A one-act play

A passing dialogue..

3 PM.

A crowded Italian cafe.


Two friends dressed in black.

Scott arrives late; he draws a chair rather awkwardly and apologizes.

ELLE: Its a new day [She sips her coffee] I tell myself everyday, twirling off my never-to-be-made bed, smiling, imposing a charade on my white lapel. Bonjour.

SCOTT: Only theoretically, of course. So you are happy?

ELLE: Pardon me? How I contempt daylight, it shows how average looking I am; scuffed is my exterior. Happy, you say?

SCOTT: Its funny how caffeine becomes you, darling. Jesus! Look at that guy over there!

ELLE: Its a quotidian habit of mine, dragging on my cigarette and sipping my coffee, it washes the linen scent off. As it happens, rarely or otherwise, it is always stuck notably to my face, blanking me out; and its not specifically contrary to reason to say that I live merely for such moments.

SCOTT: Where’s the fucking waiter! I told you we should have gone to that quaint place uptown instead! Oh! You don’t strike me as a smoker.

ELLE: Oh, I only smoke once, or five times in the morning, it calms me down, the smell of tobacco.. only what is it matter? Look at you, and all these people out here, its ridiculous.

SCOTT: What is?

ELLE: Everything. [She snorts.] How we hide it. Masked we are by redundancy and juxtaposed with life; with ourselves. Perhaps not per se.. but take out all given conditions, and where do we stand? don’t you see.. nothing exists. its where everything and nothing meet, and I recede. Who am I? What’s happening? Why is it happening? But again, I digress.. All is mundane; myopic! Every little detail. The coats of colors are now dead, and they’re flaking off of me, off of my skin.

SCOTT: Whats wrong with that?

ELLE: So am I.

SCOTT: And subtracting your day-to-day routine, subtracting life, your artsy façade collapses, and you’re left with nothing but your spare frame and a nasty headache. Jesus lord, I’ve seen it happen before, when you quit wearing makeup and dressed like a man.

ELLE: Whats the point of all of this?

SCOTT: Darling, I think you should see a shrink. You are having another nervous breakdown

ELLE: I’m not! Don’t you see it. Its an epiphany.

SCOTT: So what about it?

ELLE: What about what?

SCOTT: Your epiphany. What? Have you forgotten already? Is this about having stretch marks, because hey, everyone does.

ELLE: I hate myself.

SCOTT: I love you.

ELLE: How tacky of you.

SCOTT: But I do.

ELLE: I don’t know who I am. [Pauses.] I see figures, waltzing in and out, confined to inches of garment, and it doesn’t matter whether its blue ribbon Armani, or cheap third class woven collages. All is a camouflage here. A matter of absolute connotation; that, I give you. Its beyond me how happy some are, with their kitschy makeup and manhattanesque hats, as if it makes any difference, any actual difference, that is! I have seen what’s inside once, a sprawling blank of skin; excess. And I don’t know how to separate myself from others. I’m terribly disoriented, I think I’m having a panic attack.

SCOTT: Oh jesus! Hey listen.. [Elle cuts in.] Its arbitrary. Beauty, choices, colors, existing. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not digressing at all, but at last an epiphany is enacting within me, and I can feel it. The truth, however relative, is still someone’s reality. Reality is in the eye of the beholder, reality is the beholder. What’s a beholder? We’re all flesh and bones, enclosed by skin, and its suffocating.

SCOTT: You’d rather live sans skin?

ELLE: I don’t know.

A tall tan waiter approaches their table

WAITER: Good evening, sir. Can I please take your order?

SCOTT: At last! I’d like a cup of black coffee, please.

WITER: Would that be all? [He looks at Elle.]

SCOTT: Yes, thank you.

Waiter exits.

SCOTT: You are so fucking jejune, it is unbelievable.

ELLE:I beg your pardon?

SCOTT: Why cant you just accept it? independence is make-believe. you need life to live, its simple. You cannot disconnect completely. All these philosophy lessons are killing your common sense.

ELLE: Common sense is abstract.

SCOTT: Nevertheless, you can’t live like this. Socrates’ paradox is really nothing! A pretentious gibberish. Wasn’t it Victor Hugo who said.. [Elle cuts in again.]

ELLE: Like what?

SCOTT: Like this! Goddam you! [Pause] Why can’t you just live like others instead of dissecting life till the last inch. Jesus. Wasn’t it.. Oh my god.

[Elle, takes out a mirror out of her purse and fixes her makeup.] I thought you were having a panic attack, what the fuck is the matter with you?

ELLE: I have to get back to college, I have a class.

SCOTT: So you’re just going to simply forget about it? Jesus christ!

ELLE: Are you crying?

SCOTT: No! [He starts to read the newspaper.]

Waiter enters with Scotts coffee.

ELLE: You smell lovely today, Scott. [She lights up a cigarette, and smiles as she exits]

SCOTT: [ Muttering] Should I kill myself or have this cup of coffee?

The End