Lisa Ellex

 

 

 

FRANK A LONG TIME AGO


 

Things get lost in a divorce: possessions, pride, humility, accountability, self-esteem, love, and worse -- children.  In the strange and frenzied episode of my parents’ divorce, I lost my virginity.  It was the summer I would turn fifteen.  Worse things could have happened.  

 

It was six years after The Summer of Love.  The summer when at least 100,000 people flocked to Haight-Ashbury for music, peace, drugs, and free love.  It was four years post-Woodstock and the revolution of sexual freedom and self-expression had carved a permissive niche in our culture. It was a summer of triumph for women's rights because just five months earlier, a Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade signaled our liberation from male oppression.  

 

Until now, my small West Village neighborhood had only known two types: the immigrant families who built our community and the new bohemians of the 1950s and 60s.  On the short span that is MacDougal Street, these two types gently commingled. The cafes in which my Italian ancestors congregated were shared with the free-thinking artists of the day.  MacDougal Street was splashed with dozens of such places.  It was also the street where Frank lived.

 

Frank became my protector when all my parents  could do was protect themselves from each other.  They no longer enforced  my strict curfew or questioned my whereabouts.  When I arrived home at night, drunk and disheveled, I was puzzled yet relieved to find I was alone.  I was, I thought, forgotten.

 

At sixteen years old, Frank had dropped out of high school.  He had a full-time job he seldom talked about.  And he always had what seemed to be an endless supply of cash.  He was a man-child in the truest sense of the word, like a juvenile delinquent from a 1930s gangster movie.  Sunrise would find him in the after-hours clubs, gambling, drugging, and drinking Southern Comfort on the rocks.  He always had a Marlboro in his mouth and a joint in his pocket.  

 

On the fifth floor of a tenement that was typical of the neighborhood, Frank shared an apartment with his nineteen-year-old sister, Joanne.  Joanne was dating "the-black-guy."  Their Sicilian parents, Carmine and Josie disapproved.  That was fine with Joanne.  She casually gathered her things and moved to a vacant apartment just one flight up.  Everyone said "the-black-guy" paid the rent.  When Frank's father imposed house rules on Frank's early morning arrivals, Frank followed Joanne to the upstairs apartment.  Eventually, Joanne broke up with "the-black-guy" and Frank paid the rent.  With the Sicilians living a flight below, Frank was able to visit his mother daily.  If he wanted to see Carmine, he would stop inside the downstairs bar where Carmine posed as a bartender but made his real money running numbers for the mob.

 

Frank was Josie and Carmine's youngest boy.  There was no doubt Frank and Joanne were related.  They shared the dark eyes, olive skin, and glistening hair of their mother.  Frank wore his hair in the style of the day; a very long, layered haircut fashioned into a shag.  He wore his mane proudly and would allow no one but Ted from the famed Paul McGregor salon to take sheers to his head.  It was the hair of a Mayan God.  The kind you wanted to sleep in.  

 

On the night before my school let out for summer, Frank announced he was taking me to Jones Beach in the morning.  We were to meet on the park bench across from my apartment building.  

 

Frank arrived with a towel and a box.  The towel was for the beach.  The box was for me.  It cradled a thick, gold bangle bracelet with an attached safety chain.  If the bracelet were to open up, the chain would ensure I wouldn't lose it.  "Like it?"  I was stunned.  It was not the type of gift a teenage boy would give his girlfriend.  "I love it."  To free up his hands, Frank brought his Marlboro to his mouth and held it between his lips.  He slipped the chunky bracelet around my fourteen-year-old wrist and fastened the safety chain.

 

It was late June and the morning rush hour subway cars were filled with over-heated, sleepy people.   I found a seat that stuck to the back of my thighs as Frank stood up before me, holding onto the strap above.  Every so often, the tiniest beads of sweat would appear on his forehead.  He would use his rolled up beach towel to dry them away, only to have them reappear one or two  stops later.   We agreed that jumping in the water would be the first thing to do when we got to the beach.  

 

Frank claimed our spot and arranged our towels as I took off my flip flops, pants and shirt.  He took my hand and led the way to the surf.  We didn't swim far -- just waist-high -- when he scooped me up and pulled me to his body.  I wrapped my legs around his waist and we bobbed in the current under the hot, glaring sky.  Neither of us would say what hung even heavier than the thick, humid air:  I was leaving for California in the morning.  My parents got the idea that they could start anew and life would be perfect on the west coast.  By some sort of hippy magic, they would be immune from divorce in Santa Monica.  I was to leave my school, my home, my family, my friends and what I believed to be the first love I ever knew. 

 

We walked across the hot sand and Frank led me to a spot under the boardwalk.  By comparison, it felt cold there and the sand falling from the boards above us came down like snow.  Frank pulled me close and kissed me.  The taste of Marlboros was replaced by the most delicious sea salt.  With hundreds of people walking above, we were in our secret boudoir surrounded by magical sounds of nature; gulls squawking, tide rolling, wind blowing. 

 

As we ascended the subway to the West Fourth Street stop, the sun was going down but somehow it was hotter and more oppressive than the afternoon.  When it's that hot on a tenement street, people sit out on their stoops to cool off.  Air conditioning was a luxury. Fire hydrants were open for the children to cool off under the gush.  People who were too old to climb down the stairs from their apartments sat on their fire escapes and peered down on the Village scene.  It was the first time I can recall holding hands with Frank in the street.  After all, we were in his neighborhood now and there was little chance of being seen by my father who was either ten blocks north in our Charles Street apartment or cooling off somewhere inside a bar, a poker game, or a woman.

 

The sound of summer on Macdougal Street is distinct and polyrhythmic: bicycles whooshing by, kids yelling up to their moms for ice cream money, the chatter of patrons sitting outside at Cafe Dante, the whirring blades of a window fan, the clang-thud-growl of a kid's roller skates.  As Frank pulled me up the stoop to his front door, a Cadillac convertible rolled by with the radio blasting "Hot Fun in the Summertime". I lowered my eyes as I passed a neighbor on the stoop, certain she knew what I was going upstairs to do.

 

We entered Frank's narrow tunnel of a tenement hallway.  As the sand sprinkled out from our shoes, it crunched against the surface of the black and white mosaic tile floor.  The embossed tin ceilings high above created a cavernous acoustic that amplified our footsteps and our love-anxious breathing.

 

Walking up the stairs, I could hear the evening activity from the open window on each landing: the ding of a fork against a dinner plate, a couple arguing in broken Italian, a barking dog, a crying baby, the rusty screech of a clothesline pulley, and a static radio transmitting the weather report--hazy, hot and humid.  Again.

 

By the time we reached the fourth floor, I wasn't sure if I was breathing hard from the climb or the anticipation.  When we reached the fifth floor, Frank pushed open the unlocked door with his thick shoulder, never letting go of my hand. The entryway funneled to his dark bedroom.  The only light on was in the kitchen and the radio high atop the refrigerator was left on so that anyone considering robbing the apartment would be discouraged by Stevie Wonder singing "Superstition".

 

Past the kitchen was the last room--the living room.  Between the two windows was a television set with rabbit ears.  The fan wedged inside the window on the right was running like a pinwheel.  It blew an artificial breeze onto a plastic-covered couch.  A coffee table sat between the couch and a fireplace mantel.  A small, flowered easy chair was poised in the corner.

 

Frank still tasted like salt.  When he laid on top of me and moved even the slightest bit, I could feel the sand between his chest and mine.  I couldn't tell if we were kissing and touching for five minutes or five hours but we were sweating so much that instead of sticking to the plastic couch we were actually sliding around it.  Frank slid down to the button of my hip huggers.  He lowered them just enough to position his head between my legs.  His tongue quickly found what he was looking for.  Somehow, this was sobering.  Do people really do this?  Or is this a dark and wonderful secret that only we share?  How much he must love me to want to be this close.  Is this even a real thing?  Did he invent this?  This couldn't be right.  Who could ever expect this?  But everything Frank did was unexpected.

 

As his head moved, his black hair glistened in the light that poured from the kitchen.  The faster his head moved, the louder became the clink of the eighteen-carat-gold crucifix hitting the Blessed Virgin medal that hung around his neck. I could hear the radio but I had no idea what language it was speaking.  I was buzzing.  I was floating.  I was dreaming.  His tongue was much too strong, I thought.  Then suddenly, I was drained.  The buzzing and the floating stopped.  I wasn't dreaming anymore.

 

Frank looked up at me and licked his lips.  "Go inside."  

 

I don't recall walking through the kitchen but somehow I was in his bed.  He appeared in the doorway.  The kitchen light glowed behind him and created a silhouette of his form. His cock stood straight up in the dark nest of his groin. 

 

Suddenly, he was beside me.  "I'm scared."   "Just tell me when to stop. I promise, I"ll stop," he purred in my ear.

 

I could smell the musk he wore, wafting in the waves of the sheets, sweet and dirty.  Then, I couldn't smell it any longer.  He was stretching me, hurting me.  "Frank...  Please..."    And as I was just minutes ago, Frank was lost.  Buzzing.  Floating.  Dreaming.  

 

I called his name again and grabbed his hair.  Long, black corn silk tied around my fingers, around my hands, distracting me from the pain.  Then I heard yelling.  It wasn't me.  It was Frank.  The safety chain on my bracelet was caught in that hair.  And he stopped.  And he apologized.  And from the kitchen, Al Green sang, "Love and Happiness." 

 

Frank walked me home.  And I cried.  And he kissed me and held me tight.  And I couldn't let go.  I didn't know when I would ever see him again.

 

The next morning I awoke.  Deflowered.  I collected my things for the airport.  Despondent.  We walked past our doorman, into the lonely morning, for my parents to find their new life and for mine to be left behind.  I prayed to the Virgin Mother--the same Virgin Mother who kept time between my legs just twelve hours ago.  I prayed for a miracle.  And when I looked up, there he was, leaning against the very lamp post where he had kissed me good night.  Defiant. 

 

Frank was not concerned with my father's presence.  No one said a word.  We walked a good distance behind my parents to get to my uncle's apartment.  Uncle Eddie, the bad cop, was the only Greenwich Village family member who owned a car.  He arranged our airport send-off weeks ago.  Eddie thought of everything.  He even picked up our luggage the night before and set it in his trunk.  New York's Finest.

 

My parents, still in front of us, hurried across the avenue before the light turned red.  And then, instead of waiting for the traffic to pass, Frank ran into the avenue pulling me behind him.  In the middle of seventh avenue, with traffic whooshing by, Frank pulled me in and kissed me.  A long, deep kiss.  And again, time stopped.  And again, we were buzzing.  Floating.  Dreaming.

 

Machines veered around us.  Cars.  Taxis.  Trucks.  An ambulance.  We never looked up.  Horns were honking.  I heard my mother scream.  The light turned green and then, as if it were an ordinary day, Frank took my hand and strolled us to the sidewalk.  I never took my eyes from him. I heard my father's voice.  "Goodbye, Frank," it boomed.

 

As if nothing had just happened, my father sat in the passenger seat with my uncle at the wheel.  I was in the back with my mother.  She looked sad for me.  She understood.  I looked out my window and there was Frank.  Standing.  Staring.  

 

Eddie put the car into drive and pulled out of the spot.  From the rear window, I turned and watched Frank became smaller and smaller.  Until I couldn't see him anymore.

 

My days in California were long and lonely.  I wrote letters every day; to friends, to Frank.  He called me once, from a phone booth on the corner of Washington Place and Sixth Avenue.  He said a couple of days after I left he was picked up on the street by my uncle Eddie and his cop partner.  They loaded Frank into their squad car for no reason at all.  Then they took him to the precinct, threw him in a cell and beat the shit out of him.  For no reason at all.

 

He asked me what I did all day.  I told him I would write.  I told him my dad bought an orange Volkswagen Beetle and I would take a picture with my new Instamatic and send it to him.  He told me he loved me and with my father just five feet away, I answered, "Me, too."  We talked until he ran out of coins.  

 

When I hung up, I became sick that I wasn't closer.  I was mad at myself for not crawling through the telephone line to get to him.  After everyone was asleep, I found a razor and with my right hand, I carved his name into the top of my left forearm.  If I couldn't see him, at least I could feel him.  F...  At least I could stare at his name.  R... The razor stung.  A...  I wanted the sting to stop but I wouldn't stop until he was there.  N... Until he was all there.  I paused only to wipe away the blood and see where to place the next letter.  K...  It stung for days.  When it scabbed over, the word "Frank" could be deciphered.  I was disappointed that the N and the K were not as bold – not as deep – as the first three letters.  I had to hide it from my parents.  It wasn't hard.  They still weren't paying attention.

 

The next night, I received another call from New York.  This one was from my friend Susan.  She said she was at the hospital with Frank.  He had swallowed a bottle of aspirin.  He should be fine.  She'd let me know.

 

In just eight weeks, my parents came to the realization that their marriage was beyond repair.  I could have told them that eight months [years?] ago.  

 

We left my father and his new orange Volkswagen beetle somewhere in Santa Monica.  

 

When we returned to New York, Frank spent his days trying to get my attention.  I spent my days trying to avoid him. To this day, I'm not sure why.  Frank was still trying to save me.  I thought, if he were really my protector, why couldn't he protect us from all this pain?

 

Frank wouldn't see the inside of a hospital again for forty years.  Behind the eighteen-carat-gold crucifix and medal of the Blessed Virgin remains a nine-inch scar where they opened him up for heart surgery.  He told a friend that as he was going under anesthesia, my face was the last thing he saw.  In the traffic of Seventh Avenue.  Horns blaring, cars whooshing by.  

 

From time to time, I look down at the top of my left forearm and notice what remains of his name: the first carved line of the letter F.  I move Frank's thick, gold bracelet up my arm a bit, until it hides the scar.  I rotate the bracelet, until I get to a tiny, broken loop that once attached the safety chain, forever lost somewhere in Frank's hair, a long time ago.

 

 

SAINT ROCCO IN REPOSE 

A play in one act 

CHARACTERS 

 

ST. ROCCO         

   MALE, any age. 

ST. CORONA      

   FEMALE, noticeably older. 

SETTING 

The altar of a Roman Catholic church. 

TIME

 

The present. 

 

 

(A small altar in a church. Above the altar are a few dozen rows of votive candles. Only a handful are lit. Above the candles are pedestals displaying life-size statues of various saints. SAINT ROCCO stands among them. He has a dramatic wound on his thigh. To his side is a statue of a dog offering bread. To his other side is a statue of Saint Lucy. 

SFX: THE CREAK OF A LARGE WOODEN DOOR, OPENING AND CLOSING

 

A woman enters, barefoot and draped in linen. She approaches the altar.)

 

 

WOMAN 

Pardon me. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Yes? 

 

WOMAN 

Would you hand me that statue, please? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

This one? 

 

WOMAN 

Please. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

This is Saint Lucy. 

WOMAN 

Yes. Would you pass her to me? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

She’s the patron saint of the blind. 

 

WOMAN 

Yes, I’m aware.

SAINT ROCCO 

She’s one of our most popular saints. 

 

WOMAN 

She certainly is. Would you pass her here, please? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

We’ve been with each other for as long as I can remember. 

 

WOMAN 

She’ll be back. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Where are you taking her? 

 

WOMAN 

She’s being repainted. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

But people like her the way she is. 

 

WOMAN 

She won’t change. It’s just a routine refurbish. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Refurbish? 

 

WOMAN 

Yes. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I’ve never been refurbished. 

 

WOMAN 

Then you can be next. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Oh. 

 

WOMAN 

Would you just pass her over, please. 

SAINT ROCCO 

This is so sudden. 

 

WOMAN 

It’s not a big deal. Really. Just pass her over. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

She’s pretty heavy. 

 

WOMAN 

It’s okay. 

SAINT ROCCO 

You got her? 

 

WOMAN 

I’ve got her. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Are you sure? 

 

WOMAN 

I’m sure. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Please be careful. 

 

WOMAN 

I’m fine. 

 

(The WOMAN exits with the statue.) 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Have a nice day. 

SFX: THE CREAK OF A LARGE, WOODEN DOOR, OPENING AND CLOSING. 

(SAINT ROCCO looks to his dog and reaches over to pet him.)

 

SAINT ROCCO (Cont'd.) 

It’s okay, Fido. It’s okay. 

(SAINT ROCCO looks to the spot where Saint Lucy once stood. He reaches over and dusts off her spot then makes the sign-of-the-cross. He sighs.)

 

SFX: THE CREAK OF A LARGE, WOODEN DOOR, OPENING AND CLOSING. 

The WOMAN enters, empty-handed, and begins to climb up the pedestal that once displayed Saint Lucy.) 

SAINT ROCCO 

May I give you a hand?

 

WOMAN 

I’m fine. 

SAINT ROCCO 

So, you’re filling in?

 

WOMAN 

I am. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I’m Rocco. 

 

WOMAN 

I know. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I’m sorry, but I can’t place your face. 

WOMAN 

Corona. 

SAINT ROCCO 

You’re Saint Corona? 

WOMAN 

That’s right. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Forgive me for not recognizing you but no one has seen you for centuries.

 

WOMAN 

Nearly nineteen. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Wow… Nineteen… 

 

(CORONA produces a crown from her pocket and places it on her head.)

 

SAINT ROCCO (cont'd.) 

The crown! Of course! Now I recognize you! I’m so sorry.

WOMAN 

It’s all right. I’m rarely recognized without it.

SAINT ROCCO 

It’s quite fetching. 

 

WOMAN 

Thank you. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

You look much nicer than your photographs. 

 

WOMAN 

Thanks. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Sure. Did you know Lucy? 

WOMAN 

We’re from the same island. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Ah, Sicily! Yes. 

 

WOMAN 

Yes. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I’m from France. 

 

WOMAN 

Yes, I know. Montpellier. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

It’s very sunny there. 

 

WOMAN 

Well, it’s quite dreary in here, don’t you think? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

It’s been that way since the people stopped coming. 

 

WOMAN 

When was that? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

2020. Sometime in March. 

 

WOMAN 

Such a shame. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

It really makes the day drag. 

 

WOMAN 

I would imagine. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Work is everything, you know. 

 

WOMAN 

That’s what Elvis said. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Elvis Presley? 

WOMAN 

The one and only. I attended his ’68 Comeback Concert. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Those leather pants! 

 

WOMAN 

You know, I helped him pick them out. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

You knew Elvis Presley? 

 

WOMAN 

I did. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Wow. He really knew how to live. 

 

WOMAN 

I’ll say. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

What was he like? 

WOMAN 

He was not a complicated man in the least. Very down to earth, actually. He would say to me, “Corona, all you really need in life are three things: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.” 

SAINT ROCCO 

Really? 

 

WOMAN 

Oh, yeah. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Well, our work is something to do. 

 

WOMAN 

It is. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

And someone to love is always nice. 

 

WOMAN 

Sure. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I love Fido. 

 

WOMAN 

Then all that leaves is something to look forward to. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

That’s pretty difficult in these times. 

 

WOMAN 

Indeed. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

What do you look forward to? 

 

WOMAN 

Hugs. I really miss hugs. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I remember hugs. 

 

WOMAN 

Had I known this was coming I would have cherished my last hug. I would have taken a snapshot of it in my head. I keep trying to remember where I was, or who it was that hugged me last but I just can’t recall. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Hugs. 

 

WOMAN 

What happened to your leg? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I guess no one briefed you. 

 

WOMAN 

Listen, this has been a real whirlwind. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I got this during the Bubonic Plague. Next thing I know – boom – I’m patron saint of plagues and dogs. Right place, right time, I guess. 

 

WOMAN 

Timing is everything. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Double-duty from day one. 

WOMAN 

Maybe we should join a union. 

 

(THEY LAUGH.) 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I can’t tell you what a thrill this is for me, Corona. You’re a legend here. I mean, nineteen centuries. I guess you have quite a pension by now. 

 

WOMAN 

I’m comfortable. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Who would imagine that today I’d been standing here talking to the patron saint of financial hardship? 

 

WOMAN

Well I, too, have been put on double-duty. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

After all these centuries? 

 

WOMAN 

It was only a matter of time. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

What’s your assignment? 

WOMAN 

Pandemic. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Congratulations! 

 

WOMAN 

Thanks, but it’s awful actually. Everyone thinks I’m infected. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Jesus Christ -- you would think by now they know that saints have eternal immunity. As patron saint of plagues I’ve been the scourge for centuries. 

WOMAN 

Well, that’s just silly. Everyone knows that a plague is not nearly as serious as a pandemic. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Potato, po-TAH-to. 

 

WOMAN 

I beg to differ. A plague is bacterial and can be treated. A pandemic is viral and with little to no immunity against a new virus, infection becomes rampant. I’ve really got my work cut out for me. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

So you’re saying we’re on different teams? 

 

WOMAN 

In a sense. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

That’s too bad. I was really looking forward to working with you. 

 

WOMAN 

Well, we’re in the same league. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Same prayers? 

 

WOMAN 

Same prayers. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

You know, I think we have a lot in common. 

 

WOMAN 

Do we? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Well, we’re both saints.

WOMAN 

We are. 

SAINT ROCCO

We’re both Elvis fans. 

 

WOMAN 

Who’s not? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

And here we are. 

 

WOMAN 

Here we are. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Corona? 

 

WOMAN 

Yes? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

If you’d like, I can hug you. 

 

WOMAN 

I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

But we have immunity. You just said it yourself. 

WOMAN 

Not that. We just met. 

SAINT ROCCO 

I understand. 

WOMAN 

I’ll give it some thought, okay? 

SAINT ROCCO 

Take your time. 

WOMAN 

When did you get the dog? 

SAINT ROCCO 

Around 1305. After I contracted the plague I was banished to a cave --

 

WOMAN 

Oh, my. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I was just a little boy and had nothing to live on but leaves and stream water. I grew weaker and weaker and just when I thought I would die, the dog appeared and brought me a piece of bread. He visited almost daily. 

 

WOMAN 

He’s loyal. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

He sure is. One day, he brought his master along. The kind man took pity on me and brought me to his nearby castle where he and his family cared for me until I was cured. Fido never left my side. 

WOMAN 

You’re fortunate to have the company. 

SAINT ROCCO 

I am. 

WOMAN 

Maybe when the pandemic is over I’ll get a cat. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Well, as long as you’re here, Fido and I will keep you company. 

WOMAN 

Rocco, has no one told you? 

SAINT ROCCO 

Told me? 

WOMAN 

Yes. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Told me what? 

WOMAN 

Goodness, this is terribly awkward. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Just tell me. 

WOMAN 

I’m on this alone. You’re being refurbished. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

 

That’s impossible. You’ll need support. 

WOMAN 

There’ve been cutbacks in every department. 

SAINT ROCCO 

But my record is stellar. 

WOMAN 

I told them that. 

SAINT ROCCO 

I helped eradicate the Black Plague… 

WOMAN 

Yes, you did. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

…and the Spanish Flu. 

 

WOMAN 

I know. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Not to mention the Trump administration -- I mean, I know what I’m doing.

 

WOMAN 

So do I. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

It’s much too much for one person. You need me. 

 

WOMAN 

I’ll be okay. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

But I want to help. 

 

WOMAN 

They’ll never authorize it. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

What will I do? 

 

WOMAN 

Take a rest, Rocco. Enjoy the time off. You’ve earned it. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Let me help. Please. 

 

WOMAN 

It’s not up to me. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I want to be useful. 

 

WOMAN 

They’ll be other plagues. You’ll be back. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Something to do. Someone to love. Something to look forward to.

 

SFX: THE WOODEN DOOR CREAKS OPEN. 

WOMAN 

They’re here. 

 

ROCCO 

I don’t want to go. 

 

WOMAN 

I know. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Just tell them. 

 

WOMAN 

Tell them what?

SAINT ROCCO 

Tell them you need me. 

 

SFX: APPROACHING FOOTSTEPS 

 

WOMAN 

Rocco? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Yes? 

 

WOMAN 

Hug me. 

 

LIGHTS FADE, AS WE HEAR: 

SOUND Q: ELVIS PRESLEY’S “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” 

END OF PLAY. 

 

Saint Rocco in Repose by Lisa Ellex © 2020

LISA ELLEX is a third-generation Greenwich Village native. She is a writer of television, radio, documentaries, music reviews, and interviews, a playwright, and a vocalist and voice artist. She created and hosts the podcast It’s Your Thing with Lisa Ellex and was creator of the early-childhood music program Baby Rubato.