Quiet Gardens
one act play

Excerpt

Ginny

(Calls out to Neil and Thad in the kitchen.) What begins with a Z, ends with a C, causes fermentation and has nine letters?

Neil

(Pause.) Repeat your question, por favor. (Chuckles.)

Thad

And please repeat it slowly. (Laughing.)

Ginny

Okay, listen up! (Slowly.) What begins with a Z, ends with a C, causes fermentation and has nine letters?

Neil

(Pause.) Begins with a Z, huh? (Laughing.)

Ginny

That’s right and ends with a C like in can’t get it.

Thad

(Laughing.) How many letters?

Ginny

Nine.

Neil

(Razzing Ginny.) What was the definition again?

Ginny

(Plays along.) To cause fermentation.

Neil

(Pause.) Golly, it’s just right on the tip of my tongue.

Thad

Yeah, it’s on the tip of my tongue, too. (Laughing.)

Neil

And it ends with a C like in can’t get it, huh?

Ginny

Never mind, fellas. (Smiles big.) I can tell those magical mushrooms have already started to kick in. (Pause.)

Neil

(Enters the front room and plops down in the easy chair.) Took a while but we finally finished the dishes.

Ginny

(Looks up from her NY Times crossword puzzle.) Glad you boys were capable of completing the task. (Tentatively returns to her puzzle.)

Thad

(Enters the front room, saunters over to the desk, turns on the reel to reel tape recorder and sits down on the piano bench facing the other two.) Wow! (Turns around and plays a simple, slow melody with his right hand.)

Neil

There was no sense of this kind of experience when we were chewing on those mushrooms.

Thad

You can’t get it. (Continues to play the simple melody.)

Neil

No, you can’t. (Pause.) You know that Buddhist retreat … that silent meditation I went to?

Thad

(Stops playing. Turns back around.) Oh, yeah.

Neil

After being silent for days and days … and then breaking the silence?

Thad

Yeah.

Neil

(Becomes more animated as he talks.) I didn’t wanna do it! So I kept putting it off. Hour after hour, I put it off. I walked away from breaking my silence and went on a long hike in the woods. I felt so totally comfortable in the silence. When other people were just … were just like climbing the walls to communicate, I felt more and more … and more and more comfortable!

Thad

Like you didn’t ever want to let it go?

Neil

Right! Right! Like that was the only way I wanted to relate to the others. Because … there’s … Why not?

Thad

(Laughing.) Right on, brother!

Neil

I mean we were all doing it; relating through the silence. And nobody had to be told what our name was, what we had accomplished, where we had travelled or …

Ginny

(Sits up.) So, going through the standard routine? (Lays down the crossword puzzle on the small table.)

Neil

(Nods his head and continues.) or even use those terms, you know, to define who we were. It was all coming from gestures and feelings. There was some physical contact but minimal … and eye contact and looks and just getting comfortable with who we were. You know, words don’t express … (Frustrated.) Arrgh! (Thad and Ginny chuckle.) It’s just people being themselves … or me being myself. You know? (Throws up his hands.) Oh, I don’t know.

Thad

No. Right. You didn’t want to lose that.

Neil

I didn’t want to lose … I didn’t want to have to go back and … a … a … and lose that basic way of communicating to other people and picking that up from me to them to whatever. (All laugh.)

Thad

And, so …

Neil

And, so, it’s like, it’s like … such a relief for people to talk. Not all people. That’s not true though. There
were some people who felt the same way as I did and other … Oh God, it’s such a conundrum! (All laugh.)

Ginny

I would be like … terribly confused.

Neil

(Completes his thought.) So, at the end of the retreat most people jumped on it. Jumped on it and just started talking immediately; enjoying one another’s company.

Ginny

I would do that for sure. (Chuckles.)

Neil

And some people maybe, like, took an hour. And then a few others took an hour and a half. That was an interesting process to watch, to say the least, although I didn’t stick around to watch it. (Laughs at himself.) But … anyway … (Pause.) Do you understand me; what I’m saying?

Ginny

Mmm … yeah, I do.

Thad

(Seated at the piano with head down and eyes closed.) I’m with you. (Swings around and plays up an octave scale.)

Neil

Okay.

Thad

It’s just … It’s just sending me to other places, too. (Plays same scale down an octave then swings back around and faces the other two.) But it’s not like … not apart from it.

Neil

I just wanted to sort of check … both places and see if you all … could …

Ginny

Oh, yeah. I understood it exactly!

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