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The Hypnotists

THE HYPNOTISTS

by Jeffrey R. Parenti

(Open on JOE's apartment. JOE is sitting on the couch watching TV. The phone rings.)

JOE Hello...Hi Randi...No, I'm doing much. Actually, I'm watching the Blazers game on TV...Uh, it's almost over. They're losing by 42...Why are you lonely, no date tonight? I thought plenty of guys wanted to go out with you...Come on, there's gotta be at least one guy that's not watching the Blazers game...Why do you want me to come over?...I'm too lazy to walk that far...Maybe tomorrow...

(Enter CHARLES, JOE's roommate. He's fixing his tie.)

Yeah. I'll call you, maybe. OK? Bye.

(He hangs up the phone. CHARLES can't help but overhear.)

CHARLES Who was that, Joe.

JOE That was Randi from across the hall.

CHARLES Did she just ask you to come over? And did you not just decline?

JOE Yeah.

CHARLES Are you stupid, Joe? Thousands of guys drool gallons over her every day and she asked for you. Of all people. Come on, Joe. Aren't you the least bit attracted to her?

JOE (Has to think) Well...honestly, yeah. I am. I guess.

CHARLES Well, don't just sit there on the couch like meat loaf. Go talk to her.

(JOE sits, uninterested.)

Come on, Joe. (He gives JOE a nudge.) Go over there.

JOE All right, all right, I'll go talk to her.

(CHARLES gives him a wink.)

Talk to her.

CHARLES (Excitedly) All right! That's the spirit. And you'll be doing me a favor at the same time...I got the Shelby quintuplets coming over tonight and...we'd like some privacy, y'know.

JOE Ha, ha. Right, Charles. I'll see you later and don't confuse names this time. Remember what happened with those triplets last week..

CHARLES Oh, yeah. I'll be careful, Joe. See you later.

(JOE exits and closes the door. He turns and knocks on RANDI's door, which is right across the hall.)

RANDI (Opening the door) Joey!!

(She grabs his arms and pulls him inside. The she gives him a big hug. JOE is a bit stunned, but returns the gesture with a fraction of the intensity.)

JOE Randi, I just saw you yesterday.

RANDI (With JOE still in her clutches) Oh, I know, but I just wanted to give you a hug. (Pause. She finally lets go.)

JOE Randi, why don't we try something nice and American like a handshake.

(He puts out his hand and she reluctantly shakes it.)

There, isn't that better? Hugging is for European weenies.

RANDI Aw, Joe, everyone likes to be hugged. Come sit down.

(She leads him by the hand to the sofa and they sit down.)

JOE So, what have you been up to lately?

RANDI I met this great guy at school today.

JOE Randi, that's the way you start all our conversations. Say something different this time.

RANDI I'm ignoring you - his name is Chester.

JOE Chester?

RANDI Or is it Lester?

JOE You can't remember. Of course, why should that surprise me? It took you 4 dates before you could remember the last guy's name: Mike.

RANDI Well, he looked liked an Angus.

JOE Oh, that's right. Which is why you kept calling him "Morris."

RANDI So he reminded me of the cat in the commercial...I'm human. JOE So you met this Chester Lester guy.

RANDI Yeah, in the library. We were studying for our Marsupial Digestive Processes test together, and he asked me out.

JOE (Musingly) Goody.

RANDI Yeah, we're only going out as friends, though.

JOE Going out as friends? Does that mean it's still a date?

RANDI Sort of.

JOE So, what does that mean?

RANDI It means I'm going to start seeing him. As friends.

JOE So, what are we doing right now? Aren't I seeing you as a friend? Even though I didn't ask you out? What's the difference? I don't get it.

RANDI It's hard to explain, Joe.

JOE Well, I sure hope you know what you're doing.

RANDI I do.

JOE So, you called me over here to tell me about Chester Lester?

RANDI Yeah, that and you make a good pillow.

(RANDI puts her head on JOE's shoulder. There is a pause and then she starts to play with JOE's chain which has a pendant.)

JOE Well, I feel useful now.

RANDI

This pendant is beautiful. What is it?

JOE It's a diamond-studded treasure chest. It came with the Captain Crunch I ate this morning.

(As she plays with his pendant, RANDI begins to edge closer to JOE. This makes JOE feel uncomfortable and he starts to glance around the room.)

(Getting up) Say, Randi. You never told me about this stuff on your shelf over here. I always meant to ask you about it.

(He crosses to a bookshelf containing random junk.)

RANDI (Joining him) Which stuff?

JOE This stuff. Is any of it worth anything?

RANDI No, none of it's really worth any money. It's just stuff that people have given me. Like this. (She picks up something fuzzy from the shelf.) This is a three-legged pig that a guy won for me at the state fair a few summers ago. I can't remember his name.

JOE Why does it have only three legs?

RANDI The man running the booth said it was a rare Antarctican variety. You know. It's where Canadian Bacon comes from.

JOE Oh.

RANDI And this (she picks up a ring) a guy named Ben Si--Something gave me before he proposed to me in front of Lucky Mickey's Chicken Licks. It's a mood ring--see? When he asked it read ≥melancholy.≤ I guess that's why I said yes!

JOE What happened with Ben?

RANDI Oh, I can't quite remember. I think he's the one who moved back to Idaho to take over the family used car business.

JOE How many times have you been engaged, Randi?

RANDI Only five. This (she takes a mug from the shelf) is a souvenir from Newark, New Jersey. I went there with Ted Varnal for a whole weekend. It was so exciting!

JOE How long were you going out with him?

RANDI Just that weekend. We had a fight on the drive home about who got to keep the mug. After that, we broke up. But I got to keep the mug! (She returns it and takes a miniature train car.) This is an N scale dining car from Freddy Duller's favorite train set. It was so special to him. Until his Saint Bernard, Gibraltar, trampled it and the wheels fell off of it. Then he gave it to me. That was so sweet of him.

JOE So you spent years with all these guys and this is all you have left?

RANDI Yeah, but I don't like to think of it that way, you know? (She begins to wander back toward the couch.) I mean, they were great times while lasted. I just wasn't meant to spend the rest of my life with them, that's all. Doesn't that make sense?

(They are both on the couch now.)

JOE Yeah. I guess it does.

(RANDI has now resumed her original position with JOE, using him as a pillow.)

RANDI Joe?

JOE Yes.

RANDI You know, I consider you one of my closest friends.

JOE Really?

RANDI Yeah. You didn't know that?

JOE Well, I've noticed that you hang around with a lot of guys. Like Mr. Lester Anatomy Library Man.

RANDI I know, they're just people I see every once in a while, you know? I can talk to you, Joe. You understand me. And...I care about you. I wish we could spend more time together.

JOE You do?

RANDI Yeah. What do you think about that idea?

JOE I--I don't know, Randi. What do you mean by spend more time together? I see you a lot. And I live right across from you.

RANDI I know...I guess what I mean is I'd like to get to know you more - intimately - you know...Couldn't we just try? There no harm in trying. If you don't like it we can stop. What do you say, Joe? Why don't we try something we Earthlings call a "date?" An evening alone with me. How can you argue with that, Joe?

JOE I guess I can't. What the hell, it's not like we haven't done it before. We just never called it a date - officially. Um, how bout dinner this weekend...Saturday night...7 o'clock...Cafe Ahmad...

RANDI I'd love to, Joe.

JOE Great. (Awkward pause) So you're sure there are...no other guys you're interested in...

RANDI I told you there wasn't, Joe. Even if there was, why does that bother you?

JOE Well, I mean, if you told 23 other people that you cared about them then I wouldn't feel as--important...I guess.

RANDI Oh, come on, Joe. Don't be so jealous of a guy that doesn't even exist.

JOE (Defensively) I'm not jealous, I just would like to think that I--I don't know...

RANDI (Looks into his eyes) Joe, listen to me. You are the only one I care about right now. There's no one else. Just you.

(Just as JOE is about to melt under her gaze, the doorbell rings. The spell is broken.) RANDI (Excited) Oooooh! There's someone at the door.

(She gets up and bounces to the door. JOE is left alone on the couch, stunned. RANDI opens the door. It's the plumber.)

PLUMBER Yeah, uh, is this F-2?

RANDI Yes.

PLUMBER Yeah, uh, the landlord sent me up here. Said you had a leaky pipe. I'm the plumber.

RANDI Oh, yes, come in. I'll show you to the bathroom. (They cross toward the bathroom) It's a really bad leak. There's all this water on the floor all the time. (They disappear into the bathroom.)

PLUMBER (From offstage) Hmmm. OK, yeah, uh...(He comes back into the living room followed by RANDI.) I need to go to the truck to get my tools.

(While all this is happening, JOE sits on the couch looking like he's just been through an emotional Cuisinart. Because he has. RANDI smiles broadly to PLUMBER.)

RANDI (Flirtingly) Well...

(She puts her fingers on the plumbers chest right below his name, "Bill," stitched on his coveralls.)

Don't be too long. Bill.

PLUMBER Yeah, uh...(Thinks.) Uh, hey. The tools can wait. Hey, listen...would you wanna, I don't know...do somethin' this Saturday or somethin'?

RANDI I'd love to! Oh, I almost completely forgot. Joe...

(She pulls PLUMBER over to the couch by the hand where Joe is sitting.)

This is Bill. Bill, this is my good friend Joe.

PLUMBER Hey, uh, pleased to meet ya.

JOE (Sarcastically) Yeah, dude. Thrill of a lifetime.

(PLUMBER and RANDI sit on the couch, with RANDI between the two men. There is an awkward pause.)

PLUMBER So, hey, uh, Joe. What do you do?

JOE (Deadpan) I'm a bounty hunter. I kill overpaid blue collar workers.

PLUMBER Cool.

JOE So, you're a plumber. Which country club do you belong to?

PLUMBER Actually, I'm only doing this to pay for law school.

RANDI (Gasps) Wow, really?

JOE (Laughs) Well, when you graduate from Harvard, give me a call. I have a few parking tickets I'd like to argue.

PLUMBER Uh, hey, sure. Listen, I gotta get going. (Gets up, crosses to door. RANDI follows.) I'll call you later about Saturday, OK?

RANDI OK, Bill. I'll see you later.

(PLUMBER goes out the door and RANDI closes it. A second later there is a knock. Bewildered, RANDI opens the door. PLUMBER sticks his head in.)

PLUMBER Hey, uh, what's your name?

RANDI Oh. It's Randi.

PLUMBER Uh, OK. Bye.

RANDI Bye.

(RANDI shuts the door and turns to JOE.)

RANDI (Angrily) You were so mean to him!

JOE (Gets up to leave, upset) Uh, listen, Randi, I gotta go home and clean my revolver. Thanks for the conversation.

(He breaks for the door. RANDI catches him by grabbing his wrist.)

RANDI What are you so upset about?

JOE Did you forget the little detail of our date Saturday night?

RANDI Oh, Joe, I'm so sorry. I'll reschedule with Bill for Saturday afternoon.

JOE That's not the point...

RANDI Joe, don't be mad at me. Can we at least talk about this?

JOE Maybe some other time--

RANDI (Sternly) Joe. Listen to me for a second.

JOE Fine.

(They sit on the couch.)

RANDI Tell me what you are so upset about.

JOE I just can't believe you're going out with that guy. He's a plumber.

RANDI Joe, you heard him. He's paying for law school.

JOE He is lying about law school.

RANDI How can you say that?

JOE Guys tell you a lot of stories that you believe. Remember Larry Sander?

RANDI Oh, yeah. Told me he was a stockbroker until I finally found out he was a bell-hop.

JOE Yeah. It was the uniform that gave him away. How about Rahul X, the guy that was gonna start a civil rights movement for Arab-Americans...

RANDI ...Who turned out to be a cashier at Arby's. And he wasn't even Arab.

JOE And don't forget Jim Taliver.

RANDI Ah, the guy who told me he was a multi-millionaire professional pickle player. Until you told me there was no such thing as professional pickle.

JOE See?

RANDI Yeah, I guess you're right (Suddenly determined) But Bill's different. He's not like the other people I've dated.

JOE Randi, that's what you say about every guy you date.

RANDI I do not.

(He pulls a small voice recorder from his pocket and pushes play.)

RANDI'S VOICE But Rahul is different. He's not like the other people I've dated.

RANDI OK, so I did say it. But this time I mean it.

JOE Fine. Have a good time, Randi. I'm sure you'll tell me all about it.

RANDI Cafe Ahmad, Saturday night.

JOE Oh, nuh-uh. I'm not going out with you Saturday night.

RANDI Why not?

JOE I seem to remember something about how I was "the only one." Care to explain? RANDI (Gently) That was before I met Bill.

JOE Oh, I see.

RANDI Come on, Joe, there's absolutely nothing wrong with caring for more than one person at once.

JOE Well, that's OK. You won't have to worry about that anyway.

(JOE gets up and moves to the door. RANDI dart over and blocks his exit.)

RANDI All right. All right. Bill--is nothing. OK? I--don't know what I was thinking when I said I'd go out with him. I'll call him right now and break the date we had. OK?

JOE No, don't bother, Randi, I--

RANDI (Looks into his eyes) Joe, let's go back to the couch, OK? I'll call Bill.

(They sit on the couch. RANDI picks up the phone.)

JOE (Still annoyed) Randi, he just left. He won't be home yet. Besides, you don't know his phone number. Or his last name.

RANDI Oh, yeah. (Turns to look at JOE.) That's another thing I like about you, Joe. You're so smart. (She laughs.) You know, I don't think I've ever broken a date with a guy in my entire life. That's definitely a first for me. It must mean I really like you.

JOE No, it doesn't.

(She looks into his eyes.)

RANDI (Slowly, hypnotically) Yes, it does. In fact, just sitting here, I've realized something.

JOE (Caught) What?

RANDI I think I'm falling in love with you...

(Ring! The phone. RANDI reacts immediately.)

(Gasps, excited) Phone!

(RANDI darts to the other side of the room to answer to phone. JOE, left hanging again, falls off the couch and lands with a thud on the floor.)

(Into the phone) Hello...No, it's not...Who?...Oh. Well, how do you know her?...You are?...She hasn't? The nerve! That's terrible. She has no right to treat you like that...Well, hey, um--I'm not doing anything right now. Do you...want to come over?

(Hearing this, JOE picks himself off the floor and staggers to the door. With some effort, he manages to open it, walk through it, and close it behind him.) RANDI Oh...Well, if you ever want to talk, or whatever, you know, just call that same number, okay? Maybe we can try some other time. It was nice talking to you. Bye.

(She hangs up the phone and turns back the couch where JOE used to be.)

Ha. Wrong number. Joe? Joe?

(Blackout.)

(When the lights come back up, it is the next night. CHARLES and a beautiful young woman, BRENDA, are sitting at a small table downstage in his apartment. They are both staring into a crystal ball. The light is low, there are candles burning, and the smell of incense is in the air.)

BRENDA (Whispering) Do you see anything else?

CHARLES (Also whispering) It's growing blurry...We must both concentrate...Grip my hand tighter.

(BRENDA squeezes his hand.)

BRENDA Anything?

CHARLES Wait...I'm getting something...I see...I see you, Brenda. You're beautiful, as ever. (He looks at her and smiles. She smiles back.) You're with someone--

BRENDA (Gasping) Who is it?

CHARLES It appears to be...a man.

BRENDA Who? It he handsome?

CHARLES (Humbly describing himself) He's tall. Strong. Intelligent. And handsome. (He winks at her.) And I believe...he's sitting...right next to you.

BRENDA (Swooning) Oh, Charles...

(CHARLES moves his lip region in on BRENDA's. Outside the door, enter JOE, reaching in his pocket for his keys. He opens the door, interrupting the fun.)

CHARLES (Annoyed, but polite) Joe...hi.

JOE Charles.

CHARLES (Clears his throat.) Er, Brenda, this is my roommate, Joe...who was at the baseball game...for the whole day. I thought.

JOE (Turning on the lights) Basketball game. And I left early. The Blazers only scored seven points in the first quarter. I wasn't about to stay for the slaughter.

CHARLES I see. (Pause.) Brenda, would you excuse me for a second?

BRENDA Sure.

CHARLES (Crosses down to Joe, whispering) Joe, uh, listen, I got something good going here. You understand.

JOE What, you want me to leave again?

CHARLES Well...

JOE I don't...dammit, Charles.

CHARLES Joe, look at her, she's beautiful.

(They look back at her. She waves back.)

You gotta give me this one, pal. (He puts his hand on JOE's shoulder.)

JOE (Looks at him.) No, Charles, I'm not leaving. I am sick of leaving every time you have a girl come over and play.

CHARLES Come on, J--

JOE Why don't you take her in the bedroom and show her your spoon collection. I want to watch some TV.

CHARLES (Pause.) All right, Joe. Watch your TV. (Starts to cross back, but stops.) You know, you really need a girl. (Remembering.) Hey, what happened with Randi last night?

JOE (Disgusted) Ah, Randi can suck me.

CHARLES (Impressed) Wow, nice going, stud man.

JOE No, I mean, she doesn't--I don't want to talk about it. (Pause.) And what about your quintuplets last night?

CHARLES They were boring.

JOE Too easy for you, Charles?

CHARLES Listen, Brenda and I will be enjoying each other's company. Give my best to Gilligan. (He claps JOE on the back then crosses back to BRENDA, who was playing with her hair.) Brenda, would you care to join me in the other room?

BRENDA I'd love to. (She get up, crosses to him and takes his hand.)

CHARLES (As they walk off toward the bedroom, stage left) I'll show you several dozen eating utensils that elite druids used in 12th Century Eurasia.

BRENDA Ooo, I've never seen anything like that.

CHARLES And after that, maybe I'll show you some other things.

BRENDA Oh.

(They giggle and rub noses nauseatingly as JOE watches in pain. BRENDA and CHARLES exit. JOE goes to refrigerator and produces a beer. He crosses back to the couch and turns on the TV. He watches for a bit. After a few sips of his beer he realizes it doesn't taste very good. Then he notices the incense smell which is still in the room. He looks over his shoulder where it is burning. He gets up, crosses to the small table downstage, takes the stick of incense out of the holder and looks at it. We can hear more giggling from the bedroom area. JOE throws the stick on the floor and stamps it out. Then he goes to the candles and pours his beer on them to put them out. He tosses the can bitterly back towards the couch. Then he turns to the crystal ball. He looks at it for a few seconds then picks it up. He holds it up to the light and smiles. He crosses to the couch where he left his jacket and put it on. He puts the crystal ball in his pocket and goes out the door. There is one last shriek from the bedroom before he makes it out. As he is closing the door, RANDI enters behind him in the hallway with a bag of groceries in each hand. JOE sees her and tries to reenter his apartment without being seen. Unfortunately, she sees him.)

RANDI (Squealing) Joey!

JOE Uh, hi, Randi. Do you need some help with those?

RANDI Oh, thanks, you're a doll. Could you unlock my door for me?

JOE Sure, where are your keys?

RANDI (Flirtatiously) They're in my front pocket. (She sticks out her hip.)

JOE Eh, why don't I just take these?

(JOE takes the bags from her. RANDI frowns and opens the door. JOE follows her in.)

RANDI (Taking back one of the bags) Can you stay for a little while? I want to talk to you about something.

JOE (As they disappear into the kitchen to dispose of the bags) Well, the Jeffersons are on in a few hours...

RANDI (Reemerging into the living room) Joe, what happened to you last night when I was on the phone?

JOE Huh?

RANDI (Turning him around to face her by his shoulders) You disappeared. Why did you leave?

JOE (Not looking at her) Randi, listen--

RANDI (Takes his forearms) Joe, be honest with me. Please?

JOE Randi, what do you really think about me?

RANDI (Suddenly embracing him) Joe, I told you last night that I'm falling in l--(With eighth grade innuendo) Joe...what's that in your pocket? JOE (After RANDI lets go) Oh...(He takes the crystal ball out of his pocket) You mean this? It's a crystal ball.

RANDI Oh, it's so pretty. Can I see it?

(He gives it to her and she sits on the couch. JOE sits too.)

Wow...Where did you get it?

JOE Uh...actually it belongs to Charles.

RANDI It does? Why do you have it?

JOE I don't know, really. It was sitting on the table in there, and I just sort of...took it.

RANDI You stole it?

JOE I'll give it back! (Pause) I don't know, Randi. I guess I just wanted to see what it is about this thing...

RANDI (Putting her head on his shoulder) Read my future, Joe.

JOE (Annoyed, he returns her head to its original upright position with his hand) No, I will not tell your future. If you want to know your future, ask Charles. (Getting up, raising his tone) I'll tell you your present, though. After I left the game today, I was feeling a little curious. So I stopped by the office of the Drip Drip Fix Fix Plumbing Company and asked them if they had any plumbers named Bill. And you know what I found out? Your friend Bill is not going to law school. In fact, he's not even a plumber. He escaped from the Locomount Mental Institution and was impersonating a plumber.

RANDI (Nonchalant) Hmm. He did a good job on the pipes, though.

JOE I also know that you went out with him today, Randi.

RANDI Yeah, he took me grocery shopping. He's so good with coupons.

JOE (Angry) You don't get it, do you?

RANDI Oh, why are you so jealous, Joe? It's like you're gonna turn into a psycho killer because I went out with one guy.

JOE (Angrily, under his breath, as he heads for the door) I don't believe this. (He flings the door open and shakily tries to unlock his.)

RANDI (Following him into the hall) Joe, didn't you hear what I said last night? I love you!

JOE Oh, save it for your plumber!

(He opens the door and slams it behind him. RANDI retreats as the lights go down on her apartment. JOE takes off his jacket and throws it somewhere in anger. Apparently he has forgotten the action that had been going on in the bedroom. CHARLES enters from stage left, fully clothed.)

CHARLES Joe, what going on out here? I heard you yelling, is everything all right?

JOE (Frantic) Aw, I'm sorry I slammed the door, Charles. I know you hate that. I just a little--ok I'm a lot--angry at Randi for--

CHARLES Joe, exactly what happened? (They sit on the couch.)

JOE (Bashfully) All right, well...I - I asked Randi out, ok...

CHARLES Atta boy, Joe man!

JOE Shut up for a second, ok, Charles. I didn't really want to. She has this weird power, I don't know...

(BRENDA emerges from the bedroom, wearing half her clothes, carrying the other half. Her hair is a mess.)

BRENDA Charles, what's going on, why did you l--Oh, hi, Joe.

JOE (With a sidelong glance at Charles) Brenda.

(CHARLES gets up and goes over to BRENDA and takes her by the shoulders.)

CHARLES Brenda, listen, I'm afraid it just won't work out between us. I'm sorry, I - I just got out of a bad relationship and I'm--just not ready to start a new one right now. I hope you can understand..

BRENDA Of course I understand, Charles.

CHARLES (Leading her to the door) Maybe in a few months we can try again, ok? Remember, I still love you. (He kisses her on the forehead and opens the door.) Goodbye, Brenda.

BRENDA Goodbye, Charles. (She exits down the hall as CHARLES closes the door.)

JOE What the hell was wrong with her, Charles? Wasn't she any good?

CHARLES No, I felt smothered in our relationship. I needed some space. JOE You met her this morning!

CHARLES That's not important. So where were we? What did Randi say to you?

JOE Well, after she said yes to me, this other guy walks in--

CHARLES Who? An old flame? A high school sweetheart?

JOE No, a plumber.

CHARLES A plumber?

JOE Yeah. Came to fix the pipes. And Randi just reeled him in. She just threw me away, Charles.

CHARLES (A little musingly) You lost Randi to a plumber?

JOE (Quickly) It's not funny, Charles.

CHARLES Sorry, Joe.

JOE I could kill her.

CHARLES Yeah, I know where you're coming from, pal. I think that it's really low to brush away someone like that. Pick up a new person just like that. (Snaps his fingers.) Sad thing is you'll meet people like her again, Joe. You gotta--

(The doorbell rings.)

I'll get it.

(CHARLES crosses to the door and opens it.)

CHARLES Well, hello. Please, come in.

(Enter GILLIE, carrying a briefcase, about as pretty as a door-to-door salesman is allowed.)

GILLIE Hello, my name is Gillaria Hamilton, I represent the International Largerama Corporation. (She shakes CHARLES' hand.)

CHARLES My name is Penn...But everyone in the parallel universes calls me The White Panther.

JOE No, your name is Charles and everyone at work calls you Chuck.

GILLIE I was wondering if you would be interested in any of our Tazmanian Sponges.

CHARLES Well, yes, I'd love to see them. This way...(He leads her to the downstage table. She puts her briefcase on it and opens it.)

JOE So, what were you saying, Charles?

CHARLES (While perusing sponges) Oh. First of all, think about this for a minute. Who's a better guy? You, or the plumber?

GILLIE This is a very nice sponge from the south coast.

JOE I don't know.

CHARLES Well, you are, of course. (To GILLIE) What's the absorbency like on this one? JOE Yeah, I guess I am. (With conviction) Sure I am. So, now what?

GILLIE This one will hold a full liter of water!

CHARLES No kidding. (To JOE) You have to show her, Joe! Show how great of a person you are.

JOE What do you mean?

CHARLES What about this purple one here? (To JOE) You have to go over there and make her forget about that loser electrician.

JOE Plumber.

CHARLES Whatever.

GILLIE This one is naturally scented with the ink of the Bultarian Octopus from the Indian Ocean.

JOE You think I should go talk to her?

CHARLES Absolutely. (To GILLIE) Do you have this in red?

JOE Ok. Ok, I will. Screw the plumber. She should be with me.

CHARLES That's the spirit, Joe. (To GILLIE) I think I'll take this one.

(JOE, determined, gets up to leave. He heads for the door.)

JOE Thanks, Charles. CHARLES No sweat, buddy. (As the lights go down on his apartment, to GILLIE) Say, can you stay for awhile?

(JOE, trembling with confidence, knocks on RANDI's apartment. Lights come up as she crosses to open it.)

RANDI (Sans bubbles) Joe. How nice to see you.

JOE (Confidently) Randi, there's something I'd like to talk with you about.

RANDI (Still hurt) Uh, sure. Come in.

JOE I would first like to apologize for yelling at you earlier. That was uncalled for.

RANDI Apology accepted.

JOE (Awkwardly) And so now I'd like to talk about you. And me.

RANDI Ok. (She heads for the couch and sits. JOE follows.)

JOE Last night you said--

RANDI Before you start, I think I have to tell you something.

JOE Yes? What?

RANDI Joe, I'm getting a feeling from you that you--I don't know--don't want me around.

JOE Oh, no, that's not true at all.

RANDI And it makes me feel--lonely. You know.

JOE No, please, Randi, I've been thinking a lot about this and--there's something very important I have to say to you. I--

RANDI (Pulling the crystal ball out from under her) Oh, look at this. You left Charles' crystal ball here.

JOE (Exasperated) Forget about the crystal ball, Randi. (He takes it from her and puts it back down on the couch.)

RANDI (Picking it back up) I think you should take it back to him. I think he would be very upset if it got lost or broken. (JOE is not interested in the crystal ball. She looks at him sternly). Joe...What if it were your crystal ball?

JOE All right, Randi. Here (He takes the ball) I promise I will take excellent care of it while we are talking. This is very important. I need to tell you how I feel about you. (His glance lands on RANDI's shelf of souvenirs. Changing his tone) Randi...(Still looking at the shelf) If we were to start dating...What do you think will happen to us?

RANDI What do you mean, Joe? (Pause) We'll go out, we'll get to know each other, we'll have fun--

JOE (Looks at her) No, I mean in the long run. Do you think that we'll--Do you think we'll ever get married, have kids--

RANDI Married? Joe, don't you think it's a little early to start talking about marriage?

JOE I just want to know whether I should spend time--with you--all this time--if we're not--

RANDI Joe, stop for a minute. Look. I can't promise you anything about that. I wouldn't. I do know how I feel right now. You are one of the nicest men I have ever met. I mean that. You're tall, handsome, intelligent, and strong. And what I said last night still stands. I love you. Nothing can change that. But I can't predict the future. Nobody can. Not even Charles and his stupid crystal ball. (She puts her hands on the ball.) I don't know where we will be in five years, four and a half years, four and a quarter years, or even four years. But if I love you, and if you love me (They smile at each other) we'll be around for a long time. But I can't tell you if we'll ever be married. I haven't even kissed you yet. (She leans toward him. He rocks back a bit, unsure. But then he closes his eyes and waits.)

JOE (Taking a pipe wrench from underneath him) What's this?

RANDI Oh, that was Bill's. (Pause.) That reminds me, I have great news.

JOE What?

RANDI Bill was here a few minutes ago.

JOE (Raising his tone) Was he?

RANDI He came over to talk me about breaking up.

JOE He dumped you?

RANDI No, it was a mutual break-up. (Pause) But isn't that great? I'm all yours! You don't have to share me with anybody.

JOE What happened with Bill, Randi? Why did you break up?

RANDI Who cares, Joe, it's--

JOE Just--please, I want to know.

RANDI All right, all right. Um, well...he had to go back the hospital to get treatment, so we decided that neither of us could stay with the relationship, and--

(JOE gets up and stands behind the couch.)

What? What's wrong?

JOE Wait. That means you were going out with him for a grand total of--thirty hours?

RANDI Closer to thirty-one.

JOE (Winces) Incredible.

RANDI Joe--(Long pause.)

JOE (Calmly) So, uh...How did you end up with his wrench?

RANDI Oh, he was so sweet, Joe. (She takes the wrench and looks at it.) He gave it to me and he said that if we ever see each other again he would buy me a solid gold pipe wrench a thousand times bigger. Besides, he didn't need it anymore. You know (She gets up and crosses to the shelf.) I think I'll put it right here next to the dining car...(It lands with a thud.) Doesn't it look nice, Joe?

(JOE does not respond. He's eyes are fixed on the shelf. Lights come up very slowly on the other side of the stage where GILLIE and CHARLES are on the couch. As the action continues in RANDI's apartment, they slowly become closer. They eventually progress to kissing.) RANDI Come on, Joe. Bill is history. Forget him. Don't be so damn jealous. I told you there will not anyone but you while we are--

JOE (Quietly, calmly) I don't care about that. (Pause.) I don't care about that, Randi. (Slowly) Can you tell me more about those guys on your shelf? The broken train car guy, the mood ring guy, the three legged pig guy, the New Jersey mug guy or anybody else up there? Collecting dust. You'd forget them all if it weren't for some piece of crap they all gave you. What about me, Randi? Should I even go through the motions with you? Or just call it over before we start? Huh? What do you think? Save us both some time and trouble. (Long pause. JOE is breathing as though he has just run the mile.) You don't want to forget me, do you, Randi?

RANDI No--

JOE Well, here. Here's another souvenir for your shelf. (JOE tosses the crystal ball to RANDI, who is stunned and doesn't catch it. It sails past her and we hear it shatter offstage right. JOE turns and walks out quickly. He disappears down the hallway. CHARLES freezes when he hears the shatter and looks back to the table, where he notices for the first time that his crystal ball is missing. He runs across the hall just after JOE leaves.)

CHARLES (Frantically) Joe, have you seen my crystal ball? (Seeing RANDI, he turns the charm switch on) Oh, hello, Randi.

(The lights immediately go down on RANDI's apartment. GILLIE, who has just been left by CHARLES, sits dejectedly for a moment, then bitterly tosses one of her sponges at the door. Blackout.)

END.

 

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