(Lights up on Jared bustling around the basic set of a ‘house’. There’s a couch, an end table, a chair, a coffee table, and behind that is the designated ‘kitchen’ area where Jared is moving about briskly. He’s wearing cargo shorts, hiking boots, a flannel shirt and has a backpack on the kitchen table that he is feverishly packing)
Jared: Babe? Babe! Are you done upstairs yet?
Annie: (from offstage) Almost! I’m on my way down now.
Jared: I’m so excited for this trip, babe! It’s exactly what we needed. A perfect weekend getaway…just us. I’m so pumped!
Annie: (enters wearing hiking boots, jean shorts, an open flannel shirt with a tank top underneath. She brings her backpack down with her and sets it on the couch) I’m excited, too. This will be fun.
Jared: And look, I made road snacks! Trail mix with extra m&ms, just like you like!
Annie: Thanks. Looks good.
Jared: Yeah? You know I’m really looking forward to…(sidles up close to her) spending some time…alone…with you…and the great outdoors. (he’s implying sex)
Annie: (doesn’t do much to return his sexy implications. She merely stands there still until she speaks) Yeah, right. Me to. I’m gonna go put this stuff in the car. (exits with the back packs)
Jared: Good call… (he’s a little confused by her brushing him off, but he shrugs it off and continues talking to her from offstage) Hey, do you think we should bring fishing reels? This place is supposed to have some great little ponds to fish in! And the trails… they’re also supposed to be really nice too. I read those brochures you left on the nightstand…this Evergreen Park place just looks…
Annie: Yeah. It’s a really nice place.
Jared: So you got the car packed? Are we ready to go?
Jared: C’mon, we gotta go before morning traffic hits! What are you waiting for?
Jared: (finally pausing to look at her) Babe…what’s up?
Annie: Are you cheating on me?
Jared: What?! No! What?
Annie: Jared. Are you cheating on me? It’s a simple question.
Jared: (approaching her slowly) Babe… we’re like…about to leave on a romantic camping trip together, and you’re asking if… I mean… you’re seriously asking if… if…
Annie: If…you can’t even say it, can you?
Jared: No, I can’t! Because it’s crazy!
Annie: It’s not crazy if it’s true.
Jared: I’m not cheating on you.
Annie: (long pause) Okay.
Annie: (beat) Okay.
Annie: Let’s go, then.
Annie: C’mon. Rush hour traffic, right?
Jared: Are you kidding me?
Jared: You ask me a question like that, and then suddenly…what? It just…doesn’t matter…anymore?
Annie: Well. You said no.
Jared: I know. Because…you know…I’m not…
Annie: Cheating. Right, I got it. You must not be cheating on me. You just said so.
Jared: You think I’m lying?
Annie: Why would I think that?
Jared: I don’t know…why would you think that?
Annie: I don’t know why I would think that. Because you know, I don’t think that.
Jared: Wait…you don’t?
Annie: No. Or at least…I didn’t.
Jared: You didn’t?
Annie: No I didn’t think you were cheating on me at all until I asked you if you were. And you…you know…paused.
Jared: Wait, wait…hold up.
Jared: You mean to tell me that you didn’t even think I was cheating on you at all, but you just decided to ask me for the hell of it if I was and because I paused you now actually think I am cheating on you? Are you serious?
Annie: I don’t know what to think anymore, Jared. But we should get going, don’t you think?
Jared: No! I don’t think that at all! I do not think we should get going at all until we talk this out!
Annie: What’s there to talk about? I asked if you were cheating on me and now I think you are. Worse things have happened, I guess.
Jared: Annie, babe…I love you. We’ve been married for the 3 happiest years of my life. I proposed to you because I loved you. I married you because I loved you. And only you. Why would I throw all that away to be with someone else? I mean…I wouldn’t. I didn’t. I love you now, I love you forever, and I want you to know that without a doubt.
Annie: We should go. Let’s go.
Jared: Okay, let’s go.
Annie: Did you want to drive the first leg or-
Jared: Are you cheating on me?
Annie: I’m sorry?
Jared: Are you cheating on me?!
Jared: Oh really? You’re not? Really? You expect me to believe that?
Annie: Um…yes. What’s wrong with you?
Jared: What’s wrong with me? What the hell is wrong with you, asking me a fucking question like that out of the blue and then…doubting my answer? Daring to doubt my fucking answer when this entire time, I should be doubting everything that comes out of your goddamn mouth! Right? Shouldn’t I?
Annie: No…Jared…I don’t lie. I don’t cheat.
Jared: Oh, but you think that I do?
Annie: I said “Okay”, okay? What more do you want?
Jared: Yeah I know you said “okay” but you didn’t say “Jared, I love you, Jared, I believe you”, did you?
Annie: I said…
Jared: I know what you said! And I know what you’re not saying too.
Annie: What am I not saying?
Jared: It’s a four letter word, Annie. A four letter word that I’ve been saying to you without hesitation for years that I’ve heard uttered barely even once from you.
Jared: No, “Love” you crazy woman… tell me you love me. Tell me that. Say that word.
Annie: Why should I say that word?
Jared: See?! You can’t even say it out of context! You can’t even say the word “love” even by itself! How could I have ever thought you’d be capable of saying it as an emotion you actually feel towards me? How could I have been so stupid…
Annie: You’re not stupid.
Jared: Oh no? Yeah, I’m an idiot, Annie. A fucking idiot.
Annie: No, you’re not.
Jared: Oh, really? What do you think of me, Annie? Honestly.
Annie: I mean… well… honestly?
Jared: Yes, Annie, goddamit what do you honestly think of me?
Annie: I think you cheated on me.
Jared: (pauses and just stares at her. Not in disbelief, but in sheer realization. He’s frustrated, but not boiling anymore. Just breathing and figuring her out.) You really think that, huh? You asked me if I was cheating on you because you really thought I was cheating on you?
Annie: No. I told you. I only asked to ask but now I think it’s true based on your answer.
Jared: Then why aren’t you mad?
Annie: I’m sorry?
Jared: Yeah…why aren’t you fuming? You know most girls, most people actually, would be fuming at this point. They’d be just full of epic rage if they were to find out their significant other was just cheating on them. They’d be pissed and angry and hurt and confused and start hurtling dishes and calling the Jerry Springer people and throwing stuff out the windows and you know…being generally enraged. But you’re not enraged.
Annie: How do you know I’m not enraged?
Jared: (laughs. But not like real-laughter…more like that crazy frustrated maniacal laughter that you do when you don’t know what else to do in these types of situations.) How do I know you’re not enraged? Well I gave you a pretty detailed list of things people tend to do when they’re enraged and by my calculations, all you’ve done is sit there, and pack the car. You haven’t done a single rageful thing since you claim to have decided that I was cheating on you.
Annie: Rage comes in all kinds of forms.
Jared: Oh, does it?
Annie: Yes. Yes, it does.
Jared: You know what, Annie? I think you’re a sociopath. That’s what I think. I think you are a psychotic sociopath suffering some sort of mental break.
Annie: That’s what you think?
Jared: Yes, Annie, goddamit that’s what I fucking think! I think you’re crazy! But not like normal-girl-crazy-kind of crazy, but like actual serial-killing snake-charming batshit insane Jack Nicholson-kind of crazy.
Annie: You think I’m Jack Nicholson crazy?
Jared: Yeah. That sounds pretty accurate to me right now. Motherfucking Jack Nicholson crazy.
Annie: I’m not crazy, Jared.
Jared: (eyes widening, going to that loony overly fake-happy kind of place) Oh, really? You’re not?! Well, that’s just great. How silly of me to have somehow mistaken you for some sort of crazy person! I’m so glad that you are not, indeed, crazy! Thank you for being so direct and honest with me about the state of your mental health. I can’t even begin to describe the relief I’m feeling knowing that- based on your own word- you are not, in fact, crazy.
Annie: Are you being sarcastic?
Jared: Yes, Annie, goddamit I’m being fucking sarcastic because you’re fucking crazy and you know what else? I’m actually fuckin’ terrified of you right now! That’s right, fuckin’ terrified. I don’t even know what to say or…do…anymore. I mean, what do we do now? What the fuck?! Why the fuck did you start all this? Why did you do this, Annie, you crazy fucking bitch? What the actual fuck?!
Annie: You don’t want to go camping anymore, do you?
Jared: With you? Now? No, Annie, I really, really don’t. I’m afraid once we got to the woods you might stab me or something…
Annie: I wasn’t going to stab you.
Jared: Oh, that’s a relief.
Annie: Would you like some water? You look thirsty. (gets up to go get him a cup of water)
Jared: (as she’s getting and coming back with and handing him the water) I do? Really? I look thirsty? You’re really going to go get me some water because I look thirsty? (sarcastically) How very kind of you. (drinks). Ahh. Delicious. That water sure makes up for the most torturous wretched past ten minutes I’ve ever had in my life, thank you.
Annie: You really think they’ve been the most torturous and wretched past ten minutes you’ve ever had in your life?
Jared: (still drinking) Why, yes, Annie. That is what I believe.
Annie: Oh, okay.
Jared: (after another sip) What? Why? You think there’s worse yet to come?
(Annie just looks at him. They sit there in silence while Jared keeps drinking the water, occasionally looking at her then looking away. Her gaze never leaves him. She sits and stares at him as he drinks his water. When he finishes the glass and puts it down on the table, she finally smiles. He looks at her and sees her smile, and smiles back. He seems to think it’s over. He seems to think this stupid little fight they had is just a memory, soon to be laughed at, soon to be forgotten. It is then that he realizes he can’t move. He wiggles around in his seat as best he can, trying to move, to stand, but his body continues to disobey. His playful confusion is quickly replaced with a look of utter horror while Annie continues to stare and smile at him. His body begins twitching, shuddering, shaking, out of control, until he is having a full on seizure. His eyes roll back into his head, he foams at the mouth, and finally falls hard onto his side and continues to shake and seize in short bursts of energetic twitches that overtake his entire vessel. Annie continues to stare until finally the shaking and twitching subsides. His eyes remain wide open.)
Jared: (after a bit of a pause he blinks. He’s lying on his side on the couch, blinking slowly, still horrified at what just happened. Slowly, his eyes roll to the side, trying to get a glimpse of Annie, sitting to his right still)
Annie: Oh, good. You can hear me. Tell me, can you feel this? (She pinches him in the leg)
Jared: (winces in pain but only with his eyes. The rest of his body remains paralyzed)
Annie: (calmly, innocently, but intelligently. This monologue should be read very matter-of-fact but not robotic. There is emotion, but it’s been quelled. The rage is a quiet kind of intensity, the hostility entirely palpable, but not loud. It’s obvious, but not obnoxious. This monologue should be cool, calm, and collected)
I’ll take that as a yes. You know, Jared, I never did suspect you of cheating on me. Never. Not once. You were that good. I didn’t suspect you were even capable of it while we were dating, or getting married, or going on our honeymoon, or when we moved in together, or during the entire three years of our marriage. I never suspected for one single minute of our relationship that you might ever be cheating on me. It was only when I went to your office to surprise you last Wednesday and opened the door to find you fucking the ever-living shit out of that suicide-girl bartender from Exit Only that I even conceived the possibility that you were actually capable of cheating on me. I saw your ass flexing as you were ramming her from behind, bent over your desk all sweaty and huffing, you grabbing her little round boobs and twisting her pointy little nipples while those ridiculous flower tattoos of hers bounced up and down and up and down and you smashed your face into her red and purple and black hair, biting her ear and swearing and fucking and forgetting all about your marriage to me. And this camping trip. I’ll bet in that moment you had forgotten all about this trip. And I’ve been planning it for weeks… Did you know you have to reserve your space in the woods at Evergreen Park for the weekend? Yeah. You can’t just show up there and just set up a tent and just camp. You have to call to make reservations to camp there…because it’s really nice. And there aren’t any bears there. Or wild animals, really. I mean, not harmful ones. Just the cute cuddly kind that you take pictures of to show your friends. Not the scary kind that rip your tent apart in the middle of the night and tear you to shreds. Limb from limb. Appendage from cheating appendage. Which made this weekend’s trip really un-ideal. But I am glad you drank that water. That turbine, actually. You see there’s this poison out there that paralyzes the body but doesn’t cut off the senses. You can feel everything but you can’t move. It’s pretty cool. (pauses)
Have you ever seen the movie Teeth? It’s just that one scene that gets me every time… the one at the end, when her vagina castrates her step brother and then the dog comes by and leaves with his dick and ballsack. I feel almost bad for the guy, but then I don’t anymore because he’s an asshole. Well, as you are aware, I do not have teeth in my vagina. I do, however, have a knife in the kitchen. I’m gonna chop off your penis, Jared. And I’m going to send it to Exit Only with that suicide girl’s name on it. Jen. I know her name is Jen because I heard you screaming it. I heard you scream it while you were fucking her in your office while I was busy planning our romantic weekend getaway. That’s why I asked you that simple question before we left, you see. I just wanted to hear what you had to say. Just wanted to hear it come from your mouth. But you didn’t give in. I still would’ve offered you the water, had you given in. And I still would’ve poisoned you. You were right, Jared. It is very possible that I am crazy. Jack Nicholson crazy. I mean, if you’re gonna commit to being crazy, is there really a better role model than Mr. Nicholson? Well, anyway…I’m glad we had this talk. And I’m sorry it has to end this way. I’m going to the kitchen now to grab that chopping knife that I never had any intentions of stabbing you with until Wednesday. It’s a shame you weren’t born a masochist. If you thought the last ten minutes were bad… well… you have no idea.
© Copyright 2017 Ariel Julie. All rights reserved.
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