The curtain rises on a stage empty save for a raked platform at its center. Multi-colored lights play across it as muffled voices can be heard growing louder than softer again as Rudy Vallee’s “Deep Night” plays out in full. During it’s playing Tom enters stage right, cell phone in hand, and mounts the platform. He stands motionless, like a hunted creature listening for the sound of his pursuers approaching. As the song concludes Nicole enters stage left and stands quite still at its edge. She also has a cell phone. Unlike Tom she’s completely collected and calm. They stare out into the audience without ever glancing at one another. Suddenly they both pick up their cell phones as if already in intense mid-conversation.
TOM: Nic, come on, you’ve just got to fucking let up on me for a second, OK? Yes, you do Nic. Look at the things that I do do all right, and stop making me walk around. That makes me feel terrible you saying that, it makes me feel like shit and I don’t like feeling like shit. You should make me feel good.
NICOLE: Oh, God – get off it! You don’t like feeling like shit.” Make yourself feel good!
TOM: I’m telling you Nic – I’m telling you how I feel, too.
NICOLE: We’ve been hanging on by a fucking thread, OK? A thread. You know it and I know it.
TOM: Nic, I want this relationship, OK? You know that and I have been making an effort. I have been!
NICOLE: (sighs) Tom, you know you haven’t.
TOM: (voice raised) What are you talking about? How much more of an effort? Do you want me to fucking drive you to work every day?
TOM: No, I’m telling you Nic, it’s like you’re being unreasonable man, and I’m sorry, but you are being fucking unreasonable (shouting).
NICOLE: No, you know…
TOM: (shouting) What do I know, Nic?
NICOLE: Just look at your behaviour!
TOM: Because it’s frustrating Nic, that’s why I’m yelling. Because at a certain point, an individual has to say: ‘What are you talking about?’
NICOLE: Not an individual Tom, stop talking in generalisations! You know exactly what I’m talking about. And you can yell and scream and carry on and swear, but you know exactly what I’m talking about.
TOM: No I don’t Nic. Tell me what I haven’t done. I didn’t go out to the set tonight to see you.
NICOLE: Not tonight, Tom. Have you done anything? Have you come out to the set once? OK? Have you sent me a rose? Have you…
TOM: Have you sent me a rose? I came home with two roses…
NICOLE: Did you give me anything? Did you give me a note, did you give me a bunch of flowers?
TOM: Nic, did I get any flowers when I came back from Eyes Wide Shut? I was waiting here, I had the candles lit, I had a bath ready for you.
NICOLE: I don’t really want this, OK? I don’t want to spend my whole dinner break on the phone yelling.
TOM: No, because you think about what you don’t have Nic. Why don’t you try thinking about what you do have?
NICOLE: No, Tom, I know what I have. I have two glorious, beautiful children, I had a great relationship that is now not a great relationship, OK? I know that, I know that.
TOM: (voice softens) OK Nic, all right. OK.
NICOLE: I have a career that I work very, very hard at and so do you. But I have a loving, loving family. I know all of this.
TOM: All right.
NICOLE: And until we start admitting something and dealing with this stuff, it’s never going to go anywhere Tom. It just gets worse and worse. You know, it surprised me that I didn’t get anything on the first day of the shoot.
TOM: Right, Nic! I bought you the most beautiful Indian jewellery a week ago for finishing a picture and for starting your new picture. I knew everything that was going on, Honey come on. You knew I went out of my way. You knew.
(Nicole tries to interrupt, Tom raises his voice) It’s about the fact that I love you Nic!
NICOLE: A little red rose, it’s something…
NICOLE:You want to know something? No, Tom, it’s not… (tape inaudible) You yell and scream and hurl abuse and say I’m so fucked to have a relationship with, and I’m so awful, and I’m such a bitch and all this stuff – well you want to know something? That’s really bad, that’s bad!
TOM: I know. I know this.
NICOLE: And that’s what they name in emotional abuse!
TOM: I know, also the emotional abuse that I’m under!
NICOLE: Tom, there’s no love here, right, you’re under emotional abuse, I’m abusing you, you’re abusing me. Tom, this isn’t worth it!
You have two very unhappy people, OK, who spend too much time apart and in the past have hurt each other too much.
TOM: Nic, everything’s fine and then it’s like you go on about I didn’t get you a rose for starting… a week ago, a week ago you were going and I got you the beautiful Indian jewellery. It’s like one thing, it’s like I don’t do right, it’s just…
NICOLE: No, no. It’s not and you know
TOM: Yes, it is Nic. I come home and I’ve got two roses for you, I’m so happy to see you. I come home, you come home, I’ve got the candles lit, I’ve got the kids organised for you in bed, and what do you say?
(Nicole tries to interrupt)
TOM: (raised voice) No, listen to me Nic, listen to me!
NICOLE: I’m not doing this now, OK? You don’t even know this is about your child…
TOM: (sighs) I don’t even care. I just want to have us a nice day. I just want it to be us.
NICOLE: No, because Angus is coming and you’re going skiing and I’m not going to be able to come up to where you are!
NICOLE: Because I’m on stand-by. And it’s too much for me anyway to be flying up there.
TOM: You can’t come up?
NICOLE:No, I can’t. And I tell you something, we haven’t spent any time together Tom! You just don’t make an effort. I come home and all you ever say is: ‘I’m exhausted.’
TOM: Honey, I said that last night. I did not say that the night before.
NICOLE: Yes, you did, Tom, you did. All right? You did. And then it was the first thing you said tonight. And I’m sick of it, I’m sick of it! And if it’s not: ‘I’ve got to get the kids from school,’ it’s: ‘I’m working, I don’t have any time for you.’And Tom, I’ve heard this for so long now and you’re not working now and you’re still saying it.
TOM: I just said I was tired, OK?
NICOLE: You’re not working now!
TOM: Honey, listen to me…
NICOLE: I don’t want to listen…
TOM: Listen to me Nic, just listen to me. I miss you. I love you. I think about you all day long. You’re a knucklehead, a knucklehead for thinking that I don’t care, I’m not loving. I’m embarrassed that I was tired last night. I apologise, OK?
NICOLE: Tom. It’s every night!
TOM: That’s not true. Honey, that is not true. I’m recovering from a broken foot, look at a little of the effects.
NICOLE: I do look at some of the things…you say you’re exhausted. How do you think that makes me feel? Im trying to do something for our son.
TOM: Just give him cake and he’s happy, and a movie and dinner. And it will just be you, me and Isabella. You know? I love you, OK? I care about you and I care for you and I love you. Think of… a husband, you know, I mean…
NICOLE: Tom, I call, all I hear is: “You’ve gotta come, you’ve gotta come.” I don’t hear any consideration for me or anything,… and then angry, yelling at me on the phone. I come back and all the time you’re saying how exhausted you are. Well I’m sick of it.
TOM: Hey Nic, listen to me OK? Come on now. It’s 11pm at night. I’ve been up since 6.30 in the morning. OK?
NICOLE: But every night. Why don’t you have a little bit of excitement and say: ‘Hi baby.’
TOM: I did, and then I said: ‘Hey baby.’
NICOLE: No, you did not, Tom.
TOM: I can take a little excitement. I’ve been waiting for you.
NICOLE: I don’t want to go on and on, there’s someone listening on the phone!
TOM: Who’s there?
NICOLE: You know, people outside.
TOM: Oh, fuck ‘em!
NICOLE: We’re on the cellular!
TOM: Oh, fuck ‘em, I don’t care.
NICOLE: We’re right on location, there’ll be someone sitting outside…
TOM: Hey, Nic, Nic!
TOM: Nic, it’s going to be better. We’ll just be alone together on Sunday with the kids – he’ll have his cake, he’ll love it, he’ll have a ball. All he cares about is that chocolate cake and getting some presents.
NICOLE: And the movie.
TOM: And the movie, he’ll love the movie.
NICOLE: I’ve been trying to find a good movie.
TOM: I know, that was good, really good. Oh Niccy babes, come on now.
TOM: I’m a sweetheart. Why don’t you just admit it? Just give in to it. Most of the time I’m adorable. I’m just absolutely adorable, Nic (laughs). Come on, laugh a little.
NICOLE: How is your foot?
TOM: Feeling better actually. You know, it pisses me off. I can’t run, you know, and I’m always having to put these pads on it, you know. Honey, this school I think is terrific. I’m going to check the Montessori school out.
NICOLE: Don’t bother.
TOM: (to himself) Great (to Nicole) Do you have to go have hair and make-up now?
TOM: Hey Nic, listen to me, OK? I love you, Bubba. I love you. You know, you’re making a movie, we’re just getting zeroed in here. I love you.
NICOLE: I have a fat ass!
TOM: (laughs) You don’t have a fat ass. Listen, Nic, Listen to me, OK? I love you, I really love you.You know I’m holding the fort down here and getting these kids and doing my share. And I’m sorry if I was tired. I’m sorry. Oh, I’m sorry Bubba.
NICOLE: : And taking sides…
TOM: I was feeling sorry for myself having to say… ‘Oh God look’, you know. I mean I was feeling sorry for myself. I was feeling bad for me. I was thinking: ‘Oh God, I hate having to call people and say… oh, you know, I just felt bad for myself. Honey, it’s fine, don’t even…
NICOLE: I’m not worried, I’m just telling you…
TOM: I know, I know, I know. OK.
OK. Hello? Hello? (appears to be cut off) Niccy?
NICOLE: Hi, I’m just going to go and lie down.
TOM: OK, listen to me, OK? I love you. Just know that. All right? We’re not… by a thread.
TOM: All right?
NICOLE: (whispers) I love you.
TOM: I love you, bye.
The Lights go down on Tom as he exits stage right. Nicole moves center stage
and sings a capella:
If I had a talking picture of you,
I would run it every time I felt blue.
I would sit there in the gloom of my lonely little room
And applaud each time you whispered, “I love you; love you.”
On the screen the moment you came in view
We would talk the whole thing over, we two.
I would give ten shows a day,
and a midnight matinee,
If I had a talking picture of you.
Slow curtain. The End.