Midnight Lunch pg2

Edla Frankau Cusick

 

ALINE
Yes, so I just thought. We could both work here, just as well as one of us. There's ample space. People do with much less. The expense is completely justified. It's minor, anyway, in the big scheme.

TOM
Ahhhh, the scheming...

ALINE
Think of it, we can talk to each other about our projects, and I can help you with everything, with anything. Anything you want to know about, about New York, about life, about the theatre, about color; So you'd never have to be uncomfortable, or distracted, or bothered by anything or anyone. You'd hardly need the reference books, Tom. I tell you I know everything there is to know. I feel that way.

[She makes a few merry steps, encouraging him to agree.]

TOM
So I see. A walking encyclopedia. A prancing, dancing encyclopedia.

The pressure is on!

ALINE
That's right. The pressure of no pressure. There is no pressure on you. None. That's the worst kind, I've heard.

[She stops to inspect the ancient stove.]

We'll eat like kings here, too. These cast iron babies last forever, nothing in them to break. I love it. Divine meaty soups, simmering all afternoon. Think of it. It'll heat the place like a son of a bitch, too.

TOM
Honestly, woman, that's quite a mouth you have on you there, mouth like a back-country moonshiner's grandma. Prettier, though; your mouth, juicier. You get a 45-year-old gal out in the hill country and she's an old girl. How come you're not old like that?

ALINE
I'm old enough. Old enough to know better. What is it that's going on here, anyway?

TOM
You tell me.

ALINE
Do you like my dress?

TOM
It's very nice, very lovely.

[She turns around, showing the dress]

ALINE
You don't remember it?

TOM
Should I? Oh—

ALINE
Yes.

TOM
Were you wearing it the night we sailed into New York harbor?

ALINE
The night we met.

TOM
Now I remember.

ALINE
I had to put new sleeves on it.

TOM
Mmmm?

ALINE
You ripped the sleeves. I'd only known you for half an hour.

TOM
I told you. Right away, I already had always known you, since even before I was born. We could bypass the small-talk, you and me. We both knew that right away. Didn't we?

ALINE
You left bruises on my arms, big, matching purple marks. My friend saw them. I had a time concealing them; the maid, my daughter, my husband, my sister--you don't realize how much you're being watched until you've got something on you that you're kind of trying to hide.

TOM
Show me. Where were these bruises? These so-called bruises?

ALINE
Up here. On the soft part.

TOM
You must bruise easy, then. I was only trying to make you see, I was only trying to get hold of you, I was hanging on for dear life, like I was drowning.

ALINE
We had drunk a fair amount that evening.

TOM
You intoxicated me. The champagne was incidental.

ALINE
And the gin?

TOM
Think of me like a tree. The stuff doesn't affect me. Did your friend say anything?

ALINE
She looked in my face. She said I looked like I'd swallowed a fifty-watt lamp.

TOM
That was all?

ALINE
She gave me that grin. That woman-to-woman grin. That's universal, surely? Mason-Dixon-wise?

TOM
Are you saying your friend endorses your scandalous behavior? What's she, another damned Jezebel like you?

ALINE
We're all women of the world, Tom...for heaven's sake.

TOM
In that case—

[Stepping right in for a big-pawed embrace]

Page 3