CEDRIC is plunking at his basement piano. His phone begins to sing.
𝄞 i can’t take this kind of pressure; i must confess one more dusty road… 𝅘𝅥
He doesn’t bother checking it and instead ascends the stairs to reach the ground floor. He walks through the door adjoining the two apartments to enter BOB PANCAKE’s side of the townhouse.
MANDARC SOO is sitting upon the worn green couch. The large TV facing is off, casting a dark shadow over the room.
Though his back is to the door, the two men know they now share a space.
MANDARC is silent for a moment.
CEDRIC suddenly contracts in anger.
MINERVA CHARM, the eldest member of the CHARM household, had been an ally to their movement against the NSR. Her freedoms had been cut back severely after what they called the ‘Occupation’ had begun: TRENTE GAGARIN, the Chairperson’s daughter, had moved into the CHARM house and begun to compel the family to follow her mother’s politics. The teenaged CHARM daughter GEMMA seemed too naive to resist the woman’s charisma. Her brother DARREL appeared weak-willed and they expected he, too, would fall victim.
DAMMIT, MANDARC. THIS IS BAD.
MANDARC runs his fingers anxiously through his jet-black hair.
YEAH… I KNOW.
DAMN THE NSR!
MANDARC sits in silence while CEDRIC runs through his anger.
I TOLD… (pause) UGH!
FINE. FINE. OLD AGE. NOTHING WE COULD HAVE DONE.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT, IF WE CAN’T HAVE HER, AT LEAST THEY CAN’T EITHER.
More silence. There truly is nothing MANDARC can add to CEDRIC’s words.
HAD YOU MET HER?
IN THE DREAM. ONCE. TWICE. AS A YOUNG WOMAN.
SHE WAS HONEST AND TRUE. A DUTIFUL WOMAN.
SHE SERVED IN THE WAR. SHE WANTED TO HELP PEOPLE. HEAL THEM.
AND WE LET HER HOUSE BE TAKEN OVER … BY – BY THAT THING.
(quietly) THERE WAS NOTHING –
THEN BY OUR COMPLACENCY SHALL WE BE DAMNED!! OUR FEAR, OUR ‘PATIENCE’!
MANDARC’s voice takes on more energy. His head rises.
AND IF YOU’D GONE IN, GUNS BLAZING, HALF COCKED –
WHOSE NEXT OF KIN WOULD CALL FOR YOU?
YOU KNOW WHY.
MANDARC’s legs move, up down up down nervously, pulsing. He wants to turn the television on and pretend he’s back at the mansion.
CEDRIC walks into the apartment and yells up the stairs.
BOB, WE’RE GOING OUT.
CEDRIC turns back toward MANDARC, frozen awkwardly on the couch. He sits down on the other end.
WE HAVE TO GO GET KEVIN.
KEVIN MARSCAPONE, the only son of MYRTLE, lives next door to CEDRIC. The property had been acquired by her some time ago, on her father’s money and before she’d earned her fame serving in the War.
Both properties have been recently, or at least recently by their reckoning, remodeled, the facades redone in a staunchly flat stone and painted in a pale grey and teal split.
MANDARC follows CEDRIC, walking close behind him. The door to KEVIN’s townhouse is inset; on his porch is a chess table, its legs cluttered with dry leaves.
CEDRIC pounds on the door.
KEV! YOU IN THERE?
A strange moment of silence follows; the wind howls and leaves scatter across the pavement, but the pair are sheltered.
The door opens inward to reveal KEVIN MARSCAPONE, an auburn-haired man with wide shoulders.
CEDRIC, MANDARC. ENTER, FRIENDS.
The H-shaped room is cool and dark. MANDARC’s attention is drawn to a jukebox curiously similar to the Master’s, now emitting quiet, featureless music. KEVIN smells faintly of cigarettes.
WHAT CAN I HELP YOU WITH?
IT’S MINERVA. SHE’S DEAD.
YEAH. DEAD. THEY DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER WITH THE RITES.
I’LL GO START THE CAR.