A man stands behind a lectern downstage right, facing the audience, and reads the story which has been preset on the lectern in front of him. He should appear young and boyish. At the same time, a woman stands behind a lectern upstage left which is at right-angles to the man, her hands placed on the sides of the lectern which is empty in front of her. She is older than he and attractive. Throughout the man's reading, the woman's eyes never leave his face. Both performers should be dressed in somewhat formal attire - the man in a suit, the woman in a tailored dress - the kind of apparel one might wear when giving a formal reading in a formal setting.
A Little Bell Gone Berserk
He wondered about her. He was twenty-two and wrote plays that sounded like he knew all about women, fingering them, fucking them. In the writers' colony kitchen, he joked with her about the beans he was cooking in his lentil soup and how he didn't know they swelled up to twice their size and she said how could he really know since he was only twenty-two. And he said how his was a vegetarian lentil soup, no meat, and she said she only wanted meat in her soup and looked him straight in the eye without blinking. He didn't know if she was putting him on or what.
When she wasn't looking he'd examine her face. She was awfully pretty, but old. She must have been close to forty. Brian said she was thirty-six or thirty-eight but with all her credits, all the things she had done, she might have been even older. He especially liked her eyes, a certain blue-green he had seen in old marble. And when he said something funny, usually when he thought he was being serious, she would laugh and laugh like a little bell gone berserk. It got him hot when she'd laugh like that. He wanted to kiss her all over her face and hug the laugh right out of her.
Brian told him that her husband had OD'd on something when he was forty-two and that's all she had ever said about him. They had been married for nine years and he'd been dead now for two-and-a-half. She never discussed other men except to go to the local bar every night and sometimes come back and joke about the locals who made passes at her. And she wrote letters every day, to someone named Ben, who never called her and never wrote her back. One time when he asked about the letters, she gave him a funny smile and looked out the window.
Her body looked great. At least with clothes on, he thought. Really gorgeous breasts. But that could have been the bra, maybe without it they wouldn't be so firm and pert. But the ass-Beeeutiful! It was all he could do not to smooth his hand over its curve or take a little nip out of it when she passed him in the kitchen.
He wondered what it would be like to lose his virginity with her. First of all, would she do it or look at him like he lost his marbles if he were to try and suggest it. Jesus, he thought, how do you suggest such a thing to a woman like that! Especially when she thinks you're such a sophisticated writer for your years and maybe even thinks you could teach her a thing or two.
But when he finally got her to take him to bed, she was all gentleness and concern and controlled passion. She told him he had a beautiful cock and smoothed it back and forth with her hand like it was fine ivory and kissed it as if soothing it of an old hurt. And she sucked on his nipples too which embarrassed him at first, he thought only fags liked that, but she assured him all the men she had known liked it and it was a man, a black man even, who had taught her to do it. He fell asleep in her arms.
The next morning she made him breakfast and talked of plays, his and current ones. She was certainly pleasant enough, but there was a certain officiousness about her. Her eyes had marble-ized. They looked harder than he had ever seen them. He didn't refer to their sex. He was afraid she'd hit his wrists with a ruler - it was that kind of feeling.
She told him to keep in touch. But he didn't. He was afraid of her. And besides, he knew how to do it now, even knew some tricks, and could get someone his own age for the duration.
Black Duet, 1984, Laura Foreman, paint on grey canvas.