Linda Hutsell-Manning

Author

CLARA (moves through cabin doorway, outside) I half expect to hear the car, see them trudging up the road from a day's exploring. There's a full moon tonight and last night.
  FAINT WOLF HOWL
  Maybe La Loba has been out there... the old desert woman collecting bones... singing to her skeleton, waiting for it to fill out with flesh, become a live wolf... waiting for the wolf to turn into a young woman and disappear...
  FAINT WOLF HOWL
  There it is again. It can't be a wolf, they always travel in packs. I remember walking with dad, after dark, down the tractor road behind the wood lot. Wolves started howling in the distance. Little ones at first, yipping their high energetic barks. A mini chorus. Then a longer howl joined in and a second and a third until they split the sky with their urgent, mournful cries. We stood, held by the sound until, slowly, it died down to black silence again. I've always been afraid of the dark, terrified when I was a kid...
 
FLASHBACK: CLARA IS SIX OR SEVEN
AGNES (enters through doorway) I don't know why you make such a fuss night after night. You'd think I had nothing better to do than take you up to bed.
CLARA Read me a story, Mommy. You promised, the rest of Little Red Riding Hood.
AGNES Where were we then?
CLARA The wolf was in Grandma's bed dressed like Grandma and Grandma was hiding in the closet.
AGNES That's not the version I remember.
CLARA What do you remember?
AGNES In the real version the wolf ate Grandma, dressed up in her clothes and climbed into her bed. "Oh Grandmother, what big ears you have," Little Red Riding Hood said.
CLARA The better to hear you with my dear." Has Grandma turned into the wolf?
AGNES That's what he wants Little Red Riding Hood to believe. "What big hands you have, Grandmother."
CLARA "The better to catch hold of you with, my dear." But what if Grandma did turn into a wolf?
AGNES It would be a different story. "But Grandmother, what big teeth you have."
CLARA "The better to eat you with my dear." Why is the wolf always bad?
AGNES You just told me. Because he eats people.
CLARA But maybe Grandma wanted to be a wolf.
AGNES I can't finish the story if you keep interrupting.
CLARA What if Red Riding Hood wanted to be a wolf?
AGNES (closes book abruptly) It's time for you to go to bed.
CLARA We could read another story.
AGNES I'll leave the hall light on.
CLARA Please don't go yet, Mommy.
AGNES I shouldn't be reading you scary stories.

Act One, Scene Two

(FRANCINE'S apartment, early morning. Half finished sign, LASALLE MUSIC SCHOOL propped against piano. Back of daybed faces DS, table with phone in front of it. FRANCINE asleep. Phone rings five or six times before FRANCINE'S arm gropes over the back to retrieve it)

FRANCINE Yes? What? A collect call from who? A doctor ? Emergency? (sits up) Oh God, My mother. Yes, yes I'll accept the charges. Hello, hello? Who is this? Dr. Allan Fairfax? (pause) Allan, you jerk. (slams down receiver) You miserable bloodhound. How did you find me here? (Stands) What time is it anyway? (phone rings, FRANCINE grabs receiver) You can tell Allan Jerk Fairfax, for me, that I will not accept a collect call from him anytime, anywhere, ever. (pause) You don't relay messages? Right. Well I don't accept collect calls. (slams down receiver, turns on light, goes to kitchenette, puts on kettle, paces) ) Two months in Kraymer's Corners, three full time singing students, ten kids for beginner piano, drama classes at the local Senior Citizen's Centre and, maybe if I'm lucky, a short directing gig for the Kraymer Community Theatre. So far I'm paying the rent. I'm independent. I'm managing. Dr. Allan Fairfax. Collect. You're really scraping the bottom, Allan. Bad writing. What you need is a script writer. For your life. (pours coffee, turns on radio, upbeat music) Okay. Today is... Monday. (Rushes to piano) Someone has a lesson. This afternoon? Somewhere, a list. (Papers fly onto floor, phone rings) Oh no you don't, Allan. (phone keeps ringing) Someone calling about lessons? Too early. (phone keeps ringing) All right, but if it's you Dr. Fairfax I'm hiring a hit man. (fiercely) Hello... Oh, hello Mr. Pasquali, right... Oh... oh, yes your lesson at nine this morning? (pause) A little earlier - eight-thirty perhaps? (pause) Oh no, no problem, no problem at all. (pause) In about thirty minutes? See you then... (hangs up) Antonio Pasquali, Kraymer's Corners most eligible bachelor. European, comfortably well off and wife-hunting. My luck. The challenge - to keep him focused... on singing. (pushes papers under piano) What to wear? ( rushes to coat rack, dithers) The silk... too clingy. Pant suit... Too tight. Something professional and not too revealing. What about... No way. Ha! This will have to do. (Takes outfit, exits to bathroom)
RADIO ANNOUNCER (song fades) And now the news all you out-of-town fans have been waiting to hear! This year CFQJ's "Small Town Big Talent Contest" will be held at the community centre in Kraymer's Corners. Two weeks to get registered. All you KC musicians out there, this is your big chance! (cut to song)
FRANCINE (races out half dressed, opens dresser drawer) silk scarf... where is that long silk scarf... ( finds it) Yes. (exit to bathroom)
  DOORBELL RINGS
FRANCINE (sticks head out door) The door's open. (ducks back)
ANTONIO (enters sweating and winded, jogging in a Gortex running suit, knapsack on back. Throws knapsack on table, keeps high stepping round the room) 23:02. Best time yet. ( pulls jacket off, retrieves spray cologne from pocket, sprays under arms, chin while walking) 5K warmup before a lesson - perfect for lung expansion, perfect for keeping in shape. (Does grandiose arm stretches)
RADIO ANNOUNCER (song fades) And just to remind you out-of-town- fans once more, this year CFQJ's "Talent in a Small Town Contest" will be held in that lovely little town, Kraymer's Corners. Call the station 437- CFQJ for details. (music up)
ANTONIO Kraymer's Corners? A talent contest here? (sings a few notes) Antonio Pasquali you are one lucky man. Meat Market king for twenty years and, now, a professional singing teacher providing you with your own Italian aria. How can I lose? (Performs a few tango steps) With such charm and talent I am practically famous. (props song sheet on piano, jogs behind day bed, drops down to do pushups)
FRANCINE (enters, looks for ANTONIO) Mr. Pasquali? (turns off radio)
ANTONIO Eleven, twelve, thirteen... (calls) One more set. Fifteen, sixteen...
FRANCINE Oh yes, the pushups. How silly of me to forget.( Looks over ANTONIO'S music) Whatever happened to this? (music is blotched with pinkish-brown water stains)
ANTONIO (jumps up, rushes to grab FRANCINE'S free hand, kisses it) Good morning, lovely lady. It is my good fortune to be here again.
FRANCINE Tye-dying your music, Mr. Pasquali?
ANTONIO (cheerfully) An unfortunate incident in the butcher shop. Meat cleaver in one hand, music in the other. Half way through the second verse it fell into a pig.
Poetry Short Stories Novel
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