The Last Days of William

Available in Library

I went out on my first date with William Dale on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018. We had a few encounters and a few text/phone conversations. And then he was dead. He slipped or fell or jumped. It was late night, probably 3 or 4am on March 16th, 2018. I was in his phone so I was contacted by his friends. They assumed Will and were close. I felt haunted by such a brief exchange at the end of someone’s life. I felt disturbed by William’s presence, his enthusiasm and zest, but also his flakiness, past issues with drug abuse, wild party nature, and then his disappearance. I am trying to make sense of this. How do you mourn for someone who you were just starting to know?

Read Sample

PROLOGUE
Lights rise on a SCRIBE talking to an ACTOR who is taking stuff out of his bag, getting settled, flipping pages in the script. Actor is reading over the script.

SCRIBE
Thank you for taking part in this workshop.
I’m working my way through some new material and
I thought it would be best to work with another actor.

ACTOR
Well I’m so excited. And I feel like we may have met before.

SCRIBE
Well it’s a small community.
You ready?

ACTOR
Ready.

SCRIBE
Oh, and a little backstory: I went out on my first date with William Dale on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018. We had three in-person encounters and a few text/phone conversations. And then he was dead. He slipped or fell or jumped. It was late night, 4am on March 16th, 2018. I was in his phone so I was contacted by his friends. They assumed Will and were close, but we were not. Yet I felt haunted by such a brief exchange at the end of someone’s life. I felt disturbed by Will’s presence, his enthusiasm and zest, but also his flakiness, past issues with drug abuse, wild party nature, and then his disappearance. I am trying to make sense of this. How do you mourn for someone who you were just starting to know? Ok that’s it. Let’s begin with-

ACTOR
-wait, wait…what?
I just need a moment to processing…
Everything you just said.

SCRIBE
Okay.

ACTOR
I just need…
So this really happened?

SCRIBE
Yes. Did you read the script?

ACTOR
Yeah, and I loved it.

SCRIBE
Did you read the second first page where it talks about the history?

BEAT

ACTOR
I’m so sorry.

SCRIBE
You don’t have to be.

ACTOR
Is this is your mourning process?

SCRIBE
No.
It’s a play.

ACTOR
That you wrote to get over the pain?

SCRIBE
No.

ACTOR
Then why did you write it?

SCRIBE
It was for an assignment.

ACTOR
An assignment about pain and loss?

SCRIBE
It’s my process.
Me and Will related to art.

SCRIBE (cont’d)
We are…we were sapiosexuals.
That was how we talked about everything
So…
I thought I could create a piece of art to…
resolve things.
When you’re ready...


SCENE ONE

Blackout. Sounds of the sea roaring. In the darkness, Actor transforms into William. SCRIBE and WILL stand facing each other with scripts in hand. They breathe in and out. And then they open their eyes.

SCRIBE
I only knew him for a month and then he was gone. Yes, about 30 days. It all started before Valentine’s Day 2018. He had ghosted me online for a few months. Said he was a sapiosexual. That means someone who gets turned on by intelligence. But then he ghosted me.

WILLIAM
I only knew him for one month and then I was gone. Gone, gone, gone. I liked his okcupid profile. He was or is a SCRIBE. I was a musician coming back from Japan. I am into intellectuals. A sapiosexual. Someone who can turn me on from the inside.

Light rise up. They start circling.

WILLIAM
Hello.
Sorry for not getting back to you…

BEAT

WILLIAM
I got busy

SCRIBE
Whatever. It’s fine.

WILLIAM
So I am reaching out to you. That proves I am interested. After months I reach out to you through the electronic webs. You free tomorrow?

SCRIBE
It’s Valentine’s Day.

WILLIAM
I know. What are you doing?

SCRIBE
Being very very busy.
I’m going to a Butoh performance in Williamsburg-

WILLIAM
-Great, can I come?

SCRIBE
(to audience) Only losers have nothing to do on Valentine’s Day. Did he think I was a loser? Why was he so…
(to William) sure. You can come along.
Japanese dance of death…on Valentine’s Day.

WILLIAM
Texting. So are we calling this a date?

SCRIBE
No. It’s a colloquy. A convening of mind.

WILLIAM
Really looking forward to convening.

SCRIBE
All right. It’s at 7.

WILLIAM
Can you buy me a ticket?

SCRIBE
Um…no. Buy your own damn ticket.

WILLIAM
So romantic.

SCRIBE
What can I say: I’m a charmer of brutal honesty.

WILLIAM
Brutal honesty? I like that.

SCRIBE
It’s my specialty.

WILLIAM
What’s on the agenda for our colloquy?

SCRIBE
Butoh: a Japanese dance of mortality and fear.
And a colloquy.

BELL SOUND. Lights shift. SCRIBE gets ready. William is running around the time-space continuum of the SCRIBE’s memory.

SCRIBE
The first unusual thing about William Joseph Dale.

WILLIAM
The first unusual thing about me.

SCRIBE
On our first official…colloquy,
William put a tracking device on himself.
He sent me a text with an attachment that said…

WILLIAM
Open me.

SCRIBE
I opened it and it was a GPS system hooked up to his phone. (to William) Um, I don’t get it.

WILLIAM
Now you can see how far away I am from you. I’m just getting off of work right now.

SCRIBE
You don’t have to do that, just-

WILLIAM
-Ok, I am getting into the subway-

SCRIBE
-Fascinating. That’s just-

WILLIAM
Oops, subway is waiting in the station. You can see that on the GPS, so you know I’m not lying.

SCRIBE
Will, it’s all right to be a few minutes fashionably late.

WILLIAM
Train is moving again.
Hey, listen to this new club song.
Tell me what you think.

SCRIBE gets club song in phone. He listens to it.

WILLIAM
Isn’t it fun? Where are you?

SCRIBE
He has the attention span of a gnat.
(to William) I’m at the bar.
Waiting.

WILLIAM
Shit, shit, shit.
I’m sorry.
I’m already late. I’m so stupid.

SCRIBE
The second thing I noticed about Will.

WILLIAM
Could you call me William?
It’s a particular thing.
I don’t like Will or Bill or Billy.
It’s just William. Full name.

SCRIBE
Okay. Well the third thing…

WILLIAM
Should I be taking notes.

SCRIBE
Is that the moment he arrived…
everyone wanted to be friends with him. I got kind of jealous. I was sitting there the whole time and the bartender didn’t say more than three words to me. But Will comes in, bags akimbo, scarf fluttering, a Shiva of fabric and frazzled ends and everyone is all buddy buddy with him.

WILLIAM
You’re too well put together.

SCRIBE
What?

WILLIAM
That’s the first time I noticed about you:
your whole thing is too, too…

SCRIBE
I’m wearing jeans and the same shirt from work.

WILLIAM
It doesn’t matter.

SCRIBE
So the bartender doesn’t want to talk to me because I’m too impeccable?

WILLIAM
Not impeccable.
Impenetrable.
You’re like a seal letter. A notarized document.
Sealed and dated.

SCRIBE
Ouch.

WILLIAM
And you’re very handsome.
(switches back to Actor) Wait, did he actually say that?

SCRIBE
(offended)
Yes. He actually did. (under breath) Asshole.

WILLIAM
That’s so sweet. (back as William) Okay.

SCRIBE
I’m a handsome notarized letter?

WILLIAM
Debonair.

SCRIBE
People like debonair.

WILLIAM
Yeah, in the movies. But not in person.
Debonair in person is aloof. You gotta show some loose threads.

SCRIBE
Are we done?

WILLIAM
Sure. So what are you about?

SCRIBE
I write. You?

WILLIAM
I play the cello.

SCRIBE
For an orchestra?

WILLIAM
Well for a few touring companies. But for my day job I write grants. So we both write for money.

SCRIBE
To writers from two writers!

They toast and drink.

WILLIAM
Why were you alone on Valentine’s Day?

SCRIBE
I waited too long to finalize plans.

WILLIAM
So you have…

SCRIBE
Too many options. Like most people in New York.

WILLIAM
Really?
How many men are you dating?

SCRIBE
We don’t have to get into this now, do we-

WILLIAM
-Brutal honesty.

SCRIBE
…Five.

WILLIAM
Slut.

SCRIBE
Thank you. And you?

WILLIAM
Four.

SCRIBE
Whore. And I’m assuming you’re a serial dater.

WILLIAM
Isn’t everyone? Too many options.

SCRIBE
And yet here we are.

WILLIAM
All my dates are with their husbands or boyfriends or partners, or their #1s.

SCRIBE
I think took it for granted that I would be special when I became an adult.
Eventually.
Someone would select me.
I would be someone’s #1.
And then one day I woke up in my 30s and I was a bunch of guy’s #3 choice. I mean I’m on the dating team, but I mostly ride the bench. I only get called if someone gets injured or goes missing. So I am a free man with many many shitty options, and I guess that’s consumerism.
And gay dating.
And capitalism.
And living in the city.
We are oppressed by our mediocre options.

BEAT

WILLIAM
Wow. You are not a writer. You are a scribe.

SCRIBE
Yeah. I talk too much.
I over think every scenario, which is exacerbated by having so many bad choices.
It’s one of my many flaws.

WILLIAM
But you forget, I am a sapiosexual.
Overthinking turns me on.

SCRIBE
So my neurosis and anxiety is turning you on?

WILLIAM
In a way.

SCRIBE
Shall we head out?

WILLIAM
Lead the way.

Lights shift. They walk.

SCRIBE
So here is the mystery…
how could a good looking, lively, friendly,
life of the party have nowhere to go on Valentine’s Day?
And what’s with the tracking device?

WILLIAM
You can download the app if you want.

SCRIBE
I don’t need to download an app to tell people where I am.

WILLIAM
And why not?

SCRIBE
Simple. I show up on time.

WILLIAM
So you’re never late to a colloquy?

SCRIBE
I am rarely late.
Why did you contact me the day before Valentine’s Day?

WILLIAM
Like you said, I am a bunch of guy’s #3 choice.

SCRIBE
No, that’s my answer.

WILLIAM
Quiet.
Butoh time.

SCRIBE and William begin doing a slow Butoh slithering dance.

WILLIAM
I’m having a really good time.

SCRIBE
Good for you.

WILLIAM
Ouch. What’s with the chip?

SCRIBE
It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m sitting here watching Butoh-

WILLIAM
-and performing.

SCRIBE
I’m sitting here watching and performing Butoh in the middle of a rain storm.

WILLIAM
On a date-

SCRIBE
-Colloquy.

SCRIBE (cont’d)
With a guy who ghosted me and reconnected the day before Valentine’s Day because your other plans fell through.
This isn’t a date.
You were lonely and didn’t want to spend Valentine’s Day alone.
And so was I.

WILLIAM
I took you to my favorite bar and French restaurant.

SCRIBE
This is true.

WILLIAM
We talked for hours about classical music and literature.
I paid for the drinks and dinner.
You loosened up.

SCRIBE
I’m a cheap date.

WILLIAM
There. You said the word.

SCRIBE
We walked through McCarren Park at night.
In the rain.

WILLIAM
We were under your umbrella.

William and SCRIBE put a hand over their head to represent an umbrella.

WILLIAM
Perfect weather.

SCRIBE
Wet, soggy, and cold.

WILLIAM
Quiet, mysterious, and romantic.

SCRIBE
Where are you from again?
WILLIAM
Jupiter.

SCRIBE
Funny.

WILLIAM
No, I’m being serious.
I’m from Jupiter, Florida.

SCRIBE
Ahh, Jupiter, Florida: concrete mansions and strip malls.

WILLIAM
How do you know about Jupiter?

SCRIBE
I’m further down the peninsula.
From a small town in South Florida you never heard of.

WILLIAM
Two small-town Florida boys in the big city.
What are the odds?
You miss the Sunshine State?

SCRIBE
Nobody misses Florida.

WILLIAM
True.

SCRIBE
But I’m thinking of moving to California.

WILLIAM
Why?

SCRIBE
Work.
And in New York City, I’m a bunch of guy’s #3s.
In LA I can be somebody’s #1. Or a few guy’s #1.

WILLIAM
What makes you so sure California is the answer?

SCRIBE
Gay guys over there are easily impressed.
In LA if you’ve read a book you’re an intellectual.
But in NYC the Starbucks barista has a PHD in philosophy and a queer chat book of poetry with an indie publisher. Everyone in New York City is brilliant and closed off.

WILLIAM
Now is the point when the kiss usually happens.

SCRIBE
You never answered my initial question.

WILLIAM
Which was?

SCRIBE
How come you had nobody to go to on Valentine’s Day?

WILLIAM
Way to kill the mood, asshole.

SCRIBE
I’m just playing.

WILLIAM
Well maybe you can play with yourself tonight.

SCRIBE
Oh, is that a double entendre?

WILLIAM
No, it’s a single one.

SCRIBE
(aside)
We kissed.
I dropped the umbrella.

WILLIAM
We got wet.
We continued kissing and walking in the rain…
on Valentine’s Day. This really did happen.

SCRIBE
Okay: so made something romantic out of a rainy depressing evening of slow death marching and loneliness.

WILLIAM
Isn’t that romance?
Why are you so resistant?

SCRIBE
I’m not resistant.
(to audience) What I wanted to say was that people like you come and go as you please. You make a situation into a party or a dance or a date to suit your whimsy or curiosity. And then you move on.

WILLIAM
You’re still made about my initial ghosting?

SCRIBE
No. Well it was really nice meeting you.

WILLIAM
And kissing you and walking with you in the rain.

SCRIBE
That too.
Yes, it was really nice, William.
And…Happy Valentine’s Day.
It has been years since…well, it was nice meeting you.

WILLIAM
You want to see a movie together?

SCRIBE
Aren’t you supposed to wait 72 hours before-

WILLIAM
I want to see a movie with you. Before you fly off to LA to become an intellectual. A second…colloquy.


SCENE TWO

Scribe is at work in an office.

SCRIBE
The next day at work my co-workers are all talking about their Valentine’s Day. I become aware of the fact that everyone is married…except for me. Even the gay people are married with kids, mortgages, and retirement funds. And here I stand: the lonely arts fag.

WILLIAM
Lonely arts fag…sapiosexual.
It’s the burden of our species.

Lights shift. They talk to the audience.

SCRIBE
What is a sapiosexual?

WILLIAM
We have already established that a sapiosexual is someone obsessed with arts and culture.

SCRIBE
Someone who lives and dies for music and language.
Someone who loves a good book or a rave party.
An Introvert.

WILLIAM
A quiet soul.
Gay or straight.
Bisexual or transgender…
A sapiosexual is gentle…

SCRIBE
Someone who puts artistic truth and philosophy
Above flesh and food.

WILLIAM
Someone who does not have a lot of friends
Who does not congregate in large mosh pits
Or run in herds.

SCRIBE
The awkward guy holding up the wall at a party.
Single, with a roommate.
No kids. Maybe not even a pet.

WILLIAM
Some house plants. Nothing too distracting.

SCRIBE
Cactus. And rocks.

WILLIAM
Sapiosexual couples tend to yield little to no children.

SCRIBE
They tend to be smarter than the settling kind.
So they live alone and die alone.

WILLIAM
Spending their free time painting the cave walls to say

SCRIBE
‘I was here.’
Because there will be nobody else there to testify to their existence.
Flesh is weak. Memory is fickle.
So a sapiosexual pours themselves into the immortal.
The arts
Philosophy
Science
Soemthing that will last past this flesh.

WILLIAM
The parchment
The painter’s pigment

SCRIBE
The scroll

WILLIAM
The music.

William sits down and mimes playing a cello. Beautiful orotund cello sounds begin flowing from his bow hand.

SCRIBE
They pity me.
Alone with my inanimate objects and words.
But I pity them, because have a secret weapon: my memory of last night. It replays in my mind. All the in between details of the…colloquy. I remember…

WILLIAM
I play the cello.

SCRIBE
I remember.

WILLIAM
Don’t you play the violin?

SCRIBE
I remember.

WILLIAM
Of course, the cello is the superior instrument.

SCRIBE
(laughing)
Oh, is that right?

WILLIAM
It is. The cello is the instrument that best…

SCRIBE
Replicates the human voice.

WILLIAM
How do you know that?

SCRIBE
You cello players are all alike. What, do they make you remember that ‘human voice’ bit in cello school.

WILLIAM
They do in case we encounter snotty snooping violinist.

SCRIBE
And I remember.

WILLIAM
We should play together some time.

SCRIBE
I thought you told me to play with myself.

WILLIAM
I was just kidding.

SCRIBE
My violin is back home in Florida. It’s been years since I’ve played. The wood has probably warped from the air conditioning and then one time the AC broke in the middle of the summer so it was sweltering for weeks. So I’m pretty sure my old violin is just firewood by now.

WILLIAM
Play with me.

SCRIBE
What are we playing?

WILLIAM
The song of our kind. The Ballad of the Sapiosexual.

William continues playing. SCRIBE lifts up an invisible violin. He draws his bow across the air and a wonderful violin melody starts playing. SCRIBE circles around William while they both play.

WILLIAM
(out of character)
I’m sorry can I ask a question?

The lights shift. William is back to actor. We’re back in the rehearsal process.

SCRIBE
Certainly.

ACTOR
Did that happen?

SCRIBE
Did we play ‘air orchestra’ while talking?
No, of course not.

ACTOR
Oh.

SCRIBE
Is that a problem?

ACTOR
No, it just gives me more freedom.
So I can take my artistic liberties?

SCRIBE
You can take artistic liberties with whatever you want…within your scope as an actor.

ACTOR
I know, but if it was something that actually happened I would want to know more about the details. That’s all.

SCRIBE
Ok. Well it didn’t happen.
It was a flight of fancy.
You are free to…go with where the spirit moves you.

ACTOR
I don’t want to disrespect your lover’s legacy.

SCRIBE
He wasn’t my lover.
He was just…a love.
A brief, fanciful thing. So play with me.

ACTOR
Okay. Let’s play.

SCRIBE is about to go back into it when…

ACTOR
And I’d love to talk with you some time.

SCRIBE
About what?

ACTOR
Just to pick your brain. I’m new in the city and just trying to get to know people.

SCRIBE
Sure, sounds good.

ACTOR
Okay, I’m ready to go back in. Shall we?

SCRIBE
We shall.

Cast Requirements

2M - 30s-40s

Set Description

Blank stage.