Excerpt from Goddess of Cancer and Other Plays by Gabriel Constans.
Goddess of Cancer – Scene 6
GODDESS: Multi-cultural woman of no particular age. Face painted a variety of flesh tones. Hair a mixture of blond, brown, red, black and gray. Long rainbow-colored robe. Changes persona frequently.
VICKI: Asian-American woman in her twenties. Casual dress. Animated. Angry. Anxious. Scared.
WENDY: European-American woman in her thirties. Conservative dress. Quiet. Shy. Fearful.
JENNIFER: African-American woman in her forties. Business suit (beeper). Intellectual. In control. Avoids emotion.
LENNIE: Mexican-American woman in her fifties. Flowing skirt, flowery blouse. Insightful. Compassionate.
BARBARA: Arab-American woman in her sixties. Gray skirt and sweater (wearing a cross). Strong. Survivor. Dogmatic. Angry. Tired.
CHANTALL: Jewish-American woman in her seventies. Slacks and blouse (gray wig, in wheelchair). Humerous. Matter of fact. Sarcastic. Worried.
Living room. White couch center stage facing audience. White chair next to couch, stage left and black coffee table in front of couch. Large green plant on floor between couch and chair. Flowers in a vase on table. White door stage left. Three large pictures with red frames on wall behind couch. One picture is of the Grim Reaper, one is of an angel and the other an hourglass. Black bar facing audience stage right, with potted plant on its corner. A light switch is on the wall by the bar. Closed cupboard behind bar is full of cigarettes.
A slide-projector (with a color slide of each actor’s face shown at beginning of each scene) is placed on one end of the bar for the Goddess to operate or in front of the stage and controlled by a stage member.
Time: Afternoon or early evening. Present.
SCENE 6 – FINAL SCENE
(Chantall’s picture appears on screen/wall.)
GODDESS: Chantall. Seventy-six. Retired professor.
(There is the sound of the door opening and closing.)
GODDESS: (Continued) Husband died twenty years ago. Children and grandchildren. Present partner, Audrey.
CHANTALL: Partner and best friend.
GODDESS: Who’s there?
GODDESS: (Continues) Metastatic bone cancer. Chemotherapy unsuccessful. I’m spreading to her major organs. Death is lurking nearby.
CHANTALL: It’s always lurking, what’s new?
GODDESS: (turns on lights and sees Chantall in a wheelchair in front of the couch.) Chantall! You sneak you. You weren’t supposed to know yet.
CHANTALL: What part? That my body is failing or who my friends are?
GODDESS: (Grins and goes to couch to sit by Chantall.) You know which part. Don’t play games with me professor.
CHANTALL: No need. You play enough already.
GODDESS: How did you get in here?
CHANTALL: Same as you, through the front door. Your hearing must be slipping. You look tired. Maybe you should lay down and rest.
GODDESS: That’s my line! Don’t confuse me.
CHANTALL: You’ve been confused for years. You never did know how to divide properly without rearranging everyone’s DNA.
GODDESS: I’m a slow learner.
CHANTALL: You can say that again.
GODDESS: I’m a slow . . .
CHANTALL: (Overlapping) Don’t you dare!
(Both of them laugh. Goddess goes over to bar.)
GODDESS: Like some tea?
CHANTALL: Tea?! You call that a drink? Give me a margarita or a whiskey, straight.
GODDESS: Coming up.
(Goddess pours drink, brings it back to Chantall and sits. Chantall takes drink and downs it.)
CHANTALL: That’s better.
GODDESS: You didn’t just stop by for a drink. What’s up?
CHANTALL: What’s up? Can’t a girl just make a friendly visit to see her killer face to face?
GODDESS: (Suspiciously) What do you want?
CHANTALL: There’s something I have to ask you. It’s very serious.
(Goddess leans closer.)
CHANTALL: Does this gray wig make me look too old?
(Chantall pulls off wig, reaches into her bag on side of wheelchair and pulls out a long, dark-haired wig.)
CHANTALL: (Grinning ear to ear.) How about this . . . the Cher look?
(She puts that one back and takes out a short brown wig.)
CHANTALL: (Continued) This is Audrey’s favorite. She says I look like K. D. Lang with wrinkles. Sort of sexy, isn’t it?
GODDESS: Which one do you like best?
CHANTALL: (She pulls off last wig and remains bald.)
This one. My Sinead O’Conner look. No fuss. No bother. Don’t even have to shave, since my hair fell out. (Pause) Think of all the time I wasted in my life washing, drying, brushing and styling; worrying about how I looked and what others thought. Good grief . . . what a waste of energy.
(Pause.) Say, we could market this and make a fortune. ‘New. ChemoDo! Hair treatment for men and women. Take intravenously or by capsule and in just two weeks you too can look like this!’
(She shows off her head proudly.)
CHANTALL: (Continued) ‘No fuss. No bother. Twenty-one day guarantee or your money back. Only nineteen ninety-five, plus eighteen dollars for shipping and handling! Call now and receive free anti-nausea pills at no extra charge. That’s ChemoDo. 1(800) FYU-CHEM. Operators are lying nearby.’
(Both of them laugh loudly until Chantall starts coughing.)
CHANTALL: (Continued) By the way. You don’t have a cigarette lying around do you?
GODDESS: Do I have a cigarette?! That’s like asking John Wayne if he has a horse.
(Goddess gets up and looks around.)
GODDESS: (Continued) I should have one around here somewhere.
(Goddess goes to cupboard, opens it and hundreds of
cigarettes fall out. She picks one up, gets a lighter, goes back to Chantall and lights it for her. Chantall takes a long drag and slowly exhales.)
CHANTALL: Thanks. You better sit back a little. You don’t want to catch any second-hand smoke.
GODDESS: Of course not. It can kill you, you know.
CHANTALL: Really. Oh my. Give me some more!
(They both crack up, then Chantall suddenly stops.)
CHANTALL: (Continued) Seriously. There’s something I have to tell you.
GODDESS: Really? What?
CHANTALL: You’ve gotten a rotten reputation.
GODDESS: (Feigned surprise.) Why, I never!
CHANTALL: Folks blame you for everything. They act like you’re the plague.
GODDESS: The nerve. Well, as Gilda Radner used to say, ‘It’s always something, isn’t it?’
(They both laugh. Chantall takes another drag and looks down at the floor.)
CHANTALL: (Matter of factly.) I’m not afraid of dying you know. I’m even looking forward to it a little. The only thing that’s holding me back is Audrey. She’s the sensitive type. You know, weeps like a faucet. (Pause) She tries not to cry in front of me. She knows I can’t stand such dribble, but I see it in her eyes. (Pause) What can I do to help her understand?
GODDESS: She is understanding, in her own way. (Pause) Let her be. You do it your way, let her do it hers.
(Goddess puts her hand on Chantall’s leg.)
GODDESS: (Continued) It’s OK to grieve, you know. I hear it’s even a healthy thing to do now and then.
CHANTALL: Perhaps, but it seems so asinine.
GODDESS: To you.
CHANTALL: Why can’t she just enjoy the moment . . . roll with the punches? We’re dying the day we’re born anyway.
GODDESS: Some laugh, some cry.
(Chantall abruptly changes subject.)
CHANTALL: Hey, did you hear the joke about the old guy who believed in reincarnation?
GODDESS: No, but you’re going to tell me, right?
CHANTALL: This guy believed so strongly in reincarnation that he had them hang a sign on his tombstone that said, ‘Back in five minutes.’
(They both laugh. A car horn honks off stage.)
CHANTALL: Gotta go Goddess. Audrey’s giving me a ride home.
(Chantall heads towards the door, then stops and turns her chair towards The Goddess.)
CHANTALL: (Continued) You’re a riot. You know that?
GODDESS: Not so bad yourself, for a vibrant, bald-headed, elderly professor. Now, don’t go being foolish with your time, OK?
CHANTALL: Time? Don’t be silly. There is no such thing.
(Goddess opens the door as Chantall exits waving
goodbye. Goddess closes door, turns back towards front of living room.
GODDESS: (Out loud to herself.) Leave ‘em laughing Honey. Leave ‘em laughing.
(Goddess goes to turn off lights.)
GODDESS: (Continued) Let’s see. Who is our next lucky winner?