Episode 5: “Platypus” – Transcript

MonkeyTales – Episode 5 – “Platypus”
by D.J. Sylvis

Listen to the Episode Here

SETTING: Inside a small-town thrift store. We see a shelf full of ceramic figures of various sorts and states of disrepair, and hear the sounds of shopping.

AT RISE: LILA is looking at figures, turning them over to see the prices written on the bottom. JOVETTE is working her way down from the opposite end of the shelf, on her cell phone, not noticing the other woman at all.  

FAINT VOICE

            (answering phone)

DuBois Resale, may I help you? Seven p.m. tonight. We don’t have a donation box.

LILA

Ah, the fine ceramics section. If it’s not chipped, it was painted by someone’s child. You hope someone’s child. Bear, bear, Precious Moments, bear, Avon bottle, Jesus Christ.

            (she chuckles)

I guess somebody lost their religion. Ooh, bunny!

JOVETTE

            (on her cell phone, getting closer)

I know. I know. I’ll be there, okay? Mamá, dame un respiro. Ya tengo suficientes problemas –

            (she and Lila reach for the same figure)

Sorry, could you just … I want that little rabbit.

LILA

You and me both, lady.

JOVETTE

            (into the phone)

Sólo un minuto.

            (back to Lila)

Seriously? What are you going to do with a ceramic rabbit with a broken ear?

LILA

That’s just the way I like them! Give me!

JOVETTE

            (into the phone)

Mamá, tengo que irme.

            (she puts her phone away)

“Give me?” The case you’re making is, “give me?”

LILA

It usually works. What are you gonna do with a broke-ass rabbit figure, anyway?

JOVETTE

What difference does it make? I found it first.

LILA

You made fun of “give me,” and your reply is, “I found it first?” There’s six shelves of trash here – it’s a not-quite-vintage wonderland – and you’re fighting for Peter Crap’n’tail?

JOVETTE

I … like animals. They work well for my … shut up.

LILA

I get it. You’ve got one of those little Etsy stores where you repaint figures and put little pithy slogans on the bottom, then sell them for thirty bucks plus twenty-five shipping?

JOVETTE

I said shut up.

LILA

Fine. Enjoy the busted bunny. It’s people like you ruin all the good thrift shops.  

            (she grabs the Jesus figure from earlier)

I’m gonna take my porcelain Lord and Saviour here and be on my way. Good day, sir.

JOVETTE

Wait. I wasn’t trying to –

LILA

I said good day, sir!

            (she starts to walk away, then turns on a dime)
Hey. You, with the lagomorph. I know you.

JOVETTE

            (realizing)

I guess you do.

LILA

It took a minute to switch back to country-vision, but you do stand out.

            (brief pause)

Especially in our graduating class. School. Municipality. Hicksville.

JOVETTE

All right, now. Some of us still live here.

LILA

Yeah, I can’t really figure that out, but you do you. Well, enjoy your restoration project there, Jovette Grimaldo, class of ’94. Hope you win all the Etsys.

            (she turns around to walk away, still clutching the Jesus figure)

JOVETTE

Wait a minute!

LILA

Can’t, gotta run, happy family times and all that. See ya …

            (under her breath, but clearly audible)

Wouldn’t wanna be ya.

JOVETTE

            (pursuing to the end of the aisle)

What was that supposed to be? “Wait, I know you,” and then you’re off?

            (she calls out)

Talk to you in another twenty-five years, I guess.

LILA

            (talking to the figure she holds)
Jesus, help me. What, nothing to say? Typical.

            (turning back to Jovette)

You really want to do this?

JOVETTE

 Do what?

LILA

It’s a public place – with lots of breakables at hand. You go and play the years card, as if we were big buddies back in the day or something. I’m just … letting you off the hook, that’s all. Here, take the Son of God here.

            (handing her the figure)

You need him more than me. Have a … life. I’ve got stuff.

            (turning away again)

JOVETTE

            (after a moment)

Who doesn’t have stuff?

LILA

What did you say?

JOVETTE

Don’t do me any favours, letting me off the hook. I wasn’t trying to … I was being nice, that’s all.

LILA

Because you’re nice now.

JOVETTE

I had things of my own.

LILA

Stuff and things!

JOVETTE

I grew up. I’m …

LILA

Nice?

JOVETTE

Better.

LILA

Bully for you. Are we done here?

JOVETTE

            (suddenly throws down the Jesus figure, shattering it)

Look, I’m trying, okay?

LILA

Oh my god! Well, someone’s god.

JOVETTE

            (to someone off stage)
I’m so sorry. I’ll clean that up, and of course I’ll pay for it.

            (she sort of kicks the pieces into a pile while they talk)

LILA

That’s not gonna get you any points, country mouse.

JOVETTE

Okay, just go.

LILA

Yeah?

JOVETTE

You don’t want this, we’re not gonna laugh about memories of our English teacher and all that shit.

LILA

Language!

JOVETTE

I have to go find a broom.

            (she turns away, still clutching the rabbit from earlier)

LILA

We’re definitely not laughing at memories. You do remember it, don’t you? At some point in this conversation it came back to you, and that’s why you’re … nice, why you’re trying. Because you’re looking at me and seeing that kid who came to pool day for gym wearing a one-piece and swim fins, and you said, “Oh my god, he looks like a platypus,” and everyone laughed so loud I tripped and cracked my head open on a support for the diving board and they still laughed and … it’s not like things were amazing before that but then that one moment became high school. Cartoons on the blackboard, a joke the teachers didn’t get in the talent show, another one in a yearbook I still have to pretend to laugh at when my mom hauls it out over the holidays. Like it’s not hard enough looking at pictures of that messed-up, mixed up boy without … okay, telling the story now it’s obviously got to do with more than just a high-school bully but … still. Still. Still.

JOVETTE

            (after an uncomfortable silence)

I remember.

LILA

It may sound like a stupid thing to you, but …

JOVETTE

No.

            (after a pause)

No. It’s not a stupid thing.

LILA

I mean, of course there were lots of … but that sticks out.

            (shaking it off)

You know, because of the major head wound.

JOVETTE

You were in English the next period.

LILA

How do you know that?

JOVETTE

We were in the same class. Mrs. Wertz.

LILA

That’s right. Mama Sue. The only good part of that school.

JOVETTE

            (finally turning back)

She still is. Not at school, but … we’re close. She was the only one to stand by me when … I came out.

LILA

            (absorbing that)

I can’t even imagine coming out here. At home. With nowhere else to go.

            (trying to shake it off)

This isn’t the oppression Olympics. You’re not racking up points against me.

JOVETTE

I’m not trying to … Jesus.

LILA

            (indicating the pile of destroyed ceramic)

Has left the building, I’m afraid.

JOVETTE

Guess I’ll have to wait three days.

LILA

            (laughing unexpectedly)

Yeah.

            (giving in just a little)
I’m not sure who wins that Olympics anyway. Trans and fat – hey, trans-fat! – or brown and gay, so …

JOVETTE

I guess we share the medal.

LILA

Though hey, I’m queer too, so … hooray.

            (gives a little cheer)

But you stayed here; that might make us even.

            (brief pause)
Gosh that must have been … I can’t wrap my head around it.

JOVETTE

Nobody came out when we were kids. I didn’t even know there really were queer people. I thought it was just … something it’d be nice if it were true. Like science fiction.

LILA

Yeah.

JOVETTE

Now here I am, out to everyone younger than my grandma. It’s still not great, but …

LILA

It’s not great in the city, either, there’s just more of us. Strength in numbers. Not like any of those numbers have been following me home lately.

JOVETTE

At least you’ve got options. I’ve dated every lesbian in the county, and … not gonna go back.

LILA

You’ve been through the whole dozen?

            (they laugh a little)

You can feel it, driving in, like a curtain being drawn. Every political sign, every truck with a window sticker about guns and glory, every church along the main drag …

            (nodding to the ground)

No offense to the recently departed.

JOVETTE

But there are clubs, walkouts, harassment policies. I think it’s easier now. Even here.

LILA

Good thing about the internet, nobody’s the only one.

            (pause)
Bad thing about the internet, nobody’s the only one.

JOVETTE

Yeah.

LILA

I should go. I’ve only got a half-hour’s parole from my aunt’s house before the ankle monitor goes off.

JOVETTE

            (laughs)

If my mom finds out that’s an option …

            (getting ready to go)

LILA

Don’t forget the rabbit.

JOVETTE

            (picking it up again)

I’m definitely taking the rabbit. This little bunny is a gold mine.

            (after a moment)

Would you, maybe, want to grab a coffee or something? Before you head back to the big city.

LILA

Are you? Are you really?

JOVETTE

I don’t know. Kinda.

LILA

You really are hard up, aren’t you? I get it. “Dear Out Magazine, I’ve heard about the new-queer-in-a-small-town thing, but I never thought it’d happen to me.”

JOVETTE

It’s not that! That’s not the thing. It’s just an … I-like-you thing. Or an I-owe-you thing. Probably some of both.

LILA

I’m not sure how to feel about that.

JOVETTE

Okay. Just putting it out there –

LILA

No, you know what, fuck you. Fuck you sideways.

            (pause, almost embarrassed)
Sorry, that fuck you has been a long time coming. But you think we go through this and it turns into a meet-cute story? Okay, we were kids, and I can’t blame everything bad for the last few decades on the way you treated me. But I haven’t forgotten it either. And you know what? You haven’t even said you’re sorry. So fuck you, fuck your coffee, fuck the I-owe-you thing. I’m not having it.

JOVETTE

Look, I’m … sorry. I apologize.

LILA

I know you’ve grown up. You changed. Everyone changes. But that doesn’t mean you get some sort of free pass because you’re not as self-centered as you were in high school. It doesn’t mean you get off without feeling sorry.

JOVETTE

I just said I’m sorry!

LILA

After I gave you your cue.

JOVETTE

Fine, you’re right.

            (pause)

I’m sorry I was a bitch to you then. I was a bitch to everybody, ask my family. I was fucked up and about one bad day from ending things at any given time, and that was how I coped. I know it hurt you, I wish I could fix that, all I can do is offer to buy you that coffee and say that I am really, honestly sorry.

LILA

            (leaves her hanging for a moment, then)

Okay.

JOVETTE

Okay?

LILA

Okay. Was that so much to ask?

            (brief pause)

You know what; chances are I’ll be back at Easter. Track me down then if you’re still interested, we’ll see if I’m feeling more charitable.

JOVETTE

Oh yeah?

LILA

I gotta admit, it’s a little bit flattering. So, until then …

            (she turns to leave)

JOVETTE

Hold on.

LILA

What?

JOVETTE

If you’re feeling charitable? This isn’t some sort of Hallmark movie –

LILA

Obviously, I’m not a B-list TV actress and you’re not a generic hunk who keeps losing his shirt.

JOVETTE

Shut up. You don’t get to dictate terms because I was shitty to you in the past. It happened. I wasn’t at my best. I guarantee there were people you were shitty to, somewhere, at some point. Have you apologized to them?

LILA

How dare you imply I was anything less than perfect as a child.

            (tries to laugh it off)

Okay, you’ve got a point, but I’m not asking them on dates.

JOVETTE

I’m not either. Not now. Maybe I don’t deserve a chance with you – any sort of chance, any little thing – but that doesn’t mean you get to toy with me for daring to ask. No is no, the door is right out there past the shelf of VHS tapes, go ahead and use it.

LILA

Fair enough.

JOVETTE

Don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way.

LILA

Is that a fat joke?

JOVETTE

No! I wouldn’t do that!  

LILA

I’m just messing with you. Have a life.

            (she doesn’t move)

JOVETTE

Well?

LILA

You might not be … totally wrong. By accident. I forgot you were this much of a fighter.  

JOVETTE

I had to be.

LILA

Yeah.

            (brief pause)

Okay. I’m … I’m gonna go. There’s a Salvation Army on the other side of town, I haven’t embarrassed myself there yet and time’s a-wasting.

(She starts to exit, and Jovette looks down at the rabbit in her hands. After a moment, she laughs.)

LILA

            (almost gone)

What?

JOVETTE

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

LILA

You’re never going to see me again. Shoot.

JOVETTE

We actually went to Australia a couple of years ago. One of those ‘trip of a lifetime’ things, my parents always wanted to go. And we went to this wildlife sanctuary where they had … wait for it … a platypus. A few of them, but they did a little show with one where you could see him up-close and watch him play.

LILA

I feel a moral coming on.

JOVETTE

I just … okay, they look kinda dorky out on land; they waddle and scurry. But in the water, in their element … they’re sleek, joyous, gorgeous little animals. He looked like he was having a blast.

LILA

Did this turn into a very special episode of something?

JOVETTE

I just … it was cool to see, that’s all.

            (pause, looks down at her feet)

I’m glad you got out. I’m glad you found your place.

LILA

            (after a moment, laughing)
Yeah … that’s complete bullshit. I don’t buy any of that. You probably didn’t even go to Australia.

JOVETTE

I guess you’re never gonna know, are you?

LILA

You got me. Anyway, you made the effort. Thanks for that.

JOVETTE

            (bows theatrically)

You are welcome.

            (Lila starts to exit)

Safe travels, Lila. It was … good to see you.

LILA

            (she stops for a moment)

It was an experience, I’ll give you that.

            (she keeps walking)

FAINT VOICE

Have a nice day! Thank you for shopping by!

LILA

            (we hear her walk back)

Hey. You.

JOVETTE

Hey, what?

LILA

Walk me out to the parking lot? After you pay for your goddamn rabbit, of course.

JOVETTE

            (looks at her hands)

This? I don’t want this. The ear is broken.

(She sets it back on the shelf, and they start to walk away together.)

LILA

That fucking story. You couldn’t find Australia on a map.

JOVETTE

You couldn’t find your ass on a map.

LILA

You kidding? Look at my ass. It’s on maps.

(The play ends.)

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