Thirty Story Masterpieces
by Tommy Smith
Corinne Hayoun | CAA
162 Fifth Avenue, 6th Fl
New York, NY 10010
Originally produced at Red Fern’s “+30NYC” at Center Stage. Jessi D. Hill, director. Corinna May (Woman); Brian Robert Burns (Young Man).
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A high-rise apartment at E 70th and 3rd Avenue, Manhattan.
Some elegant electronic music* plays throughout the scene.
A young man.
An attractive older woman speaks to him:
W: I’m going to make myself a martini.
W: You want a martini?
YM: No thanks.
W: It’s early enough. It’s early enough for a martini. I don’t usually have one this early. Sometime you have to. Sometimes it’s early enough for a martini. I bought myself this shaker, you like this shaker?
W: Shiny. Silver. Shaker. Do you like this?
W: Is the music okay?
YM: Yeah fine.
W: I do like the classics.
YM: Nice home.
W: I do like this apartment. I ended up looking at a lot of apartments and decided on this one.
YM: It’s nice.
W: They showed me some apartments downtown. Too small. I need a doorman. I like a doorman. Did you give him your name?
W: Next time give a different name.
W: Not your real name. He probably thinks you’re my boyfriend. He probably thinks we’re lovers. That’s funny. That would be funny. I commissioned this painting, you know.
W: I met with the painter. I sat for the painter. We fought a little. I wanted it to look a certain way but I suppose sometimes you have to acquiesce to the artistic imagination. Cigarette?
YM: Yeah, sure.
W: You smoke?
YM: Yeah, sometimes.
W: What would your mother say?
W: I’m kidding, go ahead.
W: When I was your age they tried to outlaw these you know?
YM: Oh yeah?
W: Yes they – let me light that – they started banning smoking indoors until they needed the tax money. What’s your brand?
YM: I don’t know.
W: You don’t have a brand.
YM: I don’t smoke enough.
W: No, you take care of yourself, don’t you?
YM: Yes, ma’am.
W: I’ve been going to the gym. There’s a gym on the basement floor. I use the machines. When I was younger I was a championship cross trainer. When I was your age. You weren’t even born. Were you born by then? Don’t answer. I don’t want to know the answer to that. We’re strangers really. You smoke with a stranger but you don’t give him your car keys. Here. Ashtray.
YM: Thank you.
W: I’m going to order food. Would you like any food?
YM: No thanks.
W: It’s on me.
YM: What kind of food?
W: Have you ever had fish?
W: Let’s order fish.
YM: I think that’s really expensive.
W: I can afford it.
YM: That’s really generous.
W: It’s not every day I get a visit from someone like you. There’s a clean river in Canada they get these from. (on speaker) Two slices of salmon and boiled potatoes. (to Young Man) This won’t spoil your dinner will it? Your wife won’t be upset?
YM: I don’t mind eating twice.
W: What do you usually have?
YM: For what dinner?
YM: Fake something. I’ve had a lot of fake potatoes are these real ones?
W: Mmm hmn.
YM: Yeah I’m really excited.
W: Then have a drink with me.
YM: Sure yeah whatever.
W: There’s a man. (makes drink) So where do you live?
YM: In the compounds below Canal.
W: With your wife.
W: How’s the air quality?
YM: It was pretty bad til they replaced the filters last year.
W: This building has its own purifier.
YM: We’re having a baby soon.
W: Yes your mother told me.
YM: My wife’s really worried.
W: What about?
YM: Money and like, life in general. Being alive.
YM: Thank you. So … just you here?
W: Yep. My husband had the money but he pfft!
YM: And my mom and you are friends from like … ?
W: When we were younger.
YM: Before I was born.
W: No I was around the first couple years. Your mother and me at the same college where she met your father? You were two when I moved away. Right before the earthquakes.
YM: Uh huh. I like your shades.
W: Yes they keep out the sun.
W: Did that make you uncomfortable?
W: Me talking about your mother.
W: What are you looking at?
YM: Just … buildings.
W: Yes I like only looking at buildings and sky. I sometimes imagine its 1940. A lot of these buildings were here then. There weren’t these Chinese skyscrapers everywhere I mean look at that one. A glowing red pagoda at the top? That’s not even Chinese. But the smaller buildings, you see the ones about twenty stories down? These Thirty Story Masterpieces? Imagine living when it was just those. They must have seemed huge but now they’re like cottages. I could throw my garbage on them if my windows opened.
YM: You can’t even see the street from here.
W: Yes isn’t it wonderful?
W: Have you been out there?
W: Have you been outside?
YM: Yes I go outside sometimes.
YM: Just to see what its like.
W: Isn’t that bad for you?
YM: You can go out for two or three hours and they say its fine.
W: You’ve been reading different newspapers than me. I haven’t been outside in God I can’t remember when.
YM: It’s the same. The trees have started dying but not like, they’re still there and everything but they’re all brown.
W: Are you scared?
W: No Jesus I’m paralyzed by the whole thing.
YM: Still have to live my life I guess.
W: Well cheers to that. I mean my windows are sealed. I have UV protection from the sun. Yesterday I sat here and watched a flock of birds arch over that building. Fifty birds moving just folding into themselves at once. You beat that on your fucking touchscreen youth. You have really nice eyes.
YM: Thank you.
YM: Why did my mom want me to see you?
W: Isn’t it clear?
YM: Yeah I mean I sort of understand.
W: Well we don’t need to talk about it. How are things with your wife?
YM: We’re getting along I guess.
W: You could be doing a little better though.
YM: Well yes everyone is having a very difficult time being alive right now.
W: I’m somewhat spared of that burden.
W: Yes I don’t have same problems as everyone else. This puts me in a unique position as a human being. I have to decide how to position my philanthropy. Most days I get pretty drunk thinking about it.
W: Do you want to go to the bedroom now?
W: Good well there’s a card here for you.
YM: Thank you.
W: I’ll always put the money in the card. The card is a gift to you. It’s nothing else. Just a gift if anyone asks.
W: Five thousand credits and a transport pass to zone six.
YM: Sounds fair.
W: This will help raise that family your wife wants.
She brings him close.
W: You kind of look like your father. You’re really sweet and I really like you.
A knock on the door.
W: That’s for us.
* Aphex Twin, “Tha”