The Strangest Kind of Romance

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<p>The Strangest Kind of RomanceA Lyric Play in FourScenes</p> <p>Thc gcna cnforces tmirfu; bu,</p> <p>zoa hattc</p> <p>nan</p> <p>tha tnoon in lonaly alleYt tnahe</p> <p>a grail of laughter of an cmqty ash can, and tbough dll rcund of gaiety amd gucst han bcard a kitten in the zttildarnest, Hrnr CneNr (CluPlincsgual</p> <p>CHARACTERS</p> <p>TsB Boxrn. Nrrcnrvo, t/ze cat.</p> <p>Tnr Lnrr.r Mars. Tnr Laworaoy. Tsr Or,o MlrN, her father-in_law.</p> <p>The Strangest Kind of RomanceScnwr: A fu.rnished room im a small industrial city of the niddle-atestern sttttes. It any srch rootn etcce?t that the .reserttbles walls are covered with imniptioi, tlze of fortncr occa?ants of it, men wlzo ha,ue steyed and. pissed along to other suclt. places, tlte itinerant, ummanied *rk;*g*"* oio *"tion. Tltere are two windows. One shows the d,eicate branches ol a tree ilzat is sunend'ering its reaves to rate euta,ftw. The other window adrnits a view of the brktling stacks ol the great *oo* factaring plant wlzich is the heart ollhe city.</p> <p>Scnvr</p> <p>I</p> <p>Tlze Landlady, a heavy of foty anho n o,tres and speak ??ry utitlz a powerful sort ol indotettci, is'showing tlr" roori to a ?to:?ect*e room,er, the Linle Man, dark oh, *or" d"tiraiu and, nentoas in appearante iltan laborers usuoily are. As soon as lze en*rs the door beh.ind the Landldy, his'renorkably iL lapidated suitcase con es a?arr, spilling its conrents o,uer ,he fl.oor--.unlaandered shirts, old sho)s, sh"oe-polish, a rosary.</p> <p>La*pr,aoy: (laugh.ing) Well! The suitcase has decided! tTr (ltooVtng to replace the scattered articles) _ been working loose all day. Lawpr,epy: How long have you had that suitcasel Lrrrr.r Max: Since I started traveling. r35</p> <p>Lt;1r,e</p> <p>lts</p> <p>Lrrtr.r MeN: Itts a beautiful room.Lelrplany: Whotre you kiddingl Lrmr.n MeN: You. FIow muchf Lar*pr.epy : Three-fifty-in advance. Lrrrr,r Maw: I will take it, providedLaworeny: Whatl Provided? Lnrr,r Mew: I can do like the Russian and keep the cat here with me. Lewnr,epy: (grinning) Oh, so you want to do like the Russian. Lrr-rrr Mex: Yes. Launr,eny: (fi*i"S her hair at tlre racked nirror) My husbanrs a chronic invalid. An injury at the plant. Lrrrr,r MaN: Yeahl Itm sorry. Lenprenv: Codein every day. Fifty cents a pill is what it costs me. I wouldntt mind if only he wasntt such a pill sometimes himself. But who can look at suffering in a person? Lrrrr,n MeN: Nobody. LaNu.roy: Yes. That's how I feel. Well . . . the Russian used to help me out with man's work in the house. Lrmrr MeH: I see. LeNpr.epy: How old are youl I bet I can guess! Thirty-fivelUh-huh. About. Leuorapyi Eyetalianl Lrmr,n Mau: Uh-huh. Ler.rnlaoy: Wouldn't you think that I was a fortune-tellerl My father was a Gypsy. He taught me a lot of the Zigeunet songs. FIe used to say to me, Bella, yourre nine parts music-the rest is female mischief ! (Slze smiles at him.) That instrument on the wall's a balalaika. Some night ltll drop in here to entertain you. Lrrrrr Meu: Good. I heard you singing as I came up to the house. That's why I stopped. (She smiles again and, stand,s as il waiting.)</p> <p>Itll call you Musso. Musso for Mussolini. you got jobl Lrmr,e MaN: Not yet. Lerqpr-epy: Go down to the plant ant ask for Oliver Woodson. Lrrrr.r Merv: Oliver Woodsonl Lenpr,eoy: Tell him Mizz Galbway sent you. He'll put you right on the pay-roll.Lnmpr.epy:a</p> <p>Lrrrr.r Mex:</p> <p>Good. Thanks. Lexnr,apy: Linenrs changed on Mondays. (She srur, ,o tutt away") I got to apologi",e for the condition the walls are in. Lrrrr,r Merq: I noticed. Who did itl Lenpr,apy: Every man who lived here signed his name. Lrrrr.r Man: There must have been a lot. Lanor-epv: Birds of passage. You ever try to count theml RestIessness---changes.</p> <p>Lrrrr,r Mew: (smiling) Yeah.LaNor.eoy: Youtd think a man with pay-money in his pocket would have something better to do than sign his name on the walls of a rented bedroom. Lrmr.n MaN: Is the Russiants name here, tool LaNor,epy: Not his name, he couldntt write-but his picture. There! (She paints to a childish carroo?, of a big mon.) Right beside it, look-tail-whiskers-the cat! (Thry both taat{h.) Partners in misery, huhl Lrrrr.B Men: A large manl LaNpr.aoy: Tremendous! But when the disease germ struck him, it chopped him down like a piece of rotten timber . . . Statistics show that married men live longest. Irll tell you why it is, (Sh,e stroightens her bloase and ad.ju.sts the belt.) Men that-live by themselves-get peculiar ways. All that part of their lives that was meant to be taken up with family matters is all left over-empty. You get what I meanl Lrr:rrr MeN: Yeahl LeNnrepv: Well . . . They fill it with make-shift things. I once</p> <p>Lrr:rrr Mru:</p> <p>r38</p> <p>r39</p> <p>LeNor..epv: You must be Gulliver, then! Yory've stood up under the strain a lot better than it has. Lrrrr.n MeN: (stroightenizg) I don't know. Larqor.eov: You aintt held together by such old worn-out roPes. Lrrrr,n MaN: (smiling shyly and' sad.ly) I dontt know. Lenpr,epy: (crossing to rahe the dindoavblind) About this</p> <p>Lrrrr.r Maw: The RussianiLnwpr.apy: Sympathetic, but silent. While I talked he was only watching the cat. Lrrrln MeN: (smiting o little) And so you don't like herl LeNoraov: NO. (Sia sits comfortably on the bed.) Itll tell you the story. FIe was a Russian or something. Polacks I usually call 'em. Occupied this room before he took sick. He'd found the cat in the alley ant brought her home ant fed her ant tookcare of ter ant let ter sleep in his bed. A dirty practice, animals in the bed. Dontt you think so? (The Little Man sh'rugs.)</p> <p>room-I</p> <p>hope you aintt superstitious.</p> <p>Lrmr.n Man: WhylLnwnr,apv: This room is one that a man lived in who had a bad run of luck. Lrrrlp Mew: Oh. What happened to him? (The Lattdlad'y sud.denly obsenses the cat on the bed.) LeNpr-epv: Now how did that cat get in here? A little mysteryt huhl She must've got up the pear tree, dropped on the roof</p> <p>Well'-the work at the plant is unhealthy for even a strongbodied man. The Polack broke down. Tuberculosis developed. He gets an indemnity of some kind and goes West. The cathe wanted to take her with him. I set my foot down on that. told him she'd disappeared. He left without her. Now</p> <p>of the porch, an' climbed in th'window. (Tha Little Man sets don)n his valise and tosses gefi\ smiling to the cat. Hepicks her up atith great tend'erness.) She used to occupy this room with the Russian. Lrmr.r Men: The whol LrNnr-apv: The fellow I mentioned who had the bad run of luck. I used to say I thought she brought it on him. Lrcrr.r MeN: They loved each otherl LlNpr-nov: I never seen such devotion. Lrrrr,n MeN: Then she couldn't have brought the bad luck on him. Nothing's unlucky that loves you. Whatts her namel LeNpr-eov: Nitchevo. Lrrrr.r MeN: Whatl LaNor.apv: Nitchevo. That's what he called her. He told me once what it means but Itve forgotten. It used to give me apain.</p> <p>I</p> <p>I</p> <p>can't get rid of the dirty thing.</p> <p>Lrrrr.e Mew: The catlLaNpr.epv: Twice today I thrown cold water on her when she come slinking around here looking for him. See how she stares at mel Hatred. Withering hatred. Just like one jealous woman looks at another. I go* shets waiting around for him to come home. Lrr:n MeN: Will het</p> <p>r</p> <p>Lrmr.r MaN: WhatlLersor..e,ov:</p> <p>Itd</p> <p>come in here to talk. The circumstances Itve got</p> <p>to live under are trying. I have a good deal of steam to blow ofi. He was a good listener. r36</p> <p>I</p> <p>need</p> <p>LlNpr.apv: Never in this world. Lrr:rlr MeN: Deadl LeNor.eov: The sixteenth of January I got the notice. Wasntt nobody else to be informed. (The Little Mot nods with a sad snile and strokes the cat.) Some people say an animal understands. I told her this morning, He aintt coming back, hets dead. But she dontt understand it. Lrrrr.B Mxv: I think she does. Shets grieving. (holding het ogaimst his aar) Yes, I can hear her-grieving. Llwpr,anv: Youtre a funny one, too. How does this be&amp;oom suit youl t37</p> <p>Lrr:rr-r Mar: Itts</p> <p>a beautiful room.</p> <p>Laxor-aov: Who're you kiddingl Lrrrlp Mau: You. FIow muchl Laxpr,apv : Three-fifty-in advance. Lrrrrr MaN: I will take it, providedLaupreoy: Whatl Providedl Lrrru Maw: I can do like the Russian and keep the cat here with me. tanpr,eny: (grinning) Oh, so you want to do like the Russian.</p> <p>Ltrrr,r</p> <p>Mer.r: Yes.</p> <p>Laxpr,epy: (fi*in7 her hair at the crackad mirror) My husbants a chronic invalid. An injury at the plant. Lrr-rlr MeN: Yeahl Itm sorry. Lexprepy: Codein every day. Fifty cents a pill is what it costs me. I wouldn't mind if only he wasn't such a pill sometimes himself. But who can look at suffering in a person? Lrmrn MnN: Nobody. LeNpr,anv: Yes. That's how I feel. Well . . . the Russian used to help me out with mants work in the house. Lrrrln Meu: I see. Lenor.epy: How old are youl I bet I can guess! Thirty-fivel LrmlB MeN: Uh-huh. About. teNor,apyi Eyetalianl Lrrrr-B Max: Uh-huh. LaNprepy: Wouldn't you think that I was a fortune-tellerl My father was a Gypsy. He taught rne a lot of the Zigeuner songs. FIe used to say to me, Bella, youlre nine parts music-the rest is female mischief ! (She smiles at him.) That instrument on the wall's a balalaika. Some night Itll drop in here to entertain you. Lrrrur MeN: Good. I heard you singing as I came up to the house. That's why I stopped. (She srniles again and sta*d,s as if waiting.) r38</p> <p>LeNpr,npv: I'll call you Musso. Musso for Mussolini. You got a jobl Lrrrr,r Merv: Not yet, Leupr,epy: Go down to the plant ant ask for Oliver Woodson. Lrrrr-n Mer.i: Oliver Woodsonl Lenor,apy: Tell him Mizz Gallaway sent you. He'll put you right on the pay-roll. Lrrrr"B MeN: Good. Thanks. LeNnr,epy: Linen's changed on Mondays. (She storrs to turt away.) I got to apologize for the condition the walls are in. Lrrrr,r Mew: I noticed. Who did itt Laxor,apy: Every man who lived here signed his name. Lrrrr.B Men: There must have been a lot. Lenpr,eoy: Birds of passage. You ever try to count theml RestIessness--</p>