ACT III--THE BRIDGE OF DREAMS
[Jack, with Henry, Shoko, and Laura at Lake Arrowhead.]
After they'd finished that first run of Romeo and Juliet, Jordan insisted he didn't want anything
to do these movie versions of the plays Betty was considering. He went directly into rehearsal on
The Tempest, which he was to direct and in which he'd play Prospero--
to Christine's Miranda. That made Betty mad..
Which meant that Christine got caught between Betty and Jordan--had them fighting over her.
Betty had only begun to take Christine seriously on our trip to France, and Jordan when he saw
her in A Midsummer Night's Dream. He said he thought Christine had more natural aptitude
for Shakespeare than any actress he'd ever seen--of any age.
But Betty was just as enthusiastic as Jordan about casting Christine as Juliet--which gave her her
fourth double-suicide play--then was delighted to work with her as the nurse. She had
discovered her daughter. But, a star for the first time in her life, Christine, if still deferential, was a
surprisingly stubborn star-- adding a third set of ambitions and a third ego to the mix. As the play
closed, she did want to make a movie of Romeo and Juliet--she'd seen what making The
Countess Rostovna had done for her mother, who kept telling her how this film could capture
her young performance on permanent record. But Jordan was also actively courting her for The
Was rehearsing her for The Tempest! He'd wanted to do it anyway, but having Christine for
Miranda made it irresistible. I asked Betty if that, too, might become one of the films in the series.
She said, "I want the love-suicide plays first, since they comment on one another so nicely, and
might make a neat package for a television series--like Hallmark's. After that we can think about
others--including The Tempest." I'd arranged for the actors to come out over Easter break for
screen tests, and most were flying out, but Jordan perversely decided to drive across country--
with Christine--in his Ferrari.
And they took their time getting here, stopping in Kansas, to see your old school, and then at
Wellington, to see where Christine had been born.
[Laughs.] They even dropped in on Marge.
I'm sure Marge was delighted. Then, here they came, in the Ferrari he'd let Christine drive
halfway across the country--while Betty waited--and after Betty had received that letter
accusing them of being more than traveling companions.
I got one, too. I'd already heard enough gossip not to want them driving across country together,
a la Lolita. But try to tell a high-school senior that--and Jordan remarked that, though still in
school, she was already eighteen. So they just packed and left. But, after we got those letters, I
decided to fly out and take Christine back to New York by air--back to school.
Someone in the company probably wrote the letter, suggesting Christine was pregnant--with
Jordan's child. Not that Betty believed it. But it still upset her, for Jordan had been courting
Christine . . . as his Miranda.
It seemed to Betty that, if they were competing for Christine longer term, Jordan might be trying
to win in part by keeping her in possession, and she became even more determined that Christine
would be here, working on the film, this summer. She wanted to separate them, then have it out
with Jordan without Christine being there. [To Shoko.] Jack might like to see that letter. The
one from Jordan, too.
I'll get them.
[Watching Shoko move slowly back toward the cabin--to Laura.] How has everything been
going between you and Christine . . . since the funeral?
Surprisingly well, Jack . . . considering. Christine was devastated by the catastrophe here,
of course--not just by the death of two people who'd come to mean everything to her, but by
being in the middle of all the blood and violence. Even before that, all the praise of her
performances in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet was pretty heady for a
high-school girl. Suddenly caught up in the theatre, it was all Jordan. That had worried me. I
really thought she might be able to seduce him . . . even if Betty had never been able to.
[Laughs.] But I don't believe she did. At least she didn't get pregnant. He was prepared to
fight Betty for her, however.
Here comes Shoko . . . and I see Christine there at the window.
[Returning, with the letters in her hand.] This one's from New York . . . see the postmark. This
one's from Jordan, written while they were on their way here.
[Takes the first letter, and reads.] Dear Betty Fredricks: You must be concerned about Christine,
so should look into what's going on between her and Jordan Simms. More than just rehearsing
another Shakespeare play I can tell you. They always come and leave together, and are
constantly hovering over each other. I saw her coming out of a doctor's office about ten days ago.
Then, last week, she was sick in the ladies' room, like a woman who's pregnant. If she were my
daughter, I'd find out about it.
Does anything in this give a clue to the identity of the writer, or any hidden motives?
We've had our suspicions, but nothing definite. I got a similar letter, no doubt from the same
"friend," and at first did think, "Well, if not Jordan, perhaps Ben. The temptation's always there."
I'd seen no such signs at home--but I did call Betty.
Betty speculated about that with Henry and me, but wasn't sure. There's always somebody, I
guess. Then here's the letter she got from Jordan a day or two later. He obviously didn't know
about the other letter. [Hands Jack the letter, which he reads.]
I'm writing from glorious Wellington, Nebraska, where I've stopped with Christine. We've
just had a long lunch with Marge French, your old buddy. Christine was delighted by Marge
telling her how much she looks like you did when she was born.
I've thought a lot about your plans for me on this trip, and I don't want to make movies at all.
Some of the greatest Shakespearian actors of this century have been destroyed by movies, and
it would be a mistake to divide our energies. I'll support the experimental work you seem
determined to do, so long as it's in New York, and on the stage. If you insist on filming Romeo
and Juliet, I don't want to be involved. It shouldn't be hard to find a name actor willing to play
Capulet--a nice cameo bit. We can continue to perform the play, work The Tempest in, and
with Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth, and Othello, that'll give us a solid Shakespearian base.
I'm provoked to write in part by the affection I've come to have for Christine. I've been
spending a lot of time with my Miranda, and begin to develop Prospero's feelings toward her,
as a daughter with a future as a queen--in the theatre. She's doing most of the driving across
these wide open spaces. I've been talking to her as she's been driving, and think she agrees with
me. She should be a Shakespearian actress, not a starlet. She can be the greatest there ever
was--if she'll work with me. And who knows what impact the three of us working together
could have on American theatre?
If you and Henry continue with this plan to film other plays, I may establish an independent
company, taking any of the actors in the New Age Players with me who want to go. I'm sure
Christine will go with me, too--for this summer at least--as my Miranda. Remember, the New
York stage has as much appeal for her as it did for you from out here in Nebraska. But I'm
still bringing her on, for her own 'screen test'--then you can talk to her about it.
He took her on quite a trip.
When she got the letter, the first thing Betty said was, "Yes, his Miranda. That's what he wants!
So I insist on going ahead with Romeo and Juliet immediately--to save Christine from him."
She was very angry, jumped on Jordan immediately when he called that morning to say he and
Christine were leaving from somewhere near the Grand Canyon, and should arrive at Shangri-
La that evening. She read him that other letter over the phone, accusing him of at least abusing
I thought she was a little jealous of both of them.
The psychology gets pretty complicated, doesn't it?
I got on the phone, and he agreed to meet us here, saying they'd drive here directly. As we
drove up to the lake, Betty wanted me "to explain the facts of life to Jordan. Tell him what this
means financially. He'll believe it coming from you." Then, late in the afternoon, she said, "But
I don't want Christine here." She called Shoko to have her bring our tentative agreement on
filming Romeo and Juliet and other papers she wanted Jordan to see, telling her, "You can
take Christine back to Shangri-La, while Henry and I fuss these things out with Jordan." Then
she suggested we take the boat out on the lake, "to see if I can calm down a little. We'll come
in when Shoko gets here."
Betty always liked it out on the lake.
That day, out on the lake, she was talking about going to Japan, about what she'd been hearing
from you about theatre in Tokyo.
I'd hoped Betty and Shoko could get to Tokyo while I was there, to see things we'd talked
about with the countess.
We'd been cruising around the lake talking about anything but these immediate problems, when
Betty said, "My God! There's Jordan now . . . puffing up the trail. Christine has him by the
hand, as if she's leading him! What a sight! Let's get in!" We hadn't been counting on the
speed of the Ferrari.
They got to the cabin first, and Jordan was churning, which seemed to amuse Betty. She called
the house in Encino, and Thomas said Shoko had already left.
I stopped to buy some things, and have regretted it ever since.
Then, in spite of the fact Christine was there, she confronted Jordan, accusing him of using
Christine. "That's a kind of child abuse! And what have you been doing, under the pretext
of all this rehearsal? What about this letter--suggesting she may be pregnant, thanks to you?"
She turned and asked Christine, "Are you?" I was surprised by the intensity of Betty's anger.
It really was as if she were jealous of Christine, who was shocked. "Pregnant? I am not
pregnant!" But--if you're so interested-- we are planning to get married. I'll do whatever
[Shakes her head.] I'd had no idea it had gone that far . . . planning to get married?
So Christine said. I said to Jordan, "How could you mislead this child like that, Jordan?
You're old enough to be her father! My age! Capulet! Prospero! Not Romeo! Taking
her off across country this way . . ." But he was still laughing, saying, "Henry, somebody's
been reading you too many Greek tragedies." Christine was still shouting denials, but she was
brushed aside, as I was, as they began castigating each other, as if they were on stage. Betty
finally told Christine to go into the bedroom, as if dismissing a naughty child.
No doubt just wanted her out of the way until Shoko got here.
But that turned out to be the biggest mistake of all. Jordan kept goading Betty. He said,
"How could I possibly use Christine to influence you, Betty? You never paid her any
attention at all-- left her for others to raise! Now that she's old enough to challenge you--
for the attention of men, as an actress--with the advantage of youth--you become competitive.
The 'outraged mother, concerned about her daughter's virtue' just won't play." Betty said,
"But she is my daughter, and we'll do the Romeo and Juliet out here this summer . . . with
you or not!" Then Jordan changed tack, as if willing to negotiate, saying, "Let us do The
Tempest this summer--then, fine, you and Henry do this film version of Romeo and Juliet--
with me or not. Then, where Christine is concerned, you decide. Laura talks about her going
to college, even that college in Nebraska you couldn't wait to get away from. And your great
friend, Marge, says she'd be happy to arrange it, that Christine could stay with her."
A nice picture, Christine staying with Marge to go to school at Wellington--but he did seem to
be trying to win Betty over.
Sure, to let Christine do The Tempest first. Betty absolutely refused, and he changed tack
again, saying, "I've been talking to Christine a lot on this trip, and think I know what she wants."
Betty got madder and madder, finally telling Jordan to leave Christine and get out. He said,
"No. If I can't take both of you back to New York--this time--then I sure intend to take her.
To do The Tempest this summer! And we'll leave now!"
That's forcing the issue. Must have been pretty sure of himself.
I tried to explain our financial commitments, but Jordan said, "I don't give a damn, Henry! I
know we can do The Tempest. You can worry about these California idiots!" Jordan and
I were exchanging angry insults, and Betty began to yell, "Stop it! Shut up! Listen to me!
Henry, you stay out of this!" Jordan took me by the arm, led me to the big chair by the
window, and said, "Sorry to get you so upset, Henry. You just sit here and listen. I'll tell
Betty what I intend to do. Then you can help her sort things out later--tomorrow and
tomorrow and tomorrow." I sat down. Jordan told Betty, "I have no desire to marry the girl.
That was her idea--but I might do it if it's the only way to get her away to do the play! I want to
do The Tempest with her--oh, then maybe Hamlet. Because she's a rare partner on stage.
That's the only consummation I desire. And I intend to take her back to New York and do it!
Nothing else matters . . . not to me!" "I have my own plans for Christine--and I'm her mother!"
"She's eighteen now, Betty, will soon graduate from high school. There'd be nothing to keep
us from getting married . . . . if you insist . . . "
That's putting it to the test.
Christine had been listening from the bedroom. That's when she came back into the room,
evidently carrying the gun you were going to shoot a bear with in Alaska--and determined to
get their attention. I heard her yell, "What am I? Just a child? To be ordered around any way
the two of you decide?" But they still ignored her. [Pauses.] Then I heard the first shot.
When they refused to listen, she fired the gun, through the roof, I think. I've asked Shoko
where it leaks when it rains, but she can't tell, so I don't know where the hole is.
Christine told me that . . . that she fired the gun first.
That got our attention. I think I tried to hide under the chair, and hoped Jordan didn't mean
me when he shouted, "Get that thing away from her!" Betty evidently was trying to take the
gun from Christine, who may have been threatening Jordan with it, for he was shouting, "Put
that down! That's no stage prop. It's loaded! Don't point . . . " Then I heard the second
shot, that must have hit Jordan in the chest. I don't know who had the gun then, but the shot
came over Betty's sharp commands to "Stop it!" Then Christine screamed. I think Betty was
struggling to get the gun from Christine, with Jordan moving to take it from both of them,
when it went off--accidentally.
You think that Betty shot Jordan . . . or . . .
I don't know, Jack but that's when I jumped in, probably just as Jordan got possession of the
gun. I heard his sour laugh as he said, "My God, did either of you ever shoot a gun before in
your life?" He tried to push me away, turning back toward them, and I grabbed him with both
arms. I felt the blood on his chest--and then the recoil--when the gun went off again . . . as if
I'd fired it myself. The gun must have fired the second time as he was taking it from the women,
that bullet hitting him in the chest. Then, as I tried to intercede, I jostled him--like Romeo
getting between Mercutio and Tybalt--causing the pistol to fire the third time, the shot that killed
Betty. All accidental. Angry as she was, Betty would never have shot Jordan on purpose. But,
since he suffered a fatal wound, she might as well have. And I know he had the pistol when it
fired that last time-- because I felt it fire. That left me struggling with a wounded man, to protect
a woman who was already dead. Totally insane! Jordan was staggering as I guided him to the
chair. And, after screaming, "No! No!" Christine was sobbing so uncontrollably that, when
Jordan told her to call the police, she wasn't even listening. As I released him, I said, "I'll call."
But then, though he was a dying man, I heard him pick up the phone and evidently dial the
emergency number. "There's been a lovers' disagreement out here in the mountains, friend.
Please send police, and an ambulance . . . though I think it'll be too late. What? Where? Oh, t
he lake road. Number 64. Right, Henry? We've both been shot . . . shot each other." I heard
him drop the phone, and picked it up myself, dealing with the operator's bewilderment as best I
could. She soon said the sheriff and medical help were on the way.
But not in time to be of any help.
Since Jordan had called the police, and called it a lovers' quarrel, the police read it that way at
first. But critics who'd seen the Chikamatsu plays in New York began to describe it as a
Japanese double suicide. Almost what it was. They were lovers in life--more than they knew--
and so in death. The recording of that telephone call exists, so why question it? After the
emergency operator hung up, I called Thomas, and told him what had happened. He said he'd
come immediately. I turned back to Jordan, who was still conscious. He said "Betty's dead,
Henry," and told me to get Christine out of there. "Take the Ferrari--and go! She can drive. I'll
take care of things when the police get here, will tell them to call you and the women at their
Shangri-La. Go on--take her!" I could hear Christine wailing, and could not imagine her driving,
was trying to do what I could for Jordan when Shoko arrived.
I was parking next to their Ferrari when I heard the shots, so ran up the path. Coming in the
door was like entering Dante's hell--blood everywhere. Henry added to the surreal quality, sitting
there with Jordan bleeding all over him, holding that gun in both hands. I went to Betty--lying on
the carpet, blood covering the front of her--hoping she might still be alive. When I saw the
gunshot wound in her head, I fell to my knees. Christine was sitting close to Betty, in a pool of
blood, sobbing hysterically. Jordan had passed out, so Henry began struggling to prop him up, to
keep him talking. As I recovered my senses, I tried to quiet Christine, then to help Henry with
Jordan. When I first touched him, Henry thought I was Betty--that she couldn't be dead. I
started asking him questions, and he said, "Shoko? Is that you? Is Betty all right?" When I told
him she was dead he said, "Oh God, it's true. And Christine? Are you there, Christine? Was
Christine shot? And look at Jordan, please. He's badly hurt. Help him if you can."
I couldn't believe it. Until I heard Jordan on the phone I wasn't sure that Betty had even been
hit--just that he had. I kept expecting her to speak, but . . . she died without a word. I still
can't believe . . . that . . . of Betty.
I'm afraid my questions weren't much help, either. I was in shock Jordan recovered
consciousness briefly, looked up at me, shook his head, and said, "Ridiculous, isn't it? Well,
you two try to take care of each other . . . and poor Christine." He looked over at her, where
she sat sobbing, then passed out again. So the last word he spoke was Christine's name.
I think he had come to think of Christine as his daughter, first as Capulet, then as Prospero.
And, once he saw Betty was dead, I think he accepted that he was going to die with her.
If Jordan was still alive when the sheriff got here, he was unable to speak to him. And, being
blind, Henry didn't seem much more sure of what had happened than I was.
Oh, I told him what had happened, just as I have you, Jack, but didn't see a need to tell him
Christine had brought the gun into the room and fired the first shot. He asked, "How'd they kill
each other with one gun?" After I explained it all again, he said, "Unhuh . . . maybe . . . but you
couldn't see what was happening, this girl saw it, but is in no condition to talk about it, and you
just heard shots from the road, Miss . . . ?" Shoko told him her name, and what she knew.
When Thomas got here, the sheriff let him take the three of us back to Encino, saying he'd talk
to all of us again the next day.
Thomas was deeply shocked--just stood looking at Betty's body. But when the sheriff released
us, he said, "Let's take the young lady home." Laura arrived the following day, which helped
with Christine. Then we hardly left the house until after the funeral. The police did question us
at length, but finally seemed inclined to accept that Betty and Jordan had killed each other . . .
accidentally, or perhaps as a kind of double suicide.
Who put the bodies in the position they were in when the photograph that was in the newspaper
I suppose I did. I first arranged Betty, to conceal that horrible wound and put her clothing in
order. Then, when we knew Jordan was dead, we laid him down beside her.
Did you know that laying them end to end that way recreated the publicity poster picture from
the Japanese film version of Chikamatsu's Shinju Ten no Amijima--the poster Betty had used
so widely in New York? I've been wondering how, if Henry had never seen that poster, he
could have duplicated it so closely, so I thought it must've been you . . . or Christine. [Pause.]
That's where I'm remembering that scarf from, too-- that picture, covering part of Betty's head
and one shoulder.
I was a suspect myself for a time, you know--in spite of being blind. I was the one holding the
gun when the sheriff got here.
It was a week later that Henry and I came back up here, to gather Betty's things. Thomas was
helping me, and we missed Henry. We finally found him wandering down by the lake. And it
was even harder for Christine. She had so recently become so close to both of them--then to
live with the feeling that she had caused their deaths. After the funeral Laura suggested I stay
here with Henry, while she took Christine back to New York-- to finish school. What could we
do but go on with our lives?
And New York was where our lives were. That's been difficult enough. The New Age Players
assume that, without Betty or Jordan, the company no longer exists. Henry has talked to them
some on the phone . . . but, like Christine, they're lost souls.
I want to talk to you about that, Jack . . . but later . . . when Christine comes out.
But, once she finished school, Christine began to feel there was nothing left for her in New York.
She wanted to be back out here in California, at the lake, in spite of the fact that . . . now maybe
because . . . they had died here.
I think back on that day--how, when I heard the first shot, it made my blood freeze. Then my
great blunder, as I grabbed Jordan, and heard the gun go off again. I still hear it in my dreams,
Jack . . . and hear Betty groan and fall. I feel I'm responsible for Betty's death . . . not Christine.
[The screen door opens.] Well, there she is! No longer in her mother's swimming suit--nor in
her new kimono--but a young delight in spring cotton. I almost expect her to exclaim, "Oh
Brave New World." But it can hardly be that to her any longer. I see her mother coming down
the aisle of Baker auditorium, and I'd cast her in a minute--for anything. If Betty's ghost is
presiding over us, I say, "Look homeward, Angel . . . and melt with ruth" . . . for this your
daughter . . . and for all of us.
[They stop talking, watching Christine come down the path,
until she is close enough for her
footsteps to be heard.]
Ah ha, Christine! We've been talking to your father about your mother long enough. Come sit
here by me. And tell Jack about your plans . . . now that you're a woman of substance.
[Sits next to Henry, who moves closer to Shoko. Grendel moves to settle at her feet. They are
silent for a moment, then Christine speaks, to Jack.] Uncle Henry says Mother left me
everything--Shangri-La, her New York apartment, her interest in the theatre company, rights in
the movie you made, her scripts, her bank account, her insurance . . . everything.
That's right, Jack. As surviving spouse, you'd normally inherit property held by Betty in
California, but, when you decided you wanted Shangri-La to be strictly hers after she inherited
it from the countess, she had the papers drawn up so it would pass directly to Christine, knowing
the countess would have wanted that. You may remember signing some things at that time.
Yes. Also disclaiming any financial interest in what they were doing in New York, as I recall--
and she signed some reciprocal papers disclaiming interest in things I owned here--like my
clothes and car, I think.
Well, Betty's estate has become a lot more complicated as she's been signing contracts on things
with all kinds of contingencies. She'd named Christine as her beneficiary on insurance policies
and such, but just weeks before her death, after the success they'd had with Romeo and Juliet
on stage, and right after signing the contract to do it as the first film in this new series, she began
to talk to me a lot about Christine as her natural heir. We drafted a new will, stating that
Christine was to inherit her entire estate. Shoko and I just got all the papers in the safe deposit
box a day or two before . . . Betty was shot. Had she told you that she was planning to do that?
No. [To Christine.] I admit I hadn't thought much about your "financial situation." But this
shows that your mother's special affection for you at the end of her life was real.
I'm not sure about that . . . and don't care. But I loved working with her in those last months.
I was lucky, as a beginning actress, to work with her so closely in Romeo and Juliet. And with
Jordan Simms, the greatest actor I've ever seen on stage. I loved them both. I can't believe . . .
they're dead. [Pauses.] I don't care about the money. I've never had to worry about money,
have I? But now I have the obligation. I want to continue Mother's work. I think that's what
she intended by leaving me everything. I've got to learn how, but I've got Uncle Henry to help
me. He handled everything for Mother. Didn't you?" [She touches Henry's hand. He smiles,
and just nods.] So I still want to make the film of Romeo and Juliet. Uncle Henry says that
can be re-negotiated, that he could act as my agent--if you're willing to sign as legal guardian.
[She pauses, looking at Jack.] Of course, when we did the play, Mother was the nurse and
Jordan . . . Mr. Simms . . . played my father, so their parts would have to be re-cast . . . [Again
she pauses.] And we can't do Antony and Cleopatra and the two Japanese plays at all. I
couldn't do Cleopatra the way Mother did--not yet. But she wanted to do Romeo and Juliet
first . . . for me. And I still want to do it--to show that I am her daughter.
You've already demonstrated that, Chris.
And I want to work with the New Age Players in New York, too. They won't take direction
from me--an eighteen-year-old girl--like they did from Mother . . . or Jordan. I don't know how
to direct. [Looks straight Jack.] But you do! [Looks away again.] I'll need help. But it's my
company now, isn't it? Mother . . . and Jordan . . . left it to me! [Looks back at Jack.] I could
still play Miranda there. [Looks across the lake.] I don't know who'd play Prospero--who could
play Prospero like he would have. But I want to do it, for him, as I want to do Juliet for her.
And I can! [She begins to get excited, and her eyes sparkle.] I'd like to play all of Shakespeare's
heroines--like Mother was doing. Jordan talked about that on our trip out here. I'd like to do
Isabella in Measure for Measure next, then Ophelia in Hamlet . . . and work up to Lady
Macbeth and Cleopatra. I'd like to do the other Ionesco plays Mother was planning to do. I
could start with La Lecon, since I'm old enough, and could do it with Uncle Henry. [Henry is
smiling.] And Hester Prynne, in your Scarlet Letter . . . like Mother did.
I know that it sounds pretty fantastic, Jack--for an eighteen- year-old girl to be talking about
producing Shakespeare and Ionesco in New York. But that was really the surprise I was talking
about on the telephone. I think it might work. The New York part might depend on how the
film of Romeo and Juliet does at the box office, but the Romeo, Ben, is still available, as are
most of the others--so I think a good film is still there. And so does Randall. Your daughter
does need help, however. Finally, we need you, Jack--perhaps to direct the film. And it makes
a great concept, doesn't it? Picking up the torch her mother has dropped, after she made it
blaze so brightly in Antony and Cleopatra and The Countess Rostovna. And why not try it?
Even if nobody buys tickets, what have we lost? Betty's given Chris, first, this remarkable
talent, then the resources to do something with it, and, finally, with this film contract, entrée into
infinite possibility. If you'll support her, I'll continue to manage things--with Laura's and Shoko's
help. Even if the film is successful, she'll need more help in the theatre than, being her mother's
daughter, she may think, of course. I know Laura will help, as she always has, and will provide
moral support. But that's not enough, not in putting a play together. She needs people with
theatre experience--most importantly, someone to stand as Betty, or Jordan, did, as producer/
But what about college? Won't this wait?
No! I'm going to be an actress--like Mother was. I agreed to finish high school . . . and I did!
And we can re-schedule the plays we do, can't we? The actors could be doing plays that Mother
wasn't in, or had small roles . . . that I could try now.
Hey, babe, we're all on your side, you know. But we've got a lot to think about here.
Particularly your dad has. So let's sleep on it. Then, how about this? You and your dad take
the boat out on the lake, tomorrow morning. Then see what he thinks.
I might even run some of Miranda's lines with you. Audition for Prospero. But wasn't Henry
planning to fix us some steaks.
Laura, could you help me with other things for dinner, while Henry does the steaks? [The two
of them go up to the cabin, and are soon heard laughing together in the kitchen.]
I like Henry's idea of tomorrow morning out on the lake. That always worked for us before . . .
as a place to talk about things. [As she sits there without saying anything, he is struck by how
much she already seems in character as Miranda.] So you were already rehearsing . . . for
[After looking at him as if appraising how candid to be.] Poor Jordan. I can tell you how much
I did love him, can't I? I wanted to do The Tempest this summer--for him--though I knew that
made Mother mad. I even suggested we get married just so he'd get his way. I would have
married him! But he laughed at that. To him it was more as if I were his daughter. He never
put a hand on me . . . not like that. He could have. He let Mother think he had--even that I
might be pregnant! I'm not sure why. Then the way they died was so horrible. So insane.
And my fault! Why did I get that gun? I just wanted them to listen to me! But I've thought a
lot about what happened. At least Mother died with the man she'd always loved, too. I
probably shouldn't say that to you. But it's true. You've watched them on stage. It was
special to be on the same stage with him. And they were perfect together. Yes, I loved him. I
wanted to be his Miranda. And then . . . I don't know what I wanted. I know he didn't want
me--as a woman-- because he could have had me . . . easily . . . any time on the trip. He
wanted an actress, someone to be on stage with.
Yes, but he did have a special power over women. I'm sure you're right about your mother . . .
that she did love him . . . as much as she ever loved anyone . . . to be his Cleopatra.
And it doesn't bother me . . . now . . . that this is where they died. It did at first . . . but I still
feel more at home here than anyplace else. I can do as Mother used to do, sit out here in the
sun with Grendel and paint pictures of the lake. [The dog looks up as he hears his name.] And
go out in the boat. [Pause.] And I hope it won't shock you if I say I didn't care what people
thought about Jordan and me. I delighted in it, since I was in love with him. He was so
glamorous--so confident. Once we began rehearsing for The Tempest, it was all I could think
about. I heard that talk about him being my father. I asked him about it. He laughed, and said,
"Ask your mother. She should know." I didn't see him that way at all. I'd have given myself
to him any time he'd asked. But he never asked. [Reflective.] So I'm still a virgin. Not bad for
a high-school graduate, is it?
Pretty good, I'd say.
He liked to be with me, though . . . even let me drive his precious Ferrari. We'd go out along
the ocean, and, once out of city traffic, I'd drive. Then I did most of the driving coming from
New York, while he read a Mishima novel. That last day, coming from Arizona, as I was
driving along Highway 40, he kept watching me, telling me how much I reminded him of
Mother that summer he'd first met her. When I said she'd have been a couple of years older,
he said, "Well, you're precocious." He said I was the best Juliet he'd ever seen, and talked
about other things he'd like to do with me--Hamlet, mostly--but said all that was threatened by
what Mother and Henry were doing. He wanted her just to stay in New York . . . with him.
I've seen A Midsummer Night's Dream a dozen times, and that was the best Titania I'd ever
seen, too . . . even if I am prejudiced. As I told Laura at the funeral, I did almost come back
from Japan to see you as Juliet. I would have if I'd known it would be the only chance I'd ever
have to see you on stage with your mother . . . and Jordan. But I thought . . .
That they'd do it again, keep it in their . . . repertoire. [She looks out over the lake.] I know
my Titania got me the part as Juliet--with him as with Mother. Then, as we were rehearsing,
he began to show me a lot of attention . . . so I was surprised he never attempted anything with
me. We'd be out alone, walking on some beach, and I'd think, "Why bring me here if he
doesn't mean to . . . ?" [She laughs.] But he'd just give me advice, as if he were my father--or
director. I was almost eager to be seduced by him--but I wasn't. I don't believe Mother ever
was, either. [She sits there as if reflecting on two generations of lost opportunity.] That last
day, as we got here, Jordan said to let him handle things, that I didn't understand the real issues.
But I couldn't just go "sit in the other room," like Mother told me to. Then, when I heard
Mother and Uncle Henry accuse Jordan of all those things, and they began talking about me as
if I weren't even there, I really got upset. I knew where your gun was kept. Yes, I was angry
when I fired it . . . just to get their attention. Then Mother grabbed for the gun, and it went off
again . . . and then . . . it was terrible!
Having that gun here at all was my fault. What Henry described was a series of ridiculous
Uncle Henry's blind! He heard shots. He didn't see . . . all the blood. When I saw Jordan
bleeding, I went out of my mind. Then Mother was lying there dead, with Uncle Henry still
talking to her! And it was my fault. I dream that I killed them both. I see Mother . . . covered
in her own blood.
I wish I knew how to drive such dreams away. The gun shouldn't have been there. [To
change the subject.] But, hey, you said you'd like to do Ionesco's La Lecon in French, with
Henry, the way your mother did La Cantatrice chauve. So how about doing it in Japanese,
too? I've seen it done, several times, and could try doing it with you. Shoko might do the
housekeeper. Then you could do it on three successive nights, in English, French, and Japanese.
You know "ha ga itai."
Sure, "I've got a toothache" . . . or "j'ai mal de dents."
See, you already have your lines for the last half.
[Laughs.] I'd like that. And I'd like to go to Japan--if you'll take me. Mother wanted to.
Tokyo's an even greater theatre city than Paris, or London . . . or New York. Since your
Japanese is getting pretty good, how'd you like to do a play by a young Japanese playwright,
Betsuyaku Minoru? He won the Kishida Kunio award, Japan's equivalent of the Tony, nearly
ten years ago, for Machi-uri no Sho-jo. I'm working on a translation, as The Little Match Girl.
You know the Hans Christian Anderson story?
Where the little girl sees lights and presents through the windows on Christmas Eve, then
freezes to death?
That's right. Betsuyaku uses the whole story, in voice-over--as if it were being told to you by
someone in the next seat--to counterpoint what's happening on stage, the story of a young girl
abused by her parents during the worst days of the American occupation--perhaps as an
allegorical criticism of the Imperial system. It's an interesting play, and since most Americans
know the Hans Christian Anderson story, it'd be a good play to use to introduce him to New
York. But think of doing it in Japanese, maybe here in Los Angeles! And if we went to Japan
we could climb Mount Fuji, go to the Kabuki-za, visit the Snow Country, go down the Tokaido
road--evoke the spirit of Ono no Komachi. There are so many things I'd like to show you there.
The youth hostel system. How'd you like a raw egg on hot rice with smoked fish for breakfast--
in Kobe, or Hiroshima--after sleeping on a futon on a tatami floor.
And visit Kyoto and Mishima's Temple of the Golden Pavilion, where your play was set.
Jordan would have liked to do that. He was also reading a new Mishima biography.
Yes, he identified with Mishima very strongly. We might do a Mishima play, too.
[Comes out--to Christine.] Are you going to help Henry?
Sure, I told him I would. [Goes off.]
[Sitting next to Jack.] You seem to be getting along well with Christine. How about me . . .
after all that has happened?
I'll promise to take you on a nice trip, too.
Now she's so much like her mother that I wonder how I can still love her so much.
I always loved her mother, too--in spite of everything. From the time I first saw her.
I know. But if I've always had to deal with your abiding love for Betty, the last two years it's
been Christine's love--first for Betty, then for Jordan. But she's still my little girl. There've
been times when I'd have been willing to shoot Betty myself. I was mad at Jordan, too, for
using Christine to get at Betty. But Betty could be just as infuriating to him. He may have shot
her, provoked by that anger. [Shakes her head.] But I heard the police came looking for you,
in Japan? I'd have suspected you myself if you'd been here--to shoot the man who kept luring
the woman you loved away--then shoot her, too! Why not?
The good early memories are too strong. And I hadn't been the least bit jealous of Jordan lately.
I'd come to feel sorry for him in these last few years, and I definitely sympathized with him at
the end, as she was planning to leave him again.
But, as I've reflected upon it, Jack, I think it may have been a fortunate fall for both of them.
Like Romeo and Juliet, they die in their mythic prime, to become legendary. They were
older--will always be remembered as Antony and Cleopatra. But that's better--for them--than
gradually fading away, isn't it?
That's an interesting way to think of it--particularly after it has happened that way--mythologize
them in their death.
Henry and Shoko may even write a joint biography. It was hard for Shoko to lose Betty, but I
was surprised to learn that she was already pregnant at the time of Betty's death. I might even
question the paternity in this case if you hadn't been in Japan the whole time . . . except for the
day of the funeral . . . and I'll give you both the benefit of the doubt there. [Laughs.]
[Coming from the cabin, as she gets close enough.] Things are about ready, and Christine is
helping Henry, so may I join you two. [Pauses, as if not sure of her topic.] I regret that Betty
and Christine and I missed going to Japan together. Betty said after Christine graduated, but
before they started work on the film--while you'd still be there--for a month or so.
Did Jordan know about those plans? That certainly would have interfered with his doing The
He must have. Betty said Jordan might even like to go with us. Since Mishima's death he'd
been reading his novels as fast as they became available in English.
[Coming down to tell them it is time to eat, hears this last.] It's been hard for Shoko, too. She's
lost everyone--except me, a poor blind man. She reminds me that there's a tradition of the blind
poet in Japan, like Homer with the Greeks. So I might try to become a poet . . . and we could
go to Japan, if she wants to. On the other hand, I'm comfortable here.
I am, too. Henry gives me the kind of security I haven't had since the countess died. Since
Betty is gone, too, what I have I have with Henry. Yes . . . comfortable . . . with him . . . here.
And so what about you, Henry? Saying that, do really want to try to do these things with
I've brooded over that, Jack, about what's left after Betty. For me, she's not gone yet. I still
see her. She still talks to me. I wish I could shift my allegiance to Christine as completely as
Thomas seems to have done. I do want to help her. But she's so young in her enthusiasm,
trying to affirm Betty and Jordan's idea that all the world's a stage--while, for me, more and
more, it tends to be a book. I think I'd like to work on that biography of Jordan and Betty--with
Shoko--our Antony and Cleopatra. We can do that here . . . yes, can be comfortable here.
[Calls down from the old picnic table.] Dinner's ready! [Then, as they find places.] Uncle
Henry gets credit for the steaks--but I'll take credit for the salad.
I'm surprised at how hungry I am, and how much I still enjoy eating out in the open . . . at this
[As they eat.] Jack and Henry and I have talked about all reading The Tale of Genji later in the
year, to finish--to cross "the Bridge of Dreams"--on New Year's Day, as Jack and the countess
and I did thirteen years ago.
I might even agree to do it. If Japanese literature is going to insist on being in my future, I'd just
as well begin with the best.
[As they are finishing.] It must be getting dark, Jack, what with your interminable stories.
Surely you do plan to stay overnight. You could sleep in that hollow tree.
You told me that the mattress we used to have in the back of the station wagon is still here.
[Laura just looks at him.]
It is. That's what Christine usually sleeps on when she stays here overnight, but we can make a
bed for her on the sofa . . . with Grendel. [Christine laughs.]
I'd like to carry it down to the station wagon, and sleep there. That's what Laura and I were
used to--in the old days.
[To Laura.] I'll bet that's where I left my scarf . . .
Of course. Now, like everything of hers, it's your scarf. How about helping me carry the
mattress down to the station wagon. Then you can get the scarf? [They stop halfway to look
out over the lake.] The sun setting behind us, reflected off the water, provokes a mood of
profound tranquillity. [Pause.] But we have "miles to go before we sleep." [They move down
to where the cars are parked.] So this is your Ferrari now.
Not mine. It belongs to the Players--and the bank, I guess. Uncle Henry says we may have to
sell it if we do The Tempest. Who needs a car in New York anyway? But it's nice out here.
I'll let you drive it--once you agree to direct for us. I drove it across the country, you know,
while Jordan read Mishima's Runaway Horses, using that three-dimensional postcard of the
Temple of the Golden Pavilion you'd sent him as a bookmark. He loved this car. [Puts her
hand on the fender.]
But Betty's . . . your . . . scarf is here in the station wagon. Why is that, if you've been driving
We took Shoko and Uncle Henry to Katie's Cafe for breakfast, and Laura drove. She'd rather
drive the station wagon, says it knows how to behave here at the lake. Then I forgot the scarf
when we got back. [She reaches in to get it.]
I have a strange feeling as you put her scarf around your neck.
Yes, this scarf was still here after the police left, and I claimed it--inheritance or not. There may
even still be some of Mother's blood on it . . . see these small stains. I like to think so. I'll never
wash it. Her blood is my blood . . . inside and out.
[Later, as Laura and Jack are going down the hill.] I'm not a married man any more. But my
daughter still needs a mother.
[Laughs.] Doesn't she? So I suppose you're both coming back to "faithful Laura" again.
[In the back of the old station wagon, Laura just lets him talk.] Shaving this morning, I thought
about Christine. Looking in the mirror, I thought that, if it were still a brave new world for her,
I was probably more the Caliban than the Prospero in it. Now I'm wondering if she might let me
play Prospero--if my daughter might cast me in the role of her father. The last lead role I had on
stage was George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf--now I wonder if I could playProspero, in
New York. Preposterous, isn't it? But I'm enamoured of the idea. What do you think?
Well, Jack, it's something for you to dream about. [Laughs.]
I like to hear that comfortable laugh here in the dark. What more could any man want . . . in
this life? It's been some time since we've slept here together, but that laugh reminds me of
how comfortable it always was. Still, I can't shake the image of Betty from my memory--not
the image of the woman as I last saw her--but as I first saw her, then as I held her in my arms,
at the base of the scaffold. But now, as I see that image in my mind, suddenly it's not Betty's
face, but Christine's, framed in Betty's scarf. [He was so shocked that he shudders.]
Oh, Jack, I'm so sorry. [Holding his hand in both of hers.]
Yes, I still have faithful Laura. I should ask you to forgive me . . . for everything. But, please,
take my hand and help me walk into that future . . . our future . . . across that bridge of dreams.