The Lady Who Lunched, or Who Is Miriam? by Scott Peeler
TIME: The present.
PLACE: The Crow's Nest Restaurant in Santa Cruz, California.
MIRIAM is seated at her table at The Crow's Nest. She has been
waiting for some time, and looks frequently at her watch. Her guest is
COURTNEY: Would you like to order a drink now, madam?
MIRIAM: Not yet, thank you.
COURTNEY: As you wish.
MIRIAM pulls out a pack of Pall Malls from her purse, remembers she
cannot smoke here, and puts the cigarette pack back into her purse.
CALEB rushes in. He kisses MIRIAM.
CALEB: Sorry I'm late, Mom.
MIRIAM: It's fine, honey. How are you?
CALEB: I'm good!
MIRIAM: I'm glad.
CALEB: Thank you for seeing me.
MIRIAM: Of course.
COURTNEY: Can I get you both started with a beverage?
MIRIAM: I'll have my usual, COURTNEY.
CALEB: Coors Light?
COURTNEY: In a bottle or a glass?
CALEB: Bottle'll do.
COURTNEY: You got it.
COURTNEY leaves to make the drink order.
MIRIAM: What's going on, CALEB?
CALEB: Newspapers are disappearing, and they're cutting budgets to
keep from going under. It's getting harder and harder to make it as
a stringer. I need money again.
MIRIAM: What about online outlets?
CALEB: They still haven't figured out how to monetize that.
There's too much free reportage. Anyone with a blog and a GoPro can
post up-to-the-minute news coverage.
MIRIAM: How much are we talking about?
CALEB: Ten thousand.
MIRIAM (sighs): I can help you just this once, CALEB. But you need to
come up with a long-term plan here. You're, what, ten, fifteen years
away from retirement?
CALEB: But journalism is all I know.
MIRIAM: What about technical writing?
CALEB (shaking his head): Mom, I'm too old for that.
MIRIAM: How so?
CALEB: It's a young person's game. You've got to be up on all
the latest technologies.
MIRIAM: I have every faith that you can get up to speed, and show
those millennials how it's done.
CALEB (sighs): Thank you for that, Mom. I'm not feeling so confident
MIRIAM: We all get to that point, sweetie. You're not the first
person who had to reinvent himself in mid-life. When your father left
me, I had to rethink everything. Absolutely everything.
COURTNEY returns with their drinks.
COURTNEY: One Old Fashioned, on the rocks, and a Coors Light. Are we
ready to order food?
CALEB: Oh, shit. I haven't even looked at the menu yet. You go
MIRIAM: COURTNEY knows what I want.
CALEB: Okay, I'll um, I'll have the Black Angus Sirloin.
COURTNEY: How would you like that prepared?
CALEB: Medium rare, but a little on the bloody side.
COURTNEY: Sounds perfect.
COURTNEY leaves to make the meal order.
MIRIAM: Honey, don't lose hope. You're a talented writer. I've
always looked forward to reading your articles.
CALEB: Well, you're my mom so
MIRIAM (interrupting): Nonsense. You write beautifully. Do you know
which article is my favorite?
MIRIAM: A few years ago, you wrote about the dismantling of the old
Ferris Wheel at the Boardwalk.
CALEB: Oh, yes.
MIRIAM: You wrote such a poetic eulogy for her.
A long silence follows this remark. CALEB looks down at his beer.
CALEB: I have so many memories of that ride. There's one I can't
shake. It was 1973 or '74. You and I were riding the Ferris Wheel at
night. Do you remember?
MIRIAM: Was it the night of the blackout?
CALEB: It was. Several young women had been murdered in the Santa Cruz
mountains. A serial killer was suspected.
MIRIAM: I remember.
CALEB: You and I were on the Ferris Wheel when, all of a sudden, the
power went out. All the rides stopped, the midway's lights went out,
and the entire boardwalk was plunged into darkness. We were stuck at
the top of the ride. The people below us began to panic. I remember
the screams. It was terrifying.
But as frightened as I was, I realized I was in the safest place I
could possibly be: on top of the Ferris Wheel with my mom.
MIRIAM reaches across the table and clasps CALEB's hand in hers.
MIRIAM: Someone will need to remember me. I want it to be you.
COURTNEY arrives with their meals.
COURTNEY: Ahi salad for madam, and the Angus Sirloin Steak, medium
rare, for sir.
MIRIAM: Thank you.