by: Chris Mann

Copyright © 2003 Chris Mann

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that Dancing in the Afternoon is subject to a royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional and amateur stage performing, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.

Inquiries concerning all rights should be addressed to the author at chrisallenmann@hotmail.com


A bedroom.

[JILL sings. MELISSA enters.]

MELISSA: You could take that on the road.

JILL: You scared me.

MELISSA: Road might be a good place to be for awhile.

JILL: And go where.

MELISSA: Hell, I don’t know. We could skip from town to town. Let you sing in some nice places.

JILL: I like it here.

MELISSA: She always thought you could make it.

JILL: Yeah.

MELISSA: Haven’t heard you sing in awhile.

JILL: Nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of death.

MELISSA: Is that the saying?

JILL: Does it matter?


[Melissa moves in and kisses Jill.]

JILL: No. [Beat] Jesus, not now.

MELISSA: [playfully] No better time than the present.

[Jill laughs a little as Melissa moves in to kiss her again.]

JILL: Don’t. [Beat] Not today.

MELISSA: The whole day?

JILL: You know what I mean.

[Pause. Melissa gestures towards offstage.]

MELISSA: You’re missing a nice gathering. They miss you inside. Came to see you, you know.

JILL: It’s not like we’re Catholic.

MELISSA: It’s not a wake. It’s a gathering.

JILL: Oh, I see.

MELISSA: Good dancing. I know you appreciate good dancing.

JILL: I went to the zoo today. [beat] I did.


JILL: It’s relaxing.

MELISSA: Bit of a cliche.

JILL: The zoo?

MELISSA: Yeah, the zoo. You don’t read much do you? “I went to the zoo today.” It’s a very famous line.

JILL: I read.

MELISSA: You should come inside...dance with me. Promise I won’t count out loud.

JILL: It was a nice afternoon for a walk.


MELISSA: It went well....this morning I mean.

JILL: Well?

MELISSA: I thought it did.

JILL: I don’t want this party.

MELISSA: Gathering. It’s a gathering of friends.

JILL: Or a gathering.

MELISSA: We need it.


MELISSA: Okay. You need it.

JILL: Dancing? Who the fuck dances after a funeral?

MELISSA: Who the fuck goes to the zoo!?


JILL: Half the neighborhood’s in there. I guess one doesn’t think about that really.

MELISSA: [with resignation] What did you do at the zoo?

JILL: Not much.

MELISSA: Jesus Christ.


JILL: It was cold this morning, wasn’t it?

MELISSA: You feel caged, felt caged....looked at the animals and thought about your mortality. Jesus, it’s not fucking brain surgery to think about mortality on the day of a funeral.

JILL: I was mad!


JILL: Furious.

MELISSA: Of course.

JILL: I was.

MELISSA: Angry....hurt....desperate.



JILL: At them.


JILL: The animals!

MELISSA: Alright.

JILL: Get up off your ass, I say to them. Why the fuck you sitting there.....we got important work to do.....we Got tests to run on you......where’s the keeper....give me a motherfucking scientist. That’s what I’m sayin’ to them, to myself. And I’m yelling, “give me an experiment over here!”

MELISSA: You did not.

JILL: I’m yelling, “give me a fucking experiment on this bastard right here! I want some tests goddamn it!”

[Melissa becomes aware of how loud Jill is and aware of the other people who are dancing in another room.]

MELISSA: Maybe we should sit....

JILL: Tests! That’s what I want. I looked at the bear and thought my god, the tests we could run on that big bastard. Lab mice ain’t doin’ it. We need something big, lot of flesh. Give me one good fucking test that works goddamn it!

[She thrusts out her chest her breasts.]

JILL: Test these goddamn it! Let’s test these! [She points at Melissa’s breasts.] Run a test on those.

[Melissa moves in to calm her down and she grabs both of Melissa’s breasts, hard.]

JILL: Give me a test on these!

MELISSA: Ow. [Pulling Jill’s hands away, gently. Melissa continues to hold Jill’s hands.] Ouch. That hurts.

[Jill touches Melissa softly.]

JILL: Of course it does.

MELISSA: We’ll test. Stay on top of it.


MELISSA: I promise, first chance I get, I’ll go get a test run for you. [Beat] Now, the punch I made packs quite a kick. Made it special for you. Come and have some with me.

[Jill begins to touch her breasts lightly.]

JILL: Do you ever just touch them, feel of them.

MELISSA: You know how I’m jealous of you. You’re shape and all. I love to....

JILL: [Ignoring her] Not mine, yours. And I’m not talking about raising an arm over your head and having a clinical check around. I’m talking about taking it all in. Getting the whole perspective, the uselessness, the....makes you just want to chop them off....assasinate them before they assasinate you.

MELISSA: [gently] Dance with me.

JILL: I don’t want to be around anyone right now.

MELISSA: Dance with me here.

JILL: Here?

MELISSA: No one to be around.

JILL: You’re around.

MELISSA: Don’t play hard to get.

JILL: We can’t hear the music.

MELISSA: I’ll hum something.

JILL: [laughing] Jesus.

[Melissa begins pulling on Jill.]

MELISSA: Come here.

[Melissa pulls Jill all the way to her and begins to hum. They start to move. Jill begins to hum too as she is drawn in. Melissa kisses on Jill’s neck and Jill laughs.]

JILL: I can’t hum very well when you do that.

MELISSA: Let’s get away for awhile.

JILL: A vacation. Sounds good.

MELISSA: Maybe we find someplace else we like better.

JILL: Jesus.

MELISSA: It could happen.

JILL: Running away isn’t always the answer.

MELISSA: Neither is wallowing around in the guts of it either, waiting for it to just swallow you up.

JILL: When did you have in mind?


JILL: How soon?

MELISSA: Anytime now would be good.

JILL: Now is not a good time.

MELISSA: [pulling away] No time is good for you.

JILL: Bullshit.

MELISSA: You have no more ties here now......

JILL: .....more ties here than ever.

MELISSA: .....and I never had any.

JILL: That’s what you’ve been waiting for.


JILL: Waiting for mother to die.

MELISSA: She thought I was good for you.

JILL: She never understood you, us.

MELISSA: I want to go away. This isn’t even our house.

JILL: It is.

MELISSA: We didn’t pick it! We’ve done nothing together that hasn’t been dominated by family roots. Heritage and all that.

JILL: My family.


JILL: Well, you’ve said it now.

MELISSA: Don’t make a bigger deal out of it...

JILL: What? How.....death is a big deal. How does one make it a bigger deal!? You sit around and calculate and wait for people to die so there’s no more interruption in your life.

MELISSA: Our lives, goddamn it!

JILL: She was not an interruption!

MELISSA: I loved her too!


MELISSA: She treated me like one of her own, whether she understood us or not.

JILL: Go have some punch.

MELISSA: She hated this place! She talked about it all the time. The allergies, the ragweed, the neighborhood......scrubbing and polishing the woodwork....the hardwood floor....she worked day and night keeping it shining like the sun.

JILL: They’re nice.

MELISSA: She hated doing it. She did it for you. [beat] If we would’ve left, she would’ve been right behind us.

JILL: Bullshit.

MELISSA: I want to leave.

JILL: Then leave. Run away. Always avoiding...running. Well, run then, that’s what you want to do.

[Pause. Melissa exits quickly. Jill crosses to opposite side of stage. Jill looks after Melissa’s exit and starts to follow....then decides not to do so. Jill sits. Pause. Melissa enters with two glasses of punch.]

MELISSA: I even made it strawberry.

[Melissa hands a cup of punch to Jill and then Melissa downs her drink all in one breath.]

MELISSA: It really does have a nice sting to it.

[Melissa takes Jill into her arms. They begin to move a little and it turns into dancing. Melissa starts kissing Jill’s neck and Jill forces one little laugh. She kisses Jill some more with mostly an intent of tickling her and then it gets softer. Jill pulls back a little where she can see Melissa. As she caresses the the side of Melissa’s breast with the back of her hand--]

JILL: I’m sorry about grabbing you....hurting you....

[Jill gives into the emotions of the day and buries her face into Melissa’s chest. Melissa wraps her arms around Jill, completely enveloping her. Melissa hums as they move.]


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