Spirit of the Elder

 

While I was watching an Elvis Presley movie last night, I suddenly remembered that I had written a play years ago called Spirit of the Elder and that Mr. Presley was one of the characters in the first scene. I had to search for it on my laptop and finally found it archived in a folder with my other early writings. Because I will be starting an editing project later today that will last until early next week, I thought I would post this now.

Lucy Jennings is a 17-year old girl who is in a “delicate situation.” Her mother wants to send her away, but her “progressive” grandmother insists Lucy should make her own decisions. Lucy wants to talk to her father, a writer who lives in Greenwich Village, but she is bit angry with him for leaving her. Her own writings reflect her anguish, and it takes a sobering series of events for her to finally forgive her father and understand her mother.

Time

1958.

ACT I

Scene 1

SETTING:                    

We see LUCY JENNING’s bedroom. A bed is located near stage left and a small dresser is against the far wall.

AT RISE:                       

LUCY JENNINGS is asleep on her back on the bed. Surrounding the bed is ELVIS PRESLEY, HOWDY DOODY, and a YOUNG MAN.

                             HOWDY DOODY
Look at that sweet face. So peaceful.

                             ELVIS
Too bad her waking moments aren’t as serene.

                             YOUNG MAN
Wow! I can’t believe I’m here. This is my first one, you know.

                             ELVIS
                        (to YOUNG MAN)
You’re new. I know who he is
                        (points to HOWDY DOODY)
Who are you?

                             YOUNG MAN
I’m the ticket taker at the movie theater. She was there tonight. We talked about the heat wave and how cool it was inside and our new air conditioning.

                            HOWDY DOODY
That must be why he’s here.

                             ELVIS
                        (to HOWDY DOODY)  
Of course that’s why he’s here, eight ball. And what’s up with your size. You’re as big as a real person. Shouldn’t you be like the size of a small dog? And where are all those strings—I mean—that’s how you get around. You’re kind of freaking me out, you fence post!

                             HOWDY DOODY
Do I have to listen to the name calling again? You know the rules. I appear as she wants me to. As I recall, the last time you and I were together–

                             ELVIS
–should have been our last. That poor little boy! You probably scarred him for life.

                             HOWDY DOODY
You’re still sore because Miss West went for me instead of you.

                             ELVIS
Watch it, timberbrain, or I’ll turn you into sawdust.

                             HOWDY DOODY
At least give the new kid a break. You were a tenderfoot once yourself.

                             YOUNG MAN
Do…Do we just sit here? I mean, do we ever talk with…her? Will she talk to us?

                             HOWDY DOODY
We have to wait until she gets into her alpha sleep. You know, that really deep sleep.

                             ELVIS
Moonlighting as a psychoanalyst, plankass?

                             HOWDY DOODY
I’ve been in enough of these to know, that’s all. Please, can’t we all just get along?

                             YOUNG MAN
                        (to ELVIS)
I have all of your records.

                             ELVIS
That can’t be very many. I only started recording a few years ago.

                             YOUNG MAN
I saw you in “Love Me Tender.” My girlfriend thought you were cool! Oh! And I did, too.

                             ELVIS
Well, maybe your girlfriend will come along for the ride tonight.

                             YOUNG MAN
She’s never met my girlfriend.

                             HOWDY DOODY
Did you talk about her?

                             YOUNG MAN
Nope.

                             ELVIS
                        (looks at watch)
Well, this shindig better get hopping soon. My patience is wearing thin.

                             YOUNG MAN
                        (to HOWDY DOODY)
Why are you here?

                             HOWDY DOODY
She used to watch me on television all the time. Didn’t you ever watch me?

                             YOUNG MAN
Naw. My friends and I thought you were baby stuff. But you are kind of big. I just hope I don’t have a nightmare later.

                             ELVIS
Kid, you and me both.

                             HOWDY DOODY
Well, I wish I could be this tall all the time. I’d kick Buffalo Bob’s butt once and for all. I was the star.

                             ELVIS
The star dummy, you mean.

                             HOWDY DOODY
Shhh. Someone’s coming.

                             ELVIS
Maybe it’s Paul Bunyan.

                             HOWDY DOODY
Ha! Ha! Very funny. I hope its Charlie McCarthy. He was my mentor, you know.

                             ELVIS
                        (incredulous)
Your what? How can–

                           ELVIS and HOWDY DOODY and YOUNG MAN
                           stare offstage.

                             YOUNG MAN
–Oh…my…God.

                             ELVIS
Ditto, kid.
                             A WOMAN enters.

                             HOWDY DOODY
How do you do?

                             MARILYN MONROE
I do just fine. And you?

                             HOWDY DOODY
I can’t complain. At least, not any more.

                             ELVIS
Easy, slats.

                             YOUNG MAN
I know why you’re here!

                             MARILYN MONROE
You’re very perceptive, young man.

                             ELVIS
Just why are you here, ma’am?

                             YOUNG MAN
The movie tonight was The Seven Year Itch. Lucy saw it.

                             ELVIS
I was talking to the lady.

                             MARILYN MONROE
Poor girl. She goes to the movies at night so no one will suspect.

                             HOWDY DOODY
This is my very first time with you, ma’am.

                        MARILYN MONROE
                   (to ELVIS)
I know who you are…
                   (to HOWDY DOODY)
…but, you’re a little…peculiar. Who are you?

                             ELVIS
Better question is, what are you? 

                             MARILYN MONROE
Please don’t be mean. We’re all going to be here a while.

                             ELVIS
Sorry, ma’am.

                             MARILYN MONROE
                        (to ELVIS)
Promise you’ll behave.

                             ELVIS
I promise, ma’am.

                             HOWDY DOODY
I’m a puppet. You know, a marionette.

                             MARILYN MONROE
What do you do?

                             HOWDY DOODY
Well…I star in my own television show with a flamboyant cowboy and a silly-looking clown. I’m a national icon.

                             ELVIS
We all are, pulpbrain.

                             YOUNG MAN
                        (sadly)
I’m not.

                             MARILYN MONROE
Well, anyway, I think you’re very cute.

                             YOUNG MAN
Thank you…Shh!! I think she’s coming around.

                             LUCY JENNINGS stirs.

                             YOUNG MAN
Hi…

                             ELVIS
Shh!

                             LUCY
Not another one.

                             MARILYN MONROE
You’ve had others, haven’t you? Recently, I mean?

                             LUCY
Yeah. What a strange mix I’ve conjured up tonight. But this group is nothing like last week.

                             HOWDY DOODY
Who attended, may I ask?

                             LUCY
Let’s see. Rock Hudson…

                             MARILYN MONROE
Oooh!

                             ELVIS
                        (to MARILYN MONROE)
I’d watch him if I were you, ma’am.

                             LUCY
Lassie…

                             ELVIS
That dog can’t even talk!

                             LUCY
She did the other night…to…Vice President Nixon.

                             MARILYN and ELVIS and YOUNG MAN
Oh, no!!

                             ELVIS
I’m sure Mr. Nixon and Lassie had plenty to talk about.

                             HOWDY DOODY
If your fans knew what a smart mouth you have…

                             YOUNG MAN
I know I’m new here, but aren’t we supposed to focus our attention on her?

                             MARILYN MONROE
You’re right. Lucy Jennings, we’re here for you. We’ll try to help you in any way we can.                       

                             HOWDY DOODY
We know the basics.

                             ELVIS
Maybe you should tell us how you feel. And…we’ll listen. Maybe our resident wooden head will surprise us and offer some usable advice.

                             MARILYN MONROE
You promised!

                             ELVIS
I apologize, ma’am.

                             YOUNG MAN
Go ahead, Lucy.

                             LUCY
I guess I’m pretty confused right now. I’ve done something that most people think is immoral. But I don’t consider myself an immoral person. My mother wants me to go away.

                             MARILYN MONROE
Excuse me, Lucy. What do you want to do?

                             LUCY
Part of me wants to leave. But not because my mother wants me to. If I left, maybe I wouldn’t hate everyone here so much. Everyone with their perfect lives.

                             ELVIS
What about your grandmother? Wouldn’t you miss her?

                             LUCY
Of course I would. I love her more than anything. She’s the only one who cares about me in spite of what I’ve done. But why shouldn’t she? I’m not a different person. I’m still Lucy Jennings.

                             YOUNG MAN
Maybe you could stay with her.

                             LUCY
And have her treated like she was some kind of disease?

                             HOWDY DOODY
It seems to me you don’t have to decide tonight. Mull over your options. Try to stay rational. Think things through. Investigate all avenues.

                             ELVIS
Kind of repetitive, aren’t you? I think we all get the general idea.

                             LUCY
You’re right, of course. That’s exactly what I’ll do.

                             LUCY yawns and lies down.

                             Everyone starts to exit.

                             MARILYN MONROE
                        (to HOWDY DOODY)
Well, seems you’re the winner tonight.

                             ELVIS
The Colonel’s gonna get a kick out of this one. The one without a brain is the first one past the post.

                             HOWDY DOODY
Well, if I’m so dull-witted, why didn’t you win?

                             ELVIS
 You have no wits to be dull. You are wit-less.

                             MARILYN MONROE
Can you please keep it down? I’ve got a headache.

                             YOUNG MAN
                        (to MARILYN MONROE)

I think you’re the most beautiful woman in the world.

                             MARILYN MONROE
Really? What a sweet thing to say. You know what?

                             YOUNG MAN
What?

                             MARILYN MONROE
You’re pretty cute, yourself.

(BLACKOUT)

(END SCENE)

Feature Image of honeysuckle by Steve Bidmead from Pixabay.

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen Jae. All rights reserved.

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