Place: A bungalow in the Tiki Villas. Time: The Present
Characters: Coco, Muriel, Veronica (older women)
Opens with Coco and Muriel alone on stage
Coco: Is the world just a projection of us Muriel?
Muriel: I’d hate to think the world smelled like chicken soup and Lysol.
Coco: And urine.
Muriel: And urine.
Coco: That’s why we are staying here at the Villas. It’s so cheerful.
Muriel: Now, why are you crying?
Coco: I’m crying because…
Muriel: (Warning) we’ve talked about this, Coco.
Muriel: We made a bargain not to give in. We have a show of strength to put on here at The Villas.
Coco: O.K. I’m crying because I’m happy.
Muriel: That’s better. What shall we do today?
Coco: We could get started on this (Gets shoebox from table)
Muriel: On what.
Coco: Sorting through these words in the shoebox. Memorizing them.
Muriel: All the words people lose.
Coco: Yesterday I tripped on the...on the… and couldn’t remember the word for sidewalk So, I wrote it down and when it happens again I’ll just check in here (indicates box.)
Muriel: The shoebox is getting full.
Coco: Well people need choices.
Muriel: I tripped on the…
Coco: I’d wait 30 seconds, it’s only fair…. We may recall.
Muriel: I tripped on (picks out word from shoebox) FLORIDA.
Coco: Oh yes. Many proper nouns saved here. They’re the first to go.
Muriel: Tripped on Florida.
Coco: It may help people who come to visit us.
Muriel: Everyone loses words.
Coco: Everyone loses everything that ever lived.
Muriel: Stop it Coco.
Coco: I’m happy about it (crying). This is how I look when I’m happy.
Coco: I‘ll get it ((Enter Veronica with suitcase)) (Coco whispers) you weren’t to come downstairs yet (looks at watch) until next month.
Veronica: There’s no heat up there. (Veronica kisses her on the mouth).
Coco: (Brushes her away) I don’t care- this is not our plan.
Muriel: (Enter Muriel) Who is this?
Coco: Veronica, I’d like you to meet Muriel. Muriel, Veronica
Veronica: How do you do.
Coco: I was going to explain later, Veronica, but Muriel and I got into somewhat of a spat..and this is a surprise to me as well….
Veronica: Where do I put this? (Sets down suitcase)
Muriel: What do you mean?
Veronica: Where do I stash my clothes? The rest are coming.
Muriel: Well certainly not here! Coco?
Veronica: Ok, ok. Let’s all sit down. May I?
Muriel: I don’t want to sit down.
Coco: Well I think you need to Muriel. Veronica has come to stay.
Coco: With us.
Muriel: You and me. Where?
Coco: She can’t live upstairs forever.
Coco: She’s been here weeks already.
Muriel: Upstairs...our villa? And I didn’t know it? How could this be? What does this mean. Coco!
Veronica: She didn’t know how to break it to you.
Muriel: I guess not.
Coco: I let her.
Muriel: This isn’t your villa only.
Coco: I know I know I did it anyway
Muriel: You didn’t care what I thought? Felt? This is my home too.
Coco: There’s a part of me that does things like this.
Veronica: Alien love.
Muriel: Upstairs in our house? (to V) Why?
Veronica: I like people
Veronica: And I like being alone
Veronica: But I don’t like those two things at one time.
Muriel: How does that explain my house.
Veronica: I could be alone upstairs.
Muriel: That’s true.
Veronica: And you said you didn’t even know I was there so what’s the fuss.
Muriel: That’s because we’ve always had squirrels or raccoons.
Veronica: Well I would hear you down here-your coffee cups in the morning. The spoons on the table top...it was so quiet and I felt part of it. Family! But I didn’t have to face you to say Good Morning. I hate that.
Muriel: Well I’ll be damned.
Coco: Maybe I should explain she didn’t have a place to stay and there’s our empty attic and It has a toilet, when Aunt Edna lived here.
Veronica: The sound was nice and dry for my violin.
Muriel: You played a violin in my attic?
Veronica: When you went off to the dining hall or to your crafts and bazaars.
Muriel: (to C) You... You...You…
Coco: You always take the conventional view. That’s what's the matter with you. At painting class on Thursdays, everything is brown with you...never a smidgen of red.
Muriel: Someone lives upstairs in my attic without my knowing it-how long?
Veronica: Oh, six months or better. The palm tree outside was first put in, and now. look at the size.
Muriel: They are fake palms
Coco: One of the advantages here. Reason we bought here, remember Muriel.
Muriel: Quiet Coco. (To V) You played a violin for six months up there?
Veronica: Everyday. Oh not very well I’m afraid.
Muriel: Coco this is against the law!
Coco: What law. I’m like your sister.
Muriel: Breaking and entering.
Coco: I had a key.
Muriel: The law of civility.
Veronica: She didn’t hurt anyone. You didn’t even know I was here. What’s uncivil about that?
Coco: What’s the difference. Let her be. What harm can it do?
Veronica: I can give you money. You want money?
Muriel: I don’t think that’s the principle at stake here.
Veronica: I can play the violin for you. (Brings violin out of suitcase)
Muriel: Sit down both if you. I want you to understand. I am a woman. Not a man. If I want someone to like me I do not need to use money.
Coco: That’s for sure. She’s very cheap.
Veronica: So, you don’t want my money then?
Coco: She didn’t say that.
Muriel: I’m trying to tell you-you are corrupting my life here. You are making up rules I don’t believe in.
Coco: No one suffered here Muriel.No one suffered but Veronica. You were perfectly happy the whole time so what harm was done?
Veronica: I couldn’t even use the front entrance. Down the back steps. Always up and down the steps. And they don’t even have backs on the steps. You can see the sky between. Very unsettling. Are you sure you don’t want to hear a little sonata?
Coco: Can’t I keep her Muriel? She won’t eat much. please? Oh please!
Muriel: I am not a mean person. I’m just too old to start again.
Coco: There are no extra villas at all, Muriel. We checked.
Muriel: I can’t learn another person’s habits, to tell her my allergies, to explain why I stay in bed when it rains; you have to tell someone everything about yourself all over again. I’m too old to start again. I’m too tired for anything new.
Veronica: Ladies, ladies let us come to terms. May I speak frankly?
Veronica: Let us look at this a different way. (She pushes each woman to a different place on stage, setting them there) There now, we have a fresh view of each other. I came here because I had no place to go.
Muriel: That is not my problem
Veronica: Wait listen. Neither of you has any place to go; no one has a place to go. No one cares if you live. No one is waiting on the porch for you, either of you. You’ve outlived your use. The world is small if you don’t have wings…You are sitting here in your # 12 Villa with nowhere to go. That’s why I’m here.
Muriel: How’s that.
Veronica: At least I do something. I came here. I went somewhere. You two never had the guts to even do that.
Muriel: I think you’re really crazy.
Veronica: You two are close, yes? And have been together a long time, since you were young.
Coco: Oh yes through the anus of time.
Muriel: I think the word is Anals.
Veronica: I think the word is annals.
Coco: Whichever -we’ve been friends.
Veronica: Covenants. Don’t each one of you want to make a change before you die? That’s why I went upstairs. I was tired of being afraid.
Muriel: What does this have to do with invading my house?
Veronica: I was invited by Coco. When was the last thing you did something new?
Coco: Everything passes, Muriel. It could be quite natural for Veronica to do things and live here with us.
Muriel: It’s about our cells. People swap cells. Back and forth if they’re together. I’m careful about that! (Storms off)
Coco: (takes V aside) Should we tell her about our plans?
Veronica: Which ones?
Coco: You know fixing the house up for our music students.
Veronica: Not yet. She seems unstable.
Coco: That’s true I’ll leave you two alone for a few minutes. Try to make up to her. Flatter her. Think of something. Ask her about life. Tell her a story, a tragic one; tell her your mother died. Get close. I’ll get the tea. (Exit Coco)
Muriel: (Enters. To V) I thought Coco would never leave. Did you? (She kisses V on the lips)
Veronica: There for a moment I thought she was suspicious as if she knew something.
Muriel: What could she know. She’s stupid.
Veronica: Well, I thought I should have looked guiltier.
Muriel: How do we get rid of her so we can fix up the house for our music students.
Veronica: Is this going to backfire on us?
Muriel: Give it time. I’ll keep up the hostility and you keep being impervious and we’ll see where it takes us.
Veronica: ‘Where it takes us’ is not a plan.
Muriel: We could surprise her with the truth and watch her explode.
Veronica: She’s your only living friend and in your living trust. I am not cutting that ribbon.
Muriel: She’s not getting anything anyway.
Veronica: (To M as if begging) I have nothing. I spent a life in service to my family.
Muriel: This is not a welfare stop.
Veronica By the looks of you two, I can see I waited too long to come here.
Muriel: Especially since you weren’t invited in the first place.
Coco: You could be fresh air. We left our husbands and look at us now.
Muriel: They died, Coco.
Coco: We still left them afterwards. And now I have Muriel.
Muriel: And I have Coco. It’s been a less than positive experience.
Veronica The questions at hand is what do we do now?
Coco and Muriel: Do?
Muriel: How are we going to get out of this mess.
Coco: We’re not in a mess; we’re three lonely people who live together.
Muriel: No, I live here. You joined me and Victoria is a carpetbagger.
Veronica: I’d go back if I could, I swear, but I feel I’m meant to be here.
Muriel: Go back where.
Veronica: To memory --to the past ---but when I get there no one’s home.
Muriel: Poor Veronica. life has passed you by too. I know I myself never learned chess.
Coco: Or Russian
Muriel : And now there’s computer animation. It’s always something
Veronica: I’ll go to the attic and practice. I always played on Tuesday when you were both away.
Coco: Knitting is on Tuesday at noon
Muriel: (To V) What are you practicing music for?
Veronica: Whatever event will show up. Real or imagined.
Muriel: If life is an illusion, maybe we should just sit it out to the end.
Coco: You know what I wish; that when you turn the TV on people were really there.
Veronica: It’s on tape.
Muriel: So sad.
Veronica: That’s why I play, I’ll play for you.
Coco: Someday later, Veronica.
Muriel: When we feel better.
Veronica: My husband was always looking for an escape route when I played. Shifted his eyes. They went from side to side.
Muriel: A less than positive sign, yes.
Veronica: What of yours?
Muriel: I scarcely remember him.
Veronica: And you Coco?
Coco: It’s shameless what a person can feel. I’d rather not say.
Muriel: There’s so much besides the world of marriage
Veronica: That’s why the violin is better. Music.
Coco: And Muriel’s husband was unfaithful
Muriel: Oh, I already forgot who we were talking about.
Veronica: There are no feelings in the afterlife you know.
Coco: What has that got to do with anything, dear.
Muriel: Well, it is something to look forward to.
Coco : Everything changes.
Muriel: Oh yes, the Orient is called Asia now. Everything changes.
Coco: Veronica, clear something up for me. What do you want?
Veronica: Autonomy, but with people.
Muriel: And you Coco?
Coco: This time of day? Dinner.
Muriel: This puts me in an awkward place. It always impinges on me, I can’t provide either of you what you want. So, I am the one burdened it seems.
Veronica: You are both a mess of broken dreams and so ending up like this will not do. The end of your life is most important because that is the way you’ll begin your next life...You want to be failures next time too?
Coco: I want to wear mesh stockings.
Muriel: I wanted to be in the circus once.
Muriel: And I was so young but I joined up. I had never done anything and I was thinner then. I wanted to be loved, but I was so shy.
Coco: I became a nun.
Veronica: Yes if you can believe in God you can believe in anything. I understand that.
Coco: I thought it would help but I was lousy at that too.
Muriel: So, she became a lesbian.
Muriel: Just for a year.
Veronica: She was lousy at that too trust me.
Coco: (To M) But you did marry. I knew him, your ex.
Veronica: You committed adultery?
Coco: Muriel hardly committed marriage. I knew him well, her ex.
Muriel: Ok. Out with it Coco! You forgot the time I walked in and caught you sitting on the couch. He had his head in your lap? And you were entirely naked. Entirely.
Veronica: Naked usually assumes entirely, dear
Coco: And what did he say!
Muriel: He said he hadn’t noticed.
Coco: You could have given him the benefit of the doubt.
Veronica: You believed him?
Muriel: Of course not I told him to get up and get dressed also.
Coco: Muriel makes so much of everything.
Muriel: Oh, he was dapper alright
Coco: And every time Muriel wasn’t looking he held my hand up to his cheek and kissed the palm of my hand.
Muriel: An outrage.
Coco: it’s shameless what a person can feel and do.
Muriel: This is all too much. (Sits dizzily) I am just on the verge of…of…of…I am on the verge of …
(Coco rushes to her with shoe box.)
Coco: Here. Here. Muriel (Sits by Muriel and takes her hand)
Muriel: (Muriel picks a word)… of cosmetology.
Veronica: Yes. Aren’t we all. Aren’t we all. (Sits by Coco and takes her hand and kisses the palm.)
Grace Cavalieri’s forthcoming book is OTHER VOICES, OTHER LIVES (2017, Alan Squire Publishers.) She’s founder/producer of Public Radio’s “The Poet and the Poem” now from the Library of Congress, celebrating 40 years on-air; and a CPB silver medalist. She co-founded Pacifica’s WPFW-FM, in 1977. In 2015 Grace received the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Independent Review of Books, where she’s monthly columnist and poetry reviewer. In 2013 she received the AWP’s “George Garrett Award” for Service to Literature. She’s twice the recipient of the Allen Ginsberg Award (1993, 2013 ;) and, holds the Bordighera Poetry Prize, a Paterson Poetry Award, and The Columbia Award. Her latest play is “Calico and Lennie” (Theatre for the New City, NYC, 2017.) Her latest poetry book is With (2016, Somondoco Press.) You can visit her webpage here: and you can visit the archive of her podcast show here.