Muzzle Blast – The Redux
A Play in One Act
By Eric Goudie
4th Draft © May 2009
Time: The present.
The set represents two working-class apartments, crammed together in a dilapidated building. Julie and Katherine share the SR apartment. A kitchen runs along the rear wall, with a small table and two chairs just downstage. Down from that, the door to the apartment hallway. That’s about it, though the entire place should be strewn with overflowing ashtrays, trashy magazines and the most pathetic of feminine accoutrements.
Harold’s apartment is SL. His is much the same as Julie and Katherine’s, but the kitchen fades off SL and the couch doubles as a bed when needed. Again, the place is strewn with beer cans, cigarette butts and porn, perhaps even dirtier than the other apartment.
A very narrow hallway runs between the two apartments and another narrow hallway runs across the front of them. The rest of the space downstage SL and SR is open and can be used for the non-apartment scenes, with minimal set pieces that can be removed when not in use.
Scene 1 – Julie and Katherine’s Apartment
Lights up on Julie in the hallway, carrying two bags of groceries. She fumbles with her keys and just manages to get in without dropping anything. She is still in her uniform, that of a diner waitress: boring, threadbare, designed by a man for a man. She kicks off her shoes and goes over to the answering machine and puts the groceries away during the following messages.
V/O 1: Hello dear, it’s your mother…again. Call me one of these days, will you? Or better yet, why don’t you come up here for a cup of coffee some day? Don’t try and tell me you’re so busy you can’t get away for a few hours to visit your own mother. (Pause) I can send your father down to Arnie’s for a drink, if you like. He can still remember where Arnie’s is, in fact he’s there right now. I don’t think he’d even recognize you anymore, to be perfectly honest. Anyway, call me, okay?
JULIE: Fat chance, bitch. Throw the old pervert in jail, then maybe we’ll talk.
V/O 2: Julie. Frank. Pick-up. I know you’re home. You left over an hour ago. Jessie called in sick. Stupid little skank. I need you to work a double tomorrow, no excuses, okay?
V/O 3: This is an automated message from Rosedale High School. Your child “Katherine” was marked absent from “5th” period today. Detention has been assigned and future lateness or absence without medical certification will result in suspension.
JULIE: What did you do now, you little tramp?
Julie has finished putting the groceries away and crosses to the couch. She lays down and puts a cold cloth on her head, still smoking. She closes her eyes.
Katherine appears in the hallway. She too is smoking a cigarette, which she stamps out before she enters. She comes in and reaches for Julie’s smokes.
JULIE: And just what do you think you’re doing?
KATHERINE: Just tidying up a bit for you, mom.
JULIE: Sure. Don’t you know smoking is bad for your health?
KATHERINE: I don’t smoke, mom.
JULIE: And I suppose you don’t have a tattoo on you left tit either, do you?
JULIE: Sooner or later a mother finds out all her daughter’s secrets, Katherine, never forget that. So how was school today?
KATHERINE: Sucked. How was work?
JULIE: Sucked. Are those new shoes?
KATHERINE: Yeah. Isabelle gave them too me. She says they hurt her feet too much. She’s getting so fat that in another couple of months none of her clothes are going to fit her.
JULIE: She’s not pregnant, is she?
KATHERINE: No, just stupid. Can I have a beer?
JULIE: You want to get fat like Isabelle?
KATHERINE: No, I want to get drunk and forget about my crummy day, just like you.
JULIE: Not a chance. So tell me about 5th period.
KATHERINE: 5th period?
JULIE: 5th period.
KATHERINE: Phys Ed. I hate it. Say, have you seen the new neighbour? The guy who moved into 410? I saw him leaving this morning. He’s fairly young, younger than you anyway. Probably single. Why don’t you…?
JULIE: Back to 5th period, matchmaker.
KATHERINE: Who cares about 5th period?
JULIE: Apparently not you. The school called. They said you skipped.
JULIE: Did you?
KATHERINE: I had my reasons.
JULIE: Let’s hear them.
KATHERINE: It’s none of your business.
JULIE: You’re my daughter. And you’re fifteen. It is my business. Now where were you?
KATHERINE: Well if you’re going to be so anal about it, fine. I was at a rally downtown. I was out supporting a cause I believe in.
JULIE: And what cause was that?
KATHERINE: Gun control. The government wants to extend the deadline for registering every gun in
JULIE: And you think a bunch of illiterate rednecks are worth skipping school over?
KATHERINE: It’s not that at all. They’re deliberately dragging their feet. We don’t want the government to extend the deadline. The law is the law. We want them to start arresting those bastards.
JULIE: You’ll be living on the streets if you don’t graduate.
KATHERINE: Are you even listening to me? This is serious.
JULIE: So is skipping school. Look, honey, I’m glad you feel strongly about this, really I do, but it’s just not worth skipping school over.
KATHERINE: How can you say that? Do you remember what happened down at…?
JULIE: Yes, I remember. I’m glad you want to honour their memories. But if they were alive today I’m sure…
KATHERINE: But they’re not alive today, mom. They’re dead. They’re dead because we couldn’t do anything to stop the monsters who hate us just because we’re women. Well now we can stop them. We can stop them from doing what they did to those women down at the Polytechnique, and that’s one hell of a lot more important thing to me than a damn class.
JULIE: I don’t want the school to call again.
JULIE: No more skipping. Any more and you’ll be grounded for another week.
KATHERINE: Another week?
JULIE: You weren’t going to get off with just a warning. Consider yourself lucky you don’t lose your phone.
KATHERINE: You’re treating my like a kid!
JULIE: You are a kid! My kid. A very stubborn, stupid, pig-headed kid, but still my kid. And my kid is not going to be skipping classes. My kid is going to go to school, study her ass off and graduate and have some decent chances in her life that her mother never had.
KATHERINE: What’s the point of having chances if I can’t walk through a dark alley late at night?
JULIE: That’s enough!
KATHERINE: Why aren’t you listening to me?
JULIE: I said that’s enough!
KATHERINE: You’re scared, aren’t you? You’re scared I’ll drop out of school and wind up just like you. Just another pregnant teenage whore.
Julie strikes Katherine across the face.