Katie Letcher Lyle

Books & Articles:

Free Mel Greenberg (A Musical Comedy)

© Katie Letcher Lyle & Dick Sessoms, 1996

Excerpt:

Free Mel Greenbe

(Enter BILL wearing a Confederate soldier’s cap)

BILL

Hi, Hon!  Man, I just got the best deal on a dozen Civil War back-scratchers.  You know, the soldiers got fleas a lot, and these are gonna be worth gold some day!  And the guy threw in a bag of miniballs free!

RITA

Oh, Bill, we don't have the money to buy cornflakes, and you're buying back-scratchers?  And I suppose you didn't spend a penny over a hundred dollars for them.

BILL

Right! Exactly!  It was a great deal!

RITA

Bill, we could of lived on that for a month.  And you know as well as I do that Civil War miniballs are a dime a damn dozen around here.

BILL

Well, I can sell 'em to someone who isn't from here, Hon,  one of those Yankees who doesn't know a mini ball from a volley ball!

RITA

I don't think someone who didn't know what a miniball is would necessarily want to invest in one.

BILL

Aw, Hon. (silence)  Where is everybody?  Usually this place is packed this time a day. 

RITA

They're all star-struck about this movie.  What's goin on in this town is pretty much what you find all over a cow pasture. The way everyone was panting to go be in that movie, it sounded like an obscene phone call in here. (she sighs)  Did you pick up that prescription for your mother’s nerves?

BILL

Well, I-- not yet, I was working down on South Main Street  all afternoon.  I just came by to tell you that Roy wants me to go out to Goshen pass for a little night fishing.

RITA

You just go get that nerve medicine.  I can't take another night of your mother without it.  (Rita goes into kitchen)

BILL Sings

NOTION FOR GOSHEN (I) (sweet and yearny)

I got a notion for Goshen, the best place around to go,
I don't want the ocean; that mighty ocean
does not flow among the rocks and rills of Blue Ridge Hills.
I'll make a motion for Goshen, I won't miss the beach at all,
I won't be frightened by sharks a-biting
For they are small among the rocks and rills of Blue Ridge hills.
My locomotion's for Goshen, if I have to swim or row,
You ask me why oh why have I a notion for Goshen?
Here's all that I know:  it's the prettiest place from here to forever,
And it's where I want to go, any time,
It's where I love to go; it's so fine,
It's where I long to go.

(Bill waves, hesitates, departs.  Rita stands alone, dejectedly wiping the counter.) 


Act I, Sc.4, Keydet General, Tuesday afternoon.

(MEL's on the phone. Professors and Becky hanging around, pretending not to listen.)

MEL

What kind of podunk town is this?  What do you mean, you don't have any cars with red velvet interiors?  (knock at the door)  The one you gave me is too -- look.  I'll have to speak with you later.  If I'm ever going to get any horses in this town, -- --Someone very important is coming to speak with me. 

(Hangs up.)

(There is a loud aggressive knock on the door.  Everybody stops, stays in room.  Mel turns, but Miss Mary Alice barges in without waiting.)

MARY ALICE

Did that painted hussy beat me out here?

MEL

(puzzled) What? 

MARY ALICE

I'd swear that's Virginia Winchester's old Mary Kay Cadillac parked out front.  Lord knows, you can't miss that thing.  Did you rent it?

MEL

Yes --but --

MARY ALICE

Well, it's certainly no skin off my teeth, but that buggy leaves right much to be desired in my opinion.

MEL

Well, they couldn't find a fan belt in town for mine.  I'll have my Matador back in a day or two.  I admit I miss my burgundy leather upholstery.  And you are who?

MARY ALICE

Mary Alice Wilbourne.  You called me. 

MEL

(realizing this is the Rich One)  Oh!  Oh, please excuse me.  Glad to meet you, Ma'am.  Hey, please clear the room.  My appointment is here.  Everybody out. (to an attractive young lady.)  Uh, you there.  See my receptionist for a private appointment later.  Tell her I said to work you in somehow.

(pushes them out the door, patting her on fanny)  Thank you, thank you.  I can't use anybody with tan lines.  (The two professors remain behind hanging around the door.  But Mel has turned his attention to Miss Mary Alice)

MARY ALICE

So, you're Mr. Greenberg.  (looks him over critically)  Tell me, how many movies have you produced?  Twenty?  Fifty?  A hundred?

MEL

Well, uh-- maybe not quite that many. 

MARY ALICE

Oh, I like modesty in a man!  What have you done? Let me guess‑‑  Ben HurPlanet of the Apes

MEL

(nervously) Uh, mostly things in Europe you probably haven't heard of...

MARY ALICE

Europe!  Well, I met Maurice Chevalier once, that darling thing.  He kissed my hand.

MEL

I'm not a bit surprised!  You sit right down here, Miss Wilbourne.

MARY ALICE

Not Miss.  I'm Mrs. Wilbourne.  But everybody just calls me "Miss Mary Alice."  It's been that way since I slid buck‑naked out into this world. (slaps her thigh)

MEL

Uh -- (considering this) Yes, Ma'am, Miss MARY ALICE.  Can I get you some coffee?

MARY ALICE

(looking around her) You haven't got any bourbon, have you?

MEL

No, Ma'am, but I'm sure I can...

MARY ALICE

No, darling, that's okay.  I ought not to drink before noon anyway.

MEL

Oh, It's after noon.

MARY ALICE

It is?  In that case, reckon I got some catching up to do.

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