Unfinished by Peter Tarkalas


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


As the lights come up we find Alex stage right on the outside deck.
He is reading instructions on assembling a new barbecue.
The side door opens and in come Francine followed by Ernie. She is
wearing a short skirt with a flimsy revealing top and he is struggling
to carry two large boxes with the logo “Ponce de Leon Corporation.

FRANCINE: (Calling out). Brenda. We're here.

Brenda comes out of the kitchen wearing an apron with a notebook and
walkie talkie in one of the pockets.

FRANCINE: I hope we're not late. Traffic from the warehouse was

BRENDA: Did you pick up everything?

ERNIE: Do you mean did I pick up everything?

FRANCINE: I think we got it all.

BRENDA: (Staring at Francine's attire.). Hi Ernie.

ERNIE: Howdy.

FRANCINE: What's wrong now? Don't I look presentable enough for

BRENDA: You know how important tonight is don't you Francine?

FRANCINE: Don't I know it.

BRENDA: And you do have to make our presentation in front of a lot
of people.
(She starts tucking in Francine's blouse). I was thinking of
something a little bit more you know conservative.

FRANCINE: You're worse than mom. This is conservative.

BRENDA: Really?

ERNIE: If you don't mind my interjection Brenda. (He turns to
Francine.). What your sister's talking about is wearing something
where there's less a possibility of one of your boobs popping out and
injuring someone. (He giggles while struggling to hold up the boxes.)

BRENDA: Thank you Ernie.

FRANCINE: I can't help it if I'm well endowed.

BRENDA: Yes we all know what an accomplishment that is. (She
finishes adjusting Francine's outfit and stands back to look at her.)

ERNIE: Francine. These boxes aren't exactly frigging light. Where
do you want me to put them?

FRANCINE: (To Brenda). So what's the plan for tonight? Oh wow
look at that. I got “the plan” stuck in my brain.

BRENDA: Me too. (Referring to the easel). I've had this up for
the past week giving me inspiration.

FRANCINE: (Looking at the easel). That's all I've been thinking
about. “the plan this, the plan that." I haven't been able to get
any sleep at night being so excited about it.

ERNIE: (Sarcastically). Me neither.

BRENDA: I was going to lay out the food here, buffet style and
you could do the presentation in the living room.

FRANCINE: Yeah well at least that room is almost finished.

ERNIE: They're not getting any lighter.

FRANCINE: Stop whining Ernie. Put them in the living room. I'll
sort them out there.

ERNIE: Finally. (He struggles going down the hall)

FRANCINE: (To Brenda). He's such a baby sometimes.

(Alex comes in through the patio doors and walks past them towards
the garage.)

ERNIE: Hey Alex.

(Alex doesn't acknowledge any of them. He just grunts. Ernie
continues into the living room. Alex to the garage.)

BRENDA: Speaking of babies.

FRANCINE: Still mad at you huh?

BRENDA: He thinks we're using our friends for financial gain.

FRANCINE: How can we be using them when we're giving them an
opportunity of a
life time? (Slight pause.) Did you explain that to him?

BRENDA: Till I was blue.

FRANCINE: Well then tell him to climb down off his high horse for
God's sake.
(Slight pause.) You watch once he gets his hands on all that
extra money that's going to be coming in he's going to be kissing
the ground you walk on.

(Alex enters carrying a tool box and walks directly across the stage
to the porch without acknowledging anyone. They both look at

BRENDA: And when is this act of worship supposed to take place?

FRANCINE: As soon as you start reminding him of all the sacrifices
you make. (Brenda looks at her.) Whenever I do anything for Ernie
even boiling an egg I make sure he damn well knows that I am
doing something really special for him.

BRENDA: So you make him feel guilty?

FRANCINE: Whatever works.

INEZ'S VOICE: Brenda. Brenda. Are you there? (Brenda picks up
her walkie talkie. Inez hasn't yet figured out how to use it and has
not released the send button.)
Where are you Brenda?

FRANCINE: What's that?

BRENDA: A walkie talkie. This book I was reading on living with
seniors recommended it in case she falls or has a stroke.

FRANCINE: She upstairs?

BRENDA: When I told her we were having company come over she kind of

FRANCINE: Freaked out huh?

BRENDA: All of a sudden she couldn't breath so she went upstairs to
lie down.

FRANCINE: That's good. I'd rather have her up there whining than
down here
driving us mental.

BRENDA: Poor you. You get to go home. I'm stuck with her twenty
four seven.

INEZ'S VOICE: Brenda are you there?

BRENDA: She hasn't quite got the hang of it. (She walks over to
the staircase leading upstairs and shouts.) You have to release the
button when you want to hear the other person. (To Francine.)
I've explained it at least a dozen times. There's only one button
how hard can it be? (Francine takes the walkie talkie and studies

FRANCINE: One button too many.

BRENDA: She never had a problem pushing our buttons.

INEZ'S VOICE: Brenda. Why aren't you talking to me?

(Brenda goes up the stairs. We hear the following conversation over
the walkie talkie. During this Ernie comes back and looks at the
placard and then flips it over. The first is titled “Our Goals. The
things we want out of life.” and has a picture of a large house set
in a country estate. Then there would be a summer cottage. A ski
chalet. Some high end cars. University education for the children.
And so on.)

BRENDA'S VOICE: When you want to talk you press the button. And
when you want to hear you release it.

INEZ'S VOICE: Oh. Well you could have explained that to me. I'm
not a mind reader.

BRENDA'S VOICE: I have explained it.

INEZ'S VOICE: No you haven't.

BRENDA'S VOICE: Yes I have mom. You just decide that you don't
want to listen to me.

INEZ'S VOICE: Don't bawl me out now.

BRENDA'S VOICE: I'm not bawling you out mom.

INEZ'S VOICE: How could I listen if you don't tell me anything?

(The walkie talkie clicks off. Pause. Brenda comes back)

BRENDA: I'm the one who's going to be having the stroke.

FRANCINE: Once the business gets going it's off to the old folks
home for mom.
(Brenda looks at her.). Putting the old bat away would be the first
thing on my list.

ERNIE: (Still looking at the placards). Brenda. I'm still trying
to figure this out.
This page has all the prizes we can win right?

BRENDA: They're not prizes Ernie. They're all the things that we
want out of life
nice houses cars all the things that will make us happy fit
into this large smiling circle.

ERNIE: Oh yeah. What about wives that listen to their husbands?
Are they in there too? (He smiles at Francine who glowers at him.
He flips the page.) So what's with this small sad circle? That
must be where my Frannie lives? (He giggles)

FRANCINE: Keep it up buster.

BRENDA: That represents our incomes. So what most of us have to do
is shrink
all the things that we want into this tiny little circle. (Slight
pause.) Which leads us to live what's the word Francine?

FRANCINE: Unfulfilled.

BRENDA: That's the word unfulfilled lives. (Getting more
excited.) So the beauty with “The Plan” is we take this little
circle and make it bigger.

ERNIE: I get that. Make more money buy more stuff be

FRANCINE: There's more boxes in the truck for you to bring in

ERNIE: Maybe you should have married a mule or a donkey.

FRANCINE: I thought I did.

ERNIE: Ha ha. You're a riot Francine. (He exits out the side

BRENDA: A little extra money would solve a few of our problems.

FRANCINE: Money solves everything.

BRENDA: What about love?

FRANCINE: (She waves her hand dismissively.) We did everything ass
backwards Bren. The way you're supposed to do it is to marry for
money first then marry for love.

BRENDA: Really?

FRANCINE: (Looking over at Alex's musical equipment.) Look at all
this stuff. No wonder you don't have any money Brenda. He keeps
spending it.

BRENDA: A client didn't have enough to pay him so Alex took it
in trade.

FRANCINE: Uh-huh. Isn't that what he told you when he dragged in
that giant boat you still have in your backyard? (Slight pause.)
You can't really call that a boat can you? It's the size of your
house technically you have to call it a ship. (Brenda shrugs her
shoulders.) And that big ugly school bus you have sitting up on
cement blocks in your driveway.

BRENDA: You know the story with that.

FRANCINE: All I know is it's giving Ernie ideas about getting one
for himself.

BRENDA: Tell him he can have ours.

FRANCINE: Don't you dare. (Slight pause). Why do you let him
run all over you? Start all these projects that you know he's never
going to finish?

BRENDA: It keeps him occupied.

FRANCINE: What is he. A border collie?

BRENDA: He gets more miserable than usual when he has too much spare

FRANCINE: Really? I'd kill to have more free time on my hands.
(Slight pause.)
If he needs something to do tell him to finish this house for
god's sake. He's got enough here to keep him occupied (She looks
around.) at least till the end of time. (She exits into the
living room)

(Brenda exits out to the deck and stands there looking at Alex.)

ALEX: (He turns to look at her). Don't worry it'll get this
done in time.

BRENDA: Are you still angry with me?

ALEX: You've got to stop with this bullshit that I'm always pissed
off at you.

BRENDA: Could've fooled me. (Alex lets out a sigh)

(Ernie comes in carrying more boxes but drops off a six pack by the
powder room and goes into the living room.)

BRENDA: (Alex is reading the instructions). The reason I came out
was I need to go over a few things with you before you start
raising your voice and jumping up and down like an idiot. (She
consults her notebook.)

ALEX: What is it?
BRENDA: Grant and Helen are coming earlier and I've asked Helen to
take a look at our broken dishwasher.

ALEX: Sure. See. I'm not raising my voice.

BRENDA: I just hope she doesn't get sloshed again.

ALEX: What do you expect living with my brother not to
mention the man
that calls himself my father.

BRENDA: You always take her side don't you? You never take mine?
(He turns his head away and mutters an expletive). Anyways I've
asked Ernie to fix the plumbing in the powder room.

ALEX: Ernie?

BRENDA: You gave me no choice Alex. I begged you a million times to
finish it.

ALEX: You want Ernie running around here with tools in his hands?
How much
insurance do we have?

BRENDA: He's your brother in law why are you so mean to him?

ALEX: Mean to him? I let him come to my house, drink all my beer
eat all my food for such a skinny guy I don't know where
he puts it.

BRENDA: I want a finished powder room and that's all I'm going to
say about it. I'm
not going to be having all these people tromping up and down the
stairs to use the bathroom and giving mom a heart attack.

ALEX: Okay. Now I see where this is coming from.

BRENDA: What's that supposed to mean?

ALEX: Nothing.

BRENDA: At least I speak to my one remaining parent. (Slight
pause.) After you finish putting the barbecue together you can take
your shower I put out a change of clothes for you. And after that
you can start the barbecue. (She rips off a page and hands it to
him.). Here's the itinerary for tonight.

ALEX: (Reading from the list) Finish eating by 2100 hours. Coffee
at 2115 hours. Francine starts her presentation at 2130 hours. (He
looks up.). She's not going to do her stupid karaoke routine is she?
(He looks back down on his list.). Presentation ends at 2230 hours.
More coffee and cake and discussion until 2300 hours. Jesus Brenda

when did you join the army?

BRENDA: Ha ha ha.

ALEX: Seeing as you like to schedule everything how come
there's no sex on this list it's Friday night.

BRENDA: (She anxiously looks up at the second floor of the house.).
How many times have I told you Mom"s got ears like a bat. (Turns
to look at him.). I just assumed we'd be too tired tonight.

ALEX: The story of our lives. (He looks at her. She walks to the
door.) Are you happy Brenda?

BRENDA: Happy? What kind of question is that?

ALEX: It's not a loaded question. A simple are you happy
are we? (Slight pause.) Maybe it's something we should talk about?

BRENDA: Right now?

ALEX: No. I don't mean right this very moment.

BRENDA: I know it would have made me happier if you had come to some
of those meetings with me shared some of our enthusiasm. (He
turns away.). It's not like you think. (Slight pause.). If you want
to make me happy then I need you to be supportive tonight
which includes being sociable to our guests and being nice to me
and my sister and to Ernie too. Can you do that?

ALEX: I'll try.

BRENDA: And try not to pick a fight with your brother.

ALEX: As long as he doesn't start one.

(Brenda exits into the house)

[End of Extract]


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