// MARSCAPONE SR. RANCH //
It has been a cold winter in the suburbs of New York City. Clumps of dirty snow still cling to shelter underneath bushes and around neglected cars. MYRTLE MARSCAPONE, an elderly sorceress, sits in the living room of the pink home she’s dubbed ‘RINDLE ROSE’.
She came here months ago, quietly thinking of it as her retirement home. All but abandoning her studies, she fled from the hustle, willingly accepting the despair that even if she were able to develop her elusive Potion of Immortality, she’d be stuck as an old woman for the rest of days.
Some kind of ‘Judge Judy’ blares from the television, but MYRTLE’s attention wanes as she looks toward a small drawing on the wall.
It depicts MYRTLE just weeks after accepting the name MARSCAPONE from her ‘deceased’ husband. MYRTLE is dressed in a white wedding gown, lace collar set delicately about her thin neck. To her left is the man VINCENT MARSCAPONE. MYRTLE wears a wan smile, her dark hair drawn up and tied over her head. VINCENT is humorless, but exudes a tender peacefulness next to his young bride.
A moment of silence.
YOU REALLY WERE QUITE BEAUTIFUL.
MYRTLE is surprised by the interruption. The young vampire had a knack for sneaking about the house, but she’d sworn she’d been trying to listen more closely to his footsteps.
The silent stutter of someone who fears he’s put his foot in his mouth.
I… I DIDN’T MEAN IT… THAT WAY.
– BACK BEFORE MY HAIR GREYED. BACK BEFORE I BURIED MYSELF IN THE BOTTLE.
Shortly after her retirement to RINDLE ROSE, she had decided to start dying her hair.
She’d opted to use non-magical methods. The aisle of faces at the drug store had become her friend, each box promising to bring revitalization at the low low price of a single day of acrid stench.
But when the grey would start to creep itself again into her temples, she’d stumble back into the crowd of young women with their lucious locks and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to decide whether she should buy the same bottle or try something new.
Without looking at MANDARC, she sighs and draws her eyes from the drawing of her late husband and the young woman.
IS THERE ANY OF THE RABBIT’S EAR LEFT?
… NO, BUT I CAN GO GET SO –
THERE’S… UH. SOME OF THE CHEAP BRANDY I GOT –
MANDARC removes a small glass from an upper cabinet. The brandy is lying on its side on a low shelf. He’d bought it only to steep the fruit. He laments having purchased anything so low-quality, especially if he’d known the old woman would be stooping to imbibe it…
The bronze liquid gurgles gently from its container.
MANDARC finishes the glass with a splash of boiled water from the tea kettle, now left to room temperature.
I SHOULD TELL YOU THAT KEVIN IS ON HIS WAY.
MYRTLE’s singular son was progressing rapidly in his studies of the arcane. She recalls for a moment how weak he had been in the months following his rejection of Vampirism, but lately his successes had been invoking in her the familiar pangs of jealousy.
WHAT DOES HE WANT? THERE’S NOTHING LEFT FOR ME TO TEACH THE BOY.
I DON’T KNOW. HE DIDN’T SAY.
I WAS GOING TO GO OUT ON PATROL.
I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG HE’S GOING TO BE HERE.
NEITHER DO I BUT… I THOUGHT I’D GIVE YOU SOME SPACE.
MANDARC sets the glass down atop a cork coaster on the low-set table in front of MYRTLE. He leaves the room and opens the door to the back right bedroom. MYRTLE hears the window’s familiar scrape and knows that he’s left the house.
Soon, the glass of brandy is empty, the sides dripping into a tiny puddle at the bottom. Her cigarette is waning, lingering unwanted in her right hand. Its buzz flutters away, leaving the sad realization that it doesn’t provide the respite it once did.
MYRTLE picks up the cigarette and presses the embers against the bottom of her black melamine ashtray. The cigarette sizzles, releasing its last wisps of smoke into the air.
Her recognition of the crumbled filter fades when she hears KEVIN’s car drive up and crush frozen snow beneath its weight. The motor whirrs as he shifts gears to parallel park in front of the sidewalk. MYRTLE spies the last brandy collecting in the bottom of her cup and takes one last swig.
KEVIN tries the doorknob but it doesn’t budge. A jingle of keys lifted from his pocket, and the scratching of metal on metal.
MYRTLE stares down at her ashtray knowing she’s sitting vulnerable to his sight as soon as the door opens.
A blast of cold air and she’s no longer alone in the room. The door is soon shut again.
SORRY. I THOUGHT I LEFT IT OPEN.
KEVIN removes his coat and shoes.
THAT’S FINE. I’D PREFER YOU DIDN’T, ANYWAY.
His voice is muffled as he speaks while facing toward the coatrack.
When he turns around, the scene is quiet desperation. MYRTLE sits with her back to him, slumped over on the couch. In front of her lays a stack of magazines, a TV remote control, an empty glass, and the remains of a dozen cigarettes. The heavy smell of ash hangs in the air. The television chatters on, louder as it switches to commercial.
He notices the drawing of his mother and father hanging on the wall above the television.
I think she moved that.
(thinking) Yes. It was in the other room.
She pauses the conversation and KEVIN circles around to the back of the couch.
But the response is weak and uninspired. The tired sound of his mother’s depression causes an anger to rise in him.
OKAY. FIRST OFF, WE’RE TURNING OFF THIS CRAP.
He picks up the remote, assertively pounds the red button, and tosses it on the sofa.
HOW MANY CIGARETTES HAVE YOU HAD TODAY?
(thinking) I wonder where Mandarc is…
His tone demands attention. Her gaze rises to meet his eyes. His reproachful expression is embarrassing.
(thinking) This is my son…
But unlike VINCENT, whose voice KEVIN can trust to ring in his head at the most impassioned beckoning, looking at his mother in this silence seems to strain every muscle of attention.
Finally, she relents.
… I DON’T KNOW.
AND THAT’S EXACTLY THE PROBLEM. I KNOW WHEN YOU STOP COUNTING, YOU’VE HAD MORE THAN ENOUGH.
MYRTLE is barely listening.
(thinking) Isn’t it I who should be lecturing him…?
KEVIN looks around the room, realizing that his words are falling on deaf ears.
He walks into the kitchen and begins to prepare tea. MYRTLE sits silent, listening to the clanging, reticent to speak lest she betray her own sense of privacy.
The stovetop starts with a flicker of gas.
YOU’RE MOVING OUT OF HERE.
The formation of a command inspires her to defiance.
Again, the mother and child lock glances. The range whistles just audibly.
YOU’RE MOVING BACK TO THE TOWNHOUSE. I’M SICK OF YOU SMOKING YOURSELF TO DEATH IN THIS SHANTY.
WE SOLD –
But she stops herself mid-sentence with a horrible revelation.
She recalls sitting at that table in the fall… A pile of legalese in front of them, her son instructing her to sign here, there, then here…
(thinking) I didn’t read a word.
YOU REALLY THOUGHT I’D LET YOU SELL THE SCHOOL TO PANCAKES?
MYRTLE feels the shock of shame sap the energy from her boney form.
YOU SOLD IT TO ME.
Wind rattles the windows.
YOU TRICKED ME.
IT WAS ALL IN THE PAPERWORK.
MYRTLE rises from the couch and approaches the barstools set across the counter from whence KEVIN prepares tea.
WHICH YOU KNEW I WOULDN’T READ!
NOT MY PROBLEM. YOU WERE GOING TO THROW EVERYTHING AWAY YOU’VE WORKED FOR. EVERYTHING OUR FAMILY HAS WORKED FOR.
IT’S NOT YOURS TO PISS AWAY.
… DAMMIT KEV!
She turns away and seems to think of pacing about the room. But she’s tired.
YOU’RE NOT DEAD. YOU’RE NOT EVEN DYING. WE NEED YOU. LUCIA NEEDS YOU. I NEED YOU.
NO ONE NEEDS ME! I’M DONE TEACHING! I’M OLD AND TIRED AND READY TO DIE!
NO YOU’RE NOT. YOU’RE GOING TO RESUME YOUR WORK ON THE POTION.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW OF DYING?!
MYRTLE’s eyes heat with rage, but a moment’s reflection passes and she sees the age that’s creased itself across KEVIN’s face. It is the same staunch impassive stance of his father.
He refuses to speak.
And she turns herself from him to approach the window, where she uses the ledge to partially support her. She feels tired from standing.
The room is quiet until the tea whistles. KEVIN pours three cups, pushing the last one, plain, across the counter.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO REOPEN YOUR SCHOOL. BUT YOU WILL GIVE WHAT’S LEFT OF YOURSELF TO THOSE THAT NEED IT. OUR FRIENDS. LUCIA.
MYRTLE talks to the window.
(quietly) … YOU… TEACH HER.
KEVIN’s tea takes on a pale opaque hue from the milk he’s poured into it.
I CAN’T. I’VE … STARTED A NEW PROJECT.
He is sipping his tea when she turns back toward him. She looks strange in her dark hair, and yet, the grey had never seemed to suit her either.
She turns from the window and approaches the counter to retreive the tea he’s prepared for her.
It’s still quite hot. But she wants to drink it. Now.
SO YEAH. I WON’T HAVE THE TIME TO TEACH THE FINER ART OF FIREMAKING TO THE YOUNG GIRL.
THAT WAS ALWAYS YOUR JOB, MOTHER.
With quiet resignation, she stares into the mug, the amber liquid releasing silver vapor into the air.
WE REALLY DIDN’T SELL THE SCHOOL AFTER ALL?
KEVIN takes another drink.
BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS ‘WE’ STUFF IS. ‘YOU’ SOLD IT. IT’S MINE NOW.
MYRTLE looks up toward her son. It’s the closest thing to a joke he can muster.
I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE YOU TRICKED ME.
WASN’T HARD. YOU NEVER HAD MUCH ATTENTION FOR NON-MAGICAL DRIVEL.
I WAS DEPRESSED!
BUT AT LEAST YOU’LL HAVE SOMETHING TO DO BESIDES DRINK YOURSELF TO DEATH.
WE’LL GO AS SOON AS YOU’RE READY.
MYRTLE looks around the home, feeling suddenly remorseless.
MANDARC’S BEEN INSTRUCTED TO RETURN TO THE HOMESTEAD.
MYRTLE’s cheeks tighten at the realization that the old COUNT must have known this entire time.
HE’S NOT COMING WITH –
HE’S FAR TOO LAX WITH YOU. I CAN’T TRUST HIM TO SAY NO. I HAVE ONE OF DAD’S OLD ASSOCIATES SLATED TO HELP YOU KEEP AN EYE ON THE PLACE.
I DON’T NEED ANY –
MOM. PLEASE DON’T FIGHT THIS.
I … I WAS GLAD I KNEW YOU WERE LEAVING THIS PLACE SOON.
IT’S BEEN… COMPROMISED.
KEVIN appears forlorn over sharing this news with his mother.
He pulls a small flat box from his jacket.
I FOUND… THIS.
IN YOUR GARDEN.
KEVIN pushes the small box over the counter. She opens it to reveal a long hair curled in circles against the walls of the box. In the ribbons of dim light the hair shines a bright magenta.
IT’S THE ONLY EXPLANATION.
MYRTLE is speechless.
AND IT’S AS GOOD A REASON AS ANY TO GET YOU THE HELL OUT OF HERE.
MYRTLE replaces the lid and pushes the box back to her son.
She pauses a moment to breathe.
WHO’S OUR FRIEND?
KEVIN’s face gleams with the hope of hope.
HENRY?! GOOD OLD G.H.?
GOOD. OLD. G. H.
Cedric. I need your help with something.
I don't do that kind of work anymore.
Please don't make me be forceful.
I'm sending you the locs now.
... Peggy Hill?