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KISS MET
A Ten Minute Play

by Keith A. Kenel

Cast of Characters

Jean Rose: Female. Sixty-four. Dressed casually. Cocoa skinned, beautiful, silver haired patrician. Strong, stoic and beaten down.
Willy Rose: Male. Sixty-eight. Dressed in pajamas. White and jaundiced, old beyond his years. Failing physically. Suffers from memory loss.
Adam Kassem: Male. Twenty-six. Dressed in scrubs. Turkish descent, fourth generation American, no “foreign” accent. Registered Nurse, muscular, athletic, patience of a saint, upbeat. 

Scene

Room in a nursing home. A bed with a nightstand that holds some monitors. Two semi-comfortable chairs separated by a small table. Both the table and nightstand are heaped with drawings and scribbles. A door frame with a door that opens outwards represents a bathroom.

Time

The present.

SYNOPSIS: No longer able to shoulder the burden of caring for her declining husband Willy, Jean Rose places him in the Sisters of Mercy senior center where physical therapist Adam Kassem roams with him through a confused fog that alternates between the real and Willy’s memory world.

SETTING: Early morning, May 11, 2019. Willy is sleeping in his bed. Jean, with a laptop on the table, is working.

AT RISE: There is a soft knock on the door as ADAM enters with clipboard.

ADAM:
(From Doorway.) Oh! Pardon me! Didn’t know Mr. Rose had a visitor. Should I come back?

JEAN:
(Rising.) No, no. Please. (Motions for ADAM to enter.) Come in. I’m Jean, (Takes three steps toward door and extends hand.) Willy’s wife.

ADAM:
(Smiling and nodding as they shake.) Ah. Pleasure. I haven’t met Mr. Rose yet. I’m Adam.

JEAN:
(Smiling and nodding in return.) Pleasure to meet you, Adam, and call me Jean. You definitely haven’t met Willy yet. He won’t abide folks calling him, “Mr. Rose.” Tell you that was his daddy’s name. (Beat) His memory’s pretty bad.

ADAM:
We get that a lot, MS Rose.

JEAN:
(Smiling and nodding.) I’m sure you do. And please, Jean. I’m glad you showed up. I left some papers out in my car that I need but didn’t want to leave Willy alone until he wakes up? He gets pretty discombobulated sometimes. Discombobulated’s one of his words. He uses it a lot.

ADAM:
(Nodding.) I see. Willy was just admitted Monday, right? On the sixth? I’m scheduled to do his physical abilities evaluation. (Waves clipboard.)

JEAN:
Oh, yes. I was told about that. And yes, just since Monday. I just. Couldn’t. Anymore. You know? God bless him.

ADAM:
(Nodding.) I understand. We can all only do so much. I’m on the weekend crew here at Sisters, that’s why I haven’t met Willy yet. His evaluation’ll take a while so please, feel free to head to your car.

JEAN:
Thanks. I will. If he wakes up would you please tell him I’ll be right back? If he’s talkative you’ll probably want to focus on things from the past, not current events.

ADAM:
(Nodding and checking WILLY’s monitors.) Okay. I can do that. (Smiling as he turns to JEAN.) Anything else?

JEAN:
(Gathering her purse.) No. (To WILLY.) Willy, I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere. (Nods to ADAM as she exits.)

(ADAM looks at monitors unaware that WILLY watches him.)

WILLY:
(Perplexed but not concerned WILLY silently watches ADAM for four seconds before speaking.) Who are you?

ADAM:
Mister, er, Willy! Good morning! Welcome to your new home. I’m Adam Kassem, your physical therapist? We’ve got a physical assessment scheduled. (Taps clipboard.) Jean just stepped out to her car, said she’d be right back.

WILLY:
You know Jean? Quite the hottie isn’t she? What do you mean, “New home?”

ADAM:
You’re in Sisters of Mercy? Jean tells me you just moved in on Monday? This is a care facility. (ADAM nods at and points to WILLY’s groin.) You need to scoot to the bathroom or are we too late?

WILLY:
Too late? Too late for what? The ball? Get it! The ball! No, it’s not too late. I’m in an old folks home, aren’t I?

ADAM:
Sisters of Mercy is a care facility for seniors. Bedpan or walk to the john?

WILLY:
I thought that was bedpans and broomsticks? Or is that bedknobs and bedpans? Either way it’s not too late. If we hurry!

ADAM:
(Checks WILLY’s monitors.) Alright, let’s try. (ADAM pulls the blanket and top sheet down and then carefully helps WILLY sit and then stand.) If we make it, great, but if not no worries, the Depends will take care of you.

WILLY:
(WILLY, with assistance from ADAM, rises with difficulty.) Oh, God. Not that. The boys get really irritated when they’re soaked in piss. No sirree, Bob! To the John, uh, what was your name again?

ADAM:
Adam. My name is Adam.

WILLY:
Adam? Like Adam West! Right! To the John Mobile, Batman! Did you ever see that movie?

ADAM:
(Walking slowly with WILLY to bathroom, ADAM’S hand in crook of WILLY’S elbow.) Batman? Sure. Which one?

WILLY:
(Stops and looks at ADAM.) Batman! No! Bedknobs and Broomsticks. You seem a bit discombobulated. I saw that Christmas Day back in Aspen Hill. Did you see it?

(WILLY and ADAM continue walking. WILLY moves slowly and with difficulty.)

ADAM:
I don’t think so. Last Christmas?

WILLY:
Last Christmas? No! Seventy-one. We’d just moved to Maryland. I was pretty miserable. (Beat) You weren’t born in seventy-one, were you?

ADAM:
(ADAM steps in front of WILLY and opens bathroom door.) Nope. Not till nineteen-ninety-one. (Helps WILLY into bathroom then exits leaving door open.) Where’s Aspen Hill?

WILLY:
Just north of DC. That’s where my parents are interred. Gate of Heaven mausoleum. I used to tease Dad that he belonged in a mausoleum. Wish I hadn’t now. He was good people. So was Mom. You were born in ninety-one? So was my son Thomas! Do you know him?

(Toilet flushes.)

ADAM:
(Enters bathroom. Sound of water running. Assists WILLY out.) Thomas Rose? Doesn’t ring a bell. Does he live around here?

WILLY:
No. Not anymore. Grew up here. Lives in Florida now, near Tampa. Or maybe Raleigh? You’d have to ask Jean. She’s my wife. Have you met her?

(ADAM helps WILLY to chair.)

ADAM:
Jean? Yes, sir! She just stepped out to the car. Said she’d be right back.

WILLY:
Oh, good! Once she comes back she can take me home. She’s a hottie. And so strong. Inside and out. Big muscles. Not like yours of course. Does triathlons. I was wondering where she was. You grow up around here, uh, Alan?

(ADAM spots WILLY who has difficulty sitting in chair.)

ADAM:
Adam, sir. Jean does tris? Me too! In fact was I down in Florida racing just last month. Did the Dunedin Triathlon? That’s near Tampa. And yes, I sure did. Grow up around here that is. Went to Jeff? Class of 2009. (ADAM turns chair to face WILLY then sits.)

WILLY:
Thomas was class of oh-nine! Kennedy though. Did you know him? Good cross country runner. Varsity all four years!

ADAM:
Really? I ran cross country too! Doesn’t ring a bell but I’m sure we met.

WILLY:
I thought you said your name was Alan Scott?

ADAM:
Uh, no. Adam Kassem? Isn’t Alan Scott The Flash?

WILLY:
What?! No! Barry Allen’s The Flash! Alan Scott’s the Green Lantern. You like superheroes?

ADAM:
Superheroes are okay. Here, we’ll start with some warm up exercises, just do what I do.

(ADAM raises both arms in the air three times. Dialogue is concurrent to evaluation. No pauses. ADAM jots down notes as evaluation proceeds.)

WILLY:
(Bends elbows three times in feeble attempt to comply.) Dunedin’s in Ireland, right? We visited Dunedin when Jean worked for Transitions. That’s not a sex-change company, they make those photosensitive glasses? (Beat. Recognition of fact.) You know you’re right. There is a Dunedin, Florida. We did a triathlon there with our boy Tom a couple springs back. My last race. Jean’s still competitive. You race much?

ADAM:
(ADAM thrusts his left arm out at shoulder height then slowly turns it three times in big circles from the shoulder.) Yep. Very active, but I’ll have to cut back after this season. My wife’s expecting.

WILLY:
(WILLY lifts right arm to hip height and slowly turns it three times in small circles from the elbow.) Oh, how wonderful! You know, now that I think about it Thomas and Kay-Dee moved to Raleigh. Or there about. You’ll have to ask Jean. I get discombobulated. You familiar with Cedar Rapids?

ADAM:
(ADAM thrusts his right arm out at shoulder height then slowly turns it three times in big circles from the shoulder.) Yes, sir. Graduated from Jefferson. Same year as your son Tom?

WILLY:
(WILLY lifts left arm to hip height and slowly turns it three times in small circles from the elbow.) You know Tom? He moved to Florida a few years back. You married?

ADAM:
(Stands, rubs top of his head while patting belly.) I am. Her name’s Amy. We’re having a baby.

WILLY:
(Stands with great difficulty then rubs both top of head and belly.) Pretty sure Amy’s having the baby, Adam. Don’t they teach you anything in nursing school anymore? (Big double eyebrow raise. He’s kidding.) Any names picked out? I assume you’ve eliminated both Cain and Able?

ADAM:
(Reaches both arms out to form a capital “T” and does two forward sweeping circles.) For sure: No Cain, no Able. Amir if it’s a boy and Aisha if it’s a girl.

WILLY:
(Reaches both arms out to hip height and does two small, floppy forward sweeping circles.) Aisha? How lovely. One of  Muhammad’s brides, right?

ADAM:
(Surprised.) Are you a Muslim?

WILLY:
Me? No, I’m not anything but old. Been to the Mother Mosque and feasted at Eid al-Fitr though. You practice Islam?

ADAM:
(Bobbling his head.) Depends on who you ask.

WILLY:
I know who Aisha was but who’s Amir?

ADAM:
(Sits in chair, folds arms at chest as he stands three times.) Family name. My great, great grandfather. Came over from Turkey just before World War One.

WILLY:
(Sits in chair, pushes off table extensively as he stands three times.) Ah! The genocide. Was he involved?

ADAM:
(Bends at waist, knees straight and touches toes. Insulted by question but still professional.) Certainly not. (Calmer.) He married a Christian woman. As did I.

WILLY:
(Bends at waist, knees bent and touches knees. He is oblivious to his offense.) Me too. My wife’s name is Jean. Have you seen her?

ADAM:
(Very empathetic.) Yes, Willy. (Rises up on tiptoes three times.) Said she’d be right back.

WILLY:
(Struggles to barely rise up on tiptoes once.) She’s a hottie, isn’t she? Once she gets back I’ll get out of your hair. When’s your baby due?

ADAM:
October tenth. (Holds both hands in front of WILLY, palms forward.) Resist my push. That’ll be my last day here. My full time job’s down at University of Iowa Hospital.

WILLY:
(Meets ADAM’s hands and resists ADAM’s push.) October! What a great month. Know when I met my wife?

ADAM:
October?

(ADAM nods and stops pushing against WILLY’s hands.)

WILLY:
October? No. June sixth! In Oxford. Mississippi, not England. Know what she told me when I introduced myself? “Jean Tierney, no relation.” Isn’t that great! “No relation.” Not that she couldn’t be related. If Gene Tierney had gone ahead and married Aga Khan they might a had a daughter who looked a lot like Jean. That Gene Tierney was a hottie, just like mine! Know when we got married? May fifth! Pretty neat trick, huh?

ADAM:
(Suspicious.) (Stands on left foot only for 3 seconds.) You married Jean before you met her? How did you do that?

WILLY:
(Stands on right foot only for fraction of a second.) What? No! Different year! You’re discombobulated, boy. No, no. We met six-six-eighty in Oxford and got married five-five-eighty-four in New York.

ADAM:
Well that should make remembering your anniversary easy. Wait!? So, happy anniversary! You just celebrated, what, thirty-five years then, right? Good for you!

WILLY:
Did we? I guess so. But listen, it gets even better! Jean’s birthday is nine-nine-fifty-four! And mine’s four-four-fifty-one? How’s that for kismet?

ADAM:
(Stands on right foot only for 3 seconds.) Maktab’ Allah! How fortunate.

WILLY:
(Attempts to stands on left foot only but fails.) It gets better! Tom’s birthday is one, one, ninety-one.

ADAM:
You almost make me believe in numerology.

WILLY:
(Singing.) “They call me Jzero.”

(ADAM is perplexed.)

WILLY:
No? Cat Stevens? Numbers? I have it on vinyl. Our Tom is about your age. When were you born?

ADAM:
April thirteenth, nineteen-ninety-one. Good job. You may sit. (ADAM sits.)

WILLY:
No Simon says? (WILLY sits.) April thirteenth? That’s when Hank Aaron had his Major League debut with the Braves. They were in Milwaukee back then. Man was booed. Terrible. Course that was 1954. Times have changed.

JEAN:
(JEAN reenters room Carrying manila folder.) Sorry that took so long. Got a phone call. Willy! You’re up! Good morning, my love!

WILLY:
(Beaming at the sight of JEAN.) Jean! Holy cow!

(WILLY surges to his feet and spreads arms wide. JEAN embraces him.)

WILLY:
Where you been, sweetheart? I missed you! Ready to go home? Oh! My manners. Sorry. Jean, this is Alan Scott. He used to race cross country with Thomas! Does tris too! Alan, my wife Jean.

ADAM:
Jean Rose? Formerly Jean Tierney of New York? Why of course I know who you are. (Offers his hand.)

JEAN:
I see my reputation precedes me. Did I miss hear? I thought it was Adam, not Alan? (ADAM smiles and nods empathetically as they shake hands.)

ADAM:
Well, yes. I must not have enunciated. It’s enough to get anyone discombobulated. And last name’s Kassem, but that’s fine.

WILLY:
Ha! Discombobulated! Great word. It is Adam, isn’t it? Sorry.

ADAM:
No problem whatsoever. Willy? MS Tierney? If there’s anything you need please let me know? I need to finish my rounds.

WILLY:
No, no. Thanks for the visit. Maybe we’ll meet again someday. I’ll tell Tom we met. Good luck with Aisha, or Amir as the case may be.

ADAM:
And best of luck to you. To both of you. I’m sure I’ll see you around, Willy. Baby’s not due for five whole months yet. Thanks for talking with me.

WILLY:
Think nothing of it. Come see me if you need any baby advice. I love babies.

ADAM:
(Leaving.) I will, bye.

WILLY:
Nice man. Ready to go home?

JEAN:
No. Not yet. I’ll stay with you. This is your home now, Willy R.

WILLY:
My home? What do you mean? We’re married, we live together. I need you, sweetie. I need you bad. I miss you when you’re not around.

JEAN:
I’ll be around. I miss you too. (Weepy.) Every day. All of the time.

WILLY:
Hey, hey! No crying. What do I always say?

JEAN:
“You married a strong woman hoping we could be equals.”

WILLY:
That’s right. “I married a strong woman hoping we could be equals.” I had no idea I could never live up to that task. I love you so much.

JEAN:
And I love you. Want to go for a walk?

WILLY:
Yeah. But I got a poem for you. Wrote it last night. I woke up looking for you and when I couldn’t find you I wrote this. (Picks up sheet of paper from table.) Wanna hear it?

JEAN:
Of course.

WILLY:
Okay. I call this one, “End of Day.”
(Lights slowly fade as WILLY and JEAN exit, WILLY reading poem to distraught JEAN.)
Sun sinks low at end of day,
streaks of mauve in sky of gray,
I take pause then slink away,
heavyhearted, sad hombre.

Once upon was in my prime,
I’ve groan weak while she’s sublime.
Turn away for sees me cryin’,
can’t meet eyes for tears in mine.

More like a pet than life mate.
How long ‘fore she suffocates?
Without her to naught abate.
My weakness all enervates.

End of day or early morn
turned to burden, her forsworn.
Fear any day I’ll be lorn.
Now just burden too long borne.
Now just burden too long borne.

(BLACKOUT)