Prospect Park

Scene Two

In dim light LARRY and Mr HEALY enter carrying a coffin. They set it on two A-frames or other simple device downstage right. They exit and return with two long candle holders and candles, which they place at both ends of the coffin. One of them lights the candles. They exit. LARRY returns carrying two chairs, which he places upstage center, facing the coffin. He approaches the coffin, opens it, makes the sign of the cross, silently says a prayer. MARY enters and sits on one of the chairs. She is dressed in black. LARRY crosses himself again, kisses his thumb and sits in the other chair. Lights up, but not full.

LARRY: Do you remember the time Harry got stinking drunk at the Breezy Point Surf Club and fell out of the window of the Blarney Stone bar into the ocean?

MARY: Harry was always good for a laugh.

LARRY: I suspected that he fell out of that window on purpose, for the laugh.

MARY: He could have killed himself, but it would have been worth it.

LARRY: That wouldn't exactly have been a laugh.

MARY: It would have been a sensation though, and that interested him even more than a laugh. What a way to go, his drunken friends would have said admiringly.

LARRY: Better than cirrhosis of the liver.

MARY: That wasn't very sensational, was it?

LARRY: But inevitable. [pause] Not many of the old crowd around anymore. I've lost track of most of them.

MARY: The ones who came to the wake didn't stay long. They're next door getting a load on, along with Harry's family.

LARRY: Any sign of Kenny Paulson?

MARY: Not yet. Since he became a big shot in the advertising business he has no time for his old friends or a grieving widow.

LARRY: He might come after all. Dad called him and he said he'd come. You and he were going steady when Harry was falling out of windows. I thought you two were stuck on each other for keeps.

MARY: So did I.

LARRY: You two made a great couple. The basketball star and the prettiest girl on the block...

MARY: And his cheer leader.

LARRY: Yeah, and that. Whatever broke it up; you never told me?

MARY: I don't really know. He went away to college. At first he wrote long letters describing every move he made. He loved college, but missed me so much. Then the letters got shorter and less frequent until they stopped altogether. He didn't come home for Easter vacation, said he had to study. So I went up there, all the way to New Hampshire. God, what a desolate place, all mountains and trees and hick towns. He was burned up that I went there without asking him first. It wasn't very pleasant. He was so obviously trying to get rid of me that I left after one day. Kenny was mixed up in some wacky agriculture project in a place called High Mowing or Low Mowing, Biodynamic, something like that, supposed to be spiritual. Said he had to go there, that it was very important. More important than me, obviously.

LARRY: Another woman?

MARY: I suppose. Isn't it always?

LARRY: That's what they say.

MARY: So Harry caught me on the rebound. I made him promise to go on the wagon.

LARRY: If he did it didn't last long.

MARY: When we got married he said he'd give it up forever, for me. But I should have known that an Irishman doesn't give up his booze for a mere wife.

LARRY: I doubt he could have even if he wanted to. Sorry to say it, Mary, but I think he's better off out of his misery.

MARY: We both are, so don't be sorry.

[enter KENNETH, out of breath]

LARRY: Hey! Speak of the devil. Hi, Kenny.

KENNETH: [surprised] Larry! But I thought … [goes to coffin and looks in] Oh! [laughs shortly, becomes serious, makes the sign of the cross, stands awkwardly in front of the coffin for a few seconds, goes to Larry, shakes his hand] Am I glad to see you!

LARRY: Likewise, but what's going on?

KENNETH: It was a misunderstanding. I thought your father said you died. He must have said Harry, but I understood Larry.

MARY: Harry's last laugh.

LARRY: Yeah, he sure would have gotten a kick out of it. [looks at coffin]

KENNETH: I'm sorry, Mary. [kisses her on the cheek]

MARY: I bet you're relieved it's him instead of your friend Larry. I can't say I blame you.

KENNETH: [after an embarrassed pause] What a day! You know, I went to Prospect Park before coming here and …

MARY: We were wondering if you'd come.

KENNETH: I just wanted to get some fresh air, but the damnedest thing happened …

[enter Mr. Healy]

MR. HEALY: [to Kenneth] Hello, hooker. Long time no see.

KENNETH: Hello Mr. Healy. How are you?

MR. HEALY: Not bad, considering. Where've you been keeping yourself?

KENNETH: I've been very busy lately. I live in New Jersey now.

MR.HEALY: It's very good of you to come all this way for Harry's sake.

KENNETH: I'm very sorry for your loss, sir.

MR: HEALY: Thank you. Harry was free spirit.

[an embarrassed silence follows, broken by Mary]

MARY: If he'd known it was Harry, he probably wouldn't have come.

MR. HEALY: What do you mean?

LARRY: Kenny thought it was me in there. [points to the coffin] A case of mistaken identity.

MR. HEALY: But I told you … oh, I get it – Harry/Larry. [laughs]

MARY: [to coffin] Looks like the joke's on you, lover.

MR. HEALY: [to Kenneth] I heard you finally got married.

KENNETH: Some time ago.

MARY: How's your wife?


LARRY: Why don't you bring her around sometime?

KENNETH: I can't afford it. She invested in a good lawyer and squeezed the maximum alimony out of me.

MR. HEALY: That didn't last very long. Was she Catholic?

KENNETH: She is Protestant, more or less.

Mr. HEALY: Were you married in the Church?

KENNETH: Justice of the Peace, Staten Island.

MR. HEALY: So you weren't married at all in the eyes of the Church.

MARY: What luck!

LARRY: Hey, now you two can pick up where you left off.

MARY: Lawrence!

MR. HEALY: Harry's not even in the grave yet, Larry. So you really should be more respectful. [pause] If you ask me, though, it's not a bad idea. You two made such a beautiful couple.

MARY: Nobody asked you.

MR. HEALY: It's not the first time I've spouted off without being asked. Any offspring, Kenny?

KENNETH: No. I was going to say that the damnedest thing happened in the park …

MR. HEALY: Harry beat you there. Two lovely children.

KENNETH: I didn't know. Is there insurance?

MARY: There is, but we aren't allowed to use it in this parish.

KENNETH: I meant …

MARY: I know what you meant. Yes, Harry sold the stuff, so he made sure he had enough himself. I think he was his own best customer.

KENNETH: You seem bitter, Mary.

MARY: I have reason to be. What were you going to say about the park?

KENNETH: Yes. I was standing near the lake when a guy came along. Nothing special looking about him. Youngish, black, wearing jeans and a T-shirt...

MR. HEALY: In this neighborhood you're lucky if you see a white man anymore.

LARRY: You can say that again.

MR. HEALY: In this neighborhood you're lucky if you see a white man anymore.

LARRY: Ha ha. Hey, did you hear the story about the Irish cab driver who had an accident? A Cadillac bumped into him near the U.N., so he gets out of his cab and goes over to the Caddy and this big black guy is in the back seat. He starts to yell at the driver, but the black guy yells at him that he's the Guinean ambassador. That's in Africa somewhere. So the Irishman hauls off and socks him one. Finally the cops come and take the Irishman to jail. You know what he tells the judge? I knew that nigger was a phony as soon as he said he was a Guinea. I know an Eye-talian when I see one. [all laugh except Kenneth]

MR. HEALY: That's a good one. Although it's so old it's got whiskers.

LARRY: It's supposed to be true.

MARY: Why not? Only an Irishman could be that dumb.

LARRY: You never see suntans next door, Dad. How do you manage to keep them out.

MR: HEALY: I ignore them as long as I can. Then I give them the eye. [demonstrates, Larry laughs.] Then I give them the old silent treatment; they get the message.

LARRY: I gotta hand it to you; Healy's Bar and Grill is an oasis in a fucking jungle. Sorry Mary.

MARY: I have nothing against them as such. I'm only afraid for my children.

MR: HEALY: Goddamn right you are. Not even the Catholic schools are safe anymore. You were smart to get out when you did, Kenny. If I don't keep them out my white customers won't come in anymore. Although most of them are moving away anyway. I'm looking for another place in Queens, but keep it to yourselves.

LARRY: Queens isn't much better than here. Out on Long Island would be better.

MR. HEALY: I know, but I mean how far can you go? They multiply like jackrabbits. Soon even the Island will be overrun. And now to add insult the injury we got the Portaricanos.

LARRY: You can't even tell what color they are half the time.

MR: HEALY: They come in all shades. It's the same difference. [pause, looks at Kenneth] So what about that guy in the park; was he the portaricano ambassador, or what?

KENNETH: Something like that.

MARY: What do you mean.

KENNETH: He's an ambassador without portfolio.

MR: HEALY: What's that supposed to mean.

KENNETH: Do you know what he did? He walked on the lake.

LARRY: On the lake?

MARY: Have you been drinking, Kenny?

KENNETH: Who do you know who walked on the water, Mary?

MR. HEALY: Do you mean to say that that Portaricano walked on the water like Jesus Christ? What circus is he from?

LARRY: Let him finish.

MR. HEALY: OK, go ahead. But I gotta warn you Kenny: I don't like religious jokes if they're dirty.

KENNETH: It's not a joke. I'm dead serious. He walked on the lake. He told me his name is HeyZeus. That sounds like Jesus in Spanish.

MR. HEALY: So what are you tryin to tell us, that Jesus is a darky? Come off it, Kenny. I don't like your sense of humor.

KENNETH: [angry] And I don't like your arrogance and racism.

LARRY: You can call it arrogance if you like, but this is a free country and you can like or not like whatever you want.

MR. HEALY: You can kiss their asses for all I care, but don't go comparing them to our Lord.

KENNETH: [furiously[ And what are you gonna do about it if I do?

MARY: Don't be like that, Kenny. I know how you feel, but you gotta understand how we feel too. The neighborhood's changed a lot since they started moving in and...

KENNY: OK Mary, save it. I know the whole story and I'm sick of hearing it. I'm not asking you to believe anything. I'm just telling you what I saw and what I felt and you can take it or leave it. So you leave it. Fine, that's OK with me.

MR. HEALY: You're goddamn right we leave it.

MARY: Can't we change the subject? It's terrible fighting like this after not having seen each other for such a long time.

LARRY: Yeah, you're right. Let's change the subject. Playing any ball lately, Kenny?

KENNETH: [pause] Why no, not for years.

LARRY: Too bad, you were good, potential pro, except kinda short for that.

MR. HEALY: Goddamn Zulus dominate the sport nowadays anyway. A normal white man don't stand a chance.

LARRY: Oh, I don't know about that. Look at Larry Bird.

MR. HEALY: An exception.

KENNETH: [looks at his watch] Ah...I gotta be going now. [slowly backs toward the exit]

LARRY: Aren't you coming next door for a quick one? Come on, it's on me.

MR. HEALY: It's on the house.

KENNETH: No, really, it's later than I thought.

MR. HEALY: Well, it's been great seeing you again, son.

LARRY: Don't be such a stranger.

MARY: Goodbye Kenny.

KENNETH: Goodbye Mary. Be seeing you guys. [exits]

LARRY: He's changed a lot, if you ask me.

MR. HEALY: Portaricanos ain't got no ambassador. They're Americans, unfortunately.

LARRY: [to Mary] He still likes you, Sis. I could tell. You should have given him your telephone number.

MARY: He can look it up … if he wants. Let's go get that drink on the house. [walks slowly to the coffin and blows out one of the candles.]

[blackout, except for the other candle]

Continued in the next issue of SCR.

Scene One