Do I Know You?

By Laura Schwanbeck

Cast:

Felix Green
Quinn Green
Paul Johnston
Greta Johnston

Stage:

The stage consists of two rooms: the salon/ dining room and the kitchen.

 


 

Felix enters the door to his house. Quinn stands in the corridor waiting for him. Happily Felix throws his briefcase onto the floor and paces towards his wife.

Quinn: Felix. We have to talk. There is something I need to tell you.

Felix: (hugs and kisses his wife, he is visibly very happy about something) Honey! I got the promotion! I got it!

(Waits for her reaction. Quinn smiles then hugs him a little reserved)

By the way I have invited Paul and Greta over for dinner to celebrate.

Quinn: Okay… (sighs) I am so happy for you! You deserve it! After all this, work…

Felix: Let’s just enjoy this evening with a bottle of Chardonnay du Monde, from 2000. Only the best tonight. (Kisses her on cheek. Quinn turns slightly away from him but he doesn’t notice and fills up two glasses smiling)

Quinn: Felix…

(Felix hands her a glass and he toasts to his new job.)

Felix: (speaks with a note of arrogance and haughtyness) You know, Darling, now you can buy yourself that Hermes Kelly bag you always wanted, and we can go on Safari in Kenya…but best of all: you can quit your cute, part-time job and let yourself be spoiled by my increased income.

(Quinn tries to look happy, Felix does not notice her actual feelings. The door bell rings. Quinn opens and comes back with Greta and Paul)

Paul: (shaking Felix’ hand) Congratulations! Now you are a big man, as they say!

Greta: I am so happy for you! And so soon as well! Who would have thought they make you Managing Director of the International Human Resource Department so soon!

(Felix thanks them and lets no time pass before handing everyone a glass so they can toast to him.)

Paul: But why not honey, we all know Felix is the best in his job! Your next promotion isn’t far away, Felix.

(Everyone laughs obligatory and then resumes drinking. Felix and Paul light up Cuban cigars and sit down in two arm chairs. Lights focus on them. Other two look as if chatting)

Paul: So, when will you move into your new office and with a fresh, young secretary?

Felix: Next Monday. But you know, they might as well not give me one here, since I’ll be away on business trips most of the time anyway.

Paul: What’s the wife thinking about that?

Felix: She’ll be fine. I am working late every evening anyway. She’s used to me not being around. I think the promotion will do her well: she can quit her job and focus on the kids and the house.

Paul: Let her pick up golf too. I tell you, a bored housewife playing golf is cheaper than one who goes shopping all day long. Besides it’ll keep her in contact with reasonable people.

 

Lights focus on women. Paul and Felix look self-satisfied.

Greta: You must be so proud of Felix!

Quinn: No doubt, I am. He deserves it. All the hard work he does. All the extra hours…

(Quinn ceases talking and stares into space)

Greta: But….?

Quinn: Greta, we have been friends for years…(sighs) I feel so, inadequate. I feel so, ashamed, of myself.

Greta: I don’t understand?

Quinn: (pauses, struggle and pain on her face) I planned…leaving Felix tonight. But then he came home with such joy on his face…The last time he looked so lively and proud was when he held the twins for the first time in his arms.

Greta: (suppressed her shock and holds Quinn’s hand) B…but?

Quinn: (abrupt) We grew apart. I don’t love him anymore. I mean, I still love him, but not who he is now. The person he has become: this workaholic who is so indifferent towards his family and anyone else, but his boss.

(Greta touches Quinn’s arm gently)

Greta: But you know what stress does to people. Besides every marriage has difficult and harmonic phases.

(Quinn interrupts Greta)

Quinn: I know, I know. It’s not that. It’s him. He’s changed. When we first met he was funny, charming. He was relaxed. He was Felix and not…well look at him!

Greta: (glances over to the men, when she sees they are busy with themselves addresses Quinn in lowered voice) Quinn, are you sure about this? I mean have you considered the consequences? What about the kids? What about Felix? He is just starting a new career, he needs to represent himself, establish himself. He needs your support. You’re his wife! Think about your duties.

Quinn: (breathes in and out very slowly for a few times) Okay. Tonight I won’t say anything. And this stays between us. Promise!

Greta: I promise. Now put that beautiful smile back on your lips and erase that worried expression from your eyes.

Good girl. I know it is difficult, but sometimes you have to.

(Actors on stage mingle, chat and drink, this is just briefly shown. No dialogue, audience just sees them chatting and drinking, hears a few laughs etc. Lights: dim. Then they sit down on dinning room table, without Quinn, who comes in a few seconds later, carrying the food from the kitchen to the dinning room table. Quinn sits down and serves everyone, while Felix refills everyone’s wine glasses. They start eating and drinking. The mood is tipsy. Light intensity increased when everyone goes to table.)

Paul: May I say that your baked scallops are very magnificent, Quinn. As always your cooking skills are remarkable.

(lifts up his wine glass)

To your excellent dinner!

(everyone toasts)

Felix: Her food deserves at least two Michelin stars. Should I ever be in need of a job, we could just open a restaurant and live off Quinn’s cooking.

Quinn: Isn’t that sweet of you. That’s the least I could do for such a hard working husband. A good meal after work helps to get rid of all this stress you built up there, I hope at least.

Felix: (smiles at Quinn and takes her hand into his) Yes, it does. Thanks for all your support honey. What did Napoleon Hill say? Behind every strong man, stands strong woman. You are my rock to lean on, my foundation to stand on. You are my one.

Quinn: Where did that come from?

(Paul refills his and Felix wine glasses)

Greta: From the bottom of his heart.

Felix: Or maybe from the bottom of this wine glass!

(everyone laughs, Greta glances at Quinn)

Quinn: He doesn’t need wine to express his feelings. No. He always says what he thinks.

Felix: Well, expressing what I think is sort of my job, Honey.

(Felix turns to Quinn)

I know I haven’t had the time to tell you this, that’s why I just want to inform you now: but my new position requires me to go on a few business trips. I know this can be a strain on a marriage, and I know that even regular phone calls won’t replace your husband, but we’ll find a way. Okay?

(Quinn is a little baffled)

Quinn: We will find a way….

Felix: You know I might be needed for weeks somewhere else. Our headquarters in Singapore and Peking need complete restructuring. Right now they run at least 8 per cent below maximum marginal output efficiency.

Quinn: Weeks? Away? In Asia?

Paul: Don’t worry Quinn. It sounds worse than it is. Look at Greta and me: I used to be in the same situation as Felix a little time ago, and I think it made us stronger and more in love with the other, because you had to give that extra little bit of effort to make it work.

Greta:(smiles at her husband and strokes his arm) Oh yes. This is an opportunity! Not an obstacle. Besides see it from the bright side: when you have an argument you don’t have to see the other, but you can take a break from your relationship. (giggles and strokes her husbands arm playfully)

Paul: So that’s why you always brought up these issues when I was away! (smiles at his wife, then drinks a sip of his wine)

Greta: (looks at Quinn) That way you have time to calm down and reconsider your decisions. Besides some of the things one says, one doesn’t mean, one speaks them out of an impulse, a bad mood, and then later one regrets them.

(turns to her husband and says with a smile)

On the phone an argument is never as bad, because you cannot see how the other person responds. You can settle issues a lot easier.

Paul: So you were smashing our house, or spitting at my picture after the calls? (laughs)

Greta: Not at all Honey. I cut holes into your socks. (laughs) No, no that was just a joke!

Paul: (speaks to Felix) Hide your socks!

(Everyone laughs and the wine glasses are refilled. The starter has been eaten. Quinn and Greta carry the empty plates to the kitchen and prepare to serve the next course. All lights on them)

Greta: What a great opportunity! Some time a part will do you well. You can gain distance from your emotions and calm down. Once he is gone for a few days, or even weeks, you’ll notice how much you miss him.

Quinn: (moves to the sink, places her hand on surface and supports her upper body weight resting on her arms) Greta?

Greta: I just don’t want you to waste something great. I don’t want you to make the wrong decision. Felix is a great husband! He cares, he is good looking, he can support you and the kids…

Quinn: (Moves around the kitchen aggravated) Greta! My mind has been tormented for months! What do you think it is like falling asleep next to your husband while pondering if you still love him? Or being awake all night! Hating myself for hating him! It’s not fair on him, nor the children! But I don’t know how much longer I can go on for…pretending!?

(Quinn sits down on the floor and cries, she tries to restrain her emotions, but fails. Greta sits down next to her and puts her arms soothingly around her. That moment Paul walks into the kitchen looking for more wine. It takes him a second to realise they are on the floor)

Paul: (surprised) Oh gosh! What’s happened?!

Greta: (whispers) Sshhhh! Leave us. It’s nothing. And not a word to Felix!

Paul: (whispers) But, what is going on?

Greta: Quinn accidentally over cooked the main course…she wanted the meal to be perfect, for Felix. She is just upset for having forgotten to check on the food a little sooner.

Paul: Don’t worry Quinn. We’ll order some sushi, or something!

(Paul exists with two full bottles of wine. A few moments later Felix enters, because Paul mentioned the incident. He sees his wife crying and leans down to hug her. Greta moves to Paul, together they exit and sit down in the dinning room)

Felix: (whispers into her ear) It’s fine. Don’t worry. It’s just food. Besides I’d like to drink rather than eat tonight anyway. Everything’s fine, don’t worry. Let’s just celebrate; I deserve it after all.

And now, you go to the bathroom and recompose yourself for our guests.

(Felix kisses her on forehead)

And Quinn? Don’t do this again…we have guests.

 

(Lights now focus on Paul and Greta)

Paul: Tell me, what is really going on? The food looked fine and besides I can tell when you lie, because your voice went on a higher pitch than normally.

Greta: (sighs) Now isn’t the best time to tell you everything, but I say as much as that Quinn feels a little troubled at the moment.

Paul: Why? Isn’t today a great day for the two? She should forget her worries and be happy for now, not just for Felix, but for the family. This is good for everyone.

Greta: That’s the problem…

(Felix walks into dining room, Quinn went off stage to bathroom. Lights go back to normal)

Felix: I’m sorry you had to witness this. It’s not like her, as you know.

Greta: Don’t worry Felix, she is very proud of you!

Paul: You know, Felix, Greta said Quinn’s gentle soul is troubled about something.

(Greta pinches Paul in a way that is remains unnoticed by Felix)

Felix: Why would she be? I guess maybe her co-workers said something she takes too seriously. Don’t worry about it. It’s just Quinn giving too much importance to something trivial.

(Greta leans against Paul and looks guilty at the floor. In the mean time Felix takes the main course to the dinning room table and serves everyone. Then Quinn walks back in and sits down next to Felix)

Felix: Looking good, Honey.

(Felix refills Quinn’s wine glass. Quinn downs it in one massive gulp)

Felix: (looks annoyed) Another glass? Also Paul could you pass the water, I think crying made her thirsty.

(Felix fills up her glass and she downs it again)

Felix: (clears his throat) Let’s go next door and talk for a minute.

(then turns to his guests)

Excuse us, just for a moment, please.

(Felix stands up, walks to Quinn’s chair. He makes a gesture that she should follow him, but she refuses. After a few more tries he takes her arm and tries to pull her up. She jumps up, pulls her arm back, moves a few paces away from Felix)

Quinn: Leave me!

Felix: Quinn…Not now. Let’s go talk about this.

Quinn: I want a divorce! I cannot love you any more.

I am sorry, but I cannot keep pretending. It destroys me and is unfair on you. I am sorry this had to be tonight, but I can’t keep it up any longer. I tried…!

(Quinn cries, no one comes to sooth her)

Felix: (composed) Maybe we should talk about it in the kitchen…just the two of us.

Quinn: Not now, some day we will. But not now.

(Quinn leaves the flat. Felix doesn’t try very hard to stop her. He just remains standing while telling her that this is stupid and that she should come back)

Paul: (goes up to Felix and puts his arm around him) Have more wine. (Paul hands Felix a glass) I’m sorry, pal. (Paul drinks some wine, Felix looks at the door)

Felix: Thanks. (drinks glass half empty and the turns to Greta) So she is unhappy?

(Greta nods)

Why did she not say anything?

(body language suggests some restrained sentiment, silence no one talks. Felix and Paul drink obligatory for a while. Tension.)

Do you know where she might be going, Greta? If I were her, I would go to the gentleman’s club for a few straight Whiskey’s, but I cannot imagine her possibly do that.

Greta: She is probably walking around the block to let off some steam. Let her walk for a bit and she’ll be back.

Paul: Exactly. You know how the female mind is led on by emotions, sometimes they become very irrational and then they regret their actions shortly afterwards. (pats his wife’s knee) Man is the creature of reason, as we all know. So when she comes back don’t be too hard on her. Show her you forgive her and you’re on top of things.

Felix: You’re right. You’re right…

(Felix takes a deep breath, slowly they return to the table. No one continues eating. Felix goes to the alcohol cabinet and takes out a bottle of Whiskey that had been filled into a decorative glass bottle. He takes of the lid slowly and fills himself a small glass half full. He looks at Paul and raises the bottle. Paul nods approvingly. Felix returns to the table.)

Gosh! I didn’t see that coming, especially today.

Greta: Ahh, Felix! Honey! I can see Quinn regretting everything already, walking in the cold too ashamed to return. It’s a pity ‘this’ happened tonight, but sometimes the best and the worst just come at once.

Felix: (sips his Whiskey) Greta, tell me: what can a man do to restore his wife’s emotions?

Greta: (sighs, smiles and folds her hand together in her lap) You men really think us women to be nature’s hardest riddle to solve, but I tell you: all she wants is some attention. Listen to her, just be there for her, spent time alone with her.

Felix: But I am exhausted after work. I had to talk all day with thousands of people. All I want is some rest and quiet time and not have to focus on another task.

Paul: (refills his glass with Whiskey) Felix, I know the solution: take her on a holiday. The kids can stay with the grandparents and you two are welcome to stay at our holiday home at Lake Como: it has a great view, great restaurants are just around the corner and Milan is only an hour and a half away. You can rest, she can unwind.

Felix: A holiday. It’s a great idea! Thanks, I’ll take you up on that offer. Lake Como is very romantic and besides your “humble” holiday home makes everyone forget their worries. (Felix lifts his glass towards Paul and Greta) A piece of paradise here on earth, my friends.

(they smiled flattered)

Paul: Oh yes. That is where we will live after I have retired. I wanted the best and only the best for the last years of my life. (looks dreamily into the distance, musing about his house, then drinks a little) You have to know what you want in order to get it.

(Silence. Then Greta stands up and starts clearing the table. Comes in and out from the dining room and kitchen. When everything is almost done Paul carries a little to the kitchen with her. Felix remains quietly seated, looking at his Whiskey. In the kitchen Paul leaves the plates by the side, while Greta fills the dish washer)

Paul: What are we going to do?

Greta: We can’t leave him alone, he needs some company. Even if it is just silent support. Besides he got promoted, let us at least try to cheer him up.

Paul: Okay, but even if he hints just in the slightest for solitude we will leave. Let’s be discrete about this.

(Unnoticeably Quinn enters. She is in the dining room. Felix doesn’t notice her, he is looking at his glass. Paul and Greta continue chatting in the kitchen silently, audience can see but not hear them. Lights in kitchen are dimmed. Greta continues cleaning up, Paul watches and drinks. Quinn walks slowly and silently up to Felix and watches him for a few seconds before speaking. She looks stern and sad at the same time. Her hair and clothes are wet from the rain outside. Her make-up is a smudged, before she addresses Felix she runs with her hands under her eyes and cheeks to remove some of it. Moment drawn out a little)

Quinn: (quietly, a little louder than a whisper) Hey…

Felix: (turns around, then turns back into his previous position. Voice very quiet) We need to go on a holiday…relax, rest, talk. Spend some time together.

(Silence. Silence dragged out uncomfortably)

I am glad you’re back. I’m not angry. Just glad you’re back. Come sit down next to me. How was your walk? You’re wet? Do you want to wear my jacket?

Quinn: Felix…

Felix: It has been a very emotional year. I understand.

(Quinn rolls her eyes, then puts her hand on his shoulder, but as he tries to touch it she takes hers away

Felix: We can go to marriage counselling. I think that might be a good idea.

Quinn: (takes a few deep breaths. Struggles for the next few words) Don’t…don’t take the promotion!

Felix: (looks surprised, turns around looking at Quinn) C’mon Quinn. This is just ridiculous now. What the hell is wrong with you! Did you spend too much time with your Yoga teacher?

Quinn: (looks angry, moves a few paces away, picks up a frames picture of the two) Felix, this job has driven you mad!

Felix: (stands up) Right now you’re mad.

Quinn: The Felix I’ve married has been exchanged with a corporate whore. There is more to life than money and sucking your boss’s dick.

Felix: (tries to withhold his anger, but then smashes fist on table, voice now raised. The noise gets Greta’s and Paul’s attention) You! You have no idea what I do for this family!

Quinn: What? Coming home late, stressed, taking it out on the kids in these few minutes you see them, if you see them?

Felix: (paces up to Quinn. Stops just in front of her. Paul and Greta have now walked through the kitchen door) Your spoiled little ass is so removed from reality! Do you have any idea how much I wreck myself each day so you can buy Prada shoes and the kids can go to some Private School you decided was good for them!

(Greta upset, comes up to them. Paul sips his drink then follows her reluctantly)

Quinn: It’s me? Look at yourself! (throws picture at him) Is sitting in a box all day looking at numbers, forging yourself to be a suited machine striving senselessly towards some artificial goal reality?

(Felix throws picture on the floor) You’ve become their slave. You think and do what they want you to.

Greta: Let’s all take some deep breaths and…

Felix: (Ignores Greta) You are out of your mind! Did you smoke some cannabis with your Yoga teacher? Gosh! Grow up! This is not College anymore.

Quinn: You know what this is? This is: it is worse than superficiality devoid of meaning.

Greta: (appeals to Quinn) Now let’s recollect ourselves, the wine surely doesn’t do you well.

Quinn: Oh! Shut up Greta! Ignorance, in my world, is not bliss. Go do your hair and then give your husband a blow job.

Paul: Excellent!!! (Paul opened a bottle of wine, poured it into a wine glass, smelled and tasted it)

(Greta shocked. Looks at Paul, who just lifted up his glass after spinning the wine in the glass to assess its quality further, looks like he is toasting to Quinn’s comment)

Greta: Paul!!! (walks towards him, takes away his wine) Seriously? That’s all you have to say?

Paul: (confused) Well, I’ve rarely had the pleasure…

Greta: (slaps his cheek, takes away the wine) This is getting out of hand. (she lifts up the glass and bottle, shaking them empathetically, then walks into the kitchen to dispose of them)

Paul: (speaks quietly to himself)… of tasting such a good wine. (baffled, turns to arguing Felix and Quinn) Oh golly, are all the women on their period today?

Felix: You know what your problem is, Quinn? All you care about is yourself! You take yourself too seriously. You delude yourself! (claps his hands) Wake up! I make all the sacrifices for this family and now I’m the idiot?

Quinn: Can you at least consider what I’m saying for a second?

Felix: Can you try and see my point of view?

(Greta comes back inside)

Paul: Honey, you’re overreacting. Let’s just get on with it. Besides I haven’t had anything like it for a while. I simply voiced my approval!

(Greta looks disgusted at Paul, then glances towards Quinn. She grins bitterly, but victoriously, before slowly walking over to her. Quinn and Felix caught up in fighting. Greta taps Quinn’s shoulder for a while until she gets a reaction)

Quinn: What?!

Greta: Thanks for opening my eyes. (gives Quinn a hug) Sorry I was such a bitch. (walks back to Paul) Quinn is right, Paul: when something doesn’t work one shouldn’t stick with it trying to make it work. I’m tired of everything, unfortunately I can’t drink myself oblivious, every day…My solution must differ. (Greta takes her handbag, kisses Paul’s cheek) Bye. (walks past Quinn and Felix) After all, this was a successful evening.

Paul: This is a mad house! Did you see this? (Quinn and Felix haven’t noticed anything) Gosh! So you can’t tell me what I did to upset her? No? (gets more alcohol to drink and sits down on table)

Quinn: You know what: this is pointless. I’m talking to a fucking robot. (lifts up arms defensively, turns around and wants to walk away)

Felix: Are you running away from your stupid problem again? Is that your solution? This was your retarded idea, at least go all the way through with it!

Quinn: I’m going to pack some clothes now. That’s the reason I’ve come back.

Felix: All the clothes I’ve bought you with all the hours of my life I have wasted working! You know if I don’t like my work for a day I can’t go to my boss and ask to have time taken away from my life refunded. Your dress collection, however, is. You get it all back, I don’t.

Quinn: I don’t want this. I don’t need this. I’d rather not be rich but happy. This doesn’t mean anything. What we had…that was beautiful.

Felix: And you’re telling me that now? After how many years? How many years were you happy with me doing this? And suddenly you’re blaming me, only me? Fuck you! Really, fuck you and you self-fish ignorant cunt!

Quinn: You didn’t get anything I said, did you?

Felix: You know Quinn, if everything I offer you makes you so unhappy, why don’t you try to life without it? But, I’ll be generous: keep the flat. I’ve paid the rent ahead for the next three months: that should give you a fair amount of time, to find a new flat, suiting your income.

Good luck. It’s a tough world out there, princess.

(Felix walks off stage)

(Quinn taken by surprise. Paul’s watched everything. Pours her a glass of Whiskey and hands it to her)

Paul: Only us two left now. Cheers to us!

Quinn: Cheers. (looks around) Greta left..?

Paul: …Me, yes.

(Quinn doesn’t really understand what’s just happened)

Paul: Don’t worry too much Quinn. I’ve had a good few divorces. Growing apart from one another just happens. Throughout a life one enters man different states of being and phases, it’s rare to find someone who is on your wave length all your life. Besides the sea is full of great fish, great fish like us. (laughs)

Anyway, why don’t you swing by my office tomorrow and I’ll give you the number of my divorce lawyer. He is brilliant, I know from experience. He’ll get you what you want.

Quinn: (still beside herself) Thanks Paul.

Paul: (lifts up his glass) Cheers: to Mr Bernstein, my best friend in times like these.

(Both drink. Paul finishes his glass)

Oh and before I forget: please don’t ever, never ever, give his number to Greta. Good Girl!

 

THE END