February Stars: A Playbydaj8577©
Before you read on, dear reader, please be warned that this is most likely nothing like what you are used to reading on this site. This is by no means an erotic tale, nor is it akin to my other work in progress, "Seeking Twilight". But my friends, please do read on, at least through the Prologue, and as you read, imagine yourself sitting in a theatre, a member of an audience, watching as the story before you unfold. Imagine seeing what you read.
Cast of Characters
(In Order of Appearance)
SAM RINEHART-30's, A news correspondent
RICHIE BENZ-A young singer/songwriter about 21
STEVEN RHODES-22, founder and lead guitarist of the rock band "Manhattan Rhodes"
MARK HALLOW-21, Bassist for "Manhattan Rhodes"
COLE THOMAS-19, Drummer for "Manhattan Rhodes"
MILLIE DAVIS-Early 40's, Owner/Manager of "Millie's Tavern"
MR. GOODWYN-ANNA's Father
ANNA GOODWYN-A young girl of 17 who looks more like she's 22
APPLEGATE-mid 30's talent agent specializing in turning nobodies into celebrities
SARAH JACOBS-20's, Richie's girlfriend
JULIE MCDUNOUGH-M.C. at the "Kobyashi Club"
TERESA-Early 20's, bartender at the "Kobyashi Club"
LACEY-Early 30's Applegate's secretary
DAVY LARSON-Mid to Late 20's, Host for the Top Twenty Request Show
TAELI JENSEN-21, lead guitarist for "Wilde Blue Riot"
ASH FURTTHUR-21 drummer for "Wilde Blue Riot"
GORDY MADISON-Late 20's, early 30's record producer for "Wilde Blue Riot"
CHRIS GARDENER-Mid-20's, bassist for "Wilde Blue Riot"
FENTON SHARP-Mid-30's, music video director
Scene 1 - Millie's Tavern, a dive in downtown Chicago, a Thursday in May.
Scene 2 - On The Streets of Chicago, moments later.
Scene 3 - Richie's apartment, an hour later.
Scene 4 - The Kobyashi Club, two weeks later.
Scene 5 - On The Streets of Chicago, moments later.
Scene 6 - The Phone Booth, moments later.
Scene 7 - Applegate's Office, the next day.
Scene 8 - The Top Twenty Request Show, early the following week
Scene 9 - Plazacorp. Records; a recording studio, later that week
Scene 10 - Anna's Bedroom, two weeks later - early in the week
Scene 11 - The Green Room for the Top Twenty Request Show, later the following week
Scene 12 - Anna's Bedroom, two weeks later
Scene 13 - The Band's Dressing Room At The Stadium, early the following week
Scene 1 - The Band's Dressing Room At The Stadium, continued
Scene 2 - Outside Applegate's Office, the next morning
Scene 3 - Applegate's Office, a moment later
Scene 4 - Anna's Bedroom, later the following week
Scene 5 - Plazacorp. Records; a recording studio, about the same time
Scene 6 - On The Video Set, a week later
Scene 7 - The Top Twenty Request Show, The following Friday morning
Scene 8 - Anna's Bedroom, early that evening
Scene 9 - Richie's apartment, much later that night
Scene 10 - Outside Applegate's Office, the next evening
Scene 11 - Applegate's Office, a moment later
Epilogue - on stage, here, tonight
(As the audience enters the house, they see a bare stage, lit plainly. The house closes. The lights fade out. We hear static, the sounds of the stations being adjusted and scanned through on a radio. A red and blue police light flashes. Then two. Then five. Then a dozen. The static begins to fade as we hear the sounds of a growing crowd. Citizens, police, E.M.T.'s, reporters. An entire scene unfolding and we barely hear it, like a radio station that won't come in clearly. Out of the noise we pick out some things: there's a girl on a building, she's going to jump, she's not going to jump, we don't know. No one knows. Then in the midst of the confusion, a voice of reason in the form SAM RINEHART, a radio news correspondent. He's trying desperately to be a total and complete professional, but he's failing miserably.)
SAM RINEHART: (rushed and nervous) This is Sam Rinehart, special correspondent for 98.7 FM news reporting in with a special, exclusive, uh . . . report. (that works) I'm on location here just outside a hotel at the corner of Wabash and Lake, where someone who appears to be a young woman, we're not sure who yet, is standing on the edge of the roof of the building. A large crowd has gathered down here and it appears as if the police are deciding how to proceed. I'm going to try to get closer, see if I can't get more information. Officer! Excuse me, Officer!
(The crowd grows louder and more aggressive. Sounds of protests and bits of odd fighting bubble to the surface. More sirens, different sirens. Then, the click and shriek of a P.A. system being turned on, followed by a different voice.)
P.A. VOICE: THIS IS THE CHICAGO P.D. WE HAVE A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION ON OUR HANDS AND WE NEED TO GET FIRE TRUCKS AND E.M.T. UNITS THROUGH TO HELP. WE ARE UNABLE TO DO SO AT THIS TIME, SO WE NEED ALL OF YOU TO DISPERSE IMMEDIATELY SO THAT WE CAN DO OUR JOBS. THANK YOU.
(The crowd grows even more aggressive as protests against the police grow louder in the crowd. The fighting and cursing grows louder as well. The P.A. clicks back on.)
P.A. VOICE: PEOPLE OF CHICAGO, THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE! DISPERSE IMMEDIATELY! WE WILL DISPERSE THIS CROWD OURSELVES BY FORCE! PLEASE LEAVE NOW!
(Protests from the crowd have grown even louder, as have the sounds of fighting. The click and hiss of tear gas guns being fired is soon followed by the clacking boot steps of the Gestapo-esque riot cops. Sirens grow louder, and we hear the biff-baff of billy clubs and fists pounding against soft flesh. Through it all, our voice of reason returns.)
SAM RINEHART: Ladies and gentlemen, I have just received word about our would-be jumper. We now know her identity to be that of singing sensation Aria Gordon. Police officials have released a statement that she seems to have undergone some sort of drug and stress related nervous breakdown and is completely and deadly serious about jumping. I-
(SAM is cut off by the sound of gunfire in the background. He quickly switches gears.)
SAM RINEHART: (Afraid for his life) Ladies and gentlemen, as you can hear behind me, this crowd is growing rapidly into a rather large and dangerous riot. Police are beginning to fire warning shots over the crowd. The fighting is immense, and in fact, I don't mind telling you that I am quite afraid of-
(SAM is cut off once again, this time by a short series of loud, obtrusive screams, then all is silent, save for the sirens. The police lights slowly begin to cut out one by one, as SAM's voice returns.)
SAM RINEHART: (out-of-breath, dumbfounded) Oh my god. She just jumped. (the sirens begin to fade) Ladies and gentlemen, Aria Gordon has just ju- . . . has just leapt from the roof of a hotel at the corner of Wabash and Lake. I . . . I'm staying on here to see if I can find out any other information. For further developments, please stay tuned to this station. This is Sam Rinehart reporting for 98.7 FM news. (all other sounds and lights have completely faded out by now) Oh my god.
(Static. The curtain closes. The static fades away. Silence.)
Scene 1 - Millie's Tavern
(Out of the silence, a single guitar chord. Following the chord, a long, Hendrix-ian riff. As the riff echoes and fades, the curtain flies open. Smoke, light, and music erupt from the stage as the band blasts forth into song without missing a beat. As the smoke clears and the lights adjust, we see the band members clearly, and realize that the quote has now been replaced with the phrase "Manhattan Rhodes". The band is made up of four members; drummer COLE THOMAS, bassist MARK HALLOW, lead guitarist STEVEN RHODES, and the backup guitarist and lead vocalist RICHIE BENZ. As they enter the first chorus of the song, other cast members shuffle in around the band with chairs and small tables, and even a bar off to one side, setting the scene as the cyke now shows a projection of a neon sign reading "Millie's Tavern". The band barely hits their final down beat, and RICHIE is already making his way through people to get to the bar and get a drink.)
STEVEN: (into the mic) We'll be back in five!
(STEVEN follows after RICHIE, as RICHIE pulls up a stool at the bar [between two people who we later learn to be ANNA and APPLEGATE] and calls over the bartender.)
RICHIE: Hey Benny, get me a beer.
(BENNY acknowledges RICHIE.)
STEVEN: (to RICHIE) What the hell do you think you're doing?
(MARK and COLE see that STEVEN is gunning for RICHIE, and they follow, not to take sides, but to keep things from getting out of hand.)
RICHIE: What is it Steven, I'm gettin' a beer.
STEVEN: Jesus, Richie, you're turnin' into a lush.
RICHIE: Can't you go piss somebody else off for five minutes.
STEVEN: Damn it, Richie, we're tryin' to play up here and you keep cuttin' us off with your half assed obsession of gettin' trashed.
RICHIE: You gonna give me the A.A. lecture now, Steven?
STEVEN: No, I'm not. I'm tryin' to keep us playin' while we've got an audience, but somebody is keeping that from happening.
RICHIE: What the FUCK, I'm just tryin' to get a beer.
STEVEN: Yeah, after two songs. That's hardly a set. Jesus, that's hardly even a warm up.
RICHIE: What, are you gonna play mother hen now.
STEVEN: Hell, no! That's not my job! Might be Sarah's job, but it sure as hell ain't mine.
RICHIE: (Defensively) Hey!
STEVEN: (Overlapping) But I'll remind you what my job is. My job is keepin' this band alive, keepin' us on stage, keepin' us movin' and out there, exposed.
RICHIE: How? By gettin' us stuck in crumby little dives like this?
(Millie enters away from the bar. Mark and Cole notice.)
COLE: (Apprehensively) Guys . . .
STEPHEN: (Again overlapping) No, by keepin' us outta crumby little dives like this.
MILLIE: If this is such a crumby dive-
(They all react to her sudden presence.)
MILLIE: (Continuing) would you boys then care to remind me why I pay you as much as I do?
MARK: Uh, sorry Millie, they didn't mean anything by it, did ya guys?
(STEVEN and RICHIE give a less than enthusiastic but unified nod.)
MILLIE: Riiight. (short pause) Quick question: since I am paying you to play, why aren't you?
STEVEN: We were just headed back on stage. C'mon Richie.
MILLIE: Actually Steven, before you get back up there, I'd like to talk to you alone. Now.
(STEVEN and MILLIE head to the other side of the set.)
MILLIE: Steven, we had a deal.
STEVEN: I know.
MILLIE: Every minute that stage is empty, I lose money.
STEVEN: I know, but I've already been givin' Richie a lot of shit over his attitude.
MILLIE: I understand, he's your friend and he's been through hell. I am willing to be compassionate, Steven. However, I am not willing to allow anyone to take advantage of me . . . . . I understand about Richie's brother, but if he's not willing to deal with it, then that shouldn't have to be your problem, and its certainly not going to be mine. Three nights a week for two months too many I've been losing money because of him. Tonight is it, he's gone.
(MILLIE waits for a break in MARK's dialogue.)
RICHIE: (Oozing sarcasm) Oooh, Steven's in trouble.
(MARK and COLE pull up stools next to RICHIE.)
COLE: What do you want from him, Richie? All you do is try to aggravate him.
MARK: Yeah man, what with blowin' off rehearsals and everything.
RICHIE: Jeez, I'm sorry. I didn't know you both had your heads up his ass!
(A look spreads across COLE's face as though he is about to retaliate, but MARK stops him.)
MARK: Look, Richie, all I'm sayin' is, for the last three months, all you've been willing to do for this band is be a pain in its ass, and the collective asses of the people we get gigs with.
MILLIE (con't): You have two choices; one, pack up your things and leave with him, or, two, stay, and the band goes on without him.
MARK(CON'T): I mean, I know that its been hard for you to deal with-
(RICHIE cuts him off with a deadly serious tone.)
RICHIE: Just stop right there man! Don't even start on that shit!
STEVEN: Understood. I'll go tell him.
MILLIE: No. You go warm up. That's what you're getting paid for.
(RICHIE, MARK, and COLE just sit there momentarily in the tension, after which STEVEN walks back over, taps MARK and COLE on the shoulders and signals them to head back on 'stage'. MARK moves to signal RICHIE, but STEVEN stops him and shakes his head. The three head back to the 'stage' to start playing again. When RICHIE hears COLE starting to warm up, he moves to join them, but is stopped by MILLIE.)
MILLIE: Where do you think you're going?
RICHIE: I'm heading up to earn my paycheck.
(He moves to join them again, but MILLIE stops him.)
MILLIE: No, you're not.
RICHIE: (dumbfounded) What? What do you mean 'I'm not'?
MILLIE: You're no longer earning a paycheck.
RICHIE: What? The band's warming up right now.
MILLIE: Right, the band is warming up on stage. You are no longer part of the band, and you are no longer welcome in this bar.
RICHIE: What the hell are you talking about? Steven, what the hell is she talking about?
(STEVEN remains speechless.)
RICHIE: Steven, c'mon, tell her I'm still in the band! STEVEN, C'MON!
COLE: Steven . . .?
MARK: Steven, what's goin' on?
STEVEN: We're warming up, that's what's goin' on. The three of us are warming up.
RICHIE: Oh no man, no way Steven, c'mon. Mark, Cole, c'mon guys, aww shit-
MILLIE: Time to go, Richie.
RICHIE: Ohhhhh, no, no no no no. Fuck you, Millie. And you (points to STEVEN). You are the smart little jackass, aren't you? Well, you keep your little trio. I'd sooner see you in hell anyway. I'm not staying in this shitty little hole one more minute.
(RICHIE grabs his guitar and storms out. The lights and projection fade and the curtain closes.)
Scene 2 - On The Streets of Chicago
(The lights come up on the closed curtain. RICHIE enters, guitar in hand. As he gets to about center, MARK enters, following)
MARK: Richie, wait up!
(RICHIE stops and turns around.)
RICHIE: Go back inside, Mark. (sarcastically) They might kick you out, too.
MARK: Just hold on! Look, I know what happened to you in there tonight didn't seem fair, but you can't really blame them either-
RICHIE: (Losing patience) Hey, Mark, I know you're trying to make me feel better and everything, by the way, thanks, you're a pal, but it's not really working, so why don't you just head back inside and let me take off.
MARK: All I'm tryin' to say is, we've been pals for years. If you need anything, you got my number. Feel free to gimme a call.
(RICHIE turns to exit.)
RICHIE: I'll seeya around, Mark. Take care of yourself.
MARK: Yeah, you too.
(MARK turns and exits. Lights.)
Scene 3 - Richie's Apartment
(The curtain opens and the lights come up on the interior of Richie's apartment. The apartment is sparsely furnished, with a couch folded out into a bed, dresser, side table, armchair, a small shelving unit with a stereo on it, and exits offstage to a bathroom, kitchenette and a main hallway. Behind the furniture, projected onto the cyke, is a shot of a slightly cracked window with a view of the decrepit looking brick wall across the alley. On the bed rests a half empty suitcase, stacks of clothing, another bag, a few more clothes and some assorted personal items. SARAH JACOBS, a young woman about 22, enters carrying a few more personal items in hand, and walks to the duffel bag. She looks down at the items in her hands, having a little personal debate about what to do w/ those items. Finally, she gives up and drops them all on the pile on the couch, then heads back offstage. Beat. SARAH reenters, this time with a renewed sense of determination. She starts randomly pulling items from the pile and tossing them in the bag. After a moment, she pauses, then starts pulling things out of the bag to dump back on the pile. After another moment, she realizes that she's no longer making progress, gives up, and heads back over to the suitcases. She takes a moment, maybe trying to figure out what to pack, maybe trying to talk herself out of it, or in to it, or maybe just stalling for less time than it took to read the last sentence. Finally, she just starts grabbing piles of clothes and dumping them in the suitcase. As she starts doing this, we hear the sound of keys and a lock being unlocked. SARAH reacts to the keys, and exits to the bathroom just as RICHIE enters from the hall, walking somewhat sluggishly and in something of a daze. As he enters, he sets the guitar case down next to the armchair and goes to the stereo. SARAH enters, but stands at the edge of the stage and just watches RICHIE pensively. RICHIE takes a moment to select a particular CD, and plays it. The stage fills with the sound of a slow blues number. RICHIE lingers for a moment by the stereo, letting the music infect him. SARAH turns and heads back to the bathroom. RICHIE heads over to the armchair and plops down in it, eyes closed, trying to relax. Beat. Richie's eyes open. He realizes that something is amiss. He turns and looks around the apartment, seeing Sarah's piles sitting on the bed. He slowly gets up, and walks over to the bed, looking the piles over momentarily. Just then, SARAH enters from off stage, arms full. She stops dead when she sees RICHIE. RICHIE looks up at SARAH with the subtle expression of a lost little puppy. SARAH looks back, trying to avoid eye contact, obviously nervous. Beat.)
(SARAH goes back to packing, still trying to avoid eye contact. RICHIE just watches, unsure whether he actually wants to deal with this situation, too, or to just say 'fuck it'.)
RICHIE: (cold, unfelt) You takin' off?
RICHIE: (cold, unfelt) Goin' to your folks?
SARAH: Yeah . . . for a couple a' days.
RICHIE: (cold, unfelt) Awful lot a' stuff for a just--
SARAH: (cutting him off) I'm Leaving!
(They freeze. Awkward pause.)
SARAH: (Calmer) I'm moving out.
(SARAH resumes packing.)
RICHIE: (with some actual feeling this time) Where are you gonna stay?
SARAH: With my folks for a couple a' days. I just need a little time to get my head together, get my shit together, and figure out my next move.
(She goes back to packing. RICHIE takes a moment to absorb what's happening, then tries to stop her.)
RICHIE: Why can't you stay?
RICHIE: Why can't you stay? I mean, why do you have to go to your folks? Can't you stay here to figure out what you need to figure out?
SARAH: (slowly, as if the words are coming out as the thought is being processed) I just feel like I can't clear my head here. (frustrated) I dunno what it is, I just gotta get out.
RICHIE: (confused) Why?
SARAH: Jesus, Richie, I don't know! I just really feel like I have to get out of here!
RICHIE: Fine, then let's get outta here.
RICHIE: Sure! We'll take a week off and drive down to St. Louis to visit your aunt. I could use some time away, too. It'll be great.
SARAH: (trying to be both blunt and gentle) Richie, I don't just mean time away from this apartment or from this city. We need to take some time apart from each other.
RICHIE: (getting a bit angry) Well. There it is. That oh-so-infamous phrase; 'time apart'. Otherwise translated as "I want to break up with you, I just don't want to take responsibility for it."
SARAH: NO! I just want us to take a little time off.
RICHIE: (doubtful) Really?
SARAH: (getting annoyed) Yes!
SARAH: (takes a moment to calm down) Well, we haven't exactly been getting along. I mean, I know the last few months have been hard, what with me losing my job, and your-
RICHIE: (cutting her off) I know what happened three months ago!
SARAH: (beat) This is what I'm talking about. And you don't want to talk about it, you won't even try to deal with it.