The Battle of Jamesboro

Characters
Linus Cash
Alicia Breen
Sophie Ridley
Judge Filbert

Setting
The garden terrace of the Ridleys' house, on the James River near Richmond, Virginia.

A chaise lounge. A pair of chairs. A low round table.

Time
Late. Fall.

(LINUS sits on the chaise lounge, smoking, ALICIA sneaks out, takes a deep breath, then sees him. HE does not look at her.)

ALICIA: I didn't think you were here. I mean, I didn't think anyone would be outside. It's really dropped off, hasn't it? Hardly to Halloween, and such a chill in the air. They'll probably bring in the furniture soon. (Shivers and moves.) I came out for some air. Not too long. A little air. It gets so crowded sometimes! No, just a little air, and then back in.

(Pause. LINUS flicks ash.)

LINUS: I came out to smoke.

ALICIA: I didn't see you leave. So many people. But it's thinning out now; everyone's heading home. I thought maybe you left.

LINUS: It's not that late.

ALICIA: No, not yet.

LINUS: Tomorrow is Saturday.

ALICIA: Yes. But this isn't the sort of thing you normally do on a Friday night. Not a reason to be out late.

LINUS: Social gathering. Consumption of alcohol.

ALICIA: But under the circumstances...

LINUS: The circumstances are unfortunate.

ALICIA: Linus!

LINUS: The circumstances are far from ideal.

ALICIA: Jimmy is dead!

LINUS: I think he would have appreciated the irony of it. No, irony is not the right word.

ALICIA: I wish you wouldn't talk like that.

LINUS: It's the truth. Which may seem inappropriate to you at a time like this.

ALICIA: You're drunk.

LINUS: I've had a few drinks. Like many of the other mourners, I found solace in a glass...over and over again. Something which I'm sure Jimmy would have appreciated. But I am not drunk.

ALICIA: You know it's not healthy, all this drinking. It's not good for you.

LINUS: Don't speak to me like that. I'm not one of your kids. I'm not in the fourth grade.

ALICIA: I'm sorry. I don't know what to say to you. (Pause.) I was worried about seeing you here. I didn't know what I would say if I bumped into you, with all those people in black. If someone introduced us. "Alicia, do you know Linus?" And what would I say? "Yes, we've met." That's all it was, wasn't it? A couple of hours. I hardly know you at all. (Pause.) You said you would call.

LINUS: I never said that.

ALICIA: Jimmy said you would. You told him.

LINUS: Jimmy said a lot of things.

ALICIA: He was a nice guy.

LINUS: He was nice sometimes. But he was hardly a paragon of virtue.

ALICIA: I don't see why you have to be so ugly.

LINUS: It's part of an experiment I'm conducting.

ALICIA: To do with your research?

LINUS: An experiment in unfettered honesty. See how much a person can take.

ALICIA: I didn't know you were like this. You were so kind to me at dinner. You made me laugh--told the most interesting stories. I thought you were a gentleman.

LINUS: An easy mistake.

ALICIA: No, I think you really are a gentle man. You've had too much to drink. That, and the stress from Jimmy's--death...it's no wonder you're saying things.

LINUS: Don't make excuses for me. I'm not drunk, or crazy, or bereaved.

ALICIA: It's okay to be upset, to talk about it I can be here to listen...

LINUS: You just told me to shut up.

(ALICIA comes toward LINUS.)

ALICIA: I think you need someone to talk to. I see how you're acting, and maybe if you just talked to someone who knew Jimmy...

(SOPHIE appears in the doorway.)

LINUS: But you don't know me. You just said.

SOPHIE: Jimmy's editor is leaving, Linus. You wanted to talk to him.

(SOPHIE steps aside as LINUS goes into the house. ALICIA sits down. SOPHIE comes out onto the terrace.)

SOPHIE: I didn't realize you had met.

ALICIA: We had been introduced.

SOPHIE: Of course. Everyone making the rounds, meeting each other. Mother insisted on having the reception, so we could share our grief. With the liquor and the guest list, it's more like a garden party, though it's too late in the year to use the garden.

ALICIA: Jimmy introduced us.

SOPHIE: You and Linus? When?

ALICIA: Last month. He set us up. We had dinner in a nice place in D.C.

SOPHIE: Jimmy set you up on a blind date? With Linus?

ALICIA: He told me that I'd like his friend. And I did. It was a very nice time.

SOPHIE: No follow up?

ALICIA: Jimmy said he'd call me, but he never did.

SOPHIE: He was always a strange one, Linus. Jimmy told me the most amazing stories. They've been best friends since Charlottesville. And apparently they still saw each other regularly, with Jimmy in Washington and Linus doing his doctorate in Baltimore.

ALICIA: Hopkins is good for history, isn't it?

SOPHIE: That's what Jimmy said. (Pause.) I don't want you to take this the wrong way.

ALICIA: What?

SOPHIE: I talked to Jimmy at least once last week. More so since the divorce, and with our dear parents out of the country. And in the last few months, he never mentioned you. I didn't think he'd talked to you since high school. Back then he spent all his time with you, or with Pete Filbert. And then, when Pete died, it seemed like you were his only friend. But when he went off to college, it was like he cut you off. And now you're back.

ALICIA: I hadn't heard from him in awhile.

SOPHIE: I always liked you. I thought you were smart. A little quiet.

ALICIA: He turned up one day out of the blue. I was going out to the parking lot after school, and he was there waiting for me. I hadn't seen him in how many years, and he just shows up. We went to the park, and dinner later. He had tracked me down - learned how from his job.

SOPHIE: When was this?

ALICIA: It must have been about February. Since then, he'd call every so often, make plans to go out.

SOPHIE: Isn't that funny. He never told me.

ALICIA: I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it, Sophie.

SOPHIE: So you had been talking to him regularly.

ALICIA: More or less.

SOPHIE: What do you think? Why'd he do it?

ALICIA: I don't know.

SOPHIE: That's what I told Mother. But she pressed on. "Don't they leave a note with this kind of thing?" If it was so easy to explain, he wouldn't have done it in the first place. There's no talking to her. Still, when I cleaned out his apartment, I looked. Took every scrap of paper in the place.

ALICIA: You didn't find a note.

SOPHIE: I found lots of notes. You knew how he felt about computers. Only trust what you see, he said. So he used that tattered typewriter until the day he died, and there were thousands of slips of paper with notes scrawled on them, all over the apartment. I haven't looked through it all yet, to see if one of them might offer the great explanation. But since you had begun seeing him again...

ALICIA: I wasn't really seeing him.

SOPHIE: I thought you were dating.

ALICIA: It was more like social visits between two old friends, when the possibility of anything - romantic - had already passed some time before.

SOPHIE: Of course. He set you up with Linus. What do you think of him, anyway?

ALICIA: He's having a hard time. I think he's drunk, But, oh...

SOPHIE: What?

ALICIA: I can't say that! Giggles. Oh, but he's gorgeous!

SOPHIE: Yes, he is, isn't he? And he's quite well off, too.

ALICIA: Linus? He's rich?

SOPHIE: His mother is a Caldecott.

ALICIA: I didn't know that.

SOPHIE: And Jimmy told me...No. I shouldn't tell you. You still carry a torch for the beautiful man.

ALICIA: No, tell me. I want to know.

SOPHIE: If you're sure... Jimmy said that last summer, the summer of last year, Linus went off to France.

ALICIA: He told me about it, Linus did. He was doing research for his dissertation.

SOPHIE: He went to France with a woman. (Pause.) They had been seeing each other for awhile, and they ran off to France to get married. His family didn't approve of her. So they went to France, and - really, you don't want to hear this-

ALICIA: What?

SOPHIE: They were married, by a magistrate in Paris, and were to spend their wedding night in a lovely little inn by the Louvre. Only their time together was cut short. You see, as they were - negotiating the marital property - in their room in the little inn, he had some problems. And she took her things and left, left him alone that night in the inn by the Louvre.

(LINUS comes out onto the terrace.)

LINUS: What did I miss?

ALICIA: We were just talking.

LINUS: What was the subject?

SOPHIE: Why my brother blew his brains out.

LINUS: Any theories?

SOPHIE: We haven't reached that point yet. We haven't considered the evidence.

LINUS: The inquest is just starting, then.

SOPHIE: Just getting under way.

ALICIA: Is this a joke to you? Someone we all care about is dead, by his own hand, and you carry on...

LINUS: Does our speculation offend you?

ALICIA: There are some things that shouldn't be said.

LINUS: Don't you wonder why he did it? You must find his behavior odd.

SOPHIE: She was just saying how he suddenly reappeared in her life last winter. Out of the blue.

ALICIA: I'm sure he had his reasons.

LINUS: There's a reason for everything. Cause and effect. You flip the switch, the lights come on. You teach that in the fourth grade, don't you? Cause and effect?

SOPHIE: They must teach that in the fourth grade.

LINUS: And this is the goal of our inquest. We know the effect: our dear, beloved friend and brother Jimmy Ridley found dead in his apartment, his brains splattered on the bathroom floor-

SOPHIE: Why did he do it in the bathroom?

LINUS: -and we must determine the cause, namely: why did he put the gun in his mouth and pull the trigger?

(ALICIA moves to the door.)

ALICIA: I don't want to hear this.

LINUS: I never said I'd call.

(ALICIA stops.)

ALICIA: We were over this-

LINUS: You don't believe that Jimmy was capable of dishonesty, but I think - I know! - he represented our little encounter differently to the two of us.

SOPHIE: She thought she was on a blind date.

LINUS: He told me she wanted to talk about school - a unit for social studies. The Civil War. Business, not pleasure. He knows I would never let him set me up.

SOPHIE: (Laughs.)But he did - set you up.

LINUS: Our first piece of evidence.

ALICIA: I don't see what difference it makes.

LINUS: It tells us what Jimmy was thinking. I would never have met you for dinner if I knew it was a blind date, and you would never have met me if you had known I wasn't interested.

SOPHIE: Then why'd he do it?

LINUS: It wasn't the Civil War. And I had nothing to gain from our meeting. Which can only mean-

ALICIA: Wait a minute! I'm not some fawning, middle-aged spinster!

SOPHIE: (to LINUS)Maybe you should back down.

LINUS: Alicia has found her limit. It's part of this experiment we're conducting, you see.

ALICIA: I'm not part of your experiment.

LINUS: An experiment in how much truth a person can tolerate. Alicia is sensitive when it comes to her romantic life, and thus her limit in that area is quite low.

ALICIA: You're one to talk. You haven't been lucky in love, with what happened in Paris.

LINUS: Did Jimmy tell you that?

ALICIA: No, I heard it from someone else.

LINUS: What did you hear?

ALICIA: You ran off with some girl, married her, and then on your wedding night, when it was time to--to--

LINUS: Say it.

ALICIA: -to-consummate-your union...well, you had a problem. You couldn't function-

SOPHIE: (Laughs.)Oh, that's rich, really.

ALICIA: -and so she left you. Ran off.

SOPHIE: (Laughs harder.) I'm sorry, Linus, I really am. I couldn't help myself. Jimmy told me, and she was upset about the date. I thought it couldn't hurt...

LINUS: (to ALICIA)And of course you believe this.

ALICIA: Like you said, I hardly know you. But it would explain a lot...

SOPHIE: You told her you went to France.

LINUS: Is that the sort of thing people do? Do they really elope to France, and get abandoned before they make it official?

ALICIA: You went to France.

LINUS: For research, I told you. French influence on early American thought. Revolution and early republic. The idea of America. I told you.

ALICIA: Did you go alone?

LINUS: This is hardly relevant. We're talking about Jimmy...

SOPHIE: She asked a simple question, Linus. I thought you wanted the truth.

LINUS: I went with a woman. I went with a woman.

SOPHIE: Were the two of you close?

LINUS: We'd been seeing each other. She came with me.

ALICIA: There wasn't a wedding.

LINUS: I'd know if I was married.

SOPHIE: If what Jimmy said was true - if you'd had the ceremony, but hadn't - done the deed - well, then technically, legally speaking, it wouldn't count-

ALICIA: Maybe Jimmy was lying. There was no wedding in France.

SOPHIE: Where did you stay?

LINUS: A little inn on a side street.

SOPHIE: By the Louvre.

(LINUS looks away.)

SOPHIE: That leaves us wondering, and you can't blame us, really, since we are women of the world, and we're bound to be curious about this subject: was it nerves? Did she not do it for you? Or is this a problem you've had before?

(Pause.)

LINUS: You're the expert on marriage. Your husband left you. You had to move back in with your parents.

SOPHIE: You got me nailed.

LINUS: You put him through med school, and a few years down the road, he trades you in for a new model with fewer miles.

SOPHIE: That's what Jimmy told you.

LINUS: Cast aside like garbage - like a used tissue.

ALICIA: I didn't know he left you for another woman.

SOPHIE: He didn't.

LINUS: You didn't do it...

SOPHIE: Our relationship, our private relations, were very regular...I don't see how we could have...

ALICIA: (to LINUS)So Jimmy lied to you.

LINUS: Another strike against Jimmy.

SOPHIE: Here's a little fun fact for you: Jimmy liked to tell stories. Sometimes they were true, and sometimes, he livened them up.

LINUS: And this may be why he did it.

ALICIA: Because of a story he told?

LINUS: According to the evidence, the witnesses...

SOPHIE: There were no witnesses. He was alone.

LINUS: I talked to his editor.

(FILBERT staggers on from the house. SOPHIE goes up to him.)

FILBERT: Where has everyone gone? I can't find...

SOPHIE: Hi, Judge.

FILBERT: Sophie, your parents. I wanted to talk to your parents.

SOPHIE: They've gone to the airport.

FILBERT: Back to Africa? So soon?

SOPHIE: Daddy has responsibilities.

FILBERT: But Jimmy is gone.

(FILBERT loses his balance. SOPHIE helps him to a seat by ALICIA, then turns to LINUS and signals the smell of FILBERT's breath: he's drunk.)

FILBERT: Jimmy is gone...

ALICIA: Why don't you sit with us for a while?

FILBERT: (looking at ALICIA): You went with Jimmy. Jimmy and my boy Pete.

ALICIA: (smiling gently): Yes. Yes, I did.

SOPHIE: (Indicating LINUS): And this is Jimmy's friend from college, Linus Cash. (to LINUS): Judge Filbert is an old friend of Daddy's. He sits on the state supreme court.

LINUS: One of your leading jurists. Yes.

FILBERT: He was a bright young man. Very talented. No telling what good he might have done.

LINUS: (Sneering): That's one point of view.

FILBERT: How do you see it? Who speak ill of the dead.

LINUS: It all comes down to point of view. We all talk about Jimmy, but none of us got the whole picture. You can't help but think of him as a little boy.

FILBERT: A man. A young man. How many times, too many to count, he'd call me to talk, to ask me questions, my years of experience and expertise, he said. How many times. His insight, intelligence...

SOPHIE: (Surprised): You talked to Jimmy?

FILBERT: I kept an eye out for him, after Pete passed on. He never got along with your father. I was a sounding board.

LINUS: When did you last speak to him?

FILBERT: The conversations were private.

SOPHIE: Linus is asking because it might be important.

LINUS: This is very important. We are trying to find out why.

FILBERT: (Grunts.) You can never know why.

(ALICIA looks at LINUS, then at FILBERT.)

ALICIA: What he's saying, Judge, is we all cared about Jimmy. Maybe he said something that explains - not explains...suggests - suggests to us why he did it. When you talked to him last. You can understand that, can't you? If you just tell us what you talked about.

(FILBERT shifts in his seat.)

FILBERT: Election. Senate. Bribery.

SOPHIE: A story? Was it a story for the magazine?

(FILBERT shakes his head, waves a hand, and looks into the distance. ALICIA looks at him, then moves to the door.)

ALICIA: I'm finding someone to take him home.

(ALICIA goes into the house.)

SOPHIE: (to LINUS): What did the editor say?

LINUS: Jimmy was working on a lot of stories. But one in particular - it contains certain elements...

SOPHIE: What the judge said.

LINUS: I didn't get all the details. He only hinted - wasn't finished.

SOPHIE: You talked to his editor.

LINUS: He didn't file the story. Whatever he found in New York wasn't conclusive.

SOPHIE: Jimmy went to New York? When?

LINUS: Several times. He had been there the week before.

SOPHIE: The story...it involved bribery?

LINUS: He was very vague. Complicated entanglements. The Commerce Department, the Senate Banking Committee, several leading banks. Something with interest rates.

SOPHIE: Something illegal?

LINUS: Allegedly. He was looking for proof.

FILBERT: They killed him.

(LINUS laughs and shakes his head. SOPHIE looks at FILBERT.)

SOPHIE: Who?

FILBERT: The lying bastards. He wanted truth...they drove him to it.

LINUS: Another theory: it wasn't suicide. Conspiracy. Jimmy was murdered.

FILBERT: (Grunts. Moves in chair.) It was a big story.

LINUS: We can't know what he found.

SOPHIE: (Realizing):His notes! Of course, his notes!

(ALICIA comes back out from the house.)

ALICIA: I couldn't find anyone. It seems we're the last ones left.

(They don't look at her.)

LINUS: You have his notes?

SOPHIE: I cleaned out his apartment. It's all up in his room.

ALICIA: (to LINUS): Don't get carried away. It's getting late, and we'll have to be going soon. You have that long drive, all the way to Baltimore.

(LINUS gestures SOPHIE toward the house.)

LINUS (to ALICIA, as he passes): What you said. The night air, and all that.

(ALICIA moves across the terrace. FILBERT looks at her.)

FILBERT: You're in love with that boy.

(ALICIA turns and smiles.)

ALICIA: Oh, Judge.

FILBERT: Like with Jimmy. Pete, too.

ALICIA: I cared about Jimmy. Pete, too.

FILBERT: They were good boys. Three of you, friends. But you were always closer to Jimmy.

ALICIA: We were good friends.

FILBERT: I was glad for Pete. Good boy for a friend. He was so young. Never learned to drive.

ALICIA: It was very sudden. We didn't know he was sick.

FILBERT: How Maud cried. What to say? I could still see him, later. A doctor maybe...No. Too quiet. A teacher, like you.

ALICIA: Pete was good at science.

FILBERT: High school. I could see him. (Pause.) And you'd be married. Not him. Pete was never much with girls. Never had a chance. But you and Jimmy. We were sure.

ALICIA: Everyone thought that. We were just friends, Jimmy and I.

FILBERT: We thought...

ALICIA: We were inseparable. But he held me at bay. I guess I was fascinated by him. His family. It was so different. Trips to Europe. And his father, in politics. The Senate!

FILBERT: State Senate.

ALICIA: I'd see him on the news when I was little, before I knew Jimmy. And you, too. Famous judge. Everyone I knew was so ordinary. And then I met Jimmy.

FILBERT: Top of the class. Him and Pete.

ALICIA: I didn't meet him until high school. He knew Pete...(Laughs to self.) They used to joke...said they knew each other forever!

FILBERT: Same class, all through school.

ALICIA: I never really talked to Pete. He was quiet with me. I used to think - it was silly - I used to think he didn't like having me around.

FILBERT: (Smiling): Sweet girl.

ALICIA: (to herself): It's silly.

FILBERT: All alone.

ALICIA: Your wife. I'm sorry. I heard...

FILBERT: So sudden. Like Pete.

ALICIA: The accident.

FILBERT: Jimmy talked to me.

ALICIA: On the phone.

FILBERT: Called me. All the time. Said - one time, said the car.. a defect in the...something. Mechanism. The manufacturer.

ALICIA: He looked into it.

FILBERT: Saw me, too. Brought a present, every time. Present in a bottle. (Laughs to himself.)

ALICIA: Visited you.

FILBERT: Talked. About Pete. Stories for the magazine. Asked about legal...and the present. Always shared.

ALICIA: Drank. Too much.

FILBERT: Generous young man.

(ALICIA thinks to herself. FILBERT looks at her.)

FILBERT: That boy is no good.

ALICIA: Linus?

FILBERT: Lies like poison.

ALICIA: I hardly know him. We'd met once.

FILBERT: I saw you look. Just like with Jimmy.

(ALICIA turns away. FILBERT puts his hand to his head, overcome with emotion.)

ALICIA: I'm sure you're mistaken. I hardly know...He's so cold. A stranger, really. He knew Jimmy. They were friends. That's all I know. And how he looks...I mean, I could recognize him in a crowd.

FILBERT: Jimmy...Jimmy...

(ALICIA goes to his side and touches him gently. SOPHIE comes out from the house with a medium-sized cardboard box. LINUS follows. SHE puts it on the table. LINUS and SOPHIE sit. FILBERT watches LINUS.)

LINUS: The inquest will now consider the evidence.

SOPHIE: I don't know how much it will help.

(SOPHIE reaches in the box and takes a handful of scraps of paper. LINUS looks in, then looks at SOPHIE.)

LINUS: You're kidding.

SOPHIE: Oh, that. I didn't mention.

LINUS: You have his gun?

SOPHIE: The police insisted. I felt funny, but they didn't need it. Open and shut case. His property.

LINUS: The weapon. And now for motive.

(LINUS takes a handful of notes. HE and SOPHIE look through them. ALICIA moves to the door.)

ALICIA: I'm calling a cab.

(ALICIA goes.)

SOPHIE: Can I ask you something?

LINUS (Not looking up): Hmm.

SOPHIE: Did Jimmy tell you? My divorce: did he really say another woman?

LINUS: (As he reads slips): Yes. No. Divorce. No reason.

(SOPHIE holds a slip up to him.)

SOPHIE: Here we go. G-O-V-R. And it's all crossed out.

(LINUS looks at it.)

SOPHIE: What do you think? Governor?

LINUS: Or Gov. R.

SOPHIE: Governor R.? What, Governor Ridley?

LINUS (Going back to slips): It's ambiguous at best.

SOPHIE: (Considering the slip): You know, Jimmy said, it must have been last month. I didn't give it much thought at the time. He said that Daddy was going to run for governor, but he dropped out. I didn't remember. I was just a girl then. Didn't pay attention. And he could hardly read...He had researched it. There was some kind of scandal, he said. I didn't believe him. I could tell, on the phone. He was drunk. (Pause.) Did you do it a lot? Get drunk with my brother?

LINUS: (Looking up vaguely): We saw each other regularly.

SOPHIE: How about some of that honesty?

LINUS: I saw him once a week. Sometimes his, sometimes mine. We'd talk and drink until late. Then the one visiting had to drive home.

SOPHIE: In the middle of the night?

LINUS: It was a game.

SOPHIE: A childish game.

LINUS: We're big boys. We knew what we were doing.

SOPHIE: I didn't know anything! You and your drinking games. He was seeing Alicia. Calling the judge!

FILBERT (Shaking head): Decent boy. Well-behaved.

LINUS: He held his cards close to his vest.

(LINUS goes back to the slips.)

SOPHIE: What about you? You know so much about my brother. What do I know about you? Your mother is a Caldecott. Jimmy told me. It must be true. You're named after him. Linus Caldecott. I remember from history class. Industrial Revolution.

LINUS: I'm sure you paid attention.

SOPHIE: I was more interested in boys. Art was my thing, though. How about you?

(LINUS stops for a second, then continues.)

SOPHIE: Your passion? For history. You do like it, don't you? I mean, you have to.

LINUS: There's nothing to like. One lays out the facts, considers cause, effect, correlation. Draws conclusion.

SOPHIE: But you must get excited.

LINUS: It already happened.

LINUS gets more slips from the box. SOPHIE looks through hers.)

SOPHIE: It's funny he set you up with Alicia. You hardly have anything in common. She's spent her life as part of the scenery. Away to college, home again. But you've seen so much. You couldn't settle for something like that. I wonder why he did it. (Sits back in chair.) I wonder why he didn't set up the two of us.

LINUS (Realizing, looking up): Her name was Alice.

SOPHIE: Who?

LINUS: The woman...you know. The French wedding. Alice, Alicia. The names. That's why he set us up.

(LINUS laughs. FILBERT stirs.)

FILBERT: He asked about a French wedding.

(LINUS and SOPHIE look at him.)

SOPHIE: When you talked to him?

FILBERT: Two Americans, French priest. Never consummated. It doesn't matter, see. He didn't get it. In France, it's only legal with a government official. Bureaucracy.

(LINUS goes back to the slips.)

LINUS (Shaking head): This is quite a show.

SOPHIE: Did he talk to you about Daddy? Running for governor?

FILBERT: It was an outrage, what they did to your father. No evidence. But what people would say. He wouldn't win. Disgraced, across the state...had to think of the family. Some time in the private sector, no sweat about getting the ambassadorship.

(FILBERT struggles with the last word. SOPHIE is surprised.)

SOPHIE: He was telling the truth. It really happened.

LINUS: Maybe he was writing a story. For the magazine.

SOPHIE: About Daddy?

LINUS: A big exposé. This time, he wouldn't have to make it up.

FILBERT: Respected, he was! Congressmen, reporters, secretaries: they thought the world...came tonight, to pay respect.

LINUS (Putting down slips): They only liked him because of the stories he told. His amusing flights of fancy.

FILBERT: He was charming.

LINUS: He never got to work before noon. Those late nights drinking, the visits, the phone calls.

SOPHIE: You were friends.

LINUS: Finally, visiting, calling in the middle of the night, every night. "Listen to me, Linus. You have to hear this." Stories about everyone. His friends, politicians, people in the news. Each one more outlandish than the last.

FILBERT (to himself): He told me stories.

(SOPHIE takes her slips.)

SOPHIE: Let's finish this.

LINUS: I couldn't stand the sound of his voice. The smell of liquor. Sure, I was drunk too, half the time. At last I said to him, on the phone...

(SOPHIE thrusts a handful of slips at him.)

SOPHIE: Linus.

LINUS: You want the truth? Here it is. I told him, on the phone: "Stop calling me. I can't listen to you - to your lies!" And I slammed it down. There's your truth.

(FILBERT stands, somewhat shakily.)

FILBERT: He was a journalist. It was his job.

LINUS: He manufactured fiction. About other people - everyone! Never a word about himself.

FILBERT: Take it back.

LINUS: No. I think we're onto something here. Why he did it. Because he saw what he had become - this empty thing, spouting wind-

(Filbert grows more upset, and takes a few steps toward LINUS.)

FILBERT: Take it back.

SOPHIE: We have to figure out the story.

LINUS (Standing): Don't you get it? There is no story. He made it up as he went along.

SOPHIE: He didn't make up everything.

LINUS: He embellished. Do you think he was able to keep it out of his work? (Throws slips to the ground.) Enough of this so-called evidence. Inquest has determined the motive. The collapse of a life built on lies. Lies, and liquor.

FILBERT: You smear his name! He was the best man of his age. (to SOPHIE): You are his sister.

SOPHIE: It's getting cold.

FILBERT: You are his sister.

SOPHIE (Vague, uncertain): I don't know.

LINUS: You can't excuse it. We're finally telling the truth about Jimmy. Who could only get by by making things up.

FILBERT: He lived by his wits!

LINUS: That's no life.

(FILBERT approaches LINUS, and the box.)

FILBERT: He was decent from the day he was born. It was you...you poisoned him.

LINUS: I didn't know him that long. (Remembers.) But he lied, all the time, long before he knew me. (to SOPHIE): When he was thirteen, he got in trouble at school. They did projects on the Civil War. A battle scene, or a craft. He did a newspaper, The Jamesboro Gazette, about a town in Tennessee. The battle of Jamesboro. Accounts of the battle, the townspeople. When the union was advancing, the men of the town met at night to plan. While they were out, a black regiment snuck into the plantations, killed the women and children in their beds. Next day, the townsmen slaughtered the Yankees in the fields.

FILBERT: (Shaking head): This is not fair.

LINUS: You know this story, Judge? Jimmy turned in his neat little newspaper. One problem: the teacher was not familiar with this particular battle. She checked. There was no battle of Jamesboro.

FILBERT: He was a boy.

LINUS: He made the whole thing up. Named the town after himself.

FILBERT: It was a joke.

LINUS: He was suspended from school. Told me about it once. It's true, isn't it? It happened. Sophie?

SOPHIE: It's true.

LINUS: He lied from day one.

FILBERT: Slander!

(LINUS reaches into the box and pulls out handfuls of slips.)

LINUS: Not if it's true! Look at this, Judge. Here's your proof, his notes. He plotted...he planned...made it up! (Throws the slips into the air.) Have a look. You'll see.

(FILBERT reaches into the box and draws out his hand, holding the gun.)

LINUS: The weapon. Check the paper trail. In the end it proves nothing.

(FILBERT points the gun at LINUS.)

FILBERT: Take it back.

(LINUS puts his hands in the air.)

LINUS (Mocking): You got me now! Oh, you got me.

FILBERT: Apologize!

(SOPHIE sees.)

SOPHIE (Upset, but not anxious): Linus!

LINUS: You don't get it. Just like Jimmy. Booze, guns...you never get truth with booze, and never with guns. It's just something to do.

SOPHIE (Coming over, calm): Come on.

FILBERT: You killed him!

LINUS: I confess! I pulled the trigger!

FILBERT: Your poison!

LINUS: Go ahead! Do it!

(FILBERT lets out a cry and pulls the trigger. The gun clicks. HE fires again. The gun clicks. HE looks at the gun. LINUS laughs uncontrollably.)

SOPHIE: It's empty.

LINUS Laughing, mocking with hands up): Shoot me! Shoot me!

(SOPHIE gently takes the gun from FILBERT and puts it back in the box.)

SOPHIE: Police...took the...bullets.

(FILBERT staggers backward. ALICIA comes out of the house. FILBERT looks around, confused. SOPHIE moves away.)

LINUS (Mocking, arms wide): Blow me away!

(LINUS laughs. ALICIA comes to FILBERT.)

ALICIA: Go home, Linus.

(LINUS stops laughing and looks at ALICIA. SOPHIE looks at LINUS and smiles slightly. ALICIA takes FILBERT's arm.)

ALICIA: Come on, Judge.

(FILBERT doesn't seem to recognize her.)

SOPHIE: You have a cab?

ALICIA: There's a long wait. I'm taking him.(to FILBERT): I'm taking you home.

(ALICIA guides FILBERT toward the house: not patronizing, but very gentle. LINUS watches her.)

FILBERT: Who are you again?

ALICIA: I'm Alicia Breen. I was Pete's friend, and Jimmy's.

FILBERT: And what's your name?

ALICIA: My name is Alicia Breen.

(ALICIA and FILBERT are gone. SOPHIE comes to LINUS. HE is still after looking at ALICIA.)

SOPHIE: It's getting on. Tomorrow already. Too late to drive to Baltimore.

(SOPHIE comes closer to him. LINUS runs a hand through his hair.)

LINUS: What am I going to do?

SOPHIE: (With a hand on his shoulder): You need to rest. I have this big old house all to myself. I was thinking, there's no reason you couldn't stay here. Just for the night. We could sleep in, go out to brunch.

(LINUS takes a few steps away from her, but SOPHIE stays with him.)

SOPHIE: Or we'll go to bed and sleep through the afternoon. But first, a cigarette. One last smoke before bed. (Touches his arm.) Come on, Linus.

(LINUS moves away. SOPHIE follows, reaching for his pocket.)

SOPHIE: The cigarettes. Linus.

(SOPHIE tries to take the cigarettes from his pocket. LINUS grabs her hand.)

LINUS: I can't.

SOPHIE: Linus.

(SOPHIE looks him in the eye. LINUS looks away, pulls off her hand, and hurries toward the house.)

LINUS: I have to go.

(SOPHIE watches him go, looking after him for a moment. Then SHE turns and looks at the slips of paper on the ground.)

Brian Holmes