Jul/Aug 2004 ´ Miscellaneous

Would You Like to Go Out Shoveling Tonight?
A One Act Play

by Katherine L. Holmes


(In order of appearance)

Hazie—Graduated student living in a first floor studio apartment. In her late 20's, attractive, she dresses in summer shorts, a hip-length blouse with short sleeves, and thongs even though it is winter outside her windows.

Errol—Caretaker of the building. He is under 30, dresses in a T-shirt and thin running pants even though it is winter.

Tedda—Upstairs tenant and feminist, she wears her hair short and brushed back from her face. She dresses in well-cut jeans and a flannel shirt with the tails out. She also has a parka with her in the first scene.

Tedda's friend—Mostly a voice in the hallway. Wears a winter knit hat, jeans, and a winter jacket when she is seen.

UPS man

Joan—Court reporter down the hall from Hazie. Wears sweat pants and a cotton knit sweater.

Tom—Tenant accused of rape previously. Usually delivers food and supplies to school cafeteria. Dresses in dungaree jeans and a knit jersey shirt.



Hazie's apartment occupies most of left stage and part of front right. On left, a large main room with narrow areas of space between the pieces of furniture—a studio bed with large pillows set to the wall, a plant stand, desk, coffee table, couch, chair, and side tables. White pieces of milk glass, some high vases, are set on the side tables, the coffee tables, desk, plant stand, and wall brackets. French doors divide the main room from the dining area where there is a table and bookshelves with more milk glass on them. When the door to the hallway is open, a patterned carpet can be seen and a light fixture with candle bulbs. The rest of the hallway can be lit up to the back of the right stage where the foyer is located. Steps going up to the second floor are visible at the back stage. The building is old and comfortable, the hallway wall papered and carpeted.

(A vacuum sounds from the unlit back of the stage. Outside Hazie's door, the vacuum is turned off. A loud knocking is heard.)

Hazie: (Unlatches door and opens it. A vacuum cleaner is the first thing she sees at the door.) Oh! Hi! What?

(She steps back as if she expects the vacuum cleaner to answer.)

Err: Hi Hazie. (Err appears with the vacuum cleaner cord in his hands.) Are you going to be around all afternoon?

Hazie: I might be. Why?

Err: UPS is coming by. If you're home, could you sign for me?

Hazie: Oh sure! I'll probably be here.

Err: So you'll be around?

Hazie: I can hear the buzzers even if I'm in the laundry room. Can I use the vacuum cleaner on my rug?

Err: Uh, the dryer isn't working. We're trying to get someone in. That's alright. I'll bring the vacuum in.

(Errol wheels in the vacuum cleaner, goes out to unplug the cord, and then plugs it into Hazie's outlet. Then he deftly shifts it, swings it past the side tables and carries it to the center of Hazie's apartment, avoiding the milk glass vases. He carefully adjusts the cord so that it doesn't pull around the tables. Then Hazie: turns on the vacuum cleaner and vacuums her large area rug, sliding the vacuum under the side tables, the couch, and the plant stand, avoiding Err. He stands at one side of the room, watching her intently, his head bent as hers is bent over the floor.)

Err: Where did you say that rug came from? Mexico or South America?

Hazie: It's made of alpaca wool. I got it south of here, at a yard sale.

Err: Are you getting more of these vases at sales too?

Hazie: No, I had another box of them from my grandmother. She had them in the rooms of her house. But after the drought last year, I got these glass flowers for them. They're good for pencils and phone notes.

Err: (Walking around to the plant stand and the dining area where he looks at the milk glass vases.) They match the winter view. (He raises his shoulders as if from cold.)

Hazie: My grandmother had a screened-in porch with white painted wicker and the milk glass vases for her flowers. This apartment reminds me of that porch. I used to sleep out on it in the summer.

Err: I don't know what the rent for a porch would be. But what should I say if you don't get your rent in? (Err stares at her grimly.)

Hazie: You don't have to make excuses for me. I get it to you by the 15th. I haven't heard the landlord complain.

Err: You don't hear all the complaints. If you can get it in by the 15th every month, you can get it in by the 5th. You should get it in sooner than later.

Hazie: You'll get it.

(Hazie begins pushing the vacuum cleaner towards the door.)

Err: Get it in early if that's what the fifth is to you. (He grasps the handle of the vacuum cleaner. Hazie shakes her hands off from his grip. Err picks up the vacuum cleaner from the rug and with one swing, lifts it through the narrow space between the side tables and the milk glass vases. Then he pushes it into the hallway.)

Hazie: Don't shut the door on the cord. (She hands it to him.) Are the packages very big?

Err: Not too big for the corner behind your door. I'll be back before tonight.

(Hazie shuts the door and goes to the telephone table. She picks up the phone and dials from a number on a list in the vase on it.)

Hazie: Hi. How many more books of In English Please, English as a Second Language, are in the store? Five? Could you set one aside for me? The name is Hazel Chalmer. Yes, I know they're for a class. I teach it. That's right. If you'd set one by I'll get it tomorrow. Thanks!

(Hazie walks over to a tape recorder that is set up on her desk. She rewinds it and then plays it back. While it playing, she picks up a feather duster and starts dusting the furniture and vases.)

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) When I was a student, I began renting in a building that has fourteen apartments. I signed a nine-month lease. I paid a security deposit the amount of one month's rent. Later I learned that I should have taken photographs of damages in my apartment when I moved in. Linoleum in the kitchen curled up. A tile was missing in the bathroom. I covered my kitchen counter with contact paper because it was scratched and yellowed. If a tenant takes pictures and lists the damages, those damages won't be used against the security deposit at the end of the tenancy. What problems can you list in your apartment? In English, please.

(During this, Hazie: sets down her feather duster and acts out taking a photograph with a pretend camera. When she takes up her feather duster again, she notices a feather has fallen. She examines the feather duster.)

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) A year after I moved in, the landlord had a dispute with a tenant. The landlord said the tenant's cat sprayed the woodwork of a cabinet. The tenant could not prove she had neutered a cat. But the tenant also stated that she did not have a cat. The courts are crowded with cases like this. That landlord sold the building and now we have a new landlord. The new landlord doesn't know what damages were in my apartment when I moved in. Do you have concerns about rentals? Bring them to the next conversation class. In English, please.

(Hazie is dusting the woodwork cabinet in her dining area. She takes a notebook off of it and opens a drawer. Then she takes from the drawer two carved wooden flowers with long wooden stems.)

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) Our caretaker is the nephew of our new landlord. He looks after the shoveling, the hallways, the plumbing, and the maintenance of the units.

(Hazie makes the motions she would use with a shovel, the stemmed wooden flowers still in her hands. Then she performs the pushing motions of a person with a vacuum.)

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) Our caretaker also works at a frame shop. He custom carves frames too. His grandfather whittled wood. Whittling wood was an American hobby. Men used to whittle wood into decorative and functional objects when they sat on their country porches. What kind of hobbies do people have in your native country? In English, please!

Hazie: (Speaking during a long pause in the tape recording.) I can't put this in a vase. A flower with a face. And the sunray hair. (She twirls around one of the wooden flowers.) Made by E. M.! (She hastily puts the flower back in the cabinet drawer.) He doesn't know I opened it! (She sets the notebook back on the cabinet top.)

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) Another tenant is a court reporter for traffic court. She records proceedings on a special typing machine.

(Hazie moves her fingers as if she's typing.)

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) Her job might be replaced with the video. Are you ready to argue a traffic ticket? In English, please!

Hazie: (Taking up the feather duster again. She speaks between the pauses between sentences.) You must pay the rent! (Hazie pulls a feather out of the duster.) But I can't pay the rent! (She pulls out another feather.) But you must pay the rent. (Pulls a feather out.) I can't pay the rent. (Pulls a feather out.) I'll pay the rent! (Pulls another feather out.) My hero! (Pulls a feather.) Curses. Foiled again! (Another feather pulled.) I'd be lucky if the last feather came out with My Hero!

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) Until recently, we had a tenant who is a technical writer for computer manuals. Sometimes he taught me Computer as a Second Language. You can bring a computer manual to class and we'll try to read it. In computer, please!

Hazie: (Pulling feathers out and talking between pauses.) Do you want to abort? No, I don't want to abort. Do you want to abort? I'd rather not. Here, I'll give you more bytes. My menu!

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) We have a foreign student in our building from Korea. She teaches me Chemistry as a Second Language. Here she is.

Tape Recorder: (Woman with an oriental voice.) Hello everybody. My name is Kim Kim here. Things are pretty good. This last week, I had to ask Hazie what is trunk highway and what is contact paper. Hazie might have a new word: mental telepathy.

(Hazie's voice.) I wish I had mental telepathy. Then maybe we wouldn't have to learn second languages. I completed a program at the university in order to teach English as a Second Language. I am working with the literacy program to gain experience. My hobby is gardening. My landlord allows me to garden the backyard plot.

(Hazie squats as if she is in a garden. She acts out hoeing and then she picks up the feathers and puts them in a milk glass vase. She arranges them.)


(Hazie's voice.) Oh! Hi. What?

(Err's voice.) Hi Hazie. Are you going to be around all afternoon?

(Hazie's voice.)I might be. Why?

(Err's voice.) UPS is coming by. If you're home, could you sign for me?

(Hazie's voice.) Oh sure! I'll probably be here.

(Err's voice.) So you'll be around?

(Hazie's voice.) I can hear the buzzers even if I'm in the laundry room.

(Knocking sounds at Hazie's door. She shuts off the tape recorder and goes to the door. She opens it.)

Tedda: Is Err in here?

Hazie: No, he isn't.

Tedda: I heard his voice!

Hazie: You're mistaken. It was a tape for my English as a Second Language class.

Tedda: Or Male as a Second Language.

(Hazie stands aside because Tedda has stepped in to survey the apartment.)

Tedda: Sorry. I've got to talk to him. You can't dry your clothes! Did you know that?

Hazie: He mentioned it. He said they're getting someone in.

Tedda: Well, that's not the only thing.

(Tedda goes to the door and leaves without saying goodbye. Soon a repeated insistent knocking is heard down the hall. Hazie leaves her door open a notch and listens at it.)

(The lights show the hallway and foyer area of the building. Tedda is standing there with her friend.)

Tedda: Enough of this excitement. Just drop me off at Lon's Quarters-and Dry and then you can pick me up in an hour. Men with rented rooms probably hang out there at night. You'd think Err would be here and the repairman by this time. It's been two days! Someone has to tell him to his face.

(Knocking again.)

Tedda: He probably likes seeing underwear strung on that line down there. I suppose he won't get it done until she does her wash. But he won't come in to look at my torn shades. God, just think what goes on at Lon's Quarters-and-Dry after dark! They probably wrap dirty sheets around weapons and stash them in the dryers. Quarters and your-bra-or-your-life and dry! In an hour!

Tedda's friend: You'll be out of there before dark, Tedda. It might be safer than running into that guy in the building who stays around after parties. He might stay around folding his underwear in the laundry.

Tedda: Tom! I'm not such a gullible bimbo as Bonnie. She's the one who used to leave her door open Saturday afternoons with Neil Diamond blasting. Still, there's no excuse for Tom. Everyone in the building was invited to her party and an extravagant spread of food. The whole thing was so noisy and neighborly that I knew I should have stayed longer. Of course Orbson kept consuming this spread to the end. He acts as if she did it all to accuse of rape!

Tedda's friend: Why is he still here? Why does that Errol let him stay?

Tedda: It happened before Errol's uncle bought the building. It's been more than a year. Err seems to think Tom is just some clumsy muscleman. And they still let him work for the school system, hauling boxes of apples to cafeterias.

Tedda's friend: Are you going to stay, Tedda?

(They are putting a sheet over Tedda's laundry in two baskets set in the foyer.)

Tedda: The way I look at it, Tom is identified. It happened right after I moved in and I had to stay for my lease. That Err actually knows how to keep the place up. So he's got an answer too. I asked him for another light out front and do you what he said?

Tedda's friend: That it would raise the rent.

Tedda: He said, ïSo then people will think we're friendly?'Then I complained about those belligerent buzzers and wondered if they could be turned down. Do you know what he said?

Tedda's friend: That he'd have to put a new system in and it would raise the rent. Tedda, you'll get everyone's rent raised and then you'll move anyway.

Tedda: You heard that buzzer up there. It was two doors down on the other side! He said all he could do was short circuit them or he cut my wire and I could meet my friends at the door. But you can hear them all!

(A buzzer rings in Err's apartment. Then a buzzer rings in Hazie's apartment. Then the buzzers keep ringing all along the first floor. Hazie comes out into the hallway.)

Tedda: God, those buzzers! See? Who's that man? Oh, it's UPS. Or someone dressed up like UPS.

Hazie: It's for Err.

Tedda: Let's just stand here. There's a No Soliciting sign out front.

Hazie: (At the foyer.) You could sign for the package, Tedda. And then if you keep it in your apartment, you can talk to Err.

Tedda: I wouldn't try to get him in my apartment unless he's going to replace my torn shades. Besides, I might damage his package.

Hazie: (Comes out of her apartment and opens the front door.) Hi. Do you need someone to sign?

(Tedda looks up towards the ceiling, shaking her head. Then she picks up her laundry basket and shifts it so that Hazie doesn't trip over it.)

UPS man: Marraux?

Hazie: Yes. Here? It never looks like my signature.

(Hazie signs for two packages.)

Tedda: Don't fall in the basket, Hazie. It's all wet.

UPS man: Thanks, Hazel. See you next time.

Tedda: Hazel! Look. Oneida. He probably ordered knives. Was Hazel your grandmother's name? (To her friend.) She has granny glass all over her apartment.

Hazie: It was free.

(Hazie walks down the hallway to her apartment, carrying the packages. She sets them in the corner near the door. Then she goes to the door and listens.)

Tedda: No, don't put it on the carpet. That basket's sopping too. As if it's not Err's fault anyway. Oh. Hazie. She was in the hospital, you know. I guess she's on anti-depressants. (In a louder voice.) Those laundromats are so depressing. Anyone decent keeps their eyes away from your laundry. So everyone's zoned out, staring at their dryer doors. They're probably all on something just to get through it. Here, I'll stand with the baskets until you drive the car up. I suppose my laundry will be frozen by the time we get there.

(Hazie quietly closes her door and latches it. Then she takes a Xeroxed piece of paper rolled into one of her tall vases.)

Hazie: (Reading.) "Elavil is evidenced to suppress the libido. Its inhibiting action is not understood." I wonder if they think that will solve our problems. Not to feel the problem. It gets you up the elevator to your head and doesn't go down to the mezzanine level anymore. I wonder what's better? To take it or not? To have problems or not? I'll go off it before I ever go home.

(Hazie turns on her tape recorder, hears Err's voice, stops it, and removes the tape. Then she puts in a new tape.)

Hazie: You never know if the tape might come in handy during a landlord conflict.

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) When a person is far away from their native home. In order to feel safe in another country, a person needs to find substitutes for the supports in their native home. For example, who does one call in an emergency? In English, please.

(Hazie is pulling more feathers out of her duster.)

Hazie: Take it. Not take it. Have no mental problems. Suffer mental problems. Have no men problems. Suffer men problems.

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) In most towns, villages, and cities, most people have a father, a mother, brothers, sisters, a physician, and an agency to contact if a crime is committed. There is often a school and sometimes a spiritual place. Are there any other essential places in your native town that a person might expect to find wherever they go? In English, please.

Hazie: Take it. Not take it. No suffering from a man. Suffering from a man.

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) What is a father? A concerned older man who has access to the economics or the organization of a town or city. What is a mother? A woman who oversees the domestic side of life. Many adults learn to live without the benefit of a father or a mother. Do you expect a paternal or maternal influence in a strange city? Where would you find this?

(Hazie puts the pulled feathers in an empty vase, standing them up. Then she goes to the packages in the corner and examines them.)

Hazie: Oneida flatware! I wonder what the pattern is? And a food processor! I want one.

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice) What is a brother or a sister? Someone who shares the same parents and/or the same house. Or sometimes someone who lives in the same system under the same authority. Does a friend substitute for a brother or a sister? If a person is sick, who would you call in the United States? Does your country have a different way of handling the sick? In English, please.

Do you know how to communicate if you are in a crisis? There's one word of course. Help! Sometimes the simple shout of "Help!" works.

(A knocking at Hazie's door. Hazie shuts off her tape this time and opens it.)

Joan: Is something wrong?

Hazie: No. Your court reporter ears are still turned on. Do you want some coffee?

Joan: I'll have a cup. If I have too much at work, I can see how a person can get a speeding ticket going home.

Hazie: They'd make you attend court?

Joan: Me first. No, me last, at the end of the day after listening to everyone else. Yesterday I had to type, "I suppose you're going to give another ticket for loitering on the bench here. No, I'm kidding, judge." I could type the judge's words ahead of time for me. "As a court reporter, you must serve as a citizen example. In fact, you will attend our new speeder's workshop at your own expense."

Hazie: (Calling from the kitchen.) You could go back to school.

Joan: Not tomorrow.

Hazie: When your life is more settled. You know, when it's straightened out with Cory or whatever.

Joan: You ran into him in the hall last week, didn't you?

Hazie: He seemed upset.

Joan: More like drunk. And he had the nerve to drive over here.

Hazie: You don't give out tickets.

Joan: I gave out a ticket to see him in the hallway drunk that night. He got all worked up when I told him when the next bus stopped on Grand Street. I had his car key locked in my apartment.

Hazie: Is that why he was yelling about how many grand his car was worth?

Joan: He was about to become a fender bender if you hadn't walked through. Don't let him in if he comes back.

Hazie: He's not just suspended?

Joan: I mailed him his car key. He's lost his license with me. It's enough to make a person look for an available male court reporter.

Hazie: All the women here seem to come from some problem like Cory. Lenore was engaged to some guy in Chicago before she moved here.

Joan: She was?

Hazie: She said he had cauliflower ear, a hearing aid after an accident in a pool hall. And he pretended he couldn't hear anything he didn't want to hear. She doesn't like talking about it. She's Jewish and her parents told her that no one in their family had ever gotten engaged and didn't go through with it.

Joan: She had a better paying job in Chicago.

Hazie: And Tina ran away from some guy in her hometown.

Joan: She was running around the lake and the hospital where she works. They put her on a thyroid drug.

Hazie: And then there's Tedda.

Joan: What happened to Tedda?

Hazie: Don't you know?

Joan: No.

Hazie: Neither do I.

Joan: What happened to you, Hazie?

Hazie: I told you about the guy in Greece.

Joan: I didn't know he was any tragedy.

Hazie: Maybe he was too romantic. But people think we're bad girls if we're not married at this age. At home, they call me Witch Hazel.

Joan: Is he the reason why you have all these white monuments around?

Hazie: I told you that they were my grandmother's.

Joan: Do you still have contact with him?

Hazie: No. His last letter was about figs and lemons and caryatids and a honeymoon. He didn't know English punctuation so my brother thought it was crazy. He confiscated it and acted as if I was Witch Hazel with a broomstick. I guess it was crazy, only knowing him for a few months. My father didn't want to help me financially after my brother told him about the letter.

Joan: You're not getting any younger though, Hazie. I mean, you're 28, aren't you? I'm only 25. Hazie, it's so hot in here!

Hazie: The middle apartment. The landlord calls it the hotbox.

Joan: And you're wearing summer clothes. Hazie, it's February! It's at least 80 degrees in here!

Hazie: I know. I have to remind myself when I get dressed for outside.

Joan: You might as well be in Athens! Can't you turn down your heat or do you like it like this? (She walks over to the radiator.) Here's the radiator knob. It's turned on high!

Hazie: What do you mean? I didn't know you could change the setting.

Joan: Hazie! Your heat is turned all the way on— counterclockwise. If you turn the radiator knob clockwise, it'll cool. Does that make sense? Didn't Err or anybody tell you that?

(Hazie goes to the radiator and watches Joan turn the knob.)

Hazie: I really didn't know. I've never lived in a place with radiators before. We had central heating.

Joan: I thought Err came in here and you didn't have anything to complain about. Didn't he say anything about the heat?

Hazie: He bled the radiator.

Joan: He left the knob on full blast! The better to see your little legs and arms and neck.

Hazie: Oh really, Joan.

Joan: Do you think Err is gay?

Hazie: I never thought so.

Joan: He fixes things for you, doesn't he?

Hazie: He fixed a slow drain.

Joan: Did he come right away? I mean, wasn't it spilling out of your sink?

Hazie: He came in and used a sink plunger on it. Then I got him to donate some Drano to the cause.

Joan: I've got a pool of water under my refrigerator! Every week I have to clean it up. He came for a slow drain right away?

Hazie: I live next door.

Joan: I live about 15 feet beyond that! I've been wiping up piddle from my refrigerator for a month now! I mean, what does he think I should do? Turn off my refrigerator and thin out?

(Hazie is lighting a cigarette.)

Joan: I can't even talk to Err. He's got his whittling knife on a table in front of his television when I come to the door. And you didn't have to ask a second time!

Hazie: This really surprises me. Maybe it's because you don't have any brothers. Maybe you don't look mad enough. I mean, Err put in my French doors because I told him the landlord promised them to me when a tenant moved out.

Joan: That was the old landlord! And he put in your French doors! Would your brother carve a girl like the one at the top of that frame in his apartment?

Hazie: My brother? He doesn't carve frames.

Joan: Your brother wouldn't carve a girl like you, I'll bet. That sun girl with streaming hair. Two little braids in front like the ones you used to wear. I asked Err if the frame was for sale because there isn't anything in it. He said it wasn't finished.

Hazie: Lots of girls did that with their front strands. To keep the hair out of the face. I didn't even notice the braids.

Joan: I think your brother did. He asked me if anything was going on with you and Err.

Hazie: He didn't think much was going on with the guy in Greece. You talked to him?

Joan: He needed to get something from your apartment and had the key. You had a doctor's examination or something. And then he said that you might be leaving the building. He said you might need a rest from the city.

Hazie: I'm not going to take a rest near him or my family.

Joan: Why would you?

Hazie: My job with the literacy program is practically volunteer. And they think I'm one of these depression cases that can't get out of bed in the morning.

Joan: I think people in the building would know if anyone was that depressed. Can I get another cup of coffee? Hazie, this white glass is everywhere! Your ashtray and the salt and pepper shakers! And the sugar bowl!

Hazie: My grandmother's collection.

Joan: How can you stand all this white? When it's snowy outside? It makes me feel as if I have a wimple.

Hazie: My grandfather wasn't a wimp!

Joan: No, a wimp like a nun wears! Do you set this stuff around because it bothers men?

Hazie: It's like a clean slate. A white-out. It reminds me of my grandmother.

Joan: I guess Err gets around it. What all has he done for you?

(Joan is walking around the apartment, turning on the water faucet, opening the refrigerator, pulling at the shades.)

Hazie: Nothing much. I lent him some aluminum foil once.

Joan: He said he was busy with a frame for some big artist in town.

Hazie: Maybe he'll get a commission and give up the caretaker job.

(Joan begins fluffing the feathers in the large vase as if they are a flower arrangement.)

Joan: Virgin grandmothers.

Hazie: Vigilant grandmothers.

Joan: I mean, who are you afraid of Hazie?

Hazie: (Laughs.) The boy next door. I trust men when they are far away in another country!

Joan: Will you get your money for a traffic ticket if Err or some other guy breaks one?

Hazie: If a burglar came in here, a vase would fall over.

Joan: Do you think Err would try to come in?

Hazie: No. But there have been break-ins in the neighborhood.

Joan: But Hazie! Your bed is near the window and the vases are near the door. A burglar would come through the window, wouldn't they? Isn't Err the only one with a key? Oh yeah, maybe your brother has one too. I worry about Cory making copies of my key. It's just another thing Err wouldn't want to do—change the locks.

Hazie: Well, let me know if he does.

Joan: Why? Are you afraid your brother will try to use your key?

Hazie: No! (Hazie stares at Joan, appalled.)

Joan: My sisters were always prowling around to use my make-up. Are brothers that bad?

Hazie: My brother did not want to use my makeup.

Joan: Did your brother happen to you before you came to this neighborhood of the city?

Hazie: My brother could never happen. But it's true, he tried to make secret visits to my bedroom a long time ago. I don't remember things well. I guess depression does something to the memory.

Joan: Oh, really? (Joan is staring at Hazie now.) Well, at least you knew about men at an early age. I didn't have any brothers and didn't expect Cory to act the way he did. Maybe everyone should have a milk glass vase. Sister!

(Joan is picking up one of them.)

Hazie: Take your pick.

Joan: Can I, Hazie?

(She's holding a footed candy container.)

Hazie: It's just Westmoreland. From the fifties. And I can't keep my flowers in it.

Joan: I didn't mean to take the money! (Joan pulls some bills out from the lid and hands them to Hazie.) Can I? I'll put it near my door. Bye, Grandma.

(Hazie shuts the door and then she falls into a chair near the side table where Joan has taken the vase.)

Hazie: What money? Where did it come from? Since when didn't I know about what, $100 in a candy container? This is really too much. No, it's not too much. I'll just pay off some things on it. It could be the drug again. It must have affected my memory.

(Hazie switches on her tape recorder.)

Tape Recorder: (Hazie's voice.) If a person of the opposite sex attempts close contact or asks you to go somewhere with them, you might answer: a) My family is arranging a marriage for me; b) I am engaged; c) I correspond with someone from my native country; d) I am going out with a policeman; e) I am unavailable; f) I am available; g) But I am going out with a lawyer. The right answer is yours. If a person wants to get too close and you say "No," whether in your language or in English please, you can complain to someone in authority. Who is someone in authority? In English, please. To contact an authority at once is preferable to writing home about the situation.



(A knock on Hazie's door. Hazie opens it.)

Hazie: Oh. Hi Tom.

Tom: I brought your papers down. They were sitting on the shelf near your mailbox.

Hazie: Thanks, Tom. Oh good, the New York Times. Have you been setting them outside my door? I use them for my second language students.

Tom: I heard you had to go looking for your Sunday paper. That's too bad. Uh, did you hear Tedda this morning? What a man hater! She's been stalking the halls as if she's going to pin down everything she's read in the paper on any man who can hear her! I wouldn't take your Sunday paper, you know.

Hazie: I didn't hear her accusing anyone.

Tom: You'd think she would move out.

Hazie: If Err doesn't do the work she wants done in her apartment, she might.

Tom: Who would want to? She's threatening! Uh, can I come in for a minute? Out of earshot. (Tom steps into Hazie's apartment. Then he shuts the door.) You don't want Err to leave, do you?

(Tom is soon within the narrow passage with the milk glass on either side. He has a large frame and uncomfortably walks around to Hazie's couch. Carefully avoiding the coffee table in front of it, he slumps onto her couch.)

Tom: Can I sit down?

Hazie: You already sat down, Tom. You can stay where you are. Does Err fix things in your apartment?

Tom: Me? I don't need it. Hey, he put in those French doors for you, didn't he?

Hazie: They were promised to me when an older tenant moved out.

Tom: Which apartment? Dennis's or?

Hazie: Bonnie's.

Tom: Can I look at them?

(Tom gets and stands staring at the small tables with the milk glass. Then he picks up the milk glass vase on the coffee table and steps over the coffee table. He sets the milk glass back and walks across the apartment to the French doors.)

Hazie: One of the panes was replaced.

Tom: Who replaced it? Err?

Hazie: He said one of the panes was cracked.

Tom: I'll leave anytime you say, Hazie.

Hazie: I didn't ask you to. But watch the vases.

(Tom carefully manipulates his large frame around the coffee table and the vases and heaves himself on Hazie's couch again.)

Tom: I've got a regular girlfriend now. Met her at church.

Hazie: Is that the woman I saw you with on the staircase? She was wearing a skirt and blouse.

Tom: Yeah. She's nice. You're nice too Hazie and everyone's tried with you. But some of us got the hint.

(Tom stretches out his legs and bumps the coffee table. The vase jiggles and he grabs it.)

Hazie: What do you mean? Everyone's tried with me?

Tom: Everyone in the building that's a guy. I wouldn't know about Tedda.

Hazie: Dennis asked me to a concert. He was teaching me Computer as a Second Language. I thought he was the only one who tried.

Tom: I've got Dennis's phone number. Now that he's moved.

Hazie: Dennis went to the concert. He got another date.

Tom: Well, if you don't care. I thought you were friends.

Hazie: Did Dennis get his security deposit back?

Tom: Shit, I don't know. Dennis didn't like cleaning his apartment.

Hazie: Lots of landlords lie at the end. Err could lie for his uncle.

Tom: Err? Nah, he wouldn't lie about Dennis.

Hazie: I mean, they could say the pane on the French door was broken in my apartment when I move. They might not remember what happened. I mean, if Bonnie didn't pay for it.

Tom: Did she?

Hazie: I don't know. But they have to blame it on somebody. It wasn't broken when I was at her party.

Tom: You bet it wasn't broken then! She broke it! That was her main evidence, a broken pane of glass! She brought a photograph of it to court. It makes a person feel crazy. Maybe you'd understand.

Hazie: Maybe I would understand?

Tom: You see a psychiatrist, don't you?

Hazie: So that's what you guys were talking about.

Tom: Now don't get paranoid, Hazie. We were just talking about your general lack of mood.

Hazie: I guess I should get more excited when I'm going to my mailbox or the laundry room.

Tom: Some people get overly excited about a broken pane of glass. Maybe Bonnie needed a psychiatrist.

(Tom gets up abruptly to leave but he swings too near the milk glass vase on the coffee table in front of the couch. It rolls to the floor and breaks.)

Tom: I'm really sorry. Do you want me to pay for it? You're not going to say there was a struggle or anything?

Hazie: It's just Anchor Hocking. It's cheap. And I got it for free. Watch out for the Fenton.

(Tom looks around wildly. He begins picking up the feather duster feathers that have spilled onto the floor.)

Tom: They're still OK.

(Tom tensely puts the feathers in the vase on the side table near the couch.)

Hazie: They're from a feather duster. It's molting.

Tom: It's too bad Tedda wants to complain about Err. He's not such a bad guy. At first I wondered about him. Dennis did too. Err working at a place with all those artists coming in. Dennis and me both divorced. We didn't want this building run by a gay guy. Err's OK. This building's alright.

Hazie: I'm glad it hasn't come to anything really compromising. Or threatening!

Tom: I'd better be going. I'll put those papers outside your door if you want.

Hazie: Thanks Tom.

(Tom lets himself out. Hazie immediately locks the door and latches it loudly, letting the metal chain clang.)

Hazie: Everyone has tried with me! (She picks up the feather duster, thinner now.) Err lies. Err doesn't lie. Err lies. Err doesn't lie.

(Hazie keeps pulling out the feathers with more and more violence, her lips moving.)



(Knocking at Hazie's door. Hazie walks to the stacked boxes and lifts one up. She opens the door with her free hand.)

Tedda: Isn't Err back yet?

Hazie: I guess not.

Tedda: He didn't answer his door.

Hazie: I guess he's not back yet.

(She sets the box back on the other box. When her back is turned, Tedda enters her apartment.)

Tedda: Can you hear if he's back from your apartment?

Hazie: Only if he's in his bedroom.

(Tedda wanders into Hazie's apartment. She stares at a milk glass vase and then she stalks to the wall next to Err's apartment. She stands at it.)

Hazie: Err might be in his kitchen. Who knows?

Tedda: Your apartment is an obstacle course.

Hazie: It's not an obstacle course for me.

Tedda: Do you hear things from your side of the wall? Unpleasant things?

Hazie: Sometimes I hear a machine like a sander. And then I hear hammering.

Tedda: You mean that since Err moved in, you've just heard tools from his bedroom?

Hazie: I have nothing more to report. What should I say?

Tedda: That if you had torn and dirty shades, he would fix them for you. And you got your French doors! My apartment just has these clunky hinges sticking out from the woodwork.

Hazie: You moved in after me. There aren't enough doors to go around.

Tedda: Err has French doors. He came after me.

Hazie: He's the caretaker.

Tedda: Who's side are you on?

Hazie: I'm on my side. (Hazie closes the French doors and sits down with Tedda in the living area.)

Tedda: You're about the only one who can talk to Err! Why don't you ask him about my shades? He listens to you and you can remind him that we need to have things done.

Hazie: No, I don't think I could.

Tedda: Why not? You're the one he will talk to. If you don't know him better than that.

Hazie: Not much better. One night, he asked me if I wanted to shovel snow with him. I didn't want to.

Tedda: But you're doing the garden.

Hazie: I started that before Err came. It was turning to weeds.

Tedda: You could help if you talked to Err.

Hazie: It might have the reverse effect. It might be like talking to a brother.

Tedda: A broken piece of milk glass! Did Err come in here and break it?

Hazie: No. Tom was in here. He broke it.

Tedda: Tom! (She steps back from where she has found the fragment of milk glass.)

Hazie: Tom is afraid that you're going to complain about Err. The last caretaker was worse.

Tedda: Tom is afraid that I'm going to complain about Tom. I'm just waiting for the first scream from his apartment. At least your milk glass rescued you. Did he rush at you?

Hazie: No. Tom was awkward. After I wondered who would pay for the new pane on the French doors Err put in. I upset him.

Tedda: All this milk glass is from your grandmother?

Hazie: I didn't buy it.

Tedda: (Picking up a piece of Fenton.) Did you get anything else from her?

Hazie: Sure. But my brother was going to throw out the milk glass. He had memories of breaking it.

Tedda: It's enough that you have to pay the rent.

Hazie: But I can't pay the rent!

(Tedda turns at her, a surprised expression on her face.)

Hazie: That's from a game I played with my sister when we were kids. A skit we acted out. (Lower voice). You must pay the rent! (Higher voice.) But I can't pay the rent.

Tedda: But you must pay the rent.

Hazie: But I can't pay the rent. (Lower voice). Here, I'll pay the rent.

Tedda: A hero!

Hazie: She says, "My hero!" And then the villain says, "Curses! Foiled again!" My brother liked to play the villain. Sometimes he would spoil the game and say to me, "Witch Hazel, summon up some money!" And then the hero would forget to come.

Tedda: What can you do if your brother isn't on your side?

(Hammering sounds from the wall behind the French doors.)

Tedda: Bang! Bang! Bang! Does he do that at night?

(Hazie goes to the French doors and latches them.)

Tedda: Why do you stay here?

Hazie: Because it's too expensive to move. And so far, there's no worry that someone might say, ïYou must move.'And then I'd have say, ïBut I can't move.'

Tedda: At least you're getting therapy.

(A drilling noise can be heard from the wall behind the French doors. Abruptly it stops and the hammering begins again. Tedda is fascinated and moves her chair so that she can see the French doors.)

Hazie: Why do you stay here, Tedda? With Tom next door?

Tedda: Because I know about the guy next door.

Hazie: Some girls would never leave home if they thought that way. I mean, most of the women here had something happen to them before they came to the city to work. And this building. What happened to you?

Tedda: Not much. It's what I saw happening. What happened to you?

Hazie: Not much. Why do foreigners come here?

(Hazie is writing on labels and sticking them to her tapes.)

Tedda: Maybe because their brothers can't show up and start asking a lot of questions. I thought you were going to go home.

Hazie: No! I'm not!

Tedda: (Turns from the French doors and stares at Hazie.) Well, was it so hard to say no to your brother?

Hazie: No, it was harder to say no to his wife.

Tedda: God, it's the terrible twenties. It's too bad about your brother but think about how old you are.

Hazie: It's hard to do that when people forget how old you are.

Tedda: The psychiatrists know how old you are.

Hazie: They just give you a drug and ask how you feel. And if you don't like it, they'll tell you that you'll feel good soon enough. And if you don't, they'll put you in a bed until you do.

Tedda: You mean you can't say no to the psychiatrist, not your brother.

Hazie: I said no to my brother.

Tedda: He was around here. He had your apartment key. Joan told me about it.

Hazie: That's because it doesn't matter what I say.

Tedda: I'm really not exactly sure what you're saying, Hazie. But maybe you didn't say it loudly enough. Listen to that Err. The way he acts with a hammer. He probably needs therapy. Nothing wrong with him! He can say NO anytime.

Hazie: I was thinking Err was like a real brother.

(Hazie goes to the window and looks at snow that is beginning to come down.)

Tedda: Err like a brother? Oh, brother! It's about that bad, sister!

Hazie: (Turning from the window.) That's why it's alright here! When the guys get to be better brothers than a brother.

Tedda: Oh, God! Now I've heard everything! And nothing! So you can't ask Err about fixing my torn shade because you want him to be like a brother to you?

Hazie: (Looks out at the snow again.) No, that's not it. Did you have a real brother that you know about this, Tedda?

Tedda: I know what feels good. Didn't you ever want to do this, Hazie?

(Tedda goes to the French doors, unlatches them, and then she stomps to the wall where the hammering is sounding. She bangs on the wall with her fist. She bangs again and then a third time. Then she retraces her steps and makes for Hazie's hall door.)

Tedda: I'm going to my room now, Hazie.

Hazie: Tedda, whose side are you on?

Tedda: (She is swinging around the side tables and knocks over a piece of milk glass. She stops as it breaks.) I'm leaving now, Hazie. Remember, I need to have my torn shades fixed. (Tedda is seen turning left, going to the stairwell opposite Err's apartment. Soon a door is heard opening.)

Hazie: (Quietly closes her door.) You must pay the rent. But I can't pay the rent. But you must pay the rent. But I can't pay the rent! (Lower voice) Here, I'll pay the rent. (Higher voice.) My villain!


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