The day room of a Garden District mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Valentine's Day to Mardi Gras. The not-too-distant present.
Setting: A spacious garden room, with one door on the left wall, and two on the right. In the center, stands a table, with chairs round it: sketch pads, brushes, and paints are lying on the table. Downstage, left is a window and near it a chair with a drawing table. In the right wall is a door that leads into a gloomy garden shrouded in steady rain. There is a luxuriously cushioned day bed with an empty bird cage like a Chinese house. Vivid landscape paintings are placed about. The effect is of a boy's dream, the actual furniture being less important than the wonder created.
At rise: SOUND: It is raining quietly, one of those late-afternoon showers that New Orleans is famous for. ROOSTER DUBONNET, a young man, late twenties, dark-haired, gaunt, almost emaciated, lies in bed in silk pajamas. If he were not so sick and pasty-looking, he could be handsome with strong features, thick hair, and broad shoulders. Even so, there are kindness and nobility in his face. OOZIE RANSOM enters in an eleborate long fin de siecle gown and hat as in a Toulouse-Lautrec painting. She is wrapping her head in plastic and speaking off the cuff at ROOSTER.
Rain's a nuisance. Your nose get's shiny. Mascara leaks. You check yourself in the mirror and note you have the expresson of a hawk. My face used to be thin. It's like the rain washed away all the details, and my face became big like a doormat. I don't have much looks left, but I've less with a wet hairdo. I've lost everything but my hair. When I see it, I remember who I was.
(points to her hairdo)
Protective measures must be taken. Rain's slightly falling, and everything shuts down. You can't get a cab. United just says, "There're no cabs available, and we can't tell when." Nothing like a storm to make you believe in God. I don't talk about hurricanes because I don't have time to be scared to death. Thank goodness I've faith. God is so important to me that I went to schools with God in the title. I'm praying to the taxi angel. Since God's running the show, who knows when we're going out. Ah, there's the cab!
I don't worry about rain, especially at three when I'm alone. it's beating on the roof, and my chauffeur's late. The morning I married, it rained so hard, Mama had to wrap me in a sheet so my gown wouldn't get wet in the few steps from the house to the car. I should've canceled the wedding. Rain was an omen. My husband had the mental capacity of a small waterfowl. Vampires do not enjoy life. Course, they reproduce. They make vampires in their own fashion. I would stand at the window many nights without sleeping, mesmerized by the rain. I'd hear that patter outside and I'd forget my back pain. It was so much fun thinking they are fixing our croissants in the dark while my husband sleeps.
When my husband died, it rained all night. The storm was so bad, rain blew in the side so the funeral tent. Lifting roses off the casket, shaking the floral sprays. I thought nature didn't want him either.
Tastes good. Hot toddy in the cool rain. I love to sit in the rain and let the sounds come thorugh the bones of my body like liquid music. Feel the wind in my face. Be totally there like the Mardi Gras Indians that come out to dance in the drizzle. Their red and yellow feathers quivering in the air. The rain is drums, guitar, clarient, the voice of melanchly and female woe. When you listen, there's this profound wail of sadness. You hear? What I remember most is being called by rain I'd be sitting in this chair, and I'd hear rain, and I'd just dash out in the street. By three o'clock, I'd forget who I was and say, "Something is right with this picture."
I'm cold. Maybe the rain makes me that way. It's full of emptiness. Cold blue in the morning, bright blue at noon and intense Italianate blue in the late afernoon. The walls soak up the rain. There is vermilion in the shadows, violet in the gray. Like the sound of everything that's there, that I try to paint. When you are inside the rain, there's a luminosity. I want images that have the density of rain. Nature does it easily. When you try to copy it, it's gone. Rain's not easily captured. It's the pink lie, the last little thing that crawled out of Pandora's box with all her colors. If I could paint rain the way it is, thick and smelling of oak leaves, I could figure life out.
(ROOSTER closes his eyes. MONICA FALCON, a stunning nurse, thirty, arrives. She pauses at the doorway, removing her cape. She is dressed simply but impeccably and holds a satchel under her arm.)
I've never tasted New Orleans rain but I'm thirsty for it. The city's got a secret life away from me. I've got to get a balance: a little work, a little fun, a little standing up, a little sitting down. I listen and smell the rain and I'm part of Louisiana. Listen to that wind... Laughing like a loon at sunrise. I need a rainstorm every now and then. But I hate that rattling sound. (Looks about in the house)
Hello, hello, ...anyone there? I'm Monica Falcon, the new nurse.
What? (Calls out) Ma.
(Puts thermometer in his mouth)Are you in pain?
No. (He pulls out the thermometer, leans to an intercom.)
You sounded as if you were in pain.
(Into the intercom) Ma, pick up.
Unlikely. (Into the intercom) Pick up, I said.
The house echos quiet.
(Into the intercom) Ma. They sent a woman.
You've a wonderful house..
(Into the intercom)I asked for a male nurse.
It's like a hotel.
You're not my guest. I'm not lying about half-dressed with a woman.
This play was invited to and performed by the Southern Rep Theatre for the American Embassy, students at Tibilisi University, and other dignitaries at the Basement Theatre, Tibilisi, Georgia, 1999 and on the Samuel French New Plays Festival, New York 2004.