“Que Sera, Sera”
By Johnny Culver
917 691 6884
Buzz Connor – early twenties, negative attitude, and blind since birth, a bit too aggressive.
Dionne – mail carrier, thirties, kind hearted, to the point.
Maggie Mary – mid sixties, homeless, loves to remember the past and share with others.
Curran Connor – thirties, small town guy, timid.
Outside a rundown brownstone walkup on a quiet city street. Trashcans are to the left of the steps. It is a crisp spring Saturday early morning in 1968.
(Buzz appears unsteadily on the sidewalk and heads towards the brownstone steps. He carries a brown bag on one hand and taps a white cane with the other. Heading up the steps, he stops, midway, takes a swig from the bottle in the bag, and resumes up the stairs, tripping over a metal container and a large paper bag on the top step)
Damn it! Don’t tell me…not again…son of a -
(Sits on the front steps, picks up container and smells the contents)
Beef broth again? Who keeps leaving this spoiled food on the front stoop? Why for me? I’m the only one awake at this hour. The only one in this vacant house, for that, matter.
(Takes another swig from bottle.)
Let’s get this Saturday – under way!
(Holds out bottle and container)
Someone must think that Buzz, the poor little blind boy needs help. Needs free beef broth! Well this poor little blind boy doesn’t need your help! Thanks for nothing!
(He tosses broth container aside and wobbly stands)
And I don’t need that stale bread, or that hard cheese you leave for me, whoever you are! Go help someone else, someone who is NOT helpless! I’ll keep the peanut butter cookies, though.
(Takes cookies out of bag, puts in pocket, kicks paper bag and heads in)
What I do need is a little nap; because this poor little blind boy isn’t used to working at night. Washing dishes all night long. Small town all the way to the big city and Buzz ends up washing dishes. In the night time.
(Stops, laughs to self)
But isn’t it always night time for you, little blind boy?
(He goes in, struggling to get thru the door. Curran rushes on, suitcase in hand. He stops and calls to Buzz)
Wait! Buzz? Buzz? It’s your brother, Curran; I’ve come to see you. Don’t go in!
(Stops and turns around)
I’m blind, not deaf, you don’t have to shout. You’ll wake up the entire building. It’s early.
(Curran goes up steps and takes Buzz’s arm.)
It’s good to see you, Buzz. You haven’t changed-
(Reaches for railing)
Not much to change, is there? Everything is always the same with me. Same job-
Buzz, I came here to tell you that our father has died. It happened a few weeks ago. It took me that long to track you down. I knew you were in the city, but didn’t know where-
(Holds up hand)
Stop. He died?
Yes, he died. Three weeks ago.
Good. Good. Good.
Good? Three goods? That’s pretty harsh, Buzz. Oh, I can read you his will. His attorney, Mr. Miller, asked me to give it to you. Maybe father left you something.
Take it back to Mr. Miller. I don’t want anything from father. He sent me away to live at the school for blind children, Curran. I was there for eighteen years! No one ever visited me, not him, not mother, not even you-
He had no choice. There was no one to take care of you at home. The farm took all of our time. And Mother-
I didn’t need to be taken care of. I could have gotten along just fine in the outside world. I am now, see? All I need is a real place to live. Hmmm, if father did leave me something, I could get a real place!
Mother certainly couldn’t take care of you, as sick as father said she was. And then she left us. One day there, in the cellar, writing her stories, then the next day she was gone. No goodbye, no note, nothing.
I know. You wrote to me when she left. Father never went after her. Never looked for her.
The farm had him so busy-
Curran, what was mother like? I never really knew her. I left school, came to the city. I never came back to the farm. Never was asked back. I was no use to father on n the farm. Couldn’t do chores…
(Sitting on steps)
I always thought Mother was a very sad person, when she wasn’t holed up in the cellar, writing her stories and movie scripts. I remember she would type them up nicely and give them to father, who promised to mail them off to Hollywood for her. They never wrote back, though, because Father threw them in the trash and burned them... Mother never knew. She was down in the cellar all day and all night. I can still remember her singing as she typed…
Tell me about the singing later. Let’s go inside, Curran. Have a drink with me. Today is a day to celebrate! Maybe father did leave me something in his will. Bring that suitcase of ours in, too.
How do you know I have our- my suitcase with me?
I remember them; our family had a set of three. I‘d recognize that musty leather smell anywhere. I’ve got one, too. If you’d like, we can compare baggage.
(They go in)
(Appears from behind trash cans, wearing a Chinese kimono, carrying paper and an envelope. Speaks to herself)
She’d better like this one. She’d better write back and tell me that she is going to make a movie out of it. After twenty years of handwriting stories and screenplays and movie ideas and sending them to her in Hollywood, she has to like one of them. Why doesn’t Mary Ann remember me?
(Stuffs papers into envelope, she gets a little angry, the stops and seals envelope)
No! I will not let anything let me upset today. Today could be the day…
(She starts to hum, and heads back under brownstone stoop, pulling out suitcase)
“Que sera sera, whatever will be will be…?”
(Enters with mailbag on shoulder)
Good morning, Maggie Mary. I see you’re wearing that Japanese bathrobe you always talk about. It must be a special day if you’re wearing your Japanese bathrobe! And look, I brought you that old postal bag. Sturdy and waterproof. Better than that old suitcase of yours.
Well, good morning, Dionne, something just told me to put on my Chinese kimono. It comes all the way from China. Just like the one Doris Day wore in “The Pajama Game” Doris played the factory worker and she-
I saw the movie, Maggie Mary.
Sees bag of food and broth container on sidewalk.)
I guess your little friend wasn’t too hungry again this morning, Maggie Mary. I don’t know why you bother. They feed him at that restaurant where he works.
(Maggie Mary comes out and picks up food, careful not to spill any)
Oh well, I’ll just leave this food up there again tomorrow. No boy can resist beef broth and fresh bread. He does seem to like the peanut butter cookies. Why I remember, back years ago when-
(Not wanting to hear story)
Maggie Mary, you got any more letters for me to drop in the mail for you? Good thing I know where to find you, you keep moving around the neighborhood so much.
(Sees envelope in Maggie Mays hand)
Don’t tell me; I know by now, it’s addressed to Miss Doris Day, care of Hollywood, California.
You mean Doris Mary Anne von Kappelhoff, now Miss Doris Day. Mary Anne was my next door neighbor growing up, back in Cincinnati. We were the best of friends. We went to school together, played together. I remember one time when were playing in the yard, tied up like Indians, Mary Anne and me-
(Not wanting to hear story, she takes letter)
I’ll just mail this letter at the end of my rounds. It should be in Hollywood in no time at all. Which reminds me, Maggie Mary, I got a letter for you, back at the post office. It could be the one you’ve been talking about since I met you.
I’ll just bet it is! Well, let’s get going. What are we waiting for? We’ll get the letter right now. My Chinese kimono told me to put it on! Today is the day!
(Takes the mailbag from Dionne’s hand)
I’ll bring the letter to you. Put that suitcase down. You wait right here.
Good idea, Dionne. Give me a little time pack up my things. I knew today was the day!
You do that, Maggie Mary.
(She goes. Maggie, excited, puts mail bag over her shoulder, picks up broth and bag and quickly takes them up to the front door, taking newspaper from stoop, then scampers down and goes under the stoop, humming ”Once A Year Day” from “The Pajama Game.
(Opens door and heads out)
There should be a newspaper here somewhere, Curran. The paper boy hasn’t caught on yet. You can help me find an apartment and et me outta-
Damn it! Don’t tell me, not again? Who keeps leaving this spoiled food on the front stoop? Who is making a fool of me? Someone is really going to pay for -
(Looks out door at Buzz)
Buzz, are you all right? Who are you yelling at? What’s going on?
Someone keeps leaving spoiled food for me. Beef broth and cheese and peanut butter cookies...someone thinks I can’t take care of myself! The cookies aren’t half bad, though. I’ve kept a whole jar inside.
Mother used to send me to school every day with a thermos of beef broth, and a paper bag full of cheese and peanut butter cookies.
At the blind school, we had no idea what we were eating for lunch. If we had lunch-
I get it. There’s no newspaper out here.
(Sniffs the air)
Curran, you said you took your suitcase inside.
I put it in the corner, right next to yours. Let’s go find that jar of peanut butter cookies. Then we’ll get a newspaper and look for a real place for you to live
(He goes down steps and feels around railing, pulling out suitcase.)
-this? Empty? Something’s not right. Curran? If this is a trick to get my peanut butter cookies, you’ll never hear the end--
(He takes suitcase in hand, pauses, puts it down, and goes inside)
(Enters with letter)
Maggie May! Maggie Mary! I’ve got two letters for you.
(Maggie Mary comes out from under the stoop, carrying full mailbag)
Let me see?
…Miller, Attorney at Law – I’ll look at this one later. And this one? “Doris Mary Anne von Kappelhoff, Hollywood California.”
(Tears open letter, pulling out a wad of cash and a letter, reads)
“Dearest Maggie Mary, it has been so many years! I never received any of those other letters you say you sent in the past. If I did, I certainly would have contacted you sooner. We have so much to catch up on. I have missed you so much, since we grew up together. Use the enclosed money to get a train ticket out here as soon as you can. Stay as long as you can. Stay forever! Signed, your best friend forever, Mary Anne.
This is it! Dionne, she finally got back to me, after all these years! I’m going to Hollywood!
All those letters you wrote to her in the past? What happened to them? The post office would never let that happen-
I don’t care about the past. I left the past – in the past and I never want to go back to that life. My terrible husband. Squashed all my dreams. I ran away and never looked back. I do miss my two sons, though. Maybe one day, I’ll get to see them again one day.
(Shoves money and letter into kimono pocket.
But all that doesn’t matter! Mary Anne said: “Stay forever!” I’m off to the train station, Dionne. I knew today was the day to put my kimono on. Dionne, thanks for everything!
(Kisses Dionne on cheek and heads off, then stops, and hands other letter to Dionne)
Take this letter back, Dionne, Mark it “Return to Sender”. Addressee, unknown!
(Hoists stuffed mail bag over shoulder and exits singing)
“This is my Once a Year Day….Once a Year Day,”
Dionne watches her go. After a short beat, BUZZ and CURRAN appear in the front door.
Buzz, you can move back to the farm if you want to. Get out of this dirty city. Maybe mother will come back home to the farm. Mr. Miller has been sending letters out, trying to find her. Anything’s possible.
No, I don’t think so. I have more important things to do, anyway. With this money father left me, I can get a safe apartment, away from beef broth and cheese and peanut butter cookies!
(Holds out bag of cookies)
Cave a peanut butter cookie, Curran. Hey, you said Mother sang? Want did she sing about if she was so sad? You said she was always so sad.
(Heading down steps)
Oh, she used to tell me these silly stories about when she was a child, she and Doris Day were best friends!
(Dionne stops, turns and listens)
The games they played and the songs they sang together. Mother always told me how much she missed her, and hopes that Doris Day would read the stories she wrote and they could be friends again. She would sit in the cellar and sing all the songs that Doris Day made famous.
Buzz that mailman, er mail, lady, is here. Hello, there.
(Sees letter in Dionne’s hand)
Is that for Buzz? The letter?
A letter for me? Ha! No one knows where I am. Not even Mr. Miller! Com’on, Curran, let’s go find me a new place to live. It’s a whole new day!
(Curran takes Buzz’s arm, as Buzz sings aloud)
“This is my Once a Year Day….Once a Year Day…
That’s a funny song, Buzz. Mother used to sing that. Where did you hear it?
I don’t know. It just popped into my head. Let’s get this Saturday – under way!
(They walk off, as Dionne stands alone with letter in hand.)