Monroe Secrets

C. Scott Ananian

February 19, 1998

A seedy motel, in a universe out of control. Cactus in the corner of room number 10. IAN, twenty-something years old, sits on the bed, waiting.

STEEL and MONROE arrive. STEEL has a labeling/stamping gizmo used to claim network wiring rights. He stamps the motel room door before he enters, but stops short upon seeing IAN. Would continue stamping, to claim this property as his, but IAN reveals his own stamp underneath an oil painting at the head of the bed. Prior claim. STEEL compulsively stamps all the smaller items in room nonetheless, even though IAN points out that the network connection would have to come through the previously-claimed wall. Tension.

STEEL is proud of a recently-completed trans-continental cable deal. IAN claims he is the anonymous seller. STEEL can't understand why IAN would sell: ``There's more important things than cable, Steel.'' (Only STEEL can control the environment.)

IAN and STEEL almost come to blows, desperately walking the fence for the attentions of MONROE. She denies the conflict, tunes out more the louder they get. Finally STEEL decides that the current situation is unworkable, and storms off to the front desk to get another room. IAN and MONROE are alone.

IAN talks about disappointment and his dream of becoming an artist. He admits that their meeting here was not chance. MONROE: ``I didn't think it would be. Not you.''

IAN tries desperately to connect with MONROE. Why did she come here? Why did she agree to meet. ``I don't know.'' He asks about STEEL: where did they meet. Does she love him? ``I don't know how, anymore.'' MONROE tells the story of a heart closed to love.

The environment goes mad. IAN is confronted with his own helplessness. What does MONROE want, he asks? She blurts out, ``love.'' IAN is thoughtful.

A change of topic. IAN speaks of his dream to create a sculpture of all the miles of cabling he has laid. Circles back, returns to the topic of relationship. Shys away. Defuses the tension with a story, with clothes. He borrows MONROE's jacket. Dances with the cactus. She contributes her glasses; IAN sees Monroe's eyes for the first time. MONROE nervously replaces her glasses on her face. IAN speaks of the gay caller.

An awkward pause. What's taking STEEL so long?

MONROE confesses her dream. She doesn't dare chase it, though. IAN complains that he's stamped hundreds of thousands of walls but hasn't made his mark on a single thing. A close silence.

MONROE tells about her eyelashes. Everything she is, is in the lash. Fanciful story about a pirate captain named Rif. Make a wish.

IAN leans close, seems about to say something. Does not; hugs her instead. The moment he touches her a siren goes off. The TV blares an announcement. A report of fighting. Someone will be sent to investigate. The couple sit frozen. Not touching.

A timid knock on the door, and ABIGAIL enters. She seems disappointed to see only IAN and MONROE in the room. (She was hoping for STEEL.) She explains that they told her that there was fighting. ``Doesn't look like any fighting to me.'' Is hesitant to leave. MONROE invites her to sit down. ``What's the matter, hon?''

ABIGAIL's man has left her. She feels worthless. Everything she's tried to do she has failed at, recently. Just can't do things right. No wonder he left.

ABIGAIL doesn't understand the new technology. She lashes out at IAN as sign of her oppression. Destroys the TV. Scribbles over the stamps of possession. Hits IAN. He is crushed. He doesn't know what to do or say.

ABIGAIL quiets down after a while. ``I don't want to cry. I don't want to.'' No more secrets. MONROE tells her a story. IAN is torn apart, but doesn't know what to do. (Perhaps IAN knows who ABIGAIL's man is, but doesn't say.) ABIGAIL cries over the failings of her boyfriend. ``He never could...''. MONROE comforts her. Purple hippopotami and camels eating pasta.

STEEL returns. It is revealed that STEEL is ABIGAIL's boyfriend/lover. IAN: ``I knew, Abby. I knew.'' MONROE goes back into her shell.

STEEL is very loud. Breaks the tender mood. Coarse jokes. Controls the room. Walls come alive in surprising ways. Says things have been settled, there's nothing else to do her. ``Come along, Monroe.'' Night is falling. MONROE: ``I thought we might go for a swim...'' STEEL: ``The water's toxic.'' Cold shoulders between STEEL and ABIGAIL. IAN holds ABIGAIL, gently. MONROE doesn't really want to leave, but STEEL is insistent. IAN must say one thing before she goes:

I love you.
[A long and awkward pause]
I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that.
I gave you your chance, Ian. You happy?
You've been saying that all evening.
I have.
Is it true?

STEEL uses word association to prove MONROE doesn't love IAN. MONROE replies wittily, hiding her emotions: Love gets snake, marraige gets trapped, men get dogs. STEEL mentions a word from one of MONROE's earlier, beautiful stories. She gives a flippant answer without a thought.

STEEL: ``We have to go. Come on.'' and leaves. ABIGAIL follows him--she'll follow STEEL forever. MONROE lingers for a moment. ``I don't love him.'' Silence. ``I couldn't hurt him.'' IAN: ``Is this what you want to do?'' MONROE does not answer. She pulls out an eyelash: ``Make a wish'' as she leaves. He looks after her. Make a wish. Looks down - and the eyelash is gone. Sinks to his knees.

Music begins. A waltz. Of its own accord. IAN cannot control it. He goes to the cactus and begins to waltz, holding it tighter and tighter as the thorns dig into his flesh.