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Turnabout


January 15, 2012

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Photograph via Flickr by paloetic

CHARACTERS

Josh, white, 50
Dennis, black, 50
Cheyenne, white/Native American, 33

SETTING

Scene One: Starbucks
Scene Two: A servant’s room in an Upper East Side duplex

Scene One

A Starbucks. Josh sits with a cup of coffee. He looks at his watch. He rubs his eyes wearily. He waits expectantly, staring in the direction of the door.

Dennis enters, casually. He is expensively dressed, in dark sunglasses, headphones attached from his iPhone to his ears. They see each other. Josh smiles, stands, gives a wave. Dennis sees him, comes over.

JOSH

(Warmly) Hey.

DENNIS

(Slight smile) Did you think I wouldn’t recognize you if you didn’t wave at me?

JOSH

No. Justdidn’t know if you could see me with you(indicates sunglasses and earplugs) allencumbered.

Josh moves to hug Dennis. Dennis puts his hand up to remove his sunglasses, preventing the embrace. Dennis sits, removing his headphones. Pause.

DENNIS

So, what’s up?

JOSH

Can I get you a coffee?

Dennis matter-of-factly places his iPhone on the table.

DENNIS

(Patiently) What’s up?

JOSH

Well, firstthanks for taking my call.

DENNIS

Your number came up as unknown. I usually don’t answer unknowns, but I was distracted so(indicates his presence) you got me.

JOSH

Sorry. Do you mind that I called?

DENNIS

(Casually) How’d you get it?

JOSH

(Hesitant) I got it from Michael. I know you and he stillhe won’t be in trouble, will he?

Pause.

DENNIS

(Neutrally) What’s up? (Beat) You said this was really, really, really urgent. Triple urgency.

JOSH

Well, again, thank you so much for coming out to see me. (Beat) Been a while, huh?

DENNIS

A few years, yeah, I believe, since last we ran into each other on the street.

JOSH

Yeah, that’s weird how we kept doing that, right?

DENNIS

Chilling.

JOSH

(Sincerely) How are you?

DENNIS

Fine. Finally finished that novel that I had to abandon a few years ago in order that I might eat. It’s coming out in the fall.

JOSH

(Too enthusiastic) That is great! You’re such an amazing writer, Dennis. (Awkward pause, as Dennis says nothing.) And Martin isis he

JOSH                                                             DENNIS

Good?                                                             Fine. He’s fine.

DENNIS

He’s hosting a big fundraiser at our apartment. I’m helping with it. I told him he should make it a party. He’s old school, he forgets fag Republicans are the same as every other fag out there. They all want to look at cute boys. So I’m sexing it up. Putting the fun in fundraiser. Bringing in the young, queer Wall Street contingent, the Andrew Sullivan crowd, etc.

JOSH

Andrew Sullivan actuallysupported Obama, though. (Confused) I thinkdidn’t he?

DENNIS

Yes. And he’ll also be at our apartment with his cronies, eating our canapés, drinking our champagne, and flirting with all the boys. And I will enable Martin to make buttloads of bucks toward helping doing some damage to the Democrats in 2012. Not because I care, but because I am a loyal partner.

Pause. Dennis looks directly at Josh.

JOSH

(A little unconvincingly) Good.

DENNIS

(Laughs) Good? Which? Doing damage to Democrats or being a loyal partner? (Beat) And you? How are you?

Pause.

JOSH

Well. Been better. Frankly. (Beat) First. I need to tell you this is really hard for me.

DENNIS

Oh. OK.

JOSH

And I don’t want to take up a lot of your time since you seem a littlebusy

DENNIS

Oh?

Do you know what I was just doing? What I call my Jackie O. “Oh?” “OK.” “Ohhh” Those times on the street, that’s also what I was doing. Honing my JackieOhhh.

JOSH

And I know it’s been a while, and yeah, maybe it was a little awkward when we met that last time on the street.

DENNIS

(Shrugs casually.) Ohhh

JOSH

But I do remember my saying that last time, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we stayed in contact”

Pause. Dennis smiles.

(Josh also smiles.) What?

DENNIS

Do you know what I was just doing? What I call my Jackie O. “Oh?” “OK.” “Ohhh” (Beat; smiles.) Those times on the street, that’s also what I was doing. Honing my JackieOhhh. Apparently, she was expert at deflecting her feelings of distaste with exquisitely manufactured politesse. Because anything else wasn’t worth her exerting the effort. (Beat) But I really don’t feel like that anymore.

JOSH

(Carefully) WellI’m gladif you don’t feel the need to do thatanymore.

DENNIS

No. I mean I don’t feel like deflecting my distaste anymore. I believe that you never wanted contact with me after, as I didn’t you. I believe running into me was, for you, as it was for me, slightly odious but something to get through. I believe you silently cursed yourself for taking that particular path that led to me on those particular days, as I cursed myself. As I cursed myself for having taken the path that led to you in the very first place. (Smiling) So, what’s up?

Pause. Josh stares at Dennis.

JOSH

I’m really sorry you think all that.

DENNIS

(Laughs.) See, the way you wish you could have delivered that line is(speaks smugly, with a small smile) “You know, I’m really sorry you think all that.” The way you were wont to when you were able to. But intriguingly, now you don’t seem able to.

JOSH

No, I’m not.

DENNIS

I’m all ears. Do they have any chocolate here? Suddenly I have a sweet tooth.

Josh rubs his eyes.

Let me guess. Is this about money? Now that I have it? Or do you suddenly need me on some emotional level heretofore unrealized?

Pause.

JOSH

Yes. I need money.

Silence.

DENNIS

I’m debating should I stay. (Beat) I did deign to show up here. So I must have been vaguely interested in just what desperate straits I assumed you now find yourself. (Beat) And considering what I feel about you could strip paint off walls

Pause. Josh looks at Dennis.

JOSH

Joey’s sick.

Silence.

DENNIS

(Jackie O) Ohhh.

They stare at each other a long moment.

Silence.

JOSH

This isn’t for me. You wouldn’t be doing it for me.

DENNIS

Yes it is. And yes I would.

JOSH

You’re the only person I know who can help me.

DENNIS

And that’s the only reason you called me.

Pause.

JOSH

He’s in the hospital. He went in with this feverchillsturns out to be some reccurring complications from a bout of hepatitis he had years ago. Now he has an infection in his liver. His insurance ran out after his last acting job. He thought he could coast. Then all this happened. I mean, he’s only thirty-three years old.

DENNIS

Just like Christ. So. What are we talking? (Indicates money with his fingers.)

Pause.

JOSH

I need fifteen thousand dollars.

Silence. Dennis gazes at Josh. Josh tries to drink from his coffee, then puts it down again.

I will pay you back.

DENNIS

Fifteen thousand dollars? How do you propose you’ll manage to do that?

JOSH

This is hell for me to ask this. It really is. I need for you to know that.

DENNIS

Hell to ask a favor of me. To be beholden to me. To now have to appeal to my sense of mercy after I appealed to yoursyears agoand got none.

JOSH

That isn’t really how I see it—

DENNIS

(Interrupting) How you see it, no, I’m sure it isn’t. But does it really matter how you see it when you’re the one asking me for fifteen thousand dollars? (Beat) But anyway, what are years? Just sewage. And to reflect on them makes you no more than some sad plumber sticking a snake down memory’s toilet, dredging up the putrid past. Just so much backed-up vomit and shit. (Beat) But look at me digressing. (Playfully slaps his own wrist. ) How rude of me. When you want money.

Pause.

JOSH

What can I do here?

DENNIS

To help yourself, you mean? Utter unblemished honesty.

JOSH

About?

DENNIS

Start with Martin and me. What’s your opinion of us?

JOSH

I don’t have one.

DENNIS

Oh, you don’t? (Smiles.) You call that being honest?

JOSH

It’s not for me to say.

DENNIS

That’s honest. Yet elusive.

JOSH

I wassurprised. When I heard. About the two of you. Because he’s

DENNIS

Republican.

JOSH

And you’re sonot. I mean(laughs) you and I met at an ACT UP protest outside St. Patrick’s. You were always sokick-ass committed.

DENNIS

But then what did queers ever do for me? To me, yes. But for me? Only Martin has ever done anything for me. And I’m not just talking money. (Beat) What’s your thoughts on Martin? It’s a relevant question, considering your request would come from his hedge-fund coffers.

JOSH

I don’t know him. (Off Dennis’s look) I know of him.

DENNIS

I assume, being a good liberal homosexual, that you give a daily gander to The Huffington Post?

JOSH

Yeah. I guess.

DENNIS

You guess?

JOSH

I do. Yes. Isure.

DENNIS

So you know what I’m referring to? Big headlines, much noise made

JOSH

That said he was the biggest single gay contributor to the Republicans. Something like 20 million.

DENNIS

Huge Marie-Antoinette-fucked-her-son-level peasant slander—only 3 million. So what do you think of that?

Pause.

JOSH

Well(small smile) unblemished honesty, right?

DENNIS

Oh, I insist.

Pause.

I didn’t see any horns on Martin that night in the diner, eating his turkey burger. Maybe I was too mesmerized by my matzoh ball, trying to divine how the fuck I was going to make rent in a week

JOSH

(Carefully) Well, thenspeaking honestlyhopefully without fallout(small smile) as someone who’s tried to be a good gay citizenand who, as an artist, as an actor, has tried to be a good representative, and who knows Tony Kushner, and whose proudest moment was playing Prior in Angels in Americawho cares about other gay peopleas youdid, doI’m surebut if it’s all trueI think it’sevil.

DENNIS

Then why don’t you go to Tony Kushner for the money? (Beat) Funny, I didn’t see any horns on Martin that night in the diner, eating his turkey burger. Maybe I was too mesmerized by my matzoh ball, trying to divine how the fuck I was going to make rent in a week, having just been made redundant from a second-shift legal proofreading job, I don’t know, but I detected no smell of sulfur emanating from him at all. He asked why I looked so stricken and I told him why, and he said, “Oh good, you’re free tomorrow.” Before he even asked my name. Being ten years older than I and thirty pounds heavier, he only saw me as minorly out of his league. He waited a few dates to tell me the big “R” news, because he thought that would be a deal breaker. What he didn’t know was I’d reckoned with years of you. So when he finally did tell me I didn’t think to blink. (Beat) But I suppose now he can right his unconscionable wrong of giving his money where he chooses by coming to the aid of you and your little liver-challenged waif. Does Joey know you’re here with me?

JOSH

He knows everything I do.

DENNIS

And he’s fine with this?

JOSH

(Incredulous) Fine with this? (Hard) He’s scared.

DENNIS

He should be. It’s at this moment in particular I recall his smugness when I was pitifully packing up my shit. “I’ll just wait outside,” he said. And after all traces of me were eradicated, after you got rid of meyou still expected me to pay my monthly half of the Visa bill—our detritus of debt—for everything we bought on credit togetherthe sofa, which stayed in your apartment anyway because after all I didn’t have an apartment. Do you still have that sofa? I’m sure you do. I chose well. Good Italian leather will outlive a liver. Well, should anything happen to him, you’ll still have something to sit on.

JOSH

Fuck you. Just fuck you, you

Josh stands. He sits.

I’m herebegging you for help that you can easily givefor someone I lovein the name of whatever love you ever once felt for me. It’s that simple. (Stops. Near tears.) I am desperate here.

Silence. Dennis gazes at him.

DENNIS

After I was made to leavewhen Michael was on his play tour and let me stay in his place in Williamsburg, and I slipped on the ice and twisted my anklewent to the ERcame out with a sprained ankle and pneumoniawhich became a collapsed lungdo you know what a collapsed lung feels like? As painful as it sounds. Which put me back in the hospital. And I was the sickest I’d ever been in my life. And I was scared. And it cost me. (Beat) I called you from the hospital. Did you ever come by?

JOSH

(Shakes his head miserably.) I don’t, uh

DENNIS

Remember that long ago? I’ll remind you. No. You didn’t. Did you even call?

Josh looks down. Dennis stands, picks up his iPhone.

I’m leaving now. I have a reflexology scheduled at Nickel. And now that I have chocolate in my head I just have to get some. I tell you, there is nothing on earth like a Maison du Chocolat ganache with lemon zest. You should treat yourself sometime. So good luck with everything.

Pause. Dennis looks at his iPhone.

By the way, is a check all right?

Josh looks up at Dennis.

Fifteen thousand, you said, right? One thing, though. Let’s cut the fiction that this is a loan. So I’d like you to come by the apartment next Thursday night. That’s the night of Martin’s fundraiser. We still need a waiter. If you don’t think your friend Tony Kushner would mind.

Pause.

JOSH

Yes. Yes. Of course. Absolutely.

DENNIS

I’ll have someone give you a call with the details.

JOSH

(Emotionally) Dennisthank you. Thank you.

Pause. Dennis looks at Josh.

DENNIS

(Jackie O) Ohhh.

Dennis leaves.

Blackout.

Scene Two

A week later. A small servant’s room off the kitchen of Dennis’s Upper East Side apartment. Josh, wearing only a G-string covered in the front by a red elephant face with a long trunk, stands drinking coffee alongside Cheyenne, thirty-three, a handsome young waiter, identically dressed, who drinks from a water bottle. Silence.

CHEYENNE

I’ve become a Buddhist.

JOSH

Oh?

CHEYENNE

Yeah. I got this book, Buddhism for Dummies.

JOSH

What made you decide to become a Buddhist?

CHEYENNE

(Shrugs.) I needed a change. You know? I needed to(trails off; beat) I needed a change. I was very unhappy.

JOSH

Is it working out for you?

CHEYENNE

Well, I’m only on chapter three.

JOSH

Were you anything before? Belief-wise?

CHEYENNE

Catholic. When I was a kid. But that doesn’t count. That’s what they made me be.

JOSH

Speaking of. Very creepy to see that priest come up to you for champagne and tweak your squeaker.

CHEYENNE

Yeah, wellpriests like me. They always have. They were into me when I was eleven—literally.

Cheyenne squirts water in his mouth.

JOSH

Seriously? God. That’s awful.

CHEYENNE

Well, I was pretty hot, so I get it. I mean, from their point of view. But I’m a Libra, so I always see both sides of everything. I get why they wanted me.

JOSH

There was more than one?

CHEYENNE

Two. We moved around.

JOSH

You were molested from eleven on?

CHEYENNE

WellI mean from eleven to fourteen I was really cute. But when I hit fifteen I got hot. Now, when I look at pictures of me then, I think, “Yeah, I can see it, I’d tap that.” And then when I was sixteen there was this priest who was seriously hot, forties, priest-wise he was smokin’ hot. And he had this amazing Scottish whiskey collection. His name, I kid you not, was Father Macallan. (Laughs.) Taught me a lot about, like, single malts and cask strengths, sherry finishes. I had everything from a 17-year Bruichladdich to a 35-year Bunnahabhain. Which is how I became an alcoholic.

JOSH

The priest molested you and turned you into an alcoholic?

CHEYENNE

Yeah. (Beat) And he had the best pot, too. Totally spoiled me for anything else later. Nothing that good since. (Laughs.) We’re talking 25-year Usquaebach and white widow Holland weed when I was sixteen.

JOSH

But you’re not saying you saw it as a positive experience?

CHEYENNE

Well, it was positively the best pot I ever had. I did try to get money. I was part of this class-action lawsuit in two different(pronounces it “dio-sissies”) diocises?dioceses?whatever. But the first priest was already dead, and Father MacallanI don’t know. I felt guilty somehow, because even though what he did was fucked up, he was fun and it was amazing scotch. And he taught me Spanish from his days as a parish priest in Guatemala. Hizo más para mí que jamás hicieron mis padres. (Off Josh’s quizzical look) Did more for me than my parents ever did.

JOSH

Stockholm Syndrome. Right? That means when you identify with your victimizer—

It’s hard to wax indignant when you have a red elephant face over your junk and your ass is hangin’ out.

CHEYENNE

Yeah, I know what it means; no, I didn’t identify with him. I just enjoyed the sex and the pot and the scotch. Anyway, they were all slippery fuckers, the church. Basically all I ended up with was getting shrink reimbursements. And I had to sign something saying I’d never sue again.

JOSH

But so didn’t it make you angry to have that leering priest come up to you tonight like?

CHEYENNE

(Laughs.) It’s hard to wax indignant when you have a red elephant face over your junk and your ass is hangin’ out. I mean, I part-time as a go-go boy at this club. When you dance in a cage, this here(holds out his trunk) just another Thursday night.

JOSH

Well, it’s humiliating for me.

CHEYENNE

I guess you’re not used to that, huh?

JOSH

Being humiliated? No. Are you?

CHEYENNE

(Smiles.) In case you didn’t pick up on what I was just saying, I’ve never been super-adept at self-preservation. That’s what turned certain guys on: me being damaged goods. Whatever. I’m better, though. I don’t drink or do drugs or have indiscriminate sex while high anymore. Baby Buddhist steps.

JOSH

Huh. Well, that’s interesting. Cheyenne, right?

CHEYENNE

Yeah. Josh, right?

JOSH

Yeah. Cheyenne’s an interesting name.

CHEYENNE

Yeah, I’m one-quarter Cheyenne.

JOSH

Oh. (Beat) How long’s our(does quotes) “break”?

CHEYENNE

Eh. As soon as what’s-his-name’s done making his speech out there. (Beat) Nice apartment, huh? Love duplexes! (Smiles. Indicates room.) Servant’s quarters.

JOSH

Yeah. The Upper East Side equivalent to the slave quarters with a black man as the massa. (Looks around.) And in here not even a chair for us. Beats being out there, though, huh? I needed a break from that. (Laughs shortly.) It’s like being at an African American Klan rally. Like catering a Jewish fascist bar mitzvah. (Lighter) So what else do you do when not, uh?

CHEYENNE

Dancing in a cage? I work part-time in a pet store. I’m really good with animals. Animals are great. And I walk dogs. I love dogs. So(regards Josh) what do you do? ’Cause no offense but you’re kinda old for this. I mean(regards Josh from behind) your ass is nice still, but

JOSH

Yeah, thanks, that’s, uhvery sporting of you to say. But no, thehost and Iknow each other.

CHEYENNE

Martin, the investment fund guy?

JOSH

No. Dennis, Martin-the-investment-fund-guy’spartner. (Bitterly) I owe him.

CHEYENNE

He did you a solid, huh?

JOSH

(Laughs shortly.) Yeah. So there it is. Because I needed a favor. Because I was in need. Here I am. (Indicates himself.) Like this. At my age.

CHEYENNE

With a nice ass still. Own that.

JOSH

Yeah. Thank God for that, huh? That’ll get me far. (Beat) Do you know how much Martin-the-investment-fund-guy is worth? Apparently somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 million bucks.

CHEYENNE

Nice neighborhood.

JOSH

And his partner, my ex—a black man!—makes me do thislike thisgo around with a tray of fucking canapés to other homosexual men who are raising money for a political party that despises them(indicates himself and Cheyenne) uslegislates against them(indicates himself and Cheyenne) usand we, you and me, have to stand out there, degraded, serving them, aiding and abetting them in their cause against them. Us.

CHEYENNE

Yeah, wellyou know, it’s a living.

JOSH

No. Cheyenne. It’sthis(grabs the elephant face) symbolizes everything I am not.

CHEYENNE

OK. Cool.

JOSH

And what’s more: Dennis was my lover. You’re supposed to love and take care of each other even after you stop being lovers.

CHEYENNE

Really?

JOSH

Yes. It’s the unwritten rule of being gay.

CHEYENNE

Missed that memo.

JOSH

Well, Cheyenne, maybe you missed the memo because you spent so many years being fucked up, but yes, as much as we possibly can, we are morally obliged to be there for each other. Because we’re all in the struggle together. And just because I stopped loving himbecause I stopped wanting himbecause I met someone else and wanted to be with that other person and not with himhe’s waited, bided his time, chosen this moment, this opportunity, at a particularly horrible time for me, to punish me. To fuck me. For what happened nine years ago. He knows what I’ve spent my life being, doingseeing friends die from AIDS. Well, one friend. We were lucky; we were spared what others saw. But still. Marching on Washington alongside Matthew Shepard’s mother. Volunteering at God’s Love We DeliverI mean, when I could. We both did. He much more than me. The commitment he had. And to be in that room nowlike thismakes me physically sick. I swear to God, I am this close to spitting in the fucking face of the next faggot who reaches for a shrimp tartlet. I know Tony fuckin’ Kushner. I was Prior in Angels in America for Chrissake. I’ve been on Broadway. I’ve done Stoppard at Lincoln Center, I’ve worked at BAM with Ivo van Hove, I’ve worked at all the LORT “A” theaters. I’m better than this.

Pause.

CHEYENNE

So I guess you think you’re better than me.

Cheyenne squirts water in his mouth from his bottle.

JOSH

I didn’t say that.

CHEYENNE

Well. I dance in a cage. I was a drunk and a drug addict. I was the plaything of priests. (Beat) You even think my name is stupid—I could tell by the way you said, “Interesting.” You don’t think any better of me than those guys out there you hate so much.

JOSH

That is not true. You are verycute and

CHEYENNE

Hey. It’s OK. I don’t care. I also don’t care that I don’t have any complicated feelings about wearing a novelty G-string for five hundred bucks. (Holds up trunk.) Five hundred bucks is five hundred bucks, right?

JOSH

Yeah, yeah, sure, it’sgreat. (Puts his head in his hands.) Oh, Godoh, Joey(shakes his head) poor us.

CHEYENNE

Joey. Joey’s—

JOSH

Who I’m doing this for. Who needs me to do this.

CHEYENNE

That’s great. To have someone to do something for.

JOSH

Something mortifying.

CHEYENNE

Where’s the shame if it’s for love?

JOSH

Yeah, well, it’s desperate love.

CHEYENNE

And your ex is helping you out tonight.

I mean, he could’ve just handed a check to me. Like me handing a penny to a homeless person on the street.

JOSH

Yes. He is. Sure. I mean, he could’ve just handed a check to me. Like me handing a penny to a homeless person on the street.

CHEYENNE

So you wanted him to just give it to you.

JOSH

Yes. Yes.

CHEYENNE

OK, wellobviously he didn’t want to. Sowhy didn’t he want to, you think?

JOSH

You’re asking me to think the way he thinks.

CHEYENNE

Well, I’m a Libra, soyeah.

JOSH

It’s like I said. I fell in love with someone else. Nine years ago, mind you.

CHEYENNE

So you walked out on him.

JOSH

No, I didn’t. (Pause) He left.

CHEYENNE

So he walked out.

JOSH

No, it wasit was my place. So he had to(beat) I mean, it’s rent stabilized. My name’s on the lease. It’s my place. I wasn’t going to leave.

CHEYENNE

OK, so he had to get out. And this guy Joey you dumped him for moved in.

JOSH

Dumped? (Beat; conciliatory laugh.) Well. You could say that.

CHEYENNE

And how long was it you and Dennis had been together?

JOSH

Fifteen years. Previous.

CHEYENNE

So he’d been living there fifteen years with you beforeJoey

JOSH

Yeah, lookthey were not exactly fifteen fun-filled years. I mean, yeah, the first four or fivesixwere. But after that we settled into thisdomesticity that, while, yeah, very pleasant

CHEYENNE

And comfortable. For Dennis.

JOSH

Yeah, of course comfortablepleasantsure

CHEYENNE

Joey’s younger? Than you? (Off Josh’s look) I’m guessing.

JOSH

He’s thirty-three.

CHEYENNE

Oh, cool, me too.

JOSH

Yeah? (Regards Cheyenne.) Huh.

CHEYENNE

So that would’ve made him twenty-four when you met him. (Beat) So you dumped Dennis and kicked him out of the place he lived in with you for fifteen years for a 24-year-old, and up until now you’ve had this, like, very decent life with this young guy you love in a rent-stabilized apartment doing fulfilling artistic things, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you had the rug pulled out from underneath you, and Dennis is now in a position to help you and he is. With a few(pulls on the string of his thong) strings attached. Is that pretty much it?

Cheyenne squirts water into his mouth. Silence. Josh looks down at himself. He laughs. He lifts the trunk, lets it flop.

JOSH

Yeah. If you put it like that. (Beat) Not such a bad deal, this, in your opinion, is it? (Beat) You must think I’m a big asshole.

CHEYENNE

Nearsighted, maybe.

JOSH

Yeah. I guess I can suck it up for fifteen thousand dollars. That’s likea thousand dollars for every year I waswith

Pause. Josh notices Cheyenne is staring at him.

CHEYENNE

He’s paying you fifteen grand for this tonight?

Pause.

JOSH

(Caught) Yeah.

Pause.

CHEYENNE

While I get five hundred?

Long silence.

JOSH

I’m sorry. Oh jeez. I’m really

Cheyenne looks down, smiles, shakes his head.

I shouldn’t have

Silence.

CHEYENNE

You know how many nights that is for me dancing to Lady Gaga in a cage? Let’s seefive hundred goes into fifteen thousanduh(beat) thirty times. (Looks at Josh.) For real? You should be willing to go out there with your dick swingin’ and painted rainbow with a sparkler comin’ outta your ass. You need a reality check to go with that check for fifteen grand. Boy, oh boy, ohthis is really(tries a laugh) funny.

JOSH

Cheyenne, I didn’t mean to make you upset here, I’m—I, uh

Cheyenne puts his hand up. He takes a walk around the room, squirting water into his mouth. He stops. He cracks his neck. Silence.

CHEYENNE

(Smiles) OK. I’m good.

JOSH

I’m sorry.

CHEYENNE

(Puts up his hand.) I just needed to absorb the reality. Of your getting fourteen thousand five hundred dollars more for doing the same shit as me. (Gives Josh an appraising look.) Got it.

JOSH

And I’m sorry I said you were fucked up.

CHEYENNE

Hey. Whatever.

The sudden sound of applause, off.

Speech is over. Time to get back out there.

Cheyenne starts pouring wine from a bottle into wine glasses on a tray.

JOSH

I feel terrible.

CHEYENNE

You’ll get over it. I have big faith in that.

JOSH

You deserve better than this, too.

CHEYENNE

Deserve. God, I’m so glad I’m not cursed with big ideas of entitlement.

JOSH

Yeah. You’reblessed. That way. (Beat) And I don’t think your name is stupid. At all.

CHEYENNE

Whatever.

JOSH

And honestly? I think you look hotlike that.

CHEYENNE

(Does a turn. Smiles.) Damaged goods.

JOSH

Does that make me like them?

Cheyenne smiles. With his fingers he indicates “a little bit.”

CHEYENNE

Now. Are you cool? Are you calm? Have you, like, purged?

JOSH

(Sighs, nods.) Yeah. Thank you, Cheyenne.

CHEYENNE

You’re not gonna go out there and spit on anyone, right?

Josh shakes his head.

And if anyone grabs your squeakerlike this. (Cheyenne roughly squeezes Josh’s squeaker.) What are you gonna do?

Josh smiles a big smile. Cheyenne smiles.

Excellent! Like that. Think fifteen thousand dollars.

Cheyenne picks up the tray of wine glasses.

While I think five hundred.

Blackout.

G

© 2009 by Daniel Reitz. No part of this play may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. For inquiries regarding rights contact: New Dramatists, 424 West 44th Street, New York, NY, 10036; 212-757-6960. Attn: Emily Morse.

Daniel Reitz has had his plays produced in the United States and Europe. His most recent play, Studies for a Portrait, was produced Off–West End in London. He adapted his play Urban Folk Tales as the feature film Urbania, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released by Lionsgate Films. His plays have been published by United Stages, Smith and Kraus, New York Theatre Experience, and Playscripts, Inc. Turnabout was produced in the Ensemble Studio Marathon of short plays in May 2010 and has since been expanded as a full-length play.

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