Yay! “Imaginary Life” (the newest draft) is finally complete - all 35 pages of it! I am very relieved, and more pleased with this direction than the previous, hopefully the critique I get on it agrees. :)
Tonight just got a bit more awesome. Not only did I write more of Imaginary Life, which is turning out to be a slower process than usual (yet is turning out a better product than the first time), but I just got a call from my Stage Manager asking me if I was okay with taking on another small part in The Tempest (Spoiler Alert: I happily agreed). For being the laziest day ever, it actually turned out to be quite awesome indeed! :)
Morning, the next day. A loud crash (silverware crashing to the ground) is heard offstage. JORDAN rushes into the dining room, turning on the lights as he enters. A few pieces of silverware splash onto the stage in front of him.
I’ll call 9 - 1 - 1.
Breaking and entering is a federal offense after all.
(Beat. Aside to himself)
Breaking and entering is a federal offense after all? Good one Calhoun, citing the obvious is sure to scare a burglar away.
A loud crash is heard once more, and more silverware is seen being thrown onto the stage. NATALIE can be heard muttering under her breath (off stage).
Where is it? Where is it? Where is it? Where is it?
He rushes offstage. A loud scream is heard, almost primordial. JORDAN and NATALIE enter the space, NATALIE is holding out a butter knife to JORDAN with both hands, while he backs away from her.
Nat. Calm down.
Get. Out. Or I will call the cops.
Natalie, do you know who I am?
A stranger. An intruder. A thief.
Please put the knife down.
You took it. Didn’t you?
(She lunges at him)
Jesus! I didn’t take anything. Natalie-
(lunges at him once more, taking a few swipes at him)
I haven’t got anything.
Who are you?
A-and of yours.
Ben has all the friends. I have no one, just Ben. When Ben’s here. But he’s always away. Gone, off, and away. Up, up, and away with the clouds. But he’ll be back. He always comes back. To me. To us. To this. Which is why I need it back. I need him to know. He needs to be reminded constantly. He thinks I don’t anymore, but I do. I always have. I always will. I need to find it. I need it back.
As NATALIE descends into her rant/ramble, it gives JORDAN enough time to maneuver the knife from her hands, although it proves a formidable task seeing as she starts to pace. On the last lines he finally manages to get the knife from her hands, and gently sit her down. All done with her taking very little notice of what he’s doing.
It’s alright. Mrs. Cohen. It’s alright.
I need to find it. I need it. We need it.
What do you need?
My wedding ring.
NATALIE crumples into more hysterics and some tears, throwing an almost childlike fit, which leaves JORDAN baffled. All of a sudden BEN appears behind JORDAN, and solemnly flips the ring to JORDAN - as if it were a coin being tossed. JORDAN looks down at the ring and back at BEN, who merely smiles and nods. JORDAN drops the ring, only to pick it up as if he’s just found it, before turning to NATALIE again.
JORDAN produces the ring.
Oh my word! You found it! Thank you. Thank you.
(She hugs him, returning back to “Mary Sunshine” Natalie)
Thank you so much Jordan.
No problem Natalie. Say, why don’t I make you some nice warm tea to calm down?
That would be lovely.
What would I do without you Mr. Calhoun?
JORDAN exits, leaving NATALIE alone at the table, cherishing her ring as the lights shift to a section downstage presumably “the kitchen”. JORDAN starts making tea for a few beats, but then takes out his cell phone.
Detective. It didn’t take very long. Well she flipped out over her wedding ring, and when I got home it was as if he had just left. She’s definitely slipping in and out of episodes, and the delusions are getting stronger, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to build a case, or even get a confession from. I’ll keep trying, but I’m really not sure how long it’ll take before she starts piecing it together again, and I don’t really fancy being a part of the fallout when it happens, although you haven’t given me much choice. Anyway, I’m just calling to give an update. She’s calming down right now, and I’ve giving her a mild sedative to soothe her nerves; hopefully put her to sleep. Other than that I’ll see you next week, and call if anything else happens.
JORDAN hangs up the phone, reaches into his pocket and taking out a small vile, opening it and crushing the contents into the drink.
This goes against all my moral practices.
For her own good.
BEN disappears again, and JORDAN re-enters the dining room and hands NATALIE the cup the two “cheers” each other and take a sip, JORDAN watching her actions moderately close, as the lights go down.
“Imaginary Life”, the One Act I’ve been posting on my blog, is finished! If anyone wants to read it, and give me thoughts, critiques, etc. I’d be more than happy to send anyone a copy. Just shoot me your email in a message, and I’ll shoot you a copy!
I’m really happy! Happy Christmas (Eve) everyone!
**Random Aside: And I just got money from the last job I worked! Huzzah!**
JORDAN’S APARTMENT, same set as before, a spotlight comes up. JORDAN is sitting at his desk; which is dressed with a handle of almost finished alcohol, a packed of cigarettes, and his notepad- his head resting on his arms, sleeping. Almost suddenly, BEN enters from behind JORDAN’S chair, he caresses the back of his head, runs his hands down to his shoulders, and gives him a massage. This seems to stir JORDAN awake a bit, even though his eyes are still closed. He makes small noises of pleasure, while BEN leans down “breath to neck” close, eventually kisses his neck. JORDAN doesn’t seemingly resist any of this motion, his eyes remain closed. BEN draws JORDAN’S face to his own, but right before they could kiss JORDAN’S eye shoot open. A flash of light, a blackout, with the lights coming up again with JORDAN on the stage by himself; startled awake. He immediately reaches for the handle of alcohol, and takes a big swig, runs his hand through his hair, pulls a cigarette from the pack, and lights it.
Ben (voiceover; faint whisper): Soon.
JORDAN sits completely still for a beat or two, as one sits when they sense danger, but when nothing happens. He takes another swig from the handle, puts out the cigarette, picks up a pen, and starts furiously scribbling on the notepad.
Jordan: (as he writes) I won’t let him get to me; the way she has.
Same day, 4 PM. The once neat house that graced the previous scene is now in complete disarray, with NATALIE at the center of the hurricane. She is rapidly traversing the stage, racing back and forth, looking for something. A knock can be heard on the door, but it goes unnoticed by the frantic NATALIE. A second knock is heard, then a third, by the fourth JORDAN enters.
Jordan: Nat? Hello?
NATALIE rushes past him, as if isn’t there.
He still remains unnoticed by her, as she continues to tear the room apart.
Jordan: Natalie. Natalie? NATALIE!
JORDAN stops her, dead in her tracks. She stares at him blankly.
Natalie: Who are you?
Jordan: Are you okay?
Natalie: Who are you? How did you get in my home?
Jordan: Jordan. Your - friend?
Natalie: I don’t know anyone named Jordan. Are you my husband’s - are you Ben’s friend?
Natalie: He’s not here go away.
Jordan: I know that. I came to see you. I’m supposed to look after you.
(growing increasingly more irrational; higher in pitch)
Why? I don’t need looking after, I’m not craz- I’m not a child!
Jordan: I know, but Ben’s gone…
Natalie: Do you know where he went?
Jordan: He went on trip. He told you so this morning.
Natalie: Yes, yes a “trip” but that doesn’t tell me where he’s going. When he’s coming back. If he’s coming back. Oh God, what if he doesn’t come back?
Jordan: (soothing) Of course he’s coming back.
Natalie: But one time he went away, and he didn’t come back, not all the way. What if he doesn’t come back all the way again? (Looks at her hand) Where’s my wedding ring? I have to find it, so that when he comes back he knows.
Jordan: Knows what?
Natalie: That I’m still his wife. That I still love him.
Jordan: He knows that.
Natalie: But what if he doesn’t, and he doesn’t come back?
Jordan: He knows.
Natalie: Who are you?
Jordan: Jordan, your friend.
She stares at him a moment, before bursting into tears and enveloping him in a hug.
Natalie: Jordan. I’m so glad you’re here. A strange man was here, he’s gone now, but he says he knows Ben. I have to call Ben.
Jordan: I’ll make tea.
She rushes offstage, while he pulls out a narcotic, assumed to be a mild sedative or Valium, and a couple tea bags. He quickly exits and enters producing a tea pot and two tea cups, pours the tea, and mixes the narcotic into one of the drinks.
She re-enters visibly more calm. Jordan hands her the cup with the tea that has the narcotic, which she happily takes.
Jordan: Did you reach him?
Natalie: (shakes her head)
No, I got his voicemail, but I think I just needed to hear his voice. When is he coming back?
Jordan: In a couple days.
They sip their tea in comfortable silence, NATALIE becomes visibly more relaxed, before the lights go down.
End of Scene
NATALIE’S BACKYARD. Blank stage, the sound of a car pulling up can be heard, on the scrim behind a the back of a house is seen with a picket fence, and makeshift memorial is placed stage right (a few flowers, a teddy bear)it represents Ben’s grave. JORDAN and NATALIE enter arm and arm, NATALIE is carrying lilies. They are engaged in seemingly light conversation, NATALIE occasionally giggles, until they are center stage right, and she comes to complete halt.
Natalie: Place these for me?
NATALIE tries to hand JORDAN the flowers.
Jordan: I really think you should do this yourself.
Natalie: Mom and I never had a great relationship, especially after I married Ben. She thought he was a bad seed, of sorts. She was insane though, her opinion is - just place them for me?
NATALIE hastily hands him the flowers, walking away for a “personal” moment. He sighs heavily and places them himself, he stands looking at the grave. BEN walks onstage, stands next to NATALIE. She sees and embraces him, he comforts her, she continues miming this motion as BEN walks away from her, and stands behind JORDAN, whispering in his ear.
Jordan: (to himself) If I could get her to do this herself, she could figure it out herself, gently.
Jordan: (looking around) What the hell?
JORDAN turns around and is eye to eye with BEN for a brief moment.
Ben: Be seeing you.
Goals for today:
And if I have time try to go and see either “Hugo”, “The Descendants”, or “Young Adult”. If I had enough time I’d drive to LA and go see “The Artist”, but I definitely don’t have enough time for that.
Basically it’s a busy day, so I’m happy I’m great at getting early starts. :]
It gets a harder and harder to live this lie. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second, it gets harder. I hate looking in the mirror most days. I’m afraid that who I see, or what I see rather, won’t be me, because I don’t feel like me anymore. I feel like whatever this lie has made me. Instead of me, Jordan Bernard, a working psychiatrist, I’m afraid I’ll see, Jordan Bernard…accessory to murder. Granted I didn’t actually see it happened, I came in afterward, court appointed. I knew nothing beyond what was told to me: I was told to tend to a widowed housewife, who was placed under house arrest for the protection of herself and others. I was told to be her caretaker, attend to her psychiatric needs, present a reasonable routine that would restore normalcy to her life again. I was appointed to help her regain her sanity, but instead I helped further the madness. You see, it’s not easy to fix a broken person, it’s nearly impossible in fact. Their minds are never what they used to be, and it usually involves major self confidence re-construction, but it’s not completely impossible. But she…she’s more than broken. All she is, is a manifestation of every recreation of her own life that she’s chosen to treasure forever. Who knows which parts of her own lie are actually true, it all seems to blend together at this point into some form of the truth. Her truth. The scariest part of all of this is how easy it is to get sucked in. I was told to be careful. To watch myself around her, because how unstable she was, but she didn’t seem that unstable.
When I first met her, I introduced myself as Jordan Bernard her psychiatrist. I introduced her to the truth, and she seemed to welcome it with open arms. I’m not sure when it got muddled. I’m not sure when I became the biggest part of the lie. I remember her friends, or what friends she had left, telling me that it was better if I didn’t try to change her routines, that they kept her sane. I remember telling them that there was absolutely nothing sane about living in a delusion. They told me, “Wait and see.” Which I thought was a peculiar thing to tell anyone, but I remember thinking they were completely daft for perpetuating her own lie.
In hindsight they were right, but in hindsight I shouldn’t have involved myself past the doctor-patient relationship. I shouldn’t have allowed her to bring me in her delusion. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to get close to Ben at all, but all this is rather arbitrary at this point. Because here I am, Jordan Bernard, formally a very respected - reknowned even - psychiatrist who was trusted with this very important case study - that could’ve furthered my career tremendously, reduced to being the very case he was meant to study. Reduced to the role of “best friend” to a man that only exists in fragments in a mentally deranged woman’s mind. We’re all merely players of something though, aren’t we? We’re all subject to someone’s games at one point…but it’s ultimately up to us how deep we get ourselves into the hot water we play in. I’m in too deep. I know it, some part of Natalie knows it, and what’s worst of all? I’m pretty sure he knows it too. How does one address the corporeal elephant in the room, when it can’t even speak for itself? When it only cares to speak in your own mind? He knows. And he knows what’s right. And he knows it’s getting to me. He’s just waiting for me to snap, everyone is.
Natalie, a housewife, unable to cope with the traumatic death of her husband, Ben, three years ago, has created a world in which her husband has not died, where he is perfect. Her court appointed psychiatrist/care taker, Jordan, gets caught up in her world and perpetuates the lie until the lie catches up with him, which spells disaster for all involved.
Natalie - 29 - suffers from a form of PTSD, from her husband’s traumatic death, which we later find out is by her hand.
Jordan - 36 - a court appointed psychiatrist/therapist, who ends up playing along in Natalie’s lie.
Ben - 33 - Natalie’s husband, more corporeal than physical manifestation of her husband, that is “perfect” in every way, except for his frequent business trips. In real life Ben was far from perfect, and in fact had a tumultuous affair with one of his male co-workers.
Cast of Characters:
Natalie Cohen (29)
Ben Cohen (32)
Jordan Thompson (35)
Lights come up on a kitchen setting (a set table and two chairs) , a blank white scrim provides a back drop. Everything is silent for a few seconds, BEN enters with a movie projector, sets it on the table, switches it on, and stands idly by as it plays. What’s seen on the screen appears to be a home movie of a couple, BEN and NATALIE, but instead of displaying memories, as home movies often do, it just shows the couple in their daily life. The movie is only a rapid glimpse (about thirty seconds) into their lives, but they seem happy. When the movie’s done BEN takes shuts the projector off, walks behind the table, removing the projector from it, takes a seat in the middle, a spotlight comes on him. The lights come up, as NATALIE enters in an apron carrying a pan and spatula. She walks over to BEN, kisses his cheek, and puts “food” on his plate, before disappearing offstage. As she exits the spotlight dims, leaving the stage dark for a few seconds, and when NATALIE enters again BEN is gone. She sits at the table and begins eating as if nothing is out of the ordinary, occasionally striking up conversation with no one. There is a knock on the door, she excuses herself from the table, and enters with JORDAN.
Natalie: You just missed him, Jordan. He left for work a few seconds ago.
Jordan: That’s a shame Nat, I was hoping to see him off. I haven’t seen him in awhile.
Natalie: That’s absurd.
Jordan: What is?
Natalie: You just saw him yesterday.
Jordan: (pauses): I did?
Natalie: Yes, you came over, we visited my grandmother’s grave together - we put lilies again,(chuckles), they’re Ben’s favorite, and then the three of us came back here for tea - like we always do.
Jordan: Oh, that’s right. I’m sorry, my days seem to be bleeding together again.
Natalie: It’s alright, things happen.
Jordan: Well I just wanted to make sure you’re alright.
Natalie: Perfectly fine, why wouldn’t I be? I just made breakfast, Ben was in such a hurry he hardly finished his. You’re welcome to sit and finish it with me, if you’d like.
BEN’S plate is untouched. JORDAN hesitates for a moment, before sitting down.
Jordan: I’d love to. (starts eating) It’s a shame Ben always has to leave before finishing your meals. They are always so delicious.
Natalie: Such is life. Someone has to be the bread winner, I suppose. He’s going on another trip.
Jordan: For how long this time?
Natalie: I don’t know. He never tells me exact days, he just kind of leaves. Should I be worried?
Jordan (placing a comforting hand on hers): He loves you, very much.
Natalie: I just wish he’d stay for more than a couple of weeks at a time, you know? I hate missing him.
Jordan: I (clears his throat) I should get to work.
Natalie: So soon?
Jordan: My clients can’t psychoanalyze themselves. Well, maybe they can, but then I wouldn’t get paid for it.
Natalie: (chuckles) At four then?
Jordan: On the dot.
Natalie: I’ll tell Ben you stopped by, when he calls later. He’s really thankful you look after me.
Jordan: I’ll see you later.
He exits. NATALIE continues to eat for a few beats, before putting her head on the table and crying. She stays like that for a two beats, picks herself up, fixing her dress and makeup, and clearing her place at the table.
End of Scene