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					                        Meno   1




   STAR WITNESS




      JOE MENO
1030 N. HERMITAGE, #1
  CHICAGO, IL 60622
      773.342.7136
                                                   Meno   2



                                   CHARACTERS



HAZEL, retiree, seventy-five to eighty years old

SHELLEY, a waitress, nineteen years old

WAYNE, short order cook, twenty-one years old

BOB WHITE, a factory worker, forty years old

JUNIOR, motel employee, twenty-two years old

NORRIS, unemployed, forty years old
                                                                                  Meno     3



                                 ACT ONE, SCENE ONE
Subtle, sparse country music plays. The kitchen and parlor of HAZEL DIXON, in the
small town of Somerset, Illinois. Set colors are pink and blue and white. At stage right,
HAZEL sits in a blue housedress at a chrome and linoleum kitchen table, smoking. On
the kitchen table is an ash tray, a radio, a small composition notebook, and a police
scanner. Beside Hazel, is her silver walker. An empty bird cage hangs from a wire stand.
On the wall adjoining the table is a telephone and a number of photos of kindergarten-
aged children, a couple dozen or more, and a silver crucifix. The rest of the wall is
cluttered with bird decorations, some hung on the walls, some resting on shelves. As
lights come up and music fades, the quiet buzz of the police scanner echoes and chirps.
HAZEL converses with the scanner and herself, chain-smoking.

                                          HAZEL:
Then, of course, there was the sly fox. He thought he could trick all the tiny woodland
creatures but he was wrong. He played the fiddle so sweetly that it sounded like a mother
bird singing to her young. And he would hide out in the woods, just beyond the shadowy
fields, and he would play his fiddle at midnight and all the gamecocks and chickens and
chicks would begin pecking at their doors. They had never heard a sound so pretty
before. And then the fox, he would begin to play quieter and quieter, and all the hens in
the henhouse would begin fussing until they had each crept out, and that beautiful song
would get quieter and quieter until the poor hens thought the song had been lost and they
would scoot across the farmyard, and then across the field, and into the dark shadows of
the midnight woods, and one by one, the fox would grab each one of those hens and
wrings their necks, plucking each one of their salty hearts and gobbling them up in his
razor-sharp mouth. In the morning, there wouldn’t be a single game bird left alive,
nothing but feathers and the carcasses or whatever the fox thought was too much trouble
to eat. That was about when the woodsman decided he had just about had enough. So he
went out to the whetstone and he began sharpening his axe, and he spent the whole day
sharpening it until he plucked a single hair from his red beard and dropped it over the
axe’s edge and it split right down the middle, like a bride slipping off her dress. The
woodsman waited in the woods all night, holding his hand to ear, hoping to figure where
that wily fox had its den. And then, just then, the sweetest tune you had ever heard begin
to ring out, a song that sounded just like the harrowed voice of the woodsman’s bashful
wife, who had drowned in a well a year before, and so the woodsman, setting down his
axe, began to follow it, too.

(HAZEL stubs out her cigarette and turns, looking at the birdcage. She leans in close to
inspect it and frowns, seeing the bird inside is dead.)

                                        HAZEL:
Oh, no Mr. Peepers. You silly old bird. You poor old creature. Why did you have go and
die on me?

                  (HAZEL opens the cage door and pets the dead bird.)
                                                                                      Meno    4

                                             HAZEL:
It was the heat, no doubt. Or all of my smoking. Well, Shelley is going to be awful upset,
I can tell you that. I’ll let her handle the arrangements. And she just got you that tiny bell,
made of your favorite birdseed. Why did you got pick a Tuesday of all days?

(Scanner announces: “This is unit 304 to base: I’m at the corner of Wright and
Evergreen. Jan, it looks like we got a 11-26. I’m going to investigate. Over.” The sound
interrupts Hazel’s reverie.)

                                           HAZEL:
11-26? What in the wide, weird world is that? (She searches her notebook, then gives up.)
11-26. I don’t believe I ever heard that one before. (She picks up the phone and dials.)
Jan? Yes, well, it’s Hazel Dixon. No, I’m fine, I’m fine. No, I’m supposed to be on bed
rest. I got what my doctor said is colitis. No, colitis. It’s awful. Well, I won’t go into it,
but…yes. He said I lost ten pounds because of it. Well, it’s the diarrhea, mostly. No, he
said I should be getting plenty of rest. And then I’ve got my rheumatoid arthritis, too. In
my left hand. And I’m sad to say I ain’t seen a man naked since way back in 1973 and
that was only by accident. (begins laughing, then coughing.)

                                           HAZEL:
Well, yes, the reason I called was…yes. An 11-26? Yes. Abandoned bicycle? That’s a
new one for me. How come Bill just don’t say it? No, I know, I know, if he had to take an
exam, he might as well use it. Yes. Well, no, that’s all. No, Jan. That’s fine. No. No.
(Hazel looks again at the phone, rolling her eyes.) No, Shelley’ll be home any moment
now. She’s got the afternoon shift all week. Yes, well, we spend Tuesday nights together.
It’s our night. No, well, we just play a couple of board games and listen to the scanner
and…no, she’s grown out of that. I don’t have to worry much about her. No, but she’s
still as skinny as a deer. No, I expect she’ll…well, of course, I guess you shouldn’t be
chatting. Well, okay, Jan, okay, goodbye now. Goodbye now.

                    (HAZEL writes down the new code in her logbook.)

                                       HAZEL:
               Well, that was a new one for me. 11-26: abandoned bicycle.

                        (HAZEL adjusts the volume of the scanner.)

                                    HAZEL:
Okay, now what? What happened to that poor old, abandoned bicycle, Officer Bill?

(SHELLEY enters through the door, pushing her bicycle. Her bicycle has a white basket
in front. SHELLEY leans it against the sofa. She is a willowy girl who wears a dirty
waitress uniform. Her shirt reads “Somerset Diner.” She looks tired and sweaty.
SHELLEY walks over to Hazel and kisses her forehead.)
                                                                                   Meno     5

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       Hey, Honey.

                                       HAZEL:
                              Well, don’t you look bushed?

                                         SHELLEY:
I am. (She collapses into the seat at the opposite end and takes off her shoes and begins
massaging her feet.) I swear I must have walked as far as China, running back and forth
from that awful kitchen all day long. I tell you I hate it. I just hate it.

                                      HAZEL:
                            You want me to draw you a bath?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                 I’ll settle for a cigarette.

                       (HAZEL hands her one. SHELLEY lights it.)

                                       HAZEL:
                        You hair looks nice pulled back like that.

                                       SHELLEY:
    Oh, thanks, Honey. (sighs) I tell you I just can’t believe how unfair the world is.

                                         HAZEL:
              Well, there aren’t but one or two things you can do about that.

                                         SHELLEY:
Wayne got in a load of trouble at work today. Mr. Dupont found out we were dating and
he gave Wayne a lot of guff about it. I knew we wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret for
long. And the other cook Lyle didn’t show up until right before the shift was just about
over and poor Wayne was back at the grill and he was the only working through the rush
and wouldn’t you know there was some kind of outfit moving these little yellow houses,
on the back of their trucks, five or six of them. These little yellow houses on the back of
these flatbed trucks, all tiny and perfect, and Wayne and me were staring out the window
daydreaming, and I asked him if maybe he’d like to sneak into one of the houses with me.
Like we could live together, and our kids would never have to go to school and we could
see the whole world traveling around like that. He said he’d like to, more than anything in
the world, but then a bunch of orders got called up and he got rushed and ending up
burning some eggs.

                                        HAZEL:
(laughing) Well, you be careful. That boy, Wayne is love-struck. He’ll agree with
anything you say. He’ll even walk hand-in-hand with you right into nine months of
trouble.
                                                                                   Meno       6

                                        SHELLEY:
Honey! I…Well, anyway, these movers, they all decided to stop in and each of them had
to order something that wasn’t even on the menu. And don’t you know that two of them
sent their steak and eggs back because they said they was overcooked. Then Mr. Dupont
came up and laid into Wayne about paying attention to what he was doing instead of
spending his time love-talking with me. I thought Wayne was just about ready to spit in
his eye. (She takes notice of the scanner and notebook.) What’s that?

                                        HAZEL:
                                11-26. Abandoned bicycle.

                                      SHELLEY:
                   Oh, that’s a new one. I never heard that one before.

                                           HAZEL:
                   It is; I had to call down to the station to ask about it.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       Where’s it at?

                                        HAZEL:
                                   Wright and Evergreen.

                                         SHELLEY:
 I just rode past there. (Shelley fusses with the scanner.) Who’s the officer on the scene?

                                          HAZEL:
                                          Bill Polk.

                                        SHELLEY:
Oh, I don’t like him at all. He came in just yesterday and looked me up and down like I
was a showpony at the 4-H. I thought he was gonna try and check my teeth. I asked him
what he thought he was staring at and he said that, in his estimation, he believed that I
had on the wrong color nylons for my skin tone. And then when I walked past, he made a
grab at me.

                                       HAZEL:
You might just be thankful someone makes a grab at you every so often. The only man
who ever looked at me like that ended up being struck dead…

                                        SHELLEY:
                                   But that Bill Polk is…
                                                                                    Meno    7

                                          HAZEL:
…And that man was killed in a tornado in the spring of 1963. The tornado picked him
and his car up like it was nothing but a box of matches. He was in the driver’s seat of his
Ford Falcon. And then the tornado went and dropped him and the car directly through the
roof a barn. Dale Beavers. I went there, and looked at it, the car, sticking out the top of
the barn. It looked like an accordion. They just left it there for nearly a week, they had to
get a crane to try and come get it out. You can still how it went through the roof of that
abandoned barn, right along Route 9. And I happen to know Dale Beavers had a trunk
full of expensive merchandise: he was a traveling salesman, mostly miniature bibles,
statues, he even had a painting of Jesus done on the head of pin. And they had to identify
him using his teeth. He was the first and only man I ever loved, flawed as he was. And
the reason I never got married and had any of my own. (looking at SHELLEY) But you
and your mother, you girls were always good enough for me.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                      Thanks, Honey.

                                       HAZEL:
But if you drive down Willow Road, to that worn-out-looking farm, you can still see
where the needle touched down and lifted him up and dropped him right through the top
of that barn. Oh, Dale Beavers. He was nice man. And plenty good-looking, too.

                                    SHELLEY:
(SHELLEY looks over Hazel’s notes.) Anything else exciting happen on the scanner
today?

                                         HAZEL:
                             Well, earlier there was a 10-91A.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                        What’s that?

                                         HAZEL:
A stray animal. It was the Hamford’s cat that run away. The black one. It was at the
grocery store. It went inside, right down to where the cat food aisle was. Mrs. Hamford
had to come pick it up. By the way, did you hear that Junior Hamford’s back in town?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                     No. I didn’t know.

                                         HAZEL:
                     I thought you used to have quite a thing for him?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                        I never did!
                                                                                     Meno   8

                                          HAZEL:
When you used to pal around with his sister. You had a flame for that boy. Older man,
and all. I believe you were in the fourth grade and he was in the sixth.

                                       SHELLEY:
I shouldn’t have ever told you. I should have kept it to myself. But you always find a way
to wheedle it out of me.

                                         HAZEL:
     It’s what I’m good at. It just so happens that I can’t abide secrets, big or small.

                                      SHELLEY:
                             Mr. Peepers is awful quiet today.

(SHELLEY looks up and notices the bird in the cage is silent. She stands and walks over
and inspects it.)

                                     SHELLEY:
               Mr. Peepers? Mr. Peepers. Oh, Honey, Mr. Peepers is dead.

                                         HAZEL:
I’m sorry, sugar. I found him like that a half hour ago. I think it must have been the heat.

                                       SHELLEY:
The poor dear. I just got him that new bell and everything. He just turned four. It was just
his birthday last week.

                                        HAZEL:
                                 I’m awful sorry, Shelley.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                  Would you look at that?

                                         HAZEL:
                                         What is it?

                                        SHELLEY:
It looks like he was trying to spell something out to me. It looks like he spelled out
“goodbye” in his birdseed.

                                         HAZEL:
                                         Where?

                                       SHELLEY:
                      Right there. Right beside his little yellow beak.
                                                                                     Meno   9

                                        HAZEL:
              Shelley, you got the strangest imagination of anyone I know.

                                      SHELLEY:
             Well, we ought to leave him there, in case he changes his mind.

                                       HAZEL:
Now I can appreciate you being upset, Shelley, but leaving him there isn’t going to
change anything.

                                       SHELLEY:
                  Well, I’m going to leave him there a while to be sure.

                                        HAZEL:
           Well, you be sure you get rid of him tonight, before you go to sleep.

                                       SHELLEY:
  (sighs) Today is turning out to be the worst day of my life and it’s not even dark yet.

                                    HAZEL:
              Are you hungry? You want me to cook you up some dinner?

                                        SHELLEY:
           No. I don’t think I could stand the sight of a plate of food right now.

                                           HAZEL:
Well, it’s getting close to eight o’ clock now. You let me know when you’re ready to eat.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          Okay.

                                          HAZEL:
We still on for tonight? I was thinking we could take out the Scrabble board if you like.
Or Battleship might be nice. We haven’t played that one in a while. (motioning towards
the scanner) Today’s pay-day at the cannery so I bet there’ll be plenty of action on the
old scanner tonight. I’m sure they’ll be one or two good fights at the Bide-A-While that
need breaking up. We still on, you and me?

                                      SHELLEY:
                     Sure, honey. But would you mind…oh, forget it.

                                        HAZEL:
                                        What is it?
                                                                                        Meno      10

                                    SHELLEY:
Well, I was wondering if you would mind if I asked if Wayne wants to come on over,
too?

                                        HAZEL:
                          Well, no…if you’d like. I just thought…

                                        SHELLEY:
He just had an awful day is all. Those men sent back those two plates of steak and eggs
and then Mr. Dupont had the nerve to come and stand over his shoulder and make some
comment about him wasting food and saying he better shape up or else he’s giving his
day shifts to Lyle. And then Lyle starting strutting around like he was cock of the walk.

                                       HAZEL:
The two of you need a nice night out. Why don’t you take in a movie? Here…(reaches
for her purse.)

                                         SHELLEY:
No, Honey, you keep your money. Wayne said he would take me out but I don’t even feel
like it; besides Tuesday night is our night anyway. I get to see him all day at work. It’s
good to keep him guessing. You and I’ll play some games and listen to the scanner. We’ll
have ourselves a good time together.

                                          HAZEL:
                               Well, if you change your mind.

                                        SHELLEY:
             No, I’m just in a mood. I’ve been in an awful mood for days now.

                                          HAZEL:
                                       Well, I could tell.

                                          SHELLEY:
                             I just get to feeling like I’m cursed.

                                         HAZEL:
                            Cursed with pretty dimples like that.

                                          SHELLEY:
No, I mean it, honey. I think I’ll be at that restaurant the rest of my life. I feel like I got
nothing interesting in my life right now. I got nothing to hang my name on. The only
interesting that ever happens in Somerset is Monster Days and I tell you, I’m awful sick
of that. All it means now is I have to work extra shifts the whole week. I used to get so
excited about it every year, when I was little, but now, well.
                                                                                      Meno    11

                                       HAZEL:
    Your mother used to dress you up. You were a sight! With that terrible green face.

                                  SHELLEY:
I remember. And then we’d walk down to the parade, all three of us, and watch the floats.

                                       HAZEL:
And then we’d all go down to the lake and have fun at the picnic. And watch the sea
monster come on up out of the lake and you would get so scared...

                                           SHELLEY:
I used to think he was real. All the way until I was ten or eleven. I got in a fight with a
girl in my class all about it. She said it was all a hoax and there really wasn’t a sea
monster in that lake and I said we saw it every year and then she said it was a fake. She
said it was just somebody with a scuba tank. But I still believe there’s something in that
lake.

                                        HAZEL:
Well, we all used to think there was something in that lake. I know I did. Every time
some lily pad brushed my leg, I always screamed.

                                       SHELLEY:
             I used to think it was God who was under that lake. I really did.

                                          HAZEL:
                                   (laughing) Oh, Shelley.

                                        SHELLEY:
No, I did, I did, I don’t know why you’re laughing. I used to think that God was that sea-
monster and that he was all alone, and the only one left of his kind, and how awfully
lonely he must be. I remember going with to the lake when I was little, and I would
always get a funny feeling, like when someone is hiding behind a door you just walked
through. Once or twice, I would write a note to it, in the dirt, on the bank, near that
willow tree, just some nice little message, so it wouldn’t be so lonely. I used to think if it
was old as everyone said, older than the dinosaurs even, he’d have to be mighty lonely. I
used to think I was just like that sea monster at the bottom of the lake. I used to stand out
there during the summer and while everyone else was fishing or swimming, I used to
watch the waves to see if I could see anything. I used to think if I could just see it once,
just once, then it would want to be my friend, and then neither one of us would ever be
sad again.

                                         HAZEL:
                          Well, I’m sorry you didn’t ever see him.
                                                                                    Meno       12

                                         SHELLEY:
Just the other day, Mr. Dupont was saying how his grandfather was the one that started
the whole thing. He said his grandfather used to own a bait and tackle shop and he was
out fishing in his boat alone when he thought it all up. He said it was all just some stupid
publicity stunt, to get tourists to come to his lousy motels and restaurant.

                                       HAZEL:
Well, I remember his grandfather. And he swore up and down that some sea serpent
wrecked his boat. That was almost sixty years ago now.

                                         SHELLEY:
Well, I don’t even like to go down there no more. I don’t even like to look at it. It was the
only thing I liked about living here, that green lake, and it turns out it’s just somebody’s
way to make money. I swear there ain’t nothing beautiful or strange in this whole world
anymore. All of it is just like the Pizza Hut and Colonel Sanders they opened on Main.
And they shut the drive-in down before I was even born. And the monster in the lake is a
lie and poor Mr. Peepers is dead. Sometimes…oh, I just don’t know.

                                         HAZEL:
                                        Sometimes?

                                    SHELLEY:
Sometimes I wish I had been born somewhere else, like in a city, like Louisville or
Indianapolis or Chicago. Sometimes…sometimes I get to wishing my mother took me
with her when she left.

                                       HAZEL:
               Oh. (HAZEL mutters this like she has been fatally wounded.)

             (SHELLEY looks up at HAZEL and sees she’s hurt her feelings.)

                                     SHELLEY:
Oh, I’m sorry, Honey, you know I was just talking out the side of my mouth. That’s all I
am is one flapping jaw. I didn’t…I mean, you know that…

                                         HAZEL:
                                    Help me to my feet.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                         What for?

                                        HAZEL:
                  I’ll show you what for. Go on and help me to my feet.
                                                                                     Meno   13

(SHELLEY helps HAZEL to her feet. HAZEL slowly limps offstage. When she returns, she
is carrying a small blue shoebox with her. She places the box on the table before
SHELLEY.)

                                        SHELLEY:
                                        What’s this?

                                        HAZEL:
                                   Go ahead and open it.

       (SHELLEY opens the box. There are a pair of glittery red high heels inside.)

                                         HAZEL:
                                      They’re for you.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                       What are they?

                                        HAZEL:
                              They belonged to your mother.

                                      SHELLEY:
                             Why are you giving them to me?

                                        HAZEL:
                               They’re her going-out shoes.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                         Her what?

                                        HAZEL:
                         What you call her walking-around shoes.

                                      SHELLEY:
                             Why are you giving these to me?

                                         HAZEL:
Because I thought if I could keep your mother here she would be safe. That she would be
happy. But she wasn’t. I tried everything I could think of. I even ended up hiding these
from her, but it didn’t keep her from running off. I finally figured that if someone’s got it
fixed in their mind to leave…

                                      SHELLEY:
                             Oh, Honey, I was just talking is…
                                                                                  Meno      14

                                        HAZEL:
Well, you shouldn’t feel beholden to anybody. You got as much right to go do what you
want to as anyone.

                                      SHELLEY:
Oh, honey, you know I didn’t mean anything. I was just complaining. (She gets up and
hugs Hazel.) Who’s gonna cook me silver dollar pancakes? Who’s gonna pluck my
eyebrows? Who’s gonna help me pick out what to wear? Who’s gonna tell me ghost
stories and talk to me about what my crazy mother was like when she was my age?

                                        HAZEL:
Well, you just remember. You don’t owe nothing to nobody. You took care of me as
much as I did you all these years. And we ain’t even blood.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                     I know, I just…

                                       HAZEL:
 No, no, you’re nineteen now, Shelley. You’re old enough to think and do as you please.

                                      SHELLEY:
I’m sorry, honey. I didn’t mean anything by it. Sometimes I think I have a wasp’s nest
where I’m supposed to have a brain.

                                       HAZEL:
               Well, you’re old enough to decide to do whatever you like.

                                   SHELLEY:
       I know only…well, would you mind terribly if I asked Wayne over tonight?

                                       HAZEL:
The only thing I would mind if you were here with me and would rather be someplace
else.

(SHELLEY hugs HAZEL again. She walks over to the birdcage and puts the dead bird
inside one of the shoes in the shoebox, then closes the lid.)

                                          SHELLEY:
There. It fits him just like a fancy coffin. I’ll go find somewhere to bury him tomorrow,
maybe down by the lake. (She puts the shoebox in the basket of her bicycle.)

                                          HAZEL:
                                 If that’s what you’d like.

                                      SHELLEY:
              I would. I’m sorry, Honey, for mentioning my mother. She…
                                                                                   Meno      15

                                       HAZEL:
Well, she was just about your age when she got into trouble. She was just a year or two
younger.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          I know.

                                          HAZEL:
You’re just like her, too, you are. But only the best parts. When she was about half your
age, she used to come and sit in my lap and I would read her a story every day. I was her
kindergarten teacher, you know that? Her and her parents, they just happen to live across
the street from me. Right in that old blue house.

                                      SHELLEY:
                            And she used to call you “Honey.”

                                          HAZEL:
It’s true. Well, then she got older and got into trouble, I guess that was around the time
when you decided to show up, and the boy she was seeing disappeared and her parents
told her they wanted nothing to do with her no more and that’s when she moved in here.
She was eighteen and hadn’t even finished high school yet.

                                     SHELLEY:
                        And she had me in that room, right there.

                                        HAZEL:
                       She did. The racket you raised! And then…

                                      SHELLEY:
                                   And then she left me.

                                           HAZEL:
Well, no, Shelley, it wasn’t like that at all. She just…well, she tried meeting men around
here but most of them were already married and then she met a fellah who was passing
through and well…she had gotten into some bad things and you were already eight or
nine and…she knew how much I loved you and…well, of course, she came to me and
told me what she was thinking and well…

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       Then she left.

                                          HAZEL:
                      Better for all of us, sugar. Better for all of us.
                                                                                      Meno   16

                                        SHELLEY:
Sometimes I think all the best times are already behind me. Like when I worked at the
lake last summer, at that hot dog stand. That’s where I met Wayne. And I used to put
baby oil on my face and arms and try to get sunburnt. Do you ever feel like that, honey?
Like all the best things are already over?

                                        HAZEL:
                          You’re too young to be talking like that.

                                      SHELLEY:
Sometimes I just wish something like a tornado would come and lift me away and set me
down somewhere romantic and strange.

                                        HAZEL:
  Well, that tornado didn’t work out so well for poor old Dale Beavers. Or me, neither.

(The police scanner interrupts: “Unit 304, Jan, the bike, it’s a little girl’s one. Pink, with
streamers and a little flower basket out front. I asked the kids who live around here and
they say it’s Jamie Fay’s. I went by their house, round the corner, and Miss Fay said
Jamie ain’t nowhere around. You want to call Wes and ask him how we wants to
proceed? Over.”)

                       (HAZEL and SHELLEY stare at the scanner.)

                                        HAZEL:
                                Well, how do you like that?

              (HAZEL slowly writes down the information in her notebook.)

                                        HAZEL:
           (to the scanner, whispering) Oh, you wily old fox. You wily old fox.

                                      SHELLEY:
                            Maybe she just ran off somewhere.

                                         HAZEL:
     No, she’s a good girl, that Jamie. She was Miss Somerset last year in the parade.

                                       SHELLEY:
And she was one of the prettiest ones, too. She had that dress made of pink tulle. And her
hair was all in blonde curls.

                                           HAZEL:
I didn’t think she was all that pretty. She had on all that white make-up and well, she
looked just like a corpse to me.
                                                                                    Meno      17

                                      SHELLEY:
                                Honey! She looked lovely.

                                           HAZEL:
Well, I can tell you one thing: that girl minds herself. I had her in Sunday school a year or
two back …oh, dear. That poor girl. That poor girl.

                                     SHELLEY:
           Maybe she just ran down to the Mill Pond, swimming or something.

                                        HAZEL:
                                     Unless she didn’t.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                I’m sure she’s fine, Honey.

                                            HAZEL:
Unless she isn’t. (confidentially, like telling a ghost story) Unless she isn’t. Unless
someone is driving her clear across state lines at this very moment. She could be left for
dead in the middle of the woods right now and no one would know the difference. Or tied
up in the trunk of some drifter’s car, with a piece of a nylon tied around her mouth. If I
was the officer on the scene, I would immediately see if there were some fingerprints on
that bicycle and then canvas the area to see if anyone noticed any suspicious vehicles.
Then I’d get a road block, in say, a thirty mile radius, so I could catch him before he
made for Kentucky or Indiana.

                                      SHELLEY:
                             That’s what you would do, huh?

                                          HAZEL:
I would. I really would. I believe I have the right constitution to be a great detective. I
missed my chance being born a woman at the time I was born, but I believe I could have
been a famous investigator. I really do.

                                       SHELLEY:
Not me. I never had any interest in solving a crime. But I always wished I was the one
who found the body. Ever since I was a kid. I used to dream about it, walking home in the
woods, and coming across some murder scene, someone lying there in the weeds, missing
their head maybe. I used to pray at night that I’d find a dead body lying somewhere.

                                           HAZEL:
               Shelley, I believe that is the oddest thing I’ve heard you say.
                                                                                      Meno    18

                                         SHELLEY:
Well, I always wanted to get my name and picture in the paper and have everyone asking
me all kinds of questions, like, “What did she look like lying there?” and have people
whispering about me whenever I went to the A & P. I always wished I got to witness
some kind of crime or at least find a missing hand or arm or just something. Or maybe
see a ghost, and have the ghost tell me their secret of how it was killed, and then I’d tell
the police and lead them to the killer. That’s all I ever wanted. To see something no one
else ever got to see. I’ve been dreaming of that kind of thing ever since I was a little kid.

                                           HAZEL:
Well, I’d don’t know how talking to ghosts would help, not until they’ve found a corpse.
In a case like this, you have to start with the motive first. And the suspects, too, of course.

                                         SHELLEY:
                                          Of course.

                                           HAZEL:
Well, I bet it could be the father. Or the mother. Or a neighbor. Any one of them could be
involved. I would start off with the father and see if he had any gambling debts, anything
like that. Or the mother, see if she has a history of depression, any of the telltale signs,
anemia, sleeplessness, dreams about drowning her kids. But I’m betting it’s a neighbor
though. Someone who’s been watching her and planning and…Oh, if a hair is harmed on
her head…if a single hair…(she begins to pray) Lord, Heavenly father, please watch over
that little girl. Lead her safely home. Don’t let her folks worry themselves to death. Grant
them strength and hope. Don’t let this be a lesson of harshness.

                                    SHELLEY:
     Well, maybe we shouldn’t get worked up. Maybe she’s just hiding somewhere.

                                            HAZEL:
No, He…He has a heavy hand with children. When you think of baby Moses drifting like
that in the river and the Christ child being born among all the those barnyard animals and
King Herod killing all the newborns and well, the whole lot of them… …they’re always
coming to terrible ends at His hand. When I first started teaching the kindergarten, we
had three little girls at school, the Pollards, three blonde little fairies, they were sisters,
each a year apart but they all looked like triplets, and one of them, Fanny, she had this
allergy to bees, but none of us known it at the time, and one day at recess, this one other
teacher and me was supposed to be watching but I’m sure we were gossiping and
smoking and well, Fanny Pollard got stung, right on the neck, by a bee, and she just
keeled over, like she had been struck down by the Hand of God, and her lips turned blue
and her throat swelled up and they called the ambulance, but back then it was a good
twenty minutes before the one from Dwyer came, and I was sure that the poor little thing
wasn’t going to make it. I held her head, right there, right there in my arms, like she was
a little baby, and I prayed, and I said, “Heavenly father, if you take this girl’s life from
me, you’ll be taking two souls today, mine and hers, and I won’t ever forgive you for the
suffering you’re laying at my door right now, if you know what is right and just, if you
                                                                                      Meno    19

got any smarts, you let her open her mouth right now and start breathing,” and then I said
“Amen” and looked down, and wouldn’t you know, that girl started to breathe.

                                        SHELLEY:
                             I don’t remember that happening.

                                            HAZEL:
It was before you were born, when I first started as a teacher. It was…well, I just knew it
then, I knew that the Lord is a wily old animal, all alone out there in the middle of the
forest, or like that monster at the bottom of the dark, dark lake, old and tricky and without
a hair of mercy. He likes to make his point with the lives of innocents and children and it
ain’t fair to them. Not at all. And so right then I decided it was my duty to keep the little
ones from harm, even if it meant going against what He had planned. (smirking) We’ve
been playing that game for more than fifty-some odd years now, Him and me, and I
haven’t been able to get ahead of Him yet. It’s always been a draw. He got those two
little boys, Dale and Louis, in that car accident two years back, and He got poor little
Emily Fowler, because she was born with heart trouble and nobody knew it. (HAZEL
points at a picture of a little girl.) She had stars in her eyes, that girl. She was just about
as lovely a child as you ever seen. And then He went and called her. But I saved a few
from Him in my own time, too.

                                      SHELLEY:
I’m sure Jamie Fay is okay. And if she isn’t, I hope she’s already dead and not suffering.

                                           HAZEL:
Shelley! Well, I’ll tell you right now, if a single hair…if a single hair is harmed on that
girl’s head, I will quit my weekly offering at mass right off. I’ll spend that money on a
new wig and I’ll take that cross right down, I swear. (to ceiling) You hear that? You
old…

                                       SHELLEY:
               I thought you weren’t ever supposed to test the Lord, honey?

                                         HAZEL:
Well, I am testing him. I’m testing him at this very moment. And now we got to sit here
and be quiet and figure out what happened to that girl before He makes up His mind.
Before He makes a lesson of us and her. (to the crucifix) That wily old fox.

(The police scanner interrupts. “Base to Unit 304, base to unit 304. Bill, Wes said he’s
on his way. Over.”)

                                      HAZEL:
  The chief of police himself. Now we’re getting somewhere. He’s a sound individual.

                                        SHELLEY:
                        I happen to think you have a thing for him.
                                                                                     Meno   20

                                        HAZEL:
                                       Oh, I do not.

                                       SHELLEY:
     You put a big sign up in the front yard for him when he was up for re-election.

                                       HAZEL:
                        He happens to be a Democrat. That’s all.

                                       SHELLEY:
I see how you light up at church when he says hello to you. Why just a week or two ago,
him and his wife was sitting behind you and during that part, the peace offering, where
you shake hands with everybody, I seen how you took his hand. Even from where I was
standing with the choir, I could see you light up like a lamp.

                                         HAZEL:
                                   I did no such thing.

                                      SHELLEY:
                      You held his hand longer than anybody else’s.

                                           HAZEL:
Well, I just happen to like a man with a uniform is all. I don’t care if he’s a sheriff or
your Wayne in his little cook outfit. I like a man that looks anonymous like that. As soon
as they start looking like their own man, that’s when you got trouble. That’s when you
fall in love with them and only them. I say, if he’s in a uniform, you’re in no danger of
heartbreak. There’ll always be another policeman or fireman or soldier to come along,
sooner or later. And besides, the Sheriff’s too young for me: who knows what he’d ask
me to do to him in bed?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         Honey!

                                          HAZEL:
          Well, just cause I don’t do it doesn’t mean I don’t ever think about it.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         Honey!

                                     HAZEL:
Well, I’m putting my money on a neighbor. Now, who lives over there on that street is
the question.

                                     SHELLEY:
                               Nobody who’d hurt that girl.
                                                                                    Meno    21

                                         HAZEL:
There’s that odd fellow, that one, Norris, the one with all the stray animals. He lives with
his wretched old mother in that big house alone. And Mrs. Webb just said how he come
to her garage sale a few weeks ago and bought up all her old photo albums.

                                      SHELLEY:
                              Well, what’s wrong with that?

                                        HAZEL:
     It’s awful suspicious if you ask me. Mrs. Webb thought it was kind of indecent.

                                      SHELLEY:
Oh, Norris wouldn’t bother a soul. His mother brings him into the diner and he still
orders off the kiddie menu. He gets chocolate chip pancakes every Saturday night. He’s
like a big child himself, harmless.

                                        HAZEL:
Well, I heard how he’d got in trouble just a few weeks back for stealing a box of
Christmas ornaments from his neighbor’s garage. The Polley’s. He was trying to take all
of their holiday ornaments. What he was gonna do with them in the middle of summer
the Lord only knows.

                                     SHELLEY:
 That don’t mean he’d hurt anybody. I’d trust him more than a lot of other folks I know.

                                          HAZEL:
Well, you might be right. Anyways, I heard his mother had the poor man castrated when
he turned sixteen. And that fellah can’t even drive. And our suspect, he’s got to be able to
make a quick getaway. There are too many houses and too many kids on that street, too
many witnesses to avoid on foot.

(The police scanner interrupts: “Unit 304 to base, 304 to base. Still waiting on Wes. Mrs.
Fay is getting mighty upset and her husband just arrived home. He just started cursing
me. He said we ought to have a scuba team out dragging the lake. I’m awaiting orders on
how to proceed. Will you kindly ask Wes to please hurry?”)

                                        HAZEL:
                            Well, who else lives on that street?

                                      SHELLEY:
               There’s that one dark-haired man…the one with the hand…

                                        HAZEL:
Bob White. He’s at the top of my suspect list right now. (She makes a note of this in her
notebook.) And yes, he’s missing that hand, from when he worked at the plate factory.
He’s always hanging around the Bide-A-While, in that parking lot, singing for drinks.
                                                                                   Meno    22

                                    SHELLEY:
                Maybe we ought to wait and see what Wes comes up with.

                                          HAZEL:
                   I just can’t abide the suffering of others. I just can’t.

 (The phone rings. SHELLEY leaps to answer it. It’s immediately clear she is smitten with
the caller, as she leans and smiles and twists the phone cord around her finger.)


                                         SHELLEY:
Well, hello to you, too. Yes. Yes. Yes, we heard it just now. Honey said she’ll have the
case cracked in the next half-hour. Well, no. I don’t know. Well, I just happened to be
thinking of you. No. No. Maybe. You’re gonna have to chance it, maybe. (SHELLEY
realizes she is sweet-talking in front of HAZEL and changes her tone.) Honey, Wayne
says hello.

                                        HAZEL:
You can tell him I happen to love my steaks overdone. He can come over and overcook
my steak for me any time he wants.

                                       SHELLEY:
(to Hazel) You shush. (to Wayne) No, she said hello, too. Well, I don’t mind. We was just
gonna…no…well, play some board games and all. Well, she’s an awful cheat but
you…(to Hazel) Is it all right if Wayne comes on over here? He said he’d take me out but
I don’t want him spending his money on a Tuesday night for nothing.

                                      HAZEL:
              You tell him he’s welcome as long as he brings a date for me.

                                      SHELLEY:
              She said fine. No, whenever you like. 8:30 or so sounds good.

                                        HAZEL:
Well, I should get dressed if Wayne is coming on over. I don’t want him to think me an
old shut-in. I’m gonna go comb out my good wig.

(It takes a while for HAZEL to stand and cross the stage. HAZEL exits slowly. SHELLEY
whispers on the phone, confidentially.)

                                         SHELLEY:
Yep. No, she’s getting dolled up for you. No. No Wayne, I said I don’t want to talk about
it. Because I don’t wan to talk about it. (bashful) No. What? No, I will not. You are out of
your mind if you think I will…What? You must think you are something special. (She
looks around to be sure she is alone and then begins to sing “The Birds were singing of
You” by the Carter Family.)
                                                                                          Meno   23

I heard the birds a-singing
Out among the trees and views
And every bird, my darling
Was singing, was singing of you


            (SHELLEY checks to be sure HAZEL has not heard her singing.)

                                         SHELLEY:
Well, of course. Yes. Well, I just happen to be in the very best choir in town. You’d
know if you ever came to church. Well, I did a solo on “I’ll Fly Away,” last Sunday. No,
I did. Well, I showed up with a hickey to choir practice a few weeks back and Mrs.
Auburn made a big thing out of it so I quit that very next day. But then she called me and
apologized. No, I’m not at all spiteful. No. Well, we’ll see about that. I happen to have
plenty of your personalized hickeys as it is. Okay. Well, we’ll see you soon. Yes. yes.
Okay, okay, see you then, Romeo.

(SHELLEY hangs up the phone. HAZEL enters, partially dressed. She has put on some
make-up. Again, she crosses slowly to the table and nearly collapses into her seat. She
begins combing her wig, which rests on a white Styrofoam head.)

                                           HAZEL:
        I think this one looks a little better. The other one has started to get ratty.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                    Go on and put it on.

              (HAZEL puts the wig on. SHELLEY begin to comb it gently.)

                                         HAZEL:
I used to have the nicest hair. Men around here, they used to have to fight each other to
try and get close enough to touch it. They used to auction off a single strand.

(The police scanner begins to crackle: “Unit 101 to Base, this is Wes. Jan, I’m gonna
need you to put in a call to the State Police in Springfield. Ask for Capt. Durham. We’re
gonna handle this is a missing persons right now and a possible 207. Over.”)

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          A 207?

                                         HAZEL:
Kidnapping. That is a federal offense. I believe they’re going to have to notify the FBI
now.

                         (HAZEL writes it down in the notebook.)
                                                                                   Meno      24

                                         HAZEL:
                          I knew it. I knew it. That old wily fox.

                                    SHELLEY:
                    Honey, how come you’re so sure she’s in trouble?

                                      HAZEL:
Do you remember the time, when you were seven and you ran away from home? Your
mother and me was worried sick about you. I think you were in the first grade, weren’t
you?

                                       SHELLEY:
I was. I didn’t even take anything with me. I just decided, after school, I didn’t want to
come back to this house anymore. I was sick of my mother ignoring me. So I was going
to walk down to the Mill Pond and hide under one of those old boats until some gypsies
came by and kidnapped me.

                                       HAZEL:
                                  And what did you do?

                                     SHELLEY:
         I went to Michelle Manley’s house first and asked for a drink of water.

                                       HAZEL:
                                And then what happened?

                                     SHELLEY:
                           My mother came and picked me up.

                                       HAZEL:
                          And how did she know you was there?

                                        SHELLEY:
                I don’t know. I guess I called her. I don’t remember really.

                                          HAZEL:
Well, I just so happened to have a feeling you was in some kind of trouble when you
didn’t come straight home, and we waited for an hour or so and we were starting to go
out of our heads, so I told your mother to go on and drive by the Manley’s house. All it
was was a feeling, that’s it. Like a shade being pulled down in a dark little room. That’s
all I know. I got that same feeling the day Darrel Hennly got hit in the head.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       Who was he?
                                                                                      Meno   25

                                       HAZEL:
He was the another fellah who should have asked me to marry him, but he left town
before he had the chance.

                                     SHELLEY:
                   Wait, you knew he got hurt before anyone told you?

                                              HAZEL:
Well, not at first. At first, I just had this feeling like he had suddenly forgotten about me.
He worked at the cannery, he was a lineman, and one night he went and blew his whole
paycheck at the Bide-A-While and he got in some argument with another fellow there
and this fellow, he went and hit Darrel right in the back of the head with a broken beer
bottle. I was at home, listening to the radio with my mother, when my best friend, she
was a nurse, over in Dwyer, she called me and said, “I think they just brought Darrel in.”
Well, he was in there a day or two, and when he came out, he acted like he didn’t know
me. And a week later, he just took off without word. He was the second one who should
of married me but never did.

                                    SHELLEY:
                        Wow. How many others were there, Honey?

                                         HAZEL:
There was four in all. And a flyer I never met in Vietnam who was shot down. Someone
from church gave me his name and serial number and we was all asked to write overseas
because some of these boys didn’t have families and so I started writing to this one, and
he starting calling me his lovey-dovey but then he ended up getting shot down. He sent
me photo but he wasn’t so good-looking. Still, I liked to have met him once.

                                        SHELLEY:
                   You sure had a life. Men and airplanes and tornados.

                                        HAZEL:
Oh, those men was fun to fool with for awhile but I never did meet the one who ever
proposed. I thought I might make a nice wife to someone and have a few babies for him,
but when I looked around and figured it out, all the dumb ones were taken and the smart
ones were just too smart.

                                     SHELLEY:
Well, I might get cleaned up before Wayne comes over. He has to see me like this all the
time at work as it is.

                                     (SHELLEY stands.)

                                          HAZEL:
With your hair like that, you look just like your mother. Only prettier. She was pretty too,
but you, you can tell you’re a nice girl.
                                                                                   Meno      26

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         Honey?

                                         HAZEL:
                                          Yep?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                Did I ever say thank you?

                                        HAZEL:
                                        For what?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                      For everything.

                                      HAZEL:
                        Nope. And you don’t ever have to neither.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                Well, thank you anyways.

                  (SHELLEY leans over and kisses HAZEL’S forehead.)

                                      HAZEL:
                     You want me to fix you something to eat now?

                                     SHELLEY:
No. I’m gonna go wash up. If Wayne rings the bell, just leave him out there a while. It’ll
do wonders for that big head of his.

(SHELLEY exits to change. HAZEL finishes getting dressed at the table. She talks to
herself in her compact mirror.)

                                           HAZEL:
And where were we, boys and girls? Oh, yes, well, that wily old fox, that wily old fox
began to play that fiddle, he began to play and not just any old song, but “Wildwood
Flower” and the woodsman, he was standing there in the middle of that darkened forest,
and right off he began to think of his wife, his one true love that drowned, and then that
axe began to feel mighty heavy and fell from his shoulder, and he laid it there in the
prairie grass, where it disappeared all of a sudden, and then he started to march off to
where the sound of that lovely voice was calling, deeper and deeper into the midnight
forest, and when he looked up he saw that the trees wore the sad faces of his lovely
departed, and all the willows seemed to be weeping, and then the lovely voice up and
disappeared, and the woodsman saw he had been enchanted by that wily old fox and his
fiddle, and worse still, he was lost in the middle of the darkened woods, and the
woodsman could hear the tiny laughter of that wily old fox, and just then the moon
                                                                                    Meno       27

slipped behind a cloud, and the woodsman fell to his knees, trembling in that lonely
darkness….

(The doorbell rings. HAZEL pulls herself to her feet and wobbles over and answers it. It
is WAYNE, a young man with greasy hair and a large smile.)

                                        HAZEL:
                     Let’s you and me run off while she ain’t looking.

                                        WAYNE:
                          Oh, she probably wouldn’t even notice.

                                         HAZEL:
We’re in the middle of an investigation right now. You’ll have to excuse the mess on
account of our attentions being on the case.

                                         WAYNE:
I just drove past there. They had three squad cars and a state trooper in front of the Fay’s
house.

                                        HAZEL:
                               You see anything interesting?

                                        WAYNE:
                                   Just Mrs. Fay crying.

                                      HAZEL:
   Oh, dear. Well, mind your shoes now, Wayne. We had the carpets done a week ago.

              (WAYNE wipes his shoes. They walk over to the kitchen table.)

                                     HAZEL:
              You want some coffee, Wayne? I was gonna make a fresh pot.

                                      WAYNE:
                            No ma’am, but thank you anyway.

                                      HAZEL:
       Well, I’m making some for Shelley and me. You sure you don’t want some?

                                         WAYNE:
                                   In that case…all right.

                              (HAZEL begins making coffee.)
                                                                                   Meno   28

                                       HAZEL:
                           You take cream and sugar, Wayne?

                                     WAYNE:
                          No ma’am. I mean yes. Two sugars.

                                        HAZEL:
            Shelley said there was a heap of trouble down at the diner today.

                                        WAYNE:
Yep. I’ve had about all I can of Mr. Dupont. I…well, I was about ready to quit this
afternoon but Shelley talked me out of it.

                                         HAZEL:
                      She’s a good girl. Keep you thinking straight.

                                       WAYNE:
           She does. I just wish…I had the nerve to finally do it. Quit, I mean.

                                       HAZEL:
                                How old are you, Wayne?

                                        WAYNE:
                                       Twenty-one.

                                       HAZEL:
                      Well, you got plenty of time to be brave yet.

                                          WAYNE:
Well, that’s not how I feel about it. I’ve been thinking…I’d like to maybe save up some
money. And the only way to do that is to go and find a job in a city somewhere.

                                        HAZEL:
                              You tell Shelley any of this?

                                       WAYNE:
       Oh, sure. But she says the same thing you did. She’s a very practical girl...

                                        HAZEL:
                          Well, that’s how she was brought up.

                                        WAYNE:
                               I appreciate it, I do. I just…

                                        HAZEL:
       Well, this ain’t none of my business; this is for you and Shelley to discuss.
                                                                                   Meno   29

                                         WAYNE:
Oh, she won’t even hear me out. She gets all upset and acts like I’m invisible all of a
sudden. Sometimes I wish I had met Shelley when we were both already who we’re
supposed to be. I just know if I leave now, she won’t ever forgive me.

                                        HAZEL:
                    Well, Wayne, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.

   (SHELLEY enters humming. She is wearing a nice shirt, jeans, and make-up now.)

                                     SHELLEY:
                      Good evening, Mr. Wayne Thebold the Third.

                                        WAYNE:
                                        Hi, Shel.

                            (SHELLEY inspects Wayne’s hair.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                         You didn’t even wash your hair for me?

                                         WAYNE:
I did. Only I had to do it with soap. We’ve been out of shampoo for a week now. None of
my brothers will go out and buy any.

                                      SHELLEY:
                             Well, what kind of date are you?

                                        WAYNE:
 I worked all day, Shel, you saw me. I didn’t have time to go out and get some shampoo.

                                      SHELLEY:
                               Well, how do you like that?

                                       HAZEL:
   I’m going to go put on my housecoat so you two can finish this argument in private.

(HAZEL exits slowly. As soon as she is out of sight, WAYNE grabs SHELLEY. He pulls
her into his lap.)

                                      WAYNE:
                               You smell like bubble gum.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                   Well, you sure don’t.
                                                                                  Meno      30

                                      WAYNE:
                  Come here for a second. I want to tell you something.

(SHELLEY leans closer. He goes to kiss her but she stops him and begins humming in his
ear.)

                                      WAYNE:
                                  What are you doing?

                                       SHELLEY:
                             I’m putting you under my spell.

                                       WAYNE:
                                  What are you singing?

                                   SHELLEY:
A Madonna song. I don’t know the name. But now I got you. And you won’t ever leave
me.

                                        WAYNE:
                                        Shelley…

                                       SHELLEY:
                                        What is it?

                                      WAYNE:
                       Shelley…I got something I need to tell you.

                                     SHELLEY:
                          No. Don’t you go and say it, Wayne.

                                       WAYNE:
                               Shelley…I got to tell you…

                                       SHELLEY:
            Don’t say you say it. (She covers her ears and begins humming.)

                                       WAYNE:
I decided I’m calling Mr. Dupont tonight. I going to tell him that I won’t be working for
him tomorrow. Or the day after that.

                                     SHELLEY:
                              Wayne, don’t you dare say it.
                                                                                     Meno      31

                                            WAYNE:
I got to, Shelley. If I don’t do it now, I never will. And then I’ll end up like my brothers
hanging out at the Bide-A-While every weeknight. They’re up there right now, I bet. I
couldn’t stand being like one of them, drinking every night to keep themselves from
blowing their brains out, having to go to the same terrible job everyday. I couldn’t stand
it.

                                       SHELLEY:
           (crying softly) Well then when? When are you planning on leaving?

                                         WAYNE:
I don’t know, I haven’t figured it out exactly. Sometime soon. By the end of this week, I
guess. Barney, you remember him, from my graduating class, he’s in Indianapolis, and he
said they were hiring at the machine shop where he works and…

                                      SHELLEY:
               So you’re breaking up with me and leaving town all at once?

                                          WAYNE:
                                          Shelley…

                                      SHELLEY:
               Well, you can’t. You can’t break up with me. Not if I say no.

                                         WAYNE:
                                  Please, Shelley, this is…

                                        SHELLEY:
I don’t want to know. I don’t want to hear another word. Don’t tell me when you’re
leaving. Just leave. I don’t want to hear another word about it.

                                          WAYNE:
                                          Shelley…

                                          SHELLEY:
                                  It’s fine, just go. Just go.

                                         WAYNE:
                           Please, Shelley, this is hard enough…

                                    SHELLEY:
Well, why did you even come see me then, if you already had your mind made up and
everything?
                                                                                     Meno    32

                                       WAYNE:
Because I needed to see you. I wanted to spend as much time with you as I could. And I
don’t know…I thought maybe…

                                       SHELLEY:
      I already told you I’m not leaving. I can’t. And it’s not right you keep asking.

                                           WAYNE:
It’s not fair, Shelley. She isn’t your responsibility. There’s plenty of folks around here
who would help out and besides…

                                       SHELLEY:
   I ain’t saying another word to you. And I don’t want to hear another thing about it.

(HAZEL coughs from offstage, then enters. SHELLEY quickly stands and pours the
coffee.)

                                        HAZEL:
     Well, here we all are then. You explain the ongoing investigation to Wayne yet?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                        No, not yet.

                                         HAZEL:
                                    You still quarreling?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          Yes.

                                        HAZEL:
   Well, that’s too bad. Because we’ve got an important crime to solve now, don’t we?

                             (HAZEL looks down at her notes.)

                                         HAZEL:
Well, Wayne, I’ll fill you in. Approximately 8:00pm, Officer Bill calls in an abandoned
bicycle. A few minutes later, he reports the owner of said bicycle is missing. He calls for
backup. Wes arrives approximately 8:25pm. Wes, the commanding officer, calls in a 207,
a kidnapping. I started coming up with a list of suspects, but Shelley and I couldn’t agree
on any.

(The police scanner interrupts: “Jan, this is unit…um…101. Can you ask Mr. Dupont if
he has those lights from the parade last year. We’re gonna need as many lights as we can
get. It’s starting to get dark now and…tell him, it’s an emergency and all and…that’s it.
Over.”)
                                                                                       Meno      33

(SHELLEY angrily pours the coffee. She goes to switch off the police scanner but
HAZEL shouts at her.)

                                           HAZEL:
                                           Shelley!

                                       SHELLEY:
               I don’t see why we have to listen to that awful thing anymore.

                                        HAZEL:
                   We don’t. But I always thought you found it exciting.

                                         SHELLEY:
It’s just making me anxious is all. I feel guilty listening in on other people’s lives all the
time.

                                          HAZEL:
People have a right to witness other people’s trouble. It helps make a body sensible and
strong. It makes you feel grateful for the little you do have.

                                       SHELLEY:
That’s not how I see it. It makes me think of the awful secrets everybody’s got. Which I
wish they would just keep to themselves.

                                         HAZEL:
                  Well, you can turn it off if that’s what you really want.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                       No, never mind.

                                         WAYNE:
              Hey, did Shelley tell you her idea for a store she wants to open?

                                          HAZEL:
                                  No, I don’t think she did.

                                           WAYNE:
She wants to open her own pet store. She just got the idea for it the other day, at work.
“Birdland.” You know that little white store, on the corner of Fifth? She just wants to sell
birds. And inside, there’ll be a little town, with little birdhouses instead of cages and little
backyards and white picket fences, and children can come after school and feed the birds.
A whole town, just for birds.

                                         HAZEL:
                    Are you going to sell tickets or something, Shelley?
                                                                                   Meno     34

                                       SHELLEY:
                                          No.

                                      HAZEL:
                      And you won’t have any dogs or cats or fish?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                          No.

                                         HAZEL:
                     Well, I think it sounds like something, all right.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                 (whispering) Something.

                                       WAYNE:
            Did Shelley tell you how she took a counterfeit bill the other day?

                                         HAZEL:
                              I don’t think she mentioned it.

                                       WAYNE:
This fellah comes in and asks for change for a hundred and it turns out it was fake. It
looked awful real to me, though.

                                         HAZEL:
  Well, we are all like children, ain’t we? All as weak and easy to winnow as children.

(The police scanner interrupts: “This is unit 101. Jan, it looks like we…it looks like we
found a shoe…it’s covered in blood…it was about a hundred yards away, in the woods
behind their house. You want to call up the FBI in Springfield and let them know where
we’re at?”)

                                        HAZEL:
                     Oh, dear Lord. That crook. That awful, old wolf.

                              (SHELLEY has begun crying.)

                                       HAZEL:
                                      Oh, Shelley…

                                         WAYNE:
                                  I think I ought to leave.

                                        HAZEL:
      Now, we ought to all sit here and say a prayer or two for Mr. and Mrs. Fay…
                                                                                   Meno    35

                                       WAYNE:
                           Would you like me to stay, Shelley?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                          No.

                                         HAZEL:
                                         Shelley!

                                         WAYNE:
No, ma’am, I think I ought to go. I told my brothers I’d meet up with them later. They’re
up at the Bide-A-While, waiting for me…and, well…you can call me later if you like,
Shelley. Goodnight, Miss Dixon. Goodnight, Shelley.

(WAYNE stares at SHELLEY before exiting. As soon as he is gone, SHELLEY lays her
head down against the table and begins crying. HAZEL tries to comfort her, running her
hand over her hair.)

                                           HAZEL:
There, there. Now you cry as much as you like. Your tears can be a kind of praying, too.
And wherever that little girl is, she’ll hear your prayers.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                        Lucky her.

                                        HAZEL:
  I tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to draw you a nice bath, how’s that sound?

                                    (SHELLEY nods.)

                                       HAZEL:
And then, when you’re done, we’ll sit out here and busy ourselves with a game of
Scrabble. And we won’t worry about anybody but ourselves. How’s that?

                                        SHELLEY:
There ain’t nothing in this world that’s wonderful or beautiful or secret. It always ends up
turning ugly. It always does.

                                          HAZEL:
Well, we’ll just have to see about that. I’ll go draw your bath and we’ll have a nice
evening with no more talk of any sort of trouble or sadness or anything, okay?

(HAZEL slowly climbs to her feet and exits. SHELLEY places her head back down on the
table.)
                                                                                      Meno   36

                                         SHELLEY:
     I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I do. (She looks up at the crucifix.)

(The police scanner interrupts: “Unit 101…Jan, it looks like…well, we found a body…it
was in the woods and…Oh, God, Jan…Wes said he isn’t sure if we should rope off the
entire woods or what…Will you please check back with the FBI and change it to a 187?
We…well, we’re gonna definitely need their help on this. Over.”)

(SHELLEY lifts her head up and stares over at the police scanner. She stands up, grabs
her bicycle by the door, opens the door, pushes the bike out, and exits. The scanner
echoes on in the dark with static. Lights fade down, as sparse country music fades up.)
                                                                                  Meno     37



                                ACT TWO, SCENE ONE
SHELLEY rides her bicycle through the blue night, beneath the eaves of trees decorated
with tiny, green tissue-paper sea monsters. The sounds of unfamiliar animals and insects
echo all about. She stops riding in the parking lot of the Bide-A-While, suggested by a
small, movable letter sign that spells out the establishment’s name and announces:
“Tuesday Night: Lingerie Contest. Friday Night: Dollar Beers or Two Dollar Shots.”
The sound of drunken laughter and noise carries over from inside. SHELLEY stares down
at the shoebox.

                                       SHELLEY:
Did you see the way they all looked, standing around in front of Jamie Fay’s house, Mr.
Peepers? Standing around and whispering like that. I hate them all. I really do. Maybe
you and I will see her. Maybe we’ll see her ghost wandering around, looking for someone
to cry her secret to.

                         (SHELLEY stares at the sign, frowning.)

                                        SHELLEY:
That, Mr. Peepers, is the cause of all my trouble. That’s where my mother got the notion
to run off. That’s where she met the man who drove her far away from me. And left me
here so now I am nobody or nothing.

          (SHELLEY opens the shoebox and addresses the dead bird directly.)

                                       SHELLEY:
The thing is you don’t even look dead. I wish you’d open your eyes and start flapping
your wings right now. I wish you would start whistling and fly off and I wouldn’t tell a
soul. Do you think you could do that for me, Mr. Peepers? I’m desperate to see
something that isn’t broke or worn down or just plain suffering. (SHELLEY glances
around.) He ain’t even up here like he said he would be. His car’s nowhere to be seen
anyway. Wayne never was any good for me. I don’t care what Honey says.

(BOB WHITE enters quickly. BOB is a large, scruffy-looking man dressed in his factory
outfit. He is missing his right hand. He steps out of the darkness and places his good
hand on the handlebars of Shelley’s bike. SHELLEY screams out of fright.)

                                        BOB:
                                 Who you whispering to?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                        Nobody.

                                         BOB:
                     I thought you might be trying to whisper to me.
                                                                                    Meno      38

                                    SHELLEY:
                               No…I’m sorry. I was just…

                                        BOB:
I thought maybe you were asking me to sing you a song. Something from the jukebox
maybe? Maybe C-29? “Moonlight for Lovers” by the Ray Squires Band?

                                        SHELLEY:
No, please. I was just up here looking for someone. I don’t see his car though. I was just
heading home.

                                           BOB:
Who you looking for, if you don’t mind me asking? You weren’t looking for me? You
weren’t trying to find me so I could sing you a song?

                                      SHELLEY:
No, no. I just…well, I decided I wanted to go for a bicycle ride is all. I was just heading
home.

(For the duration of the scene, SHELLEY tricks to maneuver her bike away from BOB.
But BOB does not let her go.)

                                            BOB:
Well, how about I sing you a little tune first? Maybe you’d like old R-33. “Goodnight
Irene” by the venerable Cole Sisters. (BOB howls the song in an off-key, then begins
coughing.) They won’t let me in the bar anymore without cash in hand. My credit is no
good with them. So I sit out here and sing for drinks. People can awful generous when
they want to be. The name’s Bob White, by the way. I don’t think we’ve been properly
introduced, now have we?

                                      SHELLEY:
I’m pleased, pleased to meet you, Mr. White. I see you in church every week. You sit in
the far back row.

             (SHELLEY tries to turn her bike to leave, but BOB blocks her.)

                                         BOB:
Well, I knew I recognized you from somewhere. I did. Glad to make your formal
acquaintance, from one child of God to another.

(BOB extends his left hand to shake. SHELLEY extends her right. She smiles then
switches hands. BOB switches hands as well and reveals he is missing his right hand.)
                                                                                      Meno    39

                                           BOB:
Oh now, don’t mind that. The right hand got taken off when I was seventeen years old,
over at the Precious Eternity plant, you know, the collectable plate factory before it shut
down. Fooling around when I shoulda’ been watching what I was doing. A whole palette
of Tin Man and Scarecrow plates from the Wizard of Oz fell right on it. Bam. Just like
that. Crushed. I went from right-handed to left-handed in a blink of an eye.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                        I’m so sorry.

                                             BOB:
No, no, don’t be sorry, young lady. Don’t be sorry. I get along better without it. I used to
have a nasty habit of killing things, poor little, defenseless things and this, well this cured
me of that right quick. I mean I used to enjoy killing, I did. It was the only thing I felt I
could do right. I would sit out there in the woods with my brother and it was about the
only time I ever got to thinking about God. Shooting those poor animals was the only
way I communicate with my Creator, to get to know how He felt about things. I was a
great shot with a rifle, but, well, I dunno, maybe I could have been a marksman in the
army, like my brother, but who knows right? Who knows. The Shadow is who, I guess.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                      Yes, the Shadow.

                  (SHELLEY tries to pedal off but BOB stops her again.)

                                          BOB:
Well, of course, I don’t mean to bother you any, I understand you probably get bothered
by men all the time, looking how you do, but I guess I have a question I’d like to ask you,
if you promise not to laugh.

                                         SHELLEY:
                                          All right.

                                           BOB:
I was just curious: do you happen to be a singer of some kind? I just ask because you
strike me as having a mighty appealing face and I’m sure I might have seen you on an old
record album somewhere.

                                        SHELLEY:
No, I’m not a singer. I mean I sing in the choir, at church. I’m Shelley George. I see you
at church every week. And I work at the diner, down by the lake. I see you there every
Friday, for fish fry.
                                                                                   Meno     40

                                          BOB:
Of course, of course, I knew I knew the face. But well, may I ask you another question if
you don’t mind?

                                     SHELLEY:
                       Please, Mr. White, I have to get on home…

                                          BOB:
                     I’m standing here trying to build up the courage.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         Okay.

                                       BOB:
             Would you mind telling me if you thought I was ugly-looking?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         What?

                                         BOB:
                             Ugly, you know, ugly to look at.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                 I don’t know, Mr. White.

                                       BOB:
You don’t know? Why that’s as good as a yes. You might as well just call me disgusting.

                                       SHELLEY:
        No, please, I don’t think you’re ugly. I think you have a fine-looking face.

                                          BOB:
                                  But kinda’ sleazy-like.

                                       SHELLEY:
                No, I think you look like someone who works for a living.

                                           BOB:
Oh, well, that’s okay. I’ve been told I was ugly by a lot of people and that was before I
lost the hand.

                                       SHELLEY:
                       Well, I think you have a fine face. Now if…

                      (SHELLEY tries to exit, but BOB blocks her.)
                                                                                   Meno      41

                                        BOB:
      That’s the problem. Where I work now, all anybody sees is the missing hand.

                             (BOB holds up his missing hand)

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       That’s awful.

                                            BOB:
                      It is awful. I work the line at Happy-time now.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       Happy-time?

                                         BOB:
The toy factory, over in Dwyer. “Playtime is Happy-time.” We make doll parts and toy
ponies. Sometimes I’m on the line that does Pretty Polly, the baby doll. Other times, it’s
for the bowing ponies, Wonder-Ponies.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                I don’t know any of those.

                                         BOB:
Ponies to dress-up and such. They all have their heads bowed, like you’re petting them.
Last week we started a run of Christmas ponies. Maybe you know our doll, “Gypsy?”
She’s a doll that talks.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                          No.

                                        BOB:
                              What about “Fashion Carla?”

                                       SHELLEY:
                                     I don’t think so.

                                            BOB:
They’re mostly the kind sold at dollar stores and drug stores, that kind of thing. Not the
real nice kind of toys. They’re usually all in one aisle, you know, in some corner, like in
some supermarket. They’re the kind no kid wants. You get it for them to keep them from
crying.

                                        SHELLEY:
                            I think I know the kind you mean.
                                                                                  Meno    42

                                            BOB:
That place, that factory is so loud, you can’t hear anything. There’s a mold, a press, you
know, that makes all the ponies and dolls, one after the other, sometimes they get stuck,
like Siamese. Or some times they come out funny, missing their heads or hooves, or arms
or legs or backsides. We put all those in a box and then send them back to the front of the
line and they melt them and put back them back in the mold. It makes me feel awful.
Handing them that box at the end of the day, you know. Turning in all them ugly,
deformed animals and children.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                      That’s awful.

                                         BOB:
                 Would you mind it terribly if I sang something for you?

                                     SHELLEY:
                        Please, Mr. White, I ought to be going…

                                           BOB:
                      It’s a song I wrote, while working on the line.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                        All right.

                                          BOB:
                        “I’m as broken as broke can be, dear lord
                             I’m as broken as broke can be
                            And when it’s me time, dear lord
                                don’t fail to shelter me”

                                     SHELLEY:
                                Thank you, that was nice.

                                         BOB:
                       Oh, now, I forgot what I was talking about.

                                      SHELLEY:
                       How at the factory, nobody sees your face.

                                           BOB:
                         They don’t. It’s the honest to God truth.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                        Why not?
                                                                                        Meno   43

                                        BOB:
We’ve got masks on, for the fumes. And uniforms and hats. So the only way to tell
anyone apart is by their hands.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                       Oh, that is awful.

                                              BOB:
I know, I know. But there’s this lady there, Silvia. She’s from Mexico. She came up to
work at the factory with her brother and two sisters. She’s stationed at the end of my line.
And they switch us every few hours, you know, to keep us from going mad. So once a
day, she comes from the end of the line to the front where I’m working, and I have to
hand her this little controller, what’s it called? It’s a controller with a button on it. You hit
the button if the press gets jammed or there’s an emergency or fire. It’s called something,
but I forget right now.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                       No, I understand.

                                            BOB:
So I have to hand her the little button with my left hand so she doesn’t know I don’t have
the right. It’s horrible is what it is.

                                         SHELLEY:
                                        That’s terrible.

                                             BOB:
           It is terrible. Because I can’t get up the nerve to say anything to her.

                                     SHELLEY:
                    Well, have you…have you ever tried talking to her?

                                              BOB:
Who me, what are you crazy? No, I couldn’t. Silvia wears red nail polish. When I hand
her the controller, all I see is red nails. What can I say to someone like that?

                                      SHELLEY:
              You might just introduce yourself. Just like we’re talking now.

                                            BOB:
                              Just like we’re talking now, huh?

                                         SHELLEY:
                                           Sure.

                       (BOB stares at SHELLEY for a few moments.)
                                                                                Meno    44

                                        BOB:
                        Go on and tell me your last name again.

                                      SHELLEY:
                              It’s George. Shelley George.

                                       BOB:
George, huh? I used to know your mom. She was a pistol. She was a wild one with her
red hair. Loretta, that was her name?

                                      SHELLEY:
                                        Yes.

                                         BOB:
But she went by Lottie, wasn’t it? She was all brass. She had you when she was young,
huh?

                                      SHELLEY:
                                        Yes.

                                        BOB:
She used to come up here on weeknights. Not a lot of ladies, do that. Come up here on
weeknights by themselves.

                                      SHELLEY:
                     She didn’t like to be alone, at home, with me.

                                        BOB:
                                    That’s too bad.

                                    SHELLEY:
                  She was the one who taught me how to sing though.

                                            BOB:
Well, I remember she had a pair of lungs. She used to sing along with the jukebox.
People would clap when she was done. Like they were at a real show, like she was an
actual singer. (beat) You’d like to hear a secret about her? Your mother, I mean?

                                       SHELLEY:
                             I think I better get home now.
                                                                                 Meno     45

                                           BOB:
One time, your mother and me we was drunk, she was drunker than me, so I gave her a
ride home. People don’t think you can drive if you’re missing a hand, but you can. I got
this knob attached to the steering wheel. Well, she was having a hard time remembering
where she lived. And when we pulled up in front of her place, she said she didn’t want to
go in. I remember I tried to make a pass at her—she was one of the few women back then
who would even bother to talk to me—and she just laughed and then she put a finger to
the side of my mouth—right here (points at the spot) and she said I ought to keep that
spot for her. That even though we never even kissed, I ought to keep it to commemorate
the occasion. And I ain’t never been kissed on that spot. Not even when I did have the
chance.

                                     SHELLEY:
    That sounds like her. My mother wanted to be remembered for not doing nothing.

                                           BOB:
No, no, she had kindness. She did all of that out of kindness. She could’ve slapped my
face or stormed out but she didn’t. She did what she did out of kindness but didn’t make a
fuss out of it. Like the good book says. About doing it in secret, charity I mean.

                                      SHELLEY:
Thank you for telling me that story, Mr. White. I’m going to go home now if you don’t
mind.



                                         BOB:
Wait a minute. I see you got something in your basket there. What is that? Some kind of
surprise treasure?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                 It’s just an old shoebox.

                      (BOB reaches down and opens the shoebox.)

                                          BOB:
                      A pair of sparkly shoes is all. Sure are shiny.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                    That’s all there is.

                                          BOB:
And what’s that? A wee little bird. The poor thing. The poor, poor dear. You going to
bury him somewhere?
                                                                                   Meno   46

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         I guess.

                                        BOB:
                        What was his name, the poor poor thing?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       Mr. Peepers.

                (BOB holds the dead bird in his hand, gently stroking it.)

                                        BOB:
Oh, Mr. Peepers. Now he’s singing about the kingdom of God. Now his eyes are the eyes
of the Creator.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         Yes.

                                          BOB:
                Here. We’ll send him off like an Egyptian, like a Pharaoh.

        (BOB reaches into his coveralls and takes out a doll-sized hand mirror.)

                                        BOB:
Look what I got here. Something magic. I took this from the factory line the other day.
Look how tiny it is.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                      What is that?

                                            BOB:
It’s a hand mirror. It’s for a doll who was born missing her hands. She had no use for the
mirror as far as I could tell. So maybe it might be something magic for your friend there.
Maybe he’ll be able to talk to you through this mirror, and you’ll be able to talk to him
through any mirror in the whole wide world. Like Snow White maybe. Which was how
ghosts used to be able to communicate with people. Before telephones and radios, I
mean.

             (BOB places the tiny mirror inside and then he closes the box.)

                                           BOB:
             He’ll be sent off to the underworld with all these mortal riches.

                                       SHELLEY:
                   Please, Mr. White, I ought to be heading home now.
                                                                                   Meno     47

                     (SHELLEY tries to ride off, but BOB stops her.)

                                      BOB:
                 Would you mind me asking you one more thing, miss?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                    Please, Mr. White.

                                          BOB:
                                  No, I can’t even ask it.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                        No, go on.

                                          BOB:
                                   Well, no, I couldn’t.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                   Just go on and say it.

                                         BOB:
(very fast) Would you mind touching my left hand for good luck? Just for good luck? I
think it might make me brave enough to talk to that Mexican girl, just like we are, right
now.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                    Please, Mr. White.

                                              BOB:
I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. I see something beautiful and weak and small and I got
a notion that if I can catch it, it will somehow save me.

                                      SHELLEY:
                       Please, Mr. White. I’d just like to ride home.

                                         BOB:
I know, I know, and here I am standing in your way. I don’t know what gets into my
fool’s mind. I see something smaller and weaker than me and it makes me mean. That’s
what I need to be saved from. I need something to make me gentle, something meek.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                    Please, Mr. White.

                                         BOB:
                                   Only for good luck.
                                                                                 Meno   48

                                       SHELLEY:
                     If I touch your hand, will you please let me go?

                                           BOB:
                         I will. I promise I will. Cross my heart.

                                     SHELLEY:
                                   Okay, but please…

(SHELLEY gently reaches and touches BOB’S hand. It is very quiet. BOB begins to nod,
silently.)

                                     BOB:
Thank you. Thank you so much. You wouldn’t know what it means looking the way you
do, you wouldn’t.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                  All right, Mr. White.

                                            BOB:
I guess you ought to be running along now. Before something terrible happens. It’s a
night for that sort of thing. There’s something terrible on the loose.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                       Please…

                                          BOB:
I’ll be seeing you in church on Sunday. First row, this time. You ride straight home now!
Straight on home!

       (SHELLEY rides off in terror. The lights fade down as the music fades up.)
                                                                                    Meno    49



                                ACT TWO, SCENE TWO
SHELLEY rides her bicycle again, passing skeletal mailboxes, and distant farmhouses,
which at this hour, are quietly lit. The sound of someone practicing a violin echoes from
the distance. SHELLEY stops pedaling and pauses to listen. She opens the shoebox and
speaks into the tiny mirror like a microphone.

                                      SHELLEY:
That man was crazy, I swear. I swear he would have strangled us both if we gave him the
chance. Oh, Mr. Peepers. You got no idea how lucky you are to be dead.

       (The violin strikes a sour note. Then another. Then it returns to its melody.)

                                       SHELLEY:
That song sounds awful familiar, Mr. Peepers. I think my mother used to sing it. She used
to sit in my bedroom and sing me a song each night when she was combing my hair. She
used to make up songs for me. One was about the color of my eyes, which she said she
had stolen from a jewelry shop, and one was about how I was missing my two front teeth.
I don’t have all bad thoughts when I think of her now. Just most of them are bad, I guess.

    (The violin strikes another sour note. Then again. Finally it returns to its melody.)

                                       SHELLEY:
            I do know that song. I do. My mother used to sing it on Sundays.

   (SHELLEY begins to sing along with the violin to “For His eye is on the sparrow.”)

Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely,
Away from heaven and home?

For Jesus is my portion
My constant friend is He
For His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.

                  (The song ends, then begins again, strong and lovely.)

                                       SHELLEY:
Maybe it is a ghost. Maybe that’s the sound of Jamie Fay or my mother trying to talk to
me but I didn’t ever learn how to play music so I can’t tell what they’re trying to tell me.
Probably not. Probably I could stand in these woods for a long and never see anything or
hear anything from either of them. Neither of them know I’m even listening.

                                (The violin suddenly stops.)
                                                                                 Meno      50



                                       SHELLEY:
I haven’t made my mind up yet. I got enough money. I could ride down to the bus depot
and park my bike and wait there all night until the bus showed up. I could get on one and
never look back for anything.

                            (The violin begins playing again.)

                                     SHELLEY:
                     (whispers) Jamie Fay? Jamie Fay? Jamie Fay?

                           (SHELLEY listens for a response.)

                                        SHELLEY:
I’m crazy for wanting to be the one to see her as a ghost. Maybe I ought to leave. Maybe
I ought to go where I think she’d go if she was lost or alone. I know. I know just where
I’d go.

                   (SHELLEY holds her hand up to her mouth again.)

                                   SHELLEY:
      Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. I’m leaving now. Goodbye.

                              (SHELLEY pedals off again.)

                           (Music fades up as she rides away.)
                                                                                  Meno     51



                               ACT TWO, SCENE THREE
SHELLEY pedals through the dark, between the odd shadows of trees. Finally, she
arrives at the edge of the lake, suggested by an old wooden sign that says, “Green Lake:
No swimming after 8pm. Fishing with license, in season.” The sound of cicadas and
crickets hum in the darkness. SHELLEY sets down her bicycle and walks towards the
edge of the lake.

                                       SHELLEY:
I thought this is where she’d go. But maybe I’m too late. I thought maybe she’d think this
was where she was supposed to end up. That God was that sea serpent and, under all
those weeds and green water, was heaven. This is still where I’d end up going I think.

     (SHELLEY looks around and finds a stick, then begins scratching in the mud.)

                                       SHELLEY:
              (She reads as she writes) Hello, hello, hello? Is anyone there?

(JUNIOR enters. He is a gangly, skinny fellow, in a green rubber monster suit and mask.)

                                        JUNIOR:
                                        Hey there!

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         Hello?

                                       JUNIOR:
                               What are you writing there?

                                      SHELLEY:
                              What? I can’t understand you.

                              (JUNIOR removes the mask.)

                                       JUNIOR:
                           I asked what are you writing there?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       I know you.

                                        JUNIOR:
Of course, you do. Everybody knows me. I’m the monster of the goddamn lake. I’m
practically the mayor of this town. That’s how much personal charisma I happen to have.
Let me guess. You came up here to get your picture taken? It’s ten dollars. Fifteen if you
want me to stand in the lake.
                                                                                 Meno   52

                                      SHELLEY:
                   No thank you. (beat) Wait a minute. I do know you.

                                         JUNIOR:
Of course you do. You used to be friends with my little sister, Anne. I’m Junior. Junior
Hamford. You know Anne. Anne with the cleft lip. You used to come over and have
sleepovers and play “light as a feather” at my house on Friday nights. You even sent me a
Valentine once. Then you decided you were too good for me. Went on to boys in your
own grade.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                  I don’t remember that.

                                     JUNIOR:
      Well, I’m sure you don’t. You were a lot younger and a whole lot nicer then.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                What’s supposed to mean?

                                       JUNIOR:
It means what it means. I saw you walking into church and you acted like you didn’t even
know me.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                I probably didn’t see you.

                                            JUNIOR:
My eye, you didn’t. I know how girls are. They see you and act like they don’t see you
because they happen to have a very high opinion of themselves. They think everybody is
just going to fall all over their feet, dying to be treated terrible by them. But not me.

                                      SHELLEY:
                             I’m sorry. I just didn’t see you.

                                        JUNIOR:
                If that’s how you want to play it, Scarlet, it’s okay by me.

                                     SHELLEY:
         Anne said you’d been in the Army. Are you back to stay now for good?

                                          JUNIOR:
Yeah, I’m back. I’ve been back for a few weeks now. It’s not much, to be back, I mean. I
keep realizing why I wanted to leave so bad. You ever try reading the newspaper here?
It’s all quotes from the Bible. In the goddamn newspaper. What kind of place is this?
                                                                                     Meno    53

                                      SHELLEY:
                          Why are you up here dressed like that?

                                        JUNIOR:
I’m working for Mr. Dupont. I’m a night clerk at his motel. The one by the highway. He
asked me if I wanted to make a few extra bucks this week, for Monster Days. I’m
supposed to stand around here until nine o’clock in case someone wants to get their
goddamn picture taken, but nobody’s been around the last couple of hours. I guess
they’re all at home, talking on the phone to one another about what happened to that poor
girl. There was a few families up here swimming, having a picnic, but then when the
news came, they all went home. Then I saw that odd fellah Norris Ambley walking
around but he hurried off soon as I waved at him. And then the sheriff and a couple
others came by here a few hours ago and looked around, but they didn’t find nothing. I
tried to help but they didn’t seem much interested in what I had to say.

                                      SHELLEY:
                      They found her body. Just an hour or two ago.

                                         JUNIOR:
Oh, I know. That’s what my sister said. She came by and told me everything. It was big
news to her and my mom. They got nothing else to get excited about, I guess. I tell ya I’m
glad to be up here. The two of them sit on the phone and talk and talk and talk and never
say anything important. That’s the problem with the world, I think. It’s all gossip now. I
refuse to watch the goddamn television anymore. The voices of the people on TV sound
exactly like my mother and sister. I got no use for any of it.

                                        SHELLEY:
                 I didn’t want to hear anything else about what happened.

                                         JUNIOR:
Well of course, you didn’t. You have to be a certain kind of miserable person to enjoy
that kind of thing. I mean, me, I kept hoping maybe that girl had just run off or was
hiding, I even thought maybe she fell into the far side of the lake, but well, to be honest, I
think if she did, they wouldn’t ever find her. That monster, well, it ain’t a joke, I can tell
you that much. I’ve been standing up here all week and I’m pretty convinced there’s
something actually down there. I don’t know if it’s a dinosaur or a prehistoric fish or a
goddamn Russian submarine, but there’s definitely something down there.

                                       SHELLEY:
                         Really. Are you some sort of expert now?

                                        JUNIOR:
Well, that’s awfully cute. No, I’m not an expert. But I was just standing where you are
now, a couple of nights ago, and I swore I saw these strange silver lights, under the water.
It gave me the goddamn heebie-jeebies.
                                                                                    Meno      54

                                       SHELLEY:
                                   That really happened?

                                        JUNIOR:
        It did. You ever hear story of when Grant Dupont first spotted that thing?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                Only like a thousand times.

                                         JUNIOR:
Well, it happened right where you happen to be standing. (in a tour guide tone) On
November 15, 1933, on a quiet summer morning, just about six o’clock in the a.m., Mr.
Grant Dupont of Somerset, Illinois, was alone in his boat fishing when all of a sudden a
tremendous tidal wave erupted from the center of the lake, and a gigantic, green creature,
most probably an ancestor of the brontosaur, reared its head above the waves. Mr.
Dupont just happened to have his camera with him, which he often did, because he had
twice broken the record for the largest small-mouth bass in the county, and as the creature
disappeared beneath the water, Mr. Dupont snapped a photograph, which revealed the
monster’s strange, fearsome shape. (back to his natural tone) And that’s what happened
right where you’re standing. The monster of the Green Lake.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                       (bored) Wow.

                                       JUNIOR:
Mr. Dupont asked me memorize all that before he gave this costume. I did it in a couple
hours. I have like a nearly superhuman memory. It’s uncanny, really. I scored so
goddamn high on all my intelligence tests that the Army almost didn’t let me in.
(JUNIOR tries to unzip his costume but is unable. He struggles, too proud to ask for
help.)

                                          SHELLEY:
               It doesn’t look like all those smarts have done much for you.

                                           JUNIOR:
Hey! This isn’t so bad. I got a pretty nasty heat rash the other day, but I dug some
ventilation holes in the side, so I could breathe a little easier. (beat) So why’d you come
up here anyway?

                                      SHELLEY:
        I don’t know. To be alone I guess. I thought that it might be quiet up here.

                                           JUNIOR:
                           Oh, I get it. I’m bothering you, am I?
                                                                                    Meno     55

                                         SHELLEY:
 No, I just, I was just hoping that if I came up here, I wouldn’t have to talk to anybody.

                                     JUNIOR:
Well, I won’t annoy you anymore, how’s that? We can just sit here and not say a word to
each other at all.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                  Okay. That’d be great.

                                        JUNIOR:
                                        Wonderful.

(JUNIOR nods. SHELLEY and JUNIOR sit staring at each in silence for one actual
minute. The silence becomes too much for JUNIOR who begins picking at a fingernail.
He itches his nose, fixes his hair, smells his own breath by breathing into his cupped
hand, then finally speaks.)

                                       JUNIOR:
           Hey, what time is it anyway? I got to be up at the motel pretty soon.

                                       SHELLEY:
                            I don’t know. I don’t wear a watch.

                                         JUNIOR:
I usually wear one too, but this thing, well I can’t fit a watch underneath it. I guess maybe
I ought to be heading on over there.

               (JUNIOR tries to get out of his costume again but is unable.)

                                         JUNIOR:
I work out at the Twilight, out by the interstate, in case you’re interested. Yep. Every
night from eleven pm to seven am.

                                      SHELLEY:
                              That sounds pretty depressing.

                                            JUNIOR:
No, no, I love it, actually. I do a room check every couple of hours. I just poke around the
motel, make sure there’s no trouble. Mostly closing people’s doors, turning off the
outside lights. I like it because I get to look into people’s rooms every night.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                You look into their rooms?
                                                                                     Meno      56

                                         JUNIOR:
                                   Sure. It’s the best part.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                     What do you see?

                                           JUNIOR:
It’s mostly people sleeping, some of them watching the TV. Sometimes you see a couple
fighting. My favorite one was one night, about three in the morning, I was walking
around and I see this naked woman, and not that she was ugly, she was just a regular
woman, though, but naked, and it made me stop, so I kind of crept and looked and she
went and lied down in her bed, and there was a naked man in there, too, and I thought,
well, I know what this is, but then I looked and there was a baby between them. It was the
whole family and they were together in bed, sleeping. It was one of the best things I ever
saw. You know, I didn’t expect to see that baby there. That’s what I like about that job.
I’m always seeing things like that. People forget that they’re in public, you know, they’re
sleeping like it’s their home and all, so they just end up being themselves. It’s pretty
wonderful.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                     That sounds okay.

                                         JUNIOR:
I love it. Watching people, I mean. It was the only part I liked about being in the Army.
Fire watch, it’s called. You walk around the perimeter and look out at the city that’s
asleep and you look at all the sleeping soldiers and they all look like little kids and then
it’s the only time you realize how lovely the world is and everything.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          I guess.

                                         JUNIOR:
                               Hey, can I ask you something?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          Okay.

                                      JUNIOR:
       You really don’t remember sending that Valentine when you were younger?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                           No.

                                        JUNIOR:
                                      You really don’t?
                                                                                    Meno      57

                                       SHELLEY:
                                     No. I really don’t.

                                         JUNIOR:
Because the funny thing was it wasn’t even Valentine’s Day. It was like the middle of
summer, I think. And it was gigantic. It was like the size of nine or ten pieces of paper
taped together. All in the shape of a heart. I still got it somewhere, I think, in my mom’s
attic maybe.

                                       SHELLEY:
                            Well, I don’t remember doing that.

                                       JUNIOR:
  Well, okay, I won’t bother you again about it. It’s just funny you not remembering it.

                                     SHELLEY:
               I can’t remember every stupid thing I did when I was a kid.

                                         JUNIOR:
Of course, not. Nobody would expect you to. Except if you spent all that goddamn time
making it and all, and you not being all that young. And it being done all in fourth-grade
calligraphy. (beat) So you just came up here, to be alone? That’s it? Because that’s pretty
interesting. I mean most people, well, I just find it interesting is all.

                                      SHELLEY:
               I don’t know. I came up here because I just wanted to think.

                                          JUNIOR:
Oh, well, like I said, if I’m interrupting…I just thought you looked kind of lost standing
over here by yourself.

                                        SHELLEY:
                  I’m not lost. I was just looking for something, I guess.

                                        JUNIOR:
                                        Like what?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                     I dunno. Nothing.

                                         JUNIOR:
                                           Oh.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          What?
                                                                                     Meno      58

                                       JUNIOR:
You’re looking for the same thing I was looking for when I left this dump. When I joined
the Army I mean.

                                       SHELLEY:
                          I don’t know what you’re talking about.

                                           JUNIOR:
Sure you don’t. I traveled halfway around the world, I got sent to Afghanistan, I did my
time, got sent back here, and the best thing I’ve ever seen are all those different folks
lying in their beds at the motel. I think you can look all over for something amazing, but
it ends up always being in the exact same place.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                     And where’s that?

                                         JUNIOR:
People’s faces. I know you’re not going to believe me, but I think you find it when you
look at people, at their faces, when you really watch them, especially if they don’t notice
you looking. It’s the reason I like my job so much, I guess. (beat) Now you happen to
have a very interesting face, if you don’t mind me saying. Your nose is really unique.
Most girls, they got noses that are turned up. They always look they like just smelled
something bad. My sister Anne just happens to have an upturned nose, if you didn’t ever
notice. You’re lucky. You don’t have one like that.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          Okay.

                                        JUNIOR:
        I’ve seen you singing in the choir in church, sometimes. You still do that?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          I guess.

                                        JUNIOR:
                                       Do you like it?

                                         SHELLEY:
                                I guess. It’s something to do.

                                          JUNIOR:
It’s not for me. Church, with all those fuddy-duddies. I go but it’s strictly for the music.

                                       SHELLEY:
      Well, it’s a free country. You don’t have to go to church if you don’t want to.
                                                                                     Meno      59

                                        JUNIOR:
I like to watch you sing. Because you stand in the back row and you think nobody is
noticing you. You think everybody is watching Amy Talbert. So sometimes you roll your
eyes at her.

                                         SHELLEY:
                                       I never do that.

                                         JUNIOR:
Oh sure, you do it all the time. You are a champion eye-roller. I used to think you had to
be practicing at home. I bet you were afraid that nobody was noticing you. Was that it?

                           (JUNIOR stares at SHELLEY shyly.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                               What are you staring at now?

                                           JUNIOR:
Nothing. I just, I happen to like the shape of your face. It’s almost perfectly symmetrical.
Like a flower, right after it blooms. It’s very interesting.

                                        SHELLEY:
                          I think I ought to be heading home now.

                                          JUNIOR:
Oh, sure. I get it. But let me ask you this before you go: you still got a beau? That fellah
with the rough older brothers? The Thebolds?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       Who, Wayne?

                                        JUNIOR:
                         That’s him. You still go around with him?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          Yes.

                                         JUNIOR:
                                          You do?

                                        SHELLEY:
                                          Yes.

                                         JUNIOR:
                     Well, that’s too bad. That’s a shame is what it is.
                                                                                   Meno      60

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         Sorry.

                                        JUNIOR:
                        I’d like to know what you like about him.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         What?

                                      JUNIOR:
      I mean why do you like him? His personality, the kind of car he drives, what?

                                        SHELLEY:
           I just like him. He’s nice to me. And we work together at the diner.

                                      JUNIOR:
Wow. He’s nice to you. And you work together at the diner. You got awful high
standards. How long have you been seeing each other?

                                       SHELLEY:
                                  I dunno. A year or so.

                                         JUNIOR:
Well, he sounds like a really interesting person. Him being nice and all. And working at
the same place you do. He’s lucky you didn’t fall in love with the deep fryer or the grill
or a goddamn pair of silverware. That would have been an awful tragedy.

                                    SHELLEY:
You’re one of those people who think they’re smarter than they actually are, aren’t you?

                                        JUNIOR:
       I don’t know. Probably. I guess that’s a pretty accurate way to describe me.

                                      SHELLEY:
                      Don’t you think most girls find that annoying?

                                        JUNIOR:
                  Usually. But I don’t have much interest in most girls.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                    Oh, and why not?
                                                                                       Meno   61

                                           JUNIOR:
Because there are a lot of pretty girls in this town who don’t know how to do anything
but yammer on and on about who said what or who wore a dress one size too small. None
of them have an original thought in their awful little heads. I mean most of them don’t
even know how to kiss. Or what’s supposed to come after that. No sense of actual
romance. They just want to go to the movies and sit with you and their mothers on the
sofa in the parlor, watching murder mysteries. And when you do get them alone, they just
lie there like dead fish. It’s a shame, they have no interest in learning about the finer
things, like love or books or music or poetry, those kinds of things.

                                       SHELLEY:
                            Which you have all figured out, I bet.

                                         JUNIOR:
You bet right. I’ve made up a whole new way of kissing. I mean, I’ve been all over the
globe. I’ve picked up things. I might be the best kisser in the world. If there ever was a
contest, I mean.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                 I’m going to go home now.

                                          JUNIOR:
Oh. I get it. The cold shoulder routine. The hard-to-get act. I know how it works. I’ve got
three sisters. I know what’s what in a girl’s brain.

                                          SHELLEY:
                             I just need to be getting home is all.

                                           JUNIOR:
No, I get it. Like I said, sorry to bother you. I’ll leave you to your thoughts and all. I
won’t say another word.

                                    SHELLEY:
              Are you…do you have to be up here again the rest of the week?

                                          JUNIOR:
I don’t have a choice. Somebody might need to get their photo taken. It’s a serious
goddamn business I’m part of. Without a monster, this is just a murky lake. I’m
instrumental to the success of this entire operation. If you really think about, I’m kind of
single-handedly keeping this whole town going. Plus, I like to see the kids get all excited.
I like the kind of faces they all make.

                                      SHELLEY:
                     Okay, well, maybe I’ll see you up here sometime.
                                                                               Meno   62

                                     JUNIOR:
Yeah. Maybe. Maybe we’ll run into each other again and you’ll let me watch you roll
your eyes at me.

                                     SHELLEY:
                                       Maybe.

                                      JUNIOR:
                                      Goodnight.

                                     SHELLEY:
                                     Goodnight.

(SHELLEY looks back at JUNIOR who continues to struggle to get out of his costume.
She smiles then helps him unlatch his costume, then hops on her bike.)

                                      JUNIOR:
                                      Goodnight.

      (SHELLEY smiles and pedals off. The lights go down as the music fades up.)
                                                                                  Meno   63



                              ACT TWO, SCENE FOUR
SHELLEY pedals her bicycles past a field of high grass then stops before a wrought-iron
cemetery gate, which is locked with a chain. She sits on her bicycle, staring through the
iron slats.

                                     SHELLEY:
I don’t know, Mr. Peepers. He was kind of funny. I don’t know why. I like that he was
kind of grumpy. He was kind of charming, in an odd way, I mean. No. I don’t know if I’ll
see him again. Maybe. Maybe.

                             (SHELLEY opens the shoebox.)

                                        SHELLEY:
If only you we could find where that poor girl is wandering, looking for someone to tell
her secret to, if only she would tell me why she was murdered…but I don’t imagine she’d
come up here. Even if she had nowhere else to go. I guess she might be sitting in there
right now, too frightened to make a peep. Maybe that poor girl is sitting there on the cold
stone of a grave just waiting for somebody to say goodnight to her. Hello? Hello?

(SHELLEY pedals closer, right up beside the gate. She directs her story inside the
cemetery.)

                                         SHELLEY:
Once upon a time, there was a wily fox who could play the fiddle. And the fox, he would
play his song and lure all the birds into the woods and then he’d gobble them up. And
then the woodsman decided he had to save his roosters. And then, the saddest song you
ever heard begin to rise from the woods, and the song sounded just like the soft voice of
the woodsman’s pretty wife, who had drowned in the lake a year before, and then the
woodsman lost his axe he could hear the high-pitched laughter of that wily old fox, and
the woodsman fell to his knees, and he began praying, by calling out his wife’s name, and
his wife’s name was….Jamie….it was Jamie and the woodsman started calling out,
“Jamie, Jamie, my one true love, I’m lost and in trouble. If I die here, who will tend our
chickens and our two orphaned children? If you ever loved me, send me down a single
star to help me find my way back home.” And just then a single-shooting star crossed the
border of the sky, and in its path, the woodsman could see his axe lying right there at his
feet. Then he took that axe in his hands, and marched off through the winding woods,
following the high-pitched cackle of that wily wolf. Nope, it was a fox. He followed the
laughter of that wily fox, deeper and deeper into the woods, until the woodsman found
himself lost in the middle of a grove of thorn bushes. Everywhere he turned there was a
maze of brambles as high as his shoulders. And well, the woodsman cried out once again
to the nighttime sky, “Jamie! Jamie if you can hear me, if you ever loved me, send me
down a single star to help me on my way. Our chickens need to be fed and our two
children are lying there in bed, waiting for me to come home. Send me down a star to
help me find my way.” And like magic, a single star came flying down, and woodsman
found his way out of the brambles and soon enough, he was at the edge of a mighty river,
                                                                                  Meno      64

and the water was so dark and so cold and so fast, that the woodsman didn’t dare go
across. He lifted his voice to the nighttime sky once more and said, “Jamie…if you can
hear me, send me down a star, to show me where this river is the shallowest. I’ve got a
chicken coop full of chickens and two children all alone back home, crying for their
father. If you ever loved me, send me down a star to help me on my way.” And then just
like magic…

(A number of strange lights suddenly flash behind the cemetery gates. SHELLEY gasps,
staring in at them.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                                  Hello? Who’s there?

             (The lights flash again. SHELLEY grabs the railing of the gate.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                                 Hello? Is anyone there?

     (The lights flash again. SHELLEY hops off her bike and stands before the gate.)

                                      SHELLEY:
Hello? I’m here. I’m alone. Please don’t be afraid. I came out here looking for you.
Hello?

        (The lights flash once more and SHELLEY sighs, discovering the secret.)

                                      SHELLEY:
              Lightning bugs. That’s it. That’s all there is. Lightning bugs.
               (SHELLEY climbs back aboard her bicycle, disappointed.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                      It’s nothing. There never was anybody there.

                            (She looks down at the shoebox.)

                                      SHELLEY:
You’re just dead, Mr. Peepers. There’s nothing special about you, either. I guess I ought
to head back. Honey’s probably worried sick about me.

                               (She looks back at the gate.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                   Goodnight, even if you aren’t out there. Goodnight.

        (SHELLEY rides off towards home. Lights come down as music fades up.)
                                                                                  Meno    65



                                 ACT TWO, SCENE FIVE
SHELLEY rides her bicycle past the facade of an abandoned barn. A crooked picket
fence divides the stage. In the distance, there is the sound of dogs barking. The grass
from the yard is high, reaching past SHELLEY’S shoulders as she slowly pedals past.
Suddenly, a flashlight’s beam strikes SHELLEY’S face. The beam is held there as
SHELLEY covers her eyes, stopping where she is on her bicycle.

                                      SHELLEY:
                             Who’s there? Who’s doing that?

                        (She glances around, shielding her eyes.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                                Who’s there? Who is that?

(Someone laughs quietly from behind the fence. SHELLEY backs away on her bike. The
light gets brighter as the person holding it walks closer and closer. Then the light is
switched off.)

                                      SHELLEY:
           Who is it? Who’s there? I’m not afraid of you. You better come out.

(The flashlight flashes on again, this time from a different spot on the stage, hitting
SHELLEY’S face again. The light disappears. When it flashes back on, the light is on
SHELLEY’S hand. It flashes off. And then when it returns, it is from another position on
the stage, now illuminating her ankles. The light switches off once more. Finally, when
the flashlight switches on again, NORRIS is holding it directly under his chin. He is a
wiry man dressed in a white sheet with an old, worn-looking Casper the Ghost mask on.
When NORRIS appears, SHELLEY screams and backs away. She stumbles, tripping over
her bicycle.)

                                       SHELLEY:
                              Who is it? What do you want?

(NORRIS lifts up the mask for a moment, revealing his face, smiling. He is child-like, not
trying to frighten SHELLEY, only trying to surprise her.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                           Norris? Norris Ambley, is that you?

                                     (NORRIS nods.)

                                      SHELLEY:
     What are you doing out here all alone? Your mother’d be furious if she knew…
                                                                                 Meno      66

                  (NORRIS switches off the flashlight and hides again.)

                                     SHELLEY:
                    You out here playing flashlight tag by yourself?

                  (NORRIS reappears, laughing. He shakes his head.)

                                     SHELLEY:
                               Who are you playing with?

                       (NORRIS points the flashlight behind him.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                          Is there somebody out here with you?

                                    (NORRIS nods.)

                                    SHELLEY:
                               Who’s out here with you?

            (NORRIS holds his finger up to his mask’s lips and shushes her.)

                                     SHELLEY:
(whispering now) Norris? Now I’d like to ask you: did you have anything to do with
Jamie Fay? Do you know anything about her getting hurt? Do you? Norris?

                               (NORRIS shakes his head.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                                        Norris?

                    (NORRIS clenches his fist and shakes his head.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                                        Norris?

                          (NORRIS shakes his head violently.)

                                       SHELLEY:
Of course, not. I expect you didn’t. You wouldn’t harm a fly. You come in every
Saturday night with your mother and order chocolate chip pancakes. I’ve heard all kinds
of stories about you. About how you lost your voice; you used to be able to talk, didn’t
you?

                                 (NORRIS shyly nods.)
                                                                                   Meno    67

                                         SHELLEY:
Well, people will make up all kinds of stories about you if you’re the least bit different.
Everyone at the diner has got a different story about you, and your mother and father, and
how come you stopped talking. One of them said you found out your father had been
killed in a train wreck and you didn’t say another word after that. Somebody else said it
was when your grandma died, that she used to tell you stories and that when she passed
away, you didn’t have any more use for words. Another one said it was your pet dog that
got killed. I happen to think it’s nice you don’t talk. Everything ends up being a secret to
you.

                                  (NORRIS nods shyly.)

                                    SHELLEY:
Would you like to hear something about me? Something I haven’t told anyone before?

                                     (NORRIS nods.)

                                         SHELLEY:
After my mother left, I guess I was about eight or nine, I gave up speaking. I decided I
would stop talking until she came back. But she didn’t come back and I only made it a
few days. Honey, my grandma, she ain’t my real grandma, but well, she’s awful hard to
keep quiet around. She likes to talk and so she got me speaking again without too much
trouble. But I liked not having to talk. I really did. It seemed like the world had suddenly
become magic and if I wanted something I had to draw a picture or write a note but then I
got scared. I got scared that I had stopped being a real person and that everyone would
forget the sound of my voice and that I wouldn’t be special to anybody anymore. I scared
myself so bad thinking I had forgotten how to talk and that I was going to vanish, and
then Honey asked me a question, and I decided I had to answer or I was just going to
disappear. I know it all sounds pretty silly now, doesn’t it? But I got the feeling that was
exactly what it was like to be dead.

                       (SHELLEY looks up at NORRIS and smiles.)

                                       SHELLEY:
Listen to me go on, I sound just like Honey. I think we ought to get you back home now.
Your mother would be awfully worried if she knew you were out here by yourself. Come
on. I’ll walk back with you.

(SHELLEY goes to take NORRIS’ hand but he hurries off, disappearing behind the high
grass.)

                                       SHELLEY:
                Norris! I don’t have time to fool around with you! Norris!

               (The flashlight shines on SHELLEY’S face. She gets angry.)
                                                                                  Meno      68

                                     SHELLEY:
 Norris, you come out of those weeds this instant or else I’m leaving you out here alone.

                                   (NORRIS laughs.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                 I mean it. I’m gonna count to ten and then I’m leaving.

                        (The flashlight switches on and then off.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                     I’m counting to ten, Norris. One, two, three…

                                (NORRIS laughs again.)

                                       SHELLEY:
This isn’t a very fun game, Norris. I’m going to leave you. Four, five, six, seven, eight…

          (NORRIS laughs again. Suddenly the barn door parts open slightly.)

                                    SHELLEY:
                   Norris? Come on out. I’m not going to chase you.

                  (The flashlight flashes from inside the rickety barn.)

                                       SHELLEY:
                    Darn it, Norris. I’m not coming in there. Norris?

               (SHELLEY slowly walks towards the opening of the barn.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                                        Norris?

                       (She slowly begins to open the barn door.)

                                     SHELLEY:
                        Norris? You’re trying my patience now.

(SHELLEY opens the door all the way. As soon as it’s open, Christmas lights strung on
the inside of the barn switch on, hundreds and hundreds of lights which illuminate the
entrance. SHELLEY steps back in surprise, then walks towards the lights. She is amazed.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                                        Norris?

    (NORRIS appears from inside the barn. He still has the mask covering his face.)
                                                                                 Meno   69

                                      SHELLEY:
                                     What is all this?

(NORRIS begins clapping. He plugs in another extension cord and the entire interior of
the barn is suddenly lit. Hanging from the rafters are photographs, dozens of them, of
people and animals, all mostly antique-looking, some Polaroids, some framed. They hang
from crudely-knotted strings in an arranged grid. There are also a number of mass cards
from funerals hanging as well. SHELLEY walks forward and examines the pictures with
wonder.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                  Who are all these people? What is this place, Norris?

                           (NORRIS claps his hands proudly.)

                         (SHELLEY inspects the photos again.)

                                         SHELLEY:
Is that Mrs. Cooper, Norris? And that one next to it, is that your father? And Mr. Dart?
And Dr. Allison? You got most of the town here. Mrs. Dwyer is next to Mrs. Plimpton.
You got it arranged like the streets of the town. Where they live? You got the whole town
set up like this?

                                     (NORRIS nods.)

                                     SHELLEY:
                                  You made all of this?

                                     (NORRIS nods.)

                                     SHELLEY:
                                  But why? What for?

(NORRIS lifts his mask and frowns sadly. He points to the picture of his father. Then
another photo, then another.)

                                       SHELLEY:
They’re all dead. They’re all dead, aren’t they, Norris? You got a town of everybody
who’s dead?

                                     (NORRIS nods.)

                                    SHELLEY:
                           And you made this place for them?

                                     (NORRIS nods.)
                                                                                    Meno   70

                                       SHELLEY:
                              So they have somewhere to go?

                                      (NORRIS nods.)

                                     SHELLEY:
                          And you’re watching over them now?

                                  (NORRIS nods again.)

                                     SHELLEY:
You were out here waiting tonight? You were waiting for Jamie Fay? So she had
somewhere to go? So she wasn’t alone?

                                      (NORRIS nods.)

                                        SHELLEY:
Well, it’s a whole town. It’s the whole other side of town you got here. You can come
visit all of them any time you like, huh?

                                (NORRIS nods, clapping.)

                                     SHELLEY:
                    Does anybody else know about this place, Norris?

                                (NORRIS shakes his head.)

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       No? Nobody?

                             (NORRIS shakes his head again.)

                                       SHELLEY:
                                       Are you sure?

                                      (NORRIS nods.)

                                        SHELLEY:
                 It’s perfect. A perfect town. A secret town of your own.

(SHELLEY stares at photos for a while longer, then stops, looks back to her bicycle, and
hurries back. She grabs the shoebox and places it in the center of the barn.)

                                          SHELLEY:
Is it all right if I leave them with you, Norris? It’s something important. Don’t go and
move it now, all right?
                                                                                    Meno   71



              (NORRIS nods. SHELLEY touches the shoe box one last time.)

                                     SHELLEY:
We ought to go. We ought to get you back to your mother’s now. (beat) It’s beautiful. It’s
a real wonder is what it is.
                                   (NORRIS nods.)

                                      SHELLEY:
                       Come on, I’ll walk you back. Come on now.

(NORRIS nods. He unplugs the lights. SHELLEY takes NORRIS’ hand. They walk slowly
across the stage and then they exit. Music swells up as the lights in the barn slowly fade.)
                                                                                    Meno   72



                                   ACT TWO, SCENE SIX
SHELLEY walks her bike inside Hazel’s house, and finds HAZEL sleeping, sitting in her
chair at the kitchen table. After SHELLEY enters, HAZEL wakes up and begins crying.
The lighting suggests it is still night, slowly turning to morning.

                                         HAZEL:
I thought you had left met. I thought you had. I prayed and I prayed that you didn’t, but I
thought you had.

(They hug. SHELLEY begins to cry. HAZEL shushes her and sits down and places
SHELLEY’S head in her lap. HAZEL slowly rubs SHELLEY’S head.)

                                       HAZEL:
                Now now, there there. We’re all together again, ain’t we?

                                     SHELLEY:
    I’m sorry for making you worried, Honey. I am. I just…I just had to go. I had to.

                                          HAZEL:
I know. I know. It’s not as bad as all that. You have a right to do as you please. I’m just
an old nuisance and I smoke too much and I just was afraid you might just hold it against
me.

                                        SHELLEY:
                                         I’d never.

                                          HAZEL:
Well, you just remember you’re not beholden to anyone here. I’m just as beholden to you
as you are to me. That’s the secret nobody ever tells you about love. That love and
suffering is the same thing: that you’re forced to pay for one with the other. It’s
something nobody likes to mention but ought to.

                                       SHELLEY:
              I’m sorry I ran off without a word like that, Honey. I truly am.

                                          HAZEL:
I know why you did it. You got a sensitive soul. You’re not as hard-hearted and hopeless
as me. And I hope you never get to be, either. The best thing you can do is always keep
one part of you like a child. That’s the part where Jesus lives, where you let yourself feel
sympathy when you see the suffering other people have to carry. I’d just about die if I
ever found out you took to being hard-hearted like me.

                                       SHELLEY:
                  I won’t ever run off like that again, Honey. I promise.
                                                                                  Meno   73

                                         HAZEL:
Now don’t say that. Because, when you do, when it comes time for you to change your
mind and you decide you don’t want to live here anymore, I won’t have cause to worry.
I’ll just know you had to go off on your own.

                                    (They hug again.)

                                     SHELLEY:
                Did they…did they find out what happened to Jamie Fay?

                                        HAZEL:
That old Wes, he got a man in custody a few hours ago. A fellow who works for the
telephone company. Some stranger from Dwyer. He’s been calling and calling that poor
girl, bothering her for some time. He must have seen her in the parade last year. Wes said
they got plenty of evidence on him. (beat) I’m going to bake some muffins in the
morning to bring over to the Fays. And some for old Wes, too, down at the station. You
can come with if you like.

                                       SHELLEY:
                                         I will.

                                      HAZEL:
                     You tired? You want to go lie down for awhile?

                                       SHELLEY:
               (she nods.) I might just stay here awhile if you don’t mind.

                                      HAZEL:
                               Who me? I don’t mind a bit.

                                    SHELLEY:
Wake me up when you want to start baking. I’ll walk over there to the station with you if
you like.

                                          HAZEL:
Or course I will. Of course I will. (HAZEL stares down at SHELLEY for a long time. She
runs her fingers over her hair. And then she begins to whisper.)Now where were we,
boys and girls? Oh, yes, that sly fox had tricked the poor woodsman into following him
through the brambles, over the rope-bridge, and across the river. And the only sound
echoing in that woodsman’s heart was the lousy laughter of that wily old fox. And he
followed it and followed it until the sun finally began to peak across the sky, and then,
just then, the woodsman saw that wily old’ fox’s den, right there, and he reached in with
one burly arm, and grabbed that fox by the furry white scruff of its neck, and with his
other arm, he threw back that great shining axe, and the little wily fox howled out in
fright…(HAZEL looks down at SHELLEY, whose eyes are now open. HAZEL decides to
                                                                                 Meno   74

change the ending of the story.) And well…and well…and well, he decided to turn that
fox loose.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                 That’s not how it goes.

                                        HAZEL:
                             Well, it’s how it goes tonight.

                                      SHELLEY:
                                   Thank you, Honey.

                                           HAZEL:
So the poor woodsman let that wily fox go. He didn’t have the heart or meanness to kill
the awful little varmint. He let that fox go and watched him run off through the thorns.
And his puffy red tail was like a flame flickering in the woods. After that, the woodsman
didn’t lose another bird, not a single one. And the fox took to playing his fiddle each
night at bedtime, right beneath the eaves of the woodsman’s window, where his two
children, who, both missing their dear mother, remembered her soft voice and soft hands,
and finally went to sleep.

             (HAZEL looks down at SHELLEY. SHELLEY closes her eyes.)

                                        HAZEL:
                                       Goodnight.

                         (Lights fade down as music fades up.)

                                       THE END

				
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