ACT ONE (Part Two)
JOHN: I’d rather stand ... If you don’t mind?
ROSS: Mind? I don’t have a mind. I lost mine a long time ago. [Pause] No, that’s not right. I hocked it to a pawnshop. It's still there in the window for all to see.
[BESS returns from the storeroom and sees JOHN standing at the counter.]
ROSS: I’d like to buy my fresh young friend a drink. I've never seen anyone so clean. He has - what can I say? - the most extraordinary fluttering blue eyes. Here stands a sensitive, young man completely sound in body and soul. Naturally, I'm consumed with envy and despair. He reminds me why I keep a low profile.
BESS: [to ROSS] And what’s the young man’s name? We haven’t been properly introduced.
ROSS: [to JOHN]: What did you say your name was?
JOHN: I ... er ... didn’t. [Pause] It’s ... John ...
ROSS: The nice young man's name is John.
BESS: Well, John. What would you like to drink? [Quickly, with a smile and a raised hand.] Don’t tell me. Let me guess ... vodka?
JOHN: Not exactly ... I haven’t drunk vodka in a while. [nervously] It makes me woozy ...
BESS: [to ROSS] It makes him woozy [to JOHN] Lucky you. A little brandy, maybe. What do you say, Ross? [BESS doesn’t wait for an answer and goes to the back of the bar.] Two brandies coming up for the boys in the house. [BESS pours the drinks.]
ROSS: Isn’t she magnificent? Bess has been working here all summer and as a consequence I’ve turned into an alcoholic. She endures - daily - my whistling nose, racing pulse, motionless demeanour and incessant ramblings. My doctor believes I should share my bed with a woman. Anyone, but my wife. In the dark her wide open eyes would shrivel the most ardent of unearthly creatures.
[BESS sets the drinks on the counter in front of ROSS and JOHN and stands with her hands on her hips.]
ROSS: [lifts his glass to JOHN, then BESS]: Cheers, to one and all. [ROSS and JOHN drink.]
BESS: We’re not usually honoured by distinguished suits in this establishment. [She stares at JOHN for a moment making him feel uneasy.] Are you static or do you move around?
JOHN: Well, yes ... no ... It depends ...
BESS: Depends on what? Your girlfriend? Your wife? Your tailor? [With a feigned smile] The hole in the ozone layer?
JOHN: Depends on circumstances ... whether I feel welcome in a place, or not ... whether I’ve got money ... circumstances ...
ROSS [feigned lament]: Work is the most despised of all human activities. It should be outlawed. Anyone found working should be incarcerated. One's life should not be dependent on places, people, or gadgets. [Pause] Even the simple art of breathing can be a chore. All I require is a folding bed, a dash of hypocrisy and I'm luminous. Totally, luminous! Isn't it strange how some people are dying to live, and some are dying to die? My advice is to keep clear of all ideas and concepts. You will be ignorant, uncreative, boring, but your life will be less complicated.
[BESS and JOHN stare at ROSS who has resumed the centre of attraction he desires.]
ROSS: I believe it is time for two more brandies, please. Put my young friend’s drinks on my tab. I insist! Such a charming, sensitive stranger deserves a cordial welcome.
[BESS fills both glasses and leaves them on the counter in front of ROSS and JOHN. She continues cleaning the bar. BESS and JOHN periodically exchange glances.]
ROSS [to JOHN]: That really is a fine suit. Don’t be put of by my cheap clothes. Believe me, I have worst at home. Rooms, wardrobes, trunks, full of them. Ladies clothes, all my exes clothes. I must round them up - the clothes, not my exes! - and give them to a charity. [Mockingly] It’s finding time.
[ROSS takes a drink and looks at JOHN who is fumbling in his pocket. He wonders why JOHN is so nervous. When JOHN looks up he notices BESS is staring at him.]
BESS: What do you want here?
JOHN: I wish ... I need to talk to you. [Pause] Somewhere quiet.
[ROSS sips his brandy and turns his head to watch and listen, intrigued.]
BESS: What do you want to talk about?
JOHN: [quietly, without eye contact]: Me ... I mean you ...
BESS: I don’t enjoy talking. I find conversation more engaging. More impressive, more rewarding. [Pause] Providing they are authentic as regards feelings and behaviour.
JOHN: What do you mean?
BESS [moves closer to JOHN; speaks softly]: A good conversation is like making love. Rich and glorious. [Pause] Full of sighs, whispers, intense pleasure.
ROSS [to BESS]: Remarkable! [Clapping; playful] If I could speak French I’d say ‘Bravo!’
BESS [briskly]: If you want a conversation with me, lose the suit, tie and shoes. I don’t converse with stockbrokers or accountants. I’ve encountered both and had to fake suicide once or twice to recapture my sanity.
End Of Act One (Part Two)
Reflections: I've finally concluded I can't predict anything with any degree of accuracy. This includes my prediction that I can't predict anything with any degree of accuracy. Furthermore, I feel I've never tapped my full potential. This could be the reason, that wherever I travel, water leaks from my left armpit.