“Fusion,” in Quail Bell Magazine

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Claire was stuck in traffic, edging into the left turn lane just before Central Square, when she glanced over to the near left corner of a side street and saw the makeshift booth set up. Someone had used black magic marker to draw a Hitler mustache on Barack Obama’s face. She used to love that campaign poster from 2004, the one that proclaimed HOPE in large letters across the bottom.

It was those kids again, the ones who sold the newspaper with the same bizarre, fake news stories month after month. The car ahead of her wasn’t moving an inch, and Claire leaned to her left to find out what was causing the holdup. A long line of cars stood idling in the left lane. Maybe the signal was on the fritz. Or someone wanting to make a left turn was waiting for a break. Either way, Claire had time to observe the action on the sidewalk. IMPEACH OBAMA, the poster’s block letters entreated passers-by. Two women with young children veered away from the kids in the booth, moving into the crosswalk to cross Mass Ave.

Claire was on her way to visit her friend Rosie…read the rest at Quail Bell Magazine.

House Guests and the Writing Regime

We’ve had four in a row, first  a young couple from Baltimore who are planning their wedding for next fall, then an old friend from my teaching days in Connecticut—now she’s based in Portland, the  Oregon one—and my brother in-law, who drove down from the north, for a Joe Jackson concert in Boston, and stayed overnight.

Then last night, my husband’s Men’s Book Club convened to discuss The Lord of Misrule.

It’s been years since we had this many visitors in such a short time, and the washing machine has been busy every few days, with sheets, pillowcases, towels and blankets. The dishwasher, which we usually put into service every two days, has been going full speed, Continue reading “House Guests and the Writing Regime”

Mercy Chronicles

By Lynne Viti and Gay White

The Mercy Chronicles

By Lynne Viti and Gay White

 

 

CAST

Girl 1

Girl 2

Girl 3

Girl 4

Girl 5

Narrator

Voice offstage

Nun

Richard Nixon

Scene 1:

May, 1962

Four girls sitting in a row, intently watching a television on a cart at front of classroom.

Narrator (imitating television commentator, probably Walter Cronkite on CBS):

And we can see the rockets lifting off the Sigma 7 capsule, with astronaut Wally Schirra

at the controls…liftoff is proceeding as expected. This exciting moment in America’s

history is the fifth Mercury flight, and the flight plan calls for Schirra to orbiting the

Earth six times in the capsule before touching down in the Pacific Ocean, where NASA

will have an aircraft carrier ready and waiting to take Schirra back to Houston for tests

and evaluation of this historic mission…

Girls jumping up and down in their seats, all together: 5, 4,3,2,1, ignition—blastoff!

Scene 2: Cuban Missile crisis, November 1962

Girls sitting at a lunch table.

#1: I’m scared. My father says that Castro’s got all those Russian missiles pointed right

at Washington DC and that Baltimore could be hit,too.

#2: My father said that President Kennedy will straighten this whole thing out fast and

make the Russians back down.

# 3: Then I’ll never get to see Artie again…What if the entire world blows up?

# 4. Maybe we should go to the chapel….

Lights out.

Scene 3

Voice: Good afternoon, girls. I have an important announcement. This afternoon in

Dallas, President Kennedy was shot (ALL SCREAM AS ANNOUNCER CONTINUES)

by an unknown assailant. Three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s

motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been

seriously wounded by this shooting. At this time, we will dismiss classes for the day…”

Girl # 2: Oh my God!

Girl #1: I’m scared.

Girl #4 Maybe we should go to the chapel…again.

Fade out.

Scene 4: 1964

A classroom . Four girls are gathered around a few desks in the music room. Loose leaf

notebooks are open on the desks, and a few hardbound text books are stacked up. The

desks are pulled into more or less a circle.

#1 (leaning over to # 2,who is sitting next to #1 and writing in a notebook with a

pencil, ): So if you subtract 8 on this side, you have to do the same thing on the other side

of the equation or else it’s –-look—scribbles something on #2’s notebook.

#2: Oh, I see! Swell, I get it right now but the test is next WEEK and I won’t remember it

by then. Besides, I’m screwed: I think Sister hates me.

#1: (sarcastically) Yeah, that Johannes is one mean nun. Boy oh boy!

#3: Hey, this math is killing me, too – if I get another C my mother will have a conniption

fit.

#4 (opens her handbag and pulls out a compact and lipstick, applies it carefully, looking

intently into the compact mirror): Forget math, girls–can’t wait till Tuesday. The Beatles

at the DC Stadium – and WE have TICKETS!

All sigh very audibly.

#3 (singing): “She was just seventeen, you know what I mean, and the way she looked

was way beyond compay-ah”

All five join in :”How could I dance with another…woooo –when I saw her standin’

there!”

#5 (to # 2) I can’t believe you only got four tickets.

#2: I told you, I bought them off that girl Mary Jane and I met in Bethany Beach an’ she

only HAD four an’ her mom wouldn’t let her go because she was afraid the girl’d be

stampeded in Beatlemania. Sor-RY. I wish you could come .

#1: (to # 5) Did you bring the record?

#5 pulls an LP from under the stack of books she is carrying.

(#1has taken the record out of the sleeve and is fiddling with the record player.)

[Music starts: The Beatles, singing “All My Lovin’” There’s a lot of dancing.

lot of swooning.

Enter a nun

Nun: (clapping hands) Girls! What on earth are you doing in Sister Mary Charlita’s music

room at this hour? It’s almost 4:30.

#1: Nothing, sister, I mean, we’re doing homework. Algebra.

(She holds up the math workbook. ) Equations, see? (smiles)

Nun: What’s this? [She picks up the album cover, which is lying on the top of the piano.]

Beatles. What a waste of your time. Those moptops will never amount to anything. Why,

in five years, no one will ever remember who they are! Now, girls, pack up and go home

–I have to lock up this room. And if I find you in here again after hours, I‘ll see that you

all get two days’ detention!

Quickly pack up books and leave, giggling.

Scene 5: June 1965

Girl # 1: I can’t believe this is it!

# 2: High School Graduation—and the hottest day in June ever! Is my hair totally

frizzed?

# 3: Is my hair totally straight and flat? Ugh! Straight, flat hair will NEV#R, EVER be in

Style/

All three bend over, fluff out their hair. One sprays her hair with hair spray).

# 4 (Breathless, rushing up to meet them: We have to get in line. Sr. Michelle is crazed!

She says IND’s graduation is right after ours and if we run late she’ll give us a week’s

detention! Guess she doesn’t realize that we’re officially launched now…She’s also

checking for “extremes in hair style and /or color” and excessive eye makeup!

# 1 Penny, I told you not to wear that purple mascara! Let’s go, girls.

(They walk off humming Pomp and Circumstance.)

Scene 6

An apartment in Baltimore. Four young women sit around a kitchen table. #4 is

pregnant. Some wear headbands, hippie style.

Girl # 1: So my mother found out we were living together, and she and my father won’t

speak to me any more.

Girl # 2: Tell me about it. My mother thinks it’s 1940, so I don’t tell her anything any

more.

Girl # 3: I can’t believe you are worried about trivial stuff like that when we are fighting

this useless war.

Girl # 4: You always were the political one.

# 3; Me? Look polls say over half the people in the country oppose LBJ’s dirty little war.

I can’t believe that boys have to worry about being drafted if they flunk out of college.

You remember Artie, the boy I went steady with in 8th grade?

#1 (interrupting) He was such a “hair”!

#3 Well, that “hair” went to Vietnam and never came back.

Silence from the group.

#3 I can’t believe that’s it’s almost 1970, we’re all together again, (pointing to herself and

the pregnant girl) we’re both married, YOU’RE expecting (pointing to the pregnant girl),

you’ve been teaching at St. Bernard’s for  5 years and you’re starting your master’s

program next year (pouring wine for everybody)–

#2 God, is the world falling apart?! Our parents are freaked out because we live with our

boyfriends. Our boyfriends are afraid they’re going to get drafted and sent to Nam and

get blown up. Lots of our girlfriends smoke pot. Or they go out to bars almost every

night, get wasted and go home with some strange guy. Or they get married and settle

down at 19 and have a baby at 20 -no offense, Janie. We are stuck in BAL-MER. And hey! I heard  a rumor that Paul McCartney is dead!

(They all break in with screams of No! No way! That’s crazy!, etc.)

#4 (continues) And—worst of all—RICHARD NIXON IS PRESIDENT! (more groans

from the group).

#1 We thought JFK had kicked his butt for good in 1960 but heeeeeee’s baacccck!

#2 Yeah, like Dracula…

# 4:Hey, I’m starving. Can we order Chinese food?

# 2: Better yet – let’s go down to Mee Jung Lo for old times’ sake and order our old

favorites.

# 1. Moo goo gai pan,

# 2. Shrimp toast!

#3 And Won tons! OK, girls, let’s go to dinner! We can solve the world’s problems later.

(All walk out, humming “you say you want a revolution, we-ell, you know, you don’t

need to change the world….”

Scene 7. 1974

# 4 is visibly pregnant again.

The television over the bar is airing Richard Nixon’s resignation speech.

(Narrator: ” I have never been a quitter. To leave office

before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I

must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time

Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.”)

# 4 : I’m completely speechless. I thought this would never happen. Thank God.

# 2: Good riddance.

# 3. Not that it will change much—Mark is still in Vietnam and I’m not sure when -or

IF- he’s coming home.

#1 At least I love my job. Grade four is definitely where I belong.

# 2. I guess maybe I’m a bit of a late bloomer. No husband. No job, no baby. But I should

be done with my masters soon, and maybe I’ll get a real job—NOT cleaning houses, I

mean—and anyway, why worry? We’re still a long way from 30.

All,  in unison: Never trust anyone over 30!

#1 More like never trust ANYONE – I just heard that Sandy is getting a divorce from her

SECOND husband, by the way. She’s got 2 kids and no money.

#2 Another round of Natty Bo, girls?

# 3. I still have a little, thanks. And beside, I have to split: I’m taking the red eye back to

California and my cute lil’ apartment in Haight Ashbury and my cute new boyfriend. So

gorgeous- a cross between Paul McCartney and Sylvester Stallone. And he’s a surgeon!

#1Paul was always your favorite

#1 I wanted John

#2 My fave was always Ringo.

#4 And ever since George came to Mercy that day he’s been my all-time favorite

Beatle! How ‘bout a toast, girls? To Mercy High School and our 10th reunion next

year!

# 2 And Beatles Forever!

# 3 And to Sister Frederick. Do you remember freshman year when she told us to take

that salt map of Odysseus’ adventures over to the Maps and Charts room? We thought it

was some unmarked room -after all, the school was brand new. It took us 45 minutes of

frantic searching to figure out that there WAS no Maps and Charts room! To Sister

Frederick!

#1 And to Janie’s new baby girl -Mercy class of ‘92!

They clink glasses and toast.

#2 Bye bye Tricky Dick. And let’s bring the boys home….

(They clink glasses and toast again.)

Scene 8: 1980’s

#1,2, # 3 and are present.

#2: And then I said to Caitlyn, you’ve GOT to be kidding: take off that eye shadow,

young lady, it makes you look like a tramp. And you’re not going to the mall. I don’t

CARE if all the other girls are going. And I told you to turn off that MTV!

#3: What’s MTV?

#1/ Music television.

#3. Like Buddy Deane?

#1 No, like videos of bands. You know, Michael Jackson, moonwalk.

#3. Moonwalk?

#1 Forget it.

Enter # 4: Sorry, girls, had to drop off Jamie at Kinder-Tot ballet, bake 4 dozen cupcakes

for Stevie’s 2nd grade Montessori class -which, btw, he told me about at 6 this morning! pick

up Frankie, Jr. at soccer practice, and then I had to buy PAC-man for my husband’s

birthday present–

#2 OK, OK, Janie, enough already! Look, we’re supposed to be planning our 35th

birthday celebration at Ocean City over Fourth of July, so let’s get busy.

#1 God, I hope I can get into my bathing suit from last year.

#3 Don’t even talk about it.

#4 (sheepishly)Uh, girls, speaking of bathing suits…… guess who’s expecting

again?

Scene ends with cries of OMG, Not again! Holy crap, Janie! Is this # 4 or 5?

Scene 9: 1990’s

(Again, # 1 is pregnant)

Enter # 1, with pillow, again.

They all just look at her and shrug their shoulders—big shrug, very overdone.

#1 Honestly, Janie, you’re such a CATHOLIC. You’ll probably be the only one at

our 30th reunion in a maternity dress.

#4 Girls, that’s not all: my daughter Jennifer -Class of ’92, mind you- just told me

SHE’S pregnant!

(unison singing) “well she was just 17, you know what I mean…” all break into

laughter.

Scene 10: 2010

the 5 girls again.

2 So who’s coming to this reunion?

3. I dunno…the usual suspects probably.

4. Know who I’d really like to see?

Enter # 1, not pregnant.

2. Glad to see you finally got your waistline back, girl.

3. I’d like to see Kate K, but she said she has to be up early tomorrow for the first

hunt of the season. English riding saddle, all that.

4. I’d like to see Diana.

1. Nancy .

2. Pat !

3. Libby

The nun— to audience–rushing in clicking the clicker—now,  girls, before we end, we want to thank you all for joining us today, and we’d like to let you know some of the reasons the rest of our classmates aren’t here:

Girl 1: Hip replacement two weeks before—can’t drive  yet

Girl 2:  Two hours  is too far to drive

Girl 3:  I’m not the  same person I was in high school

Girl 4: Can’t leave the dogs.

Girl 1:Would have preferred a dinner dance with spouses or partners.

Girl 2:  Husband’s family reunion is  that weekend, in upstate New York.

Girl 3: I’ll wait  for the 50th.

Girl 1 :Work  is too busy.

Girl 4: Can’t leave the dogs!

Girl 1: I have a board meeting in Ocean City that day.

Girl 3 I’m running a fundraiser for a charity that day

Girl 2: Going on a cruise.

Girl 1: Going to Rome and Egypt.

Girl 2: It’s too expensive for me to fly there.

Girl 4 : Can’t leave the cats!

Girl 1: I’m babysitting the grandchildren…

Girl 2: The last reunion I came to was so depressing…

Girl 3 Going to a wedding in New Jersey and it would be too much of a rush to get to Reunion by Saturday  afternoon.

Girl 1 : My daughter’s first baby’s due date is October 2nd, and she lives in LA

Girl 4: Can’t leave the dogs!

Nun: (interrupts): Now, girls !(clapping hands) You’re late for your ownReunion.Now get out of here and go get a glass of wine before it’s all gone!

FINIS

© 2010 Lynne Spigelmire Viti and Gay Johnson White

All rights reserved