Wednesday, June 10, 2009

'Dance, Boy, Dance!' - A Play in One Act - (Part Three of Three)

ACT ONE (Part Three)

BESS [softly, to JOHN]: Come here.

JOHN [suspicious]: Why?

BESSFor God’s sake, just come here!

[JOHN moves closer to the counter.]

BESS:  Give me your socks and shoes.

JOHN [incredulously]: You’re kidding me? [Silence] You’re making a fool of me? . . . I’m right? [He briefly stares at ROSS who also appears baffled.]

BESS [playfully]:  Don’t be anxious. I’m harmless ... really! [Pause] I’ll explain later, but you must trust me [Slowly] That is, if you want a conversation?

[JOHN shakes his head in disbelief, and takes off his shoes and socks. He picks them up and gives them to BESS. She places them under the counter.]

BESS:  Now your coat, shirt and tie.

ROSS [cheerful, but puzzled]: This is ... dare I say ... wonderfully bizarre, even decadent!

[JOHN takes off his coat, shirt and tie, and hands them to BESS. She places them - with the other items - under the counter.]

BESS:  Now your trousers!

JOHN [embarrassed]: Why ... are ... you teasing me?

BESS:  The trousers!

[JOHN and ROSS exchange glances. BESS motions to JOHN for his trousers. He finally removes his trousers and hands them to her. BESS gives a laugh. JOHN is left standing in his underwear.]

JOHN: What are you trying to prove?

BESS:  Do you still want a conversation? [Softly] Somewhere quiet?

JOHN: Yes, of course ... I do.

[Brief silence.]

BESS:  Do you like singing and dancing?

JOHN: Not particularly ...

BESS:  [Brightly.] I’d be obliged if you would sing and dance to a favourite song of mine. It’s called "I Wanna Be Loved By You." Marilyn Monroe style, of course.

[JOHN laughs uncomfortably, and stares at BESS.]

JOHN: You sure have it in for me.

BESS:  Whatever gave you that idea? 

[BESS and ROSS watch JOHN with interested stares. They all remain still waiting for something to happen. JOHN shakes his head in bewilderment and then starts to singsoftly at first, until he gets into his stride.]

JOHN [sings and dances, rather badly, naked, bar his underwear.]:

I wanna be loved by you, just you,
And nobody else but you,
I wanna be loved by you, alone!

I wanna be kissed by you, just you,
Nobody else but you,
I wanna be kissed by you, alone!

Boop-boop, I couldn't aspire,
To anything higher,
Than, filled with desire,
To make you my own!
Boop-boop-a-doop, boop-boop-a-doop!

I wanna be loved by you, just you,
And nobody else but you,
I wanna be loved by you, alone!


[While JOHN sings and dances, BESS watches from behind the counter, head resting on her hands. ROSS gazes in amazement, occasionally sipping brandy. The following interplay takes place between them.]

BESS:  He’s a cute singer.

ROSS: Not a bad dancer, either. The resemblance to Marilyn is uncanny.

BESS:  Never struck me as a "Y-front" man?!

ROSS: Such a dazzling performance. Good-looking in a smouldering kind of way.

BESS:  [to ROSS, quietly] I’m ringing the police.

ROSS: Surely not? [BESS disappears into the storeroom.] Oh, well.


ROSS [clapping loudly]: Bravo! Encore! [Pause] When you sang and danced I had tears in my eyes.

[A brief, uneasy pause.]

ROSS: Don’t you care who’s on the other side of the line? I imagine she may be calling the police.

JOHN:  Do you like Bess?

ROSS: How old are you?

JOHN: Twenty-four ...

ROSS: Twenty-four beats fifty-four every time. Unless, of course the female feasts on power, prestige and capital, and craves a different face and body enhancements for each new holiday season  [Pause] And I thought I’d seen it all. [With a smile] You’re jealous. You want her heart on a silver platter. Admirable and natural. [Pause; sniggers] I believe you should get dressed.

[A brief silence. BESS returns from the storeroom and approaches JOHN. Bess is carrying a bag with JOHN’s clothing and shoes.]

BESS [To JOHN]: How do you feel?

ROSS: Fine. And you?

BESS:  Awash with tenderness and passion.

ROSS: Was ... Am I silly, foolish ...?

BESS:  Do you really want an answer?

ROSS: No. Anyway, I’ve finished hedging my bets. "Maybe" and "perhaps" no longer exist in my vocabulary.

BESS: What do you want to talk about?

JOHN: You.

BESS:  Why?

JOHN: It involves me.

BESS:  In what possible way?

JOHN: I’m asking you to marry me.

[An uncomfortable pause.]

JOHN: Well?

BESS:  Yes!

JOHN: Louder!

BESS:  YES! {They kiss.] YES!

[The trio smile.]

BESS:  Goodbye Ross. I'm hitting the road.

ROSS: So I see. Good luck my young friends.

[BESS, carrying the bag of clothes, and JOHN in his underwear, exit embracing each other, in joyous mood. The sound of a police siren draws near. ROSS is left sitting at the bar on his own.]

ROSS [smiling and cheerful]: If any of you know cause or just impediment ... [Lifts his brandy glass, and turns to audience.] Bottoms Up!


Reflections:  Even though forty years had passed, my late father-in law, Charlie, could recall the train carriage, the railway station, the young lady's eyes, her half-smile as she stood on the platform. He encountered the young lady on the train. They had not spoken on the journey. But he had noticed her face, which glowed like the sky welcoming the sun. When she stood on the platform, and gazed at him on the train as it pulled out of the station, that moment entered the depths of his memory to return throughout his lifetime.

There was no reason to get off the train. But what if he had? Would she have stood and talked to him, or walked away? Would his life have changed irrevocable? Does it matter? It mattered to him. The fact remains; he regretted not decanting from the train. One should not confuse success with happiness in relations with the opposite sex. They are different. When someone takes a genuine interest in you it is invigorating, comforting, sustenance for a tired ego. It is always, however, too late to start being young again.