Souls in the Wind


by Kristy Sumner



CHARACTERS:

ELISHA TANNER: A 24 year-old college student, a member of the LDS church

IAN ANDREWS: A 29 year-old research assistant, a member of the LDS church

MITCH KIMBALL: A 23 year-old construction worker, inactive in the LDS church

BISHOP NELSON: A 47 year-old businessman, a Bishop for the LDS church

DORIS MILANO: A 22 year-old carwash attendant, a Catholic

INEZ ROUNDY: A 66 year-old Relief Society President in the LDS church

NORMAN ROUNDY: Her husband, a 75 year old former Stake President in the LDS church

TIME: The present. Summer.

Act I
Scene 1: Midnight. A carwash
Scene 2: Later that night. Elisha's apartment
Scene 3: Later that week. The carwash
Scene 4: The next afternoon. Bishop Nelson's office
Scene 5: Early the next morning. Elisha's apartment
Scene 6: The following afternoon. The carwash
Scene 7: Bishop Nelson's office
Scene 8: Later that evening. Elisha's apartment
Scene 9: The next morning. The carwash
Act II
Scene 1: A month later. The carwash
Scene 2: An hour later. Mitch's apartment
Scene 3: Later that evening. The carwash
Scene 4: That evening. Mitch's apartment
Scene 5: The next day. Elisha's apartment
Act III
Scene 1: Two weeks later. The carwash
Scene 2: Elisha's apartment
Scene 3: A few days later. Elisha's apartment
Scene 4: Bishop Nelson's office
Scene 5: The carwash
Scene 6: The Roundy living room
Scene 7: Elisha's apartment
Scene 8: The Roundy living room
Scene 9: The carwash
Scene 10: The next day. The Roundy living room
Act IV
Scene 1: Two months later. The Roundy living room
Scene 2: A few days later. The carwash
Scene 3: Elisha's new apartment
Scene 4: Several months later. Elisha's apartment
Scene 5: The next morning. Elisha's apartment
Scene 6: A few days later. Elisha's apartment
Act I

Scene 1

A Carwash Mini-Mart: A cashier's counter, with a popcorn machine; a cigarette display, which hangs above the counter; a mini-mart, which includes shelves, a freezer, and hamburger, hot-dog, Coke and Pepsi machines; a waiting area, with square foam chairs. There are three doors: one leading outside; one leading to a crew room; one leading to the restroom. It is midnight. A portable cassette player sets on the counter, playing an Inxs tape. The song is "Never Tear Us Apart." Elisha, dressed in jeans and a red v-necked T-shirt with a wash-n-wax logo over the right pocket, is locking the doors. She is obviously preoccupied. Mitch is at the threshold of the crew room, watching Elisha. He is dressed in a motor-cross suit, complete with steel-toed boots. Elisha is in the shadows, but Mitch is clearly visible in the florescent light of the crew room. He is intensely attentive. As Elisha comes behind the counter, Mitch steps back into the crew room to avoid being seen, but returns to the doorway, when Elisha turns her back on it. Elisha turns out the lights, leaving a single track, at the back of the store, illuminated, then takes the tills out of the cash registers, stacks them on top of each other, and turns to set them on the counter. She is startled by Mitch and drops the tills.

ELISHA: You scared me!

MITCH: (as he produces a bucket of ice and heads for the Coke machine) Just trying to be helpful. You're not usually this jumpy, Elisha. Expecting someone unpleasant?

ELISHA: You know how Frank hates it, when you come in on my shift.

MITCH: Who's going to tell him?

ELISHA: (as she picks up the contents of the tills) Dang it! These are all mixed up.

Mitch returns to the crew room, for another bucket of ice, but stops to turn off the cassette player, then looks through the tapes piled next to it. He throws one aside, as if it has burned him.

MITCH: Arrrgh! I touched a Whitney Houston tape! He holds out his arm. Take it off, before it festers.

ELISHA: It's my shift. I'm not listening to Iron Maiden.

MITCH: You don't have Iron Maiden.

ELISHA: (as she finishes picking up the tills and puts them on the counter) There's nothing there you'll like.

MITCH: Not! Where'd you get a Queensryche tape?

ELISHA: There's only one song on it I like.

MITCH: (imitating a mechanically distorted voice) If you persist in your efforts, you can achieve: dream control. Dream control. Help me.

ELISHA: Like that was hard to figure out.

Mitch starts the tape, which begins to play in the middle of the song 'Silent Lucidity.'

MITCH: Listening to it already were we?

ELISHA: That is why I brought it.

Mitch sits on the counter and sings along with the tape, leaning against Elisha and interfering as she tries to calculate the gas figures.

MITCH: (singing) 'Am smiling next to you/ in silent lucidity.' (Elisha turns off the tape.) You could do it faster without the calculator.

ELISHA: I hate math.

MITCH: I could do it for you.

ELISHA: I'd be done already if you'd just quit.

MITCH: So, has he called you, yet?

ELISHA: Who?

MITCH: Ian: the man: the myth.

ELISHA: He's coming in tomorrow. Get off the counter.

MITCH: Hey, I almost forgot. Look at this. (He shows her a Book of Mormon.)

ELISHA: Where'd you get that?

MITCH: Some body--my guess is Frank--left it in the crew room.

ELISHA: He's trying to reconvert you.

MITCH: That explains why he got so pissed.

ELISHA: About what?

MITCH: Tony and I were playing a friendly little game of Ouija Book of Mormon and Frank totally type-Aed out.

ELISHA: Ouija Book of Mormon?

MITCH: Ask me a question. Any question.

ELISHA: No.

MITCH: It works.

ELISHA: Okay, what do I do about Ian?

Mitch opens the book, closes his eyes, makes a circular gesture with his wrist, then stabs his finger down on a page and reads a verse, in a mock-prophetic tone.

MITCH: "Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain thing."

ELISHA: Right. She takes the book to see for herself that he is not lying. You got lucky.

MITCH: Ask me another one then.

ELISHA: What do I do about Mitch?

She repeats Mitch's ritual, points out a verse and starts to read, then attempts to close the book, but Mitch traps her finger on the page and reads the verse for her.

MITCH: "...ye must pour out your soul..." I told you it works.

ELISHA: I hope God has a good aim. I wouldn't want him to hit me, while he was trying for you.

MITCH: He'd never waste me. I amuse Him too much.

ELISHA: Careful. You could be over-rating your appeal.

MITCH: So, I guess you won't be calling me, tomorrow--if you have a nightmare, or something.

ELISHA: It's not like we're not friends, anymore.

MITCH: Somehow I think Ian might object to my hanging around.

ELISHA: He doesn't even know you.

MITCH: I'm not really interested in being his bud, okay?

ELISHA: No one said you had to be.

MITCH: (looking outside) Oh, my God!

ELISHA: What?!

MITCH: It's them!

ELISHA: Who?

MITCH: The guys who hit 7-eleven, last week.

ELISHA: They robbed it?

MITCH: No. They drove into the side of it. Scared you.

ELISHA: (as she shoves him off of the counter) Jerk!

MITCH: I don't know why Frank lets you close, anyway. It's dangerous.

ELISHA: It's not like I'm ever alone here.

MITCH: (contradicting her) When Frank first hired you. Three o'clock in the morning, I get this phone call...

ELISHA: Shut up.

MITCH: (in a mocking falsetto) 'Mitch, how do you take the hamburger machine apart?'

ELISHA: He left me here with a list.

MITCH: At least, you weren't a dog. I would have been torqued about dragging myself down here for a bow-wow. Good thing you've got a sexy voice, or I might not even have risked it.

ELISHA: I'm so lucky.

MITCH: You know you love me. You going to call me and let me know how it goes?

ELISHA: If you're so interested.

Mitch jumps up and down on one of the chairs in the waiting area.

I have to clean those.

MITCH: (still jumping) You know, with all the stress of him coming back and everything, you might have one of those nightmares, tonight.

ELISHA: Probably a big one.

MITCH: Maybe I'd better come over.

ELISHA: Oh, that would be good. And Ian could come home early, and find you at my place.

MITCH: Which isn't his home.

ELISHA: He could still come over.

MITCH: So, what if he does? It's not like he'd be interrupting anything.

ELISHA: I don't think he'd understand. (She goes into the crew room to get a mop and a bucket.)

I mean, I thought you were hitting on me, at first.

MITCH: Have you had a nightmare, since?

ELISHA: That doesn't mean that you couldn't have had ulterior motives.

MITCH: Me?

Elisha re-enters and starts to mop the floor.

You don't look happy.

ELISHA: Mopping is such a joy.

MITCH: He doesn't make you happy.

ELISHA: Who does?

MITCH: You have fun with me.

ELISHA: Fun, yes.

MITCH: I'm going to make you happy right now, by doing that for you.

They wrestle with the mop. Mitch wins and Elisha sits down, curling up her feet to get them out of the way, as he mops the waiting area.

ELISHA: Why does life have to be so complicated?

MITCH: Because you don't love him.

ELISHA: You can't be in love with someone for five years then just stop.

MITCH: You just don't want to have wasted all that time.

ELISHA: I can't be that shallow.

MITCH: So, to be deep, you're going to marry an idiot, settle down, raise a family, and be miserable?

ELISHA: Not that I actually have that option, but isn't that what life's for?

MITCH: You'd better stop smarting off and think this thing through.

ELISHA: I've thought it to death.

She puts her arms on the side of the chair and buries her head.

Tell me what to do.

Mitch stands behind her and almost strokes her hair, but changes his mind and squats next to the chair. After a pause, Elisha raises her head and finds herself face to face, with Mitch.

MITCH: Peek-a-boo!

ELISHA: (laughs) Well that was helpful.

MITCH: (as he roughs up her hair) Snap out of it.

ELISHA: Stop it!

She tries to stop him from messing up her hair. He grabs her hand then holds it.

MITCH: You take his hand in yours, look him straight in the eye and say: Fuck off.

ELISHA: Mitch!

MITCH: In language you would use.

ELISHA: It's not that simple.

She puts her arm on the arm of the chair and rests her head against her fist.

MITCH: (teasingly, as he peeks through the crook of her arm) Yes, it is.

ELISHA: I'm not like you. I can't just blow people off.

MITCH: When have I ever blown you off?

ELISHA: It's only a matter of time.

MITCH: Yeah, well, that's true, but I'd still hate to see you make a big mistake.

ELISHA: It's not your problem. Give me the mop.

MITCH: Make me.

ELISHA: Mitch, I'm really tired. I want to get through and go home.

MITCH: So, go. I'll finish up.

ELISHA: I can't let you do that.

MITCH: Hey, I'm the guy, who cured your nightmares remember?

ELISHA: Put them in remission, maybe.

Mitch reaches out to touch her face and she stumbles backward to avoid the contact.

MITCH: Just don't do anything stupid, okay?

Mitch pushes her head. Now, get out of here.

ELISHA: I'm gone, already.

Elisha heads for the door. Mitch watches her leave then restarts the tape. Lights fade, but the music continues.

Scene 2

Elisha's Apartment. A living room, in an old house: a couch, a stereo stand, a rattan papasan chair, a coffee table, a brown-toned globe of the world, in a wooden stand, a curio cabinet, and several wooden bookcases. The bookcases are full and contain a mixture of classical literature, scientific texts, and modern, but literary novels. The bookcases (and several wall shelves) house a collection of expensive souvenirs, from around the world: dolls, brass figures, bells, enameled boxes, ivory statues, pottery, etc. A set of leather-bound scriptures sets on the coffee table. There are so many large plants that the room hints at a jungle. A painting, depicting a stormy ocean at sunset, with waves crashing on a rocky shore, hangs on the center wall. The two other walls, in the room, are decorated with large, framed, old-fashioned maps of the world. There are two doors: one leading to the rest of the apartment; one leading outside. Elisha and Ian are on opposite ends of the couch. Elisha has her legs drawn up and is playing with a set of keys. She is still in her wash-n-wax uniform. Ian appears relaxed and has an arm draped across the back of the couch. He is dressed in a conservative suit, the coat of which he has tossed over an arm of the couch. He wears glasses and looks as if he spends most of his time indoors.

IAN: So, did you miss me?

ELISHA: Why wouldn't I miss you?

IAN: After not getting any letters, I was afraid I'd come back to find you'd left no forwarding address.

ELISHA: I can't believe you didn't get any of them.

IAN: You usually write whole books and, well, I was kind of a jerk, before I left. I can see where you could have...

ELISHA: Forget it.

IAN: I don't want to forget it. I was a jerk. I'm sorry.

ELISHA: Okay.

IAN: Something's going on here.

ELISHA: I'm just not sure what you're doing here.

IAN: Seeing you.

ELISHA: Oh, forget it.

IAN: (irritated) No. What?

ELISHA: What do you want with me, Ian?

IAN: Want with you?

ELISHA: We're not just friends.

IAN: Agreed.

ELISHA: We're not anything else, either.

IAN: And this is my fault? (Elisha does not answer.) If you're ready to work it out, I am. Come here.

ELISHA: That isn't what I meant.

IAN: It's more of the problem than you know. You've got about seven doors between you and the rest of the world and, as well as I know you, I'm only up to door three.

ELISHA: Four, but who's counting?

IAN: See? You don't even want me to know what door I'm at. How am I supposed to know where I stand with anything else?

ELISHA: You know where you stand.

IAN: Outside, looking in.

ELISHA: You're inside--to door four, anyway.

IAN: Is anybody ever going to get to door three?

ELISHA: (faintly) Maybe.

IAN: What's so scary about having someone touch you?

ELISHA: Things that are supposed to come naturally don't for me, okay?

Ian moves closer.

I mean it, Ian...

IAN: It would bother you, if I asked you to just give me a hug?

ELISHA: Bother would be an understatement.

IAN: I could really use one. This new job has me down. I thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life researching, but the more time I spend actually doing it, the more I start to wonder.

ELISHA: It's never too late to change.

IAN: Really?

ELISHA: I'd feel stupid.

IAN: So, what if you were to just go ahead and feel stupid, and I was to understand and let it be okay that you were nervous?

ELISHA: I don't like feeling stupid.

IAN: What if you gave me the keys?

ELISHA: No way.

IAN: As long as we've been friends, you can't sit here and talk to me, without keys?

ELISHA: (throwing him the keys) Okay, but I get neurotic without them.

IAN: But not with them?

ELISHA: Touch・ So, what are we going to talk about?

IAN: Do we have to change the subject?

ELISHA: Definitely. Did you ever...

IAN: Here comes a story.

ELISHA: You're loving this, aren't you?

IAN: You're playing with your shoelaces.

ELISHA: That's because someone has my keys.

IAN: Just sit there.

He pushes her feet off of the couch.

Put your feet down on the floor and sit.

ELISHA: This is stupid.

IAN: You're never going to let me talk you into that hug, are you?

ELISHA: Uh-uhn.

IAN: Not even to reassure me that you missed me?

ELISHA: It wouldn't be reassuring. Trust me. I tense up. I freak out. It's not something that I can control.

IAN: I'm not asking you to. I don't care if you feel uncomfortable.

ELISHA: I do.

IAN: You don't even have to look at me. (As he moves closer and puts his arms around her.) I'll put my arms around you and all you have to do is sit there. Wasn't that hard?

ELISHA: I feel ridiculous.

IAN: You feel pretty good to me.

ELISHA: Okay, experiment's over.

IAN: Would you relax? He holds her. She makes a gesture of futility then tries to loosen up a little in an effort to appease him. Ready to try something else?

ELISHA: What?

IAN: Don't panic. I'm not going to attack you. Ian drops Elisha back, so that she is lying in his arms, then pulls her close. She makes a tentative attempt to put her arms around him. You feel like you're having a heart attack.

ELISHA: I am.

IAN: You'll get used to it. Then, when you don't have it anymore, you'll really miss it. This is a lonely time of life, isn't it? You don't really have the family that you grew up with anymore--you're not part of them in the same way, anyway--you don't have your own family, yet. How do you handle it--being alone? It never seems to scare you.

ELISHA: Other things scare me worse.

IAN: Why do you always talk like you're the only one who could get hurt here? You've got more power to hurt me than anyone alive. Why do you always look away?

ELISHA: Just when you're staring at me.

IAN: I like looking in your eyes.

ELISHA: (cynically) Right.

IAN: Okay. I'm not an idiot. I know what I'm doing. He kisses her. She makes an attempt to pull away then kisses him back. Well, the shit's hit the fan, now.

ELISHA: What?

IAN: (staring into her eyes) I am such a jerk.

He kisses her then moves his hand over her thigh.

ELISHA: (a half-hearted protest) Ian.

He continues to kiss her, ignoring the fact that she has begun to resist. He moves his hand along her side toward her breast. She grabs his hand and they struggle.

IAN: I'm stronger than you are.

ELISHA: Ian, please!

IAN: (after a beat) Okay. Fine. We don't have to do anything. Elisha relaxes and releases his hand. He puts his hand on her breast and starts to fondle it. It's okay. We don't have to.

ELISHA: Ian...

Ian moves his hand toward her inner thigh.

IAN: It's okay. I said it was okay.

ELISHA: It's not okay.

IAN: Fine.

He sits up.

ELISHA: I'm sorry. I just...

IAN: (without concealing his annoyance) No, it's okay. It's fine. Really.

He stands up.

You got a bathroom back there?

ELISHA: On the left.

IAN: Turn some music on, or something. I won't be back, for a while.

Ian exits. Elisha reaches to turn on the stereo, then sits, on the couch, hugging her self as INXS' 'Devil Inside' starts to play.


Scene 3

The carwash. Mitch is buying a six-pack of Coors Lite. Doris is behind the counter, wearing a green Wash-n-Wax T-shirt. Mitch is wearing a brown leather pilot's jacket, tight jeans, and worn, gray, cowboy boots.

DORIS: Why do you always come in five minutes before close? Do you see anybody else in this store?

MITCH: Hey, when I'm on this side of the counter, I'm a customer, and I expect to get treated like one.

DORIS: Fine. You sure you're over twenty-one? Let's see some ID.

MITCH: Would a guy with one of these lie?

He flashes a temple recommend.

DORIS: What's that?

MITCH: Only the highest honor Mormondom can bestow on a nonprophet: a Temple Recommend. This tiny piece of paper states that the bearer is honorable, pure of heart, and otherwise worthy to enter that Holy edifice known as the Temple of God. You also have to be on the wagon; off coffee, tea, drugs, cigarettes, and any other substances known to give pleasure to man--including babes--and you have to believe in revelation so unequivocally that you'll fork over ten percent of everything you earn to THE Church.

DORIS: Where'd you get it?

MITCH: On my mission.

DORIS: You are such a liar.

MITCH: Where do you think I learned Italian?

DORIS: I didn't think it was college.

MITCH: At least, I could get in, if I applied. Can you make the same claim, Miss Doris-I-flunked-out-of-trade-tech-Milano?

DORIS: At least, if I was smart enough to get in, I'd go. I wouldn't spend the rest of my life doing construction and working part time at this dump just so that I could pay my rent.

MITCH: I like construction work. Where else do they pay you to build up your muscles and get a tan? As for this place, where better to meet loose women?

DORIS: And you were trying to tell me that you went on a mission.

MITCH: Best eighteen months of my life.

DORIS: I thought missions went two years.

MITCH: They do--unless you get caught going places without your companion. Missionaries have to travel in pairs. It's the eleventh commandment. Look it up.

DORIS: They sent you home for going somewhere alone?

MITCH: Naw. They sent me home because of where I went.

DORIS: An X-rated movie?

MITCH: A motel. (He flashes a photo) That's Felicia. She was worth it all, even the pounding her husband gave me.

DORIS: You were on a mission for your church, and you slept with a married woman? Who are you: Jim Bakker?

MITCH: I didn't actually sleep with her. I did try to talk her into running away with me. Her husband used to beat her.

DORIS: So, you decided to bag your mission, because some married wench wouldn't run away with you?

MITCH: I only went, because there was a girl over here, who wouldn't let me touch her, until I'd given two years of my life to the family cause. Of course, it didn't hurt that it was my family's cause, too. I don't think that my parents had actually ever wanted to claim me, until the day that I was standing in the airport, in my geek haircut and my Mr. Mac suit, grinning like an idiot, and promising to take Italy away from the Catholics. Funny thing is, I meant it. I was even convinced that I had a chance at converting the Pope, if I could just weasel my way into the Vatican, after mass some Sunday--a monumental task, that wasn't made any easier by my first companion, who taught every child in our district to chant, "The Pope smokes dope." In English, of course, so they didn't know what they were saying.

DORIS: You convert anybody?

MITCH: Dozens of people.

DORIS: Sleeping your way to conversions?

MITCH: Interesting concept, but no. I was sincere as hell, when I first got there.

DORIS: Then the girl dumped you.

MITCH: Married some guy, who'd been back from Japan for two weeks. They always send the dweebs to the Japan mission. It's a definite pattern. Anyway, her infidelity wasn't what did me in. I considered her Dear John letter to be a test of my resolve and converted four people the week I got it.

DORIS: So, why aren't you Norman Mormon, now?

DORIS: With Felicia?

MITCH: With myself. We were in this apartment that had a balcony that over-looked the street. There were these hookers, who lived in the apartment across the street, and we'd sit out on the balcony--my companion and I--and harass them--you know, tell the guys they were with: "You're number seven, tonight. You're going to catch something, dude. Think it over." Anyway, this one night, after the hookers had closed up shop, and my companion had gone back inside, I just sat out there, listening to the traffic. It was dark and quiet, and all of the sudden, I was thinking. It took awhile for me to realize exactly what it was that I was doing, because I wasn't used to it. They keep you pretty busy, if you grow up Mormon. Your whole life is structured and programmed--and if some freak occasion comes up, when you do have to think--which is rare--you're still not actually on the hook, because all you have to do is look up the revealed word that covers such an occasion and follow it.

DORIS: What if there isn't any?

MITCH: Then, you go to your Bishop and get some. So, anyway, there I was, in the dark, thinking, and this question started to form. Took me awhile to recognize it, because it was just a feeling, at first--an uneasiness--but finally, it was there and I had to ask it: Are you happy? The answer came back a resounding, "Fuck no!" Then I asked myself, "How the hell can you tell these people that they have to be like you to be happy, when you're a miserable son of a bitch? In fact, your parents are miserable. Most of the people that you know are secretly miserable." I couldn't do it, after that. I couldn't do the presentation and pretend to believe it. Can't sell happiness, when you don't have any in stock.

DORIS: So, what are you selling, now?

MITCH: The only philosophy that I subscribe to, at present, is that no one should ever tell anyone else what to do--except at work: ring up my beer!

MITCH: If I wanted that, I would have stayed a missionary. I wrecked more lives than Elizabeth Taylor. Those people were happy, before they met me. They had family. They had tradition. I took that away from them. And what did they get in return? Salvation? What's it worth, if it costs you everything you love?

DORIS: They were free to unconvert.

MITCH: Once you've betrayed everything that you ever thought you believed in, you can't go back.

DORIS: You mean, you can't. Elisha enters, from the outside. She is wearing a wash-n-wax T-shirt and is obviously depressed. You're going to help me close?

ELISHA: I told you I would, if you took my shift.

She puts a tape into the cassette player.

DORIS: Everybody says that, but nobody actually does it.

MITCH: Elisha always does what she says. It's a character flaw.

DORIS: So, did he come to see you?

ELISHA: Oh, yeah.

Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb' starts to play and Elisha concentrates on listening to the song.

DORIS: Details! Details!

ELISHA: He came over. We talked. He kissed me. He left. End of story.

DORIS: I knew it!

MITCH: So, was this a platonic kiss, or did he slip you the tongue?

ELISHA: I haven't even seen him in three days.

MITCH: That's probably a good thing. You don't want to end up in the second circle of hell with me.

DORIS: I thought Mormons didn't believe in Hell.

MITCH: Dante can be pretty convincing--although I have to confess that I mostly read him for the laughs.

DORIS: I don't see what's funny about being damned.

MITCH: Well, when I end up in the second circle, you can come visit me and find out.

ELISHA: (in a wry tone) That's where the souls, who've given into their passions, get blown around in a scorching wind for eternity.

DORIS: But Mormons don't believe that, right--that there's a hell?

ELISHA: I do.

She listens to the music.

MITCH: That stuff'll kill you.

ELISHA: Well, when it does, make sure my parents get to sue.

MITCH: Had a nightmare, didn't you?

ELISHA: I've solved that problem. I've quit sleeping.

DORIS: (as she puts condiments in the freezer) I would, too, if I dreamed about ax murderers.

MITCH: (to Elisha) Call me, when you guys finish up. I'll give you a ride home.

DORIS: Just what she needs: Jack the Ripper as a bodyguard. (She starts to dismantle the hamburger machine.)

ELISHA: I'm okay.

MITCH: Call me, when you get home, then.

DORIS: Why would she want to hear anything that you'd have to say, after midnight?

MITCH: (to Elisha) Don't keep me waiting by the phone, all night.

ELISHA: Oh, I'm sure that's what would happen, if I didn't call.

MITCH: (as he exits) You better call.

DORIS: God, he almost acts like he cares, but we all know that isn't possible.

ELISHA: I just wish that he didn't have so many dangerous habits.

DORIS: Mitch? He's harmless. Turn that crap off. It's too depressing.

ELISHA: What do you want to hear?

DORIS: Anything but that. (As Billy Idol's 'Endless Sleep' starts to play) Or Billy Idol. What did you do, rob Mitch's collection?

ELISHA: He loaned me a few tapes.

DORIS: And you consider him a friend? God only listens to country, you know. (Doris starts to clean the hot-dog machine. Elisha turns off the tape and starts to wipe the counters.) Please tell me that you're not this bummed over a guy. He can't possibly be worth it.

ELISHA: It's not a guy. It's kids.

DORIS: Rewind?

ELISHA: I can't have kids. I found out a few months ago, but I didn't believe it, until a week ago.

DORIS: What happened a week ago?

ELISHA: My fifth second opinion.

DORIS: I'd love not to be able to have kids. I'd get off the pill. God, it bloats me up. And I get like constant PMS.

ELISHA: I was promised kids.

DORIS: By who?

ELISHA: My Patriarchal Blessing.

DORIS: You take that seriously?

ELISHA: Mine makes it kind of hard. It says that I'll see angels and talk directly to God.

DORIS: (crossing herself) Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. That is totally Satanic.

ELISHA: It also promises me the desires of my heart.

DORIS: And you don't think that sounds like something 'Psychic Friends' would say?

ELISHA: Maybe that's why it was so hard not to believe it.

DORIS: So, where does Ian fit into all of this? Is he like totally set on having kids, or what?

ELISHA: I don't even know if Ian's what I want, anymore.

DORIS: That is the first sensible thing that you've said, all night.

ELISHA: I could use the heavenly advice part, right now, though.

The phone rings.

DORIS: Don't answer it. Only perverts call, after close.

ELISHA: It could be Ian.

DORIS: Like I said...

ELISHA: (into the phone) Wash-n-Wax, may I help you? This is she. Not, until the afternoon. No, five o'clock would be fine. Can you tell me what this is about, though? Well...okay. I'll be there.

DORIS: It was Ian. He wants to see you.

ELISHA: It was my Bishop.

DORIS: It's one o'clock in the freaking morning.

ELISHA: He's been trying to reach me at home, all evening.

DORIS: So, he tracked you down? Isn't that like an invasion of privacy, or something?

ELISHA: He's 'worried about me'. He wants me to come see him, tomorrow.

DORIS: That is too weird. You have to tell me what he says.

ELISHA: He probably wants me to teach Sunday School, or something.

DORIS: They make you do that?

ELISHA: I could say no, but I'd probably go to outer darkness for it-the Mormon version of hell.


Scene 4

Bishop Nelson's office. A small wooden desk and a wooden swivel chair. A folding chair sets, in front of the desk. There is a picture of Christ in Gethsemane on the wall, behind the desk. Nelson, a middle-aged man in a gray business suit, is seated behind the desk. Elisha, wearing a conservative dress, is seated in the folding chair, in front of the desk. Nelson is unassuming and sincere. He has a pad of paper, on which he doodles, or makes notes, from time to time.

NELSON: So, you won't teach the class, even if I tell you that I strongly feel that you need to do so?

ELISHA: There are too many things I'm confused about, right now.

NELSON: Have you been praying regularly?

ELISHA: A half-hour in the morning, a half-hour at night.

NELSON: (genuinely perplexed) I know that you're in Church every Sunday, and that you pay your tithes and offerings, still...the scriptures tell us that despair comes because of iniquity. Are you certain that there isn't something you haven't told me?

ELISHA: I've just got some things to work through.

Bishop Nelson is lost in thought and toys with the pamphlets, on his desk, one of which is a discourse by President Benson, directing Mormon women to return to the home and raise children, rather than pursue careers.

NELSON: I was about to counsel you about a few general things, but I've just had a strong impression about what it is, specifically, that you need to do.

ELISHA: (distrustfully) Impression?

NELSON: What if I told you that this is not an opinion, or a feeling, but that it is a message, directly from the Lord?

ELISHA: (guarded) What?

NELSON: As your Bishop, I'm entitled to revelation on your behalf, and I've received a strong impression that what you need to do is to have children.

ELISHA: Children?

NELSON: The problems that you've been wrestling with are the result of focusing, too closely, on yourself and your own needs. I can promise you that through becoming involved in the lives of your children, and concentrating on them, your own problems will become more manageable.

ELISHA: If we're not allowed to mock God, then why is he allowed to mock us?

NELSON: (disturbed, by her response) I may not seem like the most likely person in the world to have this calling, but, since I've been in this office, I've had experiences that have truly humbled me. (He comes close to tears.) Not a day goes by that I don't find myself in awe that the Lord should have seen fit to entrust me--fallible as I am--with the care of some of his most precious children. But I can assure you--and I'm speaking from experience--that I know His voice, when I hear it.

ELISHA: I wish I did.

NELSON: "...whether by his own voice, or by the voice of his servants..."

ELISHA: I can't have children. It's medically impossible.

NELSON: (after a pause) Well, with God all things are possible.

ELISHA: I can't believe something just because I want it to be true.

NELSON: I can testify to you that this promise is real. You've been promised great things, Elisha. And I must warn you that Lucifer knows it. He knows how valuable you are. He'll do everything in his power to prevent you from receiving those promises.

ELISHA: I'm pulling double shifts, today. I really have to go.

NELSON: Before you do, I want you to understand that I stand behind this inspiration. It comes from God.

ELISHA: Then God help me.


Scene 5

Elisha's apartment. The apartment is dark and someone is hammering on the door. Elisha stumbles in from the bedroom, pulling on a robe, then opens the door and is surprised to find Ian there.

IAN: I happened to be in the neighborhood, so I though I'd stop by.

ELISHA: At two in the morning?

IAN: I knew that story wasn't going to hold water. Can I come in?

ELISHA: Well...

IAN: I've been a jerk, again, haven't I?

ELISHA: I am kind of confused.

IAN: I always do this. Every time someone gets to me--really gets to me--I have to push them away. It's like I can't stand to let anyone close.

ELISHA: I thought I was the one with the intimacy problem.

IAN: You have this way of...I don't know what it is about you, but I find myself telling you things--everything. There's this incredible freedom. No matter how bad it is, or how weird, or humiliating, it doesn't matter. I can say it to you, because I know that it won't change anything. You're not going to freak out, or stop loving me. I've never had that kind of acceptance, before.

ELISHA: And, yet, it's bad somehow?

IAN: It's like I'm programmed for this distancing routine that goes into automatic pilot, any time I start to get close to somebody. Elisha, if I can't lick this thing, how will I ever have a normal life? Wouldn't it be really sad, if I could never get close to anybody?

ELISHA: It's your choice.

IAN: It's easier for you. You're not afraid of being alone. I've had so many dead-end relationships. I find someone who could never like the person I am, then waste all of my energy, pretending that I'm who she wants me to be, even when I despise who that is.

ELISHA: Why not find somebody who likes you as you are?

IAN: I've been doing this for most of my life. I don't even know if I believe in God, but I sure tow the party line, because that's who my old man expects me to be. If works could get you into heaven, I'd be there, and he's still not happy with me. He knows I'm a fake. Now, see. This is exactly what I'm talking about. I just admitted that I may not believe some of the most important things in your life, and you didn't bat an eye.

ELISHA: It's not like this is the first time I've heard it.

IAN: Did you hear what I said? I'm a fake. Even though I've decided that the whole system is the product of a mass hallucination, manipulated by a bunch of half-senile old men in business suits, I stay, because I'm nothing outside of who everyone else expects me to be.

ELISHA: And I should hate you for that?

IAN: Who do you turn to, when you can't even go to God?

ELISHA: I haven't completely given up on God, yet.

IAN: But, if you did, you'd survive.

ELISHA: I'm not so sure.

IAN: Wouldn't it be great if there were somebody you could go to, who could just tell you what to do with your life?

ELISHA: You haven't met my Bishop.

IAN: He told you what to do?

ELISHA: Have kids.

IAN: (as if he is insinuating something) Really?

ELISHA: Before you decide to be helpful, you should know that I can't. I would have told you, before, but I didn't think...

IAN: Really? I mean, he really said that? And he knows you're single?

ELISHA: I'm pretty sure he meant for me to get married, first.

IAN: But, did he say that?

ELISHA: Stop it.

IAN: Didn't it make you wonder...?

ELISHA: (after a pause) What if somebody promised you everything that you'd ever wanted and all you had to do to get it was the one thing that you couldn't make yourself do?

IAN: You could try.

ELISHA: I'm not talking about sex. If God wanted me to die for him, I could do that, in a second. But, I'm not strong enough to be disillusioned for him.

IAN: So, you think that this is some kind of test--that you have to somehow prove to God that you believe all this crap? You're taking this way too seriously.

ELISHA: I can't connect with Him--not the way that He wants me to.

IAN: Connect with something else, then.

ELISHA: I don't want to talk about this, anymore.

IAN: That's fine with me. We don't have to talk.


Scene 6

The carwash, the following afternoon. Doris is making popcorn.

DORIS: How do you 'almost' sleep with somebody?

Elisha comes out of the crew room, carrying a load of ice for the coke machine. She is also carrying an empty bucket.

ELISHA: Could you say that a little louder? I don't think the customers in the parking lot caught the last few words.

DORIS: Relax. There's not a customer in sight.

ELISHA: At least, he's not doing his 'distancing routine'. We're having dinner, tonight.

DORIS: Where?

ELISHA: My place.

DORIS: The queen of the microwave is going to cook?

ELISHA: I'm a great cook. I just hate to do it.

She stands on the empty bucket, then empties the full one into the machine. Ian enters and goes to the counter, without seeing Elisha.

IAN: Can you break a hundred? We just put twenty of it in the tank.

ELISHA: We?

IAN: Uh, yeah. Linda and her sister invited me to go water-skiing, this weekend.

DORIS: You know somebody, who carries around hundred dollar bills?

ELISHA: I thought I did.

IAN: I'm only going to be here for a few months, Elisha. There are a lot of people, who expect me to do things with them, while I'm here--old friends, roommates, you. I sat down, last night, and went over my schedule and...it's only the weekend. I'll be back Tuesday. I'll call you.

ELISHA: Is this your way of saying dinner's off?

IAN: Well, yeah, I guess it is, since I won't be here. You're not mad, are you? This just sort of came up. It's not like I was planning it, before.

ELISHA: I'll tell you what: give me a call, when you get back--if I happen to fit into your schedule--and I'll check and see, if you still fit into mine.

Elisha exits into the crew room and slams the door.

IAN: (protesting her behavior) Elisha!

DORIS: So, you're Ian.

IAN: I guess she's sort of upset with me.

DORIS: I can only hope.

A horn honks outside.

IAN: Could you tell her, I said good-bye?

DORIS: And I thought Mitch was wrong about you.

IAN: Should I know that name?

DORIS: Oh, yeah. You should. He's a total stud and he's after Elisha.

IAN: Maybe I should let him have her.

DORIS: Maybe you just did.

IAN: Tell her I'll call her, when I get back.

DORIS: I'm telling her 'good riddance.'

The horn honks, again, Ian hesitates, then exits.


Scene 7

Nelson's office. Nelson is seated behind the desk. Elisha is seated in front of the desk. She is wearing a white blouse that buttons down the front and a moderately short jean skirt.

NELSON: Just how involved did you and this young man get?

ELISHA: (without looking up) I think the correct term would be 'heavy petting.'

NELSON: Which means?

ELISHA: (evasively) What it means.

NELSON: Words can have different meanings for different people.

ELISHA: He had his hands a lot of places that they shouldn't have been.

NELSON: And how did you feel about that?

ELISHA: Are you asking me if I feel bad about it?

NELSON: I'm asking how you felt about it, at the time.

ELISHA: Well, I wasn't screaming at him to stop, if that's what you're getting at.

NELSON: Did you enjoy it?

ELISHA: I'd rather not talk about it.

NELSON: So, you can do it, but you can't talk about it?

ELISHA: I came in here, because I'm supposed to confess, not because I wanted to talk about it.

NELSON: But, if you're ashamed to talk about it, then perhaps that might give you some clue as to how you really feel about your actions. Are you planning to marry this young man?

ELISHA: No.

NELSON: Then I'm a little puzzled as to why you would consent to getting involved with him in this manner.

ELISHA: I've never done anything like this before and it won't happen again.

NELSON: Perhaps if I spoke to this young man...

ELISHA: He's got his own Bishop.

NELSON: He's LDS? Does he hold the Priesthood?

ELISHA: Technically.

NELSON: Oh, you don't have to worry about this incident costing him his Priesthood, but he does need to have someone talk to him about his responsibilities.

ELISHA: I don't want to be his responsibility.

NELSON: You should have thought about that before.

ELISHA: I didn't actually sleep with him. I'm still a virgin.

NELSON: (trying to joke) Technically.

ELISHA: I won't see him, again.

NELSON: Have you thought about what we discussed, the last time that you were here?

ELISHA: I think that I need to focus on breaking off this relationship, right now.

NELSON: I hope you're not basing that decision on a moment of weakness. More couples than you know have had similar setbacks. It's not something that would keep you from the Temple, at least, not at this point.

ELISHA: Are you saying that I should marry him?

NELSON: I'm saying that, in light of our previous discussion, I'm not sure that you should rule him out--unless there's someone else that you've been considering? (Elisha shakes her head. You've been promised great things; I'd think you'd want to do everything in your power...

ELISHA: (as she rises) I don't have that kind of faith.

NELSON: You do, or you wouldn't have received the promises.

ELISHA: Tell that to Samson.

NELSON: We're talking about your soul, Elisha. You can't afford to be a Samson.

She exits.


Scene 8

Scene shifts to Elisha's apartment, later that evening. Mitch enters, carrying a VCR, a duffel bag, and a portable TV, which he starts to hook up. He is wearing tight jeans, cowboy boots, and a trendy dress shirt. He has the pilot's jacket, over one arm. Elisha follows him into the room, carrying a stack of videos and a pizza. She is still in the outfit that she wore in Nelson's office.

ELISHA: You don't have to baby-sit me. I just needed to borrow the television.

MITCH: I'm hiding out. There's a lady--and I'm not using the term loosely; I'm using it incorrectly--who's got my doorway under surveillance.

ELISHA: What did you do, this time?

MITCH: It's what I didn't do.

ELISHA: You found out who her husband was?

MITCH: I just didn't feel like being me, for once. It'll pass, but until it does, you're stuck with me.

ELISHA: I could get stuck with worse.

Mitch takes a bottle of wine and a pair of goblets out of the duffel bag.

MITCH: Relax. It's nonalcoholic. Yours is, anyway.

He takes out a six-pack of Coors Lite.

ELISHA: Are you sure you're not here because you think I'm about to commit Hari Kari over Ian?

MITCH: Eeu. Why would I want to watch that?

ELISHA: You know what I mean.

MITCH: I don't have any dark ulterior motives. It's just that you're the only woman that I can relax with. And you were acting a little over the edge at work.

ELISHA: I'm way over. That's why I had to see Nelson, today.

MITCH: You didn't sleep with him?

ELISHA: Nelson?

MITCH: The "I" word.

ELISHA: I got treated like I did.

MITCH: So, basically, Nelson has no idea how naive you are.

ELISHA: I knew what I was doing.

MITCH: Sure you did.

ELISHA: I might not be up to your standards...

MITCH: I have no standards. And if I did, I'd hope you wouldn't aspire to them.

ELISHA: What did you rent?

MITCH: Lost Boys.

ELISHA: Isn't that...

MITCH: What?

ELISHA: Oh, forget it. Just put it in.

MITCH: You're upset, because it's R-rated?

ELISHA: I'm not upset. Put it in.

MITCH: It's only R by mistake. There's no sex in it--not that that would bother you, with all your vast experience.

ELISHA: Shut up and put the movie in.

MITCH: You've never seen an R-rated one, have you?

ELISHA: We're not supposed to, remember?

MITCH: Why is it that you always have to do what you're told?

ELISHA: I'm going to watch the movie.

MITCH: Ohhh. Move over, Delilah.

ELISHA: Shut up. (Mitch stretches out on the floor, with his back against the couch, and opens a beer, then puts his arm around Elisha.) Does this mean you're planning on taking advantage of the situation?

MITCH: (as he lightly kisses her cheek) I'd never take advantage of you.

He takes off his shirt and throws it into a corner.

ELISHA: When you said I was naive, exactly how naive did you mean?

MITCH: Watch the movie.

Lights fade. When they come up again, the closing credits are rolling, on the movie, in the VCR. Elisha is sitting, on the floor, in front of the couch; Mitch is lying on the couch, rubbing Elisha's shoulders. Half of the six-pack is empty and scattered over the floor. Elisha has a half-empty wineglass, in her hand.

ELISHA: Are you sure this was nonalcoholic? I'm so tired.

MITCH: Me, too. Too many turn arounds, this week.

He kneels and starts to clear up the beer cans.

ELISHA: I can get that in the morning.

MITCH: (as he toys with her hand) I don't want to go.

ELISHA: Are you drunk?

MITCH: On three beers? And I'm not trying to pull anything, either. I just don't like to leave you alone like this.

ELISHA: I'm always depressed. It's genetic.

MITCH: You'll have nightmares.

ELISHA: I'm used to them.

MITCH: You don't have to be.

Elisha looks at him, considering. Mitch sits on the couch, with his back against the arm and his feet on the cushions, then holds out his arms.

ELISHA: Put your shirt on.

MITCH: Have I ever touched you?

ELISHA: Define touched.

MITCH: Come here.

ELISHA: (as she gives in and sits) I've got to be crazy.

MITCH: Stop worrying. I've never been anybody's first and I sure as hell wouldn't start with you.

Mitch rocks her and then lightly kisses her cheek.

ELISHA: What was that?

MITCH: Part of the cure.

ELISHA: You never used it before.

MITCH: You've never been this bummed before.

ELISHA: So, what would the cure entail, if I were suicidal?

MITCH: Go to sleep.

Mitch starts to hum 'Silent Lucidity'. Lights fade. When they come up, Elisha and Mitch are asleep on the couch. It is early morning and still dark. Someone is pounding, on the door. Elisha tries to get up, but Mitch, who is still asleep, pulls her closer. Elisha slides free and stumbles toward the sound. She opens the door to reveal Ian, standing in the doorway. He is wearing a jogging suit.

ELISHA: I thought you were at the lake.

IAN: Can we talk?

ELISHA: What time is it?

MITCH: Four-thirty.

IAN: Did I come at a bad time?

MITCH: It's four-thirty: you tell me.

ELISHA: We were watching videos. You want to come in?

IAN: I don't think so.

MITCH: Aw, come on. Next flick up is 'Sex, Lies, and Videotape.'

ELISHA: You're not helping.

MITCH: Was I supposed to?

ELISHA: I thought that was why you were here.

MITCH: You're not that naive, remember?

ELISHA: This is Mitch. He's a friend from work.

IAN: I just came by to tell you that I didn't go to the lake, because I could tell you were upset, and I thought, maybe we should talk about it.

ELISHA: Now?

IAN: I didn't think you'd have company.

MITCH: Hey, I'm out of here.

ELISHA: You don't have to go.

IAN: I can go.

ELISHA: (to Mitch) Could I just talk to him?

IAN: You need his permission?

MITCH: I'm not her father figure.

He starts to exit.

ELISHA: Mitch...don't forget your shirt.

MITCH: I won't need it, where I'm going.

ELISHA: Mitch!

Mitch exits.

IAN: What a fun guy.

ELISHA: I should go talk to him.

IAN: Why? (beat) I guess I deserve this. But I warned you that I wasn't a very good risk for someone's heart, right now.

ELISHA: You're as good a risk as you want to be.

IAN: Maybe that's the trouble--I don't know what I want to be.

ELISHA: Or you don't want me to know.

IAN: You don't think I've been leading you on? Because that wouldn't be accurate. My behavior has been appropriate to my feelings.

ELISHA: I'm not sure that's comforting.

IAN: We have something real, here. I don't know why I'm trying so hard to screw it up. Or why you are. I've heard about this Mitch guy.

ELISHA: What he does with other people is his own business.

IAN: What was he doing with you?

ELISHA: I'm not even going to dignify that.

IAN: He had his shirt off.

ELISHA: It's hot in here.

IAN: (kicking one of the beer cans) He always drink, when he comes over? (Elisha does not answer.) That's real smart, Elisha. What happens, if he gets out of control?

ELISHA: Mitch is never out of control.

IAN: What's that supposed to mean?

ELISHA: Nothing.

IAN: Well, excuse me, for being attracted to you.

ELISHA: That's not what I meant.

IAN: You think this guy cares about you and I don't?

ELISHA: No. I don't think anybody cares about me.

IAN: I just don't want you going to the wrong person for...whatever. I mean...well, I'd hope you'd come to me.

ELISHA: At the lake?

IAN: I thought I explained about me and intimacy.

ELISHA: Oh, yes. You explained.

IAN: I came back--made a real effort--and you didn't even wait for me.

ELISHA: I've waited for you for five years, Goddamnit!

IAN: (amused) Goddamnit? Did you just say Goddamnit?

ELISHA: Don't laugh at me.

IAN: (still disbelieving) Goddamnit? You really are upset about this. (Elisha ignores him and starts to pick up the room. Then, as if it is a fact that he is understanding, for the first time) I've been putting you through hell, haven't I?

ELISHA: And back again. And back again. And back...

She picks up Mitch's shirt and then balls it up and holds it.

IAN: (as he puts his arm around her) What are we doing, here?

ELISHA: You figure it out, then let me know.

IAN: You really don't know? (Elisha shuts her eyes, as he kisses her forehead.) You know.

He kisses her again, as he pulls Mitch's shirt out of her hands and throws it into a corner.

ELISHA: Please let this be what you really want.

Ian kisses her, then turns the stereo on. As he turns down the lights, 'Comfortably Numb' starts to play.

IAN: Well, this is kind of depressing.

ELISHA: Leave it on. I like it.

Ian shrugs then drags Elisha to the floor, and closes his eyes as he kisses her. Elisha's neck hits the coffee table, hard. Ian opens his eyes, just long enough to see what has happened.

IAN: (still kissing Elisha) Sorry.

His kisses become bites and he is handling her roughly. Elisha tries to squirm away, but Ian drags her back, then hooks his elbows under her knees, pulling her knees up to her shoulders, as he kisses her. Elisha gives a cry of pain.

IAN: (unconcerned) Did I hurt you?

ELISHA: I don't care if you hurt me. I don't care, any more.

Ian starts to tear off Elisha's clothes, popping buttons, then reaches up to turn off the lights. The music continues to play, for a moment, then slowly fades. When the lights come up, Elisha is curled up, in the rattan chair, wrapped in a blanket and holding Mitch's shirt. The music is off and a shower is running. The water stops, then Ian enters, dressing. His hair is wet.

IAN: You're still upset?

ELISHA: Go away.

IAN: I could stay. We could keep doing this. But it wouldn't be fair to you.

ELISHA: I said: go away.

IAN: I thought it was better to tell you now than to let you go on thinking there was something more for us.

ELISHA: (very low) Get out of my house.

IAN: I'm the one who should be feeling bad. You're the best friend that I've got, and now, because of things I can't control, I'm probably going to lose that.

ELISHA: I said: get out.

IAN: You're not going to flip out, are you?

ELISHA: Get out!

IAN: I'm going. I'm going. Let me get my shoes on, will you?

He puts his shoes on, in a hurry, and exits. Elisha watches him go, then locks the door and turns on the cassette player. Billy idol's 'white wedding' starts to play. Elisha turns up the volume, then notices the remainder of Mitch's six-pack. She opens a can and takes a deep drink, but has to spit the last part out. She plugs her nose and takes another drink, then notices the duffel bag. She dumps out the contents, then finds a half empty bottle of tequila, which she picks up.

ELISHA: You never fail me, do you Mitch?

She pours the rest of the beer into a glass and mixes it, with the contents of the liquor bottle, then takes a deep breath and starts to drink, as quickly as she can, trying to ignore the fact that it is burning her throat.


The Carwash

Mitch is behind the carwash counter. He is wearing a Wash-n-Wax T-shirt, but has a motor-cross jacket over it. He is listening to Def Lepard's 'Love Bites' on a cassette. Doris enters from outside, carrying a towel. She is also in a Wash-n-Wax T-shirt.

DORIS: I thought this was Elisha's shift.

MITCH: She no-showed.

DORIS: You think she's still upset about Ian?

MITCH: Don't know; don't care.

DORIS: I thought she might have talked to you. You guys seem so buddy-buddy, lately.

MITCH: Yeah, well, the world ain't always what it seems.

DORIS: Shot you down, huh?

MITCH: You're so perceptive for someone so incredibly wrong. (Elisha enters from the outside. She is wearing Mitch's shirt and moves as if she hurts, everywhere.) I covered for you. I hope it was worth it. (After he gets no response) Nice shirt.

ELISHA: I grabbed the first thing. If you need it, Doris can run out and find me something.

She comes behind the counter and starts to make coffee.

MITCH: Looks better on you than it does on me. Keep it.

DORIS: Excuse me, but how much exactly did I miss, here?

MITCH: (to Elisha) What's wrong?

ELISHA: Nothing.

MITCH: Then why did you just put regular coffee in the decaff pot?

ELISHA: Because you're bothering me!

MITCH: (as he tried to touch her shoulder) Hey. (Elisha winces and pulls away.) What the hell...

ELISHA: (trying to look at her back) What?

MITCH: You're bleeding.

ELISHA: I'm sorry. I'll take it home and soak it in some ice water...

MITCH: I don't care about the fucking shirt. (beat) That son of a bitch raped you.

DORIS: Ian?!

ELISHA: He didn't rape me.

MITCH: (as he examines Elisha's bruised neck) If you've got any more bruises like that, you sure as hell weren't making love. What happened to your face?

Elisha touches her face, as if trying to feel what he is looking at.

DORIS: I'm calling the police.

ELISHA: It's just a rug burn.

MITCH: Oh, I see. He dragged you across the fucking carpet, but he didn't rape you.

ELISHA: No. He didn't.

MITCH: So, there wasn't any penetration, or anything?

ELISHA: Would you shut up?

MITCH: I want to know what happened, after I left.

ELISHA: I slept with him, okay?

MITCH: Voluntarily?

ELISHA: I didn't tell him no.

MITCH: Did you tell him yes?

Elisha leans on the counter and puts her head in her hands.

MITCH: (to Doris) Take her shift and call somebody in for cars.

ELISHA: (raising her head and starting to remake the coffee) I need the hours.

MITCH: You need to see a doctor.

ELISHA: I don't need to see anybody.

MITCH: Then this isn't a very good place to be. (He tries to take her arm.) Come on. Let me take you home.

ELISHA: (as she pulls away and drops the coffeepot, shattering it) I am not going home!

MITCH: Then you're coming to my place.

ELISHA: (as she starts to clean up the mess) I'm sorry. I just have this headache.

DORIS: I'll get it. You go ahead and go. I'll call Tony in to take my place outside. I'm on a half, anyway. You go.

ELISHA: I've got coffee all over me.

She exits, into the crew room.

MITCH: When I find that son of a bitch...

DORIS: Oh, that's all she needs, right now: you in jail.

MITCH: God! I'm going to fuck this up. That's what I do. I fuck things up.

DORIS: (as she mops up the coffee) You okay, in there?

ELISHA: (from the crew room) Fine.

MITCH: (as he heads into the crew room) Jesus.


Act II

Scene 1

At the carwash a month later, Doris is behind the counter. Mitch comes in, with an inventory sheet, and starts to stock boxes.

DORIS: Elisha still crashing at your place?

MITCH: If you'd seen my bathroom, you wouldn't have to ask.

DORIS: She cleans when she's depressed. Her shift, yesterday? She did the windows and the burger machine. And the freezer. Nobody cleans the freezer.

MITCH: I sure as hell don't.

DORIS: Maybe she should see somebody--a shrink, or something. I mean, it's been like a month...

MITCH: I'll suggest it.

DORIS: Think she will?

MITCH: She's started talking to me.

DORIS: You're different. She trusts you.

MITCH: Go figure.

DORIS: Shouldn't she?

MITCH: I'm a stupid shit and I have no idea how to handle this.

DORIS: She's still alive.

MITCH: So much for cheap miracles. She cleaned the freezer?

DORIS: I caught her pulling weeds, yesterday.

MITCH: Jesus. I bet Frank's ecstatic.

DORIS: He mentioned a raise--and you know what a historical event that is.

MITCH: She act like she cared?

DORIS: Not really. But she perks right up, when you come to pick her up.

MITCH: No shit?

DORIS: God, you're such a Beevis. Why do you think she's staying with you?

MITCH: Because I'm not Ian.

DORIS: Exactly.

MITCH: If the Pepsi guy comes in, there's a check under till two.

Mitch exits.


Scene 2

An hour later in Mitch's apartment. A basement living room. The walls are covered with posters of motor-cross racers, river rafters, snow-boarders, mountain climbers, etc. There are two doors: one leading to the outside; one leading to the kitchen. There is a stereo system (large enough to be freestanding) in the center of the room, next to which, hundreds of tapes are set up in an open display. There is a TV, set on a crate, in front of a futon. The futon is usually made up into a couch. A narrow ledge runs around the room, twelve inches from the ceiling, and Mitch has used it as a showcase for a diverse collection of beer cans and liquor bottles. There are several "bookcases", made out of crates, which contain paperback novels (fantasies and westerns) and magazines, catering to various action Sports. Elisha has just finished cleaning the living room as Mitch enters.

ELISHA: I know you said to leave it the way it was, but my shift doesn't start for another four hours and I couldn't stand to sit.

MITCH: Looks great.

ELISHA: (as Mitch heads for the kitchen) I just waxed in there. It's Friday night. I though you'd be out...

MITCH: You've got to stop this. I mean, I realize that women are cleaner than men and that the place was a dump, but...the freezer?

ELISHA: I just defrosted it.

MITCH: I'm talking about work. (Elisha doesn't know what to say.) I'm no shrink, but I think there's something going on, here, and considering that nothing's clean enough, lately, I'd hazard a guess that you don't think you are, either.

ELISHA: I just can't stand to sit around.

MITCH: Milano thinks you ought to talk about it. (pause, during which Elisha does not answer) Well?

ELISHA: (in a self-accusing tone) I told him that I didn't care if he hurt me.

MITCH: That doesn't make it okay that he did.

ELISHA: The really stupid thing is that this wasn't even about Ian.

MITCH: I never should have left, that night.

ELISHA: It wasn't about you, either. (After a pause) I had a dream about Jesus, once. He said my name and it was the most...I climbed up, in his lap--just like a little kid, only I wasn't. I was an adult, it was just natural to...pretty lame, huh? It just...it seemed pretty real, at the time.

MITCH: Maybe it was.

ELISHA: I can't feel it, any more.

MITCH: Not because of Ian?

ELISHA: No, it was before that. It was like I made God up, just so that I could pretend that there was somebody--somewhere--who loved me, and when I didn't have that any more--nothing else seemed to matter. (Mitch puts his arm around her.) If I was a better person, I guess I wouldn't have let it matter, so much.

MITCH: Whether, or not, somebody loves you always matters. Trust me.

ELISHA: I thought you told me not to.

MITCH: Maybe you shouldn't. But, I'd never hurt you, even if you didn't care if I did.

ELISHA: I'd care.

MITCH: (as he puts both arms around her and kisses her head) Then I won't. (Elisha pulls away. Mitch holds her, but not forcefully.) Shhh. It's all right. You always get to say 'no' to me.

ELISHA: What if I say 'yes' sometime?

MITCH: (as he kisses her, again) Then I promise that you can change your mind--at any time.

ELISHA: I haven't, yet.

MITCH: (still kissing her) Don't let me hurt you. Don't you dare not tell me.

ELISHA: I'd tell you.

MITCH: You've got to tell me more than that. You've got to tell me what feels right.

ELISHA: (as he kisses her, again) That does.

Mitch picks her up and carries her to the futon. They continue to kiss. Elisha reaches over to turn off the light. Mitch prevents her.

MITCH: Don't. Look at me. Keep looking at me. (He kisses her, as he slowly unbuttons her shirt and slips the sleeve over her shoulder then kisses her neck. Elisha runs her fingers through his hair and over his back.) God, that feels good.

ELISHA: Really?

MITCH: You don't even know. What tape do you have in?

ELISHA: I don't remember.

Mitch reaches over and turns on the tape. 'Never Tear Us Apart' starts to play.

MITCH: Liar.

ELISHA: Okay, I knew what it was.

Mitch kisses her, holds her face in his hands and smiles at her, then kisses her again. Lights fade.


Scene 3

The music continues to play, then changes into Martina McBride's 'Heart Trouble', as the scene shifts to the carwash, the same evening. Doris is wearing rubber gloves and a rubber apron as she dismantles the hamburger machine. Ian enters and looks around.

IAN: This is supposed to be Elisha's shift.

DORIS: Come by to finish her off?

IAN: I don't know what she told you, but knowing Elisha, she probably got the whole thing twisted around into some personal kind of rejection.

DORIS: (sarcastically) God, she can be so stupid.

IAN: I need to talk to her.

DORIS: You can need all you want: she called in sick.

IAN: She's not answering her phone. I've been calling for weeks.

DORIS: Maybe she isn't home.

IAN: I thought you said she was sick.

DORIS: (as she takes the grill, from the burger machine, into the crew room) Of you.

IAN: (as he follows her) She needs to hear what I have to say.

DORIS: You're not allowed in here.

Ian moves back to the doorway.

IAN: Could you give her a message--let her know I came by, at least?

DORIS: (from the crew room, as Ian starts to enter) Uhhh...naw. I'm about to drop this in acid. Come any closer and you could get splashed.

IAN: The last time that I saw her, I said some things that I didn't mean, at least, not in the way that she probably took them, and I need to see her, before she does something she'll regret.

DORIS: Like get rid of you?

IAN: This is serious.

DORIS: Elisha's fine.

IAN: You can't tell with Elisha. She hides it.

DORIS: I can tell and she's fine.

IAN: I still need to see her.

Bishop nelson enters, wearing a suit and tie. He seems to feel nervous and out of place.

DORIS: I've got a customer.

NELSON: Does Elisha Tanner work here?

DORIS: Uh...yeah.

NELSON: Can you tell me when she'll be in again?

DORIS: Sorry. We're not allowed to give out that information.

NELSON: Not even to her Bishop?

IAN: You're her Bishop?

NELSON: You know Elisha?

IAN: We're aquainted.

Doris makes a face of disgust.

NELSON: Then maybe you can help me. I've been trying to reach her. She hasn't been in Church for several weeks, and that isn't like her. I'm wondering if there's something wrong?

DORIS: Elisha's fine.

IAN: She's had some problems, lately.

NELSON: I'm aware of that.

IAN: It probably would be in her best interests if you reached her. You might call her boss. He's L.D.S. I'm sure he could help you out.

NELSON: Now, there's a suggestion. Thank you, young man. (to Doris) Could I have your employer's number?

DORIS: The last person to give out Frank's number got fired.

NELSON: It would be a sin to fire you for helping a Bishop.

DORIS: I wouldn't know. I'm Catholic.

IAN: His office number's in the phone book.

NELSON: Well, thank-you, again. I didn't catch your name.

IAN: Ian. Ian Andrews. If you do reach her, could you ask her to call me.

NELSON: (as if trying to recall something about Ian) You seem like a nice young man. Are you and Elisha dating?

IAN: I'm just a friend who's worried about her.

NELSON: She's a very nice young woman.

IAN: Yes, she is.

DORIS: Scum.

IAN: (of Doris) I've been pestering her for information. Seems there are a lot of things that she doesn't want anybody to know, (with a pointed look at Doris) especially not a Bishop, probably.

NELSON: We can be intimidating.

DORIS: (to Ian) Are you buying something, or just loitering?

IAN: I'd better go, before I ruin her evening. It was nice meeting you, though. And you will tell Elisha to call?

NELSON: If I can manage to track her down.

Ian exits.

DORIS: If you do find Elisha, do her a favor and don't mention that scumbag.

NELSON: Does she have a problem with him?

DORIS: No. Oh, no. He's just...well; he's kind of a jerk.

NELSON: He seemed nice enough.

DORIS: Whatever. We close in like ten minutes.

NELSON: And here I am in your way.

He turns to go and then notices the book of Mormon on the counter.

Is that a Book of Mormon, there, on your counter?

DORIS: Huh? Oh, yeah. I guess it is.

NELSON: Have you been reading it?

DORIS: Me? I don't read.

NELSON: You ought to read the scriptures.

DORIS: I go to Mass, every week.

NELSON: Do you know what that book contains? The fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

DORIS: I believe in Jesus.

NELSON: Then, you ought to read that book.

DORIS: Maybe I will, sometime.

NELSON: Why don't you do it, tonight?

DORIS: I'm closing.

NELSON: I can promise you that what that book contains is worth a few sleepless nights. Once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down.

DORIS: Then I'd better not pick it up, tonight.

NELSON: You're a nice girl. You read that book.

He exits. Doris picks up the book, hesitates, and then opens it. She reads a verse or two, then shrugs and tosses the Book back on the counter. Lights.


Scene 4

Mitch's apartment. The clothes that Mitch and Elisha were wearing are now on the floor. Mitch is sitting up on the futon, which is now a bed, and is holding Elisha, who is sleeping. She stirs and he tightens his hold. She opens her eyes.

MITCH: I called you in sick. I thought you could use the sleep.

ELISHA: You don't have to hold me so tight. I'm not going anywhere.

MITCH: I know I didn't hurt you, but I didn't hurt you, did I? You are okay, with this?

ELISHA: Are you kidding? Now, I know why people think it's such a big deal.

MITCH: Right answer. He kisses her. So, what are you thinking?

ELISHA: Nothing.

MITCH: Come on, tell me.

ELISHA: Nothing.

MITCH: God, I sound just like a woman. The second you have sex, they want to know what you're thinking.

ELISHA: Maybe they're insecure about it.

MITCH: So, you want to know what I'm thinking?

ELISHA: Do I?

MITCH: It might scare you.

ELISHA: Then don't tell me.

MITCH: It wasn't bad--just possessive.

ELISHA: I was thinking that I didn't want to leave.

MITCH: Then move in.

ELISHA: Really?

MITCH: Please.

He kisses her.

ELISHA: (barely audible) Okay.

MITCH: What?

ELISHA: Okay. But because I want to be with you, not because I want to stay away from Ian. Mitch pulls her close. Are you crying?

MITCH: Naw, I don't do that shit. Elisha looks him in the eyes, sees that he is crying, and touches his face, wiping away a tear. Okay, okay. It's just been one hell of a night, okay? Elisha kisses his eyes. He kisses her. You mean it, don't you?

ELISHA: Know what I dreamed, tonight? You were holding me--just like we are, now--and that was it. That was the whole dream. I never dream about people holding me. I never have good dreams.

MITCH: So, this was a good one?

ELISHA: It's the only dream I ever want to have.

He kisses her. She kisses him back.


Scene 5

Scene shifts to Elisha's apartment, the next day. There are boxes everywhere. Elisha enters, from the bathroom, holding a home pregnancy test. A second test is open, on the coffee table. Elisha puts the test she is holding down beside it then paces the room.

ELISHA: This is supposed to be impossible.

She hears Mitch coming and clears away the evidence, but not quickly enough to avoid having Mitch see her throwing something away, as he enters.

MITCH: Packed, yet?

ELISHA: I've barely started.

MITCH: (as he hands her a yellow rose) Before you get too excited, they brought them into the store, this morning. I didn't think of it, all on my own.

ELISHA: At least, you thought of it.

MITCH: What's wrong?

ELISHA: You are sure, about me moving in?

MITCH: I never bought anybody a rose, before. I was even worried about whether or not you'd like it. I couldn't pick a color. I kept polling customers about their preferences, and I wasn't fooling around. You'd have thought it was a ring, or something.

ELISHA: Mitch...I bought two tests. I took them both.

MITCH: (as he stares, into the garbage can) You're going to make one hell of a mom. Let's get your stuff moved.

ELISHA: Shouldn't we take some time to think about this?

MITCH: You know, most customers thought I should get you a red one. I picked yellow, because red--that's passion--and you can always find somebody to sleep with. Yellow's for friends. Friends last.

ELISHA: I still need some time.

MITCH: I'll pick you up, tomorrow, then. Soon as my shift ends. He hesitates, then hugs her. If you need anything, before then, you call me. She nods. Anything.

Mitch exits. Elisha picks up the scriptures, from the coffee table, opens them, closes her eyes, and picks a verse, then reads aloud.

"More are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife?" What the hell are you doing to me?

Lights


INTERMISSION


ACT III

Scene 1

Doris is at the register. Elisha enters, from the bathroom, wearing a Wash-n-Wax T-shirt, and puts her head down, on the counter.

ELISHA: Sorry. The onion smell always gets to me.

DORIS: If Frank finds out that you're here, especially like this...

ELSIAH It's Thursday. He has Scouts.

DORIS: Someone could tell him.

ELISHA: I didn't tell Ian about Mitch.

DORIS: Why did you even talk to him, at all?

ELISHA: It's his baby.

DORIS: How can you know that?

ELISHA: I was two weeks late, before I ever slept with Mitch.

DORIS: That proves zip. I'm late, all the time.

ELISHA: I'm always down to the minute.

DORIS: I hope you weren't stupid enough to tell Mitch that. Elisha doesn't answer. That explains why he's been playing "Love Bites" and drinking, all week.

ELISHA: I couldn't lie to him.

DORIS: Well, you can't, now.

Elisha motions an apology and runs, back into the restroom to throw up. Mitch enters, from the outside. He is wearing a wash-n-wax T-shirt.

DORIS: What happened to being gone an hour?

MITCH: I thought Elisha agreed to cover for me.

DORIS: That was four hours ago. It doesn't take four hours to pay an over-due parking ticket.

MITCH: (as he leafs through the paper work) Why hasn't anybody checked out, all day?

DORIS: Maybe because you left, without doing yours, so nobody else had the figures.

MITCH: Like Elisha couldn't have filled mine in.

DORIS: Maybe she didn't feel like it.

MITCH: That bitch! All I need, right now, is to get fired.

DORIS: So, now, it's her fault that you tarded out?

MITCH: Goddamn her! She could have, at least, checked herself out.

Elisha enters, from the bathroom.

Why didn't you tell me that she was still here?

DORIS: So you could pretend you're not a butthead? I'm on break. If you'd ever check the schedule, you'd know I had cars, today.

She waves her towel at him.

ELISHA: I was going to check out when your shift was officially over, so you'd get credit for being here.

DORIS: She's still saving your butt, even though she has to run in back to puke, every five seconds.

MITCH: (to Elisha) I got held up. I didn't know you were sick.

DORIS: When hasn't she been?

MITCH: Shut-up, Doris.

DORIS: What is your problem?

MITCH: I just spent four hours and five hundred bucks that I didn't have, clearing up a fucking bench warrant.

DORIS: You shouldn't let those tickets go.

MITCH: I never claimed to be a responsible citizen. That was never my scene.

DORIS: So, where'd the money come from--rent?

MITCH: This month and next's.

DORIS: Good thing Elisha's still got her place.

MITCH: Yeah, it is.

ELISHA: Nobody's asking you to take care of me. I decided to have this baby. That makes it my responsibility.

MITCH: And you're so good at being responsible.

ELISHA: I really don't appreciate being called a bitch, but I could have taken it a lot better, if you'd said it to my face.

MITCH: God, I didn't mean for you to hear that. I was just blowing off steam. I've had a shitty day.

ELISHA: I don't think it was about the kind of day you had.

MITCH: I've told you how I feel.

ELISHA: You've told me what you think you should feel, or what you think I want you to feel.

MITCH: Maybe I don't know how I feel!

ELISHA: Maybe I ought to stay at my place, for awhile. I'm not exactly a lot of fun, right now, and you obviously don't need any more stress in your life.

MITCH: It's real nice of you to clean everything up for me, Elisha.

ELISHA: I don't need the stress, either.

MITCH: Nice touch. Make it easy.

ELISHA: Fuck you!

MITCH: Looks like we both have a few emotions, lurking below the surface.

ELISHA: Maybe I'm sick of making things easy on everybody! I'm the one that this is happening to.

MITCH: It's happening to me, too, Lis.

ELISHA: It doesn't have to be.

MITCH: Yeah? Well, if there's a way out, I haven't thought of it.

ELISHA: I've thought of several.

MITCH: Don't do anything stupid, Lis. I'll get my shit together. I promise. Just don't...you look hammered. Go home and get some sleep. Elisha hesitates. Stress isn't good for the baby. I've been reading up on things.

ELISHA: (as if she is giving up) Fine.

She exits.

DORIS: (as she hits Mitch's arm) It's not like she planned this, you terd. She's not even supposed to be able to have kids.

MITCH: Yeah, well, God works in mysterious ways, doesn't He?


Scene 2

Scene shifts to Elisha's apartment. Elisha enters and looks around. Mitch enters a moment later, carrying Elisha's suitcase.

MITCH: I feel like such a shit.

ELISHA: Isn't this what you want, really?

MITCH: I need to know what you want.

ELISHA: I can do my own unpacking.

MITCH: Why don't I just do the right thing and marry you?

ELISHA: Because two wrongs don't make a right?

MITCH: Who says it would be wrong?

ELISHA: I don't need you to rescue me, okay?

MITCH: It was just a thought. A stupid one, maybe...

ELISHA: It wasn't stupid.

MITCH: No?

ELISHA: It's just...that's not something that you do just because you have to--at least, I don't.

MITCH: So, this is what you really want?

ELISHA: I don't think that what I want matters anymore.

MITCH: Well, if you need anything...aw, you don't need me.

ELISHA: It's not that I don't. It's just...

MITCH: It's that you don't.

He exits.

ELISHA: Not if that's the only reason you're here.

She checks the window and sees that he has not heard her, then notices his shirt, which is folded and cleaned and setting on the coffee table. She grabs it and starts after him, then clutches the shirt close and sinks to the floor, where she sits, for a moment, rocking, then holds back a sob, as she picks up the Book of Mormon and opens it. She does not repeat Mitch's ritual. She merely reads a verse.

"Who am I that I can withstand God?"


Scene 3

Elisha is in the papasan chair, holding Mitch's shirt, as if it were a security blanket. Ian is lying on the floor.

IAN: Have you told your parents about this, yet? (Elisha does not answer.) If you're thinking about hitting my parents up, think again. My old man's just waiting for an excuse to cut me off. This one would be a doozy. And Mom, well, she'll do whatever it takes to protect her baby boy. (He gets no response.) I have to be honest, here. I'd really resent having to fork out a check every month, for some kid whose life I wasn't part of, except for an occasional up-date letter.

ELISHA: I'm not asking you for money.

IAN: The Government will come after me.

ELISHA: Not if they don't know who you are.

IAN: You're not going to your Bishop? He'd make me marry you, you know. And I don't want to marry you. You could force me into it, but that's not what you want, is it?

ELISHA: No, Ian. I don't want to marry you.

IAN: Then it's best that you don't bring me into it.

ELISHA: I'm sorry I told you, at all.

IAN: No. I needed to know. (pause) I haven't been very understanding, have I? I guess I'm still in shock. You don't look too good.

ELISHA: Morning sickness. Apparently, I've got the twenty-four hour version. They're giving me shots, but if I don't start keeping food down, then I have to go on an IV.

IAN: What will you do about work?

ELISHA: Frank laid me off, already--until I can quit throwing up.

IAN: There are laws against laying women off just because they're pregnant.

ELISHA: I doubt they apply to car washes. I would have had to have quit, anyway. There's too much lifting. I started spotting a few days ago.

IAN: You might lose it?

ELISHA: Not if I can help it.

IAN: You probably don't believe this, but I'd be sad, if you did. I'd be relieved, too, but it would be kind of depressing to think that a part of me was dead. That's why I want you to reconsider adoption. I'd hate to think that a part of me was missing out on the necessities of life.

ELISHA: This baby will have whatever it needs.

IAN: How are you planning on paying for the birth? You obviously don't have maternity insurance, unless you were stringing me along about what your doctor said.

ELISHA: I don't have insurance.

IAN: What if you keep having complications?

ELISHA: Then I could die. Or worse, it could get really expensive.

IAN: You laugh, but I'm liable.

ELISHA: I'm not laughing.

IAN: Be practical, for once in your life. If you give the baby up then someone else will pay for everything.

ELISHA: I'd never give my baby up for money.

IAN: It's not just money. Which would be worse: wondering if your kid was happy, or knowing he wasn't?

ELISHA: I happen to think there's a third choice.

IAN: Come on, Elisha. Do you even know how to be happy? I'm not knocking you. I don't know how to be happy, either, but at least, I'm not going to pass my failure on to my kid.

ELISHA: Not this kid, anyway.

IAN: That's fair. I am going to have a family, some day. What's this going to do to them?

ELISHA: I'm sorry, Ian, but I'm up to my limit on people that I can care about in this situation, and your imaginary future family isn't even on the list. In fact, you're not on the list. It's me and the baby, from here on in. Everybody else is tough out of luck.

IAN: Sure feels that way. Well, what are your monthly payments? Let's get some figures. I'd rather pay as I go than get hit with a lump sum.

ELISHA: How about if I just hit you and call it even?

IAN: You've got to pay rent. Hey, don't you have an uncle, who has a cabin, near here?

ELISHA: It's a two-hour drive.

IAN: But it's got all the modern conveniences?

ELISHA: Except a phone.

IAN: It's got heat and running water, doesn't it?

ELISHA: What's your point?

IAN: You think he'd let you stay there? It'd save on rent, and you'd have your privacy.

ELISHA: You mean: you'd have yours.

IAN: I think it's perfect.

ELISHA: Right. And when I go into labor, I can just squat in the bushes and bite on a piece of tree bark.

IAN: You'd have your car. Labor takes hours, especially the first time around. You'd have time to get to the hospital. And there are other cabins up there. I'm sure somebody would...

ELISHA: I could die, Ian. Even if I stay right here, where all the doctors are, I could still die.

IAN: Well, don't think that you have to do this for me. Even the Church will let you have an abortion, if your life is in danger.

ELISHA: I'm having this baby.

IAN: Which leads me to believe that you think of this baby as a means to manipulate me.

ELISHA: And how exactly would I do that, considering that you don't give a damn?

IAN: Believe me, I give a damn. But the only way that I could do this the way that I want to do it is if I could prove that you were an unfit mother and I doubt that I could do that--in court, anyway.

ELISHA: Speaking of courts, I'll be having one, soon.

IAN: A Church court won't let you keep the baby.

ELISHA: They have no say.

IAN: Then why the hell are you telling them?

ELISHA: I have to know that I had the guts to face them--that I'm not leaving, just to avoid all the...

IAN: So, you are leaving the Church?

ELISHA: I haven't decided, yet.

IAN: But, if you do decide to do that, then there wouldn't be any reason to involve me--not by name, anyway.

ELISHA: I won't give them your name.

IAN: Why don't you give them someone else's? Somebody, who's a nonmember, so they won't even have to check it out? Somebody like that Mitch guy?

ELISHA: You're something else.

IAN: I don't think you understand the repercussions, here. I work for the Church Historical Society. We're not just talking about my religious life. We're talking about my future--my career.

ELISHA: What about my future?

IAN: You like misery. (She gives him a look of disgust.) If you didn't, you would have dumped me, years ago.

ELISHA: And I guess you didn't have anything to do with the fact that I didn't?

IAN: Poor Elisha. The whole world's out to get you, isn't it?

ELISHA: I have a few friends. You're just not one of them.

IAN: You're going to tell. I'm going to have to talk to somebody. They're always harder on you, if they have to make you come in. Damn it, Elisha! How could you do this to me?


Scene 4

Elisha is seated, in front of Nelson's desk. Nelson is seated behind it.

Nelson I've thought it over and I just don't think that we can help you.

ELISHA: I'd pay it all back. I'm looking for a job...

NELSON: Who could hire you? You're not just pregnant; you're ill.

ELISHA: I've paid tithing all my life. I've given hundreds of hours to service projects. Doesn't that count for anything?

NELSON: We don't serve, expecting to get something tangible back. If I gave you the money...

ELISHA: Loaned me the money.

NELSON: The Church is not in the business of dispersing loans. If I gave you the money, I'd be helping you to make a decision that I feel is wrong--that the Church feels is wrong. Now, it's only natural to want to love the baby...

ELISHA: I could be giving my life for this baby.

NELSON: You could give it more. You could give it a future.

ELISHA: This baby is a miracle--my miracle.

NELSON: Did you ever stop to think that someone else might be praying for this miracle, too--that you might be an instrument...

ELISHA: I can't even stand the thought of a God, who would use me like that.

There is an uncomfortable pause.

NELSON: I think I should give you some time to think about this, before I decide on a course of action. I'm not sure that you understand the seriousness...

ELISHA: I understand that the choices I've made will affect me and the baby, for the rest of our lives. I have to be there to help it through that--I have to be the one to take care of it.

NELSON: But you can't, can you? You need help--from the Church, or the State, or somebody.

ELISHA: I can always go to Mitch and Doris.

NELSON: Have you prayed about this decision?

ELISHA: I've never been more sure of a decision in my life.

NELSON: (as he starts to write something, on a slip of paper) I don't usually change my mind--not when the guidelines are so specific, about a situation--but, for whatever reasons, I feel inspired to support your decision. (He hands her the paper.) Brother and Sister Roundy. They've had a college student living with them, but she's heading home for winter quarter, and they've got an extra room. They've offered to let you stay with them, until the baby's born.

Elisha does not know what to say.

To tell you the truth, I wasn't going to give you their names, but after talking with you, I strongly feel that you should follow your heart in this matter.

ELISHA: Thank-you.

NELSON: And I still feel that I should wait, before taking any official action. You can continue to take the Sacrament, if you feel worthy, until such time as I decide whether, or not, to hold a court.

ELISHA: I have to be honest. I'm not sure that I still believe in any of this.

NELSON: That's why I don't want to cut you off. I think you need the Spirit, right now. Brother Roundy's a good man. He was the Stake President for years, and Sister Roundy's the Relief Society President. That's how she and I came to discuss your situation.

ELISHA: I'll give her a call. Thanks.


Scene 5

Garth Brooks' 'Friends In Low Places' is playing on a cassette in the carwash. Doris is at the register. Mitch is leaning on the counter. He is drunk. A four-pack of wine coolers is set on the counter beside him.

MITCH: I'm telling you, this time, it's love.

DORIS: I don't want to hear about it.

MITCH: I'm moving in with her.

DORIS: This week.

MITCH: Jealous? There's someone for everyone, Doris. Isn't that the fucking party line? Stand by me and all that shit?

DORIS: You could have at least helped her move.

MITCH: If Ian wants her, he can move her.

DORIS: She moved in with some old geezers. But they know all about the baby and everything. You know Elisha. She's stupid about telling people stuff.

MITCH: Nice hit! For your information, I offered to marry her. She wasn't interested.

DORIS: Gee, I can't understand why not. It's not like you're an alcoholic, or anything.

MITCH: It wasn't the booze.

DORIS: Why don't you get off it and find out? She needs you, right now.

MITCH: Life's a bitch.

DORIS: Get out of here, before I have them haul your ass in for public intoxication.

MITCH: Wouldn't be the first time.

DORIS: Or the last.

MITCH: (as he opens one of the coolers and takes a drink) Probably not, but then, I've got friends in low places. I'll be okay. (He leans over the counter.) By the way, that is the only country song ever recorded that was worth listening to.

DORIS: You know, I actually thought you loved her.

MITCH: (as he throws the wine coolers off the counter) I'm not fucking capable of love!

He glares at Doris, then takes another drink from the bottle in his hand, and starts for the door.

DORIS: Hey! Get back here and clean this shit up, asshole!


Scene 6

The Roundy family room. A couch and chair, covered with afghans; a television, a Franklin stove, and built-in bookcases, full of religious materials. Elisha is watching television. Inez Roundy, a thin, nervous woman, is knitting an afghan. Norman Roundy, a former lumberjack, is reading the bible. He sighs, loudly, gets no response, sighs again, still gets no response, then sighs and holds his head, in his hands, and moans, before rising, abruptly, and stomping out of the room.

INEZ: Norman doesn't approve of television.

ELISHA: (as she turns off the set) I'm sorry. I didn't know.

INEZ: Oh, no! You watch whatever you want. (She lowers her voice) It's been so nice, having someone around to leave it on for me. I can't stand it, when it's just Norman and me. I'm a religious person, but I think that there's a time and a place for everything. If Norman had his way, we'd do nothing but read the scriptures and go to the Temple. He doesn't even like to visit his children, let alone mine. And have the News in the house? Not unless he can use it to start the fire.

ELISHA: What's wrong with the News?

INEZ: Norman thinks that all the news we need is in the scriptures. Truth is, he can't stand for anyone else to disagree with him.

ELISHA: So I've gathered.

INEZ: Norman's been a laborer all his life--logging, mostly, up in the back-country. I taught English, for thirty-two years. Needless to say, our world views tend to differ. But it's no use trying to meet him half way. It's all, or nothing, with Norman.

ELISHA: So, you just let him have his way?

INEZ: That just there was nothing. You should see him, when he really gets to puffing. Besides, I believe that Norman is here to teach me patience.

ELISHA: And endurance, no doubt.

INEZ: I'm not sealed to Norman, you know. This marriage is for time, only. My eternal companion is my second husband, Ezra.

ELISHA: What about your first husband?

INEZ: Oh, Harvey. He was the love of my life and the father of my children, but he never would convert. Ezra was a good man, though. He was quite a bit older than me. Couldn't have sex. Prostrate cancer and some other trouble. (She looks at Elisha.) I know it's none of my business, but I just...I'd very much like to know.

ELISHA: Go ahead. Really.

INEZ: There are so many girls, nowadays, who get into this predicament, and I've just never, for the life of me, understood. Were you pressured, or threatened, or...

ELISHA: It's kind of a long story.

INEZ: But you didn't like it?

ELISHA: Well...you have to be with the right person, but...

INEZ: It's beyond me. I don't know why you'd do it, if you didn't have to. Norman wants it, all the time, and it's really more than I can stand. He thought, because I was so much younger than his first wife, that I'd be more receptive. She was quite frigid, from what I understand, in spite of their ten children--so of course, I can't let Norman think that it's him, but really, I just...

ELISHA: You didn't like sex with your first husband?

INEZ: Well, I was so in love with Harvey that I don't think I minded, as much. And I did want children. But it was never something that I could say I actually enjoyed. The way they squeeze their eyes shut and huff and puff and grunt like animals and don't even know you're there. (she whispers) Sometimes, I wished I wasn't there, having to be a witness to it.

ELISHA: It wasn't like that with all your husbands, was it?

INEZ: Well, as I told you, Ezra had that prostrate problem--had it long before we married. He used to just hold me, sometimes. We'd sit in bed, and he'd hold me, and we'd talk. That was nice. But Norman. I can't talk to Norman.

NORMAN: (from outside the room) Inez? You coming along to bed?

INEZ: I thought I'd make Elisha some cocoa, first.

NORMAN: (still from outside) Well, if she needs you to, I guess I could wait up.

Inez busies herself with her knitting. Lights dim. When they come up again, the Roundy family room is dark and the mantel clock is chiming four a.m. Norman Roundy enters, pulling Elisha. He forces her to sit on the couch, then selects a video, from the many on the shelves.

NORMAN: This is an excellent one. Brother Packer gives a preface that is truly inspired.

ELISHA: Can't I watch it, in the morning?

NORMAN: Never seen anything like the way they coddle pregnant women, these days. My grandmother had two children in a covered wagon, and was up driving the team, by the next afternoon.

ELISHA: She probably didn't have toxemia.

NORMAN: Just a fancy word for swollen feet. Think you're so smart--so educated--but you don't even know how to save your own soul.

ELISHA: And you think sleep deprivation's going to do it?

NORMAN: The word of the Lord will. (He picks up a set of scriptures and reads.) "Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent...that same spirit, which doth possess your bodies, at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body, in the eternal world."

ELISHA: What do you want from me?

NORMAN: "The Lord dwelleth not in unholy temples!"

Elisha gives up on communicating with Norman and tries to curl up on the couch and sleep.

NORMAN: (standing over her) You got to give that baby up.

ELISHA: That's not in the scriptures.

NORMAN: Ha! Ever read Deuteronomy? "...and she shall be his wife, because he hath humbled her..." That's the law of the Lord! You ought to have had the decency to marry that fellow, and if you won't, or he won't, then you got no business keeping that baby.

ELISHA: I prefer John the Beloved to Moses: God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but...

NORMAN: The devil can quote scripture.

ELISHA: Apparently so.

NORMAN: Ohhh! It's pride going before the fall with you. There's no way around that. But just you take care, missy. Just you take care. You may eat your sour grapes and like it, but it's that baby will suffer. Sins of the fathers visited, unto the fifth generation! The baby will pay. But don't you take my word. I'm just an ignorant servant. You listen to the word of the Lord.

He turns on the video.

Woman's sobbing voice: (coming from the VCR) He's marrying some other girl--and he's never even touched her!


Scene 7

Elisha's apartment is empty, except for the couch. Ian is scrubbing the baseboards. Elisha enters, carrying a bucket, and cleaning supplies. She is shocked to see Ian.

IAN: Just wanted to make sure that you get your deposit back. If you check with the Credit Union, you'll find out that I paid off your car loan. I've been feeling like I've abandoned you--and the baby. I just...I wanted to do something.

ELISHA: Like pay me off?

IAN: I'm trying to be responsible. However things happened, we've got a child on the way, and we have to learn how to deal with that--how to do the right thing.

ELISHA: I thought the right thing was to give the baby away.

IAN: You wouldn't survive that. I know you wouldn't.

ELISHA: Maybe it's not important that I survive it.

IAN: Maybe what you need is another option. Or just some support, while you're trying to make up your mind. How's the place you're staying at?

ELISHA: I wouldn't describe it as a supportive atmosphere.

IAN: Well, we don't have to decide everything, right now. We've got six, or seven, months. We've got time to get some counseling--sort things out--pray about it.

ELISHA: You went to see a Bishop, didn't you?

IAN: Well, yeah, I talked to him, but this wasn't his idea. He doesn't even know everything. I mean, I admitted that I slept with you, but I didn't think it was his business that you were pregnant. Not that we can't tell him. I mean, it's not like he could excommunicate us, when they told you to do it.

ELISHA: You want me to pretend that I thought I had God's permission?

IAN: Didn't you?

Elisha sits down on the couch, overcome by dizziness.

ELISHA: Sorry. I can't stand up for very long, any more.

IAN: No, that's all right. That's fine. Really. I feel like sitting down, myself. I've had a long day.

Ian lies across the back and the arm of the couch, so that he partially surrounds Elisha, then stares at her, as if he is uncertain of how to proceed.

So, what happened to your friend, Mitch? I bet this little bombshell surprised him.

ELISHA: He's living with some woman. I haven't seen him in weeks.

IAN: So, you really are alone, huh? (She stares at him.) I just wish you had somebody, that's all. (After a pause) If I stay here any longer, you're going to get kissed.

ELISHA: Then you'd better go.

IAN: That didn't sound very sincere.

ELISHA: What do you want from me? I'm not Wonder Woman.

IAN: (as he traces her cheek with his fingers) I want to be here for you. I know how much you need somebody.

ELISHA: Do you?

IAN: (as he slides down onto the couch) Let me give you a hug. I can handle it; I promise. You look like you could really use one.

ELISHA: I don't think you understand how much this really scares me. I know that you think I want to die and everything, but I don't, and I don't want to be alone...

Ian kisses her. She turns her face away. He strokes her hair and whispers, against her ear, still kissing her.

IAN: This kind of puts the whole pregnancy thing back into perspective. This is what it came out of--how we feel about each other. (He continues to kiss her.) I wasn't going to do this. I really was just going to hold you. It's just...I've missed you so much.

ELISHA: And you really want to help me keep the baby?

IAN: I want to keep you both.

ELISHA: (as she gives in and lets him kiss her) I can't believe that I could be this stupid.

IAN: Oh, you're not stupid. You're not.

He continues to kiss her.


Scene 8

The Roundy family room. Elisha is on the couch, in a bathrobe. Inez is sitting in a chair, in her nightgown. Norman is standing, in front of the VCR, which has just finished playing a tape.

NORMAN: What did you think of that video?

ELISHA: I really need to get some sleep.

INEZ: (agreeing) Norman, it's five A.M.

NORMAN: I've been up, this time of the morning, every blessed day of my life and the Lord has blessed me for it.

INEZ: But you've never been pregnant, have you, Norman?

NORMAN: The Lord gives strength to those who seek it. (To Elisha) What did you think of that video?

ELISHA: It was old.

NORMAN: So is the word of the Lord. That don't change the truth of it.

INEZ: She's been to her Bishop, Norman. She's handling it.

NORMAN: Not if she's fixed on keeping that baby, she isn't.

INEZ: The Bishop supports her.

NORMAN: I was Stake President for twenty-three years, counting here and back in Oregon. I've worked in the Temple, sixteen more. Don't tell me the word of the Lord.

INEZ: But it's his stewardship.

NORMAN: It's not right! My boy's a decent, God-fearing, Priesthood holder. His wife's the sweetest, purest, little thing that you ever laid eyes on. They've got that big, empty house. He's a good provider. She can stay home with a child. And-- (he turns on Elisha and shouts) they've got more love between them than a self-centered sinner like you can possibly imagine.

ELISHA: Probably so.

NORMAN: What gives you the right? What gives you the right to deprive them of the blessing of the Lord? What is it you want? Is it money? Is that it?

He rummages through the bookcase, until he finds a large manila envelope, which he throws at Elisha.

Forty thousand dollars. Cash!

INEZ: Norman, the doctor says she's not to be excited. She's not to be out of bed, even.

NORMAN: (to Elisha) Take it!

ELISHA: I don't want...

NORMAN: It's not right! Father's off in Hawaii, with some other girl. Left this morning. I heard it right from the Bishop. He ain't going to marry you, if that's what you're thinking. You've messed up your own life. You got to give this child a chance. What chance can it have, with you? Huh? What chance?

ELISHA: I don't know.

INEZ: She could lose the baby, Norman. Lose it, right here!

Norman stands over Elisha, then throws up his hands and rushes out of the room.

ELISHA: I couldn't marry Ian.

INEZ: Of course you couldn't, any more than you could marry that boy with the earring.

ELISHA: Mitch?

INEZ: Is that his name? He came by, once while you were sleeping. Goodness! I was only teasing about your marrying him--a wild-looking thing like that.

ELISHA: If he comes by, again...

INEZ: Why would you want that? You've got a baby to think about, now. You don't want to lose custody, or some such, because you're consorting with some biker-type. These things happen, you know.

ELISHA: He's not a biker-type.

INEZ: I don't think you ought to be having anybody over. Doctor said to get all the rest you can, poor little swollen thing. I wouldn't think you'd want to see anybody, when you look this unwell.

ELISHA: He's just somebody to talk to.

INEZ: Haven't I been a good listener?

(Elisha turns her face to the pillow.)

Oh, you poor dear thing. You're such a little bit of a girl. I just don't know how you'll stand it. I just don't know.


Scene 9

Mitch is behind the counter at the carwash, stocking cigarettes. Bon Jovi's 'I'd Die for You' is playing, on a cassette. Elisha enters.

ELISHA: I could pretend to be surprised, but Doris told me you were here.

MITCH: I don't have a phone, any more. Not in my name, anyway.

ELISHA: She told me that, too.

MITCH: Fuck.

ELISHA: Maybe I shouldn't have come.

MITCH: No, it's all right. It's good you came. I quit drinking.

ELISHA: Really?

MITCH: Ah, well, you know. I was meaning to, before. It's too expensive.

ELISHA: And Sherrie probably doesn't like it.

MITCH: I don't give a flying fuck what Sherrie likes.

ELISHA: Umm...I just...I wanted to...I don't know...I thought, maybe, you weren't okay. I'm glad you are.

MITCH: I'm not.

ELISHA: You quit drinking. And Doris says that Sherrie's really pretty.

MITCH: What the fuck did she tell you that for?

ELISHA: It's true, isn't it?

MITCH: Yeah. She's pretty.

ELISHA: Everybody wants me to give up the baby. I've been thinking...(She starts to cry) maybe they're right. It's just...I hope I die.

MITCH: God! Don't talk like that.

He holds her and she starts to sob.

ELISHA: If I don't, I'll kill myself.

MITCH: You're not going to kill yourself. And you're not going to give up the baby. (He sits in one of the foam chairs and then pulls Elisha into his lap. She regains her composure.) Tell me about the baby.

ELISHA: What do you want to know?

MITCH: How big it is. What it looks like. Promise me you'll be okay.

ELISHA: They're worried about my blood pressure. I've got pre-eclampsia. That's why I'm swollen up like this.

MITCH: You don't look swollen to me.

ELISHA: Well, thanks, but that's not the part that worries anybody. They think I might have a stroke.

MITCH: You won't have a stroke. I won't let you.

ELISHA: My doctor will be so relieved.

MITCH: Have you decided what to name him?

ELISHA: My doctor already has a name.

MITCH: The baby, smart-ass.

ELISHA: I can't think that far ahead. If I got attached, and then the baby didn't make it...would you hate me, if I named him Mitch?

MITCH: You name him Mitch, you could end up with a little shit like me.

ELISHA: Promise?

MITCH: This kid ever gives you any grief; I'm going to kick his little ass.

ELISHA: Thank-you.

MITCH: For what?

ELISHA: Saving me. In more ways than you even know.

MITCH: You're worth saving, if anybody is.

He kisses her.


Scene 10

In the Roundy family room, the next day, Norman is snapping branches to get them ready for the fireplace. Inez enters and slaps his arm.

INEZ: You hush up that noise, before you wake her. And no more of this adoption nonsense. I'll not have you upsetting her. It isn't what Christ would do. (Norman sighs, heavily.) If she wants to keep that baby, why, then I say: let her. I've a good mind to keep them both.

NORMAN: Have you taken leave of your senses?

INEZ: This is my house. My Ezra left it to me. If I want her to stay here, she will--stay here and raise her baby, if I want.

NORMAN: You're mad, woman. She'll leave soon as the creature's born.

INEZ: Not if you don't chase her off with your dragging her out of bed, at all hours, and your stomping and sighing.

The doorbell rings. Inez answers it.

MITCH: (from the doorway) Is Elisha awake?

INEZ: Uh...well...she's not here.

MITCH: She's not in the hospital?

INEZ: Oh, dear. You mean to say...I thought she would have told all her friends.

MITCH: Told them what?

INEZ: Well, she went home, dear.

MITCH: Home?

INEZ: Well, yes dear--to Nebraska. Her father sent a ticket. She got on the plane, last night.

MITCH: Where in Nebraska?

INEZ: Well, I don't...Norman? Did you catch the name of the town? (Norman does not answer.) I'm sure she'll let us know, eventually.

MITCH: You don't have the phone number--on an old bill, or something?

INEZ: I'm afraid we've thrown the old ones out.

MITCH: Do you know her father's name?

INEZ: I've only known him as Brother Tanner, I'm afraid. Why don't you leave us your number and if she happens to call...

MITCH: I don't have a number. I'm living in my truck.

INEZ: Well, there is a possibility that we won't hear from her. You may have heard that Norman was upsetting her. She did just seem to want to get away from everything. I'm afraid that may include all of us.

MITCH: She didn't leave a note, or anything?

INEZ: I'm afraid she didn't.

MITCH: God. I need a drink.

INEZ: Oh, no. No, dear. You don't need that.

MITCH: Oh, yeah, I do.

He exits. Inez watches out the window. Elisha enters, a moment later, in a robe.

ELISHA: I thought I heard Mitch.

INEZ: Just Norman and me. Now, get back down, until supper. I'll bring it to you, in fact. You don't look well.

ELISHA: (peering out the window) Where's my car?

INEZ: Norman put it in the garage for you. Since you won't be driving it, for awhile, he thought it would be out of the way, there--protected from the weather.

ELISHA: Oh. Well, thank-you.

INEZ: He was glad to do it, weren't you, Norman?

Norman glowers, but says nothing.


Act IV

Scene 1

Two months later, Elisha is on the couch in the Roundy living room, propped up on some pillows, holding the phone.

INEZ: I don't see why you have to call his parents. You're fine, here. You don't need anything from anybody else.

ELISHA: Bishop Nelson's going to call them, if I don't. I figured I'd give Ian one last chance to break it to them, first.

INEZ: I wish they'd all just leave you alone, Bishop Nelson included, sometimes. You don't need this sort of stress.

ELISHA: Did you ever find that sonogram picture that was on my nightstand?

INEZ: I don't know why people set so much store, by those silly things. Can't see anything, but a bunch of swirlies.

ELISHA: It reminds me of someone.

INEZ: The no account father, you're trying to call?

ELISHA: (as she dials the phone) No. Someone else. I really want it back.

INEZ: I'll search, again.

ELISHA: (into the phone) Hi, is Ian in? A friend from school. Yes, I am still out here. No, I didn't get one. Yes, it is kind of sudden. No, I probably couldn't make it, anyway. But thank-you. No, no message. Good-bye.

INEZ: What is it?

ELISHA: Ian's getting married. Next Friday. In the Temple.

INEZ: How could he?

ELISHA: He's Ian.

INEZ: But how could they let him?

ELISHA: I'm sure he's lying to somebody.

INEZ: (as she picks up the phone) Well, he won't be, for long.

ELISHA: Who are you calling?

INEZ: (without acknowledging the question) Is the Bishop in? Sister Roundy. Bishop? I'm sitting here with Elisha, still in shock, from what I have just been told. Well, yes. It is about that young man, getting married. You knew? But you told Elisha to call his...but how...I know you're not his Bishop, but...it's just not right. Well, who would be, then? Could I have his number please? Thank-you. I will.

She hangs up and dials again.

ELISHA: This really isn't...

INEZ: Won't even freely agree to pay child support, and yet they think they're going to...Hello? May I speak with Brother Wallace? (To Elisha, as she waits, for someone to come to the phone) I don't know how they expect you to get your testimony back, when they go and allow...Brother Wallace? Are you the Regional Representative, for the Hialeah Stake? This is Sister Roundy, the Relief Society President, in the seventh ward, out in Provo. A situation has come to my attention, involving...(to Elisha as the doorbell rings) It's probably the paper boy. Norman can get it at the back. (To whoever is at the door.) Go around, please! (Into the phone) Sorry, about the interruption... (Someone leans on the bell) Norman?! Norman! The door! (To Elisha, who has started to rise) You stay put! He can just go around the other way.

ELISHA: It's no problem, really.

INEZ: I mean it! Don't you...Norman!

Elisha opens the door and Doris pushes her way into the room.

DORIS: So! You are here.

INEZ: (into the phone) I'm sorry. I'll have to call you right back. (To Doris) Young lady...

Norman comes to the doorway, but is unseen by Inez, until his entrance.

DORIS: I saw your car at Dr. Hammond's. I knew you didn't go back to Nebraska.

ELISHA: Nebraska?

INEZ: (as she pushes Elisha back toward the couch) You really shouldn't get up.

DORIS: (realizing that something is wrong) She told us you went home.

ELISHA: (to Inez) You told Mitch that?

DORIS: I tried to call him, when I found out that you were still here, so that we could come rag on you together, but the last anybody heard, he was out in the desert, shooting doves and drinking himself to death. He quit--not just Wash-n-Wax, but everything.

ELISHA: He thinks I just left him?

INEZ: (struggling to keep Elisha on the couch) You are under doctor's orders...

DORIS: Like you care what her doctor says. You want her to die, so you can steal her baby!

INEZ: I've taken care of her! And I intend to go on taking care of her--and her baby--for forever, if that's how long they need me!

DORIS: Oh, my God.

INEZ: You will not stay in this house another minute, and take the Lord's name in vain.

ELISHA: Mitch isn't what you think. Something like this could...

INEZ: He's no good. None of them are. They can't take care of you--not like a woman can. That's why the Lord gave them more than one of us at a time, so we could care for each other--and them. Men just don't have it in them to care for things.

DORIS: (as she takes Elisha's arm) We'll find him; I promise. Let's just get you out of here.

Doris and Elisha start for the door.

INEZ: You can't take her! You can't take her away from me! You can't!

DORIS: God, you talk like you're in love with her.

INEZ: Don't you try and make something dirty out of...

ELISHA: She just can't stand to be alone with her husband.

INEZ: It's Norman, isn't it? I'll get rid of him. I've got my own money. I can take care of you. You won't have to worry about a thing. You can stay right here and play with the baby, all day. I'll cook and clean--I'll even leave you the house--anything. Just please, don't leave me. Elisha shakes her head, helplessly. Doris takes her arm and pushes her, through the door. Inez falls to her knees. Please!

NORMAN: It's for the best. She caused contention. (As Inez continues to sob) I could use a cocoa. You going to warm the milk up for me?

Inez nods assent, then runs into the kitchen, sobbing hysterically.


Scene 2

In the carwash, a few days later, Elisha is seated in a foam chair, with her feet propped up on a table. Doris is cleaning the condiment counter.

DORIS: Frank can be such a shit. I can't believe he wouldn't let me off a freaking hour early to drive you to the prenatal unit.

ELISHA: It's okay. They let me move the appointment back an hour.

DORIS: He's still a shit. Stephen says he saw Mitch up at the lake, shooting doves. Said he'd lost, like, thirty pounds, and looked like hell. I sent Stephen back up there, but...(she shrugs) I also tried to get something out of "Sherrie", but she either hasn't seen him, or doesn't want him to know you're alive.

ELISHA: I may not be, if my blood pressure doesn't come down.

Ian enters, from outside. Doris and Elisha are stunned to see him.

IAN: (to Elisha) You want to tell me what's going on? (Elisha does not answer.) I got a phone call from a mutual friend, warning me that you were on the warpath.

ELISHA: I talked to a Regional Rep, if that's what you mean.

IAN: I heard you were trying to get in touch with my fiancé.

ELISHA: I wanted to make sure that she knew what she was getting into.

IAN: If you'd called me, I could have told you that she knows the whole story. (Pause) So, why didn't you?

ELISHA: I didn't think you'd tell me the truth.

IAN: When have I ever lied to you?

ELISHA: I'm not going to give you a list of things to play stupid over.

IAN: I have a feeling that it would be a pretty short list. Elisha ignores him. So, are we going to spend the rest of our lives playing 'let's make Ian miserable'?

ELISHA: This wasn't about getting even.

DORIS: It wouldn't even come close to getting even.

IAN: You don't know the hell they put me through: three months of reading scriptures and reporting in to panel of senile old men.

DORIS: Poor baby.

IAN: (to Elisha, ignoring Doris) The last meeting I had with them, I'm shaking hands and heading for the door, when this old geezer grabs my arm and pulls me in so close that his shriveled lips are brushing my ear, then whispers something, like he's giving away Government secrets. I couldn't even hear what it was he said. And it's not like he didn't have a booming baritone, all through the court proceedings. He was whispering for effect. When I said, "What?" he pulled me in even closer and whispered again, and all it was was, "Always remember: the Church is true." All that build up, for a pathetic clichè But I had to smile and nod, like I agreed with Brother Yokum, because the rest of the Dogpatch brotherhood was standing behind him, watching my face, for any sign of dissent that they could use as an excuse to publicly humiliate me.

DORIS: God, I'm sorry. I didn't know hypo-what's-its...

ELISHA: (supplying the word) Hypocrites.

DORIS: ...led such painful lives.

IAN: I'm not a hypocrite. I'm a pragmatist.

DORIS: Is that some kind of fancy word for asshole?

ELISHA: I made sure that the people in charge had the facts. If they want to ignore them--which seems to be the case--and let you go through; it's out of my hands.

IAN: Oh, they'll let me go through. That's already established. It's just, I thought that we were better friends than this.

ELISHA: You haven't treated me like a friend for quite some time.

IAN: Example?

ELISHA: Correct me, if I'm wrong, but the last time I heard from you, I was left with the impression that I had orders not to even speak to you, again.

IAN: That was kind of a mean thing to say...

DORIS: You shit.

IAN: Maybe I need to rethink that decision.

ELISHA: It's a lot too late for that.

IAN: You are going to have to deal with this anger.

DORIS: (as she picks up the tongs, from the hot-dog machine) Oh, let me help.

ELISHA: As much as I'd love to mutilate him, he isn't worth it.

IAN: You've changed.

ELISHA: I hope so.

IAN: I will be married on Friday. There's nothing you can do to stop it.

ELISHA: Have a nice life.

IAN: You're really going to let it go?

ELISHA: I don't care what you do, Ian. I really don't.

IAN: Are you okay?

ELISHA: We're not going to play that game, today.

IAN: I can't leave you like this.

ELISHA: Go.

DORIS: (snapping the tongs) Move it, or lose it!

IAN: Nice friends you've taken up with.

ELISHA: They're there for me.

DORIS: (attempting to pinch Ian, with the tongs) Out! Out!

IAN: (as he exits, trying to avoid the tongs) You haven't heard the last of this.

ELISHA: Oh, yes I have, if I have to get a restraining order.

DORIS: You're having contractions again, aren't you?

ELISHA: Braxton-Hicks. It's nothing.

DORIS: I'll call Stephen to come get you. She goes to the counter and dials the phone. Elisha is lying back, in the chair with her eyes closed. Doris speaks into the phone) Stephen? Well, get him. (To Elisha) Don't you have that baby here. (Yelling, into the receiver) Stephen?! Somebody! Wha...Stephen. Get over here. Elisha needs a ride to the hospital. Step on it. I'll pay for the tickets. She won't have it in your car. Get your butt over here, now!!! (She hangs up). He's coming.

ELISHA: It's not as bad, now.

She winces then stands up.

DORIS: Sit down.

ELISHA: I have to walk it off.

DORIS: Then let me help. (Elisha doubles over then straightens herself, with effort.) Oh, God. Oh, God. Where's Stephen?

ELISHA: Doris...if something happens to me...

DORIS: Don't say that!

ELISHA: If Ian's getting married, he might try to...promise me you'll do something...or get Mitch to do something...or, if you can't find him...

DORIS: I'll kidnap her myself. I wouldn't give a dog I didn't like to Ian.

ELISHA: You promise? Because I really think something's wrong.

DORIS: I swear. But you're going to be okay. (As she looks outside) Thank God! Damn! I thought that was Stephen...you're so cold. That's not normal, is it? Shouldn't you be sweating, or something? Let me get you my jacket. Where the hell is Stephen?

Doris runs to get the jacket.


Scene 3

Elisha's new apartment. Furniture from the old apartment, except for the couch and the papasan chair, and numerous boxes. A bentwood rocker has replaced the rattan chair. A stair, leading to the upper story, is visible and there are two doors: one leading to the kitchen; one leading to the outside. Doris is in the rocker, rocking a newborn, while Mitch looks on.

MITCH: How could I not be there?

DORIS: You didn't know. God, you would have lost it anyway--the way they threw her on that gurney thing and ran her down the hall--screaming stuff. I spazzed just seeing how freaked they were. And there was this one doctor who was standing in the hallway when they passed. He just looked her over and shook his head like: they're going to lose that one. When I saw him do that, I sat down, right there, in the hall, and bawled my eyes out. Sorry.

MITCH: No. I wanted to hear.

DORIS: The worst part was the way she kept sobbing, "Please."

MITCH: Please what?

DORIS: I don't know. Please make the pain stop, or something. She just kept saying it. All the way to the operating room.

MITCH: Maybe somebody heard her. Kelsey's not Ian's.

DORIS: What?

MITCH: He's O negative. Elisha's O positive. Kelsey's A positive--and blood's the only test I ever got an A+ on in my life.

DORIS: God. That's great--isn't it?

ELISHA: (as she enters, wearing a bathrobe) It almost restored my faith in a merciful God.

MITCH: What are you doing out of bed?

ELISHA: The more I walk, the sooner the C-section heals. Read the pamphlet.

MITCH: God, I wish they could have cut me.

ELISHA: Don't worry about it. She's definitely worth it.

MITCH: Can I hold her? Elisha nods. Doris hands the baby to Mitch. God, she's little. I have to say it and then, these words will never pass my lips again: she's precious. She's got your eyes.

ELISHA: (lightly) Does that mean you love her?

MITCH: Like I know the meaning of the word. (A pause, before he blurts out) I'm married. I mean, I got married. Two days ago. To Sherrie. I couldn't tell you over the phone. When I heard she was mine...I need you to understand.

ELISHA: I knew you didn't love me like that a long time ago.

MITCH: I don't love her. That isn't why. She's pregnant. She was going to have an abortion. God, I thought you were gone. I thought it didn't matter. (He looks down at Kelsey) I want to be a part of her life. You don't have to tell her that I'm her Dad, but...

ELISHA: I wouldn't take you away from her.

MITCH: It wouldn't be like that. I wouldn't tell her. I wouldn't make it your fault.

ELISHA: Give her to Doris, when you're ready to go. (She heads up the stairs.)

MITCH: Elisha! (He hugs Kelsey close, but never takes his eyes off of Elisha, who exits up the stairs without looking back.)Oh, little girl. I'm so sorry.


Scene 4

Elisha's apartment, several months later. Elisha is sitting on the couch. Mitch enters from upstairs.

MITCH: Why is she always asleep, when I come over?

ELISHA: She was awake, when you called, I swear.

MITCH: (matter-of-fact) I called from my parents' house. I've been living with them for a month, now.

ELISHA: Where's Sherrie?

MITCH: She cheated on me. What kind of a guy has sex with a pregnant woman? She's showing for Christ's sake.

ELISHA: I'm sorry.

MITCH: (as if the fact amazes him) You are, aren't you?

ELISHA: I never stopped caring about you.

MITCH: You remember that night, when I had the flu and you stayed there, all night--even cleaned up the sheets and stuff...?

ELISHA: Yeah?

MITCH: It's just...not too many people would have done that--not even for a friend.

ELISHA: I would have.

MITCH: When I think back...I don't know if I'm remembering reality, or a fantasy.

ELISHA: What do you remember?

MITCH: (starting to cry) That you were the only woman, who was ever my friend. You know things about me that no one else knows. You sure as hell know me better than Sherrie does. She may be my wife, but she was never my friend.

ELISHA: Sometimes, I don't think I was such a good friend.

MITCH: She wants me to stay with her.

ELISHA: Do you want to?

MITCH: I don't think that I could spend the rest of my life without somebody to hold onto. Sex was the only time that I was allowed to touch her and we hadn't even done that, since before Kelsey was born. God, I can be so stupid. I actually bought her 'no sex, during pregnancy' excuse. Never even occurred to me she was getting it somewhere else. You'd never pull that shit.

ELISHA: I didn't want anybody to see me without my clothes on, when I was pregnant.

MITCH: That's because you're not a whore.

ELISHA: That's not what my parents think.

MITCH: Then they're as screwed up as the Church is. You ever find somebody, who's worthy of you, don't let me screw it up.

ELISHA: Why would you do that?

MITCH: Because I'm a selfish shit. (beat) What could you possibly have loved, about me?

ELISHA: (evasively) Lots of things.

MITCH: Name one.

ELISHA: (as if she is avoiding the real answer) You're funny.

MITCH: Yeah, I'm a freaking joke; you got that right.

ELISHA: I didn't mean it that way. I'd never even think it that way.

MITCH: You still have that INXS tape?

ELISHA: In the cassette holder.

Mitch finds the tape, searches for a song, then pushes play. 'Never Tear Us Apart' begins to play.

MITCH: I'm so tired.

ELISHA: There's a bed in Kelsey's room.

MITCH: If I'm not home by eleven thirty, Mom starts calling the morgues.

ELISHA: I didn't mean anything.

MITCH: I'd never think you did.

A child cries from upstairs.

ELISHA: Why don't you go get her? You look like you could use a hug, right now, and she's better at that than I am.

MITCH: (as he heads up the stairs) Hug her a lot, okay?

ELISHA: Mitch... (when Mitch stops and looks back, as if she is trying to tell him something) She really loves you.

MITCH: (as if he understands) I love her, too.

He exits, up the stairs. Elisha listens to the tape.


Scene 5

Elisha's new apartment, the next morning. Elisha and Doris are hiding Easter eggs, in the living room.

DORIS: He's divorcing her?

ELISHA: Who ever knows for sure with Mitch?

DORIS: You want him to, don't you?

ELISHA: You should see him with Kelsey. He rocked her to sleep, last night.

DORIS: He didn't sing?

ELISHA: Guns and Roses.

DORIS: 'Sweet Child of Mine'? How touching.

ELISHA: He was so sad, last night. I was tempted to put my arms around him and tell him that it was going to be okay--but I didn't think that would be smart, considering our history.

DORIS: Does that mean that you're trying to be a good girl, again?

ELISHA: No. It was just that last night was the first time in a long time that I felt like God wasn't trying to hurt me.

DORIS: He sent you Kelsey, didn't he?

ELISHA: I hope I don't totally screw her up.

DORIS: Well, I don't know how Mormons look at things, but as much as you and Mitch love her, she's way ahead of a lot of kids on this planet, whether you two are totally screwed up, or not.

The phone rings.

ELISHA: (into the receiver) Hello? Who? Oh. (Very softly) When? (A long pause, while Elisha Listens) Okay. Thank-you, for calling. (She hangs up the phone.) That was Sherrie, Mitch's...wife. They found him an hour ago, in a spot up in the mountains, where we used to go talk.

DORIS: What do you mean 'found' him?

ELISHA: He took some pills and alcohol--mostly alcohol--but they think it was the exposure that actually...

DORIS: Oh, honey.

ELISHA: He's dead, Doris. Oh, God! Mitch is dead.

Doris moves to hug Elisha. Lights.


Scene 6

Elisha's new apartment, a few days later. Doris is pacing the room. Elisha enters, from outside, wearing a dark colored dress.

DORIS: Thank God! It's been twelve hours. I thought...well, after last night, and all that talk, about breaking into the mortuary, just so that you could sit up with him...

ELISHA: I didn't get to touch him. Nobody knew who I was, but Sherrie, and she stood between me and the casket, so I stayed to watch them close the grave. They take these hydraulic things and pound the dirt in, until it's like cement. I never knew they did that before.

DORIS: God, what did watch that for?

ELISHA: I guess I was waiting to feel something. But there was just--nothing, except all this insane wind, and the fact that I was mad that the gravediggers wouldn't leave and stop staring at me. Then I didn't think I was ever going to feel anything again, so I turned to go, and my knees just buckled. The gravediggers just kept staring. Like they don't see that stuff all the time.

DORIS: They didn't, like, think to get you help, or something?

ELISHA: It was okay, then. It was real. It was the first thing in my life, besides Kelsey, that was ever real.

DORIS: What are you talking about?

Elisha sees a bible, on the shelf next to the tape player, and picks it up. She stares at the bible, then opens it, closes her eyes and picks a verse. Doris stares at her as if she thinks that Elisha has lost her mind.

ELISHA: It's a game Mitch used to play.

DORIS: So, what does it say?

ELISHA: That the wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but you can't tell where it comes from, or where it's going...and that that's what the Spirit of God is like.

She sets the bible on the table, then turns on the radio. Escape Club's "I'll Be There" begins to play.

DORIS: If God is just a big wind, then how can we understand Him, or anything?

ELISHA: Maybe he doesn't need us to understand. Maybe he just wants to move us.

Elisha starts up the stair. Doris picks up the bible and rereads the verse, silently. The lights and the music fade, slowly.

THE END.