One of the rewards of writing my Gazette blog has been meeting, and becoming friends with, some of my readers. One such friend is Randi Cousineau from Montreal. She sent me a play she had written in 1998, which went on to be produced in Montreal. Randi very graciously consented to have the play appear first in my Gazette blog and now here, saying: “I hope it helps folks believe in real love. And I hope others find acceptance, understanding and love in their hearts…”
I’m not going to give away the plot, but there is plenty of drama and suspense. Give yourself lots of time — it’s a play, after all. So, pour yourself a cuppa or a nice glass of wine, and settle in for a good read.
As for any theatre companies/film companies looking in who might want to produce this play, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I will put Randi in touch with you. Enjoy:
© copyright 1998 R C
CAST OF CHARACTERS
In order of appearance:
DONALD TOWNSEND: good-looking, middle class, police detective, mid-thirties. Loving and devoted husband to Roberta for the past nine months.
ROBERTA AYNSLEY TOWNSEND: beautiful, medium height woman, late twenties, sexy, works as a fashion consultant. She is intelligent, loving and sensitive. She has been happily married to Donald for the last nine months.
ACT ONE SCENE ONE
As the curtain rises, the action takes place in a middle-class living room in a two story brownstone in New York City. It is evening, late Fall of 1998. There is a sofa, a small end table, arm chair, a small desk with a drawer with a gun & police badge. On the desk, is a large dictionary, and a loving picture of Roberta & Donald. There is a tape player on a shelf, and a wastepaper basket on the floor near the desk. There is a bar on which are a set of glasses and a decanter of scotch. Donald Townsend is in the living room. He is wearing khaki pants and an oxford cloth shirt. Before curtain, he has arrived home from work earlier than his wife, and, after opening the mail, has found a letter. He read it and has been deciding for a couple of hours how to approach the subject with his wife. When the curtain rises, Donald is deciding whether or not to throw away the letter. He looks at it, walks to the trash, throws it out, then pulls it out deciding not to get rid of it, and puts it in his pocket. He looks at his police badge, taking it out of the drawer, (audience sees that) puts it back in, and opens another drawer to see his gun. The audience doesn’t see the gun. He closes the drawer. When Roberta enters, she is wearing a silky long robe over a black lace teddy. She is sexy and has long wavy brown hair.
DONALD: (calls out to his wife who’s in another room of the house) Roberta, could you come in here a minute? I need to talk to you about something.
ROBERTA: (calling from backstage) Is it really important Donald? I’m just putting the wet laundry in the dryer.
DONALD: Yes it’s important. I need to talk to you. I’ll help you with that later. (goes to bar)
ROBERTA: Ok Sweetie, I’ll be right in. Can I bring you anything? A coffee? Beer?
DONALD: I’ll fix us both a scotch. (he pours 2 drinks)
ROBERTA: (walks in wiping hands with a dishtowel) Scotch? Sounds serious.
DONALD: (he moves to sofa with drinks & firmly says…) Come, sit next to me. (he hands her the drink and she sits down.)
ROBERTA: What is it Donald? What’s wrong?
DONALD: (he looks at her strangely) Why do you dress like that to do the housework?
ROBERTA: What? I don’t know. I guess I like to dress pretty for you. Why? Don’t you like it? Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?
DONALD: No, no. Of course not. (he gets up)
ROBERTA: You’re not sick are you Donald? (she follows him)
DONALD: No, it’s nothing like that. I’m fine.
ROBERTA: (sigh of relief) Good. You scared me there for a minute. What is it then?
DONALD: All in due time. (raises his glass for a toast, forces a smile & sounds sarcastic) To your…..health. (he holds up his glass and takes a swig)
ROBERTA: Thanks…. I guess. (takes a sip) Is everything all right down at the police station honey? Did something happen you want to tell me about? (silence) What is it Donald, what’s wrong?
DONALD: (he gets up) No… work is fine. I’m fine. Are you fine Roberta? (he takes a sip)
ROBERTA: Me? I don’t understand. Why would you ask how I am? There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m fine. (she gets up & looks at herself) Don’t I look fine to you?
DONALD: (tenderly) Oh Roberta…..You look so…. (he touches her face tenderly with the back of his hand, slides it further down to her shoulders and uncovers one shoulder as he touches her smooth skin. She smiles & buries her head in his chest & puts her arms around him)
ROBERTA: Donald, if that’s all you wanted, all you had to do was ask. I’d never refuse you. You know that. I love you. (looks at her drink) And since when have we ever needed a scotch to get us in the mood?
DONALD: (sadly, he lets her go.) Probably never. I’m a lucky man, Roberta, a real lucky man. You’re a treasure, you know that? (sighs) How could I ever live without you?
ROBERTA: You’ll never have to. (confused) Why are you acting like that? Something happened, I can feel it. I know you too well. (she tousles her hair a little and puts her head on his shoulder, rubbing his chest) Tell me what’s on your mind honey, maybe I can help you.
DONALD: (firm!) Please don’t touch me like that. (he puts drink down)
ROBERTA: (surprised, she puts her drink down) Come sit down Donald…. (she takes him by the arm and leads him to the chair. He sits down. She kneels down behind the chair) Here, let me rub your back. (she massages his back) Just relax honey. Close your eyes. You’re so tense….(still massaging his back) Let me make you feel better.
DONALD: (sadly) If it were only that simple.
ROBERTA: (confused) It is that simple. Here, take off your shirt. You’ll be more relaxed. (she tries to lift his shirt out of his pants but he resists)
DONALD: (agitated) Don’t tempt me like that. The timing’s wrong.
ROBERTA: Timing? Donald you’re not making any sense.
DONALD: You can’t make it better. Not this time.
ROBERTA: You’re really scaring me now. What is it? (he looks straight ahead) Donald, look at me. (he looks straight through her) Is something wrong between us? (he doesn’t look at her, he just stares straight ahead) God, where’s this coming from? Have I done something to offend you?
DONALD: It doesn’t matter anymore.
ROBERTA: Of course it matters. (takes his hand) Don’t you know how much I love you? You’re my heart. You complete me. (she looks right at him, he looks away, she cups his face & turns him toward her…he slowly turns to her) I adore you. I was nothing before I met you. You know that. You make me feel safe and loved. I’d die for you. Please tell me what’s wrong.
DONALD: I know you love me. These last nine months being married to you have been a dream come true for me. (sadly shaking his head) but…. (he gets his drink & takes another swig and sighs heavily)
ROBERTA: (concerned) But what? Why do you look so sad? I’ve never seen you like this before. You’ve always been the strongest, most together man I’ve ever known. (he looks away) Something’s very wrong here. Honey look at me. (agitated) Why won’t you look at me???
DONALD: I can’t.
ROBERTA: Why not? God Donald, what have I done to you? Tell me and let me explain. Whatever it is, we can solve it together, I know we can. (he shakes his head and slowly looks at her)
DONALD: (frustrated by how much he loves her) God, I love you so much I ache inside. I’m only half a man when I’m not with you. (he traces her lip with his finger) Your lips are so luscious, so inviting…. so soft. (pauses sadly)
ROBERTA: (smiling) I love when you say those things to me. But why are you saying them as though it’s a tragedy? What’s changed? (she searches his face for an answer) Honey, what is it? Are you bored with the way I look? (thinking) Is it my hair? (she gestures putting her hair on top of her head) Would you like me to wear it up like I used to? I know how much you liked that style. I don’t mind. Really. (thinking) Maybe I could change the colour for you. (nervously playing with her hair) Would you like your wife to be a blonde? (he shakes his head without looking at her) I know….it’s my makeup isn’t it? It’s too much. I can tone it down for you. (flustered) Honey, I’ll do anything to please you. You know that.
DONALD: Don’t let the feminists hear you say that.
ROBERTA: To hell with the feminists! They don’t know what they’re missing. There’s nothing I enjoy more than making you proud of me. Nothing! And I’m not ashamed to shout it to the world. (pretending she’s telling it to the world) I love my husband and I’ll do anything to make him happy. (more quietly) You’re my reason for living. Please don’t stop loving me, I couldn’t take it.
DONALD: (sadly, stroking one strand of her hair) You’re perfect the way you are. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about you. Not one hair on that gorgeous head of yours. (hard to keep his hands off her, he strokes her hair) Your hair’s so soft… (he smells her hair as if for the last time) Oh you smell so good. It’s as though you were created just for me.
ROBERTA: I feel exactly the same way. I don’t see a problem here at all. Even our friends are jealous of our love for each other. You know how Janice and Tom are always joking around saying how we just “ooze” affection….. and Bev and James always say the way we look at each other totally nauseates them. (snickers)….It’s like a running gag now. You remember don’t you?
DONALD: (nodding slowly & sadly) We’ve surrounded ourselves with some really great friends haven’t we?
ROBERTA: Yes we have.
DONALD: We’ve had some good times too. A lot of laughs.
ROBERTA: Of course we have, and we’ll continue to have great times together. I don’t doubt that for a minute, and neither should you. We’re very lucky Donald. We’ve had some incredible times together. (thinking back) Remember our honeymoon? It was magical, wasn’t it? (he slowly nods and thinks back fondly but sadly) Seven glorious nights of romance and passion. Exploring each other’s bodies…….getting to know each other’s souls.
DONALD: (shaking his head, he’s tortured, not looking at her) The setting was so perfect… the warm tropical sun beating down on our bodies… the waves crashing against the shore in perfect rhythm…. (looking off into space)
ROBERTA: It was everything I’d hoped for and more. You were so gentle… and patient. You showed me what real love is. You helped me blossom in ways I never could have imagined.
DONALD: (staring off in a haze) And those incredible sunsets…
ROBERTA: Yes. It was as though God had painted them just for us.
DONALD: (bittersweet) Walking arm in arm on the beach under the stars. (looks at her sorrowfully, as if he doesn’t know her anymore) You were so desirable, so willing… so beautiful.
ROBERTA: (giggling) Hey, you weren’t so bad yourself. Can you believe it’s been nine months already?
DONALD: (he snaps out of it. Firm!!!) Time enough to have a baby!
ROBERTA: Oh honey, our life’s been great so far, just the two of us. Every night with you is like the first. I still can’t get enough of you. (she strokes his cheek lovingly) Your touch, your tenderness… For the first time in my life I feel cherished and loved.
DONALD: (he stops her) Please Roberta.
ROBERTA: (slowly losing patience) Please what? If you don’t tell me what’s wrong Donald, I swear I don’t know what I’ll do. Have I done something to embarrass you in any way? Just tell me, I can handle it. I’m not a fragile little flower you know, I can take it.
DONALD: I’ll cherish the times we’ve had together until the day I die.
ROBERTA: Why are you talking like that? You don’t have to cherish the past when we have our whole future to look forward to? We have the rest of our lives to spend together. (takes a deep breath) All right Donald. Enough is enough. Now why did you call me in here? You’re sending me very mixed signals, and I’m not going to play this game anymore tonight. I’m tired, and I still have to finish the laundry or your shirts will look like you slept in them.
DONALD: I didn’t mean to upset you.
ROBERTA: Well then don’t. I don’t see a problem anyway. I think you just had a bad day that’s all. It happens to everyone. Don’t worry about it. (trying to change the subject) Hey, I have an idea. How about I go upstairs and get dressed, and we go grab a fast pizza or something. I’m a little hungry. What do you say? The fresh air will do us both some good. We’ll get the works, just like you like it…. all dressed with lots of anchovies. My treat. Come honey… (she holds out her hand to him)
DONALD: (not interested) I don’t want to go.
ROBERTA: (nervously) All right…. then we’ll order in. (thinking)… and maybe later we can take a relaxing Jacuzzi together…… you know…. light a few candles, and catch an old black and white movie on TV all snuggled up in bed? I just ironed a set of crisp white sheets. What do you say?
DONALD: (quite irritated) Stop it!! Stop trying to win me over. Stop trying to seduce me. It’s not going to work this time!
ROBERTA: (very confused) What? What are you talking about? (frustrated) Ok! You refuse to tell me what’s going on, so I’m going back to my laundry. You cool down in here for a few minutes. I’ve never seen you like this before. (exhausted and frustrated, she starts to walk out.)
DONALD: Wait. Come back. (firm) I don’t want you to go. (she stops and smiles)
ROBERTA: Well that’s more like it. (she walks to him, snuggling up beside him, he’s unresponsive. In a sexy voice she says…) Honey, why don’t we just skip the pizza and I’ll go run a nice bath for us.
DONALD: (angrily he pulls away from her) No!!! There will be no bath. No candles– no anchovies, and no fucking old movies, black and white or otherwise!! You got that? I just want the truth Roberta! The truth!!!
ROBERTA: (startled and confused) The truth? What are you talking about? What truth?
DONALD: The truth damn it! Is that a foreign word to you? Do you need a dictionary? (he gets up and frantically looks for, and grabs the Webster’s dictionary sitting on top of desk)
ROBERTA: What are you doing? Stop it Donald! You’re acting irrational.
DONALD: (ignoring her and leafing through the book) Oh ya? Well since you don’t know the meaning of the term, let’s see what Mr. Webster has to say about the word “TRUTH”. Ah… Here we are…. (agitated & louder) “TRUTH”… “Conformity to fact or reality. Honesty. A true statement. The state or quality of being “TRUE”! (he throws the book on the floor)
ROBERTA: You’re getting me really angry now! (she picks up book) What the hell are you getting at?? Just tell me damn it and get it over with!!
DONALD: Did you, or did you not hear what I said? (very angry…counting on his fingers) FACT…REALITY…..HONESTY….A TRUE STATEMENT. Get it?
ROBERTA: Look. I’ve never lied to you ok? So if you have something to say, just be a man and say it all right? (he gives her a dirty look) Look, it’s getting late and I have a ton of work to do. If you don’t want me near you tonight, just say so and I’ll leave you alone. (she gets up to leave, starts to walk away. He grabs her arm aggressively, and her robe opens a bit)
DONALD: Oh no you don’t…. not so fast. You’re not going anywhere, you understand me? Nowhere!!!
ROBERTA: Donald, you’re hurting me. (he lets go of her forcefully)
DONALD: Close your robe will you? You’re distracting me. (she tightens it & is scared, he looks away in disgust)
ROBERTA: Look, you’re the one who called me in here remember? I was very happy catching up on my housework. (takes a deep breath to try to calm down) Look honey, I’m exhausted. I had a really long day at the Bridal Show today. An endless lineup of brides & their mothers came to my booth for fashion advice, so if you won’t let me leave the room, then you better change your attitude and treat me with some respect. After all, I am your wife.
DONALD: (angrily & a bit crazed) Ha! Respect? You want respect? That’s a laugh. (muttering to himself) “wife”. Well, as my “wife”, (glaring at her) I’m ordering you to take your clothes off! (he grabs her, tugging at her robe, trying to taunt her, but she holds it closed)
ROBERTA: (scared) Donald, stop it! Get ahold of yourself.
DONALD: (grabbing her by the arm) Hey, what’s the matter? You’ve been trying to seduce me all night. Now go on. Take your damn clothes off like I told you to! (harassing her and tugging at her robe)
ROBERTA: (scared) No! What’s wrong with you? Stop it, you’re acting crazy.
DONALD: (losing it) Don’t you call me crazy, lady! (mockingly) You were the one who said you’d do anything I wanted you to.. (very angry now) Well I want you take your God damn clothes off !! Now!! (he gets her down on the couch, and starts ripping at her clothes. (She screams “no” & they struggle as he tries to rape her)
ROBERTA: (hysterical) No!! Stop it! Stop it Donald! Get off me! Get off!!! (she flails her arms and legs and tries to push him off her.)
DONALD: Stop fighting me you bitch! ( he struggles) You said you wanted to please me, now do what I say!!!
ROBERTA: (still struggling, crying and screaming) No! Get away! Get off me! Please Donald please!! You’re hurting me. Stop it!!!! (he suddenly loses interest in her, snaps back into reality, and lets her get up)
DONALD: Ah, why waste my time with the likes of you. (she’s visibly shaken and crying. Disgustedly he says..) Go on, get up. You’re pathetic.
ROBERTA: (slowly gets up never taking her eyes off him, crying) I swear, I never thought I’d see the day when you’d be abusive to a woman.
DONALD: Ah. There’s another one for you! “WOMAN!” Just a minute… (he frantically looks for and picks up the dictionary again) Let’s see what Mr. Webster has to say about that one! (leafing through) Ah! Here we are….(he points and reads) Webster’s “WOMAN”. The female of the human race. (he eyes her & then goes back to the book) -An adult or grownup female, as distinguished from a man!!! (she grabs the book from his hand & slowly puts it down)
ROBERTA: (nervous & defensive) L…Look Donald, I…..uhh, I don’t understand what’s going on here, but… if you’re having problems at work honey, you know I’ll understand. Uhhh… I know…..let me get you a nice cup of herbal tea ok? It…it’ll calm your nerves. Y…y..you’ll feel better… ok honey?…. Donald?
DONALD: Be quiet!! (she’s frightened)
ROBERTA: You…you’ve just had a hard day, that’s all. It happens to everyone. I know you didn’t mean to scare me like that. I-I’ll just go and put the water on ok? I’ll be right back, I promise… and…. and then we’ll talk. O… Ok Donald? (she starts backing out of the room.)
DONALD: (despondent, he looks at her almost crying, then goes & tries to hold her close, but she is very cautious & stiff) Oh God I’m sorry Roberta. I’m so sorry. I don’t want to hurt you. I’d die before I’d ever hurt you. Please forgive me baby. (muttering to himself and shaking his head, despondent) I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry…..
ROBERTA: (confused and still shaken, slowly backing out of the room) Everything’s all right Sweetie. Everything’s fine. Really. You’re just tired and overworked, that’s all. It could happen to anyone. I’ll be right back with your tea ok? Y-You just sit back and relax ok? (trying to sound calm. He sits slowly) Just sit back and relax. (he doesn’t fight her. She slowly leaves the room, totally relieved to leave, and exits. He just sits there, takes out the letter again, reads it & puts in back in his pocket again, looking straight ahead at nothing, totally distraught)
LIGHTS FADE: END OF ACT ONE SCENE ONE
ACT ONE SCENE TWO
When the lights come up, Donald is still sitting on the couch in the same place, totally preoccupied & in a daze. It’s a few minutes later. He’s a tortured man. Roberta walks in wearing a zippered sweat shirt and matching sweat pants. She is covered from head to toe as to not appear sexy. She is carrying a cup of tea. She hands him the cup, trying to keep her distance.
ROBERTA: Here honey, have a sip. You’ll feel better.
DONALD: (he does what she says like a zombie, not looking at her) Why in heaven’s name do I have to love you so much?
ROBERTA: Why not? You said yourself it was as though I was created just for you. I believe that too. (nervously) Drink your tea, ok Sweetie? While it’s still nice and warm. (dazed, he does what she says)
DONALD: mmmmm. It’s good. Thank you baby. You’re so good to me. (slowly, he finally looks at her, realizing she’s changed her clothes) Why did you change your clothes?
ROBERTA: I….I just thought…um…..it was a little chilly in here so I thought, uh…I thought I’d just put on something a little cozier. No big deal.
DONALD: (not paying attention anymore) oh
ROBERTA: If you’d rather I change back, I could… (he interrupts angrily)
DONALD: Will you stop being so God damn accommodating? I almost raped you before.
ROBERTA: (very nervous but trying to calm him) Oh honey, you could never do that. Everything’s all right. Everything’s going to be just fine, you’ll see. I’m not angry with you.
DONALD: (frustrated) Why not damn it? I almost raped you! Don’t you get it?
ROBERTA: Yes! But you didn’t rape me! Now let’s just try and forget it ever happened all right? (nervously she takes a deep breath) Would you like me to put on some soft music? (she gets up and walks over to the tape player.)
DONALD: No. I can’t think. I have to think.
ROBERTA: ok… ok. y-you think now… ok honey? I’ll- I’ll just sit here quietly. (nervously, trying to be calm, she slowy sits down away from him on the chair) Feeling a little better now?
DONALD: (sad) No. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again.
ROBERTA: Why not? I told you I forgive you. What more can I say? No harm’s been done. I’m fine. It’s forgotten.
DONALD: (pissed off again, he gets up) You just don’t get it do you???
ROBERTA: (totally frustrated now) Well if you’d just tell me what it is you want me to get, maybe we could discuss it rationally like two adults.
DONALD: Ah you’re hopeless. How long did you think you could get away with it anyway? Five years, ten years…forever? (she’s startled)
ROBERTA: Sweetheart, listen to me. It’s getting late. You’re tired. I’m tired. Let’s just go to bed and forget tonight ever happened ok? Come. (she goes to him, & holds her hand out to pull him up, but he’s stronger. He pulls her to him and kisses her very roughly and then stops abruptly. She’s frightened & manages to pull away) Look Sweetheart, I uhhh…I think we both need to get some sleep. (she gets up) Let’s go to bed all right?
DONALD: (sarcastically mocking her) “Let’s go to bed all right?” With YOU??
ROBERTA: Of course with me. Who else?
DONALD: I’d have to have my fucking head examined!!
ROBERTA: (angry) All right! That’s it! If you’re not coming with me, I’m going up alone. The laundry can wait until tomorrow. I’m exhausted. First you want me, then you push me away. Which is it? (angry) What kind of sick game are you playing? Well I’m asking you politely to stop. Good night Donald. (she gets up to leave) I’m going upstairs!
DONALD: Wait a minute. (pulls out and unfolds an envelope from his pocket and waves it in front of her, taunting her) Explain THIS to me will you?
ROBERTA: What is that? (she tries to get it, but he pulls it away in time. She holds out her arm) Give it to me. Let me see what it is. It’s obviously upsetting you.
DONALD: How old are you Roberta?
ROBERTA: (confused & distracted by that envelope) You know how old I am. Why?
DONALD: Oh I don’t know. That biological clock of yours is ticking away isn’t it?
ROBERTA: We’ve discussed this before.
DONALD: Oh no we haven’t. All we’ve discussed is how we’ve been married for nine months, using no birth control, and you’re still not pregnant.
ROBERTA: (nervously) Well sometimes it takes more time. We just have to let nature take its course, that’s all. Now let me see that letter. (she holds out her hand)
DONALD: (ignoring her) Ah yes, nature… Well I think it’s about time we went for those tests.
ROBERTA: (nervously, & very defensive) Look. Lots of couples have trouble conceiving. It really hasn’t been that long you know. It’s perfectly normal.
DONALD: No…no it’s not… This isn’t normal. It’s not natural. We both don’t smoke or do drugs, we’re young, we’re healthy, and we both want children. Look, we discussed this before we got married. I come from a family of four kids and I want children. I’m 35, and I want to be young enough to enjoy my kids. Now how much longer do you want me to wait? (he eyes her very carefully)
ROBERTA: As long as it takes. (she goes to pour a stiff drink & takes a large sip, & puts down the glass) There’s no need for tests. Maybe if we relaxed more, we’d have better luck.
DONALD: (sarcastic) Oh you think so? You think it’ll happen if we just keep doing what comes “naturally”?
ROBERTA: Of course. Besides, it’s a whole lot of fun trying isn’t it? And if worse comes to worse, we can always adopt.
DONALD: Oh that’s new. You’ve never been willing to talk about adoption before.
ROBERTA: Well I see how much this means to you and I want to make you happy.
DONALD: It would make me happy. But if there’s a chance of having my own kid, I’d rather take that road first…. (eyeing her, he abruptly says..) I’ve scheduled an appointment for us at a fertility clinic first thing tomorrow morning. (watching her reaction)
ROBERTA: (crazed) You what? And behind my back? Don’t I have a say in this? Well I won’t go Donald I won’t! The answer is no!!!
DONALD: Why? What are you afraid of? It won’t hurt. Then we’ll know for sure what the problem is, and we can try to fix it. You do want children don’t you?
ROBERTA: Of course I do. You know that. Lots of them. But if it’s not meant to be, the natural way, it’s not meant to be. (he looks at the envelope) Damn it Donald, give me that bloody letter! Who’s it from? What the hell does it say?
DONALD: (he puts it in his pocket) How did your parents die? You never told me. Was it an accident? An illness? Old age? It’s really too bad they’re dead. Maybe they could have shed some light on our little problem here. I don’t know… maybe you had some early childhood disease that made you unable to have children.
ROBERTA: How dare you assume it’s me!
DONALD: What’s the real story huh?
ROBERTA: (trying to outsmart him) Oh what? You think I had a botched up abortion or something and I was left sterile? Well it never happened. Never. You were my first sexual partner. I told you that when we first met two years ago. I thought you believed me.
DONALD: Oh but I do believe you. Especially now.
ROBERTA: (confused & frustrated) Then how could you say those things to me? (tortured) You know how sensitive I am. Why are you torturing me? Where’s that letter Donald? Let me see it. Is it from another one of your sisters saying she’s pregnant again? Why can’t you just be happy for her and let it go? Damn it Donald, why won’t you let me see it?
DONALD: Aren’t you the least bit upset about the situation?
ROBERTA: (distracted, looking at his pocket for the envelope) Yes of course I am! What do you think? But I’m not going to carry on about it. When the time is right, the problem will take care of itself. (takes a breath) Look, let’s go to bed ok? It’s getting late. Nothing else is going to be accomplished here tonight. We’re both too tired. I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. (trying to change her mood) Come on honey, what do you say? (He pulls out the letter again, & lets her grab it, she reads the envelope, & he watches her reaction. She pales and almost faints as she backs up into the couch to sit… in total shock)
DONALD: (sarcastically) Can I get you a cold cloth dear? (he grabs the letter back)
ROBERTA: (panicking) Where did you get that? And why did you open it? It’s not addressed to you!
DONALD: Well it’s not exactly addressed to you either is it? The name on the envelope says (clearly spoken) “MISTER?”… “ROBERT?” Aynsley?. I believe your name is “MRS” Roberta Aynsley Townsend?
ROBERTA: Give it to me. There must be some mistake.
DONALD: (controlled anger but firm) Oh, there’s a mistake all right. A huge one! (he waves the letter around) And you have a lot of explaining to do!
ROBERTA: (getting up) Give it to me! (tries to grab it) It doesn’t belong to you.
DONALD: (looking at address on envelope & very controlled) Didn’t you say you grew up in Baltimore?
ROBERTA: Ya so what? So I grew up in Baltimore. What’s the big deal?
DONALD: Well, in all the time we’ve been married, you never once got any mail from Baltimore. (she starts to get nervous & agitated)
ROBERTA: So what? People get mail from all over the place. It’s probably junk mail. Everyone gets junk mail. You don’t have to make a federal case out of it. Who cares anyway? Let me have that letter Donald.
DONALD: (reading the envelope, enunciating clearly & slowly) MISTER.? “ROBERT”??
ROBERTA: It….It’s a typo, that’s all. I get that all the time don’t you? (very nervous) We’re all just fighting some master computer somewhere. It doesn’t know if it has the right name and spelling. There. Mystery solved. Now give me the letter!
DONALD: (he opens the letter and starts to read it. She’s still trying to get the letter back, but he is taller and faster.) “Dear Robert,…
ROBERTA: (pleading) Please Donald, if you ever loved me, you’ll give me the letter and not ask any questions. Please, I’m begging you. (she starts to cry and holds out her hand)
DONALD: If you ever loved me, none of this would ever have happened!!! (he starts to read)… “Dear Robert,… I can’t believe I finally found you after all these years. I’m sorry we parted on such bad terms. I’m sure you want nothing to do with us after all the hateful things your father and I said to you, but we’ve had a lot of time to come to terms with your decision to (looks at her with disgust) “CHANGE… SEXES”! Robert, your father isn’t well. The doctors don’t know how much time he has left. He’s in fine spirits though, and believes he’ll get well. We’ve missed you terribly Robert, and……. (Roberta interrupts him)
ROBERTA: (pleading with him) Please don’t go on. Please. Let me have the letter.
DONALD: (ignoring her he keeps reading the letter) “You’re probably wondering how I found you. I must confess, I got in touch with that (gives her a dirty look) gender clinic you went to in Holland. I explained that your father was gravely ill and we wanted to see you before it was too late. Doctor Ver Meer agreed that under the circumstances, he could reveal your whereabouts. I’m sorry, but I forgot to ask him what name you’re using now, so please forgive me for using your given name.”… (Donald looks at her).. Oh, and this is my favourite part:- “I didn’t know how else to address my letter, Robert, (Donald’s a little amused at this next statement) “I hope I didn’t cause any problems for you!”…..(sneering at her)… “We need you now, and beg your forgiveness. As ever, Your Mom.” (dead silence. Roberta is sobbing quietly, Donald is glaring at her with controlled anger) Let’s see…. (he looks at the post mark) this letter was dated…. four days ago. (sarcatic) Did your mother come back from the dead? Oh, and was your father resurrected? How do you explain all this Roberta?… or is it Robert? And no more lies, you got that? (very firm) I won’t have it!!! (he crumples letter & throws it down, she picks it up sadly)
ROBERTA: (wailing to herself) My God, why has this happened? What did I do to deserve this?
DONALD: You’re pathetic. You sicken me. All the lies. How could you live with yourself? Huh? No conscience? Shit, you’re good. You never let on for a minute. What…. were you laughing at me the whole time? (she looks away) Look at me. Were you? Did you get a sick satisfaction out of it? At how gullible I was? How you wove me into your web of deceit? My God, you’re a freak! And you drew me into your perverted world! Shit you make me sick!
ROBERTA: (pleading) Donald please…
DONALD: Damn it I should have known! How could I not have known!!
ROBERTA: Please Donald, let me exp….(he interrupts)
DONALD: Shut up damn you! Shut the hell up!!! How could you challenge my masculinity like that? Huh? How damn it? Why? Who the hell are you anyway? I don’t even know you anymore!
ROBERTA: (pleading) Yes you do. I’m the same person I was yesterday, or last week, or the day I met you. Nothing’s changed. (he looks away sickened) Look at me. Look at me damn it! Aren’t I real? Aren’t you satisfied in bed?
DONALD: Shut up, you hear me??? Shut the fuck up!!!!!
ROBERTA: Have you ever complained to me once about our sex life?
DONALD: I said shut up!!
ROBERTA: All those compliments….my soulful eyes, my luscious lips, my soft hair (he interrupts angrily)
DONALD: I swear to God you better shut up or I’ll fuc’… (she interrupts, pleading, crying)
ROBERTA: You know how you love to hold me. Isn’t that real? Aren’t I real?
DONALD: (totally hysterical, ignoring her he runs to get the dictionary again & waves it in front of her pointing & finds the page again fast) “WOMAN”! A grownup female, as distinguished from a man!!! Remember?? (he throws book down) HA! What a fucking joke! Hey Robert…. (he roughly grabs her chin with 2 fingers, she pulls back, & he gets more upset) how do you explain that smooth skin? Huh? And those tits? What the fuck is that? Silicone? Christ you’re disgusting! You fucking nauseate me. (very angry) How the hell could you do this to me? How damn it?? Why?? (angrier) My life has no God damn meaning anymore!! You freak!! You think you’re going to make a fool out of me? Huh? (louder he repeats himself & goes to the drawer to pull out his gun) Do you? You think you’re going to make a fool out of ME? (his back is to her)
ROBERTA: (very scared, she follows him) Listen to me. You don’t understand. (he turns around)
DONALD: (enraged, walking back towards her with the gun pointed, she’s scared for her life) Oh ya I understand all right. (he goes right up to her face & points the gun right at her. She’s very frightened and starts backing up) I understand perfectly!
ROBERTA: Oh my God Donald, what are you doing?
DONALD: (he is in her face with the gun & she is backing up away from him) You said we’d love each other until death do us part. Right? (still backing up)
ROBERTA: (hysterical) And we will.
DONALD: You said you couldn’t live without me. Right?
ROBERTA: And I couldn’t!! I’d be lost without you! You said you couldn’t go on without me either.
DONALD: (he pushes her towards the chair, pointing the gun to her head, out of his mind) I know. That’s why I have to do what I have to do!! (he takes aim)
ROBERTA: (panic stricken, pleading, screaming) No!!! I’m begging you, no! Please Donald! I swear I’ll tell you everything! Don’t do something you’ll regret!
DONALD: (enraged & ready to pull the trigger) HA! I won’t regret anything, because after I kill you, I’m going to kill myself!!
ROBERTA: (crying, hysterically pleading for her life) No!!! I’m begging you! Don’t do it! Please! I swear I’ll tell you everything. Please Donald, let me explain! Please!! I’m begging you!!!
DONALD: Shut up you hear me?? Shut the hell up!!! I have to do this!! (pushes her down forcefully on the chair) Now sit the fuck down!!! (He’s hysterical & shaking & aiming the gun in her head)
ROBERTA: NO!!!!! Donald please put the gun down!! Please!!! I’m begging you!!!! Donald!!!!!!!! (she’s hysterical, he shakily points the gun right at her head, aims, & as he’s just about pulls the trigger he wails loudly) “Aghhhhhh!!!!!!” (he finally decides to lower the gun. He walks away from her in anguish, breathing heavily, still holding the gun. She’s relieved it’s not aimed at her head)
DONALD: Ok talk. (pause) (he waves the gun around) Talk damn you! You said you wanted to talk, so talk!!!!
ROBERTA: OK!! OK!! Um… (sniffing, wiping tears, she tries to compose herself)
DONALD: I said… talk damn it!!! (pointing the gun at her again)
ROBERTA: (pleading hysterically again) Donald, please, I can’t talk with you pointing that gun!! (he slowly lowers it)
DONALD: All right it’s down…Now go on. Talk!! NOWWWWW!!!!
ROBERTA: (she wipes her eyes) ok ok… I….uh……. (he raises the gun towards her head again)
DONALD: Say something damn it or I swear I’ll…..(she interrupts)
ROBERTA: All right!! All right! ok!!! (tries to compose herself, wringing her hands. He keeps the gun down) I uhh…..(sniffs, & takes a deep breath) I was born… Robert Aynsley… the only child of… Margaret and Herbert Aynsley of Baltimore. I uh…I was a very pretty baby. Everyone said so. People on the street always thought I was a girl. I….uh…. I was a very effeminate little boy. (he’s listening intently) I don’t know why… I just ….(she’s thinking)
DONALD: Go on go on, get on with it damn it!!!
ROBERTA: All right, ok ok….ummm, I….uh…I was very small for my age. All the boys made fun of me as far back as I can remember. They always called me, “sissy boy”. They were very hurtful. I uh….I never liked sports or playing with trucks… and I hated getting all dirty in the sandbox with the other kids….. I…I much preferred dolls.
DONALD: Dolls? Where does a boy get dolls?
ROBERTA: Well um… you see…um…my mother had this beautiful doll collection, with dolls from all over the world. Some of them had these gorgeous satin gowns and velvet dresses. (thinking back fondly) I remember my favourite one had tiny pearls in her hair and little gold embroidered slippers on her feet. (pause)
DONALD: Ya ya ya…So what did you do with the dolls?
ROBERTA: (nervously wringing her hands) Well I uh… I used to sneak into my mother’s bedroom when she wasn’t there…. and I would play with the dolls. I’d stroke their long wavy hair and straighten out their little outfits and…. and pretend I was their mother.
DONALD: (turned off) Their mother?
ROBERTA: Yes. Then I’d put them back on the shelf in exactly the same place I found them, so my mother wouldn’t find out. (shaking his head, not quite understanding) Other times I’d try on her jewelry she left on the dresser, and I’d feel the silky fabric of her lingerie, and I’d imagine myself wearing them. (looking up at him) I didn’t know it was wrong….. It didn’t feel wrong to me?… but somehow I knew I had to hide. Donald, I was just a kid. How could I possibly understand any of this?
DONALD: (listening but uncomfortable) I don’t know… go on.
ROBERTA: Well um… when I hit puberty, my voice never really changed all that much like the other boys, so they teased me even more. It was horrible. And I only had a bit of peach fuzz on my face, so I never really needed to shave either. You can understand all that can’t you? I couldn’t control genetics.
DONALD: Genetics? You had a dick didn’t you?
ROBERTA: (startled a bit by his crudeness) Yes! But I was always embarrassed by it. It..it never felt right to me. It was like…. my body had betrayed me. I don’t know how else to explain it. Can you understand that?
DONALD: Never mind what I understand. This isn’t about me. What about your breasts? (sarcastically) I suppose those just grew because your body betrayed you?
ROBERTA: Don’t be like that. And yes, with the hormones I was taking, they did grow a bit, but I eventually chose to have implants to make them appear a little more full. You know they look and feel natural. I never once heard you complain. All those nights of … (he interrupts picking up the gun again.)
DONALD: Shut up you hear me? Shut the hell up!!! Now finish your God damn story or I swear I’ll blow us both away and none of this crap will ever matter!!
ROBERTA: Ok ok!!! (she takes a deep breath and then thinks back) Well um…. when I was about 18, I took a girl out on a date for the first time. It was horrible, but I felt pressured to do it. The evening didn’t go well at all. In fact she never spoke to me again. But I felt nothing. Nothing at all. I really can’t explain it, … it just… felt wrong to me.
DONALD: So you’re gay right?
ROBERTA: No of course not! I’m definitely not gay.
DONALD: Well, you’ve been having sex with me for the past year. What the hell do you call it? The last time I checked, I was a man!
ROBERTA: Are you making love every night to a man? No, of course you’re not. (He doesn’t answer & looks away. She looks at him) Well??? Are you?
DONALD: I don’t know!
ROBERTA: You don’t know? I don’t have a penis do I? (he cringes) Do I?
ROBERTA: Then how could I be gay?
DONALD: You tell me. Shit it all makes sense now. Everyone in the fashion industry is gay.
ROBERTA: That’s not true and you know it!!! Listen to me. I am NOT GAY. You missed the point. I entered the world of fashion because I love beautiful clothes, as a woman does. Can you understand that? (short pause)
DONALD: Tell me something… You ever…do it with a girl?
ROBERTA: (nods) I um….I had my first and only sexual encounter with a female when I was 19. Again, I felt pressured by my family to be a ‘quote unquote’ “normal” guy. It was a complete disaster. I was never physically attracted to women. I couldn’t even maintain an erection and I….(he interrupts)
DONALD: Hey hey, they have drugs for that now.
ROBERTA: Stop it Donald. That wasn’t it at all, and you’re smart enough to know that. You have to understand how difficult life was for me.
DONALD: Ya right. So what happened when you couldn’t get it up?
ROBERTA: (embarrassed, & breathes deeply) Well, I uh….
DONALD: Go on, go on.. I said go on!!!
ROBERTA: Well I wasn’t really surprised by that because I never really could. It always felt wrong to me as far back as I can remember. It felt…. nasty and dirty. I remember I cried myself to sleep that night repeating over and over again, “I’m a freak, I’m a freak”. I was so confused, and I had no one to talk to. Besides, how could anyone else understand me, if I didn’t understand myself? Can you see how tortured I was?
DONALD: Whatever. Then what happened?
ROBERTA: Well, first she started crying, then I started crying. (remembering with a sigh & shaking her head) It was a total mess. So I just ended up taking her home and apologizing over and over again, telling her it wasn’t her fault. (she goes over and tries to touch his cheek with the back of her hand) Oh honey, I’m so sor’…. (he interrupts, pushing her away)
DONALD: Get away from me!
ROBERTA: Look, I don’t blame you one bit for hating me. I hate myself too. God, I haven’t felt this lousy about myself in years. I thought my life was finally where it was supposed to be. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin. A new city, new friends, the love of my life by my side, and the most important thing? Respect…. for the first time in my life! Shit, how could I have been so stupid? (dejected) I should have realized I would always be that pathetic boy from Baltimore. I should have known my past would catch up with me sooner or later. I’m such an idiot.
DONALD: (toying nervously with the gun) Never mind all that shit, just get on with the story.
ROBERTA: OK…Um…. Well, I was working at a trendy restaurant at that time, and I was making great tips. I was still living at home back then.
DONALD: With your ‘deceased’ parents?
ROBERTA: Ok! So they’re not dead!!! (shaking her head, she mutters under her breath “shit”) ……. Anyway, while I was living at home, I was able to save most of my earnings. And it was at that same time I began going to the library and researching what I was going through.
DONALD: What do you mean “going through”?
ROBERTA: You know, like homosexuality for instance.
DONALD: I thought you said you weren’t gay!!
ROBERTA: I’m not!! That didn’t apply to me at all. And I wasn’t a transvestite either, because I didn’t enjoy dressing up in women’s clothes and having sex with men as a man… It wasn’t like that at all. Don’t you see?
DONALD: So you weren’t gay and you weren’t a transvestite, then what the hell were you?
ROBERTA: Well I kept on reading and searching.
ROBERTA: I wanted so desperately to fall in love, and completely envelop a man… but as a woman, not as a man. Can you understand that?
DONALD: I’m asking the questions here, not you. Keep talking!
ROBERTA: Thank you Donald, thank you for letting me explain. I know you don’t have to. You could have just thrown me out. It’s what I deserve.
DONALD: (irritated) Ya I’ll let you explain… but you should have been honest with me from the start Roberta. Right from the start, you got that? (he sees her relax for a minute & points the gun in her direction, just waving it around) And I haven’t decided what I’ll do about this yet, so don’t think I’ve changed my mind about blowing your brains out, cuz I haven’t!
ROBERTA: All right fine! But the fact that you’re giving me the chance to explain, means a lot to me. And whatever you decide to do, well…. just go ahead and do it and get it over with. I don’t want to live without you in my life anyway, so you’d actually be doing me a favour.
DONALD: (fidgeting with the gun) Stop it! You’re confusing me! And don’t try to trick me ok? It won’t work. You got that? It won’t work!!!
ROBERTA: (relieved it’s out in the open) I’m beyond trying to trick anyone at this point. Everything’s out in the open now. I can’t hide anymore. (sits down)
DONALD: OK, so you weren’t gay, and you weren’t a transvestite…
ROBERTA: Right, and I certainly wasn’t a man with normal “male urges”, so I went deeper into my research until one day I came across the term. “Transsexual”, which seemed on all accounts to apply to me. I was so excited to see myself in print. Now I could actually put a name to what I’d been experiencing my whole life. You don’t know how relieved I was to see that I wasn’t alone- that I wasn’t some degenerative freak of nature. Finally, I didn’t have to be ashamed anymore. So I kept on reading and reading. I read as many books as I could find on the subject. It was as if my whole world lit up. Like… like somehow it all made sense now, and I could finally find the courage to go on.
DONALD: What do you mean, “go on”. What’s that supposed to mean?
ROBERTA: God Donald, there were so many times I considered suicide. I’d actually gone as far as buying sleeping pills. (remembering as if in a daze) One hundred little white tablets in a green plastic vial. I used to keep them in my night table drawer, and when I’d go to bed at night… I’d take them out, and stare at them for hours…..contemplating… Should I?… Shouldn’t I? Then one day I found a list of clinics that did sex change operations…and I decided right then and there to go to Holland.
DONALD: Holland… (still listening intently, he puts the gun down)
ROBERTA: Would you like me to stop for a while? I know how hard this must be for you.
DONALD: (more understanding) No, I realize this is tough for you too, but I need to know everything. Tell me about the operation.
ROBERTA: ok. Well,….. Um…the operation cost thousands of dollars, but before any doctor would consider doing it, I had to go through years of extensive psychotherapy. You know…to make sure I was doing the right thing, because… once it’s done, it’s more or less irreversible. But for me, the whole idea seemed perfect. There was no point in going on the way I was. Like I said, I was at the point of suicide. Life was meaningless for me.
DONALD: (more upset) So you just flew over to Europe or Holland or whatever, paid the big bucks, and had your parts whacked off? Is that it?
ROBERTA: God Donald, you don’t have to be crude like that. It isn’t necessary. It was a very serious decision.
DONALD: Ya I’ll say.
ROBERTA: It’s a long slow process of therapy and hormone shots leading up to the operation. And I had to prove to all the doctors that being male caused me mental anguish. But in the end, they unanimously agreed to go ahead with the surgery. They thought I was the perfect candidate, because… psychologically, I had always been a female. Plus, I had never been sexually active. (relieved & thinking back) Thank God for modern science.
DONALD: How long were you over there?
ROBERTA: The whole process took about three years.
DONALD: What were you doing that whole time?
ROBERTA: Well, during that period, it was very important for me to be living as a woman for two years, prior to the actual surgery… you know, to see if I could handle living as another sex… like…. if it felt right, or if I thought I was making a mistake. It’s called a transition period. Anyway, I found a job at a popular Unisex Clothing boutique. That’s where I learned all about the fashion business. At first I did some buying and selling, and then I got into alterations, and then I began designing a few pieces for the boutique. I was very well respected there…. and…I was viewed as a woman.
DONALD: Never mind that. Tell me more about this… transition period.
ROBERTA: All right. Well… those thoughts of suicide I had for so long, seemed to vanish overnight. Everything was finally fitting into place beautifully. I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing for myself. There wasn’t a single doubt in my mind. Not ever.
DONALD: Go on…
ROBERTA: Well….while I was undergoing the hormone treatments, my body hair gradually lessened, but I chose to have electrolysis to permanently take care of it. That took about a year to be successful. Do you want me to go on?
DONALD: Ya I have to make sense out of all this. My life has been a lie these last few years.
ROBERTA: No it hasn’t Donald. My love for you isn’t a lie. It never was. I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you.
DONALD: I don’t want to hear that. You’re getting off the subject now.
ROBERTA: You’re right, I’m sorry. Umm… (hesitating)
DONALD: Quit stalling. You know what I want to hear.
ROBERTA: Ok, but this isn’t easy for me you know. It’s very painful.
DONALD: (angry) You better get on with it Roberta. I’m really tired and I’m starting to lose patience here!!
ROBERTA: All right, I’m doing the best I can damn it. (takes a deep breath & thinks back) Ummm….any erections I might have had, diminished too, which suited me fine. My muscle strength weakened, and… I began to develop hips and small breasts. My voice didn’t really change all that much, but it was always a little high anyway, especially for a guy. (Donald is uncomfortable) I uh… eventually had the implants, and around the third year I had my surgery.
DONALD: God that must have been painful.
ROBERTA: Ya it was. Like any other major surgery I guess. But it was so worth it. My prayers had finally been answered. You see, my mind had always told me I was female, but my body said otherwise. I felt cheated. I could never identify with being male. Never. I needed to live my life honestly, and I thank God every day for making me whole. You know… when I was young, I used to pray to God every night that I would wake up as a girl. I always felt like a fraud. So… when I grew up, I couldn’t compromise my beliefs anymore. I refused to live my life shrouded in shame and secrecy. I just couldn’t do it anymore. It wasn’t worth it. You see I knew I wanted to get married one day, but I wasn’t going to marry a woman just because society expected me to. My decision to become a woman wasn’t a choice Donald, it was a necessity. Don’t you see? My suffering is finally over. I feel normal now…it’s amazing. (very profoundly) And after an entire lifetime, I’ve finally come to realize that I’m a good person, and I deserve to be happy!
DONALD: But….what if you changed your mind in the middle of all this? What would have happened?
ROBERTA: Well the hormone treatment is reversible during the first two years of therapy, so if I felt I couldn’t go through with it, there was really no harm done. But for me? There was never a moment’s doubt. Not once. Not ever.
DONALD: (a little agitated again) How could I have been so fooled by you? I should have been able to tell you weren’t a woman.
ROBERTA: But I am a woman Donald, in almost every way. And doctors nowadays can do such great work, it’s impossible to tell just by looking at me. I could have had sexual relations as soon as three months after the surgery, but I never did Donald, not until I met you, years later.
DONALD: Oh, lucky me. I’m so glad I was able to help you in your twisted little experiment.
ROBERTA: My God, I can appreciate how hurt you must be. I really can, but you have to believe everything I’m telling you. I have no reason to lie anymore. I don’t blame you for reacting the same way my parents did when I told them I wanted to change sexes. They didn’t want anything to do with me ever again either. Never mind how I felt! Somehow I had shamed them! They were horrified. They just couldn’t bring themselves to see how unhappy I’d been my whole life. They couldn’t even look at me. That’s why I left Baltimore. I decided to move to New York….to a big city. I wanted to start over in a brand new place and meet new people, and live my life in my new body. I owed it to myself. No explanations, no excuses, no apologies. (self assured & proud) I changed my name from Robert to Roberta and I never looked back! (thinking back) Shit! All my parents cared about was what their precious friends would say.
DONALD: Well I can understand that.
ROBERTA: Well screw their friends! I needed their love and support and they weren’t there for me! Nobody was…. not until I met you darling.
DONALD: Don’t “Darling” me! I’m still trying to take this all in. You think I’m having an easy time of it? Huh? In my thirty-five years of life on this earth, I never could have imagined myself in a situation like this. Hell, I’m just a simple guy. I own my own home, I pay my taxes, and worked my way up in the police force to detective. I worked so damn hard. I go out there and deal with people every day, trying to make the streets a safer place to live. And I think that over the years, I’ve learned a lot about compassion, from witnessing so much pain and sorrow and dirt out there, and I really do believe it’s made me a better person. But it never ever prepared me for anything like this! This is something new to me all right. Hell I don’t even know how to react, or what I’m supposed to feel.
ROBERTA: Believe me, I know what a shock this must be for you.
DONALD: Oh no you don’t. You have no idea what I’m going through. How could you? Wait a minute. Let me ask you something. (he squirms)
ROBERTA: Sure anything.
DONALD: How could you have felt pleasure, or were you just faking all this time? Shit!! I should have known! What an idiot I was not to know that every time you moaned and groaned and rolled around in bed you were just putting on a show for my benefit. You were just laughing at me behind my back the whole fucking time, weren’t you? (louder) Huh? Weren’t you?
ROBERTA: No I wasn’t. Never. Not once.
DONALD: You should have been an actor, you know that? You deserve a fucking academy award for all your great performances. (remembering sex with her) Pleasure! Ha! That’s a good one…What a joke!
ROBERTA: I’m sorry you feel that way. But you have to know I can feel pleasure. I was very lucky Donald. Everything worked out incredibly well for me. And…if I’m being totally honest with you, I want to tell you everything.
DONALD: Oh, so you want to tell me how you pretended to enjoy sex with your naive husband? (thinking) Wait a minute. Husband? What a laugh! We’re nothing but a couple of freaks!! Go on, tell me how I pleasure you. This I want to hear.
ROBERTA: All right but this is really hard for me to talk about.. (takes a deep breath) You see Donald…. the lining of my new vagina……
DONALD: (moans) Oh shit!!! (not really wanting to hear, but knowing he must)
ROBERTA: (embarrassed but gaining strength) ..the lining of my new vagina was grafted with skin from my penis and scrotum. (he’s having a hard time listening to this) It’s very sensitive, and I am able to experience pleasure very much like a woman does.
DONALD: Ya right.
ROBERTA: It’s true! I do feel your touch. I do feel you inside me. And I’ve never faked anything with you, I’ve never had to. You’ve fulfilled me in every way possible, the way a man does a woman. Honey, I’ve always felt that we shared one life…one body… and one soul. I still do. You have to believe me. (sadly pauses) Do you hate me Donald? (he can’t look at her) Honey look at me. I have to know. ( he slowly looks at her) Do you hate me now?
DONALD: Yes….. I mean…… no….. I mean, I don’t know!! I can’t think straight! You have me so confused I can hardly stand it. Our whole marriage is a sham. Hell it’s probably not even legal.
ROBERTA: No no you’re wrong. It’s perfectly legal. As legal as your parents or mine. I’m a woman Donald. Legally. Now and forever. Nothing can change that. I’ll prove it to you.
DONALD: Oh ya? How?
ROBERTA: (pointing) I have all my legal papers in an envelope in the desk drawer. Thank God the state of Maryland is so liberal. It helped transform my life.
DONALD: What do you mean?
ROBERTA: Well… my team of doctors and this wonderful lawyer in Baltimore certified that my sex change was legal and authentic, and all my documents were able to be re-issued in the new sex, even my birth certificate. And a court also certified that I could legally marry some day.
DONALD: (sarcastic) Really.
ROBERTA: Yes. It’s all legal I swear. Sure it took a while to sort everything out, but I’d waited that long for a sex change, I could certainly wait a little longer for all my papers to be in order.
DONALD: Where did you live in the meantime? How did you support yourself?
ROBERTA: Well I couldn’t go home and live with my parents, that’s for sure, so I took an apartment near the Gender Clinic in Baltimore because I still needed some follow-up appointments after I got back to the States. My hormone treatments had to be regulated.
DONALD: You’re still on hormones?
ROBERTA: Yes, I take pills twice a week.
DONALD: What an idiot I am. I never even saw them.
ROBERTA: I never tried to hide them from you Donald. I keep them in my pill box in my night table drawer.
DONALD: (snickers) And I call myself a detective. What a joke.
ROBERTA: Well you weren’t investigating me Donald. You’re my husband.
DONALD: Ya right. That makes it all better then doesn’t it? Shit.
ROBERTA: Anyway, I found a job as a fashion consultant for a local TV show down there, and after all the legal stuff was settled, I moved here to New York and opened my Consulting Firm. And then I met you.
DONALD: Oh lucky me….
ROBERTA: No, lucky me. I’ll never regret the day I met you. Do you remember?
DONALD: Yes of course I remember…… Delvecchio’s on 42nd Street. I remember like it was yesterday. (thinking back to good times) God you were so beautiful sitting there. I knew I had to go over to your table and talk to you. I couldn’t just let you walk out of my life and never see you again.
ROBERTA: I’m so glad you did. I can’t imagine my life without you.
DONALD: What about children Roberta? How long did you think you could get away with that?
ROBERTA: I would have eventually told you I couldn’t have children, and that we should adopt. But for now, I really do love our life together just the two of us. We’re still newlyweds Donald, and I wanted to enjoy this time alone with you before the subject of adoption came up. But I do definitely want children. I always did. I want to cuddle and nurture a child as a mother would, like my mother did. She was a good mother you know. She didn’t do anything wrong. My parents weren’t the cause of my situation. I hope they never felt guilty about that.
DONALD: You’re getting off the subject again. We were discussing children.
ROBERTA: Yes of course, I’m sorry. I always knew I would have children some day. All my dreams were finally coming true one by one, and raising children with you was definitely at the top of my list. You’re going to be a fantastic father Donald. That’s one of the reasons I married you. You have such wonderful qualities to pass down to your children. Any child would be lucky to have you as their father. (sadly says) You never really made that appointment with the fertility clinic did you?
ROBERTA: You just wanted to see my reaction.
DONALD: Well do you blame me? I wanted to see if you would finally come clean on your own, but I had to pry it out of you.
ROBERTA: But I never think of myself as a man anymore. I haven’t in years. That part of me is dead and gone. I never tried to fool you Donald. Never. You have to believe me. In my heart of hearts I’ve always been a female. Always. Can’t you see that?
DONALD: I don’t know who you are anymore.
ROBERTA: Yes you do. Donald please….I’m the same Roberta you met and fell in love with two years ago. Nothing’s changed. I’m still the same woman you married. (he shakes his head) Yes Donald… the same woman… Look at me. What do you see? I’m the same woman who loves you. The same woman who wakes up in your arms every morning.
DONALD: (confused) No you’re not.
ROBERTA: (desperate) Yes I am! Honey listen, I’ve been living my life as a woman for eight years now. And no one I’ve met in all that time has ever questioned my sexuality. Not once. Honest. Listen Donald, I know we can go back to the way it was between us. I know it in my heart. It may take a while, but in time, I just know you’ll get that feeling back again. Will you give me a second chance? Please?
DONALD: (pause) I don’t think I can.
ROBERTA: Oh my God….Look honey, (she touches him) we’ll take it one day at a time ok? No pressure I swear. Please let me make it up to you. We’ll start over with no more secrets- just the truth, like you said before. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back your trust. Please give me that chance.
DONALD: (thinking) I don’t know if I can.
ROBERTA: (staring into space almost snickering) You know, in a bizarre way, it’s really kind of funny.
DONALD: Funny? How the hell can you find any of this funny?
ROBERTA: (looking at him lovingly but sadly) Because I honestly never even realized I was deceiving you….and look how much damage I’ve done. Look how much I’ve hurt you. The only person in the entire world I truly love. Can you ever find it in your heart to forgive me? ( he’s listened & is digesting all she said, but hasn’t made a decision)
DONALD: I feel dead inside Roberta. You’ve killed me. (picks up the gun again slowly and looks at it.)
ROBERTA: No don’t say that. Please. Don’t even think it. (she slowly takes the gun & carefully puts it down. She slowly touches his face, he doesn’t push her away. She looks into his eyes with tears in her eyes) Please love me? (desperate) I need you so much. (pleading) Please love me again.
DONALD: (he looks at her longingly shaking his head sadly) I don’t think I can. I just…..don’t know.
ROBERTA: Then promise me you’ll think about it. Talk to someone, a psychologist, a doctor, anybody. Sort it all out in your mind. You’ll understand, I know you will. You’re a smart and decent man. Please don’t give up on us. We were so happy. We can be again, I just know it.
DONALD: (deep in thought, slowly shaking his head) I don’t know Roberta.
ROBERTA: (more calmly) Look. I’m going to go back to Baltimore for a while to be with my father. My parents seem to be reaching out to me now, and I need them too. I’m willing to forgive them. Can’t you forgive me?
DONALD: It took them how many years to forgive you?
ROBERTA: (she slowly gets up) I’ll wait for you forever if that’s what it takes. There’s never been anyone else for me and there never will be.
DONALD: I don’t know Roberta.
ROBERTA: Can you honestly look me straight in the eye and say you don’t love me anymore, that there’s no hope for any kind of future for us? (he looks heartbroken) Tell me you don’t want me anymore, that you want me out of your life forever and I swear, I’ll go away and you’ll never see me again. (she looks searchingly into his eyes) Just say something….. anything…. Tell me you hate me. Tell me it’s over. Just say something.
DONALD: (tormented) I can’t tell you I don’t love you or desire you anymore, because that would be a lie. (he looks at her body) I do love you. God help me I love you. I love your soul and I love your spirit. I feel connected to you in a way I can’t even explain to myself. No other woman has ever brought out those feelings in me.
ROBERTA: (a little brighter) Well, that’s a start isn’t it?
DONALD: (looks at her lovingly but in agony) God you’re so beautiful Roberta, but I just can’t……(she interrupts)
ROBERTA: (she puts her finger to his lips) sshhhh.. Don’t say any more tonight. Think about everything I’ve said. Take as much time as you need. But honey, we can’t overlook the love we’ve felt for each other these past two years.
DONALD: Everything you say is true, but I just can’t…..
ROBERTA: Sshhh. You sleep on it all right? I’ll probably be gone before you wake up anyway. I’m going to catch the first flight out to Baltimore tomorrow, and I don’t know when I’ll be back. I’ll stay with my Dad until the end, and then I’ll make sure my Mom’s all right. You’ll have plenty of time to think and make a decision about us. I’ll leave you the number where I can be reached ok? And if I don’t hear from you, I’ll understand. I’ll respect your decision Donald, whatever it is. I promise. (she starts to leave the room) I’m going upstairs to pack now. I’ll leave you to your thoughts. (she goes & tenderly touches his cheek. He doesn’t fight her) I’m so sorry I put you through all this…..so very sorry. I never ever meant to hurt you. (she starts to leave) I’ll sleep in the spare room tonight. Sweet dreams my darling. (she looks at him one last time & exits. He watches her go with no expression on his face, tormented. He slowly goes & gets the gun & the picture of the 2 of them on the desk, returning to the sofa. He sits in silence looking longingly at the picture of Roberta, then looks at the gun intently, tortured, & slowly brings it up to his head, shaking, as he’s about to kill himself. Finally he lowers it, looking at the gun. He slowly gets up, gun dangling at his side, picture under his arm, getting the decanter of scotch as he slowly exits, deep in thought still uncertain as to what he will do )
THE LIGHTS DIM END OF ACT ONE SCENE TWO
ACT ONE SCENE THREE
As the lights come up, it is the next morning. The scene takes place in the same living room. Roberta, wearing a tailored suit, and hair pulled back, walks into the room to get some last minute things in the drawer. She is holding two suitcases in her hand and is carrying a shoulder bag. She puts the bags down to put the legal papers from the drawer into her purse. She pauses to look around the room one last time and arranges things in her purse. In walks Donald with a small overnight bag and puts it down near the bar. He is wearing a jacket & pants. She’s arranging her things in her purse, until she notices he’s standing there and turns around, not noticing his bag.
DONALD: (subdued) Good morning.
ROBERTA: Good morning. You’re up early this morning.
DONALD: (nods his head) Did you sleep all right last night?
ROBERTA: No, not very well I’m afraid. I’ll be fine though. How about you? Did you get any sleep?
DONALD: No. I didn’t close my eyes for a second. I couldn’t. I just kept seeing you.
ROBERTA: You must be exhausted.
DONALD: I’ll live. (awkward silence)
ROBERTA: (sadly) I’m so sorry Donald.
DONALD: (sadly) Ya, me too.
ROBERTA: I wish none of this had ever happened. I wouldn’t have hurt you for the world.
DONALD: I know you wouldn’t, not if you could help it. You’re not that kind of person.
ROBERTA: (sadly) Thank you for saying that. (she sighs) Well, (she looks around) I guess I’d better be heading out. I don’t want to miss my plane.
DONALD: No, you wouldn’t want to do that.
ROBERTA: (she slowly picks up her bags takes another look around & suddenly notices his small overnight bag.) Oh are you going somewhere too? (realizing he doesn’t owe her any explanation.) Oh, sorry…it’s none of my business. You don’t have to tell me.
DONALD: No that’s all right. Uh… yes. I’ll be taking a short trip too.
ROBERTA: Oh? Where are you going? Are you on a new case? Oh, I’m sorry. You certainly don’t owe me an explanation. I understand.
DONALD: (sweetly, he smiles) No I don’t mind, baby. (she loves when he calls her baby and she’s confused. He looks at her sweetly, and clearly says…) I just thought it was about time I met your parents, that’s all.
ROBERTA: (shocked, she pauses, is elated, she gasps out loud) Oh my God Donald! (happy, she drops her bags, runs to him and gives him a big hug. He hugs her back tentatively, pulls away a bit, holding her at arm’s length. He looks into her eyes resigned to the fact that he still loves her. He pulls her closer, and with one hand he softly strokes her hair)
DONALD: (resigned, and still holding her) I can’t fight it damn it. I still love you, but I just….(she interrupts)
ROBERTA: (happy, she hugs him again) Oh Donald, I’m so happy….I love you so much too! (he hugs her back but slowly releases her, holding her at arms length & shaking his head, looks at her seriously)
DONALD: (becomes more serious, & takes a deep breath) No. No listen to me ok? I need you to listen to me carefully. (she nods her head, ready for whatever he has to say)
ROBERTA: Of course. Say whatever you need to say.
DONALD: I um…….this isn’t easy for me you know…
ROBERTA: Of course it’s isn’t. I understand. Take your time. Take all the time you need.
DONALD: I uh…. ……(pauses to gather the right words) I just need to say…..that I love the person I married…. and I love the person I see standing here in front of me… but…..
DONALD; But I don’t know yet Roberta…. I just… I need some time to sort this all out…..It’s been quite a shock. I haven’t even begun to deal with it yet.
ROBERTA: Of course…Yes of course. I understand.
DONALD: But I feel right now, this minute, that you can use some moral support when you see your parents again after all they put you through, and having to deal with your father’s illness and everything. I want to be there beside you. I really do. I owe you that much.
ROBERTA: No you don’t. You don’t owe me a thing, really you don’t.. but I do appreciate it.
DONALD: And as for us? I can’t promise you anything…..it’s much too soon. Please understand that. But I am willing to work through it. I mean, who knows… maybe one day we can give it another try. I don’t know. I really don’t. I just know I need more time.
ROBERTA: (she breathes a sigh of relief, and smiles) That’s more than enough for me. I couldn’t ask for more than that. And you won’t be sorry Donald, I promise. I’ll make it up to you. I will, you’ll see. God I love you so much. (she hugs him gently)
DONALD: (nodding his head slowly, speaking very quietly) I know you do baby… (tenderly he smoothes her hair back & lightly kisses her forehead) I know you do. And God help me, I love you too Roberta……I love you too. (another light kiss on the forehead, he gently hugs her, she feels loved and protected as though there’s hope)
THE LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK THE END