George Negritsoyski on Pexels.com
New York Spring 1953 - two friends sitting at a corner table in a packed bar, drinking and smoking, talk about their future
ROSIE - the girl
JEAN - the guy
TOM - Rosie's boyfriend
A COUPLE AT ANOTHER TABLE
and roll em...
J: Come on Rosie, let's beat it. It's been over two hours already.
R: Just a bit longer. Order two more drinks will ya'?
J: Hey Pal! Can we get a Sidecar and another gin fiz.
B: Comin' right up.
J: What are you doin' anyway? Why are we still sittin' here?
R: For the hundredth time, Tom said he wanted to meet and explain a couple o' things.
J: But you haven't seen him in over two weeks. What could he possibly have to say after disappearing like that?
R: Yeah, well, he left a note. (Rosie shifts uncomfortably in her chair and lights another cigarette). He's been going through a rough patch, what with work and his father. He just needed some time to himself...you know to figure things out.
J: Always making excuses for him. (Jean mumbles)
J: Nothin'. No point
R: Look, I know he isn't a saint. I mean who is? But I really like him and figure I could get the rock and then get hitched, you know the whole spiel. I mean, it is definitely time. Haven't you noticed our circle has gotten smaller and smaller each year. Everyone's getting married, having kids, moving away. You still have plenty of time, but me...if a girl misses her window of opportunity there's a good chance she'll be left out in the cold for good. And I'm getting scared Jean.
J: And of course Tom has this same view of his future with you?
J: So why has he been missing in action for two weeks?
R: I told you (Rosie raises her voice in irritation). He just needed to clear his head and get out of town away from all the things that are eating away at him.
J: And you're absolutely sure you're not one of those things?
J: Well, you have to admit that looking from the outside in, this love affair seems pretty one sided. You give, he takes. You stay, he comes and goes. He does what he wants and you justify.
R: That's not true. Besides, I haven't exactly been around for him either lately, what with rehearsals and all. I'm not saying he isn't difficult at times, it's just that he's had his share of bad luck and he has a hard time trusting people and opening up.
J: He sure trusted that brunette Christmas of '51 and he definitely opened up to that stacked doll last summer.
R: Stop bein' such a wet rag would 'ya or just get outta here. I thought you were going to keep me company till he got here, not provoke me.
J: You know Rosie, from where I'm sittin' hes got it made in the shade. I know stiffs like him. Meet em every day. I can't believe you are being such a knucklehead. You just don't want to see him for what he really is. A player. And I'll tell you another thing! (now that Jean was on a roll there was no stopping him, Tom being his nemesis and favorite juicy topic to pick at whenever he got the chance) You can't fix him! Guys like that don't change. That maternal psycho babble is baloney and if you wanna know the truth, during your time with Mr. Perfect I've seen you more miserable than happy.
R: That's not....(Rosie tried to interject but Jean cut her off inflamed as he was now).
J: What if he's too chicken to tell you how he really feels and you tie the knot and then discover there's always three of you in bed? Eh? Then what?
(Rosie starts fumbling with her lighter. Every time Jean gets going and starts talking sense she reverts back to her ten year old self. He knows all of her buttons after all).
J: And by the way, a guy that cares for a girl doesn't leave her sitting in a bar for over two hours waiting for him. Especially, if he owes her an explanation! (Jean ended triumphantly)
(Feeling ever smaller and defeated Rosie shoots a look at the door that keeps swinging open and shut but with no sign of Tom.)
(She turns her attention back to Jean and her expression softens looking at his familiar earnestly handsome face.)
R: You know, you and me, we've been so busy havin' a ball that we forgot it was time to grow up. This could be my last chance Jean. Can't you understand that?
J: Well ain't that just the bite! You are so desperate running after Tom, you can't see opportunity staring you square in the face. Or maybe you just don't want to. (says Jean lowering his tone and staring at her hard. When he doesn't see what he wants in her expression he pushes back his chair and stands to leave.)
R: Where are you going? What are you talking about?
J: If I gotta spell it out for you it just ain't no use. We've known each other since we were kids. No one knows you and me like you and me. Why won't you admit it.
(Jean slams money on the table for the drinks and without saying goodbye pushes his way through the crowd and out onto the street without looking back.)
Jean and her had done it all seen it all shown it all. Well...almost all. But this one part Jean had kept under his hat. For how long? How swell of him to be so patient and never hold her back. It must of killed him when she started seeing Tom, yet he had never left her side. That is...until today.
Had she read him wrong? Had he meant so long forever? Her life, the day as it pushed into the night and again into the day had always been Jean and her, with a bunch of other peripheral stuff filling up the empty spaces. Panic assailed her and she shouted for another drink even though it was a bad idea.
Some people were staring curiously at Rosie having witnessed Jean's dramatic exit making her feel prickly and unnerved. Jean? Could it be? She had thought about him that way when they were teenagers but then had let it morph (or had she willed it to morph) into this great big friendship instead.
When her drink arrived, she was shaking so hard that she sloshed a quarter of it all over her and the table in her haste to gulp it down. The waves crashed, heat burned and artillery fire exited her chest. She got up so abruptly she knocked her chair backwards and into the table and couple sitting behind her.
C: Hey Lady. Watch it!
Rosie distractedly dropped a bill onto the table, grabbed her purse and scarf and unceremoniously shoved her way to the front door. On the sidewalk she gulped mouthfuls of fresh air and tried to steady herself.
I gotta find him. Gotta make things right. (she kept repeating as she started to run).
And while Rosie disappears around the corner onto Houston in search of Jean, a taxi pulls up to the bar and Tom gets out.