SHADOW ON THE MOON

 

                               

 

                                                                                                                                          A One-Act Play

   

                                                                                                                                                   by

 

                                                                                                                                             Dean Barrett         

                                                                           

                                                                                                                     

   

SHADOW ON THE MOON is a two-character play set in a New York singles bar.  TRAVIS PARKER is mid to late thirties, not bad-looking, lower-middle class.  An unemployed photographer from the Bronx.  HE is a man who worked hard and studied on his own to be able to pass muster in a college educated, middle-class world.  However, his lower-middle class Bronx origins often come through in his vocabulary, point of view and manner of speaking. 

 

The woman in the play, LINDA MARTIN, is in education and manners and confidence well above TRAVIS.  However, SHE does not have the experience TRAVIS has.  Although HE irritates her, he has a kind of unusual charm, not unlike Robert Di Niro in the film "Taxi Driver," and LINDA cannot prevent herself from being fascinated by him.

 

At rise, TRAVIS is using the telephone near the counter.  HE occasionally takes a drink from a glass.  HE places a quarter in the phone and dials a number.  HE speaks to (invisible) customers in the bar.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Hey, could you keep it down just a bit?  I'm on the phone here...Yeah, I know it's a bar...No, loud mouth, I don't own the bar, but...oh, man, you are a real moron! (suddenly to phone) Oh, hi, Karen, it's Travis Parker here.  No, no, just somebody in the bar.  So, how ya doing?..No, I waited for you in the restaurant for nearly an hour but then the hostess said you had called and said you couldn't make it...Audition?..No, no, I understand.  That's show business.  If you couldn't make it, you couldn't make it.  I hope you get the part.  But I have to tell you I was really disappointed in not seeing you.  I mean, as soon as I heard you weren't coming I decided to commit seppuku...Seppuku!  It's Japanese ritual suicide...Well, the butter knife wasn't sharp enough...The butter knife...Yes, I suppose I could have asked for a steak knife, but I wasn't eating steak.  Anyway, I saw they had a special on Waldorf Salad for five-ninety-five so I decided to skip the dramatics and just have lunch after all... Well, hey, just because I'm not dead doesn't mean I wasn't disappointed....So, what about next Friday?..Your cat is sick?..Oh, you think he's acting funny and he most likely will be sick by next Friday...Sure, sure, I understand; you better stay close to home just in case...Well, maybe I could call you in the future... Halley's Comet?  Hello...Hello?

 

(TRAVIS fishes in his jacket pocket and

places another quarter in the phone

                       and dials a number)

                                                        

                                                                         TRAVIS

(cont)

Could you keep it down, guys?..Yeah, yeah, you are so funny...(to phone)  Hi, Janet.  How ya doing?  It's Travis Parker... What?..You told me never to call you again?  When was this?..I insinuated you were a lesbian?  Janet, that's crazy.  First of all I don't think you're a lesbian and secondly I get along fine with lesbians:  they like women and I like women.  Great minds run in the same channel, you know?..No, you don't have to call the police.  I mean, if you don't want me to call you, I'll- Hello?

 

(TRAVIS fishes in his jacket pocket and

places another quarter in the phone

                       and dials a number)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

(cont)

Hi, Joyce, it's Travis Parker.  How ya- hello?  Hello?!

 

(TRAVIS fishes in his jacket pocket

attempting to find another quarter)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

(cont)

Hey, guys, you got change of a dollar?..You are such a riot, man.

 

(TRAVIS suddenly notices a very good-

looking young woman walk into the

bar and sit at the end of the counter

away from TRAVIS.  HE quickly hangs up

the phone, smooths down his hair,

straightens his tie and, with his

drink in hand, walks to a spot about

two stools from her.  HE lights a

cigarette and leans with his back

against the bar)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Hi.  How ya doin'?

 

(The woman, LINDA MARTIN, gives him

a quick glance but does not speak)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

(cont)

Can I buy you a drink?                                                      

  

                                                                        LINDA

(very icy)

I buy my own drinks, thank you.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Really?!  So do I!  Wow, what a coincidence!  I'll bet we have a lot in common.

 

(SHE gives him a look)

 

                                                                        LINDA

Are you all right?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Me?  Yeah, I'm fine; how you doin?

 

                                                                        LINDA

(to bartender)

Bartender...Bartender!  Old Granddad on the Rocks, please.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Wow!  You see what I mean?  That's my second favorite drink!  Wild Turkey is my favorite!

 

                                                                        LINDA

Birds of a feather flock together.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

I mean, Wild Turkey takes the edge off things the fastest, you know what I mean?..Anyway, I'm Travis Parker and, as you might have noticed, I was just on the phone when you came in.  Well, the guy you're waiting for just called and said he couldn't make it tonight and asked if I'd be good enough to keep you company for the rest of the evening and I said I would.

 

                                                                        LINDA

Nice try, Travis, but the person I'm waiting for happens to be a 'she'.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Oh...Well, the last time I saw her, 'she' was a 'he'...But this being New York, all things are possible, I guess.  So I'm Travis and your name is...

 

                                                                        LINDA

Look, I don't mean to be rude but why is it every time a woman wants to have a quiet drink in a bar, every man thinks she wants to be picked up?

                                                           

                                                                         TRAVIS

...That's the longest, strangest name I've ever heard...Oh, I see.  You're in the Witness Protection Program and can't give out you name.  OK.  But, to answer your question, I think it's because some women do come to bars to be picked up and some women don't come to bars to be picked up.  And some women sometimes come to bars to be picked up and sometimes don't come to bars to be picked up.  Depending on their moods, you know what I mean?  And since women refuse to wear some kind of badge or symbol or sticker telling guys what the hell they want or don't want there is naturally bound to be some misunderstandings.  But that doesn't mean I'm a rude person or a jerk.

 

                                                                        LINDA

It doesn't?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

No.  It just means I guessed wrong.  I mean, I never said I was a mind-reader, right?

 

                                                                        LINDA

And I suppose some men come to bars to pick up women and some men don't. 

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

I don't know about other men. 

 

                                                                        LINDA

 But it's clear which category of man you're in, right?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

That much is clear.  The question is which category of woman are you in?

 

                                                                        LINDA

Look!  If you must know, I just split up with my boyfriend and I have a great deal of anger inside me and I'm not going to waste it on someone I don't even know! 

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

But that's just it!  If you get to know me then you can vent your anger on me without wasting it because I'll no longer be someone you don't know!

 

                                                                        LINDA

(to bartender)

Yes, he is bothering me, but I am perfectly capable of dealing with a situation without having to rely on some big, strong bartender to protect me!  So could you leave me alone?                                                      

  

(TRAVIS speaks to the bartender as

the bartender walks away)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Yeah, this lady has got a lot of anger inside her and she's not about to waste it on the likes of you!

 

(TRAVIS chortles)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

(cont)

I guess we told him!  Anyway, I hate musclebound bartenders.  The really great bartenders are the ones with a paunch, you know what I mean?  Those guys know their drinks, they listen politely to drunkards, they take care of you, you know?  But these musclebound jerks are usually ex-bouncers who moved up a notch and there's nothing they love better than throwing a guy out.  It makes them feel big, you know?  Take it from me, the greater the paunch the better the bartender.

 

                                                                        LINDA

All right, Travis, I'll take it from you.

 

(TRAVIS watches an invisible man hit

on LINDA.  LINDA turns toward the man

also)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Hey, do you mind?!  This lady and I are having a conversation here...(standing) Yeah, well, I might or might not be old enough to be her father but I am in fact her family friend and she just lost her real father and second cousin in a car accident and her old granddad is at this very moment hovering between life and death in intensive care (LINDA glances at her Old Granddad in the glass she's holding) and she's not in the mood to be hustled by some turkey in a bar...Well, you sure as hell should be sorry...The nerve of some people!

 

(After the invisible man moves away)

 

                                                                        LINDA

Very good, but my father died last year.

 

                                                           TRAVIS (again seated)

Oh, hey, I'm sorry to hear that, um, what was your name again?

 

                                                                        LINDA

My name is Linda but I really don't think-

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Linda!

 

                                                            

                                                                        LINDA

What?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

No, no, I was just saying your name.  It's so pretty.  I mean its very straight-forward but very feminine at the same time, you know? I mean, if you were a Natasha or an Ilsa or a Monique, I mean, I'd think you might be a different kind of person, you know?  I'm not sayin' better, I'm not sayin' worse, just different.  Or let's say you were named Ann or May or something.

 

                                                                        LINDA

What's wrong with Ann or May?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

I'm not sayin' nothin's wrong with them, it's just that they're so short, you're just getting started to pronounce them when they're already over.  But your name: Lin...dah.  You see, it's really beautiful and poetic without being pretentious or calling attention to itself.

 

                                                                        LINDA

Which names call attention to themselves?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Well...Ann-Margaret or Marilyn or Peggy-sue or Mary-lou.  That kind of name.  But yours?  It's perfect!

 

                                                               LINDA (not angry)

Thank you, Travis, but my mother's name happens to be Marilyn.

 

                                                                TRAVIS (smiling)

I sure do know how to say the wrong thing, don't I?

 

                                                                        LINDA

I'd say you may have a rare gift.

 

(While LINDA turns away, checking her

watch and still looking for her friend,

TRAVIS takes a drink and speaks to

reclaim her attention)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Isn't it amazing?!  (LINDA turns to face him)  Something like four thousand million years ago our ancestors were bacterial cells in the crevices of rocks.  Bacterial cells!  And here we are, four thousand million years later ensconced in our favorite bar, having some smooth Southern bourbon and indulging in pleasant conversation.  From crevices in the rocks to bourbon on the rocks!  Man, if our ancestors could see us now!

 

(SHE gives him a long look)

 

                                                                        LINDA

Travis, don't you have a girlfriend?                                                           

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Me?  Well, yeah, I had one that was crazy about me.  But when I saw you walk in I told her it was over between us.  She cried her eyes out but, hey, that's show business.

 

                                                                        LINDA

Seriously, it shouldn't be that hard for you to attract a woman.

You're not bad looking.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Well, I'm sure it's easy for you, Linda.  You're a beautiful woman.  Drop-dead beautiful.  You can get guys anytime.  And it's easy for a guy if he goes through life looking like Clark Gable:  Drop-dead handsome.  Me?  You know how I go through life, Linda?  I go through life drop-dead not-bad-looking.  I'm not complaining, understand, I'm just sayin' I know what's what.  (reflecting) Although, I remember there was a time back in '85 I think it was; in the fall; I was actually handsome!  It only lasted for a few weeks.  Then I was back to drop-dead not-bad-looking.  I know this sounds crazy but I think there was some kind of special atmospheric condition or something, you know? I actually think I saw a shadow on the moon.

 

                                                                        LINDA

A shadow on the moon?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Yeah.  Just for a few weeks.  And while it was there I became handsome and women came up to me; I mean, they hit on me!  I could be on assignment or just walking down the street!  Man, it was unbelievable!  Then, one night, the shadow was gone and (snaps his fingers) it was back to normal.

 

                                                                        LINDA

On assignment?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Oh.  I'm a photographer.  Well, I was a photographer but I lost my job.

 

                                                                        LINDA

Forgot to take your lens cap off?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Nah, nothing like that. Bloomingdales sent me to China to do some photography; they wanted to give their Spring Collection a background with a China theme so they sent me up to photograph the Great Wall. They needed one perfect photograph to be enlarged enormously for their display. 

 

                                                                        LINDA

Overexposed?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

(playfully covering his lap)

Nooo.  My photographs were beautiful.  Perfect!  But...                                                           

 

(HE looks about to make certain HE won't

be overheard, then pulls his stool closer

to hers)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

(cont) (confidentially)

I photographed the wrong wall.

 

                                                                        LINDA

The wrong wall?!

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Shhhh!  Yeah.  You know, I hadn't actually ever seen a picture of the Great Wall before and to most photographers who grew up in the Bronx one wall looks pretty much like another.  So when I went north of Peking I simply photographed the first large wall I came upon. Actually, Linda, it wasn't a bad wall as walls go:  no ball playing marks or graffiti and it had its own character.  It just wasn't the Great Wall.  So, wouldn't you know, some officious clerk at Bloomingdales noticed my mistake.

 

(LINDA waves to the bartender for a

refill, then looks TRAVIS over)

 

                                                                        LINDA

You know, Travis, I can't figure you out: you're either a very clever guy with a unique line or else you're genuine but a little off.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Linda, I can assure you I am a very genuine guy but, if I may, I think I can help you figure me out; 'cause it's nothing complicated or anything like that.

 

                                                                        LINDA

By all means.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

You see, Linda, what it is, is that every twenty-six million years the earth is battered by comets and, the thing is, we are at present half way to the next battering.  So I'm not tryin' to panic you or nothin' but in just thirteen million years dozens of comets will score bullseyes on the earth throwing dust into the atmosphere, blocking out the sun's rays and destroying all life.  So, the way I see it is, we should live, drink and be merry today because tomorrow we get the shit kicked out of us by dozens of unscrupulous comets with no respect for life whatsoever.  And then where are we?  Linda, I'll tell you where we are: We're right back to being bacterial cells in the crevices of rocks again!  No singles bars, no smooth bourbon, no pleasant conversation.  Uhhh?  Now I think you can understand my thinkin' here.  Everybody thinks they got all the time in the world but if they knew more about...about the way things are, they'd realize that whatever they want to do they had damn well better do now!  Now, Linda, am I right or am I right?  I mean, is my thinking making more sense to you now maybe?                                                           

  

                                                                        LINDA

I don't think I ever met a man like you, Travis. 

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Time, Linda.  It's important.  I mean, you take the way we've added "miz" to our vocabulary.

 

                                                                        LINDA

You're saying men should know if a woman is married but not the other way around?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

No, no.  I'm saying, single people want to know more about each other, not less!  Why didn't we do it the other way around?  Truth be told, a lot of women would like to know if a man is married or not.  And why shouldn't they? 

 

                                                                        LINDA

I'm not sure I'm following you.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

OK!  For example, let's say a guy is not married, then he could be introduced as 'mister;' and let's say he's also looking for a relationship, so he could be called mister/meister; and let's say he's in the market for a long-term relationship; so that might be 'meester.'  So, for example, I would introduce myself as 'mister/meister/meester Parker'.  In other words, people should know more about each other when they're introduced, not less!  It might save embarrassment and speed things up.

 

                                                                        LINDA

Travis, that's...that's not bad.  So, if I'm not married, I'm a 'miss,' and if I'm also looking for a relationship, let's say 'miz,' and if I'm also interested in a long-term relationship, I might be...'mitten'.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Perfect!

 

(TRAVIS gets up, walks a few steps away,

turns his back to her, tucks in his shirt,

straightens up, and walks back to LINDA. 

HE holds out his hand)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

(cont)

Hi, I'm mister/meister/meester Parker.

 

                                                                        LINDA

(standing and taking his hand)

Mister/meister/meester Parker, I'm so pleased to meet you.  I'm miss/miz/mitten Martin.

 

(THEY both smile and again sit down)                                                            

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Right!  And that way we know more about each other in a few seconds than most people know after half an hour of conversation.  And we can avoid wasting time on someone who might be only into short-term relationships.

 

                                                                        LINDA

You're a funny guy, Travis.  You can make me laugh.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

I'm glad you think so, Linda.  You looked a little down when I first saw you tonight.

 

                                                                        LINDA

I was, actually.  I was thinking about my father.  I dreamt about him last night and when I woke all the memories were coming back. Especially when I was young.

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Oh, yeah, there's a lot of that stuff goin' on these days.

 

                                                                        LINDA

Stuff?  What stuff?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

You know.  Fathers molesting their own daughters.  Thank God people refuse to take that kind of-

 

                                                                LINDA (standing)

What the hell are you talking about?!  My father was a wonderful man!  He had to work three jobs when I growing up.  He sacrificed everything for me!  (starting to cry)  How dare you suggest something like that!

 

                                                               TRAVIS (standing)

Oh, Jesus.  I'm sorry.  I thought you meant...Oh, hey, look, I'm sorry. I told you I always say the wrong thing.

 

(LINDA blows her nose and wipes her tears)

 

                                                                        LINDA

I won't listen to that kind of talk about my father.  You are a jerk! Now leave me alone!

 

(As TRAVIS speaks, LINDA becomes

attentive)

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

OK.  You're right: I am a jerk.  And I'm a jerk who's tried all the tricks he's got in the bag.  I been crawlin' on broken glass, juggling balls in the air, acting the clown.  I'm all out of tricks.  No smoke, no mirrors.  I only got me left and I know no woman wants that.  I'm genuinely sorry I bothered you, Linda, I should have known I wasn't in your league.  I hope you'll forgive me and I wish you the very best of luck.

                                           

   

(As TRAVIS walks past her, LINDA rises

and speaks to him)

 

                                                                        LINDA

Hey!  Travis!..Do you see what I see out that window?

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

Where?

 

                                                                        LINDA

Up there; in the sky. 

 

                                                                       TRAVIS

I don't see anything.

 

                                                                        LINDA

Oh, Travis, you really are a jerk! 

 

(SHE stands beside him and points)

 

                                                                        LINDA

(cont)

Can't you see there's a shadow on the moon?

 

(As TRAVIS smiles in understanding,

LINDA kisses him on the cheek.  THEY

look up at the moon)

 

 

  

 

                                                                   BLACKOUT

 

 

 

                                                                 END OF PLAY

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2014 Dean Barrett

No part of this play may be performed or published without written permission from the playwright