|Romance Script posted June 6, 2021||Chapters:||...5 6 -7- 8...|
Arrival of an Unexpected Guest
A chapter in the book Genius in Love
Genius in Love, Scene 7
by Jay Squires
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
Thumbnail sketch of the last scene: Cornelius is deeply affected by Mr. Hiney's dramatic teaching episode with his class. The teacher's histrionics and volume of his voice cause Cornelius to have one of his episodes. It gets so out of hand that Mr. Hiney, in a panic, has one of the students summon the principal, Mr. Hallows.
Cornelius Plumb: An autistic, musical genius child, age 12. Stunningly attractive, His mother dresses him fashionably and impeccably.
Cililla Queez: An apparent product of Cornelius’ mind, a replacement for his imaginary childhood mentor, Pidely-Poo; she is here to transition him through puberty and adolescence. She is shapelier than most of the girls and her demeanor is rather racy.
Mr. Hallows: Dedicated principal of Zachary Taylor Middle School, though soon to be discharged. Mid-forties. A true empath.
Nurse Gretchen Wooden: Only skilled in small medical emergencies. Wholly unwilling to take on responsibilities for more serious matters.
Jennie Jax: Attracted to Cornelius. A classmate, physically not yet blossomed. Kind-hearted, but still a child and swayable.
Pidely-Poo: Like Cililla, an apparent product of Cornelius’s younger mind, who had been active until recently, having gone silent when Cililla materialized.
SETTING: The music room. Upstage, Right center to left, Lockers and cupboards line the walls. Several brass instruments are leaning against the wall. Upstage right, exit door leads to an outside corridor. A large window extends from the exit door to downstage, right, with draw-drapes at either end. A railing goes along the far side of the corridor. The playground, basketball court, etc., stretches beyond (Can be a backdrop picture). Right center stage, is the piano, facing the audience, but angled so the piano player can be seen, but his hand movements can’t. Miscellaneous chairs are scattered about. There is no wall, stage left: it is implicit by a “line of darkness” upstage left to downstage left.
AT RISE: CORNELIUS is at the piano, his eyes wild. He is pounding heavy, deep chords as only a practiced musician can, but with a sense of randomness and abandon—not musically. CILILLA is wandering about behind him. Her movements and her facial expression reflect CORNELIUS’S abstraction. Students walk up and down the corridor (outside), talking, laughing, being kids, with one or two glancing in the music room. Their expressions show they are aware of MR. HALLOW’S presence inside. At the downstage corner of the window, JENNIE JAX lingers, peering in at CORNELIUS. She is trembling and as the kids pass her, they stare at her disdainfully. MR. HALLOWS, downstage center, faces the corridor window. He is discussing the situation with NURSE WOODEN, who is facing him. Again, CILILLA is invisible to all but CORNELIUS.
Mr. Hiney seemed pretty upset.
Yes, he did. I thought letting the kids out early for recess might give him a chance to regroup.
(Tilting her head to the children forming small clusters in the corridor outside the window.)
If they would only spend the time actually playing at recess …. Should we tell them to move on?
Oh, I don’t know … They’re just being curious, not disruptive. Assuming they don’t storm the gates in the next five minutes, they’ll be okay. They’ll get bored and leave.
(Nodding toward CORNELIUS who is still hammering at those heavy chords around which she is forced to talk.)
Wouldn’t it be prudent to call his parents, though?
Have you ever heard him play, Gretchen?
That’s not anything approaching music, Sir.
[CILILLA stops her erratic mirroring movement behind CORNELIUS and begins to massage his shoulders. The action inside the music room and outside, on the corridor is suspended (frozen in mid-action, and is in shadow. The spotlights shine directly on CILILLA AND CORNELIUS. He stops playing but still looks at the keys. He is weary, his face drawn, and drained of emotion. His eyes slowly open and close, as though he were drifting off.]
(Wrapping her arms about him and hugging from behind)
Oh, Sweetie, we've been through so much. And we’re not finished yet.
[The suspended action resumes and the stage comes out of shadow again.]
(Responding to NURSE WOODEN’S previous question)
No, not that. Young Cornelius is simply scraping the muck from his Master’s stables.
Sir? Sorry? His Master’s stables?
It’s what the Zen Buddhist novitiates had to do before they were worthy of kneeling at the feet of their Master.
(In a very weary tone)
Oh, Mr. Hallows …
It won’t be long, Gretchen. Be patient. It's dirty work, but the novitiate has to do it before he's worthy. Now he's just scraping and pounding. Loosening the debris. Soon, though, the stables will be sparkling and ready. Soon, his Master will raise him from his knees, and bless him. And out of those fingers that are now pounding the keys so furiously, will come ...
(smiles, studying his own fingers in front of his face)
... a most glorious music, Gretchen. Music that will make the Angels blush.
With all due respect, Mr. Hallows, I feel I must wash my hands of it all.
(Patting her arm)
Ah … well … Consider them squeaky clean, Gretchen. I take full responsibility for the lad.
But I've frightened you. You must think I'm mad. But it's all just metaphor, you know. Just metaphor. Words grappling to come to grips with this ... thing ... this
terrifying thundercloud of creativity that builds in genius like our lad possesses before it releases. Ah, yes, but we only see it from the outside, Gretchen, we can never quite understand it, can we?
(A quick sideward glance at JENNIE JAX, who had been watching him keenly, and now steps back out of sight; he turns back to NURSE WOODEN, who he notices had been eyeing the girl, too. For a moment they are silent.)
MR. HALLOWS (Continued.):
You see her too—that child? Do you know her?
That would be Jennifer … no, Jennie, Jennie, Jennie Jax. That’s it. A quiet little thing. A transfer from Montana. Just this week I reviewed her medical and vaccination record. Why do you ask, Sir? I’m sure she doesn’t mean to snoop.
No, no, it’s something else. All those kids out there, they’re the seasoned snoopers. They've been stealing their glances very carefully at you, me, and the lad, and then they look away. Only Jennie Jax has willingly endured their barbs and taunts, on top of fearing our censure if she’s found out … and all to watch the drama going on in here. Why would she do that?
You’re a lot more interesting than I, Gretchen. Do you suppose Jennie's waiting for you to be free, so she can ask you—oh, I don’t know—about becoming a student nurse’s assistant, or something?
(With the expression of one who knows she’s being teased.)
I don’t think so, Mr. Hallows. I think she’s watching the boy.
You think she's watching Cornelius?
[At the sound of his name, CORNELIUS’S head jerks up from the keys and his eyes dart about the room. Simultaneously, CILILLA’S eyes jitter about as well. She slides onto the bench seat and scootches up to CORNELIUS. Clearly, she is being absorbed by his abstracted demeanor. As he looks back at the keys and resumes pounding, her body and his begin to vibrate in unison, slowly at first, then more violently. Those chords that were a moment ago heavy, but ordered, now have become a jumbled disarray of keys seeming to battle one another. Students, seeing a change, begin to gather at the window.]
He’s seizing! Oh, my goodness, he’s having a seizure!
(Turning toward the door, she stops, frightened, uncertain.)
Mr. Hallows …
(A dismissive chuckle, but with just a tinge of doubt.)
No, it’s nothing. He’s been this way before, Gretchen. Just the last of the storm clouds passing. A little rumble. A little rain. Be patient.
[As though on cue, CORNELIUS’S AND CILILLA’S vibration slows, stops. So do his fingers on the keys. Their bodies are still together; their eyes are open, but they don’t move. They look totally spent.]
MR. HALLOWS (Continued):
See! Clouds have passed. Weather calm. I can feel it ... the music's about to come.
Oh, Mr. Hallows … storm clouds? Rain? Cleaning the master’s stables …?
(then, with sudden conviction)
No … I—I’m sorry, Sir, I can’t—I need to call his parents.
[She crosses to the door upstage right, and exits. She is seen going down the corridor behind the children, many of whose faces are now pressed to the window. She says something to them and they start to disperse … all but JENNY JAX, at her spot at the corner of the window; openly crying, verging on hysteria.]
[Offstage left, the VOICE of a young man, pitched rather high, much like one who has gone through a recent adolescent voice change; playful, yet confident. At the sound of his voice, CORNELIUS’S eyes open wide, and a smile spreads. CILILLA slides off the bench, standing beside it, her hands on her hips, shaking her head, her mouth gaping open. (Only CILILLA and CORNELIUS and the AUDIENCE can hear the voice.) MR. HALLOWS, who had been following the nurse’s departure, lingers now on JENNY JAX; he stares at her with compassion etched on his face. Again, action is suspended for MR. HALLOWS and the students in the corridor; the stage goes into shadow, except for the spotlight on CORNELIUS AND CILILLA.]
Oh, my Cornie, Cornie, Cornie … what a fine, little mess we’ve gotten ourselves into this time.
[Pidely-Poo emerges from offstage left, through the darkness barrier, and into center stage. He is flamboyantly attired in electric orange trousers, cut off at the knee, and a frilly, pink shirt. His hair is yellow—not blond—but banana-yellow and is stiffly spiked. He wears white deck-shoes, no socks. He flits, like a bird, toward CORNELIUS AND CILILLA.]
(Half under her breath, trying to control her rage)
Shit! Shit! Shit!
I feel I should apologize for the abundance of stage direction. But stubbornly, I'm not going to do it. The music room will be the location for the next scene, and perhaps the one following. I need to make sure the setting is well-established in the readers' minds.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
Much gratitude for the photo by Daniel on Upsplash.
© Copyright 2021. Jay Squires All rights reserved.
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