Gretchen Nelsen Older woman with a propensity to acquire things that don’t actually
belong to her.
Thomas Trahan An active, older widower who’s not quite ready to give in to just being old.
Barbara Winter Gretchen’s responsible adult daughter who is trying to balance the
challenges of becoming a parent to her parent.
Jack Trahan Thomas’s easy-going and supportive adult son.
Jim Cappazolli Older gentleman with a cane, a slightly outrageous wardrobe and the recipe for an
assortment of cocktails.
Gail Johnson Older woman. A true lady, and the friend we all wish we had.
Donna Holbrook Administrator at Casa della Vecchia. A middle-aged woman who can be rather two-faced
(and neither face is pretty).
The Casa della Vecchia (“House of the Old” in Italian) is located in Columbus, a small town in east Central Texas, a ways outside of Houston. It’s a newer, comfortable retirement community for active older adults. It is the present time.
ACT 1 Scene 1
The common area of the Casa della Vecchia. There is a table with comfortable chairs for playing games, puzzles or chatting. One wall has floor to ceiling bookcases with games, videos, puzzles and books. French doors lead out to a patio area and pool. Double doors exit that leads to the entrance of the facility and another door that leads to resident apartments. There is a bar with a small refrigerator and sink. Over the sink are cabinets with glasses and small plates for snacks. One glass-front cabinet is filled with various liquor bottles and is locked. We find THOMAS and GRETCHEN in the very early hours of the morning.
GRETCHEN Oooh that was exciting!
THOMAS That was mortifying!
GRETCHEN Mortifying? No, exciting! I’m glad I don’t have a pace-maker!
THOMAS Okay, it was exciting, but it was still mortifying.
GRETCHEN Did you see that big gun he had?
THOMAS I’m surprised he didn’t use it to shoot us both dead.
GRETCHEN Oh phoo! Don’t be ridiculous! You don’t shoot old people!
THOMAS No. That’d be too humane.
GRETCHEN That was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.
HOLBROOK (Enters in a huff and hears that last comment) Well it better be the most fun you have for a very long time to come, too, Ms. Nelsen.
GRETCHEN It was like that Christmas morning and the first day of summer kind of fun all rolled up together.
THOMAS Please, Mrs. Holbrook, let me assure you that we won’t be having any more fun any time soon.
HOLBROOK As an administrator here, I have never had one of my residents on the wrong side of the law like this! It’s outrageous!
GRETCHEN Exactly! You’re exactly right! Outrageous! It was the best kind of outrageous.
HOLBROOK Ms. Nelsen, you and your partner in crime here have caused an incredible amount of trouble this evening.
THOMAS You’re completely justified in being upset, but please don’t blame Gretchen.
HOLBROOK There’s plenty of blame to spread around. You do realize, Mr. Trahan, this is a respectable community, and we have respectable people living here.
THOMAS Yes, of course. I have gotten to know several of the respectable people and will make more of an effort to spend time with them.
HOLBROOK We do not expect to be dealing with the police regarding our residents at 1 o’clock in the morning!
GRETCHEN It was just like an episode of Hawaii 5-O! Well, except this isn’t Hawaii. Or, really, even sort of close to being Hawaii. Although I do like the new palm trees that got planted by the pool. Maybe we could get a swim up bar put in so that we could…
HOLBROOK Ms. Nelsen! This is hardly some fantasy TV police show! This is a very serious situation that will have consequences.
HOLBROOK If you two will kindly stay here, I have to go open the gate for your families and try to give them some explanation as to how this all happened. (She exits)
THOMAS What an incredible mess, Gretchen!
GRETCHEN Messy? She’s just cranky. I think we should just not pay any attention to her and tomorrow she’ll have a better day.
THOMAS I haven’t done something that outrageous or really stupid in, I don’t even remember how long! What were we thinking?
THOMAS That we could just run off to New Orleans without telling anyone, like a couple of crazy kids.
GRETCHEN We’re hardly kids, Thomas. So would we be what? Crazy seniors? Crazy old people?
THOMAS Both of those things at the very least.
GRETCHEN Geriatrically crazy? Is that a real thing?
THOMAS Although I thought we’d get a little further before they caught up to us. Still, it was an outrageous idea.
GRETCHEN I don’t think it was actually outrageous, just a poorly planned idea. Don’t you think with a little practice that we can get the hang of it?
THOMAS Yes, poorly planned, which in no way erases the outrageous part. But imagine what a time we’d have had if we’d actually made it!
GRETCHEN We’ll plan better and go again! I’m pretty free all week. Tomorrow even.
THOMAS We have to fix the mess we’ve made this time before we think of pulling another stunt.
GRETCHEN Yes, you’re right. We need to fix up a better plan. (She casually pulls a tissue and a pair of handcuffs out of her pocket.)
THOMAS We’ve got quite a bit of explaining to do in just a few minutes… Gretchen? What do you have?
GRETCHEN These? (She holds up a pair of professional police handcuffs) They’re handcuffs.
THOMAS Holy Mother of God, Gretchen! You stole that officer’s handcuffs?!
GRETCHEN No! I did not steal anything! These were just there in the officer’s car. Nobody was using them.
THOMAS You can’t just take them. That’s government property.
GRETCHEN They shouldn’t be left just laying around like that or someone will steal them!
THOMAS We have to do something with those! The last thing anyone needs is to see handcuffs right now. We can’t explain that.
GRETCHEN I’m sure I could explain it.
THOMAS Can you try putting them in your purse for now?
GRETCHEN I can try. (With her purse which is stuffed to overflowing already) Oh! I knew I bought gum. The handcuffs won’t fit, Thomas.
THOMAS (Realizing cuffs won’t fit, takes the cuffs and the purse) Let’s just stash those for now. Look for a place we can hide them.
GRETCHEN (Looking around) I shouldn’t pick the place. I never remember where I put things anymore.
THOMAS I’ll remember. Help me look!
GRETCHEN I’ll put something somewhere and find it somewhere completely different. You’d think someone sneaks into my apartment and moves everything around.
THOMAS I’ll come back later and get them. We have to get these cuffs back to that officer before he realizes they’re gone.
GRETCHEN Let’s have him over for dinner one night next week. What night is the potato buffet?
THOMAS Yes! Dinner! And for dessert, he could serve your arrest warrant for grand theft out of an auto.
GRETCHEN Don’t be silly. I don’t think he’s going to arrest me.
THOMAS (He puts the handcuffs between the seat cushion of the chair, puts the purse on top of it and sits.) There. Now we have to deal with this more immediate mess.
GRETCHEN Where did you put my handcuffs?
THOMAS In the chair. When the kids come in, let me do the talking. I’m going to tell them it was all my idea.
GRETCHEN It wasn’t your idea. I took the handcuffs.
THOMAS I’m not talking about the handcuffs!
GRETCHEN I can have a few good ideas. I’m still perfectly capable of taking care of things on my own!
THOMAS I’m talking about this cockamamie scheme to drive to New Orleans.
GRETCHEN Oh yes! That was so much fun!
THOMAS Jack will be reasonable, but your daughter is going to be spitting nails, so I’m taking all the blame.
GRETCHEN We can tell them we temporarily lost our good sense. They’ll believe that. They already believe that.
THOMAS Just remember to act remorseful. Say you’re sorry a lot.
GRETCHEN I’m not sorry.
THOMAS Say you’re sorry anyway. They like to hear that.
GRETCHEN What about the handcuffs?
(Gretchen’s daughter BARBARA, along with THOMAS’s son JACK enters. THOMAS stands.)
BARBARA Mom! Thank goodness you’re alright. (Hugs her then her tone hardens) What were you thinking!? Do you know how scared I was?
JACK Hey Dad. You okay?
THOMAS I’m fine. We’re both fine.
JACK I’m just glad nothing serious happened.
BARBARA They told us you were stopped out on Interstate 10 driving erratically. I-10?!
JACK What were you two doing out in the car so late?
BARBARA Where were you going?
GRETCHEN Going? Uh, we were going…
THOMAS (To BARBARA) I’m sorry about all this, Barbara. It was my idea. We thought we would take a drive.
BARBARA I’m sorry. You thought what?
GRETCHEN We were going to take a drive.
THOMAS Out of the city. So that we could, um, see the stars better.
BARBARA Stars? Really?
THOMAS Yes, there’s so much light pollution that we thought if we drove outside of town, we could get a clearer view of the stars and such.
JACK It was pretty late.
THOMAS You know, after sunset, you can see Jupiter about 40 degrees southwest of the moon this month. So that’s what we did. Drove out of town.
BARBARA (Squaring up on THOMAS) You both had to pack suitcases to go out of the city limits to see stars?
JACK You packed suitcases, Dad?
GRETCHEN Suitcases! Where are the suitcases? Did we leave them in the car?
BARBARA Were you planning to look at Jupiter the entire month?
THOMAS No, not exactly.
BARBARA Obviously, your father isn’t telling us the whole story here. But I’d kind of like to know where he thought he was taking off to with my mother.
JACK Dad? Had you planned to take a trip and just not told anyone about it?
BARBARA (To THOMAS) I’m sorry, but this is irresponsible. To just take my mother off somewhere. Without saying anything?
JACK Easy there. It’s not as if he kidnapped her.
BARBARA She needs to be here. Where I know she’s safe. Don’t you, Mother?
BARBARA (Wheeling on GRETCHEN) What? Mom, how did you let him talk you into this?
GRETCHEN He didn’t talk me into it. I talked him into it. This was my idea. Should we find the suitcases?
THOMAS No, I’m taking the blame for this.
GRETCHEN No, you’re not!
JACK I’m not sure it really matters whose idea it was. You’re both back safe and sound.
GRETCHEN It matters to me. I’d like to get the credit I deserve!
(MRS HOLBROOK enters)
HOLBROOK I’ve spoken with the police station. They have your car there and you can pick it up tomorrow.
THOMAS Thank you for doing that.
GRETCHEN Did they say they have our suitcases, too?
JACK (To GRETCHEN) Dad’s a pretty stand-up guy. I’m sure he’ll get your suitcase back for you. No problem.
BARBARA What kind of stand-up guy sneaks off in the middle of the night?
JACK I suppose, one who is old enough to decide where he wants to go and when!
THOMAS We weren’t sneaking off, not like you’re talking about.
GRETCHEN Yes we were.
BARBARA The point is that he left here with my mother without permission.
JACK They’re hardly inmates. The only razor wire I can see around this place seems to be you.
BARBARA WHA… I can’t believe you just said that to me. Obviously, the smart ass bad apple didn’t fall too far from the tree!
JACK I can’t believe you just…
HOLBROOK Everyone! Let’s not get upset. It’s been a long night. Why don’t we all just get home to our beds and talk more about this tomorrow.
THOMAS That’s probably a good idea.
JACK Dad, do you want to just call me tomorrow?
BARBARA Get your purse, Mother. I’ll walk you back to your apartment.
GRETCHEN Where did I leave my purse? Thomas, didn’t you have my purse?
HOLBROOK Is that your purse in the chair? Let’s just collect that up and get you headed back to your apartment. (Reaching for GRETCHEN’s purse in the chair, she notices the handcuffs partially sticking out from the cushion) Oh, this fell…What in the world…
BARBARA (Seeing handcuffs) Are those handcuffs?
GRETCHEN Yes! They’re mine.
THOMAS They’re not hers.
GRETCHEN They are, too, mine.
BARBARA Why the hell do you have handcuffs?
HOLBROOK These must be the cuffs the officer is looking for.
JACK Did they handcuff you, Dad?
BARBARA Mother! Where did you get these?
GRETCHEN There’s no reason why I can’t have handcuffs.
BARBARA There’s no reason why you should.
JACK (Smirking) I can think of one.
BARBARA That is so… so juvenile and inappropriate!
THOMAS (Realizing what he’s implied) Oh! Jack!
HOLBROOK I’m sure there’s a logical explanation. The officer said he may have just forgotten them when he was dropping you off. That’s probably what happened.
GRETCHEN It’s not.
THOMAS That’s exactly what happened.
BARBARA He forgot them under the cushion?
THOMAS They must have slid down there when he was sitting in the chair.
GRETCHEN This happens to me all the time. I put something one place and it reappears under the couch cushion.
JACK Check the couch. Maybe he lost his revolver, too.
THOMAS (To JACK) You’re not helping.
HOLBROOK It’s very late. Everyone is safe. The excitement is over. Let’s just all get home.
GRETCHEN Did we get our suitcases back, Thomas?
HOLBROOK We’ll straighten it all out tomorrow.
JACK You okay for tonight, Dad? I can come back over and check on you.
THOMAS I’m okay, just worn out.
GRETCHEN (To JACK) Can you bring my suitcase when you come back?
THOMAS We’ll get them, my dear. Don’t worry.
HOLBROOK (As BARBARA and JACK exit) If you don’t mind, we’ll need to stop at my office for you both to sign a report for our files here.
BARBARA That’s fine, I just want to be sure she gets settled in first.
HOLBROOK Of course. I’ll walk that way with you. I’m so sorry you had to come out so late.
(She turns back to THOMAS and GRETCHEN sharply and giving them both a look that stops them in their tracks and indicates the handcuffs. She pastes the smile back on her face and exits out behind BARBARA and JACK.)
THOMAS (Concerned) She has our handcuffs.
GRETCHEN I don’t think that’s a problem.
THOMAS I do! We have to get those back and return them to the officer.
GRETCHEN Of course we do. She’ll give back my handcuffs because she’ll want her keys.
THOMAS What do her keys have to do with this?
GRETCHEN I have her keys. (Holding up a set of keys)
THOMAS How’d you get those?
GRETCHEN I couldn’t find mine in my purse. She left hers right there on the table earlier. So I took them.
THOMAS Gretchen, what else have you picked up?
GRETCHEN I pick up all kinds of things. You’d be surprised what…
BARBARA (Offstage) Mother. Let’s go!
GRETCHEN Maybe we can trade these keys for those handcuffs!
THOMAS Maybe I could just have my head examined.
GRETCHEN You, too? They examined mine just last week!
BARBARA (Offstage) Mother!
ACT 1 Scene 2
The next day. GRETCHEN and GAIL enter carrying their art projects: bird feeders made from soda bottles. GRETCHEN’s has been more successful than GAIL’s which is more project than art.
GRETCHEN I think it’s a perfectly nice bird feeder. You’re too critical.
GAIL The bird world diner’s guide will probably classify it as a “questionable dive” or at the very least a birdie greasy spoon.
GRETCHEN But everyone flocks to those places because they’re so good.
GAIL Did you get a bag of the bird seed to fill these up with?
GRETCHEN Oh dear, no. I forgot.
GAIL I think they had a few stacked on the ground next to the crafting tables. We’ll pick one up later.
GRETCHEN When I put mine out, I think I’ll mix some potatoes in with my bird food.
GAIL You’re going to put potatoes in the bird seed? Do you mean mashed potatoes kind of potatoes?
GRETCHEN Yes, why not? I think birds like potatoes. And then the bird seed won’t all fall on the ground. It’ll be stuck in the potatoes.
GAIL I don’t have the foggiest idea if birds actually like potatoes, but it certainly can’t hurt to give it a try.
GRETCHEN Everyone likes potatoes.
JIM (Enters carrying an empty soda bottle with no work done on it. He is obviously unimpressed with the craft) Who comes up with these craft projects? Craft projects are nothing more than a gentle reminder that death won’t be the worst thing that happens to us.
GAIL Come on, Jim. You just needed to put a little effort into it. Not that it helped my outcome any.
GRETCHEN I thought bird feeders were a nice idea. Especially if it means there’s one less hungry bird out there.
GAIL A bird will have to be pretty close to starved to want to eat out of my miserable excuse for a feeder.
JIM I’m starved. What’s in the people feeder? (He checks the fridge) Bah. Nothing.
GRETCHEN Maybe you just need to add more sparkly things, Gail. Sparkly things make everything better.
GAIL Perhaps you’re right, my dear. More sparkle. Jim, is there at least a bottle of cold water in there?
GRETCHEN Here, I have some sparklies and glue, too. We could fix it up. (She takes a handful of plastic jewels from one pocket and a glue stick out of the other.) Then it won’t look so much like a dive.
GAIL You took the glue with you? Oh my, and plenty of sparkly things.
JIM I don’t know if you’ve got more stuff stuck on that bottle or stuck in your pockets. (Snooping in the cabinets, he’s found a package of cookies) Aha! Pay dirt!
GRETCHEN Good thing I have these, looking at her feeder (She sits and starts gluing sparklies onto Gail’s feeder)
GAIL Now it’ll be a sparkly questionable dive.
JIM A few more and it’ll be a birdie brothel.
GAIL Jim! Stop that! And get out of those cookies!
JIM They’re not cookies. They’re Fig Newtons.
GRETCHEN I always wanted to go to all the questionable dives in New Orleans.
GAIL To the dives? I’d want to go to Brennan’s for brunch or oysters at Antoine’s.
GRETCHEN Those are nice, too, I suppose, but the dives are where you find the best gumbo.
JIM You sound like you know your way around New Orleans.
GRETCHEN No, I’ve never been there.
GAIL Really? You know so much about the food and restaurants, I thought you’d been there several times at least.
GRETCHEN No, never. We almost made it last night, though, Thomas and me. We were having a wonderful adventure.
JIM Almost? Didn’t you get stopped over in the next county?
GRETCHEN Well, yes, but that’s closer to New Orleans than right here. A whole county closer.
GAIL Okay, yes, you’re right. Closer.
JIM You two carry on. I’m going to see if the esteemed Mr. Trahan is headed this way. We’re off to run a few errands. Oh, there might be a Fig Newton left over there for you, Gail. (He exits)
GRETCHEN I hope we’ll try to go again. You know, we were going to go to the New Orleans School of Cooking and take a class.
GAIL Cooking school? Wow. How wonderful. I didn’t realize Thomas liked cooking.
GRETCHEN He likes eating which is kind of the same thing.
GAIL That’s an important part of the process, too. No point in cooking if no one is eating.
GRETCHEN I’ve wanted to go to the New Orleans School of Cooking for the longest time. I really think they’re the best choice for helping me with my signature creation. Will you bring me a paper towel, please?
GAIL You have a signature creation?
GRETCHEN Oh yes! I’m working on a recipe to incorporate potatoes into gumbo.
GAIL Seriously? Putting potatoes into gumbo? Do you think that’d really taste good?
GRETCHEN Potatoes taste good in chowder. They’re good if you boil them up with shrimp. Why shouldn’t they be good in gumbo?
GAIL I… uh… you know, I can’t answer that.
GRETCHEN Thomas thinks it’ll be good.
GAIL Well then I’m sure it will have to be.
GRETCHEN He’s never been to New Orleans either. Or to a cooking school. So don’t you think it’s pretty exciting that he said he’d like to go.
GAIL You know, Gretchen, what I think that Thomas really likes is …you! Just my observation.
GRETCHEN Well, yes, I suppose he does. We are friends, after all. I never thought he might dislike me. He likes you, too. And Jim.
GAIL No, silly goose. I think Thomas really likes you.
GRETCHEN Me? Oh, Gail. I don’t know about that. I mean, we’re friends.
GAIL I’m your friend, but I’m not driving you to the next state for cooking school. I think our Thomas is quite sweet on you.
GRETCHEN (Giggling) Oh phoo. People our age don’t… don’t, I don’t know… get sweet on each other.
GAIL Why not?! There’s no age limit on love.
GRETCHEN Love? Oh my gosh.
GRETCHEN I hardly think Thomas Trahan is in love with me! Such an idea.
GAIL Why wouldn’t he be? I think if you wanted to club baby harp seals, he’d jump on board with it and drive you to the Arctic Circle.
GRETCHEN Those little fuzzy, white seals with the great big doe eyes? I’d never do that! I think maybe I’d club a fuzzy, white spider. One time I even hacked a snake into a lot of pieces with a garden hoe…
GRETCHEN But I think the snake deserved that. I felt bad afterwards.
GAIL I didn’t mean it literally.
GRETCHEN But not baby seals. Oh Gail! You don’t think Thomas would…
GAIL Gretchen! It was just a random example. I was just saying it seems he’d do pretty much anything for you.
GRETCHEN I don’t think I’d want him harming seal babies.
GAIL No, of course not. No one wants that.
GRETCHEN Especially the seals.
GAIL Most especially the seals. So why New Orleans? Why don’t you take a cooking class here?
GRETCHEN It wouldn’t be the New Orleans School of Cooking.
GAIL No, it’d probably be the community college, but it’d be a class. It’d probably be fun.
GRETCHEN But it wouldn’t be the same. It has to be the New Orleans School of Cooking.
GAIL Well, no, I suppose it wouldn’t be exactly the same.
GRETCHEN This is Columbus, Texas. That… that’s New Orleans, Louisiana! New Orleans is world famous for its cooking. Columbus, Texas is famous for… for…
GAIL Right, maybe Columbus hasn’t quite landed on that one thing to stand out about, but you could still...
GRETCHEN I want to learn to make gumbo. I mean, I know how to make gumbo. Who can’t make gumbo?
GAIL I can’t really.
GRETCHEN Because you live in Texas!
GAIL Now, I’m almost sure there are plenty of people in Texas who can make gumbo.
GRETCHEN No, they make barbecue. I already can make a great barbecue brisket but, who cares because everybody makes that.
GAIL I don’t.
GRETCHEN What do you mean you don’t.
GAIL I don’t barbecue.
JIM What are you? Some kind of Yankee or something?
GAIL Now that’s not very nice.
JIM What self-respecting Southern woman can’t lay down a mean barbecue dinner? That’s just shameful.
GRETCHEN We aren’t judging, but I wouldn’t tell anyone else.
GAIL I’ll keep it to myself. Where’s Thomas?
JIM He was finishing up what he was doing. We’ll get him on the way back out. He wanted me to wait for Jack.
GRETCHEN Where are you three going?
JIM Police station, for one.
GAIL Got a ticket for illegal use of speed in a cross walk again?
JIM Are you calling me fast?
GAIL All the girls say you’re fast, Jim.
JIM And I am. Thomas, however, just needs to pick up his car from last night.
GRETCHEN Right! It got pounded.
JIM I think she means impounded.
GRETCHEN Whatever. The officer drove us home and his officer friend drove Thomas’s car down to the police station.
GAIL Why didn’t they just follow you here with it?
JIM It eliminated the flight risk. You know, it gave them a cooling off period to reconsider that kind of crazy idea.
GRETCHEN That’s okay, we need to work out the plans better.
JIM Plans like: Buy a map.
JACK (Entering) Hey there ladies. Hi Jim. Are you coming along with us?
JIM I am. Thomas said to pick him up at his apartment on our way out.
JACK You’re looking pretty today, Gretchen.
GRETCHEN Oh! Well, thank you!
JACK You ready, buddy?
JIM Let’s head ‘em up, move ‘em out!
GRETCHEN I don’t think we got our suitcases back last night. Will you see if they have them with the car?
JACK Yes, ma’am. I’ll be sure to get them for you. (He and JIM exit)
GAIL He is such a nice man.
GRETCHEN I think he’s a little feisty. And some of the things that come out of his mouth!
GAIL Are you kidding?
GRETCHEN He’d make a sailor blush.
GAIL He’s never been anything but utterly polite and kind.
GRETCHEN He was watching some game here on the TV and his team lost. Oh, the string of swear words! It could have peeled the paint right off the walls.
GAIL He was watching a game here?
GRETCHEN I thought we’d have to slip nitroglycerine under his tongue.
GAIL Are you talking about Jack?!
GRETCHEN No! Jim.
GAIL Oh! Yes! You’re right about that. I meant that Thomas’s son, Jack, is such a sweet gentleman. That apple didn’t fall far from the tree either.
GRETCHEN I think Barbara said the exact same thing last night. Jack is definitely a good apple, which, therefore, I think, means Thomas is a very nice tree.
GAIL Let’s go get the bird seed while there’s still some out there and see if we can’t get these hung up.
GRETCHEN (As they’re exiting) I have some twine in my apartment we can use. Do you have your own potatoes?
HOLBROOK (Enters as they’re exiting. On her phone) You’re right, it could be… Hello, ladies. Nice feeders. Good job…
GRETCHEN Oh thank you!
HOLBROOK See you both later. Oh wait! You haven’t seen a set of keys lying around, have you?
GAIL Keys? I don’t think so.
HOLBROOK Let me know if you do. I’m looking for mine… (Into the phone) Sorry about that. Just a minute (She checks to be sure GRETCHEN and GAIL are gone)… Ok, I actually just walked right past her… No, no, she was with Gail Johnson… I think you have absolutely every reason to be concerned, Barbara. I’m concerned… In my opinion, and I’ve seen plenty of situations exactly like this, you’ve done the right thing by taking those steps… No, I imagine it wasn’t easy and I’m sure it won’t make her very happy at all, but, by God, you do what you have to do! … (She exits.)
ACT 1 Scene 3
Pitchers of orange juice and water are on a small portable drink cart along with a bucket of ice. A bowl of pretzels is on the counter.
Later the same day. THOMAS and JIM enter carrying the suitcases.
JIM I’m just surprised she didn’t do worse to you.
THOMAS Believe me, it was bad enough. I walked Jack out to his car, and she caught us out there in the parking lot.
JIM Oh no.
THOMAS Oh yes. Without Gretchen around, or witnesses in general, she unloaded both barrels.
JIM Bonnie and Clyde went down in a blaze of gunfire. I suppose being chewed up by Gretchen’s daughter is comparable.
THOMAS I have to say it was worth it. And Jack seems to almost enjoy getting her fired up. We probably haven’t heard the end of it, though.
JIM Oh God, I hope not! This excitement has to last at least until college basketball starts. (Gesturing to drink cart)
THOMAS It may last longer than that!
JIM I see they’ve got the supplies out for happy hour. What time is it anyway?
THOMAS Only 4:30. We’ve got another hour. What I really need is to find a way to smooth it over with Gretchen’s daughter. She was breathing fire last night.
JIM You know that isn’t going to happen. (JIM starts climbing on a small step stool to retrieve a bottle of vodka from behind the books on the shelf while THOMAS starts putting ice in a glass.)
THOMAS You’re right. Barbzilla is on a rampage, stomping the city and all its inhabitants. No survivors.
JIM But if you want to continue catting around with her mother, you better make nice with the daughter.
THOMAS Catting around? Who even says that anymore? And I’d hardly call it catting around. Whatever you think that is.
JIM Doesn’t this place realize that, for old people like us, the future isn’t a guarantee. At my age, I might not make it until 5:30. I need happy hour now.
(GRETCHEN and GAIL enter in exercise clothes having just come from a fitness class.)
GAIL Oh, it’s that happiest of hours before Happy Hour! Pour one for me, will you, Jim?
JIM It’d be my pleasure. How ‘bout you, Gretchen?
GRETCHEN I would, but I don’t want anything with orange juice. It erodes the enamel off my teeth.
JIM Don’t you have dentures?
GRETCHEN I do. Because I drank too much orange juice.
JIM Get a soda out of the fridge, then, and I’ll mix you something else. (He carefully gets on the floor to look under the sofa.)
GAIL Who’s month is it to pay off the cleaning crew so they don’t move our stash?
GRETCHEN It’s mine. I wrote a check two days ago. At least I think I did.
GAIL It’d be a lot easier if they didn’t keep the liquor cabinet under lock and key! Do they think we’ll go crazy and raid the joint? Swing from the chandeliers?
GRETCHEN We don’t have chandeliers here.
THOMAS I would have gotten that for you, old man.
JIM No worries. I’ll do a push up while I’m down here. The exercise’ll be good for me.
GRETCHEN You could just come to the senior-size classes with us if you want a little exercise.
JIM My doctor says that class is bad for my heart and not to go.
GRETCHEN Bad?! How could it be bad for you?
JIM All those women shaking their business, getting all hot and sweaty, I’m having palpitations just talking about it. Doctor says I’m likely to keel over if I go in there. Better off not taking the chance.
THOMAS (Taking the bottle of rum JIM has found under the couch so he can get up off the floor) There’s worse ways to go.
GAIL Is that coconut rum? I’ll have that rather than the orange juice, too. We’ll save my enamel for another day.
THOMAS (To JIM) Can you get back up?
JIM (Rolling onto the couch) I’m half way. I’ll rest here a minute.
GRETCHEN What does your doctor say about crawling around on the floor after bottles of rum?
JIM I haven’t exactly mentioned it to him. But for safety’s sake, let’s put the rum in a spot more conducive to my long-term good health.
GAIL I guess, though, when you’ve got a group of people just trying to control their blood pressure and bladders, someone else has to control things like the liquor cabinet.
THOMAS (Mockingly) Naturally, because “this is a respectable community with respectable people living here.”
JIM Then what are we doing here?
THOMAS My friend, I have been asking myself that very question a little too often lately.
GRETCHEN Do they still have hippy communes? Maybe we could move to one of those!
JIM We are the hippies. We got old. Welcome to our commune.
GRETCHEN (Seeing her suitcase) Oh! My suitcase came back! I’d almost forgotten about it. I hope nothing’s missing out of it.
THOMAS I’m sure it’s all fine.
GRETCHEN I should check first to see if everything is there.
THOMAS Let me walk it back to your room for you.
GRETCHEN What if something was taken out?
THOMAS It’s been locked in the car at the police station. It couldn’t have been more safe.
GRETCHEN I don’t know. I saw how they leave their things lying around in their cars.
(She opens the suitcase and starts taking things out including: clothes, an umbrella, a small skillet, two potatoes, a snow globe, shampoo, and a brush)
GAIL (Picking up the vodka bottle) Jim, where should I put the vodka that you can get it without becoming a danger to your dear self or others?
JIM You had some kind of interesting packing list there, missy. What were your plans for that skillet and the potatoes?
THOMAS Are all your things there? Let’s put it all back together.
GRETCHEN Cajun cooking, of course. Weren’t we going to New Orleans?
GAIL I suggest we find a spot for that rum now, too, before Holbrook locks it up with the rest. Where do you want the vodka?
THOMAS Here, Jim. Can you take the rum and get it stashed while I help her with her suitcase?
JIM I’m on it, but I think we should put the rum and vodka in different places. Increase our odds of retention.
GAIL Oh good Lord. Thomas, you know he’s one ladder away from hip replacement. You go help him. I’ve got the suitcase.
GRETCHEN (Showing the snow globe to GAIL) I got this the last time I took a wonderful trip. My husband and I went to Holland. Before he died, I mean.
GAIL Holland? That must have been beautiful.
THOMAS I’ll put the rum behind the John Wayne section. I’m sure the Duke won’t mind that it’s not Sauza tequila for the time being.
GRETCHEN Oh it was, the windmills and the flowers. Like in my snow globe.
GAIL It’s perfect. I see why you treasure it.
GRETCHEN I thought I might find another one on this trip. Although there’s not usually any snow in New Orleans so maybe they won’t have snow globes there.
(HOLBROOK enters. GAIL tries to hide the vodka bottle among GRETCHEN’s belongings.)
HOLBROOK There you are, Thomas. I saw that you’ve gotten your car back, but you’ve parked it so that it’s difficult to load the passenger van. Do you mind moving it?
THOMAS No. Of course, not. I’ll go right out.
HOLBROOK Have you by chance seen my keys? I’m looking for them. What are you doing there?
(A little guiltily GAIL, THOMAS and GRETCHEN all answer a bit on top of each other)
THOMAS Who me? I was just, uh,
GAIL Doing where? Absolutely nothing
GRETCHEN Keys? Your keys?
JIM (Causing a distraction) Well, hello there, Mrs. Holbrook! Did you watch the game last night? Heck of an exciting ending. I wasn’t sure they were going to pull it off, but then…
HOLBROOK (Interrupting him) Mr. Cappazolli, I didn’t see you over there.
JIM Sometimes it’s okay not to be seen.
GAIL Please be careful on that step, Thomas. Why don’t you get down?
THOMAS I haven’t seen keys. Your keys. I was up here, uh, looking for a movie that we might watch this evening.
JIM (Impersonating John Wayne) Gonna circle up the wagons and watch a picture show there, Pilgrim.
HOLBROOK That’s a terrible impersonation.
JIM Be thankful, then, we aren’t watching a musical.
HOLBROOK Gretchen, your daughter said she was coming by later. If you would, bring her to my office. We can all three chat a bit.
GRETCHEN I didn’t know she was coming. But I’ll certainly ask her when she gets here.
HOLBROOK Thomas, there’s spaces to park the car behind the building. Unless you’re planning to take it out again tonight for more star gazing.
THOMAS Seems the forecast calls for clouds. Guess I’ll just stay in.
HOLBROOK See that you do. (She exits)
JIM Or she’ll unleash the flying monkeys.
GAIL That was close. I almost got caught red handed with this!
GRETCHEN Oh! Maybe that nice police officer from last night will come back and arrest you, too.
THOMAS He didn’t arrest us.
JIM I say we just destroy the evidence. Get the rum back down.
THOMAS I’ll drink to that!
GRETCHEN Thomas, instead of moving your car to the back lot, why don’t we move it to New Orleans? My suitcase is still packed. I’m ready to go.
GAIL You’ve hardly let the dust settle on the last wild adventure. Do you think now’s a good time to make another run for the border?
THOMAS That might be a heck of a lot more fun than unpacking suitcases, but maybe Gail’s right.
JIM Bonnie and Clyde ride again! (Looking in the fridge) There’s no more soda. I’ll get one from the machine by the pool.
GRETCHEN Let me get it for you, Jim. I think I took that last one. (She exits)
GAIL (Waiting for GRETCHEN to exit) Far be it for me to question the foundational strength of your ability to reason, but have you lost your mind?
THOMAS There is that possibility.
GAIL You can’t actually be considering another attempt on this New Orleans idea, are you?
THOMAS Without a little adventure, what have we got, Gail? I still want to sow some oats, not just add them to my diet as additional fiber.
JIM Now I’ll drink to that!
GAIL I just don’t understand why Gretchen is so hell bent on this little road trip and why all the secrecy. Why not just tell your families?
THOMAS I don’t think my son would have an issue, but Gretchen’s daughter has her own ideas about how Gretchen should be living her life.
GAIL Maybe she has good reasons for that.
JIM I think she’s set on world domination and plans to accomplish it one old lady at a time.
THOMAS At what point do our children become our parents?
GAIL Be that as it may, do you think maybe you’re getting in over your…
BARBARA (Enters) Oh! I didn’t realize happy hour started so early.
THOMAS Barbara! Hello.
JIM Aha! The power of the conjuring!
BARBARA I was hoping to find my mother. She wasn’t in her…
GRETCHEN (Entering from pool) Barbara! When did you get here?
BARBARA I just walked in. How are you, Mom?
GRETCHEN I’m fine. What are you doing here?
BARBARA I wanted to come back and check on you after last night.
GRETCHEN I was fine last night. Wasn’t I fine? I don’t think I changed any since then.
THOMAS No, of course you haven’t. It was just a silly miscommunication last night.
BARBARA Miscommunication. I’m not sure I’d…
GAIL Barbara, can we offer you a drink?
BARBARA Oh! Well, okay. A glass of white wine would be kind of nice right now or a spritzer, if you have it.
JIM White wine? (Checking his watch) Well, that’d take another 45 minutes.
GAIL It’s not quite yet in season.
JIM Could we offer you something more immediate? Screwdriver? Or we’ve got rum with a dress up from the soda machine.
BARBARA Oh. Well, I suppose whatever is fine.
GAIL Happy Hour doesn’t officially start for another little while, you see. We’re just practicing.
GRETCHEN I could open the liquor cabinet if you’d like some wine.
THOMAS Ooh, Gretchen, dear, I wouldn’t do that.
GRETCHEN No, I can. I have the keys! (Digs in her pocket and pulls out HOLBROOK’s keys)
BARBARA Are those yours?
GRETCHEN (Going to liquor cabinet, trying keys) No.
THOMAS Why don’t we just wait until they come officially open that.
JIM Well, I’ll be dipped in honey and rolled in glitter! How’d you get keys to the kingdom, my girl?
BARBARA Mom, why do you have those keys? Where’d you get them?
GRETCHEN I couldn’t find my apartment keys, so I have these.
BARBARA Does someone know you have those?
JIM I know and I’m okay with it!
GAIL They do say possession is nine tenths of the law.
THOMAS She borrowed them actually. And we will return them.
JIM I don’t think there’s a big rush on that.
THOMAS Why don’t you let me take care of that for you right now, as a matter of fact?
GRETCHEN (Getting the cabinet open). It’s open now! But maybe we should keep these for next time, too.
JIM There’s a bottle of white wine, Barbara, but it’s not chilled.
BARBARA Actually, I think I’m okay after all. Mom, whose keys are these?
GAIL Jim, since you’ve got access to greater options and opportunities, what do you think of mixing up pina coladas?
GRETCHEN They belong to Mrs. Holbrook, I suppose.
BARBARA And how did you get them?
JIM I think that’s a much better use of that coconut rum. Anyone else on board? (Starts busying himself with finding the blender, etc.)
GRETCHEN She left them lying around. You’d be surprised at what people just leave lying around.
THOMAS Why don’t I take the keys and your suitcase back where they all belong?
GRETCHEN My suitcase? But I thought we were going to New Orleans tonight!
BARBARA New Orleans?! What?!
GAIL (Checking the cabinet) I don’t see the tiny umbrellas, but I think we can still make them.
THOMAS Well, yes, we talked about that, but…
BARBARA You’re going to New Orleans? Is that where you were headed last night?
BARBARA Were you?
GRETCHEN I’m going to learn to make decent gumbo. You know gumbo is my favorite, and I want to know how to make it. So, I’m going to New Orleans, and Tom is taking me.
BARBARA (Looking at Thomas) Is that true?
THOMAS It’s true her gumbo really isn’t very good, but the kitchens in the apartments here are so tiny, so that might be…
GRETCHEN My gumbo isn’t bad, but I can learn to add potatoes to make it better. One can’t ever believe that they’ve reached perfection with gumbo and then just give up.
BARBARA So you’re going to drive her to New Orleans because she gets a wild hair that she wants to make gumbo!? Are you … (Whatever she has to say is drown out by the sound of Jim running the blender)
GRETCHEN Yes, he is. And no, he is not!
BARBARA (Confused) W-What?
GRETCHEN Yes, he is going to take me. And no, he is not what you just said he is!
GAIL (Brightly) Pina colada anyone?
BARBARA You are by no means going to New Orleans tonight. Not tonight. Not tomorrow night. You’re not just flying off on some crazy whim like that.
JIM (Tasting his drink) I don’t think they planned to fly off. They were going to drive off on a crazy whim.
BARBARA I don’t care if they were going to crawl off on their bellies like reptiles. This is ridiculous!
(JIM and GAIL continue to enjoy the escalating fireworks along with their beverages and a few of the pretzels in a bowl on the counter)
THOMAS I have to admit, I thought it was a little crazy at first, but, quite honestly, I don’t think it’s a problem. I have a good car. I can still drive at night…
GAIL That puts you at the top of the eligible bachelor list in almost any book around here.
BARBARA That’s great. Then you go to New Orleans. My mother isn’t going anywhere.
GRETCHEN I am, too. I already have my suitcase packed.
BARBARA Your suitcase is just as much a disaster as this whole idea! Why is your stuff strewn all over everywhere? This is all yours, right?
GRETCHEN Yes, it’s mine. And it’s perfectly fine. (Starts putting it back in her bag) I’m perfectly fine!
BARBARA (Picking up the potatoes) Potatoes? You packed potatoes? In your suitcase? Mother, this is… This is not okay.
THOMAS I see that you’re not exactly excited about us going, Barbara, but we’ll go, we’ll cook, we’ll come back.
BARBARA Oh my God, you’re serious!
GRETCHEN Of course, we’re serious.
THOMAS She is a grown woman. Don’t you think she can make her own decisions?
GRETCHEN I don’t need you to stick up for me. (To BARBARA) I’m a grown woman and can make my own decisions.
BARBARA The question here isn’t whether or not you’re an adult. But, I’m sorry to say, there is some concern about you making your own decisions.
JIM (To GAIL) This here is the reason I made the decision not to live near my kids.
GAIL You don’t have kids, Jim.
JIM Even better decision.
BARBARA Let’s get your things together. We’ll discuss this in your apartment.
GRETCHEN I’m getting my things together to go to New Orleans.
BARBARA Mother, you already know why that isn’t a good idea. I don’t think you want to go into it any further right here or right now.
GRETCHEN There’s nothing to go into.
THOMAS I’m fine with going and think the trip will be fun. Good medicine, in fact!
BARBARA (To THOMAS) I’m sorry, this isn’t up for negotiation. She can’t go.
THOMAS I just don’t see a reason why not.
GRETCHEN There’s not a reason why not!
BARBARA There are extenuating circumstances that you don’t know about and aren’t necessarily any of your business. She’s not going.
JIM If she’s not going, would she at least like a pina colada?
BARBARA (At JIM) No! And do you mind?
JIM I just thought it’d be a reason to stick around.
GRETCHEN I am too going! Oh yes I am! With my skillet and my snow globe! And you, Barbara Marie, are not going to have a say in this!
BARBARA Oh no you are not! And, by God, I do have a say! Legally, I do have a say!
GRETCHEN You won’t control me! And I’m going if I say I’m going! So you don’t have a say!
BARBARA Listen to me! You very likely have Alzheimer’s! You gave me guardianship! That, Mother, gives me a damn say!
(There is a stunned silence as all of them absorb what has just been said.)
JIM (Putting down his drink) I think I won’t drink to that.
GAIL (Putting hers down) I think I won’t either. My. I’m sorry, Gretchen.
GRETCHEN Well, it’s not true. She’s just saying that to be a toot. She’s always been a bit of a toot. Even as a little girl. Quite a toot.
THOMAS (To BARBARA) Are you serious about this? When did this happen? (To GRETCHEN) How long have you known this?
GRETCHEN There isn’t anything to know.
BARBARA We had some testing done last week.
THOMAS Gretchen, why didn’t you tell me? Don’t you think I should have known about this?
GRETCHEN There isn’t anything to know!
THOMAS It sounds like there’s plenty to know.
GRETCHEN I have a few missteps or whatever and suddenly doctors who don’t know anything want to say stuff that isn’t true.
BARBARA They believe it is true. It’s probably very early, but it’s true. We’re just waiting on test results for confirmations.
HOLBROOK (Entering with handcuffs) Oh, Thomas. I still need your car moved. And I came across these when I was looking for my keys. They must be returned to the police station. I said you would bring…
GRETCHEN It’s NOT TRUE! I AM FINE!
HOLBROOK What’s going on here? What is all this?
GRETCHEN And I will not stand here and have you say otherwise to me. I’m still your mother. I still deserve a little respect! (She bolts from the room)
JIM Wow. I didn’t see that coming.
BARBARA (After a pause) I’m terribly sorry this all came out like this.
GAIL My dear, there’s no reason for you to apologize.
HOLBROOK What happened? This is probably something I should know about.
BARBARA It’s been difficult. For all of us. I’m sure you understand. (She starts trying to collect all of Gretchen’s things into her suitcase.)
GAIL Please, let me take care of that. We’ll take it down to her later.
BARBARA Thank you. If you’ll excuse me. (She exits, following GRETCHEN)
HOLBROOK What’s happened to Gretchen? Is she alright?
GAIL No, she’s not alright.
JIM Well, I’ll be dipped.
HOLBROOK Would someone like to explain what’s going on here?
THOMAS I’m not sure I actually understand what just happened here.
JIM That’s really a blow. Bless her heart.
HOLBROOK What blow? Would someone give me some answers?
GAIL It seems she may have Alzheimer’s. They had words, Gretchen and Barbara, and it came out.
HOLBROOK Oh Lord. That is a blow, but I can’t say I didn’t see it coming.
JIM Let me help you with that, Gail.
GAIL You finish this. I’m going to go see if I can do something there. (She exits)
THOMAS (Laughing uncomfortably) Right, go do something. Go see how she is. That’s fine. (Yelling after her) I can tell you how she is: She’s perfectly fine! (To himself) Perfectly fine.
JIM Well, she is fine, Tom. Barbara said they didn’t have any kind of confirmation. Maybe it’s not what they think.
THOMAS Right. Gretchen isn’t losing her mind any more than the rest of us. We’ve all misplaced our glasses or cell phone.
JIM The TV remote, the electric bill.
THOMAS (To HOLBROOK) You can’t find your keys. Does that mean you have Alzheimer’s?
HOLBROOK No, but Thomas…
THOMAS That’s hardly a reason to … So what’s the big deal? Who hasn’t had their thoughts get all tangled and … It’s ridiculous.
JIM Lord knows, I’m muddle-headed most of the time. Ask anyone.
THOMAS She was perfectly fine. She IS fine! We’ve been having a great time. (Picks up the road map, then crumbling and throwing it) We’ve been having fun, damn it!
JIM And you two will still have fun.
HOLBROOK But her daughter has some reasons for believing she has Alzheimer’s.
JIM That’s what Barbara said, although they don’t have the tests back to prove it.
THOMAS Barbara. It was fine until Barbara stuck her nose in it.
JIM You can’t say this is all actually her fault. She’s just looking out for her mom.
THOMAS It’s too much that we’re having fun, fun that she couldn’t control. She’s making something out of nothing, seeing what she wants to see, because she can’t handle that her mom might actually have fun in her life. That her mom might actually still have a life period!
JIM Now, you can’t really think that she’d…
THOMAS Because, God forbid, if Barbara ever had any fun, she’d turn into a pillar of salt. So she makes up this crap. That’s what this is. She worries herself into believing it and won’t let it go until everyone jumps on board and believes it, too…
HOLBROOK This would certainly be extreme, don’t you think, to invent a situation like this and put Gretchen through it all just to make everyone believe something like that. You’re not being logical.
THOMAS Well, I’m not believing it, Barbara!! … I’m around Gretchen all the time. I haven’t seen … (considering) I mean, it’s not as if there’s a single indication that…
HOLBROOK I don’t know, Thomas. Maybe you’re wrong.
(THOMAS takes the handcuffs from HOLBROOK, realizing that the signs have been there and he hasn’t wanted to see. Turning and looking to where she’s exited)
THOMAS So what Alzheimer’s? It’s not as if… That only means that… (considering the consequences of it).
HOLBROOK Yes, it may mean exactly that. (Pause, letting the weight of the realization soak in)
THOMAS (Yelling after GRETCHEN again) What is it you want from me, then?! A party?!
JIM No, no. Come on. It’s not her fault, either.
THOMAS Well, I did want a party. I didn’t want this.
JIM Of course not. Here, why don’t you sit down.
HOLBROOK Yes, sit down. Catch your breath. This isn’t good for anyone.
THOMAS This isn’t what I signed on for.
JIM No one jumps in line for this, my friend. But it happens.
THOMAS This isn’t my storm, Jim! This isn’t my sickness! I’ve already done this once and I’m not going to do it again.
JIM What do you mean? Do it again?
THOMAS I’ve spent my whole life carrying the load, being the man, holding the hand until death parted us. I buried my heart once. Once was enough! ENOUGH!
HOLBROOK Your wife?
THOMAS Yes. Yes, my wife.
JIM Oh gosh, Tom. I’m really sorry. I didn’t know what happened there.
THOMAS It wasn’t Alzheimer’s with her. It was cancer.
JIM That must have been hard, unbearably hard.
THOMAS You have no idea. And just when I think I might survive, there might still be a heartbeat in this old chest… Now you want me to handcuff myself back to the heartache.
JIM Nobody’s asking you to do that.
THOMAS I’m sorry this happened. Geez, I can’t even tell you how sorry I am. But I’m fighting like hell to be something more than just old.
JIM I think we’re all fighting for that. You can’t give up that fight either. The minute you do, it’s all over.
THOMAS It was too hard to fight my way back to life before, and now I’ve got other things. Things to live for. And dealing with … caring for … How do I do that again?!
JIM I can’t answer that one for you, my friend. That’s one you have to settle between you and your heart.
THOMAS I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think it’s in me.
JIM We don’t always know what we can do until we’re tested.
THOMAS Tested? And if I fail that test? Then I’m just a heartless monster. That’s what I am and that’s what I have to live with.
JIM It’s not like that. You know it isn’t like that.
THOMAS She has to live with her, her whatever it is, disease, illness, diagnosis, whatever. And I have to live with the hand it looks like I’ve been dealt. She’s got her world. I’ll be in mine.
JIM Tom, you don’t even know for sure what it is. Maybe it’s not even Alzheimer’s at all.
THOMAS Yeah maybe it’s not and maybe it is. (He exits)
HOLBROOK Why did I not know about any of this?
JIM Don’t beat yourself up. None of us knew.
HOLBROOK Oh, I knew about the testing. Why did I not know about this relationship between Gretchen and Thomas?
JIM It’s not as if you give a girl your letterman jacket and class ring at this age. Besides, it looks like it might be a moot point now.
HOLBROOK But it’s my job to be on top of the lives of my residents.
JIM Just goes to show how sneaky us old folks can be. Don’t turn your back for even a minute.
JACK (Entering) Hey, Jim. How’s it going?
JIM Oh hey there, Jack. I’m glad you’re here.
HOLBROOK I’m going to go follow up on all of this mess. If you see Thomas, please remind him to move his car. And let me know if you happen to see my set of keys. (She exits)
JACK I just came by to see my dad. I’m guessing he’s in his apartment.
JIM Wait, Jack. Before you go down there, you should probably know some things.
JACK Is there still friction around here because of last night’s Great Escape?
JIM No, it’s something more than that. About Gretchen. Your dad’s pretty upset.
JACK Uh oh. Lover’s quarrel?
JIM Sit down, son. They think Gretchen might have Alzheimer’s.
JACK Alzheimer’s? You’re joking. She’s a little zany, but I wouldn’t think…
JIM Her daughter’s had her in for testing.
JACK Barbara took her for tests? Wow. That explains a lot. How did you find all this out?
JIM We were all in here just now and it got blurted out. I think Gretchen didn’t want anyone to know.
JACK Which means Dad didn’t know.
JIM Right. Caught him a bit flat-footed, I’m afraid.
JACK Well, hell. How did he take it? I know Gretchen is pretty special to him.
JIM Yes, she is. They’ve become quite a pair.
JACK My dad hasn’t spent time with a woman since my mom passed. Gretchen seemed like the real deal for him, too. Geez, I bet he is upset.
JIM Talk to him, Jack.
JACK That could be tough. I’m not sure I’d even know what to say. When he locks his heart up, it’s full on solitary. He can be a hard man to talk to on these things.
JIM He’s always seemed pretty open as long as I’ve known him, but I suppose this… This might be a different thing.
JACK Something that serious, it’s not somewhere he’ll willingly want to go.
JIM He said a little bit about how hard it was to lose your mother.
JACK You have no idea. As my mother was dying, so was my dad. When she finally passed, I honestly thought he would just go, too.
JIM That happens sometimes.
JACK But he didn’t. Instead, he got dark and depressed and angry that he hadn’t died, too. It was a hard battle back for him. There were times I didn’t know if he’d make it.
JIM Gretchen, though, seems to really make him happy.
JACK She does. He’s been so full of life again. Like I say, she seemed the real deal for him. This is just so damn tough.
JIM Jack, how often do you get a shot at a real deal anymore?
JACK Not often, that’s for sure. Not often at all.
JIM Not at this age.
JACK I just don’t know if he’s willing, or even able, to take that risk, Jim. Not if it means facing anything like what he faced with my mother. Not again. But going back into that darkness because she’s not there to light up his life can’t be an option either. That, for sure, is NOT an option.
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