Act One. A sofa and a few tables--suggestive of a comfortable living room--but only in an abbreviated sense. Let the audience fill in most of the room. I must insist on this. For God's sake, make the audience finally do some work! It has slumped there in the auditorium, in its flabby after-dinner stupor, for far too many years. Listen to me, actors: when your performance allows you a sweeping (but always imperceptible) glance at their faces, see how revolting and fat they all are. Even the thin ones are fat--intellectually, at least. Every actor should see for whom he's toiling--and still have the fortitude to continue. You are spilling your blood for cattle. When you know this--really know it as a feeling as well as an idea--only then are you truly an actor. Until that revelation, you are a circus pantomime or a jester. You should want to slaughter the audience, viciously, with your performance. Otherwise, you have failed your art. Worse, you haven't even been properly acquainted with it.
ENTER LOUIS and WALT, men in their fifties, casual in appearance and temperament. LOUIS turns on the lamp with a familiarity that says: This is my home.
LOUIS: She left me the sofa, you know. And the Oriental rug.
WALT: Insult to injury.
LOUIS: It's ugly, true. But it keeps my feet warm. Maybe she still cares if I have warm feet.
WALT: She wanted them more than warm, as I recall.
LOUIS: For Christ sake. It was only a small fire.
WALT: All the big ones start out that way. What was it again?
LOUIS: A curling iron. Don't you ever listen?
WALT: I hear all the big stuff. It's the little stuff that gets lost in the cushions.
WALT: Whiskey. No ice.
LOUIS: You're half drunk already. How about an orange juice?
WALT: Now that's the kind of little stuff I don't bother hearing. Besides, I'm a completist.
LOUIS: So--you think it was a plot?
WALT: What was?
LOUIS: The curling iron?
WALT: A plot? Not so much. That requires thinking. And scheming. I think she wanted it without even knowing it.
LOUIS: Wanted what?
WALT: You. Dead. What else?
LOUIS: Don't get all Freudian on me.
WALT: What's Freud got to do with it? She wanted to kill you, not fuck your mother.
LOUIS: Oh, beautiful. So she just left it switched on--
WALT: Left it switched on precariously!
LOUIS: Sustained. So she left it on--precariously--in order to kill me, but didn't even know it?
WALT: Nope. None the wiser. Her conscience was clean as a porn star's pucker.
LOUIS: Well. You never liked Julie, did you?
WALT: It's not a matter of liking. She's just a little bit of a sociopath is all. Who am I to judge?
LOUIS: Such a generous spirit.
WALT: Anyway. It's a pot-kettle situation. If I'm not a little bit sociopathic, then nobody is.
LOUIS: Right. So who do you secretly want to kill? Carol?
WALT: Nah. You have to really feel something to want to kill somebody. Carol is like a Rolling Stones song. I'd never buy an album, but I wouldn't change the channel if it came on the radio.
LOUIS: Didn't you already buy the album? Fourteen years ago?
WALT: Hey. Don't go poking at my analogies with sticks. They get the job done.
LOUIS: Sure. But can I ask you something?
WALT: No fucking way.
LOUIS: What was the very last thing you said to Carol before you went out tonight?
WALT: Now let's not get all sentimental here.
LOUIS: My heart is made of stone right now. I swear. This is more of a scientific question.
WALT: What kind of science is that?
LOUIS: The science of good-byes. Don't poke at my analogies.
WALT: Well, let me think. I said... I'll be out late. And: Let the cat back in. And I finished it off with: See ya.
LOUIS: That's it?
WALT: I don't need the fanfare, Lou. I can say everything in two little words.
LOUIS: And what were you saying tonight?
WALT: Jesus Christ. Enough of this crap, all right? What I say is fucking ineffable. You get it? Next subject.
LOUIS: You drank yours already?
WALT: I'm a ventriloquist. I can drink and talk at the same time.
LOUIS: Lucky for me.
WALT: By the way, when the hell did Julie ever curl her hair?