An original play in two acts
By T. Myers
La Pine, Oregon
Couple’s Camp / Couple’s Kampf
A Play in Two Acts
By T. Myers
Boyd Butcher: Mature 40-60’s. Counselor and Pastor- He has years of experience helping married couples find a way to work together. He has been married to his wife for years and loves to work with her. Nothing much shocks, old, Boyd. He has seen it all.
Bootsie Butcher: Mature 40-60’s. Social worker. Wife to Boyd. Happily married. Naive. She is flamboyant with her Church Lady appearance; she might present herself as judgmental, but is absolutely not. She loves to laugh and enjoys a good story or joke. High Compassion and empathy.
Len Nesbitt: Mature 40-50’s. Well known radio personality, makes a comfortable living and who never makes a public appearance. Len is one of the good guys. He is off track of late and does not talk easily to anyone. He talks all day at work and wants a quiet home life.
Sue Ann Nesbitt: Mature 40-50’s. Dazzling older woman with a great deal of panache’. (Fashion, make-up, clothes, hair- it’s all there) She used to work, but now spends her time at home or working with a variety of child based charities. She works at the crisis hotline one night each week.
Joyce Mathison: 30-50’s. She is a former ad executive. She is the family business bookkeeper. During the past few years she has become more and more religious. She is independently wealthy. Her holdings allow her to do what she would like to do with her life and she knows it. She is overly humble, judgmental and eager to please God.
Carter Reynolds: 30-50’s. Comes from old money, but he is no longer associated with the family business, so he has tried to make it on his own. He is liberal. An environmentalist. He does not go to church. Was once big in the Sunday school set- so he knows what his wife is doing. He is worried that Joyce will leave him and he will not be able to keep working.
Armando Lejon; 30’s. A lawyer. A hard worker. A secret holder. He loves his wife and is truly worried about their future. He seems confident. He is intelligent. He has a first generation way of looking at society.
Kristine Lejon: 30’s. Expecting her first child. She is an orphan- all grown up. As an art history graduate, she became a museum manager and she is off until her child is born. She concentrates on the baby and has lost r=track of what her husband wants/needs.
Travis Cook: 40-50’s. A graphic Designer. Yuppy. Concerned with his appearances. Married to a woman he considers being behind the times. He is sharp dressed, sharp tongued and he has to hold himself back from making quick reactions to the people around him- especially his wife.
Marigold Mooney-Cook -40-50’s. Marigold ‘Mari’ is a child of the 70’s. She likes it laid back- although she has spent her adult life very responsibly. She loves going to counseling weekends and counts these events as her favorite things to do.
Rebecca Whiting: 40-60’s. Lovely, docile woman who used to write an agony column for a series of newspapers. She advised people all over the region about everything from their love life to household hints. She has been married since the Viet Nam war came to an end. Her husband just retired and they are working through some of his issues.
Samuel Whiting: 40-70’s. Retired teacher. He has a bad attitude towards the world- and his wife. For some reason, he and his family are distressed about what is happening with him and he has been forced to come to Couple’s Camp.
The play is always the middle of the story. We don’t see what happened before you are on stage and we will not see where you go after you leave. You must write me a short paper of your background. Everything from where you were born, how many kids in your family, pretty much anything that makes your character who he/she has become will be important. What are the events that lead you to this time in front of an audience? (Know your spouse’s character, too) Keep a few secrets that only you and I will know as the director. I will help you develop your ad libs based on this personal history and the part you play.
Setting: (We see a set with three areas. One in the center is a circle of 12 chairs set up in the middle of a big room. For anyone who has been to a group activity before, it is a comfortable little circle. Kleenex boxes and water bottles are set out in the center of the circle. There is a white board and markers, rolls of tape and other items in a box by one of the chairs next to the big board. There is also a table with coffee cups and other snack items laid out.
On either end of the floor is a bunk house area with camp cots and other cabin-y furniture. Both have a round table and chairs. There is a picture of Jesus on the wall where the bedspread covers are pink. (SR) A few tennis rackets and exercise items are on a shelf. Ladies magazines are stacked there, too. On the other end of the set is a lodge-like setting with rough and ready furnishings and fishing equipment. (SL) The beds are plaid and the mugs on the table have sports slogans or manly things on them. There are brooms and other cleaning things in each of the two areas. There is a door way leading to a bathroom on each end. It is marked.)
(There is a lady checking off people’s names on a clipboard. She is smiling and affable as she greets the folks. She is standing on the side of the circle. A few people are already sitting down and others arrive after checking in, they sit, too. The woman appears to be on edge, though. Nervous? Concerned? She checks herself out in the hanging mirror right during the time that the narrator talks about the reflections in the pond)
Narrator: Reality bites!
Remember when you read those Edgar Allen Poe stories when you were in High School? They were usually the only ones that you really wanted to read- because they were weird. Tonight we will discover that the story we are about to see is a little like that place in the Fall of the House of Usher, when the young man rides his horse up to the property and comes upon a small lake/pond. It is a windless day and the house is reflected magnificently in the still water. As his horse takes a drink he looks at the pool and studies the reflection, comparing it to the house on the hill above. He begins to feel like something is wrong. A leaf falls into the pond and the ripples form irregular circles. Not right. He has no idea what makes him feel like that. He knows that a reflection is never real- even if it seems to be real. A reflection is always a little bit askew. As he ponders the dreary lines of the stark mansion, the bare branches of the single tree above the waterline and thinks to himself that he is doing this for his school friend, the rider becomes even more uneasy.
Remember that! The rider becomes uneasy in Poe’s story. What will he discover? Will the time he spends with his friend change him in ways the reader understands?
This evening we will look into the lives of some of our friends and see if their stories are reflected in us. Just be mindful. When can a camp be a Kampf? Sometimes it is easier to look at the reflection and believe that we see it all………… than to look for the reality.
(There is luggage in the two areas that serve as cabins. The chair section of the set- the great room is full of people. The woman in charge is now talking with a man by the white board and the rest of the folks are chatting so that we can hear them. Mostly they look to be couples. NOTE: Remember that as an actor you will be required to use -AD LIBS- AD LIBS-A D LIBS…..)
Bootsie Butcher: Are you sure that we need to do that, Boyd? It is going to seem very silly.
Boyd Butcher: The referrals always have specific things that we are supposed to do when these people come to camp. We will do them or risk losing other referrals in the future. No matter how ridiculous we think the accommodations are.
Bootsie: Hope you know what you are doing, dear, because this group is a little challenging.
Boyd: It will be fine, Boots. Make sure everyone gets a cup of tea or coffee and then get them seated.
Samuel Whiting: Now listen, Rebecca, I do not want you to talk to me while we are here. Do you understand? You will make me look foolish and I can’t take it anymore!
Rebecca Whiting: But, Sam, we are here to work through things and get past this…this…whatever it is and that means that I will have things to say.
Samuel: Well, talk to me outside, ok? Not in front of everyone. Now go sit down and leave me in peace. (She sits with her head bowed down. Sam gets a coffee and joins her in the next chair)
Leonard Nesbitt: You have got to be joking, right? I can’t sit with these strangers and discuss the things we have to talk about if we are going to make this work.
Sue Ann Nesbitt: You didn’t want to talk to the marriage counselor. You never talk to me. And if we don’t talk here, we are through. Do you hear me, Len? Talk here or forget it! (She grabs him by the arm and they sit down.)
Marigold Mooney-Cook: This sure looks like fun, hon! I hope that these other people will enjoy the weekend as much as we will. (She adjusts her look and reaches into a huge handbag and brings forth a large mug) I hope they have herbal tea. My head is still banging after that trip to Starbucks on the way out here!
Travis Cook: Didn’t you have a decaf latte?
Marigold: I don’t remember. (She goes to the tea table and fills a napkin full of cookies and chooses a tea bag. Hollering to her hubby) Hon, what would you like?
Travis: (under his breath) For you to disappear. (Out loud) Coffee. Black. (And he sits down in the closest chair)
Bootsie: Come on everyone. It is time to get going. Here are your name badges. Slap ‘em on so we see your name. For now will you sit next to your partners or spouse?
Armando Lejon: Over there, Kristine, pointing to three chairs.
Kristine Lejon: I want to sit next to the door to the bathroom, Mando. (And she walks the other direction to the only other chairs)
Joyce Mathison: (Praying) Dear, God. Please let me get through this weekend. Amen!
Carter Reynolds: Keep your prayers to yourself, Joyce. You always want to tip your hand to the world. They are trying to get us to settle down. Do you hear that? (Pointing to the lady who is walking around in the circle)
Joyce: I am just trying to get settled.
(The chairs are filled and the Pastor speaks)
Boyd: Welcome to the island everyone. We will begin to work right after I go through the rules for today. Tomorrow we will be working under a different set of guidelines, but we need to start now with a few guidelines for today. Participation is mandatory in order to move ahead. Okay?
(People look at each other and look around at the others)
Boyd: The bathrooms are right through the hall door and to the left. We will take regular breaks about every 50 minutes and if you need to leave the room, you need to wait until whoever is talking finishes their statement. There are Kleenexes and water in the middle. No one can pass the Kleenex box to a person who needs it. The person must get it for themselves. Why?
Bootsie: Because when you hand someone a Kleenex, you are telling them to stop crying.
Boyd: There will always be water for you, Take one and set it next to your chair for later. We will provide snacks at the mid-morning and afternoon breaks and lunch will be served when it is reasonable to break for lunch. Be sure you eat.
Bootsie: Be sure you breathe.
Boyd: What she is really saying is that you will need to think about what you are saying- Brain before mouth.
Bootsie: There is one more big thing to remember.
Boyd: What we say in this room is private to this group and you cannot talk about it when you go to the dorms tonight or with your partners. Tomorrow you will understand why. Are we ready?
Bootsie: Show your hand if you agree to the rules of the group. (She looks around the room to check that all of the hands are up.)
Boyd: Here we go! I want to go around the circle and you can introduce yourself, how long you have been together, where you are from and what you are hoping to accomplish this weekend.
(More questioning looks) Go ahead. We will start with you (pointing to Bootsie) and go around…
Bootsie: I am Bootsie Butcher. I am Boyd’s wife of fifteen years. We don’t have kids at home so we spend most of our time helping others be happy. I don’t like to talk about myself. I think women need to keep a secret or two to stay interesting, don’t you agree? Woman of mystery and all that! I want to help each of you make some progress in your relationships this weekend.
Leonard: I am Leonard Nesbitt. I am a radio newsman and I don’t want to be married anymore. There, I’ve said it. (To his wife) Are you happy now? I mean, she never lets up. She wants to talk all the time. I talk all day and I don’t have anything to talk about when I get home and I am tired of the poking and prodding and accusations. What I want out of this weekend. That’s simple- for it to be over!
Sue Ann: Well, Boyd, you can see what I have to deal with. I keep telling him to pack his bag and leave, but after so long, I guess he doesn’t really want to go. Or he can’t pack a bag without my help.
Boyd: Another rule? No sarcasm.
Sue Ann: So what was sarcastic?
Len: He can’t pack a bag without my help! You harpy!
Boyd: Another rule? No name calling. Right? (The couple looks at him, shrugging shoulders).
Sue Ann: I want him to talk to me. I don’t understand him. (And she looks at the next man)
Travis: I am Travis Cook. I am a graphic designer in my own firm. Marigold and I met in college when I was a starving artist. She likes to make me come to groups like this. Goal? I want my wife to move into the 21st century.
Marigold: Hi everyone. I am Marigold Mooney-Cook. I don’t like to be called Loony Mooney, but people do it. It comes to this. I am a person who likes to be open and accessible. My folks were hippies. Surprise! I love to go to seminars and learn about new things. I hope I learn how to be more like what Travis wants me to be, but we are really very different people and I don’t know if I can change that much?
Carter: My name is Carter Reynolds. You cannot shorten my name, so call me Carter. My family manufactures aluminum, but I didn’t want to be part of the business, so I started to build houses. Now I design houses and use green materials. I am here today to support Joyce. I am fine with whatever happens, as long as you don’t make me do games and stuff. Will you do that? (To Boyd who shrugs) Good grief (to Joyce) this isn’t one of those touchy feely seminars is it, Joyce?
Joyce: I don’t know. Anyway, I am Joyce Mathison, and yes I am married to Carter, but we kept our names. It was easier because we both owned things. I don’t work anymore. Other than church, I don’t really do anything. I want to go back to work, but Carter doesn’t like my ideas. I hope he will…
Carter: She wants to be a missionary!
Joyce: I have a calling!
Carter: Isn’t what you are already doing enough?
Boyd: Sounds like we will have some work to do, you two. Let’s move on.
Kristine: (rolling her eyes in judgment and then she reacts to a twinge in her mid- section) I’m Kristine Lejon. I am married to him (nudges Armando). As you can see we are going to have a baby. It is our first and I am here to be sure that we-as a couple- can become good parents and stay a couple. Oh and I am on leave from the _________Museum, where I have been a curator.
Armando: Good morning. I am Armando Lejon. I am an attorney who specializes in corporate law in the three west coast states. We are both worried about how our lives will change when our baby is born. That is why I am here.
Marigold: What are you having and when is it due?
Armando: We decided that we did not want to know so we could be surprised.
Kristine: It is due on ________ (date is five weeks away from when the play occurs. Marigold coos with delight.)
Rebecca: (She sits and says absolutely nothing- reacting to her husband’s looks and she zips her lips and he sighs)
Samuel: I’m Samuel Whiting. I am a retired teacher. I am here because my entire family jumped me last week and told me to come. I don’t expect much.
Boyd: I am Boyd Butcher. I have a PhD in Psychology and have been doing family and couples counseling for 19 years. I also have a MS in Social Work and my wife and I have a private practice in __ (city) _____. I want each of you to leave here with some new tools for communicating with the people in your life. I want honesty. That brings us full circle. We will do Q&A next. Raise your hands if you have no children. (We notice one of the participants, Sue Ann, raise and lower her hand quickly) Thanks. I will start by asking one of you a question and you answer me and then it is your turn to ask someone else a question and so on. We want to get to know each other a little so we can move forward. So, Travis. You don’t seem very excited about being here. What would you be doing if you were not here today?
Travis: I would be out on the golf course for the whole day. I never have enough time to spend a day with my buddies. I would like to have a day to myself.
Boyd: Okay. Since you are here, are you ready to work on your relationship with Marigold?
Travis: Isn’t it my turn to ask a question?
Boyd: As soon as you answer mine.
Travis: I know that Marigold would like that. I don’t know what I feel. (Boyd nods and signals for him to go ahead with his question) So-o-o, Armando, you are going to be a new dad. What are you worried about the most?
Armando: Time with Kristine. She is so wrapped up with the idea of the baby already, I don’t know how I am going to fit in. (Men look around nodding in agreement)
Will she get… no, will we get through it?
Travis: I won’t lie. Stuff is going to change for both of you. A baby is a big responsibility and you have to work together to make it easier, but we all get through it- some better than others, but we all get through it.
Armando: My turn? Mrs. Butcher? Do you believe that a wife should support her husband?
Bootsie: Do you mean be a helpmeet? Like in the Bible? Or are you saying that a married woman needs to stay home raise a family, cook meals or that kind of thing?
Armando: I think I mean all of that.
Bootsie: Well, Mr. Lejon, we women are not the same as we once were. History has made sure of that, but I am a Christian woman who believes that my husband will take care of me and I need to take care of him, too. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a job of my own, but it does mean that we consider each other in everything we do. Okay? (Armando looks at Kristine and nods to Bootsie) I want to ask Joyce a question. Does Carter like the fact that you are becoming more religious?
Joyce: What? I’m not more religious. I have always been spiritual and that hasn’t changed.
Carter: Are you joking? All you do is pray.
Bootsie: Is that true?
Joyce: I have an intimate relationship with God and I talk to him on a regular basis. That is true.
Carter: But she will stop in the middle of a sentence and start praying. It is getting crazy!
Boyd: Maybe we better go ahead and move on. Do you have a question for someone, Joyce?
Joyce: Yes, I do. Sue Ann, is it? I heard you tell your husband that he needed to talk to you here or he could forget it. What do you mean? Will you leave him?
Sue Ann: (Jolted) I think so. When you asked the question it hits me that I want him to leave if he can’t help work through what has happened to us, I want to move on with my life. And, I’ll do it alone if I have to.
Len: That’s a little harsh!
Sue Ann: Well, you need to take it in, Len. I have a question for you, Carter. Do you listen to what Joyce says, or have you turned her off and tuned her out?
Carter: Off. It all sounds the same anymore, Dear God, blah blah blah blah blah! I come home and she is sitting at the dinner table or on the couch or standing at the kitchen sink and she is talking. Does she say hello? How’s your day been? Anything? Nope. Just Dear God, blah blah blah blah blah! (Joyce crosses herself and bows her head) I am to the point that I don’t want anything to do with God people! I have a question for you, Sue Ann. When Boyd asked us to put hands up if we had kids, I saw your hand go up and right back down. Did you lose a kid?
Sue Ann: I had a son. Not Leonard’s. But, Len raised him as his own. Mike, that was my son’s name, died in a horrible accident, he… well afterwards it was like he never lived. At least as far as Len was concerned. (Len gives her a blank look). I guess there is nothing more to talk about. (Pause) Oh, my. It’s me asking, right? (She looks around the circle and we notice Rebecca shaking her head no-no-no) You are Sam? (He nods yes). Why does your family think you need to be here?
Samuel: They don’t like the way I talk to my wife. (He looks at Kristine) Do you have to use the bathroom? You are wiggling like crazy.
Kristine: (Embarrassed) I do. My question is to Boyd. Can we have a break? (Everyone laughs)
Boyd: Great timing! Snacks are on the table. Let’s take a couple minutes and be back in five minutes.
Scene II: (The group mills around the snack table while Boyd and Bootsie go over the items on the clipboard. Nearly everyone goes out and comes back in except Sam and Rebecca. Sam reaches for a doughnut.)
Rebecca: Sam, dear, I think that lots of these people are very troubled. I hope you can help them. You are so good at reaching out to people.
Samuel: (He stops his bite into a doughnut when she talks and he starts to choke. Armando enters and comes to slap his back) Don’t…(He is still choking and looking at Rebecca but Armando thinks he is talking to him about the slap.)
Armando: You’re choking! (Keeps slapping and then Heimlichs Sam) There you are old man!
Samuel: Thank you. I’m all right now. My Doctor warned me about eating doughnuts! (Participants gather around him asking if he is ok and Boyd directs folks back to their seats)
Kristine: No, thank you, Samuel. I almost peed my pants over there. Ready to sit?
Samuel: Yes. (He sits in Rebecca’s chair closer to Armando. Rebecca sits on the other side and he looks at her sternly until she turns her face away. Sam talks to Kristine) I remember the first time we had a child. We were both terrified and neither of us had a clue what we were getting into. We just knew that you get married, you have kids and….
Rebecca: I knew what was going to happen. I couldn’t wait for a baby.
Samuel: (Ignoring her outburst) It is a natural thing to worry about being a parent, Kristine.
Boyd: Okay, people. Sit in the same order, please. Here is a brief assignment for later: after the last session today we are going to go to our rooms and write. There will be no interaction between couples and the men need to talk with the men and vice versa. I will explain it later. You probably noticed that your cell phones do not work here on the island? No service so you can focus on your work here. We will be picked up tomorrow at two o’clock and until then we have some more work to do. Understood? (He looks around until he sees nods) So, here is the next question. When did you discover that you were finally a grown up and how did it happen? Bootsie? Can you start?
Bootsie: I was a bridesmaid at my cousin’s wedding when I was just graduated from high school. It was a hot summer and I remember being very hot in the dress she chose for her attendants. I thought I would go to the bathroom and put cold water on my face and when I opened the door, my cousin was in there with the groom’s brother and they were… let’s say they weren’t making it cooler. I closed the door and went back to the changing room. I didn’t know what to do. I think it shocked me and I thought to myself that if I decided to marry, I would have all the little questions about my relationship worked out. I enrolled at State University and took up psychology and hoped I would learn how to be more responsible than my cousin. It made me grow up.
Sue Ann: Did she still get married?
Bootsie: Yes. And two years later she divorced and married again. Not the brother, but her husband’s best friend. (The group reacts by nodding knowingly) She is on husband number five now. It is strange because we were raised the same- I thought, but she made really different choices about herself.
Joyce: But, is she happy?
Bootsie: She is -every time she falls in love, but not for long afterwards!
Boyd: How about you Leonard?
Len: Len. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but it was one of the hunting trips I took with my dad and we were talking around the fire at the end of the day and my dad looked at me and said I had turned into a good man. I wasn’t out of High School yet, but it made me feel pretty manly to have my dad say that to me. After that I remember talking to him about lots of things. And it was easier. He started to show me more about his ham radio and that is how I got interested in doing radio work. We are still close and I respect his ideas. He is my friend, not just my father.
Sue Ann: I was in the back of an 82 Honda Civic late one fall night after the football game. (Laughter, but not Len) No kidding. I made the choice to go all the way for the first time with one of the winning football team players who I had my eye on and it was the classic story. Girl meets boy. Boy screws girl and girl get knocked up then football player leaves for places unknown leaving girl with baby and a family who rejected her because she was not married- or old enough to be. I lived on the streets and found a program that gave me an opportunity to go to GED classes and work for room and board for me and my son. I never went to prom. I never did anything but work and study. I could never trust anyone who said they loved me. Still can’t. Especially now. Now I feel betrayed all over again.
Len: Betrayed? I never did one thing to make you feel betrayed….
Sue Ann: When Mikey died you left. Not physically. But you might as well have left me. He did. You did. My folks did, everyone does.
Boyd: Len, what happened?
Len: I can’t talk about it.
Sue Ann: We need to.
Len: Not in front of all of these strangers.
Sue Ann: Who cares? They will never see you again. Spit it out.
Len: Okay. (To Boyd) You want to know? I shot Mikey. He was crawling into the back bedroom window of his old room. I did not know he was coming home. I thought he was the burglar who had been hitting the neighborhood and I called out to stop, but he came towards me in the dark and I shot him. He said one word to me. “Surprise!” and he died before I could call 911. I have no idea how to deal with what happened. I know it was an accident. At least that is what I want to believe. (Tears) He was my son. (Hold face) I killed my boy. (Repeat quietly)
(The group gets quiet while Len reaches for the Kleenex. Sue Ann stares at him, measuring his emotions)
Boyd: It is so sad when something like this happens. If you don’t talk you are going to have to understand that an event like this tragedy changes everything about your marriage. Stay with what you are feeling Len. Moving on.
Travis: What do you mean, ‘Moving On’? I just did a project for an organization who deals with teenage suicide. All of the facts say that when you lose your child like this most people divorce. Isn’t there a way for you to help him, Boyd?
Bootsie: If he wants to ask for help, we are here for him. (Len looks at her and his wife)
Travis: OK. Moving on. I was an art geek and in high school I never fit in. At college, it was almost as bad, but Marigold made me feel like I was important. She loved me and everything got better. I wanted to help her get through school, so I went into graphic design and started to make a good income. I could pay the bills. It felt good to me. I was finally a grown-up and I liked what I was doing. But Len? My brother was killed in the Gulf War and it nearly killed me, too.
Sue Ann: Tell them the rest. (Len shakes his head no) Tell them that Mike came home from Iraq early and he was trying to surprise us. I am so mad. I told Mike that I hate surprises. All of his life I told him that. He did it anyway and look what happened.
Travis: Good grief.
Marigold: We started to go to groups to talk about how Travis felt way back then. It helped us, Len. Maybe it can help you and Sue Ann. Work helped my husband. School kept me busy and when I started rotations I was so tired I never had time to feel sorry for myself anymore. I grew up right then. I looked at the world in a different way. For me it was about life, not death and I got through it.
Kristine: I am sorry for your loss. (She leans forward and back and rubs her back). I was one of those kids who never had a bad day. The folks were terrific. My older sister loved me and let me tag along. I went to work babysitting when I was young and as soon as I was old enough to drive, I worked at the little historical museum in my hometown. I fell in love with the idea of museums! I was only seventeen when my folks went out sailing and drowned. Over – night I was an orphan. Happy to lost in an hour. My sister saw me through college and sent me to Europe where I really grew up because I had to travel alone. I also got to see all of the big museums and knew I would do that kind of work forever. In the back of my mind I think about how I want to take care of this baby so it is never alone. It has only been since I got pregnant that I really realized how sad it is that our child won’t have my parents in its life… It scares me, too.
Armando: I am first generation American. I never had a chance to be a kid. My family was so serious about me going to college and focusing on work and school, I was always a grown-up. It is hard to figure out just when I knew it, but it was probably when I was about ten and someone came into the house when my folks were gone. I was taking care of my siblings and I had to protect them. I took a butcher knife to the intruder and fainted when he left. My folks were proud of me. I was just numb. After that I knew I could do anything. And I did!
Boyd: Before we go on to Samuel, let’s go back to Joyce or Carter.
Joyce: I remember the day I was confirmed. In the eyes of God I became a grown-up when I was 12. I went to Catechism classes and then we all got to wear our white dresses and veils and join the congregation. There was a big party and all of our families made us feel very special. It was just like a….
Joyce: Shame on you. I was going to say dream. I graduated from the academy and went on to college. I concentrated on business classes and got my MBA. I was working at an advertising company when I met Carter ten years later. We got married, we have two children who are both in college and now I want to go to work again.
Carter: I didn’t have time for business when I was growing up. I wanted to be far away from the mills and offices, so I learned everything I could about how to build things by working summers and weekends for local contractors. I was doing an ad package where Joyce worked and there was a reception one night. I liked how she looked. And she was very intelligent. I thought that she would be a good fit for me in our business and I was right. Then we got married. She took over the business part and I built houses. We were a good team, weren’t we, Joyce? But it has only been the past year, since the economic downturn, that I realized that I don’t know her anymore. I guess I really skipped a few steps in growing up, because she makes me feel like a spoiled child that doesn’t get his way and it is driving me nuts!
Samuel: I can’t remember when I thought of myself as a man for the first time. During the war, I guess. I was in Viet Nam right after the TET Offensive and we’d lost so many marines and soldiers that I just knew I was going to die. I wrote a letter to my folks and told them the things that I thought were important to me. “Tell Rebecca that I love her,” I wrote. I put the letter in my pocket and never sent it. And, when all was said and done, I was still alive. When I got home I read the letter through and it was so ridiculous that the only true thing I saved was the sentiment about Rebecca. We got married a month after I returned home. I used the GI Bill and finished teacher training and went to work.
Kristine: Sorry to interrupt, but (She is rubbing her back and looking like she is really hurting) I really need to lie down for a bit.
Boyd: It’s almost time for lunch. Go back to the dorms for now and after lunch we will meet again. Bootsie, you can handle the gals and I will take the fellas.
Scene II (Everyone looks at Kristine. Armando helps her to her feet and Joyce and Marigold walk her out and over to the dorm. The men stand there for a second and go to their dorm. We see the lights go out on the center and come up on the women.)
Joyce: Dear God please let this woman be all right.
Sue Ann: Come and put your feet up. Would one of you put some pillows behind her back and hand me one for under her legs. (She works to get Kristine comfortable.)
Kristine: I am just having a hard time with sitting so long is all.
Marigold: You said you were due in five more weeks? Have you had any spotting or contractions at all?
Marigold: Good. Just rest. Why don’t we sit down and have some tea and talk a little?
(Rebecca shrugs and sits down on the empty chair- and the others grab chairs and pull up to the table while Marigold gets some mugs and the carafe of hot water.)
Sue Ann: It sounds good to me. Sit down Joyce. You can pray more later. Tell us about this missionary thing.
Joyce: There is a place in Columbia outside of Medellin where they have a new orphanage. I want to go there and work to help take care of the children.
Bootsie: How long would you be gone? (Marigold brings the tea and goes over to Kristine)
Joyce: I am going in a couple of weeks for ten days to take a better look and figure out what I have to do.
Sue Ann: So you are going with or without Carter’s ok?
Joyce: I will go. And, I guess, since it is important to do it. I will go.
Bootsie: You are going to have to figure out a way to work this out with your husband. You don’t want to give up your marriage, do you?
Joyce: That is why I’m here, Bootsie. I want to work things out, but I can’t just stay the same anymore.
Marigold: Is Carter going down there, too?
Joyce: Not on your life. He is too busy- and completely against it.
Kristine: (From bed) It sounds like it will be exciting. Have you ever traveled before?
Joyce: Yes. To Europe and to Mexico. I think that since I am going in a big group, it should be easy enough. (She crosses herself)
Marigold: (To Kristine) How ya’ doin’?
Kristine: I guess I am more tired than I thought. Getting here wore me out and I worry about how Mando reacts to everything.
Sue Ann: You don’t have to make excuses for anyone. Armando is a big boy. I do think you look a little flushed. (Rebecca comes in close and then she feels Kristine’s forehead. Kristine’s eyes are closed, but we see her grimace. Rebecca leaves)
Bootsie: Tea is ready girls, have one of these sandwiches and we can rest until later.
Scene III: (Some of the men are playing cards and others are looking at the old fishing stuff or reading quietly. We see Rebecca enter and touch Samuel’s shoulder. He reacts by brushing it off. Then she tries again and he looks up to see her and gets up to walk outside.)
Samuel: What are you doing, Rebecca. Boyd told us we are not to talk to anyone but the men or women in our groups.
Rebecca: I thought that you should know that the young woman is going to have her baby. Soon.
Samuel: How do you know?
Rebecca: How do I always know, Sam? You will need to tell the young husband so he isn’t surprised. Find out if any of the men have gone through a delivery before. One of them might be able to help you.
Samuel: Help me?
Rebecca: Somebody needs to help her, Sam. I have to go. I will come back if I know more.
Samuel: I am sure that Bootsie will come and tell Boyd if something happens. (He goes back inside.)
Len: What were you doing?
Samuel: Taking some air.
Boyd: I forgot that there are sandwiches in the fridge. We will eat here and rest for a while. OK?
Sam: (Looking around the room at the different men, Sam suddenly speaks) You know, fellas. I have been thinking. The weather is getting kinda’ funny and with that little lady about ready to have her baby, I was wondering if any of you guys have helped deliver a child?
Armando: She is not due for five weeks. We have plenty of time.
Len: What do you mean the weather is turning funny?
Boyd: (Looking out the window and then going to the door) Sam is right. There is a storm heading this way. Maybe we better get some emergency supplies ready in case we need them.
Carter: That’s all we need. What do we do out here if the power goes out?
Boyd: We have lots of food, blankets, candles, batteries and water that we can use without power, so don’t worry. I am going to check with Bootsie and see about dinner. Go ahead with lunch. I’ll be right back. (Exit)
Travis: (He is drawing in a sketch book) Sam, I can help deliver a baby. I have done it before with mine and to be honest, I liked being in the delivery room. Besides, Marigold……(lightning hit) Yikes! What was that?
Sam: It got the tree top. Look. (All go to the door to look. Boyd comes running back in.)
Boyd: Grab your blankets and whatever you will need for a campout in the main room. There is back-up power there and we can do some work together later. (We see the men picking up and getting ready to move when the lights go out)
Scene I: (Everyone is back in the main room. The members are all talking to each other- except Sam, who is carefully watching Kristine and Armando. Rebecca is standing close to the pregnant woman and mouthing words to Sam while she points to her watch and at the woman’s tummy.)
Bootsie: Grab your water and snack plate. I set up the TV trays in front of everyone’s seat so you can use it for your personal items and dinner service. We will have the dinner that was already in the oven set over on the table in a little while. You can sit wherever you like at this point.
Boyd: We will do some dyads first. Pull a chair in front of your spouse and set them up so your knees almost touch. I want you to be able to look into each other’s face and eyes. Find a spot where you have room around you. Bootsie help move the trays out of the way for now, ok? (Rebecca leaves the room and Sam sits by himself at first and then he gets up and leaves, too.) Sam? Bootsie can sit with you.
Len: What next?
Sue Ann: Look into my eyes, Len. (She tells him soto voce ‘listen’)
Carter: Joyce, you don’t have to pray just yet, so come and sit down in front of me over here, okay? (She looks at him, shrugs and comes over)
Marigold: I have our chairs all set, Travis. (She motions for him to join her)
Travis: I hate this type of thing, Mari. Maybe I should go out and see what is going on with the weather. Sam is out there, too. He could need help.
Armando: Boyd, how long are we going to do this?
Boyd: Until you feel like you understand why we do it!
Armando: All right. Kristine, are you ready to sit down?
Kristine: Yes. Can you get me the big pillow? (Armando moves to get the pillow)
Marigold: Put it behind the small of her back. You can let her put her feet up by holding her legs over your lap. (Sam comes in with Travis. Travis crosses to Marigold and Sam sits down by Rebecca.)
Rebecca: I cannot help you with this part, Sam. I will be back in a little while. (We see her leave the room)
Bootsie: I will sit with you and help you with this part, Sam. It’s ok. Trust me.
Sam: Do I have a choice? (Chuckling) Do you know that Kristine is going to have her baby?
Bootsie: She isn’t due until ______. Why do you think so?
Sam: A little birdie told me. She is probably wrong with her calculations of when she got pregnant. I just know, after watching my wife- and others, that it’s close.
Bootsie: I hope the power comes on before anything like that happens! Or maybe she can wait until the boat takes her home.
Sam: Liability issues?
Bootsie: Not that! It is just that there can be complications. It won’t happen! What am I worried about?
Sam: How does this work, Bootsie?
Bootsie: Dyads are about the two people listening to the other and saying things that are important. There’s Boyd. Just listen…
Boyd: Is everyone sitting comfortably? Here is what I want you to do. Decide who goes first. That person can say exactly what he or she wants to say to the partner. The partner listens and then has a chance to respond while the first person is quiet and listens. The rule is that you look into the partner’s eyes and don’t look away. We will practice first. Try the following thing: tell your partner what you like about their face. You know? – Eyes, mouth, ears, and etc. Begin. (We see the dyads start- all together. AD LIBS)
Boyd: Next, tell your partner why you don’t want to talk to them. Begin (Again the same AD LIBS)
Boyd: This time make sure you make an “I” statement when you tell the partner, ‘when you don’t talk to me, you make me feel like…..’ Begin. (We see that this is harder to do and that the couples are having some difficulty with continuing AD LIBS.)
Boyd: Don’t stop. I am walking around the room and I will help you. Keep going.
Sam: Bootsie, I feel like a fool when I try to talk to Rebecca. I’m not stupid. I know she’s dead. But I see her and now she never shuts up and I can’t go around talking to her anymore. People think I’m crazy! (Everyone suddenly stops and stares at Sam)
Bootsie: But, it is all right to have words with someone you’ve lost, Sam. Wait. What do you mean she talks to you all of the time? Is she here now? (Bootsie looks around)
Sam: No she went outside.
Marigold: I thought I was feeling a spirit. Where are you, Rebecca? (Rebecca comes back in from out in the hall and touches Marigold on the shoulder) O-o-o-h. I just felt something.
Sue Ann: Can she talk to my son?
Sam: I don’t know. (The room is falling out of dyads and everyone is dragging their chairs back into the circle at Boyd’s direction.)
Bootsie: Is that why you said that Kristine was having the baby? Did she tell you? (Everyone starts asking Rebecca questions AD LIBS)
Boyd: There are no ghosts. Calm down everyone. Sam is trying to get to the point that he stops talking to his wife and move on.
Travis: Finally we have something really interesting to deal with. Do you see her, too?
Joyce: I think it’s Satan. He is tempting you. (She starts praying and Carter shushes her)
Carter: Maybe Sam loved her so much that she stayed with him. (Rebecca moves to Kristine’s side)
Sam: That’s what she told me. The thing is this. When she had her stroke she could no longer speak. We are talking about a woman who used words her entire life to help others and then she couldn’t talk. She couldn’t even write or type anymore. She was vegetative. Except her eyes. She looked at me and I saw that she was trying to talk through her eyes. (Everyone starts looking around to find Rebecca and they all start talking to her.)
Len: Can she talk to other people who have died? I would like to find out if Mike knows….that I….
Sue Ann: Tell Mike that Len is sorry. It was an accident. And if Mikey would have listened to me, he would still be here.
Kristine: Did my folks suffer much when they drowned? (She groans an oh-oh and holds her back)
Armando: Tell my Abuela that I am afraid I won’t be a good dad. Find out what I need to do.
Marigold: Are there dogs in heaven? Really?
Travis: Is that what you want to know? Really? You could ask if the kids are doing drugs, or if that woman is going to go into labor, but no! You want to know if dogs go to heaven. Unbelievable!
Marigold: I may not want to go to heaven if my dogs aren’t there!
Boyd: Are you kidding me? You don’t want to spend the rest of your existence in paradise if you don’t have your dead dogs with you?
Marigold: That and some of the religious hypocrites that will be begging for forgiveness at the last minute before they die- because they can!
Joyce: I know that God will be the one who lets people be saved (crosses herself) through Jesus Christ our lord and savior- of course.
Carter: Now you‘ve done it, Marigold! I can’t believe it. Joyce? (He looks over to admonish her) Please don’t start with the rant about going to heaven.
Joyce: It is obvious that she needs to know more about the Bible, Carter. Do you have a relationship with our Lord, Jesus? (She asks Marigold) He is there for all of us and God loves you and wants you to be part of his kingdom on earth when the world comes to an end!
Marigold: (She motions for Carter to let it go) Here is the deal, Joyce. I believe that you believe. In fact, I believe that lots of people believe in Jesus and that they have availed themselves of God’s personal invitation to become intimate through prayer and service to him. I know that it is all about separating yourself from others who do not believe and spending your days trying to be more like Jesus. Good. Holy. Boring!
Joyce: (Standing) Why are you here at a Christian Couple’s Camp instead of a secular counseling situation?
Marigold: I saw the flier and it was time to check in with my feelings. Besides that, Travis is probably having an affair that he is covering up and I am so tired of being easy to get along with, I was just waiting for a good argument!
Travis: How did you find out…?
Marigold: That you are seeing that little graphics artist at the co-op?
Travis: (Shocked) At the Co-op?
Marigold: Maybe you should have had her go to a different gynecologist with her little pregnancy test and problems conceiving. She told me all about her lover, you, on the second visit. It was not hard to figure out who you were after a few pointed questions, Travis. Did you bother to tell her that you had a vasectomy? No? H-m-m-m!
Travis: But, you never said anything.
Boyd: Why would she?
Bootsie: You son of a gun! You would rather be playing golf? I just bet you would!
Marigold: Don’t worry, folks. I am not without feelings, but I did take vows that are sacred to me. I am not through with Travis yet!
Sue Ann: Everyone has their secrets, huh? What else could possibly be revealed at Boyd and Bootsie’s Couple’s Kampf?
Len: Funny, Sue Ann. Couple’s Kampf! (He starts laughing) Everyone is struggling!
Sue Ann: Ha, ha, Len. You, most of all! Are you going to get everything out on the table or do I have to drag you kicking and screaming into Monday?
Len: When I got here, I thought that you guys had some relationship issues and I didn’t want to be here. I still don’t! But, a little attempted suicide seems mild by comparison to some of you people!
Bootsie and Kristine: (Together) You tried to commit suicide? (Armando is comforting Kristine and looks worried)
Len: And failed (laughing even more) I just can’t seem to do anything right! Shoot my son…
Sue Ann: Your son?
Len: I raised him. I watched him go off to war. I worried about him while he was gone.
Sue Ann: And you shot him when he came home! Then you tried to shoot yourself, leaving me completely alone to deal with it all! Why, Len? Why?
Len: Because I couldn’t. Deal with it all, that is.
Boyd: You must have been so sad.
Joyce: Suicide is against God.
Carter: Shut up, Joyce.
Joyce: Well, it is!
Boyd: Sue Ann? Is what Len did why you felt abandoned?
Sue Ann: Who wouldn’t? I always lose everyone I love.
Bootsie: How did you manage to go on? I would be so unable to help myself if it were me.
Sue Ann: What can anyone else do about it? You are not the ones who are going through our mess.
Boyd: That is why we are all here. We are all in some kind of “mess” as you say, right Armando?
Armando: Mess? That’s putting it mildly! I am so worried about being a dad…
Boyd: No you aren’t. You are ready to become a dad. But are you being completely honest with yourself? Aren’t there some things going on with you at work? I thought that you were involved with the PAC committee suit and some ethics questions?
Armando: (Kristine looks at him with questioning look) I do have a few things that are concerning to me.
Kristine: Are you in some kind of trouble, Armando?
Boyd: You might as well get it out now.
Armando: It is nothing important. Not really.
Carter: I hate the word really! It’s an overused adverb!
Joyce: Really? You are really out of the loop. You are really a piece of work. Really!
Carter: You are really not being a wife, Joyce.
Boyd: Back to you two. What you have not told your wife is very important to her- and you, Armando. Tell her.
Armando: I set up some accounts for a Save the Children sort of organization that is working to stop the violent kidnapping of children in Uganda, You know, that Kony character? Well it seems that the PAC has been collecting money and it does not get used to save anybody but the people who are spending it themselves.
Kristine: How can that hurt you?
Armando: I did not vet the organization properly and I signed some documents that make it look like I am involved in the scam. The Feds are looking at my practice and have frozen my assets. They even have frozen my personal bank account and credit cards. I can’t tell you why it happened. I had my mind on so many other things that…..
Kristine: My water just broke!
Rebecca: Here we go Sam!
Sam: How long before the boat gets back here, Boyd?
Boyd: (Looking at his watch.) They are supposed to be here at two. It is only 10:30 now.
Marigold: I need a few of you to help me. Ladies, can you go to the kitchen area and start boiling big kettles of water. Look for all of the towels you can bring and get more bottled water. Men, we need a little privacy, so let’s see if we can get her to the women’s quarters. Armando, you come with me.
Sam: Rebecca, (to her) can you give Marigold a hand? (Looking around the room at the men who are trying to see who he is talking to) I am sure Rebecca will answer all of your questions later. Let’s just take care of Kristine. (They all nod in agreement. The men start to tidy up the room and put it back in order)
Boyd: Put the chairs back into dyads. We still need to finish what we started.
Travis: (He is examining the chair that Kristine was sitting in) This is interesting, you guys. Look at this (They gather around Travis). There is a squished water bottle stuck in the back of this cushion and it is all wet.
Len: It is wet because Kristine’s water broke.
Carter: I don’t think so. Maybe her water broke…conveniently!
Boyd: Why would you say that?
Sam: Because she just found out that her hubby is in trouble and she just got him out of here- away from all of us.
Travis: And I bet she is talking to him right now!
Carter: Well, while the girls are away, I want to know about why you are cheating on your wife?
Travis: Not cheating, really.
Carter: What do you mean? If you have an intimate relationship with anyone besides your wife, it is cheating. I have done a lot of things, but I never have cheated on Joyce,
Travis: You cannot cheat on a wife who is never here.
Len: I thought she was a stay at home wife. It surprised the crap out of me to learn she is a doctor.
Sam: And a competent one, too. I think I remember Rebecca talking about her a few years back. Didn’t she start that clinic for women?
Travis: Yes. And she teaches. And she is a surgeon. And she volunteers for everything hippy-dippy-trippy.
Boyd: What made you fall in love with her?
Travis: She was so laid back and full of life.
Boyd: You mean that she is doing what she has always done and you can’t appreciate those things about her anymore?
Travis: Now that she knows about me, I don’t think that she would ever forgive me, even if things were different.
Sam: Don’t sell yourself short. She still loves you.
Travis: I haven’t been able to tell for a long time.
Len: Maybe you haven’t told her that you loved her for a long time. (Marigold walks back into the room)
Marigold: I checked Kristine and she has not lost her water and her cervix is not dilated. I told Bootsie to take the girls for a walk and leave Armando and Kristine alone in the cabin for a bit. What do you want to do, Boyd?
Boyd: I am relieved. Let me think a minute.
Sam: Rebecca said she was ready to have the baby.
Marigold: She is. But not right now.
Sam: Travis found where there was a water bottle that was broken on Kristine’s chair. I better put that one away and get out a new one, huh?
Len: Did she try to fool us?
Marigold: No, Len. She thought she was in labor. And she is still having back pains.
(All the girls come into the room and mill around the table. Armando helps Kristine to the table and she is clutching her big pillow.
Bootsie: grab a snack and get ready to sit back down people.
Kristine: I am so sorry everyone. I felt my bottom get wet and I thought my water broke.
Armando: You really scared me, honey.
Boyd: I have a question for all of you. Do you love your spouses? (Everyone- even Sam says yes) Then we have a few things to finish. Sit down facing your spouse in the dyad chairs one more time. (All of them do as asked. Sam reaches out to hold Rebecca’s hands- and the people all notice what he is doing.)
Boyd: Repeat these words starting with the men first and…
Bootsie: …then finish the thought in your own words: I have loved you since the day…
Boyd: Go ahead men. Tell your partners how you fell in love with them. (The men all start talking at once and get silent.) Don’t lose eye contact. OK. Now, ladies? Tell your partners why you have loved them since the day you…. (Ladies)
Bootsie: Good. Look at each other and tell your partner your favorite facial feature and why you like it. Men? (They all talk)
Boyd: Ladies. You do the same. (Women)
Boyd: Before you say anything else, I want you to answer a question to yourself as you look at your partner. Do I still love you? (They start talking) Not out loud. Decide for yourself and just look at the person you have spent your life with.
(There is a crack of lightning and sound of thunder and the lights go out for a couple of seconds. When the lights come back on, we don’t see Rebecca anymore and we see Sam looking around for her. No one notices- just the audience. Sam sits up straight.)
Boyd: Wow that was close! Everyone ok? (Nods) Let get ’er done! Ready? Look at your partner and one couple at a time I want each one of you to say I promise to love you and use your partner’s name.
Bootsie: Like this. (She holds Boyd’s hands and looks at him and speaks) I promise to love you, Boyd.
Boyd: I promise to love you, Bootsie. (He continues to look at her for a second) take your time and do this right people. This is the beginning of you working together to heal some of your wounds. It is a promise you cannot break if you are to go on.
Bootsie: It is a promise you cannot forget if you want your partner to love you back.
Boyd: One couple at a time.
Sue Ann: Len, I promise to love you.
Len: I promise to love you, Sue Ann.
Boyd: That’s it. Travis?
Travis: Marigold, I am so sorry.
Marigold: I know.
Travis: I still love you. I promise to keep loving you, Mari.
Marigold: I promise to love you, Travis…love you.
Joyce: Carter, you know I love you, don’t you? (He shakes his head yes)
Boyd: Just make your promise.
Joyce: I promise to love you, Carter.
Carter: And, Joyce, I promise to love you, too.
Armando: My turn? (Boyd signals for him to speak) Kristine, whatever happens, I promise to love you.
Kristine: (She adjusts her pillow) Thank you, Armando. I promise to love you, Armando. (They grasp hands and lean into one another and separate and continue to look at each other. We are down to Sam- who sits alone in his dyad)
Sam: I guess I never thought you would really ever be gone, Rebecca. I’ll miss you. (Everyone gasps) But, I promise I will always love you.
Lights go out and a moment later we hear a groan)
Kristine: Armando? My water just broke.
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