

No gossip in my café

PILAR

It’s not gossip. Maria and Rudolfo together. Everyone knows.

ABRONIA

But they haven’t said anything and we should respect that.

PILAR

Maria. Seeing someone twenty years younger than her. She should be ashamed!

ENRIQUE

Yes. It’s scandalous.

CHARLIE

I could make light here but it’s too obvious.

ENRIQUE

Oh if a woman twenty years younger went after me, oh, I’d…

(runs to Abronia) 

…throw her aside for my bride. 

(He kisses her)

ABRONIA

My crazy nino. I have a kid for a husband.

PILAR

I wonder if Rudolfo knows about her.

ENRIQUE

You know, you’ve been working with Maria for two years now. She’s good and you know it. Pulled off another feast the other night. She works hard.

PILAR

Yes, she does. Enrique, don’t misunderstand me. I love Maria. She’s a good worker and well organized. But can you really trust her?

CHARLIE

Can you trust anybody?

(Scott enters. He’s in a high edge state. Everyone stops and looks at him. He deflates as if giving himself up.)

ABRONIA

Well, hey, you! Good Morning. Did you sleep well, hon?

SCOTT

I’ve been in the desert.

ABRONIA

Oh, hon. Did the ceremony get you all riled up?

SCOTT

Well…yes…

ABRONIA

(matronly laughing)

Why don't you sit down? Coffee’s coming right now.

SCOTT

Can I have some water, please?

ABRONIA

Sure. Relax. 

ABRONIA

Where’s your wife?

SCOTT

I don’t know. I need to find her. 

ABRONIA

She’ll show up. She can’t be lost. Not here. Let me get the water.

(Abronia goes off. The phone rings and Enrique answers, speaking in Spanish. Scott settles into his seat and notices Pilar glaring at him.)

SCOTT

(to himself)

O.K. O.K….this isn’t weird… they’re not fake. Nice… not her, anyway… nothing is wrong?….Ok Ok

(Abronia brings the water. Scott watches her intently. Abronia smiles.)

ABRONIA

Breakfast?

SCOTT

No thank you.

(Scott looks at her for something. Abronia smiles out of embarrassment.) 

 

ABRONIA

You must be a good lawyer. You’re making me confess and I don’t know what I’m guilty of.

SCOTT

I’m not a lawyer.

ABRONIA

Well, you keep at it. You’ve got the interrogating thing down.

(Abronia leaves. Enrique gets off the phone.)

ENRIQUE

Rudolfo’s mom. He didn’t come home last night.

ABRONIA

(in Spanish)

Rudolfo, you’re causing a lot of problems. Now you don’t come home and drag your mother into it.

ENRIQUE

(to Charlie)

Rudolfo might be in trouble now.

CHARLIE

His mother was always a worrisome person.

ENRIQUE

Not always. Remember the opening of the church hall? The tequila punch?

CHARLIE

Hmmm. She couldn’t dance.

ENRIQUE

She tried.

CHARLIE

Hit me with a broom. So, I took her car keys.

ENRIQUE

She was funny. Good woman.

ABRONIA

That boy! You say, “he’s nineteen”, but this is too much. His mother will hit the roof. 

PILAR

The girl is trouble.

 

ABRONIA

Rudolofo should know better.

PILAR

He’s nineteen and being swayed by a beautiful, older woman. He thinks he’s in heaven. Doesn’t have the sense to know she’s using him.

ENRIQUE

Why would Maria use Rudolfo?

PILAR

No other available men. He’s young. And Maria's had her problems with men back in Los Angeles. Many lovers. And the drugs. . .

ENRIQUE

How do you know what Maria went through? Anyway, she came back here. That’s not easy to do.

 

PILAR

Old habits die-hard. And Maria…

ABRONIA

Stop it! We just celebrated the death of Christ and it’s glory and we’re all acting like chattering hens.

PILAR

I love Maria. I’m just saying that Maria may not be who she is around us. 

CHARLIE

Enough. Pilar. Respect who someone is and what they do. 

PILAR

Well, thank you Charlie. And you too, Abronia, Enrique. I know everyone here in this town and I respect and love them all. But I also know the bad that we all have inside us. We turn on each other, we leave each other, we hurt, we divorce. Our happy little town is also ugly. You permit me if I notice the ugly too. 

(A beat)

ENRIQUE

Why don’t we all calm down, eh?

 

ABRONIA

I’m going to make us some breakfast.

PILAR

I’m going to help you.

(Abronia and Pilar exit to kitchen. Scott is still self-absorbed. Enrique smiles at Charlie.)

CHARLIE

(Noticing Scott)

Hey, Chief.

SCOTT

(Looking up)

Hey.

CHARLIE

Nothing like a fight in the morning, huh?

SCOTT

Sorry?

CHARLIE

What did you think about yesterday?

SCOTT

(growing worried)

Yesterday?

CHARLIE

The dance. Quite the experience.

SCOTT

Yes.

CHARLIE

Let your hair down?

SCOTT

I got swept up, yes.

CHARLIE

All inhibitions let loose.

SCOTT

I didn’t know. . .

CHARLIE

You were capable of such things.

SCOTT

Oh, God. God.

CHARLIE

Fascinating what the emotions release.

SCOTT

I wanted to do it. I wanted to.

CHARLIE

The devils take you to places.

SCOTT

But… violence.

CHARLIE

We all bask in the sins.

SCOTT

Murder.

CHARLIE

And then on Saturday we shed the masks for another year and go back to our lives. And put all those sins away.

SCOTT

Put ‘em away! Where do you put that away? 

CHARLIE

Well, it is just an act. 

SCOTT

An act?

(Scott slowly realizes he is in no danger, but the craziness of it all may be worse.)

CHARLIE

The dance. 

SCOTT

A dance.

CHARLIE

Something else?

SCOTT

No, no. Just a lot on my mind.

CHARLIE

Oh.

(Rudolfo enters.)

ENRIQUE

Rudy, you’re late and you got everybody talking about you.

 

RUDOLFO

I’m sorry, Enrique. I won’t let it happen again. I’ll go mix the corn meal. 

ENRIQUE

Rudy. I’m serious.

RUDOLFO

Is Abronia mad?

ENRIQUE

She’s upset. And, your mother called.

RUDOLFO

Oh, boy. 

(Abronia and Pilar come from the kitchen.)

ABRONIA

Rudolfo! You crazy kid! You…

RUDOLFO

Abronia, I’m sorry. I’m calling my mother right now.

ABRONIA

You do that. Then it’s my turn.

RUDOLFO

Pilar, Maria wanted me to tell you that she’ll meet you at the church hall. She’s already started cleaning up. She hopes you don’t mind.

(Pilar, Enrique and Abronia take a beat and look at each other.)

PILAR

Thank you Rudolfo. I better go lend her a hand.

(Pilar exits. Everyone is amazed at how she exited so quietly. Abronia slaps Rudolfo moving him into the kitchen.)

ABRONIA

Get in the kitchen and use the phone in there (in Spanish) causing trouble when you can control it! Worry us sick.

(They move into the kitchen. Scott gets up.)

ENRIQUE

You want some breakfast?

SCOTT

No thanks. I’m going to go find my wife. 

ENRIQUE

Ella, right?

SCOTT

Yeah. I need to tell her I love her.

ENRIQUE

That’s good.

SCOTT

Thanks for the water.

(Scott exits.)

CHARLIE

Hope it works.

ENRIQUE

Worked for me. Twice.

CHARLIE

Twice?

ENRIQUE

One and a half.

CHARLIE

You can’t lie to me, my friend.

ENRIQUE

“The heart can’t make you lie.”

CHARLIE

That’s nice.

ENRIQUE

Hallmark card I gave to Pilar. Anniversary, 1978.

CHARLIE

Sentimental fool.

ENRIQUE

I am. 

CHARLIE

Guess I’ll have some breakfast.

ENRIQUE

Good.

 

 

SCENE 5: TOWN SQUARE. IT'S ABOUT 8:30 IN THE MORNING. SCOTT COMES OUT OF THE CAFÉ, LOOKS OVER AT THE CHURCH AND TAKES A DEEP BREATH.

(Across the square, The church doors open and Max emerges. Scott is stunned, as though he's seeing a vision. He falls to his knees. Max approaches, Scott rises as though he has a massive lump in his stomach. Max smiles.)

 

MAX

Are you alright?

(Scott nods. Max moves past him as Scott watches. Max thinks of his priestly duties and turns around.)

MAX

I'm sorry...Scott, right?

SCOTT

Yes.

MAX

Ella's husband?

SCOTT

Yeah.

MAX

I'm Max.

SCOTT

Hi. It's nice to meet you.

MAX

You sure you're alright?

SCOTT

I'm O.K. Thanks. Is my wife at the church?

MAX

Yes. She fell asleep on the floor. She was exhausted. The ceremony takes a lot out of a person sometimes.

(Scott's mind is in a million places.)

MAX

We talked about you a lot.

SCOTT

Yeah?

MAX

More or less.

SCOTT

Yeah, well, there's a lot to say.

MAX

What you say, and do, right now, will form your future. It's a turning point, not an end. Have faith in yourself, and in Ella. Remember, we never loose faith, we merely cease to shape our lives by it. 

SCOTT

Yes. 

MAX

Would you please excuse me. I'm absolutely starving. 

SCOTT

Sure. Thank you. 

(Max starts for the cafe. Scott has a question.)

SCOTT

Max?

MAX

Yeah?

SCOTT

How's your hand?

MAX

(smiles)

It's fine.

(Max exits. Scott takes a moment, then heads for the church. Scott turns to the church just as Ella walks out. A beat. Scott goes to Ella. A moment of awkwardness. Just then, Naruda interrupts their gaze.)

NARUDA

Well, your car's all fixed. 

(Hands Ella the keys.)

ELLA

Oh, thank you. 

NARUDA

I went out early this morning. Wasn't anything serious. Take it to your mechanic when you get back just to make sure. 

ELLA

How much do we owe you? 

NARUDA

It's on me. 

SCOTT

No, really, how much do we owe you? 

NARUDA

Nothing. Have a good Easter. 

ELLA

Thank you. 

(Naruda starts to leave.)

SCOTT

Well. . . where's the car?

NARUDA

It's on the road, where you left it.

SCOTT

What? Why didn't you tow it back?

NARUDA

I would have. . .

(Naruda goes to the café. Ella and Scott are left alone again. Ella hands Scott the keys. Lights rise on Maria on the other side of the street.)

ELLA

Hi.

SCOTT

Hi.

ELLA

I had all this stuff to say.

SCOTT

Oh. 

ELLA

Didn't you?

SCOTT

No.

(Maria looks through the window of the café and smiles. A few moments later she is joined by Rudolfo.)

RUDOLFO

Excuse me, miss. Are you loitering?

MARIA

Yes, I believe I am.

RUDOLFO

Does Pilar know?

MARIA

No, I took a break.

RUDOLFO

Wow. Something's up. 

ELLA

You have nothing to say?

MARIA

Yeah. Something on my mind.

SCOTT

No.

MARIA

I want you to ask me to marry you.

ELLA

Well, I did. 

SCOTT

Oh. 

(Long Pause.)

RUDOLFO

Why don't you just ask me?

MARIA

It wouldn't be the same.

ELLA

And now…

SCOTT

I don't know…

ELLA

It feels so huge. I'm drained. 

SCOTT

I wanted passion. Now all I want is comfort.

ELLA

There's so much going on in my head. I thought it was settled, but it hasn't. I feel disjointed—-separate and conflicted. I want to plead for your forgiveness and kill you all at once. 

SCOTT

One happens, then the other, then back again. 

(Pause.)

ELLA

This can't be fixed. 

SCOTT

It will always be there. 

RUDOLFO

If I ask it, it will sound naive. If you ask it, there will be baggage. 

ELLA

I hate you, Scott. 

SCOTT

You should. I hate you. 

ELLA

What should we do? 

MARIA

I'm forty years old, Rudolfo.

RUDOLFO

I'm nineteen, Maria.

SCOTT

I wanted to work through this… 

ELLA

But now I don't

SCOTT

Me either.

ELLA

I'm so relieved. 

SCOTT

Strange. 

ELLA

Yes. Strange. 

SCOTT

Are we breaking up?

ELLA

Yes, I think we are.

RUDOLFO

I love you.

SCOTT

Wow. 

MARIA

I love you too. 

ELLA

Okay. 

(Long pause.)

SCOTT

We have to go back. To the car.

MARIA

Will you?

ELLA

Yes. 

SCOTT

Should we get our luggage?

RUDOLFO

Will you?

ELLA

No. Let's go. 

SCOTT

Let's go. 

(Ella and Scott walk into the distance, together, as Rudolfo sings to Maria. The lights fade slowly on Maria and Rudolfo until a singular light remains on Ella and Scott.)

RUDOLFO

   (Singing.)

It's Very clear

Our love is here to stay

Not for a year

But ever and a day

In time the rockies may crumble

Gibralter may tumble

They're only made of clay

But 

Our love is here to stay

 

(The lights fade to black.)

 

END




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