ACT 2, SCENE 1 – TOM: Birth of a Legend, Nov.30, 2019

by admin on November 30, 2019

TOM T - Oct calendarThe story so far: In Act 1, Tom Thomson’s mistress Winnie becomes pregnant with an unwanted baby. Tom becomes involved with a young married woman who is desperate to have a child but whose war-wounded soldier husband is unable to give her. Tom obliges. Meantime, his star is just beginning to rise and recognition as a painter brings yet another woman into his life….

ACT TWO

SCENE 1. CANOE LAKE AND SHORE. MORNING. SUNSHINE.

(The platform structure has become a large rock and lone pine tree – a stylised version of Thomson’s iconic painting ‘The West Wind.’ It is rolled onstage as TOM & EDIE haul ‘canoe’ ashore in partial view off stage and unload painting gear, picnic basket and blanket to spread out behind large rock and landmark tree – which partially screens them. They proceed to undress to period Edwardian bathing costumes beneath their clothes.)

TOM:                                                                     This is the old lone pine. I’ve painted this half a dozen times in different weather. Once in a storm. Shall we swim now or afterwards?

EDIE:                                                             After. Come on, let’s do this before I lose my nerve. We’d better climb up here behind this rock so no one sees us.

(EDIE takes his hand and pulls him behind rock. We see only their heads and shoulders as they re-appear in profile on a sloping ledge, lying diagonally on the blanket.)  

TOM:                                                                     I’m not used to this role reversal, Edie. Usually it’s me who takes the initiative.

EDIE:                                                                        Don’t you like it? Fitz always loved me to take charge.

TOM:                                                                          Never said I don’t like it, just not used to it.

EDIE:                                                                               Hush then. Lie back and think of England. Fitz said that’s what the women over there were told. To do their bit for the war effort. (Her head now appears on top.)

TOM:                                                                             I wish you’d stop talking about Fitz.

EDIE:                                                                  Sorry. Am I putting you off your stroke? (beat) Would it help if we were kissing?

TOM:                                                                                     It might.

EDIE:                                                                                       (Kisses him.)You don’t mind me being so intimate? Kissing, I mean.

TOM:                                                                                    Under the circumstances I don’t think Fitz would object, do you?

EDIE:                                                                                   According to Fitz, men are intimate in order to have sex and women have sex in order to be intimate. Me, I just like kissing.

TOM:                                                                                   I suppose Fitz is a good kisser?

EDIE:                                                                                Now who’s talking about Fitz? As a matter of fact, he’s a fantastic kisser. But I suppose I’m biased because I love him so much.

TOM:                                                                                   Good the shrapnel wasn’t a head wound, then.

EDIE:                                                                                 I sometimes wonder if I could still love him, if his face was disfigured. When I visited him in the army hospital some of the men had horrific scars. I think I felt as sorry for their wives and girlfriends as for them. That sounds awful and selfish, doesn’t it?

TOM:                                                                                    Are you always this chatty in bed – or are you nervous, Edie?

EDIE:                                                                                   No, I just love pillow talk. Better than sex, even.

TOM:                                                                                       Lucky for Fitz… So how do I rate – as a kisser?

EDIE:                                                                                   (Kisses him.) You could do with more practise. And it might help you concentrate…

(They kiss for a few minutes, with her hair falling over his face. She stops and raises her head.)

EDIE:                                                                                I do believe we’re making progress. Now roll over.

TOM:                                                                               Why? I quite like it this way. Makes a change from the missionary position.

EDIE:                                                                              Trust me. I know all about it. If I’m going to get pregnant, I need to be on the bottom. Anyway, you’re not here to enjoy yourself. Think of Fitz. You’re his stand-in.

TOM:                                                                                        You think of Fitz. I’m concentrating on you. (He rolls her over and his head appears on top).

EDIE:                                                                                    Good. Now we’re getting somewhere.

(Their heads disappear from view and we hear only their love-making from behind the rock. As it climaxes, they reappear, panting with effort. TOM reaches out an arm for his pipe in his shirt pocket.)

TOM:                                                                                  Do you mind if I smoke? Keeps the black flies away. Would you like a cigarette?

EDIE:                                                                                  No. You’re not supposed to smoke when you’re pregnant. It’s bad for the baby.

TOM:                                                                                           Shall I make us some tea, then? (He gets up, pulls up his bathing suit and starts setting out painting materials for them both.)

EDIE:                                                                                        Not yet. I’m going to lie here for a few minutes. With the blanket rolled up under my bottom. The books say it aids the sperm to swim upstream.

TOM:                                                                                      Would you like me to help you stand on your head?

EDIE:                                                                                   Maybe next time.

TOM:                                                                               So you anticipate a next time?

EDIE:                                                                               Don’t you?

TOM:                                                                           For insurance?

EDIE:                                                                         For luck.

TOM:                                                                         Belt and braces.

EDIE:                                                                               Come back and lie down, Tom.

TOM:                                                                                 (lies down) Do you think it’s okay to be enjoying this? I mean…

EDIE:                                                                           …would Fitz approve? ‘What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.’

TOM:                                                                                  He’s bound to ask you for details. I would.

EDIE:                                                                                    And I’ll tell him what he needs to hear. Enough to satisfy his curiosity but not enough to hurt his pride. He’s been hurt too much already.

TOM:                                                                                      You really do still love him, then? Even though he…

EDIE:                                                                                Can’t have sex with me? That’s your role, Tom. Don’t get confused. I love Fitz, not you.

TOM:                                                                                      I see. (Gets up and starts sketching again.)

EDIE:                                                                                     Good god, do I have to worry about hurting your pride, too? I like you, Tom. That’s why I chose you. Isn’t that enough for you? Winnie told me you didn’t want entanglements, just sex.

TOM:                                                                              Winnie told you about us? – me and her? What did she say?

EDIE:                                                                                 (Pulling up her bathing suit and coming to sit beside him as he sketches) Men don’t have a monopoly on discussing their sex partners, you know. You sound surprised.

(Throughout the following conversation they both sketch and paint the lone pine, glancing at each other’s work. Occasionally he reaches over to add a brush stroke to her sketch and she reacts.)

TOM:                                                                                  Did she say anything … else?

EDIE:                                                                Like being pregnant?

TOM:                                                              She told you?…Jesus!

EDIE:                                                                                Don’t worry. She swore me to secrecy first.

TOM:                                                                                     And you told her about you and Fitz? And your plan for getting pregnant? I hope my name wasn’t mentioned.

EDIE:                                                    Actually, she suggested you.

TOM:                                                                                What!

EDIE:                                                                                Not directly, of course. But she mentioned that you have a reputation as a ladies’ man.

TOM:                                                                         She exaggerates. I like going to local dances and parties and Winnie gets jealous. Even though we have an agreement.

EDIE:                                                                                        Yes, she mentioned that, too. I gathered it was more your idea than hers.

TOM:                                                                                     She’s had other men friends when I’m away. In fact, I’m not convinced the baby is even mine.

EDIE:                                                                           It’s ironic, isn’t it? She wants to get rid of her baby and can’t. I want to have one and can’t.

TOM:                                                                                Maybe you should adopt hers.

EDIE:                                                                                We already talked about the possibility.

TOM:                                                                                       You did?

EDIE:                                                                                     But I said I couldn’t do that to Fitz.

TOM:                                                                       Do what? Adopt?

EDIE:                                                                                       It would be an admission that he couldn’t perform. I wouldn’t shame him like that. I still want to have my own child.

TOM:                                                                                Couldn’t you do both? Have yours and then adopt hers. That would show Fitz wasn’t impotent.

EDIE:                                                                                   You forget she has a three months’ head-start on me.

TOM:                                                                                      But you would be back in Toronto. Nobody needs to know anything. Adoptions are anonymous, aren’t they?

EDIE:                                                                                      It sounds like you’ve got this all figured out, Tom…. You’ll have two children and no responsibility and Winnie and I do all the work. No wonder they call it ‘labour’.

TOM:                                                                              I admit I’ve been thinking a lot since you and Fitz told me your plan. And I reckoned as I was helping you out… you could return the favour.

EDIE:                                                                                  Winnie said you were a bastard, Tom.

TOM:                                                                             Why? It seems like the perfect solution. We all get what we want. You, Fitz, Winnie – and me.

EDIE:                                                                                     So, let me get this straight. Winnie and I both have your children and after, you go back to having regular sex with both of us. I can see how you think that’s a perfect solution.

TOM:                                                                                     Now who’s talking about wounded pride, Edie.

EDIE:                                                                                   I just don’t like the idea of you getting off, scot-free. Why do I feel as if I’m being used?

TOM:                                                                                      You were fine about using me, remember? Like some kind of stud horse.

EDIE:                                                                                       You said a few minutes ago you liked it.

TOM:                                                                                     I did. You were fantastic, Edie.

EDIE:                                                                                     You were pretty good yourself.

TOM:                                                                                       I hope we have to do it again – often.

EDIE:                                                                                       Me, too.

TOM:                                                                                        Isn’t Fitz worried I might run off with his amorous wife?

EDIE:                                                                                  Why would you bother? You have your precious artistic freedom and all the sex you can handle with two women. And a ready-made family with no responsibilities.

TOM:                                                                                        I’ll be a doting godfather and favourite uncle. Birthdays, Christmas, camping holidays.

EDIE:                                                                                       I still don’t like it. You’re too smug.

TOM:                                                                                   You’re just annoyed because you think I’m getting the better of you. Admit it, Edie. But I’m not. You gain the most in this situation – two children instead of one; a happy husband, because he’s not worried about you leaving him for some other man, and me at your beck and call whenever you want to   make love. Which I hope will be fairly regularly. – In fact, all this talk is getting me all worked up again….

EDIE:                                                                                  (setting aside her painting) I suppose we could justify a repeat performance to Fitz.

TOM:                                                                                  (embracing her) This one is for Fitz.

(CROSSFADE and music segue into SCENE 2)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

janie morris November 30, 2019 at 11:29 pm

Hmmm.I feel I want to tell them to stop talking and just get on with it.But then you wouldn’t have any dialogue.Another option would be to stage it like a very frank business agreement ending in a handshake dissolving into anew scene behind the rock with appropriate “noises”and then Blackout.

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