Prospect Park

A Mystery Play in Seven Scenes

by Frank Thomas Smith

Scene Three

Dim lights, soft music. KENNETH prepares the set: a table downstage center, a chair on either side, a half-empty bottle of red wine and two glasses. JUDY, an attractive young actress, preferably black, enters with a candle, which she places on the table and lights. KENNETH pours wine into the glasses. They sit. Lights up, soft.

JUDY: So what now? I mean it's all very interesting, but so what?

KENNETH: So plenty. If Jesus Christ himself appears to you in Prospect Park it must mean something for god's sake.

JUDY: What? ...assuming it was him.

KENNETH: That's what I'm trying to figure out.

JUDY: Is that why you disappeared without telling anyone, especially me?

KENNETH: Yes, I had to get away by myself and think.

JUDY: Where did you go?

KENNETH: Oh for god's sake, Judy, what difference does that make?

JUDY: Just asking. I'm interested in you, you know.

KENNETH: Sorry. [Pause] I went to Italy.

JUDY: Italy! Kenny, you know I always wanted to go to Italy!

KENNETH: I had to go alone, Judy. Don't you understand that? I might just as well have gone to Coney Island. It doesn't matter where I went. I took a taxi to the airport  and got on the first plane going somewhere and it happened to be Italy.

JUDY: You don't take an airplane to Coney Island. [Pause]  Where in Italy?

KENNETH: Como, near Milan.

JUDY: Why there?

KENNETH: The flight went to Milan and I didn't feel like staying in the city, so I asked in the tourist office where's a nice place not too far away.

JUDY: Was it nice?

KENNETH: Very. It΄s on a huge lake – Lake Como – spotted with villas. Even Mussolini had a villa there. A lot of churches. Italy has beautiful churches. You can tell they meant it when they were building their churches.

JUDY: What did you do besides go to church?

KENNETH: I didn't go to church. I only looked at them. I took a room in a small hotel on a mountain – a hill really – and walked around and thought a lot. You remember that my grandmother was Italian and I learned some Italian from her when I was a kid. So I tried practicing it a little.

JUDY: Who with?

KENNETH: [Exasperated] The innkeeper's daughter, dark-tressed and plump. I slept with her every night.
JUDY: I wouldn't doubt it. [Pause]  Was all that thinking worthwhile?

KENNETH: I decided he must want me to do something.

JUDY: Did he tell you he wanted you to do something?

KENNETH: I already told you, no. He left it up to me. He said I should follow him, but he didn't mean I should, you know, follow him at that moment.

JUDY: Why not? How do you know?

KENNETH: From the way he said it. He said look it up. Some things have to be modified, I guess. I mean things have changed a lot since then.

JUDY: Since when?

KENNETH: Since the first time he came, like it says in the Bible. He said to look it up, and where else could I look? I figure the message must be basically the same, although it's not easy to determine what the message is. There are a lot of contradictions. But what the hell, real life is full of contradictions. But whatever the message is, we seem to be doing the opposite.

JUDY: Which is not surprising, given the state of things.

KENNETH: We make the state of things.

JUDY: So he leaves a message and retires to a fleecy cloud for a couple thousand years or so.

KENNETH: But he left in the most dramatic way. You, as an actress, should be the first to realize that.

JUDY: That script was written by others, way after the events. Who knows to what extent they used their creative imaginations. Anyway, we're not in a theater striving for dramatic effects.

KENNETH: If I tell people about what happened in the park, it could have a dramatic effect, I mean, on reality.

JUDY: It sure could. They'll say you're crazy.

KENNETH: Do you think I'm crazy?

JUDY: I didn't say that. But other people will.

KENNETH: If you don't think I'm crazy or lying, you must believe me.

JUDY: I didn't say that either.

KENNETH: What then? It must be one or the other.

JUDY: Why? It could have been a dream. That doesn't make you crazy.

KENNETH: It wasn't a dream. I know the difference between dreaming and waking.

JUDY: I don't understand you, Kenny. People don't walk on water...

KENNETH: Jesus did.

JUDY: ...anymore. Besides, who knows if he really did it, even then?

KENNETH: Look it up.

JUDY: Who believes that stuff nowadays? Least of all you...until now. What's happened to you?

KENNETH: I just finished telling you what happened to me. When you see something with your own eyes you can't help but believe it.

JUDY: That depends on what it is.

KENNETH: JUDY...ah...you know, there are going to be some changes.

JUDY: In what?

KENNETH: In us, actually. I mean...[trails off]

JUDY: Tell me, Kenny.

KENNETH: Our marriage plans. I've got this on my mind and can hardly think of anything else. So I don't think this is the right time for it. I mean... you understand, don't you?

JUDY: No, frankly I don't. Next you'll want to give up sex.

KENNETH: You mean celibacy?

JUDY: You are thinking of it.

KENNETH: You brought it up.

JUDY: God, you might as well tell me you've caught leprosy, that wouldn't be as bad. I don't know why you didn't become a priest instead of an ad man.

KENNETH: My guardian angel saved me from going to a Jesuit school – Brooklyn Prep? - or I might have.

JUDY: Good for him. How'd he manage it?

KENNETH: He must have numbed my brain; I failed the entrance exam.

JUDY: Look, Kenny, I'm a perfectly healthy, hardworking, emancipated – in quotation marks – actress. And I need sex, regularly and in healthy doses. I've been listening to all this shit patiently, but now you're going too far. Do you know what Erika would say? I can hear her now: wow, I've heard some creative excuses to get out of a marriage, but this one takes the cake.

KENNETH: Oh come on, JUDY.

JUDY: I mean it, Kenny, you can take your choice.

KENNETH: You or him?

JUDY: [Long pause] Kenny, we have a problem. And I think we need help.

KENNNETH: What kind of help?

JUDY: Professional help.


JUDY: O.K. You – but it's our problem, darling.

KENNETH: Been there, done that.

JUDY: What do you mean?

KENNETH: Shrink stuff.

JUDY: It didn't seem to help much.

KENNETH: There was nothing to help.

JUDY: Why did you do it then?

KENNETH: A woman talked me into it. Guess who.

JUDY: Your dear ex-wife I bet.

KENNETH: She meant well.

JUDY: She must have had a reason to want you to go into analysis.

KENNETH: She said I was impotent.

JUDY: [Laughs] You – impotent? It must have worked after all. [Pause]  Were you?

KENNETH: Did you ever hear of female impotence?

JUDY: Frankly, no.

KENNETH: It exists though; it's what makes men impotent. Women are only the carriers.

JUDY: Impotence is psychological.

KENNETH: Yeah, well the analysis wasn't completely unsuccessful. I even began to believe some of it on the shrink's authority – at least my brain did, along with my genitals. The only part of me that resisted was my heart.

JUDY: The heart is not the best organ to think with.

KENNETH: I'm not so sure of that. In its way the heart thinks too. Only it’s harder to get the message. Too much static from the nerve center.

JUDY: Kennny, if I ask you to do it for me … I don't mean to go into analysis again. Just see someone – a professional who could listen to your story. I mean, you know, about Zeus …


JUDY: HeyZeus … maybe give you some kind of test to see if your mental judgment is kinda, I don't know, like in order. [Pause]  Please Kenny, think of me. Suddenly, out of a clear blue sky, you tell me that everything's changed. [Pause]  You don't say that you don't love me, although you haven't said that you still do either...

KENNETH: [Interrupting] I do, Judy, I do!

JUDY: All the more reason to check up on yourself. Perhaps unconsciously you're afraid to marry me and all this is an elaborate scheme by your unconscious mind to relieve you of the guilt. In this way you transfer the responsibility to someone else – to this HeyZeus. Do you see what I mean?

KENNETH: [Dejectedly] Yes. [Then] Have you discussed this with anyone already?

JUDY: No! I swear! Will you do it then, for me? I can find the name of someone good. That's no problem.

KENNETH: And if I say no?

JUDY: It would mean that you no longer care, that you don't love me, and … well … it would mean, for me, that it's over, Kenny … oh, Kenny.

KENNETH: O.K. I'll do it.

JUDY: O Kenny, I knew you'd be reasonable. I just know that everything will work itself out. [Cheerfully] How about some music? [Goes off to turn on music, returns immediately, lifts glass] Cheers, darling.

KENNETH: Salute.

JUDY: Let's dance. [They dance, until the music slows and she melts into his arms] Kenneth?


JUDY: I'm so glad I don't have female impotence. Aren't you?

KENNETH: Yes, my love, very glad.

JUDY: Darling? About the wedding. Is it still on, same time same station?

KENNETH: Let's see what the shrink says.

JUDY: That could take a while. And we were scheduled for Easter Sunday.

KENNETH: You wouldn't want to marry a mental case, would you?

JUDY: [Stops dancing] This mental case, yes.

KENNETH: It wouldn't be fair to you.

JUDY: Honestly Kenny, do you think any shrink would believe that story?

KENNETH: No, unless he needs his own shrink, which most of them do.

JUDY: Why are you going to one then?

KENNETH: For Christ sake, Judy, you just insisted that I do; you even gave me an ultimatum.

JUDY: I didn't give you an ultimatum. I merely said that if you refuse professional help it means that you don't care for me enough to at least...

KENNETH: What? Have my head shrunk.

JUDY: Oh, how I hate that kind of condescending remark. They always come from people who have so many problems that they don't dare to face them in analysis.

KENNETH: What problems do I have?

JUDY: Are you kidding? You see little black men who think they're God walking on the lake in Prospect Park...

KENNETH: One man and not little.

JUDY: … and you're impotent.

KENNETH: What! You too? E tu, Brutus?

JUDY: Well, you said so yourself. And don't call me brutal; I'm just trying to help. They say cold showers help.

KENNETH: I didn't say so. I said my ex said so.

JUDY: Well, she should know. Oh, who cares who said so; it's the fact that matters.

KENNETH: JUDY, did you sleep with me last night?

JUDY: You know I did.

KENNETH: Was I impotent?

JUDY: [Purring] No, darling. [To the audience] Not exactly.

KENNETH: Then what the fuck are you talking about?

JUDY: That was last night. Who knows about tonight?

KENNETH: Judy, I think you're getting it.

JUDY: What?

KENNETH: Female impotence.


Scene One

Scene Four