Rebecca Spicer, Hidden: SCENE ONE

Scene One. 1950s. Kitchen. Cozy and bright. A table stands in the center covered with white lace and on top the lace is a teapot filled with flowers. There is an accessible door on stage to the right. CONSTANCE sits at the table with pen in hand. She props her head while thinking. She is plain and simply dressed in clothes of that time period. The phone rings and CONSTANCE is called out of a daydream. She answers the phone.

CONSTANCE
Hello? Yes, I placed the ad in the paper. It’s an upstairs room with an adjoining bathroom. Yes, a very easy walk to town. The price is negotiable. Oh, I see. Yes, please do. I look forward to meeting you.

(CONSTANCE hangs up the phone. Her friend CELESTE, a bubbly pretty girl, and her boyfriend HUGH enter. CELESTE carries a package)

CELESTE
Hi. I got your package just as you asked. Hope you don’t mind that we opened it on the way.

CONSTANCE
Isn’t that illegal?

HUGH
You know Celeste. Nosey-Nosey.

CELESTE
I was curious, not nosey. But I didn’t read it, I promise. The manuscript was placed into another envelop under this one.

CONSTANCE
And if it wasn’t?

HUGH
Well, then she would have saved you time reading it.

CELESTE
Oh, stop. Come on, Connie, open it.

HUGH
Yes, let’s see who wants their memoir written for them this time.

CONSTANCE
I don’t write it for them. I just help them out a bit.

(Opens the letter and pulls out a bundle of paper. CELESTE pulls the papers away and shuffles through)

CELESTE
A bit? You write the whole thing. What are these? An outline, notes, chicken scratch on a napkin! To think that this man will have his name on the front cover instead of you.

CONSTANCE
It’s a job, you dope. I do get paid.

HUGH
But not as much as he’ll get when the books sell.

CONSTANCE
Will you please stop? I like writing for important people. At the end of the day I’m very proud of what I do.

CELESTE
Oh alright. You know we were just giving you a hard time.

CONSTANCE
Yes, I know.

CELESTE
Say, that reminds me. What are you wearing to the party?

HUGH
How does that remind you of the party?

CELESTE
It doesn’t, but the subject popped into my head. Anyways, I wanted to know because we simply can’t look to similar and we can’t clash.

CONSTANCE
I was going to wear my blue dress with the lace collar.

CELESTE
That old thing? You can’t be serious!

CONSTANCE
It’s my Sunday best.

CELESTE
That won’t do. I’ll just have to bring you one of my own.

HUGH
Women and clothes—I don’t understand it.

CELESTE
Come on, Hugh. We’d better go. I still have to pick up Mamma’s medicine. I’ll be back in a few hours. Do your hair, okay. A very eligible Mr. Henry will be there. I want you to meet—

HUGH
Celeste—

CELESTE
Alright—alright. Goodbye.

(Exits)

HUGH
Goodbye, Constance.

CONSTANCE
Goodbye, Hugh.

(HUGH exits. CONSTANCE closes the door behind him. She returns to her seat and looks through the papers. She holds the napkin up and squints)

CONSTANCE (CONT.)
Mother… red hair… blue eyes that–

(PAUSE as she tries to read what is written)

Sparkled like the night sky. Oh boy wasn’t he feeling creative.

(Shuffles through the rest of the papers)

There isn’t even a timeline.

(There is a knock at the door. CONSTANCE stands and opens it to reveal BILL. He is attractive with simple but nice clothes)

BILL
Hello, I’m Bill Sanders. I talked with you over the phone.

CONSTANCE
Oh yes, please come in. It didn’t take you long to find the house.

BILL
The hotel clerk gave me excellent directions.

CONSTANCE
Good.

BILL
Your house is beautiful.

CONSTANCE
Thank you. I’m glad you think so.

BILL
I don’t even need to look around to know it’s perfect.

CONSTANCE
Does that mean you’ll take the room?

BILL
Yes, there’s no point in looking anywhere else.

CONSTANCE
Great.

BILL
Would it be too much if I move in today?

CONSTANCE
No, not at all, please do. Let me show you the room first. You might change your mind.

BILL
No-no, it doesn’t matter to me what it looks like. A place to sleep is all I need. I should go get my things. I’ll be back in an hour.

CONSTANCE
I’ll see you then.

BILL
Goodbye.

(Exits. CONSTANCE looks around and then realizes that she has lots to do)

CONSTANCE
So much to do.

(Exits. EVE enters. She is beautiful, older than CONSTANCE but stunning. Her clothing is expensive as is her luggage that is being carried by her boyfriend JOHN. JOHN is handsome in a finely tailored suit, hat and coat.)

EVE
Still the same – it seems to never have changed.

JOHN
Cute – very cute.

EVE
So many memories and just what I need.

JOHN
What exactly do you need? You still haven’t explained since we left Chicago.

EVE
I told you! That play took a lot out of me. You should show a little sympathy.

JOHN
I have none. You should have thought about that before you became an actress.

EVE
You have no feelings.

(JOHN steps closer and draws her in)

JOHN
I have feelings for you.

EVE
I don’t believe you.

(JOHN kisses her)

EVE
Big jerk.

JOHN
Not the name I was looking for, but that will do for now.

EVE
(Laughs)
Here, sit on this chair.

(EVE begins to climb on the table)

JOHN
What are you doing?

(EVE stands in the middle of the table)

EVE.
Don’t move. Grandmother used to sit just where you were. Funny, I notice a resemblance.

JOHN
Thanks.

EVE
And this used to be my stage where I’d recite all my lines.

JOHN
No doubt, with bottle and pacifier in hand.

EVE
Yes, well, I was young when I started. My first play was Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played Puck.

JOHN
Puck? I would have thought you Titania

EVE
I was too young.

JOHN
That’s never stopped you.

EVE
They assured me I was perfect for Puck. Let me see if I can remember my lines. Ah, yes.

     Though speakest aright

     I am that merry wanderer of the night.

     I jest to Oberon and make him smile

     When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,

     Neighing in likeness of a filly foal

     And sometimes lurk I-

JOHN
Enough-enough, I’m sure you had them cringing in their seats.

EVE
Oh really? Tell me, Mr. Big Critic, What can you recite?

JOHN
I prefer poets still living. April is the cruelest month, breeding-

EVE
Breeding — is that all men think about?

JOHN
If you’d let me finish—

(EVE sits down on the table, dangling her legs)

EVE
No, you’re trying to upstage me. It’s not fair.

(JOHN walks close to EVE and places his hands around her waist)

JOHN
No one can upstage you. You’re one of a kind.

(CONSTANCE enters with a few curlers in her hair)

CONSTANCE
Eve! I didn’t know you’d be visiting.

(EVE hops off the table and walks towards CONSTANCE)

EVE
Connie! Where have you been? We’ve been waiting here ten minutes with no one to greet us.

(The sisters hug)

CONSTANCE
I’m sorry. If I knew you’d be arriving—

EVE
I know. I should have called. But, the decision was last minute, I’m afraid.

CONSTANCE
I’m glad you did. I should have visited you, myself. I wanted to see your play, but I couldn’t—you understand.

EVE
Of course I do, the city is just too scary for a small town girl.

(JOHN clears his throat)

EVE
Poor Baby, you must feel left out. Constance, this is John Thorton, who insists on being the center of attention.

JOHN
I can’t help myself, I look best in the center.

EVE
He thinks he’s funny.

CONSTANCE
I’m sure he is. Pleased to meet you Mr. Thorton.

JOHN
That’s my father’s name. Call me John.

(CONSTANCE smiles in agreement and turns to EVE)

CONSTANCE
Eve, why are really here?

EVE
I need some rest. Why is this so hard for everybody?

CONSTANCE
But here? You always hated it here. Why not Florida or New York?

JOHN
My thoughts exactly.

EVE
Boo! The crowd just realized the mystery is no mystery. I am here because I own half this house. I can be here is I’d like. End of mystery.

JOHN
Alright, the crowd applauds, now leave the stage.

CONSTANCE
Eve, of course you can stay. But you see we have a new boarder arriving today and there’s only one room left.

EVE
Perfect I’ll take it. Is there a bell hop to carry my bags?

CONSTANCE
But, there’s no room for your friend.

EVE
Oh Connie, how cute.

(EVE picks up her bag)

Come along, best friend. We’ll talk about boys and I’ll braid your hair.

(As EVE walks by CONSTANCE, EVE stops and flicks one of the curlers)

Is this a new style?

CONSTANCE
No, the town’s having its annual party tonight. I was getting ready.

EVE
John, we should go! A town party, you haven’t experienced anything like it.

JOHN
I thought you were on bed rest.

EVE
I am—tomorrow. Come on, you have to see my room, it’s sweet.

(Both exit. There is a knock at the door. CONSTANCE opens the door and BILL enters)

CONSTANCE
Once again, very quick.

BILL
I only had this one bag.

CONSTANCE
Really? That’s odd.

BILL
I am a simple man. Too many things hold me back.

CONSTANCE
A simple man who likes to travel—that’s all I know about you. Is there more to Mr. Sanders that I should learn?

BILL
You mean if I’m on the run from the law?

CONSTANCE
No—not that extreme—it’s just that I don’t know anything about you.

BILL
Fair enough—it’s better to be sure that your boarder is not psychotic. I’m actually here to study the town’s wildflowers. You see I’m a horticulturist.

CONSTANCE
You don’t look like a horticulturist.

BILL
I left my glasses, hat, and spy-glass in my bag. Would that convince you?

(CONSTANCE laughs)

CONSTANCE
Yes, that would convince me.

BILL
That’s all really. You probably don’t need to hear about my family.

CONSTANCE
No, I won’t question you anymore.

BILL
Then it’s my turn. What do you do?

CONSTANCE
I write.

BILL
Anything I would know?

CONSTANCE
Probably, but not under my name.

BILL
I don’t understand.

CONSTANCE
I write for other people. I’m a ghost writer.

BILL
Ah, and do you like being a ghost writer?

CONSTANCE
Yes.

(TURNS around and pulls a bag of flour from the cupboard)

BILL
Really?

(CONSTANCE pauses as though she remembers something, but it fades away)

CONSTANCE
Yes, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

BILL
Even as a child? You must have been a very serious baby?

CONSTANCE
Not really. I just never needed attention to make me happy. My sister needed it, but I didn’t.

BILL
Is your sister here?

CONSTANCE
Yes actually, you’ll probably meet her.

(Brushes some hair away from her face getting flour on her cheek)

BILL
You have some—

CONSTANCE
What?

(BILL steps closer and brushes it off)

BILL
Flour on your cheek.

(Steps back)

CONSTANCE
Thank you.

BILL
I’ll bring my bag up to my room.

CONSTANCE
Alright.

(Remembers)

There’s a party tonight. You should come. You’d be able to meet all the town members, and even the mayor, if you’re lucky. You could go with me, if you like.

BILL
That sounds like fun. I have nothing formal to wear, though.

CONSTANCE

Doesn’t matter — as long as you don’t smell, no one will notice.

BILL
Then I’ll take a bath.

(BILL exits to the right. CELESTE enters through the kitchen door. She carries a small case)

CELESTE
I’m back! Oh Connie, your curlers are in all the wrong places.

CONSTANCE
No they’re not. Curls are curls, it doesn’t matter where you place them.

CELESTE
Well, it matters for this dress. Here let me show you.

(CELESTE begins to open her case while CONSTANCE wipes her hands. CELESTE pulls out a dress, simple but elegant)

CONSTANCE
Celeste, it’s beautiful.

CELESTE
Isn’t it though, I found it in Chicago. I would have given it to you for your birthday but I thought it would serve you better for tonight.

CONSTANCE
For me? It’s too much. No, you keep the dress.

CELESTE
Will you stop playing the self-sacrificing nun? Take it. It wouldn’t fit me anyways.

CONSTANCE
(Holds the dress and feels the fabric)
Thank you.

CELESTE
You’re my best friend, it’s the least I can do. Now, let’s get you dressed and your hair fixed.

(Both Exit. Lights out)

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