William Fowkes – Two Americans in London

William Fowkes is an award-winning playwright and author based in Manhattan & Connecticut and a member of the Dramatists Guild. His plays have been presented in 25 states, the District of Columbia, and the United Kingdom–at Theatre Rhinoceros, the Cherry Lane Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Gallery Players, LaBute New Theater Festival (St. Louis), Penobscot Theatre Company, the Great Plains Theatre Conference, Harlequin Productions, the Pulse Ensemble Theatre, the Players’ Ring, Theatre Southwest, the Collective NY, Stage Left Theatre, the William Inge Theater Festival, Silver Spring Stage, the Wild Project and elsewhere. Many of his plays have been presented on the radio, on podcasts, and online; many have been published. His short fiction has been published in many journals. A graduate of Yale University (B.A., magna cum laude) & Northwestern University (M.A., PhD-in philosophy & aesthetics), he was formerly a philosophy professor (Hobart & William Smith Colleges and Northwestern University) and a media & television executive (Showtime, HBO, CBS Records, & Time Magazine Group). He currently runs a playwrights’ group at the Dramatists Guild in New York. He is married to music conductor Stephen Michael Smith.


Two Americans in London

A Play by William Ivor Fowkes


CHARACTERS:

BRIAN HUDSON: Age 40s/50s. American. A late-blooming romantic.

CHRISTOPHER LEARY: Age 20s/30s. American expatriate. Good-looking and well dressed. Solicitous and professional, but a bit suspicious. A romantic turned hard.


SETTING:
The lobby bar of a hotel in London.


TIME:
2019.


Scene: Christopher is seated at a table with two glasses of sherry. Brian enters. Spots Christopher. Approaches the table tentatively.

BRIAN
Christopher? … Christopher Leary?

CHRISTOPHER stands up.

CHRISTOPHER
Good to see you. You must be… No, wait—you’re not…!

BRIAN
Small world!

CHRISTOPHER
(momentarily pleased)
Brian Hudson!

CHRISTOPHER goes to shake hands. BRIAN pulls CHRISTOPHER into a hug. CHRISTOPHER pushes BRIAN away.

BRIAN
(unruffled)
What are you doing in London?

CHRISTOPHER
(stiffly)
I live here now. What are you doing here?

BRIAN
I was up in Edinburgh giving the keynote speech at a marketing conference.
(modestly)
I was named Marketer of the Year by the International Marketing Society.

CHRISTOPHER
Should I be impressed?

BRIAN
Not really. Gosh, it’s great to see you! You look…

CHRISTOPHER
(cutting him off—nervously)
Look, I’d love to chat, but I’m meeting someone. Maybe we can get together for a drink some other time.

BRIAN
But I’m only here for a couple of days.

CHRISTOPHER
Sorry. They’re going to be here any minute—business, you know.

BRIAN
Yes, I know. You’re meeting Jack Williams.

CHRISTOPHER
How do you know?

BRIAN
Because I’m Jack Williams!
(beat)
I mean, I said I was Jack Williams when I made the appointment.

CHRISTOPHER
What? Well, if that isn’t a dirty trick!

BRIAN
Hey, it worked!

CHRISTOPHER
I’m leaving!

CHRISTOPHER starts to exit

BRIAN
Why? You obviously don’t have other plans. I’m your other plans.

CHRISTOPHER stops.

CHRISTOPHER
(defeated)
All right. Since you’ve screwed things up, I guess we’ll just have that drink now.

BRIAN and CHRISTOPHER sit.

 

BRIAN
(surprised)
Somebody already brought the drinks.

CHRISTOPHER
It said you drank sherry in your profile—I mean in Jack Williams’s profile.

BRIAN
Oh, I guess it did. How clever!

CHRISTOPHER
I’m very thorough.

BRIAN
(looking around)
Good spot, too. I’ve always loved Claridge’s.

CHRISTOPHER
I try to impress my clients.

BRIAN
I’m very impressed.

BRIAN raises his glass.
BRIAN
Hey, cheers! To fortuitous encounters!

CHRISTOPHER
Don’t you mean “dirty tricks”?

BRIAN
Relax, Christopher! I’m not here to cause any trouble.

CHRISTOPHER
I bet.

BRIAN
Just enjoy the moment—for old times’ sake. You look good!

BRIAN drains his glass.

BRIAN
God, I needed that!
(beat)
I lied. You don’t look good—you look very good. Damn! Wish you didn’t! Hey—how long has it been?

CHRISTOPHER
I don’t keep track.

BRIAN
Remember how we used to count the weeks? Celebrate an anniversary every Wednesday?

CHRISTOPHER lights up a cigarette.

BRIAN
When did you start smoking?

CHRISTOPHER
I always smoked.

BRIAN
I don’t remember that. Do you count the weeks with others, too? Or was that just our little thing?

CHRISTOPHER
I don’t know. Maybe.

BRIAN
You see, that’s the problem—I never knew with you. It all seemed so real, so genuine. But then—turns out it wasn’t. There were others in your life, too.

CHRISTOPHER
Not then there weren’t.

BRIAN
What about Eric?

CHRISTOPHER
He doesn’t count. He was there first.

BRIAN
But you were quick enough to drop him once I came along. That should have told me you weren’t the faithful type.


CHRISTOPHER
You should talk!

BRIAN
I was just coming off my divorce from Margaret. What did you expect?

CHRISTOPHER
I didn’t expect you to go off with some French guy—and then that Vietnamese woman!

BRIAN
The woman was a mistake. I was confused. And I really thought François just wanted some career advice.

CHRISTOPHER
In his hotel room?

BRIAN
I shouldn’t have told you, but you insisted on “full disclosure.”

CHRISTOPHER
What did I know? I was so young.

BRIAN
Ah—there we go! I overheard you that time—laughing with your roommate about how I’d be a crotchety old man someday while you’d still be young and vital!

CHRISTOPHER
Are you crotchety yet?
(beat)
Look, your age was never an issue. I get along fine with older people.

BRIAN
I guess your business demands it.

CHRISTOPHER
All I know is—I’m not the one who blew it.

BRIAN
You went back to Eric! Unbeknownst to me at the time.

CHRISTOPHER
I never would’ve gone back to him if you hadn’t slept with Pierre.


BRIAN
François! Anyway, we worked that all out! I apologized. I cried. We had the best sex of our lives that night! We got past it!

CHRISTOPHER
Eric made me see the futility of staying with you.

BRIAN
You’re so gullible—he was just trying to win you back.

CHRISTOPHER
I was an idiot to drop him for you in the first place.

BRIAN
Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself. No one’s ever been able to resist my charm.
(beat)
I’m kidding!

CHRISTOPHER
Are you? I never know. Maybe that was the problem—you were just too clever for me.

BRIAN
You like ’em dumb?

CHRISTOPHER
Eric wasn’t dumb, damn it! He was good.

BRIAN
So, what became of Mr. Good?

CHRISTOPHER
I don’t want to talk about it!

BRIAN
Just tell me. What difference does it make now?

CHRISTOPHER
(snapping)
He dumped me! Does that make you happy? He said he was sick of listening to me talk about you all the time!

BRIAN
He dumped you for talking?

CHRISTOPHER
He could see I wasn’t over you.
(quietly)
I’m still not.

BRIAN
Why would you want me to believe that?

CHRISTOPHER
Because it’s true.

BRIAN
God, if I could believe that…! Don’t you know how important you were to me? When I met you, my life was falling apart. Margaret was angry; my son was confused. And I felt like a failure in the eyes of the whole Hudson family—the damaged gay brother. But then I met you and thought—if a beautiful young man like this could want me, I must be all right, after all.

CHRISTOPHER
I never realized you wanted me as a trophy wife.

BRIAN
That came out wrong. I just meant—I was so proud to be with you. So what if I’d fucked up my marriage? So what if my brothers looked down on me? I’d done something greater than either of them—I’d won this magnificent man. We were going to have such a life together! But then you left me, and I was back to being just a fuckup again.

CHRISTOPHER
Don’t be so hard on yourself. What about that big marketing award you just won in Edinburgh?

BRIAN
I’d still rather have won you.
(starting to get carried away)
You have no idea what you released in me when I met you. How hard I tried to get over you. What I could still release at the drop of a…?
(cutting himself off)
Oh…never mind.

CHRISTOPHER
No, don’t stop!
(starting to get carried away, too)
This is getting good. It’s like we never…! Like we still…! Even your cologne. It’s bringing it all back.

BRIAN
(trying to control himself)
Okay, this is crazy!

CHRISTOPHER
No, it’s not! That’s how love works.

BRIAN
Love?

CHRISTOPHER
What else could it be?

BRIAN
I shouldn’t have come. I only came to… I was curious.

CHRISTOPHER
You could’ve just e-mailed me.

BRIAN
No, I had to ask you in person.
(a new voice—almost pleading)
Why did you do it? You ruined everything! You made it impossible for us ever to be together again.

CHRISTOPHER
Why? Because you’re so pure and good?

BRIAN
Because some things are… Because some things go beyond the bounds of…of…of decency!

CHRISTOPHER
You self-righteous son of a bitch!

CHRISTOPHER jumps up suddenly. Starts to storm out, but circles back.

CHRISTOPHER
(yelling)
What’s your idea of decency? Being a sneak? A liar? Not trusting me? Playing God with other people’s lives?

BRIAN
(more quietly)
Hey, quiet down. Sit down and act professionally. You don’t want the management throwing you out—that wouldn’t impress your clients.

CHRISTOPHER sits down.

CHRISTOPHER
(more quietly)
Like you know how to act.

BRIAN
I had to find out for myself.

CHRISTOPHER
It was just another one of your goddamn dirty tricks.

BRIAN
I thought it was pretty clever.

CHRISTOPHER
Newsflash, mister: Anyone can impersonate someone else on the Internet.

BRIAN
But I really had you fooled, didn’t I? If I’d asked you directly, would you have admitted the truth?

CHRISTOPHER
(softening)
Probably not.

BRIAN
So, there we are.

BRIAN and CHRISTOPHER stare at each other.

CHRISTOPHER
(finally—calmly)
Okay, you want me to act professionally? Let’s get down to business. You reserved the time. The room’s already booked.

BRIAN
You booked a room at Claridge’s? I didn’t realize your clients were so well off. I guess congratulations are in order.

CHRISTOPHER
Not here. A place around the corner. Shall we go?

BRIAN
Uh… I don’t think so. Thanks, anyway.

CHRISTOPHER
You’re going to throw good money away like that?

BRIAN
I haven’t paid you anything yet.

CHRISTOPHER
I wouldn’t charge you anyway.

BRIAN puts a wad of money on the table.

BRIAN
No, I insist on paying—I think I got my money’s worth.

CHRISTOPHER
I’m not taking this.

BRIAN
I can finally get over you now. Seeing you like this. Knowing you’ve been with—I don’t know—probably hundreds of men by now.

CHRISTOPHER
Believe me, I’m not that ambitious.

BRIAN
Maybe thousands.

CHRISTOPHER
Or that energetic.
(beat)
Look, you’ve got the wrong idea. I only do this occasionally—just to tide me over sometimes.

CHRISTOPHER picks up the money. Puts it in his coat pocket.

BRIAN
Knowing you can never erase this.

CHRISTOPHER
I could stop anytime I wanted. Start a new life or something. Maybe even with you.

BRIAN
But this will always be what you once were.

CHRISTOPHER
(defeated)
Well, you’ve got a point there.

BRIAN
I better go.

CHRISTOPHER
Do I at least get a goodbye kiss?

BRIAN
I don’t think that’s a good idea.

CHRISTOPHER
I’m sure the management of Claridge’s wouldn’t mind.

BRIAN reaches over and touches CHRISTOPHER instead.

CHRISTOPHER
Okay, then. Adios, amigo.

BRIAN gets up.

BRIAN
Adios.

CHRISTOPHER
You know how to reach me.

BRIAN
That’s what worries me.

BRIAN exits.

END OF PLAY

Aside | This entry was posted in News, Plays. Bookmark the permalink.

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