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Scene Two


Only the hallway is illuminated and merely by a brace of shaded orange wall Night has descended upon San Basilica. lamps. Outside in the moonlight, a small orchestra can be heard playing "Charmaine". KEVIN and LENA enter from the right, slowly, silently, a sheet of tension between them. As they pass Lenaís room, SHE stops, but KEVIN continues to his room without glancing back.
LENA
                                                  (plaintively)
Well---so long.

KEVIN

                                                 (perfunctorily)
So long.
  (THEY enter their respective rooms, switching on the lights. KEVIN ambles wearily to the window and gazes out. But Lenaís plaintiveness has turned to anger. SHE kicks off her shoes and flops on the bed but still has her purse tied to her wrist. The more she reviews the situation, the angrier she becomes. SHE leaps from the bed, hurling the shoes against the wall. Then SHE races through both bathroom doors into Kevinís room.)
LENA
Youíre nuts! (Having got that off her chest, SHE runs back through the two bathroom doors, slamming them hard behind her. KEVIN goes to the bed and sits with a heavy sigh)
KEVIN
So Dr. Bellagio, what do I do now? Here I am in a situation which is---well, kind of perfect. I mean, I know thereís an explanation for it somewhere, but just in surface terms itís a love addictís dream. All those gorgeous young things at dinner! The conquests I could have made! Like the tall sultry one with the crimson headband. Of course, those flat bras---what a damned stupid style! Maybe thereís more excitement when you finally get them alone and unhook the thing--- WOW! Oh, God, the glory of it all! No guilt, no consequences, no Phyllis! Not even contraceptives. I mean, they couldnít very well have a son in nine months whoíd be seventy years older than his father. And if one was married, like Miss Tall, Sultry, Crimson-Headband, what could her husband do? Shoot me? When I havenít even been born? I could have trailed her down to the Franciscan gardens, grabbed her behind a rhododendron and whoosh! I could become the Stud of San Basilica! And what do I do? Get mixed up with that silly, addle-headed flapper! Silly, addle-headed flapper---Iím beginning to sound like them. All that drivel about Ceylon and sultry moonlit nights! And I believed her! Just because we landed on the bed together, I started getting all involved. Itís a good thing the dinner bell rang. (LENA, whose anger has been building again, now recharges through the bathroom doors.)
LENA
Rotten sonuabitch! (KEVIN takes a small notepad from his jacket pocket, opens the laptop and begins transferring information.)
KEVIN
Go back to your room. I have work to do.

LENA

You got a nerve criticizing me! ME! While all the time at that beautiful forty-foot hand-carved Spanish mahogany dining table, youíre embarrassing me like I ainít never been embarrassed in my life!

KEVIN

You---you---! (Lunging at her, HE wrests the purse from her wrist.)


LENA

You get your grubby paws off that!

KEVIN

Filling this thing with everybodyís unfinished dessert! (Turning the purse upside down, HE lets pieces of sweets fall to the carpet. SHE rushes to retrieve them.)
LENA
You lousy bull-shoveler, youíre getting them all fulla germs!

KEVIN

"Gee, you hardly touched your dessert." "Gee, you hardly touched your dessert! And you! Hey there! You---you at the end of the table, you hardly touched your dessert."

LENA

I get hungry late at night.

KEVIN

There may not be much in my time, but in 1920-whatever-the-hell-this-is, there was class and manners and social graces. Whatíd they teach you on that plantation anyway? No wonder that Eurasian housekeeper hated your guts. You probably used to filch all her almond cookies.

LENA

Donít you dare! Donít you dare say a word about what I told you in the strictest confidence! And, as for me finishing their desserts, itís because I hate waste! I hate waste, and so does Mr. Huomo!

KEVIN

Oh, you and your Mr. Huomo!

LENA

Yes, me and my Mr. Huomo! When he finds out what you were doing at that table. Heíll probably have a stroke or somethiní! Asking all them nice well-dressed people for "pertinent facts" so when you get back to "the present", you can look them all up. And telling everyone to put out his cigarette because second-hand smoke will kill ya. And as for manners, you second-hand hunk oí cheese, the only man at the table without a dinner jacket! You know what all those refined people thought? Well, I can tell you what they thought! They thought you were tetched---tetched in the second story!

KEVIN

Now Iím telling you and Iím telling you only once more. I come from another time! The present! This is the past, and you are the past. And in my time, you, Lena Martina, if you hadnít already done yourself in on chocolate eclairs and pineapple cheese cake, you would be waddling your big fat ass down the hallway of some crappy retirement home in a pair of purple slacks, your gray hair hidden under quarts of orange henna, asking all the other residents whether they were gonna finish their Jell-O pudding!

LENA

You think youíre the catís pajamas, dontcha? Well, youíre just small potatoes. Of all the cheesy ways I ever heard to attract attention---telling people youíre sixty years younger than anyone at the table---including Mr. St. Clairís nine year old nephew!

KEVIN

Get out of here, will you?

LENA

I ainít budginí till I had my say.

KEVIN

You stay right where you are and so help me God, Iím gonna do to you what Iíve been longing to do to Phyllis for the last eleven years!

LENA

You just try! You---just---try! I could lick any boy in the fifth grade in the whole state of Kansas!

KEVIN

You prove one thing, Lena Martina. Women were always ball-busters.

LENA

Yeah! Come on. Try and sock me!

KEVIN

Forget it.

LENA

Why do we have to fight all the time?

KEVIN

God only knows! I loathe fighting. Dr. Bellagio tells me I should stand up for myself more than I do.

LENA

Ya couldnít prove it by me.

KEVIN

If I did, I could cope with those goddamned twins of mine.

LENA

What a way to talk about your own children! If Mr. Huomo could only hear you.

KEVIN

Mr. Huomo. Mr. Huomo. Iím beginning to think there isnít any Mr. Huomo.

LENA

You stop that kind of talk.

KEVIN

Well, was he there? At dinner?

LENA

Of course he wasnít at dinner. He had too much work to do. But he was there in spirit.

KEVIN

If by spirit you mean those eighty-five different paintings of him and his mother, he was there all right!

LENA

And his secretary was there. Mr. St. Clair. You saw him yourself.

KEVIN

Mr. Huomo has as many secretaries as self-portraits. What I want to see is Mr. Huomo in the flesh.

LENA

Maybe youíre not worthy to see him.

KEVIN

Who is?

LENA

Lotsa people.

KEVIN

You?

LENA

Yes, me!

KEVIN

Youíve seen him?

LENA

Yes, Iíve seen him! Many times!

KEVIN

Where?

LENA

Right--- (SHE stops.)
KEVIN
Right where?

LENA

I canít tell you. I canít talk about it.

KEVIN

Get too choked up, is that the story?

LENA

Now you listen here----!

KEVIN

Tell me about Mr. Huomo, Lena.

LENA

I just told you. I canít talk about it.

KEVIN

I donít mean about your seeing him.

LENA

Then what?

KEVIN

I mean about the man---his whole story---

LENA

Everyone knows his story.

KEVIN

Ah, but which version?

LENA

Whatdya mean?

KEVIN

Never mind. Just make believe Iím a visitor from---from out of the past. Iíve never even heard of Cyrus J. Huomo. So you have to tell me. Start from the beginning. Please. (KEVIN seats himself in the large armchair. Spotlight falls on Lena. SHE relates the story with great feeling and compassion.)
LENA
Many, many years ago, in the reign of Zachary Taylor, a group of happy pioneers was heading westward through the endless desert and the plagues of locusts and the long, long nights and the long, long days. One long, long night while they were fast asleep dreaming of a land where the sun would shine and the crops would grow, suddenly out of nowhere descended a band of ugly redskin savages---screaming, scalping, massacring---leaving not a breathing thing. Not a breathing thing except one small baby---one tiny breath of lifeóall alone to be scorched by the sun or devoured by the great sweeping vultures. Days passed, and how the little baby stayed alive is one of the Good Lordís great miracles. Then one day another train of happy pioneers passed some miles away. In one wagon was a young handsome childless couple, Maude and Stanislau Huomo. It was Maude---lovely delicate, sensitive Maude---who heard, as if in a dream, the cries of the Little Baby Cyrus. Because she pleaded and begged, Stanislau Huomo left the train and rode---rode like a demon toward the cries Maude heard. There they found the Little Baby Cyrus, hungry, thirsty, close to death, on the verge of being eaten by a bald eagle. Not an American one---a Mexican one. A Mexican bald eagle. And so Maude and Stanislau took the Little Baby Cyrus and nursed it back to health and brought it with them to California.
                                                   (looking toward Kevin for approval)
Is that all right?

KEVIN

Perfect.

LENA

Stanislau and Maude Huomo were very, very poor and lived on a tiny farm, which is still enshrined at the foot of Casa Imperioso Hill. There the Little Baby Cyrus grew up, healthy and strong and loved to pieces. He was called Honest Cy because he could not tell a lie. Once he chopped the barn down, and when his father returned home and said, "Who chopped the barn down?", Little Baby Cyrus said, "It was I, Papa. I cannot tell a lie."

KEVIN

And why did he chop the barn down?

LENA

Oh, I forgot. Thatís the most important part. He chopped the barn down for his motherís operation. You see, his mother was desperately sick, and when the doctor was called, he told the Little Baby Cyrus, "Little Baby Cyrus, either we operate immediately or your mother will die." What was Cyrus to do? His father Stanislau was away selling chicken livers around the countryside. And what a dark and stormy night it was without enough light for the operation. So poor little Cyrus had to make light. He chopped the barn down, hauled the wood into the house and set up a mirror across from the fireplace, then set the wood ablaze, and the mirror reflected the light, and thus it came to pass that the doctor was able to operate and his mother was saved.

KEVIN

Remarkable.

LENA

Little Cyrus worked very, very hard on the farm, but was so hungry for learning, he would walk twenty miles to school in the cold wet snow. Once we walked fifty miles to return a nickel to a man he had accidentally overcharged when selling him half a dozen chicken livers.

KEVIN

Unbelievable.

LENA

At the age of 18, he fell in love and married lovely, delicate, sensitive Wilma Rutkin. But alas in four years she contracted tuberculosis and died leaving Cyrus grief-stricken and celibate for life. Then the Great Muskegon Wars came, and Cyrus volunteered to fight in the service of his country against the same redskin savages who had massacred his real parents. With a portrait of beloved Wilma Rutkin in a locket around his neck, he rode off and soon rose from Private to Colonel in six short months by dint of courage and hard work. Of course everyone knows the Great Muskegon Wrestling Match.

KEVIN

Tell me.

LENA

After months of bloodshed, Cyrus Huomo went alone and unarmed to the Muskegon camp and told the Evil Red Chief, Manaloosa, "Manaloosa, the only way this can be settled fairly is man-to-man. Bring on your bravest warrior." And Manaloosa brought on his bravest warrior, six feet seven with arms like ham hocks. And Manaloosa said, "Now you bring-um on bravest warrior." And Cyrus answered, "I am not bravest warrior, but I shall fight as best I can." The fight lasted four hours until at last, both men beaten and exhausted, the Redskin was pinned to the ground, and the war was over. And so Cyrus returned to civilian life and the tiny law practice he had begun. But he was not a successful lawyer. He was too honest to be a successful lawyer. But honesty was soon rewarded in the guise of Mr. Pietre Jones. To Cyrus Huomo, Mr. Pietre Jones was just a little wrinkled old man who wanted someone to help him across the street. Little did Cyrus realize that in only a few months Mr. Pietre Jones would die leaving his great fortune to the kind young stranger who had taken his arm and led him safely across the corner of Old Post Road and Maple Avenue. And thus Cyrus Julian Huomo became a wealthy man. But never once did he forget kindness and truth and honesty. And he dedicated his life to founding libraries, helping the poor, the sick and the maimed putting a copy of the Bible in every bar in America and---- Youíre laughing at me! (Lights come up full now, and KEVIN is indeed laughing at her.)
KEVIN
I never would have believed it.

LENA

Youíre detestable! Laughing at one of the most touching stories in the world!

KEVIN

                                                 (rising and going to her)
Lena, I was only trying to find out what---

LENA

Donít touch me! Is that why you had me tell you the story, so you could laugh at it! Miserable sewer-rat!
                                                 (SHE marches to the bathroom door in tears, then turns.)
Do you know why I even bothered talking to you? Because Madame Spinoza at the Solvang Fair said that in the smaller house of the great house Iíd meet a strange dark man. And, boy oh boy, youíre the strangest dark man I ever met in my life! (SHE slams both doors and retires into her bedroom.)
KEVIN
I didnít mean to hurt her. But hell. What a legacy to leave the world---flat bras and Cyrus J. Huomo! Itís 8:35. By this time I should have been back in L.A. But what can I do? I guess Iím stuck here. But for how long? And what will Phyllis say? Oh, screw what Phyllisíll say. Thereís something about this place---something so---evocative. It wasnít this afternoon---anyway, it wasnít like this. Everything smells here. A dozen scents in the air---all mingling together like several brilliant colors on an artistís palette. And the food! Iíve never tasted food that so---tasted! Of course, when you think that all that stuff I put in my stomach---when you think how it would be seventy years later with all that bacteria---it makes you a little nauseous. (From the left of the corridor come HOUSEBOY and INEZ. HOUSEBOY motions toward Kevinís room.)
INEZ
Sssh! (SHE pulls out a bill, hands it to him. HE regards it with delight, begins to exit backwards, bowing.)
HOUSEBOY
Thanky---thanky---

INEZ

Donít "thanky" me. And for Godís sake stand up straight. This place will one day be yours. (HOUSEBOY shrugs and goes off as INEZ taps at Kevinís door. KEVIN opens it. INEZ barges past him, looks right and left to make sure no one else is there, then breathes a sigh of relief and closes the door.)
INEZ
Iíve got to make this fast before they barge in. I hate unnecessary words, and I detest lies. So level with me.

KEVIN

Huh?

INEZ

You can drop the act with me. Iíve read The Book.

KEVIN

The book?

INEZ

The Book! Capital T---capital B.

KEVIN

I havenít glanced at The Bible in years.

INEZ

The Bible! You are the living end. You wonít let down for a second. What do I have to do, show you my Card?

KEVIN

What card?

INEZ

What other Card is there?

KEVIN
           (pulling out his wallet and letting the accordion file fall)

Iíve got sixteen. Discover, American Express, Bankamericard, my health club, Vonís Club, my Real Estate License card, Blue Cross, Blue ShieldÖ

INEZ

God, you give me chills down my spine! I never heard a spiel like yours before. Coming from the world of the future! What an approach! Why didn't any of us think of that? Comrade.

KEVIN

Comrade.

INEZ

Then I was right!

KEVIN

I didnít mean "comrade". I meant "comrade"?

INEZ

You mean in case anyone is listening?

KEVIN

No, I meant "Comrade" with a question mark, because I voted Republican in the last election.

INEZ

With a question mark or without a question mark, what difference does it make when one meets a true revolutionist?

KEVIN

Dr. Bellagio, help me!

INEZ

You mentioned him at dinner. Dr. Bellagio. What a perfect satirical name!

KEVIN

Itís a street in Bel Air.

INEZ

You make up the most wonderful names!

KEVIN

Itís not his real name. His real name is Fink.  I donít know what Bel Airís real name is.

INEZ

Marvelous!

KEVIN

Heís a superb analyst, but he found it exceedingly difficult when people would ask people at cocktail parties who their analyst was, and the people would answer, "Aaron Fink."

INEZ

What a perfect satirical concept to combat the bourgeois burgeonings of psychoanalytical hogwash!

KEVIN

But itís the truth---

INEZ

How wondrous to have created such a consummate fascist ignoramus with no social conscience! Such a complete purveyor of individualist claptrap in a world crying, sobbing, dying for equality!

KEVIN

What the devil are you doing at San Basilica?

INEZ

Youíre colossal! You ask me! Iím doing the same thing youíre doing---infiltrating.

KEVIN

In other words youíre a poor girl---possibly from New Yorkís lower East Side---who has wormed her way in and is standing by with envy at the rich.

INEZ

I canít stand it! Youíre brilliant!

KEVIN

Iím right, you mean.

INEZ

I mean youíre right in rebuttal---youíre always right in rebuttal---youíre the most fantastic rebutalist Iíve ever seen! A poor girl from the lower East Side! You knew all along who I was.

KEVIN

                                                (checking his notes)
Inez. Thatís all I got.

INEZ

Come on, you got more, you old genius. You got Inez Gouterman.

KEVIN

I couldnít read the "Gouter" part.

INEZ

Well?

KEVIN

Well what?

INEZ

That doesnít mean anything to you.

KEVIN

Should it?

INEZ

I canít get over you---pretending you donít know!

KEVIN

Gouterman?

INEZ

Herman Gouterman of Goutermanís Fancy Player Pianos?

KEVIN

Oh, that Gouterman.
                                                 (aside)
I have a feeling this is another Edmund Carlton.

INEZ

A poor girl from the lower East Side!

KEVIN

Then why, may I ask, are you a Communist?

INEZ

Perfect! Test me! Keep testing me!

KEVIN

                                                   (aside)
Why do I find myself longing for Lena Martina?

INEZ

I am a Communist because, unlike most of the members of the Party, I know the decaying, maggot-infested capitalistic society from within! I know what itís like to wake up in the morning and come down a gilded gingerbread staircase into a gilded gingerbread dining room and sit at a gilded gingerbread table and eat course after course of rich, heavy, disgusting food wrung out of the lifeís blood of exploited migratory workers! Rich, heavy, disgusting food which has done nothing but shorten their lives and make mine a nightmare of crash diets and layers of fat! I know what itís like to listen to an old contemptible mossback chiseling profiteer capitalist bastard as he sits at each meal and gorges himself and uses people and bullies people and calls me "Fatso" and keeps playing those goddamned player pianos! Ah, yes, my young clever handsome friend, I know. But enough about me. Itís you who can change everything!

KEVIN

Me?

INEZ

I couldnít have cared less about you when you first sat down to dinner with that bleached blonde Dumb Dora. But then you said something---before you spoke of stepping back from the future. Something about Old Cockatrice.

KEVIN

Who?

INEZ

Come on, please. No more of that. We havenít got time.

KEVIN

No more of what?

INEZ

Old Cockatrice---Huomo---that phony bloated plutocrat!

KEVIN

All I said wasÖ

INEZ

All you said! When Miss Jukes looked up and batted her big dumb brown lashes and cooed, "Which one of the paintings do you like best?" and what did you say?

KEVIN

What did I say?

INEZ

You know goddamned well what you said: "the one by the outhouse".

KEVIN

Well, yes, I---

INEZ

Then you know! And you have facts?

KEVIN

Well, there was a book, a best-seller a few years back. The Huomo Myth: A Portrait in Mass Ingenuousness.

INEZ

You donít have to give me that future baloney. Just level with me about Huomo.

KEVIN

I told you. Certain things have been discovered----

INEZ

What things? You must tell me. As long as thereís a lie like this there can be no enlightened America!
                                                   (Sounds are heard outside. INEZ advances to the window.)
Damn it, theyíre coming!

KEVIN

Here?

INEZ

Of course here! You absolutely fascinated them They want to learn more.
                                                   (Desperately searching the room, SHE opens the bathroom door and beckons to him)
Quick, in here!

KEVIN

But---

INEZ

Donít ask questions! (KEVIN enters the bathroom and INEZ locks both doors.)
KEVIN
But we donít have time for me to tell you what I know----

INEZ

Huomo can wait a second. Youíre the most intriguing man Iíve met in years. Take me.

KEVIN

What?

INEZ

Take me---Iím yours!

KEVIN

But the others---itís a two minute walk up the steps and through the corridor!

INEZ

So? How long does taking someone take?
  (KEVINís mouth falls open.)
 
 

CURTAIN