Fred and Shirley
A suburban living room. It is a dreary late summer afternoon in 1970
Fred sits, reading the newspaper. After a beat, Shirley nervously comes down the stairs.
That’s the ugliest damn dress I’ve ever seen. I won’t be seen public with you, and all that exposed skin. We’re staying home. We’re not going.”
You told me to get whatever I wanted. You wanted me to look nice. You want me to look good for your boss, right? He is going to be there, right?
(Puts down newspaper)
He’s going to think I married some hussy. Some floozy. He’s going to think I was blind drunk in a bar and dragged you home. You look like one of those girls down by the highway. If we were out together, I’d need to put a paper bag over my head, so no one would recognize me. I’d have to put you in the trunk of the car.
(Walking over to Fred, tugging at her short skirt)
They all would know who you were, Fred, You’ve worn that same jacket to everything we’ve ever gone since we’ve been married. That jacket’s been out as much as we have. Besides, I think your boss likes me in short skirts.
(Waving folder paper at Shirley)
When has he ever seen you in short skirts? Have you two been sneaking around behind my back? What kind of wife…of mother, of a soldier, no less…are you?
Goes to the fireplace mantel and took down a small framed photograph.
Fred, you’ve been working for your boss for twenty five years. We’ve been married for twenty years. Look at this picture; it’s from 1965, five years ago. Freddy’s high school graduation.
(Holds out photograph for Fred to see)
So? What does that prove? What does that picture have to do with anything?
(Returns the picture to the mantel)
It proves that your boss has seen me in a short skirt.
(Reaches for handbag)
Let’s go, Fred. I think you’re stalling. I think you don’t want to go. I think you’d rather stay home with your newspaper and do your crosswords. I think I embarrass you.
(Reaches for Shirley’s hand)
Not at all, Shirley.
(Stands and looks her in the eyes)
You don’t embarrass me. Not at all. I’m sorry.
(He kisses her on the cheek, and hands her a shawl)
It’s not every day your soldier son comes home in a pine box. Let’s get going. We have to be the first ones at the funeral home.
(Pulling the lace shawl over her exposed shoulders)
When you say that, I get a chill. It’s like Freddy is still right here, here with us. Like he is watching over us. Our little soldier.
(Straightens his tie)
I hope he always is.
(They quietly slip out the door)