A Full Length Play
By G. L. Horton
copyright © 1990,
UNDER SIEGE aka CHOICES
SCENE SEVENTEEN -- TOO LATE
(Chanting protesters. SHERRIE and EMILY,
laughing, enter the LOUNGE where others are eating lunch.)
I thought I'd piss myself! Gather round, kiddies, this is a great
one! Em's coming up the walk, she's been getting an ice cream
or something, and the assholes think she's a patient! So they
start, "Don't kill your baby!" I rush up to Jackie
Jerkit, and I say, "Sir, This poor woman has Anthropoporieasis
-- if she has a child, she'll die. She was raped by a drug
fiend -- !" There's a young one, pushing a stroller, looks
kind of sympathetic --
Did she offer to adopt it?
No. Her view was this is Em's chance to win spiritual brownie
points. No pain or guilt, they'd be out of business.
So would we!
Still, that woman seemed sincere to me. She thinks of it as a
baby, she's willing to be hauled off to jail --
Willing? They love it. Martyrs for publicity --
Martyrs! Sure. Or shoot and make us the martyrs. Anything to
close us down. And they're winning! State by state! Do you
realize? In the whole state of South Dakota, there is one brave
doctor left! Take a good look out the window, Emily. The Dark
Ages are on the march.
Dammit! Abortion's a constitutional right!
Not in the 83% of the country with no access.
The Dark Ages is right, Sherrie. This is what it must have been
like for the witches. Passing through the roar of hate and
righteousness. Condemned for being women.
Jackie'd burn us all. Including the ones marching with him, Sweetie.
Look at his eyes.
Jackie's a harmless nut.
Harmless? Like the nut who called Sally's home, and asked her
daughter what it felt like to have a mother who's a murderer?
Harmless doesn't go around scaring children so bad they have
to see a shrink.
The worst threat is to harm your family.
Jackie said to me, "I know which is your car. I can get
to your car any time I like." Dumb me, I thought he meant
to slash tires.
Slash our throats. 270 clinics they've burned down, and if you
go by the threats, it's our turn any day now.
There've been more threats? Besides when we evacuated?
The administration won't tell you. The only way you know is if
you see the bomb squad rustling through the trash.
No, actually, sometimes Sally will tell YOU to go looking through
the trash. For a -- package. Or a bag.
A package! But every woman who comes in here has a package. Lunch,
a change of underwear --
I can't tell you how much fun it is to go through it all. Moldy
Danish, used Kotex --
How often does this happen?
As often as those people outside want to make us squirm.
Sally plays it down, and I'm glad. Make a fuss, put it in the
paper, the bigots feel encouraged.
You think we'll be bombed, some day?
Probably. Unless they decide it's too risky, that threatening
the workers personally will close us down quicker than dynamite.
I just wish they'd tell us. You know, Pan Am was warned about
the Lockerbie bomb, but they never told the passengers --
Our patients have enough to worry about. If we evacuate, those
lunatics will be on the phone every day.
Emily, if I were you I'd come in the back way wearing a hat for
a few days. Till the Lifers have time to forget your face.
I'm surprised they didn't spot you. They usually try to work
hard on a new counselor. Get her to quit.
If you look new, or they can sense a weakness. I suppose that's
why they won't let up on me.
But you're so strong! You all are. It's funny, you all seem like
old friends by now. I don't think of myself as "new" any
more: just as less experienced.
MARTHA (fanning herself)
It's the hothouse atmosphere.
SHERRIE (witchy cackle)
Stirring up corruption.
ALLISON (joining the bit)
Listen to the Lifers, and quit, before you turn into us.
MARTHA, ALLISON, JILL, and SHERRIE
(posing in horror-movie attitudes of threat) Get out before it's
(As they all laugh, SALLY enters)
SCENE EIGHTEEN -- THE RAP GOES ON
Front and center, Sherrie. There are six impatient patients in
the green room, waiting to be rapped up and delivered.
Oh, Lord, why me? I can't face it.
It's your turn.
But I did Jill's, before lunch.
SALLY (exits, smiling)
So now you've got to do yours.
Allison, I'll give you five dollars to do my rap.
I'm scheduled for one in half an hour. I won't do both, but I'll
switch with you if you want.
Forget it, Sweetie. I'll -- (falls back.) I can't! I've crashed.
(ALLISON gets behind and moves SHERRIE's
arms, working her like a puppet. SHERRIE lip-syncs as ALLISON
does the RAP.)
ALLISON (gets faster and faster)
Now, once you're finished with your counselor, you'll go to a
waiting area, where you'll stay till the doctor's ready. Then
a medical assistant will take you to the procedure room. Now,
the first thing the doctor will do once he has his gloves on
is a simple pelvic exam: two fingers in the vagina and then
he pushes on your stomach -- (grotesque
reaction from SHERRIE)
-- to feel the size and position of your uterus. Then the doctor
will insert a speculum --
SHERRIE (breaking out)
And don't complain, Sweetie, you've had something bigger than
that up there, or you wouldn't be here!
(SHERRIE pulls herself together and with
exaggerated bravado, goes to face the RAP)
JILL (to MARTHA)
Couldn't we do this stuff with videotape? Like the stewardess
does it on an airplane. Hold up the little oxygen masks, in
case blah, blah, blah ... "And then you'll feel some bumping
Which some ignorant people might call "pain"!
I served jury duty last year: Even the judge is on tape now,
telling you the "procedure"! (starts
Why not us? The boredom gets to you after a while, begins to
infect your relationship with the individual woman. (exit)
ALLISON (rapid, motormouth mimic)
What about Elise? Fastest mouth in the west. She brags that she
can go through the whole rap in fourteen minutes flat, including
the B/C demonstration. Does the questions and the answers too,
to save time: "you feel pretty good about this, don't
you?" Processes thirteen patients a day, not seven, like
you mortals. The administration loves her! Aarrgg! (mimes
tearing her hair)
EMILY (stops ALLISON's exit)
Allison? Are you all right?
Your line is, "Do you want to talk about it?" (little
Do you? I don't have a clue as to what "it" is.
You mean the "it" that gets to you? Or the "it" that
brings a person in to work here?
I don't know. If you'd rather not --
ALLISON (leans back against the door)
What I've been asking myself is, is "it" the same?
Paul and penance. My ex and my -- You really want to hear this?
I met Paul at school. He was charming and witty and going to
turn his brilliant dissertation into a book -- but no hurry --
his family was Old Money. When he proposed, my family was in
heaven! An apartment in Paris, winters in Spain. Nights, we went
to important parties where Paul told malicious witty stories
about the important people who weren't there. Days, he pretended
to write. Even without his book, he expected one of those important
people to give him a job. But they didn't. All that -- power
-- and nothing for him to do but be nasty. Even then, I might
have stayed married to him. Except I got pregnant. The grandparents
had been hinting, and I'd thought it was what I wanted: a boy
and a girl. But I suddenly realized: I didn't want his. My parents
were appalled. It's been two and a half years, and we barely
(ALLISON exits. Sound of the aspiration
machine, and then EMILY's monologue.)
Buddhists believe that the transmigrating soul waits in the corridor
of heaven, not entering the womb until quickening. Even then,
it's only loosely attached to the flesh, not quite reincarnated.
My friend Walter had a hypnotist regress him to a past life
and he experienced being an embryo inside a girl who had been
raped. Sensing her resentment, her hatred. For her it felt
like an invasion, or a rape that would never end. He tried
to reach her mind, to comfort her. He begged her to send him
back, to spare him this cruel turn on the wheel of rebirth.
Let him come again, as a child of joy!
In Japan they have shrines where women make offerings to the
spirits of the aborted ones. They ask forgiveness and promise
a better life at a more propitious time. I often wish that I
had been raised a Buddhist, so I could believe like that, in
reincarnation. But I don't. Once it's gone, it's gone.
CAROLYN (Thirty-five, shy, a bookkeeper)
I'm really embarrassed, because this is my second abortion.
You don't look like the careless type to me.
I'm superfertile, I guess. I have six brothers and sisters, and
my mother was one of eight. My son Allen was born nine months
after our wedding. I was still nursing when I got pregnant
the second time, run down and catching every germ --
MARTHA (consults chart)
So you thought it best to terminate.
Two years later I was all right, I was ready. We had Christopher,
and then I got an IUD. But when I got an infection and had
to have it taken out, with the diaphragm I was pregnant in
a month! We went ahead and had Jennifer. But two was all I'd
wanted. My own mother -- I suppose she loved me. But she was
too tired or too busy to see that I never felt loved.
It's hard, sometimes.
I hope I've done right with Jennifer. The poor little thing was
born with a bad hip joint, and she was so pitiful with the
surgery. And the bills --! Bob's so good, he never complains. "Don't
worry," he says. But I know he worries.
So you feel you can't afford --
Not just money -- time. I come home from work so tired, now.
And I look at Jennifer and I remember what it feels like to
be a little girl who thinks she's a burden. I can't put a new
baby on top of that. (fade out)
MARTHA (solo spot)
I have two dreams I keep having. One I'm pregnant, and I don't
want to be. I don't know what's happened to the rest of my
family, but in the dream, I'm alone, and afraid. The other
one, I have a new little baby in my arms, my baby, just born,
and I am so happy. So happy. I don't know why I still have
either of these dreams. I've had my tubes tied.
SCENE TWENTY -- DATE RAPE
(Left cubicle. TINA is probably
of Greek background, 17, wearing a modest pink dress with ruffles)
I think we ought to talk about birth control now, don't you?
You don't want to find yourself back here again.
I'll never be back.
The most popular method is the pill. (shows
TINA (Averts her eyes)
I don't want them. I won't need anything like that.
Condoms offer the advantage of protection against diseases like
AIDS, but sometimes it's hard to persuade your partner.
Please. I don't have a partner. I don't want to hear about those
You may be feeling bad about sex, and maybe even about yourself.
But you are in charge of your own body. You can prevent this.
Oh, God. I tried. No one will believe me. I never meant this
-- I was going to stay a virgin.
Somebody who really cares for you won't necessarily think less
of you because you've had sexual experience --
I told him no, but he kept on. He tore my dress, he hurt me.
You're telling me that you were forced? And got pregnant?
That was the only time. I was frightened, so I let him. But I
should have fought. It'll never happen again, believe me.
JILL (to INTERCOM)
Sally, could you come into room 4, please? (to
TINA) People have
different ideas about what names to call things, but what you
describe sounds to me like rape. (SALLY
enters) Rape is a serious
crime. More than a month afterwards, you can still report it
No! I can't do that! You could call it rape. But I can't go to
the police, it was my fault too. I went out with him, I was
in his car. I let him think I was that kind of girl.
But you did say no?
Yes, I said no! I cried, I begged him. But by then he wouldn't
listen. I thought, just a kiss or two, what does it matter?
Give him that, he'll be satisfied. But I should have stopped
him. Kicked him, jumped out --
Why? If you said no, wasn't that enough?
I wasn't strong.
How strong do you have to be? If he's a good person, a friend
of yours, shouldn't he listen?
I was a fool! But I can't accuse him.
Suppose he does this again? To some other woman? Don't you think
that if you can stop him now --
You don't understand. He's family!
You mean incest?
No, no! He's my cousin's cousin. That's who introduced us. Nick
said he was lonely, and depressed because they could send him
back if he doesn't find a wife who's a citizen. So I should
have been more careful, to save myself for marriage.
Were you thinking of marriage with this man?
With him? I would never marry him! I hate him! (stands
says if I tell, if my parents find out, they will force me.
To be his wife. But before I would do that I would kill him!
Could you wait for me outside for a minute, dear?
(TINA exits. JILL sits, shaken)
SCENE TWENTY-ONE -- REALITY PRINCIPLE
Jill, count ten. You can't fix the life of every woman who walks
in here. It's not our job. Just birth control. When you discover
rape trauma, give positive confirmation, give a referral to
the rape crisis center, and then let go of it. We have a schedule.
Sure, give sympathy. However much you've got to spare. But
you have to be awfully arrogant to think that in forty minutes
you can solve her problems. Not just you: any of us. My God,
look at our lives! Look at mine, and I've been a counselor
for years. With three degrees! Now, I know you mean well, but
you don't want some poor teenager to go home without her abortion,
because you spent her time on another patient you felt was
more needy. Count ten. Take a break.
SCENE TWENTY-TWO -- ANGER
(In the LOUNGE. SHERRIE is on phone.
JILL enters and paces, cursing under her breath and aloud)
Mark, we haven't got that kind of money. Your father'd never
stand for it. If she's the right kind of girl, she'll understand
... Well, then, tell her to fuck off! ... I'm sorry. This just
doesn't seem to me like it ought to be a crisis ... OK, OK,
we'll come up with it somehow. But listen, Mark. You've got
to promise me that -- (reacts to JILL) Never mind now, Mucky,
we'll talk about it later. Love ducks. (hangs
JILL (overlaps, on entrance)
Shit, shit, shit! Fucking sonovabitching Shit!!
SHERRIE (to JILL)
Yeah, my sentiments. You got any idea how it feels to be the
parent of a fat white grub? Quarter to one I call him, he's
still in bed! It's a good thing abortion's not retroactive.
(JILL, steaming, doesn't respond) What's the matter, sweetie?
Arrgh! What am I supposed to do with my anger?
SHERRIE (points to window)
Direct it against the enemy.
JILL (opens, shouts out)
Dry up, you fucking assholes! Drop dead! I hope your dicks drop
off! I hope your balls fall down to your knees and you trip
over them! AArrrgghh!
SHERRIE (pulls JILL away, howling)
Sweetie-babe, take it easy.
ALLISON (runs in, shuts window)
What's going on? You'll have Sally in here in a minute.
Worse. The assholes will have the cops on their side.
What am I going to do?
Tell us about it.
That's not good enough! Talk, talk, talk is making me sick!
OK, work it off. Come on, punch at me. Right here, right into
my hands. Punch.
I don't want to, I'll hurt you. I'm so -- (etc.
It's OK, I'm not made of sugar. Punch!
Go on. I do it with my son the boxer.
That's it, good. Punch. Say "huh!" Come on, huh!
Huh. Huh. Huh! Huh!! Huh!!!
EMILY (enters with MARTHA)
Oh, God, stop. Please stop.
ALLISON (stops, hugs EMILY)
It's OK, Emily. It's OK.
SHERRIE (arm around JILL)
Just helping her blow off steam.
You really scared me. If you guys fall apart --
JILL (collapses in chair)
Fall apart. Yeah.
You're all tight. (massages JILL)
Day after day. There's nothing I can do about it.
Battered patient? Or another death threat?
Both -- and that's the least of my worries.
Would you like a cup of coffee? No, don't move. I'll get it.
Let Allison do her magic. No cream?
Is it your sister?
She's gone back to him. I said to her, if you've got no respect
for yourself, Joanne, what about your kids? How can you risk
their physical safety? To say nothing of what it does to their
tender little minds, living with that dickhead. That fucking
time bomb. Didn't Joanne learn anything, watching Mom and Dad?
People don't learn. We see it all the time. That doesn't make
it easier to understand.
I think this calls for the chocolate chips.
Not for Jill! No sugar. Have an apple, Jill. (gives
Thanks. (bites) I hate her! My own sister. I don't feel sorry
for her any more, I feel contempt. How can she do it?
It's easy, staying in a bad relationship. You begin to believe
that's the only kind there is.
She's more afraid of being alone than she is of him.
What about money? Can she feed them?
I've offered her money. My Dad knocking mom around, that's normal
as far as we're concerned. But no self-respecting human should
put up with it! If men all do it, then, fuck it, the race should
They don't all do it.
But why? Why do we let them?
We're fools. Mush heads.
It's enough to make you wish you were a Lesbian.
Or spayed, or something. I am so horny! I go out, I start to
get turned on and then, zap! I freeze. I've seen too much,
I can't believe there's any good ones.
Don't give up, honey. There are good ones. Two or three.
Maybe only two, cause Allison's got one of them.
Is he? How do you tell, any more?
You've seen Trevor, haven't you? Yum yum yummy.
I noticed he seems shy. Which is odd, for a guy who's like the
cross between a donkey and an onion.
A donkey and an onion?
Emily! A joke? All right, a cross between donkey and onion?
A piece of ass to bring tears to your eyes.
Hallelujah! Emily did a naughty!
You know, it's true, though. The first time I met Allison's Trevor,
I thought, "anybody that great's got to be gay".
Funny: I thought so, too! But when he seemed to be coming on
to me, I figured, "what the hell!" If he's genuinely
Really! If Trevor got left out in the rain, he'd melt. I feel
I have to protect him.
Oh -- the facts of life. Us! Sometimes I worry, you know? Five
days a week I wade through all this crap, and then I go home
and try to relate to a guy who thinks people are basically
Just be careful. Has he proposed yet?
We've talked about it.
Take your time. Use your head. He works in a pre-school, you
told me. Right? And then after his master's he's going to teach
junior high. Sure he is. They'll kill him! Two weeks, he'll
be a basket case. What happens to you?
I'm not worried about that. It's me, it's this job. Like Jill
says, you take it all in, it's got to go somewhere.
Maybe he's not the one, then. If you can't share with him ...
No, I've told him a lot. War stories, filthy jokes --
So what's the problem?
I don't know. I look at this beautiful sensitive male who loves
me, and I think, he deserves better. Trevor doesn't realize
what living under seige does to a person. I'm not the beautiful
sensitive female I was before I worked here. Or before Paul
Watch out. I've seen it happen. A woman divorces a scumball to
marry a wimp, and boom! She's a wreck. She's holding his hand
at the same time she's holding two jobs. Believe me: men are
rats because it's a rat race. Wimps are losers.
My husband wasn't. He never earned a lot, that's true, but when
you consider the strikes he had against him -- Maybe some people
would call him a loser: but to me he was a decent, loving,
God fearing man. I expect one day to see him wearing a crown.
Come along, Allison, you and I have patients.
(ALLISON and MARTHA exit)
We've upset her. Martha's so giving, sometimes I forget --
Even saints are entitled, once in a while.
No, they're not. Saints, wives, mothers; servants and whores;
woman have an ordained role. Even a ditchdigger feels he deserves
comfort and care, and if a woman's not giving it --
He gets angry. Whether a person shows it or not, there's anger.
Out there, in the street, in the bedroom, it's the same problem.
Deal with the anger.
Now, wait a minute. What about female anger? Why isn't somebody
worrying about dealing with that?
Somebody is: us. Face it. Women's anger is a woman's problem.
Men's anger is what runs the world. The population of which
is divided up into fools and who --? (cues
JILL and EMILY
"Fools and scum"!
SCENE TWENTY-THREE -- AN INCURSION
So, Ruth, if you'll sit here across from me, and your mother
over there. (THE MILITANT handcuffs herself
to the chair)
RUTH (suddenly frightened)
That woman's not my mother. I've never seen her before.
(ALLISON and the MILITANT speak simultaneously)
Madame -- (to INTERCOM) Sally! Call the police.
We've got an intruder
Don't be frightened, Ruth.
We'll walk out quietly, and
let the police
do their job.
Don't worry, now, we'll take care of you.
There's no reason
to be upset. (exit)
Don't let her pretty clothes
and her phony sympathy fool you.
She's a murderer,
she wants you to be one, too.
The devil's work,
ripping out innocent lives,
sending their mothers to hellfire.
Wouldn't have your sin on my conscience
all the money in the world Don't do it!
(THE MILITANT imitates an infant voice, crying and pleading)
Mama! Don't kill me! Please, Mama
don't kill me.
SCENE TWENTY-THREE -- COLLAGE OF PATIENTS
(This should be
staged in an abstract way, with increasing pressure, so that
it seems that the audience is inside ALLISON's head as she
is less and less able to deal with the stress.)
The three of us were watching T.V. when my girlfriend decided
to go out and get us a pizza. While she was gone, her husband
raped me. I couldn't believe it was happening, it was so fast.
Before this he'd never even made a pass.
Philip is just totally dependent on me. Emotionally. Financially.
I've been trying to ease him out, get him to leave without
having scenes and crises. I've been very careful. My rule is,
no sex unless we use both condoms and foam.
Every time I had sex I took one of my mom's pills, so I don't
understand how I got pregnant. It shouldn't happen. I haven't
even got my curse, yet.
Philip would insist we get married. Even call up my parents and
announce they're having a grandchild! I wouldn't put it past
My brother was sure -- a girl can't get pregnant until she has
periods. So we figured it was OK to fool around. Wrong!
When he got off me, I ran and locked myself in the bathroom.
I was sick in the toilet, twice, and then I took a shower.
When I heard my girlfriend come home, I came out, and there
they were, the two of them, eating pizza. He was eating and
talking and laughing and acting friendly, like it was nothing.
When my mother caught us, first she made all sorts of noise.
Then she kind of calmed down and laughed it off. But then she
made me get a pregnancy test, because I started throwing up.
But a test can be a mistake, can't it? I mean, I'm just a kid.
I don't even have anything up top!
For like four or five years my husband was like real fucked up.
A few times I got into it too. Shooting up to keep him company,
prove I love him, shit like that.
A month or so back I went out with a girlfriend, crying in our
beer, and when I got home I fell asleep in my slip. Next morning
I notice my panties are off, and I'm sticky.
I know where shit like that gets you. I've seen what it does.
So I smartened up and stayed clean, and I kept on Ron's ass
until he got off of the stuff too. He started working a good
job, got into counseling, our marriage was working out, you
know what I mean? I was so crazy happy I decided we should
have a baby!
Well, I'm suspicious: so as soon as the minimum time goes by
I do a pregnancy test. Sure enough, the bastard got me! I'm
not going to tell him. No repercussions. I'm just going to
keep pushing Philip towards the door until I'm free.
Two weeks ago we found out Ron has AIDS. Just like that. A goddam
I told Linette I was sick and I was going home. And I haven't
been over there since. We used to get together all the time.
So now my girlfriend's beginning to wonder. She asks me, "Ruth,
is anything wrong?" But I can't tell her. She thinks they're
happy! She thinks he loves her.
The doctor says there's no way to tell. I might have to watch
over my baby for ten years, not knowing if he was going to
have it too. Is that fucked, or what? I sure don't call that
fair: hitting us like a sick joke, after we go and get our
lives together. Anyways, I can't take that. Looking at my little
kid day by day. Wondering whether he's gonna take sick and
die on me! Ron's mother says, "Don't have the abortion,
take a chance: maybe there'll be something of Ron left alive
that way." But that's not the way I see it.
SCENE TWENTY-FOUR -- CRACKED
(EMILY hears a commotion in the
hall, rushes up to help. BRANDY, a wild woman, runs down the
hall, chasing ALLISON, punching at her. SALLY is in pursuit.)
I'll kill you, you cocksucking bitch! I'll kill you!
EMILY (hesitates, then jumps in)
Calm down, take it easy, what's the trouble here --
(JILL and SHERRIE rush up to join EMILY,
who is wrestling with BRANDY. BRANDY lands a solid punch on
ALLISON, who falls down hard.)
Get her! (Struggle continues ad. lib. BRANDY
is subdued.) Hold
still, Sweetie, or I'll break your arm!
Get your filty hands off me, you bitch. Nobody's gonna touch
me. You hear me? (BRANDY's pinned on the
We hear you. Nobody wants to hurt you. Just try to be calm. Allison,
are you all right?
I'll be OK. In a minute.
Let me up!
When you behave. We'll go downstairs, and see the nurse.
Are you going to be reasonable and come along? Or do we call
the cops? We can sit on you until they get here.
You're the ones should be fucking arrested! (SALLY
looks as if she'll carry out her threat) No! I'll be good.
What the hell set her off?
I wasn't listening carefully. I said the wrong word, a buzzword
Nothing to do with us. She had to stop taking her meds to go
through the procedure. Without pills -- she's got a screw loose.
I'll take her downstairs. She'll be a lamb, now. Won't you?
Allison, how are you doing? Are you going to be all right? (ALLISON
nods) Get yourself a cup of coffee. I'll reassign your next
patient. Oh, Emily? I was on my way up here to bring you this
batch of messages. All of them from somebody named Irene. She
wanted your home phone, but I told her we don't do that.
SCENE TWENTY-FIVE -- A FRIEND IN NEED
(In lounge, ALLISON pours
herself coffee, sits, hugs pillow. EMILY approaches ALLISON,
who gives a rueful smile and waves her away. EMILY consults the
messages SALLY handed her, goes to the phone, sighs, begins to
dial and then changes her mind, puts phone down.)
Sh -- oot!
EMILY (indicates phone)
Not really. A patient -- She wants to be my friend!
You'll have to tell her it's against policy. The more needy she
is, the less you can afford to get involved.
I know. But I feel like --
Right. Shit. A cheat.
Did you give her a referral?
Sure. But she doesn't want a referral, she wants me.
You can't be everything to everybody. Try, and you'll end up
like me. Burnt out and useless. (punches
Allison! Don't talk like that.
You were great, there, Emily. A regular tiger. Thanks.
I forgot to be scared!
Oh, is that the secret?
No. No, it's not. I was scared. But like you told me, nobody's
born brave: courage is a matter of practice.
My God, did I say that? Like an oracle! Let me down off the pedestal,
Em. I wasn't paying attention, and now that woman's in trouble.
I should have seen the signs --
That's crazy. Nobody's perfect. But you're the best.
Emily, open your eyes. Six months ago, maybe. But now -- I'm
rushing through the rap, cueing: "You're feeling good
about this decision, aren't you?"! I see prior abortions
and think, "Great! I won't have to explain the procedure!" Sally
should fire me.
We all have bad days.
Not any more! Trevor's proposed. If I say yes, I'll be out of
here and on my merry way. Three weeks from Thursday.
But -- so soon?
That's the schedule, if we're going to start grad school together.
Less than a month, I'll be wedded and living on the loveliest
campus in the Ivy League. After my degree, I'll get a comfortable
job, probably not Ivy League, but definitely dealing with the
planned children of the upper middle classes. I'll have a tiny
yard with an azalea bush, and my own study full of books, and
Trevor and I will have two point three babies and live happily
But that's wonderful! Congratulations!
Don't tell anyone, yet, will you? God. I'm going to feel like
Shit? A cheat? (ALLISON nods) But you don't owe us. And nobody'll
blame you. Even on a good day, sometimes, I hear the aspiration
machine, I want to go out the door and keep walking --
Don't you dare! If you don't hunker down and give them at least
two years --! Oh, Emily, take care of yourself. Don't listen
to me. I don't even know what I'm saying.
I think you're saying you're sorry to leave. Because of how much
we'll miss you. And your Spanish.
There's plenty of Latina women, if the clinic'd make an effort.
But no, they'd rather hire someone like me: the daughter of
a diplomat, who picked it up from the maids.
While we're on the subject: What's "regla"?
Slang. Like "on the rag".
Oh! Screwed up again!
How's the class going?
OK, I guess. I'm getting an "A", and practicing on
waiters. But in here -- Maybe it's my accent, but the Latinas
I try to talk to are so -- quiet. No anger, no --
Just remember. It's really lonely. Lots of depression. When you
hear "es un pecado" --
Sin! That stops me cold. God. How do I deal with it?!
Emily, I've given up being God. So I don't know! Make sure the
woman wants to go through with it. For guilt, give her referrals.
Give her father Burton's number. Give her a hug. Do whatever
you can, for as long as you can, then give the fuck up! (cries)
Oh, Allison, is it something I said? I'm so sorry. Please don't
cry -- Allison --
ALLISON (laughing and crying)
What the fuck kind of counselor are you? You're supposed to say
it's -- (together with EMILY) -- "OK to cry!" (hug)
SHERRIE (talking to SALLY)
"Romance", she says, and she's so embarrassed! Now that
their children are gone, she and her husband are like young again.
Kids! Valentine's day they went the limit: lobster, champagne.
She's been through the change, that's behind her, thank God. (EMILY
walks up, listens) So Valentine's day they're waltzing, kissing.
Going home he's so excited he has to pull over the car.
Like teenagers! So, like teenagers --! (they
laugh. EMILY smiles)
He comes in here with his arms full of roses. And after the two
weeks of no-touchie, hubby's taking her off on a second honeymoon.
I love him!
Don't you just hate it when you fall in love with the partner!?
(EMILY, laughing, crosses to her next patient)
No, it's good for you. (sings) "All you need is love ...
boobie doopie" (does a little dance)
SCENE TWENTY-SEVEN -- ALKIE
SUE (larger than life)
I'm an alkie. My husband's an alkie, too: but it took him twenty
years to admit it. Now he has, he's been dry since October
Yeah. That's great, that he's dry. Except he hasn't been able
to get it up from October 31st. Which is a real downer, you
So to speak.
Yeah. I tried everything to get it up for him, but nothing worked
until: First day of spring we're watching 60 Minutes and guess
what? After about twenty minutes we had to stop watching 60
Minutes! First day of spring, first time, he gets it to spring
up! So then for about ten minutes we're doing it. Ordinarily
we'd use something, but it's been so long, and the program's
still on, so I kind of forget. And then I felt him coming and
I yell, "pull out, pull out!" But it's too late,
so here I am.
So, as we say in the counseling biz, how do you feel about that?
I am so pissed!
Have you talked about it?
Does screaming and throwing things count?
He didn't hit you?
Him?! That's not how it is with us. I throw, he ducks! (EMILY
laughs) Still, I forgive him. I forgive him because if I'd
been the one couldn't get it up for that long, I wouldn't have
wanted to pull out either!
SCENE TWENTY-EIGHT -- EEK, A MAN!
ALLISON (with stack of pamphlets)
Will you look at this! Springfield's added a program for men,
now. For the partners.
Using men for counselors?
Men? Men won't do shit work, not for shit pay. Twenty dollars
an hour, minimum.
Counseling's not shit work.
That's OK for you to say. You're leaving.
It's maybe a mite more dignified than cleaning houses. Which
I was afraid for a while was all I'd ever be hired to do.
You're not the only one. Agencies think if you spend fifteen
years raising a family, estrogen dissolves your brain.
For men, they probably use real shrinks, eighty bucks an hour!
A man's penis, money's no object.
Tell him for two weeks he has to masturbate, you'd think it'd
drop off. Which reminds me -- Did you hear about the queer
spider? He kept playing with his friend's flies.
No, but I heard about the retired gynocologist who took up part-time
work. To keep his hand in.
Allison, Sally wants us at the front desk. We've got to do another
Shit. Another bomb scare. Tuesday it was three fucking firetrucks!
Guys with hatchets, tromping all over the place.
I was in shock. Thing is, was I in shock because somebody maybe
planted a bomb? Or because there was a man in our room?
It is weird to see a man in here. I come off the elevator, go
up to him and ask, "Can I help you?" meaning "What
the hell are you doing?" OK, Em. Time to play detective.
You know, I think you've got the hang of it. (EMILY's
Being brave. (exit)
SCENE TWENTY-NINE -- NEW GIRL
(SIS is 15, dressed in shorts, halter
and baseball cap. She paces.)
EMILY (enters with KAY)
This is Kay. She's in training, so she'd like to sit in.
Fuck that. I ain't no Guinea pig.
Whatever goes on here is confidential. Kay won't say anything.
I don't give a fuck.
I can leave --
Wait a minute. Is Kay what's bothering you? You'd really prefer
to be private? Because that's your right -- !
Rights? Shit! Listen, I don't care how many of you there are.
Just say what you're gonna say and get it the fuck over!
Sit down, Kay. (to SIS) What is it about this situation that's
SIS (in EMILY's face)
I hate counselors!
You've had a bad experience.
SIS (to KAY)
What Insight! A "bad experience". Hundreds. My whole
Your chart indicates that you have a drug problem.
Shit, no. No problem.
Then, you're feeling comfortable with your decision?
Oh, top of the world.
All this hostility --
SIS (to KAY)
Insight! Shit! She's so fucking sensitive.
Wouldn't you be better off if you let go of some of it?
SIS (jumps up)
Oh, sure, you'd like that. Wouldn't you, bitch? I should spill
my guts out so you can tell it to the DSS! Get me thrown out
of the house while my Dad's free as a breeze!
Is your father responsible for your pregnancy?
None of your fucking business.
If that's so, you need someone to talk to. (SIS
covers her ears, sings a "hate" song to drown EMILY
out) At least
to be with you after the procedure. Psychologically and physically,
you'll be vulnerable -- (touches SIS)
SIS (pulls away)
Just shut up! Leave me alone! I don't need any of this crap.
I've been through it before, it's like rape: the first time's
hard; the second time you know what's coming, you can stand
it. (KAY is shocked and frightened. SIS
attacks her) What are
you looking at, bitch?! Fuck off, you hear me? Get out of my
face, or I'll --!
(KAY runs out)
EMILY (holds SIS back)
Calm down! Take it easy. We're here to help you.
SCENE TWENTY-NINE A
(KAY and SALLY in hall)
I don't know if I'm going to be able to cope with this.
You've done this before, haven't you?
It was volunteer, with the Episcopal ch --
Close enough. This is a different environment, is all. A different
population. Don't be discouraged. Most days it's so peaceful
and civilized around here it's boring.
SCENE THIRTY -- REPEATER
(LIGHTS UP on cubicle. RITA is in heels,
tight pants and a sexy top. She takes out a cigarette.)
After we've finished talking here, a medical assistant will come
and get you and take you to the procedure room. She'll stay
right with you throughout the whole procedure, just in case
you have any questions. You'll go behind ...
RITA (moves her mouth to parrot the RAP,
which she has memorized, from "the procedure room" to
this point, where RITA takes over)
-- I'll go behind a curtain in the corner and undress from the waist down,
cover myself with a paper drape. When I'm cozy and comfy, the doctor will come
in. If I want a woman doctor, tell it to my counselor! She'd love that. Now,
the first thing the doctor will do is a simple pelvic exam -- two fingers in
the vagina (obscene gesture)
I guess you know what's going to happen.
RITA (lights cigarette)
Yeah. I could get a job here.
This is what, your sixth abortion?
You know all the answers. So why are you back?
I want to get my tubes tied. The doctors won't do it.
They'd prefer that you were older than twenty-three --
I'm an adult. That ought to be enough.
If you had two or three children --
One's too many.
ALLISON (trying hard)
But those aren't hard and fast rules. I know Dr. Morvin would--
Crap he will. I've asked him. And. I've tried Mass General, B.I.,
Brigham and Women's, City -- Oh, they'll do it if they can
make me suffer. But I'm not putting up with that shit. I won't
go to any butchershop won't give me anesthesia. And the only
places that'll put me to sleep won't do it because they have
fucking "guidelines". Shit. What do you people care?
You get your money.
Do you want me to check into it for you?
Go right ahead, if you like wasting your time.
You have to have some method --
Forget the pills: pills make me sick.
You heard me.
ALLISON (barely in control)
There's the diaphragm, and the cervical cap --
I'm not putting that skungy crap inside of me.
There's one kind of IUD that --
Oh no you don't. I've heard all about those! Perforations. Infections.
Fucking tube pregnancies. The thing goes right through the
wall of your womb and wraps itself around your organs.
Incidents like that are very rare. In Europe the IUD is --
RITA (smirks, "got ya!")
It happened to my cousin.
All right. That pretty much leaves condoms and foam.
Don't make me laugh. Might as well be fucking an innertube.
So, what are you going to do to keep from getting pregnant?
Nothing. I'm going to keep having abortions.
Your reproductive organs --
I don't care if it all falls out! I don't want to be stuffed
with plastic. And I don't want another kid!They made me have
the one I got, and I fucking hate her.
How about disease? Is AIDS a joke, too?
Forget it. I can't be bothered. It's not like I go around screwing
I can't continue this. I can't do it any more. Shit! I'm waking
up nights, breaking out in hives, yelling at Trevor. For nothing!
Because he lost my place in my library book! Help you? I'd
like to see you hemorrage! I hope you do get AIDs -- except
you'd give it to half of Massachusetts! I'd like to -- Oh,
God. (to intercom) Sally? I think I just quit.
FINAL SCENE -- PARTY TIME
(Lounge. SHERRIE et al. are putting
up balloons and crepe paper streamers, wedding bells, etc. The
actors who have played PATIENTS join the scene as nurses, receptionist,
and counselors who have not appeared before. ALLISON comes in
carrying a bottle of champagne and wearing a bridal wreath, somewhat
askew. ALLISON's tipsy, EMILY becomes so)
Come on, everybody! Have some bubbly.
You're Kay, aren't you? Replacing Emily at the bottom of the
I thought I was replacing Allison.
It's how you look at it. Allison's leaving: Emily's moving up.
ALLISON (shows boxes)
Look at this loot! Tons! Can't even open it all.
From the nurses? (to cheers, she holds up
a brief nightie set of red and black lace)
Trevor's going to love it. Give him such a boner!
"ALMA" -- COUNSELOR #1, Spanish accent
Here's to sunny days and hot nights! (they
It has a matching boa! (gets out boa)
EMILY (wraps it round herself)
I don't believe it! Like a movie star!
(KAY and one of the nurses
try on lingerie over their clothes, striking silly poses
It came with a wonderful card.
You never heard such slop. If Allison reads all this stuff at
once her head will swell up like one of these balloons.
I'm going to start weeping again.
Listen to this: "We've lost our inspiration and model." Whew!
Who's that from? Can I see it? (takes card)
Oh, God! Listen to this one! "If I had been blessed with
a daughter I would wish her to be so much like you. You are beautiful
inside and out. A bed of roses covered with a golden blanket."
That's got to be Alma. Kay! Have you met Alma? Very excitable.
(KAY, embarrassed, puts down the lacey
Look who's talking!
NURSE #2 (holds candlesticks up to breasts)
Who're these from?
We don't know. We can't find the card.
This is so touching. Allison! You're going to have to keep this
card your whole life and read it once a week. "You have
such a beautiful man that you deserve, and I'm so glad for
you! I know you will accomplish great things --"
Not likely -- in grad school.
You don't usually hear that kind of stuff outside of the Academy
Or a funeral eulogy. If Allison got shot in the line of duty
"You have enriched our lives. I will never forget you." Oh,
Allison, that's so true. How will we get along without you?
Cheer up. Probably by next year we'll all be gone.
What do you mean?
How long can we stay open, if it's all-out war? How long will
doctors work here, with the screaming pickets and the threats
and the shootings? Hundreds already have been closed down.
No landlord will rent, the clinics can't get insurance --
We can't give in to them. We've got to fight.
Get us some guns! Firebomb the bastards, see how they like it,
living in fear! (mimes shooting) Ak-ak-ak! Eat lead, Suckers!
Holy shit! Don't call the FBI, Kay. Jill doesn't mean it. Lousy
topic. Say, did you hear what Vanna White said about Roe vs
Wade? "What difference does it make, so long as you get
Have some more champagne.
Jill, please don't eat that.
JILL (puts down fudge)
KAY (holds flip book)
What in the world is this?
That's The Proud Penis. It's a flip book. Go on, flip it.
KAY (flipping, laughs)
Who got you this? I don't believe it!
SHERRIE (points at book SALLY's reading)
Plus an autographed copy of The Joy Of Sex! Whatdaya say, Sal?
Does anybody really do these things?
Do they? Poll the congregation. How many do the Ice Trick?
(JILL raises her hand. ALMA joins her,
Me too! Me! (to JILL) What is it?
Show of hands! Bondage? (MARTHA "confesses", collapses
giggling) Blow jobs? (All hands except
MARTHA and SALLY, cheering)
Sally's not with it. Emily? Do you swallow sperm?
Well -- I used to. But now only if the guy's a vegetarian. (all
laugh) No, really. It makes a difference! (more
Like the Admiral's daughter, who wanted to make a home for discharged
I'll drink to that! (sings and dances)
"Here's to the girl in the little red shoes,
She drinks all the liquor, she laps up the booze,
She has not her cherry, but that is no sin,
She still has the box that the cherry came in"
ALLISON (holds up big box)
Wait till you see the stuff in here! (JILL
fishes some condoms out of the box, blows one up like a balloon,
hands others to KAY to do likewise.) Lubricants, all kinds of lubricants, jelly,
vasoline, oils --
The course of true love must run smooth.
MARTHA (demonstrates spray)
Starch. Just in case.
For the Honored Member.
Oh, no. On a honeymoon?
He shouldn't need encouragement for at least a year!
Counting from wedding or bedding?
Count and measure. It's a good thing, try him out before you
cement him in. My cousin Rochelle, on her wedding night gets
a little surprise: Oh, Sheldon, it looks like a penis, only
Ahem! Time for another toast! To the couple in their New Life!
The blessed institution of marriage --
But who wants to live in an institution?
Shut up, Sherrie. You're just jealous.
Hey, I can't complain. Bubbles and I had twelve good years together.
Twelve out of twenty's not bad.
Can we do the toast, please? May Allison find as much love ahead
as she leaves behind, here.
(A few say "hear, hear!")
MARTHA (continuing toast)
May she know, as I did, the comfort of a faithful loving husband.
And may her path be strewn with roses! (throws
a shower of tissue rose petals)
(The women cheer, toast, and kiss ALLISON.
SHERRIE pulls a huge vibrator out of the box, uses it for a
Is this on? (taps it) A song! Time for a song! "For she's
a jolly good fellow ... etc (others join)
What is this "fellow" stuff!? Do it right. (sings) "For
she's a jolly good person -- " (some
join, some boo)
EMILY (turns tape on, drowning singers)
(EMILY and ALMA dance to the tape. KAY
and SALLY are playing volleyball with the blown-up condoms)
SHERRIE (dances to Madonna tape)
Did you hear about the woman I had yesterday? Her curlers pick
up radio waves from outer space, they're telling her "have
sex, have sex!" (notices tape, stops) What's that playing? "Poppa
EMILY (sings into vibrator)
"I'm keeping my baby ..."!
Get her! (they batter EMILY with blown-up
Are those condoms?!! (batting balloons)
Have some! Help yourself. I've got seven kinds. You like em ribbed?
With faces? Foam!
(JILL squirts the foam, others run screaming
Pills! All kinds pills! (tosses packages
around, prescription and candy pills on strings)
Contraceptives! Just what an engaged couple needs.
MARTHA (commands silence)
But since you'll be married a long time, we hope, and will want
to partake of the joys of family life, we also have for you
a ceptive. (Hands ALLISON box)
What's a ceptive?
A diaphragm with a hole! (cheers)
EMILY (hugging ALLISON)
It's so sad, I can't stand it! You're leaving and then you'll
be a mother and forget all about us and --
SALLY (gathers others and starts singing)
"Should auld acquaintance ..." (linking
arms and swaying)
ALLISON (speechifying over the song, hugging
No I won't! I promise! I'll get my Master's in Social Work, and
I'll come back and take over the clinic! I'll hire you all,
double the pay. (cheers) I'll banish the demonstrators to --
Flatbush. 'N fill all the rooms with flowers! So, Emily, you're
going to hold the fort. (ALLISON puts
her wreath on EMILY)
And -- I'm sorry, I've forgotten your name -- (KAY
supplies her name) -- Kay, here, is gonna be terrific. So --
"... be forgot, and never brought to mind,
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?"
(all form a swaying line, smaltzing it
up, then begin to pick up speed on the chorus, turning it into
a Rockette kick line)
"For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne.
We'll drink a cup of kindness yet, for Auld Lang Syne."
(They collapse in a giggling, hugging heap)
EMILY (steps forward, to audience)
I hope I can have a party some day, like -- In two years, Allison
said. Give them at least two years. Allison lasted for three,
but then Allison's so strong. When I saw her, on that talk
show, she was like a goddess -- Kwan Yin maybe -- summoning
me: "Your sisters are in danger. They need you."
Me? I hardly knew who I was! Thank you, Allison, and ladies
-- all of you -- for -- it's so hard to put into words. I must
have sat for an hour, trying to write what I feel onto Allison's
card. In the end I couldn't -- I just quoted this, from the Tao
Te Ching, The Way of Life:
"If you can continue befriending
with no prejudice, no art;
If all your plans and your learning
are shaped by your loving heart;
If you give birth, and nourish its growing,
and guide without claim or strife;
If you lead the weak without their knowing,
Your way is the Way of Life."