A short play for 3 characters by Alan Grant.
THE SETTING IS THE LOUNGE BAR OF A QUIET, HISTORIC PUB NEAR THE WATERFRONT. SIMON AND HIS SECRETARY JANE, ARE MEETING FOR A DISCRETE SUPPER. BOTH ARE MARRIED. THEY HAVE WORKED TOGETHER FOR 2 YEARS, HOWEVER THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THEY HAVE MET OUTSIDE OF THE OFFICE.
THERE IS A JUKE BOX PLAYING QUIETLY IN THE CORNER, ELVIS PRESLEY IS SINGING “ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT” AS JANE ENTERS THE BAR TO MEET SIMON WHO IS ALREADY SEATED IN THE CORNER. A WAITER IS NEARBY BEHIND THE BAR.
Simon, 40’ish, handsome, well dressed , successful businessman.
Jane Mid 30’s, very attractive, slim and self assured.
Waiter/Barman Youngish. Smartly dressed in white shirt, bow tie, and waistcoat with black trousers.
(LOUNGE DOOR OPENS, AND JANE ENTERS HURRIEDLY, THERE IS THE SOUND OF SEAGULLS IN THE LOCALITY, AND WIND AND RAIN BEATING ON THE PORCH OF THE DOORWAY. SHE CLOSES THE DOOR BEHIND HER. JANE HAS RAIN ON HER RAINCOAT AND UMBRELLA, WHICH SHE TRIES TO SHAKE OFF. SHE LOOKS NERVOUSLY AROUND THE LOUNGE, WHICH HAS SUBDUED LIGHTING. SIMON NOTICES HER ENTRY, SMILES AND GIVES A LITTLE WAVE, BEFORE STANDING UP AND MOVING TOWARDS HER. TAKES UMBRELLA AND SHAKES IT).
SIMON Hi Jane. Glad you could make it. Miserable isn’t it?
JANE (Laughs) Miserable? Us or the weather? Can’t remember the last time someone stood up for me. Been waiting long?
SIMON No not really. Understand this pub can sometimes get busy. Difficult to predict. Told it does nice food though.
JANE Uhm, a discrete table in a discrete pub. Must’ve done this before. (Pauses and stands looking at Simon who is still fiddling with the Umbrella, trying to close it) Shall I sit here?
SIMON Sorry? (Flustered) Oh how silly of me. Of course, let me move my coat and newspaper (Pauses) Jane I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve already ordered….crab salads, and white wine.
JANE Oh……OK. Thank you. (Picks up glass). Cheers. Anyway how did you know what I’d like?
SIMON Uhm…..I guessed.
JANE Really? (Pauses) Do I look a “crabby” sort of person? You’ve spoilt my self image now. Always thought of myself as more of a romantic Italiana.
SIMON I cheated. Knew you brought a packed lunch into the office. So I checked the fridge.
JANE (Mock indignity) Anything else you’ve been checking up on……….
SIMON (Pauses) Some. I’ve spent quite a time wondering about your likes, dislikes, even what you might be doing at any particular moment.
JANE Is that why you’ve asked me here tonight? Or as my boss, are you going to give me an off duty performance appraisal and pep talk (Pause) or is this is going to be something different? Simon? (Pauses) Simon are you blushing?
SIMON If I am it’s because I’m really pleased to see you. Even if you might be teasing me. (Pauses and looks at her breasts for a moment) I do like your blouse.
JANE Thank you kind sir. Now is it my turn to say something nice.(Laughs) do you want to borrow it? (Teasingly) Closet cross dresser? Cos I’ve got quite a nice wardrobe.
SIMON Why not? Let’s go for it (Pauses) Jane your face is a picture. No thanks, the blouse looks great, on you! (Pauses) .Anyway what about saying something nice, to me?
JANE (Picking up menu from table) Well I’ve just noticed the description of this pub at the bottom of their menu. “A place for family, friends and lovers to enjoy sea views, fine food and good company.”
(JUKE BOX MUSIC CHANGES FROM ELVIS PRESLEY TO ROY ORBISON SINGING “PRETTY WOMAN“)
SIMON Which are we?
JANE Well we’re clearly not family and it does say friends and lovers. OK on the first part?
SIMON That depends on why you’re here.
JANE Excitement? Talking to you about things that really matter (Pause) or maybe because you’re my boss, and I felt I had to.
SIMON (Indignantly) Jane. If I thought you felt obliged to be here, then I’d be/
JANE I’m pulling your leg. I’m here because I want to be. Simple as that really.
SIMON Did you have any difficulty in getting away?
JANE No. Monday night is evening class. What excuse did you make?
SIMON Told Sonia I had an evening meeting.
JANE Well at least that bit’s true and I am your PA after all. So lets draw up an agenda. Come on boss. First item (Pauses) Come on boss. Play the game.
SIMON (Pauses) First item. Manager’s declaration of interest and opening statement. (Long pause) I think I’m falling in love with you.
(JUKE BOX MUSIC CHANGES FROM ROY ORBISON TO TEDDY BEARS SINGING “TO KNOW HIM IS TO LOVE HIM” WAITER MOVES FROM BEHIND BAR, AND APPROACHES THEIR TABLE. WAITER PUTS MEALS ON TABLE, SETS OUT CROCKERY, NAPKIN ETC)
WAITER There you go Sir, madam. Enjoy your meal. Crab’s fresh this afternoon. Anything else?
JANE (Holding wine glass up) Yes can you bring the bottle?
WAITER Certainly madam.
JANE (Pause) How long have you felt like that, or was it simply an impulsive statement?
SIMON No impulse. How long? Long enough to want to do something about it. And you?
SIMON Yes you Jane?
JANE I think you’ve sensed something already Simon. If not you’ll just have to work it out.
SIMON (Gently) Can I share something with you?
JANE Of course (Teasingly) you do want to wear my blouse/
SIMON Be serious Jane.
JANE I’m nervous Simon (Pauses) but I do want to know (Pause) really.
SIMON Jane, I’m so attracted to you. I’ve been on edge ever since I asked you out. This is the first time I’ve really felt able to do something/
JANE So that’s what tonight is really about. Simon I’m here, cos I feel something similar, but we also have to be honest with one another. (Pauses) I mean I do find you quite/
JANE Given time/
JANE That’s usually the first question/
SIMON From whom? (Jane smiles but does not respond) Jane answer it, please.
JANE That’s one I’d like to find out more slowly.
SIMON Well I’m glad I ordered a salad for you. If it had been steak and chips I probably wouldn’t have got a word out of you.
JANE (Laughing) What are you on Simon?
SIMON Confession time, I checked your original job application this afternoon. Hobbies, favourite meals – steak and chips, etc. Pastimes (Pauses) Do you still Salsa? Wow.
JANE (Nods) Yes. Only nowadays, only in a bowl, with crisps and watching a film on telly.
SIMON With John?
JANE Why ask?
SIMON Don’t you think I should?
JANE Not sure Simon. Unlike you, this is not my first time/
SIMON For what? First time for what?
JANE Simon I’ve been in this situation before, only..
SIMON (Pauses) Only what Jane?
JANE Look my husband just upped and went after 2 years of what I thought was a reasonably successful and happy marriage. Felt betrayed Hated his new partner, and yet we’d never even met (Pauses) unlike Sonia, whom I like and respect.
SIMON Where’s John in all this?
JANE John and I have been together nearly 5 years. I’m talking about my first husband. I was married at 20 and divorced by the time I was 23. Spent a year in shock, drifting, till I met John.
SIMON Well OK. Uhm. (Pauses) Hadn’t realised, but it doesn’t change anything for me/
JANE It’s just that I often remember how I felt (Sighs) Simon moving from where we are, into to a full blown relationship, it’s huge. Don’t forget it’s company policy that personal relationships between staff aren’t allowed.
SIMON Now you’re really are making me nervous……………
JANE Well as the Chief Exec you should be. Anyway, forget us – there are other people who might be harmed
SIMON Only might be harmed?
JANE I’m excluding John from this equation. He’s already had enough. You and I spend more time together. He’s either drinking, down the rugby club, or sleeping. Plus his long trips to Scotland to see his “mother” if she exists.
SIMON So you’re primarily concerned about Sonia?
JANE Not just Sonia, all of us. I can assure you this will hurt. I mean look at you, what are you, 40, 42? You’ve been married for what? 12, 15 years?
SIMON And? (Pauses) Listen. Please. My decision to ask you out tonight was not made on the spur of the moment. I’ve spent weeks thinking about us, and that included doing nothing.
JANE Simon this is not a business negotiation. (Points to herself) With this lot you will get huge emotional baggage, and even a few regrets (Laughs) And that’s just me! Then you’ll have your own issues to deal with, if we decide/
SIMON You said “if” I we decide to do something. Are you still on “if” rather than “when”? (Pauses) Jane?
JANE (Pauses) What do you think? You’ve got the most to lose.
SIMON I’m not in love with Sonia. We share the same house, bed, friends, children, even occasionally the same interests, and I’ll put sex in that category/
JANE Sounds like love to me. (Pauses) Or at least a good enough version of it.
SIMON (Emphatically) Stop it, please. I know I’ve been with Sonia for a long time, but I’ve never, (Pauses) never experienced the feelings and attraction that I feel for you. I’m frazzled. I think about you, day and night. When you leave on a Friday, all I do is wish the weekend away. I’ve even been tempted to phone you at home and pretend there’s a crisis in the office, just so we could talk.
JANE Why didn’t you? Then you’d have understood my home situation a long ago.
SIMON (Pauses) Jane. Listen, these past few moments, (Pauses) tonight have been really quite difficult. I’m being honest here. Put me a bit on edge.
JANE (Assertively) Well what were you expecting? (Pauses) Simon whatever we decide now, someone is likely to get hurt. Neither of us want that, and at the end of the day, it could be one of us.
SIMON What’d you mean?
JANE Look Boss. My position is clear. John and I will inevitably part the waves and move on. Your situation is quite different.
SIMON Is it really? Aren’t we both in relationships that aren’t working?
JANE Sonia might not agree with your statement, besides you’ve got kids/
SIMON Ouch. (Pauses) Well you certainly know my Achilles heel. Anyway my boys are older, plus Sonia is tremendous at dealing with family issues, and if she and I can remain civil then, given time, who knows?.
JANE That doesn’t make it any easier Simon. (Pauses) Anyway I also think it’s time we resolved a certain subject matter before we go any further..
SIMON Children? (Jane nods) (Pauses) Well?
JANE Your sons will always be welcome.
SIMON That wasn’t what I was asking.
JANE I know.
JANE (Pauses) Simon I’ve got used to the idea that nappies will never be a part of my life. (Pauses and then wistfully) although once found myself walking round the maternity department of my local store. Just touching things. Holding them. Really weird.
SIMON (Looks disappointed) Right issue? Wrong time?/
JANE No. (Pauses) In fact it helps me. Shows that you have thought some things through, even if you didn’t get the answer you perhaps wanted. (Pauses) Wow. I feel quite exhausted. Where’s the waiter gone with that bottle. (SIMON STANDS UP AND BECKONS WAITER USING EMPTY GLASS TO ATTRACT HIS ATTENTION. WAITER HURRIEDLY APPROACHES TABLE WITH FRESH BOTTLE).
WAITER Sincere apologies sir, madam. Sorry for the delay.
JANE No problem (Pauses) Just leave the bottle, we’ll sort ourselves out, thank you. (WAITER PUTS WINE BOTTLE DOWN ON TABLE AND LEAVES. SIMON PICKS UP BOTTLE AND FILLS BOTH GLASSES).
SIMON Well? Are we drinking to our future? (Pauses) Or shall we both get sloshed and drown our sorrows? (Pauses, then a deep sigh.) I’m pushing it, aren’t I, Jane? (Long pause, then Jane picks up her glass, takes a sip from it, smiles ruefully, then nods)
JANE (Gently) Simon I think for now, we’re going to need some more wine. (Pauses) lots of it. (Smiles) Meanwhile, tomorrow you’ll still be the Boss and I’m still the PA.
(JUKEBOX CHANGES SONG TO ROY ORBISON SINGING “ONLY THE LONELY”)