Saturday, October 7, 2017
Lucy in Retirement
A retirement home in Danfield, NY. 1980.
Chris Carmichael is sitting in the dayroom. She is a stylish woman in her early 40s, dressed in chic French couture. Her mother, Lucy Carmichael, now in her 80s, in wheeled in by a nurse.
Nurse: Here we are, Mrs. Carmichael. You have a visitor.
Lucy (waking up): What? Who is it?
Chris: Hi mom, it's me, Chris, your daughter. (Nurse leaves)
Lucy: What? Who? I have a daughter?
Chris: Yes, remember I had a brother Jerry and we shared the house with Aunt Viv and her boy Sherman after our dad died.
Lucy: Oh, yes, it's all coming back now. Chris, sweetheart.
Chris: Good. Mom, I know I haven't seen you in many years, but there's something I've been meaning to ask you. Why did you just abandon me and Jerry when you moved to California?
Lucy: What are you talking about? I didn't abandon you.
Chris: Yes, you did. I remember you said you wanted to be close to me when I enrolled in college out there, but I never saw you.
Lucy: Chris, that's an awful thing to say.
Chris: It's the truth, mother. After you took Jerry to Sea World, and then dropped him off at military school, he told me you never saw him either.
Lucy: Well, I was busy. I had to earn a living. Your father's trust fund didn't go very far and that tightwad Mooney paid me an awful salary.
Chris: I remember you had plenty of time to chase after movie stars and try and get dates.
Lucy: Chris, I'm sorry. I had to do something. I was awfully lonely. Your dad had had been dead so long I couldn't even remember his name. Your Aunt Viv only came out here a coupla times. You know we met Joan Crawford together. And then Jerry died in Vietnam.
Chris: It broke my heart when you lost his body on the plane from Washington.
Lucy: What was I supposed to do? All those caskets looked alike. It could happen to anybody.
Chris: No, mom, that could only happen to you. You used to be such a devoted mother. Chaperoning our parties, coaching Jerry's Little League and football, sneaking into camp to be close to us. Then it all stopped when we grew up--
Lucy: You had your own life, besides kids are funnier than grown-ups.
Chris: I didn't know I was material for a comedy show. (Pause) It shouldn't have surprised you I dropped out and joined a hippie commune, had an abortion, became a drug addict, lived in Paris for ten years as a prostitute--
Lucy (covering her ears): Stop! Please! I just want everything to be nice and funny. Do you realize I can't even go to the bathroom by myself?
Chris: I'm sorry.
Lucy: Honey, after that nice Mr. Nixon let us all down and Mr. Mooney's bank went into receivership and he committed suicide, I didn't know what to do. The trust fund dried up. I moved in with your Aunt Viv back here in Danfield, but her new husband didn't like me. I never did find out his name. After two months of kindly trying to make him rich and helping out around the house, he said, "Either she goes or I do." It wasn't my fault the place burned down. Viv told me "I'm not going through with another divorce, bye-bye, Lucy." So I was living in a shelter for a while, eating catfood. Now here I am.
Chris: Couldn't anybody help you? What about your friend the Countess?
Lucy: She's in the next room (The Countess Frambois is rolled in by another nurse) Hi, Rosie.
Countess: What? Who's calling me nosy?
Lucy: She lost it a long time ago. Anyway, here I am.
Chris: Mother, I feel awful. I have money now. When I was working as a hooker in Paris, I met a very powerful French cabinet official. He set me up and gave me an allowance. Kind of like with you and Mr. Mooney, except I really had to work for my money--if you know what I mean.
Chris: Anyway, unlike you, I invested my own money. And now I'm rich. I could help you, but I won't. You were always so selfish and flighty about money. I remember you once wasted 110 dollars on a rabbit coat. You treated Jerry and me like dirt once we weren't young and cute anymore. Jerry was so alone at military school he enlisted in the Marines and was killed on his first tour of duty. I have no mother. Goodbye, Lucy (she leaves)
Lucy: Rosie, was someone just here?
Countess: I think it may have been Joan Crawford or maybe Patti Andrews.