A Play in One Act

All For Love

By G. L. Horton
copyright © 2001 Geralyn Horton

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MAXIE, a feisty woman in her seventies, and BARB, her niece, bring in wheelchair. The figure in the chair (TRISTAN) is covered with blankets, wearing a frilly pink sunbonnet that hides the face.

MAXIE: Made it!

BARB: So far. But now what?

MAXIE: I'll do the door chain. You give him some air.

BARB: Aaywaak! (lifts covering from figure's face, then drops it back)

MAXIE: What?

BARB: (standing back) I think he's dead.

MAXIE: (going to wheel chair) Naw.

BARB: He never made a sound.

MAXIE: And a good thing, too. (shakes figure, pats his face) Come on, Tristan, wake up. Rise and shine.

BARB: Maxie, I'm scared. His color's so and he hasn't so much as twitched.

MAXIE: He'll twitch like a son of a bitch, any minute. Soon as the dope wears off.

BARB: I don't like the way he looks.

MAXIE: That's OK. Tristan's not for you, Barbsie. Bertha will think he looks just fine. Well--. Maybe we'd better clean him up, first.

BARB: He's not dirty, he's blue!

MAXIE: You should have seen him a month ago, before we started slipping him the vitamins. Talk about the Living Dead!

BARB: Better than dead dead. What if we've killed him?

MAXIE: Stop worrying.

BARB: I can't find his pulse!

MAXIE: His breathing's fine.

BARB: You call that breathing? He just sort of burbles.

MAXIE: At his age, burbling's fine. It means he's dreaming.

BARB: How in the world did I let you talk me into this?

MAXIE: You're falling for that fiddle player.

BARB: I am not.

MAXIE: Don't fight it. Sentimentality becomes a woman. If you keep ignoring your heart, you'll end up like Bertha: falling into First Love at 73.

BARB: But Bertha was married.

MAXIE: 40 years, but she never loved him.

BARB: That's terrible.

MAXIE: At least she liked him. Some women marry men they can barely stand. Thinking it's a matter of survival.

BARB: If it's a matter of --

MAXIE: Screw survival, I say! All for love.

BARB: Usually I'm sane. Reasonably sane. I should have stopped you, insisted--

MAXIE: Insisted? I only asked you along for your strong back, Barb. Older and wiser heads will do the thinking.

BARB: Older and-- do you mean Bertha?

MAXIE: From the moment she saw Tristan there-- so passive and pasty, lying in his own drool-- Bertha was determined.

BARB: I can't believe--

MAXIE: Tristan, her true Love. How could she bear to look at him, with ketchup and corn flakes down his front? A man so fastidious. A little help, here.

BARB: Bertha put you up to this?

MAXIE: You're right, Bertha hasn't the imagination. But she poured out her heart to me, because she knew I'd do something. Just like you know -- I'll take you in, feed you, find you a job. Lift him up, muscles. Make yourself useful.

BARB: Bertha's wish is our command.

MAXIE: I had my own True Love, my Nicholas...the things I did for that man! (ghastly noise from Tristan, Barb screams and drops him)What's the matter ?

BARB: Maxie-- (laboriously putting Tristan back in chair, continuing wash-up)

MAXIE: It's only right we should help.

BARB: Kidnapping? Battery?

MAXIE: Bertha tried to get Tristan to check himself out and move in with us. But you know how timid Bertha is. She let those bastards intimidate her. Now Tristan's used up his coverage, they'll dump him somewhere even worse, and Bertha will never see him again.

BARB: So you preempt.

MAXIE: They'd make him a zombie!

BARB: That's a step up from! (drops Tristran's limp limbs, he slides to floor)

MAXIE: Cowards! I tell Bertha, you can't be lovebirds and be also a chicken.

BARB: Maxie, you are so-- where is she, then? Bertha?


BARB: Out?

MAXIE: Establishing her alibi.

BARB: Oh, I can believe that. But does she know?

MAXIE: Don't be ridiculous.

BARB: You didn't tell her, did you? You roped me in and just --absconded with him. Wheelchair and all, a little birthday surprise--

MAXIE: At our age we don't bother.

BARB: You told me "Tristan's birthday". You said-- never mind. Why isn't she here? Bertha, throwing herself on her true love's neck? Or on yours, in gratitude?

MAXIE: I told you, she's out--

BARB: Establishing her alibi. We're the criminals, Auntie Max. We need the alibi.

MAXIE: So get the hell out of here and make yourself one, miss smarty pants!

BARB: I can't leave you. God knows what.

(BERTHA: knocks on door, then louder)

BERTHA: Maxine? Maxine, you've put the chain on! Let me in.

(Maxie throws cover over Tristan and wheelchair, whispers to Barb)

MAXIE: Don't say a word.

BERTHA: Maxie, it's me. (bangs even louder) Open the door.

BARB: (whispers) Open it. (MAXIE goes to door)

BERTHA: (off) I forgot my library card. Can you believe it?

MAXIE: (off) Wait here, I'll get it.

BERTHA: (off) In my other purse, or maybe my navy jacket...?

MAXIE: Wait right there, I'm getting--

BERTHA: (enters) Had to ride all the way around and come back, or pay another fare-- (as she hears Bertha coming, BARB gets in the wheel chair with Tristan, pulls covers over them. BERTHA sees BARB)


BARB: Hi, there.

BERTHA: You startled me. With cataracts, my eyes aren't so good, I didn't realize-

BARB: Sorry.

MAXIE: Here's your card. Why don't you hurry back..?

BERTHA: First I think I'd like a cup of tea. What about you, Barbara? It must be chilly in here.

BARB: N-not really. I'd like to help you, but.

BERTHA: No, don't get up, dear, I'm not that decrepit. If you listen to your Aunt Maxine, everybody but her has one foot in the grave-- (Tristan groans. BARB groans louder) Did you say something?

BARB: I groaned. Aerobics injury.

BERTHA:. the way you young people go around injuring yourselves in the name of health-- Why, you're in a wheelchair. It must be serious.

BARB: You could say that.

MAXIE: Not at all, Bertha. Barb will be out of that chair before you can say Bingo. (groans, wriggling, BARB is trying to keep control while TRISTAN is struggling to get up. He suddenly rises, sees Bertha, collapses from shock)

TRISTAN: Bertha!

BERTHA: Tristan! (she collapses)

BARB: Now what?

MAXIE: You work on him, I'll do Bertha.

BARB: Tristan. Mr. Mathers, sir--

MAXIE: Stop that, Bertha! Bertha Biggers, you're too old to faint--

TRISTAN: Bertha? Bertha, is that you?

BARB: Bertha's right here. Easy now.

TRISTAN: Bertha's here? I wasn't dreaming?

BARB: You may have been dreaming, you burbled-- but Bertha is definitely here.

TRISTAN: Where's Julia? Are we all in heaven?

BARB: You're at Maxine's

BERTHA: Maxine?

BARB: My Aunt Maxie.

BERTHA: Maxine, what have you done?

BARB: Kidnapped Tristan.

TRISTAN: She did?

BERTHA: But Tristan's mine! You had Nicholas.

MAXIE: Nicholas is my one and only. I kidnapped this one for you.

BERTHA: Oh, dear, how could you?

MAXIE: It wasn't easy.

BARB: Don't you want him?

BERTHA: You're trying to humiliate me.

TRISTAN: Oh, dear.

MAXIE: Don't you want her, either?

TRISTAN: Dear oh dear oh dear.

BARB: Are you blushing because you do, or because you don't?

MAXIE: At least his color's better.

TRISTAN: I do, but I don't.

BERTHA: I could just die!

TRISTAN: If I'm in heaven--?

MAXIE: You're not.

BERTHA: I could have been.

BARB: Does this dump look like heaven?!

MAXIE: Go! All of you! Drop dead right now, for all the thanks I get!

TRISTAN: Because my wife..

BERTHA: You're married? You never said.

MAXIE: Mather's a Surviving Spouse. Like you. You know that!

BERTHA: I forgot. Like my library card.

TRISTAN: Because my Julia is in heaven if anybody is. And I'd rather she didn't find out... how I feel about..

BARB: Bertha!

MAXIE: About time.

TRISTAN: I made a vow.

BERTHA: Till death do you part.

BARB: Which death did.

TRISTAN: But in Heaven--?

MAXIE: There's no marriage or giving in marriage-- that's if there's heaven at all, which I take leave to doubt.

BERTHA: Maxie!

MAXIE: Whatever. Anyway, up there you all have plenty of time to sort it out. Down here, time's running out. So while the two of you are here . . .

BARB: Maxie, they can't be here!

MAXIE: Why the hell not? There's plenty of room. Particularly after you go off to Seattle with your fiddler.

BARB: I'm not--!

MAXIE: Yes, you are. Git!

BARB: Maxie--! The nursing home, the police, they'll be looking!

TRISTAN: I wouldn't want you to get in trouble. Not on my account.

BERTHA: I don't care! If you cared, you wouldn't care either.

TRISTAN: But I do care. For you, I mean. (stands and embraces BERTHA)

BERTHA: Oh, Tristan. I'm so (begins to cry) happy.

MAXIE: Me, too. I was afraid that we'd kidnapped the wrong man.

TRISTAN: Oh, no. I'm your man. I mean, her man.

BERTHA: My Mr. Right.

MAXIE: So, I think you owe it to yourselves, don't you? To have a little fun?

BARB: Fun? As criminals and fugitives?

BERTHA: How hard will they look?

TRISTAN: An old guy like me?

MAXIE: We dye your hair, fatten you up.

BERTHA: Throw away the wheelchair.

TRISTAN: I'll grow a beard.

BERTHA: A beard?

TRISTAN: If you like beards--?

BERTHA: You're so romantic! (they kiss)

MAXIE: What are you waiting for, Barbsie? Go, go get a life. We don't need you. We're the Three Musketeers. One for All, and All for Love!



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