Action by Julie Ufema


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author’s PRIOR consent


ACT I

      Scene 1

      (We are in the living room of a VERY wealthy Beverly Hills couple.
      There is a beautifully appointed adjoining dining room.  The house is
      extravagantly decorated to the point of gluttony.)

      (On the upstage wall are large double doors, the front entrance of the
      house.  Just Stage Left of these doors is a small closet.  Next to the
      closet is a window.  Stage right of the double doors is a another door
      that opens to a hallway that leads to the second floor of the home.)

      (Far Stage Left is a swinging door that leads to the kitchen.)

      (A sofa, coffee table, bar, and grandfather clock are placed around
      the room.  A dining room table with four chairs, covered by a long
      tablecloth, almost touching the floor, is placed stage left.)
      (It is late afternoon, present day.)

      (MELINDA LAUDERDALE enters through the hallway door, biding time,
      pacing and looking anxious.  She is waiting for someone.  She’s
      drinking some orange juice.)

      (There’s a light tapping at the window.)

      (MELINDA eyes up a nice looking man, a PRIVATE DETECTIVE, holding a
      manila envelope.  Her face lights up.  She scampers to the window and
      opens it up.  She snatches the envelope out of his hands and anxiously
      tears into the pictures inside.)

      (The smile on MELINDA’s face fades as she flips through them.  She
      glares at the PRIVATE DETECTIVE who shrugs his shoulders looking
      sorry.  He reaches out to comfort her in an overly familiar way.)

      (MELINDA pushes the PRIVATE DETECTIVE back out the window with a
      disgusted grunt and whips out her cell phone.)

      MELINDA: (agitated) Jacks!... Drop whatever it is you’re doing and
      come over here right away… I don’t care… Just listen to me… No,
      YOU don’t understand, this is definitely more important… You’re not
      going to believe it!... Now shut up and get your ass over here!!!

      (MELINDA hangs up her cell phone.  She glances around the room a bit,
      grabs the pictures and flips through them one more time looking even
      more disgusted.  She shoves them back in the envelope.)

      (MELINDA goes over to the bar and pulls out some vodka.  She adds it
      to her glass, stirs it, takes another sip and smiles.  She grabs an
      empty pitcher, fills it generously with more vodka, adds some orange
      juice and then sets it aside.)

      (There is a light knock at the front door, and without waiting for it
      to be answered, in walks MELINDA’s neighbor, JACKIE.  She is pulling a
      white paper ‘bib’ off from around her neck.)

      JACKIE: (annoyed) So what the hell couldn’t wait until I was done with
      my botox session?

      MELINDA: Relax Jackie.  What I have to show you will tighten up your
      face for good!

      JACKIE: Oh please Melly.  What kinda crazy scheme are you trying to
      rope me into now?

      MELINDA: Hate to break it to you Jacks but this is no scheme.  I’m
      about to do you a favor.

      JACKIE: A favor huh?  Like the time you decided to help me ‘interview’
      a new pool boy.

      MELINDA: I got one helluva sunburn that week…

      JACKIE: And then there was the time you volunteered my home when the
      local animal shelter burned down.

      MELINDA: In all fairness, I just had my carpets cleaned.

      JACKIE: Oh, and my personal favorite, when you were sure you could get
      us our own reality show by starting a puppy handbag business!

      MELINDA: Hey! Those handbags were a great idea. It’s not my fault PETA
      didn’t understand that the handbags were made FOR puppies.

      JACKIE: (snide) Well the picketing in your driveway was kind of
      reality show worthy.

      (JACKIE giggles.)

      MELINDA: Yeah, alright, alright - look!  I realize that a few of my
      ideas have fallen through…

      JACKIE: A few???

      MELINDA: (cutting her off) But this has nothing to do with that.  In
      fact, originally, this had nothing to do with YOU at all…

      JACKIE: What the hell are you talking about?

      MELINDA: (excited) This is big Jacks. REALLY big.  Like ‘Dynasty’
      big!

      JACKIE: Oh for crying out loud… I don’t have time for this.

      (JACKIE turns back toward the front door, ready to leave.)

      MELINDA: Actually Jackie, you don’t have much time at all…

      (MELINDA pours JACKIE a drink and shoves it into JACKIE’s hand.)
      (cont.) Here.  Have a drink.  You’re going to need it!

      JACKIE: (growing more aggravated) Now what the hell is that supposed
      to mean???  If you’ve got something to say Melly, I wish you’d just
      say it!

      MELINDA: Well Jacks, I’m just not quite sure how I should put this.
      (beat)  I have some good news, and some bad news.  (over enthusiastic)
      Which would you like first???

      JACKIE: Oh for Christ’s sake Melly.  Just get on with it!

      MELINDA: OK, OK.  I was trying to be nice!

      JACKIE: As if!

      MELINDA: Obviously, you are well aware of the fact that I am, (beat)
      discontent with my marriage.

      JACKIE: Safe to say the entire male population is aware of that…

      MELINDA: (snipping at JACKIE) Well, that being said, I hired a private
      investigator to follow my ‘housekeeper’, ‘maid’, whatever - assuming
      of course, she was having an affair with my husband.

      JACKIE: (snorts knowingly) Good assumption.

      MELINDA: (smug) But surprisingly, she wasn’t.

      JACKIE: (surprised) What?

      MELINDA: Nope.  Not with my husband anyway.

      JACKIE: (intrigued) Really?

      MELINDA: Well, she is sleeping with a married man all right, (beat)
      but he isn’t married to me.

      JACKIE: Oh for crying out loud.  What are you talking about?  (coyly
      interested, she leans in to MELINDA.) Who is she sleeping with?

      MELINDA: It’s hard to believe…

      JACKIE: Oooh!  I know, I know.  Is it that dirty old, washed up rock
      star from next door?  (elbows MELINDA) He’s ALWAYS coming on to me.

      MELINDA: Oh please! He still snags groupies half your age (beat) or an
      occasional sexy, younger neighbor…

      JACKIE: Whatever!  Then just tell me who the hell is it???

      MELINDA: Well, that would be the ‘bad news’ I suppose.  (beat)  Well,
      bad for you anyway…

      JACKIE: (becoming increasingly agitated) Will you just spit it out!

      (JACKIE takes a good swig of her drink.)

      MELINDA: (matching JACKIE’s volume)

      She’s sleeping with your husband!

      JACKIE: (spit-take, enraged)
      What??? What are you talking about?  That’s not possible.

      MELINDA: (refilling JACKIE’s glass) Oh, but it is.

      JACKIE: What proof do you have?

      MELINDA: How about pictures?

      (JACKIE belts down her drink and sets the glass on the bar.)

      (MELINDA grabs the manila envelope sitting on the living room coffee
      table.  She tosses the envelope into JACKIE’s arms.)

      JACKIE: (tears open the envelope and begins leafing through the
      pictures with disgust) Oh my God!

      MELINDA: (filling JACKIE’s glass again) Oh just wait.  (beat)  It gets
      worse.

      JACKIE: Worse???  How can it get worse???

      MELINDA: Well, if you shuffle through them, there’s a really nice shot
      of your hubbs showing my maid your pre-nup. (leans over JACKIE, finds
      the picture and points at it)  Looks like they’re giggling.

      JACKIE: (exploding) That son of a bitch! Pathetic, lying, cheating
      bastard!  She can’t be half his age!

      MELINDA: (looking over her shoulder at the pictures again) He still
      seems to have a lot of energy though.

      JACKIE: And her! I’m going to kill her!  KILL her!!!  Let me at her!
      Where is that little tramp?

      MELINDA: Oh, Amber had the morning off.  (smirking) Good thing too.
      I’m sure she must have been exhausted.

      JACKIE: Is this funny to you Melinda?  Is my complete humiliation
      somehow amusing to you?

      MELINDA: (handing JACKIE back her glass) No actually.  It’s
      depressing.

      JACKIE: (drinking) What are you talking about?

      MELINDA: I’ve been waiting for years to find some dirt on my perfect
      husband.  Three PI’s and thousands of dollars later all I’ve found is
      dirt on yours.  (fills her own glass again, drinks) At least this
      good-looking investigator was well worth his fee…

      (JACKIE looks back through the pictures.)

      JACKIE: What is so bad about your marriage that you have to go around
      digging up dirt on mine!

      MELINDA: Look Jackie.  Your husband is a dog, sure.  But at least he’s
      still got cash.  You can at least try to get a piece of that.  My
      husband is a pathetic, washed up action star with a bum knee.  He’s
      got no ‘piece’ left to take.

      JACKIE: So getting a little ‘piece’ of something is the height of
      happiness for you Melly?  (beat) Ha! Listen to what I’m saying.
      Getting a piece is your own personal national past time!

      MELINDA: (defensive) Hey! Better than a piece of nothing in your case
      ‘Miss Pre-nup’. Don’t you think?

      Jackie: (exasperated) Enough with the damn pre-nup!

      (JACKIE refills her own glass.)

      MELINDA: (laughing) Can’t believe you’d sign such a thing…

      JACKIE: Contrary to popular belief Melly, some of us aren’t in it just
      for the money.

      MELINDA: Well I certainly hope you still feel that way cause you’re
      about to find out what it feels like to live without any…

      JACKIE: Aside from you taking pleasure in torturing me, why am I
      here?

      MELINDA: Relax Jacks! I have a plan…

      JACKIE: (completely sarcastic) Oh thank God.

      MELINDA: You’ll be thanking ME soon enough.

      JACKIE: I seriously doubt that.  Now why am I still standing here?

      MELINDA: Because I’m about to turn your bad news… into good news.

      (Suddenly the front door swings open and in walks CHANCE LAUDERDALE,
      the dashing, 30 something husband of Melinda.  He is sweaty, breathing
      heavy, wearing running clothes and appears to have been outside
      exercising.)

      CHANCE: (dashing) Hello ladies!

      MELINDA: (changing to charming) Darling!

      JACKIE: (flat) Hello Chance.

      CHANCE: What are you up to on this beautiful day?

      MELINDA: (goes over to CHANCE and pets him adoringly) Nothing at all
      my darling.  Just chatting with Jackie here about where we might do a
      little shopping this weekend.

      CHANCE: Well you girls go crazy.  Nothing is too good for you baby.

      MELINDA: (under her breath to JACKIE) Unless it involves cash.  And
      we’re running seriously low on credit.

      JACKIE: What’s on your agenda today Chance?

      CHANCE: Big day Jackie!  Got a callback for an insurance company
      commercial.

      JACKIE: (unimpressed) Ooh.

      CHANCE: Sure it’s cable access but you never know who’s watching!

      (The PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR pops up in the window over the couch,
      looking in on the group.  He quickly writes something down on a
      notepad.)

      (MELINDA eyes up the PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR peeping in the window. She
      winks and waves at him inconspicuously.)

      (The PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR snaps a picture, using the flash and ducks
      away.)

      (CHANCE and JACKIE look around, confused.)

      MELINDA: (distracting them) Yes Chance. You NEVER know who’s
      watching.

      JACKIE: (interrupting MELINDA) Chance, I thought the surgeon told you
      not to go running on that bad knee of yours anymore.

      CHANCE: (proudly) I know Jackie, so I didn’t actually go running.

      MELINDA: What do you mean?

      CHANCE: I just went outside and ran in place for an hour.

      JACKIE: (rolling her eyes, drinking) Oh brother!

      MELINDA: (trying to get rid of CHANCE) Chance honey, why don’t you go
      take a shower and get ready for your audition.  Jackie and I need to
      discuss our book club’s luncheon menu.

      CHANCE: Yeah, OK, I certainly can’t go like this.  I’m supposed to
      play a jogger but the television public doesn’t want to smell a
      jogger, right baby?

      (JACKIE rolls her eyes and shakes her head.)

      (CHANCE leans in to give MELINDA a kiss but she backs away from his
      ‘smell’ with a sour look on her face.  CHANCE smells himself and makes
      a similar face.)

      CHANCE: (cont.) Whoa! Maybe two showers! (he exits through the hallway
      door)

      MELINDA: (rolling her eyes) Riiiight.

      JACKIE: (waits for CHANCE to leave)

      Book Club!  Ha!  Closest thing to a book you’ve ever picked up was a
      gardening magazine lying on the chest of your 19 year old grounds
      keeper.

      MELINDA: Well at least men are still interested in handling my
      landscaping!

      JACKIE: Don’t you mean excavating?

      MELINDA: Excuse me???

      JACKIE: Must take full time help to bury all the skeletons bursting
      out of your closet.

      MELINDA: (with a sour face) Heh, heh, heh…

      JACKIE: Must look like Halloween year round in your bedroom.

      MELINDA: (Cutting JACKIE off again.) All right, all right!  Can we
      please get back to the problem at hand?

      JACKIE: Sure Melly.  Can’t wait to hear about this plan of yours.
      (taking another big swig and raising her glass) Seems I could use a
      good laugh right about now.

      MELINDA: Because of your crappy marriage we’re about to laugh all the
      way to the bank.

      JACKIE: Really?  And just how do you propose you turn my bad marriage
      into our good news?

      MELINDA: I’ve thought of a way that we can BOTH get exactly what we
      deserve.

      JACKIE: (disbelieving) This outta be rich.

      MELINDA: (excited) No Jackie, WE outta be rich, filthy rich and famous
      to boot.  (beat - ringing her hands) And I have the perfect plan to
      make that happen…

      JACKIE: The only plan I’m interested in is getting rid of your
      housekeeper!  When I get my hands on her I’m going to kill that little
      slut.

      MELINDA: Close, but not quite…  We’re going to get rid of (pause)
      our husbands!

      (At that very moment the hall door opens back up and an almost
      completely naked CHANCE pokes his head out wearing nothing but a
      towel.)

      (JACKIE and MELINDA are startled.  They jump nervously.)

 

[end of extract]




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